Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.
The tag 'austerity' is associated with 40 posts.

John Roberts Gives Bad Faith Blessing to Hyper-Partisan Gerrymandering, Paving Way for the Kochstitution.

There was an omi­nous warn­ing about the direc­tion Amer­i­can Democ­ra­cy was head­ing When David Frum warned, “If con­ser­v­a­tives become con­vinced that they can­not win demo­c­ra­t­i­cal­ly, they will not aban­don con­ser­vatism. They will reject democ­ra­cy.” It was a warn­ing about what might hap­pen, but as we’re going to see, the corporate/billionaire wing com­po­nent of the Repub­li­can par­ty has already con­clud­ed that it can’t get the pub­lic behind its agen­da and has already turned against democ­ra­cy. And John Roberts just hand­ed this bil­lion­aire fac­tion a mas­sive legal vic­to­ry in Rucho vs Com­mon Cause: fed­er­al courts can’t rule on whether or not dis­trict lines are drawn in an over­ly-par­ti­san man­ner. It’s up to each state on its own. And as we’re going to see, Repub­li­cans already dom­i­nate the con­trol of state gov­ern­ments and now state leg­is­la­tures can ger­ry­man­der their own dis­tricts with­out fear of fed­er­al med­dling. Beyond that, the Kochs and ALEC are work­ing on remov­ing state courts from over­see­ing redis­trict­ing maps too. And to top it off, the Kochs are aggres­sive­ly push­ing for a con­sti­tu­tion­al con­ven­tion that could eas­i­ly turn into a ‘run­away’ con­ven­tion. And if there’s a con­sti­tu­tion­al con­ven­tion, whichev­er par­ty con­trols the most states is going to con­trol the out­come of the con­ven­tion. So the Supreme Court just tur­bocharged the Kochs’ cap­ture of state assem­blies, the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, and even­tu­al­ly the Con­sti­tu­tion.


FTR #985 Fascism: 2017 European Tour, Part 2

Begin­ning our tour in Poland, we note alarm­ing signs of that coun­try descend­ing into fas­cism, with anti-immi­grant, anti-Mus­lim xeno­pho­bia on the ide­o­log­i­cal front burn­er of the iron­i­cal­ly named Law and Jus­tice Par­ty: ” . . . . Tens of thou­sands of peo­ple — many of them young men with crew cuts, but some par­ents with chil­dren, too — flocked to the Pol­ish cap­i­tal to cel­e­brate Inde­pen­dence Day in a march orga­nized in part by two neo-fas­cist orga­ni­za­tions. They waved white and red Pol­ish flags, they bran­dished burn­ing torch­es, and they wore “white pow­er” sym­bols. They car­ried ban­ners declar­ing, ‘Death to ene­mies of the home­land,’ and screamed, ‘Sieg Heil!’ and ‘Ku Klux Klan!’ . . . .”

The treat­ment accord­ed female counter-demon­stra­tors exem­pli­fies the nature of the ral­ly: ” . . . . A dozen incred­i­bly coura­geous women showed up to protest the march. After mix­ing with the marchers, they unrav­eled a long strip of cloth embla­zoned with ‘Stop Fas­cism.’ They were imme­di­ate­ly attacked. Their ban­ner was ripped apart. Marchers pushed some of the women to the ground and kicked oth­ers. . . .”

At an insti­tu­tion­al lev­el, the Law and Jus­tice Par­ty is imple­ment­ing an Orwellian mock­ery of its name: ” . . . Ever since the Law and Jus­tice Par­ty won both the pres­i­den­tial and par­lia­men­tary elec­tions in 2015, Poland has been under­go­ing a dis­turb­ing polit­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion. Law and Jus­tice is an Orwellian name for a par­ty that con­stant­ly vio­lates the law, breaks con­sti­tu­tion­al pro­vi­sions and is hell­bent on sub­ject­ing the courts to its con­trol. The par­ty is dis­man­tling the insti­tu­tion­al frame­work of par­lia­men­tary democ­ra­cy piece by piece in order to remove any restraints on the per­son­al pow­er of its leader, Jaroslaw Kaczyn­s­ki. ‘Prezes,’ the Boss, peo­ple call him. . . .”

The xeno­pho­bia uti­lized by the Law and Jus­tice Par­ty is a com­mon ele­ment in Euro­pean and Amer­i­can fas­cist move­ments: ” . . . . Two years ago, the par­ty bet that latch­ing onto the refugee cri­sis in Europe would give it pur­chase on the votes nec­es­sary to win. Its cal­cu­la­tion proved entire­ly cor­rect. One of the first insti­tu­tions the par­ty hijacked was pub­lic tele­vi­sion. Law and Jus­tice has turned it into Fox News on steroids, paid for by the tax­pay­ers. It feeds view­ers non­stop pro­pa­gan­da about the mount­ing threat to Poland’s sov­er­eign­ty from the Euro­pean Union, specif­i­cal­ly in the form of Mus­lim refugees. Those refugees present a threat to our way of life, the gov­ern­ment and the press insist. They will assault our women, they say, and they are car­ry­ing infec­tious dis­eases to boot. A year ago, a quar­ter of Poles opposed accept­ing any­one flee­ing the rav­ages of war in the Mid­dle East; after months of relent­less pro­pa­gan­da, 75 per­cent are now opposed. This year the coun­try has let in only 1,474 asy­lum seek­ers, near­ly all of them from Rus­sia or Ukraine. . . .”

In Italy, Cas­a­Pound reca­pit­u­lates Italy’s fas­cist past, in res­o­nance with anti-immi­grant xeno­pho­bia exhib­it­ed by oth­er neo-fas­cist par­ties: ” . . . . But Cas­a­Pound is win­ning seats in a hand­ful of towns, and some of its core beliefs — a fond­ness for Rus­sia and sharp oppo­si­tion to the Euro­pean Union, glob­al­iza­tion and immi­gra­tion, which it believes sul­ly the nation­al iden­ti­ty and econ­o­my — are increas­ing­ly spread­ing through­out Italy. In Sici­ly, the new head­quar­ters of Broth­ers of Italy, a descen­dant of the post-fas­cist Ital­ian Social Move­ment, had the phrase ‘Ital­ians first’ writ­ten on the wall dur­ing its recent inau­gu­ra­tion. Anti-immi­gra­tion sen­ti­ment has grown so pop­u­lar that the once-seces­sion­ist North­ern League has dropped the word ‘North­ern’ from its name as it looks for inroads to the south. . . .”

Much of our tour is in Ukraine, where the OUN/B fas­cists are rewrit­ing his­to­ry.

Key ele­ments of this Orwellian re-write include:

1.-The Insti­tute of Nation­al Mem­o­ry, head­ed by Volodomyr Via­tro­vych, is stand­ing World War II his­to­ry on its head. inter­na­tion­al­ists. . . .”
2.-Viatrovych and his Insti­tute are mar­ket­ing a “pet Jew” UPA sol­dier to prove the open-mind­ed, polit­i­cal­ly cor­rect­ness of the UPA and the OUN/B.
3.-Wholesale sup­port for Via­tro­vy­ch’s Orwellian re-write of Ukrain­ian his­to­ry has come from Poroshenko gov­ern­ment: “. . . . The con­tro­ver­sy cen­ters on a telling of World War II his­to­ry that ampli­fies Sovi­et crimes and glo­ri­fies Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist fight­ers while dis­miss­ing the vital part they played in eth­nic cleans­ing of Poles and Jews from 1941 to 1945 after the Nazi inva­sion of the for­mer Sovi­et Union. . . . And more point­ed­ly, schol­ars now fear that they risk reprisal for not toe­ing the offi­cial line — or call­ing Via­tro­vych on his his­tor­i­cal dis­tor­tions. Under Viatrovych’s reign, the coun­try could be head­ed for a new, and fright­en­ing, era of cen­sor­ship. . . .”
4.-More about Via­tro­vy­ch’s his­tor­i­cal pro­pa­gan­da: “. . . . To that effect, Via­tro­vych has dis­missed his­tor­i­cal events not com­port­ing with this nar­ra­tive as ‘Sovi­et pro­pa­gan­da.’ [This is true of infor­ma­tion pre­sent­ed by any­one that tells the truth about the OUN/B heirs now in pow­er in Ukraine–they are dis­missed as ‘Russ­ian dupes’ or “tools of the Krem­lin’ etc.–D.E.] In his 2006 book, The OUN’s Posi­tion Towards the Jews: For­mu­la­tion of a posi­tion against the back­drop of a cat­a­stro­phe, he attempt­ed to exon­er­ate the OUN from its col­lab­o­ra­tion in the Holo­caust by ignor­ing the over­whelm­ing mass of his­tor­i­cal lit­er­a­ture. . . .”
5. The Pol­ish fas­cists described above have remained silent about Via­tro­vy­ch’s aca­d­e­m­ic coverup of the Ukrain­ian fas­cists’ exter­mi­na­tion of eth­nic Poles dur­ing World War “. . . . UPA supreme com­man­der Dmytro Kliachkivs’kyi explic­it­ly stat­ed: ‘We should car­ry out a large-scale liq­ui­da­tion action against Pol­ish ele­ments. Dur­ing the evac­u­a­tion of the Ger­man Army, we should find an appro­pri­ate moment to liq­ui­date the entire male pop­u­la­tion between 16 and 60 years old.’ Giv­en that over 70 per­cent of the lead­ing UPA cadres pos­sessed a back­ground as Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors, none of this is sur­pris­ing. . . .”
6. Ukraine’s Min­istry of Edu­ca­tion is echo­ing and ampli­fy­ing Via­tro­vy­ch’s nar­ra­tive: “. . . . Sev­en­ty his­to­ri­ans signed an open let­ter to Poroshenko ask­ing him to veto the draft law that bans crit­i­cism of the OUN-UPA. . . . After the open let­ter was pub­lished, the legislation’s spon­sor, Yuri Shukhevych, react­ed furi­ous­ly. Shukhevych, the son of UPA leader Roman Shukhevych and a long­time far-right polit­i­cal activist him­self, fired off a let­ter to Min­is­ter of Edu­ca­tion Ser­hiy Kvit claim­ing, ‘Russ­ian spe­cial ser­vices’ pro­duced the let­ter and demand­ed that ‘patri­ot­ic’ his­to­ri­ans rebuff it. Kvit, also a long­time far-right activist and author of an admir­ing biog­ra­phy one of the key the­o­reti­cians of Ukrain­ian eth­nic nation­al­ism, in turn omi­nous­ly high­light­ed the sig­na­to­ries of Ukrain­ian his­to­ri­ans on his copy of the let­ter. . . .”
7.-More about Min­is­ter of Edu­ca­tion Kvit, and Via­tro­vych: “. . . . Last June, Kvit’s Min­istry of Edu­ca­tion issued a direc­tive to teach­ers regard­ing the ‘neces­si­ty to accen­tu­ate the patri­o­tism and moral­i­ty of the activists of the lib­er­a­tion move­ment,’ includ­ing depict­ing the UPA as a ‘sym­bol of patri­o­tism and sac­ri­fi­cial spir­it in the strug­gle for an inde­pen­dent Ukraine’ and Ban­dera as an ‘out­stand­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tive’ of the Ukrain­ian peo­ple.’ More recent­ly, Viatrovych’s Ukrain­ian Insti­tute of Nation­al Mem­o­ry pro­posed that the city of Kiev rename two streets after Ban­dera and the for­mer supreme com­man­der of both the UPA and the Nazi-super­vised Schutz­mannschaft Roman Shukhevych. . . .”
8.-In keep­ing with the re-writ­ing of Ukraine’s wartime his­to­ry, the city of Lvov [Lviv or Lem­berg, when it was part of Poland] has estab­lished a fes­ti­val in hon­or of Roman Shukhevych, the head of the Ein­satz­gruppe Nachti­gall or Nightin­gale Bat­tal­ion, on the anniver­sary of the begin­ning of a pogrom that he led.

More about this pogrom:

1, “The Ukrain­ian city of Lviv will hold a fes­ti­val cel­e­brat­ing a Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tor on the anniver­sary of a major pogrom against the city’s Jews. . . . On June 30, 1941, Ukrain­ian troops, includ­ing mili­ti­a­men loy­al to Shukhevych’s, began a series of pogroms against Jews, which they per­pe­trat­ed under the aus­pices of the Ger­man army, accord­ing to Yale Uni­ver­si­ty his­to­ry pro­fes­sor Tim­o­thy Sny­der and oth­er schol­ars. They mur­dered approx­i­mate­ly 6,000 Jews in those pogroms. . . .”
2.-The Ein­satz­gruppe Nachti­gall was an SS exter­mi­na­tion unit. “. . . . In 1959 [SS offi­cer Theodor] Ober­laen­der was the cen­ter of a storm that final­ly forced his res­ig­na­tion in May 1960. He was blamed for the mass mur­der of thou­sands of Jews and Pol­ish intel­lec­tu­als who had been liq­ui­dat­ed in July 1941 when a spe­cial SS task force under his com­mand occu­pied the Pol­ish city of Lem­berg (Lvov). . . . As briefly men­tioned in a pre­vi­ous chap­ter, Min­is­ter Ober­laen­der is accused of hav­ing been involved in the so-called “Lem­berg mas­sacre,” in which sev­er­al thou­sand Poles and more than 5,000 Jews were slaugh­tered. Dr. Ober­laen­der does not deny a] that he was the com­mand­ing offi­cer of a spe­cial SS task force, the Nightin­gale Bat­tal­ion, made up of nation­al­ist Ukraini­ans; and b] that this bat­tal­ion was the first Ger­man unit to move into the Pol­ish city of Lem­berg on June 29, 1941, where it remained for six or sev­en days. . . .”

The offi­cial found­ing of the UPA (Octo­ber 14)–the group whose troops com­prised the Ein­satz­gruppe Nachtigall–is now a nation­al holdiay Ukraine: ” . . . . Thou­sands of Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists have marched through the cap­i­tal, Kyiv, to mark the 75th anniver­sary of the cre­ation of the con­tro­ver­sial Ukrain­ian Insur­gent Army (UPA). March orga­niz­ers said as many as 20,000 peo­ple par­tic­i­pat­ed in the Octo­ber 14 march, which was sup­port­ed by the right-wing Free­dom, Right Sec­tor, and Nation­al Corp polit­i­cal par­ties. . . . Jour­nal­ists report­ed see­ing some marchers giv­ing Nazi salutes. Since 2015, the Octo­ber 14 anniver­sary has been marked as the Defend­er of Ukraine Day pub­lic hol­i­day. . . . .”

Pro­gram High­lights Include:

1.-We return to the sub­ject of the Lithuan­ian Rifle­man’s Union, who are engag­ing with maneu­vers with sim­i­lar orga­ni­za­tions from Latvia and Lithua­nia.
2.-Reviewing infor­ma­tion about the Lithuan­ian Rifle­men’s Union, we high­light its activ­i­ties as part of the Nazi mil­i­tary effort in the Baltic states, includ­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion in admin­is­ter­ing Hitler’s “Final Solu­tion.”
3.-Reminiscent of the Nazi “pun­ish­er bat­tal­ions,” the Lithuan­ian Rifle­man’s Union–a fas­cist militia–has been expand­ed to meet the so-called “Russ­ian threat.” Like the OUN/B’s mil­i­tary wing–the UPA–the Lithuan­ian Rifle­man’s Union con­tin­ued the com­bat of World War II until the ear­ly 1950’s. Formed dur­ing the wan­ing days of the Sec­ond World War, they jumped from the Third Reich to the Office of Pol­i­cy Coor­di­na­tion, a CIA/State Depart­ment oper­a­tional direc­torate. (This is cov­ered in FTR #777, as well as AFA #1.)
4.-Review of info­ra­tion from FTR #779, not­ing that Svo­bo­da was net­work­ing with Rober­to Fiore’s Forza Nuo­va. Svo­bo­da has threat­ened Ukrain­ian Jews who protest­ed the estab­lish­ment of an offi­cial hol­i­day in Ukraine hon­or­ing Ukrain­ian pogromist Sime­on Pet­lyu­ra, whose troops killed 50,000 Jews in Ukraine.


The US Falls Down the GOP’s Tax Scam Memory Hole. Again.

When is a tax cut more than just a tax cut? When it’s a GOP tax cut. Because when the GOP cuts tax­es, it’s nev­er just an attempt to cut tax­es because tax cuts are just one ele­ment of the GOP’s much larg­er agen­da of cre­at­ing a soci­ety run by and for the super-rich. And mas­sive amounts of pro­pa­gan­da and decep­tion are part of the tax cut pack­age too. It’s why GOP tax cuts tend to be so much more than just tax cuts for the rich. They’re Big Lies designed to fool soci­ety into dis­man­tling itself. So it should come as a sur­prise to no one that the cur­rent GOP tax cut plans are hor­ri­ble abom­i­na­tion being sold to the pub­lic by a web of lies. But what is gen­uine­ly sur­pris­ing about the cur­rent GOP tax push is just how shod­dy that web of lies is turn­ing out to be this time. As we’re going to see, it’s almost as if the fail­ure to pass Trump­care only increased the resolve of Amer­i­ca’s right-wing oli­garchs to final­ly pass leg­is­la­tion that’s even more polit­i­cal­ly awful than Trump­care. But as we’re also going to see, even if the tax cuts turn into a polit­i­cal dis­as­ter for the GOP that will still be fine for the GOP as long as the pub­lic for­gets to remem­ber that we’ve been here before.


FTR #983 Fascism, 2017 World Tour, Part 2

As the title indi­cates, this pro­gram exam­ines man­i­fes­ta­tions of fas­cism around the world.

In Europe, we ana­lyze:

1.-The reca­pit­u­la­tion of Nazi and fas­cist ele­ments in the cur­rent Bul­gar­i­an coali­tion gov­ern­ment of Boyko Borisov. (Bul­gar­ia was a Nazi ally in World War II.)
2.-The vital­i­ty of “regionalism”–a political/economic doc­trine that advo­cates the seces­sion of key pros­per­ous regions from nation states.
3.-Analysis of region­al­ism as an appli­ca­tion of glob­al­ist eco­nom­ic the­o­ry to Euorope.
4.-The his­to­ry of regionalism’s advoa­cy by Third Reich vet­er­an the­o­reti­cians.
5.-Edward Snow­den and Julian Assange’s sup­port for Cata­lan seces­sion from Spain.
6.-The suc­cess of the AfD in Ger­man elec­tions.
7.-AfD politi­cian Alexan­der Gauland’s state­ment that Ger­mans should be proud of what that country’s sol­diers accom­plished in World War II.
8.-The Aus­tri­an Free­dom Party’s pro­ject­ed suc­cess in upcom­ing elec­tions. The par­ty was formed in 1956 by Third Reich vet­er­ans as a vehi­cle for re-intro­duc­ing Aus­tri­an Nazis into the country’s polit­i­cal life.

In Latin Amer­i­ca, we exam­ine:

1.-The ver­dict that Argen­tine AMIA bomb­ing inves­ti­ga­tor Alber­to Nisman’s death was a mur­der, not a sui­cide.
2.-Review of the AMIA bomb­ing inves­ti­ga­tion.
3.-The dis­cov­ery of a cache of Nazi arti­facts, includ­ing devices used for deter­min­ing racial puri­ty. Hitler appar­ent­ly posed with some of the arti­fi­cats.
4.-The role of Nisman’s wid­ow as the judge inves­ti­gat­ing the Nazi arti­fact case.
5.-Operational links between Amer­i­can Nazi Christo­pher Cantwell and the Koch Broth­ers-fund­ed Lud­wig Von Mis­es Insti­tute in Brazil.

In the Unit­ed States, we detail:

1.-How Bre­it­bart active­ly pro­mot­ed Neo-Nazism, while down­play­ing what it was actu­al­ly doing.
2.-How white suprema­cist and Nazi ele­ments are suc­cess­ful­ly using YouTube to main­stream fas­cist and racist views.

In the Mid­dle East, we high­light:

1.-Benjamin Netanyahu’s polit­i­cal con­nec­tions with the Thyssen/Krupp firm, one of the lynch­pins of the Bor­mann cap­i­tal net­work.
2.-Yair Netanyahu’s attri­bu­tion of his father’s polit­i­cal dif­fi­cul­ties to sab­o­tage by an inter­na­tion­al Jew­ish con­spir­a­cy.
3.-Ronald Regan’s 1981 cita­tion of Ibn Khal­dun as a key advo­cate for sup­ply-side eco­nom­ics.
4.-Review of the Mus­lim Brotherhood’s embrace of the views of Ibn Khal­dun.


The New World Ordoliberalism, Part 7: To QE, or Not to QE, That is the Ominous Question

As the Euro­pean Cen­tral Bank (ECB) con­tin­ues to wres­tle with the deci­sion of when and how quick­ly to wind down its quan­ti­ta­tive eas­ing (QE) pro­gram while infla­tion remains stub­born­ly below the 2 per­cent tar­get and like­ly to stay well below 2 per­cent for the fore­see­able future, it’s worth not­ing that there’s a new night­mare to add to the equa­tion: The euro has surged in val­ue this year, a move that not only depress­es exports in recov­ery economies like Spain and Por­tu­gal but also depress­es infla­tion. And one of the things hold­ing down the val­ue of the euro is the ECB’s QE pro­gram. So if the ECB tapers off the QE too ear­ly and quick­ly it’s going to make an over­ly-strong euro even stronger while drag­ging infla­tion even low­er, poten­tial­ly derail­ing frag­ile recov­er­ies in the aus­ter­i­ty-inflict­ed mem­ber states. And that means not send­ing the wrong sig­nals is a key goal of the ECB is things are going to go smooth­ly. Guess which sig­nals are being sent.


Guess What? Grandma is Moving In. She’s Got Medical Bills. Maybe to Share. It’s Medicaid Brought to You by Kochcare.

Is kick­ing senior cit­i­zens out of nurs­ing homes good pol­i­tics? That’s a ques­tion GOP ask­ing itself these days. One of many ques­tions relat­ed to the pol­i­tics of health care. Although not many are ask­ing it since the pub­lic large­ly has no idea the ques­tion is being asked at all as recent polls show. With the Sen­ate’s ver­sion of ‘Trump­care’ final­ly released to the pub­lic, we’re now learn­ing that, yes, the GOP appears to think kick­ing seniors out their nurs­ing homes is good pol­i­tics. Because trans­fer­ring Med­ic­aid costs to states and indi­vid­u­als has been a key GOP goal of Trump­care’s con­gres­sion­al authors the entire time and nurs­ing homes are paid for by Med­ic­aid for the vast major­i­ty of peo­ple. So in addi­tion to the many pro­found moral ques­tions raised by the GOP’s health care ‘reform’ plans, a grow­ing num­ber of pro­found polit­i­cal ques­tions are being raised the more we learn about Trump­care as it takes form. Includ­ing whether or not putting nurs­ing home cov­er­age on a fis­cal death spi­ral makes for good pol­i­tics. Granny would prob­a­bly say ‘no’, but she’s got com­pe­ti­tion.


Trumplandian Feudalism: Employ the Unemployed While Still Starving Them

Did Trump sud­den­ly drop his oft-repeat­ed crit­i­cism of tra­di­tion unem­ploy­ment report­ing and asser­tions that in real­i­ty its 42 per­cent and 94 mil­lion Amer­i­can adults are out of work? Well, as we’re going to see, prob­a­bly not because his admin­is­tra­tion is still plan­ning on redefin­ing the “offi­cial” unem­ploy­ment rate to be much “loos­er” and his claims that 42 per­cent if Amer­i­can adults are out of work are nec­es­sary to achieve a long-held GOP goal cham­pi­oned by House Speak­er Paul Ryan: con­vert­ing the US safe­ty-net — includ­ing Medicare, Med­ic­aid, and Social Secu­ri­ty — into a “work for a pit­tance to get a pit­tance of gov­ern­ment support”-net that traps the poor in sys­tem where if you have to find full time work to get any help at all. Maybe even for the elder­ly. And the help you get in return for that work-require­ment will keep shrink­ing year after year. It’s a plan that can’t hap­pen unless almost all non-work­ing adults are defined as “unem­ployed”. So, no, Trump did­n’t change his mind. He just still thinks we’re all stu­pid (maybe).


Killing Granny: The GOP’s “One Size Fits All” Death Panel for Health Care

Change is com­ing to Wash­ing­ton DC. Most­ly hor­ri­ble changes. But as we’ll see in this post, there is one very sig­nif­i­cant and pos­i­tive change com­ing as a con­se­quence of the uni­fied GOP con­trol of the White House and Con­gress: GOP is actu­al­ly going to start get­ting the blame it deserves for all the dam­age its pro-oli­garch/an­ti-every­one-else agen­da rou­tine­ly inflicts upon the Amer­i­can peo­ple. Pol­i­tics can be frus­trat­ing for a myr­i­ad of rea­sons, but one of the biggest sources of frus­tra­tion is the cloud of per­pet­u­al obfus­ca­tion and con­fu­sion that tends to per­me­ate the polit­i­cal dis­course and col­lec­tive under­stand­ing of what’s actu­al­ly hap­pen­ing, why it’s hap­pen­ing, and who should be reward­ed or blamed for it. But for the next cou­ple of years, at a min­i­mum, it’s going to be very clear who to blame for the dam­age DC is about to unleash, and it’s not just going to be Don­ald Trump. And when it comes to health care “reform” (pri­va­ti­za­tion) that the GOP is about to impose upon the pop­u­lace, that blame is about to get dan­ger­ous­ly dif­fu­sive for state leg­is­la­tures and gov­er­nor­ships because the Health Care Aus­ter­i­ty Hot Pota­to is about to get tossed in their laps over and over. Indef­i­nite­ly. And since the GOP con­trols almost all state leg­is­la­tures and gov­er­nor­ships at the moment they won’t be able to pre­vent them­selves from slash­ing these pro­grams. So with the com­ing block grant­i­ng of first Med­ic­aid and then Medicare (or maybe both togeth­er), the pol­i­tics of health care is about to get weird. And trag­ic because the GOP won’t be able to help itself with all the aus­ter­i­ty


The New World Ordoliberalism Part 6: The QE Taper Caper and the Portuguese Squeeze

In this chap­ter of our explo­ration of what’s wrong with the euro­zone we’re going to take a look at the evolv­ing nature of the Euro­pean Cen­tral Bank’s (ECB’s) quan­ti­ta­tive eas­ing (QE) pro­gram. Specif­i­cal­ly, how the QE pro­gram was fac­ing a set of obsta­cles that was going to require some tweak­ing to the pro­gram and how the solu­tion to the obsta­cle was to basi­cal­ly choose the tweaks that harmed the weak, in par­tic­u­lar Por­tu­gal. In favor of Ger­many, of course. Keep in mind that Por­tu­gal recent­ly formed a left-wing anti-aus­ter­i­ty gov­ern­ment and has done rel­a­tive­ly eco­nom­i­cal­ly well since com­ing into pow­er . Also keep in mind that Por­tu­gal is one of the few euro­zone nations not fac­ing a ris­ing far-right “pop­ulist” move­ment as a response to its harsh aus­ter­i­ty pro­gram. So you might say the tim­ing is “right” for some pref­er­en­tial treat­ment of Por­tu­gal. Pref­er­en­tial­ly bad treat­ment.


Krugmenistan vs the Permahawks

Lift Off! That was the announce­ment by the Fed­er­al Reserve this week when the world’s biggest and most influ­en­tial cen­tral bank start­ed the long await­ed rais­ing of its bench­mark short-term rate a quar­ter point from near-zero lev­els, mark­ing the first time the Fed has raised rates since 2006. It was big news, except this rate hike was telegraphed for quite a while now and vir­tu­al­ly every­one was expect­ing the Fed to do exact­ly what it did, so it’s not as big as it could have been. If the Fed had decid­ed not to raise rates, despite all the telegraph­ing, that prob­a­bly would have been a big­ger sto­ry. But would it have been a bad sto­ry if the Fed decid­ed to keep rates at their cur­rent near-zero lev­els? There’s a big debate in the eco­nom­ic com­mu­ni­ty over that. And it’s a debate that pits pru­dent econ­o­mists with excel­lent track-records like Paul Krug­man, some­one who opposed the Fed’s Decem­ber “lift off” deci­sion, against the broad array of “per­ma­hawks”. But it’s not just the ques­tion with respect to Fed. The Euro­pean Cen­tral Bank made a pol­i­cy announce­ment this month too regard­ing its stim­u­lus mea­sure and it was indeed rather sur­pris­ing. And as we’re also going to see in this post, it was sur­pris­ing in the way that just might have done seri­ous dam­age to not just the cred­i­bil­i­ty of ECB Pres­i­dent Mario Draghi but the ECB itself. Or at least cred­i­bil­i­ty in the ECB’s com­mit­ment to its sin­gle man­date of keep­ing infla­tion hov­er­ing around 2 per­cent.

To pla­cate per­ma­hawks (to main­tain cred­i­bil­i­ty) or not pla­cate the per­ma­hawks (to main­tain cred­i­bil­i­ty)? That is the ques­tion. Or at least one of the ques­tions cen­tral banks face. Unfor­tu­nate­ly.


Recommended Reading

Zen at War by Brian Victoria; Penetrating look at the close relationship that existed between Zen Buddhism and Japanese militarism prior to World War II. Read more »