If Mencken were alive and glaring Reply

By Marion Rogers

The Washington Times

Oh, how H.L. Mencken would have loved this. The renowned Baltimore journalist who said that national political conventions and politicians were for “connoisseurs of the obscene” would have never guessed how obscene it could be. Not that he would have endorsed obscenity — he was Victorian by upbringing — but the spectacle of politicians sweating and strutting their stuff offered him endless sport. Here in America, he said, you could laugh yourself to death every day.

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Presidential candidate Clinton says removing Assad in Syria is No. 1 priority 1

Reuters

Syria, Russia, and the American Candidates: Scott Horton Gives Us the Scoop Reply

A must listen interview with Scott Horton by Tom Woods that provides a comprehensive overview of the situation in Syria, US-Russia relations, and where the presidential candidates really stand on these questions. Listen here.

The situation in Syria is dangerous and volatile, with the potential for an American conflict with Russia very real. Scott Horton helps us evaluate what the two major candidates have had to say about this critically important subject.

About the Guest

Scott Horton, managing director of the Libertarian Institute, is the host of Antiwar Radio on KPFK 90.7 FM in Los Angeles, and Opinion Editor of Antiwar.com. The Scott Horton Show features daily interviews on foreign policy from a libertarian perspective.

U.S. and Britain Pledge to Send Planes, Troops and Tanks to Eastern Europe Reply

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg Presser
Olivier Hoslet—EPA North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg gives a press conference ahead of the Defense Ministers Council at Alliance headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, 25 Oct.2016.

It will be the biggest build up of NATO forces since the end of the Cold War

NATO allies including the U.S., Britain and Canada pledged Wednesday to deploy forces, tanks, jets and artillery in Eastern Europe amid escalating tensions with Russia.

Following a NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels, Britain announced it would send fighter jets to Romania in 2017, while the U.S. promised tanks, artillery and more than 900 troops to Poland, Reuters reports. The U.K., Germany, Canada and other allies had also committed to contribute to a 4,000-strong ground force in the Baltic states and Eastern Europe, which aims to check Russian belligerence in the region.

Speaking at a press conference, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the reinforcement would be the biggest build up of NATO forces since the end of the Cold War.

NATO accuses Moscow of continuing to support pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine following the annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014, and the alliance believes Russia has stationed around 330,000 troops close to its western border.

Stoltenberg said the build up of troops was a measured response to Moscow’s actions. “This month alone, Russia has deployed nuclear-capable Iskander missiles to Kaliningrad and suspended a weapons-grade plutonium agreement with the United States,” he said according to Reuters.

The announcement came as Russian warships sailing through the English Channel, believed to be on their way to Syria, withdrew a request to stop to refuel in Spain amid international opposition, the BBC reports.

At a July summit in Warsaw, NATO said it expected to deploy four battalions by early 2017. “I am pleased to confirm that we are on track. This Alliance does what it says. And we deliver on our promises,” Stoltenberg told reporters.

A 40,000-strong rapid-reaction force would support the four battalions, with follow-on forces on hand if necessary.

[Reuters]

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Robert Stark interviews Bay Area Guy about the SF Bay Area and the FIRE Economy Reply

Listen Here!

killing-the-host

Robert Stark, Rabbit & Alex von Goldstein talk to Bay Area-based blogger Bay Area Guy of Occident Invicta

Topics include:

Bay Area Guy’s article The Bay Area and the FIRE Economy, which reviews Robert Stark’s interview with Laura Foote Clark of Grow SF
How as a renter in the Bay Area this issue personally effects Bay Area Guy
The role that Banks and the FIRE sector play in driving up the cost of real estate
Bay Area Guy’s point that he does not want the Bay Area to become like SoCal: an environmental eyesore characterized by track housing and strip malls
However Bay Area Guy does endorse Laura’s proposal of having Silicon Valley become more urbanized
The role that mass immigration plays in the housing crisis on top of the FIRE economy
Bay Area Renters Federation’s Sonja Trauss: Advocating for Housing Development in San Francisco
San Francisco Bay Area Renters’ Federation‘s lawsuit against the city of Lafayette over a development
The argument that white NIMBY’s oppose development because of diversity, and Bay Area Guy’s article, “Diversity” is Simply Code for “Non-white”
Bay Area Guy’s review of Killing the Host by Michael Hudson
The FIRE economy, which is an economy based on Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate sectors
Michael Hudson’s proposal to tax unearned income(ex. Tobin tax)
The goal of a fair tax policy should not just be to redistribute wealth, but also to punish predatory behavior, and incentivize productive behavior
How Michael Hudson invokes the arguments of Classical Liberals such as Adam Smith, and John Stewart Mills, who distinguished between earned and unearned income
Unearned income is any wealth not generated by production or labor
Debt and living paycheck to paycheck is the road to serfdom
How the majority of people’s income goes towards unearned income(ex. rent, insurance, mortgages)
How lower wages are bad for the economy, because consumers have less money to spend
Wikileaks: Hillary Clinton Calls Bernie Sanders Supporters Basement Dwellers, and that she viewed Wall Street as best to manage the economy
The Calvinist mentality in American culture, that your worth is based on your wealth
When people criticize the rich from a standpoint of fairness, they allow themselves to be labeled as economic losers who want to punish success
What Makes Hudson’s book so brilliant is he points out that the ultra rich make their money through unproductive or predatory ways
Examples of countries that have moved away from the FIRE economy include Germany and Japan, who have a high end manufacturing base
In contrast the FIRE economies of the United States and the United Kingdom became dominant using protectionist and mercantilist measures, but liberalized their economies later on
Why Universal Healthcare and Public investment in infrastructure benefit the economy
Michael Hudson debunks supply side economics by pointing out the rich spend most of their extra income on products they already own, or lend their money out at interest
How the concept of a free market has been twisted from freedom from the rentier economy, into letting the financial sector do what ever they want
Michael Hudson’s point that the primary function of banking is not to fund business or stimulate the economy, but to bid up assets already in place, and attach debt to rents

Iceland, a land of Vikings, braces for a Pirate Party takeover 3

We need a Pirate Party in the US.

By Griff Witte

Washington Post

The party that could be on the cusp of winning Iceland’s national elections on Saturday didn’t exist four years ago.

Its members are a collection of anarchists, hackers, libertarians and Web geeks. It sets policy through online polls — and thinks the government should do the same. It wants to make Iceland “a Switzerland of bits,” free of digital snooping. It has offered Edward Snowden a new place to call home.

And then there’s the name: In this land of Vikings, the Pirate Party may soon be king.

The rise of the Pirates — from radical fringe to focal point of Icelandic politics — has astonished even the party’s founder, a poet, Web programmer and former WikiLeaks activist.

“No way,” said 49-year-old Birgitta Jónsdóttir when asked whether she could have envisioned her party governing the country so soon after its launch.

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How Democrats Killed Their Populist Soul 4

A must read for anyone that wants to understand present days economics and politics. The article, appearing in a leading liberal journal, acknowledges what I have been saying for years, i.e. that what passes for the “Left” in today’s world is simply the left-wing of capitalism allied with the cultural Left that has repudiated whatever populist, libertarian, decentralist, or anti-capitalist tradition the U.S. Left would have ever had. This writer even acknowledges the role of the Dutton strategy in bringing about this state of affairs.

By Matt Stoller

The Atlantic

t was January 1975, and the Watergate Babies had arrived in Washington looking for blood. The Watergate Babies—as the recently elected Democratic congressmen were known—were young, idealistic liberals who had been swept into office on a promise to clean up government, end the war in Vietnam, and rid the nation’s capital of the kind of corruption and dirty politics the Nixon White House had wrought. Richard Nixon himself had resigned just a few months earlier in August. But the Watergate Babies didn’t just campaign against Nixon; they took on the Democratic establishment, too. Newly elected Representative George Miller of California, then just 29 years old, announced, “We came here to take the Bastille.”

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The Rich Vote Republican? Maybe Not This Election. Reply

The left-wing of capitalism, the newly rich, the rising upper middle class, the managerial elite, and the new class are eclipsing the traditional WASP elites and the Sunbelt insurgency of postwar era as the dominant factions of the US state, ruling class, and power elite.

By Robert Frank

New York Times

For the first time in decades, the wealthy are set to deliver a landslide victory for a Democratic presidential candidate.

While polling data on the rich is imprecise given their small population, polls of the top-earning households favor Hillary Clinton over Donald J. Trump two to one. The July Affluent Barometer survey by Ipsos found that among voters earning more than $100,000 a year — roughly the top 25 percent of households — 45 percent said they planned to vote for Mrs. Clinton, while 28 percent planned to vote for Mr. Trump. The rest were undecided or planned to vote for another candidate.

The spread was even wider among the highest earners. For those earning $250,000 or more — roughly the top 5 percent of households — 53 percent planned to vote for Mrs. Clinton while 25 percent favored Mr. Trump. The survey’s margin of error was plus or minus four points.

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Keith Preston: Interview with Iranian Television on the Election Reply

Watch here.

The television audience for the second debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump fell sharply from their first record-breaking debate. It is estimated that some 66.5 million Americans tuned in to the 90-minute debate on October 9 across a number of networks, well below the record 84 million who watched the first debate om September 27.

The vicious attacks that Clinton and Trump aimed at each other, and lack of policy discussion led to the fall in viewers for the second presidential debate. Some debate viewers had mentioned that it was difficult for them to answer their children’s questions regarding the attacks that were made by the candidates.

In the second debate not only did the attacks not decline, rather they became more vicious. Donald Trump brought women in the audience that had accused Bill Clinton of sexual harassment. He had even invited rape victim Kathy Shelton. When Shelton was 12 years old she was raped by Hillary Clinton’s client. Clinton helped her rapist client get off on a technicality, and was latter seen laughing about it. At the end of this vicious debate maybe the biggest losers were the millions of Americans who watched it.

ACLU Wants 23 Secret Surveillance Laws Made Public Reply

By Alex Emmons

The Intercept

The ACLU has identified 23 legal opinions that contain new or significant interpretations of surveillance law — affecting the government’s use of malware, its attempts to compel technology companies to circumvent encryption, and the CIA’s bulk collection of financial records under the Patriot Act — all of which remain secret to this day, despite an ostensible push for greater transparency following Edward Snowden’s disclosures.

The opinions were written by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. On Wednesday, the ACLU and the Yale Law School Media Freedom Clinic filed a motion with the court requesting that those opinions be released.

“The people of this country can’t hold the government accountable for its surveillance activities unless they know what our laws allow,” said Patrick Toomey, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project. “These secret court opinions define the limits of the government’s spying powers. Their disclosure is essential for meaningful public oversight in our democracy.”

Some of the opinions identified by the ACLU offer interpretations of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, a controversial provision that allows the government to conduct mass surveillance on American’s transnational communications. The authority is set to expire in December 2017.

Disclosure of the opinions would shed light on how the government understands the boundaries of its spying power. Earlier this month, for example, after Reuters reported that Yahoo is secretly scanning every customer’s incoming email, anonymous officials told the New York Times that that action was based on an individualized order from the secret court. Disclosure of the order would offer insight into why the government thinks that is legal. Yahoo, for its part, on Wednesday urged the Director of National Intelligence to release and explain the court order in question.

The ACLU identified the 23 still-secret opinions by combing through press clippings and publicly released opinions. A report released Tuesday by the Brennan Center for Justice, which was based on documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, similarly found that the government has kept classified 25 to 30 significant court opinions and orders dating from 2003 to 2013.

Congress established the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) in 1978 to approve warrants against foreign agents and spies. But after the attacks of September 11, 2001, it took on a dramatically expanded role, secretly interpreting surveillance laws for law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

The court meets in secret, and until the recent inclusion of specially designated “friends of the court,” only the government was represented before it. Critics of the FISC argue that its opinions amount to “secret law” that is not approved by Congress, and cannot be appealed.

In 2013, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that the FISC had authorized the bulk collection of American’s phone records, despite the fact that the law only allowed the collection of records “relevant to an authorized investigation.”

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Trump is Not a “Fascist,” and Hillary is not a “Liberal” Reply

Image result for rainbow fascism

An interesting comment from William Gillis, the director of Center for a Stateless Society.

“There’s a number of folk celebrating the collapse of the legitimacy of US civic institutions, but regrettably it’s not so simple as de-legitimize the state and presto anarchism. Liberal democracy is an incoherent, ultimately unstable and unsustainable system, but there are many more stable configurations of society and a lot of them are far more dystopian.

Our strongest critique against liberalism is not that its founded upon horrific, unnecessary and intolerable violence — although it is — but that it is insecure against slow rolls or sudden descents towards outright authoritarianism and fractious civil war.

When the civic religion of a country withers and the treaty of liberal democracy is revealed as nothing more than paper, smoke and mirrors, what is most often released is the mass of fascistic predators who have grown fat slowly nibbling the democracy’s flesh from within. The collapse of a democracy is most usually a reconfiguration of power, hardly ever its abolition.

That is not remotely to suggest that anarchists stop or show timidity in our efforts to delegitimize the state, but rather that we must stay steely-eyed about the incredibly hard work to prepare for such a collapse and survive it, much less guide it.

When the president of the Second Spanish Republic called his ministers, his assistants and secretaries and found that they had all abandoned their posts — his government de facto dissolved like a silly dream — the people of Spain were already building barricades and raiding the armories. Either for the fascists or for the anarchists.

We lost that war.

In part because we did not get to choose its outset. And were not ready for its vicissitudes.

There are far far far more Trump brownshirts in this country than there are anarchists.”

This body of comments contains some interesting insights, and some ideas that I certainly agree with. However, I think it is also an example of some of the limitations I have seen coming from various anarchist and leftist analyses of the present political situation. It is not uncommon to find commentary portraying Donald Trump as some unique threat to the established system of “liberal democracy” who is hell bent on moving the United States towards some kind of more overt authoritarianism if not outright fascism. This kind of analysis is common not only among the usual left-wing and left-liberal crazies, but also among many level headed people, and even some people on the right (such as the writers at National Review).

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Green Party’s Jill Stein on “Donald Trump’s Psychosis and Hillary Clinton’s Distortions” 1

After Wednesday’s debate, Democracy Now! spoke to Dr. Jill Stein, the Green Party’s presidential nominee. She and Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson were excluded from the debate under stringent rules set by the Commission on Presidential Debates, which is controlled by the Democratic and Republican parties.

The Green Party: A Party for Working People Reply

Jill Stein is the only candidate in this election that comes close to being an actual radical, or even an actual liberal. The Trump movement is a parallel to France’s National Front. The normal Republicans are even further to the right (more like El Salvador’s ARENA or Israel’s Likud). Hillary is a center-right politician in the vein of Richard Nixon (or the Christian Democratic Parties in Europe or Latin America). Even Bernie ran as a recycled New Deal Democrat (we used to have tons of guys like that in Congress, even representing Southern states like Fritz Hollings from SC or Al Gore when he as a senator from TN). Gary Johnson is just a moderate-liberal Republican like John Anderson or Mark Hatfield. Jill doesn’t even strike me as being that far left. Her politics are similar to 1970s McGovern Democrats, and many of her views would be entirely mainstream in Europe and even Latin America, perhaps even in India.. US politics is like something you would find in the most retrograde Third World countries that still manage to practice formal democracy (like El Salvador or Bangladesh).

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Washington’s foreign policy elite breaks with Obama over Syrian bloodshed Reply

Regardless of who the next President is, I suspect we are going to miss Obama eventually. Whatever his limitations, his performance on foreign policy has probably been as good as any US President’s is going to be.

By Greg Jaffe

Washington Post

There is one corner of Washington where Donald Trump’s scorched-earth presidential campaign is treated as a mere distraction and where bipartisanship reigns. In the rarefied world of the Washington foreign policy establishment, President Obama’s departure from the White House — and the possible return of a more conventional and hawkish Hillary Clinton — is being met with quiet relief.

The Republicans and Democrats who make up the foreign policy elite are laying the groundwork for a more assertive American foreign policy, via a flurry of reports shaped by officials who are likely to play senior roles in a potential Clinton White House.

It is not unusual for Washington’s establishment to launch major studies in the final months of an administration to correct the perceived mistakes of a president or influence his successor. But the bipartisan nature of the recent recommendations, coming at a time when the country has never been more polarized, reflects a remarkable consensus among the foreign policy elite.

This consensus is driven by a broad-based backlash against a president who has repeatedly stressed the dangers of overreach and the need for restraint, especially in the Middle East. “There’s a widespread perception that not being active enough or recognizing the limits of American power has costs,” said Philip Gordon, a senior foreign policy adviser to Obama until 2015. “So the normal swing is to be more interventionist.”

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“Black Lives Matter has a plantation mentality” 2

So says former Black Panther leader Elaine Brown. Here’s the money quote:

“When it first formed, armed BPP members patrolled Oakland neighbourhoods – in their iconic blue-shirt, leather jacket, black beret combo – to keep an eye on the police. They were caricatured as violent militants, but they were standing up for rights as old as the Constitution itself. Newton, a law student, made himself an expert on gun law. Whenever the cops piped up, he’d blast them with the Second Amendment, Supreme Court judgements, chapter and verse: ‘I will observe you carrying out your duties whether you like it or not!’

By Tom Slater

Spiked Online

“I don’t know what Black Lives Matter does, so I can’t tell you how it compares to what the Black Panther Party was. I know what the BPP was. I know the lives we lost, the struggle we put into place, the efforts we made, the assaults on us by the police and government – I know all that. I don’t know what Black Lives Matter does. So if you can tell me, I’ll give you my thoughts.’

So says Elaine Brown, activist, singer and former chairwoman of the Black Panther Party, talking to me from her home in Oakland, California. She doesn’t like my question. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party, a revolutionary, socialist, black-power organisation formed in Oakland by then college students Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. And, as journalists scrabble to pen pieces about ‘what’s changed’, cack-handed comparisons abound.

I ask Brown about Black Lives Matter, the movement that erupted in the wake of the shooting of Mike Brown, an unarmed black teenager, in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014. This nebulous hashtag-come-protest movement has been compared – both by its supporters and detractors – with the BPP; it’s either hailed as a continuation of the struggle or slammed as a resurgence in ‘divisive’, ‘militant’ black nationalism. Talking to Brown it becomes clear that both sides give BLM too much credit.

‘There is no comparison’, she says. ‘The next wave of young people running out here, who are complaining and protesting about the murders of young black men and women by the police all over the country, they will protest but they will not rise up in an organised fashion, with an agenda, to create revolutionary change… We advocated community self-defence organisations to be formed, so that we would not be assaulted by the police, so that we would bear arms and assume our human rights.’

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The last to understand the collapse of an empire are those who live within it 1

This is an interesting question to reflection on: What does it mean for the future of anarchist movements given that the center of world power is slowly shifting from the US-NATO-Israeli-Saudi-Sunni axis to the BRICS-Shia-Mercosur axis?

By Jeff Thomas
Ron Paul Liberty Report

Throughout history, political, financial, and military leaders have sought to create empires. Westerners often think of ancient Rome as the first empire. Later, other empires formed for a time. Spain became an empire, courtesy of its Armada, its conquest of the New World, and the gold and silver extracted from the West. Great Britain owned the 19th century but lost its empire due largely to costly wars. The US took over in the 20th century and, like Rome, rose as a republic, with minimal central control, but is now crumbling under its own governmental weight.

Invariably, the last people to understand the collapse of an empire are those who live within it. As a British subject, I remember my younger years, when, even though the British Empire was well and truly over, many of my fellow Brits were still behaving in a pompous manner as though British “superiority” still existed. Not so, today. (You can only pretend for so long.)

But this does suggest that those who live within the present empire—the US—will be the last to truly understand that the game is all but over. Americans seem to be hopeful that the dramatic decline is a temporary setback from which they will rebound.

 

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Robert Stark interviews Alt Left Blogger Ryan Englund Reply

Listen Here!

 

Robert Stark, Alex von Goldstein, Rabbit and Alt Left founder Robert Lindsay, talk to Ryan Englund. Ryan is from Alberta Canada, and blogs at Samizdat Chronicles

Topics include:

Ryan’s political journey, and his early experiences with censorship from both the right and left
The political situation in Canada
How Ryan’s interest has always been in labor and economic issues rather than identity politics
Ryan discovered the Alt-Left through Rabbit’s Alt Left Manifesto and Robert Lindsay‘s blog
Ryan’s manifesto The Alternative Left – What it is
Sub Types on the Alternative Left
The Left Wing of the Alt Right, who are most open to race realism, and opposed to mass immigration, but are also inclined towards some kind of economic socialism or social democracy
The Red Enlightenment which includes Transhumanist, Fututirst, and an outlook based on science and reason
The brocialistRyan’s article on on Warren Farrell‘s book The Myth of Male Power, and how it relates to Marxist theory
The Gammergate left including The Amazing Atheist and Sargon of Akkad
The new Alt Left entriest who are trying to impose political correctness and purge some of the original members
Life of Brian – The People’s Front of Judea
The Regressive Left and how SJWs are the new fascists
The effects of mass immigration on workers, and how the labor movement was historically for immigration restriction
How Corporations have no loyalty to their nations
Ryan points out a Quote from the Communist Manifesto