Monthly Archives: November 2016

Trump is appointing a seriously pro-business cabinet; now wait for the punch line

Trump’s new picks:

Steve Mnuchin, hedge fund manager: to Treasury

Elaine Chao, wife of Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell with Labour Dept experience, and potential ‘light hands’ on safety: to Transportation

Wilbur Ross, bankruptcy investment specialist: to Commerce

Tom Price, anti-Obamacare orthopaedic surgeon, and Georgia Congressman: to Healthcare

and, Mary Fallin, ‘drill baby drill’ Oklahoma Governor is the most likely candidate for Interior Secretary

Trump is getting the Republican Party on his side with these picks. Having assuaged the party, is he thinking he can now be more controversial on defense and state? In other words is he going to pursue his international isolationist instincts with like minded appointees in those posts?

Even its staunchest advocates can see that Prevent is a busted flush

Samayya Afzal writes

The problems with Prevent don’t lie with public perception or resources – they lie within the strategy and the implementation. In 11 years, successive governments weren’t able to convince the public that this strategy works, indeed one poll said 96 percent of the British public believe it is not working, yet historically Quilliam’s support never wavered.

This makes all the more intriguing a recent article in the Times of Israel by Quilliam’s chairman Maajid Nawaz, in which he suddenly appears to advocate reform of Prevent. He has also gone on radio calling the new policy adopted by the Liberal Democrats – his own political party – “a more sensible approach”.

This would be welcome news, were it not that the policy is the complete opposite of what Nawaz has long advocated.

Indeed, Quilliam has long belittled legitimate grievances with the Prevent strategy, whereas the recent policy change demonstrates that the Liberal Democrats have taken seriously and addressed each criticism of Prevent, calling “to scrap Prevent in its entirety” and highlighting the need for any strategy to be based on evidence, transparency and engagement.

Read full article here

End of an era: Castro dies

castro

There is seems to be a divided view of Castro in the West. The view from the US and UK right-wing that he was a brutal dictator is only part of the inbred arrogance of its teeth-gnashing constituents which refuses to recognize that if the leader of country is subjected to hundreds of attempts at assassination, the country itself being invaded and then permanently sanctioned, you are not likely to turn him into a dove. Castro is a figure like Muhammad Ali and Mandela who defined the post-WWII era.

Trump’s National Security Adviser Facilitated the Murder of Civilians in Afghanistan

Gareth Porter writes

After retired Lt. Gen. Michael J. Flynn spoke at the Republican National Convention, The Washington Post captured the prevailing media view of Flynn in the headline: “He was one of the most respected intel officers of his generation. Now he’s leading ‘Lock her up’ chants.”

Now that President-elect Donald Trump has chosen Flynn as his national security adviser, media coverage has given prominence to the more serious issue of Flynn’s denunciation of Islam as a “cancer” and other manifestations of his embrace of Islamophobia. But the mainstream media view of Flynn’s military record ignores his pivotal role in devising a targeting scheme that was the basis for an indiscriminate Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) campaign of killing and incarcerating Afghans suspected of being in the Taliban insurgency. The corporate media, which have never examined that dark chapter in the history of the Afghanistan war critically, have long treated the campaign as one of the few success stories of the war.

read full article here

Will the Trump-Bannon revolution ‘be greater than the Reagan revolution? The devil is in the detail

Looking at what projects will be launched in the Trump infrastructure foray can eventually tell us which companies will benefit. But will Americans in general benefit as Steve Bannon claims they will? For, the “great political movement” he envisages to keep Republicans in power for 50 years, as he wants, does require that the country at large benefits. There are two problems to look out for:

Infrastructure

Instead of just allocating needed resources in a traditional across the board approach, the Trump team seem to be proposing to offer $137 billion in tax breaks to private investors who want to finance toll roads, toll bridges, or other projects that generate their own revenue streams. Since the plan depends on private investors, it can only fund projects that spin off user fees and are profitable. Rural roads, water systems, and public schools don’t fall into that category. Neither does public transit, which fails on the profitable criterion (it depends on public subsidies). Yet investment in all these things is necessary to keep ‘the great political movement’ on the road.

Tax Breaks

Trump’s tax giveaway plan delivers about half of its benefits to the top 1 percent of households. The Republicans in Congress have a plan they want Trump to consider which is even more lopsided: 76 percent of its cuts go to the top 1 percent. So the campaign rhetoric about the “forgotten little guy” stuff was that … campaign rhetoric.

The impact of the Bush tax cuts, which were smaller than the Trump tax cuts, were shown to have had no positive effect on the economy. Fiscal economists Gale and Orszag wrote that “…as a result of these design flaws—from the perspective of providing stimulus—the tax cuts had at best a small positive bang for the buck relative to other options. The most comprehensive studies … imply that the tax cuts reduced GDP and employment in 2001 and had virtually no effect … in 2002.”

As Cambridge economist Ha-Joon Chang has shown in Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism and in 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism  tickle-down economics is pure guff.

So will Trump just be a flash in the pan, create waves, make tons of money, and then leave it to a (hopefully reformed and wiser) Democratic Party to come back? Or Will Steve Bannon’s idea be seen through?

Bannon: I’m not a white nationalist… I’m an economic nationalist

Michael Wolff writes up an interview with Steve Bannon

“I’m not a white nationalist, I’m a nationalist”, he tells me. “The globalist gutted the American working class and created a middle class in Asia. The issue is about Americans not getting [done] over. If we [the trump White House] deliver, we get 60 percent of the white vote, and 40 percent of the black and Hispanic vote and we’ll govern for 50 years. That’s what the Democrats missed. They were talking to these people with companies with a $9bn dollar market cap, employing nine people. It’s not reality. They lost sight of what the world is really about.”

“Like [Andrew] Jackson’s populism, we’re going to build an entirely new political movement”, he says. “It’s everything related to jobs. The conservatives are going to go crazy. I’m the guy pushing a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan. With negative interest rates throughout the world, it’s the greatest opportunity to rebuild everything. Ship yards, iron works, get them all jacked up. We’re just going to throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks. It will be as exciting as the 1930s, greater than the Reagan revolution — conservatives, plus populists, in an economic nationalist movement.”

According to Joseph Stigler not all of it will stick though.

The Neocons are fighting hard to come back and control Trump’s foreign policy

There is a battle between the GOP foreign policy establishment and outsiders over who will sit on Trump’s national security team.

The fight pits hawks and neoconservatives who served in the former Bush administrations against those on the GOP foreign policy edges, who favour US retrenchment.

The sudden return of some Neocons into the fray (John Bolton in particular) is largely due to the influence that Robert and Rebekah Mercer seem to be wielding over Trump’s campaign.

Election Rejection: Liberal Hatred and Hypocrisy Rage in Violence Due to Biased Media

David Haggith writes

When Donald Trump would not state with certainty that he would accept the election results before even knowing what the results were or how they might come about, liberals wrung their hands all over the media in grief over the loss of democracy as we know it. Hillary, herself, decried that she had never heard anything so anti-democratic and unAmerican in her life.

Now hundreds of thousands of liberals around the nation join in protests and even riots to proclaim, “Not my president” and “Dump Trump.”

read full article

Election Rejection: Liberal Hatred and Hypocrisy Rage in Violence Due to Biased Media

 

What the Trump presidency means for our future

The Trump presidency is extremely important as a reaction to a neoliberal order that has been with us since Bill Clinton eviscerated the Democratic Party to become the party of corporations from 1993 onwards (followed by Tony Blair in the UK from 1997). In other words, even though the neoliberal order was ushered in by Reagan/Thatcher, it was Clinton/Blair who ensured that it had no opposition in the main democracies.

Hillary Clinton lost to Trump purely on electoral college votes, and it did so primarily because the Democratic Party cheated Bernie Sanders’ populist base by rigging the primaries in favour of  Clinton. What made this worse is that this atrocious behaviour was made public with the leaks of all those emails hacked from the Democratic Party server. Steve Bannon may have been the evil genius who engineered the Trump win, but really he was surfing home on the wave of a Democratic Party suicide mission.

The Trump presidency is ‘fascistic’, but this aspect of it will engender so much opposition, encouraged by the fact that Hillary Clinton got 1.5m more of the popular vote than Trump, that it will be mitigated.

The important thing for anybody who wants to survive financially in the coming 8 years is to realise that Trump will turn the US economy around, and this must inform everybody’s financial decisions. Joseph Stiglitz is right that re-importing jobs won’t be that easy, because technology has changed since the 1980s. But it is not necessarily only that aspect that will change the economic picture, as Trump focuses on infrastructural development.

Extraordinarily his presidency starts with the US Geological Survey confirming the Wolfcamp shale oilfield as the largest ever find in US history, on truly Saudi Arabian proportions, which turns the energy clock back to the pre-1970s when the US was a net US oil exporter.

So, in the sense that Trump wants to be re-elected, the US economy soaring will mean that he will be. While Obama was an unlucky (and weak) President, Trump, it looks like at the moment, will be a lucky one. This unfortunately will embolden a ‘fascistic’ style, possibly better described as the ‘feudal’ style common among corporate CEOs, than as Mussolini-type fascism. Ivanka Trump sitting in on her father’s meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister will be a typical event, and one which will rankle with most Americans.

So also, the democratic counter-attack will have its work cut out for it, and this will logically mean that great changes are in store for the future. Given that the Islamic community in America will be at the centre of the storm, this will tie Islam with the future democratic resurgence and change the very nature of the Islamic dialogue itself. It is a sign of things to come that Democratic Party chairman will most likely be a Muslim American, Keith Ellison.

The resurgence of the US economy will mean that the Federal Reserve will be able to come off the floor on interest rates, sucking capital from stock markets across the world into the US, and trashing fixed interest instruments like bonds, and the stocks of highly leveraged firms. China may have caught up with the US, but the US is still absolutely the largest economy in the world.