Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #828 Miscellaneous Articles and Updates

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash dri­ve that can be obtained here. The new dri­ve is a 32-giga­byte dri­ve that is cur­rent as of the pro­grams and arti­cles post­ed by 12/19/2014. The new dri­ve (avail­able for a tax-deductible con­tri­bu­tion of $65.00 or more) con­tains FTR #827.  (The pre­vi­ous flash dri­ve was cur­rent through the end of May of 2012 and con­tained FTR #748.)

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This pro­gram was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment.

Lee Har­vey Oswald

Intro­duc­tion: As a new year begins, we bring some sto­ries up to date, intro­duce some oth­ers and reflect on the year gone by and the times to come.

Late last year, Pres­i­dent Oba­ma nor­mal­ized diplo­mat­ic rela­tions with Cuba. More than half a cen­tu­ry ago, Pres­i­dent Kennedy attempt­ed to do the same thing–this at the height of the Cold War. It was one of the fac­tors that led to his death. The broad­cast opens with dis­cus­sion of JFK’s ill-fat­ed attempts at de-esca­lat­ing the Cold War.

Gen­er­al Fran­cis­co Fran­co and Men­tor

Updat­ing infor­ma­tion pre­sent­ed in FTR #825, we note that Mar­i­ano Rajoy’s gov­ern­ment has–to a con­sid­er­able extent–crim­i­nal­ized polit­i­cal dis­sent in Spain. Rajoy’s Pop­u­lar Par­ty might very well be termed a “kinder, gen­tler” Falange. (The Falange was the fas­cist polit­i­cal par­ty of Fran­cis­co Fran­co.)

Ustachi with vic­tim

Fas­cist revan­chist pol­i­cy is man­i­fest­ing itself in Croa­t­ia as well. Birthed in the Balka­ns wars, the Croa­t­ian repub­lic is among those NATO and EU coun­tries that had its gen­e­sis in the World War II pol­i­tics of the bru­tal Ustachi regime. The mur­der­ous World War II leader Ante Pavel­ic was com­mem­o­rat­ed in a mass in Zagreb, the cap­i­tal of the “new” Croa­t­ia.

As the Hol­i­day sea­son recedes in the rear view mir­ror, we note that reac­tionary icon Ayn Rand helped with an inves­ti­ga­tion of the Christ­mas cin­e­mat­ic sta­ple It’s a Won­der­ful Life. Seen by some as  “cryp­to-Com­mu­nist” tract, the film is crit­i­cal of some aspects of the finan­cial industry–enough to put it in the inves­tiga­tive crosshairs of the GOP right. This is indica­tive of the mind­set of many in the gov­ern­ing elites of our coun­try.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Paul Ryan, Mitt Rom­ney’s run­ning mate in 2012, has stat­ed that “we are liv­ing in an Ayn Rand nov­el.” He is wrong, of course, but his atti­tude exem­pli­fies the men­tal­i­ty of the GOP-dom­i­nat­ed Con­gress. That Con­gress is embrac­ing “dynam­ic scor­ing” by reject­ing the cur­rent head of the Con­gres­sion­al Bud­get Office. To make a long sto­ry short, this will empow­er an utter­ly fan­tas­tic and fraud­u­lent inter­pre­ta­tion of eco­nom­ic data, rein­forc­ing the aus­ter­i­ty dog­ma advo­cat­ed by the GOP.

Anthrax spores

Although the 2001 anthrax attacks have reced­ed into his­tor­i­cal mem­o­ry, new infor­ma­tion con­tin­ues to sur­face cast­ing doubt on the offi­cial “long nut” the­o­ry which pinned respon­si­bil­i­ty for the attacks on Bruce Ivins.

The pro­gram con­cludes with a look at a dire pre­dic­tion by the­o­ret­i­cal physi­cist Stephen Hawk­ing, that echoes Mr. Emory’s rumi­na­tions con­cern­ing the poten­tial dan­gers of arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence.

Pro­gram High­lights Include: Paul Krug­man’s assess­ment of glob­al elite eco­nom­ic poli­cies, not­ing the effects sim­i­lar to those embraced by their coun­ter­parts in the 1930’s, when eco­nom­ic depri­va­tion drove many into the arms of fas­cist dic­ta­tors; the high-tech char­ac­ter­is­tics of the anthrax spores used in the 2001 attacks, indi­cat­ing a lev­el of tech­no­log­i­cal sophis­ti­ca­tion that would like­ly be unavail­able to a sin­gle indi­vid­ual; review of Mar­i­ano Rajoy’s jin­go­is­tic poli­cies, pur­sued in the wake of Span­ish eco­nom­ic depri­va­tion; review of the restora­tion of neo-Ustachi ele­ments in Croa­t­ia fol­low­ing the Balka­ns wars; indi­ca­tions that CIA-linked anti-Cas­tro Cubans had learned of JFK’s attempts at nor­mal­iz­ing rela­tions with Cuba.

1. One of the big­ger inter­na­tion­al news sto­ries of 2014 was Barack Oba­ma’s nor­mal­iza­tion of diplo­mat­ic rela­tions with Cuba. When Pres­i­dent Kennedy tried to do this in 1963–at the height of the Cold War–he was mur­dered (in part) for his efforts. The mate­r­i­al pre­sent­ed here is from AFA #12, side d. The text excerpts are from the book Con­spir­a­cy by Antho­ny Sum­mers.

2.We have an estab­lished his­to­ry of blam­ing major events involv­ing con­spir­a­to­r­i­al process on “lone nuts.” That appears to have been the case in the inves­ti­ga­tion of the 2001 anthrax attacks.

The GAO just released its assess­ment of the Bruce Ivins inves­ti­ga­tion: it appears that the Ivins may not have been the “lone nut” we were told he was. The anthrax spores showed signs of sophis­ti­cat­ed devel­op­ment.

“Inquiry in Anthrax Mail­ings Had Gaps, Report Says” by William J. BroadThe New York Times; 12/19/2014.

A con­gres­sional inquiry into the F.B.I.’s sci­en­tific work on the anthrax mail­ings of 2001 has iden­ti­fied major gaps in genet­ic evi­dence that pur­port­edly links the germs to Bruce E. Ivins, the Army micro­bi­ol­o­gist blamed for attacks that killed five peo­ple, sick­ened 17 oth­ers and shook the nation.

The Gov­ern­ment Account­abil­ity Office study, request­ed in 2010 and made pub­lic on Fri­day, echoes ear­lier crit­i­cism from the Nation­al Acad­emy of Sci­ences. In 2011, its expert pan­el found that the bureau’s analy­sis of the genet­ic evi­dence “did not defin­i­tively demon­strate” a firm link between the mailed anthrax spores and a sam­ple tak­en from Dr. Ivins’s lab­o­ra­tory at Fort Det­rick in Mary­land, and more gen­er­ally was “not as con­clu­sive” as the bureau had assert­ed.

The G.A.O. had bet­ter access to F.B.I. records and deep­ened the genet­ic cri­tique, find­ing that the bureau’s inves­ti­ga­tion “lacked sev­eral impor­tant char­ac­ter­is­tics” that could have strength­ened its case. “A key sci­en­tific gap,” the 77-page report said, was the bureau’s fail­ure to inves­ti­gate whether sam­ples of anthrax spores could nat­u­rally mutate enough to obscure their puta­tive links to Dr. Ivins.

In 2008, short­ly after he killed him­self, the bureau laid out a sweep­ing but cir­cum­stan­tial case against Dr. Ivins, an Army micro­bi­ol­o­gist, say­ing he had act­ed alone in con­duct­ing the nation’s first major bioter­ror­ist attack. It called the case Amerithrax and said that unique muta­tions in the anthrax spores had helped put Dr. Ivins under the spot­light.

In an inter­view, Tim­o­thy M. Per­sons, the G.A.O.’s chief sci­en­tist, cred­ited the bureau with work­ing hard to cor­rect some of its sci­ence defi­cien­cies but said its evi­dence fell short in the anthrax case, which was offi­cially closed in 2010. “They need­ed bet­ter sci­ence and mea­sure­ment in order to be more con­clu­sive,” he said. “It sounds nit­picky, but that’s impor­tant in build­ing up the sci­en­tific evi­dence for an impor­tant case.”

The bureau said it agreed with the G.A.O.’s advice on improv­ing its foren­sic sci­ence.

...

The dead­ly wisps of anthrax, com­ing just after the Sep­tem­ber attacks, set off new waves of pan­ic. Over the years, a grow­ing num­ber of out­side expertshave asked whether fed­eral inves­ti­ga­tors got the right man and whether the F.B.I.’s long inquiry brushed aside impor­tant clues.

To the regret of inde­pen­dent sci­en­tists, the report made no men­tion of an issue beyond genet­ics: whether the spores dis­played signs of advanced man­u­fac­tur­ing. They have point­ed to dis­tinc­tive chem­i­cals found in the dried anthrax spores that they say con­tra­dict F.B.I. claims that the germs were unso­phis­ti­cat­ed.

Evi­dence of spe­cial coat­ings, they say, sug­gests that Dr. Ivins had help in obtain­ing his germ weapons or was inno­cent.

Mar­tin E. Hugh-Jones, an author­ity on anthrax at Louisiana State Uni­ver­sity, said the report was dis­ap­point­ing.

3. Sup­ple­ment­ing FTR #825, we note the Rajoy regime’s active crim­i­nal­iz­ing of dis­sent, echo­ing the poli­cies of Fran­cis­co Fran­co, whose fas­cist dic­ta­tor­ship spawned the “kinder, gen­tler” Falange embod­ied in the PP.

“Span­ish Gov­ern­ment Strips Away Protest­ing Rights” by Kevin Math­ews; Truthout; 12/23/2014.

What’s a gov­ern­ment to do when the peo­ple take to the street to protest the way the coun­try is being run? A sen­si­ble gov­ern­ment would change poli­cies to appease the peo­ple it is com­mit­ted to serv­ing. Alter­nately, a gov­ern­ment could take Spain’s cur­rent approach, which is to start fin­ing and arrest­ing peo­ple for protest­ing in the first place. Yes, that will solve the prob­lem!

Spain is show­ing signs of fas­cism with its new anti-protest leg­is­la­tion nick­named the “Gag Law.” This past week, Spain’s low­er par­lia­ment okayed the law, push­ing it much clos­er to real­ity. Among the restric­tionscement­ed by the law, pun­ish­able by a $700–37,000 fine:

* Hold­ing a protest with­out obtain­ing a per­mit from the gov­ern­ment first.
* Protest­ing the day before an elec­tion.
* Insult­ing a police offi­cer.
* Burn­ing a flag.
* Photographing/filming police offi­cers and shar­ing said photos/videos.
* Protest­ing at a bank.
* Block­ing a home fore­clo­sure
* Assem­bling near a leg­isla­tive build­ing
* Wear­ing hoods or masks, as they pre­vent author­i­ties from iden­ti­fy­ing you.

That’s not all. Even peace­ful protests can be shut down if police fear that the protest could at some point “turn dis­or­derly” (left to the police’s dis­cre­tion, obvi­ously.) Oh, and don’t even think about appeal­ing these fines in court. Peo­ple who appeal these fines will be made to pay the court costs.

A quar­ter of Spain’s pop­u­la­tion is unem­ployed, with half of the nation’s young adults lack­ing a job. By upping the finan­cial reper­cus­sions for protest­ing, the gov­ern­ment knows it can scare away peo­ple who can’t afford to pay these tick­ets.

Prime Min­is­ter Mar­i­ano Rajoy has pre­tended that this law is meant to “pro­tect” the cit­i­zens. “One of the oblig­a­tions of the gov­ern­ment is to guar­an­tee the lib­erty and secu­rity of all of its cit­i­zens,” Rajoy said, despite actu­ally tak­ing active steps to strip Spaniards of their lib­er­ties.

The good news is that the peo­ple of Spain aren’t tak­ing the news in stride. This past week, tens of thou­sands of peo­ple in more than 30 cities gath­ered to speak out against this attack on free speech rights. They might as well take advan­tage of their abil­ity to protest before it’s made ille­gal, eh?

4. A Catholic Mass was cel­e­brat­ed in the Croa­t­ian capi­tol of Zagreb in hon­or of the Ustacha leader Ante Pavel­ic.

“Nazi-Hunters Con­demn Mass for World War II Croa­t­ia Leader” [Agence France Presse]; Glob­al Post; 12/29/2014.

The Nazi-hunt­ing Simon Wiesen­thal Cen­tre slammed Mon­day a Mass in Zagreb to com­mem­o­rate Croa­t­i­a’s World War II pro-Nazi leader, claim­ing it was a “badge of shame” for the Catholic Church.

“It’s hard to believe that in the cen­tre of the cap­i­tal of a mem­ber of the Euro­pean Union, very close to Zagre­b’s Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty, hun­dreds of peo­ple gath­ered yes­ter­day to com­mem­o­rate the mem­o­ry of one of Europe’s biggest mass mur­der­ers,” the head of the cen­tre’s Jerusalem office said in a state­ment.

Efraim Zuroff labelled the ser­vice mark­ing the 55rd anniver­sary of Ante Pavelic’s death an “insult to the mem­o­ry of Pavelic’s hun­dreds of thou­sands of inno­cent vic­tims”, and a “badge of shame for the Catholic Church”.

Mass­es on the anniver­sary of Pavelic’s death are reg­u­lar­ly held in a basil­i­ca in down­town Zagreb and in Split, on the Adri­at­ic coast.

Pavel­ic head­ed a Nazi-allied Croat state from 1941 to 1945.

He died in Madrid on Decem­ber 28, 1959, report­ed­ly from wounds inflict­ed in an attack on him two years ear­li­er in Buenos Aires, where he had fled after the Axis defeat in 1945.

Pavelic’s World War II Ustasha regime killed hun­dreds of thou­sands of Serbs, Jews, Roma and anti-fas­cist Croa­t­ians in con­cen­tra­tion camps.

Almost 90 per­cent of Croa­t­i­a’s pop­u­la­tion of 4.2 mil­lion are Roman Catholics.

The for­mer Yugoslav repub­lic joined the EU last year.

5. Award-win­ning econ­o­mist and New York Times colum­nist Paul Krug­man notes that the poli­cies being pur­sued by the world’s glob­al elites are pro­duc­ing polit­i­cal dynam­ics sim­i­lar to those of the 1930’s, when eco­nom­ic hard­ship drove many into the arms of fas­cists.

“Twin Peaks Plan­et” by Paul Krug­man; The New York Times; 1/02/2015.

. . . . Else­where, how­ev­er, we see the rise of nation­al­ist, anti-immi­grant par­ties like France’s Nation­al Front and the U.K. Inde­pen­dence Par­ty, or UKIP, in Britain — and there are even worse peo­ple wait­ing in the wings.

All of this sug­gests some uncom­fort­able his­tor­i­cal analo­gies. Remem­ber, this is the sec­ond time we’ve had a glob­al finan­cial cri­sis fol­lowed by a pro­longed world­wide slump. Then, as now, any effec­tive response to the cri­sis was blocked by elite demands for bal­anced bud­gets and sta­ble cur­ren­cies. And the even­tu­al result was to deliv­er pow­er into the hands of peo­ple who were, shall we say, not very nice.

I’m not sug­gest­ing that we’re on the verge of ful­ly replay­ing the 1930s. But I would argue that polit­i­cal and opin­ion lead­ers need to face up to the real­i­ty that our cur­rent glob­al set­up isn’t work­ing for every­one. It’s great for the elite and has done a lot of good for emerg­ing nations, but that val­ley of despond is very real. And bad things will hap­pen if we don’t do some­thing about it.

6. With the hol­i­day sea­son now fad­ing from view for anoth­er year, we chris­ten it with our own unique brand of cham­pagne. NB: GOP Pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Rand Paul was named for Ayn Rand. Paul is being pro­mot­ed by good ol’ Ralph Nad­er, no doubt seek­ing to out­do his de fac­to efforts on behalf of George W. Bush in 2000.

“Ayn Rand Helped the FBI Inves­ti­gate Whether ‘It’s a Won­der­ful Life’ Was Com­mie Pro­pa­ganda” by Michael Win­ship, Moy­ers & Com­pany; Raw Sto­ry; 12/23/2014.

 A num­ber of years ago, I was telling a long­time city dweller friend of mine yet anoth­er sto­ry about the small, upstate New York town in which I grew up.

Simul­ta­ne­ously baf­fled and cap­ti­vated, he said, “I think you were born and raised in Bed­ford Falls,” the fic­tional burg at the cen­ter of Frank Capra’s clas­sic Christ­mas movie, “It’s a Won­der­ful Life.”

Well, I wasn’t. Actu­ally, I grew up about 27 miles west of there. Its real name is Seneca Falls, NY – yes, the same place that’s also the birth­place of the women’s suf­frage move­ment. While not absolute­ly cer­tain, there’s a com­pelling body of cir­cum­stan­tial evi­dence that Capra had the town in mind when he cre­ated his cin­e­matic ver­sion of Bed­ford Falls. The steel bridge over the canal, for exam­ple, like the one from which the hero George Bai­ley con­tem­plates jump­ing in a sui­cide attempt, only to dive in to save his guardian angel, Clarence. The old Vic­to­rian homes, the design of town streets, a large Ital­ian pop­u­la­tion, men­tions of near­by cities Rochester, Buf­falo and Elmi­ra are just a few of the oth­er sim­i­lar­i­ties. There’s even the per­haps apoc­ryphal tale of Frank Capra find­ing inspi­ra­tion after stop­ping in Seneca Falls for a hair­cut on his way to vis­it an aunt.

Enough coin­ci­dences abound that Seneca Falls now holds a year­ly “It’s a Won­der­ful Life” fes­ti­val, and although it may not draw as many vis­i­tors as the near­by Women’s Rights Nation­al His­tor­i­cal Park, there’s also an “It’s a Won­der­ful Life” muse­um. What­ever the ulti­mate truth, there’s no deny­ing that the movie is a sto­ry­book evo­ca­tion of bygone small town Amer­ica, places like Seneca Falls and my own home­town, right down to the under­side of greed and mal­ice that often lurks just around the cor­ner from the film’s com­pas­sion and whole­some neigh­bor­li­ness. As for Frank Capra, as he pre­pared to make the movie, he told the­Los Ange­les Times, “There are just two things that are impor­tant. One is to strength­en the individual’s belief in him­self, and the oth­er, even more impor­tant right now, is to com­bat a mod­ern trend toward athe­ism.”

Which makes it all the cra­zier that when the movie first came out, it fell under sus­pi­cion from the FBI and the House Un-Amer­i­can Activ­i­ties Com­mit­tee (HUAC) as Com­mu­nist pro­pa­ganda, part of the Red Scare that soon would lead to the black­list and witch hunt that destroyed the careers of many tal­ented screen and tele­vi­sion writ­ers, direc­tors and actors.

Screen­play cred­its on “It’s a Won­der­ful Life” went to Frances Goodrich and her hus­band Albert Hack­ett, Capra and Jo Swer­ling, although a num­ber of oth­ers took turns at dif­fer­ent times, includ­ing Clif­ford Odets, Dal­ton Trum­bo and Marc Con­nelly – not an unusu­al sit­u­a­tion in Hol­ly­wood. But a 1947 FBI mem­o­ran­dum, part of a 13,533 page doc­u­ment, “Com­mu­nist Infil­tra­tion of the Motion Pic­ture Indus­try,” first went after the writ­ers Goodrich and Hack­ett:

“Accord­ing to Infor­mants [REDACTED] in this pic­ture the screen cred­its again fail to reflect the Com­mu­nist sup­port giv­en to the screen writer. Accord­ing to [REDACTED] the writ­ers Frances Goodrick [sic] and Albert Hack­ett were very close to known Com­mu­nists and on one occa­sion in the recent past while these two writ­ers were doing a pic­ture for Metro-Gold­wyn-May­er, Goodrick [sic] and Hack­ett prac­ti­cally lived with known Com­mu­nists and were observed eat­ing lun­cheon dai­ly with such Com­mu­nists as Lester Cole, screen writer, and Earl Robin­son, screen writer. Both of these indi­vid­u­als are iden­ti­fied in Sec­tion I of this mem­o­ran­dum as Com­mu­nists.”

...

Wait – it gets nut­tier. Accord­ing to the media archival web­site Aphe­lis,“Among the group who pro­duced the ana­lyt­i­cal tools that were used by the FBI in its analy­sis of ‘It’s a Won­der­ful Life’ was Ayn Rand.”

“Abbott and Costel­lo Meet Ayn Rand” – what a com­edy hor­ror pic­ture that would have made. Rand’s group told the FBI:

“The pur­pose of the Com­mu­nists in Hol­ly­wood is not the pro­duc­tion of polit­i­cal movies open­ly advo­cat­ing Com­mu­nism. Their pur­pose is to cor­rupt non-polit­i­cal movies — by intro­duc­ing small, casu­al bits of pro­pa­ganda into inno­cent sto­ries and to make peo­ple absorb the basic prin­ci­ples of Col­lec­tivism by indi­rec­tion and impli­ca­tion. Few peo­ple would take Com­mu­nism straight, but a con­stant stream of hints, lines, touch­es and sug­ges­tions bat­ter­ing the pub­lic from the screen will act like drops of water that split a rock if con­tin­ued long enough. The rock that they are try­ing to split is Amer­i­can­ism.”

But redemp­tion of an odd sort came for “It’s a Won­der­ful Life” at the infa­mous Octo­ber 1947 House Un-Amer­i­can Activ­i­ties Com­mit­tee hear­ings. Just days before the appear­ance there of the Hol­ly­wood 10 – writ­ers (and one direc­tor) who refused to tes­tify and sub­se­quently went to prison — a parade of “friend­ly wit­nesses” (includ­ing Ayn Rand, Gary Coop­er, Ronald Rea­gan and Walt Dis­ney) came before the com­mit­tee to insin­u­ate and weave dark tales of Com­mu­nist infil­tra­tion and sub­ver­sion in the movie busi­ness. One of them was a for­mer Com­mu­nist and screen­writer named John Charles Mof­fitt.Aphe­lis reports:

“When asked by HUAC Chief Inves­ti­ga­tor Robert E. Stripling if Hol­ly­wood is in the habit of por­tray­ing bankers as vil­lain­ous char­ac­ters, Mof­fitt takes the oppor­tu­nity to try to clear the rep­u­ta­tion of Frank Capra’s movie ‘It’s A Won­der­ful Life:’ he tries to argue that the film isn’t, in fact a Com­mu­nist movie.”

MR. STRIPLING. The term “heavy” has been used here as a des­ig­na­tion of the part in which the per­son is a vil­lain. Would you say that the banker has been often cast as a heavy, or con­sis­tently cast as a heavy, in pic­tures in Hol­ly­wood?

MR. MOFFITT. Yes, sir. I think that due to Com­mu­nist pres­sure he is over­fre­quently cast as a heavy. By that I do not mean that I think no pic­ture should ever show a vil­lain­ous banker. In fact, I would right now like to defend one pic­ture that I think has been unjust­ly accused of com­mu­nism. That pic­ture is Frank Capra’s “It’s a Won­der­ful Life.” The banker in that pic­ture, played by Lionel Bar­ry­more, was most cer­tainly what we call a “dog heavy” in the busi­ness. He was a snarling, unsym­pa­thetic char­ac­ter. But the hero and his father, played by James Stew­art and Samuel S. Hines, were busi­ness­men, in the build­ing and loan busi­ness, and they were shown as using mon­ey as a benev­o­lent influ­ence.

At this point, there was a bit of com­mo­tion in the hear­ing room.

THE CHAIRMAN. Just a minute. Come away. Every­body sit down. Will all you peo­ple who are stand­ing up please sit down? And the pho­tog­ra­phers.

MR.MOFFITT. All right.

THE CHAIRMAN. Go ahead.

MR. MOFFITT. Well, to sum­ma­rize, I think Mr. Capra’s pic­ture, though it had a banker as vil­lain, could not be prop­erly called a Com­mu­nist pic­ture. It showed that the pow­er of mon­ey can be used oppres­sively and it can be used benev­o­lently. I think that pic­ture was unjust­ly accused of Com­mu­nism.

7. A lit­tle-noticed item con­cern­ing the new GOP-con­trolled Con­gress con­cerns the fact that they are mov­ing to replace the pre­vi­ous­ly-inde­pen­dent head of the Con­gres­sion­al Bud­get Office with their own hack, who can be expect­ed to turn their ide­o­log­i­cal fan­tasies into polit­i­cal real­i­ty.

“Report: New Con­gress Dump­ing CBO Chief To Clear Way For Spe­cial GOP Bud­get Math” by Daniel Strauss; TPM Livewire12/22/2014.

The incom­ing lead­ers of the new Repub­li­can-con­trolled Con­gress have opt­ed against reap­point­ing Doug Elmen­dorf as head of the Con­gres­sional Bud­get Office, Bloomberg News report­ed Mon­day cit­ing an “aide briefed on the deci­sion.” The move helps clear the way for so-called “dynam­ic scor­ing” — a Holy Grail of con­ser­v­a­tive GOP bud­get wonks who don’t like the way the costs of tax cuts are cur­rently cal­cu­lat­ed.

Elmen­dorf pre­vi­ously served as an econ­o­mist with the Trea­sury Depart­ment and the Fed­eral Reserve. He was appoint­ed to lead the CBO in 2009 after Peter Orszag, the pre­vi­ous direc­tor, was nom­i­nated to run the White House Office of Man­age­ment and Bud­get. After that, in 2011, Elmen­dorf was con­firmed for a four-year term after Repub­li­cans took over the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

...

Over the past few months Repub­li­cans have renewed their focus on chang­ing the way CBO scores bud­gets if they were to take con­trol of the Sen­ate and keep con­trol of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Dynam­ic scor­ing cal­cu­lates bud­gets through a con­tro­ver­sial view that tax cuts both cre­ate eco­nomic growth and counter lost rev­enue. Cur­rently the CBO does not use dynam­ic scor­ing.

Both Rep. Paul Ryan (R‑WI), the incom­ing chair­man of the House Ways and Means Com­mit­tee, and incom­ing Sen­ate Major­ity Leader Mitch McConnell (R‑KY) have argued in favor of dynam­ic scor­ing.

8. Hawk­ing recent­ly warned of the poten­tial dan­ger to human­i­ty posed by the growth of AI (arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence) tech­nol­o­gy.

“Stephen Hawk­ing Warns Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence Could End Mankind” by Rory Cel­lan-Jones; BBC News; 12/02/2014.

Prof Stephen Hawk­ing, one of Britain’s pre-emi­nent sci­en­tists, has said that efforts to cre­ate think­ing machines pose a threat to our very exis­tence.

He told the BBC:“The devel­op­ment of full arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence could spell the end of the human race.”

His warn­ing came in response to a ques­tion about a revamp of the tech­nol­o­gy he uses to com­mu­ni­cate, which involves a basic form of AI. . . .

. . . . Prof Hawk­ing says the prim­i­tive forms of arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence devel­oped so far have already proved very use­ful, but he fears the con­se­quences of cre­at­ing some­thing that can match or sur­pass humans.

“It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increas­ing rate,” he said.

“Humans, who are lim­it­ed by slow bio­log­i­cal evo­lu­tion, could­n’t com­pete, and would be super­seded.” . . . .

9.  In L‑2 (record­ed in Jan­u­ary of 1995) Mr. Emory warned about the dan­gers of AI.

 

Discussion

One comment for “FTR #828 Miscellaneous Articles and Updates”

  1. Here’s a fun look at what con­sti­tutes “eco­nom­ic pop­ulism” with­in today’s GOP:
    First, let’s take a look at the “eco­nom­ic pop­ulist” from the 2012 elec­tion cycle. The eco­nom­ic pop­ulist name Rick San­to­rum. You read that right. Rick San­to­rum was a GOP eco­nom­ic pop­ulist in 2012. It’s a rel­a­tive rank­ing:

    New Repub­lic
    Rick San­to­rum, Clos­et Pop­ulist?

    Alec MacGillis
    Decem­ber 29, 2011

    Amid all the talk of Rick San­to­rum’s surge in Iowa, I’m a lit­tle sur­prised more peo­ple aren’t not­ing that he has some­thing in com­mon with 2008 cau­cus win­ner Mike Huck­abee oth­er than the obvi­ous, their shared base of sup­port among the state’s social con­ser­v­a­tives. Name­ly, that San­to­rum, like Huck­abee, is com­ing the clos­est to artic­u­lat­ing an eco­nom­i­cal­ly pop­ulist in a mes­sage in a field that is oth­er­wise in thrall to tax-cut­ting, upper-crust ortho­doxy.

    ...

    With Huck­abee out of the run­ning this year and vot­ers even more eco­nom­i­cal­ly inse­cure than they were four years ago, it seemed like­ly that some­one else would emerge to make the pop­ulist case. Per­haps Tim Paw­len­ty, the son of a truck dri­ver? But even before Paw­len­ty made his ear­ly exit, he had passed up the Sam’s Club man­tle, instead adopt­ing a tax-slash­ing eco­nom­ic plan that could have been writ­ten by the Club for Growth. The only can­di­date who has come clos­est to the sem­blance of a pop­ulist mes­sage is San­to­rum. He has not been near­ly as out­spo­ken on that score as Huck­abee was. But he has talked elo­quent­ly about the decline of man­u­fac­tur­ing in his home state of Penn­syl­va­nia, and he has dared to speak the truth that social mobil­i­ty in the land of Hor­a­tio Alger is now below that of sup­pos­ed­ly class-bound West­ern Europe. It may just be that what some Iowa vot­ers are respond­ing to in San­to­rum is not just his talk of faith and fam­i­ly but his acknowl­edg­ment of their anx­i­ety about their future in an increas­ing­ly unequal and inse­cure econ­o­my.

    And just as hap­pened with Huck­abee, the pow­ers that be are tak­ing note and mov­ing to quash such talk Thus we have Erick Erick­son warn­ing that San­to­rum is in fact insuf­fi­cient­ly con­ser­v­a­tive on eco­nom­ic mat­ters:

    Most damn­ing to me is Rick Santorum’s actu­al record in the Sen­ate and House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. I keep hear­ing him say he was such a paragon of fis­cal con­ser­v­a­tive virtue, when he was any­thing but that. He was as go along to get along as all the oth­er Repub­li­cans who led to our down­fall. Mak­ing San­to­rum worse, he was always the guy say­ing, “I had to do this, but wait till I get to lead­er­ship. I’ll be there for you in lead­er­ship.” It’s what he is say­ing now. Only it isn’t true and nev­er was.

    He sup­port­ed steel tar­iffs in Penn­syl­va­nia, which did him lit­tle good in his own re-elec­tion effort. He sup­port­ed No Child Left Behind. He sup­port­ed the pre­scrip­tion drug ben­e­fit. ...He vot­ed against the Farm Bill in 2002, but he vot­ed to extend milk sub­si­dies to save the poor Penn­syl­va­nia farmer. In the House, San­to­rum opposed NAFTA and offered leg­is­la­tion to impose steel tar­iffs. He want­ed to tax import­ed hon­ey and Chi­nese imports.

    Tax­es on import­ed hon­ey! Man the bar­ri­cades, the pitch­forks are bang­ing at the gate.

    Yes, by talk­ing about the decline of man­u­fac­tur­ing and rec­og­niz­ing the col­lapse of social mobil­i­ty in Amer­i­ca (i.e. acknowl­edg­ing real­i­ty), Rick San­to­rum a pop­ulist! At least com­pared to the rest of the GOP field. And this arti­cle was writ­ten about week after Rick made the news for explic­it­ly endors­ing income inequal­i­ty.

    So if acknowl­edg­ing the decline of man­u­fac­tur­ing and grow­ing work­ing class woes (while cel­e­brat­ing the income inequal­i­ty that helped fuel those woes) is all it takes to become a GOP eco­nom­ic pop­ulist, just imag­ine what a speech by Rick about why Rea­gan would be ashamed of today’s GOP because it does­n’t do enough to care about the poor would do to solid­i­fy Rick­’s pop­ulist cred. He’s just drip­ping with pop­ulism after a speech like that!

    Think Progress
    Rick San­to­rum Explains Why Ronald Rea­gan Would Be ‘Appalled’ By Today’s GOP

    by Igor Vol­sky Post­ed on June 20, 2014 at 11:22 am

    Rick San­to­rum appeared to make the case for greater gov­ern­ment involve­ment dur­ing a speech at the Faith & Free­dom Coali­tion on Fri­day, adopt­ing a pop­ulist mes­sage at odds with Repub­li­can rhetoric.

    The for­mer Penn­syl­va­nia sen­a­tor, who is explor­ing a 2016 pres­i­den­tial bid, quot­ed Pres­i­dent Ronald Rea­gan to make the case for a more robust gov­ern­ment that can pro­vide assis­tance to low­er and mid­dle income Amer­i­cans. He argued that the Repub­li­can would “be appalled today” by GOP law­mak­ers who tai­lor their pol­i­cy pre­scrip­tions to con­ser­v­a­tive ortho­doxy rather than the eco­nom­ic prob­lems at hand.

    “One of [Reagan’s] famous quotes was, ‘gov­ern­ment isn’t the answer, gov­ern­ment is the prob­lem.’ But here is what he said in the begin­ning of that quote, ‘in this cur­rent cri­sis,’” San­to­rum declared. “Ladies and gen­tle­men, we have a dif­fer­ent cri­sis in Amer­i­ca, we have a cri­sis of peo­ple in the mid­dle of Amer­i­ca feel­ing dis­con­nect­ed to this coun­try and the oppor­tu­ni­ty they can pro­vide.”

    San­to­rum, who just pub­lished a book focused on eco­nom­ic pop­ulism, called on the GOP to adopt an agen­da “that speaks across the eco­nom­ic spec­trum” and become “the par­ty of the work­er, not just the par­ty of busi­ness.” That agen­da includes a greater focus on Amer­i­can-made man­u­fac­tur­ing, voca­tion­al edu­ca­tion, and build­ing “the infra­struc­ture of Amer­i­ca.”

    “Repub­li­cans, it’s okay for peo­ple to just work from 9 to 5 and have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to raise a fam­i­ly on the wages that you make,” he added, reit­er­at­ing that he is open to rais­ing the fed­er­al min­i­mum wage.

    ...

    Woah! Rea­gan would be ashamed by the aban­don­ment of blue col­lar work­ers? Rick wants to raise the min­i­mum wage(a whole 50 cents a year for three years)? Behold, the GOP eco­nom­ic pop­ulism!

    So is Rick San­to­rum’s 2016 cam­paign going to be defined by his bold new brand of GOP eco­nom­ic pop­ulism? Well, let’s just say that Rick is def­i­nite­ly going to try to make that be the case, but if even Fox News does­n’t buy what he’s sell­ing, it might not be so easy this time around:

    Crooks & Liars
    Chris Wal­lace Smacks Rick San­to­rum On Flat Tax Myth That Helps The Rich

    By John Ama­to

    6/07/15 12:00pm

    It’s hard to try and pass your­self off as the true cham­pi­on of the work­ing class in Amer­i­ca if your fis­cal poli­cies are pro-rich. And any­one who pro­pos­es the fraud­u­lent flat tax scheme as a way to fix our econ­o­my is more char­la­tan than can­di­date. That’s Rick San­to­rum’s prob­lem in the nut­shell. Every­one knows he’s a die hard reli­gious Con­ser­v­a­tive to his core, but in his attempts to sep­a­rate him­self from his right wing fel­lows, he’s act­ing like the emper­or try­ing to dress up in new clothes. (Robert Reich has a nice take down of the flat tax con job here)

    Chris Wal­lace takes apart San­to­rum’s plans and diss­es her bogus defense for his flat tax scheme pret­ty eas­i­ly.

    WALLACE: You want­ed only two income tax rates, 10 per­cent and 28 per­cent. Tax cap­i­tal gains at 12 per­cent. And cor­po­rate tax­es at 17.5 per­cent.

    Here’s the prob­lem: the Tax Pol­i­cy Cen­ter said the mid­dle class, on aver­age, would save $4,000, while the top 1 per­cent tax­pay­er would save, on aver­age, almost $350,000. And you would cut fed­er­al rev­enues by 40 per­cent.

    Ques­tion: how do you pass, cre­ate, impose a flat tax that, one, isn’t going to gut the fed­er­al trea­sury, that’s going to raise enough mon­ey, and, two, isn’t going to be a bonan­za for the top 1 per­cent?

    SANTORUM: Well, first off, those num­bers are based on a sta­t­ic mod­el. That means that noth­ing is going to change in the econ­o­my if you cre­ate all sorts of incen­tives for peo­ple to grow the econ­o­my and for peo­ple to work with low­er tax rates. And I just reject that. I mean, that’s just a flat earth way of look­ing at eco­nom­ic growth.

    One of the things I believe in is that you —

    Here’s a tip, Rick. Just say­ing you reject some­thing does­n’t mean it’s so.

    WALLACE: But if you low­er the tax rate, as much as you are for the top, they’re going to do a lot bet­ter than the mid­dle class because they’re get­ting a big­ger reduc­tion.

    SANTORUM: The whole idea is to treat every­body fair­ly. That’s the rea­son we’re look­ing at a flat tax. We’ll have pro­vi­sions in there that make sure that low­er and mid­dle income Amer­i­cans are not going to pay more tax­es — in fact, pay less tax­es.

    The bot­tom line is, we have to cre­ate growth. You want to reduce the deficit. You want to grow — you know, you want to grow jobs in Amer­i­ca, then you have to do some­thing to cre­ate jobs. And that means eco­nom­ic growth. And that’s — means you cre­ate incen­tives for peo­ple who grow the econ­o­my.

    So, yes, I am — that’s why I said that the Repub­li­can mes­sage is a good mes­sage on growth, cut­ting tax­es, sup­ply side eco­nom­ics, but we have to make sure we ori­ent that growth in areas where peo­ple who are suf­fer­ing in Amer­i­ca today, man­u­fac­tur­ing, ener­gy, con­struc­tion, those types of jobs that cre­ate oppor­tu­ni­ties for good-pay­ing jobs for work­ing men and women, that those jobs are cre­at­ed here in Amer­i­ca.

    The canard that he wants to treat every­body fair­ly is also anoth­er typ­i­cal con­ser­v­a­tive rouse to sup­port the flat tax. If San­to­rum tru­ly wants to help the work­ing class in this coun­try — he needs to sup­ports poli­cies that help those work­ers and not ones that favor the 1%.

    It real­ly is that sim­ple, but lit­tle Rick­ie is run­ning as a Repub­li­can and he can nev­er aban­don the rich elites. The rich don’t need tax cut­ting incen­tives to cre­ate jobs because the bil­lions they make off their backs is incen­tive enough.

    With the econ­o­my rebound­ing like it has, it’s hard to try and pro­mote a bogus plan like the flat tax, but that won’t stop San­to­rum or oth­ers that will use this hor­ri­ble plan because they know they can spin it like a yoyo.

    ...

    Yes, Rick San­to­rum’s brand of eco­nom­ic pop­ulism is so regres­sive that he got called on it on Fox News:

    ...
    WALLACE: You want­ed only two income tax rates, 10 per­cent and 28 per­cent. Tax cap­i­tal gains at 12 per­cent. And cor­po­rate tax­es at 17.5 per­cent.

    Here’s the prob­lem: the Tax Pol­i­cy Cen­ter said the mid­dle class, on aver­age, would save $4,000, while the top 1 per­cent tax­pay­er would save, on aver­age, almost $350,000. And you would cut fed­er­al rev­enues by 40 per­cent.

    Ques­tion: how do you pass, cre­ate, impose a flat tax that, one, isn’t going to gut the fed­er­al trea­sury, that’s going to raise enough mon­ey, and, two, isn’t going to be a bonan­za for the top 1 per­cent?

    SANTORUM: Well, first off, those num­bers are based on a sta­t­ic mod­el. That means that noth­ing is going to change in the econ­o­my if you cre­ate all sorts of incen­tives for peo­ple to grow the econ­o­my and for peo­ple to work with low­er tax rates. And I just reject that. I mean, that’s just a flat earth way of look­ing at eco­nom­ic growth.
    ...

    A 40% cut in Fed­er­al rev­enues via a tax cut that gives gives the top 1 per­cent a cut that’s 87.5 times larg­er than the cut for the aver­age mid­dle class tax pay­er is Rick­’s idea of pop­ulism. Good thing he’s in favor of income inequal­i­ty or there might be a prob­lem there.

    But don’t wor­ry about see­ing all those fed­er­al pro­grams that actu­al­ly help the bot­tom 99 per­cent dis­ap­pear. Why? “Well, first off, those num­bers are based on a sta­t­ic mod­el...And I just reject that”.

    So there’s your con­tem­po­rary GOP eco­nom­ic pop­ulist: Mas­sive tax cuts for the rich that appar­ent­ly won’t destroy the bud­get due to the mag­ic of “dynam­ic scor­ing” and sup­ply-side eco­nom­ics), plus a nice lit­tle min­i­mum wage boost for the rab­ble.

    Ricky is no doubt mak­ing the pop­ulist ghost of Rea­gan very, very proud.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 8, 2015, 2:50 pm

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