Ron Paul Institute: ‘Choose Your Liar’ Democracy

‘Choose Your Liar’ Democracy comes via the Ron Paul Institute and is written by James Bovard.

The final weeks of a presidential campaign is one of the best opportunities to view political perfidy in spectacular colors. While the media lectures Americans about their civic duty to vote to save the nation, the candidates continue conniving nonstop with no respect for the facts or decency. After the election is settled, the media and the political establishment will announce “the system worked” and Americans must again respect and obey their rulers (unless Trump is re-elected, of course).

Politicians have mandated warning labels for almost everything except voting booths. Federal agencies require full disclosure of risks for everything from mortgages to volunteering for medical experiments. People are entitled to far more information when testing baldness cures than when casting votes that could lead to war.

Hopefully Americans will not be as gullible after the election as many are before casting their ballot. Dishonesty is the distinguishing trait of the political class, going all the way back to ancient Athens and the satirical plays of Aristophanes. In 1799, Thomas Jefferson observed, “Whenever a man casts a longing eye on offices, a rottenness begins in his conduct.”

A successful politician is often merely someone who bamboozled more voters than the other liar running for office. Political campaigns rely on deception because, as economist John Burnheim explained, “Overwhelming pressures to lie, to pretend, to conceal… are always present when the object to be sold is intangible and its properties unverifiable until long after the time when the decision to buy can be reversed.”

Lying has long been part of presidents’ job description: the names of Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon practically became synonyms for deceit. Former president George W. Bush is being rehabilitated by the media nowadays. But Bush made “232 false statements about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and another 28 false statements about Iraq’s links to Al Qaeda,” as the Center for Public Integrity reported. Bush’s determination to dishonestly drag America into another Middle East war led to the deaths of more than 4,000 American troops and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians.

President Barack Obama received sainthood even before his election and he retained his halo even though he falsely promised dozens of times that people could keep their doctor after Obamacare’s decrees took effect. Obama campaigned in 2008 on a peace platform and then bombed seven nations. Obama promised “no more illegal wiretapping” but he unleashed the National Security Administration to target any American “searching the web for suspicious stuff.”

The 2016 presidential race was a landmark: never before had American voters been obliged to choose between two such widely despised candidates. Routine deceit by both candidates helped make “post-truth” the 2016 word of the year according to the Oxford English Dictionary.

The 2020 race is also deluging voters with near-record levels of malarkey. Joe Biden denied referring to American soldiers as “stupid bastards” (despite a video of his spiel), denies that his son Hunter has done anything wrong (despite the pesky laptop emails), and exaggerated the Covid death toll a hundredfold. Trump has ludicrously portrayed his pandemic response as faultless, wildly exaggerates the economic achievements of his administration, and perennially denies the damage inflicted here by his trade wars. The one certainty is that the 2020 election will not be won by an honest man.

If a new president is elected next month, the media will insist that “this time is different” and that Americans can safely trust the White House again. In reality, Election Day merely marks a brief intermission between campaigning lies and governing lies. Yet, if Biden wins, Americans will be encouraged to pretend that election victories expunge the sins – or at least the character defects – of triumphant politicians. Winners supposedly deserve a “honeymoon” where people pretend they are trustworthy enough to enact new laws and launch ruinous new federal programs.

But nothing happens after Election Day to make politicians less venal. Presidents and members of Congress take oaths to uphold and defend the Constitution. But, as former U.S. senator Bob Kerrey explained in 2013, “The problem is, the second your hand comes off the Bible, you become an asshole.” When elected officials scorn the Constitution, politics becomes little more than promising and pilfering.

America is increasingly a “Garbage In, Garbage Out” democracy. Politicians dupe citizens and then invoke deluded votes to sanctify and stretch their power. In the post-9/11 era, politicians treat Americans like medical orderlies treat Alzheimer’s patients, telling them anything that will keep them subdued. It doesn’t matter what untruths the people are fed because they will surely forget them.

Lies subvert democracy by crippling citizens’ ability to rein in government. As Willie Brown, the former mayor of San Francisco and mentor for Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris, said, “In politics, a lie unanswered becomes truth within 24 hours.” Any lie accepted by a sufficient number of ignorant voters becomes a political truth.

Disregarding political lies paves the way for official crimes. As former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg declared, “When we tolerate dishonesty, we get criminality.” If elected politicians can lie and cover up their actions, then how can any reasonable person not expect to be oppressed?

Politicians assure that voters’ apparent consent is irrevocable regardless of how many lies permeated election campaigns. But there is no such thing as retroactive self-government. Belatedly exposing political lies does nothing to resurrect lost freedoms.

Deceiving voters is as much a violation of their rights as barring them from the polling booth. Only if we assume that people consent to being lied to can pervasive political lies be reconciled with democracy. And if people consent to deceit, elections become little more than patients choosing who will inject their sedatives.

President Obama, in his January 2017 farewell address, criticized Americans who “blame the leaders we elect without examining our own role in electing them.” By Obama’s standard, the perpetual perfidy of the political class would justify condemning voters almost regardless of how they cast their ballots. Obama also condemned people who did not vote. Obama thereby created a no-win situation – except for politicians.

Obama, in his 2016 speech to the Democratic National Convention, also declared, “We do not look to be ruled.” Regardless of the irony of a heavy-handed ruler tossing out that line, it rings true for tens of millions of Americans who make their own liberty their supreme political value.

In the short run, the political game is rigged so that winners capture far more power than many, if not most, Americans would willingly cede to them and vastly more than the Constitution permits. But citizens can reduce the hazards they face by remembering that winning votes never redeemed a rascal. The winner of next month’s presidential election will be a clear and present danger to Americans’ rights and liberties regardless of his margin of victory.

Of Two Minds: Corruption Is Now Our Way of Life

Charles Hugh Smith at Of Two Minds writes Corruption Is Now Our Way of Life on the collapse of the USA.

Systemic corruption and the implosion of the social contract have consequences: It’s called collapse.

Social and economic decay is so glacial that only those few who remember an earlier set-point are equipped to even notice the decline. That’s the position we find ourselves in today.

Many Americans will discount the systemic corruption that characterizes the American way of life because they’ve known nothing but systemic corruption. They’ve habituated to it because they have no memory of a time when looting wasn’t legalized and maximizing self-enrichment by any means available wasn’t the unwritten law of the land.

If you don’t yet see America as little more than an intertwined collection of skims, scams, frauds, embezzlements, lies, gaming-the-system, obfuscation of risk and exploitation of the masses by insiders, please read How Corruption is Becoming America’s Operating System. (nakedcapitalism.com, via Cheryl A.)

Here on oftwominds.com, you might want to read No Wrongdoing Here, Just 6,300 Corporate Fines and Settlements. (May 2015)

When JP Morgan Chase engaged in fraud and was fined a wrist-slap $1 billion, nobody went to prison because nobody ever goes to prison for corporate fraud and criminal collusion: JPMorgan to pay almost $1 billion fine to resolve U.S. investigation into trading practices.

Simply put, corruption is cost-free in America because most of it is legal. And whatever is still illegal is never applied to the elites and insiders, except (as per Communist regime corruption) for a rare show trial where an example is made of an egregious fall-guy (think Bernie Madoff: whistleblowers’ repeated attempts to expose the fraud to regulators were blown off for years. It was only when Madoff ripped off wealthy and powerful insiders did he go down.)

There are three primary sources for the complete systemic corruption of America. One is the transition from civic responsibility for the social contract and the national interest to winner-take-most legalized looting.

This transition is visible in the history of empires in the final stage of collapse. The assumption underlying the social order slides from a shared duty to the nation and fellow citizens to an obsession with evading civic duties: military service, taxes, and following the rules are all avoided by insiders and elites, and this moral/social rot then corrupts the entire social order as elites and insiders lean ever more heavily on the remaining productive class to pay the taxes and provide the military muscle to defend their wealth.

That corruption is now everywhere in America is obvious to all but those adamantly blinded by denial. The JP Morgans pay fines as a cost of doing corrupt business, while “public servants” game the system to maximize their pensions with a variety of tricks: colluding to boost the overtime of the retiring insider; finding a quack physican to sign off on a fake “heart murmur” so the insider pays no taxes on their “disability” check, and so on in an endless parade of lies, scams, skims and insider tricks.

The excuse is always the same: everybody does it. This is of course the collapse not just of the social contract but of morality in general: anything goes and winners take most. Insiders look the other way lest their own skims and scams be contested, and elites and insiders view those who aren’t skimming and scamming as chumps to be pitied.

The second dynamic is that financialization has completely corrupted the American economy, and that corruption has now spread to the political and social orders. Once the financial sector conquered the real economy, it began siphoning 95% of the economy’s wealth to the top .01% and their toadies, lackeys, apologists, enforcers and technocrats.

As they hollowed out the real economy, distorted incentives and made moral hazard the guiding principle of the American way of life, the recipients of financialization’s domination gained the wealth to buy political power from the pathetically corruptible political class.

The corruption that we call financialization corrupted democracy and undermined the social contract by eviscerating the value of labor and creating a pay-to-play political order that’s a mockery of democracy.

The third factor is the decay of America’s institutions into fronts for personal gain. While Higher Education insiders are masters of self-serving PR, the truth is they’re not concerned about their debt-serf “customers” (students) learning the essential skills needed in the tumultuous decades ahead–they’re worried that the revenues needed to pay their enormous salaries and benefits might dry up.

“Education” is nothing but a front for the corruption of self-enrichment by the elites and insiders at the top.

The same is true of “healthcare.” The concern of insiders isn’t the declining health of America’s populace, it’s the decline in revenues as fewer “customers” come in for the financial scalping of emergency care.

“Healthcare” is nothing but a front for the corruption of self-enrichment by the elites and insiders at the top.

Thanks to the Federal Reserve’s endless free money for financiers and endless federal borrow-and-blow deficits, the unstated belief is since there’s endless “money”, my petty frauds and skims won’t even dent the feeding trough–there’s always another trillion or three to skim and scam, and there will never be any limit to the feeding trough.

There is no limit until the system implodes. Then the collapse becomes limitless.

Ironic, isn’t it? The oh-so convenient belief that America’s wealth and power are eternal and godlike in their glory fosters the crass corruption that has weakened America to the point of no return: systemic fragility and brittleness.

American Exceptionalism has been turned on its head: America is now as perniciously corrupt as any developing-world nation we smugly felt so superior to, and with extremes of wealth and income inequality that surpass even the most rapacious kleptocracies. This destabilizing “exceptionalism” is now the defining characteristic of the American economy, society and political order.

Systemic corruption and the implosion of the social contract have consequences: It’s called collapse, baby, and the rot is now too deep to reverse.

Of Two Minds: Isn’t It Obvious We Need a New System?

From Charles Hugh Smith at Of Two Minds, Isn’t It Obvious We Need a New System?

Why do we tolerate such a corrupt, undemocratic, exploitive, elite-dominated system? Because we have no other choice? No, we do have a choice.

Isn’t it obvious that we need an alternative economic system that isn’t controlled by corporations, the government and the central bank for the exclusive benefit of insiders and elites? Isn’t it obvious that the current system has failed the majority of participants, and hence the ubiquitous sensations of:

1) being ignored by the insiders / elites who run the current system to their own benefit

2) being trapped in an economy that’s been stripped of social / upward mobility

3) being stripmined / exploited by domestic and globalized elites

4) disgust / frustration with the self-enriching political class that serves corporate/elite/insider interests above all else.

My 50 years of work have given me a ringside seat in how the economy has changed from inclusive to extractive. My jobs have ranged from agricultural field worker to running my own yard service to hospitality to construction to print media (free-lancer) to financial services (quant shop) to non-profit education to political rabble-rousing (unpaid) and my current profession as marginalized, misfit author-blogger (my specialty appears to be getting shadow-banned by Big Tech monopolist extractors).

My colleague Mark Jeftovic explains how systems can be inclusive or extractive. Systems that automatically bail out the greediest, wealthiest socially-useless speculators via the Federal Reserve are not just extractive, they’re exploitive and predatory. The Reversion Will be Mean.

Extractive systems are also intrinsically fragile in crises as the trapped / exploited behind the oars tend to abandon ship at the first chance, and the real-world sinews of the economy have been weakened by the bailouts and financial engineering. In effect, the fragile, brittle shell doesn’t need much of a shock to implode. (If you want to see this process in real time, look around you.)

Yes, finance was extractive in 1970, but it was a much smaller part of the economy. Back then, finance was less than 5% of the economy. Now, by some measures, it’s a third of the economy.

Yes, corporations bought political influence and exploited everything within reach but their reach wasn’t as global and their rapacity not quite as refined. Sociopathic exploitation such as stock buybacks and Big Pharma advertising directly to consumers were illegal.

The economy was not dependent on endless asset bubbles and bailouts of the most venal speculators. The Federal Reserve whines that it has to bail out the greediest scum of the nation again and again and inflate one asset bubble after another because otherwise this sucker’s going down.

Over the past 50 years, the ladders of upward mobility have splintered. Now making all the sacrifices to follow the conventional script (get a college diploma, etc.) don’t lead to secure employment. The fundamental backdrop of the economy is that labor’s share of the economy is in permanent decline: the value of labor has been in a freefall, a freefall masked by bogus “low inflation” and other trickery. (See chart below)

In 1970, costs for essentials were low and regulatory burdens on small business were modest. You could rent an apartment for a week’s pay or less. (Even in expensive Honolulu I could rent a studio apartment for half a week’s pay.)

Even in the mid-1980s, I could get a building permit for an entire house in one day; now the process takes weeks or even months.

Now costs and regulatory burdens have soared to crushing levels. This plays perfectly to government bureaucracies, which have monopolies on the power to raise junk fees, penalties, etc. at will, and Corporate America, whose core drive is eliminate any and all competition so profits can soar on the basis of monopoly, not on superior products or services.

People feel ignored because they are ignored. People feel trapped because they are trapped. People feel stripmined because they are being stripmined. People feel angry at the political Establishment because they no longer live in a democracy.

Can we be honest for a change and admit that ours is an extractive system in which anything goes for the wealthy and powerful and winners take most?

The few pockets of the economy not under the thumb of corporations, government or the central bank– for example, the cash / informal economy–are still dependent on corporations, government and the Fed for their currency, government subsidies and products/services.

Isn’t it obvious that we need an alternative system that isn’t run for the benefit of elites and insiders? What would such a system look like?

One, it would be voluntary / opt-in. Nobody would be forced to participate. All anyone would need to bring is a willingness to be useful and belong to something doing good work on behalf of the community rather than a bunch of parasitic, predatory billionaires.

Two, it would be self-organizing, meaning there is no ruling body that can be corrupted. Bitcoin is a real-world example of a self-organizing system. There is no cabal at the top who can be corrupted; bitcoin is distributed and decentralized. It is self-organizing, as is Nature.

Three, the operations of the system would be automated so human bias would have few opportunities to carve out unearned privileges. Note that most of the systems you interact with are fully automated. (Try reaching a human being in customer service.) The only difference is these systems are secret “black boxes” designed to maximize the profits of cartel-monopoly corporations, not serve the nation or its communities. They only serve the owners, 2/3rds of whom just so happen to be the top 0.1%.

Open-source software runs a great many enterprises and systems and does so without secret “black box” algorithms known only to the exploiters.

Four, it would have its own money, a cryptocurrency that comes into being in only one way: as payment for useful, purposeful labor that benefits the community in some way. All the technology for such a labor-backed cryptocurrency is already in hand.

My 50 years of work in a variety of sectors and jobs has made such a system “obvious” to me, and so I’ve written a book ( A Hacker’s Teleology) to explain how such a system would work and why it’s “obvious.” You can read excerpts of the book in this free PDF and read the story behind the book and the Introduction.

Why do we tolerate such a corrupt, undemocratic, exploitive, elite-dominated system? Because we have no other choice? No, we do have a choice. The first step to outline the values, processes and goals of an alternative system that actually works for everyone and our planet.

I’ve taken a stab at outlining such a system, so why not check it out? If you can come up with a better one, then get it out there for the rest of us to study.

We do have a choice. But we have to take it. If we’re unwilling to make any systemic changes, then we truly are trapped–not by them (whomever they might be) but by our own unwillingness to accept that systemic change is now necessary if we’re to have a future that’s beneficial to all.

 

Rutherford Institute: Since 9/11, the Government’s Answer to Every Problem Has Been More Government

From Constitutional law attorney John Whitehead at The Rutherford Institute, Since 9/11, the Government’s Answer to Every Problem Has Been More Government

“A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take away everything that you have.”—Anonymous

Have you noticed that the government’s answer to every problem is more government—at taxpayer expense—and less individual liberty?

The Great Depression. The World Wars. The 9/11 terror attacks. The COVID-19 pandemic.

Every crisis—manufactured or otherwise—since the nation’s early beginnings has become a make-work opportunity for the government to expand its reach and its power at taxpayer expense while limiting our freedoms at every turn.

Indeed, the history of the United States is a testament to the old adage that liberty decreases as government (and government bureaucracy) grows. To put it another way, as government expands, liberty contracts.

To the police state, this COVID-19 pandemic has been a huge boon, like winning the biggest jackpot in the lottery. Certainly, it will prove to be a windfall for those who profit from government expenditures and expansions.

Given the rate at which the government has been devising new ways to spend our money and establish itself as the “solution” to all of our worldly problems, this current crisis will most likely end up ushering in the largest expansion of government power since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

This is how the emergency state operates, after all.

From 9/11 to COVID-19, “we the people” have acted the part of the helpless, gullible victims desperately in need of the government to save us from whatever danger threatens. In turn, the government has been all too accommodating and eager while also expanding its power and authority in the so-called name of national security.

As chief correspondent Dan Balz asks for The Washington Post, “Government is everywhere now. Where does it go next?

When it comes to the power players that call the shots, there is no end to their voracious appetite for more: more money, more power, more control.

This expansion of government power is also increasing our federal debt in unprecedented leaps and bounds. Yet the government isn’t just borrowing outrageous amounts of money to keep the country afloat. It’s also borrowing indecent sums to pay for programs it can’t afford.

The government’s primary response to this COVID-19 pandemic—flooding the market with borrowed money in the amount of trillions of dollars for stimulus payments, unemployment insurance expansions, and loans to prop up small businesses and to keep big companies afloat—has pushed the country even deeper in debt.

By “the country,” I really mean the taxpayers. And by “the taxpayers,” it’s really future generations who will be shackled to debt loads they may never be able to pay back.

This is how you impoverish the future.

Democrats and Republicans alike have done this.

Without fail, every president within the last 50 years has expanded the nation’s debt. When President Trump took office on January 20, 2017, the national debt—the amount the federal government has borrowed over the years and must pay back—was a whopping $19.9 trillion. Despite Trump’s pledge to drain the swamp and eliminate the debt, the federal debt is now approaching $27 trillion and is on track to surpass $78 trillion by 2028.

For many years now, economists have warned that economic collapse would be inevitable if the national debt ever surpassed the size of the U.S. economy. The government passed that point in June 2020 and has yet to put the brakes on its spending.

In fact, the Federal Reserve just keeps printing more money in order to prop up the economy and float the debt.

At some point, something’s got to give.

As it now stands, the U.S. is among the most indebted countries in the world.

Almost a third of the $27 trillion national debt is owed to foreign entities such as Japan and China.

Most of the debt, however, is owed to the public.

How is this even possible? Essentially, it’s a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul.

First, the government requires taxpayers to pay a portion of their salaries to the Social Security Trust Fund. The government then turns around and borrows from Social Security to cover its spending needs. Then the government raises taxes or prints more money in order to pay out whatever is needed to the retirees.

It’s a form of convoluted economics that only makes sense to government bureaucrats looking to make a profit off the backs of the taxpayers.

According to the U.S. Debt Clock, each taxpayer’s share of the national debt is $214,000 and growing.

That’s almost five times more than the median income for what Americans earn in a year. That’s also almost five times more than the average American has in savings, across savings accounts, checking accounts, money market accounts, call deposit accounts, and prepaid cards. Almost 60% of Americans are so financially strapped that they don’t have even $500 in savings and nothing whatsoever put away for retirement.

Just the interest that must be paid on the national debt every year is $338 billion and growing. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the fastest growing item in the budget over the next decade will be interest on the debt.

As the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget reported in 2019, before COVID spending pushed the country over the fiscal cliff, “Interest payments will rise from $325 billion last year to $928 billion by 2029, a nearly threefold increase. If tax cuts and spending increases are extended, interest will exceed $1 trillion and set a new record as a share of the economy. The federal government will spend more on interest than on Medicaid or children by 2020. By 2024, interest will match defense spending.

Bottom line: The U.S. government—and that includes the current administration—is spending money it doesn’t have on programs it can’t afford, and “we the taxpayers” are the ones who will have to pay for it.

As financial analyst Kristin Tate explains, “When the government has its debt bill come due, all of us will be on the hook.”

Despite the tax burden “we the people” are made to bear, we have no real say in how the government runs, or how our taxpayer funds are used, but we’re being forced to pay through the nose, anyhow.

We have no real say, but that doesn’t prevent the government from fleecing us at every turn and forcing us to pay for endless wars that do more to fund the military industrial complex than protect us, pork barrel projects that produce little to nothing, and a police state that serves only to imprison us within its walls.

All the while the government continues to do whatever it wants—levy taxes, rack up debt, spend outrageously and irresponsibly—with little thought for the plight of its citizens.

This brings me to a curious point: what the future will look like ten years from now, when the federal debt is expected to surpass $78 trillion, an unsustainable level of debt that will result in unprecedented economic hardship for anyone that does not belong to the wealthy elite.

Interestingly enough, that timeline coincides with the government’s vision of the future as depicted in a Pentagon training video created by the Army for U.S. Special Operations Command.

According to the video, the government is anticipating trouble (read: civil unrest), which is code for anything that challenges the government’s authority, wealth and power, and is grooming its armed forces (including its heavily armed federal agents) accordingly to solve future domestic political and social problems.

The training video, titled “Megacities: Urban Future, the Emerging Complexity,” is only five minutes long, but it provides a chilling glimpse of what the government expects the world to look like in 2030, a world bedeviled by “criminal networks,” “substandard infrastructure,” “religious and ethnic tensions,” “impoverishment, slums,” “open landfills, over-burdened sewers,” a “growing mass of unemployed,” and an urban landscape in which the prosperous economic elite must be protected from the impoverishment of the have nots.

And then comes the kicker.

Three-and-a-half minutes into the Pentagon’s dystopian vision of “a world of Robert Kaplan-esque urban hellscapes — brutal and anarchic supercities filled with gangs of youth-gone-wild, a restive underclass, criminal syndicates, and bands of malicious hackers,” the ominous voice of the narrator speaks of a need to “drain the swamps.”

Drain the swamps.

Surely, we’ve heard that phrase before?

Ah yes.

Emblazoned on t-shirts and signs, shouted at rallies, and used as a rallying cry among Trump supporters, “drain the swamp” became one of Donald Trump’s most-used campaign slogans.

Far from draining the politically corrupt swamps of Washington DC of lobbyists and special interest groups, however, the Trump Administration has further mired us in a sweltering bog of corruption and self-serving tactics.

Funny how the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Now the government has adopted its own plans for swamp-draining, only it wants to use the military to drain the swamps of futuristic urban American cities of “noncombatants and engage the remaining adversaries in high intensity conflict within.”

And who are these noncombatants, a military term that refers to civilians who are not engaged in fighting during a war?

They are, according to the Pentagon, “adversaries.”

They are “threats.”

They are the “enemy.”

They are people who don’t support the government, people who live in fast-growing urban communities, people who may be less well-off economically than the government and corporate elite, people who engage in protests, people who are unemployed, people who engage in crime (in keeping with the government’s fast-growing, overly broad definition of what constitutes a crime).

In other words, in the eyes of the U.S. military, noncombatants are American citizens a.k.a. domestic extremists a.k.a. enemy combatants who must be identified, targeted, detained, contained and, if necessary, eliminated…(continues)

Zero Hedge: Pelosi Says There Should Be No Presidential Debates

From Zero Hedge, “I Don’t Think There Should Be Any Debates” Says Pelosi, Calling Them An “Exercise In Skullduggery”. In order to protect Biden who has recently come under fire for exhibiting symptoms of dementia, top Democrats have been coming up with any reasons to avoid a Presidential debate.

Nancy Pelosi has just joined the chorus of prominent Democrats trying desperately to avoid placing Joe Biden in front of the proverbial firing squad in a debate with President Trump.

“I don’t think that there should be any debates,” Pelosi said on Thursday, one day after President Trump demanded Biden take a drug test before the two square off.

I wouldn’t legitimize a conversation with him – nor a debate in terms of the presidency of the United States,” she added.

Pelosi said that Trump was “disgraceful” when he ‘stalked’ Hillary Clinton during the 2016 debate by walking near her, and that he will probably “act in a way that is beneath the dignity of the presidency.”

“I think he will also belittle what the debates are supposed to be about. And they’re not to be about skulduggery on the part of somebody who has no respect for the office he holds, much less the democratic process.

“I don’t think that he should dignify that conversation with Donald Trump.”

Pelosi then suggested that each candidate could hold separate ‘conversations’ with voters, saying: “Let that be a conversation with the American people, not an exercise in skulduggery.”

Watch:

Pelosi is far from the first Democrat trying to avoid a Trump-Biden debate. As Rick Moran wrote via PJMedia earlier this month:

*  *  *

Democrats around the country have begun to pressure the Biden campaign to call off all debates with Donald Trump due to the coronavirus pandemic, they say.

In truth, the reason they don’t want Biden to debate Trump is that they don’t think Trump will play by their rules. The president would take over the debate and make it about what he wants, not what Biden wants.

Democrats are also worried about Biden’s mental stamina and his ability to remain engaged for an hour and a half during a debate.

Newsweek:

Democratic strategists and supporters of Vice President Joe Biden are urging him not to debate President Donald Trump in the lead-up to Election Day, citing Trump’s publicity stunts and disregard for the rules in 2016. Meanwhile Biden backers, including some conservatives, applauded the University of Notre Dame and the University of Michigan for cancelling their scheduled debates over COVID-19 concerns.

Former White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart joined several Democratic Party strategists in bluntly advising Biden, “whatever you do, don’t debate Trump.” Speaking on CNN Saturday, Lockhart said Trump shouldn’t be given another platform which will enable him to “repeat lies,” which he said occurred in the 2016 debates against Hillary Clinton.

Trump has a knack for exaggeration and hyperbole that Democrats don’t like. It’s very effective in debates and Biden would spend most of his time on the defensive.

Automatic Earth Blog: Are The Tables Starting To Turn?

…according to a Zogby Analytics poll, Trump’s job approval numbers are now at record high levels. And I know polls -and pollsters- can be biased, and so can the press quoting them, but to see three in a row, Reuters/Ipsos, Rasmussen, Zogby, all reporting similar movement, may still be significant…

Dr. Samuel Langdon Preaches “Government Corrupted by Vice”

This is an excerpt from a sermon from Dr. Samuel Langdon in 1775 after being named president of Harvard College and given before the Congress of the colony of Massachusetts Bay.

And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy Counsellors as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called the City of Righteousness, the faithful City. – Isaiah 1:26

We have lived to see the time when British Liberty is just ready to expire;—when that constitution of government which has so long been the glory and strength of the English nation, is deeply undermined and ready to tumble into ruins;—when America is threatened with cruel oppression, and the arm of power is stretched out against New-England, and especially against this Colony, to compel us to submit to the arbitrary acts of legislators who are not our representatives, and who will not themselves bear the least part of the burdens which, without mercy, they are laying upon us. The most formal and solemn grants of Kings to our ancestors are deemed by our oppressors as of little value; and they have mutilated the Charter of this Colony in the most essential parts, upon false representations▪ and new invented maxims of policy, without the least regard to any legal process. We are no longer permitted to fix our eyes on the faithful of the land, and trust in the wisdom of their counsels, and the equity of their judgment; but men in whom we can have no confidence,—whose principles are subversive of our liberties,—whose aim is to exercise lordship over us, and share among themselves the public wealth:—men who are ready to serve any master, and execute the most unrighteous decrees for high wages,—whose faces we never saw before, and whose interests and connexions may be far divided from us by the wide atlantick,—are to be set over us as counsellors and judges, at the pleasure of those who have the riches and power of the nation in their hands, and whose noblest plan is to subjugate the Colonies first, and then the whole nation to their will.

That we might not have it in our power to refuse the most absolute submission to their unlimited claims of authority, they have not only endeavored to terrify us with fleets and armies sent to our Capital, and distressed and put an end to our trade, particularly that important branch of it, the fishery; but at length attempted, by a sudden march of a body of troops in the night, to seize and destroy one of our magazines, formed by the people merely for their own security; if, after such formidable military preparations on the other side, matters should be pushed to an extremity. By this, as might well be expected, a skirmish was brought on; and it is most evident, from a variety of concurring circumstances, as well as numerous depositions both of the prisoners taken by us at that time, and our own men then on the spot only as spectators, that the fire began first on the side of the King’s troops. At least five or six of our inhabitants were murderously kill’d by the Regulars at Lexington, before any man attempted to return the fire, and when they were actually complying with the command to disperse: and two more of our brethren were likewise kill’d at Concord-Bridge by a fire from the King’s soldiers, before the engagement began on our side. But whatever credit falsehoods transmited to Great-Britain, from the other side, may gain, the matter may be rested entirely on this,— that he that arms himself to commit a robbery, and demands the traveller’s purse, by the terror of Instant death, is the first aggressor, though the other should take the advantage of discharging his pistol first and killing the robber.

The alarm was sudden; but in a very short time spread far and wide: the nearest neighbours in haste ran together, to assist their brethren, and save their country. Not more than three or four hundred met in season and bravely attacked and repulsed the enemies of liberty, who retreated with great precipitation. But by the help of a strong reinforcement, notwithstanding a close pur|suit, and continual loss on their side, they acted the part of Robbers and Savages, by burning, plundering, and damaging almost every house in their way, to the utmost of their power, murdering the unarmed and helpless, and not regarding the weaknesses of the tender sex▪ until they had secured themselves beyond the reach of our terrifying arms…

We have used our utmost endeavors, by repeated humble petitions and remonstrances,— by a series of unanswerable reasonings published from the Press, in which the dispute has been fairly stated, and the justice of our opposition clearly demonstrated,—and by the mediation of some of the noblest and most faithful friends of the British constitution, who have powerfully plead our cause in Parliament,—to prevent such measures as may soon reduce the body politic to a miserable, dismembred, dying trunk, though lately the terror of all Europe. But our King, as if impelled by some strange fatality, is resolved to reason with us only by the roar of his Cannon, and the pointed arguments of musquets and bayonets. Because we refuse submission to the despotic power of a ministerial Parliament, our own Sovereign, to whom we have been always ready to swear true allegiance,—whose authority we never meant to cast off,—who might have continued happy in the cheerful obedience of as faithful subjects as any in his dominions,—has given us up to the rage of his Ministers, to be seized at sea by the rapacious commanders of every little sloop of war and piratical cutter, and to be plundered and massacred by land by mercenary troops, who know no distinction betwixt an enemy and a brother, between right and wrong; but only, like brutal pursuers, to hunt and seize the prey pointed out by their masters.

We must keep our eyes fixed on the supreme government of the ETERNAL KING, as directing all events, setting up or pulling down the Kings of the earth at his pleasure, suffering the best forms of human government to degenerate and go to ruin by corruption; or restoring the decayed constitutions of kingdoms and states, by reviving public virtue and religion, and granting the favorable interpositions of his providence. To this our text leads us; and though I hope to be excused on this occasion from a formal dis|course on the words in a doctrinal way, yet I must not wholly pass over the religious instruction contained in them.

Let us consider—That for the sins of a people God may suffer the best government to be corrupted, or entirely dissolved; and that nothing but a general reformation can give good ground to hope that the public happiness will be restored, by the recovery of the strength and perfection of the state, and that divine providence will interpose to fill every department with wise and good men.

Isaiah prophesied about the time of the captivity of the ten tribes of Israel, and about a century before the captivity of Judah. The kingdom of Israel was brought to destruction, because its iniquities were full; its counsellors and judges were wholly taken away, because there remained no hope of reformation. But the sceptre did not entirely depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, till the Messiah came: yet greater and greater changes took place in their political affairs; their government degenerated in proportion as their vices increased, till few faithful men were left in any public offices; and at length, when they were delivered up for seventy years into the hands of the king of Babylon, scarce any remains of their original excellent civil polity appeared among them.

The Jewish government, according to the original constitution which was divinely established, if considered merely in a civil view, was a perfect Republic. The heads of their tribes, and elders of their cities, were their counsellors and judges. They called the people together in more general or particular assemblies, took their opinions, gave advice, and managed the public affairs according to the general voice. Counsellors and judges comprehend all the powers of that government; for there was no such thing as legislative authority belonging to it, their complete code of laws being given immediately from God by the hand of Moses. And let them who cry up the divine right of Kings consider, that the only form of government which had a proper claim to a divine establishment was so far from including the idea of a King, that it was a high crime for Israel to ask to be in this respect like other nations; and when they were gratified, it was rather as a just punishment of their folly, that they might feel the burdens of court pageantry, of which they were warned by a very striking description, than as a divine recommendation of kingly authority.

Every nation, when able and agreed, has a right to set up over themselves any form of government which to them may appear most conducive to their common welfare. The civil Polity of Israel is doubtless an excellent general model, allowing for some peculiarities; at least some principal laws and orders of it may be copied, to great advantage, in more modern establishments.

When a government is in it’s prime, the public good engages the attention of the whole; the strictest regard is paid to the qualifications of those who hold the offices of the state; virtue prevails; every thing is managed with justice, prudence, and frugality; the laws are founded on principles of equity rather than mere policy; and all the people are happy. But vice will increase with the riches and glory of an empire; and this gradually tends to corrupt the constitution, and in time bring on it’s dissolution. This may be considered not only as the natural effect of vice, but a righteous judgment of heaven, especially upon a nation which has been favor’d with the blessings of religion and liberty, and is guilty of undervaluing them, and eagerly going into the gratification of every lust.

In this chapter the prophet describes the very corrupt state of Judah in his day, both as to religion and common morality; and looks forward to that increase of wickedness which would bring on their desolation and captivity. They were a sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil doers, children that were corrupters, who had forsaken the Lord, and provoked the holy One of Israel to anger. The whole body of the nation, from head to foot, was full of moral and political disorders without any remaining soundness. Their religion was all mere ceremony and hypocrisy, and even the laws of common justice and humanity were disregarded in their public courts. They had Counsellors and Judges, but very different from those at the beginning of the common wealth. Their Princes were rebellious against God, and the constitution of their country, and companions of thieves, giving countenance to every artifice for seizing the property of the subjects into their own hands, and robbing the public treasury. Every one loved gifts and followed after rewards; they regarded the perquisites more than the duties of their office; the general aim was at profitable places and pensions; they were influenced in every thing by bribery; and their avarice and luxury were never satisfied, but hurried them on to all kinds of oppression and violence, so that they even justified and encouraged the murder of innocent persons to support their lawless power, and increase their wealth. And God in righteous judgment left them to run into all this excess of vice to their own destruction, because they had forsaken him, and were guilty of wilful inattention to the most essential parts of that religion which had been given them by a well attested Revelation from heaven.

The Jewish nation could not but see and feel the unhappy consequences of so great corruption of the state. Doubtless they complained much of men in power, and very heartily and liberally reproached them for their notorious misconduct. The public greatly suffered and the people groan|ed, and wished for better rulers and better management. But in vain they hoped for a change of men and measures and better times, when the spirit of religion was gone, and the infection of vice was become universal. The whole body being so corrupted, there could be no rational prospect of any great reformation in the state, but rather of its ruin; which accordingly came on in Jeremiah’s time. Yet if a general reformation of religion and morals had taken place, and they had turned to God from all their sins; if they had again re|covered the true spirit of their religion; God, by the gracious interpositions of his providence, would soon have found out methods to restore the former virtue of the state, and again have given them men of wisdom and integrity, according to their utmost wish, to be Counsellors and Judges. This was verified in fact, after the nation had been purged by a long captivity, and returned to their own land humbled, and filled with zeal for God and his law.

By all this we may be led to consider the true cause of the present remarkable troubles which are come upon Great-Britain and these Colonies; and the only effectual remedy.

We have rebelled against God. We have lost the true spirit of christianity, tho’ we retain the outward profession and form of it. We have neglected and let light by the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, and his holy commands and institutions. The worship of many is but meer compliment to the Deity, while their hearts are far from him. By many the gospel is corrupted into a superficial system of moral philosophy, little better than ancient Platonism. And after all the pretended refinements of Moderns in the theory of christianity, very little of the pure practice of it is to be found among those who once stood fore|most in the profession of the Gospel. In a gene|ral view of the present moral state of Great Britain it may be said—There is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and commiting adultery, their wickedness breaks out; and one murder after another is committed, under the connivance and encouragement even of that authority by which such crimes ought to be punished, that the purposes of oppression and despotism may be answered. As they have increased, so have they sinned; therefore God is changing their glory into shame. The general prevalence of vice has changed the whole face of things in the British government.

The excellency of the constitution has been the boast of Great-Britain, and the envy of neighbouring nations. In former times the great departments of the state, and the various places of trust and authority, were filled with men of wisdom, honestly, and religion, who employed all their powers, and were ready to risque their for|tunes, and their lives for the public good. They were faithful counsellors to Kings; directed their authority and majesty to the happiness of the nation; and opposed every step by which despotism endeavoured to advance. They were Fathers of the people, and sought the welfare and prosperity of the whole body. They did not exhaust the national wealth by luxury and bribery, or convert it to their own private benefit, or the maintenance of idle useless officers and dependents; but im|proved it faithfully for the proper purposes, for the necessary support of government, and defence of the kingdom. Their laws was dictated by wisdom and equity; and justice was administred with impartiality. Religion discover’d it’s general influence among all ranks, and kept out great corruptions from places of power.

But in what does the British nation now glory?—In a meer shadow of it’s ancient political system?—In titles of dignity without virtue?—In vast public treasures continually lavished in corruption, till every fund is exhausted, notwithstanding the mighty streams perpetually flowing in?—In the many artifices to stretch the prerogatives of the crown beyond all constitutional bounds, and make the king an absolute monarch, while the people are deluded with a meer phantom of liberty? What idea must we entertain of that government, if such an one can be found, which pretends to have made an exact counterbalance of power between the sovereign, the nobles and the commons, so that the three branches shall be an effectual check upon each other, and the united wisdom of the whole shall conspire to promote the national felicity; but which, in reality, is reduced to such a situation that it may be managed at the sole will of one court favorite? What difference is there betwixt one man’s choosing, at his own pleasure, by his single vote, the majority of those who are to represent the people; and his purchasing in such a majority, according to his own nomination, with money out of the public treasury, or other effectual methods of influencing elections?—And what shall we say, if in the same manner, by places, pensions, and other bribes, a minister of state can at any time gain over a nobler majority likewise, to be intirely subservient to his purposes; and moreover persuade his royal master to resign himself up wholly to the direction of his counsels? If this should be the case of any nation from one seven years end to another, the bargain and sale being made sure for such a period, would they still have reason to boast of their excellent constitution?— Ought they not rather to think it high time to restore the corrupted dying state to its original perfection?—I will apply this to the Roman senate under Julius Caesar, which retained all its ancient formalities, but voted always only as Caesar dictated. If the decrees of such a senate were urged on the Romans as fraught with all the blessings of Roman liberty, we must suppose them strangely deluded, if they were persuaded to believe it…

Into what fatal policy has the nation been impelled by its public vices! To wage a cruel war with its own children in these colonies, only to gratify the lust of power, and the demands of extravagance! May God, in his great mercy recover Great Britain from this fatal infatuation; shew them their errors; and give them a spirit of re|formation, before it is too late to avert impending destruction. May the eyes of the King be opened to see the ruinous tendency of the measures into which he has been led, and his heart inclined to treat his American Subjects with justice and clemency, instead of forcing them still farther to the last extremities! God grant some method may be found out to effect a happy reconciliation, so that the colonies may again enjoy the protection of their Sovereign, with perfect security of all their natural rights, and civil and religious liberties.

But, alas! have not the sins of America, and of New-England in particular, had a hand in bringing down upon us the righteous judgments of heaven? Wherefore is all this evil come upon us? Is it not because we have forsaken the Lord?…

Medium: Why Trump Is Likely to Win Again

Freelance writer Thomas Greene has written a piece at Medium.com titled Why Trump Is Likely to Win Again. While I believe he gets some things wrong (like a lot of people do believe H. Clinton is a criminal), I agree that voter anger over elected representatives and un-elected bureaucrats who have been captured (and corrupted) by the system is the primary fuel keeping the Trump engine running.

The Bronx of my childhood was a paradise. My street ran parallel to a section of the old Croton Aqueduct, by then long disused, which we kids called the Ackey. Along its banks grew trees and bushes and wild flowers forming a ribbon of thicket in which we played, and through which we “hiked.”

We were always in the street. We learned our games and rhymes by word of mouth, from older to younger. We chose our adventures and settled disputes among ourselves. We played stick ball and ringolevio and skully, red rover and stoop ball, and a deliciously sadistic variety of Johnny on a pony. We raced about on noisy cheap skates with metal wheels.

In this urban sanctuary I grew up safe, loved, happy, and unmistakably working class, yet somehow I slipped away. I was reared to become an ironworker or electrician, but I managed to pass through a posh New England liberal arts college and end up a tech journalist and author. I’ve worked unsupervised, chiefly from home, since the 1990s.

Most of my relatives and old neighborhood friends hate people like me. And I don’t blame them. Most are lifelong Democrats, yet they voted for Donald Trump, and will again, and I can’t blame them for that, either. Let me explain.

My career is the product of an economic revival engineered by the center-right New Democrats of the Clinton era and subsequent administrations. I’ve observed the tech industry for two decades; it’s a job, but it’s hardly work: I’m a nerd; I like science, technology, and medicine. Right now, I couldn’t be more comfortable in lockdown. Amazon supplies my dry goods while a friendly driver brings my groceries. My family and I are safe. No one comes near us without a mask. I control my environment; I choose the people in whose presence I’ll work, if any. I can smoke and drink on the job if I please. So long as I honor my deadlines and file clean copy, no one has anything to say about it. Tech’s been good to me.

But the guy I was expected to become walks beside me like an imaginary friend I never outgrew. I think about him often — daily, if I’m honest. He commutes by bus, encountering irresponsible louts who refuse to mask up. He worries about it, too. His wife, who had earned a second income, is at home supervising their kids. He lives by the lunch buzzer and the punch clock. If there’s music where he works, it’s amplified by cheap, overdriven speakers and the genre will suit him only by chance. The temperature and ambient noise and lighting were calibrated by industrial psychologists. He can’t evade disagreeable co-workers. He’s paid far less than a family wage, but he’s got no health coverage or pension. He endures daily uncertainty about his family’s needs. Why should he not hate me? I would hate me if I were him.

He and millions of others failed to thrive in the tech economy, but that was a feature, not a bug. Blue-collar Americans were never going to adapt, despite the assurances of New Economy cheerleaders, many of whom were in government. Factories closed and data centers opened. Dotcom outfits traded on nothing more than an online presence, which somehow made sense to us. The New Democrats exalted capital both tangible and intellectual, and devalued labor, as if they’d been old-school Establishment Republicans. They fawned over Bill Gates and Eric Schmidt, Steve Jobs and Larry Ellison, Michael Dell and Andy Grove the way one imagines Calvin Coolidge gushing about Rockefellers and Morgans, Vanderbilts and Astors.

A high-tech meritocracy would lead America in a better direction, and the need was urgent. The Old Economy was failing, undeniably. It was time to re-formulate it with a progressive veneer: no more dirty factories or pollution; NAFTA would ship that mess abroad. America would subsist on green energy, outsourcing, financial services, the sacrament of e-commerce, and high-tech gadgets: a middle-class Valhalla governed by upper-middle-class trustees from the best schools. There would be no need for troublesome relics like labor unions; the virtuous nature of technological progress would itself ensure quality jobs and dignity for workers. Plentiful consumer credit would replace the family wage and health-care benefits. Blue-collar America would suffer collateral damage, but too much was at stake; it would be a necessary sacrifice. And of course we’d be gentle; we were Democrats and nerds, after all.

Big Tech was hardly the sole disruptor, but the New Democrats fell for, and amplified, Silicon Valley’s specific flavor of empty promises wrapped in technobabble. “Delivering the ____ of the future,” they said. We got e-this and i-that and smart everything else. It had a wholesome ring and implied that Richard Feynman and Carl Sagan were finally in charge. The progressive, sciency veneer gave cover to other mega-rackets with less compelling legends, enabling them to fleece their workers and consumers too. Soon everyone was delivering the ____ of the future.

The Democratic Party divorced its industrial, unionized base and married its Silicon Valley mistress. It had once believed in collective bargaining. It had once believed that workers were an essential part of a healthy economy and worthy of respect. There was a time when a US president, like Harry Truman, might entertain a labor activist, like Walter Reuther, amiably in the Oval Office. But the Party had fallen hard for its tech darlings and began to dream of a meritocracy based on steadily-increasing knowledge, intelligence, and creativity that would lift us all toward self-realization as we bathed in the restorative glow of our screens. In other words, Democrats put their faith in social vaporware. Old-Economy workers would be “rehabilitated,” language implying that they might be more intellectually challenged than unlucky. “Euthanized” would be a more honest word. The former lower-middle and working classes would listen to two decades of meritocratic cant while their standards of living would fall steadily with no ground floor in sight. They were never a priority.


The candidate Barack Obama spoke to blue-collar America. He campaigned on change that would rejuvenate careers and restore dignity. Working Americans in the swing states doubted that Hillary Clinton even knew they existed. They saw Obama as a last hope and supported him enthusiastically in the 2008 primaries and later in the general election, but he soon proved to be a disappointment. He, too, fell in love with Silicon Valley and Wall Street and neglected the people who needed him most. And they punished him: he won fewer states in 2012 than he had in 2008. People like the alternate me felt cheated by a guy who rocked a Brooks Brothers suit and talked a great game, then gave the Tech and Finance sectors everything they wanted and more. Educated people from the best schools trusted Big Tech outfits because educated people from the best schools ran them. Elites imagine each other to be virtuous because they imagine themselves that way.

Technology giants were understood not as hardy sprouts but would be treated instead with princess-and-the-pea levels of delicacy, thanks to a superstitious fear that it might all be brought to grief by, say, forcing companies with hundreds of billions in share value to tolerate an employees’ union, offer a minimum wage adequate for a decent life, or pay tax proportional to their reliance on public goods.

No one bears greater responsibility for the lack of empathy toward Old-Economy workers that led to Donald Trump’s victory than big-name Tech darlings and the New Democrats who coddled them, then openly ridiculed their own voter base: the people Hillary foolishly nicknamed “Deplorables;” that is, the millions of disappointed Obama voters who would happily have voted blue if they’d had confidence that the party would respect them, welcome them, and acknowledge their needs. But the New Economy is a gated community, shut firmly to them, whose most strenuous boosters have been the Clinton, Bush, and Obama Administrations. Old-school, working-class Democrats are unwelcome in the party they built. No one wants them tracking mud through the salon.

Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the swing states the same way Barack Obama had: by characterizing her as disdainful toward blue-collar Americans. It was a potent message among those who once had seen decent wages in return for honest work, lately reduced to Walmart greeters and Uber drivers. Humiliated by a labor market in which they had nothing to trade, the former working class understood that they also had nothing to lose. Liberal democracy and its supporting institutions shed their veneer of sanctity when dead-end employees can aspire only to dead-end management gigs. Call them “associates” and “technicians” all you want; they know who they’ve become and what others think of them. They are why Trump won in the swing states; he was propelled to victory by disillusioned Obama voters. They gleefully chanted “lock her up” not because they thought Hillary was an actual criminal, but because they knew what her election would bring them: four or eight more years of economic and social stagnation to top off the twenty they’d already been through.


They elected Donald once and they will try to again. He is scornful and vicious. He despises openly. He snarls and barks. He will make a pig’s breakfast of everything he touches, but here’s the thing everyone misses: educated elites will feel the hardship he causes more acutely than the millions of workers who have already adapted to pittance wages, dead-end careers, and chronic disrespect. They’ve endured two decades of it; they can cope. They’re betting that liberal snowflakes like me can’t.

Trump will not be defeated by educating voters, by exposing his many foibles and inadequacies. Highlighting what’s wrong with him is futile; his supporters didn’t elect him because they mistook him for a competent administrator or a decent man. They’re angry, not stupid. Trump is an agent of disruption — indeed, of revenge. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has positioned him as a tragic force-multiplier on a scale that few could have predicted, and the result is verging on catastrophic.

Still, that might not be enough to prevent his re-election. Workers now sense that economic justice — a condition in which labor and capital recognize and value each other — is permanently out of reach; the class war is over and it was an absolute rout: insatiable parasites control everything now, and even drain us gratuitously, as if exacting reparations for the money and effort they spent taming us. The economy itself, and the institutions protecting it, must be attacked, and actually crippled, to get the attention of the smug patricians in charge. Two decades of appealing to justice, proportion, and common decency have yielded nothing. I’d rather not see four more years of Donald, but I understand the impulse to use him as a cat’s paw.

Joe Biden is only moderately attractive to swing voters. He’s got longstanding ties to the financial and consumer-credit rackets, and many of his senior campaign people are former lobbyists, industry flacks, and banking alums. He’s a New Democrat at heart: too much like Hillary and too little like the Barack Obama we thought we were voting for in 2008. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders appeal to the Obama 2008 → Trump 2016 electorate, not Biden, and not the domesticated Obama of 2020 who will be campaigning for him.

I doubt that Obama can draw enough of his old swing voters back to the Democratic Party. They were his constituency once, but he let them go and now his transformation into a New Economy aristocrat is complete. He could even be a liability to Biden, who seems more down to earth than today’s Obama.

The New Democratic Party and the flashy economic colossus controlling it are a seductive pair. We saw this as Obama spoke on 30 July 2020, eulogizing the late US Representative John Lewis. The former president and Columbia University and Harvard Law School graduate promised us that one day, “when we do finish that long journey toward freedom; when we do form a more perfect union — whether it’s years from now, or decades, or even if it takes another two centuries — John Lewis will be a founding father of that fuller, fairer, better America.” Thus did our first black president signal that he might condone two more centuries of racial and social injustice so long as the meritocracy continues to treat him and his family right.

He and other high-minded elites are thinking fine thoughts and beaming positive energy to ordinary Americans from the metaphorical gated community swaddling the rich, progressive class. No uniformed weasel will dare kneel on any of their necks, we can be certain. There will be no eviction notices, no local food pantries, no paltry unemployment checks for them. These people have no clue what’s going on in the workaday neighborhoods of American cities and in our towns and rural communities, and they’ll be pleased to keep it that way.

Why should the victims of the New Economy not despise the system, and the people tending it, so intensely that they would vote Republican again? Why would they not hope that Donald will cause so much damage that America will be forced to make a fresh start? For them, stability equals stagnation while chaos might bring opportunities.

Elections are decided in the swing states. We know how Massachusetts and Mississippi will vote. The battle will take place in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Virgina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Colorado, and it will be decided by Obama-Trump voters. They haven’t forgotten that, during two decades’ time, Democrats exported their jobs and rewarded them with gigs. The question is, will their resentment overcome their reluctance? They might fear Donald’s destructive potential, but they’ll be inclined to vote for someone who has been wrecking the political and economic system that cut them down from working class to working poor with no hope of escape. Donald has a solid chance of winning.

For Democrats, the only path forward is behind: the Party must welcome, and actually represent, employees whose lives and labor and services are valued as essential contributions to society. The former working class won’t be satisfied until they see Bill and Hillary, Barack and Joe enact an auto-da-fé through the streets of Washington accompanied by a dreary huddle of bankers, VCs, bond traders, and Tech CEOs in quest of a genuine catharsis in which the pain of their guilt and self loathing swells and burns and finally grows so unbearable that they literally curse themselves and beg to be forgiven.

If candidates Biden and Harris, and the wider Democratic Party, fail to recognize and renounce the worst elements of the high-tech, financialized New Economy they’re in bondage to, and neglect to reach out to Obama-Trump swing voters with genuine understanding, compassion, and respect — not to mention actual, regulatory solutions — Donald might well be elected again, exactly as he was in 2016: by swing-state Democrats who have had enough.

 

 

AIER: Fear, Tyranny, and the Fairy Tale of Our Times

Dr. Caroline Breashears at the American Institute for Economic Research has an enjoyable article on metaphor and  evil elites with Fear, Tyranny, and the Fairy Tale of Our Times.

malficent

Fairy tales often get a bad rap. Among politicians and activists, “fairy tale” connotes “fantasy,” as in Greta Thunberg’s rant at the U.N. Climate Action Summit: “We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth.”

Yet fairy tales not only promise the hope that Thunberg rejects: they register each culture’s sociopolitical concerns, offering moral and practical solutions.

Consider Charles Perrault’s 1697 tale of “Little Thumbling,” which depicts the poverty of French peasants, the greed of the rising moneyed class (the ogre), and the corruption of the court. For the little man, only cunning can save the day.

Or recall Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, who collected and reshaped fairy tales during the Napoleonic wars, defiantly presenting a German tradition (take that, Boney). And in the twentieth century, the Nazis revised the Grimms’ classics to spread their own propaganda. In one chilling film, Little Red is saved from the wolf by an SS officer.

Which brings us to one of Disney’s latest releases: Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019). As critics have observed, it seems overloaded with themes and subplots, from genocide to environmentalism to the history of the dark fey.

Technically, it is not a great film.

Yet Maleficent: Mistress of Evil performs an essential service by reflecting our time: it foregrounds how fake news promotes our national divisions, and it models how to reject bias in favor of facts, moral judgment, and the prosperity brought by peace.

Spinning Stories: #MaleficentIsEvil

Disney is of course an expert at updating and promoting scripts. Maleficent (2014) retells its own Sleeping Beauty (1959), itself based on the Grimms’ variant, though Disney identified Perrault’s version as its source text. No need to remind viewers of the Germans so soon after World War II.

Maleficent then recuperates the villain as the victim of a man who literally stole her fairy wings. In retaliation, Maleficent cursed his daughter, Princess Aurora, to be poisoned by a spindle, but then redeemed herself by growing to love the child. That film ended with Maleficent, not Prince Phillip, awakening Aurora with “true love’s kiss.”

So why is the sequel’s subtitle Mistress of Evil? It is a puzzle that the narrator foregrounds at the start, noting that Maleficent’s love for Aurora “was somehow mysteriously forgotten. For as the tale was told over and again throughout the kingdom, Maleficent became the villain once more.”

To paraphrase one politician, everybody says so.

The mystery is solved near the film’s end, when Prince Phillip’s mother, Queen Ingrith, tells Aurora that it was she who spread the lies:

Do you know what makes a great leader, Aurora? The ability to instill fear in your subjects and then use that fear against your enemies. So I spread this story of the evil witch and the princess she cursed. It didn’t matter who woke Sleeping Beauty. They were all terrified. And the story became legend.

To be fair, Ingrith believes that fairies like Maleficent threaten humanity. She claims that when she was young, the crops in her father’s kingdom died, leading the people to suffer. Meanwhile, the magical fey of the Moors continued to thrive.

“My brother and I believed we should take what we needed,” Ingrith states, echoing modern rationales for the redistribution of wealth. Why create when one can simply take? Did the fairies really deserve what they had? But her father, the king, disagreed, sending Ingrith’s brother to ask the fey’s help. He never returned.

In this context, Queen Ingrith’s tales about Maleficent and other fairies may be factually incorrect, but she believes them to be morally true, which is apparently the new standard in journalism. And so she spins her stories with an effectiveness that even Walter Duranty would envy.

To solidify her narrative, Queen Ingrith stages a family dinner for the newly engaged Aurora and Phillip. First she antagonizes Maleficent, working her into a rage. Then Ingrith poisons her own husband with the iconic spindle and frames Maleficent for it. Even Aurora falls for the lie. The people, terrified, are primed for war.

Pick Your Poison

As Maleficent leaves Queen Ingrith’s castle, she is shot with a poisoned bullet by one of Ingrith’s servants, Gerda. Fortuitously, a mysterious fairy rescues her and takes her to a remote location to heal. When Maleficent awakens, she discovers a world of Dark Fey who have been exiled from their lands by humans.

As Maleficent navigates this new realm, she is pulled in different directions by two fairies. One, the warrior Borra, is motivated by resentment: they must kill the humans and reclaim their lands. Another fairy, the peaceful Conall, points a different way: Maleficent, the descendant of the Phoenix, possesses great powers that could be used to heal, not destroy, if she can forgive Aurora.

The characters’ options mirror our own. Do we focus on the past and continue the resentments? Do we, like one prominent activist, threaten that if demands are not met, “we will burn down this system and replace it?” Or do we unite to move forward?

The question involves not only politics but moral judgment. As Adam Smith observes in The Theory of Moral Sentiments, “The real, revered, and impartial spectator . . . is upon no occasion, at a greater distance than amidst the violence and rage of contending parties. . . . Of all the corrupters of moral sentiments, therefore, faction and fanaticism have always been by far the greatest.”

Even as Maleficent struggles with judgment, Aurora, now at the palace for her wedding, comes to suspect that she has condemned Maleficent unfairly. She finally realizes that Ingrith plans to exterminate the fey. She warns Prince Phillip and saves a group of fairies being exterminated by Gerda.

Waking Up

In the end, it comes down to individual choice. Borra and Ingrith, driven by revenge, choose to lead their armies into battle. Ingrith warns Phillip, “These creatures stand between us and everything we need to survive.” Her solution is to destroy.

Phillip rejects her logic, telling Borra, “My mother wanted a fight, and you’re giving it to her. I won’t allow her hatred to ruin my kingdom or yours.” His argument leads Borra to awaken from his own hatred to consider who is driving the war and why.

Maleficent goes a step further. She dies to save Aurora when Ingrith shoots her with a poisonous bolt. Her love trumps race, politics, and resentment for past wrongs. And because Maleficent is a descendant of the Phoenix, she regenerates.

At first glance, the Phoenix motif seems like a sadly artificial solution, but it follows a tradition of fairy tales depicting symbolic rebirth to capture a character’s growth in wisdom. Snow White is “reborn” after her time in the coffin; Little Red is “reborn” after her time in the wolf’s belly; and Maleficent is “reborn” after her sacrifice.

The result is hope that what was imperfect—a person, a relationship, a country—can be made better. The film ends with humans and fairies celebrating the marriage of Philip and Aurora. While negotiations are surely ahead, the first step has been taken toward peace and the prosperity brought by mutual exchange.

Ultimately, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is a fairy tale of our time. Reflecting the national divisions that have only escalated since its release, it illustrates how false stories spread to infect hearts and minds as fatally as a virus. The solution is to reject these fictions and judge for ourselves. As Conall tells Maleficent, “I’ve made my choice. Now make yours.”

Zero Hedge: Calls Between Biden And Ukraine’s Poroshenko Leaked; Details $1 Billion “Quid Pro Quo”

Six months ago Zero Hedge related the Ukraine indictment alleging $7.4 billion laundering scheme. Now phone call recordings between Biden And Ukraine’s Poroshenko have been leaked. Phone Calls Between Biden And Ukraine’s Poroshenko Leaked; Details $1 Billion “Quid Pro Quo” To Fire Burisma Prosecutor

Leaked phone calls between Joe Biden and former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko explicitly detail the quid-pro-quo arrangement to fire former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Victor Shokin – who Poroshenko admits did nothing wrong – in exchange for $1 billion in US loan guarantees (which Biden openly bragged about in January, 2018).

The calls were leaked by Ukrainian MP Andrii Derkach, who says the recordings of “voices similar to Poroshenko and Biden” were given to him by investigative journalists who claim Poroshenko made them.

Shokin was notably investigating Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company that hired Biden’s son, Hunter, to sit on its board. Shokin had opened a case against Burisma’s founder, Mykola Zlochevsky, who granted Burisma permits to drill for oil and gas in Ukraine while he was Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources. In January, 2019, Shokin stated in a deposition that there were five criminal cases against Zlochevesky, including money laundering, corruption, illegal funds transfers, and profiteering through shell corporations while he was a sitting minister.

Viktor Shokin

The leaked calls begin on December 3, 2015, when former Secretary of State John Kerry starts laying out the case to fire Shokin – who he says “blocked the cleanup of the Prosecutor Generals’ Office,” and sated that Biden “is very concerned about it,” to which Poroshenko replies that the newly reorganized prosecutor general’s office (NABU) won’t be able to pursue corruption charges, and that it may be difficult to fire Shokin without cause.

Later in the leaked audio on February 18, 2016 – less than three months after the Kerry conversation – Poroshenko delivers some “positive news.”

“Yesterday I met with General Prosecutor Shokin,” says Poroshenko. And despite of the fact that we didn’t have any corruption charges, we don’t have any information about him doing something wrong, I specially asked him – no, it was day before yesterday – I specially asked him to resign. In, uh, as his, uh, position as a state person. And despite of the fact that he has a support in the power. And as a finish of my meeting with him, he promised to give me the statement on resignation. And one hour ago he bring me the written statement of his resignation. And this is my second step for keeping my promises.

To which Biden replied: “I agree.”

Four weeks later on March 22, 2016, Biden says “Tell me that there is a new government and a new Prosecutor General. I am prepared to do a public signing of the commitment for the billion dollars.

Poroshenko tells Biden that one of the leading candidates is the man who replaced Shokin, Yuriy Lutsenko who later said in a deposition that Hunter Biden and his business partners were receiving millions of dollars in compensation from Burisma.

Then, on May 13, 2016, Biden congratulates Poroshenko on “getting the new Prosecutor General,” saying that it will be “critical for him to work quickly to repair the damage Shokin did.”

And I’m a man of my word,” Biden adds. “And now that the new Prosecutor General is in place, we’re ready to move forward to signing that one billion dollar loan guarantee.”

Poroshenko thanks Biden for the support, and says that it was a “very tough challenge and a very difficult job.”

James Howard Kunstler: No Consequences for Crimes

James Howard Kunstler has written a good article about how the last twelve years of consequence-less national crimes and the failure of the federal government to prosecute them (or its complicity with the crimes) is eroding/has destroyed the people’s faith in institutions. This is an invitation to civil violence, he says. We can’t call ourselves a “government of laws, and not of men” when people of high enough stature are not subject to the law.

Evidence of Absence

What is most perilous for our country now, would be to journey through a second epic crisis of authority in recent times without anybody facing the consequences of crimes they might have committed. The result will be a people turned utterly cynical, with no faith in their institutions or the rule of law, and no way to imagine a restoration of their lost faith within the bounds of law. It will be a deadly divorce between truth and reality. It will be an invitation to civil violence, a broken social contract, and the end of the framework for American life that was set up in 1788.

The first crisis of the era was the Great Financial Crash of 2008 based on widespread malfeasance in the banking world, an unprecedented suspension of rules, norms, and laws. GFC poster-boy Angelo Mozilo, CEO and chairman of Countrywide Financial, a sub-prime mortgage racketeering outfit, sucked at least half a billion dollars out of his operation before it blew up, and finally was nicked for $67 million in fines by the SEC — partly paid by Countrywide’s indemnity insurer — with criminal charges of securities fraud eventually dropped in the janky “settlement.” In other words, the cost of doing business. Scores of other fraudsters and swindlers in that orgy of banking malfeasance were never marched into a courtroom, never had to answer for their depredations, and remained at their desks in the C-suites collecting extravagant bonuses. The problems they caused were papered over with trillions of dollars that all of us are still on-the-hook for. And, contrary to appearances, the banking system never actually recovered. It is permanently demoralized.

How it was that Barack Obama came on-duty in January of 2009 and got away with doing absolutely nothing about all that for eight years remains one of the abiding mysteries of life on earth. Perhaps getting the first black president into the White House was such an intoxicating triumph of righteousness that nothing else seemed to matter anymore. Perhaps Mr. Obama was just a cat’s paw for banksterdom. (Sure kinda seems like it, when your first two hires are Robert Rubin and Larry Summers.) The failure to assign penalties for massive bad behavior has set up the nation for another financial fiasco, surely of greater magnitude than the blow-up of 2008, considering the current debt landscape. Not a few astute observers say they feel the hot breath of that monster on the back of their necks lately, with all the strange action in the RePo market — $500 billion “liquidity” injections in six weeks.

But now we are a year into Attorney General Bill Barr coming on the scene  — the crime scene of RussiaGate and all its deceitful spin-offs. The Mueller investigation revealed itself as not just a thumping failure, but part of a broader exercise in bad faith and sedition to first prevent Mr. Trump from winning the 2016 election and then to harass, obstruct, disable, and eject him from office. And six months after Mr. Mueller’s face-plant, out comes the Horowitz Report tracing in spectacular detail further and deeper criminal irregularities in the US Justice agencies. What’s more, tremendous amounts of evidence for all this already sits on-the-record in public documents. The timelines are well understood.

And so, an anxious nausea creeps over the land that Mr. Barr and Mr. Durham are dawdling toward a goal of deflecting justice from the sick institutions behind the three-year coup — that our polity is so saturated in corruption nothing will be allowed to clean it up. Personally, I don’t subscribe to that hopelessness, and I will say why. But I must also say that if Barr & Durham fail to deliver a bale of indictments, they will be putting a bullet in the head of this republic. There will be no hope of restoring trust in the system and the hopelessness will inspire serious civil violence…

Click here to read the entire article at Kunstler.com

Liberty Blitzkrieg: Monetary Looting

Michael Krieger of Liberty Blitzkrieg has written this article about the corrupt and predatory state of our financial system and Federal Reserve banking system – Monetary Looting.

The United States has historically bragged about its free and transparent markets. But what the Fed is doing today is pulling a dark curtain around the financing of this so-called free and transparent market. The public has no idea which Wall Street firms have received this $3 trillion or why they can’t borrow it elsewhere. This kind of obfuscation by the Federal Reserve could actually stimulate distrust in the U.S. banking system. The Fed admitted as much in its most recent Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) minutes, writing that participation in the Fed’s loan program “could become stigmatized.”

Wall Street on Parade: Is the Fed’s $3 Trillion in Loans to Trading Houses on Wall Street Legal?

The business model of Wall Street is fraud.
– Bernie Sanders

Financial services as currently structured is the most pernicious, predatory and corrupt industry on earth. Moreover, it’s the deliberately complex and opaque nature of the industry which then limits public debate when some problem arises and governments and central banks are called upon to take emergency measures to “save the system,” which is just a euphemism for enormous sums of corporate welfare being funneled to people and institutions who couldn’t survive otherwise.

It is systemic looting on a massive scale and the primary patrons of this ongoing and seemingly endless scheme are central banks. In the U.S. this means the Federal Reserve, which recently came back into the “market” with enormous new interventions in both the repo market and via renewed balance sheet expansion. I’ve read many of the smart takes on the repo crisis and still don’t feel confident I know precisely what’s going on. This is intentional.

One of the main reasons big finance is able to pull off scam after scam in plain sight relates to the complexity, opacity and esoteric jargon associated with the industry. Repo is a perfect example. The market had a spasm in September and the Fed immediately rushed in with billions to bring the rate down without offering any transparency or a credible explanation of what was going on. Meanwhile, as the crisis continued over subsequent months and the central bank response grew larger and larger, we actually seem to be learning less with each passing day.

Instead of providing the public with the transparency it deserves, Fed officials run around pretending to be financial surgeons called in to perform an unexpected emergency operation on a patient after a freak accident. In reality, central banks are merely pumping billions into an already dead body while enriching connected and powerful individuals and institutions in the process. They know exactly what they’re doing and we need to stop pretending otherwise.

While I’m grateful to those who’ve spent time trying to thoughtfully explain the mechanics of the repo crisis and why it happened, I think that’s a sideshow at this point since nobody who really knows what’s going on is talking. Instead, we should focus on the absurd and unconscionable lack of transparency with regard to Federal Reserve actions. As far as I know, we have no idea which parties are taking up this expanded central bank funding. Think about how criminally insane that is. We have no idea if it’s driven by a troubled institution like Deutsche Bank, hedge funds with over-leveraged trades, treasury issuance, a combination of these factors, or something else.

We don’t know because they don’t want us to know, and they don’t want us to know because they don’t want the public thinking or talking about it. It’s at times like these when the totalitarian nature of central banking comes into crystal clear focus. What we have is government via unelected, unaccountable bankers. It’s the opposite of self-government, and understanding this simple fact blows apart all the myths about our so-called democracy and freedom. Nothing of the sort exists in reality, and when push comes to shove, you’re just a peasant living in an imperial oligarchy…

Click here to read the entire article at Liberty Blitzkrieg.

Liberty Blitzkrieg: Three Major Imbalances – Financial, Trust, Geopolitical

Somewhat related to yesterday’s article from Chris Hedges which touched on how no one in America trusts anyone in the D.C. establish at all any longer is this article from Michael Krieger of Liberty Blitzkrieg. In Three Major Imbalances, Mr. Krieger discusses the teetering financial system, the lack of trust in institutions, and rising tenstions between the U.S.A. and China, Russia, and elsewhere.

But greed is a bottomless pit
And our freedom’s a joke
We’re just taking a piss
And the whole world must watch the sad comic display
If you’re still free start running away
Cause we’re coming for you!

– Conor Oberst, “Land Locked Blues”

It’s hard to believe 2020 is just around the corner. If the last ten years have taught us anything, it’s the extent to which a vicious and corrupt oligarchy will go to further extend and entrench their economic and societal interests. Although the myriad desperate actions undertaken by the ruling class this past decade have managed to sustain the current paradigm a bit longer, it has not come without cost and major long-term consequence. Gigantic imbalances across multiple areas have been created and worsened, and the resolution of these in the years ahead (2020-2025) will shape the future for decades to come. I want to discuss three of them today, the financial system imbalance, the trust imbalance and the geopolitical imbalance.

Recent posts have focused on how what really matters in a crisis is not the event itself, but the response to it. The financial crisis of ten years ago is particularly instructive, as the entire institutional response to a widespread financial industry crime spree was to focus on saving a failed system and then pretending nothing happened. The public was given no time or space to debate whether the system needed saving; or more specifically, which parts needed saving, which parts needed wholesale restructuring and which parts should’ve been thrown into the dustbin. Rather, unelected central bankers stepped in with trillions in order to prop up, empower and reward the very industry and individuals that created the crisis to begin with. There was no real public debate, central bankers just did whatever they wanted. It was a moment so brazen and disturbing it shook many of us, including myself, out of a lifetime of propaganda induced deception.

It’s ten years later and central banks still can’t walk back anything they did over the past decade…

While massive and global, the financial system imbalance is just one of several. Another big one is a trust imbalance, which manifests as a widening disconnect between established institutions and the people living under them. As the ruling class has been forced to resort to increasingly desperate measures over the past decade to keep their gravy train going, they’ve exposed themselves more explicitly. What was once derided as conspiracy theory rapidly becomes conspiracy fact, and an increasingly significant number of humans have begun to simply assume (for good reason) that whatever comes out of the mouths of authority figures like intelligence agencies, politicians, mass media, corporations and think tanks, etc., are lies.

This situation isn’t getting any better either. It seems every day we wake up to new in your face revelations of how craven and dishonest the ruling oligarchy and its institutions really are. For example, this past weekend we learned how a Newsweek journalist quit because his bosses at the paper refused to let him publish about OPCW whistleblowers who dispute the official conclusion that Assad launched a chemical attack in Douma, an event that increasingly looks like a false flag event which led to the U.S. bombing Syria…

The trust imbalance between rulers and the ruled has become so massive it’s all but guaranteed to detonate in a variety of unexpected and consequential ways in the years ahead. The election of Donald Trump was just the first pubic manifestation of this well deserved lack of trust…

The other major imbalance I want to highlight is the geopolitical one. It’s something I’ve been writing about a lot lately as it’s come into clearer focus that the nexus of this tension will center around the U.S. and China. At the root of this imbalance is a U.S. national security state desperate to turn back to clock to the 1990s when the U.S. was the world’s sole superpower and could essentially call the shots on all matters of international significance with little to no pushback. Certain foreign power centers, led by China and Russia, have made it explicit they will not be rewinding the clock and are have focused their foreign policy around ushering in a multi-polar world. Like the other imbalances, the geopolitical imbalance becomes more volatile and less manageable with each passing day…

Everything being done today centers around propping up and extending a decrepit paradigm in order to further enrich and empower a ruling class that has lost the respect of the people. As the actions taken to sustain such a system become more desperate and mendacious (“this is NOT QE”), the more the veneer of credibility disappears. The more the veneer of credibility disappears, the more unstable these major imbalances become. Generational change is on the horizon, keep your eyes wide open.

Click here to read the entire article at Liberty Blitzkrieg.

Related:

Kunstler: Two for One Holiday Special

Hillary Clinton sure got her money’s worth with the Fusion GPS deal: it induced a three-year psychotic break in the body politic, destroyed the legitimacy of federal law enforcement, turned a once-proud, free, and rational press into an infernal engine of bad faith, and is finally leading her Democratic Party to an ignominious suicide. And the damage is far from complete…

Truthdig: The Great American Shakedown

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and liberal/progressive writer. He has been a vocal critic of what he sees as failures of the liberal class (as well as criticizing conservatives). In this article at Truthdig, Mr. Hedges empties both barrels at the Democrat Party (and their impeachment failure) and the Republican parties for their thorough corruption. Hedges’ writing is enjoyable and incisive even if I don’t always agree with the conclusions that he draws. He tends to apply his beliefs consistently, which is considerably better than most on the Left or Right.

The Democratic Party and its liberal supporters are perplexed. They presented hours of evidence of an impeachable offense, although they studiously avoided charging Donald Trump with impeachable offenses also carried out by Democratic presidents, including the continuation or expansion of presidential wars not declared by Congress, exercising line-item veto power, playing prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner to kill individuals, including U.S. citizens, anywhere on the planet, violating due process and misusing executive orders. Because civics is no longer taught in most American schools, they devoted a day to constitutional scholars who provided the Civics 101 case for impeachment. The liberal press, cheerleading the impeachment process, saturated the media landscape with live coverage, interminable analysis, constant character assassination of Trump and giddy speculation. And yet, it has made no difference. Public opinion remains largely unaffected.

Perhaps, supporters of impeachment argue, they failed to adopt the right technique…

The liberal class and the Democratic Party leadership have failed, even after their defeat in the 2016 presidential election, to understand that they, along with the traditional Republican elites, have squandered their credibility. No one believes them. And no one should.

They squandered their credibility by promising that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) would, as claimed by President Bill Clinton, create 200,000 new, well-paying jobs per year; instead, several million jobs were lost. They squandered it by allowing corporations to move production overseas and hire foreign workers at daily wages that did not equal what a U.S. unionized worker made in an hour, a situation that obliterated the bargaining power of the American working class. They squandered it by allowing corporations to use the threat of “offshoring” production to destroy unions, suppress wages, extract draconian concessions and push millions of workers into the temp and gig economies, where there are no benefits or job security and pay is 60% or less of what a full-time employee in the regular economy receives. They squandered it by forcing working men and women to take two or three jobs to support a family, jacking up household debt to $13.95 trillion. They squandered it by redirecting wealth upward, so that during the Clinton administration alone 45 percent of all income growth went to the wealthiest 1%…

The problem is not messaging. The problem is the messenger. The mortal wounds inflicted on our democratic institutions are bipartisan. The traditional Republican elites are as hated as the Democratic elites. Trump is vile, imbecilic, corrupt and incompetent. But for a largely white working class cast aside by austerity and neoliberalism, he at least taunts the elites who destroyed their communities and their lives…

There is zero chance Trump will be removed from office in a trial in the Senate. The Democratic Party elites have admitted as much. They carried out, they argue, their civic and constitutional duty. But here again they lie. They picked out what was convenient to impeach Trump and left untouched the rotten system they helped create. The divisions among Americans will only widen. The hatreds will only grow. And tyranny will wrap its deadly tentacles around our throats.

Click here to read the entire article at Truthdig.

Liberty Blitzkrieg: The Illiberal World Order

Michael Krieger of Liberty Blitzkrieg has some good words to share about our current political state of affairs, including how Trump’s election is a symptom of decades of corrupt D.C. practices rather than the beginning of some new era of debauchery and how the biggest problem is all of the people who do not recognize this.

The Illiberal World Order

From a big picture perspective, the largest rift in American politics is between those willing to admit reality and those clinging to a dishonest perception of a past that never actually existed. Ironically, those who most frequently use “post-truth” to describe our current era tend to be those with the most distorted view of what was really happening during the Clinton/Bush/Obama reign.

Despite massive amounts of evidence to the contrary, such people now enthusiastically whitewash the decades preceding Trump to turn it into a paragon of human liberty, justice and economic wonder. You don’t have to look deep to understand that resistance liberals are now actually conservatives, brimming with nostalgia for the days before significant numbers of people became wise to what’s been happening all along.

They want to forget about the bipartisan coverup of Saudi Arabia’s involvement in 9/11, all the wars based on lies, and the indisputable imperial crimes disclosed by Wikileaks, Snowden and others. They want to pretend Wall Street crooks weren’t bailed out and made even more powerful by the Bush/Obama tag team, despite ostensible ideological differences between the two. They want to forget Epstein Didn’t Kill Himself.

Lying to yourself about history is one of the most dangerous things you can do. If you can’t accept where we’ve been, and that Trump’s election is a symptom of decades of rot as opposed to year zero of a dangerous new world, you’ll never come to any useful conclusions. As such, the most meaningful fracture in American society today is between those who’ve accepted that we’ve been lied to for a very long time, and those who think everything was perfectly fine before Trump. There’s no real room for a productive discussion between such groups because one of them just wants to get rid of orange man, while the other is focused on what’s to come. One side actually believes a liberal world order existed in the recent past, while the other fundamentally recognizes this was mostly propaganda based on myth.

Irrespective of what you think of Bernie Sanders and his policies, you can at least appreciate the fact his supporters focus on policy and real issues. In contrast, resistance liberals just desperately scramble to put up whoever they think can take us back to a make-believe world of the recent past. This distinction is actually everything. It’s the difference between people who’ve at least rejected the status quo and those who want to rewind history and perform a do-over of the past forty years.

A meaningful understanding that unites populists across the ideological spectrum is the basic acceptance that the status quo is pernicious and unsalvageable, while the status quo-promoting opposition focuses on Trump the man while conveniently ignoring the worst of his policies because they’re essentially just a continuation of Clinton/Bush/Obama. It’s the most shortsighted and destructive response to Trump imaginable. It’s also why the Trump-era alliance of corporate, imperialist Democrats and rightwing Bush-era neoconservatives makes perfect sense, as twisted and deranged as it might seem at first. With some minor distinctions, these people share nostalgia for the same thing.

This sort of political environment is extremely unhealthy because it places an intentional and enormous pressure on everyone to choose between dedicating every fiber of your being to removing Trump at all costs or supporting him. This anti-intellectualism promotes an ends justifies the means attitude on all sides. In other words, it turns more and more people into rhinoceroses…

Click here to read the entire article at Liberty Blitzkrieg.

 

Zero Hedge: Ukraine Indictment Claims $7.4 Billion Obama/Democrat-Linked Laundering

This article comes from Zero Hedge, relating an indictment by Ukraine’s Prosecutor General against Burisma Holders, where Hunter Biden held a highly-compensated sinecure. Emphasis below is from the original article.

An indictment drawn up by Ukraine’s Office of the Prosecutor General against Burisma owner Nikolai Zlochevsky claims that Hunter Biden and his partners received $16.5 million for their ‘services’ – according to Ukrainian MP Alexander Dubinsky of the ruling Servant of the People Party.

Dubinsky made the claim in a Wednesday press conference, citing materials from an investigation into Zlochevsky and Burisma.

“Zlochevsky was charged with this new accusation by the Office of the Prosecutor General but the press ignored it,” said the MP. “It was issued on November 14.”

The son of Vice-President Joe Biden was receiving payment for his services, with money raised through criminal means and money laundering,” he then said, adding “Biden received money that did not come from the company’s successful operation but rather from money stolen from citizens.”

…According to Interfax-Ukraine, MP Andriy Derkach announced at the same press conference that deputies have received new materials from investigative journalists alleging that the ‘family’ of ex-President Yanukovych funneled $7.4 billion through American investment firm Franklin Templeton Investments, which they claim have connections to the US Democratic party”…

The son of Templeton’s founder, John Templeton Jr., was one of President Obama’s major campaign donors. Another fund-related character is Thomas Donilon. Managing Director of BlackRock Investment Institute, shareholder Franklin Templeton Investments, which has the largest share in the fund. It is noteworthy that he previously was Obama’s national security advisor,” Derkach added…

Click here to read the entire article at Zero Hedge.