The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Trump Is the Next Stage of the Disease

One of the more common mistakes regarding Trump is to see him as something that came out of the blue; unheralded and strange.

Trump is a kleptocrat. The US is a kleptocracy. It “formally” became a kleptocracy when the Supreme Court ruled in Citizen’s United that money was speech. (It is ironic that Trump won with less money, but it doesn’t change this fact.)

America was pragmatically a kleptocracy in 2009, when Obama entered office and continued his predecessor’s policy of bailing out bankers, taking houses away from little people and not prosecuting bankers for clear crimes.

Punish the people without money; let the people with money walk.

Trump is a walkimg emoluments violation: He should be impeached month two of his term for his refusal to sell his company.

But he won’t be (though he may eventually be impeached if Republicans decide they’d rather have Pence as President, and that they don’t think Trump’s followers will personally visit their houses to discuss the issue).

Kleptocracies are run for the benefit of the rich. It is that simple. A monarchical kleptocracy like Putin runs, and like Trump seems interested in running, makes sure the peasants get something, which means it may feel slightly better than what came before it. (Putin is very, very popular and was so even before the recent wars for the simple reason that Yeltsin was far, far worse.)

But they are still kleptocracies. Trump’s first order of business is tax cuts, mostly for the rich. There is a report that his team has asked for information on funding of environmental groups, and Trump plans on shutting down NASA’s climate change group.

These things get in the way of making money; and because environmentalism was pushed during a period in which the economy was, for too many people, a negative sum game, it is also unpopular with his base.

But these things are extensions of the already-existing Republican party orthodoxy. Tax cuts and fuck-environmentalism is where Trump stands in solid agreement with the kleptocracy that already ran the country. These things are not what make Trump interesting, or unique, they are what make him simply another stage of the disease.

Understand that what we had in 2016 was a crisis point. There were three options. Clinton was for the status quo kleptocracy. More or less the same, with a bit more help for those hurting the most, like students.

Trump was for monarchical kleptocracy, minus globalism: add tariffs and one-to-one trade deals to the mix, change up the foreign policy, make sure some more people get jobs, while gutting worker rights in general.

Sanders was an opportunity to actually change some of the key domestic policies away from kleptocracy: While not ideal, he was clearly a change from the status quo in a kinder direction, and he came fairly close to winning the Democratic primary, despite an active conspiracy by the DNC to stop him (no, no, it meets the actual definition of conspiracy).

Of those three options, Americans chose Trump: a new stage of the kleptocratic disease. Double down on transfers to the rich, but let’s give more scraps to the poor and fuck over some foreigners to get those scraps while burning up the world even faster. (Obama was not good on the environment; he was bad, but Trump will be much, much worse.)

I am not panicking, or running around screaming. I regarded something like Trump as nearly inevitable, with a small, but real, chance to avoid him by embracing the populist left (in this case, championed by Sanders).

In fact, Trump is not as bad as what I expected. His victory, a squeaker, may wind up precluding Trump 2.0, that is, the guy who would run next time, having learned from Trump what was possible, but far more disciplined, focused, and ideological than Trump.

Trump has the support of some powerful ideologues (most notably Bannon), and he has a world view, inchoate as it is, but he’s a very flawed man. Despite being very good at getting what he wants, it is undeniable that he lacks discipline, focus, and a broad base of understanding. Nor does he self-identify as being ideologically driven. Bannon may want to be the Lenin of the right, Trump does not.

More to the point, because the actions of US elites (and the world’s), along with the repeated votes of US voters, kept pushing America down this path, for decades, I regard running around screaming as pathetic. It’s like running full speed at an oncoming train for five minutes, with plenty of opportunities to veer off, then complaining when you get hit.

Many Americans, and the vast majority of their elites, affirmatively chose, repeatedly, to take actions and institute policies which were most likely to lead to Trump. Those who opposed those policies lost, and a huge chunk of the population sat on the sidelines doing nothing.

There were many, many opportunities to turn away from this path; the largest was to NOT bail out bankers in 2009.

In 2009, I wrote the US off. I knew that Obama had affirmatively made the choice to save oligarchy from itself (quite different from FDR saving capitalism, but not oligarchy). I knew then that something like Trump was the most likely outcome, but I expected worse than Trump, so far, seems to be.

So running around screaming is ridiculous. This was a choice, made affirmatively, repeatedly. If Trump had lost to Clinton, Trump 2.0 would have tried in 2020 and almost certainly won. The US is a kleptocracy, and eventually the disease would move to the next stage, if not reversed.

What I seek to do now, with regards to Trump, is two things. The first is simply to understand him and his movement. We’re going to be living in his America; it’s his world, for some time, so we’d best figure it out.

The second is to poke people who didn’t and still don’t get it, because until enough people do, we will keep losing to kleptocrats (whose number includes both Clintons) and people like Trump.

These two things are meant to support realistic assessment of Trump, the US, and the world so that effective action can be taken.

I have a friend who, as a result of Trump, is leaving the US with his two children. He has carefully looked at Trump, made his assessment of the US’s future and chosen a course of action. That is effective.

Make your assessment, take your action. Stop the hysterics. I strongly recommend that many people, who are most worked up, take two weeks off the internet, except for unavoidable work related tasks. Calm down, think, and decide what you need to do for yourself and your dependents. Heck, depending on who you are, you might even be one of the winners from Trump (they will exist).

Then decide what you’re going to do. Understand the consequences of your actions. Make your assessment. If you really think Trump = Hitler you should be getting the fuck out or preparing to fight, and I do mean fight. If you don’t, what do you think he is?

Get real.

In the meantime, I will continue to keep an eye on Trump and his team and try to provide analysis without hysterics or panic. Fear may be appropriate (it is for some people, for sure), panic is not.

But it will be vastly harder to fix this if people keep pretending it wasn’t affirmatively chosen, and not just by people who voted for Trump this time, but by everyone who supported the previous status quo, starting around 1980. Kleptocracy is neoliberalism’s child, its logical end-result, and Trump is just a new stage in kleptocracy, and yes, many people worked hard for this including most people who voted against Trump.

Understanding how and why you got here is necessary to get out of here–not in one piece (it’s too late for that), but without losing any body parts you’ll really miss (always choose to lose a leg–the prosthetics are great).

Trump: Just another stage in the disease of kleptocracy, made inevitable by neoliberalism and affirmatively chosen by modern “liberal” hero, Barack Obama.

Own it.

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Trump and the Taming of the Oligarchs


Open Thread


  1. markfromireland


    Peripheral to your main points but nevertheless:

    Putin is very, very popular and was so even before the recent wars for the simple reason that Yeltsin was far, far worse

    Putin is very very popular because he reversed the drastic decline under Yeltsin yes that’s true. Russians are patriots. It really is that simple. Anybody who appeals to their patriotism as Putin does is going to get support. Particularly when he can point to tangible results.

    Here’s a video that was everywhere my last trip to Russia. There isn’t one frame of it that it isn’t a very carefully worked out visual paean to Russian unity and patriotism whether it’s the various archetypes to the Stalingrad reference. It was everywhere and time and time again when it would come on be it in a shopping centre or a tea house or a coffee shop. People would stop what they were doing and would stand and applaud. Russians are patriots and proud of their country, its culture, its history. As I say it really is that simple.

    Дети поют Гимн России

  2. markfromireland

    As to your main points – agreed. But then like you I wrote these people off a long time ago, even so I hesitated to use the word “irredeemable”, not any more. I don’t think these people are capable of changing. They’re incapable of it because they’re either neo-lib to their core or they’re useful fools. Not until they die off is is there even the possibility of change.

    At which point a principal reason why you write – that there should be decent ideas strewn around the place ready to be picked up and used – may come into play.

  3. Great piece. My apologies for the Twitter dust-up. I now see exactly what you mean, and agree entirely.

    Twitter can be a terrible medium when mis-used, which I did.

    Also, I will be unplugged from social media alongside a three-day fast. I feel that periodically fasting from everything (except, I think, air and water) is the best way to adjust to modernity. . . the bastard child post-modernity.

    Humans are supposed to be rhythmic beings who often go back to stillness. Instead, non-stop social media turns us into relentless indignation machines.

  4. highrpm

    ah, the great mythical king solomon and his son rehoboam come to mind. kleptocrats by the account given in 1 kings 12.

  5. brian

    I like you viewpoint. your viewpoint is pretty based, as in it is based in your own thoughts and reasons and not just going along or pulled by the prevailing ideological winds. And your knowledge of history is great. Check out for another based and macro viewpoint. That is why I originally started reading your blog a couple years ago.

    But it’s so dam depressing. There is no path forward, no hill we have to climb, no shining difference we can make. In your minds eye I feel that the population needs to be decimated to a portion of now, moving on to non-fossil fuels, and rebuilding with a completely different mindset. But I feel like you have no idea what that future that is rebuilt would look like, you just have an idea of how it is to be destroyed.

  6. Peter

    I wonder why some people become almost rabid and foam at the mouth over Trump’s refusal to destroy his family business. I can understand the Clintonite losers doing this but Ian seems rational usually but now screams about impeachment which I thought was for actions taken by a president not for not acting the way others think he should. The Clintonites seem to want Trump to donate a pound of flesh to their cause but they are losers and losers don’t dictate what the winner does.

    I could understand the conflict if Trump was a weapons or oil dealer but his businesses are mostly resort hotels and golf courses so what will the emoluments everyone seems to fear buy, a better tee-time?

  7. V. Arnold

    Trump Is the Next Stage of the Disease

    Denial is still the driving force of the U.S. population (if not the western world). This has been carefully cultivated for many generations, most especially through forced, public, education.
    Out of 324,ooo,ooo people about 3-4,000 leave, renouncing their citizenship. Probably a few thousand more just leave, relocating outside U.S. borders. Combined, this is not large numbers.
    I see nothing that will lead to any meaningful change in the near, or, long term view.
    Trump will not change anything in a meaningful way.
    Not pessimistic, but the real world. Owning it…

  8. Hugh

    I agree. This is an even more in your face kind of looting. Trump is doing away with the intermediary of the elites and placing rich predators directly into positions of power.

    The amount of cognitive dissonance and self-deception required to think that Trump was ever going to be the savior of the middle and working class is staggering. Rich, entitled narcissists like him don’t think we even belong to the same species. Even as happens on both the left and the right, there will probably be about 25-30% of the electorate that will continue to support him regardless of the facts and how often and deeply he betrays them.

    I agree too that Trump didn’t just happen, and that those who kept choosing the lesser evil and/or kept voting Democratic even as the party abandoned the New Deal, workers, and eventually the middle class for the banks and Wall Street bear the responsibility for Trump.

    Peter, the response to you is in two parts. First, Article II, section 1 of the Constitution:

    “The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.”

    If Trump’s companies profit from his being President, then he is receiving a a prohibited emolument from the United States.

    Also Article II, section 4: “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

    Note that bribery is mentioned just after treason and before the often cited “high Crimes and Misdemeanors”. Holding for profit companies as President is a recipe for pay to play bribery. It is an even balder bribery scheme than the slicker nonprofit Clinton Foundation “charity” the Bill and Hillary were using.

  9. Webstir

    “The second is to poke people who didn’t and still don’t get it, because until enough people do, we will keep losing to kleptocrats (whose number includes both Clintons) and people like Trump.”

    I’ve been poking Mr. Welsh. I, like you, am sick to death of the incessant identity politics blame game (played by both sides) that does nothing more than provide the cover the kleptocrats need to continue kleptocrating.

    Every time I see one side or another bitching as if their side was innocent in getting us to where we are today I’ve been linking to your “The lies at the heart of our dying order” post. I’ll bet I’ve linked it close to 100 times now. Unfortunately, to little response. They just keep on kvetching.

    Never, more than now, has the Erasmus quote been more relevant — In the land of the blind, the orange haired man is king.

  10. different clue

    The reason for concern over TrumpCo’s numerous properties in numerous countries is that TrumpCo will be conflicted all kinds of ways over these properties. TrumpCo will be tempted to use the properties as extortion-leverage against some governments, and will see other governments take the properties “hostage” to extort larger policy decisions from TrumpCo.

    It seems like a real concern to me. I don’t know enough to imagine how TrumpCo might handle it.

    I can imagine one TrumpCo property holdable-hostage right now. TrumpCo has asked the Irish government for permission to build a seawall to protect a coastal golf course against the rising sea. Meanwhile Trump pretends here in America to believe that the global isn’t warming and the sea isn’t rising and will not rise. The Irish government could use that sought-for permission to build a seawall as an extortion-leverage crowbar right there. The Irish govermnent will refuse TrumpCo permission to build the seawall until Trump visibly walks back ( and then shoots the legs off of) all attempts to collect names of climate scientists within US gov. agencies for persecution . . . all attempts to de-budget NASA’s earth science surveillance projects . . . all threats to remove America from the Paris Accords . . . and etc.

    Not that the Irish government WOULD do this. But it could. IF! TrumpCo remains in possession of that golf course. If TrumpCo decides to sell that golf course for money to put into a blind trust, then Trump will continue denying the obvious fact of global warming till the cows come home and drown ( blub glub).

  11. Christmas Greetings from Southall – on

    Also watched John Pilger’s film “The coming War on China” ( in which a Chinese interviewee described the US as capitalist because it was ruled by those with money.

    PS. I wonder if Trump and Putin are acting together with their announcements on nuclear proliferation? The real epicentres on global instability revolve around Israel/Iran and Sunni/Shia. It would make sense for the rest of the world to unite to ensure these remained a regional problem, even if they escalate into nuclear conflict.

  12. anonymous coward

    Does anybody know how much money Geo. Washington got for his Mt. Vernon plantation, incl. human chattel and livestock when he became President? Was it more than Jefferson got for Monticello? Thx.

  13. Jim


    Actually no on your interpretation of Article II.

    ” and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.”

    What this means is that the President cannot receive any form of additional compensation from the actual government of the United States or from the government of one of the States. It has nothing to do with owning a company which one could reasonably assume gets a portion of its profits from benefiting from being located in the United States. Your second point about bribery is assuming that the bribery is a given. It is not of course and any claims to such would have to be proven. As anonymous coward points out a President continuing to hold onto his business interests has been the norm throughout the entire existence of the US. As a practical matter it would be impossible to divest the entirety of Trumps business interests in a period of under several years just due to the complexity, scale and types of investments he has. Having others run them while he is in office is obviously the only solution which is practical.

    This focus on impeachment is just another manifestation of not accepting what has happened. Denial is more than a river in Egypt.


    I read everything on this blog. While I disagree with your conclusions quite often I think on this subject I agree with your line of thinking about 95% and have been arguing that this was the path the US was on for a decade or so. I think this is just the beginning of where we are headed. Civilization is in the collapse mode and as it progresses over the next 40 years we will follow the general path of what a decline in climate, global carrying capacity and the struggle to end up in one of the smaller group of remaining ‘haves’ dictates.

    We broke it, we own it.

  14. realitychecker

    Jonathan Turley is my preliminary go-to guy for constitutional issues with which I am not particularly conversant, the emolument clause being one of those. Above is his take on the current hand-wringing.

    Bottom line, he points out that the President, Vice-President, Congressmen, and federal judges are STATUTORILY EXEMPT from the general ethics rules (BUT NOT Hillary Clinton as SOS, interestingly enough lol). He provides the relevant statutory language.

    He also concludes that passing control of a family business to the children of that family is probably the best way of dealing with the emolument clause in specific.

    It seems logically apparent to me that the current Establishment and left-wing worries about bribery are not something that can be ASSUMED in advance but would actually require some actual evidence of bribery or quid pro quo.

    Dedicated Trump opponents continue to embarrass themselves, IMO.

    Panties, meet twist lol.

  15. StewartM

    Drive-by comment…I maybe have been misinterpreting you, Ian, on what I think is a t00-optimistic assessment of Trump’s policies previously. I had hoped, like Lisa, that Trump would be more centrist in social policy and actually more “progressive” than Clinton in economic policy, and would confine his worst inclinations to “yapping”about them only. (Never underestimate the political power of “yap”, talking points are why most Republicans think Reagan was a deficit hawk, or that most Democrats think Obama was some “great progressive”. etc, despite of what their actual policies were). I could have accepted (within limits) Trump if that was his policy.

    However, I fear that given his advisors and the people he’s picking to lead positions, and given the fact (as you say) that he’s proven to malleable in his positions, he’s going to be far worse. I don’t understand those who defend Trump and say “but he’s the boss and will control those bad people” who also (rightly) pointed out that Obama’s picks determined what kind of president he would turn out to be, despite his more-progressive campaign rhetoric. I expect Obama’s Great Betrayal I of his supporters to be followed by Trump’s Great Betrayal II of his.

    I also agree with Lisa that Mike Pence for VP was a horrible choice. Not just for the reasons she gave, but if Trump had actually intended to remake the Republican Party over the opposition of its elites, then the choice of a boilerplate establishment conservative like Pence gives said elites every reason to join Democrats in impeaching and removing him should the opportunity arise. For that reason, I would have chosen someone equally unpalatable to them to deny them that opportunity.

    You mentioned a friend of yours who is thinking of leaving. I can understand that, but because to me the biggest cause of concern for the US future is not Trump. It’s the Democrats. Go take a look at DKos, and you can see the Democratic establishment doubling down to make sure that *nothing* changes in response to this defeat. Kos himself posted a rant about how he was in favor of *more* closed primaries and how Democrats should stay the course on relying on minority voters to win future elections (funny, the people who complain loudest about Republicans disenfranchising minorities and the poor base their electoral strategy on depending on those same voters win elections….given America’s history of mass disenfranchisement, I would expect the Republicans to respond by, well, disenfranchising even to keep in power). The reason why you hear all this cry of the electoral college denying Trump the presidency and allegations of Russian meddling and Clinton winning the popular vote from Democrats is to deflect any attention or criticism towards the Third-Way neoliberal wing represented by Clinton, Obama, and the Democratic establishment from the total wipeout the Dems have suffered on almost every level of government due to their betrayals of their base.

    That is why I have come to believe that as bad as Trump may be (and I fear now he’s going to be worse than I feared) that for the US to have any hope for salvation, Clinton had to lose. If Clinton had won, she would have run again in 2020, and then it would be Tim Kaine’s or Cory Booker’s turn, and all the decline would have continued, eventually leading to the election of the inevitable “Trump 2.0” who would be worse. The proper reaction of this defeat for all those who oppose Trump is to devote their efforts to take down the Democratic establishment and the leadership of the “veal pen”. But most Democrats seem to be properly deflected and aren’t echoing that theme, and the re-election of Pelosi as minority leader, who played a major part in killing the public option and was also against the surveillance state until she was for it, doesn’t bode well. I also believe that if Sanders had somehow managed to wrest the nomination away from Clinton, he would probably have lost too–because the same Democratic elites who now tell us how horrible Trump is would have gladly done things to covertly throw the election to Trump, because no matter how much they say they care about women’s rights, or the poor people in Flint being poisoned, or about police shootings, protecting their Wall Street benefactors is Job #1.

    I conclude in my final heresy is that what chances for an American revival may rest more on Republican and Trump’s “deplorables” rather than on Democratic voters. The only heartening news on 2016 is that the typical Republican voter doesn’t care about the movement conservative agenda–they’re not really dead-set against abortion, they don’t care about gay marriage, they sure the hell aren’t for privatizing or gouging Social Security or Medicare, or privatizing schools or vouchers. And they’re for infrastructure spending. To put it in Christmas cinema terms, Republican voters want Bedford Falls back, instead of the Pottersville that America has become; the delusion they suffer from is that they think that electing Mr. Potter will bring it all back ( Democratic voters, by contrast, think that electing *Ms. Potter* will bring back Bedford Falls). Unlike Democratic voters, who meekly line up to vote for the lesser-evil DNC-approved candidate, Republican voters were quite willing to give the Republican and conservative establishment the middle finger and vote for someone who campaigned on a decidedly non-conservative agenda.

    So if Trump does stage Grand Betrayal II and give them cut or privatized SS and replaces Medicare with Obamacare plus more, unlike Democratic voters who meekly buy the lesser-evil argument, Republican voters will throw him out. That will give the Democrats another opportunity; but that opportunity won’t matter much unless the Democratic establishment is overthrown. Right now, the latter chances don’t look good, so the rot will continue.

  16. Blissex

    Mostly brilliant insights except for emoluments (as per other commenter) and a couple of details…

    «Kleptocracy is neoliberalism’s child»

    Viceversa of course: kleptocracy has generate neoliberalism as its ideological cover. Same old. The USA have been “mostly” a predatory kleptocracy since its very founding; fortunately the vast natural riches of the lands and the ingenuity of that Veblen’s called “the engineers” in yankee-land have created actual prosperity. But looting has always been a core competence of the industrial-congressional complex, with epicentres like Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, the nests of the “malefactors of great wealth”. Kleptocracy has been less prevalent in the “productive” areas, but the national tone has never been particularly far from it.

    «poke people who didn’t and still don’t get it, because until enough people do, we will keep losing to kleptocrats (whose number includes both Clintons)»

    The problem here is that the top kleptocrats have co-opted most of the affluent-middle class into the lowest rungs of the kleptocracy, mostly via upward-redistributing property speculation and bridging the gap between low taxes and high services by ballooning debt. Therefore kleptocracy is very popular with the upper 50% of the USA’s income who make most of the voters, because they think they are kleptocrats too and that benefits them. In the long run they are just asset-stripping themselves, not someone else as they hope.

    B Bartlett’s mentions appositely the “Two Santas” strategy discussed by J Wanniski with Cheney and Rumsfeld (and Laffer…):

    Grover Norquist:

    «And then, our job as conservatives is to wake up every day and say how do we make more of us and fewer of them. And the left’s position is the same. I passed out a series of trends here; I’d be very interested in whether people think I’m missing stuff. I would suggest the biggest trend is the number of people who own shares of stock directly. We’ve gone from 17 percent of Americans owning stock to up over 50 percent of households. According to Mark Penn, two-thirds of voters in 2002, 2004, somebody who owns at least $5,000 worth of stock is 18 percent more Republican and less Democratic. African-American, no stock, 6 percent Republican; $5,000 worth of stock, 20 percent Republican. Every demographic group gets better with share ownership. Rich, poor, all colors, all genders, with the exception of women who earn more than $75,000 a year, who are already thoroughly Republican and don’t get any better.» «The growth of the investor class–those 70 per cent of voters who own stock and are more opposed to taxes and regulations on business as a result — is strengthening the conservative movement.
    More gun owners, fewer labor union members, more homeschoolers, more property owners and a dwindling number of FDR-era Democrats all strengthen the conservative movement versus the Democrats.»

  17. realitychecker

    @ StewartM

    I find it encouraging to see such a careful and nuanced revamping of thought process by a person of strong intellect and good heart who is willing to re-calibrate his viewpoints as changing times and available data/information make seem appropriate.

    I would hope to see more of this from others. IMO, everybody needs to do this in greater or lesser measure.

  18. Peter


    It would be pleasant if these people could bank their righteous preening rage for the Christmas Season, they’re frightening the children. The true believers and now the closet TB’s are out of sorts and reduced to lashing out at convenient targets as you recently experienced.

    These conspiracy theory loops never really end and as one issue is explained or corrected another pops up to continue the loop always bringing up new misinformation or fantasy to prove the discredited earlier claims. Putin stole the election will persist while Donald tore up the emoluments clause will be shouted by the foaming mouth losers just as long as the Nader caused Gore, the other Clintonite, to lose his election nonsense.

    The difference this time is that their madness and rage is burning too brightly and intensely while people who can still think clearly and maturely are stepping back from this self destructive flame-out or we can hope so.

  19. StewartM


    It seems logically apparent to me that the current Establishment and left-wing worries about bribery are not something that can be ASSUMED in advance but would actually require some actual evidence of bribery or quid pro quo.

    Even if there were/are illegalities, all it would mean that Trump is (illegally) corrupt, while Clinton (and probably the Obamas too, after they leave office) will be “legally corrupt” under current American law. I fully expect the Obamas to become millionaires in a few years for the service they rendered on delivering a public-optionless Obamacare with no drug reimportation, the Korean free trade deal, and their heroic attempts to apply chained CPI to SS and to pass TPP.

    And which kind of corruption actually hurts more people? The American system of legal corruption under the Clintons brought us NAFTA and the repeal of Glass-Steagal; NAFTA alone destroyed a million jobs. If Trump, Inc., gets a payback from encouraging foreign dignitaries stay in his hotels, how could that be worse for ordinary people?

  20. Ian Welsh

    George Washington is not a recent precedent and did not have businesses overseas. Jimmy Carter, who sold his peanut farm, and then was investigated by the Republicans anyway, is and heck, he didn’t even have anything overseas either.

    The clause in question reads as follows:

    No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.

    Trump owns properties in foreign countries as well as a Hotel in DC. He will be receiving money from foreign governments. He already has, from diplomats on the state dime, staying at his DC hotel.

    I am mystified as to how this is not clear. I don’t think anyone can say that I have not bent over backwards to be fair to Trump (well, some fool doubtless will, they are a fool).

    I have never accepted the “obvious quid pro quo” argument for Clinton or Obama, and I will not do so for Trump, but we will have regular evidence of money passing and every time a government does something nice for one of his overseas properties it will look ugly.

    Only fools give benefit of doubt in these situations, especially to people like Clinton or Trump.

  21. different clue


    Here is a paragraph I will copy-paste from the most recent posting of Naked Capitalism to illustrate why I refer to the Clintonites as malignant cancer metastases.

    “”Why Are You Still Talking About Hillary Clinton?”” [Michael Tracey, Medium]. “Well, here’s why. For one thing, she’s still out there in the public eye, concocting excuse after excuse for why she couldn’t beat the guy from The Apprentice. Her media loyalists are also still out there in full force, spouting rationalizations of her conduct day after day, and denying culpability for their role in bringing about her failed candidacy. They are confabulating a story to explain away the loss. If left un-rebutted, this “narrative” will eventually congeal into accepted wisdom, and it will then be cited for years and decades to come as reason why they are completely blameless. Notwithstanding their 2016 humiliation, the Clintons still have a huge, well-funded, and feverishly devoted PR apparatus, including a vast array of functionaries and loyalists inhabiting all different segments of elite society. These loyalists have made clear their desire to implant into the public psyche the idea that Hillary is not responsible for her defeat — it was the fault of a whole bevy of sinister exogenous forces.” Yep.

    What will the Clintonites’ base of Klinton Koolaid Kultist voters vote for if they are deprived of any Clintonites to vote for? I don’t know, but the experiment deserves to be run.

  22. Hugh

    And we are back to comparing shit sandwiches, Trump vs the Clintons. I opposed both, but it is downright hilarious the specious arguments given to defend Trump’s corruption vs that of the Clinton’s. It shows that the Democrats aren’t the only ones to engage in tribal politics.

    I did not support Bush. When I first came to the blogosphere, we spent a good deal of time marveling at the 26% or so of the American people who even at the end of his term still supported him regardless of the sheer volume and severity of his mistakes and screwups. We called them MFMs. They were totally impervious to evidence, reason, and argument. But then Obama got elected. I did not support him either. But many of the very people who slammed the Bush MFMs morphed into the Obama version of the same. And now with Trump, and he’s not even in office yet, we are seeing the rise of the third iteration of this phenomenon.

  23. Peter


    You are heading towards the realm of the absurd if you believe that a foreign diplomat paying to stay in one of Trumps family’s hotels is an emolument. Trump’s retirement account is well padded so I doubt he’ll need these petty donations. Whatever may have happened during business deals with foreign governments is past history and Trump will not be making any of those type of decisions once in office. DC’s hilarious attempt to create a blackmail scenario involving Trump’s property in Ireland was at least creative fantasy.

    Your attempt to project the Red Queen’s grifter parasite character onto Trump is laughable. Trump is in the class she depended on for her pay and power while Trump once rented her services with a contribution to the Clinton Foundation.

    There are important issues to be concerned about such as Trump’s statement about Nuke weapons and a possible buildup apparently in response to Russia’s supposed buildup. Our media is not very reliable about how it reports on what Trump actually says or on Russia so we need more information. This could be early rhetoric and could lead to negotiations between Putin and Trump and a possible deal, one can hope.

  24. realitychecker

    @ Ian

    I guess I’m a ‘fool’ who is wondering just how you would propose that Trump can reasonably resolve his ethical situation without me having to give him the benefit of the doubt. Can you offer anything better than Turley did in the link I provided above, i.e., let his children run the family business?

    It pains me to even ask you this, as you have done such good analysis on so much else, and I absolutely believe you analyze with total intellectual integrity, but we all get some things wrong some of the time, and while I would love to give you the benefit of the doubt on this, I don’t think your apparent take that we should give the opposite (?) of the benefit of the doubt to Trump is the best one. (Note that I also think worrying about room rental being paid to his business as a quid pro quo is a little silly (petty?) in this context.)

    @ Hugh

    We are where we are–what good does it do to just blindly assume the very worst? I’m a big believer in the wisdom of being cynical and skeptical in these ‘interesting times’ we are doomed to live through, but overdoing it can sometimes blind us to the potential of getting a better-than-anticipated result. At the same time, I must agree with your perception that the incorrigibly wrong-headed will always be with us. (h/t Jesus Christ lol)

    Take cheer from the known truth that opinions are like assholes, and most stink. It’s just nature’s way.

    @ Peter

    Very good last few comments from you, IMO, I think we must honor ALL the plausible hypotheses we can think of until we have some actual data sufficient to guide us in deciding which ones to eliminate and which one or ones can be intelligently adopted.

    As to my personal detractors here, was there ever a freethinker anywhere that did not have to endure abuse for the crime of straying from somebody else’s preferred path? Comes with the territory, and I don’t mind at all as long as I get to respond with the mockery they deserve. Laughter is the best medicine for some afflictions. 🙂

  25. Jim

    “Trump owns properties in foreign countries as well as a Hotel in DC. He will be receiving money from foreign governments. He already has, from diplomats on the state dime, staying at his DC hotel.
    I am mystified as to how this is not clear. ”

    It is not just not clear. I believe that the interpretation is fundamentally unsound and is so clearly open to a legalistic challenge as to have no validity – baring direct evidence of actual bribery.

    The critical weakness in the above relates to ‘who’ is actually receiving these payments. All of these companies are in fact corporations. Trump has dozens of them and likely a different corp for each financial entity possible. It is just smart business practice. Thus it is the ‘corporation’ which is being paid (and as we all know the corp is a person :). All Trump has to do is stop drawing salary from these companies and not be involved in directing them. Both of these things have been ‘promised’ of course.

    So if Trump actually does what he says he is going to do and does not cross any bribery lines this is a non-issue from the get go and a distraction from more important issues.

  26. Ché Pasa

    As a point of reference, the Obamas were millionaires when they entered the White House (mostly from his book sales). There’s little doubt they will be handsomely provided for in retirement from public office.

    The Clintons, on the other hand, entered the White House with far lower income and far fewer resources.

    They’ve done pretty well financially since 2001.

    GWB was doing well when he entered the White House, with income of not quite a million dollars in 2000. He seems to have managed well enough since.

    As for Trump, who knows? Pick any number you want.

  27. Mallam

    lol Trump’s kids are literally selling access and the Trumpists are still in denial about Trump’s corruption. They are right about one thing though, Trump and Clinton are in entirely different leagues: Clinton had a problem with appearances of corruption — which is still corruption as it’s laughable to assert you need a quid quo pro to prove it — while Trump just lets his dick hang out and says to Congress “I’m corrupt as fuck, what are you going to do about it?”

  28. Mallam

    Realitychecker: he should liquidate and sell his asssets. Just like the Clinton Foundation should have been shut down had she won.

  29. Ian Welsh

    Blind trust, run by people who aren’t his family members or cronies, at the very least. Ideally, yeah, he should shut it down.

    Sorry children, if you’re arguing otherwise, you’re special pleading unless you were cool with Clinton keeping the Clinton foundation going. (Frankly, it shouldn’t have been running when Clinton was either a Senator or SoS.)

    Trump has significant overseas holdings, to pretend otherwise is ludicrous but even his domestic interest provide clear conflicts on interest.

    No, I don’t give the benefit of the doubt on these things. These are clear conflicts of interest. Fuck man, sensible people don’t even like it when a Senator’s wife is working for people he legislates.


    Folks don’t get something simple: I am not partisan any more. I do not have a dog in this fight: I am not for Republicans or Democrats, if they can’t be bothered to run someone good and no, Trump doesn’t qualify even if he will do some good things.

    I despise Obama, but he did some good things. That didn’t make him a good president overall. I expect Trump to be a bad President, who does some good things, even some things I really really want done. That doesn’t change the fact that he’s got conflict of interest problems or that if a Democrat had this sort of business, people would be howling to the hills, as they (rightly) did about the Clinton foundation.

  30. Hugh

    As Ian just pointed out, a good metric for Trump outrage is what would be the reaction if Clinton did, said, or proposed it. So if Clinton had won and Chelsea was selling access to her mother, what would you say? If Chelsea was going to manage the family foundation and businesses, but kept showing up at meetings her mother was having with various corporate leaders who might potentially benefit the family enterprises, what would be your reaction? If Clinton had businesses with international connections and decided she was going to keep her stake in them despite the appearance of either steering policy to benefit them or garner special treatment from foreign countries with regard to them, would you be cool with that?

    A few short weeks ago, people here were saying that they preferred Trump because he was less likely to start a nuclear war. Now Trump out of the blue wants to push a nuclear arms race, despite Obama and the Democrats’ program to completely revamp our nuclear forces. Trump’s statement was as reckless as it was unnecessary. So again, how would you feel if Clinton had done this? Any doubts about Trump?

    The one place where I disagree with Ian is over the issue of blind trusts. I have always thought these were fig leaves. Trump owns and has interests in a lot real estate around the world. You can put his holdings into a blind trust, but he still will know what is where and what could be hurt or benefited by his actions. These holdings can not easily be liquidated, but even if they were, this would just push the conflicts of interest to a different level. Most of the money would go into stocks, since bonds and PE are both in a rough patch, so Trump would have an interest in keeping the stock market pumped. About the only way I know for Trump to limit his business conflicts would be to liquidate his assets and buy Treasuries. Ain’t going to happen even if it were possible. But you can see how far he is from this, and I mean really, really far.

  31. V. Arnold

    Here is a superb article from Zero Hedge, of all places. It is an excellent overview of our economic, geo-political world from 1904 by English geographer Sir Halford Mackinder.
    I saw another article over a year ago about the very same thing. It resonates.

  32. realitychecker

    @ Ian

    I can clearly see you are not partisan, and neither am I. I’m just questioning the analysis, in good faith, because I think the issues involved are extremely complex from a legal standpoint. I also recognize the ethical analysis may be quite different from the legal one, but neither you nor I will ever be entirely satisfied with the ethics of anybody who has made it to the top of the mountain.

    But staying in a hotel and paying the going rate is not a quid pro quo as to other favors; it is just an equal exchange transaction which is complete in itself. Also, as Jim points out and I was already thinking about, if Trump’s businesses are incorporated, then they are indeed to be treated as separate individual persons under the law; I am sure we both agree that this aspect of corporate personhood is ridiculous (plus it stems from mere dictum in the 1870 Southern Pacific case, and no rationale for it has ever been articulated that I’ve been able to find); nevertheless, that is current law. I have to think that Trump could just not accept foreign officials as guests; there are plenty of other hotels they could stay at.

    Also, Clinton’s situation as SOS is not comparable, as she was clearly subject to the same federal ethics law that a President is specifically exempted from (per the statutes cited in the Turley link I provided). And your proposal that Trump should just sell all his businesses kind of proves too much, i.e., a private citizen with no assets can serve as President and get rich afterwards like Clinton did and Obama will, but a rich man has to give up everything he’s built up in his life to render that same service? That should bother a reasonable person, I think. As to the blind trust, this is not a stock portfolio we are talking about, which any competent market man could manage reasonably well. This is a real estate-plus-conglomerate that is unique to the point that finding an appropriate person to run it without waste would be very difficult. Must he get a leading competitor to run it?

    Like I said, extremely complex situation to analyze. I know that many people cheat in complex
    situations because it is easy to get away with, and that sucks, but having the Trump kids run the business, as Turley suggests, does not seem to me to run any risks greater than the ones we always have to tolerate.

    So, I don’t think any emphatic certainty based on simple distrust is really justified on these facts. (Just a fool’s opinion lol, it could change as we learn more, I suppose.)

  33. realitychecker

    My last comment was being typed before Hugh’s appeared, so there is some overlap. I will leave each to sort that out if and as they choose.

    I just want to add one more wrinkle to consider: under the law, real estate is considered to be unique and not fungible like other assets.

    I think we need some real experts to properly analyze this situation, if we cannot be satisfied with Turley’s analysis and conclusion.

  34. different clue


    If Trump wants to start a nuclear arms race, he is late to the party. Obama has already started it. Here is an article about that.

    So Trump hasn’t “started a nuclear arms race out of the blue”. Obama has already gotten it started. If Trump ratifies it then he is as low and evil as Obama himself, no doubt.

    But if he still wants to re-normalize relations with Russia, then my reason for voting for Trump to lower the chances of nuclear war with Russia specifically ( and I have always stated Russia speCIFICally in MYYYY comments) remains just as strong as before. It is nuclear war with Russia speCIFICally that would threaten all life on earth. Nuclear war with China would only threaten all life in America and China, which is bad for America and China. But not for everybody else.

  35. V. Arnold

    different clue
    December 24, 2016

    Nuclear war with China would only threaten all life in America and China, which is bad for America and China. But not for everybody else.
    I very much doubt the facts would back that up. It must be remembered the two bombs used on Japan were thousands of tons (kilo-tons) equivalent to TNT; todays nukes measure in the millions of tons (megatons).
    The world cannot survive even a limited exchange of nukes; at least the world as we know it.

  36. Mallam

    And yet, in leaked audio Clinton suggested she was going to reverse those plans. Somehow I doubt you’d be as charitable in your opinion, rc, had Clinton tweeted what Trump tweeeted.

    “The last thing we need,” she told the audience, “are sophisticated cruise missiles that are nuclear armed.”

    At the fund-raiser, Mr. Weber asked Mrs. Clinton about the modernization push and whether she, as president, would cancel the cruise missile, which he called a “particularly destabilizing, dangerous type of nuclear weapon.”

    “I certainly would be inclined to do that,” she answered. “The last thing we need are sophisticated cruise missiles that are nuclear-armed.”

    Mrs. Clinton went beyond the question to warn of an emerging nuclear arms race, naming Russia and China as well as Pakistan and India. “This is one of the most dangerous developments imaginable,” she told the audience.

    “Do we have to do any of it?” Mrs. Clinton asked. “If we have to do some of it, how much do we have to do? That’s going to be a tough question, so I will look to people like you and Bill Perry to help me answer that question.”

    Mr. Obama has said he wants to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in American strategy, and his aides have hinted he may believe the modernization program needs reconsideration. But he seems to have left that to his successor, and the cruise missile Mrs. Clinton spoke about so disparagingly remains in the Pentagon budget.

  37. V. Arnold

    different clue
    December 24, 2016
    Nuclear war with China would only threaten all life in America and China, which is bad for America and China. But not for everybody else.

    I would also add it’s a bit naive to think only the U.S. and China would go nuke; iirc, Russia and China have a mutual defense agreement.
    And, judging by past behavior the U.S. would attack both as a (laughable) “safety” precaution.
    The nuclear countries can never use those weapons, period.

  38. Ché Pasa

    As long as nuclear annihilation only threatens the Yellow Peril and the Brown Menace, what’s to worry, right?

    Ian was a bit blithe a while back by suggesting that China “only” has some hundreds of nuclear weapons at its disposal while the USofA has many, many thousands, thus implying that by force of numbers alone, the US could/would destroy China and annihilate the bulk of the Chinese population (yay?) while the paltry Chinese arsenal might not even be used due to who knows why.

    If the Chinese are definitionally Bad Guys — as they are in the neo-LibCon perspective shared by the current and incoming power players — then of course forcing their submission or wiping them out is the forward path. There is no other. It was long ago laid out in those New American Century documents as well as others.

    There’s apparently a disagreement over timing and priorities. That’s all. The Russian Federation’s demise is set to the side for now — perhaps — but it is still on the neo-LibCon hit list. Don’t fool yourselves.

    The idea that only the US and China would suffer were there a nuclear exchange between them is crackpot and absurd. Anybody who thinks otherwise has no idea what kind of consequences would result from use of nuclear weapons. None.

    Primary and immediate effects would be in China and the US. Secondary effects (primarily from nuclear fallout and release of radioactive materials) would severely affect the Koreas, Japan, Canada and Northern Europe (something about prevailing winds, ocean currents and so forth), with other areas nearby China suffering as well. Tertiary effects would be global and almost instantaneous primarily from severing of economic ties and the collapse of “free” trade between the workshop-China and the rest of the world, as well as the elimination of Chinese and US influence in the developing world. The devastating environmental consequences would follow closely in train. As if we didn’t already have plenty of those.

    Thus the likelihood of a nuclear exchange between the US and China is slim to none, but talking it up as a negotiating tactic is almost a given. Negotiating what? A better deal for the US? Or how about this: a better deal for the US kleptocracy and for their Chinese counterparts. Russia doesn’t have the kind of economic clout that China does, and their oligarchs are somewhat less troublesome to ours than China’s are or potentially could be, and besides… the Chinese are different ya know? They don’t think like us, they don’t act like us, they don’t live like us. They’re not like us. Not really. But wealth is a great leveler, isn’t it? Different as they may be, the growing number of Chinese billionaires have more in common with their US and European and global counterparts than not. The club may be a restricted and exclusionary one, and yet…

    The greater risk of nuclear war, I believe, is in the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East where Chaos is already the standard socio-political model. Both Pakistan and India have nuclear weapons and threaten periodically to use them, whereas — so far as we know — only Israel in the Middle East has nukes. On the other hand, allied nuclear powers are quite capable of inserting themselves into ongoing and potential conflicts in the region. They’re doing so now. Nothing at all would stop them from doing so in the future.

    Mr. Trump seems intent on precipitating armed conflict with Iran and exterminating that shadowy Muslim rebel force called by various names at various times and places. A proxy war using nuclear weapons between Israel and Iran seems more likely every day, regardless of US interests or wishes. Mr. Trump would not be able to control it even if he wanted to. As for those Muslim rebels, since they are nearly everywhere in the Middle East and spreading through the Western World like a cancer, their extermination would require what, exactly?

    It’s insanity no matter how you view it.

  39. Jim

    “Sorry children, if you’re arguing otherwise, you’re special pleading unless you were cool with Clinton keeping the Clinton foundation going. (Frankly, it shouldn’t have been running when Clinton was either a Senator or SoS.)
    Trump has significant overseas holdings, to pretend otherwise is ludicrous but even his domestic interest provide clear conflicts on interest.
    No, I don’t give the benefit of the doubt on these things. These are clear conflicts of interest. Fuck man, sensible people don’t even like it when a Senator’s wife is working for people he legislates.
    Folks don’t get something simple: I am not partisan any more.”

    Ok so now we are “children” if we don’t accept your view? And you claim that you are “not partisan any more”? So when exactly did you decide to leave partisanship behind? I for one have not noticed the switch yet. WTF

    That is clearly the statement of someone who knows they have lost the argument and is just acting out.

    Your emotions have gotten the better of you. The argument you are making is seriously weak and your defense of it smells strongly of partisanship.

    Don’t paint everyone else with your anguish.

    BTW I was a Bernie supporter and did not vote for either Trump or Clinton as I could not find enough daylight between them to figure out which was the most evil.

  40. Peter

    @Hugh and others

    Falling into the trap of responding to sound-bites and the Clintonite media’s interpretation just leads to more unfounded accusations and confusion.

    Trump made a boilerplate statement on US strength and capabilities in a nuclear world not long after Putin made a similar statement and they were both mostly for local consumption.

    The story that followed this is where things get interesting and is a basis for understanding what may happen in the future. Putin sent a letter on this subject to Trump on 12/15 and Trump said it was a nice letter. In it Putin called for cooperation on this issue and expressed a desire to avoid our countries taking a diverging path on future nuclear weapons development. Trump seems to agree so the hysteria about a new nuclear arms race may be overblown. The future will not be decided by the Clintonite media or squawking magpies but by the people responsible for these negotiations and decisions.

  41. A kleptocracy is not about money, it is about can steal the most money. Therefore in this system, the ability to steal money is more important than earning it. Remember the election of 2016 was stolen long before Trump came to realize that there was a lot of competition, and all he needed to was get a plurality of the voters to be with him.

  42. realitychecker

    It appears that some of our wisest and usually most balanced and nuanced comrades here, having been honest and accurate in describing our electoral choices as “shit sandwiches” during the whole election cycle, are now re-orienting themselves to focus on attacking the shit sandwich that actually got elected.

    I always respect the function of criticizing those in power who deserve the criticism, but I must say, unless they are ready to urge an immediate violent revolution, it seems a bit pointless to be so vociferous against the shit sandwich we actually have to live with before he even gets to generate results we might or might not like or find some merit in.

    It is a guarantee that, as we have a Republican President with a Republican Congress, we will get some things we don’t like. I think we will also get some things we like, but at best it will be only a mixed bag of results according to our lights. A mixed bag is good enough as a next development, considering our other option, IMO. (Keeping it real, and not indulging fantasy or wish fulfillment desires.)

    We are going to need to be more nuanced and discerning in our analyses this time around than ever before, if we are to live up to the standards we usually aim for. Most of the population will stay lost in their respective hysterias, we here have an obligation to try and be the sane ones, IMO.

    I think it will be helpful, as we move forward, to remember that the shit sandwich we chose was the only shit sandwich who even PROMISED to shake things up, to shake up what we all agree was a hopelessly corrupt and rigged duopoly system that was or should have been unacceptable to all thinking folks.

    There WILL be some shaking up of that carefully crafted corrupt system, we are already seeing that, and who knows what good will come out of that, but it seems obvious to me that if you want to get rid of something gargantuan and entrenched, you first must hope to see some crumbling around the edges. As that crumbling weakens the entrenched system, greater possibilities come into being.

    I will be watching and monitoring that crumbling around the edges.

  43. Ché Pasa

    The obvious error is believing that the corrupt duopoly is dead.

    Rather, we’re privileged to witness its apotheosis. Glory be.

  44. wendy davis

    @ Ché Pasa, good observations, but believe in or not, many of our rulers (can’t say about Mr. T), think that there are such things as ‘survivable limited nuclear strikes’. And yes, i write periodically on Kashimir (and Jammu) the unacknowledged elephant in the room. Now Congress just passed a bill in which it actually said that modi/india was given “major defense partner” or something similar following ash carter’s many visits w/ his counterpart in india cutting the deal/s.

    the status reportedly gives India the right to buy advanced weapons and weapons systems in the same way that NATO members and a few others can. why? the pivot to china, of course, and the supremacy of the US in the south china sea. warships and planes are already using bases in india.

    and fwiw: ‘Obama pledged to reduce nuclear arsenal, then came this weapon’, july 2015

    “Later, when nuclear explosives are added at the federal Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas, the bomb will have a maximum explosive force equivalent to 50,000 tons of TNT – more than three times more powerful than the U.S. atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, 70 years ago this August that killed more than 130,000 people.
    The U.S. government doesn’t consider the B61-12 to be new – simply an upgrade of an existing weapon. But some contend that it is far more than that.

    Hans Kristensen, a nuclear weapons expert at the nonpartisan Federation of American Scientists in Washington, is resolute that the bomb violates a 2010 Obama administration pledge not to produce nuclear weapons with new military capabilities.
    “We do not have a nuclear guided bomb in our arsenal today,” Kristensen said. “It is a new weapon.”

  45. Tom

    Nuclear War is actually is survivable once you understand targeting is done.

    The USSR unlike the US built ABM capability into the S-200 up and placed enough systems around their nation that the entire ICBM and SLBM capability of NATO was effectively negated while NATO and the US were completely open to Soviet ICBMs and SLBMs due to the decision to dismantle those defenses to free up manpower for Vietnam.

    It was estimated the US had to target 10% of all its ICBMs at Moscow just to run down the Interceptor Grid and the main Radar Base had 72 ICBMs targeted at it to ensure enough got through to scour it from the face of the Earth as whiting it out with atmospheric bursts wouldn’t work as the Radar Crews could simply switch to tagged radar pulses to then detect American Bombers coming in.

    Overall, US planners went from having 2,000 targets in its opening shots to just 30 targets, all located far from population centers and well shielded by ridges and natural obstacles that would minimize damage.

    In return, the US would be utterly devastated and the follow on Soviet Bombers would mop up the population centers if the US did not unconditionally surrender as the US dropped the ball on Civil Defense and Air Defense Assets opening the US to air launched cruise missiles.

  46. brian

    I read somewhere that China believes a Nuclear war to be more survivable then the USA does. China has large mountain ranges with many storage facilities for this survival. It has a multiple size of population to regrow from and culture and society that would allow it to sacrifice. China seems to not completely believe that nuclear war is MAD.

  47. Peter


    I suppose it’s useful for people to have opinions about these weapons decisions but when they use comparisons with WW2 era bombs to deflect from the fact that this new version of the B 61 is a much lower yield weapon than earlier versions I have to wonder if they are stuck in the Ban The Bomb era.

    Hans’ assertion that this over fifty year old gravity bomb design is a new weapon because it is now more accurate, lower yield and produces less fallout seems confused. These weapons are deterrents not intended for use except in very unlikely circumstances. In the unlikely event of this weapon being used without triggering an all out nuclear exchange isn’t it wiser to plan for less destruction and fallout.

    These more accurate JDAM equipped bombs may lead to the destruction of the megaton-yield gravity bombs which are much nastier weapons.

  48. StewartM


    Pardon me, but that’s horse hockey.

    1) Russian ABM capabilities have never been demonstrated (nor, really, has anyone else’s). We know our missile defense system doesn’t work some $40 billion later, and there’s hardly any evidence theirs does either.

    2) The assumption that the Russians target missiles instead of population and industrial centers is dubious. For starters, the accuracy of their missiles is most likely worse than the US, though really, anyone’s stated accuracy is probably a complete fiction given to a number of technical factors. To bet that your missiles have the accuracy to destroy missiles in hardened silos is a fool’s wager.

    The Russians may be actually more sensible than their starry-eyed Western war theorist counterparts and simply limit their targets they *know* they can wipe out–Western cities and industry–rather than engage in Strange-lovian mental fantasies that “if we take out their hardened ICBMs, and leave them only with weapons that can engage in city-destroying exchanges, then they’ll throw in the towel and give up!” This is the rationale behind the very calculations you present, and no sane person would make that supposition.

    In fact, back in 1962 during the Cuban missile crises, when the US had a decided superiority in all nuclear weapons, such a first strike was discussed…and the projection was that it would be successful, obliterating the Soviet Union completely with the US losing “only” a few million dead and a handful of major cities. When those present were told this, they sure didn’t embrace this prospect as a “victory”. Instead, everyone was aghast.

    3) The US/NATO has much greater missile reliability and preparedness than the Russians. The Russians cite a figure of 92 % reliability, but their tests, like some of ours, has a history of being carefully prepared and choreographed events which do not reflect reality (to quip one analyst, “if their developers and testers lie like ours, then we’ve got nothing to worry about”). Some Western estimates say more like one-third would just sit there as “duds” if you pressed the “fire” button (the newer Bulava missile has failed in 40 % of its tests!).

    Look at the preparation needed and perform to launch even a single rocket into space, and then think of winging that on the fly with hundreds or thousands of missiles, all at once.

    4) Russia has much more concentrated population centers and industrial centers than the US, and thus is *more* vulnerable and *less* survivable than that of the US, despite the alarmist cries to the contrary (hint: the head of Civil Defense has traditionally been a post in the Russian military where you dump off commanders you want to shelve).

    5) Too-many analyses tend to always picture these evaluations as purely a US-versus-Russia matchup. The Russians don’t perceive it that way; they include all their possible enemies, including NATO bloc countries and even China. By that metric, they are outnumbered in virtually every conceivable category, both conventional and nuclear, and they know it.

    For that reason, if nuclear war comes, it will be the West, not Russia, who is more likely to push the trigger. The Russians either know or suspect all the above to be true; it’s our side that is more wont to spout this propaganda.

  49. Hugh

    Why not concentrate on the shit sandwich who got elected? he will be the one with the power. The Trump supporters simply refuse to look at who Trump is, his history, his tantrums, and those he is choosing to run his Administration. Instead they overwrite him with all their hopes and wishes ignoring that the person they create in the process doesn’t exist. And some of them will defend this fiction to the bitter end and others will until the distance between their needs and this illusion becomes too great. But if past history is any indication, they will learn nothing from their experience.

  50. Ché Pasa

    @ WD

    Indeed, quite a few of the Overclass and their political and military servants have long believed not only in the survivability but the desirability of nuclear warfare. Not far up the road from our place is Jeffrey Epstein’s bolt hole for when everything goes to shit, and you can bet he expects to survive along with whoever else he shelters in his bunkers. Many of his ilk have made similar preparations.

    In reality, too many of that sort will survive whatever calamity comes our way. In the end, not many of the rest of us will.

    It’s wise not to focus too much on the sabre rattling over Russia or China. There are greater risks of nuclear holocaust than war with either of them. Those other risks grow as the Chaos spreads. There’s not a lot we, the Rabble, can do about it. At least not directly.

    And here by now some of us thought there ought to be some more swords into plowshares. But I guess not. Not in our lifetimes.

    Merry Christmas.

  51. realitychecker

    @ Hugh

    “Why not concentrate on the shit sandwich who got elected?”

    Well, I guess because for the last couple of years I’ve seen everybody who thought they could predict him be made to look foolish. (I knew the very day he brought Kelly Ann Conway on board that he would win, FWIW.)

    Granted, you are smarter than most who were wrong, but I think it is a mistake to think you have him totally figured out at this point. I think he’s shown flashes of brilliance already, setting up opening negotiating positions on several key fronts.

    I guess we’ll see.

    But don’t assume I’m a cultist for him, that would be wrong. My fall back, as I’ve stated, is that if he betrays his supporters like Obama did, that will move the citizenry closer to the fighting point.
    I just think he’s probably the last chance there is to avoid that necessity.

  52. wendy davis

    @ Peter: given that:

    “Kristensen’s organization was formed in 1945 by nuclear scientists who wanted to prevent nuclear war. And it’s not the maximum force of the B61-12 that worries him the most on that front.

    Instead, he says he fears that the bomb’s greater accuracy, coupled with the way its explosive force can be reduced electronically through a dial-a-yield system accessed by a hatch on the bomb’s body, increases the risk that a president might consider it tame enough for a future conflict…. and that this is a new bomb, of course he’s saying that it breaks obama’s ‘pledge’. additionally, i can’t see why you’d think that these would replace the bigger, more badass bombs equipped w/ joint direct attack munitions’ kits. wiki said that they weren’t all that accurate in any even (ooops), not just add to the arsenal.

    i can sorta see why you see the precision guidance system as a red herring, or maybe even their destructive capabilities, but to me, yes: ban the bomb. less destruction/better guidance a plus? guess i just can’t see it that way, but i guess ‘who doesn’t survive limited nuclear strikes’ isn’t a question that US patriots are supposed to ask, is it? but hey; on the other hand, it’s small enough for slim pickens to ride all the way down, eh?

    ha; i just read this a.m. that israel says it will consider signing the non-proliferation treaty in…five years. but why did i think the trillions for ‘upgrades’ had something to do w/ dismantling the dangerous old ones in faulty silos? i can’t really remember.

    @ Ché Pasa: just fancy building a ‘survivable’ bolthole (yeah, backyard versions were plentiful post-bay-of-pigs) and coming out when one believed it would be ‘safe’ to? i keep coming back to the old ‘wooden ships’ song: ‘can ya tell me please, who…won the war’? who’s going to try those purple berries first? will epstein have sheltered a taster?

    merry holidays to you and miz, as well. not too merry around here, but we’ll give it a go, anyway. might make some eggnog in a minute…just cuz ya can add brandy. (smile)

  53. Blissex

    «Trump owns properties in foreign countries as well as a Hotel in DC. He will be receiving money from foreign governments. He already has, from diplomats on the state dime, staying at his DC hotel.»

    In the same way Obama receives additional royalties when his book is sold to public libraries in Russia. That is a foreign “emolument” if one thinks that he would change the foreign policy of the USA in order to sell more copies of his books to russian public libraries.

    Apart from ridiculous arguments about presidents being influenced by the prospect of additional sales of hotel room stays or books, one of the arguments that Trump has used and resonates with the public and is quite credible is that since he is a billionaire already he is far less likely to be influenced by the prospect of post-office “consulting” and “speaking” fees even in the scale of dozens of millions as have gone to the Clintons and Blair etc., and any explicit quid-pro-quo needs to be pretty gigantic to be noticeable at his level of wealth.

    The real conflict of interest is not that a billionaire might be bribable by the prospect of bigger hotel room bookings, but that his billionaire mindset and what he regards as reasonable and fair may be very different from those of his voters; some reports about other billionaires show that they can be totally out of touch in a world of their own.

  54. Peter


    I understand why people such as Hans are fearful of anything nuclear weapons related because they are targets but his Mad Man president scenario is contrived BS. These bombs also have a dial that allows the weapons master to fry the electronics in the bomb as a counter to such or any other possible crazy scenario. These B-61’s are already accurate bunker-busters and improving that accuracy just means that those people sitting in those bunkers are being encouraged to behave themselves.

    The survivability notion is another contrived fear tactic that somehow someone with these illusions will take control and drop the big one. Individuals and groups would survive but western industrial civilization would fall and these insane survivors would probably be locked out of any bolt-holes if the unlikely war happened. Theirs would be the first genes sane people would want to chlorinate from the gene pool.

  55. Mallam

    Donations to campaigns are paltry in the grand scheme of how much they raise in total. By this new Trumpian logic why should we care about the few thousands here and there from campaign contributions? After all, what’s a few thousand when they’re raising hundreds of millions?

  56. Peter


    Taking petty shots at Trump just makes you look petulant. Trump’s campaign victories have shown everyone, twice, that the advantages of Big Money/ Citizens United can be countered although it still requires a lot of money.

    The sweet thing about this victory is that the MSM was denied over $500,000,000 in revenues for political ads that Trump showed were unnecessary to win the election. That loss along with the humiliation of their Red Queen explains why we are seeing the MSM displaying the same petulance as their losses mount.

  57. Peter


    The fact that you rely on politico for information or believe what Moonves might say to the rubes just shows your laughing is based more on hysteria than humor.

  58. Blissex

    «By this new Trumpian logic why should we care about the few thousands here and there from campaign contributions? After all, what’s a few thousand when they’re raising hundreds of millions?»

    There is a qualitative difference between indirect, remote profits from sales abroad or to foreign customers (hotel room bookings, book royalties) and direct contributions; and the latter have always been considered legal “up to a limit” (removed by recent Supreme Court decisions).

    There is also among direct contributions a big difference in fact between small and large campaign contributions. Those who donate «a few thousand» don’t get appointed as ambassadors to France. Only large donations may influence a candidate because they are hard to replace easily. The small donations only matter when they are clearly part of a trend, where many small donors would stop donating if the candidate disappointed them. But that’s part of the “representative democracy” game.

    Anyhow consider the huge difference between Clinton, Trump and Sanders:

    * The Clintons chasing the big corporate money for donations, having chased sm all and big foreign powers money for “speaking fees” and “consultancies” and “donations to the foundation”.
    * Sanders raising a lot of small donations via “crowdsourcing” as in effect the unions used to do from their members.
    * Trump spending his own money from a large number of smaller business ventures.

    Obviously Sanders was the best of the three in this too.
    That’s rather a more realistic talk than about seeking tenuous connections by taking a very wide interpretation of foreign “emoluments”.

    A lot of people should understand the difference between legal and political limits to misbehaviour: the legal restrictions on politicians exist to enable the removal of obviously bad politicians even if they are popular, and ordinary civil and criminal law still applies to them (but GW Bush and BH Obama have not been prosecuted for publicly boasting about ordering murders); beyond that wise people recognize that it is up to the voters to fire the politicians that misbehave.

  59. Jerry

    To everyone who is crying about Trump I ask, would you rather have the whore hillary? Trump isn’t in office yet, not for about a month, and all of you losers are crying and moaning already. We are getting rid of someone like all of you losers voted for, were getting rid of the biggest loser in history, a warmonger like the whore you voted for. I’m not for any war but if the people in this country during the second world war were like you losers we would have lost the war.

  60. Mallam

    Well thanks for allowing me to know your opinions on any matter can safely be ignored, Peter, since quotes directly from CBS executives can be also be ignored by virtue of who reported it. Which source would be good enough for you? Every other media source reported the same quote.

    Blissex: there is no difference. First of all, Trump did not “spend his own money” or “fund his own campaign”. Jesus Christ man, he’s funding his inauguration through corporate donations. Second, this matter is very specific to Trump, someone who values loyalty above all else. His confidantes specifically lobbied people to go to his hotels — to the point that they changed reservations from one hotel to his to curry favor.

    The only person who ran who was not corrupt was Sanders. All of your hatred towards Clinton is blinding you to Trump’s corruption and the policies he will enact. It’s sad and pathetic.

  61. Peter


    I think Trump used the same kind of fundraising plan for his campaign as Sanders did seeking many smaller donations directly from individuals and it worked. I don’t think it’s legal to use campaign funds for the inauguration.

    Sanders doesn’t appear to be financially corrupt but he is as crooked as any other politician perhaps more so after seeing the charade he put on to support the Red Queen and bring the disenchanted back to the fold. He is still acting like some kind of Clintonite attack dog but he is firmly in the loser/quisling category. Just another unproductive politician who barks loudly but produces little.

    You can’t be so slow to not have noticed that your link/quote was from nine months before the election and was a happy faced projection about an uncertain future. See if anyone has asked Moonves about this lately and you will probably see a grumpy face mumbling something about Deplorables.

    I’m looking forward to the New Year where no one will care to talk about a humiliated, powerless, two time loser Red Queen.

  62. Mallam


  63. realitychecker

    @ Mallam

    Which of your FAVORITE PRESIDENTS DID NOT ACCEPT CORPORATE DONATIONS for their inaugaration, genius?

  64. realitychecker

    @ Mallam

    Which of your FAVORITE PRESIDENTS DID NOT ACCEPT CORPORATE DONATIONS for their inauguration, O Great Partisan Critic?

  65. realitychecker

    Sorry for the inadvertent dupe–pick one lol.

  66. Mallam

    Hey man, I’m not the one humping Clinton’s leg talking up about how incorruptible she was despite her campaign contributions. That’s youz guys with Trump. So you can say you preferred him to Clinton (lol — if you’re at that point why even vote?), but gtfo this “he’s not corrupt” bullshit. You know how soon I knew Obama would be a disappointment? When he picked Rahm Emanuel to be his CoS. Looks like you guys will need some blockgranting of Medicaid, privatization of Medicare, tax cuts for the rich, and SS cuts to take a hint — even though his admin’s staff is a blaring red horn signaling you got conned.

    Which reminds me, since you asked, Obama did not take corporate funding of inauguration in 2009, but he did in 2013.

  67. realitychecker

    @ Mallam

    So, then, are you saying that Obama was your favorite President?

  68. Peter


    We have to be careful about these corporate donations especially when they involve grifter political parasites such as the Clintons and even Obama. These kinds of people build their lives on being influenced.

    Trump will be a corporation until he takes his oath of office and these sums of money might be described a petty cash by someone in his position and he is also donating to this fund.

    Hopefully Obama will perform his duties and not allow the snowflakes to get out of hand during the Soros funded part of the program.

  69. different clue


    Speaking of getting conned . . . if we get more of the same Cold War 2.0 with Russia, and if Trump adopts the Clintonite “Assad Must Go” Prime Directive for Middle East Policy, and if
    we get the same sort of cosmetically-changed TTIP, TTP, etc. that the Clintonites planned to impose upon us, then I too will come back on here and admit how conned I was.

  70. Lisa

    StewartM: I’m with you on this one…’limited’ nuclear war is one of those endless and damned dangerous fantasies that never seems to die (bit like the flat earth ‘theory’). As is ‘first strike’ or ABM defences. Far less dangerous but as absurd and still amazingly prevalent is ‘beyond visual range’ (BVR) air fighting.

    These military fantasies keep going around…and failing,

    Look the most important wars in recent times were the 2006 Lebanon, 2008 Georgia and even more so in many ways 2014 Donbass.

    In each of those cases the dominant western military doctrine and often equipment were predicted to win…and all lost, badly.

    The whole eastern Ukraine war should be a big wake up call for western militaries…it won’t of course, no more so than the British and French in 1940 or the Soviets in 1941.

    Of all of them I find it the most interesting, here was a force of multiple miltias (many with basic military training) against a far larger force, with more equipment, men and and also an air force. And thumped them in multiple battles. As the Kiev forces ran out the numbers started to equalise, but at first they had a 5:1 advantage, far more tanks ..and of course that airforce.

    Mobility, on the ground intelligence (most from the R/S groups, SAS like forces) and clever use of artillery showing the old rule that if a heavy tank (etc) force is cut off you have 1-3 days to get them out or break through to support them or they are dead. A tank without fuel is just a hunk of metal that is a target. And in this so called era of air forces and ‘precision strikes’…good old artillery is still one of the most powerful battlefield weapons around if used properly.

    The most amazing thing was that Kiev lost virtually it entire air force from mobile (mostly man carried) anti-aircraft missiles.. the lost art of ‘Flak traps’ writ large.

    Watching Israel getting hammered by Hezbollah in 2006 should have rang alarm bells everywhere in the western militaries…but didn’t of course.

    The Russians showed that they could learn, so did the British ..eventually and only because of that weird little man Monty, after which they went back to their bad old days. The US never really did, they got, finally to a state of being ..reasonable in WW2 by ’45. Then gave up all they learned and proceeded to repeat all their mistakes in Korea and Vietnam. The same mistakes they carry on to today and because they are so dominant they have infected every western military force with the same diseases.

  71. Ché Pasa

    The problem isn’t so much that Trump is corrupt (he is) as that he is of the corrupter class — as are most of those he is assembling to run the country on his behalf.

    Those who know what sort of business practices he’s engaged in may or may not shake their heads at his elevation, but from what little the rest of us know about it, we should bringing the whole rotten affair to a screeching halt.

    His businesses — casinos, high end real estate development, entertainment, licensing, etc. — are notorious for their barely concealed corruption up and down the line. This is no mystery. Nor is it any mystery that Trump has a habit of stiffing workers and contractors, using the courts to quash contract disputes, paying off some plaintiffs while squeezing every dime and then some out of others, and orchestrating chaos as a means to his own ends. This is not business as usual. It is a particular kind of business practice that is widely employed by members of his class but is generally — and deliberately — unavailable to the working stiffs or anyone else caught in his vise.

    He’s learned from some of the masters, like Roy Cohn and others — including crime family heirs with whom he attended New York Military Academy in his youth.

    As corruptible as most of our political class is and long has been, they can at times serve as intermediaries between the demands of the corrupting class and the needs and interests of the People.

    Screaming about the Clintons’ corruption while ignoring who has been doing the corrupting and to what end (hello), and particularly while ignoring Trump’s own corrupting and destructive efforts, is one of the many examples of just how off the rails crazy our politics has become. Debating who is more corrupt is nonsense.

    The political system and governance are themselves so deeply and irredeemably corrupt that they cannot be reformed or saved by political means. It won’t happen.

    What you get with Trump is direct rule by the corrupting class. If indirect rule by the corrupted class has been so very awful (it has been) what makes you think that direct rule by the corrupting class will be any better ? (it won’t be).

    In what way is chaos better than a rickety and fragile order? How is threating to exterminate the Heathen Chinee and/or the Persian Horde somehow less bloody and death dealing than brinkmanship toward the (formerly) Red Menace in Moscow? It’s simply choosing different targets, not changing the ingrained aggressive and hostile approach toward real, potential, or fictional rivals.

    How does the end of the Republic result in a better outcome for the people of the United States and the world?

    Just what is it that makes anyone believe that putting plutocrats and their cronies in charge of the US government is somehow preferable to a long-enduring but faulty and anachronistic republic?

    The governing class and the interests they serve are irredeemably corrupt which means to me that the Republic cannot be saved in its current form; putting one faction of the corrupters in direct control of the government in order to serve their personal interest in power and money is intrinsically destabilizing with unpredictable but likely catastrophic results.

    In the end, the grievances we argue over now will be forgotten.

  72. Peter


    Are you trying to rally the snowflakes for another failing attempt to bring down the Hun’s Tower? You should be handing out Play-Doh and coloring books to the shell-shocked little troopers and trying to improve your weak losing Clintonite talking points.

    The Clintonites have made displaying foolishness, ignorance and boorish behavior into an art form, or they seem to think so, most normal people would rather see some realism.

    You might want to stifle your unsupported outbursts about the casino business being corrupt living in Indian Casino/Resort country. When your activists Indian friends thaw out and return from ND they might want to talk to CP about his attitude.

  73. Mallam


    Donors also represent 39 percent of the 119 people Trump reportedly considered for high-level government posts, and 38 percent of those he eventually picked, according to the analysis, which counted candidates named by the transition and in news reports.

    While campaign donors are often tapped to fill comfy diplomatic posts across the globe, the extent to which donors are stocking Trump’s administration is unparalleled in modern presidential history, due in part to the Supreme Court decisions that loosened restrictions on campaign contributions, according to three longtime campaign experts.

  74. Peter


    ‘Longtime campaign experts’ another group of parasites feeding at the trough while producing nothing of real value but they must publish or perish.

    These are probably some of the same ‘experts’ who told the rubes who listen to them that Trump would lose, right up until he won.

  75. Mallam

    Shorter Peter: “shut up shut up shut up! Trump isn’t corrupt!”

    You’re like the people living on the Florida coasts who refuse to acknowledge rising seas — until you’re drowning.

  76. different clue

    People uniquely appalled by Trump should remember that Trump is specifically Clinton’s gift to the nation. The Clintonites and the Democratic Party and the CFP MSM colluded to work the “pied piper” strategy . . . which refers to elevating the most bizarre Republican nominee-wannabes in hopes of disposing of the less bizarre ones. The theory was that a truly bizarre Rep Nom would be so unelectable that even the detestable Borg Monster Clinton would win. So the Clintonite Shitocrat Party and its MSM free-media-ed and otherwise elevated Trump into the Republican nomination. Clearly Clinton thought she learned something from how Nixon and Nixon’s CREEP selected McGovern as the most defeatable candidate to run against. Clearly the Clintonites thought they would work the same racket to get the Beatable Trump.

    How ironic, then, that Trump would be the “her own petard” upon which the evil Clinton was hoist. Let every piece of Clintonite Shitocrat filth trash garbage reading these comments remember that. Trump was YOUR dear leader’s choice and YOUR gift to the nation. God Damned Clintonite scum.

  77. realitychecker

    @ Mallam

    What is your point, sir? Exactly what is your point?

    That Trump is not Saint Trump? You think anyone thought he was?

    Trump did not win because people thought he would be pure as the driven snow in all his actions. He won because he was NOT CLINTON, NOT the SAME ESTABLISHMENT that has been pissing on the working class for decades.

    Remember when people criticizing Obama were admonished by Dem loyalists for expecting “sparkle ponies and unicorns”?

    Well, the Trump people were more street-savvy, they probably expected to get a candidate who had some flaws, but they felt that Trump was the only one on the menu who looked like an outsider and who was even talking about doing anything the working class wants and needs to see done. And they saw how every Establishment element hated him.

    So, you just continue to be ‘surprised’/’disappointed’ that he chooses people who helped him get elected, rather than rely on only the same old Establishment/insider types he specifically ran against and who opposed him every step of the way until he crushed them electorally.

    I imagine that he knows he could be appointing guys like you, but figures you could not be trusted to be loyal.

  78. Hugh

    Here’s an exercise for the Trumped. Go through his Cabinet and adviser selections and state how singly and together the result will help ordinary Americans and create the society we want to live in.

    What I see is a lot, and I mean yuuuge amounts, of reading into Trump what his supporters may want, but which isn’t there either in him or those selections. I saw the same phenomenon with Sanders and his supporters. They were simply too busy projecting their hopes on to him to actually listen to what he was saying or notice what he was doing. Sanders said at the beginning of his candidacy that he was a fake candidate and that he would betray his followers. And in the end, that’s exactly what he did. Yet there are still quite a few of them who look on Bernie fondly and still don’t accept or rationalize like hell his betrayal of them.

    With Trump, the disconnect/betrayal is, well to repeat myself, yuuuge, orders of magnitude larger than with Sanders. Yet rather than start assessing what is coming in the next few months and years, and since it will impact them negatively, how to combat it, they prefer to remain lost in their delusions. Or worse invoke Clinton. Here’s a clue. Clinton became absolutely irrelevant to pretty much anything on November 8th. If all you’ve got is her to beat anyone over the head with, then you’ve got nothing.

    And as for Trump, it’s like we’re on a train seconds from hitting a washed-out bridge and smashing into the rocks below. All I’m hearing from the Trumped is that we can’t, and shouldn’t, say anything bad until we actually hit the rocks. In fact, we shouldn’t even point out that the bridge is gone or that Trump chose this particular track. What this says to me is that the level of their desperation is beyond yuuuge. And just because it is so astronomical, I can’t help but think they must know on some level that they are and will be royally fucked.

  79. different clue

    I am not aware of any betrayal of anyone or anything on Sanders’ part. He said right at the start that if he did not get the DemParty nomination, he would support whoEVer did. Meaning . . . including Clinton. That’s exactly what he promised and thats exactly what he did. So where is the betrayal?

  80. James Montgomery

    Consider the Affordable Care Act. Is that not kleptocracy enshrined in law? Under its terms an insurance company selling group health insurance can take 20% off the top of all premiums for non-medical expenses–that means profits to investors, fat, fat salaries for executives, private planes, country club memberships, advertising, lobbying fees and other such stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with the insurees health. Consider also that Medicare covers all of its non-health related expenses for less than three percent. Is not that 17% difference the very definition of kleptocratic behavior. And it is in Obama’s proudest legislative accomplishment.

    Finally, if an insurance company is selling an individual rather than a group policy it can rake of 25%.

  81. realitychecker

    @ Hugh

    Gee, this is really getting tiresome.

    Those you decry say, “Wait and see what he does, we like some of the things he promised to do, he isn’t even in office yet, and our other choice was unacceptable.”

    You (and others) say, “How stupid you are to say you want to wait and see what he does, I’m telling you right now he will break ALL his promises and do nothing for the people who voted for him.”

    So, what is the cost of waiting and seeing?

    Or, what is it that you, in your certainty, would urge that we should be doing right now, before Trump actually has a chance to do something bad?

    Should we start shooting now? Sign another petition? What, exactly, should we do right now if we were to follow your lead?

    Hugh, I have so much respect for you, I really hope it’s not about protecting the record so you can claim later that you were the first one who “told us so.”

    I don’t think that many here who supported Trump did so without knowing they were going for the long shot. I certainly knew it. But with Clinton, there was no shot. So I took the long shot.

    It’s not accurate, IMO, for you to portray long-shot takers as blind cultish dupes for waiting and seeing. I would find your attitude more justifiable if you in fact had some great idea of what we could do right now that would make a real difference, rather than waiting to see some actual results from President Trump.

    Do you have any such great idea? If you do, please share it with us.

  82. Hugh

    different clue, Sanders had the choice of standing with his supporters or a corrupt party machine and its even more corrupt nominee. He chose Clinton and the party pols over his supporters , the people who worked for him, believed in him, and sent him their donations. What part of this do you have trouble understanding? It doesn’t make it OK that he, as well as people like me and the BAR, warned you about Sanders from the getgo. It just makes you simps or seriously unserious about really changing anything. Gee, he promised to betray us, and you gotta respect a man who keeps his promises. Save us.

    Re Trump, partly it is now put up or shut up time, partly it is I’m interested in seeing how Trump’s supporters square what they think his positions are with the people he is filling his Administration with. For me, he is saying in hundred foot high bright flashing neon letters that he intends to fuck over the lot of us. So much as I don’t get the blindingly obvious falsity at the heart of the Sanders campaign, I don’t get the “benefit of the doubt”, “give him a chance”, “it’s too early to tell” bit with Trump. He’s telling you where he’s coming from. You just aren’t listening.

    The way to combat Trump, or Clinton, or Sanders, is organizing outside the parties and offering real answers and real alternatives. And the place to begin is in looking at and thinking about the society you actually want to live in, and to stop thinking you can have the current one with all of its glaring inequalities and defects just with a few new programs, or even more laughably some billionaire insider masquerading as an outsider for the rubes.

  83. different clue


    The oftener you repeat yourself, the boringer you get.

  84. Ché Pasa

    As Hugh and many others have documented, Obama was a far subtler and more devious conman than Trump could ever hope to be. This is probably part of why they seem to get along so well. Birds of a feather and all that. But in this case, the younger is teaching the older a trick or two.

    Trump is a whirlwind of chaos. He lies as easily as he breathes, and he laughs at his marks while he does so. He tells them not to listen to him and not to believe what he says or tweets, but they listen and believe anyway. Because they need to believe. The defenses and apologetics from Trump followers almost exactly parallel those offered up on behalf of Obama as he executed one betrayal after another. And most of them will keep defending Trump to the bitter end. They can’t let go. Any more than most of Obama’s defenders can.

    Clinton’s principal failure — one that many observers recognized early on would potentially be her undoing — was that she could not con the Rabble the way either Obama or Trump — or her husband — could. It was a big part of the undoing of the other Republican candidates as well. They couldn’t run a con like Trump could.

    Sanders was consistently making a case, arguing on behalf of a sort of modest neo-New Deal as a corrective to the overreach of the Ruling Class. He’s still doing it. He argues on behalf of a set of policies and programs to (slightly) mitigate and curb the crises generated by nearly unfettered capitalism. These policies and programs would be instituted through the regular order of Congressional debate and lawmaking, and with primary advocacy by, from, and through the Democratic Party.

    It’s easy to see what’s wrong with this picture. Not only does it not match his own stated “Democratic Socialist” political leanings, it has almost no support within the Democratic Party’s hierarchy and funding community. As we saw during the primaries and much of the general election, it was far more important to those people to crush the “left” — or any semblance of it — than it was to win elections. This is neoliberal doctrine. The threat to neoliberal dominance is always from the ::left::, and it is the ::left:: that must be vanquished come what may. In other words, it’s always better to have the Rs — no matter how reactionary — in charge than to risk the rise of the ::left::.

    Add in the problem of a dysfunctional “regular order” in Congress and everywhere else in the nation’s governance, an almost total rejection of the very idea by the governing class and both major parties as well as by their owners and sponsors, and it should be clear that Sanders’ neo- New Deal is little more than a pipe dream — barring something unlikely and unforeseen.

    On the other hand, unless there is serious resistance, Trump will offer a path to the ultimate triumph of the neoLibCon project. The Democrats will not offer that resistance, nor will Bernie. They simply do not have it in them to do what is necessary to bring this monstrous experiment in mis-rule to an end. In most respects they back the neoLibCon project against the interests of the People, and they long ago adopted the premise that there is no alternative and that governing contrary to the interests of the People was almost always best. The political process itself is set up to guarantee that outcome.

    The most effective resistance would be to make it impossible for The Powers That Be to govern.

    That doesn’t necessarily mean a violent revolution, though it could.

    Non-cooperation is the key. Some local governments are already stating they will not cooperate with various aspects of the Trumpian program — should they be enacted. That’s a start, but non-cooperation has to extend far beyond the limited efforts of mayors and city councils to establish sanctuaries and such like. Or of states to go it alone with renewable energy programs or whatever else they choose to do as opposed to what they are told to do from the faction of the Overclass ruling from DC.

    Sustained non-cooperation eventually results in autonomy. If the ruling factions of the Overclass cannot rule because too many of their subjects say no and refuse to willingly cooperate, the project collapses. The positive alternative is devolution of power — let the refusniks go their own way. The negative alternative is to crush all resistance with force and impose rule from above. But as we’ve seen over and over, it doesn’t take much serious opposition to fight that ne0-imperial idea of rule to a standstill.

  85. V. Arnold

    December 27, 2016
    It just makes you simps or seriously un-serious about really changing anything.

    Change? Mercy, are you mad?
    You’re talking to a nation of sheep; shorn of all critical thinking skills.
    We all know who ran for office; the deplorable’s in all their glory.
    It really didn’t matter who won; Usian’s lost regardless.
    Wake up and smell the coffee.
    I have to seriously question your own grasp on the reality of just where you live and under what government you function.
    I live under a military junta and find it far less fear inspiring than what I fled almost 14 years ago. And by the way; this is the second coup in that time. In the sycophantic U.S., a coup is automatically condemned and ridiculed/sanctioned. More ignorance and western propaganda to demonize a foreign government NOT under U.S. control.
    S.E. Asia in general is drifting quickly away from U.S. hegemon; thank the gods.
    In-between coups, under “democratically” (cough) elected governments, was a lot of violence; but long periods of peace (social) under those regimes (coups) and my immediate family and myself suffered no loss of freedom, period.
    IMO, most Usian’s have no concept of the true meaning of freedom. Mostly because they’ve lost most of theirs.
    I will offer; in a world turned upside down (the west) it’s very difficult to maintain an accurate understanding of one’s true position.

  86. V. Arnold

    I will offer; in a world turned upside down (the west) it’s very difficult to maintain an accurate understanding of one’s true position.

    But, that is not offered as an excuse for gross ignorance and willful, intellectual laziness.
    The question not asked is; how did this happen?
    The answer is obvious to anybody with half an operational brain.
    The answer is education; genuine education; but that will take determination and the one thing not available; time.
    We’re plumb out of that…

  87. realitychecker

    @ Hugh

    So, we are back to “organizing,” meaning playing within the election system we agree is hopeless?

    Say it ain’t so. Don’t you realize yet that the left can’t even organize the toilet paper in an outhouse? That it has no ideas beyond magical thinking?

    With all due respect, if that is the best idea/action plan you have as justification for not giving Trump a chance to show what he is really about (Note: You seem to have forgotten that he knows how to say “You’re fired” if he doesn’t like what his appointees do), then I think a reasonable person should just sit back and watch for the next six months, and see what happens.

    Taking shots based on raw speculation at the only figure on the field who is not ALREADY FUCKING US doesn’t seem smart to me. It’s almost like you are trying on the sheepdog role with your current posture.

    Time to reconsider, perhaps?

  88. realitychecker

    @ different clue

    IMO, Hugh has it exactly right re Sanders; in the final analysis, he chose keeping his status in the political club over being true to his supporters and his professed principles the second he endorsed and started campaigning for Clinton.

  89. Peter

    Back in the land of the walking dead the remaining defeated Clintonite forces in the WH and Congress are trying desperately to lay some IED’s to derail the Trump/Putin peace train. Besides some dirty cyber tricks aimed at Russia the sanctions they want require real evidence of real damage to our election system which they really can’t produce.

    The other reason for this rush to at least get this nonsense before Congress was admitted in the report. The Clintonites already see another crushing defeat coming in 2018 and because this BS almost worked, at least in their own tiny minds, having this excuse handy and on the record is just their warped minds preplanning for their dismal future. .

  90. Hugh

    If you support any Democrat or any Republican, you are simply validating a system whose purpose is to screw you over and loot you. So either start organizing outside the two parties or quit complaining. If this sounds repetitive, so be it, it does not make it any the less true. As long as you stay within the two parties, you’ve already been sheepdogged. As long as you continue to support candidates who say they will fight for you and make it clear from the start they won’t, well, you are fulfilling Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

    Sanders had a reputation for talking a good game and then folding long before he ran for President. He did it so much it, and he, were a standing joke in Washington. So what did he do? He talked a good game again and folded again. Hoocoodanode?

    Trump has been rich and served the interests of the rich his whole life. He has given every indication in his personnel picks that he will continue to do the same. So is he going to fight for ordinary Americans? Is he going to leave his blood on the floor for them? Of course not. All he’s done so far is write a few checks, and not even very big ones given his wealth, and that wasn’t for them but the office. But one red corpuscle? now or ever? for them? Come on, the guy’s 70. If you can’t figure out who he is by now, you never will.

  91. Peter

    It seems by now you would be tiring of your own arrogant projecting as are others here. I don’t recall seeing many if any comments here validating, whatever that means, Trump or the system. Acknowledging his accomplishments, killing the TPP and saving some jobs for Christmas are just comments on events with no projection of things to come although they could be.

    You seem to be assuming the role of the Mad Preacher on his soapbox claiming special knowledge about the future and warning the ignorant heathens of their imminent disappointment and doom.

    In fact the only people facing imminent disappointment and doom are the Clintonites and the dreamers and failures of the liberal left. Trump’s supporters have a huge victory to celebrate and they seem to have a president that wants to represent them, but time will tell.

    Those Trump supporters along with the many people who despised the Red Queen and all she represented have much to celebrate this New Year. None of us will be required to view her snout in the banksters trough or listen to a word she may have to say, ever again.

    I think what really frightens people such as yourself and other liberals is that Trump might be somewhat successful and actually try to represent the people who brought him to power. Liberals were so traumatized by Obama’s near total and immediate betrayal and the Red Queens humiliation that they can’t help but want others to feel as badly as they do.

  92. realitychecker

    @ Hugh

    “If you support any Democrat or any Republican, you are simply validating a system whose purpose is to screw you over and loot you.”

    Well, that’s where I’ve been for more than ten years, so no disagreement there.

    BUT, maybe when one runs as a clear outsider, and the enmity of all insiders of his party plus all other Establishment players attest to that outsider status, maybe then we should give that guy a little room to show his true colors through actual actions in power.

    There is still room to accommodate a number of plausible hypotheses that he will do some things that are good for non-billionaires. Trump is all about being a tough negotiator, and tough negotiators don’t lay all their cards on the table before the negotiation begins. If he is for real, he probably won’t pursue his agenda exactly like a progressive would anticipate, but the net net could still be very good for regular folks. I just don’t see anything wrong with waiting to see some real results,


    “So either start organizing outside the two parties or quit complaining. If this sounds repetitive, so be it, it does not make it any the less true.”

    That IS repetitive, and believing that progressives or other regular folks can or would do what you suggest with ANY degree of effectiveness in the lifetime of anyone living, is a concept so lacking in evidence or successful precedent that it cannot be taken seriously as a better plan than either giving Trump a chance or immediately starting a real revolution as the top agenda item.

    Maybe, after giving this some more thought, YOU will be the one to ‘quit complaining,’ at least for awhile? You’ve previously indicated a lean in favor of revolution for real change; it’s incongruous now to see you fall back into “organizing.”

    Waiting to see what Trump actually produces is probably a better option than either revolution or organizing, cost-benefit-wise, from where we are right now.

    Later on, who knows?

    “So either start organizing outside the two parties or quit complaining. If this sounds repetitive, so be it, it does not make it any the less true.

  93. realitychecker

    EDIT: Supposed to end with, “Later on, who knows?”

    All I wanted for Christmas was an edit feature lol.

  94. Peter


    You might want to read AT Kingsmith’s essay in the 12/23 edition of CP, High Anxiety: Capitalism and Schizoanalysis. It relates to the people that must be organized now that Capitalism has won.

  95. realitychecker

    @ Peter

    Read it, bookmarked it. Food for thought, even if my background in psychology makes me want to instinctively recoil from the jargon lol.

    Bottom line: still leaves us searching for the undiscovered magic way to change how people think, so as to change how they act. The framings are interesting, but can you imagine getting the common man to digest that whole article lol? The road from theory to effective practice can be a long and arduous and disappointing one, as you well know.

    Thanks for the reference.

  96. Peter


    I had the same lol response thinking about how to translate Kingsmith’s jargon into English for the masses.

    Revolutions have been mostly imagined and led by elite actors so that seems to be his target audience. The inverted totalitarian conditioning of the cannon-fodder needed for revolution may be impossible to overcome. If I see large numbers of young and not so young people lining up to burn their I-Phones I might change my mind.

  97. different clue


    We will just have to accept that we disagree on the Sanders events. Everyone smart enough to know “something” knew that he was always a work-within-the-system person. His leftishness is fairly material and pragmatic and may be influenced by the Popular Front and multi-group Coalition approaches from the Great Depression era.

    Anyone who thought they would exploit Sanders to build up their own publicity-hounding political preening societies . . . such as the Green Party graciously offering to offer him a space at the center of its Tar Pit . . . deserve every bit of the disappointment they feel. Let them wallow in it and keep wallowing.

    Whatever else Bernie’s Run did or didn’t accomplish, it catalyzed the coming together and mutual co-discovery of eachother by several million people. They are now free to stay in touch with eachother and form various theory-action groups to do this or that and see what works. With or withOUT Bernie’s permission. And also Bernie’s Run demonstrated that enough multiple millions of $27-apiece-donors can assemble just as much weaponizable money as the conventional Big Donor Racketeers.

    As to Bernie being a standing joke “around Washington” , well . . . which Washington? Whose Washington? Was all of Vermont too stupid to get the joke? Or do the Bernie-voting Vermonters know something that the “he was always a standing joke around Washington” don’t know?

  98. Peter


    I tried to have sympathy for the Berners but they mostly seemed to be little more than disgruntled Clintonites looking for better PR for their party. Apparently most of them reverted to form and voted for the Red Queen and the rest will moan and groan forever about their lost phony cause.

    Jill Stein and her campaign invited the democrat Sanders to lead them but many of the rank and file rejected this betrayal of Green Party principles of independence from the other parties. Many also rejected the Stein campaign Clintonite funded vote recounts.

    I lost the friendship of someone who was caught up in the cult of Sanders and I wish Sanders would crawl in a hole and shut his yap.

  99. realitychecker

    @ different clue

    You have all my sympathies, and I was also hoping Bernie would win the nomination and be the real thing, despite also being aware that others were warning all along that he would prove to be a classic sheepdog.

    I can’t reconcile his post-nomination behavior with his campaign rhetoric. I just can’t.

  100. different clue

    Peter and realitychecker,

    There are Berners who did not vote for Clinton in the end. I don’t know how many. I know I was one of them.

    Whatever the integrity and/or toughness level of Sanders himself . . . . there are several million SanderBackers who have discovered eachothers’ existence and can stay in touch with eachother and deepen their cross-organization and thing-doing levels if they so wish. They can do this all on their own, Bernie or no Bernie, now that they have found eachother. Their future is in their own strong hands.

  101. realitychecker

    @ different clue

    Bernie promised radical change. I think we need radical change. I doubt that Bernie folks on social media will bring about radical change, though I would hope they do.

    But there is no point in trying to justify Bernie’s craven personal behavior. He did not fight the primary hard enough, he acquiesced to having the nomination stolen from him, and he gleefully sucked the clit of the hellbitch who stole the nomination from him and represented the opposite of everything he said he stood for.

    In the final analysis, just another god with clay feet. Not a worthy hero to worship. Maybe nobody is? Maybe we all need to fight our own fight?

  102. Peter


    I didn’t see anything radical in Sanders’ talking points they seemed to be social democrat based with OWS rhetoric borrowed for its appeal. He parroted them monotonously throughout his campaign and never really expanded them or produced any actual description of how he would accomplish anything.

    Your last sentence does verge on radical Anarchist thought, the idea that we should reject all the leadership caste.

  103. realitychecker

    @ Peter

    Radical was his attack on trade deals. Radical was his reliance on small donations. Radical was his focus against the 1%. Radical was his constant use of the word ‘revolution,” even though he did not appear to mean violent revolution.

    Radical compared to the usual pap.

    Can we trust anyone to be our leaders anymore? I question whether any truly radical leader can arise and survive in present day America. Individual revolutionaries could probably be more effective.

    No easy escape from our present predicament. We slept too long, we let the bad guys get too entrenched. This ain’t Hollywood. 🙁

  104. Ann Thomsen

    One of the reasons I liked Sanders was that he sounded so much like Trump — in the beginning.

    Sanders said we couldn’t engage in a race to the bottom on wages because the slide for American workers would continue until we lived like the working Honduran.

    The music is slowing … and there are not 7 billion chairs. Until and unless we address the demographic realities of life for ALL creatures – we will continue the downward spiral for people, animals, plants, rivers, oceans bees and butterflies.

    SAVE THE CHILDREN? ,…. not on your life.

  105. Peter


    You’re doing with the word/idea radical what I did with the word/idea revolution maybe even more so. There was nothing in Bernie’s rhetoric that was radical if you think that radical in economic terms is to strike at the root of capitalism. All he offered were reforms and remedies for the ills of capitalism but no attack on the underlying disease, social democracy is not socialism.

    The disgruntled Clintonites and pseudo-leftists in the Berners ranks were viewing their reality from the extreme center of Clintonism which made their reform platform appear to resemble something radical but that’s just a warped perspective.

  106. different clue

    People who are looking for a hero to worship are their own problem and their own fault, not the fault of mundane political-world leaders who never claimed to be worship-worthy. People who supported Sanders to this point will either decide or not-decide what they will do next. They have found eachother. They can stay in touch with eachother if they wish.

    As to Social Media, it is a fine platform for meatspace people to stay in touch with large numbers of eachother and perhaps co-ordinate what to do in meatspace. If people wish to retreat to an online Social Media presence only; that is the fault of those people only, not the fault of the Social Media technology platform.

    Just as with a blog like this here. People can send their avatars here to interact. People can also use these avatars to pick up information to take back to the meatspace to put to analog uses in the Reality Sphere. If they want to.

  107. different clue

    By the way, another thought occurs to me off and on. One wonders if Sanders was quietly threatened with assassanition of his wife and/ or daughters by “wet work messengers” from the Clintonite Group. Given the utter moral and ethical turpitude with which the Clintonites have always operated, and given their connections to the Intel Industrial Complex; should the suspicion be dismissed out of hand?

    In other words:

    I wonder if
    somebody put
    a horse’s head
    in Bernie’s bed?

  108. realitychecker

    @ different clue

    You place greater faith in the potential of social media than I do.

    P.S. Just lettings my thoughts run free, maybe Bernie betrayed his supporters because Hilllary promised to have sex with him if he did so? (Where’s the brain bleach lol?)

    2016. Good-bye and good riddance.

  109. different clue


    When I first read your comment I found the language so shocking I thought to myself . . .
    ” I can’t believe what came out of his fingers. Does he touch himself with those fingers?”

    But now that I have returned for another flyby, I see that you have cleaned up the language. That is good. I have always tried to express my rage and hatred in gender-neutral and sexless terms, myself.

    As to social media, it is not a matter of faith or not-faith. We see the valuable uses people are making of social media to put before the eyeballs of thousands the questionable behavior of certain police officers in certain situations, for example. Of course there is the cerebro-neuronal addictogenicity of digital device engagement . . . including for social media. Perhaps the people who are cerebro-neurochemically addicted to constant social media device engagement . . . are expressing their addiction as faith in social media.

  110. realitychecker

    @ Peter


    I’m always trying to get the maximum precision out of the imprecise tools we call language. (If only to save wear and tear on my fingers.)

    Now you, my erstwhile trusted ally of the mind, have martyred me and exposed my limitations in this area where I try so hard to excel. That’s the bad news.

    The good news is that now I get to play the victim lol.


  111. realitychecker

    @ different clue

    “When I first read your comment I found the language so shocking I thought to myself . . .
    ” I can’t believe what came out of his fingers. Does he touch himself with those fingers?””

    Amigo, any time you find my choice of language scandalous to your eyes and mind, you may rest assured that my purpose in using that language was to very deliberately express my fundamental belief that it is ridiculous to give too much power to mere words.

    They are just words. Please save your ‘shocked’ moments for something real.

    And, as to your quoted query, no, I have a girlfriend lol.

  112. different clue


    No words are “just” words . . . at least not in the hands of a Master Word Herder.

    Words are to a bunch of minds what magnets are to a bunch of iron filings. That is power.

  113. realitychecker

    @ different clue

    Words have only the power you let them have. If your mind functions, they have little power over you, but you have much power over them.

    Respect your own personal power, and don’t be silly about surrendering it. The PC bullshit was never about empowering you; quite the opposite.

    Resist mindfuckery. I can see you are smart enough to do it.

  114. different clue


    Thank you for the confidence and respect. I hope you will remain as respectful of my potential to do that when you realize that I consider a lot of Leftist Purity Ponyism against Sanders to be mindfuckery as well, also to be resisted.

    But always in the nicest politest way possible.

  115. realitychecker

    @ different clue

    “Leftist Purity Ponyism”

    Oh, is that what we are calling total blatant betrayal of all one’s principled positions, and endorsement of the person who embodies everything one ran against, these days?

    Mindfuckery is bad, but mindfucking oneself is sad. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, amigo.

  116. different clue


    I hear you ringin’.
    But I ain’t hoppin’.

  117. realitychecker

    They only abuse you because they love you so much.

  118. different clue


    You still be ringin’.
    I still ain’t hoppin.

  119. realitychecker

    @ different clue

    Well, the bell does not ring for you alone, fortunately.

    I have faith that you will hear it eventually. A few more disappointments should be sufficient to open your ears.

    After that, you may even hop. 🙂

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