Sunday, July 31, 2016
nakedcapitalism | Leading up to Monday’s Democratic Party convention, Hillary chose Blue Dog Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia as her VP. This was followed by the Wikileaks release of Democratic National Committee (DNC) e-mail files showing it acting as the Clinton Campaign Committee even to the point of using the same lawyers as her own campaign to oppose Bernie Sanders.
The response across the Democratic neocon spectrum, from Anne Applebaum at the Washington Post to red-baiting Paul Krugman and the Sunday talk shows it was suggested that behind the Wikileaks to release DNC e-mails was a Russian plot to help elect Trump as their agent. Former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul lent his tattered reputation to claim that Putin must have sponsored the hackers who exposed the DNC dirty tricks against Bernie.
The attack on Trump was of course aimed at Sanders. At first it didn’t take off. Enough delegates threatened to boo DNC head (and payday-loan lobbyist) Debbie Wasserman Schultz off stage if she showed her face at the podium to gavel the convention to order. The down-note would have threatened the “United Together” theme, so she was forced to resign. But Hillary rewarded her loyalty by naming her honorary chairman of her own presidential campaign! If you’re loyal, you get a pay-off. The DNC was doing what it was supposed to do. No reform seems likely.
The Democratic machine orchestrated a media campaign to distract attention by attributing the leaks were to a Russian plot to undermine American democracy (as if the e-mails did not show how undemocratic the DNC had operated in stacking the primaries). A vote against Hillary would be a vote for Trump – and a vote for Trump would really be for Putin. And as Hillary had explained earlier, Putin = Hitler. The media let it be known that attacking Wasserman Schultz – and by extension, Hillary’s neocon policies – makes one a Russian dupe. This theme colored the entire convention week.
Endorsing Hillary’s presidential bid on Monday evening, Sanders joined in the chorus that this November will pit Good against Evil – or as Ray McGovern put it on RT’s Cross Talk, at least proxies for Netanyahu vs. Putin. Wall Street Senator Chuck Schumer went on TV to heave a sigh of relief that the party was indeed united together.
Many Sanders’ supporters felt no obligation to follow his obeisance. Many walked out after he closed Tuesday’s state-by-state roll call by throwing his support behind Clinton. Others chanted “Lock Her Up”.
VP Kaine as Hillary’s Stand-in if She’s Indicted or Seems Unelectable
Guardian | The Republican party wants my liberal vote. This was the most shocking wave to wash over my brain last week as I sat in the convention center in Cleveland. It was more startling in its way than the storm of hate that I saw descend on former GOP hero Ted Cruz, stranger than the absence of almost all the party’s recent standard-bearers, weirder than the police-state atmosphere that hovered over the streets of the city.
The Republicans were trying to win the support of people like me! Not tactfully or convincingly or successfully, of course: they don’t know the language of liberalism and wouldn’t speak it if they did; and most of the liberals I know will never be swayed anyway. But they were trying nevertheless.
Donald Trump’s many overtures to supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders were just the beginning. He also deliberately echoed the language of Franklin Roosevelt, he denounced “big business” (not once but several times), and certain of his less bloodthirsty foreign policy proposals almost remind one of George McGovern’s campaign theme: “Come home, America.”
Ivanka Trump promised something that sounded like universal day care. Peter Thiel denounced the culture wars as a fraud and a distraction. The Republican platform was altered to include a plank calling for the breakup of big banks via the reinstatement of Glass-Steagall. I didn’t hear anyone talk about the need to bring “entitlements” under control. And most crucially, the party’s maximum leader has adopted the left critique of “free trade” almost in its entirety, a critique that I have spent much of my adult life making.
It boggles my simple liberal mind. The party of free trade and free markets now says it wants to break up Wall Street banks and toss Nafta to the winds. The party of family values has nominated a thrice-married vulgarian who doesn’t seem threatened by gay people or concerned about the war over bathrooms. The party of empire wants to withdraw from foreign entanglements.
Saturday, July 30, 2016
slate | How do you think about Trump vs. Clinton, given your strong anti-establishment feelings?
Just take a step back for a second. One of the things that is bothering me and bothered me about the Brexit debate, and is bothering me a huge amount about the Trump debate, is that there is zero elite reckoning with their own responsibility in creating the situation that led to both Brexit and Trump and then the broader collapse of elite authority. The reason why Brexit resonated and Trump resonated isn’t that people are too stupid to understand the arguments. The reason they resonated is that people have been so fucked by the prevailing order in such deep and fundamental and enduring ways that they can’t imagine that anything is worse than preservation of the status quo. You have this huge portion of the populace in both the U.K. and the US that is so angry and so helpless that they view exploding things without any idea of what the resulting debris is going to be to be preferable to having things continue, and the people they view as having done this to them to continue in power. That is a really serious and dangerous and not completely invalid perception that a lot of people who spend their days scorning Trump and his supporters or Brexit played a great deal in creating.
So rather than just side with one side or the other and say I am against Brexit or against Trump, I mean, who the fuck needs me to say that? Do you think anyone is going to be influenced by my endorsement? I am not so self-important that I think it matters for me to come out and endorse a candidate.
I know you’re not. I am asked that a lot, or asked why I won’t say that I endorse Hillary or whatever. I see my role as being a corrective to whatever consensus emerges that I don’t think is being subjected to enough critical scrutiny. Just pushing back against that is the most you can hope to do as a journalist, against unquestioned assumptions embedded within the conventional wisdom. I am not a political prognosticator, but I always thought and still think that the chances are overwhelmingly high that Hillary is going to be the next president. I always thought that and still think that. So when I think about the outcome, and what the ultimate result is going to be, I generally look past that, and think about things that can be accomplished before that, or things that can be accomplished once that happens.
I guess the counter is that the people who have been fucked over in our society, and they aren’t just Trump voters, who are almost all white, a Trump presidency for them would mean something much worse. John Lanchester has an essay in the London Review of Books where he says that Brexit probably won’t end up happening, which will screw over the wishes of the white working class who voted for it. Well, if the elites allow it to happen, the white working classes will suffer more and everyone will blame the elites.
Yes, exactly, I agree with that. But this gets back to the point I was trying to make earlier, which is, if you are someone who wants to stop Trump or Brexit, your goal should be to communicate effectively with the people who believe it is in their interest to support Trump or Brexit. I think in general there is no effort on the part of media elites to communicate with those people and do anything other than tell them that they are primitive, racist, and stupid. And if the message being sent is that you are primitive, racist, and stupid, and not that you have been fucked over in ways that are really bad and need to be rectified, of course those people are not going to be receptive to the message coming from the people who view them with contempt and scorn. I think that is why Brexit won, and I think that is the real danger of Trump winning.
Friday, July 29, 2016
FP | Russia’s push into Georgia in 2008, into Ukraine in 2014, and its recent campaign in Syria, as well as its efforts to consolidate a sphere of influence in the inner Eurasian heartland of the former USSR called the Eurasian Union, all are eerily foretold in geopolitical theory. Mackinder held that geography, not economics, is the fundamental determinant of world power and Russia, simply by virtue of its physical location, inherits a primary global role. Under President Vladimir Putin, the slightly kooky tenets of Mackinder’s theory have made inroads into the establishment, mostly because of one man, Alexander Dugin, a right wing intellectual and bohemian who emerged from the Perestroika era in the the 1980s as one of Russia’s chief nationalists.
Largely thanks to Dugin’s murky connections within the elite, Geopolitics today is mainstream. Mackinder’s arguments were useful to Dugin and other hardliners who contended that conflict with the West was a permanent condition for Russia, though they had trouble explaining why. The reasons for the Cold War had seemingly evaporated with the end of ideological confrontation, in a new era of universal tolerance, democracy, and the “end of history.”
The Englishman’s elevation to the status of grand mufti of Atlantic power was assisted by Dugin, who in 1997 published The Foundations of Geopolitics, one of the most curious, impressive, and terrifying books to come out of Russia during the entire post-Soviet era, and one that became a pole star for a broad section of Russian hardliners. The book grew out of Dugin’s hobnobbing with New Right thinkers and his fortnightly lectures at the General Staff Academy under the auspices of General Igor Rodionov, the hardliner’s hardliner who would serve as defense minister from 1996 to 1997. By 1993, according to Dugin, the notes from his lectures had been compiled as a set of materials, which all entrants to the Academy were supposed to use, and which were frequently amended and annotated by new insights from the generals, or following the odd lecture by a right-wing ideologue flown in from Paris or Milan.
Dugin thus set out self-consciously to write a how-to manual for conquest and political rule in the manner of Niccolò Machiavelli. Like The Prince (which was essentially a fawning job application written to Florentine ruler Lorenzo de’ Medici after Machiavelli had been out of power and exiled for ten years), Dugin wrote his book as an ode to Russia’s national security nomenklatura from the depths of his post-1993 wilderness. Until 1991 he had been one of the hardliners’ chief propagandists, writing a combination of conspiracy theories and nationalist demagoguery for The Day, a newspaper funded by the defense ministry. But following the failed coup by the KGB and the Red Army in August of that year, Dugin had been in internal exile with little way to support himself.
Together with fellow nationalist intellectual Eduard Limonov he had founded a cantankerous political movement called the National Bolshevik Party (NBP), which he called a “political art project” and in addition he rather improbably landed a visiting lectureship at the Academy of the General Staff as a result of connections to the hardliners and to Rodionov. Drawing on his connections with military academics and sitting in the dirty basement of the NBP’s Frunzenskaya Street headquarters, Dugin wrote a book that would become a major influence on Russia’s hardliners.
In Dugin’s capable hands, Mackinder was transformed from an obscure Edwardian curiosity who never got tenure at Oxford, into a sort of Cardinal Richelieu of Whitehall, whose whispered counsels to the great men of state provided a sure hand on the tiller of British strategic thinking for half a century, and whose ideas continue to be the strategic imperatives for a new generation of secret mandarins.
WaPo | Russia believes that its heroin problem was caused, even perhaps intentionally, by the United States with the destabilization of Afghanistan. But Russia can also surely see that the war on drugs is weakening the United States. Every year Americans of all races collectively spend $100 billion to buy illegal drugs. As a country, we then bear costs of roughly $100 billion a year from fighting the crime related to illegal drugs and from the loss to productivity caused by incarceration. Our national defense budget, by way of contrast, is $600 billion a year. If you want a competitor to be thrown off focus by a distraction, a project that drains its resources at this scale annually would seem welcome.
Then there is the social division spawned by the war on drugs. The burdens of mass incarceration and the increased capacity of the police for violence have fallen most heavily on African Americans and Latinos, despite the equal-opportunity use of drugs by whites, blacks and Latinos. The combined impact of racial disparities in mass incarceration and in the application of police force has now, in 2016, brought about the most severe racial split that our country has seen in a long time.
This racial division isn’t merely depressing and dispiriting. It isn’t merely material for politicians from either party to exploit. It also weakens us as a country. Any country where citizens are engaged in intense conflict and controversy among themselves has a reduced capacity to play an impactful role in the world. What the war on drugs has done to us is good news for Russia.
And here it is worth remembering that “law-and-order” Donald Trump would double down. When Trump invokes his mighty wall on the Mexican border, he often extols as a virtue that it will keep the drugs out. Every time I hear crowds chant, “Build the wall,” I can’t help but think about the all the tunnels that international drug traffickers have already constructed underneath our border. A Trump wall would go up; the web of drug tunnels would go under.
At this point, our situation is already crystal clear. The drug war is not solving the problems of either addiction or crime. It is, however, tearing our social fabric, and that weakens us as a country, including within the geopolitical order. Trump and Putin are on the same page here. With regard to the war on drugs, they are aligned in pursuing a policy that makes America weaker.
guardian | Last week it was announced that June was the warmest June on record – making it the 14th consecutive month of a record being set. It comes at a time our government and many in the media remain wilfully resistant to efforts to combat climate change, and at a time when the data should worry everyone.
One of the best things about the election result has been the cabinet reshuffle, which has seen Greg Hunt no longer the minister for the environment.
I once called him the emptiest suit in the history of Australian politics, and maybe that was wrong because given how he exited the role, perhaps a better descriptor is the biggest troll in Australian politics.
On leaving the job Hunt, told reporters that “I feel as if my work is done.”
No minister for the environment could look at the data of global temperatures and think their work is done – especially if the majority of their work involved pushing the con of Direct Action onto the public.
The temperature data is now at such a point that it requires absurd levels of conspiracy theory to suggest climate change is not occurring.
Last week the US agencies, Nasa and Noaa announced the June figures. We shouldn’t be too shocked about them – according to Noaa it was the 14th consecutive month in which a new record had been set. The news from Nasa is not as horrible – June was just the ninth consecutive record-setting month.
About the best you can say about June is that at least it wasn’t as big a record as the previous months have been this year:
unz | In any event, Putin and Erdogan have settled their differences and scheduled a meeting for the beginning of August. In other words, the first world leader Erdogan plans to meet after the coup, is his new friend, Vladimir Putin. Is Erdogan trying to make a statement? It certainly looks like it. Here’s the story from the Turkish Daily Hurriyet:
“Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin may meet in a face-to-face meeting in August as part of mutual efforts to normalize bilateral ties following months of tension due to the downing of a Russian warplane by the Turkish Air Forces in November…
With the normalization of ties, Russia removed some sanctions on trade and restrictions on Russian tourists, though it will continue to impose visa regime to Turkish nationals. A deeper conversation between the two countries over a number of international issues like Syria and Crimea will follow soon between the two foreign ministers before the Putin-Erdoğan meeting.” (Putin, Erdoğan to meet soon in bid to start new era in Turkey-Russia ties, Hurriyet)
Is it starting to sound like Turkey may have slipped out of Washington’s orbit and moved on to more reliable friends that will respect their interests?
Indeed. And this sudden rapprochement could have catastrophic implications for US Middle East policy. Consider, for example, that the US not only depends on Turkey’s Incirlik Airbase to conduct its air campaign in Syria, but also, that that same facility houses “roughly 90 US tactical nuclear weapons.” What if Erdogan suddenly decides that it’s no longer in Turkey’s interest to provide the US with access to the base or that he would rather allow Russian bombers and fighters to use the base? (According to some reports, this is already in the works.) More importantly, what happens to US plans to pivot to Asia if the crucial landbridge (Turkey) that connects Europe and Asia breaks with Washington and joins the coalition of Central Asian states that are building a new free trade zone beyond Uncle Sam’s suffocating grip?
One last thing: There was an important one-paragraph article in Moscow Reuters on Monday that didn’t appear in the western press so we’ll reprint it here:
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia’s joint projects with Turkey, including the TurkStream undersea natural gas pipeline from Russia to Turkey, are still on the agenda and have a future, RIA news agency quoted Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich as saying on Monday.” (Russian Dep PM says joint projects with Turkey still on agenda, Reuters)
This is big. Erdogan is now reopening the door the Obama team tried so hard to shut. This is a major blow to Washington’s plan to control the vital resources flowing into Europe from Asia and to make sure they remain denominated in US dollars. If the agreement pans out, Putin will have access to the thriving EU market through the southern corridor which will strengthen ties between the two continents, expand the use of the ruble and euro for energy transactions, and create a free trade zone from Lisbon to Vladivostok. And Uncle Sam will be watching from the sidelines.
All of a sudden, Washington’s “pivot” plan looks to be in serious trouble.
Thursday, July 28, 2016
strategic-culture | NATO and the US’s other military umbrellas in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East, are not motivated primarily about maintaining security and peace. These military pacts are all about providing the US with a political, legal and moral rationale for intervening its forces in key geopolitical regions. The massive expenditure by the US on military alliances is really all about maintaining Washington’s hegemony over allies and perceived enemies alike. The reality is that America’s «defense» pacts are more a source of relentless tensions and conflicts. Europe and the South China Sea are testimony to that if we disabuse the notional pretensions otherwise.
In all the heated reaction to Trump’s latest comments on NATO the over-riding assumption is that the United States is a force for good, law and order and peace.
Under the headline «Trump NATO plan would be sharp break with decades-long US policy», this Reuters reportage belies the false indoctrination of what US and NATO’s purpose is actually about. It reports: «Republican foreign policy veterans and outside experts warned that the suggestion by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump that he might abandon NATO’s pledge to automatically defend all alliance members could destroy an organization that has helped keep the peace for 66 years and could invite Russian aggression».
Really? Maintaining peace for 66 years? Not if you live in former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, or Ukraine and Syria where NATO powers have been covertly orchestrating and sponsoring conflicts.
Also note the unquestioned insinuation by Reuters that without NATO that would «invite Russian aggression».
If we return to the original question posed by the New York Times, which sparked the flurry of pro-NATO reaction, the newspaper put it to Trump like this:
«Asked about Russia’s threatening activities, which have unnerved the small Baltic States that are among the more recent entrants into NATO, Mr Trump said that if Russia attacked them, he would decide whether to come to their aid only after reviewing if those nations have fulfilled their obligations to us».
The NY Times, like so many NATO advocates who went apoplectic over Trump, is constructing its argument on an entirely false and illusory premise of «Russia’s threatening activities».
Unfortunately, it seems, Trump bought into this false premise by answering the question, even though his conditional answer has set off a firestorm among NATO and Western foreign policy establishments. Can you imagine the reaction if he had, instead, rebutted the false assertion about there even being Russian aggression?
But this fabrication of «Russian threat» is an essential part of the wider fabrication about what the US-led NATO alliance is really functioning for. It is not about defending «the free world» from Russian or Soviet «aggression», or, for that matter, from Iranian, Chinese, North Korean, or Islamic terrorist threats. In short, NATO and US military «protection» has got nothing to do with defense and peace. It is about protecting American corporate profits and hegemony.
Ever since its inception in 1949 by the US under President Truman, NATO is a construct that serves to project American presence and power around the world, as well as propping up its taxpayer-subsidized military-industrial complex. The most geopolitically vital theatre is Europe, where the European nations must be kept divided from any form of normal political and economic relations with Russia. If that were to happen, American hegemonic power, as we know it, is over. That’s what the alarmism among the NATO advocates over Trump is really about.
journal-neo | For 17 months, since the Minsk Agreements were signed in February 2015 to try to bring peace to the eastern Ukraine the Kiev regime, and its neo-Nazi and NATO allies, have been preparing for a new offensive against the east Ukraine republics. On July 22nd the Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin stated in a letter to the UN Security Council that “a relapse of large-scale military operations in eastern Ukraine may bury the process of peace settlement there.” He then called on Kiev’s allies to pressure Kiev to back off its war preparations which include the continuous shelling of civilian areas by Ukraine heavy and medium artillery and constant probing attacks by Ukraine and foreign units over the past spring and summer months.
The commander of the Donetsk Republic forces stated in a communiqué on July 22 that the region along the contact line between the two sides was shelled 3,566 times in one week alone ending on the date of the communiqué and confirmed the information set out in Churkin’s letter and reports of the Organisation For Security Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) that the Kiev regime had transferred more heavy artillery, mortars, tanks, multiple rocket launchers to the front.
The shelling has destroyed civilian housing, a water treatment plant and other infrastructure with the clear objective of forcing out the residents and to prepare the ground for a large scale offensive. Ambassador Churkin added that not only were regular Kiev forces massing in the east but they had also deployed the new-Nazi Azov and Donbas “volunteer” battalions, and that Kiev has begun a wide ranging seizure of land in the neutral zone and the towns located there.
Of course the blame for all these criminal actions by NATO and its marionettes in Kiev is placed on Russia as we have seen set out in both the Atlantic Council Report earlier this year and in the NATO Warsaw Communiqué on July 9th in which NATO put the ultimatum to Russia, “do what we say or you will see what we will do”. The day before Ambassador Churkin sent his letter to the Security Council, the French Foreign Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, in a speech at the Centre of Strategic and International Studies stated that the “sanctions”, that is, the economic war being carried out against Russia by the NATO countries, would only stop if Russia did what it was told.
The Germans have also made noises about being prepared to halt this economic warfare against Russia, about how much they regret it and how they desire only peace and harmony, but, again, only if Russia adheres to their demands.
internationalman | Probably the most objectionable thing I find about Hillary is her reckless promotion of war.
I think she advocated for just about every conflict the U.S. has gotten involved with in the past 30 years, most of which have been unmitigated disasters.
She’s an ardent supporter of arming the so-called moderate Syrian rebels and toppling Bashar Al-Assad.
She’s supported the regime change in Ukraine.
She backed the surge in Afghanistan, which, predictably, accomplished exactly nothing.
She was the deciding factor in pushing Bill to bomb Serbia in the 1990s.
She infamously voted for the 2003 Iraq invasion.
And, of course, she was one of the main pushers of the NATO intervention in Libya that toppled Muammar Gaddafi. After rebels gruesomely executed Gaddafi—they reportedly sodomized him with a bayonet—Hillary said on national TV, “We came, we saw, he died.” It’s sort of a sociopathic spin on “Veni, vidi, vici,” a famous saying from Julius Caesar, the Roman leader, which means “I came, I saw, I conquered.”
These are just some examples off the top of my head. She has apparently learned nothing—or the completely wrong lessons—from this trail of disasters. She’s an unrepentant warmonger. And I think the odds of WWIII breaking out will be much higher under a Hillary presidency.
One nugget from Hillary’s email scandal, known as the Blumenthal Memo, basically disclosed that the real reason NATO wanted to go after Gaddafi was not a desire to bring freedom, democracy and unicorns to the Libyan people, but because NATO feared that Gaddafi would use his vast gold reserves to back a currency that would displace a version of the French franc that is used in Central and Western Africa.
After NATO-backed rebels toppled Gaddafi, plans for the gold-backed currency, along with the gold itself, vanished like a double cheeseburger placed in front of Chris Christie.
Strangely, this damning piece of information from her emails barely gets a peep in the mass media narrative.
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
economic-undertow | The West was to become a Keynesian paradise of endless abundance and leisure, a suburbanite fairyland of Negro-free gated ‘communities’, of pastel McMansions and luxury SUVs; of gourmet meals crafted from GMO ingredients washed down with magnums of Veuve Clicquot and narcissism. We would play croquet as eternal children under the glorious sunshine of prosperity while ‘disutility’ (labor) would be performed ‘somewhere else’ (Mexico). The waste and destruction associated with industrialization would vanish because we would all be rich enough to hire robots to clean up after us.
There were a few clouds: the tail-end of trivial conflicts in Central America; the ‘War on Drugs’, the Asian finance crisis in 1997 and the collapse of the Russian economy the following year. Long Term Capital Management followed the Russian economy into the toilet in early 1998 necessitating the first ‘rescue us or else’ mega-bailout of Wall Street. These events were diversionary theater: people who could afford it lost some money, bosses who badly needed new jobs lost theirs. All in all the entire reconfiguration process turned out to be remarkably painless.
Looking back, the notion of final geopolitical resolution was naively optimistic, a quaint artifact of a particular zeitgeist, like Beatle Boots or flip cellphones. What was really happening was the ending of the ending: ancient monsters were not vanquished only hibernating so as to take new forms. Now, when we need it most and want it least, history has stormed out of its coffin like a vengeful, blood-hungry vampire, reminding us all why we wanted to be rid of it in the first place.
Enter the new millennium and (quasi-)liberal democracy and finance capitalism are being shellacked and nobody can figure out why. Extreme events are tripping over each other like – add your favorite cliché here – cheese and macaroni. Radicals are ascendant as the status quo proves unable to prevent the consumption utopia from slipping out of reach. Strategies that once bore fruit are revealed as nonsense; military ‘stimulus’, central bank witch doctoring, austerity, institutionalized discrimination, trivial interest rate- and foreign exchange manipulation. The outcome is credit transfers from those with less to those with everything … and fury. With chaos on one side, dithering on the other, the public turns toward autocrats while societies — particularly across the arc of northern- and central Africa to south Asia — blow apart at the seams, writhing in agony, frantic to escape the vice-like grip of ‘less’ and unmet expectations.
This is the terror that dares not speak its name; not to be engulfed by refugees or shot by militants but forced by desperate necessity to become one! Rage is fear by another name.
Tyrants like Trump and Erdogan (and Clinton) are products of industrial resource capitalism no different from McMansions and automobiles, they are also fetishes. Unlike vicarious pleasure-pussy Taylor Swift, tyrants symbolize power, ruthlessness and control … and increasing surpluses. Their promise to harvest gains by whatever means is the substance of their public appeal. The relationship between tyrant and followers is symbiotic and self-reinforcing. Adherents give form and color to the tyrant’s outline while the tyrant suspends- or outruns institutional restraints, providing the necessary sanction for adherents to act out their own impulses, destructive or otherwise.
The emergence of tyrants like Trump and Erdogan (and Clintons) is suggestive: that technology cannot produce the consumer outcomes we are desperate to preserve. If technology could save us autocrats would not be necessary. They are reductive rather than creative, their first- and last resort is coercion as when governments dragoon pensioners rather than machines to rescue finance.
bloomberg | How does a company lose 69 million customers? Just ask Citigroup Inc.
Once upon a time, about a decade ago, the New York-based bank had a global retail empire stretching from Tokyo to Tegucigalpa. It offered consumer banking in 50 countries, covering half the planet’s land mass, and served 268 million people.
Then a financial crisis, billions of dollars of losses from complicated securities linked to subprime mortgages and a government bailout upended its plans. The bank has since sold or shut retail operations in more than half the countries in which it had a presence, including Guatemala, Egypt and Japan. It reduced the number of branches in the U.S. by more than two-thirds and has gotten out of subprime lending, student loans and life insurance. In the process, it let go about 25 percent of its customers along with more than 40 percent of its workforce.
“Banks are figuring out that providing every product and every service to every client in every country was just wrong,” said Vikram Pandit, who led Citigroup from 2007 to 2012 and used to tout what he called the company’s globality. “So they are unwinding and shedding assets. We’re not close to being done.”
The transformation of Citigroup, and similar changes at HSBC Holdings Plc and other global banks, isn’t just about cutting expenses. It’s also about looking for greater returns by focusing on the richest customers -- high-net-worth individuals, large corporations and institutional investors.
Citigroup says it’s leaner and safer today. But in serving those clients, the bank has bulked up on trading, a business that helped get it into trouble before. It doubled the amount of derivatives contracts it has underwritten since the crisis to $56 trillion. The company, which used to make most of its profit from consumer banking, now gets the majority from corporate and investment banking.
HSBC, which had an even bigger global retail footprint than Citigroup’s and advertised itself as “the world’s local bank,” also has retreated, quitting or planning to get out of consumer banking in more than half the countries it was in and jettisoning 80 million customers. Retail banking’s share of profit has dropped by half as commercial lending and investment banking filled the gap.
skepticalscience | When I give a presentation and mention the 97% expert consensus on human-caused global warming, I’m often asked, “what’s the deal with the other 3%?”. These are the publishing climate scientists who argue that something other than humans is responsible for the majority of global warming, although their explanations are often contradictory and don’t withstand scientific scrutiny.
A few months ago, the world’s largest private sector coal company went to court, made its best scientific case against the 97% expert consensus, and lost. One of coal’s expert witnesses was University of Alabama at Huntsville climate scientist Roy Spencer - a controversial figure who once compared those with whom he disagreed to Nazis, and has expressed his love for Fox News.
Last week, Spencer wrote a white paper for the Texas Public Policy Institute (TPPI) outlining the contrarian case against climate concerns. TPPI is part of the web of denial, having received substantial funding from both the tobacco and fossil fuel industries, including $65,000 from ExxonMobil and at least $911,499 from Koch-related foundations since 1998, and over $3 million from “dark money” anonymizers Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund.
Spencer’s arguments should of course be evaluated on their own merits, regardless of who commissioned them. However, it turns out that they have little merit on which to stand. The white paper is a classic example of a Gish Gallop – producing such a large volume of nonsense arguments that refuting all of them is too time-consuming.
flassbeck-economics | How climate change is rapidly taking the planet apart
‘There are no jokes. The truth is the funniest joke of all.’ Muhammad Ali
Writing up articles on climate change is difficult these days. Last week alone, 46 new papers and reports were published. I am certain that there are many more. The figure only refers to the sources I usually consult. I try to read all abstracts and all articles I find interesting, but sometimes I shy away from it: it is just too depressing. According to Naomi Oreskes, a great number of climate change scientists (she interviewed most of the top 200 climate change scientists in the US) suffer from some sort of mood imbalance or mild or serious depression. It is easy to understand why: we see the climate change taking the planet apart right in front of our eyes. We also clearly see, right in front of us, what urgently needs to done to stave off global disaster on an unprecedented scale. We need carbon taxes and the reconversion of industry and energy towards zero CO2 emissions systems. This route is without any doubt technically and economically feasible, but politically it seems to be permanently locked. If we do not unlock it, the future looks bleak, not to say hopeless, for humankind.
- Data on warming, rain bombs, storms and water vapour feedbacks
NASA recently released data showing that the planet has just seen seven straight months of not just record-breaking, but record-shattering heat (see here). We are well on track to see what will likely be the largest increase in global temperature a single year has ever seen (see here and here). The NASA data show that May was the hottest May ever recorded, as well as the fact that it crushed the previous May record by the largest margin of increase ever recorded. The same is now true for June (see here). That makes it five months in a row that the monthly record has been broken and by the largest margin ever. When record-smashing months started in February, scientists began talking about a “climate emergency.” Since then the situation has only escalated.
The answer to the oft-asked question of whether an event is caused by climate change is that this is the wrong question. All weather events are affected by climate change because the environment in which they occur is warmer and moister than it used to be. Changes in extremes, such as higher temperatures and increases in heavy rains and droughts are not related to climate change, they are climate change (see here).
ourfiniteworld | Does it make a difference if our models of energy and the economy are overly simple? I would argue that it depends on what we plan to use the models for. If all we want to do is determine approximately how many years in the future energy supplies will turn down, then a simple model is perfectly sufficient. But if we want to determine how we might change the current economy to make it hold up better against the forces it is facing, we need a more complex model that explains the economy’s real problems as we reach limits. We need a model that tells the correct shape of the curve, as well as the approximate timing. I suggest reading my recent post regarding complexity and its effects as background for this post.
The common lay interpretation of simple models is that running out of energy supplies can be expected to be our overwhelming problem in the future. A more complete model suggests that our problems as we approach limits are likely to be quite different: growing wealth disparity, inability to maintain complex infrastructure, and growing debt problems. Energy supplies that look easy to extract will not, in fact, be available because prices will not rise high enough. These problems can be expected to change the shape of the curve of future energy consumption to one with a fairly fast decline, such as the Seneca Cliff.
It is not intuitive, but complexity-related issues create a situation in which economies need to grow, or they will collapse. See my post, The Physics of Energy and the Economy. The popular idea that we extract 50% of a resource before peak, and 50% after peak will be found not to be true–much of the second 50% will stay in the ground.
Some readers may be interested in a new article that I assisted in writing, relating to the role that price plays in the quantity of oil extracted. The article is called, “An oil production forecast for China considering economic limits.” This article has been published by the academic journal Energy, and is available as a free download for 50 days.
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich
wikipedia | Clinton Cash is an investigation of the foreign benefactors of Bill and Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation. It investigates alleged connections between Clinton Foundation donors and Hillary Clinton’s work at the State Department.
The book argues that the Clinton family accepted lavish donations and speaking fees from foreign donors at times when the State Department was considering whether or not to award large contracts to groups and people affiliated with those donors.
The book is organized into eleven chapters. Some chapters focus on particular transactions or deals, such as the creation of UrAsia Energy and Uranium One in Kazkakhstan, and the connection shareholders had and have to the Clintons. Other chapters focus on a broader set of relationships, particularly with regard to Bill Clinton’s paid speeches during the years Hillary Clinton served as Secretary of State, and whether those paying for his speeches had significant business before the State Department. Schweizer dubs the Clintons' blend of government service and private remuneration the “Clinton blur.”
libertyblitzkrieg | Political pundits throughout the land are tripping over each other to compose the latest bland, uninsightful screed proclaiming the death of the Republican Party. This makes sense, because the primary purpose of a political pundit is to state the obvious years after it’s already become established fact to everyone actually paying attention.
Yes, of course, Trump winning the GOP nomination marks the end of the party as we know it. After all, some neocons are already publicly and actively throwing their support behind Hillary. While this undoubtably represents a major turning point in U.S. political history, many pundits have yet to appreciate that the exact same thing is happening within the Democratic Party. It’s just not completely obvious yet.
– From February’s post: It’s Not Just the GOP – The Democratic Party is Also Imploding
I believe Hillary Clinton lost the Presidency this past week. While the explosive DNC leaks will undoubtably have a long lasting effect, this post will barely reference the leaks. Rather, it will explain how recent decisions by the Hillary campaign played right into Trump’s hands by essentially waving a gigantic middle finger to the 73% of Americans who think the country is headed in the wrong direction.
What Hillary Clinton did in selecting Tim Kaine as VP was send a clear signal that not only is she the status quo candidate, she is proud of it. She didn’t just double down on being the establishment candidate, she tripled and quadrupled down. There is now no denying that Hillary Clinton is implicitly running on only two themes.
1. Trump is scary. I am not Trump.
2. Things aren’t really bad. I’ll continue along the path we’ve been on.
2. Things aren’t really bad. I’ll continue along the path we’ve been on.
This message will result in a guaranteed loss against an opponent who is telling the American public “I know you’re angry, I’m angry too, and I’m going to blow up the status quo.” Recall that 73% of the U.S. public thinks the country is headed in the wrong direction. As the Wall Street Journal noted:
Some 73% in the new survey say things have gone off-course, with only 18% saying the nation is headed in the right direction.
Numbers such as those are usually seen in times of national crisis, such as during the government shutdown of 2013, when only 14% said the nation was on-course, or during the 2008 financial crisis, when 11% said things were headed in the right direction.
In this post, I will prove that Hillary is signaling a “business as usual” approach to the status quo, and in return, the status quo is uniformly and excitedly rallying around her. This will disgust most Americans and lead to a Trump victory. People who dislike Trump more than Clinton will vote for him anyway, because they dislike the status quo even more.
townhall | The Democrat Party is in chaos after WikiLeaks exposed DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz for anti-Bernie Sanders bias during the primary. Wasserman-Schultz announced yesterday she will resign from her post as the head of the DNC when the convention ends Thursday and will promptly join the Clinton campaign.
But the damage WikiLeaks has done to Democrats so far isn't over. According to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the website will publish more hacked emails and this time, they'll be about Hillary Clinton and her ongoing private email server scandal.
Julian Assange has made an incredible statement in an interview with ITV. Assange says that Wikileaks, the infamous whistle-blowing website, will soon be publishing documents that contain “enough evidence” for the Department of Justice to indict Hillary Clinton, the expected Democratic nominee.
Team Clinton and the DNC have been in damage control for more than 24 hours now and are blaming the WikiLeaks hack on the Russians, saying it was an attack from President Vladimer Putin on Hillary Clinton in an effort to sabotage her campaign.
Posted by CNu at 7/26/2016 06:40:00 AM
Monday, July 25, 2016
rawstory | CNN commentator Donna Brazile will suspend her ties with the news network as she takes the reins of the Democratic National Committee after the resignation of Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.
Politico quoted a CNN spokeswoman, who said via email on Sunday, “With news of Donna Brazile stepping in as interim chair for the Democratic National Committee, CNN and Brazile have mutually agreed to temporarily suspend her contract as a contributor for the network effective immediately. As a valued voice and commentator, CNN will revisit the contract once Brazile concludes her role.”
Brazile will serve as acting DNC chair until a permanent replacement for Wasserman-Schutlz can be selected.
Meanwhile the Clinton campaign released a statement welcoming the ousted DNC chair as an “honorary chair” of her 2016 campaign.
“There’s simply no one better at taking the fight to the Republicans than Debbie,” Clinton said, “which is why I am glad that she has agreed to serve as honorary chair of my campaign’s 50-state program to gain ground and elect Democrats in every part of the country, and will continue to serve as a surrogate for my campaign nationally, in Florida, and in other key states.”
In a statement of her own, Wasserman-Schultz said, “I know that electing Hillary Clinton as our next president is critical for America’s future. I look forward to serving as a surrogate for her campaign in Florida and across the country to ensure her victory. Going forward, the best way for me to accomplish those goals is to step down as Party Chair at the end of this convention.”
The warm relations between Clinton, her staff and Wasserman-Schultz will likely be seen as a poke in the eye to progressives in the Democratic Party, who have long objected to the Florida congresswoman’s close relationship with payday lenders and other policies.
A group of emails hacked from DNC servers and released by Wikileaks painted an unflattering portrait of Wasserman-Schultz’s machinations to undermine the campaign of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Now, the campaign and some cyber experts say that they have traced the hacks to Russian sources
consortiumnews | By picking Sen. Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton has revealed her true preferences and shown that her move to the left on policy issues during the primaries was simply a tactical move to defeat Bernie Sanders. It’s not what you say, it’s what you do. Clinton can talk about caring about the U.S. public, but this choice cuts through the rhetoric. The two politicians to whom she gave serious consideration to choosing as her running mates were Kaine and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. What both men share in common is, like the Clintons, being leaders of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC). The DLC was, on economic and foreign policy issues, a servile creature of Wall Street – funded by Wall Street.
As Tom Frank’s new book Listen, Liberal documents, the DLC vilified the New Deal, financial and safety regulation, organized labor, the working class, opponents of militarism, opponents of the disastrous trade deals that were actually backdoor assaults on effective health, safety and financial regulation, and the progressive base of the Democratic Party.
The DLC leadership, which included President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore, entered into a series of cynical bipartisan deals with the worst elements of the Republican Party, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and Wall Street elites that:
- Destroyed Glass-Steagall (the New Deal reform that separated commercial and investment banks)
- Created a massive regulatory “black hole” in financial derivatives that Enron and later the world’s largest banks exploited to run their fraud schemes that led to the Enron-era scandals and the Great Recession
- Drove Brooksley Born from government because she warned about these derivatives and sought to protect us from the coming disaster
- Cut the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s (FDIC) staff by over three-quarters, destroying effective supervision of banks
- Cut the Office of Thrift Supervision’s (OTS) staff by over half, destroying effective supervision of savings and loans such as Countrywide, Washington Mutual (known as WaMu, the largest “bank” failure in U.S. history), and IndyMac. OTS was also supposed to regulate aspects of AIG and Lehman, but had no capacity to do so given the massive staff cuts and its deliberately useless regulatory leaders chosen by Bill Clinton and George W. Bush
Kaine, like Hillary Clinton, has embraced for decades the DLC/’New Democrats’ agenda – meaning they are allies of Wall Street. They embrace a neo-liberal, pro-corporate outlook that has done incredible damage to the vast majority of Americans.
Sunday, July 24, 2016
stuff | Fears Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump may be pursuing a Russian agenda with his candidacy have triggered a wave of alarm in the US.
A series of links between Trump's circle of advisers, his policy positions on the future of NATO, his statements of admiration for Russian president Vladimir Putin and even the overlap between his supporters and those touting pro-Russia views online have contributed to this view.
The concerns have prompted a series of high-profile American commentators and analysts to suggest Trump may be getting backing from Russia for his US campaign.
Respected publications such as Slate, economist Paul Krugman writing in The New York Times, and The Washington Post have commented on the convergence between Trump's statements and geopolitical positions that Russia has long sought, with worrying implications should Trump become president.
theantimedia | Lurched back and forth in the ever-quickening spiral of an American empire circling the drain, we — as a people — have chosen battle lines on nearly every issue from politics to foreign policy, domestic surveillance to policing.
Thrust back into national focus, the last issue — policing in the U.S. — might even surpass in contention the ongoing race to the White House. And it stands to reason, with the world lashing out against failed globalism in its various nefarious incarnations — largely driven by American exceptionalist military presence nearly everywhere on the planet — the empire sees expediency in heading off a possible insurrection.
To that end, the past fifteen years have seen the initially-surreptitious padding of law enforcement agencies with the tools, gear, vehicles, and — most alarmingly — weapons of war. Because terrorism, said the government, when its more apparent concern had to do with potential dissidents who have grown tired of corruption and the almost wholesale abandonment of constitutional and human rights.
Summoning the peculiar willful ignorance common in Americans’ worship of authority in uniforms — found in the anachronistic hero cop avatar —militarization of police slipped beneath the radars of most, who were instead pleased with the added protection against nebulous terrorist threats in the interest of the safety of the Boys in Blue.
That tacit permission allowed an occupying army to take root — complete with training indistinct from that received by battlefield warriors set for deployment overseas — though no person in a position of ‘authority’ would ever admit to as much. Neglecting vigilance of what amounts to domestic mission creep, we’re reaping a civilian body count previously expected only from military missions.
Worse, the triplicate issues of refusal by police to rein in the Warrior Cop mentality; the near impunity granted by judges and juries, even to the highest courts in the land, when police kill without justification; and the obstinance in Americans’ near infantile refusal to question this Blue authority’s missteps, have cleaved a gulf of division effectually insurmountable at this late date.
Now, those police cum victimizers — the apparent judges, juries, and executioners of the unarmed, the innocent, and the guilty, alike — have opportunistically employed a smattering of backlash attacks on members of their cult of authority to declare war on the people they once swore oaths to protect. False narrative of the oft-promulgated ‘war on cops,’ much less actual facts to the contrary, be damned.
Saturday, July 23, 2016
quillette | The link between sex and dominance has a deep evolutionary history. The perennial battles between males over reproductive access to females fill the annals of natural history, and are explained by evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers’ concept of parental investment.4 According to this concept, the sex that invests most in reproduction (usually females) is more vigorously pursued by the sex that invests least (usually males), leading to more frequent dominance contests among the least investing sex.
Females exhibit a preference for dominant males who can bequeath impeccable genetic pedigrees and material resources to future offspring. As such, we should expect males to increase their sexual response following a victory over a rival in anticipation of increased sexual opportunities. Indeed, as suggested by my graduate research with David Bjorklund, men who are single (and, hence, men for whom the stakes of competition over women are highest) exhibit more sexual interest in women following a victory than a defeat.5 Physiologically, dominance and sex are linked by the male hormone testosterone, as suggested by studies showing higher testosterone levels in men who win than in men who lose, whether in sports6 or politics.7 This function of testosterone is supported by research showing that presidential and congressional elections in the US were followed by increases in pornography consumption in states whose citizens overwhelmingly voted for winning candidates.8 9All of this suggests that social dominance is a common antecedent to sexual behavior. But the influence also goes in the other direction, as is indicated by Imhoff and colleagues’ finding that exposure to sexual material leads to an increase in aggression among sexually narcissistic men.10
gizmodo | If you visit the WikiLeaks DNC emails website, you can browse the emails using a simple boolean search. Typing a word like “contribution” will actually turn up hundreds of results. The emails include unencrypted, plain-text listings of donor emails addresses, home addresses, phone numbers, social security numbers, passport numbers, and credit card information. WikiLeaks proudly announced the data dump in a single tweet.
The new leak is part of the organization’s ongoing Hillary Leaks series, which launched in March as a searchable archive of more than 30,000 emails and attachments sent to and from Clinton’s private email server, while she was Secretary of State. The original email dump included documents from June 2010 to August 2014. The new release includes emails from January 2015 to May 2016.
This isn’t the first time WikiLeaks has recklessly published personal information of innocent civilians, either. Human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission have previously requested that WikiLeaks remove names of Afghan civilians in 77,000 classified military documents published online. The civilians were (ironically) collateral damage in the same leak that spurred the “Collateral Murder” video obtained by Wikileaks.
Exactly why Wikileaks decided not to redact the private information of unsuspecting Americans remains unclear. We’ve reached out for comment and will update as soon as we hear back.
Friday, July 22, 2016
NYTimes | Artificial intelligence is booming. But why now?
Move over, social media and mobility: Silicon Valley has a next big thing, John Markoff writes , and it’s A.I. and robots. It is useful to think of them as part of the same thing, since many robots are autonomous machines programmed for decision making based on A.I.
The movement can be thought of as a spread of computing intelligence everywhere, on wheels and wings, in your pocket and all through your house. That’s a big enough idea to fund scores of companies, and quite possibly set up the next Silicon Valley boom. And bubble.
Yet it’s worth asking how much of this is reality and how much is wishful thinking. Why is A.I. growing the way it didn’t over the last several decades, despite promises that it would?
The answer to that lies in the precursors to this A.I. moment, which more than anything has to do with the Google-led search boom 10 years ago.
In 2006, Google and Yahoo released new methods of analyzing the quirky real-world data they were picking up from doing search. Data from browsers can be thought of as a proxy for human behavior, as people wander the web. It’s typically called “unstructured” data, as opposed to the more regular information of things like banking and airline schedules that filled most of the world’s databases.
That new way of seeing the real world helped make search profitable and also enabled companies like Facebook to look into even stranger social behavior. The success also gave these companies plenty of money to plow into the problem.
To money, and the first ever caches of natural behavior in digital form, add cheaper computing. In 2006, Amazon also introduced its cloud-computing business. Over the last decade, retail cloud computing has become an inexpensive way for lots of people to work on data analysis and pattern finding, the heart of A.I.
Only one more thing was needed, and in 2007 Apple came out with the iPhone. Let that stand for browser-type natural data collection moving off desktops and blowing through the natural world. Along with other cheap sensors tied to the cloud, it has given us huge amounts of data about all sorts of things.
That created many more places where computers could do what they’ve always done, which is to seek efficiency. That has created a cycle:more observation, more machine learning of patterns, more value capture funding more observation.
It’s enough to make you believe in this boom.
What could make you believe it’s also a bubble? Start with the name, artificial intelligence. So far there is zero evidence we will be about to build machines that possess intelligence or will really think on their own. If big money goes into that stuff, run for the hills.
wired | In essence the system has been created to respond to the demand that is being put on it and reduce the amount of electricity needed when it is possible to do so.
Suleyman's Dougal team – a division of DeepMind building projects for direct use within Google – created the algorithms using deep neural networks. The network type aims to mimic the functionalities of the brain and have been used in everything from creating an artificial Donald Trump to treating serious diseasessuch as Alzheimer's.
The DeepMind team collected five years worth of data collected by data centres and created a prediction model for how much energy would be needed by the data centre based on the amount of server usage that was likely. Each neural network was fed data on temperatures, power usage, pump speeds and more.
By using the large data sets, the machine learning was able to be "trained" and retain more examples of how the centres' work than a human would be able to.
"Conventionally a human manually tweaks a lot of the knobs that control the operation of the data centre," Suleyman explained. "There's obviously a lot of variation in performance across all the data centres because each human performs quite different."
When controlling a running data centre, in recent months, Google said the AI was able to "consistently achieve a 40 per cent reduction in the amount of energy used for cooling".
The algorithms created were to be a general learning artificial intelligence. This means it may be possible to apply it to other scenarios. "There's lots of other applications outside of Google," Suleyman said.
"We think there's lots of potential to apply this to large scale energy distribution, so we're giving it some thought and are in early discussions with a number of people on that."
Posted by CNu at 7/22/2016 07:19:00 AM
wired | First let us postulate that the computer scientists succeed in developing intelligent machines that can do all things better than human beings can do them. In that case presumably all work will be done by vast, highly organized systems of machines and no human effort will be necessary. Either of two cases might occur. The machines might be permitted to make all of their own decisions without human oversight, or else human control over the machines might be retained.
If the machines are permitted to make all their own decisions, we can’t make any conjectures as to the results, because it is impossible to guess how such machines might behave. We only point out that the fate of the human race would be at the mercy of the machines. It might be argued that the human race would never be foolish enough to hand over all the power to the machines. But we are suggesting neither that the human race would voluntarily turn power over to the machines nor that the machines would willfully seize power. What we do suggest is that the human race might easily permit itself to drift into a position of such dependence on the machines that it would have no practical choice but to accept all of the machines’ decisions. As society and the problems that face it become more and more complex and machines become more and more intelligent, people will let machines make more of their decisions for them, simply because machine-made decisions will bring better results than man-made ones. Eventually a stage may be reached at which the decisions necessary to keep the system running will be so complex that human beings will be incapable of making them intelligently. At that stage the machines will be in effective control. People won’t be able to just turn the machines off, because they will be so dependent on them that turning them off would amount to suicide.
On the other hand it is possible that human control over the machines may be retained. In that case the average man may have control over certain private machines of his own, such as his car or his personal computer, but control over large systems of machines will be in the hands of a tiny elite – just as it is today, but with two differences. Due to improved techniques the elite will have greater control over the masses; and because human work will no longer be necessary the masses will be superfluous, a useless burden on the system. If the elite is ruthless they may simply decide to exterminate the mass of humanity. If they are humane they may use propaganda or other psychological or biological techniques to reduce the birth rate until the mass of humanity becomes extinct, leaving the world to the elite. Or, if the elite consists of soft-hearted liberals, they may decide to play the role of good shepherds to the rest of the human race. They will see to it that everyone’s physical needs are satisfied, that all children are raised under psychologically hygienic conditions, that everyone has a wholesome hobby to keep him busy, and that anyone who may become dissatisfied undergoes “treatment” to cure his “problem.” Of course, life will be so purposeless that people will have to be biologically or psychologically engineered either to remove their need for the power process or make them “sublimate” their drive for power into some harmless hobby. These engineered human beings may be happy in such a society, but they will most certainly not be free. They will have been reduced to the status of domestic animals.1
In the book, you don’t discover until you turn the page that the author of this passage is Theodore Kaczynski – the Unabomber.