Robert Reich, “Saving Capitalism”

Reich’s distinguished career spans three administrations, including a tenure as Clinton’s secretary of labor. He has been awarded the Vaclav Havel Foundation Prize for work in economic and social thought, and is the author of a dozen books, most recently Beyond Outrage. He is also the co-founding editor of American Prospect, co-creator of the film Inequality for All, commentator on NPR’s Marketplace, and professor of public policy at UC Berkeley. In his thirteenth book, Reich tackles the growing problem of economic disparity by focusing on the relationship between politics and corporate finance. Closely examining that revolving door between the two, Reich compares myths about both the minimum wage and top corporate compensation, and issues a call for civic action to change the status quo.


Sam: If you want to reach my generation, you’re not going to reach them through books .. you have to use movies and videos

Timothy Snyder, “On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons From The 20th Century”

13:42
there are very different ideas there are
still very different ideas the hypnosis
of the end of history is something that
we have to break ourselves out of the
fist thing that I think I’ve understood
is that the catalyst or if you want the
lubricant of regime change is mistrust

right the sense of uncertainty the sense
that nothing is real or nothing is true

if you are having that feeling now as
many Americans are you are right we’re
Russians were about a decade ago okay
they’re much further along now right
there they’re in a different place now
as people say but if you have that sense
that you don’t know who to trust as
journalism real as history real you know
should I listen to white men wearing
ties actually the answer is generally no
right and make it but but make an
exception right make an exception oh no
no I think I feel I feel like Sean
Spicer has totally ruined this look for
me but but i but i don’t know where else
to go so like maybe you know maybe you
can help you out afterwards anyway that
that mistrust is the rubric mistrust
makes it happen right because if you
don’t think anything’s true and you
don’t trust anyone then the rule of law
can’t work
and if the rule of law can’t
work then democracy is going to fall
right democracy depends on the rule of
law rule of law has depends on a certain
basic level of trust that basic level of
trust it’s not that we agree about
everything but that we agree there’s a
world in there facts in it if you lose
that then you lose rule of law then you
lose democracy right and the people who
are going after trusts the people who
are tweeting random things at 5:30 in
the morning right they are consciously
ripping out the heart of democracy it’s
not the skin right it’s not the muscle
that’s going to resigned it’s not the
bones it’s going right for the heart
it’s skipping the step of democracy
right it’s going right for the heart
it’s ripping out the thing which makes
democracy possible the final thing the

 

number 19
is the one about patriotism in general
the ones towards the end of the book are
meant to come later but you know
sometimes events outpace you or catch or
catch you up as Vic and I like to say
catch you up be a patriot set a good the
generations to come they will need it
what is patriotism let us begin with
what patriotism is not it is not
patriotic to dodge the draft and to mock
war heroes and their families
it is not patriotic to discriminate
against active duty members of the Armed
Forces and one’s companies or a campaign
to keep disabled veterans away from
one’s property it is not patriotic to
compare one search for sexual partners
in New York with the military service in
Vietnam that one has dodged it is not
patriotic to avoid paying taxes
especially when American working
families do pay it is not patriotic to
ask those working taxpaying American
families to finance one’s own
presidential campaign and then to spend
their contributions in one’s own in
one’s own companies it is not patriotic
to admire foreign dictators it is not
patriotic to cultivate a relationship
with Muammar Gaddafi or to say that
Bashar al-assad and Vladimir Putin are
superior leaders it is not patriotic to
call upon Russia to intervene in an
American presidential election
it is not patriotic to cite Russian
propaganda at rallies it is not
patriotic to share an advisor with
Russian oligarchs and is not patriotic
to solicit foreign policy advice from
someone who owns shares in a Russian
energy company it is not patriotic to
read a foreign policy speech written by
someone on the payroll of a Russian
energy company it is not patriotic to
appoint a national security advisor who
is taking money from a Russian
propaganda organ it is not patriotic to
appointed Secretary of State an oil man
with Russian financial interests who is
the director of a Russian American
energy company and has received the
order of friendship from Putin the point
is not that Russia and America must be
enemies the point is that patriotism
involves serving your own country the
president is a nationalist which is not
at all the same things a patriot a
nationalist encourages us to be our
worst and then tells us that we are the
best a nationalist quote although
endlessly brooding on power victory
defeat revenge wrote Orwell tends to be
quote uninterested in what happens in
the real world
unquote nationalism is relativist since
the only truth is the resentment we feel
when we contemplate others as the
novelist bunnyville keys put it
nationalism quote has no universal
values aesthetic or ethical a patriot by
contrast wants the nation to live up to
its ideals which means asking us to be
our best selves a patriot must be
concerned with the real world which is
the only place where his country can be
loved and sustained a patriot has
universal values standards by which he
judges his nation always wishing it well
and wishing that it would do better
democracy failed in Europe in the 1920s
1930s and 1940s and it is failing
not only in much of Europe but in many
parts of the world today it is that
history and experience that reveals to
us the dark range of our possible
futures a nationalist will say that it
can’t happen here which is the first
step towards disaster a patriot says
that it could happen here look that we
will stop it thank
41:03
I don’t I don’t have a silver bullet for
that but I do have some ways of trying
to get one’s mind around it the first is
that is is technological I mean it just
it just turns out that the Internet does
not open the broad you know the broad
sweep towards the positive globalization
that Al Gore was dreaming of right in
the 1990s that just isn’t true just like
it wasn’t true with a book which brought
us the Wars of Religion right just like
it wasn’t true a radio which brought us
fascism all of these new I mean not
alone right but all of these new
technologies are extremely unpredictable
for some like transition period that may
last a hundred years right there they’re
very unpredictable so art like our kind
of and this is something this is a
bubble that I think Hillary Clinton
herself was caught in her campaign was
caught in people on these coats were
thought and people did not realize what
the internet actually was right what it
was actually doing and this is I mean
there’s an empirical thing here there’s
a technical thing here the empirical
thing is people just did not realize how
how siloed off we had become I didn’t
realize it until I actually started
talking to real took when I was
canvassing and talking to Trump voters
in the Midwest and then I realized like
this is so dumb but it was at that
moment that I realized just how
different my facebook feed was from
other people’s because if you hear from
what seemed to be 25 independent sources
that Hillary Clinton is a murderer and
you’ve been hearing it for six months
you might well believe it
all right I mean that’s not surprising
which is the technical thing not enough
people again really a Clinton campaign
whatever realized that
Donald Trump actually had a campaign
advantage right we talked incessantly
about being a ground game ground game I
saw the ground game you know it’s like
it’s twice all agree I what the ground
game in the AK in the ground game which
is below the ground game right and what
the Russians called a psycho sphere
Trump had a tremendous advantage how
much of that was actually is campaigning
how much there was actually the Russians
I don’t know but in terms of the bots in
terms of the technical distribution of
the false news at the generation and
technical distribution he had a huge
advantage and what turned out almost
certainly be a decisive advantage these
are things that we have to understand
and get our mind around now in terms of
what we can do I mean obviously like you
know Zuckerberg can do a lot and people
who are in charge of news distribution
can can do a lot there are two little
things I mean one is kind of just a
declaration I think 2017 is already and
is going to be a heroic year for
journalism I mean and I be absolutely
mean heroic like if this is going to
turn around it’s going to be because of
people pursuing old fashioned stories
and old-fashioned ways and printing and
publishing very often in print journals
who can afford or at least try to try to
afford to be able to do such things and
and I mean it’s also generationally like
there are a lot of really interesting
young people who now see journalism as
edgy and they’re right right like the
whole threat like that the phrase
mainstream media that’s not like what’s
mainstream is the derision of the media
that’s the mainstream right being a
journalist is now edgy and dangerous and
interesting right and I think maybe
historically meaningful and you know the
little thing I say in the book which is
obvious I’m sure you all do it is that
we need to pay for a bunch of
subscriptions because if everybody pays
for subscriptions that will actually be
enough to subsidize investigations right
and that I mean even we know that people
like us often don’t do that right and if
we all did it that would make a huge
difference and then finally there’s like
there’s the internet self policing which
is it we have to think we have to
remember that we are all now publishers
right and so therefore we all every
every individual makes a difference in
terms of what is actually being
distributed right if we think about it
that way then each of us can make us
feel better to write like if you picked
reporters from the real world follow
their work
get to know them as it were and then
distribute their work online then you’re
being a publisher who’s doing a little
bit of good so let the day-to-day level
that’s something that we can do thank
that the cleat and actually the question
we just had the cleavages are going to
change they’re already changing and in
Europe they’re it’s further along than
than here because certain things are
further along in Europe and here but I
think the real dividing lines are fact
and post fact and and
anti-authoritarianism authoritarianism
and I think the anti I think I agree
with your premise the anti-authoritarian
case is unfortunately a case that has to
be made right it can lose but I think
that’s the case that has to be made and
it goes back to how one wins also the
anti-authoritarian z– have to include a
good deal of my view conservatives
people who vote Republican right people
who people who think there should be a
Constitution although they would have
they would disagree about policy you
know perhaps with me right the
anti-authoritarian camp is gonna have to
include a lot of folks like that as well
so so so my answer is that of course
you’re right I mean the Bill of Rights
is there for the reason you give that’s
why the Bill of Rights is there it’s not
there because it’s popular it’s there
because it would be unpopular right who
wants to separate church and state it’d
be so much more fun to have my you know
my church right I mean who’s not tempted
by that right few people okay so like
okay I was going to list all I want a
favor anyway there are a few
denominations who have maybe not beats
but in general like we you belong for
rare tradition if you belong to a
tradition which has never try to take
over the state at some point or found a
state right so how is dividing church
and state popular it’s not meant to be
popular it’s meant to be sensible these
things are not meant to be popular and
so that means they have to be defended
precisely but I think I think there is
enough of a consensus around
Constitution that one can at least start
there as a way of shaming people or
gathering people but I mean my basic my
basic notion is that you get yeah it
goes on very deep it’s whether you’re
going to authoritarian or
anti-authoritarian and the people who
are trying to change things already know
they’re authoritarians right so here we
just one of the comments when Hillary
Clinton stated at the time that Russia
was taking over Crimea and invading rule
and she compared it to sedating land
takeover and everybody scoffs better she
had to pull it back but I don’t know
whether you thought that was more apt
than some B’s well I mean on and
Elizabeth who was a very gifted and
conservative Russian historian made the
same comparison and lost his lost his
job for it no of course it’s apt right
so here’s like here’s how Americans join
you with history the Americans deal with
history as though history were an mp3
and if it doesn’t sound exactly the same
when you punch the button as it did the
previous time then you think something’s
wrong right that’s what American says if
it does if it doesn’t repeat perfectly
so if Americans will say oh well there
no there no swastikas so no jackboots
I’m changing the channel I’m afraid like
that’s our Nats our national response to
the history this whole taboo thing about
the 1930s is a way of saying well in the
in the naive view and the naive view
it’s a way of saying okay we don’t know
anything about history that’s fine right
because no analogies can be perfect
I mean Crimean sedate land is actually
an extremely good analogy it’s a very
close analogy right but none is going to
be perfect right and so saying oh that’s
just an analogy or that’s a way of just
not thinking about history and once you
don’t think about history you’re done
you’re finished because history is the
only thing which teaches you how people
have successfully resisted it’s also the
only thing we teaches you how
institutions are constructed right so
the moment you say oh no comparisons
you’re done forget it right it’s over so
it’s a very it’s a very dangerous very
dangerous move and in the dark version
the non naive version in the dark
version it’s quite deliberate you know
you say well I you know I am NOT exactly
like Hitler and therefore it’s okay
right and we’re getting to that point
right you know they’re nothing is wrong
I’m overstating this slightly but not
much
nothing is wrong because they’re on
concentration camps yet no no no no you
know and there weren’t you know the
wrong concentration camps in in January
1933 either right okay

Andrew Johnson’s Violent Language — and Trump’s

The House should consider the president’s incendiary rhetoric as a separate offense, worthy of its own article of impeachment, as it was in 1868.

Over the weekend, in a rage over impeachment, President Trump accused Representative Adam Schiff of “treason,” promised “Big Consequences” for the whistle-blower who sounded the alarm about his phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine and shared a warning — from a Baptist pastor in Dallas — that impeachment “will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal.”

We’re already on to the next news cycle, but we shouldn’t lose sight of what happened with those tweets. The president was using the power and influence of his office to intimidate a witness and threaten a member of Congress with prosecution (of a crime still punishable by death), before raising the specter of large-scale political violence should lawmakers hold him responsible for his actions. If he had said this anywhere besides Twitter — in the Rose Garden or at a campaign stop — we would see it as a clear and unacceptable abuse of presidential rhetoric, his authoritarian instincts at work.

The House impeachment inquiry will almost certainly focus on Trump’s attempt to solicit foreign intervention in the 2020 election. If it goes beyond that, it might also include the president’s corruption and self-dealing. But in whichever direction the investigation goes, the House should consider Trump’s violent rhetoric as a separate offense, worthy of its own article of impeachment.

There’s precedent for making transgressive presidential speech a “high crime or misdemeanor.” The 10th article of impeachment against Andrew Johnson in 1868 was about his language and conduct over the course of his term. Two years earlier, Johnson had taken a tour of Northern cities to campaign against Radical Republicans in Congress and build support for his lenient policies toward the defeated South.

At first, it was a success, with large crowds cheering the president during events in Baltimore, New York and Philadelphia. But his fortunes turned in Cleveland, where the stubborn and taciturn Johnson unraveled in the face of hecklers. “The president was frequently interrupted by cheers, by hisses and by cries, apparently from those opposed to him in the crowd,” William Hudson, a reporter for The Cleveland Leader, wrote. When a heckler yelled, “Hang Jeff Davis!” — referring to the former leader of the Confederacy, then held at Fort Monroe in Virginia — Johnson replied, “Why don’t you hang him?” When another shouted, “Thad Stevens” — the chief Radical Republican in the House of Representatives — a now angry Johnson responded with “Why don’t you hang Thad Stevens and Wendell Phillips?” Phillips had been a leading abolitionist.

Johnson continued to speak, struggling to gain the upper hand with the crowd. By the end, however, the president was unhinged. “Come out where I can see you,” he said to one heckler. “If you ever shoot a man, you will do it in the dark and pull the trigger when no one else is by to see.” After witnessing this disastrous performance, an aide urged the president to consider the dignity of the office. Johnson was dismissive. “I don’t care about my dignity,” he reportedly said.

The tour didn’t improve. In St. Louis, as in Cleveland, hecklers yelled “New Orleans” in reference to a massacre that summer in which white Democrats, most of them ex-Confederates, attacked a large gathering of black Republican marchers, killing nearly 50 people. In response, Johnson said the “riot at New Orleans was substantially planned.” But he blamed Radical Republicans who, he said, encouraged the city’s “black population to arm themselves and prepare for the shedding of blood.” At this point, someone in the crowd called him a “traitor,” which — as Garry Boulard recounts in “The Swing Around the Circle: Andrew Johnson and the Train Ride That Destroyed a Presidency”  Johnson angrily denounced with one of the strangest tirades of the tour: “I have been traduced! I have been slandered. I have been maligned. I have been called Judas — Judas Iscariot and all of that.”

By the time it was over, Johnson had been humiliated and his reputation was in tatters. In The Atlantic Monthly, the essayist Edwin Percy Whipple summarized elite opinion of Johnson’s tour:

Never before did the first office in the gift of the people appear so poor an object of human ambition as when Andrew Johnson made it an eminence on which to exhibit inability to behave and incapacity to reason. His low cunning conspired with his devouring egoism to make him throw off all the restraints of official decorum, in the expectation that he would find duplicates of himself in the crowds he addressed and that mob diffused would heartily sympathize with Mob impersonated. Never was a blustering demagogue led by a distempered sense of self-importance into a more fatal error.

All of this would resurface in 1868, when the House adopted its 11 articles of impeachment against the president. Among them was a reference to his summer swing through the North — to the idea that Johnson had sullied the office of the presidency with dangerous, demagogic rhetoric. In its 10th article of impeachment, the House of Representatives accused Johnson of being “unmindful of the high duties of his office and the dignity and proprieties thereof.” His behavior, they argued, was an “attempt to bring into disgrace, ridicule, hatred, contempt and reproach the Congress of the United States” and to “impair and destroy the regard and respect of all the good people of the United States for the Congress and the legislative power thereof.”

Article 10 was divisive. Not necessarily because the Congress or its Republican majority had any love for Johnson, but because it raised difficult political and constitutional questions. How could anyone actually prove that Johnson meant to “impair and destroy” the regard of Congress? And while it’s true the president has unique duties, it’s also true that the president is entitled to the same freedom of speech that any other citizen has. His rhetoric was offensive, but was it impeachable?

Johnson’s opponents in the Senate opted not to test the case. They tried the president on just three articles of impeachment. And if not for the last-minute (and arguably self-interested) defection of Senator Edmund Ross of Kansas, Johnson would have been cast from office, the first president to be impeached and removed.

This is all to say that Trump easily meets the Andrew Johnson standard for impeachable rhetoric. For nearly three years, he has used the presidency to stir anger and incite hatred. He has rallied crowds with racist demagogy and threatened opponents with violence from his supporters. “I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump — I have the tough people,” Trump said in an interview with Breitbart in March. “But they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.” On Tuesday, he accused his Democratic opponents of orchestrating a coup.

If impeachment is about a pattern of behavior — if it’s about the sum total of a transgressive, unethical and unlawful presidency — then this rhetoric must be part of the final account. And it is a difficult case; we don’t want to criminalize speech. But presidential rhetoric isn’t just speech — it is a form of power, and like most of his other powers, Trump has been abusing it.

Donald Trump and the ‘Disloyal’ Jews

A president loyal only to himself uses my community as a political weapon.

The major debate tearing apart the American Jewish community on this particular Wednesday is whether or not the 45th president of the United States just accused them — us — of disloyalty to Israel and the Jewish people or of disloyalty to the Republican Party and the man who has remade it in his image.

“Where has the Democratic Party gone? Where have they gone where they are defending these two people over the state of Israel?” President Trump said on Tuesday, referring to Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, Democratic congresswomen who support the boycott movement against Israel. “And I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”

As my people say: Nu?

What do you hear in the president’s statement, which, like many things he blurts out, manages to be both opaque and outrageous at once? If you’re pro-Trump or Trump-curious, you’ll generously hear an assertion that Jews should be loyal to Israel. If you’re anything like me, you can’t help but hear echoes of the sinister charge of dual loyalty.

I’ve been around enough tables with pro-Trump Jews to strongly suspect that this is a riff on a theme Mr. Trump himself has overheard at many dinners with Ivanka and Jared, the favorite daughter and dauphin: dismay that even those Jews who have appreciated the president’s Israel policies — moving the Embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, cracking down on Iran — will never pull the lever for him.

It’s easy to imagine what they say: Look how much you’ve done. More than any other president. They should be grateful. Why can’t they see that? Why can’t they see that the Democratic Party has abandoned them? Meantime, you’re more pro-Israel than most American Jews! Indeed, on Wednesday afternoon at the White House, Mr. Trump clarified as much: “If you want to vote Democrat, you are being very disloyal to Jewish people and very disloyal to Israel.”

Brace yourself for further presidential Twitter rants on the matter because I do not believe that Mr. Trump is capable of higher-order thoughts about loyalty — loyalty to the office in which he sits, loyalty to the Republic, and, above all, loyalty to the idea of keeping America united. Fealty to him is the only litmus test.

Indeed, if we have learned anything about the former host of “The Apprentice,” it is that he looks at the world in the exact way he looked at those contestants. You’re a winner or you’re a loser. You’re for him or you’re a turncoat. In his small mind, if you’re on Team Jew, you vote for his party because Republicans are pro-Israel and, therefore, pro-Jew. If you’re on Team Anti-Semite, well, then you vote for the other guys.

All of which is why I have zero doubt that if the prime minister of Israel criticized Mr. Trump on the wrong day or in the wrong way, the president would dump Israel at that very moment. And it is why anyone with a shred of knowledge about Jewish history should be extremely concerned.

If 2,000 years of diasporic living has taught the Jews anything, it’s that an existence that is contingent upon the kindness of strangers is never too safe or too long lasting. A president with authoritarian tendencies who cares about nothing more than lock-step loyalty is not one American Jews, let alone anyone, can rely on.

More to the point: Will white supremacists, like the one arrested Monday in Ohio, or the one arrested Tuesday in Miami, parse these Talmudic distinctions about who was, in fact, the subject of the disloyalty in that Tuesday sentence? Or will they hear — as they have always heard in this president’s rants against the globalists, the elitists, the invading immigrants organized by George Soros, and all the shady forces keeping the hard-working men and women of America down — the word “Jew”?

The Jews of America are in the midst of a political crisis, sped along at breakneck speed by a president asking us, bluntly, to choose. Vote for a party whose base seems increasingly in thrall with newbie politicians who are unapologetic supporters of the B.D.S. movement, a new face of old anti-Semitism, even as the party’s leadership remains pro-Israel. Or vote for the party led by a man who is loyal to nothing but himself, who actively sets Americans against one other, and, more, genuinely seems to thrill at creating a disunited state of America.

We are increasingly a people apart. Which self-mutilation, so many of us wonder, is worse? Abandon the universal values our community has always championed? Or abandon the particularism without which we cease to be Jews at all?

Our predicament would be entirely familiar to the Jews of Babylon and Berlin and every community that has been erased in between. But that it is facing the greatest diaspora in Jewish history has shocked those who always believed we were the lucky ones.

To preserve all that has ever made American Jews — and America — great, we cannot allow this man to tear us apart.