Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Brooksian Centrism

David Brook's latest column is entitled The Future of the American Center.

Brooks makes a good point in noting the following:

the coming Congress may not look like the recent Congresses, when party-line voting was the rule. A vote on an infrastructure bill may look very different from a vote on health care or education or foreign policy. This may be a Congress with many caucuses — floating coalitions rather than just follow-the-leader obedience.

Meanwhile, as Christopher DeMuth wrote recently in The Wall Street Journal, committee chairmen may reassert authority against the executive branch. Trump’s authoritarian style represents an assault on the traditional separation of powers. He may end up energizing all those constitutional forms and practices he stands against.

What’s about to happen in Washington may be a little like the end of the Cold War — bipolarity gives way to multipolarity. A system dominated by two party-line powers gives way to a system with a lot of different power centers. Instead of just R’s and D’s, there will be a Trump-dominated populist nationalism, a more libertarian Freedom Caucus, a Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren progressive caucus, a Chuck Schumer/Nancy Pelosi Democratic old guard.

I’ve been trying to figure out where we’re headed after this election, and I really don’t know.  Trump is unpredictable.

But then Brooks goes off the rails, in my opinion:

The most important caucus formation will be in the ideological center. There’s a lot of room between the alt-right and the alt-left, between Trumpian authoritarianism and Sanders socialism…

suddenly there’s a flurry of activity between the extremes…  For example, Bill Kristol and Bill Galston have worked in the White Houses of different parties and had voted for the opposite presidential candidates in every election for four decades. But Donald Trump has reminded them how much they agree on the fundamentals.

The most active centrist organization, No Labels, began six years ago in opposition to polarized, cutthroat politics.

Much of the rest of Brooks column sings the praises of No Labels.  

Simon Maloy at Salon wrote what is, in my opinion, a cogent rebuttal -- More bogus “new centrism” from David Brooks.  Excerpts from Maloy’s critique:

“We stand together against an alternative right disdainful of the traditions of American conservatism and a vocal left that blends socialist economics with identity politics,” Galston and Kristol wrote, echoing Brooks’ alt-right/”alt-left” dichotomy.

This is completely blinkered, so let’s set a few things straight. The “alternative right” is not defined by its disdain for “the traditions of American conservatism.” It’s a racist, white-nationalist, pseudo-intellectual agglomeration of cranks and bigots who now have a direct line to the Oval Office. Only by denuding it of its core evils can one even begin to draw any sort of comparison between the “alternative right” and the “vocal left,” whose disqualifying sins apparently include pushing for universal health care and advocating on behalf of those marginalized by the political system...

No Labels and the rest of the centrist bleaters will instead celebrate the transparently false promises of a balanced budget that will surely attend all this ideological warfare... Toothless centrism appeals exclusively to “retired establishment types,” financiers and “think-tank johnnies” precisely because it is divorced from practical concerns: When you don’t have to worry about rising health insurance premiums or unaffordable mortgage payments, it’s easier to think of a balanced federal budget as the greatest good that government can aspire to.

I looked at the No Labels Four Goals, and sure enough two of them are about balancing the budget:

  1. Secure Social Security & Medicare for the next 75 years
    Social Security and Medicare are not sustainable on their current trajectories due to the retirement of the enormous Baby Boom generation, falling birth rates, and rising healthcare spending.
  2. Balance the federal budget by 2030
    If the money we spend as a nation consistently outpaces the money we bring in, the burden of our increasing debt — including the interest we pay on it — will crush us.  Unfortunately, that’s where we’re headed.

In summary, Brooks’ advocacy of centrism seems reasonable enough, and much of it is intelligent and constructive, but he makes two serious errors, in my opinion:
  1. False equivalency between Trumpian authoritarianism and Sanders socialism.
  2. Counterproductive obsession with national debt.  See Socrates interview with Pete Peterson.

As a final thought, the Democrats have been played (taken advantage of) by the Republicans on the issue of the national debt for the last 40 years.  There is no doubt that the Democrats have been more serious about the debt, and it has cost them politically.  Reagan, for example, gave lip service to the debt, but increased it with tax cuts and big military spending.  George W. Bush likewise cut taxes while invading and occupying Iraq.  Obama was more frugal.  Trump seems to be well aware of the advantages of the Reagan approach.

People like Brooks genuinely believe the national debt is just like private debt, as do most well educated people.  It’s analogous to the widespread acceptance of the validity of the patriarchy based upon Biblical teachings.  Probably in 100 years my descendants will be bemoaning the side effects which have arisen following the otherwise positive realization that we’ve been guided by economic mythology with little basis in fact.

Brian Romanchuk — Primer: Monetary Aggregates

Mysticism about money is damaging to economic theory. This shows up in even the most fundamental questions, such as defining what “money” really is. It is clear that the developed countries are “monetary societies,” and behaviour is very different from those societies where money is either not used or highly ceremonial in nature. Unfortunately, our usage of the word money is often muddled, as we say things like “she made a lot of money selling used cars,” even though what we really mean is that “she earned a high income selling used cars.” For those with an interest in describing macroeconomic behaviour, such vagueness is not enough; we have to pin down what we mean by money.
If money were to be abolished from economic theory, the only references to money might be in reference to the monetary aggregates. This primer explains the definitions of these aggregates (without diving into the institutional differences between different regions)....
Bond Economics
Primer: Monetary Aggregates
Brian Romanchuk

Leonid Bershidsky — How Russian Propaganda Really Works in the West

That leaves private, professional media with plenty of homework to do. How did we end up more mistrusted by a large segment of Western readers and viewers than state-funded Sputnik or RT? Did we perhaps follow government narratives too closely and uncritically? These are inconvenient questions, and it's harder to ask them than to get involved in a misguided war on propaganda that ends up stigmatizing legitimate criticism and media diversity.... 
Bloomberg View
How Russian Propaganda Really Works in the West
Leonid Bershidsky

Inae Oh — Donald Trump, Champion of the Working Class, Is Filling His Cabinet With Billionaires

Hey, they are only people that billionaire Trump knows. He calls them "winners" and wants to appoint only "winners." (Compare with "job creators.")

Mother Jones
Donald Trump, Champion of the Working Class, Is Filling His Cabinet With Billionaires
Inae Oh

Paul R. Pillar — The Post-Truth President and U.S. Credibility

"Post-Truth President." That would be funny if it were not so serious. The US is developing a record of being untruthful and not keeping agreements. Losing creditability is the kiss of death in relationships, including international ones.

The National Interest
The Post-Truth President and U.S. Credibility
Paul R. Pillar

Stiv — Blackwater-Linked Private Military Firm Exposed Coordinating Intel for Police at Standing Rock

"Public-private partnership."

Blackwater-Linked Private Military Firm Exposed Coordinating Intel for Police at Standing Rock

Neal Gabler — Who’s Really to Blame for Fake News

Worth reading for background on alt right fake news. But it is marred by linking to the Craig Timberg article at the Washington Post.
Consider for a moment the oxymoronic concept of “fake news,” which we have been hearing so much about lately. This isn’t your typical disinformation or misinformation — generated by the government, or foreign adversaries, or corporations — to advance an agenda by confusing the public. It isn’t even the familiar dystopian idea of manipulated fact designed to keep people lobotomized and malleable in some post-human autocracy. Those scenarios assume at least an underlying truth against which nefarious forces can take aim.
Fake news is different. It is an assault on the very principle of truth itself: a way to upend the reference points by which mankind has long operated. You could say, without exaggeration, that fake news is actually an attempt to reverse the Enlightenment. And because a democracy relies on truth — which is why dystopian writers have always described how future oligarchs need to undermine it — fake news is an assault on democracy as well.

What is truly horrifying is that fake news is not the manipulation of an unsuspecting public. Quite the opposite. It is willful belief by the public. In effect, the American people are accessories in their own disinformation campaign.
That is our current situation, and it is no sure thing that either truth or democracy survives....
Bill Moyers & Co.
Who’s Really to Blame for Fake News
Neal Gabler


Scott Adams' Blog
Scott Adams

Slate — Trump and the GOP Have Massively Unpopular Tax Policies

That populist revolt isn't getting off to roaring start.
There is no more unifying issue for the Republican elites than support for massive tax cuts for the rich. Three weeks after the election of Donald Trump, it might be their only defining issue. Among voters, however, support for this policy is incredibly unpopular. Not only do a clear majority of voters oppose the idea of cutting taxes for the rich, this opposition also bridges partisan divides, geographic divides, and even income levels.…
Dislike of the actual mechanisms of the Republican economic policy are not constrained to tax cuts for the rich. Closely related to tax cuts, the Republican elite, including Trump, is relatively unified in supporting cuts to government regulation. But 42 percent of all voters nationwide favor more government regulations for business, as supposed to only 33 percent in disagreement. Similarly, 51 percent of all voters nationwide favor a stronger government role in reducing income inequality, as opposed to only 26 percent in disagreement. Even among Republicans, support for a more active government role is sizable, with 47 percent out of all Republicans with a stated preference agreeing.
Even as people pin their hopes on Trump for economic growth, the actual mechanism of Republican elite economic policy is extremely unpopular. Meanwhile, the other party’s economic program remains very popular. You might not have known that from its standard-bearer’s presidential campaign, but our data is explicit on this count. On economic matters, the country leans to the left. Perhaps someone should tell the Democrats.
Trump and the GOP Have Massively Unpopular Tax Policies
Sam Corbett-Davies, Tobias Konitzer, and David Rothschild

Simon Maloy — GOP’s Obamacare trouble: “Repeal and replace” turns out to be tougher than it sounds

Crunch time.

GOP’s Obamacare trouble: “Repeal and replace” turns out to be tougher than it sounds
Simon Maloy


Another hot potato. Paul Ryan wants to roll the repeal of Obamacare and privatization of Medicare together. Democrats are smiling at the prospect.

Daily Kos
GOP suddenly a wee bit nervous about privatizing Medicare?
Kerry Eleveld

They've decided to kill us slowly

Ben Kamisar — Conway: Pelosi reelection shows Dems missed lessons of 2016

Trump's advisers breath a sigh of relief as Democrats chose Establishment leaders Schumer and Pelosi to lead them rather than learning from their defeat. The Democrats have seriously lost the plot.

What a relief. I was worried they had learned from the elections & might be competitive and cohesive again. 

The Hill
Conway: Pelosi reelection shows Dems missed lessons of 2016
Ben Kamisar

Patrick Henningsen — The Fake News About Fake News

The Washington Post’s McCarthyistic conspiracy theory implicating some 200 Web sites in an alleged Russian propaganda network continues to spread across mainstream media despite being debunked, as in Patrick Henningsen’s report.
While this edit ploy is ostensibly about further demonizing Russia and anyone that can be tarred with being in any way associated, it appears to me that this a media barrage coming from Clinton supporters that are trying to discredit the election. This seems to be a response to what Hillary Clinton claimed was a "vast right-wing conspiracy" during Bill's presidency. Now it appears they are trying to turn the table with a matching conspiracy to "fight fire with fire."

This incident is just part of an emerging pattern to divide the country and undermine the legitimacy of the Trump presidency. This also appears to be an attempt on the part of the Establishment to discredit alternative news sources, including but not limited to the blogosphere. It's still unfolding so we will get to find out more as "the battle for minds and hearts" heats up. It seems to be headed way beyond ordinary persuasion.

Consortium News
The Fake News About Fake News
Patrick Henningsen

Lars P. Syll — Keynes on the ‘devastating inconsistencies’ of econometrics

Keynes quote.

Lars P. Syll’s Blog
Keynes on the ‘devastating inconsistencies’ of econometrics
Lars P. Syll | Professor, Malmo University

Pat Lang — Mediaworld and the reality of East Aleppo

Someone should explain to Madeleine Albright what the actual situation is in Syria.
Sic Semper Tyrannis
Mediaworld and the reality of East Aleppo
Col. W. Patrick Lang, US Army (ret.), former military intelligence officer at the US Defense Intelligence Agency

David F. Ruccio — Value and the Marxian critique of political economy

David Ruccio jumps into the debate about Marx's profit theory.

Occasional Links & Commentary
Value and the Marxian critique of political economy
David F. Ruccio | Professor of Economics, University of Notre Dame

Bloomberg — Treasury Pick Mnuchin Says Tax Cuts to Double U.S. Growth

Trumponomics = Reaganomics?

Treasury Pick Mnuchin Says Tax Cuts to Double U.S. Growth
Saleha Mohsin and Michelle Jamrisko

See also
Steven Mnuchin, President-elect Trump’s nominee for Treasury Secretary, said today of Trump’s coming tax cut proposal, “Any reductions we have in upper-income taxes will be offset by less deductions so that there will be no absolute tax cut for the upper class.” But his assertion, on CNBC this morning, is completely at odds with the tax plan that Trump announced during the campaign, which would provide a massive tax cut for upper-income taxpayers.
To be sure, the plan that Trump announced would limit itemized deductions for high-income taxpayers (to $100,000 for individuals, $200,000 for joint filers). The value of the tax cuts that would disproportionately benefit the richest people, however, far outweighs the deduction limit. Among other benefits for wealthy filers, the Trump plan would cut the top income tax rate, the top tax rate for wealthy partnerships, and the capital gains and dividends tax rate, and it would eliminate the estate tax on massive inheritances.
As a result, under the current Trump tax plan, the top 1 percent of taxpayers would receive by far the largest tax cut as a share of income — a 14 percent increase in after-tax income, the Tax Policy Center finds. Meanwhile, the plan provides far less for those at the bottom or in the middle. As the chart shows, after-tax income would rise just 0.7 percent for those in the bottom fifth and 0.9 percent for those in the next fifth....
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Treasury Nominee’s Claims at Odds With Trump Tax Plan
Chuck Marr | Director of Federal Tax Policy

Trump’s pick for the nation’s top financial regulator sparked rave responses from Wall Street lobbyists but a firestorm from public interest groups.
‘Foreclosure King’ for Treasury
Sarah Anderson

Brazil moving forward with plan to freeze govt spending for 20 years

They should just stick to ripping off gullible visiting US athletes, they're better at that...

Jeffrey St. Clair and Alexander Cockburn — The CIA and the Press: When the Washington Post Ran the CIA’s Propaganda Network

Operation Mockingbird.

The CIA and the Press: When the Washington Post Ran the CIA’s Propaganda Network
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn

Alexander Mercouris — Vladimir Putin replaces sacked liberal Economy Minister with another liberal

So much for the theory of the liberal purge.
Appointment of Maxim Oreshkin, a former banker and Finance Ministry official, and a graduate of the Higher School of Economics, to the post of Economics Minister in place of the disgraced Alexey Ulyukaev, points President Vladimir Putin's continued commitment to the hardline monetary and fiscal policies of the Finance Ministry and Central Bank.…
Much has been written about Ulyukaev and of his past connections with Yegor Gaidar and Anatoly Chubais, the two leading liberals in the Russian government of the Yeltsin era. As I have said previously, the case against him appears to be very strong, which would mean that he is also corrupt.
The fact nonetheless remains that Ulyukaev was the only high ranking official within the government to criticise the hardline monetary and fiscal policies of the Central Bank and the Finance Ministry.

Admittedly Ulyukaev did this from a Keynesian point of view (he was obviously no supporter of the radical politician and economist Sergey Glazyev, the hero of those who want a more controlled economy) but he was at least a consistent advocate of lower interest rates and of a more gradual policy of budget cutting than are the Finance Ministry and the Central Bank.

Ulyukaev’s replacement by a former banker and official of the Finance Ministry, who is more likely to follow the Central Bank’s and the Finance Ministry’s hard line, can only reduce the interchange of economic ideas inside the government, which means that the position of the liberal hardliners in the Central Bank and the Finance Ministry – Central Bank Chair Nabiullina, Finance Minister Siluanov, and former Finance Minister Kudrin – has been strengthened....
The Duran
BREAKING: Vladimir Putin replaces sacked liberal Economy Minister
Alexander Mercouris

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Anandi Sharan — Modern Money Theory And The Demonetisation Catastrophe In India

The argument of this paper is thus that a government can never run out of money. It can rather, by definition, afford to provide full employment and all the other things mandated by the constitution in the directive principles of public poli….

Basically Modern Money Theory shows that there is no solvency risk for a government that issues its own currency. It can’t go bankrupt. It’s not possible for it to run out. You cannot spend more than tax revenue and go bust, because you can always issue more currency. But you can put your own constraints: so in (the US there is debt limit, no other country has this, the US has had it since 1913. But the debt limit has always been raised as needed, so it was a constraint that was never constraining. But sometimes there is a pressure like a political pressure recently by Republicans to try to enforce policy change. You can impose a debt limit constraint and force the government to default on its promise to pay on bonds, or social security, that is a self imposed constraint. In fact Congress can just get rid of the debt limit all together, because it is stupid.) (In India the Fiscal Reserve and Budgetary Management Act is a similar constraint that should be abolished) . There is no reason why the government cannot continue to spend simply by issuing more currency. The government debt is nothing other than private sector savings. If you have your own currency, you can always afford to spend more, so you can always afford full employment. The policy implication of modern money theory is thus that you can afford full employment and all the other things mentioned in the directive policies. There may be inflation but you cannot run out of money….

In other words the government does not understand that it can issue credit to millions of household and state government and other accounts to create demand and create work and create the money that will later come back in tax, to replace the failed global corporations, but it is in any case not the tax that is financing government spending but the money that the government has created in order for the households and small firms to be able to pay tax.
Modern Money Theory And The Demonetisation Catastrophe In India
Anandi Sharan, environmental historian and Board member of the global environmental platform CBD Alliance

Gareth Porter — How a Syrian White Helmets Leader Played Western Media

Real fake news from the White Helmets. If Western reporters were interested in doing their job, they could easily have discovered this, too.
The uncritical reliance on claims by the White Helmets without any effort to investigate their credibility is yet another telling example of journalistic malpractice by media outlets with a long record of skewing coverage of conflicts toward an interventionist narrative.
Journalistic malpractice or information war? The former requires widespread and ongoing "journalistic malpractice." That doesn’t pass the mommy test. Planted "news" for the purpose of deception and sewing confusion seems much more likely.

How a Syrian White Helmets Leader Played Western Media
Gareth Porter

Rudy Panko — BBC on Suicide Watch After Aleppo Civilians Seek Safety of Syrian Army

As the Syrian army continues to drive into the "moderate rebel" stronghold of East Aleppo, responsible western news outlets have been faced with the daunting, seemingly impossible task of turning the liberation of tens of thousands of civilians into a dark day for humanity.
Russia Insider
BBC on Suicide Watch After Aleppo Civilians Seek Safety of Syrian Army
Rudy Panko

Vladimir Putin instructed the Defence Ministry and the Ministry of Civil Defence, Emergencies and Disaster Relief to set up field hospitals in Syria with a view to providing medical assistance to the residents of Aleppo and nearby territories. This task is to be implemented within the shortest possible timeframe as per the decision of the President.

Matt Taibbi — The 'Washington Post' 'Blacklist' Story Is Shameful and Disgusting

The capital's paper of record crashes legacy media on an iceberg
Rolling Stone
The 'Washington Post' 'Blacklist' Story Is Shameful and Disgusting
Pam and Russ Martens

The Arthurian — A response to Bezemer & Hudson's "Finance is Not the Economy"

Nominal versus real.

The New Arthurian
A response to Bezemer & Hudson's "Finance is Not the Economy"
The Arthurian

Moar on "Fake News"

The Hill
'Fake news' isn't the problem — mainstream news with an agenda is
Cathy Young

The Vineyard of the Saker
Bait & Switch- Fake News, propornot, the Real Inform & Influence Operation
GH Ellison

Monday, November 28, 2016

Larry Johnson — The Cowardice of Prop Or Not

The firestorm continues. Larry Johnson did not make the list. But he is fuming anyway.

No Quarter USA
The Cowardice of Prop Or Not
Larry Johnson

Bill Mitchell — The British reality defying the ideologically-based gloom and doom

I last wrote about the aftermath of the June 2016 Brexit vote in this blog – Mayday! Mayday! The skies were meant to fall in … what happened?. Admittedly, it was written just a month after the vote and so the analysis could legitimately be considered as being tentative and was designed to refute the claims by the remainers that the UK would instantly sink into recession. It didn’t and it hasn’t. Despite the tentative nature of the blog (using the first data releases after the vote), I received a bevy of ‘hate’ E-mails, presumably from those ‘darlings’ that were miffed they didn’t get their way in the vote. Bad luck, that is the way ‘democracy’ works.
We are now at the end of June and we have more information and my conclusion in August is now more concrete. The doom and gloom that was meant to follow the vote outcome is not to be seen in the data. While we might dismiss the on-going strength of consumption expenditure as being short-termism (it might change quite rapidly), last week (November 25, 2016) we learned that private capital formation (investment) is growing strongly and a number of foreign companies have reaffirmed their commitment to on-going investment in the UK. That is forward-looking decision making – out years into the future. Doesn’t look like a Brexit calamity to me.
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
The British reality defying the ideologically-based gloom and doom
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

J. W. Mason — Socialze Finance

We already live in a planned economy. Why not make it a democratic one?
You want to read this.

Socialze Finance
J. W. Mason | assistant professor of economics at John Jay College, City University of New York and a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute

John Bellamy Foster — The Return of Engels

Engels has been eclipsed historically by Marx, but his genius is now being recognized. Marx and Engels were not only collaborators but foils for each others ideas, and Engels made significant contributions in his own right that are being acknowledged. Although they made significant theoretical contributions and are often considered as "ivory-tower" theorists, they were both au courant and engagé. They wished to understand to persuade in order to transform Dickensian social conditions they viewed as inhumane if not inhuman.
But the real shift that was to restore Engels’s reputation as a major classical Marxist theorist alongside Marx was to emanate not from historians and political economists, but from natural scientists. In 1975 Stephen Jay Gould, writing in Natural History, openly celebrated Engels’s theory of human evolution, which had emphasized the role of labor, describing it as the most advanced conception of human evolutionary development in the Victorian age — one which had anticipated the anthropological discovery in the twentieth century of Australopithecus africanus.
A few years later, in 1983, Gould extended his argument in the New York Review of Books, pointing out that all theories of human evolution were theories of “gene-culture coevolution,” and that “the best nineteenth-century case for gene-culture coevolution was made by Friedrich Engels in his remarkable essay of 1876 (posthumously published in The Dialectics of Nature), ‘The part played by labor in the transition from ape to man.’”
That same year, medical sociologist and MD Howard Waitzkin devoted much of his landmark The Second Sickness to Engels’s pioneering role as a social epidemiologist, showing how the twenty-four-year-old Engels, while writing The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844, had explored the etiology of disease in ways that prefigured later discoveries within public health. Two years after this, in 1985, Richard Lewontin and Richard Levins came out with their now classic The Dialectical Biologist, with its pointed dedication: “To Frederick Engels, who got it wrong a lot of the time but who got it right where it counted.”
The Return of Engels
John Bellamy Foster | editor of Monthly Review and professor of sociology at the University of Oregon

Pam and Russ Martens — A Closer Look at Donald Trump’s Chief Strategist, Stephen K. Bannon

The Citizens United connection. More dots to connect.

Wall Street On Parade
A Closer Look at Donald Trump’s Chief Strategist, Stephen K. Bannon
Pam and Russ Martens

Paul Craig Roberts — Dear President Putin

Snark as smackdown.

Paul Craig Roberts Blog
Dear President Putin
Paul Craig Roberts, formerly Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal

Jason Smith — The scope of introductory economics

Basically, economics isn't approached as an empirical theoretical framework with well-defined scope. It is not set up from the beginning to be amenable to experiments that control the scope and produce data (quantitative or qualitative observations) that can be compared with theory. I'll try and show what I mean using introductory level material -- even qualitative.
Information Transfer Economics
The scope of introductory economics
Jason Smith

Paul Robinson — War: what’s in a word?

Postmodernism doesn't mix with national security and foreign policy.

War: what’s in a word?
Paul Robinson | Professor, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa

Paul Krugman loses it on Twitter

So Comey and Putin installed a crazy, vindictive can't-handle-the-truth person in the White House. Scary.

Dave Lindorff — Confessions of an Alleged ‘Russian Propagandist’: A Pentagon Hit?

The mother of all smackdowns.
If any of this stuff is correct, it means that this whole effort to tar the country’s leading alternative news sites and leading independent journalists on left and right as Russian agents working as part of a propaganda conspiracy is really just a gigantic “fake news” story perpetrated by the government, and worse perhaps, the military — with the willing connivance of one of the country’s leading newspapers — an idea that should turn the stomach and infuriate any real American.
Confessions of an Alleged ‘Russian Propagandist’: A Pentagon Hit?
Dave Lindorff, a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective

Michael Krieger — Liberty Blitzkrieg Included on Washington Post Highlighted Hit List of “Russian Propaganda” Websites

More smackdown.

Liberty Blitzkrieg
Liberty Blitzkrieg Included on Washington Post Highlighted Hit List of “Russian Propaganda” Websites
Michael Krieger

Riley Waggaman — Useful Idiots at Washington Post Publish Obvious Kremlin Disinfo, Discredit American Journalism Forever

The Washington Post has exposed 200 mostly random websites as digital fronts for the Russian government. The problem is that the obscure blog they cite is basically brain cell genocide. Only the sinister Russians could make one of America's most cherished newspapers look so silly — right?
Humor is the ultimate smackdown.

Russia Insider
Useful Idiots at Washington Post Publish Obvious Kremlin Disinfo, Discredit American Journalism Forever
Riley Waggaman

John J. Mearsheimer — Donald Trump Should Embrace a Realist Foreign Policy

There are many reasons to be deeply worried about a Donald Trump presidency. But if he makes the right choices, he could fundamentally alter U.S. foreign policy for the better.
Trump campaigned against America’s powerful foreign policy community—what one of President Obama’s advisors derisively labeled “the Blob.” Its members include prominent Democrats and Republicans with similar views on foreign policy. He accused them of producing “one foreign policy disaster after another,” and promised to “develop a new foreign policy direction for our country.” This was precisely the message many voters wanted to hear, and the president-elect now has the opportunity to change how the United States deploys its power around the world....
The National Interest
Donald Trump Should Embrace a Realist Foreign Policy
John J. Mearsheimer | R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago

Reuters — U.S. shoppers spend 3.5% less yoy over holiday weekend amid discounting

NRF Chief Executive Officer Matt Shay said the drop in spending is a direct result of the early promotions and deeper discounts offered throughout the season.
U.S. shoppers spend less over holiday weekend amid discounting
Nandita Bose

Bill Black — The Washington Post’s Propaganda about Russian Propaganda

Sheriff Bill jumps into the fray on fake news about fake news with a Class A smackdown of the Washington Post.

New Economic Perspectives
The Washington Post’s Propaganda about Russian Propaganda
William K. Black | Associate Professor of Economics and Law, UMKC

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke — How to end the Punch and Judy show about profit

Comment on Fred Moseley and Peter Dorman on ‘It’s Red Friday and Time to Discuss the Role of Exploitation in Profit’
AXEC: New Foundations of Economics
How to end the Punch and Judy show about profit
Egmont Kakarot-Handtke | University of Stuttgart - Institute of Economics and Law

William K. Black — Howard Dean Wants to Continue Austerity’s Assault on the Working Class

The Democrats are never ever going to figure this out because they are fixated on the Clinton surplus.

And even if they do figure it out, in order to be effective politically, persuasion has to be based on a moral argument rather than reasoning in terms of economic theory and providing facts and figures.

The fundamental problem is that a majority of Americans of all classes view indebtedness as immoral and irresponsible, especially growing indebtedness . 

This is going to be a tough nut to crack. 

While reasoning may be part of the argument, it is unlikely to carry the day with enough people to reverse course in the polls that politicians look at.

The framing must be based on morality rather than reason to work politically, and the argument must be based chiefly on rhetoric (persuasion) rather than logic (reasoning from evidence).

Conservatives figured this out long ago. Liberals are still clueless about it for the most part and when they attempt to use it they are clumsy with it because it doesn't fit their thinking style.

This does not imply countering the indebtedness is immoral view with arguments against that view, which will only reinforce it in the minds of those holding it. Cognitive scientist George Lakoff observes that most people  "moderates" comprising the political "center." They are biconceptual and hold aspects of the conservative and liberal world views characterized by the strict father world view and nurturing partner world view respectively. Even those whose view is dominated by the strict father are susceptible to appeal to the nurturing parent view. Moreover, dominance can shift through persuasion. The "Reagan Democrats" are a good example.

Rather than argue against the strict father-conservative point of view, liberals should instead appeal to the nurturing parent world view that they hold. Polling shows that most Americans are more inclined to the nutting parent world view and can be persuaded by arguments based on the morality of this point of view.

New Economic Perspectives
Howard Dean Wants to Continue Austerity’s Assault on the Working Class
William K. Black | Associate Professor of Economics and Law, UMKC

Foreign bank lending dominates trade finance

Good backgrounder examining issues related to possible US tariffs on imports ... here's the nugget:

around 80% of commercial bank and ECA-backed trade finance lending into Asia is from non-US institutions

So accordingly practically all changes of the foreign exchange rates vs. USD are a function of foreign institution balance sheet regulatory adjustments in response to USD price changes of the financed products.

Check and checkmate.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Philip Giraldi — The Fake News Fake Story

Another smackdown, this one by Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer.
The mainstream media, which clearly is having some difficulty in explaining why anyone should pay attention to it, is eager to discover new reasons why the reporting in the lead-up to the elections was so awful. It is convenient to claim that the Russians planted false stories, and furthermore are attempting to destroy our democracy, which would be a good segue if only anyone would actually believe any of it. The fact is that the public does not trust the media because the reporting has been both intrinsically biased and selective, with Team Clinton being the beneficiary of the status quo far more often than not in the recent electoral campaign. The clearly perceived bias is precisely why the public seeks out alternative sources of information and latches on to fake stories—and while it may be true that a Russian government ministry is responsible for some of what is being produced, the allegation that there exists a plot to destroy American democracy is a bridge way too far. The Democratic and Republican parties are already doing that without any help from Moscow.
The American Conservative
The Fake News Fake Story
Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is executive director of the Council for the National Interest

Bill Mitchell — Poor fiction from the OECD – the organisation should be abolished

In assessing the role of the multilateral international institutions such as the IMF, the World Bank, and the OECD, one has to have an idea of what their purpose is. The IMF was created to provide funding support to nations under the Bretton Woods system of fixed exchange rates when their trading accounts endangered their capacity to sustain the agreed parities. After the system collapsed in August 1971 (effectively), the IMF had no further purpose. It reinvented itself as a neo-liberal attack dog on government intervention, and, as such, has no progressive (productive) role to play and should be scrapped. Similarly, the World Bank. The OECD was created (as the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC)) to manage the Marshall Plan funds that Canada and the US provided to reconstruct Europe at the end of World War II. It has similarly outlived its productive purpose and is now a major source of disinformation. Even in the realm of fiction, there are much better fiction writers than exist within the bowels of the OECD in Paris. Its latest entreaty, specifically – Using the fiscal levers to escape the low-growth trap – from the exemplifies the way in which the OECD chooses to perpetuate myths about government policy options, even when its message might appear reasonable to progressive eyes and ears. That is the problem really, by buying into the neo-liberal scam that mainstream economists have been running for the last 3 or 4 decades, progressive politicians and their apparatchiks have no room to move and will applaud the OECD’s current message, not realising how destructive that complicity becomes. That has been the problem all along and Trump, Brexit and the rising extremism in Europe is the outcome. Reap what you sow!
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
Poor fiction from the OECD – the organisation should be abolished
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

David Swanson — How I Produce Fake News for RussiaCraig Timberg, disinformation, information war, McCarthyism, propaganda, PropOrNot, Washington Post,

I'm losing count of the smackdowns.
The smackdowns are piling up.
Apparently I’ve written “fake news” on behalf of Russia without ever receiving a dime from Russia or realizing what I was doing. It took the intrepid reporting of the Washington Post to alert me to what I have been engaged in. My “fake news” has been published in at least 18 Russian propaganda outlets included on the Washington Post-endorsed Enemies List.
They are,,,,,,, (that one is actually Russian),,,,,,,,,, and
Since everything I write is also at it’s a safe bet that that’s a Russian propaganda site as well, even though I hadn’t realized it.
In all seriousness, there is very likely Russian propaganda to be found somewhere, since Russia tried to hire me a-year-and-a-half ago to produce it. I turned them down and blogged about their offer. Quite likely not everyone turns them down. But even voter fraud or intelligent Washington Post articles can be found eventually if you look hard enough.
I have also turned down all invitations to conferences in Russia, due to colleagues’ fears of false accusations that it turns out arrive anyway. I have also repeatedly gone on Russian media and denounced actions by the Russian government, due to the fact that that was what I thought of those actions.

And yet somehow I’ve produced a veritable flood of Russian propaganda, most of it not even mentioning Russia at all. I’ve given some thought to how this has happened. Here’s my best explanation:
Washington's Blog
How I Produce Fake News for Russia
David Swanson

Timberg’s piece on the supposed ubiquity of Russian propaganda is misleading in several other ways. The other primary “expert” upon which the article relies is Clint Watts, a fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, a pro-Western think tank whose board of advisers includes neoconservative figures like infamous orientalist scholar Bernard Lewis and pro-imperialist Robert D. Kaplan, the latter of whom served on the U.S. government’s Defense Policy Board.
What the Post does not mention in its report is that Watts, one of the specialists it relies on for its claims, previously worked as an FBI special agent on a Joint Terrorism Task Force and as the executive officer of the U.S. Military Academy’s Combating Terrorism Center. As Fortune’s Ingram wrote of the group, it is “a conservative think tank funded and staffed by proponents of the Cold War between the U.S. and Russia.”
PropOrNot is by no means a neutral observer. It actively calls on Congress and the White House to work “with our European allies to disconnect Russia from the SWIFT financial transaction system, effective immediately and lasting for at least one year, as an appropriate response to Russian manipulation of the election.”
In other words, this blacklisting group of anonymous cowards — putative experts in the pages of the Washington Post — is actively pushing for Western governments to take punitive measures against the Russian government and is speaking and smearing from an extreme ideological framework that the Post concealed from its readers.
The Lying Washington Post Gets Exposed, And All Major U.S. ‘News’ Media Refuse to Report ItEric Zuesse

Truthdig — Journalists Cry Foul After Washington Post Publishes Story Supporting ‘Blacklist’ of News Sites

The smackdowns are multiplying.
Only the Post’s journalists know their own motives for sure, but by running stories like this without proper vetting—and without contacting blacklisted sources for comment—the rest of us are left to read between the lines. What we see spells trouble for press freedom at a crucial moment.
Journalists Cry Foul After Washington Post Publishes Story Supporting ‘Blacklist’ of News Sites

Mallory Shelbourne — Cruz predicts 'pitchforks and torches in the streets' if GOP doesn't deliver

“If we’re given the White House and both houses of Congress and we don’t deliver, I think there will be pitchforks and torches in the streets. And I think quite rightly,” he told ABC’s “This Week.”
You betcha!

The Hill
Cruz predicts 'pitchforks and torches in the streets' if GOP doesn't deliver
Mallory Shelbourne

Robert Parry — Washington Post’s ‘Fake News’ Guilt

Add another smackdown to the growing list.
The mainstream U.S. media’s hysteria over “fake news” has reached its logical (or illogical) zenith, a McCarthyistic black-listing of honest journalism that simply shows professional skepticism toward Officialdom, including what’s said by U.S. government officials and what’s written in The Washington Post and New York Times.
Apparently, to show skepticism now opens you to accusations of disseminating “Russian propaganda” or being a “useful idiot” or some similar ugly smear reminiscent of the old Cold War. Now that we have entered a New Cold War, I suppose it makes sense that we should expect a New McCarthyism....
Consortium News
Washington Post’s ‘Fake News’ Guilt
Robert Parry

Peter Turchin — Who Are the Elites?

“Elites” (and “elite overproduction”) are key concepts in the structural-demographic theory (SDT). In this blog post I’d like to explain the meaning of this term. This is especially important because the popular usage (see Liberal Elite) has very little in common with the sociological definition (which is how it’s used in SDT). Thus, we have “Trump vs. the Elites” which is, sociologically speaking, nonsense.
As a term in sociology, elites are simply a small segment of the society who concentrate social power in their hands. They are the power-holders (and I increasingly use this term in my lectures, to avoid confusing them with those “latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading” folks that the right-wingers love to hate).
Next question, what is social power? Answer: ability to influence other people’s behavior. Sociologists such as Michael Mann distinguish four sources of social power: military (coercion), economic, administrative or political, and ideological.
Put simply, there are many ways to influence people behavior. I can make you to do something by force, or a threat of force; I can pay you to do it; I can order you; or I can persuade you. The last is one of the most important, if often underappreciated, forms of social power....
Elite = social power. See, for instance, C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite.

Cliodynamica — A Blog about the Evolution of Civilizations
Who Are the Elites?
Peter Turchin | Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Connecticut, Research Associate in the School of Anthropology, University of Oxford, and Vice-President of the Evolution Institute

George Lakoff — A Minority President: Why the Polls Failed, And What the Majority Can Do

A cognitive science analysis of the election.
I will argue that the nature of mind is not a mere technical issue for the cognitive and brain sciences, but that it had everything to do with the outcome of the 2016 election — and the failure of the pollsters, the media, and Democrats to predict it. They were not alone. The public needs to understand better how the human mind works in general — but especially in politics. There is a lot to know. Let us go step by step….

Humans act much more in terms of presumptions of which we are not consciously aware, unlike assumptions of which we are conscious. Presumptions are hidden assumptions. Understanding now this operates is based on understanding the neurology from the point of view of cognitive science.
We can only understand what our brain circuitry allows us to understand. If facts don’t fit the worldviews in our brains, the facts may not even be noticed — or they may be puzzling, or ignored, or rejected outright, or if threatening, attacked....
Why do people vote against their interests? Because they vote their values. Republicans got this. Democrats didn't.
For each type of conservative, the main issue is one’s identity, which is defined by strict father values. One can have a religious version, a business version, or a working class resentment version, but in each case self-identity is the issue. That is why those who voted for Trump didn’t care if he constantly lied, or if he treated women outrageously, or if he was ignorant of foreign policy. What mattered was the voter’s moral identity, the voter’s sense of right and wrong, the voter’s self-respect as a conservative.
Trump and those in his campaign understood this. Those in the Democratic party, the media, and pollsters did not.
Moreover, values can be shaped. Conservatives have been working on this for decades. As result, many of the white working class voted against their economic interests, generally more supported by liberals, in favor of their more deeply seated conservative values.

This is a bit longish and somewhat repetitive for those who are already familiar with Lakoff. But it is a good summary and worth the read.

Incidentally, this accords in some ways with Scott Adams' view about persuasion versus reason in that both are based on psychology rather than reason. Lakoff and Adams view reason as the booby prize in politics.

George Lakoff
A Minority President: Why the Polls Failed, And What the Majority Can Do
George Lakoff | Emeritus Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley, and Director of the Center for the Neural Mind & Society

Daniel Little — Coarse-graining of complex systems

The question of the relationship between micro-level and macro-level is just as important in physics as it is in sociology. Is it possible to derive the macro-states of a system from information about the micro-states of the system? It turns out that there are some surprising aspects of the relationship between micro and macro that physical systems display. The mathematical technique of "coarse-graining" represents an interesting wrinkle on this question. So what is coarse-graining? Fundamentally it is the idea that we can replace micro-level specifics with local-level averages, without reducing our ability to calculate macro-level dynamics of behavior of a system....
Understanding Society
Coarse-graining of complex systems
Daniel Little | Chancellor of the University of Michigan-Dearborn, Professor of Philosophy at UM-Dearborn and Professor of Sociology at UM-Ann Arbor

Daniel Little — What is the role of character in action?

I've been seriously interested in the question of character since being invited to contribute to a volume on the subject a few years ago. That volume, Questions of Character, has now appeared in print, and it is an excellent and engaging contribution. Iskra Fileva was the director of the project and is the editor of the volume, and she did an excellent job in selecting topics and authors. She also wrote an introduction to the volume and introductions to all five parts of the collection. It would be possible to look at Fileva's introductions collectively as a very short book on character by themselves.
So what is "character"? To start, it is a concept of the actor that draws our attention to enduring characteristics of moral and practical propensities, rather than focusing on the moment of choice and the criteria recommended by the ethicist on the basis of which to make choices. Second, it is an idea largely associated with the "virtue" ethics of Aristotle. The other large traditions in the history of ethics -- utilitarianism and Kantian ethics, or consequentialist and deontological theories -- have relatively little to say about character, focusing instead on action, rules, and moral reasoning. And third, it is distinguished from other moral ideas by its close affinity to psychology as well as philosophy. It has to do with the explanation of the behavior of ordinary people, not just philosophical ideas about how people ought to behave.

This is a fundamentally important question for anyone interested in formulating a theory of the actor. To hold that human beings sometimes have "character" is to say that they have enduring features of agency that sometimes drive their actions in ways that override the immediate calculation of costs and benefits, or the immediate satisfaction of preferences. For example, a person might have the virtues of honesty, courage, or fidelity -- leading him or her to tell the truth, resist adversity, or keep commitments and promises, even when there is an advantage to be gained by doing the contrary. Or conceivably a person might have vices -- dishonesty, cruelty, egotism -- that lead him or her to act accordingly -- sometimes against personal advantage....
Understanding Society
What is the role of character in action?
Daniel Little | Chancellor of the University of Michigan-Dearborn, Professor of Philosophy at UM-Dearborn and Professor of Sociology at UM-Ann Arbor

Unlearning Economics — What should we do with econometrics?

Getting real.

What should we do with econometrics?
Unlearning Economics

William K Black: America Economic Collapse Financial AUDIO ONLY

William Black says that nothing has improved in the US economy and that another banking collapse is eminent because the bankers got away with their crimes. But its's not all doom and gloom and he does offer hope if certain policies are carried out even if the crooks do own the government.

Published on 18 Nov 2016
ORiginal Published on Nov 12, 2016
William K Black, America Economic Collapse.

Economic Collapse - America - Financial Cr - US dollar collapse - William K. Black I created this video with the YouTube Video .

Trump ADMITS Global Warming Is REAL!

Trump is to the left of the Republican party on many issues. Social Security, Medicare, trade deals, and on the causes of climate change.

Published on 25 Nov 2016
Donald Trump recently reversed his opinion that global warming was fake and seems to believe it is actually caused by humans now.

Ron Paul Institute — Washington Post Peddles Tarring of Ron Paul Institute as Russian Propaganda

Another smackdown.

The Ron Paul Institute
Washington Post Peddles Tarring of Ron Paul Institute as Russian Propaganda
adam dick

Adam Garrie — Francois Fillon wins French primary, faces Marine Le Pen for presidency

The next French government will be Russia-friendly, not matter who wins, assuming that Hollande's party is toast after Hollande foolishly trashed the brand. The contest is now between Fillon and LePen. Garrie explains why he thinks LePen will win.

The Duran
BREAKING: Francois Fillon wins French primary, faces Marine Le Pen for presidency
Adam Garrie

Hillary Counterattacks

Many Clinton Democrats are both in denial and in desperation.
Even if they never touched a voting machine, there’s absolutely no doubt: Russia hacked the election....
Daily Kos
By any definition, Russia hacked the election.
Mark Sumner
The Clinton campaign is clearly trying to see if they can play the Russia card and alleged that the votes in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin were hacked. They said they were now investigating “any actionable evidence of hacking or outside attempts to alter the voting technology.”
While the vote was overwhelming reaching more than a 70,000 margin in Pennsylvania for Trump, Hillary is trying to still play the Russia card. I warned about this for it was being discussed prior to the election. Plan B from the outset was always to call the election a FRAUD and deny Trump to take office. With 99% of newspapers endorsing Hillary, the media will be on board to try to call the election a fraud....
Armstrong Economics
Clinton Hinting Plan B – Blame Putin
Martin Armstrong
At least as I was taught and trained, it is standard military practice, on taking an enemy position, to immediately begin defensive preparations to receive an almost inevitable counterattack. I hope for the sake of America, that President - Elect Trump and his team have made the adequate preparations for the counterattack because in my opinion the Hilary backers are now upon them.
I refer to Four events; Two are courtesy of the Washington Post and obviously made with the approval of its owner.