Our Awful Elites Gutted America. Now They Dare Ring Alarms About Trump, Sanders—And Cast Themselves as Saviors

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Yves here. This is an awesome rant. Wish I had written it.

By Anis Shivani, the author of several books of fiction, poetry, and criticism, including, most recently, My Tranquil War and Other Poems. His novel Karachi Raj (HarperCollins/Fourth Estate) was released this summer. His next book is the poetry collection Whatever Speaks on Behalf of Hashish, out in October. Originally published at Salon

This week, on the night of the Indiana primary, I read one of the most loathsome political screeds it has been my misfortune to encounter.

It was an alarm bell raised by Andrew Sullivan, arguably the greatest hypocrite of the Bush era, on par with his partner in many crimes Christopher Hitchens (remember “Islamofascism?”). Sullivan proclaims that the election of Trump would be an “extinction-level” event. Well, perhaps it will be.

But the extinction Sullivan is most worried about is clearly that of his own breed of callous elites, who could care less about normal human beings who do not have decent jobs and who live in crappy housing and who are so desperate to find a way out of the trap that even someone like Trump starts sounding rational to them.

Now this panic alert, designed to get us in line behind Hillary, is raised by the man who ended The New Republic as we knew it (which then went on to end and then end again), promoting racist and imperialist dogma during his reign at the magazine in the 1990s, and then, with his finger in the wind (which to him and that other arch-hypocrite Hitchens meant being like George Orwell), turned into one of the biggest shills for the war on terror, the Iraq war, the whole works, all the while denouncing the fifth column within our ranks. This so-called journalist, who has no record of liberal consistency, who keeps shifting to whoever holds moral power at any given moment, is scaring us about the mortal threat that is Trump.

No, the danger is the elites, who have made such a joke of the democratic process, who have so perverted and rotted it from within, that the entire edifice is crumbling (to the consternation of the elites). Both parties are in terminal decline after forty years of ignoring the travails of the average worker (the Republicans admit they’re in the intensive care unit, while the Democrats calling for Sanders to quit already have yet to come around to admitting that they might have the flu), and voters on both right and left have at last—and this is a breath of relief—stopped caring about the cultural distractions that have kept the elites in power. No, they want their jobs back, even if it means building a wall, keeping Muslims out, deporting the illegals, and starting trade wars with China and Japan—because what else did the elites give them, they’re still opposing a living wage!

Sullivan comes right out and says it: it’s all because of too much democracy, the same bugbear elites on both sides have been offended by since the “crisis of excess democracy” in the mid-1970s, the same lament that Sullivan’s masters in the ivory tower, Samuel P. Huntington and others, have been leveling ever since they made it their job to put the exuberance of the late sixties and early seventies to rest once and for all. So they engineered the neoliberal revolution, where the “qualified” elites are firmly in charge, and the only way to get ahead is not democratic (or individualist) unpredictability—and who is a greater exemplar of unpredictability than Trump?—but elite planning, a certain coldhearted “rationality” that is as efficient as any totalitarian system ever was in sidelining those who do not have what it takes to succeed.

So, the problem, according to all the elites, is too much democracy. Thank you Andrew Sullivan, a Harvard humanities education—all that Plato you read!—was hardly ever put to worse use in the four-hundred-year annals of the institution.

You, Andrew Sullivan, and the Democratic party flacks who want the Bernie supporters to throw our lot behind the most compromised Democratic candidate of all time, Hillary Clinton, and you, who are so worried about the wall and the ban on Muslims and the attack on civil liberties, will you please tell us who started it all?

You did!

You’ve all now, the elite punditocracy on either spectrum, suddenly become nostalgic for George W. Bush, because he didn’t—well, not always—use the crude and blatant vocabulary that Trump deploys to demonize Mexicans and Arabs and Muslims and foreigners. But Bush is the one who actually implemented, with your full support, plans to surveil, discriminate against (in immigration proceedings), and impose a de facto bar on Muslims from the “wrong countries” that is still, under Barack Obama, a severe disability on Muslims who may want to emigrate to this country.

Where were you elites when Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the Democratic party elite spoke as one with Republicans on endlessly strengthening border security, on the need to mercilessly enforce immigration laws, on imposing such punitive measures against potential legalization that it becomes possible only in theory not in reality?

The natural conclusion of these ideas is the literal wall, but Trump didn’t start it, he’s only putting the finishing touches on the discourse that you elites, on both sides, have inflamed for twenty-plus years. Bill Clinton started the demonization of immigrants—legal immigrants were made ineligible for benefits—for the first time since the liberalization of immigration laws in 1965. Bill Clinton ended welfare, tapping into racist discourse about African Americans, and permanently unmoored millions of people from the social safety net. No, Trump didn’t start any of it, Paul Begala and Karl Rove, representing both parties, and the elite interests they represent, poisoned the discourse.

Elites on both sides insisted on not addressing the root causes of economic dissatisfaction, hence the long-foreseen rise of Trump. Paul Krugman, a Hillary acolyte, is nothing more than a neoliberal, whose prescriptions always stay strictly within orthodox parameters. Yet he was construed as some sort of a liberal lion during the Bush and Obama years. Not for him any of Bernie’s “radical” measures to ensure economic justice and fairness. Oh no, we have to stay within the orthodoxies of the economics profession. Now he’s all offended about Trump!

The worst offenders of all are the American left’s cultural warriors, who daily wage some new battle over some imagined cultural offense, which has nothing to do with the lives of normal people but only the highly tuned sensibilities of those in the academic, publishing, and media ecospheres.

The Hillary supporters have the authoritarian mentality of small property owners. They are the mirror image of the “realist” Trump supporters, the difference being that the Trump supporters fall below the median income level, and are distressed and insecure, while the Hillary supporters stand above the median income level, and are prosperous but still insecure.

To manipulate them, the Democratic and Republican elites have both played a double game for forty years and have gotten away with it. They have incrementally yet quite comprehensively seized all economic and political power for themselves. They have perverted free media and even such basics of the democratic process as voting and accountability in elections. Elites on both sides have collaborated to engineer a revolution of economic decline for the working person, until the situation has reached unbearable proportions. The stock market may be doing well, and unemployment may theoretically be low, but people can’t afford housing and food, they can’t pay back student loans and other debts, their lives, wherever they live in this transformed country, are full of such misery that there is not a single word that an establishment candidate like Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush says that makes sense to them.

This time, I truly believe, there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between them. When they did have a difference to choose from—i.e., the clear progressive choice, Bernie over Hillary, who consistently demonstrates beating Trump by double the margins Hillary does—the elites went for Hillary, even though she poses the greater risk of inaugurating Trump as president. And now you want us to listen to your panic alarms?

The game, for the elites, is over. This is true no matter what happens with the Sanders campaign. The Republican party as we have known it since the Reagan consensus (dating back to 1976) is over. The Democratic party doesn’t know it yet, but Bill Clinton’s neoliberalism (and what followed in his wake with complicity with Bush junior, and the continuation of Bush junior’s imperialist policies with Barack Obama) is also over, or well on its way to being over. The elites are in a cataclysmic state of panic, they don’t know whether to look right or left, they have no idea what to do with Trump, they don’t know what to do with the Bernie diehards, they have no idea how to put Humpty Dumpty together again.

And these same elites, both liberal and conservative, these same journalists and celebrities, became quite comfortable with Bush once the war on terror was on. They’ll get used to Trump too, his level of fascist escalation will soon be presented byThe Times and other institutions as something our democracy can handle, just as they continually assured us during those eight years of gloom that our democracy could easily take care of Bush. We, the citizens, don’t need to get our hands dirty with implementing checks and balances, the elites will do it on our behalf. Soon, once he starts talking to the elites, you won’t even be that afraid of Trump. Wait, he’s the one who wants to make America great again, and what’s so wrong with that?

The election of Trump would end the Republican party as we know it, but more refreshingly it would also end the Democratic party as we know it. The limits of the academic left’s distracting cultural discourse in keeping economic dissatisfaction in check would be fully exposed. Trump threatens the stability of the fearmongering discourse of Sullivan and his like. The threat to their monopoly of discourse is the real reason for the panic.

Oh, and Hillary, good luck fighting Trump with your poll-tested reactions. Your calculated “offenses” against his offensiveness against women or minorities or Muslims are going to be as successful as the sixteen Republicans who’ve already tried it. You won’t be able to take on Trump because you do not speak the truth, you speak only elite mumbo-jumbo. Trump doesn’t speak the truth either, but he’s responding to something in the air that has an element of truth, and you don’t even go that far, you speak to a state of affairs—a meritocratic, democratic, pluralist America—that doesn’t even exist.

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  1. Pavel

    Bravo! and brava! Yves for posting this.

    David Stockman has had a series of posts on the Trump phenomenon and echoes some of these points:

    Donald Trump’s patented phrase “we aren’t winning anymore” lies beneath the tidal wave of anti-establishment sentiment propelling his campaign and, to some considerable degree, that of Bernie Sanders, too.

    As we demonstrated in Part 1, what’s winning is Washington, Wall Street and the bicoastal elites. The latter prosper from finance, the LA and SF branches of entertainment ( movies/TV and social media, respectively) and the great rackets of the Imperial City—including the military/industrial/surveillance complex, the health and education cartels, the plaintiffs and patent bar, the tax loophole farmers and the endless lesser K-Street racketeers.

    But most of America’s vast flyover zone has been left behind. Thus, the bottom 90% of families have no more real net worth today than they had 30 years ago and earn lower real household incomes and wages than they did 25 years ago.

    Needless to say, the lack of good jobs lies at the bottom of the wealth and income drought on main street, and this week’s April jobs report provided still another reminder.

    Trumped! Why It Happened And What Comes Next, Part 3 (The Jobs Deal)

    Note: Stockman is not a Trump booster but recognises why he is resonating with many of the public.

    There are (at least) 2 Americas — the middle class and working class heartland and the coasts and especially the sinkhole morass of greed, deceit, and short-sightedness that exists around DC: the media pundits, the “think tanks” that get funding from the Saudis, Israeli government, and the military-industrial-surveillance complex, the lobbyists that grease all the wheels, and the perpetual politicians who have never earned an honest buck in their life.

    The “Welfare State” Dems have scared the poor and ethnic groups into thinking the Repubs will take away their benefits (and maybe they would) — but in 30 or 40 or 50 years of democratic “welfare” and “War on Poverty” what has been accomplished? The slums in the inner cities (run for the most part by Dem mayors for decades) have only gotten worse.

    I don’t have a solution but I agree with those who say “throw the bums out”. And the DNC choosing the least honest, most distrusted, most disliked candidate in our lifetime — HRC — … what more evidence is needed?

    Sanders isn’t perfect by any means, but he was the most honest, least corrupted politician in a generation, and they threw him under the bus — especially the NYT, WaPo, and other “liberal” media. Bah humbug!

    And my brain almost exploded yesterday when I read some conservative pundit decrying Trump and saying how wonderful the Bush clan are, and how they “obeyed the law”. WTF? Torture… illegal wars–does that ring a bell?

    (Here endeth my rant)

    1. James Levy

      Hold on, buddy–I live between Springfield and Pittsfield, MA, and they and Troy, or Binghampton, or Bethlehem PA, or Bridgeport, Conn are as left behind as anyplace in “the heartland”.

      1. Northeaster

        Western Massachusetts is in complete economic free-fall. Once outside the 495 beltway, it is an entirely different world than inside of it and into Boston. I live in the tri-fecta of failure – The Merrimack Valley, with Lowell, Lawrence, and Haverhill living off whatever state aid is given. More housing is being built just to stuff as many poor humans as possible into one area, but pols think it’s the best thing as a sign of prosperity. /facepalm

          1. Will Nadauld

            Methuen carpenter here. Servicing Rich folk in and around Boston. Wages are great. Never ever get a call from a town outside 495. The immigrants in and around methuen and lawrence are hustling. I know several guys from this demographic working three full time jobs. White folks are struggling to adapt to outrageous prices and working class wages. Was the deciding vote for Bernie in Methuen primary. He won by one vote here. Now I am a trump supporter. Death before Hillary. Things dont seem that bad to me in the Merrimack Valley, But I will attest to the truth that all the work is hapopening in the wealthy towns.

            1. Peter Bernhardt

              Pretty much the same deal here. I live in one of those blessed coastal cities, SF, and every day when I go to work I drive past homeless encampments along the east bay I-580/80 corridor. It is a daily depressing reminder of the disgraceful course our country has been on for as long as I can remember. I’m just sick it. I understand your support for Trump, though I don’t believe for a minute he’s the solution. If not Sanders, I’ll cast my vote for Jill Stein in November.

              1. jrs

                Is L.A. the blessed coast? Well there are still some jobs not that they are that easy to get, most jobs are low paying, but the homeless problem is the worst in the entire nation at this point I think. Oh those privileged rich west coast cities … well for a few they are. They are mostly blessed if you are rich, if you are middle class it’s a struggle with no middle class lifestyle in sight, and if you are poor which seems the majority, you are one tiny slip away from homelessness.

        1. timbers

          Heard a portion NPR radio while in the car of a group of small towns in Western Ma that formed a co-op to get internet access to their area. Like think Governor has killed the idea at the moment (Comcast lobbyists must have gotten to him) but I gathered there is still hope based on NPR’s guest.

          Just sold my condo 13 ft above sea level on the ocean front in Quincy (not in the latest FEME flood zone map but I’m convinced it’s gonna be under water before I die) and purchased a home 127 ft above sea level in Brockton. Even in Brockton desirable properties sell the day they come to market (the one I bought did – the broker called me soon as he listed it and let me be the first to see it….my offer was accepted same day). In Quincy if you are in walking distance to the Redline, your property sells for over asking (looked at an adorable bungalow 38 ft above sea level priced at $389k that had 23 appointments day it was listed and sold for $419k). The Chinese are flooding into Quincy near the Redline, and read somewhere Quincy has the “largest” Asian community whatever that means (but that didn’t sound right to me).

          Brockton recently became plurality black (about 45% vs 42% white). My new home in Brockton (move in May 19) appears around 50-50 black. They appear middle-class with decent homes and cars. Being gay I’ve never been a neighborhood snob (I helped pioneer Dorchester, and now look at it) and don’t have kids so Brockton’s now bad school system is not a consideration for me.

          But I wonder what kind of appreciation I’ll get in Brockton vs Quincy. Both clearly depend on Boston for that. I make my living tending bar and working at events like weddings at a country club plus renting part of my house. Great money per/hour but very part time work so must be careful financially. Sometimes get interview for full time contract work as State Street and the likes and get to see all the Indians working their on work visas (or you can see them in Walmart walking back to their apartments in Quincy…having displaced U.S. citizens for work in Quincy and now competing with them for housing in Quincy, to).

      2. Ulysses

        The reason Binghamton is so desperate is that they were never fully compensated, for the “p” that was stolen long ago from the name of their city!

        You are right that there’s intense despair everywhere– even in New York City you can travel from the conspicuous consumption of Bryant Park to third world poverty on the 7 train.

        The problem, in Binghamton and everywhere else, is that we have very few replacements for the decent-paying jobs our awful elites have outsourced.

        I know several people in the Southern Tier who are involved in the growing craft-beer industry. They are lucky to have found a way to make some money. Yet, even if they all quadrupled in size they wouldn’t begin to make a dent in the huge unemployment/underemployment crisis plaguing their region.

        1. cyclist

          I’m familiar with the Binghamton area and enjoy the fact that one can now get a good pint of beer there. But since the 60-70’s all of these employers are either gone or massively downsized: IBM, Endicott-Johnson (shoes), Krohler (furniture), GAF (film), Link Aviation (flight simulators), and GE (avionics) along with numerous small machine shops and assembly operations. The economy now seems to revolve around heathcare for the seniors left behind, dollar stores, chain restaurants and the local branch of SUNY.

          1. polecat

            I live on the supposed ‘liberal’ west coast……..the Olympic Peninsula…… We,re still waiting for the economic benefits of the Greater Seattle Hipnesssians to blow some wealth our way… the wave hasn’t hit our shores as of yet…….

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              They are hip and they will also be smart.

              No one should blame parents for not gifting him/her genius IQ.

              “Too bad you are born dumb and can’t program like a world-class hacker.’

            2. Lumpenproletariat


              You’re supposed to be living in a view loft, enjoying lattes, and pondering the merits of various furniture styles. Living precariously is supposed to be the purview of the urban underclass. And since the media is always right, those people deserve to be there.

              The wealth of Seattle is disproportionately in the hands if those who have land and stock assets. There are a few professionals thrown in to embellish the myth of meritocracy. Once you leave Seattle and it’s eastern and northern burbs, the patina of wealth disappears completely.

            3. fresno dan

              Greater Seattle Hipnesssians
              your awarded the Bon Mot of the thread – that and 6.32$ will get you a small soy gluten free skim mocha frappuccino…..

          2. Ulysses

            Very true! Growing up in Ithaca many decades ago, we kids looked to Binghamton, Elmira, Syracuse, Rochester, etc., as places with more economic opportunity than our own small college town. Now IHS grads are looking much further afield for jobs: Boston, NYC, or leaving the Northeast altogether.

            1. cyclist

              Even Cornell acts like it would rather be somewhere else than upstate NY – witness their expansion in NYC… I love Ithaca and the Finger Lakes, BTW.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Lucky to work in the craft-beer industry.

          Even luckier to be their customers.

          Many save to support the industry. Many just have the money to pay more (for quality). Must be from inside 495. Probably arriving in their saving-the-planet electric thoroughbred cars.

      3. Jim Haygood

        A few days ago the WaPo published an article on “America’s Great Housing Divide,” showing the highly disparate trends in house prices since 2004, by zip code.

        To the extent housing trends proxy for household wealth and job growth, they are one indicator of the health of the economy.

        In the article is a little cameo for the eastern half of Massachusetts. Boston is yellow, signifying double-digit house price increases. As you go west of I-495, the shading turns a deep dark green, indicating an outright decline in house prices since 2004. The pattern mirrors the comment from Will Nadauld above.

        Same pattern applies around New York and D.C. … suburbs and exurbs suckin’ wind:


        1. Lumpenproletariat

          Even in the wealthy areas, many residents are mortgaged to the hilt and working absurdly long hours in the hope of having a windfall capital gain.

          That prospect seems increasingly slim when one realizes the prices are already sky high, interest rates can’t go much lower, and income (from actual work) isn’t great.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            When the tide recedes abroad, many rich immigrants with cash will lift those sky high prices even higher….perhaps out of the solar system even.

            1. Lumpenproletariat

              Lolz. Lifted straight from a real estate agent’s playbook.

              Citing the mythical all-cash immigrant buyer serves to give faint hope of getting rich off real estate and it allows ire to be focused away from the FIRE industry.

      4. oho

        Hold on buddy, I didn’t know neanderthals could type…..

        (I’m not making up the following quote)

        “Tom Paquin, a Cambridge, Mass. resident, voted for Rubio and provided what “might be the only Republican vote in this part of town.””Given Trump’s support in my state among the neanderthals in Western Massachusetts, I doubt it’ll make much of a difference, but I’m hopeful enough common-sense conservatives will rally behind the establishment choice, as vague a choice as it is with such a diluted field,” said Paquin. ”


      5. Pavel

        Thanks James, I do indeed stand corrected and I should have been more geographically precise. It is only the pockets of each coast that have especially benefited from the reign of the banksters and kleptocrats and oligarchs.

    2. Wat

      HRC isn’t an incrementalist — she’s a REVERSE incrementalist. Dems act like they’re going to respond to the Repugs, but all they do is normalize the repression and retrogression and disgust the electorate who then throw them out so the Repugs can take us the next step backward.

      1. Roger Smith

        As Frank says in Listen, Liberal, the Republicans created these policy norms and the Democrats rationalized them.

        If only I was a Rhodes Scholar with a law degree from Harvard… I might be a useful individual!

      2. TedWa

        Incrementalism increasingly is just turning the heat incrementally up on the pot. (frog in pot of water metaphor)

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Ominously, Trump is the only one not incremental.

          Something fast seems likely to happen under him.

          Everyone else is incremental. And it is possible it will be half done.

          Is a half-done job more damaging than a job not done at all?

      3. jrs

        this lesser evilism is going to lead to real f-ism someday for sure, that’s what voting to harm people does eventually (even if you harm them less than the alternative).

        Now Trump may or may not be our really scary right wing populist (I lean toward no but neither is he going to be good for anyone) … but if not now then eventually.

    3. Marc Andelman

      On the “patent bar” comment, Mark Twain said that a nation without a strong patent system is like a crab, it can only crawl sideways. The right to own patents is also in the US constitution itself. Software people hate patents, and, if patents have been taken too far in that field, this has nothing to do with patents for what has traditionally been called an invention.

      1. John Wright

        It is interesting you quote Mark Twain on patents as he invested considerable money in the Paige Typesetting machine and actually bought the rights to it..

        See http://twain.lib.virginia.edu/yankee/cymach6.html (“MT” = Mark Twain)

        ” Believing that there were millions in those prospects, he bought the rights to the machine outright in 1889, the same year the Yankee was published; within a few more years, the machine, as chief among a series of bad speculations, bankrupted him.”

        “Before it could be made to work consistently, however, the Linotype machine swept the market MT had hoped to corner.”

        Perhaps Twain eventually owned a patent, but it proved not to be profitable.

        Twain was an unsuccessful businessman, perhaps always dreaming of acquiring a worthwhile patent.

        1. inhibi

          I love how MT was always so much for patents…ironic really since he never invented anything.

          Its almost like he described, perfectly, the attitude of a modern day American Elite back in the Gilded Age: “Patents are great because they allow the wealthy to steal ideas from the thinkers”.

          Patents may have been OK a long long time ago. But nowadays, lets be honest: every single invention was built on the backs of a million other inventions, so nothing nowadays is really unique in ANY sense of the word. Patent law in America does much more harm than good. First of all, the amount and variety of patents filed nowadays is both absurd and daunting.

          Practically every large pharmaceutical company goes around the world sampling various plants and animals until it identifies a useful protein (‘usefulness’ is determined by comparing said protein to other known proteins to determine its effect on the human body), which they then derive in the lab and patent, regardless of whether they use it or not.

          In the automotive industry, patents are simply used to sue to the shit out of other companies. Half the patents in the automotive field are absolutely ridiculous, as in they would never really last up to any sort of scrutiny. I recall a patent for a spring loaded bypass that…wait for it…they THREADED. Yeah, the patent (held by Parker Hannifin) was literally taking an ancient mechanism and adding threads so you can screw it in. I mean how ridiculous is that?

          Design patents are also ridiculous. I never would have thought that a rectangle with rounded corners (iPhone) could be patented. Its not like Apple was the first to the scene. But of course, their legal department holds tremendous weight, hence the REAL use for patents: bullying the competition out of the marketplace, and ripping off the ‘small fry’.

          I do love how India has a ban on pharmaceutical patents. Crazy how cheap drugs are over there. Makes sense too. Why would you deny the others the right to manufacture or produce a product that has a direct benefit to humanity? Too bad Valeant has a lock on the license and importation of almost all of it.

          Source: married to a JD/PhD patent lawyer

          1. Julie Grimme

            Mesalamine (generic Asacol) I pay $84 for 800 mg 100 tablets vs US $1200 to $2000.

    4. JTFaraday

      I can’t read David Stockman. Uses “Keynesian policy” when he’s really talking about a “monetarist policy.” Drives me crazy. I’m not going to read someone who argues in bad faith. Really grinds that ax too, over and over again.

  2. James Levy

    Not bad, but overly optimistic. Like James Howard Kunstler on the economy, which he has predicted as collapsing for two decades but never seems to, I think the author underestimates the power of elites to adjust, suborn, and hang on. We are still too far from general immiseration for the people to go all-or-nothing on the system that is.

    And after whacking fellow academics yesterday, I have to point out that many are hostile to racism and sexism for the very good reason that both are terrible things. They are not part of a plot. They are sincere. What they miss is that these are far from the only ills of our culture/society, only the ones they see the most because of the milieu in which they operate. It is there obtuseness, or blindness, that is at issue, and when that vires to willful blindness then, and only then, do I think they can be denounced.

    1. ex-PFC Chuck


      . . many are hostile to racism and sexism for the very good reason that both are terrible things.

      Definitely true, but they make very good distractions from those who are running the shell game. “Look over there!”

      1. Chromex

        IF Mr. Levy truly believes that the economy is NOT collapsing, he ought to leave academia for a while and talk to the average non academic worker ( or look at the exploitation in academia for that matter of younger Phds with the “Adjunct” scam) and those who can’t get jobs as well as undertake a comparison of legitimate discourse about collapse that is occurring now compared to such discourse two decades ago. While Kunstler may be wrong on his timetable, he and other prophets sound a lot less crazy now than they would have 2 decades ago. Nearly one decade ago, this country, led by the federal reserve, embarked on an historically unprecedented bailout, rescue and ZIRP implementation that has resulted in growth that on its best days can only be described as anemic and on its worst days can only be described as dystopian. In 2005 anyone who suggested that this country would soon spend billions on rescuing then- hallowed institutions such as Citi, Goldman, etc and that this country would have ZIRP for 8 or 9 years would be consigned to the tinfoil crowd. All to no avail, result-wise with no end in sight. Moreover, since “the big dogs eat first” , the results of collapse can be analyzed by looking at the sitch in less “advanced” or “productive” countries. How is the situation in Europe compared to 2 decades ago? Bosnia? Greece? South America? These should be studied carefully as they will be coming to less prosperous areas of the US if they are not here already. Fake stock market stats and fake GNP will mean nothing as the Shadow Stats site demonstrates. Sure the elites can talk a good game but notice that none of them predicted Trump. The red pill is in its early stages but it is definitely having an effect.

        1. Barmitt O'Bamney

          The economy will be collapsing when rich people are going broke. They’re not as yet. They’ve discovered they can mint money from thin air and give it to each other to keep the roulette wheel spinning and the guests in chips. Everyone else, all those uninvited to their casino, are suffering – but that doesn’t matter. Our political system is designed to recognize and respond to the needs and desires of the casino players, the investor class. The rest of us don’t exist except as collective objects to push around, like piles of top soil for landscaping, or like garbage to be burned. When rich people are going bust, only then will you see the airbrushed mannequins on the TV news put on their best What I have to tell you is serious expression and speak of a terrible “crisis”. Until then, the political system will trundle on in its accustomed path. The rich can adapt to our deepening national discomfort in a variety of ways. They can move to another country with better scenery where they don’t have to look at us anymore while keeping their money back here. This is a good choice if you find visible poverty in this country depressing, but poverty in foreign countries to be “colorful”. Many will confine themselves within urban glamor spots dotted around the globe, or stick to places in the countryside much too picturesque and expensive to have peasants anymore. Or they can stay here and move their money away to countries where they are less likely to be asked to account for it and to pay their share of the maintenance. The patriots in this group will buy the most expensive imported cars to show their immunity to our national decline. Since their vast wealth makes them paragons of all American virtues, it’s only right and fair for the rest of us to recognize them as they pass by. The political class will continue cater to their choice either way, because that’s how they get paid. Notice that it’s only in the last hours of his two term administration that the Great Kenyan Socialist, Barack Hussein Obama, has noticed that there may be some tax dodging going on. He’s shocked – shocked! Why didn’t the NSA catch on to this? How could the CIA have overlooked all this money leaving the country? Like a few questions regarding 9-11, we may never know.

          You might say, Everything will be going great – never better! – right up ’til the end. But the end could take far longer to arrive than any of us here can afford. The elites may soon be in for a Big Surprise. Or the rest of us may be in for a boot stomping on a human face, forever. Based on recent developments I wouldn’t necessarily favor the odds of the first over the second outcome, just because it’s morally outrageous. Most of history is morally outrageous too.

        2. rexl

          Yes, I think we are in the collapse of post-industrialism and this collapse could go on for a hundred years, much longer than the consciousness of anyone living. We are still in the first part of this collapse, the first generation, “The Turning”, if you will, many of the factories infrastructure, buildings etc. are still standing, this will all end. What will come, who knows, who knows who will buy the stuff. Why don’t vehicles price reflect their globalization, for instance, a pick-up truck for $5,000 instead of sixty?

        3. tegnost

          not to speak for james but I believe he currently looks at the ivory tower from the outside and so has that perspective you wish for, and is also aware of the dissolutions around us in both visceral and intellectual ways

        4. Vatch

          Somehow the twisted psychopaths who run North Korea manage to stay in power. There’s a country that’s ripe for collapse and revolution, yet it doesn’t seem to happen. If the travesty of North Korea can remain standing, it’s a certainty that the U.S. oligarchs won’t spontaneously fall from power, for they are too good at playing the me first game. If the rest of us want to reduce the influence of the powers-that-be, we must take action ourselves. First and foremost: vote. By itself, that’s not enough, but it’s more than millions of Americans are willing to do.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            You’re right.

            After new hope, expect the empire of the rich to strike back.

            Be prepared.

          2. FortyYearsInThe UniversitySystem

            N.K. exists because China exists. The faux communism of N.K. is acceptable to the Chinese precisely because they want to maintain a buffer between themselves and the US controlled South Korea. When the Chinese cease backstopping the North Korean oligarchy the faux communist state will fall to the south. As China becomes increasingly less communist the threat level rises in N.K. and forces the oligarchy and it’s nominal “dictator” to become ever more bellicose. Note that I do not believe in the one man rule theory. The “dictator” (even a Hitler) is always just the frontman of an oligarchy.

        5. Code Name D

          When the Roman Empire collapsed, the result was the dark ages. How many centuries did that last?

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Some say it was not dark everywhere in the aftermath.

            A golden age arrived in Xian. And ancient wisdom thrived east and south of Constantinople. People no longer feared of being conquered by Latin men.

          2. VT

            The Eastern half of the Empire didn’t collapse. Apart from Italy, every locus of cultural or intellectual significance was in the Eastern half. There’s no obvious reason to think losing the hick half of the Empire should have fatally diminished the cultural and intellectual prospects of the remaining half.

            So if the Dark Ages sucked, Rome owns it, baby.

    2. VT

      I dunno.

      I can’t help but notice that the targets seem to very often be a thorn in the side of powerful right-wing interests–Penny Arcade when they took a swipe at Dick “informative murder porn” Wolf, the Mozilla CTO when he categorically refused to let DRM into the Firefox code base, Ted Rall when he slammed drone assassinations…it calls to mind the “particutions” of enemies of the regime in The Handmaid’s Tale.

      The SJW phenomenon seemed to appear of nowhere, nearly two decades after the PC wars had seemingly petered out of their own accord. The present dynamic looks uncannily similar to the disintegration of the ’60s left in the COINTELPRO era. Your colleagues may sincerely hate racism and sexism, but as academics they have a professional responsibility to know the history of how such noble sentiments have been subverted in the past.

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        The big problem with academics (those who self-identify as academics are almost all in the tenured/tenure track category, not the precariot) is that they are winners of the meritocracy and have a hard time with real class, i.e. actually empowering working people as opposed to opposing in mostly abstract ways the various isms, because the meritocracy itself is proof that strugglers are inherently less worthy. (If they were more worthy, they wouldn’t be struggling.) In fact, when it comes to concrete empowering working people in the education sector via unionization, they often come down on the wrong side.

        What academics are comfortable with is a liberal, extremely fragmented, non-profit sector, staffed by people like themselves and financed by capitalist foundations, that can continuously pump out proposals for incremental “reforms” that, unsurprisingly, have no political power behind them.

        So, even if it is not COINTELPRO, it is not likely to be in the vanguard of a re-empowered left.

        1. FortyYearsInThe UniversitySystem

          The concept of meritocracy is a pleasant fiction for insiders and a club to beat outsiders with. At bottom there is one rule: The Iron Law Of Oligarchy and it should be understood that merit has no consequence in a oligarchy. Everyone on the inside knows that “merit” is for the suckers and that Academe is actually full of pompous idiots. In the language of the street, it’s not who you know.. it’s who you..

    3. jgordon

      The economy is collapsing already. The process is going slow enough that it just seems normal to those if us living in the momoment. If you were to pull some non-elite person out of 20 years ago and into today all at once I guarantee you that he’d be stunned at just how wrecked everything is today.

      1. TheCatSaid

        Very true. See Eddie Conway’s interviews on The Real News Network. (He was jailed for 44 years for a murder he didn’t commit. He just got out a year ago. He was shocked to discover that Baltimore was in a much worse situation economically and socially than when he went in.)

        Here’s the first interview segment of 10–they are incredibly inspiring.

        And a very recent radio interview by Robert Scheer talking to Eddie Conway.

        I am totally in awe of this man. His wisdom, humanity, articulateness. . .

    4. Nate

      I dunno. I think that this article, as well as “The Smug Style of American Liberalism”, understate the importance that racism plays in explaining Trump’s appeal. If his support is all about disillusionment from being screwed over in the economy for forty years, then why isn’t everyone flocking to Bernie? His campaign is about as focused on that one issue as you could possibly imagine.

      One argument is that poor whites don’t want to support the Democrats because they’re vilified by the American left for conservative social positions, which maybe holds some water. That’s what “The Smug Style…” says. But that ignores the origins of the exodus of poor whites from the Democratic Party: support for the Civil Rights Act (among other things). You can’t explain their disavowal of the Democrats without race; Clintonian neoliberalism wasn’t until the 90s, and the exodus started in the 50s.

      Basically, Trump has to hold some appeal outside of the argument that people “want their jobs back”, as Mr. Shivani says. And let’s face it–the economy isn’t Trump’s core message. The no-bullshit, nationalistic, & xenophobic posturing is what people like about him.

      Not saying that we should ignore class-based mobilization. In fact, I’m all for toning back identity politics in favor of class consciousness. But let’s not go too far in the other direction idealizing Trump’s supporters… They have to be at least a little bit racist to not reject him out of hand.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        I beg to differ in that I know Hispanics who said they are voting for Sanders (this in California) but will vote for Trump if he loses. There are people who will vote for Trump out of “I have had it with the Dems and their lesser-evilism to sell me out” as well as the one position that Trump seems to be serious about, which is cutting back on our military adventurism and de-escalating the hostility with Russia.

        In case you missed it, for a lot of whites in rural areas, the only job opportunity for the young is military service. Those communities see the cost of the war, in terms of people in their families or friends’ families that have done 4 tours of duty, coming home with PTSD, amputations, weird toxicity illnesses (depleted uranium for Iraq vets, Agent-Orange-like symptoms due to trash burning for more recent vets). Support among vets for Trump is high, and that community is lower income and largely white.

        1. Left in Wisconsin

          What this shows is that the US is a big country and monolithic explanations are risky. From my informal, anecdotal conversations with Trump supporters, including a number of high school friends from eastern upstate NY (see discussion above, though Albany benefits from expansion of state govt), there is no question to me that racism is part of the equation. The belief that poor blacks unfairly benefit from govt programs is still widespread among working class whites, even though many who believe this will also acknowledge the dearth of good jobs (and blame elites for that). Among many, there is still a distinction between deserving poor (generally people of color) and undeserving poor (themselves).

          But clearly the Trump supporters who would otherwise go to Sanders are motivated by class concerns, not race. Indeed, the only monolithic explanation that has some validity is the centrality of class to Sanders’ supporters. But even here, because it is a very large country with a very wide variety of lived experience, people experience class differently.

          My shorthand is this: Trump supporters believe that good jobs have gone away out of elite selfishness or incompetence and believe, or at least hope, that Trump magic can “bring back” many of the good jobs that have been lost. Sanders’ supporters tend to be more agnostic on this analysis – some share it while others believe the changes are more systemic (this is how capitalists behave) – and believe that we need more fundamental political change.

        2. Nate

          Of course there is some diversity among Trump supporters, but I don’t think your anecdote is very compelling. Three months ago, 80% of Hispanics had “Total Unfavorable” opinions of Trump (source). May have changed somewhat since then, but you’re not going to convince me that Trump’s message is killing with nonwhite voters. It’s simply not true–he’s strongest among white males without a college education.

          Who, as I mentioned below, are some of the hardest hit by the economy. I completely agree that the jobs question is of vital importance; it’s just that you can’t ignore the race question. “Make America Great Again” = a desire for stable, well-paying jobs + white Evangelical Christianity. Again, if race doesn’t matter, then why don’t they just support Bernie?

          In my opinion, the avoidance of the race question stems from a well-intentioned, but ultimately problematic desire to empathize with the working class to the point where we ignore anything that’s unpleasant. Zizek talks about the exact same thing happening in Europe as people try to understand the hypernationalism sweeping that continent.

          The fact is, racism exists among the white working class in the United States. It might just be because their economic prospects suck and they need someone to hate on, but that doesn’t mean it’s not racism that Trump is mobilizing with ideas like keeping all Muslims out of the country.

      2. aab

        Chiming in to back up Yves. I think you are making a mistake in taking media coverage of Trump’s campaign and supporters at face value. Yes, he’s probably a heartfelt racist, and has some racist supporters. But Mrs. Clinton is clearly also a racist, and has PLENTY of racist supporters. Huge chunks of his rallies have nothing to do with race, but focus on how the government’s been lying about everything. Lots of his supporters say they believe he’s their only real hope of stopping it — because they see him as independent of the political system, and seem to recognize that he’s a classic trickster. Given how Bernie has been treated by the media and the elite generally, many people who might have supported him never heard about him. And for the rest — they see that they were right: a good man is being crushed, leaving them only the trickster on their side.

        Look, Trump says a lot of repugnant things. The odds of him governing as a bog-standard modern Republican are pretty high, and that would be pretty bad. But to act as if he is unusually racist is simply false. He’s merely more frank about it. And Clinton’s sorority girl racism may be more pleasing at cocktail parties, but the reality is that it is she who has facilitated the starvation, unjust jailing, murder and immiseration of black Americans BECAUSE they are black. She has facilitated the annihilation of countries filled with black and brown skinned people, and gleefully promises more. Muslim Americans know she is their enemy. So do immigrants from Central America. So people from Haiti.

        Racism is a toxic tool used by the elites to sever class awareness and unity of action by those they exploit and oppress. Both factions of the Money Party have used it for a long time, and still do. Different communities of color make different decisions about who to back to protect themselves. Some do seem to be deluded. Many are quite practical about it. And I think it is highly likely that if the General Election comes down to Trump vs. Clinton, many will vote for Trump, for the same basic reason many white people will vote for Trump. So in an odd way, he may end up uniting precisely the groups who have been kept apart by racism all these centuries. It wouldn’t even be the strangest part of this whole strange situation.

        1. Nate

          Not disagreeing with you on Clinton’s problematic policies, but she dominates among nonwhite Democrats. I just don’t think it’s true that people of color are going to start jumping ship to Trump.

          His largest base of support is white males without a college education and it’s hard to see that changing. Who, I should add, are the ones most hit by the changing economy. It’s not that it doesn’t matter. It matters a ton and should be more of a focus for Democrats.

          But it’s impossible to explain his appeal without race. What do you think “Make America Great Again” means to people? It’s not just about jobs, but returning to a time when white evangelical Protestantism was the dominant cultural identity.

      3. jrs

        Some of it is definitely r-ism, but I think there may be other cultural ways Bernie doesn’t resonate among Trump supporters (but it’s hard to say for sure because there was such a media blackout of Sanders! So we’re not exactly working from clean data here …).

        But it might be something like: many may still believe Bernie is all about free things/free stuff/whatever. To most people on the left, so what? What’s wrong with using social resources for healthcare or college? Many countries do this and are better off for it. The rich don’t necessarily deserve what they have (and that’s being generous assuming a few might) and inequality makes for a bad society etc. – you know the arguments. But I’m not sure the Trump supporters really see it that way, and if you are obsessed with everything being earned and just and the result of hard work, you aren’t failing because capitalism is … inherently unjust etc. but because of Chinese imports and so on. And free stuff is something you oppose but bringing back the job that was rightly stolen from you just your just desserts.

    5. Fiver

      James Levy,

      Trump is quite deliberately hitting all of the the very culture war issues Clinton has designed herself and her campaign to fight. When Trump went after Elizabeth Warren in dismissive fashion for no reason whatever, I concluded right then and there he was throwing the election – if he ever intended to get this far or not. He’s not a stupid man. Nobody at all serious about winning would continue to go out of his way to stay alienated with women – who Clinton barely hangs onto as it is.

      In one of the last events Clinton takes Sanders’ core issue re grotesque wealth/power imbalances, acknowledges only that there have been some ‘problems’ and promptly changes the channel to culture war issues, her only promises on anything her promise to keep fighting exactly those things Trump serves up.

      If you have not seen, check out Obama’s address to the WH Press Club – he plays Clinton’s game re Trump, but then skewers Clinton, who does not appear to be there, re her ‘tech savvy’ – as in her e-mail. And note the ending.


  3. MikeNY

    Great rant.

    Even Hillary’s “presumptuous” quip was lame. In a Twitter war with Trump, she’s hamburger.

    (BTW, as I watched the Indiana returns on CNN on Tuesday, Van Johnson was the only talking head who seemed to understand what was happening.)

    1. Strangely Enough

      The “presumptuous” charge, from a candidate so associated with “inevitability,” is irony too great to measure.

  4. Steven

    Trump is terrible, but he isn’t a Bush, he isn’t Ted Cruz, he isn’t Hillary. He humiliated some of the other clowns, like Rubio and Christie. Pick your poison.

    1. casino implosion

      Man am I sick of elites. I’m sick of the sanctimonious Ted Cruz/Erik Erickson Objectivist Christians and I’m sick of the sanctimonious identity politics/PC liberals. I lost all faith in the Democrats when Obama started angling for a Grand Bargain. With no Sanders as an option, I will happily, if somewhat nihilisticaly, pull the lever for Trump, and if that makes the loathesome Andrew Sullivan’s beard fall out, at least that’s something.

    2. Jason

      I’ll pick the poison that doesn’t involve voting for a shallow, backwards billionaire wanna-be fascist.

      I support Sanders, and I’ll vote for him in a heartbeat. But if he doesn’t get the nomination then Clinton, as bad as she is, is still preferable to the abominable Trump.

        1. jrs

          I think Clinton is only a wannabe billionaire, even if a real fascist.

          da da dum

          although I think a better case can be made for her being the lesser evil than Trump, but that’s saying very little. Jill Stein if we can’t get Sanders. Stein may be a homeopathy placebo that won’t cure our terminal cancer, but at least it itself isn’t hastening our death. Welcome to U.S. politics.

      1. perpetualWAR

        You can’t be serious in pulling the lever for Clinton? I certainly hope you are ostracized by other NCers so you leave this community.

        1. portia

          is this comment of Jason’s a test balloon to gauge reaction? I am just cynical enough to wonder…

          1. Massinissa

            He hasnt replied at all, but then, there are plenty of real people who drop a comment and dont look an hour later for replies. Impossible to know for sure.

        2. jrs

          well you know some of us think anyone seriously defending supporting Trump is also completely ridiculous, though worthy of ostracism is taking it a bit far. It would get really boring if all anyone said all day long was “ditto”.

      2. portia

        it’s still poison of perhaps more virulent potency. I am thinking you did not read the Salon article all the way through. I am not thanking you for still pretending that we have a “system” of “free and fair elections”. I am voting for Bernie whether he is on the ballot or not. Basta to “party unity” propaganda.

        1. Ed S.


          Write in Bernie if you want, but if there is an alternative (hint: Green); consider casting your vote that way. If the Green party (or any other) reaches 5% of the vote, they are eligible for Federal campaign funding. Helping establish a 3rd party use of your vote in a Trump v Clinton race.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            In the case of write in for Bernie (after her coronation, in that scenario), you are voting for one person.

            Voting for the Green party, if it’s Hillary vs. Trump, you are voting for an organized way (if not to everyone’s satisfaction) of dissent, of protest and of change, beyond just this year or a few more.

            1. neo-realist

              In the absence of the Greens building a movement on the local and state level, as they failed to bother with after every presidential election, voting for one in a national election feels akin to raising a middle finger in the distance that hardly anybody notices.

              However, I do hope that from the Sanders candidacy, with its considerable support in spite of elite pushback, we see progressive movements that begin to challenge the power of the establishment dems and republicans on the local and state levels.

            2. kj1313

              Yep me and my sister will be voting for Jill Stein. Unfortunately my father (in his 70s) has bought the lies told by the establishment.

            3. portia

              I am not voting for a “party”–this is where we diverge in our strategy, Ed S. and MLTPB. I am voting for an individual who has already spent 30-some years in the trenches, and has a bigger following than Hillary or Trump, in spite of rampant election fraud in several states. Adjustments are still being made in Bernie’s favor because of “irregularities”. Organized ways be damned, at this point. A message has been sent, and needs to be continued. Bernie is the best-equipped and trustworthy candidate running. I am sticking to my candidate. This election process is fucked, and I will not participate beyond voting for Bernie.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I don’t have enough Game Theory information is this case to say whether a vote for Bernie in the general election is or is not a vote for Hillary.

          It could be that it will also be a vote for Hillary.

          1. cwaltz

            In eleventy dimensional chess a vote for someone other than Hillary is a vote for Trump. In the real world a vote for someone else is a vote for someone else.

            We vote FOR President, not AGAINST, no matter how much folks like to scream Nader.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              A vote for someone is literally a vote for someone.

              Effectively, a vote for someone, say Candidate C, if he/she is not likely win, but the voter was thinking, before the vote, for Candidate B, might deprive B of victory and deliver the election to Candidate A

              In that case, a vote for C is effectively a vote for A.

              And, effectively, it’s not a vote against B.

              It’s a vote for A, in effect, though literally, it’s vote for C.

              1. cwaltz

                You’re making it way harder than it has to be. Just vote for the person you think would be the best President on the ballot. The “strategic” win or lose crap is how we got to having two parties that effectively govern from the right.

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  People vote what or whom they believe in.

                  Everything else, comments here, for example, is talk.

                  Talk about whether it is literal or effective.

                  Looking at the number of comments, people want to do, want to vote, and they want to talk.

                  For me, it’s thought provoking…if one votes this way, it effectively implies that.

        3. Jason

          “Less than 48 hours after Donald Trump locked up the Republican presidential nomination with a primary win in Indiana, Steven Mnuchin, a second-generation alumnus of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., threw his weight, and connections, behind him. Mnuchin will be Trump’s national finance chairman, looking to tap a network of bankers and hedge-fund managers for campaign cash. His goal is to raise $1 billion from donors of all stripes.”

          I’m really not sure how to respond to anyone who thinks voting for a New York billionare is a vote against the establishment. (Surely no one is stupid enough to believe anything he says?)

          Trump is very much like Clinton, only more generally ignorant and openly anti-science, and willing to pander to even lower and more despicable ideas than the rest of his ilk. Oh, and he’s been demonstrating an unhealthy lean towards totalitarianism, too.

          Voting for Trump because the status quo is broken and needs to be changed is the equivalent of chugging some drain cleaner because you have cancer and need chemotherapy.

          I would far prefer to see Senator Sanders or a Green Party candidate actually win. But I’m also truly frightened at the prospect of a Trump presidency, which to me seems likely to be a mix of all the worst elements of the status quo and a revolution against it, with none of the benefits. If that is actually a cunning plan by the establishment’s Clinton wing, then congratulations to them, because it worked.

          1. tegnost

            ok vote for one NY kajillionaire because the other NY kajillionaire is bad because they’re a NY kajillionaire, got it. (Mossack revealed they stash they’re appropriations at the SAME ADDRESS in delaware, so yeah, sure thing) .Vote for hillary and get gmo junk science, industry funded “science”, TPP is in it’s essence a totalitarian power grab. Gridlock is likely under trump, he won’t be king (can’t say that hillary won’t be queen, and she’ll be getting it done and if you truly are a sanders supporter then you will understand the odiousness of hillary’s likely course of action ) pandering to ideas also clinton stock in trade. your drain cleaner metaphor is proof that your best argument is hyperbole, just like trump, also that trump represents status quo is funny.

            1. Roger Smith

              Just look at all of Slick Willy’s republican policies. Hillary will likely do the same. I agree, at least we known every political hack in congress will fight Trump on mostly everything by nature of him being there.

            2. jrs

              Well whatever Trump may represent in a world of pure symbolism … where it’s true the symbolism may not be pro-establishment, I don’t know.

              But many of us focus on far more nuts and bolts practicalities. And the question is how he will actually govern, and there is definitely a possibility that will be status quo, though it’s hard to be sure.

          2. cwaltz

            Are you sure he’s “generally more ignorant?”

            It seems pretty ignorant to me to plan to decimate a country and then have no plan to put it back together particularly when the guy before you did that with pretty horrific results.

            It also appears downright corrupt to be giggling about it because your friends could make money off it and it wasn’t your family that would have to go over and mop the mess up and risk their lives.

            I’m no Trump fan but I’m even less of a Secretary Clinton fan.

              1. cwaltz

                Let’s compare that hairspray comment with this

                The episode sheds light on a crucial but little-known dimension of Clinton’s diplomatic legacy. Under her leadership, the State Department worked closely with energy companies to spread fracking around the globe—part of a broader push to fight climate change, boost global energy supply, and undercut the power of adversaries such as Russia that use their energy resources as a cudgel. But environmental groups fear that exporting fracking, which has been linked to drinking-water contamination and earthquakes at home, could wreak havoc in countries with scant environmental regulation. And according to interviews, diplomatic cables, and other documents obtained by Mother Jones, American officials—some with deep ties to industry—also helped US firms clinch potentially lucrative shale concessions overseas, raising troubling questions about whose interests the program actually serves.


                Remind me which is worse again…..the person who is pro science but essentially ignores the scientific evidence or the person who is anti science? The end result by the way is pretty much the same.

                1. Jason

                  For the sake of argument, ff the outcome is the same and we cannot change it, which message would you rather have associated with that outcome?

                  “Science and long-term thinking is good, never mind the corrupt hypocrisy.”

                  Or, “Fuck science, let’s celebrate ignorance!”

                  Both choices are bad and to be avoided if possible, but I think the second is even worse.

                  1. cwaltz

                    I’m not the one who created the choices and I won’t be voting for EITHER of those messages, by the way.

                    My choice is “Together we can make this country a better place.” (Sanders)

                    Unfortunately for you, the Democratic Party seems to be going with, “Science and long term thinking are good but we’re okay with corrupt hypocrisy if it lines our pockets.”

                    If Sanders isn’t on the ballot I’ll be voting for “She doesn’t have a chance but at least she isn’t a hypocrite or a hate monger” if it means Trump wins then so be it. Blame that on the Parties who insisted the options were hypocrisy and or a rejection of science, not the voters(which is why this was a rant against the ELITE to begin with.)

                  2. cwaltz

                    Oh and for the record, I do mind the corrupt hypocrisy.

                    You aren’t pro science if you ignore evidence once it has been presented to you, you’re as anti science as the guy who didn’t bother reading the evidence to begin with.

                    The larger difference is you wasted a whole lot of time and money on getting an answer you intended to ignore.

                  3. Lexington

                    False dichotomy

                    Paying lip service to the authority of science while rejecting its conclusions is no less ignorant than rejecting the authority of science on principle.

                    This is garden variety LOTE relativism.

                    You know, the kind of thing a Clintonista troll might indulge in…

          3. Jamie

            A vote for Trump may not be a vote against the establishment … but not because of his wealth. Recall Frederick Engels, a factory owner and capitalist, who worked with Marx and supported him financially.

            My take is the elites don’t want Trump or Sanders because they represent volatility and uncertainty, which is a cost. Hillary represents the stability of financial capital. She is a less volatile asset with higher returns … a no-brainier for the PTB.

            Sanders has done some good things for the ruling class, like his vote for the F35, his love of the drone wars, and his spewing of imperialist propaganda regarding the Ukraine and Syria; but alas, his Wall St. rhetoric excludes him from serious consideration by the PTB. If Hillary loses the FBI primary, a white knight like Biden will step in.

            Trumps naked attacks on free trade agreements also exclude him, unless he can cut deals with enough capitalists, thus rendering him as ineffective as an Obama or a Clinton, with the added baggage of being pro-life and pro-torture.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              It may be or it may not be against Establishment.

              We don’t really know, but just pondering. Your take is just as interesting as others’.

              Life is like that.

            2. myshkin

              I suspect you’re not but it sounds almost like you’re making a comparison between Engels and Trump.
              Just to be clear Trump’s CV includes Roy Cohn and ‘Fat’ Tony Salerno.

          4. jgordon

            You seem to be mistaken about something: chugging drain cleaner is a sure fire way to get rid of cancer. And that is precisely the reason a lot of us are supporting Trump. Supporting Clinton on the other hand is supporting cancer.

            1. cwaltz

              It’s the proverbial how would you rather die question-

              If the nation is determined to go over a cliff then I don’t a heck of a lot of difference between going off that cliff at the “incremental” 10 miles an hour than that “impulsive and unpredictable” 120 miles per hour.

              Certainly I’d rather not go over the cliff to begin with- however it appears that probably isn’t going to be an option thanks to the elites.

          5. Robert Coutinho

            Voting for Trump because the status quo is broken and needs to be changed is the equivalent of chugging some drain cleaner because you have cancer and need chemotherapy.

            This is my new go-to catch phrase! Thank you so much!!

            1. RMO

              I think it’s more like a choice between chugging drain cleaner or smoking ten packs of cigarettes a day while drinking irradiated water.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It’s comforting that he will not appease anyone.

          And it’s scary that he will not appease anyone.

      3. Massinissa

        News Flash: Theyre both incredibly rich and theyre both incredibly corrupt.

        What in gods name is the difference? Vote 3P

      4. Peter Bernhardt

        Come on folks, is a vote for Jill Stein really THAT quixotic given the state of the two-party system?

  5. EndOfTheWorld

    “The election of Trump would end the Republican party as we know it, but more refreshingly it would also end the Democratic party as we know it.” Right, and that’s the key to his popularity—most people, like me, are disgusted with both parties. Even more refreshingly, it would end the punditocracy as we know it. He uses the example of Andrew Sullivan, but the entire pundit class is scared to death of Trump, because his success makes everybody see just how useless and retarded the pundits are. When he first started, they laughed derisively that somebody could succeed without the blessing of the pundit priests. Now they look at The Donald with a combination of disbelief and rage.

    1. Praedor

      Cokie Roberts. NPR gives that sociopathic pundit roboton regular airplay so she can spill her vomit (“wisdom”) upon the masses. I AL MOST want Trump to win simply because it would cause stroke and heart attack on so many pundits like Sullivan and Roberts.

      1. Ulysses

        Cokie Roberts is vile, indeed. What is truly horrifying is that many bright, competent people take her seriously. The people who still aspire to join the ranks of our awful elites are like French provincials in 1788– who would have been thrilled to be invited to a party at Versailles.

        Our awful elites will continue to party until the chandeliers come crashing down, and the last drop of champers has been drunk. At that point some will try to make it to their hideaways in New Zealand, only to find that their limo-driver and pilot are AWOL.

      2. John Wright

        In the 1990’s I was sent to demonstrate equipment at a trade show in Las Vegas.

        They announced the show attendees would be treated to a special “This Week” performance.

        I watched as Cokie Roberts, George Will, Sam Donaldson and ?? walked to the stage and dropped into their assumed roles.

        It was “performance art” as they “debated” their, probably well compensated, positions.

        When the allotted time passed, they trotted off the stage.

        I find it difficult to not view the well-paid pundit class as other than performers with an expected output content, who collect their pay checks thinking, “If I didn’t do this, they’d find someone who would”.

        To judge from Roberts, Will, Brooks, Tom Friedman ….,if the performers do their jobs well enough, they have long careers.

        It works for them.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The pundits do the thinking for the little people, so the little people will not discover that they can do the thinking themselves.

          That’s their theory.

          1. Robert Coutinho

            Given the state of (non) funding for education, the “Pundits” may soon be correct.

        2. neo-realist

          I tend to see Fox News as right wing performance art of the highest caliber to the extent that it tends to be much more outrageous in its total lack of intellectual honesty and emphasis on the pretty yet vacuous blond female archetypes.

        3. Left in Wisconsin

          It’s simply “performance.” Not sure that it has any artistic merit or intent. Seems pretty ham-handed to me.

    2. Waldenpond

      Using Trump to collapse the R party is good strategy. The Ds have morphed wholly into the R party. Seems to me using Trump to collapse the D party is consistency in strategy. No you can’t guarantee what comes next, but the word socialist is no longer taboo and a big chunk of Ds and indies are claiming to be further left seems a good time for impact. The elite and media were basically trolling the public with Trump, they don’t like the public may troll them back by putting him in office.

      The elite won’t change until they are made uncomfortable.

    3. jrs

      It will end the blah blah as we know it. Do you really think its so easy to get rid of major ruling class intuitions? Without bloodshed or even people in the streets? Now it might cast the Republican party into temporarily amusing chaos, but that is a long way from ending it. It will rise again, like the phoenix from hell.

  6. Northeaster

    The Salon link brings us to a 2014 article about an “end of the world diet”. Is Yves trying to subconsciously tell us something?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      That was the link provided by Alternet, which is how I have the cross posting rights.

      Maybe Salon prefers linking to a different story? They do get the Google bump from any site link.

  7. John Merryman

    There is a particular physical dichotomy at work here. Efficiency is to do more with less and it has served humanity reasonably well since the dawn of civilization, but eventually it does become a black hole and radiates away virtually everything. Much as those two black holes were more efficient as one, but radiated out a huge wave of energy in the process.

    Life, on the other hand, is neither pure order, or pure energy, but some intricate combination thereof, much as social energy pushes out, as civil, cultural and economic order pushes in. So the “elites” are quite evidently becoming a scab on the wound and will peel off, as they insist on ever more efficiency in the production of capital. Which becomes ever more meaningless, as the debts backing it up become ever more unserviceable.

    While much of this is bad, on the individual level, a happy medium would be a flatline, if carried too far.

    They are not going away easily, but they will eventually be history.

    Youth always wins, but by the time it finally does, it’s old. Welcome to life.

    After Trump suggested renegotiating the debt, I’m waiting for his jet to suddenly have a serious malfunction.

    My version of Sunday morning rant.

    1. John Merryman


      The NYTimes recently ran an article on how his fleet of airplanes, jets, helicopters, is getting rather old, so we have been prepped.

    2. Robert Coutinho

      “We have done so much, for so long, with so little, that we are now capable of accomplishing anything with nothing.” A sign in my army unit, back in the 1980’s

  8. equote

    I’ll offer Gore Vidal’s one liner to sum up the rant and politics in the USA:
    “There is only one party in the United States, the Property Party … and it has two right wings: Republican and Democrat.”

    1. Russ Z

      Speaking of Gore Vidal who I am just now reading, “As it was in the beginning, ’tis now and ever shall be.” Our dear founders started out with the same attitude toward the demos that Andrew Sullivan now espouses. Only property owners, who have a vested interest, shall be allowed to vote. Since the poor guy who chops wood or builds houses does not have the time to spend in the legislature, those with lots of rent-producing property get to run things. Scalia was spared seeing the founders’ dream “gang aft awry.”

      1. Jagger

        Our dear founders started out with the same attitude toward the demos that Andrew Sullivan now espouses. Only property owners, who have a vested interest, shall be allowed to vote

        You have to bear in mind the times. Giving anybody the vote in the 1700’s was pretty revolutionary. For centuries, Kings were born to rule and everybody else were their subjects. So lets not give our founders too hard a time for not having a 21st century outlook on voting rights.

        1. MED

          The appraisal district gods, are thinning out the wood choppers. Appraisals up +10% a year, while wages, if lucky 1 to 2 %.

  9. Paul Hirschman

    Happy Mother-fuc*ers’ day everyone! (You know…our Nanny State Leaders)

  10. craazyman

    who gives a shlt anymore wat some hack writes in a magazzine.

    I don’t want half the world coming through the Mexcian border. But if they’re hot women they can come in. they don’t whine and compain about one piece of nonsense after the other the way Ivy League women will. can you belive the shlt they complain about? A guy in a sports bar watching football and drinking beer just wants to get laid and all the sudden its “”patriarchal mysogynistic anti-feminist homophobic transgender oppression”. But if there’s a hot muslim woman, you’re not gonna hear any of that. she’s just glad to be here and she can cook! they have goood food, that’s for sure. And no laundry washing in the river with one of those body suitts with eye holes/ We have washing machines. You put quarters in and you come back in half an hour and it’s clean.. In the meantime you can do whatever, even Yooutube!

    The ivy league women better watch out because their little act is gonna get old on them. One day thhey’ll think “Where’s my guy”” annd he’ll be with some muslim or some hindu who can cook and doesn;t whine about nonsense. She’s just glad to have a man and a machine for the clothes. (I mean you gotta be buff and clean and be a man, you can’t just show up and expect action because you’re there dude. You gotta try)..

    So maybe they better think twice about Mr. Trump. He may be their best friend. Their BFF. What you need is for Trump to make a deal with Sanders and be the VP. Anything can happen when you’re a business man. That’s the good thing about Mr. Trump is he can deal and forget about it.

    I don’t know what to do with the muslim guys though. Faak. Maybe if they ivy league women take them, they can come in. Because after a few weeks of the transgender homophobic patriarchal oppression nonsense, they’ll be on the next plane back..

    Fukk. Why is this so complicated? Don’t read these magazines and these dudes who just rant and have nothing to say. Especiallyy when there’s Youtube, why waste your time?

    1. craazyboy

      Yeah! And Mexican women respect their elders! None of this irrelevant nonsense like “You’re old enough to be my grandfather!” WTF does that have to do with anything? As long as we’re both old enough to drink and old enough to vote in the country of our choice, that’s all that matters. Some of them can dance better than Ivy League women too. White Ivy League chicks can’t dance worth a Tubman.

      1. craazyman

        i’m not thinking about me as much as the younger dudes out there who need a break from all the nonsense. can you imagine washing clothes in a river wearing a sack with eyeholes when all it takes is 7 quarters? it”s no wonder they want to come over the border by the millions and invade us in our towns and homes. I wouldn’t feel any better if they were Aztecs or Incas, but if they’re hot and like backyard BBQs and pool parties that should be OK.

        If Mr. Trump builds the wall big enough he can make it a destination resort, with condos shops bars bistros restaurants offices and view of the desert and Rio Grande. that would create jobs and nobody would want to leave! two problems solved.

        I’ve given Bernie $200 so far. Probably the best $200 I ever spent. Certainly better than some of my stock trades, that’s for sure.

        1. craazyboy

          As long as all the Wall workers have green cards, then it’s all legal and kosher. Somebody will have to design it and manage the construction, but we got H1-B visas for those people.

          We have a golf resort already on the US side here. It doesn’t seem to be doing too well, even tho it has a really nice golf course and they only charge $40 for a 18 hole round! Hard to do anything nowadays for $40, let alone 4 hours of golf. Hope Trump does some market research before putting more resorts in. Seems to be a lack of “demand”, or rather “lack of paying customers”, as low information, non-economics literate laypersons may say.

          But that’s why Trump needs Bernie and Professor Kelton. If they combine the Wall Resort public-private partnership with a BIG jobs program and perpetual funding – at least some of those jobs could be saved.

          1. HopeLB

            Trump could make it a wall of public housing, arm every resident, install little look out windows on the Southern side. Occasionally have a Reality TV Show called Amnesty Hours, where US citizens race job seeking Southern Americans to the top via climbing walls. Then have a series of contests like strawberry picking, bricklaying, child care, landscaping etc.. Still haven’t worked out the reward structure other than the “illegal” is given citizenship.

            1. craazyboy

              The Mexican government would go in half on that too!

              But Trump should negotiate that 1st generation US borne citizen Mexicans can get Mexican citizenship, so they can get low cost public Wall apartments too. It’s only fair, as some may still choose to live with their parents.

              This is an exciting idea. We could create a 1500 mile long, one block wide city. That would get in the Guinness Book of World Records for sure. We’d be famous!

              We got a reward structure for Mexicans already. Join the Army (boot camp on south side of Wall). Enlist for 4 years and afterward they pay half your college tuition. Then you only need to kick in $50K. Got student loans at 8% to cover that. Next thing you know, your grand kids may someday have a better life in America!

              1. Synoia

                A long house – as was built in the Pacific NW. I like it.

                Bridges in Europe used to contain home and shops.

                1. craazyboy

                  AFAIK, it still rains in the Pacific NW. I’m still thinking thru the plumbing issues for The Great Wall City.

              2. craazyman

                why should China have the world’s greatest wall?

                that makes no sense to me. It’s not very high for one, and it was made hundreds of years ago and there’s not much to do when you get there.

                It should be a cake walk to build a better wall than China’s and have The World’s Greatest Wall right here in America. If we make this a joint project with Mexico it can be a matter of national pride for both nations. It would be better than Disneyland and it would employ 10s of thousands on each side.

                1. craazyboy

                  Dunno. It would be an admission that Commies are better at keeping Mongolians out than Capitalists are at using cheap Mexican labor wherever they can be exploited. Maybe that sounds like a plan, but you have to admit, a rather cynical one. Not that the Wall would generate superior internal rate of investment return for the US public vs. other possible approaches.

                  We could have the Galaxy’s Greatest Wall, if we plan this right. I know above I said 1500 miles and 1 block wide, but in reality, before GWB instated passport checks at the border, we used to have a 10 mile “Free Zone” on both sides of the border. That’s 20 miles wide in total. Think what Trump could do with that much acreage to develop! It would be the Galaxy’s Greatest Wall City – and be-utiful too! It would have all the real estate stuff regular cities have as well. I hope they don’t forget to put in airports. At least in Texas. Any major Texas city has to drive at least 200 miles to get to the border.

                  The water situation here is sorta nagging me, however. Last time I drove past the Colorado River, it ended at the Mexican border. Sorta curly cued around some farms this side of the border – then nothing! I heard once they don’t call Mexicans “Wetbacks” in Texas anymore, but maybe that’s because Texans are trying to tone down the racist thing. But I think I’d want to take a look at the Rio Grande once, before committing much to the Great Wall Plan. It’d be silly to have a zillion pounds of dry concrete and no water to mix it with, for starters.

                  1. Robert Coutinho

                    Well, back in the day (early 1900’s iirc), they were developing a system to desalinate and distribute fresh water throughout the Sahara using solar power. It went away due to petroleum becoming plentiful. If they could do it then, we could do it now. Take the water from both sides (Pacific and Gulf of Mexico). This can work!

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          That 4 year Ivy League education is as free (one day in the future) as the 2 years of community college that many ( not smart to get grades to go beyond that) will get.

          But luckily, the high IQ you inherit from your parent is tax free, whereas, and justifiably, the excess money the rich inherit from their parents should be heavily taxed (if not now, in the near future).

          And the geniuses usually rub it in your face that they didn’t even have to study hard to ace the test.

          The arrogance of smart people is just too much.

          If college is to be free,

          1. it should be mandatory (like k-12, which is free and mandatory)
          2. the less smart should be able to access the best universities just like the really smart.

          That is, if you really desire MIT, with your 2.8 GPA, but you’re really sincere and have a good heart, you should be priority #1.

          1. KurtisMayfield

            They are arrogant because the average GPA at Harvard is like a 3.9 and they think they deserve it. Its like checking off the box for them

      2. Peter Bernhardt

        Pretty funny stuff, dude. We have to keep our sense of humor in these grim times. Thanks.

    2. Iron John

      Right? Why do these ivory tower eggheads still complain about racism and sexism all the time? How much more evidence do they need that white men are the pinnacle of humanity? The winners who are sick and tired of the whiners? Make way for the winners already, jeez.

    3. perpetualWAR

      I’m sorry I am on the other side of your rant. I’m all for hot Latin men crossing the border. They seem to love their “honey do” lists, actually rather than having to write them, the items are already fixed pre-list! They can scramble up any rickety old ladder and when they’re done they will fix the rickety ladder as well.

      What’s more hot than sweaty brown skin if it’s actually working hard on fixing the gutters? Nothing in this damn world.

      I say build the wall, but with an exit door for the white men who complain about everything other than scratching their balls.

      1. jgordon

        I’m absolutely not in disagreement at all. I honestly feel sorry for the men who stay in America looking for love when it’s so much better just about anywhere. But at the same time I’m thankful that they’re willing to stay to take the hit for the team.

      2. cwaltz


        I used to teasingly tell my husband that I could make a strong argument for polygamy with that honey do list-there never seems to be enough time or money to finish the darn thing. Then again, I told him that I’d be good with him getting a second wife if it meant I could bathe in peace at least once a week instead of always being interrupted by kiddos(so I did my own share of complaining.)

        Oh and I do agree with you that there is nothing hotter than a man giving his everything to make his woman happy and doing it cheerfully rather than grudgingly- yummy caramel skin or not.

    4. jgordon

      Haha that’s pretty funny. I saw somewhere yesterday that Trump had just turned the Republican Party into the party of alpha males and the women who like alpha males while Hillary has successfuly turned the Democrats into transgendered betas. Now granted there is nothing wrong with being transgendered betas, but they may not be the most winning political strategy.

  11. tommy strange

    This is great. One good thing about this election is that it is making people confront the history of the democratic party, and then drawing a line…in anger…and in educated exasperation at their arrogance.

  12. mad as hell.

    The hope I have is that Andrew Sullivan reads the article in it’s entirety.
    The wish I have is to see him read it.

  13. Carol Ball

    I support Sanders but will vote for Clinton because she believes in
    global warming. Without a healthy planet this talk of revolution
    means nothing. I realize that it is probably too late but I cannot
    vote for Trump who believes it is a hoax.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Clinton is a huge supporter of fracking, which produces large amounts of methane, as well as jeopardizing potable water, our most scarce resource, and producing earthquakes. In other words, her acknowledgment of global warming as real does not translate into the needed level and type of government action. Her incrementalism will keep us on a path to 2 degrees+ Celsius increases in temperature.

        1. flora

          Well, Billy was always feeling your pain, when he wasn’t feeling for your wallet.

      1. polecat

        I think we might be beyond stopping whatever climate changes are to occur……….It’s all about mitigation going forward…….

        I don’t think humanity is ready to step up to the plate…….it would mean the end of global industrial society……

        and yes..h clinton is not the solution!

        1. Robert Coutinho

          I think we might be beyond stopping whatever climate changes are to occur……….It’s all about mitigation going forward…….

          I have been saying this for years! If the idiots will not stop heating the planet up, at least get ready for the aftermath!

    2. Massinissa

      Oh please. She may ‘believe’ in it but she wont do anything to stop it. Who cares what she ‘believes’ if she isnt ready to take serious action?

    3. John Wright

      I can visualize President Clinton vigorously taking on Climate Change.

      Will she give a speech and say to the CO2 producers, as she did to the financiers, “Now cut that out”?

      See Clinton’s Keystone XL history from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keystone_Pipeline

      “On June 23, 2010, 50 Democrats in Congress in their letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that “building this pipeline has the potential to undermine America’s clean energy future and international leadership on climate change,”

      Clinton did eventually act politically, when she was no longer SOS, and “In September 2015, Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton publicly expressed her opposition on Keystone XL, citing climate change concerns”

      It took her 5 years of studying the issue…

      If Clinton KNOWS climate change is a serious concern and does little, maybe it is better to elect someone (Trump) who might be pushed into doing something because others do not expect him to lead the way.

      After all Richard NIxon established the EPA.

      BTW, the wikipedia link has that there already is a Keystone Pipeline, the Keystone XL (Extra large?) was to be a larger diameter shortcut portion.

  14. lyman alpha blob

    Nice rant!

    A minor quibble with this bit – “…all that Plato you read!—was hardly ever put to worse use…”

    I believe Plato would have agreed with Sullivan wholeheartedly. Plato was no fan of democracy and posited the ever-elusive “philosopher-king” as the head of his utopia. Plato was much more interested in his ideal solids rather than those that existed in the actual grubby reality much like the elite technocrats of today are interested in supposed rational actor consumers rather than real people.

    Plato’s Socrates was executed for corrupting the youth but similar to Al Capone being nailed for tax evasion rather than his much more serious crimes, the Athenians’ real beef with Socrates was that he was undermining their democracy by encouraging those who would overthrow it. Old muckraker IF Stone makes a great argument to this point in his book ‘The Trial of Socrates’.

    In my book Socrates was just about the biggest blowhard history has had the misfortune to remember because taking him seriously has produced the likes of Sullivan. Give me Diogenes any day. When Alexander the Great approached Diogenes one sunny day as he was sitting in his barrel to offer him any favor in the world he could grant, Diogenes replied ‘How about you step aside and stop blocking my light.’

    1. John Merryman

      Actually authoritarian rule is the most efficient. Since it is only one person making all the decisions, there is no controversy. When they decide all those extra people are superfluous, then it causes problems. So they have to appeal to those who really like order to get rid of those who are disorderly and it settles back down for awhile.

      If you want to get rid of authoritarianism, first you need to get rid of monotheism. Having a religion where one old guy is in charge, validates political models where one old guy is in charge.

      Both Democratic Athens and Republican Rome evolved under pantheistic religions. Having the Gods argue about everything is a good foundation for having people argue about everything.

      Anyway, a spiritual absolute would be the essence from which we rise, not an ideal from which we fell.

      1. portia

        yes, we need the Gods again, to make “arguing” divine. when is the last time discussion was allowed in our hallowed halls of gubmint?

    2. jgordon

      Socrates was a great and noble person. In life he was entirely inoffensive and humble. It was his bastard student Plato that said a bunch of dumb crap constantly and thus ruined Socrates’s legacy. Socrates never asserted anything nor espoused any sort of philosophy. He only ever asked questions and pointed out logical inconsistencies.

      1. myshkin

        What we know of Socrates comes through his students, Plato and Xenophon and accounts of his contemporaries because Socrates couldn’t be bothered to write it down. Too busy dialoguing and making others look like fools, leading finally to the hemlock cocktail.
        There is something to be said for Diogenes and Epicurus as well.

  15. dots

    “You won’t be able to take on Trump because you do not speak the truth…”

    That’s the problem with any strategy involving the of repeating lies often enough that they become accepted. While they might become accepted, they still won’t ever be true.

  16. Ron

    What the author misses is that the World War Two generation has died and with it has gone the basis for the postwar political establishment. Obama was the first clue but everybody on the left and right has viewed his election in racial terms. Throw in the rise of the Tea Party which also reflects the demographic decline of the World War Two generation as a political force. The generation that created the elites and the American Way are dead.

  17. Ron

    Dumping Henry Wallace the three time liberal VP for Roosevelt and putting Truman as the VP back in 44 is the most decisive elite decision in our lifetime. It generated the Cold War and entire postwar military industrial buildup and created the world view dominated by both political parties throughout our lifetime. The author’s focus on the political players today is a good indication that she has little knowledge of American Political history beyond a flaming dislike for Hilary.

    1. Vatch

      Minor quibble: Henry Wallace was Vice President for only one term, Roosevelt’s third term. John Nance Garner was VP during Roosevelt’s first two terms.

    2. Left in Wisconsin

      Maybe yes, maybe no, and even then not purposely consequential but only because Roosevelt died. Even Truman vetoed Taft-Hartley, only to be overridden by a rightwing Congress. But it sure would have been interested to see how Wallace governed, to see if as President he would have really taken on the military and business establishment, which would absolutely have led to an all-out war against him by them, and to see how things might have shaken out.

    1. cwaltz

      The author is banking on the fact that eventually we’re all going to see it.

      Once Trump is elected, everyone will know the emperor has no clothes once and for all.

      That’s why he’s proclaiming that the DNC and RNC elite are toast.

  18. Norb

    The pundit class is running scared because the utter contempt that the elite truly feel towards the working class and poor is finally coming out into the open. People’s true nature is exposed under duress and as we enter these difficult times, the elite cannot hide their misdeeds.

    In America, our government has been putting people to the sword for decades, all under the false pretense of spreading democracy and protecting the average citizen from harm by those-“who want to destroy our way of life”. As people’s lives are destroyed from within the countries borders by lack of care and opportunity, they finally understand that they have been played for fools. That is what has changed.

    If one steps back from the cultural issues that divide us as one people and a nation, it isn’t difficult to begin a conversation based on finding ways to alleviate suffering. If the goal is to make people’s life better, you begin to see the abundance of this world in a different light. The elite view is exploitation and contempt for the weak. The elite are so ensconced in their fantasy world they have no idea of the level of discontent that they have wrought.

    The difficult part lies in directing this flow of discontent. The emergence of both the Trump and Sanders campaigns have laid bare the divisions facing us as a people. They are illustrations of what IS possible. Seeing the elite scramble to reform their lines of attack against this popular uprising is revealing the true nature of the power structure upon which our society is based.

    This is an amazing time in history. Millions-Billions- of people go about their business daily while we are actually already fighting WWIII. This war has evolved to the point where the actual combatants are becoming clearly defined. It is not one nation against another. It is the elite, the 1%, against the rest of us. The U.S. was the clear victor in WWII. Industrial might and a strong ideology of freedom turned the tide. But that ideology has been betrayed ever since.

    We are in the process of choosing sides for the next great phase in the battle for world supremacy. I don’t think that statement is hyperbole. What is Western Civilization if not one long chain of conquest and expansion. The only sphere left to conquer is the economic sphere and as the rise of inequality demonstrates, we are well along the path to some form of unipolar rule. The sovereign and the subject. The master and the slave

    The pundits are nervous because they can no longer pretend to be some objective bystander to the events of the day. They are courtiers of the elite class who must openly declare their loyalty or loose their position. They are storytellers and people are starting to stand up and walk away. Trump is the carnival barker who has lured them away.

    The leadership that provides jobs, economic security, and hope for a better world will take these masses of people along for that journey whatever it my be. The elite journey will surely entail more war and destruction laced with loads of false promises. It is up to us to say no to that plan and act differently.

    1. portia

      the final looting of the West has become apparent–they went too far. will the pundits survive the final cut?

    2. cnchal

      . . .They are courtiers of the elite class who must openly declare their loyalty or loose their position. . . .

      Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone coined a perfectly accurate and insulting phrase for those courtiers of the elite.

      Ball garglers

    3. akaPaul LaFargue

      The emergence of both the Trump and Sanders campaigns have laid bare the divisions facing us as a people. They are illustrations of what IS possible.

      Trump is the carnival barker who has lured them away.

      …so how to characterize Sanders? . . . Socrates?

      1. Norb

        I have to agree that the really important stuff will come after Sanders. Same with Trump. Current events have the feeling of revealing a crack in the elite armor. How well and deep a wedge can be driven into that chink is anyones guess. Its easy sitting behind the computer watching the events unfold, but sooner or later we all will be forced into activity.

        When events begin to unfold, the momentum will carry everyone along very quickly.

        I think it is very important, and significant that people do not vote for Clinton under any circumstances.
        No one can predict the future so every argument to the contrary is delusional or intentionally deceitful in its nature. We are at the FDR moment. The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. A vote for Clinton is a vote for failure and subjugation.

        Divide and conquer has to end.

        1. nycTerrierist


          I’ve been wearing my ‘HILL NO’ button. As a feminist of a certain age,
          I feel it’s my civic duty to represent!
          I’ve never been one to sport political buttons before, but it has come to this…

          1. Norb

            It’s the little things that add up over time to make an impact.

            I’ve started to wonder if a certain sort of dress might have a greater impact at spreading some sort of effective message. An expression of solidarity and connectedness. We all unthinkingly walk around with corporate logos emblazoned on our bodies, what if some article of clothing could be used to express dissent? Or on a more positive and proactive mode- symbolizing a new beginning. In my younger years I used to scoff at individuals branded by certain dress, but in my older days ,I’m not so sure any more. There is wisdom embedded in a form of identification.

            I’ve never worn a uniform but the power of symbolism is apparent and has a long and varied history. I don’t know if these things have an organic beginning but it needs serious consideration. When traveling, I see the Amish waiting for their Amtrak connections and their presence is unmistakable. Modern citizens blend into an uncoordinated mass of consumers- how convenient and revealing.

            Instead of using branding and marketing to sell a bunch of unnecessary crap, branding for supporting a movement.

            1. perpetualWAR

              Like my tshirt that says
              “Revolution is not polite” with a graphic of a guillotine. I think that’s pretty straight forward.

          2. Robert Coutinho

            Okay, but I intend to blame you if Trump gets in and places three die-hard conservatives onto the SCOTUS.

            1. cwaltz

              Oh my goodness, you mean he might appoint someone like Merrick Garland.

              Oh wait, you said Trump, not Obama.

  19. Ian Ollmann

    I feel that the vilification of the elites is overdone here. They do spew poison and attempt to subvert the system left and right, but I have trouble actually attributing their success to their own efforts. The insecurity of the bottom 2/3 (pick a fraction) is in my opinion the natural result of money flowing down hill — not Reagan trickle down economics, but rather the unprecedented enrichment of the vast unwashed masses of poor in other countries as a result of finally being able to compete on a globalized level playing field, and the industrial revolution finally arriving for large segments of the world. No old style liberal could have dreamed of a poverty reduction program so grand! Just as the rich poor gap is increasing in this country, globally it is going down.

    This is all paid for on the backs of the developed nations’ underclasses, because they traditionally did the jobs now performed by the underclasses the world over. In the fullness of time, this will sort itself out, but probably not for a few generations, and not before the (comparatively) overpriced low skill western laborer has been fully retired out of the system. At that time we will have to sort out how to support western quality of life expectations for 10 billion people.

    Take heart, eventually the robots will put us all out of jobs and the entire economy will belong to their owners, for what good it will do them.

    1. tegnost

      money is not water and does not “naturally” flow anywhere.
      This is quite the statement here
      “the unprecedented enrichment of the vast unwashed masses of poor ”
      It’s the best of all possible worlds dr pain gloss.
      The notion that all but the elite in america need to sacrifice in order to “enrich…the unwashed masses…”
      is BS. And it’s all paid for? On the backs of the people who were brought here to break the back of the working class (as I recall, unions and taxes were making it impossible for the rich to survive and now they basically have all the money.) We also don’t have underclasses, we have citizens, as in all created equal, and when the robots do all the jobs there won’t be an economy. Also, 10 billion people? really? There are limits to growth. The western quality of life you’re talking about is debt and desperation and that’s what you’re trying to sell in this pablum. Listen to yourself, money is gushing downhill? When lobbyists change laws to favor their businesses at the expense of the population that is success by their own efforts. Basically every line of your comment is baloney.

    2. JustAnObserver

      How much will we have to pay the robots so they can buy their own output ?

      1. Synoia

        We will pay the robots in:

        – Maintenance
        – Energy both for manufacture and operation.
        – Short lives – no 40 to 50 year working life for robots.

        It is a myth robots are inexpensive. They are not.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Robots will do all the work during the day, and be even better than Mata Hari at night.

    4. Synoia

      the unprecedented enrichment of the vast unwashed masses of poor in other countries as a result of finally being able to compete on a globalized level playing field, and the industrial revolution finally arriving for large segments of the world.

      Bullshit. Tell that to the Africans.

      1. craazyboy

        …Mexicans, Chinese, Indians, SE Asians, Bangledheshi underwear makers…..I’m probably missing some that would like to hear the news. Oh yeah, ME black gold pumpers. I’m sure there’s more.

  20. ke

    Having a dream is good, pursuing that dream is better, and fulfilling that dream is best, but before you begin dreaming find a compliment spouse to share a dream with, because there is no other bridge to the future, despite the cacophony of get them before they get you gossip to the contrary.

    You will never get to the to be without beginning at the as is abutment, the majority mesmerized by psychologists, geneticists and their technology, all built to prove that you cannot exist without the herd, when the opposite is true, precluding your future, and ultimately theirs as well. And if you should be so successful, continue forward, because as you can see, the majority will immediately occupy your bridge and attempt to charge you a toll.

    You are going to get your chance. If it is Trump, hold his feet to the fire and never let up, with his own Art of the Deal. Else, don’t look back. As you can see, they are all envious of what has been built in the Middle East and China, on the backs of their slaves, and the subjugation of your future. An empire can only devolve, seeking that which is cheap and shiny rather than investing time to uncover value.

    Without independent power generation, in.a manner that extends rather than shorts photosynthesis, dependency on growing poverty is the only possible outcome. The rest is the dress.

    1. Lumpenproletariat

      Kinda difficult to hold Trump’s feet to the fire when we didn’t rebel against Reagan, Bush,Clinton, W Bush, and now Obomber.

      I predict more distractions over some obscure identity politics scandal, more celeb gossip, war against a glass jaw minnow, more demonization of immigrants, minorities and poor people, and hopeful economic indicators from the likes of Tom Friedman. In short, nothing will change unless the mass of nobodies becomes informed, grows a brain and marches down Park Avenue with torches and pitchforks.

      1. Blondinka Florida

        I predict a massive false flag event that will tower over 9/11, before the R convention. Remember, Nostrodamus said Obola would be our last president. What comes after? Martial Law? All the signs are leading to it.

      2. Norb

        The old white farts are dying out so it is very significant that the youth vote falls squarely behind Sanders and his ideas.

        The election of socialist Khama Sawant and her successful re-election for a seat on the Seattle City Council in the face of strong moneyed interests is a model for the future. Pitchforks and torches not needed. Just the will to break away from a failed ideology and embrace a different vision for the future- and work at achieving it.

        The elite threaten to burn the whole society down if they don’t get their way. How pathetic. Falling into the trap of armed conflict plays into their hands. More effective is to reject the goods they are selling and spend your energies elsewhere.

      3. rickC

        actually your comment reminds me, lump, of a poem by the great Carl Sandburg
        Essentially until people wake up and see what is happening to them…the same old same old status quo will win. If we do wake up though…

        I am the People, the Mob
        Carl Sandburg, 1878 – 1967

        I am the people—the mob—the crowd—the mass.
        Do you know that all the great work of the world is done through me?
        I am the workingman, the inventor, the maker of the world’s food and
        I am the audience that witnesses history. The Napoleons come from me
        and the Lincolns. They die. And then I send forth more Napoleons
        and Lincolns.
        I am the seed ground. I am a prairie that will stand for much plowing.
        Terrible storms pass over me. I forget. The best of me is sucked out
        and wasted. I forget. Everything but Death comes to me and makes
        me work and give up what I have. And I forget.
        Sometimes I growl, shake myself and spatter a few red drops for history
        to remember. Then—I forget.
        When I, the People, learn to remember, when I, the People, use the
        lessons of yesterday and no longer forget who robbed me last year,
        who played me for a fool—then there will be no speaker in all the
        world say the name: “The People,” with any fleck of a sneer in his
        voice or any far-off smile of derision.
        The mob—the crowd—the mass—will arrive then.

        1. Norb

          The power of art in the service of the people- if that does not inspire you to action your soul is dead already.

          America has produced some great ones- it time we stop celebrating a debased elite and their destructive culture and move onto to better, and more fruitful soil to cultivate our souls.


    2. ke

      The middle class pays interest on underwater assets. The “elites” pay interest on interest on underwater assets, kept off book through govt set up for the purpose. If you do nothing but pay off your debt, or avoid it in the first place, you will be wealthier than the majority. Don’t let all the carp they are renting fool you, charging the rent to you in the form of RE inflation. Somebody is avoiding debt and RE inflation, or the system wouldn’t be collapsing, the government would not be buying its own debt, and Trump wouldn’t be being brought in to promise a rescue, by discounting the debt, which really doesn’t solve the problem.

      Ultimately, somebody has to provide the work for credit upon which debt as credit is leveraged, which is why you show up to work to the extent RE inflation is discounted, with which best business practice is replicated across a derivative system. Adjust the equilibrium to suit. Give them enough bridge to occupy, with enough gap to continue building, and grow the gap every time they interfere with your children.

      Labor can play chess, but doesn’t; its not a negotiation. The majority is occupying a bridge that is collapsing from both ends, called the Internet. Art is nothing if not ironic; the system produces slavery, the artist presents the captured virtue, and the art collector prints a fortune, in a positive feedback loop. Picasso wasn’t paranoid and Hollywood doesn’t tow the party line by accident.

        1. ke

          artificial constructs are the problemsolution
          Plants have far more anticipatory intelligence than animals, including humans, and they seem to get by quite nicely without MMT. It is not the planet at risk of strangulation.

          1. ke

            The whole point of politics is subjugation, and one brand is no better than the next.
            Enter the casino at your own risk.

  21. Steve in Dallas

    Years ago… it struck me… neoliberalism and the war-for-terror are based on a ‘core concept’ to which the elite are deeply committed…

    ‘Take or be taken… kill or be killed’

    This mantra seems to fully summarize modern Western (Globalist?) culture. More and more I’m convinced a public debate about how this ‘core concept’ is the antithesis of ‘civilized’… and the definition of barbaric… would be VERY useful.

    1. Synoia

      This might be the public image

      Take or be taken… kill or be killed

      The private reason is more simple:

      I want it all.

      There is no limit to greed.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        If we can’t fight greed, we have to work with it.

        Or we don’t give in and resist greed everywhere.

    2. inode_buddha

      Could also be interpreted as “Law of the Jungle”, Darwinism” or “Might makes Right”.

      And if you follow any of those to their conclusion, then what was left of civilization simply becomes “collateral damage” and “negative externalities”.

      And that is why these types must be STOPPED

  22. crittermom

    Yes, we the “masses” (99%) are mad. For good reason.

    I dislike reading in articles & blogs of how Bernie is discounted as having already lost, despite his uphill battle (even against his ‘own’ party). Trump continues to get all the attention, of course, despite Bernie’s recent surge in voters.

    I still hold out hope for a change for the better, & I still believe Bernie offers that.
    I’m happy to see Bernie hasn’t given up, either, as evident in his letter to DWS two days ago:

    I’m wondering if Bernie would approve if those us who support him also signed a copy of that letter & forward it to DWS through a moveon petition or some such revenue?
    Perhaps she needs to hear from a million of us that we will NEVER support Hellary?
    She sure refuses to listen to the votes. I’ve never witnessed anything so despicable & biased from a party “leader” as that which she has portrayed.

    1. hreik

      DWS doesn’t care. They rather lose w Hellary than win w Bernie b/c they are then exposed for the shams they are. She even said that the Super delegates are there to ensure that the grass roots don’t decide who the nominee will be.

      1. rickC

        If you think about it..take a state like NY with 270 delegates..there are nearly twice as many super delegates(ie party officials) as there were delegates in NY. Each of these super delegates is one person. About 2 million NYers voted in the dem primary(as a sanders supporter i was not happy with the result but such is life). Doing the math 500 or so superdelegates(500 people) have twice as much power to decide an election as the entire state of NY times 2. or one superdelegate is equal to about 8,000 people.
        Gotta love that one person one vote philosophy. In fact having all the 500 or so super delegates on your side(500 people) is enough to get you almost 1/4 of the way to the nomination.

  23. Angry Panda


    The elites of this country aren’t dead yet. Rumors of demise, great exaggeration, etc.

    What has happened, in my view, is what always happens in states and societies where the working and middle classes get squeezed more and more for the benefit of the elite. At some point the existing social and political equilibrium is disrupted and the “masses” begin to wonder why their life sucks, who is responsible, and how it can be made better. At this precise juncture one of three things tends to happen:

    – The extant elite reasserts control, whether through “carrots” (the New Deal) or “sticks” (repression).

    – One or more factions of the extant elite uses the situation to advance its own interests. The Bourbons supplanting the Valois, for example. Or the Tea Party.

    – A NEW elite comes into being and uses the masses to engineer a change in the social order. See the French Revolution and both Russian Revolutions for the most vivid examples. Importantly, the “building blocks” for the new elite are already extant in the pre-revolutionary order.

    For obvious reasons, all of these options can involve a good bit of demagoguery and vast volumes of propaganda. But also all three can result in a genuine improvement of social and economic conditions for the working and middle classes, at least for a time. Every situation is different, in other words, and this also applies to timing, scale, etc.

    So what we have here – in this election cycle – in my view is a logical extension of the public discontent that has already existed in the American politics for years. The Tea Party was built on such public discontent, for example, not coincidentally right on the heels of 2007-2009. Trump and Sanders are both now tapping into this discontent, one as a demagogue and the other as an idealist (of a sort), whereas Clinton, yes, does represent the extant elite’s attempt to stabilize the situation.

    So what happens next? A revolution? Hardly. I don’t think we’re anywhere close to THAT level of misery.

    A reshuffling of the elites? Quite likely. Hillary is the old, Trump is the new, but taken together it’s all the same “millionaires and billionaires” defending the same socio-economic system and order that had been in place for decades. Sanders is the only one who says – hey, tear it down and do something else – but I doubt the elite is so weak as to let him through.

    Now, what all this does mean to me is that in the NEXT election, and the one after that, and the one after that – the discontent is not going to lessen. That’s the powder keg the elites are sitting on. Not Trump winning or losing today, but a college kid from today leading an actual revolution (option 3) twenty years from now. Which, of course, the elites would like to tamp down via options 1 or 2 ahead of time, but they’re not even competent enough to stop someone like Trump, so good luck there. Unless we slide into repression, of course, which changes the equation a bit.

    1. portia

      if ms private email server is “elected”, we can expect that repression to be developed to the fullest extent possible to break the back of the Sanders/Trump “revolution”. Wall Street must live, even if all else dies.

    2. JustAnObserver

      Your college kid remark reminds me of this sign-of-the-times from a couple of days ago.

      I’m sitting at my local bar and, drifting into my hearing, I pick up the phrase “surplus value” said by a 20-something talking to another guy. Intrigued I start listening in and, lo, it wasn’t just the phrase since said 20+ was giving, or trying to give, an exposition of Marx’s Theory of Labor. He even (gasp) uttered the man’s name a couple of times.

      He was still going strong when I left a beer & a couple of ciggies later.

    3. Ulysses

      “A revolution? Hardly. I don’t think we’re anywhere close to THAT level of misery.”

      Are you aware of the J-curve theory? People are more likely to revolt when they still have the generational memory of a better life available to them. Many generations of grinding poverty diminishes the chances that people will find the energy to resist.

      The young people who can’t afford their parents’ lifestyle pose a very real threat to the kleptocrats.

    4. Jim

      Good comment, see mine just below which to some extent deals with this same issue–elites, government and the power of the state.

      How do you view the rule of the Obama regime? Most of the commetariat at NC tends to see Obama as simply having sold out to private Corporate/Financial interests.

      But Obama seemed to wield a big State stick when he deemed it appropriate–that little bailout of Big Finance in 2008.

      Is the relationship of our modern Big State to Big Financial/Corporate Capital one of coequals or is Goldman Sachs, GE, Citibank, JPMChase, Tarp, stress tests, military/surveillance/Google/Facebook/NSA/CIA an indication that currently the State in now more and more in command and the those who control the State control the parties and control the country?

      Does our present structure of power now include a capitalist investment component and a socialist investment component?

      Is what is considered the modern left more and more articulating right wing ideas like group privilege or identity politics, sympathy with authoritarian regimes (often in the developing world) anti-growth policies(built around climate concerns) and the restriction of freedom of speech (safe zones etc.)?

  24. Jim

    So, lets assume for a moment that the above rant is largely accurate. What are the options going forward–especially for what is considered the Left.

    One of the more sophisticated perspectives on this issue can be found in the writings of Bill Mitchell (of billy blog fame).

    He is in the process of developing an analysis which attempts to trace historically (from at least the early 1970s) how the left came to accept the notion that the capacity of the State has been compromised by both globalization and neo-liberalism.

    He argues that a key foundation for the acceptance of the proposition that state intervention in the market economy should be kept to a bare minimum was the fact that neo-liberal elites were successfully able to penetrate the state decision-making process.

    He quotes with approval some comments by David Harvey:
    “…the advocates of the neoliberal way now occupy positions of considerable influence in education(the universities and many think tanks) in the media, in corporate boardrooms and financial institutions, in key state institutions (treasury departments and central banks) and also in those international institutions such as the IMF and WTO that regulate global finance and trade. Neo-liberalism has, in short, become hegemonic…”

    He argues that the neo-liberals knew what the capacity of the State truly was and have successfully taken it over in order to implement neo-liberal policies.

    Is Mitchell, by implication, suggesting that the best future course for the left is to duplicate the successful strategy of the neo-liberals
    and gradually penetrate/take over the state decision-making process?

    Will government of the people, by the people and for the people deteriorate into government of the party-state by the party-state and for the managerial elites (whether neo-liberal or Left)?

    1. JTFaraday

      Let’s step back from all this stuff about “the left.” Shift the lens a bit and what’s left of the labor left in the 1970s one can just as easily call “the right.” I don’t know what we’re supposed to do with that now, unless we’re interested in apportioning blame to its proper places which it seems we’re not really, because it’s much more fun to pick on the wimmins and the n-ers (so they turn around and vote for Hillary) than it is to hold the Trumpertantrums responsible for their post civil rights/ EEOC era anti-government sentiment. Lo, it’s morning in America and all of a sudden the government s*cks.

      What is relevant is that it’s been clear since the election of Obama that the D-Party is much more interested in breaking the back of the Republican Party than it is interested in reviving the US economy. It seeks to replace the Repugs as the unassailably politically modernized– meaning domestically multicultural and internationally cosmopolitan– go to party of the economic elite. It aims to be THE ruling party. This is partially motivated by (partly well earned and partly projected) cultural animus against the subjects of the first paragraph who, in any case, in no way deserve to be defended as champions of universal economic rights. That’s revisionist history, (and not in a good way).

      After that, it’s anyone’s guess. If perilously poised financial markets require some sort of government intervention that revives real economies in some more or less Keynesian derived fashion, then the D-Party might well do so. But in order to do so it’s going to have to reconcile these internally conflicting interests of the economic elite, which can pretty much be summed up as keeping the parasite from killing its own host. It’s not really clear to me how they might go about doing that, and it’s probably not clear to the D-Party either.

      As far as the general gaggle of liberal policy entrepreneurs are concerned, I think they’re primarily obsessed with what they consider to be the intellectual error of thinking you can get away with killing the host. I think they’re right about that– the signifiers of financial markets supposedly point to something “real”– but they’re also not particularly concerned with the quality of anyone’s life, just with how they can plug people into their own macroeconomic models.

      This is one reason why some might well have been motived to risk waxing libertarian along the lines of a Foucault, in the name of a larger degree of personal autonomy. So, it’s not so much that neoliberals convinced people that governments “couldn’t act” as that people of this putative left, like the subjects of the first paragraph, were likewise skeptical of what governments might actually do. And because today’s policy entrepreneurs are still so fixated on expounding the intellectual error, we never do get a good picture of that.

      So in the end these Democrats are like, “oh, okay give me my paid family leave act because I can at least see that.” Small bore politics– and Hillary, who says it takes a village, is at least not that colossal ignoramus the workaholic Cheryl Sandberg, who apparently can’t understand anything unless she actually experiences it for herself.


        1. JTFaraday

          Au contraire. I think eventually somebody’s ox gets gored, but meanwhile they’re still dribbling various viscous humors out of the host in hopes they can avoid making the hard decisions.

          Unlike, say, the annoying Bernie Sanders, who says “okay, so kill the insurance companies.” Far from being unrealistic, here’s a hard decision already made. What I think he’s not really saying, however, is that then the government has to go in and set prices in the vast sprawling healthcare industrial complex, (which will make the capitalists go crazy).

      1. JTFaraday

        Not that a lot of people aren’t like that, because a lot of people are. Cheryl Sandberg, I mean.

  25. PQS

    I know I’m probably the only one here who reads Faceborg but there is a meme going around that I actually like:
    How about we don’t have a president for the next four years while we spend time alone finding ourselves?

    Unfortunately this was obviously written by someone unaware of the tribe of lunatics currently controlling Congress…. Many of whom make Trumpolini seem like a sane and reasonable statesman…but the original idea made me smile.

  26. Edward

    I love it when Republicans feign concern about Trump’s racism. This is the party that gave us the Southern strategy, Flint, Michigan, and voter suppression. The Republicans can’t publicly state their real reasons for opposing Trump so they make a big show of condemning his rhetoric.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s more like, only the progressives can correctly criticize Southern, African-American Democrat primary voters as low information.

      Others would have botched the job.

      In a similar fashion, the Republicans claim their ownership in voter suppression, etc. They will be concerned with Hillary trying to steal an election.

      1. Edward


        I am not sure I follow your comment. Have progressives been criticizing “Southern, African-American Democrat primary voters as low information”?

        I just think that the newly-discovered Republican concern with racism doesn’t make sense given their track record. Some other motive is involved.

    2. perpetualWAR

      Apparently you missed Clinton’s “bring ’em to heel” and “off the reservation” remarks?

      It appears we have 2 racists runningfor office. One is blatant, the other barely disguised.

    3. fresno dan

      May 8, 2016 at 12:12 pm

      I agree. I think the repubs are afraid that Trump obvious bluster will be INeffective racism….

  27. TedWa

    Another great reason to read NC as soon as I wake up. Excellent article and take downs, totally on point. Made my day. Thanks for this and Cheers !!

  28. Glen

    I’m a Bernie supporter and I will vote for the candidate that best represents my views. If Bernie is not running in the general, then it will be the Green party. Hillary does not represent me, and I’m done voting “good enough”. I was a Dem for over thirty years, but gave up when it was apparent that Obama was a smarter, more moderate version of W. 2008 was a huge wasted opportunity.

    I suspect if it is Hillary vs. Trump, it will be a much closer race than expected. Hillary will likely win, but only because she will be courting the Republican voters that cannot stomach Trump. The irony is that Hillary is a good Republican and deserves their vote. The 99% will get screwed, but what’s new about that? It’s been happening for the last forty years if you voted Dem or Repub. The Dems just sugar coat it a bit more.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The Dems just sugar coat it a bit more.

      Like they are better actors?

      Like they sound more suave?

      And have better hair?

      With better music?

      1. polecat

        better hookers
        better blow…..
        better style
        don’tcha know…..
        always preening
        in the mirror…
        getting ready to
        jab that pencil in your ear!

  29. tongorad

    Great rant, except for this:

    The game, for the elites, is over. This is true no matter what happens with the Sanders campaign. The Republican party as we have known it since the Reagan consensus (dating back to 1976) is over. The Democratic party doesn’t know it yet, but Bill Clinton’s neoliberalism (and what followed in his wake with complicity with Bush junior, and the continuation of Bush junior’s imperialist policies with Barack Obama) is also over, or well on its way to being over.

    Wishful thinking. All of the above mentioned have control of the cognitive map and are in the catbird seat. They play for keeps.

  30. crittermom

    “Hillary will likely win…”
    I’m not so sure about that, but I do agree it would be close. I hear much support for Trump, even among Bernie supporters on blogs who would choose him over HRC if Bernie doesn’t get in.

    Still hoping Bernie will be in that race. I’d love nothing better than to have an “Independent” & “Socialist Democrat” win the presidency, as that would send the biggest “screw you” message to both parties & knock ’em back a step.

    The Repubs are appalled to have Trump as their candidate while the DNC just refuses to acknowledge Bernie’s existence.
    At least the elite is beginning to realize there’s discontent among the citizens, but I’m turning 65 & hope I don’t have to wait decades to see positive changes in politics. I’d like to see it go all the way in this election (of course).

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The DNC acknowledges Bernie’s existence.

      That’s why they make sure they have a Senate committee seat for him, if everyone acts like a ‘gentleman.’

  31. cripes

    The corruption and sheer kleptocracy of both the demo and repug parties has become so blatant that common folk on both ends of the clusterf*ck see it for what it is. They’re willing to go for broke rather than play it safe as they have been brainwashed into doing for the past 40 years or so. This may be the most important fact of the current supidity calling itself an election.

    The party elites, the prostrate media, the corporations and their lobbyists are staying up nights trying to figure out how to put the genie back in the bottle. They’re desperate and the stink of their fear permeates the country.

    They babble about restoring trust in the government, in the media, in the corporations and fer godsakes, the police. There is no trust.

    This is a crisis of legitimacy and they know it.

    This article nails it.

  32. JMarco

    Bravo, Anis: You have said it better than I ever could.

    At end of Andrew Sullivan’s piece in New York Magazine, he tells us that elites are only ones that can save us. Woe! What a load of horse pucky. And Sullivan calls Bernie a demagogue. Yea! he is in old Athenian way…an orator who espouses the cause of common people. This election cycle has finally brought me to the same conclusion that Anis speaks about… that current Democratic party is coming to an end.I have pulled the voting lever for some weak Democratic candidates for President in the past. But no more. Hilary is too closely tied to Wall Street & Military complex for me. She will tell you that she wants to put rein on Wall Street and wants to help hard working Americans. But her actions will be just like Obama’s…just some mediocre attempts that produce no change.

  33. RudyM

    It seems to me it is elites who want the open borders Shivani appears to support, by implication anyway. (It can be a little difficult making sense of what’s being said when no distinction is drawn between immigration in general and illegal immigration.)

  34. ke

    MMT is going to magically eliminate human greed, and reverse the destruction of photosynthesis?

    You do know that increasing co2 directly raises sea level and genetic methylation, don’t you?

    Humans are at the end of the food chain, shorting it out. This is not the first rodeo for plants with complex life forms.

  35. LapsedLawyer

    Drop the mic, Anis, this sums it up in no uncertain terms. Unassailable observation of this farce of an election we’re facing.

    And by the way, I’m often told to concentrate on the downballot races if I’m dissatisfied with the top of the ticket. If you’re state is anything like mine (Indiana) the whole notion that down the ballot you’ll find plenty to vote for is a real joke — in the primary, outside of the presidential nomination between Hillary and Bernie, there were only a couple of other races I saw that might be considered interesting but only if you’re interested in horse races, that is, who wins and who loses. It’s not about policy, and it shows just how moribund and ossified our two-party system is; it’s just a matter of Team Blue vs. Team Red, and the only difference is the uniform. It’s what’s turned me off of sports, because just like there, it really doesn’t matter who wins. (The differences with sports are in sports, at least the players are trying to play their best, and sports have real entertainment value.)

  36. twisted

    It occurrs to me that a Trump/Sanders ticket would roll over anything the Rs or Ds, or both combined, could muster. It would be the perfect one-two punch – Sanders to make policies and, you know, govern while President Trump entertains foreign heads of state and gives the leftie media sound bites to complain about .

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      It’s never going to happen. Sanders is deeply moral and serious about policy. He would never in a million year team up with Trump, who has a ego like the outdoors and makes it up as he goes. I get tired of Trump fans advocating this idea.

      Being anyone’s VP makes no sense for Sanders. He’s much better off going back to the Senate with greatly enhanced stature and fundraising power.

      1. twisted

        I’ve no doubt that your read is accurate. It was only a fanciful notion powered by the thought of seeing the elites of both parties puking following their landslide loss.

        You’re right that I like Trump. I also like Sanders. It’s pretty clear to me, as an outside observer, that the candidates ordained by the political status quo have long since given up even the pretence of serving the American people – the ones who don’t have millions to donate to their party of choice.

        If it takes a Trump or a Sanders to shake the main parties out of their smug contempt for their constituents, then so be it. Viva la difference.

  37. Gaylord

    Human affairs are being overshadowed by the impacts of Climate Change. All this breast-beating over politics is paltry in the face of the planetary emergency rapidly descending upon us. No candidate for any office in any nation can pull us out of the quicksand, nor do the dictates of capitalism, Profit and Growth, allow any deviation from Business As Usual.

  38. templar555510

    In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the working class were screwed by the bosses and fought back improving their lot slowly, mainly by the development of trades unions. During the last thirty years the working class have gone backwards financially and their unions have been decimated . And now the middle class are waking up to the fact that they too are being screwed. And who is doing the screwing ? The finance sector by loading them up with debt . In the twentieth century that debt ( principally mortgages ) was liquidated by inflation which occurred at a moderate rate, but slow enough to continue an illusion of price stability . That era came to an end on 15th September 2008 with the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the financial crisis it precipitated and since then inflation has been at a level insufficient to liquidate the debt impoverishing the middle class in the process. You don’t need to be an economist, or a financial expert to realise this, but this blog has helped me, for one , to understand what is going on and so ,witnessing the emergence of Trump and the support for Sanders comes as no surprise as they are the only candidates to articulate the malady and present possible solutions . All the other candidates are totally clueless as to the state of their country . Who knows where we go from here.

  39. Tom Greenwell

    Sullivan himself refutes his own thesis. After making the galling claim Trump is a reaction to too much democracy, he spends much time asserting that the rage fueling Trump’s success was born of decades of willful elite disregard for the interests of working people. As I argue here …

  40. dano

    Minor addition: the pogrom against immigrants was started by Pete Wilson, who first earned his chops working for the Nixon (1960) and Goldwater (1964) campaigns, and went on to become governor of and then senator from California. He authored Proposition 187 which first demonized immigrants, and he was responsible for California’s “three strikes” law.


    It’s beginning to look like the Republicans’ long term strategy has not worked out for them so well, but the ending of that story has yet to be written. And California’s three strikes law has turned out badly for the state’s budget as well as many of its people. And Pete Wilson was also responsible for deregulating the California energy market, which turned out to be a disaster as well. But he is considered to be one of the smart Republicans. These days he would probably not be considered too right wing either.

  41. Sound of the Suburbs

    What is the seemingly sound base from which the elites get to carry out their dirty work?
    Biased economics that works in their favour.

    How does economics go so wrong?

    In the real sciences (Physics, Chemistry and Biology) knowledge builds over the years and there are no real financial incentives to push it down the wrong path.

    Economics is not like that, there are big financial incentives to push it towards the wrong conclusions.

    Like today’s trickledown, that justifies low taxes for the wealthy.

    Let’s imagine a group looking after their own interests in economics.

    The UK aristocracy has been riding on the back of the economically productive members of the UK for centuries.

    With Feudalism they could use their land to maintain their idleness.
    With Capitalism they could use their Capital to maintain their idleness through “unearned” income.

    Then along came the Classical Economists who identify “earned” and “unearned” income and recommend taxes on “unearned” income to do away with the remnants of Feudalism and those that have been maintained in idleness purely because they are the descendents of feudal warlords.

    “Not happy” would be a good description of the Aristocracies view point, their life of idleness seems to be drawing to a close.

    But luckily help is at hand to subvert economics and bring in the Neo-Classical school of economics.

    The difference between “earned” and “unearned” income is forgotten and the Aristocracy are saved.

    There are too many incentives to make economics wrong, the main reason it’s so bad.

    Neo-Liberal economics is probably the most biased economics in history and unfortunately was rolled out globally and used to design the Euro.

    No wonder it’s all going wrong.

    It is easy to design economic thinking that is wrong but it is impossible to get it working.

    Adios global economy, it never stood a chance with this economics.

    1. Sound of the Suburbs

      2008 – “How did that happen?”

      In the modern economic assumptions the true nature of money and debt are not included.

      Which vested interests does this look after?

      (You have to work it out for yourself)

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