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23 января, 00:01

Orwell, Hitler And Trump

Last week, I reached for my Philip Roth ― his splendid novel, The Plot Against America. This week, I reached for my George Orwell. In 1946, as Europe was digging out from the ruin of World War II – a genuine case of mass carnage as opposed to Donald Trump’s fantasy carnage – Orwell wrote the classic essay on the seductions of propaganda, “Politics and the English Language.” Much of the essay, widely assigned in English classes, warns how stale writing leads to sloppy thinking. But the most original part is Orwell’s evisceration of propaganda. Combined with his great novel 1984, written in 1949 as a dystopian warning about the way totalitarian practice becomes internalized in totalitarian thinking, these two great works gave us the adjective, Orwellian. In 1984, we learned the official slogans of the Party: “War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength,” only slight parodies of communism and Nazism. “Freedom is Slavery” was not far from the infamous greeting at the gates of Auschwitz, Arbeit Macht Frei. And Ignorance is Strength seems to be Donald Trump’s credo and operating premise — ignorance for both himself and his public. Orwell’s target was the prettified euphemism, used mostly by extreme leftwing and rightwing parties and governments. If people could be persuaded to accept the re-framing, they might well alter their conception of reality. In “Politics and the English Language,” Orwell made great sport of pretentious writing and mixed metaphors, such as “The capitalist octopus has sung its swan song.” But he was dead serious about the political point. He wrote:  Defenseless villages are bombed from the air, their inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts sent on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification. Millions of peasants are robbed of their land and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population… Note that Orwell was writing two full decades before the Vietnam War. Even before the advent of Donald Trump, the misuse of language in our own day has been in many respects more insidious and more corrosive than the plague against which Orwell was warning. Orwell’s examples came from either totalitarian governments or far-left and far-right parties in the democracies. In America, a democracy, both major parties have increasingly used Orwellian language, Republicans far more than Democrats. Trump has taken the maneuver to a whole new low. But the earlier Orwellian efforts softened the ground. There was a time when most laws had descriptive or technical names, such as the Glass-Steagall Act, the National Labor Relations Act, or the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Since George W. Bush, pieces of legislation have been treated as branding and marketing opportunities. After the attacks of September 11, 2001, The Bush Administration hastily assembled a wish list of every over-zealous prosecutor and surveillance agent. The initials of the legislation were tortured until they spelled out the U.S.A. P.A.T.R.I.O.T Act, the Patriot Act for short. What patriot could be against the Patriot Act? And speaking of torture, that activity, prohibited by the Geneva Conventions, was rebranded as enhanced interrogation. Sending American captives off to prisons in allied nations where there were no limits on torture was called a rendition. If a document was censored, that was now termed redacted. Even the mainstream press, shamefully, has succumbed to that usage. As Orwell would have appreciated, “censored,” is plain English. Censorship sounds like something we might want to oppose or at least suspect. “Redacted” is a bland, unfamiliar and bureaucratic word that suggests a neutral and presumably defensible process. And the Obama Administration found the word just as convenient as Cheney, Bush and company did. After the USA Patriot Act, it became standard procedure for both parties to give laws propagandistic names, though the Republicans were the repeat offenders. One of the worst pieces of bipartisan education legislation ever, later repudiated by both parties because of its over-reliance on teach-to-the-test, was called “The No Child Left Behind Act.” (Who could be against that?) Republican advocates of school vouchers, mindful of the well-established support for public schools, began rebranding them as the more sinister sounding “government schools.” When President George W. Bush sponsored a tax-subsidized drug insurance program run by private insurance companies, he made sure to brand it “Medicare Part D,” since Medicare was a broadly supported public program ― even though his drug program was pure windfall to the drug industry and had nothing whatever to do with Medicare. This may seem like small beer, but it is one of several trends on the use of language that has misled and cheapened public discourse ― and laid the ground for Trumpism. At the extreme, the trend feeds the ability of demagogues to persuade citizens that up is down, or black is white. Fox News, the most flagrantly biased of the cable channels, pioneered the trend with its slogan, “Fair and Balanced.” As any serious person knows, Fox is a propaganda organ, while the reputable news organs, from the New York Times to NPR, really do make an effort to separate fact from opinion. Long before Trump, the “mainstream” Republican Party made lies a staple of its arsenal, from its lies about Obamacare to its bogus budget numbers to its false contentions of fraudulent voting. Trump has embellished this technique by lying, then accusing his critics of lying, until the debate is hopelessly scrambled. Trump manufactures phony stories, then accuses the media of “fake news.” Hitler was the first to describe the technique of repeating a lie so often that people would come to believe it. He called it the Big Lie. From his denial of climate change to his denial that Obama was born in Hawaii, Trump has dusted off the Big Lie. But then he goes classic Big Liars one better―by denying the denial. As Jonathan Swift wrote in 1710, “Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it, so that when men come to be undeceived, it is too late.” (A version misattributed to Mark Twain has it that “a lie is halfway around the world while the truth is putting its boots on.”) You get the point. Trump’s strategy is to flood the zone — to proliferate so many lies that by the time one lie is rebutted he has put out several more, and he seems to believe even the lies that contradict previous lies. Ignorance really is Trump’s strength. In his Inaugural Address, Trump claimed that America is succumbing to a horrible crime wave, when if fact serious crime is at a 30-year low. Republican demonizers of the Affordable Care Act bemoan the high out-of-pocket expenses, when in fact all the Republican replacements would raise deductibles and co-pays. And so on. Trump has resurrected the Big Lie. But, pathetically, he also resorts to the Little Lie. On his first full day in office Trump’s main concern was whether his was bigger―his inaugural crowd. Though it was easily verified that Obama’s inaugural had a larger crowd, as did the women’s march the next day after Trump’s show, a livid Trump sent out his press secretary to rail at the press for understating Trump’s size. The press spokesman, Sean Spicer, himself told at least seven easily verifiable lies. I am feeling a little better than I did on Inauguration Day, in part because of the good cheer and political resolve modeled at the several women’s marches ― but also because you can sense the wheels starting to come off the Trump bus. Call it the New Separation of Powers. Trump’s inner circle is a snake pit of intrigue between the likes of Bannon, Priebus, and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. Trump is at odds with senior members of his own cabinet, who are at odds with each other. Trump’s ad libs, like his abrupt support for universal health coverage, regularly cut the legs out from under his Republican Congress. Trump may wish he were a total dictator, but this is still a democracy. Lies can work during campaigns but at some point, when you try to govern, reality has a way of intruding. Eventually, the truth does get its boots on.   Robert Kuttner is co-editor of The American Prospect and professor at Brandeis University’s Heller School. His latest book is Debtors’ Prison: The Politics of Austerity Versus Possibility.  Like Robert Kuttner on Facebook.  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); -- 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 января, 19:45

Mnuchin weathers attacks on funds, foreclosures

Democrats went after Trump’s pick for Treasury secretary but barely laid a glove on him.

16 января, 23:23

Who Killed The Middle Class?

It's becoming clear that our Middle Class -- the midsection of U.S. earners and consumers -- has shrunk alarmingly. And this is the main reason for the political polarization today that in the words of journalist Christopher Hedges, has driven the Republican Party "insane". Our society has become so polarized that Donald Trump needed the support of the Ku Klux Klan, white nationalists, and Vladimir Putin to become President-Elect. Whereas it has been such middle class values of probity, honesty and science, first satirized in Moliere's Le Bourgeois gentilhomme, (The Middle Class Gentleman), that has been the stabilizing influence in American politics since WWII. The main difference between poverty and middle class and between middle class and wealthy, noted one researcher, "is belief in, and planning for, moving up as a working assumption." A report from the Pew Research Center found that, for the first time since the 1970s, families defined as "middle income" are actually in a minority in the US - squeezed from both ends by an enlarged poverty-stricken group below them, and an enriched group above them. Graph: Fortune Magazine This graph shows the shrinkage of those defined as middle class from 1979 to 2014 -- from 38.8 percent (gray line) to 32.09 percent (blue line), according to a Pew research study. The shrinkage reads like a textbook example of the future that French economist Thomas Piketty predicts for the world in his best-selling, Capital in the Twenty-First Century. In 1971, there were 80 million households in the US defined as middle income - compared with a combined 52 million in the groups above and below. Now, there are 120 million middle-class families, but 121 million rich and poor - "A demographic shift that could signal a tipping point," says Pew. So who or what is at fault for the result; record income inequality last reached in 1929 that led to the Great Depression? We can fault President Reagan, who was first to break the unions with his firing of all federally employed Air Traffic Controllers that belonged to PATCO, the traffic controllers union. Or, conservatives' espousal of the Reagan motto, "government is the problem," which caused massive downsizing of government regulation, as well as regulators, as well as the ensuing de-regulation of whole industries, such as the airlines, telecommunications, and financial markets. But the truth may be much closer to the present -- in fact, from the Presidency of Bill Clinton. For it was President Clinton who veered so far to the right in his 1966 reelection campaign (thanks to Republican strategist Dick Morris) that he preempted the Republican platform by continuing to deregulate the financial markets with the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act that separated FDIC depositor-insured banking from higher risk investment banking, financing the addition of 100,000 more police to combat the drug epidemic, and downsizing poverty programs with welfare reforms that took tens of thousands off the welfare rolls, which required them to take low-paying menial jobs to receive even a limited amount of financial support. The Republicans, as Chris Hedges said, were thus driven politically insane. They no longer had those bread and butter issues (such as law and order, smaller government) that were once their own, which led to formation of the Tea Party, and a new political civil war declared on Big Government ruled by the northern elite that had ruled for so long. It was our 150 year-old Civil War taking a new form, in other words, but with almost the same mix of combatants. Hillary Clinton, unfortunately, wasn't able to break away from the Clinton mix of conservative economics (e.g.,balancing the federal budget) and social liberalism that resulted. The culture wars against abortion, civil rights, and welfare (including Obamacare) were the only issues the Republican Party had left. The result was and is President-elect Trump, an ideologist of neither party. Trump is an advocate of no government, where possible, who can count on the loyalty of only his most trusted associates and family. Sound familiar? It is politics of the tribe, the close=knit family, held by gangsters and Oligarchs, with everyone else to be treated with obfuscation and outright deceptions. Even more significant is the record inequality since 1979, resulting from the loss of those policies that built up the middle class after WWII, policies from the New Deal, such as social security and Medicare, entitlements, unionization of whole industries, leading to the unparalleled prosperity of the 1950s and 60s. So lt us hope a majority of our politicians realize, as a majority of Americans still do, that our prosperity and stability rest on a middle class that hasn't given up hope for a better life. Harlan Green © 2016 Follow Harlan Green on Twitter: https://twitter.com/HarlanGreen -- 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.

05 января, 21:04

More Brilliance from Larry Summers

This post and full archives can be viewed at Trader Scott's Market Blog. The brilliant PHD economist Lawrence Henry "Larry" Summers has come out with a scathing criticism of Donald Trump's economic policy:   “The Navarro-Ross paper is well beyond voodoo economics,” Summers said of the September report on Trump’s growth plans. “The logic of it, the arguments made, are so far out of the mainstream of any kind of responsible economic thinking that they are the economic equivalent of creationism.” Summers dismissed the idea that any tax policy introduced to encourage U.S. companies to repatriate profits would boost investment and hiring.“The vast majority of the companies who have large overseas cash also have substantial amounts of domestic cash,” he said. “The reality is that cash that is brought home will be used to pay dividends, to buy back shares, to engage in mergers and acquisitions, to rearrange the financial chessboard, not to invest in large amounts of new capital. It is a chimera to suppose that there will be large increases in capital investment as a consequence of that repatriation.” Lawrence Henry's amazing analytical abilities regarding economic issues are beyond reproach, so we should all heed his brilliant pronouncements. And since he believes Trump's economic ideas "are so far out of the mainstream of any kind of responsible economic thinking that they are the economic equivalent of creationism", let's take a look at what a "responsible" Harvard PHD economist believes. Larry is one of the founding members of the Committee for the Advancement of Negative Interest Rates. Larry concocted, excuse me, developed this brilliant economic policy with his three brothers, Moe, Curly, and Schemp. And it has certainly been a roaring success worldwide, as can be evidenced by the booming growth in all of the countries which have unleashed, excuse me, enacted his crack economic team's policy. Larry, Moe, Curly, and Schemp also have another foundation - The Society for the Complete Banning of Physical Cash, a.k.a., The War on Cash Society. Henry's magnificent abilities as a hedge fund manager allowed him to have great input into Harvard's endowment fund. Professor Summer's acumen led to a mere $1.8 billion loss in the financial crisis, but who's counting. And Lawrence loves the idea of big banks, and he trusts them to understand complex economic and market situations. In 1998 he testified before the Senate that derivatives regulation wasn't necessary because Wall Street could be trusted to regulate itself - no prob. He also pushed to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act, because, well you know, we can trust Wall Street to regulate itself. So these are the views, theories, and actions of another "responsible" PHD economist who has never accomplished a darn thing in his life.

28 декабря 2016, 16:36

4 Financial Mutual Funds to Watch in 2017

Invest in financial mutual funds as higher-rate environment seems likely.

25 декабря 2016, 08:45

Илдус Нафиков: «Счета – это обязательство сохранности денег. Их никто банку не ссужал!»

Сотни предпринимателей пострадали в ситуации с ТФБ, продолжаются дискуссии о том, как же помочь бизнесу, готовому закрыться из-за остановки платежей. Прокуратура РТ, со слов бизнес-омбудсмена Тимура Нагуманова, обещает с пониманием отнестись к ситуации, хотя сам Илдус Нафиков публично не комментировал ситуацию. Между тем два года назад глава ведомства публиковал в «БИЗНЕС Online» свое письмо депутатам Госдумы, где предлагал разделить «осторожные» и «рисковые» операции на банковском рынке.

12 декабря 2016, 21:24

The Roots Of The Democratic Debacle

On January 20, what was unthinkable to many just a few weeks ago will become reality: Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States. Trump’s victory, which in many ways echoed the Brexit vote, was part of an increasingly global revolt against elites—political, financial, and cultural. It was also a populist rebellion against the economic and social dislocations of a globalization process dominated by the interests of multinational corporations and exacerbated by the rise to preeminence of a neoliberal ideology of deregulation, tax cuts, privatization, reduced social services, free trade, and the unimpeded movement of capital. From Goldwater to Reagan But the defeat of Hillary Clinton and the Democrats was also a consequence of a political crisis specific to the United States, one whose roots extend back to 1964, when the long migration of whites to the Republican Party began. As the liberal Lyndon Johnson vied for the presidency against the conservative Barry Goldwater, the New Deal coalition that had dominated American politics since 1932 began to show its first cracks. The cause was the civil rights movement, which aroused fierce opposition among whites in the deep South, leading them to abandon their historic attachment to the Democratic Party and to vote in five states—South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana—for a Republican Party led by a man who had opposed the Civil Rights Bill in the name of “states’ rights.” Though Johnson defeated Goldwater in a landslide, the “Solid South” was solid for the Democrats no more. By 1968, with opposition to the civil rights, student, anti-war, and other ‘60s movements mounting, it became apparent that the old and increasingly fragile New Deal coalition of labor, the South, northern blacks, and white liberals was in the process of disintegrating. This time the biggest shift took place in the North, where segments of the Northern working class—many of them white ethnics unsettled by the race riots and student revolts that punctuated the decade—abandoned the Democratic Party for Richard Nixon. The result was Republican victories in Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin, New Jersey, and Indiana—all Northern states with large working classes. Meanwhile, the movement of the South away from the Democratic Party escalated sharply, with nine of the eleven states of the confederacy voting either for Nixon (four) or the overtly racist George Wallace (five), most famous for his speech defiantly pledging “Segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!” Prior to the 1968 election, a young Nixon aide named Kevin Phillips completed a draft of a brilliant and prescient book entitled The Emerging Republican Majority. In it he argued that 1968 “bespoke the end of the New Deal Democratic hegemony and the rise of a dominant new Republican coalition in rising sections of the country,” notably the “Sun Belt” states of the South and West and in “Middle America” urban-suburban districts. The great political upheaval of the sixties, he argued, was not the progressive and left movements with which the decade is often identified, but “rather a populist revolt of the American masses…against the caste, policies and taxation of the mandarins of Establishment liberalism.” The results of the 1968 election, which Richard Nixon won with 301 electoral votes to 191 for Hubert Humphrey and 46 for George Wallace, seemed to confirm Phillips’ analysis. The Wallace voters, he predicted, would in short order logically migrate to the Republican Party, giving them a clear electoral majority; a “substantial Negro vote,” he pointedly noted, “is not necessary to national Republican victory.”[1] When Nixon was re-elected in a historic landslide in 1972 by a margin of 23 points, Phillips’ case for an emerging Republican majority seemed compelling. The Watergate scandals temporarily derailed the trend towards a Republican majority, and Jimmy Carter, a centrist born-again Southerner with considerable appeal in the states of the old confederacy, managed to win a close election in 1976. But the realignment already visible in 1968 was resoundingly confirmed in 1980, when Ronald Reagan won a decisive victory—489 electoral votes to 49—over the incumbent Carter. The 1980 election did more than signal an electoral realignment, for it also marked the arrival of a transformational presidency that would fundamentally change the boundaries of both policy and political discourse. With his simple formula of low taxes, small government, and a strong national defense, Reagan had constructed a resonant alternative to the long-reigning New Deal ideology. To be sure, Reagan’s appeal was not devoid of racial dog whistles; he had, after all, chosen to launch his 1980 presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi—the very place where three civil rights workers had been brutally murdered just 16 years earlier. In any event, Reagan’s combination of neoliberal economic policy and fierce opposition to Soviet communism proved immensely popular. When in 1984 he decimated Walter Mondale, a Democrat friendly to labor unions and widely perceived as an advocate of “big government,” by a margin of 525 to 13 in the electoral college, the last vestiges of the New Deal coalition had been swept away. Dilemma for the Democrats Having lost four of the last five elections, three of them by enormous margins, Democrats faced a genuine dilemma: how were they to regain the White House in the face of a formidable Republican juggernaut? The answer that began to emerge in the wake of Mondale’s defeat came in the form of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), a business-friendly movement within the Democratic Party that advocated a “third way” between the right-wing conservatism of Ronald Reagan and the liberalism of the New Deal and its heir, the Great Society. Founded in 1985 and emphasizing market-based, non-bureaucratic solutions to public problems and a hardline approach to foreign policy, the DLC did not offer an alternative to the neoliberalism of Reagan and Thatcher, but implicitly endorsed its central premises. Calling for less regulation of business and reduced reliance on large-scale government programs, the New Democrats advocated reduced welfare benefits, less progressive tax policies, and tough measures to combat crime, including stiffer prison sentences. Receiving a powerful boost from the decisive defeat of Michael Dukakis, a technocratic Northern liberal, by George H W Bush in the 1988 election, the DLC’s brand of soft neoliberalism was soon to become the ideology of the dominant wing of the Democratic Party. The Democratic Leadership Council did not offer an alternative to the neoliberalism of Reagan and Thatcher, but implicitly endorsed its central premises. Bill Clinton’s ascent to the leadership of the DLC in 1990 and his successful 1992 campaign for the presidency marked a turning point in the transformation of the Democratic Party into the corporate-friendly—and corporate-dependent—entity that was unable to defeat Donald Trump in 2016. Yet there is no denying Clinton’s singular accomplishment: to get elected and then re-elected after Republicans had controlled the White House for 20 of the previous 24 years. But Clinton’s personal electoral success came at a price. In 1994, the Democrats lost control of both Houses of Congress for the first time in decades, and Clinton chose to embark on a policy of “triangulation” between the Republicans and the Congressional Democrats that moved the Party to the right and alienated the activist base of the party. As part of this strategy of triangulation, Clinton sponsored and signed crime and welfare bills that, as Michelle Alexander documented, had disastrous effects on black America. As befit a New Democrat, Clinton in 1993 expended enormous political capital to gain passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) against fierce opposition within the Democratic Party. He also reneged on a major campaign pledge that linked removal of China’s “most favored nation” status as a trading partner to improvement in its record on human rights. In his second term, President Clinton signed the Financial Services Modernization Act, a measure that repealed the Glass-Steagall Act which separated commercial and investment banking and which furthered the deregulation of Wall Street—legislation that many analysts believe contributed to the financial meltdown of 2008. And in 2000, after having successfully lobbied for China’s entry into the World Trade Organization, he convinced Congress to establish permanent normal trading relations with China—an act that contributed to the loss of as many as 2.4 million manufacturing jobs in the United States. Far from repudiating the neoliberal economic policies initiated by Ronald Reagan, the Clinton presidency extended them into new domains. Obama’s Thwarted Aspirations Then, after an eight-year period of Republican rule under George W. Bush, who left office with one of the lowest approval ratings in modern history, Barack Obama won the White House in 2008 with the enthusiastic support of a multiracial coalition demanding fundamental—albeit not clearly defined—“change.” In an interview with the editorial board of the Reno Gazette-Journal ten months before he was elected, then-candidate Obama observed that “Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not, that Bill Clinton did not,” adding that Reagan “put us on a fundamentally different path.” The message was clear: unlike Hillary Clinton, his foe in the battle for the Democratic nomination, Obama aspired to be a genuinely transformational president. Eight years on, we can see that the Obama presidency proved neither transformational nor realigning. Coming into office in the midst of the gravest economic crisis since the Great Depression, his first task was to avoid a total collapse. In confronting this task, Obama departed from one key neoliberal orthodoxy, rejecting austerity and sponsoring a $800 billion stimulus package that helped avert a second Great Depression. But in other regards, he followed neoliberal dogma: studiously avoiding any policies that might undermine “business confidence” and attending solicitously to the needs of capital, including the powerful financial institutions responsible for the crisis. Thanks to WikiLeaks, we now know that Obama was seeking and following the advice of Wall Street even before he was elected; in a remarkable email dated October 6, 2008, Michael Fromer, an executive at Citigroup, wrote John Podesta, co-chair of Obama’s transition team (and in 2016 the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign), with a list of candidates for 31 cabinet-level positions as “recommended by various sources for senior level jobs.” The list bore a striking resemblance to the names that ended up in the cabinet, including Eric Holder (Attorney General), Robert Gates (Defense), Rahm Emmanuel (Chief of Staff), and Peter Orszag (Office of Management and Budget). For Treasury, the list had only three names: Timothy Geithner, Larry Summers, and Robert Rubin. In the end, Geithner became Secretary of Treasury, Summers Director of the National Economic Council, and Rubin a trusted informal advisor. Eight years on, we can see that the Obama presidency proved neither transformational nor realigning. Taking his cues from Wall Street, Obama advocated a policy notably friendly to the nation’s deeply unpopular major financial institutions: a gigantic taxpayer-funded bailout and a decision not to prosecute a single Wall Street executive for any transgressions committed in the lead-up to the crisis. At the same time, the Obama administration did little for the many millions of people who lost their homes and pensions as a result of the crash. In response, growing public outrage at the gentle treatment of Wall Street and the conspicuous lack of assistance offered to its victims, coupled with the rise of the Tea Party and the emergence of fierce opposition to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), the Democrats suffered a massive defeat in the mid-term elections, losing 64 seats in the House of Representatives and 10 seats in the Senate. In the 2012 presidential election, Obama again succeeded in cobbling together a coalition that, like Bill Clinton’s, was just strong enough to win him re-election, though this time by a margin of under 4 percent. But Democrats again suffered serious setbacks in the mid-term election of 2014, losing 13 seats in the House and 7 in the Senate. Having been swept into office in 2008 with the largest Democratic majority in the House and Senate since 1964, Obama had by 2014 managed to lose control of both Houses of Congress by considerable margins.  Signs of Popular Anger This was the political landscape when Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy for president in April 2015. The warning signs should have been evident: the Democrats had been roundly rejected in the two most recent mid-term elections, the economic recovery was still sluggish, and the emergence of the Tea Party on the right and Occupy Wall Street and other insurgent movements on the left seemed to suggest roiling popular discontent. Into this atmosphere of widespread dissatisfaction with the direction of the country stepped the former Secretary of State, Senator from New York, and First Lady—the very embodiment of the status quo at a moment of clamorous demand for change. The primary process in the Republican and Democratic parties quickly revealed seething populist anger against the Establishment on both the right and the left. But the response of party elites to popular insurgencies was very different; while the Republican Establishment, which despised Trump, proved unable to unify behind an alternative candidate and deny him the nomination, the Democratic Party establishment, deploying the ostensibly neutral Democratic National Committee and systematically enlisting major donors as well as its numerous allies in the media, succeeded in quashing a surprisingly strong left insurgency from Bernie Sanders. Nevertheless, the 74-year-old Sanders—a professed democratic socialist calling for a “political revolution”—won 22 states and 43 percent of the primary vote. For those who cared to look, by January 2016—even before a single primary vote had been cast—troubling signs about Clinton’s presidential prospects were everywhere visible: a majority of voters viewed her unfavorably, a far stronger majority viewed her as not “honest or trustworthy,” and a narrow majority viewed her as not caring “about the needs and problems of people like you”—the latter finding almost unprecedented among Democratic candidates.[2] Equally troubling, Clinton polled poorly on each of these items with independents, a group whose votes would be critical in the November election. Under ordinary circumstances, numbers like these would have been fatal for someone seeking a party’s presidential nomination. But the Democratic Party elite—its donors, its operatives, and the elected officials who comprise the “super-delegates”—had long since decided it was Hillary Clinton’s rightful turn. So, too, had President Obama, who quietly discouraged a possible Joe Biden candidacy and subtly placed his thumb on the scale on behalf of Hillary Clinton during her bitter and protracted primary battle with Sanders. What happened on November 8 cannot be understood apart from the decision of the Party Establishment to stick with Hillary in a year of mounting populist anger. ‘Any sense of her core message?’ The Clinton campaign was delighted to find Donald Trump as the sole remaining obstacle to the White House—he had, after all, said numerous outrageously racist, xenophobic, and misogynistic things during the primaries, and his erratic behavior had, their extensive focus-groups assured them, convinced the public that he was “temperamentally unfit” to be president. Meanwhile, the Clinton campaign—unlike the Trump and Sanders campaigns—struggled to find a message, testing 85 different slogans and finally settling on the insipid “Stronger Together.” So devoid of content was the campaign that a plaintive Joel Benenson, Clinton’s chief pollster, was reduced to emailing campaign chairman John Podesta in February of this year: “Do we have any sense from her what she believes or wants her core message to be?” Though Clinton for years had her eyes on the presidency, coming painfully close in 2008, her behavior in the two years after her term as Secretary of State ended in January 2013 needlessly put at risk her chances as well as those of the Democratic Party. In less than 24 months between 2013 and the beginning of 2015, Hillary Clinton was paid $21.7 million for delivering 92 speeches—this was in addition to the $104.9 million that Bill Clinton had received for 542 speeches given since he left office in January 2001.[3] The great majority of these speeches were to audiences at some of America’s largest private corporations, and some of them—the three speeches to Goldman Sachs at $225,000 per appearance are simply the best known—were delivered at the very Wall Street firms implicated in the economic collapse of 2008. Not all of Clinton’s speeches, however, were to private corporations; one prominent example of a speech to a non-profit institution was at the financially strapped University of California at Los Angeles in March 2014. Clinton’s fee for her speech at UCLA was $300,000; when officials there requested a reduced rate for public universities, they were told by Clinton’s representatives that $300,000 was the “special university rate.” The Clinton campaign—unlike the Trump and Sanders campaigns—struggled to find a message. In the presidential campaign of 2012, Barack Obama portrayed Mitt Romney as a heartless plutocrat who outsourced the jobs of American workers, and this appeal helped him win enough support in the white working class to carry Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Michigan. Donald Trump, a multi-billionaire who has a long record of exploiting undocumented workers and stiffing small contractors, was a ripe candidate for similar attacks. But Hillary Clinton, who had collected gigantic fees from corporate America and whose campaign was being heavily funded by Wall Street, was not the right candidate to make such charges stick.[4] No small part of her campaign’s ultimate failure was rooted in her inability to plausibly launch this line of attack.[5] Perhaps realizing that she was ill-suited to make a populist appeal to those left behind by globalization and de-industrialization, the Clinton campaign instead embarked on an identity-based strategy of reassembling the Obama coalition. The main target groups of this strategy were African-Americans, Latinos, Asian-Americans, millennials, and white women. But this strategy was no substitute for a clear message. In the end, the decidedly uncharismatic Clinton was unable to fully reassemble the Obama coalition, winning by strong majorities but smaller margins in virtually every group compared to Obama v. Romney in 2012: African-Americans (88-8 v. 93-6), Latinos (65-29 v. 71-27), Asian-Americans (65-29 v. 71-27), and millennials (55-37 v. 60-37). The one exception was women, and even here—despite concerted targeting and Donald Trump’s numerous egregiously sexist remarks and several highly-publicized accusations of sexual assault—the gain was a mere one point (54-42 v. 55-44). Women, who comprise 52 percent of the electorate, simply did not vote the way the Clinton campaign had projected. Though the gender gap was real, women voted more on the basis of race and class, with white women favoring Trump 53 to 43 and white women without college degrees voting for Trump by a stunning margin of 67 to 28. Even among white women with college degrees, thought by the campaign to be a key Clinton constituency, Trump lost by just 45 to 51. The Clinton campaign’s single-minded emphasis on diversity over social class was evident in a memo on the choice of vice president released by Wikileaks. In a March 17 email, Clinton campaign chair John Podesta wrote that he had “organized names into rough food groups,” beginning with Latinos, then women (all white), then African-Americans (all male). Also listed were white men (the group from which Tim Kaine was ultimately selected) and token groups of military and business leaders. But group mobilization often produces group counter-mobilization, a point emphasized by Thomas Edsall, who observed that “Clinton’s efforts to appeal to individual demographic groups fueled the retaliatory backlash that Trump capitalized on to make incremental but decisive gains.” Nevertheless, at the national level, Clinton’s strategy of assembling a diversity-based coalition worked reasonably well; she did, after all, win the popular vote by a margin of more than 2.8 million. But American elections are decided by the electoral college, and this requires winning enough states to garner 270 electoral votes. This is where Clinton’s strategy failed, and the place where it did so is clear: the industrial states of the “rust belt.” The first step toward understanding why Trump won Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan is to acknowledge that he had a clear and resonant message. Departing from Republican orthodoxy, Trump relentlessly attacked “free trade” deals such as NAFTA and TPP, the failure to secure the border and the presence in America of millions of undocumented (or, as he preferred to call them, “illegal”) immigrants, and U.S. involvement in unnecessary wars like Iraq and Libya. Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again,” his emphasis on “America First” (despite its unfortunate historical associations), and his repeated references to “forgotten Americans” were tailor-made to appeal to the white working-class populations of the upper Midwest. Sixty-four electoral votes were at stake, and it was here that he won the election. The White Working-Class Revolts Many analysts have blamed Clinton’s loss on the pervasive presence of racism and xenophobia in the white working class, and there is no shortage of survey evidence showing that Trump supporters were more likely to exhibit racist and xenophobic attitudes than those who voted for other candidates.[6] But it is also worth remembering that an African-American named Barack Hussein Obama was victorious in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Michigan in both 2008 and 2012, often by comfortable margins; indeed, many of the white working-class counties critical to Trump’s victory had twice voted heavily for Obama. Interestingly, even African-Americans were not immune to the 2016 trend towards Trump in these rust belt states, with the Democratic margins among blacks declining modestly in each of them.[7] But the main force behind Trump’s victory in these four critical industrial states was undeniably the white working class. In each of these states, white non-college educated men voted overwhelmingly for Trump: 71-26 in Pennsylvania, 70-26 in Ohio, 69-26 in Wisconsin, 68-24 in Michigan. And non-college educated white women, too, voted heavily for Trump, though not quite as decisively as men: 58-38 in Pennsylvania, 55-41 in Ohio, 56-40 in Wisconsin, and 57-38 in Michigan. This was a genuine working-class revolt. In an eerily prescient article written in July of this year, the filmmaker Michael Moore, himself a native of Flint, Michigan, predicted that Trump would win the election by focusing on “the four states of the rust belt of the upper Great Lakes—Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.” “From Green Bay to Pittsburgh,” he wrote, “this, my friends, is the middle of England, broken, depressed, struggling, the smokestacks strewn across the countryside with the carcass of what we used to call the middle class.” “Angry, embittered working (and nonworking) people… [feel] abandoned by the Democrats.” In truth, Hillary Clinton made little effort to speak to these people, not visiting Wisconsin even once during the campaign while making a futile trip to Arizona in search of Latino voters who failed in the end to tip this traditionally Republican state to the Democrats. Meanwhile, the objective circumstances of the working class continue to deteriorate; between 1975 and 2014, the median incomes of white male workers without a college degree declined by more than 20 percent (after adjusting for inflation), with a drop of 14 percent in the seven years between 2007 and 2014. Contempt for Trump Supporters But the Democrats’ problem with the white working class goes well beyond its failure to enact policies that protect its economic interests. For there is a powerful cultural dimension to the flight of less educated whites from the Democratic Party that is rooted in a feeling—not without justification—that many of its leading elements look down on them. This elemental feeling that they are not viewed by Democratic elites with dignity and respect was amply confirmed by Hillary Clinton’s now-famous remarks at a gala LGBT fundraiser in New York City. In it, she said that “you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic―you name it,” adding that some of them are “irredeemable.” These comments–and the laughter from the well-heeled audience–confirmed to Trump supporters that many Democrats hold them in contempt. According to Diane Hessan, whose special assignment for the Clinton campaign was to interview 250 undecided voters and to stay in touch with them over the course of the campaign, this was the moment—more than FBI Director James Comey’s remarks, more than the emails, and more than Bill Clinton’s visit with Attorney General Loretta Lynch on the tarmac—when undecided voters shifted to Trump. Hillary Clinton made little effort to speak to these people, not visiting Wisconsin even once during the campaign while making a futile trip to Arizona in search of Latino voters Having since the 1980s joined rather than resisted the move toward neoliberalism and having adopted a pro-corporate stance, the Democratic Party now finds itself in a crisis that is simultaneously political, economic, and cultural. After the electoral debacle of 2016, the Party is in a profoundly weakened state, with Republicans controlling not only the presidency, the House of Representatives, the Senate and (soon) the Supreme Court, but also 31 of 50 governorships, 35 state senates, and 32 state assemblies. The Democratic Party must now face the discomfiting reality that Obama’s two victories veiled serious underlying weaknesses; since his sweeping victory in 2008, Democrats have lost 64 seats in the House and 11 in the Senate. But political trends in the United States can reverse themselves with astonishing rapidity; Johnson’s 23-point victory over Goldwater in 1964 was followed by Nixon’s victory in 1968, and Nixon’s 23-point victory over McGovern was followed by Carter’s victory in 1976. Though the shock of defeat is still fresh, there are early signs that the progressive wing of the Democratic Party may be gaining strength. In the battle over leadership of the Democratic National Committee, a leading candidate is Keith Ellison of Minnesota, co-chair of the Progressive Caucus in the House of Representatives and an African-American Muslim. And it is already clear that Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders will be among the democratic party’s most influential figures. In the United States and abroad, 2016 was a year of populist revolt. As John Judis noted in an incisive new book, The Populist Explosion, populist movements are an early warning system of real problems that the major parties have downplayed or ignored.[8] But left-wing and right-wing populism are fundamentally different. Left-wing populism is dyadic and champions “the people against an elite or establishment”; right-wing populism is triadic and champions “the people against an elite that they accuse of coddling a third group, which can consist for example, of immigrants, Islamists, or African-American militants.” In 2016, Trump’s right-wing populism was triumphant, first in the Republican primaries and then in the general election. But unlike many European countries, there was a politically viable left-wing alternative in the form of the candidacy of Bernie Sanders. And had Sanders been nominated, he might well have won. Though there is no way of knowing how a Sanders v. Trump election would have played out, a nationally representative poll of 1638 registered voters taken just days before the election showed Sanders beating Trump by 12 points, 56 to 44.[9] At Clinton’s rallies in the closing days of a campaign notably lacking in inspiration, the speakers would often blare with the sounds of Andra Day’s stirring pop anthem, “Rise Up.” The 2016 election did witness an uprising, but it was not the one that the Clinton campaign had anticipated. What Democrats now need to ponder is whether the uprising in their own party might, in this year of the outsider, have been the best path to keep Donald Trump out of the White House. *** [1] Kevin P Phillips. The Emerging Republican Majority, New Rochelle, NY, Arlington House, 1969 [2] Jerome Karabel, “Is Hillary Clinton More Electable Than Bernie Sanders?”, The Huffington Post, January 26, 2016. See also Glenn Greenwald, “With Donald Trump Looming, Should Dems Take a Huge Electability Gamble by Nominating Hillary Clinton?,” The Intercept, February 24, 2016 [3] Tyler Durden, “The Complete Breakdown Of Every Hillary and Bill Clinton Speech, And Fee, Since 2013,” Zero Hedge, August 3, 2015; Philip Rucker, Tom Hamburger, and Alexander Becker, “How the Clintons Went From ‘Dead Broke” To Rich: Bill Earned $104.9 Million For Speeches,” The Washington Post, June 26, 2014 [4] John Carney and Anupreeta Das. “Hedge Fund Money Has Vastly Favored Clinton Over Trump,” The Wall Street Journal, July 29, 2016; Ben Norton, “Hillary Clinton Is Wall Street’s Preferred Candidate: Financial Execs Pouring Millions Into Her Campaign To Defeat Trump,” Salon, May 9, 2016 [5] According to a poll conducted by the AFL-CIO, Obama won union voters my a margin of 32 points over Romney (65-33) in 2012; in contrast, Clinton’s victory over Trump among union voters in 2016 was just 19 points (56-37). This loss of support among working-class voters was crucial in permitting Trump to breach the Democrats’ “blue wall” in the industrial states of the Midwest. [6]Dylan Matthews, “Taking Trump Voters’ Concerns Seriously Means Listening To What They’re Actually Saying,” Vox, October 15, 2016; Zack Beauchamp, “These 2 Charts Explain How Racism Helped Fuel Trump’s Victory,” Vox, 11/10/16 [7] This conclusion is based on my analysis of CNN state exit polls in 2012 and 2016. [8] John Judis. The Populist Explosion, New York, Columbia Global Report 2016 [9] Ryan Grim and Daniel Marans, “New Pre-Election Poll Suggests Bernie Sanders Could Have Trounced Donald Trump,” The Huffington Post, November 11, 2016. Sanders skeptics are correct when they argue that he would undoubtedly have faced fierce attacks from the Trump campaign; the question is how well he would have withstood them. For a sample of some of what was in the Republican opposition research file on Sanders, see  Kurt Eichenwald, “The Myths Democrats Swallowed That Cost Them the Presidential Election,” Newsweek, November 14, 2016 -- 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.

12 декабря 2016, 21:24

The Roots Of The Democratic Debacle

On January 20, what was unthinkable to many just a few weeks ago will become reality: Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States. Trump’s victory, which in many ways echoed the Brexit vote, was part of an increasingly global revolt against elites—political, financial, and cultural. It was also a populist rebellion against the economic and social dislocations of a globalization process dominated by the interests of multinational corporations and exacerbated by the rise to preeminence of a neoliberal ideology of deregulation, tax cuts, privatization, reduced social services, free trade, and the unimpeded movement of capital. From Goldwater to Reagan But the defeat of Hillary Clinton and the Democrats was also a consequence of a political crisis specific to the United States, one whose roots extend back to 1964, when the long migration of whites to the Republican Party began. As the liberal Lyndon Johnson vied for the presidency against the conservative Barry Goldwater, the New Deal coalition that had dominated American politics since 1932 began to show its first cracks. The cause was the civil rights movement, which aroused fierce opposition among whites in the deep South, leading them to abandon their historic attachment to the Democratic Party and to vote in five states—South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana—for a Republican Party led by a man who had opposed the Civil Rights Bill in the name of “states’ rights.” Though Johnson defeated Goldwater in a landslide, the “Solid South” was solid for the Democrats no more. By 1968, with opposition to the civil rights, student, anti-war, and other ‘60s movements mounting, it became apparent that the old and increasingly fragile New Deal coalition of labor, the South, northern blacks, and white liberals was in the process of disintegrating. This time the biggest shift took place in the North, where segments of the Northern working class—many of them white ethnics unsettled by the race riots and student revolts that punctuated the decade—abandoned the Democratic Party for Richard Nixon. The result was Republican victories in Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin, New Jersey, and Indiana—all Northern states with large working classes. Meanwhile, the movement of the South away from the Democratic Party escalated sharply, with nine of the eleven states of the confederacy voting either for Nixon (four) or the overtly racist George Wallace (five), most famous for his speech defiantly pledging “Segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!” Prior to the 1968 election, a young Nixon aide named Kevin Phillips completed a draft of a brilliant and prescient book entitled The Emerging Republican Majority. In it he argued that 1968 “bespoke the end of the New Deal Democratic hegemony and the rise of a dominant new Republican coalition in rising sections of the country,” notably the “Sun Belt” states of the South and West and in “Middle America” urban-suburban districts. The great political upheaval of the sixties, he argued, was not the progressive and left movements with which the decade is often identified, but “rather a populist revolt of the American masses…against the caste, policies and taxation of the mandarins of Establishment liberalism.” The results of the 1968 election, which Richard Nixon won with 301 electoral votes to 191 for Hubert Humphrey and 46 for George Wallace, seemed to confirm Phillips’ analysis. The Wallace voters, he predicted, would in short order logically migrate to the Republican Party, giving them a clear electoral majority; a “substantial Negro vote,” he pointedly noted, “is not necessary to national Republican victory.”[1] When Nixon was re-elected in a historic landslide in 1972 by a margin of 23 points, Phillips’ case for an emerging Republican majority seemed compelling. The Watergate scandals temporarily derailed the trend towards a Republican majority, and Jimmy Carter, a centrist born-again Southerner with considerable appeal in the states of the old confederacy, managed to win a close election in 1976. But the realignment already visible in 1968 was resoundingly confirmed in 1980, when Ronald Reagan won a decisive victory—489 electoral votes to 49—over the incumbent Carter. The 1980 election did more than signal an electoral realignment, for it also marked the arrival of a transformational presidency that would fundamentally change the boundaries of both policy and political discourse. With his simple formula of low taxes, small government, and a strong national defense, Reagan had constructed a resonant alternative to the long-reigning New Deal ideology. To be sure, Reagan’s appeal was not devoid of racial dog whistles; he had, after all, chosen to launch his 1980 presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi—the very place where three civil rights workers had been brutally murdered just 16 years earlier. In any event, Reagan’s combination of neoliberal economic policy and fierce opposition to Soviet communism proved immensely popular. When in 1984 he decimated Walter Mondale, a Democrat friendly to labor unions and widely perceived as an advocate of “big government,” by a margin of 525 to 13 in the electoral college, the last vestiges of the New Deal coalition had been swept away. Dilemma for the Democrats Having lost four of the last five elections, three of them by enormous margins, Democrats faced a genuine dilemma: how were they to regain the White House in the face of a formidable Republican juggernaut? The answer that began to emerge in the wake of Mondale’s defeat came in the form of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), a business-friendly movement within the Democratic Party that advocated a “third way” between the right-wing conservatism of Ronald Reagan and the liberalism of the New Deal and its heir, the Great Society. Founded in 1985 and emphasizing market-based, non-bureaucratic solutions to public problems and a hardline approach to foreign policy, the DLC did not offer an alternative to the neoliberalism of Reagan and Thatcher, but implicitly endorsed its central premises. Calling for less regulation of business and reduced reliance on large-scale government programs, the New Democrats advocated reduced welfare benefits, less progressive tax policies, and tough measures to combat crime, including stiffer prison sentences. Receiving a powerful boost from the decisive defeat of Michael Dukakis, a technocratic Northern liberal, by George H W Bush in the 1988 election, the DLC’s brand of soft neoliberalism was soon to become the ideology of the dominant wing of the Democratic Party. The Democratic Leadership Council did not offer an alternative to the neoliberalism of Reagan and Thatcher, but implicitly endorsed its central premises. Bill Clinton’s ascent to the leadership of the DLC in 1990 and his successful 1992 campaign for the presidency marked a turning point in the transformation of the Democratic Party into the corporate-friendly—and corporate-dependent—entity that was unable to defeat Donald Trump in 2016. Yet there is no denying Clinton’s singular accomplishment: to get elected and then re-elected after Republicans had controlled the White House for 20 of the previous 24 years. But Clinton’s personal electoral success came at a price. In 1994, the Democrats lost control of both Houses of Congress for the first time in decades, and Clinton chose to embark on a policy of “triangulation” between the Republicans and the Congressional Democrats that moved the Party to the right and alienated the activist base of the party. As part of this strategy of triangulation, Clinton sponsored and signed crime and welfare bills that, as Michelle Alexander documented, had disastrous effects on black America. As befit a New Democrat, Clinton in 1993 expended enormous political capital to gain passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) against fierce opposition within the Democratic Party. He also reneged on a major campaign pledge that linked removal of China’s “most favored nation” status as a trading partner to improvement in its record on human rights. In his second term, President Clinton signed the Financial Services Modernization Act, a measure that repealed the Glass-Steagall Act which separated commercial and investment banking and which furthered the deregulation of Wall Street—legislation that many analysts believe contributed to the financial meltdown of 2008. And in 2000, after having successfully lobbied for China’s entry into the World Trade Organization, he convinced Congress to establish permanent normal trading relations with China—an act that contributed to the loss of as many as 2.4 million manufacturing jobs in the United States. Far from repudiating the neoliberal economic policies initiated by Ronald Reagan, the Clinton presidency extended them into new domains. Obama’s Thwarted Aspirations Then, after an eight-year period of Republican rule under George W. Bush, who left office with one of the lowest approval ratings in modern history, Barack Obama won the White House in 2008 with the enthusiastic support of a multiracial coalition demanding fundamental—albeit not clearly defined—“change.” In an interview with the editorial board of the Reno Gazette-Journal ten months before he was elected, then-candidate Obama observed that “Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not, that Bill Clinton did not,” adding that Reagan “put us on a fundamentally different path.” The message was clear: unlike Hillary Clinton, his foe in the battle for the Democratic nomination, Obama aspired to be a genuinely transformational president. Eight years on, we can see that the Obama presidency proved neither transformational nor realigning. Coming into office in the midst of the gravest economic crisis since the Great Depression, his first task was to avoid a total collapse. In confronting this task, Obama departed from one key neoliberal orthodoxy, rejecting austerity and sponsoring a $800 billion stimulus package that helped avert a second Great Depression. But in other regards, he followed neoliberal dogma: studiously avoiding any policies that might undermine “business confidence” and attending solicitously to the needs of capital, including the powerful financial institutions responsible for the crisis. Thanks to WikiLeaks, we now know that Obama was seeking and following the advice of Wall Street even before he was elected; in a remarkable email dated October 6, 2008, Michael Fromer, an executive at Citigroup, wrote John Podesta, co-chair of Obama’s transition team (and in 2016 the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign), with a list of candidates for 31 cabinet-level positions as “recommended by various sources for senior level jobs.” The list bore a striking resemblance to the names that ended up in the cabinet, including Eric Holder (Attorney General), Robert Gates (Defense), Rahm Emmanuel (Chief of Staff), and Peter Orszag (Office of Management and Budget). For Treasury, the list had only three names: Timothy Geithner, Larry Summers, and Robert Rubin. In the end, Geithner became Secretary of Treasury, Summers Director of the National Economic Council, and Rubin a trusted informal advisor. Eight years on, we can see that the Obama presidency proved neither transformational nor realigning. Taking his cues from Wall Street, Obama advocated a policy notably friendly to the nation’s deeply unpopular major financial institutions: a gigantic taxpayer-funded bailout and a decision not to prosecute a single Wall Street executive for any transgressions committed in the lead-up to the crisis. At the same time, the Obama administration did little for the many millions of people who lost their homes and pensions as a result of the crash. In response, growing public outrage at the gentle treatment of Wall Street and the conspicuous lack of assistance offered to its victims, coupled with the rise of the Tea Party and the emergence of fierce opposition to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), the Democrats suffered a massive defeat in the mid-term elections, losing 64 seats in the House of Representatives and 10 seats in the Senate. In the 2012 presidential election, Obama again succeeded in cobbling together a coalition that, like Bill Clinton’s, was just strong enough to win him re-election, though this time by a margin of under 4 percent. But Democrats again suffered serious setbacks in the mid-term election of 2014, losing 13 seats in the House and 7 in the Senate. Having been swept into office in 2008 with the largest Democratic majority in the House and Senate since 1964, Obama had by 2014 managed to lose control of both Houses of Congress by considerable margins.  Signs of Popular Anger This was the political landscape when Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy for president in April 2015. The warning signs should have been evident: the Democrats had been roundly rejected in the two most recent mid-term elections, the economic recovery was still sluggish, and the emergence of the Tea Party on the right and Occupy Wall Street and other insurgent movements on the left seemed to suggest roiling popular discontent. Into this atmosphere of widespread dissatisfaction with the direction of the country stepped the former Secretary of State, Senator from New York, and First Lady—the very embodiment of the status quo at a moment of clamorous demand for change. The primary process in the Republican and Democratic parties quickly revealed seething populist anger against the Establishment on both the right and the left. But the response of party elites to popular insurgencies was very different; while the Republican Establishment, which despised Trump, proved unable to unify behind an alternative candidate and deny him the nomination, the Democratic Party establishment, deploying the ostensibly neutral Democratic National Committee and systematically enlisting major donors as well as its numerous allies in the media, succeeded in quashing a surprisingly strong left insurgency from Bernie Sanders. Nevertheless, the 74-year-old Sanders—a professed democratic socialist calling for a “political revolution”—won 22 states and 43 percent of the primary vote. For those who cared to look, by January 2016—even before a single primary vote had been cast—troubling signs about Clinton’s presidential prospects were everywhere visible: a majority of voters viewed her unfavorably, a far stronger majority viewed her as not “honest or trustworthy,” and a narrow majority viewed her as not caring “about the needs and problems of people like you”—the latter finding almost unprecedented among Democratic candidates.[2] Equally troubling, Clinton polled poorly on each of these items with independents, a group whose votes would be critical in the November election. Under ordinary circumstances, numbers like these would have been fatal for someone seeking a party’s presidential nomination. But the Democratic Party elite—its donors, its operatives, and the elected officials who comprise the “super-delegates”—had long since decided it was Hillary Clinton’s rightful turn. So, too, had President Obama, who quietly discouraged a possible Joe Biden candidacy and subtly placed his thumb on the scale on behalf of Hillary Clinton during her bitter and protracted primary battle with Sanders. What happened on November 8 cannot be understood apart from the decision of the Party Establishment to stick with Hillary in a year of mounting populist anger. ‘Any sense of her core message?’ The Clinton campaign was delighted to find Donald Trump as the sole remaining obstacle to the White House—he had, after all, said numerous outrageously racist, xenophobic, and misogynistic things during the primaries, and his erratic behavior had, their extensive focus-groups assured them, convinced the public that he was “temperamentally unfit” to be president. Meanwhile, the Clinton campaign—unlike the Trump and Sanders campaigns—struggled to find a message, testing 85 different slogans and finally settling on the insipid “Stronger Together.” So devoid of content was the campaign that a plaintive Joel Benenson, Clinton’s chief pollster, was reduced to emailing campaign chairman John Podesta in February of this year: “Do we have any sense from her what she believes or wants her core message to be?” Though Clinton for years had her eyes on the presidency, coming painfully close in 2008, her behavior in the two years after her term as Secretary of State ended in January 2013 needlessly put at risk her chances as well as those of the Democratic Party. In less than 24 months between 2013 and the beginning of 2015, Hillary Clinton was paid $21.7 million for delivering 92 speeches—this was in addition to the $104.9 million that Bill Clinton had received for 542 speeches given since he left office in January 2001.[3] The great majority of these speeches were to audiences at some of America’s largest private corporations, and some of them—the three speeches to Goldman Sachs at $225,000 per appearance are simply the best known—were delivered at the very Wall Street firms implicated in the economic collapse of 2008. Not all of Clinton’s speeches, however, were to private corporations; one prominent example of a speech to a non-profit institution was at the financially strapped University of California at Los Angeles in March 2014. Clinton’s fee for her speech at UCLA was $300,000; when officials there requested a reduced rate for public universities, they were told by Clinton’s representatives that $300,000 was the “special university rate.” The Clinton campaign—unlike the Trump and Sanders campaigns—struggled to find a message. In the presidential campaign of 2012, Barack Obama portrayed Mitt Romney as a heartless plutocrat who outsourced the jobs of American workers, and this appeal helped him win enough support in the white working class to carry Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Michigan. Donald Trump, a multi-billionaire who has a long record of exploiting undocumented workers and stiffing small contractors, was a ripe candidate for similar attacks. But Hillary Clinton, who had collected gigantic fees from corporate America and whose campaign was being heavily funded by Wall Street, was not the right candidate to make such charges stick.[4] No small part of her campaign’s ultimate failure was rooted in her inability to plausibly launch this line of attack.[5] Perhaps realizing that she was ill-suited to make a populist appeal to those left behind by globalization and de-industrialization, the Clinton campaign instead embarked on an identity-based strategy of reassembling the Obama coalition. The main target groups of this strategy were African-Americans, Latinos, Asian-Americans, millennials, and white women. But this strategy was no substitute for a clear message. In the end, the decidedly uncharismatic Clinton was unable to fully reassemble the Obama coalition, winning by strong majorities but smaller margins in virtually every group compared to Obama v. Romney in 2012: African-Americans (88-8 v. 93-6), Latinos (65-29 v. 71-27), Asian-Americans (65-29 v. 71-27), and millennials (55-37 v. 60-37). The one exception was women, and even here—despite concerted targeting and Donald Trump’s numerous egregiously sexist remarks and several highly-publicized accusations of sexual assault—the gain was a mere one point (54-42 v. 55-44). Women, who comprise 52 percent of the electorate, simply did not vote the way the Clinton campaign had projected. Though the gender gap was real, women voted more on the basis of race and class, with white women favoring Trump 53 to 43 and white women without college degrees voting for Trump by a stunning margin of 67 to 28. Even among white women with college degrees, thought by the campaign to be a key Clinton constituency, Trump lost by just 45 to 51. The Clinton campaign’s single-minded emphasis on diversity over social class was evident in a memo on the choice of vice president released by Wikileaks. In a March 17 email, Clinton campaign chair John Podesta wrote that he had “organized names into rough food groups,” beginning with Latinos, then women (all white), then African-Americans (all male). Also listed were white men (the group from which Tim Kaine was ultimately selected) and token groups of military and business leaders. But group mobilization often produces group counter-mobilization, a point emphasized by Thomas Edsall, who observed that “Clinton’s efforts to appeal to individual demographic groups fueled the retaliatory backlash that Trump capitalized on to make incremental but decisive gains.” Nevertheless, at the national level, Clinton’s strategy of assembling a diversity-based coalition worked reasonably well; she did, after all, win the popular vote by a margin of more than 2.8 million. But American elections are decided by the electoral college, and this requires winning enough states to garner 270 electoral votes. This is where Clinton’s strategy failed, and the place where it did so is clear: the industrial states of the “rust belt.” The first step toward understanding why Trump won Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan is to acknowledge that he had a clear and resonant message. Departing from Republican orthodoxy, Trump relentlessly attacked “free trade” deals such as NAFTA and TPP, the failure to secure the border and the presence in America of millions of undocumented (or, as he preferred to call them, “illegal”) immigrants, and U.S. involvement in unnecessary wars like Iraq and Libya. Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again,” his emphasis on “America First” (despite its unfortunate historical associations), and his repeated references to “forgotten Americans” were tailor-made to appeal to the white working-class populations of the upper Midwest. Sixty-four electoral votes were at stake, and it was here that he won the election. The White Working-Class Revolts Many analysts have blamed Clinton’s loss on the pervasive presence of racism and xenophobia in the white working class, and there is no shortage of survey evidence showing that Trump supporters were more likely to exhibit racist and xenophobic attitudes than those who voted for other candidates.[6] But it is also worth remembering that an African-American named Barack Hussein Obama was victorious in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Michigan in both 2008 and 2012, often by comfortable margins; indeed, many of the white working-class counties critical to Trump’s victory had twice voted heavily for Obama. Interestingly, even African-Americans were not immune to the 2016 trend towards Trump in these rust belt states, with the Democratic margins among blacks declining modestly in each of them.[7] But the main force behind Trump’s victory in these four critical industrial states was undeniably the white working class. In each of these states, white non-college educated men voted overwhelmingly for Trump: 71-26 in Pennsylvania, 70-26 in Ohio, 69-26 in Wisconsin, 68-24 in Michigan. And non-college educated white women, too, voted heavily for Trump, though not quite as decisively as men: 58-38 in Pennsylvania, 55-41 in Ohio, 56-40 in Wisconsin, and 57-38 in Michigan. This was a genuine working-class revolt. In an eerily prescient article written in July of this year, the filmmaker Michael Moore, himself a native of Flint, Michigan, predicted that Trump would win the election by focusing on “the four states of the rust belt of the upper Great Lakes—Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.” “From Green Bay to Pittsburgh,” he wrote, “this, my friends, is the middle of England, broken, depressed, struggling, the smokestacks strewn across the countryside with the carcass of what we used to call the middle class.” “Angry, embittered working (and nonworking) people… [feel] abandoned by the Democrats.” In truth, Hillary Clinton made little effort to speak to these people, not visiting Wisconsin even once during the campaign while making a futile trip to Arizona in search of Latino voters who failed in the end to tip this traditionally Republican state to the Democrats. Meanwhile, the objective circumstances of the working class continue to deteriorate; between 1975 and 2014, the median incomes of white male workers without a college degree declined by more than 20 percent (after adjusting for inflation), with a drop of 14 percent in the seven years between 2007 and 2014. Contempt for Trump Supporters But the Democrats’ problem with the white working class goes well beyond its failure to enact policies that protect its economic interests. For there is a powerful cultural dimension to the flight of less educated whites from the Democratic Party that is rooted in a feeling—not without justification—that many of its leading elements look down on them. This elemental feeling that they are not viewed by Democratic elites with dignity and respect was amply confirmed by Hillary Clinton’s now-famous remarks at a gala LGBT fundraiser in New York City. In it, she said that “you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic―you name it,” adding that some of them are “irredeemable.” These comments–and the laughter from the well-heeled audience–confirmed to Trump supporters that many Democrats hold them in contempt. According to Diane Hessan, whose special assignment for the Clinton campaign was to interview 250 undecided voters and to stay in touch with them over the course of the campaign, this was the moment—more than FBI Director James Comey’s remarks, more than the emails, and more than Bill Clinton’s visit with Attorney General Loretta Lynch on the tarmac—when undecided voters shifted to Trump. Hillary Clinton made little effort to speak to these people, not visiting Wisconsin even once during the campaign while making a futile trip to Arizona in search of Latino voters Having since the 1980s joined rather than resisted the move toward neoliberalism and having adopted a pro-corporate stance, the Democratic Party now finds itself in a crisis that is simultaneously political, economic, and cultural. After the electoral debacle of 2016, the Party is in a profoundly weakened state, with Republicans controlling not only the presidency, the House of Representatives, the Senate and (soon) the Supreme Court, but also 31 of 50 governorships, 35 state senates, and 32 state assemblies. The Democratic Party must now face the discomfiting reality that Obama’s two victories veiled serious underlying weaknesses; since his sweeping victory in 2008, Democrats have lost 64 seats in the House and 11 in the Senate. But political trends in the United States can reverse themselves with astonishing rapidity; Johnson’s 23-point victory over Goldwater in 1964 was followed by Nixon’s victory in 1968, and Nixon’s 23-point victory over McGovern was followed by Carter’s victory in 1976. Though the shock of defeat is still fresh, there are early signs that the progressive wing of the Democratic Party may be gaining strength. In the battle over leadership of the Democratic National Committee, a leading candidate is Keith Ellison of Minnesota, co-chair of the Progressive Caucus in the House of Representatives and an African-American Muslim. And it is already clear that Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders will be among the democratic party’s most influential figures. In the United States and abroad, 2016 was a year of populist revolt. As John Judis noted in an incisive new book, The Populist Explosion, populist movements are an early warning system of real problems that the major parties have downplayed or ignored.[8] But left-wing and right-wing populism are fundamentally different. Left-wing populism is dyadic and champions “the people against an elite or establishment”; right-wing populism is triadic and champions “the people against an elite that they accuse of coddling a third group, which can consist for example, of immigrants, Islamists, or African-American militants.” In 2016, Trump’s right-wing populism was triumphant, first in the Republican primaries and then in the general election. But unlike many European countries, there was a politically viable left-wing alternative in the form of the candidacy of Bernie Sanders. And had Sanders been nominated, he might well have won. Though there is no way of knowing how a Sanders v. Trump election would have played out, a nationally representative poll of 1638 registered voters taken just days before the election showed Sanders beating Trump by 12 points, 56 to 44.[9] At Clinton’s rallies in the closing days of a campaign notably lacking in inspiration, the speakers would often blare with the sounds of Andra Day’s stirring pop anthem, “Rise Up.” The 2016 election did witness an uprising, but it was not the one that the Clinton campaign had anticipated. What Democrats now need to ponder is whether the uprising in their own party might, in this year of the outsider, have been the best path to keep Donald Trump out of the White House. *** [1] Kevin P Phillips. The Emerging Republican Majority, New Rochelle, NY, Arlington House, 1969 [2] Jerome Karabel, “Is Hillary Clinton More Electable Than Bernie Sanders?”, The Huffington Post, January 26, 2016. See also Glenn Greenwald, “With Donald Trump Looming, Should Dems Take a Huge Electability Gamble by Nominating Hillary Clinton?,” The Intercept, February 24, 2016 [3] Tyler Durden, “The Complete Breakdown Of Every Hillary and Bill Clinton Speech, And Fee, Since 2013,” Zero Hedge, August 3, 2015; Philip Rucker, Tom Hamburger, and Alexander Becker, “How the Clintons Went From ‘Dead Broke” To Rich: Bill Earned $104.9 Million For Speeches,” The Washington Post, June 26, 2014 [4] John Carney and Anupreeta Das. “Hedge Fund Money Has Vastly Favored Clinton Over Trump,” The Wall Street Journal, July 29, 2016; Ben Norton, “Hillary Clinton Is Wall Street’s Preferred Candidate: Financial Execs Pouring Millions Into Her Campaign To Defeat Trump,” Salon, May 9, 2016 [5] According to a poll conducted by the AFL-CIO, Obama won union voters my a margin of 32 points over Romney (65-33) in 2012; in contrast, Clinton’s victory over Trump among union voters in 2016 was just 19 points (56-37). This loss of support among working-class voters was crucial in permitting Trump to breach the Democrats’ “blue wall” in the industrial states of the Midwest. [6]Dylan Matthews, “Taking Trump Voters’ Concerns Seriously Means Listening To What They’re Actually Saying,” Vox, October 15, 2016; Zack Beauchamp, “These 2 Charts Explain How Racism Helped Fuel Trump’s Victory,” Vox, 11/10/16 [7] This conclusion is based on my analysis of CNN state exit polls in 2012 and 2016. [8] John Judis. The Populist Explosion, New York, Columbia Global Report 2016 [9] Ryan Grim and Daniel Marans, “New Pre-Election Poll Suggests Bernie Sanders Could Have Trounced Donald Trump,” The Huffington Post, November 11, 2016. Sanders skeptics are correct when they argue that he would undoubtedly have faced fierce attacks from the Trump campaign; the question is how well he would have withstood them. For a sample of some of what was in the Republican opposition research file on Sanders, see  Kurt Eichenwald, “The Myths Democrats Swallowed That Cost Them the Presidential Election,” Newsweek, November 14, 2016 -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

09 декабря 2016, 02:37

What Will Be The Future of The Democratic Party?

Photo by Rhododendrites, Wikimedia The 2016 election may be the most confounding political event in living memory. And the need to understand it is urgent. That a candidate so obviously lacking in virtue, principal, and understanding of the world beyond his own narrow ambitions, should break out from the large field of Republican contenders and win the nomination speaks volumes about the failure of the Republican establishment to offer a credible vision for America's future. That so many Americans would choose an outcome that is so obviously to their detriment calls for an explanation. And on the other hand, that the tone deaf Democratic Party establishment considered Hillary Clinton entitled to their loyalty may at first be understandable. But ignoring the unparalleled enthusiasm engendered by Bernie Sanders, then putting every possible obstacle in his way, and actually plotting to sabotage his campaign, revealed a very undemocratic mentality at the core of the party establishment. And how should we evaluate the American people? Are we smart enough to recognize that we are losing our social solidarity and confronted with very serious contradictions in our society, but too dumb to recognize where positive change may lie? Are we incapable of recognizing the people and policies that could change what really needs to change? Now that the choice has been made, we will see the wisdom of the electorate (or the lack of it). Will Donald Trump, for instance, prove to have a coherent set of values and an adequate understanding of the world, or will he fall under the influence of corporate lobbyists, or figures with an even more authoritarian bent than himself? What happens if the Trump train shows itself to have no positive destination, or worse yet, goes off the rails? Donald Trump may be a vulgar, narcissistic, and immature human being, but the extreme degree to which the major media focused on and even exaggerated his faults will only accrue to their discredit. From the beginning they gave him more time than he deserved; we were treated to a moral train wreck in slow motion. I remember the prescient words of my own personal trainer, who admits to knowing nothing about politics, saying that since no one trusts the media, a lot of people were going to automatically think there must be something good about Donald Trump. Actually, Trump's critique of NAFTA and the TPP are anti-globalist policies that most progressives would agree with. His call for the reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall act is, on the face of it, more progressive than Hillary's positions on financial reform. And finally, his much maligned lack of antagonism toward Russia may be a more sensible and humane policy than the demonization of Russia, a very alarming and unjustified belligerence that only neo-cons could love. Hillary added her shrill voice to the chorus of militarists who want nothing less than full-spectrum dominance by the American Empire. In this regard, Donald Trump was almost a model of modesty and fair play. The Democratic Party misjudged not only the so-called "basket of deplorables," but the American people as a whole. So self-satisfied in their granting complete entitlement to Hillary Clinton, ignoring the lukewarm reception given to her by the public, ignoring the many reasons for which she has lost the trust of many people, ignoring, too, the tens of thousands of people who right up to the day before the election were willing to stand in line for hours on cold nights to hear Donald Trump. Perhaps, the bottom line for many Americans was that Donald Trump represented change (at any cost) and Hillary represented more of the same. And why is it that no one in journalism or the media ever brought up Hillary's complicity in some of the greatest tragedies of our time. The fact that the greatest refugee problem since at least the Second World War was entirely generated by poorly conceived interventions in the Middle East by American power. Much of it began with the Afghan and Iraq wars, which President Bush initiated, and Hillary supported for a long time. But even more significantly, she was the primary cheerleader for the attack on Libya, which led to the destruction of civil society there and opened the floodgates of African emigration from the coast of Libya which had until that time been effectively policed by Qaddafi. Hillary as Secretary of State also lent American support for Islamic extremists in Syria, which has been the cause of millions more refugees. Furthermore, Hillary has stood with the shameful record of the Obama administration toward whistleblowers. Courageous people like Manning, Snowden, Kiriakou, and Assange who risked so much, have paid such a high price for bringing to light facts which should never have been secret. Condemned, imprisoned, confined, or exiled, this is how the Democratic (and Republican) establishment treats truth-tellers, while the policy-makers who approved illegal surveillance, torture, war crimes, backing Islamic terrorists in Syria, and covert operations yet to be revealed wear suits of respectability. But to return to the aftermath of the election -- two days before the election Congressman Alan Grayson initiated a poll. "If the Presidential candidates were Democrat Bernie Sanders and Republican Donald Trump, for whom would you vote?" The results were: Sanders 56%, Trump 44%. Grayson reported: "That would have been the largest presidential victory since 1984 (Reagan vs. Mondale), and the largest Democratic victory since 1964 (Johnson vs. Goldwater). Bernie Sanders would have won more than 400 electoral votes. He would have swept every Atlantic state except South Carolina. He would have prevailed in every state bordering Mexico, including Texas, which the Democrats haven't won since 1976." Bernie ran a heroic campaign. In June 2015 about 16 months before the election, I witnessed the effect of one of his earliest speeches at a time when his popularity was said to be about 2%. I felt in my soul and said to anyone who would listen, that Bernie can touch the hearts of the American people; he can be our next president, unless it is stolen from him. There are many ways that elections and primaries can be rigged or stolen -- some of them within the bounds of legality, and some of them definitely not. Major discrepancies in exit polling data compared to final results always favored one candidate, and one candidate alone: Hillary Clinton. The outcomes in New York and California, particularly, raise questions that need to be answered. His was not a perfect campaign, either -- too much emphasis, perhaps, on socialist giveaways, which, by the way, is not really why people got excited about him. But anyone who sensed his authenticity -- especially those who have watched him over decades fighting for the well-being of the average American, and making wise choices in foreign policy -- knew that Bernie could be trusted to do the right thing. Up in the Northeast Kingdom region of Vermont where Democrats are few and far between it was common at election times to see signs for Bernie and Bush in the front yards of farmers and the working poor. These hard-scrabble conservatives understood that Bernie, to use that now so popular military expression, "had their back." Hillary, always the handmaiden of neo-liberalism, would have continued Obama's subservience to the financial fraudulence of Wall Street. This is what the Democratic Party has become. The Democratic Party has become a partner to oligarchy, to neo-liberal economics, and to neo-con militarism. Even under the benign, gracious, and mild administration of Barack Obama bad things have happened: vicious and counterproductive drone attacks have multiplied; the relatively wise and moderate Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was removed without explanation and replaced with "liberal" neo-con, Ashton Carter; the financial fraud of the banksters has gone unpunished; fracking continues unabated despite local resistance; GMO and agribusiness lobbyists rule the Department of Agriculture claiming science is on their side, "science" they paid for; more whistleblowers have been prosecuted than in any previous administration; more weapons than ever have been sold, including to Saudi Arabia, which continues to use them to slaughter many thousands of innocent civilians in Yemen; the Ukraine was subjected to an illegal American organized and financed coup, and eventually turned over to fascistic nationalists, GMO promoting agribusiness, and frackers, meanwhile blaming Russia for aggression in Crimaea; while certain elements of the US government continue to incite and threaten Russia, Iran, and China. Meanwhile, those in denial of present realities still cling to the idea that the Democratic party has been the party of humane liberalism, progressive ideals, and the wishes of the vast majority of Americans. They congratulate themselves for the unwieldy and problematic Affordable Care Act, minor gains in environmental protection and alternative energies, and the relatively small cultural victories, the "boutique political issues" such as gay and transgender rights. And let us remember that the crown jewel of Hillary's reign at the State Department, the Iran Nuclear Treaty, may have been an exaggerated solution to a nearly nonexistent problem: neither did United States intelligence nor any international watchdog agency actually accuse let alone prove Iran had a weapons program. Furthermore, the religious dictatorship of Iran, whatever one thinks of it, has always maintained that nuclear weapons are strictly against Islamic law and have no practical use anyway. The neo-con agenda which aims at full-spectrum dominance in a uni-polar world must always seek to create enemies to justify the growth of the military-industrial complex and its own twisted sense of purpose. In the area of finance, the Democrats have failed to question the actualities of the Federal Reserve Bank, oblivious to the idea that it is an unconstitutional, and therefore illegal, privately owned monopoly that creates money merely by entering numbers in a computer and whose books remain un-audited and inaccessible the public. Most liberals seem to have no idea that without the Federal Reserve's cooperation, the military-industrial complex could not proceed with its lavish expenditures, because the American people would not tolerate the cost to themselves, costs that are now hidden and paid for by the central bank's capacity to supply as much money as the war machine needs. This is an area never mentioned by Democratic politicians, and yet it is at the heart of what is impoverishing Americans and enriching the .01%. Americans are confused. They have the sense that something is really wrong, that great injustices are being perpetrated, that their lives and their futures are being taken from them, and not really knowing who to blame, not being able to sufficiently connect the dots, or connect any dots for that matter, many of them would rather hurl rocks through the window of the establishment for no good reason other than to register their protest. The so-called "deplorables" have voted against the deplorable policies of both the Republican and Democratic parties. Even though poll after poll reveals that the vast majority of Americans support what are basically progressive policies, too many Americans allow themselves to be coerced by fears, by scapegoating, by false patriotism and the delusions of American exceptionalism. And the Democrats, for their part, need to not only clarify a progressive vision for this country, hammering hard on the oligarchy, the financial tyranny, the wastefulness of the military-industrial complex, the bogus and counterproductive "War on Terror." These forces need to be confronted on the basis of both moral values and fiscal responsibility. Perhaps in this election Americans sensed that they had no real choice, and so a surprising number defiantly chose what even they realized was the nihilistic option. Other Americans, including those who voted for Trump, are not the enemy. The lack of empathy on both sides of the divide only contributes to further polarization. If Americans are given a real alternative to neo-liberal economic tyranny and neoconservative militarism, would they make the wrong, disastrous choice again? There are truths that need to be communicated to the wounded and/or hardened hearts of the American people, communicated by leaders who can break through the false reality maintained by mainstream and even "alternative" media, who can speak with authenticity and heart. The consideration of Rep. Keith Ellison has head of the Democratic National Committee is promising. The Democratic Party, or perhaps some new Independent Party, could "make America great again" by remembering that America, despite its faults, once had a heart, and could have it 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.

08 декабря 2016, 19:43

How To Swamp Washington And Double-Cross Your Supporters Big Time

Trump’s Bait and Switch Cross-posted with TomDispatch.com Given his cabinet picks so far, it’s reasonable to assume that The Donald finds hanging out with anyone who isn’t a billionaire (or at least a multimillionaire) a drag. What would there be to talk about if you left the Machiavellian class and its exploits for the company of the sort of normal folk you can rouse at a rally?  It’s been a month since the election and here’s what’s clear: crony capitalism, the kind that festers and grows when offered public support in its search for private profits, is the order of the day among Donald Trump’s cabinet picks. Forget his own “conflicts of interest.” Whatever financial, tax, and other policies his administration puts in place, most of his appointees are going to profit like mad from them and, in the end, Trump might not even wind up being the richest member of the crew.  Only a month has passed since November 8th, but it’s already clear (not that it wasn’t before) that Trump’s anti-establishment campaign rhetoric was the biggest scam of his career, one he pulled off perfectly. As president-elect and the country’s next CEO-in-chief, he’s now doing what many presidents have done: doling out power to like-minded friends and associates, loyalists, and -- think John F. Kennedy, for instance -- possibly family.  Here, however, is a major historical difference: the magnitude of Trump’s cronyism is off the charts, even for Washington. Of course, he’s never been a man known for doing small and humble. So his cabinet, as yet incomplete, is already the richest one ever. Estimates of how loaded it will be are almost meaningless at this point, given that we don’t even know Trump’s true wealth (and will likely never see his tax returns). Still, with more billionaires at the doorstep, estimates of the wealth of his new cabinet members and of the president-elect range from my own guesstimate of about $12 billion up to $35 billion. Though the process is as yet incomplete, this already reflects at least a quadrupling of the wealth represented by Barack Obama’s cabinet. Trump’s version of a political and financial establishment, just forming, will be bound together by certain behavioral patterns born of relationships among those of similar status, background, social position, legacy connections, and an assumed allegiance to a dogma of self-aggrandizement that overshadows everything else. In the realm of politico-financial power and in Trump’s experience and ideology, the one with the most toys always wins. So it’s hardly a surprise that his money- and power-centric cabinet won’t be focused on public service or patriotism or civic duty, but on the consolidation of corporate and private gain at the expense of the citizenry. It’s already obvious that, to Trump, “draining the swamp” means filling it with new layers of golden sludge, similar in color to the decorations that adorn buildings with his name, including the new Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue near the White House where foreign diplomats are already flocking to curry favor and even the toilet paper holders in the lobby bathrooms are faux-gold-plated. The rarified world of his cabinet choices is certainly a universe away from the struggling working class folks he bamboozled with promises of bringing back American “greatness.” And yet the soaring value of his cabinet should be seen as merely a departure point for our four-year (or more) leap into what is guaranteed to be an abyss of inequality and instability. Forget their wealth. What their business conflicts, relationships, and ideological stances indicate about what they’ll do to America is far more worrisome. And though Trump promised (and tweeted) that he’d be “completely out of business operations,” the possibility of such a full exit for him (or any of his crew) is about as likely as a full reveal of those tax returns. Trumping History There is, in fact, some historical precedent for a president surrounding himself with such a group of self-interested power-grabbers, but you’d have to return to Warren G. Harding’s administration in the early 1920s to find it. The “Roaring Twenties” that ended explosively in a stock market collapse in 1929 began, ominously enough, with a presidency filled with similar figures, as well as policies remarkably similar to those now being promised under Trump, including major tax cuts and giveaways for corporations and the deregulation of Wall Street.  A notably weak figure, Harding liberally delegated policymaking to the group of senior Republicans he chose to oversee his administration who were dubbed “the Ohio gang” (though they were not all from Ohio). Scandal soon followed, above all the notorious Teapot Dome incident in which Secretary of the Interior Albert Fall leased petroleum reserves owned by the Navy in Wyoming and California to two private oil companies without competitive bidding, receiving millions of dollars in kickbacks in return. That scandal and the attention it received darkened Harding’s administration. Until the Enron scandal of 2001-2002, it would serve as the poster child for money (and oil) in politics gone bad. Given Donald Trump’s predisposition for green-lighting pipelines and promoting fossil fuel development, a modern reenactment of Teapot Dome is hardly beyond imagining. Harding’s other main contributions to American history involved two choices he made. He offered businessman Herbert Hoover the job of secretary of commerce and so put him in play to become president in the years just preceding the Great Depression.  And in a fashion that now looks Trumpian, he also appointed one of the richest men on Earth, billionaire Andrew Mellon, as his treasury secretary.  Mellon, a Pittsburgh industrialist-financier, was head of the Mellon National Bank; he founded both the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa), for which he’d be accused of unethical behavior while treasury secretary (as he still owned stock in the company and his brother was a close associate), and the Gulf Oil Company; and with Henry Clay Frick, he co-founded the Union Steel Company.   He promptly set to work -- and this will sound familiar today -- cutting taxes on the wealthy and corporations. At the same time, he essentially left Wall Street free to concoct the shadowy “trusts” that would use borrowed money to purchase collections of shares in companies and real estate, igniting the 1929 stock market crash. After Mellon, who had served three presidents, left Herbert Hoover’s administration, he fell under investigation for unpaid federal taxes and tax-related conflicts of interest. Modernizing Warren G. Within the political-financial establishment, the more things change, the more, it seems, they stay the same. As Trump moves ahead with his cabinet picks, several of them already stand out in a Mellon-esque fashion for their staggering wealth, their legal entanglements, and the policies they seem ready to support that sound like eerie throwbacks to the age of Harding.  Of course, you can’t tell the players without a scorecard, so here are the top four of the moment (with more on the way). Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross (net worth $2.9 billion) Shades of Andrew Mellon, Ross, a registered Democrat until Trump scooped him up, made his fortune as a corporate vulture (sporting the nickname “the king of bankruptcy”).  He was notorious for devouring the carcasses of dying companies, spitting them out, and pocketing the profits.  He bought bankrupt steel companies, while moving $6.4 billion of their employee pension benefits to the rescue fund of the government’s Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation so he could make company financials look better. In the early 2000s, his steel industry deals bagged him an impressive $267 million. Stripped of health-care benefits, retired steelworkers at his companies didn’t fare as well.    Trump, of course, has promised the world to the sinking coal industry and out-of-work coal miners. His new commerce secretary, however, owned a coal mine in West Virginia, notoriously cited for hundreds of violations, where 12 miners subsequently died in an explosion.   Ross also made money running Rothschild Inc.’s bankruptcy-restructuring group for nearly two-and-a-half decades. A member (and once leader) of a secret Wall Street fraternity, Kappa Beta Phi, in 2014 he remarked that “the one percent is being picked on for political reasons.” He has an art collection valued conservatively at $150 million, or 3,000 times the average American’s income of $51,000. In addition, he happens to own a Florida estate only miles down the road from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago private club. While Trump has lambasted China for stealing American jobs, Ross (like Trump) has made money from China. In 2010, one of that country’s state-owned enterprises, China Investment Corporation, put $500 million in Ross’s private equity fund, WL Ross & Company. Ross has not disclosed whether these investments remain in his fund, though he told the New York Post that if Trump believes there are conflicts of interest among any of his investments, he would divest himself of them. In August 2016, his company had to pay a $2.3 million fine to the Securities and Exchange Commission to settle charges for not properly disclosing $10.4 million in management fees charged to his investors in the decade leading up to 2011. In October, Ross assured Bloomberg that China will continue to be an investment opportunity.  As secretary of commerce, the world will become his personal business venture and boardroom, while U.S. taxpayers will be his funders. He is an ardent crusader for corporate tax cuts (wanting to slash them from 35% to 15%). As head of the commerce department, the man the Economist dubbed “Mr. Protectionism” in 2004 will be in charge of any protectionist policies the administration implements. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos (family wealth $5.1 billion) DeVos, the daughter of a billionaire and daughter-in-law of the cofounder of the multilevel marketing empire Amway, has had no actual experience with public schools. Unlike most of the rest of America (myself included), she never attended a public school, nor have any of her children. (Neither did Trump.) But she and her family have excelled at the arithmetic of campaign contributions. They are estimated to have contributed at least $200 million to shaping the conservative movement and various right-wing causes over the last half-century.  As she wrote in the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call in 1997, “My family is the biggest contributor of soft money to the Republican National Committee.” That trend only continued in the years that followed. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, since 1989 she and her relatives have given at least $20.2 million to Republican candidates, party committees, PACs, and super PACs.  The center further noted that, “Betsy herself, along with her husband, Dick DeVos, Jr., has contributed more than $7.7 million to federal candidates, committees, and parties since 1990, including almost $4.8 million to super PACs.”  Her brother, ex-Navy SEAL Erik Prince, founded the controversial private security contractor Blackwater (now known as Academi). He also made two considerable donations to Make America Number 1, a super PAC that first backed Senator Ted Cruz and then Trump. So whatever you do, don’t expect Betsy De Vos’s help in allocating additional federal funds to elevate the education of citizens who actually do attend public schools, or rather what Donald Trump now likes to call “failing government schools.” Instead, she’s undoubtedly going to promote privatizing school voucher programs and charter schools across the country and let those failing government schools go down the tubes as part of a Republican war on public education.   Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao (net worth $25 million) As the daughter of a wealthy shipping magnate, a former labor secretary for George W. Bush, and the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Chao’s establishment connections are overwhelming. They include board positions at Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp and at Wells Fargo Bank.  While Chao was on its board, Wells Fargo scammed its customers to the tune of $2.4 million, and incurred billions of dollars of fines for other crimes. She was silent when its former CEO John Stumpf resigned in a blaze of contriteness.    In 2008, Chao ranked 8th in Bush’s executive branch in terms of net worth at  $16.9 million. In 2009, Politico reported that, in memory of her mother who passed away in 2007, she and her husband received a “personal gift” from the Chao family worth between $5 million and $25 million. In 2014, the Center for Responsive Politics ranked McConnell, with an estimated net worth somewhere around $22 million, as the 11th richest senator. As with all things wealth related, the truth is a moving target but the one thing Chao’s not (which may make her a rarity in this cabinet) is a billionaire. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (net worth between $46 million and $1 billion) Hedge fund mogul and Hollywood producer Steven Mnuchin is the third installment on Goldman Sachs’s claim to own the position of Treasury secretary. In fact, when it comes to the stewardship of the country’s economy, Goldman continues to reign supreme.  Bill Clinton appointed the company’s former co-chairman Robert Rubin to Treasury in gratitude for his ability to bestow on him Wall Street cred and the contributions that went with it. George W. Bush appointed former Goldman Sachs Chairman and CEO Hank Paulson as his final Treasury secretary, just in time for the “too big to fail” economic meltdown of 2007-2008. Now, Trump, who swore he’d drain “the swamp” in Washington, is carrying on the tradition. The difference? While Rubin and Paulson pushed for the deregulation of the financial industry that led to the Great Recession and then used federal funds to bail out their friends, Mnuchin, who spent 17 years with Goldman Sachs, eventually made an even bigger fortune by being on the predatory receiving end of federal support while scarfing up a failed bank. In 2008, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), formed in 1934 to insure the deposits of citizens at commercial banks, closed 25 banks, including the Pasadena-based IndyMac Bank. In early January 2009, the FDIC agreed to sell failed lender IndyMac to IMB HoldCo LLC, a company owned by a pack of private equity investors led by former Goldman Sachs partner Mnuchin of Dune Capital Management LP for about $13.9 billion. (They only had to put up $1.3 billion in cash for it, however.) When the deal closed on March 19, 2009, IMB formed a new federally chartered savings bank, OneWest Bank (also run by Mnuchin), to complete the purchase. The FDIC took a $10.7 billion loss in the process. OneWest then set about foreclosing on IndyMac’s properties, the cost of which was fronted by the FDIC, as was most of the loss that was incurred from hemorrhaging mortgages. In other words, the government backed Mnuchin’s private deal big time and so helped give him his nickname, the “foreclosure king,” as he became an even wealthier man. By October 2011, protesters were marching outside Mnuchin’s Los Angeles mansion with “Stop taking our homes” signs. OneWest soon became mired in lawsuits and on multiple occasions settled for millions of dollars. Nonetheless, Mnuchin sold the bank for a cool $3.4 billion in August 2015. Shades of the president-elect, he also left another beleaguered company, Relativity Media, where he had been co-chairman, two months before it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2015. Mnuchin’s policy priorities include an overhaul of the federal tax code (aimed mainly at helping his elite buddies), financial deregulation (including making the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 significantly more lenient for hedge funds), and a review of existing trade agreements. He has indicated no support for reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, which separated commercial banks that held citizens’ deposits and loans from the speculative practices of investment banks until it was repealed in 1999 under the Clinton administration. Gilded Government Hillary Clinton certainly cashed in big time on her Wall Street connections during her career and her presidential campaign. And yet her approach already seems modest compared to Trump’s new open-door policy to any billionaire willing to come on board his ship. His new incarnation of the old establishment largely consists of billionaires and multimillionaires with less than appetizing nicknames from their previous predatory careers. They favor government support for their private gain as well as deregulation, several of them having already specialized in making money off the collateral damage from such policies. Trump offered Americans this promise: "I'm going to surround myself only with the best and most serious people." In his world, best means rich, and serious means seriously shielded from the way much of the rest of the country lives. Once upon a time, I, too, worked for Goldman Sachs. I left in 2002, the same year that Steven Mnuchin did.  I did not go on to construct deals that hurt citizens. He did. Public spirit is a choice. Aspiring to run government as a business (something President Calvin Coolidge tried out in the 1920s with dismal results for America), Trump is now surrounding himself with a crew of crony capitalists who understand boardroom speak, but have nothing in common with most Americans.  So give him credit: his administration is already one of the great political bait-and-switch productions in our history and it hasn’t even begun.  Count on one thing: in his presidency he’ll only double down on that “promise.” Nomi Prins, a TomDispatch regular, is the author of six books. Her most recent is All the Presidents' Bankers: The Hidden Alliances That Drive American Power (Nation Books). She is a former Wall Street executive. Special thanks go to researcher Craig Wilson for his superb work on this piece. Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt's latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

01 декабря 2016, 22:23

Bernie Sanders: 'This Campaign Was About Transforming America'

The following is an excerpt from Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In By Bernie Sanders When we began our race for the presidency in April 2015, we were considered by the political establishment and the media to be a "fringe" campaign, something not to be taken seriously. After all, I was a senator from a small state with very little name recognition. Our campaign had no money, no political organization, and we were taking on the entire Democratic Party establishment. And, by the way, we were also running against the most powerful political operation in the country. The Clinton machine had won the presidency for Bill Clinton twice and almost won the Democratic presidential nomination for Hillary Clinton in 2008. When our campaign finally came to a close in July 2016, it turned out that the pundits had got it wrong -- big-time. We had made history and run one of the most consequential campaigns in the modern history of the country—a campaign that would, in a very profound way, change America. We received more than 13 million votes in primaries and caucuses throughout the country. We won twenty-two states, more than a few by landslide proportions. We won 1,846 pledged delegates to the Democratic Convention, 46 percent of the total. Importantly, in virtually every state, we won a strong majority of younger people—the future of America. We won large percentages of the vote from white, black, Latino, Asian-American, and Native American youth. We set the agenda for the America of tomorrow. On April 25, 2016, The Washington Post reported on a poll conducted by the Harvard Institute of Politics. "'The data, collected by researchers at Harvard University, suggest that not only has Sanders's campaign made for an unexpectedly competitive Democratic primary, he has also changed the way millennials think about politics,' said polling director John Della Volpe. 'He's not moving a party to the left. He's moving a generation to the left,' Della Volpe said of the senator from Vermont. 'Whether or not he's winning or losing, it's really that he's impacting the way in which a generation—the largest generation in the history of America—thinks about politics.'" At a time when political apathy is high, voter turnout is abysmally low, and millions of Americans are giving up on the political process, our campaign attracted the energetic support of hundreds of thousands of volunteers in every state in the country. We had the largest rallies of the campaign and, in total, more than 1.4 million people attended our public meetings. As a result of our victories in a number of states, there are now at least five new chairs of state Democratic parties who were elected as part of the political revolution. Further, there are a number of progressive candidates, energized and supported by our campaign, running for office for everything from school board to the U.S. Congress—and many of them will win. New blood. New energy in the political process. Sign up for more essays, interviews and excerpts from Thought Matters. ThoughtMatters is a partnership between Macmillan Publishers and Huffington Post And we showed—in a way that can change politics in America forever—that you can run a competitive national grassroots campaign without begging millionaires and billionaires for campaign contributions. We, proudly, were the only campaign not to have a super PAC. In a manner unprecedented in American history, we received some 8 million individual campaign contributions. The average contribution was $27. These donations came from 2.5 million Americans, the vast majority of whom were low- or moderate-income people. During the campaign, we forced discussion on issues the establishment had swept under the rug for far too long. We brought attention to the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality in this country and the importance of breaking up the large banks that brought our economy to the brink of collapse. We exposed our horrendous trade policies, our broken criminal justice system, and our people's lack of access to affordable health care and higher education. We addressed the global crisis of climate change, the need for real comprehensive immigration reform, the importance of developing a foreign policy that values diplomacy over war, and so much more. Importantly, the support that we won showed that our ideas were not outside of the mainstream. We showed that millions of Americans want a bold, progressive agenda that takes on the billionaire class and creates a government that works for all of us and not just for big campaign donors. The widespread and popular support we received for our agenda helped transform the Democratic Party and forced Secretary Clinton to move her position closer to ours in a number of areas. She began the campaign as a supporter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Keystone Pipeline. She ended up being in opposition to both. As a result of negotiations between the two camps after the campaign ended, Secretary Clinton adopted bold positions on higher education and health care that moved her closer to what we had advocated. Our campaign also had a huge impact on the writing of the most progressive platform, by far, in the history of the Democratic Party. Despite being in the minority, our supporters ended up shaping much of that platform. Here is some of what the Democratic Party of 2016 stands for: A $15-an-hour federal minimum wage, the expansion of Social Security benefits, and the creation of millions of new jobs that will be needed to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. The breaking up of too-big-to-fail banks and the creation of a twenty-first-century Glass-Steagall Act. The closing of loopholes that allow multinational corporations to avoid federal taxes by stashing their cash in offshore tax havens. The combating of climate change by putting a price on carbon and transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels. Major criminal justice reform, including the abolition of the death penalty, the ending of private prisons, and the establishment of a path toward the legalization of marijuana. The passage of comprehensive immigration reform. The most expansive agenda ever for protecting Native American rights. During the fifteen months of the campaign there was one central point that I made over and over again, and let me repeat it here: This campaign was never just about electing a president of the United States—as enormously important as that was. This campaign was about transforming America. It was about the understanding that real change never takes place from the top on down. It always takes place from the bottom on up. It takes place when ordinary people, by the millions, are prepared to stand up and fight for justice. That's what the history of the trade union movement is about. That's what the history of the women's movement is about. That's what the history of the civil rights movement is about. That's what the history of the gay rights movement is about. That's what the history of the environmental movement is about. That's what any serious movement for justice is about. That's what the political revolution is about. I ended this campaign far more optimistic about the future of our country than when I began. How could it be otherwise? In fields in California, I spoke to thousands of working people from every conceivable background who came together determined to transform our country. They were farmworkers, environmentalists, gay activists, and students. They know, and I know, that we are stronger when we stand together and do not allow demagogues to divide us up by race, gender, sexual orientation, or where we were born. In Portland, Maine, on a cold day, my staff watched people wait outside on long lines for hours, determined to cast their votes at the caucus there. In Arizona, it took some people five hours to cast a vote—but they stayed and voted. All across this country, people are fighting back to create the vibrant democracy that we desperately need and to stop our drift toward oligarchy. In New York City, I walked the picket line with striking workers at Verizon who were determined not to see the company cut benefits and outsource jobs. They stood up against outrageous corporate greed. They stood together as a proud union. And they won. In Washington, D.C., I marched with low-wage workers who told the world that they cannot survive on the starvation minimum wage that currently exists. That we need to raise the minimum wage to a living wage. Their message and their fight is reverberating all across the country. This book describes the history-making campaign that we ran. But more important, it looks to the future. It lays out a new path for America based on principles of economic, social, racial, and environmental justice. On behalf of our children and grandchildren, it is a path that must be followed and a fight that must be won. The struggle continues.   Copyright © 2016 by Bernie Sanders   BERNIE SANDERS ran as a Democratic candidate for President of the United States in 2015 and 2016. He served as mayor of Burlington, Vermont's largest city, for eight years before defeating an incumbent Republican to be the sole congressperson for the state in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1991. He was elected to the Senate in 2007 and is now in his second term, making him the longest-serving independent in the history of the Congress. He lives in Burlington, Vermont, with his wife, Jane, and has four children and seven grandchildren. Read more at Thought Matters. Sign up for originals essays, interviews, and excerpts from some of the most influential minds of our age. -- 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.

01 декабря 2016, 17:30

Zacks Industry Outlook Highlights: Franklin Financial Network, First Business Financial Services and First NBC Bank Holding

Zacks Industry Outlook Highlights: Franklin Financial Network, First Business Financial Services and First NBC Bank Holding

30 ноября 2016, 23:11

Why Trump's Not Enough to End Banking Woes

Why Trump's Not Enough to End Banking Woes

21 ноября 2016, 15:48

Weekend Reading: Luigi Zingales: The Right Way to Resist Trump

The best thing I have seen on the mess that America has now gotten itself into: **Luigi Zingales**: _[The Right Way to Resist Trump][]_: Five years ago, I warned about the risk of a Donald J. Trump presidency. Most people laughed... >They thought it inconceivable. I was not particularly prescient;...

15 ноября 2016, 19:05

Warren blasts Trump transition decisions, vows Dodd-Frank battle

Sen. Elizabeth Warren Tuesday excoriated Donald Trump's first decisions as president-elect in a series of attacks aimed at financiers on his short list for the Treasury Department and the hiring of Steve Bannon as his White House chief strategist.Speaking at a Wall Street Journal event in Washington, the Massachusetts Democrat criticized Trump for "hiring a bunch of lobbyists" to run his transition team and for floating "names of people who've run giant hedge funds ... to be able to run the Treasury or people who've come from industry to be able to run the regulatory agencies.""The American people understand the revolving door," Warren said. "They're really sick of it."Warren then took aim at Bannon, the controversial Trump adviser under fire from civil rights groups and Democrats who are accusing the former Breitbart News head of having ties to white nationalism.Bannon's presence suggests "this is a White House that will embrace bigotry," she said.Warren predicted a "battle that's going to be fought hard" over defending post-crisis financial regulations in the 2010 Dodd-Frank law, which Trump has pledged to dismantle.Warren hinted that she would use the upcoming debate as an opportunity to push for changes that make banking rules tougher.She cited Trump's support for reviving the Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act, a law separating commercial and investment banking that Warren has also championed. Trump's transition team has not signaled any plans to follow through on that position, which is in the Republican platform."It will be interesting to see where Donald Trump goes," Warren said, noting that the memory of Wall Street excesses that led to the 2008 crisis and bailouts had not been forgotten. "The American people get this."

15 ноября 2016, 01:00

Why Wall Street Is Suddenly in Love with Trump

It’s not just the return of ‘Government Sachs’ in the person of new White House strategist Steve Bannon. Traders are thinking Trump’s policies might actually work—at least for them.

11 ноября 2016, 22:31

What, Now A Trump Recession?

Economists are already warning that if President-elect Trump's policies are enacted, such as initiating trade wars, or the wrong tax cuts, or even cutting back on social security and Medicare benefits, we could see another recession, similar to the Great Recession that occurred during GW Bush's term. Whether his policies can be enacted depends on several things, including his unpredictable behavior, and perhaps the outcome of his November 28 RICO trial in San Diego for running Trump University as a criminal enterprise. Judge Gonzalo Curiel has just ruled that Trump's inflammatory campaign statements can be admitted as evidence in his trial. The Bush recession was caused by too lax regulations that caused the housing bubble (by allowing excessive bank leverage), tax cuts that increased the budget deficit while we were fighting two wars, and then Greenspan's Federal Reserve decision to raise interest rates 16 consecutive times to bust the housing bubble. It's terrifying what President-elect Trump will be able to do when he controls all three branches of government (as soon as he appoints a ninth Supreme Court Justice) and carries out his campaign pledges. Carrying out his pledge to deport all aliens when there is already an outflow of immigrants will devastate agriculture, construction, and any other industry that relies on low-cost labor, for instance. His promise to 'fix' Obamacare (or abolish it outright) will endanger health benefits for the 20 million now covered by it. This makes healthcare much more expensive, since it puts the uncovered back in Emergency Room care for serious illnesses, which puts the cost of their care back on the hospitals. And as the New York Times reports, "This is going to be a president who will be the biggest regulatory reformer since Ronald Reagan," Stephen Moore, one of Mr. Trump's economic advisers said in an interview on Wednesday. "There are just so many regulations that could be eased." It could be everything from repeal of Dodd-Frank, the successor to the Glass Steagall Act that protected federally insured depositors from risky investment banking, to repealing environmental regulations that combat global warming, and not only abolishing Obamacare, but the current Medicare system as House Speaker Paul Ryan is threatening to do. Graph: Marketwatch And we are reaching full employment levels, which will surely mean the Fed will begin to raise short term rates in December. This is happening already in the bond markets, as evidenced by rising longer term interest rates in anticipation of a soaring budget deficit, if Trump's plan to increase both infrastructure and military spending while cutting taxes is implemented. The central issue, though, may be Trump's misbehavior in dissing those values that made American great. "Trump's bigotry, dishonesty and promise-breaking will have to be denounced," said David Brooks today. "We can't go morally numb. But he needs to be replaced with a program that addresses the problems that fueled his ascent. "After all, the guy will probably resign or be impeached within a year. The future is closer than you think." But President-elect Trump's destruction of almost all decency in his grab for overwhelming power has let that Genie of discontent out of the bottle. We know what happened in the 1930s and even earlier when such ruthless tactics were used. Harlan Green © 2016 Follow Harlan Green on Twitter: https://twitter.com/HarlanGreen -- 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 ноября 2016, 01:52

3 Reasons Why President Trump Sounds Good to Banks

Donald Trump's surprising presidential victory received a grand welcome from both large and small bank stocks, reflecting investors' positive sentiments on the election of the 45th U.S. president.

08 ноября 2016, 23:29

This Election Was Colossally Dumb And We're All Lucky We Survived It

Election days are kind of slow, so here’s an arbitrary and unorganized list of dumb campaign moments. Enjoy. Or don’t. The important thing is this will soon all be over.  Let’s start with the creepy hidden camera video Bobby Jindal released of his kids to announce his presidential campaign: Remember this guy? EXCLUSIVE: Trump doctor says he wrote health letter in just 5 minutes as limo waited https://t.co/hy9CLowPJt pic.twitter.com/CyoqDpVhIl— NBC Nightly News (@NBCNightlyNews) August 26, 2016 This isn’t from the campaign, but Donald Trump wearing Zubaz shorts in the early 90s is dumb: Remember the Libertarian Party convention?  “Bernie Sandwiches” Remember how much money people spent on Jeb Bush? America. pic.twitter.com/TeduJkwQF3— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) February 16, 2016 Remember Lincoln Chafee’s response to why he voted to undo the Glass-Steagall Act? "The Glass-Steagall was my very first vote, I'd just arrived, my dad had died in office." Lincoln Chafee So many GOP debates: Remember this? Remember how Trump floated the idea that the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was murdered?  “They say they found a pillow on his face, which is a pretty unusual place to find a pillow." Donald Trump on Michael Savage's radio show Remember all the memories that Breitbart News gave us? Oh, and also all the anti-semitism? Remember Libertarian presidential candidate Darryl Perry attacking his own lectern during the party’s only primary debate? Libertarian presidential candidate Darryl Perry attacking his own lectern during the party’s only primary debate pic.twitter.com/QclfYkzcIo— Eliot Nelson (@eliotnelson) November 8, 2016 Remember the Cruz/Fiorina ticket?  Remember how the media lost its mind during Hillary Clinton’s “listening tour?” Remember how Ivanka, Eric AND Barron Trump all voted the same number of times for their dad in New York’s primary? Remember how the Clinton campaign thought voters wanted to see Rob Reiner sing? Remember “The ‘everyday people’ who made Clinton’s burrito bowl?” Never forget the taco bowl tweet: Happy #CincoDeMayo! The best taco bowls are made in Trump Tower Grill. I love Hispanics! https://t.co/ufoTeQd8yA pic.twitter.com/k01Mc6CuDI— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 5, 2016 Remember Mark Halperin’s nonsensical debate ratings? My @GovernorPerry report card: Style B. Substance B. Overall B+. Full report card here: http://t.co/qezVXZricY pic.twitter.com/GV3bHXqOSD— Mark Halperin (@MarkHalperin) June 4, 2015 Remember how Ben Carson would handle a mass shooting?  "I would say, ‘Hey guys, everybody attack him. He may shoot me, but he can’t get us all.'" Ben Carson on Fox News Remember the press credentials at the Green Party convention? Press credentials at the Green Party convention pic.twitter.com/sbZZL7t99u— Eliot Nelson (@eliotnelson) August 5, 2016 Remember when The New Republic wanted to have carnal knowledge of Donald Trump? Remember what a terrible politician Carly Fiorina is? Love my alma mater, but rooting for a Hawkeyes win today. #RoseBowl— Carly Fiorina (@CarlyFiorina) January 1, 2016 Remember Jim Webb? Remember when Trump served “Trump steaks” to the press and they weren’t Trump steaks? Remember when Ted Cruz prepared to release his clutch of eggs for a beach birthing? Nature is beautiful. Remember Trump and Halperin’s ride on that Zamboni? Remember when Rand Paul wanted attention? Remember Chris Christie’s ennui? Remember CPAC and how it’s always dumb? Remember sticker guy? Remember when Heidi Cruz’s election went from bad to worse? Remember when Jeb! put on that hoodie? And who can forget when it all began? Please clap.  Huffington Post reporter Eliot Nelson’s book, The Beltway Bible: A Totally Serious A-Z Guide to Our No-Good, Corrupt, Incompetent, Terrible, Depressing and Sometimes Hilarious Government, is out now.  -- 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.

04 ноября 2016, 00:48

We Are The Ones We've Been Waiting For

While the 2016 election cycle is about to end, our work as engaged citizens is just beginning. I believe this election, regardless of who wins, has finally awakened the American people to the fact that we are responsible for the state of our union. Whether our government functions in the best interests of the people is up to us. Too often we have allowed the politicians and special interests to determine policy without regard for the public interest. For example, when President Bill Clinton negotiated NAFTA, the North American Trade Agreement, was he looking out for American workers or big business? And, whose concerns guided our government's decision to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act that separated commercial banking from investment banks? Wall Street or Main Street? In 2003 when the Bush Administration promoted and initiated a war against Iraq, was that in the best interests of the American people? With then-Vice President Cheney leading the way, Halliburton, Cheney's former company, and other Big Oil corporations sought to profit from the needless killing of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and the wasteful expenditure of trillions of U.S. taxpayers' dollars. More recently, when the 2008 Great Recession crippled the country, President Obama used our money to bail out Wall Street while doing little to help millions of his fellow citizens save their homes from foreclosure. In all these and other similar situations, the vast majority of Americans felt helpless, watched their government act against their best interests and did nothing. But, the times they are a-changing. A great number of Americans from all political persuasions are fed up with government as usual. They are giving notice that they will no longer stand by and allow Big Money and special interests to run the show. Whether they support Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton, voters are angry and ready to fight for what they believe in. When President Obama was elected, people thought he would deliver the "change you can believe in" that he had promised. They did not hold his feet to the fire to assure he would make good on his promises. While one can argue that Obama faced much opposition which obstructed his performance, we, the people, were not organizing the mass movement that would have provided the necessary support and force to overcome some of the obstacles he faced. This time is different. We are under no illusions that either Clinton or Trump will produce the change most Americans desire. This time we know that it is up to us to battle for the kind of country we want. We must make our voices heard and demand real change for the public good, not the special interests. We are the ones we've been waiting for. -- 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 декабря 2013, 00:45

Правило Волкера одобрено и вступит в силу в 2015 г.

Пол Волкер, инициатор "правила Волкера" Американские регуляторы одобрили законодательство по ограничению торговой деятельности банков, которое получило название "правило Волкера". Банковские компании отрицают необходимость принятия данных мер и готовят судебные иски против данного закона.  За принятие “правила Волкера” проголосовали все пять регуляторов, которые участвовали в процессе создания данного закона: ФРС США, Комиссии по ценным бумагам и биржам (SEC), Комиссии по торговле товарными фьючерсами (CFTC), Федеральной корпорации по страхованию вкладов (FDIC), свою подпись под проектом закона также поставил глава Управления валютного контролера (OCC). “Правило Волкера” запрещает банковским компаниям участвовать в торговых операциях на финансовых рынках, в том числе “с целью хеджирования рисков”, с использованием собственных средств (proprietary trading). Кроме того, банкам также запрещается увеличивать размеры компенсаций и денежных вознаграждений с целью поощрения подобных операций на финансовом рынке. Впервые с инициативой введения данного законодательства в 2009 г. выступил Пол Волкер, бывший глава ФРС (он занимал этот пост с 1979 по 1987 гг.). По мнению Волкера, повышенная торговая активность банковских компаний США по целому спектру активов стала одной из причин финансового кризиса 2008 г. С данной точкой зрения согласились в администрации президента Обамы, который одобрил начало работы над законопроектом в 2010 г. Однако в своем конечном виде, который был одобрен регуляторами, законопроект появился только 3 с половиной года спустя. Целью данного законодательства является снижение риска для финансовой системы США, а также всей глобальной экономики от торговой активности банков. Одним из громких примеров подобной активности банков в посткризисный период стало дело “Лондонского кита”: из-за рискованной стратегии JP Morgan потерял свыше $6 млрд. “Правило Волкера” начнет функционировать только в 2015 г. Во многом такое решение было принято под давлением банковских компаний, которые активно лоббировали против принятия данного законодательства. По данным некоммерческой организации Sunlight Foundation, в период 2010-2013 гг. наиболее тесно с регуляторами общались именно представители крупных банковских организаций.   За это время представители JP Morgan встречались с регуляторами более 30 раз, Goldman Sachs – более 20 раз. Также свой активный интерес к процессу формирования “правила Волкера” проявили в Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, Bank of New York Mellon, Citigroup, фонде BlackRock и ряде других финансовых компаний. Главы ряда банковских компаний, в частности Брайан Мойнихан из Bank of America Merill Lynch, уже попытались принизить значение данного закона.  BofA: "правило Волкера" ничего не изменит По мнению Мойнихана, "правило Волкера" не окажет заметного влияния на банковский сектор США. Однако при этом банковские компании не оставляют надежд на противодействие нововведению. По информации издания Financial Times, американские банки уже готовят иски против принятия "правила Волкера" (Wall St prepares Volcker rule legal challenges). Ряд экспертов уже поставили под сомнение эффективность "правила Волкера", назвав закон слишком мягким и содержащим слишком много лазеек для продолжения торговых операций банков с использованием собственного капитала. Подобная точка зрения высказывается в издании Forbes (The Volcker Rule Will Not Work). Стоит добавить, что принятие "правила Волкера" многие рассматривают как попытку частичного воссоздания закона Гласса – Стиголла (Glass – Steagall Act). После финансового краха 1929 г., который стал одним из катализаторов Великой депрессии в США, американские власти постарались ограничить спекулятивную активность коммерческих банков. Банкам было запрещено заниматься инвестиционной деятельностью. Были серьезно ограничены их возможности по операциям с ценными бумагами. Закона Гласса – Стиголла действовал в США с 1933 по 1999 гг., пока не был отменен "Законом о финансовой модернизации".

23 сентября 2013, 23:25

Ричард Фишер призывал коллег начать сокращение QE3

Глава ФРБ Далласа Ричард Фишер заявил, что он призывал своих коллег на заседании ФРС, проходившем на прошлой неделе, сократить программу количественного смягчения. Фишер является противником третьего раунда программы по выкупу облигаций Бездействие в этом вопросе, по его словам, привело к неопределенности и посеяло замешательство на финансовых рынках. По словам Фишера, многие инвесторы недовольны действиями ФРС, так как они ожидали, что на заседании будет принято решение сократить объемы выкупаемых облигаций. Фишер является противником третьего раунда программы по выкупу облигаций, известной как количественное смягчение, или QE3. В других речах Фишер называл крупнейшие американские банки "кинжалами, направленными в сердце экономики США". Глава ФРБ Далласа также является сторонником возврата закона Гласса-Стиголла 1933 г., который запрещал коммерческим банкам заниматься инвестиционной деятельностью, существенно ограничивал право банков на операции с ценными бумагами и вводил обязательное страхование банковских вкладов. Закон был отменен в 1997 г. Напомним, сейчас ФРС ежемесячно покупает облигации на $85 млрд, что должно способствовать росту цен на активы и стимулированию найма, расходов и инвестиций. ФРС также сохраняет краткосрочные процентные ставки близко к нулю, для того чтобы поддержать рост экономики. Ричард Фишер не входит в число президентов ФРБ и управляющих, которые в 2013 г. обладают правом голоса в Федеральном комитете по открытому рынку (Federal Open Market Committee, FOMC). В рамках ежегодной ротации голосов в FOMC он войдет в список голосующих членов комитета в 2014 г.