Thursday, January 19, 2017

McClatchy — FBI, 5 other agencies probe possible covert Kremlin aid to Trump

Happy Inauguration Day.

Why makes this story so bizarre is that the suspected Russian "interference" in the US election pales against the pattern of documented US interference in foreign elections for decades at least, with a well established structure for doing so and using a variety of agencies and operations. both direct and indirect. 

FBI, 5 other agencies probe possible covert Kremlin aid to Trump
Peter Stone and Greg Gordon, McClatchy Washington Bureau


Scott Ferguson — re: f@ck work (arcade)

James Livingston has responded to my critique of his Aeon essay, “Fuck Work.” His response was published in the Spanish magazine Contexto y Accion. One can find an English translation here.
Arcade has now published my reply.
the unheard of center — critique after modern monetary theory
re: f@ck work (arcade)
Scott Ferguson | Assistant Professor of Film & Media Studies, Department of Humanities & Cultural Studies at the University of South Florida, and a Research Scholar at the Binzagr Institute for Sustainable Prosperity

Katehon — Alexander Dugin: China, the Great Game, and Globalism

Geopolitics as Trump takes over in the US from the vantage of Alexander Dugin:  Trump sees China as the primary threat to the US and not Russia.

Alexander Dugin: China, the Great Game, and Globalism

Mnuchin wants Debt Ceiling to be Raised

Some good news out from today's hearing at least on the surface.

Good question here from a Democrat Senator:

Senator Michael Bennet expressed concern about how Steven Mnuchin would advise Trump if he is confirmed as treasury secretary. He listed the impacts from the 2011 government shutdown: a ratings agency downgraded the nation's deficit for the first time in history, and the stock market fell and did not recover for almost a year. 
“It was completely a self-inflicted wound on the American economy. It hurt retirement savings and dealt a blow to job growth and job creation,” Bennet said during Mnuchin’s confirmation hearing. 
He then asked Mnuchin if he agreed with Trump’s view that the president can renegotiate the country’s debt and avoid a default because the Treasury Department can print more money.

Jonathan Turley — Why I Will Not Be Joining The Protests Against President Donald Trump

Below is today’s column in USA Today on the protests against President-Elect Donald Trump and why, despite having a house full of family members and friends who have come to protest Trump, I will not be joining them. Instead, I will be home with my kids as we have been in every inauguration – celebrating the peaceful transfer of power in our democracy and wishing the newly elected president (and our country) the best with an inaugural toast. I criticized Trump (and Hillary Clinton) during the campaign (and I will not hesitate to criticize Trump again for policies or actions that I disagree with). However, I find the claims of illegitimacy and attacks this week to be highly disturbing. I totally respect the right of people to come to protest Trump and his policies. However, there appears to be a concerted effort to delegitimize his presidency and create a type of political mythology about this election.
In this column I discuss that mythology and, more importantly, the meaning of the day of inauguration for many of us. Regardless of my criticism of both Trump and Clinton, I always knew that on January 20th I would raise a glass to the 45th President of the United States and wish him or her . . . and us . . . the best of luck in the coming years. It is a time when we reaffirm our commitment not so much to a politician but to each other. We reaffirm a common article of faith that, despite our disagreements and divisions, we remain one country joined by our belief in democratic transition and government. There is much to celebrate this week as a glance around the world at places like Gambia will readily confirm. Donald Trump will be the 45th President. Our President....
Jonathan Turley
Why I Will Not Be Joining The Protests Against President Donald Trump
Jonathan Turley | Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University

Alexandra Rosenmann — Elijah Cummings Has Ominous Warning: Congress Has Info on Trump That Would Shock Americans

“You’ve got to understand that members of Congress have a lot of information that the public does not have,” Cummings told CNN’s Chris Cuomo. "And I can tell you over the last week or two, the classified briefings that I have been to, and if the public knew what members of Congress know…”
"The information will come out later, at some point where I think the public will fully understand," Cummings said.…
Rocky road ahead?

Elijah Cummings Has Ominous Warning: Congress Has Info on Trump That Would Shock Americans
Alexandra Rosenmann

The FBI and five other intelligence and law enforcement agencies are working together on an investigation into whether Russia’s government secretly helped President-elect Donald Trump win the election, according to a new report.
The collaborative probe is partially focused on whether any covert money from the Kremlin financed hacking operations to benefit Trump’s campaign, McClatchy reported Wednesday.
Two people familiar with the matter told McClatchy the intelligence agencies involved include the FBI, the CIA, the National Security Agency (NSA) and representatives for the director of national intelligence. Two law enforcement agencies — the Justice Department and the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network — are also participating.
According to McClatchy, the interagency working group is informal and began scrutinizing possible Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential race last spring. A key mission of the six-agency team, it said, is examining who financed the email hacks of major Democratic Party sources last year....
The Hill
Events this past week make clear that Trump was serious about changing US policy toward Russia, and the enemies of détente know it. Lessons from the past.
There are enormous difficulties at achieving détente on the US side owing to the forces aligned against it. Perhaps the most serious obstacle in the Russian side is bitter experience of America as a country that does not keep it word and so agreements are meaningless.

The Nation
The Fight Over a Trump-Putin Détente Begins
Stephen F. Cohen | professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at
New York University and Princeton University and a contributing editor of The Nation

Ralph Nader — An Open Letter to President-Elect Donald Trump

Ralph gives the Donald some advice.

An Open Letter to President-Elect Donald Trump
Ralph Nader

Mike Whitney — The Trump Speech That No One Heard

Contrasting visions of US foreign policy. Will Trump's foreign policy realism and a focus on US national interests prevail in the coming years, or will it be more of the same foreign policy idealism based on liberal interventionism and attempted global Americanization — because American exceptionalism? The battle is joined, with the US deep state on the attack even before the inauguration.

The Trump Speech That No One Heard
Mike Whitney

See also
It is an extraordinary situation. The ruling class seems by and large quite shocked by the election result. Donald Trump is surely a representative of the class—in that he’s a billionaire for god sake—but, for the majority of the richest and most powerful, not their preferred choice as chief executive of the USA. This is apparent by Trump’s treatment at the hands of the corporate media (that he continues to insult), by the foreign policy establishment, by the intelligence agencies (which he sometimes disparages), by Congressional leaders of both parties who generally regret that he won. The Deep State seems to have its knives drawn for him.
The Extraordinary Array of Those Questioning Trump’s Legitimacy (and Their Various Reasons)
Gary Leupp | Professor of History at Tufts University, with a secondary appointment in the Department of Religion

Dances with Bears — Chrystia Freeland’s Family Record for Nazi War Profiteering, and Murder of the Cracow Jews

Chrystia Freeland (lead image), appointed last week to be the new Canadian Foreign Minister, claims that her maternal family were the Ukrainian victims of Russian persecution, who fled their home in 1939, after Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin agreed on a non-aggression pact and the division of Poland between Germany and the Soviet Union. She claims her mother was born in a camp for refugees before finding safe haven in Alberta, Canada. Freeland is lying.

The records now being opened by the Polish government in Warsaw reveal that Freeland’s maternal grandfather Michael (Mikhailo) Chomiak was a Nazi collaborator from the beginning to the end of the war. He was given a powerful post, money, home and car by the German Army in Cracow, then the capital of the German administration of the Galician region. His principal job was editor in chief and publisher of a newspaper the Nazis created. His printing plant and other assets had been stolen from a Jewish newspaper publisher, who was then sent to die in the Belzec concentration camp. During the German Army’s winning phase of the war, Chomiak celebrated in print the Wehrmacht’s “success” at killing thousands of US Army troops. As the German Army was forced into retreat by the Soviet counter-offensive, Chomiak was taken by the Germans to Vienna, where he continued to publish his Nazi propaganda, at the same time informing for the Germans on other Ukrainians. They included fellow Galician Stepan Bandera, whose racism against Russians Freeland has celebrated in print, and whom the current regime in Kiev has turned into a national hero.
Just before Vienna fell to the Soviet forces in March 1945, Chomiak evacuated with the German Army into Germany, ending up near Munich at Bad Worishofen. On September 2, 1946, when Freeland says her mother was born in a refugee camp, she was actually in a well-known spa resort for wealthy Bavarians. The US Army then controlled that part of Germany; they operated an Army hospital at Bad Worishofen and accommodated Chomiak at a spa hotel. US Army records have yet to reveal what the Americans learned about Chomiak’s war record, and how he was employed by US Army Intelligence, after he had switched from the Wehrmacht. It took Chomiak another two years before the government in Ottawa allowed the family to enter Canada.
The reason the Polish Government is now investigating Freeland is that Chomiak’s wartime record not only victimized Galician Jews, but also the Polish citizens of Cracow. In a salute to Freeland as a “great friend of Poland” by the Polish Embassy in Ottawa last week, Warsaw officials now believe a mistake was made….
Dances with Bears
Victim or Aggressor – Chrystia Freeland’s Family Record for Nazi War Profiteering, and Murder of the Cracow Jews

Sergey Fedotov — India considers Russia its "abiding" friend - Narendra Modi

So much for the US prying India out of the embrace of Russia.

RT — Chinese ‘hack-proof’ quantum communication satellite put into service

The world’s first quantum communication satellite is now officially operational following months of in-orbit testing, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) announced, saying that performance of the device is “much better” than was initially expected.
Robust encryption.

‘Much better than expected’: Chinese ‘hack-proof’ quantum communication satellite put into service

RT — Dataminr terminates RT access to Twitter news discovery tool, gives no official reason

Censorship is here. US establishment scared.

Dataminr terminates RT access to Twitter news discovery tool, gives no official reason

"Many US media outlets work in Russia, including television channels, they have the same rights and opportunities as the other outlets. If the unprecedented pressure on RT from US media and social networks leads to restrictions on the work of the Russian channel, we will have to prepare an active response," Alexander Zharov told RIA Novosti.
Sputnik International
Russian Telecom Watchdog to Respond to Any US Restrictions of RT - Head
A recent decision of Facebook to temporarily ban the RT broadcaster from uploading videos, images and links to its page on the social network has followed a complaint filed by one of the projects of the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), the RT press service said Thursday, citing a notification from Facebook….
Sputnik International
RT Facebook Restrictions Follow Complaint From RFE/RL Project

Why Trumpcare might sign you up for health insurance without asking

Maybe this is what he meant by 'everyone is insured...'.

Increasing the denominator:

Republicans on the Hill are taking a close look at an idea they believe could actually expand health coverage: just enroll everyone in a health plan unless they opt out. 
Hill staffers and conservative health wonks have been tossing the idea around for awhile as a way to replace Obamacare's individual mandate while continuing to cover everyone with pre-existing conditions — something that becomes too expensive without healthy people to cover the costs. 
Many now point to auto-enrollment as one of the best ways to cover more people without bleeding federal dollars.

Long story short:  Enroll Everyone (ie increase the denominator)  ... to... replace the individual mandate (ie denominator = 1) ... which is .... too expensive.

Art of the deal.... ie an acquisitor's approach vs. the former intellectual's approach?  Perhaps.

If so the libertarians won't like it...

Ramanan — Barack Obama On The Trillion-Dollar Platinum Coin

President Obama was actually considering the coin gambit, but apparently he did not understand it well enough to clearly assess it.

The Case for Concerted Action
Barack Obama On The Trillion-Dollar Platinum Coin
V. Ramanan

Reuters — Exclusive: Kremlin plans special clinic for Putin's top officials

The construction of the new block is part of a broader program by the Kremlin's property management department to improve the healthcare infrastructure it manages. Those facilities are primarily for the use of senior state officials.

The department's spending on building or rebuilding health infrastructure within its portfolio increased 200 percent between 2012 and 2016, according to official data. At the same time, spending on the state-provided healthcare used by most ordinary Russians has risen far more slowly, lagging behind inflation.
You are apparently supposed to be outraged by this — which assumes that you are so naive that you don't know how US politicians and high government officials have outsized health perks that distinguish their care from ordinary Americans — because they can.

Reuters — Political Special Reports
Exclusive: Kremlin plans special clinic for Putin's top officials

Olivier Blanchard — The Need for Different Classes of Macroeconomic Models

So what should be done? My suggestion is that the two classes should go their separate ways.
DSGE modelers should accept the fact that theoretical models cannot, and thus should not, fit reality closely. The models should capture what we believe are the macro-essential characteristics of the behavior of firms and people, and not try to capture all relevant dynamics. Only then can they serve their purpose, remain simple enough, and provide a platform for theoretical discussions.
Policy modelers should accept the fact that equations that truly fit the data can have only a loose theoretical justification. In that, the early macroeconomic models had it right: The permanent income theory, the life cycle theory, the Q theory provided guidance for the specification of consumption and investment behavior, but the data then determined the final specification.
Both classes should clearly interact and benefit from each other. To use an expression suggested by Ricardo Reis, there should be scientific cointegration. But the goal of full integration has, I believe, proven counterproductive. No model can be all things to all people.
Like I have been saying. Separate theoretical from practical inquiry. They are separate fields, just as theoretical physics is separate from the various branches of engineering as applied physics.

However, engineers also require other knowledge and skill, such as materials science, and they must also take cost into account. Good design often includes aesthetics. Architecture is a combination of design and engineering.

Engineers are not interested in "the perfect bridge," but rather the bridge that will meet the design specifications most economically and reliably. Engineers realize that building in redundancy for safety is not inefficient, although it may appear to be "wasteful" duplication.

Theoretical economics requires specialization in applied math. Political economy requires knowledge of  systems dynamics, political science, sociology, history in addition to economics, accounting, and statistics.

There is nothing wrong with departments of theoretical economics looking like departments of theoretical physics or applied math. But departments of political economy should look more like business schools and engineering departments, which are oriented toward application and data-centric.

Peterson Institute for International Economics
The Need for Different Classes of Macroeconomic Models
Olivier Blanchard | Professor and Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, and former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund
ht Lambert Strether at Naked Capitalism


Moon of Alabama — Obama Parting Shot Aims At Brennan, Clapper, Clinton: "The DNC Emails Were Leaked"

Is President Obama no longer buying the story?

I am posing this as question since exactly what Obama meant is not clear. See comment 7 in the thread there.

Moon of Alabama
Obama Parting Shot Aims At Brennan, Clapper, Clinton: "The DNC Emails Were Leaked"
Craig Murray

More on Munnie Printing

Some guy in the academe tries to take some shots at MMT here but that is not the point.

This is revealing here the guy says:

The modern monetary theory crowd argues economists have misunderstood how the government interacts with the economy. The rest of us just don’t get it! It’s all a big conspiracy, it would seem.

Bold mine.  Here we see this nexus again at the confluence of stupid and subversion.

Now, FD I have always advocated that these people are 100% stupid vs. the ROW that claims it is all a big neoliberal conspiracy, but if you read this here, this guy reveals that they are somehow experiencing BOTH.

IOW, the guy says (at the same time) that they are stupid (ie 'the rest of us don't get it') AND it is a conspiracy (literally 'its all a big conspiracy')... at the same time.

How could they be existing while believing they are BOTH stupid AND subversive at the same time?

So this is very interesting...

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Dan Steinbock — The Story of the U.S. Regime Change Plan in the Philippines

As long-needed economic reforms are taking off in the Philippines, regime change plans have been prepared in the US State Department against a democratically-elected president who enjoys very high popular support.
During the Philippine presidential campaigns in spring 2016, U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg sided visibly with anti-Duterte forces, which led to several high-profile confrontations. After the controversial Ambassador left the Philippines, he wrote a “blueprint to undermine Duterte within 18 months.” Last month, the plan was leaked to The Manila Times, the oldest English-language daily in the Philippines.

It is not the first time Goldberg is associated with regime change efforts. In 2008 President Evo Morales and the Bolivian government gave him three days to leave the country after declaring him persona non grata – following Goldberg’s efforts to fund the opposition leaders, separatists and think-tanks with millions of dollars.

Yet, President Obama rewarded Goldberg by appointing him assistant secretary of state for Intelligence and Research; one of the 16 elements of the US Intelligence Community (IC). Thereafter he was sent to the Philippines, which he left in less than three years after efforts to intervene with the elections.
What that? The US interference in foreign states' elections. You must be joshing, right? (snark*)

The Story of the U.S. Regime Change Plan in the Philippines
Dan Steinbock, founder of the the Difference Group
* Things are so bizarre now it has become necessary to state the obvious.

Claire Connelly — Why a universal basic income is a poor substitute for a guaranteed job

Bill Mitchell, Pavlina Tschernva, Fadhel Kaboub, Steven Hail, Ellis Winningham.

Buffer stock of employed versus a buffer stock of unemployed.

Bill Mitchell:
Article on Job Guarantee versus Basic Income Guarantee
The ABC published an article that I had some input into today – Why a universal basic income is a poor substitute for a guaranteed job – by Claire Connelly, a freelance journalist in Australia.
It generally makes all the relevant points and is worth reading and spreading.
ABC (Australia) — Opinion
Why a universal basic income is a poor substitute for a guaranteed job
Claire Connelly
ht Bill Mitchell at billyblog

Debate: Can China Survive Trump? — Michael Pettis and Tom Orlick

Orlik: President-elect Donald Trump's talk of tariffs and the rise of populist nationalism evident in the Brexit vote are warning signs of a coming storm. At this point, though, there's no way of knowing how severe the storm will be. The history of U.S.-China relations shows tough talk on the campaign trail rarely translates into action in office.
Trump has already backed away from other pledges. It's possible tariffs won't materialize. Indeed, a fiscal stimulus that puts more money into American shoppers' pockets could actually boost demand for China's exports. In Europe, anger is focused more on immigrants than trade. Absent sweeping tariffs, our forecast is for exports to grow about 5 percent in 2017, reversing the contraction in 2016.
Pettis: You may be right, Tom, but the global economy continues to be distorted by huge trade imbalances. The worst offender is Germany, whose record-breaking surpluses just keep growing. Meanwhile, Japan is running large surpluses again after five years of deficits. These and other large surpluses are driven not by rising productivity, but rather by structurally weak domestic demand, and in most cases, this weak demand isn't being addressed except by being exported. China is one of the few surplus countries that has actually improved domestic demand, driving its current account surplus down from 10.1 percent of GDP in 2007 to under 3 percent today. In absolute terms, however, China's surplus is barely 10 percent below its previous peak.
The problem is not China as a US competitor, but rather US "partners" Germany and Japan.

Seeking Alpha
Debate: Can China Survive Trump?
Michael Pettis and Tom Orlick

Janet Yellen — The Goals of Monetary Policy and How We Pursue Them

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

Chair Janet L. Yellen

At the Commonwealth Club, San Francisco, California

January 18, 2017

Enrico Braun — Putin: Fake News Writers Worse Than Prostitutes - Trump Doesn't Need Either

At the risk of being politically incorrect:
Basically, Putin says, Donald Trump had the opportunity to bang any woman he wanted at Miss Universe - what the heck would he need with a prostitute? Although naturally, Russia provides the world's best.…

Hard to argue with such brutally flawless logic. And it's just like something Trump himself might have said.
Somebody remind me how Putin and Trump end up NOT getting along again?
Russia Insider
Putin: Fake News Writers Worse Than Prostitutes - Trump Doesn't Need Either
Enrico Braun

My Davos rant. Davos sucks! Somebody drop a bomb on that place.Please!

Paul Grenier — Legitimate Differences — A new approach to Russia

According to the outlook that might be described as the democracy-idealism/neoconservative-interventionist school, the only way to achieve a lasting settlement is for Russia to cease being what it is at the moment and to become instead much more like the United States. Russia should become a liberal democracy. Only then—because, as many Wilsonian idealists have argued, “liberal democracies don’t fight one another”—can the relationship be stabilized for the long term.

The theory is not entirely implausible. There are indeed forces within Russia that strongly identify with American liberal democratic values. American diplomats and journalists frequently run into people who hold such sentiments. They pop up among one’s well-traveled Russian-intelligentsia friends and are widely quoted in the articles written by prominent journalists who happen to be imbued themselves with the Wilsonian sensibility.

The problem with this line of thought—aside from the impossibility of imposing it from the outside—is that the Russian version of liberal democracy differs fundamentally from the American version.
The fact is that Russia today is already in many ways liberal. But its liberalism is of a peculiarly Russian sort. It does not deny rights and freedom, but it grounds them not negatively (in terms of what government shall not do), as does the Enlightenment liberalism of Locke and Hobbes, but rather in terms of Eastern Christianity’s image of what man is. As a result, there is no Russian liberalism, or Russian politics of any other sort—including its standard semi-authoritarianism—that separates the state from religion in the way that the United States does today.
An authentically Russian liberalism, in other words, is hardly less starkly different from our secular, liberationist order than is Russia’s present political arrangement under Vladimir Putin. The fact is that there simply is not available to Russia a political order that is aligned with the present-day American version of secular liberal democracy. Both its history and its mores exclude it. And if we try to impose it anyway, in defiance of Russian history and self-understanding, then we will find ourselves repulsed in the same way Napoleon was. As Henry Kissinger wrote, “No power will submit to a settlement, however well-balanced and however ‘secure,’ which seems totally to deny its vision of itself.”….
The article is well-written and the author is very insightful in comparing and contrasting US and Russian visions and values. Worth reading the whole thing.

Americans tend to project, and this projection makes in difficult to understand others with different histories, visions and values. That sets up a conflict.

The American Conservative
Legitimate Differences — A new approach to Russia
Paul Grenier

Nicolas J S Davies — The ‘Post-Truth’ Mainstream Media

U.S. mainstream media sees itself as the definer of what’s true and what’s “propaganda,” but has gotten lost in a fog of self-delusion and is now the principal purveyor of “post-truth” news, writes Nicolas J S Davies.
Good summary of the relevant information, most of which has been posted here as it happened. The post collects it.

Consortium News
The ‘Post-Truth’ Mainstream Media
Nicolas J S Davies

RT — Lavrov slams "triple standards," names those who REALLY interfered in the US elections

Stating the obvious. 

The US, UK, German and French establishments regularly criticize others for what they do more often and more egregiously. Western liberals feel that they are morally empowered to interfere in others' affairs, while others cannot act reciprocally without violating liberal norms.

Fort Russ
Lavrov slams "triple standards," names those who REALLY interfered in the US elections
RT, translated by J. Arnoldski

Thomas Piketty — Vive le populisme !

Populism is merely a somewhat confused but legitimate response to the feeling of abandonment experienced by the working classes in the advanced countries in the face of globalisation and the rise of inequalities. To construct specific answers to these challenges, we have to build on the most internationalist populist elements – therefore on the radical left – represented here and there by Podemos, Syriza, Sanders or Mélenchon, whatever their limits; otherwise the retreat into nationalism and xenophobia will prevail....
Le Monde — Le Blog de Thomas Piketty
Vive le populisme !Thomas | 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 London School of Economics, International Inequalities Institute.

Richard Kochetov — When Going to Bed With Dogs Is News, Getting Up With Fleas Is a Scoop – Here’s the One About Trump’s Bed, Putin’s Bed

A close examination of the "Trump dossier."

Jo Mitchell — Full Reserve Banking: The Wrong Cure for the Wrong Disease

... as Positive Money rightly note, neither the mechanism nor the implications are widely understood. But Positive Money do little to increase public understanding – instead of explaining the issues clearly, they imbue this money creation process with an unnecessary air of mysticism....
Critical Macro Finance
Jo Mitchell | Senior Lecturer, University of the West of England, Bristol
Full Reserve Banking: The Wrong Cure for the Wrong Disease
Jo Mitchell | Senior Lecturer, University of the West of England, Bristol