Category Archives: Donald Trump

Black People and Obama’s Legacy

Barack Obama’s ascendancy to the presidency was a curse on black America’s political heritage.
— Margaret Kimberley, Black Agenda Report

It is no secret that the folks over at Black Agenda Report have never cottoned much to ex-President Obama.  It was, after all, BAR’s executive editor Glen Ford who, long before Obama’s 2008 election, and in reference to the great bulk of black elected officials throughout this nation-state, including most especially, the Congressional Black Caucus, coined the term “black misleadership class.”  Once Obama actually took the oath of office in ’08, Ford promptly placed him at the head of that class. And, throughout the ensuing eight straight years, BAR’s senior columnist Margaret Kimberley has wielded an especially sharp pen against this country’s “First Black President” (a sobriquet Ford, Kimberley and Company derisively employ as a way of reminding us exactly who and what Obama  is not).  BAR’s postmortems of Obama’s late presidency have been equally rough – and directly on point.

“Obama Gets Paid”

In her May 2nd column entitled “Obama Gets Paid,” Kimberley, as she routinely does, excoriates Obama apologists as they feverishly defend his recent acceptance of a $400,000 check for speaking to those Wall Street hedge fund managers and investment bankers – the selfsame ones who helped crash the US (and damn near world) economy in ’08.  Again, for eight solid years, Obama, President Obama, steadfastly refused to prosecute nary a one of them.  The principal defense deployed by Obama die-hards is, basically, that “everybody does it,” especially everybody, that is, who’s ever been president.  They point to the 1990 tour of Japan by then former President Ronald  Reagan.  St. Reagan (one of Obama’s two most favorite presidents) collected a cool $2 million for delivering a few stock speeches in the land of the rising sun over eight days.

Or, Obamaphiles remind us of ex-prez Bill Clinton’s apparently innate ability to still garner whopping speaker’s fees and honoraria from any venue anywhere even to this day –  if and only if, of course, the price is right.  According to CNN, since 2001, that proclivity has yielded both Bill and wife, ex-Secretary of State Hillary, a jaw-dropping $153 million and counting.

Yes, it is now common practice among certain ex-presidents:  Bush (I & II), even Nixon, eagerly embraced what St. Reagan referred to as the “mashed potato” circuit.  Yet, somehow Obama’s most ardent supporters conveniently skip over or ignore altogether former President Jimmy Carter.  That may be because Carter has consistently refused to partake of either the mashed potatoes and/or rubber chickens. Instead, to this day, despite brain cancer and his 90-plus years of life, ex-prez Carter devotes his entire presidency to a wide array of ways and means of delivering real goods and real services to real people.

Of Presidential Libraries and Largess

Obama was in town the other day, fully refreshed from his three-month Hawaiian vacation, a $65 million book deal, and, as noted, his $400,000 oration.  Obama was here to hobnob with Chicago’s One Percent and to finalize plans for his presidential library, to be set in a 200,000 square foot space age building just south of his old employer’s (University of Chicago) campus.

Obama also actually stopped in at the University itself where he mingled with a few star-struck students.  And then he and Michelle dropped an unsolicited $2 million on Chicago’s summer jobs program.  Why so generous?  The purpose of this money, so sayeth Obama, is to “train the next generation of leadership…the Michelle Obamas of today and the Barack Obamas of today.”

That money is certainly needed and much appreciated, especially given the fact that Chicago’s mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s first presidential chief of staff, seems to miraculously find funds for any and everything except Chicago’s South and West Sides – where the bulk of Chicago’s one million black citizens just happen to reside.

President of All the People

The obvious question, which has many black Chicagoans (and black people nationwide) scratching their heads, is this:  Where was all of this heartfelt concern, and more importantly, money and resources, for black folk when Obama for eight whole years reigned as this nation-state’s “First Black President”?

He and his blinkered supporters still argue that:

  • The Big Bad Racists Republicans would not let Obama do anything to specifically help black people.
  • That he is “president of all the people of America, not just black people. (But aren’t we Americans, too?)
  • That, as St. Reagan taught us, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” Thus, programs and policies which specifically and purposely benefit Hispanics, gays, white women, the “working class” and the poor naturally, automatically “trickle down” to black people.
  • That targeting black people would alienate those oh so sensitive and always aggrieved “white middle class” folk who see the world as a zero-sum proposition: If blacks win (at anything), they lose (everything).

Black resistance, black revolt and black struggle against white supremacy and white racism began when those very first Portuguese, Spanish, English, French and Dutch slave ships appeared off Africa’s West Coast as far back as 1444.  That freedom struggle continued unabated right up until 2008 when black people basically decided that having a putatively “black” man in the White House was more important than the freedom struggle itself. Prior to Obama’s ascendancy, the standard that all presidents and presidential candidates had to meet as far as black people were concerned was this: What will he do for us as a people? At least, that is the standard I was taught as a child by my parents, who, until John Kennedy came along in 1960, voted for both Democratic and Republican candidates at all levels of government based on this simple question.

After 2008, at family gatherings I was often persona non gratis because I dared to continue to ask this question.  One of my elderly aunts actually stood  up at the Thanksgiving table in 2014, pointed an accusatory finger at me, and said, “Blasphemy!” For her and millions like her, Obama’s blackness was enough.  He didn’t really have to do anything for black people because just seeing him and his black family in the White House wiped away the 400-year-old still festering wounds that had been, and continue to be, inflicted upon black people as a whole. That is all Obama did for black people – get elected.

And now?  Now that Obama is safely out of office and in no position to help anybody except (as detailed above) on a very occasional, very personal and very individual level, well….that is what his recent foray into Chicago means. Margaret Kimberley is absolutely right: Because of Obama, black people are in the worst shape they have been in since Dr. King was so brutally murdered forty-nine years ago.

Because of Obama, we must now contend with a straight up and open white supremacist/white racist in the once again lily white White House.

But on a more optimistic note, we will survive Donald Trump.  It’s what we do best.

Donald Trump and Theresa May: Partners in Planning Armageddon?

For the love of God, for the love of your children and of the civilization to which you belong, cease this madness. You are mortal men. You are capable of error. You have no right to hold in your hands – there is no one wise enough and strong enough to hold in his hands – destructive power sufficient to put an end to civilized life on a great portion of our planet.

— George F. Kennan, Boston Globe, March 18, 2005

The cynic might wonder if, when UK Prime Minister Theresa May spent so much time clutching Donald Trump’s hand on her January visit to the White House, she contracted a virulent strain of Trumpitis, an apparently incurable and uncontainable desire to erase swathes of fellow human beings from the planet, if not all life on earth.

Trump, various Generals with incomprehensible psychedelic bits of cloth adorning their clothing and varying spokespeople, terrifyingly, will not “rule out” a nuclear strike on North Korea (population just 25.16 million v US population 321.4 million, incidentally) which could ignite a nuclear war.

Five times draft evader Donald Trump seemingly lacks even a miniscule concept of the apocalypse even “conventional” weapons unleash. When he launched – arguably illegally – forty nine Cruise missiles which rained down on Syria (Thursday 6th April) whilst having dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping, he remembered he was eating “a beautiful piece of chocolate cake”, but forgot the country he was attacking, muddling Syria with Iraq, so lightly was the unthinkable undertaken. Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross was quoted as calling the strike “after dinner entertainment.”

If Trump read and was thoughtful (the first apparently absent from his activities and the second seemingly fatally flawed) he might have reflected on North Korea’s genuine fears. Near erased from the earth by the US (1950-1953) constantly threatened over subsequent decades, Trump might have recalled the words of Joseph Rotblat, co-recipient of the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize with the Pugwash Conferences, for “their efforts to diminish the part played by nuclear arms in international affairs and, in the longer run, to eliminate such arms.”

Rotblat observed that:

If the militarily most powerful and least threatened states need nuclear weapons for their security, how can one deny such security to countries that are truly insecure? The present nuclear policy is a recipe for proliferation. It is a policy for disaster.

Another aspect of Theresa May’s Trump-like affliction is her equal lack of reflection. Determined apparently that she can play the world annihilation game with Trump led her Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, to announce that she would fire the UK’s nuclear weapons as a “first strike”, if necessary.

“In the most extreme circumstances, we have made it very clear that you can’t rule out the use of nuclear weapons as a first strike”, he told the BBC’s Radio 4.

The reaction of Russian Senator Frants Klintsevich, Deputy Chairman of the Upper House of the Russian Parliament’s Defence and Security Committee, was to call Fallon’s comments “disgusting”, saying they deserved a ”tough response.” He gave it in no uncertain terms pointing out that: “Britain, not having the biggest territory”, would “literally be erased from the face of the earth”, were it to launch a preemptive strike. He asked pointedly: “Against whom is Great Britain going to preemptively use nuclear weapons?”

In context, there is no proof whatsoever that North Korea has an integrated nuclear weapons programme (i.e., the weapons with the system to fire them.) It certainly has a nuclear bluster programme developed out of fear resulting from near seven decades of threats, with a vast US arsenal just across its border with nearing 30,000 US military personnel, twelve US bases, one provocatively named “Red Cloud” – and since 2006 further isolation in the form of sanctions. Now, of course, there are also Donald Trump’s threats and declared “armada” of war ships, bristling with more nation-erasing armaments.

Senator Klintsevich added witheringly that if Britain intended to use nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear state “then probably English people desperately want to share the laurels of the USA who threw nuclear bombs at defenceless Hiroshima and Nagasaki” (in 1945.)  “But those times have gone for good, as has the era of the greatness of the British Empire.”

However, undeterred by Russia’s warning, in a speech at London’s Royal Institute for International Affairs (Chatham House) the following day, Fallon again confirmed: “ … we have made it very clear that you can’t rule out the use of nuclear weapons as a first strike.”

The authoritative political on-line publication The Canary, asked in what circumstances impending Armageddon would be triggered, he replied: “They are better not specified or described, which would only give comfort to our enemies and make the deterrent less credible.”

The Canary’s article is in stark contrast to the casual talk in Washington and London of unleashing the unthinkable, it is headed:

“The Conservative government just signed the UK’s death warrant. Quite literally.”

It opens:

It’s already clear that part of the Conservative government’s general election strategy is to peg itself as ‘militarily tough’. And to prove that, Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon has made an astonishing claim. One that essentially signs the UK’s death warrant.

The UK will, he asserts, not hesitate to fire nuclear weapons in a first strike. That means the Tories won’t wait until the UK is under attack in some way to start a global nuclear war. It will just start firing at will. This is a complete break from the UK’s historical stance. And it’s one that, considering the UK’s size, could conclude with the country lying at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

The UK’s nuclear arsenal (Trident) is up for renewal, which will potentially cost taxpayers over £200bn. Its renewal is in violation of the UK’s commitment to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). But a number of politicians and their backers profit from Trident’s existence. So, unsurprisingly, it’s quite popular in parliament. (Emphasis added.)

The largely US-owned Trident system puts two hundred and fifteen nuclear warheads at the UK’s disposal, according to the Arms Control Association (ACA).

The Canary article also throws up the further unthinkable and leads to wondering if the threats to North Korea are either a red herring or a proposed practice run in this new, legally unconstrained, morally and reason-free political zone:

… in terms of defence, there has been one country firmly at the forefront of UK ministers’ minds over the last few years: Russia. It was the hot topic at a Commons Defence Committee meeting in December 2016. A session where Fallon asserted we’d be ready for war with Russia by 2018/19. In 2015, meanwhile, the country received a listing as a top-tier threat in the UK’s National Security Strategy (NSS). And, of course, NATO has stationed troops (including ones from the UK) directly on Russia’s borders.

However, Mrs. May-hem and Defence Secretary Fallon have apparently forgotten that:

Russia … has seven thousand nuclear warheads (with) four thousand five hundred either deployed or stockpiled … around thirty three times more warheads than the UK has.

Further, for example, Russia’s Satan 2 “can allegedly carry up to a dozen warheads and level an area the size of the UK in one hit.” The UK’s population (2015) is 65.14 million. (Emphasis added.)

Prime Minister May’s endlessly repeated mantra “Brexit means Brexit” (i.e., Britain leaving the European Union) takes on a whole new meaning: she is prepared to trigger the UK departing the planet. It is reported that male Tory activists call her “Mummy.” (Independent, April 28, 2017.)

This week she announced that her government is to install psychiatric care workers in schools across the country. It would seem they are more urgently needed in the Cabinet, the Defence and Foreign Office Ministries and most essentially in the Prime Minister’s Office.

Chopping James Comey

Having refused to admit his errors, the [FBI] Director cannot be expected to implement the necessary corrective actions.

— US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein

Any sense that Donald Trump had found some accord with James Comey of the FBI gathered from his investigative zeal regarding Hillary Clinton’s improper use of a private email server should always have been doubted.

Trump is not a president who likes matters accountable and clear, except in a jaw jaw sort of a way, the brute who wants to avoid surprises while always keeping one in reserve.  The language of the hectoring bully is never far, the turn that means genuine conversation is always going to be hard to have.

The language of dismissal regarding the FBI Director was that of an assassination.  Comey, came the announcement via Sean Spicer, “has been terminated and removed from office”.  The letter to Comey, penned by Trump, cited agreement with US Attorney General Jeff Sessions that “you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau.”

Erratically, Trump had thrown in his weight behind Comey when things suited him. The political winds were favourable in November, when he had Hillary Clinton on the ropes.  “What he did,” claimed Trump on the issue of reopening the investigation into the Clinton emails, “brought back his reputation”.

The edifice of support was, however, a rotten one, and the Attorney General’s department was already hatching a plan to undermine and outflank Comey.  The Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, attempted to find some common ground across the spectrum regarding the FBI director’s yawning faults.  “Almost everyone agrees the Director made serious mistakes; it is one of the few issues that unites people of diverse perspectives.”

As for Rosenstein himself, he found it difficult to “defend the Director’s handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton’s emails” and did “not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgment that he was mistaken.”

From the other side of the stalls, Comey had been harangued over supposedly selective judgments.  The Democrats, still smarting from their election loss, found it inexplicable that Comey would first close the case against Clinton without prosecution in July last year only to then declare, 11 days prior to the election, that the inquiry had been reopened because of the discovery of more juicy emails.

The tune from Senator Minority Leader Chuck Schumer altered on Tuesday, modified by a less plaintiff voice and concern that the constitution was not so much being rocked as ravaged.  “We know that the House is investigating Russian interference in our election that benefited the Trump campaign.  We know the Senate is investigating. We know the FBI has been looking into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians – a very serious offence.  Were those investigations getting too close to home for the president?”

There is little doubt that Comey has been rattled by the attention, which has, for the most part, been negative.  In his May 3 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, hyperbole intruded to make certain claims questionable. One related to the material from Clinton’s aide, Huma Abedin, which ran, according to Comey, in the order of “hundreds and thousands” of emails. Among them were more than just smidgens of classified information.

As luck would have it, Comey’s claims that such a mountain of information had manifested itself were rebuffed by his own organisation.  There was nothing in the order of hundreds of thousands, merely two email chains containing classified information to husband Anthony Weiner.

The lack of faith shown in Comey by the Democrats packaged a few parcels of ammunition for Trump. The president naturally took to Twitter as the carnage unfolded.  “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer stated recently, ‘I do not have confidence in him (James Comey) any longer.’  Then acts so indignant.”

Such a sacking does show, with some clarity, that the affairs of this Republic are bound to get more sordid before they get better.  Trumpland is a truly fractious environment, one where battlegrounds and territory will be fought with primeval ferocity between the executive and its various arms.  “The administration of justice,” claimed Democratic Representative Eric Swallwell Jr., “must remain free of political influence, and President Trump just leaped over that line”.

This line has not so much been leaped over as redrawn.  The moment Trump entered the White House he made it clear that conflict with traditional agencies, bureaucracy and institutions was inevitable.  Draining the swamp, as he likes to term it, is akin to cracking a few skulls and breaking regulations in the name of reform.

This tarnishing episode has covered few in glory. The White House is hunkering down behind a wall of authoritarian protection, keen to immunise itself from disconcerting inquiries that might question its wisdom and probity. The Democrats, having also had their issues with the FBI, are now seeking a separate, independent office to target Trump. The politics of the Republic is moving into another ugly phase.

War, Militarism, and Middling Opposition

In the run-up to budget discussions, the Trump Administration floated various proposals for a dramatic increase in military spending on top of the already bloated $596 billion Pentagon budget. This, figure doesn’t even represent the true expenditures devoted to war-making and militarism in the $1.1 trillion discretionary side of the national budget. The $596 doesn’t include the $65 billion in veterans spending and $26 billion for nuclear weapons. That brings the total to about $690 billion or 63% of all discretionary spending! To fund this outrageous theft of the peoples’ resources for the military/industrial/complex, the Administration called for unprecedented cuts to various Federal agencies and departments since everything is supposed to be revenue neutral.

Now a reasonable person might conclude that for an oppositional party that claims to be the voice of the downtrodden and committed to social justice informed by “liberal values,” Trump’s proposals to take a meat cleaver to state agencies in order to increase military spending and indeed his whole budget recommendations would be a godsend for democrats since militarism has a direct impact on working people and the poor. Even republican president Dwight Eisenhower understood this in what today’s right-wing U.S. culture would read as a radical statement:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

Yet, instead of vigorous opposition and mass mobilizations from the loyal opposition, the democrat party is still trying to hold the public’s attention with the nonsensical drama related to supposed collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign., As though collusion between campaigns and foreign governments is something new – think Nixon’s efforts to sabotage peace efforts in the ‘68 campaign and Reagan’s campaign’s coordination with Iran and release of U.S. hostages that sunk Carter’s presidency.

What is so incredibly inept about the strategy to keep the focus on Russia is that the issues that could really begin the process of driving a wedge between the Trump administration and the independents and white workers who voted for Obama in ’08 and ’12 but voted Trump in 2016 — the healthcare issue, no support for an increase in minimum wage, tax cuts for the rich — are there to be exploited if the democrats were really a serious oppositional party with an alternative reform agenda. This is precisely the point. The democrat party is not a serious oppositional party.

The absence of any real opposition to the reckless use of U.S. military force — the attack on Syria, the macho demonstration bombing in Afghanistan, the provocations toward North Korea — exposed once again the unanimity among the U.S. ruling class and the state on the use of military force as the main strategy to enforce its global interests.

What this means for Black and oppressed people, in the capitalist centers in the West and in the Global South is that we cannot afford the luxury of diversionary politics when it is our bodies that are in the crosshairs of an F-16 in Libya and a Glock 9mm in the hands of a racist cop in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. For us, unrestrained militarism and war has always meant death and destruction.

It also means that attempting to build oppositional coalitions to confront and defeat militarism and neoliberal state austerity cannot depend on effective and consistent support from democrat party related structures both inside and outside of the democrat party such as many of the nonprofits and labor unions. It even means that it is becoming more difficult to build opposition to war and militarism among the U.S. left and progressives because these sectors along with the corporate media and the general public have fallen prey to what Rashna Batliwala Singh and Peter Mathews Wright calls “imperial privilege.”

Imperial privilege is this strange ability on the part of the U.S. public to “shrug off” the consequences experienced by people impacted by the direct and indirect result of U.S. militarism. That is precisely why pro-imperialist politicians like Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren can be designated as “progressives” and vast numbers of voters can rally around a warmonger like Hilary Clinton without suffering much moral distress.

It is also why there is not much discussion of the consequences for the people of Korea if through macho posturing the Trump administration sparks a military confrontation on the Korean peninsula or why there are no calls from the public to stop Saudi war crimes in Yemen and it seems perfectly acceptable that the entire U.S. Senate would sign-on to a letter to the United Nations condemning it for its bias against Israel. And it is why “Trump became president” of all the people after ordering the military to engage in an illegal attack on Syria.

According to Batliwala Singh and Mathews Wright:

Imperial privilege makes it possible for even the liberally-inclined to turn a blind eye to the toxic footprint of U.S. militarism at home and abroad; to fall silent at any mention of the homicidal decisions of an American President; to exclude such matters from public political discussion and to prevent them from influencing their voting patterns in any way.

So, while Trump only got a $15 billion dollar increase in the budget compromise, the “commonsense” acceptance of war by the public at this point makes it more likely that the Administration will be successful in securing billions more of the public’s resources for war-making in the 2018 budget that will be debated over coming months.

The irreconcilable contradictions of capitalism, fueled by white nationalist sentiment has produced a toxic, proto-fascist politics. This is the context in which we must build an alternative to the neoliberalism of the Democrats and the nationalist-populism of Trump.

The drive toward war, domestic repression, and the militarization of society can only be stopped by the people. But that will not occur until there is a shift in the culture and consciousness of the public. A shift in which the inherent value of all lives is recognized and a new kind of politics is practiced in which the people are able to recognize that their interests are not the same as the interests of the capitalist oligarchy and that they have a responsibility to victims of U.S. imperialism around the world.

America’s Great Leap Backwards

For almost 50 years, the US economy and society has taken a great leap backward — accelerating during the past three Presidencies. Not only have we experienced the reversal of past socio-economic legislation, but also our presidents and Congress have dragged us into multiple aggressive wars. Now, the threat of a nuclear attack against our ‘declared enemies’ is ‘on the table’.

Since the end of the Viet Nam war, US military ‘interventions’ have become wars of long duration. These have cost millions of lives overseas, tens of millions of refugees and scores of thousands of American soldier deaths, permanent injury and serious mental and neuropsychiatric damage. There is no ‘light at the end of the tunnel’, to quote the US General William Westmoreland.

In retrospect, and after 50 years of decline, the much-maligned Presidency of Richard Milhous Nixon now stands out as a golden age of social, environmental and inter-racial advances, as well as an era of successful peace negotiations and diplomacy. President Nixon, never an ideologue, accepted the reality of a multi-polar world.

Of course, the Nixon Presidency was characterized by serious crimes against humanity, such as the CIA-sponsored coup d’état against the democratically elected Chilean President Allende, the bombing of Cambodia and the genocidal invasion of the newly independent country of East Timor.

Today, he is best known for the far-less consequential events around the ‘Watergate’ scandal and related domestic civil rights abuses and corruption. It was the mass media and Democratic Party politicos who have grossly inflated the election campaign chicanery, leading up to the bungled break-in of the Watergate Hotel headquarters of the Democratic Party, which led to Nixon’s impeachment and resignation. To today’s media spin-masters, Watergate was the defining event of President Nixon’s Presidency.

Ironically, after Nixon resigned from office even greater disasters occurred. This paper will enumerate these and compare them with the Nixon presidency.

Far from pursuing diplomacy and peace, subsequent presidents, both ‘liberal’ Democrats and ‘conservative’ Republicans, invaded Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Panama, Grenada, and Angola and initiated a dozen other highly destructive and economically devastating wars. The two oligarchic parties took turns in shredding Nixon’s comparatively peaceful legacy.

President Nixon, under the advice of National Security adviser, Henry Kissinger, supported Israel’s invasion of the Arab countries in 1973 as well as the bloody Chilean military coup in 1973.

President Nixon cynically designed the ‘Southern Strategy’, which transformed the Democratic Party-controlled racist fiefdoms of the US South into racist Republican-controlled states.

Progressives, liberals and self-styled democratic-socialists have played a leading role in ignoring Nixon’s ‘golden years’ in terms of domestic and international policy achievements. Instead they focused on inane and infantile name-calling, like “Tricky Dick”, to describe the man. By doing so, they have failed miserably to discuss national and international issues of historic importance. They have deliberately fabricated a distorted picture of the Nixon era to cover-up for the gross failures of subsequent Democratic Party controlled Congresses and Democratic Presidents.

In this essay, we will briefly outline Richard Nixon’s policies and executive initiatives, which justify our designation of the Nixon’s ‘golden years’, especially in comparison to what has followed his era.

President Nixon: The Great Leap Forward

In the sphere of political, economic and social life, President Nixon pursued policies, which ultimately advanced peace in the world and social welfare in the United States.

In foreign policy and diplomacy, Richard Nixon ended both the draft of young Americans into the armed forces, as well as the decade-long US military occupation of Indo-China, effectively ending the war – and acknowledging the hard victory of the Vietnamese National Liberation Front. The war had cost millions of Southeast Asian lives.

Nixon visited Beijing and recognized the ‘existence’ of the People’s Republic of China, effectively ending a quarter century of economic blockades and military threats against the billion-plus population of the PRC under three Democratic (Truman, Kennedy and Johnson) and one Republican (Eisenhower) Presidential Administrations. He established full diplomatic relations with China.

Nixon initiated the Security Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) agreements with the USSR and developed diplomatic policies, which recognized the possibility and necessity of peaceful co-existence between different social systems.

On the domestic front, President Nixon established the Clean Water Act and established the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with a Federal Government mandate to fight polluters and hold them accountable for the ‘cleanup’ of the environment.

Nixon proposed a National Health Insurance Program – an expansion of Medicare to cover the health needs of all Americans. This radical proposal (a version of ‘single payer’) was attacked and defeated by the Democratic Party, led by Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy who was backed by ‘Big Pharma’, the AMA and the growing corporate ‘health’ industry.

Nixon imposed price and wage controls that constrained inflation and price gouging and actively punished commodity ‘hoarding’. This was a time of rapid inflation and shortages due to the ‘Oil Embargo’. With these measures, he incurred the wrath of Wall Street, big business and the financial press.

Nixon promoted consumer rights, supplemental legislation to expand Social Security, especially for the handicapped, while defending the retirement age for pension eligibility.

Under Nixon, union membership rose to 30% of the workforce – its high point before its precipitous decline to 12% under subsequent US Presidents.

Nixon increased salaries of federal employees and real wages rose. In the following half-century real wages have declined to only 10% of their Nixon era value!

Nixon indexed Social Security to the real rate of inflation.

The Nixon Presidency initiated the Affirmative Action program and used the Federal Government to push for the desegregation of schools, leading to the first large-scale integration of public education in the South. President Nixon created the Office of Minority Business Enterprises (OMBE); the Occupation Safety and Health Agency (OSHA); and the Legacy of Parks Programs.

Nixon proposed a guaranteed annual wage for American workers, which both Democrats and Republicans rejected and defeated! He promoted Keynesian industrial policies against the financial elites with their mania for speculation.

President Nixon appointed four Supreme Court Justices during his term. Three of his appointees supported the groundbreaking ‘Roe versus Wade’ decision protecting women’s reproductive rights.

Under Nixon the voting age was reduced from twenty-one to eighteen years – giving millions of young Americans a greater political voice.

When Nixon spoke in favor of gun control, both the Republican and Democratic Parties opposed his proposals.

President Nixon supported the Equal Employment Opportunity Act and the Endangered Species Act, which have remained critical to social and environmental justice.

Richard Nixon was not a ‘single issue’ President. The span and depth of his progressive agenda, included fundamental changes in favor of environmental and racial justice, working class economic security and broad-ranging health issues, peace and co-operation with China and the USSR, women’s rights through Supreme Court decisions; pensioners’ rights, and animal rights advocacy. He reduced economic inequalities between the richest 1% of capitalists and the working class. Under President Nixon inequality and the concentration of wealth in the US were far less than they became with subsequent US Presidents and especially during the Obama Administration.

No President, with the possible exception of President Franklin Roosevelt’s Great Depression Era legislation, even remotely achieved Nixon’s domestic socio-economic successes. President Roosevelt, one must not forget, operated under the immense pressure of massive working class strikes and in preparation for World War II, while President Nixon achieved his policy advances during a time of relative ‘peace’.

The Post-Nixon Bi-Partisan Regression

In the 41 years since Nixon’s resignation (1976-2017) there has been a systematic rollback of virtually all of the Nixon agenda. Congress, the liberals, the mass media and Wall Street immediately switched from denigrating Nixon, to praising Democratic President ‘Jimmy’ Carter’s reversal of Nixon’s foreign policy achievements.

Contrary to his media-polished image as a ‘Bible-thumping champion of human rights’, President Carter dismantled Nixon’s policies promoting peace with the USSR and China, especially when he appointed the rabidly anti-Russian, anti-communist Zbigniew Brzezinski for National Security Adviser. The duet created the public image of Carter mouthing human rights rhetoric while Brzezinski formulated a policy of backing dictators and funding Islamist (jihadi) terrorists to undermine Soviet allies. The two-faced ‘Evangelical Christian’ Carter sent confidential letters of US support for the brutal dictator Somoza to prevent the Sandinista victory in Nicaragua, while issuing platitudes about peace in Central America.

Carter worked closely with the military dictatorship in Pakistan and the ‘head chopping’ monarchs in Saudi Arabia to launch the bloody forty-year war in Afghanistan, a Soviet Ally. The Carter-Brzezinski-promoted mujahideen war against secularism in Afghanistan led directly to the rise of Islamist terrorism, the Taliban and al Qaeda. Carter’s ‘freedom fighters’ systematically massacred secular schoolteachers for ‘the crime’ of educating Afghan girls in the countryside.

In order to undermine the USSR and other socialist or independent secular countries with Muslim populations, the Carter-Brzezinski duet financed and trained the Saudi-indoctrinated Al-Qaeda terrorists. They were delighted when it spread its poison across the Middle East, Asia, Africa, the Balkans and the Soviet Union promoting separatism and ethnic cleansing. Their cheers ceased somewhat on 9/11/2001.

Domestically, Carter’s deregulation of price controls led to double-digit inflation and set in motion the long-term decline in wages and salaries, which still plagues the American lower middle and working classes.

Carter appointed Chairman of the Federal Reserve Paul Volcker, who implemented draconian anti-inflationary ‘austerity’ policies reducing domestic consumption and opening the way for the de-industrialization of the economy.

The seismic change in the US, the ‘financialization’ of the domestic economy started under Jimmy Carter and was deepened and expanded under the subsequent Presidents Ronald Regan, George H W Bush, Sr., ‘Bill’ Clinton, George W. Bush (Jr) and Barack Obama. Poverty and permanent unemployment followed.

With deindustrialization, labor union membership declined from 30% of the private labor force under Nixon to less than 7% today. Organizing workers was no longer a priority: The AFL-CIO leaders were too busy chasing after the Democrats for handouts (and get-out-of jail passes).

After Carter, the Republican President Ronald Reagan doubled military spending, brutally broke the strike of the Air Controller’s union by jailing its leaders, whipped up the revival of US interventionism by invading Grenada and sending Special Forces to join the death squads murdering tens of thousands of peasant activists in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

President Reagan’s ‘free market’ polices encouraged US multinational corporations to relocate their factories overseas to Mexico, the Caribbean and Asia, costing millions of US workers well-paying jobs and reducing the number of unionized jobs. The stock markets and profits rose while the ‘American Dream’ of lifetime stable employment in industry began to fade.

Reagan’s threats and his huge military build-up forced the USSR to overspend in arms and strangle its growing domestic consumer economy.

The Reagan-Thatcher (British PM) era marked the demise of social welfare. They imposed the doctrine of ‘globalization’ – in essence, the bellicose revival of Anglo-American imperialism and the end of domestic industrial prosperity.

George HW Bush ‘negotiated’ with Russian President Gorbachev the break-up of the USSR. Despite Bush’s promises not to place US-NATO forces in former Soviet-allied countries, the following period saw the huge US-NATO expansion into Eastern Europe, the Balkans and Baltic states. President Bush (Sr.) invaded and savaged both Panama and Iraq, restarting the epoch of permanent US wars.

President George HW Bush promulgated the unipolar doctrine of US world domination, known as the ‘Bush Doctrine’.

The Reagan-Bush regimes emptied the content of the Nixon-era progressive agencies in terms of civil rights, consumer and environmental protection, and wage protection. Unionization declined by over a third.

After ‘war-monger’ President ‘Papa’ Bush, the Saxophone-playing President ‘Bill’ Clinton was elected. While crooning the words, ‘I feel your pain’ ,to American workers and racial minorities, Clinton unleashed Wall Street, ending regulation of banks and investment houses. He re-appointed Alan Greenspan to head the Federal Reserve, a proven master of grotesque financial speculation and the godfather of economic crisis (2007-2009).

President Clinton, passions aroused by the animal spirits on Wall Street (and inside his White House office), launched a vicious assault on the social welfare state, and in particular, low-income working families, single parents and African-Americans. Clinton’s promotion of “Workfare” forced single mothers to accept unsustainable minimum wage jobs under the threat of ending any welfare support, while not providing any mechanism for child care! This one policy savaged hundreds of thousands of vulnerable families. Under Clinton, the prison industry exploded as a multi-billion dollar business.

During the 1990s, Clinton backed the most retrograde pro-business, debt-ridden regimes in Latin America. Hundreds of billions of dollars of Latin American wealth was transferred to the US. Clinton’s ‘Golden Years for Wall Street’ were a decade of infamy for Latin Americans and led directly to major leftist revolts by the end of the Clinton era.

President Clinton deepened and widened the US military drive for domination in Europe and the Middle East. Clinton bombed and invaded Yugoslavia, especially Serbia – destroying large parts of its capital Belgrade. He bombed Iraq on a daily basis and increased the starvation blockade of that nation. He invaded Somalia and backed Israeli land grabbing-settlement expansion in Palestine. He supported the Israeli savaging of Lebanon. He committed treason by submitting to Israeli blackmail over his sex-capers with Monica Lewinsky and trying to release Israeli spy-US Naval analyst Jonathan Pollard. It was only after an open threat of wholesale resignations by the CIA and other security agencies that Clinton withdrew his proposal to free the traitor Pollard.

Finance capital flourished as Clinton repealed the venerable Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 against bank speculation. He promoted the hugely unpopular NAFTA, (North American Free Trade Agreement) leading to the loss of over two million industrial jobs, as US multinationals absconded to Mexico, where wages were less than one-fifth of the US. NAFTA’s savaging of the Mexican agricultural sector and massive bankruptcies of small producers led directly to the flood of desperate Mexican migrants looking for work in the US.

The Georgetown-Harvard-Oxford trained ‘Bill’ Clinton was the grand wizard of talking like a ‘black preacher’ in southern churches while smoothly pursuing the ‘big bucks’ on Wall Street.

After Clinton, regressive policies increased sharply: President George W Bush (Jr), ‘First Black President’ Barack Obama and ‘First Billionaire President’ Donald Trump all supported the most virulent imperial war policies.

The two terms of President George (Jr) Bush (2001-2008) saw unending multi-trillion dollar-wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which have destabilized two continents. Junior Bush presided over the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression. His anti-Muslim ‘global wars on terror (GWOT)’ was launched under the influence of ‘Israel-First’ militarists who had inundated the Defense Department, National Security staff and Middle East policy and advisory staff in the State Department. Meanwhile, GW Bush deepened unemployment and allowed the mortgage foreclosure on millions of homeowners. The domestic economy was in severe crisis.

By the end of the George W. Bush Presidency, reinvigorated anti-war and social justice movements were gaining strength throughout the country. Arriving on the scene of growing social unrest and with perfect timing, the ‘community organizer’ presidential candidate Barack Obama won the presidency by promising a progressive agenda to undermine the mass popular radicalization against Bush’s unpopular wars, growing inequalities, endless bank swindles, foreclosures and blatant racist policies against Afro-Americans and Hispanics.

Once elected, the ‘First Black’ US President Obama immediately increased Bush’s militarism and handed the criminals on Wall Street a record two-trillion-dollar bailout, ripped out of what remained of public social programs. Elected on a pledge to overhaul the ridiculously inefficient, pro-profit, private health care system, Obama gave the electorate a program of greater complexity and rapidly increasing insurance premiums (‘Obama Care’ or the ‘Affordable Care Act’), which ended with a negative impact on the nation’s health.

Under Obama, life expectancy, as well as, the income gaps between the rich and the poor grew at an alarming rate. Inequalities increased with a historic shift of national wealth to the top 1%. The class and health apartheid sharpened in the US. The transfer of jobs abroad accelerated. Multinational corporate tax evasion rose by hundreds of billions of dollars. The gap between African-American wages and white workers increased. Obama deported more immigrants, especially workers from Mexico and Central America, than all four previous presidents combined!

Elected on a pledge to ‘bring the troops home’, President Obama broke the record for waging simultaneous wars of all previous presidents! Obama launched or backed US wars and coups (‘regime changes’) in Ukraine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Honduras and Somalia. After receiving the Nobel ‘Peace’ Prize, President Obama provided advanced weapons to Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Egypt. Obama financed and armed tens of thousands of mercenary terrorists who savaged the secular multiethnic Syrian republic. Furthermore, his administration cynically backed the separatist Kurds occupying Northern Iraq.

Hawaii born and bred, Harvard-educated President Obama had mastered the deep-voiced Southern preacher rhetoric to corrupt the leadership of the social justice and anti-war movements. He coopted the leaders of the mass popular movements to their eternal shame and the movements died. Even the short-lived anti-Wall Street ‘Occupy Movement’ received Obama’s expressions of ‘sympathy’ as he backed the unleashing of police dogs and tear gas on the activists!

Obama’s reactionary military encirclement of Russia and China influenced the foreign policy views of a majority of US liberals as well as the mass media – turning them into ‘humanitarian interventionists’ and tools for empire.

Ever duplicitous, Obama signed a ‘unilateral nuclear disarmament agreement with Iran’ and then immediately broke the agreement by imposing new sanctions on Tehran’s banking and oil transactions.

There was great media fanfare when Obama re-established diplomatic relations with Cuba. This move facilitated the entry and funding of pro-imperialist NGO’s committed to ‘regime change’ along the same line as other ‘color revolutions’. Despite the photo-ops with the Cuban leadership, the US trade embargo against the Cuban people remained in place.

Obama’s State Department and Treasury were tasked with sabotaging and overthrowing the elected Chavez-Maduro governments in Venezuela promoting acts of violence, which have thrown the country into chaos. His Secretary of State Clinton orchestrated the violent removal of the presidents of Libya and Honduras and the installation of rabidly reactionary governments whose policies have created hundreds of thousands of refugees and the assassinations of tens of thousands of citizens, human rights and environmental activists.

Obama’s much-promoted corporate for-profit health program brought some degree of insurance coverage to just half of the uninsured poor within its first year. However, after the first year health premiums rose by 25% while deductibles increased beyond the capacity of many working families. Since then, premiums have risen astronomically and coverage is unaffordable or unavailable in many areas of the country. The debt burden of ill health or a sudden medical emergency has increased for the middle and working class under Wall Street’s ‘First Black’ President. No demographic measures of improvement, in terms of life expectancy or life quality, have been documented since the implementation of ‘Obama Care’. Indeed, these public health measures have deteriorated with an epidemic of suicides, opioid-related deaths and premature deaths of all types among the working and rural classes.

After 8 years, the core of the nation, the so-called ‘Flyover States’, where the downwardly mobile working and lower middle class white majority live, was fed up with Obama’s cant and blatantly elitist policies. In was in this context that the distasteful billionaire buffoon Donald Trump capitalized on mass popular discontent and rallied a populace in revolt against the previous ‘war and bankers’ presidents, by promising to end corporate export of jobs, Wall Street corruption, ‘Obamacare’, competition for jobs with undocumented cheap labor and endless overseas wars. Trump hit a raw nerve among scores of millions of voters when he accused the earlier Bush Administration of fabricating the pretexts for the invasion of Iraq as well as for security failures in the 9/11 attacks on New York City and the Pentagon.

Within weeks after taking office President Trump gracefully performed an Obama-style ‘about-face’ and emerged a re-anointed warmonger of the Hillary Clinton variety: He celebrated his transformation by bombing Syria, Afghanistan and the defenseless, starving people of Yemen. He sent warships off the coast of North Korea, placed advanced missile installations in South Korea and threatened nuclear war in Asia.

Trump miserably failed to ‘reform’ the corporate health plan concocted by his smirking predecessor. He shed his promise to seek peaceful relations with Moscow and embraced the policies of the worst anti-Russian liberal warmongers groomed by Clinton and Obama. Obama’s overt war posturing had so deeply influenced African-American politicians that they loudly accused Trump of being ‘too soft on Russia’! Former civil rights leaders-turned politicians were calling for greater US military interventions – a spectacle what would have made our sacred civil rights martyrs rolling in their graves.

Trump, building on the immense power already entrenched in Washington, reinforced and expanded the role of finance capital and the Pentagon in determining US policy. Trump pledged to exceed Obama’s arrest and expulsion of immigrants – from 2.5 million workers in eight years to an additional 5 million in his first four-year term.

The US corporate mass media and the liberal left have been pushing the pro-business President Trump even further to the right – demanding the US escalate its nuclear threat against North Korea, mount a full invasion of Syria (for its ‘crimes against humanity’) and, above all, ‘tighten the military noose’ around Russia and China.

Conclusion

By any measure, the policies of President Richard Milhous Nixon were more socially progressive, less militarist and less servile to Wall Street than any and all of the subsequent US Presidents. This assessment is heresy to the current historical narratives promoted by both political parties and the corporate media-academic nexus.

But even during the Nixon Presidency there were already signs of an allied liberal-rightist attack on his progressive ‘conservative’ agenda. Senator Edward (Ted) Kennedy blocked Nixon’s proposal for a universal national health system built on an expansion of the highly successful ‘Medicare Program’. Nixon’s proposal (a ‘Medicare For All’) would have been far more comprehensive, effective and affordable than the corporate boondoggles cooked up by the Clinton and Obama Administrations.

What accounts for the dramatic shift from the center left to the far right among US Presidents after the 1970’s? What explains the rise and demise of ‘Nixonian’ progressivism and the great leap backward in the subsequent four and half decades?

Personality and personal background are not irrelevant: Nixon’s class and work background and personal experience with the Great Depression framed some of his outlook despite his ‘conservative’ credentials. However, the social and political balance of forces played the decisive role. Richard Nixon came to national attention as a rightwing militarist and aggressive attack dog for Senator Joesph McCarthy during the 1950s and at the beginning of his Presidential term in the late 1960’s. However, the reality of the multi-million-person anti-war movement challenged American society and influenced the armed forces from within. Even sectors of the mass media became highly critical of the permanent war state. This movement filled the streets, divided families and influenced the institutions and communities leading to a dramatic change in Nixon’s politics toward peace and even toward social and racial justice. Nixon truly became a ‘realist’.

In those days, the industrial trade unions were powerful. Manufacturing formed the basis of the economy and determined the direction of the banking-finance sector. Wall Street played ‘second fiddle’ to production.

Fed up with the lack of social progress and opportunity in their communities, African American revolts in the streets were far more effective than the tame black Democratic Party politicos in Congress.

The decline of the social movements and militant labor unions, as well as the retreat to electoral politics among the African American and anti-war movements, ended the independent popular pressure and facilitated the rising power of the pro-war, Wall Street-controlled parties linked to money and speculation. Labor unions became the fiefdoms of corrupt millionaire union bosses who bought protection from prosecution with multi-million dollar campaign donations to both Democrats and Republican politicians. They discarded the Nixon’s social agenda, using the ‘Watergate Scandal’ as a pretext to dismantle his advanced programs.

Presidents and Congresses became beholden to the bankers. The rise, dominance and deep corruption of the Wall Street speculators realigned the economy away from domestic manufacturing to international finance – leading to the great relocation of US factories abroad and the permanent marginalization of the once-organized American working class.

Voters were marginalized as active participants in their own public affairs. They alternated their disaffection between parties and candidates, between big and small spenders, indicted and unindicted swindlers, and exposed and unpunished perverts.

The domestic changes in the economy and social structure were the direct outcome of these shifts in the social and political struggles and organizations.

There is a dialectical relationship between socio-economic changes and the rise and fall of socio-political struggles.

These domestic shifts of power and policy were influenced by the major changes in global power, namely the demise of the USSR, the decline of secular-nationalist regimes in the Middle East, the defeat of the left in Latin America and, above all, the rise of the US imperial doctrines of unipolar power and the globalization. The ‘changing times’ explains everything and nothing! While the objective world determines politics, so do the subjective responses of Presidents.

President Richard Nixon could have escalated the Vietnam War up to a nuclear attack on Hanoi: This is what the current Obama-Trump militarist advisors now recommend for the North Koreans. Nixon could have followed the rightwing ‘free market’ ideology of the Republican-Goldwater faction. However, Nixon took a pragmatic, peace and social reformist position – which have brought us some of our most cherished programs – EPA, OSHA, SALT disarmament, relations with China, even Roe versus Wade, and an end to the military draft.

Subsequent Presidents, faced with the shifts in political, social and economic power, chose to re-direct the nation toward greater militarism and the domination of finance capital. They have systematically attacked and dismantled the social welfare programs, environmental protection, pro-industry legislation, diplomacy and peace pacts initiated by Nixon.

The aphorism, ‘man makes history but not of his own doing’, is central to our discussion of the Nixon legacy. The process of regression is a cumulative process, of leaps and steps. In recent years, regression has accelerated with devastating results for the domestic and world populations. Social power, concentrated at the top, weakens but also alienates power at the bottom and middle. The current configuration of power and policies cannot be permanent, even if the trajectory so far has favored the elite. Social classes and groups are not fixed in their orientations.

Twice in recent years, significant majorities voted for jobs, justice and peace (Obama and Trump) and instead got charlatans bringing greater inequality, injustice and endless wars.

Deception and deep commitments to reactionary politics have penetrated widely among the ‘discontented classes’. African-American political leaders and pundits now demand war against Russia following the pronouncements of their ‘Black President’, Barack Obama. Poor marginalized white workers still support their billionaire leader Donald Trump as he waltzes down Wall Street and into possible nuclear war.

The dialectic of discontent and resentment can lead to progressive or reactionary political and social alignments, even, or especially, in the face of history’s great leap backwards!

CIA Chief Declares War on Truth

“… the American people deserve a clear explanation of what their Central Intelligence Agency does on their behalf…. we are an organization committed to uncovering the truth and getting it right…. And sure—we also admit to making mistakes…. But it is always our intention—and duty—to get it right. And that is one of the many reasons why we at CIA find the celebration of entities like WikiLeaks to be both perplexing and deeply troubling.”

— CIA Director Mike Pompeo, April 13, 2017

While the snippets above provide a reasonable summary of the substance of Mike Pompeo’s first speech as head of the CIA, they don’t begin to capture the full demagoguery of the CIA head’s rambling 3700-word blather of ad hominem attacks, false claims, hyperbolic rhetoric, irrelevancies, straw man arguments, and political deflections. In other words, Pompeo made it clear that he has little regard for truth, for personal decency, or for the Constitutional protections for free speech or for the free exercise of religion. It was an altogether chilling debut for a spy agency head in a country that still imagines itself enjoying some basic freedoms.

Pompeo started with an anecdotal biography of former CIA agent Philip Agee, without mentioning that Agee resigned from the CIA in 1968 and died in 2008. Nor did Pompeo mention that Agee resigned, despite CIA entreaties to stay, because Agee could no longer countenance the Agency’s support for brutal dictatorships across Latin America. Instead of confronting the substance of Agee’s life and actions, Pompeo reiterated the official CIA demonization of the man who founded the anti-CIA magazine Counterspy and revealed many CIA secrets. As the CIA has done for decades, Pompeo blamed Agee for the assassination of CIA agent Richard Welch in Greece in 1975. Barbara Bush made this same claim in her 1994 memoir. After Agee sued her for libel, the claim was removed from the paperback edition.

As a lawyer who knows he can’t libel the dead, Pompeo is unmitigatedly dishonest in his portrait of Agee, concluding it with: “Meanwhile, Agee propped up his dwindling celebrity with an occasional stunt, including a Playboy interview. He eventually settled down as the privileged guest of an authoritarian regime.” That was a reference to Cuba, where Agee died, but until the very end of his life he also spent time in Germany, his wife’s home country. Pompeo utterly fails to meet his duty to get it right. He comes nowhere near the truth, that Agee’s life represents the struggle faced by a man of conscience when he realizes the agency he works for also commits horrendous crimes, not just mistakes. An honest historian would put this account of a man’s life within the context of the US Senate’s 1975 Church Committee, which documented a number of CIA crimes and led, for awhile at least, to significant CIA reform.

Having framed his talk with a false version of Philip Agee, Pompeo spent the rest of it mixing CIA boilerplate promotional material with his main purpose, attacking WikiLeaks on the basis of a big lie:

WikiLeaks walks like a hostile intelligence service and talks like a hostile intelligence service. It has encouraged its followers to find jobs at CIA in order to obtain intelligence. It directed Chelsea Manning in her theft of specific secret information. And it overwhelmingly focuses on the United States, while seeking support from anti-democratic countries and organizations. It is time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is – a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.

Pompeo offers no analysis or evidentiary support for these assertions. There is no public evidence that WikiLeaks is anything like an intelligence service in purpose, structure, or functioning. According to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, WikiLeaks has the same mission as the Washington Post or New York Times: “to publish newsworthy content. Consistent with the U.S. Constitution, we publish material that we can confirm to be true irrespective of whether sources came by that truth legally or have the right to release it to the media.” The Times famously did that very thing in 1971 when it released the Pentagon Papers, which affirmed the disastrous dishonesty that produced the Vietnam War.

The record of WikiLeaks is the opposite of most any intelligence service, certainly of the CIA. WikiLeaks is available as a resource for people to publish government secrets. WikiLeaks vets the material it is offered and, so far, has never had to make a retraction. Everything WikiLeaks has offered is true. The CIA lies all the time, although not everything it says is false. What Pompeo says about Chelsea Manning looks like a bald-faced lie. But he needs that lie to undercut the reality that Manning was a soldier with a conscience who objected to US random slaughters of Iraqi civilians, men, women, children, journalists.

Pompeo’s reference to “state actors like Russia” is shamelessly hilarious. The best known WikiLeaks project allegedly involving Russia is the massive release of Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails during the 2016 campaign. These were significantly damaging to Hillary Clinton, and Mike Pompeo at the time was saying things like this:

Well, it’s classic Clinton, right? When you find out you got a problem, you deflect, you deny, you create a contretemps where there really is none. Frankly, it’s pretty clear who invited the Russians to do damage to America, and it was Hillary Clinton. She put classified information on a private server, inviting the Chinese, the Iranians, the Russians, all to have access to it. I hope they didn’t get it, but even the former director of the CIA said he thinks they probably did. So, the person who’s put American national security risk isn’t Donald Trump, it’s Hillary Clinton.

So in July 2016, WikiLeaks was innocent, and Russia was irrelevant? Can you say find the truth and get it right? Can you say serial hypocrite? Or can you say, along with candidate Trump last October, “This just came out. Wikileaks. I love WikiLeaks”?

At the time of Pompeo’s speech, mainstream media paid more attention to the so-called “mother of all bombs” dropped on Afghanistan than they did to this much more powerful political bombshell dropped on the US. Recently some mainstream media have been taking another look, as in this headline from Newsweek: “CIA CHIEF POMPEO TAKES AIM AT THE FREE PRESS.”

What can and should CIA, the United States, and our allies do about the unprecedented challenge posed by these hostile non-state intelligence agencies?… First, it is high time we called out those who grant a platform to these leakers and so-called transparency activists…. We know the danger that Assange and his not-so-merry band of brothers pose to democracies around the world. Ignorance or misplaced idealism is no longer an acceptable excuse for lionizing these demons.

Once again the high hilarity of the deceitful surfaces in Pompeo’s calling Assange a threat to democracy. If that is in any sense true, then Mike Pompeo owes his CIA job to the success of Assange’s “threat.” The real threat is to those who “grant a platform” to WikiLeaks, and those would be all American media for starters. But the scarier part is that Pompeo is not only comfortable demonizing people like Agee or Assange, he literally calls them “demons,” and this is not standard political talk, this is fundamentalism Christian visualizing the devil’s work. When some of the highest officials in the US government are busy chasing “demons,” then US Constitutional government is at serious risk.

Mike Pompeo, 53, the present director of the Central Intelligence Agency, is a West Point trained military veteran, a Harvard trained lawyer, and a self-expressed, profound “Christian” bigot and hypocrite. He has no experience in intelligence. The radical former Tea Party congressman from Kansas was confirmed for his CIA role by a 66-32 Senate vote despite his lengthy, fact-free obsession with the Benghazi attack of 2012, or his avid denial of climate change, or his ardent support for keeping Guantanamo and other torture prisons open (he has called torturers “patriots”). He has advocated covert surveillance to collect “all metadata” on Americans, a program that is currently illegal. Pompeo not only magnifies the threat of terrorists like ISIS, he views that threat through a religious lens and apparently believes in the Manichaean formulation that there is currently “a conflict between the Christian west and the Islamic east.”

After his April 13 address, Pompeo took questions, one of which was about President Trump’s relationship with the CIA and the other 16 agencies in the intelligence community. The question apparently referred to such things as President Trump’s tweets earlier this year, blaming leaks on “the intelligence community (NSA and FBI?). Just like Russia” and later saying “Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to ‘leak’ into the public. One last shot at me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?” The supposedly “fake news” had exposed multiple Russian contacts with Trump campaign agents as early as 2015, revelations that led directly to the resignation of Trump’s national security advisor Gen. Michael Flynn. The question of Russian involvement in electing President Trump remains unresolved.

Despite this context, Pompeo answered the question about the president’s relations with the intelligence community simply: “It’s fantastic.”

The audience laughed. Pompeo added: “Don’t laugh, I mean that.”

Good to know that the head of Central Intelligence believes in fantasy. Reassuring to know that the CIA head wants to “make sure that we know that Jesus Christ our savior is truly the only solution for our world.”

A nation formed by the ideas of the Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, is now at least partly in the hands of a Christian Taliban.

Haiti and the NFL: Toussaint Tyler and Battling TBI

In exile at St. Helena, when asked about his dishonorable treatment of Toussaint, Napoleon merely remarked, “What could the death of one wretched Negro mean to me?”

The Black Napoleon, or that’s what former slave Toussaint L’Ouverture was called. Get this, historians – the leader of the only successful slave revolt in modern history in effect defeated the genocidal white trash that is part of France’s legacy.  Haiti – that French colony, and he was the son of Gaou Guinon, an African prince captured by slavers. Sent to that white French genocidal colony of Saint Dominque.

Toussaint, born May 20, 1743, under the Code Noir, that black code that legalized all the harsh punishment (treatment) of slaves. Property. L’Ouverture was allowed unlimited access to a library of the manager of the Breda plantation. His godfather was a priest, Simon Baptiste, a kind fellow who taught the young Toussaint to read and write.

I’ll come back to L’Ouverture in a minute, first moving to a new friend, Toussaint Tyler, named after L’Ouverture. Mr. Tyler and I met recently, coming into the office at my day job as social worker for homeless folk, stuck in a system of addiction, criminal charges, mental health challenges. Portland, Oregon, and Mr. Tyler and I are quickly brothers in arms, looking at our six decades on Planet Earth as one of struggle, triumph, exasperation, recrimination, rejoicing, repulsion, anger, happiness, and revolt. I am more settled into my anti-Capitalist fervor than is this man of god, myself having declared anarchism and socialism and communism as the only way out of this warring white Capitalism that has decimated tribes and cultures and entire races of people. Early in my scattered life.

My friendships with men like Toussaint Tyler, Sr., are based on deeply held respect for the individual coursing through capitalism’s hall of horrors.

Mr. Tyler, homeless, in a shelter, introduces me to his older brother who had just gotten out of prison, 25 years straight time. His brother is the gifted and focused one in the family. Mr. TNT Tyler says his brother, who was just released from McNeil Island Corrections Center in Pierce County, Washington, is the smartest and ablest fellow around, who entered into a life of crime ripping off rich folk and faced the music here in Oregon with some hard-hard time in prison in Washington. Where his brother learned the law, learned his own new mission in life, and who is now more than just an inspiration for Toussaint.

Toussaint Tyler, once the leading rusher as fullback for the University of Washington Huskies. He was born in Barstow, California. His nickname was TNT Tyler, called one of the greatest fullbacks in Husky history. Punishing running style and bone-crushing blocking. We are talking about a 58-year-old man who has seen the gridiron since age nine, a man today who is forgetful and now homeless, who has been couch surfing for years, who once had glory and wives, and who is now awaiting a brain scan, ordered by the National Football League.

TNT and I talk about the Will Smith movie, “Concussion,” a flick Tyler saw when it came out two years ago. “Man, I just started crying when I saw my life in many ways depicted on the screen.” This is the rotten NFL, the elite owners, the chosen few paper jockeys and lawyers and MBAs, who watch mostly people of color slam bodies and craniums into each other for a multi-billion dollar entertainment industry akin to Roman times gladiator exploitation.

Enslavement. Boys hitting each other in Barstow or Compton or Baltimore or Toledo.

The NFL, a non-profit shit-storm of Predatory Capitalists using the dumb-downing of America to fill stadiums, land TV/Cable contracts and sell the junk of faux celebrity. Tyler had his own trading card with the New Orleans Saints. Tyler traveled the country and the world as a football hero. Over six feet two inches, 240 pounds, a hard-hitting man who has admitted to more than a dozen concussions.

He’s been in and out of recovery – pain pills, cocaine, opioids, and booze. He was riding a wave of limelight as a former player in the NFL, including the Saints and Minnesota Vikings . . . decades of Traumatic Brain Injury depression and outbursts of angry, physicality.

I run my life around narratives, around the people who have intersected with me as dive master, photographer, journalist, teacher, social worker, traveler, and activist.

His story now, after my sixty years on planet earth, hits me hard – heavy on a personal level, both positive and negative. Exploitation of the black man by the elite, by the worthless white men in suits and ties, those golf-loving whites, the money men, the tribe of shekel collectors, the very tribe of men who that mythical Jesus Christ went to town on upsetting the money changers’ money tables.

Harvard, Yale, law schools of the elite, MBAs from large Division One schools, running poor whites and blacks and Latinos into the ground, to the grave, through the psych wards, under the belly of the beast of drug addiction, homelessness, and the halls of criminal injustice.

Tyler tells me about his father, an amazingly talented man, self-taught, who was a lightweight boxer, who had seven kids. Mother who worked for the government. Their United States of Israel roots not from California but from Arkansas and Baton Rouge. Tyler traces his African roots to Sierra Leone.

“I never understood why I was crying all the time, and depressed.” He has had a knee replacement. Tyler shows me both wrists – big surgical scars from massive fractures from defenders slamming helmets and face-guards into his body. “I am beat-up, for sure. I forget things. The NFL knew in 1954 that head trauma from pounding gridiron players hitting each other caused permanent brain damage – shrinking, permanent atrophying of parts of the brain, a sloshing of parts of the brain.”

This is the American way – full-throttle exploitation, on the field, in the workplace, in neighborhoods. The elite, polluting cities, our air, the water, our children’s minds, the dreams of adults, and the hopes of the aged.

We are one giant Trumplandia Casino Capitalism Continuing Criminal Enterprise. Signing our death warrants. Tyler, lasting four years in the NFL, and ending up as a juvenile detention officer for King County (Seattle), working with 12 to 17 year olds locked up in a county lock-down facility.

He was in his addiction then, as a county official, and he worked hard on gang-prevention and working with troubled youth in King County, Washington.

Tyler today continues to talk about living a lie most of his life – chasing women and fame, drugs and money. “I didn’t need football to make it in life,” he says. He is so sure that youth should not be playing football until their brains are fully developed. Tyler tells me that he was at Roosevelt High School in Portland recently, and saw a little kid, an eight-year-old, laying on the ground, crying about his head hurting after taking a hit on the football field.

I’m glad my sons didn’t play football. If I could do life all over again, I would have never played football, gone into basketball.

One son, Toussaint Tyler Jr., played college basketball for Central Washington University. A story was written up about the sixth man for the men’s basketball team, Mr. Tyler’s son. Tattoos all over his body – rib-cage, wrist, knee, shoulder. Each inscription plays a significant reminder to TNT’s son about where he comes from, where he is going and where he doesn’t want to go:
• Me Against the World
• Respect Few, Feat None
• Family Forever
• Brotherhood
• Only God Can Judge Me
• Tha Truth
• All Eyez on Me

Toussaint Tyler Sr. is talking about the class action lawsuit against the NFL, a party of over 22,000 claiming NFL negligence, asking for money to cover years of drug abuse, psychiatric breaks, incarceration, broken marriages, failed relationships, split-up families, and internal anger-confusion-dementia.

These white so-called leaders, elites going to their elite children’s Christenings and Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, going to their dear children’s graduations from elite universities, law schools and business colleges, they are demons, felonious, as criminal as criminality can come, laughing all the way to the bank, living it up in their five homes each, jet-setting the globe with the blood and brains of the real workers, the real heroes, wiped all over their zero escape clause contracts. All those One percenters and their Little Eichmann agents and riffraff controlling the lives of the sacrificial lambs.

Sure, we can Google (another massively screwed up project of control run by another set of war-loving elites) Toussaint Tyler and see he was the only one in pro-Football to knock out Lawrence Taylor. Sure, Toussaint is gunning for getting onto various boards – Urban League, YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, etc. – and wanting to help turn lives around. Sure, Toussaint wants the homeless in Portland – some really raw characters that make Charles Dickens’ novels seem like Mister Rogers Neighborhoods – to be helped. Toussaint Tyler asks me to stay with the non-profit I was working at. Wants me to meet bigwigs and help sell programs to the elite in Portland (Intel, Nike, adidas, et al).

I want to throw in with Toussaint Tyler, Sr. – I want to hit up these metro sexuals, these gentrifying elites, these bourgeoisie, these Bill Gates and Paul Allens and Phil Knights types to get down to real business, to getting their bullshit philanthropic ideals into real gear. We need to help the homeless and the drug addicted get on their feet with REAL programs, with solid recovery, where they can get SPECIAL treatment, in a time of Neoliberalism and Trumplandia. We are running non-profits with genuflecting and begging, hoping for social workers to get to work with shitty pay and tons of on-the-job trauma. My non-profit gets grants, and we are hobbled by the constraints of the millionaire class, and the state and county and city agencies.

Being homeless usually means trauma in each and everyone’s lives – beaten down in families, drugs, sexually abused, the physically kicked down, psychic knockdowns, punished into the criminal justice system, hobbled by the debt levelers, controlled by the broken education system, held down by the business community, the exploitation class, and held back by bureaucracies of evil.

College bowls for Toussaint – Rose Bowl and Sun Bowl champion; in another Rose Bowl, Hula Bowl, Japan Bowl, San Diego Hall of Fame. Second-team Pac 10 running back for two years. Honored as a Huskie Legend, NFL Alumni.

“None of it matters. I am in a new life, starting new.” He ended up dead on arrival, in Pullman, Washington, three years ago, 60 pills swallowed in a suicide cocktail. He had done a lot of crack to make those head blows and shitty life decisions and all those mammas to his six kids sort of go away, or at least level out the pain of all those valleys and rock bottoms which are the geography of his spiritual and psychological life.

Ahh, Haiti, and the despicable French, then, now, forever – defeated by a slave, who read voraciously, especially Enlightenment thinkers such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, one member of early moderate revolutionaries who considered seriously the question of slavery. As is the case of most French thinkers, these moderate revolutionaries were not willing to end slavery.

Applying the “Rights of Man” to all Frenchmen, including free blacks and mulattoes (those of mixed race), the so-called revolutionaries gave into the plantation owners in the colonies who were furious and fought the measure. In 1791 the measure was retracted.

This betrayal triggered slave revolts in Saint Dominique (soon called Haiti), and Toussaint quickly became leader of the slave rebellion. L’Ouverture (the one who finds an opening) was added to his name, as he led a rag-tag army. For anyone listening to the unheralded voices of the people’s history, he or she can take his hat off and honor Toussaint who successfully fought the French, whose numbers were also decimated by a yellow fever outbreak.

He fought seven battles in seven days and defeated the French. As is the true DNA of the white race, the French wanted business as usual, desiring Haiti to go back to slavery and colonial rule. In 1803, Napoleon Bonaparte wanted Haiti out of his hair, agreed to its independence and Toussaint agreed to retire from public office. Eventually Napoleon, as is so true of many of the French’s DNA code, invited Toussaint to a meeting under the promise of his protection. The French Army arrested Toussaint, put him on a ship headed for France, and Napoleon ordered D’Ouverture to suffer in a mountain dungeon where he was starved to death with all number of depravations put upon the Haitian hero.

Getting Haiti off his back, Napoleon gave up Haiti to independence and sold the French territory in North America (the Louisiana Purchase) to the United States.

Toussaint Tyler, Sr., named after the great Haitian hero, sits with me in my office, and we go over his plans to get his driver’s license back, plans to get him a job at $11 an hour, and plans to come back to life as a community organizer. He’s forgetful, having left his satchel on the Portland light rail (MAX) with his photo IDs and social security card inside.

He tears up when telling me about his granddaughter, Serayah McNeill, who plays Tiana on the hip-hop TV series, “The Empire.” Daughter of his eldest son, Serayah is a talented musician, athlete, and can do anything, Toussaint tells me. Her very presence on TV, her thriving life, her existence is a testament to her succeeding and a reminder to her grandfather that he once was in her life as a child and now he’s been MIA for years. “She reminds me of how I screwed up so many people’s lives.”

This is the story in America, one I touch daily, with men mostly, and the years taken away by drugs, by incarceration, racism, shitty employment, all told, millions of lives destroyed by the white man’s bad seed, fall from his and her own grace. The decades and centuries of structural and mitochondrial determinants in the success and failures of an entire group of people who made this country, built the fucking White House, put the land to work, harvested and swaddled the white woman’s children, what a travesty.

Repeated daily from sea to shining sea, exploitation after exploitation. And the NFL, microcosm of the chosen ones’ destruction of almost anything good, tribal, hating all people’s who live lives far from the money printing presses, the coin of the realm – slavery for enriching the few, the fattening up of these voracious people eaters, these lovers of anything close or aberrant to what the entire Trump legacy represents: the people who run the rackets of college sports and professional gladiatorial athletics, or replace sports with big pharma, big business, big military-surveillance-punishment complex, big ag, big food, big medicine, big media, big education. These people are the ones that deserve a million slave rebellions run by the likes of Toussaint D’Ouverture.

The rabid dog, ahh, the beheading is necessary for the safety of the village. Yet, it’s all flipped backwards – the elite, the weakest, the minority of all minorities, the Chosen One Percent living out their blasphemy until old age, while the good and best the world can offer, murdered, slowly, quickly, at the moment of birth. America – the racket, the thug nature of this warring nation, the disharmony of the children sucked into diabetes and mental stasis created by the chosen few’s tools of control: food, consumer popular culture, Hollywood, media, digital dumb-downing.

Here, from the movie, Concussion, the doctor, Bennet Omalu, asking why the world doesn’t want to know about his research into football head injuries and players’ deaths, suicides, incapacitating pain, drug addiction, incarceration, murders:

Dr. Bennet Omalu: What do they want?

Dr. Cyril Wecht: The NFL wants you to say you made it all up.

Dr. Bennet Omalu: I made it up?

Dr. Cyril Wecht: They’re accusing you of fraud.

Dr. Ron Hamilton: If you retract, you’ll be fine. This all goes away.

Dr. Bennet Omalu: Why? Why are they all doing this?

Dr. Cyril Wecht: They’re terrified of you. Bennet Omalu is going to war with a corporation that has 20 million people on a weekly basis craving their product the same way they crave food. The NFL owns a day of the week, the same day the Church used to own. Now it’s theirs. They’re very big.

Note: A forensic pathologist, Omalu conducted the autopsy of Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster, which led to his discovery of a new disease that he named chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. He is currently the chief medical examiner of San Joaquin County, Calif. and a professor in the UC Davis Department of Medical Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.

These one percenters and their 19 percenter Little Eichmanns holding up their universal Capitalist scam, they are perpetuating the chronic traumatic encephalopathy onto all aspects of society with each experiment deemed necessary to create legions upon legions of marks, the exploited, the punished, the destitute, the near homeless, all of us shoved into their consumer prisons for the pleasure of their sin upon humanity. Greed, prostitution, elimination.

At eight years of age, I knew I was going to be in the NFL. I was the fourth all-time leading rusher for UW. But my life is more than that, I know now. I’ve lived a life for and about Toussaint Tyler. It’s been a selfish life. I want to work to help this community, these people on the streets outside. Man, all messed up on meth, dirty, on the streets, sleeping in alleyways. We have to find a way to help them.

So continues the dilemma of the One Percent, the Churches, the Poverty Pimps, all those non-profits run for the pleasure of a few at the top. So goes the journey of Toussaint Tyler, invoking just a little bit of his Haitian namesake’s rebellion.

Each day it becomes clearer to me that those in state capitols and on K-street, Wall Street, in the corridors of power, peopling the think tanks and commissions and secretive world of the bankers and bankrollers of pain, shame, war.  They are the giant tapeworm eating at the soul of humanity. Clearer and clearer that the exiled, the broken, the incarcerated and just let out, the Toussaints and a million others, they have the power of lucidity, the power of perspective, and the power of seeing outside the miasma of this country’s madness.

Wouldn’t it be a wonderful world if the magic wand pushed a giant interstellar vacuum onto the earth that sucked up all the detritus on this planet – those buttoned up thieves lusting for their gigantic thefts, uniformed weapon lusting hoards lusting for war, all those coders and money changers, the renter class, the bankers, the technologists, the entire army of takers.

Toussaint and I hug, as I say good-bye on my last day at one non-profit as I move to another. Life is slipstream, the sum total of serendipity, these chance encounters, as my brain folds more of what I know is social justice and revolutionary focus. He and I come from two different worlds, and belief systems, yet, well, what more can a brotherhood bring than the joy of understanding those who are different but cut from the same cloth of wanting justice and seeking enlightenment.

Can Capitalists Afford a Trumped Recovery?

Earlier this week, I hooked up for a lunch with George Archer and Jonathan Nitzan, two friends of mine who also had previous stints working at BCA Research. I enjoyed our lunch and conversation. After we met, Jonathan sent me a paper he published along with Shimshon Bichler, “Can Capitalists Afford a Trumped Recovery?”:

The presidential election of Donald Trump has rekindled hopes for a U.S. recovery. The new president promises to ‘make America great again’, partly by creating many millions of new jobs for U.S. workers, and judging by the rising stock market, capitalists seem to love his narrative. But if Trump actually delivers on his promise, their attitude is likely to change radically. In our 2016 paper, ‘A CasP Model of the Stock Market’, we developed the concept of a ‘CasP policy cycle’, the idea that government policy, insofar as it caters to the imperative of capitalized power, favours low employment growth in order to enable low rates of interest and sustain the capitalist share of income. If Trump proceeds with and succeeds in reversing this CasP policy cycle, his authoritarianism may end up undermining rather than boosting capitalized power. In this sense, his regime could well mark the beginning of the next major bear market.

Let me begin by stating this, Jonathan and Shimshon aren’t some Marxist utopian quacks. They fully understand neoclassical economics and its limitations in explaining power structures and what really drives the financial and economic world order. They published a book, Capital as Power, that offers a radical alternative to the conventional theories of capitalism.

Also, before becoming a professor of political economy at York University, Jonathan worked a few years at BCA Research covering emerging markets with George Archer and Chen Zhao. He knows all about markets and the traditional way of analyzing economies and financial markets.

But his and Shimshon’s analysis of the economy is far deeper than anything you’re going to read at BCA or any other investment and economic research outfit. And unlike many academics, Shimshon and Jonathan use economic and financial data to create great charts that support their points and to draw inferences on how power structures impact the stock market.

“Leo, that’s great, but I’m just looking to beat my benchmark so I can make a lot of money at the end of the year. I can’t be bothered reading this intellectual mumbo jumbo, it’s beyond my capacity to grasp. I need actionable ideas which will help me secure a big bonus at the end of the year.”

Well then, go read nice papers from Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and others, but if you really want to be challenged to think about the world and what really is behind stock market moves, you should invest some time to read these papers, they will open your eyes to another level of thinking about the way capitalism really works and how this impacts employment, rates, inflation and the stock market (at the very least, you will understand why winter is coming on stocks!).

Are these papers similar to Bridgewater’s “epic” study, Populism: The Phenomenon, put out earlier this year? No, they are much deeper and offer a lot more insights than anything Bridgewater has put out on what exactly is going on right now.

To be blunt, these are the papers that Ray Dalio and company should be reading to understand how the “economic machine” really works in the world we live in and it’s definitely the type of stuff that George Soros can appreciate, especially in his old age.

Alright, now that I’ve given you my biased introduction, let’s go over Shimshon Bichler and Jonathan Nitzan’s short paper, “Can Capitalists Afford a Trumped Recovery?” (added emphasis is mine):

The presidential election of Donald Trump has rekindled hopes for a U.S. recovery. The new president promises to ‘make America great again’, partly by creating many millions of new jobs for U.S. workers, and judging by the rising stock market, capitalists seem to love his narrative. But if Trump actually delivers on his promise, their attitude is likely to change radically.

1. What if Unemployment Falls and Employment Growth Accelerates?

First, the capitalist share of domestic income will probably drop precipitously. Figure 1 – an up-to-date version of a chart first published in Nitzan and Bichler (2014a, 2014b) [link] [link] – shows why. The top part of the chart plots the sum of pretax profit and net interest as a share of domestic income on the left scale, along with the unemployment rate three years earlier on the right. The bottom part of the chart shows the annual rates of change of these two series (with all data smoothed as five-year trailing averages; click on image).


The historical facts here are rather unambiguous: since the 1940s, lower rates of unemployment have been followed, three years later, by a lower capitalist income share. And if this relationship continues to hold, the implications for capitalists are doubly negative. Since unemployment has already been trending downward for the past few years, the capitalist income share is likely to lose further ground in the three years ahead quite independently of Trump’s policies. And if these policies end up delivering even lower rates of unemployment, the capitalist income share is likely to shrink further.

Second, a significant rise in employment will probably kill the stock market. Figure 2 – taken from our paper ‘A CasP Model of the Stock Market’ (Bichler and Nitzan 2016: 146) [link] – compares two series. On the left, it plots the ratio of stock prices to the wage rate, an index for the power of capitalists relative to workers. On the right, it displays the rate of growth of employment five years earlier, an inverted proxy for the strategic sabotage inflicted on workers (the two series are smoothed as ten-year trailing averages; click on image).


And here too the historical regularity seems clear: since the 1940s, rising employment growth has been followed, five years later, by a falling stock market (since the wage rate is usually a monotonically rising series, most of the movement here comes from changes in stock prices). With this pattern in mind, investor enthusiasm for employment growth policies seems somewhat misplaced: if the Trump administration succeeds in reversing the 30-year downtrend in employment growth, the likely result will be not a secular bull run, but a major bear market.

2. The Current Crossroad

To put these constraints in a longer historical context, consider the following excerpts from our article ‘A CasP Model of the Stock Market’ [link]:

Over the past thirty years, U.S.-based capitalists (and others investing in U.S. equities) have managed to increase their capitalized power relative to the underlying population from record lows to record highs [Figure 2 above]. In our view, this increase has been driven by two related processes: (1) a redistribution of income from non-capitalists to capitalists, along with a growing conviction that the resulting inequality could be maintained and even augmented in the future; and (2) mounting strategic sabotage in the form of lower employment growth. [. . . The] first process meant a higher hype coefficient [i.e., overly optimistic long-term profit expectations] The second process has had a double impact: on the one hand, it assisted the first process by restricting wages and boosting profits, while, on the other, it enabled looser monetary policy and lower interest rates, thus helping to reduce the normal rate of return [and raising the discounted value of expected future profit].

These two processes were in turn underwritten by a major creordering of the underlying mode of power. Following the MBM [major bear market] of 1968‑1981, capital has been progressively transnationalized, leading to the gradual disempowerment of the underlying domestic populations, the lowering of corporate and personal tax rates for high-net-worth individuals, the hijacking of macroeconomic policy for capitalized ends and the cajoling-forcing of pension funds and public assets into the stock market, among others consequences. But no spring can be pulled indefinitely. Conflict-driven redistribution and lower interest rates have pushed capitalized power toward its historical asymptote, and this approach means that the United States – and maybe the world as a whole – is now facing a historical crossroad. (Bichler and Nitzan 2016: 150-151)

Given this assessment, we outlined two possible trajectories for the U.S. looking forward:

The less likely of the two is some version of Jack London’s The Iron Heel (1907), in which the U.S. ruling class breaks through its historical asymptote by imposing a mode of power much harsher than the one prevailing over the past two centuries. To sustain this new mode of power, the rulers would have to further redistribute income in their favour, domestically and/or globally, leading to historically unprecedented levels of inequality. Moreover and crucially, they would have to cast this greater inequality as the ‘new normal’ as well as persuade investors that this greater inequality is here to stay (so as to prevent hype from collapsing). And while doing all of that, they would also need to keep interest rates and profit volatility low in order to prevent the discount rate from rising significantly – a tall order in a world marked by greater sabotage, intensified violence and therefore greater instability. The other, and in our view more likely, possibility is that history will repeat itself, and that, sooner or later, the United States will experience another MBM [major bear market]. (Bichler and Nitzan 2016: 151)

3. A Trumped Recovery?

How do Trump’s hyped rhetoric and proposed policies fit into this framework? On the face of it, his authoritarianism, apparent disdain to the rule of law and promiscuous endorsement of violence make him a possible harbinger of the much harsher regime needed to secure and possibly extend current levels of capitalized power. This harsher regime, though, would have to cater to capitalist interests, and so far, Trump’s proposed policies point in the opposite direction.

Modern capitalism is guided by differential capitalization – particularly differential stock prices – and differential stock prices are driven not by rapid economic growth, but by the ability of owners to increase their capitalized power relative to the underlying population. As noted, since the 1980s, the differential capitalized power of stock owners increased due to a combination of a rising capitalist income share and falling interest rates, and taken at face value, Trump’s policies threaten both.

As we have shown in Figure 1, Trump’s focus on job growth stands to undermine the capitalist share of income. But job growth is likely to hurt capitalists in another important way – namely, by causing interest rates to soar and in so doing further undermining equity prices.

The history of this latter process is illustrated in Figure 3 (updated from Bichler and Nitzan 2016). The chart shows two series: the annual rate of growth of employment (lagged five years) plotted against the left scale and the yield on ten-year government bonds on the right. We can see that, until the middle of the twentieth century, there was little or no connection between the two series (Pearson coefficient of –0.12). But from the early 1960s onward, with the entrenchment of countercyclical Keynesianism, employment growth has become a nearly perfect five-year leading predictor for interest rates (with a Pearson correlation of +0.89). During the 1960s and 1970s, the welfare-warfare state lessened the strategic sabotage on the underlying population and accelerated employment growth, but this process triggered higher interest rates that grounded the stock market. The 1980s rise of neoliberalism, though, flipped the cycle. Employment growth decelerated, interest rates dropped, and the capitalized power of owners, fuelled by growing strategic sabotage and rising liquidity, soared (click on image).


In our ‘CasP Model of the Stock Market’ (2016) [link], we developed the concept of a ‘CasP policy cycle’, the idea that government policy, insofar as it caters to the imperative of capitalized power, favours low employment growth in order to enable low rates of interest and sustain the capitalist share of income. If Trump proceeds with and succeeds in reversing this CasP policy cycle, his authoritarianism may end up undermining rather than boosting capitalized power. In this sense, his regime could well mark the beginning of the next major bear market.

References

Bichler, Shimshon, and Jonathan Nitzan. 2016. A CasP Model of the Stock Market. Real-World Economic Review (77, December): 119-154.
London, Jack. 1907. [1957]. The Iron Heel. New York: Hill and Wang.
Nitzan, Jonathan, and Shimshon Bichler. 2014a. Can Capitalists Afford Recovery? Three Views on Economic Policy in Times of Crisis. Review of Capital as Power 1 (1): 110-155.
Nitzan, Jonathan, and Shimshon Bichler. 2014b. Profit from Crisis: Why Capitalists Do Not Want Recovery, and What That Means for America. Frontline, May 2, pp. 129-131.

Now, I’m not concerned about President Trump undermining rather than boosting capitalized power. Importantly, if you look at his closest economic advisors, they are all part of the financial elite like his friend Stephen Schwarzman, CEO and co-founder of private equity powerhouse Blackstone, so you can rest assured his administration will keep on trying to boost capitalized power.

On Friday, US payroll gains rebounded in April by more than forecast and the jobless rate unexpectedly fell to 4.4 percent, signaling that the labor market remains healthy and should support continued increases in consumer spending. According to Shimshon and Jonathan, employment gains will cause interest rates to soar and

I wouldn’t read too much into this latest employment report. Employment is a coincident economic indicator, not a leading indicator, but this will provide the Fed an excuse to raise rates at least one more time. The Fed wants to raise rates to have ammunition when the next crisis strikes.

And there will be another crisis, that much I can guarantee you. The next economic shoe is dropping in the US at a time when the rest of the world is very fragile. Will Kyle Bass be right about China’s looming credit crisis? He was spectacularly wrong on Japan but he might be right about China.

And remember a crisis in China will reinforce global deflationary headwinds, which is music to capitalists’ ears as long as it doesn’t develop into a full-blown debt deflation crisis and Great Depression type high unemployment.

In fact, Jonathan and I discussed this doomsday scenario and he said the system cannot support high unemployment like we had during the Great Depression. “This would threaten capitalists’ hold on power and we would have a major crisis before reaching that point.”

I told him that I see a bleak future where inequality gets much worse (due to rising unemployment and pension poverty, technological advances, etc.), debt deflation, one crisis after another (China, Europe, etc.) and something is going to give eventually or else the system will implode.

Then he showed me Figures 9 and 13 from his paper A CasP Model of the Stock Market (click on images)



Basically, when systemic fear is high, like now, capitalists look at current, not future profits. The first chart does not bode well for stocks going forward and the second one doesn’t bode well for employment growth, so expect some type of ‘strategic sabotage’ to maintain capitalists’ hold on power.

Take the time to carefully read A CasP Model of the Stock Market, it is excellent and has a lot of information for everyone, including institutional investors.

Finally, Jonathan and I discussed the pension crisis and he thinks pensions can be part of the solution to limit inequality, democratize housing and curtail the disastrous effects of stock market crises. You can read his and Shimshon’s thoughts here.

I hope you enjoyed reading this weekend comment. Please remember to kindly donate or subscribe to this blog on the top right-hand side under my picture. All donations, big or small, are welcomed and I thank all of you who contribute to this blog.

Below, Jonathan Nitzan’s presentation on A CasP Model of the Stock Market. Take the time to listen to this presentation, it’s not straightforward but I think Jonathan does a great job explaining his and Shimshon’s theory on capitalized power, how it’s intertwined with systemic fear and strategic sabotage. You can track Jonathan and Shimshon’s latest work here.

Also, Kyle Bass, Hayman Capital Management’s chief investment officer and managing partner, discusses China’s economy and the global risks to financial markets with Bloomberg’s Erik Schatzker at the Milken Institute Global Conference.

Facing Reality and Moving Forward

Normally I skip the op-ed pages of the power-worshiping New York Times, but a recent piece by R.R. Reno caught my eye. Reno, a political and religious conservative, edits First Time, a neoconservative journal.

In his article, “Republicans Are Now the ‘America First’ Party,” Reno contends that Donald Trump understood that unfair free trade deals, immigration, and the “broad and deep impact of globalization on America’s economy and culture” deeply vexed many voters. These were the ominous developments that stoked Trump’s populist rhetoric. An angry backlash against the New York/Washington establishment carried the day in key electoral states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin.

According to Reno, Trump’s juxtaposing of globalism and Americanism, or what Reno describes as “patriotic solidarity,” won the election for Trump. That is, enough voters strongly resented the elite, neoliberal globalists (think Clinton and Obama), believing they cared not one whit about them.

Prior to the election, the Deep State, or unelected real power, favored Hillary Clinton’s tried and tested corporate reliability. Had the Constitution allowed a third term, Barack Obama’s fervent goosing of golden goose globalism would have garnered their support. On the latter: In March, 2009, President Obama brought some dozen leading financiers to the White House. A Rogues Gallery of people responsible for the meltdown in 2008, all of them entered the meeting with genuine trepidation. After the meeting one relieved participant told acclaimed political author Ron Suskind, “He could have ordered us to do just about anything and we would have rolled over. But he didn’t – he mostly wanted to help out, to quell the mob.”

In any event, Trump’s election caught the shadow government by total surprise. He was seen as a loose cannon whose behavior might jeopardize America’s pre-eminent role as enforcer and primary beneficiary of the capitalist world system. For example, the transnational capitalist class needs ever cheaper sources of labor abroad to increase profits. With his talk about canceling trade pacts and forcing U.S. corporation to stay at home, Trump seemed dangerous, even deranged.

But soon after the election, President Trump quickly backtracked on his promises of economic nationalism and adopting an anti-globalist agenda. Did he possess any convictions on these promises, or did he simply say whatever was necessary to hoodwink voters in key electoral states?  We do know, as sociologists Salvador Ranger and Jeb Sprague-Silgado astutely conclude, Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan tapped into the “sentiment of aggrieved entitlement” felt by a critical voting bloc.

Whatever his inclinations, my sense is that Trump has been, in Diana Johnstone’s indelicate phrase, “neutered” by the Deep State globalists. To avoid a failed presidency (in his view), he’ll get on board. Today only the true believers like Reno or the truly disingenuous defend Trump. We’ll witness more conning of his base with episodic populist pandering such as the recent event in Harrisburg, PA. A few ideologues like Stephen Bannon may be kept on to give the appearance of fidelity to Trump’s earlier pledges and his faux populism.

The critical takeaway is that growing income inequality, concentration of wealth, military interventions, environmental degradation and the heightened danger of nuclear war will continue unabated. Neoliberalism will rule regardless of the party nominally in power. No substantive policies viewed as contrary to the plutocracy will materialize.

This analysis might foster a certain paralyzing cynicism, but that’s neither my purpose nor an appropriate conclusion. There is hope, if—and it’s big “if”—enough people of good will and heart engage in some emotionally painful reassessment of deeply held political localities to the two-party system, and, especially, the Democratic Party. Perhaps a crash course on capitalism would also be a good idea.

Finally, I take no pleasure in suggesting that this probing introspection commence with putting Barack Obama and his ilk in the rearview mirror. Given the immense propaganda efforts directed at bamboozling us, that’s a challenge. None of us like admitting we’ve allowed ourselves to be conned. But until we engage in that necessary soul-searching, there’s virtually no chance for serious change in our country. I want to believe we’re up to the task.

Convicted for Protesting Jeff Sessions is No Laughing Matter

On May 1st, I stood on trial for having “greeted” Jeff Sessions in Congress before the start of his confirmation hearing in January.  I was convicted along with my fellow activists, Lenny Bianchi and Desiree Fairooz. We each face up to $2,000 in fines,12 months in prison, or both. The sentencing will take place on June 21st.

On the day of the confirmation hearing, my colleague, Lenny, and I were dressed up as Ku Klux Klan members, with our white hoods and robes designed to highlight Sessions’ racist history.  My performance at the hearing was a parody, but the real joke has become the US Justice Department.

To say that I was appalled that Jeff Sessions was about to become the highest legal authority in our country is an understatement.  As an American who loves the constitution and the rule of law, I felt compelled to protest the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions, a man whose history of racist rulings and rhetoric has been well documented and exposed to public scrutiny. His nomination and confirmation as Attorney General make a mockery of our judicial system and our constitution in general. Even though  Sessions was only confirmed on February 8th of this year, he is already setting back the progress this country has made in the areas of civil rights and race relations. In three short months, our concerns have been resoundingly validated.

On April 18, Sessions dismissed the entire State of Hawai’i as “an island in the Pacific” in an effort to discredit a federal judge’s ruling against the administration’s second so-called Muslim travel ban.

On April 21, he sent letters to nine “sanctuary cities” threatening to cut federal funding unless they complied with federal immigration laws.

On April 22, Attorney General Sessions asserted that the U.S. could pay for the egregious and, by most accounts, ineffective border wall by clawing back over $4 billion in refundable tax credits paid to “mostly Mexicans,” without any factual evidence of the recipients’ ethnicity.

First of all, Hawai’i is our 50th state, co-equal with the other 49 states, and flourishes from its cultural diversity and immigrant populations. It is much more than “an island in the Pacific.” Second, a federal judge ruled that the executive order threatening to pull funding from sanctuary jurisdictions is unconstitutional. And the less said about the ridiculous proposed border wall the better.

An independent judiciary exists as a check on the other branches of government. Jeff Sessions does not appear to comprehend the basic processes of the federal government as set forth in the U.S. Constitution.  Rather than paying heed to the protections guaranteed to all citizens, Jeff Sessions is an oligarch of the first order stuck in a colonial and racist mindset in which people of color are less worthy than those of European descent.

These outrageously ignorant statements and actions are just the latest examples of the Attorney General’s disrespect for the racial and cultural diversity of America that he is charged to protect.

My CODEPINK colleague Desiree Fairooz was also on trial. She was accused of disrupting the confirmation hearing by laughing when Senator Richard Shelby asserted that Sessions treats “all Americans equally under the law”. This claim in and of itself is certainly laughable, but the focus should not be on a spontaneous chortle Desiree let out. Instead, it should be on the abominable ways the Trump administration is suffocating our right to dissent.

In the recent past, frivolous charges like these would have been thrown out of court. But, Trump and his cronies in the Justice Department are going out of their way to crackdown on dissent, especially in the form of nonviolent protest. Republican officials are jumping on Trump’s bigoted bandwagon to restrict liberties at the local, state and national level. We see laws being passed in over a dozen states to make protesting a crime, while at the same time, North Dakota has passed a law where running over a protester is not a crime. We see state laws being passed to criminalize campaigns that support Palestinian rights. We see that over 200 people who protested Trump’s inauguration have been prosecuted and charged with ridiculous offenses, such as felony rioting charges. We should see our Justice Department prosecuting real criminals, like those responsible for war, not convicting people for laughing in Congress.

Unless we rise up and demand our first amendment right to dissent, then the joke will be on the American people. And that is no laughing matter.