Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Edward Harrison — As the Fed meets, expect expansion through 2018, but problems thereafter


Credit Writedowns
As the Fed meets, expect expansion through 2018, but problems thereafter
Edward Harrison

Dustin Volz — Trump signs into law U.S. government ban on Kaspersky Lab software

This sets a precedence for banning products for national security reasons. It potentially has devastating implications for US tech companies that include backdoors for US intelligence agencies. This probably won't happen immediately but it is bound to happen over time as foreign nations, especially Russia and China, develop domestic capabilities. Being shut out of Russia would not be devastating perhaps, but being shut out of China would.

Foreign countries that the US designates as adversarial are already taking steps to isolate themselves from the US control international financial system that includes dollar hegemony, to counter the Western military alliances led by the US, and to guard against internal subversion aimed at regime change by controlling communications. China and Russia are in the lead on this under the rubric of multipolarism. They view unipolarism as the attempt of the US as in imperial power to impose its will on the rest of the world using hybrid warfare that included economic warfare.

Trump signs into law U.S. government ban on Kaspersky Lab software
Dustin Volz


Just think what they are worth now? This video is from 2013 but he must still be suffering.

If someone told you you just threw away over $6 million worth of bitcoins, well you wouldn't be too happy. You can imagine how James Howells from Wales felt when he discovered that he had thrown away his hardrive containing over 7,000 bitcoins. The value of Bitcoins has reached an all time high so now Mr Howells is frantically searching his local tip in the hope of retrieving his fortune

RICARDO VAZ - Yemen: a western-sponsored genocide

We soon intervened is Yugoslavia with our air force to take out the bad guys and put the war criminals on trail. The Western media cheered on Clinton and Blair for 'sending in the cavalry' and saving the innocents, but now Yemen is getting constantly bombed and millions might stave to death the western media under reports the tragedy. Why haven't we put sanctions on Saudi Arabia if we are the 'good guys' always intervening around the world to get the 'bad guys'? We got Saddam and Qaddafi -  although we had to kill hundreds of thousands before we rooted them out, and millions more have died since - and we nearly got Assad, although just as many innocent people died in the process, but there's only ever a brief mention about the 'wicked' crown prince Mohammad bin Salman

Almost three years have passed since Saudi Arabia announced it was intervening militarily, with its allies, in Yemen, to remove the Houthis (officially called Ansar Allah) from power after they had taken over the capital. Western analysts saw it as a bold move from recently-empowered (deputy) crown prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS), weapons manufacturers and their political representatives were delighted. But what had been predicted as a swift military operation has turned into a humiliating stalemate. Unable to impose its will by force, Saudi Arabia and its bold prince have resorted to war crimes and collective punishment, imposing a humanitarian catastrophe on the Yemeni people.

The lack of media interest makes it seem like a crisis unfolding in slow motion. But that is only because outrage and compassion are now meant to be weaponised when they can be useful in justifying imperialist interventions. For the Yemeni people the agony is real and there is no escaping it. In what was already the poorest country in the region, the Saudi-led bombings of infrastructure and the blockade imposed on Yemeni ports have left millions on the brink.
According to UN estimates, 17 million Yemenis, more than 60% of the population, are in urgent need of food. Out of these, 7 million are facing famine. The destruction of infrastructure has also left 15 million without any access to healthcare and generated an unprecedented cholera outbreak, with 900.000 cases and thousands dead already. 50.000 Yemeni children have died in 2017 as a result of disease and starvation. There is no hyperbole needed, this is a humanitarian disaster that is beyond words. Only it is not a natural catastrophe. More than something that is being allowed to happen, it is something that is being deliberately imposed on the Yemeni people.

But the West wants to restore democracy in Yemen. 

In the beginning of the war we often heard that the war was about restoring Yemen’s legitimate, democratically-elected government. Dozens of journalists wrote that the backward kingdom of Saudi Arabia was launching a war to restore democracy without sensing that something was off. The articles usually mentioned that Yemen was emerging from decades of dictatorship under Ali Abdullah Saleh. Saleh had ruled Yemen with an iron fist, and had been a useful ally both for Saudi Arabia and the US, which has been drone-bombing everything in the vicinity of a cellphone that once belonged to an alleged terror suspect (3).
When massive protests starting in 2011 forced Saleh out, the US and the Saudis scrambled to salvage the situation. In the end they managed to get all parties, including the Houthis, to agree to a political transition. This included an election in which Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi ran as the only candidate. So he is the legitimate president to be restored, but the media never mention that he had been vice-dictator for 20 years. One election with no other candidates and voilà, you get all the stamps you need from the western press.
What the articles also forget to mention is that Hadi’s term was supposed to finish in late 2014, and it was only after he did not deliver on political and economic measures that the Houthis seized power. Now, after almost three years of a Saudi war imposing death and misery on the Yemeni people on his behalf, who can refer to Hadi as being internationally recognised? What is that recognition even worth? And to add insult to injury, it seems Hadi is now allegedly under house arrest.
The Saudis latest gamble involved getting their former friend Saleh to turn against the Houthis (4). Given their long history of oppression at the hands of Saleh and the fact that there had been previous armed uprisings, this alliance was always going to be fragile. Saleh thought there was an opening, and Saudi air cover, for him to make a move and restore normal subservience to the northern neighbour. But the move backfired, Saleh ended up killed and, according to reports, the Houthis regained full control of the capital. Otherwise the media rehabilitation of Saleh as the man who restored Yemeni democracy would be in full-swing by now.

Andy Wilcoxson - NATO's Hague Inquisition Exonerates Slobodan Milosevic Again

11 years after his death the NATO farce at the Hague has ruled that Milosevic did not play a part in "genocide" and "joint criminal enterprise" in Bosnia, but have you heard this reported anywhere? (The charges for "genocide" in Kosovo were dropped at the original Milosevic trial already.)

More than eleven years after his death, a second trial chamber at the UN War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague has concluded that former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic was not responsible for war crimes committed in Bosnia where the worst atrocities associated with the break-up of Yugoslavia took place.
Buried in a footnote deep in the fourth volume of the judgment against Bosnian-Serb General Ratko Mladic, the judges unanimously conclude that “The evidence received by the trial chamber did not show that Slobodan Milosevic, Jovica Stanisic, Franko Simatovic, Zeljko Raznatovic, or Vojislav Seselj participated in the realization of the common criminal objective” to establish an ethnically-homogenous Bosnian-Serb entity through the commission of crimes alleged in the indictment. [1]
This is an important admission because practically the entire Western press corps and virtually every political leader in every Western country have spent the last 25 years telling us that Slobodan Milosevic was a genocidal monster cut from the same cloth as Adolf Hitler. We were told that he was the “Butcher of the Balkans,” but there was never any evidence to support those accusations. We were lied to in order to justify economic sanctions and NATO military aggression against the people of Serbia – just like they lied to us to justify the Iraq war.

TASS — Every second citizen favors amending Russia’s Constitution — poll

More than half of Russians (52%) believe certain amendments should be introduced to the country’s Constitution, a survey conducted by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center showed on Tuesday.
"Every second Russian (52%) believes it is necessary to amend the country’s Constitution. Among the top issues, which, according to citizens, should be reflected in the Constitution, are wages, pensions, free health care and education," the pollster said....
The poll was conducted on December 8-9, 2017, with 1,200 Russians aged 18 and above interviewed over the phone. The maximum margin of error does not exceed 3.5% with a probability of 95%....
Every second citizen favors amending Russia’s Constitution — poll

Pat Lang — Robin Wright Admits the Borg Has Lost In Syria

US establishment refuses to accept reality.

Sic Semper Tyrannis
Robin Wright Admits the Borg Has Lost In Syria
Col. W. Patrick Lang, US Army (ret.)

At the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lang was the Defense Intelligence Officer (DIO) for the Middle East, South Asia and counter-terrorism, and later, the first Director of the Defense Humint Service. At the DIA, he was a member of the Defense Senior Executive Service. He participated in the drafting of National Intelligence Estimates. From 1992 to 1994, all the U.S. military attachés worldwide reported to him. During that period, he also briefed President George H. W. Bush at the White House, as he had during Operation Desert Storm.

He was also the head of intelligence analysis for the Middle East for seven or eight years at that institution. He was the head of all the Middle East and South Asia analysis in DIA for counter-terrorism for seven years. For his service in the DIA, Lang received the Presidential Rank Award of Distinguished Executive. — Wikipedia

See also

Fills in some detail that Col Lang omits.

Moon of Alabama
U.S. Surrenders On Syria - Resistance Turns Eyes On Israel

Thomas Piketty — Trump, Macron: same fight

It is customary to contrast Trump and Macron: on one hand the vulgar American businessman with his xenophobic tweets and global warming scepticism; and on the other, the well-educated, enlightened European with his concern for dialogue between different cultures and sustainable development. All this is not entirely false and rather pleasing to French ears. But if we take a closer look at the policies being implemented, one is struck by the similarities.
In particular, Trump, like Macron, has just had very similar tax reforms adopted. In both cases, these constitute an incredible flight in the direction of fiscal dumping in favour of the richest and most mobile.
Le Monde — Le blog de Thomas Piketty
Trump, Macron: same fight
Thomas Piketty | professor (directeur d'études) at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS), associate chair at the Paris School of Economics, and Centennial professor at the International Inequalities Institute, which is part of the London School of Economics (LSE)

Diane Coyle — Management as a productive resource

The economic theory of "the firm" (representative firm) assumes homogeneity that may not be there, which widely differing results in output and productivity suggests in the case.
I’ve been browsing through Edith Penrose’s Theory of the Growth of the Firm, having read the biography by Angela Penrose, No Ordinary Woman. Published in 1959, it is an interesting narrative approach to the dynamics of individual firms, with plentiful examples from case studies. One can see that it was heading in a very different direction methodologically from mainstream economics, and hence why Penrose was taken up by business schools instead.… 
All of this reminded me very much of the recent World Management Survey work by Nick Bloom, John Van Reenen and colleagues looking at the importance of management quality for firm productivity. They write: “Economists have long puzzled over the astounding differences in productivity between firms and countries. In this paper, we present evidence on a possible explanation for persistent differences in productivity at the firm and the national level — namely, that such differences largely reflect variations in management practices.” Maybe Penrose was less puzzled than many.
The Enlightened Economist
Management as a productive resource
Diane Coyle | freelance economist and a former advisor to the UK Treasury. She is a member of the UK Competition Commission and is acting Chairman of the BBC Trust, the governing body of the British Broadcasting Corporation

Lars P. Syll — On the non-applicability of statistical models

Math is purely formal, involving the relation of signs based on formation and transformation rules. Signs are given significance based on definitions. Math is applicable to the world through science to the degree that the definitions are amenable to measurement and the model assumptions approximate real world conditions (objects in relation to others) and events (patterned changes in these relations). Methodological choices determine the scope and scale of the model, which in turn determines the fitness of formal modeling for explanation of real world conditions and events.

Contemporary science is chiefly about applying formal modeling to theoretical explanation that covers a wide enough range of phenomena worth explaining to be of interest. The scientific project is about designing useful models for explaining phenomena and also designing experiments to test the model against observation. This involves measurement.

A further challenge is identifying parameters that can be measured to produce data and constructing models based on assumptions of how parameters are related with respect to states and how they change over time.

Then, there are also presumptions that are not stated. For example, it is presumed that science is consilient and therefore, any theoretical explanation that violates the conservation laws is ruled out automatically.

Beyond that philosophical foundations relating to metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, social and political philosophy, philosophy of science, the philosophy of the particular discipline, etc., also come into play.

Quite evidently, there is a lot of room for mistake and slip-ups in the process of "doing science."

Formalization and data are not magic wands, and assuming they are leads to magical thinking. Formalization is only rigorous — necessary based on application off rules — with respect to models. How models relate to what is modeled is contingent and depends on data. Data is dependent on observation and measurement.

All this is difficult enough in the natural sciences, but more difficult in the life sciences and much so in the social sciences.

The philosophy of economics, or foundations of economics if one prefers, needs to take all this into consideration and there needs to be lively debate about it. Is there?

Lars P. Syll’s Blog
On the non-applicability of statistical models
Lars P. Syll | Professor, Malmo University

Monday, December 11, 2017

Bill Mitchell — US labour market steady but low wage bias continues

On December 8, 2017, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released their latest labour market data – Employment Situation Summary – November 2017 – which showed that total non-farm employment from the payroll survey rose by 228,000 in November, slightly less than the October net increase. While the payroll data showed a fairly strong employment outcome, the Labour Force Survey data estimated a weaker rise in employment (57 thousand) in November. The labour force was estimated to have risen by 148 thousand after October’s results showing a sharp contraction. The BLS thus estimated that unemployment rose by 90 thousand and the official unemployment rate rose slightly from 4.07 to 4.12 per cent. There is still a large jobs deficit remaining and other indicators suggest the labour market is still below where it was prior to the crisis. I also update my ‘low-wage jobs bias’ to November 2017 and conclude that in the recovery, there has been a bias towards low wage and below-average wage job creation.
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
US labour market steady but low wage bias continues
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Nicholas Wilson - Mt Ethical - Whistleblower Takes On The Dirtiest Bank In The World (Full Interview)

Nicholas Wilson is a British solicitor who became aware of financial irregularities at HSBC bank worth hundreds of millions of pounds. He fought a 13 year legal battle to get justice and compensation for HSBC customers that the bank had overcharged. Eventually HSBC got a £4 million fine, in other words, they got away scot-free. But Nicolas Wilson also uncovered massive fraud, more financial irregularities, and money laundering rackets going on at HSBC and this video shows how the baby faced David Cameron, the British and American governments, and the BBC were also involved in the cover-up - 'too big to fail, too big to jail.'

This video and Nicholas Wilson site called, Mr Ethical, seems shows that a significant section the British ruling elite are steeped in this sort of crime and that capitalism is not how they made most of their money. The sordid world of £Billions of arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the BBC and British newspaper cover-ups, the British financial regulators and the British justice system complicity - well, it's all here. But also, how the UK Guardian was involved in the massive cover-up as well because the HSBC is its biggest advertising customer. And the Guardian's top left wing reporter, Owen Jones - who supported Jeremy Corbyn for a while then spectacularly turned against him - was also found covering up for HSBC bank.

Amber Rudd shuts down Nicholas Wilson's speech about HSBC and Saudi Arabia

At a hustings in Rye on 3 June, where I was standing as an independent anti-corruption parliamentary candidate, a question was asked about law & order. Home Secretary Amber Rudd, in answering it referred to the Manchester terrorist attack. I took up the theme and referred to HSBC business in Saudi Arabia. It is widely thought she was censoring me for discussing arms sales to Saudi. But if you watch carefully she starts to move to write her note at my mention of HSBC and before I have mentioned Saudi Arabia.

Nicholas Wilson: Mr Ethical - Whistle-blower and anti-corruption campaigner

Zero Hedge — China Unveils Plan To Combat Trump Tax Reform: “We’ll Have Tough Battles"

China needs a quick injection of MMT. Follow Russia's lead and float that sucker.

Zero Hedge
China Unveils Plan To Combat Trump Tax Reform: “We’ll Have Tough Battles"
Tyler Durden

China Daily — High-quality growth will be key word in top economic meeting, say experts

The GDP growth target for next year might be set at 6.5 percent amid China's transition from high-speed growth to high-quality growth, Securities Daily reported Monday, citing a partner with Ruihua Certified Public Accountants....

Jiang Chao, chief economist with Haitong Securities, said that high-quality growth means that high-speed growth will not be a goal anymore and the target for economic growth rate in 2018 will still be downplayed and the country will not go back to investment-driven growth.

High-quality growth will be key word in top economic meeting, say experts
China Daily

Zero Hedge — Treasury Forecasts Tax Reform Will Lead To Longest Period Without Recession In History

That's quite a crystal ball they got there at Treasury.

It is unclear what is more ridiculous: that the propose gift to corporations will not only pay for itself but lead to a perpetual engine of trickle-down economic growth, one which has been refuted in every single instance in history, or that the Treasury expects the US economy to continue for another decade without a recession, which in 2027 result in an 18 year period of continuous growth since the last official recession ended in 2009, the longest period without a recession in history.  

ZH gets this right, but the rest of the post is not worth reading.

Zero Hedge
Treasury Forecasts Tax Reform Will Lead To Longest Period Without Recession In History
Tyler Durden

Jarrett Lyons — The birther blemish: Republicans still think Barack Obama was born in Kenya

The fact that Donald Trump built his political reputation on the lie that Barack Obama was born in Kenya should have been a tip-off to this, but here we are.… 
“I don't think I went overboard,” Trump said in 2013. “Actually, I think it made me very popular. . . . I do think I know what I'm doing.”
The birther blemish: Republicans still think Barack Obama was born in Kenya
Jarrett Lyons

James Petras — Rise and Decline of the Welfare State: Class Struggle and Imperial Wars as the Motor Force of US History


The American welfare state was created in 1935 and continued to develop through 1973. Since then, over a prolonged period, the capitalist class has been steadily dismantling the entire welfare state.

Between the mid 1970’s to the present (2017) labor laws, welfare rights and bene ts and the construction of and subsidies for a ordable housing have been gutted. ‘Workfare’ (under President ‘Bill’ Clinton) ended welfare for the poor and displaced workers. Meanwhile the shift to regressive taxation and the steadily declining real wages have increased corporate pro ts to an astronomical degree.

What started as incremental reversals during the 1990’s under Clinton has snowballed over the last two decades decimating welfare legislation and institutions.

The earlier welfare ‘reforms’ and the current anti-welfare legislation and austerity practices have been accompanied by a series of endless imperial wars, especially in the Middle East.

In the 1940’s through the 1960’s, world and regional wars (Korea and Indo-China) were combined with signi cant welfare program – a form of ‘social imperialism’, which ‘buy o ’ the working class while expanding the empire. However, recent decades are characterized by multiple regional wars and the reduction or elimination of welfare programs – and a massive growth in poverty, domestic insecurity and poor health…. 
Good historical summary, but glosses over the bipartisan political corruption behind it.

James Petras Website
Rise and Decline of the Welfare State: Class Struggle and Imperial Wars as the Motor Force of US History
James Petras | Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University in Binghamton, New York and adjunct professor at Saint Mary's University, Halifax, Nova Scotia

America’s homeless population has risen this year for the first time since the Great Recession, propelled by the housing crisis afflicting the west coast, according to a new federal study.
The study has found that 553,742 people were homeless on a single night this year, a 0.7% increase over last year.
The Guardian
America's Homeless Population Rises for the First Time Since the Great Recession
Alastair Gee

TTG — Waiting for the punch in the mouth

Back in 1987 a reporter interviewed Mike Tyson about his upcoming fight with Evander Holyfield. The reporter asked Mike if he was worried about Evander and his fight plan. Mike famously replied,”Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” That thought came to mind when I read the latest plan articulated by a Pentagon spokesman for our military forces in eastern Syria....
Sic Semper Tyrannis
Waiting for the punch in the mouth

The immediate consequence of Trump’s action is that the US becomes weaker because it has carried out another initiative of which the rest of the world disapproves. A superpower at the height of its strength might get away with such a demarche, but not a politically divided US, its influence already ebbing because of failures in Iraq and Afghanistan. The move is so obviously against US foreign policy interests that it will further persuade other world leaders that Trump is an impossible ally.
The move could have other dangerous consequences. There is a myth that the Israeli-Palestinian struggle was not an issue that concerned Osama bin Laden or played a role in the rise of al-Qaeda. In fact, bin Laden’s speeches and writings are full of references to the Palestinians – and his first public utterances in the 1980s were calls for a boycott of American goods because of its backing for Israel.…
Up to now the biggest change in US policy in the region has been the effort to end Obama’s détente with Iran and build up an anti-Iranian coalition. This will now become a more difficult job.…
The recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital will make it easier for Tehran to call for all Muslims, Shia and Sunni, to stand together in defence of the Palestinians and the holy sites. It will make it more difficult, though not impossible, for Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies to act with the US, move closer to Israel and portray Iran as the greatest threat in the region.
There is a broader consequence of the switch in US policy: there are some 1.5 billion Muslims in the world who are the majority in some 50 states and make up 22 per cent of the world’s population. None of them will be pleased by Trump’s latest action. The population of many of these countries, including some of the largest such as Turkey (80 million) and Pakistan (193 million), were already very anti-American before the Trump presidency. In 2012, polls showed that 74 per cent of Pakistanis considered the US as an enemy. Even this high figure is surpassed by Turkey where 82 per cent said this summer that they had an unfavourable view of the US. Divided about everything else, Turks agree on their dislike of the US, which will again make it more difficult for the US to act against Iran.…
By recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Trump and Israel may have broken a political rule which says it is dangerous to mess with de facto situations others have informally come to accept. Doing so can have unexpectedly disastrous consequences....
Trump’s Jerusalem Decision Risks Uniting the Entire Arab World Against the US

Stockman: Why the Deep State Is at War With Trump

David Stockman is a lot better at analyzing politics than economics. He presents the case against Russiagate and shows how it is based on the politicization of intelligence and fake news reverberating in the media echo chamber. It is joining Paul Craig Roberts and Pat Buchanan as an establishment "turncoat."
"the Deep State has turned its own crimes during and after the 2016 election into nothing less than a coup d'etat against American democracy"
Russia Insider
Stockman: Why the Deep State Is at War With Trump
David Stockman

Jeremy Corbyn — The Corbyn Doctrine

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn addressed United Nations officials in Geneva this Friday in a speech outlining his vision for a twenty-first century internationalism.
The speech, scheduled to mark International Human Rights Day, examined the roots of global economic inequality, the developing climate crisis and the impact of war across the world. These “threats to our common humanity,” it argues, can only be overcome with “a global rules-based system that applies to all and works for the many, not the few.”
Quoting from late socialist leaders Salvador Allende and Thomas Sankara, Corbyn offers a blueprint for a fundamentally different world order based on international cooperation and solidarity.
The speech is reproduced below in full.
A shot across the bow of neoliberalism and Thatcher's TINA ("there is no alternative").
There is an alternative to this damaging and bankrupt order. The world’s largest corporations and banks cannot be left to write the rules and rig the system for themselves. The world’s economy can and must deliver for the common good and the majority of its people. But that is going to demand real and fundamental structural change on an international level.
Awesome speech. American progressives should familiarize themselves with it.

The Corbyn Doctrine
Jeremy Corbyn

See also
Have you heard of SLAPP lawsuits? You soon will.
SLAPP stands for “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation.” It is a lawsuit brought by big corporations intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the overwhelming costs of a legal defense until they’re forced to abandon their criticism or opposition. And it may be the biggest threat to the resistance you’ve never heard of.
The Evil Empire strikes again.

Robert Reich Reveals the Biggest Threat to American Democracy You've Never Heard Of
Emily Ludolf, Occupy.com | News Analysis

Tom Holland — Why Bitcoin Fever Is a Bubble Waiting to Burst

Optimism is high with the price of the cryptocurrency up 1,438 per cent over the past 12 months, but the very factor enthusiasts like most about bitcoin is also one of its biggest drawbacks.…

Enthusiasts like bitcoins because their supply is limited. The pace at which bitcoin “miners” can create new units automatically declines over time, with the maximum possible number of bitcoins fixed at 21 million. To converts, that limit means that bitcoins, unlike the fiat currencies issued by the world’s central banks, can never be debased by governments intent on printing as much money as it takes to pay off their debts.

Yet despite their scarcity, bitcoins possess no intrinsic value. Unlike hard commodities – copper, say, or even gold – bitcoins have no utility value. And unlike securities such as bonds or stocks, bitcoins do not carry the promise of a future cash flow that allows investors to put a hard figure on their value today.
Bitcoin enthusiasts argue that much the same can be said for fiat currencies. With interest rates around the world close to zero or even negative, conventional currencies also offer no income streams, and hence carry no real value. They are nothing more than an illusion, a confidence trick perpetrated by cynical governments on their gullible populations.
But that argument misses a crucial point. Fiat currencies do have an inherent value. The US dollar, for example, has value because the US government insists that Americans must pay their taxes in US dollars. And if they fail to pay their taxes, the US government will send them to jail (unless, of course, they are rich enough to employ expensive accountants and lawyers to devise legal tax dodges). That threat creates an underlying demand for US dollars which lends the currency a real value....
Chartalism rules!

More in the full article.

South China Morning Post
Why Bitcoin Fever Is a Bubble Waiting to Burst
Tom Holland

The issue is the numeraire that connects financial instruments/assets to non-financial assets/goods. A currency cannot be a numeraire. There are various choices of numeraire. This post argues for gold based on the historical norm. Another is a unit of labor, such as the JG compensation for an hour of unskilled labor (work without addition of "human capital"). Another is a unity of energy such as a barrel of oil (energy source) or a kilowatt hour (standard of energy output).

Gold is very useful since it has a long track record as the numeraire and many people use it in their analysis. However, labor and energy are more relevant economically. In addition, those that argue that gold is a "money" and also champion gold as the numeraire are contradicting themselves.

Anyway, the post is worth reading about a numeraire as a standard of measurement.

Zero Hedge
Bitcoin Hyper-Deflation, Gold and Silver Report 10 Dec 2017
Tyler Durden

Unlike tangible gold and silver, digital currencies haven't had hundreds of years to prove their durability.
Justin Fox doesn't seem to have heard of taxation driving currency. But otherwise interesting.

Bloomberg View
What's the Value of Bitcoin? Who Knows
Justin Fox


If there is increased efficiency and lower transaction cost, this will happen.

Russia May Turn To Oil-Backed Cryptocurrency To Challenge Sanctions & The Petrodollar


Russia Insider
Russia May Join Venezuela with an Oil Cryptocurrency
Tom Luongo


Ars Technica
Bitcoin fees are skyrocketing
Timothy B. Lee

George Monbiot — Mass starvation is humanity’s fate if we keep flogging the land to death

What happens when land is consolidated with capital as a factor and the objective is maximizing profit short-term.

The Guardian
Mass starvation is humanity’s fate if we keep flogging the land to death
George Monbiot

See also

Principles of Political Economy: The opening lines
Steve Keen

Shimshon Bichler and Jonathan Nitzan — Profit warning: there will be blood

As we show in our recent research note ‘Blood and Oil in the Orient, Redux (2017)’, the Weapondollar-Petrodollar Coalition might no longer be in the Middle East driver’s seat. However, with the oil and armament companies, the region’s oil-exporting autocracies and various non-state groups all keen on seeing their oil incomes rise from record lows, the prospects of a new energy conflict, whether premeditated or coincidental, seem extremely high.
More evidence suggestive that economics drives politics.

Real-World Economics Review Blog
Profit warning: there will be blood
Shimshon Bichler and Jonathan Nitzan

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Bill Mitchell — British Tories reject the ‘free market’ neoliberal myth

The conservatives in the British Labour Party are obviously worried. The UK Guardian article (December 2, 2017) – Labour faces subversion by Momentum and far left, says Roy Hattersley – reports the claim by former Deputy leader, Roy Hattersley that British Labour is “facing the biggest crisis in its history” because left-wingers are engaged “in a systematic takeover of the party”. Gosh. Sounds shocking. A traditionally left-wing political party slowly wresting it back to mission after being hijacked by the right-wing, neoliberal Blairites. That sounds like Armageddon. The Blairites tried to kill off Jeremy Corbyn several times as they continued to undermine him in the public eye and bleated about how he was going to destroy the Labour Party. They then fell silent when he nearly delivered the Party government in the recent national election and saved many of their jobs. Now, with a by-election in Watford, the conservatives are back to it although it has to be said that Hattersley cannot be called a Blairite. He represents the pre-Blairite right-wingers who backed Dennis Healey as he imposed Monetarist ideology on the Party in the mid-1970s. And this article came out soon after the Tory government announced a major ‘socialist’-style industrial plan. In its press release (November 27, 2017) – Government unveils Industrial Strategy to boost productivity and earning power of people across the UK we learn that the Tories are finally understanding that it can actually improve the fortunes of British workers
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
British Tories reject the ‘free market’ neoliberal myth
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity 
(CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Kai-Fu Lee and Jonathan Woetzel — Dynamism by design: China as digital giant

China has firmly established itself as a global leader in consumer-oriented digital technologies. It is the world’s largest e-commerce market, accounting for more than 40% of global transactions, and ranks among the top three countries for venture capital investment in autonomous vehicles, 3D printing, robotics, drones, and artificial intelligence (AI). One in three of the world’s unicorns (start-ups valued at more than US$1 billion) is Chinese, and the country’s cloud providers hold the world record for computing efficiency. While China runs a trade deficit in services overall, it has lately been running a trade surplus in digital services of up to US$15 billion per year....
Interesting read. Chinese entrepreneurs are on a roll.

Most people in the West don't realize this yet, but US tech giants like Google, Apple, and Amazon are getting some real competition from Chinese dragons like Alibaba, Baidu, and Tencent. China is taking its place along side of Japan and South Korea as a tech powerhouse and owning to its size is beginning to dwarfs the US, which has only a third of the population of China even though it one of the world's most populous countries.

The EU was political and economic alliance designed to combing the population of Europe, which is comparable to the size of the US. But the US (325 million) and Europe (510 million) added together (835 million) doesn't come close to matching China in population (1.4 billion).

Change in GDP tracks population and development. As China continues to develop, it is pulling away from the pack, already exceeding the US on a PPP basis. China is also committed politically to taking distribution effects into account and addressing asymmetries, while the West is not and instead of largely ignoring the increasing economic asymmetry.

I am reminded of Japan after WWII as it started to rebuild and come back on line. I am old enough to remember the poor reputation of Japanese goods and the lack of market power as a result. But the Sixties that was a thing of the past and not long after, Japanese companies began to dominate in electronic and then automobile manufacturing with the high-quality products Japan is now famous for.

Asia Times
Dynamism by design: China as digital giant
Kai-Fu Lee, co-founder and CEO of Sinovation Ventures, a leading venture capital firm investing in China and North America, and Jonathan Woetzel, Shanghai-based senior partner of McKinsey & Company and a director of the McKinsey Global Institute

Barkley Rosser — The End Of The "Islamic State."

Barkley Rosen explained how the US papers of record, the New York Times and the Washington Post, not only got it wrong but also imposed their view on the media echo chamber based on their authoritative position as papers of record.

The End Of The "Islamic State."
J. Barkley Rosser | Professor of Economics and Business Administration James Madison University

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Scroll.in — India heading towards civil war, riots have entered home, says Kanhaiya Kumar

India appears to be more divided than the US. There is also an economic component to it.

India heading towards civil war, riots have entered home, says Kanhaiya Kumar

Kori Schake — The North Korea Debate Sounds Eerily Familiar

Trump’s national-security officials are making many of the same arguments Bush’s did in 2003....
When you lose The Atlantic....

The Atlantic
The North Korea Debate Sounds Eerily Familiar
Kori Schake, fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University

The Trump administration is preparing to roll out its new National Security Strategy, a document meant to guide its national security policies. Yet a Trump administration staffer who reviewed a draft of the document—and shared key excerpts with me—describes it as “divorced from the reality” of Trump’s presidency. (This person requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the document before its release.) A few classically Trumpian themes are there—the wall, concern over trade imbalances—but much of the document reflects the values and priorities of the president’s predecessors….
Trump's National Security Strategy is Decidedly Non-Trumpian
Kate Brannen | Deputy Managing Editor of Just Security, Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council, Former Senior Reporter covering the Pentagon for Foreign Policy

Morgan Strong - Armageddon: Pence, Israel and the Evangelicals

I don't want to worry you guys, but...

On Monday, Vice President Mike Pence delivers the keynote speech at the annual summit of Christians United for Israel.
Pence once again pledged that the Trump administration would move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, this time to Christian supporters of Israel who have become increasingly restive at President Donald Trump’s failure to make good on his campaign promised for Israel — signaling what some see as a new ideological shift for the White House.
Pence is a willing, servile foil to Trump, but his wife Karen is not amused (The Atlantic, Jan/Feb 2018) “She finds him reprehensible—just totally vile,” a campaign aide said.
When the United States recognized the capital of Israel to be Jerusalem we do so, at least in part, to summon the Messiah and begin preparation for the battle at Armageddon. That is what the Christian Zionists believe, and have relentlessly demanded of the administration. Armageddon is to be the final battle to rid the world of all non-Christians Zionists. The bible tells us Jesus will be back to fix it all.
The Moslems, the Jews, the Buddhists, the Hindus, the Shintos, the Animists, the Voodooists, the Catholics, agnostics, and atheists,  et al, will be converted to the Christian Zionists legions of the Lord, The Messiah, Jesus Christ will prevail and undo all evil that now befalls us.
But first they believe ancient Israel must be made whole and unencumbered by Moslem heretics in order to fulfill the biblical prophecy of Christ’s return to earth.
Once the land of Israel is made whole and pure, a series of cataclysmic events, yet to be discovered, will ensure the second coming. That second coming however does not bode well for the Israeli’s according to the Christian Zionist liturgy. Israel will sadly be no more. Israel will be destroyed during this apocalypse. Jesus distressed that the Jews did not regard him as the Messiah will kill all Jews who refuse to convert to Christianity, or more precisely Christian Zionism. Jesus it seems is not one to turn the other cheek when slighted.
If you believe otherwise, if you believe that Biblical prophesies as interpreted by the Christian Zionists are lunacy, you are in the helpless majority. Because the Christian right has extraordinary influence in the administration of President Trump and Mike Pence. Pence is one of their number. He does not attempt to hide this; he is quite deliberate in his public discussions of his re-birth, and his salvation. He was saved from a life of excess, it seems, when he embraced the rigorous teachings of the Christian Zionists. Or perhaps he realized that an Irish Catholic in Indiana did not have a chance in hell to win an election.
The Christian Zionists managed, through the positioning of Mike Pence in the White House an incredible measure of influence over perhaps the most powerful nation on this earth. They believe that only the apocalypse will purify the souls of the heretics, and the United States shall be that instrument which brings forth God’s wrath. The great resources, the military might, of the United States is part of the divine plan to bring the Apocalypse upon us.

Zaida Green - Google hiring 10,000 reviewers to censor YouTube content

We've always been told that the West is the bastion of free speech. 

Google is escalating its campaign of internet censorship, announcing that it will expand its workforce of human censors to over 10,000, the internet giant announced on December 4. The censors’ primary focus will be videos and other content on YouTube, its video-sharing platform, but will work across Google to censor content and train its automated systems, which remove videos at a rate four times faster than its human employees.

Human censors have already reviewed over 2 million videos since June. YouTube has already removed over 150,000 videos, 50 percent of which were removed within two hours of upload. The company is working to accelerate the rate of takedown through machine-learning from manual censorship, according to YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki in an official blog post.

World Socialist Web Site 

Zaida Green - Google hiring 10,000 reviewers to censor YouTube content

The Holberg Debate 2017: "Propaganda, Facts and Fake News" with J. Assange, J. Pilger & J. Heawood

It's 2:40 long.

At the 2017 Holberg Debate, Julian Assange, John Pilger and Jonathan Heawood discussed the presence of propaganda in news and social media, and its democratic implications. About 00:11:00 Julian Assange About 00:56:00 Questions for Julian Assange About 01:19:00 Jonathan Heawood About 01:43:00 John Pilger About 02:17:11 Las Q&A Session Is there an escalating war of information that is threatening our democracy and our ability to make informed decisions? The event took place at the University of Bergen, Norway, on December 2nd, 2017. About the speakers: Julian Assange joins the panel via videolink. Assange is an award-winning journalist and the founder and editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks. He is also a programmer, cryptographer, author and activist. Founded in 2006, WikiLeaks has published millions of leaked documents and several videos. This includes logs that relate to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the controversial “Collateral Murder” video from Iraq, U.S. diplomatic cables, and election campaign related e-mails from the Democratic National Committee and from Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, John Podesta. Jonathan Heawood is the CEO and founder of IMPRESS, the only press regulator to be recognised as independent and effective under the Royal Charter in the United Kingdom. He has previously worked as a journalist and human rights campaigner, and he is a former director of English PEN. Heawood has written on free speech and regulation for various publications, including The Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century Fiction, Critical Quarterly, Journal of Media Law, Ethical Space and Communications Law. John Pilger is an Australian journalist, author and documentary film-maker. Pilger has covered military, political and cultural conflicts around the world for more than five decades, and his criticism of American, Australian and British foreign policy is strongly reflected his documentaries and writings. He worked at the Daily Mirror from 1963 to 1986 and wrote a regular column for the New Statesman magazine from 1991 to 2014. Pilger has won numerous awards as a journalist and film-maker, and he is one of only two people to win British journalism’s highest award twice. The Holberg Debate 2017 is a collaboration between the Holberg Prize, the Fritt Ord Foundation and Norwegian PEN (Western Norway).

Satoshi Nakamoto: The Bitcoin Legend

In 2009  Satoshi Nakamoto put out his research paper on Bitcoin and the software engineers and cryptologists who studied it said it was bullet proof, but in 2011 he vanished into thin air saying he had other interests to pursue and his Bitcoin wallet has been untouched ever since which is now worth $4 Billion. Maybe he isn't bothered because he knows that in a few years time it would have doubled, and then later, double again in value, but I would have thought it would be worth at least cashing in a $Billion of it to make sure you have it in the bag (or bank, rather), but thinking about it, maybe it's safer in Bitcoin.

Some conspiracy theorists believe that Satoshi Nakamoto never existed and the CIA invented Bitcoin to smuggle drugs around the world. Anyway, a number of people have been put forward as the inventor behind Bitcoin, including a Japanese physicist whose birth name is Satoshi Nakamoto who works in California, but all have denied being the founder of bitcoin.  The scientist and businessman, Craig Wright, says he is the inventer of Bitcoin but he has been written off as a scam artist.

In January 2009, a fairly unknown name — Satoshi Nakamoto, became synonymous with a phenomenon. This name took the world by storm with the creation of what is now the most globally successful cryptocurrency. You guessed it right! We are talking about the ‘Original Bitcoin Client’, or Bitcoin — which had now been implemented as open source for the world to use. In 2011, subsequent to finishing what he set out to create and accomplish, he vanished in the endless and everlasting world of Internet.
The Satoshi Impact
Satoshi Nakamoto, the pioneer of digital money and the incredible unknown maker of Bitcoin, is a big mystery inside and outside of the Bitcoin community. In 2008, he distributed a paper (Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System), which depicted the utilization and points of interest of the shared system. He proposed a decentralized cash which at last brought about the formation of the blockchain.
While he was working in the beginning periods of Bitcoin programming in 2009, correspondence was done electronically. The absence of data made it difficult to discover the character of Nakamoto. In 2011, he vanished into thin air.
It is accepted under his control, the market capitalization of Bitcoin crossed $1 billion by 2013. His personality is a vital inquiry as he holds a staggering $4 billion worth of Bitcoins in his wallet at today’s exchange rate. These coins remain untouched, and his wallet remains idle. Nakamoto truly seems to have left the bitcoin world.
While it has been impossible till date to know the real identity of the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto, his name’s significance in Japanese is very intriguing. ‘Satoshi’ means “clear thinking; wise”. ‘Naka’ means “medium, inside, or relationship”. “Moto” means “origin”. Nobody on record knows for sure if he is of Japanese origin but the world is inclined towards believing this.
Over the past decade, many people have been speculated to be the real Nakamoto. Who do you think it is?
In the article below are a list of people who are thought could be the inventor of Bitcoin

How Hayek’s Evolutionary Theory Disproves His Politics — David Sloan Wilson interviews Sam Bowles

As an evolutionist critiquing the field of economics, I felt like a disciplinary outsider until I encountered the work of Friedrich Hayek. The Austrian economist was himself critical of Walrasian general equilibrium theory and proposed a radical alternative: Economic systems are a form of distributed intelligence that evolved by cultural group selection. They work without having been designed by anyone.
That was my area of expertise. I had to admire Hayek as a pioneer, especially since group selection was a heresy and the study of human cultural evolution was in its infancy when he wrote. Nevertheless, both topics have advanced by leaps and bounds since then and do not support his view that economic systems work best in the absence of regulations. Instead, cultural group selection theory points to a middle road between laissez faire and centralized planning that is rich with possibilities.
More recently, three distinguished economists—Samuel Bowles, Alan Kirman, and Rajiv Sethi–have made their own assessment in a retrospective titled Friedrich Hayek and the Market Algorithm published in the Journal of Economic Perspectives. 
How Hayek’s Evolutionary Theory Disproves His Politics
David Sloan Wilson interviews Sam Bowles

Dan Crawford — Americans and debt…

Employment opportunities at debt collection agencies.

Should drive up alcohol and drug sales, too.

Angry Bear
Americans and debt…
Dan Crawford

Brian Romanchuk — Bitcoin As A Vindication Of Mainstream Monetary Economics!

Say what you want about the backers of Bitcoin, they managed to create a currency unit that acts in the insane fashion that matches the way money works in mainstream economic models. For anyone with any attachment to reality, it offers a very good real world explanation why the DSGE approach to economics is inherently useless. It is an extremely safe bet that this lesson will be completely missed by the mainstream economics profession....
Bond Economics
Bitcoin As A Vindication Of Mainstream Monetary Economics!
Brian Romanchuk

MUST-READ Gilbert Doctorow — Speech to The National Press Club, Washington, D.C., 7 December 2017


Une parole franche
Speech to The National Press Club, Washington, D.C., 7 December 2017
Gilbert Doctorow | European Coordinator of The American Committee for East West Accord Ltd.

Glenn Greenwald — The U.S. Media Yesterday Suffered its Most Humiliating Debacle in Ages: Now Refuses All Transparency Over What Happened

Just a tip of the iceberg. We're all "shocked, shocked, shocked" that the US media would do such a thing.

As I tell my many friends who know I watch this stuff, if you can't be sure what is true and what is not, don't believe any of it.

The Intercept
The U.S. Media Yesterday Suffered its Most Humiliating Debacle in Ages: Now Refuses All Transparency Over What Happened
Glenn Greenwald

See also
Having been on the receiving end of three "fake news" stories in the past week, betwee the ABC Flynn debacle, the Bloomberg Deutsche Bank subpoena, and now CNN, Trump demanded that CNN fire "those responsible," and commented that an ABC reporter who was suspended for a separate erroneous report should be fired as well.…
However, despite Trump's demands a CNN spokesperson said there will not be disciplinary action against the reporter involved, because the reporter used multiple verified sources, following CNN's editorial process.…
Just how does one "verify" a falsity? Oh wait, this is the US media after all.

Zero Hedge
Trump Lashes Out At "Fake News" CNN For "Vicious And Purposeful" Mistake, Demands Terminations
Tyler Durden

Joaquin Flores — OFFICIAL: US and Russian Air Forces engaged in Syria, US acts as ISIS' air force

And so it begins.

Fort Russ
OFFICIAL: US and Russian Air Forces engaged in Syria, US acts as ISIS' air force
Joaquin Flores


Moon of Alabama
Syria - ISIS Is Defeated - The U.S. Is Next In Line
KtovKurse - translated by Inessa Sinchougova


Debunking British intelligence propagandist Bellingcat (Elliot Higgins).

Dolphin hunting in LuganskPaul Robinson | Professor, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa

Huge rally in European bank stocks

Bank regulatory parameters matter both pro and con...

The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision on Dec. 7 issued new rules on how banks estimate the risk of mortgages, loans and other assets. The compromise, reached after fierce lobbying by the industry, will cause “no significant increase” of overall capital requirements, the regulator said. For some big banks, capital demands will actually decline.

 The "stability creates instability!" morons don't understand this.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Emily C. Bell — Millennials and Capitalism Just Don't Mix

Data show rising dissatisfaction with economic status quo.
The millennial generation is the largest demographically, and it is poised to begin taking over power as the boomers start fading.

Millennials and Capitalism Just Don't Mix
Emily C. Bell

Asia Times — Erik Prince’s plan for Afghanistan’s rare metals revealed

Leaked pitch to Trump administration warns of China’s goal to control key tech resource
Resources wars?

Michael Hudson - Cheat, Lie & Steal: Michael Hudson on the Capitalist Way

Nothing new here for most of you guys but go to 1:50 where Michael Hudson had me laughing my head off. And it is a good interview too.

We’re living in a time of economic babble, where politicians and economists throw out words like “reform,” “privatize,” and “austerity” to prop up corrupt capitalist opportunists. So says our guest this week, economist Michael Hudson, author of J is for Junk Economics.

Elsa B. Kania — China Is On a Whole-of-Nation Push for AI. The US Must Match It

The prize.

Defense One
China Is On a Whole-of-Nation Push for AI. The US Must Match It
Elsa B. Kania | Adjunct Fellow With the Technology and National Security Program at CNAS (Center for a New American Security)

See also

Putin and Musk are right: Whoever masters AI will run the world
Gregory C. Allen | Adjunct Fellow at the Center for a New American Security

Ted Nace - State of Fear: How History’s Deadliest Bombing Campaign Created Today’s Crisis in Korea

Although I knew of most of what is written below but this article still deeply shocked me. The US fire bombing of north Korea is an evil beyond evil and how people could do something so awful to other people is terrifying indeed. But the evil doers of these crimes have gotten away with it as the media whitewashes it out of history. 

As the world watches with mounting concern the growing tensions and bellicose rhetoric between the United States and North Korea, one of the most remarkable aspects of the situation is the absence of any public acknowledgement of the underlying reason for North Korean fears—or, as termed by United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, “state of paranoia”—namely, the horrific firebombing campaign waged by the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War and the unprecedented death toll that resulted from that bombing.
Although the full facts will never be known, the available evidence points toward the conclusion that the firebombing of North Korea’s cities, towns, and villages produced more civilian deaths than any other bombing campaign in history.
Historian Bruce Cumings describes the bombing campaign as “probably one of the worst episodes of unrestrained American violence against another people, but it’s certainly the one that the fewest Americans know about.”
In May 1951, an international fact-finding team stated, “The members, in the whole course of their journey, did not see one town that had not been destroyed, and there were very few undamaged villages.”
On June 25, 1951, General O’Donnell, commander of the Far Eastern Air Force Bomber Command, testified in answer to a question from Senator Stennis (“…North Korea has been virtually destroyed, hasn’t it?):
“Oh, yes; … I would say that the entire, almost the entire Korean Peninsula is just a terrible mess. Everything is destroyed. There is nothing standing worthy of the name … Just before the Chinese came in we were grounded. There were no more targets in Korea.”
In August 1951, war correspondent Tibor Meray stated that he had witnessed “a complete devastation between the Yalu River and the capital.” He said that there were “no more cities in North Korea.” He added, “My impression was that I am traveling on the moon because there was only devastation…. [E]very city was a collection of chimneys.”
Several factors combined to intensify the deadliness of the firebombing attacks. As had been learned in World War II, incendiary attacks could devastate cities with incredible speed: the Royal Air Force’s firebombing attack on Würzburg, Germany, in the closing months of World War II had required only 20 minutes to envelop the city in a firestorm with temperatures estimated at 1500–2000°C.
A third deadly factor was the extensive use of napalm. Developed at Harvard University in 1942, the sticky, flammable substance was first used in War War II. It became a key weapon during the Korean War, in which 32,557 tons were used, under a logic that historian Bruce Cumings characterized: “They are savages, so that gives us the right to shower napalm on innocents.” Long after the war, Cumings describedan encounter with one aging survivor:
“On a street corner stood a man (I think it was a man or a woman with broad shoulders) who had a peculiar purple crust on every visible part of his skin—thick on his hands, thin on his arms, fully covering his entire head and face. He was bald, he had no ears or lips, and his eyes, lacking lids, were a grayish white, with no pupils…. [T]his purplish crust resulted from a drenching with napalm, after which the untreated victim’s body was left to somehow cure itself.”


Ted Nace - State of Fear: How History’s Deadliest Bombing Campaign Created Today’s Crisis in Korea

Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan - The Doomsday Machine in Donald Trump's Hands

In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg released the Pentagon Papers, thousands of pages of the Pentagon’s secret history of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, exposing the government’s lies and helping to end the war. President Richard Nixon’s national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, called Ellsberg “the most dangerous man in America.”
Now at 86 years old, Ellsberg is revealing for the first time that the Pentagon Papers were not the first classified documents that he removed from his secure workplace. In his new book, “The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner,” he details his early years at the Pentagon, and why he took thousands of pages of U.S. nuclear war plans describing the lunacy of the U.S. nuclear war policy over 55 years ago. What he discovered is frighteningly relevant today.
Last July 20 at the Pentagon, President Donald Trump reportedly shocked the military staff gathered to brief him on national security issues by suggesting he wanted to increase the nuclear arsenal tenfold. It was after that meeting that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is said to have called Trump a “f-ing moron.” In August, NBC’s Joe Scarborough, citing an unnamed source, said Trump asked a foreign-policy adviser about using nuclear weapons. Scarborough said: “Three times [Trump] asked about the use of nuclear weapons. Three times he asked at one point if we had them why can’t we use them?” For over 70 years, the president has held the enormous power to launch nuclear weapons, but only one has used it: Harry Truman, ordering the dropping of two atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, killing hundreds of thousands of people. Trump, who seems to relish saber rattling and antagonizing opponents like the supreme leader of nuclear-armed North Korea, Kim Jong Un, may be pushing us to the brink of nuclear war.
Describing President Dwight Eisenhower’s nuclear war plans, which Ellsberg was tasked with improving in the early months of the Kennedy administration, the whistleblower told us on the “Democracy Now!” news hour: “They were insane. They called for first-strike, all-out war … for hitting every city — actually, every town over 25,000 — in the USSR and every city in China. … The captive nations, the East Europe satellites in the Warsaw Pact, were to be hit in their air defenses, which were all near cities, their transport points, their communications of any kind. So they were to be annihilated as well.”
Ellsberg recalled how, in 1961, the Joint Chiefs of Staff matter-of-factly predicted casualties of over 600 million people globally, when the world population was only 3 billion. “Six hundred million, that was a hundred Holocausts. And when I held the piece of paper in my hand that had that figure, that they had sent out proudly, to the president — ‘Here’s what we will do’ — I thought, ‘This is the most evil plan that has ever existed. It’s insane.'”
Ellsberg was summoned to the Pentagon to help manage the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, considered the closest humanity has come to nuclear annihilation. His personal experience there informs his opinion on Trump’s antagonism toward North Korea. The nuclear arsenals of both countries, he says, are “being pointed by two people who are giving very good imitations of being crazy. That’s dangerous. I hope they’re pretending. … But to pretend to be crazy with nuclear weapons is not a safe game. It’s a game of chicken. Nuclear chicken.”
Despite widespread concern with Trump’s mental stability, he remains in control of the world’s most powerful nuclear arsenal. He has promised to rain “fire and fury” on North Korea. U.S. Air Force Gen. John Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, who oversees the entire nuclear arsenal, assured the audience at a public forum in November that “we’re not stupid,” that he would reject an illegal order from Trump to launch a nuclear attack.
Not satisfied to leave the check on Trump to the generals, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations held a hearing Nov. 14 to consider changing the law to forbid the president, alone, from being able to launch a nuclear attack. Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, who has publicly stated his fear that Trump may start World War III, chaired the hearing. Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut summed up the hearing’s intent, saying, “We are concerned the president of the United States is so unstable, is so volatile, has a decision-making process that is so quixotic, that he might order a nuclear weapon strike that is wildly out of step with U.S. national security interests.”
We are closer to nuclear war than we have been in many decades, which is why Daniel Ellsberg’s example as a whistleblower and his call for people in government to expose current doomsday plans are more important than ever.