Wasserman Schultz and the DNC Imbroglio

 

Several relevant articles collectively enjoin the question: why is this not the subject of a special prosecutor?

  1. Media Blackout on class action suit against the Democratic National Committee and Wasserman Schultz

Lawyers in DNC Class-Action Suit ‘Perplexed’ by Media Blackout

2. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the Pakistani IT scammers

3. Imran Awan case needs special prosecutor 100x more than  Russiagate

For all of Trump’s faults, and they are many, we have to keep reminding ourselves what a plague the United States recently avoided.

 

 

Luttwak again

From Edward Luttwak’s recent articleWhy the Trump Dynasty will last 16 years” on the root causes of Trump’s win, in case you missed it:

……..That gathering of lean and hungry Clint­onians is the world mercilessly exposed in Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s doomed campaign by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes. Meticulously researched and strenuously un­biased, it is the most useful book published so far on the 2016 Presidential election as a whole, as well as the Clinton campaign specifically. It certainly convinced me that Clinton did not understand in what country she was running for election: not one populated by black women (they dominated her convention), environmental activists, patriotic Muslims, vegans, committed free-traders and social engineers, but chiefly a country of car owners and bitterly frustrated would-be new car owners, a far better categorization than Clinton’s own “deplorables”.

That is why the car affordability numbers revealed in June 2016 were so vastly significant in determining the outcome of the elections. Going by metropolitan areas, they extracted maximum affordable car prices from median incomes. The latter ranged from the stellar $87,210 of San Jose in the opulence of California’s Silicon Valley, all the way down to the $24,701 of deindustrialized Cleveland, Ohio, numbers that in turn yielded maximum affordable price limits of $32,855 in San Jose, and $7,558 in Cleveland – not actually the lowest number, which was Detroit’s $6,174, owing to high average insurance costs in that crime-afflicted city (at $1,131.40 per annum, as compared to Cleveland’s $659.47).

What made these seemingly obscure numbers nothing less than momentous was that the cheapest new car on sale in the United States in 2016 was the Nissan Versa sedan at $12,825, twice the level that average households could afford in Detroit or Cleveland, and more than average households could afford in cities ranging from Philadelphia, Orlando, Milwaukee, Memphis, Providence, New Orleans, Miami and Buffalo, as well as, a fortiori, in a very great number of smaller localities across the United States, even in high-income states such as California and Oregon, as well much more commonly in the lower-income Southern and rust-belt states.

The mass exclusion of Americans from new car ownership is the result of two converging phenomena, only one of which was recognized by Hillary Clinton, though scarcely emphasized in her identity-focused campaign: wage stag­nation. Sanders and Trump did not hesitate to blame that relative impoverishment on the exposure of the least agile of Americans to international competition, with the resulting de-industrialization that translated millions of Americans from $20-to-40-an-hour factory jobs to miserably paid service jobs. Beholden to the sanctity of free trade, the Clinton crowd even more than the candidate herself blamed the lethargy of the TV-watching, beer-drinking, gun-owning, church-going, and cigarette-smoking “deplorables”, who unaccountably failed to avail themselves of the wonderful opportunity to leave boring assembly-line jobs or downright dangerous coal-face or oil drilling jobs to become fashion designers, foreign-exchange traders, software engineers, or even political campaign operatives.

 

Wolfgang Streeck on Trump

 

The bloggers at Barrelstrength continue to try to understand what is going on. If that means some or all of us start sounding anti-capitalist, please be advised: any theory pushed to extremes becomes a tyranny, including even our own ideas. We are as firmly pro-market as we can be in the circumstances. The relevant question these days is: what is the nature of our circumstances?  We are each of us searching for answers to what has gone wrong: income stagnation for the masses, coupled with fantastic increases in wealth of the top one tenth of one percent. Whether it be Peter Thiel, Chrystia Freedland, Edward Luttwak, or today’s guest columnist, Wolfgang Streeck, every thinking person is actively considering how much internationalization [free trade + semi-open borders] is good for our own countries.

An excerpt:

Those aggrieved by the accelerated internationalization of their societies felt abandoned by their national state. Elites in charge of public affairs were judged guilty of having handed national sovereignty to international organizations. These charges were largely true. Global neoliberalism has enfeebled the nation state, and with it, national democracy. Citizens most affected by these events had only their votes to express their displeasure.

Trumpism took off, fueled as much in the United States as elsewhere by popular irritation at the vast public celebration of internationalization. Economic and cultural elites entered an international space rich in their rights, at ease both in and out of national states. If democracy is understood as the possibility of establishing social obligations toward those luckless in the marketplace, the global elites had entered into, or created, a world in which there was a great deal of lucklessness and not many obligations.

For those plotting to take advantage of growing discontent, nationalism appeared as an obvious formula both for social reconstruction and political success. The winners and the losers of globalism found themselves reflected in a conflict between cosmopolitanism and nationalism. The old left having withdrawn into stateless internationalism, the new right offered the nation-state to fill the ensuing political vacuum. Liberal disgust at Trumpian rhetoric served to justify the withdrawal of the left from its constituents, and to explain its failure to help them express their grievances in civilized public language. Discontent grew fast.

The Trump presidency is both the outcome and the end of the American version of neo-liberalism. Having commenced crumbling in the era of George W. Bush, the neo-liberal regime managed to regain an appearance of vitality under Barack Obama. With his departure, it was bound to collapse under the weight of its contradictions, and, indeed, absurdities.

Clinton’s daring attempt to present herself as advocate of those Americans “working hard and playing by the rules,” while collecting a fortune in speaker’s fees from Goldman Sachs, was destined to fail. So, too, was Clinton’s insistence that it was the historical duty of American voters to elect her as their first female president. Transgendered restrooms infuriated everyone except those seeking access to them, no matter the Obama administration’s attempt to depict bathroom access as a civil right.11 Deep down, no one cared.

Wolfgang Streeck

“If Trumpists feel bound by their electoral promises, they must put an end to neoliberal reform. This will not end the impasse between capitalism and society. In the absence of a stable class compromise between capital and labor, policy is doomed to become capricious. Perhaps Trumpism will make its departure from neoliberalism and free trade palatable to capital by increasing credit, debt, and inflation—another policy intended to buy time and little else. Nobody knows what Trumpists will do to shore up their political support if economic nationalism fails to produce the promised results.”

In Systems of Survival, the late Jane Jacobs spoke of two moral systems, or syndromes, the guardian and the market.. The relevance of the two systems never diminishes, though the strength of the institutions  influenced by each system can vary at different times in history. What we have witnessed in the past forty years has been the increasing dominance of the market system over the guardian system of morality. If people are feeling adrift and bereft, they turn to the only guardian institution they know, the state, to help them get through the crisis.

Jacobs’ thinking on these matters is of permanent importance. Despite Trump’s chaotic, incompetent governing style, the forces that brought Trump to power cannot be ignored, although the internationalists will do their best to whistle past the graveyard – pointing to Putin and Russia as to why Hillary lost. It looks as if they are setting themselves up to be beaten again at the polls.

Root cause of Trump Win

Simple summary of why Trump won and it wasn’t the Russians.

For all its vacuity, however, the hysteria is certainly understandable, because President Trump has defied all expectations by actually trying to do what he promised that he would try to do. But another reason is that the major cause of last November’s electoral outcome has remained mostly unexplored, even un­discovered. That is not due to intellectual laziness, but rather reflects the refusal of almost all commentators to contend with the political economy that determined the outcome of the election. Long-term processes of income redistribution from working people to everyone else, non-working welfare recipients as well as the very rich, had been evident for at least two decades. (I explored the phenomenon in my book The Endangered American Dream, 1993.) Those changes called for a painful party realignment (which would have cost the Democrats their ample Wall Street funding) that never happened – not even when Bernie Sanders arrived to be its instrument. The Democratic Party officials and leading lights of the media elite who helped to deny the nomination to Sanders, and thus very likely the White House, understandably have a guilty conscience, because they truly did everything possible to stop him, including ever so discreet anti-Semitic messaging very precisely aimed at black voters wavering in their pre-ordained fealty to Hillary Clinton.

As it was, of course, the victory of the Democratic establishment merely ensured the victory of the only Sanders counterpart on the Repub­lican side with whom Sanders differed sharply on almost everything – except for the only thing that really mattered to both: the urgent need to mobilize government policies to increase American jobs and wages, in firm opposition to all the competing international and planetary priorities continuously proffered by elite Americans and their core institutions, along with Pope Francis and other leading figures.

The key point is that the concerns of the ordinary people were ignored. When Obama went to deliver a campaign speech at the Brandenburg Gate in 2008, it was obvious that his interests were aligned somewhere else and when Hillary Clinton stated the following in a prepared speech in May 2013, it was a case of deja vu.

“My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders, sometime in the future with energy that’s as green and sustainable as we can get it, powering growth and opportunity for every person in the hemisphere,” Clinton reportedly said to investors in a paid speech she gave to Brazilian Banco Itau in 2013.

For the record Clinton’s response to the above was as follows. Notice the outright deception in her response where she implies that open borders are for energy and not immigration?

Great Again!

nullJust before I take off (eh) for a short spell to rejuvenate my powers of invective, I leave my adoring fans a link to a concise analysis of the Trump phenomenon by Conrad Black, unquestionably the best political commentator in Canada.

He places Trump squarely in the forefront of the battle to save Western Civilization from the leftists and, of course, the onrush of the forces of Islamic darkness.

Conrad is perfectly correct in his analysis that the Establishment is out to try to destroy Trump. Trump is a one-man colossus taking on the the entire rotten crowd of the Democrats, the globalists, Islam, and the MSM propganda machine for the Deep State.

And for extra enjoyment, James Delingpole, one of the best British writers today, expounds on why the transgender thingy with the military is absolutely essential to put a stop to all the para-sexual weirdisms that demand every privilege and offer no responsibility in return.

See y’all soon—and don’t forget to buy more ammo.

Rebel Yell

Tobacco a health product?

File this under, bound to happen.

Sley, a 33-year-old ex-Wall Streeter who’s smoked cigars since he was 15, launched Hestia in 2013. The company’s small-batch “cigarillos” are made with tobacco grown on organic farms in the South and rolled in retardant-free natural papers with a nontoxic filter. Sley says the cigs are made for people like him, who eat kale and shop at Whole Foods: “People who put care and intention in their bodies.”…

“The act of smoking is like a meditation practice. You’re consciously breathing in and exhaling,” says the 34-year-old Dose Market startup founder.

 

From 2014 but still valid advice for Trump haters

Ask Andrew W.K.: My Dad Is a Right-Wing Asshole

Q: I’m writing because I just can’t deal with my father anymore. He’s a 65-year-old super right-wing conservative who has basically turned into a total asshole intent on ruining our relationship and our planet with his politics. I’m more or less a liberal democrat with very progressive values and I know that people like my dad are going to destroy us all…

A: Go back and read the opening sentences of your letter. Read them again. Then read the rest of your letter. Then read it again. Try to find a single instance where you referred to your dad as a human being, a person, or a man. There isn’t one. You’ve reduced your father — the person who created you — to a set of beliefs and political views and how it relates to you. And you don’t consider your dad a person of his own standing — he’s just “your dad.” You’ve also reduced yourself to a set of opposing views, and reduced your relationship with him to a fight between the two. The humanity has been reduced to nothingness and all that’s left in its place is an argument that can never really be won. And even if one side did win, it probably wouldn’t satisfy the deeper desire to be in a state of inflamed passionate conflict.

The world isn’t being destroyed by democrats or republicans, red or blue, liberal or conservative, religious or atheist — the world is being destroyed by one side believing the other side is destroying the world. The world is being hurt and damaged by one group of people believing they’re truly better people than the others who think differently. The world officially ends when we let our beliefs conquer love. We must not let this happen….

And the BBC’s excuse for this is?

The apologist at BBC didn’t waste time finding excuses for dysfunctionality that is Pakistan.

In Pakistan, the army and its intelligence wing are by far the most powerful institutions – and the country has had repeated spells of military rule.

The abiding sense of a military threat from its much larger neighbour has – many feel – boosted the power of the armed forces and hindered the development of a mature democracy.

And the excuse for this is? How do the “many feel” about this?

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistani police have arrested 25 members of an informal village council accused of ordering the rape of a 16-year-old girl as revenge for her brother’s alleged sexual assault of another girl.

The Supreme Court also requested a report on the case, which echoed a notorious case from 2002 in which another teenager was gang-raped on a local council’s order.

NYT and Venezuela

The NYT accomplishes a rare feat by writing a detailed article about Venezuela without once mentioning the word “socialism”. The only two -isms that appear in the article are, authoritarianism and vigilantism, which appears twice.

It is hard to believe but back in the 1970s Caracas, Venezuela was a regular stop for Concorde as it ferried the super-rich from there to Paris. Youtube has a brief video that documents the flights.

Unfortunately the decline of nation isn’t limited to being caused by socialism. Bahamas managed to go from a being on the jet set circuit in the 1950s to having a crime rate that is now 8-times that of US; almost all of it focused exclusively in Nassau and Freeport.

From Manufacturing Consent to Manufacturing News

This article in Tablet provides an excellent background on Fusion GPS and the process of manufacturing news. Some choice quotes below, but the whole article is worth a read.

Fusion GPS was founded in 2009—before the social media wave destroyed most of the remaining structures of 20th-century American journalism—by two Wall Street Journal reporters, Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch. They picked up former colleagues from the Journal, Tom Catan, and Neil King, Jr., who were also well-respected by their peers. When the social media wave hit two years later, print media’s last hopes for profitability vanished, and Facebook became the actual publisher of most of the news that Americans consumed. Opposition research and comms shops like Fusion GPS became the news-rooms—with investigative teams and foreign bureaus—that newspapers could no longer afford….

Yet at the same time that Fusion GPS was fueling a campaign warning against a vast Russia-Trump conspiracy to destroy the integrity of American elections, the company was also working with Russia to influence American policy—by removing the same sanctions that Trump was supposedly going to remove as his quid pro quo for Putin’s help in defeating Hillary. Many observers, including the press, can’t quite figure out how the firm wound up on both sides of the fence. Sen. Chuck Grassley wants to know if Fusion GPS has violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

As the founders of Fusion GPS surely understand, flexibility is a key recipe for success—and the more room you can occupy in the news cycle, the bigger the brand. After all, they’re former journalists—and good ones. Fusion GPS is the story of a few journalists who decided to stop being suckers. They’re not buyers of information, they’re sellers….

Besides Russia, Fusion GPS has also worked with other foreign countries, organizing campaigns and creating news that furthers the aims of the people who pay for their services—using the fractured playing field of “news” to extend old-fashioned lobbying efforts in a way that news consumers have been slow to understand.

Fusion GPS, according to the company’s website, offers “a cross-disciplinary approach with expertise in media, politics, regulation, national security, and global markets.” What does that mean, exactly? “They were hired by a sheikh in the UAE after he was toppled in a coup and waged an information war against his brother,” one well-respected reporter who has had dealings with the company told me. “I believe they seeded the New Yorker story about the Trump Hotel in Azerbaijan with alleged connections to the IRGC. They may have been hired to look into Carlos Slim. It’s amazing how much copy they generate. They’re really effective.”…

On Wednesday, three major news organization published variations of the same story—about the line of succession to the Saudi throne. It seems that in June the son of King Salman, Mohammed Bin Salman, muscled his cousin Mohammed Bin Nayef out of the way to become the Crown Prince and next in line.

It’s a juicy narrative with lots of insider-y details about Saudi power politics, drug addiction, and the ambitions of a large and very wealthy family, but the most salient fact is that the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Reuters published what was essentially the same story, with minor variations, on the same day—not a breaking news story, but an investigative feature.

In other words, these media organizations were used as part of an information campaign targeting Riyadh, for as yet unknown reasons. Who’s behind it? Maybe an opposition research shop like Fusion GPS, or a less formal gathering of interests, like Saudi opponents foreign and domestic, as well as American intelligence officials.

It’s certainly embarrassing to be played for the sucker and see what you likely assumed was a scoop break in two other outlets the very same day, and some of the bylines involved are capable and talented journalists. But it’s perhaps worst for the New York Times, which was compelled to run what amounted to an article-length correction the next day, under the headline,Saudi Official Who Was Thought to Be Under House Arrest Receives a Promotion.” On Wednesday, the Times reported that Gen. Abdulaziz al-Huwairini had been put under house arrest by a faction loyal to Mohammed Bin Salman. On Thursday, the Times reported that he was in fact named head of a government body overseeing domestic security and counterterrorism issues.

Private firms like Fusion GPS have always been around, but the degree to which the MSM is ready to be spoon-fed by them is a relatively new development. Rest assured though that MSM won’t be reporting that the co-founder of Fusion GPS has decided to plead the Fifth.

Another article that is worth reading in terms of manufacturing of news is this. It examines the recent WaPo story about yet another meeting between Sessions and the Russian ambassador where the former could-have-might-have-would-have kissed the latter’s ring.

Of course, the media has its own agenda as this graph shows.