Ilargi: Ungovernability

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Yves here. Even though readers may differ with Ilargi on some of the particulars in his argument, I suspect that many will agree that he’s focusing on a critical overarching issue, which is a loss of legitimacy of governments in many advanced economies. Personally, I’m not keen about the term he uses in this headline, “ungovernability,” because that was one of the big claims made by the extreme right in the late 1960s and early 1970s to justify their campaign to move the values of the country to the right: that the civil disobedience of the 1960s and the unreasonable social welfare demands of unions were making the US “ungovernable” and Something Had To Be Done.

And I take issue with this view:

What America and Britain would need right now is a ‘traditional media outlet’ -just one- that is actually objective; the first one that tries that approach could make a killing, but all are scared of being killed in the process.

I agree 100% that we desperately need a press that is dedicated to traditional journalistic values, as opposed to merely mouthing them while they act as official scribes. But need and commercial success are two different matters.

The Internet has killed traditional journalism. What allowed them to be independent in the past was that half their ad revenues came from classified ads. The Internet wiped that out and has also wreaked havoc with their subscriptions. Lucrative print subscribers are literally dying off, and to the extent they can get online subscribers, their profitability is much lower. Employment and pay among journalists have collapsed.

On the revenue side, newspapers and traditional media depend on delivering a particular slice of viewers to advertisers who want to reach them. The most valuable are well-educated, upper income customers. Do you think they want to hear about how bad corruption really is, how they are enabling more and more surveillance via their addiction to tech convenience, how official responses to climate change are grossly inadequate, or how US and UK policy in the Middle East is being run by nutcase ideologues, the military-industrial complex, and Saudi Arabia, and is going to wreck Europe if we don’t change course? Those readers would abandon an outlet that was more candid on these topics because it would go against their class interests and most would find it too distressing to digest.

And that’s before you get to the fact that the majority of what is considered to be news are initiated by government and business. A big chunk of the rest comes from think tanks and other interested parties. Comparatively little (a Pew study on post-crisis financial news stories found a mere 2%) is initiated by the media player itself. And reported stories, whether they start from the journalist or are prompted by sources or a skeptical take on official PR, take vastly more work than adding some journalistic decoration to planted stories.

More specifically, what happens when Clinton wins, as the press and pollsters tell us she will? The House is already planning to go to war with her, with two committee investigations supposedly green-lighted. It’s not hard to imagine given Clinton’s sense of entitlement, and the fact that there does appear to be a lot of very dirty Clinton Foundation laundry, that these investigations could quickly move to a full-blown Constitutional crisis even in the absence of an impeachment, which would almost certainly follow in the event of a refusal to cooperate.

By Ilargi, editor of Automatic Earth. Originally published at Automatic Earth

Over the summer I introduced a two-fold assertion: 1) global economic growth is over (and has been for years and won’t come back for many more years) and 2) the end of growth marks the end of all centralization, including globalization. You can read all about these themes in “Globalization Is Dead, But The Idea Is Not” and “Why There is Trump” There are also extensive quotes of the second essay in wicked former UK MI6 spymaster Alastair Crooke’s “‘End of Growth’ Sparks Wide Discontent”.

When I say ‘the end of growth’, I don’t mean that in a Limits to Growth kind of way, or peak oil or things like that. Not because I seek to invalidate such things, but because I mean economics, finance only. Our economies simply ceased growing, and quite a few years ago. The only reason that is not, and very widely, recognized is the $21 trillion and change that central banks have conjured up ostensibly to kickstart a recovery that always remains just around the corner.

That those $21 trillion will have massive negative effects on all of us is not my point either right now. Just that growth is gone. And that’s hard enough to swallow for a system that’s based uniquely on that growth. That is what this ‘essay’ is about: what consequences that will have.

All that said, I don’t have the idea that too many people are willing to accept the notion of the end of eternal economic growth (let alone right this minute), nor of globalization’s demise. Which may be partially understandable, but not more than that. Instead, quite a few people may honestly feel that the end of growth will make ‘leaders’ try for more, not less, centralization/globalization, but that, if it happens, is temporary. Unless, as I wrote earlier, we see dictators in the west.

Because, as I said in those articles, the overbearing principle is, and must be, that when centralized power ceases to deliver benefits to people, they will no longer accept that decisions about their – ever poorer- lives are taken by people hundreds or thousands of miles away from where they live. People allow that only when they reap sufficient benefits from it. With growth gone, there are no such benefits left. Look at Greece and Italy and Brexit, and look at why Trump is where he is.


Since it will apparently take a while for the above to sink in – which is not because I’m wrong-, I’m a little hesitant to introduce the next assertion, which is very closely related to the other two and takes it a step further. That assertion is that there are multiple countries in the western world -and perhaps beyond- today that run a serious risk of becoming de facto ungovernable. I’ll refrain from using the term anarchy.

I’ve been playing around in my head for a while with the thought that it is striking that the last two major global powers, which together have dominated world politics and economics for over 200 years, look well on their way towards becoming ungovernable. It is perhaps even more striking that nobody appears to understand or even contemplate this.

Both Britain and America are caught in an apparent trap in which various groups of their citizens blame each other for everything that’s going wrong with their lives -which admittedly is plenty-. But that’s where the end of growth and globalization comes in: societies are in urgent need of new ways of organizing themselves, of formulating new goals, priorities and policies.

And since nary a soul recognizes that the old ways have expired, this is bound to be a very difficult process. Before formulating anything new, we will first see (well, we already do) forces, movements and individuals rise to the fore whose claim to fame is kicking against the existing grain without providing much in the way of -coherent- ideas of what should come next.

In fact, most of these ‘transitory forces’ don’t even realize or acknowledge the need for any novel paradigms; they -often hugely- gain in popularity basing themselves on talk of tweaking existing paradigms, on the notion of pretty much leaving things as they are but with a few different focus points here and there. Re-arranging deckchairs.

And if anyone would try on ‘real change’, they’d likely be voted down in record numbers, because the end of growth will mean loss of wealth and prosperity everywhere. And neither the people nor the times are ready for that message. Let alone the media machine or the establishment it serves. Which would rather go to war than admit they lost and give up their profits.


Before moving on to the most prominent and perhaps urgent examples, the US and UK, let’s take a look at a handful or so European countries. By the way, the European Union is a prime example of an entity that is caught blinded on the way towards being ungovernable like a deer in 27/28 pairs of headlights. No growth, no EU.

In the same way that, as I explained in the earlier articles, all supranational entities face the fate of the dodo. Or at least the existing ones do, with their structures geared towards ever increasing centralization of power and money. Countries, societies, people will always find ways to trade and cooperate, and they will again, but the next time they do it will be only if and when they keep control over decisions that concern what’s important to them.

But on to those European countries on their way towards challenging existing power structures and governability. Italy has a -constitutional- referendum on December 4, and it looks right now like PM Renzi will lose that, opening the way for our friend Beppe Grillo and his M5S Five Star movement to take over. Beppe wasn’t against the euro when we met in 2010, but he is now. And M5S has since grown hugely, into a solid national force.

In the rich core of the EU, there are general elections in Holland in March 2017, France in April and Germany in September 2017. Holland’s traditional parties have been losing clout for a long time, and Geert Wilders’ anti-Islam anti-EU pro-Freedom party scores big in the polls. And that in a country that says it’s doing great, talks about raising wages across the board and is stuck in a massive housing bubble.

France has a president, Hollande, who’s polling lower numbers (a while ago it was 6%) than any US president probably ever did in history, and that’s saying something. France has new crown princes on Hollande’s Socialist side in PM Manuel Valls and Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron, but they are badly tainted by Hollande’s ‘achievements’.

They have old crown princes for the Republican conservative party in ex-PM Sarkozy and the for some reason very popular Alain Juppé, but both can really only try and steal votes from Marine Le Pen’s Front National by leaning ever further right. Which leaves Le Pen, who has sworn to take France out of the EU, as the no. 1 contender.

Given what might happen in Italy, Holland and France, one must wonder what the September 2017 German elections will even matter anymore when they happen. Unless an M5S type movement stands up there, Merkel will have no choice but to pull sharply to the right to try and hold off the right wing AfD from getting into a kingmaker position. Germany’s once proud and strong left wing movement looks bound for near extinction.

Belgium and Spain don’t have elections scheduled for 2017, but both have recently endured long periods without functioning governments, and both look no closer to solving the issues than they were before. Just look at Wallonia blocking the CETA trade deal between the EU and Canada. One might say they already are, for all intents and purposes, on the verge of being ungovernable.

Grillo, Wilders, Le Pen and Spain’s Podemos are very different people and movements, but what they have in common is they can produce such a backlash in their respective countries, win or lose, that they can render the existing political structures obsolete and thereby their countries ungovernable. Maybe, then, those structures are already obsolete, and maybe that’s why they’ve gained such popularity?!


Plenty of candidates in Europe for governmental chaos; and I haven’t even touched on many countries, including in Eastern Europe, where the end of growth will shatter many dreams and promises of better lives that have been put on hold indefinitely. Even as many Czechs and Polish workers risk being sent back home from countries like Britain. Europe truly is a continent full of powder kegs. Even before you add refugees.

However, I still think the US and UK are first in line when it comes to the risk of being rendered ungovernable. Partly simply because of timing, and partly because the differences between various ‘groups’ and movements are as pronounced as they are already today. Both countries are running out of carpet to sweep their dirt under.

A conspicuous part in all this is played by the nations’ respective media, who seem to have given up all attempts at pretending to be neutral, a.k.a. ‘journalistic’. Traditional media, newspapers and radio and TV channels, used to have reporters and then, separately, they would have opinion columns, and the difference would be clear. But that’s all gone, every single article is now an opinion piece, which goes a long way towards explaining why people turn their backs on them.

The MSM media are digging their own graves. Or, rather, their graves were being digitally dug anyway, and they’re greatly speeding up the process of their own demise. What America and Britain would need right now is a ‘traditional media outlet’ -just one- that is actually objective; the first one that tries that approach could make a killing, but all are scared of being killed in the process.

Moreover, most ‘reporters’ have fooled themselves into thinking that they ARE objective; that ‘objective’ means Trump and Brexit MUST be condemned, as well as everyone and everything that has anything to do with the two, and some that don’t, like Putin. Which happens to play a major role into how both countries inexorably slide down into a state of chaos.

Their traditional political parties are self-immolating as we speak, and yet in neither country is there space for new parties to stand up. That seems to be a major difference (perhaps it’s an Anglo thing?) from countries in continental Europe, and even there things are screaming out of hand. The post-growth model appears to be: new parties or not, the incumbents are toast. Plenty room for big gaping holes.


Post Brexit, the UK has the Tories, who lost the Brexit vote but for some reason are still in power, just with a different figurehead. But they are hopelessly divided in pro-Brexit and pro-EU factions, and they appear so far to be messing up anything at all having to do with Brexit. All the egos collide too, of course; egos are all that politics has left to provide us.

Then there’s the Labor Party, which is equally hopelessly divided into the pro-Corbyn camp and the anti-Corbyn ‘Blairites’, which have conducted a kind of guerrilla warfare that might put the Viet Cong to shame. The Blairites have made such a fuss over Corbyn not being electable that they made their wishes come true like a boomerang. But that’s the MPs, not the voters or even the party members, who are behind Corbyn in massive droves.

The UK doesn’t have a general election scheduled until 2020, but with all the infighting and even more importantly the ‘real’ start of Brexit that’s supposed to come in early 2017, and/or a potential parliamentary vote seeking to make the referendum null and void, it’s hard to see how the country could NOT descend into total chaos way before 2020.

The people who were comfortable before June 23 blame it all on ‘Brexiteers’, but they conveniently forget that before that date they completely ignored the people who did vote to Leave the EU, and are therefore now grasping at straws when it comes to explanations. The term ‘deplorables’ has been patented by the Hillary camp, but it seems to express quite well how Remain feels about Brexit voters today. And that’s toxic for any society.

This is just not good enough. Brexit voters from what I can see are a mix between those who have been hit hardest by former PM Cameron and his goon squad (and ignored by Remainers), and those who really find the EU a failed experiment, an aspect I rarely see discussed in Britain. They should be elated to be rid of Brussels, but it’s all only about how much money they will have short term, not about identity or pride or anything.

A country full of people pointing fingers at others, while remaining blind to their own failures. The mote and the beam, a recipe for mayhem. So you have this entire godawful political mess, and now imagine throwing in the end of growth, and deteriorating economic circumstances from here on in.

Britain had better start some kind of National Conversation first on where it wants to go, hire something in the vein of a bunch of National Therapists to tell people it’s not okay to blame everything on somebody else, whether they’re Brits or foreigners, or, with Scotland planning another independence vote, we could be back all the way to Braveheart.


That leaves the US. The country that has elections before any of the other ‘basket cases’. And, this being America, the land that’s better than anyone at painting pictures of itself as tempting as they can be false, the antagonism is dripping off the walls and through the streets. The land that discusses which lives matter.

It’s glaringly obvious that the majority of the US media would like you to believe that when it comes to ungovernability, a Trump victory would be a sure bet to lead the US into political mayhem. That may be true, though it’s by no means guaranteed, they make it up as they go along, but a Hillary win may well end up being even worse.

As I wrote mid-September in “Hillary Became Unelectable Long Ago”, Mrs. Clinton faces a ton of unanswered questions that will not just go away just because she might win a vote. If anything, scrutiny may well increase, and a lot, if she wins on November 8. And that’s not just because the Donald is a sore loser (which also may or may not be true).

There are a lot of intelligence (FBI) voices protesting the decision to not charge Hillary for her email shenanigans. There are plenty of serious issues related to the capture of the DNC by Hillary’s campaign, and the subsequent ousting of Bernie Sanders and all his supporters. The campaign went so far as to pay people to -violently- disrupt Trump events. Now spell democracy for me.

What may play an even bigger role going forward is the unrelenting blame game played by the campaign on Russia and Vladimir Putin, a litany of allegations for which precious little proof, if any, has been presented. Trying to link Putin to Trump to Julian Assange may have seemed a winning election strategy, and it may prove to be one, crazy as it is, but on November 9 the world will still keep turning and-a churning. And where are they all then?

Trump will not forget this. The Republicans won’t. The FBI won’t. All the people who support Wikileaks won’t. Vladimir Putin won’t. And neither will the leaders of a lot of other countries. They have now seen that sovereign nations and their leaders can be used as cannon fodder in a US election, or any other US political purposes, and that’s going to make them feel queasy, and then some, for a long time.

It’s very hard to see how Hillary and her people, as well as the American media, can climb down from the stance they’ve taken. It’s not exactly something you can easily apologize for after the fact. So the only thing to do would be to dig in and persevere.


For the media, as I said, it’ll be merely another step towards irrelevance. Just a bit steeper. For Hillary and her supporters, it won’t be that smooth of a way down. When they dig in deeper into their trenches, all that’s left them is to try and escalate the Russia tension.

But while an attack on Russia may go down reasonable well in American minds, Hillary would need to involve NATO, and there are plenty of member countries, and their citizens, who will not accept anything of the kind, no matter what their leaders say. The fact that NATO relies on unity would become a liability instead of an asset, in the same way that the EU will experience.

NATO would fall apart if the US under a Hillary presidency attacks Russia. So would the EU, which will fall apart anyway. And that’s just on the international front.

Domestically, the Obama reign has been ‘saved’ by those trillions from the Fed, by the crazy growth in debt, both public and private, and by a list as long as your arm of questionable ‘official’ data, unemployment numbers, personal ‘wealth’, that sort of thing. While we all know that there would not be a Trump if those numbers reflected Americans’ real lives.

Trump may go away, though it won’t be in silence, but what he represents will not. And what he represents is 180º squarely removed from Hillary. And it’s not going to be subdued, silent or obedient. Blaming that on Trump, or on things he says, misses the point by a mile.

Given what the Hillary campaign has perpetrated, given the links to the Clinton Foundation, and given a ton of other things, it’s not all that crazy that Trump says he may not accept an election result off the bat. And given what many voices in the Democratic party, including Obama, have said in the past about elections and systems being rigged, it’s nonsense to try and demonize him for suggesting that.

Of course American elections can be rigged. Hanging chads or not. As long as people have to wait in line for hours in certain districts to cast their vote, and as long as Diebold machines are used, they can be rigged. But you can’t say it out loud?


Look, if Trump wins, how docile will the Democrat crowd be, given the propaganda machine targeted at Putin and Assange and anyone else (Bernie!) who dared stand in Hillary’s way? If the result is close, will Hillary accept it without a single protest or question? She won’t. But if Trump says he’ll keep you in suspense about the exact same thing, he’s a threat to democracy itself?

Points of view and belief are so far apart that indeed, democracy is under threat. But not because of Trump. That threat goes back to times long before him.

Hillary owes her position, and her wealth, to the Saudis and Qataris and Wall Street banks and US industrial/military neocons. And they will all demand that she return the favor. But they want something completely different than the people who vote for her. And since the economy is shrinking, she will have to take whatever it is they demand in return for putting her on her pedestal, away from the people who voted for her.

And no matter how much propaganda is unleashed upon Americans, as they see their lives deteriorate, they will be on to this, more and more. And they will lean towards Trump or Bernie Sanders -or someone else in the future-, anyone they feel expresses their frustration.

Hillary won’t be able to ‘cure’ the economy any more than Obama has, she won’t have the Fed’s virtual trillions to help her veil the real state of the economy, and she’s already close to the lowest ‘likeability’ rate in history to begin with.

I’m thinking Trump would probably be an awful president, but he perhaps wouldn’t be the worst option. And I’m saying that from the point of view of keeping America governable going forward, something he may well screw up yuugely, but at least he’s not certain to.

It’ll be hard to keep America quiet in the years to come whoever wins, and I’m going to have to think about this more, I just wanted to say for now that what many people think and claim is a given, is not. And that is a big thing given that the elections are only 16 days away.

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  1. endoftheworld

    You got a Speaker of the House who actually seems to support Hillary over Trump. I’m not really sure there will be a big crisis. If she’s impeached we’ll have President Tim Kaine?

    1. ColdWarVet

      Once Trump is out of the way the gloves will come off again. HRC only looks reasonable in contrast to him. Does anyone believe that Tim Kaine would carry any kind of mandate with her out of the way? He’d be little more than a pebble in the road.

    2. sleepy

      It may be questionable how long Ryan will be around as speaker given that lukewarm support, at best. I suspect the hostility of house repubs to Hillary is greater than their hostility to Trump which, imho, will quickly fade after the election.

    3. aab

      Today’s reminder that while impeachment is fun, it doesn’t remove someone from office. Only conviction in the Senate with 66 votes does that. There is no way AT ALL the Republicans get 60+ seats in the Senate, and no way AT ALL any Democrats will vote to convict her.

  2. ColdWarVet

    Trump will not forget this. The Republicans won’t. The FBI won’t. All the people who support Wikileaks won’t. Vladimir Putin won’t. And neither will the leaders of a lot of other countries. They have now seen that sovereign nations and their leaders can be used as cannon fodder in a US election, or any other US political purposes, and that’s going to make them feel queasy, and then some, for a long time.

    That’s the crux of the issue right there. HRC, having essentially stolen the election at multiple points along the way, will preside over what many, if not most, people will rightfully consider an illegitimate government. Many of the people voting against Trump were not voting for her, they simply felt they had no other choice, and many more just stayed home and refused to soil themselves in this unseemly mess. She might well regret she won very shortly.

    1. Lambert Strether

      “When God hath ordained a creature to die in a particular place, He causeth that creature’s wants to direct him to that place.” –Frank Herbert, Dune

      Be careful what you wish for…

      Adding, not a death threat, just the best fatalistic quote I could remember. 2016, Year of Irony

      1. human

        “Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been.'” ~ John Greenleaf Whittier

      2. Susan the other

        But here is today’s silver lining – Raul made me smile with this one: Nato relies on unity but the EU is in a state of deep disunity. War with Russia would be all on the shoulders of the US, the UK and Israel and so a tad unfeasible. Too bad for Hillary.

        1. NotSoSure

          There was an article posted here in NakedCapitalism quite a while ago. It’s basically someone (very knowledgeable) postulating how war with Russia would look like. It’s a pretty good article and it basically argues that if/when there’s a war with Russia, every European monkey would be asked by the US to get out of the way so the big boys can get to it with minimal interruption.

          Sorry to burst your bubble.

          Edit: here’s the link

    2. aab

      I was agreeing with you right up until your last sentence. She will not regret it. Why would she? She’ll be the first female President of the United States. And then she’ll be dead before the worst of the shit hits the fan.

      I bet she’s only barely aware of what’s happening now. Oh, I think her vile, immoral values and loathsome, greedy and violent desires are driving her campaign. But it’s sort of like how a TV showrunner develops a house style by picking the right writers, and training and rewriting them until they can mimic the house style easily. There doesn’t really have to be a sentient “Hillary Clinton” at this point. Podesta is her campaign chair, and she’s barely in the emails. They all just go rolling along, twelve people co-writing a tweet, working together to take money from foreign agents, writing and publishing apologies for her lies in her name when she won’t say them, etc. I’m sure she understands that she’s stealing the election, but I bet she just takes that as a given. She may not have the cognition or access to information to understand how baldly and clumsily “she” is doing the stealing. She seemed to be genuinely surprised that people in the hinterlands are suffering. I’m not saying she’d care if she did understand; I think it’s pretty clear she would not. But for her to regret what’s coming, she’d have to understand it, and between her obviously failing brain, her preference for numerous layers of sycophants, and the tendency for people of wealth and power to be sealed off from unpleasant information — now turbocharged by billionaire ownership of all legacy media channels — it’s unlikely she does, or will.

  3. ArkansasAngie

    “Those readers would abandon an outlet that was more candid on these topics because it would go against their class interests and most would find it too distressing to digest.”

    I disagree.

    Revolutions take place when “these” people leave the side of the elites and join the masses.

    Humans have a sense of fairness and they will take on pain for fairness.

    I do agree that the internet has ripped apart journalism

    1. Synoia

      Revolutions happen when the Middle Class, the Managerial Class, have nothing to loose.

      Revolutions take a lot of managing. Ask yourself, where are those skills?

      I’m not considering the Jamie Dimon level of baronial skills, it is the people who consider the details, create and implement plans.

    2. Patrick

      These people rarely just up and decide to leave. They’re abandoned and make common cause with the masses.

      1. jrs

        and is there much of evidence of the revolution actually working for the benefit of the masses after “these people” have taken common cause with them?

  4. endoftheworld

    I think “the Clintons” have already stated something to the effect that all Clinton Foundation activity will be curtailed if Hill wins the election, so maybe they think that will take care of everything.

    Don’t get me wrong, I hope the Republicans do go after her. But I just don’t see it coming in any real way from people like Mitch McConnell et al. More likely they’ll just put on a dog and pony show, as usual, with no real results.

    1. weinerdog43

      “Don’t get me wrong, I hope the Republicans do go after her.”

      This is insane. This argument guarantees what Illargi characterizes as “ungovernability”. Like her or not, (I certainly don’t), she will likely have the support of millions of Americans. To actively spite her from the outset is deeply offensive. Plaintiff’s Exhibit # 1 is the republicans treatment of the nomination of Garland to the Supreme Court. To refuse to even hold a hearing, or to fill open positions on the federal bench is despicable. To further encourage these idiots is reprehensible to me.

      I already voted absentee, and certainly didn’t vote for Hillary. But i did vote for every other down ballot democrat in the vain hope some small Liberal crumb can come down the pike before the deluge.

      1. pretzelattack

        she’s been actively spiting the 99.whatever % for years. her support comes from the people ruining our society, and she may take us into war if we can’t hamstring her. we can’t influence her, or hold her feet to the fire. our hope lies in gridlock and in breaking up the parties, not supporting them in hopes some crumb will fall, imo. politics ain’t beanbag.

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        This election is likely to have low turnout and 12%+ third party vote. Which means Hillary is likely to win with less than a majority. And all Congresscritters care about is their voters, not the rest of the US. In many districts, the fact that all those blue cities (remember there are no blue states, only states with enough blue cities to make them look like blue states) voted for Clinton only serves to validate their opposition to her.

        Impeaching Clinton didn’t seem to hurt the Republicans at all, even though a lot of people took it as being about a sex scandal as opposed to obstruction of justice. Gore had to distance himself from Clinton in his 2000 campaign, remember?

        1. weinerdog43

          “Impeaching Clinton didn’t seem to hurt the Republicans at all, even though a lot of people took it as being about a sex scandal as opposed to obstruction of justice.”

          As the result of an idiotic crusade into a non scandal. I certainly do remember. I remember quite well and have zero interest in revisiting lying about a blow job. Let’s try to remember how Ken Starr led us to that sordid affair and where it started.

          My point remains. Congressional oversight is fine. Endless hearings a la “Bengahzi!” are an utter waste of time and money. If you want to see how well our current crop of republicans want to spend their time and our money, I point you to Lamar Smith and his committee.

          1. JTMcPhee

            There WAS a scandal, just not the one Gowdy chose to focus on — the scandal of funneling weapons via the Embassy and that CIA “safe house” and its “connections.” Dumping weapons and “trainers” and “paramilitaries on special operations” into formerly more or less stable places, to “support” various “war bands,” at least the subset of anomic armed young men with no other decent identity or employment, and strong attraction to the FUN of armed violence as a means to dominate and belong, and simply to eat. War bands that “we” so jocularly refer to as “moderate rebels,” and more often deprecate as Daesh/ISIS, “al Quaeda,” Boko Haram and the like.

        2. Tom_Doak

          Bill Clinton never had a majority, either, but his ambitions were not deterred at all because of that. [More to the point, he only really did most of the things he did once the Republicans took back Congress and he had to “compromise” with them.] For that matter, George W. squeaked by in the narrowest of circumstances, twice, and acted like he’d won by as large a measure as Napoleon.

          Hillary will declare any win a landslide – she will play the Stevie Nicks version – and march us forward into the face of trouble.

      3. Katharine

        It is not a question of spite, however much that may be present. There are a lot of very proper questions that should indeed be asked about her past activities, and it would be an appropriate function of the House to ask those questions. That, in my view, does not qualify as a constitutional crisis; it is explicitly provided for in the Constitution. What might constitute a crisis would be those millions of supporters’ trying to derail a legitimate investigation by political protests. It is one thing to express opinions and to insist that any investigation be conducted honestly, but quite another to try to prevent it from happening. That would be a constitutional crisis.

        1. weinerdog43

          You are correct regarding the House’s Constitutional duties, but your you are being naive if you think it would be a serious inquiry. The House as it is currently invested is actually incapable of conducting a legitimate investigation. I think we are well past the point where one can expect any sort of Congressional “investigation” to actually accomplish anything except to satisfy the prurient interests of the Beltway media.

          1. pretzelattack

            well, clinton may not be capable of conducting a legitimate presidency, and an investigation might slow her down, the way the impeachment hearings slowed down bill on privatizing social security. this will please the millions that think she is the more effective evil than trump. we mustn’t forget them.

            1. JTMcPhee

              Why not forget them? They’re “losers,” by definition and tradition. /s Work Hard. Go die. Got to remember the rules…

      4. Ivy

        Clinton, the “foundation”, et al are performing a type of leveraged buyout of the American process and structure of governance with the dividends going to nobody in the 99% in any form. By selling off access with the multiple accounts of pay to play, and undermining the legitimacy of her own campaign and that of others such as Sanders, she has set back the American political tradition and ethos for her personal gain and that of her as-yet unindicted co-conspirators. The country went through upheaval due to Watergate, and will again due to the Clintons.

        If she wins, my fervent hope is that she be held to extreme, transparent scrutiny in the court of public opinion as well as in the judicial system. To do less would be to subject Americans to further degradation of their country and its institutions.

        1. weinerdog43

          I’ve got a bunch of work to finish today, so I’ll have to leave with this…

          Any “investigations” of the Clinton Foundation will be done under the auspices of the House Judiciary Committee. Here are a few of the members…
          Bob Goodlatte, Chair
          Jim Sensenbrenner
          Lamar Smith
          Jason Chaffetz
          Darrell Issa
          Louie Gohmert
          Trey Gowdy
          Steve King, etc…

          I might have more respect for the process if I didn’t think it would be anything more than a circus.

      5. jgordon

        If Hillary didn’t want a broken and ungovernable term as president, she always had the option of not rigging the Democratic primaries against Bernie, and then colluding with the media and Democratic operatives such as Robert Creamer do to rig the election against Trump.

        If Hillary wins, it’s because she STOLE it, the god damned thief. So go stuff your “support of millions of Americans” up your rear. Let’s have endless rounds of impeachments and obstruction from here on out.

      6. animalogic

        On the Clinton issue — it may be “insane” , but there is also an element of justice, AND utility in trying to bring Clinton “down” after November.
        Clinton is a moral grotesque. Her past actions more than adequately condemn her.
        And utility ? US politics is systemically corrupt. It will NOT be fixed short of a crisis. Perhaps bringing down Clinton will precipitate such a crisis. It is then up to average Americans to form a better system of politics on the rotten corpse of the existing one.
        No future course, no change will be “painless”. The question is, to what extent change can be directed to the benefit of average Americans.

  5. Steve H.

    ‘Ungovernability’ in a wonderful word for the breakdown this election is both highlighting and obscuring. Clintons is merely the iconic poster child that brings it all into focus.

    This is the breakdown of the information security state. We focus on the individual failures, easily forgetting ‘make better systems, don’t wish for better humans.’ So a self-entitled individual with the power to subvert the safety systems left a State Departments classified information wide-open. A headline today says Podesta fell for a phishing attack.

    But it’s not just the HRC and DNC email hacks. It’s not just Snowden, it’s the 50-terabyte guy. It’s the NSA demanding backdoors and then having their cracking programs released online (“But not all, we are auction the best files.”) It’s the very notion of information security, demanding dirt to inoculate against blackmail on an individual level, when the OPM data breach allows industrial scale selection.

    And, wow, that’s without the IOT hacks, billions of bots demanding you ope wide the gates. The marketplace at work. Which is why governance in the sense of regulation is so important.

    So how is it that a person can be all “Law and Order” on the one hand and “DeRegulate!” on the other? Or vice versa?

    Do I contradict myself?
    Very well then I contradict myself,
    (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

    1. Susan the other

      what’s the worst that can happen? everybody knows everything? why is that so bad? we all will have the info we need to change! if there are no secrets the regulations will appear – like zen :)

      1. Steve H.

        ah, but the generation of secrets is non-conserved and selected for. everybody knowing everything? inconCeiveable! as for changing simply because we have the information:

        Lady Bracknell: I have always been of opinion that a man who desires to get married should know either everything or nothing. Which do you know?

        Jack. [After some hesitation.] I know nothing, Lady Bracknell.

        Lady Bracknell. I am pleased to hear it. I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone. The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever. If it did, it would prove a serious danger to the upper classes, and probably lead to acts of violence in Grosvenor Square.

  6. Bob Haugen

    At least 3 excellent standalone stories on this page:
    * Yves’ comments above about news media,
    * end of growth,
    * ungovernability.

    1. Mark John


      As per the news media, I sense there is a growing distinction between what I would call “old” media, where the journalist is charged with curating the information to which the public is exposed, and “new” media, led by Wikileaks, which presents information in unvarnished form, allowing the reader to curate or disseminate the material for him/herself. NakedCapitalism is part of this movement, offering a forum to anyone who wishes to do analysis.

      As for the other two, the woeful lack of organization on the left is showing all too well. Parts have been bought off and accommodated into neoliberal governance (see Francois Hollande). While serious efforts are being taken to reorganize, what time is left to be part of what comes next remains to be seen. It is a herculean challenge.

    2. akaPaul LaFargue

      Yes, three stories and the comments seem targeted on the 1st and 3rd and take side-ways glances at the 2nd: End of Growth. Maybe Yves and Lambert should spend some time (of course so too, should all of the readers!) on the European movement that has been focused on “Growth” in a more sophisticated (in the sense of thinking out many implications, not necessarily in an astute manner) than any group in the USA. The best site to start getting acquainted with their analysis is here

      In English one could read their compilation of essays on various topics – my reason for using “sophisticated” – with each two or three page intros and an extensive biblio. The book is called Degrowth: A Vocabulary for a New Era, (2014) and here is the website

  7. human

    Unless, as I wrote earlier, we see dictators in the west.

    Private health insurance purchase mandate, organized inter-state paramilitary crackdown of effective non-violent protest, threat to override a constitutional override of a veto, secret law, signing statements, “unitary” decisions to go to war, a sitting president bemoaning the fact that governing would be easier if he were a dictator (W) …

    I do believe that we have been there for a while.

  8. DJG

    I’m not as sure about the essay’s assertion about places like Greece or Italy. You still have a good deal of social peace in those countries. You don’t see angry “ranchers” taking over wildlife refuges and brandishing guns.

    The US of A and the U.K. are likely to be in more delicate positions because of years of desparate attempts to maintain tottering empires, by a certain disdain for work and a definite disdain for those who do the work, and by repression of a discussion of social class. You don’t have to be Karl Marx to see how the English-speaking world has avoided any discussion of the consequences of its policies.

    Throw in U.S. religion with its certainties about who is the redeemed. Throw in the flood of guns. Throw in the current “skepticism” of science that has turned into an exercise in self-defeat and panic over such “dangers” as fluoridated water. Throw in Donald Trump, who is a magnification of the failings of the U.S. managerial class, Trump being on setting 11, as the rest of them bumble along on setting 7, raking in the stock options and guaranteed bonuses and such. Throw in the Clintons and their endless “try-to-catch-me” flimflammery. All of this is prescription for unrest, which can be handled as Occupy Wall Street was handled. Neverthless, in the English-speaking world, I see more panic than politics.

    Ungovernability? From whose point of view? Maybe those of us who are groundlings should never be governable.

    1. sharonsj

      There have been constant protests in Greece over austerity measures. And there have been riots and protests in Italy. (try googling both) Just because the lamestream media won’t cover it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Nor do you seem to be aware of just how furious the American public really is.

  9. disc_writes

    I do not think that Grillo’s party will wipe out the other parties, or the existing political system in Italy. It will more likely go the way of Syriza, first making promises it cannot hold, then falling in line with the mainstream, collapsing, or both.

    In a somewhat different way, the PVV will not gain power in the Netherlands. The economy is not doing that badly and people are annoyed, but not desperate. And the Netherlands still has a proportional electoral system: a party needs allies in order to rule, and the PVV has no allies. Mainstream parties can still band together. My bet is on a VVD government with support from unlikely partners.

    I do not mean to disprove the thesis that we are heading into ungovernability: I largely agree. I just do not think the political collapse will happen at once, but it will be gradual and take longer. The mainstream still has a lot of control on society.

    As a comparison, Italy has arguably been ungovernable and bankrupt since 1991-1992. Yet the same political class, the same figureheads, the same slogans and approaches still survive.
    Just like the Italians knew that a reckoning was coming at the end of 1980s, Europeans now know that a reckoning is due. How long it will take, and what it will be, is anyone’s guess.

  10. JTMcPhee

    Am I missing something, or is Ilargi just re-stating that hoary trite yet percipient Gramsci-ism, “The old is dying and the new cannot be born. In this interregnum, there arises a great diversity of morbid symptoms.”? Albeit with a fair dash of current symptoms stirred in?

    “We,” to the extent that there is such a personification, have no fokking notion and certainly not even minimal agreement on what “we” want from “our” political economy. Or apparently even any serious desire to survive as a species. All is power, massing of wealth and weapons, exsanguination of the planet because what — the pleasure that comes with domination? What do Tapper and Clinton and Ash Carter and Dimon and Blankfein and Kochs and the rest, all the ones mostly invisible to “us” mopes, have in common with “John the Brit” about to saw the head off an unresisting captive?

  11. Susan the other

    the antidote – undoubtedly why Yves gives us one daily – is that it is in the nature of living creatures to do the most expedient thing… government is self-government above all else. stg. in yesterday’s intro about us all being caught in the web of social obligations so we are slow to adapt has its good side – social obligation is usually pretty self-evident; it arcs toward justice as MLK said. and for the planet, it is a no-brainer we have to fix our mess, and we will.

  12. Synoia

    What America and Britain would need right now is a ‘traditional media outlet’ -just one- that is actually objective;

    The British press have never been impartial. They were, are, and will be party and class aligned.

    1. Oregoncharles

      The American press mostly hasn’t, either. It just pretended for a while – but the pretense supported the status quo.

  13. sunny129

    ‘A country full of people pointing fingers at others, while remaining blind to their own failures’

    tell me one Country in the World that this doesn’t apply?

  14. sunny129

    ‘Ungovernability’ is a wonderful word’

    Believe it or not, I see some hope there, beyond CHAOS, of,for and by the vested parties of all kind!

    If Mkt crashes or slowly languishes and melts slowly or if recession lands, guess who who will get the blame and the target for anger from the masses?

  15. Oregoncharles

    This leads me to a political insight: the big problem with Jill Stein as a candidate is that, for all her virtues, she’s far too nice. What people want is a bull in a china shop, and that is not what she is. We need a Beppe Grillo. If Roseanne Barr hadn’t run completely off the rails, I’d be thinking we should have nominated her.

    (Digression: fact-checkers tried releasing a bull in a china shop, and it proved very careful. Nothing got broken. Nonetheless, that’s how we say it. Maybe “giant upraised middle finger” is more like it.)

    I don’t offhand know of anyone who qualifies. The whole tone of the party would have to change. If we’re lucky, we have 4 years to think about it. But Ilargi is saying we might not be. So is the Archdruid. I don’t think our politics are going to get any calmer, and probably less so. On the bright side, at least for me: right-wing Dems in power are good for the Green Party.

  16. Oregoncharles

    There’s a poem about this, “The Second Coming,” by William Butler Yeats. I’m tempted to start quoting it a lot. The first and last lines (from memory):

    “Things come apart, the center does not hold…

    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?”

    Written in the 1920s.

  17. Jim

    For a little historical context on the issue of legitimacy, it is important to remember that back in 1975 Jurgen Habermas wrote a book entitled ” Legitimazation Crisis.” In that analysis he argued that the growing legitimazation crisis in Western societies centered around the collapse of the historical compromise between capital and labor. According to this compromise labor forfeited decision-making options to a growing technostructure entrusted with retaining unchanged existing relations of domination, in exchange for effectively higher wages, affluence and an abundance of consumer goods.

    For Habermas this compromise collapsed when this technocratic structure became overcentralized and isolated from any feedback mechanisms provided by the constituency it was supposedly set up to serve. As a result of such overcentralizaton there was an erosion of conditions that allowed for the systems smooth functioning– and thereby engendering economic crisis, a rationality crisis (no feedback mechanisms between labor and capital) and a motivation crisis which allowed for the development of what came to be known as the state-dependent personality.

    This, then, new legitimation crisis was the result of these other three crises and could only supposedly be resolved through a redemocratization of politics which would hopefully relegitimate “liberal democratic” systems.

    His misguided assumption was that only undistorted communication would necessarily generate a rational consensus translatable into a more rational administrative structure for future governmental stability.

    1. animalogic

      “For Habermas this compromise collapsed when this technocratic structure became overcentralized and isolated from any feedback mechanisms provided by the constituency it was supposedly set up to serve.”
      I am willing to accept that this technocratic explanation is part of the story– not all the story.
      The 70’s represented a period of significant structural change — very disturbing change. A few highlights: US failure in Viet nam ( & the perceived failure of “guns & butter”), Nixon taking the US off the gold standard, emergence of Germany & Japan as major economic competitors, the “oil crisis”, stagflation & (in terms of immediate perception) the whole cultural revolution — ie women’s rights, race equality (the white unspoken fear that they might have to share with black people), sex & drugs promiscuity, open rebellion against authority…etc.
      Into this stew the Right realised that not did it not have to, but that it did not WANT TO continue compromising with Labour ( ie compromise with the 99%) It’s the time when the 1% decided they could no longer be patient with even the appearances of democracy.
      Thus is born Reaganism & Thatcherism. A conscious return to Oligarchy, in great part, facilitated by a huge rip-tide of white middle class anxiety, resentment & inarticulate racism.

  18. Ping

    I have to go along with Assange’s “consolodation” assesment of our current situation.

    We see that the mainstream media and 3 branchs of government with finance spigots of money have converged. In my view there is not that much difference between establishment repub and democratic parties…..both hell bent on global domination and carving up the “commons” for profiteers.

  19. David

    There are the haves and the haves nots.
    The have nots have money and the haves have means of earning money.
    The have nots have run out of means of multiplying their money in the private sector.

    The move to privatization of traditional government functions is the flag that warns the non-government sector is not growing to be pillaged for the benefit of the Wall Street crowd. They are now left with the last standing sector of the economy to be raped, the tax revenues paid by the people.

    Taxes are supposed to be used for the benefit of the present and future of the Citizens. When this is needed by the financial engineers to keep their game afloat it should be obvious that there is no growth in the non-government economy.

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