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Kunstler: Exit, Hope and Change

Public Policy

Yes, that was a gag.

By now, anyone in this country still of sound mind knows that Barack Obama presided through eight years of remarkable continuity — of changeless conditions that left a great many hopeless. As the days of his tenure dwindle, what do we make of the departing 44th president?

He played the role with cool-headed decorum, but that raises the question: was he just playing a role? From the get-go, he made himself hostage to some of the most sinister puppeteers of the Deep State: Robert Rubin, Larry Summers, and Tim Geithner on the money side, and the Beltway Neocon war party infestation on the foreign affairs side. I’m convinced that the top dogs of both these gangs worked Obama over woodshed-style sometime after the 2008 election and told him to stick with the program, or else.

What was the program? On the money side, it was to float the banks and the whole groaning daisy chain of their dependents in shadow finance, real estate, and insurance, at all costs. Hence, the extension of Bush Two’s bailout policy with the trillion-dollar “shovel-ready” stimulus, the rescue of the car-makers, and a much greater and surreptitious multi-trillion dollar hand-off from the Federal Reserve to backstop the European banks with counter-party obligations to US banks.

In April of 2009, Obama’s new SEC appointees, strong-armed by bank lobbyists, pushed the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) into suspending their crucial Rule 157, which had required publically-held companies to report their asset holdings based on standard market-based valuation procedures — called “mark-to-market.” After that, companies like Too-Big-Too-Fail banks could just make shit up. This opened the door to the pervasive accounting fraud that allowed the financial sector to pretend it was healthy for the eight years that followed. The net effect of their criminal fakery was to only make the financial sector artificially larger, more dangerously fragile, and more prone to cataclysmic collapse.

Another feature of life on the money-side of the Obama presidency was that nobody paid a personal price for financial misconduct. This established the basic ethos of Obama-era finance: anything goes, and nothing matters. All the regulators looked the other way most of the time. And when forced to act by egregious behavior, they made deals that let banking executives off-the-hook while their companies shelled out fines that amounted to the mere cost of doing business. It happened again and again. The poster boy for this kind of “policy” — or just plain racketeering — was Jon Corzine, the head of the commodities brokerage MF Global, whose company looted “segregated” customer accounts to the tune of nearly a billion dollars in the fall of 2011. Corzine was never prosecuted and remains at large to this day.

Another signal failure in the money realm was Obama’s response to the 2010 Citizen United Supreme Court decision, which declared that the alleged legal “personhood” of corporations entitled them to exercise “free speech” by giving as much money as they wanted to political candidates for election. Big business no longer had to just rent congressmen and senators, they could buy them outright with cash.

A conservative Supreme Court made the call, but Obama could have acted forcefully in the face of it. The former constitutional law professor-turned-politician could have marshaled a response in his Democratic Party-controlled congress to draft legislation, or a constitutional amendment, that would properly redefine the personhood of corporations. It should be obvious, for instance, that corporations, unlike human citizens, do not have duties, obligations, and responsibilities to the public interest; by legal charter they have only to answer to their shareholders and boards of directors. How does this confer the kind of political free speech “rights” that the court allowed them to claim? And how did the Obama and his allies in the legislative branch roll over to allow this disgraceful affront to the constitution to stand? And how is that almost nobody in the mainstream press or academic law even pressed these issues? Thanks to all of them, we’ve set up the primary means for establishing a fascist Deep State: the official marriage of corporate money and politics. Anything goes and nothing matters.

Finally, in foreign affairs, there is Obama’s mystifying campaign against the Russian Federation. The US had an agreement with Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union that we would not expand NATO if they gave us a quantity of nuclear material that was in danger of falling into questionable hands in the disorder that followed the collapse. Russia complied. What did we do? We expanded NATO to include most of the former eastern European countries (except the remnants of Yugoslavia), and then under Obama, NATO began holding war games on Russia’s border. For what reason? The fictitious notion that Russia wanted to “take back” these nations — as if they needed to adopt a host of dependents that had only recently bankrupted the Soviet state. Any reasonable analysis would call these war games naked aggression by the West.

Then there was the 2014 US State Department-sponsored coup against Ukraine’s elected government and the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovych. Why? Because his government wanted to join the Russian-led Eurasian Customs Union instead of an association with European Union. We didn’t like that and we decided to oppose it by subverting the Ukrainian government. In the violence and disorder that ensued, Russia took back the Crimea — which had been gifted to the former Ukraine Soviet Socialist Republic (a province of Soviet Russia) one drunken night by the Ukraine-born Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. What did we expect after turning Ukraine into another failed state? The Crimean peninsula had been part of Russia for longer than the US had been a country. Its only warm water naval ports were located there. They held a referendum and the Crimean people voted overwhelmingly to return to Russia. So, President Obama decided to punish Russia with economic sanctions.

Then there was Syria, a battleground between the different branches of Islam, their sponsors (Iran and Saudi Arabia), and their proxies, (Hezbollah and the various Salafist jihad armies). The US “solution” was to sponsor the downfall of the legitimate Syrian government under Bashar al-Assad. We apparently still favored foreign relations based on creating failed states — after our experience in Iraq, Somalia, Libya, and Ukraine. President Obama completely muffed his initial attempt at intervention — the “line-in-the-sand” moment — and then decided to send arms and money to the various Salafist jihadi groups fighting Assad, claiming that our bad guys were “moderates.” Meanwhile, Russia stepped in to prop up Assad’s government, apparently based on the idea that the Middle East didn’t need yet another failed state. We castigated Russia for that.

The idiotic behavior of the US toward Russia in these matters led to the most dangerous state of relations between the two since the heart of the Cold War. It culminated in the ridiculous campaign this fall to blame Russia for the defeat of Hillary Clinton. And here we are.

I didn’t vote for Hillary or Donald Trump (I wrote-in David Stockman). I’m not happy to see Donald Trump become president. But I’ve had enough of Mr. Obama. He put up a good front. He seemed congenial and intelligent. But in the end, he appears to be a kind of stooge for the darker forces in America’s overgrown bureaucratic Deep State racketeering operation. Washington truly is a swamp that needs to be drained. Barack Obama was not one of the alligators in it, but he was some kind of bird with elegant plumage that sang a song of greeting at every sunrise to the reptiles who stirred in the mud. And now he is flying away.

Next week, I’ll post the 2017 forecast..


18 Comments on "Kunstler: Exit, Hope and Change"

  1. makati1 on Tue, 27th Dec 2016 8:17 pm 

    One teleprompter reader leaves and another enters. I would be very surprised if there is ANY positive change in the sinking ship America. I only see new holes blown it her sides to speed up the process. Buckle up!

  2. solarity on Tue, 27th Dec 2016 9:06 pm 

    Obama’s “rescue of the auto-makers” was in reality a huge bait-and-switch by which the government dispossessed GM’s 20 million stock-holders, and gave the company to the union. GM went bankrupt, than was “sold” out to the union in exchange for relief of amounts the union claimed it was owed. The former stockholders and many vendors got nothing.

    The Citizens United decision granted legal “person-hood” to corporations. Yes, it gave them the same status that was at that time already exercised by unions, political action committees, and any other group tasked with raising funds for politics.

  3. Cloggie on Wed, 28th Dec 2016 1:52 am 

    Reasonable article.

    Makati says One teleprompter reader leaves and another enters.

    Strange remark after you promoted him before the election.

    It is completely unclear what Trump will achieve in his presidency, but one thing he will absolutely NOT be: a teleprompter reader. Trump has already proved to be a blockbuster, defying the entire establishment and media, giving the finger the RJC (“I don’t need your money”).

    Trump is probably going to be an authoritarian leader, a Mussolini, a Putin or a de Gaulle. The latter used to say:

    Toute ma vie, je me suis fait une certaine idée de la France.

    And that’s what Trump has for America.

    It may be rooted for a large part in nostalgia. He will not “make America great again” like in the early sixties, instead he will most likely preside over a train-wreck and financial collapse.

    But his ideas for America are diametrically opposed to the intentions of what even Kunstler acknowledges to exist: the sinister Deep State. And I gladly forgive Kunstler for not being too explicit about the true nature of that Deep State. The essence of what Trump has done so far is what many conservatives hoped for for several decades: “taking the country back”. The silent majority finally opened its mouth.

    If Trump delivers on his campaign pro promises:

    1. buddying up with Putin and withdraw forces from Eastern Europe
    2. build the wall as recommended by the border patrol
    3. putting NATO on the back burner
    4. reaching agreement with Russia on what to do with Syria

    …then he will be anything but a teleprompter reader.

    On a personal level I liked Obama more than his predecessors Bush the Lesser and Clinton, but they all three were merely preselected by and mere puppets of the Deep State and teleprompter readers indeed. Three total nobodies. The only reason why Obama was pushed forward was because the Deep State decided that it was time for the US population to get used to somebody who was a little “of color”.

    I wish him much luck on the golf court, a place where he spent most of his presidential time anyway, as the thinking remained in the domain of the Soros types. Bye bye, community worker from Chicago.

  4. Cloggie on Wed, 28th Dec 2016 5:16 am 

    Wow, after Brzezinski, Henry Kissinger also urges Trump to not only seek detente with Russia (Trump made that one an important campaign issue already), but also to accept Russian Crimea.

    But Trump hinted already before the election that he might consider that:

    The question came from Mareike Aden, a German reporter, who asked him whether a President Trump would recognize Crimea as Russian and lift sanctions on Moscow imposed after its 2014 annexation of the Ukrainian territory. The candidate’s reply: “Yes. We would be looking at that.”

    The significance of Kissinger’s statement is that he also no longer believes in the US global empire. If Trump would accept Russian Crimea, nothing stands in the way for complete normalization of relations between Russia and the West.

  5. Dredd on Wed, 28th Dec 2016 5:50 am 

    Well said Mr. Kunstler.

    You call it “Deep State,” I call it “MOMCOM” (MOMCOM – A Mean Welfare Queen).

    The government is the home of the deplorables (The Government of MOMCOM: Wartocracy)..

  6. Davy on Wed, 28th Dec 2016 6:09 am 

    Anti-Americans will never except Trump as a “positive” destructive force because he is American. Everything American is bad with no good. They are confined to their extremism so they are unable to open up to possibility. Opening up to possibility requires balance. Balance requires removing emotions from the equation in objectivity or restrained subjectivity. Subjectivity can enhance objectivity but should not supplement it. This is the reason agendas always fail in regards to the truth. One must detach from his emotions as an exercise in objectivity. In investing we see this and why people fail. Cognitive biases get in the way of the truth. If your identity relies on a position then you are not going to deviate from that position even if it is wrong. You will then use other strategies to support your core position. You will gamble, anchor, and seek the safety of the herd for support. Yes, I am guilty too but I am acknowledging my biases and trying to see past them.

    Trump is going to be disruptive. I am hoping he will be disruptive in a “positive” negative way. We are slipping into a declining momentum of growth at a time when population and consumption growth trends are pressuring our civilization. I am hoping Trump’s failures will bring on a “positive” decline. What is positive decline it is less of what is bad. We are in an unavoidable trend of bad. If certain steps are taken we can have less bad. There is no “great” again. The status quo will in a year look upon Trump as a failure as it would Hillary. Putin will be a failure also. The politics of decline will always have the extremist of position call it positive and negative depending on their allegiances because they are gaming. They are pointing fingers in the game of blame and complain. A majority on this board are this way. If you remove yourself from this great game then you are looking at this from the outside in without emotion. If you do this you only see these leaders and policies as variable not as personalities.

    We are in an unavoidable decline. Globalism is being destroyed by nationalism. Nationalism in this case is an attempt to grab more of a shrinking pie. It will not be about growth only a claw back of comparative advantage. This is an overall zero sum gain. It will be a rearrangement of the chairs on a sinking ship. It will be about jumping ahead in the line with the end of the line an escalator to a cliff running backwards. In the front is a locked door of limits. Those in the back are being disenfranchised and eliminated in a slow attrition of decay and decline. Trump will and can move the US. It is relatively easy to shift macro trends and quickly. What is next to impossible is to do this in a macro positive way if the overall trend is negative. What can be done is a slowing down of the destructive aspects of that decline.

    Nationalism is painted in an ugly light because of the 20th century. We are now in a new century and its meaning is now different. In the 21st century of a stalling growth process it is about a consumption rebalance. Nothing can produce like globalism. Let me repeat that “nothing”! The important point is more is not better if it is destructive growth. Nationalism will force us back towards localism. Localism is where we can make changes that are closer to resilience and sustainability. We cannot affect globalism in this way. It went beyond that point and now it is the cause of declining resilience and sustainability. No system at this point will save us but we can slow the process.

    Value at this point is less pain and suffering. This is a very human condition. We take pills to relieve pain. We may endure pain but it is for positive results. Rarely do we seek pain alone and usually it is because of mental and personality disorders.

    We can turn away from the insanity of what our civilization has become but a component must be positive pain and suffering. In this process we can find ways to have less pain and suffering and paradoxically nationalism is part of that. In this 21st century nationalism the global can turn away from growth by being tricked into thinking nationalism will gain us growth. So in effect Trump is the realization of a lie that just might make things less bad. That is a sad commentary but it is better than the alternative of an acceleration in failure. This is only a hypothesis and a flimsy one at that but with a realistic degree of hope. If you want to understand this be like a surfer and catch the wave. In this case the wave is a collapse process. It is a requirement of wisdom now. The rules have changed and these rules are above human civilization.

  7. onlooker on Wed, 28th Dec 2016 6:26 am 

    The way I view Trump as positive is he is a wild card in the establishment. Given that the establishment seems hell bent on continuing business as usual as fast as possible and to boot continuing to provoke Russia in their pursuit of world domination and by doing so risking WWIII, So as a wild card he may not go along with the insane decisions of the puppet masters who command the US political leaders. That is a plus. Other than that, the collapse process will continue to accelerate and to me, nothing is going to slow it down. We may though speed it up.

  8. Cloggie on Wed, 28th Dec 2016 6:29 am 

    More signs that Erdogan distances himself from the West and now accuses the US of supporting IS:

    Turkey is right of course, but hypocritically ignores that they supported IS as well, in full coordination with the West. Turkey wanted to use IS as an icebreaker to create the excuse for a Turkish intervention in Syria and Iraq, in order to “fight terrorism”, but in reality to expand the Turkish sphere of influence southwards.

  9. makati1 on Wed, 28th Dec 2016 6:30 am 

    onlooker, I would not be surprise to wake up some morning and read a ‘JFK like’ headline …

  10. onlooker on Wed, 28th Dec 2016 6:36 am 

    Yes Mak, they sure would like to try.

  11. Davy on Wed, 28th Dec 2016 7:00 am 

    JFK “Headline” is intellectually lazy look at what is more complex. The “JFK headline” is more about the assassination of the Trump momentum of nationalism. This could maybe work at a different time but today Russia, Europe, and increasingly others are embracing nationalism. This process is beyond Trump now so Trump’s end will not be the end of this process. In fact I speculate that in some ways it is better for the opposition to leave Trump to his own devises. He will likely dig his own policy grave. If they eliminate him he becomes a martyr of a movement. His impact was established with or without a win.

    Trump is a fox with effective leadership under him now. He has surrounded himself with insiders who may be embracing his vision of nationalism. He has effective generals who know counterinsurgency protecting him now. The neocons new world order is clearly a policy of failure. The neocons are doubling down in a desperate attempt to hang on to power. This is a deep-state reality but a deep state in civil war. I don’t think they will get near Trump. They can derail his momentum and neuter him as a leader if they are smart but considering their failures I feel they are a spent force. They are a wrong footed giant that is not nimble enough to land on its feet. Their time is running out and we may see a huge purge from within once Trump is in office. So actually the most dangerous time for all of us is the next month. Nothing is more dangerous than a cornered wounded polar bear with cubs. That is the US deep state now.

  12. Hubert on Wed, 28th Dec 2016 7:07 am 

    America is run by Lunitics.


  13. makati1 on Wed, 28th Dec 2016 7:11 am 

    Hubert, you hit the nail on the head. The beltway asylum is filled up with all the crazies in the U$ with the exception of Wall Street where everyone is just deluded and on crack.

  14. JuanP on Wed, 28th Dec 2016 10:08 am 

    While I don’t expect Trump to fix the USA because I don’t believe it can be fixed, I do look forward to his presidency. The guy makes me laugh. I find W, Obama and the Clintons absolutely repugnant. Trump, OTOH, merely inspires contempt in me. I prefer this narcissistic clown to those cowardly, slimy motherfuckers any day of the week. The USA will continue collapsing, regardless.

  15. Cloggie on Wed, 28th Dec 2016 11:45 am

    McCain and Princess Buttercup Graham call Putin a “thug and bully” [0:38] and these two Republicans accuse Putin (without proof) of manipulating the US selection such that a Republican won the election.

    One is reminded of the wise words of ueber-neocohn Michael Ledeen, who once remarked:

    Every ten years or so, the United States population needs to pick up the crappy establishment and throw it against the wall, just to show them it mean business.

    …or words to that effect.

    Serious, these creeps are inventing accusations out of thin air, just because they want to create the excuse to use the resources and people of the US to wage war against the rest of the world in order to get it under control on behalf of the US establishment.

    It is time that the people of the West get really tough with their own rulers.

  16. Sissyfuss on Wed, 28th Dec 2016 12:15 pm 

    As is our heritage, Trump is just a transitional tool to get us to the reset, laying the foundation for the next great leader that comes along every several decades to right the ship and bring us forth from the desert of dispair. The reset maybe civil war, civilizational collapse, or something original and unique. This nation has lost it’s way many times in it’s turbulent history and still managed to find it’s way home in the end. Giving up is the way of cowards, not the way of authentic human beings.

  17. GregT on Wed, 28th Dec 2016 12:51 pm 

    “This nation has lost it’s way many times in it’s turbulent history and still managed to find it’s way home in the end.”

    The ‘end’ hasn’t occurred yet Sissyfuss, but you can be sure that it will, eventually.

  18. Anonymous on Wed, 28th Dec 2016 5:39 pm 

    “But I’ve had enough of Mr. Obama. He put up a good front. He seemed congenial and intelligent. But in the end, he appears to be a kind of stooge for the darker forces in America’s overgrown bureaucratic Deep State racketeering operation.”

    Exactly. Just a puppet, a spokesman created to put a friendly face on amerikan imperialism and its crimes. But he was highly effective at neutralizing opposition to tel aviv and washingdums agendas, domestically, and internationally. This explains why the globalists are so upset shiillary lost. They were looking forward to 8 more years of the same under brand killary. Trump, is far more likely to evoke resentment and anger over amerika’s bullying and crimes. Crimes a lot of people strangely gave a pass to under brand obomber.

    Just because trump was\is the lesser (and slightly less dumber) of the the two evils, doesn’t make him some kind of savior either. Oil corporations, the pentagon, and wall st won the election. While I have little doubt trump will be a loose canon with a even looser mouth, and while be sure to enrage and offend just about everyone, he is not going to take on the globalist deep staters. How could he? He has no power, no authority, he cant call on anyone to come to aid.

    And cloggie, you can stop pretending you think trump is an anti-globalist already, he is nothing of the sort. We already know your affinity for him is based almost exclusively on his climate change denialism, and little else.

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