Trump is a nationalist, not an internationalist.


"What Trump Said: He explicitly raised new questions about his commitment to automatically defend NATO allies if they are attacked, saying he would first look at their contributions to the alliance, the Times reported.

What Elites Think: What a disaster! Does Trump not know that 20th-century alliances have prevented a third World War? Russia would take advantage of a weakened NATO to expand its control. President Trump would make the nation weaker, less relevant, and more exposed to threats abroad.

What Populists Think: If these countries want our help, they’ve got to pay their bills. We’re not asking for the world—only what they promised to pay under a treaty that obliges the United States to defend them. Fair is fair. What makes us weak is defending and extending one-way alliances. As for the post-World War II order that Trump threatens to upend, this is now a post-9/11 world; it can’t hurt to pressure-test the old institutions."  Fournier in The Atlantic


Trump thinks all deals are subject to re-negotiation.   Treaties are deals.  These deals are ratified by the US Senate.  In Trumps mind we have the US Senate as the equivalent of a stockholder's meeting.  Therefore, he thinks, treaty deals are subject to re-negotiation.  This is a typical entrepreneurial business attitude. 

Is there some reason why we should think that treaties are not re-negotiable? In fact the French withdrew their forces from the control of Allied Command Europe (ACE) while not leaving the alliance.  Was this not a de facto re-negotiation of the treaty?

Borgists like Ron Fournier automatically shrink from Trump's desire to return America to an attitude regarding "foreign entanglements" that prevailed before WW2.  This was an attitude that strictly put narrowly defined US interests first and regarded all else as "to be determined."  Trump does not accept the internationalist view that the world is one and that the US should be its guardian.  This spirit of guardianship seem to me to originate in the notion that the rest of the world is a very imperfect place that the God of the New England Puritans gave unto the protection and regulation of the "city on the hill."  This is amusing since so many of the Borgians are now godless heathen.

I watched again the recent re-make of "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy."  This is the version in which the splendid actor Gary Oldman plays George Smiley.  In the film, the Circus holds a Christmas party sometime at the height of the Cold War.  In the midst of the sad revelry, Father Christmas enters stage right with his bag of goodies and wearing a Joe Stalin mask.  the crowd stands and he leads the British spooks in a spirited rendition of the Soviet national anthem.  I saw much the same thing happen after the fall of the USSR when American military spooks specialized in the USSR sang "I'm dreaming of a red Christmas, just like the ones I used to know."  They knew their rice bowl was broken and they would all be fired or repurposed soon.  The same was true of Iran specialists at the State Department after the Shah was gone. 

Pitt the Younger said that the map of Europe should be rolled up for twenty years when Bonaparte's power was at its zenith.  For the Borg (foreign policy establishment) world-wide, Trump World would be the end of them as a cadre.  Cui bono?  pl

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139 Responses to Trump is a nationalist, not an internationalist.

  1. Poul says:

    His policy views has it’s merits.
    Take the South China Sea border conflicts.
    The Philippines told the US to pack up and leave but now with the pressure from China, they come running back. The question is what American interests are served by taking on the expends of defending Philippine border claims. A relevant discussion for sure.

  2. David Lentini says:

    Well said, Colonel. I’d add that Trump’s speeches may also be a signal of an attitude and weltschauung that a specific plan to “re-neogitate” every treaty. But treaties and deals are re-negotiated in word and deed all the time. I think at the very least, Trump’s message is: I get that we as a nation have been played.
    And yes, if Trump really can follow through with his views the Borg will see their wings clipped. At least for awhile.

  3. hans says:

    What Mr. Trump proposes is to make present U.S. hegemony into explicit empire. It will be interesting to watch the tumult as vassal states decide to either bend and cough up their tribute or re-arm so as to be able to go it alone.
    On one hand the neocons and Wilsonians will shriek and deploy against Trump, on the other, pragmatists in the arms trades may see great advantage in it. Trump has, perhaps inadvertently, divided his foes against each other.
    If the treaty entanglements that pitched the globe into the first world war been subjected to debate as their provisions began to be invoked what a different world we’d have had.

  4. eakens says:

    If the constitution is negotiable, then certainly a treaty is too.

  5. Kutte says:

    You said: “This is amusing since so many of the Borgians are now godless heathen.” I think, that’s not quite accurate. It’s not that they are godless, they simply think that they themselves are god! As far as the US allies are concerned, it may be painful to pay more for their defence, on the other hand, they then could face the US with a bit more self-confidence. At present, they resent being dependent on the US, but they don’t want the cost of (relative) independence either.

  6. Jack says:

    You’ve hit the nail on the head. The Borgist payola racket is under threat. And they’re freaking out. I’m loving it.
    Its high time we stopped meddling in others affairs when there is no national interest. In particular the Middle East. Let the Saudis, Turks, Iranians and Israelis fight it out. We should have no dog in that fight. I am also in agreement with Trump that NATO is obsolete and there is no reason why we can’t have friendly and cooperative relationship with Russia.

  7. Degringolade says:

    Clausula rebus sic stantibus
    Not holding up your end of the treaty might apply.

  8. JLCG says:

    In order to command one has to pay. If the USA wants to be the hegemon of NATO it has to support it materially. If other countries have to pay for NATO then they will want to have a voice. The patriarch is a patriarch because it owns the herds and the land and supports with them his family.
    Hegemons eventually become ruined by the expense of keeping their status.

  9. b says:

    “his commitment to automatically defend NATO allies if they are attacked,”
    I do not know who invented such a commitment. The borg make that up from the hot air they breathe out of their a**es?
    It ain’t in the NATO statutes. Article 5 comes with several caveats and each NATO nations could easily skip out of any “automatically defend” allusions. It could decide to do nothing or to do much, much less than send its army. More than “we promise we’ll think about it” is simply not there.

  10. J says:

    I’m watching CNN which I normally don’t do, and am seeing Ms. Hillary nominating as her VP running-mate your state’s Senator in the Congress Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA).
    Kaine just cited that one of his children his son Nat who Kaine says is in the Military, a Marine who Kaine says is set to deploy to Europe in just a few days. It appears that Nat graduated Marine ROTC at George Washington University
    My question, how has Tim Kaine represented your state Virginia as both Governor and now Senator?
    I’m like you, I’m can’t bring myself to vote for either the GOP or DEM prez/vp nominees, HOWEVER to “prevent” Hillary from waltzing into the Oval Office (which my lovely wife pointed out to me if I don’t vote for Trump), I’m forced to vote for Trump as a split vote opens the door to Hillary. My youngest son suggested I look at the alternate candidates out there. I don’t quite know at this point.
    What’s your take on Kaine?

  11. HankP says:

    That is a great version of “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.”
    There are two problems with Trump – the first is that he obviously hasn’t thought much about any issues other than property development and brand licensing deals. That is, everything seems to be based on gut instincts and ignorance, which can work sometimes but are a dangerous way to make policy. His “analysis” doesn’t seem to include any consideration of drawbacks or other side effects.
    The second is that what he says today has little to no relation to what he’ll say tomorrow, or next week, or even later today. He will say whatever appears to be best for him at that moment. Once again, that’s a dangerous way to make policy.

  12. turcopolier says:

    I agree about Trump and will not vote for him, but my main reason is that having been a corporate executive for ten years after leaving the government I do not think such people should run the government. they don’t understand that government is not business. OTOH I know HC personally and I think her to be a brain without a heart. I will not vote for her either. pl

  13. turcopolier says:

    “The key section of the treaty is Article 5. Its commitment clause defines the casus foederis. It commits each member state to consider an armed attack against one member state, in Europe or North America, to be an armed attack against them all.” Wiki n NAT. We have been through this before you and I. I guess you interpret that quote as not being binding? Is this because you refuse to believe that Germany is or ever was actually protected? BTW, I was looking at the Saker’s view of the Turkey “coup.” IMO it is filled with unwarranted, and unsupported assumptions. pl

  14. irf520 says:

    Not much of a brain either if she thinks there will be any winners from a war with Russia.

  15. jsn says:

    Our choices appear to be an unprincipled opportunist who is a realist and one who is an idealist. I doubt I’ll bring myself to vote for either, but survival odds are probably better under the former.

  16. turcopolier says:

    which is which? pl

  17. Tyler says:

    You Borgists need another line of attack. He’s released a dozen plans and you’re the supporter of a dynasty accusing Trump of only being interested in his name brand? Lmfbo.
    Progs always lie, always project, and always double down on their lies.

  18. turcopolier says:

    A well meaning churchy non-entity. pl

  19. Walter says:

    Col, it is refreshing to me to hear you and others recognize the need to shake up the foreign policy governmental apparatus that we have that probably exists more from inertia and a reluctance to cut budgets …. But I think our government needs to be more like a business which has to cut occasionally to survive and be strong… Just like trees benefit from pruning and forests benefit from forest fires … Both of our political parties are frightened of cutting and slashing the government, why is that ? I personally love hearing Trump talk about renegotiating treaties and relationships.

  20. Kutte says:

    You said: “This is amusing since so many of the Borgians are now godless heathen.” I think, that’s not quite accurate. It’s not that they are godless, they simply think that they themselves are god! As far as the US allies are concerned, it may be painful to pay more for their defence, on the other hand, they then could face the US with a bit more self-confidence. At present, they resent being dependent on the US, but they don’t want the cost of (relative) independence either.

  21. Jack says:

    If you’re a voter who votes for the duopoly then your choice is a) Trump who hasn’t thought much about these issues but seems to have a good instinct as reflected in his interview with Pravda on the Hudson and his RNC speech or b) Hillary, who has thought a lot about the issues but has come to a wrong conclusion each and every time with disastrous results, demonstrating a track record of poor judgment.
    Many will take a novice with good instincts compared to a seasoned “pro” of demonstrated poor judgment. IMO, you can’t be persuaded about Trump as Tyler can’t about Hillary. Everyone is pretty locked in by their biases. I live in a state that only votes Democrat. My county was one of the few in my state which Sanders won in the primary. I was at a local craft brewpub last night that gets a lot of blue collar folks. There was a lot of discussion about Trump’s speech. Most were impressed and felt he was talking about them. Hillary comes across as elitist to them. To me that is a big tell that even in a Democrat partisan area a demographic segment feel an affinity towards Trump. Unlike previous elections people are engaged, and IMO it is because of Trump. This election will depend on who can turn out their voters in Nevada, Ohio, Florida and Virginia. Maybe Pennsylvania and North Carolina. At this juncture it’s an even race, but considering the massive institutional backing for Hillary, Trump running a maverick campaign is doing really well.

  22. ISL says:

    I always assumed that Trump would set the agenda (he does have plans, but they are sketchy) and then bring in experts to bring him up to speed quickly and flesh out the details while considering the latest information. That is how CEOs tend to operate when brought into a new company to turn it around.
    One could argue that of the two candidates, Trump’s policies are more progressive, but one would have to look at what he said rather than the media broad brush name calling. Nothing is more progressive than good paying jobs – not (the soon to be automated) burger flipping for $15/hr) that provide a product / service worth a decent salary.
    Fortunately, here in California, I can vote at 1930 PM, after the election has been called, and my vote will count for absolutely naught.

  23. morgan says:

    Granted, both candidates are terrible but consider the Supreme Court. Trump has listed his list of choices. Madame deFarge–Hillary–would pack the court with Justices that would make the old Warren Court seem a bastion of conservatism. Her court choices could easily steer the court way leftward for a couple of decades. To me, this a hold your nose no brainer.

  24. VietnamVet says:

    With Donald Trump you get what you see a Reality TV Star Businessman plus a Christian First VP. With Hillary Clinton you get a War First Neo-Conservative and a 100% Status Quo Corporatist. I can’t vote for either ticket. The Green Party apparently will be on the Maryland ballot. Right now, I’d vote for Jill Stein to aid in the rise of a progressive party and Democrats Chris Van Hollen and Steny Hoyer in the hope of protecting my government pension.
    The outcome of the election depends if votes of the Losers in the global economy in the USA outnumber the Cosmopolitan Winners and if the corporate media propaganda campaign falls flat on its face as I expect it will. It is not happenstance that the political leaders in the West are all incredibly incompetent.

  25. All,
    Oh God, this takes me back.
    In his December 1988 speech to the UN, Gorbachev publicly renounced the ‘Brezhnev doctrine’.
    In February 1989, I and a colleague, interviewing for a BBC Radio programme, asked officials in Moscow what would happen if an Eastern European country tried to leave the Warsaw Pact. We were told – nothing.
    When we went on to Washington and told a State Department official about this – oh the condescension. It would all be different, when the ‘movers and shakers’ entered the room.
    I thought to myself: You people know nothing about imperial management. The ultimate sanction is always the possibility of ruthless force: read Kipling. Anyone who publicly renounces the use of such force has either gone bonkers, or has decided that maintaining the empire is not worth the candle.
    One basic fact was also clear. The change in Moscow was not essentially due to Gorbachev being intimidated by the Reagan military build-up, the oil price collapse, the Afghan war, etc.
    This man was not a ruthless power politician. Somehow, a naïve utopian idealist had ended up as general secretary of the CPSU.
    And the people to whom he was listening were officials and intellectuals who had – quite genuinely – swallowed the ‘common security’ talk of the Palme Commission.
    At that time, Georgi Arbatov, who had been a member of the Palme Commission, famously remarked that ‘We are going to do something terrible to you. You will no longer have an enemy.’
    (See .)
    But of course, people in London and Washington quickly rallied round, confronted by this dastardly sneak attack.
    When one tried to explain that the world had irrevocably changed to people in either place, they talked knowingly about ‘reversibility’.
    Sometimes I thought that if they had been present at the execution of Louis XVI, even after the guillotine had fallen, they would have told you that his head could very well pop back onto his shoulders.
    I tried making jokes, suggesting an article by Marshal Akhromeyev might appear in ‘Pravda’: ‘Marxism-Leninism: an idea whose time has gone.’
    Eventually I realised it was no conceivable use.
    Too many people loved their Cold War, and did not want to have it taken away from them.
    Whatever his faults – which are clearly many – Trump at least holds out the promise of some ‘new thinking’ on the Western side.

  26. J says:

    Too bad we don’t have a candidate out there who can carry a tune like ВАЛЕРИЯ. Or have the looks like Таисия Повалий. Instead we have candidates who can’t carry a tune (Hillary from her own lips in an interview), and look like a mud fence with a wig.
    So I ponder the world at large while listing to ВАЛЕРИЯ in my air conditioned comfort.

  27. turcopolier says:

    He does not propose that at all. What he says is that if you “allies” want the US to protect you, you should stop freeloading on the US with your ridiculously small slices of GDP devoted to defense. To accomplish that he states that his negotiating position will be to be prepared to “walk away” from the table. If you are not prepared to do that then you are just patronizing the people across the table because you think it will be an easy bargain. Have you never negotiated a deal? Many of the Europeans here claim that we are dominating their governments by subsidizing them. Well, here is your chance to “walk away.” pl

  28. HankP says:

    Jack –
    I understand about novices, and in the past have promoted them to positions slightly above their experience to see how they do. The Presidency is not one of those positions.
    The polls can be ignored until Labor Day. That’s when they’ll start to indicate what the actual race will look like.

  29. HankP says:

    Col. Lang –
    Yup. I stopped doing public sector work a long time ago due to the obsession with process over results. But that’s how they work, negotiating between political blocs is nothing like negotiating in business. I think someone really needs the experience of running and winning an elected position before jumping in at the highest level.
    Clinton does have drawbacks, as in her corporatism and hawkish policies. But as a liberal I’m much more comfortable with the rest of her positions.

  30. HankP says:

    Tyler –
    More name calling and insults. Don’t you have any actual points to make?

  31. walrus says:

    With Trump, there is the possibility of change. With HRC there is none, period. In my opinion, without radical change, the economic rent seekers that now dominate policy formulation in the West as well as Washington (they are one and the same) will destroy all of us and our children’s and grand children’s lives in their pursuit of absolute economic power.
    Brexit was one small setback to their plans. The election of Trump could be cataclysmic to the globalist plans if Trump was able to, Samson – like, upset the pillars of their temple. I give him a slim chance of doing that but it is better than nothing.
    What Trump appears to be embracing – a renewed focus on national issues at the expense of collectivist causes like NATO, TPP, etc., has a huge benefit to the rest of the world; it would give national elites and voters permission to think for themselves instead of slavishly aping / copying what Washington does. it would leave room for some much needed diversity.
    For example, in a Trumpian world, how does it make sense for Germany to provoke Russia? How foolhardy is Australia in moving lock step with Washington in confronting China? Why should Australia or Europe care about American car emission control standards or pharmaceutical patent restrictions? Trump has the capacity to destroy the globalist plans for the economic (and thus political) domination of the planet by Wall Street, a handful of technology companies like Amazon and Google, Apple, etc. as well as the military industrial complex. Trump has the capability to achieve much by giving the rest of the world permission to focus on their own interests, not on what pleases the Washington establishment, for that is where his nationalist rhetoric takes us all.
    To achieve any of this will require a vast understanding of how restructuring works and the pitfalls and excuses the establishment will use to forestall reform. I give Trump maybe a 15% odds of achieving the meaningful change that his army of supporters around the world as well as at home are thirsting for. That is better than the certainty of the planet being smothered in more of the neocon/neoliberal formulations that HRC will administer.

  32. Sam Peralta says:

    It seems that there are many Europeans and others on the internet and elsewhere who are constantly harping about CIA this and that and how the US is the personification of all evil. I think they should be thrilled if Trump becomes the 45th President. Then they and we can all walk away from NATO, WTO, NAFTA, MFN, IMF, World Bank, etc. We can then move towards more bilateral relationships based on mutual interest. The Arabs, Persians and Ashkenazi and Sephardic can resolve their matters as they please and choose to modernize or return to medieval times. The Europeans can then have more EU or less. A single currency or not. And the Russians can decide to carve up the Baltics or not. It really should not be any of our business. And if they choose to destroy themselves as they have done periodically through history, we can watch and intervene if necessary. And the next time they do that we should not bail them out with a Marshall Plan but instead invest to become owners of their assets.
    IMHO, this will be a great outcome for the United States and I hope my fellow citizens will vote Trump. We can have a strong military that we can use to enforce our national interests and defend our borders. I am all for nationalism compared to the internationalism that we have currently that brings us no tangible benefits.

  33. Kooshy says:

    IMO if the propose,reason and the cost for continuation of NATO is explained in a honest no biased way to Americans, they will reject paying for it, IMO we have no beef with Russians, anymore, Russia is not an enemy of US unless some need to present them as our enemy, this same is true with Iran. I wrote before FP of US is the same old Cold War era posture with just a remodeled facade. Some in US and in Europe have made themselves a permanent carrier with this Cold War era FP US posture, they will re shape re name re do any thing not to let it slip away from thier hold. Europeans are getting a free ride for thier security even if they really need it, they say let the fat stupid American pay on the cost of every US citizen. As Trump said if they want NATO security, fine, start paying for it.

  34. Phil Cattar says:

    Hi Jack,I am going to hold my nose and vote for Trump.Unfortunately the “demographic segment” of blue collar males you recently encountered in your local pub do not have the numbers to put Trump in the White House.I talk to many different types of people and read and listen to all I can.I think anecdotal information is greatly under rated.A sharp pollster could probably interview 100 different type people across each state each election cycle and be very accurate in his election predictions………….I predict Hillary will win Fl,Va.Nv,Co,NC…and at least 2 of the three states of Pa,OH and Mich………………..I think the odds are better than 50% that the term “landslide” will be used on election night as far as the electoral college is concerned.

  35. Cortes says:

    Excellent. Thank you.
    The maxim “pacta sunt servanda” has related to treaties at least since Grotius: “agreements are for keeping” and if they’re not observed by both (all) parties then they’re just dead letter. I suspect Candidate Trump is correct. Everything moves on.

  36. walrus says:

    @Col. Lang,
    As you know, the MIC does some very nice deals with the alleged weak and wimpy allies. The MIC and said allies will both remind Trump of the commercial downside of walking away from the table. Start with the F35 and various logistics agreements.

  37. turcopolier says:

    The “MIC” as you call it can compete with the Chinese, Russians, etc. as sources of equipment. the only problem we have is that these people do not have an equivalent of a “Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.” This is something we should get rid of so that our companies can bribe governments like all the others. pl

  38. oofda says:

    Regarding Trump, there is also the little-discussed item of his increasing reliance on Russian funding for his businesses. Particularly since he has been blackballed by U.S. banks. This piece, posted today puts together a lot of data, previously known, about Trump’s increasing reliance on Russian financing. Or rather financing from Russian sources close to Putin.
    Note in particular, the single plank item in the Republican Platform that the Trump team took interest in and insisted on changing. When I heard that a few days ago, I thought something was really funny about that move. This all is troubling, and may explain some of his positions.

  39. Valissa says:

    Why is this troubling to you? How about some of the foreign donations to the Clinton Global Initiative, do those trouble you too?
    An interview with one of the darlings of the economic left…
    Is the Real Scandal the Clinton Foundation?
    [MICHAEL HUDSON:] Here’s the problem, you can imagine. She’s going to Saudi Arabia, she’s going to Europe, she’s going to the Near Eastern countries. Saudi Arabia has asked her–and this is all very public–we want more arms. We want to buy arms in America. We know that Saudi Arabia is one of the major contributors to the Clinton Foundation. On the other hand, Hillary’s in a position to go to Raytheon, to Boeing, and say look, do I have a customer for you. Saudi Arabia would love to buy your arms. Maybe we can arrange something. I’m going to do my best. By the way, you know, my foundation is–you know, I’m a public-spirited person and I’m trying to help the world. Would you like to make a contribution to my foundation?
    Well, lo and behold, the military-industrial complex is one of the big contributors to the Clinton Foundation, as is Saudi Arabia, and many of the parties who are directly affected by her decisions. …
    JAY: As far as we know, there’s no direct evidence that she did precisely what you’re saying. And that–.
    HUDSON: [No direct] at all.
    JAY: And that actually say–“Give money to the foundation; I will facilitate such-and-such a contract.” There’s no evidence of that, correct?
    HUDSON: That’s right. And partly there’s no evidence because her private emails are not subject to [inaud.]. They’re not subject to finding out this. We don’t have any evidence one way or the other. So certainly there is no evidence. There is only the appearance of what looks to me to be an inherent conflict of interest with the foundation.
    If it quacks like a duck…

  40. hans says:

    Well, damnit, you’re right. I read fast and thought short. Now I’ve gone back and read the transcript. I hate it when I do exactly what I criticize others for doing. Trump is careful and as nuanced as the pace of the interview allowed. In case anyone else is interested, here’s the link to the full transcript of Trump’s NY Times interview of 7/21/16

  41. Jack says:

    Did you vote for the novice as President 8 years ago? As a self-described liberal how would you rate the performance of the novice with no prior executive experience?

  42. Jack says:

    That is the 64 thousand dollar question! Many millions are being spent to understand the voting intentions. As HankP noted we should wait for the post Labor day polls and then track the trends. I personally will not count Trump out. What he’s achieved electorally through the primary defies all expectations. I agree however that it will be an electoral college landslide. The pendelum will swing one way or another.

  43. Jack says:

    Josh Marshall is a Democrat partisan and TPM is a partisan publication but as Col. Lang has noted several times we should evaluate the information on its own merits. I’m sure Trump has other foreign investors too. I would believe they are like any other commercial financial investor looking to make a financial return. I doubt any investment is made on an uneconomical basis to elicit a purely political return as the structure is inappropriate. Other means will be used for such purposes, like the Clinton Foundation which launders foreign cash from Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan and others with a political influence motive. In any case those making a political bet on Trump in 2008 were surely just buying a lottery ticket.

  44. Bobo says:

    Donald Trump is a Buffoon and every thing else that everyone says about him. What I like about him is that he is not a life-long professional politician. He is like a bully in a candy store as he grabs everything before everyone else then tossing it all around requiring a Cleaning. Once elected he will bull his way around every section of our government and a Cleaning will be needed. Our government will be thouroughly cleaned once President Trump moves on to other things in life.
    Our Debt is pushing 19.4 trillion, up 87% under Obama. How much do you think it’s going up under HRC. I know Trump ran a very cheap campaign in the primary and looks like he is replicating it against HRC who seems to be blowing hundreds of millions on commercials attempting to soften her image.
    Our politicians in their globalist pursuit have forgotten the people who made this country what it was, the middle class. We are turning into a country of the Haves and the Have Nots. Trump understands that and will not let it continue.
    The light at the end of our energy tunnel is bright do we need MENA oil that badly, if not, then we have no business playing around in the area, an area that has had internal conflicts for centuries. An area that does not put food on American tables.
    I can go on and on as you can also. Give this country a chance and vote for the dope Trump. What could happen in his four years. I know what could happen in her four years and is scares the bejesus out of me.

  45. Jack says:

    Funny tweet.
    If you read Western media, Putin secretly controls
    1. US GOP
    2. UK Labour
    3. #Brexit campaign
    4. German SPD
    5 Greek left
    6. French right

  46. Valissa,
    Hasn’t aggressively pushing the sale of US arms to the Gulfies been our policy for decades. Both DOS and DOD, not to mention the arms manufacturers, have been doing this for as long as I can remember. I would think a SecState not pursuing this policy would be more of a scandal.
    HRC has a lot worse baggage than this.

  47. ex-PFC Chuck says:

    I agree that the chances of meaningful change with Hilary are vanishingly small. With Trump it’s more complicated. On the foreign policy front it is encouraging that he appears to favor backing off from confrontation with Russia. However the presence of people like Sheldon Adelson prominent on his list of supporters suggests his Middle East policies may continue to be slavishly attached to those of the Israeli far right. Trump won the nomination by galvanizing the enraged economic left-behinds in the US economy. However his rhetoric pins the blame for their declining fortunes on China and the other countries to which we have exported the good jobs rather than where it really belongs, namely at the feet of the neo-liberal fundamentalists of Wall Street whose exaltation of the notion of “share-holder value” has pushed aside the interests of all other stake-holders in our economic institutions. Unfortunately, Trump is afraid to take on the financial poobahs of his home town.

  48. oofda,
    Why did US banks black ball Trump? Is it just his track record of screwing over investors?
    I find Trump’s unwillingness to antagonize Russia or support that vile Nazi regime in Kiev to be his best points, even if it’s only because Russian oligarchs own a piece of him.

  49. Outrage Beyond says:

    Josh Marshall is also a self-declared Zionist and was one of the promoters of the Iraq war for Israel.

  50. steve says:

    Trump proposed huge tax cuts without corresponding decreases in spending. The Tax Foundation )a conservative group) estimate it would add about $10 trillion to our debt. That is before the increase in military spending he has promised.

  51. jdledell says:

    What I do not understand is why Trump supporters believe he understands and will in reality do anything for the middle class. In his business career has he ever thought about the impact of his deals where he takes the majority of the gains? How do the workers in his casinos feel about Trumps concern for their economic well being? Why do people believe what Trump will be concerned about the middle class when his entire life he has been an elitist. Living in New Jersey for a long time, I have been a regular visitor to Atlantic city. Among Casino workers you will not find many supporters, if any. In my mind Trump is just a lot of angry hot air to get votes without any real inclination to follow through. I can’t wait until he offers holders of Treasury notes 70 cents on the dollar like his bankruptcies.

  52. Tidewater says:

    Tidewater to Turcopolier,
    Kaine is described as a foreign policy “heavyweight” by some of the borg. It turns out that he was very strongly in favor of a no-fly zone over Syria! I didn’t know this. There are things in his resume that are quite good, such as Project Exile, which was put into effect when he was mayor of Richmond, and was a coordinated effort between the Richmond Commonwealth Attorney’s office, the US Attorney’s office (Helen Fahey) in the “Rocket Docket” Eastern District of Virginia, the ATF, Richmond Police Department and others. This meant that if a convicted felon was arrested carrying a pistol he would almost automatically get five years in a federal prison. The murder and crime rate in Richmond went way down after this project was put into effect. It was very successful and is still the model for firearms crime reduction strategies.
    As to Kaine’s churchman-like appearance–On April 16, 2014, the Atlantic sponsored “A New America: How Millenials Are Sparking Change: Richmond.” He is interviewed on this YouTube video. I have seen some of it and find him very appealing. He is at his progressive best and also speaks in a rapid, intelligent and subtle way, quite clearly very much in tune with, very sympatico to his audience, who seem very sharp. The panel had a number of varied, mostly young, optimists talking about opportunities in Richmond. I was surprised to learn from another source that Richmond’s white population increased by 30 per cent since 2005. If one factors in the percentage of Richmonders who now decline to identify themselves as white or black, it is arguable that Richmond is no longer a black-majority city, by a slight margin. I have been told by a millenial that Richmond has a good rep up and down the east coast among millenials as a place to move to and start out in. Exciting things seem to be happening in the city. The reasons are interesting, but I would like to get on to the subject of Richmond in another “post.”
    Not only did Tim Kaine argue for a No-Fly zone over Syria, he spoke out forcefully that by not imposing a No-Fly zone the United States had made a very serious, damaging mistake in its foreign policy.
    This is depressing to me. I had thought at first that Tim Kaine, perhaps working with Bill Clinton, might serve as a brake on Hillary Clinton, should she come into power, cautioning her against reckless, self-righteous belligerence. Now I wonder. It’s scary as hell.
    Question: Do you know anything about his foreign policy thinking regarding the Middle East, including his aggressively pushing the No-Fly zone?

  53. Fred says:

    There are plenty of state and local office holders requiring voting.

  54. Valissa says:

    Perhaps you misunderstood, it’s not about her following US standard policy, it’s about using the Clinton Global Initiative as a middleman. Many of the global elite oligarchs from all around the world donate money to the CGI, and while I’m sure some “good works” are done it, I’m sure lots of deals are made as well, and favors traded… that have and will effect Hillary’s foreign policy actions.
    I am a realist and basically cynical about this kind of thing. I’m not shocked or appalled by it. I made the point because oofda was concerned about where Trump was getting his money so I pointed out he wasn’t the only one with questionable funding sources. Some of the Ukrainian oligarchs that Hillary is pals with, and that fund the CGI, are from the western part of Ukraine and I’m pretty sure that sort of thing effects Hillary’s foreign policy stance. The military industrial complex is not the only group that benefits from Hillary’s anti-Russia stance, or that Hillary benefits from in the great deal making game.

  55. turcopolier says:

    I do not know. pl

  56. eakens says:

    I’ve said it since last year. People are not voting for trump. They are simply voting against everyone else. This is what many failed to understand and now he’s the republican nominee. HRC can’t do anything to counter it and I suspect he is going to win by a wider margin than many can fathom.

  57. oofda says:

    Why did U.S. banks blackball Trump? Simple- four bankruptcies.

  58. Old Microbiologist says:

    I worked for quite a few years with DTRA (Defense Threat Reduction Agency) on the Bioweapons Threat Reduction Program (BTRP) and was put in charge of several “failed” projects funded using Nunn-Lugar Act money. In these “partnership” projects at least one senior civilian government researcher is put to head a project (many are funded) who partners with several civilian (usually American university researchers) and as many host country scientists as the budget can maintain. I, naively, thought these projects were actually supposed to do some real research so faced the challenge with an aggressive stance (former Soviet Republics of the Islamic faith only respond to a firm hand) as they can be recalcitrant to function, particularly if you make them think they are in charge thus nothing ever moves along. I took a take charge firm approach (being a retired officer with an SF enlisted background) to move the noodle down the road and threatened to cancel projects if things didn’t rapidly progress. The animus and violent reaction was not from my host country scientists (used to Russian firm hand management) but rather from my American counterparts. I was not paid anything extra for my work on these projects which suck quite a bit of my (limited) time away from my own research projects as these were “voluntary” participation on our part (although nudged strongly by DoD as the majority of our own research dollars comes from DTRA). But I learned that our American scientists were not volunteers but rather were earning roughly $110k per project. Some of these guys were on 10 or more projects which adds up to a nice sideline benefit for a university professor. So, it was in their interest to string these projects out as long as possible. The same thing was happening on the host country side so it is really a debacle. I also then realized quite a bit was kicked back to my government scientist junior partners covertly. I was completely unaware of this aspect of illegal graft and kickbacks and was fired from all projects for being too aggressive. None of those projects, now 10 years later, have progressed at all and all are still funded.
    My point is there are a lot of things like this out there where people are stealing money in unusual ways. Interesting no one attempted to bribe me or make me complicit. My reputation for being intolerant to graft is well known so I wonder why I was put on these projects at all in the first place.

  59. Valissa says:

    Yup. Michael Moore points that out in Reason #5 here…
    5 Reasons Why Trump Will Win
    (5) The Jesse Ventura Effect. Finally, do not discount the electorate’s ability to be mischievous or underestimate how any millions fancy themselves as closet anarchists once they draw the curtain and are all alone in the voting booth. … There are no rules. And because of that, and the anger that so many have toward a broken political system, millions are going to vote for Trump not because they agree with him, not because they like his bigotry or ego, but just because they can. Just because it will upset the apple cart and make mommy and daddy mad. And in the same way like when you’re standing on the edge of Niagara Falls and your mind wonders for a moment what would that feel like to go over that thing, a lot of people are going to love being in the position of puppetmaster and plunking down for Trump just to see what that might look like. Remember back in the ‘90s when the people of Minnesota elected a professional wrestler as their governor? They didn’t do this because they’re stupid or thought that Jesse Ventura was some sort of statesman or political intellectual. They did so just because they could. Minnesota is one of the smartest states in the country. It is also filled with people who have a dark sense of humor — and voting for Ventura was their version of a good practical joke on a sick political system. This is going to happen again with Trump.
    When the choice is voting for the Establishment versus the bull in the china shop, and considering that most people are not happy with the Establishment… what is most likely? It’s not rocket science.
    I’ve been tempted to vote for Trump for the same reason. But am sticking with my 3rd party voting strategy and voting Gary Johnson, even though I’m pretty underwhelmed by him. That’s my way of sending the establishment a message. I expect both Johnson and Stein will get a lot more votes than 3rd party candidates have in past elections – a good thing, IMO. There’s a lot of pissed off voters these days, and one way or another they will send a message to the establishment (even if it means sitting at home on election day).

  60. jld says:

    May be the globalists have some contingency plans about Trump, what do you think of the support given by Peter Thiel, isn’t this a bit “strange”?

  61. crf says:

    But one the reason the US has trouble doing deals is purely financial. The Chinese and the Russian will provide the goods, and the financing, and back the financing for the security of their companies. By contrast, the United States lets its exporting companies dangle in the wind: many members of congress are bizarrely trying to cripple the US import-export bank. Also, foreign governments seeking financing for projects may be reluctant to use the United State’s enormously important capital markets after the success of bond-vultures in several lawsuits (which the United States government and congress also seem not interested in addressing).

  62. ked says:

    get used to it.

  63. ked says:

    “With Trump, there is the possibility of change. With HRC there is none”
    possibility? hell… guarentee! but not to anywhere deep-thinkers think. you project far far too much of you hopes into this maniac’s world-view. shallow & personal – & that’s it.
    as to the Hill, c’mon take a break from Derangement Syndrome … if Nixon could open China, God knows what she’s capable-of.

  64. johnf says:

    Back in the early 80’s I supported an organization called European Nuclear Disarmament. Its essential premise was that peace campaigners in the West should support dissident movements in the East such as Solidarnosc and Charter 77 and eastern dissidents should support the (non-communist) peace movements in the West. If heroic dissidents in the East stood up against Western arms build ups and heroic Western peace movements (in the eyes of the Soviets) stood up for freedom in the East, then the cutting edge propaganda of both sides would be considerably blunted.
    It was quite successful. Leading dissidents in the East were visited and quite a few came out in support of (non-communist) Western peace movements. Increasingly the Soviet-influence within western peace movements was blunted and declarations made about eastern repression.
    Some Eastern dissidents had a rough time, END people visiting them were harassed. (I didn’t suffer anything but I was banned from every East European country).
    This is the interesting part. END smuggled in a lot of literature covering the analysis for defusing the Cold War that I’ve laid out here. We are in the mid 80’s by now. A lot of it was confiscated. Where did it go? I’d bet my bottom dollar it was read by the lower and middle ranks of the Communist parties who had taken it. I think it was circulated amongst the communist intelligensia. Why? Because, as David describes above, by the late 80’s the Soviet Union was ruled by: “(Gorbachev) was not a ruthless power politician. Somehow, a naïve utopian idealist had ended up as general secretary of the CPSU.”
    I remember thinking at the time, this man is straight out of the END playbook (and a lot of other influences as well). Of course it didn’t work. Gorbachev might have been serious but, as David says, no one in The West was serious. But some worthwhile figures did come out of END – Robin Cook in particular.
    Something else negative to the END story. I remember some meeting in a Committee Room in parliament. Afterwards we all resorted – naturally – to a pub in Whitehall. I noticed a strangely large contingent of keen and eager young ladies from the Foreign Office, all enraptured by the idea of Human Rights in Foreign Policy. Unfortunately, END might have started something it couldn’t end.

  65. Jack says:

    I think the decision making is much simpler. The choice is the uncertainty of Trump vs the certainty of Hillary. Many of those who support Trump, IMO would prefer to take the chance that there may be a remote possibility that the Borg will not run supreme during his term. Hillary has proven repeatedly by her actions that she is the Borg Queen. So, for a voter that wants a reduction in the influence of the Borg, there is no alternative. Third party and write-in candidates do not yet have sufficient mass support to be viable.
    Both the Republican primary and the Democrat primary showed voters want alternatives to the Borgistas. Trump defeated 16 candidates including Borgist heavy weights like Jeb who had raised a lot of money and had veteran political operatives in fully staffed organizations. Kasich, Rubio, Christie were governors and senators with serious political and electoral experience. On the Democrat side Hillary began with pretty much all the super delegates even before the campaign began. The DNC was set-up for her coronation. But Sanders comes along as a grandpa socialist and gives her a run for her money despite the rigging by the DNC. The message should be clear. There are sufficient number of Americans who have lost all confidence in the Borg. Trump is the only choice they have now for the general election. This election comes down to those who prefer certainty and are willing to let the Borg continue to rule and those who can no longer countenance the Borg and are willing to take a chance.

  66. Bill Herschel says:

    Putting on my visiting Martian hat, I would say first of all that I totally agree with your last paragraph. Totally,
    On the other, from Mars we believe that it is possible to make a case that Trump is totally controlled by Vladimir Putin. Josh Marshall makes the point that the Trump campaign took a complete hands-off attitude toward the Republican “Platform” with the exception of arming Ukraine with lethal weapons.
    Now that platform would tear America apart: no abortion even in cases of rape, incest, and to save the life of the mother, etc. etc. The rich would get far richer and the poor would go hungry. The Affordable Care Act is a big success that brings the United States a little closer to being a civilized society. No so for the Republican Platform. On and on.
    You may disagree with me, but I believe that if Trump wins you will see a very serious case of res ipsa loquitur.

  67. MRW says:

    Unimpressed with Josh Marshall’s meanderings and assertions as if he had an inside track to Trump organization finances.
    Stephen Cohen has a vastly different take last Tuesday on the the Trump campaign move to remove the arming of Kiev from the Republican platform, one that is far more plausible. Cohen, a Russian analyst, praised Trump for the sober-minded decision.
    Marshall doesn’t mention the fact that many Trump projects are ones wherein he licenses his name to the project. The real owners provide the financing.

  68. MRW says:

    “Unfortunately, Trump is afraid to take on the financial poobahs of his home town.”
    Why would he do it now before he became President? Doesn’t make strategic sense.

  69. MRW says:

    When the economy is in the tank, you decrease taxes and/or INCREASE SPENDING.
    When the economy is red hot, you increase taxes, and/or DECREASE SPENDING.
    You don’t understand macroeconomics.
    Our Debt is pushing 19.4 trillion, up 87% under Obama.
    The majority of that initially were the automatic stabilizers (safety net) that kicked in–unemployment insurance, etc–when the GFC hit in 2008. Obama’s stimulus was far too small to produce an effective recovery. He didn’t spend enough.
    When you’re talking about the federal government, the “debt” is the accounting record of new dollars created minus money destroyed (taxes). The 19.4 trillion is the amount of treasury securities parked in people’s US bank accounts; namely, pension funds. Get rid of that and the country will, indeed, be destitute.

  70. MRW says:

    I can’t wait until he offers holders of Treasury notes 70 cents on the dollar like his bankruptcies.
    A President doesn’t have the power to set interest rates on Treasuries. A treasury security MEANS that your capital is guaranteed by the full faith and credit of the US federal government–you get every dime back, plus whatever the interest rate is–unlike savings in a commercial bank which are only insured up to $250,000 per account.

  71. b says:

    I simply don’t believe that Art 5 means anyone would come to its defense should a right-wing lunatic Estonia (for example) manage to initiate a conflict with Russia.
    The only commitment Art 5 gives is “to consider”. One can consider a lot,for a long time, and reconsider too, and come to conclusions others then to send soldiers. Who would send his sons to die for some empty, worthless places as the Baltics? 10% of the Germans or French? 15%?
    That these are empty, worthless places (just see their population trends) is also the reason why Russia has absolutely no interest to take them over – which could have done easily over the last 20+ years.

    I have nothing to do with the Saker and, if I read him at all, usually disagree with him. Why do you bring him up?

  72. b says:

    “Mr. Clinton received $500,000 … from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin”
    Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation Amid Russian Uranium Deal

  73. turcopolier says:

    You may well be right about Article 5. In that case Trump’s position of re-negotiation of the underlying costs of maintaining all that structure is sensible. “Saker.” I too, rarely look at his overproduced blog but a link took me there on the Turkey subject and his assertion that Gulen is a CIA project aimed at Erdogan seems absurd to me as well as his statement thaty “people” in surrounding countries tell him that the US was behind the “coup.” What “surrounding countries?” Greece, Armenia, Georgia, Syria? I wanted your opinion about him. pl

  74. turcopolier says:

    Bill Herschel
    “The Affordable Care Act is a big success” How high do you think subsidies will go in the program in order to maintain insurance company participation? pl

  75. Eric Newhill says:

    The subsidies have to go higher. We (one of the large nationwide insurance companies) just received our annual reimbursement check from the federal govt in the hundreds of $millions for 2015 ACA participation. This is on two programs. 1. Reinsurance; Feds cover a proportion of medical costs incurred by the member and paid by us whenever a member exceeds $45K in a calendar year. 2. Risk adjustment; the risk represented by each member is aggregated up to the state level and then compared to the other insurers providing ACA coverage in that state. Basically, if an insurer has taken on more risk relative to competitors then the Federal govt cuts a check to compensate the insurer.
    We are still losing money on the ACA. Without the RI/RA programs we wouldn’t even touch the ACA business.
    ACA members are incredibly expensive high utilizers of services. That we have to cover pre-existing conditions is a major problem in terms of risk and cost. The young healthy low utilizers/low risk just are signing up to offset the high risk/high utilizers. That they would was promised by Obama. We were skeptical and our skepticism was well founded. There is a lot of abuse. People sign up for ACA coverage when they know they are facing an expensive health crisis and then, once the crisis is past, they drop coverage. So it’s not working like insurance normally does, where you pay in for a long period of time without claims, which offsets an expensive claim if and when it happens. The relative lack of healthy never claimants paying in further destroys the normal model.
    We went into the ACA market cautiously. Our market share is relatively small. When I extrapolate our results to companies that took the plunge in a bigger way, I don’t see the ACA as being sustainable unless the govt starts increasing the subsidies via the RI/RA programs (or something new).
    The there is the fact that the govt is subsidizing the premiums for the members as well. I have a very sense for what that must be costing based on the % of premium subsidy our covered population enjoys.
    Time for the feds to start printing more money – or the ACA has to be revamped soon.

  76. Bill Herschel says:

    It’s a question of priorities. Somehow France manages to provide everyone living in the Hexagon with health care that, in terms of results, is superior to our own. For example, women in France are paid to receive prenatal care, not much but there is a subsidy. No one arrives in a hospital for delivery without a complete pre-natal record. Res ipsa loquitur. The government controls the price of drugs. Drugs cost less, but note, all the big drug companies sell in France and many of them are based in France. Doctors live very, very well, but they don’t have Sky Boxes at the Stade de France. Priorities. Would you like to live without health insurance?

  77. turcopolier says:

    Bill Herschel
    “Would you like to live without health insurance?” An attempt at shaming? Emotional drivel. I asked a question. I do not expect you to send me Democratic Party propaganda. I have repeatedly said that I am in favor of single payer government care rather than subsidizing insurance companies. pl

  78. Sounds like a government funded effort to ensure certain university professors a “living wage.” Extrapolating from this, one can understand why U.S. tax laws will never be simplified. Just think of the many thousands of tax accountants and tax attorneys it would put out of business. As colonel Lang has often said, “government is not a business.” If it was, it would have gone out of “business” many years ago.

  79. robt willmann says:

    Yesterday (23 July) on television there was a replay of a campaign rally earlier in the day for Hillary Clinton at which her vice-presidential selection, Tim Kaine, spoke. It was very interesting. He talked without notes (or else he is an exceptional teleprompter reader), and in a very natural-sounding, conversational style. Sometimes he switched to speaking Spanish, which he apparently learned during year in Honduras. That is one obvious factor in his selection. He will do interviews on Spanish language TV and radio in the U.S., as well as commercials in Spanish.
    You can see why he won elections for mayor, governor, and the U.S. Senate. He sounds like everybody’s nice, middle-class dad. And his speaking style at that rally was much better than Hillary’s artificial, phony, boring public speaking. She would do better to let him talk at rallies and just stand behind him nodding her head from time to time, as she is prone to do.
    My guess is that Slick Willie had a hand in Kaine’s selection.

  80. Eric Newhill says:

    Bill Herschel,
    There are a couple of problems comparing US versus, say, France in terms of bang for buck healthcare coverage. First, if you are insured in the US, you typically are enjoying “Cadillac” level benefits, whereas in France, or other single payer/socialized systems, you are getting the coverage equivalent of a Citroen econo model.
    This is because a) the US consumer (the insured person) demands that level of coverage and feels cheated if they don’t get it and, perhaps more importantly, b) because the providers (doctors, hospitals, big pharma, etc) demand to be able to supply it. The US medical service delivery model has long been “more is better”. On the payer (insurance company) side we know this isn’t true. We study cost versus outcomes and we see massive waste associated with widely varying treatment approaches given the same medical conditions. We do the best we can to write rules about what services will be covered for which conditions, but we cannot go all the way because when we try, we get nasty media articles describing how some poor person is dying because the evil insurance company denied some life saving service or good (even though we know that it would not make a difference). US providers are for profit. A hospital may not officially be, but the doctors working there sure are. Furthermore, the doctors demand that each hospital have the latest and greatest wiz bang gizmos and often is the case that these gizmos at best represent a marginal benefit at a greatly increased cost.
    I work in the for profit insurance sector. That said, I’d be all for a single payer socialized system *if* the for profit provider and the I want everything possible at any cost consumer cultures could be dealt with. That would mean politicians crafting the right program and the right hard message to providers and consumers. I do not see that happening in the US.

  81. turcopolier says:

    Robt Willman
    Kaine is an interesting phenomenon. you described him well. my perception of him after a long period of observation is that he is the ultimate “do-gooder.” He also had his eye on the main advantage. From the Midwest, moved to Richmond after law school to practice civil rights law while he lived in a Black neighborhood. Married the daughter of an extremely popular former Republican governor, ran for city council and won in a majority Black city, ran for mayor and won on the same basis, etc. This man is a SJW identity politics guy. pl

  82. Bobo says:

    I work in a business that pays for these Cadillac plans and it is no longer sustainable. The cost is eating into the profit to the point that change is occurring or will occur shortly. The employee is now picking up a much larger part of the cost but that is also unsustainable. Between Medicaid, Medicare and the uninsured, more than 50% of the population, the government (taxpayer) is footing the bill. The ACA is nothing but a stop gap measure. We have a National Welfare System and just do not realize it. We have to change our culture from the Gimme Society to one of responsible citizens.
    I have a daughter-in-law who is an ENT surgeon specializing in the voice box who puts in eight hours a day in a national hospital, 12 hours a week in private practice and a few weekends per month traveling the provinces of a Central American country doing surgeries at $100 a pop to live a fairly decent lifestyle. She does this cause she loves it as she has a calling. She looks at our system, she was trained here, smiles and says it cannot last.
    Change is happening but it needs to pick up speed or we will hit a wall. The Insurance industry has a big part in this change.

  83. oofda says:

    Again, my concern re Trump and Russian funding is that his businesses are utterly dependent upon it. Further, as noted below, “Trump’s inner circle is populated with advisers and operatives who have long careers advancing the interests of the Kremlin.” I don’t think that is a coincidence. Clinton, and yes, the Bushes, may have benefited from foreign funding for foundations and business interests, but not to the extent that Trump now depends upon it.
    One pro-Kremlin blogger summed up his government’s interest in this election with clarifying bluntness: “Trump will smash America as we know it, we’ve got nothing to lose.”

  84. rakesh wahi says:

    what would be Russia’s strategic interest in taking ove the Baltic states again? I get Ukraine and Crimea.

  85. ISL says:

    She’s capable of paying off the people who bought her and her husband and the Clinton Foundation. Do you argue the money has no strings and Goldman Sachs does not get an excellent ROI?

  86. LeaNder says:

    Had the treaty entanglements been subjected to debate, there wouldn’t have been a WWI and WWII?
    Is that what you are trying to say in the last paragraph?

  87. robt willmann says:

    Bill Herschel,
    What gave the game away about the “Affordable Care Act” (Obamacare) was the main sales point that “everyone” should have “health insurance”. The question is not whether people have health insurance; it is whether people can see a doctor, get into a hospital, and get medicine. The issue for a soldier is not whether he has “health insurance” in order to see a combat medic; it is his access to a combat medic, especially during combat.
    Obamacare is another example of the trend over at least the last 25 years to get a law passed that will use the coercive authority of the State to force you to pay money to a private company, or to let a private vendor provide the government service, etc. What has developed through private contracts to run many prisons in the U.S. is shocking.
    Concerning the ACA health care law, these two articles are useful to read. They mention how the tax credits or subsidies might have to be paid back to the government, and how people who end up in Medicaid under the ACA might have the property in their estates after they die (perhaps a house) taken by the government to reimburse some of the health care costs. The person who wrote them may work for the government or a company that has government contracts, because the author wanted to withhold his/her name. But they were published by Paul Craig Roberts, who was the Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for economic policy for a while during Ronald Reagan’s first term. The ACA defines what “modified adjusted gross income” (MAGI) is, along with other terms, regardless of what a person’s real “net income” is, etc.–
    Obamacare is designed so that health plan companies and drug companies make the same or more money than they were making at the time the law was passed.
    I agree that the source of financing for Trump’s business projects is a real issue. He brags about having properties or businesses overseas, too. Where did the money come from for those operations? Who else has an ownership interest in his existing businesses, domestic and foreign? Apparently the “traditional” financing for his early projects in the 1980’s in the form of bank loans had to be co-signed by his father, Fred Trump. Two biographies of Trump talk about the early financing a lot: “Trump, The Deals and the Downfall”, by Wayne Barrett (1992), and “Lost Tycoon”, by Harry Hurt III (1993).
    I do not know for sure, but I think that currently none of Trump’s businesses are publicly traded companies on a stock exchange.

  88. LeaNder says:

    OM, is interesting, but occasionally should be taken with a grain of salt. I somewhat doubt that any lawyer would accept “stealing” as the legally appropriate term in this context.
    Although i seem to recall the same time frame with its constant rumors about WMD matters being sold to the highest bidder by suffering, since not paid, scientists in the former USSR.

  89. The EU elites have damaged Europe beyond repair. Now they want to drag America into a war with Russia. Maybe they should stop wagging their tails in unison for Mr. Erdogen.

  90. jld says:

    Yup, darn French commies, and Canadians and Brits and… (ad libitum)
    Very simple explanation, health care (just as Police and Army!) SHALL NOT BE A “BUSINESS”

  91. Babak Makkinejad says:

    That generation of Russians to which Gorbachev belonged, they shared his ideals in their youth – in 1950s. They finally got their man in office who failed to maintain USSR trying to change the Stalinist system.
    By the way, you are quite right; the change in Romania was initiated from Moscow and Ceausescu was overthrown.

  92. MRW says:

    First, if you are insured in the US, you typically are enjoying “Cadillac” level benefits, whereas in France, or other single payer/socialized systems, you are getting the coverage equivalent of a Citroen econo model.
    That’s laughable. An Alberta Canada General Practitioner (GP) wrote a reference letter for his rich patient to be admitted to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester for cancer treatment. The Mayo wrote back that they would be happy to accept him; however, they wrote, the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton Alberta was one of the top five hospitals on the North American continent, and a top global cancer research institution. The Mayo told the GP to tell his patient that he would be receiving “the same or better care” at home and that the Mayo relies upon the Cross Cancer Institute’s for its ground-breaking thorough research.
    French medical care is renowned in Europe.

  93. MRW says:

    I have repeatedly said that I am in favor of single payer government care rather than subsidizing insurance companies.
    And it’s cheaper for everyone, except insurance company shareholders.

  94. Babak Makkinejad says:

    And boys, be in nothing so moderate as in love of man, a clever servant,insufferable master.
    There is the trap that catches noblest spirits, that caught – they say –God, when he walked on earth.

  95. MRW says:

    Reason why so many retirees lost their shirts in September 2008 if their banks went belly-up: they had more than $250,000 in their commercial bank retirement accounts.
    Had those funds been invested in 100% risk-free treasury securities instead, with their low interest rates (which took the appeal of treasuries away), they would still be whole.
    Bush or Obama (can’t remember which) raised the FDIC limit from $125,000 to $250,000 to reduce the pain after 9/2008, but anyone with more than $250,000+ in their commercial bank retirement bank account was shit out of luck…and destitute, for all intents and purposes. Congress could change this in a heartbeat. Congress could insure all bank accounts regardless of amount if the bank goes under. But the putzes we elect don’t have the smarts. Neither do the people electing them. They don’t know the difference between federal and commercial operations–nor the importance of knowing these differences–obviously.

  96. Thomas says:

    “It’s not that they are godless, they simply think that they themselves are god!”
    Yes they are, in the acronym world, Globalists Of Destruction.

  97. Old Microbiologist says:

    Government is in fact a charitable organization. There hasn’t been an accurate Audi of DOD since 9/11 and a very large amount of dollars have made into many people’s pockets. No one us looking and apparently anyone who is an obstacle to this greed is replaced quickly.

  98. Old Microbiologist says:

    I forgot to mention that these countries never had a bio weapons program in the rorst place. Rather, they had disease surveillance for diseases which are endemic for these regions including brucellosis, plague, tularemia, and anthrax. So, having programs to prevent “bio weapon” scientists from doing bad stuff was ridiculous in the first place. These are just ways to funnel money to foreign governments and Americans. Bechtel, was paid a lot of money to build new extremely modern BSL-3 laboratories which were even better than my US laboratory.

  99. Freudenschade says:

    Lots of interesting analysis of Trump’s foreign policy. Reminds me of the 1992 Kasparov vs Deep Blue match where an apparently sophisticated move threw the champion into a tizzy. Lots of ink was spilled over what turned out to be a garden variety bug in the code. Same here: the analysis is far more sophisticated than source material.

  100. Jack says:

    Since you’re in the healthcare business, you know that the US spends twice any western industrialized nation on a per capita basis on healthcare. And medical expenditures have risen at around 9% CAGR for decades and now is around 18% of our GDP (Double other western countries). Mathematically this is unsustainable as medical costs are doubling every 8-9 years. If we as a nation do one thing, that is bring our per capita medical expenditures to the same as Canada or Germany or Switzerland I think we would be in far better budgetary shape across federal, state and local governments.
    Two questions. 1) Who is making the big bucks? Clearly the healthcare providers in Canada have a good standard of living. 2) Can we cut in half our medical expenditures while providing the same outcomes as Germany? How?

  101. steve says:

    I run a medium sized medical group. Helped write some health policy for our (Republican) congressman. Yes, the ACA has issues. On the topic of subsidies I am not sure where this shakes out. That the insurance companies are asking of more money should not be surprising, I just cannot tell how much of it is valid. It is always easier to ask for more money than to actually try to compete and cut costs.
    What i do know is that I have been in the medical field in one way or another for a long time, well over 40 years. Largely as a result of the ACA, for the first time I see hospitals making serious attempts to cut costs, while also concentrating on quality like i have never seen before. It is actually requiring us to develop meaningful metrics, which we have never had to do before. For the first time, almost, we are actually doing that which is best for patients, or at least trying, rather than just doing what the insurers pay us to do. That alone has made the ACA valuable.
    But, full disclosure, I have always seen Obamacare as just the first step in needed reform. For those who see it as a complete reform, I can see why they would be very disappointed.

  102. Chris Chuba says:

    I think we need a few years with someone with a corporate vs. a Borg mentality in foreign affairs.
    Is a business, transactional mentality a perfect model? No, but it’s preferable to another Borg minion for the following reasons.
    1. A Borg gets emotionally offended when Russia or China acts unilaterally either local to their areas or in the M.E. as in Syria. This was expressed succinctly by Jeb when he said, ‘we kept the Russians out of the M.E. for 40yrs and it’s a tragedy that we are letting them back in’. Say what, so we are opposing the Russians just for the sake of opposing them?
    Trump, the corporatist, expects foreign countries to act in their own interests. So he doesn’t get mad at other countries, or assume that they are evil, he looks for rational motives and will objectively at how it impacts us. He has said on multiple occasions, ‘Don’t get mad at Russia and China for looking out for their interests, it is up to us to look out for ourselves’.
    3. A Borg lives in their own reality where they believe that we can have it all. A corporatist, like Trump realizes that we have a lack of resources and that we have to prioritize them. In response to Jeb, in the SC debate regarding Syria he said, ‘the problem is that we can’t fight everyone, we have to focus on ISIS, not the Russians and Assad’.
    About NATO, of course, we are obligated to go to war if Russia invades the Baltics. Perhaps I’m being generous with my interpretation of his statement but it looked like he was trying to change the subject. I am more concerned about HRC further antagonizing the Russians for no possible gain rather than Trump’s lack of willingness to go to war.
    BTW we don’t need to install new missile, air, and armored brigade bases in Latvia to deter a theoretical invasion. Letting the Russians know that we would attack all of their naval assets is something that we can and would be able to do and it would be a huge deterrent. It would deprive them of access to the Mediterranean, Atlantic, and Pacific and make their lives in the Black Sea very difficult. This nightmare scenario would only be in response to an invasion of a NATO member and it would not require this provocative buildup on their border.

  103. different clue says:

    She’s capable of doing a “Nixon goes to China” against Social Security, just as Obama was capable of it, and tried his best to do it.

  104. different clue says:

    I would like to see the health inSURance lamprey detached from the side of the health CARE lake trout.
    “Socialize the coverage and keep the practice private” like they do in Canada.

  105. VietnamVet says:

    Canada’s Globe and Mail has the best article I’ve read that connects all of the dots from Trump to Turkey:
    “the old world order has come unglued. Globalization led and regulated by the U.S. is now considered a failure. People around the world are seeking the safety of their tribes.”
    When Secretary Clinton says “America is already great”, I can’t help but think of the summer of 1914, the last time globalization peaked.

  106. pj says:

    How ironic. He spent time in Honduras, the country Hillary helped destroy by supporting a coup, subsequent fraudulent elections, and pressuring Latin American countries to recognize the government.

  107. Jack says:

    “When the economy is in the tank, you decrease taxes and/or INCREASE SPENDING.” Not necessarily. It depends on why the economy is in the tank. The economy went into the tank during the 1920-21 Depression as excess credit during the previous boom cycle got malinvested. The response then was to allow the credit losses to clear and the federal government cut taxes AND REDUCED SPENDING generating balanced budgets AND the federal reserve did not interfere and manipulate interest rates. The recovery in employment and median household incomes was swift.
    “You don’t understand macroeconomics.” Right! Only MRW is the economic seer and understands federal accounting . Everyone else including guys like Jim Grant who attracts some of the best investment minds to his conferences and has a successful, multi-decade franchise as a capital markets analyst are idiots according to the all knowing MRW.
    “Obama’s stimulus was far too small to produce an effective recovery. He didn’t spend enough.” Who is correct? MRW or Stan Druckenmiller, Paul Singer and Lacy Hunt. Who has made real money consistently investing capital by having better frameworks of how the economy and financial system actually work? And, now watch him cut & paste stuff that unless central planning commissars spend like drunken sailors we’ll be worse off than Sub-Saharan Africans.
    In all fairness MRW is in illustrious company with the likes of Nobel laureate Paul Krugman who has never met a government boondoggle he didn’t like. There are some who believe in the hammer of infinite government spending to nirvana and to them all economic and financial issues are nails. We’ll find out soon enough if these folks have finally discovered financial alchemy as Japan is well on that path. Their government debt was around 60% of GDP when their credit bubble blew up. Instead of following the approach of the US in 1920 they decided to paper over the losses with trillions in goverment spending building bridges to nowhere and other boondoggles. Now their government debt is 250% of GDP and rising, while both their GDP and median household incomes have stagnated for two decades. And the BoJ by conjuring new “money” out of thin air, now “owns” 30% of all outstanding JGBs and are a top 10 holder of 90% of the companies in the Nikkei 225 index. And, btw, JGBs out to 10 years have a negative yield to maturity – meaning anyone holding a Japanese government 10 year bond to maturity is guaranteed a capital loss. And folks believe we have functioning capital markets.

  108. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Putin, and indeed the Russian government, already has a true and tested template for waging war in the Baltic States.
    What she will do is that she will organize and arm local Russian populations – or a segment of them – and fracture and separate pieces of them; just like in Georgia or in Ukraine.
    All the while, the Russian Government would be maintaining that it has nothing to do with what is happening in the Baltic States; it is purely a domestic issue.
    Once new People’s Republics have been established, the Russian Federation will recognize them.
    Baltic states, in effect, will have been partially occupied by the Russian Federation without without her having invaded.
    What is NATO going to do, bomb parts of Tallinn – killing Russian civilians?

  109. Babak Makkinejad says:

    And I am supposed to believe those pushing Anthropogenic Global Warming?
    No way!

  110. Mark Logan says:

    different clue,
    I would be happy with the German system. We have an existing bureaucratic structure in the insurance industry we only need properly regulate it. Reduce the scope of competition to administrative efficiency and let free enterprise do what it does best.
    Art of the possible..?

  111. MRW says:

    (1) Capital markets are microeconomic operations, not macroeconomics. See a definition here:
    (2) The people you cite–Jim Grant, Stan Druckenmiller, Paul Singer, Lacy Hunt–operate in the microeconomic world. They, like you and me, and US states and local governments, have to earn USD to survive. They cannot create USD like the US federal government. (The US federal government issued $60.8 trillion US dollars in 2015.)
    (3) Paul Krugman is vastly over-rated. Has zero understanding of federal transactional accounting, admits it. Never learned it in school. I’m no fan.
    (4) Instead of following the approach of the US in 1920 they [Japan] decided to paper over the losses with trillions in goverment spending building bridges to nowhere and other boondoggles.
    • The US was under the gold standard in 1920, and a fixed exchange rate. And the federal government surpluses it subsequently ran from 1920-1930 created the Great Depression.
    • Neither Japan nor the US use the gold standard today. Update your understanding of how fiat currency works. We’ve been off it domestically since 1933. Both countries can pay for anything denominated in their own currency, unlike Greece which gave up its currency for a foreign currency (the Euro), which means foreign control.
    • [Japan] now “owns” 30% of all outstanding JGBs. The Japanese government created them in the first place, bub. “Owning” them is no different than Quantitative Easing.

  112. MRW says:


  113. Mark Logan says:

    The insured amount is still paid to those who had more than that. If having a quarter million in the bank is destitution..

  114. Eric Newhill says:

    Jack, the money gets spread all over. Insurance companies are making about a net 10% profit of the gross – I’m ballparking because I really cannot talk real numbers on a public forum. For every dollar paid in premium the insurance company keeps about 10 cents as profit. Another, say 8 cents, goes to people like me, etc. (i.e administrative costs). So 18% goes to the insurance company. BTW, the feds – CMS – is not cheaper in admin costs. That’s a myth. Much of Medicare and even Champis is administered through the private companies. We process the claims, structure and contract the provider networks. That the feds don’t have to do that b/c we do it for them makes them look less expensive to the uniformed.
    Thus something like 80 cent of every dollar paid in insurance premiums is going out the door to pay for actual medical costs (i.e. claims).
    Now someone will say that the insurance companies are taking too much. However, we ensure that contracts are reasonable; meaning that only a percent of billed charges are allowed and paid. We ensure that our members have a full network (all the specialist, etc that are required). We monitor and investigate fraud (which there is a lot of). We have care management programs to check in on high risk members and make sure they are accessing the right care and utilizing it. We earn that profit and, without us, the cost of healthcare would be considerably higher.
    Costs could be reduced 50% if tough decisions were to be made about what care would be delivered for whom and when, rationing.
    MRW – I didn’t say that socialized healthcare programs were a Citroen b/c the providers were no good. I said it is so b/c care is rationed. Cancer tx is top notch in Canada? Sure, but only to a point. Are you using expensive drugs off label to sustain life for a couple extra months? How about elective surgeries, like knee replacement for overweight people? In the US everyone is getting knees and hips replaced and at an increasingly early age. In Canada? I know you don’t.

  115. MRW says:

    Two people living off 250,000 for 20 years is $6,250 each/year. If they don’t have their mortgage paid off, they’ll be using the majority of that for housing.

  116. Poul says:

    I don’t buy the “USA is responsible” meme.
    China’s conduct of building artificial islands to enforce it’s claims is the root of the matter. Else all nations with a claim in the South China Sea could agree to accept an ruling from a tribunal in The Hague. It’s hard just to “talk” to someone who’s building an island for military installations. The Philippines can keep talking while China keep building.
    The question is what the US gains for doing the Philippine Navy’s job.
    One thing is to support the Philippines and a solution based of mutually agreed treaties, even if it requires trade sanction. Another thing is to use billions of tax dollars and risk a armed conflict with China.

  117. Jack says:

    If you did an analysis of per capita medical expenditures in any western country and the US,where are we spending more to get double the total costs everywhere else?

  118. Swerv21 says:

    Empty worthless places? Harsh.
    Have you ever been to the baltics?

  119. Jack says:

    You did not address the core issues. It’s always misdirection.
    “Jim Grant, Stan Druckenmiller, Paul Singer, Lacy Hunt–operate in the microeconomic world.” That is irrelevant. The point was comparing your framework to theirs. Druckenmiller and Hunt are macro investors. Hunt is a macroeconomics Ph.D but a practioner not an academic. They have become billionaires applying their framework of how the macro economy and financial system work. Are you a billionaire or an Internet jockey? Don’t grab at straws!
    “Paul Krugman…..Has zero understanding of federal transactional accounting,” And you’re an expert? Give me a break!
    “countries can pay for anything denominated in their own currency”. Sure they can. Until the people think it’s not even worth toilet paper. Zimbabwe got to a quadrillion dollar bill before people gave up. The socialist paradise of Venezuela is getting there soon enough. Even our Continental dollar went the way of the dodo bird through over issuance.
    ““Owning” them is no different than Quantitative Easing.” That’s exactly what it is. Whatever its called, printing money can only continue as long as there is confidence. sooner or later they’re gonna come up with the issue of confidence in their monetary management.
    “the federal government surpluses it subsequently ran from 1920-1930 created the Great Depression.” Ok, expert, let’s see your equation that relates government surpluses to temporal relationships and rate of change of GDP and median income? Stop being daft!
    You can argue your case that government spending to infinity is the panacea to financial prosperity. But don’t claim that those that don’t agree with your faith-based theory are idiots when they are respected among their peers and have proven success in investing capital in the real world. What have you really accomplished in the real world with your hare-brained theories?

  120. Old Microbiologist says:

    LeaNder, I am referring to projects funded to conduct research into endemic zoonotic diseases so as to keep bio weapon scientists from doing bad things. In Kazakhstan, Tjikistan, Kyrgystan, and Uzbekistan they never ever did this work in the first place. They did have a lab in Kazakhstan and when we got the samples after years of paying, they were old and useless. The theft I am referring to is kickbacks to government workers from these same foreign governments to ensure a never ending funding for projects that essentially do nothing. The personnel there are already disease specialists running a very effective and long standing program of disease surveillance. These are public health physicians and veterinarians who treat and diagnose these disease on a daily basis. It has nothing at all to do with bioweapons. It is nice to fund already functional and effective programs BUT this was not what the Nunn-Lugar Act was intended for. It has become a DoS money laundering scheme to fund agencies inside these FSU countries to funnel money to beaurocrats. This is all under the guise of keeping America safe yet we built them labs which would be wonderful to use to make bioweapons and all without oversight of any kind.
    I can expand on this at length. The labs we built in Georgia are ridiculously expensive and basically doing the same old thing except now using US dollars. Now we are building (built) three bioweapons research facilities in Ukraine. Yes, it is mostly for disease surveillance but that could easily be done by shipping samples to US labs instead of building $500 million dollar facilities. What I am trying to show is this is a program under loose if any controls doing useless things for a great deal of money and making a lot of people very rich in the process. This is going on at all levels inside the US government.

  121. LondonBob says:

    As I understand it, rightly or not, the US kept Japan, SK etc. in their/our camp by promising these nations unrestricted access to US markets. Now perhaps in the circumstances of the Cold War this made sense, however it certainly doesn’t now. Not only does the US taxpayer losing having to fund the stationing of troops abroad but they also lose by gutting their domestic industries. Lose/lose with only the rent seeking MIC benefiting.
    Trump is right regarding China, it is a trade not a shooting war.

  122. Eric Newhill says:

    Jack, My shop has done that analysis, many times. We’ve strayed pretty far off topic. Out of respect for our host, why don’t you remind me on an open thread. A book could be written about cost saving opportunities.
    Thx for your interest. Some people here are thinking about health care delivery as Clinton and cronies are thinking about war with Russia.
    It is the physicians that oppose single payer. Thy recently put the DOJ on us b/c of a merger deal with another large payer. The physicians dread a unified system where their reimbursements and the all the new toy acquisitions would be truncated – and where they would have to conform to standards of practice.

  123. Warpig says:

    I rarely comment but I feel an extreme need to break radio silence to ask: How in the world can you listen to this auto-tuned crap? I thought we Americans had the market in bad pop music, but somehow the Russians have truly weaponized it.

  124. elkern says:

    US DOD is a bottomless slop-trough, therefore tens of thousands of scientists in scores of different countries have conspired to manufacture a hoax, in order to… get money from agencies like NASA & NOAA? Please fill in the gaps in your “logic” for me.
    I know you can do better than…
    – Some scientists are venal
    – Climate scientists are scientists
    – therefore All Climate scientists are corrupt
    And why would any “scientist” who’s more interested in money than knowledge go into Climate science, when the big money is in Geology (petro$) or whatever DOD pays for?

  125. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I think they do not comprehend the idea of a Sovereign Currency either.

  126. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Is that why they were suppressing contrarian papers?
    Because of their commitment to Truth?
    There was another group that removed Aarp’s access to telescope time, because he had become a heretical dissenter from scientific orthodoxy.
    Sorry, but I have seen too many of these.

  127. Jack,
    As you probably know, there are some very interesting people, associated with a central institution of the post-1945 global international economic order, who have spent the last twenty years in an – so far unavailing – attempt to fight the Greenspan-Bernanke-Yellen-Stanley Fischer orthodoxy.
    Economists at the Bank for International Settlements, from very early on, had an ‘Austrian’ scepticism about the dangers of easy money policies. And this was, emphatically, not related to any identification with what are sometimes called the global ‘1%’.
    Among a mass of material on the website of the former BIS Economic Adviser William White, who now chairs the Economic and Development Review Committee at the OECD, is a recent article by Klaus C. Engelen, entitled the ‘Lean or Clean Controversy.’
    (See .)
    A point about White’s frequently reiterated gloomy view of where all of this may lead is that he has long argued that the ‘endgame’ of a series of crises caused by excessively easy monetary policy could be either deflationary or inflationary – and there might be no means of knowing which it would be until very late in the day.
    And this view is related to a belief that the economics profession as a whole has yet adequately to face up to the fact that they are dealing with what are called ‘non-linear’ systems. Among the things ‘non-linear’ means is that, particularly at key turning points, there is no reason why large changes in some variables require anything more than trivial changes in others.
    From a February 2016 update of a piece by White entitled ‘False beliefs and unhappy endings’:
    ‘One approach with promise is to think of the economy not as a machine, but as “a complex adaptive system” with millions of interactive and adaptive agents following simple behavioural rules. Such systems characterise car traffic, movements of crowds, the spread of crime and disease, social networks, etc. These kinds of systems are everywhere in both nature and society, and exhibit recurrent instability and highly nonlinear outcomes. Does it make sense to assume that the economy, with all its flows and myriad interactions, should almost uniquely fail to exhibit these traits?
    ‘Clearly not. In fact, complex adaptive systems share key properties that have been well studied by other disciplines and could inform economic policy makers. First, they regularly break down, so be prepared. Second, the particular cause is irrelevant, so focus on systemic instability. Third, we lack the knowledge to optimise, so focus on avoiding truly bad outcomes. Fourth, the system is adaptive, so move forward and avoid the temptation of fighting the last war. In sum, policy makers should be much more humble in their aspirations.’
    This is a – devastating – indictment of the parochialism and intellectual arrogance characteristic of so much of the modern academic economics profession. And, of course, there is an overlap with the arguments of Ben Hunt about changing ‘narratives’ to which you referred in an earlier comment.
    Although this is one of the – many – subjects where my knowledge is extreme sketchy, I was also struck by an overlap with discussions of Clausewitz I came across on the site. An interesting feature of these was to see how some rather interesting contemporary academics saw ‘On War’ as having anticipating much later intellectual developments in a variety of disciplines.
    So I discovered that Alan D. Beyerchen had argued that a central feature of ‘On War’ had to do with its authors very deep understanding of war as a ‘non-linear’ phenomenon – which suggests an overlap with William White’s writings.
    This argument by Beyerchen was in turn related to that of an article by Jon Sumida.
    (For their articles, see ; .)
    Putting the two analyses together, Sumida was suggesting that a key problem for Clausewitz was how to prepare people to handle supreme command, in dealing with such a ‘non-linear’ phenomenon as war, where the conditions under which decisions have to be made are extreme and unfamiliar to anyone who has not experienced them.
    How does someone like Clausewitz – who had lived through Napoleon’s destruction of his native country, and also the Russian destruction of Napoleon, and wrecked his health in the process – prepare young German officers, growing up in a period of peace, for high command in possible future wars?
    According to Sumida – if I understand him right – the answer Clausewitz gave was a mixture of theory and history studied in the right way. And he argued that ‘On War’ actually anticipates the notions of the twentieth-century British philosopher-historian R.G. Collingwood on historical understanding as ‘re-enactment’ of the thoughts of historical actors.
    And Clausewitz can be further elucidated, Sumida argued, by bringing in modern developments in ‘cognitive science’. So he made extensive use of a 1997 summary of recent research by another British scholar, Guy Claxton, provocatively entitled ‘Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind: How Intelligence Increases When You Think Less.’
    This research focuses on the extent to which the mind processes information in unconscious ways, leading to interesting conclusions about the importance of ‘educated intuition’ and how it can be developed.
    If then one puts these analyses of Clausewitz and the arguments of William White together, we may end up with an interesting, and not very comforting, line of thought.
    The direction in which it leads is towards the conclusion that contemporary Western generals and central bankers have something in common: that their intellectual preparation is peculiarly ill-fitted to preparing them to handle the problems with which they have to deal.

  128. Sam Peralta says:

    You find people that comment on several blogs who use the arguments of the fringe Modern Monetary Theory. Their core message is that wealth comes from government spending. Which if taken to its logical endpoint would imply no one need work as the government sends everyone a check. Since that is contrary to common sense and human experience, they become pretzels attempting to square that. It is a waste of time having any discussion with them as their belief is cult like.

  129. MRW says:

    Agree. Nor do they comprehend that countries with a sovereign non-convertible currency–meaning not convertible into something you dig out of the ground–with a floating exchange rate do not require taxes for revenue.
    Fed Chairman Beardsley Ruml reminded the world after the war, but by the 1970s that was all forgotten.

  130. Mark Logan says:

    The definition of words inevitably changes across cultures. I have seen people drop to their knees to give a prayer of thankfulness for a half sack of flour and a jug of cooking oil. We are separated by an abyss.

  131. MRW says:

    I agree 100%, Mark, but the costs of living are different, and it’s relative. I wasn’t writing a treatise on world poverty, just commenting on the one that former middle- and lower-class people are experiencing now here in this country, exacerbated by the globalization bullshit.
    The cost of that jug of oil in the US–the most utilitarian oil, not something artisanal–costs three, possibly six, times the cost of a third-world daily labor salary.

  132. Mark Logan says:

    The median size of the retirement accounts of the boomers is about $60k. What the lower to mid level workers are experiencing will not be affected by raising the federal insurance levels on bank accounts from their current levels. The next generation is projected to have even less. Only a small percentage of the population would be served by raising them.

  133. Tunde says:

    So Chirac was right in asking for a multi polar world ? Interestingly he was pilloried by the same political branch that nominated Trump.
    I have zero confidence Trump will be an agent of change SSTers believe. Politicians lie. Trump has become a politician. Trump will lie. The next election after this one will present starker choices.
    HRC is an intellectual bully with poor judgement. Trump is all guts and no judgement. Whoever wins will hurt a lot of people’s feelings. tbh I hope no of them win. To paraphrase an Ecudorean, “Hillary is cancer, Trump is AIDS”, but that’s America’s choice.

  134. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg says:

    This is an important clarification. There’s a trope popular amongst many that ingrateful furriners we saved from Hitler and Tojo and the Commies booted us out and refused our noble efforts to defend them and now they come cryin to their Uncle Sam. The truth is always way more complicated and situational. The Germans don’t need or really want our ‘protection’, but areas that host all those bases have come to depend on them the same way American communities around places like, say Camp Pendleton or Cherry Point NAS or take your pick depend on their role as service communities with Congress-Critters to defend it all. Remember the crap-storm around closing Homestead Airforce Base? You’d have thought civilization was striking an iceberg.

  135. Jack says:

    In the summer of 2007 I was at a banking conference in NYC where Bill White spoke. He made a case that the banking system was highly unstable, observing that banks were funding themselves in short term markets but making bets on complex instruments under the assumption that they were highly liquid. He noted that there were no objective ways to know how much liquidity would be available for these highly leveraged instruments when sentiment turns. He also said he disagreed with Greenspan/Bernanke that improvements in technology had now allowed these “sophisticated” banks to manage and offset risks. His noted that risk once taken exists and while they could be offset the complexities of these instruments were such that they only parties taking on the risks would be highly leveraged financial entities who would naturally want to reduce their risks when their bets went south. He forecast that liquidity would evaporate on several of these shadow markets. His warning was prescient.
    At the same conference I attended a panel discussion that had Chuck Prince from Citi, Jamie Dimon from JPM, Lloyd Blankfein from Goldman Sachs and couple of big hedge fund managers. They were salivating at the “profits” they were making and how securitization and ABS markets were only going to get bigger as every income stream would be securitized. They even were lauding themselves on how all this had a social purpose as even the low income worker could achieve the “American Dream” of home ownership. Neither the panelists nor the moderator discussed any of the issues relating to leverage, liquidity and duration mismatches. There was no discussion of balance sheets only the income statement.
    We know how that movie ended!
    We’re in the same movie again as leverage continues to grow. Bill White again earlier this year once again warning that policy makers are deluded.
    I think it is important to read two MIT economists Charles Kindleberger and Rudi Dornbusch. Kindleberger studied manias and panics and in particular the behavior of human participants in those episodes and how emotionalism dominates. Dornbusch studied currency crises. His famous quote was “In economics, things take longer to happen than you think they will, and then they happen faster than you thought they could.”
    This brings up non-linearity and adaptive systems that you raise. I think it is actually even worse, as human emotionality is so volatile that it is extremely difficult to model if it can be. Behavioral science is trying to inject mathematics to attempt to model behavior of large groups. While they may get to model the majority of cases it will be difficult to build accurate predictive models as modeling is primarily looking at the past. This was the error Bernanke made as his models did not have a case where house prices declined on a national aggregate basis and he argued that it would not happen since it has never done so in the past. Bill White on the other hand used common sense to know that as leveraged financial institutions took larger and larger credit risks the quality of the risk would naturally deteriorate. There are only so many prime quality risks. And second as more leverage is deployed even a small reduction in asset value would destroy the thin sliver of equity backing those risks.
    I am glad you bring up Clausewitz. In my belief while battle plans change on contact with the enemy and they can be chaotic and require improvisation on the battlefield, IMO, we are dealing with a microcosm of trained actors participating in an activity they have practiced many times. OTOH, manias and panics in finance are wholesale behavioral changes of many actors who have no particular knowledge or expertise on the activity. This makes it very vulnerable to herding.
    Getting back to the current environment, what I fail to see is any discussion of what is “money”, when central banks can create it out of thin air and buy real assets. So, what is the meaning of Apple’s stock price when the SNB “owns” 15 million shares; or the meaning of the value of all the companies in the Nikkei 225 index when the BoJ is a top 10 holder of 90% of the companies in that index; or the implications of when the ECB buys corporate bonds of companies who then use the proceeds to buyback their stock or another company? Are we going to get to the point that the central bank “owns” all the laundries and the corner grocery stores in all our neighborhoods; or that governments spend lets say 100x what they spend today and its all financed ex nihilo? This is the path we’re on and the current groupthink of the economic and financial elite and cheerleading of the media elites like Paul Krugman, Martin Wolf, Ben Bernanke and many in the Davos crowd seems like this is all going to be great. But, the reality on main street is different. Median real household incomes in the US has stagnated for years, labor participation rates keep falling and so does money velocity. The number of people on food stamps and on disability keeps growing as a percent of our population. Wealth inequality keeps growing. 8 years into a recovery and we are barely above 1% growth in GDP over the past 12 months. Japan has stagnated for decades even with government spending on all sorts of boondoggles every year financed by the BoJ who now own 30% of all JGBs outstanding. Any person who applies common sense who looks at this would have to come to the conclusion that this is a crazy path we’re on and generations in the future will look back at this period and say “what were they thinking”.

  136. Jack says:

    Yes, indeed the logical endpoint is that the government and the central bank owns all assets. I was always under the impression that is communism. But in the current discourse where up is down it is claimed we have found the perpetual wealth machine and we can all hang out on the beach and drink Don Perignon. Oh, but who would make it since they’ll be at the beach too!

  137. Sam Peralta says:

    Bastiat’s Broken Window Fallacy comes to mind.

  138. Sam Peralta says:

    There will be a big shock next year when premium rise dramatically. United Healthcare has pulled out of many exchanges.

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