Monday, October 16, 2017

Jason Goodman: Sunday With Charles - Yes, Mr. President?

I've been fascinated by Jason Goodman's YouTube videos for few days now since I came across him last week. He's a conservative who supports Trump and he has these broadcasts with interesting people on the right who are really sick of the neoliberal order, the Deep State, the CIA, the MSM, and all the creatures in the swamp, left and right. In this video Jason Goodman talks to Charles Ortel and Stuart Dean of Medium.com about the Clinton Foundation. It's a real insight into the inner workings of Washington and the Deep State. These videos can be a bit slow and I'm sure a lot of people won't make it to the end, but to me it's like a fly on the wall look at the One Percent. These guys know the inner workings of it all.


Brad Voracek — Reimagining “right-to-work”

“Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.” This is Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights declared by the UN in 1948. It sounds like a pretty good right to me. That’s why when I learned about “right-to-work” states in America I was dumbfounded. I thought we were fulfilling this right in my own country and I hadn’t even heard about it! Why were people still unemployed if we had a right to work?

It only took a few minutes of research to find out that the “right-to-work” laws some states have are nothing like the fundamental human right. What these laws actually do is defend a worker’s right not to be required to join a labor union to work at a company....
Hey, the essence of capitalism is free-riding, also known as rentierism.

The Minskys
Reimagining “right-to-work”
Brad Voracek

Tom Luongo — Russia’s Crypto-Ruble Just Changed the Game


Well-reasoned analysis from an cryptocurrency advocate's point of view:  A win for cryptocurrency and a win for Putin that will be a win for Russia.

Gold Goats n Guns
Russia’s Crypto-Ruble Just Changed the Game
Tom Luongo

also

Paul Robinson — Impossible victory


Update on Ukraine.

Irrussianality
Impossible victory
Paul Robinson | Professor, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa



Zero Hedge — "There Were No Calls, That’s Absolutely Crazy": How The Stock Market Died


Bubbles, bubbles, bubbles? Another game of musical chairs?

Zero Hedge
"There Were No Calls, That’s Absolutely Crazy": How The Stock Market Died
Tyler Durden

Zero Hedge — Treasury Yield Curve Crashes To Post-Crisis Flats


Not a good indicator of the business cycle, but it is a pretty fair indicator that inflation expectations are not rising.

Zero Hedge
Recession Red Flag Rears Its Ugly Head - Treasury Yield Curve Crashes To Post-Crisis Flats
Tyler Durden

Sputnik — Vladimir Putin Endorses Russia's New Cryptocurrency


Rumors confirmed.
After months of speculation and conflicting messages, ministers have announced the Russian Federation is to issue its own official cryptocurrency - the CryptoRuble. The landmark development makes Russia the very first government in the world to official pursue virtual tender.
China likely not to be far behind.

Interesting article. Short and worth a read in full.

Sputnik International
Vladimir Putin Endorses Russia's New Cryptocurrency

Pat Lang — Kurdistan - yet another long term British and US policy triumph


Backgrounder on the British creation of Iraq.

Sic Semper Tyrannis
Kurdistan - yet another long term British and US policy triumph
Col. W. Patrick Lang, US Army (ret.)
At the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lang was the Defense Intelligence Officer (DIO) for the Middle East, South Asia and counter-terrorism, and later, the first Director of the Defense Humint Service. At the DIA, he was a member of the Defense Senior Executive Service. He participated in the drafting of National Intelligence Estimates. From 1992 to 1994, all the U.S. military attachés worldwide reported to him. During that period, he also briefed President George H. W. Bush at the White House, as he had during Operation Desert Storm.
He was also the head of intelligence analysis for the Middle East for seven or eight years at that institution. He was the head of all the Middle East and South Asia analysis in DIA for counter-terrorism for seven years. For his service in the DIA, Lang received the Presidential Rank Award of Distinguished Executive. — Wikipedia

Mark Hosenball — Firm behind Trump dossier declines to respond to House panel's subpoena

The U.S. political research firm that commissioned a dossier on Donald Trump while he was running for president said on Monday it would not comply with subpoenas issued by the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee.
Reuters
Firm behind Trump dossier declines to respond to House panel's subpoena
Mark Hosenball

Also
The three co-founders of Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm responsible for overseeing the creation of the infamous “Trump dossier”, will refuse to comply with a subpoena ordered by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, according to a letter from their attorneys originally obtained by Business Insider.
But experts say the argument their lawyers are using to ask that they be excused relies on shaky legal grounds, and is unlikely to hold.Zero Hedge
Firm Behind "Trump Dossier" Refuses To Comply With Congressional Subpoena
Tyler Durden

Business Insider
The founders of the firm behind the Trump-Russia dossier say they'll refuse to testify before the House Intelligence Committee
Natasha Bertrand

Good luck, guys. You are now in the crosshairs.

David P. Hamilton — Understanding the ‘Fake News’ Hysteria


It's about controlling the narrative.
For the most part, “fake news” is a fake concept designed by the corporate news media to discredit those who challenge the official U.S. hegemonic narrative. The typical MSM fake news accusation starts with some egregious fictionalization and then morphs over to the real targets: the subversives, those who would dispute foundational elements of the official history or its recent approved updates.

The New York Times building in Manhattan. (Photo credit: Robert Parry)
These subversive elements are likely to question important myths, such as the necessity of the nuclear incineration of Hiroshima or – before the Iraq War – Saddam Hussein possessing WMD, and hence must be silenced.
There are people in this world who write what they know to be fiction and try to pass it off as fact. Many of them work for the CIA and related institutions. Then, there are satirists like The Onion who write fictionalized truth. These professional prevaricators are not what draws the ire of the corporate “news.”...
Are the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, et al, lying knowingly? Not exactly. The news media doesn’t have to invent the lies, only repeat them. They are mainly the stenographers of governmental agencies that provide the raw material to be quoted, invariably substantiating the validity of the official position. The owners of those news outlets likely believe that narrative, but mainly they want you to believe it.
The pundits and talking heads of those news media, the on-camera personalities, must think within the parameters the official narrative or they wouldn’t have been hired to the position of highly paid spokesperson for it....
How objective can you be about issues of income inequality when you’ve been the top .0001% for six or seven generations? And if one dare to go off the reservation, the next thing you know you’ll be working for RT for a lot less money like Ed Schultz.
Consortium News
Understanding the ‘Fake News’ Hysteria
David P. Hamilton

Asia Unhedged — War of words shakes China’s policy circles over response to possible Korean war

The CP analysis says details of the Zhu-Jia face off recently surfaced in the Singapore daily Lianhe Zaobao. The island nation’s largest Chinese-language newspaper said the pair represented two distinct schools of thought on the security implications for China stirred by the North Korea crisis.
“On one front, a conservative ‘leftist’ school sees the US and South Korea using Pyongyang’s nuclear program as a pretext to reduce China’s strategic space,” CP said in a summary of the Lianhe Zaobao piece.
“A more liberal ‘rightist’ school on the opposing front emphasizes the threat North Korea poses to China, urging closer cooperation with the international community. While neither school is unified, their views regarding the origins and consequences of North Korea’s nuclear program are starkly divided,” CP added....
The "leftist" view is based on understanding US foreign policy experts and military strategists concerning US hegemony.

The "rightist" view is about China assuming a leadership role in the international community based on "fitting into" the global order, with a view of influencing it as China grows in economic power.

In my estimation the leftists are probably being more practical here, in that the Western liberal order is used as a subterfuge for advancing Western positions, neoliberalism, neo-imperialism and neocolonialism being different facets of the same position that represents itself as being based on "Western values."

Asia Times
War of words shakes China’s policy circles over response to possible Korean war
Asia Unhedged

T.J. Coles — Out of Control: A Brief History of Neoliberal Deregulation in the USA


Backgrounder. Using government capture to favor special interests ("capital").

Truthout
Out of Control: A Brief History of Neoliberal Deregulation in the USA
T.J. Coles, Clairview Books | Book Excerpt

Matias Vernengo — Why Latin American Nations Fail

Book has finally been published. I just got my copies. And yes it is a critique of New Institutionalist views and the title a play with the Acemoglu and Robinson's book title. From the back cover.
"The question of development is a major topic in courses across the social sciences and history, particularly those focused on Latin America. Many scholars and instructors have tried to pinpoint, explain, and define the problem of underdevelopment in the region. With new ideas have come new strategies that by and large have failed to explain or reduce income disparity and relieve poverty in the region. Why Latin American Nations Fail brings together leading Latin Americanists from several disciplines to address the topic of how and why contemporary development strategies have failed to curb rampant poverty and underdevelopment throughout the region. Given the dramatic political turns in contemporary Latin America, this book offers a much-needed explanation and analysis of the factors that are key to making sense of development today."
You can get it here.
Naked Keynesianism
Why Latin American Nations Fail
Matias Vernengo | Associate Professor of Economics, Bucknell University

Joseph Thomas — US Meddling Across Southeast Asia


Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Burma.

NEO
US Meddling Across Southeast Asia
Joseph Thomas | chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas

Note: The New Atlas site is not accessible on Safari, Firefox, Brave or Tor browsers.


Some links


Hat tip Lambert Strether at Naked Capitalism.

Bruce Boghosian runs the numbers and shows that without redistribution of wealth, the rich get richer and everyone else gets poorer…
Using a mathematical model devised to mimic a simplified version of the free market, he and colleagues are finding that, without redistribution, wealth becomes increasingly more concentrated, and inequality grows until almost all assets are held by an extremely small percent of people.
“Our work refutes the idea that free markets, by virtually leaving people up to their own devices, will be fair,” he said. “Our model, which is able to explain the form of the actual wealth distribution with remarkable accuracy, also shows that free markets cannot be stable without redistribution mechanisms. The reality is precisely the opposite of what so-called ‘market fundamentalists’ would have us believe.”...
Inevitably, some people ask Boghosian about the political implications of his research, but he tries to stay focused on the math. Still, when pressed, he said intervention is necessary.
“If the natural mechanisms of a market economy are such that what seems fair isn’t, and leads to concentration of wealth in the absence of intervention,” he said, “if that’s true, then by the same ethical calculus that outlaws pyramid schemes and justifies consumer protection laws, we need to protect people from the natural inclinations of free-market economics.”
Worth reading in full.

Tufts Now
The Mathematics of Inequality 
Taylor McNeil

Being poor results in a downward spiral. Good reason to adopt a job guarantee that matches individuals to work.

The Atlantic
The Barriers Stopping Poor People From Moving to Better Jobs
Alana Semuels

This article focuses on the decline of research, which is important, but it is only one of the issues involving the push to "save money" in education.

The Atlantic
The Decline of the Midwest's Public Universities Threatens to Wreck Its Most Vibrant Economies
Jon Marcus



Shireen Hunter — The Real Causes of America’s Troubled Relations with Iran


Backgrounder. Short and insightful.

Diane Coyle — Economic observation

On Friday all the researchers in the new Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence(ESCoE) met at its home in the National Institute to catch up on the range of projects and it was terrific to hear about the progress and challenges across the entire span of the research programme.
One of the projects is concerned with measuring uncertainty in economic statistics and communicating that uncertainty. The discussion sent me back to Oskar Morgenstern’s 1950 On the Accuracy of Economic Observations (I have the 2nd, 1963, edition). It’s a brilliant book, too little remembered. Morgenstern is somewhat pessimistic about both how meaningful economic statistics can be and whether people will ever get their heads around the inherent uncertainty.
“The indisputable fact that our final gross national product or national income data cannot possibly be free of error raises the question whether the computation of growth rates has any value whatsoever,” he writes, after showing that even small errors in levels data imply big margins of error in growth rates.
This is a huge problem scientifically and one that is acute in economics since data are evidence that tested hypotheses generated as theorems from the axioms of a theory.

There are two foundational issues in economics. The first is data collection and processing in specific cases. The second is the worth of historical data.

Even using contemporary methods there is a lot of uncertainty and fuzziness. But when it comes to historical data and its use comparatively, questions arise whether this "data" has any actual value at all.

A big problem arises from the rationalistic bent of conventional economics that places great emphasis on formal modeling when formal consistency has no bearing on semantic truth. Scientific models have to be tethered to reality through definitions and then tested against evidence. This requires accurate data.

Output can be no more accurate than the precision and reliability of measurement. This requires replicability of empirical testing.

Big Data might held overcome this and in real time, but Big Data doesn't generate theory. Without theory there is no predictive capacity based on understanding in terms of causal explanation, which is considered to be a necessary condition in scientific explanation.

The Enlightened Economist
Economic observation
Diane Coyle | freelance economist and a former advisor to the UK Treasury. She is a member of the UK Competition Commission and is acting Chairman of the BBC Trust, the governing body of the British Broadcasting Corporation

David F. Ruccio — Tackle this!

The latest IMF Fiscal Monitor, “Tackling Inequality,” is out and it represents a direct challenge to the United States.
Occasional Links & Commentary
Tackle this!
David F. Ruccio | Professor of Economics, University of Notre Dame

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Rick Bookstaber — Can We have an ETF Meltdown?


Rick Bookstaber explains how the EFT market in illiquid assets like high yield bonds creates an illusion of liquidity that is not there.

Rick Bookstaber
Can We have an ETF Meltdown?
Rick Bookstaber | Chief Risk Officer for the $110 billion pension and endowment of the University of California

Bill Mitchell — Wolfgang Schäuble is gone but his disastrous legacy will continue

History is often made by single, very powerful individuals acting on their own mission according to their own calling. Many of these individuals are seemingly immune to the reality around them and try to recreate their own reality – sometimes succeeding to advance the well-being of those around them and beyond, but, usually, they just leave the main stage after creating havoc. I could name names. But only one name is relevant for today’s blog – Wolfgang Schäuble, the former CDU German Minister for Finance. Schäuble resigned that role after the recent German elections and is now being feted by the mainstream press as some sort of visionary who kept the Eurozone together through his disciplined thinking and his resistance to populist ideas that would have broken the discipline imposed on Member States by the European Finance Ministers. History tells us differently. He has overseen a disastrous period in European history where its major step towards political and economic integration in the 1990s has delivered dysfunctional and divergent outcomes for the Member States. Some countries (Greece) has been ruined by the policies he championed while others are in serious trouble. Further, despite him claiming the monetary union has been successful, the fact is that the Eurozone is still together only because the ECB has been effectively violating the no bailout articles of the Treaty of Lisbon via its various quantitative easing programs since May 2010. Should it stayed within the ‘law’ of the union, then several nations would have been forced into insolvency between 2010 and 2012. The problem is that while Schäuble is now gone from the political stage, his disastrous legacy will continue....
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
Wolfgang Schäuble is gone but his disastrous legacy will continue
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Scott Humor — A Brief History of the “Kremlin Trolls”


Backgrounder

The Vineyard of the Saker
A Brief History of the “Kremlin Trolls”
Scott Humor | Director of Research and Development

Asia Times — PBOC’s Zhou says China will maintain proactive fiscal policy

Zhou Xiaochuan, President of the People’s Bank of China, said that the nation will continue to implement a proactive fiscal policy and a prudent monetary policy, and continue to fight shadow banking, the real estate bubble and other risks, China Securities Journal reported.
“China’s price level has remained stable, the foreign exchange market has ran smoothly and cross-border capital flows were balanced,” Zhou said. “China will further expand the financial industry, actively use new financial technology and tackle possible challenges.”
Staff

Justin Huebner — The CIA's Plan to Assassinate Greek PM Karamanlis For Ties to Russia

Last Monday the main Russian TV news channel, Vesti, ran a sensational investigative piece on the main evening news alleging that back in 2009 Russian Intelligence uncovered a plot by the CIA to remove then prime minister Kostas Karmamanlis from office, and assassinate him if necessary, for his support of Russia, in particular the South Stream gas pipeline to Europe.
Regardless of whether this is true, there is a growing perception that Western covert operations are on the rise. Erdogan is apparently convinced that the CIA was behind the Turkish coup plot. China is convinced that the US and UK were behind the recent protests in Hong Kong. Mossad director, Yossi Cohen, recently confirmed "the Israeli intelligence agency undertakes thousands of actions every year, some of which are “complex and bold,” in the heart of targeted states. He stated that they carry out operations in the most guarded and central regions of the targeted countries."

Meanwhile, the US shocked, shocked shocked that some "Russians" placed some few ads on FaceBook and Twitter.

Russia Insider
The CIA's Plan to Assassinate Greek PM Karamanlis For Ties to Russia - Exclusive Report
Justin Huebner

Jeanna Smialek — Gary Cohn Calls Clearinghouses 'a New Systemic Problem'

President Donald Trump’s chief economic adviser Gary Cohn said he sees a major risk evolving in clearinghouses, platforms that regulators turned to for swaps following the 2008 financial-market crisis.
As “we get less transparency, we get less liquid assets in the clearinghouse, it does start to resonate to me to be a new systemic problem in the system,” Cohn, director of the White House’s National Economic Council, said at a banking conference in Washington on Sunday....
“It’s the things we can’t liquidate that scare me,” Cohn said.

Peter Cooper — Open Economy Considerations: The Balance of Payments

One suggestion in the comments to the ongoing “short & simple” series is to cover the balance of payments. This will be covered at some point in the introductory series, but I am still considering how best to present it in brief, simple form. With that in mind, it seemed worth attempting a regular post on the topic. The post is still intended to be elementary in nature, but is perhaps at about the introductory university level. The post is also too long to qualify as “short”, even allowing for the fact that some recent parts of the series have already stretched the definition of “short” beyond what I would have preferred.
heteconomist
Open Economy Considerations: The Balance of Payments
Peter Cooper

Professor David Healy: Post SSRI Sexual Dysfunction. A $100,000 Prize to Find a Cure.



Professor David Healy is a world-renowned psychiatrist and a leading psycho-pharmacologist who is studying the condition called Post SRRI Sexual Dysfunction (PSSD), an incurable permanent illness that can occur after taking SSRI’s or other modern antidepressant drugs. PSSD sufferers say that life feels pointless and that they are no longer able to feel sexual or romantic feelings anymore and can't fall in love either. Many children and adolescents who are given these medications who then go on to develop PSSD say they have no idea what sexual or romantic feelings are like. Life loses all passion. Genital numbness also goes along with the condition and some people report that their skin feels numb all over like rubber and that they are no longer ticklish. 

Professor Healy believes the condition might more common than previously thought because it unreported as doctors usually dismiss it when patients say their sex drive has not been the same after taking antidepressant drugs. These people then feel too shamed to mention it to anyone else. Many sufferers are lonely because their lack of sexual feelings and romantic passion makes relationships difficult.  

A number of years ago the medical journalist, Robert Whitaker, wrote an article about it but no newspaper, magazine, or online media outlet would publish it. When the Oliver James, the left wing British psychiatrist who often writes for the MSM, was asked about it he said it would be difficult to publish. Apparently, newspapers rely too much on drug company advertising and don’t want to upset their clients.  

Professor Healy is trying to raise money for a $100,000 prize for anyone who can develop a cure for this dreadful condition. If you wish to donate, here’s the link below. Please re-blog this post.


David Healy


This Prize is part of a two-pronged attack on the unwillingness of the medical and regulatory establishments to listen to people with adverse events in general – not just the sexual dysfunctions mentioned here. The second front in the attack will be unveiled in a few weeks’ time.

The problem

The idea for a RxISK Prize began with our involvement with sufferers from Post-SSRI Sexual Dysfunction (PSSD) some years ago, and soon after people with comparable problems following Accutane and Finasteride. The motivation and endurance of those affected has been inspiring.
A complete and permanent wipe-out of your ability to make love is among the most debilitating side effects of a drug imaginable. In the case of all these drugs when it happens it affects men and women, young and old, can appear after a few days on the drug or only after treatment stops. It can last for decades, perhaps longer. It leads to suicides, the break-up of relationships and job losses. There is no upside to it.
PSSD shares many common features and looks like it is closely related to Post-Finasteride Syndrome (PFS), and Post-Retinoid Sexual Dysfunction (PRSD) triggered primarily by isotretinoin (Accutane). Isotretinoin is both a serotonin reuptake inhibitor and a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor (5ARI), so it could give rise to PSSD or PFS, or all three conditions may have something else in common.
We have recently submitted a paper for review describing 300 cases of PSSD, PFS and PRSD, and we are aware of many more cases and comparable phenomena happening on some other drugs. There may be tens of thousands affected as some evidence suggests that less than half of those who have been on SSRIs for months will regain full and normal function.
There are communities online and linked to universities researching these conditions as vigorously as the AIDS community once got involved in the search of a cure for AIDS. The most successful of these so far have been linked to PFS, with sufferers having created a Foundation to promote research on this condition. The research done by these groups have followed up all of the obvious treatment leads but nothing so far has worked.

More here:


Tony’s Story
This all began in 2005, I was married and life was pretty normal. I was feeling low and tetchy so I went to see my doctor. I was diagnosed with depression and prescribed a 10 mg daily dose of Cipralex. I started to develop severe sexual side effects within three weeks, a point from which there has never been any remission. I tolerated the drug for a few months but decided to discontinue it. I wanted to feel human again, and I was concerned that if I took the drug for a long period of time it would harm the marriage. I’d missed my sexuality. I was expecting it to return, but it didn’t. As the days turned to weeks I became scared. Surely it would come back?
I have suffered from Post-SSRI sexual dysfunction (PSSD) now for 7 years. When I speak to people about PSSD, I never use the terminology ‘sexual dysfunction’. I always explain PSSD as a complete loss of sexuality. I tell people that I have lost my identity.
PSSD causes many distressing symptoms. I have no libido; there is no drive there at all, no desire or lust, no propelling force of nature. I can’t remember what it feels like to be sexy and horny, I know it was powerful but I’ve not felt it for years. I have a serious case of erectile dysfunction and trying to get aroused is usually futile. I have a next-to-nothing response to sexual stimuli. I experience very little sensation and my orgasms are weak. I don’t experience sexual fantasies or dreams, neither do I experience normal dreams. My genital area is numb, almost as if doesn’t exist. I’m only really aware that there is something between my legs when I need to urinate. This sexual annihilation is devastating enough, but the feeling of isolation and lack of interest in life that it leads to are equally as bad, if not worse.
‘Impossible’ to suffer from long-term symptoms?
I took my concerns to my doctor, and so began many years jumping through the hoops of the medical system. I saw three doctors, two psychologists, a psychosexual specialist and a urologist. I underwent some unpleasant procedures and had a copious amount of tests. I was sent for a pelvic and abdominal scan, and a cystoscopy. I tried Cialis and testosterone injections. The doctor that prescribed me the antidepressants said that it was “impossible” to suffer any long-term symptoms caused by SSRIs. The urologist completely ignored me when I described the timeline of events.
I heard many reasons for my condition. I was told I had male menopause. I was told that I was working too hard when I had a job; and then when I didn’t have a job it was the fault of being unemployed. I was told that I needed to be with someone new; or that society had made me feel inadequate, and countless other excuses. I knew all these explanations were false, I knew it wasn’t in my head.
I look back at all the appointments I have had and it makes me laugh – my loss of sexuality was blamed on everything except for the obvious culprit.
I felt so alone; nobody was listening to me or could help me. In the eyes of the people that I sought help from I didn’t have anything seriously wrong. One of the doctors suggested that even if the drugs had caused this condition, then it wasn’t as bad as other side effects. I’d like some of these people to experience PSSD for a month, and then try and insult my intelligence. Seeking help was a demeaning experience that only compounded the hell of living with this condition.
Both physical and emotional connections have wasted away
My marriage ended in 2009. With PSSD I had not only lost the need for sex and the ability to have sex, I had also become apathetic to any kind of intimacy. I literally had no interest in any physical connection, and with that the emotional connection wasted away. I had become passionless and unresponsive to someone that I previously couldn’t resist. On the few occasions I tried to force the issue, it was degrading and embarrassing.
Removing something so fundamental is always going to create a ripple effect, and PSSD is no different as it causes a feeling of impassiveness about life. These days, life seems to be something other people do, something I observe but I don’t partake in. I feel detached from my true self; isolated from society and distant from other people. I am unmotivated as I am unable to seek pleasure; I live a mechanical and soulless existence. Without the desire that once drove me I merely go through the motions. There is no real excitement or fun, no spark or special feeling inside, no spring in my step – something intrinsic to human happiness is missing from inside me. I used to put on a brave face and throw myself out there as much as possible, but it wasn’t real. My life is more hermit-like now because I don’t want reminding of what I’m not.
Living a lie
My sexuality used to define who I was; it shaped my personality, it influenced how I expressed myself, how I dressed, talked, acted and interacted. It drove me; it enabled me to fulfill my physical and emotional needs. Without it I feel lost, empty and lacking direction, and that I’ve been eliminated from the game of life. My confidence and ego have been crushed. PSSD is so profound in its all-encompassing nature, it runs so much deeper than a collection of symptoms. It’s a very scary thought that I probably won’t ever be me again, and I have moments of real fear when I think what I’ve lost. To live with PSSD is to live a lie.
I went to my doctor for help and ended up in a horrible place; a place that I did not think could even exist. I was given a drug that ruined my life. The medical system violated my trust and my body. They took advantage of me during a period of weakness; and then they left me on the scrapheap.

“Sex isn’t everything” – I hear that a lot. Well, my sexuality was everything to me.

Sean Illing — 20 of America's top political scientists gathered to discuss our democracy. They're scared.

“If current trends continue for another 20 or 30 years, democracy will be toast.”
It isn't toast already? The next iteration, burnt toast?

Vox
20 of America's top political scientists gathered to discuss our democracy. They're scared.
Sean Illing

See also
Each of four theoretical traditions in the study of American politics—which can be characterized as theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy, Economic-Elite Domination, and two types of interest-group pluralism, Majoritarian Pluralism and Biased Pluralism—offers different predictions about which sets of actors have how much influence over public policy: average citizens; economic elites; and organized interest groups, mass-based or business-oriented.

A great deal of empirical research speaks to the policy influence of one or another set of actors, but until recently it has not been possible to test these contrasting theoretical predictions against each other within a single statistical model. We report on an effort to do so, using a unique data set that includes measures of the key variables for 1,779 policy issues.
Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. The results provide substantial support for theories of Economic-Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism.
Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page, Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens

also

The New Yorker (April 18, 2014)
Is America an Oligarchy?
John Cassidy




Jonathon Cook: As battle rages in UK Labour Party, Moshe Machover expelled after asserting ‘Anti-Zionism does not equal anti-Semitism’

Anti-Palestinian-ism is rife in the British Labour Party, but non Zionist Jews are fighting back.

Over the past 18 months the British Labour party has been beset by a moral panic. According to pro-Israel activists in Labour, there has been a surge of anti-semitism in the party since Jeremy Corbyn became leader two years ago. Corbyn has broken with decades of party policy by placing a much stronger emphasis on the need to end Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians.

As we will show, these activists’ concerns are much less about anti-semitism than about Corbyn and the trend he represents. Pro-Israel groups, who have strong backing among the party establishment opposed to Corbyn, fear he is changing the nature of the British political discourse about Israel and the Palestinians. Beyond this, they are worried that should Corbyn, or someone else from his wing of the Labour party, reach power, they will put the Palestinians at the heart of a Labour government’s foreign policy. Much is at stake.

A strange, if largely obscured feature of the supposed anti-semitism crisis – set out at length in my first Mondoweiss article – is that so many of those accused and convicted in Labour of this hate crime are Jews. The latest person accused by the party of anti-semitism – and this week expelled – is Moshe Machover, a mathematician and philosophy professor at the University of London. He was born and raised in Israel.

Machover appears to be among the first Labour members to be netted by a rule change on anti-semitism introduced at the party conference last week. Activists in a new group called Jewish Voice for Labour, launched at the conference, had warned that the change in wording would allow the party bureaucracy to expel members for “thought crimes”.

As previously explained, the rule change was pushed hard by a powerful pressure group in Labour called the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM), which is the sister organisation of Israel’s own Labour party. The JLM helped create Labour Friends of Israel, which has traditionally been a key pro-Israel lobbying group among Labour members of parliament.

Both organisations have clandestine ties to the Israeli government through Israel’s London embassy, as was revealed earlier this year by an Al Jazeera undercover investigation. It secretly filmed this collusion in action, as pro-Israel Labour activists plotted to subvert Corbyn’s leadership, even at the cost of irreparably damaging the party.

Professor expelled


In decrying an “anti-semitism plague” in Labour, the JLM and its supporters have claimed that they are not conflating anti-semitism with anti-Zionism. But Machover’s case clearly illustrates that they are precisely doing that.

Machover received a letter from Labour head office this week alleging that he had breached the party’s anti-semitism rules with an article (PDF), paradoxically titled “Anti-Zionism does not equal anti-Semitism”, in the newsletter of the Labour Party Marxists group.

In it, Machover pointed out the widespread opposition of most Jews to the ideas propagated by the Zionist movement before the rise of Hitler, and the problematic ideological affinites between Zionists and anti-semites. He wrote: “The founder of political Zionism, Theodor Herzl, had pointed out that anti-Semitic regimes would be allies, because they wanted to get rid of the Jews, while the Zionists wanted to rid them of the Jews. That was the common interest.”

For this reason, observed Machover, quoting Zionist and Nazi leaders of the time, some Zionists welcomed the early policies of the Nazis, including even the notorious Nuremberg Laws of 1935. This was before the Nazis switched to a policy of extermination in the death camps. Both anti-semites and Zionists wanted Jews and non-Jews separated, and both rejected miscegenation. A similar argument, expressed more clumsily, led to the suspension of Ken Livingstone, a former London mayor, earlier this year.

It is notable that the Labour party accused Machover of anti-semitism on the grounds that his article was likely to “cause offence to Jewish people”. It begged the question: which Jewish people?

That issue had, in fact, become a battleground at the conference. Jewish Labour party activists had set up a new group, Jewish Voice for Labour, to act as a countervailing force against the traditional dominance of the JLM in influencing the party’s policies towards Israel and the Palestinians and against its accusations of anti-semitism by Corbyn supporters. Jewish Voice for Labour represents a broad range of Jews who have until now been marginalised in the Labour party, including trenchant critics of the occupation, anti-Zionists and supporters of BDS, the boycott movement. For the first time they have a collective voice within the party.

As Machover observed, pro-Israel groups are in trouble in Labour and elsewhere. “They are losing credibility on the arena of what could be called international opinion, but – more importantly – they are losing the Jewish public outside Israel, especially those under 30. There is a clear generational shift in opinion. These people are becoming very critical of Israel and its colonisation project.”

Above excerpt from part 2

Part 1:

New group challenges role of Israel lobby inside Labour Party as effort to undermine Corbyn continues

Part 2:

As battle rages in UK Labour Party, Moshe Machover expelled after asserting ‘Anti-Zionism does not equal anti-Semitism’

Robert Parry — How Netanyahu Pulls Trump’s Strings

If indeed Clinton were right that Trump was Putin’s “puppet,” then he would have agreed to negotiations to address the North Korean crisis; would have accepted constructive diplomacy toward Iran; and would have ended all U.S. support for the Syrian militants and encouraged a quick end to the bloodletting.
Instead, Trump is moving in opposite directions, lining up with Netanyahu and the neocons, whom some European allies refer to as “America’s Israeli agents.” Although dressing up his capitulation to Netanyahu in tough-guy phrasing, Trump is doing what most U.S. politicians do – they grovel before Bibi Netanyahu.
And, if you have any doubts about that reality, you can watch how often both Republicans and Democrats jump to their feet when Netanyahu addresses a joint session of Congress, an honor that he has received three times, tying him with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
Those moments of American humiliation – as almost all 535 members of Congress act like puppets on invisible strings – represent the actual subservience of the U.S. government to a foreign power. And that power is not Russia.
President Trump is just the latest American politician to have his strings yanked by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Consortium News
How Netanyahu Pulls Trump’s Strings
Robert Parry

Also
By offering a propagandistic tirade on Iran’s role in the Mideast – a classic neocon screed – President Trump has demonstrated his inability to bring any fresh or honest thinking to the regional crises, as Kathy Kelly explains.
Trump Ignores Israeli/Saudi Abuses

Also
Sooner or later, I see a blowup coming between Trump and Netanyahu, and the U.S. President's brief moment of candor with the UN Secretary General should be lodged in the back of your mind, as it is in mine.
Sic Semper Tyrannis 

Jonathan Vanian — Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak Has Created a New Online University

The Silicon Valley technologist, who helped create over 40 years ago with the late Steve Jobs, has debuted Woz U, an online university. He plans to eventually open physical campuses in over 30 cities in the U.S. and other unspecified countries.
The institute, with a corporate headquarters in Scottsdale, Ariz., offers online courses that are intended to train people in computer science and related fields and help them land jobs in the technology industry. Woz U is part of the private, for-profit Careers Institute, which operates seven campuses in Texas as well as an online school. Although Woz U is affiliated with Southern Careers Institute, it plans to “partner with other colleges and institutions as we grow,” according to the Woz U website....
Fortune
Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak Has Created a New Online University
Jonathan Vanian

Brian Romanchuk — Should We Care About Seigneurage?

I believe I have a better understanding of Eric Lonergan's arguments regarding whether fiat money is a liability of a state with currency sovereignty. (This discussion does not apply to commodity money, or a state using a money issued by an entity not under its direct control.) If I am correct, I would phrase his argument as: the existing accounting treatment of money is incorrect, since it does not account for seigneurage revenue. (Seigneurage has multiple English spellings; I was using the French spelling on Twitter -- seigneuriage.)...
Bond Economics
Should We Care About Seigneurage?
Brian Romanchuk

Neil Wilson — Crypto-Shilling



Everything you wanted to know about cryptocurrencies from an MMT perspective.

Modern Money Matters
Crypto-Shilling
Neil Wilson

See also
Bitcoin transactions use so much energy that the electricity used for a single trade could power a home for almost a whole month, according to a paper from Dutch bank ING.
Bitcoin trades use a lot of electricity as a means to make verifying trades expensive, therefore making fraudulent transactions costly and deterring those who would seek to misuse the currency.…
Also this week, a team of analysts led by Gautam Chhugani and Gaurav Jangale from the research house Bernstein said that bitcoin was still just a "censorship-resistant asset class," out of the reach of state control and yet to form a part of the system of settlement and credit that defines money.
"Fiat money is still the final form of settlement — governments still collect taxes in fiat money and salaries are still paid in fiat money," the team said in a note to clients on Wednesday.
Business Insider
The electricity required for a single bitcoin trade could power a house for a whole month
Will Martin

Also
It's time for the world's central banks and regulators to get serious about digital currencies, according to the head of the International Monetary Fund.
Global financial institutions are taking risks by not watching and understanding emerging financial tech products that are already starting to shake up the financial services and global payments system, according to IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde....
CNBC
'We are about to see massive disruptions': IMF's Lagarde says it's time to get serious about digital currency
Elizabeth Schulze
President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday crypto-currencies were risky and used for crime, as Russia’s central bank said it would block websites selling bitcoin and its rivals - a change of tone from a month-old promise to legalize the market....
Reuters
Russia turns cold on crypto-currencies
Denis Pinchuk, Elena Fabrichnaya
According to data from virtual currency software platform Blockchain.info, China accounts for about 70 per cent of the world’s bitcoin mining power – computer server farms that tap into cheap electricity to solve the complex mathematical problems that underpin bitcoin.
Garrick Hileman, a research fellow from the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance in Britain, said the authorities were careful not to kill off mining, the “goose that lays the golden egg”....
SG Kinsmann








Saturday, October 14, 2017

Dan Steinbock — The Struggle for Bolivia Is About to Begin


Backgrounder on Bolivia and Evo Morales.

Market Oracle
The Struggle for Bolivia Is About to Begin
Dan Steinbock | founder of the Difference Group

Robert Locke — The New Paradigm that emerged in economic s after WWII

As an historian, I am somewhat appalled at the inability of economists, including those on this blog to get the history of their own discipline straight.  The obsession has been with neoclassical economic’s attempt to turn economics into a physico-mathematical discipline as Walras phrased it, and the economists usually discuss this attempt within the historical context of their discipline pre-1945, with references, to  Walras, Marshall, Keynes, and others.
It  became clear to me over thirty years ago, that the neoclassical  effort to turn economics into a prescriptive science had failed before WWII....
When I wrote my chapter on The New Paradigm in Management and Higher Education Since 1940, CUP, 1989, I focused on the methods of Operational Research developed during WWII and the Cold War, that neoclassical economics imbibed . I wrote, for example, about how the Rand Corporation working on OR problems for the US Air Force gave birth to George Dantzig’s linear programming algorithms in 1947. 
Postwar military planners and the economists who worked with them at Rand believed the new toolkit would transform neoclassical economics into a prescriptive science. At Rand in 1948, the economist Kenneth Arrow used the toolkit in his work on Rational Choice Theory. The neoclassical economists Joseph Dorfman, Paul Samuelson, and Robert Solow applied linear programming to their subject as well (in Linear Programming and Economic Analysis, 1958).
Why isn’t the source of the new paradigm in OR being discussed, instead of preWWII economists.
When I wrote the second chapter in my 1989 book, “The New Paradigm Revisited,” I questioned through the critics, how the prescriptive prowess of The New Paradigm fizzled. The people I cited were primarily OR scientists themselves. That is, I note that the people whose methodologies led to the New Paradigm, questioned the effectiveness of their own discipline. The prime example of this volte-face is Russell Ackoff, who popularized OR methods in the UK in the 1960s, only to write in a 1979 article, “The future of operational research is past,” “OR problems can never be a perfect representation of a problem. They leave out the human dimension, the motivational one. [Problem solving requires] the application not only of science with a capital S, but also, all the arts and humanities we can command.”....
Real-World Economics Review Blog
The New Paradigm that emerged in economic s after WWII
Robert Locke

Pepe Escobar — The Spanish Civil War, revisited


Backgrounder on Spain and Catalonia.
The intractability of the political problem is that Catalonia – the most European of all Spanish regions and historically in favor of republicanism and federalism – contests the very essence of the Spanish system. To scrap this outdated constitution – written immediately after Franco’s demise and drenched in amnesty for Franco-ists – is as important as self-determination. To say that the Bourbons face a legitimacy crisis is a major understatement.
Madrid’s actions on Referendum Repression Day – led by a Franco-ist partisan of torture, infamous General Bum-Bum – could not but revive the memory of Catalonia as the key anarchist/republican hub during the Spanish Civil War; the Civil Guard in itself represents the memory of Francoism. It’s understandable how separatists prefer to discard the historic/ financial heavy load when they see the impossibility of a true modernization of Spain.
Asia Times
The Spanish Civil War, revisited
Pepe Escobar

Eliana Johnson — Nikki Haley was Trump’s Iran whisperer


This is pretty incendiary in that UN Ambassador Haley apparently went around US Secretary of State Tillerson. The question is who is running US foreign policy, the secretary of state or an ambassador?

If this is true and Tillerson has any cojones, he will resign and let Trump appoint Haley, to whom he initially offered the position of secretary of state.

At this point, Tillerson is not only damaging his reputation but he is also looking like a fool. He should bow out.

Oh, and it gets worse.
Haley wasn’t alone. The fingerprints of former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, whose access to Trump was recently limited by chief of staff John Kelly, were also on Trump’s Friday address in the form of a warning that Trump, who opted not to push for steps that could undo the nuclear agreement, could still cancel the deal “at any time."

The line was added to Trump’s speech after Bolton, despite Kelly’s recent edict, reached the president by phone on Thursday afternoon from Las Vegas, where Bolton was visiting with Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson. Bolton urged Trump to include a line in his remarks noting that he reserved the right to scrap the agreement entirely, according to two sources familiar with the conversation.
Trump wound up saying that the agreement “is under continuous review, and our participation can be canceled by me, as president, at any time.” Bolton declined to comment on any conversation with the president....
The former U.N. ambassador supports a full U.S. withdrawal from the deal, something he told Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, during a meeting earlier this week.

At the behest of former White House strategist Steve Bannon, Bolton had prepared a plan for that approach that he never had the chance to present to Trump once Bannon was fired and Kelly cracked down on Oval Office visits.
But Bolton’s authorship of a key line in Trump’s speech makes clear that his influence at the White House endures.
Haley never explicitly called for withdrawal.
John Kerry ended up looking like a fool when President Obama let then Defense Secretary Ashton Carer and the Pentagon blow up the agreement that Kerry and Russian FM Sergei Lavrov had worked out.

Now Tillerson is looking like a jerk, and the US is appearing before the world  as even more a country that can't keep its word.

Politico
Nikki Haley was Trump’s Iran whisperer
Eliana Johnson

Sputnik — Gold Rush: Russia Stockpiling Bullion Like There's no Tomorrow


Russia is rather drastically reducing its percentage of foreign reserves and increasing gold reserves in response to economic warfare aimed at destabilizing Russia.

Sputnik
Gold Rush: Russia Stockpiling Bullion Like There's no Tomorrow

Eric Zuesse — NYT: $100,000 Russian Facebook Political Ads Prove Censorship Need


Censorship moves into high gear as TPTB move to control the narrative.

Russiagate is another instance of "disaster capitalism" with the Establishment attempting to seize control of the narrative that resulted from damaging revelations about the Clinton campaign. The new narrative is that the Russian government led by Vladimir Putin is nefariously using covert operations to undermine Western liberal democracy.

Washington's Blog
NYT: $100,000 Russian Facebook Political Ads Prove Censorship Need
Eric Zuesse, investigative journalist

See also

These myths as "defining beliefs" are the result of a controlled narrative.

Bracing Views
The Myths We Tell Ourselves
William J. Astore, Lt. Col. (ret.) USAF | professor of history at Pennsylvania College of Technology and previously Associate Professor, US Air Force Academy at the Air Force Academy

Richard N. Haass — The US Cannot Go It Alone On Iran


The voice of the Establishment speaks. Haass is president of CFR.

Project Syndicate
The US Cannot Go It Alone On Iran
Richard N. Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations, previously served as Director of Policy Planning for the US State Department (2001-2003), and was President George W. Bush's special envoy to Northern Ireland and Coordinator for the Future of Afghanistan
crossposted at Asia Times

also

Trump Is Strengthening Iran’s Radicals
Abbas Milani

Simon Wren-Lewis — How Neoliberals weaponise the concept of an ideal market

As a result, I would tend to suggest a slightly different definition that seems to work quite well today. The definition would be:
neoliberalism is a political strategy promoting the interests of big money that utilises the economist’s ideal of a free market to promote and extend market activity and remove all ‘interference’ in the market than conflicts with these interests.
This replaces a definition based on following an idea (the author’s market neoliberalism), by one of interests promoting an idea so long as it suits those interests.

This alternative definition seems to fit two cases I have used in the past to question more conventional ideas. Large banks benefit hugely from an implicit subsidy provided by the state (being bailed out when things go wrong), but neoliberals do not worry too much about this form of state interference in the market (whereas economists do). Regulations on the other hand they do complain about. It is a very selective focus on market interference....
Classical economic liberalism aka laissez-faire and "market fundamentalism" advocated minimizing the role of government in markets. Neoliberalism advocates selective use of the political process to favor the interests of capital. Hence, neoliberals work to capture government, while classical economic liberals would limit government to the role of night watchman.

Mainly Macro
How Neoliberals weaponise the concept of an ideal market
Simon Wren-Lewis | Professor of Economics, Oxford University

Healthcare Hijincks


Looks like a pretty good article on the situation here at Health Affairs Blog.

Trump's ending of the CSR payments might end up as fiscal stimulus via increased tax credits for resultant increases in qualifying premium payments.

Excerpt:
The Consequences Of Ending The CSR Payments 
The effect of terminating the payments has been well analyzed, including a report from the Congressional Budget Office. 
It will drive up premiums as insurers attempt to cover the cost of the reductions. As premiums go up, so will premium tax credits. 
Indeed, the government will probably pay more in premium tax credits than it saves in cost-sharing reduction payments.

Convoluted but may decrease net TGA deposits (via the tax credits) YoY anyway...




Friday, October 13, 2017

China Daily — PBOC inches closer to digital currency China Daily

The People's Bank of China, China's central bank, has completed trial runs on the algorithms needed for digital currency supply, taking it a step closer to addressing the technological challenges associated with digital currencies, according to a top official associated with the project.
Yao Qian, director-general of the Institute of Digital Money at the PBOC, said China's central bank has successfully designed a prototype that can regulate the supply of its future digital fiat currency.
The successful simulation of money supply paves the way for the central bank to become the future sole regulator and policymaker governing the value of digital fiat currency, said Yao.
Digital fiat currencies are the digital forms of a sovereign currency that is backed by the central bank.
Unlike Bitcoin or other digital money issued by the private sector, the digital fiat currency has the same legal status as the Chinese yuan, the only fiat currency issued by the People's Bank of China.
There is no timetable for the introduction of the currency, but once introduced, China is likely to become the first country that would deploy a digital fiat currency....
The rapid development of the electronic payment sector and thriving private digital currencies have made it imperative for China's central bank to move quickly in digital finance.
Looking ahead, deploying the digital fiat currency is expected to be smarter and more intelligent compared to the payment providers using existing currencies, such as Alipay, according to Yao.
Ecns.cn
PBOC inches closer to digital currency
China Daily

Aída Chávez — Freedom Caucus Chair Warns Congress Not To “Bail Out” Puerto Rico

“It’s somebody’s money,” [House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark] Meadows told The Intercept after a House vote on the aid package this week.
“It’s different if you could just print money and it didn’t come out of my pocket or your pocket. It comes out of the American taxpayer’s pocket…
Where does this person think the money to pay taxes comes from if the state doesn't issue the currency first and only accepts its own currency in payment of obligations the state imposes?

The Intercept
Freedom Caucus Chair Warns Congress Not To “Bail Out” Puerto Rico
Aída Chávez

Zero Hedge — China Launches Yuan-Ruble Payment System

In the latest push for convergence, China has established a payment versus payment (PVP) system for Chinese yuan and Russian ruble transactions in a move to reduce risks and improve the efficiency of its foreign exchange transactions. The PVP system for yuan and ruble transactions, designed to streamline commerce and curency transactions between the two nations, was launched on Monday after receiving approval from China’s central bank, according to a statement by the country’s foreign exchange trading system.
It marks the first time a PVP system has been established for trading the yuan and foreign currencies, said the statement, which was posted on Wednesday on the website of the China Foreign Exchange Trade System (CFETS). PVP systems allow simultaneous settlement of transactions in two different currencies.
According to CFETS, the system would reduce settlement risk as well as the risk of transactions taking place in different time zones, and improve foreign exchange market efficiency.….
CFETS said it plans to introduce PVP systems for yuan transactions with other currencies based on China’s Belt and Road initiative, and complying with the process of renminbi internationalization. Russia, however, is a top priority: the world's biggest oil producer recently became the largest source of oil for China, the world’s top energy consumer. 
Zero Hedge

Michael Krieger — Empire Destroying Wars Are Coming to America Under Trump – Part 3

In the aftermath of the financial crisis, I’ve become convinced that the U.S. empire will never reform on its own. There’s simply too much money and power at stake, and we already know oligarchs are above the law under our two-tier justice system. The biggest financial criminals of a generation were not only spared prison for their actions, but were handsomely rewarded. Wall Street ran the Obama administration before, and it runs the Trump administration now. It’s become clear to me that these lawless elite crooks and their enablers will continue with their insane and oppressive policies until the whole thing collapses. Whether Trump, Pence or Hillary Clinton run the charade doesn’t change where this train is headed.
I say this because I don’t want people to think I believe everything would work out fine if Trump wasn’t in charge. Our society is extraordinarily corrupt, delusional and systemically abusive. The public no longer has confidence in any of our institutions and for very good reasons. Our institutions exist merely to serve as gatekeepers to protect predatory crooks from the consequences of their actions.
The reason I focus on war leading to a more dangerous phase of imperial collapse is because I think that’s the most likely way this thing will go down. When I look around at those in positions of power or influence in the U.S., I don’t see people who’ve learned lessons from Iraq, Libya and now Yemen. Rather, I see a continued consensus of interventionists who’ll never stop looking for the next country to bomb. As such, it’s likely they’ll eventually pick the wrong fight, and everything will crumble pretty fast after that....
It’s sad to say it, but over the course of the 21st century the U.S. government has exposed itself as a corrupt bully, not just to the outside world, but also to its own people. Moreover, those in positions of power and influence in America either don’t recognize this reality or don’t care. It’s this sort of disconnected hubris combined with rampant internal corruption that is the true graveyard of empires. I think both allies and enemies abroad have had enough, and given the right opportunity, will let the U.S. sink.…
 Pretty much echoes the Saker.

Liberty Blitzkrieg
Empire Destroying Wars Are Coming to America Under Trump – Part 3
Michael Krieger

Zero Hedge — British Banks Forecast Biggest Consumer Credit Collapse In 10 Years

After repeated warnings from BoE about the surging pace of lending to households, British lenders are planning the biggest cutback in consumer loans in nearly 10 years (BoE's quarterly net balance of lenders' expectations for the availability of unsecured lending over the next three months fell to -28.6 from -16.2.)...
Zero Hedge
British Banks Forecast Biggest Consumer Credit Collapse In 10 Years
Tyler Durden

Alexander Mercouris — The Russiagate scandal descends into total absurdity


Mercouris assembles what is known to date, which is nothing that is evidence-based. Result? Reaching for straws.

The Duran
The Russiagate scandal descends into total absurdity
Alexander Mercouris

The Saker — Trump goes full shabbos-goy


The American Century? Or Twilight of the Empire?

The Vineyard of the Saker
Trump goes full shabbos-goy
The Saker

Lee Fang — Koch Brothers’ Internal Strategy Memo on Selling Tax Cuts: Ignore The Deficit

The billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch spent much of the eight years of the Obama presidency stoking fears about the budget deficit. Their political network aired an unending cascade of campaign advertisements against Democratic politicians, sponsored several national bus tours, and paid organizers in communities across the country to mobilize public demonstrations, all focused on the dangers of increasing the deficit.
One such ad even warned that government debt would lead to a Chinese takeover of America — which, for many voters, is a concern linked to debt. Another effort, also quietly bankrolled by the Koch network, used Justin Bieber memes to try to reach millennials about too much government borrowing.
Now that Republicans control all levers of power in Washington and the Koch brothers are poised to reap a windfall of billions of dollars through tax cuts, they have a new message: Don’t worry about the deficit.
The Intercept obtained a messaging memo from the Koch brothers’ network on how to sell tax reform legislation. The memo went out to members of the network of likeminded Republican donors, which includes dozens of wealthy investors and business executives.
The talking points suggest that backers of the tax cuts feel vulnerable to the charge that the tax cuts will jack up the deficit.
“In case it is helpful to you in your own discussions with lawmakers and others,” the memo begins, “below is a list of talking points that address some of the key hurdles to passing tax reform this year.”
The memo goes on to encourage lawmakers to avoid becoming distracted by deficit concerns when passing the GOP tax reform package (emphasis added):
“Avoid getting distracted on revenue neutrality; economic growth increases revenues. Some Republican Senators have expressed concern over supporting comprehensive tax reform that adds to short-term deficits. Though we fully appreciate those concerns, the long-term economic growth that would result from the first comprehensive tax reform in a generation would help to offset short-term deficits over time. That was the result of the Kennedy and Reagan tax reforms—there’s no reason this time will be any different.”...
Hypocrites.

Publius Tacitus — Donald Trump KowTows to Israel on Iran Part II

Where does one begin to counter such lies and misrepresentations? Who has been the most destabilizing force in the Middle East over the last 27 years? I would suggest that the United States multiple invasions of Iraq, military action in Libya and our decision to help arm and train Islamic rebels keen on overthrowing Syria's President Assad qualifies us as the biggest meddlers and chaos makers.
One of the recurring big lies being pushed in the media--by Republicans and Democrat as well as some of our allies--is that Iran is the biggest sponsor of terrorism in the World....
The value of the post is as a backgrounder. Lots of detail. This is also one of the few places that mentions the role of Mossad.

Longish. Weekend reading.

Sic Semper Tyrannis
Donald Trump KowTows to Israel on Iran Part II
Publius Tacitus

Robert Parry — The Legacy of Reagan’s Civilian ‘Psyops’

Declassified records from the Reagan presidential library show how the U.S. government enlisted civilian agencies in psychological operations designed to exploit information as a way to manipulate the behavior of targeted foreign audiences and, at least indirectly, American citizens.
A just-declassified sign-in sheet for a meeting of an inter-agency “psyops” committee on Oct. 24, 1986, shows representatives from the Agency for International Development (USAID), the State Department, and the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) joining officials from the Central Intelligence Agency and the Defense Department.
Some of the names of officials from the CIA and Pentagon remain classified more than three decades later. But the significance of the document is that it reveals how agencies that were traditionally assigned to global development (USAID) or international information (USIA) were incorporated into the U.S. government’s strategies for peacetime psyops, a military technique for breaking the will of a wartime enemy by spreading lies, confusion and terror.
Essentially, psyops play on the cultural weaknesses of a target population so they could be more easily controlled or defeated, but the Reagan administration was taking the concept outside the traditional bounds of warfare and applying psyops to any time when the U.S. government could claim some threat to America.
This disclosure – bolstered by other documents released earlier this year by archivists at the Reagan library in Simi Valley, California – is relevant to today’s frenzy over alleged “fake news” and accusations of “Russian disinformation” by reminding everyone that the U.S. government was active in those same areas....
Consortium News
The Legacy of Reagan’s Civilian ‘Psyops’
Robert Parry

Related
The entire speech was filled with what is hoary, well-rehearsed, and well-refuted. This was true of Trump’s efforts to encourage other misconceptions about the JCPOA, including the favorite one among opponents that Iran got its benefits “up front” before fulfilling most of its obligations. In fact, the reverse was true, with Iran having to dismantle centrifuge cascades, dilute enriched uranium, gut its reactor, and take most of the steps it was required to take to close pathways to a nuclear weapon before it got an ounce of additional sanctions relief.
Besides the outright falsehoods, there was hardly a syllable of recognition in the speech that what is one of the most significant nuclear nonproliferation agreements in recent years had accomplished anything at all....
Paul R. Pillar, retired CIA officer | nonresident senior fellow of the Center for Security Studies in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, a contributing editor at The National Interest, formerly federal executive fellow at the Brookings Institution, a visiting professor in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University

Danny Sjursen — The Empire Comes Home : Counterinsurgency, Policing, and the Militarization of America’s Cities

It may be something of a cliché that distant wars have a way of coming home, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Policing today is being Baghdadified in the United States. Over the last 40 years, as Washington struggled to maintain its global military influence, the nation’s domestic police have progressively shifted to military-style patrol, search, and surveillance tactics, while measuring success through statistical models familiar to any Pentagon staff officer.
Please understand this: for me when it comes to the police, it’s nothing personal. A couple of my uncles were New York City cops. Nearly half my family has served or still serves in the New York Fire Department. I’m from blue-collar, civil service stock. Good guys, all. But experience tells me that they aren’t likely to see the connections I’m making between what’s happening here and what’s been happening in our distant war zones or agree with my conclusions about them. In a similar fashion, few of my peers in the military officer corps are likely to agree, or even recognize, the parallels I’ve drawn.
Of course, these days when you talk about the military and the police, you’re often talking about the very same people, since veterans from our wars are now making their way into police forces across the country, especially the highly militarized SWAT teams proliferating nationwide that use the sorts of smash-and-search tactics perfected abroad in recent years. While less than 6% of Americans are vets, some 19% of law-enforcement personnel have servedin the U.S. military. In many ways it’s a natural fit, as former soldiers seamlessly slide into police life and pick up the very weaponry they once used in Afghanistan, Iraq, or elsewhere....
Tom Dispatch
The Empire Comes Home : Counterinsurgency, Policing, and the Militarization of America’s Cities
Danny Sjursen