Tom Frank is obviously the man of this minute.
But no one is paying attention to the time(s) now.
At the convention in Philly, Truthdig founder and editor Robert Scheer ran into Thomas Frank, whose latest book, Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened To The Party Of The People? is a must-read for all progressives and, hopefully, for some Democrats who aren't already too far gone. Frank admitted Democrats aren't paying the book any serious attention..
His critique - "that what we have today is a liberalism of the rich ... of the professional classes, these sort of affluent people who have developed a whole kind of pseudo-Marxist theory of why they’re affluent and why they deserve to be affluent, and why those who, you know, their former supporters in the working class don’t deserve to be affluent." He despairs that this new rationale behind the New Democratic Party "is a really ugly ideology, but it’s not something that they are prepared to change their tune on."
He analyzes Hillary's career in one chapter, even if he feels she's incapable of change. The New Dem wing types, the corporate Dems, don't want to hear "unconstructive" criticism of her and she really believes that folks who run the financial institutions in New York have a mission civilisatrice and those Wall Street banks "are in fact run by fine, upstanding individuals who are opening up the doors of possibility for the poor people of the world, or something like this. She really believes in what they’re doing. Democrats [from the Hillary wing of the party, which is obviously ascendent now] look at Wall Street and they see people like themselves. It’s not that they’re bribed to like these guys; it’s that they have an ideological kinship with them.
He didn't expect Bernie to make the case at the convention that the Clintons aren't to be trusted - but he would have loved it. "When you want to talk about inequality, you want to talk about what’s gone wrong in this country, the sinking of the middle class - everything that’s gone wrong, and I would include in my bill of complaints, my bill of grievances, the rise of Donald Trump - all of these things are attributable to the Democrats’ abandonment of their traditional constituency and their traditional sort of Rooseveltian identity.
Hillary is a perfect example — a perfect specimen — of the kind of Democratic politics that I’m talking about. Very oriented towards the professional class; she really believes — I mean, how many times did you hear that word “innovation” from the podium yesterday? You know, people talking about education as the solution to every economic problem. This really is her ideology. She is a true believer in neoliberalism. It’s not an afterthought, it’s not something that she did in order to win the affection of the money men. This is who she is. And it’s who her husband is. And you know, I think that the Democrats have to deal with this, and I think it’s especially important in this year, because in some ways their abandonment of blue-collar people, or I should say the white working class specifically, is this really has allowed Trump to do what he’s done. This is what has made his success possible.
So I was just in the Republican convention in Cleveland. And the man, you know, is this kind of monster in many, many, many ways, but there’s this one issue where he has got, he is reaching out to working-class voters and he’s doing it really effectively. And this is trade. And he talks about it constantly. And he’s very ham-handed, and he doesn’t have a plan, but he talks about it in a way that is convincing to a lot of these people. And here’s Hillary - and by the way, this is the perfect, I was saying just this morning — Hillary Clinton is the only Democrat that Donald Trump could possibly beat, and vice-versa. Right? Donald Trump is the only Republican that Hillary Clinton could possibly beat; they’re both, two of the least popular politicians ever to run for this office. But had it been any other Republican, Hillary would be in big trouble; had it been any other Democrat, i.e. Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump would be in enormous trouble. But when he goes against these trade deals, he’s always talking about NAFTA. And this is - look, again, his party is largely responsible for free trade and for all of this stuff, for the free market theory and the reign of globalization. That’s his guys that did that. But NAFTA, and a couple of the other ones, he can blame on the Clintons. And Trans-Pacific Partnership, he can blame on Obama. And this is very, very, very effective. And Hillary Clinton is possibly the one candidate where this sort of thing would work.
...[W]hen I mentioned that Trump has this one issue where he is talking a good game, this makes people really mad, because they want to believe that he is, that he has this dark, diabolical, sort of Svengali power. And I’m saying to them, no; this is something unfamiliar, this is something new; this is not Marco Rubio, or if Ted Cruz had been the nominee. This is something different, this is a new beast. And I don’t think he’s a fascist, but it’s not a bad comparison, because the fascists had — you know, they also built the Autobahn. And they also, you know, had this enormous public works program. And they also did all these things that was kind of like, you know, there was a reason that they were sort of popular.
[T]he vast majority of people in this country still haven’t recovered from that recession that was brought about by those toxic derivatives. And the derivatives were explicitly deregulated by Bill Clinton. But it goes on and on and on - it’s like NAFTA, it’s - when I was listening to the speeches yesterday, it was like they’re promising, they’re running on a promise to reverse all the things that Hillary Clinton did the first time around, or that her husband did, I should say. But the crime bill of 1994, they’re going to, oh, they’re going to reverse mass incarceration - it’s like, well, why didn’t you just not do it in the first place? You know, they’re going to fix the global economy - well, why didn’t you just not fuck it up in the first place, you know? On and on and on, down the list. And you know, the trade deals - we’re going to stop these terrible, these trade deals have been so bad for working people. It’s like, well, why did you sign off on them?
Why do you go to Davos every year? Why is your sitting president, representative of your party, trying to get one passed right now? In the Democratic platform, there’s a big thing about the revolving door, where they’re really against the revolving door — do you know who the secretary of the Treasury is right now? Right now! It’s Jack Lew! Came from Citibank, where he oversaw their hedge fund division. You know? And then he’s in charge of the department that’s bailing out Citibank, because their hedge fund division that he managed dragged them down! This is insane! And he was put there by a Democrat. A Democrat who’s going to come here and give a speech on Thursday. This is - yes, you’re exactly right.
There’s enormous cognitive dissonance for these people, but they wipe it away, like so many - I mean, there are so many examples of this, the way they think about Trump, the way they think about the working class, the way they think about NAFTA. It’s all this guilty stuff, they can’t deal with it, there’s something psychological going on. But this is the biggest. You know, they can’t deal with the legacy of the sitting president and the legacy of Hillary’s own husband. And they can’t talk about it in a straightforward way.
...[T]hings are going to get worse. Four more years of this? So Obama - I voted for Obama with enthusiasm in 2008; I was excited, I thought he was my generation’s Franklin Roosevelt, I thought this was, we’d come to the turning point. And then he continued the policies of the Bush administration on the banks, on a lot of essential issues, and things got, for working people, things have gotten worse and worse and worse. Wages still don’t grow; the share of what we produce here in America is less than, is smaller than it’s ever been before, the labor share, what the economists call the labor share of GDP. Smaller than it’s ever been since World War II. This is under Obama, the most liberal, we’re always told, the most liberal possible president.
Look, of course it’s going to continue with Hillary as president; nothing is going to change. This is going to get worse and worse and worse. You’re going to continue to see the recovery or whatever, all the gains, all the economic gains going into the banking accounts of the top 10 percent or so. The Dow might continue to go up, but who benefits from that? It’s the people at the top, of course. Four years of this, inequality’s going to continue.
That’s always what it comes back to, is that word “inequality.” And that’s going to get worse. The "Appalachification" is going to keep going. And four years from now, you’re going to have another Trump. And a Trump who’s not a fool, a Trump who’s not an imbecile, who’s not a buffoon, who’s not an open racist, is a Trump that can win.
Hell, this Trump might win [laughs] if the Democrats blunder into his hands, which they are presently doing. We’ll talk about that some other time. But a Trump minus all of these sort of features of Trump would actually be successful. Now, you could also have another Bernie in four years, and another Bernie, someone who plays the game slightly differently, could also be successful, although it’s really hard to beat a sitting president from...
Since then, Frank did a gruesomely pessimistic piece for The Guardian Sunday, With Trump Certain to Lose, You Can Forget About a Progressive Clinton. "Come November," he predicts, "Clinton will have won her great victory - not as a champion of working people’s concerns, but as the greatest moderate of them all. And so ends the great populist uprising of our time, fizzling out pathetically in the mud and the bigotry stirred up by a third-rate would-be caudillo named Donald J Trump... Today it looks as though [Thomas Friedman's] elites are taking matters well in hand. 'Jobs' don't really matter now in this election, nor does the debacle of 'globalization,' nor does anything else, really. Thanks to this imbecile Trump, all such issues have been momentarily swept off the table while Americans come together around Clinton, the wife of the man who envisaged the Davos dream in the first place."
As leading Republicans desert the sinking ship of Trump's GOP, America's two-party system itself has temporarily become a one-party system. And within that one party, the political process bears a striking resemblance to dynastic succession. Party office-holders selected Clinton as their candidate long ago, apparently determined to elevate her despite every possible objection, every potential legal problem. The Democratic National Committee helped out, too, as WikiLeaks tells us. So did President Barack Obama, that former paladin for openness, who in the past several years did nearly everything in his power to suppress challenges to Clinton and thus ensure she would continue his legacy of tepid, bank-friendly neoliberalism.
My leftist friends persuaded themselves that this stuff didn't really matter, that Clinton's many concessions to Sanders' supporters were permanent concessions. But with the convention over and the struggle with Sanders behind her, headlines show Clinton triangulating to the right, scooping up the dollars and the endorsement, and the elites shaken loose in the great Republican wreck.
She is reaching out to the foreign policy establishment and the neocons. She is reaching out to Republican office-holders. She is reaching out to Silicon Valley. And, of course, she is reaching out to Wall Street. In her big speech in Michigan on Thursday she cast herself as the candidate who could bring bickering groups together and win policy victories through really comprehensive convenings.
Things will change between now and November, of course. But what seems most plausible from the current standpoint is a landslide for Clinton, and with it the triumph of complacent neoliberal orthodoxy. She will have won her great victory, not as a champion of working people's concerns, but as the greatest moderate of them all, as the leader of a stately campaign of sanity and national unity. The populist challenge of the past eight years, whether led by Trump or by Sanders, will have been beaten back resoundingly. Centrism will reign triumphant over the Democratic party for years to come. This will be her great accomplishment. The bells will ring all over Washington DC.
... My friends and I like to wonder about who will be the "next Bernie Sanders", but what I am suggesting here is that whoever emerges to lead the populist left will simply be depicted as the next Trump. The billionaire's scowling country-club face will become the image of populist reform, whether genuine populists had anything to do with him or not. This is the real potential disaster of 2016: That legitimate economic discontent is going to be dismissed as bigotry and xenophobia for years to come.
Maybe you saw the Gallup poll released a couple weeks ago measuring the country's complete lack of enthusiasm for Clinton's completely mediocre corporate Dem running mate. He's even more of a snooze for most Americans than the dull - dull and actively evil - Pence.
. . . A Berniecrat who, like most, has gone over to the Hillary Brigade, Robert Reich, wrote on his Facebook page that Hillary is going to need Bernie's revolution. He naively assumes she wants to get some progressive stuff done when she ascends to the White House and claims she'll never revolutionists to help. Jesus! She's not going to flip the House and the Senate, which will be miserably led by self-serving Wall Street suck-up Chuck Schumer, will not be close to filibuster-proof... and worse.
She's unlikely to have a typical presidential honeymoon because she won’t be riding a wave of hope and enthusiasm that typically accompanies a new president into office. She’s already more distrusted by the public than any major candidate in recent history. On Election Day many Americans will be choosing which candidate they loathe the least.
At 2:00 AM, said... I assume you will write more, a lot more, about "Brand New Congress, an ambitious effort to run at least 400 progressive candidates for Congress in 2018."
Ah, Clinton, like the reemergence of a venereal disease.
"Moderate" and "centrist" are code words for the political ideology that serves the corporate person first and which admonishes human citizens to "humor the terminally greedy for their detritus shall sustain you."
If I hadn't already de-registered as a "Democrat" this article would certainly have been the reminder to do so.
At 11:02 AM, said...
So we will likely have the most despised Democratic President going into the 2020 redistricting election. Obama and his team completely dropped the 2010 redistricting elections and assured that he would never have a Democratic House again. Now it looks like the Democrats will again go into a redistricting election without anything positive to run on or even any policies that promise a better future.
I no longer consider myself a Democrat and these sorts of miscalculations and the horrid neoliberal policies are the reason why.
Life must seem pretty sweet for the D.C. Dims after all the election hoorah.
For now, Bonnie Raitt speaks for almost all of the rest of us.
At least 99%.
16 August 16
t’s not often a single stanza can sum up a whole political system. But those words from Bonnie Raitt ring truer every day as this pathetic “selection” season lurches ever deeper into astounding ugliness.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _As evidenced by her new album, "Dig in Deep," and her current concert tour, the opposite is true of Ms. Raitt, whose astonishing talent and endless heart just keep growing.
You got a way of running your mouth
You rant and rave, you left it all out
The thing about it is, little that you say is true
Why bother checkin', the facts'll be damned
It's how you spin it, it's part of the plan
I'm here to tell you that your sicken loan is coming due
Only so long you can keep this charade
Before they wake up and see they've been played
Too many people with their livin' at stake
Ain't gonna take it
The comin' round is going through
The comin' round is going through
You say it's workin', it's tricklin' down
Yeah, there's a trick, cause the jobs ain't around
From where you're sittin'
Tell me how you think you possibly know?
The way it feels to get turned away
Never enough, it's day after day
Yank that by your bootstraps
Cause that's the way it really goes
Only so long you can keep this charade
Before they wake up and see they've been played
Too many people with their livin' at stake
Ain't gonna take it
The comin' round is going through
The comin' round is going through
Cause when the money's makin' money
It comes down to a few
Got their hands on the throttle and nobody gets through
You can work all your life for a hand that will play
With one role of the dice, it gets swept away
Just look around, things are startin' to slip
You're outta control, and you're losin' your grip
No way to stop it, that river's spillin' over for good
We don't have the answer, we know what it's not
Cause the people will keep pushin' 'til they get a shot
Your money's no good there
We wouldn't cash you a check if we could
From Running Cause I Can't Fly:
“There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle. "That's some catch, that catch-22," he observed. "It's the best there is," Doc Daneeka agreed."
"What happens if the Deep State pursues the usual pathological path of increasing repression? The system it feeds on decays and collapses. Catch-22 (from the 1961 novel set in World War II "Catch-22") has several shades of meaning (bureaucratic absurdity, for example), but at heart it is a self-referential paradox: you must be insane to be excused from flying your mission, but requesting to be excused by reason of insanity proves you're sane.
(Click image to enlarge.)The Deep State in virtually every major nation-state is facing a form of Catch-22: the Deep State needs the nation-state to feed on and support its power, and the nation-state requires stability above all else to survive the vagaries of history.
The only possible output of extreme wealth inequality is social and economic instability. The financial elites of the Deep State (and of the nation-state that the Deep State rules) generate wealth inequality and thus instability by their very existence, i.e. the very concentration of wealth and power that defines the elite. So the only way to insure stability is to dissipate the concentrated wealth and power of the financial Deep State. This is the Deep State's Catch-22.
What happens when extremes of wealth/power inequality have been reached? Depressions, revolutions, wars and the dissolution of empires. Extremes of wealth/power inequality generate political, social and economic instability which then destabilize the regime. Ironically, elites try to solve this dilemma by becoming more autocratic and repressing whatever factions they see as the source of instability.
The irony is they themselves are the source of instability. The crowds of enraged citizens are merely manifestations of an unstable, brittle system that is cracking under the strains of extreme wealth/power inequality. Can anyone not in Wall Street, the corporate media, Washington D.C., K Street or the Fed look at this chart and not see profound political disunity on the horizon?
Many consider it "impossible" that Wall Street could possibly lose its political grip on the nation's throat, but I have suggested that Wall Street has over-reached, and is now teetering at the top of the S-Curve, i.e. it has reached Peak Wall Street. Consider what the extremes of Wall Street/Federal Reserve predation, parasitism, avarice and power have done to the nation, and then ask if other factions within the Deep State are blind to the destructive consequences.
. . . Debt has been the temporary savior of Deep States everywhere. Borrowing money from future earnings and future taxpayers has worked for seven long years, but it's unlikely to last another seven. You can borrow money for a time to fund super-welfare for all (elites and debt-serfs alike) but you can't make energy or food cheap again or regenerate social mobility or dissipate rising wealth/power inequality."
Read the entire essay here.
“Elections aren’t about finalities, they’re about processes. They may be about departures. Case in point, the 2016 presidential contests, which feature Hillary and The Donald. If Trump wins, the process of the November election might start a departure in more than politics. It could be historic. It won’t be good, however, for the global elites inhabiting New York, DC, Boston, and San Francisco- or wherever else ivory towers, mahogany-paneled offices, pricey secured buildings, and gated communities are found. Trump’s election would have reverberations overseas, too, in London, Paris, Berlin - yes, wherever else ivory towers, et al, are found.
A Hillary victory means there won’t be a departure; merely a doubling-down by the elite, as they act with renewed zest to secure their interests - versus the national welfare. The Great Imposition - a war waged on average Americans - will continue with awful consequences.
Impose and divide – divide to conquer. Blacks against whites. (That’s more Milwaukees.) Hispanics against Anglos. (That’s more illegals and all legalized). Poor against rich. (Lots more free sh*t.) Takers versus producers. (Lots more free sh*t.) Marginalize the working class. (Further cede manufacturing to the Chinese; shut down coal and domestic energy production, generally.) Demean the middle classes. (Who knuckle-drag their bibles, guns, and backwater values through life.)
The worldview among many of our elite is anti-nation - dare we say - anti-American, anti-law and order, anti-tradition, anti-faith (with exceptions carved out for Islam), anti-durable values and enduring truths, like marriage between a man and woman, and family, as defined by a man, woman, and children. The elite, so very cosmopolitan, have evolved past antique beliefs and ways.
The dangers are domestic and foreign. President Hillary and anti-nation elites would continue failed policies toward Islamic militants and insurgencies. They’d serve up more perverse rationalizations for why Islam doesn’t animate jihadists. More dangers in the offing with rogue nations Iran and North Korea. Mounting danger in Asia, with China, where the PRC is boldly militarizing the South China Sea.
All pose existential threats, to one degree or another. To the elite? Obstacles to the world they’ve created for themselves. Perhaps to be solved with appeasements, like tribute (it worked for the Romans - for a while). Ransoms (monetary and otherwise). Accommodations. Retreats. Misdirection and outright lies.
. . . Ms. Merkel had put the entire burden of a huge cultural change not on herself and those like her but on regular people who live closer to the edge, who do not have the resources to meet the burden, who have no particular protection or money or connections. Ms. Merkel, her cabinet and government, the media and cultural apparatus that lauded her decision were not in the least affected by it and likely never would be.
Nothing in their lives will get worse. The challenge of integrating different cultures, negotiating daily tensions, dealing with crime and extremism and fearfulness on the street-that was put on those with comparatively little, whom I’ve called the unprotected.
The powerful show no particular sign of worrying about any of this. When the working and middle class pushed back in shocked indignation, the people on top called them “xenophobic,” “narrow-minded,” “racist.” The detached, who made the decisions and bore none of the costs, got to be called “humanist,” “compassionate,” and “hero of human rights.”
So, too, on these shores, our elite aim to imitate Merkel, from Obama, who aids and abets illegals, and who’s pushing the import of Syrians, to Paul Ryan (an elitist on the spectrum), who speaks of compassion and fairness toward illegals and Muslim refugees. Never mind they’ll be no costs attendant to the speaker. But Ryan isn’t merely being abstract. His favoring amnesty serves cheap-labor business interests at the expense of struggling citizens.