How Do Barney Fife and Fidel Castro Factor Into the Biggest News Story of the Year?

by Scott Creighton

I wish to see if I can connect a few dots here, so bear with me.

Putting aside “ISIS™” for a moment and the “Big Story” about some talking head on MSNBC lying to folks (yeah, there’s some news for you) what are the biggest geopolitical trends in the news today? Is it the fact that Syriza, the new “Radical Left™” brand of 3rd Way centrist ideology (think “CHANGE™” circa 2008) seems to have forgotten what the term “odious debt” means?

In international law, odious debt, also known as illegitimate debt, is a legal theory that holds that the national debt incurred by a regime for purposes that do not serve the best interests of the nation, should not be enforceable. Such debts are, thus, considered by this doctrine to be personal debts of the regime that incurred them and not debts of the state. In some respects, the concept is analogous to the invalidity of contracts signed under coercion. Wiki

Is that the biggest story in the world today? Well, if you consider the fact that international debt has risen by 57 trillion dollars since the global economic terrorism of 2008, coupled with the fact that much if not ALL of that new additional debt may be declared odious were Greece to set the precedent, well, that could very well be the story of the year. The story of the decade or the millennium in fact.

But it isn’t, because they wont (“use us to implement the European programme” Varoufakis).

And the usually antagonistic ones, the Webster Tarpley’s of the “interwebs”, aren’t really calling for Syriza to live up to their campaign pledge and do that.

How about “ISIS™”? Now that the MTV music video director and their team made that “burning man” video, seems like all the world wants a piece of “ISIS™” butt.

We have senators and congressman lining up to get in front of anyone with a camera so they can pledge their undying devotion to autocratic, despotic regimes like those in Jordan, UAE, Bahrain and Qatar for the sole purpose of providing them weapons and training, all paid for with your tax dollars while they say they can’t afford to pay teachers here in the states.

No money for teachers or disabled folks but we got butt-loads of cash to heap on dictators from the Middle East to help bomb Syria into regime change. Funny how that works, ain’t it?

We have “progressive” TV personalities spending enormous amounts of their airtime proving what warmongering hawks they can be just like the neocons of yesteryear they pilloried for a decade.

We have the Obama administration, the President Peace Prize farce, presenting their own version, a hand-crafted document they expect to be passed without debate, authorizing war anywhere, anytime against anyone they say is supporting “ISIS™”. That new AUMF document, one usually crafted by congress, will be slapped on the desks of leading congressmen sometime today or tomorrow. It’s something this president has wanted since they created “ISIS™” now that the old one from 2001 is a bit sketchy considering the fact that it names al Qaeda as the enemy and we now call them “moderates” and are funding them in Syria.

And all of this is based on what? A ridiculous MTV-styled video custom made for the purpose of providing the pretext for what is happening right now and released on the very same day the King of Jordan was visiting Obama and congress looking for money to fight “ISIS™”. (I will write more about that video later this morning)

Are those the biggest stories in the world today?

No. Not in my opinion.

So what is? What is the one big story everyone knows about and no one is talking about and how does Barney Fife and Fidel Castro of all people fit into this? Have I gone crazy? Inquiring minds want to know.

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The Global Rise of the Radical Left in Opposition to Fascist Globalization

by Scott Creighton

I see in the future a crisis approaching that fills me with anxiety. As a result of the war, corporations have become enthroned, and an era of corruption in high places will follow. The money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its rule by preying upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is concentrated in a few hands and the Republic destroyed. ~ Abraham Lincoln.

Savage capitalism of the neoliberal IMF/World Bank “free market economy” persuasion is failing across the globe. From one nation to another, people are sick and tired of Ayn Randian philosophy and Milton Friedman/ University of Chicago austerity packages otherwise known as the Washington Consensus. There is another name for it.

The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is Fascism – ownership of Government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt.

It is with good reason that Ayn Rand hated FDR and with good reason Milton Friedman loved her so. They were both fascists.

All across the world, neoliberal globalization, or “corporatization” as some call it, is being exposed and rejected by the people it was designed to enslave.

What is rising in it’s place is a redefined, conscience, left-leaning awakening, an attempt to bring consideration for humanity and social/economic justice back into the systems of governance that steadfastly reject such primitive notions. Systems usually installed and directed by the billionaires and banksters I like to call the “masters of the universe”

Three quick examples will show how this movement is unfolding at a rapid pace right before our eyes with almost zero coverage from the MSM.

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Fed Delays Volcker Rule, Giving Wall Street Another Holiday Gift

by Zach Carter, Huffington Post

Christmas came early for Wall Street this year. The Federal Reserve on Thursday granted banks an extra year to comply with a key provision of the Volcker Rule, a move that gives financial lobbyists more time to kill the new regulation before it goes into effect.

The Volcker Rule is a key element of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law that bans banks from engaging in proprietary trading — speculative deals that are designed only to benefit the bank itself, rather than its clients. Thursday’s move by the Fed gives banks an additional year to unwind investments in private equity firms, hedge funds and specialty securities projects. The central bank also said it plans to extend the deadline by another 12 months next year, which would give Wall Street a two-year reprieve through the 2016 presidential election.

The Fed’s delay comes less than a week after Congress granted Wall Street a reprieve from another reform that had been mandated by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law. The measure, known as the swaps push-out rule had eliminated federal subsidies for trading in risky derivatives — the complex contracts at the heart of the 2008 banking meltdown. Bank watchdogs say the Volcker Rule delay adds insult to injury.

[read more here]

Neoliberal News of the Day – Oct. 22nd, 2014

by Scott Creighton

- A brief note about pervasive influence peddling and the rebranding of neoliberalism -

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The term “neoliberalism” is popping up all over the place as of late. People are starting to “get it” so of course, it’s important to those committed to it’s ultimate success and acceptance, that folks who are aware of what’s going on are carefully led back to the warm embrace of fascism lite (neoliberalism) under the guise that it is somehow an alternative to the globalist neoliberal doctrine that is wrecking the entire world as we speak. We are being asked to become beggars to our own demise and some of us are being asked to help promote this ideological poison without question. That’s simply not going to happen. Not here anyway. ( this is for you John J. ;) )

“In the 1960s, usage of the term “neoliberal” heavily declined. When the term was reintroduced in the 1980s in connection with Augusto Pinochet’s economic reforms in Chile, the usage of the term had shifted. It had not only become a term with negative connotations employed principally by critics of market reform, but it also had shifted in meaning from a moderate form of liberalism to a more radical and laissez-faire capitalist set of ideas. Scholars now tended to associate it with the theories of economists Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman.”

You might remember the last comment left by the now banned John Jasper. In it he stated that he was pulling his support of this site because all I was doing was “bellyaching” and not offering up an alternative to the globalist neoliberal assault that is currently underway. He suggested I promote the “libertarian principles and the Austrian School of Economics” which, as you can see from above, are the economic principles of Friedrich Hayek (of the London School of Economics and the University of Chicago (birthplace of modern neoliberalism)), also known as “neoliberalism”

“If anyone would like to actually learn something about anarcho-capitalist/libertarian principles and the Austrian School of Economics, there’s plenty available at …” John Influence Peddler Jasper

Talk about asking us to be beggars to our own demise. Thus is the “alternative” offered up by the likes of Alex Jones, Ron Paul, Alan GreenspanMilton Friedman and Bill Clinton. Hayek went to the University of Chicago in 1950. The “Chicago Boys” project, the “Chile Project”, a group of neoliberal economists put together to design a purely neoliberal economic system, started in 1955.

“The training program was the result of a “Chile Project” organized in the 1950s by the U.S. State Department, through the Point Four program, the first US program for international economic development. It was funded by the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation aimed at influencing Chilean economic thinking”

Chicago boys generally advocated widespread deregulation, privatization, and other free market policies for closely controlled economies. They rose to fame as leaders of the early reforms initiated in Chile during the rule of General Augusto Pinochet.”

It should also be noted that Mr. Influence Peddler John Jasper was recommending we all read the Mises website, as in Ludwig von Mises. He is of the Austrian School of Economics. Wrote a book called Liberalism in 1927 during the rise of fascism.

“At one time, Mises praised the work of philosopher and novelist Ayn Rand and Rand’s view of Mises was generally favorable…”

“Von Mises’ 1927 book Liberalism has been largely ignored, except for its comments on fascism. Marxists Herbert Marcuse and Perry Anderson, as well as German writer Claus-Dieter Krohn, criticized Mises for writing approvingly of Italian fascism, especially for its suppression of leftist elements...[27] More recently economist J. Bradford DeLong[28] and sociologist Richard Seymour,[29] repeated the criticism. Mises wrote in the book:[30]

It cannot be denied that Fascism and similar movements aiming at the establishment of dictatorships are full of the best intentions and that their intervention has, for the moment, saved European civilization. The merit that Fascism has thereby won for itself will live on eternally in history. But though its policy has brought salvation for the moment, it is not of the kind which could promise continued success. Fascism was an emergency makeshift. To view it as something more would be a fatal error”

Yeah, that’s what John Jasper thought I should be promoting as an alternative to neoliberal fascist globalization… fascism lite or “Libertarianism’ for short.

For a more current example of how the Austrian School has influenced the world we live in…

“In February 1975, Margaret Thatcher was elected leader of the British Conservative Party. The Institute of Economic Affairs arranged a meeting between Hayek and Thatcher in London soon after.[48] During Thatcher’s only visit to the Conservative Research Department in the summer of 1975, a speaker had prepared a paper on why the “middle way” was the pragmatic path the Conservative Party should take, avoiding the extremes of left and right. Before he had finished, Thatcher “reached into her briefcase and took out a book. It was Hayek’s The Constitution of Liberty. Interrupting our pragmatist, she held the book up for all of us to see. ‘This’, she said sternly, ‘is what we believe’, and banged Hayek down on the table

Congrats John Jasper. You tried your best to sway the readers of this site back into the fold of neoliberal ideology, the ideology of Augusto Pinochet and Margret Thatcher… but you failed. You gave it a shot… nice try. Better luck at a lesser site…. it should also be noted that Mr. Jasper hails from… you guessed it… the UK.

John is an example of what some would call “cognitive infiltration”. That’s when someone comes on sites like this one to gently steer dissidents back to the fold, in this case, the acceptance of “libertarianism” as an alternative to neoliberalism. They are effectively the same thing.

- Now, on to the Neoliberal News of the Day -

Henry Giroux on the Rise of Neoliberalism – “We’re talking about an ideology marked by the selling off of public goods to private interests; the attack on social provisions; the rise of the corporate state organized around privatization, free trade, and deregulation; the celebration of self interests over social needs; the celebration of profit-making as the essence of democracy coupled with the utterly reductionist notion that consumption is the only applicable form of citizenship. But even more than that, it upholds the notion that the market serves as a model for structuring all social relations: not just the economy, but the governing of all of social life.”

Neoliberalism has brought out the worst in us – “An economic system that rewards psychopathic personality traits has changed our ethics and our personalities”

Hong Kong’s Fight Against Neoliberalism – “But regardless of what the BBC wants the world to believe, Occupy Central isn’t so much a fight for democracy as a fight for social justice.”

 Lad culture thrives in our neoliberal universities – “Laddism is at home in the callous environment of market-driven higher education, argues, Alison Phipps, who offers advice to universities on how to root it out”

The poverty of neoliberal economics - “Paul Verhaeghe, senior professor of clinical psychology and psychoanalysis at Ghent University in Belgium, has argued in a recently published essay that neoliberal economics brings out the worst in human beings. He finds that thirty years of neoliberalism, and the privatisation and free-market misery that comes with it, have taken their toll on people’s values and even their personalities.”

There Are 870,000 Slaves in Modern-Day America – “If this sounds like some hellish turn-of-the-century sweatshop, it is close. But this is today’s reality for hundreds of thousands of American prisoners, who work backbreaking full-time jobs for shockingly low pay. Half of the 1.6 million Americans currently serving time do this kind of “institutional maintenance,” and the median wage they receive is between 20 and 31 cents an hour. Some states, like Texas and Georgia, offer no compensation at all.”

Obama’s Latest Speech About The Economic “Recovery” Results In Mass Audience Exodus – “Yesterday, Obama made a rare campaign trail appearance in Maryland where he spoke in support of Democratic candidate for governor, Anthony Brown, proceeded with his usual bulletin of reading fabricated economic data off the teleprompter in which he highlighted improvements in US unemployment (if not the 46.5 million people on foodstamps or the 93 million Americans out of the labor force), a rebounding housing market (just as the bouncing dead cat is once again dead), the benefits of health insurance (if no mention of the disaster for small businesses that Obamacare now definitively is) a resurgent manufacturing sector (just don’t look at this chart) even if he did point out the unfairness of families having “two folks working”, and… a mass audience exodus followed.

The Shell Game of Contingent Employment – “The rise to power of Ronald Reagan in the United States and Margaret Thatcher in the United Kingdom ushered in a new era of economic policy. Minimal corporate taxation, privatization of public goods, and the deregulation of businesses became the dominant policies promoted for economic growth. The attacks against organized labor, progressive organizations, and community groups that opposed the new regime were brutal. The percentage of workers in unions plummeted.”

Census report: Half of Americans poor or near poor – “Forty-seven percent of Americans have incomes under twice the official poverty rate, making half of the country either poor or near-poor, according to figures released last week by the Census Bureau.”

Shocking New Report: Superrich Have Grabbed Half the World’s Assets – “There have been moments in history when things were not so lopsided. During the post-war period, inequality was contained because governments made sure their rich didn’t accumulate at such alarming rates by doing things like taxing their estates at a high rate. At the same time, they created policies to lift the incomes of the less well-off and allow them to have some basic security. But that’s an exception in history. Most of the time, this kind of intervention did not happen, and so the rich kept gobbling more and accumulating more power to keep it that way until one of two things happened — a revolution or some kind of catastrophe or disruptive event, like a war, shook things up.”

Mexico’s disappeared students – “It is nearly four weeks since police in the town of Iguala in Mexico’s impoverished southern state of Guerrero violently attacked a group of some 80 young student teachers leaving at least six dead, 17 wounded and 43 “disappeared.”… Mexico is the most unequal of the 34 member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), with the richest 10 percent of the population having an average income almost 30 times as high as the bottom 10 percent… Notably silent on the Iguala massacre is the Obama administration in Washington. US imperialism has major interests in Mexico, which is the United States’ third-largest trading partner… The massacre has also underscored the rising inequality and savage violence that have gone hand in hand with Mexico’s free market “reforms.

H/T Tom K. – Freedom Rider: Privatized Ebola – an example of how privatization does not in any way serve the interests of the general public – “The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation may appear to be a savior when it provides $300 million to the WHO budget, but those dollars come with strings attached. WHO director general Dr. Margaret Chan admitted as much when she said, “My budget [is] highly earmarked, so it is driven by what I call donor interests.” Instead of being on the front line when a communicable disease crisis appears, it spends its time administering what Gates and his team have determined is best.”

- more to follow later this morning -

BRICS Against Washington Consensus

by Pepe Escobar, from Asia Times

The headline news is that this Tuesday in Fortaleza, northeast Brazil, the BRICS group of emerging powers (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) fights the (Neoliberal) World (Dis)Order via a new development bank and a reserve fund set up to offset financial crises.

The devil, of course, is in the details of how they’ll do it.

It’s been a long and winding road since Yekaterinburg in 2009, at their first summit, up to the BRICS’s long-awaited counterpunch against the Bretton Woods consensus – the IMF and the World Bank – as well as the Japan-dominated (but largely responding to US priorities) Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The BRICS Development Bank – with an initial US$50 billion in capital – will be not only BRICS-oriented, but invest in infrastructure projects and sustainable development on a global scale. The model is the Brazilian BNDES, which supports Brazilian companies investing across Latin America. In a few years, it will reach a financing capacity of up to $350 billion. With extra funding especially from Beijing and Moscow, the new institution could leave the World Bank in the dust. Compare access to real capital savings to US government’s printed green paper with no collateral.

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Who In Ukraine Will Benefit From An IMF Bailout?

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from Naked Capitalism

HUDSON: The objective of IMF loans is to deindustrialize the economy. It is to force the economy–meaning the government when you say the economy–the government has to pay the IMF loan by privatizing whatever remains in the public domain. The Westerners want to buy the Ukrainian farmland. They want to buy the public utilities. They want to buy the roads. They want to buy the ports. And all of this is going to be sold at a very low price to the Westerners, and the price that the Westerners pay will be turned over to the Ukrainian government, that then will turn it back to the Ukraine. So whatever the West gives Ukraine will immediately be taken back.

Sommers: The problem with this idea that somehow by joining the E.U. everything is going to be good for the people of Ukraine is that what the Ukrainians are essentially seeing are the echoes of a social democratic past which is being euthanized in the European Union… structurally, it’s being destroyed… there are offshore gas fields just off offshore of Crimea. Exxon put in a rather substantial bid in for those. They are going to lose that.

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The US Housing Market is Still “Flat on its Back”

from Mike Whitney, CounterPunch

Get a load of this chart from DataQuick’s National Home Sales Snapshot. It’ll tell you everything need to know about housing.

As you can see, prices are flatlining or drifting lower while sales are sinking like a stone. That’s the whole ball of wax, isn’t it?

Sure, sales will increase in the spring (as they always do), but judging by the sharp dropoff in last year’s hottest markets, this could be the crappiest spring selling season since the crash.

Why?

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(Note: MSA=metropolitan statistical area)

Because prices are too high, rates are too high, “organic” demand is too weak, credit is too tight, and the pool of potential buyers has shrunk to the size of a walnut, that’s why.The banks have reduced the percentage of distressed homes (foreclosures and short sales) on the market to roughly 11 percent from 59 percent in 2009. Fewer distressed homes mean higher prices, but higher prices mean fewer sales. It’s a trade-off. The banks get their money, but the market goes to hell. That’s how it works. According to most estimates, there are roughly 4.5 million homes in some stage of foreclosure. That means that –at the present pace–we should get through this Housing Depression a few weeks before Judgment Day. But don’t hold me to that.

Did you catch this gem on Bloomberg last week? It’s about the big private equity guys exiting the market. Take a look:

“Blackstone Group LP is slowing its purchases of houses to rent amid soaring prices after a buying binge made it the biggest U.S. single-family home landlord. Blackstone’s acquisition pace has declined 70 percent from its peak last year, when the private equity firm was spending more than $100 million a week on properties, said Jonathan Gray, global head of real estate for the New York-based firm…” (Blackstone’s Home Buying Binge Ends as Prices Surge, Bloomberg)

Okay, so the speculators are getting out of housing. How’s that going to effect the market?

No one really knows yet, but it can’t be good, after all, all-cash deals amounted to nearly 50 percent of all homes sales in many of the hotter markets last year. That’s why prices went up even though the economy was still in the shitter, because the fatcats were loading up on cheap real estate. Now it looks like they’re headed for the hills. That’s NOT going to be good for sales.

Did you know that existing home sales have dropped for six months straight, dipping below trend to the same level they were at in 1998?

But how can that be, you ask, when everyone’s blabbing about the recovery? How can that be when the Fed has purchased more than $1.4 trillion in mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and rates are a measly 4.5%? How can that be prices have been climbing higher for more than a year?

[read the rest, here]

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