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The Wrongologist

Geopolitics, Power and Political Economy

Review of: “Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World”

The Daily Escape:

Bayanzag Flaming Cliffs is a region of the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. Photo via Khaan Tours. In the early 20th century, these cliffs gained worldwide fame for an incredible collection of fossils.

While in Europe, Wrongo finished reading “Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World” a history of the Mongol dynasty written in 2004 by Jack Weatherford, a former professor of anthropology. It is a fascinating journey from the 13th Century through the 14th Century. His specialty is histories of tribal peoples.

Weatherford presents Genghis Khan and his dynasty in wonderful detail. But the book reads as much like an adventure story, as it does history. Wrongo’s view of Khan was shaped as much by Hollywood caricatures as it was by his degree in history. It turns out that Khan was not simply the ring leader of a group of barbarians, he unified the Mongols, forming them into a fighting machine that conquered nearly all of Asia, the Middle East, and parts of Europe.

The book shows the important role of the Mongols in creating a precursor to the modern world. Initially, through warfare. Their military innovation was the lightly armed warfighter on horseback. Charging horsemen went against foot soldiers often accompanied by a relatively small, heavily armored cavalry. Genghis Khan was the original inventor of blitzkrieg. Time after time, the Mongols’ disciplined horsemen, moving in coordinated units, defeated much larger armies. The Mongol armies were undefeated for nearly 100 years.

But Khan’s greatest achievement was the redrawing of the boundaries of the modern world. His armies united a dozen Slavic principalities and cities into a large Russian state. They created a single state of China, and unified Korea and India.

It was the Mongolian Khans, rather than the Han Chinese, who founded Beijing. Their Yuan dynasty ruled until 1368.

The Mongols captured both Baghdad and Damascus in two years, something the European Crusaders had been unable to achieve in two centuries. The last Mogul in India was removed by the British in 1857. The Russians took over the original homeland of the Khans in Mongolia, in 1920.

Weatherford tells the story of the rise of Genghis Khan from a yak herding slave to ruler of the greatest empire on earth. Along the way, he ended the Mongols’ feudal system of aristocratic privilege and birth, replacing it with a system based on individual merit, loyalty and achievement. In most countries, the Khans expanded both cultural communication and trade. They were the first builders of the “Silk Road”.

Trade was key to the empire. Silk was the apex trade item, but cotton and wool were sent both to the East and the West. The Mongols made culture portable. It wasn’t just trade in goods, whole systems of knowledge were sent in both directions. Persian and Arab doctors went to China. Chinese doctors went to the Middle East.

And Khubilai Khan, the Great Khan emperor of China, recognized the need for paper money to facilitate trade, so it was used throughout the empire until its collapse. There was a dazzling array of innovations that can be ascribed to his reign: in addition to paper money, printed passports gave access to the entire Empire. There was a synthesis of knowledge from all corners of the Empire.

The Empire was ultimately carved up between Genghis Khan’s grandsons. They held cross-ownership in each other’s territories of trade networks and manufacturing facilities, which moderated their desire to fight each other. But, once the Black Death erupted in their networks, the Empire collapsed. It took about 300 years to finally end.

Genghis Khan was tolerant of all religions in a conquered country. He abolished torture, and brought back to Mongolia the learned and skilled members of each conquered nation to help to build the skills of his empire.

But the Mongols weren’t saints. In each conquest, the ruling class was rounded up and killed. The peasants and professionals were spared if they swore allegiance to the Great Khan. Although there are instances of extreme violence, these are balanced by the thoughtfulness and care that the various Khans took to administer and improve their vast empire.

We learn that some of his family were practicing Christians. That there was more religious freedom in Mongolia than in Europe at the time. He was willing to learn from his mistakes, a quality rarely seen in today’s leaders. And his attitude toward women was also surprising: his daughters became leaders, right along with his sons in the empire.

You end with a sense of how visionary and complex Genghis Khan was: An illiterate who appreciated learning, a marginal person from an obscure corner of the world who led a global empire.

This is a marvelous journey through time, about an era we rarely think of today.

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Travels With Wrongo

The Daily Escape:

Budapest, Hungary – photo via @archpics

Wrongo and Ms. Right are leaving today, escaping to Hungary and Poland. We will return just before Memorial Day. You can expect blogging to be light for the next ten days.

Wrongo will try to post photos of Budapest and Warsaw when high speed internet is available.

Take a break from the mad rush, and listen to Philip Glass play his composition, “Mad Rush”. In 1979, the organizers of the Dalai Lama’s first public address in North America approached Glass to create a musical piece with one prerequisite: Because the Dalai Lama’s schedule was so vague, they needed a piece of music that could be stretched for an indefinite period of time without the audience realizing there was any delay to the start of the meeting. This provided Glass the inspiration for Mad Rush.

Mad Rush is based on alternations between two themes. One is peaceful and meditative, the other is fast and frantic. Glass says that the two themes represent the interplay of the wrathful and peaceful deities in Tibetan Buddhism.

In the 1960s, Glass became a practicing Buddhist. He is also a strong supporter of Tibetan independence:

May your peaceful and meditative side win over your fast and frantic side.

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

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Monday Wake Up Call – April 30, 2018

The Daily Escape:

Church in Malawi

At least 50,000 teachers and their allies in red shirts flooded the streets of Phoenix on Friday as Arizona educators launched a statewide walkout for increased school funding and raises for all school employees. From Labor Notes:

“You have West Virginia who stood up, you have Kentucky who’s standing up, you have Oklahoma”, said Brittani Karbginsky, a sixth grade teacher in Phoenix. “Now you have us”.

When the cost of living is considered, Arizona’s teacher pay ranks last in the nation (but in absolute dollars, Oklahoma ranks last). Average teacher salaries in Arizona have declined by nearly $9,000 since 2003.

Vox tracked the amount of money granted to corporations through state tax incentives in Arizona and found that, according to data from the state’s Joint Legislative Budget Committee and the Seidman Institute at Arizona State University, the state lost out on roughly $5 billion in corporate tax revenue since 1993 (after adjusting for inflation). Funding per student has fallen by 14%.

Welcome to another Right-Wing trickle-down economics nightmare.

After insisting for months that 2018’s one percent raise for teachers would be followed by another one percent in 2019, Arizona’s governor Doug Ducey (R) announced on April 12 that he would grant teachers a 20% raise by 2020. But, Arizona’s teachers didn’t buy that. They pointed out that the raise wasn’t in the budget. They wanted a dedicated source of funding to make sure that they were winning more than an empty promise.

This seems to be a mainstream idea. An AP poll found that 78% of Americans think teachers are paid too little. Fifty percent said they favor higher taxes to pay teachers more.

But Arizona isn’t Kentucky or Oklahoma where teachers have also organized and marched for better pay. The Arizona teachers have been called Democratic operatives. They were called masterminds of a national socialist revolution. Or, architects of a plot to legalize marijuana. From Vox:

This backlash is fiercer than in other states where teachers have protested or gone on strike. And the comments aren’t coming from the ideological fringes of the internet. State politicians, lawmakers, and journalists are making these accusations to discredit teachers who are demanding higher pay and more funding for public schools.

And the state superintendent of education, Diane Douglas, threatened to investigate striking teachers and potentially revoke their license to teach in the state.

The right’s idea always seems to be that if you cannot argue your opponent’s facts, you go for the smear. Maybe the teachers should launch a full scale attack on the sponsors of those right-wing blogs and talk radio show hosts, the way Parkland’s David Hogg did with Laura Ingraham.

Last Thursday, the state legislature adjourned without introducing any bill to address school funding. They didn’t address the plan for a 20% raise that Gov. Ducey had proposed. They return today.

So wake up, Arizona! Blame the legislature, not the teachers. Stick by your teachers. To help you wake up, here is a 1941 tune written by the Almanac Singers, while working to organize the CIO. It is sung by Pete Seeger, who was a member of the Almanac Singers at the time:

Sample Lyric:

 

 Now, boys, you’ve come to the hardest time.

The boss will try to bust your picket line.

He’ll call out the police, the National Guard,

They’ll tell you it’s a crime to have a union card.

They’ll raid your meetin’, they’ll hit you on the head,

They’ll call every one of you a goddam red,

Unpatriotic, Japanese spies, sabotaging national defense!

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

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The GOP’s Message and the Democrat’s Response

The Daily Escape:

Lake Blanche, UT – 2017 photo by exomniac

We watched the State of the Union (SOTU) speech at the Mansion of Wrong. Outside, it was 15° and very windy. That also appeared to be the climate in the House chamber during Trump’s speech, which Wrongo saw as largely a basket of glittering generalities; rhetoric without action; lies instead of facts; and marching band patriotism. Chants of “USA, USA” in the House chamber should be beneath our politicians, but sadly, some want us to appear to be a banana republic to the rest of the world.

Americans don’t ask their politicians for much, and apparently, willingly accept even less than that without a whimper.

Wrongo wants to focus on the Democratic response to the Trump speech. Roll Call says that there were at least five responses, of which two were “official”, in that they were authorized by the Democratic Party. Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-MA), grandson of Bobby Kennedy, delivered the English-language Democratic response. Virginia Guzman, the newly elected, and first Latina to be elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, gave an official Spanish-language response.

Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters of California offered an unofficial response to the presidential speech, as did former Rep. Donna Edwards of Maryland.

But the most notable response came from a sitting senator who isn’t a Democrat, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). He rebutted Trump’s remarks, and in some ways, rebuked Trump and his administration. This is the second year in a row that Sanders has delivered his own speech after the State of the Union. Bernie’s speech was shown on social media, and not on any mainstream TV outlet. You can read the text of his speech here.

Post-SOTU, the Dems are about to get worked over, largely because of their support of the Dreamers. If Chuck Schumer has his way, Democrats are about to charge up DACA hill once again. The outcome is likely to be the same. Wrongo thinks the Dreamers’ cause is just, but it isn’t a good idea to try to ransom them from Trump and the GOP as part of the immigration deal Trump has placed on the table.

Trump wants to alter our immigration system in a very unfair way in exchange for Dreamer amnesty. The question for Democrats is: Should they make the trade? Do they really think that the GOP will start deporting Dreamers in March? Do they think the videos of Dreamers in custody and on their way to homelands they never knew will help Republicans politically?

Take the Dreamers off the table. Proceed with other pressing issues, like funding the government.

And when the DACA protections lapse, there will be a price that Dreamers will have to pay, right along with both Democrats and Republicans, neither of whom would make a deal to extend DACA.

And when Trump wants an infrastructure deal, then Dems should bring up the Dreamers. Change the strategy. Let the “public-private” partnerships he touts for infrastructure be the way he gets his wall, and how Dreamers get amnesty.

It’s important that Dems are right on both the politics and on the merits. Compromise must come on big issues like immigration and infrastructure, and Dems shouldn’t take the first deals offered on either issue.

But to win in 2018 and beyond requires Democrats to offer a strong and compelling platform of their own, one based upon principles. Like health care being a right of citizenship. Like investing in education and infrastructure instead of spending on wars and weapons. Young Kennedy got close to identifying a compelling platform, but he isn’t the messenger for 2018.

There are many people in America who are hurting. Many are under-employed, and not getting the support they need. Simply pointing the finger at Trump is not going to inspire many to go to the polls. Democrats tried this in 2016, and it didn’t work.

People need a positive vision for the USA, and their place in it.

On Tuesday night, Trump would only speak of his plans in very general terms, because he doesn’t have the support in both Houses of Congress to get the job done. While MAGA is a successful campaign slogan, it isn’t a plan for a future that includes all Americans.

Democrats can be a part of the solution, if they find a way to prevent the GOP from taking and holding liberal issues hostage.

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Trump’s Syria Policy Could Threaten NATO

The Daily Escape:

Swaziland street scene – 2012 photo by Wrongo

Turkey launched “Operation Olive Branch” against Kurdish militias inside Syria on January 20. Reuters reports that Turkish artillery pounded Kurdish positions, while rockets fired from inside Syria hit two Turkish border towns, wounding dozens. More from Reuters:

Intense Turkish artillery fire and air strikes continued to hit some villages, the YPG said, while fierce battles raged to the north and west of Afrin against Turkish forces and their rebel allies…

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Turkey had informed the Syrian government of its military operation in Afrin with a written statement before the incursion was launched. Apparently, Moscow gave the green light to Ankara to commence Operation Olive Branch, and has moved Russian troops out of harm’s way in Afrin. From Stratfor:

The war in Syria should be ending. The Islamic State has lost all the territory it seized in 2014. The Syrian army, backed by Russia and Iran, has confined other anti-government rebels to besieged pockets in the south, on the eastern outskirts of Damascus and in the northwest. Opposition hopes of removing Syrian President Bashar al Assad have vanished. But the war refuses to die. It just takes new forms.

The new fighting is between Turkey and American surrogates. The US announced a post-Islamic State mission that would keep American advisers and their local surrogates in Syria for years to come. The mission calls for the US to train, arm and advise a 30,000-strong, mostly Kurdish border security force. The border that this force will secure is between Syria and Turkey.

Unsurprisingly, this didn’t sit well with Turkey’s president Erdogan, who pledged “to strangle it before it’s even born.” He moved Turkish military units to the border and launched artillery at Kurdish positions in their Syrian enclave of Afrin. Erdogan is a smart guy. He told members of parliament from his Justice and Development Party:

Hey, NATO! You are obliged to take a stance against those who harass and violate the borders of your members.”

Naturally, it’s Turkey’s borders that Erdogan wants NATO to protect from Kurdish militias. The US border security plan could tear NATO apart. Several European partners are unhappy with this latest move by the Trump administration. Importantly, this may commit the US to a long-term presence within a country that doesn’t want us there, and where we have no real strategic interest.

Erdogan’s incursion has received support from al Assad’s government, Russia, and Iran. They see the US plan as a pretext to keep a military presence in Syria, to deprive Syrian authorities control over large swaths of the country and gain some leverage over the war’s likely victors. Joshua Landis at the University of Oklahoma’s Center for Middle East Studies, wrote:

By controlling half of Syria’s energy resources, the Euphrates dam at Tabqa, as well as much of Syria’s best agricultural land, the US will be able to keep Syria poor and under-resourced…

Russia admonished the Kurds that their decision to put their faith in whatever US Central Command (CENTCOM, the controlling regional Defense Department command for Syria and the ME) has planned for them is a poor decision. And the US has already backtracked on their support for the Kurds in Afrin. CENTCOM has announced through a spokesperson, that the US will not continue to support them.

So, what’s the strategy? Both Russia and Iran can simply sit back and watch as Erdogan goes about crushing the US’s proxy (Kurdish militias) in northern Syria. And, they have nothing to lose if a nasty spat develops between the US and Turkey. On the other hand, if Turkey succeeds in vanquishing the Kurdish militia, US will have to vacate northern Syria, which would also be to the advantage of Russia and Iran.

It is hard to explain the Trump administration’s decision to keep the US military presence in Syria indefinitely, against the wishes of Damascus, Russia, Iran and Turkey. Tehran knows that if the US is forced to vacate Syria, it would mean the US-Israeli failure to block Iran from establishing the “Shia Crescent”.

Trump has delegated far too much autonomy to the Pentagon. The White House is focused domestically, or otherwise engaged in infighting, and Trump doesn’t have the interest, or expertise to provide leadership in the region.

Despite all Trump’s campaign rhetoric, his ME policy will only lead to further US humiliation in the region. The US needs a Metternich.

Instead, we’ve got Trump & Tillerson, sort of the “Abbott & Costello” of international affairs. Foggy Bottom and the Pentagon have been completely outplayed for the past year or two.

Sometimes you just have to get out of the way, and just take the shame/blame that’s coming to you.

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – January 21, 2018

Again, with the shutdown. It appears that Wrongo’s prediction was well, wrong. And yesterday was the first anniversary of President Trump’s inauguration. Quite the first year. On inauguration day, he made a few promises. Jonathan Chait has reviewed them a year later:

Trump made a series of promises, some resting on vague or imaginary premises, none coming close to being fulfilled. “America will start winning again, winning like never before,” he declared. “We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders. We will bring back our wealth. And we will bring back our dreams.”

Chait went on:

Trump’s presidency has presented an especially jarring contrast, since the rhetoric has borne no relation whatsoever to what followed. It’s not that he overpromised but that his promises were fundamentally a con.

So, on to cartoons about the week that was. Reports about the big game’s first quarter seem mostly accurate:

We had a shutdown, but the real issue seems to be whose fault is it?

Yesterday, hundreds of thousands of women were on the march all over America:

Trump’s annual physical included a mental exam:

Rumors of sexcapades by the Donald are no big deal for the religious right:

Norwegians are who the GOP really, really wants:

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Thanksgiving Day – November 23, 2017

(This is the last post before the Thanksgiving holiday. Drive safely if you are taking to the roads. We will resume with the Monday Wake Up Call on 11/27.)

The Daily Escape:

Turkey Parade, Litchfield County CT – 20014 photo by Wrongo

It is a tradition on Thanksgiving at the Mansion of Wrong to play “Alice’s Restaurant” by Arlo Guthrie. Arlo was convicted of littering in November, 1965 in Stockbridge, MA. This year we are changing things up a bit, so Arlo isn’t featured on the front page.

But, we are still having turkey, and gratitude is still the word for the day.

It turns out the more grateful people are, the healthier they are. NPR reported on a study by Paul Mills, a professor of public health at UC San Diego, that showed people who were more grateful had better cardiac health:

We found that more gratitude in these patients was associated with better mood, better sleep, less fatigue and lower levels of inflammatory biomarkers related to cardiac health…

More from Dr. Mills:

Taking the time to focus on what you are thankful for…[and] letting that sense of gratitude wash over you…helps us manage and cope.

Who knew? Being thankful can keep your heart healthy. That, and no seconds on stuffing and gravy.

This is our 1319th column since entering the blogging business in 2010. Wrongo wants to thank all who have stuck around since the beginning, all of you who read the work, and those who both comment, and/or criticize. We got started with the idea of highlighting what is wrong in our world, and suggesting that you take action to make the world more like you think it should be, rather than sitting and watching it continue on the current path.

So on this day of yuuge portions of turkey, gravy, pies, dressing, etc. Wrongo is very grateful to all of you!

Finally, Wrongo is posting two tunes for Thanksgiving. First, a re-post of one of the great non-Thanksgiving Day tunes of thanksgiving: “Be Thankful for What You’ve Got” by William DeVaughn. This one-hit wonder sold two million copies in 1974, reaching #1 on the US R&B charts and #4 on the Billboard chart. It reminds us of a time when there was more optimism in America:

Those who read the Wrongologist via email can view the video here.

Second, let’s listen to the late Tom Petty and his band Mudcrutch. Petty started his career by forming Mudcrutch, but everyone knows his next group, The Heartbreakers, from which most of his hits were launched. Petty returned to Mudcrutch twice, the last time in 2016, when they released the album “Mudcrutch 2”. Here is Mudcrutch with Petty singing “I Forgive it All”. In a sense, that’s a wonderful sentiment for the rock icon who left us this year:

Takeaway Lyric:

I ain’t broke and I ain’t hungry

But I’m close enough to care.

Those who read the Wrongologist via email can view the video here.

Since you are reading this, you woke up on this side of the dirt! Another reason to be grateful…

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Priorities Preventing Blog Performance

The Daily Escape:

Tuxedo, Ms. Oh So Right’s favorite dog – 2008 photo by Wrongo

There has been a decided absence of columns this week. Wrongo and Ms. Right have been preoccupied with the health of our Havanese dog Tuxedo, pictured above. Now nearly 15, Tux has congestive heart failure (CHF), and is nowhere near the robust dog he was in 2008.

This week, we have had to visit both the vet and the doggie cardiologist. We have added a new med, Sildenafil, to his list. Sildenafil is the generic name for Viagra, but Tux has no need for its intended use in humans. Like some other drugs, Sildenafil has value in other areas. For dogs with CHF, it helps with pulmonary hypertension. Viagra is covered for most humans, including those in the US military. But the uninsured rack rate for a one-month supply for Tux was $770.00 at our local CVS. By using an affiliation marketing company that makes deals with pharmacies, we were able to reduce that cost to just $35.

Poor Tux now takes five different meds either two, or three times a day. As with humans, getting that many pills into the body is a challenge that requires some ingenuity, particularly when the dog has limited appetite, even for his favorite foods. So far, Tux is sticking to his meds schedule.

Our primary objective is to preserve his quality of life for as long as possible. There is no question that perceptions of quality of life can differ, so we are monitoring Tux using pet oncologist Dr. Alice Villalobos’s 5 H’s + 2 M’s scale. The five H’s stand for Hurt, Hunger, Hydration, Hygiene and Happiness, while the two M’s stand for Mobility and More good days than bad. If you need the scale, it is available for download here.

And so far, Tux is doing reasonably well on the Villalobos yardstick, but with CHF, the primary decision rule is, can the dog breathe properly? If not, the other rules don’t really matter. Tux is weak, but he’s still breathing reasonably well, and is able to take short walks with the family.

The questions regarding how and when to euthanize a pet are very difficult to answer, and are certainly in our future. If the dog is euthanized too late, it suffers mightily. If euthanized too soon, it’s the humans who suffer from the guilt of putting their interests ahead of their pet’s.

At this time of the year, it is natural to hope your pet will be with you for Thanksgiving or the Christmas holidays. But holidays have no meaning to Tux. What is important to him is avoiding visits to the vet’s office, where he gets extremely anxious. So when the time comes to make that terrible decision, we will try to ensure that the vet can make a house call to help keep his anxiety under control.

So this week, Tux’s health, his willingness to eat, and his ability to live life in a way that is consistent with the past 14+ years has been our family’s priority.

While not the happiest week, Wrongo has enjoyed a few days away from thinking about the House and Senate tax cut debates, the dangers in the Middle East, and the Roy Moore fiasco, while focusing on the health struggles of the most intelligent dog in our little pack.

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Letter From London – October 10, 2017

Lego sculpture at Hamley’s, the oldest and largest toy store in the world. Lots of fun, bring the grandkids if that is an affordable option, but worth your time in any event. 2017 Photo by Wrongo.

Baboon sculpture made of chicken wire at the Tower of London. 2017 photo by Wrongo.

Tower Bridge viewed from inside the Tower of London grounds. 2017 photo by Wrongo.

Busy Tuesday in London. It’s been a year since Wrongo and Ms. Right last visited. Today we had lunch at Nopi, a SoHo restaurant that is inspired by the cookbooks of Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully. We highly recommend a visit. If you have a crowd, ask for the communal table downstairs with a view of the kitchen.

Last night, we had dinner with Mark Shenton, a London-based British arts journalist and theater critic. Great conversation about the future of UK theater criticism and print-based critical journalism. Shenton is bullish on the former, and quite bearish on the latter, similar to what we see in the States. Mark alerted us to the coming of Frozen the Musical to Broadway in February 2018. He saw it in Denver, and gives it his highest possible recommendation.

Every local we spoke with is focused on Brexit, whether they are in favor of leaving the EU, or revisiting the idea of remaining part of the Union. All mention that under Brexit, farmers will lose substantial market share. The other endangered group is financial services. The banks and the firms that service them are renting new space elsewhere.

The second-most mentioned topic of discussion is the cost of London’s residential real estate. The average sales price of a place in London was $621,281 in the third quarter of 2017. That was down by 0.6% from the prior year. And London was the only city in the UK to see a price decline in the past year.

Some people engage in wishful thinking about whether London will become affordable again, but average people really can’t afford to live in the center of town.

Off to theater tonight.

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Monday Wake Up Call – July 17, 2017

The Daily Escape:

Athabasca Falls Canyon, Jasper National Park – Alberta, Canada

Jamie Dimon is the CEO of JP Morgan Chase. It is the largest bank in the country, with more than $2 trillion in assets. In February, when Trump announced a broad effort to ease regulations on Wall Street, particularly the Dodd Frank financial reform measures adopted in 2010, he singled out Dimon’s potential contribution:

There is nobody better to tell me about Dodd-Frank than Jamie…

Dimon has been Chase CEO since before the 2008 Great Recession. In a series of conference calls with Wall Street last Friday while discussing the bank’s quarterly profits, Dimon vented his frustration with gridlock in Washington: (brackets by the Wrongologist)

It’s almost embarrassing being an American citizen…and listening to the stupid shit we have to deal with in this country… [The inability to make headway on significant legislation is]…holding us back and it is hurting the average American. It isn’t a Republican issue; it is not a Democratic issue.

Mr. Dimon delivered this tirade while announcing the most profitable year ever for a US bank.

What kind of sociopath does that? Apparently, Mr. Dimon has no capacity for embarrassment. What he seems to be saying is that banks should have continued immunity from reasonable taxation and continued relief from the kind of criminal excess that in the recent past, nearly brought down our financial system.

And what is he complaining about? His entire industry was bailed out by our government, using the tax dollars of the little people. Meanwhile, the derivatives-fueled casino that was the tripwire for the 2008 Great Recession remains alive and well, still making megabucks for the “too big to fail” guys. Dimon wasn’t too embarrassed in 2008, when he took $12 billion in bail-out funds from the Federal Reserve. And he wasn’t too embarrassed when Chase lost $6.2 billion in a derivatives misstep, and paid $962 million in fines. Remember that Dimon emerged from that unscathed?

Dimon is correct that it is embarrassing to be an American these days, but that doesn’t have much to do with banking freedom. Normal Americans are concerned about their jobs, their kids’ educations and their health care. They care about their neighbors and the environment they live in. They are worried about their futures and about their children’s futures, while Dimon argues for increasing the power of global capital. He argues for immunity from state jurisdiction, except when banks need to rely on a local legal system that ensures title to assets pledged to secure loans, or to enforce their repayment.

Americans would be less embarrassed if Jamie Dimon had to go and relearn what he knows about capitalism and its role in our society from inside a for-profit prison.

Finally, all of the Trumpies are lawyered up, but new lawyers are signing on to individual members of the Trump family, while others are leaving. Trump himself just hired a “special counsel” whose expertise is in defending white collar crime.

From here on out, things will start moving faster and perhaps get a quite a bit darker.

Today’s wake up tune is for the Trump family. In this time of never-ending revelations about campaign officials and Russia, “Lawyers, Guns and Money” is the most appropriate song for our times. It was written by Warren Zevon, and is the closing track on his 1978 album “Excitable Boy”. Zevon died too young from cancer in 2003:

Takeaway Lyric:

I went home with a waitress the way I always do
How was I to know she was with the Russians, too?

I was gambling in Havana, I took a little risk
Send lawyers, guns, and money
Dad, get me out of this…

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

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