Debt and the Great Deprivation

by Jeanne Haskin

When all our political swill has us struggle to pay the bills
It’s unsurprising how the consensus lets greed remain relentless
But strange that your free enterprise is publicly subsidized
So serenely egotistical, proper, painless and principled
For you it’s not difficult to return to business as usual
We’re hurting, you think you’re invincible
By all means feed at the trough, but don’t lecture me on core values

Without the efforts of Senator Sanders, it is unlikely that the presidential election of 2016 would have been so adamantly focused on income inequality. This does not mean that our government is not obsessive regarding our debt and household income. To name just a few of the agencies that collect, analyze, and distribute information on what Americans owe, earn, how they spend their earnings, and what they own in terms of assets, the government relies on the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Bureau of Economic Statistics, the National Census, data from the I.R.S., and reports from the private sector. This tells us that employment demographics, consumer debt and disposable income (or what we have left after taxes) are all important considerations in the matter of taxation. In short, the government decides how much money we should have to manage our household budgets.
This is also true at the state level. Aside from income tax (which is not levied in all states), state legislators can levy excise taxes on everything from vehicles to consumer goods to groceries.
Put differently, both state and federal governments compete with the private sector for a share of our household budgets, including our household debt. The point being that, however it accrued, the national debt is our debt.

Restructuring the Debt to Value Ratio

The issue of economic leveraging, or how much debt a household can hold while still remaining solvent, is dependent on the worth of assets and income, both of which can increase or decrease in proportion to the level of debt. A high demand for assets, such as homes and rental properties, tends to increase their worth. This encourages more borrowing, whether consumers upgrade to more expensive homes or take out equity loans for home improvements or other spending. At the same time, an overheated market, or economic bubble, can not be sustained forever. As soon as the bubble bursts, assets plunge in value and real property owners may owe more than their homes are worth. High interest rates and a recessionary environment will encourage pay squeezes and layoffs, downsizing, and disinvestment as both businesses and households are forced to make do with less. In other words, market-driven inflation is a temporary valuation. The higher the inflationary boom, the more crushing the market correction. This is the long-term cost of buying into the illusion of growth.

The Subprime Mortgage Meltdown

The market bubble that burst between 2008 and 2009 was based on more illusion than demand-driven inflation. In the first case, mortgage lenders tapped every possible customer by both relaxing lending standards and faking supportive documents. In the second case, stock market brokers exhausted their imaginations in creating new investment vehicles based on the subprime mortgages. At the farthest end of the spectrum, investments weren’t even directly linked to the mortgages but tied instead to the Price Index. In the third case, the nation’s top credit rating agencies colluded with the banks and stock brokers to issue falsely positive ratings on blatantly toxic assets. This allowed stock brokers to sell to hedge funds, which are typically viewed as the safest investment vehicles (particularly for retirement purposes) because they can only invest in top-rated securities. Above all, it was a party that no one wanted to end because banks and brokerages wished to maximize their earnings. They also had a very real need to unload their toxic assets before the music stopped. Only then could they bet on the downside as well as the upside of the stock market. In practice, the brokerages and banks ended up stuck with what they churned out.
If not for the intervention of the government and the Federal Reserve, which not only backed, repackaged, and remarketed the toxic securities but also dropped interest rates to zero in order to discourage saving in favor of investment in the stock market, the banks would have had to sell at a loss, if they could have sold at all. By then, many teetered on the brink of insolvency. For its part, Lehman Brothers could not have been saved by any means.
By bailing out the banks, the Federal Reserve restored confidence in the market, but in doing so it assumed a dual mandate. Once it got the stock market moving, it engaged in a policy of “quantitative easing,” which means that it bought Treasuries and other securities to free up more money for bank lending (without printing bank notes). It also issued $2.6 trillion in zero-interest loans to banks that didn’t even touch the money. Instead they opted to leave it on the books of the Fed, thereby demonstrating that behavioral economics (providing monetary incentives and economic disincentives) is not always successful in terms of government goals. In this case, the bankers sat out the Great Recession, only after which they began ultra-selective lending. As for the other half of its mandate, the Fed hoped to blunt the effects of the Great Recession with a corresponding growth in wages. The point after deflation that wiped out value for homeowners, retirees, smalltime investors and small businesses was to induce a targeted 2% inflation in wages, a figure that seemed safe enough that the Federal Reserve held steady at zero interest until the end of 2015. But just as the bankers refused to lend, there was little movement in wages.

Inflating Our Way Out of Debt

Obviously, re-inflating the economy to achieve a lower ratio of National Debt to GDP (Gross Domestic Product) would make holding our National Debt seem less risky in the eyes of creditors. Insofar as the U.S. is largely a paper economy, re-inflating the stock market became the number one priority.
But by late 2015, some market analysts gauged stocks to be overvalued by 70%. And since the banks were not lending, the shadow banking sector (comprised of non-bank commercial lenders) grew in leaps and bounds. Households took on more debt through the shadow banking system until the same practices of relaxed and even fraudulent lending standards that led to the subprime mortgage meltdown of 2008-2009 became prevalent once more.
Since many borrowers, who were tapped out by the Great Recession, became more indebted just to stay afloat, the obvious implication is that homeowners, retirees, smalltime investors and small businesses are about to get burned again. This is not only a matter of market correction. It is the Republican agenda.
Forgetting for the sake of convenience that both National Debt and household debt were necessary and instrumental to economic recovery (and not just in America but all across the world) Republicans now insist that the Fed overstepped its bounds. They seek Congressional control of the Fed through audits and policy input. They are also pressuring the Fed to raise interest rates, which would reinstate deflation. Accordingly, the increased National Debt that ended the Great Recession would assume true crisis proportions in its ratio to GDP. So, too, would household debt in proportion to household income. In short, the imperative to rein in fiscal policy and reduce the National Debt will no longer be a matter of Republican ideology.

How, Then, Can We Be Self-sustaining?

Like it or not, our economy is dominated by Wall Street. Banks and brokerage firms were literally forced to merge during the government bailout as a matter of our country’s economic survival. Those who insist that we need to break up the banks may be understandably angry about the burden it placed on taxpayers, but as of now, with the loans made by the Fed, the banks are in no way near insolvent. They have tightened their criteria for lending and become so selective that only the wealthiest and most stable entities remain viable clients.
The issue for the next president will not be saving the major banks but the shadow banking system. Having admitted during their surge of growth that the non-bank commercial lenders were frantically driving the pace for expansion, their hope of government invention once their own pool of toxic assets goes belly up is not based on “too big to fail” but “too big to be ignored.”
In that event, the government can’t hope to offer a bailout, not with all the residual anger over the last bailout and certainly not with the furor over our National Debt. This means that the burden for saving the system will likely be borne by consumers. Large-scale liquidation would be the obvious answer, and judging by the precedent set by the banking system, all manner of shady practices (such as alleging that a customer can skip a payment without repercussions and then foreclosing on the loan or offering terms of refinance that are rigged to trigger default) are bound to come into practice. Too, Congress may elect to restructure the bankruptcy laws, as it did in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, to ensure that fewer people are eligible for protection. In that event, consumers will lose their assets as well as their credit ratings. In the long term, the damage might be much worse. They could lose their jobs in the market downturn and join the ranks of the unemployed.

The No-Mans Land of Long-Term Unemployment

It is generally accepted that unemployment near or at 5% is healthy for the market. On the one hand, it provides a reserve pool of labor that remains fairly consistent. On the other hand, it doesn’t tighten demand to cause an increase in wages.
Unfortunately, this sweet-spot of 5% unemployment has changed from a transitional state, where workers cycle in and out of jobs, to one of relative permanency for the long-term unemployed. Potential employers who base their hiring decisions on uninterrupted work histories and favorable credit scores have consigned the long-term unemployed to a virtual no-mans land. Their unemployment benefits can either expire or be ended. New regulations get people off the rolls by requiring participation in job-training programs which are known not to exist. Republicans who were reluctant to re-fund unemployment, even at reduced levels, under President Obama may seize the opportunity to end the program completely.
Too, the unemployment statistics do not report the under-employed and those employed at poverty wages.

Shifting the Burden onto the States

In the worst-case scenario, the long-term unemployed and chronically under-employed become dependent on the state. They may have to rely on Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), food stamps (SNAP benefits), their state’s Medicaid program, or private charities and food banks. The danger to beneficiaries is that these programs are also on shaky ground.
In states where governors tout the benefits of free-market “solutions,” they either slash funding and benefit levels for social programs of last resort or apply a cynical calculus to payments and eligibility. In 2015, Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, who gave businesses huge tax breaks, cut funding for food banks just in time for Christmas. Some lawmakers even pass legislation to prohibit people from feeding the homeless in public. Where they do not, the private sector can raise rents on charities to stop them from feeding the poor.

Financial Stress and Suicide

The so-called “ennobling of the poor” (or forcing them to work) may sound like a lofty ideal to legislators. In reality, it is a visceral attack on society’s most vulnerable. Forced to turn to a job market that doesn’t even want them, it is no wonder that suicide statistics have been climbing in proportion. The last is not just an American issue. Nations all over the globe suffer the same problem.
In response to criticism, The IMF (International Monetary Fund) has finally conceded that its “made-in-America” neoliberal prescription for restructuring client economies has increased income inequality while providing financial windfalls for society’s richest people. As an institution that has its nose in every country’s business, the IMF’s first response to criticism was to recommend stop-gap measures for the poor in debtor countries. However, these measures were impossible to fulfill, since they ran against the grain of economic restructuring and were not, in any way, funded.

Other Punitive Measures

The reactions of county governments to citizens who try to be self-sufficient are not always favorable. A man was arrested and sentenced to prison for simply collecting rainwater. A couple was ordered to remove the garden that occupied their front lawn. As for two separate men who lived completely off the grid, their homes were considered unsafe for lack of city utilities. These men faced eviction once their homes were condemned.
In Los Angeles, the city reacted to the construction of tiny homes for the homeless by declaring them “bulky” constructs for immediate confiscation.

Political Economics

The issue of political economics brings us back to demographics. The persistence of redistricting and gerrymandering has allowed both Democrats and Republicans to excise needy communities and keep them isolated. If the Tea Party had its way, non-homeowners would not be able to vote. Now Republicans are insisting that the poor should have no vote. Republicans also oppose early voting, claiming that it allows the poor to vote in large numbers. Republicans further insist that people should pay to vote if it is necessary to keep the polling stations open after hours.
In the 2016 presidential primaries, illegal shenanigans at the polls included purging eligible voters and infrequent voters, limiting voting opportunities to registered Republicans only, misdirection of voters and obfuscation of the voting process. In the state of California, where Hillary Clinton presumably won the primary, nearly three million provisional ballots still remain uncounted. For that matter, Senator Sanders has been shafted at every turn.
Under DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Sanders was cut off from using the DNC’s registered voter list for accidentally accessing Hillary Clinton’s campaign voter list. Wasserman Schultz also stated that the reason we have superdelegates is to prevent establishment candidates from being challenged at the grass-roots level. Finally, there has been all but a full media blackout wherever Sanders has campaigned.

Reducing the Rolls through Incarceration

The Alabama police recently admitted that they specifically targeted blacks by planting incriminating evidence to result in prison terms.
Although President Obama is pressuring the states to restore voting rights to non-violent felons who have already served their time and Virginia has actually done so, the overall trend is not just to incarcerate the poor but to keep them incarcerated or send them back to prison via unpaid fines and fees for services. It is no longer true that every indigent facing trial has the right to a public defender. With the de-funding of the justice system, all costs, including appearance in court, must be borne by the offender.
So, too, the maxim of “innocent until proven guilty” becomes a meaningless phrase. Since the offender bears the financial burden of facing the court system, he or she is penalized up front, regardless of guilt or innocence. It also means that innocent people lacking representation often go to prison. Because they are indigent in the first place, the burden for keeping family members out of prison has fallen disproportionately on women.
In states that “service” private prisons, contracts require them to maintain full occupancy and/or a prisoner quota.
In other words, criminalization is now market-driven. And because the market has no place for the disadvantaged, there was, in at least one prison, an involuntary sterilization program targeting poor women.

Social Engineering

The full implication regarding the disadvantaged is that once they are down and out, the collusion of market and government will either ensure they stay that way or fall into deeper distress. Those who are eligible for food stamps (SNAP benefits) receive debit cards and have their spending allotments reduced because the banks take their cut with every financial transaction. Nor are food stamps exempt from excise taxes.
It is doubtful, however, that food stamps will survive the next administration, since the Republicans have proved quite willing to end school lunch programs for poor children. It is also a myth that this would disproportionately affect minorities. In fact the largest percentage of food stamp recipients consists of poor white families.
There is no reason to believe that Veterans benefits and Social Security would not be slashed in turn. Lastly, Republicans are committed to repealing the Affordable Care Act by any and all means.

Religion and Morality or Meek and Docile Constituents?

President Obama’s commitment to funding preschool education and encouraging college participation are not Republican goals. Republicans would prefer to abolish the Department of Education. Their determination to replace the nation’s core curricula with educational agendas more suited to evangelism have already played out in states such as Maine, under Governor Paul LePage. His appointed Commissioner of Education is biased toward Creationism.
Too, Republicans seem enamored with revisionism. From claiming that blacks were better off during slavery to refusing to read the portion of the Constitution that portrays blacks as less than full persons, these acts are predictive of other changes in education. In Texas, for example, a school text book referred to slaves as migrant “workers,” which presumably is the place reserved for blacks in a Republican-controlled future, once illegal immigrants are expelled from the country.
In the most forward-looking sense, the insistence that America is a Christian nation is predictive of persecution, whether it manifests in a “sin” tax for people of alternate religions or non-hiring of non-Christians. If onerous and pervasive, such developments would result in forced conversions or religion-based territorial cleansing.

The Danger of Ruling through Disincentives

Because we live in a world that is constantly manipulated by behavioral economics, we must understand that no nation has ever avoided revolution by ruling through disincentives. Yet cutting everything possible in the name of Republican ethos is just what Republicans mean to do. To paraphrase the words of House Speaker Paul Ryan, the Republican Party is more important than the United States of America.
This is where neoliberalism gives way to neoconservatism, and the latter will be much worse.
It implies, on the one hand, that Republicans would willingly sabotage our government both politically and economically. On the other hand, the majority of Republicans have overtly stated that they would welcome a military coup before they would allow another Democrat to become President.
The precedent for this is the Iraqi Provisional Government headed by Paul Bremer.
At worst, Republicans would plunge the entire world in a period of voluntary contraction that I have called The Great Deprivation. At best, Republicans would have us align our expectations with policy failure in Iraq. The idea that there could be a different outcome on Republican terms and conditions is pure fantasy run amok.

Vassalage of the Middle East and Europe

You don’t really need inside info to see that the game is over and that there is an understanding between the Russians and the Americans. Remember: the first sign was the setup of Erdogan in the shooting of SU-24, which removed Turkey as a player and made possible an alliance between the “good” Kurds and the Russians, next to the US and the other Kurds. I think one of the main objectives was to weaken Turkey, maybe dismember it, through the creation of Kurdistan, done in concert by the two powers. Then it will come the time to deal with Israel and the Saudis.

The rest is just more or less theater.

In other words, the vassalage of the entire ME should be complete. We don’t know the full spectrum yet. What we see is that Syria and Iran (maybe Iraq) are now subservient to the Russians. Turkey cannot continue as an independent power, neither Israel or the Saudis. The new world order means a new re-division of the vassalage in the new world.

Of course, anybody can see, that’s what the conflict between the big powers is all about.

In this game the bad guys are only the so-called independents. First, it was Ceausescu of Romania, who was big on national sovereignty and independence. Then Milosevic, and the fiercely independent Serbs. Then the independent Saddam of Iraq, then the independent Gaddafi of Libya. When it came to Iran and Syria, it became clear that if they don’t swear allegiance to one or the other, they will perish. They called Russia for protection just in time, before too late.

We see the new vassalage structure emerging.

Syria is a small prize for Russia, a bit more than Granada was for Reagan. Russia is in the business of taking over control over the Western Europe and the gas lines from Qatar were a nuisance, they had to be stopped in the tracks. The battle for the last 70 years was/is over the sovereignty over Europe, and I believe it is inescapable in the hands of Russia for many reasons. I could point you to an interesting book written in 1992. Next time.
Ship Carrying Over 11 Tons Of Low-Enriched Uranium Leaves Iran For Russia.
So Iran is no longer an independent nation. Too bad, but true. Once this issue of the nuclear weapons is done with, I would be looking to see the other shoe drop, i.e. the Israeli question should be in the focus, and its nuclear weapons be dealt with, in some way. That’s how I read the writing on the wall.

Kissinger Delivered a Plan for a New World Order to Putin

To respond to some questions in the comments regarding my post about Kissinger visiting Putin, we now have a better idea:

Kissinger Delivered a Plan for a New World Order to Putin

What was pure speculation on my part at the time, proves to have been correct. In 2012 Kissinger indeed gave Putin the ultimatum: “On January 20th 2012, he arrived in Moscow to give Vladimir Putin an ultimatum and ‘friendly advice’ not to run again for President of Russia. Because otherwise the U.S. will grind Russia into powder: ‘the third term of Vladimir Putin, this is a war that Russia will lose’.”

This year, Henry Kissinger “did not ignore Ukraine, which, in his opinion should become a bridge between Russia and the West, and not an outpost of one of the parties.” Same for Syria. A softening of his previous ultimatum.

And what did Putin say? He might have said he’d think about making “Alaska a ‘bridge’ between Russia and America”.

War or no War?

The more I think about the pros and cons of the possibility of an upcoming World War 3, the more I see that this year is crucial, as far as the elections in the US.

The war parties, Hillary for the Democrats and Jeb/Marco for Republicans, have already been voted out by the American Supreme Elite Council. However, the war parties still control enough ammunition to derail the peace process, that’s why Russia has a General waiting in the wings, if needed to replace Putin.

But for now, Sanders and Trump are anointed to continue in the open what Obama started by playing a double game. This conclusion is supported by the major American pull-back from confrontation at every critical juncture under the Obama administration’s duplicity.

Without Obama’s soft retreat at every head-on war buildup moment, Russia’s bold offensives and reversals of the odds could not have been possible.

Is Russia’s next President a War General?

To me this is further evidence of more serious war preparations against Russia are on the table. No kidding.
Real war is coming. If one checks the MSM headlines of the last few weeks, it is quite obvious that the West’s is setting up the media campaign for the upcoming confrontation. Level heads should be aware of the political costs incurred by the Russians in order to provide the Syrian people with victories on the battlefield and I very much hope that the Russians will not run short of their resources and calculated moves.
See the Western headlines for yourself:


1. RFE/RL: ‘I Love Russia. I Am A Patriot:’ Pussy Riot Strikes At Prosecutor.
2. New York Times: Pussy Riot Video Mocks Russian Prosecutor Accused of Corruption.

3. RFE/RL: U.S. Senator Predicts Revelations Of Putin’s Wealth Will Destabilize His Rule.

4. International New York Times: Masha Gessen, Russian Banks, Lies and Emojis.

5. The Guardian (UK): Timothy Garton Ash, Putin must be stopped. And sometimes only guns can stop guns. The time for diplomacy will come again, but it is not now: Ukraine urgently needs military support, and a counter to Russian propaganda.
6. The Independent (UK): Joan Smith, President Putin is a dangerous psychopath – reason is not going to work with him. A secret war in Ukraine, murder in London, incursions into others’ airspace. His behaviour is getting worse.

7. Maclean’s (Canada): Michael Petrou, How Litvinenko’s poisoning fits into Putin’s power play. Everything Vladimir Putin has done to reassert Russian power has seemed farfetched, outlandish and inconceivable-until he did it

8. BBC: World War Three: Inside the War Room. (Video)
9. Washington Times: Russia could overrun Baltics in 3 days. NATO forces would face severe casualties.

11. Wall Street Journal editorial: A NATO Message for Mr. Putin. A new combat brigade could deter ‘a little green men’ incursion.

12. The National Interest: America Reveals ‘Great Power’ Plans Against Russia and China.

13. Reuters: William Pomeranz, A whiff of panic in the Kremlin as Russia’s economy sinks further.

14. The New Yorker: Masha Lipman, Putin’s Shaky Tsardom. With Russia’s political environment growing more chaotic, just how much is Putin in control?
15. Carnegie Moscow Center/ Andrei Kolesnikov, By Bread Alone: Why Poor Russians Aren’t Protesting.
16. Pakistan Observer: Alexander J. Motyl, PUTIN IS STEERING RUSSIA TO COLLAPSE.

17. Bloomberg: Can Russia Be More Miserable? Judging by Oil, the Answer Is Yes. Combining inflation and unemployment, Russia is among the world’s unhappiest economies.

18. Paul Goble: Why Germans Supported Hitler to the End and Why Russians May Do the Same with Putin.

19. Moscow Times: What Do Russians Really Think? The Truth Behind the Polls.
20. Hannah Thoburn, For Putin, For Stalin. Fearful of unrest, Russia’s president is using the memory of Stalin to exhort his people to sacrifice.
21. Carnegie Europe: Judy Dempsey, Russia’s Manipulation of Germany’s Refugee Problems.

22. The Daily Telegraph (UK): Russia accused of clandestine funding of European parties as US conducts major review of Vladimir Putin’s strategy. Exclusive: UK warns of “new Cold War” as Kremlin seeks to divide and rule in Europe.
23. Human Rights Watch: Human Rights Violations in Russia’s North Caucasus.

24. Deutsche Welle: Dirty propaganda wars in Russia. Mud sticks – that’s why politicians love to throw it at their opponents. But in Russia it’s become an art form with TV programs making allegations to discredit government critics. Fiona Clark reports from Moscow.

25. Anna Nemetsova, How Putin created a monster in Chechnya. A crazed Chechen leader, once a Putin favorite, is embarrassing the Kremlin by threatening everyone.
26. Alexander Baunov, More Putin than Putin. Ramzan Kadyrov Tries to Take Center Stage.

27. Moskovskiy Komsomolets: Putin criticised for “inaction” over Kadyrov’s attacks on opposition. (Mikhail Rostovskiy)
28. Kennan Institute: Maxim Trudolyubov, Russia’s Got Talent: Kadyrov’s Electoral Politics.

29. New York Times: Maxim Trudolyubov, More Than a War of Words.

30. Eleonora Zbanke, Russia’s year of cinema, or a return to silent films. In Russia, 2016 has been designated the Year of Cinema. But any new films are likely to be ‘silent’, lacking any voice of their own.

31. The Diplomat: Quentin Buchholz, Russia and Climate Change: A Looming Threat. Recent rhetoric notwithstanding, there is reason to be skeptical about Moscow’s attitude to climate change.

32. Paul Goble: Putin Using Specter of Russia’s Disintegration to Avoid Reform, Rogov Says.

33. The American Interest: Lilia Shevtsova, HOW THE WEST MISJUDGED RUSSIA. What Do the Normativists Stand For?

34. The Wilson Quarterly: Jill Dougherty, PUTIN’S HARD/SOFT STRATEGY. The unpredictability of Vladimir Putin’s “hard” and “soft” sides constantly confound the West, but his approach has an internal logic of its own.
35. New York Times: Railing Against Graft, a Georgian Leads Calls for a Cleanup in Ukraine.

*  *  *

Putin is vilified today, but Putin is coming from the soft arm of the military/defense complex – the intelligence. If Russia goes for an Army General as the next President, then the real hard power is prepared to be deployed. Putin is a softie (like a holstered pistol) by comparison to the heavy fire coming from the big guns, to be used next.

Maj. Gen. Aleksey Dyumin–Russia’s next President ?

Non-governmental media are confident that Putin has designated his successor, and announced the beginning of a grandiose special operation whose results will become evident in 2018.

State media dry announcements concerning the nomination of Aleksey Dyumin to the post of the Tula Region are interspersed with conspiracy theory-laden interpretations by the “free media” suggesting that the process of advancing Putin’s successor to the post of president has begun.
Even though the next presidential election is still more than two years away, the law permits the current president to serve one more term, and so far there are no indications Putin would not run again, the theme of Putin’s successor is already the subject of guessing games in both Russia and the rest of the world
Why did the nomination of an ordinary governor cause such widespread reaction, especially among the so-called opposition?
It can be explained by one thing only: Aleksey Dyumin is one of the most trusted individuals in the president’s entourage, someone whom Putin trusted with his own life more than once.
Dyumin, moreover, has a range of out of the ordinary abilities which he acquired and honed during his career in the Federal Protection Service and the Ministry of Defense. It is he who commanded the Crimea operation, who saved Yanukovych, he enjoys the highest degree of respect within the armed forces, and moreover he is young and full of vigor. His meteoric career is nothing short of exceptional.
There was only one “but” which spoils the otherwise ideal picture, the absence of serious civilian experience. Though one should note that Russian generals, as a rule, found themselves just fine in civilian professions, they usually turn out to be good managers and the most outstanding governors.

According to the well-known Russian journalist Sergey Dorenko, Dyumin’s nomination to the Tula governorship will help him acquire the necessary experience.
The major general who commanded Russian special operations forces is also a well-known figure in the West, which definitely wouldn’t want to have to deal with a Russian president who is also the general who carried out the brilliant Crimea operation.
They couldn’t cope with a KGB lieutenant colonel, and now there is a general on the horizon.
Naturally, so far these are only guesses plus a simple juxtaposition of facts. There are no official comments on this topic and there cannot be, but the flywheel of Western propaganda is acquiring momentum and the topic of Russia’s 2018 presidential elections is starting to make headlines.

Congress to reverse its stand on Ukraine?

By Andrej Kreutz

Adjunct Professor, University of Calgary

Affiliated Expert, European Geopolitical Forum

During the last year, on December 4, 2014 and on March 24, 2015, the US Congress adopted two resolutions very hostile to Russia. The well-known former Republican Congressmen Ron Paul called the first of them, H.Res.758, a declaration of war on Russia and “one of the worst pieces of legislation ever.”1 The second resolution, which was adopted on March 24, shortly after the conclusion of the Minsk-2 Agreement, calls for arming Ukraine, and according to the Ron Paul Institute it made clear that, “Congress wants a war in Ukraine and will not settle for a ceasefire.”2

As both resolutions are constitutionally not binding and the Presidential administration does not have to implement them, they do not represent a direct threat. However, they are still important and significant political statements and, I believe, what is most worrisome is that the Congress in fact followed the general mood prevailing in the country, which is shared not only by the ruling elites and special interest groups, but also by the majority of Americans. According to the recent Gallup public opinion poll, most of them perceive the Russian Federation as the major national threat, worse than North Korea, China, or Iran.

That would mean that any broad-based peace movement (like others in American history, which have sometimes even been effective) would be quite difficult or perhaps impossible to set in motion. The public opinion of the country is now largely formatted by PR efforts, and due to a number of causes — including the decline of the traditional well-educated and politically-involved middle class, and the perfection of the means of social and political influence, including stricter control of the school and university curriculum — the chances of creating a social movement on the pattern of the 1950s and 1960s are very low.

At the same time, I do not want to say that public opinion is no longer important. Andrew Korybko rightly indicates that the deep state is far more important in the American foreign policy-making process than elected officials, and in fact a similar situation also prevails in many other traditionally liberal-democratic nations. However, even authoritarian governments have to take into account the social mood in their countries, and some social groups are far more influential than others.

The Russian Federation does not currently threaten any important US interests, and cooperation with Moscow as a more or less equal, or at least tolerated, partner might be quite advantageous for Washington in Asia, the Middle East, and even in Europe. If a wide-scale public mobilization is not in the cards, then business people, intellectuals and other experts who support such a view might be more likely to be heard and make an impact.

The deep state and the media’s anti-Russian campaign is to a large extent caused by the belief that America, boosted by its ABM development, could win a nuclear war with Russia. Some influential people put their trust in the US missile defense system, the European extension of which is currently being deployed practically on Russia’s borders. Some others think that by its first pre-emptive strike the US can hit Russia so hard that Russia would not be either able or even willing to retaliate in fear of a second blow and total destruction. The vast collateral damage entailed and the impact of such a horrible operation on the Old Continent does not seem to be taken into account. The likely impact on North America, too, has hardly ever been mentioned.

An open discussions of all these and related challenges would be the most effective form of pro-peace activity, and experts in the fields of nuclear physics and nuclear energy can play a leading and the most needed social role. With recent indications showing that Russia is preparing for a potential nuclear war and the bombshell news that Russia has developed electronic warfare technology that leaves the US military virtually deaf, dumb, blind and defenseless, we see some dire warnings and other key information coming out to support the idea that World War III is on our doorstep.

Lord Jacob Rothschild recently warned that the global “geopolitical situation is perhaps as dangerous as any we have faced since World War II.” There is chatter about the Ukrainian Maidaneks obtaining second passports and Canadian citizenship,  preparing to retreat as they will no longer be of use to the West. And now Daniel Estulin, author of The True Story of the Bilderberg, informs us in a video that the US and Britain are willing to “massively escalate the confrontation with Russia up to the threshold of a thermonuclear war.” It is clear that we are at our most dangerous time in history.

According to Mr. Estulin, President Barack Obama is attempting to orchestrate a regime change to topple Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the US and Britain have “reactivated a policy of threatening tactical nuclear warfare against Russia and China to force them to submit to the crumbling transatlantic financial empire.”

In August 2014, Putin spoke at a youth forum where he sent out a very clear warning when he stated, “I want to remind you that Russia is one of the most powerful nuclear nations. This is a reality, not just words.” (Source – CNN)

In late November 2014 and again in January 2015, reports showed that Russia has also been preparingeconomically by stockpiling vast quantities of gold in their vaults. As we watch Putin strengthen political ties with BRIC nations, and China specifically, while the US “decimates” its own military and weakens the US dollar, it becomes apparent once again that pitting a community organizer (Obama) against a former KGB mastermind (Putin) is like bringing a knife to a gun fight.

This is going to get ugly.

1 Ron Paul, “Reckless Congress Declares War on Russia,” Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, December 4, 2014.

2 Daniel McAdams, “Congress Demands War in Ukraine,” Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, March 23, 2015.

Hate and Hostage Politics: Begging for a Coup

by Jeanne Haskin

Even though he stressed that it was not a plan for action, the American military coup that Charles J. Dunlap, Jr. hypothesized in 1992 could not take place in 2012 because President Obama sustained the new vigor that he had brought to American politics by campaigning for hope and change. President Obama successfully addressed the issue of universal health care while creating the impetus for increased political activism by mortgaging more of our future with the bailout of Wall Street. By eliminating two of Dunlap’s preconditions for a military coup, i.e., voter apathy and broad non-access to health care, the president restored faith in the power of the electorate. Now President Obama has passed the baton to progressives, and no candidate has generated more excitement than Senator Bernie Sanders.

In large part, Dunlap’s essay depended on a desperate and disenchanted people’s desire for a good man and a strong man to lead America back to greatness. This is a common dictatorial theme, but by perching the American people on the slippery slope that begins with military good deeds and ends with the corruption of absolute power, Dunlap overlooked America’s real history in Central and South America as it pertains to promoting coups, their purpose, immediate functions and the brutality that sustained them long before day one. As such, this article will show how America has all but replicated preconditions for a Latin American-style coup and that the Republican game of chicken played out through the threat of more government shutdowns and reluctance to raise the debt ceiling are not just a matter of intransigence but also a signal to the military that America can no longer govern itself. Coupled with plans to militarize the National Guard, revamp military retirement, scrap social programs to improve veterans’ benefits, and ensure that soldiers are paid during shutdowns, Republicans are holding out rewards to secure their seat at the table if, as 57% of Republicans hope, Provisional Government comes to town.

Irreversible Reformation

FDR’s New Deal was not an attack on American capitalism but rather a stop-gap measure to address the draining effects of capitalism on average American citizens. By creating a social safety net and new rules of the road for banking, finance and international trade, FDR was mistakenly perceived as the enemy of big business when, in fact, his creation of global institutions (The World Bank, The International Monetary Fund and the United Nations) paved the way for Free-market Reformation to take the world by storm.

This required acceptance of inequality by a small sector of the populace, which became rich beyond its imaginings in exchange for embracing the brutality required to liberalize the economy throughout Central America and later the Southern Cone.

In Central America, and Nicaragua in particular, U.S. reformers found willing candidates in authoritarian presidents supported by wealthy landowners who expected, and received, more land free of social responsibility. Repression of the landless already took place with anti-vagrancy laws and the deployment of private armies to put down peasant revolts. Thus, U.S. offers to train the countries’ National Guards as presidential constabularies (militarized police), skilled in U.S. methods of terror, were efficiently carried out.

In some ways, terror required no other motivator than to protect the ruling class but members of the National Guard were thoroughly corrupted by encouragement to launch extortion schemes. Murder, torture and the “disappearance” of communist sympathizers and left wing organizers fit hand in glove with the needs of foreign-owned businesses and, naturally, the West.

By the time that attention was tightly focused on reforming the Southern Cone, U.S. economists refined the art of liberalization with a detailed instruction manual, otherwise known as “the brick.” Not subject to negotiation, this required deeply discounted divestiture of the countries’ most precious assets into foreign hands, the dissolution of social safety nets, the abolishment of unions, tight labor controls, and cheap exports, made even cheaper by currency devaluations and cash-crop redundancies. It also required elimination of dissent via control of the press, militarily-rigged voting (even against puppet opposition, created to maintain the pretense of democratic elections), intimidation, imprisonment and displacement to other countries.

Ostensibly “aided” by foreign loans, Latin American governments stayed afloat until currency speculation dried up their foreign reserves, thus requiring more loans. Once debt-dependency was thoroughly assured, Paul Volcker, Carter’s chairman of the Federal Reserve, launched a fight against inflation which persisted long after the fight was won. For this was not so much an American issue as one that concerned the neighboring continent. With Volcker’s hand at the wheel, Latin America’s debt redoubled itself, scaling unsustainable heights and leaving no hope of change for the poor.

The result: Irreversible Reformation that only the far-right could love and huge numbers of inconvenient people, whose misery and deprivation argued against the “miracle” of neoliberal reform.

 The American Adaptation

The dream of our most affluent has always been to offload the costs of government while controlling its repressive machinery, but not before exhaustive exploitation of government subsidization and regulatory overthrow to reshape the legal landscape in favor of complete deregulation and permanent protectionism.

Running as a contender for the Libertarian Party in 1980, David Koch promised torepeal federal campaign finance laws; abolish the Federal Election Commission; abolish Medicare and Medicaid; end compulsory insurance; deregulate the medical insurance industry; repeal Social Security; privatize the postal service; end all personal and corporate income taxation; repeal minimum wage laws; ensure the complete separation of education and State; repeal compulsory education laws; abolish the Department of Energy; dissolve all government agencies concerned with transportation; return America’s rail system to private ownership; privatize public roads and the national highway system; abolish the Federal Aviation Administration; abolish the Food and Drug Administration; end all government welfare, relief projects and “aid to the poor” programs; privatize inland waterways and the distribution system that brings water to industry, agriculture and households; abolish the Occupational Safety and Health Act; abolish the Consumer Product Safety Commission; and repeal all state usury laws.

“The brick,” in other words, had made its way to America.

However, the question still remained: how to prepare the populace?

Step One: Incarcerate the Poor

America’s War on Drugs was seen as a way to clean up the streets, fight inner-city gangs, reform drug users and protect poor neighborhoods. Perhaps deliberately, however, the budget for this war funded all but the justice system. Reluctant to raise taxes in order to fund the newly overwhelming demand for criminal court services, both red and blue states adopted offender-funded justice, or pay-for-service fees, including a $50-$200 charge to apply for a public defender. For those who can not afford an application, lack of representation often means harsher sentences and jail or prison time. Even for a minor infraction, such as stealing a $2 can of beer, an offender spent twelve days in jail.
Pay-for-service fees also extend to incarceration. Men and women who land in prison because they are too poor for representation face re-incarceration if they have no means to pay for prison “consumption.”

In the words of Noel Brinkerhoff:

Defendants can be billed for a public defender in 43 states and the District of Columbia. Prisoners can be charged room and board for their incarceration in 41 states. Those on probation or parole in 44 states can get billed for these services. Anyone ordered to wear an electronic monitoring device in 49 states (except Hawaii and the District of Columbia) must pay for it…Some states also apply “poverty penalties,” including late fees, payment plan fees, and interest when people are unable to pay all their debts at once…Alabama charges a 30 percent collection fee, while Florida allows private debt collectors to add a 40 percent surcharge on the original debt. Some Florida counties also use so-called collection courts, where debtors can be jailed but have no right to a public defender.

Those who are hit the hardest serve time in private prisons, where slave-labor is common and those who own the prisons either bribe judges to hand down longer prison terms and/or require contracts with the state to guarantee a percentage of occupancy.

Private prisons become overcrowded and the prisoners themselves are caught in a vicious cycle.

 As Brinkerhoff reports: “African Americans are six times more likely to be incarcerated than a white person and non-white Latinos are almost three times likely to be incarcerated.” Without a high school education, young black and Latino men find the odds especially challenging. Eleven percent of black men, aged between 20 and 34, are doing time at the prime of their lives, when most people start their careers and begin to vote in elections.

Step Two: “Disappear” Blacks via Secret Rendition

According to an article on, this is an issue involving Democrats. Secret, illegal detentions for harassment and interrogation occurred in Chicago under Mayor Rahm Emanuel (President Obama’s former top advisor) and persisted for eleven years. Citing from an investigation by the UK’s GuardianNewspaper:

[P]olice in the city of Chicago “disappeared” or “vanished” 7,185 people at a secret, “off-the-books interrogation warehouse” on Chicago’s west side…Between August of 2004 and June of 2015, approximately 6,000 of the 7,000 detainees held were African American, representing 82.2 percent of all the “vanished” at Homan Square…Incredibly, only 68 of the 6,000 blacks detained were permitted access to legal counsel, or information of their whereabouts disclosed to family members, per the police’s own records.

The facility at Homan Square has no publicly accessible phone number, nor do records exist of those imprisoned. If an attorney suspects that his or her client has been taken to Homan Square, it is almost impossible to find them. Without access to representation, prisoners are intimidated, threatened, and pressured to turn informant by militarized police in a militarized facility, unknown to much of the world.

Step Three: Extend the War on Drugs

Thus far, Republican efforts to prevent people from receiving state and/or federal benefits have led to drug-testing Food Stamp (SNAP) beneficiaries (the results of which were very disappointing for the state of Tennessee) and the ludicrous assertion that seniors, too, should be tested because receiving Social Security results in heroin addiction.

There is, in fact, a problem with middle-aged white Americans abusing drugs and committing suicide.

As an issue of fear and hopelessness, this may correlate directly with Republican initiatives to shame the beneficiaries of shrinking social programs and get them off the rolls with required participation in nonexistent job-training programs. Because Republicans know that such programs do not exist, this will leave needy people with neither the skills to re-enter the job market nor the means to feed their families.

Step Four: Restrict the Right to Political Representation

Aside from the Republican and Democratic gerrymandering that put many of the far-right candidates and Hillary Clinton in office by limiting their voting districts to those who would likely elect them, Republicans are hoping for a Supreme Court ruling that would restrict representation only to registered voters.

In the state of Alabama, where the BBC interviewed the Ku Klux Klan and left the door wide open for the online group Anonymous to publish the names and occupations of 1,000 KKK members, 31 offices of the Department of Motor Vehicles were closed—all of them in counties with a 75% black electorate. For the impoverished blacks who live there, obtaining an acceptable photo ID is not just a matter of driving to a DMV in another district. Most of them have no transportation.

Even if blacks do have proper ID, the voting machines in underprivileged communities are so outdated and decrepit that they are prone to the worst malfunction: overriding a voter’s choice, regardless of who it is.

Step Five: Change the Discourse to one of Hatred

Whether it is Jeb! Bush announcing that he’ll end “free stuff for blacks” or Donald Trump demanding a Great Wall of China and a deportation force for a repeat performance of “Operation Wetback,” the rise of contempt for vulnerable people is less a matter of blowback against immigrant workers, “anchor” babies, affirmative action, political correctness, and those who rely on social programs than restoring the freedom to hate—openly and violently, without reservation. This divisive force in American politics panders to the far-right fringe and white militant movements.

It is also shaking us slowly to pieces by creating a new “normal” which includes the slaughter of schoolchildren and the torture that ends in murder of suspects in police custody.

The Oathkeepers, a former veteran of which plotted to “detain” members of the U.S. Congress and Senate who supported the Iranian nuclear deal and ultimately arrest President Obama for treason, have created a new instructional video for The Oathkeepers to infiltrate first-responder organizations. Their strategy: to gain access as volunteers for recruitment among the agencies and the communities they serve—to paramilitarize where possible as sappers against the government.

If they are successful, expect the hate crimes to escalate.

Step Six: Pile on More Debt

Leading up to the subprime mortgage meltdown of 2007-2008, Wall Street colluded with the ratings agencies to gain AAA ratings on any and all debt that could be bundled into a security of some form, despite tremendous risk, in order to infiltrate hedge funds and other investment vehicles, the rules of which were conservative and only allowed holdings of triple-A rated securities. The whole point was to keep the good times rolling by deceiving more and more customers, constantly bending the rules, and conceiving of “innovations.”

Unfortunately, the end of the Great Recession was predicated on more debt, not just to bail out the banks but to create a new boom in junk bonds, enlarge the shadow banking system, re-inflate the housing bubble and increase consumer debt. The Federal Reserve’s policy of purchasing bonds for “quantitative easing” and making zero-interest loans ($2.6 trillion of which went to central banks but are parked on the books at the Fed as excess reserves, over and above the required $107.1 billion) has pushed the Fed’s balance sheet to $4.5 trillion.

According to a report on MSNBC, our total debt outstanding is more than “$18.15 trillion, nearly double of where it stood in 2008. Corporate debt has jumped to $8.1 trillion, a nearly 50 percent gain over the same period, and household debt has passed $14 trillion for the first time ever.”

Despite this, reduced consumer purchasing power has led to a lack of pricing power. The horror of “deflation,” or reduced prices for American goods and services, is compounded by income weakness. Americans either have no money to buy or are so deeply in debt that they can hardly risk more buying. And deflation won’t stop there. According to one Wall Street analyst, stocks are 70% overvalued, junk bonds are in serious trouble, and the re-inflated housing bubble won’t take much longer to burst. Naturally, Republicans would like the Fed to administer the bitter medicine of rising interest rates to cause the next market meltdown before the 2016 election so they can blame it on Obama. Speaking to Fed chairman Janet Yellen, one Wall Street headline read, “Get off zero now!”

Yellen isn’t budging, but despite the Fed’s insistence that its policies were, and are, meant to cause “good inflation” (an increase in wages) there is no doubt that its beneficiary has been the business community.

Fear of losing “herd control”

Today, a small percentage of America’s richest people feel that the government must redress income inequality from fear of an insurrection. In the words of Cartier chief Johann Rupert, “We are destroying the middle classes at this stage and it will affect us…How is society going to cope with structural unemployment and the envy, hatred and the social warfare?”

The shaky consensus among the rich is that the solution must lie with the government. However, they feel justified in rolling back the New Deal and would be even more content to roll back the twenty-first century.

Here is how they’ve tipped their hand toward a Latin American-style coup, the precedent for which, as it pertains to an American military leader, lies in the Provisional Government headed by Paul Bremer, which sold Iraqi assets into foreign hands during the occupation.

For at least the past few decades, high-powered political donations have been more or less evenly distributed to Republicans and Democrats. This was less a matter of the rich hedging their bets than of a tacit two-party agreement whereby Republicans and Democrats both supported big business.

Too, there was such a demand for retired military officials to act as lobbyists and speakers that the phrase “rent a general” had long been in usage.

Now, with the victories of the Labour Party in the UK and Canada, this, for the business community, is an ominous indication that they’ve lost “herd control.” Coupled with the perception of conservatives that America’s Republican Party is dissolving into chaos, a military coup would either head off, or end, the potential of a Democratic president. It is not that the business community lacks an ally in Democratic contender Hillary Clinton; it is that Senator Bernie Sanders is a genuine threat to Clinton and the far-right has too much at stake to face the threat of defeat.

For one thing, they have not lost sight of the fact that the next president will be appointing at least two or possibly four new Supreme Court Justices. Their campaign on hot-button issues would thoroughly be endangered by a Democratic shakeup.

And so we have come full circle. The Republican Freedom Caucus is driving the game of chicken (at the cost of $24 billion in losses for the last government shutdown) from sheer determination to have a seat at the table once they have done enough damage to incite a “protective” coup—one that would honor their goals and rule without need for consensus.

Is there any more to be said? Actually there is.

Win, lose or draw, get ready for the Great Deprivation

Like it or not, President Obama’s recovery plan has helped to drive the country toward the next economic meltdown. Add in our national debt and IMF-style reform becomes the preferred solution.  Since at least half of the country believes there are other options, Republicans alone can not impose “the brick,” or the Koch Libertarian platform. They must run the government off the rails to persuade the military to take over, and if it does take over, it will usher in a new era of pain for the American nation that may be called the Great Deprivation.

Nonfiction for the Nonplussed | Algora blog publishing