03/06/2018 – Denver, Co.
FLAILING AND FAILING…
A Flailing, Failing Presidency
Events keep outrunning the media’s, or my attempts to keep up with the soap opera, cum governmental disaster that is the Trump presidency. Even the great journalists and pundits are non-plussed by the speed with which the Sargasso Sea of corruption, lies, indictments, departures and childish tantrums keep turning each news cycle into a trip to Disneyland. In days past, the “E” ticket at Disneyland allowed you to enjoy everything the park had to offer. The flailing, failing presidency of Donald Trump is a political voyeur’s “E” ticket to a coming tragedy, the tragedy of a Romanov-like family swamped by its own arrogance, naivete and outright stupidity. The head of the family, of course, is leading by tantrum and “instinct,” more so as the Mueller noose grows tighter around his family and himself.
Trump’s secret love affair with Russia and Vladimir Putin is remarkable and frightening in its obviousness and naked disregard for the security of the United States’ institutions. When Congress passes economic sanctions on Russia, this president does nothing. The national security agencies still wait for direction from the president’s office to thwart Russian interference into election hacking. The White House is silent. Not a word has emanated from Trump about election interference that the intelligence community has confirmed will happen again in 2018. To me, this is gross dereliction of duty. Then again, we see all the Trump family entanglements of hotel deals with the Russians, influence peddling by the son-in-law, possible money laundering by his former campaign chairman, the “symbiotic” relationship with Devin Nunes, the House Intelligence Committee chairman and his memos.
In spite of all the evidence to the contrary, Nunes has wrapped himself and his Republican colleagues in the mantle of obfuscation, denials, non-denial denials and outright lies in attempts to derail the F.B.I.’s investigation into collusion with Russia by the Trump campaign, as well as that by the special prosecutor. Now, why would a member of Congress be so protective of a president who basically admits to obstruction of justice? One must ask if Republicans are so beholden to their party lines that the moral codes and laws of our nation don’t matter.
I’ve spoken about the tax cut before, but as the impact of the “plan” becomes more visible, it shows itself to be one of the most dangerous (to our working class majority) and special interest oriented legislation ever passed in our entire history. Speaking of which…. History shows us that every time, EVERY time, a massive tax cut is given to the wealthy and the corporations, our economy tanks and we have another economic trough of recession or depression. This history is, of course, perpetuated by Republicans, who keep saying they believe in small government. The facts are that every time there is Republican control of Congress and/or the White House, government gets larger and more expensive: See the newest Pentagon budget. Not only is it larger than last year’s, the Defense Department whines because it wasn’t big enough. Fifty-seven percent of the entire national output isn’t enough. Think about that.
Then, since most of our manufacturing jobs have been sent to other countries and our factories abandoned, we must ask what DO we build? We build great airplanes and some automobiles. We build the most fearsome weapons of war. We build countless guns for our citizens to hoard and fondle. We build buildings for our insurance companies and corporate executives to reside in. We build NO televisions, NO Audio/Visual devices, NO smart phones and very few computers and printers, compared to the rest of the world. We build some alternative energy hardware, but other countries build much, much more than we do. We build medical devices and prosthetics for our injured and maimed veterans who are working in dangerous places created by George W. Bush’s and Dick Cheney’s misbegotten wars. Thanks to both Republican and Democratic initiatives, at the behest of big business, we have shipped jobs to places where labor unions don’t exist and where labor is just a couple clicks above outright slavery. That’s our brand of capitalism. That’s what Reaganomics pushed for and got. Add to that the other tax rules that allow corporations and the super rich to plop their cash in overseas banks so they don’t have to pay taxes on that income. How’s that for outright patriotism?
Intelligent pundits have cautioned us to watch what they do and not what they say. The flailing president has done his two-step on just about everything, from easily breaking campaign promises about health care, tax reform and job creation, to trying to keep promises on gun control, and now, trade tariffs. He told us how easy it was going to be to enact health care for everyone at a cheaper cost and better coverage than that dreaded Obamacare. Instead, we ended up having the president gleefully sign a bill that cuts insurance coverage and pressures “the market” to raise premiums and rates on everyone…except the Congress, of course. The laugh line here is when the president told the world, “Who knew health care was so complicated?”
Trump has done the two step on everything he’s touched while in office. It appears that’s what he’s been doing his entire life. As a businessman, he’s stiffed his contractors and manipulated bankruptcy to walk away with millions in the bank. How does anyone fail in the casino business? Trump has. Now, he seems to want to stiff the entire nation, especially those who struggle to make ends meet.
Trump almost daily violates his oath of office. Regarding the election security issues, he is fundamentally derelict in his first duty to protect our nation and its institutions from outside influence. We were ATTACKED by the Russians, yet not a single disparaging word about Russia comes from the president’s lips. Not a single action to prevent or retaliate against Russia comes from his pen. Why is that? Failure? Trump’s actions and inactions define the word perfectly.
So, while the White House environment continues to emulate that of an acid bath, his staff, some competent, are leaving in droves. The beleaguered chief-of-staff is stuck with a collection of family members and appointees who can’t get security clearances. So, who is able to execute the daily grind of executive branch work? Leaked reports of the chaos and low morale in the White House (all wings) shows a flailing, angry, “unglued” individual (the president) lashing out at everyone and everything. We saw a brief glimmer of real humanity from president Trump when he addressed the Florida students after the latest school shooting. He then blew everyone away by saying he wanted all sorts of gun controls. Not to worry, NRA, all it took was another session behind closed doors to fix that outburst. Watch what they do, not what they say.
With Hope Hicks, Trump’s twenty-nine year old soother, gone, who will talk him off the ledge? Is another real war a possibility? Why would he start another war? Well, it’s part of the deflection campaign against the Mueller investigation: distract, obfuscate, lie, change the subject, doing something else outrageous. This is the flail of a flailing leader who is in WAY over his head. Neither he, nor his family, nor most of his appointees have the first clue about governing the nation.
Trump’s ego and narcissism will drive the failure of his administration, but the outright incompetence of himself and his staff and cabinet of amateurs has the executive branch of our government flailing away and doing far more harm than good. This is what we get when we combine an un-involved electorate (92 million voters who didn’t vote) with an outmoded and misused part of our Constitution (Electoral College). The irony is that the Electoral College was created to prevent someone like Donald Trump from becoming President. That must be fixed before it’s too late.
02/21/2018 – Denver, Co.
DERELICTION OF DUTY, A TRAGIC STORY…
Dereliction of Duty
This title is perhaps the most serious accusation one can make against someone who has significant responsibility and whose actions impact a great many people. The primary duty of the President of the United States is to protect our people, our Constitution and our institutions from foreign influence or attacks. Recent events show all of us, still drawing a breath, that Donald Trump is indeed derelict in these basic duties of his office. He is NOT defending the Constitution. He is NOT defending our institutions. He is NOT defending the people of the United States.
Thomas Friedman, a hard-boiled op-ed columnist for the New York Times, wrote a deeply disturbing article on the subject of this current president’s behavior regarding the Russian interference investigation by Robert Mueller. He writes as if someone has their finger on the alarm button: “Our democracy is in serious danger. President Trump is either totally compromised by the Russians or is a towering fool, or both, but either way, he has shown himself unwilling or unable to defend America against a Russian campaign to divide and undermine our democracy.
“This is code red. The biggest threat to the integrity of our democracy today is in the Oval Office.”
I’ve been pointing all this out since even before Trump took the oath of office – integrity is something he seems to take delight in ignoring or defacing with his self-serving, self-absorbed narcissism. He whines that he is “fighting back” against his accusers and they’re calling it obstruction of justice. Uh, Donald…when it quacks, has webbed feet and feathers, it’s probably a duck. Everything Trump has done since firing Jim Comey has screamed “obstruction of justice”. Worse, he told Russian intelligence and statesmen how great it was to get that “nut job” F.B.I. Director off his back. He stupidly spilled security-laced beans to the Russians which compromised the identity of Israeli intelligence people. I think Friedman’s choice of the phrase “towering fool” is, at best, just barely adequate.
After every one of our intelligence agencies formed a consensus that the Russians indeed were committing cyber/information warfare against our elections and our institutions of democracy, the Congress – yes, this Congress – actually passed measures defining significant sanctions against Russia. Trump tabled it and hasn’t commented on it. Trump is being derelict in his duty to defend us. Friedman thinks Trump has been compromised in any number of ways by the Russians. Trump’s lieutenants are being busted, one after the other, for money laundering schemes with Russian oligarchs, the same people with whom Trump associated during the Miss Universe nonsense several years ago in Moscow.
Never mind all the lies and broken promises from this president since he began his moron-level campaign. Consider the points of the recent indictments against the thirteen Russians and three Russian companies. The evidence now exists that shows that the Russians have been hard at invading our information networks, have actually paid for and organized anti-Clinton campaigns and demonstrations and otherwise poisoned the electorate with disinformation to favor anyone but Hillary Clinton. We might recall, also, that Vladimir Putin has a very public animosity toward Mrs. Clinton that has been festering for years. That said, why is anyone surprised that Clinton’s and the DNC’s e-mails were hacked by Russians? Also, why would candidate Trump shout to the world inviting the Russians to hack into Clinton’s e-mails? How did he know they were doing that? Now, Putin, being a “retired” KGB operative, would know how to run one of these disinformation campaigns against his own perceived nemesis, Hillary Clinton.
Trump, as it turned out, became the perfect pigeon for Putin’s ideas: Was Trump compromised by some salacious videos (Steele’s dossier), in the tank with the Russian oligarchs “funding” his ego-driven tower projects and otherwise connected to Russian mafia? I think it won’t be long before Robert Mueller pops the lid off that can of scorpions. Donald Trump just rewrote the user’s manual on how to act guilty of crimes. He has denied accusations that haven’t been made. For example, he has misinterpreted the language in the thirteen indictments and claimed they exonerated him and his campaign from collusion. They did no such thing, of course, but they DID prove that Trump’s whines about this investigation of Russian meddling in our elections as a hoax were lies. The thing is, he KNEW they were lies. He KNEW they were meddling. He invited them to meddle in our election process. What kind of patriot does that? A seditious and traitorous one, that’s who.
On top of that, he has disgraced the recent shooting victims in Florida with his mindless rant about the F.B.I.’s oversight. He told that agency to spend more time fighting crimes than investigating his alleged collusion with Russia. Nice. Then he actually visited Parkland, FL, and praised the first responders, doctors and nurses. Did he visit the wounded victims? Nope. Did he mention anything about the guns? Nope. What he did, when the wind stopped blowing so hard, was go play golf.
In all fairness, today Trump ordered his Attorney General to do something to ban bump stocks that turn an AR-15 into a machine gun. The thing is, a bump stock was not used in the Florida killings. The shooter fired rounds at crowds of innocent children and adults as fast as he could pull the trigger. That would be about two rounds per second. That would also be fast enough to kill 17 kids and teachers, while wounding another fourteen people who thought it was safe to go to school that day.
Throughout these last sixteen months, or so, we have watched the Trump administration dash from pillar to post trying to cover up every scandal: the scandal de jour. The White House even commented that the Florida killings gave them a “reprieve” from the daily scandals surrounding them. Classy, those Trump-ites… They’ve gone through staff like an elephant goes through peanuts. The administration will NOT point the finger at the men who commit violence against women. That would beg two questions: Why would any self-respecting woman ever vote for this guy? Aren’t women part of our population that are protected by the Constitution and those who pledge to defend it?
In all the cases mentioned here as well as many more along the way, it is crystal clear that this president is in dereliction of his duty and daily violates his oath of office. He may eventually be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors when we get a Congress that has some backbone, but meanwhile Trump disgraces our nation every day, with every tweet, every lie and with every arrogant refusal to support our national institutions and norms. My hope that this abject absurdity of a president will be a large enough case study to show that in order to keep our democracy, we must be informed of our choices for which we vote, and we must all vote…while we still can. Clearly, those who voted for Donald Trump ignored all the red flags and bought into the Russian-created campaign against Hillary Clinton that appealed to their most basal instincts, prejudices and bigotry. Maybe the Russians know us better than we admit to knowing ourselves
Read more from Vern here: Vern’s Readers
01/08/2018 – Denver, Co.
A Madman in our Midst
There has been, over the last several months, a cascade of articles published by psychiatrists and psychologists who list the symptoms of Trump’s behavior and speech patterns as defining someone who is a psychopath, or someone suffering from some sort of progressive dementia. Below are some excerpts from a blog written by a professor in Indiana, Dr. Sheila Kennedy.
Americans are being “governed”–if you can dignify what is coming from the White House as governing–by a boy with a nuclear toy. (If there were any remaining doubts, Michael Wolff’s new book should dispel them.)
Who among us would ever have anticipated having an occupant of the Oval Office tweeting “mine is bigger than yours” at another, equally demented, world leader? (Do you suppose we could settle this by putting the two of them in an examining room, and measuring their “parts”?)
I used to attribute Trump’s unbelievable lack of self-awareness to privilege. We all know people whose money or power insulates them from contact with people who will tell them the truth; the longer their isolation from ridicule or dissent, the less grounded they become. But I think Charles Pierce has a more accurate evaluation of the problem.
Pierce’s column analyzed Trump’s recent interview with New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt. Schmidt had intercepted Trump on a golf course, where are no aides to constrain the free flow of what Trump apparently regards as sentences, and reaction to that interview has been shock and (terrified) awe.
Pierce dismissed criticisms of Schmidt’s conduct of the interview as irrelevant to what it exposed:
“Over the past 30 years, I’ve seen my father and all of his siblings slide into the shadows and fog of Alzheimer’s Disease. (The president*’s father developed Alzheimer’s in his 80s.) In 1984, Ronald Reagan debated Walter Mondale in Louisville and plainly had no idea where he was. (If someone on the panel had asked him, he’d have been stumped.) Not long afterwards, I was interviewing a prominent Alzheimer’s researcher for a book I was doing, and he said, “I saw the look on his face that I see every day in my clinic. …”
In this interview, the president is only intermittently coherent. He talks in semi-sentences and is always groping for something that sounds familiar, even if it makes no sense whatsoever and even if it blatantly contradicts something he said two minutes earlier. To my ears, anyway, this is more than the president*’s well-known allergy to the truth. This is a classic coping mechanism employed when language skills are coming apart.
Pierce gives several examples from the transcript of the interview–boasts that embarrass rational people, non-sequiturs that most observers (reasonably enough) attribute to ignorance, and Trump’s trademark, repellant grandiosity, which Pierce sees as the desperation of a man who is losing the ability to understand the world around hi
This is but a sample. Other professional people, albeit without a first-hand examination of the patient, have gone to more “complex” analyses that include such disturbing words as paranoid, pathologically narcissistic, delusional and other terms of equal or greater impact value. So, how does a pathological liar – added to all these other traits of a madman – get himself into the most powerful chair in the world?
It begins with citizens saying things like, “My vote doesn’t count.”, or “The system is rigged.”, or “Both parties are the same.”, or “All politicians are the same and they all lie.” O.K. Some parts of all of these memes are true. So, who is to blame for that? We are, that’s who.
George Carlin used to do a very funny bit about voting. He told us he didn’t vote because he didn’t want to be responsible for the idiots who end up in office. The irony, of course, is profound. We the people have allowed ourselves to become lazy and ignorant about our national and local politics. Just voter turnout numbers are enough to validate that statement. I used to be a poll judge in my small, conservative district in central Texas. For local elections, we were thrilled to see 20% of the registered voters show up. In 2008, we saw almost 75% turn out, but for the following mid-term elections, it was back down to the mid-30s. What all this says is that a minority of the people are picking the representatives for the majority. Guess what you get when that voting minority has an agenda that is self-serving and counter to the overall good of the town, state or country.
In today’s USA, we’re seeing a profound takeover of the government by the extreme right who, ironically, still pass themselves off as conservatives. They are NOT conservative about anything except preserving their re-election funding from their donors. That means the donors are calling the shots. In my previous books, I’ve described the lives of David and Charles Koch, briefly, (Jane Mayer does a better job in her book, Dark Money) and shown how sinister these people really are with regard to democracy and our way of life. Their view of our country is so narrow that it would easily pass through the eye of a very small needle. THOSE are the donors who are wagging the dog of our elected officials. The Tea Party idiots are perfect examples of what happens when a political movement is hijacked by really big money. Look how much damage that cabal of fools did to not only the Republican party, conservatism, but the entire government. Their mindless sprint toward fiscal idiocy has nearly brought our government to a halt with millions losing their means of survival. This is what fascist oligarchies look like.
Today, president Trump tweeted to the world that he was indeed mentally stable. But, that wasn’t enough. He had to remind us that he was also a genius. When I stopped laughing my ass off, I felt a pang of true sadness. The sadness I feel is for my friends and acquaintances who actually fell for Trump’s line of bullshit and false hopes and bizarre promises to vote for him. I feel even more sorrow for my country and the vast majority of good, solid citizens who have to share the burden of our embarrassment over having perhaps the worst person in the world as our national leader.
This disgraceful and, perhaps, psychotic presidency must be ended as soon as possible. The bad news, until the 2018 elections, is that some extremely backward ideologue would inherit the oval office. Mike Pence proved to all of Indiana that he was a dreadful governor with an agenda that impacted the majority of his constituents in harmful ways. He’d do the same as President. If Pence gets swept up in the coming tsunami of scandals, that leaves us with Paul Ryan, perhaps the most dangerous fiscal vulture in our history as President. These are not great prospects.
In the end, we the people had better learn our lessons on participative democracy while we still can. It was always there for us. The founders must have had their fingers crossed that the people would stand up for this grand experiment in self-governing. Despite its flaws and misplaced idealism, it’s worked pretty well, up until now. Now, the real capitalistic enemies are at the gates of our freedom and are salivating at making most of us their subjects of eternal wealth hoarding. We are literally teetering on the brink of losing our democratic republic and handing it over to the fascists, who have gone all-in for the Powell memo (Chapter 13) and are poised to go to any extreme to have it all. Bribery is no longer a crime to these people; it is a way of life. You might want to consider that fact the next time an election rolls around. Perhaps making ourselves aware and educated about who and what we’re voting for will become more important in our minds than ever before.
We have a madman as president, and he is fronting a mad dash for the greatest smash-and-dash ripoff by one party in our political history. The Republicans in Congress are just clever enough and evil enough to take advantage of the orange lunatic to hijack the entire political process and avoid the checks and balances inherent in our Constitution. When a Republican Congress person starts grinning, grab your wallet and protect your assets while you still can.
12/20/2017 – Denver, Co.
Reminders for Action
While cleaning out my cat’s litter box today, I was reminded of what I’ve heard and read about the nauseating “tax reform” lump that was just emitted by the Republicans in Congress. I also noticed that twenty-four more Republicans than Democrats voted for this pile of excrement in the House. I was also reminded of other things regarding certain kinds of houses from the public discourse following along this bill like hanging stink from a garbage heap.
Reading what Republicans said about how their donors would shun them if they didn’t pass this giveaway to the rich, reminded me of those unfortunate people who make their living on their backs. Here we have a cabal of very rich men and women answering to the knock of even richer people to make them richer still. By adding the real estate tax loophole at the last minute, they assured that those politicians, like Bob Corker, would expose their privates and vote for this aromatic monstrosity while scuttling off into the sunset at the end of their elected term. I guess the trough in which they feed finally grew fetid enough from poor hygiene that even their jaded noses couldn’t stand the stench.
This last insult to the working classes, by the smirking cretin Paul Ryan, and the malevolence of Mitch McConnell, reminded me of a comment made by Henry Wallace back in 1944. One must remember that the United States was engaged in a death struggle with the Nazis, the Japanese and international fascism around the world at this time. It was also when Senator Harry S. Truman took the fat cats of the day to the woodshed for not only gouging the taxpayer for war bucks, but producing inferior products (combat boots that fell apart in the field) or charging for work not done (barracks at Ft. Leonard Wood not being built) and a host of other egregious attempts to maximize profit at the expense of OUR TROOPS fighting desperate battles. This, history shows, became a harbinger of things to come. No-bid and cost-plus contracts are still with us today.
Henry Wallace, 1944: “American fascists claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjugation.
Enter Paul Ryan, who now boldly states that next year he and his fellow Republican/fascists want to go after Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare because these things “are the biggest drivers of our national debt”. This from the opening that just declared that people would come to like having their money stolen and handed to the oligarchs. Ryan and friends just created a $1.4 trillion add-on to our national debt and want to pay for it by making poor people poorer, denying sick and elderly people their earned benefits and laughing at us all along the way.
How does it feel to have your nose rubbed into the mess created by elected thieves passing themselves off as politicians? Does their “mess” smell any better because they wear Armani suits and were elected by those whose noses are sensing the fragrance of their own gullibility? Even the most craven working family has to be reeling from the odor of greed, lies, graft and outright theft of their hard-earned wages and benefits. Can the mid-term elections come soon enough?
Thomas Jefferson: I have never been able to conceive how any rational being could propose happiness to himself from the exercise of power over others”. I guess Jefferson never conceived today’s brand of Republican fascist either.
Ayn Rand: Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority; the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities (and the smallest minority on earth is the individual)”. So, even Paul Ryan’s guru said that screwing people was not supposed to be in the realm of governing. I guess he nodded off during that part.
A little piece from Isaiah 10: Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed.
To turn aside the needy from judgement, and to take away the right from the poor of my people… I wonder how Ryan and Pence justify their actions against the poor with their approval of this “unrighteous decree”. This reminds me of another word from Isaiah, HYPOCRISY.
We shouldn’t ignore the coming set-up by Republican mouthpieces like John Cornyn (R-Texas) who boldly stated that Democrats refused to participate in developing this tax reform thing. I hasten to point out that most Republicans didn’t participate either. The bill was basically written by the Koch brothers’ surrogates, ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council). This “organization”, along with the spidery network of state “Public Policy Foundations”, are merely fronts for the fascist corporatists to write the legislation that gives them what they want. Since they already own the Republican Party, this is the easiest part.
This lie coming from Cornyn, et. al., is the set-up line for 2018 when the “reform” falls on its face and the stock market collapses: Blame the Democrats. You see, none of the tax reduction for corporate/banking America will find its way to the consumers and the middle class. It’s all going to the stockholders. Stockholders don’t spend money that creates jobs. They hoard money so that their perceived wealth increases. That’s why wealth inequality has increased all through the “Great Recession” while the rest of the world lost $40 trillion in a few months.
So, the Republicans are getting their way for now. The oligarchs have succeeded fulfilling the requests of Lewis Powell for corporate/banking America to purchase the influence of government to do their whims. Now, as we saw in 1929, when the Republicans/fascists have their way with government and the economy, they screw it up. More simply put, the rich simply cannot contain themselves and will hoard as much money as they can, thus removing that money from circulation and from the hands of the consumers that make them rich. Dumb, isn’t it? But that’s what greed does.
Well, we’re going to have to clean up after this squalor of greed. 2018 can’t come soon enough. It’s just that cleaning up the mess the Republicans have left and sweeping the garbage out of our hallowed chambers of government is going to be a lot like cleaning out my cat’s litter box without a scoop. The process of cleaning out the Republicans will be dirty, foul and ugly. We’ll all be taking long, hot showers after it’s done. But do it we must.
11/10/2017 – Denver, Co.
THE WOMEN WILL LEAD US TO VICTORY!
A Larger Axe Handle
Do you remember that old saw about the farmer plowing his field until his mule balked at pulling the plow? First, the farmer used his hand to smack the mule to get it to move. Then he used a switch. He then walked back to the barn and brought back two axe handles. He smacked the mule with the smaller one, but the mule still refused to move. Finally, he hit the mule between the ears with the larger axe handle and the mule got back to pulling the plow. Tuesday’s election showed the country that Donald Trump is the larger axe handle.
The electorates in Virginia, New Jersey, Montana and Washington awakened to the fact that Republicans in general, and Donald Trump in particular, were in for big trouble, as far as holding office was concerned. But the most interesting part of the election results was the number of women and so-called minorities that won their elections. In previously “safe” seats for Republicans, Democratic women, minorities and ordinary white guys trounced the incumbents. Of the sixteen legislative seats up for grabs in Virginia, twelve of them were won by Democratic women, women of all colors and several different ethnicities. For those of us who have participated and observed the evolution of civil rights, this outcome was a very big deal.
My favorite outcome was the win in New Jersey by Ashley Bennet, an African-American, first-time office seeker, for the Atlantic County Board seat. She beat the white, male, Republican incumbent, John Carman, who infamously Facebooked himself by declaring that the women’s movement would end in time for them to return home to cook dinner. Rachel Maddow had the perfect snap back: “Now, John Carman will have to learn to cook for himself.” Perfect. I think it’s fair to say that the women are coming to the political table with the intent of winning. It’s deeper than that, but the numbers show a huge increase in women candidates at all levels of public office in upcoming elections.
In William Brinkley’s fascinating doomsday thriller, The Last Ship, the women of the ill-fated destroyer’s crew end up being the major players in determining the survival of everyone else. Throughout history, we have seen women come to the rescue of men to save their families, their communities and their countries. That’s not to say that men haven’t done that, too, but sometimes there is collective testosterone poisoning among men and they revert to primitive behaviors that are counterproductive to life on Earth…like world war.
In 411 BCE, Aristophanes wrote the comedy Lysistrata. In it, the women conspired to withhold the very thing that the men fighting the Peloponnesian War desired most, sex. By crossing their legs, they caused the men to stop fighting and come home for good, thus ending the war. Brilliant! The power of women was known way back then. Their power is finally asserting itself in our political arena today in ways that may keep the primitive behavior of the men in our governments at bay, so that we can solve the problems that afflict our communities and our nation.
Clearly, the vulgar, outrageous bullying of Trump has set a bad example for white male behavior across the world. He not only has embarrassed us around the world as a classless, graceless fool who disrespects everyone except himself; the ultimate male egoist, he has enabled other white males to let their inner caveman emerge in public. Take Roy Moore…please…. He has been accused by three women who say that he acted “inappropriately” with them when they were not of legal age. He allegedly plied them with alcohol, invited them into his home, and touched them in most intimate ways. These actions, of course, were illegal then as they are today in Alabama. Yes, even in Alabama. This has outraged everyone, even Republican Senators, but Roy’s pals back home have leapt to his defense. They have invoked the only book they’ve ever read, the Bible, to say that even Mary was underage when she and Joseph gave birth to Jesus. You can’t make this up.
O.K. The axe handle has been swung and the momentum of the task to save our nation from fools is underway. The key observation is that the winners last week were a total cross-section of our nation. There were a variety of ethnicities elected, including a Liberian immigrant who was elected mayor of Montana’s capital city, Helena. Wow! Montana! Add to that, gay men and women were elected as well as a transgender person or two in the states holding elections. Washington became the last of the three west coast states to have Democrats in charge of all legislative bodies and the governor’s office.
But soft… This isn’t the final victory for progressives. It is only the FIRST of many victories needed to return sanity, grace and forward thinking to our governments at ALL levels. Democrats often make the mistake of concentrating on the Presidential and Congressional levels, but not so much in the state and community levels. THAT has to change. It is changing. Thousands of new candidates are emerging across the country to challenge the gerrymandered districts that have long favored Republicans. Perhaps the best part of that phenomenon is that most of these new candidates are women of all races and ethnicities.
Donald Trump, the bigger axe handle, has gotten the attention of those who have been disgraced, intimidated and insulted by his words and actions. Maybe that is exactly what was needed to get people off their couches and into the political arena for the sake of their families, their communities and their nation. Now, the next step is to get the 30% who are not registered to vote, registered. Then, we have to drag the 47% who stayed home in 2016 to the polls in 2018 and every election before and after that. We have just seen, as President Obama has mentioned, what can happen when we vote. When we vote we fulfill the dream of our founders: We become a country that elects people to represent who we are, not some money machine’s or corporation’s lackey married to lobbyists. Last Tuesday’s election showed, once again, the inherent wisdom of our founders. But it also showed that the people are tired of the chest-pounding absurdity of Donald Trump and his minions.
We are on our way to recovering from our second biggest mistake, the election of Trump and right-wing extremists. The biggest mistake was including slavery in our original Constitution. The big axe handle that allowed us to snap out of that error, was the Civil War. We don’t have to do that again if cooler heads prevail, the cooler heads that belong to our women. Our women will lead the way this time. We men better pay attention, because we are so often our own worst enemies.
10/25/2017 – Denver, Co.
Making America a Fair Place to Live and Work
by Vern Turner
For almost all of our history we’ve seen a kind of economic combat between the wealthier classes and the people who work every day to make them rich. Okay. That’s the way our brand of capitalism works. But, the corporations would have you believe that THEY are the things that drive our economy. That just isn’t the case. It is the consumer of products that drives the economy. You know, people like you and me… (more)
10/13/2017 – Denver, Co.
It’s Hard to Admit You Are Wrong
By Vern Turner
All of us have an ego, the Freudian “invention” that drives our own self image. Some of us let that sense of self drive us to an overly complex self-image, or a self-image that is distorted by the elements whirring around in our own minds. Sometimes, that egoism can lead us into un-healthy situations where we deny ever doing anything wrong, or prop ourselves up as the most important person in the world, or, as with most of us, merely the feeling that we are more wonderful than we really are. At some level, this inherent egoism crosses a line into pathology, a line that causes others harm as well as harm to the individual in question.
Most of us have a braking mechanism on our egos and when it gets too far away from acceptable norms, somebody or something comes along and smacks us around until we realize we’ve exceeded our boundaries. But what if there were none of these braking systems? Instead, what if our egos were constantly enabled and catered to by outsiders…for our entire lives? We have to look no further than our current president to see the outcome of someone’s ego that was allowed to cross over into the realm of pathology over a very long time. Including this latest cruel “executive” order to cut health care benefits and upset the already unstable health care insurance market for the sake of undercutting and sabotaging the Affordable Care Act – a law, president Donald Trump has removed all doubt that his long-time enabled ego has not crossed into and flourished in the realm of pathology.
O.K. So much for the obvious. We know that Trump’s mental state will never allow him to admit any mistakes. That would blow his whole self-serving imagery apart. His minions know that and thus try to keep him in line such that he won’t blow up the country or the world on an ego-driven whim. Then, there are the slowly shrinking number of Trump supporters who are fine with all of his whims, ridiculous statements and lies. Most of the sixty-two million voters who picked him to be president are not recognizing the obvious error they have made with their vote. Why not? Isn’t threatening the world with nuclear holocaust enough? How about the revolving door of executive branch employees; remember when he said he’d bring in the best people? Or what about all those State Department positions not filled, and no nominees are even in the works? Saving money? Really? We don’t even have an ambassador for South Korea, our ally in the crosshairs of North Korea’s maniac leader. Not enough? How about the obvious prejudice exhibited against helping Puerto Rico recover from their worst disaster ever, or at least since we invaded it in 1898? The false outrage about football players quietly protesting the unequal treatment of black people by law enforcement created another false argument about disrespecting the flag, the anthem and our troops among the Trump-ites. Even the troops are agreeing that they fight for the right to protest. Not our ego-driven president… He wants to fire those damned, disrespectful football players, especially the ones he called sons of bitches. How’s that for grace, class and real leadership? Ego.
So many of the people who supported and still support this president have a real conundrum. The ones paying attention to the behaviors mentioned above – and others of equal absurdity – are caught in the vice of not wanting to give up their reasons for why they voted for Trump in the first place, vs. seeing who they voted for behave like a petulant child while systematically destroying so much good, hard work from previous administrations, especially the last one. Ah. That last administration was that of Barack Obama, our first non-white President and one of the most respected and liked Presidents in our history.
But Barack Obama made the terrible mistake of teasing (Trump would say “humiliating”) Donald Trump at the large press banquet a few years ago. Trump’s ego is so massive and his skin so thin, that he went forth with the much ridiculed “birther” movement to claim Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States – despite all the evidence. Then, when the stars all aligned and threw up on themselves allowing Donald Trump to be president, the ego-voice went to work undoing everything Obama. Be assured, he will do that until his last moment in office. Barack Obama is Trump’s Nemesis in the true, literal sense. That’s the vindictive part of the egoist’s pathology; it’s the only way to overcome the “wounds” the poor thing has suffered. As we’ve seen, Trump’s vindictiveness continues unabated against anyone, Senators, mayors, Democrats, Republicans…virtually anyone and everyone who disagrees or pushes back against this ego-driven bully.
But there is more for the Trump-ites to consider, especially the good, rational supporters who thought they were getting the change they wanted. First, there is the racial thing. The Trump voter was typically white, male and middle to upper class. They were also located in the states that tend to be Republican or in parts of “blue” states that are “conservative”. What is unfortunately common to these regions and the demographic mentioned is the race card. The hatred for anything not white showed through during the campaign and after the election, because Donald Trump enabled racial divisiveness and hatred. Irrespective of all the e-mail and Russian hacking issues, the Republican Party brilliantly framed the campaign as Hillary Clinton = four more years of Barack Obama. Bingo! Even so, Clinton won the popular vote by almost three million votes. She received more votes than any single candidate ever and that was with 47% of the electorate staying home. The flawed Electoral College gave us our second minority President in the last three elections; George Bush’s record of illegal wars and economic disasters have been thoroughly examined. How, then, will the good people who voted for Trump reconcile the current and looming disaster of this administration?
Will they finally see that their personal prejudices are not good for the nation as a whole and vote for the best candidate for every level of government that works for the betterment of our country and not selfish bigotry? How will the upcoming elections save the country and our local communities from being dragged back to the 19th century where we snubbed those in need and didn’t invest in our people? How will these folks come to realize that patriotism is both personal and national and vote appropriately to it? It’s hard to admit mistakes, but those who do, exhibit superior character of being than those who don’t and continue to wallow in their self-centered, egoistic selves to the detriment of us all. The election of Donald Trump is the best/worst example of how self-centered egoism can destroy a democracy.
9/23/2017 – Denver, Co.
My house is a very, very fine house with two cats in the yard (actually, we have three)… We designed and built our house, my spouse and I (actually, we had contractors build the house), on a rise in the Texas Hill Country not quite an hour’s drive from Austin. We watched it go up, stud-by-stud, block-by-block, fixture-by-fixture, cabinet-by-cabinet. We saw the difference between real craftsmen and professional tradesmen, and those who were just fulfilling a contract to get paid.
Many of the men (there were no women on the job site) spoke no English. Some of the craftsmen – like the man who did our interior shelving, baseboards and door frames – were of special talent and their work was as good as could be seen anywhere. These men built us our house, but my spouse and I had to make it a home. We each did our part in projects and plans such that we could stand back, in a few months, and say that it was “ours”.
We no longer own or reside in that house. We just sold it to a niece and her husband. It is now their house. It will be different from the first day, because they have two children. We had no children, so getting grass burrs and cactus spines was our exclusive, individual experience. We moved to Colorado. Perhaps the best years of our marriage were spent in Colorado, before we moved to Texas to be nearer my spouse’s parents in their last, best years. So, returning to Colorado, was somewhat like coming back home.
I looked out the window of the house we are temporarily living in and watched a light rain wash the rest of the Texas dust off our vehicles, a sort of cleansing, I guess. On the day before we left our house to move here, I walked down our driveway for the last time. A fresh breeze blew across me and I turned to look back at my house. That breeze persisted and made the pecan trees that I planted and the wild mesquite sigh as if they were saying a fond farewell. I took a couple pictures just to preserve that moment as the tears streamed down my old cheeks. “Good-bye, house. We built you and you were there for us every day. You were my dream house; I got a chance to actually craft a dwelling of my own and make it into a home that gave me great pride and comfort. Thank you.”
My wife and I have both moved around the country during our adult lives, living in several states between us and visiting almost all the rest. With the passing of my spouse’s father, we no longer felt bound to stay in Texas where several personal issues, weather, our aging and the general local attitudes drove us to make the decision to “come back home”. For those of you who regularly read my columns and articles, you know that Texas politics are a miasma of maddening, backward decisions by governors and legislatures that just don’t seem to care about the people of the state, but rather more toward special interests and those they think elect them. These politicians – at all levels of government – are, of course, Republicans.
As I drove up the Raton Pass, straddling New Mexico and Colorado, the close-in hills gave way to the stunning twin granite sentinels of the Spanish Peaks. This is how a northbound traveler is introduced to Colorado and it quickened my pulse again, as this scene had so many times before. Indeed, it was as if the Rockie Mountains were saying “Welcome home”. The rest of the way to our destination in the mountains just west of Denver was a reminder of roads traveled before and new ones that I missed when I lived here before. I thought this sort of travel route symbolized what I wanted from this second chance at living in magnificent Colorado.
I promised my progressive friends in Austin that I would remain active in the “movement” to return real democracy to our governments and eliminate the greed of bribery money in our politics…you know, just as Teddy Roosevelt said he would. We’re all still fighting that good fight. My new residence is reputed to have many like-thinking people on board, so I will join them and offer my ideas and efforts to getting straight-thinking Coloradans elected to office where they are best suited to do what is necessary to rebuild our crumbling nation.
I don’t think it’s the kind of crumbling that the misinformed egoist, Donald Trump sees, but rather a systematic dismantling of the things that did, in fact, make us great. To me, that begins with public education and the decades-long attack on that institution by Republicans. The dumbing-down of our schools and the disrespect and disregard for our teachers by this right-wing assault on our schools is anathema to what great nations do to retain their greatness. I know I will find kindred spirits here for that effort. In Texas, there are those who feel the same too, but they are overwhelmed at the ballot box due to lock-step Republican voting and the civic sloth of those who are hurt the most by Republican policies. If Texas is ever able to change its political posture, it will be because those who don’t vote will have finally realized what their lack of involvement really meant.
Perhaps a symbolic anecdote to the political thinking in Texas occurred this past summer when the vaunted Boy’s State convention produced, as their single work for the year, a document that called for the re-writing of the state constitution that allowed Texas to secede from the United States. That confounding act by our “best and brightest” young people spoke volumes for the backwardness of the politics that are allowed to sow distrust in democracy in the Lone Star state.
I am hoping to find other avenues of action and thought in Colorado that will influence my writing, my attitude, my ideas and my hopes for the future. After all, reality has to begin with a dream. This is the new house I want to help build in Colorado. If I work at it and keep a clear head, it will become a home in more ways than one. Perhaps we should all try making more of our homes instead of just calling them houses.
7/25/2017 – Marble Falls, TX
by Vern Turner
Let’s begin with some positive solutions to existing and future national problems and issues. We can examine the negative stuff later, not the least of which is the image and appearances projected to the world by the unfortunate accident that produced Donald Trump’s presidency. There is a pattern associated with societies that failed after centuries of great success. But the United States is not yet a failed state or society. Let’s see what we can do to reset our priorities to retain our civilization and its accomplishments. –more–
WHEN WILL WE VOTE IN REAL GOVERNMENT?
Presuming to Govern
7/7/2017 – Marble Falls, TX
by Vern Turner
Now that the Republicans have had their faces pushed into the reality show known as “We Work for the People”, it’s almost amusing to watch them wandering in the wilderness of their own failed ideology. Remember when Paul Ryan said something like making the transition from the opposition party to the governing party was hard and that it would take some time? When thinking people stopped rolling on the floor laughing, we were all left with the wonderment of: “Wasn’t that why we put them in office in the first place?” -more-
6/28/2017 – Marble Falls, TX
by Vern Turner
Sadly, though, this is not a new phenomenon. Below is the scorecard for the latest list of Presidents, both Democrat and Republican.
When comparing criminal indictments of those serving in the executive branch of presidential administrations, it’s patently lopsided as to be obvious which party is more embedded with corruption, crimes and scandal. Yet, the whine and memes from the right-wing media and Republican talking heads are all about how supposedly “corrupt” the Democrats are. So, why don’t we break the numbers down by president?
Obama (D) – 8 yrs in office. Zero criminal indictments, zero
convictions and zero prison sentences. So the next time somebody
describes the Obama administration as “scandal free” they aren’t
speaking wishfully, they’re simply telling the truth.
Bush, George W. (R) – 8 yrs in office. 16 criminal indictments. 16
convictions. 9 prison sentences.
Clinton (D) – 8 yrs in office. 2 criminal indictments. One conviction.
One prison sentence. That’s right, nearly 8 yrs of investigations, tens
of millions of dollars spent and 30 yrs of claiming that the Clinton administration was the most corrupt ever, yet there was exactly one person convicted of a crime.
Bush, George H. W. (R) – 4 yrs in office. One indictment. One conviction. One prison sentence. Oh, and don’t forget that he pardoned president Reagan and his fellow coconspirators from any crimes associated with the Iran-Contra scandal. The Reagan league record of indictments would have been even higher.
Reagan (R) – 8 yrs in office. 26 criminal indictments. 16 convictions.
8 prison sentences.
Carter (D) – 4 yrs in office. One indictment. Zero convictions and zero prison sentences.
Ford (R) – 4 yrs in office. One indictment and one conviction. One prison sentence. And who can forget his dramatic pardoning of Richard Nixon just after the words “so help me God” dripped from his lips. See, a sitting president can’t be indicted, but a private citizen can for crimes committed as president. Ford gave Nixon the ultimate ticket to ride in our country.
Nixon (R) – 6 yrs in office. 76 criminal indictments. 55 convictions.
15 prison sentences.
Johnson (D) – 5 yrs in office. Zero indictments. Zero convictions.
Zero prison sentences.
So, let’s see where that leaves us. In the last 53 years, Democrats have been in the Oval Office for 25 of those years, while Republicans
held it for 28. In their 25 yrs in office Democrats had a total of three executive branch officials indicted with one conviction and one
prison sentence. That’s one conviction in two and a half decades of Democrat leadership.
In the 28 yrs that Republicans have held office over the last 53 yrs., there have been a total of 20 criminal indictments of executive branch officials, 89 criminal convictions and 34 prison sentences handed down. That’s more prison sentences than years in office since 1968 for Republicans. If you want
to count articles of impeachment as indictments (they aren’t really, but we can count them as an action), both sides get one more. However,
Clinton wasn’t found guilty while Nixon resigned and was pardoned by Ford (and a pardon carries with it a legal admission of guilt on the
part of the pardoned). So those only serve to make Republicans look even worse.
Let’s just review the numbers again, shall we? 120 indictments for Republicans. 89 convictions, and 34 prison sentences.
Those aren’t “feelings” or “alternate facts.” Those are simply the the real numbers. Republicans are, and have been for my entire
lifetime, the most criminally corrupt party to hold the office of the presidency. Of course, we forget the abject corruption of the Harding administration, so it’s been a pretty egregious lot, these administrations. One might even go so far as to suggest that the only Republican administrations that were even a little bit honest were Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. The latter was killed by a racist bigot and the latter was so pilloried by his Republican peers that he had to form his own political party.
The Republican brand is currently being sullied and tarnished by its idiotic pursuit of a health care law that overrides the Affordable Care Act. Why, even many conservatives are starting to think straight about single-payer systems instead of this convoluted exercise in corruption now being presented by the Senate. This is what happens when you babble mindlessly about repealing a law that doesn’t make your friends rich, and prevents them from purchasing even more influence in the government. For seven years, the Republicans have been promising to “repeal and replace Obamacare”. So, one has to ask, where is the result of all your “hard” work? Clearly, they have nothing that makes any sense to anyone but those getting rich off of the sick and the injured. A 22% approval rating for the current bill suggests that it is actually written on a perforated roll.
I’m looking forward to outcomes of all the legal machinations related to the Trump time of corruption, cronyism and utter stupidity. The 62 million people who voted for the President of Lies must be feeling even a little ashamed by now. If not, they will soon enough.
WILL WE BECOME EXTINCT?
An Extinction Event
6/17/2017 – Marble Falls, TX
by Vern Turner
An extinction event occurs when several factors combine to alter the environment in which an organism can survive. It prevents the organism, or organisms, from reproducing by eliminating what it needs to flourish and reproduce enough viable offspring to overcome some or all of the factors that threaten the organisms existence. Sometimes the “event” can take centuries, and sometimes it is triggered by a catastrophic event. In either case, the extinction is permanent; the gene pool no longer exists.
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
What Will it Take, People?
5/28/2017 – Marble Falls, TX
The volume and intensity of news regarding the Trump administration is becoming more convoluted than a John LeCarre’ spy novel. It seems that the corruption, lies, deceit, sedition, incompetence and embarrassing episodes have no limits with this latter-day Romanov impersonation. With each breaking story line, that wonderfully salient line from All the President’s Men keeps cropping up: “Follow the money.” Yes. The money. It’s always been about money for Trump and the Trump-ites, hasn’t it?
5/13/2017 – Marble Falls, TX
On 5 April I left for three and a half weeks of fabulous travel to a most remarkable, clean and friendly country, New Zealand. Why, they’re so backward, they actually don’t care what your religion or ethnicity is. They are so conservative, they actually invest in their environment, their children’s education and the health of their citizens. Of course, they have single-payer, universal health care for everyone, even visitors should they be in need. The national mood is to preserve what uniqueness is left from the scourge of the earliest Europeans upon this remarkable land. As a biologist, I was enraptured by their biology and what they’re doing to preserve it, expand it and nurture it. Good on ’em!
“I alone can fix it.”
4/5/2017 – Marble Falls, TX
The full statement reads: Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it.” Who said this? None other than Donald J. Trump, the man who knows the system. This level of arrogance hasn’t been achieved since the Third Reich declared the Aryan race superior to all others. We all remember how well that turned out. Furthermore, this statement, on its face, shows us all that he hasn’t the first clue about the system…or the players in it. To wit: The failed Trumpcare fiasco.
THE ROOTS OF OUR GREATNESS
The Events of our Greatness
2/23/2017 – Marble Falls, TX
The United States has just inaugurated its 45th President. Donald Trump’s campaign line was Make America Great Again. Many of us who watch such key indicators as job growth and the stock market shook our heads and wondered what he was talking about. The key indicators were doing very well across the board and had been trending upward since the election and re-election of Barack Obama. So, when did we become not great?
When World War II ended, our economic and manufacturing powers were the Colossus astride the rest of the world. We were indeed the arsenal of democracy. We supplied every allied country with materiel, food, medicine and machines in overwhelming abundance; the allies basically overwhelmed the German Wehrmacht and the Japanese Imperial military. The only other country that came close to growing their industries to such an extent was the Soviet Union. Of course, they had to also move their entire industrial base 1,500 miles east, over the Ural mountains, in order to escape the German juggernaut. These were the kind of community and national efforts and vigor of which humans were capable, we discovered.
Nobody had any idea how many airplanes, tanks, ships and guns we could produce. But, the relatively new science of industrial engineering streamlined every step of every piece of manufacturing such that production soared in the triple-digit percent range from 1939 (when we first realized Europe needed some serious help) until the end of the war. The numbers were, and still are, stupefying in their scope. Keep in mind, that in the mid-1940s, the population of the United States hadn’t yet reached 150 million. At the peak of the war, we had perhaps twenty-five million men and women in uniform, most of them men, and most of them skilled in one form of manufacturing or another.
As with most major wars throughout history, the women of the United States and the Soviet Union stepped up to fill in for the men gone to war. The women of both countries stepped in and stepped up in the most dramatic way ever. With their husbands, sons and boyfriends off to war, they taught themselves the skills necessary to build the tools of war that brought their men back home to them. Sadly, of course, not all of them did come home, but the women who worked in the defense plants who did lose someone to the war, worked just as hard to help bring home their neighbor’s husband, son or boyfriend. It doesn’t get much more vigorous than that.
Still, with all the activities creating the second industrial revolution, the capitalists did what they have always done. They worked very hard to maximum profits at all costs. The infamous cost-plus government contract was used and abused to generate enormous profits for corporate America. Sure, most factory workers could – and did – get as much overtime pay as they wanted. But the problems arose when deliveries and product quality failed to meet demands by our troops and our military complexes. Enter Senator Harry S. Truman and his committee to sort this out.
Truman’s investigations caused great furor and disgust among the American public. They discovered that the roots of greed had infested those very companies that were charged with building the material for our very national survival in this time of desperate war. The capitalists didn’t realize that victory, despite the output from our factories, was a near thing. The tipping points that ensured defeat for the Axis and the Japanese came very late in the war. More people were killed in 1945, the last year of the war than in any other year since it began with Japan’s invasion of Manchuria (mineral resources) in 1934. Harry Truman’s committee placed fines and sanctions on those companies who were trying to gouge the government and deliver second-rate equipment to our troops.
It’s a long way from Harry Truman to Donald Trump in every way you can imagine. But one thing persists. The capitalists will do and say anything to maximize profits at the expense of everything else. They wanted to turn their backs on the American worker for decades and seek out the absolute cheapest labor source. Fortunately, we had legislators and politicians who made laws resisting the outsourcing of jobs, equipment and even entire factories. Today, we do not have those types of elected officials to protect our jobs from the greed that is inherent in our capitalistic system. They have all been co-opted by the oligarchs’ money and influence.
The connection here is that when a nation builds stuff, it becomes and remains strong. It’s vigor is evident. It’s people are leading high-quality lives, because the make enough money to share in the largesse they produce. Throughout history, every time a nation with high degrees of economic and social vigor stop doing what they did, their vigor flags and their economies slump or end. Irresponsible trade deals that replace manufacturing as the nation’s major economic devices, creates a slackening of money in their systems, and lives become poorer; vigor is lost. It is lost by the individual and, in sum, by the nation. This slump occurs for all except the very few oligarchs and plutocrats running the system. Their wealth increases exponentially, while that of the working classes barely increases at all, and in most cases, declines.
My lifetime spans from the beginning of the middle class explosion (1942) until today, when that middle class in the United States now struggles to survive. As I aged, I began looking at our national history more closely, especially as retirement loomed and I had more time on my hands. I’m a life-long learner, you see. I deviated from the smugness of being sage-like. Instead I chose to be a child again, but a child who would use experience and acquired wisdom to appreciate new things, new stories and new truths. Learning became my fountain of youth and my curiosity its pump.
Our current political environment includes a character who claims we (he) must make America great again. Sure. Sounds wonderful. We do. We’re not bad, it’s just that we’ve lost some luster to our greatness, the greatness that the strongest middle class in history created and maintained until…
Our slide from real, world-dominating greatness began with the infamous 1971 Lewis Powell clarion call to corporate/banking America to use their financial power to directly influence government such that it benefitted corporate/banking profits. It included what we’ve come to know as Supply-side Economics and its stepchildren developed by economic theorists, Friederick Hayak, Milton Friedman and Grover Norquist. These theories required that the middle class be eliminated for the purpose of maximizing profits. Labor unions and environmental controls were to be minimized or eliminated. Public funding of social services like education and health care were to be privatized. The list is longer, but you get the idea. The crux of this movement included lobbying. Lobbying became, and is still, a very strong and well-heeled institution within our government at all levels. Big corporate money provides the grease that moves the government wheels to the benefit of its benefactors, not the voters. Jane Mayer’s recent book, Dark Money, details how this was and is done. Surprisingly, only a few, extremely wealthy ideologues are behind this “industry” as well as that one sponsoring the changes in school curriculums at every level to promote their views, shamelessly avoiding objectivity at every turn. The era of backward economics continues today… at our peril.
The problem and the solutions were presented to us by the Bernie Sanders campaign. He was labeled by the conservatives, of course, as a communist or a socialist presuming that the latter was just as evil. But is it? All the nations that practice democratic socialism, as Sanders pointed out, are kicking our butts in all the social and economic areas that matter. Some, but not all of these are: education, health care, transportation, energy efficiency and infrastructure innovation. Guess from whom they learned all this. From us, the U.S. Why did we stop doing these things? These are the things that made us great. We invested in our people instead of wars…after we fought the last real one. We still practice some of these democratically socialistic things as with our military and education systems. We now spend almost 60% of our Federal budget on the military. The rest of the world spends 60% of their budgets on their people. While our infrastructure crumbles, theirs improves.
Franklin Roosevelt proved John Maynard Keynes’ economic plan during the 1930s by investing government tax money in people and jobs that built our infrastructure, something we don’t seem able to want to do any longer. Eisenhower continued that idea by building our interstate highway system. Notice that this idea straddles both political parties. By the way, the spending debt from the war was recovered by the end of Eisenhower’s term due to the high tax rates assigned to the rich.
Making America great again is not a slogan, it’s a function of political and social will. It’s not about denigrating immigrants, since most of you reading this are products of immigrant ancestors. It’s about embracing those newcomers to tap their energy, ideas and motivation to be great, now that they have the opportunity. Creating jobs in the infrastructure and renewable energy areas are industries that are just waiting with baited breath to feel the lifeblood of investment turn them into our next great accomplishments. Our children deserve a significantly better education via investing in our great teachers and eliminating the waste of standardized testing. It’s not about teachers’ unions, it’s about the children and, thus, our future.
It is we the people who decide what greatness is, not some reality show clown who cannot do more than promote hate and fear. We must vote as if our country depends on it, because it does.
Betrayal! The Ugliness of Trump
2/14/2017 – Marble Falls, TX
Upon reviewing my previous essays on betrayals within our nation’s politics and government, I saw that certain prophecies have unfortunately come true, and some things not imagined have come to pass that are even worse. There is a sense of ugliness coming from this newly ordained administration and Congress that smacks of the Lincoln era during and after the Civil War. Worse yet, is the wanton slide to outright fascism and despotic rhetoric coming from Trump and his mouthpieces, aka his staff.
Kellyanne Conway is very talented. Who else could lie straight into the camera and be arrogantly un-flapped when called out for the blatancy of her infamous “alternative facts” gaffe? Amazing. Chuck Todd probably had visions of a Pulitzer Prize dancing across his eyes with that event. Conway is, of course, the voice of Trump. She is the biological equivalent of Twitterville in the residence. If anyone can spin straw into gold, it’s Kellyanne Conway. No wonder TV pundits are giving her so much airtime. They get to be the laugh-line straight man (or woman) for the bizarre. Sean Spicer just gets to make lies sound like the truth and badger those damned mainstream media for being so dishonest and biased against his boss. Have you noticed that he never calls on the front row reporters at his press conferences? His first questions always seem to go to Murdoch-owned outlets or Breitbart. Why is that? Oh, those uncomfortable questions that require a factually correct answer…
Today, Valentines Day, 2017, we woke up to learn that the White House career of the mysterious and dark Michael Flynn came crashing down due to his shenanigans with the Russians BEFORE Trump was inaugurated. It was the cover-up that did him in…a la Watergate. Is there more coming from this scandal? I’ll bet there is. I’ll bet the blackmail-by-Russia thread finds its way all the way up to the residence. Bullying the media won’t get rid of this one. We’ll see how long it takes for some courage to emerge from our Congress to rid the country and the White House of this special kind of ugly. The first time I saw Flynn was on the Bill Maher show (of all places), and his dark view of the world scared the sand out of my eyes then. When Trump named him to be the head of NSA, the trepidation increased. Frankly, it’s good that he’s gone. He had a tough time with the U.S. Army for tipping his hand with classified information to foreigners then also.
Meanwhile, there is hope from a more engaged populace. Since I last addressed this issue, hundreds of daily demonstrations involving millions of people across the country and the world have illuminated the room of state and sent the roaches scurrying for cover. Almost every Congress critter is discovering that he or she actually represents real people instead of just campaign donors.
“Who are these rabble crowding my office and doorstep? Oh. You’re them. Well, what do you want?” The subsequent torrent of requests and demands is blowing these people off the stages and town hall daises and has them running back to the safety of their donor hotlines. The fallout from these behaviors will reflect how these representatives addressed the issues from their constituents and how well – or poorly – they engaged them. Elections are in less than two years. Let’s see if the people have the staying power to cement their outrage at the voting booth.
Take Jason Chaffetz – please. This is the guy (R-Utah) who, with twinkling eyes, couldn’t wait for the next Comey-generated e-mail from Clinton’s server so he could get more face time hunting the witch he so wanted to destroy. Now that he has a REAL scandal on his hands, he has suddenly become not interested. He is floating along while the Russian hacking and influence peddling at the White House keeps nipping at all our heels. He takes great umbrage with Kellyanne Conway’s gaffe about buying Ivanka’s “stuff”, and threatens a thorough investigation. Wow. Russian influence in our elections vs. Kellyanne’s big mouth…. What a choice. Time allotment must be a real challenge for this guy as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform committee, because he has opened exactly zero probes into anything involved with this Russian scandal or any of the conflicts of interests among the Trump cabinet or Trump himself. Why would he be avoiding these juicy case opportunities when he spent tons of political capital (and our tax dollars) proving to the world that there was NO THERE, THERE with the Clinton witch hunt.
Now, Chaffetz is saying that the people embarrassing him to tears at his one-and-only town hall meeting were paid imports sent in to make him look foolish. It’s his performance in Congress that is making him look foolish, partisan beyond the pale and shallow in his pursuits of the truth. But Chaffetz is a Republican, and Republicans tend to not like the shoe being on the other foot…or having to answer to their constituents about how they have betrayed those constituents for so many years.
Continuing the footwear (waiting for the shoe to drop) analogy: We wait for the first policy action by Betsy DeVos. She barely was confirmed by the Senate after two Republican Senators with bipartisan minds rejected her along with all the Democrats. What will be her first attack on public schools for the sake of going to her pet project: vouchers and privatization?
Jeff Sessions, the racist without remorse, is now our new Attorney General. The little side show performed by Mitch McConnell during Sessions’ confirmation hearing and debate was disgusting in its sexist tone and its partisan idiocy. Senator Elizabeth Warren was muted while reading Coretta Scott King’s letter summarizing Sessions’ actions in Alabama that were fundamentally racist. McConnell threw up all over himself by telling the world that it was improper for Warren to be impugning Senator Sessions with the truth. This begs the question, of course, that if the truth impugns the candidate for AG, maybe he shouldn’t be the AG? No such intellectual leaps from McConnell. He’s too busy betraying the decorum of the Senate and the trust of his constituents – who surrounded his office and home in Kentucky demanding he govern instead of being just another governmental jerk. BTW, other Democratic Senators – all male – proceeded to read King’s letter for the record without a peep from the miserable McConnell. Anyone not realizing that this disgrace from McConnell was purely a political ploy to try to eliminated Elizabeth Warren as a viable Presidential candidate hasn’t been paying attention to the slimy highway of McConnell’s career.
Besides the bizarre and mind-warping behaviors of our new president, there are the “meetings” with foreign leaders, the uncomfortable handshakes and the humorless rantings about so-called judges, court rulings and xenophobic executive orders. This president will sign anything Steve Bannon puts in front of him including a remake of the president’s inner-most security circle, the NSC, that included himself (Bannon) instead of the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. Maybe it’s just me, but this act alone is one a despotic dictator would make. Add to that the ravings of Stephen Miller saying that the president’s power is absolute and unquestionable, and you have an instant replay of a government that had Joseph Goebbels as its chief propagandist to the leader.
Bannon, Miller and Trump are all betraying democracy for their fascist and despotic views of governance. Between these guys and the Republicans in Congress confirming the most incompetent, backward-thinking, racist and ideological cabinet in our history, we have a formula for calamity, if not something more dramatic. This massive betrayal of all the things that governed our nation for 234 years is not just change, or an alternate universe, it is an outright coup of liberty, freedom, free elections and human rights. Waiting for all these shoes to drop should keep us all awake at night.
Dave Gold just published a fine article on Politico discussing how Democrats need to change their methodology and message in order to win elections. He suggested, basically, that Democrats move away from data-driven campaigns and start interacting with people in a more personal and emotional way. Harry Truman did that in 1948 with his whistle-stop tour of the nation. He used the basic rhetoric of the day, but, surprisingly, the message then was not much different than it is today. We all STILL live with the values of FDR’s Second Bill of Rights speech from 1944. In that speech he set forth those things that should never be betrayed by anybody or any political party. Those things are what make us strong and secure in our democratic republic. The betrayals of today in the Trump camp and the Republican-dominated Congress and statehouses across the country all attack those six ideals and values. Their alternative view favors the rich and casts the working man and middle classes to the side of the pot-holed road.
This the ugliness of the Trump-era betrayal of us all.
I’m Running For President!
Hello! My Name is Vern Turner, and I’m Running for…
2/11/2017 – Marble Falls, TX
Remember when Jimmy Carter was just starting out running for President? This was his opening line of introduction that ended with “President”. Well, it occurred to me that his grassroots approach to meeting his future constituents would work for anyone trying to get elected to public office, even a Democrat. Now, we Democrats have been accused of practicing identity politics by currying the favor of certain ethnic and racial groups while taking much of the white, middle-class voters more or less for granted. This didn’t work out the way we’d hoped in either the presidential election or for the seats in Congress and state houses. The white people who felt ignored by Democrats voted for Republicans, and with the quirky-ness of the Electoral College, we ended up with perhaps the most dangerous, most mentally disturbed and foolish man ever to be put in the White House. As the first weeks of this new administration roll by, we see daily scandals of ethics violations, overt racist edicts, conflicts of interest and just plain incompetence at every turn; especially with the egregious cabinet choices made by this great mistake no in the oval office.
I had to re-read the biography of Harry Truman to re-discover how he overcame the prohibitive favorite, Thomas Dewey, to win the 1948 Presidential election. Truman got on the train. He whistle-stopped his way across the entire nation, each time giving his popular, folksie, home-spun speeches to anyone who would listen. He engaged the people and encouraged them to support the same values we progressives hold today. He won by a large margin in both the popular vote and in the Electoral vote. Dewey and the Republicans were as stunned as we were when this current president was put in office.
O.K., so what would a whistle-stop tour sound like today? Here I go visiting the people from everywhere expounding the values and changing the framework of the campaigns passed.
“Hello. My name is Vern Turner, and I’m running for President. How can my administration serve you best? What do you want to know about a better approach to government?”
VOTER: “Do you believe in big government like all liberals?”
“I’m not a liberal, I’m a Democrat, and I think government works best when it is funded by you the people and not by big business. I also think government should be just the right size to serve our basic needs as a people and a nation. By that I mean, that bloated bureaucracies should be overseen by independent groups with authority to trim and re-organize where waste or redundancy exists. For example, The Department of Homeland Security was born in 2002 and has grown to the third largest government agency in the country. It’s become a dust bin for anything and everything related to national security including the addition of the Secret Service, but many offices were never closed. Do we need it? Yes, but how did we do before 11 September 2001? Our intelligence community provided several warnings and hard data of the impending attack that were ignored. Would HS have done any better? We can’t create bureaucracies to cover for incompetent or corrupt governance.
“If you also mean to use ‘big government’ as code for welfare and humans services, I have to ask you what you think about supporting your fellow American who is not as skilled as you, is not as well-educated, not as healthy or not as well-employed? Should we just let them keep struggling, remain ignorant or just let them starve or die? Most major religions also advocate for the ‘poorest or least among us’. Data shows that the number one reason for inner-city crime is poverty. Poverty is a function of jobs, or lack of them. Hold that thought, because I will come back to it.
“One of the philosophical changes I promote is our investment in our people and the supporting infrastructure instead of an overburdening military. Don’t get me wrong. I want our military forces to be very well-equipped, trained and ready for anything. But, when our Marines have to go to pawn shops to buy spare parts for their rifles and half our aircraft are grounded for lack of spare parts, it tells me that our defense budget is not being spent correctly or supervised adequately. Yes, many of our aircraft are decades old, but, with proper upgrades and maintenance, nothing else in the world matches them in mission performance. One of the things many politicians ignore is follow-up costs on a program. They ignore it because it isn’t “sexy” enough for their campaign speeches. This strikes me as odd, because the number of jobs created for support programs like spare parts is almost as high as those needed to build the new equipment in the first place. Keep what we have operating effectively, and we can spend less money on new programs.
“Investment in our people should be our number one priority. What does that mean? It means fielding a healthy, skilled workforce every day. It means providing jobs and education for jobs that put people into gainful employment. Healthy, skilled and gainfully employed people become higher level consumers and taxpayers. High consumerism means more demand for more things and more sales tax revenue. That demand creates pressure for more jobs to meet those demands. In the short term it wouldn’t hurt to re-deploy something like the Marshall Plan for our decaying cities. This plan supplied the materiel and expertise to rebuild the cities we bombed into dust in World War II.
“The current president has wailed about our rust-belt cities having tombstones for factories. He’s right. But why is that the case? It happened because our capitalists chased the lowest wages for products demanded by our people. Coincidentally, corporate profits have never been higher, and executive salaries exploded. What happened to your share of that benefit of moving good-paying jobs away while providing nothing to replace them? Did your stock portfolio triple? Did you have to seek tax shelters? How much did you place in the carried interest category on your tax bill? Well, corporate America has entire departments committed to avoiding paying taxes. How are you doing with your tax-avoidance strategy? Can you afford your tax lawyer or CPA?
“My point, here, is to suggest that we put all that idle money to work rebuilding our cities, roads, bridges and all the rest. As with the old Civilian Conservation Corps, training programs for necessary skills will prepare thousands of idle or unskilled people for these infrastructure jobs as well as for the exploding renewable energy job market.
“Whether we like it or not, taxes are the cost of civilization. Those who shun taxes or lobby lawmakers for special tax breaks and dispensation not only cheat you and the nation, but they also add to the poorness of our nation while they reap the benefits and the luxury. Some form of this type of society has always existed, but in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, we had the lowest inequity between the classes in world history as a percent difference. But with the advent of supply-side economics during the Reagan years, the trend shifted and hasn’t stopped since. In fact, the top 1% of earners now own more wealth than the bottom 60% of all other citizens in the country. The top 400 individuals own more wealth than the bottom 35% of our working classes. These numbers reflect third-world data indicative of ruling juntas, dictators and despots. In our case, the despots are the Wall Street bankers and financiers who only hoard wealth, but almost never invest it in our people, the people like you.
“Why do our schools always have to struggle for funding? Why are our teachers STILL the lowest-paid profession in the country? Do you want your children to be taught by the lowest bidder? Why would anyone not want only the best for their children? Even as it is, the quality of our teachers is way above the level of their relative earnings in any other profession. When we realize that a teacher lasts, on the average, five years or less, we can clearly see that they cannot support their families on what we the citizens choose to pay them. Why are the vocational schools being abandoned or dropped from public education? Well, they cost a lot for equipment and maintenance, plus liability insurance rates go up. Add to that the drive by Republicans and their friends on Wall Street, to privatize schools and make them into profit centers. It won’t happen overnight, so how do you feel about having your tax dollars taken from the school you send your kids to and given to the private academy up on the hill? So, instead of investing in our children, and thus our future, we short-shrift their education and hope somebody else picks up the slack.”
VOTER: “Where do you stand on abortion?”
“I’m against abortion. But I’m also pro-life, pro-woman and pro-choice. I know the other guys have framed those words to mean something they are not. By being pro-choice, I mean that every woman has the right to manage her own body’s well-being as she sees fit…just as men have that right. Currently, the law of the land says a woman has the legal right to terminate a pregnancy at hers and the doctor’s discretion. By defunding agencies that help poor women, the source of most un-wanted pregnancies, the problem of poverty, ill health and social stress is exacerbated. Poor women don’t go to the doctor for regular checkups because they can’t afford it. Until we have a single-payer, universal health care system, organizations like Planned Parenthood must fill that niche for these women. Ask yourself: What would you favor if your daughter became pregnant and the father was not responsible enough to support a family at age sixteen? Where would you like your daughter or spouse to go to have PAP or breast exams if you were unemployed or broke?”
VOTER: “Where do you stand on gay marriage?”
“It is the law of the land to permit people to marry whoever they like. If people have certain religious, moral or personal problems with same-sex marriage, that is up to them. If you don’t like it, don’t do it. You have that freedom too, so why would you want to impose your values on people you don’t know? The Constitution still gives us the freedom to practice any religion we choose, but it does not give us the right to impose our religion on someone else. That’s why the Pilgrims left England.
VOTER: “What do you think we should do to prevent voter fraud?”
“As soon as there are valid data that shows that there is in-person voter fraud, I’ll address that problem. Until that time, this is a moot point. Right now, this topic is just another wedge issue to justify voter suppression. EVERY study, including those from Republican and Democratic research groups shows virtually no illegal voting or ballot fraud. In fact, in 2010, the National Republican Attorneys Counsel discovered that of all the ballots cast from 2000-2010 (300 million of them), only 57 ballots were deemed fraudulent for any reason. In fact, in that same year, the Republican attorney general of Indiana was indicted for ballot machine tampering and fraud.
“This argument is a total red-herring sponsored mostly by those Republican-dominated states that want to suppress voting from certain racial and ethnic groups. It seems to me that our most sacred freedom in this country is the vote. It’s what our democratic republic is founded on. It defines us as the greatest experiment in governance in the history of the world. To do ANYTHING, especially things based on lies, and false reports, that threatens the vote for any citizen is anti-American, anti-citizen and anti-freedom.”
Now, I’m back on the train to stop at the next town of 5,000 people to answer the same questions with the same amount of vigor and conviction as I did here. I’m running for President.
WATCH WHAT THEY DO.
THE CON IS STILL ON.
It’s Not What They Say…
02/09/2017 – Marble Falls, TX
The smartest woman on television, Rachel Maddow, keeps telling us to watch what they are doing, not listen so much to what they’re saying. Examples from the last three months are plentiful to underscore the duplicity coming from our body politic controlled by arrogant, spiteful, backward-thinking and corrupt politicians, aka Republicans. The Donald Trump circus is merely a sideshow to what is coming through our Congress and soon to the Supreme Court.
Remember when “draining the swamp” was a quaint slogan designed to seduce rural America into thinking that those socialist elitists would be removed from government to be replaced with people who actually listened to and cared about the “forgotten man”? Look at what they’ve done. The first clue came with the remarkably unlikely election of Donald Trump by a huge minority; he lost the popular vote to Clinton, Sanders, two third-party candidates and some write-ins by almost ten million votes. Trump wailed and thrashed for weeks about how he was treated so unfairly. Did he not notice all those people in outback America holding their noses while they voted for him? The fact is, he’s a most un-likable person with enough personality defects to fill a psychology textbook. And yet…sixty-two million duped Americans voted for him. Now, all 320 million of us will have to pay the consequences.
Along with this bizarre election came the un-return of sanity to the Senate in the form of a Democratic majority. Even though the Democrats gained two Senate seats, they only gained a handful in the House, not nearly enough to hold back the tide of the Paul Ryan tsunami of fiscal moronics. It’s what the do: Ryan wants to gut the New Deal all at once by “privatizing” Social Security and do the same to Medicare. They are already pushing legislation to return the “freedom” to be greedy with investor money to Wall Street with the attacks on Dodd-Frank. Think just about those two things. The investment banking environment returns to pre- 2009 times. Add to that the added capital windfall from privatizing Social Security and Medicare, and we suddenly have the swamp overflowing with money earmarked for the few who are “managing” those funds. Remember the time when Glass-Steagall was overturned by Gramm-Bliley in 1999? Hedge fund types (like Chelsea Clinton’s husband) proceeded to bet on failure and reap fortunes beyond any previous scope when the companies and banks they were pirating failed? What could possibly go wrong with a return to those times? Why do we have to keep repeating the cycle between greed/boom and stupidity/bust? From Harding to Coolidge to Hoover, we now can look at Reagan to the Bushes and now Trump as the nadir of capitalistic economics as it relates to a flourishing populace. When Keynesian economics are practiced by Democratic governments, all boats float much higher. Why don’t we get that? Why do we keep tempting fate with the dragon of greed and fascist tyranny?
Watch what they do. Betsy DeVos is now the Secretary of Education. She is of the same DeVoses who contribute mightily to everything Republican. This is her reward. Oh. She is also an anti-public school crusader and a religious zealot (as were all of the other Amway founders) who wants to privatize all schools for profit and to bring the “word of God” into our schools. Never mind that the wall between church and state still exists. Never mind that her husband is part of the Koch brothers’ archipelago of oligarchs. Never mind that her brother founded the horrifying private “security” outfit of mercenaries, Blackwater. Of course, if all schools are private, they can circumvent that annoying law. Those things shouldn’t have anything to do with the swamp, should they?
Congress and the Executive branch are doing little things that make one wonder whether or not we’ve fallen down a rabbit hole. The House just recently voted to eliminate as “fluff” the agency that looked after voting booth and ballot security across the nation. In view of the most recent hacking by Russia into our political system, one has to wonder what sort of medications the House Republicans are taking. Maybe they don’t care about voting security since the new Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, will probably just deny all voters access to the voting booths anyway. Ah, yes. Jefferson B. Sessions.
While debating the confirmation of this son of the DEEP South, one of our Senators, Elizabeth Warren was hushed up by an obscure, Civil War era Senate rule that Mitch McConnell invoked while Senator Warren was reading some Sessions history. The rule says that one Senator cannot impugn another Senator, which both Warren and Sessions were at the time. The thing is that what Warren was reading a summation of facts from Corettta Scot King, MLK’s widow, about Sessions’ rulings and behaviors in the 1980s that kept him from becoming a Federal judge. Logic says that if the facts and truth impugn someone who wants to be AG, maybe that disqualifies him on its face. Not in this Senate controlled by Mitch McConnell, though. Truth and valid qualifications only matter for Democrats.
The string of executive orders from the White House show an utter disdain for the rule of law, the Constitution, procedural norms and for the voters who put Donald the Narcissist in that chair. Meanwhile, in keeping with the runaway ego of Trump, he’s taking credit for the positive events that the Obama administration set in motion (another month of positive job growth)…except for that little “oops” in Yemen. The lies coming from poor Sean Spicer must stick in his throat such that his voice’s pitch keeps rising daily. No, the Obama administration didn’t approve the attack plan. That FUBAR is all Trump’s. Spicer has to say that it was a huge success, but when we note that children, women and others were killed along with one of our own Seals, we see at least one un-truth , aka a lie. We had to destroy a multi-million dollar aircraft because it came under too much fire from the ground. Oh, and the principle of the operation escaped and proceeded to mock President Trump. Does that sound like a success or a failure, assuming someone rational is reading this?
The vast majority of Americans agree on virtually all of the values and principles that make us a special experiment in governance. So, why, as the nation-wide demonstrations indicate, is this just- elected government going to so much effort to destroy those values by their actions designed to thwart progress for those who need government the most. The answer begins with the movement that began in 1971 with a corporate/banking call to arms by the paranoid and fascist-leaning Lewis Powell, a corporate attorney. He pushed for a mass attack on all facets of our nation’s institutions that resisted control by the oligarchy he faovred.
This stimulus created a long-term effort by some very, very scary people with lots and lots of money to bring fascism to our very doorsteps. It started slowly and quietly, but now is a raging lion begging to be fed. People with tyrannical, self-serving agendas like the Koch brothers, the Scaife family, the Olins, Peter Coors, the DeVos cabal, Sheldon Adelson, etc., have successfully infiltrated governments, higher education, lower education, and the media at all levels. They have spent countless millions in bribes to create a cadre of disinformation and anti-government foundations that favor only the rich while leaving the 99% of the people in the lurch.
Besides the afore-mentioned minions of the Koch archipelago in Congress (there are many more not mentioned – virtually all Republican), there are some very bad-for-the-people governors in states that are suffering greatly under the theme of “austerity only”, or “supply-side, free-market enterprise”. This gallery of rogues includes Sam Brownback of Kansas, Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Rick Scott of Florida, Mary Fallon of Oklahoma, Gregg Abbott (Rick Perry before him- now the Sec.Energy nominee) of Texas, and even Mike Pence of Indiana. Their collective backward-thinking would not only bring tears to the eyes of swamp creatures like Grover Norquist who wants virtually no government at all, but rush us back the the Gilded Age where poverty was institutionalized on a grand scale. These free-market zealots don’t seem to understand that wealth does NOT trickle down to anyone except the family and relative of those who are taking all the money.
World history of the 20th and 21st centuries are filled with the ash heaps of failure of pure, un-regulated free-market enterprise. Greed is a most primitive emotion and it knows no bounds. It takes strong intellect and discipline to form governments and philosophies that fairly distribute the wealth of nations to the people who create it and are necessary to raise all the boats. When we all do well, we all do well. Truer words were never spoken.
Listen to the news. Watch the shows analyzing the events of the day. The media will run all the tapes of all the mouths in Congress flapping happily away. But, most importantly for all of us, watch what they do. Government that pats you on the back while stealing your wallet or purse is something to be feared and guarded against. Those in our government who are promoting scare-tactics and fear of the “other” have their hands poised at your purse. They want it all. We the people have only the vote – and these con men and women want to take that away too. Watch what they do.
The Descent into Tyranny
1/26/2107 – Marble Falls, TX
It cannot be ignored any longer. With less than one week in office, the Reich of Trump is on the march to destroy our government one agency at a time, our nation one freedom at a time and our Constitution one Amendment at a time. With each passing day something more horrific, illegal, disgraceful or pathological comes tumbling out of the White House either from the lips of the despot himself or from those of his beleaguered surrogates. When will it stop? Probably only when the Reich of Trump ends. Here are a few examples of how despotic dictators take over a democracy.
Federal funding cuts for the arts, humanities, violence against women programs, PBS, NPR, civil rights (DOJ), environment (EPA, DOJ branches), Planned Parenthood, renewable energy and sanctuary cities that try to protect innocent immigrants from the jackboots.
Gag orders for the National Park Service, EPA and international organizations that even mention abortion (First Amendment). The NPS committed the unpardonable crime of not telling the world that Trump’s inauguration crowd was the largest in history. In fact, the news media produced pictures of the crowd compared to Obama’s first inaugural, and it was embarrassingly small…like so many things. The bleachers along the parade route looked more like the day after the Rose Parade than celebrating the new President. These reports of facts brought more and seemingly endless wrath from Trump for being so dishonest.
Threatened our biggest trading partner over islands in the South China Sea. Does this put us on a war footing with China?
Stated publicly that he wants the U.S. to take Iraqi oil as payment for our forces killing all those Iraqis and now ISIS fighters. Since we already have over 5,000 troops fighting alongside Iraqi soldiers against ISIS, one can only wonder when they will turn on our troops to defend their country and its resources from our takeover and hegemony.
Makes war on the media (That pesky First Amendment again). He has to do this to control the audience and the content of the news. Blame them for all the lies coming from the Reich of Trump and you cast doubt with the fourth estate in the minds of the people you are trying to control – not govern. Discredit the media for telling the truth and justify “alternative facts” and declaring “the right to deny facts”. This is how third-world dictators do it and Trump has watched those movies.
Nominate corrupt and corruptible people for important government posts and cabinet slots. Nominate people with no experience or knowledge to those important posts. He even nominated people who have spent major portions of their professional lives trying to destroy those very offices.
Dismiss all the U.S. ambassadors around the world on 20 January, 2017. Appoint an oil mogul as Secretary of State who is also a friend of Russia and Vladimir Putin, the man who arranged the hacking of our political system to defraud the election and allow Trump to win. After all, Trump still has to keep defeating Hillary Clinton and her State Department career as if he’s still campaigning. Apparently, Trump still needs to have his straw men (and women) to knock over and feed his massive, desperate ego.
Okay. If these aren’t bad enough, there are the graceless and classless moments too. Despite trying to make nice with the intelligence community Trump kept slandering before and after the election, He spoke in front of the Wall of Honor at the CIA and talked about…wait for it… himself. Yes, after a few conciliatory words, the new president launched into talking about crowds at the inauguration, his face plastered on TIME covers (he does not hold the record) and how we should take Iraq’s oil. Every psychologist in the country watching this clown show must be pouring over their manuscripts to find new definitions for narcissism, paranoia and xenophobia.
Oh. Right. Xenophobia. Yesterday, 25 January, 2017, Trump signed an executive order directing Congress to fund the building of a wall along our southern border with Mexico. While Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell held off their apoplexy at where the money would come from, the President of Mexico, broke the date with Trump on 31 January. Gee. Imagine that. It’s like your neighbor inviting you over for dinner, but building a twenty foot fence between your yard and his…for security purposes and to keep YOUR kids from walking on HIS lawn. Classy.
Then there are the issues with our veterans. It sounds like this:
“We will take care of our great Veterans like they have never been taken care of before.” – Donald Trump accepting the Republican nomination.
Trump has been in office less than one week, and here’s what he’s done for veterans:
1. Implemented a hiring freeze that will cost thousands of veterans jobs and keep at least 2,000 positions unfilled at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
2. He has talked about bringing back secret detention sites and torture, which only serves to help our enemies, recruit more terrorists, and endanger American troops.
3. He has put a stop to many refugees — almost all women and children — from coming to the United States from the Middle East. A move that alienates our allies in the War on Terror and usurps any goodwill we’ve built up. This puts our troops in further peril.
There are some other disturbing threats coming from this White House. The president ordered the renewal of two oil pipelines across Native American sacred ground and areas where human drinking water sources are at risk. He even put the city of Chicago on notice that he will institute martial law if the crime and the shootings don’t slow to a point that HE finds acceptable. And even after being inaugurated, Trump is till raging about the popular vote count claiming that illegals voted for Clinton thus giving her the three million vote advantage. It’s almost like he’d rather have won the popular vote and not be President, than win the Electoral College and be the president. By the way, between Clinton’s votes and those of the third-party candidates, Trump lost the popular vote by almost NINE million votes. Oh well, narcissism is a very weird and individual thing.
There are some promising signs that rational life is poking through the snows of this winter of our scariest election season since 1860. The gagged employees of the National Park Service have gone underground with Twitter accounts to keep the science and information coming from the research being done in the parks. Scientists from the EPA, OSHA and the NPS are going to have their own demonstration and march to protest being gagged by the paranoia of the gagman. Man, when you can get scientists out of the lab and in the streets, it must really be bad.
Speaking of which…. The entire senior staff of the State Department resigned en masse’. One can only wonder what the absolutely inexperienced Rex Tillerson will do with no ambassadors and nobody with any working knowledge of one of our most important departments in government. Is this a sign that the rebellion against fascism and tyranny is already under way? Tillerson may even have to fly coach, because nobody will be there to find him a reservation.
Tyranny is defined by verbiage having to do with abuse of power, overreach and irresponsible despotism in government. From Trump’s first week in office, it certainly seems like he’s stepped onto that slippery slope without looking down. How far well we slide before we the people stop him. There is the 25th Amendment, of course. Go read it. It’s fascinating.
Re-framing with the Gospels
1/15/2107 – Marble Falls, TX
Yes, THOSE Gospels, or at least the books in the Bible named after the disciples of Jesus Christ. I am not a religious person, but sometimes it becomes necessary to venture into the land of religious teachings to make a point in the modern world. The point today is from George Lakoff’s very interesting book, Don’t Think of an Elephant. In it, he describes the two basic models for American politics: The authoritarian model and the nurturant model. Ironically, both are founded on many of the same passages from the books of Matthew, Mark and Luke.
Lakoff defines the nature of the so-called conservative philosophy beginning with the premise that God is all powerful and all good. O.K. Most religious people accept that up-front. Conservatives think that God wants good people in charge of things. They see a God-driven hierarchy (God above man, man above nature, adults above children.) where virtue is rewarded with power and those who manage the moral codes should be obeyed. They believe, as most religious people believe, that God made the laws and that it takes personal discipline to follow those laws. If someone is disciplined enough to obey God’s laws, he or she should be rewarded with power and wealth. God is, therefore, the “original strict father”. Obey the laws and get rewards. Break the laws and receive punishment.
It gets a little more complicated when God’s son, Jesus enters the picture. Jesus give sinners a second chance to obey God’s laws; to be born again. This philosophy gives conservative-thinking Christians an additional shot of hierarchy with Christians above non-Christians, men above women, whites above non-whites and straights above gays. This structure allows conservatives license to launch their political application of hierarchy and discipline on their societies at large and the masses in particular.
Included in this structure is their own brand of morality, economics, education and government.
The discipline-oriented model assumes that social services are immoral in that everyone should earn what they get through hard work and discipline. This carries over into economics and government as well as education. Education, for example, should be rigidly controlled, uniform in curriculum and authoritarian in directing student behavior. Economics must follow the oft-failed free market model (Supply-side, or Trickle down economics) where no regulations or organized labor are allowed to limit profits for those who produce goods and services. Within this hierarchy, the poorer classes are necessary to serve the upper classes and to provide the sweat equity to make them rich. After all, as the model goes, the owners and the upper class are the most righteous because they receive all these material and comfort rewards; they simply deserve them. Of course, this begs the question about why equally religious and righteous people don’t share the same amount of comfort and luxury. Is there a scale of religious righteousness that matches up comfort and wealth with how much an individual loves God? I couldn’t find that anywhere in the Bible.
Yes, this is utopian and total idealism has yet to be approached. Also, not all conservatives and not all liberals practice their major philosophy totally. That’s certainly understandable given the enormous complexity of the human condition everywhere. Our complex society in the United States allows barely over half of each “competing” philosophy to operate that society. Yet, we do quite well…other than for the fifteen percent of chronic poverty that not even the most generous of liberals can get to. Conservatives actually blame the poor for being poor, irrespective of their lack of opportunities in their environments. Liberals, to their shame, only offer the chronic poor lip service, not real opportunity. Casting our veterans aside, however, is everyone’s fault. Shame on us for allowing half of our homeless people to be veterans of wars fought nobly even when our employees in public office lie through their teeth about going to war.
It’s been done before, and all too often, but the reference to New Testament Gospels in the context of this essay is germane to our country’s current situation and its future. Everything I’ve gleaned from the red print in my Bible talks about rich people giving up their wealth to help “the least of us”. The principle character in this most-read book in history keeps saying things like feed the hungry, clothe the naked, house the indigent, etc., etc. He even advocates for educating the children. Maybe that’s why the Romans had him killed. He was pro-life, pro-socialism and pro-dignity of mankind. He led a movement that resisted the pain of the Roman boot on the necks of the people being subjugated. But the Romans saw him as a political liability and did what they did to his kind of dissidents. Are we seeing a repeat of tyrannical oppression with the advent of Donald Trump?
Franklin Roosevelt, in his final State of the Union address mentioned six rights that all Americans should enjoy. Among those were the same things Jesus Christ requested for humanity as it tried to govern itself: equality under the law, food, gainful employment, a place to live, a good education, available health care. So, I ask, why do so-called conservatives, who base their lives and philosophies on Christianity, keep trying to undo the things that FDR brought forth as the Second Bill of Rights? Is it the selfish motive? Is it the money meme that takes over the hearts and minds of conservatives? Is it all of these? Why, I ask, have conservatives forsaken the best words from their Lord and Savior, in order to foist upon the American people a harsher life with no social safety nets, no affordable health care for all and no affordable education? Did Jesus’ words of compassion piss them off somewhere along the way? What happened to create such glaring hypocrisy among the most self-righteous, self-absorbed, self-serving and selfish people among us?
The current conflicts between so-called conservatives and liberals/progressives is exacerbated by those who make a handsome living off of these conflicts, the lobbyists. The argument for cutting FDR’s New Deal programs means more money for them and their clients’ employees in government, you know, the folks the people elect every year to do them harm.
This begs another question that Lakoff asks at the beginning of his book: Why do people keep voting against their own best interests? The best answer seems to be that the people who do this are emotionally invested in who and what they vote for. It has little to do with truth and logic, the key framework for liberal/progressive agendas. The conservative framework, truthful or not, lies with how to stir the emotions, fears and anxieties of voters in order to gain their confidence. Donald Trump, for example, is the confidence (aka, Con Man) man that did it this year. The Trump voters didn’t really want him to do all these things with walls, wars and woman degrading. They just heard the roar of their own testosterone in their ears and voted for him. Pure emotion. Not a fragment of logic here at all.
As my mentor keeps saying, “We have to change the framework of our political discourse”. We, the liberal/progressive MAJORITY must regain the high ground of producing candidates, and campaigns that capture the mind and imagination and emotions of the American voter. We have to do this without condescension, but with a way of introducing a positive set of ideas that will not only fulfill the ideals from FDR, but from the guy speaking in red in the Gospels we Americans hold so dear.
The Empty Folder
1/13/2107 – Marble Falls, TX
This one was teed up quite high, and I couldn’t resist. Perhaps the only light moment of the president-elect’s press conference was realizing that the stacks of folders used as a prop to illustrate his plans for his administration were empty. This fact screams irony all over the place, especially in view of the p-e’s inability or lack of interest in answering good questions from the media. The obvious and easy conclusion is: The p-e has NO plans for governing. As just about every thinking person has concluded, the p-e is an empty suit covering up a big mouth, a hostile countenance and hiding a fundamentally corrupt persona.
So, we are now about to enter our version of the third world. In my book, Killing the Dream: America’s Flirtation With Third World Status, I shamelessly forecasted this eventuality. This prediction coincides perfectly with H.L Mencken’s oft-quoted passage about our system eventually electing a moron as President. We came close with Bush II, but recovered, for a moment, with a true intellect in Barack Obama. Well, like a rubber band, our electorate snapped back to form and managed to elect – with the aid of the outmoded Electoral College – perhaps the most dangerous man on Earth this side of Kim Jung Un. Well done, voters.
But, wait. It may not be that bad. If we count the fact that the sum total of votes against the Republican candidate was nearly ten million more than he received, we can take heart that the majority of the American people saw through the con game being played by him. Some idiot I have the misfortune to know sent me a sympathy note telling me that I’m not going to like the “new sheriff in town”. What I see instead, using the Western movie metaphor, is the snake oil salesman standing on the back of his wagon. Moreover, Democrats actually gained seats in the House and Senate dispelling the false verbiage that we “lost” the House and Senate. The Republicans keep trying to fill their own empty folders with more lies, deceit and falsehoods.
The most recent Quinnipiac poll shows that the p-e’s approval ratings, in virtually every category that matters, is historically low, and falling like a rock. This pathological liar will enter office with his honeymoon already over and his poll ratings circling the drain. Once the Republicans get over their moment of joy by squeaking by on repealing the ACA, they’ll realize (I hope) that they’re backing an empty folder of a president too. I can’t help but assume that these poll results include those who voted for the p-e because they hated Hillary Clinton so much. Buyer’s remorse is a bitch. Any new health care legislation coming from this Congress (If any does at all.) will be known as CareLess-PayMore.
It is still one week from today (another irony that I write this on Friday the 13th.) that our future will take a dark and ominous turn with the inauguration of the next President. The scandals are already surfacing and rumbling, some of which could compromise the office of the President, the nation’s foreign policy and security and our economic status with our real and valid trading partners. Forget the sordid details of hotel visits, and the p-e’s denials (He always lies and denies.). The fact that he and his appointees (Rex Tillerson) have made business deals with those who would do us harm, is enough to challenge the validity of the in-coming administration. This is how third-world countries operate, and with the p-e’s family waiting in the wings to run the businesses, we will sound more like Equatorial Guinea than the land of the free and home of the brave.
Oh, Guinea. That oil-rich country is the role model for despotism and family-run government. Exxon-Mobil, run by Tillerson, dumps millions of dollars into Equatorial Guinea’s bank account in Washington (legal) as purchase of their oil, and lets the family for life have it all. Meanwhile, the family lives in stupefying luxury while 90% of the people of Equatorial Guinea are starving, living in squalor and receive virtually no government assistance to make their lives livable and worthwhile. Well, that’s big business for you, and the p-e wants the boss of the biggest business to be our Secretary of State, the person who extends our idealism to the rest of the world. By selecting Tillerson as SecState, the p-e shows, once again, how empty his folders really are. Tillerson may know how to swing multi-billion dollar deals like the one he did with Russia to drill in their Arctic barrens, but will he be able to perform at the meetings that try to keep peace in the world? The whole world trembles. Maybe “little” Marco will be the vote that dumps Tillerson.
Finally, Barack Obama performed in a graceful and dignified series of events to mark his second-last week in office. His farewell address was part recapitulation of his accomplishments, part thank you to all that supported his administration and part call to work. The latter is what we the people haven’t been doing enough of. The activism by the thinking, compassionate and, yes, idealistic people in the United States is necessary to assure fairness in the distribution of our ideals as well as the opportunities for everyone to lead a dignified life, not one of poverty or ill-health or poor education.
Yesterday, President Obama bestowed the Medal of Freedom – with Distinction to his #2, Joe Biden. It was a touching and moving ceremony that personified his grace, classiness and decency. Nobody is more deserving today than Joe Biden. Add to all that, the Chicago Cubs will shun the p-e before and after inauguration, and visit the Obama White House for their moment of congratulations by a real President, President Barack Obama.
This week is special, and I will cherish its moments as they apply to the outgoing administration of Barack Obama. It is also special in an opposite view, in that it precedes perhaps the most disgusting electoral accident in our history. The political horror showI see on TV every day involving the p-e has motivated this writer to get to work at defeating the Republican agenda, and supporting all legal methods and means to remove this man from office as soon as possible – before he destroys the nation and perhaps the world.
Betrayal, Part III: Who’s Next
Another day, another Goldman-Sachs billionaire… Another day, another climate change and science denier… Another day, another mindless babble from Kellyanne Conway, the poor dupe of the troop of Trump. Yes, the clown car keeps circling the middle ring and the passengers just keep falling out into the sawdust of our national political scene. And, as with most circuses, the elephants (Yes, go with the allegory.) have left their deposit for the clowns to roll in. This fiasco in transition is called the Trump show. But, where’s the ringmaster?
Oh, right. He’s off on the “stroke me, stroke me” tour showing off his latest metallic hair job. It has to be gold, of course, so it will glint in the light and blind the audience to the subterfuge they are about to experience. The current President-elect is doing his very best to go back on all his promises while basically thumbing his nose at the “new” supporters who voted for him instead of Hillary Clinton. Yes, it’s true. So very many of the people not paying attention bought the line of “crooked Hillary”. It was part of the con. Every con man uses this kind of hyperbole to sell his nonsense. It’s part of the con artist handbook, chapter 2. Who would have thought, just eight years ago, that the people of the United States could be turned from being a hopeful, starry-eyed group voting for the first African-American President, into a raging minority of voters who lucked out via the vagaries of the electoral college, and elected a demagogue instead of a statesman. This minority (46%) of the voters picked a different kind of change from the one available in 2008. Was it a change for the better?
In view of the anti-everything picks summary from the Trump transition team, it looks like a kind of coup of the oligarchs who want to rid the country of everything and anything progressive even if it made sense and did good things for good people. Sorry. It’s not going to happen that progressively positive way. You, my dear, fellow citizens, have been betrayed by the golden con man from New York. His assortment of hacks, billionaires, war hawks, cronies and dummies picked for cabinet or important White House posts is not only baffling to anyone familiar with government, but defiant of ALL the promises to “drain the swamp”. Trump has added a militarism to his cabinet and staff; that he did promise. But when you look at who he picked… You have a cashiered general kicked out for passing information to foreign governments and a general nicknamed “Mad dog” who has been pilloried by fellow combatants for not rushing to the aid of trapped soldiers from a different service. You have to wonder in which trash heap Trump poked around to find these guys.
Now comes the Russian hacking scandal. As the story builds, we see that indeed the Trump campaign benefitted from the hacked leaks delivered to the unbelievably naive James Comey, who published them just before the election. It’s not much of a leap to accept that Comey is a Republican. And yet…. And yet, the CIA notified Congress in September, 2016, that the DNC and RNC were hacked by Russia. The Republican leadership wanted to keep it quiet (McConnell) or it might look like election influencing. Guess what? It DID influence the election, and we got the most spectacularly unqualified candidate ever elected. Oh, and Mrs. McConnell was rewarded with a Sec. Of Transportation post. So, that’s how it works….
Moreover, the CIA and the FBI have agreed that none other than Valdimir Putin was responsible for directing the hack, with the specific purpose of aiding a Trump victory in our election. Considering the gullibility of the American people, coupled with the suspicion surrounding Hillary Clinton from 30 years of Republican-based witch hunts and, voila. You get the most unlikely election in our history producing the most unqualified and unlikely candidate who actually “won” 306 electoral votes.
Perhaps the most revealing aspect of this story is the nomination of Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. He has received the Russian Medal of Friendship directly from the hands of Vlad the Impaler. He sallied forth to defy U.S. policy and state department requests to NOT do a deal with the Russians. Tillerson, representing Exxon (Who else?), did a half-trillion dollar oil exploration deal, anyway. That’s how you earn Putin’s medals. Obama’s sanctions squelched it, but the die was cast for Rex. When the Russian government learned of Tillerson’s nomination, they went berserk with joy and celebrated into the night. Now, why would they do that? You don’t suppose that there is a conflict of interest and our national integrity and security involved here, do you?
Trump calls the election a landslide and the greatest political victory in our history (Of course he’d say that.), failing to get it that his electoral margin was the 8th smallest and that he lost the popular vote by three million – the most ever. The fact that a foreign country could have and did influence our most sacred tenet of democracy, free elections, is appalling and frightening – just like the alleged winner. But the Trump-ites are calling it a landslide. Conway says that if Obama was more of a patriot, he’d diffuse the feud with Trump. What? But then, spinning Kellyanne has been channeling Ann Coulter for some time now.
What all this adds up to is a fundamental betrayal of the ideals of democracy, and being astounded by how such an egregious creature can sully the sanctity of our presidential election by being who he is. I’m not talking about Putin, but Trump himself. He clearly has no ethical limits with his flirtations with conflicts of interest surrounding his businesses and his reluctance to tell anyone how he is going to divest himself – if he is at all. So far, all his promises are hollow. Trump clearly is willing to undo years of hard work trying to keep a ruthless thug under control. Deals with that country that compromise our integrity and security. Trump has literally let the fox into the hen house by being nice to Putin. How in all things holy is it possible for a president-elect to curry favor with a national leader, who, in fact hacked into our election process to get things to go his way? The “T” word trembles on my lips as I write this with the hope that Donald Trump will be called to answer for his deeds and misconduct.
Is his con game so strong that the American people will turn their heads away from the ultimate betrayal, perhaps the worst since Benedict Arnold sold us out to the British? When will the betrayals stop? How stupid are we? How egotistic are we that we can’t slap our heads and say we made a terrible mistake? The next few weeks will tell. The electors still could come to their senses and save the country from disaster. If Trump is indeed inaugurated, will the people push for the investigations necessary for his shenanigans and his t******? If they don’t, the United States will be a very, very different place in less than the two years it will take to elect a Congress to put the brakes on this mad hatter in our midst.
If Donald Trump is not somehow removed from office before he destroys our democracy, we have only ourselves to blame. We will have betrayed ourselves and our forebears who fought and died defending our Constitution and this land we call The United State of America.
Betrayal – Part II
The previous essay in this series defined betrayal and some of the aspects and realities where those betrayals insult people who actually have faith in others, a system or a culture. Have any of you experienced reaching out to someone you thought was your friend and they didn’t reach back? How about those folks who say to you that they really like you and find you interesting, then never call again? Or how about coming home to your significant other or spouse and learning that they are leaving you for another? Sure. We’ve all had to endure those betrayals and have found our way through life despite those very personal betrayals. We could do this because we were in charge of our lives.
But what happens when one is NOT in charge? How do you manage betrayals from those in whom you’ve placed trust and faith to represent you and your needs in the broader sense? Those betrayals can come from your local government, your state government or your national government. Each of us has to decide how much impact that betrayal has on our lives, before the next election…at least in the United States and other democracies. The pregnant question becomes: What happens when the elections don’t allow the majority of the people to be represented by their votes and their choices are somehow voided by some peculiarity…like the electoral college in American politics?
This archaic institution is part of our Constitution and only applies to the Presidential election. It was, theoretically, put in place to prevent some un-hinged lunatic to somehow become President. The founders favored educated people’s opinions more so than the un-educated majority. They didn’t think those folks could make uninformed decisions. The results throughout our history are mixed, but the last two times the electoral college trumped (sorry) the majority vote brought us a terrible administration and now, one that is thrashing with its own confusion about governing the executive branch of our government. Al Gore defeated George W. Bush by about 500,000 votes, but couldn’t overcome the Supreme Court’s ruling that Florida didn’t have to re-count or count all its ballots and handed the election to Bush. The economic crash, two misguided invasions and poorly managed wars without end, tax giveaways to the wealthy, the great giveaway to the drug companies, the wasteful Department of Homeland Security, the virtual elimination of the Fourth Amendment and all the rest, were the consequences of that court decision.
Now, the Trump administration-in-waiting has obtained electoral victory, but lost the popular vote by over two million (and still counting) to Hillary Clinton. This is where real betrayal starts to affect us all: The founders couldn’t have imagined someone like Donald Trump – unless, of course, they looked into the George III closet and found all those personal issues. Maybe they did and thus created the electoral college to prevent a neo-fascist from becoming President due to their idea of uninformed voters. Did they betray the voters with the electoral college? Not really. What they did was create a way to diminish the power of one person-one vote. They didn’t feel that as a betrayal. They thought it was a check on who might run for the office. They were mistaken. In 2016, the failure of the electoral college manifested itself big time.
Donald Trump campaigned on all sorts of planks of hate, bigotry, bad economics, lies and a variety of statements about health care and taxes. He ran as a Republican. Republicans say they want to cut spending. Trump said he wanted to create infrastructure jobs and expand the military. That requires spending. Trump said he wanted to cut taxes for corporations a lot and a little for everyone else. Republicans say they hate and fear deficits. Trump’s plan increases those deficits greatly. Are the Republicans saying they’ve been betrayed? No. They want to cut social services of all sorts to reduce that deficit. Are you still awake?
The first betrayal of the GOP by Trump came right away when he said he was going to keep the key aspects of Obamacare. Next came his backing off of withdrawing from the Paris environmental accords. But these are just words. Let’s look at who he has picked as part of his team.
Trump says he wants to unite the country and put aside all divisiveness. Then, he hires the number one divider in the country, Steve Bannon, to be his top political adviser. Hmm. Then, he hires the former attorney general of Alabama as the AG for the entire nation. Looking at Jeff Session’s record in office shows him to be almost as backward-thinking as Mike Pence, the VP-elect. I think we can expect a lot of disharmony between the different demographics in America from this appointment. Nikki Haley will probably do a great job at the U.N., even thought Trump once said we should leave it and NATO because we were paying too much of the freight.
Finally, the most recent and most egregious betrayal of our American heritage occurred during this last week of November. Trump tapped Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. He picked her because she contributed millions of dollars to his campaign and has been a right-wing, extremist activist in launching private charter schools in Michigan. Her family founded Amway, the illegal pyramid scheme that compromised courts had to deal with at length. Her brother also founded Blackwater Securities, the people who were allowed to gun down Iraqis outside of the military supervision to whom they were supposed to have answered. Oh. And the DeVoses are also part of the Koch brothers’ star chamber that continues to plot having their oligarchy replace democracy in our land. What Trump has done with this horrifying appointment is feed the heart of our children’s future into the jaws of the wolf of greed and profit. How’s that for betrayal?
This latest move insults the spirit and letter of the founding documents and those who wrote them. Thomas Jefferson must be weeping in his crypt to see this marvelous institution of public schools go glimmering to some bottom line in some board room in some Trump Tower. I know, I know, it sounds like another blast of doom and gloom from this author, but Trump’s actions are now speaking louder, much louder than his words.
I wonder how much betrayal all parts of our nation will endure before they come to their senses and take democracy back from the neo-fascists and the neo-Nazis who think they’ve been enabled by the Trump phenomenon. Anyone watching and reading the news who still have a thread of real patriotism in their being must be shuddering at what they’re seeing. The Trump presidency-to-be is founded on betrayal; the betrayal of their own supporters and voters and the betrayal to the founders, the Constitution and to the children of the parents who voted. Those among the forty-seven percent of registered voters who didn’t vote and allowed this looming horror show are also part of the betrayal. They thumbed their noses at the thousands of white headstones around the world standing sentinel over those who died protecting that right to vote.
Remember, the Third Reich began with the minority election of the National Socialists. The people never imagined that things could go as wrong as they did. The Jews figured it out early, and many who had the means, left everything behind and moved elsewhere. Today, our Muslims – and, to a lesser extent, the Jews – must be feeling many of the same feelings of betrayal in our country. By the time the German people realized what they’d done (allowed the Nazis to take complete control of the government), it was too late. There were no more elections.
Be ever vigilant. Be ready to fight for your democracy. We just had our “Holy Crap” moment. Let us all learn from history and act now before it’s too late.
“First they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew…”
Betrayal – Part I
betray: …2. to be unfaithful in guarding, maintaining or fulfilling a trust. 7. ..to deceive, misguide or corrupt. 8. ..to seduce and desert.
A recent acquaintance introduced me to this concept of betrayal as it gets into the mind of voter during a political discussion. We were, of course, trying to dissect the results of the November 8th outcome and analyze the demographics. First, Forty-seven percent of eligible voters didn’t vote on November 8th. Our founding fathers built their ideals of democracy on citizen participation. Such a large number of non-voters (this has been a chronic problem throughout the country, especially at the local levels) strikes me as a betrayal of those founders and their ideals. Everything good and holy about our society depends on the faith our citizens have in the system that actually allows them to vote…at least in most areas. That brings me to the next betrayal.
The voter suppression actions taken by mostly Southern and Republican-ruled states seems to have worked for the election of Donald Trump and the continued volume of Republican representation around the country. The betrayal of the freedom to vote begins with arbitrary and un-supervised voter roll purges and strict voter ID laws that require difficult-to-obtain-for-some documents. These shenanigans are a direct result of the Supreme Court’s decision to de-tune the obviously necessary Voting Rights Act and its oversight of elections in key, racially suppressive states…like North Carolina and Texas. Even Indiana had to have a court overturn its draconian voter suppression. Oh. Right. VP-elect Mike Pence is still governor there. These betrayals of the trust of its citizens is more than a little egregious. They are virtually seditious and lead to an undermining of our national fabric.
But those who reaped the benefits from these betrayals don’t seem to mind that they are killing our trust in one another. They are only interested in winning elections and gaining power, a most primitive behavior that extends all the way back to cave dwellers. The paradox is that many people who don’t normally vote Republican, voted Republican this time, thus enabling this betrayal. Why did they do this? Well, they said they felt betrayed by the Democratic party and the corporations. Really? They said they wanted change, but ended up voting for virtually the same Congress that was obstructionist for the last six years of the Obama administration. Well, the facts are that the Republican party is responsible for sending the jobs away, fighting the minimum wage, destroying voter rights and allowing the very rich to hide their money and pay no taxes. That’s right, white, blue-collar America voted for those who have been doing everything they could to ruin the middle class lifestyle. This is the cognitive dissonance that plagues our land.
You’ll notice #8 above: “seduce and desert”. How did these folks get to the point of abandoning the political party and movement that served their best interests since 1932? Yes, the Democrats started becoming cozy with corporate/banking America during the Clinton administration because that’s where the money in politics was coming from. The Democrats had to play ball with the big money people in order to survive in the rapid corruption (#7) of our political system. So, yes, the Democrats betrayed the middle and poorer classes and became perceived as elitists. I find this more than a little ironic in that real elitism belongs to the billionaires, and there are damned few Democrat billionaires.
In the final outcome of the election, the votes broke along mostly white vs. everybody else lines. A higher percentage of white men and women over thirty-five voted than any other groups. Incredibly, over fifty percent of white women voted for Donald Trump irrespective of his verbal assault and insults directed toward them for the last fifteen months. White men, giving in to their desires for a strong, authoritarian figure, voted for Trump too, irrespective of his cluelessness about how he was going to revise the economy. They just fell over for bizarre statements like: “I alone can fix our problems.” Meanwhile, people of color and other ethnicities saw the writing on the wall and voted for Clinton and the Democrats. Indeed, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by nearly two million votes. In fact, more people voted for Clinton than had ever voted for anyone ever before. The electoral college, however, was slanted toward getting Mr. Trump elected. One must ask: “Is it time to end this ‘blast from the past’ and elect our President by popular vote only?”
It’s not too far in the distant past for us to forget that the last time a “minority vote” President was elected, it was George W. Bush. Actually, he wasn’t so much elected as appointed when the Supreme Court succumbed to the verbiage of the Republican lawyers like Howard Baker and allowed that Florida didn’t have to count all its votes. We know how well that all worked out, don’t we? It seems to me that everywhere we the people turn, we are being betrayed by this or that political decision or group that is ideologically committed to everything BUT what the founders had hoped for.
Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal was attacked by Republicans as socialist and communist, etc., etc., or whatever new words they learned that week. As it happens, FDR and the New Deal were all about the pursuit of happiness and that all of us have inalienable rights. Republicans have been fighting that ever since. By making a bond and a kind of moral contract with its citizens, the United States government, and those who presume to govern, have established a trusting relationship. When that trust is broken, the betrayal breaks hearts, minds and bodies. To wit:
Paul Ryan’s imaginary utopia of Ayn Rand’s world (Fiction, but documentary in Ryan’s world.) that cuts the New Deal to shreds and gives all the social services to for-profit entities. Included in Ryan’s scheme is a reduction in benefits to our fighting men and women, those who willingly laid it on the line in defense of our country, or at least while fulfilling the duties associated with wearing the uniform. Ryan’s and the Republican’s overt betrayal of the American people is profound, wicked and absolutely class-oriented. You simply cannot, in good conscience, cut the benefits of the society for some while relieving the least deserving of a tax burden that they should be proud to pay. That’s the whole idea of our democratic republic. Our taxes are the cost of civilization and those who benefit the most should also pay the most.
Instead, we now have a society that has seldom been more divided. The rifts in families and friends grows daily. Those who feel betrayed by the Democrats and who voted for Trump and the Republicans have abjectly failed to understand that their betrayal has been systemic: The Republicans have created an ideology that avoids benefitting the people by utilizing very successful and rewarding programs like Social Security, Medicare and free public education. The trust that they choose to break is one that ignores the spirit of our founders’ intent and the plain common goodness of mutual generosity between citizens. Meanwhile, the Democrats have gone for the money and created the impression that they too have abandoned the working and poor people in our country. Our politics have become an equal-opportunity betrayal of all the trusts and faith that we citizens hold dear.
This election proves that we are off the path of righteousness toward one another with fascists like Flynn, Kovach and Sessions beginning the same pogroms that horrified the world in the middle of the 20th century. This is what happens when betrayal creates a vacuum of hopelessness and loss of faith in a people. The fascists come boiling up out of the swamp to fill the void.
When we betray each other, we betray our freedoms and our way of life.
Part II will take this topic further as news is made and the Trump phenomenon continues the paranoia, lies and ideology that continue to feed the betrayal of our democracy.