Arrogance destroyed the World Trade Organisation …

by John Quiggin on October 27, 2019

… what replaces it will be even worse. That’s the (slightly premature) headline for my recent article in The Conversation.

The headline will become operative in December, if as expected, the Trump Administration maintains its refusal to nominate new judges to the WTO appellate panel. That will render the WTO unable to take on new cases, and bring about an effective return to the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT) which preceded the WTO.

An interesting sidelight is that Brexit No-Dealers have been keen on the merits of trading “on WTO terms”, but those terms will probably be unenforceable by the time No Deal happens (if it does).

{ 100 comments }

1

likbez 10.27.19 at 11:22 pm

That’s another manifestation of the ascendance of “national neoliberalism,” which now is displacing “classic neoliberalism.”

Attempts to remove Trump via color revolution mechanisms (Russiagate, Ukrainegate) are essentially connected with the desire of adherents of classic neoliberalism to return to the old paradigm and kick the can down the road until the cliff. I think it is impossible because the neoliberal elite lost popular support (aka support of deplorable) and now is hanging in the air. “Greed is good” mantra, and the redistribution of the wealth up at the end proved to be very destructive.

That’s why probably previous attempts to remove Trump were unsuccessful. And if corrupt classic neoliberal Biden wins Neoliberal Dem Party nomination, the USA probably will get the second term of Trump. Warren might have a chance as “Better Trump then Trump” although she proved so far to be pretty inept politician, and like “original” Trump probably can be easily coerced by the establishment, if she wins.

All this weeping and gnashing of teeth by “neoliberal Intelligentsia” does not change the fact that neoliberalism entered the period of structural crisis demonstrated by “secular stagnation,” and, as such, its survival is far from certain. We probably can argue only about how long it will take for the “national neoliberalism” to dismantle it and what shape or form the new social order will take.

That does not mean that replacing the classic neoliberalism the new social order will be better, or more just. Neoliberalism was actually two steps back in comparison with the New Deal Capitalism that it replaced. It clearly was a social regress.

2

John Quiggin 10.28.19 at 3:00 am

Exactly right!

3

Matt 10.28.19 at 6:28 am

John, I am legitimate curious what you find “exactly right” in the comment above. Other than the obvious bit in the last line about new deal vs neoliberalism, I would say it is completely wrong,band presenting an amazingly distorted view of both the last few years and recent history.

4

fausutsnotes 10.28.19 at 8:27 am

I’m also interested in what is “exactly right” about comment 1. What on earth is “national neoliberalism” vs. “classic neoliberalism”, is “neoliberalism” here a stand in for “ism”? How are Russiagate and Ukrainegate “color revolution mechanisms”? What can are they kicking down the road towards what cliff? What is impossible and what is hanging in the air? Who are the “neoliberal intelligentsia”? How is “secular stagnation” a particular property of neoliberalism rather than capitalism generally, and if “classical neoliberalism” is going to be replaced by “national neoliberalism” then how can it be the case that neoliberalism’s survival is “far from certain”? Exactly how was neoliberalism “two steps back in comparison with the New Deal Capitalism”? And was it “clearly” a “social regress” when we consider how women and black people in America were treated under the New Deal? And also, have you heard of countries outside the USA? China, India and Europe had no “New Deal” …

I think every sentence in that comment is either completely wrong or at least debatable. And is likbez actually John Hewson, because that comment reads like one of John Hewson’s commentaries …

5

reason 10.28.19 at 8:58 am

I agree with Matt.

In fact, I see the problem as more nuanced.

Neo-liberalism is not a unified thing. Right wing parties are not following the original (the value of choice) paradigm of Milton Friedman that won the argument during the 1970s inflation panic, but have implemented a deceitful bait and switch strategy, followed by continually shifting the goalposts – claiming – it would of worked but we weren’t pure enough.

But parts of what Milton Friedman said (for instance the danger of bad micro-economic design of welfare systems creating poverty traps, and the inherent problems of high tariff rates) had a kernel of truth. (Unfortunately, Friedman’s macro-economics was almost all wrong and has done great damage.)

6

Tim Worstall 10.28.19 at 12:31 pm

An aside, to be deleted once you’re read it perhaps. You want to check the edit there:

“Critics of the intervention have pointed out that being a “developing country” doesn’t provide China with many benefit, and”

“any benefit” or “many benefits” perhaps…..

7

Tim Worstall 10.28.19 at 12:39 pm

“In that context it felt free to override national governments on any issue that might affect international trade, most notably environmental policies.”

Not entirely sure about that. The one case where I was informed enough to really know detail was the China and rare earths WTO case. China claimed that restrictions on exports of separated but otherwise unprocessed rare earths were being made on environmental grounds. Rare earth mining is a messy business, especially the way they do it.

Well, OK. And if such exports were being limited on environmental grounds then that would be WTO compliant. Which is why the claim presumably.

It was gently or not pointed out that exports of things made from those same rare earths were not limited in any sense. Therefore that environmental justification might not be quite the real one. Possibly, it was an attempt to suck RE using industry into China by making rare earths outside in short supply, but the availability for local processing being unrestricted? Certainly, one customer of mine at the time seriously considered packing up the US factory and moving it.

China lost the WTO case. Not because environmental reasons aren’t a justification for restrictions on trade but because no one believed that was the reason, rather than the justification.

I don’t know about other cases – shrimp, tuna – but there is at least the possibility that it’s the argument, not the environment, which wasn’t sufficient justification?

8

politicalfootball 10.28.19 at 1:19 pm

Like Matt, I’m puzzled at Quiggin@2. (And like Matt, I agree with the final line of likbez@1)

Most obviously, to define Warren and Trump as both being neoliberals drains the term of any meaning. Heck, depending on how you define the term, Warren is more neoliberal than Trump, though the word doesn’t fit either of them particularly well.

I think “neoliberalism” is a useful word, and describes something that actually exists. “National neoliberalism” is an unhelpful neologism, given the centrality of unfettered trade to the neoliberal outlook.

If you’re going to use “neoliberal” as a synonym for “bad stuff,” you need to just say “bad stuff,” and not hide hazy thinking behind jargon.

9

Jim Harrison 10.28.19 at 5:20 pm

Neoliberalism gets used as a generalized term of abuse these days. Not every political and institutional development of the last 40 years comes down to the worship of the free market. In the EU, East Asia, and North America, some of what has taken place is the rationalization of bureaucratic practices and the weakening of archaic localisms. Some of these developments have been positive. In this respect, neoliberalism in the blanket sense used by Likbez and many others is like what the the ancien regime was, a mix of regressive and progressive tendencies. In the aftermath of the on-going upheaval, it is likely that it will be reassessed and some of its features will be valued if they manage to persist. I’m thinking of international trade agreements, transnational scientific organizations, and confederations like the European Union.

10

John Quiggin 10.28.19 at 9:46 pm

@Matt & others I was half-asleep, and skipped the opening paras. I agree with the last two paras of @1.

11

nastywoman 10.28.19 at 10:10 pm

@3
”I am legitimate curious what you find “exactly right” in the comment above”.

Me too –
as especially the believe that removing Trump ”are essentially connected with the desire of adherents of classic neoliberalism to return to the old paradigm” – is truly… disturbing?

As I very strongly believe that removing Trump ”is essentially connected with the desire of adherents of ”civilisation” to return to ”civilisation” – as ”Trumps Wild West” actually was a lot more steps back – than just the two steps Neoliberalism was back in comparison with the New Deal Capitalism that it replaced.

12

steven t johnson 10.29.19 at 12:29 am

If I may venture to translate @1?

Right-wing populism like Orban, Salvini, the Brexiteers are sweeping the globe and this is more of the same.

Trying to head off redivision of the world into nationalist trade blocks by removing Trump via dubiously democratic upheavals (like color revolutions) with more or less fictional quasi-scandals as pro-Russian treason or anti-Ukrainian treason (which is “Huh?” on the face of it,) is futile. It stems from a desire to keep on “free” trading despite the secular stagnation that has set in, hoping that the sociopolitical nowhere (major at least) doesn’t collapse until God or Nature or something restores the supposedly natural order of economic growth without end/crisis. I think efforts to keep the neoliberal international WTO/IMF/World Bank “free” trading system is futile because the lower orders are being ordered to be satisfied with a permanent, rigid class system. because. If the pie is to shrink forever, all the vile masses (the deplorables) are going to hang together in their various ways, clinging to shared identity in race or religion or nationality, which will leave the international capitalists hanging, period. “Greed is good” mantra, and the redistribution of the wealth up at the end proved to be very destructive. Saying “Greed is good,” then expecting selflessness from the lowers is not high-minded but self-serving. Redistribution of wealth upward has been terribly destructive to social cohesion, both domestically and in the sense of generosity towards foreigners.

The pervasive feeling that “we” are going down and drastic action has to be taken is probably why there hasn’t been much traction for impeachment til now. If Biden, shown to be shady in regards to Hunter, is nominated to lead the Democratic Party into four/eight years of Obama-esque promise to continue shrinking the status quo for the lowers, Trump will probably win. Warren might have a better chance to convince voters she means to change things (despite the example of Obama,) but she’s not very appealing. And she is almost certainly likely to be manipulated like Trump.

Again, despite the fury the old internationalism is collapsing under stagnation and weeping about it is irrelevant. Without any real ideas, we can only react to events as nationalist predatory capitals fight for their new world.

I’m not saying the new right wing populism is better. The New Deal/Great Society did more for America than its political successors since Nixon et al. The years since 1968 I think have been a regression and I see no reason–alas–that it can’t get even worse.

I *think* that’s more or less what likbez, said, though obviously it’s not the way likbez wanted to express it. I disagree strenuously on some details, like Warren’s problem being a schoolmarm, rather than being a believer in capitalism who shares Trump’s moral values against socialism, no matter what voters say.

13

Timothy Scriven 10.29.19 at 1:34 am

I have a take on Neoliberalism- it’s pretty poorly informed, but then a lot of people have pretty poorly informed takes on this subject.

There are actually three phenomena that masquerade under the name Neoliberalism:

A) A situation of class power in which elites are claiming an unusual portion of the spoils.
B) A special strategy by which that unusual portion of the spoils is extracted (economic policy done on a purely efficiency basis- unweighted CBA.)
C) An ideology that justifies B.

I think C) has fallen, although it retains a pallid existence in economics departments for want of a clear alternative.

B) has not entirely fallen, but has come under severe pressure, as elites have become more willing to adopt extractive strategies which clearly aren’t even pretending to be efficiency based.

A) on the other hand is doing fine. It’s perhaps a tad more nervous than it was in the past, but only a tad.

Whether phrases like “national neoliberalism” makes sense will depend on what you identify as the key portion of the beast. Is it the ideas, the policies, or an overall balance of class forces that you identify with “Neoliberalism”?

I think calling a specific balance of class forces that does not favor the working class “Neoliberalism” is too much of a stretch on the original meaning of the term- which clearly concerned a specific specific ideology and strategy. On that basis, I would say that Neoliberalism is dead or dying, and has been replaced with something far more openly venal. The unusually complete dominance of the ruling class has not (yet) diminished, but its accouterments have changed entirely.

Indeed venality seems to be the dominant feature of the ruling class in this period- a kind of dissolute uselessness that, somehow, is associated with no visible diminishment of power. On that basis I propose that the GFC marked the beginning of the Venal Age.

14

Area Man 10.29.19 at 1:39 am

If I may venture to translate @1?

Your translation is no less incoherent and fact-challenged as the original.

15

likbez 10.29.19 at 2:46 am

fausutsnotes 10.28.19 at 8:27 am @4

> … What on earth is “national neoliberalism.”

It is a particular mutation of the original concept similar to mutation of socialism into national socialism, when domestic policies are mostly preserved (including rampant deregulation) and supplemented by repressive measures (total surveillance) , but in foreign policy “might make right” and unilateralism with the stress on strictly bilateral regulations of trade (no WTO) somewhat modifies “Washington consensus”. In other words, the foreign financial oligarchy has a demoted status under the “national neoliberalism” regime, while the national financial oligarchy and manufactures are elevated.

And the slogan of “financial oligarchy of all countries, unite” which is sine qua non of classic neoliberalism is effectively dead and is replaced by protection racket of the most political powerful players (look at Biden and Ukrainian oligarchs behavior here ;-)

> I think every sentence in that comment is either completely wrong or at least debatable. And is likbez actually John Hewson, because that comment reads like one of John Hewson’s commentaries …

I wish ;-). But it is true in the sense of sentiment expressed in his article
A few bank scalps won’t help unless they change their rotten culture
That’s a very similar approach to the problem.

politicalfootball 10.28.19 at 1:19 pm @8
> Most obviously, to define Warren and Trump as both being neoliberals drains the term of any meaning

You are way too fast even for a political football forward ;-).

Warren capitalizes on the same discontent and the feeling of the crisis of neoliberalism that allowed Trump to win. Yes, she is a much better candidate than Trump, and her policy proposals are better (unless she is coerced by the Deep State like Trump in the first three months of her Presidency).

Still, unlike Sanders in domestic policy and Tulsi in foreign policy, she is a neoliberal reformist at heart and a neoliberal warmonger in foreign policy. Most of her policy proposals are quite shallow, and are just a band-aid.

“Warren’s “I have a plan” mantra sounds an awful lot like a dog whistle to Clinton voters” Elizabeth Warren’s
Plan-itis Excessive Lobbying Case Study naked capitalism

Jim Harrison 10.28.19 at 5:20 pm @9
> Neoliberalism gets used as a generalized term of abuse these days. Not every political and institutional development of the last 40 years comes down to the worship of the free market.

This is a typical stance of neoliberal MSM, a popular line of attack on critics on neoliberalism.

Yes, of course, not everything political and institutional development of the last 40 years comes down to the worship of the “free market.” But how can it be otherwise? Notions of human agency, a complex interaction of politics and economics in human affairs, technological progress since 1970th, etc., all play a role. But a historian needs to be able to somehow integrate the mass of evidence into a coherent and truthful story.

And IMHO this story for the last several decades is the ascendance and now decline of “classic neoliberalism” with its stress on the neoliberal globalization and opening of the foreign markets for transnational corporations (often via direct or indirect (financial) pressure, or subversive actions including color revolutions and military intervention) and replacement of it by “national neoliberalism” — domestic neoliberalism without (or with a different type of) neoliberal globalization.

Defining features of national neoliberalism along with the rejection of neoliberal globalization and, in particular, multiparty treaties like WTO is massive, overwhelming propaganda including politized witch hunts (via neoliberal MSM), total surveillance of citizens by the national security state institutions (three-letter agencies which now acquired a political role), as well as elements of classic nationalism built-in.

The dominant ideology of the last 30 years was definitely connected with “worshiping of free markets,” a secular religion that displaced alternative views and, for several decades (say 1976 -2007), dominated the discourse. So worshiping (or pretense of worshiping) of “free market” (as if such market exists and is not a theological construct– a deity of some sort) is really defining feature here.

16

faustusnotes 10.29.19 at 3:14 am

steven t johnson, your translation doesn’t improve things. First of all, there is nothing resembling a “color revolution” happening in the USA, and the efforts to remove Trump are not “dubiously democratic” – they are described in the Constitution and can only be successfully enacted by both houses of Congress. But this color revolution thing – this is really interesting. Where on earth did you get this idea from? There is obviously no groundswell for any kind of revolution (left or right) in the US, and no one involved in the “dubiously democratic” activities you are suspicious of has made any play to this kind of populism. So the entire sweep of the argument from Russiagate to color revolution is just wrong in every single stage. I don’t know if likbez or you think this, but whichever one of you who does is so thoroughly wrong it’s incredible.

Next, you say

efforts to keep the neoliberal international WTO/IMF/World Bank “free” trading system is futile because the lower orders are being ordered to be satisfied with a permanent, rigid class system

But this is just weird too. First of all, the UK and US have had class systems for much longer than the WTO system has existed – the UK has had a class system since 1066, and the WTO came into being something like 30 years ago. Gilded Age capitalism happened in the USA 100 years ago, and the US’s race-based class system is something like 400 years old. So why do you think that there is any connection between the “rules-based system” you don’t like and the idea that people are being “ordered to be satisfied with a permanent, rigid class system”. This is also further weakened when you consider that the major beneficiaries of the WTO system – Japan, Korea, China, Australia, NZ, and Germany, for example – don’t have a rigid class system and have benefited enormously from it. Perhaps it matters to Americans and Britons,but given that your economic inequality precedes the rules based international order by hundreds of years, it seems a little rich to think that there’s any connection between what the citizens of those nations are being “ordered to be satisfied” with and this particular international order.

Then of course you just start reciting Trump and Giuliani’s latest conspiracy theory, so I stopped reading. Why would I waste my time on that?

As an aside I think it’s fascinating that for the entire period of the Obama presidency and the three years after, not a single Putin-fluffing Trump-friendly leftist on here mentioned Biden or his son Hunter’s corruption, but as soon as Trump started spaffing on about it on Twitter you started taking it completely seriously. You really do show your colours a little too clearly sometimes.

17

nastywoman 10.29.19 at 4:47 am

If I may venture to correct the translation from @12 of @1?

Right-wing populism like Orban, Salvini, the Brexiteers will collapse (like Clownstick) NOT ”all around the globe” – as Right-wing populism is less than more restricted to certain ”uncivilised” areas.

Trying to head off redivision of the world into nationalist trade blocks by removing Trump via ”democratic upheavals” (like not only ”color revolutions”) or just using scandals like pro-Russian treason or anti-Ukrainian treason – (which seems “Huh?” the only way to get rid of the corrupt Moron – because US laws don’t allow to get rid of him for the real reasons we have to get rid of him?) is NOT futile.

It stems from a desire to keep some kind of a ”civilisation” and the “free trading” thing is just the sideshow – EVEN ”despite the secular stagnation that has set in, hoping that the sociopolitical nowhere (major at least) doesn’t collapse until God or Nature or something restores the supposedly natural order of economic growth without end/crisis”.

I think efforts to better NOT ”neoliberal international WTO/IMF/World Bank” BUT “free” trading system is NOT futile – because the ”lower orders” have realised that ”right-wing populism” is NOT an alternative to change the rigid class system.
Because. if the pie is to shrink forever, all the vile masses (the deplorables) are going to hang together in their various ways, wanting to be ”like Denmark”, which will leave the international capitalists with no other option than to ”bring on Denmark” – period.

AND the following is true:
“Greed is good” mantra, and the redistribution of the wealth up at the end proved to be very destructive. Saying “Greed is good,” then expecting selflessness from the lowers is not high-minded but self-serving. Redistribution of wealth upward has been terribly destructive to social cohesion, both domestically and in the sense of generosity towards foreigners.

BUT this pervasive feeling that “we” are going down and drastic action has to be taken is probably why there has been much so much traction for impeachment.
(as isn’t a majority for impeachment in the US – an amazing ”traction”?)

And don’t worry about Biden – he will NOT be nominated to lead the Democratic Party into four/eight years of Obama-esque promise to continue shrinking the status quo for the lowers. Any other Democrat will win – in order to get AOC as President in 2028.

Again, despite the fury to think that some ”old internationalism is collapsing under stagnation” NOT ”weeping” BUT ”betterment” is relevant. Without all the ideas from European Countries – where the New Green Deal already is reality – we can react to any events of nationalist predators fighting – in order to create a better new world.

I’m saying right wing populism was tried and thanks god – has failed so spectacular – that the ”the New Deal/Great Society” looks ”SO GOOD” – that more and more Americans want a revival –
As this is true too – that the ”the New Deal/Great Society” has done more for America than its political successors since Nixon et al. The years since 1968 I think have been a regression and I see no reason–alas–that it can’t get A LOT better.

18

nastywoman 10.29.19 at 5:08 am

AND if y’all don’t believe me y’all have to read the article about the ”Wegmans Opening in Brooklyn by my friend Rachel Sugar –
and I know – I know – it’s terribly
”bourgeois” –
BUT you guys HAVE to read IT –
(then you might start to understand that concept of ”betterment”.)

19

likbez 10.29.19 at 7:06 am

steven t johnson 10.29.19 at 12:29 am @12

Thank you ! A very nice interpretation of my views, which in many parts is better and more coherent then the original.

I disagree strenuously on some details, like Warren’s problem being a schoolmarm, rather than being a believer in capitalism who shares Trump’s moral values against socialism, no matter what voters say.

I fully agree with your point as for “a believer in capitalism who shares Trump’s moral values against socialism, no matter what voters say.” It’s very difficult or impossible to like Trump, but his enemies in “intelligence community” proved to be so sleazy and dishonest, that he might well beat Warren in 2020 elections on the wave of revulsion to their dirty tricks. Although she is a more difficult opponent then Biden, which would be a dream opponent for Trump.

As for “Trump’s moral values” I would only say that Trump does not have any moral values ;-)

20

J-D 10.29.19 at 10:59 am

faustusnotes

Japan, Korea, China, Australia, NZ, and Germany, for example – don’t have a rigid class system and have benefited enormously from it.

Citation needed.

21

faustusnotes 10.29.19 at 12:11 pm

I really can’t be bothered with the mishmash of junk in likbez’s response up above, but I’ll note again that there are now multiple people commenting on this blog who claim to be left wing but have bought Trump and Giuliani’s ravings about Hunter Biden completely. None of them have ever mentioned Biden or his son until the last two weeks and suddenly they’re so self-assured about the fact that this corruption is a well-known fact and we all agree with it. Could the seductive allure of Trump to the far-left in America be any clearer than this? How old are you guys, do you have daddy issues or are you cranky old men yourselves? Do you seriously believe this rubbish that these people are spouting at you? Do you vote based on these ludicrous fantasies? It’s just incredible how quickly Trump and Giuliani’s fantasies have sunk into the minds of far left commenters here so that they not only believe this weird conspiracy theory but think everyone else has always known it.

You guys would fit in so well in 1984. You would really honestly believe that we have always been at war with Eastasia, and take every opportunity to remind everyone of this universally accepted eternal fact. You really are model running dog lackeys!

22

Donald 10.29.19 at 12:23 pm

I don’t know about Putin fluffing leftists but people have been referring to Biden in rather harsh terms as the senator from MBNA for a very long time. This is because of his support for a bankruptcy bill that was favorable for credit card companies. And yes, Hunter also worked for MBNA. Warren was one of Biden’s critics.

https://theintercept.com/2019/10/14/joe-biden-elizabeth-warren-bankruptcy-women/

Another link in a minute. You can google this and find countless articles. I thought everyone knew it.

23

Donald 10.29.19 at 12:28 pm

24

EWM 10.29.19 at 12:48 pm

“It [government] covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting: such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to be nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.” ~ Alexis de Tocqueville

25

Scott P. 10.29.19 at 1:12 pm

(look at Biden and Ukrainian oligarchs behavior here ;-)

Ah, the tell.

But this color revolution thing – this is really interesting. Where on earth did you get this idea from?

The answer is simple. Likbez is a pro-Russia troll.

26

nastywoman 10.29.19 at 1:53 pm

@19
”It’s very difficult or impossible to like Trump”

Yes!
and – his enemies in the “intelligence community” proved to be so helpful for every American – who wants to get rid of the dishonest and sleazy Clownstick – that it is truly ironic – how much the “intelligence community’s”… may I say ”image” – has become so much ”better” than the Presidents one.
As everything in America get’s done ”by comparison” – Right? –
And so this time we could run a piece of furniture from the 17th century against the Clownstick and – the Queen Anne Cabinet would win.

And as I – currently – have 19 bets –
(15 for 1000$) and 4 -(for cases of Prosecco and Champagne) – against a win of Trump (against anybody) – would likbez – or anybody else here –
like to be Nr.20?

27

Jonah Thomas 10.29.19 at 3:11 pm

Thank you for this unorthodox view. I’ve noticed that my thinking has been strongly contaminated with “The Conventional Wisdom”, which includes big falsehoods and misdirections. While the situation was stable this didn’t matter much in the short run — the politics would be dominated by people who believed those things. But now that things are starting to fall apart it’s getting important not to believe the old lies.

So ideas which look very different are important because they challenge me to examine my unconscious assumptions, regardless how true the new ideas may be.

About Trump…. It looks to me like he has some background in professional wrestling where the “kayfabe” concept is important. He doesn’t care how awful he looks to the rubes who think of him as a heel, provided they keep focusing on the outrageous things he says more than on what he does. The more attention he can get on that, the more he “sucks the air out of the room” for anything else.

It’s possible the Republicans will do a surprise and nominate somebody else. That will disrupt everybody’s thinking. I don’t think that’s real likely, but it would sure disrupt things, wouldn’t it?

Since Truman the US presidential elections have gone 8 years of Democrats and 8 years of Republicans, like clockwork. One single exception, Reagan got Carter’s second term. Is it a secret agreement between the parties? I don’t know why. But it’s plausible that the Republican will win in 2020 and the Democrats get 8 years starting in 2024. One way to look at it is that when it isn’t their turn, the losing party runs somebody who’s too far from center.

About the “color revolution” thing, of course there hasn’t been anything much like that here. But there was the “pussy hat” march. Somebody put a lot of money into that, and a whole lot of people turned out for it, and then it just ended. Could it have been the same people, organizing it as a kind of trial run? They have the methodology. They could do it here, if conditions were right. Would they? I don’t know. I don’t know much about them. What would it take for conditions to be right? I don’t know that either. Maybe they don’t know. They have surely analyzed the places it succeeded and the places it failed, so they know more than I do.

Maybe the most valuable thing here is to recognize how much I don’t know. I hear ideas that sound absurd, and then realize that while there may be no truth to them, the reason I think they are absurd is that I have accepted bullshit conventional thinking inside my own head, and I have hardly any more teason to believe it than I do the new absurd ideas.

28

steven t johnson 10.29.19 at 3:19 pm

Area Man@14 writes…nothing, actually. I might attempt to refute his views if were so innocent as to make them known. But I can’t help feeling that if this were a real comment even an Area Man might care to know more details I strenuously disagree upon. There are times when the accusations of incoherence are prompted by comments that altogether too easily understood yet not easily refuted. I think this is such an occasion.

faustusnotes@16 at least makes an effort. First, translation is treason to the author. My attempt at translation didn’t make it clear likbez does *not* see any color revolution afoot in the US, but merely attempts to use some of the techniques here as used abroad. And in fact one of the points he makes is about why they aren’t making any headway. But faustusnotes is perilously close to denying that there is such a thing as a color revolution, or at least, insisting against the evidence color revolutions really do lead to the expression of the people’s will. I hope not, as that is a shameful position to take.

The removal of Lula via false charges, to allow faustusnotes’ friend Bolsonaro to ascend to the Brazilian presidency, is exactly the kind of color revolution mechanism likbez is thinking of, I believe. The insistence that Trump really is a traitor because “Russiagate” and “Ukrainegate” is preposterous for exactly the same reasons accusations of treason against Clinton for Benghazi and emails were preposterous. The only reason for a double standard is rotten, reactionary politics. So far from thinking a color revolution is going to ensue, likbez is inclined to think this scheme may even backfire, and help Trump. That’s why Pelosi (and reactionaries-at-heart, like LGM) were so opposed to even talking impeachment for so long, until they found a sufficiently reactionary cause. Impeachment on a leftist charge is unendurable for this lot! The insinuation that removing a president isn’t revolutionary at all is, well, the best phrase I can think of, is, hiding in a dictionary.

All faustusnotes’ remarks to this point smack of the sleazy, but at least they are semi-defensible as clueless pedantry and petty malice. The breath-taking arrogance in pronouncing “Japan, Korea, China, Australia, NZ and Germany” don’t have “rigid” class systems is very convenient, but not actually facts, much less a refutation. [Talking about Germany’s class system without thinking of Gastarbeiter is preposterous, for a single example.]

The proffered history of class society is also deranged, as England had classes before 1066, for a single example. it is also moving the goalposts. The issue of course is that since about the middle seventies, real wages for most families have stagnated, even if you don’t think the need for so many wives to work outside the home is any issue at all. It appears that faustusnotes has complete rejected the notion of a Great Compression, too. I must say, that’s bold! Lastly on this point, too, non-rigid class societies are very much so because of economic growth offering opportunities. It was likbez who was making an issue of secular stagnation changing class politics. Unlike faustusnotes, I don’t think this is manifest absurdity, as it has something to do with reality. I’m not sure faustusnotes even accepts there are issues with stagnation, much less that it has social and political consequences.

By the end faustusnotes has completely lost it. I almost missed it, but the phrase “Putin-fluffing” is apparently a reference to porn, where off-camera parties help get stars ready for their scenes, or maybe keeps them from being distracted by the film crew? What brings on this scurrility is the mention of Biden’s corruption. The obvious reason for people talking about Hunter Biden and Burisma now is simply that most of us hadn’t heard of Burisma. The mass press is very selective in its coverage.

I cannot speak for likbez on this, but I firmly believe a cardinal principle of politics is, the true corruption of a system is what’s legal. I also believe that Hunter Biden’s influence peddling is legal, but for peons such as myself, still corrupt. Biden was already disgraced by being Obama’s vice president, proving he would never really change anything, not even if given a mandate for change. I can’t admire such solicitude for Biden.

I’m not quite sure what nastywoman@17 is saying. It sounds something like the EU is a spiritual ideal walking the earth, and it will inspire the masses to reject revolution in favor of social democracy, which to be honest sounds much crazier than likbez, even in the hostile misreadings. But the truth is, I could very well be wrong, as I find nastywoman to be incoherent in a way I’ve never found likbez.

Sorry this was so long.

29

nastywoman 10.29.19 at 3:33 pm

@25
”The answer is simple. Likbez is a pro-Russia troll”.

Highly doubtful – as anybody who has been around -(on the Intertuebs) might have ran into likbez – here and there – at all kind of blogs – and he always was far too confused to be a pro-Russia troll could be.

As classical ”pro Russia trolls” know that they have to write something which is -(kind of) ”pro Russia” but likbez is ”all over the map” – like the type of ”Internet Warrior” who on German blogs just write:

”Alles ist Scheisse”!

30

Marc 10.29.19 at 5:09 pm

@21: You don’t have to be a right winger to find the Biden situation nauseating. Family members of prominent politicians magically getting lucrative gigs is of the same ilk as having legislators retiring and becoming highly paid lobbyists, or getting large fees from speeches to interest groups. All may be legal, and yet they can still be morally rotten. The Hunter Biden situation stinks, just like Bill and Hillary Clinton getting extremely rich from speeches to plutocrats did. The only excuse that I can see is pure tribalism – and, yes, the sins of Trump are bigger. I can still maintain the same standards that I always had, and when I was aware of them I did express them at the time (whether you knew it or not.)

31

Area Man 10.29.19 at 5:48 pm

@15:

Neoliberalism gets used as a generalized term of abuse these days.

This is a typical stance of neoliberal MSM, a popular line of attack on critics on neoliberalism.

You just so perfectly stepped on that rake.

32

Area Man 10.29.19 at 7:03 pm

Defining features of national neoliberalism along with the rejection of neoliberal globalization and, in particular, multiparty treaties like WTO is massive, overwhelming propaganda including politized witch hunts (via neoliberal MSM)

Putting aside the circular definitions here, “politized [sic] witch hunts” is the actual charge against Donald Trump and precisely why he is in trouble, which I guess makes him the world’s worst neoliberal. He withheld appropriated funds from Ukraine for several months in order to extort them into launching a punitive investigation of a political rival based on a nonsense conspiracy theory (and he also repeatedly lied about it, but let’s not set the bar too high here). These facts aren’t even in dispute anymore — his Republicans defenders have basically given up on arguing over the substance of the allegations and have instead resorted to complaining about the process and barging in on hearings to physically disrupt them. And yet for some bizarre reason, we have so-called leftists who are so incredibly deluded that they think Trump is the victim, as opposed to the perpetrator, of a political witch hunt.

33

Orange Watch 10.29.19 at 8:14 pm

Scott P@26:
The answer is simple. Likbez is a pro-Russia troll.

Depressingly, the answer probably isn’t that simple. They cited Naked Capitalism, and pretty much everything they’ve said here is in keeping with the moderator-enforced orthodox overarching narrative on that site. It seems more likely that they’re a true believer who’s spent too long in echo chambers which recognize the US’s foreign policy as selfish and destructive, but then make the entirely unwarranted leap that because it’s so bad, any actor that opposes them is morally neutral, or at least not subject to the same degree of scrutiny and criticism. It’s a bizarre worldview that seems to want to ignore the possibility that every actor in an interaction is a bad actor, or at the bare minimum confuses the idea of it can be useful for a third party to weaken and distract a common enemy with the idea that this makes the third party succeeding in their broader aims desirable without considering what those aims are. It’s schadenfreude combined with tunnel vision, and its appeal seems to lie in its creation of a personally satisfying narrative which demonizes the near enemy – their centrist political rivals – as hopeless authoritarians.

34

Faustusnotes 10.29.19 at 11:07 pm

Nice misdirection Donald. I asked about the sudden interest in the Ukraine thing, trump and Giulianis latest Old Man Yells at Cloud moment, not some old news about credit cards. Why are you Putin fluffers suddenly so sure that’s something everyone always knew, just at the same time the old authoritarian men are making a fuss about it. It’s so telling that you have latched onto that, and so obvious. Care to explain?

35

faustusnotes 10.30.19 at 12:06 am

Also it’s hilarious watching people like likbez tie themselves in knots to try and avoid saying “fascism”. Call it “national neoliberalism” and you can use this much-abused nothing word to make it sound like Republicans and Democrats are the same, but if you have to call it fascism then suddenly everyone knows that the two parties are different and your nihilistic politics falls apart. Good effort!

36

reason 10.30.19 at 9:41 am

EWM @24
And this is relevant to what exactly?

(Reads like a bit of Libertarian propaganda from about 2000 – I thought events had made it clear that the Libertarian world view is small minded nuttiness.)

37

reason 10.30.19 at 9:42 am

For EWM – just two words – Hong Kong and Chile.

38

likbez 10.30.19 at 10:03 am

Timothy Scriven 10.29.19 at 1:34 am @13

There are actually three phenomena that masquerade under the name Neoliberalism:

A) A situation of class power in which elites are claiming an unusual portion of the spoils.

B) A special strategy by which that unusual portion of the spoils is extracted (economic policy done on a purely efficiency basis- unweighted CBA.)

C) An ideology that justifies B.

I think C) has fallen, although it retains a pallid existence in economics departments for want of a clear alternative.

B) has not entirely fallen, but has come under severe pressure, as elites have become more willing to adopt extractive strategies which clearly aren’t even pretending to be efficiency based.

A) on the other hand is doing fine. It’s perhaps a tad more nervous than it was in the past, but only a tad.

That’s an interesting observation. I never thought about the possibility to decompose neoliberalism in such a way. Thank you !

As a side note, I think you slightly underestimate the level of anxiety among the USA financial oligarchy. Jamie Dimon desire for “kinder gentler capitalism”, his sudden willingness to pay higher taxes (with the precondition that the government spends it wisely ;-) and his statement that student lending in the U.S. has been “a disgrace” and it’s “hurting America” clearly reflect a slightly different condition then “a tad more nervous”.

He is willing to betray three classic neoliberal postulates at once. That’s probably can be characterized more close to panic, then “a tad more nervous”.

On the other hand “the absence of clear alternative” is what prolong the life of neoliberalism in its current “zombie” state. And the term “zombie” state in turn presuppose increased venality and bloodthirstiness of the neoliberal elite, along with the increasing level of moral and social degradation (Trump, Biden, Schiff, Epstein, Clinton, etc )

So the increasing venality of neoliberal elite can probably be viewed as yet another manifestation of the crisis of neoliberalism.

Actually amorality and criminality of neoliberal elite and the increasing level of its rejection by the “deplorables” should probably be viewed as one of the defining features of the current stage of neoliberalism.

The growing view on neoliberal MSM as “fake news” might be yet another symptom along the lines of classic Marxism “revolutionary situation” definition: when the elite can’t rule “as usual” and “deplorable” do not want to live “as usual”.

From Wikipedia

Lenin describes the “revolutionary situation” as follows:

“To the Marxist it is indisputable that a revolution is impossible without a revolutionary situation; furthermore, it is not every revolutionary situation that leads to revolution. What, generally speaking, are the symptoms of a revolutionary situation? We shall certainly not be mistaken if we indicate the following three major symptoms:

(1) when it is impossible for the ruling classes to maintain their rule without any change; when there is a crisis, in one form or another, among the “upper classes”, a crisis in the policy of the ruling class, leading to a fissure through which the discontent and indignation of the oppressed classes burst forth. For a revolution to take place, it is usually insufficient for “the lower classes not to want” to live in the old way; it is also necessary that “the upper classes should be unable” to live in the old way;

(2) when the suffering and want of the oppressed classes have grown more acute than usual;

(3) when, as a consequence of the above causes, there is a considerable increase in the activity of the masses, who uncomplainingly allow themselves to be robbed in “peace time”, but, in turbulent times, are drawn both by all the circumstances of the crisis and by the “upper classes” themselves into independent historical action.

39

J-D 10.30.19 at 11:11 am

An interesting sidelight is that Brexit No-Dealers have been keen on the merits of trading “on WTO terms”, but those terms will probably be unenforceable by the time No Deal happens (if it does).

That’s exactly what I thought of when I read your article at The Conversation.

40

nastywoman 10.30.19 at 11:18 am

@28
”I’m not quite sure what nastywoman@17 is saying”.

It was ”rapping” with some steven t johnson words – but as Rap can be difficult to understand -(for older people?) let nastywoman try to say it (as so often before) in the utmost simplistic way:
Yes! – compared to my homeland (the USA) a lot of EU countries are an ”ideal” walking the earth – as it gave and gives me (MOI) – and all of my fellow expats:

”Free Education”
”Secure jobs which pay living wages”
”Affordable Universal Healthcare”
”Affordable Housing”
”Long payed vacations” –
AND utmost important ”Living the NEW GREEN DEAL” with – a the short reference to Faust – a much lesser “rigid” system of (very) Rich versus (very) Poor – as in my homeland the US.

AND YES – such a pleasant (social democratic) life – inspires the masses to reject revolution in favor of social democracy.

And – please – don’t be like one of these ”Americans”, who say:
”We never can be Denmark”
(Bernie and AOC believe so – and I hope it is NOT too complicated if I have used ”Denmark” as a Parabel?)

41

nastywoman 10.30.19 at 11:31 am

AND furthermore – do you guys know – that it was people like me (MOI!) – who told Americans like Bernie – and AOC -(at a bar) that:
YES!!

It’s really possible – to get all of the… the… (above) ”stuff” – living in ”Denmark” –
(or even the even ”happier” country – Finland) ALSO for the US of A!
(-and you even won’t have to go through some ”stressful revolution” in order to get it)

42

Orange Watch 10.30.19 at 2:08 pm

fn@34:

On the subject of telling misdirections, you should probably explain how merely observing that Biden has long been recognized as a beacon of centrist corruption makes one a “Putin fluffer”. Those pushing the Burisma line do indeed have the look of useful idiots, fellow travelers, and neo-tankies… but your claim that Donald responded to was this:

None of them have ever mentioned Biden or his son until the last two weeks and suddenly they’re so self-assured about the fact that this corruption is a well-known fact and we all agree with it.

a

You literally suggested the idea that Biden is corrupt is a new innovation that could only have come from parroting the administration. You’re not commenting in good faith.

43

Faustusnotes 10.30.19 at 2:38 pm

The way likbez, Steven j Thompson et al drain all words of their meaning is astounding. ‘Color revolution ‘ has a specific meaning and what happened to lula and trump ain’t it. If you want to make words mean whatever you want we can’t talk. If you think the word “rigid” applies equally to the class system in both the uk and oz you either know nothing about those societies or you don’t know what the word means (perhaps you need a fluffed?) and as for neoliberal … my god could you stop flogging that horse? It died 30 years ago and you’ve thrashed it to meaningless mush.

Just like republicans, to the American far left words and argument have no meaning – just a collection of spam they deploy to defend their nihilism. There’s no point in talking to people who are going to flagrantly abuse a word as specific as ‘color revolution’.

And please, spare me the mad notion that you have always been concerned about what hunter Biden did in Ukraine . You had never heard of it until Giuliani started spouting it on tv and now you’ve bought the whole story hook line and sinker. Fox News addicted leftists – whodathunkit!

44

steven t johnson 10.30.19 at 5:16 pm

Area Man@32 slips up and actually states a position. Of course it’s true that Trump campaigning with public money while he’s supposed to at the public business is…a violation of campaign ethcis. I believe it’s also a violation of campaign law, except there are specific exemptions for the President, which a Federalist Society lawyer would make into a mountain of objections. The problem for Area Man and the others spouting similar nonsense about pro-Russia trolls is still the same: This is not treason. Insisting that disagreement on this is treason is the reactionary politics of McCarthy et al.

But treason is the only acceptable charge to the reactionary (open or secret) opposition to Trump. I think impeachment charges on nonfeasance, misfeasance, malfeasance in office are long overdue. (Nonfeasance in his administrative incompetence, with the ramshackle reliance on acting this and that, for one. Misfeasance in his games funding his wall, for one. Malfeasance in his cruelty to immigrants, especially children, for one.) I would add conduct unbecoming a president, for his deliberate abuse of whole bodies of people and his specific slanders and his pathological lying.

For the right-wingers (open and secret) I’ll grant you charges on emoluments (his properties and the income to them from the government) and campaign violation (Ukraine) and maybe even obstruction of justice (orders to refuse testimony to Congress.) But I can’t see the compelling case that these are high crimes of the same sort. And I persist in thinking that ignoring the real crimes in favor of hysteria about treason is a diversion, opposition for partisan advantage, not a principled rejection of Trumpery.

Most people lost personal respect for Biden over plagiarism, which was quite some time ago. Most Vice Presidents seem to be chosen for being a second rate version of the President, the flattery of imitation without the anxiety of competition. (Yes, Cheney is an exception, but then, he chose himself, didn’t he?) Who respects any VP?

45

Orange Watch 10.31.19 at 8:28 pm

steven t johnson@44:

For the right-wingers (open and secret) I’ll grant you charges on emoluments (his properties and the income to them from the government) and campaign violation (Ukraine) and maybe even obstruction of justice (orders to refuse testimony to Congress.) But I can’t see the compelling case that these are high crimes of the same sort.

Here’s the problem: “high crimes [and misdemeanors]” was a legal term of art at the time the Constitution was drafted, and to describe it briefly, it means “abuse of power by officials of state”. It does not mean “violations of the criminal code which are particularly egregious, such as treason”; it does not require violations of the criminal code, full stop. Misrepresenting the Constitution like this is disingenuous – not as disingenuous as characterizing an elected official extorting an ally by withholding Congressionally appropriated funds as quid pro quo for their denouncing a presumptive political rival as “campaigning with public money”, but still quite disingenuous. It can’t even be passed off as an innocent misunderstanding; the Constitution places “Bribery” between “Treason” and “other high Crimes and Misdemeanors”. Your insistence of equating any accusations of misconduct that you don’t credit as well-grounded as accusations of treason is a slight-of-hand lets you sweepingly dismiss those accusations as alarmist, self-serving, and grossly inaccurate, and it intentionally obfuscates both the accusers’ actual grievances and the legal standards in question.

It’s frustrating to have watched the feckless neoliberal centrist Democratic leadership refuse to take up impeachment for the reasons you list, but as impeachment is a political remedy to abuse of office, it’s well within their rights, and their refusal to do so until they were cornered, cajoled, and one of their near and dear was threatened via very straightforward malfeasance they felt they could denounce without electoral risk is not in any way illegitimate. It’s shameless, and predictable, and demoralizing, but it’s not illegitimate.

46

steven t johnson 10.31.19 at 8:35 pm

Faustusnotes@43 continues the meltdown, notably forgetting his own list of non-rigid class societies (nations, ) retreating to the UK and Australia. Reminding everyone of the widely accepted definition for color revolution would have been useful. There is the propaganda notion, a vague image of the outraged people rising en masse to throw out the Communists/Communist-adjacent corrupt (unlike all others of course,) government. Inasmuch as likbez specifically denied a mass movement, this is still as much a red herring as it was when first brandished.

And there is the real definition, which is using a minority to render the country ungovernble, waving a simplistic banner against corruption and for undefined democracy, which movement leaves the masses unorganized and eschews even a platform lest they organize, in favor of a secret coterie. Thus when the Astroturf does drive out the current administration, mirabile dictu! nothing changes except its receptivity to international capital. The fundamental color revolution mechanism it seems to me is the hiding of the real program, the true commitment to capital, behind a facade.

Lastly, the idea that likbez just made stuff up is remarkable. If anything, it seems to me that likbez has been heavily influenced by the thesis of Quinn Slobodian’s The Globalists. But that book may be touted largely as (unread) proof somebody disreputable isn’t acceptable in polite company, not really useful otherwise.

Surprisingly, nastywoman confirms my general impression is really seeing the EU as the inspiration for a better society, without radicalism, much less revolution. I agree there’s nothing worse than revolution…except not having a revolution, which I guess takes us back to square one. The EU of course is really the Maastricht treaty, the Lisbon treaty, the announcement that elections can’t change policy, technocrats as PM in Italy, Greece, etc. In short, nastywoman confesses to incoherence. But nastywoman can take joy in correctly spotting that I’m a disgusting old person too vile to understand rap and can hope I’ll be dead soon, and blight humanity no more.

47

Faustusnotes 10.31.19 at 9:55 pm

Orange watch, it’s really obvious what I was talking about. I wonder why you have to work so hard to misrepresent it? Exhausting work this fluffing, isn’t it?

48

likbez 10.31.19 at 9:59 pm

nastywoman 10.29.19 at 3:33 pm @25

likbez is ”all over the map” – like the type of ”Internet Warrior” who on German blogs just write:”Alles ist Scheisse”!

First of all, I view Anglo-Saxon civilization as the greatest civilization in history. And it is painful for me to see how it is partially destroyed by neoliberals.

Secondly, I am pretty consistent in my anti-neoliberalism stance; and have been for years. Of course, I did not reach the level of Steven T Johnson, the depth of understanding of this social phenomenon by whom is definitely superior to mine. Which I admit, along with my open admiration of his IQ and the level of his posts.

But your simplistic statement that my postings are “all over the map” and just a kind of nihilism is clearly a cheap attack on the views that you do not like due to the level of your indoctrination. I view it as a hit below the belt.

49

Mark Pontin 10.31.19 at 10:05 pm

For those wondering what Biden has to do with plagiarism, in his earlier failed presidential bid in 1988 he stole large elements of one British politician Neil Kinnock’s speeches. See forex —

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Biden_1988_presidential_campaign#Kinnock_controversy

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/barackobama/2607505/Joe-Biden-plagiarised-Neil-Kinnock-speech.html

50

Mark Pontin 10.31.19 at 10:42 pm

As for the pretense that knowledge of Biden’s graft is new and something Trump pulled out of the bag, here’s a 2008 Pro Publica report referencing and linking to other reports over the decades from fully centrist, mainstream rags like the NY Times and the Wall Street Journal —

https://www.propublica.org/article/bidens-cozy-relations-with-bank-industry-825

Biden’s Cozy Relations With Bank Industry
by Eric Umansky Aug. 25, 2008, 10:36 a.m. EDT

‘With Sen. Joe Biden joining the Democratic ticket, there’s renewed scrutiny of Biden’s connections to the credit card industry. Biden has been particularly cozy with MBNA, a financial services company from Delaware, and now a subsidiary of Bank of America.

‘Over the past 20 years, MBNA has been Biden’s single largest contributor. And as the New York Times and Wall Street Journal note, Biden’s son Hunter was hired out of law school by MBNA and later worked as a lobbyist for the company.

‘The Times also details just how helpful Biden has been to MBNA and the credit card industry. The senator was a key supporter of an industry-favorite bill — the “Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005” — that actually made it harder for consumers to get protection under bankruptcy.

‘As the Times notes, Biden was one of the first Democratic supporters of the bill and voted for it four times until it finally passed in March 2005 …’

This article continues and thousands more reports like it were published over the decades.

However,please note that last fact: the timing of the bill, 2005. This was the period when Ben Bernanke, after his ‘helicopter money’ speech endorsing quantitative easing in 2002, was being wheeled into position by the powers that be to become Fed chairman. And the reason for both “Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005” and Bernanke being wheeled into place was that the financial industry were preparing for the financial blowout, which they well aware was coming.

In other words, that bill was passed — with Biden’s very active assistance — specifically to ensure that for the vast mass of Americans there would be even less recourse and the crash would be even harder when it hit.

Because that’s just the kind of politician Biden has always been.

51

Donald 10.31.19 at 10:45 pm

Faustusnotes—

I think your views of American politics are often a bit “off”. For instance, while it is not uncommon for people on the far left to criticize Sanders for voting for imperialist foreign policies, you are the only person I have ever seen use this as a defense of more mainstream Democrats who are far more hawkish than he is.

So I jumped in to point out that Biden’s sleaziness has been an often discussed topic going back for decades. I could have mentioned the plagiarism of Kinnock’s speech, but that was so strange I don’t know what to make of it.

You can imagine whatever you wish about me. It doesn’t matter. I will vote for any Democrat over any Republican. I also despise a great many Democratic politicians, including some I have voted for. This will likely happen again in 2020, unless Sanders or Warren ( my second choice) get the nomination. I actually like them.

52

likbez 10.31.19 at 11:39 pm

Note to moderator: please delete prev post — spacing and several typos corrected.

Faustusnotes 10.30.19 at 2:38 pm @43

‘Color revolution ‘ has a specific meaning and what happened to Lula and Trump ain’t it

You probably never read Gene Sharp, who passed in Feb 2018. Claims of “corruption” and “unfair” election results (which includes foreign influence on elections) are classic color revolution methods described in detail in his books.

Participation of intelligence agencies and controlled by them MSM is a distinctive feature of any color revolution: is it, in essence, a modern, very sophisticated variant of a false flag operation. Controlled/influenced (often indirectly) by intelligence agencies MSM essentially serve the role similar to airforce in modern neocolonial wars (and the level of control is staggering starting from the operation Mockingbird; see Journalists for Hire How the CIA Buys the News by Dr. Udo Ulfkotte).

No matter how you view Trump, it is undeniable that several signs of a color revolution were present in Russiagate (and Ukrainegate, which is, in essence, Russiagate 2.0 — a counterattack on the attempt by Trump to investigate the origins of Russiagate).

Here is the list adapted from the writings on the topic by former CIA analyst Larry C Johnson and Colonel Lang (DIA). The latter led intelligence analysis of the Middle East and South Asia for the Defense Department and world-wide HUMINT activities in a high-level equivalent to the rank of a lieutenant general. He runs well respected
Sic Semper Tyrannis blog.

Both think that the CIA pulled the main strings. They noted the following:

— Obama officials efforts in establishing surveillance on Trump campaign on a false pretext (FICA memo scandal, etc.) ;

— CrowdStrike false flag operation with DNC — converting the internal leak into Russian break-in;

— MI6 fabrication of Steele dossier using materials from the USA obtained via Fusion GPS and Brennan and rehashing them as an original British intelligence.

— Brennan use of Steele dossier to produce “17 intelligence agencies assessment,” which served as the signal of unleashing of Russiagate hysteria in neoliberal MSM and the official start of Russiagate.

— Rosenstein gambit with using firing of Comey as a convenient pretext for appointment Mueller (appointment of the Special Prosecutor was in the cards anyway and was inescapable for Trump as it was a preplanned action by the plotters, and they controlled all the necessary strings; this probably was the meaning of the word “insurance” in Strzok-Page text messages).

— McCabe’s opening of FBI investigation of Trump links to Russia.

— Alexandra Chalupa machination with getting dirt on Trump and his associates (Manafort) from Poroshenko government (which was a client state anyway so it is funny that Schiff now tries to claim that Ukraine can exercise foreign influence; it is a USA controlled entity; the country in a debt trap ).

— Systematic attempts to entrap Trump associates with connection to the Russian government by CIA, MI6 and Italian intelligence (Misfud entrapment operation, Felix Sater entrapment operation with idea of building of Trump hotel in Moscow, Halper entrapment attempt, MI6 entrapment operation with Natalia Veselnitskaya visit to Trump tower, etc.).

I think that under the weight of those facts, the picture is more or less clear — this was a color revolution.

53

nastywoman 11.01.19 at 12:37 am

@46
”But nastywoman can take joy in correctly spotting that I’m a disgusting old person too vile to understand rap and can hope I’ll be dead soon, and blight humanity no more”.

But I don’t – as actually the rap reference – plus the ”for older people” – was meant more like… ”joking” – when the wiser (older women and men) of my family telling my generation that we just don’t have this ”revolutionary spirit” – they had in the 60th and 70th” – including the classical joke: ”if they still would remember it – they wouldn’t have been there.
And soooo – please! – just don’t take anything I write so… so… seriously? – as really – believe me – for anybody who currently has the pleasure – living the NEW GREEN DEAL” -(with no student loans – a well paying job – affordable healthcare and housing AND long vacations) the EU is sooo much more than any ”treaty” or what else you mention – especially in Italy and Greece.

And YES – enjoying everything what the EU has to offer – in such a (”ignorant”?) way might be completely and totally ”incoherent” – but that’s the fun of it – which could bring us to @48 and my ”level of indoctrination”.
I have been ”indoctrinated” so ”massiv” that I’m currently working very hard to get AOC elected as the second female US President in 2018 – and I always only hit ”above” the belt.

54

faustusnotes 11.01.19 at 5:58 am

Orange Watch, the Democrats weren’t refusing to impeach until one of their own got accused of corruption. They were waiting for evidence of a crime that the Republicans might actually act on. Things the Republicans won’t impeach a (Republican) president for include breaching the emoluments clause, imprisoning migrant children, starting illegal wars or shooting someone on 5th avenue. Things they will impeach him for include any crime that makes them look bad to the average American nationalist. Hence they waited for the quid pro quo. You should consider the possiblity that Pelosi knew it was coming, and was holding off on impeachment until something marketable arose. But to do that you would have to accept that a) Pelosi is acting as a politician and not a corrupt gangster and b) most people in America are too conservative to want to impeach the president for something as “minor” as imprisoning and abandoning children.

steven t. johnson, I’m not retreating from my claim about all the countries I listed, I just bothered to write two down in one comment. But please, go to bat for the idea that the UK and Australia have exactly the same class systems, please do that!

But seriously, I don’t know why I bother. You guys have reached the same level of intellectual ignorance as climate denialists, being presented with voluminous evidence of obvious facts (the Russian collusion, the corruption, the kleptocracy) and you won’t accept any of it. You’re beyond reason or logic. There’s no purpose to an argument with someone who can look at everything that has been revealed in the last 3 years and still maintain that the Russia thing is a hoax, while simultaneously strenuously defending Giuliani’s fantasies about Biden and Ukraine. We’ve always been at war with Eastasia, amirite?

So I’ll say something vaguely related to this, and tangentially related to the OP, instead. Some of us were warning from the early 1990s that this unhinged black helicopter stuff coming out of the American right wasn’t just fringe junk, and that it was dangerous. We warned that the conspiracy theories about international organizations were dangerous back when right wing “intellectuals” were attacking the WHO on Big Tobacco’s dime, and BoJo was writing egregious lies about the EU in British newspapers. Even this year people were still defending some of those “intellectuals” (even on this blog) as legitimate scholars and BoJo was seen as harmless fun, and anyway don’t you know that these international organizations are just a neoliberal plot? We pointed out that the McVeighs and Christchurch shooters of the world were lapping this stuff up. We warned that moderate conservatives were riding a tiger when they pandered to the anti-EU sentiment on the right wing fringe. But people laughed and said no, you overestimate the importance of these institutions, and anyway these guys aren’t serious, they won’t do much harm! And now look where we are: the black helicopter paranoia has reached the white house and is madly trying to unravel these international institutions, while the provisional wing of the Republican party rampages around America killing schoolchildren and Muslims and Jews, and the feral cult of Spiked have got their membership into Number 10. Meanwhile the planet burns and the people who laughed at us for being so overimaginative 20 years ago are now pretending that all political sides are just as bad and probably the lunatic in the white house is no different to anyone else. You were warned, and even now as it all unravels around you you still don’t get it.

55

likbez 11.01.19 at 6:51 am

Faustusnotes 10.29.19 at 11:07 pm @34

Nice misdirection Donald. I asked about the sudden interest in the Ukraine thing, trump and Giulianis latest Old Man Yells at Cloud moment, not some old news about credit cards.

As for “sudden interest in the Ukraine thing” I would like to remind you that Ukraine was an important player in Russiagate, and, as such, is potentially guilty in the interference in the USA elections.

Below is one tidbit for your attention: there is actually an old (1999) and a very interesting treaty between the USA and Ukraine under which Ukraine is legally obligated to help the USA exactly in the matters discussed by Trump. Under this treaty very little sovereignty is reserved for Ukraine , if the USA wants to investigate something. So no pressure, or God forbid quid pro quo is needed at all. Ukraine is legally obligated to deliver the materials requested and/or open their own investigation to get those materials for the USA.

I think that not only you, but also other “Full of Schiff” people in this blog will have great difficulties in understanding this legal situation ;-).

Due to existence of this treaty, from a legal standpoint Trump behaved exactly as if he was asking Governor of NJ for help in investigation of Jon Corzine, or older Kushner for their misdeeds. So while ethically he was wrong, and it was politically suicidal to include Biden (who, being semi-senile is an ideal for Trump opponent on Dem side) along with legitimate request to provide information about Ukrainian action of CrowdStrike, and, especially, servers that were used for this (from which probably fake Russian attack on DNC originated)

That blunder allowed Dems plotters to launch a very successful counterattack on his attempt to get to the origins of Russiagate.

But legally he was on a pretty solid ground: below is the quote from Bill Clinton to the Senate on November 10, 1999 Treaty Document 106-16 -106th

https://www.congress.gov/treaty-document/106th-congress/16/document-text

:

” Mutual assistance available under the Treaty includes: taking of testimony or statements of persons; providing documents, records, and articles of evidence; serving documents; locating or identifying persons; transferring persons in custody for testimony or other purposes; executing requests for searches and seizures; assisting in proceedings related to restraint, confiscation, forfeiture of assets, restitution, and collection of fines; and any other form of assistance not prohibited by the laws of the requested state. ”

56

otto 11.01.19 at 9:28 am

Isn’t the actual cause of the “collapse” the Trump administration’s refusal to appoint new AB judges? not all these other issues?

And isn’t the cause for that the somewhat widespread US view (not limited to the Trump administration) that the AB has been engaging in ‘judicial activism’ on Anti-Dumping & Safeguards etc issues? i.e. restricting the GATT members options more than the treaties had specified.

Perhaps that aspect should be more part of the conversation here than Shrimp-Turtle etc. … ?

57

faustusnotes 11.01.19 at 10:53 am

Also interesting to watch the communists on here saying China’s class system is as rigid as the UK’s, so that they can defend a white fascist. Nice work boys!

58

nastywoman 11.01.19 at 11:11 am

BUT – getting back to the real topic of this thread and –

”Meanwhile, the United States, which had been the primary promoter of the worldwide rules-based WTO model, shifted its focus to one-on-one agreements unencumbered by rules, such as the Australia-US FTA, where it could take advantage of its superior bargaining power”.

and

”We’re entering a world with few rules…”

and

”To prepare for this likely outcome, the EU has set up structures that would allow it to retaliate against the US on a far larger scale than WTO rules would allow”.

Don’t you guys realise how YUUUGE the difference between the… may I call it ”philosophy” of the EU and TrumpsUS has become? One is a culture of co-operation and compromise – with an effort on helpful rules and regulations – while the other one is – indeed – like some crazy Clownstickel ”Wild West.”

59

Hidari 11.01.19 at 11:42 am

‘It will be seen that, as used, the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless. In conversation, of course, it is used even more wildly than in print. I have heard it applied to farmers, shopkeepers, Social Credit, corporal punishment, fox-hunting, bull-fighting, the 1922 Committee, the 1941 Committee, Kipling, Gandhi, Chiang Kai-Shek, homosexuality, Priestley’s broadcasts, Youth Hostels, astrology, women, dogs and I do not know what else….

In certain kinds of writing… it is normal to come across long passages which are almost completely lacking in meaning….. When one critic writes, ‘The outstanding feature of Mr. X’s work is its living quality’, while another writes, ‘The immediately striking thing about Mr. X’s work is its peculiar deadness’, the reader accepts this as a simple difference of opinion. If words like black and white were involved, instead of the jargon words dead and living, he would see at once that language was being used in an improper way. Many political words are similarly abused. The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies ‘something not desirable’….Other words used in variable meanings, in most cases more or less dishonestly, are: class, totalitarian, science, progressive, reactionary….’ (Orwell).

60

Lee A. Arnold 11.01.19 at 1:18 pm

Likbez #55: “…treaty between the USA and Ukraine…legally obligated to deliver the materials requested…legally [Trump] was on a pretty solid ground…”

Trump’s request was legally invalid under the terms of this treaty: See Article 2 section 2; Article 2 section 4; Article 4 section 1; Article 4 section 2 paragraphs (b) and (d).

In addition it is beginning to look like he withheld aid for months in a quid pro quo.

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nastywoman 11.01.19 at 1:40 pm

@52 – likbez
”I think that under the weight of those facts, the picture is more or less clear — this was a color revolution”.
and
@55
”I think that not only you, but also other “Full of Schiff” people in this blog will have great difficulties in understanding this legal situation ;-)”

You couldn’t be more… ”right” – and I take it ALL back –
You are definitely not – ”not a pro Russian Troll” and definitely not one of theses German Internet warriors who write: ”Alles is Scheisse”!

You write:“Full of Schiff” and then you quote – ”an old (1999) and a very interesting treaty between the USA and Ukraine under which Ukraine is legally obligated to help the USA exactly in the matters discussed by Trump. Under this treaty very little sovereignty is reserved for Ukraine , if the USA wants to investigate something. So no pressure, or God forbid quid pro quo is needed at all. Ukraine is legally obligated to deliver the materials requested and/or open their own investigation to get those materials for the USA”.

You are far more funnier than I am – and nearly as funny as this:

https://youtu.be/upBCQo5bkJc

62

nastywoman 11.01.19 at 2:03 pm

– and what’s really… strange? –
Each time I have mentioned all of these very definite and detailed differences between the EU and my homeland the US – not one of you guys reacted the way somebody like AOC or Bernie reacted by saying:

”WE want that too for our people”!
AND WHEN we finally will get it – nobody will talk about ”neolibs” or ”revolutions” anymore – and everybody will book his 6 to seven weeks of vacations for next year in Greece or Italy – or France or Spain – and then – celebrate there together with all kind of ”Dänen” and ”Deutschen” – die ”Erungenschaften der EU und der Sozialdemokratie!

63

Orange Watch 11.01.19 at 2:47 pm

fn@54:

You should consider the possiblity that Pelosi knew it was coming, and was holding off on impeachment until something marketable arose. But to do that you would have to accept that a) Pelosi is acting as a politician and not a corrupt gangster and b) most people in America are too conservative to want to impeach the president for something as “minor” as imprisoning and abandoning children.

There are more than a few problems with your exculpatory narrative. For starters, there is of course Nancy Smash’s flat declaration last fall that impeachment was off the table. You can try to spin that as Pelosi cannily holding out for the trump card she somehow knew was coming months before the underlying incident occurred because she’s playing 12th dimensional chess, but that’s completely undermined by her repeated and loud insistence that the proper way for Trump to be removed was for him to be voted out by the electorate in 2020. That’s not a master strategist keeping their cards close to their chest; that’s someone who doesn’t want to undertake impeachment under any circumstances poisoning that particular well. Her rhetoric was not the rhetoric of someone holding off for the right time to impeach, it was that of someone seeking to quash dissent in her party that rose unexpectedly and unwantedly when the party regained its majority by means of pols running on platforms to the left of what she wanted. If anyone is refusing to recognize that Pelosi is acting as a politician, it’s you: her actions are fixed on maintaining her faction’s control of the Democratic Party against the near enemy’s treacherous insurrection. Her acts are extremely in line with those of a politician, just not a good one: she’s risk-adverse and terrified of trying to lead public opinion rather than follow it, but simultaneously she’s resentful of dissent in the ranks from those who want to lead rather than follow. This is who she is, and has been for a very long time, and it’s quite typical of her generation. You’re a foreign spectator whose views of American politics are often a bit “off”, and an awful lot of that is because you don’t live here. America is consistently less conservative than conventional wisdom predicts it is (not least because national polls are mostly still tied to that noted bastion of staunch leftism, the vanishing and greying owners of landlines) – what makes this less actionable is precisely how disillusioned, jaded, and hammered into apathy most of the body politic is. Politicians like Pelosi who “know better than” the people who elect them are a major cause of this. Let’s not forget that Pelosi’s grand counterargument for the last year has been that the House majority was not elected to undertake futile, meaningless gestures like impeaching Trump when the Senate wouldn’t convict; the Democratic voters elected them to pass aspirational bills that the Senate wouldn’t pass and Trump wouldn’t sign. Let’s also not forget that she dismissed investigations as a distraction from that lofty goal… or that she said before the election last fall had even occurred that Democrats calling for investigations or impeachment were doing so for self-serving reasons. She doesn’t want to rock the boat; she wants Trump gone but with no risk she can be held accountable for any failure, nor with any damage done to the credibility of the Washington establishment. Or more succinctly, she wants to go back to business as usual.

likbez@52:

This theory appears unfalsifiable. Is there any action by the state that cannot be added to its litany of proof of nefarious intent? It also appears to pretend that only Western nations have security services. Is Russia a passive, isolationist nation with no agency whatsoever WRT foreign policy?

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steven t johnson 11.01.19 at 3:27 pm

Orange Watch@45 is a little confusing. If I prefer “conduct unbecoming a president” as an impeachment charge I’m not restricting impeachment to violations of criminal statutes. Hatemongering is not a criminal offense, but a political and moral one. I think the real objection is that I view insinuations Trump is treasonous as exactly the same rotten politics as insinuations Clinton was treasonous. Or that it is exactly as foolish to freak out over Russian interference in the 2016 election as Ukrainian interference, or vice versa, the only distinction being one is a Democratic bugbear and the other is a Republican.

likbez@48 is too flattering. I tend to cheat and only comment on stuff I actually know something about. A good memory and obsessive score keeping will produce some understanding of politics after thirty or forty years. Whether it’s senility or misplaced confidence is up to the reader.

But I will say the only sense I can make about “Anglo-Saxon” civilization being the greatest is one which includes not just the higher forms of bourgeois democracy, but science and technology. The problem for the first is neglecting the role of empire, being too narrowly national. But most of all, the notion that science and technology are even European, much less Anglo-Saxon, is wrong. Science and technology are human. American food crops, for just one conclusive example, were vital to any supposed “Anglo-Saxon” civilization that might pretend to be the peak…but American food crops, essential as they were, are not Anglo-Saxon achievements.

likbez@42 doesn’t realize that the legal course was for the US Justice Department to draw up a list of requirements of the sort specified in the treaty. The US embassy in Kyiv would then relay the request to their counterparts. If and only if the request was denied would there be any occasion for presidents to discuss the matter, and only then would such discussion be legally mandated. What Trump did was press Zelensky for a public announcement of an investigate, or worse, to rig and investigation. It is the equivalent of the CIA planting a libel in the foreign press so that it can be “reported” as legitimate news in the US. There are legal and ethical issues with the President directing underlings to begin investigations of his opponents in the domestic sphere. They don’t disappear abroad. I don’t think there’s any doubt, except for Trump’s lawyers, the call was a campaign violation.

Least, “Japan, Korea, China, Australia, NZ, and Germany, for example – don’t have a rigid class system and have benefited enormously from it.” That was the claim, it is preposterously large, vague and entails class systems identical in a key respect of all those countries.

Last, these OT comments are not truly OT. The WTO is being dismantled by Trumpian nonfeasance in pursuit of the deliberate rejection of the very idea of international institutions (of imperialism, as I see it, but others don’t,) standing above the national state, immunizing the market against the mistakes of democracy, providing the essential support to make a world market.

The OP says in the title this is arrogance, presumably as violating economic science. But all these seeming side issues are about political economy in the end. Trump wants to pretend the US has been exploited by the old system, and pose as a nationalist. I think he just wants to rationalize US empire, cutting costs, increasing ROI, etc.

I think Trump is getting support, primarily from the rich; also from middle strata, the kind of people who put FOX TV on in the waiting rooms of their businesses; aksi from lower strata led by Christianity to favor any oppressive government that will provide them support for their efforts to police society; also lower strata ethnic groups who have slowly been turning inwards to each other as they see a future dog-eat-dog country where the breeds of dogs have to stick together, or perish.

In short, what the OP sees as arrogant dismissal of science I see as desperation masked with bravado.

65

Orange Watch 11.01.19 at 3:34 pm

likbez@55:

That treaty does not say what you want it to say. Very pointedly, it does not allow requesting states to compel the requestee to pursue new investigations. It is a treaty that would allow the requestor to request specific assistance with ongoing domestic investigations, but even then it spells out a formal process requiring explicit assistance requests – and pointedly, at no point does it allow the requestor to compel public statements by the requestee’s executive that they are pursuing such actions. Indeed, as the treaty explicitly excludes private citizens from making requests and lists political offenses as a category of offense that the requestee can deny assistance in pursuing, it looks like that treaty if anything would undermine your claims. Is there a specific American investigation into Burisma into crimes under American law being undertaken by the American federal gov’t? If so, then the treaty (which is described as a standard LE assistance treaty, not some extrodinary document) requires the US openly request specific aid in writing. Again, there is nothing in that treaty allowing a requestor to compel the other party to initiate investigations – and there is no reason for standard LE assistance to be pursued through verbal communication by the hands-off, rips-up-papers-after-reading-them American President.

OTOH, if your claim that this is the authority under which Trump made a totally legitimate request… someone needs to file a FOIA request, because per Article 4 there’s a paper trail:

1. A request for assistance shall be in writing except that the Central Authority of the Requested State may accept a request in another form in urgent situations. If the request is not in writing it shall be confirmed in writing within ten days unless the Central Authority of the Requested State agrees otherwise. The request shall be in the language of the Requested State unless otherwise agreed.

2. The request shall include the following:
(a) the name of the authority conducting the investigation, prosecution, or proceeding to which the request relates;
(b) a description of the nature and subject matter of the investigation, prosecution, or proceeding, and the applicable provisions of law for each offence;
(c) a description of the evidence, information, or other assistance sought; and
(d) a statement of the purpose for which the evidence, information, or other assistance is sought.
[3. is roughly ‘to the extent necessary and possible, specific information/persons sought, and/or a description of exactly what is being sought, to possibly include specific questions to be answered’]

I would LOVE to see a formal description of this fishing expedition’s scope, purpose, and anticipated deliverables.

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Jim Harrison 11.01.19 at 5:28 pm

I note that Trump’s de facto defenders on this thread faithfully echo all the themes of the Russian propaganda of the last decade. including:

1. The color revolution was a coup orchestrated by fascists.
2. The EU is implacably hostile to Russia and supported the Ukrainians for this reason.
3. Ukraine isn’t a real country.
4. Many of its citizens are Russian speakers. (If you speak Russian, you want to live in Russia, just like Russian speakers in the Baltic states.)
5. The Crimea was always really Russian, and the treaty that guaranteed it remain a part of Ukraine was just a piece of paper.
6. A plebiscite held under Russian auspices went 99+% for independence! Obviously legitimate.
7. The occupation of several regions of Eastern Ukraine is a civil war. Those really aren’t Russian troops.

It’s really not surprising that a certain kind of leftist buys this nonsense. For them, you can never kill enough kulaks. I guess they’ve never forgiven the Whites. The martyrdom of Ukraine continues, cheered on by the leftist wing of the radical/reactionary popular front.

67

J-D 11.01.19 at 11:42 pm

Ben Bernanke, after his ‘helicopter money’ speech endorsing quantitative easing in 2002, was being wheeled into position by the powers that be to become Fed chairman

Citation needed.

And the reason for both “Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005” and Bernanke being wheeled into place was that the financial industry were preparing for the financial blowout, which they well aware was coming.

In other words, that bill was passed — with Biden’s very active assistance — specifically to ensure that for the vast mass of Americans there would be even less recourse and the crash would be even harder when it hit.

Citation needed.

Even this year people were still defending some of those “intellectuals” (even on this blog) as legitimate scholars

Citation needed.

68

faustusnotes 11.02.19 at 3:08 am

Hidari, replace the word “fascism” with “neoliberalism” in that Orwell quote and you might be onto something. You’re always so close, but slightly off …

Donald observes (about me):

it is not uncommon for people on the far left to criticize Sanders for voting for imperialist foreign policies, you are the only person I have ever seen use this as a defense of more mainstream Democrats who are far more hawkish than he is

So let me give you some reasons why this matters to me, not in any particular order.

1) Obama voted against the Iraq war but it doesn’t stop him being derided as a warmonger. Which leads to two obvious points: past voting is no indication of future performance, and what is it about Sanders that separates him from Obama on this in the eyes of his fanboys?
2) In the 2016 election we were constantly told by the US far “left” to ignore lesser-evil voting (it’s bad w were told) and to vote on ideological purity. But now the primary has rolled around, Sanders is struggling against a known hawk, and we’re suddenly told to ignore his past imperialism, and vote for the lesser evil. Why should I do now what I was constrained from doing in 2016? What is special about Sanders?
3) Most supporters of Sanders believe that a) the 1994 crime bill increased incarceration rates and b) the Iraq sanctions killed 1/2 a million children. Sanders voted for both of these. That makes him a monster to these people, but they claim he is the best person to decarcerate America and end foreign interventions. What kind of left wing logic is this?
4) Sanders has not got any kind of critique of American imperialism, he just happened to vote against the dumbest and most self-destructive of the recent adventures. He’s an imperialist through and through. If I have to pick between Imperialists, why should I choose the incompetent one who’s going to have a heart attack in the first year of the job?

How’s that for starters?

I’ve no doubt my view of American politics is a bit “off”, because I view it through the lens most of the rest of the world views it: as someone watching an angry child holding a gun, and hoping to negotiate it down so it doesn’t kill any of us. We in the rest of the world need the most achievable way of getting you to stop screwing up the world, and that doesn’t demand moral purity – it demands a proper understanding of American imperialism. For example, most Asian government support the WTO because it constrains American and European trade power. A billion communist were lifted out of poverty by an economic policy that relied on WTO support. But American leftists hate the WTO, because it benefits non-American workers, and because American leftists don’t have a solid understanding of (or even criticism of) American imperialism. So for Asia, we need America to be ruled by sensible politicians who support the WTO, the UN, UNAIDS, WHO, etc.

The best thing for the rest of the world is America retreats from its imperialism in a way that doesn’t damage the countries it is currently occupying, and doesn’t give too much space for the EU, China or Russia to become a new behemoth. China is a good global citizen when it is constrained by the international order, as is the EU. Russia, a petro-gangster state, wants those systems dismantled so it can do its dirty work in its client states. We need the US left to take responsibility for America’s retreat and the preservation of that order, while also finally taking responsibility for America’s role in climate change.

What we don’t need is a show pony who doesn’t understand or care about American imperialism, who wants to restore the golden glow of American industry at the expense of poor workers in Africa or Asia, and who is too incompetent to get anything done.

And what we also need is for teh American far left to grow up and stop being Russia’s useful idiots. Read some theory, recognize that your interests are not our interests, sit down, shut up and listen to the rest of the world for once.

69

nastywoman 11.02.19 at 10:18 am

AND @steven t johnson
-(and likbez alike)
a very serious MUST – to read and watch – from the NYT comment section:

ARV’s
montanaNov. 1

…I fear we have become obsessed with all that we can’t do as a nation, rather than what we can and should do for the benefit of all Americans…

I suggest everyone take a look at the short (4 min.) video the NY Times had up a day or two ago, looking at America from the outside. It may be an eye opener for those who don’t believe we can afford healthcare, higher education, parental leave, and other social benefits that would make us stronger as a nation.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/28/opinion/europeans-view-americans.html
Reply70 RecommendShare

70

Hidari 11.02.19 at 6:02 pm

‘It’s really not surprising that a certain kind of leftist buys this nonsense. For them, you can never kill enough kulaks. I guess they’ve never forgiven the Whites.’

And there goes the feline, screeching out of the bag. The Decent Left, it seems, Zombie like, will stalk our post-apocalyptic hellscape for evermore, in an endless quest for brains, something they are definitely short of.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pro-war_Left

71

Orange Watch 11.02.19 at 7:25 pm

fn@68:

If I have to pick between Imperialists, why should I choose the incompetent one who’s going to have a heart attack in the first year of the job?
[…]
We in the rest of the world need the most achievable way of getting you to stop screwing up the world, and that doesn’t demand moral purity – it demands a proper understanding of American imperialism.
[…]
The best thing for the rest of the world is America retreats from its imperialism in a way that doesn’t damage the countries it is currently occupying, and doesn’t give too much space for the EU, China or Russia to become a new behemoth.

This is thoroughly incoherent. You’re arguing for consistent interventionist American imperialism but also arguing that American imperialism needs to be drawn down? I hate to break it to you, but arguing for the likes of Clinton and Obama foreign policy is not arguing for a sensible, careful drawing-down of American imperialism. It’s arguing for another “American Century”, to use some unpleasant old language that historically went over very well with polite, well-mannered rich American liberal hawks. You’re arguing for multilateral American imperialism – American-directed imperialism with European buy-in and support.

You’re also bizarrely endorsing greater-evilism. I’m not sure who you would think you could convince by saying “Look! This pol who isn’t as bad in terms of the dumb things you claim to care about isn’t perfect! Therefore, you should embrace someone who is far worse by those measures – someone who is not only complicit in doing so-called “bad things”, but who actively does them with great proficiency (and that all-important multilateral buy-in) while rationalizing them as inevitable or even desirable!”

The core problem with your framing is that comfortable, privileged liberals prioritize well-ordered financial institutions over the lives of brown peasants in the global south (or for that matter, any laborers anywhere), so it’s inconceivable for them to weigh hawkish of foreign policy anywhere near as heavily in calculations of lesser-evilism as compared to keeping the planes running on time. But of course, they’re merely trying to ensure an equitable multipolar world order, and it’s pure coincidence that only by preserving the existing financial and social hierarchies they benefit from that this can be achieved…

72

steven t johnson 11.02.19 at 7:56 pm

Happily this is finishing…
faustusnotes thinks the WTO lifted a billion communists out of poverty but I wonder how the blessings of democracy, capitalism *and* the WTO hasn’t had quite the same results in India. I think the WTO is an agency of imperialism a fanciful consortium of gangsters peaceably dividing the loot. Or to put it another way, when Kautsky dreamed of ultraimperialism, things like the WTO (and the IMF and the World Bank and the EU Central Bank and the Fed) are the waking nightmare.

Jim Harrison@66 solidarizes with these people: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/10/30/ukra-o30.html Note the symbol of Jim Harrison’s morals at the rear of the stage.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/ukrainian-pm-minister-attended-neo-nazi-concert-in-kyiv/ This one was added as a mere photo from an unacceptable source can carry no weight.

https://www.haaretz.com/world-news/europe/.premium-the-upcoming-neo-nazi-concert-in-ukraine-that-no-one-is-talking-about-1.7391007 The reason no one talks is that this has been the case for years, since Andriy Parubiy once of a Social National party, was more or less security chief of Maidan. (Or maybe it was Right Sector, it’s easy to get confused.)

I am entirely unrepentant, if not outright flattered by Jim Harrison’s scorn.

73

J-D 11.03.19 at 12:18 am

4. Many of its citizens are Russian speakers. (If you speak Russian, you want to live in Russia, just like Russian speakers in the Baltic states.)

Doing some background research out of curiosity, I discovered something interesting. Wikipedia reports these figures from the 2001 Ukrainian census: 77.8% of the population identify themselves as Ukrainians and 17.3% as Russians; 67.5% of the population declared Ukrainian as their native language and 29.6% Russian (I would consider that, in context, to be ‘many’ Ukrainian citizens, but that’s not my main point). So it seems that there may be about 10% of the Ukrainian population who identify as Ukrainian rather than Russian even though they declare themselves as native speakers of Russian rather than Ukrainian.

I should add that even being a Russian-speaker who identifies as Russian doesn’t automatically make a person a supporter of Russian irredentism. There’s a significant fraction of the population of Finland who identify as Swedish and have Swedish as their native language, but that doesn’t make them supporters of Swedish irredentism; as far as I know (admittedly I don’t know much) they are as accepting of the Finnish state as their Finnish-speaking ethnically Finnish compatriots.

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Anarcissie 11.03.19 at 3:00 am

For me, this has been quite an unusual discussion (for the venue). Usually, you all seem to be posting from same planet, at least. Yet in spite of this assemblage of varied perspectives, it seems to me something important has been mostly overlooked, (except obliquely by Mr. Lenin) and that is the mysterious decline of the American ruling class, which has allowed serious factional struggles within it to break out into the open. And this is in a period of at least illusory peace and prosperity. I doubt if having the wrong ideology (in this case, ‘neoliberalism’) can explain it, because all ideologies are wrong. That’s nothing new.

75

likbez 11.03.19 at 4:15 am

steven t johnson 11.01.19 at 3:27 pm

likbez@42 doesn’t realize that the legal course was for the US Justice Department to draw up a list of requirements of the sort specified in the treaty. The US embassy in Kyiv would then relay the request to their counterparts. If and only if the request was denied would there be any occasion for presidents to discuss the matter, and only then would such discussion be legally mandated. What Trump did was press Zelensky for a public announcement of an investigate, or worse, to rig and investigation.

I respectfully disagree. Road to hell is always paved with good intentions. How you can do it, if you know that Kiev embassy is controlled by Obama/Brennan plotters including the ambassador, and the CIA controls Ukrainian security services? Speaking directly to president about Crowdstike was the only way to move this investigation forward. Inclusion of Biden was a huge, suicidal political blunder, for which Trump now is paying a price. “Full of Schiff” commenters here emphasize it, and conveniently forget to mention Crowdstrike part and “Manafort dirt” part of the “Ukrainian influence on 2016 elections” story. Which are far more important.

It looks to me as if somebody within Trump administration wanted to sabotage the whole thing. He should have been staying strictly on Russiagate investigation topic (which is a criminal investigation now, if I understand the situation correctly), but being Trump he can’t (Rick Perry was probably a contributing factor in this stupidity). As the result it served as a pretext for the counterattack on his Russiagate origins investigation by Obama/Brennan faction.

But there is a silver lining in any dark cloud. If Ukrainegate is the new Russiagate then the ‘whistleblower complaint’ is surprisingly similar to the ‘former’ MI6 spy Christopher Steele ‘dirty dossier’. It has a lot of problems. First of all Obama/Brennan faction have chosen the issue, Ukraine, where they themselves have a lot of skeletons in the closet. The choice of a CIA officer as a whistleblower and his complaint as the cornerstone of the impeachment was especially dumb: the word “CIA” is a dog whistle for Trump electorate. It also puts Brennan and Obama in undesirable spotlight.

And this process or digging out neoliberal Dems and CIA machinations already started: Schiff already flip-flopped over requesting the ‘whistleblower’ to testify after it was reported that two members of his staff, who knew Ciaramella from working with him at the Obama National Security Council, had advised him.

Now this process is starting to create more and more collateral damage for neoliberal Dems, as Schiff will not be able to fully block republican efforts to bring witnesses. But it will not hurt Trump with his electorate. And it will not end with impeachment.

I believe, like Noam Chomsky, that it will, in the end, help Trump and might put Warren (forget about Biden) in disadvantage: the noise for impeachment will deafen all her proposals and will convert 2020 election into another show. And Trump is much better showmen then she.

That is the point that “full of Schiff” commenters, in their excitement about the new opportunity to unseat Trump, are unable to comprehend.

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likbez 11.03.19 at 5:41 am

likbez 11.03.19 at 4:15 am

The choice of a CIA officer as a whistleblower and his complaint as the cornerstone of the impeachment was especially dumb: the word “CIA” is a dog whistle for Trump electorate. It also puts Brennan and Obama in undesirable spotlight.

And this process or digging out neoliberal Dems and CIA machinations already started

The gateway pundit just asked, if Ciaramella is the “Charlie” referred to in Strzok and Page emails. This Charlie was the FBI spy in the Whitehouse. If so, neoliberal Dems might have a problem.

77

likbez 11.03.19 at 6:17 am

Jim Harrison 11.01.19 at 5:28 pm

I like your good old “Russians under each bed” mentality. It so refreshing to see McCarthyism meme has such a staying power and is not fading when we discuss political issues in this blog ;-)

Questions for you:

1. Is still Ciaramella still whistleblower (a whistleblower reports problems in his own agency(CIA), not another one), or a rogue CIA political operative, and as such is now yet another subject of Barr criminal investigation into Russiagate origins?

2. Did Obama sought to induce the government of Ukraine to become involved in the 2016 presidential election? Was Ukraine given military gear in exchange for dirt on Hillary’s election opponent ?

3. What else they are hiding about Obama/Brenan/Biden actions in Ukraine?

4. What is the level of probability that additional Obama/Brennan Russiagate dirty tricks be exposed in Flynn trial, which continues to produce details of entrapment, manipulation, perjury, and prosecutorial misconduct?

5. Will the blowback for Ukrainegate CIA operation be that polarization spearheaded by Russiagate increases and as the result much less Americans feel a shared sense of national identity ? (see https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2019/11/impeachment-democrats-republicans-polarization/601264/)

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arcseconds 11.03.19 at 6:26 am

John,

It’s an interesting summary of the history of the WTO.

One might think that given that the organistion is undemocratic, disdainful of anything that interferes with trade (including environmental and ethical principles), full of hubris, and rather unpopular, that its demise would be a good thing. Is it a fair summary of your position that you agree with those criticisms and agree that they are flaws, but a flawed WTO is better than a dog-eat-dog international trading environment?

(You may think that your position is obvious, but I find I’m having to guess, and I’d prefer not to… the article could with minor wording changes (e.g. ‘optimism’ for ‘hubris’) have been written by a neoliberal who regrets the fact that the public failed to get with the programme, and even as it stands could almost be written by a neoliberal who recognises ‘mistakes were made’)

Do you have any insight on how these kinds of institutions which in some sense do govern the world in particular areas could avoid charges of being undemocratic, technocratic affairs?

79

arcseconds 11.03.19 at 6:52 am

@Orange Watch,

I’m confused by your attitude towards Pelosi. On the one hand you recognise she is a politician considering whether to employ a process you recognise as political, i.e. impeachment.

You also (I presume correctly) seem to recognise the calculation as a political one, e.g. if starting impeachment proceedings will achieve nothing and just detract from the campaign for the general election, it would be better (politically speaking) to not start them.

But you’re very disappointed, if not angry, that in her reckoning it wasn’t worth proceeding with impeachment up until recently, when (I take it this is obvious) the situation changed markedly. This dispite the fact that the polling changed with the situation: even the release of the Mueller report only put a small and temporary dent in the majority not in favour of impeachment, whereas now a plurality hovering around the majority mark favour it.

With your statements about lack of leadership, and mention of disaffected people not appearing in polls, I presume your position is that Pelosi and other democratic leaders could have made it politically viable despite the lack of support for the proposition in the general public (at least as recorded by polls) by ‘leading’ and drawing in the disaffected? And that this should have been obvious to Pelosi?

If so, I wonder what makes you so certain about that, because it seems to require being sure about the responses of people who according to you we have little information about.

80

likbez 11.03.19 at 1:16 pm

arcseconds 11.03.19 at 6:52 am @79

But you’re very disappointed, if not angry, that in her reckoning it wasn’t worth proceeding with impeachment up until recently, when (I take it this is obvious) the situation changed markedly.

Situation might changed markedly (and probably not in neoliberal Dems favour), but Pelosi did not. Only under extreme pressure from “NeverTrumpers” she made this “Hail Mary” pass. And in a very clumsy fashion. Rephrasing Churchill :

“We shall compromise on the beaches, we shall compromise on the landing grounds, we shall compromise on the field and in the streets, we shall compromise in the hills, and we will see if complete surrendering to financial oligarchy makes sense long-term.”

81

Donald 11.03.19 at 5:47 pm

Faustusnotes—

Sanders is obviously the lesser evil of any Democratic nominee on the subject of imperialism. It isn’t just his refusal to vote for the Iraq War. He is also the furthest left on Israel- Palestine though he had to be dragged there. But he was far left on that subject by US standards by 2016. He has also been a leader in campaigning against the war on Yemen.

I’m repeating myself, but your view on this subject is, in my experience at least, unique to you. One can find a lot of leftist anti – imperialists either lumping Sanders in with the other Democrats ( because, for instance, he doesn’t support BDS) or supporting him while recognizing he still needs to be pressured, but nobody else sees this as a reason to support people who are well to his right.

I suppose if one looks hard enough you can find people with almost any combination of views. Nothing wrong with that necessarily. But in this case I think you are wrong.

82

nastywoman 11.03.19 at 6:34 pm

@80
Uhhhh – likbez – with a ”Churchill Quote”!

And as my godfather -(who sadly died a while ago) loved – absolutely LOVED Chruchill Quotes – let me quote what he told me before he died:

”Keep on fighting the Clownstick – Kleines – just as Churchill said:
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” …
AND
“If you are going through hell, keep going.”

83

Lee A. Arnold 11.03.19 at 7:19 pm

I think Pelosi supposed, all along, that Trump might be impeached. But impeachment inquiries have been long processes and there was no need to say the “i” word until Mueller was finished. Everyone had to wait to see the work in the Mueller Report (April) and then hear Mueller’s public testimony (July). There are five or more actionable counts of criminal obstruction, and it also stated that there might be a charge of criminal conspiracy (with Russia) if all of the evidence were seen. The report also directly indicated impeachment.

Still, there weren’t enough House Dems from swing districts on board, to carry an impeachment resolution. So then, what to do? The answer: a month after Mueller’s testimony, House Intelligence and House Judiciary started inquiries (and occasionally called them impeachment inquiries) on various aspects, which were likely to go on for a long time, perhaps through the 2020 election. These inquiries might have admitted evidence which the Mueller Report knew but could not print, due to Justice Dept. policies and counterintelligence rules.

Then the Ukraine whistleblower story broke in September, confirming the general prediction made when Mattis was fired last December that because Trump had gotten rid of his last babysitter, he was bound to do something really, really stupid. (As if to further confirm the prediction, he betrayed the Syrian Kurds in October, reminding the Senate GOP once again that he is out of control and must be removed.) House Intelligence (Schiff) refocused onto the Ukraine story, and quickly interviewed over a dozen officials from the Administration resulting in testimony that this story goes back for months. The full testimony is supposed be released publicly after redactions of classified information. But the hints were enough to bring the Dems from swing districts on board, and so the House voted formally for the impeachment inquiry last Thursday.

Next question is, how long will this go on? I used to think that Pelosi would want it wrapped up by next spring, before the campaign season really heats up. But she must know that this has started a process which cannot easily be scheduled. Court rulings promise access to witnesses and documents that may suggest new avenues for investigation. In addition, the inquiry rules state that the minority party (the Republicans) can call witnesses, subject to a majority override (this rule is consonant with previous impeachments). This is to prevent the Freedom Caucus from calling every half-witted conspiracy theorist from the internet to bog down the proceedings. But the Republicans surely have the right to take their complaints and try their case in the press. If the inquiries don’t appear fair then the Dems have more work to do.

And then there’s the question of what happens after the impeachment vote to send the charges to the Senate for trial. This again will be public, and probably not short.

So then the question is, if this goes on through the election, will that be a disaster? It may depend on what evidence comes out.

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faustusnotes 11.04.19 at 5:39 am

Yes it’s very clear that Pelosi was waiting last year for more Dem congresspeople to switch to her point of view, and to build up public evidence so that it was harder for the Republicans to resist in the senate without suffering political damage. It’s also clear that the strategy of denying it was planned is intended to placate claims she is trying to launch a coup (not that that will work on fascist sympathizers like likbez). Also, the later the impeachment trial starts, the more likely it is to overshadow the election. These are political calculations.

steven t johnson, I did not say I think “the WTO lifted a billion communists out of poverty”, I wrote that “A billion communist were lifted out of poverty by an economic policy that relied on WTO support”. I really do think that you have a reading comprehension problem, because you consistently misread my comments for simpler comments that match your prejudices. It’s clear that I’m referencing here China’s economic growth strategy of the 1990s, which relied on expanding industrial exports in order to generate modern heavy and high tech industry, and this strategy depended on being admitted to the WTO as a developing nation, to gain the benefits of trade.

I think you know that this is the point I am making, because every “far left” American on here has decried the “neoliberal” decision to admit China to the WTO that led to the devastation of US heavy industry. So maybe it’s a reading comprehension problem or maybe it’s just a bad faith reading.

Orange Watch implies I’m arguing for

consistent interventionist American imperialism but also arguing that American imperialism needs to be drawn down?

This is not what I’m arguing for at all. I’m suggesting that the US needs to withdraw its imperialist forces and interventions in a way that is responsible, but without destroying its own economy (through e.g. trade wars) and international credibility (through e.g. this current Ukraine bullshit) so that once it has withdrawn its global imperialist forces it at least retains enough credibility globally to offer a counterbalance to China and the EU. While I think China is currently a much better-behaved global citizen than the USA, it won’t stay that way if it has no geopolitical counterbalancing forces. A tri-polar world with a non-imperialist USA, trade- and diplomacy-focused China and stable EU is a good way forward, especially for the poorer countries in Africa and Asia.

But the far left on here want to see a different situation, in which all the international agreements that contain US power are trashed, the UK leaves the EU so that the EU is a weaker counterbalancing power, the UK becomes a rogue nuclear power on the edge of Europe (and a playground for rich oligarchs), and the international trade and diplomatic environment are dominated entirely by might makes right. All these outcomes would of course benefit the fascist right in America and their corporate enablers, but I’m supposed to somehow believe that these far left commenters want what’s best for the world? No, you’re just patsies for the US fascist right.

Orange Watch, you consistently fail to consider the effect of US politics on non-US people. You obviously don’t care about anyone outside the USA, or about the effect of US politics on the global environment. This is the worst embodiment of post-war protectionist left wing isolationism, and it is an incredibly selfish, destructive and now globally dangerous politics. You need to stop caring about the domestic benefits of your revanchist, failed far left politics and adopt a true internationalist perspective, which is pragmatic and focused on the two most essential goals of the 21st century: rolling back the power and influence of the empire at the heart of which you sit, and fighting global warming.

85

likbez 11.04.19 at 7:03 am

Lee A. Arnold 11.03.19 at 7:19 pm

Then the Ukraine whistleblower story broke in September

The problem here is that the person in question does not fit well the definition of “whistleblower” unless you want to change the meaning of this word.

A more plausible hypothesis is that Ciaramella (if it was he) was a Brennan spy in the West Wing, which former key FBI Russaigaters Peter Strzok and Lisa Page named “Charlie”.

And now evidence emerges that “former CIA Director John Brennan reportedly created and staffed a CIA Task Force in early 2016 that was named, Trump Task Force, and given the mission of spying on and carrying out covert actions against the campaign of candidate Donald Trump.” https://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2019/11/growing-indicators-of-brennans-cia-trump-task-force-by-larry-c-johnson.html#comments

If Ciaramella was a “Confidential Informant” (CI) in no way he can be called whistleblower, because it was his responsibility to produce regular reports about Trump administration actions and intentions for FBI, CIA or both. And that makes him and his handlers subjects to criminal investigation.

So then the question is, if this goes on through the election, will that be a disaster? It may depend on what evidence comes out.

IMHO the intention is to drag it till the elections in order to repeat the success of the influence of Mueller investigation on the 2018 elections results. Kind of “Hail Mary” pass by Pelosi. Right now even Sanders has diminished chances against Trump due, unfortunately, to his health problems (to say nothing about the fact that DNC would prefer Trump to Sanders any day ;-).

But please understand that the real game will start only after the Senate will open the trial. So the last thing Pelosi wants is to get this case on the Senate floor. At this point Senate Republicans can wipe the floor with Schiff, Nancy Pelosi, and company with impunity as long as they wish: they can call any witnesses and request any material they want, using help from their House colleagues, especially Nunes, who proved to be a pretty capable politician, much superior caliber then Schiff (who is the victim of nepotism, so to speak ;-) . Tables will be instantly turned.

They can also destroy Brennan, Marie Yovanovitch (who can be criminally prosecuted for informing Ukrainians that they do not need to deal with Trump, just wait until impeachment) , Taylor, Vindman (who can be court marshaled) and other initiators of Ukrainegate.

The question only is whether they want to do it or not, because most Republicans do not like Trump.

Warren chances in the atmosphere of impeachment hysteria are not looking good (and the fact the she jumped into Ukrainegate bandwagon proves that she is a weak politician.)

First of all, unhinged Trump is dangerous. Not only he is a much better showman, he is a master of playing a victim. He will try to rally voters around the flag and make his failures less significant for his core electorate (some faction of which, for example anti-war Republicans, and a part of blue-collar workers might not vote at all).

In other words, this impeachment game (and it is a dirty game) may play for Trump the same role that Iraq war played for Bush II: people understood that this reformed alcoholic is a miserable failure, but voted for him anyway out of patriotism.

Likewise, many independents who were ready to defect Trump may hold their nose and vote for Trump because they despise neoliberal Dems dirty games more then they despise Trump. Kind of perverted version of LEV (lessee evil voting :-)

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Lee A. Arnold 11.04.19 at 1:10 pm

Likbez #85: “The problem here…”

I just used “whistleblower” because that is the most common term used for this person in the current media stories. Your basic underlying theory (as I understand it) is that this is all a continuation of a “Russian conspiracy” hoax that was launched against Trump in 2016.

“The problem here” is: We have to believe that a rather large contingent in FBI, CIA and other intel agencies hated Trump enough to want to stop him by covert means.

So the next question is, WHY did they hate Trump at that time?

Here, the reasoning that is given by the explainers gets murkier: He was going to upset Washington by draining the swamp, by withdrawing the troops, by whatever. But first: nobody in Washington really believed that stuff, and second: even if it happened, it wouldn’t hurt their jobs at all.

A more plausible hypothesis is that they freaked-out because Trump had contacts with Russian mobsters for decades, and US intel believes Putin may have kompromat on him, and now a number of shady characters related to Russia were attaching themselves to his campaign. Under this explanation of Russiagate, the Steele dossier (which may be half-true; it’s just raw intelligence) did not occasion the FISA warrants, nor was it a big part of them. (The warrants are heavily redacted, so it’s likely there is a LOT of supporting intelligence.)

So: Is it all a hoax, or is there something to it? We may find out which explanation looks better in the impeachment and trial.

To which, you write, “…the last thing Pelosi wants is to get this case on the Senate floor.” No, that is the first thing she wants. It is the assumed outcome when an impeachment is started. Making political calculations that this is merely meant to damage Trump’s election chances in the meantime would be a very unsure and stupid goal, a mug’s game. Further, Pelosi must already assume that Trump and his GOP backers will try to prove that Russiagate is a hoax. Also, the Speaker is a member of the Gang of 8 (by the way, at least two Republicans in the Senate probably already know who the “whistleblower” is). All of this suggests that, because she okayed impeachment, Russiagate is NOT a hoax.

87

Hidari 11.04.19 at 2:55 pm

I’m not going to comment on #Ukrainegate because it’s very obviously another gigantic waste of time that is going nowhere, like #Russiagate. All I will point out is that to get engaged in this ‘debate’ you have to think that the US (or to be more precise, Donald Trump) giving weapons (i.e. guns…you know…guns to kill people) to Ukrainians is a good idea.

Remember that the Democrats main objection to this is that Trump didn’t get the guns to the Ukrainians* quickly enough.

Think about this and then reflect on whether the current drive to impeachment is likely to empower progressives in the US, or whether it is not.

Chomsky has, as one might expect, some choice words on this.

‘First notice something, they (i.e. the Democrats) are going after Trump not on his major crimes but because he went after a leading Democrat. Does that remind you of anything? Yes. Watergate. They didn’t go after Nixon on his major crimes. They were off the record. It was because he had attacked the Democratic party….

Is it politically wise? I frankly doubt it. I think it’ll turn out pretty much like the Mueller report, which, that I thought was also a political mistake. What’ll happen is probably the House will impeach, goes to the Senate. The Republican senators are utterly craven. They’re terrified of Trump’s voting base. So they’ll vote to turn down the impeachment request. Trump will come along, say I’m vindicated. Say it was the Deep State and the treacherous Dems trying to overturn the election. Oh, vote for me.’

https://theintercept.com/2019/10/31/deconstructed-special-the-noam-chomsky-interview/

*Ukrainians in a Ukrainian state that was, within very recent memory, plausibly accused of being basically a Nazi regime with a very thin ‘democratic’ cover.

88

alfredlordbleep 11.04.19 at 3:09 pm

Big picture stuff:
faustus: http://crookedtimber.org/2019/10/27/arrogance-destroyed-the-world-trade-organisation/#comment-768643
. . . the two most essential goals of the 21st century: rolling back the power and influence of the empire at the heart of which you sit, and fighting global warming.

Here I go with Chomsky, not too “far left” I hope for this gang, and substitute the more focussed >securing the world against accidental exchange of H-bombs< for the first stated goal. (Of course, staying with the second goal)

89

likbez 11.04.19 at 4:28 pm

Lee A. Arnold 11.04.19 at 1:10 pm

A more plausible hypothesis is that they freaked-out because Trump had contacts with Russian mobsters for decades

Russian mobsters are a part on NYC underground, so no real estate developer can avoid contacts with them. Trump gave one interesting interview where he essentially pit himself against NYC mafia. But he probably used their money to survive after 2007.

Ethnically many high level Russian mobsters like Semion Mogilevich are Jewish and have close contacts with NY organized crime which also has prominent elements of this ethnic group (Kosher Nostra). Jewish and Italian crime groups became increasingly interconnected in the 1920s and 1930s (Meyer Lansky.) Trump also has rather close ties with orthodox Jewish community, including Chabad-Lubavitch sect which has a long history of various criminal activities (see, for example, https://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/2008-05-12-iowa-immigration_N.htm ).

But mafia is intelligence agencies natural habitat. Using mafia for their operations is what intelligence agencies do. So to assume that “they freaked-out” is pretty naïve. Remember Jack Ruby (Jacob Leon Rubenstein)? Or Felix Sater ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felix_Sater ) ?

90

likbez 11.04.19 at 5:13 pm

Lee A. Arnold 11.04.19 at 1:10 pm

So the next question is, WHY did they hate Trump at that time?

That’s the key question and I do not have an answer to it.

Even if we assume that intelligence agencies are in a certain sense an extension and the enforcement arm of Wall Street (starting from Allen Dulles) and are interested in the continuation of Clinton neoliberal policies and the imperial overstretch (no détente with Russia), I do not see why Trump should create such an animosity. He proved to be pretty malleable. And taking into account neocons firm grip on the US foreign policy (the State Department is a real neocon vipers nest) Trump does not matter much.

Also strange is such a rabid anti Russian hysteria in view that the real problem for the USA is not Russia, but economic power of China, and détente with Russia might be a viable option for the USA to contain China.

See, for example, https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-coming-american-russian-alliance-against-china/ Some comments are pretty interesting:

Ed says: July 16, 2018 at 7:35 pm

This is Bismarck. Convince the Russians that they are your ally so that they don’t ally with the other power. For Bismarck it was France. For us it is China.
… … …

and

Clyde Schechter says: July 16, 2018 at 9:16 pm

Right now, the biggest rogue nation in the world is the United States, which is due a pretty major comeuppance. It makes a lot of sense for Russia and China to join forces (economically, and perhaps militarily) to oppose our influence and cut us down to size.

If the Europeans ever get their act together they’ll also realize that they’d be better off dismantling NATO and allying with Russia and China, though they still seem to operate primarily on nostaliga for the post WWII era when America actually acted like an ally, not an empire.

But perhaps a few more meetings with Trump will disabuse them of that since he seems to have no inclination to try to disguise the bullying that we have been giving the Europeans and the rest of the world ever since the Iron Curtain fell.

If that happens, the US empire will be finished. The economic consequences here may well be devastating: if the rest of the world is no longer hungry for dollars we might actually have to either pay off our foreign-held debt in real goods and services or monetize it, perhaps even on very short notice. Either way will be chaos.

If we were smart, we would start to dismantle our empire now and try to rejoin the world on peaceful terms. But with the neocons having a grip on foreign policy in both parties, I don’t see that happening in the foreseeable future.

An alliance of the EU with Russia and China could easily eat our breakfast, lunch and dinner. And if we keep up our current global bullying, they will relish the chance to do so.

91

likbez 11.05.19 at 1:14 am

likbez 11.04.19 at 5:13 pm @90

Lee A. Arnold 11.04.19 at 1:10 pm

So the next question is, WHY did they hate Trump at that time?

That’s the key question and I do not have an answer to it.

One, not very convincing hypothesis that tries to explain this strange situation was proposed by Prof. Harry Targ:
https://mronline.org/2019/10/23/united-states-foreign-policy-yesterday-today-and-tomorrow/

The dispute was not over whether the United States should continue to pursue empire but rather how to continue to achieve it. The debates were occasioned by the rise of the countries of the Global South, the societally wrenching experience of the Vietnam War, the growth of power and influence of the former Soviet Union, and since its collapse, the emergence of China as a new global economic, political and military power. In addition, the new international economy was becoming more global, that is to say more interconnected. Debates about strategy, tactics, surfaced between the neoliberal globalists who emphasized so-called free trade, financial speculation, and the promotion of a neoliberal agenda that advocated for the privatization of all public activities by states and the development of austerity policies that would shift wealth from the many to the few. The international debt system would be the vehicle for pressuring poor and rich countries to transform their own economic agendas. This faction dominated United States foreign policy making for generations, particularly from Reagan to Clinton to Obama. In political/military terms, they have sought to push back challengers to neoliberal capitalism: Russia, China, populist Latin American countries, and they have advocated advancing US economic interests in Asia and Africa. Many of the institutions of the neoliberal globalists, sometimes called the “deep state” include the CIA, NSA, and other security agencies.

In the analysis of Prof. Targ article in https://dissidentvoice.org/2019/11/the-empire-trump-and-intra-ruling-class-conflict/ they characterize Trump faction of the US elite the following way:

On the other hand, as Targ explains, are the Trumpian, “America First” nationalist capitalists. This faction of the ruling class, while also supporting global dominance and a permanent war economy (military-related spending will consume 48 percent of the 2020 federal budget) favors trade restrictions, economic nationalism, building walls and anti-immigrant policies.

Although Trump is inconsistent, bumbling and sometimes contradictory, he’s departed from the neocon’s agenda by making overtures to North Korea and Russia, voicing doubts about NATO as an expensive relic from the past that is being dangerously misused outside of Europe, not being afraid to speak bluntly to EU allies, frequently mentioning ending our “endless, ridiculous and costly wars,” asserting that the U.S. is badly overextended and saying “The job of our military is not to police the world.”

I would add that Trump is also an “American exceptionalist” but ascribes a very different provincial meaning to the term, something closer to a crabbed provincialism, an insular “Shining City on a Hill,” surrounded by a moat.

92

arcseconds 11.05.19 at 8:11 am

@ Hidari #87:

All I will point out is that to get engaged in this ‘debate’ you have to think that the US (or to be more precise, Donald Trump) giving weapons (i.e. guns…you know…guns to kill people) to Ukrainians is a good idea.

No, you don’t. It’s both psychologically possible and not at all inconsistent to object to a general strategy, and to object how the strategy is being used for personal gain.

One advantage of doing so is that it allows you to appeal to people who agree with the general strategy, but don’t agree with it being used for personal gain.

93

nastywoman 11.05.19 at 8:12 am

@every comment form nikbiz-
so somebody on the Internet believes that a Corrupt Criminal Moron – who made very clear that he is not ”a politician” and very stupid – is doing some ”political strategic stuff”?

That’s what I’m always sayen – so it is not ”arrogance” which destroyed the WTO it’s just stupidity and old fashion corruption?

Right?

And everything has become ”Pizzagate” – where the Mafia has changed ”strategy” – and sells everybody in the World bad Olive Oil?

94

arcseconds 11.05.19 at 8:31 am

@libkez #80:

A good politician should of course be sensitive to both public opinion and to potential allies, so of course Pelosi should take into account Republicans who might want to nail Trump. If there were enough of those in the Senate, he might even get removed from office!

However, you seem to be suggesting that Pelosi is not moved by public opinion, but only by… nagging from her political enemies? What an odd set of motivations to ascribe to a politician… still, at least the complaint can’t be that she is acting like a typical politician!

95

Lee A. Arnold 11.05.19 at 1:46 pm

Let’s start from the fundamentals. The world is quickly headed into a multi-power era, meaning that there are military-economic powers emerging which will vie against each other, or form alliances with each other, whether short term or long term.

Democracies are preferable to autocracies in the long term for a number of different reasons such as freedom, individualism, political stability, peaceful change, and so on.

Let’s put aside (for a moment) the huge problem of economics and the control of democracies by rich elites with vested interests, and here just point-out that democracy will likely be better than autocracy at finding peaceful, equitable solutions in both the short term and long term.

Let’s also put aside (forever) this insistence that the key to US policy is the pursuit of empire. Its people don’t want that. I’m not aware of a US historical period when they did. Yes, vested interests try to push foreign policies for economic gains, and the US government has made enormous mistakes in foreign policy, and its history is littered with horrible disasters, BUT its people do NOT want an imperial empire. (Meanwhile, the theory that the so-called “deep state” wants empire for power and loot, and that’s why they opposed Trump, is not credible. He clearly intended to line all the rich pockets, and to increase defense industry spending, and he has done so.)

But, to take the opposite of empire, if you think that US isolationism will lead to less war in the long term, and the growth of foreign autocracies will be peaceful, then you haven’t thought it all the way through. Instead autocracies are far more likely to lead themselves stupidly into big wars, and the democracies including the US will be dragged into them, because this era is global and possibly nuclear.

So I think the biggest question is, what is the value of democracy (as an aspiration and ideal, and as a dysfunctional reality) to the emerging multipolar geopolitics?

Russia is run by a strongman who harasses and murders his domestic political opponents. Russia has legitimate foreign security interests which must be respected but that doesn’t justify continuing to advance beyond Crimea to kill more Ukrainians in areas where the majority would prefer to join Europe. This is what appears to be happening.

You can respond with all the previous US mistakes and all the whataboutisms you like. The US and EU are trying to protect their democracies and others, and are allied in that task. Russian intelligence agencies, using organized crime in some cases, are trying to subvert those democracies.

Even Chomsky thinks Russia can go too far. He also thinks quite rightly that the US shouldn’t have betrayed the Kurds.

China poses a big challenge. In every way it is a completely different and very long conversation. Cutting to the conclusion, the best peaceful strategy to deal with China is to ally with, and support, all the OTHER countries where people aspire to individual freedom and democracy for themselves and for everybody else. That might include Russia, but it does not include Putin.

Only after future multi-power geopolitics is understood as posing the necessity to preserve democracy and to encourage all aspirants to it, does it make sense to bring economics into this discussion. Because neoliberalism, too, is to be fought by democracy.

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Hidari 11.05.19 at 1:54 pm

‘No, you don’t. It’s both psychologically possible and not at all inconsistent to object to a general strategy, and to object how the strategy is being used for personal gain.’

Possible but not likely. How many establishment Dems (or even non-establishment Dems) have indicated that they have any objections to arming the Ukrainians? That would be in the region of about ‘none’, I would imagine. While what I assume your position is logically consistent (although bizarre….’I think it’s disgusting that the US is giving weapons to the Ukrainians although I’m not prepared to do anything about that, but Trump, who threatened to stop doing this, he must be impeached, because he was threatening to stop arming the Ukrainians, which, to repeat, I approve of, for the wrong reasons.’….it’s a logically consistent but deeply weird argument), it’s very obviously not the Democrats’ position.

The Democrats position is that arming the Ukrainians is a good and moral thing to do and that Trump is terrible for threatening to stop it, which is far simpler, far more logical and, if one ignores its flagrant immorality, far easier to ‘swallow’.

As always ‘reversing the polarities’ gives clarity (imagine I worked for Putin, who was arming MS-13, and then Putin put me on trial because, for whatever reason, I stopped arming MS-13….what would we think of Putin?).

It’s not even clear what motive Trump has. Biden has as much chance of being President as I have, he won’t be the Presidential candidate, this wasn’t an ‘attack’ on him, it was an attack on his son, who Biden could easily distance himself from…even on its own terms the accusation make absolutely no sense. It does, however, focus a laser like light on the Bidens’s activities in the Ukraine, which may not be something that the Democrats really want to happen, for all kinds of reasons.

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likbez 11.05.19 at 5:50 pm

nastywoman 11.05.19 at 8:12 am

You have a realistic nickname I would say :-). The level of your detachment from reality is pretty amusing, not to say more. The feelings your posts incite are pretty eloquently reflected in the following comment ;-) :

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/civil-war-begins-when-the-constitutional-order-breaks-down/

Rick Porter > Mark B. • 20 hours ago

You two idiots show your lack of knowledge and understanding of rural culture now and southern culture during the civil war. Your elite attitudes were what nearly lost the civil war for the North during the first part of the war. A lack of understanding of the Souths strengths at the start of the civil war and rural cultures strengths now.

Your ignorance now is as blatantly stupid as many people during the first Battle of Bull Run thinking it would be a quick short war. It turned out to be much different.

Don’t make the same stupid assumptions twice. If you imagine you can blissfully live on the coasts and discount the middle parts of the country your very ignorant. Shutting down travel between the coasts and any economic activity accross middle America would bring urban areas to heal very quickly.

All of us in flyover country would get along just fine without the coasts.

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Orange Watch 11.05.19 at 5:53 pm

steven t johnson@72:

I will admit, I don’t think there was anything quite as telling how FN mysteriously removed the IMF from the alphabet soup of multilateral international institutions being quoted back and forth before asserting that polite, well-mannered, erudite liberal support this constellation of organizations has made the global south a better place and reduced imperialist meddling.

(OTOH, I can’t say that pointing to neo-Nazis in Ukraine (or even pointing to the PM signaling sympathy towards them) is terribly convincing when there are neo-Nazi militias holding power the Russian-back separatists who are not just publicly “being neo-Nazi” but carrying out ethnic cleansing in areas they control. Ukraine is not a nation of saints, but the other side is visibly, obviously, and (most importantly) actively worse.)

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Orange Watch 11.05.19 at 6:15 pm

arcseconds@79:

What is missing from your analysis is the idea that Pelosi has any agency. To take a favorite idea bandied about in certain parts of the liberal blogosphere, it’s the unstated corollary to Murc’s Law: it is unreasonable to ascribe agency to orthodox Democrats, and any suggestions that they have agency can be dismissed as made in bad faith under Murc’s Law. Pelosi is a politician, and she is actively shaping public opinion even as she tried to frame her PR as passively sitting back and watching as events played out. She actively pursued a course of action to exclude impeachment from the realm of possibilities by dismissing it as an impossible, vain, symbolic pursuit – even as she explicitly declared that the people had elected the Democratic House majority a mandate to pass bills in the House (which is also an impossible, vain, symbolic pursuit). Worse still, she undermined the idea of carrying out investigations by repeatedly insinuating that Congresspersons calling for investigations were doing so for self-serving reasons. She was not merely passively failing to pursue impeachment or to shape public opinion such that impeachment could be viewed favorably, she was actively and publicly attacking and undermining the legitimacy of the idea of impeachment as a concept – she was arguing that the only legitimate way to remove Trump was by voting him out. It’s political cowardice – not just before the nation as a whole, but before members of her caucus.

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likbez 11.05.19 at 7:22 pm

arcseconds 11.05.19 at 8:31 am

@libkez #80:

A good politician should of course be sensitive to both public opinion and to potential allies, so of course Pelosi should take into account Republicans who might want to nail Trump. If there were enough of those in the Senate, he might even get removed from office!

Do you suggest that this is not a pro-wrestling type of exercise, a dirty media-oriented trick designed to increase the chances of Dem neoliberal candidate (supposedly Warren) to win the 2020 election? And that Schiff serves any other role then reincarnation of Maddow, and want to get to the bottom of the dirty deals between the US officials and their Ukrainian puppets both adamant to fleece Ukrainian population via the debt trap and enrich themselves in the process (the standard of living in Ukraine dropped probably two times after 2014 and now is on the level of central African countries ($2 a day or so for bottom 50%) , while currency depreciated around 300%) ?

And truth be told Warren is just a careerist with sharp elbows, who does not challenge the establishment narrative (kind of Eisenhower republican) and while like Trump during election campaign she attacks FIRE sector, she most probably will fold in best Obama “change we can believe in” fashion and will continue imperial foreign policy, while giving some necessary but limited relief to deplorables domestically in order to prevent mass protests. I want to be wrong is this assessment, but we have what we have.

I would recommend you to read Matt Taibbi’s Hate Inc., which might help to educate you about intricacies of the US neoliberal political scene. Among other things, he provides an interesting assessment of “MadCow” style media personalities and their assigned roles: FOX vs. MSBNC with Maddow “a depressingly exact mirror” of Hannity. Both Sean and Rachel maintain the bipartisan consensus for ever-increasing military budgets, for everlasting wars, for ever-expanding surveillance, for ever-growing bailouts of and tax breaks for multinationals and FIRE sector.

And how the range of opinions has been artificially and skillfully narrowed and emasculated long before you get to hear it.

The idea is to manufacture fake dissent in order to smother real dissent. That’s by-and-large is what the impeachment process is about.

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