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04 March 2016

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William R. Cumming

My understanding is aggregated with Gore Nader votes made no difference but perhaps wrong.

William R. Cumming

I viewed and heard interesting interview on a FOX channel this Sunday AM with the DILBERT cartoon creator. Billing himself as an expert on hypnosis and persuasion he stated Trump the best persuader he has heard as a politician and predicted Trump overwhelming victory in November.

Wonder if others saw the interview and what they made of it?

David Habakkuk

Valissa,

With reference to this and also an earlier comment of yours on this thread, in which both a letter to the 'Financial Times' and also David Stockman's response to a column in that paper by Martin Wolf were discussed.

Unfortunately, articles in the 'FT' are behind a subscription wall – and as one can only get (if I recall right) one free one a month by registering, it probably isn't worth the trouble for most people.

But looking at recent articles and comments on these, a very interesting story is unfolding. And here the responses to the Wolf article really are very interesting – so it seems worth providing the relevant link, which is

https://next.ft.com/content/743d91b8-df8d-11e5-b67f-a61732c1d025#comments .)

Currently, there are 1003 comments on the article. And if you look at the 'most recommended' ones, I think it is fair to say that there is a 'sense of the meeting', which is brought out in the opening of the response at the top of the list, from one 'MarkGB', which has 199 recommendations, including mine:

'Even if everything you say about Donald Trump is true Mr. Wolf – you are still missing the point.

'This isn't about Donald Trump. Look around you and you will see a trend unfolding across continents – a backlash against ''establishment politics'' and ''career politicians'' right across the globe. Independence movements, referendums, ''populist'' and ''fringe'' parties gaining traction in every region you look at. But nowhere, it seems, will you find the ''victims'' of this backlash asking themselves some fundamental questions, like – How did we screw up? What have we done, and not done? Why are people so angry? What has led to this state of disgust with our doings? For that is what it is Mr. Wolf – disgust. And I share it.'

What we are seeing here, in my view, is a fundamental change which has been building up for some time. In recent months, a gulf has been opening up between articles in the 'FT' and commentators.

As to the articles, we have had 'Borgist' propaganda in an ever more hysterical form. Some of this comes from staff writers – in addition to Wolf, their Chief economics Chief Economics Commentator, there is Gideon Rachman, their Chief Foreign Affairs commentator, and David Gardner, their International Affairs Editor.

On top of this, there have been columns from, among others: Richard Haass, Dennis Ross, Ivo Daalder, Larry Summers, Simon Schama, and Danielle Pletka.

A good deal of this has involved a defence of what some – including our own Tyler – describe as the 'invade the world, invite the world' approach to things.

But, I am coming to suspect, the increasingly hysterical tone of these articles reflects a realisation by their authors that they are, as it were, 'losing control of the narrative'.

The notion that the concerns that lead people to support Trump can simply be dismissed by some silly-clever research into 'authoritarian' personalities, based on not very meaningful questions about child-rearing, is patently stupid. And the notion that one simply dismiss these concerns is increasingly seen as both stupid and dangerous, by very many people in this country, and elsewhere, who themselves heartily dislike Trump.

My own view is that our situation is unprecedented. At no previous point in British political history have élites been 'autistic' in the way that they have come to be over the past generation.

What the commentators on the 'FT' have been trying to explain to people like Martin Wolf is that if they do not 'snap out of' this 'autism', everyone is going to pay for it, including themselves.

Whether they will succeed is very much an open question. But it is important that this situation – where people like Wolf, in writing like article like this, find that they have very little support among their readers, is really very new.

I am not countering on their 'sobering up' – but not entirely ruling out the possibility, either.

David Habakkuk

Lars,

'The point is that authoritarian regimes never end well.'

What is this supposed to mean?

Actually, democratic regimes have been so rare in human history that the question of whether they are durable has yet to be answered.

However, for what it is worth, let us explore a contrast.

In China, the Communists introduced market reforms, while suppressing 'democratic' dissent.

They are now hailed as the coming economic superpower – and have brought more people out of poverty, more rapidly, than other other government in human history.

In Russia, the 'liberals' were brought into power, as a result of Gorbachev's 'reforms'.

The result was an economic collapse which produced human misery on a scale not seen since the Stalin years.

And the notion of the 'reformers' – and many others – that if they accommodated the professed security concerns of the West, their own would be accommodated, turned out to be complete bunkum.

Those of us who thought this – alike in the Soviet Union and the West – turned out to be Brzezinski's 'useful idiots'. (I was one!)

At every conceivable point, Russian weakness was systematically exploited.

Historically, the prestige of 'democracy' has gone up and down, over the decades.

It was at a nadir in 1931 – but much higher by 1945. In 1989, it was at a zenith.

At the moment, it has been heading down into the doghouse.

Do you seriously think any rational Chinese or Russian, looking at the antics of contemporary American or indeed European politicians, would think that these are a model to be emulated?

We had our opportunity, and we blew it.

SAC Brat

Today's interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iB4jK-mQCug&feature=youtu.be

An earlier CNN interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kydKTVLmP58

It has been interesting to follow Adams' analysis of Trump. Contrast that with all the experts and pundits who see what they want to see and try to fit Trump into their own worldview. It reminds me of Kenny Roberts racing in Formula 1 motorcycles and everyone complaining about his technique being wrong but he was winning.

Thomas

"It reminds me of Kenny Roberts racing in Formula 1 motorcycles and everyone complaining about his technique being wrong but he was winning."

Good analogy as Kenny Robert's dirt track experience allowed him to break from the road racing norm, just as The Donald's media experience has turned the political entertainment industry upset side down.

This election is not so much about the man Donald Trump, but the question of the ability of the system to be corrected through the peaceful means of the elections, because if not then the age old way of societal changes comes into play. May the Borg Brotherhood get over their collective brain freeze to realize this.

Blaker

" At least the little people of the Republican party are attempting to fight back." And what about the rise of Sanders in the democratic party? Is his phenomena not also the little, disregarded people of the Democratic Party fighting back? I find it interesting that on this site there is much talk about how Trump is sending the elite into convulsions, but nary a mention of how Sanders is accomplishing a similar feat among the Democrats.

turcopolier

Blaker

if you think SST is partial to the Democrats you have not been paying attention. FWIW I agree that the Sanders phenomenon represents an equally damaging scenario of the Democrats. If it were not for the unreasoning love for the Clintons displayed by Blacks she would be toast. pl

kao_hsien_chih

Nowadays, it is pretty hard to sum up what "neoliberalism" is any more, since it has been so thoroughly mixed up in political lingo.

I suppose, in the end, neoliberalism amounts to letting people make money whatever way they like. In the former communist blocs, it took a lot more sinister turn where people in charge simply sold off valuable public assets to line their own pocket, while, in the West, especially in the U.S., application of neoliberalism seems to have been a bit different: Wal-Mart is probably the best example.

The origins of Wal-Mart's success is not too well-known even in the U.S., and I imagine that it is probably not well-known in Europe, so let me explain briefly. Sam Walton was a ruthless business genius who incorporated both information technology, and later, free trade to build a retail empire. He saw a vast underserved market in small towns in middle America and decided to use heavily data driven inventory management system using a lot of computing power to capture that market far more efficiently than existing mom and pop stores. Later, Wal-Marts also benefited from cheap imports from abroad. So he created a lot of value, but destroyed a lot of small businesses that couldn't compete. There's no question that he created a lot more value than he destroyed, most of the value created went to himself and other wealthy investors while the value that he destroyed belonged mostly to small town business people and their employees.

I think the story of Wal-Mart captures the current spirit of neoliberalism better than anything: vast economic value created by aggressive use of technology and reliance on technology coupled with, eh, rather predatory business practices toward both competition and labor, with disdain for regulation that sought to curb their practices as "inefficient," often by taking big risks. The net consequence is that the net economic value grows, but in highly uneven and in a dangerously unstable fashion, especially since the firms' predatory practices destroy the future demand for their own goods and services.

Yet, if aggressive use of technology, free trade, and making lots of profits in general is a good thing, what's wrong with unfettered neoliberalism? All these have come to be accepted as natural state of mankind among many today, not only in United States, but in many parts of the world, and very few people seem interested in openly challenging this.

kao_hsien_chih

Yet, O'care did ensure that a great deal of money would be spent propping up the insurance industry's bottom line. I suspect that, in the short run, they may be losing some money, but it is not clear that this will continue into the future. In fact, I seem to recall people openly wondering about the sustainability of O'care arrangement, although I don't know the numbers off the top of my head.

FB Ali

In the usual fashion of US politics, attention is being focussed solely on Donald Trump. The real story, I suspect, is the people who are supporting him.

A recent article by Chris Hedges is titled "The Revenge of the Lower Classes and the Rise of American Fascism". It is worth reading at:

http://tinyurl.com/zyrl3dq

Uri Avnery, another percipient observer, also discusses this phenomenon in his piece at: http://tinyurl.com/jv6j9ur

If correct, this is the real story. All that Trump has done is to recognise this phenomena, and cleverly become its 'face' and spokesperson.

As Hedges says, even if Trump loses his bid for the Presidency, the fascism that has arisen among those left out of the economic structure to fend for themselves will continue and grow, and is likely to seek more violent outlets.

Akira

What is most sinister about the Trump spectacle is exactly what was so sinister about Obama, this sort of prefabricated entertainment product completely displacing the political with a fake celebrity Messiah. Obama was an experienced politician with star power. Trump is just pure star power. This is the real domination of the spectacle, the point at which the distinction between politics and entertainment no longer exists.

In the classic Science Fiction movie the Forbidden Planet, the mystery of the vanished civilization was that a great scientific race had destroyed itself when its supreme technological power unleashed the destructive force of its own Id. The politically weaponized entertainment spectacle is a propaganda technology of extraordinary power. Now it has fallen into the hands of our American Id, Donald Trump, who has risen out of New York harbor with radioactive twitter breath to do the Godzilla on the entire Republican Party establishment.

And yet who among us can honestly say we aren't enjoying the show?

Or that Romney, Bush, etcetera, didn't have it coming?

Trumpzila vs the Hillary Monster is going to be the most entertaining election in a century, a sort of mad funeral dirge for our civilization.

The great eschatological drama of our American apocalypse is appropriately enough a no holds barred cage match between a sleazy salesmen and a soulless technocrat.

You get the radical subject you deserve...

turcopolier

FB Ali

I read the article and thought it exaggerated. This is written by a man from the far Left who abhors traditional American values and those who hold them dear and who desperately wants continuation of the Obama/HC post 60s program of transforming the US into a country in which traditional Americans of all races, origins and religions are marginalized. pl

rjj

Hedges is an interesting guy. Minister with two Harvard degrees. https://newrepublic.com/article/118114/chris-hedges-pulitzer-winner-lefty-hero-plagiarist

If it is the lumpen voter to whom Trump appeals, it must not be the fundies but the hordes of off-put fellow aristos with Harvard degrees who are supporting Cruz.

rjj

Who knew Kansas and Nebraska were full of bolshies!!!???

Fred

Chuck,

If I run for office again I'll have to use that line of Randolph's.

different clue

kao_hsien_chih,

Did Mr. Walton build the Walmart bussiness in two stages? Stage one the data-driven just-in-time maintainance of store-shelf inventory to underprice little competitors all over small town America? If the value he created and moved up the ladder to himself was more than the value he destroyed, including the unmonetizable value of social stability built around small-bussiness involvement in and employment-support-of local communities, then we could say he created more value in stage one.

If outsourcing to China and elsewhere was stage two, and really ramped up after the passage of WTO and MFN for China, then I think he destroyed more value in stage two than he created. Transferring jobs from America to China merely transfers creation of material objects of value from America to China. It doesn't increase the number of material objects made, meaning no more gross overall value in no more gross overall things made. And if the things made in China were/are lower quality than the same things made here had used to be, then each China-made thing is less valuable than its American-made predecessor. I would again invite everyone here to compare a made-in-China Stanley Thermos findable in most any store to a legacy made-in-Tennessee Stanley Thermos if you can find one. (When I read someone had bought Stanley and was moving all its production to China, I bought several made-in-Tennessee Stanleys against the day when they would all be gone.) Quality-reduction is value-reduction. And even
worse,moving all that industry to China created a situation where it takes burning twice as much coal in China to make a unit of material production as what it used to take to make that unit in America. That means twice as much carbon-skydumping for the same old amount of stuff, destroying ecological value all over the earth. Plus all that coal burned in China has gassed and is gassing bunches of mercury into the air. Most of it falls back out into the Pacific Ocean. Over the last few years tuna from the Pacific Ocean has contained 4% more mercury each year than the year before. How much value is THAT destroying? So it seems to me that Walton's stage two ( outsourcing) has destroyed more value all over the earth than the value of the money that Walton has gained for itself from the outsourcing.

different clue

no one,

Really? Big Insura is losing enough money on Ocare that Big Insura is pulling out of the "Oxchanges"? I don't think that was Obama's intention. I think Ocare was structured as a huge multi-decade giveaway/bailout to Big Insura. I think what is happening ( and this is being discussed sometimes at Naked Capitalism) is that enough people are discovering how bad their Ocare plans really are that they are failing to renew. And enough other people are learning how bad the plans really are that they are failing to sign up to begin with. And they won't sign up until the tax penalty amounts to more money than the cost of signing up plus the cost of deductibles and co-payments plus the negative value of narrow networks and etc.

I don't think Obama wanted that outcome any more than Big Insura wants it. I think Big Insura may not pay Obama as much money as Obama was expecting after he leaves office, if Obamacare works out this way.

I also think that Congress will try to pass legislation imposing years of hard time in prison for refusal to buy health insurance . . . to make Obamacare work THAT way. Will a public seething with sullen bitterness be able to prevent their Congress from passing such a law? Will such efforts prepare the ground for a new attempt to get taxfunded Single Payer CanadaCare for this country?

different clue

annamaria,

I would suggest a new word for Think Tanks like AEI. I would call them Spinmills. (Anyone who likes that word please feel free to use it and spread it around. If no one likes that word, it will die a quiet death right here in this comment).

different clue

ex-PFC Chuck,

Perhaps we will end up with a 3 Party System. Democratic Populists on the Right, Democratic Socialists on the Left, and Depublicrats in the Vital Center. The Clintons, the Bushes and the Obamas can all join the Depublicratic Party and keep eachother company. Birds of a feather, and all that.

BB

The great eschatological drama of our American apocalypse is appropriately enough a no holds barred cage match between a sleazy salesmen and a soulless technocrat.

You get the radical subject you deserve...

Trump is a sleazy salesman?? Guess if you listen and believe the establishment and media. Coolidge said that the business of America is business. Trump turned a million dollars into a 10-billion dollar company. A few weeks ago the NY Post (Michael Goodwin?) had an op-ed on how it was Trump who turned around Manhattan and NYC. This "sleazy salesman" has the backing of multi-billionaire partners whom Trump has done business with for decades (Icahn, Wynn, Hirschfeld, Kushner, Ruffin, et al.). Maybe they are all sleazy as well?? To quote Trump, whatever. I've read lots and lots of commentary during this election and I have only heard one criticism of Trump as a candidate that seemed somewhat legitimate, and it came from the the guy who runs this blog. Col. Lang made a good point that Trump does not know how government works. Funny enough, a week later Trump said he would pick a VP who had political experience and knowledge of how government works. Then I read a Reuters story that said Gen. Michael Flynn is one of Trump's unofficial foreign policy advisors. Either Trump or one of his advisors reads this blog.

different clue

Blaker,

That may be in part because the MSM has dropped a Cone of Silence over Sanders and is trying to embargo any news about him at all as much as it can. Less is said about Sanders, therefor less is said about what the Sanders campaign means.

Fred

David,

'losing control of the narrative'.
I think that sums up quite a bit of what is going on in the global MSM - to include social media. The right has pointed out the blatant hypocrisy of Facebook with its blocking of any negative commentary on refugees. The same is true on Twitter, with the creation of a "Trust and Safety council" and the resulting "shadow banning" of users. Amongst the first being Milo Yiannopoulos, whose fans responded with #jesuismilo (You have to appreciate the irony there). The market has responded with a nosedive in Twitter share price. (So much for the fiduciary duty of the executives.) Need I point out that it is those most opposed to the pro-immigration, pro-PC policies that are being banned?

http://www.breitbart.com/tech/2016/03/04/white-house-press-secretary-social-medias-success-predicated-on-free-speech/
http://www.breitbart.com/tech/2016/02/16/exclusive-twitter-shadowbanning-is-real-say-inside-sources/

Fred

Blaker,

The Democrats do not have any candidate that could reasonable be called an outsider and the voters choices are going to have a quite limited impact due to the party's use of "super" delegates. The Republicans have a different set up and different candidates.

Fred

WRC,

Gore lost Florida because a bunch of bleeding hearts, a few of whom I know personally, were stupid enough to vote for Nader.

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