Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

January 8, 2017

Trumponomics as professional wrestling

Filed under: Donald Trump — louisproyect @ 10:16 pm

Any number of pundits on the left welcomed Donald Trump as an alternative to a Clinton presidency that would be beholden to Wall Street in general and Goldman-Sachs in particular. Pepe Escobar, who is on the farthest reaches of this territory, even considered the possibility that his election was “an unprecedented body blow against neoliberalism” and “Perhaps a new push towards democratic socialism”.

While many of these people have woken up with a bad hangover after seeing all the Goldman-Sachs people connected to the new administration, they still might feel worse over the possibility of Donald staying so nationalistic that it would risk a nuclear war with China, his supposed arch-enemy.

For example, the screwballs at the World Socialist Website have now switched from doing their Chicken Little routine over Ukraine to China:

As he declared that he would not feel bound by the One China policy, Trump lashed out at Beijing not only over trade and North Korea, but also for “building a massive fortress in the middle of the South China Sea, which they shouldn’t be doing.” … If there were any doubt that he is preparing for war, Trump’s tweet prior to Christmas that the US must “greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear [weapons] capacity” is a chilling warning of his reckless and militarist intentions.”

Once you step back and look at things coolly and calmly, which such people are obviously incapable of doing, you will see that there is not that much of a break between Obama and Trump, just as there wasn’t between Bush and Obama. Despite all the acrimonious words coming out of the mouths of Charles Schumer or Elizabeth Warren, the two capitalist parties are much more like professional wrestlers who threaten to destroy each other in a main event only to go out for dinner later that night. Not only that, there’s not much chance of a war breaking out between Trump and China as we shall see later on in this article.

Just consider the willingness of rising liberal Democratic star Kamala Harris to let Trump’s Secretary of the Treasury Stephen Mnuchin, a former Goldman-Sachs partner, get off the hook in the same way that Obama let all the other banksters go free after he was elected.

In 2009 Mnuchin led a group of investors to buy IndyMac, one of those shady mortgage companies that had been nearly destroyed by the 2007-2008 meltdown. George Soros, who was seen alongside Janet Yellen in a Trump campaign commercial widely viewed as anti-Semitic, was part of the group as was John Paulson. Both Paulson and Soros had bet correctly that the mortgage-backed securities business would tank and after cashing in on their winnings bought IndyMac at fire sale prices.

Once Mnuchin’s OneWest Bank absorbed IndyMac’s mortgages, it began to aggressively foreclose on families in arrears. The Daily Beast reported on one homeowner he went after:

One-hundred-and-three-year-old Myrtle Lewis ran into such issues with OneWest in 2014. She accidentally allowed her insurance to lapse, which prompted the bank to attempt to foreclose on her property. Lewis reinstated her insurance and the bank still didn’t back off. It is unclear what happened to the property.

So, this guy symbolizes exactly what drove people to Occupy Wall Street in 2011. Why then would someone the Nation Magazine describes as “one raising her voice for social and economic justice” let him get away with foreclosures that were prosecutable?

Glenn Greenwald’s Intercept recently got its hands on an internal memo from Harris’s office that referred to over a thousand violations of foreclosure laws by his bank when she was Attorney General in California, and that predicted that further investigation would uncover many thousands more. The bottom line on Mnuchin:

Despite the limitations on the investigation, we uncovered evidence suggestive of widespread misconduct, including evidence that OneWest:

(1) signed backdated and false instruments, acknowledged them to notaries, and then caused them to be recorded with county recorders throughout the State; (2) made and directed unlawful credit bids at trustee’s sales which resulted in the wrong parties winning auctions and the unlawful evasion of documentary transfer tax obligations; (3) performed other acts in the foreclosure process without valid legal authority-, and (4) failed to comply with requirements related to the execution, timing, and mailing of foreclosure documents.

Keeping in mind that Mnuchin’s partner in this enterprise was George Soros, who is supposedly the mastermind of every liberal initiative against the Koch brothers et al, you really have to wonder whether it is nothing but professional wrestling. Pure fakery.

As for Mnuchin, he is just the kind of person who might have shown up at a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton at Barbra Streisand’s mansion. When he was not trying to foreclose on 103-year old women, he was investing in films such as James Cameron’s “Avatar”, one that Steve Bannon’s Breitbart.com called an “America-Hating, PC Revenge Fantasy”. Get it? Professional wrestling.

It also seems that Mnuchin had put his money where his mouth was when he funded Cameron’s movie. The Blaze has reported that “according to Federal Election Commission filings, Steven Mnuchin has donated more than $96,000 to political candidates, the vast majority of which went to Democrats and left-wing organizations, such as the League of Conservation Voters.” He gave $4,000 to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2004 and more than $8,000 to Hillary Clinton’s various campaigns. He also gave $10,000, the largest single donation listed on the FEC website, to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 2004. That’s not the end of it. The entire Mnuchin family has been delivering wheelbarrows full of money to the Democrats since the late 1990s. His father, mother, brother and his brother’s spouse have made major donations to Senators Elizabeth Warren and Charles Schumer and to former Democratic Party presidential candidate John Edwards. Odd that Mnuchin would give money to Warren since she is supposedly Wall Street’s worse enemy. She even described him as the “Forrest Gump of the financial crisis.” (Professional wrestling.)

So why would Kamala Harris let this bastard go free? The answer is that she is like many of the new faces in the Democratic Party that are supposed to be a breath of fresh air and a repudiation of Clintonite neoliberalism just like Barack Obama was in 2008, if you took the Nation Magazine at its word. The daughter of a Jamaican economist father and an Indian biologist mother, she has many progressive credits on her resume—just the sort of thing that is necessary to develop a political career in San Francisco, her home base. The NY Times drew attention to her in a September 2010 article:

In 2008 she laid the groundwork for a statewide race by being co-chairwoman of Barack Obama’s California campaign and fund-raising extensively on his behalf in Southern California. After his victory, Ms. Harris began appearing on national television, with journalists like Gwen Ifill and Matt Lauer referring to her as the “female Obama.”

The female Obama? That sounds about right.

Turning now to worries about Armageddon with China, there’s less there than meets the eye. In fact, the ties between the Trump White House and the Chinese ruling class might be even more intimate than those with Russia based on an eye-opening report in today’s NY Times on his son-in-law’s dealings with the Chinese investors close to the government’s top officials.

Jared Kushner is not just Trump’s son-in-law. He is slated to be appointed as one of his chief advisers. Like the Donald, there will be a token divestment of his business dealings but you can be sure that his empire will grow and prosper as a result of the dovetailing of interests with the Trump administration.

The article sets the tone in the opening paragraphs:

On the night of Nov. 16, a group of executives gathered in a private dining room of the restaurant La Chine at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Midtown Manhattan. The table was laden with Chinese delicacies and $2,100 bottles of Château Lafite Rothschild. At one end sat Wu Xiaohui, the chairman of the Waldorf’s owner, Anbang Insurance Group, a Chinese financial behemoth with estimated assets of $285 billion and an ownership structure shrouded in mystery. Close by sat Jared Kushner, a major New York real estate investor whose father-in-law, Donald J. Trump, had just been elected president of the United States.

It was a mutually auspicious moment.

Anbang and Kushner’s real estate firm are co-owners of 666 Fifth Avenue, a “fading jewel” of the Kushner empire. Just by coincidence, after dining at the Waldorf Astoria, Wu Xiaohui has expressed a desire to meet with President Trump. I am sure that Jared will exercise some influence to make that happen.

Apparently the 35-year old Kushner knows how to get around. Last August he and his wife Ivanka hobnobbed with some VIPs:

In August, they were spotted with Wendi Deng, an ex-wife of Rupert Murdoch, on the 453-foot yacht Rising Sun, owned by the entertainment mogul David Geffen. Several weeks later, they were photographed watching the United States Open tennis finals with the art collector Dasha Zhukova, wife of the Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, a member of President Vladimir V. Putin’s inner circle.

Is there any better way to describe the internecine ties between the ultra-rich than is encapsulated here?

  • David Geffen: the gay Hollywood macher who was an early backer of Bill Clinton but who had a falling out with him over his decision not to pardon Leonard Peltier. Geffen was also an early backer of Obama for president and raised $1.3 million for Obama in a Beverly Hills fundraiser.
  • Rupert Murdoch’s ex-wife, who divorced her when he learned that she was having an affair with Tony Blair. She is also rumored to have had one with Putin. So incestuous.
  • Abramovich is the 13th richest man in Russia and said to enjoy the status of a father-like figure to Vladimir Putin. Sort of like being a godfather to another Vlad—Vlad the impaler.

These sorts of connections have paid off for Jared. Russian billionaire tech investor Yuri Milner and Chinese billionaire founder of Alibaba Jack Ma are investors in Cadre, a real estate investment company he and his brother started with a friend. Guess what. Goldman Sachs has invested as well.

But the bridge being built to Anbang will lead to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The Times has reported that Anbang is “owned by a few dozen companies, which in turn are owned by a number of shell companies that are controlled by roughly 100 people, many of whom have ties to a county in China that is the home of Mr. Wu, whose own power stems in part from marriage.” Like Jared Kushner, Wu knew how to marry well, in his case to Zhuo Ran, a granddaughter of Deng Xiaoping, the CCP leader who carried out the capitalist turn.

Meanwhile, notwithstanding Trump’s faux saber-rattling that has the sectarian nut jobs at WSWS.org shitting in their pants, the president-elect is not likely to launch H-Bombs at people he has these kinds of connections with. The president-elect has his own financial entanglements with China: Trump “owns a 30 percent stake in a partnership that owes roughly $950 million to a group of lenders that includes the Bank of China, and one of his biggest tenants at Trump Tower is another state-owned bank, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.”

A week after Jared Kushner met with Mr. Wu, Donald Trump has lunch with him at the Waldorf. It must have been a pleasant and mutually rewarding affair since Wu was heard saying as left in perfect English: “I love you guys”.

1 Comment »

  1. […] What I found intriguing was a comment in the dossier that claimed Trump was far more interested in partnering with China than Russia: “Suggestion from source close to TRUMP and MANAFORT that Republican campaign team happy to have Russia as media bogeyman to mask more extensive corrupt business ties to China and other emerging countries.” That, of course, backs up what I reported on the article titled “Trumponomics as Professional Wrestling“. […]

    Pingback by Beyond the Golden Showers | Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist — January 12, 2017 @ 12:47 am


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