Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Alan Greenspan Forecasts Extremely Low Economic Growth for Germany, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Holland and Canada

Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, weighed in last week on one of the pressing issues facing the incoming Trump administration and the country — slow economic growth. Greenspan’s explanation is novel and bound to be controversial. To preview: He blames the welfare state and overall uncertainty for the slowdown. …

By scouring economic statistics, Greenspan thinks he’s discovered heretofore hidden relationships that explain weak productivity growth.

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On Second Thought …

After reading this article in today’s NYT detailing how things unfolded in the theater before, during and after the Hamilton performance on Friday evening, I’ve concluded the obvious: that the cast and crew members and the overwhelming number of audience members are paid, professional protesters.

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Trump Now Has His Joseph Goebbels. As Nominee for Attorney General.

I do not believe that this man will be confirmed.  Even despite this.

Things of this sort can change, bigly, once confirmation hearings begin.  And not just because of his brazen, lifelong white supremacism.  Also because, well, among other things, Florida voters just adopted an amendment to the state constitution legalizing medical marijuana.  Buy a yuge margin.

Read through the NYT editorial I’ve linked to.  No one—and I do mean no onewants this kind of thing.  Outside of Alabama and Mississippi, of course.

This choice is beyond-belief vile.  And by the end of his confirmation hearing, everyone will know the specifics. And that Donald Trump thought it would be fine to reward this man in this precise way for being the first member of Congress to endorse him.

So Jeff Flake, Joe Manchin and Susan Collins think he’s fine.   Then again, presumably they don’t plan to run for president.  Marco Rubio likely does, though.  And his own state, the largest swing state, just voted to legalize medical marijuana. And there’s also that large-Hispanic-population thing in his state.  Just one example.

Here’s betting that McCain won’t vote for him either.  He doesn’t plan to run for president, having already been there and done that, but there’s that little thing about Sessions’ support for torture of various kinds, including waterboarding.

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UPDATED: Be sure to read this article published Friday at Yahoo News.  I didn’t see it until just now.

Updated 11/20 at 3:25 p.m.

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A Particularly Poignant, and Revealing, Juxtaposition of Politico Articles Published a Day Apart

Terry Havener, 62, a retired union carpenter, pictured with Johnstown in the background. He was hoping for Bernie. He voted for Jill Stein. | Scott Goldsmith for Politico Magazine

– Photo caption in THE FRIDAY COVER: What Trump Voters Want Now The blue-collar workers who put Donald Trump in the White House are ready for him to deliver. How much time will they give him?, Politico, article by Michael Kruse, yesterday

Juxtapose that article with a Politico article by Ben White, from a day earlier, titled “Bankers celebrate dawn of Trump era: A populist candidate who railed against shady financial interests on the trail is putting together an administration that looks like an investment banker’s dream.

Yesterday’s article is mostly about lifelong Democrats in Johnstown, Penn., who voted at least once for Obama (who won the town and its county both times) but who voted for Trump, who there decisively.  So Mr. Havener is the exception in that he didn’t vote for Trump.  But neither did he vote for Clinton.

These are not Trump’s “base” voters, and they make clear that Trump will not hold them for long by trying to lie his way through his administration.  The Mad Hatter routine will not work with them.  This will be the most virulently pro-corporate, pro-already-extremely-wealthy administration since Warren Harding’s, and they will know it.

Elizabeth Warren on Thursday gave a fairly detailed speech on the Senate floor listing Trump’s many statements and explicit promises to working-class voters, juxtaposed with the express positions of the people in charge of respective relevant parts of Trump’s transition team: an aggressive proponent of privatizing Social Security in charge of selecting top people at HHS, as just one of many specific examples Warren listed.

I would love to see ads run on Rust Belt media markets showing that part of Warren’s speech.  And then warning that Trump will simply say that he’s doing exactly the opposite of what he’s actually doing.  This is the way to fight this.  It is the only way to fight this.  These are not terribly expensive media markets.

These ads also should run through social media, on Facebook as ads and in news feeds, and in Twitter feeds.  They should become a regular feature of American life.  They would be funded in the same way that the Sanders campaign was.  And they should say that.

Meanwhile, there is the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend.  People should get this information to their relatives through Facebook ahead of the holiday, if possible, and at the Thanksgiving dinner if Trump is discussed.

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ADDENDUM: Reader EMichael, who is originally from Pennsylvania, and I just had an exchange of several comments in the Comments thread that readers of this post will be interested in, I think.

Added 11/19 at 10:40 a.m.

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Hey, President-Elect Trump: Congratulations on your quick success on Wednesday! [Addendum added.]

Congratulations on your quick success on Wednesday, Mr. Trump!*

Now how ’bout gettin’ to work on that Carrier plant in Indianapolis that is in the process of shutting down, its production being moved to a new plant in Mexico.  And other manufacturing plants that, like Carrier, actually ARE slated to move outside the country.

And then, after Carrier announces its change in plan, could you make a few phone calls to a few companies that outsource their manufacturing and assembly?

And then maybe … Walmart.  Get Walmart’s CEO on the phone.  Can you get Walmart to stop doing virtually all its purchasing from wholesale companies whose products are from China, Vietnam and other countries that aren’t, y’know, the USA?

And when you have an extra moment, maybe you can get your daughter Ivanka on the phone and try hard to persuade her to get her company to stop having its products made in China.

Look. Shouldn’t Bill Ford or at least Ford’s public relations office put out a statement correcting Trump’s, um, misimpression that a plant in Kentucky was ever scheduled to move to Mexico?

I get that that is a dangerous move, given Trump’s nature.  But a courageous move at the outset by Ford’s CEO would put everyone on notice that we’re in for some serious fascist tactics in the next four years, and they need to try to undermine the success of those tactics.

*H/T Paul Waldman

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ADDENDUM: Here’s a detailed article about this in the Washington Post.** Do read the article.  Then ask Trump about whom he plans to pick as his, um, Labor Secretary.  And whether his NLRB member pics will be … pro-union.

No, don’t bother with that last question.  It’s not just that we don’t have to ask, cuz we already know.  It’s also that we know that Trump will say they will be pro-union picks.

One absolute certainty is that Trump will continue to say the opposite of what he is doing is what he is doing, and say the opposite of what happened is what happened. On absolutely everything.

We are about to have Joe McCarthy combined with the Matter Hatter as president of the United States.

Added 11/18 at 12:27 p.m.

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*I switched the link from a Politico article to one by Jim Tankersley in the Washington Post, which provides the full information.

Added 11/18 at 5:44 p.m.

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Lock Him Up!!

Folks … this is crazy.

Even apart from the profound national security danger and, at least seemingly, breach of federal criminal law–hey, James Comey, wanna investigate this?–there is that little issue about, y’know, LOBBYISTS CONTROLLING THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

And to think we thought the only conflicts of interest would be finance industry and fossil fuel industry cabinet department and regulatory capture.  We were naive.

Will Fox News report this?  Will this make it into all those circular Facebook feeds?  Will there be a Twitter hashtag on it?

Look.  Supposedly there are all these Democratic billionaires and near-billionaires poised to begin trying to start a rebuilding of the party from the ground up, beginning with state legislative races.  Better extremely late than never on that.  But the best way to begin that–and in any event–far and away more immediately important–is to force this gross, concerted bait-and-switch into the public’s consciousness.  Meaning massive information campaigns on this.

Every Republican senator up for reelection, and every Republican House member, needs to be put on notice that this–this–will be the dominant issue in the 2018 election cycle.  But first and foremost, those in the Midwest and the Rust Belt need to know this.  That’s where the information campaign should begin.  Tomorrow.

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It’s Clear By Now That the Second-Most Powerful Person in the Federal Government Will Be Bernie Sanders.

The Big Question Is, Who is the MOST Powerful Person: Paul Ryan or Donald Trump?

“I think my title [of head of outreach] is to be head of outreach and that’s something that I take very seriously,” he said, without explaining any more about the new role.

But Sanders did pound home his remedies for the Democratic Party.

“We need major, major reforms to the Democratic Party,” Sanders said going on to say that Trump was able to tap into discontent among Americans who felt completely ignored by the rest of the American political system.

Trump, Sanders continued, “said I hear that you are hurting and I hear and understand that you’re worried about the future, about your kids, and I alone can do something about it — and people voted for him.”

Sanders went on to tick off the promises Trump made that Democrats would hold him accountable for.

“He said we will not cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Now I think that we should expand Social Security,” Sanders continued. “That is what he said, and pay attention to see what he now does. The question that will be resolved pretty quickly is whether or not everything that he was saying to the working class of this country was hypocrisy, was dishonest or whether he was sincere — and we will find out soon enough.”

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Redefining Political Correctness to Include Criticism of Appointments of Wall Street, Banking and Fossil Fuel Insiders to Regulatory Bodies

And Extreme Pro-Corporate Lawyers and Judges to the Supreme Court and the Lower Federal Courts. Seriously.

So far, the Trump transition team does not seem particularly concerned, for instance, about a transition team staffed heavily with lobbyists from energy, agriculture, transportation, and banking.

“Frankly, one of the refreshing parts of it about the whole Trump style is that he does not care about political correctness. From a practical standpoint, I have heard lots of people say, ‘Why would we box ourselves out of the most knowledgeable policy people in the country?’” said one source close to the transition team.

Donald McGahn II, a partner at the firm Jones Day and Trump’s lawyer, is expected to play a central role in vetting nominees. So is Arthur Culvahouse, Jr., a partner at the firm O’Melveny & Myers, who helped vet vice presidential candidates and, according to a source, has been helping the campaign organize its White House picks.

Culvahouse declined a request for an interview. None of the lawyers in the political law practice at Jones Day returned POLITICO’S calls. Culvahouse has faced backlash from colleagues at his firm for working with Trump, according to people familiar with the situation, with one person saying the decision was “amazingly controversial” within the firm. Many top partners at O’Melveny, including Tom Donilon, were vocal Clinton backers.

Trump advisers steamroll Christie’s transition: The new, top-down approach is likened to how Dick Cheney ran the Bush transition., Andrew Restuccia and Nancy Cook, Politico, today

Just so you know, Culvahouse played a large role in turning the Supreme Court and lower federal courts into a proxy arm of the far-right Chamber of Commerce, including in Citizens United but also in ways most people have no idea about but would really care about.  These are not pro-union justices and judges, nor are they pro-employee, pro-consumer, pro small-business, anti-financial-industry-fraud, or ant-securities-fraud.  Nor anti-fossil-fuel-industry.  For starters.

So.  From a practical standpoint, who do you think are all those people who are saying to this source close to the transition team, “Why would we box ourselves out of the most knowledgeable policy people in the country?”  And might that source close to the transition team be Mike Pence, who is so close to the transition team that he heads it?

And how likely do you think it is that among the many people who are saying this to the source is, say, a blue-collar voter from Toledo or Youngstown?  Or any region of Michigan?  Or Erie, Pennsylvania?

Or anywhere?

We’re extremely close to down-the-rabbit-hole language of the Arbeit macht frei variety, folks—something I saw last Saturday and mentioned in the update to this post.

George Orwell and Lewis Carroll are laughing.  Really hard.

Good god.  This is the most successful Trojan Horse since the original one. And every bit as sinister.  But also funny, in that this is what’s now called a top-down approach. Always great to see a new euphemism for insider corruption.

They’re not gonna box themselves in, folks.  But massive, intensive publicity might.

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Kellyanne Conway Plays With Matches

If Kelleyanne Conway wants to see truly massive protests, she should continue to threaten Harry Reid with (il)legal action for making fact-based allegations against Trump, while herself alleging that protesters against Trump are professional protesters—that they’re being paid.

She seems unaware that she’s playing with matches.  But she is.

 

 

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