Doing Advance Work

News that doesn't receive the necessary attention.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Luis Tiant: Castro's Cuba 'took away the freedom, the happiness, the dreams'-Nov. 26, 2016

https://twitter.com/espn_sweet_spot/status/802663801862557696













image from espn

https://twitter.com/espn_sweet_spot/status/802663801862557696
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note: hope above will get you to the Luis Tiant quote about Fidel Castro. i can't make links until my broken shoulder mends. susan



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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

30 years after globalization began we have Brexit, President-elect Trump, and the irrelevance of describing political differences as either 'left' or 'right'-Foreign Policy, Simpson

"Left and right are the defining concepts of American politics, yet a Republican candidate (Trump) was able to dominate the primary season without mentioning them at all."  7/15/16
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11/14/16, "The Two-Hundred-Year Era of ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ Is Over," Foreign Policy, Emile Simpson

"The political categories we've inherited are obsolete, but we don’t have anything to replace them with yet."...
 
"Before the primaries, it was possible to dismiss the electoral relevance of white working-class America, and those left behind by globalization more broadly, and many did: Look no further than the desiccated Washington-consensus platitudes regurgitated by Hillary Clinton and most of the Republican primary candidates.

Despite Trump and Bernie Sanders’s unexpected success in the primary campaigns, before Nov. 8, denial — most often heard in the form of a “surely Hillary can’t lose to Trump” plea — remained rife. But truth, whether electoral or existential, cannot be repressed forever. Now that the American sovereign being has made its biennial apparition for all to see, nobody can deny the fundamental changes in its personality.

Of course, this new political reality is not confined to the United States. We saw it with Brexit, we see it in populist movements across Europe, and we will see it again in the French and German elections next year.

Brexit and Trump were not anomalies, accidents of political history that can be explained away to maintain the integrity of the inherited notion that “normal” politics involves competition between a center-left party and a center-right party. Rather, in my view, they are symptomatic of a paradigm shift in the configuration of Western political life, one which has only just started.

Consider the familiar political category of left and right, which since 1945 has provided the basic organizing category of political differentiation in Western democracies across the vast majority of issues. Although the language of left and right dates to the French Revolution, the category started to take substantial political meaning in the late 19th century, and was forged over the following decades on the anvil of intense political fights over industrialization in the West, and all the changes in economic, social, and political relations that came in its wake.

The crucial point is that left and right are symbiotic, because they represent both sides of the argument over the problem of industrialization, over which there are good arguments to be made on either side. It is the interaction of these arguments set up by the mediation of the left-right categorization that produced sensible compromises across a whole range of issues.

Thus, the near-universal acceptance of the left and right categorization as a basic political normality after 1945 allowed for a long period of relative domestic stability in the West. Political argument between center-left and center-right parties was ordinarily contained to questions of distributive justice, that is, the allocation of goods within an established political framework.

2016 tells us that this world is now gone. Civil arguments about distributive justice seem quaint, as identity politics — the demon that the post-1945 world sought to contain — once again rears its ugly head.

2016 has made plain that the political categorization of left and right inherited from the industrial era is ill-suited to organize political discussion and competition over the actual problems faced by postindustrial societies. The fundamental issue the West faces today is how to handle globalization. That should be the fundamental organizing principle of political difference.

After all, it was the globalization of the 1990s, inspired by the neoliberal economics of the 1980s, that pushed the West into a postindustrial phase in the first place, as manufacturing jobs moved to emerging markets. That was great for western shareholders; not so great for western factory workers. The left and right model of political normality started to come apart; 30 years later, we have Brexit, President Trump, and the prospect of Président Le Pen.

There are good arguments to be made on both sides of the globalization debate — neither unrestricted globalization nor hard protectionism are appealing. Thus, for Western political life to normalize again, a basic category of political difference must develop that actually maps onto the lived experience of the present day, rather than shoehorning the problems of the 21st century into a political model inherited from the 20th. This category should evolve such that one side is broadly against globalization, and the other broadly for it.

If political discourse operated within this framework, the legitimate arguments that exist on both sides of the divide could produce sensible compromises that would move Western politics back into the realm of distributive argument, and away from the dangers of identity politics.

As things stand, issues that arise are treated through the default left-right categorization, which no longer makes sense. The left, for example, tends to be more internationalist on social issues like multiculturalism and immigration, but more nationalistic on economic issues like trade, outsourcing, and tax regulation. The opposite is true of the right.

As a result, in both the United States and the United Kingdom, the people who are winning referenda and elections are those appealing across traditional left-right divides
through policy choices that would in the last century would have been seen as eclectic, to say the least.

In the United States, Trump has promised mass infrastructure investment to create jobs, normally associated with left-wing big government and Keynesian economics, but also deep tax cuts, normally associated with right-wing small-government and Chicago School economics.

In the U.K., Theresa May’s government speaks of having a “proper industrial strategy,” sounding like a Labour Party government from the 1970s, but simultaneously talks a big game on new trade deals with India and China, which if achieved, would presumably wipe out the U.K. low-skilled manufacturing jobs that her industrial strategy presumably aims to protect.

In short, to actually build an electoral base sufficiently large to acquire political power in the West today, one has to more or less ignore the conventional twentieth century positions associated with left and right. Plainly, however, this approach carries serious risks.

The first is that as the traditional left-right framework of distributive justice type arguments is broken up, there is little to stop identity politics from infecting political discussion. This is exactly what we have seen in Brexit and Trump’s victory, and what we will undoubtedly see in the French and German elections in 2017.

The second risk is that politicians end up promising all things to all people, but end up pleasing nobody, fueling political frustration. We’ll see in four years if Trump can bring home low-skilled jobs through protectionist tariffs and boost the U.S. economy at the same time. That assumes Trump is even serious about protectionism. If it turns out to have been a bait and switch move, stand by for rust belt rage in four years’ time.

Likewise, we’ll see if Theresa May can manage to keep foreign companies in the U.K. if the country prioritizes immigration controls over access to Europe’s single market. The people who will lose out most, should foreign companies relocate to the continent, are the working-class voters who were told Brexit would boost the economy.

In sum, 2016 has diagnosed the political malady the West faces, but has not revealed its remedy: Populists have gained power by identifying grievances to which liberals were blind because they couldn’t see past the populists’ vulgar froth; but the populists have no better idea of how to resolve those grievances. This does not a recipe for political stability make.

On a positive note, however, the populist victories in the U.K. and the United States may reset politics in the West in a way that confronts the problem of globalization head-on, rather than trying to explain it away to preserve the left-right account of politics. This is long overdue.

Left and right is no longer an adequate categorization of political difference: it is a trophy of political stability handed over from the industrial age, where it made sense, to the postindustrial age, where it doesn’t. It is no accident that political movements which defy this categorization are winning. A paradigm shift has started.

But it has not ended: We are just in the turbulent transitional phase. Until the West organizes itself around a new political categorization that treats globalization as the fundamental factor of political life — as industrialization was in the last century — we will have a hotchpotch of left and right policy mixed together by all parties, with little to differentiate themselves except identity.

Yet in transition lies danger; the barge can capsize in the storm. The foundational principle of civic equality in liberal democracies is that no citizen has greater rights than another to define the state. The moment “We the people” becomes a slogan of political division, not political unity, is the moment this ideal has been jettisoned – the moment the virus of identity politics has infected the American body politic. Let us hope it does not corrupt its noble soul."

"Emile Simpson is a research fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows. He was formerly a British Army officer."

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Added: July 2016 article notes "left" and "right" political divisions no longer apply:
"The way we think of left and right is a relic of the Cold War....Left and right are the defining concepts of American politics, yet a Republican candidate (Trump) was able to dominate the primary season without mentioning them at all."  

7/15/16, "A complacent elite is to blame for politics being turned upside down," UK Catholic Herald, Robert Wargas

"The way we think of left and right is a relic of the Cold War. Reality is catching up."

"Trump...rarely talks about "left" and "right" and those movements’ foot soldiers, “liberals” and “conservatives”. Odd, isn’t it? Left and right are the defining concepts of American politics, yet a Republican candidate was able to dominate the primary season without mentioning them at all.
 
There’s a reason: Western political systems are in the middle of a realignment. The way we think of left and right is a relic of the Cold War....


We are heading for a politics in which the divisions are no longer just left and right, at least not in the sense we’ve used those terms for the past few decades. The shift is splitting all current movements into nationalist and internationalist wings – or perhaps populist and establishment, middle class and upper class, or urban and provincial.

This is happening because so many of the traditional features of left and right no longer apply to them. A working-class white person seeking representation used to find it in the left. Now what does he get? A movement telling him to check his “privilege”. A conservative used to be able to count on the right to make the case for cultural assimilation. Now he, too, is told to be quiet and make way for “progress”....

Mainstream Democratic and Labour leaders support large-scale migration into their countries; mainstream Republicans and Tories do so as well, in practice if not in theory. All mainstream liberals and conservatives support free trade, and all are equally likely to regard sceptics of pure free trade as rather “challenged” individuals.

If “left” traditionally meant state control of the economy, why does today’s left spurn trade regulation? Because the left is internationalist. But the right, at least nowadays, is also internationalist....All sides frame foreign policy debates in terms of helping foreigners: taking in refugees, “liberating” other nations and the like. Believing that a country’s foreign policy should primarily benefit that country’s citizens is now akin to revealing some perverted fetish.

Millions of Americans...don’t accept a bipartisan consensus that was formed without their input or permission. Its partisans grew so resistant to reform they treated their own citizens as a kind of plague to be contained in the hinterlands, not as stakeholders with genuine concerns."...

 







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Three in Minnesota active terror cell convicted of attempting to fight for Islamic State. One also used US taxpayer provided federal student loan money to finance a trip to Syria. Three others to be sentenced Wed., Nov. 16 on terror as well as murder charges-WCCO, CBS Minnesota

"On Wednesday, Mohamed Farah, Adnan’s brother, along with Abdirahman Daud and Guled Omar will be sentenced. They were all convicted not only on terror charges but conspiracy to commit murder."

11/15/16, "3 More Convicted Terrorists Sentenced In Minneapolis Federal Court," WCCO, Minneapolis, CBS Minnesota, Esme Murphy

"Three more convicted terrorists learned their fate today in a Minneapolis courtroom. All admitted to trying to leave Minnesota to fight for ISIS.
 
A federal judge sentenced Hamza Ahmed to 15 years in prison. He sentenced Hanad Musse and Adnan Farah to 10 years each.

Once again there were signs of obvious tensions at the courthouse. Judge Michael Davis began the day by warning everyone in court that anyone threatening anyone at the courthouse could face arrest. He underscored the seriousness of the case by reminding onlookers that the defendants were part of an active terror cell.

Hamza Ahmed was sentenced to 15 years in prison and 23 years supervised release on the terror conspiracy charge and a charge of student loan fraud. Ahmed had drained his federal student loan account to finance a trip to Syria. Ahmed apologized in the courtroom, saying “I refuse for this to be my legacy. I will come back and I will help my community.”

Hanad Musse was sentenced to 10 years and 20 years supervised release. He told the court, “I was reckless and selfish. I would tell young ones to stay away from terrorism. Don’t make the mistake I made. I am sorry.”

Also receiving a 10 year sentence and 20 years supervised release was Adnan Farah. His older brother Mohamed was found guilty at trial and faces a possible life sentence [to be announced Wednesday, Nov. 16]. Adnan Farah’s attorney Kenneth Udoibok said while his client received a long sentence, it’s still five years less than what prosecutors wanted.

“He will come out of prison with enough time for life, and to that extent I am grateful for the judge,” Udoibok said.

Farah’s mother Ayan also had words of support for the judge. “Thank you so much. He gave [him] the low sentence for my son, and I appreciate it 100 times a day,” she said.

On Wednesday, Mohamed Farah, Adnan’s brother, along with Abdirahman Daud and Guled Omar will be sentenced. They were all convicted not only on terror charges but conspiracy to commit murder. They’re facing up to life in prison."






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More than 70% of Anti-Trump protesters arrested in Oregon didn't vote in Oregon. Four of 112 arrested were under age 18 and thus not eligible to vote. At least 79 demonstrators either didn't vote or weren't registered to vote in Oregon-KGW, 11/15/16

Update: "Our analysis of court records shows the majority of those arrested in Portland are from either Oregon or Washington. Of the 112 arrested protesters we looked at, 89 listed Oregon addresses and seven listed Washington addresses. One listed a California address and one listed a Texas address. Fourteen protesters didn’t have addresses listed in court records." 
 
"One woman who was arrested told KGW she recently moved to Washington and did vote in Washington. She was also registered to vote in Oregon."

11/15/16, "Most of arrested anti-Trump protesters didn't vote in Oregon," KGW, Kyle Iboshi, Portland, Oregon

"More than 70 percent of the 112 anti-Trump protesters arrested in Portland didn’t vote in Oregon, according to state election records. 

The other approximately 30 percent did cast a ballot in Oregon or in another state.

At least seventy-nine demonstrators either didn’t turn in a ballot or weren’t registered to vote in the state.

KGW compiled a list of the 112 people arrested by the Portland Police Bureau during recent protests. Those names and ages, provided by police, were then compared to state voter logs by Multnomah County Elections officials.

Records show 39 of the protesters arrested were registered in the state but didn’t return a ballot for the November 8 election. Thirty-six of the demonstrators taken into custody weren’t registered to vote in Oregon. 

Kevin Grigsby was one of 71 arrested during the Saturday night protest.  He said he didn't do anything wrong, but told KGW he also did not vote. 

"I did not (vote) and the reason why is because we know that the electoral college is really what matters the most. And I think that we need to change that because your vote doesn’t matter if you don’t have enough electoral college points.," said Grigsby.   

It is unclear if those who aren't registered in Oregon are registered to vote in other states. Most of those gave Oregon addresses as their official residence in court records.

Four of the 112 arrestees are under the age of 18 and thus not eligible to vote, and 33 of the protesters did vote.

Statewide, nearly 79 percent of Oregon's registered voters cast their ballots, representing just over 2 million votes. While nearly 9 out of every 10 Republican and Democratic voters did vote, only 63 percent of those not registered with one of those parties did participate. Officials attribute some of the lack of voting to Oregon's new motor voter law, which has automatically registered hundreds of thousands of people as new voters."

"This article originally stated that 35 people were registered to vote and did not. One woman who was arrested told KGW she recently moved to Washington and did vote in Washington. She was also registered to vote in Oregon." image from KGW









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Sunday, November 13, 2016

Millions of Americans who lost out to globalization of their economy and were disproportionately called on to fight in US "regime change" wars said 'no more.' Democrat Party embraced corporations and abandoned the working class. Rich who became even richer via globalism act as if they're morally superior to the system's 'losers'-Lauria, Consortium News

"(Bernie) Sanders, an independent who chose to run in the Democratic primaries, had been offered the top of the Green Party ticket. The party’s presidential nominee Jill Stein, who was willing to give up that spot, said he never answered her."... 

11/13/16, "The Political World After Trump’s Win," Joe Lauria, Consortium News

"The Democratic Party’s long sojourn into corporate-friendly politics--and neglect of its old working-class base--has led to the shocking result of an erratic and untested outsider becoming President. But is there a route back, asks Joe Lauria."

"A new political force in America was unleashed on Tuesday and how the Democratic Party reacts to it could determine its future as a major party. Millions of discontented Americans who have lost out to the computerization and the globalization of the economy – and who have been disproportionately called on to fight America’s “regime change” wars – have made clear that they aren’t going to take it anymore. And any party or politician going forward better listen or they will be tossed out, too, including Donald Trump if he doesn’t deliver.

This election has struck what should be a fatal blow to the Clintons’ Democratic Leadership Council movement. Bill Clinton moved the Democratic Party to the center-right at about the same time that Tony Blair did with the British Labour Party. Both parties cut many of their traditional ties to labor unions in the 1990s to embrace the economic neoliberalism of their 1980s predecessors Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher: welfare reform, deregulation of the financial sector and “free trade.”

The effect on workers across the old industrial belts has been devastating. Millions have been pushed out of a middle-class lifestyle. They have seen their plants close and jobs shipped to cheap labor markets overseas. Or they have lost out to robotics. 

They’ve also seen the economy shift from production to financial speculation. And they’ve seen the greatest transfer of wealth in decades to the obscenely rich. Wealthy liberals who’ve benefited from this shift often act as if they are morally superior to the system’s “losers” who hear Hillary Clinton put them in a “basket of deplorables.”

On Tuesday, these downwardly mobile workers spoke out, giving Trump the votes he needed in the Rust Belt states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin to put him over the top in the Electoral College (although Clinton appears headed toward a plurality of the votes nationally.)

That someone as eminently unqualified (at least in the traditional sense) could flip the electoral map in this way was stunning. But is the Democratic Party listening and can it adapt to reflect the interests of these Americans? The future of the party may depend on it.

For the past two decades, Democrats have relied on the support of these Rust Belt states as a bulwark for their national candidacies. These states voted twice for Barack Obama.

But many of these blue-collar workers were counting on a significant change to their circumstances, but Obama had failed to deliver that and Clinton only vaguely addressed their concerns with a variety of mostly small-bore policy ideas. Many of these voters judged that the Democrats couldn’t or wouldn’t deliver. So, they rudely slapped the party in the face.

Parallel political trends are playing out in Great Britain, where a discontented working class spearheaded the Brexit withdrawal from the European Union and where Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is fighting to dismantle Blair’s so-called New Labour movement and trying to restore the Labour Party’s historic ties to the working class.

Last week, we learned in a leaked speech that Bill Clinton gave last year that he denigrated Corbyn, saying Labour “went out and practically got a guy off the street to be the leader” of the party. 
“When people feel they’ve been shafted and they don’t expect anything to happen anyway, they just want the maddest person in the room to represent them.”

Bill Clinton’s remarks were typical of the Democrats’ smugness and their contempt for ordinary people. So there was some satisfaction in seeing the humiliation of these careerist and corporatist Democrats on Tuesday.

Now, the Democratic Party had better figure out how they can serve the interests of those blue-collar workers or the party can expect more of the same. So far they are blaming everyone and everthing for having created this workers’ backlash: sexism, the media, FBI Director James Comey (Clinton pinned it specifically on him), Vladimir Putin, Green Party candidate Jill Stein and even Clinton cheerleader Bernie Sanders (for “poisoning the youth vote”).

A former Clinton operative speaking on Fox News said the day after an election loss is a time to engage in the “blame game.” He said “everybody is being blamed but Secretary Clinton.”

Pursuing Solutions

There are solutions to economic injustice but few in power pursue them because it’s not in their self-interest. And politicians of any party act primarily on self-interest these days, which usually translates into the interests of their wealthy financial backers and is thus inimical to real democracy. 

Without a sharp turn to the left to regain workers’ support, the Democratic Party risks becoming totally irrelevant. A new batch of Democratic Party leaders committed to workers must emerge. They have four years to prepare.

Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren tarnished themselves as leaders who can achieve this by supporting a center-right candidate in Hillary Clinton. They failed to acknowledge that Clinton was too alienated from many blue-collar workers (especially whites) who in the end abandoned the party to gamble on Trump.

Sanders, an independent who chose to run in the Democratic primaries, had been offered the top of the Green Party ticket. The party’s presidential nominee Jill Stein, who was willing to give up that spot, said he never answered her. Had they run together they might have gotten the 15 percent in the polls to enter the debates where Sanders would have been a lofty alternative to Clinton and Trump – though had Trump still won on Nov. 8, Sanders surely would have been denounced as a “sore loser” and blamed for “dividing the anti-Trump vote.”

As it turned out, the Democrats managed to lose the White House to Trump on their own. Though the Democratic leadership won’t admit it, they now know that Sanders was running the right campaign to defend workers’ interests and would have been the right messenger to carry that message. However, to protect their own privileged class interests and those of their donors, establishment Democrats left the country open to the dangerous victory of Donald Trump.

Rust Belt working-class voters can’t be blamed for the choices they were given. Without Sanders – and with the Democrats offering one more establishment candidate – these alienated voters instead sent a demagogue to the White House, clinging to the hope that he might keep some of his promises: to end ruinous trade deals, bring back manufacturing jobs to the U.S., create jobs by rebuilding the infrastructure, avoid new wars and clean the D.C. swamp of corruption.

Judging by the people being mentioned for his Cabinet, it’s already looking dodgy: the usual cast of right-wing Republicans – the likes of Newt Gingrich and Rudy Giuliani – who have been part of the problem going back decades.

Yet, if Trump fails to fulfill his promises to improve the economy for common Americans, the voters he so skillfully riled up might well send him packing in 2020 unless, of course, the Democrats put up another corporate choice.

That leaves the notoriously difficult path for a third party that could represent the interests of ordinary Americans. But that possibility showed little traction in 2016, with marginal vote totals for both the Libertarian and Green parties.

Media Also Repudiated

On the positive side, this election became a repudiation not only of the Democratic Party insiders, but also of establishment Republicans, Wall Street, celebrity culture (with famous people flocking to Clinton) and the mainstream news media.

The shock to the American political system also is prompting admissions one would never have imagined hearing. On Fox News the morning after the election, a group of personalities (calling themselves “journalists”) were suddenly talking about class in America, a normally taboo subject.

One of them said journalists didn’t understand this election because none of them know anyone who makes less than $60,000 a year. Apparently, these pampered performers don’t even mix with many members of their own profession. I can introduce them to plenty of journalists making less than that, let alone Rust Belt workers.

Will Rahn of CBS News accused the media of missing the story “after having spent months mocking the people who had a better sense of what was going on. This is all symptomatic of modern journalism’s great moral and intellectual failing: its unbearable smugness.”

Rahn said working-class people have “captured the imagination of journalists, who have come to talk about them like colonial administrators would talk about a primitive inland tribe that interferes with the construction of a jungle railway: They must be pacified until history kills them off.” 

These are stunning admissions that would never have happened without this election result.  But one wonders how long such introspection in the corporate media will last. After the mainstream media got the Iraq WMD story wrong and contributed to the disastrous 2003 invasion, there were a few halfhearted mea culpas but very little accountability.

For instance, Washington Post editorial-page editor Fred Hiatt, who repeatedly wrote as flat fact that Iraq was hiding WMD and who mocked the few dissenting voices trying to warn Americans about the flimsiness of the evidence, is still the editorial-page editor of The Washington Post.

So, not surprisingly – with almost none of the “star journalists” suffering any career setbacks – the corporate media was soon joining more propaganda campaigns for more wars, which are mostly fought by young working-class men and women who actually do suffer.

The difference now is that this new political force of fed-up voters – who “came out of nowhere” as far as the Democrats and the media were concerned although these voters were staring them in the face – might now force a re-evaluation. That’s because these voters are likely still to be there four years from now."

"Joe Lauria is a veteran foreign-affairs journalist based at the U.N. since 1990. He has written for the Boston Globe, the London Daily Telegraph, the Johannesburg Star, the Montreal Gazette, the Wall Street Journal and other newspapers. He can be reached atjoelauria@gmail.com  and followed on Twitter at @unjoe."






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Trump's Win--a Rebuke to the Elites. 'Indeed, the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 was promoted by this intellectual group precisely in furtherance of the notion that concepts such as “national culture” would become meaningless as a result of immigrant cultural dilution'-Crooke, Consortium News

11/12/16, "Trump’s Win—A Rebuke to the Elites," Consortium News, Alastair Crooke. "Alastair Crooke is a former British diplomat who was a senior figure in British intelligence and in European Union diplomacy."...

"Donald Trump’s unlikely election is a Brexit-like blow to the global elites who espoused an arrogant mix of neocon foreign policy and neoliberal economics that has hurt many common citizens, says ex-British diplomat Alastair Crooke."

"So, there it is: Brexit, as I had earlier suggested, was no extraneous “flash in the pan,” but a manifestation of wider and deeper discontents in Western society. Let us be clear: not only did 60 million Americans vote for Donald Trump, but a further 13 million, who voted for Bernie Sanders (in the primaries) similarly voted for strategic change – albeit from within a different political orientation.

I do not intend, here, to attempt any post-mortem on the U.S. election, but rather to try to see what may stand hidden behind the Brexit and Trump events– obscured for now by their overly prominent presence on the forestage of the media and politics.

The first concerns Donald Trump: Unsurprisingly, his personal foibles and his billionaire background have become the focus of a hostile media who question whether he has the ability to bring about strategic change, or not. This is an important question, but still it misses the point. The point here is that there are few – very few – opportunities for elected officials to challenge the status quoespecially when Western centrist parties have patently conspired to offer voters mere nuanced variants of the same “progressive,” liberal, globalized agenda.

In short, there evidently has been a constituency building up, so exasperated at the imperviousness of the elites to the true situation of this constituency, that they want the status quo gone, by whomsoever’s hand is there. Whomsoever: that is the point. It was never some sort of chief executive beauty contest: Would Bernie Sanders have been an ideal President? Would Nigel Farage have been one? Will Trump be able to deliver a new era? — we do not know (but should not foreclose on that possibility). The Whomsoever aspect rather speaks to the depth of alienation that lay latent in American society.

But the message that is in danger of being obscured by the outsize focus on the outsize personality of Mr. Trump is precisely that the “discontents” at democracy, at cultural “identity” politics, at globalization and its sufferings, will not simply disappear now. Mr. Trump will succeed or fail, but the uprising will persist in one form or another – and is likely to spread to other parts of Europe, leaving the latter in turmoil and politically incapacitated.

Profound Alienation

It represents a profound alienation. We should not expect any early return of the liberal world, should Mr. Trump somehow fail. 

Nor should Mr. Trump be viewed as some sort of outlandish political freak. In fact, he fits quite closely to one of the mainstream orientations of American conservatism. It is an orientation that is, by instinct, doubtful of grandiose schemes of political or social re-engineering, preferring to take human nature as it is; it is more inclined to focus on domestic needs, rather than uncertain foreign adventuresis financially conservative; is not economically determinist; and tends to see the family as the indispensable building-block of society. It is a Zeitgeist that sees other countries (say Russia or China) as normal countries with whom one should talk, and to pursue common interests.

That Trump should be regarded as some bizarre oddity, rather than as being in the line of Burke and thrice Presidential contender Pat Buchanan (who admits to a certain paternity, as it were) – speaks more to the success of the neoconservative hijack of American conservatism beginning in the 1960s than reflects the historic spectrum of this intellectual current.

One might say that the neoconservatives were never Conservative, in the sense that neoliberals were never Liberal, in the traditional understanding of these terms. What is new is that the President-elect seems to have put together a new Republican constituency of half the American electorateAnd this new constituency is not just one of “red-necks” (white, blue-collar workers). It has cut across social classes and ethnic divisions. Even Wall Street traders (supposedly aligned with the Clintons) reportedly were enthusiastically yelling “lock her up” during Mrs. Clinton’s concession speech – and college-educated women only gave Mrs. Clinton a 6 percent edge over those who voted Trump.

It is possible “that this election [originally] was intended to facilitate the triumphant return of the neoconservative-neoliberal paradigm all wrapped up in ‘new packaging.’ For various reasons, the decision was made to assign this role to Hillary Clinton,” according to the Oriental Review.

Perhaps this was because she was viewed as well placed to fuse the liberal-interventionist and the neoconservative trends to the Clintonite “cultural identity politics” base – or possibly, simply because it was “her turn” at the Presidency. If so, it has failed spectacularly.
 
The Clinton Failure

Why did it fail? One aspect of the discontent (as I have outlined before – see here) relates to the slow demise of our financialized, neoliberal, debt-driven growth model. For many in America and Europe, the reality has not been one of economic prosperity, but one of anxiety – and for the first time in the post-World War II era – a sense that the next generations’ prospects will be much tougher, and worse, than ours were.

Here (no friend to Trump) is Naomi Klein’s assessment

“They will blame James Comey and the FBI. They will blame voter suppression and racism. They will blame ‘Bernie or bust’ and misogyny. They will blame third parties and independent candidates. They will blame the corporate media for giving him the platform, social media for being a bullhorn, and WikiLeaks for airing the laundry.

But this leaves out the force most responsible for creating the nightmare in which we now find ourselves…[financialized] neoliberalism. Here is what we need to understand: a hell of a lot of people are in pain. Under neoliberal policies of deregulation, privatization, austerity and corporate trade, their living standards have declined precipitously. They have lost jobs. They have lost pensions. They have lost much of the safety net that used to make these losses less frightening. They see a future for their kids even worse than their precarious present.

At the same time, they have witnessed the rise of the Davos class, a hyper-connected network of banking and tech billionaires, elected leaders who are awfully cozy with those interests, and Hollywood celebrities who make the whole thing seem unbearably glamorous. Success is a party to which they were not invited, and they know in their hearts that this rising wealth and power is somehow directly connected to their growing debts and powerlessness.
 
“For the people who saw security and status as their birthright – and that means white men most of all – these losses are unbearable. Donald Trump speaks directly to that pain. The Brexit campaign spoke to that pain.

Here it is represented visually:

Chart via Zero Hedge
Of course, this was not the case for the urban élites:

Cultural Resistance

The second aspect to the present discontent has been cultural oppression (or, in the rhetoric of the Democratic Party, “identity politics” – one of the mainstays of the Clintonite electoral base). Its roots are complex, and lie with philosophic currents emerging out of Germany during WWII that somehow fused with American Trotskyist intellectual thinking (which then migrated to the Right). But, in gist, this current of political thought borrowed from the emerging discipline of psychology the concept of clearing the human mind – shocking it, or forcing it into becoming the “clean slate” on which a new mental program could be written by the psychiatric (or political) therapist respectively.

The political aim here was to eliminate totalitarian thinking, and fascist mental “programming,” and to replace it with a liberal-democracy circuit board.

Indeed, the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 was promoted by this intellectual group precisely in furtherance of the notion that concepts such as “national culture” would become meaningless as a result of immigrant cultural dilution. By the 1970s and 1980s, the objective had evolved to implant the idea that there was really no politics to modernity (Fukuyama’s End of History) since all governance somehow had boiled down to technocracy: ensuring effective liberal market functioning — a matter best left to experts.

In political terms, the “clearing” of the mind’s inherited cultural clutter was to be achieved by cultural wars of political correctness

The class war had become discredited, but there were other “victims” on whose behalf war could be waged: the war on gender discrimination, on racism, on denial of gay rights and sexual orientation stereotyping, on verbal micro-aggressions, on sexist language, or any ideas or language which disturbed the individual’s sense of “safe space” were used as tools to clear away old cultural “brush” of inherited national culture, and open the way for an American-led, globalized world.

The ostensible factor linking all these notions of victim “wars” was that their antonym amounted either to fascism or authoritarianism. 

The problem with this has been that any white American blue-collar worker who attended church, who believed in family life, and was patriotic, became potentially a fascist, a racist, a sexist or a bigot
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Many ordinary Americans (and Europeans) disdain this “cultural” war which places him or her (according to Hillary Clinton), in the “‘basket of deplorables’ Right? Racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, islamophobic, you name it,” and who looked upon his or her community as representing nothing more than a “fly-over” state in the view of the U.S. coastal élites.

The deplorables have now risen up. Donald Trump’s salty language was no liability – it was an electoral asset by thumbing his nose at this correctness, and at so-called ”snowflake” sensibilities.  Trump’s ‘incorrectness’ touched on a deep vein of resentment within American traditional society.

Not only does “flyover America” resent being termed “deplorables,” they feel too clearly the disdain in which the American and European elites hold them– and dislike their arrogance in suggesting that there is only one rational, sensible way of doing things, and that they – the elites, being the experts and a part of the Davos set – should tell the rest of us what it is: (despite their decades of failures).

High Emotions

Emotions are high on both sides. To gain a sense of how bitterly the cultural war will be fought, listen to this from the partly-Soros-funded populist mobilization movement Azaaz [or Avaaz] (linked to America’s Move On organization): “Dear Mr. Trump: This is not what greatness looks like. The world rejects your fear, hate-mongering, and bigotry. We reject your support for torture, your calls for murdering civilians, and your general encouragement of violence. 

We reject your denigration of women, Muslims, Mexicans, and millions of others who don’t look like you, talk like you, or pray to the same god as you. Facing your fear we choose compassion. Hearing your despair we choose hope. Seeing your ignorance we choose understanding. As citizens of the world, we stand united against your brand of division.” 

In short, with Brexit and the Trump victory, we are witnessing an historic point of inflexion. As I noted in mid-October (quoting British political philosopher John Gray): “If the tension between [the globalization project on one hand] and the [sovereign] nation state, [on the other] was one of the contradictions of Thatcherism…From Bill Clinton and Tony Blair onwards, the center-left embraced the project of a global free market with an enthusiasm as ardent as any on the right. If globalization was at odds with social cohesion, society had to be re-engineered to become an adjunct of the market. The result was that large sections of the population were left to moulder in stagnation or poverty, some without any prospect of finding a productive place in society.”

“If Gray is correct that when globalized economics strikes trouble, people will demand that the state must pay attention to their own parochial, national economic situation (and not to the utopian concerns of the centralizing elite), it suggests that just as globalization is over – so too is centralization (in all its many manifestations).”

Well, the global trend does not seem to be going in the Avaaz direction. It seems rather to be heading toward prioritizing the recovery of the state, of state sovereignty, and of state engagement in the pursuit of economic policies appropriate to the particular circumstances of the state, and in the state’s ultimate responsibility for the welfare of the community as a whole.

The question is what does this mean geo-strategically? And, secondly, can and will, Trump be able to deliver the new era? The short answer is that this new era seems to presage a period of political volatility, financial volatility and in Europe and the Middle East, the prospect of continued political “shock.”

It is clear that Mr. Trump is not a globalist. It is also clear that he is aware of some of the dangers of the present global monetarist policy. He has spoken of the U.S. Federal Reserve creating “big ugly bubbles” and that the next economic and financial crisis has been “kicked down the road” by Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen – and clearly awaits whomsoever becomes U.S. President on Jan. 20, 2017.

Painted into a Corner

But three decades of debt-led, financialized “growth policies” leave the President-elect effectively painted into a corner: global debt has spiraled; the bubbles are there still (kept afloat by Central Bank coordinated intervention), and bubbles are infamously difficult to deflate gently; zero or negative interest rates are undermining many a business model, but cannot easily be foregone, without crashing the bond market; and QE (printing money) is systematically eating away at consumer purchasing power through the dilution of its newly created purchasing power, and the latter’s re-direction from “main street” into the financial sector – lifting nominal asset values – but creating no tangible wealth.

America and Europe effectively are in debt-deflation. How then to grow incomes so that producers of goods and services can also afford then subsequently to purchase these goods and services? Trump’s answer is to spend on domestic infrastructure projects. This may help a bit, but is unlikely – in itself – to lift and float the entire U.S. economy.

The reality is that there is no obvious global engine of growth (now that China’s “industrial revolution” has stalled at best). Every nation now is in search of new engines of growth. And it is not easy to imagine that Europe or America will succeed in retrieving all those jobs lost through globalization. Indeed, the attempt so to do – in, and of itself – might just precipitate a further deceleration of world trade, and a consequent decline in output.

In brief, the global economy may see a brief “honeymoon period” thanks to a likely spurt of U.S. fiscal indulgence and a concomitant psychological lift, stemming from – at least – the U.S. construction sector enjoying something of a boom. But ultimately the very economic crisis which Mr. Trump anticipates may prove to be the only way to cut the Gordian knot in which three decades of unprecedented debt and money printing have fettered us.

And if he is to steer through the expected crisis, Mr. Trump will have to eschew the Siren voices of the present elites telling him “TINA” (there is no alternative, but to continue as before).

Where Mr Trump might look for an early (and relatively easy) success however, may be in foreign policy. As “Nixon went to China,” so Trump can go to Russia and China, and begin to treat them as normal nations with whom it is possible to find an intersection of interests (as well as areas of disagreement).

This would be revolutionary. It could change the geo-strategical map. And as President Putin keeps repeating…the door is open (at least for now). Nothing is forever in politics." 

"Alastair Crooke is a former British diplomat who was a senior figure in British intelligence and in European Union diplomacy. He is the founder and director of the Conflicts Forum, which advocates for engagement between political Islam and the West."

Image source: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-11-09/source-our-rage-ruling-elite-protected-consequences-its-dominance

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Saturday, November 12, 2016

America's Ruling Elite has become an incestuous, self-serving few unapologetically plundering the many. Their right to rule without question is based on their moral and intellectual superiority to 'the little people' they loot with abandon. To these rural folks, being cast as racist, misogynist, or uneducated buffoons for being angry about their plight just adds fuel to the fire-Martenson

11/11/16, "Get Ready...Change Is Upon Us," Chris Martenson, peakprosperity.com 

"The 'economic peace' we've enjoyed for decades is over." 

"Obvious misguided economic policies are destined to have a limited period of apparent (but false) prosperity, after which they end with a nasty Bang! 

We have entered just such a time. This isn't a Trump vs. Clinton thing; I'd make this claim regardless of who won this week's presidential election -- as our plight is much bigger than a single Administration. And my observation is that neither political party had much interest beyond some temporary election year lip-service to the economic plight of the middle class.

And by “middle class” I mean anybody not in the top 5% economic bracket. For those doing the math at home, that leaves the remaining 95% of us stuck in the meat grinder....

For those desperately seeking answers to Trump's surprise win, this article ("How half of America lost its f***ing mind," Daniel Wong, Cracked.com "3. "The Rural Areas Have Been Beaten To Shit"), of which I have reproduced only a small part, provides essential context. It's explanation has done wonders for everyone I have shared it with who was struggling:...

The essential context is simply that rural residents are drowning under chronic economic blight. And when they dare to complain about it, they're castigated and humiliated by the dominant city culture that has no awareness of or sympathy for their troubles.

We've NAFTA'd away millions of manufacturing jobs (and those that served manufacturing communities) without providing the displaced labor a path to reskill and apply itself. 

Instead, we've left a patchwork of bomb crater communities across the heartland, where there are no employers and no prospects. To these rural folks, being cast as racist, misogynist, ignorant, or uneducated buffoons for being angry about their plight just adds kerosene to the fire that's been smoldering within them.

A fire which just conflagrated during this week's election.

So to reiterate: the cultural divide that's really in play here is not between the 'enlightened/progressive' people and their supposed opposites. Rather, it's Urban vs Rural
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And as the rural dwellers have increasingly felt marginalized, demonized and otherwise unfairly treated, they are now angry enough at the perceived injustice to lash out against the status quo and roll the dice with an outsider who promises to shake things up. It's not surprising, really....

Adding to this understanding is today's article by our good friend Charles Hughes Smith, who validates the rage the downtrodden are feeling these days:

"The Source of our Rage: The Ruling Elite Is Protected from the Consequences of its Dominance"

"There are many sources of rage: injustice, the destruction of truth, powerlessness.

But if we had to identify the one key source of non-elite rage that cuts across all age, ethnicity, gender and regional boundaries, it is this: The Ruling Elite is protected from the destructive consequences of its predatory dominance.

We see this reality across the entire political, social and economic landscape. If I had to pick one chart that illustrates the widening divide between the Ruling Elite and the non-elites, it is this chart of wages as a share of the nation's output (GDP): 46 years of relentless decline, interrupted by gushing fountains of credit and asset bubbles that enriched the few while leaving the economic landscape of the many in ruins....


America's Ruling Elite has transmogrified into an incestuous self-serving few unapologetically plundering the many. In their hubris-soaked arrogance, their right to rule is unquestioningly based on their moral and intellectual superiority to "the little people" they loot with abandon.

Rather than feel a responsibility to the nation, America's Elite views the status quo as a free pass to self-aggrandizement. Much has changed in America in the past 46 years. Not only have wages and salaries declined as a share of "economic growth," but the wealth that has been generated has flowed to the top of the wealth/power pyramid....

Social mobility has also declined drastically....

The share of the national wealth has been steadily, if not increasingly, siphoned away from the 95% and towards the 5%.  In reality, it's almost entirely gone towards the 0.1%.

The economic “peace” we’ve seemingly enjoyed over the past number of decades turned out to be no peace at all. It was the same sort of peace that existed between the Treaty of Versailles and the outbreak of WWII -- a crippling arrangement that overwhelmingly favored one side over the other....

Similarly, by failing to protect anyone but their cloistered and wealthy friends, the elites of both current US political parties has laid the fuel for the fire that now burns....

So this battle is just getting started and will far outlive Trump and everybody reading this. Decades of ill-advised growth and financial squandering cannot be wished away -- we, and our children (and likely our grandchildren, too), will be cleaning up the messes of our profligacy for a long time....

The new era of status quo rejection is just getting underway."...






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I'm the daughter of an Eagle Scout (fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers and Mets) and a Beauty Queen.