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Naomi Klein wrote extensively about Chile and the Chicago Boys in her book, "The Shock Doctrine."
Theory: The Shock Doctrine
Contributed by Mark Engler
“Only a crisis — actual or perceived — produces real change.” -- Neoliberal economist Milton Friedman
In Sum: Pro-corporate neoliberals treat crises such as wars, coups, natural disasters and economic downturns as prime opportunities to impose an agenda of privatization, deregulation, and cuts to social services.
Origins: Naomi Klein’s 2007 book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.
The shock doctrine is a theory for explaining the way that force, stealth and crisis are used in implementing neoliberal economic policies such as privatization, deregulation and cuts to social services. Author Naomi Klein advanced this theory in her 2007 book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.
By way of metaphor, Klein recounts the history of electroshock therapy experiments conducted by Scottish psychiatrist Ewen Cameron for the CIA in the 1950s. Cameron’s “shock therapy” sought to return troubled patients to a blank slate on which he could write a new personality. Klein argues that a parallel “shock therapy” process has been used at the macro level to impose neoliberal economic policies in countries around the world.
The shock doctrine posits that in periods of disorientation following wars, coups, natural disasters and economic panics, pro-corporate reformers aggressively push through unpopular “free market” measures. For more than thirty years, Klein writes, followers of Milton Friedman and other market fundamentalists have been “perfecting this very strategy: waiting for a major crisis, then selling off pieces of the state to private players while citizens were still reeling from the shock, then quickly making the ‘reforms’ permanent.”
One of the earliest examples of the shock doctrine is the case of Chile. In 1973, Chile’s democratically elected socialist President Salvador Allende was overthrown in a coup d’état led by army general Augusto Pinochet, with support from the United States. Amid lingering turmoil created by the coup and tensions caused by the ensuing economic downturn, Milton Friedman suggested that Pinochet implement a “shock program” of sweeping reforms including privatization of state-owned industries, elimination of trade barriers, and cuts to government spending. To implement these policies, the Pinochet regime appointed to important positions several Chilean disciples of Friedman. Additionally, to squash popular movements that opposed these changes, the regime unleashed a notorious program of torture and “disappearances,” which ultimately led to the deaths of thousands of dissidents.
For some reason, economist and neo-something Tyler Cowen has a big problem with that idea. The economist frp, George Mason University has seen the future and it looks bleak for most of us. Thankfully, the United States of America may be in for good times, especially for those perched atop the socio-economic pyramid scheme, should war break out.
By TYLER COWEN | October 3, 2007
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
by Naomi Klein
Ms. Klein's rhetoric is ridiculous. For instance, she attaches import to the fact that the word "tank" appears in the label "think tank." In her book, free market advocates are tarred with the brush of torture, because free market advocates often support unpopular policies, and torture also often supports unpopular policies. Clearly, by her tactic of freewheeling association, free market advocates must support torture. Often Ms. Klein's proffered connections are so impressionistic and so reliant on a smarmy wink to the knowing that it is impossible to present them, much less critique them, in the short space of a book review.
Rarely are the simplest facts, many of which complicate Ms. Klein's presentation, given their proper due. First, the reach of government has been growing in virtually every developed nation in the world, including in America, and it hardly seems that a far-reaching free market conspiracy controls much of anything in the wealthy nations. Second, Friedman and most other free market economists have consistently called for limits on state power, including the power to torture. Third, the reach of government has been shrinking in India and China, to the indisputable benefit of billions. Fourth, it is the New Deal — the greatest restriction on capitalism in 20th century America and presumably beloved by Ms. Klein — that was imposed in a time of crisis. Fifth, many of the crises of the 20th century resulted from anti-capitalistic policies, rather than from capitalism: China was falling apart because of the murderous and tyrannical policies of Chairman Mao, which then led to bottom-up demands for capitalistic reforms; New Zealand and Chile abandoned socialistic policies for freer markets because the former weren't working well and induced economic crises.
But the reader will search in vain for an intelligent discussion of any of these points. What the reader will find is a series of fabricated claims, such as the suggestion that Margaret Thatcher created the Falkland Islands crisis to crush the unions and foist unfettered capitalism upon an unwilling British public.
The simplest response to Ms. Klein's polemic is to invoke old school conservatism. This approach, most prominently represented by classical liberal Friedrich Hayek, rejected the idea of throwing out or revising all social institutions at once. Indeed the long history of conservative thought stands behind moderation in most matters of social and economic policy. That tradition does advise a scaling down of free market ambitions, no matter how good they may sound in theory, and is probably our best hedge against disasters of our own making. Such a simple — indeed sensible — point would not have produced a best-selling screed, however. And so we return to charging Friedman as an enabler of torture. The clash between democratic preferences and policy prescriptions is, if anything, a problem for Ms. Klein herself. Ms. Klein's previous book, "No Logo" (2000), called for rebellion against advertising and multinational corporations, two institutions which have proved remarkably popular with ordinary democratic citizens. Starbucks is ubiquitous because of pressure from the bottom, not because of a top-down decision to force capitalism upon the suffering workers in a time of crisis.
If nothing else, Ms. Klein's book provides an interesting litmus test as to who is willing to condemn its shoddy reasoning. In the New York Times, Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz defended the book: "Klein is not an academic and cannot be judged as one." So nonacademics get a pass on sloppy thinking, false "facts," and emotional appeals? In making economic claims, Ms. Klein demands to be judged by economists' standards — or at the very least, standards of simple truth or falsehood. Mr. Stiglitz continued: "There are many places in her book where she oversimplifies. But Friedman and the other shock therapists were also guilty of oversimplification." Have we come to citing the failures of one point of view to excuse the mistakes of another?
With "The Shock Doctrine," Ms. Klein has become the kind of brand she lamented in "No Logo." Brands offer a simplification of image and presentation, rather than stressing the complexity, the details, and the inevitable trade-offs of a particular product. Recently, Ms. Klein told the Financial Times, "I stopped talking about (the campaign against brands) about two weeks after ‘No Logo' was published." She admitted that brands were never her real target, rather they were a convenient means of attacking the capitalist system more generally. In the same interview, Ms. Klein also tellingly remarked, "I believe people believe their own bulls---. Ideology can be a great enabler for greed."
Which is all fine and good, until we remember that's what Naomi Klein was saying, that what destroyed democracy in Chile and threatens to destroy it in the USA. And not only that, WAR is what Tyler Cowen sees as being the economy of the future.
The Pitfalls of Peace
The Lack of Major Wars May Be Hurting Economic Growth
The New York Times, JUNE 13, 2014
The continuing slowness of economic growth in high-income economies has prompted soul-searching among economists. They have looked to weak demand, rising inequality, Chinese competition, over-regulation, inadequate infrastructure and an exhaustion of new technological ideas as possible culprits.
An additional explanation of slow growth is now receiving attention, however. It is the persistence and expectation of peace.
The world just hasn’t had that much warfare lately, at least not by historical standards. Some of the recent headlines about Iraq or South Sudan make our world sound like a very bloody place, but today’s casualties pale in light of the tens of millions of people killed in the two world wars in the first half of the 20th century. Even the Vietnam War had many more deaths than any recent war involving an affluent country.
Counterintuitive though it may sound, the greater peacefulness of the world may make the attainment of higher rates of economic growth less urgent and thus less likely. This view does not claim that fighting wars improves economies, as of course the actual conflict brings death and destruction. The claim is also distinct from the Keynesian argument that preparing for war lifts government spending and puts people to work. Rather, the very possibility of war focuses the attention of governments on getting some basic decisions right — whether investing in science or simply liberalizing the economy. Such focus ends up improving a nation’s longer-run prospects.
It may seem repugnant to find a positive side to war in this regard, but a look at American history suggests we cannot dismiss the idea so easily. Fundamental innovations such as nuclear power, the computer and the modern aircraft were all pushed along by an American government eager to defeat the Axis powers or, later, to win the Cold War. The Internet was initially designed to help this country withstand a nuclear exchange, and Silicon Valley had its origins with military contracting, not today’s entrepreneurial social media start-ups. The Soviet launch of the Sputnik satellite spurred American interest in science and technology, to the benefit of later economic growth.
War brings an urgency that governments otherwise fail to summon. For instance, the Manhattan Project took six years to produce a working atomic bomb, starting from virtually nothing, and at its peak consumed 0.4 percent of American economic output. It is hard to imagine a comparably speedy and decisive achievement these days.
Living in a largely peaceful world with 2 percent G.D.P. growth has some big advantages that you don’t get with 4 percent growth and many more war deaths. Economic stasis may not feel very impressive, but it’s something our ancestors never quite managed to pull off. The real questions are whether we can do any better, and whether the recent prevalence of peace is a mere temporary bubble just waiting to be burst.
Tyler Cowen is a professor of economics at George Mason University.
Dr. Cowen, from what I've read, is a fine person and not one to promulgate war. He's just sayin'.
He has commented on other Big Ticket economic themes impacting us today: "Inequality," for another instance.
Tired Of Inequality? One Economist Says It'll Only Get Worse
by NPR STAFF
September 12, 2013 3:05 AM
Economist Tyler Cowen has some advice for what to do about America's income inequality: Get used to it. In his latest book, Average Is Over, Cowen lays out his prediction for where the U.S. economy is heading, like it or not:
"I think we'll see a thinning out of the middle class," he tells NPR's Steve Inskeep. "We'll see a lot of individuals rising up to much greater wealth. And we'll also see more individuals clustering in a kind of lower-middle class existence."
It's a radical change from the America of 40 or 50 years ago. Cowen believes the wealthy will become more numerous, and even more powerful. The elderly will hold on to their benefits ... the young, not so much. Millions of people who might have expected a middle class existence may have to aspire to something else.
Some people, he predicts, may just have to find a new definition of happiness that costs less money. Cowen says this widening is the result of a shifting economy. Computers will play a larger role and people who can work with computers can make a lot. He also predicts that everyone will be ruthlessly graded — every slice of their lives, monitored, tracked and recorded.
CONTINUED with link to the audio...
For some reason, the interview with Steve Inskeep didn't bring up the subject of the GOVERNMENT DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT LIKE IN THE NEW DEAL so I thought I'd bring it up. I know you know, Zorra, but other DUers may not recall that the Democratic Party once actually did Big Things for the average American, from school and work to housing and justice. But, we can't afford that now, obviously, thanks to austerity or the sequester or the divided government or whatever it is we can't afford it, but forget we do have the ability to print up whatever amount the Banksters need to make whole their losses at the casino every time.
Posted by Octafish | Sun Jul 19, 2015, 10:09 PM (0 replies)
Operating on behalf of Nixon and Wall Street, the CIA and Milton Friedman & Friends perfected the art of turning the screws through austerity in Chile.
Too bad, so sad about all the little people who didn't go along with the big plan. Oh well. "Progress."
"The Chicago Boys in Chile: Economic Freedom's Awful Toll"
August 28, 1976
The Economic Prescription and Chile's Reality
These are the basic principles of the economic model offered by Friedman and his followers and adopted by the Chilean junta: that the only possible framework for economic development is one within which the private sector can freely operate; that private enterprise is the most efficient form of economic organization and that, therefore, the private sector should be the predominant factor in the economy. Prices should fluctuate freely in accordance with the laws of competition. Inflation, the worst enemy of economic progress, is the direct result of monetary expansion and can be eliminated only by a drastic reduction of government spending.
Except in present-day Chile, no government in the world gives private enterprise an absolutely free hand. That is so because every economist (except Friedman and his followers) has known for decades that, in the real life of capitalism, there is no such thing as the perfect competition described by classical liberal economists. In March 1975, in Santiago, a newsman dared suggest to Friedman that even in more advanced capitalist countries, as for example the United States, the government applies various types of controls on the economy. Mr. Friedman answered: I have always been against it, I don't approve of them. I believe we should not apply them. I am against economic intervention by the government, in my own country, as well as in Chile or anywhere else (Que Pasa, Chilean weekly, April 3, 1975).
A Rationale tor Power
Until September 11, 1973, the date of the coup, Chilean society had been characterized by the increasing participation of the working class and its political parties in economic and social decision making. Since about 1900, employing the mechanisms of representative democracy, workers had steadily gained new economic, social and political power. The election of Salvador Allende as President of Chile was the culmination of this process. For the first time in history a society attempted to build socialism by peaceful means. During Allende's time in office, there was a marked improvement in the conditions of employment, health, housing, land tenure and education of the masses. And as this occurred, the privileged domestic groups and the dominant foreign interests perceived themselves to be seriously threatened.
Despite strong financial and political pressure from abroad and efforts to manipulate the attitudes of the middle class by propaganda, popular support for the Allende government increased significantly between 1970 and 1973. In March 1973, only five months before the military coup, there were Congressional elections in Chile. The political parties of the Popular Unity increased their share of the votes by more than 7 percentage points over their totals in the Presidential election of 1970. This was the first time in Chilean history that the political parties supporting the administration in power gained votes during a midterm election. The trend convinced the national bourgeoisie and its foreign supporters that they would be unable to recoup their privileges through the democratic process. That is why they resolved to destroy the democratic system and the institutions of the state, and, through an alliance with the military, to seize power by force.
In such a context, concentration of wealth is no accident, but a rule; it is not the marginal outcome of a difficult situation -- as they would like the world to believe -- but the base for a social project; it is not an economic liability but a temporary political success. Their real failure is not their apparent inability to redistribute wealth or to generate a more even path of development (these are not their priorities) but their inability to convince the majority of Chileans that their policies are reasonable and necessary. In short, they have failed to destroy the consciousness of the Chilean people. The economic plan has had to be enforced, and in the Chilean context that could be done only by the killing of thousands, the establishment of concentration camps all over the country, the jailing of more than 100,000 persons in three years, the closing of trade unions and neighbourhood organizations, and the prohibition of all political activities and all forms of free expression.
While the Chicago boys have provided an appearance of technical respectability to the laissez-faire dreams and political greed of the old landowning oligarchy and upper bourgeoisie of monopolists and financial speculators, the military has applied the brutal force required to achieve those goals. Repression for the majorities and economic freedom for small privileged groups are in Chile two sides of the same coin.
Three weeks after this was published in The Nation (Aug. 28, 1976), Orlando Letelier was assassinated by a car bomb in Washington, D.C.
FWIW: Then-CIA Director George Herbert Walker Bush knew all about Operation Condor and didn't stop them from killing Orlando Letelier and his American companion, Ronni Moffit.
DCI Bush even told then-Congressman Ed Koch (D-NY), threatened anonymously for his work uncovering Operation Condor and its associated evil at the time, "Nothing I can do."
Why does this matter today? What the CIA and Big Money Boys did in Chile in 1973, they're doing to Greece and the USA now.
Something else: They know if We the People are sufficiently worried about keeping a roof over the family and food on the table, We won't have much time to worry about little stuff like Democracy.
More on the subject: from the National Security Archive at George Washington University.
Posted by Octafish | Sun Jul 19, 2015, 12:32 PM (18 replies)
Thank you, think! Watched on the tee vee way back then, yet I remember it like it was yesterday:
The Shredding of Democracy
excerpted from the book
The Secret Government
by Bill Moyers
Seven Locks Press, 1988
Ronald Reagan ran in 1980 with a strong and clear message the world was a hostile place and closing in on America. Russian troops were in Afghanistan, Sandinistas were in Nicaragua, and Americans were being held hostage in Iran. President Reagan wanted to reinvigorate the CIA. To run it, he chose a tough director, his campaign manager, William Casey.
They were ideological soulmates, true Cold Warriors on the offensive. In seven years Reagan approved over 50 major covert operations, more than any president since John F. Kennedy. Reagan and Casey set the agenda, but it was Oliver North's job to carry it out. In North, they had their 007.
North's primary mission was to keep the contra war going despite the congressional ban on aid. For two years he master minded a privately funded airlift to Honduras. According to some reports, criminal elements seized opportunities presented by the secret airlift to smuggle drugs back into the United States with profits being used to buy more weapons for the contras
SENATOR JOHN KERRY:
Were there contras who relied on the profits of narcotics in order to buy arms and to survive? Yes. I'm convinced of that. Once you open up a clandestine network which has the ability to deliver weapons or other goods from this country, leaving airfields secretly under the sanction of a "covert operation," with public officials, DEA, Customs, law enforcement, whatever, pulled back because of the covert sanctioning, you've opened the pipeline for nefarious types who are often involved in these kinds of activities to become the people who bring things back in.
North had been told the airlift was using questionable characters. Robert Owen, his contact man with the contras, wrote from the field that some of the leaders were running drugs. In February 1986, Owen advised North that a resupply plane had been used for shipping drugs. In Owen's words, "Part of the crew had criminal records."
SEN. DANIEL K. INOUYE, D.-Hawaii (Iran-contra hearings, 1987):
The second sentence says, "Nice group the boys choose." Who are the boys?
MR. OWEN: CIA.
So what happens? I asked Senator Kerry: "In effect, does the president of the United States say, 'This is the national security, you must step back and let these people do their job,' and therefore a lot of smugglers, drug traffickers, others, go through the back door?"
I don't think the president of the United States said specifically, "Look the other way to these things." I don't think the president of the United States knew these things were going on. But the president of the United States did encourage to such a degree the continuation of aid to the contras, and it was so clear, through Casey and Poindexter, etc., that this was going to please the president if it happened. It's clear that there were those who turned their heads and looked the other way because they knew that this major goal was out there and it was part of it, and if there happened to be these minor aberrations, as people referred to them, that was the price you were paying in the effort to accomplish the larger goal. Which larger goal, obviously, was against the law and against the wishes of the Congress and against the American people.
How does it happen that to be anticommunist we become undemocratic, as if we have to subvert our society in order to save it? Because the powers claimed by presidents in national security have become the controlling wheel of government, driving everything else. Secrecy then makes it possible for the president to pose as the sole competent judge of what will best protect our security. Secrecy permits the White House to control what others know. How many times have we heard a president say, "If you only knew what I know, you would understand why I'm doing what I'm doing." But it's a self-defeating situation. As Lord Acton said, "Everything secret degenerates, even the administration of justice." So in the bunker of the White House, the men who serve the president put loyalty above analysis. Judgment yields to obedience. Just salute and follow orders.
COLONEL NORTH (Iran-contra hearings, I987):
This lieutenant colonel is not going to challenge a decision of the commander in chief, for whom I still work, and I am proud to work for that commander in chief. And if the commander in chief tells this lieutenant colonel to go stand in the corner and sit on his head, I will do so.
That notion troubled Inouye, a combat hero of World War II. He reminded North of the military code, of a soldier's duty.
SENATOR INOUYE (Iran-contra hearings, 1987):
The uniform code makes it abundantly clear that it must be the lawful orders of a superior officer. In fact it says, "Members of the military have an obligation to disobey unlawful orders." This principle was considered so important that we - we, the government of the United States, proposed that it be internationally applied in the Nuremberg trials. And so in the Nuremberg trials we said that the fact that the defendant -
BRENDAN SULLIVAN, counsel to Colonel North:
Mr. Chairman, may I please register an objection?
May I continue my statement?
I find this offensive. I find you're engaging in a personal attack on Colonel North, and you're far removed from the issues of this case.
North's lawyer deflected Inouye, but some of North's fellow officers watching on television took issue with the colonel.
GEORGE GORMAN, former captain, U.S. Marine Corps:
I'm two years senior to Oliver North out of the Naval Academy, and the only thing he's got on me is a Silver Star and six more years in the Corps. And when Oliver North started to say the things he started to say, I literally wanted to throw things at my TV set. I seriously considered mailing my Naval Academy ring back to the Naval Academy and denying ever having gone there. I was so embarrassed and humiliated that a professional military officer would stoop to the dishonor and disgrace and warmongering that Oliver North and Poindexter and McFarlane and the rest of the crew did. Selling arms to the Iranians after they blew up the Beirut barracks, after they blew up the Beirut embassy, is the most immoral thing- that's like selling Zyklon-B to the Germans after you've found out the Holocaust is under way.
ROBERT COLCLASURE former captain, U.S. Marine Corps:
One of my drill instructors in the Marine Corps - there were a of protests in Washington, D.C., and somebody said, well, those commie lovers, or whatever - and the drill instructor told us something as we were about to graduate. He said, "What you're fighting for might be wrong or right, nobody really knows. But,"(he said) "there's a Constitution that allows those people to be out on the streets protesting." (He said) "That's what's worth fighting for. That's what the Constitution is." He said, "That's what you took an oath to, and when you put those bars on as a second lieutenant, you better remember that." I don't think Oliver North had that drill instructor.
It was career military men who managed the Iran-contra debacle under Reagan and Casey; North, Poindexter, McFarlane, Secord, and Singlaub were trained to fight wars, not run foreign policy. In war, the aim is absolute and simple: destroy the enemy, no matter what. They had little understanding of politics in Iran, in Nicaragua, and, most important, in Washington. Yet our foreign policy has increasingly become a military policy. Reagan has doubled the number of military men on the staff of the National Security Council. What was created in 1947 as a civilian advisory group to the president has become a command post for covert operations run by the military. Far removed from public view and congressional oversight, they are accountable only to the one man they serve. The framers of the Constitution feared this permanent state of war, with the commander in chief served by an elite private corps that put the claims of the sovereign above the Constitution.
Interesting how few people know this history, and when we try to bring it up, so many want to shoot down its discussion. I wonder why that would be?
Posted by Octafish | Sat Jul 18, 2015, 02:04 PM (0 replies)
Win-Win for Iran Contra.
How Vice President George Herbert Walker Bush became boss while Ronnie could get blame, er, "credit"...
George Bush Takes Charge: The Uses of ‘Counter-Terrorism’
By Christopher Simpson
Covert Action Quarterly 58
A paper trail of declassified documents from the Reagan‑Bush era yields valuable information on how counter‑terrorism provided a powerful mechanism for solidifying Bush's power base and launching a broad range of national security initiatives.
During the Reagan years, George Bush used "crisis management" and "counter‑terrorism" as vehicles for running key parts of the clandestine side of the US government.
Bush proved especially adept at plausible denial. Some measure of his skill in avoiding responsibility can be taken from the fact that even after the Iran‑Contra affair blew the Reagan administration apart, Bush went on to become the "foreign policy president," while CIA Director William Casey, by then conveniently dead, took most of the blame for a number of covert foreign policy debacles that Bush had set in motion.
The trail of National Security Decision Directives (NSDDS) left by the Reagan administration begins to tell the story. True, much remains classified, and still more was never committed to paper in the first place. Even so, the main picture is clear: As vice president, George Bush was at the center of secret wars, political murders, and America's convoluted oil politics in the Middle East.
Reagan and the NSC also used NSDDs to settle conflicts among security agencies over bureaucratic turf and lines of command. It is through that prism that we see the first glimmers of Vice President Bush's role in clandestine operations during the 1980s.
NSDD 159. MANAGEMENT OF U.S. COVERT OPERATIONS, (TOP SECRET/VEIL‑SENSITIVE), JAN. 18,1985
The Reagan administration's commitment to significantly expand covert operations had been clear since before the 1980 election. How such operations were actually to be managed from day to day, however, was considerably less certain. The management problem became particularly knotty owing to legal requirements to notify congressional intelligence oversight committees of covert operations, on the one hand, and the tacitly accepted presidential mandate to deceive those same committees concerning sensitive operations such as the Contra war in Nicaragua, on the other.
The solution attempted in NSDD 159 was to establish a small coordinating committee headed by Vice President George Bush through which all information concerning US covert operations was to be funneled. The order also established a category of top secret information known as Veil, to be used exclusively for managing records pertaining to covert operations.
The system was designed to keep circulation of written records to an absolute minimum while at the same time ensuring that the vice president retained the ability to coordinate US covert operations with the administration's overt diplomacy and propaganda.
Only eight copies of NSDD 159 were created. The existence of the vice president's committee was itself highly classified. The directive became public as a result of the criminal prosecutions of Oliver North, John Poindexter, and others involved in the Iran‑Contra affair, hence the designation "Exhibit A" running up the left side of the document.
CovertAction Quarterly no 58 Fall 1996 pp31-40
Thank you for an infinitely important OP, eridani. Democracy is what we lost during the last half of the 20th century. DU helps bring it back.
Posted by Octafish | Sat Jul 18, 2015, 09:56 AM (0 replies)
..."complex organic chemicals" spewed from a volcano on Enceladus, one of Saturn's moons.
Small, icy Enceladus is of great scientific interest because it is surprisingly active. Cassini discovered an icy plume shooting from this moon, and subsequent observations have revealed the spray contains complex organic chemicals. Tidal heating is keeping Enceladus warm, and hotspots associated with the fountains have been pinpointed. With heat, organic chemicals and, potentially liquid water, Enceladus could be a place where primitive life forms might evolve. Questions surrounding Enceladus’s “astrobiological potential” are at the heart of many investigations being conducted in the Solstice Mission.
As you know, PCIntern, the Vatican has a world-class astronomy and astrophysics division.
Alan Stern, Pluto's friend, says a similar story may be developing out that way -- without gravitational tidal warming. "Pluto could have astrobiological potential."
For kids who grew up on the Apollo program, the last few days have been great!
Posted by Octafish | Thu Jul 16, 2015, 08:26 PM (0 replies)
Saving the Saudis
Just days after 9/11, wealthy Saudi Arabians, including members of the bin Laden family, were whisked out of the U.S. on private jets. No one will admit to clearing the flights, and the passengers weren’t questioned. Did the Bush family’s long relationship with the Saudis help make it happen?
BY CRAIG UNGER
Vanity Fair, October 2003
Many of the Saudis acknowledge that they contributed to the charities in question but say they had no knowledge that the money would end up in the hands of al-Qaeda. “The biggest problem we have with Saudi charities is poor and sloppy management,” says Nail al-Jubeir.
The plaintiffs’ attorneys do not consider that a satisfactory answer. In addition, they believe that, by interviewing the bin Ladens and members of the royal family before they left the country, the government could have answered some key questions. “They should have been asked whether they had contacts or knew of any other Saudi contacts with Osama bin Laden,” says Allan Gerson, co—lead counsel for the plaintiffs in the case. “What did they know about the financing of al-Qaeda? What did they know about the use of charitable institutions in the U.S. and elsewhere as conduits for terrorism financing? Why was the Saudi government not responsive to U.S. pleas in 1999 and 2000 that they stop turning a blind eye to terrorist financing through Saudi banks and charities?”
All of which leads to the question of who made the decision to let the Saudis go. And why? Could the long-standing relationship between the Saudis and the Bush family have influenced the administration?
National-security experts such as Richard Clarke find that suggestion dubious. “Prince Bandar played a very key role during the first Gulf War,” Clarke says. “He was very close to the Bush family. But I don’t think it’s accurate to say that he plays that role now. There’s a realization that we have to work with the government we’ve got in Saudi Arabia. The alternatives could be far worse. The most likely replacement to the House of Saud is likely to be more hostile—in fact, extremely hostile—to the U.S. That’s probably the reason the administration treats it the way it does—not any personal relationship.” With the war on terror getting under way, the U.S. wanted Saudi cooperation, and repatriation was clearly a high priority at the highest levels of the kingdom.
Still, the Bush-Saudi relationship raises serious questions, if only because it is so extraordinary for two presidents to share such a long and rich personal history with any foreign power, much less one that is both as vital to U.S. economic interests and as troublesome as Saudi Arabia.
It began in the mid-70s, when two young Saudi billionaires—Salem bin Laden, Osama’s older brother and the head of the Saudi Binladin Group, and Khalid bin Mahfouz, a billionaire Saudi banker—first came to Texas hoping to forge political relationships. To represent their American interests, they chose a Houston businessman named James R. Bath, who knew George W. Bush from the Texas Air National Guard. Bath invested $50,000 in Bush’s new oil company, Arbusto. He denies, however, that his investment represented the Saudis’ interests.
In 1986, George W. Bush sold the latest incarnation of his failing oil company to Harken Energy, an independent Texas oil company that was struggling itself, and took a seat on its board of directors. By then, Khalid bin Mahfouz had become the largest stockholder in the Bank of Commerce & Credit International, or B.C.C.I., an international bank which financed drug dealers, terrorists, and covert operations and which became known as the most corrupt financial institution in history.
Once Bush was with Harken, a phantom courtship by Khalid bin Mahfouz and B.C.C.I. began. Neither George W. Bush nor Harken ever had any direct contact with bin Mahfouz or B.C.C.I. Yet once Bush took his seat on the board, wonderful things started to happen to Harken—new investments, unexpected sources of financing, serendipitous drilling rights. Among those with links to B.C.C.I. who came to Harken’s aid were the Arkansas investment bank Stephens Inc., Saudi investor Sheik Abdullah Bakhsh, and the Emir of Bahrain, who unexpectedly awarded Harken exclusive offshore drilling rights. In 1991, a Wall Street Journal investigation into Harken’s B.C.C.I. ties concluded, “The number of B.C.C.I.-connected people who had dealings with Harken—all since George W. Bush came on board—likewise raises the question of whether they mask an effort to cozy up to a presidential son.”
After George H. W. Bush and James Baker returned to the private sector in 1993, they finally began to reap the benefits of their friendship with the Saudis. That year, Baker took a position as senior counselor with the Carlyle Group, the $16 billion private-equity firm. Two years later, Bush signed on as senior adviser. In 1998, former British prime minister John Major joined the firm as well.
On several occasions, Bush, Baker, and Major flew to Saudi Arabia with Carlyle executives to meet with and speak before members of the royal family and wealthy businessmen such as the bin Ladens and the bin Mahfouzes, Saudi Arabia’s richest banking family.
As world leaders who had defended the Saudis during the Gulf War, Bush, Baker, and Major had the potential to be star rainmakers for Carlyle, and the firm’s practices allowed them to do so without sullying their hands by asking for money directly. “Bush’s speeches are about what it’s like to be a former president, and what it’s like to be the father of a president,” says Carlyle C.E.O. David Rubenstein. “He doesn’t talk about Carlyle or solicit investors.” After Bush’s speeches, Rubenstein and his fund-raising team would come in for the money. “Carlyle wanted to open up doors,” one observer told The Independent, “and they bring in Bush and Major, who saved the Saudis’ ass in the Gulf War. If you got these guys coming in ... those companies are going to have it pretty good.” Rubenstein says Bush and Baker were not given special treatment in Saudi Arabia. “They were well received there, as they are throughout the world.”
Posted by Octafish | Wed Jul 15, 2015, 11:50 AM (1 replies)
"And so the saying in the savings and loan industry is true again: Holder was chasing mice while lions roam the campsite."
After Eric Holder Resigns, A Look at His Record on Bank Prosecutions
Former financial regulator Bill Black says Holder's legacy on "too big to fail" is "too big to jail"
The Real News - October 3, 14, 2014
PERIES: So what raced through your mind as you heard the news this morning about Eric Holder's resignation?
BLACK: Well, I'll focus on the areas I know about. And in your introduction, the war on whistleblowers will be the most relevant part, along, of course, with the complete strategic failure, the greatest strategic failure in the history of the Department of Justice, which I once worked at, against elite white-collar crime epidemics.
And so Eric Holder has surprised me. I always predicted that he would at least find one token case to prosecute some bank senior executive for crimes that led to the creation of the financial crisis and the global Great Recession.
PERIES: Why did it surprise you, Bill?
BLACK: Well, he's actually going to leave without even a token conviction, or even a token effort at convicting. So, in baseball terms, he struck out every time, batting 0.000, but he actually never took a swing. So he was called out on strikes looking, as we would say in baseball. And I couldn't believe that he would leave without at least having one attempted prosecution against these folks. So he hasn't done the most--he never did the most elementary things required to succeed. He never reestablished the criminal referral process, which is from the banking regulatory agencies, who are the only ones who are going to do widescale criminal referrals against bank CEOs, because, of course, banks won't make criminal referrals against their own CEOs. Holder could have reestablished that criminal referral process in a single email on the first day in office to his counterparts in the banking regulatory agencies, and he's going to leave never having attempted to do so.
On top of that, if you're not going to have criminal referrals from the agencies, the only other conceivable way that you're going to learn about elite criminal misconduct of this kind is through whistleblowers. And as you mentioned, this administration, and Eric Holder in particular, are known for the viciousness of their war against whistleblowers. What the public doesn't know--and it doesn't know because of Eric Holder--is that in the three biggest cases involving banks--again, none of them, not a single prosecution of the elite bankers that drove this crisis--all three of those cases, against Citicorp, against JPMorgan, and against Bank of America, were made possible by whistleblowers. Eric Holder was the czar at the Department of Justice press conferences in each of these three cases, and he and the Justice Department officials, the senior Justice Department officials, at those press conferences, never mentioned the role of the whistleblowers--never praised the whistleblowers and never used those press conferences as a forum for asking whistleblowers to come forward. And so your viewers should take a look at the Frontline special on this, where the Frontline producers made clear that as soon as word got out that they were investigating the area, dozens of whistleblowers came forward, and each of them had the same story: the Department of Justice had never contacted them.
So, instead of going after the big guys--by the way, they didn't go after the small CEOs either. I keep talking about elite CEOs, for obvious reasons: they cause far greater damage. But there are all these CEOs of the not very big mortgage banks who are not prestigious, who are not politically powerful, and Eric Holder refused to prosecute them as well. What did he do instead? Well, he prosecuted several hundred mice. And so the saying in the savings and loan industry is true again: Holder was chasing mice while lions roam the campsite.
And most disgraceful of all, the official position of the Justice Department and the FBI, as I've written and quoted from their annual reports on mortgage fraud, is that mortgage fraud is largely supposedly an ethnic crime, with particular disfavored ethnic groups, like Russian Americans. This is (A) not true and (B) an obscenity, for the Department of Justice in particular, which is, after all, charged with preventing this kind of discrimination. Not only is the Justice Department and the FBI spreading this absolute lie about ethnic guilt, but they're following through, and they are disproportionately prosecuting folks of disfavored minorities. And that is a particular evil and disgusting thing that will be on the tombstone of Eric Holder when historians write about him.
PS: And to think some may still wonder why We the People deserve austerity. Thankfully a few have noticed it's not what we deserve.
PPS: Thanks to the great DUer marym625 for suggesting this for an OP from "The Big Banks Had A Secret Agent In The Government."
Posted by Octafish | Wed Jul 15, 2015, 10:59 AM (24 replies)
Tuesday, 14 July 2015 00:00
By Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch | Book Review
Let me give you a reason that's anything but historical for reading Tim Weiner's remarkable new book, One Man Against the World: The Tragedy of Richard Nixon. Mind you, with the last of the secret Nixon White House tapes finally made public some 40 years after the first of them were turned over to courts, prosecutors, and Congress, this will undoubtedly be the ultimate book on that president's reign of illegality.
Read Weiner's new book - he's also the author of a classic history of the CIA and another on the FBI - and it turns out that the president who resigned from office in disgrace in August 1974 provided a blueprint for the world that Washington would construct after the 9/11 attacks. If Weiner's vision of Nixon is on the mark, then we never got rid of him. We still live in a Nixonian world. And if you need proof of that, just think about his infamous urge to listen in on and tape everyone. Does that sound faintly familiar?
Nixon had the Secret Service turn the Oval Office (five microphones in his desk, two at a sitting area), its telephones, the Cabinet Room (two mics), and his "hideaway" in the Executive Office Building into recording studios. He bugged his own life, ensuring that anything you said to the president of the United States would be recorded, thousands and thousands of hours of it. He was theoretically going to use those recordings for a post-presidential memoir (from which he hoped to make millions) and as a defense against whatever Henry Kissinger might someday write about him.
But whatever the initial impulse may have been, the point was to miss nothing. No one was to be exempted, including Nixon's closest companions in office, no one but the president himself. He would know what others wouldn't and act accordingly (though in the end he didn't). What was one man's mania for bugging and recording his world has become, in the twenty-first century, the NSA's mania for bugging and recording the whole planet; a president's mad vision, that is, somehow morphed into the modern surveillance state. The scale is staggeringly different, but conceptually it's surprising how little has changed.
After all, the NSA's global surveillance network was set up on the Nixonian principle of sweeping it all up - the words, in whatever form, of everyone who was anyone (and lots of people who weren't). A generation of German politicians, Brazilians galore, terror suspects as well as just about anyone with a cell phone in the tribal backlands of the planet, two presidents of Mexico, three German chancellors, three French presidents, at least 35 heads of state, the secretary general of the UN, and so on. The list was unending. As with Nixon, only officials of the national security state were to know that all our communications were being logged and stored. Only they were to be exempt from potential scrutiny. (Hence their utter outrage when Edward Snowden revealed their racket to the world.) Like Nixon, they would, in the end, be left with the same hopeless, incriminating overload of words. They would sweep it all up and yet, drowning in data, they wouldn't hear a thing.
(Left to Righter) Senators Richard Byrd, Richard Nixon, and Prescott Bush Sr. enjoying a moment backstage.
Posted by Octafish | Tue Jul 14, 2015, 04:59 PM (0 replies)
And buy everything at the company store.
Posted by Octafish | Tue Jul 14, 2015, 04:41 PM (1 replies)
Friedman the turd should be in prison making little rocks out of big ones for the rest of his natural days, along with the rest of the PNAC warmonger crew.
They are not Untermenschen, Thomas. Arabs are human beings.
Posted by Octafish | Tue Jul 14, 2015, 09:18 AM (0 replies)