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Trump and the Taming of the Oligarchs

2016 December 21
by Ian Welsh
trump-romney-dinner

Some years ago, I read an article about a Russian oligarch who had wanted to close a factory in a Russian town in which the factory provided the only real jobs.

The people complained to Putin, and some time later Putin appeared on stage in the town with the oligarch. With an eye on the oligarch, Putin explained that the jobs would be kept in the town.

Putin’s speech was described as being cold and contemptuous towards the oligarch.

When Trump convinced Carrier to keep some, not all, jobs, in America, he did so largely through bribes.

What will be interesting, however, is to see how much he makes people bow.

Putin broke some oligarchs and allied with others, but the important thing to understand about Putin’s relationship with Russian oligarchs is that Putin is the senior partner. He is in charge. They can do well, even very well, but if they challenge him, he will force them to bow–or break them.

(For the record, I have less than zero sympathy for the oligarchs; I know how they made their money.)

We all, I presume, remember the picture of Romney meeting Trump, begging for the Secretary of State job (which he didn’t get). I suspect Trump really did want to give the job to Romney, simply so he could force Romney to bow on a regular basis, but Trump’s loyalists hated Romney too much.

Meanwhile, the tech oligarchs have all also met with Trump. He was gracious, but they came to him, despite their clear opposition of him.

One of the issues in the US is that its oligarchs think they don’t have to serve the public good. Apple and other companies have billions stored overseas, they dodge taxes, and they move jobs overseas at the drop of a hat.

They also think they don’t have to bow to the President.

Now Trump cares somewhat about Issue #1 (by which I mean jobs, not tax dodging), but he’s going to care a lot about Issue #2 (bowing to the President). And Bannon cares a lot about both, because Bannon despises America’s oligarchs and wants to see them humbled.

Trump, well, Trump likes power. He wants to be loved by the mob, oh yes, but he values loyalty greatly, and, if crossed, he likes breaking people.

So I expect to see a number of oligarchs and other powerful people made examples of, forced to bow–indeed, forced to kneel.

If Trump wants to get his way, this is necessary. He needs these people to do some things they don’t want to do (make less money by bringing jobs back to the US), and they’ll need to be scared of him.

They need to be personally scared. They need to believe they personally aren’t immune from his power.

Trump will enjoy this. Bannon, if I read him correctly, will enjoy it even more.

Under Trump, oligarchs will do well, even very well. But not if they don’t bow. He wants some crumbs for ordinary Americans, and he needs the oligarchs to give them.

So one of the ways I will know if Trump is going to be successful (i.e., get his people enough goodies to get his second term, and the accompanying adulation) will be by watching the “kneeling to bribes” ratio, and seeing what Trump does to those companies who refuse to cooperate.

Be very clear on this, folks. This is something about which most people are complete idiots.

There is nowhere to go.

The rich cannot actually move their companies overseas. Where are they going to go? Europe will regulate them even harder (see all the problems Google is having). They don’t want to live in China or Russia, and China and Russia are the only countries strong enough to tell America to bugger off. Plus, of course, Putin and the Chinese Communist party won’t just make them kneel, they’ll make them get down on their bellies and grovel like worms.

No one else can stand up to America. Oh, Europe could, if it had its act together, but it doesn’t; and it wants regulation that repel oligarchs. Tax havens are a joke; they exist because the great powers want them to exist, and the second the Treasury cracks down on them, they will go away.

So if Trump wants to put the screws on, he can–especially if he’s smart about it. You make an example of a few people, you reward the others for cooperating, and soon they’re all bowing and scraping.

That’s how it works.

Let’s see if Trump knows how to play the game.

(And, for the record, no, this isn’t good. But the financial crisis proved we already have rule of men, and that this rule is to be used solely to enrich the few and immiserate the many. Rule of law will continue to disappear. I have no sympathy for most of the US’s oligarchs, because, while not as outright nasty as Russia’s oligarchs (on average–some of them are just as bad), they are almost all truly bad people who have strangled the US, and the world, to get where they are.)

The games are on, Caesarism continues its rise. It’s what Americans voted for and elites worked hard to create the conditions for it. Crying over it is like crying over physics.


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48 Responses
  1. dude permalink
    December 21, 2016

    And what of media oligarchs? Loyal or brought to heel? There are many who berate the press for giving Trump too much air time and “normalizing” the abnormal in the process. Aren’t they already kneeling?

  2. Ian Welsh permalink*
    December 21, 2016

    Of course they are. Remember how they kneepadded for Bush’s war on Iraq.

  3. Bill Hicks permalink
    December 21, 2016

    Great assessment. I’ve always felt about Putin that, loathsome though he may be, at least his policies made sense in terms of looking out for Russian interests and doing JUST enough to keep the little people from going all Tsar Nicholas on him.

    If you are American and you’re one of those little people, would it not be preferable living under a nationalist oligarch who at least wants to take just good enough care of you over someone who is willing to completely throw you to the wolves while calling you “deplorable” in the process?

  4. realitychecker permalink
    December 21, 2016

    I love the sight of oligarchs kneeling in the morning . . .

    Never would have happened under Hillary.

  5. markfromireland permalink
    December 21, 2016

    Be very clear, folks, of something that most people are complete idiots about.

    There is nowhere to go.

    Cannot be said often or loud enough.

  6. different clue permalink
    December 21, 2016

    Sessions understands basic national-survival issues of national political-economic sovereignty. But Sessions will be wayyyy over “there” at Justice. Does Bannon understand these issues? Does Bannon have the deeper understanding required to understand that Protectionism is good for every country that practices it and that Free Trade is only good for the OverClass Elites who collude with certain Foreign Mercantilist governments to exterminate industry throughout the high-wage/ high-standards areas of the world? If so, he will try getting Trump to understand that ” all nations do better together when every nation does better separately”. In this hopeful scenario, he and Trump would encourage Protectionists in power elsewhere and might even try to form a Protectionist International ( Protecintern) as well as a Nationalist International ( Nationintern). Two, Three, Many “Capitalisms in One Country”.

    I don’t think Trump is that smart. He does not have the intellectual depth and wisdom to comprehend the kind of political economics which Tony Wikrent writes about ( and which the Acres USA stable of writers has been writing about lo these several decades). I can be sad about that, but since I didn’t expect it I can’t be too bitterly disappointed by its absence.
    Trump’s understanding of trade relations will be limited to bad deal/ good deal/ better deal.
    His Secretary of Commerce designate ( whose name I forget) will see his mission as getting better export deals and access for American would-be exporters. He won’t think in terms of trade itself as being largely destructive and better set aside in the pursuit of mutual autarchy mutually agreed upon by and between countries within practical limits. Europe be warned!
    The Trump team will try breaking down every safety rule and barrier Europe has in order to increase Corporate American exports of Corporate ShitMeat and Corporate GMO ShitCorn and Corporate GMO ShitSoybeans and Corporate GMO ShitFood of every kind. Is Europe ready to pay the Trump price of establishing a No Chemo-No GMO sealed-off Total Food Autarchy Zone within the borders of Europe? Because that is what Europe will have to do in order to resist the Trump pressure to permit ChemoCorporate ShitFood into Europe.

    The Oligarchs will learn to massage and finesse Trump. They will bow and kneel and scrape for the cameras and Trump will be so pleased that he will make few genuine economic demands on them. Perhaps Bannon will be able to remind Trump that mere humbletude is not that same as job restoration.

    Hopefully the Berniecrats will be able to work with the Tea Party Republicans to frustrate the coalition of Country Club Republicans and BiCoastal Clintonite Shitocrat Elitists who will try to get the Trade Treason Agreements perfumed just enough to be rendered passable.

    But its all good. So long as I end up getting re-normalized relations with Russia and no war with Russia, and the Total Victory of Assad over the totally exterminated jihadi scum in Syria; then I will have gotten two thirds of what I voted for. And if Trump Term One sees every Trade Treason Agreement totally rejected, then I will have gotten the final third of what I voted for. And I will just deal with the rest of it as best I can.

  7. Ivory Bill Woodpecker permalink
    December 21, 2016

    If Pumpkinhead and Goebbels Jr. really want to challenge the Deep State, then I suppose we will learn just how powerful the Deep State is, or is not.

  8. Peter permalink
    December 21, 2016

    I don’t think the Oligarchs in Russia do much bowing to Putin, they have a business type deal where it could be said that he bribed them with access to extreme wealth while they agreed to leave Russian politics to Putin. This is a partnership between very powerful individuals and a separation of powers.

    US oligarchs are quite different but they won’t bow to anyone either. They represent national and multinational, often publicly owned, corporations who exert great control over our politics at all levels.

    Describing Trump’s deal with Carrier as involving bribes is more Clintonite style sour grapes. Does anyone actually believe that Trump or anyone could bribe a $50 billion corporation with a $7 million tax abatement.

    The reason that Carrier went along with this deal was stated immediately and it was PR and the big corporate bosses realized it might not be wise to embarrass the new CiC especially since they depend heavily on the military budget for part of their profits.

    Getting our Oligarchs to see the necessity of keeping and returning jobs to the US will take a lot of carrots and persuasion but Trump has already put the stick on the table. I don’t think he wants to use it that would be a failure of his plans to instill the idea of America First into our corporate masters.

    This is not going to be like Game of Thrones but more like Lets Make A Deal and we have already seen that it is possible something never seen before.

  9. gnokgnoh permalink
    December 21, 2016

    Trump is an oligarch, much like Putin has become one. He has selected nothing but oligarchs and generals for his cabinet. Are you saying this is a form of “keep the other oligarchs close, and I can control them?” Regarding jobs and America first, Trump has been silent and will continue to be silent about the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), because that’s where his bread is buttered. It encompasses more countries and is designed to be secret for the first five years of its enactment.

    I love your analogy to the Roman Empire and Caesarism. This is exactly that. Rome was not conquered by internal revolt. It could no longer support its army, and it was eventually done in by external forces, “barbarians.”

  10. Tom W Harris permalink
    December 21, 2016

    That pic reminds me of a song: I Like It Like That

  11. Charlie permalink
    December 22, 2016

    I do think that if the Russian oligarchs were not in the habit of bowing to Putin, Gazprom would still be a private consortium. Between jailing the owner on tax evasion charges and the polonium poisoning episode, the oligarchs know not to go too far in upsetting the cart Putin has made for Russia.

  12. Diogenesed permalink
    December 22, 2016

    “(For the record, I have less than zero sympathy for the oligarchs, I know how they made their money.)’. [SNIP]

    They didn’t make any money-they stole the SOE’s that did.

  13. Charlie permalink
    December 22, 2016

    I do think that if the Russian oligarchs were not in the habit of bowing to Putin, Gazprom would still be a private consortium. Between jailing the owner on tax evasion charges and the polonium poisoning episode, the oligarchs know not to go too far in upsetting the cart Putin has for Russia.

    Something happening with the comment section. This just popped up after I had already posted.

  14. markfromireland permalink
    December 22, 2016

    Gee what happened to ivorybillbutthurt’s declared intention to eff off to driftglass leaving Ian and his fellow Trumpistas to stew in our own juices?

  15. markfromireland permalink
    December 22, 2016

    @ gnokgnoh December 21, 2016

    I love your analogy to the Roman Empire and Caesarism. This is exactly that. Rome was not conquered by internal revolt. It could no longer support its army, and it was eventually done in by external forces, “barbarians.”

    Emphasis added. I too like the analogy but I can’t agree with you that “this is exactly that” – Rome was weakened by internal revolt, and could no loner support its army true, but note that the legions were doing less and less to earn that support. To reverse the proverb they were no longer worthy of their salt. Gibbon’s formulation wasn’t wrong it’s merely been overtaken by more detailed and sophisticated ones.

    What external forces do you see “doing in” the American hegemony? Look at a map, it’s not going to be invaded by armed barbarian tribes no matter how fervid the imaginings of those upset by the presence of migrants from Central and South America. Loss of hegemonic status is not necessarily the same thing as dissolution of the state. If anything is going to “do in” the USA it will be the victory of its internal centripetal forces.

  16. Ian Welsh permalink*
    December 22, 2016

    I was referring to Caesarism’s role in the end of the Republic, though it officially died some time after Julius.

    I find the end of the Republic more interesting than the end of the Empire, honestly.

    But I find the birth and maturation of the Republic more interesting than its end.

    For some reason I have always found the beginnings and the golden ages more interesting than the ends of things.

    If I live long enough I may get to see the beginnings of a good new era.

    I often think that the luckiest of those who helped create the New Deal/Post War economic era (not the idiotic foreign policy), were the luckiest. John Kenneth Galbraith, who lived much longer, was very bitter at the end, seeing so much of his work destroyed, and seeing the rest of it would likely be destroyed.

    Much of that era’s death came from certain poisoned choices it made in its youth, as is always the case. Rome’s Republic was in large part destroyed by widespread slavery, made possible by its success at war. (Yeah, there’s more to it than that, but it is still fundamental.)

    The lies, broken promises and evils you make peace with, are what destroy in the end. It is the evil you voluntarily bring into your own house which destroys that house. Neoliberals are now experiencing that.

  17. markfromireland permalink
    December 22, 2016

    @Ian

    Casarism: My mistake. I can see why you might find beginnings and golden eras interesting.

    Neoliberals: Subscribe to an evil and selfish philosophy that leads to and glorifies evil and selfish behaviour. They didn’t bring evil into their house they built it using bricks of evil and cemented those bricks with the degradation exploitation and suffering of others. May they reap far worse than they have sown. To Hell with them.

  18. Egg Foo Yong permalink
    December 22, 2016

    @Peter

    You don’t think the oligarchs don’t bow to Putin?

    Wrong.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GsDLrUieJg

  19. Egg Foo Yong permalink
    December 22, 2016

    I love how Putin also makes sure he gets his pen back at the end.

  20. Ian Welsh permalink*
    December 22, 2016

    Yes, well, when your philosophy starts with “greed is good” you may have stepped into the devil’s house, indeed.

  21. December 22, 2016

    With every post you write about trump, you get closer to endorsing him. Each article is significantly softer than the last. How long will it be before you write the ‘well, at least he is making the trains run on time’ piece? Who gives a shit whether he makes oligarchs tremble occasionally? They bow the knee to him, and in return he gives them licence to pillage us. That’s what matters. Bad enough that you don’t seem to see anything wrong with that but you are also suggesting it is inevitable and impervious to resistance.

  22. Ché Pasa permalink
    December 22, 2016

    The lies, broken promises and evils you make peace with, are what destroy in the end. It is the evil you voluntarily bring into your own house which destroys that house. Neoliberals are now experiencing that.

    The first part, yes. And that is clearly happening with all the peace-making, defenses and normalization going on with regard to the incoming evils. The house will most certainly be destroyed. The only questions are when and how, and how many will suffer because of it.

    As for the neoliberal experience, would that it were true.

    I suspect it’s not, though it is a theme that courses through Trump defenders’ arguments, from Stormfront and Radix all the way to the leading edges of the otherwise analytical/critical Left.

    According to his defenders, he will smash and crush the neoliberal paradigm, consigning it to the dustbin of history forever. As Mark Blythe argues, Global Trumpism marks the end of neoliberalism. Except for the fact that there is no Global Trumpism, it’s a comforting thought, isn’t it?

    Good luck with it. Since Trump and so many of the incoming ruling clique have benefited immensely from the very neoliberal/neoconservative paradigms and policies they are now expected to smash and burn — on behalf of whom, exactly? — it would be quite a show if it ever happened.

    The argument that he is smashing and burning the neoliberal paradigm — no matter what he actually does — will become of necessity more and more fantastic and irrational, not unlike some of the defenses of Mr. Obama’s neoliberal/neoconservative policies and actions. It didn’t matter to his defenders what he was actually doing because the in the fantasy image they held of him, “he wouldn’t do that.” But he did. He’s doing it now.

    And Mr. Trump is “taming” the oligarchs? Oh?

    If anything, he’s liberating them from any constraint at all, any pretense of serving the public interest, any need to lie about their demands and intentions, because soon, after all, there will be no mediation between their demands of government and government’s implementation of those demands. For all intents and purposes, they will rule directly.

    Mr. Trump may or may not be the boss of them. I think his alpha male status is vastly overrated, but we’ll see. The inherent powers of the presidency combined with the expansion of executive authority over the past 16 years especially, provide a clear pathway to executive rule by decree and ukase, with or without the cover of Constitutional process, checks and balances and all that. It literally won’t matter any more. Should there come a significant terrorist attack within the United States, all bets are off.

    As for the “end of the Republic”, yes. We’ve been in that phase transition for quite a while now, so long that I think most Americans have accepted the inevitable end of constitutional self government in the United States. The institution of the Republic has clearly failed the People in more ways than most of us want to contemplate, and the strains of trying to keep it whole have exhausted the government.

    Replacing that government with something else again — direct rule by the command of selected oligarchs, for example — looks to be on the Trump agenda. Should he succeed, it will mean that the Republic is extinguished once and for all. It won’t be coming back.

    I for one will not celebrate.

  23. December 22, 2016

    Trump will benefit if he promotes international co-operation – particularly against multinationals. Ideally they should be taxed on their global profits, assessed by the WTO. These profits can then be apportioned to each country on the basis of turnover, where they can levy whatever rate of tax they choose.

    I am delighted that Trump wants to be friends with Putin. Even if Putin is evil and a threat, which I don’t believe – he has never occupied a territory which does not already have a pro-Russian majority (self-determination of sovereignty) – its always best to keep your friends close and your enemies closer!

  24. gnokgnoh permalink
    December 22, 2016

    @Ian
    You are Spenglerian in your outlook. I like his distinction between culture and civilization, but his neat labels deny the messy overlap of geography, especially as a result of conquest. Gibbons argues that another downfall for the Romans was the passivity of Christians among the citizens…as well as their cruelty towards slaves.

    @MOI
    I believe Gibbons started his history around the fall of the Republic and the start of the Empire, which is viewed by other historians as the beginning of its decline. Your distinction between hegemony and the dissolution of the state is critical, but the centripetal internal forces only accelerate as the result of the loss of hegemony and the increasing cost of our standard of living.

    The adaptation of Western capitalism by the BRICs, the GCC states, and Southeast Asia is destroying us. We cannot afford to export our cancerous growth (Western capitalism) to poorer countries in the existential, not moral, sense. The concern arises from both the scarcity of resources and the degradation of the environment by our collective waste. Look at food scarcity in Syria and Nigeria, the dredging of Indian rivers for sand to use in concrete, the Chinese fleeing their cities, and the rapid increases in temperature at the poles. Globalism will produce global blowback, the oceans will not protect us. Spare us the cornucopians.

  25. gnokgnoh permalink
    December 22, 2016

    @John Poynton
    Trump is a multinational. He’s a brand. We are being led by a brand. Just drive up the West River Drive and look out your right window.

    The international treaty that protects Trump’s brand the most is TISA. He will rail against TPP and TTIP, because they don’t affect him. TISA will not be discussed. He will never let his businesses by taxed by the WTO. That’s funny.

  26. John permalink
    December 22, 2016

    I find it interesting that not only is this house built on ‘greed is good’, but that all the traditional seven vices are good…with the possible exception sloth. Practice of the seven vices seems to be standard for oligarchic behavior. We do not live in a time of virtuous behavior…I think that is about beginnings and golden ages. Vice is about decline and endings.

  27. zot23 permalink
    December 22, 2016

    Come for the oligarchy, stay for the society destabilizing riots!

  28. Peter permalink
    December 22, 2016

    It’s sad that so many Clintonites are demanding everyone else should have a depressing Christmas/New Year season because they have to adjust to the new reality. Their cowardly assault on the truth and the republic was upsetting but that failed and can be used by historians to teach people what kind of damage that fanaticism and cult of personality can do.

    I almost wish I had a TV to watch the roundup of the big fat Clintonite gators infesting the DC swamp. Seeing them with their snapping jaws securely duct-taped and headed out of town will be refreshing. Perhaps Trump can bring back a shoe factory or two to make some good use of these critters.

  29. XFR permalink
    December 22, 2016

    that ” all nations do better together when every nation does better separately”. In this hopeful scenario, he and Trump would encourage Protectionists in power elsewhere and might even try to form a Protectionist International ( Protecintern) as well as a Nationalist International ( Nationintern). Two, Three, Many “Capitalisms in One Country”.

    Note that Canada up until the 1990’s had what were in effect multiple capitalisms operating in a single country. So economic unification is not in principle actually necessary to have a single polity, freedom of individual movement, or a decent and humane society.

    Indeed, the reality of “globalization” on the ground so far suggests quite otherwise.

  30. Pelham permalink
    December 22, 2016

    Looked at in a somewhat different way, maybe what Trump will do is restore the idea that corporations have to function in such a way that they benefit the public as well as themselves.

    This historically is why corporations have charters granting them special rights and privileges that ordinary citizens don’t have. In exchange, the public at large is supposed to benefit from their existence in some measurable way beyond just the employment they provide and the wealth they generate for their narrow band of major shareholders.

    Regardless of what Trump does or doesn’t do, however, it would be nice if we could restore this idea in the wider public consciousness.

  31. December 22, 2016

    U-u-u-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h…
    Isn’t Trump a bit of an oligarch himself?

    Seriously: You’re not anticipating a bit of duplicity from his administration as well?

  32. different clue permalink
    December 22, 2016

    @Peter,

    I am not sure that Trump or anyone else in real power will want to remove the Clintonites from the swamp. In social class terms, the Clintonites are tightly wired into all the Global OverClass social and money networks. If the Clintons go down, they will take some of the world’s Greatest and Goodest down with them. And everybody knows it. So I don’t expect any real effort to really clean up and bio-remediate the political and ethical SuperFund Site which the Clintons have left behind them at the heart of our politics and civic culture.

    And as to Republican Hearings . . . the Clinton “scandals” are the gift that keeps on giving. The Republican Officeholders will no doubt hold recreational hearings into this or that . . . designed to come to no conclusion and clean up nothing. For example, the so-called “investigation” of so-called “BengaziGate” was designed to focus on “security for the embassy” and “who said what to whom and when”. It was deliberately designed to DIvert attention aWAY from the whole point of the Libya exercise . . . which was to overthrow Quaddafi IN ORDER to grab all his stockpiled weapons AND SEND THEM ON PURPOSE to the Clinton-backed Cannibal Liver-Eating Jihadis in Syria. Note how THAT aspect of it is STILL left as UNdiscussed as possible.

    The only political people in this country who would really like to purge and burn the malignant metastatic Clintonoma cells and the lethally infectious Yersiniobama pestis plague germs out of the American system are some Berniecrats and lonely leftists. Maybe some TeaPublicans are consumed enough with genuine hatred for the Clintons to want to join in. But they won’t understand the issues.

    Back to the Clintons and the OverClass . . . does anyone really think that Bill Clinton’s flights on Epstein’s Pedophile Airlines down to Epsteins Sexual Child Abuse Island in the Caribbean will be investigated by anybody with the power to hand out punishment? Once again, Clinton would name all the names of the Greatest and the Goodest who were on those flights and on that island. And everybody knows it. So expect ZERO investigative action on that score.

  33. Peter permalink
    December 22, 2016

    @Pelham

    The managerial/business class has their own form of ritual public consciousness and altering that at any level is unlikely. This isn’t a few individuals that need to be impressed but everyone from the upper management of large and small corporations, to their boards and their shareholders along with some privately held companies.

    Warren Buffet probably donates millions to worthy causes and displays his public consciousness by publicly denouncing the fact that his secretary pays a higher percent in tax than he does. He doesn’t do anything about this inequality and when he takes over a new company he cuts the workforce to the bone and dismisses anyone who questions his public consciousness on that business issue.

    The only way to get around this impasse is to convince these people that their survival and prosperity depends on a strong and somewhat prosperous Homeland.

  34. dude permalink
    December 22, 2016

    Dec 22–I note the online gossip press is circulating a story about Bill Gates comparing Donald Trump to John Kennedy ( as in “he’s like Kennedy because he sees things he’d like to change”…?) and Newt Gingrich walking back his ‘draining the swamp’ was just ‘cute’ , applause-line campaign rhetoric) after coordinating tweets with the Trump camp today.

    Feel the kneel.

  35. Peter permalink
    December 22, 2016

    @DC

    If this was a more routine transfer of power with the normal sniping and antagonism I might agree that a deep purge wouldn’t be wise or useful. There has been nothing routine about this insanity with most of the power centers represented by the Red Queen taking part in a coup attempt along with making extremely dangerous spurious claims about acts of war by the Russians.

    You can’t make deals with people who have displayed clear signs of madness and you certainly can’t trust them in positions of power. New connections and arrangements can be made with Global OverClass or their replacements, possibly even better ones.

    If Trump doesn’t act and clean house these forces will undermine anything he tries to do as we have already seen and they show no sign of changing their agenda.

  36. Hugh permalink
    December 22, 2016

    There will be some relative winners and losers among the rich and elites, but overall kleptocracy and our looting will march on. If you look at Trump’s choice of Goldmanites, fossil fuel guys, and generals, Wall Street, Big Oil and Big Coal, and the MIC will do just fine. Silicon Valley may have a little less access, and its tendency to offshore American jobs and inshore H1B visa types may but only may come into question. We’ll have to wait and see.

    I didn’t see anything earthshaking when Trump didn’t invite the head of Twitter to his tech confab. I thought it was a lot more interesting in a conflict of interest sort of way that he had his sons and daughter at the meeting. What the hell were they doing there? They are private citizens. Nobody elected them to anything. It smelled way to much like a setup for pay to play, Trump-style.

    Trump is not an American Putin. Russia and the US (and everywhere else) are kleptocracies, but kleptocracy plays out differently in each. Russia has a history of autocracy and dictatorship. In the US, it is much more about class. As his choices show, Trump is at heart a fake populist. And however outrageous and attention seeking his demeanor, he is an insider and just the latest face of his class.

  37. DMC permalink
    December 23, 2016

    Yeah its amazing who used to turn up for Jeffery Epstein’s little soirees. You start down that rabbit-hole and things get real interesting real fast. That’s a view of the Oligarchy you don’t get out of the MSM.

  38. different clue permalink
    December 23, 2016

    @DMC,

    Nor will we ever. I wonder how many of the Greatest and Goodest media moguls traveled along with Clinton on Pedo Airways down to Pedo Island?

  39. Tom W Harris permalink
    December 25, 2016

    All anyone needs to know about Firedoglake is that its editor-in-chief Jane Hamsher was also a producer of Natural Born Killers , by far the shittiest movie of all time. Not one second of this gore/shitfest was worth a goddamn. And that’s being unforgivably generous.

  40. realitychecker permalink
    December 26, 2016

    @ Tom the One-Facter

    Another thing you might ‘need to know’ is that your current host was the managing editor there, in the days when it was a pretty great place.

    Ooopsie, your manners and your shallowness are being synergetic.

  41. Tom W Harris permalink
    December 26, 2016

    Why, bless your heart, rc. I do try to dead by example.

  42. Tom W Harris permalink
    December 26, 2016

    lead.

  43. V. Arnold permalink
    December 27, 2016

    Tom W Harris
    December 25, 2016

    Ah, but it’s all a matter of taste, said the old lady, as she bent down and kissed the cow…

  44. Ian Welsh permalink*
    December 28, 2016

    I know more about Jane than most people. If I were going to critique her, making a violent movie wouldn’t be at the top of the list.

    At the end of the day, however, Jane was a political ally even if I didn’t always get along with her or agree with her. She defended the right things when almost no one else did, and paid a price in readership, and she knew that was likely to happen. Don’t think she didn’t know that coming out against Obamacare wouldn’t cost her readers, support and access.

    In political terms, and in terms of having some political integrity, she was worth 100 Markos’s.

    Ok, that’s unfair, she was worth infinite Markos’s in the current paradigm, because Markos is on the other side (though he’ll oppose Trump well enough since corporate dems will be ok with that.)

  45. realitychecker permalink
    December 28, 2016

    @ Ian

    You shouldn’t even mention Jane and Markos on the same page lol. IMO, Jane was one of the great heroes of the last decade.

    Unfortunately, she allowed the site to become very authoritarian after she adopted the paid membership model (chronological marker, not necessarily cause-and-effect), allowed the Old Guard to create a very hostile atmosphere for any newcomers to see and feel, and, sin of sins, allowed the wholesale censorship of many freethinkers via arbitrary unappealable bannings and total disappearances of histories that became so frequent and so ruthless that it felt like Stalin was running the place at the end.

    I will still always be grateful to her for what she did during the Bush and early Obama years. I’ve not seen any news of her since the site closed down. Do you know anything of her health situation?

  46. Ian Welsh permalink*
    December 29, 2016

    I do not.

    I wasn’t aware of most of what happened at the site after I left, didn’t realize it got that ugly. Explains a lot. But $$ was always a concern, and when I did hear news about some steps she was taking I knew it was only a matter of time.

    It might be amusing one day to do a frank discussion of finances in the old netroots, but right now it would do more harm than good, I think.

  47. Ann Thomsen permalink
    December 30, 2016

    Enemies of Trump — ask yourselves —

    Was Dennis Hastert the Speaker of the House BECAUSE or IN SPITE of pedophilia?

    I listened to a wonderful interview with the Mises Institute Lew Rockwell on this subject.

    He believes, as I do, that membership in the power elite REQUIRES a degree of depravity. No heroes and no cowboys need apply.

    Skull & Bones, the Bohemian Grove and other cult like memberships insure loyalty to the groups and institutions that invest in leaders.

    Much of the agitprop on Trump is proof positive he’s one of the good guys. Anyone who can terrify Hollywood, the DNC, RNC and globalist elite – is my kinda guy.

    I’m judging the Donald by the people who want him dead.

    He knows where the bodies are buried – and isn’t afraid to use that knowledge to drain the swamp.

    the Trump haters of the left have been conditioned to call him a racist when he has a long standing reputation as a friend to blacks. He’s indifferent to homosexuality, but anathema to the perversions of the governing elite.

    I suspect there is a large portion of crow on the menu in left of center America.

    A vote for Obama was date rape. Citigroup plucked him from obscurity, outfitted him with a red coat and lantern… and sent him down on the White House lawn to welcome his hand picked cabinet. A rainbow of globalist hacks – red, black, brown faces to seduce a low IQ racial identity coalition to vote their own demise.

    Black America should have dragged his nasty ass from the White House and strung him up on that very lawn – for destroying any chance for another black president.

    The advance of Barry Hussein as a black American for hope and change should be seen as a treasonous event in American History, but for insurance execs and transgenders.

  48. Ann Thomsen permalink
    December 30, 2016

    insurance execs, transgenders and the WAR MACHINE

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