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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Millions of Californians will click on their TVs Friday and groan. They'll wince as the unthinkable becomes a reality. Can you say President Trump? It's painful.

Yes, he's a terrible choice for all the reasons that need no listing here. He's not California's choice, but he is most states'.

He won because of a convoluted, undemocratic electoral college system created by the Constitution's framers to appease some lightly populated slave states.

OK, enough of the negative. There's something genuinely positive here that illustrates America's greatness with or without Trump. And it's worth celebrating.

It's simply that American democracy performed, although awkwardly, as the founders basically envisioned: Common folk could stand up against the establishment elite and boot them out the door.

Rebelling against the ruling class -- peasants with pitchforks overrunning the castle -- is part of the American DNA. read more


Friday, December 30, 2016

Nearly a decade and a half after the Iraq-WMD faceplant, the American press is again asked to co-sign a dubious intelligence assessment

This dramatic story puts the news media in a jackpot. Absent independent verification, reporters will have to rely upon the secret assessments of intelligence agencies to cover the story at all.

Many reporters I know are quietly freaking out about having to go through that again. We all remember the WMD fiasco.
"It's déjà vu all over again" is how one friend put it.

You can see awkwardness reflected in the headlines that flew around the Internet Thursday. Some news agencies seemed split on whether to unequivocally declare that Russian hacking took place, or whether to hedge bets and put it all on the government to make that declaration, using "Obama says" formulations. read more


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The CIA has accused Russia of interfering in the 2016 presidential election by hacking into Democratic and Republican computer networks and selectively releasing emails. But critics might point out the U.S. has done similar things.

The U.S. has a long history of attempting to influence presidential elections in other countries – it's done so as many as 81 times between 1946 and 2000, according to a database amassed by political scientist Dov Levin of Carnegie Mellon University.

In 59% of these cases, the side that received assistance came to power, although Levin estimates the average effect of "partisan electoral interventions" to be only about a 3% increase in vote share.

read more


Sunday, December 04, 2016

Not since 2010 has California felt itself politically so out of step with the times. That year the state resisted the nationwide wave of anti-incumbent, anti-regulation and anti-big government voting to elect Jerry Brown as governor, ease the passage of big-money state budgets and turn away a challenge to its pioneering greenhouse gas regulations.

This election day, California voters tightened gun control, extended taxes on the rich, hiked cigarette taxes, legalized marijuana, boosted multilingual education -- and of course provided Hillary Clinton with all of her winning margin of 2 million popular votes, and then some, in her losing campaign for president.

read more


Comments

This is probably one of the best articles that I have seen dissecting why the Democrats lost and what Prof. Williams says in the article should resonate with every Progressive (disclaimer, Prof. Williams and my wife are friends and colleagues, so I am admittedly biased):

But in battleground states, white working-class voters rejected the Democrat.

"It was incredibly stupid to ignore them," Williams told me.

"I'm a lifelong Democrat and a San Francisco progressive. I really hope people will use this as an opportunity to listen to the white working class.

"Progressives have been seriously out of touch."

Trump talked plainly about real issues that concern the middle class, Williams says: "I'm not a big fan of Mr. Trump, but hats off to him because he's talking about good jobs for people who are not college grads."

She adds: "They've been very, very angry for a very long time and people have dismissed their anger. And when that happens, that causes them to get angrier….

"The fact is, progressives and elites shouldn't be blaming the white poor for their economic disadvantage, but we do just that. ‘Why don't they get their act together and go to college?' People would never say that about inner-city minorities….

"Progressives are extremely attentive to the structural disadvantage of poor women and people of color, but supremely uninterested in the structural disadvantage of the white working class. This has not been a central concern of either political party until Trump.

"Nobody has been listening to what they need, which are jobs that lead them to a three-bedroom, cinder block house. And they just have totally had it. It's time to listen."

It's time for Democratic leaders to listen closely to the likes of Williams. And maybe pick up some clues from Trump's inaugural address. Assuming he behaves.

We can knit "----- hats", protest and invoke the Godwin's law incessantly but the fact remains that we have to do a better job of listening to what is still the largest voting bloc in the US if we want to erase the gains made by the GOP.

Obviously it is welcome to those who want to, "scale back regulations that some critics see as burdensome and may be hindering corporate growth."

People fail to realize that the SEC is a huge bureaucracy that is only governed and overseen by the Commission...the real work is done in the trenches by the 5 main departments: Corporation Finance, Enforcement, Economic and Risk Analysis, Investment Management and Trading and Markets, and each of these has subordinate "offices":

Office of Acquisitions
Office of Administrative Law Judges
Office of the Chief Accountant
Office of the Chief Operating Officer
Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations
Office of Credit Ratings
Office of Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO)
Office of the Ethics Counsel
Office of Financial Management
Office of FOIA Services
Office of the General Counsel
Office of Human Resources
Office of Information Technology
Office of Inspector General
Office of International Affairs
Office of the Investor Advocate
Office of Investor Education and Advocacy
Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs
Office of Municipal Securities
Office of Public Affairs
Office of the Secretary
Office of Support Operations
Office of Minority and Women Inclusion

Each of these departments and each of these offices is headed by a career SEC employee. It's not like the Commission waves a wand and things change immediately. The Commission does set the direction of the SEC but bureaucratic inertia will take years to overcome. Where the real power is, on a day to day basis, is in the Office of the Secretary, who is currently Bret J. Fields, who has been at the SEC for over 20 years. He is the "gatekeeper" for the Commission, and is responsible for implementing "orders" from the Commission. Interestingly, Fields has been a bit of a thorn in the side of the Obama Administration for the past two years in that he has "slow rolled" several orders from the Commission that he has felt were "inappropriately designated", which is SEC-speak for "disagreed".

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