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Александр Гамильтон
11 июня, 21:22

Comey Bolsters Case For Obstruction Of Justice By Trump

Without ever stating that President Donald Trump obstructed justice, former FBI director James Comey methodically laid out the case for charging Trump with the crime of obstruction of justice, an impeachable offense. In written and oral testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey provided an explosive account of an attempted cover-up by the president. Obstruction of justice requires the attempt to halt an investigation with a corrupt intent. Trump corruptly tried to block the pending criminal investigation of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. The day after Flynn resigned, the president allegedly warned Comey, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.” Comey testified, “I took it as a direction” that “this is what he wants me to do.... [I] replied only that ‘[Flynn] is a good guy.’” According to Comey, Trump asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Jared Kushner and others to step out of the Oval Office before the president requested that Comey drop the “open FBI criminal investigation” of Flynn for “his statements in connection with the Russian contacts, and the contacts themselves.” Clearly, the president didn’t want anyone else to hear what he had to say to Comey. This is evidence for the case that Trump made the request to Comey for a corrupt purpose. Comey felt so uncomfortable after the exchange with Trump, he later asked Sessions not to leave him alone with the president. Two weeks earlier, Trump had invited Comey to a private dinner at the White House: just the two of them. Comey said the president asked him whether he liked his job and wanted to keep it, twice demanding “loyalty” from the FBI director. Comey testified that the president said, “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.” Pressed by Trump, Comey said he finally assured the president he would get “honest loyalty” from the FBI director. Comey testified that he was puzzled by the fact that the president had, on “multiple” occasions, told him he was doing a great job and hoped he would remain at the post. Comey, who had repeatedly told Trump he intended to stay, said he thought the president was trying to create a “patronage” relationship by hinting that Comey’s job depended on pledging loyalty to Trump. “I got the sense my job would be contingent upon how he felt I conducted myself and whether I demonstrated loyalty,” Comey testified. On two subsequent occasions, Trump called Comey and told him the Russia investigation was “’a cloud’ impairing his ability to act on behalf of the country.” Trump asked Comey to “lift the cloud.” Trump repeatedly urged Comey to “get that fact out” that Trump wasn’t personally being investigated. Comey testified, “The FBI and the Justice Department had been reluctant to make public statements that we did not have an open case on President Trump for a number of reasons, most importantly because it would create a duty to correct, should that change.” When Comey didn’t halt the investigation of Flynn, Trump fired him. The next day, Trump boasted to Russian officials in the Oval Office, “I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” adding, “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.” The day after talking to the Russian officials, Trump told NBC’s Lester Holt, “When I decided to just do it [fire Comey], I said to myself … this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.” Comey testified that he was confused when he heard the president say on television “that he actually fired me because of the Russia investigation, and learned again from the media that he was privately telling other parties that my firing had relieved great pressure on the Russia investigation.” Comey added, “Something about the way I was conducting it, the president felt created pressure on him that he wanted to relieve.” On May 12, Trump issued a veiled threat against Comey, tweeting, “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” Comey testified yesterday, “Lordy, I hope there are tapes,” indicating that such evidence would corroborate his recollection of Trump’s incriminating statements. Comey testified that he had a “gut feeling” that Trump might lie about what had transpired during their conversations. So, he memorialized them in written memoranda. This was a new practice for Comey; he had never thought it necessary to keep a record of his conversations with Presidents Bush and Obama. Comey said his gut told him he couldn’t trust Trump. “I was honestly concerned [Trump] might lie about the nature of our meeting so I thought it important to document,” Comey testified. Trump’s acts constitute probable cause that he engaged in obstruction of justice. As Philip Allen Lacovara, former Justice Department deputy solicitor general and counsel to Watergate special prosecutors Archibald Cox and Leon Jaworski, wrote in the Washington Post: Comey’s statement lays out a case against the president that consists of a tidy pattern, beginning with the demand for loyalty, the threat to terminate Comey’s job, the repeated requests to turn off the investigation into Flynn and the final infliction of career punishment for failing to succumb to the president’s requests, all followed by the president’s own concession about his motive. Any experienced prosecutor would see these facts as establishing a prima facie case of obstruction of justice. Obstruction of justice is a felony, which is a “High Crime.” The articles of impeachment in the cases of both Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton included allegations of obstruction of justice. Moreover, even if Trump’s conduct did not meet the elements of obstruction of justice, it nevertheless provides a basis for impeachment. The Constitution provides for impeachment of the president when he commits “High Crimes and misdemeanors.” They include, but are not limited to, conduct punishable by the criminal law. Alexander Hamilton wrote in the Federalist No. 65 that offenses are impeachable if they “proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.” The Judiciary Committee’s impeachment inquiry staff during the Nixon case wrote in 1974 that impeachment “is to be predicated only upon conduct seriously incompatible with … the proper performance of constitutional duties of the presidential office.” Under the Constitution, the president has a duty to “take Care that the laws be faithfully executed.” By attempting to halt a criminal investigation and then firing the FBI director who refused to comply, Trump violated the “take care” clause of the Constitution. Instead of taking care to enforce the laws, Trump has endeavored to circumvent them. Comey’s written testimony “is the most shocking single document compiled about the official conduct of the public duties of any President since the release of the Watergate tapes,” Benjamin Wittes, editor-in-chief of the Brookings Institution’s Lawfare blog, wrote. To spur the appointment of a special counsel, Comey leaked his memos to a friend who is a professor at Columbia Law School and asked him to make them public. Professor Daniel Richman provided Comey’s memos to the New York Times. On May 17, the Justice Department appointed former FBI director Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump” and “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.” “I don’t think it’s for me to say whether the conversation I had with the president was an effort to obstruct,” Comey testified. “I took it as a very disturbing thing, very concerning, but that’s a conclusion I’m sure the special counsel will work towards to find out the intention and whether that’s an offense.” Comey’s testimony painted a clear pattern of obstruction of justice and of Trump’s failure to take care to enforce the laws. After independent counsel Kenneth Starr concluded there was evidence of wrongdoing by President Clinton, he turned over his findings to the House of Representatives for impeachment proceedings. Mueller could do the same. Copyright Truthout. Reprinted with permission. Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and former president of the National Lawyers Guild. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

09 июня, 08:44

© AP Photo, David Rowland/SNPA via AP Как долго продлится изоляционизм Соединенных Штатов?

Отказ от участия в Парижском соглашении по климату. Выход из ТТП (Транстихоокеанского партнерства). Разрыв с НАФТА (Североамериканской зоной свободной торговли). Намеки на возможный выход из НАТО (Организации Североатлантического договора) и ВТО (Всемирной торговой организации). Примеров, свидетельствующих о том, что Соединенные Штаты находятся в процессе «дистанцирования от мира», больше чем достаточно. Когда в своей речи по поводу выхода США из договора по климату Трамп предполагает, что «был избран, чтобы представлять граждан Питтсбурга, а не Парижа», он лишний раз подтверждает догадки о том, что Соединенные Штаты уходят от международного сообщества в полную изоляцию. Стоит отметить, что эта склонность к изоляционизму вовсе не является изобретением эпохи Трампа — она во многом характеризует саму траекторию развития США как государства.

08 июня, 16:59

Trump's Climate Withdrawal Is An Impeachable Offense

When President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris climate agreement, he acted in concert with 22 Republican senators, who collectively receive $10,694,284 in contributions from the coal and oil industries. These 22 senators wrote to Trump, asking him to pull out of the accord. The president and the senators put their own political and economic interests above the safety, security and indeed survival of the American people and the entire planet. The climate accord is a landmark deal, in which 195 countries responsible for 95 percent of carbon emissions worldwide agreed to voluntarily reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in order to slow down global warming. Under the pact, the Obama administration promised to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 26 percent to 29 percent lower than 2005 levels by 2025. But according to the Rhodium Group, Trump’s new policies will only cut emissions 15 percent to 19 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, considerably lower than the commitment made by the Obama administration. The United States is the second largest purveyor of fossil fuels. China, which is first, and India, third, made significant commitments to cut their emissions as well. China is shutting down coal mines and plants and replacing them with solar plants and wind turbines. India is substituting solar panels for expansion of its coal companies. The Climate Action Tracker (CAT), a consortium of four European research organizations, determined that “without any further action, the [United States, under the Obama pledge] will miss its commitment ‘by a large margin.’” The 2015 Clean Power Plan, which would shut down hundreds of coal-fired power plants, freeze construction on new ones, and replace them with new wind and solar farms, was one of the most significant programs in US climate action, according to the CAT. But Trump signed an executive order in March, directing the Environmental Protection Agency to begin withdrawing from the Clean Power Plan. Both China and India, on the other hand, are on track toward meeting their emissions goals, CAT found. A study by the Grantham Research Institute concluded that the existence of the Paris climate agreement has caused dozens of countries to pass new laws requiring the use of clean energy. The United States is now only one of three countries in the world that will not be party to the climate accord. Nicaragua did not join because the agreement wasn’t strong enough. Syria did not join because it is embroiled in a war and operates under a severe sanctions regime. Withdrawing From the Climate Agreement Is a Political Offense Trump’s withdrawal from the climate agreement constitutes an impeachable offense. The Constitution provides for impeachment of the president when he commits “High Crimes” and misdemeanors. They include, but are not limited to, conduct punishable by the criminal law. Alexander Hamilton wrote in the Federalist No. 65 that offenses are impeachable if they “proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust.” “They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.” “The Abuse or Violation of Some Public Trust” No individual embodies the trust of the public more than the president, who is elected by the people. When the people choose their president, they are entrusting that person with their security, well-being and survival. The voters trust the president to act in their best interests and protect them from harm. By withdrawing from the climate agreement, Trump is violating the trust that “We the People” have placed in him. Timothy Wirth, under secretary of state in the Clinton administration, told The Nation that Trump’s withdrawal from the pact was “a stunning moral abdication of responsibility to future generations.” “Injuries Done Immediately to the Society Itself” “We’ve watched Arctic sea ice vanish at a record pace and measured the early disintegration of Antarctica’s great ice sheets,” Middlebury College environmental studies professor Bill McKibben wrote in the New York Times. “We’ve been able to record alarming increases in drought and flood and wildfire, and we’ve been able to link them directly to the greenhouse gases we’ve poured into the atmosphere.” In his analysis for Truthout, Dahr Jamail cites a recently published study showing that “the depletion of dissolved oxygen in Earth’s oceans is occurring much faster than previously believed.” Thus, he writes, anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) “is now recreating the conditions that caused the worst mass extinction event on Earth, the Permian mass extinction that took place approximately 250 million years ago and annihilated 90 percent of life. Dramatic oceanic warming and acidification were key components of this extinction event, and these conditions align with what we are seeing today.” Jamail adds, “Scientists have said that the U.S. withdrawal [from the climate accord] could add up to 3 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere on an annual basis.” If the climate continues to change at a rapid rate, society itself will be injured. As the glaciers melt and the oceans swell, the land will recede. Crops will die. Mosquitos will increasingly carry diseases. The Earth will be hit with massive floods, devastating heat waves and drought. Polar bears will become extinct. People will lose their lands, their homes and their lives. Indeed, life as we know it will come to an end. “To refuse to act against global warming is to condemn thousands of people to death and suffering today and millions more tomorrow. This is murder,” Mark Hertsgaard wrote in The Nation. A Crime Against Humanity Moreover, by withdrawing the United States from the climate accord, Trump has committed a crime against humanity, which also constitutes a High Crime. Trump has been aided and abetted in his crime against humanity by the following 22 GOP Senators: Inhofe (Oklahoma), Barrasso (Wyoming), McConnell (Kentucky), Cornyn (Texas), Blunt (Missouri), Wicker (Mississippi), Enzi (Wyoming), Crapo (Idaho), Risch (Idaho), Cochran (Mississippi), Rounds (South Dakota), Paul (Kentucky), Boozman (Arkansas), Shelby (Alabama), Strange (Alabama), Hatch (Utah), Lee (Utah), Cruz (Texas), Perdue (Georgia), Tillis (North Carolina), Scott (South Carolina) and Roberts (Kansas). Crimes against humanity can be committed even without a state of war. The Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court (ICC) defines crimes against humanity as “inhumane acts ... intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.” They must be “committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack.” Since taking office, Trump has mounted a methodical assault on the people of the United States. He has systematically endeavored to destroy the social safety net, including the rights to healthcare, public education and a clean environment, as well as the rights of workers, immigrants, women and LGBTQ people. By withdrawing from the climate agreement and refusing to shoulder the United States’ share of responsibility for slowing climate change, Trump has intentionally committed an inhumane act that will ultimately cause great suffering to the people of the world. Although the ICC cannot directly prosecute and try climate crimes, the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC said in a policy paper last year that it would construe crimes against humanity more broadly to include “destruction of the environment” and make prosecution of those crimes a priority. According to the Center for Climate Crime Analysis (CCCA), a new nonprofit established to support the ICC prioritization of environmental crimes, “Climate crimes are criminal activities that result in, or are associated with, the emission of significant amounts of greenhouse gases (GHG). The CCCA does not aim to criminalize GHG emissions per se. Most emissions are legal. However, a significant share of GHG emissions results from, or is associated with, conduct that violates existing criminal law.” The CCA notes, “Climate crimes are often intertwined with other serious international crimes. As a result of this link, as well through their impact on climate change, climate crimes may represent a threat to international peace and security and potentially affect all of humankind and the very foundations of civilization.” Richard Harvey, a specialist in international criminal and environmental law, told Truthout, “Given what the ICC prosecutor and the Center for Climate Crime Analysis consider environmental crimes against humanity, Trump’s attempt to renege on this international agreement is a clear invitation to his Big Carbon cronies to continue policies designed to consign humanity to the greenhouse gas chamber. Is that conspiracy to commit a crime against humanity? You be the judge.” By pulling out of the climate accord, Trump “makes himself guilty of what looks like a grave crime against humanity, the planet Earth, and future generations,” Uffe Elbæk, former Danish minister of culture and leader of Denmark’s Green Party, said. Tom Engelhardt at TomDispatch calls the “system of destruction on a planetary scale ... the ultimate ‘crime against humanity.’” He writes, “It is becoming a ‘terracide.’” The House of Representatives Should Impeach Trump It takes 51 percent of the House of Representatives to impeach the president. Republicans control a majority of the seats in the House. But imperiling the planet should not be a partisan issue. The fact that virtually every other country in the world, as well as U.S. states and cities, corporations and activists worldwide are taking steps on their own to slow the changing climate does not absolve Trump from his crime. It is incumbent upon the House of Representatives to vote for the impeachment of Trump. Meanwhile, we must, and will, continue to build the global climate justice movement. Copyright Truthout. Reprinted with permission. Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and former president of the National Lawyers Guild. Follow her on Twitter. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

31 мая, 19:15

President Donald J. Trump Proclaims June 2017 as National Caribbean-American Heritage Month

NATIONAL CARIBBEAN-AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH, 2017 - - - - - - -  BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA A PROCLAMATION National Caribbean-American Heritage Month is a celebration of the accomplishments of Caribbean Americans and our long, shared history with the peoples of the Caribbean.  We are grateful for the culture Caribbean Americans have shared with our Nation and the many contributions they have made to our society.    Throughout our history, Caribbean Americans have helped create and maintain the strength and independence of our Nation.  Alexander Hamilton, who came from poverty in Nevis, was a key contributor to our Constitution and the first Secretary of the Treasury, helping to establish our modern financial system and to create the United States Coast Guard.  Every day, Caribbean Americans help make America more prosperous and secure.  Our Nation is particularly grateful to the many Caribbean Americans who have served and are currently serving in our Armed Forces, protecting our Nation, and promoting freedom and peace around the world.  Today, more than four million Caribbean Americans live in the United States and continue to contribute to a vibrant culture that enriches our Nation.   NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2017 as National Caribbean-American Heritage Month.  I encourage all Americans to join in celebrating the history, culture, and achievements of Caribbean Americans with appropriate ceremonies and activities. IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand seventeen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-first. DONALD J. TRUMP  

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31 мая, 17:47

8 Steps Experts Take To Tell If An Alexander Hamilton Autograph Is Authentic

It takes a long time to learn the nuances of authentication. But here are 8 questions we ask ourselves in order to authenticate a document signed by Alexander Hamilton.

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3 Best-Ranked Dreyfus Mutual Funds to Boost Your Returns

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30 мая, 12:26

How the ‘Hamilton Effect’ Distorts the Founders

Too often, we look to history not to understand it, but to seek out confirmation for our pre-existing beliefs. That’s a problem.

24 мая, 15:30

Русская ярмарка в Белфасте

21 мая 2017 года в Waterfront Hall «Русскоязычное сообщество Северной Ирландии» организовало Ярмарку, которая стала значимым культурным событием Русского Белфаста.   Гости и участники, пришедшие в Waterfront Hall, окунулись в атмосферу праздника. Поражали своей красотой костюмы ручной работы народов стран бывшего СССР. На ярмарке были представители: России, Казахстана, Украины, Белоруссии, стран Балтии. Гостей праздника ожидали, угощения, сувениры, забавы для детей. Как отметила в своей речи заместитель Мэра г.Белфаста Мэри Эллен Кампбел: «Северная Ирландия и ее столица перестали быть местом двух сообществ (католиков и протестантов), многоцветие культур впечатляет». На открытии фестиваля выступила Александра Гамильтон, герцогиня Аберкорнская, пра праправнучка А. С. Пушкина. Организаторы ярмарки составили отличную концертную программу – детские и взрослые коллективы трогательно делились со зрителями культурным наследием своего народа! Ярко и красочно танцевал коллектив из Литвы, гости рады были вновь увидеть ансамбль «Веренея» из Дублина, многим запомнились частушки и песни хора «Росинка» из Северной Ирландии. Театральный коллектив «Карусель» «Первой русской школы Белфаста» представил зрителю постановку «Телефон» по сказкам К.И. Чуковского. «Сцена театра сразу настроила наших детей на то, чтобы они сгруппировались, соединились вместе и показали свои умения. Чувствовать себя членом одной команды, уметь поддерживать друг друга – один из ключевых моментов нашей образовательной программы. Ведь на практике мы не раз сталкивались с тем, что развитие «чувства локтя» у наших талантливых девочек и мальчиков не мешает им оставаться звездами, а, наоборот, умение каждого слаженно работать в коллективе дает фантастические результаты. Вот и на «Русской ярмарке» наши ученики показали свою сплоченность, умение весело и задорно справляться с затруднениями в непредвиденных моментах. После выступления нас всех – учеников, преподавателей, родителей переполняло чувство радости от хорошо проделанной работы!» - говорит директор школы и организатор Международного фестиваля детских театров «Дружная планета» Елена Геддис. А также, в этом году – гостей ожидала уникальная экспозиция. Коллекционер и мотоциклист Рики Мур, предоставил гостям в полное распоряжение автомобиль Жигули – «Копейка» и мотоцикл Урал. Организаторы благодарят участников и гостей Русской Ярмарки в столице Северной Ирландии.

06 мая, 00:00

Republicans Should Remain the Party of Lincoln, Not Jackson

Rich Lowry, NRODonald Trump is trying to do for Andrew Jackson what Lin-Manuel Miranda did for Alexander Hamilton. Trump, like Miranda, is out to restore the reputation of a great American figure once threatened with removal from U.S. currency. Trump doesn’t have the cultural pull of the writer and star of Hamilton, yet his salvage job might influence Republicans, to the party’s peril.

04 мая, 12:32

Lincoln, Not Jackson

Donald Trump is trying to do for Andrew Jackson what Lin-Manuel Miranda did for Alexander Hamilton.Trump, like Miranda, is out to restore the reputation of a great American figure once threatened with removal from U.S. currency. Trump is merely the president of the United States, so doesn’t have the cultural pull of the writer and star of “Hamilton.” But his salvage job has a chance to be influential with Republicans, to the party’s peril.Trump visited the Hermitage in March and said of Jackson in a riff at the end of his tribute, “We build on your legacy.” His Jackson boosterism caused a brouhaha this week when he mused in an interview about Jackson, had he been around a few decades later, perhaps preventing the Civil War.The Jacksonian tradition in America has, until recently, been neglected and Trump is firmly within it. It deserves to be part of the tapestry of the Republican coalition, but the GOP should curb its enthusiasm. It already has a perfectly acceptable — nay, altogether superior — 19th century champion in the person of Abraham Lincoln.Lincoln is a more suitable Republican hero, not just because he was a founding figure in the party; not just because he was on the right side of slavery (Jackson once offered a cash reward for a runaway slave with a promised bonus “for every hundred lashes a person will give to the amount of three hundred”); and not just because he actually, not just hypothetically, saw the Civil War through with determination, principle and wisdom.Lincoln is also an unsurpassed exemplar of the GOP’s core values of personal responsibility and striving.Jackson, for all his flaws, belongs in the American pantheon. Trump’s comment about the Civil War occasioned much obloquy, but he was right about Jackson’s stalwart unionism.In the midst of the nullification crisis with South Carolina in the 1830s, Jackson told a South Carolina congressman before he headed home, “if one drop of blood be shed there in defiance of the laws of the United States, I will hang the first man of them I can get my hands on to the first tree I can find.” When South Carolina Sen. Robert Hayne doubted the old general would follow through, a colleague replied, “when Jackson begins to talk about hanging, they can begin to look out for ropes.”There’s a reason Lincoln reviewed Jackson’s proclamation against nullification when composing his first inaugural address.There are other similarities. At the Hermitage, Trump talked of Jackson’s rise from backwoods obscurity: Lincoln traced the same path. Trump noted Jackson’s regard for common workers; Lincoln felt the same way (“Whatever is calculated to advance the conditions of the honest, struggling laboring man,” he said, “I am for that thing”). Trump celebrated how Jackson challenged the powerful and connected; Lincoln targeted the Southern planter class as a corrupt establishment. Trump remarked on all the abuse Jackson endured; Lincoln got as much or more.So, why wasn’t Lincoln himself a Jacksonian? This would have been the easy choice given how Jacksonian Democrats dominated the areas where Lincoln grew up and made his first forays into elected politics. He instead became a Whig — and then a Republican — largely as cultural choice.The Whigs disdained Jackson as representing “the passions.” He was a slave owner, gambler and duelist, and therefore, according to the Whigs, lacked the cardinal virtue of self-control.They preferred Henry Clay, who said, “All legislation, all government, all society, is formed upon the principle of mutual concession, politeness, comity, courtesy.” Lincoln identified as a Whig, in the words of one historian, “because he preferred what Whigs believed to be a more civilized way of life.” Self-improvement was the watchword for Whigs, who believed deeply in discipline, lawfulness and reason.And this is the rub. This Whig ethic was passed into the DNA of the Republican Party, but risks getting lost in a newly Jacksonian GOP.First, in the course of defending Trump’s tweets and various other wanderings, the party could begin to argue that words and proprieties don’t matter.This would be a turning away from Lincoln. He had a savage wit, and was a brutal insult artist early in his career. Then, he got more serious. His most famous speeches are models of precision, logic and historical knowledge. Certainly, this is how we should want our leaders to speak and think.Second, there is the factor of new Trump voters. In the 19th century, the different cultural emphases of Democrats and the Whigs tracked their different constituencies. To simplify, the Democrats were the party of the subsistence farmers and the Whigs the party of the people most integrated in the commercial economy. Not coincidentally, the Democrats believed in the natural goodness of the people, while the Whigs preached constant striving.With Trump having won the loyalty of a white working class that is, among other challenges, beset by social dysfunction, the temptation for Republicans will be to forget their message of personal responsibility — to emphasize what has allegedly been done to working-class voters rather than what they can do to help themselves.Democrats have long wanted ownership of Lincoln (the late Mario Cuomo wrote a book about this), and now the GOP’s hold on the Great Emancipator is getting cross-pressured by a Republican president. If a swap of Andrew Jackson for Abraham Lincoln is on offer, the Democrats — already scurrying away from their once signature Jefferson-Jackson Day dinners — would be foolish not to take it.The Party of Lincoln should, despite the enthusiasm of President Trump, keep Old Hickory at a healthy arm’s length.

03 мая, 22:46

Mad About Obama's Paid Speeches? Blame Gerald Ford.

function onPlayerReadyVidible(e){'undefined'!=typeof HPTrack&&HPTrack.Vid.Vidible_track(e)}!function(e,i){if(e.vdb_Player){if('object'==typeof commercial_video){var a='',o='m.fwsitesection='+commercial_video.site_and_category;if(a+=o,commercial_video['package']){var c='&m.fwkeyvalues=sponsorship%3D'+commercial_video['package'];a+=c}e.setAttribute('vdb_params',a)}i(e.vdb_Player)}else{var t=arguments.callee;setTimeout(function(){t(e,i)},0)}}(document.getElementById('vidible_1'),onPlayerReadyVidible); WASHINGTON ― Former President Barack Obama’s decision to accept $400,000 from investment bank Cantor Fitzgerald for a speech about health care generated plenty of outrage last week that he is monetizing the presidency. Then there was the counter-argument that those concerned about Obama’s new source of income are just racists. But aside from the accusations of racism, this debate isn’t new. Debates about the propriety of ex-presidential behavior trace back to the country’s founding. But the contemporary question begins 40 years ago with an important decision made by Gerald Ford. Yes, Gerald Ford. Few historians would put Ford, the 38th President of the United States, on their list of most influential and important presidents. His accidental ascension to the presidency after the resignation of Richard Nixon is perhaps best remembered for the pardon he gave his predecessor and his oversight of the country’s official retreat from Vietnam. It was Ford’s time as an ex-president that was truly revolutionary. In a break from every ex-president before him, Ford decided to turn the prestige of the presidency into cash. He joined corporate boards and hit the paid-speaking circuit. “[H]e didn’t just commercialize the former presidency; he created the commercialized former presidency,” Ford biographer Thomas DeFrank said in an interview with the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation. “That’s why I said in my book that every former president should go visit his grave in Grand Rapids and thank him for ensuring that they will be instant zillionaires.” Just like Obama, Ford got serious flak for monetizing the highest office in the nation after leaving it ― from the press, presidential historians and even his former press secretary. Ford even accepted money to hawk a presidential medal collection, signing a 1978 deal with Franklin Mint, which claimed to be the world’s largest private producer of coins. The silver medal set sold for $1,950 and the gold for $2,750.  In a letter featuring his official ex-president letterhead, Ford asked recipients to buy the medals: “From the days of George Washington to our own time, the story of the American presidency has been one of continuing challenge and responsibility. That is why I believe the Medallic History of the American Presidency will provide a meaningful way for many American families to enrich their knowledge and appreciation of the heritage of freedom we enjoy.” “We wish he could earn his way without dragging the presidency into it,” the New York Times responded in an editorial.  Jerald terHorst, Ford’s first White House press secretary, wrote in the Washington Post that he wished his former boss would stop the “huckstering and hustling and merchandising of the presidency.” “Mr. Ford believes in the free enterprise system, and is engaging in that,” Ford’s assistant, Robert Barrett, countered when asked by the Associated Press in 1978. DeFrank later recounted a similar argument from Ford himself: “I will always remember ... him pounding the desk and saying, ‘God damn it, Tom, it’s the free enterprise system at its finest.’” Ford’s reasoning reflects its place in time. The 1970s featured a number of revolutionary decisions in corporate America to decouple itself from its obligations to labor and society at large and enter into the global marketplace, while still asserting its political power in the U.S. Unsurprisingly, income inequality exploded ― arguably leading to today’s record high levels. The nation’s first brand ambassador-turned-president, Ronald Reagan, also benefited from these new post-presidential perks. Japanese firm Fujisankei paid Reagan $2 million to deliver two 20 minutes speeches in Japan in 1989, less than a year after leaving office. Fujisankei paid an additional $5 million to cover costs related to the former president’s trip. Reagan was also criticized for this ―  some guy named Donald Trump even poked fun at him for taking money from U.S. businesses by promoting competitors in Japan. “Former Presidents haven’t always comported themselves with dignity after leaving the Oval Office,”a 1989 New York Times article read. “But none have plunged so blatantly into pure commercialism.” Every president since has followed Ford and Reagan’s lead to varying degrees. George H.W. Bush accepted money for speeches from companies like Amway, Choice Hotels International and Barrick Gold, among others. Bush also received a five-figure honorary role on an advisory board for Barrick Gold, a Canadian mining company. Although a millionaire when he entered the White House, Bush quipped an excuse to the New York Times, “everybody has to earn a living.”  His successor, Bill Clinton, took that to new levels, earning around $100 million from paid speeches since leaving office in 2001. Clinton left office with between $2 million and $10 million in legal debts stemming from his impeachment and disbarment hearings, which put him in a slightly different position than most ex-presidents. He used his early earnings to help pay off these debts and those of some of his White House staff. But continued to amass a substantial fortune from speaking gigs ― and has, as everyone is well aware, received substantial criticism for it. George W. Bush was much less popular when his presidency ended, but still made $15 million from paid speeches in the just the first three years after leaving the White House. Now Obama is taking part in the new ex-president tradition of getting really, really rich. It wasn’t always this way. Harry Truman contemplated this issue upon leaving office in 1953 and decided it was indecorous. Though he received numerous offers to make money after moving back home to Independence, Missouri, he wrote in his memoirs that “I could never lend myself to any transaction, however respectable, that would commercialize on the prestige and dignity of the office of the presidency.” Truman was not a wealthy man in the 19 years he lived after leaving office. He spent much of his time responding to letters from admirers around the country, which he said personally cost him $30,000 a year in postage and related expenses. He did, however, think the government should help defray those costs in some way ― a position that he conveyed to his old friend Speaker Sam Rayburn. Truman’s request entered a long-running debate about what to do with ex-presidents. Alexander Hamilton, the nation’s first treasury secretary, worried in the Federalist Papers prior to the ratification of the Constitution about the “half a dozen men who had had credit enough to be raised to the seat of the supreme magistracy, wandering among the people like discontented ghosts.” “Of course the subject would be relieved of all uncertainty and embarrassment if every President would die at the end of his term,” Grover Cleveland, the 22nd and 24th president and the only one in history to be elected to two non-consecutive terms, opined in a 1891 speech in Sandwich, Massachusetts. William Howard Taft agreed. In a speech to the Lotos Club in New York City following a failed reelection bid in November 1912, ex-presidents should be administered, “a dose of chloroform … and the reduction of the flesh of the thus quietly departed to ashes in a funeral pyre … to fix his place in history and enable the public to pass on to new men and new measures.” This was undoubtedly a jibe at former President Teddy Roosevelt’s decision to come out of retirement and run in the 1912 election. Luckily for Taft, this practice was never adopted, thus allowing him to become the only ex-president to also serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Millard Fillmore, who like Ford was never elected to the position but rather acceded to the position upon the death of President Zachary Taylor, had earlier appealed for some sort of government support for the former heads of state in the New York Herald in 1873: “It is a national disgrace that our Presidents, having occupied the highest position in the country should be cast adrift, and, perhaps, be compelled to keep a corner grocery for subsistence.” While no former president has ever had to open a corner grocery store to get by, many have found other ways of paying the bills. Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th president, was the first to pen a memoir about his life and time in office. Grant died of cancer days after finishing the final draft, but his widow, Julia Grant, received $400,000 in royalties for his memoir, which is still widely considered the finest presidential memoir written before or since.  Calvin Coolidge, the 30th president, received a litany of job offers from the business community as his presidency wound down. His reason for rejecting them, “Some of the offers that have come to me would never have come if I had not been President. That means these people are trying to hire not Calvin Coolidge, but a former President of the United States. I can’t make that kind of use of the office.” He added, “I can’t do anything that might take away from the Presidency any of its dignity, or any of the faith the people have in it.” (Coolidge would later take an unpaid board seat at the New York Life Insurance Company.) Truman’s call for support for former presidents garnered sympathy from Democrats in Congress, prompting them to pass the Former Presidents Act in 1958. The bill provides pensions and other benefits to ex-presidents, which have been expanded and increased through legislation in the years since. But Jimmy Carter is the only former president since Ford to follow in Truman’s footsteps in declining to make money through consulting, paid speeches and other means. Carter insisted that it was “inappropriate” for an ex-president to make money in Ford’s “free enterprise system.” To make money, Carter, already the owner of a peanut farm and other real estate holdings, has written more than two dozen books since leaving office. The whole debate over the propriety of ex-presidential money-making now seems rather quaint now given President Donald Trump’s decision to maintain ownership of his real estate and branding business while in the White House, and his regular jaunts to his many eponymous properties. Trump hasn’t even waited until leaving office to monetize the presidency. Take that Gerald Ford. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

03 мая, 22:46

Mad About Obama's Paid Speeches? Blame Gerald Ford.

function onPlayerReadyVidible(e){'undefined'!=typeof HPTrack&&HPTrack.Vid.Vidible_track(e)}!function(e,i){if(e.vdb_Player){if('object'==typeof commercial_video){var a='',o='m.fwsitesection='+commercial_video.site_and_category;if(a+=o,commercial_video['package']){var c='&m.fwkeyvalues=sponsorship%3D'+commercial_video['package'];a+=c}e.setAttribute('vdb_params',a)}i(e.vdb_Player)}else{var t=arguments.callee;setTimeout(function(){t(e,i)},0)}}(document.getElementById('vidible_1'),onPlayerReadyVidible); WASHINGTON ― Former President Barack Obama’s decision to accept $400,000 from investment bank Cantor Fitzgerald for a speech about health care generated plenty of outrage last week that he is monetizing the presidency. Then there was the counter-argument that those concerned about Obama’s new source of income are just racists. But aside from the accusations of racism, this debate isn’t new. Debates about the propriety of ex-presidential behavior trace back to the country’s founding. But the contemporary question begins 40 years ago with an important decision made by Gerald Ford. Yes, Gerald Ford. Few historians would put Ford, the 38th President of the United States, on their list of most influential and important presidents. His accidental ascension to the presidency after the resignation of Richard Nixon is perhaps best remembered for the pardon he gave his predecessor and his oversight of the country’s official retreat from Vietnam. It was Ford’s time as an ex-president that was truly revolutionary. In a break from every ex-president before him, Ford decided to turn the prestige of the presidency into cash. He joined corporate boards and hit the paid-speaking circuit. “[H]e didn’t just commercialize the former presidency; he created the commercialized former presidency,” Ford biographer Thomas DeFrank said in an interview with the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation. “That’s why I said in my book that every former president should go visit his grave in Grand Rapids and thank him for ensuring that they will be instant zillionaires.” Just like Obama, Ford got serious flak for monetizing the highest office in the nation after leaving it ― from the press, presidential historians and even his former press secretary. Ford even accepted money to hawk a presidential medal collection, signing a 1978 deal with Franklin Mint, which claimed to be the world’s largest private producer of coins. The silver medal set sold for $1,950 and the gold for $2,750.  In a letter featuring his official ex-president letterhead, Ford asked recipients to buy the medals: “From the days of George Washington to our own time, the story of the American presidency has been one of continuing challenge and responsibility. That is why I believe the Medallic History of the American Presidency will provide a meaningful way for many American families to enrich their knowledge and appreciation of the heritage of freedom we enjoy.” “We wish he could earn his way without dragging the presidency into it,” the New York Times responded in an editorial.  Jerald terHorst, Ford’s first White House press secretary, wrote in the Washington Post that he wished his former boss would stop the “huckstering and hustling and merchandising of the presidency.” “Mr. Ford believes in the free enterprise system, and is engaging in that,” Ford’s assistant, Robert Barrett, countered when asked by the Associated Press in 1978. DeFrank later recounted a similar argument from Ford himself: “I will always remember ... him pounding the desk and saying, ‘God damn it, Tom, it’s the free enterprise system at its finest.’” Ford’s reasoning reflects its place in time. The 1970s featured a number of revolutionary decisions in corporate America to decouple itself from its obligations to labor and society at large and enter into the global marketplace, while still asserting its political power in the U.S. Unsurprisingly, income inequality exploded ― arguably leading to today’s record high levels. The nation’s first brand ambassador-turned-president, Ronald Reagan, also benefited from these new post-presidential perks. Japanese firm Fujisankei paid Reagan $2 million to deliver two 20 minutes speeches in Japan in 1989, less than a year after leaving office. Fujisankei paid an additional $5 million to cover costs related to the former president’s trip. Reagan was also criticized for this ―  some guy named Donald Trump even poked fun at him for taking money from U.S. businesses by promoting competitors in Japan. “Former Presidents haven’t always comported themselves with dignity after leaving the Oval Office,”a 1989 New York Times article read. “But none have plunged so blatantly into pure commercialism.” Every president since has followed Ford and Reagan’s lead to varying degrees. George H.W. Bush accepted money for speeches from companies like Amway, Choice Hotels International and Barrick Gold, among others. Bush also received a five-figure honorary role on an advisory board for Barrick Gold, a Canadian mining company. Although a millionaire when he entered the White House, Bush quipped an excuse to the New York Times, “everybody has to earn a living.”  His successor, Bill Clinton, took that to new levels, earning around $100 million from paid speeches since leaving office in 2001. Clinton left office with between $2 million and $10 million in legal debts stemming from his impeachment and disbarment hearings, which put him in a slightly different position than most ex-presidents. He used his early earnings to help pay off these debts and those of some of his White House staff. But continued to amass a substantial fortune from speaking gigs ― and has, as everyone is well aware, received substantial criticism for it. George W. Bush was much less popular when his presidency ended, but still made $15 million from paid speeches in the just the first three years after leaving the White House. Now Obama is taking part in the new ex-president tradition of getting really, really rich. It wasn’t always this way. Harry Truman contemplated this issue upon leaving office in 1953 and decided it was indecorous. Though he received numerous offers to make money after moving back home to Independence, Missouri, he wrote in his memoirs that “I could never lend myself to any transaction, however respectable, that would commercialize on the prestige and dignity of the office of the presidency.” Truman was not a wealthy man in the 19 years he lived after leaving office. He spent much of his time responding to letters from admirers around the country, which he said personally cost him $30,000 a year in postage and related expenses. He did, however, think the government should help defray those costs in some way ― a position that he conveyed to his old friend Speaker Sam Rayburn. Truman’s request entered a long-running debate about what to do with ex-presidents. Alexander Hamilton, the nation’s first treasury secretary, worried in the Federalist Papers prior to the ratification of the Constitution about the “half a dozen men who had had credit enough to be raised to the seat of the supreme magistracy, wandering among the people like discontented ghosts.” “Of course the subject would be relieved of all uncertainty and embarrassment if every President would die at the end of his term,” Grover Cleveland, the 22nd and 24th president and the only one in history to be elected to two non-consecutive terms, opined in a 1891 speech in Sandwich, Massachusetts. William Howard Taft agreed. In a speech to the Lotos Club in New York City following a failed reelection bid in November 1912, ex-presidents should be administered, “a dose of chloroform … and the reduction of the flesh of the thus quietly departed to ashes in a funeral pyre … to fix his place in history and enable the public to pass on to new men and new measures.” This was undoubtedly a jibe at former President Teddy Roosevelt’s decision to come out of retirement and run in the 1912 election. Luckily for Taft, this practice was never adopted, thus allowing him to become the only ex-president to also serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Millard Fillmore, who like Ford was never elected to the position but rather acceded to the position upon the death of President Zachary Taylor, had earlier appealed for some sort of government support for the former heads of state in the New York Herald in 1873: “It is a national disgrace that our Presidents, having occupied the highest position in the country should be cast adrift, and, perhaps, be compelled to keep a corner grocery for subsistence.” While no former president has ever had to open a corner grocery store to get by, many have found other ways of paying the bills. Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th president, was the first to pen a memoir about his life and time in office. Grant died of cancer days after finishing the final draft, but his widow, Julia Grant, received $400,000 in royalties for his memoir, which is still widely considered the finest presidential memoir written before or since.  Calvin Coolidge, the 30th president, received a litany of job offers from the business community as his presidency wound down. His reason for rejecting them, “Some of the offers that have come to me would never have come if I had not been President. That means these people are trying to hire not Calvin Coolidge, but a former President of the United States. I can’t make that kind of use of the office.” He added, “I can’t do anything that might take away from the Presidency any of its dignity, or any of the faith the people have in it.” (Coolidge would later take an unpaid board seat at the New York Life Insurance Company.) Truman’s call for support for former presidents garnered sympathy from Democrats in Congress, prompting them to pass the Former Presidents Act in 1958. The bill provides pensions and other benefits to ex-presidents, which have been expanded and increased through legislation in the years since. But Jimmy Carter is the only former president since Ford to follow in Truman’s footsteps in declining to make money through consulting, paid speeches and other means. Carter insisted that it was “inappropriate” for an ex-president to make money in Ford’s “free enterprise system.” To make money, Carter, already the owner of a peanut farm and other real estate holdings, has written more than two dozen books since leaving office. The whole debate over the propriety of ex-presidential money-making now seems rather quaint now given President Donald Trump’s decision to maintain ownership of his real estate and branding business while in the White House, and his regular jaunts to his many eponymous properties. Trump hasn’t even waited until leaving office to monetize the presidency. Take that Gerald Ford. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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Press Briefing by Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin on Financial Services Executive Order and Memoranda

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room  11:03 A.M. EDT MR. SPICER:  I just want to go over -- first of all, happy Friday.  I want to go over the ground rules, which we adjusted some after a lot of feedback from you guys.  So I appreciate the feedback.   So, first, we're passing out some background material so you can reference them during the briefing, which is something that was suggested by several members in this room that it would be helpful when do background briefings.  So there you go.   Secretary Mnuchin is going to speak on the record, as several of you have requested.  And this part of the briefing is going to be embargoed until 12:30 p.m. to give you guys to write the stories, which was a request that some folks also made.  So I think you went three for three on the requests.  When Secretary Mnuchin is done speaking he'll take some questions.  He’s obviously here to talk about the executive order and memoranda that are being signed later today at Treasury.  When he’s done, he'll take some questions, and then I'll get up and kind of have some fun with you guys -- see who else stops by. So, with that, as long as everyone is clear on the ground rules -- the Secretary is going to come up, he is on the record, embargoed until 12:30 p.m.  He will take questions; they will also be embargoed until 12:30 p.m.  When the Secretary is done, we will clearly transition back to me.  That is then on the record and no embargo. With that, I am pleased to welcome the Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin. SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  Thank you.  It's a pleasure to be here. So let me just say a couple of words and then I'm happy to answer questions and clarifications. So, first of all, this will be the President’s first trip to the Treasury, so we are enormously excited to welcome him at the Treasury.  I will say the importance of the Treasury and the location of it on the White House campus is very important and allows constant communication and ease for us to go back and forth.  I think it was not coincidental that it was built next door.   So we are thrilled to welcome him.  There will be a lot of people there outside to greet him, and he will then be coming up, seeing the line of portraits of past Treasury Secretaries, and then coming into my office and signing the executive order and the two memoranda -- with Alexander Hamilton looking over us. So with that, I think you know we have been busy since he signed the initial executive order on core principles, looking at financial reform.  It encompasses all the aspects of Dodd-Frank, but goes much further than Dodd-Frank.  We've already conducted a large number of meetings -- I think we've had over 16 group meetings, and in many of these meetings there’s 50 people in each meeting or more.  So we've been conducting a lot of feedback overall on regulatory reform. These three are specifically designed to focus on certain aspects that are enormously important to the Treasury and to the President, and that fill in with his campaign promise to make sure that Dodd-Frank is not harming our financial system.  But first let me just comment on the tax executive order. Under the previous administration, the tax code has become extremely expensive and burdensome.  Individuals and business spend over 6.1 billion hours; the cost is over $230 billion.  The basic 1040 has grown enormously.  And I think everybody would agree that the tax system is way too complicated and burdensome. So the purpose of this is that the President will be instructing us to review all significant tax regulations since the beginning of 2016, so all of 2016 and this year, and to look at where there are undue financial burdens, unnecessary complexity and requirements, and for us to issue a report that goes through what the issues are and comes up with solutions by repealing or modifying them.  That's the first part of this. The second part of it is two memoranda that review very specifically two important parts of Dodd-Frank.  The first is OLA -- orderly liquidation authority.  We will do an analysis to make sure that this doesn’t encourage excess risk-taking, moral hazard and exposure to taxpayers.  And while that period -- he will direct us not to use OLA unless required by law, in consultation with him.  So in the event that there is a significant emergency and we do need to use it, we have a way of doing it. The second one will be to put a 180-day review on FSOC designation, and I distinguish -- FSOC is a very important council that I chair.  I think the most important part of FSOC is that I can bring the regulators together, get everybody in a room, be able to address important part of regulation.  FSOC also has the responsibility to designate certain entities, and the President will be instructing me to put a hold on that for designations until we do a thorough review and make sure it’s a fair and transparent process. So with that little overview, I’m happy to answer any questions. Q    Mr. Secretary, do you feel that these policies will help to get rid of Too Big to Fail, or at least take a look at -- several conservatives have argued that Dodd-Frank has codified Too Big to Fail.  And second, Chairman Jeb Hensarling, in the House Financial Services Committee, this week introduced a Dodd-Frank bill.  Are you working with him, and do you support that piece of legislation? SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  Well, let me just first comment -- we have been working closely with Chairman Hensarling.  We have been in discussions about all different aspects of regulatory reform. It’s obviously a complicated bill, so I won’t go through the entire bill, but I will say we are supportive of him bringing forward this legislation and look forward to working with him and Congress on the specifics of it. In regards to your other question, let me make it absolutely clear, President Trump is absolutely committed to make sure that taxpayers are not at risk for government bailouts of entities that are too big to fail. Q    It was clear to candidate Trump that the tax code was too complex long before he became President.  And he said on the campaign trail, repeatedly, tax reform would be a top priority.  He said it here as President.  Where are you on that?  You’ve made it pretty clear the August deadline is no longer realistic. How far away are you from putting together a tax reform package? And does this slow that process down -- this review? SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  Well, let me first comment, President Trump, who was originally candidate Trump, he understood how complicated tax administration reform was even before he became a candidate.  Tax reform is way too complicated.  We said during the campaign, and we’ve said now, we will be working with Congress on a comprehensive tax reform package with the idea to simplify personal taxes, create middle-income tax cuts, and make business taxes more competitive. I want to first focus on the specifics of what we’re doing today.  I did comment yesterday -- I wanted to make sure there is no misunderstanding that we have been working extensively -- from the day I had been confirmed, I’ve been having meetings with the leadership in the House and the Senate on tax reform.  Our staff has been meeting every week.  I’ve been meeting with Chairman Brady every week for the last month or two.  And what I said yesterday is we are very close to coming with the administration’s plan.  So the President is very focused on this. It has been one of his biggest priorities to create economic growth, and we are very focused on that. But I will ask just to hold questions on tax reform for the moment so that we can finish specifics of these.   Yes. Q    Secretary, just reading through here, what are some specific actions available to you to ease these tax compliance burdens? SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  Well, there’s -- I mean, just to be clear, what we’re going to do is we are going to go through and look at every single significant regulation that has been done in the last year-and-a-half.  We’re going to determine whether we think they’re needed in the tax code or whether they’re unnecessary, and the tax burden and complexity is too much.  And if we think it’s too much, we will make a recommendation to the President how to change that. Q    Mr. Secretary, in Congress it seems like in the Senate they want to do GSE reform before Dodd-Frank reform.  Is that order you would support?  And what do you think is the biggest holdup to getting a GSE deal? SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  Okay, well, I’m not going to comment on the Senate’s priority.  I defer to them on that.  But I will say, and I’ve said this from the time period in the campaign and from the minute I was nominated for this position, that housing reform is very important to this administration; that this is not something we’re focused on in terms of legislation in the first half of this year, but again, we’ve been having significant discussions at Treasury with the FHFA, with congressional leadership on this.  And we are committed to working with the House and the Senate on having a reform package that makes sure that we promote necessary liquidity in the housing markets.  These are very important to the economy and we want to make sure in no way do we not have that, but also making sure that we don’t put taxpayers at risk and leave these entities as they are. Q    Mr. Secretary, thank you.  ExxonMobil has requested -- SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  I’m really -- I’m going to ask people first to focus on -- if I could just ask everybody for questions on this, and then at the end perhaps I can answer a few more questions. Q    Mr. Secretary, for those who have just a general understanding that the regulations are tied to underlying law, could you explain why the review is necessary if simultaneously you’re working on a tax reform law?  In other words, aren’t you expending a lot of effort to do something that would be overtaken if the President is proposing new law? SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  Not necessarily.  I mean, first of all, these are regulations that exist today.  And just to be clear, although the report takes a period of time, that doesn’t mean that we can’t start on the more important things right away. So I think the issue here is this has to do with the complexity of tax regulations.  Some of those issues may be addressed in tax reform.  Some of those things have nothing to do with tax reform, and the President wants to make clear to the American people that we are going to fix the tax code. Q    Mr. Secretary, you’re not commenting on any specific regulations, but some of the most significant tax regulations adopted in this time period are the corporate inversions.  Is that what this is really targeted at?  SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  Again, it’s not targeted at just those, it’s targeted at things that are significant and create complexity and undue burdensome situations. Q    It’s certainly one of the things this would be looking at. SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  Again, it’s obviously one of the significant things and one of the things we would be looking at.  Q    Just on OLA, do you believe that bankruptcy judges are better equipped to deal with financial contagion risk than regulators? SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  Let me say that obviously this is a complicated issue.  The bankruptcy code right now doesn’t work, so if entities were going to go through bankruptcy I think it’s important that we have necessary changes to the bankruptcy code. But on the other hand, there is a reason why we have the bankruptcy code.  So this is something we’ll be looking at very carefully as to what the right solution is. Q    And then just to follow up -- Q    Do you have any -- back to the tax inversions.  I mean, -- SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  Wait a second, tax inversions aren’t on this.  That -- Q    Well, it's part of the issue of tax review.  Does your staff have any kind of idea of what it would look like if it’s determined that that portion of the tax review was overreaching by the Obama administration or violated the law in some way? SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  Again, let me just say we’ve got 100 people in the tax department at Treasury right across the street, and they are busy to work at everything.   So -- in the back. Q    Would you have done these reviews without executive presidential order?  What was the purpose specifically of the orders? SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  Again, I think the purposes of the orders are to make clear what the President and the administration’s priorities are and to signify the importance of these issues to the American people. Q    Mr. Secretary, it seems to me that when you're looking at reviewing the rules regarding inversions, that if you were to roll those back and not get your corporate tax cuts, your tax reform, that you might just start the exodus of companies all over again by removing these rules.  I know that you’re just beginning the review here, but is that part of the calculation?  Is that part of the discussion here -- that these two things would really have to go hand in hand or we could be right back where we were? SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  Well, let me just say a general comment -- as I like to say, there were a lot of things coming to this job that I knew a lot about and there are certain things that I had to learn a bit about.  So on my first day in office, Sean was kind enough to invite me over here and I had the pleasure of dealing with the Venezuelan vice president and the Kingpin Act. I can assure you on tax reform, this is an area that I’ve spent a lot of time on.  This is an area that the President and I have worked together during the campaign on.  This is not just something we’ve started thinking about. The priorities are making U.S. business more competitive.  And we’re not going to do anything under this administration that inadvertently makes U.S. business less competitive or encourages U.S. business to go abroad.  We are focused on making U.S. business the most competitive in the world, giving them the tools, and bringing back trillions of dollars. And I can tell you, between the President and I, we’ve literally met with hundreds and hundreds of businesspeople, listening to ideas -- small business leaders, big business leaders.  This administration is open to getting feedback, real-live feedback before we make decisions. Q    Mr. Secretary, a related subject -- on a related subject.  Exxon -- on the same subject -- SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  I’m going to finish these comments.  I have another few minutes. Q    Mr. Secretary, former Fed Chair Ben Bernanke has written that repealing Title 2 to eliminate the OLA would be a major mistake, in his view, and it would imprudently put the economy and the financial system at risk.  Do you envision ultimately repealing Title 2 and eliminating OLA?  Or is there some middle ground you see where you’re going to end up after this review is complete? SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  Well, we’re going to do the review and conclude what we think makes sense.  And I would just say -- nothing against him, I have a lot of respect for him -- again, we’re listening to regulators’ views; we’re listening to people who were previously in the administration; we’re listening to people who were impacted by this and we’ll be taking that all into account. Q    Going into the review, can you give us a sense of what you think -- Q    Thank you very much, sir.  India’s financial minister here in the World Bank in meetings, and this will be your first meeting with him under this new Trump relationship.  So what is the future of U.S.-India trade and financial and economic relations, sir? SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  Well, let me say, kind of -- I broke out from the IMF meetings to come here today.  I think I had a series of eight bilaterals yesterday.  I think I’ve done four this morning, have a full day tomorrow and the rest of this afternoon. And that’s one of them that I look forward -- we’ve had very constructive discussions with all our counterparts about trade and investment and opportunities for global growth, and I look forward to working with all my counterparts in the G20. So thank you all very much.  Appreciate it.  Thank you, Sean. Q    And then you were going to answer questions after -- Q    Sorry, sir --  Q    You said you were going to answer some tax questions when you were done. SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  Well, I’ll take one more tax question from you, but then I have to go to IMF meetings.  So what was your tax question? Q    Anyone else -- Q    Sir, on Exxon -- SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  Tax question. Q    The President has talked a lot about preventing U.S. companies from moving overseas.  That is different from moving profit overseas.  And I just want to know where do you think -- where do you land on that?  Is it okay for U.S. companies to move profit overseas?  Or are you more focused on the jobs side? SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  Well, let me be clear, we’re focused on everything.  So we want trillions of dollars to come back onshore, to be re-invested.  And we expect that that will be a major part of tax reform.  And we are committed, through trade policies, tax policies, economic discussions, to make sure that we have free and fair bilateral trade that works in both directions. Q    Sir, on the Exxon, one thing -- request your permission to deal in the Black Sea region.  When can the decision be expected? SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  Can’t comment on that right now, but -- that’s not something I can comment specifically on at the moment. Q    -- on the difficulty of doing tax reform, if you’re not able to get this healthcare repeal through?  There’s a lot of savings that were expected from healthcare repeal. SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  I think, as you know, the President wants to get healthcare done and he wants to get tax done.  And hopefully we’ll get them both done, but we’re going to get tax done.   Thank you very much. Q    Is there a timeline for that now?  A new timeline? SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  As I said yesterday -- soon.  (Laughter.)   END    11: 25 A.M. EDT

20 апреля, 10:30

Facebook придёт за тобой

За что люблю поколение рок-н-ролла — за остроту мысли и нон-конформистскую жизненную позицию. Представителям этого поколения не запудрить мозги хипстерской лабудой. Потому что они помнят настоящих хипстеров — сороковых годов: они все умерли практически на руках настоящих рокеров. Не промыть им мозги айтишным собачьим языком и не очаровать новым app’ом для смартфончика. После того как проехал по всем Штатам с Бобом Диланом на гастролях, ваши спайсы — для маменькиных сынков. А вейпы вообще для домашних пёсиков. Что вы можете нового рассказать Джонатану Таплину, автору потрясающей книги, которая вышла вчера в Америке под названием "Пошевеливайся и круши. Как Google, Facebook и Amazon загнали культуру в угол и подорвали демократию" (Move Fast and Break Things — How Google, Facebook and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy). Этот человек, ныне профессор Аннандейлского универа, провёл юность с Бобом Диланом (фильм "Последний вальс" и книга Outlaw Blues) и прочими Grateful Dead. Помогал Джорджу Харрисону собирать концерт для Бангладеш. В молодости собирал номинации на "Оскар", "Золотую ветвь" и "Золотой глобус" в качестве продюсера таких картин Мартина Скорцезе, как "Грязные улицы" с Де Ниро, а во взрослом состоянии первым придумал и запустил интернет-формат Video on Demand, где его и доблестно схарчили монополисты типа Sony с Universal. Так что профессор видит всю эту фигню с высокой колокольни. Что там тебе видать, Джонатан? Ответ на этот вопрос — в книге. Смешно и страшно. Высокотехнологичные компании Америки корчат из себя крутых и дико контркультурных. И боссы, и сотрудники ходят в маечках и джинсах на работу, вещают высокопарным языком о том, как их "разрушительные инновации" изменят мир к лучшему. А на самом деле единственное, в чём они преуспели по-настоящему, так это в разрушении демократии в Америке и по всему миру, ускоряя становление олигархии в США и уничтожая культурные и экономические возможности для миллионов людей. "Пошевеливайся и круши" — была любимая поговорка в Кремниевой долине. Но мальчики в маечках забыли об одном, что "культура — это не совсем "раскладушка" от Motorola, которую можно выкинуть в помойку сразу, как только появилась Новая Крутая Вещь". Всё, что пишет Таплин в своей книге, уже знакомо не понаслышке: "В той же Америке прибыли от газетной рекламы упали на 40 миллиардов с 2000 по 2014 год, доходы от музыкальных записей — на 10 миллиардов. За двадцать лет закрылось 5000 независимых книжных и музыкальных магазинов. Facebook проводит скрытые эксперименты по манипуляции сотнями тысяч пользователей, Amazon известен отношением к своим сотрудникам в логистических центрах как к рабам, Google — лидирует по нарушениям авторских прав. Всё это хорошо задокументировано". Почему эти новые гиганты Интернета так опасны? "Потому что они эксплуатируют доминирующие позиции на рынке для того, чтобы нарушать законы стран, где они работают, извлекать сверхприбыли из рекламного рынка, пользуясь простым шантажом, а также постоянно живут на чужом контенте, о чём правообладатель часто просто не догадывается", — пишет Таплин. Директор инновационной лаборатории Аннанберга, который входит в Университет Южной Калифорнии, Джонатан Таплин давно исследует проблему, и она ему видится следующим образом. "Главные технологические компании в основе своей монополистичны. Но всё началось гораздо раньше — ещё Томас Джефферсон требовал ограничения для монополий и пытался добавить эту главу к "Биллю о правах", наряду со свободой слова и прессы, свободой совести и защитой против вражеских армий. Тогда, ещё в те времена, против него выступил Александр Гамильтон, основатель Bank of New York, и он с коллегами победил. Но, не попав в "Билль о правах", закон против монополий реализовался в антитрестовском законе Шермана 1890 года. Именно этот акт позволил в своё время президенту Рузвельту разделить на части трест Джона Д. Рокфеллера Standard Oil. Таплин цитирует Рузвельта: "Первая задача — изменить условия, при которых эти люди аккумулируют мощь, вовсе не направленную на общественное благо". И эти слова опять актуальны как никогда. Автор приводит куски дискуссий по этому поводу на примере сети Walmart (включает в себя гипермаркеты, универмаги-дискаунтеры и овощные магазины), когда эксперты говорили, что ничего страшного не случилось бы, если бы во всей Америке из ретейлеров остался один только Walmart. На что им ответили, что, может быть, для потребителя мало что изменилось бы, а вот для поставщиков настала бы катастрофа, потому что их продавили бы при закупках по максимуму. "Это как раз то, что сейчас происходит с Amazon, — говорит Таплин. — В отношении книгоиздателей. Так как Amazon может отказать издателям в своей огромной базе, то последним приходится соглашаться на бросовые цены. Google и Facebook делают то же самое, отказывая рекламодателю в доступе к миллиардам пользователей, если рекламодателю цены кажутся завышенными по сравнению с рыночными". Автор цитирует показатель индекса Херфиндаля — Хиршмана, который определяет степень монополизации. Значение 2500 определяет высокий уровень монополизации той или иной компании. И следовательно, её степень нарушения антимонопольных законов. Но на рынке интернет-поисковиков Google имеет 7402 пункта — практически в три раза больше критической цифры, и все делают вид, что всё нормально. В ответ на мой вопрос "как насчёт других стран, не только Америки?" Джонатан сказал: — Дело как раз в том, что у них мировое господство. Реальную конкуренцию им составляют только русские на своей территории. В Европе, например, никто не может сопротивляться. — Ты говоришь, что эти компании "закладывают бомбу под основы демократии"? Что ты имеешь в виду? — Прежде всего, всё это началось с проблемы фейковых новостей, благодаря "Гуглу" и "Фейсбуку". Так как ни FB, ни YouTube не волнует содержание их страниц, стало возможным распространение любой лжи на миллиардную аудиторию. При этом навариваясь на рекламе посредством Google Ad Sense. Кстати, теперь мы имеем вообще запредельные вещи: Facebook блокирует любой намёк на наготу, зато транслирует в прямом эфире убийство человека. Я только что выступил в NY Post по этому поводу со статьёй. — Это всё из-за тоталитарной природы монополий? — Хороший термин ты придумал the totalitarian nature of monopolies, я в книге использую несколько иной — regulatory capture — ловушка для регулятора, потому что тот же Google использует своё влияние, чтобы манипулировать регуляторами как в администрации Обамы, так и в администрации Трампа. Практически Big Tech сам выбирает себе регуляторов. — Какие инструменты существуют, чтобы ограничить власть новоявленных миллиардеров в высоких технологиях? — Это может быть антимонопольное законодательство — только если законодатели решат его реформировать в соответствии с задачами сегодняшнего дня, а не времён Рузвельта. Потому что сегодня происходит убийство культуры: скажем, группа, которая на iTunes продаёт миллионный тираж своих песен, может заработать 900 000 долларов, а когда у них на YouTube стрим на миллион, то музыканты в лучшем случае получат 900 долларов. Это надо менять. Таким образом, либертарианство свободного рынка, которое спокойно отправляет в помойку антимонопольные законы, коренится в самой природе Интернета. Но идея децентрализованной сети, которая должна пережить атомную войну, уже давно вошла в противоречие с практикой огромной концентрации власти и силы в руках всего нескольких компаний в мире. "При этом, если бы антигосударственные убеждения молодых интернет-олигархов существовали в такой форме в 1960-е годы, то самого Интернета, скорее всего, не случилось бы". На самом деле мощности этих компаний вполне бы хватило, чтобы защитить те законы, которые они благостно сегодня сами нарушают. Они продемонстрировали свои способности в деле священной борьбы с голым человеческим телом на FB или в деле блокировки незаконной торговли наркотиками — в поисковых запросах и выдачах. И для них не было бы слишком сложно охранять авторское право или делиться своими мегаприбылями с индустриями поставщиков контента, которых они сегодня просто режут без ножа. Не оставляет Таплин и тему президентских выборов 2016 года, когда, по его мнению, "состоялась демонстрация последствий того, как всё те же интернет-компании выпотрошили когда-то влиятельную сферу профессиональной журналистики". И опасность подстерегает не только людей творческой профессии. "Первыми на баррикадах оказались музыканты и писатели всех мастей, потому что именно эта сфера первой пошла в оцифровку. Но ничего, скоро придут и за вами, за вашей работой и за вашими личными данными". Главный вывод новой книги Джонатана Таплина в том, что без изменения законов, без принуждения гигантов соблюдать этические нормы и уважать нужды потребителя, эти охреневшие от вседозволенности и денег юные олигархи с моралью крысы и кругозором танка Т-34 изменят общество ещё больше, нежели они это сделали до сих пор. Правда, это вряд ли будут изменения к лучшему.

19 апреля, 12:46

Can American Democracy Survive The Era Of Inequality?

Only in our obsessively data-driven era could an issue as socially profound as economic inequality be almost exclusively presented as a mathematical abstraction. Over the past 30 years, an equation has malfunctioned in America, and the numbers do not add up. Occupy Wall Street declares solidarity with the 99 percent, and French economist Thomas Piketty has centuries of figures to prove it. The fact that these bloodless metaphors serve as effective political slogans demonstrates the severity of the problem. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) statistically dense stump speeches attacking the 1 percent transformed him from an obscure hippie into the most popular politician in the country. But inequality is not the breakdown of an awesome machine. It is a political crisis ― one that threatens the very foundations of American government, according to a startling new book by Vanderbilt University Law School professor Ganesh Sitaraman. In The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution, Sitaraman argues persuasively that the American Constitution requires a robust middle class to operate, and will break down in the face of prolonged, severe economic inequality. In a narrative that reaches all the way back to ancient Athens, Sitaraman presents the American Constitution as a radical document that broke with all prior Western legal systems by rejecting the idea that significant economic inequality is both natural and inevitable. Where Athens, Rome and subsequent European empires constructed their institutions to prevent class antagonism from devolving into class war, the United States built a legal system that required broad economic equality to function. Other constitutions, Sitaraman told HuffPost, “built economic class right into the structure of government. In England, for example, you’ve got a House of Lords for the rich and you’ve got a House of Commons for the poor. We don’t have anything like that. … And the reason we don’t have that is that the founders looked around and they thought that America was uniquely equal economically in the history of the world.” By not baking class division into the cake, the American system avoided granting explicit privileges and protections to the rich. But the lack of constitutional checks on the power of either the rich or the poor also makes the American republic uniquely unstable during periods of deep inequality. “If the middle class collapses and the gap between the rich and everyone else expands, economic inequality will soon lead to political inequality,” Sitaraman writes. “Eventually, the political system itself will be deformed to stack the deck in favor of the economic elites. Either the republic will transform into an oligarchy, or the people will be seduced by an authoritarian demagogue.” Listen to HuffPost’s interview with Sitaraman in the HuffPost politics podcast, So That Happened, embedded below. The discussion begins at the 19:25 mark.    Sitaraman’s account may surprise many liberals. For decades, the early years of the American government have been the intellectual property of the political right, with tri-cornered hats, fifes and snare drums serving as the iconography of conservatism. To the left, the American Revolution is widely seen as a war waged by wealthy white colonists infuriated by high taxes who somehow never got around to abolishing slavery while they were reshaping their political system (although Alexander Hamilton, an authoritarian who personally profited from the slave trade, is enjoying an odd resurgence of liberal popularity). Sitaraman doesn’t deny the dark side of the founding generation. He bluntly denounces its shortcomings and bemoans the injustices committed against women, African Americans, Native Americans and other minorities throughout U.S. history. But he also teases out a uniquely American egalitarian economic tradition that includes not only the liberal-friendly upheavals of the Civil War and the Great Depression, but the writings of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. “The idea is that everyone within the political community should be relatively equal,” Sitaraman said. “It leaves open a really big question ― who’s in the political community? And that’s the fight that we’ve had over generations.” Jefferson, in particular, comes in as a defender of such internal equality. In a letter to Madison, he claims to have “laid the axe to the root of Pseudoaristocracy” by banning primogeniture in Virginia and abolishing “entail” laws forbidding the division of agricultural estates. Elsewhere, he suggests “laying burthens on the richer classes, & encouraging the poorer ones,” develops a scheme for progressive land taxes, and calls for the government to give property to every man who does not already own at least 50 acres. The founders also acknowledged that laws would need to change over time to preserve the egalitarian nature of the Republic, Sitaraman argues. He quotes an 1829 letter from Madison, in which the co-author of the Federalist Papers predicts that by 1930, an intolerable number of citizens will be “reduced by a competition for employment to wages which afford them the bare necessities of life.” At that point, “the institutions and laws of the Country must be adapted, and it will require for the task all the wisdom of the wisest patriots.” The crisis Madison predicted came to pass in the form of the Great Depression, and American government survived by adopting Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, which lifted millions out of poverty and subjected much of the economy to federal regulation. Sitaraman’s prescriptions for the current crisis are more modest. Taxes should be raised on the rich and redistributed to the poor, either as direct payments, or in the form of more robust social services. Tougher enforcement of antitrust laws would break up heavy concentrations of economic power. Campaign finance reform would reduce the threat of legalized bribery. Unfortunately, none of these reforms will be possible for at least four years,  and they may already be too late. Donald Trump’s rapid rise to the presidency made plain America’s vulnerability to demagoguery. The symptoms of oligarchy have long been obvious in the workings of Congress, where intra-elite squabbles routinely sideline middle-class concerns. One particularly egregious example occurred in 2011. With the economy in the doldrums, the Senate spent more than six months battling over debit-card swipe fees, a fringe conflict between retailers and banks that had little to do with economic recovery. More recently, the Obama administration and Republican leaders expended tremendous effort trying to push through a trade pact that even its supporters believed would have only a minor effect on the flow of imports and exports ― a deal that also would have helped corporate insiders challenge profit-crimping laws and regulations before an international tribunal.  But the depressing state of our politics should not detract from Sitaraman’s outstanding work. It is only April, and The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution may well prove to be the most important political book of the year.   “So That Happened” is hosted by Jason Linkins, Zach Carter and Arthur Delaney and produced by Zach Young. Send us an email at [email protected] To listen to this podcast later, download our show on iTunes. While you’re there, please subscribe to, rate and review our show. Check out other HuffPost podcasts on iTunes here. You can also find us on Google Play Music, RadioPublic, or Acast. Want more witty and informative political banter in your life? Sign up for our Politics email and find out how Trump and his new administration will impact you. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.