See the warnings about Trump’s infrastructure plan. It’s betraying populism.

Summary: US stocks have risen since the election on expectations that Trump will bring massive debt-financed infrastructure spending and tax cuts for the rich (with droplets for everyone else). As we learned from the Reagan and Bush Jr. programs, we should beware the details. These articles warn what to expect, giving us time to fight back.

Donald Trump digging

Donald Trump breaking ground for new hotel in Washington, 23 July 2014. Photo: Evan Vucci, STF/AP.

“Like [Andrew] Jackson’s populism, we’re going to build an entirely new political movement,” he says. “It’s everything related to jobs. The conservatives are going to go crazy. I’m the guy pushing a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan. With negative interest rates throughout the world, it’s the greatest opportunity to rebuild everything. Ship yards, iron works, get them all jacked up. We’re just going to throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks. It will be as exciting as the 1930s, greater than the Reagan revolution — conservatives, plus populists, in an economic nationalist movement.”
— Steve Bannon, Trump’s Chief Strategist, in The Hollywood Reporter.

This massive infrastructure plan sounds alluring, like debt-funded tax cuts. Ronald A. Klain warns us about the probably results: “Trump’s big infrastructure plan? It’s a trap.” To understand why, see the details in “Trump Versus Clinton On Infrastructure” by Peter Navarro (prof of economics and public policy at UC-Irwin) and Wilbur Ross (billionaire LBO entrepreneur) — both senior advisors to Trump. Paul Krugman gives the summary (read it in full).

Trumpists are touting the idea of a big infrastructure build, and some Democrats are making conciliatory noises about working with the new regime on that front. But remember who you’re dealing with: if you invest anything with this guy, be it money or reputation, you are at great risk of being scammed. So, what do we know about the Trump infrastructure plan, such as it is?

“Crucially, it’s not a plan to borrow $1 trillion and spend it on much-needed projects — which would be the straightforward, obvious thing to do. It is, instead, supposed to involve having private investors do the work both of raising money and building the projects — with the aid of a huge tax credit that gives them back 82 percent of the equity they put in. To compensate for the small sliver of additional equity and the interest on their borrowing, the private investors then have to somehow make profits on the assets they end up owning.

“You should immediately ask three questions about all of this. … All of these questions could be avoided by doing things the straightforward way: if you think we should build more infrastructure, then build more infrastructure, and never mind the complicated private equity/tax credits stuff. You could try to come up with some justification for the complexity of the scheme, but one simple answer would be that it’s not about investment, it’s about ripping off taxpayers.

We have recent experience with this strip-mining of the public for private gain: the privatization of education, including the student loan business. Rana Foroohar reviews seven new books about this at the New York Review of Books.

“When the financial industry — banks, hedge funds, loan companies, private equity — gets too involved in any particular activity of the economy or society, it’s usually time to worry. The financial sector, which represents a mere 4% of jobs in this country but takes a quarter of all private sector profits, is like the proverbial Las Vegas casino — it always wins, and usually leaves a trail of losers behind.

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Stratfor Explains How Trump’s Victory Galvanizes Kindred Spirits in Europe

Summary: Ripples of Trump’s win rock the boats of politicians around the world. Europe’s politics were already unsettled, with the far-right profiting from the mainstream parties’ obsession – flooding Europe with immigrants, despite their people’s objections.


How Trump’s Victory Will Galvanize Kindred Spirits in Europe
Stratfor, 13 November 2016.

Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election was cause for celebration among Europe’s largest anti-establishment political forces. Party leaders from France’s National Front, Italy’s Five Star Movement and the Netherlands’ Party of Freedom offered congratulations to the president-elect, thrilled by his demonstration that the political and media establishment can be thwarted. Like Trump, they hope to ride the wave of anti-establishment fervor building on both sides of the Atlantic to power in 2017, when some of the European Union’s biggest economies will hold national elections.

To a great extent, Trump’s victory and the success of the United Kingdom’s referendum to leave the European Union are the result of the same trend. Emerging political forces in the United States and Europe blame globalization for the loss of jobs and present immigration as a threat to national identity and security. Their message resonates with people who do not see a benefit in free trade or flexible migration and who feel as if traditional parties do not understand their plight. Mainstream media outlets and opinion polls largely underestimated that segment of the electorate in the runup to both the U.S. election and the Brexit referendum. That they failed to foresee Trump’s victory or that of the “leave” camp demonstrates the extent to which these emerging social and political trends have been minimized, disregarded or misunderstood.

The same political upheaval could manifest again over the course of Europe’s busy 2017 electoral season. In March, the Netherlands — a prominent economic and political power in Northern Europe — will hold general elections. (Italy could join them if constitutional reforms fail in a December referendum, triggering early elections.) France, which boasts the Continent’s second-largest economy, will hold presidential votes in April and May, followed by legislative elections in June. Toward the end of the year, the European Union’s greatest political and economic force, Germany, will hold general elections in October.

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The Internet of Things attacks. If we don’t do better, we will get hurt.

Summary: While America chattered about the soundbites and lies, one of the largest cyberattacks in history took place. Cybersecurity expert Emilio Iasiello discusses what happened and what it means. As so often happens, the big stories often get lost amidst the flotsam and jetsam of the news.

Watch the evolution of a historic attack on the United States…

The Internet of Things attacks. When Will We Learn?

By Emilio Iasiello.
Posted at Cyber DB, the Cyber Research Databank.
7 November 2016. Posted with his gracious permission.

In late September and late October 2016 two massive distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks successfully targeted and impacted the operations of their targets. In the October DDoS against Dyn, a cloud-based Internet Performance Management company, several high profile organizational websites (Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit, GitHub, Etsy, Tumblr, Spotify, PayPal, Verizon, Comcast, to name a few ) for a substantial part of the day {details here}. While Dyn was ultimately able to mitigate the three-wave attack, it did impact users’ abilities to access these sites.

In both instances, attackers took advantage of generally insecure Internet of Things (IoT) devices and harnessed the volume to create large botnets able to launch substantial DDoS attacks. These are not the only two instances in which enterprising criminals sought to leverage IoT in fulfillment of their activities. Both in September and June 2016, IoT devices such as home routers and closed circuit television cameras were used to proliferate the attacks. This is very disconcerting given the fact that IoT as an industry is becoming a foregone conclusion and that more and more of these devices are being produced, marketed, and injected into our daily existences. Unsurprisingly, this is a market expected to continue to grow and is frequently cited as a top trend according to some sources.

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Why You Can’t Get Your Day in Court (it’s a New America)

Summary: America’s courts have decayed to a feudal-like system of High, Middle, and Low justice for the rich, middle class, and poor. Federal Judge Jed Radoff discusses this how courts work in this New America. It an example of the Republic’s decreasingly ability to serve us. During the next four years the Republican Party will work to make US courts work even less for us and even more for the 1%.


Why You Won’t Get Your Day in Court

By Jed S. Rakoff, District Judge
for the Southern District of NY.

New York Review of Books,
24 November 2016.
Posted with the judge’s generous permission.


Over the past few decades, ordinary US citizens have increasingly been denied effective access to their courts. There are many reasons for this. One is the ever greater cost of hiring a lawyer. A second factor is the increased expense, apart from legal fees, that a litigant must pay to pursue a lawsuit to conclusion. A third factor is increased unwillingness of lawyers to take a case on a contingent-fee basis when the anticipated monetary award is modest. A fourth factor is the decline of unions and other institutions that provide their members with free legal representation. A fifth factor is the imposition of mandatory arbitration. A sixth factor is judicial hostility to class action suits. A seventh factor is the increasing diversion of legal disputes to regulatory agencies. An eighth factor, in criminal cases, is the vastly increased risk of a heavy penalty in going to trial.

For these and other reasons, many Americans with ordinary legal disputes never get the day in court that they imagined they were guaranteed by the law. A further result is that most legal disputes are rarely decided by judges, and almost never by juries. And still another result is that the function of the judiciary as a check on the power of the executive and legislative branches and as an independent forum for the resolution of legal disputes has substantially diminished — with the all-too-willing acquiescence of the judiciary itself.

Some of this may seem surprising to people accustomed to hearing about overburdened courts with overcrowded dockets. These very real burdens partly reflect the decades-old refusal of many legislatures to provide funds for new courts and new judges at a rate remotely comparable to the increase in population and the corresponding increase in cases. But aside from these facts, a closer look at changes in the courts’ dockets reveals some disturbing trends.

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Clinton’s ads show her weak strategy: purely tribal, no content

Summary: Why did Hillary flop in the Electoral College? Liberals search frantically for explanations. A previous post discussed the failure of Clinton’s fear campaign and the public’s dislike of her social justice warriors. Here we look at another cause: her advertising.

Ready for Hillary

Liberals continue to ask themselves who is responsible for Clinton’s defeat. Most reply “not her, not us”. Many of us have flagged her Anything But Issues Campaign. But some disagree.

“Clinton offered, inter alia, such longtime Goldman Sachs priorities as a family leave plan, an increased minimum wage and better overtime rules, the Employee Free Choice Act, child care funding, Social Security increases, a public option for health care, and support for repealing the Hyde Amendment. {Her speeches} were mostly arguments in favor of these policies. Should the Clinton campaign have tried to be more creative about finding ways of getting word of this attractive platform out …? Yes.”

— Scott Lemieux (prof of pol sci, College of Saint Rose) at Lawyers, Guns and Money.

Professor Lemieux is correct — people who listen to politicians’ speeches and read their white papers know the platforms. For the other 99% of America — there are advertisements, a key to success in modern campaigns. Clinton’s were both boring and devoid of specifics about what she might do as President. It’s all tribal affinity and malarkey. Trump’s tweet’s read like the Federalist Papers by comparison (in terms of promised action, without the Paper‘s reason and soul). She burnt on these ads a big part of the $690 million donors gave her.

“Tomorrow” – The final Clinton ad…

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Here’s the news about Team Trump. See the promises fade away.

Summary: Seeing the truth in politicians’ intentions ranges from difficult to impossible. But people are policy. Watch Trump’s appointments to learn what to expect. So far the indications are that we are in big trouble, and Trump’s talk of populism and throttling back our wars was just another Trumpian con. Here’s the scoop so far. We’ll know for sure in a few weeks.

“Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss.
— “Won’t Get Fooled Again” by The Who.

Donald Trump - thumbs-up

Opening hints: meet the transition team

The Chicago Tribune reports “Meet Frank Gaffney, the anti-Muslim gadfly reportedly advising Trump’s transition team“.  Jessica Schulberg at HufPo said that Gaffney “Is Even More Anti-Muslim Than Donald Trump” — “Here are some of the most Islamophobic theories spun out of the mind of Frank Gaffney.”

That’s small-time madness. For the big time see Trump’s new Chief Strategist: “This Is How Steve Bannon Sees The Entire World” by J. Lester Feder at Buzzfeed — “The soon-to-be White House chief strategist laid out a global vision in a rare 2014 talk, one where he said racism in the far right gets ‘washed out’ …” It seems that Trump lives in a Breitbart world, quite different than the real one.

Names of rumored candidates for high posts on Team Trump

Steven Mnuchin for Treasury Secretary

Mnuchin (Wikipedia) is a the former Goldman Sachs banker who became Trump’s national finance chairman and is said to be the top candidate for Treasury secretary. Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan, is also rumored to be a contender for the job. Marie Bartiromo of Fox reiterated those rumors today on Twitter.  Reuters said…

“A Trump transition team source told Reuters that Dimon is “pitching hard” for the Treasury role. Another source said Dimon was not interested in the job. Both spoke on condition of anonymity. …Although Dimon has said repeatedly and publicly that he would not want the job,”

It is a choice of Tweedledum or Tweedledee. If Trump appoints a banker as Treasury Secretary, then we know the “populism” talk was just a scam.

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Trump and the 1% lead America back to its past, to its dark roots

Summary: Look to the past to see the future of the Trump revolution. That means seeing through the half-truths of both the doomsters and the panglossians. Here’s a brief look at the bad news and the good news. Draw your own conclusions.

Donald Trump's Revolution

The Trump “revolution” is a moment in the wave of history carrying the US to the right. Most Americans do not understand because of their amnesia about our history. Much of what we love about America was true only for a moment. Most of American history is dark. Slavery of Africans. Treaty-breaking, enslavement, and genocide of American Indians. Colonial wars. The long destruction of the craftsman and farming classes. The centralization of power and wealth in the 1%.

Our history is too dark; we do not want to see it. So we manufactured myths to replace facts. We cheer the triumph of “John Wayne in Chisum, the opposite of actual sad events in the Lincoln County War (the cavalry arrived to help the bad guys, as it so often did).

The post-WWII era was an anomaly in our history, a new beginning created by the fires of the Great Depression and WWII. The campaign rhetoric about American exceptionalism, our role as a force for good in the world, our love of social mobility and equality — all was true (in the incomplete fashion of the real world) for a few decades after WWII. Now we have the inevitable counter-revolution, a reversion to the mean of America driven by the immeasurable power and wealth of the 1%. Beginning in the 1970’s they laid plans, which they have lavishly funded and skillfully executed.

I have written warnings about this since 2003. Commenters overwhelmingly said I was exaggerating our danger. Now my predictions appear on the front pages as generations of progress are erased. The 1% has built its political power for four decades; now they have begun to use it. Mother Nature does not care about right and wrong; the 1% deserve to win by her cold logic. Slow and stupid are sins she always punishes.

The old America is resurgent: rule by the exploitative plutocracy backed by domestic force, with an unprincipled and extractive foreign policy. They have just begun to reshape America.

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