Politically Correct as in Post-Clinton

Donna Brazile's revelations* didn't come as a surprise. Everybody knew that the Clintons sank the party they helped reform a quarter of a century earlier. Well we knew for the political part, but the financial dimension is so much engrained in their fabric that this latest scandal makes perfect sense.

I don't feel sorry for Bernie Sanders, who would have lost anyway, but for a country that should never have lost its most vital institutions to its worst enemies.

I'm glad this comes out now. Not as a distraction to the Russia probe, but to silence Hillary, who hijacked the conversation thanks to her book tour, poisoning minds with the notion that the DNC remains totally under her spell. 

We badly need different voices. Obama yes, but only on rare occasions, and on essential issues. We don't need grandparents in the Pelosi - Biden - Sanders variety (if they're over 65, make them fun listening to, like Liz Warren or Al Franken - what a 2020 ticket!). We need fresh, new voices, like Kamala Harris, Chris Murphy, or better Deval Patrick, should he return to politics. And the Democratic Party must totally reform itself. Otherwise, the Barry Sanderses, Oprah Winfreys, or Mark Zuckerbergs will dance on its grave.

Can Al Franken draw the US electoral map as well?

Of course, same goes for Republicans, who must step into the post-Trump era before DJT destroys what's left of it. For the moment, the GOP's soul relies on a 81 year-old with brain cancer (John McCain), two senators on the way out (Jeff Flake with a better potential than filpflop Bob Corker), and the one cool guy who could change it all, Ben Sasse.

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* "Inside Hillary Clinton’s Secret Takeover of the DNC" - Politico 20171102 exceprts from her book


Wall Street v. Wall Street

Here we are again, on the eve of massive asset bubbles purges. And as always (see for instance "Mondialisation : du "free market" au "fair market" - 20070726, "This is not a financial crisis" - 20080711*):
  • This is not a financial crisis, but a crisis of finance
  • This is not an economic crisis, but a crisis of economics
  • This is not a political crisis, but a crisis of politics. 
Which means, as always, that:
  • we will not solve anything by rejecting finance, economy, and politics - that's exactly what brought us the rise of extremism and populism, Brexit, or of course Trump.
  • we must to the contrary embrace finance, economy, and politics - at their core, starting from  their definitions, exposing smokescreens and impostures, demanding transparency and accountability.
So what happened after Lehman? Further desertion by people with basic notions of economics, or at least traces of common sense (I won't even mention 'moral compasses'). If it weren't for the A.I. algorythms and high-frequency trading that amplify and perpetuate the illusion, the most blatant bubbles would have probably alreaday burst years ago.
DJI chart (2nd biggest component after Boeing, Goldman Sachs weighs 11.6 times more than GE)

Nasdaq - better real/virtual ratio than before the dotcom crisis, but Apple (14.6% of the index, 4.9% of the DJI) and co will eventually meet reality.

Politicians? They totally surrendered. Back in 2009, they still had the power to change things by injecting tens of billions of dollars, and by passing a few legal safeguards - but now governments are weaker than ever, and they let their agenda be set by the very firms they bailed out without actually purging the system. 

Exhibit A: Goldman Sachs, who were instrumental in frauds leading to major crises (e.g. betting against toxic assets they helped create, or forging figures with the Greek government), are now stronger than ever, and still runnig the show (Steven Mnuchin, Gary Cohn, Mario Draghi, Robert Zoellick, Jose Manuel Barroso...). They aim at becoming the alpha and omega, or rather the Alphabet of finance since, like google, they're investing massively in A.I. to comfort their leadership.

Beyond this caricature, our financial systems rejected finance as an enabler for the economy. Not just Wall Street against Main Street, but ultimately Wall Street against Wall Street*. Emboldened by impunity (except maybe in Iceland, that lone country where The People put corrupt politicians and banksters in jail), these guys prolonged the bailouts with a wonderful invention, Quantitative Easings: after emptying governmental chests, they simply decided to print money for themselves - officially to fuel the economy, but actually to improve already indecent balance sheets, and to widen wealth (and reality) gaps in abyssal proportions. They brought back derivatives, fantasy league ratings, or gambling, and they're gutting Dodd-Frank like they gutted Glass-Stiegel.

What happened after Lehman was Lehman on steroids.

What happens next is for history books. 

And if by 'miracle' these guys manage to prevent the fall until after the Mid-term elections, all bets are off.

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* also 'the ultimate stage of free market is the negation of the market' ("Le stade ultime du libéralisme, c'est la négation du marché (le déni d'économie continue") - 20110302) 


We will build a firewall, or America will pay for it

Everybody knows that Donald Trump, obstructing justice in plain sight and tweets, tries to get rid of Robert Mueller and the Russia investigation he brought upon himself.

Everybody knows that Trump could fire the special counsel, but would then face a backlash tenfold more damaging than the one following James Comey's eviction. He tried to sic his lawyers on Mueller, and to have AG Rod Rosenstein recuse himself, but can't wait to have a friendly, unrecusable, and unbeleaguered successor to Jeff Sessions to stop, torpedo, or at least hack into the investigation. 

Everybody knows that Trump doesn't want to own Session's departure, and bullies him into resigning. So far, he only succeeded in drawing more support for his AG, even from his fiercest enemies.

So here's Trump's latest not-so-subtle attempt: reviving Session's sulfurous past to make him despicable enough to everyone that counts, except of course to their common white supremacist base. Asking Jeff Sessions to solve racial discrimination is like asking Scott Pruitt to solve climate change - recipe for disaster of biblical proportions (BTW tighten your Bible belt on that one).

"Obviously, tries to use ' past to put him on an even hotter seat and discard him" (CNN: "NYT: Trump administration prepares to investigate 'race-based discrimination')" (20170802 - twitter.com/stephanemot/status/892624598654701568)
In the same nauseating breath, and as usual, Trump sparks outrage in a new direction to out-do the outrage surrounding his own persona. Huffington Post's Chris York went as far as to suggest that the Anthony Scaramucci comedia del arte was part of a plot to divert attention from Bill Browder's key testimony*.

ICYMI during his hearing at the Senate, Browder exposed the Putin system that killed Sergei Magnitsky, connecting many dots in the Russiagate: Donald Trump Jr, Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort attended a meeting that not only aimed at helping a foreign power influence the US elections, but also at serving the wealthiest man on Earth, the capo di tutti capi, and ultimate corruptor, Vladimir Putin. Repealing and replacing the Magnitsky act is not about improving adoption, but about saving Putin's business. And we're not talking about superrich emirates bribing their way into the West to gain influence, but about an autocrat determined to destroy Western democracies.

Everybody knows that Trump, his family, and friends, are almost openly corrupting the US democracy in ways that reach far beyond money (even if, right on cue, Mueller team announced that Greg Andres, an expert in foreign bribery**, would join the investigation).

Everybody knows that the GOP sold its soul to the devil, and can't kick the can down the road endlessly. 

At least, not all GOP lawmakers remain "Speechless": Jeff Flake delivered a courageous mea culpa for his party's - and his own - shameless denials and betrayals. 

I must digress here, because Flake waited until after the failed Trumpcare vote to take a stand, and I have to say something about someone who played a pivotal role in this vote. I was sad to learn about John McCain's health, and even sadder to see this old lion disgrace himself once more by voting for the House's s..t of paper (he sank much deeper in 2008 by pledging allegiance to the Discovery Institute, and later by picking Sarah Palin). McCain's (final?) thumb down showed that he cared, and not just about his legacy. 

McCain also happens to be the strongest voice around against Putin.

If the sanctions against Russia put some important issues on paper, they're just indirect measures against enemies of the State Trump and Putin. They cowardly expose how much trust GOP lawmakers have in Trump, who reluctantly signed it while declaring it unconstitutional (ironically, by signing, he was precisely, and for a change, preserving the constitution). Impicitely, the GOP recognized a man who doesn't want the buck to stop here, but in Moscow.

These sanctions are a timid start, but America must build a much stronger wall to save itself from Trump and Putin. Indeed, we must build a firewall, or America will pay for it.

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* "Bill Browder’s Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing Could Explain Anthony Scaramucci’s Bizarre Behaviour" (Huffington Post UK - 20170731) 
** "Greg Andres: Latest lawyer appointed to join Robert Mueller's Russia investigation team has background in foreign bribery" (Independent - 20170802)


I will vote for France

France votes tomorrow. 
I will vote against Marine Le Pen, because France and democracy must be protected from the most dangerous impostors.
I will vote for Emmanuel Macron, because this nation, Europe, and the world need positive people who reach for each other right now.

PS - My take at this defining moment (in French) : "La France ou Poutine ?"

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The Swamp Thing

This White House Correspondents' Dinner started on a weird note, and not just because of that 'elephant not in the room', who left his usual personal swamps (WH, Mar-a-Lago) for PA*.

Jeff Mason ruined a night he thought was for him instead of for press freedom, journalism, and the first amendment. The head of the WHCA led as if the show were a middle school gathering, before leaving the mike to Carl Bernstein, who elevated the debate, and to Bob Woodward, who reached one notch higher, while laying the first light touches of humor.

Then Hasan Minhaj hijacked the party, and saved the night.

Here he was, a fake reporter unsettling the cream of the elite of journalists not used to be the butt of the joke on that so special night.

Mihaj certainly didn't spare Trump, Spicer, Putin, or Bannon - he put positive pressure on the media to balance the negative one these enemies of democracy keep pouring on them: I'm just a comedian, I'm just a mirror exposing your flaws, so stop being just a mirror reflecting what these guys throw at you, and do your job. I don't want to watch CNN just watch the news. And I don't want people who watch us tonight to just watch me watching you watching the news. We all have to up our games.

We the media, we the satirists, and we the people.

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* The Donald, who is not as environmental friendly as the actual Swamp Thing, left his usual personal swamps (WH, Mar-a-Lago) for PA:

"Trump is so weak he called another victory lap meeting because that was the only thing he knew would prevent him from watching WHCD 2017" (twitter.com/stephanemot/status/858491052470149120)



Imagine just for one second the reaction of GOP lawmakers if we replaced in the news Donald Trump, Jared Kushner, and Devin Nunes with Hillary Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, and Adam Schiff.

Everybody would chant 'lock'em up', and demand the immediate resignation / impeachment for agents of Putin and Russia who blatantly betray the nation. Instead, all Republicans but John McCain cower away, scared s..tless (beyond speechless) by The Bully In Chief, a Breitbart Attack, or the perspective of Alt-right Primaries.

Garry Kasparov nailed it best last week, mocking the way some fuel Trump's fake news on wiretapping instead of focusing on the outrageous case being investigated:

Garry Kasparov: 'The house is on fire, Trump is running around with a box of matches, and the GOP demands to know who called the fire department' (20170321)
With the help of Nunes, and the complicity of Paul Ryan and GOP representatives not ashamed one bit by their bruising Trumpcare fiasco, The Donald manages to survive yet another day.

Better: he keeps alienating moderates by pushing all the hardest buttons at the same time. What could you expect from a man who picked a racist for Justice (Jeff Sessions), a Russian agent for the NSA (Mike Flynn), or a climate change denier for the EPA (Scott Pruitt)?

Will the Senate intel committee fare any better? Richard Burr and Mark Warner seem a bit more serious about their investigation, and maybe GOP Senators want to send a message to their House friends: get your speech together if you want to make progress on any non hidden agenda.

In France, at least, things are getting a bit more transparent: on the nepotism side, Penelope Fillon has offically been charged, and on the mole side, Marine Le Pen has officially posed with Vladimir Putin himself.

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We Reject As False

Barack Obama's farewell speech echoed his inaugural address, and that powerful 'we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals'*. If 44 didn't always honor this beautiful principle (tough call in those cyberwar - drone times), it rightfully frames a presidency bordered by George W. Bush and Donald Trump, who deliberately put America's safety at risk to undermine its ideals and democracy.

Unlike W or Mike Pence, Trump doesn't seem to be a fundamentalist aiming for theocracy - but his vision also leads to the destruction of all balances of powers (executive, legislative, justice, media, citizen rights...), and all alarm buttons seem to confirm that he is working for Vladimir Putin.

Only Republicans have the power to safeguard democracy or at least transparency, yet their indecent silence during the pivotal transition bodes ill for the nation. And the few significant exceptions (e.g. John McCain, or less convincingly Marco Rubio) shall not suffice.

At least, the relationship between the Trump Campaign and Russia will be investigated by a bipartisan commission, and that's the best news so far. Particularly when you consider that Trump has already announced that, three months from now, a report debunking the intel unanimously pointing the fingers at his Kremlin pal will be completed by his team... most likely under the watch of Michael Flynn, the very agent Putin put in charge of overlooking the NSA and co...

If you feel like crying, please do. Let it go for awhile.

You're allowed to dream about the transition that should have happened. With Hillary Clinton, or if Beau had been around a bit longer, with Joe Biden, who would have taken Donald Trump not only behind the gym, but it the spotlights he so much craves for.

Obama: 'here's your medal, Joe'
Biden: 'thanks, but I didn't even run...'

But we can't afford to seek refuge in alternate history, and let the alt-right set the agenda.

"So let's be vigilant, but not afraid".

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* see "True v. False vs Good v. Evil" - speaking of echo, Chicago almost ruined this farewell address with a disastrous sound system.


2016 blogules

Below, a list of blogules spilled over the year 2016. A far cry from the heyday, but I post way more often on Twitter (@stephanemot, @theseoulvillage...).

NB : for the comprehensive lists of blogules (2003 - to date), go to the bottom of this post or to the blogules transfusion center.

. "GOP Implosion (continued)
. "New York in the bag
. "Cenotaphs, shrines, and an obituary of Japan democracy
. "Constitutionless
. "It's all about character
. "EXCLUSIVE: Donald's live tweets during the first debate
. "Donald vs Trump
. "Alt Right Or Alt Trump?
. "Happy New Year 2018          

Previous seasons: 

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Happy New Year 2018

It's that time of the year, and for the 18th time*, I have no choice but to wish you a happy next year, considering what's going to happen in 2017:

January 2017:

On the 20th, Vladimir Putin is sworn in as the 45th POTUS.
Donald Trump is swearing in the background.

February 2017:

In the final moments of Superbowl LI in Houston, the Moscow Hackers upset the New York Trumps as Barron Trump fumbles Mike Pence's Hail Mary pass.

March 2017:

Theresa May triggers Article 50, but Brexit backfires, and the UK lands into a limbo known as Breshold.

April 2017:

Galaxy S8 sells like hotcakes, and as hotcake warmers. Meanwhile, Apple celebrates its 100,000th iPhone 7 explosion without a recall, and Huawei posts record sales of its latest stylus, the Frying Pen.

May 2017:

In the French presidential elections, Putin friend Francois Fillon defeats Putin-friendly Marine Le Pen. After so many good news, Vladimir Putin dies of a heart attack.

June 2017:

The 46th President of the United States, Mike Pence, scares Ruth Bader Ginsburg to death before nominating a fundamentalist to replace her.

July 2017:

Vice-President Donald Trump and former Vice-President Dan Quayle form a rock band called 'The Unpresidented Potatoe'.

August 2017:

Usain Bolt is prevented from taking part to the Athletics World Championships in London, and a Luxembourgian wins the 100 meter dash following the publication of JamaicaLeaks, RussiaLeaks, AmericaLeaks, and Breleaks.

September 2017:

Following successful terror/ fake news campaigns fueled by ISIS, Dmitry Medvedev, and Breitbart Deutschland, Angela Merkel loses the German federal elections to Frauke Petry (AfD), who invites Donald Trump to her victory lap in Nuremberg.

October 2017:

At long last, JFK assassination records are disclosed. DJT says he'll release his tax returns in 2070.

November 2017:

A few months into power, the new South Korean president is impeached following the revelation that he was the only leader of a democracy not to be under the influence of Russia.

December 2017:

The Nobel Peace Prize goes to Rodrigo Duterte. Russia denies any involvement in the hacking of the Nobel Committee.

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* see "Happy New Year 2010" (Jan 2009), "Happy New Year 2011" (Dec 2009), "Happy New Year 2012" (Dec 2010), "Happy New Year 2013" (Dec 2011), "Happy New Year 2014" (Dec 2012), "Happy New Year 2015" (Dec 2013), "Happy New Year 2016" (Dec 2014), "Happy New Year 2017" (Dec 2015), "Happy New Year 2018" (Dec 2016)... and in French: "Bonne Année 2009" (Jan 2008), "Bonne Année 2010" (Dec 2008), "Bonne Année 2011" (Dec 2009), "Bonne Année 2012" (Dec 2010), "Bonne Année 2013" (Dec 2011), "Bonne Année 2014" (Dec 2012), "Bonne Année 2015" (Dec 2013), "Bonne Année 2016" (Dec 2014), "Bonne année 2017" (Dec 2015), "Bonne année 2018" (Dec 2016).
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