The Real Steve Bannon Revealed!

Steve Bannon (photo credit: Don Irvine via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)

A marvelous interview with Donald Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon has suddenly appeared in, no less, The Hollywood Reporter: Ringside With Steve Bannon at Trump Tower as the President-Elect’s Strategist Plots “An Entirely New Political Movement” (Exclusive).” It is a perfect antidote to the McCarthyite insults being heaped on Bannon by the elitist left and its handmaiden, the mainstream media.

Bannon is a provocateur. No sin in that; the left has a plethora of provocateurs.

By every account he is an open-minded, generous (albeit demanding) soul. The media’s efforts to smear him are the most shameful application of “Tailgunner Joe,” guilt-by-association tactics seen since the days of the House Un-American Activities Committee. Wolff quotes Bannon:

“I’m not a white nationalist, I’m a nationalist. I’m an economic nationalist,” he tells me. “The globalists gutted the American working class and created a middle class in Asia. The issue now is about Americans looking to not get f—ed over. If we deliver” — by “we” he means the Trump White House — “we’ll get 60 percent of the white vote, and 40 percent of the black and Hispanic vote and we’ll govern for 50 years. That’s what the Democrats missed.”

Wolff goes on to observe:

Breitbart, with its casual provocations — lists of its varied incitements … were in hot exchange after the election among appalled Democrats — is as opaque to the liberal-donor-globalist class as Lena Dunham might be to the out-of-work workingman class.

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Will President Trump or Clinton Evade What Sunk the Ford, Carter, Bush and Obama Economy?

Whoever wins the presidency there is a lurking issue, the most underappreciated issue in politics.  Getting it wrong destroyed the economy (and contributed to ending the presidencies) of Ford and Carter and tarnished the records of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Reagan and Clinton got it right and went on to handsome re-election.

The political and economic elites are curiously blind to it. An iconic cartoon by Benita Epstein (view it at benitaepstein.com) shows a myopic middle-aged man gazing into a refrigerator full of nothing but butter. It’s captioned “Hon, where’s the butter?” It is the defining image of “Male Refrigerator Blindness.”

Something like — let’s go gender-neutral trendy — Refrigerator Blindness — Obliviousness to the Obvious — is crushing our prosperity. This would be hilarious … except that misery from a lousy economy has driven millions of able-bodied workers into poverty or near poverty.

The death of the American Dream isn’t funny. It’s tragic.

Refrigerator Blindness is not just a comical trope. An inability to see what’s as plain as the nose on your face is a pop culture meme for an actual Thing, one technically called a “negative hallucination.” Per Encyclopedia.com:

The term [negative hallucination] first appeared in “Psychical (or Mental) Treatment” (Freud, 1890), an article relating to hypnosis. Freud wrote that it was possible to suggest to a hypnotized subject that he or she not see a person or thing that would be present to the subject upon awakening; in such cases the object appears to be “thin air” (p.

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Memo to President Trump or President Clinton: The Gold Standard Made America Both Good and Great

Campaign poster for Republican presidential candidate William McKinley, 1900.

Marc Levinson writing recently in The Wall Street Journal provides a very pessimistic view for the American Dream, “Why the Economy Doesn’t Roar Anymore: The long boom after World War II left Americans with unrealistic expectations, but there’s no going back to that unusual Golden Age“:

People who had thought themselves condemned to be sharecroppers in the Alabama Cotton Belt or day laborers in the boot heel of Italy found opportunities they could never have imagined. The French called this period les trente glorieuses, the 30 glorious years. Germans spoke of the Wirtschaftswunder, the economic miracle, while the Japanese, more modestly, referred to “the era of high economic growth.” In the English-speaking countries, it has more commonly been called the Golden Age.

[…]

The Golden Age was the first sustained period of economic growth in most countries since the 1920s. But it was built on far more than just pent-up demand and the stimulus of the postwar baby boom. Unprecedented productivity growth around the world made the Golden Age possible. In the 25 years that ended in 1973, the amount produced in an hour of work roughly doubled in the U.S. and Canada, tripled in Europe and quintupled in Japan.

[…]

Ever since the Golden Age vanished amid the gasoline lines of 1973, political leaders in every wealthy country have insisted that the right policies will bring back those heady days. Voters who have been trained to expect that their leaders can deliver something more than ordinary are likely to find reality disappointing.

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To Trump and Clinton: Heed the Lesson Jimmy Carter Never Learned

From left: Donald Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (credit: Gage Skidmore/Marc Nozell)

Yesterday I observed here how the 2016 race reflects American conditions in the late 1970s — also stagnant — and how the political elites are echoing President Jimmy Carter’s feckless reaction in his notorious July 15, 1979 address to the nation in which he said, in part:

The threat is nearly invisible in ordinary ways. It is a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our nation.

The erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and the political fabric of America.

What’s really going on? The destruction of our social and political fabric derives from stagnation, not vice versa.

My Letter to the Left: the Gold Standard Will Restore Upward Mobility was an analysis of an important piece by Stan Sorscher in The Huffington Post, itself headlined “Inequality — “X” Marks the Spot — Dig Here.” Sorscher perceptively wrote:

The second message is the very abrupt transition from the post-war historic period to the current one. Something happened in the mid-70’s to de-couple wages from productivity gains.

The third message is that workers’ wages – accounting for inflation and all the lower prices from cheap imported goods – would be double what they are now, if workers still took their share of gains in productivity.

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Clinton’s Campaign of Firepower Is Losing the 2016 Election Against Trump’s Guerrilla Tactics

From left: Donald Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (credit: Gage Skidmore/Marc Nozell)

Much to the incredulity of the elite political class, Donald Trump is rapidly closing the gap and even surpassing Hillary Clinton. This extends to the critical electoral college swing states. Trump can stumble. Hillary could reboot and change the calculus.  That said, right now: advantage Trump.

It gets harder with each passing day to change the fundamental dynamics of the race. The core dynamics of this are masked by a mainstream media preoccupation with non-issues such as Clinton’s walking pneumonia, Trump’s acknowledgement that Obama was born in Hawaii, and so forth.

All that is noise. Few voters care about such trivia. Rather, voters care about prosperity, peace, and who seems better able to protect their interests and their values.

Above all, now, the voters care about the American Dream, composed of two elements: Prosperity and Economic Justice.

Both are legitimate and essential.

[…]

Trump was the one Republican candidate during the primaries who drew a line in the sand against cutting Social Security benefits. He threatens punitive action against Big Business for shipping jobs to cheap labor places like Mexico. Believe it or not … like it or not … the message “I’m with you” resonates with workers. (Full disclosure, I’m proudly a dues paying member of the AFL-CIO.)

I’ll take a boss who breaches etiquette but offers raises, bonuses, and opportunity for promotions. That’s preferable to one who has excellent manners but would manage the company – America — so there was no way up for me.

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Hillary Clinton Elevates the Federal Reserve to God-Status

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (photo credit: State Chancellery of Latvia via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)

On Monday, Donald Trump stated what is essentially a fact to anyone who follows financial markets — the Federal Reserve has created a “false economy” that has artificially inflated the stock market.

Via Reuters:

“They’re keeping the rates down so that everything else doesn’t go down,” Trump said in response to a reporter’s request to address a potential rate hike by the Federal Reserve in September. “We have a very false economy,” he said.

“At some point the rates are going to have to change,” Trump, who was campaigning in Ohio on Monday, added. “The only thing that is strong is the artificial stock market,” he said.

This isn’t controversial. The financial media constantly speculate about whether the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates and how that will impact the markets. It is generally understood that higher interest rates spell trouble for equities — and that would be especially true given the historically overbought status of the stock market.

Hillary Clinton certainly knows this. She’s not stupid. But, whether out of loyalty to Goldman Sachs or out of political expediency, Clinton responded to Trump’s comments by defending the Federal Reserve as an institution that should be above reproach:

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton criticized Republican rival Donald Trump on Tuesday for making comments about the Federal Reserve’s monetary policies, which she said should be off-limits for U.S. presidents and presidential candidates.

“You should not be commenting on Fed actions when you are either running for president or you are president,” Clinton told reporters on her campaign plane.

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The Fed’s Surrealistic “Melting Clocks” Monetary Policy Is the American Dream Killer

Salvador Dali with Babou, the ocelot and cane. 1965. (via Wikimedia Commons)

Houston, we’ve had a problem here.” With those low-key words, command module pilot Jack Swigert of Apollo 13 revealed that, in the later recollection of mission commander James A. Lovell, its “oxygen tank No. 2 blew up, causing No. 1 tank also to fail. We came to the slow conclusion that our normal supply of electricity, light, and water was lost, and we were about 200,000 miles from Earth.” NASA’s heroic and successful effort to return the crew safely home is part of national lore and history.

Washington, we’ve had a problem here,we, the voters, are saying, far more emphatically. The most recent government measure shows that America’s economic growth rate slowed, in the last quarter, to a rate of only 1.1 percent, about one-third of normal American economic growth rates.

This may not sound like a big deal. But it is. It means that job creation, including our ability to get better jobs, raises, bonuses and promotions, has vanished.

It means the death of the American Dream. Poor growth compounded over time is the prime cause of the collapse in people looking for work, the ballooning of the federal deficit, and the weakness in our social insurance programs, Social Security and Medicare.

Breaking News! There’s a solution, and the Wall Street Journal editorial board finally, for the first time, has weighed in to advocate that solution (or at least the process from which a solution can be derived):

One place for Congress to start would be to pass Rep. 

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What to Expect From Trump’s Major Economic Speech

There is a lot of speculation about what Donald Trump will propose in his economic speech today in Detroit.

But what makes Trump’s speech unique? What separates Trump’s proposals from the past two GOP nominees?

Unlike John McCain or Mitt Romney, Trump’s economic plan will speak primarily to workers and secondarily to businesses.

Since 2013, American Principles Project has argued that the corporate-focused economic message of the GOP is a general election loser. Instead of transparently advocating for businesses and business owners, we have argued that the GOP economic message should center on workers and their families and how to address their immediate economic needs. This should be the priority. Focusing on relief to “job-creators” should be an ancillary issue.

Trump’s entire economic message has focused on workers and families, specifically those that have been hurt by illegal immigration and bad trade deals. While we may disagree on the efficacy of addressing these problems, there should be no doubt regarding the politics of putting working families first — it’s a winner and it’s why Trump has gotten this far.

The New York Times ran a story a few days ago that made the case that “reformocons” were trying to use Trump as a vehicle to turn the GOP into more of a workers party — something Trump has already stated as a goal.

What are they advising him? Instead of handing out big tax breaks to wealthy individuals, why not expand tax cuts and credits to the poor and middle class? Continue Reading

Could Trump Re-energize the Conservative Movement?

Jeff Bell, the American Principles Project’s Policy Director and occasional contributor to The Pulse 2016, was recently featured in an interview with National Review writer Neal Freeman about the 2016 election and the rise of Donald Trump.

Although some conservatives have strenuously opposed Trump’s nomination as the Republican Party’s standard-bearer in 2016 and have refused to support him, Bell believes that Trump’s success may ultimately be a “net plus for conservatism” — if he can get the GOP’s economic agenda back on track. And to do that, Bell sees one policy item as absolutely critical:

Donald Trump (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

FREEMAN: … In what way could Trump wind up as a net plus for conservatism, with the latter defined for this purpose as Buckleyite conservatism?

BELL: The key political development in the post-Reagan era is the decline of conservative economics. Beginning with James Carville’s “It’s the economy, stupid” strategy in 1992, Republicans have not won the economic debate in a single presidential cycle. Moreover, as weak as the Obama economy has been, economic growth in 15 years of Democratic presidencies has been superior to the twelve years of Bush presidencies.

Voters continue to blame George W. Bush more than Barack Obama for the economic hard times that began in 2007. Conventional conservative economics of the type espoused by Jeb Bush, John Kasich, and Marco Rubio lost every primary this year but Ohio and Puerto Rico. They barely mentioned wage stagnation or work-force decline and offered what sounded like trivial and incremental fixes.

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WATCH: New Pro-Trump Ads Display Shift in GOP Economic Message

Hillary Clinton’s campaign has been massively outspending Donald Trump on advertising since the beginning of this election, including in several key swing states. According to one report, as of July 13th the Clinton campaign and pro-Clinton PACs had booked more than $111 million on TV and radio ads through the election, while Trump and his PACs had booked a little over $650,000, due in part to GOP megadonors’ hesitance in supporting him.

This week, however, one pro-Trump super PAC is trying to start closing that gap, with a $1 million ad buy in several swing states. Politico reports that the group, Rebuilding America, will be airing two new ads in a number of swing states, including ad time in Pennsylvania during the Democratic convention next week.

The two new spots focus on the outsourcing of American jobs. One attacks Clinton’s paid speeches, outlining what the ad describes as a willingness to outsource American jobs for money. The second, a rare positive ad for Trump, depicts a bright future for “craftsmen and tradespeople and factory workers” under a Trump presidency. Focusing primarily on American steelworkers, the second ad draws a sharp contrast to the economic message of Mitt Romney four years ago.

Skilled craftsmen and tradespeople and factory workers, have seen the jobs they love shipped thousands of miles away. It doesn’t have to be this way. We can turn it around.

It will be American steel, just like the American steel that built the Empire State Building, that will fortify America’s crumbling bridges.

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