**Adam Tooze**: _[USA: Goodbye to the American Century]_: "The rise and fall of US hegemony. Or Donald Trump and the sunset of American hegemony... >...The American Century is over. We can tell, not only because the Americans have elected a ludicrous President, but because, for all his nationalist braggadocio, Trump’s...
From crowdfunding to peer-to-peer networks -- there are plenty of ways you can raise money for your startup that don't come from an investor. A. Nonprofit Lenders Nowadays, there are lots of alternative financing options, including crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending. Do plenty of research and identify the method that's best for you. One option that many people overlook is nonprofit lenders, but this isn't for everyone. If you need a very large amount, you'll have to look elsewhere. But for smaller loans of $50,000 or less, it's worth looking into. - Shawn Porat, Scorely A. Crowdfunding I can't stress enough how powerful and beneficial crowdfunding can be for your startup. If you're a good fit for it (hardware or consumer product company at an angel or seed round), don't hesitate to launch in Indiegogo or Kickstarter. We raised $600,000 on Indiegogo when most investors told us our idea would never succeed. You get the funding you need, validation for your idea and even some press. - Andrew Thomas, SkyBell Doorbell A. Low-Interest Government Loans and Grants One of the least leveraged non-VC resources is low-interest government loans and grants. The key is to reach out to local governmental contacts, such as chambers of commerce, small business development centers, and community and economic development offices. These entities will want to see that you are going to create jobs, and you should communicate effectively that there is money. - Kristopher Jones, LSEO.com A. Peer-to-Peer Networks There are marketplace lending options with good business term loans and lines of credit. As long as you have a good credit rating, you'll get lower rates and more advantageous payback options. You can also look to friends, family members and business associates for alternative sources of funding. - Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now A. Friends and Family An investment from friends and family can be a great source of funding if you are early on in the process. Ideally, this should be a win-win. They get to invest in a company they believe in and you get funding quicker, allowing you to focus on your business. - Douglas Baldasare, ChargeItSpot A. Grants and Contracts If you have a technology-based business in the early stages, then consider some of the many grant opportunities that are out there. Programs like Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) can be a tremendous source of early-stage capital for high-risk, high-reward. Be informed about the amount of effort necessary to submit and manage an award. - Douglas Hutchings, Picasolar A. Small Business Loans When looking for money, take the time to talk to your local small business center or Small Business Administration branch. They are entrepreneur-friendly and offer government loans that are often more lenient in their qualifying standards, which is helpful to a company looking to get off the ground. - David Ciccarelli, Voices.com A. Merchant Cash Advances One of the most under-utilized yet beneficial sources of funding in today's market is a merchant cash advance, or MCA. MCA's are not traditional loans and don't possess the stringent requirements of traditional bank loans. They're often funded much quicker, with fewer required documents, and payback is based on your revenue rather than static payments, making repayment flexible. - Blair Thomas, First American Merchant A. Line of Credit A line of credit is a great source of funding because you pay interest only on what you use and it serves as security in case you need it. Every company should have access to this not just for emergency funding but as a great resource to grow without having to give away equity or control. - Anthony Davani, Kreoo A. Customers Find a product that has good margins and sell slowly at first. For each product you sell, buy another one with the profits. Do this year after year without taking money out of your business. In the end, you'll find that you didn't have to take external sources to fund your business, but instead, with your strict reinvestment of your limited resources, you got your customers to fund your business. - Diego Orjuela, Cables & Sensors, LLC These answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses. -- 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.
The presidency of Barack Obama has meant many profound things to many Americans. When he quoted Harper Lee’s classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird during his farewell address on Tuesday night, it was a poignant reminder of just one more: the significance of having a president who loves books. It was pretty cool to have a president who reads books. #ObamaFarewell— Emma Gray (@emmaladyrose) January 11, 2017 Obama, who authored two books before becoming president, has long described himself as a voracious reader. He’s been dubbed the “reader-in-chief,” using his bully pulpit to promote independent bookstores, the value of leisure reading, and even specific books. In a 2015 Politico article, he’s quoted as telling young students that he loved “adventure stories” like the “Hardy Boys” series and Treasure Island when he was a kid. As a high schooler, he immersed himself in American classics. While finishing college at Columbia University, he later told his biographer, “I had tons of books. I read everything.” More recently, Obama has professed admiration for Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon and Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Self-Reliance and Doris Lessing’s hefty feminist novel The Golden Notebook. In 2015, he surprised observers with the revelation that his favorite book of the year was not a serious political work or biography, but the perspective-shifting literary novel Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff. The same year, he interviewed Marilynne Robinson ― not the other way around. (For those who aren’t familiar, she’s an acclaimed literary novelist who weaves religious themes into her quiet narratives.) In short, our president has been a bookworm, a man who reads curiously, wide-rangingly, for pleasure as well as for profit. Obama hasn’t been the first American president to love the written word ― even President George W. Bush, who many on the left dismissed as doltish, read prolifically, though he left it more to his wife, first lady Laura Bush, to actively promote literacy. But Obama’s sheer delight in literature, philosophy, history and the full scope of what books can offer was frequently on display during his administration, and for bookworms like us, such a reader-in-chief will be missed. Are we speaking too soon? Will President-elect Donald Trump, come Christmas, march down to Politics and Prose or New York City’s The Strand bookshop to pore over piles of novels and nonfiction, hot from the presses? Maybe if there are copies of The Art of the Deal, one of his own ghostwritten publications, on sale. Trump has, in past interviews, struggled to name a favorite book other than his own best-sellers. (On one occasion, he suggested the Bible, though he couldn’t name a favorite verse.) Our own Jason Linkins compiled an in-depth survey of reporting in November that suggests Trump rarely, if ever, reads anything except headlines and magazine covers about himself. We’re not getting our bookish hopes up. Instead, we’ll just say: So long, Reader-in-Chief Obama. It was a beautiful eight years. -- 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.
U.S. Institute of Peace Tuesday, January 10, 2017 As delivered— Good morning. Thank you, Steve. This week, especially, it’s nice to be reminded that there’s life after being National Security Advisor. Thank you to Nancy Lindborg and the U.S. Institute of Peace for inviting me, and for the incredible work you do. It’s always good to see so many friends and colleagues from across government. And, I want to welcome my successor, General Mike Flynn, not only to this conference but to his new position. Mike, I imagine you’ll soon appreciate why—instead of a baton—I’d be better off passing you a case of Red Bull. In all seriousness, the baton metaphor is quite apt—and I want to thank Steve and the Bush 43 team again for the exemplary handoff they conducted. As President Obama says, the presidency is a relay race. Each administration inherits challenges, and each bequeaths challenges—often unforeseen ones—to its successor. It has been no different for us. When President Obama took office, the global economy was in free fall. We were embroiled in two hot wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and al Qaeda had regrouped along the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Allies continued to question the decision to invade Iraq. Iran was on the verge of acquiring the material for a nuclear weapon. Global action on climate change had not matched the magnitude of the threat. President Obama knew we had to laser-focus on these immediate challenges. But, he always kept the long-game in mind, too. In a rapidly-changing world, we needed to position the United States to advance our core interests over the long-term. That meant investing in the foundations of American strength and influence—especially our economic strength. It meant countering threats around the globe, while ensuring that the gains outweighed the costs. It meant not overextending ourselves in places less central to our long-term interests, while rebalancing towards regions that are. And, it meant expanding our definition of national security to include increasingly complex transnational threats. As President Obama always asks, “Are we looking around the corner?” By looking around the corner, with the work of this Administration and our partners, today the United States is positioned more strategically to meet the challenges ahead. That began with getting our own economic house in order, because American economic security upholds American strength. And, while too many Americans are still struggling, our economy is far stronger. In 2009, unemployment was approaching 10 percent. It’s now at 4.7 percent. Twenty million more Americans have health insurance. We’ve seen the longest streak of job growth on record—75 straight months of gains. The poverty rate has fallen at the fastest rate in almost 50 years while median household income grew at the fastest rate on record. Meanwhile, we wound down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is not because President Obama has been shy about using force to protect American lives and American interests. Rather, it was a recognition that those resources could best be used to prepare our military to face new challenges—to reinvest in military readiness, to build 21st-century capabilities for 21st-century threats—and to ensure that our military remains the finest fighting force on the face of the Earth. We averted the prospect of a dangerous and costly new war by imposing crippling sanctions on Iran, which we leveraged to reach a deal cutting off every path to an Iranian nuclear weapon. Already, Iran has dismantled two-thirds of its installed centrifuges. They’ve shipped out 98 percent of their enriched uranium stockpile and filled the Arak reactor core with concrete. Even if Iran walks away from this deal, their breakout time has gone from two or three months to about a year—and if they cheat, we’ll know. I know there’s a lot of debate about this deal, but it’s hard to imagine that that no deal—or war—would be preferable. We also negotiated the New START treaty to cap American and Russian nuclear weapons, and, through a series of Nuclear Security Summits, the President rallied world leaders to help secure loose nuclear material and keep it from falling into terrorists’ hands. At the same time, we put in place a sustainable counter-terrorism strategy. Instead of risking blood and treasure by deploying large numbers of American ground forces, we centered our approach around a range of partnerships—from training and supporting local forces to working with international partners to help choke off foreign fighter flows and finances. By adhering to clear guidelines and strict oversight in our direct action, we further grew global support for our counter-terrorism mission. Other strategies might produce faster results, but victories would be short-lived—and we will be in this fight for the long-haul. It’s a fight we must wage and win. Osama bin Laden is dead, and core al Qaeda is a shadow of its former self. We’ve forged a 68-member coalition that has removed key ISIL leaders, killed thousands of fighters, and rolled back almost half its territory in Iraq and Syria. And, while we’ve suffered horrific attacks—from Boston to San Bernardino to Orlando—we’ve built unparalleled counter-terrorism capabilities to protect our homeland from foreign attackers and homegrown violent extremists. As we faced these near-term terrorist threats, we also strategically rebalanced so that the United States is playing a larger and long-term role in the Asia-Pacific—a region that accounts for 40 percent of global economic growth, four of our top ten trading partners, and five of our treaty allies. By the end of this decade, a majority of our Navy and Air Force fleets will be based out of the Pacific. While managing our complex but increasingly durable relationship with China, we’ve strengthened cooperation with treaty allies like Japan, South Korea, and Australia; forged deeper partnerships with emerging powers like India and Indonesia; and intensified our support for regional institutions. I saw the potential in these new relationships during President Obama’s historic trips to Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam. As a key part of this rebalance, President Obama fought to set rules of the road for trade that ensure fair competition, protect the environment, and raise labor standards through the Trans-Pacific Partnership. If we don’t define these rules of the road, others will. China is already pursuing its own regional trade agreement, with lower standards and fewer protections. Failure to move forward on TPP is eroding American regional leadership and credibility, with China standing to gain strategically and economically. Even as we emphasized the importance of the Asia-Pacific, we seized opportunities in other emerging centers of growth. For the first time in half a century, Americans are flying direct from Miami to Havana, creating new opportunities for Cubans and Americans—and bringing back all the rum and cigars they can. Shedding that historical baggage removed an irritant that impeded cooperation and progress in the region. Thanks in part to our opening to Cuba, U.S. relations with Latin America have never been better—and with this year’s peace agreement in Colombia, the longest-running war in the hemisphere came to an end. Likewise, we devoted new attention and resources to Africa—expanding access to electricity, bringing business leaders together to grow opportunity, and supporting Africa’s next generation. While reaching out to new partners, we strengthened traditional alliances and relationships. We deepened transatlantic ties, working with NATO and European partners to bolster deterrence in Europe, fight terror and counter ISIL, and impose economic costs on Russia for its aggression in Ukraine. We concluded a $38 billion military assistance package with Israel—the single-largest in American history—and updated our military assistance relationship with Egypt. And, we led at the United Nations—getting the toughest-ever sanctions on North Korea, and mobilizing resources and action to address the refugee crisis and make UN peacekeeping more effective. Recognizing that borderless challenges will only increase—from cyber attacks to the dangers arising from fragile states to climate change—we have broadened our conception of national security. We have strengthened cybersecurity and cyber norms. In the face of the biggest refugee and migrant crisis since World War II, we provided more humanitarian aid than any country in the world, and, after rigorous vetting, welcomed tens of thousands to America—not simply as charity or an expression of our values, but as an investment in security and stability. We partnered to beat back Ebola in West Africa and invest in global health security. We elevated development as a key pillar of our foreign policy. As a result, over 18 million children are getting better nutrition, and nearly four times more people are receiving lifesaving HIV/AIDS treatment. We’ve worked to shore up fragile states and prevent atrocities, cut corruption and red tape, encouraged entrepreneurship, and cultivated hundreds of thousands of young leaders on four continents. I’m especially proud that we put the ultimate borderless threat—the threat of climate change— front and center, rallying the world to achieve the Paris agreement, which has the potential to put the planet on a path to a sustainable future. We’ve begun to integrate climate impacts into our national security planning. Thanks in part to our Clean Power Plan, new energy efficiency standards, and unprecedented investments in clean energy, carbon emissions are down 9 percent since President Obama took office, while the U.S. economy has grown over 10 percent. As important as our strategic rebalance, we’ve positioned ourselves for the future by strengthening American moral authority. That started at home, when we affirmed the ban on torture and reformed our intelligence gathering. It continued as we stood strongly for the rights and dignity of all people around the world. For citizens in Myanmar to elect their leaders. For dissidents in China, journalists in Ethiopia, and ladies in white in Cuba to speak or organize free from repression. For women and girls around the world to enjoy the freedoms and opportunities that are their birthright. For the rights of people everywhere to love whoever they love. As a result of these strategic foreign policy decisions, I believe the United States is better positioned to confront the challenges that face the new Administration. Those challenges are formidable. The global security landscape is as unsettled as any in recent memory. I could discuss this at length, but since time is short, I’ll mention just three challenges. First, Americans face a more diverse array of threats, from a more diverse range of sources, than ever. This includes everything from state actors such as Russia and North Korea to terrorists like ISIL, often enabled by new technologies. And, it includes transnational threats that can reach our shores—climate change, epidemics like Ebola, or the illicit flow of drugs and weapons. Second, as a global leader and stakeholder, the United States faces the challenge of upholding an international order strained by rising tensions among major global and regional powers and deep governance challenges within them. Russia continues to threaten the global order—in Ukraine, in Syria, and through its efforts to interfere in democratic elections. China’s assertiveness, most notably in the South China Sea, has tested whether the U.S.-China relationship will be defined by our differences or by what we can achieve cooperatively. Europe—buffeted by Brexit, economic uncertainty, a refugee and migrant crisis, and Russian aggression—needs American support now more than ever. Against this backdrop, as we’ve seen in the horrific tragedy in Syria, the Arab world will likely continue to struggle for stability—perhaps for a generation or more. In the face of these challenges, it might be tempting to turn inward. Therein lies the United States’ third strategic challenge. We must protect ourselves and the international order we helped build, without subordinating our values or abandoning the alliances, partnerships, and cooperation that have yielded unprecedented global prosperity and progress. Given these complex and often competing issues, you’ll understand why Henry Kissinger once commented, “There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.” The demands of serving as National Security Advisor are constant. Colin Powell described the job as being “judge, traffic cop, truant officer, arbitrator, fireman, chaplain, psychiatrist, and occasional hit man.” I like to think of it as being the quarterback without the glory or high pay. No doubt General Flynn will find his own analogy. But, the bottom line is: in an uncertain world, he and his team will be shouldering extraordinary responsibilities for keeping American safe, and strengthening a global order that has prevented a war among major powers for the past 75 years. That’s why, at President Obama’s direction, our entire national security team has been working for months to facilitate a smooth transition. This goes beyond party or politics; this is what the American people expect and deserve. As I noted, Steve and his team set a very high bar, which we’ve been committed to meeting—and exceeding where possible. The NSC has produced over 100 memos, covering everything from the interagency policy process to our plans and protocols to address the many nightmare scenarios that could arise. We’ve made our entire staff available to meet with and brief the incoming team. This handoff continues as I speak. As part of the transition, I’ve had constructive meetings with General Flynn, and my team has met extensively with his. The discussions we’ve had and the suggestions I’ve made will stay between us, not least because much of it is highly classified. I will say that I’m very proud of the professional manner in which we have conducted this transition. This was a tough and hard-fought election. But, our national security is—and must always remain—above the fray. I’m also extraordinarily proud of the NSC staff we’ve built, and that General Flynn will inherit. When I returned to the NSC in 2013, I was struck by how much it had expanded since the 1990s. And, while I continue to believe that presidents should retain the flexibility to staff the NSC as they wish, we’ve worked hard to right-size and reform the NSC. We’ve reduced the staff by over 15 percent. Today’s NSC operates with a policy staff smaller than the staffs of USIP and many other think tanks. As we’ve streamlined, we remain convinced that one of the NSC’s greatest strengths is the career national security professionals who comprise nearly 90 percent of the staff. They’re the brightest and hardest-working staff in government. I’m extremely grateful for their service and sacrifice. But, ultimately, the issue is not mainly about the size of the NSC—it’s about the role of the NSC. Every president will decide that for themselves. I’ll simply say, as others have, that departments and agencies are the ones that need to lead in formulating and implementing policy. But, the NSC staff is uniquely placed to ensure that the president receives a truly integrated perspective that takes into account the president’s agenda, and the risks, costs, and trade-offs of any decision. So, General Flynn inherits a vital job at a challenging time. And, while it’s no secret that this Administration has profound disagreements with the next one, I intend to make myself available to him, just as my predecessors have for me. We are all patriots first and foremost. Threats to our security and democracy should be above partisanship. As President George H.W. Bush wrote to President Clinton after their own electoral battle, “Your success is now our country’s success. I am rooting hard for you.” General Flynn, I am rooting hard for you. In a few hours, I’ll accompany President Obama to Chicago for his farewell address. It has me counting my blessings. My grandfather was a janitor who emigrated from Jamaica with my grandmother who was a maid and a seamstress. Standing here, the National Security Advisor to the President of the United States, I’m filled with gratitude for this country and the opportunities it has provided me and so many others. When I think about the difference I have been privileged to see the United States make in the lives of Americans and people around the world, I’m deeply honored and humbled to have joined in this journey. I’ll continue to do my part, as best I can. And, in the years ahead, I’m confident that patriotic Americans of talent and goodwill will ensure that this great country stays strong, secure, and prosperous, a beacon of hope for all the world. Thank you very much.
Cross-posted with TomDispatch.com The fall of the Berlin Wall in October 1989 abruptly ended one historical era and inaugurated another. So, too, did the outcome of last year’s U.S. presidential election. What are we to make of the interval between those two watershed moments? Answering that question is essential to understanding how Donald Trump became president and where his ascendency leaves us. Hardly had this period commenced before observers fell into the habit of referring to it as the “post-Cold War” era. Now that it’s over, a more descriptive name might be in order. My suggestion: America’s Age of Great Expectations. Forgive and Forget The end of the Cold War caught the United States completely by surprise. During the 1980s, even with Mikhail Gorbachev running the Kremlin, few in Washington questioned the prevailing conviction that the Soviet-American rivalry was and would remain a defining feature of international politics more or less in perpetuity. Indeed, endorsing such an assumption was among the prerequisites for gaining entrée to official circles. Virtually no one in the American establishment gave serious thought to the here-today, gone-tomorrow possibility that the Soviet threat, the Soviet empire, and the Soviet Union itself might someday vanish. Washington had plans aplenty for what to do should a Third World War erupt, but none for what to do if the prospect of such a climactic conflict simply disappeared. Still, without missing a beat, when the Berlin Wall fell and two years later the Soviet Union imploded, leading members of that establishment wasted no time in explaining the implications of developments they had totally failed to anticipate. With something close to unanimity, politicians and policy-oriented intellectuals interpreted the unification of Berlin and the ensuing collapse of communism as an all-American victory of cosmic proportions. “We” had won, “they” had lost ― with that outcome vindicating everything the United States represented as the archetype of freedom. From within the confines of that establishment, one rising young intellectual audaciously suggested that the “end of history” itself might be at hand, with the “sole superpower” left standing now perfectly positioned to determine the future of all humankind. In Washington, various powers-that-be considered this hypothesis and concluded that it sounded just about right. The future took on the appearance of a blank slate upon which Destiny itself was inviting Americans to inscribe their intentions. American elites might, of course, have assigned a far different, less celebratory meaning to the passing of the Cold War. They might have seen the outcome as a moment that called for regret, repentance, and making amends. After all, the competition between the United States and the Soviet Union, or more broadly between what was then called the Free World and the Communist bloc, had yielded a host of baleful effects. An arms race between two superpowers had created monstrous nuclear arsenals and, on multiple occasions, brought the planet precariously close to Armageddon. Two singularly inglorious wars had claimed the lives of many tens of thousands of American soldiers and literally millions of Asians. One, on the Korean peninsula, had ended in an unsatisfactory draw; the other, in Southeast Asia, in catastrophic defeat. Proxy fights in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East killed so many more and laid waste to whole countries. Cold War obsessions led Washington to overthrow democratic governments, connive in assassination, make common cause with corrupt dictators, and turn a blind eye to genocidal violence. On the home front, hysteria compromised civil liberties and fostered a sprawling, intrusive, and unaccountable national security apparatus. Meanwhile, the military-industrial complex and its beneficiaries conspired to spend vast sums on weapons purchases that somehow never seemed adequate to the putative dangers at hand. Rather than reflecting on such somber and sordid matters, however, the American political establishment together with ambitious members of the country’s intelligentsia found it so much more expedient simply to move on. As they saw it, the annus mirabilis of 1989 wiped away the sins of former years. Eager to make a fresh start, Washington granted itself a plenary indulgence. After all, why contemplate past unpleasantness when a future so stunningly rich in promise now beckoned? Three Big Ideas and a Dubious Corollary Soon enough, that promise found concrete expression. In remarkably short order, three themes emerged to define the new American age. Informing each of them was a sense of exuberant anticipation toward an era of almost unimaginable expectations. The twentieth century was ending on a high note. For the planet as a whole but especially for the United States, great things lay ahead. Focused on the world economy, the first of those themes emphasized the transformative potential of turbocharged globalization led by U.S.-based financial institutions and transnational corporations. An “open world” would facilitate the movement of goods, capital, ideas, and people and thereby create wealth on an unprecedented scale. In the process, the rules governing American-style corporate capitalism would come to prevail everywhere on the planet. Everyone would benefit, but especially Americans who would continue to enjoy more than their fair share of material abundance. Focused on statecraft, the second theme spelled out the implications of an international order dominated as never before ― not even in the heydays of the Roman and British Empires ― by a single nation. With the passing of the Cold War, the United States now stood apart as both supreme power and irreplaceable global leader, its status guaranteed by its unstoppable military might. In the editorial offices of the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the New Republic, and the Weekly Standard, such “truths” achieved a self-evident status. Although more muted in their public pronouncements than Washington’s reigning pundits, officials enjoying access to the Oval Office, the State Department’s 7th floor, and the E-ring of the Pentagon generally agreed. The assertive exercise of (benign!) global hegemony seemingly held the key to ensuring that Americans would enjoy safety and security, both at home and abroad, now and in perpetuity. The third theme was all about rethinking the concept of personal freedom as commonly understood and pursued by most Americans. During the protracted emergency of the Cold War, reaching an accommodation between freedom and the putative imperatives of national security had not come easily. Cold War-style patriotism seemingly prioritized the interests of the state at the expense of the individual. Yet even as thrillingly expressed by John F. Kennedy ― “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” ― this was never an easy sell, especially if it meant wading through rice paddies and getting shot at. Once the Cold War ended, however, the tension between individual freedom and national security momentarily dissipated. Reigning conceptions of what freedom could or should entail underwent a radical transformation. Emphasizing the removal of restraints and inhibitions, the shift made itself felt everywhere, from patterns of consumption and modes of cultural expression to sexuality and the definition of the family. Norms that had prevailed for decades if not generations ― marriage as a union between a man and a woman, gender identity as fixed at birth ― became passé. The concept of a transcendent common good, which during the Cold War had taken a backseat to national security, now took a backseat to maximizing individual choice and autonomy. Finally, as a complement to these themes, in the realm of governance, the end of the Cold War cemented the status of the president as quasi-deity. In the Age of Great Expectations, the myth of the president as a deliverer from (or, in the eyes of critics, the ultimate perpetrator of) evil flourished. In the solar system of American politics, the man in the White House increasingly became the sun around which everything seemed to orbit. By comparison, nothing else much mattered. From one administration to the next, of course, presidential efforts to deliver Americans to the Promised Land regularly came up short. Even so, the political establishment and the establishment media collaborated in sustaining the pretense that out of the next endlessly hyped “race for the White House,” another Roosevelt or Kennedy or Reagan would magically emerge to save the nation. From one election cycle to the next, these campaigns became longer and more expensive, drearier and yet ever more circus-like. No matter. During the Age of Great Expectations, the reflexive tendency to see the president as the ultimate guarantor of American abundance, security, and freedom remained sacrosanct. Blindsided Meanwhile, between promise and reality, a yawning gap began to appear. During the concluding decade of the twentieth century and the first decade-and-a-half of the twenty-first, Americans endured a seemingly endless series of crises. Individually, none of these merit comparison with, say, the Civil War or World War II. Yet never in U.S. history has a sequence of events occurring in such close proximity subjected American institutions and the American people to greater stress. During the decade between 1998 and 2008, they came on with startling regularity: one president impeached and his successor chosen by the direct intervention of the Supreme Court; a massive terrorist attack on American soil that killed thousands, traumatized the nation, and left senior officials bereft of their senses; a mindless, needless, and unsuccessful war of choice launched on the basis of false claims and outright lies; a natural disaster (exacerbated by engineering folly) that all but destroyed a major American city, after which government agencies mounted a belated and half-hearted response; and finally, the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, bringing ruin to millions of families. For the sake of completeness, we should append to this roster of seismic occurrences one additional event: Barack Obama’s election as the nation’s first black president. He arrived at the zenith of American political life as a seemingly messianic figure called upon not only to undo the damage wrought by his predecessor, George W. Bush, but somehow to absolve the nation of its original sins of slavery and racism. Yet during the Obama presidency race relations, in fact, deteriorated. Whether prompted by cynical political calculations or a crass desire to boost ratings, race baiters came out of the woodwork ― one of them, of course, infamously birthered in Trump Tower in mid-Manhattan ― and poured their poisons into the body politic. Even so, as the end of Obama’s term approached, the cult of the presidency itself remained remarkably intact. Individually, the impact of these various crises ranged from disconcerting to debilitating to horrifying. Yet to treat them separately is to overlook their collective implications, which the election of Donald Trump only now enables us to appreciate. It was not one president’s dalliance with an intern or “hanging chads” or 9/11 or “Mission Accomplished” or the inundation of the Lower Ninth Ward or the collapse of Lehman Brothers or the absurd birther movement that undermined the Age of Great Expectations. It was the way all these events together exposed those expectations as radically suspect. In effect, the various crises that punctuated the post-Cold War era called into question key themes to which a fevered American triumphalism had given rise. Globalization, militarized hegemony, and a more expansive definition of freedom, guided by enlightened presidents in tune with the times, should have provided Americans with all the blessings that were rightly theirs as a consequence of having prevailed in the Cold War. Instead, between 1989 and 2016, things kept happening that weren’t supposed to happen. A future marketed as all but foreordained proved elusive, if not illusory. As actually experienced, the Age of Great Expectations became an Age of Unwelcome Surprises. A Candidate for Decline True, globalization created wealth on a vast scale, just not for ordinary Americans. The already well-to-do did splendidly, in some cases unbelievably so. But middle-class incomes stagnated and good jobs became increasingly hard to find or keep. By the election of 2016, the United States looked increasingly like a society divided between haves and have-nots, the affluent and the left-behind, the 1 percent and everyone else. Prospective voters were noticing. Meanwhile, policies inspired by Washington’s soaring hegemonic ambitions produced remarkably few happy outcomes. With U.S. forces continuously engaged in combat operations, peace all but vanished as a policy objective (or even a word in Washington’s political lexicon). The acknowledged standing of the country’s military as the world’s best-trained, best-equipped, and best-led force coexisted uneasily with the fact that it proved unable to win. Instead, the national security establishment became conditioned to the idea of permanent war, high-ranking officials taking it for granted that ordinary citizens would simply accommodate themselves to this new reality. Yet it soon became apparent that, instead of giving ordinary Americans a sense of security, this new paradigm induced an acute sense of vulnerability, which left many susceptible to demagogic fear mongering. As for the revised definition of freedom, with autonomy emerging as the national summum bonum, it left some satisfied but others adrift. During the Age of Great Expectations, distinctions between citizen and consumer blurred. Shopping became tantamount to a civic obligation, essential to keeping the economy afloat. Yet if all the hoopla surrounding Black Friday and Cyber Monday represented a celebration of American freedom, its satisfactions were transitory at best, rarely extending beyond the due date printed on a credit card statement. Meanwhile, as digital connections displaced personal ones, relationships, like jobs, became more contingent and temporary. Loneliness emerged as an abiding affliction. Meanwhile, for all the talk of empowering the marginalized ― people of color, women, gays ― elites reaped the lion’s share of the benefits while ordinary people were left to make do. The atmosphere was rife with hypocrisy and even a whiff of nihilism. To these various contradictions, the establishment itself remained stubbornly oblivious, with the 2016 presidential candidacy of Hillary Clinton offering a case in point. As her long record in public life made abundantly clear, Clinton embodied the establishment in the Age of Great Expectations. She believed in globalization, in the indispensability of American leadership backed by military power, and in the post-Cold War cultural project. And she certainly believed in the presidency as the mechanism to translate aspirations into outcomes. Such commonplace convictions of the era, along with her vanguard role in pressing for the empowerment of women, imparted to her run an air of inevitability. That she deserved to win appeared self-evident. It was, after all, her turn. Largely overlooked were signs that the abiding themes of the Age of Great Expectations no longer commanded automatic allegiance. Gasping for Air Senator Bernie Sanders offered one of those signs. That a past-his-prime, self-professed socialist from Vermont with a negligible record of legislative achievement and tenuous links to the Democratic Party might mount a serious challenge to Clinton seemed, on the face of it, absurd. Yet by zeroing in on unfairness and inequality as inevitable byproducts of globalization, Sanders struck a chord. Knocked briefly off balance, Clinton responded by modifying certain of her longstanding positions. By backing away from free trade, the ne plus ultra of globalization, she managed, though not without difficulty, to defeat the Sanders insurgency. Even so, he, in effect, served as the canary in the establishment coal mine, signaling that the Age of Great Expectations might be running out of oxygen. A parallel and far stranger insurgency was simultaneously wreaking havoc in the Republican Party. That a narcissistic political neophyte stood the slightest chance of capturing the GOP seemed even more improbable than Sanders taking a nomination that appeared Clinton’s by right. Coarse, vulgar, unprincipled, uninformed, erratic, and with little regard for truth, Trump was sui generis among presidential candidates. Yet he possessed a singular gift: a knack for riling up those who nurse gripes and are keen to pin the blame on someone or something. In post-Cold War America, among the millions that Hillary Clinton was famously dismissing as “deplorables,” gripes had been ripening like cheese in a hothouse. Through whatever combination of intuition and malice aforethought, Trump demonstrated a genius for motivating those deplorables. He pushed their buttons. They responded by turning out in droves to attend his rallies. There they listened to a message that they found compelling. In Trump’s pledge to “make America great again” his followers heard a promise to restore everything they believed had been taken from them in the Age of Great Expectations. Globalization was neither beneficial nor inevitable, the candidate insisted, and vowed, once elected, to curb its effects along with the excesses of corporate capitalism, thereby bringing back millions of lost jobs from overseas. He would, he swore, fund a massive infrastructure program, cut taxes, keep a lid on the national debt, and generally champion the cause of working stiffs. The many complications and contradictions inherent in these various prescriptions would, he assured his fans, give way to his business savvy. In considering America’s role in the post-Cold War world, Trump exhibited a similar impatience with the status quo. Rather than allowing armed conflicts to drag on forever, he promised to win them (putting to work his mastery of military affairs) or, if not, to quit and get out, pausing just long enough to claim as a sort of consolation prize whatever spoils might be lying loose on the battlefield. At the very least, he would prevent so-called allies from treating the United States like some patsy. Henceforth, nations benefitting from American protection were going to foot their share of the bill. What all of this added up to may not have been clear, but it did suggest a sharp departure from the usual post-1989 formula for exercising global leadership. No less important than Trump’s semi-coherent critique of globalization and American globalism, however, was his success in channeling the discontent of all those who nursed an inchoate sense that post-Cold War freedoms might be working for some, but not for them. Not that Trump had anything to say about whether freedom confers obligations, or whether conspicuous consumption might not actually hold the key to human happiness, or any of the various controversies related to gender, sexuality, and family. He was indifferent to all such matters. He was, however, distinctly able to offer his followers a grimly persuasive explanation for how America had gone off course and how the blessings of liberties to which they were entitled had been stolen. He did that by fingering as scapegoats Muslims, Mexicans, and others “not-like-me.” Trump’s political strategy reduced to this: as president, he would overturn the conventions that had governed right thinking since the end of the Cold War. To the amazement of an establishment grown smug and lazy, his approach worked. Even while disregarding all received wisdom when it came to organizing and conducting a presidential campaign in the Age of Great Expectations, Trump won. He did so by enchanting the disenchanted, all those who had lost faith in the promises that had sprung from the bosom of the elites that the end of the Cold War had taken by surprise. Adrift Without a Compass Within hours of Trump’s election, among progressives, expressing fear and trepidation at the prospect of what he might actually do on assuming office became de rigueur. Yet those who had actually voted for Trump were also left wondering what to expect. Both camps assign him the status of a transformative historical figure. However, premonitions of incipient fascism and hopes that he will engineer a new American Golden Age are likely to prove similarly misplaced. To focus on the man himself rather than on the circumstances that produced him is to miss the significance of what has occurred. Note, for example, that his mandate is almost entirely negative. It centers on rejection: of globalization, of counterproductive military meddling, and of the post-Cold War cultural project. Yet neither Trump nor any of his surrogates has offered a coherent alternative to the triad of themes providing the through line for the last quarter-century of American history. Apart a lingering conviction that forceful ― in The Donald’s case, blustering ― presidential leadership can somehow turn things around, “Trumpism” is a dog’s breakfast. In all likelihood, his presidency will prove less transformative than transitional. As a result, concerns about what he may do, however worrisome, matter less than the larger question of where we go from here. The principles that enjoyed favor following the Cold War have been found wanting. What should replace them? Efforts to identify those principles should begin with an honest accounting of the age we are now leaving behind, the history that happened after “the end of history.” That accounting should, in turn, allow room for regret, repentance, and making amends ― the very critical appraisal that ought to have occurred at the end of the Cold War but was preempted when American elites succumbed to their bout of victory disease. Don’t expect Donald Trump to undertake any such appraisal. Nor will the establishment that candidate Trump so roundly denounced, but which President-elect Trump, at least in his senior national security appointments, now shows sign of accommodating. Those expecting Trump’s election to inject courage into members of the political class or imagination into inside-the-Beltway “thought leaders” are in for a disappointment. So the principles we need ― an approach to political economy providing sustainable and equitable prosperity; a foreign policy that discards militarism in favor of prudence and pragmatism; and an enriched, inclusive concept of freedom ― will have to come from somewhere else. “Where there is no vision,” the Book of Proverbs tells us, “the people perish.” In the present day, there is no vision to which Americans collectively adhere. For proof, we need look no further than the election of Donald Trump. The Age of Great Expectations has ended, leaving behind an ominous void. Yet Trump’s own inability to explain what should fill that great void provides neither excuse for inaction nor cause for despair. Instead, Trump himself makes manifest the need to reflect on the nation’s recent past and to think deeply about its future. A decade before the Cold War ended, writing in democracy, a short-lived journal devoted to “political renewal and radical change,” the historian and social critic Christopher Lasch sketched out a set of principles that might lead us out of our current crisis. Lasch called for a politics based on “the nurture of the soil against the exploitation of resources, the family against the factory, the romantic vision of the individual against the technological vision, [and] localism over democratic centralism.” Nearly a half-century later, as a place to begin, his prescription remains apt. Andrew J. Bacevich, a TomDispatch regular, is professor emeritus of history and international relations at Boston University. His most recent book is America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History. Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, John Feffer’s dystopian novel Splinterlands, as well as Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt’s latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World. -- 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.
Departing Guardian US production editor Maraithe Thomas considers the pros and cons of adapting to British EnglishLast month, I closed the book on five years at the helm of Guardian US’s production department. It’s not a terribly long time, and only a fraction of the time spent at the Guardian by David Marsh, who in August signed off after two decades as the style guide editor, but in that time I saw a lot of action: Occupy Wall Street, the NSA series on Edward Snowden, The Counted and two presidential elections. I was among the first Americans to join, as a copy editor, in 2011, and I was initially uneasy about how naked Guardian articles seemed, having been brought up on Associated Press style. The Guardian only uses periods (or “full stops”, as I soon learned to call them) at the end of sentences, and it seems as though everything is lower case. But I quickly came to adore this minimalist, progressive approach. (The Guardian was one of the first news organizations, in 1999, to lowercase “internet”. The AP and the New York Times finally adopted the rule in 2016.) Continue reading...
The first American to summit Mt. Everest, the world’s tallest mountain, was Jim Whittaker, but it was in 1963, 10 years after Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay conquered the peak.Back then, climbing wasn’t as popular in the U.S. as it was in Europe and Asia, so American funding was [...]
A conservative advocacy group is launching a new ad campaign bolstering Jeff Sessions’ bid to become attorney general, strategically airing the commercial in a trio of conservative-leaning states whose Democratic senators will be under pressure to confirm the Alabama senator in the coming weeks. The Judicial Crisis Network is starting the first round of the pro-Sessions campaign on Friday. The initial 30-second ad promotes stories from Alabama residents who shower Sessions with effusive praise for his tenure as U.S. senator. “Senator Sessions saw that there was a real need for the families that were losing their loved ones,” recalled Alabama resident Johnny Spann, whose son, Mike, was the first American killed in combat in the war in Afghanistan in 2001. “For him to be in large of the highest law enforcement agency, he’s the kind of person that needs to be there.”In Mike Spann’s honor, Sessions pushed legislation in 2002 meant to make it easier for private funds to be donated to widows and orphans of military and national security personnel killed during the U.S. war on terrorism. The digital and cable ad campaign, totaling more than half a million dollars, will run in Missouri, Indiana and North Dakota. Democrats in those states — Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota — are the top targets for Sessions’ backers who are trying to claim more bipartisan support for the attorney general nominee. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, another red-state Democrat up for reelection in 2018, has already said he would vote to confirm Sessions.The ads will also run in the Washington, D.C. area. “Senator Sessions is a good man whose service to his state makes it clear that he will turn DOJ around and make it an agency that every American can be proud of,” said Carrie Severino, JCN’s chief counsel. “He will abide by the Constitution, he will put public safety ahead of political agendas, and he will prosecute corrupt public officials regardless of political party.”
American online services companies have failed repeatedly in Chinese markets. Luckily, there are better ways to invest in China’s growing internet presence.
On Jan 3, 2017, we issued an updated research report on MetLife Inc (MET).
On Jan 2, 2016, we issued an updated research report on The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. (HIG).
From chroniclers of war to a revered spy to a conscientious objector, a look back
The manager’s position had become untenable but the chairman, Huw Jenkins, has presided over a number of poor decisions, both managerially and in the transfer market, as Swansea have lurched from one crisis to anotherIt was just gone 7pm on Boxing Day and a small group of reporters were walking away from the Liberty Stadium when a Swansea City supporter approached. “Has he gone yet, boys?” asked the fan, smiling in a way that made it clear it would be viewed as good news if there was confirmation that Bob Bradley was clearing his desk.That moment arrived 24 hours later, when Swansea announced that the first American to manage in the Premier League had been sacked after less than three months in charge. Bradley won only two out of 11 games, picked up just eight points, conceded 29 goals, shipped three or more on eight occasions, made a total of 33 team changes after starting his reign with a 3-2 defeat at Arsenal and fielded six different back-four combinations. Continue reading...
Captain Kate McCue has made headlines as the first American female to captain a megaship for a cruise line. Hear her leadership advice - it works at sea and on land.
Berkshire Hathaway Inc.'s (BRK.B) units investment grade ratings were recently affirmed by A.M. Best.
MarketAxess Holdings Inc. (MKTX) recently announced the total trading volume in Open trading, the all-to-all trading solution for global credit markets.
Now that the U.S. Census has released its newest estimate of median household income in the United States, it's time to consider where the U.S. federal government spending per U.S. household stands with respect to the Zero Deficit Line, which is the amount of spending that the typical American household can actually afford. The chart below shows those two measures for each year since 1967, when the Census first began reporting its median household income figure: Looking at the chart, we see that for the third year in a row, the amount of U.S. federal government spending per household is hovering just below $30,000 per U.S. household. Our tool below will reveal how much spending can actually be supported by the typical American household given its annual income of $50,054 (or whatever median household income level you might choose to enter!) Median Household Income Data Input Data Values Median Household Income How Much Federal Spending Per Household Can the U.S. Really Afford? Estimated Results Values Federal Spending per U.S. Household Using our tool, we find that in reality, the typical American household can only afford to have the federal government spend no more than $21,059. On a side note, do you remember the old Warner Brothers' Road Runner cartoons? The ones where Wile E. Coyote would be chasing after the bird, then suddenly find himself suspended in mid-air beyond the edge of a cliff, until he looked down and finally crashed back to earth? The level of federal spending per household since 2008 and the lack of meaningful growth in the incomes of U.S. households under President Obama, combined with all the talk these days of the approaching "fiscal cliff" suggests that there is one giant "splat" sound in the near future for the U.S.