Sunday, February 19, 2017

Paul Robinson — Book Review: Should we fear Russia?

Dmitri Trenin, the director of the Carnegie Moscow Centre, is one of the more even-handed commentators on Russian foreign policy. On the one hand, he isn’t much of a fan of the ‘Putin regime’, and knows how to speak the sort of critical language required to confirm one’s reputation as a respectable thinker in the West. On the other hand, he avoids most of the hyperbole generally associated with commentary on things Russian, and isn’t one of those ‘non-systemic opposition’ types who gives the impression that Russia’s interests are best served by abject surrender to the United States. In light of the West’s current rampant Russophobia, his short (120-page) book Should We Fear Russia? is very timely….
Book Review: Should we fear Russia?
Paul Robinson | Professor, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa

Michael Roberts — Inequality after 150 years of Capital

The IMF and other agencies like the World Bank like to argue that economic growth has picked up so much under capitalism that millions have been taken out of poverty. But economic experts in the field of poverty and global inequality reveal from their figures that official ‘poverty’ has declined for just two reasons. The first is that the definition of poverty of those living on less than$1 a day is out of date; and second because nearly all the decline has been in China due to its unprecedented economic growth under a state-controlled and directed economy, still far from market capitalism seen in 19th and 20thcentury capitalism that Piketty and others have analysed. In most low income countries inequality has hardly changed from very high levels.
Michael Roberts Blog
Inequality after 150 years of Capital
Michael Roberts

Brian Romanchuk — NAIRU And The Santa Claus Test

Although economic squabbling is fun to follow, a lot of it is the result of the use of fuzzy language. As a result, there is no way of advancing the conversation; arguments are just people clinging to different definitions. The use of mathematics in economics is supposed to eliminate this squabbling; unfortunately, the mathematical models themselves rarely fit reality. However, we need to translate the debates into operational discussions, to see whether they can be applied to the real world. If we turn to my previous article about NAIRU, we need to ask ourselves -- does the definition of NAIRU we are using pass the Santa Claus test?
Bond Economics
NAIRU And The Santa Claus Test
Brian Romanchuk

Oscar Valdes-Viera — The Borrowed Science of Neoclassical Economics

"Science" with an agenda = pseudoscience.

The Minskys
The Borrowed Science of Neoclassical Economics
Oscar Valdes-Viera

Zero Hedge — Jay Sekulow: Obama Should Be "Held Accountable" For The "Soft Coup" Against Trump

According to civil right expert and prominent First Amendement Supreme Court lawyer, Jay Sekulow, what the agencies did by leaking the Trump Administration information was not only illegal but "almost becomes a soft coup", one which was spurred by the last minute rule-change by Obama, who intentionally made it far easier for leaks to propagate, and next to impossible to catch those responsible for the leaks.
Zero Hedge
Jay Sekulow: Obama Should Be "Held Accountable" For The "Soft Coup" Against Trump
Tyler Durden

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Robert Wallace — Hegel’s God

Sunday sermon, or weekend reading as the case may be.

Robert Wallace sums up Hegel's approach to God clearly in a few short paragraphs, which is no mean feat since Hegel writing is notorious difficult to penetrate and his style doesn't make it easy.

Philosophy Now
Hegel’s God
Robert Wallace

See also

Podcast and transcript.

The Philosopher's Zone
Hegel and Hegel's God
Alan Saunders interviews Robert M. Wallace

Eric DuVall — Trump to interview Bolton, three others for NSA post

The four men are former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton, Army strategist Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, acting national security adviser Keith Kellogg and West Point superintendent Lt. Col. Robert Caslen, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters on Saturday.

Trump was said to have settled on an individual to replace Flynn earlier this week, but the candidate, Ret. Navy Vice Adm. Robert Harward, reportedly turned down the offer. ...
Trump to interview Bolton, three others for NSA post
Eric DuVall

Jeremy Grantham — ‘Twas Capitalism That Killed Capitalism

The critical statement polled, in my opinion, was this: “America needs a strong leader to take the country back from the rich and powerful.”... 
For an astonishing 75% of those first 9,000 polled agreed that, yes, we did indeed need to be saved from the rich and powerful. From now on, in my opinion, we live in a different world from the one we grew up in.…
By this time some readers may be asking for a profile of the 74% of the final 45,000 who voted against the rich and powerful. Who are these people? Well, they are us. All of us. I have never heard of a vote so uniform: whether Republican 72% or Democrat 77%; Male 74% or Female 75%; White 75% or Black 74%; Rich 70% or Poor 79%; Christian 74% or Muslim 72%; Graduates 68% or not 76%; they all agreed. They have all had it with the rich and powerful. And as for me, I don’t blame them. I think capitalism has lost its way. And has badly diluted the value of democracy along the way. We can only hope it is very temporary....
Naked Capitalism
Grantham: ‘Twas Capitalism That Killed Capitalism

Read with:

Steve Bannon got that.
"Like [Andrew] Jackson's populism, we're going to build an entirely new political movement," [Bannon] says. "It's everything related to jobs. The conservatives are going to go crazy. I'm the guy pushing a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan. With negative interest rates throughout the world, it's the greatest opportunity to rebuild everything. Shipyards, ironworks, get them all jacked up. We're just going to throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks. It will be as exciting as the 1930s, greater than the Reagan revolution — conservatives, plus populists, in an economic nationalist movement." 
Bannon represents, he not unreasonably believes, the fall of the establishment. The self-satisfied, in-bred and homogenous views of the establishment are both what he is against and what has provided the opening for the Trump revolution. "The media bubble is the ultimate symbol of what's wrong with this country," he continues. "It's just a circle of people talking to themselves who have no f—ing idea what's going on...
"I am," he says, with relish, "Thomas Cromwell in the court of the Tudors."
Bannon has the vision and Trump is the vehicle to actualize it.

The question now is, how is that possible with Trump's billionaire cabinet, the Trump team's close ties with Heritage and Cato, and big donors like the Mercers.Trading one faction of the rich and powerful for another faction? Sure looks like it.

Steve Bannon has his work cut out for time if he is going to the contemporary Thomas Cromwell in the Trump court.

Should Bannon's realignment fail to displace the rich and powerful to the satisfaction of the electorate, there is no telling where US politics is headed. The chances of it going back to where it was before Trump and Bannon is unlikely though.

Adam Kredo — Senior White House Officials Support Bolton To Replace Flynn

I don't usually post speculation but I couldn't resist this.
Senior White House officials and members of the National Security Council are pushing former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton as a replacement for ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn, according to multiple sources in and out of the White House who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.
Among Bolton's most vocal supporters are senior administration officials loyal to Flynn and who are upset at the general's firing. Multiple sources described an effort by these Flynn loyalists to ensure that Bolton is selected as his replacement.
The selection of Bolton as the next national security adviser would empower Flynn's allies still in the White House and send a message that his national security vision is represented within the Trump administration. Bolton is also favored by White House staffers who are opposed to the selection of any candidate who criticized President Trump during the 2016 campaign....
A worse choice from the point of view of sanity doesn't come to mind. Hopefully DJT has all his marbles working for him on this. "Loose cannon" and "bull in a china shop"are not up to characterizing Bolton.

Washington Free Beacon
Senior White House Officials Support Bolton To Replace Flynn — Former U.N. ambassador championed by Flynn loyalists
Adam Kredo

The value of sweatshops to the people who work in them is often overlooked

LOL!! F-ing libertarians...

Ramanan — The All American iPhone: Bad, Or Good?

I would guess that an All-American iPhone would be even more of a luxury-aficianado product than it already is. Would that help or hurt Apple, and how would it affect the US economy. 

The iPhone is already a Veblen good in the Chinese market where it is losing market shares as Chinese companies produce increasing competitive lower-priced rivals. Apple's strategy is not to compete for the bottom end or even middle but to focus on the top. It's called "positioning" in marketing. American-made, like German-made, is also positioning.

The Case for Concerted Action
The All American iPhone: Bad, Or Good?
V. Ramanan

Moon of Alabama — Elections In France - CIA Spies On Political Parties, NYT Claims "Russian" Interference

Enquiring mind wonder whether the CIA is running the American media through the New York Times and the Washington Post?

Moon of Alabama contrasts Wikileaks publication of CIA documents showing CIA infiltration of French politics with New York Times assertions that Russia in interfering in French elections.


Rostislav Ishchenko — The Real Meaning behind Putin's "Ukrainian Terrorism" Speech

Putin sends a message to the West and Ukraine's push for a military solution increases, rejecting Minsk 2.

Fort Russ
The Real Meaning behind Putin's "Ukrainian Terrorism" Speech
Rostislav Ishchenko, RIA Analytics - translated by J. Arnoldski

See also

Putin signs order recognizing DPR/LPR documents, visa-free travel to Russia

Russia decided to validate Donbass residents' documents for humanitarian reasons and the presidential decree will remain in force until the Minsk peace deal is implemented, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Saturday.
Sputnik International
Lavrov Explains What's Behind Putin's Decision on Donbass Residents' Passports

Poroshenko Claims Putin's Decree on Donbass Passports 'Violates' Int'l Law

Brian Romanchuk — NAIRU Should Be Bashed, Smashed, And Trashed

Professor Simon Wren-Lewis recently wrote an article "NAIRU Bashing," in which he attempts to salvage some value out of the concept. As observed by Ramanan, his defense of NAIRU can be summarised as: There Is No Alternative (TINA), A lot of what Professor Wren-Lewis wrote might appear similar to what I have written on the topic. (I will publish the relevant excerpt from Interest Rate Cycles: An Introduction shortly, in case readers would wish to contrast and compare.) However, the belief that there is no alternative to NAIRU is silly. If economics were scholarly (as I discuss here), knowledge would be additive, and we would not have such debates....
Bond Economics
NAIRU Should Be Bashed, Smashed, And Trashed
Brian Romanchuk

Friday, February 17, 2017

Rudy Panko — The Great Draining Begins: Trump Purges State Department's 7th Floor 'Shadow Government'

Tillerson just fired most of the State Department's 7th floor, which is known in Washington as the "Shadow Government"

Russia Insider
The Great Draining Begins: Trump Purges State Department's 7th Floor 'Shadow Government'
Rudy Panko

Sandwichman — All News is "Fake News" (always has been)

From "The Flaneur, the Sandwichman and the Whore: the politics of loitering," Susan Buck-Morss:
The flaneur is the prototype of a new form of salaried employee who produces news / literature / advertisements for the purpose of information / entertainment / persuasion (the forms of both product and purpose are not clearly distinguished). These products fill the "empty" hours which time-off from work has become in the modern city. Writers, now dependent on the market, scan the street scene for material, keeping themselves in the public eye and wearing their own identity like a sandwich board.… 
A salaried flaneur profits by following the ideological fashion. Benjamin connects him ultimately to the police informer and in a late note makes the association: "Flaneur - sandwichman - journalist-in-uniform.The latter advertises the state, no longer the commodity." In an economically precarious and ideologically extremist climate like the 1930s the penalty for a writer's refusal to toe the political line could be great.
All News is "Fake News" (always has been)

Bad Lenders Make Bad Loans — Sharmini Peries interviews Michael Hudson

There is no way in which the lenders did expect Greece to grow. In fact, the IMF was the main lender. It said that Greece cannot grow, under the circumstances that it has now.
What do you do in a case where you make a loan to a country, and the entire staff says that there is no way this country can repay the loan? That is what the IMF staff said in 2015. It made the loan anyway – not to Greece, but to pay French banks, German banks and a few other bondholders – not a penny actually went to Greece. The junk economics they used claimed to have a program to make sure the IMF would help manage the Greek economy to enable it to repay. Unfortunately, their secret ingredient was austerity....
So, the question is, why does this junk economics continue, decade after decade? The reason is that the loans are made to Greece precisely because Greece couldn’t pay. When a country can’t pay, the rules at the IMF and EU and the German bankers behind it say, don’t worry, we will simply insist that you sell off your public domain. Sell off your land, your transportation, your ports, your electric utilities. This is by now a program that has gone on and on, decade after decade....
So they’re making an example of Greece. They’re going to show that finance rules, and in fact that is why both Trump and Ted Malloch have come up in support of the separatist movement in France. They’re supporting Marine Le Pen, just as Putin is supporting Marine Le Pen. There’s a perception throughout the world that finance really is a mode of warfare.
If they can convince countries somehow to adopt junk economics and pursue policies that will destroy themselves, then they’ll be easy pickings for foreign investors, and for the globalists to take over other economies. So, it’s a form of war....
One of Michael Hudson's better ones.

Michael Hudson
Bad Lenders Make Bad Loans
Sharmini Peries interviews Michael Hudson, President of The Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trends (ISLET), a Wall Street Financial Analyst, Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, and Guest Professor at Peking University

Ecns — Trump wins trademark case in China

Of interest for the political and legal implications in the US. We may be hearing more about this. From this report, it doesn't seem be an issue.
The registration signals the first trademark Trump has been granted in China during his presidency, following decade-long efforts to "wrest back" his name from a Chinese citizen named Dong Wei, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday.
Dong filed the trademark application in December 2006 for use in the decoration and repair of residential properties and hotels, which was two weeks earlier than that of Trump.
As a result, Chinese authorities turned down Trump's application due to the "first come, first serve" mechanism.... 
Zhou Dandan, a lawyer from the Beijing-based Unitalen Attorneys at Law who handled the case, said that the decision was based on Chinese trademark law. "Under the regulation, other individuals except the person himself are forbidden from registering the names of prominent political, economic, and religious figures," Zhou told the Global Times on Thursday.
Trump was little-known in China 10 years ago, and the trademark registered by Dong was not linked to the U.S. president at that time, she noted. But when Trump became president, "abundant evidence became available invalidating Dong's trademark," Zhou said.
Trump's right to use his name in construction services after many years of failure has sparked concerns in the U.S. over whether the ruling has broader political implications. 
Richard Painter, chief White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush, was quoted by the Associated Press as saying that "any special treatment from China would mean that Trump effectively accepted a present from Beijing, an act that would violate the constitution."
Trump wins trademark case in China

Some agree with Painter.

Money Game
Trump has a shocking conflict of interest with China
Pedro Nicolaci da Costa

Ecns — 2,000-year-old classic becomes bestseller in China

This is a big deal in that the text is written in ancient script that contemporary Chinese cannot read without training.
Not just the "Analects" but other Chinese classic texts are also doing well on the market. The phenomenon has surprised publishers, who have been impressed by readers' eagerness to read the original texts - composed in an ancient script not easily accessible to modern Chinese speakers - first-hand.
I recall asking a couple of Chinese students from the Mainland to confirm a translation of a passage in Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching some years ago. They said that they could not read the ancient characters and that I should consult a fellow professor who did read it, a Harvard-trained American. I found that rather ironic.

2,000-year-old classic becomes bestseller in China

Alastair Crooke — ‘Deep State’ Has Trump on the Menu

Whether President Trump knows it or not, he is in a battle with a powerful ‘Deep State’ that wants to suck him into its neocon foreign policy orthodoxy or destroy him politically, as ex-British diplomat Alastair Crooke explains.
Superior analysis. Crooke cites many of the sources we have been posting here at MNE. However, he brings in Israel, which we have not featured even through it is the crux, as Crooke explains.

Consortium News
‘Deep State’ Has Trump on the Menu
Alastair Crooke, former British diplomat and senior figure in British intelligence, and founder and director of the Conflicts Forum

Ben Schiller — Economists Are Not Very Enthusiastic About The Idea Of A Universal Basic Income

These days, all kinds of sensible and brilliant people, from Elon Musk to the prime minister of Finland, are voicing support for universal basic income. The idea of giving everyone—or at least some people—enough to lift them out of poverty without having to work some menial job is very of the moment. Executives like Musk are asked about it all the time, and executives like Musk generally think it's a good call; the tech elite are some of the idea's most enthusiastic supporters.
But among economists—who presumably would need to be on board if a basic income were to become mainstream policy—support is far from universal. They generally see the idea as appealing in theory, but unworkable, expensive, or creating the wrong type of incentives in practice. They worry it will stop people from working, and generally from participating in society. When the IGM Economic Experts Panel—which surveys economists from "the most elite research universities" on policy questions—asked economists about basic income, the response was noticeably negative....
Economists Are Not Very Enthusiastic About The Idea Of A Universal Basic Income
Ben Schiller

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Adrian A. Basora and Kenneth Yalowitz — Democracy Promotion Is Smart Security Policy

Two former US ambassadors advocate for "democracy promotion" abroad to enhance US national security.
Excluded from these efforts will be countries like Russia and Uzbekistan, where the effort would be futile and/or discredit democracy promotion by validating regime propaganda that equates these programs with aggressive intrusion into domestic affairs.
The National Interest
Democracy Promotion Is Smart Security Policy
Adrian A. Basora, formerly U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic and presently director of the Foreign Policy Research Institute Eurasia Program and Project on Democratic Transitions, and Kenneth Yalowitz, formerly U.S. ambassador to Belarus and Georgia, and presently director of the Conflict Resolution Program at Georgetown University and a Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center.

Reuters — Europe must not bow to U.S. spending demands on NATO: EU's Juncker

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Thursday that Europe must not cave in to U.S demands to raise military spending, arguing that development and humanitarian aid could also count as security....
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis warned North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies on Wednesday that they must honor military spending pledges to make sure the United States does not moderate its support....

Pat Buchanan — The Deep State Targets Trump

When Gen. Michael Flynn was forced to resign as national security adviser, Bill Kristol purred his satisfaction, “If it comes to it, prefer the Deep State to the Trump state.”
To Kristol [Email him] the permanent regime, not the elected president and his government, is the real defender and rightful repository of our liberties.
Pat Buchanan: The Deep State Targets Trump


Zero Hedge
Leading Progressives Say that Even Americans Who Hate Trump Should Defend Him Against Attempted Coup by the “Deep State”
George Washington


My travels today took me thru sometimes rough east Baltimore and I passed this abandoned chemical plant reminding me of Ace Chemical in  Arkham City and some of Trump's rhetoric.

So I pulled over for a few minutes and took some photos and planned on researching what happened tonight.

This place was a complete disaster, I can't imagine what nasty stuff is bound up in this wreckage, lead, asbestos, spores, probably worse shit:

PEMCO Corp. was on the old signage probably f-ing lead paint...

Found an article in the Sun from 2008 announcing the closing of this plant (I guess this place was abandoned in 2008 so these pictures represent 8 years of degradation).  Really looks like they just dropped everything and got the f out of there.

Some interesting tidbits from the article here:
The city is losing a historic manufacturer as Pemco International, which was started in Baltimore nearly 100 years ago as a family business and grew to be a multinational corporation, pulls up stakes and heads south. 
The company, which makes porcelain enamel coatings for kitchen and bathroom appliances, barbecue grills and floor tiles, announced yesterday that it is consolidating operations at its plant in Leesburg, Ala. 
It marks the end of a Baltimore pioneer that gave Howard Johnson hotels and restaurants their distinctive orange-colored roofing. 
Pemco President Jack McMahon said the company had been considering the move for some time, as the North American market for its product declined. Consumer tastes have shifted from porcelain to stainless steel, he said, and Pemco's customers - manufacturers that paint their products with Pemco's coatings - have either closed or moved to Mexico. 
McMahon said the Leesburg plant, which Pemco bought in 2000, is newer and has room for expansion. It's also closer to customers in Mexico. About 50 people work there now, he said. "This made the most business sense," McMahon said yesterday afternoon, shortly after notifying second-shift employees about the East Baltimore plant's closure.

Here's a good one:

McMahon said he will work with the city to make sure Pemco's two buildings on Eastern Avenue, across from the Johns Hopkins University's Bayview campus, are redeveloped rather than abandoned.

LOL yeah right!!!  Here we are 8 years later.   Believe me this place is a f-ing hell hole I wouldn't take it for free...

John Keane — Democracy and populism

We’re witnessing the rise of populist leaders around the globe. John Keane, Professor of Politics and co-founder and director of the Sydney Democracy Network (SDN), explains why we need something more radically democratic to turn this around.
John Keane
Democracy and populism
John Keane | Professor of Politics at the University of Sydney and at the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin, founder of the Centre for the Study of Democracy (CSD) in London and the Director of the Sydney Democracy Network

Alexander Mercouris — BREAKING: Donald Trump’s press conference (analysis)

Alexander Mercouris is spot on in this analysis here.

Best line: "I would guess that already by now as I am writing this various people in The New York Times, CNN, the US intelligence community, and former officials of the Obama administration, are busy phoning their lawyers."

We're about to find out what getting even means to Trump.

RT — US delegation ushers out media as Tillerson starts talking to Lavrov at G20

Tillerson takes charge at State. Curtains come down.

US delegation ushers out media as Tillerson starts talking to Lavrov at G20


Anti-Russian campaign in US media may send wrong signal to Putin - Trump

Heiner Flassbeck — Trump bashing: neoliberalism hits back

Pro-Americanism in Europe changed since Trump won the election. Those who believed that Europe would always faithfully follow America’s course have been proven wrong. The anti-Trump movement is active in many countries and in all media. Its political direction is clear. The problem with the Trump bashing is that the “liberals” criticise absolutely everything that Trump does. In proceeding like this, they lose the ability to reflect upon certain positions and policies.…
flassbeck economics international
Trump bashing: neoliberalism hits back
Heiner Flassbeck

Real Progressives LIVE with L Randall Wray - MMT and Debunking AMI: Positive Money

Real Progressives LIVE with L Randall Wray - MMT and Debunking AMI: Positive Money