Thursday, August 17, 2017

But what should be more troubling to Antifa is that its strategy of participating in violence provides a unique opening for right-wing extremists. We are hearing more and more about Antifa not because its anti-fascist message is being disseminated more effectively. Instead we are hearing about it as the bogeyman of white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, and other far-right groups.
Antifa is, in this context, the violent provocateur of the alt-right. Unless and until the left acknowledges this political vulnerability, being able to distinguish Antifa from its ideological opponents will increasingly become a blurry enterprise.
This was true back in the Sixties and Seventies when the Black Bloc provoked violence at otherwise peaceful demonstrations. There was a theory that the perpetrators of violence were was agent provocateurs, and there likely was some truth to that in cases. However, it was not true of all cases and perhaps most. The people perpetrating the violence were far left. They self-identified as anarchists. Later this became known as the black bloc.

I knew some of these people back then. They were predominantly anarchists, although it seemed to me that some were just thugs looking for a fight with The Man. This was a fringe group at the periphery of the much larger antiwar movement, when most demonstrations were organized as protests against the Vietnam War. This was the extent of their interest for some, but there were also a lot of people that were also peacefully protesting a system that they viewed as exploitive and corrupt. This can be viewed as a dialectical response to the status quo at the time that considered "normal" in America. A lot of younger people didn't want to sign up for that future.

Among the protesters were fringe groups of socialists and even a few communists, but they were also generally peaceful in my experience. It was the self-styled anarchists that were into bashing, and their target was the riot police. Most of the policing of the demonstrations was by regular forces, but there was also a contingent of riot police in the background and violence would work to draw them out. The mainstream media never reported on this, and the rest of the demonstrators mostly ignored it as an aberration, if they even encountered it at all. It was not a widespread phenomenon.

But now the media is on it, and it is also on the Internet. The peaceful opposition needs to be aware that this is an issue and not try to cover it up or deny it, or it will become toxic.

Antifa Needs a New Way to Fight the Alt-Right
James Braxton Peterson is professor of English and director of Africana studies at Lehigh University

Noah Smith — "Theory vs. Data" in statistics too


I think Noah has this right. Fit the tool to the job, rather than the job to the tool.

Aristotle defined speculative knowledge in terms of causal explanation. This definition stuck although Aristotle's analysis of causality did not.
In the Posterior Analytics, Aristotle places the following crucial condition on proper knowledge: we think we have knowledge of a thing only when we have grasped its cause (APost. 71 b 9–11. Cf. APost. 94 a 20). That proper knowledge is knowledge of the cause is repeated in the Physics: we think we do not have knowledge of a thing until we have grasped its why, that is to say, its cause (Phys. 194 b 17–20). Since Aristotle obviously conceives of a causal investigation as the search for an answer to the question “why?”, and a why-question is a request for an explanation, it can be useful to think of a cause as a certain type of explanation. (My hesitation is ultimately due to the fact that not all why-questions are requests for an explanation that identifies a cause, let alone a cause in the particular sense envisioned by Aristotle.) — Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
There is a distinction between reasons and causes. Some types of explanation seek only reasons, while other seek causes. Causation subsequently came to be viewed in terms of articulating mechanisms or lines of transmission (models) that are substantiated in evidence.

Explanation by reasons is different since the strict criterion of articulating mechanisms or lines of transmission that can be checked against evidence is not required.

Explanation by reasons rather than strictly by establishing causation is based on the principle of sufficient reason, which is usually credited to Spinoza and Leibnitz.

In philosophical logic, two negative criteria are foundational. Valid reasoning is vitiated by 1) arguing in a circle and 2) infinite regress.

Without recourse to checking against evidence there is no stopping point in assigning causes other than stipulation, e.g. of a first cause.

However, there may be a reason for a stopping point that doesn't involve causality based on evidence from observation or only stipulation, for example, principles that are "self-evident" based on intuition such as Aristotle's conception of intellectual intuition, or Kant's synthetic a priori propositions as articulated in the Critique of Pure Reason

On the other hand, Hume argued that causality is merely over-interpretation of constant correlation, there being no knowledge of the world other than that based on sense data. There is no observable causal link.

Cutting to the chase, scientific explanation based on causality is grounded in models that articulate causal mechanisms or lines of transmission that show how things change invariantly, which is the basis for deterministic functions. Where this is not possible, then there are two other avenues. The first is explanation by giving reasons, which is the domain of speculative philosophy. The second is employing statistics to explore patters of correlation. The question then is to what degree causal models can be gained from statistical methods, or whether it is possible at all. 

This is the issue that Noah Smith's post is getting at.

"Theory vs. Data" in statistics too
Noah Smith | Bloomberg View columnist

Patricia Pino — The fringe event that promises to empower Labour’s Progressives against neoliberalism

Professor Bill Mitchell – a major proponent of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) – will attend a Labour Conference fringe event this September, it’s a rare opportunity progressives must seize.…
Through the mass misinformation that is the neoliberal doctrine, the elites created a set of economic rules which presents them and only them as the indispensable saviours of society, and thus the only entity that must directly benefit from economic policy. They then dressed this fantasy as common sense, aided by their media sycophants whose very positions depend on the continued support from the wealthy classes. Dissent against this destructive order is presented as madness. Obedience is absolute: the poor think they must protect their masters, even at the expense of their own wellbeing.
In fact, every ill of society, every injustice, every incident of exploitation and systematic cruelty, finds its justification in some false economic dogma that goes unquestioned. And that is why the fight for social change goes hand in hand with economic reform....
If this movement belongs primarily to the young, then it is time for them to take the lead. Until millennials arm themselves with strong economic arguments, they will be defenceless when the establishment blames their money troubles on indulgence, their growing personal debt on irresponsibility and their joblessness on laziness. Until millennials can explain why these societal issues are a direct result of economic policy, the establishment will continue to promote them as individuals’ problems. The difficulties presented by a population that has endured 40 years of neoliberal indoctrination cannot be underestimated....
Help the organisers: visit the Crowdfunding page for this event. 
The Pileus
The fringe event that promises to empower Labour’s Progressives against neoliberalism
Patricia Pino

also by Patricia Pino:
Recently, I had the opportunity to discuss MMT at length with Professor Bill Mitchell himself. My objective was to find a way to explain its fundamentals in a way which could be easily understood by anyone, without the requirement of an academic background. He was kind enough to help me in this task.
To understand MMT, it is best to start by comparing it to Neoliberalism.…
It should now be evident why the neoliberal model presents a destructive path. Immediate environmental and human concerns (namely climate change and destitution) are relegated to issues of secondary importance. But to replace this model with that proposed by MMT a number of challenges remain.…
The following are a few basic principles of MMT which must be understood in order to challenge the neoliberal myths:
Labour’s economic alternative to neoliberalism

David Motadel: The United States was never immune to fascism. Not then, not now

It has never been more important to knowledge the history of fascism and neofacism in America.

David Montadel is assistant professor of international history at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

America is currently experiencing a wave of increasingly aggressive far-right and neo-fascist activism. Observers have routinely considered fascism an ideology alien to American society. Yet it has deeper roots in American history than most of us have been willing to acknowledge.
Consider the interwar period. The crisis years of the 1920s and 1930s not only gave rise to fascist movements across Europe – a moment captured in Ernst Nolte’s classic The Three Faces of Fascism – but around the globe. The United States was no exception.
Across the country, fascist and proto-fascist groups sprang up. The most prominent among them was the paramilitary Silver Shirts movement, founded by William Dudley Pelley, a radical journalist from Massachusetts, in 1933.
Obsessed with fantasies about a Jewish-Communist world conspiracy and fears about an African American corruption of American culture, its followers promoted racism, extreme nationalism, violence and the ideal of an aggressive masculinity. They competed against various other militant fringe groups, from the Khaki Shirt movement, which aimed to build a paramilitary force of army veterans to stage a coup, to the paramilitary Black Legion, feared for its assassinations, bombings and acts of arson.
An important role in this history was played by radicalized parts of the Italian and German American community. Inspired by the ascent of Mussolini, some Italian Americans founded numerous fascist groups, which were eventually united under the Fascist League of North America.
Even bigger was Fritz Julius Kuhn’s German-American Bund, founded in 1936. Its members considered themselves patriotic Americans. At their meetings the American flag stood beside the Swastika banner. At a rally at Madison Square Garden in New York on 20 February 1939, a crowd of 20,000 listened to Kuhn attacking President Franklin D Roosevelt, referring to him as “Frank D Rosenfeld” and calling his New Deal a “Jew Deal”.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

teleSUR — Brazil's Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Indigenous Claim

Indigenous communities in Brazil have scored a major victory, as the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in their favor in a conflict over the Xingu Indigenous Park, in the state of Mato Grosso, and the Indigenous reserves of Nambikwara and Parecis.
Brazil's Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Indigenous Claim
teleSUR / md-IB-cl

Robert Kuttner — Steve Bannon, Unrepentant

Trump’s embattled strategist phones me, unbidden, to opine on China, Korea, and his enemies in the administration.
Great article.

The American Prospect
Steve Bannon, Unrepentant
Robert Kuttner

It gets better. Bannon thought this was off the record.

Raw Story
‘Leaker’ Bannon ‘never intended’ for free-wheeling interview to be on record: report
Elizabeth Preza

Michael Krieger — Americans are Rapidly Descending Into Madness

This is interesting post. It reflects a key strain of thought at the time of the craziness over Vietnam that led to the countercultural revolution, communalism, the underground economy, etc. Most people that grew up after that period are unaware of the profound shift that took place in American culture from mid-Sixties (seeded by the Beat Generation of the late Fifties) to the mid-Seventies. The transition was complete by the late Seventies and America set off on another generational round at the time of the Reagan presidency.

Krieger's post, with which I identify from those times, suggests that something similar may be happening. This would accord with the generational theory of Strauss and Howe and also suggested by Ravi Batra in The New Golden Age: The Coming Revolution against Political Corruption and Economic Chaos.

Interesting also, Krieger calls for raising the level of collective consciousness as an antidote to the mass craziness, something that also characterized the period of the countercultural revolution in America and the a renewed interest in spirituality apart from institutional religions. Now meditation is a household word in the West, recommended by health professionals and adopted as a management technique.

According to Stauss & Howe, the Sixties generation was one characterized by Awakening and I agree that this is an apt characterization of what transpired then. However, the present cycle of generational change is characterized by crisis, and that also seems to be the case. This period is a phase transition to the next generational cycle. It is a period of destruction before a new period of reconstruction.

Liberty Blitzkrieg
Americans are Rapidly Descending Into Madness
Michael Krieger

John Bowden — Bannon: I want Democrats to talk about racism every day

The Alt Right is not going to be happy with Steve Bannon calling the white nationalist protesters clowns and losers.

He is correct that Democrats have a tendency to overplay their hand in using identity politics, but they smell blood here.

The good thing is that America is finally having to deal with its demons.

The Hill
Bannon: I want Democrats to talk about racism every day
John Bowden

Meanwhile, Barack Obama hit a homer with this tweet.

The Guardian
Obama's anti-racism tweet after Charlottesville is most liked ever on Twitter
Claire Phipps

Then there is this.

So we are supposed to believe that communist influence is as big an issue in the US as white nationalism and racism?

Daily Caller
Many Unhappy With Communist Statues Across The U.S.
Henry Rodgers

Robert Strand — How CEOs Decided Trump Is a Bad Investment

One way of looking at it.

How CEOs Decided Trump Is a Bad Investment
Robert Strand | Executive Director of the Center for Responsible Business at the University of California-Berkeley Haas School of Business and Associate Professor at the Copenhagen Business School Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility

Laura Santhanam — New poll: Majority of Americans unhappy with Trump’s response to Charlottesville

A majority of Americans are dissatisfied with President Donald Trump’s response to the violence that erupted last Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia, according to a new poll conducted by the PBS NewsHour, NPR and Marist Poll....
New poll: Majority of Americans unhappy with Trump’s response to Charlottesville
Laura Santhanam

Sarah Kliff — An astonishing change in how Americans think about government-run health care

An astonishing change in how Americans think about government-run health care
Sarah Kliff

John Harwood — Donald Trump has a very clear attitude about morality: He doesn't believe in it

  • President Trump, in a raucous press conference, again blamed "both sides" for deadly violence in Charlottesville
  • He attacked business leaders who quit a White House panel over Trump's message on the weekend incident
  • Trump combines indifference to conventional notions of morality or propriety with disbelief that others would be motivated by them
It will interesting to watch the polling on how Americans relate to this. The US establishment might get a surprise. That would be a surprise for the world, too.

This has the potential for being a game changer. We'll see. I don't see this ending soon.

CNBC — The Harwood File
Donald Trump has a very clear attitude about morality: He doesn't believe in it
John Harwood

Stratfor — The Apocalyptic Vision of Stephen K. Bannon

Useful short summary of Strauss & Howe's generational theory, chiefly The Fourth Turning, and Steve Bannon's interpretation of its implications for America and the world.

Tom Luongo — Russia Turns to Cryptocurrencies to Counter US Sanctions

In essence, by the end of 2018, cryptos will be trading on the Moscow Exchange and integrated into the banking system to stand beside stocks, bonds and other derivative assets.

Brian Resnick — Psychologists surveyed hundreds of alt-right supporters. The results are unsettling.

This view is what enabled slave holder and slave breeder Thomas Jefferson to write, 
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed….
In Jefferson's day in the US, many assumed (believed) that only white men were fully human, so there was no contradiction between the belief that all men are created equal and slavery. 

The rest were accordingly not enfranchised in the US Constitution.

Non-white males were franchised subsequent to the Civil War, but women did not get the vote until the Constitution was amended in 1920, and this came only after a long fight by the women suffrage movement.

Psychologists surveyed hundreds of alt-right supporters. The results are unsettling.
Brian Resnick

Putting an End to the Rent Economy — Vlado Plaga interviews Michael Hudson

Interview with Vlado Plaga in the German magazine FAIRCONOMY, September 2017.

VP: You are advocating a revival of classical economics. What did the classical economists understand by a free economy?
MH: They all defined a free economy as one that is free from land rent, free from unearned income. Many also said that a free economy had to be free from private banking. They advocated full taxation of economic rent. Today’s idea of free market economics is the diametric opposite. In an Orwellian doublethink language, a free market now means an economy free for rent extractors, free for predators to make money, and essentially free for financial and corporate crime.
Good one.

Putting an End to the Rent Economy
Vlado Plaga 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

Sandwichman — Deep Structures of the Cultural Marxism Myth

Jeet Heer has posted a timely and excellent essay at New Republic titled "Trump's Racism and the Cultural Marxism Myth." In his essay, Heer recounts much of the background to the Higgins memo that I have documented here, here and here. Heer credits William S. Lind as the major popularizer of the myth, as have I in my blog posts. What I'm posting here extends the analysis and reveals significant background about personnel and timelines to the story....
There is a subtext to this that one needs to know and many American that were born later than 1980 and most non-Americans probably don't know much about it. A key element of the history is the influence of Herbert Marcuse on the countercultural revolution of the Sixties and Seventies that carried dynamcially by the antiwar movement against the Vietnam War. The participants in this were characterized by the opposition as "dirty fucking hippies" (acronym DFHs).

I am only too well aware this since I was one of the DFHs. After I left active duty in the US Naval Reserve as an officer serving in the Western Pacific (yes, I am therefore a Vietnam vet) I joined the antiwar movement based on what I had learned from my experience, as did John Kerry and other Vietnam vets. We were the butt of a great deal of vituperation from people that did not serve and sought deferments to keep from serving.

The DFHs became the enemy along with totalitarian communism. The right characterized the DFHs as at least pink if not red, indicating an overlap between antiwar Americans and the commies. Jane Fonda was the poster child. We adopted the term "DFH" proudly for ourselves to counter the insult, but actually called ourselves "freaks" since our task as countercultural revolutionaries was to freak out the squares. We dressed and acted accordingly, as in "sex, drugs and rock and roll." Good times.

When the US lost the Vietnam War by withdrawing rather ignomineously, the narrative on the right was that the antiwar left had "stabbed America in the back." This was reminiscent of Hitler and the Nazis scapegoating "the Jews" for stabbing Germany in the back, purported resulting Germany's loss in WWI. I don't want to overemphasize this parallel, but it is there, and it should not be ignored, especially in light of present politics.

Since that time, US politics has been characterized by the attempt of the more extreme right to characterize the left as a whole in this light in its narrative. This is the origin of the term "cultural Marxism."
At last we have a doctrine, a vanguard organization, and a timeline. But most importantly, courtesy of the Larouche cult, we now have a suitably unitary devil-function. The "basic Nazi trick," as Kenneth Burke labeled "the 'curative' unification by a fictitious devil-function, gradually made convincing by the sloganizing repetitiousness of standard advertising technique." Helpfully, in a 1988 address to the Heritage Foundation,William F. Campbell explained why conservatives need such a devil-function: 
But as first and second generation conservatives have always known, and had to live with as an unpleasant skeleton in the family closet, there is sharp tension, if not contradiction, between the traditionalist and the libertarian wings of the conservative movement. They have been held together primarily because of their common enemies, modern egalitarianism and totalitarian collectivism, which they both abhor.
In 1988, when Campbell made those remarks, the Soviet Union still existed and could serve the primary role of common enemy, symbolizing the alien totalitarian destiny of domestic egalitarianism. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, a new enemy had to be conjured. The Higgins memo is testament to the contortions that must be endured to conjure that devil.
BTW, I was sitting that the center of the left at the time as a grad student in philosophy. I can say from experience that Herbert Marcuse's influence on the antiwar movement and DFHs was marginal. So most of the cultural Marxism myth based on his supposed influence is simply nonsense. This may have been true, to some degree at least, in the youth movements in France and Germany at the time. But Americans are not much interested in philosophy and tend to be action-oriented. They don't need elaborate justifications for action.

Deep Structures of the Cultural Marxism Myth

Brian Romanchuk — Primer: Money Neutrality

Short simple summary of the meaning of "money neutrality." 

Money neutrality is a key piece of conventional (neoclassical) economics. Keynes rejected money neutrality in a modern monetary production economy. Money neutrality is also foundational to monetarism based on the quantity theory of money.

Bond Economics
Primer: Money Neutrality
Brian Romanchuk

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Quartz — The best city to live in the world is Melbourne in Australia

New ZealandAuckland8

The best city to live in the world is Melbourne in Australia
Lianna Brinded

Leonid Bershidsky — Piketty Zeroes In on Putin's Pain Point

Russian ex-pat Leonid Bershidsky is blowing holes through Western narratives that are out of touch with Russian reality and heavily influenced by Western russophobia.
This raises the question of whether the current Western sanctions against Russia strike at the heart of the Russian system or merely pretend to do so. Since the sanctions were introduced, no Western government has made a meaningful effort to investigate the provenance of hundreds of billions of dollars in Russian offshore assets. No significant asset freezes have taken place. The money is still out there, to be invested inside or outside Russia, in the service of its "perceived national interest" or otherwise (Putin would like to get his hands on some of it, too, but it doesn't belong to his cronies).
A Western effort to track down that money and make it available to a post-Putin, democratic Russia could potentially be a game-changer. But it would require far more work, and probably a lot of uncomfortable revelations about Western business and politics. The current sanctions regime is simply not intended to open that can of worms.
Bloomberg View
Piketty Zeroes In on Putin's Pain Point
Leonid Bershidsky

Pam Martens and Russ Martens — Corporate Media Continues to Pump Out Fake News on Wall Street Crash of 2008

When there is an epic financial crash in the U.S. that collapses century old Wall Street institutions and brings about the greatest economic collapse since the Great Depression, one would think that the root causes would be chiseled in stone by now. But when it comes to the 2008 crash, expensive corporate media real estate is happy to allow bogus theories to go unchallenged by editors.
What is happening ever so subtly over time is that the unprecedented greed, corruption and unrestrained manufacture of fraudulent securities by iconic brands on Wall Street that actually caused the crash are getting a gentle rewrite. The insidious danger of this is that Wall Street is never reformed or adequately regulated – that it remains a skulking financial monster with its unseen tentacles wrapped tightly around every economic artery of American life, retaining its ever present strangulation potential....
This is what public relations and advertising are about. There is no accountability for putting out false narratives. In fact, "consumer capitalism" is based on duping the rubes.

Wall Street On Parade
Corporate Media Continues to Pump Out Fake News on Wall Street Crash of 2008
Pam Martens and Russ Martens

Peter Cooper — Short & Simple 16 – The Expenditure Multiplier and Income Determination

Spending out of income is called induced spending. Equivalently, it is known as ‘endogenous’ spending.
This kind of spending rises and falls roughly in line with income. When income rises, households consume more. When income falls, they consume less.
Because some spending is induced, an initial act of autonomous spending will cause a multiplied increase in new spending and new income. This is known as the expenditure-multiplier effect....
Short & Simple 16 – The Expenditure Multiplier and Income Determination
Peter Cooper

Timothy Taylor — Adam Smith: The Plight of the Impartial Spectator in Times of Faction

Quote from The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759).

Conversable Economist
Adam Smith: The Plight of the Impartial Spectator in Times of Faction
Timothy Taylor | Managing editor of the Journal of Economic Perspectives, based at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota

Thomas Graham — The problem isn’t Putin, it’s Russia

As relations worsen, US must realize Russia will not soon, if ever, become a liberal democracy.…
Carried away by ahistorical reasoning, the U.S. believed its victory in the Cold War meant that Russia, like all other countries, had little choice but to adopt the liberal democratic free-market order that had brought prosperity and peace to the West....
The real problem is viewing this as problem. Probably no non-Western state will become a liberal democracy because it is not in accord with the culture and temperament of the people. This is not a problem; it is a fact of history. Wanting it to be otherwise results in wishful thinking and, worse, magical thinking.

The problem is assuming that Western liberalism, and worse, Anglo-American liberalism, are based on eternal truth. This is the kind of dogmatism that liberalism was born in opposition to, and it is the basis of justifying tyranny, for example, as the divine right of kings.

The obvious solution to the pseudo problem is multilateralism and multiculturalism, which is actually more faithful to the principles of liberalism than dogmatic liberalism, which is an oxymoron.

Note that the problem with Graham's policy analysis is that while encouraging pragmatism, it ignores Russia's bottom line and is therefore unrealistic from the outset and will not work. Graham is therefore guilty of what he argues against. 

The problem isn’t Putin, it’s Russia
Thomas Graham, managing director at Kissinger Associates, was the senior director for Russia on the U.S. National Security Council staff from 2004-2007

Bill Mitchell — Japan is different, right? Wrong! Fiscal policy works

Japan is different, right? Japan has a different culture, right? Japan has sustained low unemployment, low inflation, low interest rates, high public deficits and high gross public debt for 25 years, but that is cultural, right? Even the mainstream media is starting to see through the Japan is different narrative as we will see. Yesterday (August 14, 2017), the Cabinet Office in Japan published the preliminary – Quarterly Estimates of GDP – which showed that the Japanese economy is growing strongly and has just posted the 9th quarter of positive annual real GDP growth. Private consumption and investment is strong, the public sector continues to underpin growth with fiscal deficits and real wages are growing. The Eurozone should send a delegation to Tokyo but then all they would learn is that a currency-issuing government that doesn’t fall into the austerity obsession promoted by many economists (including those in the European Commission) can oversee strong growth and low unemployment. Simple really. The Japan experience is interesting because it demonstrates how the reversal in fiscal policy can have significant negative and positive effects in a fairly short time span, whereas monetary policy is much less effective in influencing expenditure....
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
Japan is different, right? Wrong! Fiscal policy works
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

See also

Japanese sectoral balances.

Seeking Alpha (Aug. 8, 2017)
Good News: Japanese Current Account ¥935B Surplus In July 2017
Alan Longbon

Chris McGreal: Don't blame addicts for America's opioid crisis. Here are the real culprits

America’s opioid crisis was caused by rapacious pharma companies, politicians who colluded with them and regulators who approved one opioid pill after another

Of all the people Donald Trump could blame for the opioid epidemic, he chose the victims. After his own commission on the opioid crisis issued an interim report this week, Trump said young people should be told drugs are “No good, really bad for you in every way.”
The president’s exhortation to follow Nancy Reagan’s miserably inadequate advice and Just Say No to drugs is far from useful. The then first lady made not a jot of difference to the crack epidemic in the 1980s. But Trump’s characterisation of the source of the opioid crisis was more disturbing. “The best way to prevent drug addiction and overdose is to prevent people from abusing drugs in the first place,” he said.
That is straight out of the opioid manufacturers’ playbook. Facing a raft of lawsuits and a threat to their profits, pharmaceutical companies are pushing the line that the epidemic stems not from the wholesale prescribing of powerful painkillers - essentially heroin in pill form - but their misuse by some of those who then become addicted.

In court filings, drug companies are smearing the estimated two million people hooked on their products as criminals to blame for their own addiction. Some of those in its grip break the law by buying drugs on the black market or switch to heroin. But too often that addiction began by following the advice of a doctor who, in turn, was following the drug manufacturers instructions.
Trump made no mention of this or reining in the mass prescribing underpinning the epidemic. Instead he played to the abuse narrative when he painted the crisis as a law and order issue, and criticised Barack Obama for scaling back drug prosecutions and lowering sentences.
But as the president’s own commission noted, this is not an epidemic caused by those caught in its grasp. “We have an enormous problem that is often not beginning on street corners; it is starting in doctor’s offices and hospitals in every state in our nation,” it said.
The Guardian: Don't blame addicts for America's opioid crisis. Here are the real culprits

From Naked Capitalism which Andrew Anderson pointed out:


We have to look at what is the pain that people are trying to escape from. For that, there are two major causes. One cause is childhood trauma. We talk about how childhood trauma actually affects the brain in such a way as to make it more susceptible to addictions later on. Childhood trauma is one source of deep pain and all the addicts I worked with have been traumatized significantly so. That’s what the large scale studies in the US shows about it, the more trauma in childhood, exponentially the greater the risk of addiction. Childhood trauma is a huge problem in our society and in American society.

The other question is, what’s going on right now? That’s stress. What we also know is that stress makes the brain more susceptible to addiction and stress also makes people more desires of escape from the stress. If you look at what’s happening socially, economically, politically, culturally, is increasing insecurity, increasing stress, increasing uncertainty, increasing difficulty for people. Therefore, people will turn to short-term measures to escape those difficulties, or at least the awareness of them, by escaping into addictions, including drug use. What we’re looking at is, A, childhood trauma, and B, severe social stress. It’s not surprising that the areas where Trump got the greatest support are areas of great social stress.

Marilyn Wedge Ph.D.: Why French Kids Don't Have ADHD

French children don't need medications to control their behavior.

In the United States, at least 9 percent of school-aged children have been diagnosed with ADHD, and are taking pharmaceutical medications. In France, the percentage of kids diagnosed and medicated for ADHD is less than .5 percent. How has the epidemic of ADHD—firmly established in the U.S.—almost completely passed over children in France?

Is ADHD a biological-neurological disorder? Surprisingly, the answer to this question depends on whether you live in France or in the U.S. In the United States, child psychiatrists consider ADHD to be a biological disorder with biological causes. The preferred treatment is also biological—psycho stimulant medications such as Ritalin and Adderall.

French child psychiatrists, on the other hand, view ADHD as a medical condition that has psycho-social and situational causes. Instead of treating children's focusing and behavioral problems with drugs, French doctors prefer to look for the underlying issue that is causing the child distress—not in the child's brain but in the child's social context. They then choose to treat the underlying social context problem with psychotherapy or family counseling. This is a very different way of seeing things from the American tendency to attribute all symptoms to a biological dysfunction such as a chemical imbalance in the child's brain.

Psychology Today: Why French Kids Don't Have ADHD

Biological psychiatry reigns supreme and all behavior was once linked to quirks in our genes, but the human genome project failed to point to any genetic traits that led to mental illness (apart from a minor gene recently found for schizophrenia, but most people with the gene do not have any problems) . What you will get in the media is news of research linking some gene to this or that psychological illness but when later research overturns the results the media ignores it. The short serotonin gene was not shown to be linked to depression in further research but the public still believes that low serotonin causes depression. Then the drug companies and the geneticists said instead that the the short serotonin gene predisposed people to depression if their upbringing was traumatic but later research overturned that theory too.

The French drug Tianeptine (Stablon) came out at the same time as Prozac but it works completely in the opposite way to SSRI's by lowering serotonin instead and is known as a serotonin re-update enhancer, SSRE, but it is just an effective as the SSRI's and a lot safer with hardly any side effects. Instead of bashing the brain into a stupor destroying passion and libido Tianeptine is neuroprtective allowing the hippocampus to regrow and this helps people overcome depression. Anglo-Saxon corporations ignored the French research and pushed their theories onto the public anyway and now millions of people are addicted to pills that stop working after a while making things worse in the long run, but this is good news for drug companies as the dosage needs to be needs to be constantly increased. I do believe their is a role to play for modern psychiatric medicine, though, when things get really bad, but the drugs are over prescribed and their dangers underestimated.

I'm not that keen on  Micheal Adams but I thought his song SSRILies was very good. Very populist, I know, and things are not black and white, but the right again are on the ball with this one.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Graham T. Allison — America and Russia: Back to Basics

Short lesson in strategy.
Current discussions of “punishing” Russia for interference in the 2016 presidential election, or “sanctioning” Russia for destabilizing eastern Ukraine, or “countering” Russian military deployments by stationing additional U.S. and NATO troops in the Baltics, fail to ask an elementary question from strategy 101: and then what? What will Russia do in response? And at the end of the sequence of actions and reactions, will Americans be safer than before? Bismarck warned against playing chess one move at a time.
The National Interest
America and Russia: Back to Basics
Graham T. Allison, former director of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center and the author of Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?

Warren Mosler — Credit check

This kind of deceleration has always been associated with recession....
The Center of the Universe
Credit check
Warren Mosler

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists — North Korea’s “not quite” ICBM can’t hit the lower 48 states

You can rest easy. The nuclear threat narrative was a hoax according to these scientists.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
North Korea’s “not quite” ICBM can’t hit the lower 48 states
Theodore A. Postol, professor of science, technology, and national security policy at MIT, and Markus Schiller, Robert Schmucker, engineers

Pat Lang — Large numbers of Syrians are returning home

Putting Assad's alleged Aleppo massacre aided by Russia to bed. It was disinformation.

Sic Semper Tyrannis
Large numbers of Syrians are returning home
Col. W. Patrick Lang, US Army (ret.), former military intelligence officer at the US Defense Intelligence Agency

Moon of Alabama — Hyping North Korea To Relaunch Reagan's Star Wars?

As usual Moon is critical.

Moon of Alabama
Hyping North Korea To Relaunch Reagan's Star Wars?

Thomas Goodrich: Hellstorm - The Death of Nazi Germany 1944 to 1947

Thomas Goodrich is an historian and very right wing, but he is complex, he's a tree-hugger, an animal rights activist, and a vegetarian. He has written a book called Hellstorm, The Death of Nazi Germany 1944 to 1947 and it is terrifying.

Paul Craig Roberts got me thinking about this again because he is reading David Irvin's book Nuremberg (1996), and like me, he is discovering that the world is not as it seems. I was your typical liberal and fully absorbed the narrative of WW2, yep, there was nothing was more evil than the Nazis. But I'm inquisitive and I started reading stuff, and then seeing stuff on the internet which startled me. Could the Allies have been as equally evil as the Nazis? As you all know from the stuff I put out here and what Tom Hickey puts out, my world view has been up-side-down and I don't feel safe anymore - the good guys are Dr No too.

Paul Craig Roberts is a complex guy as well, but we seem to have quite a lot in common. I sent him some Mercy for animals YouTube films and a few months later he posted a similar thing on his site. I sent him a link to the film Hellstorm yesterday which a number of other people sent too and he posted it on his site today. I told PCR that Hitler and his right wing regime was so evil that the liberals would not criticize Churchill for his war crimes, so this only leaves some sections of the right.

From PCR's site:

Not much of this documentary has to be true in order to reach the conclusion that what the Americans, British, and above all the Soviets did to Germans during the war and in the war’s final days and, worse, after the war, dwarfs in its inhumanity and illegality everything the Nazis did. More Germans died during the two years after the war than died in fighting the Americans and British during the war. Mass exterminations of Germans and systematic rape of German females as young as eight years old were going on during the Nuremberg trials. What happened to Germans fit the program for the genocide of Germany advocated by the Jewish US Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morganthau.

Now the thing is, as the atrocities are so bad I started to doubt if it was true too and so I did a search on Thomas Goodrich to see if he was considered to be a conspiracy theorist before posting anything here and I came upon a BBC documentary about what the allies did to the Germans after the WW2 - and so it is true.  I have posted a link to the BBC documentary below.

Hellstorm is made by Kyle Hunt who seems to be very right wing and so you have to hold your nose at the occasionally conspiracy stuff so typical of the of the some of the right. But forget about the way it is dramatized, just look at the content.

Also, I have posted an interview of Thomas Goodrich by Jim  Rizoli the two seem almost liberal. I'm going to write to Thomas Goodrich about his book.

In Hellstorm you will see how depraved and evil mankind can be, and apparently what the US did to North Korea was even worse. Thomas Goodrich wrote the book to inform people because he wanted to help make sure nothing like this ever happens again.


                                              Jim Kyle interviews Thomas Goodrich

                                                          The BBC Documentary

Bloomberg — U.S. Default? Unlikely, But Bond Traders Are Taking No Chances

While Republican leaders are confident their party can set aside its differences to resolve the latest debt-limit impasse before the clock runs out sometime between late September and mid-October, investors are shying away from Treasury bills earlier than they have in the past....
U.S. Default? Unlikely, But Bond Traders Are Taking No Chances
Brian Chappatta and Alex Harris

Jon Schwarz — We Can Stop North Korea From Attacking Us. All We Have to Do Is Not Attack Them.

North Korea is not going to launch a first strike on America or its allies with nuclear weapons.
To understand this, you don’t need to know anything about the history of U.S.-North Korea relations, or the throw weight of intercontinental ballistic missiles, or even where North Korea is. All you need to know is human history. And history says that small, poor, weak countries tend not to start wars with gigantic, wealthy, powerful countries — especially when doing so will obviously result in their obliteration.
So what exactly is the “crisis” involving North Korea?
The answer is simple: We’re not worried that we can’t deter North Korea. We’re worried because a North Korea that can plausibly strike the U.S. with nuclear weapons will likely be able to deter us from doing whatever we want. For example, we might not be able to invade North Korea.…
One lucid example can be found in “Rebuilding America’s Defenses,” a well-known paper by the Project for a New American Century. The U.S., it explained, “must counteract the effects of the proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction that may soon allow lesser states to deter U.S. military action. … In the post-Cold War era, America and its allies, rather than the Soviet Union, have become the primary objects of deterrence and it is states like Iraq, Iran and North Korea who most wish to develop deterrent capabilities.”... 
The Intercept

Tim Duy — Don't Add To The Fire

I have had plenty of criticisms of the Fed over the years. I am concerned that their model of inflation isn't working, and that their estimate of the natural rate of interest is too high. But that type of criticism is a far cry from describing the institution as the "deep state." We have seen time and time again that fomenting that kind of thought only leads to bloodshed....
Tim Duy's Fed Watch
Don't Add To The Fire
Tim Duy

Reporter and Press Freedom Advocate James Risen to Join The Intercept and First Look Media

James Risen, who, as a best-selling author and New York Times reporter, has broken some of the biggest stories of the post-9/11 period, is joining The Intercept as our senior national security correspondent, based in Washington, D.C. Risen will write a reported column on national security and other national issues, as well as help to lead The Intercept’s investigative reporting efforts.
Risen will have a unique dual leadership position at First Look Media, because in addition to his editorial role at The Intercept, he will also serve as director of the Press Freedom Defense Fund, which is dedicated to supporting news organizations, journalists, and whistleblowers in legal fights where a substantial public interest, freedom of the press, or related human or civil right is at stake. Recently, the Press Freedom Defense Fund announced its support for the legal defense of Reality Winner, who is accused of leaking a top-secret NSA document on Russian election hacking to The Intercept.
Risen was himself a target of the U.S. government’s crackdown on journalists and whistleblowers. He waged a seven-year battle, risking jail after the Bush administration and later the Obama administration sought to force him to testify and reveal his confidential sources in a leak investigation. Risen never gave in, and the government finally backed down.... 

Chris Dillow — The Social Mobility Lie

Class again. It affects everything.

Stumbling and Mumbling
Chris Dillow | Investors Chronicle

Cecchetti & Schoenholtz — Adverse Selection: A Primer

Information is the basis for our economic and financial decisions. As buyers, we collect information about products before entering into a transaction. As investors, the same goes for information about firms seeking our funds. This is information that sellers and fund-seeking firms typically have. But, when it is too difficult or too costly to collect information, markets function poorly or not at all.
This form of asymmetric information―where two parties to a potential transaction have unequal knowledge―is a particularly serious hindrance to the operation of financial markets. If, for some reason, conditions suddenly make the information asymmetry worse, the consequences can be catastrophic. In a recent post, we described how in August 2007, a sequence of events led financial intermediaries to suddenly question the quality of some securities that many of their counterparties already owned. Not being able to tell safe from unsafe, investors and institutions withdrew from lending. As credit evaporated, many potential transactions stopped taking place all at once.
Economists use the term adverse selection to describe the problem of distinguishing a good feature from a bad feature when one party to a transaction has more information than the other party. The degree of adverse selection depends on how costly it is for the uninformed actor to observe the hidden attributes of a product or counterparty. When key characteristics are sufficiently expensive to discern, adverse selection can make an otherwise healthy market disappear.
The term “adverse selection” comes from the fact that, when the hidden attributes are costly to observe, the quality of the products on offer or of the potential parties to a transaction deteriorates; that is, the pool becomes adverse relative to the full universe of goods (or counterparties) available.
In this primer, we examine three examples of adverse selection: (1) used cars; (2) health insurance; and (3) private finance. We use these examples to highlight mechanisms for addressing the problem....
Money and Banking
Adverse Selection: A Primer
Money and Banking
Stephen G. Cecchetti, Professor of International Economics at the Brandeis International Business School, and Kermit L. Schoenholtz, Professor of Management Practice in the Department of Economics of New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business

Cecchetti & Schoenholtz are the authors of Money, Banking and Financial Markets.

ProMarket — The Rise of Market Power and the Decline of Labor’s Share

The two standard explanations for why labor’s share of output has fallen by 10 percent over the past 30 years are globalization (American workers are losing out to their counterparts in places like China and India) and automation (American workers are losing out to robots). Last year, however, a highly-cited Stigler Center paper by Simcha Barkai offered another explanation: an increase in markups. The capital share of GDP, which includes what companies spend on equipment like robots, is also declining, he found. What has gone up, significantly, is the profit share, with profits rising more than sixfold: from 2.2 percent of GDP in 1984 to 15.7 percent in 2014. This, Barkai argued, is the result of higher markups, with the trend being more pronounced in industries that experienced large increases in concentration.

A new paper by Jan De Loecker (of KU Leuven and Princeton University) and Jan Eeckhout (of the Barcelona Graduate School of Economics UPF and University College London) echoes these results, arguing that the decline of both the labor and capital shares, as well as the decline in low-skilled wages and other economic trends, have been aided by a significant increase in markups and market power....
ProMarket — The blog of the Stigler Center at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business
The Rise of Market Power and the Decline of Labor’s Share
Asher Schechter

Ramanan — Alex Izurieta On UN Global Policy Model

Policy models and their implications — not just economic.

The Case for Concerted Action
Alex Izurieta On UN Global Policy Model
V. Ramanan

Sandwichman on the Higgins Memo

Now that the US Civil War 2.0 has broken out in violence, it is good to be aware of this. The background is given in the links Sandwichman provides at the beginning of the first post. The AltRight is livid that Gen. McMaster is cleaning house, and it seems that Gen. Kelley is too, having sidelined Steve Bannon.

The Higgins Memo, Anders Breivik and the Lyndon LaRouche Cult

The “Narratives” of Higgins’s “Warfare”

The full text of the memo that Sandwichman links to at FP is behind a pay wall. The full text is not widely available. Here is a link to the full text of the Higgins Memo that Mike Cernovich obtained.

Here is a link to Kenneth Burke's "The Rhetoric of Hitler's 'Battle'." Note: "Hitler's Battle" signifies Mein Kampf, which Burke is critiquing.

See also

Angry Bear
In light of Charlottesville, I noticed…
Dan Crawford

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Zero Hedge — Japan GDP Surges 4%, Most In Two Years, On Jump In Government Stimulus Spending

The unexpectedly strong GDP print was driven by a 9.9% jump in private non-residential investment as well as an striking 21.9% annualized surge in public investment as some of the public works spending included in last year’s economic stimulus package starting to emerge; meanwhile exports declined....
Zero Hedge
Japan GDP Surges 4%, Most In Two Years, On Jump In Government Stimulus Spending
Tyler Durden

Adam Garrie — Julian Assange asks why the US said nothing when Obama supported Ukrainian neo-Nazis

In the above Tweet, Assange has juxtaposed a neo-Nazi torch march in Kiev with the far-right torch march in Charlottesville. Apart from the torches, it is clear that the Ukrainian fascists were far more equipped for violence as they were wearing bullet-proof combat gear and facial coverings.
The Duran
Julian Assange asks why the US said nothing when Obama supported Ukrainian neo-Nazis
Adam Garrie

Bill Mitchell — Jacques Delors – a failed leader not a champion of a prosperous Europe

It is amazing how history is revised when it is convenient. It is also amazing how the same events, that from my perspective are rather clear, can be diametrically interpreted by others, who want to run a different agenda. A good example of these phenomena can be found in a recent UK Guardian article (August 11, 2017) – Jacques Delors foresaw the perils of austerity. How we need his wisdom now. When I saw the headline I thought it must have been an article seeking to elicit some sort of deep irony. Jacques Delors – perils of austerity – wisdom – all in the same title. Ridiculous. Through the lens I view the work of Jacques Delors I can only see the abandonment of a progressive social vision, the unnecessary surrender to neoliberalism, and then, a bit later, as an inevitable consequence of these shifts – the disastrous and dysfunctional creation of the Eurozone with all its embedded and destructive austerity biases. The unfortunate fact is that the UK Guardian article was deadly serious. Oh dear!
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
Jacques Delors – a failed leader not a champion of a prosperous Europe
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

John Quiggin — What’s left of libertarianism?

Cato Institute vs Niskanen Center Libertarianism.

John Quiggin's Blog
What’s left of libertarianism?
John Quiggin | Professor and an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow at the University of Queensland, and a member of the Board of the Climate Change Authority of the Australian Government

Robert C. Hockett & Saule T. Omarova — The Finance Franchise

The dominant view of banks and other financial institutions is that they function primarily as intermediaries, managing flows of scarce funds from those who have accumulated them to those who have need of them and can pay for their use. This understanding pervades textbooks, scholarly writings, and policy discussions – yet it is fundamentally false as a description of how a modern financial system works. Finance today is no more primarily “intermediated” than it is pre-accumulated or scarce.
This Article challenges the outdated narrative of finance as intermediated scarce private capital and maps the basic structure and dynamics of the financial system as it actually operates. We begin by developing a three-part taxonomy of ways to model financial flows – what we call the “credit-intermediation,” “credit-multiplication,” and “credit-generation” models of finance. We show that only the last model captures the core dynamic of a complex modern financial system, and that the ultimate source of credit-generation in any such system is the sovereign public, acting primarily through its central bank and treasury. We then trace the operation of this dynamic throughout the financial system, from the banking sector, through the capital and “shadow banking” markets, all the way out to the “disruptive” frontier of peer-to-peer digital finance.
What emerges from this retracing of the financial system’s operative logic is a comprehensive view of modern finance as a public-private franchise arrangement. On this view, the sovereign public acts effectively as franchisor, licensing private financial institutions to earn rents as franchisees in dispensing a vital public resource: the public’s monetized full faith and credit. We conclude the Article by drawing out some of the potentially transformative analytic and normative implications of a paradigmatic shift from the orthodox theory of financial intermediation to the franchise view of finance.
To read the complete article, click “VIEW PDF” below.
Cornell Law Review
The Finance Franchise
Robert C. Hockett & Saule T. Omarova

Ed Walker — The Dialectical Imagination by Martin Jay: Economics in Critical Theory

In The Dialectical Imagination, Martin Jay says that economics was not a central part of Critical Theory, but that several scholars of the Frankfurt School worked in the area. One of the leading economists was Friedrich Pollock, especially after the Institute moved to New York. Like the other scholars of the Institute for Social Research, Pollock was trained in Marxist economics. This school mosttly followed Marx in thinking that capitalism would collapse under the weight of its own contradictions. One of those contradictions was that the aggressive accumulation of capital would impoverish the working class, which would then rise up and lead the revolution. 
By the early 1900s, it was obvious that the problem of pauperization of the proletariat was at least partially solved, and capitalism didn’t collapse. The leading Marxist explanation was the rise of what Marxists call “monopoly capitalism”, as taught by the Austrian economist Rudolf Hilferding, discussed here. Classical economics treated the economy as made up of many firms (or, as Marx called them, capitals) each too small to affect prices, and all responding to the demands of buyers....