Category: Hillary Clinton
‘Utterly bizarre’: Trump team seeks good relations with Russia, but threatens China – John Pilger

https://www.rt.com/op-edge/373840-british-weapons-trump-interview/

'Utterly bizarre': Trump team seeks good relations with Russia, but threatens China - John Pilger
There is great pressure on Donald Trump not to make amends with Russia, journalist and author John Pilger told RT. Geopolitical analyst Patrick Henningsen, and retired US Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski, also joined the discussion.

US President-elect Donald Trump gave his first interview to the press since winning the US presidential election in November. Speaking to The Times of London, he called NATO “obsolete” and hinted that sanctions against Russia might be lifted.

“Let’s see if we can make some good deals with Russia,” he said, adding that, in his opinion, nuclear weapons should be reduced.

Meanwhile, in an interview to The Wall Street Journal published on Friday, he said: “If you get along and if Russia is really helping us, why would anybody have sanctions if somebody’s doing some really great things?”

RT: In the interview with The Times the president-elect said there is a possibility American sanctions against Russia will be lifted if deals are made between the two countries, including on nuclear arms reduction. How do you read this potential agreement?

John Pilger: It seems that all the noise that he’s made suggests that he wants to do a deal with Russia. That makes a lot of sense from everyone’s point of view. There is a great deal of pressure on him not to do that. He seems to be resisting it, but all this is speculation… I would have thought, listening to President Putin and Trump’s remarks that a deal is in the offing. And that’s a very good thing if there’s not going to be a war between Russia and the United States.

What about China? Mr. Trump seems to divide the world between Russia and China: good Russia, bad China. So we’ll see. I don’t know.

RT: Why do you think the rhetoric has quite swiftly changed? Russia has been known as bogeyman number one. Why is Trump setting sights on China at the moment?

JP: I have no idea what goes on inside Donald Trump’s mind. If I speculate, I suppose I look back on the election campaign when Trump made a lot of rather fatuous views and abuse of China. He blamed China for destroying jobs in the US. China became the bogeyman. I think in his coterie, particularly his Chief of Staff, who is closely aligned with Taiwan, there is a pro-Taiwan element and anti-Beijing element. Whereas I think Trump himself has always wanted to simply get along with Russia. You look at his designated Secretary of State. He wants to get along with Russia. But at the same time, he is threatening war with China. It is utterly bizarre.

RT: What about Obama’s legacy? How will he be viewed by future historians?

JP: In fact, in 2009, Obama said he wanted to help rid the world of nuclear weapons, yet no president since the end of the Cold War has increased nuclear warhead spending as much as Obama has. Obama has been one of the most violent presidents. He initiated a worldwide terrorist campaign with Hellfire missiles being fired by drones at so-called terrorists, certainly at weddings and funerals… in some of the poorest countries in the world. What I find personally some of the most shameful descriptions are those from so-called intellectuals in the West – writers, journalists, people in the liberal establishment who have had all the privilege that they ought to know better – yet they are falling in sycophancy to this man, who has done what he was meant to do. He served the power.

As far as Trump goes, he worries them because they didn’t get their woman [Hillary Clinton]; he worries them because he doesn’t come from inside that milieu, although Trump is actually the embodiment of a modern, powerful America. He’s made his money in property. But that still puts him outside the State Department, the CIA, even outside, to a large degree, his own party. And what worries them most of all is that he might recklessly go around the world and make peace with countries like Russia. That would be appalling! We need a second Cold War to keep things cooking along. That may sound like a parody, but unfortunately, it’s true.

‘Mentioning nuclear arms reduction wise move on Trump’s part’

Geopolitical analyst Patrick Henningsen said that from a strategic point of view it was very smart politically by Trump to mention the nuclear arms issue, as it is a big set piece, which was prominent during the Cold War years and used by Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.

RT: In the interview with The Times, the president-elect said there is a possibility that American sanctions against Russia will be lifted if deals are made between the two countries – including on nuclear arms reduction. Do you think this can actually happen?

Patrick Henningsen: From a strategic point of view, very smart politically by Donald Trump to mention the nuclear arms issue. This is really sort of a big set piece, one that was really prominent during the Cold War years and was used to great affect by Presidents Jimmy Carter and also Ronald Reagan. So really a wise move on Trump’s part. You’re not going to get much opposition domestically and internationally from a reduction of nuclear arms, I think. Generally the public sees that as a positive thing no matter whom you’re polling on that issue. So the way of diffusing some of the anti-Russian rhetoric and hysteria that has kind of taken over US politics at the moment and sort of put a damper on that, and then move things into a more constructive bilateral diplomatic direction. It seems that is what he is doing there with that signal.

RT: Are you surprised that he’s not linking the sanctions to Russia’s alleged role in the Ukraine conflict, but instead focusing on nuclear weapons?

PH: The problem is there is not much move in terms of Ukraine. The whole basis of that part of the sanctions is based on Crimea. So in order to reverse that way of thinking, you’d have to convince people in Crimea… that the referendum that they had in the spring of 2014 is null and void. In other words, 90 plus percent of the people voting to rejoin Russia – that would have to be null and void. That is not going to happen. The facts on the ground are already determined. That is a kind of a losing battle.

It is a great talking point in the US: ‘Russia invaded Ukraine; Russia invaded Crimea.’ But in reality, those two things didn’t actually happen. That is why, I think, he is choosing that direction instead. But still, there will be a fight and talk in the press and a lot of rhetoric about it. But that is not going to change the reality on the ground.

The sanctions regime is very unpopular in a lot of European countries, and if the US falls off with sanctions, there is going to be very little to keep Europe holding to that same sanctions regime because it has been very debilitating to so many European countries – the loss of trade between Russia and Europe. If Washington backs out or weakens its position on Russian sanctions at all, then I don’t see anything that is going to hold Europe to that same sanctions regime. So it will be very interesting to see what happens there.

Trump runs on ‘American first’ ideology

The President-elect is trying to show the US press he is independent, especially after some domestic critics accused him of being in Putin’s pocket, retired US Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski told RT.

RT: He also said he trusts Vladimir Putin but doesn’t know how long that will last. Previously he made some similar comments on the subject. What do you think he meant by that? What could change?

Karen Kwiatkowski: Well, he is trying to show the American press that he is independent and he’s ‘America first.’ Certainly the whole idea of the ‘American first’ ideology – that is what he ran on. He’s being himself; he’s reflecting the true statement. At the same time, he is kind of covering his back a little bit, because he has received domestic criticism. Many people – Democrats and others – have accused him of being in Putin’s pocket. Obviously, he doesn’t want to provide any additional information that would lend to that idea. And as the president he’s going to make all kinds of decisions based on meeting people, getting to know them, and working with them. It is very fair and very typical of Donald Trump; I am not alarmed by it at all. I am quite comfortable with what he is saying so far.

RT: Donald Trump also called NATO obsolete, saying countries other than the US are not paying their fair share. What could this mean for the future of the organization?

KK: Well, he has repeatedly in the past year talked about how many NATO countries don’t pay their fair share. That is a known fact and we recognize that. What I like about it is that he stated in very clear language that NATO is obsolete and weak; it is very old, that it was built and designed for a previous era that no longer exists. Also in the interview he talked about how it was ineffective; it was not geared to today’s security challenges – globally or in Europe. He is making some statements, which from my perspective he is stating the obvious. What is radical about it – nobody does that. It is very exciting.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Will the real hackers please stand up?

By James Thompson and A. Shaw

Pres. Obama has simultaneously distinguished himself as a cowardly demagogue and disqualified himself from any leadership role by his mendacious allegations of “Russian hacking of the DNC.”

Instead of all the whining and baseless allegations, Obama should fulfill his obligations as a Nobel Peace Prize recipient and congratulate WikiLeaks on their monumental accomplishment. WikiLeaks should be rewarded handsomely for exposing the corruption within the DNC. The US people owe a debt of gratitude to WikiLeaks for turning the lights on the Democratic Party cockroaches so that we can see them scatter with fear and loathing on their collective minds.

Instead of sniveling prevarications from the outgoing commander-in-chief, working people need an accurate rendering of the material conditions of our country and its development and current status. We need bold proposals for change, peace and progress instead of unending efforts to bolster the ruling class, the bourgeoisie.

Working people should demand that WikiLeaks continue with their invaluable work exposing the Democratic Party. Working people should further demand that WikiLeaks perform the same operation on the degenerate, reactionary GOP. Working people in Russia should demand that WikiLeaks perform the same operation on the degenerate, reactionary Russian government. This would be a significant contribution to the effort to build a better world.

Why are the defenders of the bourgeoisie squealing about imagined Russian hacking?

It should be obvious to all that there has been a massive effort to hoodwink the US people by distracting them from the failure of bourgeois democracy in the 2016 elections. The first clue of a failure of democracy lies in the election results. We must remember that Trump shellacked Clinton in the electoral college and Clinton shellacked Trump in the popular vote. These results suggest that the bourgeois democratic electoral system in the US has failed to elect a legitimate President of the United States (POTUS).

The überdrama of the delusional leadership of the US flailing around at Russian ghosts is a brilliant distraction for working people. It serves to distract working people from many realities.

One reality is that the US economy is in a shambles and could implode at any minute.

Another reality is that the electoral college precludes democratic elections in the United States.

How did the FBI hijack the 2016 presidential election?

Another reality is that FBI (Federal Bureau of Intimidation) director James Comey is a spineless agent of the bourgeoisie and carried out his assigned mission to elect Donald Trump POTUS. He was “just following orders.”

Wikipedia described his machinations as follows “On October 28, 2016, less than two weeks before the presidential election, Comey announced in a letter to Congress that the FBI learned of the existence of emails that appeared to be pertinent to the investigation of Secretary Clinton’s email server and that the FBI would take steps to allow investigators to review these emails ‘to determine whether they contain classified information as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.’ Director Comey stated in the letter that he was writing the letter to ‘supplement his previous testimony’ before Congress.”

Comey used the full force and power of the FBI to swing the 2016 election to Donald Trump. The extent of the use of a federal agency to influence the US presidential election is probably unprecedented.

Pres. Obama’s failure to manage the FBI director which resulted in an amazing display of power on the FBI director’s part would probably constitute an impeachable offense if Obama was not scheduled to leave office immediately. The frantic last-minute campaigning by Obama followed by the Clinton driven allegations of Russian hacking may go down in history as the greatest attempt at using weapons of mass distraction to disrupt and negate the political will of the US people. George W. Bush is probably blushing about his fecklessness as compared with Obama in carrying out the tasks assigned to the president’s office by the bourgeoisie.

Will the US people stand for this massive corruption? Will the US people fight for the interests of working people? Will the US people continue to pig out on fast food, cigarettes and beer instead of fighting for change, peace and progress? Will the US people continue to worship the wicked bourgeoisie? We will surely know the answers in the next year or two.

R.I.P. Democratic Party

by James Thompson

People are beginning to recognize that the Democratic Party took its last breath months ago. The Democratic Party in the US has a long history of being a major producer of hot air with little action to back it up. Many politicians and their hangers on have worked diligently to hammer the last nail into the coffin of the Democratic Party.

Rigor mortis started to set in when leading Democratic Party candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders bickered in public over the minimum wage. Bernie called for a boost in the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Hillary, spoiling for a fight, called for $12 an hour arguing that $15 an hour was way too much. Can anyone think of any more effective way of turning off working people?

It has been clear for a long time that the Democratic Party does not represent the interests of working people. Bill and Hillary Clinton distinguished themselves by consistently fighting against the interests of working people.

Pres. Obama has been a consistent fighter for the interests of the wealthy and that should be clear to all by now.

Following death, there can be renewal. This is the hope of the working people. The Democratic Party has revealed a lot of its putrid corruption with the help of WikiLeaks. Now that it has given up the ghost, perhaps a new party can be born which will fight against corruption and fight for the interests of working people.

Working people will be able to breathe a sigh of relief when all of the Democratic Party demagogues, thieves, cheaters and hypocrites are swept away while a new party, a party for the working class, is ushered in. When political struggle based on class finally replaces political struggle based on how to safeguard the riches of the wealthy, working people can begin to move towards credible democracy.

 

How Bill Clinton Remade the Democratic Party by Abandoning Unions An Arkansas Story
| January 3, 2017 | 8:06 pm | Hillary Clinton, Labor, political struggle | No comments

http://lawcha.org/wordpress/2016/11/23/bill-clinton-remade-democratic-party-abandoning-unions-working-class-whites/

How Bill Clinton Remade the Democratic Party by Abandoning UnionsAn Arkansas Story

Michael Pierce

Michael Pierce, associate professor at University of Arkansas, is working on a book project examining the rise and fall of New Deal-style liberalism in Arkansas. He is the author of Striking with the Ballot: Ohio Labor and the Populist Party

View all posts by Michael Pierce »

Much has been made in the recent campaign about the alienation of working-class whites from the Democratic Party. Michael Pierce shows this is a path long traveled; Bill Clinton undermined the budding multi-racial labor coalition in 1970s Arkansas.

In a horrendous election night for the Hillary Clinton, the only bright spot was Nevada, where Culinary Workers Union Local 226’s massive get-out-the-vote operation ensured that the state’s six electoral votes went into the Democratic column. Not only did the local get their Hispanic, Asian, African-American, and white members to the polls but its sophisticated operation also rallied other members of Nevada’s diverse working-class.

In much of the rest of the country, the working-class voters—especially white ones—stayed home, alienated from both a Democratic candidate who made little effort to address their economic concerns and a Republican candidate who stirred up hate. Class-based union-led mobilization operations like the one in Nevada have become rare, but they were central to the Democratic Party’s successes from the 1930s through the 1980s even in what are now deep red states like Arkansas.

Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton in 1991, shortly before the Arkansas governor said he was running for president. Credit: WSJ / Getty Images.
Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton in 1991, shortly before the Arkansas governor said he was running for president. Credit: WSJ / Getty Images.

The irony is that the decline of such mobilization efforts can be traced back to Bill Clinton and his activities in 1970s Arkansas, when he and his allies began undermining the labor movement and its efforts to educate working-class voters and get them to the polls on behalf of the Democratic Party. Not only did Bill Clinton refuse to support efforts to strengthen unions at a time when local companies like Walmart and Tyson Foods were becoming more aggressive in their “union avoidance” methods, but he also began to bait the labor movement to gain electoral advantage. He would ride his Arkansas strategies into the White House in 1992, transforming the Democratic Party along the way.

In Arkansas, labor’s efforts to build a biracial working-class coalition began in the 1950s, when the state’s white trade union leaders—in an unsuccessful attempt to defeat Sen. John McClellan—secured funds from the national labor federations to buy poll tax receipts for distribution in black communities. Labor and black activists cemented their budding alliance during Little Rock’s Central High crisis, when white trade unionists worked in tandem with black college students to drive black voters to the polls to reopen the schools shut by segregationists.

In 1964, the AFL-CIO’s political arm funded the successful effort of Arkansas labor and civil rights activists to replace the state’s poll tax with a simplified permanent registration system. These efforts were so successful in getting black voters to the polls that neither Arkansas nor any of its counties were covered by the pre-clearance procedures of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. From the 1960s into the 1980s, the Arkansas AFL-CIO worked with groups like the Southern Regional Council, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Arkansas Community Organizations for Reform Now and local civil rights groups in sophisticated operations to get working-class voters to the polls.

These labor-funded efforts opened the state’s political system to working-class voters. In the 1940s, V. O. Key documented the state’s planters and industrialists’ grip on electoral politics before concluding, “in Arkansas, more than almost any other southern state, social and economic issues of significance to the people have lain ignored.”  In 1948, just 242,475 Arkansans cast votes in the presidential election, but this number increased 251% to 609,050 by 1968 even though the state’s population remained virtually unchanged (1.909 million in 1950; 1.923 million in 1970).

Ernest Green, the eldest member of the Little Rock Nine.
Ernest Green, the eldest member of the Little Rock Nine, believed that a black-white coalition in the labor movement was the best way to achieve justice for African-Americans.

No one expressed the aims of this labor-funded biracial working-class coalition as well as Ernest Green, the oldest of the nine students to integrate Central High, who in 1967 declared, “There is no alternative but that Negroes, white workers, and farmers must unite behind the labor movement in its struggle against unemployment, low wages, discrimination, union-busting, and, ultimately, against poverty….for if we stand divided and separated, big business and big industry will triumph again in the South.”

Labor’s efforts to open up Arkansas’s political system to working-class blacks and whites and get them to the polls ushered in the state’s liberal heyday in the first half of the 1970s, making possible the elections of Bill Clinton and longtime senators David Pryor and Dale Bumpers. During this era, the General Assembly revised the tax code along progressive lines and increased spending on education and other social provisions, and voters approved measures to regulate more aggressively banks, hospitals, insurance companies, and polluting industries.

Bill Clinton, Bumpers, and Pryor—known as the Big Three in Arkansas politics—also relied on labor funds and mobilization efforts early in their political careers. For instance, labor bankrolled Bill Clinton’s first run for elective office—his failed 1974 campaign for U.S. Congress. This money made it possible for him to purchase television airtime throughout the state, helping make him the darling of Arkansas’s political establishment and facilitating his meteoric rise.

Illustration of Clintonian Triangulation.
Illustration of Clintonian Triangulation . Long before the 1990s, Clinton employed the idea of moving to the right to win elections, thereby gaining campaign contributions; one of his key strategies was moving against labor unions.

But once in office, Clinton and his allies turned their backs on the labor movement that had made their careers possible, largely in hopes of discouraging anti-union companies from funding potential rivals or to undermine potential rivals on the left. Although political commentators date the birth of Clintonian triangulation—i.e. adopting some of your opponent’s policies to distance yourself from your base, move to the center, and broaden your electoral appeal—to the aftermath of the 1994 elections, Bill Clinton along with Pryor and Bumpers began employing it in the 1970s and the Arkansas labor movement was the target.

There is no better example of this triangulation than the Labor Reform Bill of 1978. As anti-union enterprises found new ways to circumvent the National Labor Relations Board procedures—dragging out certification processes, illegally firing union activists and taking years to litigate challenges to these dismissals, and purposely violating laws knowing that the minimal fines would be a small price to pay to keep unions at bay—unions sought relief in the form of a new law to eliminate these practices. But Bill Clinton, Pryor, and Bumpers worked enthusiastically against the bill. Pryor made opposition the cornerstone of his 1978 senate bid. Bill Clinton, with the help of political consultant Dick Morris, wrote a series of ads for Pryor’s campaign warning that unions were “disastrous for the economy of Arkansas.” Bumpers joined the Senate filibuster that killed the bill.

Triangulation made Clinton and his allies nearly unbeatable. Work with liberals on social issues and gestures to the black community allowed them to retain the backing of much of the left (who really had no one else to support), and their labor policies attracted the support (with various degrees of enthusiasm) of business conservatives. Unable to counter employer aggressiveness during a period of rampant inflation and trade pressures, Arkansas’s labor movement and the liberalism that it did so much to sustain withered, and the state began a political shift to the right. The Big Three easily accommodated themselves to this shift, supporting free trade, economic deregulation, and other elements of neoliberalism.

Hillary Clinton joined the shift toward New Democrats, joining the board of anti-union WalMart corporation in the 1980s.
Hillary Clinton joined the shift in the Democratic Party toward flouting unions; she joined WalMart corporation Board in the 1980s, when it was escalating its anti-union agenda.

Throughout the 1980s, the ties between the Big Three and stridently anti-union Arkansas enterprises grew. Hillary Clinton joined Walmart’s board of directors, and Pryor and Bumpers became especially close to Tyson Foods and the poultry industry. As a new pro-business economic consensus formed, social and cultural concerns became the defining issues in electoral politics, and the economic needs of workers fell off the Democratic agenda.

Clinton took the strategy that he and Pryor and Bumpers perfected in 1970s Arkansas onto the campaign trail in 1992. He traveled the country, telling everyone that he was a “different kind of Democrat,” scolding trade unionists for their outdated economic ideas and touting his close ties to Tyson and Walmart. For the first time since the early 1930s, the Democratic presidential nominee refused to embrace the labor movement and the politics of class.

Much has been made in the recent campaign about the alienation of working-class whites from the Democratic Party. Understanding Bill Clinton’s Arkansas not only helps explain why but also makes it clear that the Democratic Party has to support the labor movement and economic policies that are friendly to workers if it wants to reclaim its status as champion of all working people.

Kremlin: New sanctions underline Obama admin’s ‘unpredictable & aggressive’ foreign policy

https://www.rt.com/news/372191-kremlin-obama-administration-sanctions/

The new US sanctions against Russia are another manifestation of the unpredictable and aggressive foreign policy by the Obama administration, Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin press-secretary, said.

In our point of view such actions of the US current administration are a manifestation of an unpredictable and even aggressive foreign policy,” Peskov told the journalists.

We regret the fact that this decision was taken by the US administration and President Obama personally,” he said.

“As it said before, we consider this decision and these sanctions unjustified and illegal under international law,” the presidential spokesman added.

The US restrictions won’t be left unanswered by Moscow, Peskov said, promising “adequate, reciprocal” reaction “that will deliver significant discomfort to the US side in the same areas.”

However, he added that “there’s no need to rush” with the countermeasures against Washington.

“Considering the current transition period in Washington, we still expect that we’ll be able to get rid of such clumsy actions… of behaving like a bull in a china shop, and that we’ll be able to make mutual joint steps to enter on the path of normalization of our bilateral relations,” the spokesman said.

Earlier Thursday, Obama announced a set of countermeasures in response to what he called “the Russian government’s aggressive harassment of US officials and cyber operations aimed at the US election.”

Obama has humiliated the American people by his decision, as it has complicated the political transition for the new US government, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote on her Facebook page.

“Today America, the American people were humiliated by their own President. Not by international terrorists, not by enemy’s troops. This time Washington was slapped by own master, who has complicated the urgent tasks for the incoming team in the extreme,” Zakharova wrote.

She also promised “official statements, countermeasures and much more” to come from Moscow on Friday.

Thirty-five Russian diplomats have been expelled from the US, with the president calling them “intelligence operatives” and also announcing the closure of two Russian compounds, in New York and Maryland.

READ MORE: Report on ‘Russian hacking’ offers disclaimers, barely mentions Russia

According to Obama, nine Russian entities, including the GRU (Russian Military Intelligence) and the FSB (Federal Security Service), have been sanctioned.

The Obama administration and the losing Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, have accused Moscow of being behind cyberattacks that targeted Clinton and her campaign chairman, John Podesta, during their campaign.

They said that the whistleblower website WikiLeaks obtained the damaging hacked emails, which dashed Clinton’s chances to win, from Russian intelligence agencies.

The claims were denied by both WikiLeaks and Moscow on numerous occasions, with Peskov earlier calling them “nonsense” in an interview with RT.

US expels 35 Russian diplomats, closes 2 compounds

https://www.rt.com/news/372190-us-expels-russian-diplomats/

US expels 35 Russian diplomats, closes 2 compounds
Thirty-five Russian diplomats have been expelled from the US, according to a statement from State Department. President Obama described those expelled as “intelligence operatives,” also announcing the closure of two Russian compounds, in New York and Maryland.

The Russian diplomats would be given 72 hours to leave US soil. They are expelled for acting in a “manner inconsistent with their diplomatic status,” the statement reads.

The Russian staff will also be denied access to the New York and Maryland compound as of noon on Friday, the source added.

This is part of the measures introduced “in response to the Russian government’s aggressive harassment of US officials and cyber operations aimed at the US election,” Obama said in his statement, calling the measures “a necessary and appropriate response to efforts to harm US interests in violation of established international norms of behavior.”

All Americans should be alarmed by Russia’s actions,” the president stressed, again blaming Moscow for orchestrating hacking attacks.

These data theft and disclosure activities could only have been directed by the highest levels of the Russian government,” he said.

Moreover, our diplomats have experienced an unacceptable level of harassment in Moscow by Russian security services and police over the last year,” Obama added.

According to the US leader, nine Russian entities, including the GRU (Russian Military Intelligence) and the FSB (Federal Security Service), were sanctioned.

Four individual GRU officers of the GRU and three companies that “provided material support to the GRU’s cyber operations” were also among the blacklisted.

Obama said that that the newly announced measures weren’t “the sum total of our response to Russia’s aggressive activities.”

We will continue to take a variety of actions at a time and place of our choosing, some of which will not be publicized,” Obama said.

The president said the international community “must work together to oppose Russia’s efforts to undermine established international norms of behavior, and interfere with democratic governance.”

The new sanctions show the “total disorientation of the outgoing administration” and will complicate future attempts to restore Russian-American relations, said Konstantin Dolgov, the Russian Foreign Ministry Commissioner for Human Rights.

“Any anti-Russian sanctions are futile and counterproductive. I can only reiterate that the sanctions hysteria only demonstrate the total disorientation of the outgoing US administration,” Dolgov told Interfax.

“Such unilateral steps have the sole aim of harming relations [between Moscow and Washington] and complicate their restoration in the future,” he added.

The Obama administration and the losing Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, have accused Moscow of being behind cyberattacks that targeted Clinton and her campaign chairman, John Podesta, during their campaign.

They said that the whistleblower website WikiLeaks obtained the damaging hacked emails, which dashed Clinton’s chances to win, from Russian intelligence agencies.

The claims were denied by both WikiLeaks and Moscow on numerous occasions, with Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov calling them “nonsense” in an interview with RT.

What So Many People Don’t Get About the U.S. Working Class

https://hbr.org/2016/11/what-so-many-people-dont-get-about-the-u-s-working-class

What So Many People Don’t Get About the U.S. Working Class

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My father-in-law grew up eating blood soup. He hated it, whether because of the taste or the humiliation, I never knew. His alcoholic father regularly drank up the family wage, and the family was often short on food money. They were evicted from apartment after apartment.

He dropped out of school in eighth grade to help support the family. Eventually he got a good, steady job he truly hated, as an inspector in a factory that made those machines that measure humidity levels in museums. He tried to open several businesses on the side but none worked, so he kept that job for 38 years. He rose from poverty to a middle-class life: the car, the house, two kids in Catholic school, the wife who worked only part-time. He worked incessantly. He had two jobs in addition to his full-time position, one doing yard work for a local magnate and another hauling trash to the dump.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, he read The Wall Street Journal and voted Republican. He was a man before his time: a blue-collar white man who thought the union was a bunch of jokers who took your money and never gave you anything in return. Starting in 1970, many blue-collar whites followed his example. This week, their candidate won the presidency.

For months, the only thing that’s surprised me about Donald Trump is my friends’ astonishment at his success. What’s driving it is the class culture gap.

One little-known element of that gap is that the white working class (WWC) resents professionals but admires the rich. Class migrants (white-collar professionals born to blue-collar families) report that “professional people were generally suspect” and that managers are college kids “who don’t know shit about how to do anything but are full of ideas about how I have to do my job,” said Alfred Lubrano in Limbo. Barbara Ehrenreich recalled in 1990 that her blue-collar dad “could not say the word doctor without the virtual prefix quack. Lawyers were shysters…and professors were without exception phonies.” Annette Lareau found tremendous resentment against teachers, who were perceived as condescending and unhelpful.

Michèle Lamont, in The Dignity of Working Men, also found resentment of professionals — but not of the rich. “[I] can’t knock anyone for succeeding,” a laborer told her. “There’s a lot of people out there who are wealthy and I’m sure they worked darned hard for every cent they have,” chimed in a receiving clerk. Why the difference? For one thing, most blue-collar workers have little direct contact with the rich outside of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. But professionals order them around every day. The dream is not to become upper-middle-class, with its different food, family, and friendship patterns; the dream is to live in your own class milieu, where you feel comfortable — just with more money. “The main thing is to be independent and give your own orders and not have to take them from anybody else,” a machine operator told Lamont. Owning one’s own business — that’s the goal. That’s another part of Trump’s appeal.

Hillary Clinton, by contrast, epitomizes the dorky arrogance and smugness of the professional elite. The dorkiness: the pantsuits. The arrogance: the email server. The smugness: the basket of deplorables. Worse, her mere presence rubs it in that even women from her class can treat working-class men with disrespect. Look at how she condescends to Trump as unfit to hold the office of the presidency and dismisses his supporters as racist, sexist, homophobic, or xenophobic.

Trump’s blunt talk taps into another blue-collar value: straight talk. “Directness is a working-class norm,” notes Lubrano. As one blue-collar guy told him, “If you have a problem with me, come talk to me. If you have a way you want something done, come talk to me. I don’t like people who play these two-faced games.” Straight talk is seen as requiring manly courage, not being “a total wuss and a wimp,” an electronics technician told Lamont. Of course Trump appeals. Clinton’s clunky admission that she talks one way in public and another in private? Further proof she’s a two-faced phony.

Manly dignity is a big deal for working-class men, and they’re not feeling that they have it. Trump promises a world free of political correctness and a return to an earlier era, when men were men and women knew their place. It’s comfort food for high-school-educated guys who could have been my father-in-law if they’d been born 30 years earlier. Today they feel like losers — or did until they met Trump.

Manly dignity is a big deal for most men. So is breadwinner status: Many still measure masculinity by the size of a paycheck. White working-class men’s wages hit the skids in the 1970s and took another body blow during the Great Recession. Look, I wish manliness worked differently. But most men, like most women, seek to fulfill the ideals they’ve grown up with. For many blue-collar men, all they’re asking for is basic human dignity (male varietal). Trump promises to deliver it.

The Democrats’ solution? Last week the New York Times published an article advising men with high-school educations to take pink-collar jobs. Talk about insensitivity. Elite men, you will notice, are not flooding into traditionally feminine work. To recommend that for WWC men just fuels class anger.

Isn’t what happened to Clinton unfair? Of course it is. It is unfair that she wasn’t a plausible candidate until she was so overqualified she was suddenly unqualified due to past mistakes. It is unfair that Clinton is called a “nasty woman” while Trump is seen as a real man. It’s unfair that Clinton only did so well in the first debate because she wrapped her candidacy in a shimmy of femininity. When she returned to attack mode, it was the right thing for a presidential candidate to do but the wrong thing for a woman to do. The election shows that sexism retains a deeper hold that most imagined. But women don’t stand together: WWC women voted for Trump over Clinton by a whopping 28-point margin — 62% to 34%. If they’d split 50-50, she would have won.

Class trumps gender, and it’s driving American politics. Policy makers of both parties — but particularly Democrats if they are to regain their majorities — need to remember five major points.

Understand That Working Class Means Middle Class, Not Poor

The terminology here can be confusing. When progressives talk about the working class, typically they mean the poor. But the poor, in the bottom 30% of American families, are very different from Americans who are literally in the middle: the middle 50% of families whose median income was $64,000 in 2008. That is the true “middle class,” and they call themselves either “middle class” or “working class.”

“The thing that really gets me is that Democrats try to offer policies (paid sick leave! minimum wage!) that would help the working class,” a friend just wrote me. A few days’ paid leave ain’t gonna support a family. Neither is minimum wage. WWC men aren’t interested in working at McDonald’s for $15 per hour instead of $9.50. What they want is what my father-in-law had: steady, stable, full-time jobs that deliver a solid middle-class life to the 75% of Americans who don’t have a college degree. Trump promises that. I doubt he’ll deliver, but at least he understands what they need.

Understand Working-Class Resentment of the Poor

Remember when President Obama sold Obamacare by pointing out that it delivered health care to 20 million people? Just another program that taxed the middle class to help the poor, said the WWC, and in some cases that’s proved true: The poor got health insurance while some Americans just a notch richer saw their premiums rise.

Progressives have lavished attention on the poor for over a century. That (combined with other factors) led to social programs targeting them. Means-tested programs that help the poor but exclude the middle may keep costs and tax rates lower, but they are a recipe for class conflict. Example: 28.3% of poor families receive child-care subsidies, which are largely nonexistent for the middle class. So my sister-in-law worked full-time for Head Start, providing free child care for poor women while earning so little that she almost couldn’t pay for her own. She resented this, especially the fact that some of the kids’ moms did not work. One arrived late one day to pick up her child, carrying shopping bags from Macy’s. My sister-in-law was livid.

J.D. Vance’s much-heralded Hillbilly Elegy captures this resentment. Hard-living families like that of Vance’s mother live alongside settled families like that of his biological father. While the hard-living succumb to despair, drugs, or alcohol, settled families keep to the straight and narrow, like my parents-in-law, who owned their home and sent both sons to college. To accomplish that, they lived a life of rigorous thrift and self-discipline. Vance’s book passes harsh judgment on his hard-living relatives, which is not uncommon among settled families who kept their nose clean through sheer force of will. This is a second source of resentment against the poor.

Other books that get at this are Hard Living on Clay Street (1972) and Working-Class Heroes (2003).

Understand How Class Divisions Have Translated into Geography

The best advice I’ve seen so far for Democrats is the recommendation that hipsters move to Iowa. Class conflict now closely tracks the urban-rural divide. In the huge red plains between the thin blue coasts, shockingly high numbers of working-class men are unemployed or on disability, fueling a wave of despair deaths in the form of the opioid epidemic.

Vast rural areas are withering away, leaving trails of pain. When did you hear any American politician talk about that? Never.

Jennifer Sherman’s Those Who Work, Those Who Don’t (2009) covers this well.

If You Want to Connect with White Working-Class Voters, Place Economics at the Center

“The white working class is just so stupid. Don’t they realize Republicans just use them every four years, and then screw them?” I have heard some version of this over and over again, and it’s actually a sentiment the WWC agrees with, which is why they rejected the Republican establishment this year. But to them, the Democrats are no better.

Both parties have supported free-trade deals because of the net positive GDP gains, overlooking the blue-collar workers who lost work as jobs left for Mexico or Vietnam. These are precisely the voters in the crucial swing states of Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania that Democrats have so long ignored. Excuse me. Who’s stupid?

One key message is that trade deals are far more expensive than we’ve treated them, because sustained job development and training programs need to be counted as part of their costs.

At a deeper level, both parties need an economic program that can deliver middle-class jobs. Republicans have one: Unleash American business. Democrats? They remain obsessed with cultural issues. I fully understand why transgender bathrooms are important, but I also understand why progressives’ obsession with prioritizing cultural issues infuriates many Americans whose chief concerns are economic.

Back when blue-collar voters used to be solidly Democratic (1930–1970), good jobs were at the core of the progressive agenda. A modern industrial policy would follow Germany’s path. (Want really good scissors? Buy German.) Massive funding is needed for community college programs linked with local businesses to train workers for well-paying new economy jobs. Clinton mentioned this approach, along with 600,000 other policy suggestions. She did not stress it.

Avoid the Temptation to Write Off Blue-Collar Resentment as Racism

Economic resentment has fueled racial anxiety that, in some Trump supporters (and Trump himself), bleeds into open racism. But to write off WWC anger as nothing more than racism is intellectual comfort food, and it is dangerous.

National debates about policing are fueling class tensions today in precisely the same way they did in the 1970s, when college kids derided policemen as “pigs.” This is a recipe for class conflict. Being in the police is one of the few good jobs open to Americans without a college education. Police get solid wages, great benefits, and a respected place in their communities. For elites to write them off as racists is a telling example of how, although race- and sex-based insults are no longer acceptable in polite society, class-based insults still are.

I do not defend police who kill citizens for selling cigarettes. But the current demonization of the police underestimates the difficulty of ending police violence against communities of color. Police need to make split-second decisions in life-threatening situations. I don’t. If I had to, I might make some poor decisions too.

Saying this is so unpopular that I risk making myself a pariah among my friends on the left coast. But the biggest risk today for me and other Americans is continued class cluelessness. If we don’t take steps to bridge the class culture gap, when Trump proves unable to bring steel back to Youngstown, Ohio, the consequences could turn dangerous.

In 2010, while on a book tour for Reshaping the Work-Family Debate, I gave a talk about all of this at the Harvard Kennedy School. The woman who ran the speaker series, a major Democratic operative, liked my talk. “You are saying exactly what the Democrats need to hear,” she mused, “and they’ll never listen.” I hope now they will.


Joan C. Williams is Distinguished Professor of Law and Founding Director of the Center of WorkLife Law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.