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25 октября, 23:01

A Grandmother On The Making -- And Almost Breaking -- Of An Election Junkie

"Healthy democracies depend on unwritten rules. The Republican nominee has trampled all over them." -- The Economist, October 15, 2016 Like most of us, I woke up last Thursday relieved that the debates are over and the end of the most corrosive presidential campaign I have ever witnessed is a growing light at the end of a dismal tunnel. But I remain dismayed and troubled: On top of the lack of civility by partisans on all sides and the Republican nominee's appalling civic ignorance exacerbated by the hate-filled, misogynistic, xenophobic, fear-inducing name-calling that marks his campaign, his recurring mantra that the election is "totally rigged" attacks the profound lessons about our democracy I've learned over what will be nineteen presidential cycles this November 8. Nov. 7, 1944. "Quietly." Miss Challis's fifth graders at Phelps School in Springfield, Missouri, filed into the school lobby and sat cross-legged on the floor. The polling booths were lined up across from us. Voters arrived -- our parents and neighbors, dressed for the occasion -- chatted quietly, were given ballots and disappeared behind the curtains to mark them. Our class stayed a while, left as quietly as we came, and another class took our place. That morning -- as a ten-year-old witnessing the communal act by which Franklin Delano Roosevelt was re-elected to his fourth and final term -- I was introduced to the majesty and responsibility of We the People choosing our head of state and commander-in-chief and to our trust in the electoral process and the peaceful transfer of power that follows. And I took my first steps down the road of becoming an election junkie. Nov. 2, 1948. In Westchester County, New York, after a Fall of Harry Truman's flat Missouri twang excoriating the "Do Nothing Congress" and Aunt Gertrude's rooting for Tom Dewey because he looked like the groom on the wedding cake, our family huddled around our radio (no TV then) until the wee hours following election results. We staggered to bed anticipating, as everyone had predicted, President Dewey only to wake up, surprise, to President Truman. We ex-Missourians were elated; our Westchester County neighbors were deflated. And I continued to absorb the central but unwritten rules about the essence of American democracy: We take sides, argue, disagree, even throw mud, but then we vote and -- expect the outcome or not, like the outcome or not -- the loser concedes and we accept the will of the majority. Nov. 8, 1960. Finally, at twenty-six, after moving from the then-disenfranchised District of Columbia to Virginia and being required to pay a poll tax to register there (a registration that's still valid; the poll tax was repealed in 1964), I cast a presidential ballot. Absentee. We were on our first US Foreign Service assignment, half a world away in then-Malaya. We missed seeing the first-ever TV presidential debate between five-o'clock-shadow Nixon and fresh-faced Kennedy. And hearing Nixon's gracious concession: Even though there had been possible voting irregularities that could have changed the outcome, he chose not to challenge the results rather than putting the country through the trauma of a contested election. Whether our ballots were received in time to be counted we never knew. But we voted. And I have not missed an election -- local, state or national -- since. Three years later, we moved back to the States shortly before JFK's assassination: Our older children's introduction to a change of presidents, simultaneously traumatic in the cause yet orderly and reassuring in the way power and responsibility were immediately transferred. Nov. 3, 1964. A three-year old pulls petals off a daisy. A man's ominous voice in the background: "Ten, nine...." An atomic explosion. "Vote for President Johnson on November 3. The stakes are too high to stay home." The Daisy ad focused the Johnson-Goldwater campaign on Goldwater's cavalier attitude toward the use of nuclear weapons. Goldwater lost in a wipe-out. Yet he conceded with grace and support for "our president" while promising that the Republicans would remain a party of opposition also working to solve the problems facing the nation. Nov. 4, 1968. Our second election (of four) abroad I answered lots of questions about the confusing way American democracy works: Presidential elections are administered by the individual states, not centrally managed. We vote for members of the Electoral College who actually elect the president. And, in 1968 (a tumultuous year of assassinations, riots outside the Democratic convention, and anti-Vietnam War demonstrations) explaining in my rudimentary Indonesian the effect of a significant third party candidate, George Wallace, on Richard Nixon's defeat of Hubert Humphrey after Lyndon Johnson decided not to run for re-election. And yet, even that messy year, I remember underlining that Americans accept the result and the government continues to function. If some of us don't like the outcome, we politick for change the next time. Which is the special dignity of our democracy in action that others often envy. Many years later, in another country, I observed a real attempt at election rigging and actual voter fraud first hand. So I know what that can look like and how it's done. And that it can lead to revolution. Nov. 8, 1988. Soon after we settled back in the States permanently, I became an election official in Fairfax County, Virginia. With Bush-Dukakis my first presidential as Chief, I ran a poll almost every election for twenty-five years. My colleagues and I knew which of us were Democrats and which Republicans, but when we walked into the polling site, party affiliation dropped away. Like citizen election officials across the country we took pride in ensuring that voting at our poll was free, fair and accurate. And we worked with party-designated poll watchers so that everyone acknowledged it was properly done. I know from experience that walk-in fraud is beyond rare in America. And that, given our decentralized system, rigging a national election is impossible. If there is fraud or rigging currently, frankly, it is gerrymandering and serious attempts to limit access to the franchise carried out by, I regret to say, mainly Republican-controlled state governments to maintain their party's power. Changing that is urgent unfinished business and a challenge for us as voters and elected officials in both parties across the country. But that is not the point. Encouraging vigilante poll watchers is in effect encouraging voter intimidation. Even though it has been an awful, venomous campaign with one candidate sinking from low to lower that has left me heartsick and empty, and even though many of us find one or perhaps both the major choices we face unpalatable, for one candidate, because he faces losing, to cry "The election is rigged, the election is rigged" is beyond unacceptable. Repeating that mantra ad nauseum completely undercuts the essence of our democracy, fracturing our already fragile faith in our self-government. Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes truth. That the Republican candidate is doing this repetitively makes me truly angry. Like most of us, I have invested too much of my life, for too long, actively participating, representing, protecting and implementing, winning some, losing some, not to shout: Wrong. As a nation, we have profound, legitimate disagreements about governing, our future and solving our all too real problems. Many of us on both sides believe that the "other guys" will destroy our country as we know it. And to a degree, we are all correct. The country of my childhood, of my children's childhood, even my grandchildren's is in flux. Our "face" has changed. Too many of us across the board feel unheard and unheeded, displaced and disrespected. But despite the disagreements and distrust, I do not believe most of us want to invalidate our democratic bedrock. If we are willing to work at it, we can find common ground. Nov. 8, 2016. Two weeks to go. So now is the time for choosing. Here, my friends on the other side, we agree to disagree. You vote your choice, I vote mine. That is the American way. And I -- in my nineteenth (but I hope not last) presidential election -- choose to be a "nasty woman." Yes. She and I are both flawed; we're human. But like her or not, trust her or not, she is well-informed, hardworking and capable. She can organize, legislate and, with some cooperation, govern. And he patently is not and cannot. Now is the time to demonstrate that the state of our elective democracy remains healthy, not rigged. We can do this together by turning out across the country in enormous numbers to vote for her and her supporters down ballot (as I already have because we can walk-in early-vote in Virginia) and defeat him. Hugely. -- 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.

25 октября, 19:48

Donald Trump Campaign Aims To Replace The Media’s ‘Spin’ With Its Own

NEW YORK ― Donald Trump adviser Cliff Sims launched the inaugural episode of a nightly Facebook Live broadcast by promising to give viewers “the message straight from the campaign.” “You don’t have to take it through the media filter and all the spin that they put on it,” Sims said. Instead, the Trump campaign provided its own spin, unchallenged, during a half-hour broadcast that included the familiar trappings of a news program but without journalists who actually report the news. The nightly broadcast should appeal to Trump fans who proudly distrust the “mainstream media” while reflexively believing a historically dishonest candidate and his paid political operatives. Politicians have long used new technology to try getting around the so-called media filter and speaking directly to the American people, from Franklin Roosevelt’s radio broadcasts to the Obama White House’s reliance on social media. Trump, who is said to be considering a post-election media venture, has bragged that having his Twitter and Facebook megaphone is already better than owning The New York Times. It’s given him the ability throughout the election to attack critics and grab headlines.  Just as Trump ramps up attacks on the news media for his sinking poll numbers, adviser Boris Epshteyn described Monday’s show as a way of “bypassing the left-wing media.” The co-hosts’ first guest was Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, who two hours earlier was herself complaining about media coverage on MSNBC.  During the 4 p.m. hour, Conway told MSNBC host Steve Kornacki that he needed to be “more fair” after he accurately pointed out that Hillary Clinton is ahead in all but a few outlier polls. She claimed Trump can’t get a “fair shake” in the media, and criticized the amount of attention given to 12 women claiming Trump sexually harassed or assaulted them, an unprecedented series of allegations made against a major party nominee. Conway questioned whether “what’s passing for breaking news these days and goes on and on and on with endless coverage, particularly on the three major networks, is actually what Americans want to hear.” She said journalists, like Kornacki, were “cherry-picking what you think people want to hear based on what you want to say.” For instance, Conway argued a Wall Street Journal report that Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s political action committee gave nearly $500,000 to the 2015 state Senate campaign of Dr. Jill McCabe, wife of then-associate FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, deserved “wall-to-wall coverage.” After his wife’s election, McCabe was promoted to deputy director and helped oversee the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email account when she was secretary of state. While Trump seized on the Journal story Monday as evidence of murky Clinton connections, some media outlets looking into the claims found nothing scandalous. Kornacki, too, indicated he didn’t view the story’s findings as evidence of corruption. (Watch nine minutes in.) 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); The MSNBC host ran through the series of events and asked Conway if she believed “there was sort of foresight on the part of the Clinton campaign to enlist Terry McAuliffe to ask a political action committee to give money to a candidate whose spouse would months later be placed into a position of partial responsibility over an investigation that at the start of that campaign hadn’t even begun?” “At least I got you to spend two or two and a half minutes on it,” Conway responded. Kornacki said Conway’s framing of the story “sounds sinister,” but repeatedly challenged her as to why it supposedly is.  “You said it’s a big story,” Kornacki told her. “I’m asking you why it’s a big story, because everything I just ran through doesn’t sound like too big of a story to me. It sounds like something if you put it in a headline, it might be rough, but when you put the context out there, it’s different. So, I’m asking you, what is the scandal there?” Conway revisited other claims against “Hillary Clinton and her ilk,” and questioned why Kornacki, and other journalists, are “deciding” and “curating what you think the news is for the voters.” Of course Kornacki, and other hosts, exercise news judgment in deciding what are the most consequential stories of the day. Around 6:30 p.m., it was Trump’s advisers deciding what story should lead their first broadcast. They went with the McAuliffe story. Co-host Epshteyn described the Virginia governor as someone who “shares very much in [the Clintons’] crooked ways” before turning to Conway.  Conway said the events in Virginia were part of a “pattern” with Clinton and her husband, who she described as “grifters and gifters.” Unlike Kornacki, Epshteyn didn’t ask Conway for specifics as to why the state Senate donations were evidence of corruption. Maybe that’s because the co-host suggested himself that they were similar to “what the mob does.” Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S. -- 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.

25 октября, 05:13

Return Undesired

"RU." "Return Undesired." Piles upon piles of pebbles line the block that stretches in front of me. Each one fuses with the next, reaching onwards until stopped forcefully by towering trees that line the forest's edge. The little rocks are stripped of description, just like my grandfather and the thousands who slept upon straw mats atop those stones not so long ago. They, too, had to subsist by blending into the next, their humanity reduced to numbers as the arms that bore those digits were forced through camp after camp. Each time, they were one step closer to death. These people straddled the line between survival and an existence that barely resembled life. 23. The square slab of cement marks the row where Jakob slept for three months as the war neared its end, where he lay awake among piles of bodies crammed into bunkers and where he wolfed down whatever meager scrap he was given in order to awake again. I trace the outline of 23, my fingers brushing this tangible concrete connection to him. Tiny bumps protrude from the surface. The cement refuses to be completely smooth, each miniscule bump claiming its space in the universe, unwilling to conform. I never knew that he lived in block 23. I didn't know that his daily task was to dig tunnels or that he was herded to the Alps as winter descended upon the world and hope crept eastwards in the form of Allied trucks. Then, wind probably raged and snowflakes obscured the sky, shielding prisoners and captives alike. Today, a vast blue sky blankets my three friends, Bernd and me. Bernd: the guide who I met today but who voluntarily began mapping out my grandfather's murky past before I set foot in Dachau. Jakob scarcely spoke about his time in concentration camps during his life. Berndt has physically handed me maps and dates, routes and figures: the puzzle pieces that construct an identity my father could not fully unravel while his father lived, nor throughout the 25 years that have marked his absence. Face-to-face with row 23, I choose to believe that one's identity can evolve but cannot vanish. Violence, terror and fear can crumple someone's sense of self. But even such demons cannot completely erode it. Souls cannot disappear, but perhaps may become lost for a time until allowed to exist freely. Experiences do not erase us, but they can break and form us again. As stones crunch under my footsteps, I am overcome by the unlikelihood of Jakob's survival. Statistically, he should not have made it. So many chances of death shaped his daily life -- more chances than the few that engendered his endurance. As a result, here I am. Inside the museum, Bernd explains that each prisoner's file was meticulously documented and sorted within the room in which we stood. Every single prisoner walked upon these bricks. Unlucky files were marked with "RU." "Return Undesired." Jakob's documentation made it clear that his survival was unquestionably undesired. Even when humanity closes its eyes, identity is the interminable matter that endures, hidden in cellars and masked by skinny bones, kept alive by some burst of tenacity that allows me to walk this earth. Every number reminds me that my existence is a function of grit and luck, that I am meant to demand positive change from the world and to implement it, and that I have an obligation to make my life one lived well. "Never again" is carved everywhere on these grounds. It is scratched into rocks and etched upon plaques. Every person's return to his or her home upon this earth should be desired. ~ ~ ~ Bernd studied history long before he began offering tours at Dachau. He has visited concentration camps and Holocaust museums all over the world and served as a Lieutenant Colonel in the German military post World War II. Dachau's story remains close to him. As we continue to walk, Bernd speaks. Before Europe descended into chaos, German Jews had been granted a fleeting chance to exit Germany. Thousands flocked to Switzerland, where their safety was initially less uncertain. Switzerland soon grew overwhelmed with refugees who quickly comprised over ten percent of the population. Shortly thereafter, the neutral country closed its borders. Though cruel on the surface, Bernd defended this act as self-preservation: by accepting more refugees, Switzerland might trigger Nazi aggression and become increasingly susceptible to invasion. Images flit through my mind of Syrian refugees paddling across the seas of Europe. Of headlines splattered across newspapers announcing certain nations had secured their borders to limit the influx of people pouring in, clinging to a single tattered string of hope. Of children who fled their homes in Darfur and Rwanda. A single grating voice shouts over crowds, ringing in my head. "We're going to build a wall." "They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists." "A total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States." Bernd explained how Hitler slowly and deliberately tested the bounds of his power, stretching the will of man. One month, Jews could not use typewriters. The next month, they could not use public bathrooms. Bernd emphasized that Hitler never established death camps in Germany; these dark places were relegated to others' backyards instead. Hitler had insisted that Germany "was not ready." Bernd presented a Nazi propaganda poster picturing a well-dressed man with bulging muscles. He is pictured hoisting a bar above his head with two physically disabled men sitting on top. Nazism emphasized the conception that people with developmental or cognitive disabilities represented dead weight on the economy, failing to contribute while continuing to take the fruits of others' dogged labor. In Hitler's world, the burdens of the weak depended on the strong man's might. And this needed fixing. I wish I could say that today's world is more forgiving. Bernd tells us that hundreds of German students regularly visit Dachau. Visits to concentration camps comprise a mandatory component of the German curriculum. Germany has been forced to hold a magnifying glass to its blemishes. On the contrary, America holds a foggy mirror to our scars. When American students learn about slavery, we absorb one succinct textbook chapter summarizing hundreds of years of captivity. Our lessons are quick to contextualize and excuse our story. We grow up learning that ownership of human beings and waving a confederate flag were a part of the times -- now retrospectively condemnable. Forcing my grandfather into tunnels to dig trenches while extinguishing his mother, father and four brothers was the contextual fabric of his time. This is now retrospectively condemnable. Unlike South Africa, America has not conducted any type of Truth and Reconciliation Commission to process our atrocities. As a nation, we are not good at delivering apologies because apologies demand acknowledgement and accountability. Our society relentlessly tries not to look back -- as though Genesis 19:26 has warned that we, too, will become pillars of salt. But each racial protest and fatal shooting reminds us that we cannot flee our shadow. Selective memories make for a selective history, penned and primed by those who have a seat at the table. History teachers seldom emphasize that the US government forced Japanese-Americans into internment camps as Axis powers herded Jews into cattle cars. We are quick to forget that Franklin Delano Roosevelt turned away the MS St. Louis, which held over 900 Jewish refugees, under the justification that refugees threatened national security. He sent them back to Europe as American troops fought through Europe's ravaged battlefields. I wonder if it is easier to be blind in one's own backyard. Each day, I remember my ongoing disappointment in the world's failed commitment to "never again." My friends and I approach the memorial's exit as Bernd turns towards us. "You are the future," he says suddenly, punctuating the afternoon's quiet stillness. His eyes roam ours, searching deeply. "You must make sure it never happens again." No matter how many times I hear these words, their visceral impact never lessens. "In Germany, we do not understand Donald Trump's attitude," Bernd says. His words hang in the still September air. Throughout the afternoon Bernd had shared his insights and knowledge freely, but he had not yet offered unsolicited opinions. "We do not understand how Americans permit his racist comments and plans." His brows are knit tightly, his voice flat and his conviction matter-of-fact. "This has happened before. We are deeply concerned. We have seen this before." Each tour of Dachau reminds Bernd that racism can crumple fragile souls and wash over their resolve. To this graying veteran, the parallel between Trump's rhetoric and his nation's past is obvious. The foreshadowing is simple and the warning incontrovertible. On the way out, we walk past a boy who is about seven or eight years old. He tugs on his father's coat. "I don't understand, Dad. Why did Hitler do all of this?" the boy asks. A long pause lingers, with no response. The boy repeats his question. The father kneels, facing the boy. "Because he could, son," he answers in a crumpled voice. "No one stopped him. They let him do it." Dachau tries desperately to never let humanity forget that bigotry triumphs when fear means turning the other cheek and looking away. When self-preservation tramples compassion and leaves appeasement in its wake. When people grow complacent and choose not to care. We have seen this before. ~ ~ ~ 15 days lie in front of us. As votes roll in on November 8th, everyone's life will change. Americans. Foreigners. Students. Women. Jews, Christians, Muslims and Hindus. Immigrants. Union workers and millionaires. The outcome of November 8th could irrevocably unravel our world order, regardless of the political party to which anyone traditionally belonged. Chaos and fear mongering know no boundaries. In 15 days, we are all presented with the opportunity to play a role in our future, to not be complacent and to care: in the form of a ballot. At least one urgent connection to November 8th exists within each of us. Think on a large scale in broad terms. Perhaps you want a steady economy with consistent job growth, or think that greenhouse gas reductions need to be curbed as climate change accelerates, or remain steadfast in your conviction that America's criminal justice system needs reform. We also can think intimately, bringing issues close to home. Perhaps piles of college loans weigh upon your conscience because your parents have sacrificed their lifestyles to open doors for you. Maybe you have a friend who was sexually assaulted and want to know that our nation's leader does not regard her as an object to be fondled by men as they please. Or you want to rest assured that your brother -- the lovable boy whose brain works differently and who struggles to function independently -- will not be mocked by the leader of our country because of the way he looks or acts. Everyone must turn inwards, search deeply and find that individual anchor. If you fear you are not educated enough to cast a vote, then search the Internet. People are willing to travel for hours to hike a mountain although the breathtaking view at the top is temporary. They spend hours waiting in line at the Apple store to purchase the newest phone. College students trek to the regional Consulate for the visa required to study abroad. We choose to invest time when we deem that the result warrants our effort. There is no excuse for failing to dedicate the time in order to weigh in on a decision that will dictate the remainder of your life. If you choose not to cast a ballot and simply let the cards unfold, you forfeit your right to criticize our political system for the next eight years. You can no longer comment on social issues about which you are passionate or complain about financial policies that burden your life. You should not critique laws, pass judgment on your political representatives over lunch or write impassioned editorials. If you do not vote, you become complicit in a cycle of indifference. Elie Wiesel reminds us that the opposite of love is not hate; it's indifference. We have seen indifference before. We have watched people stand aside without enough courage to communicate and act upon their mercy. We know what happens. My grandfather and the thousands beside him in block 23 would have traded their skin and bones to cry out before their world began tumbling and humanity eroded. They would have given anything to have just one voice to shout their collective suffering before lives disappeared. It feels so futile -- so wasteful -- when people willingly silence their voices with uncast ballots. Thousands, millions and billions of voices. Bernd reminds us: we have seen this before. In 15 days, you will be able to cast a ballot. I beg you to care about something that connects you to November 8th. Because when people stop caring, the world falls. And millions vanish. Never again should anyone's existence or return be undesired. -- 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.

24 октября, 15:20

How Democrats Killed Their Populist Soul

In the 1970s, a new wave of post-Watergate liberals stopped fighting monopoly power. The result is an increasingly dangerous political system.

23 октября, 22:10

Trump's Gettysburg Address

The Party of Lincoln's nominee returned to the site of his greatest speech, to attack the faith in democratic government that Lincoln so carefully fostered.

22 октября, 08:30

David Dayen: The Untold Stories Of The Mortgage Crisis

In this week's episode of "Scheer Intelligence," Robert Scheer speaks with David Dayen, author of the book Chain of Title: How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street's Great Foreclosure Fraud. Dayen and Scheer discuss the federal government's failure to respond to millions of people who suffered from the mortgage fallout from the 2008 bank crisis. Dayen tells Scheer that anger over foreclosures has fueled this year's bitter and unusual presidential race. The two also discuss why, despite the best efforts of the book's subjects, little has been done to mitigate homeowners' losses. Adapted from Truthdig.com Read the full transcript below: Robert Scheer: Hi, this is Robert Scheer, with another edition of "Scheer Intelligence," where the intelligence comes from my guest, in this case, David Dayen, who wrote a book called Chain of Title, and its subtitle tells it all: How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street's Great Foreclosure Fraud. True confessions, I just finished a hurried reading of this book, the electronic version, and I thought I would be bored with the details, and I was not at all, because the devil is in the details of the foreclosure story. You've got very good asides about how this whole great mess happened, and causing the Great Recession, the detailed description of what happens to ordinary people. In this case, you singled out three people who chose to fight back--the lousy mortgages they were sold, the fraudulent language in all of the documents, the way the authorities treated them, the way the banks treated them, the lying and tracing your loans. Anybody who's gone through this, and many Americans have, you don't even know who owns your loan, and who's servicing it, and where your checks are going, and who you hold accountable, and these are three people who chose to fight back. Now you're a reporter for The Intercept, for the New Republic, you've written for Salon, this is your first book, but you're well-known as a journalist, and you're certainly ... you live here in Los Angeles, and a lot of the action takes place in Florida. Just tell us about the writing of this book, and how it's been received. David Dayen: Absolutely, thanks for having me on the show. This does take place in south Florida, three people in the Palm Beach County area. They are a cancer nurse, a used-car salesman and a lawyer who was involved with white-collar fraud, but in the insurance industry, not in mortgages. These are three people that had no real history of this, and by being foreclosure victims, and then reading their own documents, which I call a revolutionary act, because nobody reads their own documents. Scheer: Just to interrupt here, you do make the point that even if you read the documents, you're not going to probably get it, and the language is deliberately obfuscated. Dayen: It's meant to fool you, absolutely. Scheer: It's meant to fool you, and you actually have a poignant scene with the cancer nurse, who's struggling to keep family-- Dayen: Lisa. Scheer: --Lisa, to keep family together, and a very sincere person, actually feels, "I'm not going to sign this thing without reading it," and she actually goes through and she admits she can't understand it, and she gets swindled. Dayen: That's right. What they did on the back end, after they fell into foreclosure, and reading those foreclosure documents, and seeing the discrepancy, and seeing that they're being sued by people they've never heard of before, entities that they've never heard of before, and seeing that the alleged transfer to that entity was executed after they were put into foreclosure. In other words, by the evidence they were presented, U.S. Bank, in the case of Lisa Epstein, didn't own the loan at the time that they foreclosed on her, and that's just the beginning. Scheer: You should mention, by the way, these were not fly-by-night banks. Dayen: No, these were the biggest banks in America. Scheer: You got Wells Fargo, you got Chase, you got all of these folks in it. I just want to start out by challenging--not the book, which I think is quite terrific, but you raise a question in this book, and a lot of people ask, how did this happen, who's at fault, and so forth, and when I was reading the book I thought, "This is really a great companion book," I'm not going to tout my own book, "The Great American Stickup," and there have been other-- Dayen: Go right ahead. Scheer: No, there have been other good books, and there was a terrific documentary done, "Inside Job," which lays out the whole thing, and what you really have is the micro study of this macro problem of political, financial corruption-- Dayen: And that's what I wanted to do. That road has been traveled very admirably by you, by Charles Ferguson in "Inside Job," and others. I wanted to look at the people who were most powerfully affected by the financial crisis, and that's homeowners. Over 9 million people, according to The Wall Street Journal, lost their homes from 2006 to 2014, and yet they were invisible, in terms of public policy, in terms of the culture; foreclosure victims just aren't talked about. They weren't even talked about by foreclosure victims; they don't talk about it to one another. One of the reasons-- Scheer: Well, because they have guilt, and in fact this-- Dayen: There is guilt and shame and humiliation, absolutely. Scheer: And it's deliberate. People say, "Well, they took lousy loans, it's their fault." You have a wonderful scene where some person on television is saying, "Do you want to pay for the mistakes of your neighbor?" Dayen: The loser's mortgages, and that's Rick Santelli, who is credited with starting the Tea Party with that rant. Scheer: I want to cut to the chase on one point you make of the people who got hurt, and there's a devastating study that I bring up all the time, by the Federal Reserve of St. Louis, having access to all the tax data and the financial data and everything else, and they did a study about the impact of the foreclosures, of the great meltdown of the housing market, on college-educated black and brown people. It turned out this was a targeted market, and here you have a crazy election, in which black and brown people are going for the Democratic Party--it was a Democratic president, Bill Clinton, who signed off on a lot of this deregulation, and has celebrated this. "Oh, we're modernizing the financial sector." And when you look at that Federal Reserve study, it says that we're not talking about the general black and brown population, we're talking about black and brown people who graduated from four-year colleges, and those people lost 70 percent of their wealth--not their income, their wealth. So the question I want to ask you in the context of this election--it seems to me it's really not being discussed, this whole problem. I happen to be interviewing you here at [the University of Southern California] Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, the day after the first vice presidential debate, and Tim Kaine, the Democratic candidate, repeated something Hillary Clinton has said, which was the Bush administration did these tax cuts that favored the rich, and then came the Great Recession. Well, the Great Recession had nothing to do with that, and everything to do with a bipartisan, radical deregulation of the financial industry. Yes, it started way back, but it took the signature of Bill Clinton to make it really the law of the land. Dayen: There's no question about it. Brad Miller, who was a congressman who actually authored the set of laws that would become the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is quoted in my book calling the Great Recession an "extinction event for the Latino and black middle class." We have the nation's first African-American president, and he presides over this extinction event of the black and Latino middle class. You're absolutely right about Tim Kaine--that is an irrelevant non sequitur when you're talking about the Bush tax cuts having anything to do with the recession. Housing, foreclosures--all of this doesn't get talked about. Every time I see one of these long interviews with Obama about his legacy, the first thing I do is I search that document for the word "foreclosure," and I haven't found it yet. Nobody challenges him on this, no one talks about it, and yet I don't think you can talk about the legacy of this president without talking about the fact that he did next to nothing to arrest this wound that was put into the middle class of this country through the foreclosure crisis, and at a moment when he had leverage over the banks, when they were caught faking documents to kick people out of their homes, which is what my book is about, when he had that leverage moment, when he had that moment where the banks were legally exposed, he let them off the hook, and he did not get sustainable solutions for the public that needed them. Scheer: What's powerful about your book is you connect the macro and the micro. You have a very good detailed--and I don't mean detailed in the sense of boring, a very clear--you clearly lay out what other collateralized debt obligations and mortgage back securities and credit default swaps, and you actually trace this whole assault on sensible rules of the road. We had sensible rules of the road put in place at the time of the Great Depression, thanks to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and the forces that were unleashed, and then we have the dismantling of those rules, and whether it's Jimmy Carter, whether it's Ronald Reagan, whether it's Bill Clinton. Dayen: You know what the amazing thing about that was? Was that the entire idea behind that, the animating principle behind that, was that we're going to homeownership up, we're going to make an ownership society. This was true among Clinton, George W. Bush, all of these presidents. However, the thing that actually created the ownership society to the extent that it did was the post-New Deal era. That's when homeownership rates went from 40 percent to 60 percent. They didn't budge after the 1970s, when Wall Street got involved in the mortgage market, when Lew Ranieri, who's the godfather of this whole thing at Salomon Brothers, set about to turn mortgages into a tradeable asset. It did not improve homeownership, it just transferred this very lucrative market from the public sector to the private sector, and when Wall Street got their hands on it, they made a lot of money, and they broke it. Scheer: Homeownership expanded because after World War II, it was a feeling we had to pay back something to the veterans, and for $99 down--I worked on the Levittown Project in Pennsylvania, believe it or not, I'm old enough to have actually constructed Levittown-- Dayen: I grew up about 10 minutes from Levittown, Pa. Scheer: So I remember three boards this way, three boards--two-by-fours, and then three nails, three nails, three nails, and then suddenly you had a house. It was a great idea, but it was also a conservative banking idea. In the old days, you knew you could expand homeownership, but you could do it through a responsible bank, and you went in there to Wells Fargo, for example, and the bank was responsible. Why? Because they would hold this mortgage for 30 years. Dayen: That's number one, and number two was savings and loans. They were relying on deposits, so they had a stake in your success as a community, and they could only lend out within a 50-mile radius of their bank headquarters. That made it such that they needed that community to succeed for them to succeed. So when you got in trouble, they wanted to get you worked out so that you wouldn't default on your loan. Scheer: Right, and one of the points you make in your book is that part of this rape of the American consumer, which is really what it is, was the federal government, again on the Democrats and Republicans, took away the power of states to regulate banking. One of the ironies in this banking meltdown is that Texas actually fared much better than California. Why? Not because Texas had a Republican governor, and California had more progressive--although they had Republicans also, but because Texas, when it came into the Union, the people in Texas were suspicious of banks that had ripped off stakeholders. Dayen: Wright Patman, right? Scheer: Right. So they had rules on the book that beginning--banks couldn't even make home mortgage loans, and so I just want-- Dayen: And very tight restrictions on cash-out refinances, which was really the time bomb that led to this thing. Scheer: Why are we among a handful of people--can actually have an intelligent discussion about this, and everything else is gibberish? No, really, I'm amazed. It's not discussed in this election, it's silly talk. And let me just mention one specific thing. During the debate with Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton said that Bernie Sanders signed off on the deregulation of the banking, which is the Commodity Futures Modernization Act. Well, that's garbage. It was an omnibus bill, if you didn't vote for it--and Ron Paul was one of the few people-- Dayen: It was to avert a government shutdown. And in fact the language that was put into that bill originally was much tamer. It was changed radically to go into that omnibus bill by Phil Gramm. Scheer: Yeah, and that bill, which Bill Clinton signed off on-- Dayen: It was the last thing he signed, almost. Scheer: Right, as a lame--let's get this-- Dayen: Lame duck 2000. Scheer: Lame duck 2000 president, and I think he did it because Hillary Clinton was running for the Senate, and needed Wall Street, and Wall Street was pushing her-- "Leave that on the shelf, you can examine that later," but the fact of the matter is, Title III--we hear a lot about Glass-Steagall, we hear a lot about reversal, but the Commodity Futures Modernization Act--for people listening to this, write down that and look it up--Title III of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act said, "no existing regulation or regulatory agency will be allowed to monitor these collateralized debt obligations." That was it, and that was to shut up Brooksley Born, who was the head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and to silence her. And it was done by Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers, who goes on to be head of Harvard--those were two Clinton Treasury Secretaries, and, of course, Greenspan. So I don't want to take up too much time discussing the macro, because the great strength of your book is it shows us the devastating effect of taking your savings and getting involved in a house which has a lot to do with your own sense of--to your family, your prestige, your stability, and so forth. And in your book, peoples' marriages come apart, they suffer terribly, and basically, it's a portrait of impotence to do anything about it. There's a sort of theme that goes through your book: "Maybe we'll get it together." In the end, they all lose. And they all lose, because whether it's Obama or Bush or Clinton, they don't really care about the little people. This is garbage talk at election time. Dayen: There's no question that this administration, as in the past, valued bank balance sheets over homeowner balance sheets. And they had this moment where they really could have made it more equitable for people, because these banks were taking false documents, false evidence, and using it in court cases to kick people out of their homes. How many cases would be allowed to go through based on false evidence in the court system in this country? How many kidnapping, murder--any other setting, any other court case, any other criminal trial, civil trial, false evidence is the first thing that would get you kicked right out of that courtroom. Only [in] foreclosure cases did the judges look at the two sides, and on the one side they see a very nicely dressed bank lawyer, who they might have went to school with, and on the other side they see some "deadbeat," quote-unquote, who didn't pay their mortgage, or who is a pro se litigant, who's acting in their own defense. And they go with the guy in their social class, even though it's false evidence. They are undermining the very integrity of their own courtroom. And the Obama administration did the same thing. They sided with the banks when they had this opportunity to say, "All right, you guys are caught, now here's what you're going to do." And Sheila Bair actually wrote it down, Sheila Bair, the former head of the FDIC, she wrote it down, she said, "Here's what we should do: Every mortgage over 60 days delinquent should be written down to the face value right now, and we should force them to do this as a condition of us not suing and putting in jail every single one of these people for the fraud that they committed. If you do that, and then give shared appreciation, so when the mortgage market bounces back, the mortgage companies can get a little bit of the upside, along with the individual. As long as you give them the break on the way down, you could have had a better economy. The economy would have bounced back more, and you would have shared these losses, these incredible losses that the banking industry did--you would have shared them in an equitable way, rather than putting all the burden on homeowners, the millions of homeowners that got kicked out of their homes. Scheer: Yeah, and lost their life savings. Dayen: By the way, she formally proposed that, gave it to Tim Geithner, and I think he threw it out immediately. Nothing was done with that, I think. Scheer: Tim Geithner was a horror for Wall Street. He ran the Federal Reserve of New York, he presided over the gift. Passing money through AIG to Goldman Sachs--the whole thing is a scam. But the argument that's used, is when the average person gets screwed with a loan, they didn't do due diligence. They're at fault, and we don't want to bail them out because that will encourage bad habits. So we take the average person and say, "You have to be this adult and responsible citizen, or you're going to suffer, and suffering will be good for you." On the other hand, Obama, just like George W. Bush, bails out the banks for their bad behavior. Dayen: The phrase that you use is "moral hazard." It's about moral hazard for the individual, but never for the banks. What the banks started to do during the foreclosure crisis when people said, "Well, you got to show me who owns this loan, I'm not going to give up my home to someone who doesn't have a legal right to it." They said, "We're going to cause strategic defaults." People are just going to default, just so they can get a modification. And in fact, as I say in the book, the biggest strategic default was the headquarters of the Mortgage Bankers Association in Washington, D.C. They walked away from their headquarters when they couldn't afford it anymore, all the while spokesmen for the Mortgage Bankers Association were telling homeowners they had to keep paying their mortgage because think of what the impression they would give to their children if they walked out on their obligations, while they were walking out on their own obligations at the same time. Scheer: As I said before, the devil is in the detail, and the book "Chain of Title" by David Dayen, it goes into these details in ways that--it's just, frankly, disgusting. I just said to my son, Josh, who is one of the producers of this show, who's about to get a home loan, I said, "Josh, are you kidding me? Have you really read that? You understand what scoundrels these people are?" And you mention that fraudulent behavior, which, by the way, is made legal when you don't challenge--but you even had institutions, like you talk about the MIRS System. Dayen: The MIRS System, yes. Scheer: Yeah, and the use of computer tech. I mean, Countrywide, for example, they pioneered this whole thing of "We don't have to have a bank office to talk to a prospective lender. We can do it with computers." And their model was adopted by Fannie Mae, by the federal housing agencies. They went in there, they wrote the guidelines of--not [to] mention that they wrote the legislation, and when you realize--again I use this word "impotent," not to reflect poorly on the performance of the individual, but the fact is, the average consumer, they were just whipped around. Dayen: Let's just bring a broader frame to this. We've seen in the last year, whether it's Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump, people engaging with this idea that the game is rigged, the economy is rigged against them, rigged against the little guy, it's set up for big, powerful interests. I don't think there's a better example of that than this story. The fact that these giant banks got caught using false evidence in these foreclosure cases, and that they got away with it, with nobody going to jail, no one having to give up a dime of their bonus, and these banks operating on business as usual after getting slap-on-the-wrist settlements that were designed to come up with a big headline number, so the Justice Department can say, "We got tough on the banks," but the actuality of the thing--the number was far smaller. This is the frustration people have, the idea that who you are matters more than what you did with respect to the Justice system. That there's a two-tiered kind of system of justice, where the rich and the powerful have one system, and the ordinary schmoes have another. That is what is animating this frustration and anxiety that I think we see playing out in our politics, and if we don't get a handle on it--populism can rear its head in left-wing ways and right-wing ways, and we're seeing that play out right now, and we're going to see this prairie fire continue to catch, unless there's some responsibility done, where everybody is equal under the law. Scheer: I think I was going to ask you why you bothered to write a book, because these days, not too many people read them or take them seriously, but your book provides great ammunition for those who in a sincere way ask the question, "How did this happen? And what is the cost?" I would recommend it, "Chain of Title" by David Dayen, not just because I want to push books because I like books, but because if you don't immerse yourself in this book--and it is a good read, I'm not suggesting-- Dayen: It's really about people. It's about these people who are pushed to the limit, and they decide to take on something greater than themselves. Scheer: And you write it like a novel, you know? She's in the car, and the waves are coming up; it's fun to read. I want to recommend it. Dayen: Well, I didn't want to bore everybody with mortgage details. It's about people. Scheer: No, no, no, it's a great read. But, when you read it, you also get really angry, and you understand why there are so many people now--went to, as you say, the progressive side of Sanders, or went to Donald Trump's jingoism and scapegoating of immigrants who had nothing to do with this. Actually, immigrants were fleeced with abandon by the banks. I want to ask you one question about who are the good people here? And it's funny, because my book and your book were both distributed by something called Perseus Press, and you're published by New Press, and I was published by Nation Books, but the people actually marketing, getting it out there, Perseus Press. Perseus is a hedge fund that has done all sorts of horrible things, but we can leave that aside, but the guy who was head of it, Jimmy Johnson, was head of Fannie Mae, and he was the fellow who sort of--he's a good liberal who worked for [Walter] Mondale, and he's the guy who presided over this fleecing of much of America. Dayen: This is the problem. Scheer: Well, let's cut to the chase of this problem. Who really are the good people? We know Elizabeth Warren has fought the--Brooksley Born fought the good fight, there are people-- Dayen: Sheila Bair, even though she was a Republican, she was fighting on this. These individuals are the heroes, and they need to be recognized: Lisa Epstein, and Michael Redman and Lynn Szymoniak. Scheer: Okay, but they don't have the power even of-- Dayen: Well, let me just stop you there, because these three people didn't have any institutional power, resources, knowledge, anything like that, but they started this movement. They used the power, the digital tools, the online tools, they started their own websites, they built a coalition, they researched the evidence, more than any state or federal prosecutor, and they built a fact pattern. We've seen that replicated after that, whether you're talking about Occupy Wall Street, or you're talking about the Sanders movement. I feel like these movements--these accountability movements, or anti-bank, or whatever you want to call them, on up to the fight for $15 an hour, the low-wage workers movement--they all kind of work in the same way. They use the digital tools to congregate and get together and push out a fact-based set of ideas, and try to make change. And they don't always achieve all of their goals. Sometimes they don't achieve any of their goals, but they--each one gets a little bit closer and a little bit closer and a little bit closer to the shore. And I feel like without these three individuals, and without this foreclosure fraud movement, you don't have Occupy, and you don't have what Sanders was able to do, and you don't have the Elizabeth Warren wing of the party, and you don't have Democrats up and down the line yelling about Wells Fargo in Congress, and their fake-account scandal. Scheer: That is the importance of "Chain of Title," your book, there's no question about it. It's a great tale of citizen resistance and citizen self-empowerment. It's what the American experiment is supposed to be all about. Checks and balances, challenge to powerful. What is depressing about this whole tale is there's a truth that Paulson, who was Treasury secretary under-- Dayen: Hank Paulson? Scheer: Yeah, Hank Paulson, that was Treasury secretary under George W. Bush and had been head of Goldman Sachs, and he described in his own book, he walks into the office as the housing meltdown is underway, and George W. Bush, President Bush turns to his Treasury secretary and asked the former head of Goldman Sachs, he says, "How did this happen?" A sincere question--the president of the United States--"How did this happen?" And Paulson said it was an embarrassing question to ask me because we were the ones who did it. So here's Hank Paulson, accepting responsibility on the part of Wall Street, and speaking to his shame. Why do so many of our leaders in the Democratic Party, Republican Party, in the mass media, deny a truth that Hank Paulson asserted: "Wall Street did it?" The contradiction here is you can have an aroused citizenry, but if they--Wall Street controls the power. And it's not just Wall Street, it's GE Capital that did so much housing, and the head of GE was appointed by Obama to be head of his jobs committee. It's General Motors Acceptance Corporation where the-- Dayen: GMAC is all over the book. Scheer: All over the book, and so, what is brilliant--I think I'll use the word "brilliant"--about "Chain of Title,"--so let me fully endorse it--is that you show how when the little person is being screwed, it is actually by the biggest of corporations, with the most powerful political allies, and what I was getting at with my thing is not to disparage that, but to ask where are the organizations that are--where was the Black Caucus? Where are the progressive politicians? Where were the trade unions? Dayen: I think I asked that in the book. These three people did everything that a civics class would say, "This is how you make change." You get the evidence, you build a coalition, and you go through the authorities that were put together to deal with this, and they went to everybody, from the Black Caucus to the--everybody from a county clerk on up to the president of the United States. The fact that they did everything right, and got it in the hands of the people who were supposed to do something about this, who were charged by us, the body politic, with doing something about this, the fact that it didn't work is what we have to reckon with, and it's why we have this angry electorate right now. So I feel like this is almost a cautionary tale for those elites that think they can get away with this over and over and over and over again, that this is what you've spawned. This is what you've created in the country. And they can't get their heads around "why are people so angry? Why are people so angry?" Here it is, this is why people are so angry. Scheer: That is really the power of this book, because the anger is not leading to effective change. It won't go away, but what will happen, and this--I almost feel like we're talking about Germany after the Weimar Republic, when people are running around with wheelbarrows full of marks and can't buy food and they don't have jobs. What you're describing are people who--yes, now they're fighting in a positive way to understand their mortgages, and survive economically, but you could see the three people in your book going through a Trump alternative. They don't have to end up with a progressive alternative. Dayen: They don't at all. Scheer: And there are plenty of people--see, what bothers me about this election is because Trump is such a buffoon and so obnoxious that the whole phenomena goes unexamined. Why were all the Republican candidates rejected for this guy? Because he was anti-establishment. He claimed to be, not that he is. Dayen: Because he spoke to a certain despair that's in the country after globalization? Scheer: Yeah, but that despair was mocked by Hillary Clinton, who talked about--reflected poorly on who had supported Trump. They're hurting! Just like the people-- Dayen: This idea that America is already great, that's her rhetoric to Donald Trump. Scheer: But I looked at the Sanders campaign and everybody said, "Wow, he did great." I thought he'd get 2 to 3 percent of the vote. I really did. I thought he'd be blown away, and then he gets--where does he get--he gets it from working-class people, he gets it from people who would never dream of-- Dayen: And from young people, who have been on the front lines of this their entire adult lives. Scheer: I think this last point you made is a very strong way on which to wrap up this podcast and give people a reason to really care about this subject. It's not going to go away, and neither candidate--major candidates in this election--are going to address it. We don't have public finance of campaigns. Wall Street money is now more important to the Democrats than even the Republicans for all the--"Oh yeah, the Koch brothers, the Koch brothers, the Koch brothers," "Citizens United, Citizens United, Citizens United." The fact of the matter is both Obama and Hillary Clinton have been great at getting money from Wall Street. Wall Street knows they're on their side, they know they'll carry their water. So the real danger here is where are we going to be four years from now, eight years from now? When you have so many people out there that feel ripped off by a system, they'll get desperate, and they'll accept a demagogue of the right as easily as they'll accept a legitimate populist from the progressive side. That's really the danger. And maybe if you want to tell us in closing what you think people can get from this book, and why they should pass it around or talk about it with their friends? Dayen: I think a couple things. Number one is that this is our history. This is something that I didn't get down the memory hole. I really wanted to look at this from the lens of the ground level of homeowners and recognize the contributions that these people made and how they really should have amounted to a lot more. And the second thing is that the administration and top officials, they make a lot of alibis and excuses for themselves. "Oh we didn't have enough good cases." "What happened on Wall Street was unethical, but it wasn't illegal." And this is a book-long response to that--that we had an alternate history, it wasn't just that--it was a choice that was made. The choice was made to let these guys off the hook. It was optional. It was not an affirmation. There was an alternative here that could have gone up to the top executives on Wall Street, and held them responsible. Ordinary people figured it out and laid it out and handed it to state and federal prosecutors on a silver platter, and ultimately, they determined that it wasn't worth their time to do anything about, and we have to think about that. Scheer: Yeah, and we have to think about that Title III of a bill that Bill Clinton signed into law that said, "No regulatory agency, and no existing law will govern and control the marketing of these collateralized debt obligations, these mortgage-backed securities," which ended up being one of the great Ponzi schemes and scams of world economic history, and if the Mafia had done it, they'd all be thrown in jail and never allowed out for even a walk in the yard. I want to thank you. The book is "Chain of Title," David Dayen. It's really worth reading, and when you think the election is getting a little tedious, pick up this book, think about it, think about what's left out of the discussion, and I want to thank you for coming in. This is another edition of "Scheer Intelligence", my producers are Josh Scheer, and Rebecca Mooney over at KCRW, Kat Yore and Mario Diaz at KCRW are the engineers, and we are broadcasting from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism where Sebastian Grubaugh is the terrifically brilliant engineering type who helps us make this possible. -- 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.

21 октября, 15:37

THE THIEF WHO CAME TO DINNER: No happy warriors to be found at Al Smith dinner. The rivals showed…

THE THIEF WHO CAME TO DINNER: No happy warriors to be found at Al Smith dinner. The rivals showed up Thursday night at a fabled staging post on the final stretch of presidential campaigns — the Al Smith charity dinner in New York. Smith, the former New York governor and 1928 Democratic presidential nominee, was […]

20 октября, 18:28

Donald Trump Is No Longer Running For President

Extremist radio priest Rev. Charles Coughlin and his contemporary counterpart Donald Trump If it wasn't clear before Wednesday night's debate, it should be obvious now that Donald Trump is no longer running for president. He is using his campaign to become the leader of what he calls "our movement" -- a white supremacist, nativist, and nationalist crusade -- to boost his ego, settle scores (including with many Republicans), and make it impossible for Hillary Clinton to govern. He intends to become America's first celebrity demagogue. For at least the past month, Trump had realized that he is going to lose the race for president on November 8. Indeed, every day, it looks more and more likely that Clinton will beat him by landslide margins in both the popular vote and the Electoral College. If he were still running for president, and trying to win 270 Electoral College votes, Trump would be appealing to swing voters in battleground states. But during his performances in all three debates -- as well as in his speeches at Trump rallies since the GOP convention -- he has appealed entirely to his base of fervent supporters. In the third debate, he doubled down on his most extremist positions -- on abortion and immigration, in particular. By inviting President Obama's Kenyan-born half-brother to attend the event, he was signaling his supporters that he still believes in the racist "birther" myth that Obama was not born in the United States and is not a legitimate president. As his poll numbers have plummeted, Trump has become increasingly inflammatory. After his campaign advisers realized that they could not control him and that he could not control himself -- that he was prone to impulsive and self-destructive behavior -- they tried to turn his worst character traits into an asset by claiming that they were encouraging "Trump to be Trump." It was all on display on the podium at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. Trump's performance offered no surprises. What Americans saw was the same racist, sexist, thin-skinned, nativist bully -- filled with paranoid conspiracy theories, unable to make a coherent argument, who went ballistic when Clinton criticized him -- that we've watched for more than a year on the campaign trail. For the past few months, Trump has been using his campaign to set the stage for a new white supremacist right-wing media empire with Breitbart News head Stephen Bannon (his campaign chair) and adviser Roger Ailes (the former Fox News head fired for flagrant sexual assault and harassment). Their goal is to create a media vehicle that will serve as the voice of the right-wing movement Trump intends to lead and to compete with, and outfox, Fox News. What we witnessed Wednesday night was not a presidential debate but a dress rehearsal for the battle between Trump's right-wing movement and the Clinton administration that will begin on November 9 when Trump refuses to acknowledge Clinton's victory but continues to claim -- as he said at the debate -- that the election was "rigged" against him. Trump's unprecedented refusal to say that he'd accept the results of the election was the clearest indication that his campaign will morph into an anti-Clinton crusade even before she takes the oath of office in January. Throughout his campaign, Trump's comments have "normalized" many forms of extremist bigotry, including anti-Semitism, hostility to immigrants and Muslims, attacks on Mexicans and African Americans, insults toward women, slanders against veterans like Senator John McCain, and mocking people with disabilities. He has poisoned the culture by encouraging hate and division. He has encourage his fervent follows to engage in violence and to threaten and intimidate voters on election day. Trump did not invent this ugly aspect of American society but he has given voice to, galvanized, emboldened and mobilized it. When the election is over, he will seek to reconstruct the remnants of his campaign, which he has increasingly referred to as "our movement," into a political force that will make the Tea Party and Fox News look tame, boosted by the media savvy of Ailes and Bannon and financial support from right-wing billionaires like hedge fund operator Robert Mercer. Whether they can motivate and mobilize Trump's hard core supporters into an effective political movement is an open question. But surely they will utilize their new media empire to provide Trump with a public stage on which to act out his ego-driven fantasies. He will seek to settle scores with his many enemies, including Republicans who refused to support him, withdrew their support for him, or (like Paul Ryan) failed to fall on their swords for him. But his biggest target will be Hillary Clinton, whose administration's initiatives he will try to thwart at every turn. He will be a thorn and a tormentor, hoping to put her on the defensive and to rally Clinton haters to pressure Congress to kill her legislative priorities, including raising the minimum wage, expanding Obamacare, and jump-starting jobs with a public infrastructure program, and impeding her efforts to appoint justices to the Supreme Court. The closest precedent to what Trump hopes to become is Charles Coughlin, the Michigan-based Roman Catholic "radio priest" who was the one of first political leaders to use radio to reach a nationwide mass audience. During the Great Depression, Coughlin exploited people's fears and anxieties to advance an anti-Semitic, nativist, isolationist right-wing agenda and his fervent opposition to President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. He used his radio program to promote anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and to support Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. At the peak of his influence, 30 million listeners tuned in to his weekly broadcasts. Coughlin was a dangerous force in America for almost a decade. In 1934 he started a political organization called the National Union for Social Justice and a newspaper called Social Justice to mobilize his followers in elections. But the NUSJ was poorly-organized on the local level and he was unable to translate his media appeal into an effective grassroots organization. By 1939 he was forced off the air. Like Coughlin, Trump has brilliantly used the mainstream media to gain attention and stoke the fears and anxieties of millions of Americans. His greatest talent is that of a self-promoting publicist, marketing his celebrity TV shows, his hotels and apartments, his beauty pageants, his steaks and clothing lines, and, of course, himself. His campaign rallies have been remarkable spectacles filled with zealous true believers. Surely, after the election, some of Trump's most fervent admirers - many of them already part of white supremacist hate groups, immigrant-bashing militias, anti-abortion zealots, and gun rights fanatics - will join forces with Trump to stoke hatred and dissension on-line and at rowdy rallies. But, also like Coughlin, Trump has shown no talent to building a grassroots political operation. Under his three different campaign managers -- Corey Lewandowski, Paul Manafort, and Kellyanne Conway -- Trump showed no inclination or capacity for developing the ground operation -- voter registration efforts, local precinct organizations, and a get-out-the-vote apparatus -- that is essential to any successful political campaign. So perhaps, like Father Coughlin, Trump's next incarnation will be more that of a controversial right-wing carnival barker than a real movement leader that can mobilize his followers to protest, disrupt and vote. Of course, when the election is over, Trump will have other matters to worry about. He will have to spend time in court, before Judge Gonzalo Curiel, defending his phony Trump University con operation. He may have to defend him against lawsuits brought by women whom he sexually assaulted. He will have to pay attention to his troubled real estate empire, golf courses, and casinos that are deeply in debt, and perhaps even face boycotts of his businesses by consumers and former corporate partners. Surely he will hand over many of those tasks to his lawyers and his children, so he can devote time to his next career as the leader of a right-wing movement. Whether Trump can translate his megalomaniac fantasy into political reality remains to be seen. But as America hits the home stretch of this bizarre election season, it is clear that after the votes have been counted, we won't have seen the last of Donald Trump. Peter Dreier is professor of politics and chair of the Urban & Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College. His most recent book is The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame. -- 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.

19 октября, 22:55

Trump's Worst Positions Aren't 'Un-American.' They're Flashbacks To Our Ugly History.

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 ― For months, Donald Trump has whipped his crowds into a frenzy with details about Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state and the ensuing FBI investigation. The crowd would break into chants of “Lock her up!”   But the GOP nominee didn’t go there himself until the second presidential debate, when he pledged to direct his attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton, should he win the election. “You’d be in jail,” he told her. Trump has since made his desire to see the Democratic nominee in shackles a central part of his increasingly unhinged stump speech. Instead of basking in the “lock her up” chants, he’s now leading them. To many observers, this behavior is un-American and anti-democratic. It certainly violates our modern conception of individual rights and democratic norms. Many of the critiques have classified Trump’s policies and rhetoric as distinctly foreign ― the stuff of distant dictators. He is reminiscent of a Latin American strongman, wrote McClatchy’s Franco Ordoñez. Esquire’s Charles Pierce refers to Trump as “El Caudillo del Mar-a-Lago.” Others have said Trump is just like some African dictators, and The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah, a South African native, made that comparison in a sketch showing the candidate uttering phrases identical to those of such notable tyrants, past and present, as Uganda’s Idi Amin and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe. Trump has also been compared, fairly, to former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who was also a wealthy sex maniac with right-wing anti-immigrant tendencies. But Trump and the policies he has endorsed are thoroughly American. Jailing political opponents, rounding up people based on race, threatening journalists with libel suits, and rejecting the legitimacy of elections ― all have precedent in the darkest parts of our history. Trump has favorably cited some of these past policies in his speeches. The connections to America’s shameful record aren’t surprising, given that Trump’s political mentors include Roy Cohn and Roger Stone. Cohn was the infamous counsel to Sen. Joseph McCarthy during his witch hunt to weed out supposed communists in the 1950s. Stone was a hatchet man carrying out President Richard Nixon’s “dirty tricks,” which included sabotaging his opponents’ campaigns through programs of spying, theft, misinformation and infiltration. Here are a few of the ways Trump’s seeming heresies actually fit into American history. ‘Lock Her Up’ If Trump made good on his promise to throw Clinton in prison, it wouldn’t be the first time a president prosecuted a rival candidate. In 1918, Eugene Debs, leader of the Socialist Party and five-time presidential contender, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for giving a speech opposing U.S. entry into World War I. Debs had received more than 900,000 votes, or 6 percent of the popular vote, in 1912. He was charged under the Espionage Act, which had been amended to ban “any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of government of the United States.” President Woodrow Wilson, who won the 1912 and 1916 races, refused to pardon Debs despite public calls for his release. Wilson’s Justice Department, under Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, cracked down on socialists like Debs, labor unions and other perceived radical groups as part of a campaign to stifle dissent against the first world war. Debs ran for president again in 1920, while still in prison, and topped 900,000 votes again ― more than 3 percent of the vote that year. President Warren Harding pardoned Debs in 1921. Over a century earlier, the U.S. government under President John Adams had set out to lock up political opponents. The Federalist-controlled Congress passed the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, an attempt to curb the growing political power of Thomas Jefferson and the first Republican Party. Jefferson and his allies praised the French Revolution, while Adams and the Federalists saw it as dangerous barbarism. Stay informed with the latest news and video. Download HuffPost’s news app. The Federalists drummed up support for the Alien and Sedition Acts, which placed strict controls on immigration and allowed the government to jail people for speech deemed anti-government, by casting them as protection from French immigrants fomenting revolution in the United States. They then used the acts to go after their opposition. Rep. Matthew Lyon, a Republican from Vermont, was jailed for denouncing the government. Newspaper publisher Benjamin Franklin Bache of Pennsylvania was imprisoned and died of yellow fever before he could be tried for sedition. Anthony Haswell, a Vermont printer, was sentenced to two months behind bars for reprinting Bache’s newspaper. James Thomson Callender, a Scottish writer living in Virginia, was sentenced to nine months for insults directed toward President Adams in his book The Prospect Before Us. The laws backfired politically. The Sedition Act expired in 1800, and Jefferson and the Republicans won election that year. The Federalists never recovered, and the party disbanded in 1816. Mass Deportation Trump has pledged to immediately deport 11 million undocumented immigrants, while claiming that he would “round them all up in a very humane way, in a very nice way, and they’re gonna be happy, because they want to be legalized.” He has pointed to President Dwight Eisenhower’s 1954 Operation Wetback, which rounded up and deported Mexican laborers, to buttress his own case. Eisenhower was a “good president,” said Trump, because he “moved 1.5 million illegal immigrants out of this country.” But that program suffered from widespread civil rights abuses, including crackdowns on Latino neighborhoods, deportation of U.S. citizens of Mexican descent and, in some cases, the killing of people. Beyond that, the term “wetback” is considered a slur. The government also forcibly removed hundreds of thousands of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans during the Great Depression, kicking them out of the country amid fears that they were taking the limited jobs after the 1929 stock market crash. This policy came to be known as “Mexican repatriation.” In 2012, the California government issued a formal apology for the forced expulsion of U.S. citizens of Mexican descent during that wave of deportations. Law and Order “I am the law-and-order candidate,” Trump has declared. But what exactly does that mean? The use of law-and-order rhetoric threads through American history from the post-Civil War South to today. It’s most often used to describe efforts to control those who challenge the established power structure ― more specifically, to control African-Americans. When Jim Crow was the law of the land, “law and order” meant the defense of white supremacy, even if that included extrajudicial mob violence. Martin Luther King Jr. notes this in his “Letter From Birmingham City Jail” in 1963: “I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negroes’ great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens’ ‘Counciler’ or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice...” “I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice, and that when they fail to do this they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress,” King continued. Law-and-order rhetoric exploded into presidential politics a few years later with the campaigns of Alabama Gov. George Wallace and Eisenhower’s vice president, Richard Nixon. Amid riots, assassinations and student protests over the Vietnam War, the famed segregationist Wallace said in 1968, “There has to be some law and order in our country.” Nixon copied Wallace’s call for law and order with a campaign of racially coded messages around crime and disorder. In his speech accepting the 1968 Republican nomination, Nixon told delegates, “When the nation with the greatest tradition of the rule of law is plagued by unprecedented lawlessness …then it’s time for new leadership for the United States of America.” Nixon promised to marry “order” with “progress” in that speech. But what came next was a crackdown on radical groups, particularly the Black Panthers, and the so-called War on Drugs, which raised penalties for drug possession, increased incarceration rates and specifically targeted black communities for enforcement. Law-and-order politics drew votes and launched public policy through the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s. Politicians from both parties pushed for “tough on crime” initiatives that would swell the U.S. prison population and reduce the number of African-Americans eligible to vote, thanks to felon disenfranchisement laws largely adopted during the Jim Crow years. Crime has overall been on the decline since 1995, prompting efforts to scale back those policies that put some communities under near-constant police watch. Trump’s law-and-order rhetoric, however, indicates that he wants to continue targeting minority communities for greater surveillance and imprisonment. ‘A Hell Of A Lot Worse Than Waterboarding’ Throughout his campaign, Trump has vowed to revive the torture program that tainted the George W. Bush administration ― but he wouldn’t stop there. At one Republican primary debate in February, he said he would “bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.” “Don’t tell me it doesn’t work,” he said at a later primary campaign event. “Torture works.” Torture is illegal under U.S. and international law. It also doesn’t work. The Bush administration’s torture policy did not procure any useful intelligence and was used against falsely imprisoned innocents and the mentally ill. These tactics broke the bodies and minds of prisoners, while also making it nearly impossible to publicly prosecute individuals like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed who were actually involved in plotting the 9/11 attacks. A Ban on Muslims In a press release issued in December 2015, the Trump campaign announced, “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” The United States enacted policies banning the immigration of Chinese in 1882 and limited or banned immigration by East Asians and select Southern and Eastern European communities in 1924. Lawmakers argued that such individuals could not assimilate into American society and were dangerous. Some proponents also believed immigrants from those regions to be intellectually inferior. These days, Trump supporter and New Hampshire state Rep. Al Baldasaro (R) has favorably compared the GOP nominee’s proposed Muslim ban to the internment of Japanese Americans that President Franklin Roosevelt ordered, and the Supreme Court upheld, during World War II. The internment policy forcibly removed and detained more than 110,000 Japanese Americans in violation of their civil rights. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed legislation apologizing and providing reparations for the victims and their families. Past racial and religious immigration bans have led to both official and unofficial violence against the affected communities. The same is true today, as hate crimes against Muslims have jumped to their highest level since the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Fear of ‘Rigged’ Elections For months, Trump has hinted to his supporters that this year’s election would be rigged in favor of Clinton. The hints turned into outright declaration on Oct. 14 when he told a crowd, “This whole election is being rigged. The whole thing is one big fix. One big ugly lie. It’s one big fix.” That claim is easily the most dangerous thing Trump has said during his entire campaign. A presidential candidate calling into question the integrity of the election outcome stokes the fears of some people that their votes will not count. When the legitimacy of voting itself is under fire, political leaders need to reassure their supporters and affirm democracy. The only other path heads toward disunion. That’s what happened the only time some losers in a presidential election would not accept the results: the 1860 contest in which Republican Abraham Lincoln defeated Democrat Stephen Douglas, Southern Democrat John C. Breckinridge and Constitutional Union candidate John Bell. A month and a half after the election, South Carolina became the first state to secede from the union. In that case, the Southern states didn’t actually think that Lincoln had rigged the election to his favor. But they decided they could not accept an opponent of slavery as the leader of their country and chose slavery over the union. They seceded before Lincoln even took office. The end of the Civil War did not resolve the legitimacy crisis. Instead, many Southerners went on to question the legitimacy of their states’ Reconstruction governments. The essential complaint was that the newly freed African-American voters had a strong voice in their election. The Ku Klux Klan targeted black voters and their white allies with a campaign of terror. Under the Compromise of 1877, the national Republican Party agreed to pull back U.S. troops in the South, abandoning the freed slaves and their right to vote in exchange for continued political power. Trump has called for his supporters to monitor voting sites in urban areas for potential fraud, a move that also has precedent in the post-war South. For decades under Jim Crow rule, the Klan and other groups of white citizens watched polling places and backed the use of lynching and violence to prevent African-Americans from voting. In recent years, Republicans have been ginning up largely unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud and have passed laws across the country to tackle in-person voter fraud ― a “problem” that actually has an incidence rate between 0.00004 and 0.00009 percent, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. GOP officials in Kansas, North Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin, among many other states, have used overblown claims of voter fraud to justify the passage of voter ID legislation. Even House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has raised the false prospect of “legal votes” being canceled by “illegal votes.” Yet investigations and court rulings keep finding that in-person voter fraud is so rare as to not justify voter ID restrictions. During the 2012 recall election for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), groups backing him discussed floating false rumors of voter fraud in case the race was too close to call. “Do we need to start messaging ‘widespread reports of election fraud’ so we are positively set up for the recount regardless of the final number? I obviously think we should,” one staffer suggested. Now Trump is capitalizing on those fears, calling on his largely white supporters to go to black and other minority communities to ensure that the election is not rigged in Clinton’s favor. His supporters have said they’ll do just that and seek to intimidate voters at polling places. One person said he would engage in “racial profiling,” looking for “Mexicans” or “Syrians,” and “make them nervous.” (It is illegal to intimidate voters at a polling place. In fact, Congress passed laws to prevent the Klan from trying that during Reconstruction.) All this fear-mongering about election tampering has consequences ― in people’s hearts and perhaps in their actions. One Trump supporter, quoted in the Boston Globe, ominously noted, “If [Clinton’s] in office, I hope we can start a coup. She should be in prison or shot. That’s how I feel about it.” HUFFPOST READERS: What’s happening in your state or district? The Huffington Post wants to know about all the campaign ads, mailers, robocalls, candidate appearances and other interesting campaign news happening by you. Email any tips, videos, audio files or photos [email protected] Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S. -- 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.

19 октября, 21:14

The Republican Party Breaks with Precedent, Finds Itself in an Unprecedented Predicament

The GOP still clings to the idea that it's the party of "traditional values" and "strict construction" of the U.S. Constitution even while breaking with past precedent in radical and reckless ways. It's clear by their actions over the past 22 years that the Republicans are willing to chuck precedent and tradition out the window if they believe it will serve their narrow partisan interests. Let's review: In 1994, when the Republicans won the House of Representatives for the first time in forty years the first thing they did was shut down the government in an unprecedented attempt to extort the Democratic president to bow down to their demands to voucherize Medicare. The full-throated denunciation of the U.S. government as a new form of "tyranny" coming from Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, and radio shock jocks like Rush Limbaugh, helped create the politically toxic environment that led a handful of right-wing extremists to truck bomb the main federal office building in Oklahoma City. When the government shutdown tactic faced public opprobrium the House Republicans moved on to transforming their oversight function into a partisan attack machine. Abusing their subpoena power, as well as the post-Watergate rules requiring "Special Prosecutors" to be appointed when evidence of administration wrongdoing surfaced, they took the unprecedented step of impeaching a Democratic president for trying to hide a private sexual relationship. The Republican Justices on the Supreme Court had ruled that the partisan investigations of President Bill Clinton would not impair his ability to carry out his constitutional obligations. Boy were they wrong. After the federal government was tied in knots for the better part of two years over the Monica Lewinsky revelations, the Clinton sex scandal became the functional equivalent of a government shutdown by other means. The Republicans not only forced the country to endure months of graphic descriptions of the president's trysts with his young intern, but also revealed their own shameless hypocrisy when Speakers Newt Gingrich and Bob Livingston were both exposed as serial adulterers even while denouncing Clinton's "character." The Republicans then settled on the boring and outwardly asexual Dennis Hastert as Speaker. Hastert, the creator of the hyper-partisan "Hastert Rule" that the Republicans in the House still dutifully enforce (where no bills are allowed to come up for a vote unless a "majority of the majority" approves them) is today in prison for illegally spending millions of dollars to try to cover up his earlier life as a sexual predator. It turns out that the longest serving Republican House Speaker in American history was a pedophile. All of these extreme actions of the 1990s showed that the GOP had no qualms about breaking with precedent and tradition (or "family values") if it furthered its partisan objectives. And these acts of unprecedented partisanship and recklessness continued into the 21st Century. In 2000, the Republican attacks on anyone advocating recounting the vote tally in the state of Florida to find out who really won the presidential election dovetailed perfectly with the five Republican-appointed Supreme Court Justices stepping in to rule George W. Bush the winner. These actions were unprecedented and no election has come close to the irregularities in the 2000 race, except for maybe the thoroughly messed up Hayes-Tilden debacle in 1876. But the Republicans' break with precedent and tradition was just getting started. After eight years of Republican misrule, and four full years (2003-2007) where they ran the whole government, they left the country in the worst shape since the Great Depression. And the moment Barack Obama was sworn in as president in January 2009 the Republicans began to obstruct everything the new president wanted to do to try to deal with the economic crisis. Their wrath was unprecedented in its vindictiveness and bile. House members yelled "You Lie!" at the president in the middle of a State of the Union address, a kind of outburst that hadn't happened since the lead up to the Civil War; they questioned whether the president was born in the United States; they claimed he was a Kenyan Mau-Mau, and so on. The reception Republicans gave the first African-American president, a chief executive who constantly shunned his own base to reach across the aisle to work with them, was shameful in its thinly veiled racism. And in 2010, when the Republicans won the House they wasted no time in once again shutting down the government, this time inventing the novel tactic of holding the "debt ceiling" hostage to extort draconian budget cuts from the Democratic president. Never before had the viability of the world's reserve currency been held hostage in this manner, which was a move that even some of the Republicans' most important corporate boosters thought was too extreme. Once again, the Republicans showed their willingness to put the perceived political interests of their party ahead of what was best for the country they claim to love so dearly. And then, following the 2010 census Republicans at the state level moved to cement their political advantage through the most aggressive gerrymandering the nation had seen since the early 19th Century. Later, we saw the Republican House invite a foreign head of state to lambaste the sitting president over an international nuclear arms agreement, an unprecedented step that the Republicans no doubt would have denounced as "treason" had a Democratic House done the same thing to a Republican president. And following that slight to the office of the presidency's ability to manage U.S. foreign policy, the Republicans in the Senate under Mitch McConnell took the unprecedented action of refusing to allow a vote for the president's nominee of a Supreme Court Justice. So the Republicans in the House and the Senate moved from attacking the Democratic President to attacking the office of the presidency itself - all for what they believe to be in the service of narrow partisan gain. Which brings us to the disgraceful way the Republicans have handled the presidential candidacy of Donald J. Trump. They gave the country in the form of their 2016 presidential nominee a person who is not only unfit for the presidency, but who is a charlatan, misogynist, con artist and sexual predator. Then they rallied around this unstable person as the Republican standard bearer even after all of his stinging insults aimed at Mexicans, Muslims, the disabled, women, immigrants, Jews, and any other group that doesn't fit into his white supremacist worldview - all the while the Republicans still claimed to be the party of "patriotism" and "family values." Bernie Sanders pointed out during the primaries that the GOP has become a "fringe party"; but the process that brought the Republicans to this sordid juncture has been long in coming. The only way any social progress can happen in this country is if this fringe extremist party is pushed aside. We cannot "reach across the aisle" and meet these bigots "half way." Franklin Delano Roosevelt didn't go to the Republicans begging them to sign on to his Social Security and other New Deal programs; Lyndon Baines Johnson didn't go hat in hand to the Republicans asking them to meet him in "the middle" on Medicare and the Great Society. These gains were only done at a time when the Republican Party was totally sidelined and was in no position to obstruct progress. Let the Republicans whine about "rigged" elections and scream about "big gov'mint" - it's time for the adults to take charge. The whole Trump phenomenon should at long last drive home the fact - along with the last quarter century of American political history - that the Republican Party in its current form must be vanquished if we are to move forward as a nation. It might take several more election cycles to attain this goal, but when you hear pundits talk about how Hillary Clinton must "move to the center" and "reach across the aisle" let us remember this recent history. -- 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.

18 октября, 23:11

Capitalist Ideology And The Myth Of The Individual Self, Part 1: Competing Autonomous Individual Agents

What’s The Problem? Every age has had its share of troubles, but seldom has the old saying “He who can still laugh has not yet heard the news” been more credible than it is today. TV and radio are describing one large-scale disaster after another almost daily: widespread hunger, de- and re-jected refugees, seemingly endless wars, multiple mindless shootings, grinding poverty alongside obscene wealth, catastrophic environmental degradation, the threat of nuclear annihilation, eroding democracy, epidemics. Meanwhile, fear, demagoguery and hatred are steadily rending the social fabric both in the U.S. and abroad. Virtually all of these wretched conditions can be traced to human activity, and it should therefore be human activity we must look to for repair. Everyone knows this, yet with few exceptions these horrific conditions are continuing to worsen in number, scope and severity rather than improve, as most people are apparently waiting for others to act even while they seem to be listening with increasing apprehension for the hoofbeats of the Four Horsemen. Why is this? Cynics, skeptics and those of a misanthropic bent will argue that the failure of the American peoples to act is because they are either too stupid, too selfish, too lazy or too uncaring. Whatever its overall merits, this argument is worthless as a plan of action because it implies either that the situation is hopeless or the citizenry will have to be coerced into doing anything. Moreover, for myself at least the claim is simply false: I have met some selfish, lazy, uncaring fools in my day, but the overwhelming majority of other Americans I know of all ethnicities are decent people, and I read about many others in the pages of local newspapers. I feel sorry for any readers who have had different experiences with their countrymen, and read only of the murderers, child abusers and rapists the national news media deem endlessly newsworthy. But then the question of inaction becomes even more pointed. Ignorance of what might be done cannot explain our lack of will either because a number of workable solutions to each of these issues and problems have been advanced by the wonderful people and groups that have formed in protest and/or are engaged in ameliorating efforts. But until their numbers are augmented a thousandfold their successes will surely be much too little, too late. Yet there is little doubt that with a mass movement/commitment in the political realm the situation could improve measurably and fairly quickly in almost all areas including disarmament, violence in the Middle East, food production, new medicines and their distribution, prison reform, gun control, water conservation, race relations, immigration, alternative energy, and  more. Effective legislation could attenuate almost all of these problems, but instead the Congress is almost solely concerned with subverting the president no matter what he tries to do while state legislatures are going backward, working to greatly restrict women’s access to abortion 40 years after Roe v. Wade (Texas), disenfranchising as many minority voters as possible a century and a half after the Emancipation Proclamation (North Carolina), and repealing regulations on firearms, with 45 states now endorsing “open carry” policies (Missouri the most recent). Again, everyone is aware of this state of affairs who isn’t living in a clothes closet. Securing large-scale changes will not be easy. Much time, hard work and persistence must go into the struggles, a strong and abiding commitment to improve our lot must be made by all, and almost all participants in the struggle will have their pocketbooks affected adversely for some time. But surely these efforts are small compared to the prospect of nuclear annihilation, cataclysmic environmental destruction, pandemics, the degradation and worse of the lives of many of our fellow human beings, and/or more civil wars both at home and overseas fought over issues of race or religion – or water. Again, then: Why? Why do so many people seem to lack the will to take a more active role in demanding positive changes for themselves and others? I want to suggest that the answer to the question lies in the moral foundations of capitalist ideology, specifically, that an ordering of people’s values necessary to morally justify the struggles to secure needed fundamental changes in American society is not compatible with the ordering embedded in our current moral thinking within the dominant ideology of capitalism. What I believe it is to be a human being in general, and how I see myself in particular jointly determine in significant measure the kind of moral positions I take, and even more basically, affect the development of my moral intuitions that contribute substantially to the eventual moral view I adopt, and the sense I have of myself, of my relation to other human beings, and my vision of a decent and just society. The vision of human beings long dominant in U.S. society has been one of free, autonomous self-interested profit-maximizing individual selves competing with one another via the free market, thus producing the best society for the kind of people we are. It is becoming increasingly clear, however, that such persons cannot even properly address the problems our country now faces, much less solve them; what is needed now are empathetic and compassionate persons interrelated rather than independent, and encumbered by responsibilities to other human beings, from family and kin outward to encompass the whole world. But such persons will embrace, must embrace, a different ordering of values than is the case for competitive autonomous individuals. Perhaps, then, it is neither apathy, weakness of will, ignorance nor immorality on the part of the American peoples that accounts for our march to dystopia, but rather their ordering of values attendant on continuing to be under the spell of an increasingly dysfunctional moral ideology with which everyone in the capitalist system has been indoctrinated since birth that is at the root of our present paralysis: few good people will struggle for changes if either the struggles or the changes basically conflict with the value-ordering in their belief system grounded in their idea of what it is to be human. If this be so, it might behoove us to look carefully at the ideological underpinnings of the capitalist economic system which so thoroughly permeate our society that it is extremely difficult to appreciate the extent to which that system has become supremely immoral as well as socially, economically and politically inefficient, and grounded in myth. These myths have influenced us so pervasively psychologically, politically and spiritually as well as economically and morally that it has become almost impossible for progressives and reactionaries alike no less than liberal and conservatives to think otherwise. But it might be worthwhile to try. The Social Significance of Ideology Every society must have a dominant ideology which includes an ordering of values, a view of what it is to be a human being, a morality, and a consequent rationale justifying the way(s) resources are produced and distributed in that society, and people interact with one another. There may well be a number of belief systems among the membership but one will have pride of place if the economy is to run smoothly, the government govern, the people not at odds in their cultural setting. To take pride in belonging to a slave society, for example, its ideology must include the belief that some human beings are naturally inferior to other human beings. Or again, gross inequalities in the distribution of goods is prima facie an untoward state of affairs, and must be rationalized, in some cases by viewing certain human beings as deserving by birthright (medieval societies ― aristocracy) or by merit (industrial capitalism – entrepreneurs). Given the inertial resistance to change in virtually every society, absent successful challenges to its dominant ideology it is doubtful that any significant alterations in dysfunctional productive forces and/or practices of a society will occur no matter how badly they are needed. If you firmly believe the values attendant on “rugged individualism” in a free, fairly unregulated  competitive economic setting are what have made America great, you are going to have a very hard time believing that addressing the problems of climate change requires large-scale governmental regulation and massive cooperative efforts over an extended period of time; it will probably be easier for you  to deny climate change. During the early industrial period the U.S. had a small population in need of immigration, had a cornucopia of resources for logging, mining and agriculture, an enormous West to be settled (after displacing the indigenous peoples living there) and later, the beginnings of mass production. The oceans and rivers were pure, the air clear, fresh water was in abundance, and we had no enemies real or imagined. In such a bountiful environment a moral ideology of “rugged individualism” could fit in with only minimal mischief. Focusing on the values of self-reliance, independence, ingenuity, competitiveness, and above all, freedom to self-interestedly seek one’s fortune in markets free and open to all (or at least non-indentured adult white males) led to undreamed of productivity and wealth production. The ruggedness mirrored the wilderness that still dominated much of the country, and the individualism was inspired by the Enlightenment in Europe and developed by the Founding Fathers of the Republic, and has been the dominant view ever since: human beings flourish maximally by competing with one another as fundamentally free, rational, autonomous, self-interested individuals who have rights (at least civil and political rights). But the United States entered a new, post-industrial era several decades ago, with its citizens now living in a globalizing, high technology, multi-ethnic and consolidating society with more of its natural resources polluted or depleted, or nearly so, and sharing the planet with 7 billion other human beings, many of whom hate us or fear us (or both), some of whom have the capability to destroy us. Yet the dominant ideology of capitalism remains basically unchanged: Human beings are fundamentally free, autonomous, rights-bearing individuals; self-interested, appropriative and competitive. Thus, throughout most of the late 19th and early 20th centuries corporations, for example (like individuals) were subsidized, unregulated, given land, and encouraged in many ways simply to seek profits because they were transforming resources into manufactures which people needed and wanted, and provided employment for a great many workers. But corporations continue to be measured by and celebrated for maximizing profits today, so even though their actions  are now significantly responsible for many of the current  problems of our society it is difficult to fault them for avoiding taxes, laying off workers whenever possible, outsourcing jobs to where labor is less costly, or polluting the environment when it is not illegal and much cheaper than cleaning it up; hoarding wealth secretly overseas; and subverting democracy by using their money to enact only those regulations that are in no one’s interest but their own. All of these activities are morally dubious at best, and destructive for government and society ― but very good for enhancing shareholder profits. And because corporations (individuals) are supposed to seek their self- interest, how can one criticize their actions, or want to more significantly regulate their behavior? The celebration rather than condemnation of such activities applies no less at the individual than at the corporate level: seek wealth to maximize your self-interest, pay not a penny more in taxes than you absolutely have to, vote against government subsidies for solar panels and do not purchase them yourself until they are considerably cheaper than continuing with an air-fouling fossil fuel. But it is OK to give an obscene amount of money if you’re wealthy enough to help elect legislators that promise to leave you alone and lower your taxes. If corporations are supposed to compete, so are individuals – for schooling, jobs, partners, good housing, celebrity, and much more. This ideology of the autonomous individual has become so deeply ingrained in us that it is almost impossible to think in other than individualistic terms (Of course I’m an individual! And free! What else could I be? Or want to be?). A related reason why it is so difficult to think outside the capitalist box is that this ideology includes the view that the only possible alternative to being a free autonomous individual in a capitalist society is to become a fettered and faceless cipher in a communist or fascist one, and how could anyone want that? But we can no longer afford or desire a capitalist ideology centered on competition and individualism, even of a less than rugged sort. It has become too dysfunctional as well as morally and metaphysically questionable, and is becoming socially disastrous. Among its many and growing shortcomings, grounding an ideology in competition by a society guarantees by definition that it will generate many losers as well as some winners, the former growing in number over time as the latter become fewer and more powerful, and steadily increasing inequality. The richness of the resources of the earth – especially in the U.S. – has allowed us to ignore that simple logical fact for well over a century, believing instead that we can substantively reduce the number of losers simply by producing more, hence there being no need to speak of more equitable distributions of wealth. But many resources are now in short supply, a number of our purple mountains are no longer majestic, many of our plains bear little fruit. It is becoming much more expensive to exploit the remainder at an increased profit (the only goal of entrepreneurs and corporations) and thus if privatization of the water supply becomes the only way people can secure potable water we may expect more and more poor people at home and abroad to die of thirst in the future (In some areas, the near future). Clearly – or so it seems to me at least ― as water grows more scarce it must be collectively conserved and equitably shared. But that will require cooperative efforts on a major scale, with government orchestrating much of the cooperative efforts, in which case properly funding the government should be undertaken willingly, for it is only with the government’s assistance that I am able to meet my responsibilities as my brother’s keeper (and sister’s, too). We would look askance at those who grudged the government its needed funds. But if I only see you as another autonomous individual acting in your own self-interest it is not rational for me to believe I am responsible for you or your sister in any way,(except to leave you alone), nor that the government is anything but a necessary evil to adjudicate clashes between competitors and protect them all from foreign interference. Hence there will be no moral qualms about paying as little in taxes as I legally can as often as possible, compete to the max at all times, and instead of feeling ashamed, rest content by invoking the well-known rebarbative capitalist saying, “Nice guys finish last.” Do we have other ideological options with which to confront today’s realities? It will do no good to criticize the model of human beings as competitive, free and autonomous individual selves if we have no real alternatives of a more cooperative nature to contemplate, so I will proffer one below, taken from early Confucian China of 2500 years ago. This alternative presents a very different account of who we are as persons, but will not require taking on a whole new set of values, for such is impossible;we can only engage in dialogue with each other on the assumption that many or most of our values are held in common, but ranked differently. U.S. citizens who rank privacy very high are much more appalled by the NSA spying activities revealed by Edward Snowden than security-oriented others, but that doesn’t mean they both value only one of the two. We must thus all endeavor to rethink and reorder our values in keeping with our circumstances and our humanity, values it is reasonable to assume all normal human beings share, once they can get over the vision of human beings as isolated, self-interested individuals. Values and Value Orderings Each person values many human qualities and behaviors (in addition to material things), sufficient in number and variety to form an inconsistent set. We should not assert both that “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” and “You’re never too old to learn.” But the inconsistency holds only when asserting both statements at the same time with respect to the same situation. We do believe there are circumstances in which each of the statements would be altogether appropriate. If your grandfather has always believed Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the worst and most dangerous president the U.S. has ever had, and complains about it at every family gathering, then pointing out the salutary effects of the New Deal will almost certainly be a waste of time. On the other hand, if, upon his retirement he expressed an interest in learning to play the violin, it would clearly behoove the family to chip in and buy one for him, and secure a teacher thereof. This is no more than to say that neither adage quoted above about teaching the elderly should be taken as a universal principle, but that both are appropriate to invoke and act on at times. We tend to believe, in other words, that certain qualities and behaviors of others deserve praise (or blame) at different times in differing situations. Morality is neither universal nor relative, but it is plural, determinatively so. It needs few if any universal principles, but much particularistic attentiveness relative to our fellow human beings and environmental circumstances. As this homely example shows, we will do better in thinking about morality if we avoid the dichotomy right/wrong, and instead think in terms of appropriate/inappropriate. An appropriate ideology for the world of the 21st century could provide a vision of  human beings basically not as competitors but cooperators, not as actors but interactors and consequently not isolated and autonomous but interdependent and interrelated; not self-reliant and alone, but as benefactor and beneficiary of others; not free (to do as we choose), but encumbered (to meet our responsibilities). And we would thus re-order our values accordingly. If we see human beings as basically competitors, “May the best man win” will loom large in our value ordering; but in a world with shrinking resources perhaps the adage should be replaced by “It isn’t whether you win or lose, but how you play the game that counts;” It is much less important now for children to learn the insight of “Every man’s home is his castle,” than to come to feel and appreciate the truth of “No man is an island.”  Christian parents especially should devote less time describing the Deity with “God helps them that help themselves,” and more with the injunction to “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”   I suspect that every one of my readers will acknowledge the “truth” of each of the quoted statements, even though they are inconsistent together. That is to say, virtually everyone will agree that cooperative values are not at all alien to us despite living in the competitive, profit-seeking “sweet land of liberty.”  This suggests fairly strongly that developing a new (or very old) ethical orientation will be less difficult if we stop thinking about different peoples and cultures having to take on an entirely new set of values, which can seem plausible only if we believe we are all autonomous individuals and therefore my values reflect only my individual interests, not yours. It might be better (and more accurate) to think of different people in the same or different cultures having different orderings of values virtually every human being holds at some level, or may be presumed to hold. This orientation thus paves the conceptual way for dialogue inter-and intra-culturally, not on the merits of the values alone, but equally on the basis of which value ordering best reflects the physical demands of the entire society, and what place the other values can take therein.  Otherwise we will end up with paralyzing endless debate eventuating in a mindless relativism – anything goes ― or “the one true morality” being imposed by the group with the most machine guns. There is more that is societally dysfunctional with the ideology undergirding American capitalism. It is grounded in a moral individualism that stresses freedom, choice, rationality, personal responsibility, autonomy, independence, competitiveness, self-interest and self-reliance, and success, all of which we are led to believe are very good things, But they can no longer be ranked at the top of our value-ordering today. They isolate us from society and each other, stress competitive attitudes, and allot high marks – or at least high tolerance ― to extravagance, encourages everyone to seek wealth, places independence and freedom as the highest values and thus seriously undermines efforts at achieving social justice, fetishizes material goods and allows people to fully respect other people’s rights simply by ignoring them. (Of course you have a right to speak, but not to have me listen). Such an ordering of values justifies capitalist economic, political and legal systems, but is no longer in keeping with the new American reality, and requires ever greater amounts of propaganda governmental and corporate to keep it going. Yet giving these values a lower place in our overall belief system, although necessary, might well be difficult for some people because the pull of the vision of human beings as free, autonomous, rights-holding competitive individuals remains strong. Thus we must examine it in closer detail both in the abstract and concretely to establish its present mythical and mischievous nature before taking up a more cooperatively-oriented and, I will argue, assuredly more realistic Confucian alternative. Warning: As we proceed, you might come to think you are not who you think you are. Individualism in Theory That we are all social creatures, strongly influenced by the others with whom we interact, has always been acknowledged on all sides, but has only very rarely been taken as of any real consequence at the moral and political (and metaphysical) level. Nor, for most foundational individualists, can our social selves be of compelling worth, because our concrete circumstances are for the most part accidental, in that we have exercised no control over them – i.e., who our parents are, the native language we speak, our citizenship, and so forth. Consequently what must give human beings their primary worth, their dignity, integrity and value as individual selves on this account – and what must command the respect of all – is their ability to act purposively, to have a capacity for self-governance as well as self-awareness, i.e., they must have autonomy, and of course in order to be autonomous, human beings must be free, and rational, i.e., not merely governed by instinct, or passion.       This morally, politically and metaphysically fleshed-out concept of the self as a free, rational autonomous individual has clearly been the foundation for virtually all modern and contemporary Western moral and political theories beginning with Thomas Hobbes. We cannot speak of duties or obligations if we do not have the freedom to meet them. We cannot command respect if it is merely instinct that impels us to our duties (It seldom makes sense to say that we have an obligation to make love or duty to urinate). We must have been able to have chosen otherwise than to do our duty; else we could not be autonomous. And above all we must be capable of being described, analyzed and evaluated on our own, as individuals. If everyone has the highly valued qualities of freedom, rationality and autonomy associated with the concept of the individual self, and it is just these qualities we must respect at all times, then, aside from minor details, their sexual orientation, age, ethnicity, religion, skin color, and so on, should not play any significant role in our decisions about how to act with them morally and politically. It is not simply that these qualities are contingent for each of us; details aside, they are irrelevant, too. On this account it seems incumbent upon us to seek principles for our morals and politics that are applicable to all peoples at all times, or else the hope of a world at peace, devoid of group conflicts, racism, sexism, homophobia and ethnocentrism supposedly could never be realized. This is an impressive vision, and the values ordered in it have much to recommend them. We have now been living with this ideology of the unencumbered individual under the umbrella of capitalism for almost two centuries, and the living conditions of tens of millions of people have improved considerably during that time. But U.S. capitalism has also been responsible for no small number of horrors as well – think, for instances, of  slavery, slaughters of Native Americans, colonization, sweatshops, Bhopal, and militarily from  the large-scale killings at Dresden and Hiroshima and Nagasaki to My Lai and Falluja; the benefits of capitalism have come at a high and often dehumanizing cost. But far and away the most significant weakness of the account of human beings as free autonomous individual selves is that it is almost certainly false as a description of what flesh and blood human beings are actually like. Individualism in Practice: Who Am I? Much of the time there is little I feel more certain about than the fact that I have an individual self, that there is an essential me that is unique and unchanging even as I age, and that I am free, have memories of my past, make my decisions for myself most of the time hence am autonomous, and can be rational when I work at it. Ergo, the capitalist account of what it is to be a human being must be at least roughly right. Until I start thinking a little more carefully, and deeply. The more I try to specify what, exactly, is essential for me to be me, what makes me unique, the harder it becomes to do so. What do I have that makes me like no other? After several futile efforts to answer the question I begin to recall the views of the Scottish thinker David Hume, who took very seriously the basic tenet of empiricism, namely, that all  knowledge comes from sense experience, from which it must follow that we cannot have knowledge of ourselves, for that would require that we be experiencer, experience  and experienced simultaneously, which is impossible: no wonder I become tongue-tied when I try to say who I am, unlike any other. Is Hume wrong? At a nonphilosophical level, it is admittedly hard for me not to believe there is something very basic to my being who I am —something without which I would seem not be Henry Rosemont, Jr. and no other. Yet the more I try to specify with any precision or clarity what that something is, the more difficult it becomes to do so. What do I ‘have’ that makes me just who I am and no one else? I can say that I am a Rhode Islander, a Democrat, Cubs fan, professor; all true enough, but I can leave or join any number of  groups and still believe there is an essential me substantially unchanged from before, only now unique in slightly different, secondary or tertiary ways. The bedeviling question remains: Who am I, specifically,that belongs to these groups? At first blush we may be inclined to identify our unique individuality by reference to our many memories. Nobody, supposedly, can have exactly the same memories that I have. Everyone has a vast store of memories, however, so we may need to rephrase the question in a somewhat more focused manner: Which memories make me who I am? To appreciate the bite of this challenge fully I want to switch from the first to the second person personal pronoun, and ask you to answer it for yourself, dear reader: What makes you an individual self like no other? As you attempt to describe for me what it is about you that is unique I suspect you will be befuddled for an answer, at least at first, just as I was,  when you begin to realize the difficulty of narrowing down the set of possible  “yous” to the one in which you are the sole member. You can’t invoke your memories, because you almost surely will not think you have lost your individual self if you contract amnesia, suffer from acute self-deception, are bi-polar, or become comatose after an accident, for example. But even without these cases, invoking memory for self-identity is dubious. Consider as a quick thought experiment, that your entire memory bank can be examined, and its contents enumerated, and that you memories that you can actually recall to mind are exactly the sum of every 250th of this vast inventory. From this it follows, if you link your self-identity fundamentally to your memory, that the set of every 250th memory bits is uniquely who you are. But subsequently suffering a severe electric shock your memory shifts, and you can no longer call up any of the 250th memory bits at all, but instead now every 735th can be brought to consciousness. Do you believe you will be an altogether different person? Why or why not? There is much more. We of course tend strongly to think that apart from the aging process we are not  very different persons at different stages of our life, or with different memories. Imagine a person in his early fifties reflecting on what he might have done instead of going to law school and then becoming a practicing attorney for the next 25 years, getting married, raising children, leading a typical upper middle class life. Although the details will be different, I suspect that a great many people have engaged in imagining other life paths they might have followed in this way, altogether naturally. But again, to think about the matter more deeply is to realize that it makes no sense to imagine what you might have hoped, dreamed, feared or expected  had you not become a lawyer, because you did  become a lawyer, and your lawyerly  life over the past thirty years has had a profound impact on the hopes, dreams, fears and expectations you now have, but  wouldn’t have  now with respect to what you might have thought about being then. But we do not need to focus solely on the ghostly I of self-identity: what kind of individual self is a thoroughgoing amnesiac? Or think of Alhzeimer’s patients. In a recent book on the subject, Sue Halpern noted that when signs of the disease begin to show, [T]his is when you begin to say that someone is not herself.  We even say this about ourselves, But how can that be?... How can you be anything but yourself?  The obvious, rational answer is that you can’t.... You are only yourself now. And what if that self is one that can’t remember itself? What if that person you had been is only a memory... held by others? Reductionistts will also insist there can be no such thing as a self, sometimes stated a bit extravagantly, as with Francis Crick of double-helix fame, who wrote: The Astonishing Hypotheis is that “You,” your joys and your sorrows, your memories and ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will are in fact no more than he behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. Thomas Metzinger in his interdisciplinary monograph entitled Being No One in which he straddles the empirical sciences and the humanities, neurosciences and philosophy of mind, takes the challenge to the notion of self a step further when he summarizes the research underlying his book rather starkly in the following terms: “This is a book about consciousness, the phenomenal self, and the first-person perspective. Its main thesis is that no such thing as selves exist in the world: Nobody was or had a self.” The problem as Metzinger sees it is mistaking  phenomenal experience itself for a superordinate self—that is, “treating vehicle and content” as being something more than“two strongly interrelated aspects of one and the same phenomenon.” As Metzinger insists:   It is simply not true that everyone has a rough idea of what the “consciousness” refers to. In my own experience, for example, the most frequent misunderstanding lies in confusing phenomenal experience as such with what philosophers call “reflexive self-consciousness,” the actualized capacity to cognitively refer to yourself, using some sort of concept-like or quasi-linguistic kind of mental structure. In short, it appears that it is very difficult to describe what it is to be an individual self – for ourselves or for others – and yet we are inclined to continue to believe that every human being is, or can be uniquely identifiable in isolation from all other human beings, and therefore there must always be a clear answer to the question “Who am I?” for each of us. But perhaps this belief is less grounded in fact than it is a presupposition that we make before looking for facts to support the belief:  We feel in advance that there must  be an answer to the identity questions, an unreflective assumption so common as to not even be seen as such. It is equally ubiquitous among many professional philosophers and psychologists, as the philosopher John Greenwood has noted from his own survey research on issues of identity: About the only thing that many philosophical and psychological accounts of identity do have in common is a commitment to psychological atomism – the doctrine that psychological states can exist and be individuated independently of their relation to other psychological states; and individualism – the doctrine that persons can exist and be individuated independently of their relation to other persons, and that social collectives are nothing more than aggregates of individuals. This is also true of most avowedly “social” theories of personal identity based on “cognitive labeling.” There is another, even more important reason for wanting everyone to ask “Who am I?” and “Who are you?” as personal questions for themselves that have serious  consequences. That reason lies in the self-fulfilling nature of the answer we are inclined to give to the question itself. That is to say, the more we believe we really are fundamentally individual selves, in the end independent of all others, the more easily we can become such. The extent to which people think of themselves as being separate and distinct from all of their fellow human beings is surely psycho-physical in significant measure, but is just as surely influenced – perhaps very heavily influenced – by their family environments and cultural milieu with specific circumstances therein. Which is the greater determinant of self-definition I do not know; but clearly the more our society sends strong signals ― via political speeches, advertisements, literature and the like ― that we are unique, individual selves, free, autonomous, rational and self-interested, the more likely we are to think of ourselves as such. Aldous Huxley put the matter clearly and bluntly: We live together, we act on, and react to, one another; but always and in all circumstances we are by ourselves. The martyrs go hand in hand into the arena; they are crucified alone. This is a frightening scenario. Happily, it is not necessary to live with it. I certainly have not proved that the autonomous individual self is a mischievous fiction (although many more arguments for that conclusion can be adduced). But I hope readers can at least appreciate that the isolated individualist model is by no means certainly true, and indeed may be altogether false, serving largely as propaganda for a capitalist ideology that must be replaced if we are to meet the manifold problems threatening the U.S. and the world now. We may still accept the individualist model, but must realize that such is a choice to do so, for other options are available, with differing moral implications. To one such option we will turn in the second part of this essay. Henry Rosemont, Jr. is Visiting Scholar of Religious Studies at Brown. His most recent book is Against Individualism: A Confucian Rethinking of the Foundations of Morality. Politics, the Family and Religion, from which parts of the present article have drawn .Full documentation for all material herein can be obtained from the author: [email protected] -- 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.

18 октября, 12:02

How low can Trump go in the polls?

New surveys suggest the GOP nominee is perilously close to a historic rebuke.

17 октября, 19:26

Выселение Японцев

Оригинал взят у grits_rus в Кадр из историиВскоре после того, как Япония атаковала американскую военно-морскую базу Перл-Харбор, что ознаменовало начало участия США во Второй мировой войне, президент Франклин Делано Рузвельт подписал исполнительный указ номер 9066. Этот документ наделял военного министра правом присваивать определенным областям статус зоны военных действий и перемещать людей из этих местностей по своему усмотрению.Вскоре буквально всё в пределах ста миль от западного побережья подлежало выселению. На американских граждан японского происхождения распространялся комендантский час и заморозка банковских счетов. К маю 1942 года всем японцам и американцам японского происхождения было предписано явиться в сборочные центры для «эвакуации» в «центры переселения», что на самом деле означало принудительное заключение в концентрационные лагеря.

17 октября, 14:43

Лучшим ответом на агрессию России будет политика сдерживания, – Financial Times

Отношения между США и Россией опустились до самой низкой планки за последние 30 лет. С того момента, когда президенты Рональд Рейган и Михаил Горбачев начали делать шаги для завершения Холодной войны, отношения между Москвой и […]

17 октября, 14:05

Лучшим ответом на агрессию России будет политика сдерживания – FT

Экономика стала наиболее уязвимым российским местом, поэтому действительно сильные санкции причинят Кремлю боль.

16 октября, 19:47

Президенты на скале

Оригинал взят у proshakov в Президенты на скалеГора Рашмор – громадный своими размерами монумент, произведение искусства и чудо инженерной мысли одновременно. Гигантские бюсты президентов Джорджа Вашингтона, Томаса Джефферсона, Теодора Рузвельта и Авраама Линкольна олицетворяют собой не только первые 150 лет истории США, но и напоминают о том, что создание памятника такого масштаба требовало инженерно-технического и строительного ноу-хау. Автор монумента использовал различные механические инструменты и технику взрывных работ для достижения своей цели. Каждое лицо достигает высоты свыше 18 метров, при этом все они высечены с мельчайшими деталями. Полвека после завершения, Гора Рашмор остается одной из наиболее известных символов Америки. Национальный мемориал ежегодно посещают около трех миллионов человек.Историка Доана Робинсона часто называют "отцом Горы Рашмор". В 1923 году, ради привлечения туристов в Южную Дакоту, он впервые выступил с предложением создать монументальные скульптуры индейского вождя Красное Облако, американских исследователей Льюиса и Кларка, или других известных личностей эпохи покорения Дикого Запада. Робинсон поделился своей идеей со скульптором Гудзоном Борглумом, известный созданием высеченных изображений на камне. Борглум согласился принять участие в проекте при условии создания чего-то большего. Он хотел создать памятник, увековечивающий американскую историю. И самый оптимальный вариант для этого - создание скульптур великих политических деятелей страны. Выбор пал на фигуры Джорджа Вашингтона, Томаса Джефферсона, Теодора Рузвельта и Авраама Линкольна. Борглум приступил к работе в 1927 году и продолжал ее 14 лет вплоть до своей смерти в 1941. Гору Рашмор преобразовали с помощью динамита, стоимость работ составила почти $1 000 000 - огромная сумма денег по тем временам.Статую Джорджа Вашингтона торжественно открыли 4 июля 1934 года.Президент Франклин Рузвельт открыл статую Томаса Джефферсона в 1936 году.17 сентября 1937 года, в честь 150 годовщины подписания Конституции, открыли статую Авраама Линкольна.Фигуру Теодора Рузвельта торжественно открыли в 1939 году. В том же году установили ночное освещение мемориала1929 группа архитекторов во главе с Борглумом (справа). 1927 взрывы1930 Борглум в своей студии31 мая 1932 на лбу Вашингтона19351936 работа над глазами Томаса Джефферсона23 ноября 1935 Борглум и его сын Линкольн193619371937 голова Линкольна16 сентября 1936 Рузвельт посетил гору Рашмор и открыл скульптуру Джефферсона194019291929193519401941

14 октября, 07:02

Как Америку Кондратьев Хватил

Статья с реакционера.ру В это конечно трудно поверить, но несмотря на полное отсутствие реалистичной информации и какой-либо реальной аналитики в Западных Масс-Медиа, в Америке еще существуют люди, которые помнят, что форма государственного правления в...

14 октября, 00:55

Office Seekers Beware: It Is A Rough Road Ahead

So you want to run for office, shake up Washington and clean out the political stables? Then prepare to subject yourself and your family, possibly your old paramours, to the rigors of a very rough ride. Little of what you will endure will have much, if anything, to do with your fitness to govern. Expect abuse, distortion, rejection and exhaustion. Get ready to eat bad food, struggle to remember names, endure bores, suffer poorly prepared reporters and watch the money flow out. Steel yourself against crises you never dreamed of and betrayals you never thought possible. All this before a single vote is cast and the prize is won or lost. If you are after national office, you will need professional campaign help. The first thing you will be asked is not what you believe, but how much money do you have? Second question: Do you know any wealthy people who might back you or have indicated they might be prepared to contribute to your campaign? If your answers are in the affirmative, you are on the way to becoming a candidate. After the money issue is settled, then you can get into the details: your party affiliation and your relationship, if any, with the local party apparatus. What the professionals will not tell you is just how awful running for office can be; being lied about, being besmirched, having your private life picked over, having your spouse examined as though he or she were the candidate. Any skeletons in the closet can be expected to come out, pointing bony fingers at you. Youthful indiscretions, boisterous behavior of yore, padded resumes, driving offenses, unpaid taxes, taxes not paid for domestics and your religion, or the lack of it, are all fair game to your opponents and the media. Your privacy will be violated in ghastly creative ways, like having your garbage sifted through, your telephone hacked and, God forbid, if you have said anything impolitic or off-color on Facebook: It will be front page tomorrow. Think hard about the times when you advocated causes, like gun control, that are now too hot to handle. Everything you ever thought aloud can turn into a smoking gun. A paper trail can be incendiary. A 30-year-old photograph of you mooning the flag may be curtains for you. Selfies have lethal possibilities. You will think the media is out to get you; those nice people at the newspaper may seem to grow horns and those unscripted TV interviews are journeys through the mine field. If it is any comfort, the media is not out to get you, nor is it out to help you. It is out to get a story. Bad information may be fed to the media by your opponent's campaign or dug up by reporters themselves. You will be in The Overton Window, also known as The Window of Discourse. It is a concept developed Joseph Overton, the late conservative political scientist, which identified political and social issues acceptable for discussion. Thirty years ago, for example, gay marriage was not in the window. In the time of Franklin Roosevelt, Americans with disabilities were not in the window. And in the time of John Kennedy, sexual peccadilloes were not in it. Today the window is wide open: everything allowed. However, this presidential election, where nothing has not been mentioned, may have reduced the shock value of how lives have been led. We may be at a watershed in private-life-as-political-fodder. Donald Trump has been married three times and has had some questionable business episodes, Hillary Clinton has had her time in government cruelly dissected, and it has been suggested that she was an enabler of her husband's infidelities. The window is wide open now, but it may be closing because of the excesses of this election. So why would anyone run for office? Because it is the most exciting, adrenaline-fueled time that those who are prepared to pay the price will ever have. You will be on a steed galloping across the battlefield of ideas. If you win, you can affect things. If you lose, well, you will have enjoyed an exhilaration like none other. Go for it - and implore your spouse's forgiveness. -- For InsideSources -- 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.

13 октября, 18:19

The Lincoln-Clinton-Trump Debate

A third candidate made it to the 2016 presidential debate stage after all, at least for last Sunday night's face-off in St. Louis. Wisely or not, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both managed to summon Abraham Lincoln to their furious dust-up at Washington University. Lincoln's name hasn't been mentioned as often at a major political debate since Stephen A. Douglas pummeled him during their own seven, three-hour-long marathons in 1858 Illinois. Lincoln, who built his political career as a fierce debater, might well have been pleased that both of the 2016 presidential candidates cited him, but surely would have pointed out that only one of them comprehends his legacy. And it is not his "fellow" Republican. Hillary Clinton called forth the ghost of Lincoln first, after being asked to explain a newly released WikiLeaks transcript of one of her pre-campaign speeches to bankers. Apparently she told that audience that politicians might justifiably deploy one approach publicly, and another privately, in order to achieve important goals. Abraham Lincoln, as she pointed out during last night's debate, had pursued the same approach in pushing the constitutional amendment banning slavery. To make sure Congress approved it before Union armies could force Confederate forces to surrender--a triumph some feared would ease the pressure to destroy the horrific institution that had caused the war in the first place--the agile president moved on several fronts at once. First, he made sure his party endorsed abolition in its 1864 platform. That alone constituted his public campaign for freedom. Knowing the real fight would be waged among lame duck members of the House of Representatives, he lobbied fiercely, often secretly, offering outgoing Democratic Congressmen life-saving federal jobs in exchange for "aye" votes and perhaps, as some have alleged, allowing money to change hands when absolutely necessary. When the Confederate government unexpectedly dispatched negotiators toward Washington shortly before the scheduled vote to propose an armistice, Lincoln secretly ordered them detained at Fort Monroe, Virginia. The next day he baldly misled the House by reporting, in writing: "So far as I know, there are no peace commissioners in the city, or likely to be in it." Left in the dark about the stranded negotiators, the House resumed deliberations, passed the amendment, and sent it to the states for ratification. To the public, Lincoln emerged with clean hands. Insiders knew better. But the president believed the ends more than justified the means. Slavery was finally on its way to extinction--"a great moral victory," he told an adoring crowd, "a King's cure for all the evils." Mrs. Clinton had little time to relate this complex story last night. Instead she spoke of Stephen Spielberg's 2012 film, Lincoln, which focused so brilliantly on this neglected episode. (Perhaps it is no coincidence that, as the movie made clear, another hero had played a major role in Lincoln's crusade: an earlier Secretary of State, William H. Seward, once a New York Senator favored to become president, who had been beaten out by an unknown, untested underdog from Illinois, and then accepted the chief Cabinet post from the victor. History really does repeat itself.) Trump not surprisingly expressed outrage. How dare Mrs. Clinton mention "the late, great Lincoln," as he described him? When she tried to explain the allusion, Trump muttered something like, "You're no Honest Abe." But while Mrs. Clinton may have expressed her point imperfectly, Trump missed it entirely. It is absolutely "honest" to remind voters that our most accomplished presidents--Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson, to name three--used the bully pulpit and political arm-twisting in tandem to achieve momentous results, and that sometimes the messages they conveyed to each audience did not synchronize. Hillary's effort to convince bankers that reform might eventually help expand their markets was an ingenious tactic indeed; maybe even Lincolnian. We still need presidents who can bring resistant communities into the big tent. Predictably, Trump's rejoinder made little sense. Yes, Lincoln was known by the sobriquet "Honest Abe," and used his reputation for truthfulness to advance his political career. But in the rough and tumble of politics, he was as ruthless as the next guy--more so. (Warning to Mr. Trump: Lincoln also introduced the first federal income tax.) Nor was the St. Louis debate the first time the two candidates have summoned Lincoln into their respective campaigns, and hardly the first time Lincoln has become an issue in a race for the presidency. Back in 1912, in his third-party campaign for a White House comeback, Theodore Roosevelt repeatedly stressed his fealty to vigorous, Lincolnian executive authority. In response, Republican William Howard Taft journeyed to Vermont to receive the blessing of the Great Emancipator's son, Robert T. Lincoln, by then a Gilded Age tycoon appalled by TR's anti-business populism. Not to be outdone, Democrat Woodrow Wilson hinted that he was the best equipped to carry on Lincoln's legacy of sectional reconciliation. (Warning: such promises often mean little. Once elected, Wilson re-segregated the federal bureaucracy, gave a "Gettysburg Address" at the battle's 50th anniversary without once mentioning slavery or black rights, and lauded the retrograde D. W. Griffith movie, Birth of a Nation.) In the 1930s, Franklin D. Roosevelt offered himself as the heir to Lincoln's legacy of love for the common man. During his campaign for re-election, FDR accomplished what was then considered a political miracle by convincing African Americans to abandon their generations-long loyalty to the "Party of Lincoln." They have been overwhelmingly Democratic ever since. Then in 1960, at perhaps the most famous presidential debate of all, the first between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon, the young Democrat startled the audience of millions by summoning the revered Republican in his opening statement. Lincoln had said the nation could not endure half slave and half free, Kennedy began. The challenge today was "whether the world will exist half slave and half free." Perhaps no presidential candidate more overtly identified himself with Lincoln--or had more right to do so--than Barack Obama. Announcing his candidacy from the steps of the Old Illinois Capitol--the very site where Lincoln had delivered the "House Divided Address"--he declared: "Divided, we are bound to fail. But the life of a tall, gangly, self-made Springfield lawyer tells us that a different future is possible. He tells us that...beneath all the differences of race and region, faith and station, we are one people.... Together, standing today, let us finish the work that needs to be done, and usher in a new birth of freedom on this earth." Lincoln's notion of "unfinished work" has animated Hillary Clinton's campaign as well. Asked at the outset to name her all-time favorite president, she joked: "Sorry, President Obama; sorry Bill. Abraham Lincoln." Turning serious, she called him the president "who understood profoundly...the importance of government playing its role in providing opportunities." Introducing her economic plan in New York, she specifically endorsed Lincoln's goal of "clearing the path of laudable pursuit for all--to give all a fair chance in the race of life." By comparison, Donald Trump's comments about Lincoln to date have been--to be charitable--uninformed. Challenged over his temperament in March, Trump bristled: "I will be more presidential than anybody other than the great Abe Lincoln," adding: "He was very presidential, right?" But what had made Lincoln presidential? Explained Trump: he was "a man that did something that was a very vital thing to do at that time. Ten years before or twenty years before, what he was doing would never have been thought possible. So he did something that was a very important thing to do, and especially at that time." "The challenges we face today do not approach those of Lincoln's time," Hillary Clinton admitted in a speech in Springfield in July. "Not even close. But recent events have left people across America asking hard questions about whether we are still a house divided." Lincoln worked hard to unite the house, even if he sometimes acted like a "politician" to reach his goals. But that is a nuanced history, and sadly, if voters ever knew it, many have forgotten it. Lincoln could lob catch phrases that resonated with his contemporaries and future generations alike. But when it came to the daunting task of being president, he chose substance over style, and worked hard--both before the public and behinds the scenes--to save the Union and destroy slavery. Yes, he had his debate moments as well--some of them so barbed they are all but recognizable today as "Lincolnian." In truth, the legendary Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858 were much more like the toxic presidential debates of 2016--in tone, if not in the length of the candidates' remarks--than we may care to admit. But even in that roiling milieu, Lincoln could sometimes soar to great heights--particularly when his opponent denied that the American promise of equal rights was essential to both our founding and our future (sound familiar?). In response, Lincoln charged of his opponent: "he is blowing the moral lights around us...eradicating the love of liberty in this American people... [T]hat ends the chapter." If only. The moral lights are flickering again. Perhaps Lincoln--if truly understood--can illuminate the right path again. -- 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.

11 октября, 07:15

Эксперт: Трампу удалось удержаться в седле

Директор Фонда изучения США имени Франклина Рузвельта при МГУ Юрий Рогулев считает, что республиканцу Дональду Трампу удалось удержаться в седле. Об этом он заявил, комментируя второй тур дебатов между кандидатами в президенты США. По его словам, Трамп не допустил предсказанного многими разгрома от своей конкурентки от демократов Хиллари Клинтон. «Хотя почти треть всего времени была посвящена личным вопросам и характеристикам, и это непропорционально много. Этот скандал и последовавшая кампания в СМИ, безусловно, будут стоить Трампу определенного процента голосов электората, особенно женской его части. Но он не вылетел из кампании с треском, и в этом есть его заслуга», - сказал эксперт в интервью «СП». Он подчеркнул, что Трамп выглядел достаточно уверенным, а по ряду вопросов даже смог сорвать аплодисменты аудитории, поэтому бесспорного триумфа Клинтон не добилась. ЧИТАЙТЕ ТАКЖЕ: (статья) Трампа могут убить Ранее сообщалось, что во время дебатов на бровь Клинтон села муха.  Читайте подробнее в материале «СП» «Дональд Трамп остается в игре». 

03 февраля, 17:23

Нацистские связи семьи Буш

Прескотт Буш, дед Джорджа Буша младшего, и Джордж Герберт Уолкер, его прадед, в честь которого был назван его отец, сотрудничали с нацистами, и которых должны были судить за государственную измену. Прескотт Буш – дед Джорджа Буша младшего и отец Джорджа Буша старшего. Джордж Буш старший или Джордж Герберт Уолкер Буш получил имя своего деда Джорджа Герберта Уолкера.

25 ноября 2015, 20:25

Как США выходили из Великой депрессии.

Рыночные условия.Как США выходили из Великой депрессииВеликая депрессия остается классическим примером финансового кризиса рыночной экономики. Изучение методов выхода из неё, которые были применены разными странами, может оказаться полезным для проверки моделей кризиса на соответствие реальности. Модель финансового кризиса в виде роста денежного пузыря должна быть проверена на основе анализа имеющихся исторических материалов, показывающих, как развивались предыдущие кризисы и какие меры оказались успешными в их преодолении. Наиболее интересным является опыт ведущих экономик мира. В данной статье речь пойдет о США.ГУВЕР Распространённая легенда, будто администрация Гувера в условиях кризиса бездействовала, весьма далека от реальности. Президент Гувер не стал уповать на саморегулирование экономики и решил смягчить удары кризиса с помощью активного государственного вмешательства. Он развил бурную деятельность". Уже в ноябре 1929 года был обнародован президентский план «Направить мощь государства на спасение экономики». Предполагалась активная государственная поддержка банковской системы, промышленности и сельского хозяйства. Только Сельскохозяйственной сбытовой ассоциации, созданной в 1929-м, было выделено 600 миллионов долларов кредитов. Правительство Г. Гувера пыталось ослабить действие кризиса путем оказания финансовой помощи банкирам и промышленникам, чтобы спасти их от банкротства. Была создана «Реконструктивная финансовая корпорация», которая, кредитуя кампании, истратила миллиарды долларов, спасая от неминуемого банкротства неплатежеспособные банки, предприятия, железные дороги и фермерские хозяйства. Скачок государственных расходов при Гувере был самым большим за всю американскую историю в мирное время. 9 марта 1931 г. был принят чрезвычайный закон о банках, главным положение которого было предоставление Федерально-резервной системой США (аналог Центрального банка) займов частным банкам. Одновременно были предприняты меры по предотвращению массового изъятия вкладов из банков. Установлен запрет на экспорт золота. Проведены банковские каникулы, т.е. почти все банки были закрыты для проведения финансовой проверки (не путайте эти каникулы с банковскими каникулами Рузвельта, см. ниже). После нее к концу марта 80% банков было открыто, а 20% ликвидировано. Но это помогло мало. В последний год своего президентства Гувер отчаянно пытался реализовать другие планы по оздоровлению банковской системы. Однако не получилось, так как для принятия решения в Конгрессе было необходимо заручиться поддержкой демократического большинства. Вторым пунктом была справедливая социальная политика. Осенью 1929 года президент провел ряд встреч с крупными промышленниками и заставил их торжественно пообещать не снижать заработную плату своим работникам. Обещание честно выполнялось до лета 1931-го. В 1930-м было предпринято снижение налогов: налоги семейного американца с доходом в 4000 долларов упали на 2/3. Всячески поощрялась гуманитарная деятельность муниципальных структур и частная благотворительность. Наконец, были организованы масштабные общественные работы по строительству инфраструктурных объектов. Уже весной 1930-го на общественные работы было выделено 750 миллионов долларов — баснословная сумма. Повсеместно возводились новые административные здания. За четыре года президентства Гувера в США затеяли больше крупных строек, чем за предыдущие 30 лет. Именно при Гувере началось строительство моста «Золотые ворота» в Сан-Франциско и гигантской плотины на реке Колорадо. А теперь сравните с планом Обамы. Очень похоже. Не правда ли? Тщетно пыталось изъять с рынка излишки сельскохозяйственной продукции образованное правительством «Федеральное фермерское бюро», оказавшее практически помощь лишь крупным фермерам. Следующим элементом плана была защита национального производителя. В 1930 году был принят закон Смута-Холи о таможенных тарифах, внесенный однопартийцами президента сенаторами Смутом и Хоули и вводивший высокие таможенные пошлины на импортные товары. Новые таможенные пошлины, одобренные Гувером, были рекордно высокими, а круг охватываемых товаров — рекордно широким. В итоге объем импорта сократился в несколько раз. Между тем, сейчас этот закон, считают одним из факторов, подстегнувших наступление Великой депрессии. Высокий таможенный тариф способствовал резкому сокращению ввоза в США товаров из-за границы. Это в свою очередь снизило и без того неважную покупательную способность населения, а также вынудило другие страны применить контрмеры, навредившие американским экспортерам – иностранцы в ответ ввели тарифы против США. Все это привело к сокращению международной торговли. В результате все экономики проиграли и ещё больше усугубили кризис. Потом, как обычно, все свои внутренние беды в массовом сознании американцы свалили на происки иностранцев. Именно поэтому главным решением двадцатки в ноябре 2008 года был мораторий на протекционистские меры в течение года. По мере развития Великой депрессии в наиболее пострадавших странах стали принимать меры по недопущению Великой депрессии в будущем, поняли опасность зависимости от США. Поэтому там установили контроль за иностранным капиталом, возник государственный сектор экономики и кое-где было ограничено господство латифундистов, особенно в Бразилии, Чили, Мексике… В Мексике реформы были настолько глубоки, что были национализированы железные дороги, нефтяная промышленность. Лишь в середине 30-х годов после вступления в силу Закона о соглашениях о взаимной торговле, существенно снизившем таможенные пошлины, международная торговля начала восстанавливаться, оказывая позитивное влияние на мировую экономику.К чему же привели героические попытки мистера Гувера уменьшить масштабы кризиса? Несмотря на принятые меры, началась дефляция — общее снижение индекса цен за 1929-1932 г. составило 25%. Хотя учетная ставка последовательно снижалась с 6% в октябре 1929 г. до 1,5% в сентябре 1931 г. В 1932 году депрессия достигла апогея: 12 миллионов безработных, двукратное сокращение промышленного производства, тысячи разорившихся компаний и лопнувших банков… Компании и банки, которые президент пытался спасти с помощью государственных вливаний, вылетали в трубу после мучительной агонии. Удержать зарплаты на прежнем уровне не удалось. Беспрецедентный рост государственных расходов вынудил администрацию Гувера резко повысить налоги. Своими действиями Гувер лишь отсрочил падение американской экономики на самое дно. Герберт Гувер с треском проиграл выборы 1932 года: он был самым ненавистным человеком в стране, его имя ассоциировалось с кризисом и нищетой, на встречах с избирателями действующего президента забрасывали гнилыми овощами. В результате президентских выборов 1932 года хозяином Белого Дома стал Франклин Делано Рузвельт.ШАГИ РУЗВЕЛЬТА. БАНКОВСКАЯ РЕФОРМА Популярные аналогии между экономическим кризисом-2008 и Великой депрессией заставляют повторять имя Рузвельта. Его рецепты активно вспоминают и рекомендуют властям для спасения отечественной экономики. Между тем Рузвельту повезло: он пришел в Белый дом, когда низшая точка кризиса осталась позади. Причем, придя к власти, Рузвельт не знал, что делать. Первое время своего президентства Рузвельт атаковал менял (банкиров) как виновников депрессии. Хотите — верьте, хотите — нет, но вот слова, сказанные им 4 марта 1933 года в обращении к народу по поводу инаугурации: «Нечистоплотные действия менял заклеймены судом общественного мнения, они противны сердцу и разуму народа… Менялы подлежат смещению с пьедестала, который занимают в храме нашей цивилизации». Но далее Рузвельт действовал решительнее и тоньше. Так в качестве первого шага к преодолению Великой депрессии он сказал: «Давайте перестанем врать друг другу». Как только Рузвельт занял свой пост, были срочно предприняты чрезвычайные меры по выводу банковской системы из кризиса. 6 марта 1933 года, всего через два дня после инаугурационной речи Рузвельта, были объявлены недельные «банковские каникулы». Указом президента были закрыты ВСЕ банки США и взяты под контроль полиции с тем, чтобы провести проверку их деятельности и исключить малейшие намеки на махинации. Далее с целью «очистки» банковской системы была проведена тотальная ревизия всех банков. Разорившиеся банки попали под внешнее управление. Устойчивые банки получили право на дальнейшую работу.11 марта президент выступил сначала перед прессой, 12 марта — уже по радио, объясняя ситуацию и меры правительства по выходу из кризиса. Постепенно паника пошла на убыль, 15 марта открылись примерно 30% всех банков. В результате этих мер произошло укрупнение банковской системы, поскольку большинство банков, признанных «здоровыми», были крупными. Был резко усилен контроль Федерального Резерва над денежным обращением, увеличен контроль за выдачей кредитов, за созданием кредитных денег. Были приняты два важнейших закона, регулирующих банковскую сферу — 21 июня 1933 г. — Закон Гласса-Стигалла, а в 1935 г. — Закон Флетчера-Стигалла. Именно тогда была создана современная финансовая система США. Изменения в её характер работы стали делать только после недавней серии скандалов (Enron, WorldCom, Артур Андерсен и т.п.) Закон Гласса-Стигалла запрещал коммерческим банкам работать с ценными бумагами, это право получали специализированные финансовые организации — тем самым были снижены риски, которым подвергались средства вкладчиков банка. Были разъединены инвестиционные и коммерческие банки. Банкам, которые принимали депозиты, было запрещено вкладывать деньги в ценные бумаги, предприятия, пускаться в рисковые операции со средствами клиентов. С целью пресечения привлечения средств по повышенным ставкам, характерных для проведения высокорискованных операций, был введен запрет на выплату процентов по текущим счетам, проценты по депозитным счетам стали регулироваться Федеральным Резервом. Был принят закон о страховании депозитов и создана Федеральная корпорация страхования депозитов — банки отчисляли взносы в страховой фонд, в случае банкротства корпорация санирует банк и выплачивает вклады в пределах установленного законом лимита на вклад в одном банке. Именно эта мера во многом позволила в итоге стабилизировать ситуацию с «бегством вкладчиков». Была создана Федеральная корпорация, которая страховала вклады клиентов коммерческих банков. Президент США получил право назначать членов Совета Управляющих Федерального Резерва. Совет устанавливал не только нормы резервов для банков-членов Федерального Резерва, но и учетную ставку для федерально-резервных банков. Он полностью контролировал иностранные операции федерально-резервных банков, а также операции на открытом рынке. Одновременно был усилен контроль над биржей и рынком ценных бумаг.1. Устанавливался контроль над выпуском акций и других долговых обязательств фирм в ценных бумагах. Директора компаний-эмитентов несли персональную ответственность за выпуск ценных бумаг.2. Приняты нормативные акты, которые ограничивали использование банковских кредитов в биржевых операциях.3. Вводилась ежегодная публичная отчетность корпораций, зарегистрированных на бирже.4. Были ужесточены условия включения компаний в биржевые списки, установлены пределы колебаний котировок на торгах. Для организации контроля над рынком ценных бумаг была создана Комиссия по ценным бумагам и биржам . Все эти меры привели к усилению контроля Федеральной Резервной Системой (аналог ЦБ) над частными банками и денежным обращением. Только после этого Федеральный Резерв начал «развязывать кошелек» и подпитывать голодающий американский народ новыми деньгами.ОТМЕНА ЗОЛОТОЙ ПРИВЯЗКИ Во время Великой депрессии в США рушилось всё, кроме курса доллара — доллар стоял как стена, так как он был привязан к золоту. Федеральный Резерв продолжал упрямо сокращать денежную массу, еще более усугубляя депрессию. Вследствие чего между 1929 г. и 1933 г. объем денег в обращении сократился на 33%. Если учесть, что производство тоже сократилось, то нехватка денег стала угрожающей. В день своей инаугурации 5 марта 1933 года вновь избранный президент Рузвельт объявил о почти двукратном снижении курса доллара по отношению к золоту — или, что-то же самое, об удорожании золота в долларовом выражении. «Одновременно с золотым „ограблением века“ были объявлены недельные банковские каникулы (то есть попросту принудительные выходные в финансовых учреждениях), из-за которых ни один частный вкладчик не мог в экстренном порядке извлечь свои враз обесценившиеся сбережения». До этого момента цена золота в долларах была жестко зафиксирована, и правительство не имело права ее менять. Рузвельт не только сделал банковский выходной — отдал распоряжение о временном прекращении работы банков и запрещении дальнейшего выпуска вспомогательной валюты, но и убеждал общественность расстаться со своим золотом, говоря, что «консолидация ресурсов страны необходима, чтобы вывести Америку из депрессии». Президентским декретом население обязывалось сдавать все имевшиеся у него золотые слитки и монеты государству — причем по старой, гораздо более низкой цене золота. Население заставили сдать все золотые украшения. Разрешалось оставить только по две золотые монеты. Вопреки расхожим представлениям, первой реальной мерой президента Рузвельта был банальный дефолт. Механизм прост [8]: допустим, вы англичанин и у вас был 1 млн. фунтов стерлингов, которые вы обменяли на доллары по курсу 2 доллара за фунт. Полученные 2 млн. долларов вы вложили в американские облигации и через год получили их обратно вместе с небольшим доходом. Допустим, этот доход составил 100 тыс. долларов — таким образом, всего у вас теперь 2.1 млн. долларов. Но за это время американское правительство провело полуторакратную девальвацию своей валюты, так что теперь за 1 фунт дают уже не 2, а 3 доллара. В результате ваши 2.1 млн. долларов превращаются всего лишь в 0.7 млн. фунтов, в то время как изначально вы имели 1 млн., так что итогом всех ваших операций становится убыток в размере 30%. Тем, кто сдал свое золото, выплачивалась фиксированная цена в $20,66 за унцию. Эта конфискационная мера была столь непопулярна, что никто в правительстве не взял на себя смелость признаться в авторстве. Интересно, но на церемонии подписания постановления Рузвельт недвусмысленно объяснил всем присутствующим, что автором документа является не он и он его даже не читал. Даже Секретарь Казначейства заявил, что не был ознакомлен с документом, лишь добавив — «…это то, на чем настаивали эксперты». После банковского выходного частное владение золотыми слитками и монетами, за исключением коллекционных, было объявлено незаконным. Большая часть золота, находившаяся в то время в руках средних американцев, была в форме золотых монет. Новый закон на самом деле означал не что иное, как конфискацию. Нарушителям грозило 10-летнее тюремное заключение и штраф $10.000, эквивалент $100.000 сегодня. Некоторые люди не верили в указание Рузвельта. А многие разрывались между желанием сохранить заработанное тяжким трудом и лояльностью к правительству. В 1935 году, как только золото было собрано, официальную цену золота резко повысили до $35 за унцию. Эта цена сохранилась до 1971 г., когда был запрещен свободный обмен золота на доллары. Однако по новой, более высокой цене, продавать золото имели право только иностранцы. Менялы же, заранее получившие предупреждение о грядущем кризисе от Уорберга, скупившие золото по цене $20,66 за унцию, а затем вывезшие его в Лондон, имели возможность вернуть его обратно и продать американскому правительству по цене $35 за унцию, получив при этом почти 100% доход, в то время как среднестатистический американец голодал. С большой помпой было объявлено о строительстве национального хранилища золота Форт-Нокс, что в штате Кентукки. К 1936 году строительство нового национального хранилища в Форт-Ноксе было завершено и в январе 1937 года туда начало поступать золото. Спустя 4 года все отобранное государством золото было туда торжественно свезено. Когда 13 января 1937 года золото начало сюда поступать, были приняты беспрецедентные меры безопасности. Тысячи официально приглашенных лиц наблюдали за прибытием поезда из 9 вагонов из Филадельфии в сопровождении вооруженных солдат, почтовых инспекторов, секретных агентов и охранников с американского монетного двора. Все выглядело как огромная театральная постановка — собранное со всей Америки золото сосредотачивалось в одном месте, предположительно для пользы общества. Итак, первым делом были приняты меры к уменьшению цены денег и увеличению доверия к деньгам. Затем Рузвельт отнял у населения золото, чтобы не мешать государству самому решать, сколько выпускать денег. Второй важной мерой стало увеличение денег в обороте через государственные структуры. Деньги же, утраченные во время депрессии большинством американцев, не просто потерялись. Они перетекли в руки тех, кто заранее знал о биржевом крахе и вложил свои деньги в золото перед самой депрессией. Золото же всегда было самым надежным способом сбережения средств.УЖЕСТОЧЕНИЕ ПРАВИЛ ИГРЫ В ЭКОНОМИКЕ 16 июня 1933 г. Конгресс принял Закон НИРА о реконструкции национальной промышленности, который устанавливал государственную помощь индустрии и государственный контроль за честностью взаимоотношений в бизнесе. В условиях отмены анти-трестового законодательства бизнес получил возможность саморегулироваться, а профсоюзы право на коллективную защиту. Главной целью было прекращение конкуренции за счет рабочих, отсюда повышение покупательной способности населения и все это способствовало выходу из кризиса. Всем ассоциациям предпринимателей предписывалось вырабатывать кодексы «честной конкуренции», определявшие условия, объем производства, минимальный уровень цен. Кодекс должен был разрабатываться торговыми группами, а если их нет, то вводился без особых оговорок сверху. — право рабочих на организацию; — запрет дискриминации при найме на работу членов профсоюзов; — минимальный уровень зарплаты; — максимальная продолжительность рабочего дня; — фиксация цен; — продавать продукцию по ценам, ниже минимально установленных, нельзя.Во 2-ом и 3-ем разделах речь шла об оказании помощи нуждающимся, о создании организации общественных работ (финансируемых за счет налогоплательщиков) [4].РЕФОРМЫ СЕЛЬСКОГО ХОЗЯЙСТВА В области сельского хозяйства «новый курс» состоял в попытках остановить процесс разорения фермеров, и поднять цены на сельскохозяйственную продукцию путем сокращения производства и уменьшения посевных площадей, за что фермерам выплачивались премии. 12 мая 1933 г. был принят парадоксальный закон «О регулировании сельского хозяйства», устанавливающий субсидии за сокращение производства продукции аграрного сектора. Поскольку рынок сельскохозяйственной продукции, на который работали фермеры США, вдруг оказался для них закрытым благодаря принятым многими странами протекционистским мерам, пришлось принимать меры по сокращению поголовья скота и посевных площадей, чтобы повысить цены до уровня, при котором хотя бы окупались затраты. Фермерам предоставлялась компенсация за каждый незасеянный гектар и средства брались из налогов на компании и из 30% налога на муку и хлопчато–бумажную пряжу. До этого цены были очень низкими. 10 млн. акров под хлопок, 1/4 посевных площадей зерновых уничтожено, 6 млн. свиней ушло под нож. Сама природа способствовала успеху в борьбе с понижением цен, т.к. в 1936г. в США была жесточайшая засуха, песчаные бури, что привело к снижению урожая и повышению цен на сельскохозяйственную продукцию. Также были приняты меры по консолидации фермерской задолженности, фермерам предоставлялись кредиты и скоро прекратилась массовая продажа ферм с аукционов. Таким образом, к 1936 г. доходы фермеров были вполне нормальными, но 10% фермеров за эти смутные годы разорилось. Аграрная политика Ф. Рузвельта была на руку крупным фермам, которые могли сравнительно безболезненно сократить часть своих посевных площадей. Эти фермы, пользуясь правительственными субсидиями, в большом количестве приобретали сельскохозяйственные машины и химические удобрения, что повышало производительность труда и урожайность, и, несмотря на снижение посевных площадей, позволяло сохранить размеры производства на прежнем уровне. Благодаря этому процесс концентрации земельной собственности усилился, о чем свидетельствовало сосредоточение к 1940 г. в руках 1,6% общего числа ферм 34 % сельскохозяйственных площадей. В то же время 38% ферм использовало менее 5 % этих площадей, и эту группу ферм правительственная помощь, как правило, обходила.РЕФОРМЫ В СОЦИАЛЬНОЙ СФЕРЕ «Новый курс» предусматривал также ряд социальных мероприятий, направленных, прежде всего на сокращение безработицы. Была принята программа общественных работ (строительство автострад, аэродромов, мостов и т.д.) с привлечением безработных. Была введена система выдачи минимальных пособий бедствующим безработным. В марте 1933 г. на базе Закона НИРА был создан Гражданский корпус сохранения ресурсов. Задачей было направление безработной молодежи в лесные регионы для сохранения ресурсов. К лету для этой цели были созданы спецлагеря, где побывало 250 тыс. молодых людей (от 18 до 25 лет), которым предоставлялась бесплатная еда, жилье, форменная одежда и зарплата в 1 доллар в день. Руководили ими офицеры из резерва Вооруженных Сил. Работами по сохранению ресурсов являлись: строительство автомагистралей, очистка лесов, создание лесонасаждений, благоустройство парков, т.е. общественно-полезные работы. В январе 1934 г. на них было занято 5 млн. человек, а пособия получали 20 млн. человек. В мае 1933 г. был принят Закон о федеральной чрезвычайной административной помощи. По нему штатам предоставлялись средства для оказания помощи нуждающимся. Был принят закон о социальной обеспеченности, по которому создавались пенсионные фонды, выплачивались пособия по безработице. Государство признало права профсоюзов. К 1936 г. Кодексами честности, разработанными на основе Закона НИРА, охвачено 99% промышленных компаний и хотя консервативно настроенный Верховный суд, блюдя «священные принципы» отменяет NIRA, как антиконституционный акт, — но кодексы де-факто сохраняются: игра по правилам предпочтительнее. В 1935 г. был принят закон Вагнера-Коннэри «О трудовых отношениях», который провозглашал необходимость коллективной защиты трудящихся через профсоюзы, запрещал преследование рабочих за создание профсоюзов и участие в стачках и подтверждал право рабочих заключать с предпринимателями коллективные договора. Закон запрещал дискриминацию членов профсоюзов. Однако для урегулирования споров между рабочими и предпринимателями вводился принудительный арбитраж. Устанавливалось обязательное заключение коллективного договора. Была создана комиссия по борьбе с дискриминацией при найме на работу.В 1937 г. был принят Закон о справедливых условиях труда, согласно которому — запрещалось использование детского труда; — устанавливался минимум З./п. (25 центов в час, а в течение 6-ти лет был доведен до 40 центов в час); — устанавливалась максимальная продолжительность рабочей недели (44 часа, а затем в течение 2-х лет до 40 часов);Рузвельт также пытался реформировать Верховный Суд, опасаясь, что он отменит законы Вагнера и социального обеспечения. И хотя реформа суда не удалась, но и законы остались, так как Верховный Суд не стал их отменять. Для борьбы с безработицей американское правительство организовало общественные работы, затратив в 1933-1939 годах на их финансирование более 12 млрд. долларов. Рабочие строили дороги и мосты, которые работают до сих пор. И эта работа давала им возможность не умереть с голоду. Для сокращения молодёжной безработицы в 1933 году власти создали также полувоенную организацию Cи-Си-Си: Civilian Conservation Corps. Через трудовые лагеря ССС, размещённые по всей стране, за десятилетие прошло около двух миллионов молодых людей в возрасте от 18 до 25 лет, которые трудились там на общественных работах за 30 долларов в месяц. В 1938 г. Рузвельт объявил о начале осуществления плана «Подкачки насоса». Суть его состояла в том, что спрос должен был повыситься с помощью гос. инъекций в экономику (строительство жилья, автомагистралей и т.д.). Было увеличено количество людей, получающих пособия. Во время Великой депрессии в США для расшивки нехватки денег и недопущения их оттока в виртуальные пузыри использовались псевдо-деньги, а также сегментация денежного рынка. Так, существовали деревянные деньги в Тенино, штат Вашингтон, картонные деньги в Рэймонде, штат Вашингтон, обеспеченные кукурузой деньги в Клиар Лейк, штат Айова. Были выпущены купоны, которые обменивались на товары и услуги там, где не хватало федеральных долларов. Купонами платили учителям в Вилдвордебе штат Нью-Джерси, зарплаты в Филадельфии и многих других штатах. Купоны выпускали правительства штатов школьные округа, торговцы, ассоциации предпринимателей, различные агентства и даже частные лица. Издатель газеты «Springfield Union» в штате Массачусетс Сэмюель Боулз рассказал историю эмиссии купонов его газетой. Во время банковского кризиса 30-х годов она платила сотрудникам купонами. Их можно было потратить в магазинах, дававших объявления в газете, а магазины затем расплачивались купонами за рекламу в этой газете, замыкая круг. Как видим, никаких правительственных долларов не понадобилось. Купон был так популярен, что клиенты стали просить выдавать им сдачу купонами: они знали издателя и больше верили в его деньги, чем в федеральные доллары". Итак, были приняты все меры, чтобы успокоить население реформами в социальной сфере и не допустить в дальнейшем паники. Были точно определены границы уступок трудящимся (представители профсоюзов не входили в правительство). Хотя и возникло недовольство крупных бизнесменов, но оно было устранено. РЕЗУЛЬТАТ Все эти меры оказались весьма эффективными. За несколько месяцев 1933 г. объем промышленного производства возрос на 70%, а к июлю этого года он равнялся 90% от уровня 1928 г. Но развитие было очень медленным — после 1929-33 гг. снова небольшая депрессия на 2-3 года, и лишь затем подъем и в 1937 г. — снова кризис. Можно выделить следующие способы борьбы с кризисом. Это, прежде всего общественные работы, через которые деньги доставлялись непосредственно потребителям. Далее получив деньги, работники шли на рынок продовольствия и запускали спрос там. Сельское хозяйство, потребляя машины, запускало спрос в промышленности. Но этот путь оказался ограниченным. Экономическая политика Ф. Рузвельта не смогла спасти страну от очередного экономического кризиса, наступившего в 1937 г. и вновь поразившего экономику США сильнее других стран. За два года уровень промышленного производства в США упал на 21 %. Кризис 1937-1938 гг. вновь отбросил американскую экономику на полтора десятка лет назад. Объем промышленного производства в целом по капиталистическим странам упал на 11% (в США на 21%). Наиболее пострадавшими оказались выплавка стали (в США на 21%), судостроение (на 40%), в новых отраслях также отмечалось падение производства (в отличие от 1929-33 гг., когда авиапромышленность, радиопромышленность понесли незначительные потери). В 1937 г. производство автомобилей в США упало на 40%. Развития этот кризис не получил, т.к. был прерван подготовкой к войне. В целом, восстановление американской экономики заняло около 20 лет — окончательно США встали на ноги и вышли из депрессии только в 50-е годы. Помог американской экономике принятый 11 марта 1941 года закон о ленд-лизе, в рамках которого США впоследствии смогли осуществить колоссальные по объёмам поставки вооружений и военных материалов Британии, России, Китаю, Бразилии и многим другим странам. За один 1944 год национальный доход США составил $183 млрд., из которых $103 млрд. было потрачено на войну. Это в 30 раз превосходило темпы расходов, достигнутые во время Первой Мировой. На самом деле американский налогоплательщик оплатил 55% всех расходов Второй Мировой войны. Но, что не менее важно, практически каждая страна, вовлеченная в эту войну, многократно увеличила свой долг. Например, в США долг федерального правительства вырос с $43 млрд. в 1940 г. до $257 млрд. в 1950 г. — увеличение на 598%. За тот же период долг Японии увеличился на 1348%, Франции — на 583%, Канады — на 417%. Итак, последовательная, но интуитивно выработанная программа Рузвельта дала результат, но ничего нового в этой программе не было. Она была, по сути, продолжением реформ Гувера. Фактически рузвельтовский «Новый курс» был продолжением антикризисных мероприятий Гувера. К тому же Рузвельт был долгожданным новым лидером, обладал харизмой и умел вселять в людей оптимизм. Высокий авторитет Рузвельта позволил все эти реформы успешно осуществить. Американцы поверили Рузвельту и стойко переносили затяжной и болезненный процесс выздоровления экономики. Так Рузвельту досталась репутация спасителя Америки" . Нынешний мир и американское общество многому научились и сильно изменились за прошедшие десятилетия. Впрочем, как выразился бывший Госсекретарь США Генри Киссинджер, «человечество не повторяет своих старых ошибок, но постоянно делает новые» .

20 апреля 2015, 22:42

Франклин Рузвельт и золото. 1933

Некоторые фотографии прошлого цепляют нас за живое. Одни из них вызывают кучу ассоциаций, другие - желание "поговорить об этом". Сегодня меня впечатлило фото, на котором изображён Франклин Рузвельт в окружении золотых слитков. Вот оно: Видите, с какой любовью 32-й президент США смотрит на золото? Между тем, отношения у него с золотым запасом своего государства были сложные. Ни для кого ни секрет, что американский доллар начал свою дорогу по миру с 1914 года, когда началась Первая Мировая Война. Именно в то время появились долларовые зоны в Латинской Америке и Северной.Тогда доллар был подкреплён золотом. Существовало правило "золотого стандарта". К 1933 году США успели пережить серьёзный кризис и даже начали выходить из него, но экономика всё-равно была шаткая. Франклин Рузвельт решился на рискованный в то время шаг - отменил правило "золотого стандарта" и пустил доллар в свободное плавание. Через несколько месяцев он осознал, что свободное плавание доллара - дело хорошее, но для экономики проблемное. Тогда в январе 1934 года он решил немножко подправить экономический курс и ратифицировал "золотой резервный акт", в котором фиксировалось соотношение доллара к золоту. Тройская унция стала стоить 35 долларов.