Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Today's links

1--How We Will Win-- Trump’s revolution and the road to freedom

Trump saw this – and launched a crusade to “make America great again.” Not by vanquishing some foreign bogeyman, but by challenging and defeating a decadent elite that is draining the country dry with its foreign wars, its war on American workers, and a subversive allegiance to transnational entities that owe no loyalty to this country.

2--Trump’s $1 Trillion Infrastructure Plan: Lincoln Had a Bolder Solution

Trump: We are going to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals. We’re going to rebuild our infrastructure, which will become, by the way, second to none. And we will put millions of our people to work as we rebuild it.

Another Privatization Firesale?
The infrastructure plan of the Trump team was detailed in a report released by his economic advisors Wilbur Ross and Peter Navarro in October 2016. It calls for $1 trillion of spending over 10 years, funded largely by private sources. The authors say the report is straightforward, but this writer found it hard to follow, so here the focus will be on secondary sources. According to Jordan Weismann on Slate:
Under Trump’s plan … the federal government would offer tax credits to private investors interested in funding large infrastructure projects, who would put down some of their own money up front, then borrow the rest on the private bond markets. They would eventually earn their profits on the back end from usage fees, such as highway and bridge tolls (if they built a highway or bridge) or higher water rates (if they fixed up some water mains). So instead of paying for their new roads at tax time, Americans would pay for them during their daily commute. And of course, all these private developers would earn a nice return at the end of the day.
The federal government already offers credit programs designed to help states and cities team up with private-sector investors to finance new infrastructure. Trump’s plan is unusual because, as written, it seems to be targeted at fully private projects, which are less common.
David Dayen, writing in The New Republic , interprets the plan to mean the government’s public assets will be “passed off in a privatization firesale.” He writes:
It’s the common justification for privatization, and it’s been a disaster virtually everywhere it’s been tried. First of all, this specifically ties infrastructure—designed for the common good—to a grab for profits. Private operators will only undertake projects if they promise a revenue stream. . . .
So the only way to entice private-sector actors into rebuilding Flint, Michigan’s water system, for example, is to give them a cut of the profits in perpetuity...

Economists call this “helicopter money” – money issued by the central bank and dropped directly into the economy. As observed in The Economist in May 2016:
Advocates of helicopter money . . . argue for fiscal stimulus—in the form of government spending, tax cuts or direct payments to citizens—financed with newly printed money rather than through borrowing or taxation. Quantitative easing (QE) qualifies, so long as the central bank buying the government bonds promises to hold them to maturity, with interest payments and principal remitted back to the government like most central-bank profits.
Helicopter money is a new and rather pejorative term for an old and venerable solution...

Boldness Has Genius in It
In a January 2015 op-ed in the UK Guardian, Tony Pugh observed:
Quantitative easing, as practised by the Bank of England and the US Federal Reserve, merely flooded the financial sector with money to the benefit of bondholders. This did not create a so-called wealth affect, with a trickle-down to the real producing economy.
. . . If the EU were bold enough, it could fund infrastructure or renewables projects directly through the electronic creation of money, without having to borrow. Our government has that authority, but lacks the political will.

3--It did happen here

In his victory speech, Trump struck a conciliatory note. “I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans,” he intoned. “Every single American will have the opportunity to realize his or her fullest potential.” This stood at odds with a year and a half of rancid rhetoric that was denounced far and wide as racist, sexist and xenophobic. That said, racism, sexism and xenophobia have long been embraced by American presidents – anti-immigrant presidents, presidents who oppressed, forcibly displaced, imprisoned, or killed their fellow men on the basis of race or ethnicity, presidents who were dismissive when it came to a woman’s right to vote, or even owned women outright....

“It can’t happen, can it?” That question still echoes in my mind.
I know all the things that now can’t happen, Clinton’s wars among them. The Trump era looms ahead like a dark mystery, cold and hard. We may well be witnessing the rebirth of a bitter nation, the fruit of a land poisoned at its root by evils too fundamental to overcome; a country exceptional for its squandered gifts and forsaken providence, its shattered promises and moral squalor.
“It can’t happen, can it?”
Indeed, my friend, it just did.

4--, Mr. Pence ordered the removal of all lobbyists from the transition team

Another round of staff changes buffeted President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team Tuesday amid resistance from within the Republican Party over a top choice for secretary of state.
Vice President-elect Mike Pence formally signed documents that put him in charge of the transition team, and officials insisted the 10-week effort to build an administration is on schedule. In one of his first moves, Mr. Pence ordered the removal of all lobbyists from the transition team, said one transition team member with knowledge of the decisions.

Last year, Mr. Giuliani addressed MEK leaders in Paris and called for the overthrow of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his clerical regime. “The Ayatollah must go! Gone! Out! No more!” Mr. Giuliani told a crowd of thousands. “He and Rouhani and Ahmadinejad and all of the rest of them should be put on trial for crimes against humanity.”
The MEK paid Mr. Giuliani and other former U.S. officials to speak at its events, according to group leaders and U.S. officials who investigated the matter. Speaking fees ranged from $25,000 to $40,000 per appearance.

5--The bond vigilantes are back, and Trump better pay attention

6--GOP rushes to embrace Trump

7--White House Propagandist Bannon's Gravy Train Is Secretive Radical Right-Wing Billionaire Hedge Fund Family

“This is not the French Revolution,” Bannon said, characterizing Trump's achievement and goals. “They destroyed the basic institutions of their society and changed their form of government. What Trump represents is a restoration—a restoration of true American capitalism and a revolution against state-sponsored socialism. Elites have taken all the upside for themselves and pushed the downside to the working- and middle-class Americans

Who’s Calling Who Elite?
Bannon’s revolution is being led by the very people Trump demonized in his final political ads in Rust Belt states—the elite players in American finance and media. No one epitomizes that contradiction as clearly as the billionaire Mercers, and their long embrace of Trump’s new White House strategist, Bannon, who made a fortune at Goldman Sachs and in Hollywood before taking over Breitbart.
Bannon, who grew up in a Democratic household in Virginia, was a Navy veteran who became a Wall Street trader before turning to media. He is among a handful of grantees and causes that have been boosted by multimillion dollar investments or infusions from the Mercer family. Breitbart received $10 million, and in turn, as Politico said, dutifully publicized Mercer grantees and causes, including some of the most notorious right-wingers, such as the activists who made the 2008 anti-Hillary Clinton movie that led to the Citizens United lawsuit and U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down the few remaining limits on campaign cash...

Family patriarch Robert Mercer is notoriously publicity averse. But one daughter, Rebekah, isn’t, and has become one of the most powerful women in Republican circles. Last summer, according to a series of reports in the New York Times, Politico, The Hill and other outlets, she persuaded the Trump family—the candidate, his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner—to replace his campaign team with Bannon and their longtime pollster Conway, and to incorporate their data-mining operation, Cambridge Analytica, to expand the campaign’s voter targeting. That came after a series of conversations at Trump fundraisers and private dinners.
“A few days later, one of the guests, Stephen K. Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News, would become Mr. Trump’s campaign chief in a sudden shake-up,” the Times wrote in mid-August. “But it was a guest without a formal role in the campaign, a conservative philanthropist named Rebekah Mercer, who has now become one of its most potent forces.”...

It has become a cliche that no one knows how Trump will really govern because of a lack of specifics during the campaign. But it is clear what libertarians like the Mercers want—to remove any obstacle preventing corporations and the super-rich from enlarging their wealth; and what ideologues like Bannon want—the dismantling of federal safety nets, from the 1930s New Deal to Obamacare, the expansion of policing and immigration enforcement, and no action on climate change to create a post-carbon energy system

8--Erdogan is out of touch with reality-- Interview  with Bashar al Assad

President Assad: Without bringing all those countries and the different factors in one direction, of course it’s going to be difficult. That’s why I always say the Syrian problem as isolated case, as Syrian case, is not very complicated. What makes it complicated is the interference from the outside, especially the Western interference because it’s against the will of the Syrian government, while the intervention of the Russians, Iranians, and Hezbollah is because of the invitation of the Syrian government. So, his role as Secretary-General in bringing all these powers together is very essential` and we hope he can succeed, it’s not easy of course.
Question 16: Let me pick out Turkey; their army is in your country, their President said last week that their interests lies beyond the natural borders; he referred to Mosul and Aleppo. Do you accept this?
President Assad: Of course not. You’re talking about sick person; he’s megalomaniac President, he is not stable. He lives during the Ottoman era, he doesn’t live in the current time. He’s out of touch with the reality.

Question 17: But how you are going to do with their army inside your country?
President Assad: It’s our right to defend it; it’s invasion. It’s our right to defend our country against any kind of invasion. But let’s be realistic, every terrorist came to Syria, he came through Turkey with the support of Erdogan. So, fighting those terrorists is like fighting the army of Erdogan, not the Turkish army, the army of Erdogan.
Question 18: But it’s a NATO country, are you aware of that?
President Assad: Yeah, of course. Whether it is a NATO country or not, it doesn’t have the right to invade any other country according to the international law or to any other moral value
Question 19: Mr. President, America’s new elected President, what do you expect of Donald J. Trump?

President Assad: We don’t have a lot of expectations because the American administration is not only about the President; it’s about different powers within this administration, the different lobbies that they are going to influence any President. So, we have to wait and see when he embarks his new mission, let’s say, or position within this administration as President in two months’ time. But we always say we have wishful thinking that the Unites States would be unbiased, respect the international law, doesn’t interfere in other countries around the world, and of course to stop supporting terrorists in Syria.

Question 20: But he said in an interview that he seems to be ready to work with you in the fight against the Islamic State or ISIL, are you ready for such a move?
President Assad: Of course, I would say this is promising, but can he deliver? Can he go in that regard? What about the countervailing forces within the administration, the mainstream media that were against him? How can he deal with it? That’s why for us it’s still dubious whether he can do or live up to his promises or not. That’s why we are very cautious in judging him, especially as he wasn’t in a political position before. So, we cannot tell anything about what he’s going to do, but if, let’s say if he is going to fight the terrorists, of course we are going to be ally, natural ally in that regard with the Russian, with the Iranian, with many other countries who wanted to defeat the terrorists

9--The way forward in the fight against Trump

The response of the Democratic Party to the election underscores a fundamental political fact: Opposition to Trump cannot be carried forward through or in association with the Democratic Party or any of its factions. This longtime party of American imperialism cannot be changed, reformed or “taken back.” All those advancing such a perspective are in objective political terms working to block the emergence of an independent political movement of the working class.

When he called the election an “intramural scrimmage,” Obama revealed more than he intended: namely, that the Democrats and Republicans stand together—along with Wall Street, the CIA and the Pentagon—against the working class. The Democrats are petrified of the growth of social opposition, which threatens the capitalist system and the ruling class whom they serve. They are more fearful of encouraging and legitimizing popular protest than they are of the consequences of a Trump administration.

This cowardice of the Democrats before Trump and the far right is a continuation of their role in the election campaign. Clinton ran a right-wing campaign based on scandals and warmongering, directed particularly against Russia. She ran as the continuation of the Obama administration, which has presided over eight years of military violence, growing social inequality and escalating attacks on democratic rights.

Throughout the election, the Democrats marketed themselves as a party of “identities,” combining a right-wing program of war and reaction with the promotion of racial and gender politics that serve to divide the working class while advancing the interests of privileged layers of the upper-middle class. Voter turnout for Clinton declined among workers of all races because the Democrats have nothing to offer to working people.

This is because they defend the capitalist system, which is in mortal crisis all over the world. It is the capitalist system that has produced Trump

Decades of war, austerity and social reaction have fatally undermined democratic processes and produced a society dominated by financial parasitism and political corruption. These are the conditions that have vomited up Donald Trump, the fascistic personification of the collapse of American democracy.

10--Trump’s candidate for Homeland Security chief calls for suppression of anti-Trump protests

In the final analysis, Clarke’s eagerness to inflict violence on anti-Trump protestersand the fact that he is nevertheless being considered for a post in the Trump administrationreflects the homicidal class hostility with which the political establishment views any form of opposition to its policies or its rule. It confirms the analysis made by the World Socialist Web Site that the so-called “war on terror,” together with the militarization of the police, were never about protecting the American population from harm. Instead, these policiesimplemented relentlessly through both the Bush and Obama administrationswere designed to build up the framework of a police state and abrogate democratic obstacles to authoritarian rule. These are tools the incoming Trump regime is now itching to deploy against any opposition to its unpopular policies.

11--New York Times apologizes for coverage of presidential election

Sulzberger promised that the Times “will look within and beyond Washington to explore the roots of the anger that has roiled red and blue America.” He added, “If many Americans no longer seem to understand each other, let’s make it our job to interpret and explain. Our predecessors founded our singular newspaper for just this momentto serve as a watchdog to the powerful; and to hold mighty institutions accountable, without fear or favor.”

This is doubletalk, intended to conceal the Times’s prostration, and that of the entire liberal and left-liberal media. The newspaper’s editors were not aware of “the anger that has roiled red and blue America” for definite political and class reasons, not because they experienced a temporary and mysterious failure of their sensory powers.

Wealthy, self-absorbed and pleased with the world, Sulzberger and his colleagues were distant from the widespread hostility toward Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and the Democrats, prompted by the assault on jobs, wages, pensions and health care, yawning social inequality and endless war. They self-servingly wished away the widespread mood of anger and protest...

Peculiarly, in the middle of her article, Davis suddenly veered off into a defense of the Times against various criticisms of the newspaper Trump had posted on Twitter. She countered his claims that the Times had issued “an apology to readers” (which it had), had been “losing of thousands subscribers over its campaign coverage” and had “falsely reported that he believed additional nations should acquire nuclear arms.” This bizarre detour, taking up several paragraphs, suggests extreme nervousness and defensiveness, and perhaps fears that a Trump-Bannon administration will retaliate against the Times.

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