The new abnormal

Bill Gross is sometimes called the Bond King. He’s one of the two economists who popularized the term, the New Normal. Describing everything from grudgingly slow recovery from the Bush Great Recession to ever-widening disparity in real income for working class folks versus the one-percenters.

Usually, nothing less than a Boston Bruins victory gets Tom Keene as animated as Bill Gross did. 🙂

This is how fascism comes to Great America

Trumpolini

The Republican Party’s attempt to treat Donald Trump as a normal political candidate would be laughable were it not so perilous to the republic. If only he would mouth the party’s “conservative” principles, all would be well.

But of course the entire Trump phenomenon has nothing to do with policy or ideology. It has nothing to do with the Republican Party, either, except in its historic role as incubator of this singular threat to our democracy. Trump has transcended the party that produced him. His growing army of supporters no longer cares about the party…Their allegiance is to him and him alone.

And the source of allegiance? We’re supposed to believe that Trump’s support stems from economic stagnation or dislocation. Maybe some of it does. But what Trump offers his followers are not economic remedies — his proposals change daily. What he offers is an attitude, an aura of crude strength and machismo, a boasting disrespect for the niceties of the democratic culture that he claims, and his followers believe, has produced national weakness and incompetence. His incoherent and contradictory utterances have one thing in common: They provoke and play on feelings of resentment and disdain, intermingled with bits of fear, hatred and anger. His public discourse consists of attacking or ridiculing a wide range of “others” — Muslims, Hispanics, women, Chinese, Mexicans, Europeans, Arabs, immigrants, refugees — whom he depicts either as threats or as objects of derision. His program, such as it is, consists chiefly of promises to get tough with foreigners and people of nonwhite complexion. He will deport them, bar them, get them to knuckle under, make them pay up or make them shut up…

This phenomenon has arisen in other democratic and quasi-democratic countries over the past century, and it has generally been called “fascism.”…Successful fascism was not about policies but about the strongman, the leader (Il Duce, Der Führer), in whom could be entrusted the fate of the nation. Whatever the problem, he could fix it. Whatever the threat, internal or external, he could vanquish it, and it was unnecessary for him to explain how…

This is how fascism comes to America, not with jackboots and salutes…but with a television huckster, a phony billionaire, a textbook egomaniac “tapping into” popular resentments and insecurities, and with an entire national political party — out of ambition or blind party loyalty, or simply out of fear — falling into line behind him.

RTFA. Robert Kagan says it all.

Republicans never read a civics book — and, now, they want to run foreign policy!

Asked about the open letter of 47 US Senators to Iranian leaders, the Iranian Foreign Minister, Dr. Javad Zarif, responded that “in our view, this letter has no legal value and is mostly a propaganda ploy. It is very interesting that while negotiations are still in progress and while no agreement has been reached, some political pressure groups are so afraid even of the prospect of an agreement that they resort to unconventional methods, unprecedented in diplomatic history. This indicates that like Netanyahu, who considers peace as an existential threat, some are opposed to any agreement, regardless of its content.

Zarif expressed astonishment that some members of US Congress find it appropriate to write to leaders of another country against their own President and administration. He pointed out that from reading the open letter, it seems that the authors not only do not understand international law, but are not fully cognizant of the nuances of their own Constitution when it comes to presidential powers in the conduct of foreign policy.

Foreign Minister Zarif added that “I should bring one important point to the attention of the authors and that is, the world is not the United States, and the conduct of inter-state relations is governed by international law, and not by US domestic law. The authors may not fully understand that in international law, governments represent the entirety of their respective states, are responsible for the conduct of foreign affairs, are required to fulfil the obligations they undertake with other states and may not invoke their internal law as justification for failure to perform their international obligations.

The Iranian Foreign Minister added that “Change of administration does not in any way relieve the next administration from international obligations undertaken by its predecessor in a possible agreement about Iran`s peaceful nuclear program.” He continued “I wish to enlighten the authors that if the next administration revokes any agreement with the stroke of a pen, as they boast, it will have simply committed a blatant violation of international law…

The Foreign Minister also informed the authors that majority of US international agreements in recent decades are in fact what the signatories describe as “mere executive agreements” and not treaties ratified by the Senate.

The death spiral of Congressional Republicans continues apace. The silliness of midterm elections aside – I still think they reflect as much stupidity as ignorance – domestic policies that confront interference from idjits and ignoranuses proceed as well as can be expected. American foreign policy remains trapped within the confines of a declining imperial power.

The response of Democrats in general is to maintain the obedience characteristic of our two-party hypocrisy. As long as they accept that we are the cops of the world – and that benefits corporate wealth first and foremost – policies based on military might prevail.

This latest comic opera by Congressional Republicans is worthy of a Charlie Chaplin movie. Ted Cruz is obviously set for the role of the Italian Fascist, Benito Mussolini. Either of the Koch Brothers is a shoo-in for Adolf Hitler. There are damned few Democrats capable of getting the support and laughter deserved by this clown show. Elizabeth Warren and the very independent Bernie Sanders come to mind.

Nope. We’re stuck with blivets in the Congressional Right who need the foreign minister of a Middle Eastern theocracy to explain not only international convention; but, U.S. law to them.

As the Koch Bros destroy the environment – they ain’t down with Civil Rights either

Charles and David Koch are notorious for amassing a business empire well-known for destroying the environment and hijacking the political process to ram their privatization and business agenda on the country. But what is equally egregious about their political activities are their efforts to dismantle years of civil rights progress.

Kochs’ union-busting efforts hurt African American mobility.

Though unions have been known to increase the economic mobility of African-American workers, Koch-funded organizations have been very active in destroying anything that’s left of them. Koch-backed organizations like Americans for Prosperity, the Cato Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the Reason Foundation have long viewed public sector unions with disdain. In 2011, collective bargaining was ended in Wisconsin after the state legislature passed Act 10…

Koch brothers’ secret billionaire summit hosts professional racist.

According to the Nation, the Koch brothers hosted a secret summit on June 16 at the St. Regis Monarch Bay resort, in Dana Point, Calif. Besides a number of notable Republican politicians in attendance, one of the most controversial men giving “dinner remarks” was Charles Murray, a co-author of The Bell Curve, a book which argued that Blacks and Latinos have lower IQs than Asians and whites

Daddy was an admirer of Mussolini

He wrote admiringly of Benito Mussolini’s suppression of Communists in Italy, and disparagingly of the American civil-rights movement. “The colored man looms large in the Communist plan to take over America,” he warned. Welfare was a secret plot to attract rural blacks to cities, where they would foment “a vicious race war.” In a 1963 speech that prefigures the Tea Party’s talk of a secret socialist plot, Koch predicted that Communists would “infiltrate the highest offices of government in the U.S. until the President is a Communist, unknown to the rest of us.”

Sounds familiar? The brothers have used their inherited wealth to buy PR that still fits daddy’s racist, rulng class ideology. The words are tweaked here and there. Most important, they decided they could wield more power owning politicians instead of trying to run for office themselves. Buying creepy organizations that peddle lies about legalism, climate change, nativism, white supremacy works to the same goals — without offending liberal members of their clan of wealth. After all, they give to respectable charities, too.

RTFA. I’ve noted less than half of what the Bridge Report has documented.

Thanks, Mike

Berlusconi commemorates the Holocaust by defending Mussolini

Former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi triggered outrage from Italy’s political left on Sunday with comments defending fascist wartime leader Benito Mussolini at a ceremony commemorating victims of the Nazi Holocaust.

Speaking at the margins of the event in Milan, Berlusconi said Mussolini had been wrong to follow Nazi Germany’s lead in passing anti-Jewish laws but that he had in other respects been a good leader.

“…the government of that time, out of fear that German power might lead to complete victory, preferred to ally itself with Hitler’s Germany rather than opposing it,” he said.

“As part of this alliance, there were impositions, including combating and exterminating Jews,” he told reporters. “The racial laws were the worst fault of Mussolini as a leader, who in so many other ways did well,” he said, referring to laws passed by Mussolini’s fascist government in 1938…

Berlusconi’s comments overshadowed Sunday’s commemoration of thousands of Jews and others deported from Italy to the Nazi death camps of eastern Europe. They were condemned as “disgusting” by the center-left Democratic Party (PD), which is leading in the polls ahead of the February 24-25 election.

“Our republic is based on the struggle against Nazi fascism and these are intolerable remarks which are incompatible with leadership of democratic political forces,” said Marco Meloni, the PD’s spokesman for institutional affairs.

Antonio Ingroia, a former anti-mafia magistrate campaigning at the head of a separate left-wing coalition, said Berlusconi was “a disgrace to Italy“…

“We must be very careful to ensure that these sparks, which recur every now and then, cannot bring back tragedies which humanity should not suffer again,” outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti said on Sunday.

Berlusconi has always been the sort of opportunistic pig who would grovel for support from the bigots and racists still powerful in corporate Italy. Mussolini didn’t hesitate to imprison and torture jews – but also gypsies, members of the socialist and communist opposition, ordinary democrats who spoke out against his alliance with other fascists ranging from Horthy in Hungary to Hitler in Germany.

That he spent a portion of the national budget on infrastructure is only a symptom of a cunning swine – not largesse doled out to a needy populace. He did little more than the Mafia has ever done within their own fiefdoms. Criminals and gangsters who practice sufficient diplomacy to provide rationales for collaborators.

Italy memorial to Fascist commander Graziani is an ethical stain


Graziani – commanding Italian forces in Libya

A political row has erupted in Italy after a memorial was opened to fascist commander Field Marshal Rodolfo Graziani, a convicted war criminal.

Graziani was honoured with a mausoleum and memorial park, built at taxpayers’ expense, in a village south of Rome.

He was notorious as Benito Mussolini’s military commander in colonial wars in Ethiopia and Libya where he carried out massacres and used chemical weapons…

“Is it possible to allow, accept or simply tolerate that, in 2012, we dedicate a park and a museum to the fascist general and minister Rodolfo Graziani?” asked Esterino Montino, head of the Democratic Party in the Lazio region.

He pointed to the “crimes against humanity committed by Graziani in Ethiopia in the 1930s”, La Repubblica newspaper reports.

Graziani was sentenced to 19 years’ imprisonment for war crimes in 1948 but was released from jail after serving only two years, and died in 1955.

The BBC’s David Willey, in Rome, says that the cult of fascist heroes remains alive in certain parts of Italy despite the outlawing of the fascist party in the country’s postwar constitution.

He adds that it is curious, however, that there has been no formal protest that a crypto-fascist mayor of a small town near the capital can, in 2012, publicly honour a man who brought death to thousands of Africans and dishonour to his own country.

The mayor of the village of Affile attended the opening ceremony on Saturday

He was accompanied by a representative from the Vatican. That’s no surprise either.

Italian Fascists offer cash to name babies for Mussolini

A far-right Italian party is offering 1,500 euros to parents who name their children after the fascist dictator Mussolini or his wife.

The small Movimento Sociale-Fiamma Tricolore (MS-FT) party denies its gesture is racist and says the names Benito and Rachele are merely “nice”.

The cash incentive is available in five areas of southern Italy and is designed to help the region’s low birth rate.

Together the names Benito and Rachele mean only one thing to Italians – they signify their former dictator and his wife.

But the party says the choice of names is what it called “purely casual”.

At least one parent has to be Italian. Just in case the question of nationality came to mind.