Chris Matthews, Mussolini And Praising Murder: MSNBC Host Travels The Low Road

July 1st, 2017 Comments off

Since 1999, Chris Mathews has hosted “Hardball with Chris Matthews”  on MSNBC. All those years as a centerpiece of the liberal-leaning cable news network have, however, left Mr. Matthews none the wiser when it comes to historical reality. A recent comment on-air by Mr. Matthews is a glaring example of this.

In the  June 29 airing of “Hardball with Chris Matthews,” the host pursued one of his favorite themes since Donald Trump was sworn in as America’s 45th president; nepotism and allegations that Trump is creating a family dynasty akin to the Romanovs of Imperial Russia. However, in pursuing his obsession, particularly in relation to the president’s  son-in-law Jared Kushner, Mr. Matthews’  words ran way ahead of him. Referring to Kushner, Mr. Matthews said, “So the son-in-law, you know, one good thing Mussolini did was execute his son-in-law.”

Really?

Putting aside the poor taste of at least creating the impression that Mr. Matthews thinks it might be doing “one good thing” for President Trump to have his son-in-law executed, the comment reveals a dismal lack of historical knowledge, particularly for a long-time political commentator who has built a reputation for sophisticated insights.

 Regarding the “one good thing” Mussolini did, here is the historical context. The son-in-law in question was Count Galeazzo Ciano, who married Mussolini’s daughter Edda. In 1936, he was appointed foreign minister of Fascist Italy by his father-in-law.

Ciano was initially an ardent fascist, and supported Mussolini’s worst excesses, such as the invasion of Ethiopia and support of Franco in the Spanish Civil War. However, when Ciano was assigned the role of representing Mussolini  in negotiations with Hitler over the developing Axis alliance between the two totalitarian states, the young foreign minister  (he was only 33 years  old when appointed  to his post) began to change his views. Over time, he came to see the evil in Hitler, and when Nazi Germany invaded  Poland, he did everything humanly possible to keep his country out of the Second World War. He argued vociferously with his father-in-law that entering the war would be a disaster for Italy, and for nine months succeeded in at least delaying Mussolini’s declaration of war.

We know a great deal about Ciano’s transformation in his attitude towards Mussolini and his Nazi allies because he kept a detailed diary recording his candid observations, especially about the leaders of Nazi Germany and the warmongers in his own country. The Ciano diaries would become an important source document for historians of the Second World War. On the day Mussolini overruled his son-in-law and decided to enter the war as Nazi Germany’s ally, Ciano wrote  in his diary, “I am sad, very sad. The  adventure begins. May God help Italy!”

As far as the execution  Mussolini  ordered for his son-in-law, the act that Chris Matthews highlighted as the “one good thing” Mussolini did, here are the facts. In mid-1943, Ciano was one of the members of the Fascist Grand Council who voted to depose Mussolini,  believing only through the dictator’s removal could Italy be spared from becoming a bloody battlefield. Unfortunately, German military intervention rescued Mussolini, and ensured that Italy would become a major battlefield in the Second World War. Ciano was taken into custody by Mussolini’s rump fascist state and its German protectors. Seeking revenge, Mussolini arranged for a show trial that would condemn to death all the members of the Fascist Grand Council who voted for his removal. Ciano was at the top of the list of “traitors,” not only for his opposition to Mussolini, but also because the Nazi leadership knew Ciano was an enemy, and encouraged Mussolini to have his son-in-law killed.

In prison awaiting death, Ciano arranged with his wife  having his diaries smuggled out of Italy. The last entry of the diary is deeply moving. Ciano condemns Mussolini, marking his final break with the fascist regime, then writes, “Within a few days  a sham tribunal will make public a sentence which has already been decided by Mussolini…It is hard to think that I shall not be able to gaze into the eyes of my three children or to press my mother to my heart, or my wife, who in my hours of sorrow has revealed herself a strong, sure, and faithful companion. But I must bow to the will of God, and a great calm is descending upon my soul. I am preparing myself for the Supreme Judgment.”

And so, Mr. Matthews, explain again how the execution of this man was the one good thing Mussolini did, and why this is an example that President Donald Trump should emulate?

 

 

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Trump and Xi Jinping Summit Will Impact Global Economy

April 10th, 2017 Comments off

The introductory summit meeting between Chinese president Xi Jinping and President Donald Trump at the latter’s estate in Mar-a-Lago, Florida will ultimately have the most significant implications for the global economy. If Trump sticks to his campaign rhetoric, China and the United States are headed for a trade war, with dire effect for those two countries and the entire world economy. The atmospherics that  emerged at Mar-a-Lago, give cause for cautious optimism.

Undoubtedly, Trump and his Chinese counterpart know the risks of a full-fledged trade war between the two largest economies on the planet. The positive atmosphere that emerged from the summit points to a recognition that hard bargaining is pending, but ultimately a stable bilateral economic relationship between Washington and Beijing is in everyone’s best interests.

The wild card will be if external issues, particularly North Korea’s nuclear  and ballistic missile program, as well as Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea, will undercut rational economic calculations.

 

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Trump And Global Economy

January 3rd, 2017 Comments off
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: AMERICA"S POLITICAL EARTHQUAKE, a Kindle eBook

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: AMERICA”S POLITICAL EARTHQUAKE, a Kindle eBook

What will 2017 bring for the global economy? Since the global economic crisis and financial meltdown of 2007-08, the world’s economy has been on life support, unsolved problems papered over by massive liquidity injections and zero-interest rates by a multitude of central banks. This monetary chemotherapy cannot be sustained indefinitely, and by the pattern of normal business cycles, the world is overdue for another recession.

Added to all the uncertainties, we now have the shock election victory of Donald Trump in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Trump ran as an economic nationalist. Will he bring about a trade war with China, the world’s number 2 economic power?

For better or for worse, Trump will have the most important impact on the 2017 global economy.

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President Donald Trump: An Earthquake For America’s Media

December 4th, 2016 Comments off

The election of Donald J. Trump as America’s 45th president was not only an irredeemable defeat for the political establishment in the U.S. in general, and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in particular. It represented a seismic shock for the nation’s mainstream news media. Never before had American journalism, in print and on-air, been so invested in confidently, even boastfully, predicting the impossibility of one of the two major contenders for president winning the White House. And never before has the hubris and complacency of the establishment media been do devastatingly shattered.

In the wake of its failure, the humility one would expect from the media has been largely lacking. Instead of a post-mortem introspective on its journalistic failures, much of the media has been looking for scapegoats outside the confines of the Fourth Estate. In addition, some in the conservative faction of mainstream media have blamed the failures in news reporting on Trump’s campaign on the old standby slogan; “liberal media bias. ”

If “liberal media bias” is responsible for a lousy job by journalists covering the 2016 presidential campaign, then how does one explain the fact that Fox News, a paragon of mainstream conservative journalism , hosted many talking heads who told the American electorate that Donald Trump could not win, even in the early evening of November 8, 2016, when the first election results filtered into the newsrooms? Then there is the example of ultra-liberal, progressive and leftist documentary film maker Michael Moore. Three months before the votes were counted, Moore penned a prescient piece on  his website entitled, “5 Reasons Why Trump Will Win (http://michaelmoore.com/trumpwillwin/). The film maker made no bones about his deep contempt for Trump. Yet, when it came to analyzing the dynamics of the 2016 presidential election, Moore had the intellectual integrity to put aside his personal bias, and judge the likely outcome on an objective analysis of facts he knew through deep connection with many of the voting constituencies that would prove pivotal for Trump’s electoral triumph. His most emphatic prediction was that Trump would win the rustbelt states of Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, giving him the presidency. And that is exactly what happened. So, ideology would not appear to have been a decisive factor in explaining why the media got the election so wrong.

These are the three primary reasons I believe explain why America’s major news organizations failed to  adequately cover the major news story of 2016; Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

 

  1. The traditional separation between news reporting and editorializing broke down. For generations, the power of American journalism has been objectivity, with news coverage being uninfluenced by the editorial posture of a newspaper, radio or television network. This Chinese Wall that underpinned the traditional integrity of news coverage and separated the straight news department from the editorial side of a news  organization largely vanished in 2016. Much of what was passed on to the public as straight news coverage of the Trump campaign could have been  composed by the editorial department, and had the character of political propaganda, often indistinguishable from the musings of Trump’s GOP and Democratic opponents. While it was certainly within the purview of editorial writers to express critical views of Donald Trump, when supposed journalists composed similar views in the guise of news, it short-circuited their ability to understand the revolution in political affairs that was sweeping America in 2016. It is ironic that Donald Trump and Michael Moore understood this dynamic, while the men and women whose profession it is to report and explain such phenomena almost entirely missed it.
  2. Journalists suffered from a failure of imagination. Clearly, America’s political establishment – Republican and Democratic – failed to understand the internal forces at work in American society that paved the way for a President Trump. However, too many political journalists relied on sources within this same myopic establishment. This meant that often their perspective was undifferentiated from  that  of the traditional political establishment in the United States. By being embedded with the political establishment, many journalists assigned to cover the presidential election were constricted in their ability to look beyond conventional norms for conducting a successful presidential campaign. The dismissive tone towards Trump’s unconventional and unprecedented presidential campaign reflects this failure of imagination. This resulted in journalistic myopia, manifested in news coverage that grossly underestimated the impact and effectiveness of the Donald J. Trump For President campaign.
  3. American news organizations did not comprehend the power of celebrity and social media in shaping the presidential campaign . There was much reporting in the final weeks of the presidential campaign on the superiority of Hillary Clinton’s ground game, traditional media advertising and the overall imposing strength of her campaign infrastructure. The word coming out of news organizations in America was not only that the Democratic nominee was ahead in the polls; her powerful ground operation would guarantee a strong voter turnout, while the supposedly all-but-invisible Trump ground effort meant all he could rely on were campaign rallies, which many in the media suggested, based on  historical precedent, would almost certainly prove inferior in generating voter turnout. What American journalists did not get was that celebrity branding, just as in the consumer marketplace, has increasingly been the most decisive factor in the nation’s political campaigning. Not only did Donald Trump have perhaps the most powerful celebrity brand in America; its fusion with an array of social media platforms enabled the candidate to build an unprecedented level of interconnection with potentially tens of millions of voters, bypassing the need for a conventional campaign infrastructure, traditional advertising and even a reliance on favorable news coverage by the mass media. For the most part, the nation’s journalists were largely ignorant of these tectonic shifts occurring within the presidential campaign landscape.

 

Come January 20, 2017, Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States. Incisive, accurate and thoughtful reporting on the incoming Trump administration will be crucial for the American people. However, such a level of journalistic quality will only occur if the news organizations of America demonstrate humility, recognize the many failures  and inadequacies in the manner in which they covered the 2016 presidential election, and earnestly learn and apply the lessons that are so clearly manifested. Failure to do will reduce their role to irrelevancy among a large part of the American people, as the era of Trump is upon us.

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Will Deutsche Bank Be The Next Lehman Brothers?

October 5th, 2016 Comments off

One of the leading banking institutions in the world, Deutsche Bank, is under steep pressure, as word circulated that the U.S. Department of Justice is seeking to impose fine and penalties on the German banking giant in the range of $14 billion. The assumption that the bank’s liquidity would be insufficient to meet such a liability, which DOJ is looking to impose on Deutsche Bank due to its mortgage securities  shenanigans  during the global financial collapse of 2007-08.

Stock prices for Deutsche Bank shares have undergone massive volatility. Undoubtedly there is much pressure on DOJ to slash the fines and penalties it is seeking from Deutsche Bank to a fraction of the $14 billion being floated. It is likely that DOJ will compromise, as everyone fears the counter-party risks if Deutsche Bank goes under. However, even with a reduced DOJ penalty, there may be other shoes about to drop at Deutsche Bank, which dues to its size, threatens the global financial system with a Lehman-like meltdown.

 

 

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U.S. Economy Stuck At One Percent Growth

August 26th, 2016 Comments off

The corrected data released by the Commerce Department for the second quarter of 2016 is even a little worse than the already bad initial estimate. In Q2 the American economy registered GDP “growth” of a lackluster 1.1 percent. This follows similar data for Q1, indicating that in the first half of 2016 the U.S. economy grew by only a dismal one percent.

Despite hundreds of billions of dollars in deficit spending, the U.S. economy remains at stall speed. Without hundreds of billions of dollars in deficit spending, America’s economy would without a doubt plunge into a technical recession. Thus, less than three-months ahead of the U.S. presidential election, the Obama economy will not be one of the arrows in Hillary Clinton’s quiver. This may also provide Donald Trump with more ammunition, as the perception of a robust economic recovery in the United Sates fades from reality.

 

 

 

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Brexit Has Implications For Hillary Clinton And Donald Trump In Upcoming Presidential Election

June 25th, 2016 Comments off

 

The decision by Britain’s electorate to leave the European Union will have monumental consequences for the future world order. Ian Bremmer, the respected geopolitical analyst and head of the Eurasia Group consultancy, tweeted thus, “Brexit is the most significant political risk the world has experienced since the Cuban Missile Crisis.” Stock markets are withering, the British currency is plummeting and  Prime Minster David Cameron has announced his resignation,  as the economic and political aftershocks are only beginning to be comprehended. However, it is the geopolitical tremors that will have the most far-reaching impact globally. That includes the United States, which is in the midst of an increasingly vitriolic and divisive presidential campaign.

What has stunned observers about the outcome of the Brexit campaign is that the referendum’s result ran counter to what the analysts, supposed expert prognosticators and well-compensated pundits had so confidently predicted. The established experts had even convinced supporters of Brexit that they would likely lose the referendum, in the hours before actual voting occurred. That is why bourses across the globe soared, and the British pound reached record highs, until reality radically reversed those trends. The odds-makers clearly were convinced that British voters would choose to remain in the European Union. The actual, unpredicted outcome was an unmitigated defeat for the UK’s political establishment across the political spectrum, and that aspect has the greatest resonance with the battle between Clinton and Trump to succeed Barack Obama as America’s 45th President.

Just as with the Brexit referendum, America’s own class of political consultants and expert commentators for months assessed Donald Trump’s presidential campaign to be a megalomaniacal joke, with no chance of prevailing in the Republican Party’s presidential Primary. When Trump  emerged victorious in the GOP presidential selection process before Hillary Clinton had secured the Democratic Party’s nomination, the same experts, rather than being reflective and self-critical, have largely double-downed on failure, and remain steadfast in their prediction that Trump has no realistic possibility of winning November’s presidential election.

Setting aside the occasional diatribes of Trump that tend to obfuscate a cogent analysis of his campaign’s actual strength, it is clear that the political dynamics that led to the stunning vote in the United Kingdom to exit the European Union are also at play in the United States, to the benefit of the real estate mogul. The British electorate revealed itself as being alienated from their nation’s political establishment, with public policy on immigration a crucial driving force in shaping attitudes prior to the Brexit vote. In the U.S. Primary campaign, similar forms of disenchantment underpinned Trump’s ability to vanquish his GOP competitors.

In November 2016 American voters will choose between one candidate being the quintessential representative of the discredited and abhorred political establishment, and the other candidate powerfully branded as the ultimate anti-establishment figure. The legion of America’s political experts who, despite evidence that the domestic  electorate seeks change  in 2016, remain fixed in their view that Trump cannot win, may prove, as with their British counterparts, to have been unduly confident in the validity of their political estimates on the mood of the voters.

 

 

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U.S. Jobs Report For May A Disaster – – Only 38,000 New Jobs Created

June 3rd, 2016 Comments off

The U.S. Labor  Department has issued its employment data for May, and it is an unmitigated disaster. A mere 38,000 new jobs — many of them part-time — were created, while the supposedly stellar jobs numbers for previous months were revised downwards.  This is an appallingly bad employment report, yet the same Labor Department claims that the unemployment rate in the United States actually declined to  4.7 percent

It should be recalled that to keep pace with population growth, the American economy must add at least a quarter of a million new jobs each month.  If the result of a dismal 38,000 jobs in May is a supposed decline in the unemployment rate in the U.S., the only explanation is that many discouraged job seekers have supposedly “left” the work force, meaning that they are no longer considered by the Labor Department to be unemployed.

The jobs report for May, a disaster by any definition, explains the official and unofficial realities of the U.S. economy in 2016. The Obama administration maintains that the employment situation in the country is excellent; the data , devoid of spin, displays the exact opposite.

 

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U.S. Economy Stalled in First Quarter of 2016 – – What Are The Implications For The Presidential Election?

April 28th, 2016 Comments off

In a presidential election year, this is not a good harbinger the Hillary Clinton, the likely nominee of the incumbent party in power. Results for Q1 of 2016 show that the American economy grew by a paltry 0.5 percent. That is essentially zero-growth, after seven-years of multi-trillion dollar fiscal stimulus by the Obama administration, plus trillions more in monetary stimulus courtesy of the Federal Reserve.

Despite rosy – -and highly manipulated figures – –  for unemployment in the United States, the reality is that the U.S. economy is at stall speed, with growing signs of economic contraction across the globe, in conjunction with a sustained and devastating collapse in oil prices. If a recession, real or perceived, emerges by the fall, the most likely Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, will receive an immense advantage in the contest for the 45th president of the U.S.

 

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Wealth Destruction On China Stock Markets

March 7th, 2016 Comments off

A recent statistic puts in perspective what has been happening on the major equity exchanges in China, the world’s second largest economy. In June 2015 the capitalization of China’s stock markets attained a peak value equal to ten trillion U.S. dollars. Eight months later, in February 2016, the figure had declined to 5.7 trillion dollars. This massive decline in value of 4.3 trillion dollars, represents a contraction of 43 percent – – close to half of the peak value of Chinese equities..

Losing more than forty percent of the value of the stock markets in the world second biggest economy in only eight months may not be attracting great headlines at present. However, what has been happening represents China’s unique version of the 1929 stock market crash on Wall Street that launched the Great Depression of the 1930s. Food for thought.

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