Volatility

January 3, 2018

The US Voter Says to Earth, Happy New Year

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Donald Trump says to North Korea, “my button is bigger than yours”. This is just the latest and most extreme example of how Trump is nothing more or less than the logical consummation of the last fifty years of US government policy and US electoralism. I’d call him the most typical US president of all. Starting where you wish, let’s say Jimmy Carter, name a single president for whom a US-provoked nuclear standoff, and likely nuclear war, wasn’t portended by the entire thrust of his foreign and especially economic policy (corporate globalization, i.e. flat-out aggressive war by economic means). The Clintons and Obama never once said anything other than my button, my bombs, my guns, my dollars, are bigger than yours.
 
As I wrote before, all US voters voted for Trump. And today there’s consensus among all Republicans and Democrats that they want nuclear war. The only difference is whether they want it with North Korea or Russia or both. But they all want nuclear war. They lust for it. They lust for the total death of all that’s human and earthly. That, to say again, is the logic implicit in the entire thrust of all they’ve sought for decades now with their votes and with every other political action. Today the entire thrust of the US electoral system, which votes unanimously every election for total global war, is reaching its logical consummation.
 
Humanity, if it survives this crisis, must never forget this and never forgive it.
 
If there are any fellow mammals out there, better find cover, preferably in groups, while the dinosaurs cheer on the asteroid they’ve long prayed for.
 
 
 
 
 
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August 29, 2017

Who Are the Purists?

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It is clear that the world’s most fanatical purists are the ideologues of neoliberal corporate globalization. It’s clear that no amount of evidence, no amount of disproof and failure, will ever convince them even to question their totalitarian impulse, their deranged commitment to enforcing the most pure, extreme pro-corporate outcome in each and every situation. Purism never has been more distilled than this.
 
Among these extremists of purism, none is more fanatical and inveterate than the Democrat Party and its cult followers. In the face of the total failure of their entire paradigm they are paragons of purist defiance. They have doubled down, tripled down, have made it crystal clear that no aspect of reality will ever force them to compromise even one jot of their infinite pro-corporate purity. Never in all of history has it been more accurate to say of a group that they have learned nothing and forgotten nothing. This is the ultimate measure of anti-reality purism.
 
Let’s survey just some of these campaigns of corporate puritanism:
 
*The purists insist that no amount of proven failure and criminality on the part of the finance sector should ever cost Wall Street one cent, nor should the taxpayers ever be absolved of having to bail out this sector, nor should its power and prerogative and dominion ever be diminished the slightest jot. On the contrary, the theocracy of finance should become ever more total in its domination over every human interaction This pro-finance purism is the most extreme purism possible.
 
*The purists will not tolerate the slightest infringement of the prerogative of the private health insurance racket or Big Drug. Although single payer is guaranteed to deliver vastly better health care at vastly less cost to society, and although society pays for all drug research and development, the purist extremists fight single payer and even the most modest constrictions on the Pharma racket with a medieval fervor. Hillary Clinton and her cultists expressed their extreme purist hatred for all rationality and morality in health care even at the cost of the election. This is an extreme metric of purism, where the pro-racket ideal is more important than winning.
 
*The purists insist that society must subsidize corporate industrial agriculture no matter how inefficient and destructive it is, no matter how deficient in quantity and quality of food production, no matter how unsustainable it is known to be, no matter how guaranteed to collapse and bring pandemic famine, no matter how its CAFOs are guaranteed to generate lethal pandemics caused by antibiotic resistant pathogens, no matter how much of a loss to society the operation of agribusiness has always caused.
 
*The purists will never be satisfied until all jobs which can support any kind of tolerable human existence are wiped out. They will never be satisfied until all human communities are gutted.
 
*The purists will never tolerate the existence of any ecosystem which has not been violated to the point of collapse. They will accept nothing short of the complete destruction of Earth’s capacity to sustain life. They intend to colonize other planets, which their purity drive would then also insist on destroying.
 
*The purists will never tolerate any constraint upon the imperial wars of the US government. Their purity will never countenance any limit upon the ramification of the US empire.
 
*The purists regard as anathema even the thought of any limit to corporate globalization, or the very idea that literally anything should be allowed to exist in any way other than as a corporate resource mine or waste dump.
 
*In their infinite purism these creatures are the fundamentalist theocrats of Mammon. Mammon is the totalitarian religion which would reduce all of human existence, literally all human interaction, to money exchanges. Specifically, these fundamentalists want to reduce all of human existence to eternally being forced through a corporate toll booth. This is the theocracy they have been building, and they have been substantially successful for the moment.
 
These most extreme purists of history have no thought and no action other than to continue to escalate the building of this Mammon theocracy, and to ensure that it will be the totalitarian coffin of all human aspiration and hope, for all of eternity. That’s why they’re also purists of eugenics, artificial intelligence, and the fantasy of nuclear war. These extremes of purity in action promise to “purify”, to cleanse and scour and disinfect, everything of humanity and life itself which is in any way diverse or complex or uncontrolled beyond the ken of the purists’ technocratic nightmare of total sterility and control.
 
Humanity and the Earth must fight to help impose reality upon this most impure of all “purism”, this literal cancer of the spirit and body, this infinite purism of evil and destructiveness.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

August 20, 2017

Odd and the End

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The Corporate One-Party

 
 
*Example of a “historic climate victory”, according to Big Oil, the mainstream media, and US mainstream politics. Of course this is just one facet of the general corporate climate scam. The Paris Accord and its forerunners are broader scams.
 
For the handful who truly care about the climate crisis, there’s one and only one solution, both for mitigation and adaptation: Tremendously reduce GHG emissions, stop destroying carbon sinks, and rebuild sinks on a massive scale. Anything short of this is a lie.
 
*As for those liars, this is correct about Trudeau, and Australia’s Turnbull. Now let’s hear McKibben be honest about the exact same genre in the US, epitomized by Obama and Clinton. Such crocodile-tear climate criminals are vastly more pernicious and spiritually odious than the de jure Trump type.
 
*Amid its general shilling for corporate globalization, the corporate media especially loves CAFOs.
 
(To be fair, almost all Westerners love this Auschwitz-type system, including and especially the hypocrites who cry crocodile tears about animal welfare, climate change, and the environment.)
 
*Here’s some good books on what’s necessary. Regarding the fact that humans naturally are far more cooperative than competitive, I’ll add that one need only look at at how, even though in this society children are so intensively indoctrinated into the competition ideology, the system still requires such a massive, unrelenting campaign of propaganda, inducements, threats, and violence in order to get significant numbers of people to act in even a semi-competitive way. That right there proves what our truly natural cooperative tendencies are, and how readily we revert to them as soon as the artificial pressure lets up even a little. This Sodom and Gomorrah can’t keep it up much longer.
 
*This is true, and exactly parallel in every detail to GMO/pesticides and corporate industrial agriculture as such.
 
*According to the ideology of the car, Suburbs = Cities.
 
The ideology of the car is a malignancy which crosses all fake partisan lines and reveals the system’s “politics” to be an Earth-destroying, climate change-denying monolith. So there’s one litmus test which defines the real line: Is one for or against the model of “civilization” based on the barbarism of the personal car. Squabbles within the car paradigm, on the other hand, are nothing but fake politics.
 
*Here’s an important report from 2016 on how courtroom junk science stacks the deck in favor of bogus prosecutions. Just one of the many ways scientism is poisoning civilization.
 
*As always in the corporate media, corporate elite interests are represented as the only legitimate interests that exist. Therefore the only legitimate controversies, besides partisan political squabbling within the Corporate One-Party, are where oligopolists are at odds. As Chomsky wrote, when the New York Times says “the people” it means big corporations and the rich, and when it says “special interests” it means the people and the environment.
 
*Like this:
 
MacNeil: Thank you, Mr. Ginn and Jim. The secretary of the Committee for Regulatory Reform in Slavery is Eric Halfmeasure. Mr. Halfmeasure, give us the other side of the story.
 
Halfmeasure: Robin, I would like to make one thing perfectly clear. We are wholeheartedly in favor of slavery. We just see abuses that diminish productivity and reduce incentives for free men and women to compete in the marketplace. Lynching, tarring and feathering, rape, lack of holidays, and that sort of thing. One recent study suggests that regulation could raise productivity by 15 percent.
 
If only that really were a joke, but that’s a sober depiction of exactly how almost all mainstream media “debate” is done.
 
*Google’s part in the corporate media’s assault on reality-based journalism. Trump and the liberals, on behalf of their identical corporate masters, are in full collaboration against the people and the Earth.
 
*The New York Times continues to set the standard for fake news.
 
Speaking of that, and for those who have been shrieking idiotically about the fiction of Russian meddling in their phony election*: You mean like what your government, led by your Hillary Clinton, did in Honduras? You mean like what you did in Ukraine? (And where US liberals and the mainstream media are allied with a truly powerful neo-Nazi movement, no less.) You mean like what you’re doing right now to Venezuela, and your long, long record of manipulating elections and overthrowing governments all over the world? Fact is, no government on earth has remotely the record of such crimes as your US government, and the way your ilk now howls like a stuck pig over this (completely fabricated) allegation of foreign manipulation of one of YOUR phony elections is really rich. But then no one howls worse at getting a taste of their own medicine than fat, privileged, hypocritical, cowardly thugs like you.
 
[*Even if furriners did interfere in your kangaroo election, what difference would that make? It couldn’t make it any less fraudulent, since you’re already running a one-party system heavily rigged to keep any potential alternative off the ballot. Even your own con man Bernie Sanders was too much for you, precisely because he would’ve beaten Trump, who you all really wanted, as proven by your actions. That’s why the Democrat primary had to be specially rigged to steal the candidacy for Clinton.]
 
*Continuing with MSM abetting of fascism, here’s a good survey of the corporate media’s anti-democracy agenda which it deploys in the service of corporate technocracy and kleptocracy. One thing this leaves out is that the real affinity is between “mainstream” capitalism and the neo-Nazis. The historical record proves that the capitalist establishment, including liberals (i.e., pro-capitalist technocrats), publicize and empower fascism in proportion to how threatened by the exploited people this establishment feels.
 
Their entire system is based most fundamentally on war. War purely for its own sake, prior even to any power goal. This is proven by the fact that there is no politics left in mainstream US ideology. There’s nothing but partisan celebrity worship. Substantively, there is zero difference between the Democrat and Republican shades of the Corporate One-Party. Substantively, there is no difference between Trump and Clinton/Bush/Obama. On the contrary, Trump seamlessly continues along that exact vector.
 
*Good piece on the WWIII-mongers and fracking shills (the proximate profiteering purpose of the sanctions bill is to try to coerce Europe into dependency upon US fracked LNG). We see the most vile dregs among Democrats and Republicans coming together in their determination to utterly destroy humanity and the Earth.
 
*The liberal/neocon WWIII-mongers want nothing less than the complete destruction of human life itself. The most vile part is how it’s in the service of nothing but pure hypocrisy.
 
*How does one “bypass the Democrat party”? Exalt a con artist whose entire record has been to serve as a sheepdog for the Democrat Party! And of course these organizers also are such sheepdogs.
 
But seriously, any such notion to organize an honest-and-for-true-this-time progressive party is putting the party horse before the movement cart. History proves that once an electoral system is in the stranglehold of a de facto one-party system (this usually takes the form of a “two-party” scam), any attempt to cobble together a “third party” without first having built a solid, coherent cultural movement foundation, and then extruding the political party from this movement, is doomed to collapse or co-optation. Just look at what happened to the People’s Party, prematurely built on the culturally unripe foundation of the Populist movement in the 1890s. The movement felt forced into premature electoralism because only attainment of power could enable them to enact the subtreasury plan, which was necessary to rescue the Farmers’ Alliance co-op system which was being strangled economically by a total credit embargo on the part of the system banks. (We who are building the Community Food sector and Food Sovereignty have an advantage over the cotton farmers of Populism, in that as commodity farmers they remained dependent on the commodity system in a way we, who grow food for human beings, are not.) The new party was co-opted by the Democrats (the Democrat Party has been dedicated to destroying democracy for much longer than a hundred years now) and then pathetically died. The same is guaranteed to happen to any half-assed attempt to build a new party today, without first putting in the necessary hard work of building a true anti-system movement.
 
 
 
 
 

November 13, 2016

Whose Pipeline

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Letter to all the people exercised about the Dakota Access Pipeline and cheering on the fighters, but who also support the Democrat Party and are even asking questions like, “Where is Obama on this?” (And of course those who voted for Clinton.*) :
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Those are Obama’s cops, in case you were too clueless to notice.
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Of course energy projects of this scale require all kinds of federal regulatory approval. And it is, of course, impossible for a significant energy project to exist without massive federal subsidies. So in both ways, it’s impossible for such a project to exist against the will of the president. On the contrary, it requires lots of action from the executive branch to make anything happen at all. All that corporate welfare doesn’t hand itself out, and all those federal thugs and federally subsidized and equipped thugs don’t outfit and deploy themselves. You do know, right, that there’s barely a cop in America who isn’t dependent upon the federal gravy train. Certainly not the kind of cop the corporations deploy against the faithfully active people at a place like this.
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But then, we know that almost everyone engaged in social media meta-“activism” on the occasion of the pipeline fight, which basically means circulating memes and clicking on the “Angry” button, really supports Big Oil and voted for it this last circus as they’ve voted for it every previous circus. After all, progressive opinions are fine to have, but those personal cars won’t fuel themselves.
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Of course I’m not talking about those who understand and fight on the basis that the fossil fuel system is unsustainable, destructive, and evil, and are struggling to bring to light the need to break free of it while we can. But I imagine they’re not doing much better than I am with poison-based agriculture, including having to face the impenetrable bubble of idiocy within which the president idolators vegetate. In the case of pesticides it’s the FDA-worshippers who comprise the plague, with fossil fuel extraction they fetishize the Department of Energy.
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(For those who care about “property rights”, the entire project is also a perfect example of how there’s no such thing as property rights in America, but only the right of the stronger as this private corporate project had its physical way cleared through eminent domain. Governments of course provided administration and thug services.)
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I wrote this post, like some other recent ones, thinking about the fact that a president has almost unlimited latitude to do whatever it wants. I want to drive off the earth with a whip any of the liars who claim the president doesn’t have complete control of the executive branch (which includes every kind of triage where it comes to enforcing/respecting laws and court decisions) where it comes to anything the president really cares about. Just one of the many reasons I have infinite loathing for corporate liberals, that they base their existence on this lie.
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*Bernie Sanders also supports the pipeline. I just went to his website to see if he’d changed his position at all, and found that although “the revolution continues” and will accept money, the site no longer has any content. Kind of self-contradictory, wouldn’t you say? Of course anyone who knows the slightest bit about politics could peg Sanders as a fraud from day one, precisely because he wasn’t building any kind of outside-the-system movement. If I was wrong about that, wouldn’t today be the day for Bernie to be proving me wrong? Wouldn’t the aftermath of this election be the time for a true movement to go into hyperdrive, capitalizing on the evident failure of status quo liberalism? Any Bernistas out there who can explain?
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And forget the Green Party. Their vapid “issues” page gives zero details on what it means for Jill Stein to “Oppose” something, obviously by design. Would she halt all illegal pipelines and cease all the necessary subsidies for “legal” ones? (And for that matter halt the “legal” ones too?) Or to put that in a more vague, politician-friendly way, does she at least promise that one way or another these projects will cease to exist? Obviously not.
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Nor do I see any movement call there.
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The fact is that my despised and rejected blog, with almost no hits and zero commenters, nevertheless represents more of a movement and revolution than all these frauds put together.
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November 9, 2016

Kangaroos

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As always, I voted No in yesterday’s plebiscite, as I vote against corporate rule every day of my life. That’s part of my whole way of life, my life of faith-in-action.
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But, if I’d been forced at gunpoint to vote Yes in the plebiscite, this is the outcome I would’ve picked. It’s the “lesser evil”, to use the favored formula of the wingnuts.
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Here’s the speculative reasons why the idiot Trump is a better outcome than the idiot Clinton:
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1. With any luck we’ll get the most extreme strife and mutual reviling among the Clinton wingnuts, the Sanders wingnuts, and the Stein wingnuts that at least some of them will wake up to the fact that the entire electoral concept is rotten to the core and that the whole thing needs to be blown up completely.
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I stress, maybe some of them will wake up, though I have very low expectations of any of those three sects.
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2. If the previous pattern holds, a Republican administration will bring out more active resistance and protest against the imperial war and other corporate aggressions. As we saw during the Bush years, there were many who opposed the war and corporate assaults on the environment, not because they really oppose those as such – when it became Obama’s war and Obama’s assaults, these persons then supported those crimes – but because they oppose them when it’s Republicans doing them.
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So now that it’ll be Trump’s war, Trump’s pipeline, Trump’s Monsanto rather than Obama/Clinton’s war, Obama/Clinton’s pipeline, Obama/Clinton’s Monsanto, maybe more bodies will get out there to oppose in some way.
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I say this not because I think it’ll directly have a great effect to get such an influx of such worthless hypocrites, but because just the fact of there being far more people out there doing something, with greater volume than before, may help encourage more conversions to the real anti-corporate philosophy and action.
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But as I said, this is speculative, and any such action dividend will depend on the ability of real abolitionists, real revolutionaries, real prophets, to force the true word home among this resistance.
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Of course the corporate media and the Clinton wingnuts will do all they can to propagate the exact opposite of this, that the reason Clinton lost is that she wasn’t right wing enough. I don’t see how it’s possible to be further to the right than Clinton – the only difference between her and Trump is communication style, not ideology or policy – but that’s what Democrat establishment criminals and cultists always do.
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Most of all, the absolutely necessary prerequisite for anything to change in this world, is that the Democrat Party, the single most malign and vile obstacle to change, must be completely blown up and destroyed. So anything which escalates and intensifies the hostility and conflict among those who support the Party, especially those who fantasize moronically about “redeeming” it in some way, is a pure good. That’s why if I had to choose an outcome, this is the one I would have chosen.
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June 4, 2010

Kagan and the Corporate Court (2 of 2)

 

In part 1 of my post on the impending installation of Elena Kagan on the supreme court, I discussed how in The Federalist #78 Alexander Hamilton defended the lifetime tenure “during good behavior” for federal judges on the ground that he expected the courts, more than the other two branches, to come reasonably close to working purely in the public interest.
 
Hamilton’s conception was premised on the courts and especially the “supreme” court maintaining it independence of the executive and of other forces in the polity. As we know, by now the SCOTUS has been corrupted by corporatism and is a rogue institution. As I briefly discussed in part 1, this isn’t a new development which could be viewed as an aberration or the result of Bush extremism. On the contrary, the corporate struggle in the courts goes back to the 19th century, and the definitive victory march commenced in the 1970s. The process was only stepped up under Bush, the broad acceptance of the imperial presidency, and now Obama’s embrace of all Bush concepts. The Citizens United decision was more of a formal consummation than a practical change.
 
(We can say that Obama’s embrace thus formally embraces all Bush/Cheneyism as not extreme or aberrational but as within the mainstream of today’s polity. So if Bush policies were anti-constitutional, and they all were, then it follows that the polity as such is anti-constitutional. The system is a parasitic kleptocracy and is not sovereign. This goes for both kleptocratic parties and most existing pressure groups, which are really corporate astroturfs. I’ll discuss this further in an upcoming post.)
 
Obama’s alleged opposition to that decision is belied by his consistently pro-corporate actions. So it’s an accident at best, and more likely a cheap political lie. And there’s no reason to believe that Kagan on the court would’ve voted differently. Indeed, the ineptitude of her argument as solicitor general may have stemmed from her lack of enthusiasm for the position she had to argue.
 
Obama’s record as a corporatist and fanatic regarding executive power is bad, and we have to bet that he intends for Kagan on the court to be pro-corporate and pro-imperial presidency. That brings us to Kagan’s record, such as it is, on civil liberties and the “unitary executive”.
 
Just as on everything else, Kagan’s record here is remarkably barren, given the limitless opportunities she’s had to speak out on anything she wishes. (By contrast, I’m an obscure blogger with few opportunities, yet I’ve already left a record vastly more copious than that of this considerably older elite legal cadre.)
 
We see that at her core she’s a sociopathic careerist, as I discussed in the first post.
 
However, we can piece together a skeletal record. The most important structural point is that Kagan affirms the Bush/Cheney policy frame for the “war on terror”, i.e. permanent war and a society which is always supposed to feel it is “at war” and conform accordingly to whatever the power structure commands. This war is of course a complete fraud, but one of the hallmarks of a kleptocratic, and therefore anti-constitutional, cadre is her support for the Global War on Terror and shilling for the general Permanent War social frame, a Big Lie. (Another hallmark is continued support for the Bailout and telling the Big Lie that the Bailout was “necessary” and accomplished necessary and worthwhile aims. I’ll get to this too in an upcoming post.)
 
Kagan has also, as solicitor general, happily argued Obama’s anti-American positions on detainees (here she seemed more comfortable than in the CU case). Her “progressive” defenders claim that as a DoJ cadre it’s her job to argue Obama’s position, and that doesn’t necessarily mean she agrees with it or will decide that way once on the court.
 
(Notice any logical flaws in that argument? Even leaving aside the question of why Obama would’ve wanted a solicitor general who didn’t agree with his positions, we can certainly assume he wouldn’t want to put anyone on the supreme court who isn’t in full accord with him on the things most important to him.
 
As for the CU case, as I said I think Obama’s political dissent is just for political show, and that it’s not an accident that the administration’s, i.e. Kagan’s, argument was haphazard.
 
Also, aren’t all these liberals who say Kagan secretly disagrees with Obama on civil liberties and presidential arrogation the same ones who moronically say Obama himself really doesn’t agree with all the things he somehow keeps doing? Oh well, I’ll leave it to others to further plumb the cesspool of the corporate liberal mindset.)
 
At any rate, even if Kagan isn’t truly an anti-freedom ideologue but just a sociopathic careerist, how is that any better? Her partisans themselves are saying she’s the kind of person who’s content to “follow orders” and “do her job” even where it comes to assaulting civil liberties; that’s vile. Civil liberties like habeas corpus are too much core American values to be subject to the vagaries of careerism. By definition if you can be so cavalier about something like this, you either don’t care about American values or hold them in contempt.
 
Not that anyone will ask the still-too-few vigilant people of America, but do we want someone on the court who holds these values in contempt? Or is it that the SCOTUS already holds them in contempt, and Kagan will reinforce this?
 
One thing which looks clear enough from the record is that Kagan exalts the imperial presidency. As early as the Clinton administration she argued for broad discretionary executive authority. (We should recall that although Bush escalated the use of “signing statements”, it was Clinton’s DoJ which formalized the concept.) Then throughout the Bush years of ever more extreme assertions of the authority of the president to not only freely interpret the law (which assertions Kagan already explicitly agreed with) but to disregard it altogether, Kagan remained in her sociopathic careerist silence mode. From a cadre at her level, who had spoken out on the issue previously, we can take that as implicit consent.
 
And of course since becoming Obama’s head litigator she’s aggressively argued on behalf of Obama’s aggressive continuation of the entire Bush/Cheney imperial-presidency agenda.
 
This leads us back to Hamilton and his Federalist #78. Hamilton thought the judiciary would be the “least dangerous” branch because it was the least powerful. (The executive enforced the laws and commanded the armies, the legislature wrote the laws and had the power of the purse.)
 

It may truly be said to have neither FORCE nor WILL, but merely judgment; and must ultimately depend upon the aid of the executive arm even for the efficacy of its judgments.

 
Hamilton believed the best safeguard against the courts becoming tyrannical on their own was the simple fact that the judiciary was reliant upon the executive to enforce its judgements, and therefore wouldn’t be able to run too far rogue. The courts would either reflect the agenda of the executive or at any rate couldn’t be completely antithetical to the executive. Of course, this assumes the executive itself hasn’t become a kleptocratic rogue, and that the court isn’t simply following the lead of this rogue executive.
 
In fact, the pro-corporate, imperialistic agenda of the last several administrations adds up to decades of subversion of the constitution and betrayal of the public interest. Obama’s own corporatist, imperialist pretensions are just the latest, terminal escalation of the historical trend. We now have a full-fledged, entrenched kleptocracy. It has abdicated sovereignty.
 
Although judicial review isn’t an issue we’re discussing here, Hamilton’s discussion of it leads to some observations on sovereignty which are highly relevant to us.
 
In an extended discussion Hamilton derives the authority for judicial review from the constitutional facts that the legislature is representative of the people while the written Constitution, embodying the will of the people, is superior to the legislature and its written laws. So for the polity to have any integrity, it follows that some authority has to be the arbiter where the legislature is alleged to have run rogue of the Constitution and the people.
 

A constitution is, in fact, and must be regarded by the judges, as a fundamental law. It therefore belongs to them to ascertain its meaning, as well as the meaning of any particular act proceeding from the legislative body. If there should happen to be an irreconcilable variance between the two, that which has the superior obligation and validity ought, of course, to be preferred; or, in other words, the Constitution ought to be preferred to the statute, the intention of the people to the intention of their agents.

 
I add to this that the sovereignty of the people, also known as the constitution, is always implicitly superior to the written Constitution as interpreted by the courts if the courts themselves have run rogue. (It’s the same logic as Hamilton gives for enshrined judicial review.)
 
So we have the implicit order of rank. The people/sovereignty/constitution is prior to the written Constitution, which is prior to the legislature and the written laws, and the courts are to arbitrate between the Constitution and the legislature, while the people’s constitution is also prior to the courts themselves.
 
I’ve written at length on the corporate hijacking of the law, from the way it’s written in the corrupt legislature to the way it’s enforced by the corrupt executive to the way it’s adjudicated in the corrupt courts (indeed, how access to the courts themselves is increasingly rationed by wealth).
 
Since we’re talking about the law and the courts, I’ll just give a few links which focus on that aspect. I hope with these and other pieces I’ve done a passable job of making my case that this a rogue system.
 
The corporatist subversion of law, smuggling in the fraudulent anti-constitutional concept of “corporate personhood”;
 
Access to the law: Parts one, two, and three.
 
 
On the supreme court itself as a rogue, with special reference to the Citizens United case: Judicial Activism and Judicial Abdication.
 
 
 
Hamilton says the supreme court can never endanger liberty “so long as the judiciary remains truly distinct from both the executive and the legislature.” The condition of it losing this distinction has been met. It turns out that Hamilton’s confidence in the institution of permanency in office for federal judges only worked partially well at its best, and has by now ceased working.
 
Today the supreme court (like the Senate) is among the most discredited institutions. By now permanency in office is a detriment to liberty. The court best represents the inertia of the status quo (which is why it’s lagged behind the Reagan revolution in the other two branches). Much as the Senate is more structurally conservative (i.e. beholden to the status quo inertia) than the House, so the courts are the most conservative – how difficult it is to be placed, the slow rate of turnover, the permanent tenure.
 
So now that the SCOTUS has become a tool of corporatism, it will remain most intractably such a tool for the longest tenure, if left to itself. Therefore we should clearly recognize and teach its illegitimacy and the unlikelihood that any hope for change can be fulfilled through the courts. From here on the best we might get from the corporate courts are increasingly infrequent pro-public accidents.
 
So that’s the answer to the questions I asked above about the SCOTUS. It no longer embodies the constitution nor is it a faithful arbiter of the Constitution. It no longer lives up to the principles Hamilton laid out. Since Obama is a hardened corporatist, and since Kagan’s record is clear on the fact that she’s either a sociopathic careerist or a corporate ideologue herself, we can be sure that she’ll act to further carry the court along the logic of the kleptocratic status quo. That’s definitely Obama’s intention for her.
 
Of course there’s nothing freedom activists can do about this for now. Kleptocracy will traverse the suicidal path of its logic for as long as it can muster the power to do so.
 
All we can do for now is realize the fact that the supreme court is irremediably corrupt, that it’s hopeless to expect anything good from the courts in general, that the court has zero authority but only the power still invested in it by the kleptocracy. It’s not a part of the people’s sovereignty.
 
We must recognize this and where possible be teachers of it. Since the nomination of a new member to the supreme court is always a “teachable moment” regarding the judiciary, I wrote these posts. 

November 9, 2009

Bank Roundup 11/9

1. The week’s most important story was every week’s most important story, the jobs front. The new federal report was devastating:
 

With the release of the jobs report on Friday, the broadest measure of unemployment and underemployment tracked by the Labor Department has reached its highest level in decades. If statistics went back so far, the measure would almost certainly be at its highest level since the Great Depression.

In all, more than one out of every six workers — 17.5 percent — were unemployed or underemployed in October. The previous recorded high was 17.1 percent, in December 1982.

This includes the officially unemployed, who have looked for work in the last four weeks. It also includes discouraged workers, who have looked in the past year, as well as millions of part-time workers who want to be working full time.

The official jobless rate — 10.2 percent in October, up from 9.8 percent in September — remains lower than the early 1980s peak of 10.8 percent.

 
The failure of the banks and the bailouts is manifest, absolute. No one’s even trying to argue that things could be worse if we hadn’t wasted all our resources, shot our last bolt, to bail out a handful of high-rolling gamblers instead of using that money for direct stimulus at the pyramid’s base, Main Street.
 
We don’t need the big banks. We never did. We didn’t need to bail them out. We’d be vastly better off if we hadn’t. 
 
Think of what $24 trillion worth of direct investment in America could have accomplished, instead of throwing it away to prop up the insolvent rackets. No greater crime has ever been committed in American history.
 
Meanwhile, in Europe they’re coming to realize that we don’t “need” these big bank structures for anything. RBS, Lloyd’s, and Northern Rock are all being forced to divest chunks of themselves as the price of their bailouts.
 
It’s not anywhere near perfect, but it’s a meaningful start. It shows governments which aren’t completely corrupt, and an ability to learn from experience. Both are clearly dead in America.
 
2. Instead, America continues to burn itself alive. After all we’ve been through, what’s the overriding impetus in Congress? Not to enact reform, but to gut what little regulation does exist.
 
The target this week was the Sarbanes-Oxley accounting reform law.
 

Sarbanes-Oxley was passed, almost unanimously, by a Republican-controlled House and a Democratic-controlled Senate. Now a Democratic Congress is gutting it with the apparent approval of the Obama administration.

The House Financial Services Committee this week approved an amendment to the Investor Protection Act of 2009 — a name George Orwell would appreciate — to allow most companies to never comply with the law, and mandating a study to see whether it would be a good idea to exempt additional ones as well.

 
By today’s standards the enactment of S-B sounds nothing short of miraculous. Passed by a large bipartisan majority just five weeks after the Worldcom scandal broke, today it sounds like the Simpsons episode where Lisa’s letter of disillusionment ends up getting her corrupt Congressman stung, arrested, indicted, and expelled from Congress all on the same day.
 
They’re going to exempt all companies worth less than $75 million and mandate a “study” to justify exempting those under $250 million. The fraudulent pretext is that reality-based accounting is too onerous for “smaller” firms, when in fact by now everyone is used to it and has no problem with it other than that it forbids them to lie.
 
The hostility of Congressional Dems to responsible accounting standards is epidemic. These are the same criminals who forced the FASB to gut mark-to-market and replace it with the so-called “mark-to-management” fantasy-based measure.
 
 
Another failure of the rule of law was reported by the NYT’s Gretchen Morgenson on Sunday, as she described how the holders of auction-rate securities have been left unable to redeem them as the vaunted “auctions” failed early in 2008.
 
Towns, student loan racketeers, tax-exempt structures like hospitals, and others issued these securities, whose interest rates were supposed to be set by weekly auctions, where the securities would be bought and sold.
 
Now that the music stopped, the auctions failed, and the end holders were left stuck with garbage paper, they’ve been trying to sue the brokers. But except in a few states who take regulation seriously, they’ve gotten nowhere.
 
This is because of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (a gift of the Clinton/Emanuel NAFTA policy). This “law” sets up a Catch-22 whereby in order to have standing to sue certain kinds of finance sector con-men, you have to demonstrate a priori the specific information you can usually obtain only during discovery at trial. It’s a legal trick to place certain crimes beyond the reach of the law. Worthy of Kafka.
 
The law is working the way the Republicans and Democrats intend it to work. So far 23 class action suits over these auction rate securities have been dismissed. In fact, complainants are having better success in the privatized arbitration system set up by the industry itself.
 
 
Finally, as another contrast between the semi-serious Europeans and the childish/psychotic Americans, at the recent G-20 conference in Scotland Gordon Brown suggested some kind of Tobin tax to insure against systemic crashes. Geithner at first strongly objected, eventually grumbling that he wanted to wait for the IMF’s recommendations due next Spring.
 
Hey, don’t be too hasty. No hurry.
 
3. Floyd Norris called it “the worst idea of 2009.” Indeed, it was so bad an idea that even the Treasury Dept rejected it. But it was typical for the bank rackets.
 
This typical idea was that Goldman Sachs would buy tax credits from Fannie Mae at a discount. Because FNM is an utter ward of the state, it doesn’t have even the potemkin profits which could enable it to use a tax credit.
 
But Goldman does have these phony profits (all of it from speculation and manipulation using free Fed money), so it wanted to screw its taxpayer benefactor again by buying the credits. The obnoxious justification from the taxpayer point of view was supposed to be that this would help Fannie’s balance sheet.
 
But since they’d pay a discount and then redeem the full value of the credit, the transaction would constitute a loss to the taxpayer. That’s typical bank gratitude for you. As I said, even Treasury was too embarrassed to allow this. (BTW, cuddly supposed non-bad guy Warren Buffett also wanted in on this scam.)
 
(As Norris points out, the existence of this tax credit is also an example of how alleged capitalist “efficiency” is really corporatist looting and political cowardice. The point is to stimulate investment in low-income mortgages. It would be much cheaper for the government to directly subsidize this goal. But using rentier middlemen allows some loot to be stripped and absolves the government of having to make an “expenditure”, thereby avoiding some of the political hassle from the anti-spending shriekers, who are really only concerned about conveying the loot. The leaseback scheme I wrote about last week, which is now blowing up, is another example.
 
Here you see examples of how structurally based policy and reform is not only morally sound but pragmatically less expensive and more effective. The same principle applies at every level, especially the biggest and broadest.)
 
Goldman cut quite a figure in the media this week. The McClatchy stories detailed how Goldman systematically sold securities it was betting against at the same time.
 

In 2006 and 2007, Goldman Sachs Group peddled more than $40 billion in securities backed by at least 200,000 risky home mortgages, but never told the buyers it was secretly betting that a sharp drop in U.S. housing prices would send the value of those securities plummeting.
Goldman’s sales and its clandestine wagers, completed at the brink of the housing market meltdown, enabled the nation’s premier investment bank to pass most of its potential losses to others before a flood of mortgage defaults staggered the U.S. and global economies.

Only later did investors discover that what Goldman had promoted as triple-A rated investments were closer to junk.

Now, pension funds, insurance companies, labor unions and foreign financial institutions that bought those dicey mortgage securities are facing large losses, and a five-month McClatchy investigation has found that Goldman’s failure to disclose that it made secret, exotic bets on an imminent housing crash may have violated securities laws…….

McClatchy’s inquiry found that Goldman Sachs:

Bought and converted into high-yield bonds tens of thousands of mortgages from subprime lenders that became the subjects of FBI investigations into whether they’d misled borrowers or exaggerated applicants’ incomes to justify making hefty loans.

Used offshore tax havens to shuffle its mortgage-backed securities to institutions worldwide, including European and Asian banks, often in secret deals run through the Cayman Islands, a British territory in the Caribbean that companies use to bypass U.S. disclosure requirements.

Has dispatched lawyers across the country to repossess homes from bankrupt or financially struggling individuals, many of whom lacked sufficient credit or income but got subprime mortgages anyway because Wall Street made it easy for them to qualify.

Was buoyed last fall by key federal bailout decisions, at least two of which involved then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, a former Goldman chief executive whose staff at Treasury included several other Goldman alumni.

 
They bought the mortgages from predatory lenders, securitized them, moved them around to evade the law, aggressively foreclosed on the hapless victim borrowers, got a customized bailout (Lehman allowed to fail; cushy all-upside bank holding company status (where they were never held to the restrictions); a direct $12.9 billion giveaway laundered through AIG), $23 billion altogether in bailouts, heading past $50 billion in 09 revenue, $20 billion for “bonuses”, and God is specifically on their side. Pretty good.
 
No wonder they lost money only one day in Q3, and only twice in Q2. (God must’ve been having a bad day.)
 
The McClatchy piece includes plenty of debate on the legalities of Goldman’s securitization scam. It just goes to show how corrupt the law is. Any normal person would look at this and immediately agree with economist Laurence Kotlikoff, “This is fraud and should be prosecuted.”
 
4. As always, there were plenty of antics that transcended normal rent-seeking and reached the level of derangement, as these criminals lose all sense of restraint even for the sake of political show. I already discussed some of them here.
 
One new outrage was how Goldman, JPM, Citi and others were blessed with allotments of the scarce H1N1 vaccine.
 
As Naked Capitalism’s Yves Smith put it:
 

It should come as no surprise that those at the top of the food chain get preferential treatment on all levels. But this still stinks to high heaven. Employees of the Goldman, the Fed, Citigroup, and other banks are getting H1N1 vaccine allotments out of proportion to what can be justified from a public health standpoint. In particular, Goldman has gotten more than Lenox HIll hospital, which needs it not just for the sick but more important, for workers (not only does the public need to keep front-line health care workers in as good shape as possible, but if they get the infection, they become disease vectors fast, given the number of people they see).

 
Healthcare workers are supposed to dispense these only according to CDC guidelines for high-risk groups. But it’s absurd on its face to think these rentiers won’t, if they think it helpful, expropriate these allotments the same way they do every other resource. That’s what they do, period. You cannot regulate them.
 
Of course, private corporations should never be dispensation nodes for a vaccine. Even now there are plenty of public nodes available. So clearly the only reason to do this was to politically satisfy the likes of Goldman.
 
(Besides, if you were really going to use a company in good faith, wouldn’t you repose the allotments at a factory or some other place where real American workers could benefit from it, rather than the utterly worthless, utterly expendable parasites at Goldman?)
 
5. Is there any there there for the real economy regarding the stock market’s rally? Not according to a new post by George Washington. He comments on a Daniel Gross Slate piece which finds that the domestic fundamentals don’t justify the stock surge. Domestic consumption and revenues are down.
 
Instead, multinationals headquartered in America are collecting the bulk of their profit overseas. The Dow, the NASDAQ, the SP 500, are weighted toward big globalized corporations, not Main Street. They’ve saturated the domestic market; in recent years “growth” has been overseas. So the stock market could be a good Main St indicator only via trickle-down.
 
Gross: “It could be that the notion the stock market is an accurate gauge of the domestic economy’s temperature is outdated”.
 
Yes – the market rally is a Big Lie. The discrepancy is yet more proof for the already-proven fact that globalization does not benefit America.
 
It was always a bald lie that it would benefit American workers, and as we’ve seen in recent years its alleged benefit to “consumers” was also illusory. The American consumer was a construct of debt. Now that exponential debt has collapsed, this consumer has blown away in the wind.
 
(Walmartization was always conceptually incoherent when it claimed you could smash the worker yet still keep the same person as a healthy consumer. For some incomprehensible reason a lot of otherwise intelligent people tried to believe this manifest impossibility.)
 
The globalization scam was never anything but another form of the trickle-down scam. Yet even liberal economists mostly blathered about how it was “good for the economy”.
 
But all this ever proved is that there’s no such thing as the economy. Cui bono.
 
6. To wrap up with something stupid from MSMland. This NYT article describes the cultural reaction in the finance and business world to the recent insider trading busts.
 
But instead of taking the tone that if the law is being enforced then criminals better stop committing crimes or at least be more careful, the piece basically depicts them as decent people now caught up in a Kafkaesque labyrinth.
 

For executives in these two worlds, passing along information and gossip is a way of life and a necessity for business. But many executives have begun watching their words in recent weeks. Authorities who sounded an alarm for corporate America now publicize their use of tools like wiretaps and confidential informants once reserved for mob kingpins. That has given even simple conversations a maddening new complexity….

Nathan J. Muyskens, a government enforcement lawyer at Shook, Hardy & Bacon, said that clients had been asking him if they should send companywide e-mail messages reminding people not to say anything questionable, even a joke, on the phone. He said he told them they should…..

“I’ve heard that there have certainly been memos going out: ‘Think of the phone just as you think of your e-mail these days,’ ” he said. “We always say, ‘Think of that e-mail as being on the front page of The New York Times before you hit the send button,’ and now it’s exactly the same for the phone.”…..

Mike Kwatinetz, a former Wall Street technology analyst and now a venture capitalist at Azure Capital Partners, said that when a company recently considered going public, he scheduled sessions with lawyers to train the board and executives about what they could and could not say.

Many venture capitalists have told him that when one of their portfolio companies goes public, they immediately resign from the board because they are worried about the legal ramifications of serving on the board of a public company…..

This newfound caution may continue for some time.

“At least for a few years, when operating executives are having dinner with friends and lovers who work in hedge funds, they’re going to be way more careful about what they say,” Mr. Marks said.

 
No:
 
1. If the law is being enforced at all it’s only because their criminality knows no bounds.
 
2. If they don’t like it, tell them to stop being leeches and get real jobs. 

March 24, 2009

Corporate Anarchy

Filed under: Corporatism, Law, Sovereignty and Constitution — Tags: , , , , — Russ @ 4:13 am

Conventional wisdom would have it there still exists an intact system of law and good faith enforcers of that law, and that what we have here are just atypical abuses of it. I believe the evidence clearly shows the law itself is fundamentally broken, and we do in fact exist in a state of nature where the nominal law is just another weapon.

It is the finance industry (and corporatism in general) which has eradicated any rule of law in America. For decades they have acted in bad faith, against the people, against the country, against the very concept of law. Each and every political action has sought to (1) strip away all purview of law in the first place, (2) render any vestigial law or regulation which does nominally exist toothless, (3) even if there remained any actual law or regulatory enforcement, they sought to evade it, (4) as a social and political matter, if it comes down to it they flat out lie.

Here’s a few examples of what I mean. (These are just finance examples, but I could multiply them with examples from the environmental, detainee, food and drug, and consumer protection realms, to name a few.) 

1. Obliterate rule of law de jure: At the turn of the century Clinton/Bush cadres, at the behest of the industry, repealed the prosthetic Glass-Steagal law (meant to prevent lawless situations which contributed to the Great Depression) and enacted a “law” which formally placed the CDS industry outside the law. The CFMA was not an action of law, but an action of anarchy. These actions were meant to place the finance industry in a Hobbesian state of nature where might (their money and political muscle) would make right.

2. Preventing enforcement: Under Clinton, when Brooksley Born wanted to enforce the law, she was shunned and fired. Many would-be conscientous regulators had the same experience under Bush (not to mention private whistleblowers like Harry Markopolos, who tried to warn the SEC about Madoff for years). Now under the Bush/Obama bailout expedition we have the administration stonewalling on transparency law, refusing on principle to give the public its rightful information on who has received taxpayer money, who did the administration launder money to through AIG, etc.

3. Evading enforcement: How exactly (if we live amid good-faith actors) does a corporation like AIG which has benefitted so tremendously from the very existence of the American system and is asked to contribute so pathetically little in return still decide it has a right to evade even those meager taxes by offshoring operations? (And if we do live amid the rule of law, why does the so-called law allow this? This also goes back to (1).) Yet AIG’s actions here were so egregious even the Bush IRS balked at them. And today, hoping for better treatment under Obama (better than under Bush!), they’re suing to get a refund on prior enforcement of what was an absurdly low tax bill in the first place. That goes back to (2).

4. As if all that weren’t enough, now we learn AIG was lying about the amount of those bonuses. It wasn’t $165 million, it was $218. While this change to what was a relatively minor # isn’t important, that even here they couldn’t help themselves, they had to lie, it’s so engrained in their corporate culture, is important, because it’s typical and indicative.

(It should also be an embarrassment to any apologist who’s been arguing that people shouldn’t make a big deal about this because the number is so small. Evidently AIG itself doesn’t agree with them.)

Another lie which has been hinted at: I don’t have the link handy, but I’ve seen quotes to the effect that the vaunted “stress tests” are not in fact to be reality-based assessments of the solvency of the banks, but rather propaganda exercises which already have the predetermined result that the banks are fine and the public should have confidence in them and in whatever the administration says should be done for them.

This culture of the lie is endemic not only to a particular company. It’s endemic to the industry, to these administrations, to corporatist America as a whole, and to the existing system of law.

So we already have systemic “barbarism”. Even a literal lynch mob could not be anywhere near as lawless or as barbaric as the system itself.

And if anyone were to treat these persons as outlaws in the classical sense, we’d only be treating them as they always sought to be treated, and have in fact been treated, all along.

It would just be in a different sense than what they wanted.