Saturday, August 26, 2017

SUGGESTED READING LIST ~ AUG 25, 2017


Over at that left-wing bastion of socialist propaganda known as The Business Insider, a question is asked: “How Did George Soros Become the Favorite Boogeyman of the Right?” The answer, which might surprise you, begins thusly:
The day after Donald Trump became president of the United States, thousands of people in pink hats marched the streets. They were protesting Trump's stance on women's rights, among other issues. 
But some looked at the sea of pink and saw something else: the invisible hand of a man they believe is not just funding liberal protest movements but controlling the world's wealth and pushing a global order. 
It's not true, but the man these conspiracy theorists target is George Soros, the prominent billionaire hedge fund manager. 
The 86-year-old has become a Rorschach test. To the left, he's a rich guy openly supporting causes many liberals believe in. But to some on the far right, he's more sinister and nefarious, despite a lack of evidence. For two decades, some have seen Soros as a kind of puppet master secretly controlling the global economy and politics. 
At times Soros has wielded great power. In the early 1990s, he bet against the British pound, which broke England's monetary system overnight and earned him more than a billion dollars. Later in the decade, he took similar steps during Asian Financial Crisis. 
Many saw it as capitalizing off of catastrophes and the Malaysian prime minister even accused Soros of purposefully bringing down the value of his country's currency by more than 15%. 
From there, he's become a singular target of unfounded right-wing conspiracy theories, in part because he has so few peers on the left.
Read the whole thing to learn all the Five W's related to the man who--thanks to a heavy dose of tragically ironic psychological projection--has become the enemy of choice for the rogue Deep State faction that yer old pal Jerky has taken to calling the New Fascist International.

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If you've been even marginally invested in current events over the past 12 months, then you've probably seen or heard the name "Magnitsky" in one context or another. Sergei Magnitsky is (I mean was) a Russian lawyer who, after helping to expose the epic levels of corruption in contemporary Russian society, was detained on trumped up charges, chained to a prison bed, then tortured and beaten to death. The Magnitsky Act--a law targeting Russian human rights abusers by freezing their American assets and banning them from entering the US--was passed by US Congress in 2012, and was named in his honor. But even if you knew all that, trust me, there's a whole lot more that you don't know yet. And that's where this excellent and thorough NPR report comes in. It begins:
William Browder knows Vladimir Putin's Russia all too well. 
Browder made a fortune in Russia, in the process uncovering, he says, incredible amounts of fraud and corruption. When he tried to report it to authorities, the government kicked him out of the country and, he alleges, tortured and killed the lawyer he was working with. 
In what one senator called one of the Senate Judiciary Committee's "most important" hearings, Browder, a wealthy businessman-turned-activist-turned Putin-adversary shed a chilling new light on a Russian system of government that operates ruthlessly in the shadows — as Browder described it for lawmakers: a "kleptocracy" sustained by corruption, blackmail, torture and murder with Putin at its center. 
"Effectively the moment that you enter into their world," Browder told senators investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, "you become theirs."
Browder's story — how he ended up living in London, after almost a decade of vast success as a businessman in Moscow, is arguably a case study in how Putin's government works: a system of intermediary influential businessmen who aren't directly employed by the Russian government, but who benefit financially from Putin's regime. 
Browder founded and ran one of the largest investment firms in Russia, Hermitage Capital Management, from 1996-2005. When he and his lawyer Sergei Magnitsky discovered a massive corruption scheme, they went to the authorities. 
"And we waited for the good guys to get the bad guys," he told the Senate Judiciary Committee. "It turned out that in Putin's Russia, there are no good guys."


Folks, this is must read material. Whether you're leaning towards Russo-apologetics, or even if you just know some poor, deluded useless alt.right/alt.left goof (yes, the alt.left exists, but not the way Trump thinks) who might be falling for that shit, you need to arm yourself with information. This is a great place to start.

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In this excellent Truthout interview with Nancy MacLean--author of the current book Democracy in Chains: A Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America--we are introduced to the intriguing character of James McGill Buchanan, an almost completely forgotten economist from the 1950's who nevertheless exerts tremendous influence over the contemporary libertarian wing of Movement Conservatism. In some ways, he's kind of like the their Leo Strauss (long time Daily Dirt readers will know what I mean). Here's how the interview kicks off:
Mark Karlin: Can you summarize the importance of James McGill Buchanan to the development of the modern extreme right wing in the United States? 
Nancy MacLean: The modern extreme right wing I'm talking about, just to be clear, is the libertarian movement that now sails under the Republican flag, particularly but not only the Freedom Caucus, yet goes back to the 1950's in both parties. President Eisenhower called them "stupid" and fashioned his approach--calling it modern Republicanism--as an antidote to them. Goldwater was their first presidential candidate. He bombed. Reagan, they believed, was going to enact their agenda. He didn't. But beginning in the early 2000s, they became a force to be reckoned with. What had changed? The discovery by their chief funder, Charles Koch, of the approach developed by James McGill Buchanan for how to take apart the liberal state. 
Buchanan studied economics at the University of Chicago and belonged to the same milieu as F.A. Hayek, Milton Friedman and Ludwig von Mises, but he used his training to analyze public life. And he supplied what no one else had: an operational strategy to vanquish the model of government they had been criticizing for decades--and prevent it from being recreated. It was Buchanan who taught Koch that for capitalism to thrive, democracy must be enchained. 
Buchanan was a very smart man, the only winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics from the US South, in fact. But his life's work was forever shaped by the Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision. He arrived in Virginia in 1956, just as the state's leaders were goading the white South to fight the court's ruling, a ruling he saw not through the lens of equal protection of the law for all citizens but rather as another wave in a rising tide of unwarranted and illegitimate federal interference in the affairs of the states that began with the New Deal. For him what was at stake was the sanctity of private property rights, with northern liberals telling southern owners how to spend their money and behave correctly. Given an institute to run on the campus of the University of Virginia, he promised to devote his academic career to understanding how the other side became so powerful and, ultimately, to figuring out an effective line of attack to break down what they had created and return to what he and the Virginia elite viewed as appropriate for America. In a nutshell, he studied the workings of the political process to figure out what was needed to deny ordinary people--white and Black--the ability to make claims on government at the expense of private property rights and the wishes of capitalists. And then he identified how to rejigger that political process not only to reverse the gains but also to prevent the system from ever reverting back. He sought, in his words, to "enchain Leviathan," which is why I titled the book Democracy in Chains. 
Why, until your book, has his importance to the right wing been largely overlooked?
There are a few reasons Buchanan has been overlooked. One is that the Koch cause does not advertise his work, preferring to tout the sunnier primers of Hayek, Friedman and even Ayn Rand when recruiting. Buchanan is the advanced course, as it were, for the already committed. Another is that Buchanan did not seek the limelight like Friedman, so few on the left have even heard of him. I myself learned of him only by serendipity, in a footnote about the Virginia schools fight. 
His importance to the right wing could only be identified by working through the archival sources that provide context for his published work. That's what I did after discovering that Buchanan had urged the full privatization of Virginia's public schooling in 1959, and then learning that he later advised the Pinochet regime on a capital-protecting constitution that could withstand the end of the dictatorship. Even with both of those data points, I don't think I could have gleaned the full import of his project had I not moved to North Carolina in 2010, where a strategy informed by his thought has been applied with a vengeance by the veto-proof Republican legislative majority that came to power in the midterms that fall. After Buchanan died in 2013, I was able to get access to his private papers at George Mason University, where the documentation is incontrovertible. 
You really should read this whole interview, particularly if you want to learn “what a society based on Buchanan's principles and goals would look like”, or to learn more about the intersection of his economics and White Supremacy. Yer old pal Jerky sincerely believes that, for a certain percentage of those reading it, the information contained in this interview is going to be an important, life-changing encounter that leads to the creation of one, or many, antidotes, so to speak. Then, if the spirit should move you, use this link to buy MacLean's book, so that yer old pal Jerky gets a few shekels dropped into his beggin' cup!

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QUOTE OF THE DAY

“America has this back-ass-wards Calvinist streak where calling for the expulsion and genocide of non-white races is just a difference of opinion. But making a sex joke at a corporate mascot who paid money to advertise to you is cause for censure.”

- 30-year-old Alex Boivin provides us with the week's most incisive bit of political wisdom as he reacts to being suspended from Twitter for telling Tony the Tiger he'd "hit that". 

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