A Poisoned Chalice?

A Poisoned Chalice?

December 15, 2020

by Observer R for the Saker Blog

The Biden v Trump 2020 election controversy has generated a lot of accusations and squabbles over evidence or lack thereof. Less common is an explanation of the strategy of the legal teams on both sides. To what extent is the Trump legal team trying to goad the voting system companies into suing the Trump campaign for defamation? How does the Trump team plan to get into a court where they can call for discovery, produce witnesses, and cross-examine witnesses? What is the Biden team’s strategy, other than trying to get the cases thrown out early to prevent dramatic movie-style courtroom battles? If the Trump team is trying to get to the Supreme Court as fast as possible, what do they plan to do once they get there? What is the strategy of the voting system companies, other than denials and refusing to show up at investigative hearings?

Possibilities

Do the political parties even want to win? If the stock market is a giant bubble and the real estate market is also pumped up by easy money and low interest rates, what happens when the bubble bursts? The economy has already slumped due to the virus and the lockdowns. The US national debt is way into the danger zone as is the budget deficit. The helicopter money cannot go on forever without the dollar going the way of Zimbabwe money. A possible result could be Great Depression II which would forever tarnish the reputation of whoever was President at the time. The President could look forward to being called Herbert Hoover II. The party in office at the time could look forward to defeat in the next election, and probably to defeats in several more elections. On the other hand, if the opposing party could put up a candidate for President in the 2024 election who could act, look, and speak like a proper president, that party might hold office for a considerable length of time. If successful, that President would fill a historical role as Franklin Delano Roosevelt II. In other words, winning the 2020 election might turn out to be like winning the proverbial poisoned chalice. Better for the party to wait until 2024.

The Democrats put up two candidates in 2020 who fared poorly in the primaries and generated very little enthusiasm in the campaign, with relatively small crowds of supporters. Campaigning from the basement was hardly inspiring and the many mental lapses provoked more sympathy than support. It seemed as if many of the ballots were not so much votes for Biden as votes against Trump. One could wonder if the Democrats did the calculations and decided to put up candidates who would likely lose the election. The Republicans, for their part, seemed to waste most of four years time when they should have been working on re-election tactics. The Republicans could have done something much earlier to set up competing television, print, and social media, instead of leaving the field mainly to the Democrats. The Republicans complained about slanted coverage and censorship being directed mostly at them, but did very little to combat it. The Republican administration was unable to get many of the federal agencies to act in a non-partisan manner. Finally, the Republican Party was also unable to put more polish on its candidates and to do a better job of writing speeches and sound-bites. It did not seem like they were very much interested in winning.

On the other hand, maybe the parties really did want to win in 2020. Both parties went at mud-slinging with gusto. The Democrats had the mainstream media in full cry, using every possible way, fair or foul, to discredit the other party’s candidates. The Democrats also made herculean efforts to ensure that their candidates received as many votes as possible, allegedly by any means possible. So, despite fielding a less-than-stellar cast of candidates, by election time the Democrats seemed determined to win. The strategy seemed to be that an avalanche of after-midnight absentee ballots would put Biden over the top in the swing states, then the mainstream television networks would call the election for Biden. At that point, Trump would make the usual concession speech and the Democrats could go forward with transition-team planning and house hunting. It all went according to plan, except for a small wrinkle when Trump declined to concede. He even went further and declared the election to be fraudulent. This off-script behavior so upset some of the media that they censored the President in mid-speech. At this point, the gloves came off and the Republicans decided to maybe look like they really wanted to win after all. Whistleblowers came forward and claims of scandalous irregularities appeared, along with a flurry of lawsuits. Even if it turned out not to be enough to keep Trump in the White House, it would serve to fire up the Republican base and help organize a four-year obstruction campaign against the Biden Administration. The Republicans even started greater use of alternative media instead of relying on crumbs from Fox News. The network had basically sided with the Democrats when it came to calling the election and Republican viewership and support for the network fell dramatically.

Difficulties

For the first three weeks after the election on November 3 things seemed to be going favorably for the Democrats. The Republican allegations were not taken seriously by the mainstream media and were considered more like sour grapes or just more Trump tantrums. Biden went ahead with setting up his team and most interest centered on who he would pick for the important cabinet posts. Foreign governments allied with the US immediately congratulated Biden on his supposed win, and even most of the holdout governments capitulated after a while. Notably, Israel and China were slow, but eventually got onboard. The only remaining major holdout was Russia. Republican attempts to seek remedy in the state courts seemed to go nowhere, and the Republicans could not get traction in the federal courts either. Biden looked like the winner. Then a few storm clouds appeared on November 25. Catholics and Jews had filed suit against the lockdown rules in New York, which they claimed discriminated against churches. They had lost a previous suit earlier in the summer, but this time the US Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 in their favor. It was noted that the newest justice cast the deciding vote, thus validating the intense worries of the Democrats when Trump was able to appoint three justices. In addition, on the same day, lawyers for the Republicans filed suits in federal courts seeking to invalidate the election results in Georgia and Michigan. Just prior to this, the Republicans had managed to get a public hearing in the Pennsylvania legislature concerning the allegations of improprieties in the election. A federal court in Nevada set a hearing for December 3 concerning election issues in that state. These actions moved the Republican complaints out of just the alternative media and gossip columns and into official channels. Now things began to get dicey for both parties.

More Difficulties

The lawyers for the Democrats will have to try to discredit the whistleblowers’ testimony and try to prevent election officials from being called to testify under oath in court. The mainstream media supporting the Democrats will have to try to minimize the court actions and direct public attention elsewhere. Lawyers for the Republicans will try to do the opposite. Of course, it may turn out that the Republican Party’s evidence is weak and not persuasive enough for the courts to interfere with the election results. On the other hand, if evidence of a major election scandal is produced, the recent action of the Supreme Court does not bode well for the Democrats. It will be very tricky for the Republicans to produce such evidence. This has nothing to do with the facts of the election, but with the outing of who did what and when. The alleged evidence appears to depend in large part on the activities of certain voting system companies.

Trump and his supporters keep calling for documents to be declassified, but nothing much seems to happen. One of the former CIA directors calls for keeping things classified, but it is not clear what, if anything, the classified information has to do with the election. If the Trump lawyers reveal the evidence they claim to have concerning voting fraud in the US, how can they prevent that action from indirectly producing evidence of voting fraud in other countries around the world that were using the same software, hardware, and voting system companies? Some articles on the internet allege that voting system companies operating at elections in the US are actually owned or controlled by foreign companies. We have been subjected to more than four years of allegations and investigations of foreign interference in US elections and hacking by foreign parties. So it would seem prudent to make sure that elections in the US are only supported by US-owned and controlled companies and only use software and hardware developed and built in the US. So the Democrats have every incentive to prove that the voting system companies are US companies and have US headquarters. The Democrats also have every incentive to abandon their long claim of Russian interference in US elections, as well as to deny any foreign hacking of the 2020 election systems. The Republicans have to walk a very narrow path as they cannot allege any Russian interference now after denying it for more than four years, but they cannot point a finger at Western countries being involved either. This latter problem means that the experience of elections in certain other countries should not be mentioned. The Republicans are thus left with blaming the usual suspects—Venezuela, Iran, China—who are the current bad countries listed by the Trump administration. The Republicans seem unlikely to claim in federal court that the “Deep State” is mounting a “color revolution” against them even though the actions appear to be right out of the much-discussed color revolution handbook.

Even More Difficulties

Up until the first week of December, the Biden supporters were mostly successful in preventing the Trump supporters from getting traction in the courts or in the mainstream media. The media had censored or spun the alleged voting scandals to such a great extent that most of the public did not know what Trump was talking about when he mentioned issues concerning Hunter Biden. This censorship began to fall apart when Hunter himself admitted that he was under investigation by the IRS concerning tax issues. Then some news media in Washington detailed how Hunter was also under investigation by US Attorneys in several states for possible illegal activities, and that Joe’s brother James Biden was also under investigation. The news about Hunter’s laptop gained wider circulation. In the meantime, however, the swing states certified the election for Biden despite the Republican efforts to delay. In an amazing coincidence, more information about the connections between the Bidens and China was aired at the same time as more information about Chinese spying in the US. So just as the Democrats used “RussiaGate” against Trump, the Republicans appear to be setting up “ChinaGate” to use against Biden. Then to top it all off, the State of Texas filed suit in the US Supreme Court against four of the swing states (Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin) concerning the election. Texas was joined by eighteen other states, with three more leaning toward support. In response, nineteen other states joined the swing states against the Texas suit. This was an unprecedented legal maneuver that was mostly a surprise. The US Supreme Court was quick to dismiss the lawsuit on December 11, 2020, for “lack of standing” by Texas, thus joining other courts in finding procedural reasons for not getting involved. The Electoral College voting is on December 14 and is expected to favor Biden. There may be more surprises as analysts are wondering what was the point of Executive Order 13848, Imposing Certain Sanctions in the Event of Foreign Interference in a United States Election, signed September 12, 2018, as well as the reason for replacing the top managers of DoD intelligence immediately after the election. The Executive Order requires the Director of National Intelligence to issue a report by December 18, 2020, concerning the 2020 election. On January 6, 2021, Congress meets to certify the electoral vote. This is normally a rubber-stamp affair, but it is still possible to have a surprise at this point.

Future Difficulties

Regardless of who becomes President in 2021, a cloud will hang over future elections. Just as many Democrats still hold to the belief that the 2000 election for President was stolen, many Republicans will continue to believe that the 2020 election was stolen. If/when Biden is sworn in as President, the Republicans will worry that there will be little urgency on the part of the Federal authorities to investigate any aspect of the 2020 election. The Democrats will likely use their successful electioneering strategy in both the 2022 election and the 2024 presidential campaign. The strategy appears to be most applicable in densely populated areas which happen to be mostly Democrat. The strategy appears to be less useful in small towns and rural areas populated by Republicans. This asymmetry gives the Democrats an advantage in statewide elections, whereas district elections are more of a level playing field. A surplus of votes in one district does not affect the outcome in other districts, although such a surplus can swing a statewide total. This could affect statewide races for office such as governor, secretary of state, attorney general, US senator, as well as the national offices of President and Vice President. The Republicans will, therefore, be searching for a viable counter-strategy. If, on the other hand, Trump somehow stays in office, there might be a concerted effort by Federal agents to dismantle the big city voting strategy. The stakes are very high as the US states are rapidly becoming less united.

Trump will continue political civil war to maintain his relevance: analyst

November 20, 2020 – 21:12

By Amir Mohammad Esmaeili

 TEHRAN – Jim W. Dean, the managing editor of Veterans Today, tells the Tehran Times that Donald Trump is going to continue the American political civil war to maintain his relevance, and also to help protect himself from prosecution. 

“There are many, even in U.S. intelligence, who have considered him a national security threat, and who fully expect him to profit from selling U.S. classified material for his personal interest and attempt to rebuild himself after he leaves office as the ideology enforcer of the Republican party, as a big Mafia Don, even those running in primary elections must kneel and kiss the ring of ‘Don’ Trump,” notes Dean, who comes from an old military family going back to the American Revolution.

Here is the full text of the interview:

Q: How do you analyze the U.S. presidential election and its following consequences? 
 
A: It is both a relief and a torment. The thought of four more years of an autocratic Trump regime would have put 79 million Americans into a depression. And not the least of that would be because we have been looking forward to his losing his presidential immunity so the legal cases, including criminal ones, can proceed against him and his family. 

“There are many, even in U.S. intelligence, who have considered him (Trump) a national security threat, and who fully expect him to profit from selling U.S. classified material for his personal profit.”Hundreds of retired ex-prosecutors are ready to assist in this process, people who have served both Republican and Democratic administrations. They are joined in the belief that Trump should be made an example of to dissuade any future autocratic new president thinking that he can follow in Trump’s shoes.

There are many, even in U.S. intelligence, who have considered him a national security threat, and who fully expect him to profit from selling U.S. classified material for his personal profit and attempt to rebuild himself after he leaves office as the ideology enforcer of the Republican party, as a big Mafia Don, even those running in primary elections must kneel and kiss the ring of ‘Don’ Trump.

Q: How do you see the current chaotic situation in the U.S.?

A: The chaos in the election count is subsiding. The Washington Post, three months prior to the election had revealed the White House plan to contest the election due to Trump being so behind in the polls. It has turned into a circus that will stain the Republican party for years. 

Their original plan was focused on challenging a close election, but Rudy Giuliani is now viewed as taking a wrecking ball to that strategy. He chose to flood the courts with scores of election fraud claims, many of them based on Twitter social media platform reports alone. 

That, combined with Trump’s tweeting about “The Steal”, blew up the original plan with almost all of the early challenge cases being thrown out for lack of evidence. Some judges hinted that the attorneys presenting them might have their law licenses taken away. Pro-Trump law firms have begun backing off filing any more cases, including in Pennsylvania.

The political strategy now seems to be focused on challenging the vote count with nitpicks as a way to operate a fundraising scam that will fund a Trump supporter PAC called Save America. Trump is thinking of revenge and needs to be able to control his base to intimidate the Republican leadership and to be a critic of the Biden presidency.

The man wants to continue hogging the media spotlight with his endless false claims to keep his base riled up, the biggest of which will be that the election was stolen from him, and them.

Q: How do you assess the reaction of the U.S. political and security apparatus to the political unrest? 

A: There had been months of preparation for election unrest, both for street protests and rioting. But there was also contingency planning for the possibility that an angry Trump might do some crazy things, including starting a conflict somewhere. 

“Trump is thinking of revenge and needs to be able to control his base to intimidate the Republican leadership and to be a critic of the Biden presidency.”This planning even involved a high alert being put out for any possible false flag attack being planned which could justify a Trump “retaliatory” strike. The scenarios included a possible nuclear event where Trump could call a national emergency. 

On the political end, we know from White House leaks via the Washington Post, that Trump asked his staff to consider the nuclear option of demanding the Republican State legislatures take the step of casting their respective state Electoral College votes for Trump, under a Constitutional pathway that has never been used.

The consensus, so far, is that the Republican Party going forward would not want that on their record. The Supreme Court has already hinted it does not want to get involved in an election court case and is letting some items on its docket just run out of time. It does not want its reputation besmirched by a desperate Trump.

Q:  Will U.S. foreign policy towards West Asia change in Biden’s presidency? 

A: Biden has sent some early signals, such as the unipolar Trump foreign policy mania seems to be history. The EU will be the first benefactor for renewing better relations. This triggers some early responses inside the EU that it is time to take responsibility for its own defense, which will be popular with American taxpayers. 

Biden has indicated the U.S. rejoining the JCPOA, but then later attached some conditions to it, which could doom that move. 

Expect Biden to be a hawk with Russia, China, and North Korea, but trying to bring a coalition along with him so he does not follow the Trump lead of talking one game and then doing another.

قراءة في المشهدالسياسي الأميركي عشية الانتخابات (1)

زياد حافظ

يعتبر العديد من المراقبين الأميركيين والدوليين والعرب أنّ الانتخابات الأميركية التي ستجري في مطلع شهر تشرين الثاني/ نوفمبر 2020 نقطة تحوّل تاريخية في مسار الأمور سواء كانت على الصعيد الداخلي الأميركي أو على الصعيد الدولي. فعلى الصعيد الداخلي يأمل البعض أن هزيمة الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب أمر حتمي سيعيد الأمور “إلى نصابها” دون التحديد ما هو مقصود بذلك. في المقابل هناك من يعتقد أنّ الرئيس الأميركي ما زال قويّاً ويتمتع بقاعدة صلبة ستمكّنه من الاستمرار في البيت الأبيض لمدة أربع سنوات إضافية. لكن بعيداً عن التكهّنات والتوقّعات من الطرفين المتخاصمين على الساحة الداخلية الأميركية هناك عدّة ملاحظات يمكن إبدائها حول التطوّرات المقبلة.

الملاحظة الأولى هي أنّ انتخابات 2020 هي استكمال لانتخابات 2016 التي لم تنته آنذاك بسبب رفض الحزب الديمقراطي ومعه النسيج الليبرالي والنيوليبرالي للنخب الحاكمة والدولة العميقة المتمثّلة بالمجمّع العسكري الصناعي الأمني المالي والإعلامي لنتائج تلك الانتخابات. فالسنوات الأربع التي مضت لم تشهد إلا محاولات (فاشلة) لخلع أو إسقاط الرئيس الأميركي عبر تلفيق اتهامات بالتواطؤ مع روسيا التي “تدخّلت” في الانتخابات عبر قرصنة البريد الخاص بالمنافسة الديمقراطية هيلاري كلنتون. لم تقبل القيادة الديمقراطية بأنّ المنافِسة كلينتون خاضت معركة سيئة ظهر فيها التعالي والاحتقار لشريحة واسعة من الشعب الأميركي (وصفتهم بالمنبوذين!) بل حاولت تبرير الهزيمة على التدخّل الروسي. ما تبع ذلك من تحقيقات واسعة النطاق أفضت إلى أنه لم يكن هناك أيّ دليل على التدخل. كما أنّ محاولات أخرى للإطاحة عبر محاكمة الرئيس بتهمة سوء استعمال السلطات لم تفض إلى شيء. المهم أنّ حالة الانقسام الحاد سادت في المشهد السياسي الداخلي بل تفاقم إلى حدود قد تصل إلى حرب أهلية داخلية.

الملاحظة الثانية هي أنّ الانتخابات ستجري في مناخ مضطرب للغاية حيث جائحة كورونا أفضت إلى بطالة فاقت 40 مليون وتدهور في الواقع الاقتصادي والاجتماعي ينذر بمآسي الكساد الكبير الذي ساد في الثلاثينات من القرن الماضي، وإلى موجة احتجاجات عنصرية وصلت في العديد من الحالات إلى اعتداءات على الأملاك العامة والخاصة وذلك وسط دعوات لإسقاط دوائر الشرطة وعدم تمويلها ودعوات الدفاع عن النفس من قبل المجموعات التي اعتبرت نفسها مستهدفة من خصومها أياً كانوا!

الملاحظة الثالثة هي أنّ تسييس جائحة كورونا من قبل ترامب وخصومه على حدّ سواء جعلت مواجهة الجائحة من الأمور الصعبة. ففي المراحل الأولى كان موقف الإدارة من الجائحة مائعاً حيث خطورتها لم تكن لتحظى بانتباهها بينما في مرحلة ثانية كان التشدّد في اتخاذ الإجراءات الصارمة لكن في المرحلة الثالثة (الحالية) هناك المزيج من التشدّد والتخفيف في الإجراءات. بات واضحاً أنه ليست هناك قناعة بأنّ الجائحة هي خطر فعلي بسبب تناقض التقارير الطبية والعلمية حولها. هذا حديث آخر لكن في آخر المطاف أصبح جزءاً من الخطاب اليومي والفاصل بين مؤيّد لسياسة الإدارة في مواجهة الجائحة ومعارض لها ليس على قاعدة علمية بل على قاعدة سياسية محض. وهذا الخلاف يساهم في تأجيج الاستقطاب والشحن الداخلي حيث المعركة أصبحت معركة تكسير عظم ليس إلاّ.

الملاحظة الرابعة هي انّ تجمّع الشركات الكبرى والإعلام والحزب الديمقراطي ساهم في تأجيج الخطاب المناهض للعنصرية ضدّ السود ولكن بالتصويب على إدارة ترامب. فالشركات الكبرى كشركة “نايك” للملبوسات الرياضية وشركة “أمازون” على سبيل المثال والمؤسسات التي تحمل شعارات الانفتاح كمؤسسة جورج سوروس دعمت مالياً حركة “بي أل أم” (بلاك لايفز ماتر، أي حياة السود مهمة) ولذلك لتحويل الانتباه عن الاقتصادية والاجتماعية لجائحة كورونا. كما أنّ تشجيع الاحتجاجات ضدّ العنصرية أدّت إلى تصاعد أعمال الشغب ضدّ الأملاك العامة والخاصة وذلك بمباركة الحزب الديمقراطي والمرشّح الرئاسي جوزيف بايدن. لكن ذلك ترافق مع نقض رموز الثورة الأميركية بحجة أنهم كانوا من ملاّكي الرقيق. هذا شكّل صدمة في صفوف بين البيض الأميركيين حيث أصبحوا يعتبرون أنفسهم مستهدفين من قبل عنصرية معاكسة. كما أنّ الحزب الديمقراطي بتبنّيه إعادة النظر في مؤسسات الشرطة جعله يقترن بحزب الفوضى. وتنامي حركات اليسار المتطرّف كحركة “أنتيفا” ساهم في تأجيج الخوف من الفوضى. هذا أدّى إلى تصاعد التأييد للرئيس الأميركي في استطلاعات الرأي العام حيث التعادل الو التفوّق البسيط يسقط التفاؤل المفرط الذي كان سائداً لصالح جوزيف بايدن.

الملاحظة الخامسة هي تراجع الصحّة العقلية للمرشح بايدن حيث حرص الحزب الديمقراطي على تقليل الظهور العلني له والاكتفاء بإلقاء الخطابات المكتوبة وعدم الارتجال. كما أنّ زعيمة الأكثرية الديمقراطية في مجلس الممثلين نانسي بيلوسي دعت إلى إلغاء المناظرات المرتقبة بين الرئيس الأميركي ومنافسه خشية من تحطيم صورة المرشّح أمام الشعب الأميركي. من جهة أخرى، فإنّ اختيار كامالا هاريس كمرشحة لمنصب نائب رئيس لم يساعد الحزب الديمقراطي على زيادة التأييد له في الانتخابات المقبلة بسبب عدم شعبيتها خارج ولاية كاليفورنيا التي تصوّت تلقائياً للمرشح الديمقراطي وخاصة في المدن الكبرى. وبالتالي لن تقدم أيّاً من الولايات المتأرجحة، بينما لو تمّ اختيار حاكمة ولاية ميشيغان غريتشن ويتمر أو الشيخة عن ولاية مينيسوتا امي كلوبشار، لتحسّنت ظروف بايدن بالفوز بالولايتين المتأرجحتين.

هذه الملاحظات تعكس مدى الاضطراب في المشهد الداخلي الأميركي. وما يؤكّد على ذلك التحوّل الذي يجري يوماً بعد يوم في استطلاعات الرأي العام حيث التفوّق الكبير الذي كان يحظى به بايدن في مطلع الصيف تراجع إلى مستوى التعادل وحتى في بعض الأحيان إلى الموقع السلبي. السيولة الفائقة في استطلاعات الرأي العام تعني أنه من الصعب التكهّن من سيفوز بالانتخابات الرئاسية في تشرين الثاني. وما يزيد الطين بلّة هو الانفصام بين القاعدة الشابة للحزب الديمقراطي والقيادة التي شاخت وذلك في للعديد من الملفّات الداخلية والخارجية ما يجعل إقبال الشباب الديمقراطي على الاقتراع مسألة غير محسومة. من جهة أخرى أعرب برني ساندر عن قلقه لمسار الحملة الانتخابية للمرشح بايدن ما يعزّز القلق حول فرص الفوز في تشرين الثاني المقبل.

كاتب وباحث اقتصادي سياسي والأمين العام السابق للمؤتمر القومي العربي

Bipartisan effort to oust the outsider Trump makes 2nd US stimulus unlikely

September 07, 2020

Bipartisan effort to oust the outsider Trump makes 2nd US stimulus unlikely

By Ramin Mazaheri and by author permission crossposted with Sputniknews.

We are currently experiencing the biggest era of American division in 50 years, but one thing Americans are united in is that they want additional coronavirus stimulus: a poll last week showed 70% of respondents demand a re-routing of taxes back their way.

The reasons for that are too numerous to list here, but it’s not hyperbole to summarise that national economic indicators suggest either “Great Depression II” or “Great Recession-er.”

Yet for months Congress has remained deadlocked on concluding a relief plan which would get scores of millions of Americans to back away from the ledge, the bottle, the prescription pill and the daily conversations they are having with each other about their very serious economic desperation and hopelessness.

The coronavirus seems likely to deal a death blow to the neoliberal form of capitalism, which has always been a faith-based ideology with a terrible track record, anyway: in a major crisis a central government simply must provide services and aid, and simply cannot continue to slash itself into neoliberal-ordered nothingness.

While rational American conservatives are slowly coming around on this, the nation’s top Republican lawmakers are not.

A comparison of the $3.4 trillion Democrat and the $1.1 trillion Republican stimulus plans shows that the biggest disagreement comes on the core neoliberal and libertarian tenet of eliminating government as much as possible: Democrats want $1.1 trillion earmarked for state and local governments, while Republicans propose just $100 billion. More than a few fiscally-reactionary Republicans think the original $2.2 trillion CARES Act overstepped the absurd limits they set on government, but the vast majority of conservatives in Congress are simply not going to allow the coronavirus to roll back their four decades of efforts to reduce government at all levels.

It should be remembered that in the American federal system local government plays – or used to – a much larger role than in most other countries. The coronavirus also seems likely to deal another death blow – to those who insist on a weak central government: the fragmented and chaotic US response to the pandemic is a direct result of their insistence on “states’ rights” over national well-being, which makes a unified response to any type of crisis fundamentally impossible.

So when truly half of the disputed difference between the two plans is over this radical and unusually-American neoliberal issue, we should not expect Republicans to capitulate anytime soon. Yet as the grassroots support for more stimulus reminds us – the Republican elite in Washington are obviously totally out of touch with the economic fears of the average Republican elsewhere.

On the other side of the aisle, one should not assume that Democrats are totally genuine in their desire to extend greater help to American citizens.

After all, if they wanted to re-inflate local and state governments so badly, why didn’t they include greater redistribution in the CARES Act? Every political operator knew that their chances were better at the start of the coronavirus hysteria, and also that the chances for bipartisan agreement (obviously necessary in a Republican-controlled Senate) would decrease closer to election day.

The $1.1 trillion for state and local government looks more like a phony “poison pill” designed to inflame Republican ideological morals when combined with the fact that the Democrat plan contains exactly zero additional aid for small businesses, who have always provided the backbone of the Republican Party. Small-business aid is the second-largest component of the Republican’s second stimulus plan, at $200 billion. Zero for small businesses – which provide over 40% of national economic output – is not only idiotic and guaranteed to perpetuate economic misery, but can easily be perceived by Republicans as an ideological slap in the face.

Many wonder if the plan of the Democratic elite all along was to drag their feet on what they wanted at the start of the coronavirus panic in order to put themselves in a position to accuse Republicans of dragging their feet on a deal closer to November. Allowing an already-festering country to rot for months in order to win an election sounds like bad governance bordering on treason, but the anti-Trump faction among the US 1% is surely willing to do anything to get the rogue politician out of office.

Last month Trump smartly circumvented Congress to extend desperately-needed jobless benefits to tens of millions of Americans – what’s perplexing is why Trump isn’t already talking about doing that again? Aiding suffering constituents shouldn’t be denigrated as corrupt “patronage” or “vote-buying” – it’s good governance. Unfortunately, elite Republicans ideologically insist that “good governance” is an oxymoron.

Trump was elected in 2016 precisely because he defied Republican leadership and ideology – the best way for him to get re-elected would be to revert to that form, and to send another round of direct stimulus to voters.

That may require bypassing Congress again, which seems unlikely to agree on a significant compromise. This allows both sides to blame each other for economic woes all the way up until November 3, but it crucially allows “the swamp” to do something which they emphatically agree on: blaming Trump for every problem in order to get the unprecedented outsider out of office.


Ramin Mazaheri is currently in the US covering their elections. He is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of Socialisms Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as Ill Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

Our Grim Future: Restored Neoliberalism or Hybrid Neofascism?

June 01, 2020

Our Grim Future: Restored Neoliberalism or Hybrid Neofascism?

by Pepe Escobar – crossposted with Strategic Culture Foundation

With the specter of a New Great Depression hovering over most of the planet, realpolitik perspectives for a radical change of the political economy framework we live in are not exactly encouraging.

Western ruling elites will be deploying myriad tactics to perpetuate the passivity of populations barely emerging from de facto house arrest, including a massive disciplinary – in a Foucault sense – drive by states and business/finance circles.

In his latest book, La Desaparicion de los Rituales, Byung-Chul Han shows how total communication, especially in a time of pandemic, now coincides with total vigilance: “Domination impersonates freedom. Big Data generates a domineering knowledge that allows the possibility of intervening in the human psyche, and manipulating it. Considering it this way, the data-ist imperative of transparency is not a continuation of the Enlightenment, but its ending.”

This revamping of Foucault’s Discipline and Punish coincides with reports about the demise of the neoliberal era being vastly overstated. Instead of a simplistic plunge into populist nationalism, what is on the horizon points mostly to a Neoliberalism Restoration – massively spun as a novelty, and incorporating some Keynesian elements: after all, in the post-Lockdown era, to “save” the markets and private initiative the state must not only intervene but also facilitate a possible ecological transition.

The bottom line: we may be facing a mere cosmetic approach, in which the deep structural crisis of zombie capitalism – barely moving under unpopular “reforms” and infinite debt – still is not addressed.

Meanwhile, what is going to happen to assorted fascisms? Eric Hobsbawm showed us in Age of Extremes how the key to the fascist right was always mass mobilization: “Fascists were the revolutionaries of the counter-revolution”.

We may be heading further than mere, crude neofascism. Call it Hybrid Neofascism. Their political stars bow to global market imperatives while switching political competition to the cultural arena.

That’s what true “illiberalism” is all about: the mix between neoliberalism – unrestricted capital mobility, Central Bank diktats – and political authoritarianism. Here’s where we find Trump, Modi and Bolsonaro.

From Anthropocene to Capitalocene

To counterpunch zombie neoliberalism, those believing another world is possible dream of a social-democratic revival; wealth redistribution; or at least neoliberalism with a human face.

That’s where eco-socialism jumps in: a radical rupture with the diktats of the Goddess of the Market, the product of a healthy rebellion against ultra-authoritarian neoliberalism and illiberalism.

In sum, that could be seen as a soft adaptation of Thomas Piketty’s analyses: to break the domination of capital by economic democracy, in the spirit of mid-19th century social democracy.

It’s quite interesting, in this aspect, to consider Fully Automated Luxury Communism, by Aaron Bastani, a refreshing utopian manifesto where we see that once society is stripped off everything superfluous linked to alienation, it’s still possible for everyone to find all the necessary technical means to live “in luxury” without recourse to infinity growth imposed by Capital.

And that brings us to the direct link between the Anthropocene and what has been conceptualized by French economist Benjamin Coriat as the Capitalocene.

Capitalocene means that our current state of appalling planetary degradation should not be linked to an undefined “humanity” but “to a very defined humanity organized by a predatory economic system.”

The state of the planet under the Anthropocene must be imperatively linked to the hegemonic economic system of the past two centuries: the way we developed our system of production and legitimized indiscriminate predatory practices.

The bottom line: to go beyond it, the economy must be reoriented and rebuilt, part of a “big bang in public and economic policies.”

In the Anthropocene, Promethean humanity must be contained so the rape of Mother Earth can be properly tackled.

Capitalocene for its part describes Capital as the crucial root and conditioner of the current world-system. The result of the struggle against the ravaging effects of Capital will determine the possible future of eco-socialism.

And that refocuses the importance of the commons – way beyond the opposition between private property and public property.

Coriat has shown how Covid-19 laid bare the necessity of the commons and the incapacity of neoliberalism to address it.

But how to build eco-socialism? Should it start as eco-socialism in one country (somewhere in Scandinavia)? How to coordinate it across Europe? How to fight ossified EU structures from the inside?

After all both Restored Neoliberalism and illiberalism already count on powerful states and networks. A good example is Hungary and Poland continuing to function as cogs of the German industrial supply chain.

How to prevent someone like Bill Gates to take control of a UN organization, the WHO, thus forcing it to invest in programs that fit his own personal agenda?

How to change the WTO’s free market rules, according to which buying palm oil and transgenic soya contributes to the de facto deforestation of large tracts of Africa, Asia and South America? This is a state of affairs that allows wealthy nations to actually buy the destruction of ecosystems.

Revolution, not reform

Even if neoliberalism was dead, and it’s not, the world is still encumbered with its corpse – to paraphrase Nietzsche a propos of God.

And even as a triple catastrophe – sanitary, social and climatic – is now unequivocal, the ruling matrix – starring the Masters of the Universe managing the financial casino – won’t stop resisting any drive towards change.

Diversionist tactics supporting an “ecological transition” fool no one.

Financial capitalism is an expert in adapting to – and profiting from – the serial crises it provokes or unleashes.

To update May 1968, what’s needed is L’Imagination au Pouvoir. Yet it’s idle to expect imagination from mere puppets such as Trump, Merkel, Macron or BoJo.

Realpolitik once again points to a post-Lockdown turbo-capitalist framework, where the illiberalism of the 1% – with fascistic elements – and naked turbo-financialization are boosted by reinforced exploitation of an exhausted and now largely unemployed workforce.

Post-Lockdown turbo-capitalism is once again reasserting itself after four decades of Thatcherization, or – to be polite – hardcore neoliberalism. Progressive forces still don’t have the ammunition to revert the logic of extremely high profits for the ruling classes – EU governance included – and for large global corporations as well.

Economist and philosopher Frederic Lordon, a researcher at the French CNRS, cuts to the inevitable chase: the only solution would be a revolutionary insurrection. And he knows exactly how the financial markets-corporate media combo would never allow it. Big Capital is capable of co-opting and sabotaging anything.

So this is our choice: it’s either Neoliberal Restoration or a revolutionary rupture. And nothing in between. It takes someone of Marx’s caliber to build a full-fledged, 21st century eco-socialist ideology, and capable of long-term, sustained mobilization. Aux armes, citoyens.

I was wrong on corona – by not pushing for a US Cultural Revolution immediately

I was wrong on corona – by not pushing for a US Cultural Revolution immediately

May 26, 2020

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

Since the West’s Great Lockdown started I’ve been warning the West that they can’t do it – a capitalist-imperialist system cannot do an immediate 180 and copy China, Iran, Vietnam and others. I gave so many reasons why that was a catastrophically bad idea:

The “sports-journalisation” of their media, the unbloody flag of Y2K, counting on Germany as “reliable partners”, the perilous idea that social media users should constitute a vanguard party, a corona response shaped by middle-class mediocrity would have been acceptable if there was any middle class left in the West, only Black Nationalists picked up on my phrase “the Great Segregation”, a gratuitous use of the word “Michigander”, a polite suggestion that widespread American matriarchy may promote the hysterical acceptance of any idea that springs to mind, the fact that if the Western 1% would collude to start World War One isn’t it possible they would conspire to create a Great Lockdown, and a couple dozen others.

I certainly persuaded myself the Great lockdown should end, at least!

However, it turns out I’m a really bad revolutionary: Instead of gleefully putting my boot heel on the forehead of the corona-felled West and calling for immediate and violent revolution I kept giving them ideas which were aimed to help them avoid pushing their society into Great Depression II-levels of joblessness, starvation and stagflation.

In essence I was yelling, “Stagflation is not some word that I made up! You should really reconsider trying to be like China overnight because there is no Mandarin for ‘Great Recession’!”

Listen to me… giving fair warning to the capitalist-imperialist enemy. What a softie I am! What a phony!

If there’s one thing the last 20 years of Western history has taught me it’s this – blaming Islam is always an acceptable explanation for mistakes: I have taken to heart too much that a Muslim’s duty is only to warn others (this is why Islam has no missionaries).

Well, it’s time for forcible conversion! Unveil the American Cultural Revolution!

Corona will unveil the American Cultural Revolution

Look: I was wrong – it’s all over for the West now.

It was over before it even started because capitalism-imperialism is no way to run a cultural bloc, but I gave enough fair warning in May 17: The date the Great Lockdown must end or Everything Bubble 2 pops.

The US, the leader of the West, has 43 million unemployed, which is undercounting, around 42% of whom aren’t going to be rehired for years, who already had lousy jobs which were underemployment and not full employment, which provided lousy and stagnant wages, which is hardest on a youth class who can no longer be distracted by taking pictures of and dissecting the different flavours of their avocado toasts because the avocados are all being dumped into a ravine to keep prices down by a farmer who is only a few months from suicide.

Hertz, JC Penny, Pier 1 many other top retailers and countless restaurants already have something in common with the lilies in the field described in Matthew 6:28 – Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not. Who can toil for not just bread but the credit card interest charged for that bread when bankruptcies of Biblical proportions have only just begun?

Bankruptcies lead to job loss; job loss leads to hunger and foreclosure; hunger and foreclosure leads to asking for government handouts; Anglo-American liberal economics’ refusal to give government handouts leads to endemic poverty and suffering; endemic poverty and suffering is proof that your favourite sociopolitical system sucks.

Stop pretending that the capitalists of any school have solutions to this – “letting capitalism run its course” via non-interventions is not just immoral and heartless but unpatriotic treachery: you prefer to maintain the fiction that your favourite sociopolitical system doesn’t suck rather than feeding your neighbor?! I am no promoter of “culture with American characteristics”, but at least I tried to warn them to avoid starvation, murder and chaos.

The US is, without the slightest exaggeration, now encountered with a fatal paradox: The only way to save “capitalism with US characteristics” is to immediately take public action to save it, but the actions required to save “capitalism with US characteristics” would destroy the system of “capitalism with US characteristics” beyond recognition.

The leftist opportunity provided by corona lockdowns – you’ll HAVE TO talk politics now

What we have now is a situation where people have the time to complete the single-most necessary task which precedes revolutionary change: talking seriously to each other about politics, and demanding the other person either admit to hard choices or get out of the way.

Since 1980 the hyperfinancialisation of the US economy enabled credit-based materialism on an incredible scale, and this mad scramble of work-buy-sleep-repeat has come to a temporary end – this is a great boon. This forced break is the greatest gift coronavirus is giving the US – it’s like a Ramadan they never had.

Let’s assume there’s a second wave, and a Great Lockdown II, or at least many other hysterical shutterings of auto plants and schools after one new corona case is found, and a real stop-and-start quality to life for the next 12 months or so. This should require more “People’s QE”, but it definitely means that Americans will be forced to often stay at home and really talk – via Zoom or the telephone or in person while being masked – about how outdated and aristocratically-rigged the Western liberal system is and how it needs to be changed, to modernise, to progress for the better.

Basically, the short- and medium-term conditions are spectacularly ripe for Cultural Revolution across the West.

There is no V-shaped recovery – they actually did this stupid thing I warned them not to – and you can reliably count on there being favourable conditions for fomenting leftist dissent until at least 2023.

Beyond the certainty of slow-drip economic disaster – corona is the pin which has popped the West’s Everything Bubble II economy – what’s so unique about this era is that we all have so much more time at home to stew about bad politics. So very many will be doing this without any stew, or only on barebones government-provided stew, but that is precisely what a Cultural Revolution is: stewing and arguing over what form our obviously-broken society must take from now on.

This is what happened in a China where revolutionary spirit was dwindling and mutating into a city-based elitism, as well as in an Iran which had declared non-allegiance to both the East and West despite having no modern Muslim political-cultural example to model themselves on.

Corona is doing what the Yellow Vests did – forcing open a space for honest political dialogue, finally

The simplest way to explain it is to put it in Western cultural terms: what France’s Yellow Vests are demanding is a French Cultural Revolution in order to expand democracy’s reach into the lower classes, something aristocratic Western liberal democracy has never achieved, nor even aimed to. – the parallel with 1960s China and 1980s Iran could not be more clear… if the West wasn’t so hell-bent on distorting those two eras, as well as distorting the Yellow Vests, too.

The Yellow Vests aren’t going to get revolution – such is the power of the modern aristocratic forces arrayed against them. Similarly, despite all the guns in private hands, the US is even less ripe for a modern revolution due to the 40 years of enforced political ignorance and political apathy that I described.

However, just as the Yellow Vests forced open a new space for honest political talk in France, the consequences of the Great Lockdown will create the space for honest political talk in the US.

The fall of the dollar, ‘Liberty or Boogaloo’, true cultural revolution – these things appear far-fetched to honestly expect (at least in late May 2020), but we can realistically expect that corona’s popping of Everything Bubble II will dramatically change the US political dialogue, like the Yellow Vests certainly did in France.

I have obviously reassessed my editorial line – no more warning, because the fight is over: the corona overreaction has knocked Western capitalism-imperialism to the canvas and it will remain floored for at least 2-3 years.

So if there was ever a time where an American could say openly, “You know, I’m not sure if those socialists ever had a single good idea, but I do know our system has definitely lost its way,” and not worry about being all alone in saying that – it is today and during the now-certain era of economic hardship.

“Our system has lost its way” is the ubiquitous, mantric phrase which always indicates the coming of revolution.

However, I’m certain that if Lenin was around in May 2020 he would do what he did between the twin revolutions of February and October 1917 – he would have forbidden the Bolshevik Party to take power because cultural conditions were not yet ripe. The capitalist-imperialist Americans (and French) are so very impressed with their own cultures that true revolution is not yet possible.

It’s fun and interesting to read a journalist write that revolutionary changes are on our doorstep already – I don’t think such journalists are personally familiar with revolution. We can’t even know just how bad it’s going to be until the West actually opens up, but after all this Great Lockdown we do know this: it’s going to be quite, quite bad for them.

Would Americans fiscally blow up America rather than go somewhat socialist for the benefit of their own 99%? This is more than just the topic for an upcoming column – it’s the question of the corona-crisis/Great Depression II era.

In whatever sense this means to you: corona is not going away. Its presence will be viscerally felt for the coming months and few years – now is the time, finally, when Americans will be receptive to the case made by true leftism.

*********************************

Corona contrarianism? How about some corona common sense? Here is my list of articles published regarding the corona crisis.

Capitalist-imperialist West stays home over corona – they grew a conscience? – March 22, 2020

Corona meds in every pot & a People’s QE: the Trumpian populism they hoped for? – March 23, 2020

A day’s diary from a US CEO during the Corona crisis (satire) March 23, 2020

MSNBC: Chicago price gouging up 9,000% & the sports-journalization of US media – March 25, 2020

Tough times need vanguard parties – are ‘social media users’ the West’s? – March 26, 2020

If Germany rejects Corona bonds they must quit the Eurozone – March 30, 2020

Landlord class: Waive or donate rent-profits now or fear the Cultural Revolution – March 31, 2020

Corona repeating 9/11 & Y2K hysterias? Both saw huge economic overreactions – April 1, 2020

(A Soviet?) Superman: Red Son – the new socialist film to watch on lockdown – April 2, 2020

Corona rewrites capitalist bust-chronology & proves: It’s the nation-state, stupid – April 3, 2020

Condensing the data leaves no doubt: Fear corona-economy more than the virus – April 5, 2020

‘We’re Going Wrong’: The West’s middling, middle-class corona response – April 10, 2020

Why does the UK have an ‘army’ of volunteers but the US has a shortage? – April 12, 2020

No buybacks allowed or dared? Then wave goodbye to Western stock market gains – April 13, 2020

Pity post-corona Millennials… if they don’t openly push socialism – April 14, 2020

No, the dollar will only strengthen post-corona, as usual: it’s a crisis, after all – April 16, 2020

Same 2008 QE playbook, but the Eurozone will kick off Western chaos not the US – April 18, 2020

We’re giving up our civil liberties. Fine, but to which type of state? – April 20, 2020

Coronavirus – Macron’s savior. A ‘united Europe’ – France’s murderer – April 22, 2020

Iran’s ‘resistance economy’: the post-corona wish of the West’s silent majority (1/2) – April 23, 2020

The same 12-year itch: Will banks loan down QE money this time? – April 26,

2020

The end of globalisation won’t be televised, despite the hopes of the Western 99% (2/2) – April 27, 2020

What would it take for proponents to say: ‘The Great Lockdown was wrong’? – April 28, 2020

ZeroHedge, a response to Mr. Littlejohn & the future of dollar dominance – April 30, 2020

Given Western history, is it the ‘Great Segregation’ and not the ‘Great Lockdown’? – May 2, 2020

The Western 1% colluded to start WWI – is the Great Lockdown also a conspiracy? – May 4, 2020

May 17: The date the Great Lockdown must end or Everything Bubble 2 pops – May 6, 2020

Reading Piketty: Does corona delay the Greens’ fake-leftist, sure-to-fail victory? – May 8, 2020

Picturing the media campaign needed to get the US back to work – May 11, 2020

Scarce jobs + revenue desperation = sure Western stagflation post-corona – May 13, 2020

France’s nurses march – are they now deplorable Michiganders to fake-leftists? – May 15, 2020

Why haven’t we called it ‘QE 5’ yet? And why we must call it ‘QE 2.1’ instead – May 16, 2020

‘Take your stinking paws off me, you damned, dirty public servant!’ That’s Orwell? – May 17, 2021

The Great Lockdown: The political apex of US single Moms & Western matriarchy? May 21, 2021

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books Ill Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the NEW Socialisms Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism.

The Saker interviews Michael Hudson about the current economic crisis

May 01, 2020

Source

The Saker interviews Michael Hudson about the current economic crisis

Dear friends,

I have always held Michael Hudson in the greatest esteem.  Not only do I consider him my favorite US economist out there, I also know that he is a kind human being.  He manifested this kindness again when he agreed to reply to some very basic questions which a non-economist like myself would ask.  I am deeply grateful to Michael for taking the time to reply to them!

The Saker
——-

The Saker: I suppose that like any system, the economy and financial system in the USA and, more generally, in the West can take some punishment, but there has to be a “point of no return” after which the entire systems comes tumbling down like a house of card.  My first question is double: a) what would be this “point of no return” and do you think that we have (or will soon) reach it? b)  What would be the signs that this “point of no return” has been reached (or is about to be reached)?

Michael Hudson: The point of no return would arrive when the Federal Reserve and government stop bailing out the bankers and the stock and bond markets and let real “free market” asset prices collapse to reflect the “real” economy’s shrinkage. There would be a sell-off without the Fed’s promise to be the buyer of last resort.

The problem is that the economy can never recover from the Obama Depression (resulting from his refusal to write down the junk-mortgage debts and the other debts to the leading financial institutions) as long as it keeps the present debt overhead on the books. But Sheila Bair’s comment still applies: “It’s all about the bondholders.”

So I don’t expect a soon “point of no return.” But when it finally does occur, it will be sudden – as all crashes are. It may be triggered by a bank or speculator making a bad trade and being unable to pay, as AIG’s London office was unable to do so in 2008.

That said, who would have believed that the stock market would continue to go up while the underlying “real” economy is shrinking drastically. Obviously, there has been a decoupling of the economy’s two sectors: the Financial, Insurance and Real Estate (FIRE) sector from the production-and-consumption economy.

I think that the Fed will let the large insiders sell out (and even make a fortune on selling stocks and bonds short) before they pull the plug. The key is that the collapse of the economy must be managed as a financial gain-seeking opportunity for the big banks and financial speculators.

The Saker: There is a lot of talk about the big corporations out there, but I want to ask you about the “little guy” (like myself and most of our readers): what can we do to prepare for a possible economic and financial collapse?  For example, do you consider that our money is safe in US FDIC insured deposits banks?  Or there be a “bank holiday” or even a full scale “run on banks” like what happened in Argentina?  Should we pull our saving and keep cash?  Or even get gold/silver?  What do you recommend for the “little guy”?

Michael Hudson: FDIC-insured deposits are safe. They won’t let that go, because that would end the banking system.

There won’t be an Argentina-style run, because its foreign debt is owed in U.S. dollars, which it can’t print. But US debt is owed in its own currency, which the Fed and Treasury can create at will.

The stock market will zig-zag in approximately the current range, until the plunge is permitted to occur. The safest investment is in U.S. Treasury securities. Gold is fine also, but the problem is how to keep it free from theft. Like currency, it can be robbed.

For your small investors, the best aim to protect themselves is to get (and stay) out of debt, secure their home and livelihood from what may be a Third-World type austerity plan, IMF style resulting from state and local bankruptcy. (Avoid buying tax-exempt state and local bonds.)

The Saker: How bad is, in your opinion, the current crisis in financial/economic terms?  Some say that this will (or, already is) worse than 2008, 9/11 or even the Great Depression.  Do you agree and, if not, why?

Michael Hudson: The current depression is the worst since the 1930s. There will be a new wave of foreclosures, on commercial real estate as well as residential homes. The problem will not be merely junk mortgages, but the loss of income by rent-paying stores and other commercial property and residential housing.

We are at the end of the 75-year upswing that began in 1945 when the war ended with few private-sector debts and abundant savings. Now, the situation has been reversed: a heavy debt overhead, with little savings by most of the population. The growth in the economic surplus is now spent almost entirely on debt service and other financial charges and rentier payments to the FIRE sector. Rentier capitalism has replaced industrial capitalism.

The Saker: a lot of people (and corporations) out there are loosing millions and even billions. But others are making a killing (Amazon?).  Who in your opinion benefits most from this crisis and how?

Michael Hudson: Financial and political insiders will benefit from the crisis, along with monopolists. The rest of the economy will lose – but the quickest fortunes often are made in a crisis. As Adam Smith noted, profits often are highest in countries going fastest to ruin. But this time it is not profits that are the key to fortunes, but “capital gains” from bank-inflated asset prices.

In a nutshell, the financial game has been rigged by political insiders and their financial backers. Their time frame is short-run.

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