Monthly Archives: January 2016

THE GOLDEN SHOWER

Last week, at one of his campaign rallies, Trump made the bold prediction that if he stood in the middle of 5th Avenue in New York, and randomly shot someone dead in the street, there would still be no diminishment of support among his followers. And he’s absolutely right. So strong is the blind faith among his growing mass of adherents, that there is literally no act that Trump could perform that would in any way dissuade his fanatical adherents from supporting him. Or as one columnist put it, if Trump were on stage at a large campaign rally, and suddenly began to urinate on people in the first row, those in the back would come surging forward to also benefit from this “golden shower.” Awhile back, when Hillary Clinton was slightly late returning from a bathroom break during one of the Democratic debates, Trump called it “disgusting.” Which is understandable since Trump is rich enough to where he can hire someone to go to the bathroom for him.

In any event, I thought it would be interesting to attempt to understand what motivates this fanatical following for someone essentially espousing a neo-fascist imperative. In a nutshell it can be boiled down to talk radio and Fox News. For 25-30 years these sources have been poisoning the airwaves with a steady drumbeat of hatred and vile rhetoric directed against progressives, liberals and Democrats. Now, after 3 decades of all this vitriol, which has leached huge volumes of poison into the American mainstream, such efforts are finally paying dividends for the haters; which include Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity on the male side and Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham on the female side. To say nothing of all the Rush and Laura wannabes that broadcast from every city in the country. To also say nothing of the daily bile put forth by Fox News against Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Democrats in general. These broadcasters command millions of devoted viewers and listeners, who then spread this venom amongst friends and families and others throughout their neighborhoods. Sort of like a rippling effect in a lake. Who better to take advantage of all this poisonous hate circulating throughout the country than a neo-fascist demagogue such as a Donald Trump.

As I’ve written before, one of the most venom, rage filled such broadcasters is named Michael Savage, who calls his program the Savage Nation. His real name is Michael Wiener, but I guess the Wiener Nation wouldn’t sound all that imposing. He also claims to have millions of devoted listeners.  Anyway, his speech is so filled with pure, undiluted, outright hatred toward Obama and the Democrats, that England saw fit to put him on a list banning him from entry into that country. Others on that list are mostly serial killers and terrorists. But in this country he has total freedom of the airwaves. (Maybe it’s time to re-think that freedom of speech thingy in the first amendment.) None of this bothered Trump, however, who went on the Savage Nation and thanked Michael for his strong support. Another fine bromance, similar to the one Trump established with Vladimir Putin, the tyrant dictator of Russia.

In the 1920s, when Adolf Hitler, was first starting his quest for power, most Germans considered him a fringe crackpot. After all, Germany was not some backwater, hicksville country. To the contrary, most Germans were well educated, and Germany had a rich culture of music, literature, art, and philosophy. Hitler blamed the multitude of Germany’s problems on a small minority of Jews, who were mostly shopkeepers. Similar to the way Trump has blamed virtually all the woes in this country to undocumented Hispanics. Who, at less than 11 million, now comprise about 3.5% of the U.S. population of over 320 million. Who the vast majority of Americans never have any contact with. As I’ve said, most Germans in the beginning considered Hitler part of the lunatic fringe. But through demagogic persistence, and through the force of Hitler’s dominating personality, more and more Germans began to fall in line with Hitler’s message of hatred toward Jews. More and more Swastika arm bands began showing up in the public square. And the rest, as they say, is history.

So, today in this country, we have another fascist purveyor of hate, also with apparently over-powering demagogic abilities that convince large numbers of people to follow him down his rabidly destructive pathways. All set in motion by nearly 3 decades of vitriol and venom emanating from talk radio and Fox News, who planted the seeds that make Trump’s landscape so fertile. During the 1930s, after Hitler took power, the Nazis conducted huge parades through German cities where thousands or tens of thousands of  gleeful Germans would line the boulevards to show their adoration of Der Furhrer. But by the 1940s, when these same cities were being bombed into heaps of rubble, the blinders finally fell away from German eyes. Lets hope it never quite comes to that, after Trump takes command in the Oval Office.

 

 

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THE FREAK SHOW

I had promised myself that I wouldn’t write about Trump at least until it was clear that he would become the Republican nominee. But the latest shenanigans going on in that continuing circus known as the Republican debates made it all too irresistible. The latest kerfuffle occurred when Trump, always seeking to travel the low road, questioned whether his nearest rival in the upcoming Iowa caucus, Ted Cruz, is really a legitimate citizen of the U.S. Seems that good ole Ted was born in Canada, but to an American mother. That Cruz is a U.S. citizen is undeniable. But the Constitution states that to run for president, one must be a “natural born citizen.” Since Ted was born in Canada, Trump claims that the Democrats could “sue” Cruz’s eligibility to sit behind the desk in the oval office, should he be the party’s nominee. Since mudslinging is the name of the game in Trump’s world, these phony allegations reminded me of the 2012 election when Trump based his attempted march to fame on the “birther” allegation that Barack Obama was not a naturally born U.S. citizen, i.e., that he was really born in Kenya. Didn’t work out too well for him back then, and likely won’t this time around too.

First a few observations. Canada practically is the U.S., and would have been if not for the seditious actions of Aaron Burr, back in the days of our founding fathers. Secondly, most legal scholars agree that Cruz meets the definition of a “natural born citizen” and that Trump’s allegations constitute a “red herring.” It also noteworthy that the Iowa “caucus” followed right after by the New Hampshire primary, have an outlandish influence in selecting 2 candidates, one of which will go on to become the most powerful person in the world. Iowa and New Hampshire combined, constitute 1.4% of the total U.S. population. Yet if one candidate sweeps both states, it gives him or her a powerful leg up, and lots of momentum in winning future primaries in the more populous regions of the country. Such is the irrational or insane method this country employs to select its presidential candidates. Any third or fourth world banana republic would be too ashamed to admit to this method of choosing their leaders. 

So Trump goes non-stop on Twitter bashing Ted Cruz, in an effort to tweet his way to the White House. The latest polls show the 2 of them in a dead heat in Iowa. Now, normally I would be the last person to come to Cruz’s defense, since he’s a right-wing whacko extraordinaire. He’s anti-abortion, anti-gay rights, anti-immigration, and anti-gun control for openers. He’s also vociferously against government assistance to the poor, the sick, and the elderly. (If you’re poor, sick and old, you’re really up the creek without a paddle, in Cruz’s world.) He was instrumental in shutting down the government for 5 weeks in 2013, because he felt it was spending far too much on assistance for the disadvantaged. But, he’s also open and honest about his beliefs and priorities, such as they are, and doesn’t resort to mud-slinging demagoguery in order to achieve his goals. His views were largely shaped by his father, Rafael Cruz, who escaped from Castro’s Cuba, and equates all governments to the way the Castro brothers have ruled Cuba for the last 65 years. Rafael runs a mega-church in Texas, and has passed on his “all governments are tyrannical and godless” philosophy to son Ted who absorbed this type of thinking like a sponge.

Besides the bombastic, bullying Trump, and the far right, delusional Cruz, there’s a whole slew of Republican candidates eager for a shot at occupying the White House. There were originally 17 clowns on stage, and it’s now down to 13, I believe. But the only other candidate performing in these circus shows, that might have an outside chance at winning the nomination, is Marco Rubio. I’ve written about Rubio before; about his youth, good looks and even a dash of charisma, (unusual for a Republican.) There is no question that the young, handsome Marco would easily trounce the aging and highly damaged Hillary Clinton in a final showdown. The problem is that Rubio has run a rather lackluster campaign that has failed to energize most of the Republican base. He could easily win the election, but likely will not be able to secure the nomination. 

Then there are the also-rans like Jeb Bush. Bush used to be Governor of Florida but that was 8 years ago. Somehow Jeb believed that he could parlay the Bush family name into lining up big time cash donors that would buy the nomination and then the presidency for him. He did get the cash donors, but it’s not translating into potential votes in the upcoming primaries. Seems that the mostly disastrous  administration that brother George ran for 8 years, is still on voters minds. The thought of putting yet a third Bush in the Oval Office actually makes some people nauseous. There are also some of the longest of long-shots up on stage, hoping that lightening will somehow strike in their favor. For example, Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey, believes he somehow has a chance. But it’s not going to to happen and he should stick to blogging about his favorite restaurants in New Jersey. If anyone knows food, it has to be Gov. Christie. And, of course, these circus performances would not be complete without the one woman in the Republican race, Carly Fiorina. She speaks well, and exhibits great poise and decorum. But many years ago, Carly used to be CEO of Hewlitt-Packard, and nearly ran that company into ground with her decision to acquire the Compaq computer company. She was promptly fired from her job because of that fiasco. Then not too long ago she ran for senator in California and was soundly defeated in that quest, primarily because she was vociferously anti-abortion in a very blue state. Put her odds for the nomination at about a thousand to one. And the beat goes on.

There will be many more circus performances to write about before the eventual outcome, which will likely culminate with a Trump nomination. Then look at all the fun I could have, writing about The Donald’s exploits and ensuing disasters. 

Categories: Economics, human affairs, Isis terrorist attack in Paris,, Joe McCarthy, McCarthyism, World War II, Viet-Nam, Anti-Communist Witch Hunts, Army-McCarthy hearings, Islamic Jihadist terrorism, Soviet Union, Red China, politics, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

THE FEAR AND THE ANGER

It is axiomatic that when one bases his or her decisions out of fear or anger, they turn out to be very bad decisions indeed. The same is true when countries act irrationally, instead of with calm, common-sense deliberation. A trip down 20th century milestones will further illustrate  how people and nations injure themselves badly by making decisions when angry or afraid, instead of taking a step back and rationally deciding what’s in their best interests.

Prior to WWII, the American populace was just the opposite of being fearful. For the most part, complacency and isolationism ruled the day. Even as an horrific world war was breaking out all around them in the late 1930s,  most Americans felt they were protected by vast oceans to the east and west of the U.S., and friendly neighbors to the north and south. It took the bombing of Pearl Harbor of December, 1941 to finally shake off this complacency, and force the U.S. to swing into action. By then Nazi Germany had occupied almost all of Europe, with just England and Russia remaining free, but hanging on by their fingernails before the Nazi onslaught. In the Pacific, Imperial Japan was gobbling up one nation after another, and threatened to acquire the biggest prize of all, China. It took U.S. entry into WWII to save both Europe and the Pacific. The U.S. was considered the world’s savior at that time, adored by all allied countries. When American tanks rolled down the Champs-Elysees in 1944, freeing  Parisians of the murderous Nazi regime, thousands lined the streets in grateful adoration. French Mademoiselles blew kisses and threw flowers at American tank commanders. Think the U.S. would receive a similar reception today?

Amidst all the glory, however, a very dark chapter in American history was about to unfold on U.S. soil, because tragic decisions were made out of fear and haste.

The Roosevelt Administration, fearful that U.S. citizens of Japanese heritage living on the West Coast would switch their allegiance from the U.S. to Japan, should that country invade us from the Pacific, rounded up all such Asians and shipped them off to concentration camps in Texas. Well, maybe they weren’t as horrendous as Nazi concentration camps, and they didn’t have gas chambers, but they were still pretty bad. Decades later, recognizing the cruel and senseless injustice of this action, attempts were made by the government to undertake reparations for survivors of that deplorable experience.

After the war, the U.S. tried to return to a so-called policy of normalcy, as millions that had been drafted into the military were discharged and returned to civilian life. However, this desire for normalcy vanished almost overnight. In Europe, the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin, who had been our ally during WWII, began taking over East European countries such as East Germany, Poland and several others, and installing friendly Communist regimes under this new Soviet umbrella. In the Pacific, the established Chinese government was overthrown and a new Communist dictatorship, allied with Russia, came to power. The spread of Communism throughout the globe seemed unstoppable. Then in 1948, when Russia first tested a nuclear bomb, panic set in among the American public. The”Red Menace” was on the march to take over America.

A new era fear and anger, to say nothing of outright hatred of anything Communist, oozed like a giant blob throughout the land. Americans that had expressed complimentary remarks about the Soviet Union when it was our ally during WWII, were now looked upon as enemies. If people had the misfortune of actually joining the American Communist Party during that period, they were now considered traitors. The popular refrain from that era was”better dead than red.” And of course, unscrupulous politicians in Congress, seeing electioneering “gold in them thar hills” were all to eager to capitalize on this anti-communist frenzy. And by far, the most unscrupulous of them all was a Republican senator from Wisconsin named Joe McCarthy, or tail-gunner Joe as he was fond of being called, (based on his WWII record.) 

McCarthy headed up a senate committee that probed into “un-American” activities in the U.S. government, in the entertainment industry such as Hollywood, and other institutions. Hundreds of people, almost all innocent, were hauled before McCarthy and denounced as traitors who had committed treason by being underlings for the Soviet Union. Innocent lives and reputations were destroyed through these anti-communist witch hunts. Some people, so branded, committed suicide, while other lost their jobs and careers and became outcasts of society. (These same anti-communist tirades also took place in the House, where future president Richard Nixon sat on the House Un-American Activities Committee.) This deeply dark chapter of anti-communist hysteria lasted from the late 1940s to the late 1950s, when almost all Americans lived in fear of being labeled a communist.

Finally, in the late 1950s, McCarthy decided to cross a a bridge too far. He made the accusation that the U.S. Army was “riddled with communists” or “pinkos” as term was used in those days. He held hearings to prove his point which came to be known as the Army-McCarthy Hearings. What became unique about these hearings, however, was that for the first time, they would be carried on that new medium that was rapidly gaining popularity, known as television. The public, at last, would be able to see live McCarthy’s smear tactics. McCarthy called up dozens of Army personnel, and accused them of being communist traitors or sympathizers. 

The Army was represented by a mild mannered attorney named Joseph Welch. When McCarthy grilled a low-grade black woman who was an Army file clerk and accused her of being a communist spy, his goose was cooked. Mild-mannered lawyer Welch rose in his chair and angrily cried out-“Have you no shame, sir. Have you no shame?” The public at last, could view in real time the sham that came to be known as “McCarthyism” which is today listed in the Oxford dictionary as an official word. And not in a good way. McCarthy also recognized that his gig was up and began to drink even more heavily than he normally did. He died of alcoholism, shortly thereafter, at age 56. But, as a result of this anti-communist hysteria, the U.S. became deeply enmeshed in Viet-Nam for no valid reason, where almost 60 thousand American lives were lost, to say nothing of the hundreds of thousands of Viet-Namese that were killed.

Today there are new fears, panic, and hysteria spread across the U.S. because of Islamic Jihadist terrorism. And, as in those earlier decades, there are unscrupulous politicians today all too eager to exploit the current situation for their own pursuits in acquiring power. I’ll leave the names unsaid for now, but you know who they are. Will this lead to more bad decision-making based on fear and anger. It probably will. History tends to repeat itself.

Categories: Joe McCarthy, McCarthyism, World War II, Viet-Nam, Anti-Communist Witch Hunts, Army-McCarthy hearings, Islamic Jihadist terrorism, Soviet Union, Red China, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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