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

The New World ORDER

Paul Krugman has a terrific column today titled “Donald Trump, the Siberian Candidate,” but really he suggests that Trump is the Manchurian candidate. Krugman suggests that Trump is actually fronting for Putin on the world stage. I think he’s right.

The only difference between the Manchurian candidate in the movie and Donald Trump is that Trump, unlike the movie character, would be doing what he would be doing completely consciously and wittingly. In a word: treason. Or something darn close to it.

This is jarringly serious stuff.

I think the Clinton campaign and the Dem Party would be crazy not to run a series of ads, and soon, making and an elaborating on the points Krugman makes in that column, first and foremost Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s longtime ties to Putin folks and to other rightwing dictators.  There also should be footage of Soviet armored tanks marching into Czechoslovakia in 1968 and Hungary in the mid-1950s.

I also think they should run ads juxtaposing video of Trump making some of his fascist-like statements (and pointing out that Trump repeatedly threatens the press, bars unfriendly media organizations from covering his events when he can) with footage of Adolph Hitler’s speeches in the early and mid-1930s.  There certainly are significant similarities.

The ads should flash the slogan “The New World Order.”  They should actually illustrate what type of order Trump has in mind.

This has crossed a line, and needs to become a major part of Clinton’s and the Dems’ campaign.  I’m not sure—at all—that the Clinton, which strikes me as just as slow-footed as Clinton herself—is up to the task of recognizing and dealing with this, though.

And I do think, notwithstanding the gist of the comments in the comments in the Comments thread, that as a political matter I was right in what I said here yesterday.  But, really, only if Clinton and her campaign actually inform the public of these specifics.  And I don’t mean just via Twitter.

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UPDATE: The ad banner immediately above this post is from the Trump campaign, showing Trump with his right arm raised chest-high and his hand pointing forward and off toward the right.  It inaugurates what apparently is his campaign’s brand new slogan: Leading the Way.

Yes; exactly.  Clinton, her campaign and the Dem Party need to illustrate what Trump is leading the way toward.

Added 7/22 at 10:29 a.m.

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Am I the only one who thinks Trump’s New York Times interview probably ends his competitiveness in most of the Rust Belt? Just wonderin’.

CLEVELAND — Donald J. Trump, on the eve of accepting the Republican nomination for president, explicitly raised new questions on Wednesday about his commitment to automatically defending NATO allies if they are attacked, saying he would first look at their contributions to the alliance.

Asked about Russia’s threatening activities, which have unnerved the small Baltic States that are among the more recent entrants into NATO, Mr. Trump said that if Russia attacked them, he would decide whether to come to their aid only after reviewing if those nations have “fulfilled their obligations to us.”

“If they fulfill their obligations to us,” he added, “the answer is yes.”

Mr. Trump’s statement appeared to be the first time that a major candidate for president had suggested conditioning the United States’ defense of its major allies. It was consistent, however, with his previous threat to withdraw American forces from Europe and Asia if those allies fail to pay more for American protection.

Donald Trump Sets Conditions for Defending NATO Allies Against Attack, David E. Sanger and Maggie Haberman, New York Times, today

Ooookay.  For all you folks who have never lived in the Rust Belt: Very large percentages of the populations in much of it are of Eastern European descent.*  Now, Illinois and Indiana aren’t in play this election, so it doesn’t matter that a substantial portion of the population of northeastern Illinois and northwestern Indiana are of Eastern European descent.*

On the other hand, Michigan, Trump thinks, is in play.  (I don’t, but we’ll go with his belief for the moment.)  And southeastern Michigan has, yes, a lot of people of eastern European ancestry.  And some of them are blue collar.  Ditto for the western third of Pennsylvania.  And the heavy manufacturing areas of northern, central and eastern Ohio.

Now sure, Mr. Trump, many of those voters have supported you.  But that was before there was much made in the media of the fact that you had earlier made clear that as Putin’s tanks are marching toward, say, Warsaw (that’s in Poland) you will be awaiting word from NATO’s debt collection agency on whether or not Poland had finally agreed on a payment plan, before deciding whether to order the U.S. military to halt the march of Russia’s army. But now that you are officially the Republican presidential nominee, this sort of thing is likely to get some fair amount of media play.  Possibly even on Fox News.

Look, I hesitate to be the one to break this to you, Mr. Trump.  After all, I’m not using a pseudonym here (joking; this is a pseudonym) and there does seem to be a reason for your assurance to Turkish duly-elected strongman Precep Erdogan (and the rest of the world) that you have no plans to try to dissuade him from imprisoning the entire two-thirds of the Turkish population that has criticized him at some point—another promise you reiterated in the Times interview.  And maybe your idea of national strength, now that you’re making it so very clear at such a critical time in the campaign, really is not what most Rust Belters normally think of as the diametric opposite of national strength: If that’s what Putin wants, we shouldn’t stop him, because Poland hasn’t paid us up and anyway Putin has said some very nice things about you.

But as a native of the Rust Belt, I think the better bet is that you just lost any chance you had to win Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.  And as a Democrat, I think that’s pretty cool.

*Typo correction: Oh, brother.  “Descent”.  Not ‘dissent”.  I’m tempted to say ‘Pun intended.”  But, no, it was just a dumb mental slip.  Thanks, Lindsay Berge, for pointing it out in the Comments thread–and humorously suggesting it was a Freudian slip.  7/22 at 9:09 a.m.

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A Key Reason America is No Longer Great: The privatization of state and (especially) local governments, in both the services they provide and in the way these governments (especially the local ones) are funded. [UPDATED.]

Coberly/ July 21, 2016 10:26 am

mike

instead of begging to differ, why don’t you try to explain your case better?

it sounds to me like you are arguing that ignoring traffic violations in black neighborhoods will result in more black on black crime including homicide.

that could well be the case, but i don’t think anyone is suggesting that a lack of normal policing is the answer to police killing black (or white) people who are not posing a threat.

so whatever you are proposing has failed to make itself clear to me.

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Me/ July 21, 2016 11:15 am

Yup. Just think of all the homicides that have been prevented by the incessant traffic stops of black motorists for a burned-out taillight.

In Michigan, btw, by law you get just a warning for a burned-out taillight or turn signal, since people don’t necessarily even know that the light has burned out. You get the light replaced and mail in or drop off at the courthouse a receipt for the repair within 10 days, and there is no fine.

Which makes a big difference. A huge amount of excessive policing of minor traffic violations, real or fabricated, is the result of conflict-of-interest funding of local government, including and probably principally law enforcement–the police, the courts, the local jails. And the less wealthy you are, the likelier you are to have a burned out taillight or turn signal, because you are likelier to have an older car. Michigan’s law removes this issue.

And the federal government should enact it nationwide–which, in anticipation of a states’-rights/freedom/it’s-unconstitutional push-back, I’ll just say at the outset that it would be clearly constitutional under the Commerce Clause and the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause and specific authorization in the Fourteenth Amendment’s Section 5.

— An exchange between reader and occasional AB poster (on Social Security) Dale Coberly and me this morning in the Comments thread to Mike Kimel’s controversial July 19 post titled “Interactions Between Black People and the Police

If the public really wants meaningful change and wants to make America great again, one critical component would be to reverse the privatization of what should be, were for most of this country’s history until the Reagan Revolution, and are in virtually every other advanced country, government functions.  And to drastically limit the percentage of government spending that can be paid for by fines for traffic violations and ordinance violations.

And, yes, federal statutes can, within the parameters of the Constitution, be enacted to accomplish these things.

Notwithstanding Freedom and Liberty and states’ and municipalities God-given right to violate individuals’ constitutional rights that have nothing to do with gun ownership, religion, or the purchasing of officeholders via campaign donations or personal-finance donations.*

Really.

*Sentence rewritten for clarity after posting. 7/21 at 5:16 p.m.

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UPDATE: Comments thread exchanges:

Warren/ July 21, 2016 2:15 pm

“[One] critical component [is] to reverse the privatization of what should be… government functions.”

Such as?

 

J.Goodwin/ July 21, 2016 3:08 pm

Prison management?

 

Me/ July 21, 2016 5:25 pm

Ambulance and firefighter services, for another. Which bill people several thousand dollars a shot.

And entire police departments and court systems and local jails are supported by exorbitant fines and court fees and late fees and this fee and that fee for having gotten a traffic ticket or some such.

Didn’t used to be that way. Used to be that normal taxes paid for these things. Y’know; back when America was great.

 

Lyle/ July 21, 2016 4:26 pm

Note that Ca has a similar thing called a fix-it ticket, that once you get it fixed you drive to a police station have a cop sign that it is fixed and you get the ticket dismissed

The New York Times has been writing a lot on various aspects of this issue, but it’s completely ignored by most candidates for, well, any government office.  Bernie Sanders was the exception, and I think (but I’m not sure) that Elizabeth Warren has discussed some aspects of it, as well.

But Hillary Clinton should discuss it.  It’s tremendously important to many, many people’s lives, and lies at the very heart of much of the blacks-versus-police-and-the-courts issue.  Clinton shouldn’t dodge this.

Added 7/21 at 5:41 p.m.

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Operation Save Marley

I just signed this Change.org petition, and included this comment:

What is the point of having this dog euthanized?  Why is this system so mechanical that it can’t or won’t distinguish between a dog who’s a threat and a dog who unsurprisingly under the circumstances thought someone was being harmed and tried to protect him?  Seriously; what is the point of a system of that sort?

Anyone else care to add a protest to this kind of thing by signing the petition?

Please Help Marley

UPDATE: Sorry, but this is touching.  This overreaction is outrageous.  Added 7/21 at 6:51 p.m.

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Lock WHO Up?

I’ve been waiting for the Clinton campaign to respond to Trump’s “Crooked Hillary” meme by pointing out that fraud, including bank fraud, is generally considered crooked—i.e., illegal.  To no avail, of course; that would require some guts and going off-script.

But in light of Christie’s speech last night, might the Clinton campaign consider featuring at the convention next week a couple of people whom Trump actually defrauded or just skipped out on?

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Okay, so Hillary Clinton thinks the election outcome will be determined by whether or not her running mate has a national security background, because Donald Trump has pronounced this a law-and-order election. Seriously.

Facing a fall contest against a Republican opponent focused on law and order, Hillary Clinton has narrowed her search for a vice­-presidential candidate, telling several potential running mates that she needs a No. 2 who would bring national security experience to the Democratic ticket.

Mrs. Clinton’s shortlist includes James G. Stavridis, a retired four-­star Navy admiral who served as the 16th supreme allied commander of NATO, and Senator Tim Kaine, a former Virginia governor who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. She is widely expected to present her choice at a rally in Miami on Saturday, according to people involved

Hillary Clinton Is Said to Seek National Security Experience for Vice Presidential Pick, Amy Chozick, New York Times, today

Oh.  Brother.

This, folks, is what’s wrong with Hillary Clinton as the Democratic Party nominee for president.  I ask you folks: How many of you think the folks who’ve been downsized from, say, their well-paying blue-collar jobs in the Rust Belt will determine their vote based on whether or not Clinton’s running mate has national security experience, because Donald Trump has pronounced this a law-and-order election?

Seriously.  Vote on this in the Comments thread.

Setting aside for moment that her supposed big selling point is the breadth of her government experience, and particularly her national security, and that most people don’t recognize that presidents normally have several national security advisors and that all that’s really necessary is that the president have a, y’know, brain and a semblance of mental stability, the fact that Clinton is so, so easily spooked into triangulation-and-toughness mode is genuinely scary.

So I’ll repeat here what I wrote yesterday:

One of my pet peeves about Hillary Clinton is how mindless—how autopilot-y—her political instincts are.  I wrote recently, and had written earlier, about her factually off attempt last summer to pander to current and aspiring small-business owners by promising that she could have the federal government streamline the time it takes to start a business and cut down on regulations on small businesses.  The federal government plays virtually no role in the regulation of small businesses—local and state governments regulate most small businesses—and the role that government at any level plays in business startup time is a matter of about a week for most businesses.

But hiding in plain sight were things she could have mentioned about the role that the federal government could play in things of critical importance to small business owners of various types.  And some things that, thanks to Dems, it already does.  Specific regulation of the financial services industry, for example—such as the Durbin Amendment, a form of antitrust regulation of Visa and Mastercard concerning business fees for credit and ATM card transactions, enacted by the Dem.-controlled Congress in 2009—has mattered a lot, and should be strengthened.  And other antitrust enforcement and proposed legislation, such as to decrease the market chokehold of the major transportation companies and Big Ag, would make a significant difference to small-business owners, including farmers.

Elizabeth Warren talked about this in a highly publicized speech a couple of weeks ago.  And Bernie Sanders discussed it often on the campaign trail, including, in Iowa, proposals for antitrust legislation to limit the market power of Big Ag.

Clinton reflexively equates the possibility of Dems attracting white rural and small town residents with triangulation.  I myself have long believed that standard-issue triangulation is not the ticket to winning some support in rural and small town areas, but that specific sophisticated policy discussions about nonconventional issues—such as about antitrust regulation—is.  Ditto for small-business owners and aspirants.

The rap on Vilsack apparently is that he’s boring.  And that he wouldn’t make a good attack dog against Trump.

I don’t think Clinton needs an attack dog, in the conventional sense, as her running mate.  Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders both get extensive media coverage for what they say, and people really listen to and care about their speeches.  They’ll play a tremendous dual role in educating the public about the Dem platform—and the Repub one.  And Warren can skewer Trump like she was born to do it.

My own choice for VP nominee is Sherrod Brown, whom I’ve been a huge fan of since he appeared on my radar screen during his 2006 Senate campaign; he and Dick Durbin are my favorite senators.  Brown would make a wonderful candidate, and would appeal to rural and small town voters precisely because he’s a liberal—in ways that would matter to them.  But I share the hesitation about him that Clinton and other Dems have: his seat would be turned over to a Kasich appointee for a while.

And I think his teaming up with Sanders, Warren, Durbin, Jeff Merkley, Baldwin and Jack Reed in a Dem-controlled Senate, along with a couple of new true progressives, would prove historic.   Which is what I think Clinton should campaign on.

And, innocently, I added:

As for progressive NeverHillary holdouts, I think they should understand the possibilities that would come from that.  And, conversely, from this.

Then I added this:

ThesePeopleAreCrazy.

That crazy thing, though, may not be enough to determine the outcome of this presidential election, after all.  And it’s not because, see, Donald Trump has declared this a law-and-order election.

Just when I thought we’d gotten lucky, in that someone within her trust-and-personal-comfort realm who is among her finalists actually could make a difference in the campaign, for the right (no, not that way) reasons, and would make a good president should that situation arise, she reverts to form.

Toughness-and-triangulation forever!

Whatever. …

Clinton will have my vote.  But I recognize now my naiveté in expecting her to run a rational, spooked-free campaign.  It’s not what she does, because it’s not who she is; whoever she is, it’s not that.

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Monte dei Paschi di Siena

For days, I have felt morally obliged to report on the Italian slow motion crisis of banks with tens of billions of non performing loans. I’ve had trouble making myself work (as usual). So I hand the mike to Daniel Davies.

The background is that the world’s oldest bank Monte Dei Paschi di Sienna is in trouble (again). It has about 40 billion Euros of non performing loans on its books and has set aside about 20 billion Euros to cover them. The Italian government wants it to recapitalize by issuing new shares (which the Italian government will buy if no one else wants them as is likely). The European Union is telling the Italian government it can’t do this. There is a Euroconstitutional crisis.

Daniel Davies knows which side he is on.

dd

dd2

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