Joe McCarthy, McCarthyism, World War II, Viet-Nam, Anti-Communist Witch Hunts, Army-McCarthy hearings, Islamic Jihadist terrorism, Soviet Union, Red China

THE UN-TRUMP

As the Trump Administration lurches from one pending disaster to the next, the latest being the ill-conceived firing of FBI Director James Comey, one would think that the Democrats would have at least several young, ambitious, potential candidates to challenge The Donald in the next scheduled mud-wrestling challenge. Sadly, the Democrats appear to be too demoralized and apathetic to even enter the arena. They’re truly in a state of shambles. There seems to be no Young Lochinvar to ride in from the west on his trusty steed to save the country from the machinations of a demagogic president and his henchmen. But if there were such a bold, brazen Democratic senator for example, he or she might want to pursue the following path to a likely victory come the next election. He or she could start out by visiting college campuses and deliver the following speech.

“Good evening fellow students of LSU. I say fellow students because I am an alumni of this fine institution, being an under-graduate not that many years ago. Let me start off by saying that I am the Un-Trump. I live in a state of reality and sanity, rather than in a parallel universe of delusional paranoia. I don’t indulge in pathological narcissism, and I don’t try to cover-up wrong-doings that might of occurred on my watch with serial mendacity. I don’t indulge, every other day, in Twitter tirades against perceived critics or enemies, with all the fervor of an adolescent teen-ager whose ego has been absurdly bruised. I would not continue on the campaign trail long after the election is over, in a pathetic attempt to boost my sagging poll numbers. I would not enlist the help of Russia or any other country to hack my opponents computers or otherwise spread false news to assist my election effort. I would not attempt to bar peaceful citizens of any country, or nationality or religion from entering the U.S. for legitimate reasons. And if I am elected your president, I would not have members of the Alt-Right white supremacist movement as my closest advisors in the White House. To the contrary, I would employ the strongest of civil rights advocates. As I’ve said, I am The Un-Trump.

“And one other matter above all else. I surely would never build that hideous 2000 mile monstrosity on the Mexican border that will become known as the Trump Wall, if it does become a reality. Erecting such a barrier would not only be the biggest boondoggle in U.S. history, costing tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer money, its effectiveness in keeping out criminals or terrorists would range between negligible to non-existent. And that’s one of the reasons I’m appearing before you tonight. I need your help in assuring that the Trump Wall never becomes a reality. If, in fact, it appears that construction is about to begin on this fiasco, who among you will join me at the Mexican border to stand in the way of the tractors and earth-movers. In civil protest and disobedience, Ghandi-style. If a few thousand of us come down to the border and stand in the way of construction crews, this wall will not be built. Perhaps, if as many as 10 or 20 or 50 or even 100 thousand people show up to block construction, this hideous wall will never see the light of day. They couldn’t possibly lock up that many protesters. But remember, this would be an act of civil disobedience, with emphasis on “civil.” There can be absolutely no violence on our part, which would only serve to discredit such a protest. It must be 100% civil, the way Ghandi employed such tactics to free India from British colonial rule.

“In coming weeks I plan to visit more college campuses and other venues to elicit as much support as I can to block this impending insanity. So I ask, one more time, who will join with me in this act of conscience. Let me see a show of hands. Ahh, good. I see most of you are willing to support me in this crusade. It bodes well for the resistance. If it keeps growing, we can end all this craziness within a few short years. Remember, above all else- I am the Un-Trump.”

Alas, it appears, however, that there is no such young Democrat on the horizon that has that kind of energy and inventiveness. You might say Bernie Sanders; but he would be about 78 come next election, which really is too old. Elizabeth Warren is a possibility, but she’s not exactly a spring chicken herself. Lacking a Young Lochinvar, all you young people are faced with the bleak likelihood of enduring the Trump insanity for 8 long years.

One other thing. The crude vulgarity that Trump employed to fire James Comey was beyond comprehension, even for Trump. Comey had to learn about being dumped from a third party source as he was about to give a speech. It was obviously in retribution for the ongoing FBI investigation into the Trump team’s collusion with Russia to alter the final election results. The unceremonious firing was ironic also, since it was Comey that handed Trump the election victory on a silver platter. It was Comey, who 12 days before the election, stated that the FBI was re-opening it’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails processed on a private server in Clinton’s basement. If Comey had kept his mouth shut, Hillary would now be sitting in the Oval Office. And for that, the thanks that Comey received from the president this past week was to be sacked as if he was the janitor in the J. Edgar Hoover building in Washington D.C.

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WATERGATE REDUX

Over this past weekend, Trump went on Twitter and accused the the Obama Administration of wire-tapping his phones during the 2016 election campaign. Of course, Trump didn’t offer a scintilla of fact or evidence to support this ludicrous accusation. It was obviously a ploy to deflect from the serious actuality of Russia interfering in the U.S. election on behalf of getting Trump elected to the Oval Office. Nevertheless, I’m sure that all the loyal Trumpenistas out there will take his Twitter comments at face value despite the lack of any proof. As Trump himself said during the recent campaign-he could shoot someone dead in the middle of Fifth Avenue, and there would still be no loss of support among his following. As part of his Twitter rant, Trump also likened Obama’s supposed wire-tapping to the infamous Watergate scandal of the early 1970s, and to Richard Nixon’s discredited behavior during those tumultuous times. So, since there are so many similarities between Nixon and the current White House occupant, I thought it relevant to review those dark times in American history.

In 1972, President Richard Nixon was running for re-election, and would go on to win in a massive landslide, carrying 49 states. Nevertheless, in June 1972, some criminal hacks, hired by the Committee to Re-Elect the President, (which would sardonically be referred to as CREEP) broke into Democratic Headquarters to obtain info on Democratic plans and strategy concerning the on-going presidential campaign. These Headquarters were located in the newly built and very posh Watergate Hotel and Apartment complex located on the banks of the Potomac in Washington D.C. The clumsiness of the burglars became evident as they were caught in the process of breaking and entering, and arrested by a very alert security guard for the complex. If not for this guard, the Watergate Scandal would likely never have materialized. Afterward, if Nixon had merely come forth and announced that he had no knowledge of the break-in, and that if anyone in his administration or re-election committee did sanction those criminal tactics, they would be immediately fired, there would also not have been a scandal. But Nixon suffered from a large degree of paranoia and a mis-guided sense of loyalty, which eventually led to his downfall.

Investigations into the Watergate events began to gather steam when 2 reporters for the “Washington Post” named Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, began digging deeper into what seemed like no more than a two-bit burglary gone bad. They cultivated an informant from CREEP whom they called “Deep Throat” (after a famous porno star of that era.) Political investigations of Watergate also began in February 1973, when a special committee was formed and chaired by a Democratic Senator. At that time, Democratic majorities prevailed in both houses of Congress. Today, with both houses controlled by Republican majorities, a similar investigation would likely not transpire. Between the Washington Post, and Congressional investigations, new facts related to Watergate began to dribble out on an almost daily basis. The nation collectively held its breath as each day seemingly brought forth more evidence concerning the Nixon Administration’s complicity in the break-in and the resulting cover-up.

It was the cover-up that, in the end, did the most damage. The on-going investigations revealed that Nixon’s closest aides, Bob Halderman, John Ehrilchman, and John Dean were all implicated in trying to cover-up the fact that the Committee to Re-Elect had hired these ham-fisted burglars in the first place. Nixon, much to his chagrin, was then forced to fire these men from his staff. Then it came to light that Nixon had secretly taped virtually all discussions held in the Oval Office, including conversations concerning the Watergate cover-up. On one of those tapes, where Watergate was explicitly being discussed, there existed an 18 minute gap in the conversation. It was theorized that this infamous 18 minute gap had contained conversation that would directly link Nixon to the cover-up, and that portion of the tape had, therefore, been deliberately erased. The 18 minute gap became known as the “smoking gun” that eventually would doom the Nixon presidency. The country continued to hold its breath, as if transfixed by each day’s new disclosures.

Based on this”smoking gun,” the House, in 1974, began to initiate impeachment proceedings against the president. While there were enough Republicans in the Senate to block conviction if they voted in unity, it soon became apparent that unity would not be the case. It became Sen. Barry Goldwater’s hapless task to trudge over to the White House and inform Nixon that very few Republicans in the Senate would support him if they had to vote on impeachment. Nixon no longer had a chance. His choices came down to either resignation or impeachment. On August 9, 1974, Richard Nixon became the first individual to resign the presidency. Vice-President Gerald Ford then ascended to the Oval Office, and one of his  first actions was to pardon Nixon from any criminal prosecutions. It probably cost Ford the election when he ran against Jimmy Carter in 1976.

So now we have our current president accusing our just departed president of illegal wire-tapping, based on nothing but the current president’s delusional paranoia and to deflect away from a growing scandal concerning Russia’s unauthorized interference in our recently concluded election. Another Watergate in the making, perhaps? To say nothing of Trump’s increasing similarity to Nixon’s behavior. During the campaign, Trump used the phrase-“the silent majority” when referring to his supporters. Nothing new here. Nixon’s the one who came up with that slogan when he ran for president in 1968. Trump’s other famous cliche-“Make America Great Again” also lacks any originality. Ronald Reagan was the one espousing that gem of triteness when he ran in 1980.

So, will Russian involvement in 2016 result in another Watergate. It could, if we had some young reporters out there with the diligence and feistiness of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. Stay tuned.

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PHILOSOPHICAL DIFFERENCES

Some time back, I wrote a piece called “Returning to The Days of Silent Cal.” It talked about the 6 years that Republican Calvin Coolidge was president of the United States, from 1922-1928, when the federal government did essentially….nothing. Outside of the State and War Departments and the Attorney-General’s office, there was little, if any, governmental expenditures. Coolidge, often known as Silent Cal for his taciturn image, who had inherited the presidency when Warren G. Harding died in office in 1922, often boasted that the federal budget was lower when he left in 1928, than when he first assumed the presidency in 1922. Coolidge was wildly popular because he served during the decade known as the “roaring twenties” when there was peace, prosperity and a booming stock market. Get-rich-quick schemes abounded everywhere, especially if they involved stock investments. Coolidge would easily have won re-election in 1928 but he decided not to run, stating that 10 years in the White House would have constituted the type of cruel and unusual punishment that’s forbidden by the U.S. Constitution.

Instead it fell to his hapless Republican vice-president, Herbert Hoover, to be the one sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office, when the roof finally caved in- big time. All the wild speculation on Wall Street, as we all know, led to the infamous stock market crash in October, 1929, and, from there, to the ensuing Great Depression of the 1930s. At the time, there was no Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) to put the reins on all the stock market manipulations and dishonest schemes that had abounded like weeds in an unkempt garden. Suddenly, as the Depression oozed across the landscape, tens of millions of Americans, who thought they would live out their lives in comfortable middle class existences, were plunged into dire poverty instead, begging for nickels and dimes on the streets, or standing in hours long unemployment lines. The Depression also resurrected a rather dormant Democratic Party, which swept Franklin Roosevelt into the presidency in a landslide in 1932. FDR then began the “New Deal” which, for the first time had the government spending large amounts of resources for “social welfare programs,” i.e., stuff that wasn’t related to fighting wars or other foreign affairs.

Under FDR’s New Deal, and in subsequent Democratic administrations, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid programs were enacted. The right for workers to organize into labor unions and the right for those unions to call a strike became law over 80 years ago, but has been fought every step of the way by conservative Republicans. And the Republicans seem to be winning their never ending battle against unions since membership is down to single digits in most unions still in existence. Also enacted by Democratic administrations were housing assistance programs, unemployment insurance benefits, disability benefits, healthcare insurance programs, and many other types of social welfare legislation. Of course, all these socials initiatives have helped balloon the cumulative public budget deficit to just under $20 trillion today, not exactly pocket change. Although it should be pointed out that it was conservative Republican Ronald Reagan that was the first president to spend like a drunken sailor, when he mushroomed the public deficit from $1 to $4 trillion during the 1980s. But his deficits occurred because of massive increases in military spending, which is fine and dandy in Republican mindsets.

So now we’re in 2017 with a fully Republican congress, and a Republican president promising to “drain the swamp” as well as “make America great again” among its many trite cliches. A large part of that effort will supposedly be to drastically cut back if not completely ax much of the social welfare initiatives enacted by liberal Democrats over more than 80 years. Perhaps taking us back to the days of Silent Cal, when the government essentially did nothing outside of defense and foreign affairs. And its not just about cutting expenditures. Its also about eliminating the many rules and regulations that govern much of the financial, business, banking, and Wall Street transactions that occur in our daily lives. Perhaps drastically reducing or eliminating the SEC so that would-be stock market shysters can once again flex their scheming muscles. In the end, it all comes down to philosophical differences concerning the size, scope, and involvement of government in the public square. It’s not only the amount of public expenditures, of course, but the level of taxes paid by the public as well. Republicans continually advocate for tax cuts for the rich, while Democrats are constantly trying to raise taxes on those wealthy that can well afford to pay the increases. Imagine that.

Not everything in government, however, is about spending money or creating oversight over financial transactions. There’s also the social side of the equation involving gay rights, abortion rights, and immigration. And there, strangely enough, conservatives and liberals appear to swap their philosophies concerning the extent of government involvement. Conservative Republicans demand strong government oversight to prevent gay marriage, deny a woman’s right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, and not only prevent illegal immigration, but sharply curtail the legal kind also. So what if there are no migrants to pick the fruit off the trees in Southern California. And no matter how much those actions may cost. Liberal Democrats, naturally, campaign for just the opposite. A woman’s right to choose, a couple’s right to choose, and for peaceful undocumented immigrants to be left alone. Philosophical differences with an unbridgeable divide, seemingly wider than the Grand Canyon.

Right now it’s the ultra-conservative Republicans that are holding vitally all the cards. The Democrats are still shell-shocked over the loss of the election. So it should be interesting to see if a Republican president and congress can roll back the size and scope of government so it more resembles the administration of Silent Cal. Except, of course, when it comes denying gay rights, abortions, and the right for illegal immigrants to live and work in peace. Then the sky’s the limit when it comes to government involvement.

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IN THE TRUMP ERA, BIG BROTHER MAY BE WATCHING YOU

It comes as no surprise that George Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece, “1984,” first published in 1949, is once again rising to the top of the New York Times best seller list. Apparently,  large numbers of people out there want a heads up on what to expect when the Trump Administration begins rolling into high gear. Will the already apparent similarities between “1984” the novel, and 2017 the actuality, grow even stronger as the months and years unfold, and the Trump regime assumes more and more dictatorial power, and Big Brother becomes ever more watchful and tyrannical. Time will tell.

In Orwell’s novel, by the year 1984, there are only 3 major political entities left in the world, and he focuses on the one that’s headquartered in London. It’s run by a despot known as Big Brother, with signs everywhere announcing that “Big Brother Is Watching You.” No one knows for sure if Big Brother even exists, but that’s unimportant. What is important is that the regime is so tyrannical in its thirst for power, that Big Brother watches you everywhere. In your home, your workplace, in the streets or stores, through electronic devices, Big Brother is always watching to assure that one’s behavior is totally in sync with the motives of the regime.  And it’s not enough to be docile and compliant with that regime. One must also have nothing but the purest benevolence toward Big Brother, or one would likely be accused of harboring “thoughtcrime.” Which would inevitably lead to he or she becoming an “unperson.” I don’t believe I have to spell out what that means. One other thing too. The 3 despotically run super powers left in the world are always at war with one another; but alliances are constantly shifting so that one’s enemy today could quickly become one’s ally the following week in it’s war against the third  tyrannical entity.

So, as I’ve mentioned, hordes of people are currently reading or re-reading “1984” to see if the same nightmare world that Orwell described fictionally, will come to pass under the Trump regime in actuality. The opening salvos seem unfortunately to be headed that way. From the time he sat down in the Oval Office about two weeks ago, Trump has issued a non-ending stream of “executive orders” on everything from the environment, to foreign travelers entering the U.S., to healthcare, to financial regulations and much more. As if they were edicts posted by the monarchy. Who needs that pain-in-the-ass, hyper-polarized Congress to actually pass legislation, anyway, when his royal majesty can just rule by edict. And since Congress is fully in Republican control, it seems to quite willingly abide by this arrangement. Of course Trump’s edict barring all visitors from 7 Moslem nations from entering the U.S. had something of a “Keystone Kop” aura about it. It was amateur at the White House at best. So much so, that a courageous judge in Seattle put a hold on its enforcement, much to the wrath and Twitter tirade of King Donald himself.

It’s important to note that Trump’s immigration executive order had nothing to do with keeping the U.S. safe from potential terrorist assaults. That could have been done by even more carefully vetting incoming visitors. Instead, this now infamous decree was all about throwing red meat to  the large section of his white base of voters that are xenophobic, nativist or outright bigots. This is what he promised them, and he was merely rewarding those people that put him in the White House to begin with. It’s also important to note that the finger prints of two of Trump’s closest aides are all over that decree. I’m, of course, referring to the two Stephens-Bannon and Miller, who are also leaders in the quasi-fascist Alt-Right movement. Steve Bannon, especially, who was Trump’s campaign manager, and is now one of his closest confidants in the Oval Office, used to be head of the white supremacist Breitbart News organization that was known for its conspiracy theories and for demonizing minorities. Now he’s in the Oval Office on a daily basis. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, if you don’t think that the real events in 2017 are not starting to resemble “1984.”

Trump, of course, predictably responded to the judge’s stop order, by publicly denouncing  him, similar to the way he denounced a judge in Indiana for being Hispanic, during the recently concluded campaign. He vowed that the stop order decision would be overturned by a higher court. And if not, will he just ignore the court’s rulings and do as he pleases? He already fired the Acting Attorney General the previous weekend, because she refused to enforce his anti-Moslem decree declaring she felt it was unconstitutional. The Constitution-what a quaint relic of bygone years. Who needs it when we can have Big Brother rule by edict. Edicts brought to him by Steve Bannon and Steve Miller.

As I’ve said many times in the past, in the end we do it to ourselves. “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Trump’s low poll numbers would seem to indicate that at least some of his voters may be having buyers remorse. But does it really matter anymore. My take is that once this crowd has seized power, as it has, it will never relinquish that power under any circumstances. George Orwell might have hit the nail squarely on the head. He just might have been a little premature in selecting the year it would happen. And remember, above all else, Big Brother is Watching You.

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WHEN CHARACTER NO LONGER COUNTS

One may agree or totally disagree with Barack Obama’s policies or overall politics, but one would have to admit that while he occupied the office of the presidency, he always conducted himself as a perfect gentleman. He was always cool under fire; he never went on Twitter rants against perceived opponents; he never engaged in long, on-running battles or feuds against those whom he felt were out to “get him;” and he certainly never engaged in vile, crude or lewd language when verbalizing in public media. He always displayed the proper decorum befitting someone that occupies the highest office in the land. One, of course, cannot say that of the current occupant of the White House, who just moved into the Oval Office a few days ago. Donald Trump’s politics are not only the polar opposite of Obama’s, but so  is his persona. Because of his deep-seated narcissism, Trump feels compelled to rather viscously strike back at those that bruise his ego. For example, Meryl Streep, perhaps the finest Hollywood actress since the end of WWII, becomes a second-rate loser via a Trump tweet, because she dared to criticize him at the academy awards.

We have thus entered an era of right-wing politics where character, obviously, no longer counts. Where statements such as, “she had blood coming out of her whatever,” or expressing a fondness on tape for “grabbing women by the pussy” becomes the new norm. Where even an innocuous statement by the media that the crowd at Trump’s inauguration was smaller than the one at Obama’s first inauguration in 2009 has to be attacked with what a Trump spokesperson described as “alternative facts.” A fascinating concept in itself.  If existing reality is too harsh to tolerate, just create your own parallel universe of delusion and “alternative facts.” Some turn to drugs or alcohol to drown out the reality of how miserable their lives have become. But why bother? Heavy drug or alcohol dependency will only lead to early death. Instead, just create a parallel universe of alternate facts where you can live as a king, or queen, as the case may be. Problem solved. Fascinating that in a country that has become the most prosperous and economically viable in the history of this planet, so many people felt it necessary  to choose a candidate that could only offer trite platitudes to soothe their concerns. Just print “Make America Great Again” on a baseball cap and all of the issues facing this nation will dissolve like an ice cube left outside in the hot sun.

Thus the Trump presidency has begun in predictable fashion. Among Trump’s appointees are an Attorney-General who couldn’t be less interested in civil rights issues, an Environmental Protection Agency administrator that has spent his career battling EPA initiatives in the courts with one suit after another, and a Department of Education secretary who has made a career out of attempting to destroy the public education system in this country, in favor of private schooling. The same public schools attended by at least 90% of the nation’s school children. And yet, the Trumpanistas are puzzled by and taking umbrage at the massive protest demonstrations occurring not only in Washington D.C., but in cities throughout not only the nation, but throughout the world as well. It seems that a trite cliche written on a baseball cap might not sell all that well after all , at least not in some quarters. Trump enters office with the lowest approval ratings of any president in the modern era. Something below 40 percent. In comparison, Obama’s approval when he first entered office in 2009 was up near 70 percent. And the roller-coaster ride is just beginning.

Of course, a decent opposition party might put the brakes on some of the current administration’s more radical initiatives. The trouble is, the Democrats are in a state of shambles. Hillary Clinton ran about the worst campaign in the history of politics. She lost Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin by a combined total of 100 thousand votes. States that any Democrat would normally win with just minimal effort, and that would have given her the presidency. She never even visited Wisconsin, made relatively few campaign appearances in general, and ran boring and mundane campaign ads on TV. For example, she didn’t run a single ad highlighting Trump’s business failures such as his 4 casino ventures in Atlantic City that went belly-up. Or the “Trump University” sham that also had to shutter down. Or the Trump line of vodka that also went out of business. I mean, how hard is it to sell vodka once the business is up and running. Instead her ads seemed to focus solely on some unhinged comments Trump made while on the campaign trail. Such ads were minimally okay for openers, but they were run incessantly, to the point that they eventually became boring. Bad television ads, a lack of campaign appearances, minimal effort to get Democratic voters to the polls-a sure recipe for defeat.

The Democrats need a young Lochinvar to come riding in on his magnificent steed and save the Party, but none appear to be in sight. A Bernie Sanders type but much younger. Without such a hero, Trump is almost guaranteed a full eight years in the Oval Office. Assuming, of course, that he wises up and learns to stay off Twitter, and otherwise not respond to every perceived slight or offensive comment. If he can keep his narcissism under control, he could have rather smooth sailing during his administration. If not, the U.S. is in for a very rocky and tumultuous four years.

After all, we do live in an age when character doesn’t matter anymore. Don’t we?

 

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FROM CIVIL RIGHTS TO THE ALT-RIGHT: A NATION’S MORAL DECLINE

It took less than 60 years, 56 to be precise, for the United States to go from electing a president that would champion the cause of civil rights for blacks and other minorities, to electing a president that intends to further the cause of white supremacy and privilege. In 1960, a young John F. Kennedy would squeak out a narrow win for the presidency over Richard Nixon. With brother Bobby as attorney-general, JFK set out to tear down the walls of Jim Crow segregation that had permeated throughout the entire South. A system whereby blacks had to attend separate schools from whites, drink from separate water fountains, sit at separate lunch counters, sit in segregated sections when attending sports events or movies, and on and on. Of course, blacks were strictly forbidden from living or buying property in white neighborhoods. And black people usually found it all but impossible to vote in public elections in virtually every district throughout the South. But the early 1960s were also a time when a young black minister named Martin Luther King Jr., with the backing of the president and the attorney-general, began organizing huge protest marches and civil-disobedience throughout the South to attack this system of second-class citizenry. A system of semi-slavery that had lasted 100 years after Lincoln had ended the existing system of formal slavery.

The peaceful protests and civil-rights marches of those days eventually achieved their desired results as the walls of Jim Crow semi-slavery began to crumble into dust. But not before a slew of both black and white civil-rights workers were murdered along the way by the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacists. And tragically, by 1968, both Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King were all dead at the hands of different assassins. And to be clear, racial hatred and discrimination didn’t exist only in the South. There was plenty of that in the North as well, minus a formalized legal system of Jim Crow segregation. But when Lyndon Johnson took over the presidency after JFK’s murder, and signed the civil rights act of 1964, black people were at least free to participate in U.S. elections without fear of reprisal. The tumultuous 1960s were also a time of massive protests and civil disobedience against America’s ill-fated entry into the Viet-Nam war. When that debacle ended in the early 1970s, and with the successes of the civil-rights movement, it seemed as if America’s worst days were behind it. Sadly, this was not to be.

Now fast-forward to 2016 where the winning presidential candidate, also by the narrowest of margins, is definitely not a civil-rights proponent. Instead he is praised by the KKK and other white-supremist groups as being their kind of guy. One of these hate groups is oddly referred to as the Alt-Right, presumably meaning alternative right wing. A rather benign sounding term to cover up its underlying racist intentions. A former leader of the Alt-Right, a man named Stephen Bannon, eventually became Donald Trump’s campaign manager, and will now sit in the White House on a daily basis as Trump’s co-chief of staff. A rather comforting vision to start off the new year of 2017, wouldn’t you say? So who, or what is the Alt-Right. Well, according to one of its current leaders named Jeff Schoep, their decision to dispense with using the swastika as its symbol was “an attempt to become more integrated and more mainstream.” An attempt to make racial hatred seem more like the norm. Their central belief is that white identity has become endangered by what they deride as this era of dangerous diversity and political correctness. But though they may no longer use the Nazi swastika as their symbol, the name of their game is still white supremacy over blacks and virulent anti-semitism.

When Trump, early in the campaign, promised to build a wall to keep out Mexican immigrants, whom he described as murderers and rapists, the Alt-Right raised its collective head to listen. One movement leader, a retired school teacher from Dallas, who grew up in a family opposed to desegregation, stated: “I’ve been waiting to hear those words from a mainstream political leader all my life. We don’t have any power, – but now we’re suddenly close enough to smell it.” After Trump’s victory, the Alt-Right held a conference in Washington under the leadership of its president, a 38 year-old man named Richard Spencer, who fashions himself as the coming American Il Duce. He wears his hair in an undercut style called a “fashy” as in fascist. “Race is real” he said “Race matters. Race is the foundation of identity.” Of course, this Alt-Right movement is supposedly distinct from old-line white supremacist fascists, bigots, race-haters and Jew-haters such as the KKK. But early in the election campaign, when David Duke, former grand dragon of the KKK enthusiastically endorsed the Trump candidacy, it took The Donald two days to eventually choke out an-“okay, I disavow the endorsement,” after repeated grilling by the media.

So, welcome to the world, circa 2017. The year 1961 stared off with a new president in the White House committed to achieving racial equality for minorities that were afflicted by Jim Crow prejudice, bigotry and segregation. The new president in 2017, about to enter the Oval Office, is a man seemingly adored by those very same bigots and haters. But that’s not even the most disturbing part about all of this.  Even more upsetting is the fact that candidate Trump figured out that there there was all this bigotry still in existence among the white population. Enough so that he could win by achieving such an overwhelming portion of the white vote, that it was more than sufficient enough to offset the minority voters opposition to him. And he was right. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

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SIFTING THROUGH THE RUBBLE

By 2011, Hosni Mubarak had been ruling Egypt for almost 30 years, by the imposition of a type of benevolent dictatorship. While he undertook certain economic reforms and initiatives that benefitted the Egyptian people, there was no question that he ruled with an iron fist. He was finally overthrown in 2011 by the Army, and then prosecuted and convicted on charges of corruption and other misdeeds, and sent to jail. The Army ruled Egypt for awhile after Mubarak’s fall, and then paved the way for that country to have its first democratically held election in ages. That election, held in 2013, pitted 2 candidates against each other. One was the Army general who had led the coup against the Mubarak regime, while the other represented the Muslim Brotherhood. It should have been a no-brainer as to which candidate was better for the Egyptian people, but it didn’t turn out that way.

For those unfamiliar with Mid-Eastern politics, the Muslim Brotherhood is an organization founded in the 1920s to promote the most fundamentalist and radical brand of Islam within Egypt. While Egypt is one of the more secular Arab states, the Brotherhood’s stated objective was to reverse this course, and create a system whereby Muslim Imams would have final rule over the everyday workings of Egyptian life. Every aspect of that life would require an Islamic litmus test. Sort of like the way those crazy kids, the Ayatollahs in Iran, despotically govern that country. Anyone not adhering to their vision of fundamental Islamic tenets is usually properly disposed of, one way or another. So this was the goal of the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, a fellow named Morsi. And it wasn’t as if the Brotherhood attempted to disguise or in any way alter that organization’s objectives. They were out in plain view for all to observe.

Nevertheless, when election time came, the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate Morsi, received 53% of the popular vote, in what appeared to be an open and reasonably honest election process. Morsi became President of Egypt, and surprise, surprise, began to actually implement the Brotherhood’s agenda. When the populace viewed what was happening they entered a state of shock. How could this be, they cried, as if the facts were not well known ahead of time. In desperation the people cried out for the Army to save them from becoming a fundamentalist Islamic state like Iran. Finally the Army did intervene, and overthrew and jailed Morsi and his cohorts, and Egypt returned to its mostly secular underpinnings. But this was yet another example of how the people do it to themselves; of how “we have met the enemy and he is us” reality, as Pogo said decades ago.

I bring this up because unlike Egypt, the Army cannot save the U.S. from the folly of the just concluded election results that puts a pathological narcissist without an ounce of empathy into the White House. Nor should it. In this country we have a solid tradition of civilian control over the military, and above all else, it should just remain so. Besides, even though she conducted one of the worse campaigns ever run for the presidency, Hillary did win the election, or at least the popular vote. It was that system from the dark ages known as the electoral college that gives Trump possession of the Oval Office. The second time in 16 years that Republicans have  benefitted from this archaic relic. No wonder they fight off every attempt to abolish this undemocratic and ludicrous  system. So, although the missteps of the Clinton camp are almost too numerous to list, I thought I would mention just a few of the more obvious ones.

Start with the Clinton campaign TV ads. They all seemed to portray Trump in his more unhinged and deranged campaign moments. That’s okay for awhile but you need a lot more diversity. No mention was ever made of the four Trump casino fiascos in Atlantic City, each of which went belly-up in short order. Trump campaigned on a platform of being a shrewd businessman that would be creating jobs, but how many thousands lost their jobs when each of Trump’s casino ventures went bankrupt. I fully expected some TV ads featuring those that lost their jobs during that period of time, but none came. There was also no mention of the Trump University scam for which he’s being sued, and which may go to trial before inauguration. In addition, Clinton never forthrightly addressed her reckless email debacles. She could have bought some TV time, and explained that while it was a mistake to set-up servers in her home, no U.S. interests were harmed or compromised by this process. Her email fiasco was probably the prime reason a chunk of the population refused to vote for her.

In the final weeks of the campaign, Trump was making 5 or more campaign stops before crowds of thousands, while Clinton made barely one or two. Clinton lost 3 states that normally vote Democratic by a combined total of less than 120 thousand votes. Had she carried those three states, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, she would have won the election. The reason she lost those three was that the black vote did not turn out in near the numbers that voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012. In the end, it was basically a lack of hustle and energy that cost Hillary the presidency. Perhaps her campaign became way over-confident based on faulty poll projections. I could go on but you get the picture of how the Democrats snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

So now we’re left with the rubble of watching the Republicans not only taking over the White House, but also controlling both houses of Congress. Watch for an agenda of tax cuts for the rich while slashing governmental assistance to the poor, the sick and the elderly. As well as anti-abortion (Roe V. Wade will become history once Ruth Ginsberg retires from the Supreme Court), anti-gay rights, and anti-immigration. And lets not forget that “beautiful wall” to be built on the Mexican border. As well as the deportation of millions of Hispanics from the U.S. Fun times- they are a-coming.

 

 

Categories: Ben Franklin, The Constitution, Monarchies, Brexit, Donald Trump, Alan Greenspan, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, presidential polls,, 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

AMERICA’S LONG-LASTING NIGHTMARE

When David Letterman retired not long ago from almost 30 years of late night television, I thought the opening scene on his final show was especially unique. It featured ex-presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and current president Barack Obama all repeating the same statement-“America’s long-lasting national nightmare is finally over”. It was obviously made in reference to the fact that Letterman was retiring from television broadcasting. Letterman then looked at Obama, the last president to make this pronouncement and said-“Come on, you guys are just kidding, right?” Obama then stared back at him with a harsh, stern look on his face, as if to indicate that this was no laughing matter. Letterman then had a look of shock and dismay on his face, as if he’s suddenly wondering if he was, indeed, America’s long national nightmare. It was a subtle but funny bit, well played by all participants. And while David Letterman was not, of course, America’s long, national nightmare, the election of 2016, which ends tomorrow, would certainly qualify for that title.

The election from Hell, as it has been defined in many circles, wound up being a contest between the two most despised figures on the current election scene. The invective and quality of meanness hurled at each other by the two participants, was virtually unprecedented. Today, finally, is the last day that we, the public, will have to endure such mean-spirited TV ad mudslinging, as well as serial mendacity. But the worst possible scenario for tomorrow’s balloting would be if the election results were not conclusive. With the polls showing that the contest is tightening, a clear winner might not be determined by tomorrow night. If there are narrow margins in key states, recounts will be demanded and charges of a “rigged election” will almost certainly emanate from the Trump camp. Court fights will ensue and threats of violence will almost certainly be heard. It could be a replay of the 2000 presidential election, which Al Gore actually won, but which victory was handed to George W. Bush by the Supreme Court, who decided in December, that Bush had won the state of Florida’s 29 electoral college votes. This decision was based on a vote tally by Florida’s Republican Secretary of State, who claimed that Bush was ahead in that state by a couple of hundred votes out of millions cast. The Supreme Court, by a vote of 5 to 4 backed her decision not to allow a state-wide recount. Bush was then declared president even though Al Gore had won the popular vote by several millions.

The current election polls have been narrowing since James Comey, FBI director, announced on day 11 before the election, that the FBI was reopening what was thought to be a closed case regarding Clinton’s email debacle. It seemed to be the last straw against voting for Clinton by the undecideds. (Still hard to believe that people could remain undecided, after all that has ensued since more than a year ago.) Then, yesterday Comey once again reversed course, and stated that no new evidence was found that would warrant a criminal indictment of Hillary. But this latter statement may have come too late to save Clinton’s candidacy. If anything, Clinton should have been taken to task for felony stupidity. Knowing that she had presidential aspirations, she recklessly established servers in her home to send and receive emails, including work related email, some of which contained classified government information. A clear violation of State Department protocols. But worse still, it gave her Republican opposition a club to batter her over the head with. This is why Democrats lose elections-breathtakingly gross political incompetence.

So tomorrow may finally end America’s long-suffering nightmare, or it might just get worse. If Hillary wins, as damaged as she is, the country and its democratic processes will nevertheless survive. But if Trump edges out a victory, the republic that Ben Franklin gave us 240 years ago, with the proviso that “if we can keep it,” will likely be extinguished. Trump will rule the U.S. as his buddy, Vladimir Putin rules Russia. Which is Mafia-style, with Putin being the boss of bosses, or the godfather, reigning over a system of crony capitalism, whereby his cronies get all the capital and the rest of the Russian populace is left to drown their sorrows in cheap Russian vodka. Russia does go through the motions of having national elections, but the outcomes are always predetermined in Putin’s favor. Talk about “rigged” voting. There is a congress, but it acts as a rubber stamp for Putin’s initiatives. Court decisions, also, always go in Putin’s favor. To take the Russian populace’s mind off how bad their economy and standard of living are, Putin initiates wars in the Crimea, in the Ukraine, (which have now cost thousands of lives), and more recently in Syria where the death toll at Russian hands is also in the thousands. I might add that, like Trump, Putin is also a pathological narcissist, that doesn’t take too kindly to criticism or opposition.

If Trump is allowed to enter the White House come January, look for him to rule, initially, through a series of “executive orders.” Congressional or court opposition will grow more and more meaningless and remote as time passes on. Eventually those executive orders will turn to edicts, and, as in Russia, both congress and the courts will become rubber stamps to the will of the dictator. If a sham presidential election is allowed in 2020, it will just become a reaffirmation of how wonderful of our “dear leader” is. Eventually, the task of ruling the U.S. with an iron fist will be handed over to sons Eric and Donald Jr., when the old man decides to retire. And remember, above all else, that pathological narcissists never like to get their egos bruised, and never take kindly to those that would dare such foolish behavior.

Categories: A malfunctioning psche, Brexit, Donald Trump, Alan Greenspan, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, presidential polls,, Joe McCarthy, McCarthyism, World War II, Viet-Nam, Anti-Communist Witch Hunts, Army-McCarthy hearings, Islamic Jihadist terrorism, Soviet Union, Red China, politics, Ronald Reagan | Leave a comment

AMATEUR HOUR AT DEMOCRATIC HEADQUARTERS

One must first recognize that all of politics is basically a sales job. The better the salesman (or woman), the more likely that he or she will prevail in the general election. In 2016 there’s no question that through the use of demagoguery, bombast and bullying, Trump is far more effective at salesmanship than Clinton. The fact that unlike husband Bill, Hillary’s natural political skills are sorely lacking, especially when campaigning before large audiences,  is obvious to even the most casual observer. While, for Trump, his abilities in exciting large crowds to buy into his demagogic and delusional promises is virtually unmatched in modern times. One has to go back to Hitler and Mussolini, almost a century ago, to find comparative skills in unbridled demagoguery. Thus, the only thing holding Trump back from enjoying a commanding lead in this race is Trump himself. His vile, vulgar, disgusting, and pathologically narcissist personality, shines through loud and clear, and tends to offset his natural salesmanship talents. His lewd and pornographic remarks about women, his inherent racism toward Hispanics, Chinese and others, his serial lies about the current administration and the state of world affairs, plus other nasty characteristics do tend to be rather off-putting. His unhinged and delusional mind-set might also give pause to those imagining his fingers on the nuclear trigger.

All that would tend to create a plausible explanation as to why Hillary had, until recently, a rather commanding lead in most polls. With this latest kerfuffle, however, initiated by FBI chief James Comey, concerning her entire email debacle, that lead seems to be shrinking rapidly. But let’s start at the beginning. When she was Secretary of State, Hillary decided to set up a private server in the basement of her residence in New York, to correspond by email. Which would have been fine if only private emails were conducted through those servers. (There were more than one server.) If the only thing being sent or received were recipes for chicken pot pie, or arrangements for daughter Chelsea’s upcoming wedding, etc., no scandal would have emerged. But Hillary, in reckless disregard for the reality of American politics, allowed emails concerning official State Department business to also be processed through those unprotected servers. Some of those emails supposedly contained highly classified information. Not only was this a clear violation of State Department protocols, but it created a situation whereby foreign enemies could have easily hacked into her servers and obtained that info.

It would have been one thing if Hillary was planning to retire from politics when she stepped down as Secretary of State. No one would have given this a second thought. But knowing that she had presidential aspirations, it was beyond recklessness to establish such an email arrangement. The first rule of politics is to never knowingly hand your opponents a weapon they can use against you in upcoming elections; and she deliberately handed the Republicans a beauty. As I’ve said, this is reckless in the extreme. Thus, when the GOP started a nonstop drum beat about Clinton’s unprotected private servers, the FBI was more or less forced to investigate. After a lengthy study, FBI Director Comey made a public announcement that while Clinton had been extremely careless and irresponsible, the FBI believed there were no grounds for criminal prosecution. This, of course didn’t stop GOP stalwarts from denouncing the FBI conclusion, or from wearing tee shirts with a “Hillary For Prison” pronouncement on them. Comey was routinely denounced as an Administration lackey by Republicans, while being lauded by Democrats for his honesty and objectivity. A collective sigh of relief was breathed at Democratic headquarters.

However, just 11 days before the nightmare election of 2016 would come to an end, Comey reversed course. He had obviously been taking too much heat from the Republican Congress and others on the right, to make living bearable. He, thus, announced that the FBI would re-open the Clinton email investigation based on new evidence that came to light. To make matters worse, this evidence, he stated,  consisted of thousands of newly discovered Clinton emails found on the computer of one Anthony Wiener, who is the spouse of one of Hillary’s closest associates.  The same former ex-congressman who is under investigation by the FBI for child pornography. Fresh emails, a disgraced ex-congressman, kiddie porn- all mixed together in the same narrative. It’s like one Republican congressman stated- “Christmas has arrived in October.”  Of course, at Democratic headquarters, there was nothing but panic and dismay as they watched Hillary’s lead in the polls begin to evaporate like the morning mist.

Being the pathetic rank amateurs that Democratic operatives usually are, they could come up with no better response to this sudden turn of events than denouncing Comey (who they had previously praised) and calling for a more detailed explanation of this new FBI initiative. No ringing protestation from Hillary that while she may have erred in judgement regarding her private servers, no laws were broken. No U.S. interests or security had been compromised, etc. That she was, by far, the better candidate. Of course Trump, who had denounced Comey’s previous decision to end the investigation, was now singing his praises to the roof. Thus is the day-to-day nature of politics. And people wonder why only half the eligible population shows up to cast a ballot for president on election day. Even less in an off year contest.

The reason that Republicans win  so many elections is not because they have a superior agenda. If anything, their platform appeals to the most narrow-minded of the U.S. populace. They reason they win, however, is that their campaigns are organized and run by political pros who actually know what they’re doing when playing the game of politics. While the Democrats have rank amateurs orchestrating their so-called political operations. It’s like a major league baseball team playing against a minor, bush league class AA team. So unless the Democrats can come up with another tape of Trump bellowing additional profanities, the election seems to be headed toward a GOP victory. With all its ensuing horrors.

 

 

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APPEALING TO THE WORST OF US

I have often wondered what it is in the human psyche that results in millions, or tens of millions, of people to enthusiastically and slavishly support some one as vile, vulgar and reprehensible as a Donald Trump. Some one who has openly put on daily display an astonishing array of non-stop mendacity, pathological narcissism, a bullying persona, a profound ignorance of world affairs, the most disgustingly lewd remarks affecting women, and a total dearth of anything resembling human compassion and empathy. The conclusion I’ve come to (which isn’t a pretty one), is that a large number of people out there cannot accept responsibility for the failings in their lives. If they’ve made some really bad choices in life it has to be the fault of others. If they can’t achieve a decent job or career, it’s because of those illegal Mexicans taking away their job opportunities. It couldn’t possibly be that they have failed to put in the time and effort necessary to attain marketable job skills. It has to be the illegals who comprise less than 3.5% of the U.S. populations and are usually employed in jobs most Americans won’t accept. Like performing gardening chores in blazingly hot 110 degree summers that we’re so familiar with in Las Vegas.

When you combine blaming others for the feelings of inadequacy one possesses, one has a bullying-type persona in the making. Nothing like searching for some one weaker to beat up on, in order to alleviate those nagging feelings of self-loathing. This creates the perfect world for the demagogue to step into and rile up the masses to his benefit. We all know how effectively and destructively demagoguery was used in the 20th century by the likes of Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Mao, Saddam Hussein, and others. Now we have our own, home-grown demagogue on the threshold of achieving absolute power. Besides all the inane, mendacious comments Trump has previously made, which I’ve chronicled in previous pieces, his latest ones show a cynical appetite for unprecedented recklessness. Send Hillary to jail because of her email fiasco, presumably without her Constitutional right to due process, is one of his more recent pronouncements.  The Trumpinistas at his rallies cry “Hillary for prison.” Blind, unthinking demagoguery. His latest rant is that the election is “rigged.” This gives Trump the best of two worlds. If he wins, he can say that he’s so magnificent that despite a rigged election system he was able to overcome. If he loses, he will say that he would have won but for the way the Democrats and the media conspired to deprive him of his earned victory. This will allow him grounds to challenge the election results well after November 8. Remember that the election really isn’t over until the Electoral College casts its vote.

One has to go back 60 years in American history, to the 1950s, to find another demagogue who built his fame by destroying others through a reckless disregard for truth and honesty. I’m talking about Joe McCarthy, affectionately called Tail-Gunner Joe, and the era of anti-communist hysteria the gripped America at that time. McCarthy’s fame and potential rise to dictatorship came from declaring that the U.S. government and many powerful institutions such as Hollywood, major corporations, and others  were riddled with Communists whose loyalty was solely to the old Soviet Union. He called hundreds of witnesses before his Senate committee, often declaring they were Communist spies or sympathizers, usually without a shred of evidence. Dozens of innocent lives were destroyed by McCarthy’s unfounded allegations in hearings before his Senate committee. Some committed suicide. McCarthy declared that if you disagreed with him you were obviously a Communist, a Commie sympathizer or a “Pinko.” He had an almost identical belligerent, bullying personality as Trump has today. But McCarthy traveled a bridge too far when he assailed the U.S.Army as being loaded with Communists. That led to the famous Army-McCarthy televised hearings, where, in response to McCarthy’s unfounded allegations, the Army’s counsel shouted out- “Have you no shame sir. Have you no shame.” Finally exposed for the fraud that he was, McCarthy began losing followers and started drinking heavily. By the late 1950s, McCarthy had drank himself to death.

So what would it take to expose today’s demagogue for the fraud he really is. Perhaps the knowledge of who’s behind the scene fueling his campaign. Trump has put this Kellyanne person with a pretty face on TV news channels as his campaign spokeswoman. But the real power behind the throne is a man named Steve Bannon, who definitely does not have a pretty face, but rather a sordid background. Bannon comes from a far right-wing fringe group known as Breitbart News that likes to dabble in extremist causes with overtones of fascism. His ex-wife has called him out for spousal abuse, and uttering anti-semitic statements. Its Bannon’s input that has led to Trump statements that “she has to go to jail.” Presumably, this would happen without a trial or due process were  Trump allowed to achieve his ultimate goal. Another power figure behind the scenes is Corey Lewandowski, who managed Trump’s 2012 campaign which based on being a “Birther,” i.e. claiming Barack Obama was really born in Kenya, and thus, was not a U.S. citizen. The fraudulence of that effort was exposed early on, and Trump had to call it quits. The fraudulence of Trump’s 2016 campaign, however, is still seeing the light of day.

The election is 3 weeks from today. Nothing less is at stake than whether the U.S. continues to function as a democratic republic, or becomes a fascist-type dictatorship. After all, appealing to the worst of society has paid off for ruthless tyrants many times in the past.

Categories: Brexit, Donald Trump, Alan Greenspan, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, presidential polls,, Economics, Huey Long, Franklin Roosevelt, Great Depression, The Kingfish,Donald Trump, Joe McCarthy, McCarthyism, World War II, Viet-Nam, Anti-Communist Witch Hunts, Army-McCarthy hearings, Islamic Jihadist terrorism, Soviet Union, Red China | Leave a comment

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