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First Fox News and now NBC/MSNBC: Two Peas In Opposite Propaganda Pods

A veteran national security journalist with NBC News and MSNBC recently blasted the news network in a recent email for becoming captive and subservient to the national security state, reflexively now pro-war in the name of stopping the nationalist Donald Trump, and the prime propaganda instrument of the War Machine’s promotion of militarism and imperialism.

As a result of NBC/MSNBC’s new all-consuming militarism, he said, “the national security establishment not only hasn’t missed a beat but indeed has gained dangerous strength” and “is ever more autonomous and practically impervious to criticism.”

The NBC/MSNBC reporter, William Arkin, is a longtime prominent war and military reporter, perhaps best known for his groundbreaking, three-part Washington Post series in 2010, co-reported with two-time Pulitzer winner Dana Priest, on how sprawling, unaccountable, and omnipotent the national security state has become in the post-9/11 era.

When that three-part investigative series, titled “Top Secret America,” was published, it was hailed it as one of the most important pieces of reporting of the war on terror, because while “we chirp endlessly about the Congress, the White House, the Supreme Court, the Democrats and Republicans, this is the real U.S. Government:  functioning in total darkness, beyond elections and parties, so secret, vast and powerful that it evades the control or knowledge of any one person or even any organization.”

Arkin has worked with NBC and MSNBC over the years and continuously since 2016. But last week he announced that he was leaving the network in a long, emphatic email denouncing the networks for their superficial and reactionary coverage of national security, for becoming fixated on trivial Trump outbursts of the day to chase profit and ratings, and for becoming the central propaganda arm of the CIA and the Pentagon in the name of #Resistance, thus inculcating an entire new generation of liberals, paying attention to politics for the first time in the Trump era, to “lionize” those agencies and their policies of imperialism and militarism.

That MSNBC and NBC have become Security State Central has been obvious for quite some time. The network consists of little more than former CIA, NSA, and Pentagon officials as news “analysts”; ex-Bush-Cheney national security and communications officials as hosts and commentators; and the most extremist pro-war neocons constantly bashing Trump from the right, using the Cheney-Rove playbook on which they built their careers accusing “enemies“ of being insufficiently patriotic, traitors for America’s official enemies, and abandoning America’s hegemonic role in the world.

MSNBC’s star national security reporter Ken Dilanian was widely mocked by media outlets for years for being an uncritical CIA stenographer before he became a beloved NBC/MSNBC reporter (where his mindless servitude to his CIA masters has produced some of the network’s most humiliating debacles). The cable network’s key anchor, Rachel Maddow, once wrote a book on the evils of endless wars without congressional authorization, but now routinely depicts anyone who wants to end those illegal wars as reckless weaklings and traitors.

Some of the most beloved and frequently featured MSNBC commentators are the most pro-war militarists from the Bush war on terror: David Frum, Jennifer Rubin, Ralph Peters, and Bill Kristol. In early 2018, NBC hired former CIA chief John Brennan to serve as a “senior national security and intelligence analyst,” where the rendition and torture advocate joined a long litany of former security state officials at the network, including “Chuck Rosenberg, former acting DEA administrator, Frank Figliuzzi, former chief of FBI counterintelligence; and Juan Zarate, deputy national security adviser under Bush.”

Filling their news and analyst slots with former security state officials as MSNBC and NBC have done is tantamount to becoming war state TV, since their first loyalty is to the agency from which they hail. Imagine a TV network covering the auto industry through the eyes of dozens of paid former auto executives and you begin to appreciate the current peculiarities.

All of this led Arkin to publish a remarkable denunciation of NBC and MSNBC in the form of an email he sent to various news outlets. Its key passages are scathing and unflinching in their depiction of those networks as pro-war propaganda outlets that exist to do little more than amplify and serve the security state agencies most devoted to opposing Trump, including their mindless opposition to Trump’s attempts (regardless of his self-serving political motives) to roll back some of the excesses of imperialism, aggression, and U.S. involvement in endless war, as well as to sacrifice many journalistic standards and skepticism about generals and the U.S war machine - as long as doing so advances their mission of denouncing Trump.

That an entire generation of young Democrats paying attention to politics for the first time is being instilled with the formerly right-wing Cold Warrior values of jingoism, über-patriotism, reverence for security state agencies and prosecutors, a reckless use of the “traitor” accusation to smear one’s enemies, and a belief that neoconservatives embody moral rectitude and foreign policy expertise has long been obvious and deeply disturbing.

In the end, these pro-war toxins will endure far beyond Trump, particularly given the now full-scale unity between the corporate Democratic news establishment and the George W. Bush neocon militarists.

Glenn Greenwald, www.intercept.com, January 3, 2019

Donald Trump Owns This Stock Market

For those looking for an explanation of why the stock market suddenly became tumultuous in the fourth quarter of 2018, you can stop searching: The answer is President Donald Trump.

For the better part of the past three years, I have suggested that investors not let their partisan political views influence their choices. This is no longer the case.

The Trump administration’s policies, passed as legislation by Congress and implemented by the executive branch, have driven interest rates higher, made deficits bigger and led to a trade war, and are risking a global slowdown and even a recession.

For a while, markets were able to ignore this and absorb the flow of good news about the economy, which finally was shedding the drag from the financial crisis. At the same time, I also said presidents generally get too much credit or blame for the economy, although they can, of course, screw up. Indeed, a president, whether misguided by his advisers or ill-informed (this president has both going for him), can make things much worse. As I wrote earlier this year:

“The word inconsequential is an overstatement, as presidents can and do mess up. Richard Nixon’s opening of formal relations with China had far-reaching consequences; the deregulation of markets under Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush was surely important for the economy in ways both good and bad; so too was President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq. But these were all broad policies that took years or even decades to be felt and understood.”

I assumed that Trump’s aggressive style, economic ignorance and personal "peccadilloes" wouldn’t leave a lasting mark on either stocks or bonds. Now, roughly two years later, the chaos surrounding this presidency proves that was wishful thinking.

At the risk of engaging in narrative fallacy (with a dash of hindsight bias), let’s consider three distinct policies of this administration, and how they are hurting the economy and markets:

• Higher interest rates: Trump replaced Janet Yellen, a dovish Federal Reserve chief (whose policies he liked), with hawkish Jerome Powell, whose policies he dislikes. Rates have gone higher, and it is the proximate result of the president’s appointment.

There is no one else to blame for this mistake but the President. Powell’s leanings were well known; so too were those of Trump’s appointment for vice chairman, Richard Clarida.

This self-inflicted error is perplexing: When Trump was running for office, he berated Yellen, saying she “should be ashamed that rates were so low.” We have since found out that he did not re-appoint Yellen because he felt that, at 5-foot, 3-inches, she was “too short” to run the central bank. This has to be one of the great unforced mistakes in the postwar history of U.S. monetary policy.

Global recession concerns: Rising rates have helped push the yield curve toward inversion, with short-term rates higher than long-term rates. At least the five-year and the two-year Treasuries have inverted; the classic recession warning is when yields on 10-year and the two-year securities invert.

Now, we see broader signs that global growth is slowing. Corporate profits may have hit a peak.(1) Economies are cyclical, and the U.S. has gone almost a decade without a recession, roughly two times longer than the average interval between slowdowns. That implies we are overdue for a slump. None of the usual signs of an imminent recession are present, but 2020-21 isn’t an unthinkable time line.

• Tariffs and trade war: Yet another self-inflicted wound seems to have taken place in the aftermath of the G-20 summit in Argentina. Trump announced a ceasefire in the trade dispute with China. Equity futures rallied strongly a week ago on Sunday night.

The truce turned out to be nonexistent. Bloomberg News showed a side-by-side comparison of statements by Trump and by the Chinese government on the supposed deal, which was never reduced to writing. It isn’t just that Trump overstated the terms of the agreement; there was no deal.(2) Wall Street subsequently had its worst week since March, and it looks like we may be in for more of the same this week.

Then Trump sandbagged Wall Street.

Despite his well-known casual relationship with the truth, traders naively assumed the president wouldn’t mislead about something as crucial as the resolution of an expanding trade war. By the time the president declared “I am a Tariff Man,” he had lost the trust of traders.

To be sure, these are not the only factors behind the stock-market sell-off. Rising deficits have spooked bond markets; enthusiasm about the large corporate tax cuts passed in December 2017 has faded; the strong dollar is often cited as a headwind for corporate earnings; U.S. stock valuations remain rich; China’s economy has slowed; Brexit is problematic, and the rest of Europe has more than a few messy problems. Any combination of these could be contributing to market volatility.

That said, we are nearing the halfway mark of Trump’s presidency. Those waiting for that pivot toward his being presidential have been disappointed. Instead, they are now extrapolating his policy errors forward, and finding a significant and negative affect on the U.S. economy and stock markets.

Barry Ritholtz, Bloomberg News (December 10, 2018)

 

“Trickle Down Economics” - The Art of the Steal

“Trickle down economics” is possibly our Nation's most enduring political economic scam consistently perpetrated on American voters and taxpayers.

Here’s the theory: If we cut taxes for big corporations and the rich, the elites will take the saved tax money and reinvest in their businesses - which creates not just jobs but good paying jobs - to stimulate the US economy. The problem is: It’s mostly BS! 

Here’s the reality: The rich and big business mostly hoards the tax cuts for themselves. Or, they buy back company stock which primarily rewards company executives and their biggest shareholders. Or, company's take the money and increases stock dividends in an attempt to keep current shareholders - often because poor management or a failing supply and demand economy no longer supports the company’s growth.

In a testament to concentrated economic and political power in the US, 90% of tax cuts for the rich are held in passive accounts that have little effect on national job creation or growing the wealth of middle and lower income Americans.

In harsher terms, the American elites really only care about the financial health of middle and lower class Americans when they can use or manipulate the latter's fear and anger to get votes or to consume their products and services. 

President “Stormy” Trump is a perfect example of the perennially recycled "Trickle Down" elite politician.

Less than a month after winning the Electoral College (not the popular vote majority), Trump appoints Gary Cohn, an ex-Goldman Sachs executive and housing foreclosure specialist. Cohn the Con lasted less than a year - and has been named as a central figure in the largest sovereign wealth fund corruption scandal - Malaysia - in the history of global finance.

Clearly, the "swamp" Trump was campaigning against was actually drained and he found most of his Cabinet members at the bottom!

History shows during every election cycle how politicians have no qualms about blatantly lying to voters by promising how much they care about taxpayer money and how they will reinvest the money redistributed to the elites so it will end up back in the average American’s pockets. 

These false campaign slogans end up being nothing more than bogus political promises that dupe voters into electing them - with the hope that by the next election cycle voters will forgot how they were duped the last time.

Given the current leadership of the US economy under the Republican Party majority, Trickle Down policies are once again the free market "hope and change" saviour economics. Yet, the national politicians, primarily market fundamentalist “evangelicals” like Paul Ryan and Donald Trump, continue to preach this false hope "elite economics" blind faith.

The stock market has certainly recovered from the great recession in 2008, which was actually caused by the then current version of irresponsible deregulation and "Trickle Down" economics. Yet here we are at it again with the new Trump version of this failed economic theory. 

"Insanity" is doing something that doesn't work over and over again expecting a different outcome.

We are in Kansas, Dorothy!

We can easily see the inherent failings of "Trickle Down" on steriods at the state level. Back in 2010, Kansas elected a true believer to be their governor. He promised during his campaign that by slashing taxes for businesses and the State's elites, everyone in Kansas would benefit. After being elected into office and then witnessing the Republican Party takeover of the State assembly and senate, the Governor signed off on the biggest tax cut in the state’s history.

The result: Ninety percent of those tax cuts in Kansas benefited the top 10 percent of earners, i.e. the rich. The Kansas economic experiment failed miserably and since the cuts, Kansas has faced yearly budget deficits and was sued for its lack of funding for public education.

By June of 2014, the results of Sam Brownback’s disasterous economic reforms  weren’t pretty. During the first fiscal year that his plan was in operation, which ended in June, the tax cuts had produced a staggering loss in revenue—$687.9 million, or 10.84 percent.

According to the nonpartisan Kansas Legislative Research Department, the state will run budget deficits through fiscal year 2019. Moody’s downgraded the state’s credit rating from AA1 to AA2; Standard & Poor’s followed suit. Such credit downgrades increase the state’s borrowing costs and further enlarge its deficit.

Yet in spite of the massive negative evidence of “Trickle Up“ fiscal policies, Donald Trump brags about doubling down on "Trickle Down" nationally, an economic policy that mainly inceases the wealth and consolidates the power of his elite kleptocrat cronies.

Markets

When viewing the Trump economic plan objectively, we did experience a Trump stock market rally mainly because of "business friendly" deregulation proposals tax cuts for the US plutocrats. 

Now that the Trump economic policies are almost two years implemented, we are now seeing the real negative effects of the "Trumpnomics" version of the "Trickle Down" philosophy on the US and global economies.

At the end of the Trump presidency in 2020, the rich will be even richer and the rest of America will still be angry.

Rocky Boschert

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