Agrégateur de flux

He's Right. Yanis Varoufakis on Why Liberal Democracy Must Jettison Neoliberalism.

The Disaffected Lib - dim, 01/22/2017 - 13:53

He's the most interesting fellow that the Greek Syriza movement produced, its former finance minister until his resignation in July, 2015.

Now, Yanis Varoufakis is warning of two insurgencies underway.

A clash of two insurgencies is now shaping the west. Progressives on both sides of the Atlantic are on the sidelines, unable to comprehend what they are observing. Donald Trump’s inauguration marks its pinnacle.

One of the two insurgencies shaping our world today has been analysed ad nauseum. Donald Trump, Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen and the broad Nationalist International that they are loosely connected to have received much attention, as has their success at impressing upon the multitudes that nation-states, borders, citizens and communities matter.

However, the other insurgency that caused the rise of this Nationalist International has remained in the shadows: an insurrection by the global establishment’s technocracy whose purpose is to retain control at all cost. (See here and here) Project Fear in the UK, the troika in continental Europe and the unholy alliance of Wall Street, Silicon Valley and the surveillance apparatus in the United States are its manifestations.

The era of neoliberalism ended in the autumn of 2008 with the bonfire of financialisation’s illusions. The fetishisation of unfettered markets that Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan brought to the fore in the late 1970s had been the necessary ideological cover for the unleashing of financiers to enable the capital flows essential to a new phase of globalisation in which the United States deficits provided the aggregate demand for the world’s factories (whose profits flowed back to Wall Street closing the loop nicely).

Thatcher’s and Reagan’s neoliberalism had sought to persuade that privatisation of everything would produce a fair and efficient society unimpeded by vested interests or bureaucratic fiat. That narrative, of course, hid from public view what was really happening: a tremendous buildup of super-state bureaucracies, unaccountable supra-state institutions (World Trade Organisation, Nafta, the European Central Bank), behemoth corporations, and a global financial sector heading for the rocks.

After the events of 2008 something remarkable happened. For the first time in modern times the establishment no longer cared to persuade the masses that its way was socially optimal. Overwhelmed by the collapsing financial pyramids, the inexorable buildup of unsustainable debt, a eurozone in an advanced state of disintegration and a China increasingly relying on an impossible credit boom, the establishment’s functionaries set aside the aspiration to persuade or to represent. Instead, they concentrated on clamping down.

The only weapon we have to defend liberal democracy against the nationalist and technocratic insurgencies is a restoration of progressivism, progressive democracy.

It was against this insurgency of a cornered establishment that had given up on persuasion that Donald Trump and his European allies rose up with their own populist insurgency. They proved that it is possible to go against the establishment and win. Alas, theirs will be a pyrrhic victory which will, eventually, harm those whom they inspired. The answer to neoliberalism’s Waterloo cannot be the retreat to a barricaded nation-state and the pitting of “our” people against “others” fenced off by tall walls and electrified fences.

The answer can only be a Progressive Internationalism that works in practice on both sides of the Atlantic. To bring it about we need more than fine principles unblemished by power. We need to aim for power on the basis of a pragmatic narrative imparting hope throughout Europe and America for jobs paying living wages to anyone who wants them, for social housing, for health and education.

Only a third insurgency promoting a New Deal that works equally for Americans and Europeans can restore to a billion people living in the west sovereignty over their lives and communities.

Sunday Afternoon Links

accidentaldeliberations - dim, 01/22/2017 - 13:09
This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Bessma Momani writes that Donald Trump's plan to leave the U.S. at the mercy of unregulated financial markets figures to cause another crisis comparable to - or worse than - that of 2008:
Nearly 10 years ago, the U.S. financial industry was exposed as a glorified Ponzi scheme that bundled toxic assets and failing mortgages into seemingly respectable pension plans and investment schemes that were sold across the world. The Obama administration spent its first term, with global support of the G20 and other countries focused on tighter international standards, to introduce regulations that the financial industry bitterly fought but lost. These regulations, loosely known as the Dodd-Frank act in the U.S. Congress, are about to be dismantled, bit by bit.
But it can get worse. In an era of what economists call secular stagnation, where we have a global savings glut, fewer global investment opportunities and low interest rates, global money is also pouring into the United States on expectations of a surge in infrastructure spending, a clampdown on offshore corporate tax havens and the lowering of Dodd-Frank financial regulations.
This is coinciding with global money leaving many emerging market economies that look geopolitically unsettled, such as Turkey, and those rattled by Mr. Trump himself, such as Mexico. With a euro zone that looks shaky in a post-Brexit era and experiencing a rise of nationalists competing in a slew of upcoming elections, ironically, the U.S. still manages to look like the safest investment for the capital industry. Meanwhile Chinese plutocrats are charging Communist Party members with corruption as President Xi Jinping conveniently also consolidates his hunger for centralized power, causing another slow exodus of Chinese wealth.
Here we have the perfect storm brewing of hot money going into the United States in search of higher interest rates and the likely dismantling of financial regulations meant to place a check on speculative bankers and investors. The end result might just be that we return to the same conditions of the mid-2000s, the eve of the international financial crisis. The sky is not yet falling, but the cracks are getting wider and wider and we ought to start listening to Chicken Little on the global economy.- Meanwhile, Mike Palecek reminds us how Canadians could enjoy both improved accessibility and lower costs in banking services with a postal bank - so long as the possibility isn't squelched to preserve profits for private banksters.

- Dani Rodrik examines the sometimes-conflicting pressures in trying to reduce inequality at the level of both countries and individuals within them. And the Sunday Times reports on one practice sure to exacerbate both, as Italy is planning to require immigrants to perform unpaid labour in order to seek asylum.

- Finally, Sean McElwee examines why on abortion (and other issues) widely-shared progressive positions are losing out in the U.S. due to the lack of stronger connections between partisan politics and popular movements.

Trump's New War to Subdue the Press

The Disaffected Lib - dim, 01/22/2017 - 10:27

America's newly minted president or, as Scotian calls him, TrumpleThinSkin, has unleashed some remarkably mangy dogs on the White House press corps. The most parasite riddled of the lot, press secretary, Sean Spicer, and Trump aide, Kellyanne Conway.

Spicer summoned the press to the White House yesterday to attack them for their scandalous coverage of the Trump inauguration. True to the standard set by his commander in chief, he attacked them with lies. He made shit up and then blamed them for it.

Then Trump's Kellyanne Conway defended Spicer, telling NBC's Chuck Todd that the press secretary was simply presenting "alternative facts."

And notice that Conway began with a threat that, if the press is going to do its job and point out deliberate falsehoods, "we're going to have to rethink our relationship."

pupdate, pressure, and poor customer service

we move to canada - dim, 01/22/2017 - 08:00
Diego at the beachThree weeks after losing Tala, Diego became violently ill. The usual home approaches didn't work, but when the trip to the vet didn't work, I was really worried. Seeing this dog -- normally the picture of happiness, with a voracious appetite -- so quiet and sad, and unable to eat, was very scary. He ended up staying at the vet clinic for two nights, on intravenous medications and fluids.

I have been feeling very put-upon. Just before the Christmas holiday, Allan was in a car accident. He wasn't hurt, but the insurance company declared our car a total loss. Then Tala. And then Diego. Service from the insurance company was horrible, adding to the stress, and we needed to buy a car -- fast. All this while I am under a lot of pressure to get both library work and union work wrapped up before our trip. And we need a healthy dog before we leave, too!

This morning we picked up Diego from the clinic, and he is once again his happy self. A huge relief! Our vet strongly suspects inflammatory bowel disease, and is optimistic that a special diet and continuing medication will do the trick. The car saga should end tomorrow, when our friend M@ helps Allan return the rental and pick up our new (to us) car. We're bleeding money, but not for the first time, and undoubtedly not for the last time.

Two notes I wanted to share.

I have been raving about Rollover, the semi-soft dog food that we've been using as training treats. (I mentioned it herehere, and elsewhere.) We've now learned that the high fat content of this food makes it ill-advised for many dogs. Diego has been getting large quantities of this, in place of some of his regular food, for about 20 months. Our vets do not want to guilt us, but I'm sure it contributed to his current issues. If you are using Rollover, please make sure your dog can tolerate a higher-fat diet, and you might want to keep his or her regular food very low fat to balance it out.

The other note is about our insurance carrier, Aviva. Getting in an accident just before the holidays, I realize that service may be slower, and things may take a bit longer to sort out. But that excuse only goes so far. The rep assigned to our claim was unavailable for more than two weeks -- and then appeared only to tell us that we should talk to someone else. But there was no "someone else" -- our information was unavailable to other agents.

Meanwhile, the policy has a cap on the rental of a replacement vehicle. The settlement offer was unreasonably low, and we're about to be out-of-pocket for the rental, because of the agent's incompetence or unavailability. She didn't return phone calls, and when we asked questions by email, she would reply with a five-word "please call me to discuss" -- but would not return our calls. It was very frustrating, and created a lot of extra work and inconvenience for us.

Finally, Allan called the general number, asked to speak to the agent's manager, and left a message saying he was calling to complain. What a surprise, later that day, the rep called us, extended the rental, made a better offer, and mailed a cheque. I realize this may be an aberration, but I'm not so keen to deal with Aviva again.

Donald Trump and the Rise of the Resistance

Montreal Simon - dim, 01/22/2017 - 06:50

It was Donald Trump's first full day in office. He was standing in front of a memorial to dead CIA officers.

He was speaking to members of the intelligence community he had recently called Nazis.

He desperately needed to look presidential after delivering a dark and menacing inauguration speech that had even more people questioning his sanity.

But instead Trump ended up looking and sounding crazier and more dangerous than ever.
Read more »

By His Words

Northern Reflections - dim, 01/22/2017 - 03:25

Andrew Cohen has left Ottawa and moved to Washington, where -- for the time being -- he is a Fulbright Scholar and the Woodrow Wilson Institute. He was, therefore well placed to observe Donald Trump's inauguration and speech -- which, he writes, was an "endless tweet:"

Mr. Trump’s address defines the difference between his America and Mr. Obama’s America. The world according to Donald Trump is gloomy, cold and joyless.
Factories are “rusted-out” and strewn like “tombstones” across the land; schools “deprive” students of knowledge; crime and drugs have “stolen lives and robbed the country;” infrastructure has fallen into “disrepair and decay.”
Mr. Trump’s stentorian statement: “This carnage stops right here and right now.” This will become the signature of his address.
Unsurprisingly, Trump's took no note of the facts:
The reality is different. Crime is falling. Poverty is ebbing. Incomes are rising. Unemployment and inflation are low. Standards of education are rising.
But if you are the captain of chaos, you need calamity. If it does not exist, invent it. President Trump sees a country with an existential problem and makes himself its saviour. The worse things are, the more we need him.
So he is Hercules cleaning out the Augean Stables. Or Huey Long redistributing wealth. Or Andrew Jackson denouncing the “Corrupt Bargain.”
The speech was -- like the man himself -- utterly graceless:
Beyond the sternness, there was little grace. No soothing bromides about sunlit uplands. No salute to Hillary Clinton, who sat a few feet away. No grace notes at all, other than to the Obamas, whom he declared had been “magnificent.”
Intense though the tone, the words were pedestrian. It was a screed less than a speech, an extended, angry, endless tweet, punctuated by emotional exclamation marks.
By his words, ye shall know him. 
Image: RTE

And So It Begins

The Disaffected Lib - sam, 01/21/2017 - 17:27
Trump's press secretary, Sean Spicer, bitchslaps the White House press corps.  Listen to this loon rattle on.

Then again, maybe the inauguration turnout was greater than the press corps understood. Only the crowds weren't all there to welcome their new pres.

Saturday Evening Links

accidentaldeliberations - sam, 01/21/2017 - 15:44
Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Linda McQuaig discusses the hollow promise of "populist" billionaires who ultimately serve only to enrich themselves and their class. And Lana Payne writes about the growing protest movement which culminated in massive rallies around the world this weekend - as well as the causes of its emergence:
Over a million women were expected to march today, Saturday, in more than 600 locations across the globe, including right here at home, for human rights, for equality, for justice and in solidarity for a better world. They march to push back against the rise of sexism and a growing attack on women’s rights, including by U.S. President Donald Trump.

And they march during a time of rising inequality which has a profound impact on women’s share of the economic pie and, in turn, their rights, and their social and political power.
...(T)here is rare global consensus on the dangers of rising inequality. Everyone from the UN, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the World Economic Forum has identified it as a massive problem for the world economy and for societies.

Oxfam notes that, “our economy must stop excessively rewarding those at the top and start working for all people. Accountable and visionary governments, businesses that work in the interests of workers and producers, a valued environment, women’s rights and a strong system of fair taxation, are central to this more human economy.”
This kind of inequality can’t go unchallenged and governments have a role to play. Indeed, a huge role to play. That’s why it’s not helpful when the federal government reneges on a promise to close a gigantic tax loophole for these CEOs costing federal coffers some $750 million in lost revenue every year.

As Stiglitz points out, the only sustainable prosperity is shared prosperity. And there isn’t much sharing going on.

As women march this weekend, they will be demanding that women’s rights, including their economic rights, mean they get a bigger share of that prosperity.

Because as Oxfam notes, gender equality must be at the heart of a human economy “ensuring that both halves of humanity have an equal chance in life and are able to live fulfilled lives.”- Owen Jones sees reason for optimism that the U.S.' activist left will emerge anew  in response to the Trump administration. And Andrew Jackson examines Canada's options in a post-NAFTA world (particularly in the event the U.S. begins closing its borders generally).

- Max FineDay points out that no amount of talk will produce meaningful reconciliation with Canada's First Nations if it isn't accompanied by meaningful opportunities for Indigenous people.

- CBC reports on a shameful example of how the Saskatchewan Party's callous cuts to disability assistance are coming into play due to factors beyond a recipient's control such as being forced out of a rented apartment.

- Finally, Roderick Benns talks to Cheri DiNovo about the role a basic income can play (alongside a more fair balance of power in the workplace) in creating security for workers.

Hmm, One of these Is Not Like the Other.

The Disaffected Lib - sam, 01/21/2017 - 14:24
One photo was taken in 2009. The other in 2017. Can you guess which?

Trump Pledges to Restore American Wealth. I Know Where He Can Find It.

The Disaffected Lib - sam, 01/21/2017 - 12:10

El Presidente Trump has made a vow to restore America's wealth. Of course that's not what he intends to do at all. It's the Big Lie, Day One.

What he actually intends to do is to take a page out of the playbook of Roman emperors and extract "tribute" from other nations. Think of it as a global shakedown. It's the sort of thing that history shows doesn't work out that well for long.

The fact is that he doesn't have to restore America's wealth. It's still right there under his nose. He just has to look for it and, once he finds it, decide what should be done with it.

America's wealth has shifted. It's gone from the Rust Belt. It's been lost by the nation's blue and white collar working classes. It has been moved, quietly shifted. It's a few blocks away from Trump Tower. It has "trickled up" to Wall Street and the 1%.

Big Lie 2, Day One. He says he wants to restore American manufacturing, its former industrial powerhouse. You can't do that where the money sits at the moment.

Manufacturing, even in good times, produces stable but modest returns in the range of a respectable 3 to 4% per annum. Manufacturing revenue is dispersed into many places - wages and salaries, communities, suppliers, all levels of government.

Manufacturing grade revenue is of no interest to Wall Street. There they focus on far greater returns not for making things but for moving paper. And it works in places where the government embraces Taliban-grade laissez faire capitalism which rules out any notion of direct or indirect wealth redistribution. It's the sort of dog eat dog world only in which the really big dogs eat all the little dogs. Lovely.

Trump promises to restore America's manufacturing sector. Can't do that without capital. America has lots of capital but it wants nothing to do with manufacturing. Gotta change that. It's easy enough to do. Tax the rich. Impose punitive taxes on "dead" money that sits idle. Use taxation to redirect that money into investment in preferred targets - employment-intensive industries such as, why of course, manufacturing.

Only that's not going to happen. It's a low-wage world now and Trump is not going to mess with that. He can't risk it. And so he'll continue what he knows his gullibilly base already believes. He'll stay with the xenophobic notion that others, foreigners have stolen American wealth. Trump's addled base love that idea.

We know those outsourced, offshored jobs aren't coming back. It's cheaper to build robotic factories that don't need those redundant American workers and their First World wage scales.

Trump isn't out for restoration. Kim Jong Don's game is extortion and a great many, grievance-fueled Americans are all for that.

Tuning Up the Proles

The Disaffected Lib - sam, 01/21/2017 - 11:56

You can't have a totalitarian state without a suitably "tuned up" population. North Korea is a perfect example.  Germany or Italy in the 30s were fine examples. The Soviet Union, ditto.

Today it's America's turn. A segment of the American population, a sufficient fraction, has been conditioned to accept utter nonsense, the stuff their new president force fed them and they so willingly swallowed. Many of them don't care that it's shit, it's an acquired taste.

But what about the shining city on the hill that Reagan spoke of,  American democracy? Matthew 5:14 -  "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden." Well, that's pretty much over, for the near future anyway.

Trump left no doubt yesterday that, from here on in, it's Amerika Uber Alles. I've been criticized for saying as much in recent months but, this time, I wasn't the one saying that. That came straight from the mouth of the first Amerikan  president. You don't like it, take it up with him.

American essayist, Marilynne Robinson, wrote in The Guardian:

We have inaugurated a president whose mental life is a thing of television ratings, beauty pageants and egoistical make-believe, who threatens and gloats and holds grudges and wants everyone to know it, whose impulses are alarming and alarmingly incoherent. He lacks the kind of knowledge of history and civic life and decent manners most adults have acquired by paying at least glancing attention.

Populism isn't a means to serve a nation's people. It's a vehicle to control them and to suppress those who see through it and dare to dissent.
Trump's inaugural speech utterly ignored the fact that a majority of the voting public supported his opponent. It ignored the fact that his inaugural approval rating was the lowest by an order of magnitude in the history of inaugural polling. It was the speech of a man who considers his power absolute, who will treat his nation as he alone sees fit. It was the speech of a thug, a despot.
The headlines for the Washington Post's "most read" list -
- A Most Dreadful Inaugural Address- Is This What We've Come To, America?- Donald Trump Has Assembled the Worst Cabinet In American History- Donald Trump's Inauguration Was a Gothic Nightmare- Trump's Inaugural Speech Was Strikingly Radical
Hmm, I wonder what that's all about. Oh yeah, it's about Amerika's new leader, its commander in chief. Perhaps he's not even a president for that implies an acceptance of constitutional restraint and basic human decency. High moral attributes hold no currency for this serial sexual deviant.
I didn't watch the inauguration, not a minute of it. What I know of it is what I've read, the written record of Trump's tirade. 
Tomorrow I'll make a point to catch Fareed Zakaria's 360 programme on CNN. India-borne Zakaria, a practising Muslim, educated at Harvard and Yale, has been the keenest observer of the rise of illiberal democracy around the world and, in particular, within the United States.
Twenty years ago, in the November/December issue of Foreign Affairs, Zakaria foretold America's descent into illiberal democracy. He's been warning about it ever since and, now, it has become America's governmental default operating system.
The American diplomat Richard Holbrooke pondered a problem on the eve of the September 1996 elections in Bosnia, which were meant to restore civic life to that ravaged country. "Suppose the election was declared free and fair," he said, and those elected are "racists, fascists, separatists, who are publicly opposed to [peace and reintegration]. That is the dilemma.

My, my, my.
It's impossible to know, in particulars, what lies ahead as Trump ploughs through the global china shop but we know we're all in for a wild and periodically dangerous ride. The era of the Big Lie has descended on Washington and most Americans will either support it or look the other way. They've been well and truly tuned up for this day.

What was that line? Something about Ein Reich, Ein Volk, Ein... something or other.

Empire of the Pig, Day Two: Make them Squeal!

Rusty Idols - sam, 01/21/2017 - 11:52


In every article about white nationalists or the 'Alt right', two terms designed specifically to obscure the much simpler word Nazi, you see the word 'emboldened'.

The rise of Trump has 'emboldened' the Alt Right, White Nationalists feel 'emboldened' by his victory.

They shouldn't.

Still love Open Carry right wingers?They should feel frightened.  They should feel hunted. They should feel exposed.

They shouldn't be able to go anywhere without anxiously looking over their shoulders.

They should feel like there is no safe place to promote their sick pathology of race hatred, fascism and bile.

They should feel that way because there isn't.

Nazism is the ideology of murderous gangsters.  You don't give murderous gangsters a platform to argue the merits of murder and gangsterism, you treat them as the threat they are.

"Oh but we shouldn't sink to their level!  We should protect their free speech rights and treat them with respect."

You aren't on a safely anonymous Stormfront forum right now.

They sneer at gullible liberals, trying to treat them as just other legitimate actors in a democratic marketplace of ideas.  Their own response to opponents and critics anywhere the scum has risen to the top and claimed power is murder and savage repression, death squads and gas chambers.  The fact that they've got publicists and image makeovers and sexy new names like 'Alt Right' doesn't change what they are.

They are the enemy of the whole human race and should be treated as such.


Another Perspective: A Guest Post By Pamela MacNeil

Politics and its Discontents - sam, 01/21/2017 - 06:39

I received two very thoughtful reactions to my post the other day on the decision of the Gay Pride organizers to accede to the demand by Black Lives Matter to exclude the Toronto Police from future participation in the festivities. It is not a decision I agree with, as I outlined in the post.

Both Kirby Evans, one of our top-shelf bloggers, and Pamela MacNeil took issue with my position, and both provided me with alternative perspectives and much food for thought. Because Pamela does not have her own blog, I am taking the liberty, as I have in the past, of featuring her commentary today as a guest post. I think you will find it insightful:

Kirby brings up a really interesting point Lorne that white people like yourself and me have never been victims of racism, so we really can't understand how it affects those who are its victims.

This is an issue I have given a lot of thought to, but have not yet been able to fully answer. I do not really understand racism. I understand it intellectually and even at times emotionally, but I do not understand it as a personal experience.

This leaves me on the outside looking in when wanting to understand racism and those who are its victims. No matter how much I read, and I have read a lot on racism, including slavery, there is a part of me that feels out of the loop when I try to connect with the real victims of racism.

I asked a friend of mine over dinner one night what is it like to be a black man. He said to picture a world where everyday you are confronted mainly from whites, with the nuances of racism. He said this nuance can be from a look, a stereotype statement made about being black, a gesture like a woman holding her purse tighter when she passes a black man. He went on to say that because racism is not explicitly vocalized today, black men and woman have become experts at detecting nuanced racism.

He also said he is not sure about how the racism directed at him as a black man has affected his view of himself. He said he would like to think that it is he himself who defines his self-worth, but he wasn't completely sure that was the case.

I think, Lorne, we are living in a pre-civilization. The fact that racism is still a view that one race of people impose on another is indicative of humankind, for the most part, not intellectually, socially, psychologically, philosophically or spiritually advancing and becoming a civilization. We still have a long way to go.

Having said all that, I disagree with the gay community excluding the police at the behest of Black Lives Matter. I think when you isolate a group, you close the door on being able to communicate with them and communicating is the number one tool for change.

First Nations who have been subjected to past genocidal abuse and racism, which exists up to the present day, have always believed in inclusion. In fact, John Ralston Saul has said the root idea of our multicultural society comes from the First Nations belief in the Inclusive circle.

Inclusion is an important part of First Nations philosophy, and they have always practised it amongst different tribes to stop the warring between these tribes. They also welcomed the new settlers to Canada before confederation. They did this by welcoming these settlers into what they called the inclusive circle. They are still doing this inclusive circle with others in the present day.

It has and still does take enormous strength and courage to be inclusive with the very people who set out to obliterate or, at the very least, contain them. In the First Nations long road to reconciliation, they have understood the need for inclusion, even when the extent of abuse by white people, who were nothing short of barbarians, was at its most violent. It was the whites who tried to separate and isolate First Nations. It was First Nations who brought those same whites into their inclusive circle and as a result made reconciliation possible. There is still a long way to go in recognizing the sovereign rights of First Nations and maybe, just maybe, we will be sharing political power with them one day.Recommend this Post

Ugly America

Northern Reflections - sam, 01/21/2017 - 06:22
The inauguration is over. And what did it tell us? Not much that we didn't already know. One Note Donald gave the same speech he gave at the Republican convention and throughout the whole campaign. Michael Harris writes:

The Trump message? America is surrounded on all sides by threats. Mexican rapists, Muslim immigrants, slick Canadian trade negotiators, wily Chinese currency manipulators, corrupt Wall Street brokers, scumbag journalists and, of course, Crooked Hillary. And did I mention the CIA?

Only Super Donald could save the day.

For one thing, he knifed not only the political opposition, but his own party with startling regularity. Berate, belittle and behead — a modus operandi good enough to win him the Republican nomination for president, and then the presidency itself.
And, while he was fulminating, protesters were in the streets, breaking windows and burning cars. And they will be back in the streets today, in even greater numbers. Get used to it. In the Trump Era, protest will be the new normal.

Not since the days of the Vietnam War has the nation been so divided. Only now, the United States is at war with itself.

Trump's message yesterday was clear and direct: The Ugly American is back. And Ugly America is slithering behind him.

Image: Reuters

Donald Trump and the Inauguration From Hell

Montreal Simon - sam, 01/21/2017 - 04:42

It was Donald Trump's big chance to act like a real president, reach out to his defeated opponents, and try to bring his divided nation together.

But he just couldn't do it. He blew it.

Instead of trying to embrace the Americans who didn't vote for him, he clenched his tiny fingers together and gave them the fist.
Read more »

Musical interlude

accidentaldeliberations - ven, 01/20/2017 - 16:20
Illenium feat. Joni Fatora - Fortress (Seven Lions Roots Mix)

Trudeau Has Dug a Grave for the Paris Climate Accord. Thanks, Justin.

The Disaffected Lib - ven, 01/20/2017 - 10:08

Trudeau has put paid to any notion of restraining global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The Tyee's Andrew Nikiforuk writes that a new study by Oil Change International shines a hard light on Trudeau's approval of new pipelines, the key to Tar Sands expansion. This prime minister has single-handedly put the Paris targets out of reach.

Canada can’t increase tar sands production or build more pipelines if the world is to achieve the targets on global carbon emissions set by the Paris Agreement on climate.

That’s the central conclusion of a new report by Oil Change International(OCI), a U.S. research and advocacy group dedicated to exposing the full costs of fossil fuel extraction.

“There is no scenario in which tar sands production increases and the world achieves the Paris goals,” says the report.

The majority of Canada’s oil exports consist of raw bitumen, a cheap refinery feedstock, which is then upgraded at U.S. refineries for local consumption or export.

“Eighty per cent of the climate impact of tar sands oil,” says the report, “comes from releasing carbon wherever the fuel is burned — thus the most important impact of tar sands expansion is global.”

But the unrestricted approval of pipeline projects such as Trans Mountain and Line 3 could drive the expansion of bitumen production by nearly two million barrels a day over the next two decades, says the report. Current oil sands production is 2.5 million barrels a day and accounts for 60 per cent of Canada’s oil production.

That means that Canada could be adding more new oil production to global markets than Brazil and Libya combined.

As a result, emissions from Canadian oil could eventually gobble up 16 per cent of the world’s total carbon budget if it is to keep global temperature increases below 1.5 degree Celsius, or seven per cent of the two degree Celsius global carbon budget, the report found.

“Without action, Canada could become one of the fastest growing extractors of new carbon pollution over the next 20 years through the expansion of long-lived tar sands production,” adds the report.

It's been awhile since I placed much stock in anything Trudeau promises. We heard enough of his empty promises out here to know that much. However he did pledge that his government would be guided by science. The government has a raft of capable scientists on its payroll. Presumably Trudeau must have sought their scientific assessment of the Trans Canada and Energy East pipeline impacts on global warming and climate change. Why doesn't he show us that professional advice that he must have sought? I'm guessing that's not in the cards.

Figures Don't Lie But Liars Figure

The Disaffected Lib - ven, 01/20/2017 - 09:54

As of today it's best you remember that phrase and keep it in mind. You'll find that, over the next four years, you may need it daily.

Around the time of the Carter presidency, pollsters began logging incoming presidents' popularity numbers. How does the citizenry perceive their new boss when he takes up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?

Even George "hanging chad" Bush showed up for work with a 61% rating. Obama had a powerful 84%. Some polls have the Great Orange Bloat at a record 32% approval rating. This is before he puts presidential pen to paper.

Here's the thing. That "fresh out of the box" popularity wanes pretty quickly. The honeymoon period passes. The bloom is off the rose.

Presidents do as much as possible to preserve that opening day popularity but they don't succeed. How hard is Trump going to have to work to shore up his 32%?

This is not to say that Trump doesn't have loyal followers. Of course he does. They were the tailgate barbeque and beer gang that were foolish enough to believe his magical promises. Hillary was heading to jail. A 30 foot wall would spring up stretching from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico. Factories just full of $30 an hour jobs would spring up everywhere. And the swamp - that swamp - well that was in for a draining. They're why I coined the term "gullibillies."

There was a study done recently that found a significant percentage of Trump supporters want Obamacare gone. However they don't want the axe to fall on their Affordable Care Act privileges. Somehow, it never reached the depths of their minds, that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is Obamacare.

The original Republican idea was to replace Obamacare with something "better." The public would simply transition from Plan A to Plan B. Trump, however, wants Obamacare rescinded, 20 million Americans denied health insurance, and then, if they're in the mood, the Republican Congress can maybe come up with something to replace it, provided the new president approves.

20 million. Those are the sort of numbers that guarantee mayhem and horror stories and there'll be plenty of front page space for that.

The coal mines? Oh yeah. Let's see how Trump gets that going again without massive government handouts.

Unlike any president before him, there'll be no honeymoon for Mr. Trump. No, he's starting off with his numbers in the crapper and he lacks anything approaching a coherent policy to guide his administration and his nation.

As Richard Wolffe writes, the future doesn't look rosy for Trump.

[Poll numbers] are the white blood cells of the circulatory system that flows through Washington. Good poll numbers can inoculate a president when Congress opposes him. Bad numbers reveal a president vulnerable to outside attacks and embolden his many rivals both inside and outside his own party.

Those numbers are about to get a lot worse. In his first year in office, Obama lost more than 15 points on his job approval. If Trump follows the same track, he will be polling in the mid-20s by this time next year. To put that into context, Richard Nixon’s job approval on the day he quit the Oval Office was 24%.

And no Mr President, these aren’t rigged polls.

The polls just reflect what people think of you, and they all rate you poorly both on a personal and professional basis. Here’s what’s rigged: an election you can win after losing the popular vote by more than 2 oints, as the polls correctly forecast. 

What could drive Trump’s poll numbers so low? Unlike Obama, who inherited the worst economy in two generations, the incoming president cannot blame external forces. The greatest threat, both to his presidency and the republic, comes from Trump himself.

Wolffe offers a catalogue of the scandals that are moving into the White House today with its new resident. The Great Orange Bloat hasn't been able to break free of them. No, not the Christopher Steele "dossier." This isn't about hookers taking a pee break in fancy Moscow hotel rooms. This is about the other scandals. A couple involve the Kremlin to be sure. Others involve the apparent corruption and manipulation of the US government's most trusted agencies, the FBI and possibly the CIA. Couple that with a new president beginning his term with one foot in the political grave, weak beyond belief, and you've got the formula for an exciting first term.
Such is life when a minority of voters and a majority of the Electoral College hand the brass ring to a narcissistic deviant with significant psychological problems.

Empire of the Pig: America Uber Alles!

Rusty Idols - ven, 01/20/2017 - 09:39
Trump uses an explicitly Bundist slogan from the movement opposing the fight against Hitler:

(CNN)"My foreign policy will always put the interests of the American people, and American security, above all else. That will be the foundation of every decision that I will make. America First will be the major and overriding theme of my administration."
It is extremely unfortunate that in his speech Wednesday outlining his foreign policy goals,Donald Trump chose to brand his foreign policy with the noxious slogan "America First," the name of the isolationist, defeatist, anti-Semitic national organization that urged the United States to appease Adolf Hitler.sdnxry5z7g

Empire of the Pig: Day One, Overture

Rusty Idols - ven, 01/20/2017 - 07:45
We can't count on liberals and their cherished institutions or standard of decorum and responsible governance they keep hoping against hope the Republicans will come back to embracing.But of course, the whole post war amity between Republicans and Democrats was based on shared assumptions about liberal democracy and the need to give the American people a real stake in their nation's success. Plus a real and disturbingly successful looking - at the time - alternative model from an enemy they felt they had to compete with in wealth expansion and social welfare.The fight against fascism rubbed their noses in the dangers of both ethnonationalism and extreme economic equality. To greater and lesser degrees both parties agreed with an activist state and yes, wealth redistribution. That and an explicit recognition of the value of trade unionism and loosening of the legal blockades to workers organizing created the single biggest expansion of wealth and health in human history. It was an activist state and unionized workers that created the middle class.As World War II recedes from living memory the global right slinks back to ethnic scapegoating and gilded age style robber baron exploitation like a dog returning to its vomit.There's no common ground, no basis for cooperation or trust in institutions to protect the shredded post war consensus.The Republican party and the global ethnonationalist right is the enemy of the whole human race and should be treated as such.sdnxry5z7g


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