All posts by Mad Hemingway

Leading Antiwar Progressives Speak Favorably of Aspects of Trump’s Foreign Policy

Robert Barsocchini / John V. Walsh | June 23 2016 | Washington’s Blog

Until recently the progressive mind has been resolutely closed and stubbornly frozen in place against all things Trump.

But cracks are appearing in the ice.  With increasing frequency over the last few months some of the most thoughtful left and progressive figures have begun to speak favorably of aspects of Trump’s foreign policy. Let us hear from these heretics, among them William Greider, Glen Ford, John Pilger, Jean Bricmont,Stephen F. Cohen and William Blum.  Their words are not to be construed as “endorsements,” but rather an acknowledgement of Trump’s anti-interventionist views, the impact those views are having and the alternative he poses to Hillary Clinton in the current electoral contest.

First let’s consider the estimable William Greider, a regular contributor to The Nation and author of Secrets of the Temple.  He titled a recent article for the Nation, “Donald Trump Could be The Military Industrial Complex’s Worst Nightmare: The Republican Front Runner is Against Nation Building.  Imagine That.”

Greider’s article is brief, and I recommend reading every precious word of it.  Here is but one quote: “Trump has, in his usual unvarnished manner, kicked open the door to an important and fundamental foreign-policy debate.” And here is a passage from Trump’s interview with the Washington Post:

I watched as we built schools in Iraq and they’d be blown up,’ Trump told the editors.  ‘And we’d build another one and it would get blown up. And we would rebuild it three times. And yet we can’t build a school in Brooklyn.… at what point do you say hey, we have to take care of ourselves. So, you know, I know the outer world exists and I’ll be very cognizant of that but at the same time, our country is disintegrating, large sections of it, especially in the inner cities.

Continue reading Leading Antiwar Progressives Speak Favorably of Aspects of Trump’s Foreign Policy

Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her

Kshama Sawant | June 24 2016 | Counterpunch

Since the June 7 California primary, the historic upheaval that coalesced around Bernie Sanders’ campaign has continued to defy the demands of the political establishment, but has also increasingly turned into a search for the way forward. After a powerful, year-long mass campaign over the hostile terrain of a rigged primary, our political revolution is at a crossroads.

The post-California period began with a revolt, following the AP’s preemptive anointment of Clinton. In the hours and days after this corporate media assault and the initial ballot results, there was a wave of angry social media reaffirming Sandernistas’ rejection of the establishment’s demands for capitulation. Elizabeth Warren’s full-throated endorsement of Clinton came shortly thereafter, and hundreds of thousands of people un-liked her Facebook page and otherwise registered their disgust online. The petition that Movement4Bernie and I launched two months ago, calling for Sanders to run independent or Green, caught on fire. It tripled its number of signatures in just a few days time, at an initial rate of 1,000 people an hour, and now has over 115,000 total.

A huge debate is unfolding among millions of Bernie’s backers, providing an enormous opportunity for the left to raise the need for a political alternative to the Democratic Party. That’s why Movement4Bernie and Socialist Alternative are organizing a series of forums in dozens of cities across the country titled “Beyond Bernie: We Need a Party for the 99%.” These forums will both mobilize for the largest possible protests at the Democratic National Convention and create space for a broad-based debate on the way forward for the political revolution. My message at the events will be clear: If Bernie refuses to break from the Democratic Party, our movement should back Jill Stein as the strongest left alternative in the presidential election and use 2016 to prepare the ground for building a new movement-based political alternative.

Unfortunately, Bernie’s livestream speech a week after California pointed in a different direction. While Bernie refused to formally concede and reaffirmed his intention to continue the political revolution into the Democratic National Convention, he also sent the message that he was beginning to retire his campaign. His plan to contest the nomination in Philadelphia was left aside, while he took further steps toward Hillary in saying he looked forward to working with her to change the Democratic Party.

It was one part political revolution, one part concession, and five parts Democratic Party reform. Speeches by Bernie since then have further developed this changed approach. This has helped kick off a process that, no doubt, has some Sandernistas beginning to second guess their commitment to not support Wall Street’s favored candidate, Hillary Clinton.

But the rebellion is far from subdued. A Bloomberg Politics poll on June 14 showed that barely half of Sanders supporters are prepared to vote for Hillary.

Continue reading Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her

U.S. Economy is Shrinking: Unemployment Goes up, Wages Go Down, Living Standards Decline

Counterpunch | June 23 2016

The Slow Crash: When Global Economies are Run by Banks

I’m Bonnie Faulkner. Today on Guns and Butter, Dr. Michael Hudson. Today’s show: The Slow Crash. Dr. Hudson is a financial economist and historian. He is President of the Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trends, a Wall Street financial analyst and Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, as well as at Peking University. His 1972 book, Super-Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire, is a critique of how the United States exploited foreign economies through the IMF and World Bank. His latest book isKilling the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Destroy the Global Economy. Due out soon, “J Is for Junk Economics.” Today we discuss in detail the concept of debt deflation; housing, student loan and automobile debt; the oil market; the stock market; negative interest rates; currencies; and the shrinking real economy.

Bonnie Faulkner: Michael Hudson, welcome.

Michael Hudson: It’s good to be here again, Bonnie.

Bonnie Faulkner: You have indicated that as a result of United States and European debt deflation, there is an economic slowdown. First of all, how would you define deflation?

Michael Hudson: There are two definitions of deflation. Most people think of it simply as prices going down. But debt deflation is what happens when people have to spend more and more of their income to carry the debts that they’ve run up – to pay their mortgage debt, to pay the credit card debt, to pay student loans.

Today, people are having to spend so much of their money, to acquire a house and to get an education that they don’t have enough to spend on goods and services, except by running into yet more debt on their credit cards and other borrowings.

The result is that markets are slowing down. Deflation means a slowdown of income growth. Markets shrink, new capital investment and employment also taper off, so wages decline. That is what’s happening as deliberate policy in Europe and the United States. Falling or stagnant prices are simply the result of having less income to spend.

Bonnie Faulkner: Well, thank you for that, because that is confusing, because I think a lot of people consider deflation simply a decrease in price. Does that have anything to do with it?

Michael Hudson: The price decline is a result of having to pay debts. That drains income from the circular flow between production and consumption – that is, between what people are paid when they go to work, and the things that they buy. Deflation is a leakage from this circular flow, to pay banks and the real estate, called the FIRE sector – finance, insurance and real estate. These transfer payments leave less and less of the paycheck to be spent on goods and services, so markets shrink. Some prices for some products go down when people can’t afford to buy them anymore. There are more sales, there’s shrinkage, but especially incomes go down. Real incomes in the United States have been drifting down for 30 years because there is slower and slower market demand.

That’s why Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are getting so many votes. When Hillary Clinton said she’s going to do just what Obama does and we’re going to continue to recover, most people know that we’re not recovering at all. We’re shrinking.

Bonnie Faulkner: So then, deflation has more to do with disposable income than it does with prices.

Michael Hudson: That’s correct, and that’s what is rarely pointed out. People tend to think that paying a debt is like going out and buying a car, buying more food or buying more clothes. But it really isn’t. When you pay a debt to the bank, the banks use this money to lend out to somebody else or to yourself. The interest charges to carry this debt go up and up as debt grows. As you have to pay more interest and amortization on what you owe, you’re left with less and less money to buy goods and services – unless you borrow even more and go further into debt.

Continue reading U.S. Economy is Shrinking: Unemployment Goes up, Wages Go Down, Living Standards Decline

Woman chooses death over voting for Trump or Clinton

Richmond Times Dispatch, May 17 2016

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NOLAND, Mary Anne Alfriend.

Faced with the prospect of voting for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, Mary Anne Noland of Richmond chose, instead, to pass into the eternal love of God on Sunday, May 15, 2016, at the age of 68. Born in Danville, Va., Mary Anne was a graduate of Douglas Freeman High School (1966) and the University of Virginia School of Nursing (1970). A faithful child of God, Mary Anne devoted her life to sharing the love she received from Christ with all whose lives she touched as a wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, friend and nurse. Mary Anne was predeceased by her father, Kyle T. Alfriend Jr. and Esther G. Alfriend of Richmond. She is survived by her husband, Jim; sister, Esther; and brothers, Terry (Bonnie) and Mac (Carole). She was a mother to three sons, Jake (Stormy), Josh (Amy) and David (Katie); and she was “Grammy” to 10 beloved grandchildren. A visitation will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 17, at Trinity United Methodist Church, 903 Forest Ave., in Henrico. A memorial service will be held on Wednesday, May 18, 1 p.m., with a reception to follow, also at Trinity UMC. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to CARITAS, P.O. Box 25790, Richmond, Va. 23260 (www.caritasva.org).

The Willie Stark Strategy for Sanders Supporters

Ralph Lopez | June 18 2016 | Hubpages

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Robert Penn Warren, 1905 – 1989

The greatest political fiction classic in American literature is Robert Penn Warren’s “All the King’s Men,” hands down. Penn Warren was 41 when he published the novel, 13 years out of Yale and the Fugitives, a group of young Southern writers and poets who sought to bring Southern literature into modernity. Its members included Allen Tate. A full professor at Louisiana State, Warren won the Pulitzer for King’s Men in 1947.

In the book, loosely based on the career of Louisiana Governor Huey “Kingfish” Long, the main character, Willie Stark, is brutally betrayed by his own party. With nowhere to go, after deep introspection, Willie decides that the people he represents will continue to be ignored until they make their voice heard, in an unmistakable manner. He decides to throw his votes to his opponent, away from the very candidate his presence in a local race was designed to benefit. He was to be used as a vote-splitter, with no chance of winning. So was conceived one of the most famous passages in American literature.

“I’m resigning in favor of MacMurfee. By God, everything I’ve said about MacMurfee stands and I’ll say it again, but I’m going to stump this state for him. Me and the other hicks, we are going to kill Joe Harrison so dead he’ll never even run for dogcatcher in this state. Then we’ll see what MacMurfee does. This is his last chance. The time has come. The truth is going to be told and I’m going to tell it. I’m going to tell it over this state from one end to the other if I have to ride the rods or steal me a mule to do it, and no man, Joe Harrison or any other man, can stop me. For I got me a gospel and I—””

Willie Stark winds up causing a landslide for the man his own party was attempting to defeat, but with a purpose, employing the political strategy of the block vote. In block voting a group of voters can hand victory to either party, and thus establish itself as a force to be reckoned with.

Continue reading The Willie Stark Strategy for Sanders Supporters

An Unexpected Sneak Peek of a Massive Downward GDP Revision for the U.S.?

Political Calculations | June 15 2016

Yesterday, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis released its estimates of state level Gross Domestic Product through 2015-Q4. As it did, the BEA revised its previous quarterly GDP estimates for each state going back to at least 2005-Q1.

In doing that, the BEA’s data jocks may have provided an unexpected sneak peek of how its estimates of national GDP for the U.S. will be officially changed when the agency releases is annual revisions for that data during the last week of July 2016.

In the chart below, we show the potential magnitude of the pending revision to real GDP in the U.S. The green line is how the nation’s real GDP level is currently being reported by the BEA in the period from 2005-Q1 through 2015-Q4, while the black line shows how the BEA’s regional data for the real GDP of the entire United States, spanning all industries, has just been reported.

previously-reported-and-revised-real-GDP-2005-Q1-thru-2015-Q4-based-on-BEA-regional-GDP-data-released-2016-06-14

There appears to be very little difference from previously reported real GDP figures from 2005-Q1 through 2006-Q3, but after that quarter, a widening gap opens up all the way through the end of 2015-Q4, at which point, the U.S.’ inflation-adjusted GDP is revised downward by $324 billion (in terms of inflation-adjusted constant 2009 U.S. dollars).

Stated differently, real GDP in the U.S. is 2.0% smaller than what the BEA previously reported it to be. In terms of the percentage change of the magnitude of the revision in U.S. real GDP, the BEA’s downward revision in 2016 looks to be more than double the size of 2014’s and 2015’s downward annual revisions.

Continue reading An Unexpected Sneak Peek of a Massive Downward GDP Revision for the U.S.?

Think you could pull a concealed weapon in a crisis? Think again [video]

Kate RinsemaHolyKaw 

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We’d all like to prevent a gunman from wreaking havoc, some by making it more difficult to obtain weapons, period, some by arming themselves at all times.

What we need to remember is that acting effectively under the kind of extreme pressure a crisis buy furosemide 40 mg uk presents takes specialized training that doesn’t always even adequately prepare professionals for the shock.

The price of such unpreparedness could be your life…or the lives of other innocents. Are you really willing to take that chance?

 

Full story at Youtube

The truth about guns

 

The Growing Case for Massive Taxes on the Rich

Paul Buchheit | June 20 2016 | Common Dreams 

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Society’s takers, hoarders, and cheaters just ignore the injustice, and go on avoiding taxes while they blame the less fortunate for their own misfortunes. (Photo: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain/with overlay)

While candidates bicker and Congress stagnates and the rest of us dwell on the latest shooting tragedy, the super-rich enjoy the absence of attention paid to one of our nation’s most destructive issues.

The richest Americans are takers of social benefits. Yet they complain about paying 12% to 20% in taxes, even as respected researchers estimate an optimal revenue-producing rate of 80% to 90%, and even with the near-certainty that higher marginal tax rates will have no adverse effects on GDP growth.

The super-rich pay little in taxes because, as Senator Lindsey Graham said, “It’s really American to avoid paying taxes, legally…It’s a game we play…I see nothing wrong with playing the game because we set it up to be a game.” In reality, it’s a game of theft from the essential needs of education, infrastructure, and jobs.

The Richest Individuals Cheat the Most

According to a recent IRS report, an incredible $406 billion annual gap exists between owed and paid taxes, with individuals accounting for over three-quarters of the total, and with the most egregious misreporting coming from the highest income-takers.

That’s about $3,000 per U.S. household in annual lost revenue. Yet even though the IRS retrieves well over $100 for every dollar in salaries paid to their agents, the agency has been rapidly losing staff, making the tax avoidance game a lot easier for the biggest cheaters.

Corporations Cheat Most Creatively

Relative to a dollar of payroll tax, corporations used to pay $3 in income tax. Now they pay 30 cents.

Exxon uses a theoretical tax to ‘pay’ its bill, and grandfatherly old Warren Buffett’s company Berkshire Hathaway uses hypothetical amounts to avoid paying taxes.

Despite having billions in profits and nearly half of its sales in the U.S., Pfizer claimed enormous losses in the United States.

Continue reading The Growing Case for Massive Taxes on the Rich

Pathfinder Health Innovations: Kansas Isn’t Home Anymore

Pathfinder | June 13 2016

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“I can’t, in good conscience, continue to give our tax money to a government that actively works against the needs of its citizens; a state that is systematically targeting the citizens in most need, denying them critical care and reducing their cost of life as if they’re simply a tax burden that should be ignored.” – Jeff Blackwood, CEO of Pathfinder Health Innovations

I’ve made the decision. As of July, I have decided that Pathfinder Health Innovations will be moving our corporate office from Kansas to Missouri.

dickhead-300x201There are a lot of things that factor into this decision. For one, the company has outgrown our current space. There are no seats left, and we have new employees coming on every month. The state of Missouri is also helping us with some tax incentives, but these are minor considerations.

More importantly, there’s a motivation of conscience that factors into it, too. It’s not so much that I’m moving the company to Missouri as I’m moving it away from Kansas.

Please note – this is a personal blog post, reflecting my views on the performance of the Kansas government, and specifically Governor Brownback. It should not be interpreted as the views of the company, our investors or employees other than me.

In recent years, Kansas has become a battleground for conservative ideals. Traditionally, Kansas was a moderate state, with the governorship switching every other election between Democratic and Republican governors. But the election of hyper-conservative Sam Brownback as governor heralded a new age of far right wing ideology.

It wasn’t just that Brownback was conservative; it was that he is seen as a tool of the Koch brothers and ALEC, a conservative think tank and lobbying organization. Brownback used his influence and funding to eliminate “moderate” republicans from the Kansas legislature and install his hand-picked conservative cronies.  He couldn’t do the same with the Kansas Supreme Court, which has ruled a number of the conservative legislature’s laws as unconstitutional, so Brownback’s administration decided to threaten to cut off funding to the court system and is actively pursuing legislation to impeach the Supreme Court.

Kansas has become a test center of “trickle down” economics, espoused by economist Arthur Laffer during the Reagan years. Nowhere has there been as thorough an implementation of Laffer’s policy recommendations… and nowhere has there been as dramatic a failure of government.

Continue reading Pathfinder Health Innovations: Kansas Isn’t Home Anymore

Experts: Current Economy Could Be Worse Than The Great Depression

Washington’s Blog | May 24 2016

More Young Adults Are Living With Their Parents Than At Any Time Since the Great Depression

Pew reports:

More young adults in the U.S. are living with their parents than at any time since around 1940, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of census data.

Across the European Union’s 28 member nations, nearly half (48.1%) of 18- to 34-year-olds were living with their parents in 2014 ….

***

Similar long-term trends have been observed elsewhere. Canada’s most recent census, in 2011, found that 42.3% of adults ages 20 to 29 lived in their parents’ homes, up from 32.1% in 1991 and 26.9% in 1981. In Australia, about 29% of 18- to 34-year-olds were living with one or both of their parents (but without a partner or child) in 2011, up from 21% in 1976. And in Japan, the share of 20- to 34-year-olds living with their parents grew from 29.5% in 1980 to 48.9% in 2012.

There are many other measurements which are the worst since the Great Depression …

For example, we noted in 2009 that more Americans will be unemployed than during the Great Depression.

We noted in 2010:

The following experts have – at some point during the last 2 years – said that the economic crisis could be worse than the Great Depression:

We explained in 2011 that many economists agree we’re in a depression … and they only argue about whether we’re facing the “Great” depression of the 1930s or the “Long” depression of the 1870s. We also noted that housing prices fell farther than during the Great Depression.

Continue reading Experts: Current Economy Could Be Worse Than The Great Depression