Thursday, September 1, 2016

Corruption: The Worst thing? The best thing???

Corey Robin has an uncharacteristically short and reactive post regarding corruption at his own institution.  He says that corruption is pure poison and destroys everything.  That's a pretty commonplace view.  Usually Corey is more leading edge.

I have somewhat the reverse view, as I made in two consecutive posts:

Corey hasn’t explained why he’s come to view corruption as “destroying everything.” I’m still with Foundling in #14 that there are things that are worse…and in a neoliberal meritocratic society that’s almost everything. Corruption at least tends to leave things unchanged rather than reformed towards universal wage and debt slavery.

The greatest of science, art, literature, and philosophy are all the residue of earlier corruption. Charles Darwin was a gentleman, and it is impossible to imagine otherwise. That’s to say he was the beneficiary of an ancient corruption, the original theft.
It is precisely the successors of that original theft who would be the beneficiaries of the perfect investment, if it were possible, which would benefit only the investor and neither be a cost nor a benefit to anyone else in society.
That is to say that all the benefits to anyone and everyone else have come through the corruption of capitalism, rather than its perfection.
 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Chomsky Endorses Lesser Evil Voting

Chomsky has just written an "8 point brief" defending Lesser Evil Voting, which he calls LEV, as the most moral choice.

I agree completely, and I am grateful for this.

His telling of LEV is that the outcome (winner) is all that matters.  Those people who can affect the outcome (those who live in swing states wrt the President) have the capability to possible make things better by electing a less bad President.  Slightly less bad means better.  The alternative slightly worse choice will negatively impact, possibly in horrible ways, millions of people, even though it may not as likely affect comfortable voters as much, we should beware of their fate, being concerned for the actual welfare of others--that's the meaning of morality.  It's far less important to identify oneself as moral by picking a "moral" person, that's self image not morality according to Chomsky.

Now he makes it clear that those not in swing states can and should vote their true preference, or a protest vote, non vote, or whatever.  That's part of Chomsky's definition of LEV.

He's also making it clear that it's another issue entirely whether one candidate or another is the militarily less dangerous choice.  He feels that Trump is the worse choice, but some have made interesting claims that Hillary is likely to engage more warfare.  He's feels Hillary is safer than Trump, but he's not going to argue the matter.  Your disagreement may change your definition of the LEV for the President this time from the otherwise standard choice--Democratic Party.  (I'd add "when possible" as they don't always run in some Texas districts.  In those cases vote Green, or even Libertarian, as opposed to Republican.  Republicans generally don't believe in Global Heating, and are the worst on all issues, sometimes unbelievably so.  It is very important that non-Presidential Republicans be universally defeated.  They've done dastardly things like shutting down the government and threatening default to get their way without actually passing new law, all in service of the plutocracy.)

Chomsky says voting shouldn't be taken as a big deal.  LEV makes enough difference to bother doing, but not much more.  There isn't much choice really on offer through electoral politics.  Other aspects of politics are more important, and you should devote more time to them.

I can only quibble.  I think the image matters a tiny bit.  I think the hope for change matters a tiny bit, though not enough to change LEV in any way.

I think we should watch polls for a surprise upswing of a 3rd party.  Several times they have fielded winning candidates, though just once (in over 200 years) with Abraham Lincoln, did a former 3rd Party become one of the 2 dominant parties.  It's very very hard to do, I'd never count on it happening again by way of persuasion (I've been thrice burned by John Anderson, Ross Perot, and Ralph Nader...is your hero going to do better?).  I'd want to see data, though I understand for Lincoln it was a complete surprise to experts of the time (I don't think polling was quite as serious either).  And then, in order to change the system, it needs to be not just one of the two dominant parties but a super majority party.  Show me the numbers.  Surely a supermajority wants a similar kind of change, say--full employment and everyone taken care of, but they've been very capably distracted into different clans who disagree on how it can be done.  And the solution is poison to the other.  Diabolical.








Saturday, August 6, 2016

Let's Hope it remains Trump v. Hillary

Because, obviously, a nosediving Trump gives Hillary a chance to beat the Republican.

But, conversely, and as my friends and I have always said, we prefer Trump to the likes of Cruz (especially) and Rubio, et al.  At least with a Trump you feel there's a chance at something other than theocracy, neoconservatism, and neoliberalism.

That chance has moved other commenters I respect to support Trump, notably many at NakedCapitalism (Yves went for Trump when he said he'd tear up TPP if congress deemed to pass it during the lame duck session) and a few even at Crooked Timber.  And far more who are NOT taking a gung ho Hillary approach simply because they don't see it as a race to much to care about, and in many cases, to care enough to hold their noses.  BTW for me the vote doesn't make any difference and that is the only reason I probably won't vote for Hillary.

I do indeed see this week as "the establishment media fights back," even fearing a Trump dictatorship might bring media persecution, though, generally, they've loved the ratings of Trump--a unfolding disaster, 24+/7, I wouldn't think they'd ever want it to end.

Am I supposed to care that Trump has hinted at not supporting our NATO "committments"?  I'm with those who thought NATO should have been abolished in 1991 and even perhaps never even created.

Am I supposed to care that he might not back our ongoning proxy war in Ukraine with Russia?  I wish we'd denounce any possibility of NATO for Ukraine, just before packing up NATO itself.

We have no business being the policeman of the world.  We're not trusted anyway, and for good reasons...centuries of conquest and imperialism.  Given our position in the world, we shouldn't even take sides.  Let the Prime Directive apply to the USA.

And about the bomb?  Well, such problems shouldn't even exist, and I don't feel they actually do.  I think the system itself works against a hypothetical "mad man" President so that that's not the danger (accidents are THE danger, primarily).  Trump is not actually schizophrenic, he's a very successful con artist primarily.  He's in his element being more far out than anyone else, the #1.  But not actually blowing things up.  (...unlike Clinton...) he has no history of physically blowing things up, just IBGYBG.

I'm sure the "would you want this man in charge of The Bomb" will be trotted out for anyone anti-Imperialist of any stripe, let alone Leftist of any stripe, just as it had been for Barry Goldwater.

So, I'm not going to be swayed by any of those "he's not our man for Empire and Stability" arguments sway me.  What I fear more is that despite Trump's possible somewhat liberal nature, his election would further the advance of anti-abortionism, erode progress in LGBT rights, and erode the financial underpinnings of the welfare state and the economy itself, as Republicans have done since Hoover.

His not being the great man of Empire is for me a plus.  Just not enough of a plus.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Trump: A Historic Opportunity?

My favorite blogsite Crooked Timber hosts my favorite political scientist Corey Robin, who has invested more than one Original Posts (OP) examining the predictably overheated hyperbole about the unique historic badness of The Donald, and not just concluding that but showing exactly how it breaks down.  I couldn't imagine him as a Trump supporter, but like me he does these things.  One thing, for example, it helps to re-examine the myths about Ronald Reagan, and be glad he was lazy, and Barry Goldwater, and be glad he wasn't elected, but also aware that he and his people engineered the ultimate Reagan era in politics which continues to this day.  And, it's always interesting that Donald may well take the most heat because of saying some things that are actually true.  Corey notes Trump saying the US is not always the best exemplar and therefore messenger in Human Rights, which is true.

The comments section likewise is not a great bastion of Trump support, out of a universe of a few hundred Crooked Timber commenters (I'm one sometimes) there are just a few, it's hard to know how many, Trump supporters, just that there aren't many.  Crooked Timber is famously left, with just a few sturdy stragglers and trolls on the right.

Quite a few Greens and others unwilling to go along with the corporate side of the Democratic Party, best exemplified of course by Hillary Clinton, however.

But one of the most notable pro-Trumpers following this recent OP by Corey goes by the name Kidneystones (which I imagine as meaning one who has been pissed for a long time) who makes a forceful leftist (as he seems to be leftist) case for being affirmatively pro-Trump (this is a link to the main article and all 800+ comments)..

His most positively memorable comment is (or was, beware of possible change) 278:

[...] 
I continue to support Trump because I don’t believe his record shows him to be anything worse than a vulgarian egomaniac brimming with bombast who loves nothing more than garnering attention for himself in the most grandiose fashion.  
Trump doesn’t want to start anymore wars and he wants all people in America to enjoy the same legal protections. And for all his public and private intemperate behavior and bad judgment, Trump has yet to appear allow himself to be filmed laughing about people he helped kill during a CBS interview. So, there’s bad judgment and bad judgment. 
Finally, a question. Which is more important – electing another neocon cause she wears a dress, or helping destroy Ted Cruz’s GOP by electing a NY liberal billionaire who promises to remake the party of Lincoln? 
I mean, if we’re talking about big ideas and the fierce urgency of now. For real.
First, let me say even if I don't agree with this, in some parts I'm very moved by it.  It represents the best defense of Trump, and the best reason the Presidential race needs to be  Trump v. Clinton.

But about this "neocon in a dress" thing?  He later denies that is sexist.  So we see he has some weaknesses.  His case for Trump is interesting.  If Trump is elected, I hope that Trump is as Kidneystones says.  As I write, Trump has been on a downhill spiral in the Huffington Post and lefter media.  I don't pay attention to anything else, I can only imagine the mainstream media is the same, possibly with some exceptions.  The above blog is from more than a week ago.

Sadly I think Kidneystones seems to have lack of memory for things Trump had already said and done when he wrote the above.  He's worked hard--too hard--to ensure he isn't seen as secular or pro-choice or liberal in any way.  It seems in many areas--if not all--he's sold his soul.  That's what immediately came to mind with his VP choice.  Anyway, for me I also fear the disolution of social democracy, I'm still more hopeful that electing Democrats is the best chance (though hardly perfect) for preserving social democracy.

One pundit I respect mostly who remains solidly Trump is Pat Buchanan.  Pat has written some of the best articles on the encroachment of Russia by NATO expansion.  He has been though of as having racist views, but I think I'd love to see him running foreign policy, as I expect it would be away from foreign entanglements.  I'm not sure of his domestic policy, and then there's his party, the Republicans, and their horrible influence on the courts.

Another pundit is Yves Smith of NakedCapitalism, who endorsed Trump after hearing he would tear up TPP if passed by Congress in the lame duck session.

People think of voting as an individual act, but really it's a collective process, by which at great cost the people only make small changes.

I remain firmly in support of voting Hillary in contested states, and voting Democratic when possible otherwise, and Green if no Democrat, and nearly anything but Republican.

A friend points out that Lincoln's party when from nowhere to being, well, the most elected party since 1860 in just a few years.  But I don't have any special hope of this happening now.  Now the most important thing is indeed defeating Republicans, and that is unquestionably the only way a new alternative majority party can be created.

I strongly don't see Donald Trump as not being that kind of agent of change.  Sadly no.

Frankly, I don't see anyone.

That probably says something too.






Trump: A Historic Opportunity?

My favorite blogsite Crooked Timber hosts my favorite political scientist Corey Robin, who has invested more than one Original Posts (OP) examining the predictably overheated hyperbole about the unique historic badness of The Donald, and not just concluding that but showing exactly how it breaks down.  I couldn't imagine him as a Trump supporter, but like me he does these things.  One thing, for example, it helps to re-examine the myths about Ronald Reagan, and be glad he was lazy, and Barry Goldwater, and be glad he wasn't elected, but also aware that he and his people engineered the ultimate Reagan era in politics which continues to this day.  And, it's always interesting that Donald may well take the most heat because of saying some things that are actually true.  Corey notes Trump saying the US is not always the best exemplar and therefore messenger in Human Rights, which is true.

The comments section likewise is not a great bastion of Trump support, out of a universe of a few hundred Crooked Timber commenters (I'm one sometimes) there are just a few, it's hard to know how many, Trump supporters, just that there aren't many.  Crooked Timber is famously left, with just a few sturdy stragglers and trolls on the right.

Quite a few Greens and others unwilling to go along with the corporate side of the Democratic Party, best exemplified of course by Hillary Clinton, however.

But one of the most notable pro-Trumpers following this recent OP by Corey goes by the name Kidneystones (which I imagine as meaning one who has been pissed for a long time) who makes a forceful leftist (as he seems to be leftist) case for being affirmatively pro-Trump (this is a link to the main article and all 800+ comments)..

His most positively memorable comment is (or was, beware of possible change) 278:

[...] 
I continue to support Trump because I don’t believe his record shows him to be anything worse than a vulgarian egomaniac brimming with bombast who loves nothing more than garnering attention for himself in the most grandiose fashion.  
Trump doesn’t want to start anymore wars and he wants all people in America to enjoy the same legal protections. And for all his public and private intemperate behavior and bad judgment, Trump has yet to appear allow himself to be filmed laughing about people he helped kill during a CBS interview. So, there’s bad judgment and bad judgment. 
Finally, a question. Which is more important – electing another neocon cause she wears a dress, or helping destroy Ted Cruz’s GOP by electing a NY liberal billionaire who promises to remake the party of Lincoln? 
I mean, if we’re talking about big ideas and the fierce urgency of now. For real.
First, let me say even if I don't agree with this, in some parts I'm very moved by it.  It represents the best defense of Trump, and the best reason the Presidential race needs to be  Trump v. Clinton.

But about this "neocon in a dress" thing?  He later denies that is sexist.  So we see he has some weaknesses.  His case for Trump is interesting.  If Trump is elected, I hope that Trump is as Kidneystones says.  As I write, Trump has been on a downhill spiral in the Huffington Post and lefter media.  I don't pay attention to anything else, I can only imagine the mainstream media is the same, possibly with some exceptions.  The above blog is from more than a week ago.

Sadly I think Kidneystones seems to have lack of memory for things Trump had already said and done when he wrote the above.  He's worked hard--too hard--to ensure he isn't seen as secular or pro-choice or liberal in any way.  It seems in many areas--if not all--he's sold his soul.  That's what immediately came to mind with his VP choice.  Anyway, for me I also fear the disolution of social democracy, I'm still more hopeful that electing Democrats is the best chance (though hardly perfect) for preserving social democracy.

One pundit I respect mostly who remains solidly Trump is Pat Buchanan.  Pat has written some of the best articles on the encroachment of Russia by NATO expansion.  He has been though of as having racist views, but I think I'd love to see him running foreign policy, as I expect it would be away from foreign entanglements.  I'm not sure of his domestic policy, and then there's his party, the Republicans, and their horrible influence on the courts.

Another pundit is Yves Smith of NakedCapitalism, who endorsed Trump after hearing he would tear up TPP if passed by Congress in the lame duck session.

People think of voting as an individual act, but really it's a collective process, by which at great cost the people only make small changes.

I remain firmly in support of voting Hillary in contested states, and voting Democratic when possible otherwise, and Green if no Democrat, and nearly anything but Republican.

A friend points out that Lincoln's party when from nowhere to being, well, the most elected party since 1860 in just a few years.  But I don't have any special hope of this happening now.  Now the most important thing is indeed defeating Republicans, and that is unquestionably the only way a new alternative majority party can be created.

I strongly don't see Donald Trump as not being that kind of agent of change.  Sadly no.

Frankly, I don't see anyone.

That probably says something too.






Friday, July 22, 2016

Will Neoliberals Ever Learn ?

Dean Baker paints the familiar Brexit story I was among the first to advance, that of not just the racist xenophobes (whose campaign indeed most likely carried the day) but of a wide range of people impoverished by neoliberalism, not at all because of the EU itself in Britain's case but because of conservative leadership (though the Euro Zone is intensely neoliberal, to the "ordoliberal" school of exacting fiscal rectitude, Britain has effectively escaped all of that so far, but only until a point in the future, I heard, with the ordoliberalism ultimately taking hold of Britain, perhaps giving a reasonable justification for voting Leave, but maybe that's wrong, I'm not exactly sure of the facts, but anyway any of the austerity in Britain so far has been largely the fault of Tory and New Labour, not the old Labor types like Corbyn--though they may be paying the political price, the world being so messed up and all.

But anyway, I love the place where he refers to the austerity dogmas prevalent in the EU, Belgium, and Germany, if not ruling nearly everywhere in the EU:

ut the leadership of the euro zone, especially the Germans, seems intent on continuing austerity. This is not based on economics – there is no serious support for their position — it is based on things their parents told them about the virtues of balanced budgets.
If the EU leadership continues to set policy based on folk wisdom from their parents rather than serious economics, the hardships among the population will continue. 

In other news, for me, I just discovered that JFK used the manueuver of bypassing the FED and just, well, printing the money and spending rather than having to go in hock to the FED (in the National Debt, which is actually a leading savings instrument, US Treasury Bonds) for the money, the way it's done, strange when you think of it that way.

This is, I believe, what MMT and/or many similar economic theorists maintain, and it's not particularly inflationary, perhaps with some limitations.  It costs far less, with less inequality created (less huge bankster salaries involved) and no messy debt to drag down the future.  Krugman claims it's too politically risky, that it would lead to the situations which led to the creation of the FED in the first place.  I'm not on the extreme downside of the FED since the departure of Alan Greenspan.  I think it's been a comparatively positive player in maintaining a prosperous economy.  But I'm inclined to believe MMT deserves a careful examination, and may provide a better way, if ultimately people could come to believe in it.

People, including me, might have to find other "safe" investments.  You could say there is little public good coming from the availability of a safe investment (actually, the same could be said about any financial investment, but I digress), and it does ultimately burden society.   If it were my direct money, I'd put it in a bank, but being pension fund money, I chose from a set of investments with few or no public guarantees, so I choose the fund that buys Treasuries.  Either case, nowadays, interest rates are about zero.  If Treasuries went out of business the fund would find something similar.)

But the benefit of people like me looking for safe investments, far from the folly of US banks and corporations, is less important to the overall prosperity and progress that an MMT policy combined with guaranteed work and massive green investment could provide.  One economist estimated the cost of not immediately (just borrowing and) spending $6T/yr on green infrastructure was unfathomable--as unfathomable as the ultimate costs of Global Heating will be.

Kennedy, however, may have done it merely to show political resistance to a reactionary FED, not as part of switching the US to MMT.

Anyway, his confrontations with banks was just another thing leading up to the date of the assassination.  (BTW, I believe the story the a mob hitman did it, many mobsters tried but one had the lucky place, behind the grassy knoll, to get a clear shot with a suitable weapon.  Oswald was a planted patsy, set up to take the heat, the cheap gun perhaps to ensure he couldn't make it.  Many have confessed.  The official story cannot be true.  Oswald himself was CIA, involved in infiltrating leftist groups, may well have infiltrated the actual assassin groups, or be one of them, by association, it's hard to tell.  Whether he tried or not he lacked the means and it was not his magic bullet that against all odds did the trick without getting damaged, but several bullets from the real assassin, James Files, IIRC, not in public hands and probably lost to history.)

But this is along with the long usually listed cast of subjects including the mob, LBJ, the CIA, CIA-connected insiders, George HW Bush, oil producers threatened with the end of the Depletion Allowance including many big timers in Texas like Hunt, millitary builders, proto-neocons, the list of those with an axe to grind is endless.  The banks is another on the list.


Thursday, July 21, 2016

never Trump

Trump said a few good things (among far more bad things) during the runup to the RNC.  (Not that I would ever vote for or support him, the good things not going far enough and not seeming guaranteed enough to outweigh the bad.)

But with his VP now chosen, it appears the bad has won, the usual way.