May 3, 2017

Dems = Wall St. Party, GOP = Pentagon Party

After evaluating which areas Trump has made the most progress in, and which areas he has been hijacked and directed 180 degrees away from his campaign views, we can surmise which interest groups are sacrosanct within GOP partisan politics and which are expendable. Likewise when we look back at Obama's campaign promises vs. his actual outcomes in office, we can tell who is "in" and who is "out" within Democrat politics.

Of all the various factions within the Establishment or Deep State, two have the ability to really grind society to a halt that allows them to play primary roles in directing policy. The first is the financial faction, including both Wall Street and the Fed, who can bring the economy to a halt. The second is the military, based in the Pentagon, who can bring physical security to a halt at a national level.

Other factions of the Establishment appear to cluster around either of these two poles rather than serve as third or fourth poles of equal strength (e.g., the less powerful media joining the more powerful Wall Street pole, and the less powerful oil joining the more powerful military pole).

Trump's military policy has clearly been taken over by a boarding party from the Pentagon, resurrecting the Axis of Evil framework of 2002, continuing the Cold War framework from even longer ago. No fewer than three Generals in good Pentagon standing are in his Cabinet (Mattis, Kelly, McMaster). In the recent Congressional funding bill, Republicans scored no major victories except for Defense pork getting a $20 billion boost.

On the other hand, Trump immediately withdrew the US from the TPP, has begun to gut NAFTA as we know it, speculated about breaking up the "big banks" and enacting a new Glass-Steagall Act that would prevent investment banks from running as wild as they have been, and he wants reciprocal taxes vis-a-vis other nations who put tariffs on our exports.

In short, Trump has had free rein to beat up Wall Street and the financial elites, but cannot do more than cosmetic touches to the Pentagon and its military elites.

For Obama, it was just the opposite: he did not let the Pentagon get what they wanted, even if he was more hawkish than you would have expected from the campaign trail. They didn't invade or even strike Syria, didn't surround North Korea, or pick on Cuba. They did get the consolation prize of getting to invade Libya and topple Qaddafi, but they also had to pull most of our troops out of Iraq and diminish our presence in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile the first thing he did was bail out Wall Street, pass the Wall Street lobby's Dodd-Frank Act, then rolled out multiple rounds of "quantitative easing" stimulus packages that propped up the economic elites, and ordered the Fed to keep interest rates at 0. For Obama it was Wall Street who hand-selected his Cabinet, and where he has returned to receive "speaking fees" (pay-offs) after leaving the White House. That was all contradictory to candidate Obama's quasi-populist fulmination against the big banks, Wall Street running amok, and those evil corporate Republicans always trying to provide corporate welfare to the super-rich.

So, Obama could obstruct the Pentagon to a fair degree, whereas anything that Wall Street wanted, Wall Street received.

You see the same with Bush II, who didn't focus nearly so much on juicing up Wall Street, and was focused more instead on driving up the debt by funding the Pentagon's multiple wet dreams (Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.).

Most people forget it was Clinton who repealed Glass-Steagall, re-opening the laissez-faire floodgates in the banking industry. That same year saw a Newsweek cover that made superheroes out of Clinton's Treasury Secretaries and Fed Chairman ("the Three Marketeers" making up the "committee to save the world"). Clinton passed NAFTA and defended it against Bob Dole's challenges during the 1996 re-election campaign, and against Ross Perot's populist campaigns in both elections. Clinton was endorsed in '92 by The Economist, which has endorsed Democrats in every election since then excepting Dole in '96 and Bush in 2000.

At the same time, Clinton didn't let the Pentagon invade Iraq like they had done under the preceding and succeeding administrations. Bomb a little here, bomb a little there, but he did not let the Pentagon get their way.

I won't keep going back through all previous Presidents, but suffice it to say that this pattern goes back through Carter. Before him, it was the Democrats who were the party of hawkish interventionists and labor unionists, while the Republicans were the party of free marketeers and isolationists wary of the military-industrial complex.

Why has the military latched onto the GOP so much in recent decades, and Wall Street so much onto the Democrats? As the parties have become increasingly aligned with liberals or conservatives, it has driven the more conservative military to the GOP and the more liberal financiers to the Democrats.

The voter bases reflect this split as well, with conservatives identifying more with the military, and liberals more with business professionals. This boils down to liberals being more abstract and cerebral, and conservatives being more concrete and physical in orientation (nerds vs. jocks, Jews vs. Celts).

The cognitive vs. corporeal divide also leads the secondary interest groups to either major party. The Democrats are not only the party of Wall Street but of the media, while the Republicans attract not only the military but resource extraction industries (oil, coal, corn -- sugar, bananas, and diamonds in another time or place). It was Clinton who passed the Telecommunications Act in '96, and Obama who practiced laissez-faire toward the internet giants like Amazon and Google. It's Trump who approved two oil pipelines upon assuming office.

The finance and media sectors are both centered in New York City, while the military and resource extraction sectors are more spread out through the red states, especially in the Greater South. That relates back to voting bases via the Electoral College -- the finance party will do well along the ACELA corridor, while the military party will do well in the South.

That's why Obama could give the Pentagon something of the cold shoulder -- they did not get him elected, so what did he owe them? Ditto for Trump -- Wall Street did not get him elected, so what does he owe them?

By now there is a clear tacit understanding between the two major factions of the elites that when a Democrat wins the White House, the financial elites will get their way more than the military elites, and vice versa if a Republican wins the White House.

That's why the Pentagon was so outraged over Trump's attempted reversal of the military elite's goal of continuing the Cold War -- with the Republican Party now holding the magical White House lamp in its hands, it's the Pentagon's turn to have the Presidential genie grant them their three wishes. And that's why the financial elites were quick to send their boarding party into the Obama administration, just in case he got any funny ideas about fulfilling his campaign rhetoric of being both anti-war and anti-Wall Street. After the Republicans feeding at the debt trough during the Iraq War, it was now time for the Democrats to feed at the trough during the bailout marathon.

Curiously, then, Trump's main accomplishments may wind up being Bernie Sanders-style economic populism, instead of the Pat Buchanan-style shake-up in military policy that everybody thought would come more easily to a Republican administration. In the shift away from globalism, we are getting economic nationalism but are still stuck with military globalism, given which party controls the White House.

My initial expectation was that we'd have an easier time with nationalism than populism, but I was naive about how much the Pentagon would go along with Trump's proposed re-orientation away from the Cold War, "re-jiggering NATO", and so on. I figured they had learned some lessons from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and were not pushing as hard under Obama as they had under Bush. Now it seems more likely that they would have loved to continue Iraq and Afghanistan under McCain, but a Democrat President is not beholden to the military for electoral victory, and the Pentagon would not get their wish.

The warmongers were just biding their time until another Republican won the White House, and they have not wasted any time trying to check off all of the remaining Cold War boxes, just in case Trump is a fluke Republican President and they don't get another turn to rub the White House lamp. I'm afraid that means that military policy during the Trump administration will be characterized by the Pentagon going for broke, and we will have to plan accordingly.


  1. I suspect you're exactly right. I've missed you bringing up the corporeal vs cerebral overlays to your analysis; and now you've added the Celtic vs Jewish axis which really is descriptive (personally, Ashkenazim would be stronger I feel; Israel and other Jews tend to give me that wisened MidEast prophet vibe)... It's omnipresent, the tribal-conservative-militarism of our fellow Trump supporters, mainly the Boomers, that I agree we were naive. St. Eisenhower, we beseech thee in our hour of need...
    The Ron Paul Revolution must continue...
    On the other side, completely keeping with everything you wrote, I've been seeing and feeling that they will have an *incredibly* difficult time orienting their party in a populist direction. Which kind of candidate will the average Dem want to open up their wallet for: a striving, affluent district ripe for flipping or a conservative populist district that has actually elected Democrats? And we already know which kind the Party likes, so...

  2. It's just really something that, by far, the largest and loudest anti-war contingent is in the Pentagon Party, as you put it.

    Perhaps this is another symptom of re-alignment, it is concentrated among Gen X and younger and appeals more to populists than conservatives.

    (BTW, when ever I visualize the Celt-x axis in my mind's eye, I always put as x the Northern European-absolutist-Protestant who believes in purification through killing)

  3. "Which kind of candidate will the average Dem want to open up their wallet for: a striving, affluent district ripe for flipping or a conservative populist district that has actually elected Democrats?"

    That includes the Bernie people too, for the most part. I mean the high-level organizers, alt media people, etc. They still think that Bernie won mega-metros and non-whites, rather than white people living outside of big metro areas.

    Whenever the TYT types leave their bubble, they always pick the closest thing to it in flyover country -- Cleveland, Flint, Gary IN (Chicago), etc. Lots of minorities, big city with grinding poverty and affluent suburbs. Or if it's a small town, it has to be transplants from rich cities -- a college town.

    If they tried to organize the people who actually voted for Bernie, they would suffer moral contamination from moderates and conservatives. They might even hear a non-ironic use of the word "sandnigger"!

    It's not just the Crooked Hillary people, like the ones trying to flip that rich suburb of Atlanta. The primary challenger to Debbie Wasserman-Schultz was a Bernie person, and it too was a rich white suburb in the Sun Belt.

    Why aren't the Bernie people trying to organize non-urban Wisconsin and non-urban Michigan? Or trying to reclaim the rural old Frontier, a la William Jennings Bryan?

    They look down their nose at those people, and wouldn't go near them for fear of racism by osmosis.

    When the Dems were the Populist party, they were aligned with the Temperance movement -- now they're the #1 promoters of drug addiction and sexual degeneracy.

    The culture wars have truly neutered the Democrat opposition. At least we won't have to worry about them, only the Republican traitors.

    1. If they tried to organize the people who actually voted for Bernie, they would suffer moral contamination from moderates and conservatives. They might even hear a non-ironic use of the word "sandnigger"!

      This gives me an excuse to bring up a phenomenal party device. So, so wrong, but so, so right... My sister and I enjoyed one of the greatest, most purely joyous laughs a few months back and here was the recipe:
      absolute smashed + being a virgin to "Moon Man"
      My husband put this on for us which we had never heard before and something about the absolute most racist filth being uttered in a monotone robotic voice while drunk was the funniest thing ever experienced! My sister and I were crying, Ag, tears rolling down our faces, over something we'd be denouncing if we listened to it while sober. She kept uttering, "I can't believe somebody hasn't found and killed this guy!"

      Okay, now seriously.. Yeah, I get that feeling from the Berniacs as well. At the very same time, I see this worry about taint as truly the achilles heel of liberals at this moment. They're the Silent Gen Dad trying to keep his Gen X son from listening to the Devil's music.

  4. on the foreign policy front i think the flip flopping is exaggerated to be honest with you. and believe me i'm more than willing to criticize trump for flip flopping on various issues, i've been a reluctant supporter of his. but the fact is trump was always *conditionally* supportive of nato. his position on korea is actually, exactly the same as it's always been. he seems to have settled on accepting the iran deal framework for now… though even there his position (and the american government) is less overtly threatening than it was a decade ago. more diplomatic pressure and threats of renewed sanctions than out right war. i mean, i don't want to downplay the various proxy wars against iranian backed militias in yemen, afghanistan and elsewhere. but it’s a better situation than the bush years. i credit obama with some of that.

  5. The biggest foreign policy stance of his was "Why don't we get along with Russia, for example against radical Islamic terrorism?" We have the perfect chance to do that by joining their side in the Syrian War, but we continue to back jihadists against Assad, insist on regime change against Assad, and launch airstrikes against him with Russians on the ground, all while insinuating that maybe Russia played a role in the supposed chemical attack.

    NATO he said should be "re-jiggered" to focus on radical Islamic terrorism, rather than the phony out-of-date boogeyman of the Soviet Union. So far the mission of NATO continues to be pushing right up against Russia's borders with troops and heavy weaponry.

    North Korea was never a concern of his, not that he said we should get along with them either. Did a post on that. His main concern in Korea was making SK and Japan pay for our military presence, which is not even under discussion now. He added that we stabilize their defense in order for them to suck manufacturing industries out of our country, which is suicide. That policy continues.

    He struck out at Saudi Arabia quite a bit on the campaign trail and for years earlier -- they blew us up on 9/11, spread jihadism, charge us rent for our military bases w/o which they would be nothing, and so on and so forth. So far, zero change in direction with them.

    He's also stopped shouting the term "radical Islamic terrorism" because it would offend "our Muslim allies in the region" AKA the Saudi / Gulf enablers of al-Qaeda, ISIS, etc.

    Taken together, that is 180 degrees away from where he was pointed during the campaign. You can argue how much distance we're traveling in the wrong direction, and that Trump is trying to keep that distance as short as possible. But in terms of direction or orientation, it's no longer up in the air if it's contrary to what he's always wanted and preached.

  6. well, to be fair he has suggested south korea pay for thaad and other aspects of defense recently. and there's ongoing talks and negotiations with russia now that wouldn't be taking place with clinton. definitely true that he changed for the worse on crime... and is doing the bidding of saudis, at least for now, in some areas like yemen as acknowledged. but i think the situation is a bit more complicated than complete reversal on everything.

  7. as to economic populism. in general his economic policies so far have been pretty typically republican. supporting the latest version of paul ryan’s awful healthcare bill. pressing for more tax cuts and deregulation in various areas (some of which sounds good to me, and in other ways sounds pretty bad... but not at all surprising). from the looks of it, accepting more low-skilled immigrant guest workers via the h2b visa program. it’s good that he rejected the tpp and retaliated against canada. and if he follows through on glass steagall and h1b visa reform i will definitely give him credit for that… but overall this is turning out about as i expected it to. if there is change coming in the republican party, a shift in policies that allows them to appeal more to the lower income voters i think they need… then it's going to be very, very gradual. evolutionary as opposed to revolutionary.

  8. After he said SK should pay for THAAD, Pentagon rep McMaster immediately said "No, US is paying for it". That's what I mean, not even informal talks because Pentagon wants to remain an imperial administrator.

    Trump's doing well on economic nationalism since he and his party don't owe Wall Street anything, and it doesn't have to go through the worthless Congress. That's where that Paul Ryan BS is coming from.

    That does raise the question about how much leverage he has over "his own" party in Congress, though.

  9. looks like congress is going to flip next year. hard to see how that doesn't happen in response to this atrocity of a bill. forget the poor, young people on exchanges, etc. this even manages to screw over a lot of the middle class old people that constitutes their base, with the threat of premium increases and lifetime limits coming back. thanks republicans.

  10. the republican congress couldn't get behind funding the wall. or block more "refugees" coming in from syria. any of that. but they could all get behind this. joke party.

  11. hopefully the senate votes this thing down as expected. or if it does pass, significantly guts it. still horrible.

  12. I haven't kept up on the series of amendments, figuring they'll play the same games in the Senate, then play more games batting it back to the House, back to the Senate, etc.

    The main change that everyone should be able to agree on, for reducing the cost of healthcare at no change to health outcomes, is negotiating the prices of prescription drugs that the government purchases through Medicare Part D.

    It allows Trump to call out the Republicans who are bought off by Big Pharma, as well as the posturing Democrats who actually voted to do just this in 2007 -- when they did not have a supermajority in Senate and knew Bush would veto anyway. Then they kept it out of Obamacare when they did have the Pres and supermajority.

    If a healthcare bill doesn't include something that simple, it's a symptom that the fundamentals of the bill are not good. Easy one-item thing to inspect. Neither Republicans (Medicare Part D from 2003, or AHCA now), nor Democrats (Obamacare) will include the negotiating of drug prices, despite the govt being the largest single purchaser by orders of magnitude.

    Wholesale quantities at retail prices? That's why healthcare is so expensive without delivering any benefits to health -- it's just corporate rape of consumers mediated by the government.

    Buying wholesale quantities *and* negotiating down the prices, that's the first step toward single-payer. Massive cost savings.

    But to hear paranoid Republicans, the "first step toward single payer" refused to include that first step toward single payer.

  13. Trump could re-brand single-payer as "bulk discount" healthcare. That gets right at the cost efficiency argument.

    Everyone understands that when you are the main customer by far, you get to dictate terms to the supplier and the prices come way down from what an isolated individual would be charged.

    From Medicare Part D, the govt is buying in bulk -- but with no discount! Who da hell buys in bulk but doesn't get the bulk discount? Fellas, who da hell are you sending to negotiate these deals?!

    But then if you don't buy in bulk, you can't even hope to get the discount.

    So folks, we have to do both -- buy in bulk, and apply that leverage to get the discount.

    Call it universal, call it single-payer -- I call it "bulk discount healthcare," does that make sense to anybody else?

    1. Yes, it makes sense.
      Im so thankful you're up on the healthcare stuff, I know too little about it so that right now it looks like boring sausage making far from final state. Glad we have someone well versed keeping his eye on it.

  14. Before Trump signs the healthcare bill, why not say, Y'know this is a great bill, but there's one weeeee little, itty bitty clause that should be in here. It's a great bill, phenomenal bill, buh-lieve me. But fellas, can you include one little clause saying our wonderful Secretary of HHS, Tom Price -- a great man, highly respected -- should negotiate the prices of prescription drugs that we buy in wholesale quantities but are not allowed to negotiate bulk discount prices?

    You guys are the business party, right? And the saving-the-taxpayers party, from like, frivolous and exorbitant government spending, right? OK, well we have a wonderful chance to save the American taxpayers an absolute fortune by getting a bulk discount on those prescription drugs from Medicare Part D.

    And to the Democrats, remember folks, you already signed onto that clause in 2007 -- but maybe you thought you were just shooting with blanks, with George W. Bush in the White House? (There's another beauty...) But now, President Trump is telling you, I'm not gonna veto it!

    So, fellas, put that one little bitty clause into this already phenomenal bill, and both parties will be able to come together and save the American taxpayers a fortune, while still getting the same amount of drugs as now. Do what's right for the country, and for the people.

    ...That would be such an awesome last-minute shiv into that pack of jackals. Let's see them vote against that. Now who's walking the plank?

  15. As Agnostic pointed out, most people are naive about what it takes to succeed in modern business. Their template is the monocled guy from Monopoly. Whereas, modern business has become complex to the point where only big-brained neotenous farmers can handle it.

  16. Trump to Australian Turnbull in photo op, reminding everyone he's for single-payer:

    "You have better healthcare than we do!"

    1. Paul Ryan wept.


  17. A few quibbles.
    "The second is the military, based in the Pentagon, who can bring physical security to a halt at a national level."

    Not really. Whatever the most extreme range of outcomes between hawk and dove, nothing would affect security at the national level. If the US utterly caved in Syria: how would it affect me, or the residents of Boston, or the residents of any town in the United States? Same thing for North Korea (with a caveat regarding their nukes: if they get a delivery system capable of reaching the US, bets are off). What about Russia's stance in the Crimea? China's stance in the China Sea?
    In other words, what the Pentagon is doing has almost nothing to do with the physical security of the nation. It has everything to do with the ability to project US power thousands of miles away from the nation.

    "looks like congress is going to flip next year. hard to see how that doesn't happen in response to this atrocity of a bill."

    Not really. If you google (it takes perhaps 10 seconds), you will see (on CNN!) that as of December last year, 6 million Americans were on Obamacare. 2%. Or, 98% weren't on Obamacare. Projections at the time suggested 10 million would be on Obamacare in 2017-or, 290 million wouldn't.

    Obamacare doesn't work it isn't popular, it is a minor player in the insurance game. Objectively, its almost irrelevant to care for Americans. There are a few with pre-existing conditions that benefit, but thats' about it. You could eliminate Obamacare tomorrow, and the vast majority of the 6 million on it could get healthcare elsewhere. The Democratic rhetoric about the situation is objectively absurd.

    On the other hand, politically, who knows. Democrats are lying about it, the news media is lying about it, and people are lazy and stupid. Maybe it will cost some Republicans some seats.


  18. If the Pentagon went on strike, it would be guaranteed that all sorts of enemies would hit us in order to settle old scores. Imagine how weak and defenseless that would make the US look -- to normal people, not ones who make a point of quibbling.

    Obamacare is popular enough that it must be replaced with something better for those it was intended to help. Otherwise voters are going to blame those heartless Republicans for insisting on screwing over the sick yet again.

    Remember that in a lot of ways people do not vote their own narrow self-interest. To the point, it's young people who are most in favor of single-payer healthcare, even though they're already healthy and won't benefit much from any change to the system one way or another.

    And if the healthcare system explodes before the '18 elections, and before a truly better replacement is in effect -- guess what, the Republicans are going to get blamed for the explosion since they were the ones to touch it last. "Obamacare may not have been flawless, but it went along for years and years until the Republicans quote-unquote reformed it, and then it exploded. We just can't trust them to do the right thing for something as sacred and crucial to our very survival as healthcare."

    But the idiotic GOP is still too stupid to see that. Trump will get blamed big-league, too, even if it's Ryancare rather than Trumpcare. His approval ratings took a nose-dive when the House fucked up their first attempt at repeal-and-replace, and that was among Republican voters.

    At this rate, it may be worth having a bare Democrat majority in both houses. At least we'd get further moves toward single-payer, rather than getting bogged down in things that are low priorities for Trump like cosmetic reforms to Obamacare (which will get him blamed for its imminent explosion), and reforming the tax code.

  19. Hi there.

    Off-topic, sorry for that.

    I read your article about Sandra Bullock. I wanted to ask about your opinion on whether the singer of Guano Apes is a transsexual. The voice in "Open your eyes" doesn't sound female to me at all, I always thought it was a male voice. What do you think?

  20. So one thing I've been wondering as now we see increasing war efforts being ramped up against Russia and its allies is how much of it is a Jewish thing? Jews, as a culture, seem to hold very strongly onto the idea of "never forget, never forgive" and given a.) Russian pogroms and b.) the large Jewish presence in neoconservatism I wonder if the idea of getting payback against Russia for the crimes of the Tsar.

  21. Pentagon has always been controlled by Celts, not Jews. Cold War targeted Soviet Union long before neoconservatism was a thing, and long before Israel became a client state (both phenomena 1970s).

    To the extent that Jews' ethnic animus toward Slavs coincided with the Pentagon's geopolitical goals against the Soviet Union, the Jews were hangers-on or parasites of the Pentagon -- not the tail wagging the dog.

    Eisenhower sided with Nasser in 1956 against Israel and the old imperial powers UK and France, Suez Crisis. How's that for a shabbas goy military?

    If Israel or the Jews ever get in the way of the Pentagon's objectives, you will see the same thing again.

    Jews control Wall Street and the Fed, along with the media, not the Pentagon or resource extraction industries.

    Referring to the Pentagon as Uncle Schlomo *ironically* is fine, to point out how politics makes strange bedfellows. But to earnestly argue that the Jewish tail is wagging the Celtic dog, could not be more clueless.

  22. Simple thought experiment: suppose that the jihadist Gulf states begin to target Israel the way they target Shia or Christian people in the Mid-East. They really turn up the heat on the Jewish state, for jihadist reasons plus perhaps a little anti-colonialist spirit.

    Suppose that by that point, Russia has become a regional player (after intervening in Syria), and is staunchly anti-jihadist.

    Israel would then align, at least for the moment, with Russia and against Saudi Arabia.

    That would contradict their longstanding alliance with the US, who always supports the Saudis and always goes against the Russians. Suddenly Israel comes into the cross-hairs of the Pentagon, and no amount of kvetching about "the only democracy in the Middle East" or "save your Christian Holy Land, you dumb goyim!" is going to change that geopolitical re-calculation.

    I'm sure a lot of Jews tell themselves the same myths about "Jewish control over US military policy," and will be caught with their pants down when the US Air Force is launching airstrikes on Tel Aviv for choosing Russia over Saudi Arabia.

  23. Its a pretty simple point: since generals and combat soldiers tend to be conservative, America's military policy tends to be conservative; conversely, since businessmen tend to be liberal, America's financial policies tend to be liberal.


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