wall street bailouts

My Visit to Trump’s Washington

I spent much of this past week in Washington – talking with friends still in government, former colleagues, high-ranking Democrats, a few Republican pundits, and some members of Congress from both sides of the aisle. It was my first visit to our nation’s capital since Trump became president.

My verdict:

1. Washington is more divided, angry, bewildered, and fearful – than I’ve ever seen it.

2. The angry divisions aren’t just Democrats versus Republicans. Rancor is also exploding inside the Republican Party.

3. Republicans (and their patrons in big business) no longer believe Trump will give them cover to do what they want to do. They’re becoming afraid Trump is genuinely nuts, and he’ll pull the party down with him.

4. Many Republicans are also angry at Paul Ryan, whose replacement bill for Obamacare is considered by almost everyone on Capitol Hill to be incredibly dumb.

5. I didn’t talk with anyone inside the White House, but several who have had dealings with it called it a cesspool of intrigue and fear. Apparently everyone working there hates and distrusts everyone else.

6. The Washington foreign policy establishment – both Republican and Democrat – is deeply worried about what’s happening to American foreign policy, and the worldwide perception of America being loony and rudderless. They think Trump is legitimizing far-right movements around the world.

7. Long-time civil servants are getting ready to bail. If they’re close to retirement they’re already halfway out the door. Many in their 30s and 40s are in panic mode.

8. Republican pundits think Bannon is even more unhinged than Trump, seeking to destroy democracy as we’ve known it.

9. Despite all this, no one I talked with thought a Trump impeachment likely, at least not any time soon – unless there’s a smoking gun showing Trump’s involvement in Russia’s intrusion into the election.

10. Many people asked, bewilderedly, “how did this [Trump] happen?” When I suggest it had a lot to do with the 35-year-long decline of incomes of the bottom 60 percent; the growing sense, ever since the Wall Street bailout, that the game is rigged; and the utter failure of both Republicans and Democrats to reverse these trends – they gave me blank stares.

where was your suffering?

Facebook gets a bad rap, but there’s a lot of serious shit going down there these days.  Via a friend’s reposting:


From Scott Mednick, when a Facebook friend told him, “We suffered for 8 years. Now it’s your turn.”

Scott’s reply:


"I am surprised you would wish suffering upon me. That of course is your right, I suppose. I do not wish harm on anyone. Your statement seems to continue an ‘US v THEM’ mentality. The election is over. It is important to get past campaigning and campaign rhetoric and get down to what is uniting not dividing and what is best for ALL Americans.

There will never be a President who does everything to everyone’s liking. There are things President Obama (and President Clinton) did that I do not like and conversely there are things I can point to that the Presidents Bush did that I agree with. So I am not 100% in lock step with the outgoing President but have supported him and the overall job he did.

And, if you recall, during the Presidential Campaign back in 2008 the campaign was halted because of the "historic crisis in our financial system.” Wall Street bailout negotiations intervened in the election process. The very sobering reality was that there likely could be a Depression and the world financial markets could collapse. The United States was losing 800,000 jobs a month and was poised to lose at least 10 million jobs the first year once the new President took office. We were in an economic freefall. So let us recall that ALL of America was suffering terribly at the beginning of Obama’s Presidency.

But I wanted to look back over the last 8 years and ask you a few questions. Since much of the rhetoric before Obama was elected was that he would impose Sharia Law, Take Away Your Guns, Create Death Panels, Destroy the Economy, Impose Socialism and, since you will agree that NONE of this came to pass,

I was wondering:
Why have you suffered so?

So let me ask:
Gays and Lesbians can now marry and enjoy the benefits they had been deprived of. Has this caused your suffering?

When Obama took office, the Dow was 6,626. Now it is 19,875. Has this caused your suffering?

We had 82 straight months of private sector job growth - the longest streak in the history of the United States. Has this caused your suffering?

Especially considering where he the economy was when he took over, an amazing 11.3 million new jobs were created under President Obama (far more than President Bush). Has this caused your suffering?

Obama has taken Unemployment from 10% down to 4.7%. Has this caused your suffering?

Homelessness among US Veterans has dropped by half. Has this caused your suffering?

Obama shut down the US secret overseas prisons. Has this caused your suffering?

President Obama has created a policy for the families of fallen soldiers to have their travel paid for to be there when remains are flown home. Has this caused your suffering?

We landed a rover on Mars. Has this caused your suffering?

He passed the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Has this caused your suffering?

Uninsured adults has decreased to below 10%: 90% of adults are insured - an increase of 20 Million Adults. Has this caused your suffering?

People are now covered for pre-existing conditions. Has this caused your suffering?

Insurance Premiums increased an average of $4,677 from 2002-2008, an increase of 58% under Bush. The growth of these
insurance premiums has gone up $4,145 – a slower rate of increase. Has this caused your suffering?

Obama added Billions of dollars to mental health care for our Veterans. Has this caused your suffering?

Consumer confidence has gone from 37.7 to 98.1 during Obama’s tenure. Has this caused your suffering?

He passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Has this caused your suffering?

His bi-annual Nuclear Summit convinced 16 countries to give up and destroy all their loose nuclear material so it could not be stolen. Has this caused your suffering?

He saved the US Auto industry. American cars sold at the beginning of his term were 10.4M and upon his exit 17.5M. Has this caused your suffering?

The deficit as a percentage of the GDP has gone from 9.8% to 3.2%. Has this caused your suffering?

The deficit itself was cut by $800 Billion Dollars. Has this caused your suffering?

Obama preserved the middle class tax cuts. Has this caused your suffering?

Obama banned solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prisons. Has this caused your suffering?

He signed Credit Card reform so that rates could not be raised without you being notified. Has this caused your suffering?

He outlawed Government contractors from discriminating against LGBT persons. Has this caused your suffering?

He doubled Pell Grants. Has this caused your suffering?

Abortion is down. Has this caused your suffering?

Violent crime is down. Has this caused your suffering?

He overturned the scientific ban on stem cell research. Has this caused your suffering?

He protected Net Neutrality. Has this caused your suffering?

Obamacare has extended the life of the Medicare insurance trust fund (will be solvent until 2030). Has this caused your suffering?

President Obama repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Has this caused your suffering?

He banned torture. Has this caused your suffering?

He negotiated with Syria to give up its chemical weapons and they were destroyed. Has this caused your suffering?

Solar and Wind Power are at an all time high. Has this caused your suffering?

High School Graduation rates hit 83% - an all time high. Has this caused your suffering?

Corporate profits are up by 144%. Has this caused your suffering?

He normalized relations with Cuba. Has this caused your suffering?

Reliance on foreign oil is at a 40 year low. Has this caused your suffering?

US Exports are up 28%. Has this caused your suffering?

He appointed the most diverse cabinet ever. Has this caused your suffering?

He reduced the number of troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Has this caused your suffering?

Yes, he killed Osama Bin Laden and retrieved all the documents in his possession for analysis. Perhaps THIS caused your suffering?

From an objective standpoint it would appear that the last 8 years have seen some great progress and we were saved from a financial collapse. Things are not perfect. Things can always be better. We are on much better footing now than we were in 2008.

I look forward to understanding what caused you to suffer so much under Obama these last 8 years.“

A great response to a bully

This is the response from one FB friend to another, a Trump supporter, who said: “We suffered for 8 years. Now it’s your turn.”

His reply:

"I am surprised you would wish suffering upon me because I did not support Trump. That of course is your right, I suppose. I do not wish harm on anyone.
Your statement seems to continue an ‘US v THEM’ mentality. The election is over. It is important to get past campaigning and campaign rhetoric and get down to what is uniting not dividing and what is best for ALL Americans.
There will never be a President who does everything to everyone’s liking. There are things President Obama (and President Clinton) did that I do not like and conversely there are things I can point to that the Presidents Bush did that I agree with. So I am not 100% in lock step with the outgoing President but have supported him and the overall job he did.
And, if you recall, during the Presidential Campaign back in 2008 the campaign was halted because of the "historic crisis in our financial system.”
Wall Street bailout negotiations intervened in the election process. The very sobering reality was that there likely could be a Depression and the world financial markets could collapse. The United States was losing 800,000 jobs a month and was poised to lose at least 10 million jobs the first year once the new President took office. We were in an economic freefall. So let us recall that ALL of America was suffering terribly at the beginning of Obama’s Presidency.
But I wanted to look back over the last 8 years and ask you a few questions. Since much of the rhetoric before Obama was elected was that he would impose Sharia Law, Take Away Your Guns, Create Death Panels, Destroy the Economy, Impose Socialism and, since you will agree that NONE of this came to pass, I was wondering:
Why have you suffered so?
So let me ask:
Gays and Lesbians can now marry and enjoy the benefits they had been deprived. Has this caused your suffering?
When Obama took office the Dow was 6,626. Now it is 19,875. Has this caused your suffering?
We have 82 straight months of private sector job growth - the longest streak in the history of the United States. Has this caused your suffering?
Especially considering where he the economy was when he took over, an amazing 11.3 million new jobs were created under
President Obama (far more than President Bush). Has this caused your suffering?
Obama has taken Unemployment from 10% down to 4.7%. Has this caused your suffering?
Homelessness among US Veterans has dropped by half. Has this caused your suffering?
Obama shut down the US secret overseas prisons. Has this caused your suffering?
President Obama has created a policy for the families of fallen soldiers to have their travel paid for to be there when remains are flown home. Has this caused your suffering?
We landed a rover on Mars. Has this caused your suffering?
He passed the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Has this caused your suffering?
Uninsured adults has decreased to below 10%: 90% of adults are insured - an increase of 20 Million Adults. Has this caused your suffering?
People are now covered for pre-existing conditions. Has this caused your suffering?
Insurance Premiums increased an average of $4,677 form 2002-2008 an increase of 58% under Bush. The growth of these
insurance premiums have gone up $4,145 – a slower rate of increase. Has this caused your suffering?
Obama added Billions of dollars to mental health care for our Veterans. Has this caused your suffering?
Consumer confidence has gone from 37.7 to 98.1 during Obama’s tenure. Has this caused your suffering?
He passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Has this caused your suffering?
His bi-annual Nuclear Summit convinced 16 countries to give up and destroy all their loose nuclear material so it could not be stolen. Has this caused your suffering?
He saved the US Auto industry. American cars sold at the beginning of his term was 10.4M and upon his exit 17.5M. Has this caused your suffering?
The deficit as a percentage of the GDP has gone from 9.8% to 3.2%. Has this caused your suffering?
The deficit itself was cut by $800 Billion Dollars. Has this caused your suffering?
Obama preserved the middle class tax cuts. Has this caused your suffering?
Obama banned solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prisons. Has this caused your suffering?
He signed Credit Card reform so that rates could not be raised without you being notified. Has this caused your suffering?
He outlawed Government contractors from discriminating against LGBT persons. Has this caused your suffering?
He doubled Pell Grants. Has this caused your suffering?
Abortion is down. Has this caused your suffering?
Violent crime is down. Has this caused your suffering?
He overturned the scientific ban on stem cell research. Has this caused your suffering?
He protected Net Neutrality. Has this caused your suffering?
Obamacare has extended the life of the Medicare insurance trust fund (will be solvent until 2030). Has this caused your suffering?
Prescient Obama repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Has this caused your suffering?
He banned torture. Has this caused your suffering?
He negotiated with Syria to give up its chemical weapons and they were destroyed. Has this caused your suffering?
Solar and Wind Power are at an all time high. Has this caused your suffering?
High School Graduation rates hit 83% - an all time high. Has this caused your suffering?
Corporate profits are up by 144%. Has this caused your suffering?
He normalized relationships with Cuba. Has this caused your suffering?
Reliance on foreign oil is at a 40 year low. Has this caused your suffering?
US Exports are up 28%. Has this caused your suffering?
He appointed the most diverse cabinet ever. Has this caused your suffering?
He reduced the number of troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Has this caused your suffering?
Yes, he killed Osama Bin Laden and retrieved all the documents in his possession for analysis. Perhaps THIS caused your suffering?
From an objective standpoint it would appear that the last 8 years have seen some great progress and we were saved from a financial collapse.
Things are not perfect.
Things can always be better.
We are on much better footing now than we were in 2008.
I look forward to understanding what caused you to suffer so much under Obama these last 8 years.“
(He has not replied as of this writing)
via JoBeth Williams

Why We Must Try

Instead of “Yes we can,” many Democrats have adopted a new slogan this election year: “We shouldn’t even try.”

We shouldn’t try for single-payer system, they say. We’ll be lucky if we prevent Republicans from repealing Obamacare.

We shouldn’t try for a $15 an hour minimum wage. The best we can do is $12 an hour.

We shouldn’t try to restore the Glass-Steagall Act that used to separate investment and commercial banking, or bust up the biggest banks. We’ll be lucky to stop Republicans from repealing Dodd-Frank.

We shouldn’t try for free public higher education. As it is, Republicans are out to cut all federal education spending.

We shouldn’t try to tax carbon or speculative trades on Wall Street, or raise taxes on the wealthy. We’ll be fortunate to just maintain the taxes already in place.

Most of all, we shouldn’t even try to get big money out of politics. We’ll be lucky to round up enough wealthy people to back Democratic candidates.  

“We-shouldn’t-even-try” Democrats think it’s foolish to aim for fundamental change – pie-in-the-sky, impractical, silly, naïve, quixotic. Not in the cards. No way we can.

I understand their defeatism. After eight years of Republican intransigence and six years of congressional gridlock, many Democrats are desperate just to hold on to what we have.

And ever since the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” decision opened the political floodgates to big corporations, Wall Street, and right-wing billionaires, many Democrats have concluded that bold ideas are unachievable.

In addition, some establishment Democrats – Washington lobbyists, editorial writers, inside-the-beltway operatives, party leaders, and big contributors – have grown comfortable with the way things are. They’d rather not rock the boat they’re safely in.

I get it, but here’s the problem. There’s no way to reform the system without rocking the boat. There’s no way to get to where America should be without aiming high.

Progressive change has never happened without bold ideas championed by bold idealists.

Some thought it was quixotic to try for civil rights and voting rights. Some viewed it as naïve to think we could end the Vietnam War. Some said it was unrealistic to push for the Environmental Protection Act.

But time and again we’ve learned that important public goals can be achieved – if the public is mobilized behind them. And time and again such mobilization has depended on the energies and enthusiasm of young people combined with the determination and tenacity of the rest. 

If we don’t aim high we have no chance of hitting the target, and no hope of mobilizing that enthusiasm and determination. 

The situation we’re in now demands such mobilization. Wealth and income are more concentrated at the top than in over a century. And that wealth has translated into political power.

The result is an economy rigged in favor of those at the top – which further compounds wealth and power at the top, in a vicious cycle that will only get worse unless reversed.

Americans pay more for pharmaceuticals than the citizens of any other advanced nation, for example. We also pay more for Internet service. And far more for health care.

We pay high prices for airline tickets even though fuel costs have tumbled. And high prices for food even though crop prices have declined.

That’s because giant companies have accumulated vast market power. Yet the nation’s antitrust laws are barely enforced.  

Meanwhile, the biggest Wall Street banks have more of the nation’s banking assets than they did in 2008, when they were judged too big to fail.

Hedge-fund partners get tax loopholes, oil companies get tax subsidies, and big agriculture gets paid off.

Bankruptcy laws protect the fortunes of billionaires like Donald Trump but not the homes of underwater homeowners or the savings of graduates burdened with student loans.

A low minimum wage enhances the profits of big-box retailers like Walmart, but requires the rest of us provide its employees and their families with food stamps and Medicaid in order to avoid poverty – an indirect subsidy of Walmart. 

Trade treaties protect the assets and intellectual property of big corporations but not the jobs and wages of ordinary workers.

At the same time, countervailing power is disappearing. Labor union membership has plummeted from a third of all private-sector workers in the 1950s to fewer than 7 percent today. Small banks have been absorbed into global financial behemoths. Small retailers don’t stand a chance against Walmart and Amazon.

And the pay of top corporate executives continues to skyrocket, even as most peoples’ real wages drop and their job security vanishes.

This system is not sustainable.

We must get big money out of our democracy, end crony capitalism, and make our economy and democracy work for the many, not just the few.

But change on this scale requires political mobilization.

It won’t be easy. It has never been easy. As before, it will require the energies and commitments of large numbers of Americans.

Which is why you shouldn’t listen to the “we-must-not-try” brigade. They’ve lost faith in the rest of us.

We must try.  We have no choice.

youtube

The Speech That Could Make Elizabeth Warren the Next President of the United States

Posted: 12/13/2014 4:26 am EST Updated: 12/13/2014 11:59 am EST 

ELIZABETH WARREN

Early Friday evening Sen. Elizabeth Warren took to the Senate floor and gave a plain-spoken, barn-burning speech that could make history and put her into serious contention to be the next President of the United States.

There are only a handful of political speeches that have such historic impact. 

Barack Obama’s keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention comes readily to mind.

It’s what catapulted an obscure Illinois state Senator into the national limelight and put him on the path to becoming President.

Warren’s Senate speech was different, but just as electrifying.

Obama’s rhetoric was lofty, high-minded, and general, with a feel-good unifying message that there’s no blue America or red America but only the United States of America.

Warren’s rhetoric is more down to earth, substantive, and frankly, angrier, unafraid of calling out by name the institutions–the big banks and Citigroup in particular–which tanked the economy, cost millions of Americans their jobs and homes, were bailed out with half a trillion dollars of taxpayer money, and then used their fortunes to buy Congress and make it more likely they’ll be bailed out again. 

Moreover, she was unafraid to take on the President of her own party, and the numerous members of his administration drawn from Citigroup and other big banks through the endless revolving door between Washington and Wall Street.

Here’s the heart of Warren’s speech:

“Democrats don’t like Wall Street bailouts.

Republicans don’t like Wall Street bailouts. 

The American people are disgusted by Wall Street bailouts.

And yet here we are, five years after Dodd-Frank with Congress on the verge of ramming through a provision that would do nothing for the middle class, do nothing for community banks, do nothing but raise the risk that taxpayers will have to bail out the biggest banks once again…

So let me say this to anyone who is listening at Citi[group]. I agree with you Dodd-Frank isn’t perfect.

It should have broken you into pieces!

If this Congress is going to open up Dodd-Frank in the months ahead, then let’s open it up to get tougher, not to create more bailout opportunities. 

If we’re going to open up Dodd-Frank, let’s open it up so that once and for all we end too big to fail and I mean really end it, not just say that we did.

Instead of passing laws that create new bailout opportunities for too big to fail banks, let’s pass…something…that would help break up these giant banks.

A century ago Teddy Roosevelt was America’s Trust-Buster. 

He went after the giant trusts and monopolies in this country, and a lot of people talk about how those trust deserved to be broken up because they had too much economic power. 

But Teddy Roosevelt said we should break them up because they had too much political power. 

Teddy Roosevelt said break them up because all that concentrated power threatens the very foundations up our democratic system.

And now we’re watching as Congress passes yet another provision that was written by lobbyists for the biggest recipient of bailout money in the history of this country. 

And its attached to a bill that needs to pass or else we entire federal government will grind to a halt.

Think about that kind of power. 

If a financial institution has become so big and so powerful that it can hold the entire country hostage, that alone is reason enough to break them up.

Enough is enough.

Enough is enough with Wall Street insiders getting key position after key position and the kind of cronyism that we have seen in the executive branch. 

Enough is enough with Citigroup passing 11th hour deregulatory provisions that nobody takes ownership over but everybody will come to regret. 

Enough is enough.

Washington already works really well for the billionaires and the big corporations and the lawyers and the lobbyists.

But what about the families who lost their homes or their jobs or their retirement savings the last time Citigroup bet big on derivatives and lost? 

What about the families who are living paycheck to paycheck and saw their tax dollars go to bail out Citi just 6 years ago?

We were sent here to fight for those families. 

It is time, it is past time, for Washington to start working for them!”…

Please take less than 10 minutes of your time to watch the speech below. 

Like Obama’s 2004 Convention speech, it was an historic speech, a potentially game changing speech. 

It catapulted Warren from a potential nuisance to Hillary Clinton’s coronation as the Democratic nominee to someone who could foreseeably win the nomination and even the Presidency.

It transformed the conventional wisdom about American politics that the main divide is between left, right, and center, when it is really between pro-corporate and anti-corporate. 

Her declaration that neither Democrats nor Republicans (meaning the voters, not the Washington politicians) don’t like bank bailouts rings loud and true. 

Tea party supporters don’t like bailouts and crony capitalism any more that progressives do.

The conventional wisdom is that to win white working and middle class voters, politicians need to move towards the center, meaning towards a more corporate approach. 

But in a world of growing inequality, stagnating wages, and a fading belief that with hard work your children can have a better life than you had, that may no longer be true.

Hillary Clinton represents the old politics of the status quo and accommodation to Wall Street’s power. 

Her husband’s Treasury Secretary was former Goldman Sachs exec Robert Rubin. 

After leading Pres. Clinton’s effort to dismantle the half-century old Glass-Steagel prohibition on government-insured commercial banks engaging in risky speculative bets which enabled the creation of financial megaliths like Citigroup, he went on to earn $126 million as a senior executive for Citigroup and brokered Citigroup’s ½ Trillion Dollar bailout. 

His protégé, Timothy Geithner became Barack Obama’s Treasury Secretary where he opposed breaking up the big banks who had cratered the economy.

Elizabeth Warren represents a new politics in which, by challenging the power of the oligarchy, she has the potential of reclaiming the white working class for Democrats and uniting them with the coalition of professionals, single women, gays and minorities who elected Obama. 

She is the first major national politician in decades who is willing to openly challenge the power of the Wall Street oligarchy, in the manner of Franklin Delano Roosevelt who declared, “They are unanimous in their hate for me – and I welcome their hatred.”

With the increasingly dominant power of big money in politics, could Warren defeat Clinton, Inc. and then go on to defeat what is likely to be the near unanimous support of the Wall Street and corporate elite for her Republican opponent? 

It’s hard to say. 

But the nation is in too much trouble to settle for a Democratic or Republican candidate of the corporatist status quo. 

If there’s any hope, it’s that once in a while the power of organized people can defeat the power of organized money. 

Elizabeth Warren represents that hope and it’s the only thing worth hoping for.

Watch Warren’s 9:43 second speech below. 

If you’re fed up with the power of Wall Street and the big banks, it will inspire you. 

And even if you aren’t, watch it for its importance as a model of historically transformative political rhetoric.

http://youtu.be/DJpTxONxvoo

Tim Geithner and the Wall Street Bailout Redux

Timothy Geithner’s new book about the financial crisis, “Stress Test,” is basically an argument that the Wall Street bailout succeeded. That’s hardly surprising, given that Geithner was in charge of the bailout when Treasury Secretary (as was his predecessor at Treasury, Hank Paulson), and so has an inherent interest in telling the public it succeeded.

Even so, the bailout clearly did succeed, if success means avoiding another Great Depression.

But another Great Depression might have been avoided if the crisis had been handled differently – for example, by allowing the bankruptcy laws to do what they were intended to do, and forcing the big Wall Street banks to reorganize under them.

In fact, the bailout was a colossal failure in several respects Geithner barely mentions in his book, or avoids completely:  

(1) The biggest Wall Street banks are now bigger than ever, and no sane person on or off the Street now believes Washington will ever allow them to fail – which means they’ll continue to make big, risky bets because they know they can’t fail. And they’ll get even bigger because big depositors and lenders know they’ll never fail and therefore demand lower interest rates than demanded from smaller banks.

(2) No Wall Street executives have ever been prosecuted for what they did to the country, which means even more rampant irresponsibility in executive suites as well as even deeper cynicism in the public about the political power of Wall Street.

(3) The bailout helped the banks but did little or nothing for the tens of millions of Americans who lost billions of dollars in home equity and savings, and the millions more who lost their jobs. The toll was greatest on the poor and the middle class, who still haven’t recovered their losses, even though Wall Street has fully recovered (and then some). Nor have reforms been enacted that will help the middle class and the poor the next time Wall Street implodes.

So pardon me if I take issue with Tim Geithner. The bailout was a success in the narrowest terms. Seen more broadly it was a terrible failure.

We’d  have done better had we forced the biggest Wall Street banks, including the giant insurer AIG, to reorganize under bankruptcy rather than bail them out.

“When President Clinton left office, this country was running, in fact, a very significant surplus, and the projections were that we were going to continue to run a surplus. During the eight years of President Bush’s administration, for a number of reasons – the primary reasons being the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, huge tax breaks for the wealthiest people in this country, a Medicare Part D prescription drug program, the Wall Street bailout, among other things, all of which were not paid for – we saw an almost doubling of the national debt. Since President Obama has been in office, we have passed a stimulus package which has also added to the deficit and national debt.” – Senator Bernie Sanders, The Speech

The Huckster Populist

The tectonic plates of American politics are no longer moving along the old fault lines of “left” versus “right” or even Democrat versus Republican.

As we’ve seen this bizarre political year, the biggest force welling up is rage against insider elites in both parties, and against the American establishment as a whole – including the denizens of Wall Street, large corporations, and the mainstream media.

Now, with Bernie Sanders essentially out of the race, Donald Trump wants Americans to believe he’s the remaining anti-establishment candidate.

It’s smart politics but it’s a hoax.

Trump is even more of an establishment figure than Hillary Clinton – inheriting a fortune from his father, spending years bribing politicians to subsidize his hotels and casinos, and repeatedly using bankruptcy to shield his money while leaving creditors and workers holding the bag.

But Trump is also a brilliant huckster who knows his mark.

“Bernie Sanders and I are in complete accord [on] trade,“ Trump said last week in Ohio. ”[Sanders] said we’re being ripped off and I say with being ripped off. I’ve been saying it for years he’s been saying it for years. I think I am saying it even louder …. Globalization has made the financial elite who donate to politicians very wealthy. But it has left millions of our workers with nothing but poverty and heartache.”

By putting opposition to trade at the center of his economic agenda, Trump gets a twofer – landing blows against big American corporations and Wall Street, and also against the Clintons (he traces America’s economic problems to the North American Free Trade Agreement that Bill Clinton signed in 1993, and the entry of China into the World Trade Organization, which Bill Clinton supported, and says Hillary “voted for virtually every trade agreement.”)

It’s pure demagoguery. Trade isn’t to blame for the declining wages and job security of most Americans.

The real problem has been the unwillingness of the biggest beneficiaries of trade (and also of job-displacing technologies) to share the gains with the rest of America – through larger wage subsidies, stronger safety nets, better schools, and easier access to higher education. Trump’s Republican Party has been the main culprit.

Trump vows to cancel the pending Trans Pacific Partnership – “another disaster done and pushed by special interests who want to rape our country” – which Hillary Clinton praised in 2012 as “set[ting] the gold standard in trade agreements,” and then reversed herself after Sanders came out strongly against it.

Too bad Clinton delegates on the Democratic Party’s platform committee muddied the waters last week by voting down a proposal by Sanders delegates to put the party on record as opposing the TPP, noting instead that “there are a diversity of views in the party” on this matter.

The central problem with the TPP is it would penalize member nations for raising health, safety, environmental, and labor standards. But this aspect of the TPP doesn’t trouble Trump, who calls America “overregulated.”

Trump’s faux populism extends to “powerful corporations, media elites, and powerful dynasties,” who, he said last week in Pennsylvania, again echoing Sanders, have “rigged the system for their benefit will do anything and say anything to keep things exactly as they are.“

Unwittingly, the GOP establishment seems intent on proving Trump’s point. Mitt Romney condemns him, conservative media pundit George Will is deserting the Republican Party because of him, big business groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers blast him, Republican mega-donors like Paul Singer rebuke him, and Wall Street Republicans like former Goldman Sachs CEO and Bush Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson (who initiated the Wall Street bailout) announce they’re voting for Hillary Clinton.

"It’s almost – in some ways, like, I’m running against two parties,” Trump crowed recently. “The people who rigged the system are supporting Hillary Clinton.”

It’s all an act. The real Donald Trump thinks U.S. wages are too high, and has fought against the unionization of his hotel employees.

His businesses outsource abroad like mad. Most of the suits, ties and cuff links he peddles are made in China; his luxury line of furniture comes from Turkey; the crystal for his Trump Home line is produced in Slovenia.

And the real Trump is on the side of the super wealthy. He proposes to cut taxes on the rich from 39.6 percent to 25 percent, and reduce taxes on all business income to 15 percent (thereby slashing the top tax rate of hedge fund and private-equity managers from the current 23.8 percent to 15 percent).

The real Trump isn’t a populist. He’s a plutocrat. Above all, he’s a con man. And the people being conned are average working Americans who are buying Trump’s ruse of being a man of the people.

At Stake in 2016: Ending the Vicious Cycle of Wealth and Power

What’s at stake this election year? Let me put as directly as I can.

America has succumbed to a vicious cycle in which great wealth translates into political power, which generates even more wealth, and even more power.

This spiral is most apparent is declining tax rates on corporations and on top personal incomes (much in the form of wider tax loopholes), along with a profusion of government bailouts and subsidies (to Wall Street bankers, hedge-fund partners, oil companies, casino tycoons, and giant agribusiness owners, among others).

The vicious cycle of wealth and power is less apparent, but even more significant, in economic rules that now favor the wealthy.

Billionaires like Donald Trump can use bankruptcy to escape debts but average people can’t get relief from burdensome mortgage or student debt payments.

Giant corporations can amass market power without facing antitrust lawsuits (think Internet cable companies, Monsanto, Big Pharma, consolidations of health insurers and of health care corporations, Dow and DuPont, and the growing dominance of Amazon, Apple, and Google, for example). 

But average workers have lost the market power that came from joining together in unions.

It’s now easier for Wall Street insiders to profit from confidential information unavailable to small investors.

It’s also easier for giant firms to extend the length of patents and copyrights, thereby pushing up prices on everything from pharmaceuticals to Walt Disney merchandise.  

And easier for big corporations to wangle trade treaties that protect their foreign assets but not the jobs or incomes of American workers.  

It’s easier for giant military contractors to secure huge appropriations for unnecessary weapons, and to keep the war machine going.

The result of this vicious cycle is a disenfranchisement of most Americans, and a giant upward distribution of income from the middle class and poor to the wealthy and powerful.

Another consequence is growing anger and frustration felt by people who are working harder than ever but getting nowhere, accompanied by deepening cynicism about our democracy.

The way to end this vicious cycle is to reduce the huge accumulations of wealth that fuel it, and get big money out of politics. 

But it’s chicken-and-egg problem. How can this be accomplished when wealth and power are compounding at the top? 

Only through a political movement such as America had a century ago when progressives reclaimed our economy and democracy from the robber barons of the first Gilded Age.

That was when Wisconsin’s “fighting Bob” La Follette instituted the nation’s first minimum wage law; presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan attacked the big railroads, giant banks, and insurance companies; and President Teddy Roosevelt busted up the giant trusts.

When suffragettes like Susan B. Anthony secured women the right to vote, reformers like Jane Addams got laws protecting children and the public’s health, and organizers like Mary Harris “Mother” Jones spearheaded labor unions.

America enacted a progressive income tax, limited corporate campaign contributions, ensured the safety and purity of food and drugs, and even invented the public high school.

The progressive era welled up in the last decade of the nineteenth century because millions of Americans saw that wealth and power at the top were undermining American democracy and stacking the economic deck. Millions of Americans overcame their cynicism and began to mobilize.

We may have reached that tipping point again.

Both the Occupy Movement and the Tea Party grew out of revulsion at the Wall Street bailout. Consider, more recently, the fight for a higher minimum wage (“Fight for 15”). 

Bernie Sander’s presidential campaign is part of this mobilization. (Donald Trump bastardized version draws on the same anger and frustration but has descended into bigotry and xenophobia.)

Surely 2016 is a critical year. But, as the reformers of the Progressive Era understood more than a century ago, no single president or any other politician can accomplish what’s needed because a system caught in the spiral of wealth and power cannot be reformed from within. It can be changed only by a mass movement of citizens pushing from the outside.

So regardless of who wins the presidency in November and which party dominates the next Congress, it is up to the rest of us to continue to organize and mobilize. Real reform will require many years of hard work from millions of us.

As we learned in the last progressive era, this is the only way the vicious cycle of wealth and power can be reversed.

anonymous asked:

So what are the good things about Bernie Sanders? (I just wanted a list of all the good things about him, so I could show someone it)

His main issues he is focusing on are:

Campaign finance: Limit corporate and interest-group spending in campaigns.

Sanders proposes a Constitutional amendmentthat would effectively reverse the Supreme Court’s Citizen United ruling and ban corporations and nonprofits from unlimited campaign expenditures. The independent senator would also require disclosure of any organizations spending $10,000 or more on an election-related campaign.

Climate change: Charge companies for carbon emissions

Considered to be a “climate change hawk,” Sanders argues that shifting global temperatures are a significant threat and caused by human activity. He has sponsored a bill which would charge companies for their carbon emissions and use some of the money raised to boost renewable energy technology.

Education: Two years free tuition at state colleges. Reform student loans.

Sanders would provide $18 billion to state governments to allow them to cut tuition at state colleges by 55 percent. And he would allow anyone paying off a student loan currently to refinance at a lower rate.

He also believes in ENDING standardized testing, and doing away with common core.

Federal Reserve and banks: Break up big banks. Open up the Fed.

Sanders would divide large banks into smaller entities and charge a new fee for high-risk investment practices, including credit default swaps. In addition, he believes the Federal Reserve is an opaque organization which gives too much support to large corporations. His pushed for a 2011 audit of the Fed and he would use the Fed to force banks into loaning more money to small businesses. Finally, he would ban financial industry executives from serving on the 12 regional boards of directors.

Guns: A mixed approach. No federal handgun waiting period. Some protection for gun manufacturers. Ban assault weapons.

In the House of Representatives, Sanders voted against the pro-gun-control Brady Bill, writing that he believes states, not the federal government, can handle waiting periodsfor handguns. Soon after, he voted yes for the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act that included an assault weapons ban. He has voted to ban some lawsuits against gun manufacturers and for the Manchin-Toomey legislation expanding federal background checks.

Health care: Change to single-payer government-provided health care

Sanders voted for the Affordable Care Act, but believes that the new health care law did not go far enough. Instead, he espouses a single-payer system in which the federal and state governments would provide health care to all Americans. Participating states would be required to set up their own single-payer system and a national oversight board would establish an overall budget.

Immigration: Offer path to citizenship. Waive some deportations now.

Sanders generally agrees with President Obama that most of the undocumented immigrants in the country now should be given a path to citizenship. He voted for the senate immigration bill in 2013, which would have increased border security and issued a provisional immigrant status to millions of undocumented residents once some significant security metrics had been met. In addition, Sanders has supported President Obama’s use of executive orders to waive deportation for some groups of immigrants, including those who were brought to the United States as children.

Taxes: Raise some taxes on the wealthy. Cut taxes for middle and lower class.

The current ranking minority member on the Senate Budget Committee, Sanders wouldnearly double taxes on capital gains and dividends for the wealthiest two percent of Americans. In addition, this year Sanders asked President Obama to use executive action to close six tax deductions benefitting corporations and hedge funds. The Vermont senator would use some of the revenue gained from higher taxes on the rich to lower taxes for middle and lower class Americans.

Iraq, Islamic State and Afghanistan: Opposed the Iraq war. Calls for troop withdrawal as soon as possible.

A longtime anti-war activist, Sanders voted against the Iraq war resolution in 2002. He has regularly called for the U.S. to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and Iraq as soon as possible. Regarding the Islamic State, Sanders has said the U.S. should not lead the fight. In general, he believes the U.S. should focus less on international conflict and more on the domestic needs of the middle class.

A living wage (he did the following while he is senator): 

  • Proposed a national $15 per hour minimum wage.
  • Introduced a budget amendment to raise the minimum wage.
  • Introduced the “Workplace Democracy Act” to strengthen the role of unions and the voices of working people on the job.

Reforming Wall Street:

  • Introduced the “Too Big to Fail, Too Big to Exist Act,” which would break up the big banks and would prohibit any too-big-to-fail institutions from accessing the Federal Reserve’s discount facilities or using insured deposits for risky activities.
  • Led the fight in 1999 against repealing the Glass-Steagall provisions which prevented banks (especially “too big to fail” ones) from gambling with customers’ money; is a co-sponsor of the Elizabeth Warren/John McCain bill to reinstate those provisions.
  • Has proposed a financial transaction tax which will reduce risky and unproductive high-speed trading and other forms of Wall Street speculation; proceeds would be used to provide debt-free public college education.
  • Is co-sponsoring Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s bill to end Wall Street’s practice of paying big bonuses to bank executives who take senior-level government jobs.
  • Introduced a tax on Wall Street speculation to make public colleges and universities tuition-free
    Supports capping credit card interest rates at 15 percent.
  • Sponsored an amendment calling for an audit the Federal Reserve. The audit found that far more had been spent in the Wall Street bailout than previously disclosed, and that considerable funds had been spent to bail out foreign corporations.
  • Warned about the risks of deregulation eight years before the fiscal crisis of 2008.
  • Has proposed limiting the ability of bankers to get rich from taxpayer bailouts of their institutions

He also marched with Martin Luther King JR, and organized sit ins to protest against segregation.

OH! And he has supported equality, womens rights, and ending the war on drugs since before 1972!

FICTIONAL CRIMINALS

In 1886 the Supreme Court declared corporations to be “fictional persons” with the same rights and protections as you and I.  Since then, the Court has steadily expanded the rights of corporate “persons” up to and including last year’s Citizens United decision granting them the right to spend unlimited amounts of money to buy elections.

When it comes to crime and punishment, these corporate “persons” actually have rights which are far different from ours, particularly the biggest ones.

When a corporation is found breaking the law, it’s usually the corporation – the fictional person – which gets punished meaning, the stockholders pay a fine.  The actual flesh and blood persons who oversaw or ignored the criminal behavior are left alone.  It’s like you and I having an avatar which goes to jail for us every time we rob a bank.

Actually, since 2003, the government doesn’t even bother prosecuting.  Instead, they offer “deferred prosecution agreements” whereby the corporate criminal pays a fine and agrees to certain behaviors in lieu of a trial. “Fictional persons” which have recently avoided prosecution in this way include AIG, AOL, Barclays Bank, Boeing, BP, Daimler Chrysler, Halliburton, Health South, Merrill Lynch, Pfizer, and UBS.

It gets worse.  Since the actual fines involved are generally pretty small, why shouldn’t executives decide to keep on breaking the law and treat the fines as a cost of doing business?  If profits gained from illegal activities exceed the fines, why not? 

Serious fraud in our biggest banks and brokerage firms damaged millions of lives, yet not a single executive has been put on trial, much less gone to jail.  Instead, they’ve been given bailouts and bonuses. 

The way it stands, “fictional persons” get to be “fictional criminals” as well, and they enjoy a very different criminal justice system than the one that punishes you and me.

We are told, for example, that conservatives are against big government and high spending. Yet even as Republican governors and state legislatures block the expansion of Medicaid, the G.O.P. angrily denounces modest cost-saving measures for Medicare. How can this contradiction be explained? Well, what do many Medicaid recipients look like — and I’m talking about the color of their skin, not the content of their character — and how does that compare with the typical Medicare beneficiary? Mystery solved.

Or we’re told that conservatives, the Tea Party in particular, oppose handouts because they believe in personal responsibility, in a society in which people must bear the consequences of their actions. Yet it’s hard to find angry Tea Party denunciations of huge Wall Street bailouts, of huge bonuses paid to executives who were saved from disaster by government backing and guarantees. Instead, all the movement’s passion, starting with Rick Santelli’s famous rant on CNBC, has been directed against any hint of financial relief for low-income borrowers. And what is it about these borrowers that makes them such targets of ire? You know the answer.

One odd consequence of our still-racialized politics is that conservatives are still, in effect, mobilizing against the bums on welfare even though both the bums and the welfare are long gone or never existed. Mr. Santelli’s fury was directed against mortgage relief that never actually happened. Right-wingers rage against tales of food stamp abuse that almost always turn out to be false or at least greatly exaggerated. And Mr. Ryan’s black-men-don’t-want-to-work theory of poverty is decades out of date.

In the 1970s it was still possible to claim in good faith that there was plenty of opportunity in America, and that poverty persisted only because of cultural breakdown among African-Americans. Back then, after all, blue-collar jobs still paid well, and unemployment was low. The reality was that opportunity was much more limited than affluent Americans imagined; as the sociologist William Julius Wilson has documented, the flight of industry from urban centers meant that minority workers literally couldn’t get to those good jobs, and the supposed cultural causes of poverty were actually effects of that lack of opportunity. Still, you could understand why many observers failed to see this.

But over the past 40 years good jobs for ordinary workers have disappeared, not just from inner cities but everywhere: adjusted for inflation, wages have fallen for 60 percent of working American men. And as economic opportunity has shriveled for half the population, many behaviors that used to be held up as demonstrations of black cultural breakdown — the breakdown of marriage, drug abuse, and so on — have spread among working-class whites too.

These awkward facts have not, however, penetrated the world of conservative ideology. Earlier this month the House Budget Committee, under Mr. Ryan’s direction, released a 205-page report on the alleged failure of the War on Poverty. What does the report have to say about the impact of falling real wages? It never mentions the subject at all.

And since conservatives can’t bring themselves to acknowledge the reality of what’s happening to opportunity in America, they’re left with nothing but that old-time dog whistle. Mr. Ryan wasn’t being inarticulate — he said what he said because it’s all that he’s got.
Who Cares What Christine Lagarde Thinks About Interest Rates?

She was wrong about the Wall Street bailouts and she’s wrong now.


Another week has brought yet another much-publicized call for the Federal Reserve to delay raising interest rates. Yesterday, the International Monetary Fund opined that the Fed should hold off on a rate hike until 2016. 

Give me a break.

First off, why should anyone care what the IMF thinks about the American economy? That organization’s track record is questionable, at best, and its current head Christine Lagarde has never met a government intervention she didn’t love. As France’s finance minister, she reportedly urged then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to prop up Lehman Brothers during the financial crisis. In other words, she opposed one of the few things Paulson got right in those dark days: letting Lehman go under.

I was in the room for former Lehman CEO Dick Fuld’s already infamous speech last week in New York. Believe me, seeing it live, it wasn’t as bad as the press made it out to be. It was far, far worse. Fuld rambled incoherently about the 27,000 “risk managers” the firm employed, and how great the culture was there. His lack of reflection or even a shred of shame was stunning. This is the guy and the type of behavior Lagarde wanted to reward with taxpayer money.  

Lagarde’s belief that bailing out Fuld and his colleagues on Wall Street was in America’s (and the world’s) best interest is unsubstantiated at best, idiotic at worst. Investment banks, unlike commercial banks, are essentially massive hedge funds. Nobody would argue our government should bail out a failing hedge fund, however large. The financial crisis occurred because those investment banks collectively made what could easily be called the worst decision in the history of American capitalism. They levered up their balance sheets and used that borrowed money to purchase giant pools of suspect home mortgages. When defaults and/or ratings downgrades on those pools increased, massive losses and write downs ensued—and because the banks had leverage ratios above 20 to 1, they quickly became insolvent. Like countless businesses before them, they screwed up and went broke.

As we all know, though, they didn’t suffer the same fate as normal corporations that make catastrophically bad business choices. The Ivy League-educated troika of Paulson (a former Goldman Sachs CEO), NY Fed chief Timothy Geithner, and Fed Chair Ben Bernanke was quick to lend gobs of taxpayer money to keep them (minus Lehman) in business. Paulson, et all also threw huge sums at AIG, which arguably made an even dumber business decision than its banking clients—insuring those pools of suspect mortgages with credit default swaps. Today the three former policymakers are all writing books and taking bows for “saving” our economy through these extraordinary measures. Please. Worse still, the dominant narrative pushed by leaders like Lagarde (not to mention the entire mainstream financial media) is that the Wall Street bailouts didn’t go far enough. According to this conventional wisdom, if only we’d bailed out Lehman Brothers, too, things would somehow be better off than they are today.

Since the crisis, politicians have been debating the best way to regulate Wall Street to prevent a future meltdown. I’ve always maintained that the best regulation of all is the American bankruptcy code. We will never know how our economy would have fared if the remaining banks had followed Lehman into oblivion, either through orderly bankruptcies or forced sales to larger, better capitalized companies. We do know that investors in the bonds of those companies were rewarded mightily for betting on government intervention. That was crony capitalism at its worst, and the one percent walked away with the spoils while the next generation was saddled with more debt, job losses, and—despite seven years (and counting) of zeroed-out interest rates–the slowest post-recession recovery in American history.

Tell me again why we should care what Ms. Lagarde thinks now?

(photo credit)

video: bernie sanders has a real knack for predicting the future!

he predicted the panama papers [cut to footage of bernie saying “the panama free trade agreement is bad”]

and the iraq war [cut to footage of bernie saying “the iraq war is a bad idea”]

and the 2008 wall street bailout [cut to footage of bernie saying “what happens if the banks fail?”]

[cool electronic breakdown]

[a jpeg of the kelso burn gif with the ken burns effect on it]

youtube

#6. END CORPORATE WELFARE

Corporations aren’t people, despite what the Supreme Court says, and they don’t need or deserve handouts. 

When corporations get special handouts from the government – subsidies and tax breaks – it costs you. It means you have to pay more in taxes to make up for these hidden expenses. And government has less money for good schools and roads, Medicare and national defense, and everything else you need.

You might call these special corporate handouts “corporate welfare,” but at least welfare goes to real people in need. In the big picture, corporate handouts are costing tens of billions of dollars a year. Some estimates put it over $100 billion – which means it’s costing you money that would otherwise go to better schools or roads, or lower taxes.

Conservatives have made a game of obscuring where federal spending actually goes. In reality, only about 12 percent of federal spending goes to individuals and families, most in dire need. An increasing portion goes to corporate welfare.

Other examples: The oil, gas, and coal industries get billions in their own special tax breaks. Big Agribusiness gets farm subsides. Big Pharma gets their own subsidy in the form of a ban on government using its bargaining power under Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices. And hedge-fund and private-equity managers get a special tax loophole that treats their income as capital gains, at a lower tax rate than ordinary income.

The real issue isn’t the government’s size. It’s whom government is for. Much of government is no longer working for the vast majority it’s intended to serve. If government were responding to the public’s interest instead of the moneyed interests, it would be providing more support for communities, families, and individuals who need it the most.

There’s no reason any corporations should be on the dole, or that your hard-earned dollars should be going to them for no reason but their political clout.

So we have to demand an end to corporate welfare. No more handouts to particular corporations and industries simply because they’re big enough and powerful enough to get them. No more specialized tax breaks. No more exemptions or special treatment. No more crony capitalism.

Want to end corporate welfare? Watch my latest video now, and share it with your friends.

Cruz’s campaign is built on the populist, anti-establishment narrative. That is how he won his Senate race in the first place and why it was a good reason for him to conceal the loan at a critical time in that race. (“Mr. Cruz, a conservative former Texas solicitor general, was campaigning as a populist firebrand who criticized Wall Street bailouts and the influence of big banks in Washington. It is a theme he has carried into his bid for the Republican nomination for president.”) It would have highlighted his immense hypocrisy, in other words. He is still running on the theme of  battling influence-peddling and special favors for the rich (“[T]he problem that underlies all of this is the cronyism and corruption of Washington”). As a GOP Senate staffer put it, “It’s amazing that this guy can rail against crony capitalism when he is one of its biggest beneficiaries.”
— 

Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post, “10 reasons that Goldman Sachs loan is a nightmare for Ted Cruz”

Entire Cruz narrative is fake.

The Death of the Republican Party

I’m writing to you today to announce the death of the Republican Party. It is no longer a living, vital, animate organization. 

It died in 2016. RIP.

It has been replaced by warring tribes:

Evangelicals opposed to abortion, gay marriage, and science.

Libertarians opposed to any government constraint on private behavior.

Market fundamentalists convinced the “free market” can do no wrong.

Corporate and Wall Street titans seeking bailouts, subsidies, special tax loopholes, and other forms of crony capitalism. 

Billionaires craving even more of the nation’s wealth than they already own.

And white working-class Trumpoids who love Donald. and are becoming convinced the greatest threats to their wellbeing are Muslims, blacks, and Mexicans.

Each of these tribes has its own separate political organization, its own distinct sources of campaign funding, its own unique ideology – and its own candidate. 

What’s left is a lifeless shell called the Republican Party. But the Grand Old Party inside the shell is no more.

I, for one, regret its passing. Our nation needs political parties to connect up different groups of Americans, sift through prospective candidates, deliberate over priorities, identify common principles, and forge a platform.

The Republican Party used to do these things. Sometimes it did them easily, as when it came together behind William McKinley and Teddy Roosevelt in 1900, Calvin Coolidge in 1924, and Ronald Reagan in 1980. 

Sometimes it did them with difficulty, as when it strained to choose Abraham Lincoln in 1860, Barry Goldwater in 1964, and Mitt Romney in 2012. 

But there was always enough of a Republican Party to do these important tasks – to span the divides, give force and expression to a set of core beliefs, and come up with a candidate around whom Party regulars could enthusiastically rally.  

No longer. And that’s a huge problem for the rest of us.

Without a Republican Party, nothing stands between us and a veritable Star Wars barroom of self-proclaimed wanna-be’s. 

Without a Party, anyone runs who’s able to raise (or already possesses) the requisite money – even if he happens to be a pathological narcissist who has never before held public office, even if he’s a knave detested by all his Republican colleagues.  

Without a Republican Party, it’s just us and them. And one of them could even become the next President of the United States.