Archive for category Disaster
A gathering Monday in Washington, D.C., featured a bipartisan group of former government officials agreeing on the benefits of slashing the nation’s safety net.
This week marks the 20th anniversary of “welfare reform,” the 1996 law passed by Congress and administered by President Bill Clinton that strictly limited the amount of federal cash assistance that the poorest Americans can receive — transforming the Aid for Families with Dependent Children program into the more restrictive Temporary Aid for Needy Families.
One of the main impacts of the law was to help double the number of American households living in extreme poverty in America – defined as living on less than $2 a day.
The Capitol Hill event, hosted by the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute and the Progressive Policy Institute, which has been referred to as President Bill Clinton’s “idea mill,” celebrated the 20th anniversary of the law. Its architects said they had no regrets about its passage.
Former Michigan Republican governor John Engler, who pioneered state-level welfare cutbacks and who today serves as the head of the corporate lobbying group the Business Roundtable, recounted how Bill Clinton’s support helped make national welfare reform possible.
“It was pretty stunning in 1992 to have a Democratic candidate for president, albeit a 12-year veteran in the governor’s office talking about ending ‘welfare as we know it,’” he said. “That was a pretty decisive moment.” …
…At the conclusion of the event, the speakers and audience were treated to a reception featuring alcoholic drinks, cheesecake squares, specialty meats, and gourmet cheese.
The U.S. poverty rate has been increasing since 2000. The 2015 Census Bureau statistics have not been released yet, but in 2014 46.7 million Americans (14.8 percent) were in poverty. Only 4.1 million receive assistance from TANF.
Michael Moore, today on HuffPo: Trump Is Self-Sabotaging His Campaign Because He Never Really Wanted The Job In The First Place
Assuming Moore knows what he is talking about, this is both incredible and not really surprising. Donald Trump, after all, is not a politician. He never actually ran for political office before, and it’s possible that he didn’t originally intend to seriously run this year either! But NBC fired him after he claimed to be in the race, and there was no going back.
Donald Trump never actually wanted to be president of the United States. I know this for a fact. I’m not going to say how I know it…
…And then something happened. And to be honest, if it happened to you, you might have reacted the same way. Trump, to his own surprise, ignited the country, especially among people who were the opposite of billionaires. He went straight to #1 in the polls of Republican voters. Up to 30,000 boisterous supporters started showing up to his rallies. TV ate it up. He became the first American celebrity to be able to book himself on any show he wanted to be on — and then NOT show up to the studio! From “Face the Nation” to “The Today Show” to Anderson Cooper, he was able to simply phone in and they’d put him on the air live. He could’ve been sitting on his golden toilet in Trump Tower for all we knew — and the media had no problem with any of that. In fact, CBS head Les Moonves famously admitted that Trump was very good for TV ratings and selling ads — music to the ears the NBC-spurned narcissist.
Trump fell in love with himself all over again, and he soon forgot his mission to get a good deal for a TV show. A TV show? Are you kidding — that’s for losers like Chris Harrison, whoever that is (host of “The Bachelorette”). He was no longer king of the dealmakers — he was King of the World! His tiniest musings would be discussed and dissected everywhere by everybody for days, weeks, months! THAT never happened on “The Apprentice”! Host a TV show? He was the star of EVERY TV SHOW — and, soon, winning nearly every primary!
…Soon, though, his karma caught up with him. Calling Mexicans “rapists” should have disqualified him on Day One (or for saying Obama wasn’t born here, as he did in 2011). No, it took 13 months of racist, sexist, stupid comments before he finally undid himself with the trifecta of attacking the family of a slain soldier, ridiculing the Purple Heart and suggesting that the pro-gun crowd assassinate Hillary Clinton. By this past weekend, the look on his face said it all — “I hate this! I want my show back!” But it was too late. He was damaged goods, his brand beyond repair, a worldwide laughing stock — and worse, a soon-to-be loser.
The Tea-GOP is on the verge of really going down hard in this election. It’s not entirely Trump’s fault, because the Faux News Channel created this base of millions of misinformed and bigoted primary voters and right-wing politicians have pandered to them for years.
From the comments on Moore’s article:
He wanted a higher Q rating so he could get more TV money, it was obvious from the start. He knew the Republican base was stupid enough to get him some attention, he just didn’t realize how stupid they are.
I’m not sure we actually have to be reminded never to trust a Clinton, however recently some have praised Hillary Clinton’s economic policy speech as if it mattered. I suspect her REAL economic views can be found in the Goldman Sachs speech transcripts that we’ll never see.
What matters are the polls showing she is the less trustworthy of the two major-party candidates. Which is amazing, considering that she is running against the guy who invented “Trump University.”
Thomas Frank, writing in The Guardian, reiterates the fact that Hillary hasn’t changed.
As leading Republicans desert the sinking ship of Trump’s GOP, America’s two-party system itself has temporarily become a one-party system. And within that one party, the political process bears a striking resemblance to dynastic succession. Party office-holders selected Clinton as their candidate long ago, apparently determined to elevate her despite every possible objection, every potential legal problem. The Democratic National Committee helped out, too, as WikiLeaks tells us. So did President Barack Obama, that former paladin for openness, who in the past several years did nearly everything in his power to suppress challenges to Clinton and thus ensure she would continue his legacy of tepid, bank-friendly neoliberalism.
My leftist friends persuaded themselves that this stuff didn’t really matter, that Clinton’s many concessions to Sanders’ supporters were permanent concessions. But with the convention over and the struggle with Sanders behind her, headlines show Clinton triangulating to the right, scooping up the dollars and the endorsements, and the elites shaken loose in the great Republican wreck.
She is reaching out to the foreign policy establishment and the neocons. She is reaching out to Republican office-holders. She is reaching out to Silicon Valley. And, of course, she is reaching out to Wall Street…
Don’t expect Hillary to follow through on her progressive promises if elected. She is the status quo candidate.
After the Bush administration presided over the worst financial collapse since the Great Depression, American households lost about $16.4 trillion of net worth. The value of real estate alone dropped by $6 trillion.
Instead of making the big banks eat these losses, our government decided to let the middle class pay for Wall Street’s mistakes – even if it meant circumventing the law. “Rocket dockets” (up to 1,000 cases per day) and “robo-signing” (the mass production of false affidavits) enabled the biggest robbery of all time. Some homeowners faced court-ordered foreclosure even though they never took out a mortgage!
David Dayen has laid it all out in a new book, Chain of Title: How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street’s Great Foreclosure Fraud
Example of “robo-signing”
Political analysts still manage to wonder why people are angry in a time of economic recovery, without ever even hinting recognition of the scarring impact of the foreclosure disaster. More than 9.3 million American families gave up their home between 2006 and 2014, either in a foreclosure or a short sale or some other transaction. That translates to about 14 million people, all of whom have family and friends and colleagues who at least know of the pain caused by the foreclosure crisis. There have been more since then.
It didn’t have to turn out that way. All of the losses didn’t have to be placed upon homeowners. Somebody could have been held responsible. We could have enforced the simple rule that you can’t take a person’s home with false evidence. This bare minimum would have engendered some faith that the system works, that justice still burns somewhere in America.
“Somebody could have been held responsible.” Instead, the Obama administration looked the other way during the “fraudclosure” crisis. They did the same thing on U.S. war crimes, on CIA torture, and on widespread warrantless surveillance of Americans. Only the truth-tellers went to federal prison, never the criminals.
As Joan Rivers used to say, “Can we talk?” Because the corporate media coverage of the presidential race is barely mentioning the issues that affect you and me.
Lately all over cable TV they are vociferously debating whether Donald Trump is paying enough respect to the family of a U.S. Army captain who died heroically 12 years ago during Bush’s illegal invasion of Iraq (that Hillary voted for as a senator), after the father of said fallen warrior aimed a gratuitous insult at the notoriously thin-skinned Trump in a partisan DNC speech.
Most likely, this is a picture of the 2016 presidential campaign for the next 100 days. Hillary using surrogates to get Trump to say something that dominates the news cycle, or trying to get Trump to lose his temper during a debate. Anything Trump says is automatically news. Hillary has not held a press conference since last year.
What could the candidates talk about? Well, here is one suggestion. There is another recession coming, sooner rather than later. How will Hillary and Trump deal with the consequences?
Instead of ending the world of banks that are “too big to fail” and preventing banks from operating in ways that could again sink the economy, we have guaranteed them that the taxpayers are ready and waiting when they make another catastrophic mistake.
The Dodd-Frank regulations are not completely written yet, and probably won’t be in effect when the Wall Street billionaires crash our financial sector again. Is the American middle class about to take another big hit? Can somebody offer a plan to help us? We haven’t even recovered from the last time.
Hillary is going to have to offer much more than her current “OMG Trump!” campaign.
All hail Hillary of the House Clinton, First of Her Name, Queen of Meereen, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Lady Regnant of the Seven Kingdoms, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Mhysa, Breaker of Chains, the Unburnt, Mother of Dragons. Oh wait, that’s not her, that’s Dany on “Game of Thrones.” BTW Season 6 of GoT was awesome– Winter isn’t coming, it has arrived!
What has Hillary Clinton learned from more than a year of being yelled at by anguished progressives, worried about the disappearing American middle class and endless warfare? Answer: Nothing whatsoever. Winter is coming for neoliberalism, and Hillary just doesn’t get it.
She has in hand the endorsement of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. She has the terrifying prospect of a President Donald Trump, who might be described as anti-progressive, as the ultimate foil…
…She’s not sweating the Green Party’s Jill Stein or the Libertarian Party’s Gary Johnson—who have been registering respectable poll numbers but combined have been drawing about the same proportion from the two major party candidates. She’s not nervous about the prospect of rogue Sanders delegates making a symbolic protest on the convention floor. She doesn’t believe she is going to lose enough of the left on Election Day to make a difference in the outcome.
Whether such confidence is justified is not crystal clear when looking at the most recent poll numbers. The most recent CNN poll finds Clinton keeping only 57 percent of Sanders voters, with 23 percent going to Johnson, 12 to Stein and five to Trump. Johnson and Stein are taking a combined 12 points in Saturday’s Real Clear Politics average.
I think Hillary actually believes she can pick up votes from anti-Trump Tea-GOPers. That’s crazy, because those are the people giving her such high negative ratings. She probably thinks identity politics will provide the winning margin, like it did for President Obama. She may know she has driven away progressives and independents, whose support she doesn’t seem to want anyway.
All in all an epic political miscalculation. This is going to be a close election, even though it really shouldn’t be. If the Dems nominated Bernie Sanders instead, it wouldn’t be. See below for Samantha Bee’s hilarious take on Tim Kaine for VP.
Next week’s convention is going to be interesting.
A year ago he was nothing but a joke, then he became one of 18 contenders for the Tea-GOP presidential nomination. Like the others, Donald Trump came up with gaffes that seemed designed to alienate voters – for example, saying your wages are too high. One by one, the other candidates exited the clown bus. Then Trump became the presumptive nominee, to the horror of most Americans including many Tea-GOPers.
Tonight he officially became the nominee, the first time a major political party has decided to run a candidate for the White House who has never before held elective office since General Dwight Eisenhower. He is also the most unpopular presidential candidate in the history of polling, just ahead of, you guessed it, HRH Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The elite pundits and Dem politicians tell us that Trump is a phony candidate running what amounts to a phony campaign. They could be right, but can they explain why the polls are tied within the margin of error?
Note to Dems: You can still nominate Bernie Sanders in Philadelphia next week. He has not suspended his campaign. The super-delegates will decide.
UPDATE: Apparently Donald Trump wants to live in the White House, but hopes to outsource the actual job of being President to Mike Pence.
My favorite song turned 45 yesterday:
Worst National Security Advisor Ever
Politico provides even more evidence, some of which was left out of the 9/11 Commission’s report, that the Worst President Ever had the Worst National Security Advisor Ever. Not that we needed any more evidence.
By May of 2001, says Cofer Black, then chief of the CIA’s counterterrorism center, “it was very evident that we were going to be struck, we were gonna be struck hard and lots of Americans were going to die.”
…The drama of failed warnings began when Tenet and Black pitched a plan, in the spring of 2001, called “the Blue Sky paper” to Bush’s new national security team. It called for a covert CIA and military campaign to end the Al Qaeda threat—“getting into the Afghan sanctuary, launching a paramilitary operation, creating a bridge with Uzbekistan.” “And the word back,” says Tenet, “‘was ‘we’re not quite ready to consider this. We don’t want the clock to start ticking.’” (Translation: they did not want a paper trail to show that they’d been warned.)
…That morning of July 10, the head of the agency’s Al Qaeda unit, Richard Blee, burst into Black’s office. “And he says, ‘Chief, this is it. Roof’s fallen in,’” recounts Black. “The information that we had compiled was absolutely compelling. It was multiple-sourced. And it was sort of the last straw.” Black and his deputy rushed to the director’s office to brief Tenet. All agreed an urgent meeting at the White House was needed. Tenet picked up the white phone to Bush’s National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. “I said, ‘Condi, I have to come see you,’” Tenet remembers. “It was one of the rare times in my seven years as director where I said, ‘I have to come see you. We’re comin’ right now. We have to get there.’”
Tenet vividly recalls the White House meeting with Rice and her team. (George W. Bush was on a trip to Boston.) “Rich [Blee] started by saying, ‘There will be significant terrorist attacks against the United States in the coming weeks or months. The attacks will be spectacular. They may be multiple. Al Qaeda’s intention is the destruction of the United States.’” [Condi said:] ‘What do you think we need to do?’ Black responded by slamming his fist on the table, and saying, ‘We need to go on a wartime footing now!’”
“What happened?” I ask Cofer Black. “Yeah. What did happen?” he replies. “To me it remains incomprehensible still. I mean, how is it that you could warn senior people so many times and nothing actually happened? It’s kind of like The Twilight Zone.”
Just as a reminder, several of the al-Qaeda operatives involved in the 9/11 terror plot were already in the USA. Their identities were known to the FBI. If the Bush administration had heeded the numerous warnings, could the pieces of the puzzle have come together before September 11, 2001?
Andrew Bacevich: On Building Armies (and Watching Them Fail)
First came Fallujah, then Mosul, and later Ramadi in Iraq. Now, there is Kunduz, a provincial capital in northern Afghanistan. In all four places, the same story has played out: in cities that newspaper reporters like to call “strategically important,” security forces trained and equipped by the U.S. military at great expense simply folded, abandoning their posts (and much of their U.S.-supplied weaponry) without even mounting serious resistance. Called upon to fight, they fled. In each case, the defending forces gave way before substantially outnumbered attackers, making the outcomes all the more ignominious.
“Vietnamization,” the U.S policy that ended in abject failure with the fall of Saigon in 1975, proved that training, weapons, and equipment can never make up for a deficit of will. Also, a weak state with dubious legitimacy can’t be propped up for very long by military force. Jump to the conclusion:
What are the policy implications of giving up the illusion that the Pentagon knows how to build foreign armies? The largest is this: subletting war no longer figures as a plausible alternative to waging it directly. So where U.S. interests require that fighting be done, like it or not, we’re going to have to do that fighting ourselves. By extension, in circumstances where U.S. forces are demonstrably incapable of winning or where Americans balk at any further expenditure of American blood — today in the Greater Middle East both of these conditions apply — then perhaps we shouldn’t be there.
Bacevich doesn’t address the fiasco of the so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels, armed and trained by the U.S., who promptly surrendered and turned over all their equipment to al-Qaeda. The Pentagon recently announced the end of that misbegotten military aid effort (which was probably undertaken solely to make Senator John McCain happy, as if).