Ilargi: 2017 – Where the Truth Lies

By Ilargi, editor of Automatic Earth. Originally published at Automatic Earth
I was surprised to see how surprised I was, like I’m sure millions of people were, to see the term ‘fake news’ pop up in what are still called ‘respectable’ (which is by now really just another word for ‘old’) news outlets.

Because a huge part of what they have been feeding their readers and viewers for years is that very thing: fake news. Who needs a bunch of bored highschool kids in small town Montenegro when you have the offices of America’s ‘official’ news sources at your disposal?

That there are still people trying to make a serious point by quoting anything at all published in the Washington Post -and to an only slightly lesser extent the New York Times- is beyond me. And not a little bit beyond. Well, that people still read these sheets is just as incredible, I grant you that.

I haven’t kept count of the number of ‘articles’ the WaPo has published over the past year or so -the election campaign- that referred to unsubstantiated reports emanating from anonymous US intelligence sources about Russian involvement in everything bad under the sun, but I’m dead certain that put together they would add up to a Christmas bestseller of respectable size. A chance missed there, gents. You could have had your own garbage lead your own bestseller lists. Snake, tail.

And it’s not as if it was a new thing for them either, what’s new is the sheer volume and the concerted campaign we’re talking about. We of course had a similar thing in 2003 with the Weapons of Mass Destruction ‘fantasy’. Now that I mention it, how is it possible that Colin Powell is still walking around free, and Cheney and W.?

When did it become de rigueur to lie to the people, let alone Congress and the UN? What have we become? When did that happen? Remember Ukraine, and the stories you were told about that, less than 3 years ago? Crimea? G-d I hope Trump will get rid of Victoria Nuland.

Trump called the UN a sad club for people to “get together, talk and have a good time”. Is he wrong? Really? If so, do tell, how wrong is he? Perhaps wrong in the same way that the IMF is wrong for letting Christine Lagarde keep her plush tax-free seat after being convicted for handing €400 million in French taxpayer money to a crony? That kind of wrong?

I’m thinking there are still awfully few people who understand what’s happening in the world. What’s changing. And I don’t hold out much hope that they will until it hits them smack upside the backs of their heads.

Why there’s Trump and Brexit, and why many more changes are in the offing. Well, it’s precisely because the UN and EU and IMF and Capitol Hill are self-serving ‘clubs’ filled with unaccountable and overpaid people who have turned the world into a godawful mess.

Not for themselves, they’re fine, thank you very much, they all have pensions from here to Rome and back again for the rest of their lives, but for everyone else. G-d I hope Trump will come through on his pre-election promise to limit the terms of American Congressmen and Senators. And that this is subsequently applied to all these ‘clubs’. Because if anything, it’s them who are the bane of this world. Public service…

There may be fine individuals among them, that’s not even -the worst of- the point, it’s the dilapidated, decayed, rotten to the core institutions that they ‘serve’ which are the problem. They serve themselves and they serve the institutions, the one thing they sure don’t serve is the people. You know who’s given (‘voted’) them those lavish pensions and benefits? They themselves did, and their predecessors.

The UN is supposed to keep the peace in the world. Well, works like a charm, doesn’t it? The IMF is tasked with keeping 200 or so nations in reasonably balanced economic conditions. Got it down. The US Congress was set up as a pillar of democracy, but it’s occupied by guys and gals who spend so much more time raising funds for their next campaign than representing those who voted them in, that they need lobbyists to tell them which way to vote.

As for the EU, is it even possible they’re the worst of the bunch? Europe is falling apart before all of our eyes, and they’re all in full tard denial about it. They are turning Greece into a third world country, they’re alienating Britain to the point where the English will, once they wake up to what’s going on, want to set Brussels on fire. And why? There’s no point left to any of it at all.

Italy’s a goner, once enough Italians realize what the ECB wants to do to their banks. France is such a key member nobody wants to even imagine it falling, so its broke banks are ignored. Holland will come very close to voting in Wilders, which means Nexit. Germany is destabilizing rapidly. Spain has been a hornets’ nest for years. Etc.

And again: why? Well, because the Obama/Merkel model has so dramatically failed. All these places where left and right work together to produce a shapeless blob somewhere in the center that has no identity and doesn’t speak out for anyone.

You just wouldn’t know it from reading the Washington Post. Or any comparable old and respected medium in any of these European countries. It’s not just the politics that have failed, it’s its propaganda machine too.

This is something that manifests itself differently in different places, but it shouldn’t be that hard to see the ties that bind it all together. For one thing, because, not even touched on so far, the amount of fake financial news that has been forced down our throats for decades, and increasingly so: the worse things get, the bigger the lie…

There is no economic recovery. Never was. Not in the US, not in Europe anywhere. It’s a fairy tale. There are plates shifting, sure. You can cherry pick a region stateside that does well if only you select the ‘right’ stats. Like you can say employment is on a roll, if you’re willing to discard the number of ‘newly created’ jobs that are part time.

And yes, if you just completely ignore that 94 million Americans are not counted at all in unemployment numbers, Obama has been a big success. It’s just that those 94 million have a vote, too. We will see that exact same dynamic, and we have already started, play out all across Europe.

It’ll be much messier, for instance because in Holland last time I looked 81 different political parties were vying to take part in the upcoming elections, but the end result will be the same. That is, the existing order will be voted out. Not everywhere, and it won’t be replaced by radically different parties and people in all places, but do please understand that it doesn’t have to.

In Europe, it’s not and/and, it’s if/or. As in, if either Italy or France or Holland vote in a party that wants to leave the EU or the Euro, it’s game over. The endgame will be almighty messed up because of all the laws and regulations the EU has invented, but eventually the walls of Brussels will crumble. Good riddance too.

I’ve said it a hundred times before, all the institutions mentioned before, EU, IMF, UN and yes, even Congress, exist by the grace of growth. People accept them only as long as they can show reasonable proof that they bring economic benefits. As soon as that’s gone (or I should say as soon as people figure it out), so are they.

People are going to vote for someone close to their own lives, their own world, to lead them in times of contraction. That is inevitable. It’s why Trump won, and it’s also why he’s set to fail. Isn’t that a lovely paradox? We’re going to split up into smaller entities, economic contraction guarantees it.

And while everyone tries to talk you into thinking that’s terrible, there’s no reason why it should be. We can work together in many different ways. All these supranational institutions have merely become straight jackets that serve only the people who work inside them and those outside who benefit from keeping up appearances and clinging to power.

That of course gets us back to the Washington Post and its comatose brethren. The US press has been a full accomplice with Washington in reporting fake news about the recovery, and it’s not there. Never has been. The Dow Jones says one thing, the votes for Trump say another. In the end, democracy is that simple. Same goes for Britain, same goes for continental Europe.

And there’s no doubt that Trump is an iceberg-sized gamble, but a change had to come. A change from the monsoon of fake news we have all been fed, but also initially a change that won’t be able to help itself from being replete with more fake news, from all sides.

Put it this way: in 2016, the engine of change got cranked up. In the new year, it will accelerate. That is 2017. That is what the new year will bring.

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46 comments

  1. TEFLRefugee

    It seems to me that almost everything in the US is propped up into a bubble, except for oil which is momentarily cheap.

    Professional sports are a bubble. Theme parks are a bubble. Craft beer. Education. Health care too. People can’t actually afford these things, it’s all driven by credit and the projections of unending “growth” enable executives to keep making giant short-sighted investments. How is an NFL stadium worth the risk of a billion-dollar investment? The Cowboys are about to pay more than that for PRACTICE FACILITIES, with the city of Frisco helping foot the bill.

    1. human

      Hey buddy, keep your hands off of my craft beer!

      Seriously though, I don’t think it’s a bubble. I see the renaissance in craft beer to be a celebration, a confirmation of locavorism. I have spoken to many who welcome this explosion of local, real food. Some local breweries here in New England are even sourcing their hops and grains from a local farmers. It has become a backdoor route to relying more on local craftspeople and can only be a good thing.

    2. John Wright

      But note that the other “Frisco” city of San Francisco decided not the build a new stadium for the San Francisco 49ers.

      About 40 miles south, the county of Santa Clara DID build a new $1.3 billion stadium for the 49ers, who have honored their benefactors with a current 2-13 record.

      San Francisco showed other municipalities that the voters wanted their public money spent for other than infrequently used stadiums.

      Furthermore, the name remained the San Francisco 49ers, so San Francisco kept its name on the team while Santa Clara county has the expense of providing the playing venue.

      Maybe when the 49ers do better they will be renamed “Santa Clara 49ers”?

    3. Adam Eran

      A little more about that bubble and sports:

      In Sacramento, land speculators bought or optioned thousands of acres of 20-foot-under-water floodplain surrounded by weak levees north of downtown for roughly $2K an acre. The land owners and farmers thought they were crazy. After all, didn’t regional sewer get a federal grant to expand its capacity, but with the caveat that there would be a $6 million penalty if they used the capacity to serve development on that floodplain (“North Natomas”)?

      The speculators didn’t bat an eye. They went all the way to then-vice-president G.H.W. Bush, who made that penalty payable in installments, and arranged a $43 million levee improvement grant to bring those weak levees up to pre-Katrina standards. A pretty good deal right there: pay $6 million in installments to get $43 million! Where do I sign?

      Thanks to that intervention, the City of Sacramento approved development in North Natomas, and the speculators sold their land for roughly 100 times what they paid for it. Naturally they 1031 exchanged out of those transactions so they paid no income tax on the 10,000% profit. (Actually…delayed payment indefinitely, but potay-to/potah-to)

      With profits like that, purchasing a basketball team to drum up a constituency clamoring for development was a relatively small expense. In fact such high profits mean the speculators can wait for any unfavorable press or public policy to diminish.

      Meanwhile, the former Kansas City Kings got a nice, new stadium (actually a temporary and then a permanent one) in North Natomas, and a $70 million loan from the City.

      More recently, Silicon Valley’s Vivek Ranadive and some other plutocrats bought the team with the proviso that the City of Sacramento (whose mayor was Kevin Johnson, a former NBA player) would subsidize a new-er stadium. Ranadive claimed he overpaid for the team.

      So the City put a $9 million hole in its budget, and State government tied itself in knots writing exemptions from environmental review, and, with the help of Goldman Sachs, they sold $258 million in bonds. So…Sacramento now owns a new stadium. City ownership means no property tax revenue, and a building that’s a white elephant if the Kings ever decide to move–providing them with yet another lever to extort money from the public.

      Professional sports get an antitrust exemption, which means monopoly rent, AKA extortion, is perfectly legal. Why 75% of W’s net worth came from conning the public into building a stadium for his baseball team in Arlington TX. Pro sports are part of the kleptocrats’ toolbox.

      Kevin Johnson is moving on from his position as mayor, a little under a cloud because of allegations of sexual abuse, ethics violations, and some unsavory behavior with the local press and conference of black mayors. He can be consoled by his spouse, Michelle Rhee, the same woman who fired lots of teachers when she ran the Washington D.C. schools. The firings were based on an algorithm Mathbabe writes up in her “Weapons of Math Destruction” book.

      As much as Ilargi puts Europe down, the Germans have a better system for development. The developers must sell any land they want re-zoned to the local government at its current value, then buy it back at the re-zoned value. All that 10,000% profit–the “unearned increment” (the very definition of economic rent)–accrues to the public realm, which is fast approaching third world status in California.

      …Why just the expense to revamp those North Natomas levees to post-Katrina standards (Sacramento is second only to New Orleans in flood risk) is hundreds of millions, so the inhabitants of North Natomas have that bit of additional tax to pay. The developers are down the road, and, despite 20 years worth of infill available to build out in the region, are proposing even more outlying development.

      Meanwhile the Germans have very nice infrastructure, good schools, and offer free college tuition for even foreigners. The arts budget for the City of Berlin exceeds the National Endowment for the Arts for the U.S. of A.

      I’ve also read (in David Cay Johnston’s writings) that the City of London has 13 soccer teams, but since they don’t have an anti-trust exemption, none are extorting stadiums from the public.

      Incidentally, Forbes estimates the current value of the team is roughly double what Ranadive paid.

      Land speculation and extractive practices are part and parcel of the motivation to go from the Old World to the New World, so these practices have a long history. The question is whether they will continue. As H.G. Wells said: “Civilization is a race between education and catastrophe.”

  2. ChrisAtRU

    Ha!

    Every article that mentions the US debt as crippling is “fake news” …
    Any report that offers up the possibility that the US is “running out of money” is “fake news” …
    Any news outlet that promotes the notion that the US Gov’t has to “tighten its belt” because well — that’s what households do! — is peddling “fake news” …

    ::TyrionLannisterVoice:: “… and yet, here we are.”

    Great read. Touched on a few of my peeves:
    Greece officially a HIPC in the EZ? Check!
    IMF the vampires that Thievery Corporation sang about? Check!
    Russia Bad! West Good! (Trope) Check!

    Could go on at length, but I’ll just leave this here:
    Big Newspapers Are Booming: ‘Washington Post’ To Add 60 Newsroom Jobs

    #MissionAccomplished #ServiceHeld

    I guess fake news sells …

  3. financial matters

    Great article, we really are in quite a swamp of fake news.

    It’s even worse than I was thinking. With the election of Trump which helped put the brakes on the Syrian disaster we are seeing just how bad that fake news was in that area and how our government was supporting horrible things.

    The Clinton Foundation with CIA backing is a powerful force, partly why I think they felt pretty invincible. I think Trump with his cadre of powerful friends will be able to take this on. I supported Sanders but now actually don’t think he had the power to confront what we have become.

    It’s early yet and Trump may yet see the benefits of fiscal deficits to create good jobs but right now the downside seems to be that he is full on neoliberal. Wanting to cut regulation, cut social safety nets and increase privatizaion of assets that should be in public hands.

    I like that he is going to see Russia as a useful partner rather than a bogey man and hope he works similarly with China. I also hope he pays attention to Ivanka on climate change.

    I think we needed this collision with the status quo and hope we can ease out of neoliberal mode. In the meantime I think it’s useful to build a powerful progressive message. The people I see as a foundation for this are Tulsi Gabbard, bilbo and Mary Mellor (Debt or Democracy: Public Money for Sustainability and Social Justice.). I think the last 2 are 2 of our best thinkers on economics and the first for politics. Thought this was a simple but pertinent tweet

    Tulsi Gabbard ‏@TulsiGabbard 12h12 hours ago
    We must end the counterproductive regime change war in Syria, rein in corruption on Wall Street & protect our environment.

    1. Carolinian

      Yes unfortunately it took a boob to overthrow the planned HRC coronation. But it’s possible that Trump may see reason if steered in that direction. This is why the current “not my president” trend is all wrong. Denying reality isn’t going to change anything. Putin, a smarter man than just about anyone running things in this country, gets this and is already stroking Trump’s ego.

      The US, like those countries in Europe, desperately needs to be shed of its ancien regime. History suggests such changes never go smoothly but at least for the next few weeks we can hope for the best while preparing for the worst.

      1. Vatch

        Trump may see reason if steered in that direction

        Yes, when he does something good, praise him. But he’s not even President yet, and he’s already done some very bad things, such as nominating several very bad people to the cabinet. My personal list of toxic nominees:

        Pollution advocate Scott Pruitt for the job of EPA Administrator.
        Navy embezzler Ryan Zinke for Interior Secretary.
        Misogynist Tom Price for Health and Human Services Secretary.
        Public schools enemy Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary.

        We need to let our Senators understand that we know just how bad these nominees are!

        http://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/

  4. Michael C.

    It is always nice when you see someone writing about something that corroborates your own thinking.

  5. EoinW

    Ilargi is the truth teller who reveals reality in all his articles. He’s right up there with Gerald Celente, using the Info Age to educate, not manipulate.

    1. Anonymous2

      I would disagree with his take on the UK. Here the fake news has been produced by the English newspapers for decades, denigrating the EU quite unfairly. The EU has its faults but it is not as bad as the UK press would have you believe. That is why the pound has fallen on the foreign exchanges. People can see that the UK is self-harming by proposing to leave the EU.

      People should be careful what they wish for. If the EU were to fall apart there would be a lot of problems in Europe which would not necessarily be resolved peacefully.

  6. Leigh

    Well done!!

    Closer to home:
    U.S. GDP has been trending up for years.
    The stock market (whether S&P 500 or the Dow) has been trotting upward as well. (Dow 20,000!! Woo Hoo!) These are the dashboard gauges of the top 1-10% – and they see nothing but blue skies.

    Then, you have everyone else, whose dashboard gauges are their jobs, their pay, costs of living and healthcare. For them, the skies are not so blue, many of those indicators are lit up red…the stock market and GDP mean nothing to them. (If only there was some kind of trickle-down effect…)

    When you put the top 1-10% in charge – they are immune to the indicators the bottom 90% see and therefore are hardly moved to change anything – to them, nothing is broken.

    We will continue to see the status quo. The rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer.
    Why? The U.S. is consumed by Greed. Period. It all comes back to Greed. Every six days in the U.S. a new billionaire is made – let that sink in…

    Corporations have money and desire power – politicians have power and desire money.
    The average citizen no longer has a meaningful role, except maybe every 4 years and by that time, emotions are red hot. Emotions and rational thinking are not good bedfellows; as we have just witnessed.

  7. thump

    I have been pondering what a left politics means in an era of contraction. So much has been about sharing a growing pie equitably. What does it mean to have an equitable die-off?

    1. lyman alpha blob

      It means that when those who can’t even wipe their butt anymore without consulting an app go the way of the dodo, the rest of us get all their stuff.

      1. polecat

        in the words of that sage of wisdom, the immortal George Carlin :

        “Your stuff is sh!t … and their sh!t is stuff !”

    2. Oregoncharles

      I try not to actually think about this too much, but it’s haunted me for years. The requirements for an “equitable die-off” would be:

      1) An international commitment to a declining population, with all its economic consequences, via contraception. That means getting rid of, or disempowering, several major world religions – one reason I’m hostile to religion.

      2) An international commitment to redistribution of resources, essentially so we all suffer more or less equally, mainly so the apocalyptic 4 Horsemen don’t have a field day. That means that you and I, as Americans, as well as most of Europe, have to give up a lot of our goodies. The Earth is a zero-sum game.

      3) A RAPID end to the use of fossil fuels, at all costs.

      4) An international program to bury as much carbon as physically possible, especially in soils.

      I’m probably forgetting some. Is it sufficiently clear that this is extremely unlikely? No soft landing for you, homo sap. I do wish the model was out there more, though.

      1. thump

        Hi Charles, and thanks for your reply. Although I generally agree with the agenda items you list, I’m not sure what kind of politics could bring it about. Certainly the idea is so far from mainstream that any candidate in our democracy (or “democracy”) who preached contraction and the need to plan for it would be completely unfunded, ignored, and defeated. I suspect that the best we can do now is to keep supporting democratic rights and political inclusion, but some way to increase awareness of what’s going on would be good.

        1. Oregoncharles

          The reality is out there; I think I’m not the only one trying not to think about it.

          The Green Party would sign on to that, I think, but we all know far they’ve gotten.

          I and others try to bring it up regularly here, because “groaf.” It’s the big flaw in even the best liberal economists, like Dean Baker.

          There are a few economists who do acknowledge it, mainly Herman Daly, a name I try to drop regularly. You can look it up on CASSE, steadystate.org.

    3. animalogic

      I may have my facts incorrect here, but I believe that the rate of growth around the world is roughly equivalent to the growth rate of debt over a similar time span.
      If correct such a situation is, to say the least, fraught with danger…think house of cards & an open window….Certainly, difficult to imagine anything equitable in such a die-off.

  8. Beyond

    Great comments everyone.

    Ilargi is the truth teller who reveals reality in all his articles using the Info Age to educate, not manipulate.

    http://dollarcollapse.com/the-economy/a-shrinking-trust-horizon-and-hard-times-in-the-city/

    We are divided because we have been mis-educated on purpose by the elite.

    Who are the Parasites?

    http://www.feasta.org/2016/09/06/who-are-the-parasites-the-radical-implications-of-classical-economics/

    The Corruption of Economics

    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1175203.The_Corruption_of_Economics

    http://www.henrygeorge.org/isms.htm

    Michael Hudson Video the slow crash

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRouPMT8xow

    Regarding Monetary Policy, the author of the “Final Crash” makes you think what is possible.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRouPMT8xow

      1. Beyond

        Michael Hudson Video “The Slow Crash” on Guns and Butter Radio

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ELQf7aBLLM

        “How did you go bankrupt?” Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.” ― Ernest Hemingway,

        Write down the debt. End Rentier Economics, especially regarding Land. End the Fed.

        Review and remedy all Fraud especially in history, government, and religion.

        Restore the rule of Law

  9. PKMKII

    I hope Trump will come through on his pre-election promise to limit the terms of American Congressmen and Senators.

    I agree with a lot of the rant, but this is a bad idea. One, it’s fundamentally undemocratic, telling me I can’t vote for someone just because they’ve been there too long. Second, it’s not going to do anything to get rid of the entrenched lifer representatives and senators. Sans senior leadership, the house and senate will be even more reliant on lobbyists to guide them. And who do you think those lobbyists will be? The same people that just got kicked out due to term limits.

    Want to drain the legislative swamp? Fully publicly financed elections. As long as the parties are dependent on the donor class, that’s who will run the show, regardless of which puppet they’re doing it with.

    1. barefoot charley

      Yes. Here in California, term limits have created a career Tilt-a-Whirl for public servants to ride from one time-serving post ever sideways on to the next, like illiterates contemplating Fitzgerald. This career churn doesn’t open up places so much as industrialize the machinery that selects which cogs go where next. Term limits are great for political parties but irrelevant to reform, except in advantaging lobbyists who stay at their stations through the hubbub, the carny barkers at the gates who run the ride.

    2. EoinW

      I would have thought it more undemocratic to have a handful of career politicians endlessly running the country. There’s a reason western democracy is dying and it’s because of these elites running things for their own personal gain. With over 300 million Americans is it not better to have a continuous turnover, rather than a political class ruling over everyone else?

      Also remember that the US is a republic first and a democracy second. What the founding fathers most feared was autocratic rule thus they created checks and balances to curb individual power. Now if you have the same people always in power they become corrupt. Something we’ve seen too many times. Today all western governments serve themselves and increase federal powers to further empower themselves. It’s pretty clear that the same people always in power is what has caused this situation. I wouldn’t worry too much about whether something is undemocratic because we no longer have democracies. We’ve oligarchic fascism.

      1. Leigh

        The only thing worse than corruption – is entrenched corruption.

        Not only that, times are changing quickly and most of congress has not a clue as to what is going on outside their gilded cage. The future is for the young – time to act that way.

        A country that sent a man to the moon, can surely incorporate term limits in some way or fashion Where there is a will there is a way.

        1. Oregoncharles

          It would have to be a constitutional amendment, so it would have to get through Congress and 3/4ths(?) of state legislatures.

        2. aab

          As per the first two commenters in this sub-thread, term limits only puts corruption on steroids. The electeds have even LESS incentive to do the right thing for citizens, as they can’t gain serious power being in office a long time by giving citizens what they want and need. Institutional memory and power devolves to the lobbyists, acting on behalf of the corporations and other entrenched, well-financed interests. They then have even MORE power over legislators: the lobbyists write the legislation, and can force the legislators to vote as the lobbyists desire, by promising or denying those soon to be out-of-work legislators their own plush positions of power and income as lobbyists. This scenario has already played out in California — it’s been field-tested; it’s not projection.

          As Bernie Sanders’ career (and, in a different way, both Barack Obama’s AND Hillary Clinton’s) demonstrates, governing and legislating well both take skill and experience. You can’t just dump anybody into the job and get good results, especially now when we are facing systemic corruption, corporate capture and urgent crises. It is better for citizens if legislators have an incentive to be really good legislators, rather than incentivize them to please near-term future employees.

          It’s magical thinking to assert that term limits will lead to better governance. The corruption doesn’t originate with the legislators, or the function of being one. It is the corporations that need to be term-limited, and the flood of corporate and ruling class money, carrying along all in its path, restricted. Why does no one mention that? Have I missed it? If corporations could not continue in perpetuity, they would have much less power. What if every single corporation had to be cashed out and dissolved every decade, or even every fifty years? That kind of term limit might do some good. So, of course, it is never mentioned.

          1. Leigh

            I respectfully disagree.

            We need to attract the right people into office.

            “The corruption doesn’t originate with the legislators, or the function of being one..”
            Corruption starts at the individual level.

            A lifelong job of grifting will attract grifters, who will gerrymander and whatever else it takes to remain in the sweet spot.

            Present the job as (God forbid) a public servant position, with a term limit and you will attract a different animal entirely.

            Take a step back and look at the type of person who would be attracted to a lifelong job as a politician – a lifelong job of grifting.

          2. EoinW

            Your position reminds me of this argument: we must pay politicians very well, otherwise they’ll be prone to bribes. That joke ended up on us, we over paid them and they still take bribes!

            The problem is special interest groups manipulating government. The obvious action should be to curb the power of such interest groups. Removing the captured entities(the career politicians) is the first step. Maybe they get replaced by more corrupt people, or maybe we begin a process to “drain the swamp”. You won’t find out unless you try. Concluding in advance it won’t work, thus one shouldn’t even try, could be taken as an excuse to support the status quo. I’m sure you don’t mean it that way. I admit term limits is a band aid approach to fixing a system which may be unfixable. Thus you’re staring at the nihilistic option of tearing it all down and starting over. Does anyone in western society have the courage for that? Not yet.

            1. Adam Eran

              Both you and Leigh are really pointing out how susceptible to sabotage is democracy. Actual experience contradicts the notion that term limits are useful. California has *already* tried term limits. What it really does is empower the lobbyists (and what politician about to be termed-out can stand up to them?).

              So yes, pay them so they don’t need bribes (or, as in Harry Truman’s case, so they have to sell the farm so they can retire), but don’t expect that to be enough. Saboteurs will find plenty of opportunities. It sounds idiotic, but its true that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance (even though the problem with socialism is that it takes too many evenings [Oscar Wilde])…

    3. animalogic

      Disagree & agree with PKMKII here.
      Disagree with rejection of term limits. Does depend on the actual limit (i think 12 years is is roughly reasonable, but there’s plenty of room for debate). I doubt very much that senators etc will be more liable to lobbyist pressure (lobbyists basically write the legislation now–so how much worse can it get ? But, sure, it can ALWAYS be worse…)
      As for undemocratic: its a small limit for a large gain– legislators denied “tenure”. Legislators restricted in their empire building.
      Agree on public funding of campaigns. Cut the link between donors & legislators, & release legislators from constant fundraising. Allow small donations, strictly enforced.( I would also put age limits on Sup’ Court Judges.)

  10. Hemang

    Your fine sensibility is obviously hurt by the crude architecture of Time we live in. You find it incredible that people still “read” such sheets. I am afraid people do not “read” such sheets ; they just glance at them. In a way it is healthy of people not to read such sheets as they as well as most contemporary journalism is unreadable. But the tragedy is that people do not read anything anyways and the proof of what I just said is reflected in the behaviour of people, electorally and otherwise. Those who do not read pay with their lives and if the offender is a nation, that nation pays with its history , sings a poet. You will do well to be equally surprised by the fact that the developed world manages to live while being completely oblivious to other worlds living on the same planet- for past two hundred years. Mr. Trump is a continuation of Something by other means and you will do well to be surprised by that Something too. What we are seeing is a civilisational failure to operate at a higher level; 300 years after Voltaire, you should be surprised at that too! Rest assured that changing Ms. Victoria Nuland changes nothing!

  11. fresno dan

    So I am varying my TV cable watching as I just in the last few weeks have been able to view MSNBC. So I am watching this guy Chris Hayes, supposedly left/liberal or more accurately, a TV SIMULACRA of a liberal. So Hayes is yammering on about Trump and Putin, and about how bad Russia is – along the lines of how Russia invaded that wonderful Ukraine, land of peace and justice. And how bad Russia is for interfering in our election. I waited for irony, but in vain….

    Now, I do not KNOW if the US staged a coup in Ukraine – but if you do a google search, one can find hundreds of articles giving various degrees of credence to the idea. The truth of the matter is that Russia is not run by angels, but neither are we. I thought I would get some acknowledgement of this on the “left” network, but the idea was only put forward on FOX, as I have noted before.

    Sadly, all those rationales for the press, such as a check, balance, or loyal opposition to the bunk incessantly put out by the government has gone the way of the dodo – our press is not merely stenographers, but active press agents for what is going on.
    FOX and MSNBC may think they are complete opposites, but each may just as well be one side of a quarter.

      1. ChrisAtRU

        Same here, but then this happened.

        Thx for the Counterpunch article. Confirms I was right, albeit a bit late to the funeral.

        1. aab

          I was out by then. The last straw for me was an interview with Susan Sarandon where he put on a very credible act of being ASTOUNDED at the idea that voting third party would be better than voting for Hillary Clinton. He either had had a literal lobotomy by then, or he should switch to acting, because it was a very grounded, specific performance. It was as if he had never actually met a leftist before, or was aware that Susan Sarandon was a real one. Given his history, education and self-presentation, the latter (not knowing leftist thinking) should not be true. The former (lobotomy) obviously could also not, literally, be true. So I was left with a) he was much stupider and more poorly informed politically than I had thought — in which case, why pay attention to him? — or b) he was a committed phony, skilled at pretending to be someone he’s not — in which case, why pay attention to him?

          So I stopped paying attention to him.

  12. Kim Kaufman

    I’m going to repost a comment I made a few days ago because it fits here:

    From The Devil’s Chessboard: Allan Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government by David Talbot, which I am still reading. Regarding the overthrow in 1954 of Jacobo Arbenz, the democratically elected president of Guatemala:

    “The U.S. press coverage of the Guatemala coup offered a sanitized account, one that smacked of CIA manipulation. The leading newspapers treated the overthrow of Arbenz’s government as a topical adventure, an “opera bouffe,” in the words of Hanson Baldwin, one of Dulles’s trusted friends at The New York Times. Nonetheless, reported Baldwin, the operation had “global importance.” This is precisely how Dulles liked his overseas exploits to be chronicled – as entertaining espionage capers, with serious consequences for the Cold War struggle. New York Times publisher Arthur Hays Sulzberger was extremely accommodating to Dulles throughout the covert operation, agreeing to keep foreign correspondent Sydney Gruson, whom Dulles considered insufficiently compliant, out of Guatemala and even assuring the CIA director that Gruson’s future articles would be screened “with a great deal more care than usual.”

    The NY Times has been engaged in active collaboration and propaganda for a long time.

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