Archive for the ‘Secular Religions’ Category

USA Lacks Realistic Strategy Towards DPRKs Nuclear ICBM Program: 2

September 26, 2017 2 comments

In the previous post of this series, I had made the point that DPRK’s desire to obtain a nuclear deterrent capability against civilian targets on mainland USA is highly rational and an inevitable consequence of the behavior of american establishment towards that country. I also pointed out the massive speedup of both nuclear weapon and ICBM program under Kim Jong-un is largely a consequence of how someone from his generation sees the world. While he may be ruthless, it hard to deny (except if you a “ivy-league educated” think-tankist) that he is highly pragmatic.

With that in mind, let us talk about the “strategy” or what passes for strategy of USA towards these more recent developments. We can begin by dissecting Barack Obama’s hilariously delusional strategy of “strategic patience” towards DPRK. OK.. to be fair, it was a bit less dangerous than whatever cockamamie “options” Trump and his generals are busy deluding themselves with. But nonetheless, there were enough idiots.. I mean “ivy-league educated” think tank critters who believed that DPRK would come apart because Kim would not be able to establish his leadership.

But it gets better.. many of the comfortably sinecured DPRK “experts” in USA believed that a plot as ludicrous as that depicted in a CIA-funded movie known as “The Interview” would bring down Kim Jong-un. Yes, you read that right.. there are people who have made many millions by posing as DPRK “experts” in USA promoting the idea that Kim Jong-un’s regime would magically collapse and North Korean people would welcome USA with open arms as liberators. Wonder what they were smoking.. but more importantly- who pays them to push that crap? and why?

Let me also point you to a think-tank funded site called ‘38North‘ which pretends to be informed, competent and objective. Peopled by a mixture of american and south-korean academics, arms control-types, proliferation “experts” and assorted think-tank critters, its articles on DPRK borrow the linguistic tricks of NYT and the Economist to make educated-sounding assertions which have a habit of being almost totally untrue or severe underestimates. As late as the beginning of 2017 “experts” at that site maintained that the KN-14 ICBM would fail. About two years ago, “experts” at the same site were confident that developing a H-bomb was out of DPRKs technological abilities.

The point I am trying to make is that american analysis of DPRK’s abilities, capabilities and strategy is driven by a peculiar mixture of racism, orientalism, wishful thinking, ivy-league credentialism and other factors which have little (if any) connection with objective reality. To further complicate matters, the way Kim Jong-un sees the world is sufficiently different from his predecessors that what “worked” in the past is largely irrelevant.

And this brings me to part where I have to restate the obvious, which is that any significant attack by USA on DPRK will almost certainly result in the later use nukes (including H-bombs) against large population centers in South Korea and Japan- and that is the ‘best case’ scenario. The simple fact is that there is no viable defense against an intense barrage of short to medium range ballistic missiles, especially if only a few of them contain nuclear warheads. And 10-20 nukes is all that it will take to kill many tens of millions in the Seoul and Tokyo metropolitan areas. Never mind subsequent massive socio-economic costs and an intense backlash in both countries against USA for creating that outcome.

But why would that occur? Why would DPRK use nuclear weapons if attacked first? Well.. firstly, because that is what deterrence is about. Secondly, the regime in DPRK would assume that its main members have no real future and therefore decide to take out as many of those it holds responsible for that outcome aka ‘scorched earth’. And this brings me another popular delusion of the american establishment concerning DPRK.

Almost every single strategy of establishment in USA is centered around the childish assumption that DPRK would not use nuclear weapons even if they were attacked using nuclear weapons. Alternatively they believe that the totally hyped anti-ballistic missile defense systems could work with 100% success rates against intense barrage of missiles with many dummy warheads and other simple but effective countermeasures. In other words, the american establishment actually believe that DPRK does not have the balls or brains to use nuclear weapons under any set of conditions. Alternatively, they don’t care if large cities in South Korea and Japan are ruined for decades.

The other implicit, if rarely stated, assumption of “intellectuals” in american establishment is that the chain of command for use of DPRK’s nuclear weapons will crumble if the orders to use them are actually given. I think otherwise, and here is why. You can bet a lot of money that Kim and his associates have gamed that scenario to the point where every single person in command of those weapons is a loyalist with no future in an alternative government of any kind. To put it another way, the chain of command to use DPRK’s nuclear weapons is very likely full of hard-core loyalists with sufficient autonomy to use them without approval from above if they are credibly attacked by nukes.

To make a long story short, there are really no circumstances under which an american attack on DPRK does not turn into a nukefest in South Korea and Japan. Similarly, there are no real circumstances where DPRK is going to give up its nukes or ICBMS- as they are now absolutely essential for regime survival. Furthermore, any serious economic blockade against DPRK will escalate into them threatening South Korean and Japanese cities. Those who wish to compare this situation to the oil embargo by USA against Japan in 1941 should remember that WW2-era Japan did not have nuclear-tipped ICBMs capable of incinerating tens of millions in mainland USA and surrounding hostile countries.

In an upcoming post of this series, I will talk about how the policies of Japan and South Korea towards DPRK are also based in a strange combination of delusion and make-believe.

What do you think? Comments?

USA Lacks Realistic Strategy Towards DPRKs Nuclear ICBM Program: 1

September 24, 2017 56 comments

Let me begin this post by posing a fairly straightforward question: Is the current strategy of USA, Japan and South Korea towards the nuclear and missile programs of DPRK (let alone the government of that country) based in reality? You might have already figured out that my short version of the answer is a big “NO”.

One of my previous post on this general topic did explore how racism and magical thinking have historically shaped american policy towards DPRK. It largely focuses on how we reached this point and why miscalculations due to lazy thinking could have very serious effects on destinies of multiple countries involved in the current standoff.

But coming back to the topic at hand, let us talk about the bunch of delusions that pass for american “strategy” towards the nuclear and missile program of DPRK. I will also talk about how the delusional policies of USA reinforce the equally nutty policies of Japan and South Korea on those issues.

The official stance of USA is that it will not negotiate with DPRK unless the later agrees to give up its nuclear weapons and missiles. Now, even a half-sensible person will immediately recognize that DPRK is simply not going to give up its most cost-effective insurance policies against armed invasion or “color revolution” by USA and its allies.

Moreover, the history of interactions between DPRK and USA- specifically the unsuccessful american attempt to kill all north Koreans during the Korean war in the early 1950s and the unwillingness of USA to fulfill its end of the 1994 nuclear agreement, make it almost impossible for them to trust the USA.

It is also important to understand that DPRKs relations with China and Russia have, over the years, had their own ups and downs. This is why regime in Pyongyang has always been so obsessed with self-reliance and self-sufficiency. The concept of Juche is much more than a simple feel good slogan for them.

So now let us talk about how the USA and its east-asian allies have responded to DPRKs nuclear and missile program since 2006, when it conducted its first nuclear test. But first a little relevant history..

In late-1994, DPRK agreed to freeze its nuclear weapon program in exchange for urgently needed fuel oil, two somewhat ‘proliferation-resistant’ nuclear reactors and future normalization of political and economic relations and a future guarantee that USA would not attack DPRK or attempt regime change in Pyongyang.

However, USA was never serious about sticking to its end of the so-called “Agreed Framework” and after 3-4 years, it became obvious that they were trying take DPRK for a ride. In response, DPRK slowly but surely went about restarting its nuclear weapon program. Long story short.. by early 2002, that agreement was dead when Bush43 officially labelled DPRK as part of the “axis of evil”.

The most important lesson DPRK learned from this episode can be stated as follows: Any agreement with USA is not worth the piece of paper it is written on unless you have the ability to credibly threaten them with nuclear weapons for breaking the agreement. I would go so far as to say that after January 2002, it became virtually impossible for DPRK to ever give up nuclear weapons or the means to deliver them.

Sure.. there were a few attempts after 2002 to restart talks on that or similar agreements, but it was obvious to external observers they were not destined (or even meant) to succeed. However the biggest change in DPRKs policy in both areas came after Kim Jong-un replaced his father, Kim Jong-il. But why would that be so? Why would the son take a far more aggressive stand on these issues than his father?

I believe that it comes down to the era in which they grew up. Both Kim Jong-un’s father and grandfather grew up in an era where white people from predominantly white countries lorded over the world and appeared invincible. He however grew up in an era and environment where he was able to see that white people from predominantly white countries were no smarter, competent or better than somebody like him.

Unlike his father and grandfather, he came of age in an era where the ‘west’ is in terminal decline. He also saw that non-white countries around the world, including neighboring China, were taking the ‘west’ to the cleaners. It is therefore not surprising that after taking over from his father, he decided to pour a lot of personal and resources into the nuclear and missile program.

Interestingly, he did the same for the civilian sectors of DPRK- which suggests that he has a pretty clear plan of action. However western “experts” spend all their time hyping up questionable accounts of his treatment of people who fell out of his favor and masturbate themselves to thoughts of him being a stupid and ego-driven person, when all objective evidence shows him to be a competent, if ruthless, leader.

That is not to say that he is a great human being, but then again Eisenhower was responsible for the death of over 3 million civilians in Korea, Nixon for 3-5 million in Cambodia and Vietnam and Bush43 for about 1 million in Iraq and Afghanistan. My point is that he is no better, or worse, than any generic american president.

In the upcoming post of this series, I will explore how the unwillingness of establishment in USA to confront the fact that they are living in 2017 rather than 1994 is making them do really stupid and useless things which are diminishing their credibility in other countries. I will also talk about how the policies of Japan and South Korea towards DPRK are also based in a strange combination of delusion and make-believe.

What do you think? Comments?

A Few Quick Thoughts on UDMH and the North Korean Missile Program

September 21, 2017 34 comments

A few days ago, I came across a series of articles in the MSM about the use of UnSymmetrical DimethylHydrazine (UDMH) in newer long-ranged North Korean IRBMs and ICBMs. As expected, they were full of sensational and hilariously ludicrous disinformation. But why take my word for it? Have a look at all the bullshit published by supposedly reputable news outlets: The Rare, Potent Fuel Powering North Korea’s Weapons; North Korea’s secret weapon REVEALED – how China supplies Kim Jong-un with ‘Devil’s Venom’; North Korean missiles powered by Russian ‘devil’s venom’. Readers can find reprints of these and similar articles in many other news outlets.

All these articles, which seem to be have been derived from one original post, make a number of incorrect and misleading claims such as: 1] Synthesis of industrial quantities of UDMH is very hard or complex. 2] North Korea is not totally self sufficient in UDMH production. 3] Russia does not use much UDMH for its ICBM or space launch programs nowadays. 4] China is the main source of UDMH used in North Korean IRBM and ICBM programs.

So now let us go through each of the major claims by these posts, one by one.

Firstly, the chemical structure of UDMH is very simple (see below) and routes for its synthesis are remarkably easy and straightforward. One of older process to make it and other simple organic hydrazines on an industrial scale is over 100 years old.. so yes, it was possible to make UDMH on an industrial scale even before WW1. However, this specific compound had little to no industrial use before the development of hypergolic rocket engines in the 1950s. And yes, while it is reasonably toxic and volatile enough to pose hazards if handled carelessly, it is no more problematic to handle on a large scale than highly concentrated inorganic acids or compounds capable of releasing releasing chlorine.

Which brings us to the second claim made by those sensationalist propaganda piece in NYT, namely that North Korea might not be totally self sufficient in UDMH production. As you might have realized by now, large scale synthesis of UDMH is not much involved than any other moderately dangerous industrial chemicals which are nonetheless synthesized by the thousands to millions of tons. North Korea has enough educated and competent people (including process chemists), is extremely willing to provide them enough resources to do their job properly and has more than enough appetite for small accidents. Furthermore, they are highly unlikely to remain dependent on external sources for such an important requirement of their missile program.

The third claim made the sensationalist post in NYT was that UDMH and hypergolic fuels are rarely used by countries other than China. Well.. that is news to me. The fact is that one of two major space launch rockets uses by Russia (aka Proton), all the space launch rockets used by India (PSLV, GSLV-2, GSLV-3) in addition to almost all major space launch rockets used by China use hypergolic fuels in one or more of their large primary stages. In other words, the idea that China is the only major user of hypergolic fueled rockets is utter nonsense. The only reason some countries import UDMH from China has more to do with saving money for small scale usage.

By now, you have probably figured out that the fourth claim made by original article in NYT, namely the China is the major supplier of UDMH to North Korea, is laughably ridiculous. While its is certainly possible that the North Korean chemists who operate facilities for making UDMH might have learned their trade in China, it is laughable to believe that the North Korean government would not do everything in its power to fully indigenize production of UDMH and Dinitrogen tetroxide used to fuel the hypergolic engines in their IRBMs and ICBMs.

The simple fact is that almost all “scholarly” analysis of North Korea missile and nuclear program by western “experts”, so far, has occurred though the lens of racism and orientalism. These sophistic and out-of-touch idiots do not want to believe that non-white countries are capable of technological and scientific achievements. That is, also, why Trump can call for the genocide of North Korean in front of the UN without severe criticism by the corporate MSM in USA. The problem with such attitudes is that they are too divorced from reality to work. Of course, I don’t think that Trump or establishment in USA will learn other than though public failure and humiliation.

What do you think? Comments?

Some Thoughts on Why USA Cannot Win Cold War 2.0: Part 1

September 18, 2017 2 comments

One of the major undercurrents running through a number of current standoffs and conflicts involving the USA (supported by its west European vassal states) and a number of other countries such as Iran, North Korea, Russia, China etc can be stated as follows: USA is acting as if it can “win” all these conflicts in a manner similar to how, it believes, it “won” Cold War 1.0.

To put it another way, the establishment in USA believes that it can win conflicts against other countries (small and large) through a combination of economic policy and propaganda. A corollary of that is the widespread belief among establishment-types in USA that those conflicts will never reach the point where are an existential threat to the survival of USA.

While I have previously touched on this topic in some previous posts such as why comparing income across countries in USD is detached from reality, the focus was mainly on socio-economic effects of this disconnect rather than its strategic implications. I also wrote another post about why Russian military capability was far stronger than its GDP as measured in USD would otherwise imply.

The gist of my argument was that comparing the GDP of countries in USD dollars is quite meaningless if the costs of functionally equivalent products and services, as measured in USD, was substantially different. Furthermore, the ability to produce certain products (such nuclear bombs and ICBMs) are far more valuable than their cost in resources or manpower- especially if both are almost completely indigenous.

Anyway, getting back to the topic of this post- you might have noticed that establishment in USA is devoting a lot of effort in an attempt to start another Cold War by actions such as implicating Russian journalistic ventures as devious propaganda outlets, endless blathering about Russian interference in the 2016 election, arming Ukraine against Russia, economic sanctions on Russia for taking back Crimea, defaming Russian sport starts and Olympic athletes through western regulatory bodies, targeting Russian companies selling products and services in USA and more.

You might also have noticed that these measures have not really affected the resurgence of Russia as country since Putin came to power in 2000. Such behavior has, however, done a wonderful job of convincing even otherwise skeptical Russian citizens that they can never have good relations with USA. We can see a similar, if less public, conflict developing between China and USA on a number of issues such as maritime boundaries in the south china sea, trade disputes and many others. Yet, they do not address the central issue linking these seemingly unrelated conflicts- which is the irreversible decline of economic and military power of USA versus China and, more generally, the rest of the world.

It is no secret that the USA, in its current form, is a nation and system in terminal decline. While there have been a few years (like the mid to late 1990s) when things looked good for USA, the overwhelming long-term trend is towards decline and this has been especially obvious since the financial crisis of 2008. As I frequently pointed out in my older posts, the inability of USA to win (or even appear to win) wars in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan have not helped its public image.. to put it mildly. In fact, the USA has not been able to decisively win a single war since the end of WW2- which is a bit over 70 years.

The current standoff between North Korea and USA is another example of the huge gap between the projected public image of USA and the reality as seen by the rest of the world. As an example, consider the bullshit and propaganda spewed by american mainstream media about the capabilities of their anti-ballistic missile (ABM) systems. Now ask yourself- if american ABM systems were as effective as claimed by the establishment, why would USA give a flying fuck about DPRK developing and deploying ICBMs?

The thing is, american ABM systems “seem” to only work under highly rigged test conditions and are probably worse than useless against even a small-scale attack by IRBMs and ICBMs. China or Russia, both of whom incidentally border DPRK, are unwilling (and unable) to do anything about DPRK’s nuclear and ICBM program. In fact, all those missile launches and nuclear tests by DPRK have helped them humiliate USA on the world stage and expose its real-life weaknesses.

And this brings me to the central idea of this series of posts, namely that USA is incapable of winning Cold War 2.0.

But before we go there, let us quickly recap the reasons why USA thought it “won” Cold War 1.0. As many of you know, the establishment in USA believes that it was largely responsible for the collapse of USSR in 1991, which marked the end of Cold War 1.0. While this belief might sound pleasing to jingoistic ears, the reality is rather different as the USSR started experiencing serious socio-economic problems because of the rigid and unresponsive nature of their version of state communism as early as the late 1960s. It was these systemic problems, rather than american pressure, which ultimately led to the collapse of USSR in 1991.

China, on the other hand, was able to avoid all those problems because of systematic socio-economic reform during the same time period. These reforms have been so successful that China, adjusted for PPP, is the largest economy in the world today. The point I am trying to make is that the apparent “victory” of USA in Cold War 1.0 had more to do with the failings and sclerosis of one particular version of state communism in Russia and eastern Europe than the american system “winning” anything.

This inconvenient fact has not stopped the american establishment and its lapdog “intellectuals” from proclaiming ‘the end of history’ and ‘beginning of a new world order’ in 1991. Of course, things did not go as “planned” especially after 2001, Iraq War 2.0, Afghanistan War and then the financial crisis of 2008. Such setbacks have, however, not dimmed the ardor of establishment types in Washington D.C to re-establish a ‘new world order’ centered around USA. As many of you are only too aware of, the ground reality in USA for the 99% simply does not support the establishment belief that USA will be able to maintain its current position in the world.

In the next part of this series, I will explore how rapid industrialization in the rest of the world within the previous two-three decades (in combination with simultaneous un-industrialization of USA and the ‘west’) has fundamentally shifted the real power balance and possible outcomes for any Cold War 2.0-type strategies deployed by establishment in USA. Spoiler alert: real-life outcomes of such conflicts are heavily rooted in real-life capabilities and abilities rather than impressive but empty posturing and bullshit.. I mean propaganda.

What do you think? Comments?

The Next Likely Escalation in USA vs North Korea Conflict: Sep 12, 2017

September 12, 2017 12 comments

As regular readers of this blog know, I have written a few posts about the ongoing ‘situation’ between USA and North Korea over the previous year. For those who are relatively new to this blog, here are a few examples: On the Inability of USA to Stop North Korean Nuclear Weapon Program; Reports of Cyberwar against N. Korean Ballistic Missiles are Likely False; A Quick Analysis of the First North Korean ICBM Test: July 5, 2017 and most recently Continued Inability of USA to Stop N.Korean Nuclear Missile Program.

I have also written a few posts about the factors behind the genesis and continuation of this particular confrontation: The West Has Always Lost Against Determined Adversaries Since WW2; Why was USA Unable to Win Korean War in the 1950s: Apr 22, 2017 and How Racism and Magical Thinking Could Lead to War with North Korea.

To make a long story short, it is my opinion that a mixture of american ego, hubris, racism and magical thinking have been the main factor which created and then sustained this conflict. Now this does not imply that the North Korean regime (especially the Kim Dynasty) are great human beings, to put it mildly. But it is quite clear that their behavior and actions over the previous seven decades have been consistently and highly rational.

I should also point out that USA never had any qualms being super friendly with despots, assholes and mass murderers such as the Saudi dynasty and other Gulf Emirs, Saddam Hussein (before 1989) and Bin Laden (before 1993). In other words, the idea that USA cannot get along with the Kim Dynasty and North Korean regime because of personality cultism and totalitarianism is utterly ridiculous since there is tons of evidence that USA has no problems with despotic regimes, as long as those relationships are profitable to american corporations.

But back to the topic at hand. As you might have heard, yesterday the USA has gotten the security council to approve one more in a seemingly endless series of economic sanctions against the North Korean regime. Of course, these sanctions which were not vetoed by China and Russia were significantly diluted from the first drafts. They do however pose an open challenge to Kim Jong-un and the NK regime, in the wake of their successful hydrogen bomb test.

Based on how things have unfolded till now, I think that North Korean regime will respond in a somewhat unique way. To be more specific, they will test an ICBM at almost-full range such that its warhead will land in the Pacific Ocean off the west coast of USA (or Mexico) just outside the Exclusive economic zone of either country. In other words, they will test an ICBM which will overfly Japan (something they have already done) to land about 250-300 miles of the west coast of USA- likely near its southern border with Mexico.

But it gets better.. I think there is a real chance that they will use a live nuclear warhead (likely a H-bomb instead of a A-bomb) and make it go off over the target area. Yes.. you heard that right. I think that there is a pretty good chance that North Korea will test a nuclear warhead tipped ICBM off the west coast of USA in a way such that it does not violate any of the maritime boundaries and zones of either USA or Mexico.

Here is why I think they will do it..

1] The North Korean regime understands that its survival is linked to the possession of a credible nuclear deterrent- specifically one that can wipe out at least a few large cities in USA. Perhaps more importantly, they know from their previous interactions during the Bill Clinton presidency that the USA cannot be trusted to honor any agreement, treaty or promise it makes with the North Korean regime. So far the USA has been able to bullshit and lie to its citizens that North Korean nukes cannot reach the mainland of USA.

A live nuke-ICBM test will show that all anti-ballistic missile systems deployed by USA are expensive boondoggles. Also, the american government and its “credentialed experts” will no longer be able to claim that North Korean ICBMs and Nukes are not technologically advanced enough to work reliably. After that, USA will not be able to hide behind “expert” techno-babble and other linguistic sophisms designed to minimize the nuclear capability of NK in the eyes of its citizens.

2] As long as the warhead explodes 50-100 km outside the exclusive economic zone of USA or Mexico, neither country can credibly claim that it was an act of war. A nuke going off over the ocean 50 km outside the economic zone of USA is legally no different from a failed satellite or spacecraft crashing into the same point on ocean. Also, the regime in NK has withdrawn from any international treaty which would limit its ability to conduct an atmospheric nuclear test. While the fallout from such a test might reveal some details about the nuclear device being used, it will only bolster previous claims made by North Korea about their nuclear capabilities.

At this stage, the government in USA will be in a pretty odd situation where they cannot really go to war over a test which did not violate the legal boundaries of their country while having to simultaneously face the majority of their angry and scared citizenry. Perhaps more importantly, its vassal governments in South Korea and Japan will realize that any military action by USA will result in the destruction of at least a couple of their major metropolitan areas (example – Seoul Capital Area and Greater Tokyo Area) and the death of tens of millions of their own citizens.

3] While China and Russia have tried to play both sides of the conflict, their recent willingness to vote for economic sanctions against North Korea (even if they are watered down) has pissed off the regime in Pyongyang. Conducting a live Nuke-ICBM test puts both countries in a situation where they have to choose sides. As far as China is concerned, unwillingness to respond to any unprovoked military action or attempt to occupy North Korea would be perceived as extreme humiliation by a western imperialistic country- something that would seriously screw up the public image of the ruling party in that country. Also China has no interest in a refugee influx from North Korea in the event of a war or, even worse, having an american puppet regime on their borders.

Russia, too, has appeared a bit too willing to please the USA even after all the attempts by the later to humiliate it and besmirch its name. The risk of a nuclear conflict and a potential american puppet state on their eastern borders would force them to choose sides. Basically, they are put in a situation where they, like China, would have to side with North Korea to protect their own interests. All that talk about international solidarity, arms control treaties and reestablishing normal relations with USA will mean squat once the moment of truth arrives. In other words, North Korea can force China and Russia to side with it by conducting such a provocative but legally acceptable test.

The clincher, in my opinion, is that it closes off every time delaying option used by USA to prolong this conflict and hope to win by economic attrition. The only option available to USA after such a test are as follows: declare war against North Korea and expose tens of millions of people in South Korea, Japan and USA to almost certain death, in addition to drawing China and Russia into the resulting conflict OR accept that North Korea is a nuclear power and start negotiating with it. The stark and binary nature of choice in the aftermath of such a test is precisely why I think Kim Jong-un and the regime will go for it.

What do you think? Comments?

The Obama Presidency was a Disaster for Establishment Democrats: 2

September 9, 2017 18 comments

In the previous post of this series, I pointed out that Barack Obama’s two terms as president was one of major non-systemic reason for the repeated and sustained electoral losses suffered by the democratic party. While the general public disdain about decisions and policies during his term are often attributed to racism, it is also true that he won both the popular vote and electoral college in 2008 and 2012. So clearly, something else is at work. I mean.. he did win many mid-western states with a pretty high percentage of whites in both 2008 and 2012.

In my opinion, public disdain of Obama’s two terms was largely due to the fact that he turned out to be just another empty suit whose decisions and policies helped the rich and corporations at the expense of everybody else. In fact, he was reelected in 2012 only because Mitt Romney was a bigger corporate shill than him. Obama’s popular vote margin did decrease from 10 million in 2008 to 5 million in 2012, as did his margin in electoral college from 365-173 in 2008 to 332-206 in 2012. Having said that, he won fair and square on both occasions- which is what matters in the end.

But that still leaves us with the question as to how Obama got reelected in 2012, after the dismal performance of democrats in 2010 midterm. Also, why he remained somewhat “popular” even though the democratic party suffered further losses in 2012 and 2014. Part of his “popularity” might be due to the fact that few wanted to call out the first black president for being an empty suit shilling for corporations. But the other part of his “popularity” is largely due to the fact that he was not Bush43. As many of you know, Bush43’s second term was such an unmitigated disaster that Obama could look competent just by not repeating any of the large screw-ups of his predecessor.

Accordingly, he was able to restrain himself from overtly invading other countries in the middle-east and making extremely poor personel choices (remember “brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job”) and being generally free of serious scandals and charges of overt corruption. Now you might say that this is a very low bar for somebody elected to the office of president. Then again, just look at the guy before him (Bush43) and the one after him (Trump45). Obama remained somewhat popular by simply following the neoliberal script- which is to appear erudite and competent, not make too many big short-term mistakes and cultivate rich elites and lapdog media types who will sing his praises.

The generic neoliberal script did not, however, work for the democratic party for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is much easier for one nominally powerful person at the national level like the president to cultivate his public image and elites. Presidential elections are usually about who is the lesser and more presentable crook to assume the post of chief executive of USA. Most people do not expect the president to be involved in the day-to-day running of the city, town or state of residence. Therefore, public expectations about him (or her) are very different from those of lower level elected representatives.

Elections at the level of representatives for national or state legislatures, in contrast, are often driven by partisan voters who believe that their choice will validate their beliefs. Since the majority of people correctly assume that electing democrats or republicans will not make their lives any better, it comes down to people who vote to validate their beliefs. That is why elections in USA tend to be driven by bullshit issues such as access to abortion, war on drugs, war on crime, welfare for non-white etc. That is also why “culture issues” dominated american politics and elections from mid-1980s to 2008.

But what does any of this have to with neoliberalism not working for democrats? Weren’t they able to win in states like West Virginia a couple of decades ago? Well.. they were able to win such “red” states as late as the early 2000s, but not because of espousing neoliberal ideas. Democrats, you see, were able to win all those so-called “red” states as long as their candidates promoted populist causes- specifically of the economic variety. As many of you know, establishment democrats became republican-lite by the early-1990s and their candidates either stopped being economic populists or were replaced by more corporate friendly figureheads.

It is therefore not surprising that those who voted in many parts of the country most hurt by all those “free trade” agreements and other neoliberal policies were increasingly of the type driven by “cultural issues”. To make a long story short, democrats abandoned people in ‘flyover’ states and those people then stopped supporting that party. At the same time, ranks of establishment democrats were increasingly filled with credentialed professional types who could care less about people who were not like them.

But what does any of this have to do with why the Obama presidency was so disastrous to democrats?

The short answer is that it was similar to the captain of the Titanic not altering course or reducing speed in a known iceberg field. The somewhat longer answer is that the ability of Obama to get elected, and the reelected, convinced establishment democrats that identity-driven neoliberal politics was sufficient to win against republican candidates. The two terms of Obama convinced them that they could sell a neoliberal turd covered by a thin layer of social justice issues and identity politics.

It is therefore not surprising that a lot of the so-called rising stars of the democratic party (Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Joaquim Castro, Gavin Newsom etc) are poor clones of Obama. They are all “properly educated”, photogenic, “properly pedigreed”, “media-savvy” people with handlers who feed them the right sound and media bites and who can deliver empty carefully-lawyered speeches with lots of fake conviction. While that strategy sorta worked for Obama in 2008 and even 2012, it is doubtful if it would work today.

You see, until 2008 many people in USA believed that their economic situation would keep on getting better, regardless of occasional and temporary setbacks. A number of events and structural shifts within the previous 8-9 years have totally changed that, especially for people under the age of 40-45. Today, most people (especially young) in USA simply do not believe in the system and its various “credentialed experts”. That is why somebody like Bernie Sanders got so much support among younger voters. Obama and his poor clones belong to the pre-2008 era.

Now this does not mean that they cannot win election in any state. Indeed, Obama clones can (and do win) elections in certain coastal states like California, Massachusetts and New York. However, it is also clear that such creatures are incapable of winning elections against even mediocre republican candidates in non-coastal states. But why? Well.. it comes down to the fact that Obama clones are unable to motivate voters who sit out elections because they correctly believe that democrats are basically republican-lite. In contrast, republican candidates can motivate their core ideology-based voters by spouting nonsense about “cultural issues”.

But what does any of this have to do with Obama’s position on “illegal immigration” and “free trade”? As it turns out, a lot..

While establishment democrats are busy expressing outrage about Trump’s plans to deport millions of “illegal immigrants” and “build that wall” between Mexico and USA, they forget that the policies of the Obama administration were responsible for more deportations (often under pretty atrocious circumstances) than Trump has manged to in an equivalent period of time. That is correct, Barack Obama’s administration started the current mass deportation machine with its private prisons, arbitrary powers and flagrant abuses of power. Is it any wonder that many citizens of Hispanic descent were not particularly enthusiastic about voting for a third Obama term under HRC?

Some of you might wonder why ivy-league educated “policy wonks”, such as those employed by the HRC campaign, could not figure out that many “illegal immigrants” frequently had relatives in USA who had become citizens- through naturalization or birth. Did they not realize that pissing upon voter groups who might otherwise be very sympathetic to your cause was a bad idea. Did they not realize that Obama’s deportation crusades had already put the democratic party on pretty shaky ground with Hispanics in USA- most of whom are Mexicans. Here is what I think.. establishment democrats did not care about what Hispanic voters thought because they believed that they had no option. While it is true that most Hispanics who voted still voted for democrats- a large number who could have simply chose not to vote for either party.

Let us now turn our attention to how the Obama administration’s support for various “free trade” policies and treaties as well as increased levels of job outsourcing hurt the democratic party. While Obama was not the first american president to pimp “free trade” and outsourcing, it is notable that a majority of job losses in sectors of economy with previously well-paying and stable jobs occurred during the 2nd term of Bush43 and two terms of Obama44. While the events which started that process occurred in the 1990s and early-2000s, it is noteworthy that Obama was far more vocal about his support for “free trade” agreements and outsourcing. Perhaps more problematically, many democratic candidates for national and state legislatures kept on repeating official party positions about “free trade”, education, skills, retraining and other assorted neoliberal lies even after it was obvious that most voters could see their bullshit.

It is therefore not surprising that many working-class people did not bother voting for them- as evidenced by low turnout levels in the 2010 and 2014 (and to a lesser extent in 2012) elections. In 2016, more than a few of them voted for Trump. It is important to realize that the democratic establishment willfully ignored the needs of the working class just like it did for Black and Hispanic voters. I should also point out that most Black and Hispanic voters are part of the working class. To make a long story short, establishment democrats took the support of their core voter constituencies for granted and then proceeded to ignore and humiliate them. While this behavior has been part of establishment democrat behavior for over two decades now- the two terms of Obama in combination their hubris led them to greatly speed up the process of alienating their key voter constituencies.

In the upcoming part of this series, I will talk about how the rise of “identity politics”, “culture wars 2.0” and SJW-ism during the two terms of Obama44 further doomed electoral prospects of the democratic party.

What do you think? Comments?

The Obama Presidency was a Disaster for Establishment Democrats: 1

September 6, 2017 27 comments

One of the more peculiar fact about contemporary american politics is that approval numbers for the democratic party are still slightly worse than for Trump. Let me rephrase that.. one of the two main political parties in USA has lower approval ratings than a rich asshole turned reality star who has flipped on almost every single electoral promise he made to this supporters. To be fair, the other political party (aka the republicans) is not doing any better and we seem to living in a very partisan era. But that still does not help explain why the democratic party has not been able to capitalize on the insane levels of incompetence and corruption displayed by the Trump administration since it took office in late January 2017.

So, how can the main (and only) opposition party in USA not gain any extra public support at a time when the ruling party and its titular leader are busy screwing themselves in public? Why is widespread public disgust towards Trump and republicans not translating into increased support for the democratic party? Why are so many voters, especially those from non-white communities, just not that enthusiastic about the democratic party? And why is the only generally popular national level politician a 75-year-old Jewish guy from Vermont who joined the democratic party about two years ago?

I have explored some of the many interconnected reasons for this failure in a previous series of posts. The main points I made in that series were as follows: a] democratic party establishment has become too incestuous, sclerotic and generally resistant to any type of change. b] It is almost completely funded, controlled and run by neoliberal corporate interests who try to hide their economically regressive policies behind token identity politics. c] The party bureaucracy and primary system is almost completely dominated by a bunch of corrupt assholes and hyperpartisan idiots. Also, there is no accountability for repeated failures. d] The major financiers, supporters and top-level cadre of the democratic party is almost exclusively derived from the rich and professional class- two groups with little, if any, real connection to the rest of the population.

There are of course other related reasons for the shockingly low approval ratings of democrats. The desire of coastal elite within that party to push gun control has not helped its cause in non-coastal states. Similarly, ad nauseam repeating of the “russian interference in our elections” trope since Trump got elected in Nov 2016 has not helped their overall public credibility. The point I am trying to make the democratic party establishment has done an incredibly good job of sabotaging its own electoral prospects. It is almost as if they are intentionally and systematically trying to lose public relevance. Even their new crop of leaders are full of photogenic, insipid and obvious fakes such as Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand and Joaquim Castro. I can go on about the many other structural reasons that the democratic party, in its current form, is doomed- but that is best left for future posts.

Instead I will focus of one of non-systematic reasons behind the failure of democrats as a party. I am certainly not the first to point out that Barack Obama’s two terms as president have seen a considerable diminution of the power of the democratic party on both the national and state level. His tenure as president has seen the democratic party lose control of the house, senate, over 1000 seats in state legislatures, multiple state governorships to the point where republican are the ruling party in almost 2/3rd of the states. The establishment democrat response to these massive electoral setbacks have mostly consisted of them saying that all those setbacks occurred happened because majority of the american electorate is irremediably racist. Of course, that does not explain how Obama got elected in 2008 and then re-elected in 2012.

I have a better theory to explain why the rise of Obama and his two terms as president have contributed to the ongoing collapse of the democratic party. My theory is largely based in how that rise shaped the democratic party- specifically its institutions and strategy. This is not to say that other factors such as increasing use of internet and social media by general public were without effect in that process. However, the more we look at all the facts over a longer time span, the more it becomes obvious that the rise of Obama and his style of politics was extremely damaging to the electoral prospects of the democratic party. But before we do that, we have to first understand Obama’s style of politics and its ideological underpinnings.

Barack Obama, for the lack of a better description, is a Reagan-era Republican. There.. I said it and you knew it too! The problem with his politics and its ideological underpinnings is that it is basically 1980-1990 era republican with a veneer of coolness and “inclusivity”. Also, since he is black, few people dare to say it aloud on any corporate mainstream media outlet- even Fox news. While he may not talk and act like a republican, almost every single policy decision (domestic and foreign) made by him is almost identical to what your average 1980s-1990s era republican would make. But don’t just believe my assertion without considering the evidence..

1] For a person who made his pre-political career as a “community organizer” in the black community of Chicago, it is remarkable how little Obama did to combat racism (overt or systemic) when he became president. As I pointed out in a previous post, it was smartphones with HD cameras and social media platforms which created public awareness about murders by police and other legalized atrocities against black people. Even the two biggest achievements of the Obama administration in that area (overview of some police departments and stopping police from getting military grade equipment) were insipid and in response to massive public outcry and demonstrations against murders by police and other flagrant violations of laws. To put it bluntly, Barack Obama did not care about black people.

We cannot also forget the harmful effect of deliberately rigged foreclosure assistance programs, created in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, on the black community. While these banker-friendly programs hurt homeowners of many ethnicities, the black community was (as often is the case) disproportionately hurt by them. We can only imagine the effect that this had on the lives of many hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of black people who were the subject for sneaky and unfairly foreclosure on their homes. It is no wonder that HRC, running for the 3rd term of Obama, had such a lukewarm response among the younger members of the black community. Simply put, Obama’s two terms were quite disappointing for the black community and has affected their enthusiasm for the democratic party.

2] The supposedly most important legacy of the Obama administration, aka “Obamacare”, was a massive public disappointment. While it did provide some improvement over the previous patchwork of rules and laws, it has not been able to tackle the issue of rising costs or provide universal health coverage. We can spend hours discussing how Obama killed the ‘public option’ in Obamacare and basically rejected universal healthcare coverage for a frankenstein which appealed to all the corporate interest donating to his election and re-election campaigns. Obama’s greatest achievement, then, is pushing out a ‘healthcare’ program modeled on the beliefs of some conservative think tank from 1993. If you call that an achievement, well.. perhaps your standards are really low.

It also did not help that the rollout of “Obamacare” was an epic public relations disaster. While the law is popular enough for republicans to be unable to repeal it today, its appeal mainly lies in being not as shitty as the alternatives- which is a very low bar. The point I am trying to make is that “Obamacare” is a microcosm of what is unpopular with the Obama school of neoliberal policies and its ideological underpinnings. It contains, within it, an example of every problematic aspect of his policies- from supporting corporate oligopolies and monopolies over public interest, unnecessarily complicated regulations meant to confuse and rob its users, broken promises about something as important as health care coverage, “credentialed experts” and other assorted conmen (and conwomen) padding their already fat paychecks to neglecting public concerns about the system.

In the upcoming part of this series, I will talk about how the Obama administration policies of immigration and deportation dis not help democrats increase enthusiasm among Hispanics for their party. I will also talk about the enthusiastic promotion of various “free trade” agreements and other secret corporate backed “trade agreements” by Obama over his two terms hurt the democratic party.

What do you think? Comments?