Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Corporate Statism grows in the US?

Executive Chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet, Eric Schmidt, says Google will “engineer” specific algorithms for RT and Sputnik to make their articles less prominent on the search engine’s news delivery services.
Alex Christoforou
Amazon launches a cloud service for US intelligence agencies
  • The introduction of the AWS Secret Region for the U.S. intelligence community comes six years after Amazon announced a cloud data center region for public-sector customers.
  • U.S. government agencies with sufficient secret-level access and contracts will also be able to use the new region.

Sputnik — Little Trouble in Big Bundestag: Sputnik's Guide to Merkel's Coalition Fiasco

Backgrounder on what's up in Deutschland.

Sputnik International
Little Trouble in Big Bundestag: Sputnik's Guide to Merkel's Coalition Fiasco


Strategic Culture Foundation
Germany"s Government Impasse: End of Merkel Era Is Within Sight
Alex Gorka

Trump Dual-hats Mulvaney at CFPB

Something else to keep an eye on as part of changes to bank regulation.

Doesn't understand the QE effects causing the GFC and subsequent credit contraction but not too bad otherwise; gets the direction right anyway:

One large downside to Dodd-Frank was that in order to hold the required capital, all banks decreased lending to shore-up their liquid holdings and meet the regulatory minimums. 
Without the ability to borrow funds, small businesses have a hard time raising money to create business. Growth in the larger economy is hampered by the absence of capital. 
Another downstream effect of banks needing to increase their liquid holdings was exponentially worse. Less liquid large banks needed to purchase and absorb the financial assets of more liquid large banks in order to meet the regulatory requirements. 
That’s the underlying problem for a Glass-Steagall type of regulation now. 
The Democrats created Dodd-Frank which: #1 generated constraints on the economy (less lending), #2 made fewer banking options available (banks merged), #3 made top banks even bigger. 
This problem is why President Trump and Secretary Mnuchin are working to create a parallel banking system of community and credit union banks, individually less than $40 billion in assets, that are external to Dodd Frank regulations and can act as the primary commercial banks for small to mid-sized businesses.

So they might be foregoing the current proposed policy change of elimination of risk-free assets in the computation of the Leverage Ratio for the big banks and instead creating a parallel small banking system with that regulatory feature.

Have to keep an eye on this going forward... imo this area of policy adjustment is more important in scale to the economy short-term than the current tax reform proposals which seem to be getting all the attention.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Bill Mitchel — Unemployment is miserable and doesn’t spawn an upsurge in personal creativity

Here is a summary of another interesting study I read last week (published March 30, 2017) – Happiness at Work – from academic researchers Jan‐Emmanuel De Neve and George Ward. It explores the relationship between happiness and labour force status, including whether an individual is employed or not and the types of jobs they are doing. The results reinforce a long literature, which emphatically concludes that people are devastated when they lose their jobs and do not adapt to unemployment as its duration increases. The unemployed are miserable and remain so even as they become entrenched in long-term unemployment. Further, they do not seem to sense (or exploit) a freedom to release some inner sense of creativity and purpose. The overwhelming proportion continually seek work – and relate their social status and life happiness to gaining a job, rather than living without a job on income support. The overwhelming conclusion is that “work makes up such an important part of our lives” and that result is robust across different countries and cultures. Being employed leads to much higher evaluations of the quality of life relative to being unemployed. And, nothing much has changed in this regard over the last 80 or so years. These results were well-known in the 1930s, for example. They have a strong bearing on the debate between income guarantees versus employment guarantees. The UBI proponents have produced no robust literature to refute these long-held findings.
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
Unemployment is miserable and doesn’t spawn an upsurge in personal creativity
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Samantha Eyler-Driscoll — Who Are the Top 1 Percent in America? The Answer from New Research Might Surprise You

A new paper challenges Thomas Piketty’s portrayal of an income distribution dominated at the top by passive rentiers who do nothing to earn their money, arguing that income inequality in America today is driven by the working rich.
ProMarket — The blog of the Stigler Center at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business
Who Are the Top 1 Percent in America? The Answer from New Research Might Surprise You
Samantha Eyler-Driscoll

Brian Romanchuk — Kindle Version of SFC Models Book Available...

I just wanted to let everyone know that I have a Kindle edition of the SFC models textbook available. However, the ebook edition is a "textbook" version of the book -- effectively the same thing as a PDF with fixed pages. Not all Kindle readers will support this format (particularly older ones). I believe that the Kindle store will not sell you the book if your reader does not support it, but I suggest caution. I just glanced at the book on my iPad, and it looked OK (which is unsurprising, since an iPad is set up to render PDF files).
I will be out curling tonight, and so I will not be able to give the book a more careful look-over until tomorrow. Unless you insist on being an early adopter, I would suggest waiting a few days before purchasing, in case I decide to make some fixes. (I had a hard time testing what the live version of the ebook would look like on a tablet; I had to buy the book to see what the final result is.)...
Bond Economics
Kindle Version of SFC Models Book Available...
Brian Romanchuk

Max Blumenthal - Russiagate 'Experts' Include Bigots and Frauds

See how evil the people are behind Russiagate which the MSM are getting their information from.

Jon Hellevig — Despite Sanctions Russia’s GDP Shoots over $4 Trillion – The Difference between Nominal GDP and PPP GDP Explained

According to fresh figures from the IMF (October 24), Russia’s GDP is expected to exceed $4 trillion first time ever. By this measure, Russia is the 6th largest economy in the world, virtually on par with Germany, who scored $4.15 trillion.
At the same time, China has solidified its position as the world’s indisputably largest economy. With its $23 trillion, China’s economy is already bigger 1/5th than the U.S. economy with its $19 trillion [based on PPP]....
Emerging countries, and not only China, are developing quickly as they play catch up, while the developed countries are topping out in comparison.

Hellevig explains PPP versus nominal GDP in terms of the economic goods that are real and financial goods that are monetary. Economic comparison is best done using actual output rather than nominal value. Most of the post is about this. It is worth reading in full. Here are the highlights.
These GDP figures are calculated according to the PPP method. PPP stands for purchasing power parity and it aims to capture the value of the real economic output contrary to the method of rendering GDP in nominal USD figures. The nominal method, converts a country’s GDP calculated in the local currency to the USD using the market exchange rates. The figures calculated with the nominal method is what the media tends to report. But, the Nominal GDP method contains several grave errors. There’s a huge calculation bias in favor of the countries possessing the dominant world currencies, that is, the Western countries. Thanks to the dominant currencies, their GDPs tend to be inflated in value as compared with the countries with currencies that are not widely used globally. This way, the economies of the Western countries would seem bigger than they are if one only goes by the nominal market exchange value....
Before we proceed further, I must note that any GDP (Gross Domestic Product) calculation is a statistical exercise based on a host of assumptions on how to arrive to the total value of everything produced. Therefore, the step from Nominal GDP to PPP method is just one of the thousands of assumptions, the one method is not based on more exact input data than the other.
The volume of the economy is expressed in a monetary form, because that is the only way you can make all the millions of products statistically comparable, but what we really need to know is how much of each product has been produced, how many cars, how many houses, how many tomatoes etc. But, by using the USD exchange rate as the multiplier we lose the comparability. (Global GDP comparisons are always given in USD).
If one kilo of tomatoes costs 90 rubles or 1.5 USD in Russia and 4.5 USD in the States, then according to the Nominal method the U.S. economy would be 3 times bigger by this parameter, even though both countries would produce the same amount of tomatoes. In fact, on average, almost everything is 3 or 4 times less expensive in Russia, therefore, by converting the Russian prices to USD according by the market exchange rate, Russia’s economy would seem 3 to 4 times smaller than it actually is. This is where the PPP method comes in to remove the calculation biases and currency fluctuations. The PPP method looks beyond the US dollar, striving to capture the actual volume of goods and services produced in a country. In comparing the size of the economy of different countries, that is precisely what we want to do, to measure their real output of goods and services.
The starting point for the PPP GDP is the Nominal GDP calculated in the local currency of any country. This is then adjusted by the PPP coefficient, which is the average price difference between products in the given country and the U.S. The local GDP figure is multiplied with the PPP coefficient and this way we reach the more accurate comparison of the actual volumes of the economies. We are still using the USD as the currency for comparing all the world’s economies, but have adjusted them to eliminate the market exchange rate biases.
Another way to express this is to say that we check how much of any given product we can by for one dollar in various countries.…
I often find myself in online arguments with Nominal GDP apologists, where I go through all these arguments and many more. But, they just go on and on, till we come to the final argument that would shut them up – literally. I tell them that Russia’s nominal GDP in 2016 was $1.28 trillion and it is expected to reach $1.47 trillion by 2017. That’s a 14.5% growth, I point out, and then I ask them to explain how Russia has reached this absolutely spectacular growth. “That’s not real growth, it’s just the exchange rate difference when the ruble appreciated,” they frown. – Exactly, that’s what it is. That’s what the Nominal GDP is, an illusion based on fluctuating and biased exchange rates.

Edward S. Herman — Fake News on Russia and Other Official Enemies: The New York Times, 1917–2017

It has been amusing to watch the New York Times and other mainstream media outlets express their dismay over the rise and spread of “fake news.” These publications take it as an obvious truth that what they provide is straightforward, unbiased, fact-based reporting. They do offer such news, but they also provide a steady flow of their own varied forms of fake news, often by disseminating false or misleading information supplied to them by the national security state, other branches of government, and sites of corporate power.
An important form of mainstream media fake news is that which is presented while suppressing information that calls the preferred news into question.…
Controlling the narrative.

Monthly Review
Fake News on Russia and Other Official Enemies: The New York Times, 1917–2017
Edward S. Herman
Edward Samuel Herman (April 7, 1925 – November 11, 2017) was professor emeritus of finance at the Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania and a media analyst with a specialty in corporate and regulatory issues as well as political economy. He also taught at Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. He is probably best known for developing the propaganda model of media criticism with Noam Chomsky. Wikipedia

See also
Recent revelations have simple, credible explanations that are overshadowed by conspiracy theories and hype.
Bloomberg View
Simpler Explanations Are Usually Correct. Even on Russia.
Leonid Bershidsky

David F. Ruccio — The arc of (pre)history bends towards greater inequality

As it turns out, Nature (unfortunately behind a paywall) has just published a study in which the authors attempt to estimate the degree of wealth inequality in ancient societies for which we do not have written records.* What they did is collect data from 63 archaeological sites or groups of sites, used the distribution of house sizes as a proxy for wealth, and assigned Gini coefficients to each society.
What they are able to show is that wealth disparities generally increased with the domestication of plants and animals and with increased sociopolitical scale. The basic idea is that wealth disparities cannot accumulate within lineages until mechanisms for the transmission of wealth across generations become common, as is much more likely within sedentary societies. Thus, less wealth is typically transmitted across generations in hunter-gatherer and horticultural societies than in agricultural or pastoral societies....
The story of primitive accumulation, enclosure of the commons, rise of class structure and privileged classes, and extraction of economic rent. This post is about putting some numbers on the story that Marx told.

Occasional Links & Commentary
The arc of (pre)history bends towards greater inequality
David F. Ruccio | Professor of Economics University of Notre Dame Notre Dame

See also by David Ruccio

Getting some perspective on inequality. The numbers.

Real-World Economics Review Blog
Monopoly men*

The Corruption of Capitalism by Guy Standing: review by Brian Davey

Guy Standing’s The Corruption of Capitalism (Biteback Publishing 2017) is a powerful attack on rentier capitalism and, very explicitly, a call to revolt. It is very informative and the detailed factual descriptions that Standing puts before his readers are intended to make them angry. He succeeded with me and probably will with most readers. Standing is at his best describing the features of crony capitalism that are totally different from the neo-liberal story of free markets that justifies it. His charge is that neo-liberal economic policies are based on lies which he lists in order to describe what really happens....
Corporate statism.

The Corruption of Capitalism by Guy Standing: review by Brian Davey

Neil Wilson — Thoughts about the Job Guarantee: A Reply

A response to the Nov 17 thoughts of Simon Wren-Lewis
Simon Wren-Lewis has put up a very considered post on the Job Guarantee which deserves an appropriate response. I have been calling for Simon to write about the Job Guarantee for a very long time, and I’m grateful he has done so. It is a very good piece from an alternative point of view and I hope I can do it justice in this reply.
Modern Money Matters
Thoughts about the Job Guarantee: A Reply
Neil Wilson

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Steve Roth — “In the Beginning…Was the Unit of Account” – Twelve Myths About Money

Jan Kregel presented a great dinner speech at the recent Modern Monetary Theory Conference, touching on some of the fundamental ways we think about money and economics. (Sorry, no recording or transcript available.) I had a brief conversation with him afterwards, and we followed up with a few emails.
The quotation in the title of this post is condensed from the final line of one of his emails — a line that made me laugh out loud:
“So I guess we start from that — in the beginning was the word, and the word was the unit of account?”
Okay, yes: money-dweeb humor. But the implications are kind of profound.
The Word. Logos. Indeed. I’ve written about this before — how writing in its earliest forms emerged from tally sheets, accounting. Even, that its emergence was the first step on the road to outsourcing our memory onto iPhones, maybe even (only somewhat tongue in cheek) causing human brains to shrink over millennia.
Jan’s great line, and our conversations, prompt me to set down some thoughts on this ever-vexed subject. Herewith, twelve widespread usages and conceptions that, in my experience, tie our money discussions in knots. Please assume that anything you don’t like here is mine, not Jan’s, and apologies to those who have heard some of this from me before....
“In the Beginning…Was the Unit of Account” – Twelve Myths About Money
Steve Roth

Brian Romanchuk — On Using NAIRU To Analyse A Job Guarantee

Professor Simon Wren-Lewis wrote "Some thoughts about the Job Guarantee," in which he makes an attempt to analyse a Job Guarantee using the NAIRU concept. The analysis suffers from the well-known defects of NAIRU.
In the article, he argues that a Job Guarantee implementation would cause a one-time upward shock to wages. He argues that this is not "acknowledged" by MMT authors, even though it appears this effect is common knowledge to anyone who has read the MMT literature. As a result, that is a curious argument. However, he then flips to an analysis where the Job Guarantee has no effect on inflation....
Bond Economics
On Using NAIRU To Analyse A Job Guarantee
Brian Romanchuk

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Alexander Mercouris — Does the United States have a future? A new book by Gilbert Doctorow (book review)

Good read. The review is mostly about Russia, despite the title.

The Duran

Kaivey - Internet Censorship

Jonathon Freedland of the Guardian wrote this article titled, From Peppa Pig to Trump, the web is shaping us. It’s time we fought back, and he starts off by saying about the horror of a children's cartoon which parents might leave their kids in front of while they get on with stuff thinking it's a good way to keep them quite. But the cartoon, he says, may have been unofficially digitally altered to drive up lucrative ratings and could contain disturbing images like cartoon characters having their heads chopped off. 

Now this topic about the content on the internet keeps turning up at the Guardian and yet for over 20 years children have been able to access porn on their mobile/ cell phones and there has hardly been a mention about in the media, but now, all of a sudden, what we can view on the internet has become big news. 

Freedland eventually says this in the below quote and we get the real reason for the article - MSM is trying to soften us up to having the internet censored. 

Jonathon Freedland says - 

Perhaps this political point is illuminated best by politics. There’s much focus, rightly, on Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, with Facebook’s admission, for instance, that Moscow-funded messages were seen by 150 million Americans. But such enormous reach was only possible because of the way Facebook works, an algorithm designed to “maximise engagement”, showing people nuggets of news that they are likely to pass on – even when that “news” is bogus and fact-free. 
That was the system those infamous Macedonian teenagers realised they could exploit for cash – spreading the lie that Pope Francis had endorsed Donald Trump – and which meant that in the last three months of the US campaign, the biggest fake election stories generated more engagementthan the biggest, and true, stories produced by the likes of the New York Times and the Washington Post. It’s the same system the Trump campaign itself used to such great effect, with its micro-targeted ads aimed at specific demographic groups, which were then shared and shared again.

Now it only took me a few seconds to find the the Pope endorses Trump article that Jonathon Freedland is referring to. Here's an excerpt - 

We’ve received many questions asking whether Pope Francis has endorsed Donald Trump, and a few asking if the actor Tom Hanks has voiced his support for Trump. Neither has. 
Let’s start with the pope. 
Pope Francis’ supposed endorsement of Trump originated on the satirical website WTOE 5 News, with the headline “Pope Francis Shocks World, Endorses Donald Trump for President, Releases Statement.” In the bogus statement, the pope is purported to comment on the FBI investigation of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, writing, “The FBI, in refusing to recommend prosecution after admitting that the law had been broken on multiple occasions by Secretary Clinton, has exposed itself as corrupted by political forces that have become far too powerful.” 
In the made-up article, the pope then goes on to acknowledge that he is not endorsing Trump as the pope, but rather “as a concerned citizen of the world.” 
WTOE 5 News owns up to being a fake news website in its “about” page. “WTOE 5 News is a fantasy news website,” it says. “Most articles on wtoe5news.com are satire or pure fantasy.”
So in other words, this article turned up on a comedy site where everyone is told that its articles are satirical, fun, and comical . The MSM is being mischievous. 

Now all governments know that their citizens will only fight in a just war and so for centuries they have lied to us using propaganda to demonize the enemy, but now, for the first time in history, people can easily find the truth online and so this is a real threat to the ruling elite.

Jonathon Freedland - From Peppa Pig to Trump, the web is shaping us.

Lee Camp - The Truth About RT

Recently Alex Salmond of the Scottish National Party started working for RT this week and the UK Guardian hissed and booed calling him a narcissist and an egotist. The Guardian nowadays often doesn't allow readers comments when the topic is about Russia, or will close the comments section down quickly if the comments are negative so I keep missing my chance to reply even though I know my post will be removed.

Lee Camp says that all the best journalists now work for RT. He says how the former director of National Intelligence said that RT was influencing American politics by hosting third party candidates, but 50% of American vote for independents so why doesn't the MSM give them more coverage?

The Department of Justice ordered RT to register as a foreign agent, yet refuses to cite what laws were broken. Furthermore, the government has none nothing to demonstrate how RT journalists are taking orders from the Kremlin, which is what’s required by FARA. They have not demonstrated that RT employees have lobbied Congress on behalf of the Russian government, and this move is clearly political since ACTUAL foreign lobbyists like the P0desta Group and A I P A C were not threatened with arrests. RT is a test case for a wider campaign of media suppression. The fact is the political establishment is scared to death that more and more people are abandoning the big 6 corporate media, and does not want you hearing outside perspectives.

Michael Roberts — US rate of profit update

The latest data for net fixed assets in the US have been released, enabling me to update the calculations for the US rate of profit a la Marx up to 2016.
Last year, I did the calculations with the help of Anders Axelsson from Sweden, who not only replicated the results to ensure their accuracy (and found mistakes!), but also produced a manual for carrying out the calculations that anybody could use.
As I did last year and in previous years, I have also updated the rate of profit using the method of calculation by Andrew Kliman (AK) that he first carried out in his book, The failure of capitalist production. AK measures the US rate of profit based on corporate sector profits only and using the BEA’s historic cost of net fixed assets as the denominator.
I also calculate the US rate of profit with a slight variation from AK’s approach, in that I depreciate gross profits by current depreciation rather than historic depreciation as AK does, but I still use historic costs for net fixed assets. The theoretical and methodological reasons for doing this can be found here and in the appendix in my book, The Long Depression, on measuring the rate of profit.
Michael Roberts Blog
US rate of profit update
Michael Roberts

Paul Craig Roberts - Who Gets to Push the Nuclear Button?

William Binney is the former National Security Agency (NSA) official who created NSA’s mass surveillance program for digital information. He says that if the Russian government had conspired with Trump, hacked the Democratic National Committee’s computer, or in any way influenced the outcome of the last US presidential election, the National Security Agency would have the digital evidence. The fact that we have been listening to the unsubstantiated charges that comprise “Russiagate” for more than one year without being presented with a scrap of evidence is complete proof that Russiagate is entirely fake news.
The fake news originated with CIA director John Brennan and FBI director Comey conspiring with the DNC in an effort to discredit and unseat President Trump and at a minimum prevent him from damaging the vast power and profit of the military/security complex by normalizing relations with Russia.
Consider what this means. The directors of the CIA and FBI made up a totally false story about a newly elected President and fed the lies to the presstitutes and Congress. The presstitutes never asked for a drop of evidence and enlarged the Brennan/Comey lie with a claim that all 17 US intelligence agencies had concluded that Russia had interfered. In actual fact, a handful of carefully selected people in three of the agencies had prepared, perhaps under duress, a conditional report that had no evidence behind it.
That it was fake news created to control President Trump was completely obvious, but corrupt security officials, corrupt senators and representatives, a corrupt DNC, and corrupt media used constant repetition to turn a lie into truth.

William Blum - A Brief History of U.S. Interventions: 1945 to the Present (1999)

The engine of American foreign policy has been fueled not by a devotion to any kind of morality, but rather by the necessity to serve other imperatives, which can be summarized as follows:

* making the world safe for American corporations;

* enhancing the financial statements of defense contractors at home who have contributed generously to members of congress;

* preventing the rise of any society that might serve as a successful example of an alternative to the capitalist model;

* extending political and economic hegemony over as wide an area as possible, as befits a "great power."

This in the name of fighting a supposed moral crusade against what cold warriors convinced themselves, and the American people, was the existence of an evil International Communist Conspiracy, which in fact never existed, evil or not.

The United States carried out extremely serious interventions into more than 70 nations in this period.

Third World traveler 

Eli Cook — The Pricing of Progress and the Origins of GDP

The key element that distinguishes capitalist societies from previous forms of social organization is not the existence of markets or money but rather capital investment, the act through which basic elements of society and life—including natural resources, technological discoveries, cultural productions, urban spaces, educational institutions, human beings, and the nation-state—are transformed (or “capitalized”) into income-generating assets valued and allocated in accordance with their capacity to make money and yield profitable returns.
In my book, I argue that economic indicators and the pricing of progress emerged out of such acts of capital investment as capitalist forms of quantification and valuation used to manage or invest in railroad corporations, textile factories, real estate holdings, or slave plantations slowly but surely escaped the narrow confines of the business world and seeped into nearly every nook and cranny of American society. As a burgeoning “investmentality” led American businessmen and policy makers to quantify not only their portfolio but their nation as a for-profit investment, the progress of its inhabitants, free or enslaved, came to be valued according to their moneymaking abilities. 
Follow the capital, therefore, and you will find the origins of GDP and our current obsession with monetized metrics...
To conclude, by the time GDP was finally invented during the Great Depression, Americans already had much experience with the notion that one could measure social success by calculating the income-bearing capacities of the nation. The rise of GDP, therefore, is not the opening scene in the rise of modern economic indicators, but rather the final act of a global story that began not in twentieth century economic departments, government bureaucracies or think tanks but rather with the enclosure of English lands, the enslavement of African bodies and the capitalization of American life in the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Capitalism is not about markets. It is about economies based on capital investment. Capital investment did not become a major factor until the development of technology made industry possible.

Previously capital investment was in land and labor under feudal conditions, and ships involved in international trade under mercantilist conditions.

The development of machinery and the subsequent development of finance ushered in industrial capital as the dominant economic force.

Economic growth came to be viewed chiefly in terms of capital formation and accumulation rather than agricultural production, resource extraction, and trade.

Economic Sociology and Political Economy
The Pricing of Progress and the Origins of GDP
Eli Cook | Assistant Professor of History at the University of Haifa

Shannon Monnat and David L. Brown — How Despair Helped Drive Trump to Victory

Economic, social and health decline in the industrial Midwest may have been a major factor in the 2016 US presidential election, Monnat and Brown’s INET research finds, with people living in distressed areas swinging behind Trump in greater numbers. Trump performed well within these landscapes of despair – places that have borne the brunt of declines in manufacturing, mining, and related industries since the 1970s and are now struggling with opioids, disability, poor health, and family problems.
Hillary's "deplorables"?

These people should have been part of the base of a Democratic Party that is the party of FDR rather than Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama. First there were the Reagan Democrats and now there are the Trump Democrats.

It's wasn't "the Russians" that did the Democrats in, with the GOP controlling not only the presidency but also both branches of the federal legislature and the majority of governorships and state legislatures.

The Democratic Party under the New Democrats lost the plot and remain clueless, trying to blame "the Russians" for their own corruption and ineptitude that brought them down.

However, the GOP establishment lost control of the Party to a base that was fed up with false promises.

Now both party establishments are trying to wrest back control, which is further dividing the country not so much on party lines as class structure, with populism rising in the bases of the both parties as the precariat swells.

How Despair Helped Drive Trump to Victory
Shannon Monnat, Associate Professor, Syracuse University, and David L. Brown, Professor Emeritus, Cornell University
ht Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism

See also
Feelings of uncertainty and losing control bring a preference for “dominant” versus “prestige” leaders
Scientific American
Explaining the Global Rise of “Dominance” Leadership
Niro Sivanathan, Hemant Kakkar

Dan Goodin — Pentagon contractor leaves social media spy archive wide open on Amazon

Another "oops."

Ars Technica
Pentagon contractor leaves social media spy archive wide open on Amazon
Dan Goodin | Security Editor

Friday, November 17, 2017

Evan Jones — The Censorship of Jacques Sapir, French Dissident

Not just the US. Jacques Sapir could be compared with Noam Chomsky in the US.
In an open letter to Macos, Sapir claims that this act again him, seemingly anodyne, is extraordinary. It is representative of the intolerance towards anti-establishment opinion and of the repression that grows inexorably whether in France (the anti-terrorist law very worrying in this regard)(1) or in other countries, like Spain.
Liberalism in the West is under threat as elites feel the heat.
This is not a one-off event. Journalist Aude Lancelin was sacked from her deputy director’s role at Nouvel-Observateur (L’Obs) in May 2016. The brutal sacking occurred on the eve of a Board meeting presided over by the paper’s very wealthy proprietors.(2) Her co-deputy Pascal Riché was moved sideways. Mme Lancelin has the misfortune to have a questioning intelligence, and being close to critical thinkers, not least the anti-establishment philosopher-economist Frédéric Lordon (her partner)....

Mike Whitney — Brennan and Clapper: Elder Statesmen or Serial Fabricators?

These investigations are taking place because powerful elites want to vilify an emerging geopolitical rival (Russia) and prevent Trump from normalizing relations with Moscow, not because there is any evidence of criminal wrongdoing. As the Intel analysts themselves acknowledge, there is no proof of criminal wrongdoing or any other wrongdoing for that matter. What there is, is a political agenda to discredit Trump and demonize Russia. That’s the fuel that is driving the present campaign.
Russia-gate is not about ‘meddling’, it’s about politics. And Brennan and Clapper are critical players in the current drama....
Still all allegation and no evidence.
As we noted earlier, Brennan and Clapper are central figures in the Russia-gate story, but their records show we can’t trust what they have to say. They are like the eyewitness in a murder trial whose testimony is ‘thrown out’ because he is exposed as a compulsive liar. The same rule applies to Clapper and Brennan, that is, when the main proponents of the Russia hacking story are shown to be untrustworthy, we must discount what they have to say....
Brennan and Clapper: Elder Statesmen or Serial Fabricators?
Mike Whitney

Philip M Giraldi — How America’s Deep State Operates to Control the Message

It is not possible to overstate the power of certain constituencies and corporate lobbies in the United States. These pressure groups, joined by powerful government agencies, many of which have secret agendas that focus on national security, constitute what is increasingly being recognized as “Deep State America.” Deep State is the widespread belief that there exists in many countries an entrenched and largely hidden infrastructure that really controls the national narrative and runs things. It explains why, for example, a country like the United States is perpetually at war even though the wars have been disastrous failures ever since Korea and have not made the nation more secure.
To be sure, certain constituencies have benefitted from global instability and conflict, to include defense industries, big government in general, and the national security state. They all work together and hand-in-hand with the corporate media to sustain the narrative that the United States is perpetually under threat, even though it is not....
Strategic Culture Foundation
How America’s Deep State Operates to Control the Message
Philip M Giraldi | Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest and former counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer of the CIA

Gordon M. Hahn — Foreign Involvement in February 2014 Maidan Terrorist Sniper Attack

It needs to be acknowledged that, yes, as some claimed there was foreign involvement in the 20 February 2014 terrorist sniper attacks on Ukraine’s Maidan that killed some 47, wounded more, and sparked the overthrow of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. However, according to information from an Italian documentary film (www.occhidellaguerra.it/ucraina-le-verita-nascoste-parlano-cecchini-maidan/) and published on Facebook by the world’s leading expert on the Maidan sniper attack, Ottawa University Professor Ivan Katchanovski, it appears not to have been a group managed by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s advisor, Vyacheslav Surkov, or a Russian ‘wet team’ as claimed by US ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt. Rather, it included both Lithuanian and Georgian snipers recruited by Mamuka Mamushvili, a Georgian military advisor to former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, Washington’s ‘beacon of democracy’ in Eurasia, and an American military operative, Brian Christopher Boyenger, formerly of the famous 101st Airborne Division, based in Fort Campbell, Tennessee (www.facebook.com/ivan.katchanovski/posts/1805064986190046). Mamuka Mumashvili organized and fought with the Georgian National Legion, which included according to one FB post I show below, “three retired US officers.” One of the Georgian snipers allegedly recruited by Mamulashvili and Boyenger was a member of Saakashvili’s body guard detail at the time....
Russian and Eurasian Politics
Foreign Involvement in February 2014 Maidan Terrorist Sniper Attack
Gordon M. Hahn, analyst and Advisory Board member at Geostrategic Forecasting Corporation, member of the Executive Advisory Board at the American Institute of Geostrategy, a contributing expert for Russia Direct, a senior researcher at the Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies, Akribis Group, and; and an analyst and consultant for Russia – Other Points of View

Alexander Dugan — Hegel and the Platonic Leap Down

This may be of interest to some here. It's an extract from a longer work, so some prior understanding is assumed. Unfortunately, it may not be understandable without having read what went before, unless one is familiar with the philosophical context of what he is talking about.

In this short excerpt, Alexander Dugin provides an summary of view of Hegel's project and how it fits into subsequent history and remains significant today, from his own point of view, of course, although in my view he gets the thrust of Hegel right. Dugin warns that Hegel's thought is complex, so any brief summary will necessarily be wanting. Nevertheless, Dugin offers an interesting way to view Hegel's project as Absolute Idealism.

So what? Hegel was enormously influence in his day but he is now largely forgotten. However, his influence persists in the influence he exerted on some major figures in subsequent history, both as Hegelians and also as anti-Hegelians. Much of Dugin's philosophical work is exploring this dialectic between traditionalists and conservatives that hold worldviews characterized by the Great Chain of Being and those holding liberal, materialist and positivist world views characterized by the scientific-humanistic worldview. 

The contemporary world is still struggle to reconcile these apparently opposing worldviews as globalization rolls on. These worldviews are not only opposing but also in conflict, and this conflict will apparently continue until there is a victor or a synthesis is achieved. Dugin gets this, and this synthesis is what his The Fourth Political Theory (summary) is about. (An English translation of The Fourth Political Theory is available for download at Archive.org.)

One way to summarize the issue as its is in the opposition of liberalism and conservatism. Liberalism is about individual freedom. Conservatism is about personal responsibility. The synthesis of these opposing forces is freedom and responsibility. Conservatives condemn liberals for thinking that freedom implies license. Liberals criticize conservatives for conflating responsibility with following authority blindly. 

However, the issue of traditionalism and modernism and its extension to postmodernism is much more oppositional since more foundational issues are involved, being grounded in world views that seem impossible to reconcile — the Great Chain of Being and scientism. How this will be dealt with historically is still in the process of unfolding, and there is no end of history.

Incidentally, Alexander Dugin is a controversial character, and yes, he is a character. Be warned that most of what appears in the West as supposedly objective criticism of him, his work and the part he plays in Russia is ill-informed and highly biased. 

I am not saying that one needs to agree with him, but his point of view is worth taking into account. He is likely to be remembered as a major thinker of his time. While one may not agree, Dugin does illumine the issues and inform the debate from a well-worked out stance. 

CSSI- Eurasianist Archive
Hegel and the Platonic Leap Down
Alexander Dugan
Translated by Jafe Arnold

Alastair Crooke — Trump’s Saudi Scheme Unravels

President Trump and his son-in-law bet that the young Saudi crown prince could execute a plan to reshape the Mideast, but the scheme quickly unraveled revealing a dangerous amateur hour, writes ex-British diplomat Alastair Crooke.
Consortium News
Trump’s Saudi Scheme Unravels
Alastair Crooke | founder and director of the Conflicts Forum, and former British diplomat and senior figure in British intelligence and in European Union diplomacy


The AntiMedia
The Truth About Why Saudi Arabia and Israel Are Really Working Together
Darius Shahtahmasebi


Significant discussions between Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Xi Jinping signals China's intention to deepen cooperation with Saudi Arabia .

THIS is real china

To think in just 30 years the Chinese have created all this, look and gasp. The downside, the pollution and the hardship that working people went through, but this happened to us too as we built our civilization. Now China is raising wages to create more home demand and is also trying to do something about the pollution.