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29 July 2016

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Margaret Steinfels

To: Sam Peralta @ 7:52
Whatever Trump's challenges in Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio, I puzzle over Pennsylvania. Coal-mining and Scranton are not the only issues, but one of the reasons coal-mining is on the downward spiral can be seen in the level of fracking that goes on in Pennsylvania. I don't have statistical comparisons, but while coal-mining PA has tanked, fracking PA (natural gas) has surged. Once the wells are dug, the jobs look to be pretty minimal, but lots of farmers and land owners are raking in the royalties....

robt willmann

Margaret Steinfels,

Regarding the Glass-Steagall law, the financial mess in 2008 did include some real banks (depository institutions "insured" by the FDIC). The careful Pam Martens discusses this in some detail--

http://wallstreetonparade.com/how-the-new-york-times-hides-the-truth-about-wall-streets-catastrophic-misdeeds/

Citigroup was in the middle of the 2008 bank bailouts.

Also in the mix is the massive amount of "derivatives" -- contracts that are not insurance -- that are on the books of the big banks. According to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, as of March 31 of this year, Citigroup had $55.6 trillion in the face amount of derivatives, JPMorgan Chase had $52.3 trillion, Bank of American had $42.9 trillion, and the Goldman Sachs bank holding company had $52.2 trillion--

http://wallstreetonparade.com/2016/07/citigroup-has-more-derivatives-than-4701-u-s-banks-combined-after-blowing-itself-up-with-derivatives-in-2008/

Not surprisingly, when the Dodd-Frank law said that the banks had to remove the derivatives from their ownership and put them in another company that was not an FDIC insured bank, Citigroup got Congress to effectively repeal it by putting the change in a spending bill, as explained in the article cited above--

"Under the “Push-Out Rule” (Section 716 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act), insured banks were not going to be allowed to hold these derivatives when the rule was fully implemented in July 2015. The mega banks would have to “push-out” the derivatives to their uninsured affiliates so that the taxpayer wasn’t on the hook for future losses or bank implosions. But in December 2014, Citigroup was able to slip language into the must-pass spending bill that effectively repealed this critical Dodd-Frank provision and President Obama signed the bill into law."

It is imperative that the Glass-Steagall Act be again made law, without any loopholes.

FB Ali

Cee,

It's a shame that the link you gave to the Der Spiegel report on NATO chief, Gen Breedlove's, devious (and, in my view, treacherous) conduct in trying to steer the US into providing weapons to Ukraine, has obviously aroused no interest. That is the danger of posting a barebones link without any explanation of what it contains.

This one has explosive ramifications. If an officer like Breedlove can rise in the US military to such a high rank, in spite of being essentially uneducated and thus prey to all sorts of strange beliefs and prejudices, then the future for all of us is bleak indeed.

What stopped Breedlove (and his weird 'advisers', including the one who reported about the "tactical nuclear warhead for the 2S4 mortar") from pursuing their mad schemes was Obama's and Merkel's refusal to go along. With Hillary in the White House, the next Breedlove will find a very receptive ear. (And people like Margaret Steinfels will be cheering along, even as the bombs explode).

For those who missed Cee's link, here it is:
http://tinyurl.com/j7quqkj

Bandolero

Margaret,

please allow me to quote some words from my own prediction in "Jihadi Apocalypse (A War Game) Turn 3" from November 2015:

"On June 7th, 2016, Trump and Clinton have won the nominations for the Presidential elections. ... Clinton promises to "do more" to help the Syrian people "defend itself" against genocide committed by "dictator Assad" and his Iranian and Russian fellows ... while Trump promises to "do more" to eliminate "Islamist terrorists" who pose a threat to US security. ... While these are stark (geo)political differences, the US electorate doesn't care much about such foreign policy nuances and most US voters are much more interested in the economy, taxes, immigration rules, abortion laws and healthcare in the US. Polls see the Presidential race as a close call and the result seems unpredictable."

http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2015/11/jihadi-apocalypse-a-war-game-turn-3.html#comment-6a00d8341c72e153ef01b8d173afa6970c

So how did I come to that prediction? I do completely agree with you that most Americans couldn't care less about foreign policy, even when it's disastrous for America and the rest of the world. I agree that they don't know much about it.

However, I disagree the idea Americans care for domestic policies that will address local problems. I believe they don't care for that neither and they don't know much about it, neither.

So, what do I believe how Americans vote? I believe they largely vote based on emotions and brands. It's not important differences in policies that matter like war and peace that decide elections in the US and other coutries, but feelings, affections and nearly completely bogus policy issues, be it transgender toilets or some other thing.

Further I believe that the feelings and affections of the electorate can be manipulated by the rich and powerful. But I do think that the rich and powerful in the US are divided, last not least on foreign policy, and therefore the manipulation of the electorate becomes tricky. I did believe, and I still do believe, that behind Trump are much more powerful forces of the rich and powerful aligned than what meets the eye. And these forces know how to play on feelings and emotions of the electorate just as much as the forces behind Clinton know it. And they have got a lot of resources assembled to seriously try to pull it off.

My opinion now is that if these forces behind Trump hadn't lots of know how and resources Trump wouldn't have been the nominee of the Republican party.

Pat

Wouldn't now be the right time to play the suspended Turn 4 of Jihadi Apocalypse?

annamissed

"Aside: I don't understand the butthurt from some Sanders supporters."

I read this analogy the other day:

Remember when it was discovered that Tonya Harding had paid someone to bash Nancy Kerrigan in the knee, and Americans said "Ahh well, Kerrigans out of the running, so lets rally behind Harding, and if you don't support Harding, you're a crybaby loser"

Neither do I.

Tel

Agree with you that the Sanders voters did deserve to lose and they are hopelessly naive so this beating will be a great education for them.

Problem for Clinton is she has left them with nothing to gain by supporting her; and they are young, they can afford to play the game of yank the rug and see who cries longest. I think a good fraction will stay home in November and even some percentage will switch across to Trump because, you know, sometimes you just need to teach people a lesson in good behaviour, no matter how hard that might be on all concerned.

You have to level the block, before you start building... know what I'm saying? Trump supporters will understand exactly what it is all about.

http://i1.wp.com/www.powerlineblog.com/ed-assets/2016/07/Bern-Horse-copy.jpg

LeaNder

"stabbed in the back"
Stabbed in the back? You are sure you want that one? Trump knew whom he hired, and his favorite deal with Schwartz may well have been one of his best ever. Why not hire a critic? One that knew his dirty side quite well>? ;) Maybe that's why the deal was so favorite?

"he should repay the dirty money he took years ago"

Seems he earned it. Pacta sunt servanda. All Trump had to contribute was his "impressive", or so he thinks, presence. Apparently.

Stuart Wood

I care about foreign policy but also my 401k. Democrats have historically been better for the economy no matter what BS you hear.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/are-democrats-better-for-american-economy-by-jeffrey-frankel-2016-06

Lesly

Tel, no. The Clintons deserve to lose if they take Sanders supporters for granted. Everything points to that happening.

Her trustworthy rating is horrible yet polls show Sanders supporters are lining up behind the ticket. Are these the supporters who bothered to vote in the primaries?

Fred

Stuart,

That's why we have such a vibrant economy right now, notwithstanding what all those Democratic politicians were saying in Philadelphia.

LeaNder

Beyond the article which is quite good, I did a fast check on the writer/C.A. editor, Nathan J. Robinson. He seems to be an interesting guy. ...

"at how much parallel there is between the Democratic Party of 1980s to both parties today."

Care to elaborate?

rjj

Yes, The Borg is NOT monolithic - isn't that a given?

steve

If people followed foreign policy they would realize the GOP has been dominated by the neocon element for years now. Electing Trump won't change that. H likely delegates foreign policy to someone else. That person is likely a neocon, as are the subordinates.

Steve

kao_hsien_chih

With regards Robinson, while I know no more than what he has written and his public bio, he does seem to follow the pattern that I've come to fully believe: the South (especially Louisiana!) produces all manner of interesting thinking, unlike those drab Yankees!! (that, to you foreigners, means Northerners, especially Northeasterners, not generic "Americans.")

The political problem that the Democrats faced in 1970s and 1980s was that they had made so many commitments to their core constituent ideological and interest groups that they were stuck, even as their were losing support from the middle Americans. Because of their commitments, they were unable to do anything, beyond some meaningless salubrious commentary, accusations that their critics are racist and/or mean-spirited, and hoping that bigger turnout among their supporters would somehow turn their fortune around and be satisfied that they were still firmly in control of half the Congress and was competitive for the Senate. The faction of Democrats associated with Clinton, the DLC, now remembered mostly for turning the Democrats towards the right in general, came out of the era behind the argument that Democrats had to adopt a new thinking and a new rhetoric and that meant breaking or loosening their commitments to their constituent groups. (Whether they succeeded or not is hard to tell, at least elections-wise: more than 10% of the votes went to Perot each time Clinton was elected, after all, and his election did cost the Democrats control of Congress.) At any rate, in this sense, at least electorally speaking, their rightward turn was more the means with which to broaden their audience, not the goal in itself.

Fast forward three decades, both parties are fully committed to myriad interests (even if slightly different from 1980s)--they are getting loyal support from some, but losing support from, again, the middle Americans (although the roles seem reversed--Democrats seem closer to the middle America, at least enough that they enjoy a consistent advantage in presidential elections). While neither is really "winning" (being firmly in control of a part of the federal government, but not really able to expand beyond), neither is able or willing to adopt a new approach to expand their audience for much the same reason as the 1980s Democrats--they don't want to give up loyal support from some for chance-y support from the middle Americans. While nobody knows what the results will be (any more than Clinton candidacy in 1992), Republicans have been forced into a guise of new thinking in form of Trump. Because of the other Clinton's epic unpopularity, Trump may yet win because of third party candidacy, like Bill. This is the analogy that I was thinking about.

Margaret Steinfels

Thanks for the clarification and correction.

Question: How will the "new" Glass-Steagall Act resolve the problem?

SmoothieX12

I believe my comment from July 29th didn't get approval. Maybe got lost? It is pretty straight forward comment.

turcopolier

Margaret Steinfels

OT but I am curious and you are a Dem partisan. I am mulling over the apparent difference in HC's regard and feeling toward her parents. Her mother (rest her soul) is the obvious object of her devotion and reverence. Her father on the other hand is rarely mentioned. "He was a Chief Petty Officer at home as well." was about all that was said of him at the convention. Her father was not a career Navy man. He served four or five years in WW2 and was stationed at the Great Lakes Naval Station so he never went anywhere away from home. After the war he was a successful business executive. What is the story behind this? pl

turcopolier

Smoothix12. I don't remember the comment. Try again. pl

SmoothieX12

To speak about Americans "not caring about foreign policy" in the times of Internet and, most importantly, in the times when Free Trade and its derivatives literally de-industrialized US and are finishing off working middle class and this class does get it--one has to be totally out of touch. Trade relations are Foreign Policy relations, this translates into economy and with it to jobs and wages. But considering that HRC's fanboys and girls, most of whom never held a real, productive jobs, are representatives of US fringes (or collection of those) any blanket statements, especially against the background of palpable tiredness from US wars abroad, is a testament to a complete bankruptcy of American "left". The statement that utterly incompetent and political failure HRC can deliver on "some of them" is, frankly, preposterous. How about looking on her "record" as Secretary Of State--speaks volumes. This woman never created anything, only broke.

David Habakkuk

F.B. Ali, Cee:

This gets worse and worse.

The adviser to Breedlove who reported the claim by separatists that they had a tactical nuclear warhead was one Phillip Karber, about whom there is a good deal in the ‘Spiegel’ piece.

The ‘Potomac Foundation’, of which Karber is president was, according to ‘Der Spiegel’, founded by the ‘former defense contractor BDM’ – I understand they are now part of Northrop Grumman.

On a website entitled ‘Indian Strategic Studies’, I came across a review by Michael C. Desch of a laudatory biography of Andrew Marshall, the former ‘RAND’ strategist who became a very long-serving director of the Pentagon’s ‘Office of Net Assessment.’

(See http://strategicstudyindia.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/dont-worship-at-altar-of-andrew-marshall.html .)

Discussing the ONA’s relationships with external contractors, Desch writes: ‘During the Cold War, one of the major recipients of ONA largesse was Phillip Karber of the BDM Corporation, a for-profit defense research organization in Washington, DC.’

In 1995, Marshall commissioned BDM to – as he put it in his ‘Memorandum for Distribution’– ‘interview effectively key Soviet military officers and defense officials’ to help understand how they ‘viewed and assessed the military balance and associated doctrines and force postures.’

In the memorandum, having said it ‘leaves some questions unanswered’, Marshall went on to state that ‘nevertheless, the report is quite interesting.’

As became clear to anyone interested when the study was declassified in 20098, what it actually demonstrated was that Marshall, Karber, et al had got almost everything wrong for decades.

Without going into detail here, a sentence from the summary on the ‘National Security Archive’ archive site seems to the point:

‘All of the strategic models developed by Soviet military experts had a defensive character and assumed a first strike by NATO’.

(Defensive here does not necessarily refer to the ‘military-technical’ level, to use Soviet jargon: the point is that military action would only have been initiated, in response to prior such action by NATO.

Moreover, this was not a ‘political’ strategy, aimed at securing ‘escalation dominance’ and intimidation [e.g. ‘Finlandisation’]: it was obsessively focused on the contingency of a re-run of a 1941-5-style global war.)

(See http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/nukevault/ebb285/index.htm .)

A useful discussion of the BDM study episode was produced by one Jeffrey Lewis in a piece in ‘Foreign Policy’ in October 2014, following the announcement that Marshall – then 93 – was finally going to retire. (And they called Brezhnev’s Russia a gerontocracy!)

(See http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/10/24/yoda-has-left-the-building/?wp_login_redirect=0 .)

However, Lewis also points to one of the limitations of the study – and doubtless his own thinking – when he writes:

‘The authors of the study concluded that the United States had overestimated Soviet aggressiveness, while underestimating the degree to which Soviet leaders had been deterred from invading Western Europe.’

There is not an iota of credible evidence that the Soviets ever had the least aspiration to take over Western Europe by military conquest. The supposed ‘architect’ of containment, George Kennan, has spent decades arguing that he never meant to suggest any such thing.

In fact, a critical part of his conception of ‘containment’ had to do with his – correct – realisation that, in terms of direct territorial control, Stalin had already hopelessly over-extended his empire, rendering it vulnerable to a process of collapse which would start in the satellites and then extend uncontrollably into Soviet territory. (As actually happened.)

For decades after the end of the Second World War, Soviet leaders were locked into their own – acutely self-righteous – Marxist-Leninist ‘narrative’.

Accordingly, they found it difficult to grasp that contingency planning to eliminate the bridgeheads on which the massively superior American military industrial potential could be deployed in the event of war was – hardly unnaturally – construed as indicating aggressive intentions.

As a result, they assumed that ‘deterrence’ was actually code for ‘compellence’, and ‘containment’ for ‘roll-back’.

Part of the complex history of what happened in the ‘Eighties had to do with the fact that the patent collapse in credibility of the Marxist-Leninist ‘narrative’ meant that Russian leaders ceased fighting shadow wars with creations of their own minds, and started engaging with the real world. (And this is what they are doing, in Syria as in Ukraine.)

In relation to Breedlove, the problem is not simply that – like his British analogue General Sir Richard Shirreff – he is patently not the brightest button in the drawer.

It is that the retreat and collapse of Soviet power enabled people like Andrew Marshall and his acolytes to go on persuading others, and themselves, that their ‘narrative’ had been comprehensively vindicated.

The fact that the evidence that emerged from the Soviet Union after its collapse demonstrated that their ‘narrative’ was almost as unreal as the Marxist-Leninist one they could arrange to ignore.

Humourists, noting Breedlove’s name, have suggested a parallel with ‘Dr Strangelove.’ In relation to the association between him and Karber, a better analogy might perhaps be General Turgidson, advised by Dr Strangelove.

But this is patently extremely dangerous.

Clearly, as Margaret Steinfels and others have informed us, the votes of Americans will not be affected by concerns such as this.

After all, if your 401k is at risk, why worry about nuclear war?

How anyone, reading this thread, can suggest that American – or British – democracy is any longer a model to recommend to the world I have difficulty seeing.

And I devoutly hope that strategists in the sub-continent have the sense to pay heed to what critics like Michael Desch have to say about the ideas of figures like Andrew Marshall.

After all, there is no reason why Indians and Pakistanis should blow each other up, simply out of deference to very stupid ‘Western’ ideas.

Tyler

kao,

A great argument for repealing the 19th Amendment.

Tyler

GWI,

The one that sampled West Philly once you dig into the polling areas and as representative of large PA as Tucson is of Arizona.

Tyler

Stuart,

Ah, the ol "when it's good its because of the Democrats, when its bad its because of the Republicans" canard. An interesting play.

Tyler

Smoothie,

No! President Gay Urkel told us that she was more qualified than Eisenhower, Jefferson, or Washington!

Tyler

Reuters rewriting their polling to push Hillary isn't exactly what I'd call a damning commendation of collusion between the Left and the Media, or a sign of strength in their candidate.

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