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                           Demagoguery and the Dangers of the Demise of Democracy

                                                                     Dr. Tiffany B. Twain, Creator of the Earth Manifesto                                                                                                                                            December 27, 2016

We should all laugh together at the perceptive insight in the wry cartoon that appeared recently in the New Yorker: "My desire to be well-informed is currently at odds with my desire to remain sane."  An existential Ha!  Humor is good for the soul, but make no mistake about it, these are trying times for our souls, and the information and perspective in this essay could change the world, and do so in a Solon-wise way that could positively and providentially resolve our unfolding national nightmare and set our country onto a more star-spangled course than the direction in which it seems to be headed today.  At this crucial juncture in history, American citizens cannot afford to shrink from engaging and participating in our democratic decision-making.  So please read on for context, in advance of a radically good common sense proposal.

Hope springs eternal, and it can be a beautiful thing.  Let’s seriously acknowledge that helping actualize the hopes, dreams and aspirations of the American people is strongly correlated to honest efforts to make our country fairer and more inclusive, and to share prosperity and security more broadly.

Remember, as you read these words, the perspective that Mark Twain expressed about an honorable sense of patriotism when he said, "My kind of loyalty was loyalty to one's country, not to its institutions or its officeholders."  True patriots believe that "liberty and justice for all" are not just mere words for us to mindlessly recite in a pledge of allegiance to the state, but are, in truth, basic commitments to our fellow citizens that we all desire to live together in an inclusive nation, and one governed by a Constitution and respect for assurances contained in both the Bill of Rights and the rules of law that have evolved throughout the 240 years since the colonists declared independence from despotic rule.

Right now, we face a stark national emergency.  When the wise Benjamin Franklin was asked what kind of government the Founders had created after the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, he replied, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”  Here we are today and our democratic Republic is under serious threat.  Please read these words carefully, and think about these ideas.  This threat is not just from an unbalanced domination of the federal government by a Republican president-to-be and narrow Republican majorities in the Senate and House and a Supreme Court that is soon likely to be once again dominated by ideological conservatives.  No, this is a much more critical threat.  There is a very valid cause for the American people to have deep concerns that we will not be able to keep our democratic republic much longer, and here’s why.

A demagogue has become the president-elect.  A demagogue is a “rabble-rouser” leader in a democracy “who gains popularity by exploiting prejudice and ignorance among the common people, whipping up the passions of the crowd and shutting down reasoned deliberation,” according to Wikipedia.  Ominously, many demagogues throughout history who were elected to high office “changed their democracy into some form of dictatorship.”  This is not mere hyperbole.

Alert!  Ponder this idea and understand what it is all about.  Democracies have one specific fundamental weakness:  “because ultimate power is held by the people, nothing stops the people from giving that power to someone who appeals to the lowest common denominator of a large segment of the population” -- or who appeals to tribal in-group fundamentalism and the basest psychological motivations of the citizenry. 

“Good grief, Charlie Brown!”  Our American norms and values are under concerted assault in the wake of this longest and most viscous campaign season in history, so perhaps we all need to go to Lucy’s booth:  Psychiatric Help 5¢ -- The Doctor Is In.  Charlie Brown was a “lovable loser” and an ultimate survivor in overcoming being bullied, and today we all need help in healing, and in steeling ourselves against the terrible turbulence in political affairs in coming days and months and years if courageous steps are not taken ASAP to reduce inequalities and injustices in our American society.

Think about this possibility that the United States could become some type of authoritarian dictatorship.  Donald Trump has acted like a demagogue by channeling each and every one of the twelve main methods used by demagogues throughout history, in many times and places, to gain popularity and support and loyalty and power.  These recurring techniques used by demagogues are described at length in the Wikipedia entry for “Methods of demagogues”, under the general entry for Demagogue.  Consider these manipulative methods in light of your own scrupulously honest impressions of exactly how Mr. Trump acted in his campaign to become our leader.  The twelve main tactics used by demagogues are:

(1)  Scapegoating others and blaming the troubles of one group on another group.

(2)  Hijacking people's emotions through fear mongering to stir support and torpedo rational deliberation.

(3)  Lying with little regard for facts or evidence, and distorting the relative severity of risks faced.

(4)  Using emotional oratory at rally events and personal force of personality to Question the legitimacy of opponents and provoke suspicions and even hatred of people in opposing factions.

(5)  Accusing rivals of weakness and disloyalty, and even advocating brutality to demonstrate strength, and arguing that empathetic understanding and compassion are signs of weakness that enemies will exploit.

(6)  Promising the impossible in order to spark an emotionally motivating effect on audiences, without being concerned for how such promises could be accomplished, and without any real intention to honor the promises once in office, and secretly scheming to betray the people.

(7)  Repetitiously hurling personal insults and ridicule at others to shut down reasoned deliberation of competing ideas.

(8)  Using vulgarity and acting with outrageous and abusive behaviors.

(9)  Engaging in folksy posturing and pretending that they are like ordinary people whose votes they seek.

(10)  Grossly oversimplifying issues and using deceptive slogans in a campaign.

(11)  Encouraging supporters to bully opponents and even violently intimidate them.

(12)  Intemperately attacking anyone in the news media and on social media today that is critical of their rhetoric, strategies or policies.

Demagogues have appeared in democracies ever since times of classical antiquity in Athens, the birthplace of democracy.  And throughout all of history, shrewd demagogues have made many promises and broken them, and deceived the masses to gain power, and abused power for often-nefarious and generally socially disastrous purposes.

Mark Twain once reputedly made an interesting observation that is relevant here:  “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”  The repetitious rhyme of Trump's extremely divisive, inflammatory and danger-engendering tactics should cause every American to snap to alert attention.  Actions and deeds, not words and rhetoric, are what really determine the true nature of a person's character.  Since many of Trump’s electioneering ruses violated the public trust and are coming home to roost in the form of policies that will increase the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few -- and provide what appears to be fertile ground for an unfolding malfeasance in his approaching rule -- the American people must decide what course of action to take. 

“The concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few is the death knell of democracy.”

                                                                                             --- Garrison Keillor, We’re Not in Lake Wobegon Anymore

Make no mistake about it: Trump was always a Trojan horse for the 0.01 percent.  And now he’s forming a government of, by, and for the very elites he campaigned against.”  He is acting like a con artist, and a conniving deceiver.  His choices of billionaires, hard right ideologues and hard-liner military generals for his Cabinet confirm this characterization.  Trump voters have been taken in by a shameless fraud, and all Americans will likely come to regret it. 

As Mr. Trump proceeds with transforming his demagogic deceit and emotional manipulation into far worse outcomes for the populace, it appears that he does NOT intend to fix our rigged system, but to rig it even more unfairly."  So sad!"

Let’s give credit where credit is due.  Donald Trump deserves acclaim for his performance in vanquishing all 16 of his primary election opponents, and then trumping Hillary Clinton in the general election.  Amazing performance!  Let’s give him a biggest award in world history!  But now, the gig is up.  Things will end very badly for everyone concerned if he keeps up his current charade of double crossing the American people.

Imagine if Mr. Trump had won the popular vote by almost 3 million votes but Hillary Clinton had won the Electoral College on November 8th, and then it came to light that a foreign power had meddled in the election to throw the outcome of the contest.  Republicans would not be playing nice and issuing concessionary nostrums about the need for a peaceful transition of power.  NO!  They would be filing lawsuits everywhere like they did to stop the recount in Florida in the year 2000 that handled the presidency to George W. Bush, at a colossal eventual cost to the American people in economic, military and social terms.  Republicans would be hyping up outrage every minute on every TV channel and in every newspaper, and talk radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh would be amping up vituperative attacks until a crescendo was reached and a Constitutional crisis forced Trump’s opponent to concede.  Imagine furthermore that Hillary had been naming the most left-wing Cabinet in American history between Election Day and December 19th, and it is easy to see that Republican outrage would be like a destructive succession of tsunami waves battering the coast of our collective consciousness.

The original purpose of this essay was to set forth broadly convincing reasons for a groundswell of grassroots energy to rise up in opposition to the unscrupulous and illegitimate authority that is in the process of being seized and abused by this demagogic master manipulator and his loyalists, and to thereby resoundingly convince Electoral College electors not to vote for Donald Trump on December 19.  Now that this fateful date has come and gone without the Electors taking an expansive view of their Constitutional responsibilities, my revised purpose is to seek to have Vice President Joe Biden get the U.S. Senate to confirm the moderate and exceptionally well qualified judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court on January 3, 2017 during the transition of power from the last Congress to the next one.  This action would serve as a last bulwark against demagogic totalitarian rule that threatens our cherished freedoms, as clearly set forth in my Open Letter to Vice President Joe Biden.

The subtitle of this essay, until December 19 passed, was an optimistic, --- Is the Pen Mightier than Illegitimate Authority?  Too bad my efforts have so far proved NOT to be!

Republicans owe all Americans this one fair-minded reassurance to establish a last "check and balance" that will serve to protect our personal liberties and well-being.  They owe us this because of the rudely illegitimate litany of ways they have gained domineering power and stolen a Supreme Court seat, at the long-term expense of fairer jurisprudence for the people.

Think about this!  In all fairness, politicians should try to win elections by honestly offering the people good plans for improving their prospects and overall security.  Instead, here is how Republicans won.  He blatantly used demagogic emotional hijacking, con man cajolery, dishonest bait-and-switch trickery, hard-times swindles, hiding of tax return information and other insidious intrigues.  Add to this the fact that the election was thrown to a Trump advantage by the unprecedented intervention by the Director of the FBI in the last 11 days before the election, and that there was treacherous Russian cyber-hacking interference in American politics and a drumbeat of WikiLeaks leaks that helped give Trump unwarranted support.  And Trump scurrilously set fire, like a scheming firefighter who has secretly become a flagrant arsonist, to the dry tinder of white identity insecurities and resentments in his brazen bid to get attention and grab power. And there is also the scurrilous fact that Trump gained an unfair advantage from the rigging of our election system by means of corrupt gerrymandering and voter suppression laws that Republican legislatures passed in many states after a narrow 5 to 4 majority of ideological conservatives on the Supreme Court chose to eviscerate the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

It seems perfectly clear that Trump won only technically, NOT “fair and square”, and not ethically, not morally, and not socially responsibly.  And his ego-driven triumph does not bode well for the prospects of any of our heirs in future generations. 

Here is a powerful reason to maintain an independent judiciary.  The American Civil Liberties Union stated before the election that Mr. Trump represents “a one man Constitutional crisis".  According to the ACLU analysis, all of Trump’s rhetorical proposals taken together would violate the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Eighth Amendments to the Constitution in the Bill of Rights, so Trump in many respects appears to be engaged in a devious plot against the best interests of the vast majority of the American people, and he presents a clear and present danger to our personal freedoms and democracy.  Only a strong court system can now provide assurances against excessive tyranny.

Political authority depends on legitimacy in the eyes of the citizenry, and Mr. Trump's loss of the popular vote by over 2,850,000 votes, coupled with these other aspects of Trump’s character, means that his legitimacy is hanging by a thread.  In many ways, the use of demagogic tactics to gain power renders the authority illegitimate that Trump and his assembling cabal of ambitious politicians are now in the process of imposing on the American people.   

The right thing to do is for a president to responsibly govern in the interests of all Americans.  The right thing to do is to govern from the middle, with golden rule fairness for all, and not from the extremes.  The right thing to do is to govern with moral rectitude and respectful concern for the interests of all people in future generations.  The right thing to do is to govern with vision and honor.  In truth, our top priority should be to build an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top, so the right thing to do is to act to improve the economic security and well-being of all Americans, not just to promote and defend the privileges and financial interests of insiders who have corrupted our democracy and made it into a pathetic form of plutocracy ruled by, and of, and for the few in whose hands the wealth generated by working people and the exploitation of natural resources is concentrated more and more and more narrowly into the hands of millionaires and billionaires.

The great President Thomas Jefferson, in his First Inaugural Address in early 1801, set forth what he deemed to be "the essential principles of our Government, and consequently those which ought to shape its Administration."  These importantly included "equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political," along with "absolute acquiescence in the decisions of the majority, the vital principle of republics, from which there is no appeal but to force, the vital principle and immediate parent of despotism."

Jefferson called the preservation of public faith in his stated principles sacred, and then sensationally concluded:  "should we wander from these principles in moments of error or of alarm, let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety."

In the next 10 years, the three most seriously impactful global risks, and the ones judged to be most probable, are fresh water crises, a failure to adapt to changing climate conditions caused by global warming trends, and large-scale involuntary migration.  This insightful Big Picture assessment was made in the Global Risks Report 2016, which was presented to influential members of the World Economic Forum in the beautiful Swiss mountain resort of Davos this past January.  An earlier report of research done by the banking giant Citigroup in 2015 put the costs of climate change, without mitigation, at a colossal $44 trillion by 2060.  This is an convincing reason why we cannot afford to allow politicians with misguided priorities, corrupted goals and misleading ideological stances to bring climate-change denial to the White House, as discussed below in Overarching Ecological Perspectives.

Republicans, in the face of the knowledge of this set of overarching risks, are putting their top legislative priorities on repealing the Affordable Care Act, cutting taxes, building walls, eliminating safety restrictions and many common good rules -- and rejecting everything the black man accomplished in the White House.  They are simultaneously amplifying the propaganda that they have been  catapulting into the minds of the American people in order to rationalize this hopelessly misbegotten set of stress-exacerbating priorities and retrogressive plans.

Listen to the passionate sentiments that our courageous ancestors expressed back in 1776 when they made their bold Declaration of Independence from a long train of usurpations and despotic abuses of power:  it is our right, it is indeed our duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new safeguards for our future security.

In the words that follow, nine primary Constellations of Reasons are adduced and examined in deliberative detail to highlight why it is so important to the American people to be assured of having an independent judiciary.  These constellations of understandings fall into the general categories of Fomented National Insecurity, The Biggest Financial Scam in World History, Risks Related to “the Disastrous Rise of Misplaced Power”, Ideologically Twisted Perspectives on the Supreme Court, Overarching Ecological Perspectives, The Harms Associated with Diversionary Tactics and Public Graft, Subsidiary Themes, It Can't Happen Here, A Brief History of Truth and Lies, and True American Values.

 “It is not what a lawyer tells me I may do;  but what humanity, reason, and justice tell me I ought to do.” 

                                                                                                                                                       --- Edmund Burke

All Americans find themselves in a classic Bet Situation.  We are in this Bet Situation because a consequential decision must be made that has profound practical implications regarding the future.  We are confronted with this Bet Situations because (1) we are inextricably involved in the game, (2) there are uncertainties, and (3) it is important to us in our own lives, and in the lives of our fellow human beings, that we make the most conscious, conscientious, and socially responsible decision related to the bet we are collectively making.

The American people should rise up together, including honest Trump voters, and declare that they now want a judicial check on excessive executive and legislative power.

Let's all keep in mind the excellent piece of guidance given to Thomas Paine by Giacinto Dragonetti.  Our political representatives should “fix the true point of happiness and freedom” by seeking to create “the greatest sum of individual happiness, with the least national expense."  LET’S TRY IT!  Let’s generously and reasonably enlarge our views beyond the present, and work together to usher in a golden era of greater good.

Fomented National Insecurity

"Be careless in your dress if you must, but keep a tidy soul.

                                                                            --- Mark Twain, Following the Equator, Pudd'nead Wilson's Calendar

Mr. Trump reassured the American people on 60 Minutes that they have nothing to be afraid of, when he was interviewed just five days after the national elections.  “Don’t be afraid,” he said.  The American people have nothing to be afraid of, “absolutely”, he proclaimed.

Oh, really?  The fact-checking organization PolitiFact has assessed a large number of Trump’s statements and found that an astonishing 70% of them are either “mostly false, false or pants on fire”, but this nothing-to-fear proclamation is one of his biggest deceptions of all.  Consider the long litany of very valid reasons that some folks have for deep concern.  Since the first day of his campaign, Trump has threatened millions of undocumented immigrants with deportation by a “deportation force”, and he is apparently intent on overturning the amnesty that has protected “dreamers” -- immigrants brought to the United States as children who know no other home.  He has repeatedly threatened to ban Muslims from the country or create a system of surveillance specifically targeting Muslim Americans and their places of worship, and his rhetoric has already caused hate crimes against Muslim Americans and others to spike.  He has belligerently promised to build a wall on the border with Mexico and make the Mexican people pay for it.  He has endorsed torture tactics and advocated what would be war crimes under the Geneva Conventions, and his inflammatory rhetoric has likely boosted recruiting efforts for Islamic terrorist groups, and fed into religious prophecies of pitched battles of superstitious unreason in End Times. 

Further, Trump has indicated that he would revise libel laws with an obvious intent of intimidating journalists and other critics, and would no doubt suppress dissent and take strong action against protestors who oppose his rule.  He has threatened women who get an abortion with some form of punishment, and he is unrepentantly threatening to take away the rights of any woman who gets pregnant to get a safe abortion, no matter what the circumstances, which would cause thousands of women to die from unsafe abortions.  He chose Mike Pence as his running mate, who is one of the most anti-gay and anti-choice politicians in America.  He is pushing for huge tax breaks for rich people, which would radically increase inequalities and drive up the national debt, undermining the hopes for personal security and prosperity and well-being of all people in the future.  By championing greed-rewarding causes like this, bolstered by the Big Lie deception of the trickle down ideology, he is weakening the true personal security of the vast majority of Americans -- especially the more than 65% of adults who have a net worth of less than $100,000, and their families, who are already pretty damn financially insecure.

When the majority of the people are made more anxious and insecure, it is easier for the ruling class to control them.  Millions of Americans, of all races, genders, religions and national origin, are living in economic fear and distress. Two-thirds of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck and would have trouble meeting a financial emergency that cost $1,000 or more.  The type of economy that has created this inegalitarian state of affairs is a breeding ground for expanded opportunities for swindling.  Studies like those conducted by Boston College’s “Center for Retirement Research” confirm what professional con artists have always known:  it is easier to take advantage of people in financial distress, so they are easier marks. 

When people are subjected to excessive amounts of stress, they are much less capable of making good decisions or engaging in fair-minded rational thought.  The engineers of austerity evidently know this, and thus see a marvelous two-for-one benefit in fomenting increased inequalities and keeping the citizenry financially insecure and afraid.  Just think, retrogressive policies allow private profits to be maximized, and force workers to feel intimidated so that they will be meek in their demands for higher pay or better working conditions or their rights as employees and human beings. 

Trump and Pence do not appear likely to do anything substantial to help students who have been burdened with huge amounts of debt due to cuts in public funding for higher education, which have forced millions of young people to work like indentured servants, struggling for decades to pay off opprobrious levels of student debt incurred at excessively high interest rates on loans that have exceedingly strict terms.  They are also emboldening crusades against science and scientists.  Trump has vowed to roll back protections of the environment, stoke the extraction and burning of oil and coal, gut the Environmental Protection Agency, and renounce American participation in the Paris Climate Accords, which have been agreed with almost every other nation in the world.  These rashly anti-environmental actions would wreak extremely costly harms on billions of people and a large proportion of other species of life on Earth.  Resistance must strengthen!

Additionally, Trump has repeatedly threatened to jail his general election opponent Hillary Clinton, as if he were a tinhorn dictator.  He has said, "We gotta maybe do something about the Internet… We have to talk .. about, maybe in certain areas, closing that Internet up in some way."  The surveillance state that George W. Bush unleashed and that Barack Obama allowed to proliferate is about to get even more pervasively invasive, and the American people should express their concern about this in no uncertain terms, while we still have a democratic form of government.  Trump is also threatening the Cuban people with a hardening of the 57-year-long embargo against Cuba that has contributed to them having suffered so much hardship.  And his belligerence on the international stage toward allies, and his friendly overtures toward authoritarian leaders in other countries like Russia and Turkey and India, are stances that are likely to make the world much less safe and less free.

And now Trump is disingenuously and preposterously pretending that he poses no threat whatsoever to anyone.  Yeah, right.  “Don’t be afraid,” he cajoles.  Ronald Reagan, faced with a questionably trustworthy geostrategic opponent, counseled “Trust, but verify.”  It really is odd that this demagogue is asserting that nobody has anything to fear after he has flooded the fear-alert emotional control centers of our brains with an ugly and sustained torrent of hyped up fears and taunts and suspicions and resentments and solipsistic tweets.

“O! ye that love mankind!  Ye that dare oppose not only tyranny but the tyrant, stand forth!           

                                                                                                                                          --- Thomas Paine

In the simplistic symbolism of old-time cowboy Westerns, the good guys often wore white hats and the bad guys wore dark hats to symbolize the contrast between good heroes and evil villains. Then, as now, it is not exactly clear who the real good guys are.  The restless citizenry, dressed in relative tatters, looks up at the nearby ridge and sees an intimidating line of mounted men, their outsized American flags streaming, all wearing the most preposterously conspicuous white hats and sitting with prominently displayed rifles cocked, astride snorting white horses.  One of them holds aloft a huge banner that streams in a stiff breeze;  it reads, Faithful and True.

The Biggest Financial Scam in World History

 “We have the best government that money can buy.

                                                                               --- Mark Twain

Listen, Trump supporters.  You have been heard, loud and clear!  Almost every reasonable person would acknowledge that the best interests of working people have been blatantly betrayed in our political duopoly system in the past few decades by both establishment Republicans and establishment Democrats.  American workers have not been allowed to share in any meaningful portion of the huge increases in productivity realized in our economy since 1980.  That is an amazing contrast to the period from 1945 to 1980, when American workers received increases in their pay of about 100%, on average, as productivity roughly doubled.  Obviously, the power-abusing Few have been ripping off the Many.  They are being assisted in this scam by pandering politicians and shrewdly greedy CEOs who strive to maximize profits by squeezing employees, and from conservative Supreme Court Justices who narrowly approved the Citizens United ruling as if they blindly see no corrupting influence in our campaign financing rules and the role of Big Money in our politics and lobbyist-skewed national decision making. 

Revealingly, the top tax rate on the highest incomes -- which are earned by only the top 1% of Americans -- ranged from 70% to over 90% each and every year from 1936 to 1980, but this rate was slashed by power-abusing rich people to 28% under Ronald Reagan.  That was a radical reduction, and it has hugely contributed to a spiking increase in inequality that is understandably stoking revolutionary discontent in the USA today. 

Since the days of Reagan's presidency, tax battles have been intense, and the American people have managed to nudge the top marginal tax rate back up from 28% to just under 40%, which is really not much of a compromising move back toward 70%.  Meanwhile, the net worth of the top 1% of American people has increased by somewhere in the range of $20 trillion to $30 trillion --and they have achieved this boon at the same time that the national debt has increased from less than $1 trillion to $20 trillion today.  This is all but a crime, an inter-generational swindle that is far reaching in its consequentially unjust and highly unethical impacts. This is the biggest financial fraud in world history, and it is revealingly facilitated by ideological propagandists and the media, as well as by politicians and corporate executives.

This über-betrayal of the people by the top 1% of Americans who are excessively monopolizing the spoils of labor and resource extraction has an even more astonishingly deplorable angle.  Vested interest groups are indulging in another rash ruse:  cost externalizing, or "the socializing of costs".  Our rigged rules that govern corporate entities allow Big Business to foist a variety of costs onto society to artificially boost profits.  More than two-thirds of the resulting capital gains are received by the top 1%, and guess what! -- they pay really low capital gains tax rates of only 15% on these spoils.  Even more outrageous, their heirs pay zero percent after a person dies because the “cost basis” of all investments is revised to the value at the date of death, allowing these spoils to be transmitted indefinitely forward to every person who inherits any of these investments.

See what's happening here. These fundamental facts about how our economic and political systems are rigged urge us to exit our echo chambers and seek to better understand -- and to demand much more fair-minded leadership and reforms.  See Dr. Tiffany B. Twain's Top Ten Ways Our System Is Rigged for some enlightening understandings of the true nature of how our system really works against the interests of the vast majority of the people.

"Truth-teller" Trump declared in August, "We can't fix a rigged system by relying on the people who rigged it in the first place."  He milked people's populist anger at being left behind by attacking Wall Street interest groups in his TV ads and campaign speeches, but now he is giving his supporters a slap in the face by naming Steve Mnuchin to be his Treasury secretary.  Mr. Mnuchin is a former Goldman Sachs executive and ruthless "foreclosure king", and he is a strong believer in the Republican orthodoxy of reversing the consumer protections laid out in the Dodd-Frank law governing Wall Street.  He will in all likelihood be a powerful advocate for, in effect, exacerbating inequalities and causing the national debt to spike by helping implement a new and bigger round of tax cuts to primarily benefit giant corporations and the wealthy.  In other words, Trump and Mnuchin are staunch defenders of new provisions that will serve to perpetuate the biggest financial scam in world history.

Mayer Amschel Rothschild, who was the long-ago founder of the extraordinarily wealthy Rothschild banking dynasty, once purportedly made this thought-provoking observation:  “Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws.”

Trump has named Wilbur Ross, a multi-billionaire, to be his Secretary of Commerce.  Wilbur is known as “the king of bankruptcy” on account of his “legendary knack for buying troubled companies on the cheap and selling them for billions of dollars in profit.”  Wilbur Ross first dealt with Trump when he was head of Rothschild’s bankruptcy advisory practice and he helped Trump, in league with billionaire investor Carl Icahn, to save his Trump Taj Mahal casino hotel from collapse in the early 1990s.

If and when Ross and Mnuchin were to be confirmed by the Senate, they would almost certainly push for the types of Bush-era economic policies that almost drove us to ruin in the worst economic recession since the Depression of the 1930s.  Let's be real.  What are the chances that these titans of our plutocracy are really going to adopt a laser-like focus on implementing policies that will improve the lot of the 99%?  Answer:  None!

Make no mistake about it.  Wall Street insiders are, in effect, infiltrating the executive branch of our government even more than they have done in the last few decades.  The stock price of Goldman Sachs has zoomed up more than25% since the election, so Wall Street is giving a powerful signal that it fully expects the emerging Trump administration to represent a big boon for this bank’s bottom line.  Wall Street is effectively rejoicing, and the incoming spike in the power of Big Banking and Big Business is consequently and consequentially expected to be very successful in reducing the influence of working class folks even more than it has been in the three decades prior to this revolting development.

Trump voters, take note.  You have been misled, and a double cross is unfolding right before your eyes, and within sight of the Statue of Liberty's level gaze.  The fix is in, and the objectionable odor of the ethical rot that has been afflicting Washington D.C. for all too long has begun emanating from Trump Towers on Fifth Avenue in New York City.  Curiously, some 90% or so of the denizens in Manhattan, who might be expected to be in the know about financial dealings, voted for Hillary Clinton and against the Twittering Trumpster.  Ninety percent!

It is becoming increasingly clear that Trump has deceived most of the American people with outrageously counterfeit assertions.  Payment, fortunately and providentially, is not due on this shoddy and dangerous ideological merchandise until December 19th.  Join the chorus!  

In the thought-provoking book What’s the Matter with Kansas, the incisive journalist and historian Thomas Frank provides a stunning explanation of how and why many people are goaded into supporting the economic agenda of billionaires rather than their own self-interest -- or that of their children and people in future generations.  A better understanding of these issues would be broadly salubrious for all Americans, and could energize hopes of creating a healthier, fairer and more sustainable society.

The two political parties in our political duopoly system have contributed to causing inequality to reach historically high levels, and this is getting worse every year.  The insightful billionaire entrepreneur Nick Hanauer provided readers with sensational understandings about the risks in allowing this to continue, in an article titled The Pitchforks Are Coming ... For Us Plutocrats.  He pointed out that today, the U.S. "is rapidly becoming less a capitalist society and more a feudal society.  Unless our policies change dramatically, the middle class will disappear, and we will be back to late 18th-century France.  Before the revolution."

"And so I have a message for my fellow filthy rich, for all of us who live in our gated bubble worlds:  Wake up, people.  It won’t last.  If we don’t do something to fix the glaring inequities in this economy, the pitchforks are going to come for us.  No society can sustain this kind of rising inequality.  In fact, there is no example in human history where wealth accumulated like this and the pitchforks didn’t eventually come out.  You show me a highly unequal society, and I will show you a police state.  Or an uprising.  There are no counterexamples.  None.  It’s not if, it’s when."

Nick Hanauer concludes:  “The most ironic thing about rising inequality is how completely unnecessary and self-defeating it is.  If we do something about it, if we adjust our policies in the way that, say, Franklin D. Roosevelt did during the Great Depression -- so that we help the 99 percent and preempt the crazies and revolutionaries, the ones with the pitchforks -- that will be the best thing possible for us rich folks, too.  It’s not just that we’ll escape with our lives;  it’s that we’ll most certainly get even richer."

In a blog earlier this year posted on his website, Nick Hanauer made the following compelling observation:

From the point of view of their 99%, the median Republican voter, the last 35 years have been a disaster, and their party has caused it.  Because if you are a working- or middle-class white Republican-leaning man, your party has completely and totally screwed you.

They screwed you by holding down the minimum wage.

They screwed you by almost completely eliminating overtime pay.

They screwed the union that used to defend your interests.

The screwed you out of the pension on which the middle-class once retired.

They screwed you a thousand ways on trade, and exported your job.

They screwed you on tax policy by lowering taxes on the rich.

They screwed you on infrastructure and education investment.

They screwed you by deregulating the banks.

They screwed you out of your home during the housing bubble and subsequent collapse.

They screwed you on health care costs.

They screwed you on the cost of college and on student debt.

They screwed you (and sent your kids to die) in the Iraq war.

We are faced with a historic choice between a virtuous cycle and a vicious cycle, as made clear in the great documentary film Inequality for All about the character and ideas of Robert Reich.  The proverbial pitchforks are poised to come out, and Republicans are taking determined steps in the wrong direction to make things worse and less fair for the majority of Americans. They are acting as if they have gotten a mandate to enrich the rich after pretending to care about the disaffected working class.

Only two outcomes are probable -- Solon-wise reforms that reduce tensions with some investments in what are effectively smart social insurance policies, or repressive measures to defend the outrages inherent in excessively inegalitarian and regressive rule.

Mark Twain was a champion of labor organizing, so it is no surprise that he praised the smart strategies used by steamboat pilots in forming a labor union back in the Gilded Age of the 1880s -- and winning their wage demands from steamboat owners -- as told in his book Life on the Mississippi.  Mark Twain also criticized the exploitation of working people during the Gilded Age in his clever novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, and sensationally called for "a new deal".  First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt said that this was her husband's favorite book by Mark Twain, and this is likely why Franklin D. Roosevelt named his Depression-era social safety net programs the New Deal.  Today, our country appears to have returned to the greedy and conspicuously materialistic values and profound inequalities of the Gilded Age in which Mark Twain wrote, and financial elites and giant corporate interests and Dark Money operatives have rigged our system in such ridiculously unfair ways that we are in dire need of another "New Deal".  This better deal must be a much more honestly fair one for working people, and for the 99% of Americans who are being adversely affected by the control of our country by wealthy elites.  In order to fix the plight in which the American people find themselves, we need honest leaders who are not excessively beholden to moneyed interests.  Instead, we have just been sold a bill of goods by a man that is a billionaire tycoon who has acted much more like a carnival barker and a demagogic charlatan than an honest and honorable leader in his campaign to gain power.

One thing is certain that bodes ill for working people in the USA.  Their best interests will be under continued assault by Republican politicians, who will recite a deceitful mantra of "jobs, jobs, jobs" while abusing the power of their positions by passing laws that will undermine collective bargaining rights of working people and reduce their influence in being able to get a fairer deal from their employers.  This writing on the wall reveals that working people will continue to be disempowered and disenfranchised in order that corporate America will be able to increase profits -- and wealthy people will be able to really accelerate the rate at which they are dangerously increasing the concentration of wealth in the greedy hands of the few.

Trump has never been a good friend to working people in his business dealings, so he was deceiving people to have claimed that he plans to stand up for working class people.  He has now selected Andrew F. Puzder to be to be his prospective Secretary of Labor.  Mr. Puzder is a wealthy businessman and big political donor to Trump who has been chief executive of a company that franchises fast-food outlets and is an outspoken critic of higher minimum wages and expanded eligibility for overtime pay and other worker protections enacted by the Obama administration.  Trump's nomination of Puzder is a clear indication that he will side with maximizing private profits for the few at the expense of the many by wrapping the ruse in the ideological cloak of deregulation and anti-union convictions.

Thomas Piketty, who wrote the epic best-selling book Capital in the Twenty-First Century several years ago, is a French economist who is concerned with issues of wealth and income inequality.  He emphasizes themes in this book of his focused work on the concentration and distribution of wealth around the world over the past 250 years, and he provocatively points out that the rate of capital return in developed countries has persistently exceeded the rate of economic growth, and is highly likely to continue to do so.  What this means is that wealth inequality will inevitably continue to increase in the future.  Piketty makes powerful arguments that this is a really risky and consequentially serious problem, and he incisively proposes remedial fixes for this increasingly dangerous challenge that involve governments effectively implementing more progressive taxation plans and a redistribution of wealth through a global tax on wealth.  Such ideas stand in commendable contrast to the agenda of billionaires who are striving to impose austerity policies on nations worldwide in order to facilitate regressive changes in taxation what will give the highest income earners lower tax rates on the highest levels of their earnings and capital gains.

Sophisticated new versions of hostile takeovers have come about since the publication of the thought-provoking book Barbarians at the Gate in 1989, which was about a ruthlessly contentious leveraged buyout takeover of the giant cookie conglomerate RJR Nabisco the previous year.  One ultimate lesson of the whole episode was that excessive greed is not good for society.

Now, political barbarians have just stormed the gates of our democratic republic, greedy with schemes to further enrich the rich.  This is folly, and will prove to be disastrous for all Americans, especially including Trump voters, but even including the rich and powerful, for extreme inequality is already fraying the social fabric of "the land of the free", and the proverbial pitchforks are going to come out and either wreak revolution across the country or result in harsh repression against those who dare defy the political and corporate masters in our oligarchy by opposing mounting inequities and injustices.

“You can't depend on your judgment when your imagination is out of focus.”

                                                                                                                 --- Mark Twain

Risks Related to “the Disastrous Rise of Misplaced Power”

Jim Hightower of Texas evaluates “Trump's bizarre cabinet” and states: “the key qualification he seeks for public service is a nominee's commitment to serving the private interests of corporate power over workers and the environment and local communities and everyone else.”

Remember President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s famous words when he warned the American people in his brilliant Military-Industrial Complex speech as he left office in January 1961.  He sternly warned about “the disastrous rise of misplaced power”, strongly emphasizing the importance of “an alert and knowledgeable citizenry” who strive to make sure “that security and liberty may prosper together.”  This idea is crucial to our personal freedoms and overall well-being.

Bernie Sanders wrote these compelling words just after the election:

“President-elect Trump is right:  the American people voted for change.  But what kind of change will he be offering them?  Will he have the courage to stand up to the most powerful people in the country who are responsible for the economic pain that so many working families feel, or will he turn the anger of the majority against minorities, immigrants, the poor and the helpless?”

The answer seems clear.  He plans to damn working people, and give more money and privileges to the powerful.  Revelations since the November 8 elections are providing the American people with compelling reasons for Trump supporters to seriously reconsider their support.  Deep conflicts of interest are being exposed with Trump's far-flung business interests and lack of a "blind trust", and with his children's close involvement in governing.  He continues to conceal insights into his tax return information that would shed light on the extent to which his business dealings are filled with unprecedented conflicts of interest at home and in many nations abroad.  This arrogantly stubborn stance not only gives the appearance that public graft is about to spike, but it also likely violates the Emoluments Clause in the U.S. Constitution. 

Additionally, fake news and misleading information on Google and Facebook and Twitter undoubtedly helped swing countless numbers of votes to Trump.  And less than 60% of Americans eligible to vote cast ballots in the election, partially due to gerrymandering and voter suppression efforts undertaken by Republicans in many states over the past few years, ever since the Supreme Court's narrow majority of ideological conservatives rolled back basic protections that had been contained in the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The unfolding saga of Trump’s transition team and his Cabinet picks reveal that scheming politicians who will control and define our national direction are nowhere near what the American people had been led to expect.  The politicians being elevated to power reveal that Trump intends to govern from the extreme hard-right and alt-right fringe, and not from a position of moderate and intelligent and fair-minded reform.

Some observers say that Trump appears to be assembling a crony capitalist "kakistocracy" -- domineering rule by the worst and most poorly qualified and most unscrupulous citizens.  More on this below, when Trump’s picks for his Cabinet are evaluated in greater detail.

Trump seems to be determined to fan the flames of an astonishing set of extreme inequities that has been generated in the past 35 years by making huge tax cuts to primarily benefits corporations and the wealthy, and at the same time imposing a variety of austerity plans on the masses.  Trump and his transition team are clearly planning to pull the wool over our eyes with one of the most egregious bait-and-switch betrayals of the American people ever.  The transition team’s point man on Social Security is a longtime advocate of privatization of the program, which would violate Trump's promise to protect people’s Social Security retirement incomes.  And all indications are that the incoming administration is getting ready to insidiously reduce the assurances of Medicare by replacing it with vouchers, because Trump has named Tom Price to run the Department of Health and Human Services.  Price is a stalwart Georgia Republican congressman who wants to privatize Medicare, and this action would violate Trump's promises to defend this program. 

Tom Price is an offensive and sexist extremist who has opposed a 2015 Washington, D.C. non-discrimination law that would have prevented employers from firing workers for using birth control or having an abortion.  He also wants to eliminate government funding that helps provide poor women with healthcare in Planned Parenthood clinics. 

In an article by Richard Eskow titled This Trump Hire is Hazardous to Your Health (And Not Just Your Medicare), Eskow indicates that, “If Price and Trump succeed, Medicare will no longer need to (or be able to) slow the rate of healthcare cost growth.  That will hurt all ordinary Americans, regardless of age, by making their medical care more expensive.”  Eskow goes on to point out that, under Price’s plan, vouchers will cover less and less of healthcare’s cost each year, “until seniors’ insurance premiums finally exceed older Americans’ total Social Security income.  That’s why retiree and disability advocates are shocked and dismayed by this nomination.”  The Alliance for Retired Americans has described Price’s plan as “a declaration of war on seniors, retirees and anyone who is counting on having guaranteed health care benefits when they retire after a lifetime of hard work.”

Nancy Altman, co-director of Social Security Works, called it “classic bait and switch,” adding: “Trump ran on a promise, repeatedly made, not to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.  Price has spent years working to destroy all of these vital programs.  This nomination is a betrayal of the American people.”

Bernie Sanders, seeing that it appears increasingly likely that Trump will take steps to reduce Medicare benefits that provide good healthcare at reasonable prices for more than 50 million Americans, asked if Trump "has any intention of keeping the promise that he made, or has he played the American people for suckers?"  Note to these scheming politicians:  the American people really resent being played for suckers.

Trump is further blatantly betraying the trust placed in him by millions of voters who gave him their support by naming Steve Bannon, an extreme “alt-right” propagandist, to be his chief strategist and senior advisor in the White House.  The alt-right espouses a provocative and reactionary strain of conservatism, so Trump is showing his true colors in this choice.  Steve Bannon is the former head of Breitbart "News", an ultra-right-wing exploiter of tensions between whites and minority groups that engages in constant fear mongering against minorities. Many reports indicate that Bannon has been an outspoken proponent of white nationalism and racist, anti-Semitic and misogynistic views, and he has cold-heartedly exploited “white identity grievance politics”.  It is revealing that many people who believe in the inflammatory propaganda of Breitbart "News" consider the already excessively conservative and unfairly unbalanced Fox News to be "too wimpy".  But when demagogues scapegoat certain groups of people, like the Nazis did with Jews, it creates greater danger for all. 

White nationalists have ominously been among Trump's strongest supporters.  In a post-election rally in Washington D.C., the "alt-right" extremist and white supremacist Richard Spencer harangued the assembled with rousing words:  "we are not meant to live in shame and weakness and disgrace.  We were not meant to beg for moral validation from some of the most despicable creatures to ever populate the planet."  Then he shouted, "Hail, Trump!  Hail, our people!  Hail, victory!"  And then, "a scattered half-dozen men stood and raised their arms in Nazi salutes," according to a senior editor at The Weekly Standard.

Hate crimes surged across the USA in the first weeks after the election, and racial slurs and threats by Trump supporters have proliferated against African Americans and Latinos and gay people.  Asked about this by Lesley Stahl on “60 Minutes” on the Sunday after the election, Trump turned to the camera and sternly said, “Stop it.”  But as Aasif Mandvi, the author of No Land’s Man succinctly points out in a recent New York Times article, if Trump really sincerely wanted to disavow and condemn acts like this and organizations like the Ku Klux Klan, he would do it the way he does when he feels strongly about an issue by spewing forth on Twitter:

“When the president-elect wants to unleash his disapproval, or his thin skin has been ever so slightly bruised, the people responsible can be sure to find themselves on the receiving end of a Twitter barrage like none other.  That’s what I want to see now, and I won’t settle for less.  The American people deserve to see Mr. Trump attack these hate groups and the people perpetrating hate crimes in his name the way he attacked the cast of the Broadway hit Hamilton, the cast of Saturday Night Live, the television personality Rosie O’Donnell, Gold Star families, The New York Times, Miss USA, the Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, women accusing him of sexual misconduct, protesters and the I.R.S.”

“We don’t want a pro forma apology extracted out of him reluctantly by a reporter.  We want him to feel so hurt and angry about Nazis using his name that he is up tweeting at 3 a.m.”

“So let me ask you, Mr. Trump -- the cast of “Hamilton” are worth a tweet storm, but you can’t muster even one tweet against neo-Nazis yelling “Hail Trump”?  Nothing?  Come on, I’ll write you a couple of options:

“Neo-Nazis are haters and losers. Nasty people. #smallhands #lowenergy.”

“White supremacists are a threat to our nation #bigleague.  Worse than the #NYTimes.  Only I can stop them.”

“Time to retire the boring and unfunny Hitler salute, highly overrated.”

“Steve Bannon. You’re fired!”

President-elect Trump is also betraying his stated intention to be a president for “all Americans" by naming Senator Jeff Sessions as his choice for Attorney General, for Sessions has a long history of fiercely opposing civil rights.  The attorney general is the chief law enforcement officer and chief lawyer of the U.S. government, and is in charge of the Department of Justice, which has a principal mission of ensuring a "fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans."  Since Jeff Sessions is not a fair-minded champion of civil rights for all, he is the wrong candidate for this important office and should not be confirmed. 

It is becoming increasingly clear with Trump’s selection of Steve Bannon as his chief strategist and Jeff Sessions as his candidate for attorney general that he is not really going to try to “Make America Great Again”, but instead that he may want to “Make America a White, Racist, Misogynistic Patriarchy Again”, as columnist Charles Blow has written.  While Trump may still get support for his candidacy from many supporters like members of the Ku Klux Klan, it is highly likely that he will eventually lose many supporters over this anti-American direction.

“If he governs as he campaigned,” observes Michael Gerson, an op-ed columnist for The Washington Post, ”Trump will smash the unity of our country into a thousand shards of bitterness.”  This probability alone should be enough to stir a sense of compassion in the man, and motivate him to change course.

Trump has selected an advocate for private school vouchers named Betsy DeVos to be his secretary of education.  This is a clear sign that he intends to make a national push to direct public funds to private and charter schools, according to Douglas Harris, a professor of economics at Tulane University, who expresses the opinion that "... this is more than just a political or financial loss for traditional public schools.  It will also most likely be a loss for students."

"The choice of Ms. DeVos might not seem surprising.  Mr. Trump has, after all, proposed $20 billion to finance ‘school choice’ initiatives and Ms. DeVos supports these ideas.  Yet of all the candidates the transition team was apparently considering, Ms. DeVos has easily the worst record, … because she is one of the architects of Detroit’s charter school system, so she is partly responsible for what even charter advocates acknowledge is the biggest school reform disaster in the country."

“The worst.”  The kakistocracy comes together.  Betsy DeVos, incidentally, has a family net worth of more than $5 billion.

Ideologically Twisted Perspectives on the Supreme Court

The 2016 elections were significantly influenced by one overriding issue:  who would have the power to appoint a Supreme Court Justice to replace Antonin Scalia, who died in February 2016, and probably several other Justices in the next four years, considering that Ruth Bader Ginsburg is currently 83 years old and Anthony Kennedy is 80 and Stephen Breyer is 78, and any of them could retire before the year 2020.

Consider the incisive words of the former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who served honorably on the high court for 24 years in a distinguished tenure of fair-minded service and balanced decision-making after Ronald Reagan appointed her in 1981.  Soon after retiring from the Supreme Court to care for her Alzheimer-stricken husband, O'Connor expressed how important it is for our courts to remain independent from politics, stating: "… some political attacks on the independence of the courts pose a direct threat to the constitutional freedoms of Americans."  She has pointed out that judicial independence is under serious attack at both the federal and state level, and astutely added, "it takes a lot of degeneration before a country falls into dictatorship, but we should avoid these ends by avoiding these beginnings."

Think about these important words!  It can be argued very convincingly that conservative judges are primarily concerned with two sets of ideological stances.  First, to reduce the limitations on power of big corporations and moneyed interest groups and wealthy people, often at the expense of power for the people and class action influence of citizens, and rights of working people to bargain collectively for higher pay or better benefits or safer working conditions.  And second, to rule in favor of Christian religious fundamentalists or other traditional groups like white males at the expense of other groups like women who do not want to get pregnant, or women who are pregnant with a fertilized embryo in the first trimester of a pregnancy and want to be able to get a safe abortion, or the greater and more inclusive good of society in general.

Every person who wants our American judicial system to be dominated by conservative judges is thus unwittingly making a Faustian bargain with the devil.  This is both a personal mistake and a national mistake, because in an excess of enthusiasm for depriving others of some part of their personal freedoms, they unwittingly sacrifice more expansive rights and influence and liberties for all.  Fairer jurisprudence is needed that gives greater respect to the ethics of golden rule reciprocity.

What Republicans want is an ideological judge, not an impartial one.  They want someone in the mold of Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas or Antonin Scalia, for they can't stand the thought of having a more progressive Court.  After all, they have exceedingly wealthy patrons who have big expectations in return for their political contributions.

Republicans want Justices who will narrowly side with ideologies who say that government has no place in determining whether large political expenditures prevent corruption or “the appearance of corruption,” so it may not impose spending limits on Big Money in our elections.  According to OpenSecrets.org, a record $1.4 billion of Dark Money and SuperPAC money was spent in the 2016 elections, most of it in secret.  This moneyed influence has clearly distorted and corrupted our democracy.  A record $600 million flooded Senate and House races, with voters rarely knowing who paid for them.  And 94% of national House races and an astounding 96% of Senate races were won by the candidate that spent the most money.  Not coincidentally, majorities that were elected nationally express little interest in addressing the problems of our country being corrupted by Big Money in politics.

The Supreme Court, under a renewed surge of ultra-conservative Justices, would severely compound the injustices that spawned Ian Millhiser's book, INJUSTICES: The Supreme Court's History of Comforting the Comfortable and Afflicting the Afflicted.  It is socially reactionary and morally wrong to structure our society ever more unjustly against the afflicted in favor of comforting the comfortable!  Not only is that the case, but such wrongheaded priorities foolishly ramp up the risks of violent revolution and harsh repression.

The trajectory of evolutionary change from time immemorial definitively demonstrates that natural selection favors in-group cohesion and cooperation in human social groups rather than excessively ruthless competition.  Here is another excellent reason to reject Trump's play for power and notoriety.  It is evolutionary Right Action to seek unity in social cohesion, rather than engaging in ruthlessly anti-social exploitation of others.  The principal factors that contribute to positive social cohesion are fairness and inclusivity and broadly shared well-being.

The Lessons of History, as brilliantly summarized by the Pulitzer Prize-winning historians Will and Ariel Durant, reveal that when societies have reached a tinderbox condition of having too extreme a degree of inequality, it historically has been met either with "legislation redistributing wealth or by revolution distributing poverty."  In such a dangerous state, often exacerbated by ideologically corrupted courts deciding issues against the people, the risk of violent revolt increases, and such challenges to authority have generally resulted in harsh repression by police state-type forces that staunchly defend the interests and privileges of the rich.  In similar straits back in Athens in 594 BCE, "Good sense prevailed; moderate elements secured the election of Solon, a businessman of aristocratic lineage", and he honorably instituted many progressive reforms that included reducing all personal debts and establishing "a graduated income tax that made the inch pay at a rate twelve times that required of the poor."  The rich protested profusely, and the riled-up radicals also complained, but in time everyone agreed that Solon's wise and fair-minded reforms had saved Athens from revolution by the desperate poor against the jealously greedy rich. 

In a starkly contrasting episode in history, the Roman Senate back in the second century BCE "adopted an uncompromising course when the concentration of wealth approached an explosive point in Italy, and the result was a hundred years of class and civil war."  It seems likely that the vast majority of Americans would agree that wise and fair-minded reforms are a better plan than retrogressive policies that risk causing a long period of class and civil warfare.

Solon is known as the Father of Democracy for the many progressive reforms he implemented to reduce conflicts between the angry Many and the privilege-protecting Few.  This wise Athenian statesman and lawmaker’s historic efforts to intelligently fix the Greek economy and politics some 2,500 years ago made his penchant for wise compromise legendary, and we should honor his wisdom by emulating it.

Having used the words “police state” a few times, let me clarify, lest this sound like some wild conspiracy theory.  Ever since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the U.S. has lurched toward more widespread surveillance of citizens and fewer checks on law enforcement power.  One protection that has been in place since 1878 is the Posse Comitatus Act, which was designed to limit the powers of the federal government so that it could not use military personnel to enforce domestic policies within the United States.  This law is often relied upon to prevent the Department of Defense from interfering in domestic law enforcement.  In the annual National Defense Authorization Act that was signed into law at the end of December 2011, a controversial provision was included that authorized the indefinite military detention of persons that the government suspects of involvement in terrorism, without giving the person arrested the right of being charged or being given a fair trial.  This treatment could be used on U.S. citizens arrested on American soil, and one source has claimed that this provision “is tantamount to the militarization of law enforcement, the repeal of the Posse Comitatus Act and the Inauguration in 2012 of Police State USA”.

Ever since 9/11, provisions like the Patriot Act and various new claims to power of Executive Privilege have moved us dangerously towards the establishment of a more totalitarian State, like a military government dressed in civilian clothes.  Not dissimilar to Germany in the 1930s, basic rights and freedoms are being infringed upon under pretexts that democracy is threatened and must be protected.  Trust in our leaders generally assuages this concern, but now that Mr. Trump appears headed to office and he has proved himself to be exceedingly unworthy of trust, this threat is getting much more real.

The need for real positive change continues to increase, especially because our leaders have been so stubbornly unwilling to work together for the common good, properly understood, as evaluated from the perspective of consequential ethics and the greatest good for the greatest number of people over the longest period of time.

I feel strongly that the majority of Americans have an underlying sense of decency, and that they can be persuaded with the force of reason when they are not being flooded with emotionally manipulative messaging and deceptive information.  

Overarching Ecological Perspectives

Professor Jared Diamond made a valuable observation in his insightful book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.  He wisely contended that a paradigm shift is needed in how our leaders think.  We need leaders with “the courage to practice long-term thinking and make bold, courageous, anticipatory decisions at a time when problems become perceptible, but before they reach crisis proportions.”  Hallelujah -- the time is now!

In 2009, Donald Trump and his three oldest children, Ivanka, Donald Jr. and Eric, signed a letter printed in the New York Times that urged President Obama and world leaders headed to international climate negotiations in Copenhagen to act on climate change.  The letter stated that, “If we fail to act now, it is scientifically irrefutable that there will be catastrophic and irreversible consequences for humanity and our planet.”  Now that there is a huge amount of money and power available by aggressively siding with the fossil fuel industry, the family seems to be just fine with pandering to polluting companies and appointing climate change deniers to positions of power, and thus to contributing to the probabilities that we will suffer "catastrophic and irreversible consequences for humanity and our planet".  This is a grotesque repudiation of social responsibility and precautionary wisdom.

This understanding was given glaring emphasis in early December, when Trump named Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head up his prospective Environmental Protection Agency.  Mr. Pruitt has been a leader in the fight AGAINST the EPA’s efforts to rein in carbon pollution and protect our nation’s drinking water.  Like his fellow Oklahoman Jim Inhofe, he is a climate change denier and has been a close ally of the fossil fuel industries, defending their interests to get political contributions at the expense of fair representation of the best interests of the people.  Pruitt would be a disaster for our hopes of maintaining a safe home planet for our children and grandchildren and all persons to be born in future generations.

Crony capitalism seems to be getting worse than it has ever been before, with so many billionaires in Mr. Trump's prospective Cabinet.  His announcement that he would appoint the Exxon Mobil Corporation Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State confirmed this big concern, and set up "a confirmation battle with U.S. lawmakers who have questioned the oilman’s relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin."  Trump made the announcement hours after he unexpectedly delayed a planned statement on how he would separate himself as president from the far-reaching conflicts of interests associated with his business operations.

There are also deep conflicts of interest related to having the chief executive of a giant oil company acting as the top diplomat and architect of foreign policy.  It is chilling to realize that Tillerson "has favored doing business in countries that offer political stability, even if this stability was achieved through authoritarian rule, as Steve Coll, the author of Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power, has written.

Trump has further stoked concerns by naming Rick Perry of Texas to be Energy Secretary, “putting the former oil-state governor atop the agency that helps chart the nation’s energy future."

Rick Perry was the presidential candidate who stammered "Oops!"after famously failing to remember one of three federal government agencies he proposed to eliminate during a debate in late 2011.  Later he realized that it was the Department of Energy that he wanted to eliminate, ostensibly in order to get rid of any limits on his profit-maximizing cronies in Big Oil and other fossil fuel industries.  Is Trump a jokester?  He appears to have fallen under the spell of the Goddess of Irony, as well perhaps as the thrall of Russia's autocratic leader Vladimir Putin.

"Oops!" might be an exceptionally appropriate exclamation for the American people to utter right now in the glaring spotlight of the electoral disaster that is unfolding before our eyes.

We should find much better ways to make our government dramatically more trustworthy by making it more fairly representative of all Americans, rather than letting the fat, greedy foxes have free access to the henhouse.  Yet Trump is naming agency heads who are ideologically opposed to the purpose and mission of the agencies they are being given responsibility to lead.  This is simply wrong.

The most important premises of the Earth Manifesto involve ecological issues.  Mr. Trump is exceedingly dangerous in this arena because his stated positions on environmental issues reveal that he could become the most anti-environmental American leader in history.  A leading climate denier, Myron Ebell, is running Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency transition team.  Ebell is a professional climate denier with no scientific experience, and intense suspicion is cast on his "integrity" due to the fact that his organization has taken millions of dollars from Exxon and other giant fossil fuel conglomerates to promote doubts and deceptions about climate change. 

To save ourselves, we need to save the planet.  Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. once poignantly pointed out the sadly false dichotomy “between economic prosperity on the one hand and environmental protection on the other.”  He noted ruefully that it is foolish for us to treat our home planet as if it were “a business in liquidation” by striving to convert natural resources to cash as quickly as possible.  “Environmental injury is deficit spending”, he said.  “It’s a way of loading the cost of our generation’s prosperity onto the backs of our children.”

Insidiously destabilizing environmental damages are being caused by greenhouse gas emissions that will cost trillions of dollars and wreak widespread harms on Earth's ecosystems in coming years.  Allowing these costs and the associated mounting risks to be eternalized onto society instead of being included in the prices of products and services is a consequential and treacherous swindle that can no longer be defended.  This is why an impressive coalition of prominent economists advocates sensible Pigouvian taxes like a fee on carbon that would effectively internalize the costs of emissions and thereby reduce the amount of greenhouse gases being spewed into the atmosphere.

In light of such big picture environmental understandings, it is unconscionable for Trump to have vowed to roll back Obama’s signature effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, known as the Clean Power Plan, and to scrap a litany of other “unnecessary” rules, especially those imposed on the oil, gas and coal sectors.  Myron Ebell has argued instead that more federal lands should be opened up for logging, oil and gas exploration and coal mining.  These plans blatantly violate an overwhelming consensus of scientists and experts that a good proportion of fossil fuel reserves should be left in the ground in order to preserve a habitable world and prevent ocean acidification and costly rises in sea levels that will flood tens of millions of people out of their homes, and gosh even inundate some of Trump's coastal golf courses.

Trump has chosen Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers to be his nominee for Secretary of the Interior.  Her record makes her extremely ill suited to be in charge of protecting our parks, public lands and natural resources.  She has supported measures to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other public lands for drilling, and opposed action to address climate change, and supported nearly every effort to eviscerate protections of endangered species, and voted to undermine the popular law that lets presidents designate national monuments, and even supported a proposal that could allow roads to be built in protected wilderness areas.

One of the most dangerous of Trump's convictions is that the USA should become a rogue nation on the international stage.  He has vowed to cancel billions of dollars in U.S. commitments to the UN Green Climate Fund, which is helping countries adversely affected by global warming to deal with adversities caused by the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.  This stance is belligerently unempathetic in light of the fact that the U.S. has contributed the most of any country on Earth in driving the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from under 300 ppm in pre-industrial times to over 400 ppm today.  While Trump thunders on about making America first, he is being harshly unjust to other nations in doing so.  This is particularly true with regard to climate injustices.  It is clear that the U.S. should pay a proportionally larger amount of the costs required to cover natural disasters and mitigate climate changes around the world so that poorer countries that disproportionally suffer climate-related hardships will be covered by those who contributed the most to hardships they endure.

As of November 2016, the Green Climate Fund had raised more than $10 billion in pledges from 43 national governments to address some of the big challenges highlighted by the “climate justice” movement, and now Trump is figuratively giving the finger to everyone in other countries by reneging on the U.S. portion of this already inadequate commitment to help mitigate the on-rushing adversities associated with climate change and to pay for some of the damages caused by natural disasters taking place due to global warming.

Trump is recklessly emulating the Captain of the Titanic, steaming full speed ahead in treacherous waters on a maiden voyage.  Unfortunately for the vast majority of the American people, they are trapped below in lowly third class, and they will be the ones at the greatest risk when disaster strikes.  Ironically, the Titanic was powered by the burning of coal, and Trump bucks scientific better sense by pandering to coal producers and other big fossil fuel mega-corporations, and doesn't seem to give a damn about the consequences.

The RMS Titanic carried some of the wealthiest people in the world, along with hundreds of emigrants seeking a new life in North America, and the lives of all were endangered by the dangerous hubris of the Captain.  The Titanic did not have enough lifeboats to accommodate all aboard due to outdated maritime safety regulations.  Donald Trump is similarly eager to eliminate regulations on Big Business and the rich tycoons that run huge corporations so as to create bigger private profits in the short term.  This brazen plan unfortunately rashly puts the health and security and well-being of everyone in jeopardy.

Feeling helpless in the face of a powerful adversary can be discouraging, but when we see that there is a good course of action we can take to dramatically improve the world, it can inspire us to positivity and resolve.  The long process of building coalitions to try to resist the upcoming onslaught of Republican dictates is now beginning as protests mount across the USA, and there would be poetic justice if the strengthening movement to challenge the legitimacy of Trump’s victory in the Electoral College vote on December 19actually became an overwhelming clarion call for fair-minded action.

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for a people to throw off the yoke of established interests that have betrayed them and to stand up against the scheming cadre of oppressors who seek to further deprive them of a fair voice in national planning and a fair share of the profits engendered by the fruits of their labors, and even to deprive them of some of the civil liberties that have been guaranteed to all Americans in our Bill of Rights, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to their demands to be heard and to have their opinions respected and to have their best interests and the general welfare taken into account as the highest priority of those who govern.

In honor of the Rights that should be unalienable to all Americans, including the rights to liberty, justice, and the reasonable opportunity to pursue happiness and share in the aspirational dream of a better future, strong efforts must be made by our representatives to secure these rights.  Recognizing that our government was instituted by our Founders to derive its legitimacy and just powers from the consent of the governed, let us now declare our unity and interdependence with all Americans by demanding that our national priorities be revolutionarily altered so that 99% of the people have much more power and the power-abusing 1% have less power.  Let us lay the foundations of this new agreement with the American people on golden rule principles and time-honored values that we share, with let us make sure that these new provisions are ones that the vast majority will regard as honestly most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.  Let us make it abundantly clear that we will no longer suffer the evils of despotism that defend and uphold the status quo, and set forth exactly why we reject the long train of abuses and usurpations that have served to undermine our common cause in the greater good.  This is our right, and it is indeed our duty to establish new safeguards for our security and the best interests of our descendants in future generations.  

Let these Facts be submitted to a candid world.  Let us all rise up as with one voice and demand that the Electoral College electors honor the majority vote and choose Hillary Clinton as president.  Electors, the spell is broken.  The validity of the grievances of Trump voters is acknowledged, and it is time is now for us to honorably take intelligent, effective and transcendently fair action.  Now is a seed-time of continental union, faith and honor, and we cannot allow a Trumpian fracturing of our unity to follow through in its demagogic scheme to seize and abuse despotic power, for to do so would be to allow a sacrilegious act that would be like Thomas Paine's analogy of engraving a name with the point of a pin on the tender rind of a young oak, knowing the wound will enlarge with the tree, and posterity would read this scar with deep chagrin in full grown characters in years to come.

These understandings build a strong case for preventing Trump from taking power, and an overwhelming consensus is developing that could powerfully convince and motivate the Electoral College electors to do the right thing and prevent Trump from seizing power before he has a chance to destroy our democracy.

The Harms Associated with Diversionary Tactics and Public Graft

For decades, giant corporations, particularly including "tobacco, coal, oil, chemical and biotech companies have poured billions of dollars into an international misinformation machine composed of think tanks, bloggers and fake citizens’ groups,” according to George Monbiot in Frightened by Donald Trump?  You Don’t Know the Half of It.  The purpose of all this spin has been to portray the interests of billionaires as the interests of the common people, and to wage war against trade unions and beat down attempts to regulate business and tax the very rich.  “Now the people who helped run this machine are shaping the government."

Trump’s strategy of blaming the woes of American workers on immigrants and bad trade deals with other countries has been cunning, but this is another plank in the scam that prevents people from understanding that the main culprits in the hardships endured by American workers are giant corporations abusing their power to deprive workers of a fair share in the profits earned from their work and profit-enhancing increases in their productivity.  Conspiring with big businesses in this effort are conniving rich people who control our country and decide our national policies.

A classic example of how political corruption is adversely affecting the American people through the lobbyist-driven formulation of bad laws can be found in a "21st Century Cures" bill that the lame-duck Congress has passed in the waning days of the Obama administration.  A reasonably good bipartisan medical innovation law that would invest in medical research and deal with mental health issues and protect genetic privacy for patients and improve foster care and provide funding for Vice President Joe Biden's efforts to fight cancer has been hijacked by Big Pharma and big Republican donors.  They have, according to details provided by Senator Elizabeth Warren, inserted provisions in the law that would make it easier for giant drug companies to commit fraud, give out kickbacks, and put patient's lives at bigger risk.  This is just another example of corporate abuses of power, similar to the insertion of a provision into the Medicare Prescription Drug Act of 2003 that has cost American taxpayers something like $1 trillion by preventing the Medicare program from negotiating volume discounts and favorable pricing of prescription drugs.  The obvious intent of this socially foolish provision was to give bigger profits to Big Pharma, even though this was accomplished by foisting higher costs on taxpayers and driving up the national debt.

"It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class

   except Congress."

                              --- Mark Twain, Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar

The heated anti-establishment mood of the American people stunned many observers during this long election process, and it sure makes one wonder how incumbent politicians could have gotten re-elected at such an incredibly high rate despite Congress being regarded with nearly the lowest approval ratings in all of American history.  The unwarranted influence of Big Money is transparently responsible.

It is helpful to cultivate a healthy awareness of the largest possible context of big picture understandings in these matters.  The biggest ideological conflict in modern history is the struggle between Capital and Labor.  It was this mega conflict that sparked the philosophies articulated in Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto, which in turn became the dominating ideological and political conflict during the incalculably costly Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union.  Capital had been roaring until 1929, when its speculative overreach resulted in the severe economic depression of the 1930s and it was forced to face the overriding necessity of going along with the creation of a New Deal safety net to deal with the terrible economic adversities and insecurities that prevailed for so many years.  Capital then had to bide its time after World War II until a new champion in the person of Ronald Reagan came along to help it reassert its domineering hegemony over working people.

Democracy has this grave weakness of being susceptible to an insidious domination by the wealthy, who transform it into a plutocracy in which the Few are the primary beneficiaries of the economy at the expense of the Many.  When this state of affairs prevails and becomes too extreme, increasing inequalities and injustices create dangerous and justified anger.  This is a good time to remember the words of Plutarch, a Roman historian and philosopher, who once warned that an “imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all Republics.” 

The Republican Party has gained dominance by cunningly appealing to the people by stoking hot button social issues while single-mindedly betraying popular best interests by championing the interests of rich conservatives and the rights of giant corporations and banks to abuse the power of their moneyed influence.  Now that these interest groups have gained almost unchecked power by fooling people into thinking Trump would drain this particular swamp, it is daunting to remember that domineering power always tends to corrupt, so our unfairly rigged system is about to be corrupted to an even more extreme degree, and the risks are spiking that revolutionary unrest will stalk the land in reaction.

A united country would be nearly impossible to hijack into supporting the financial and social über-scams described in this essay.  This is why extremely divisive tactics are used to divide people.  In addition to stoking hot button wedge issues, another even more unconscionable ploy is used to divide people and divert their attentions from domestic woes:  waging preemptive wars and engaging in aggressive military exploits and scaring people into supporting arms buildups and intelligence agency intrigues to thwart hyped up fears of threats from abroad.  This strategy has the additional benefit for those who benefit from a hyper-divided populace of stimulating opportunities for profiteering and rationalizing military Keynesian increases in the national debt to finance such intrigues.

The top national priority of the Republican Party for decades has been to reduce taxes on people at the top to gain power.  This is an extraordinarily wrongheaded top priority.  It is a cold calculus that benefits politicians who push this agenda by engendering lavish financial support for their careers from the beneficiaries of this largess, but this blatant corruption is a tragedy that undermines the common good.  A Trump administration would make a huge mistake to continue marching to the drumbeat of orthodoxies like this, and it would very probably lead to economic disaster.  The American people want positive change, not crippling reactionary change.

Robert Reich made a surprising revelation in an article he wrote on December 20, 2015 that was titled The Revolt of the Anxious Class:  ”Last year two highly-respected political scientists … took a close look at 1,799 policy decisions Congress made over the course of over twenty years, and who influenced those decisions.  Their conclusion: “The preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”  We must change this to preserve our democracy -- and Trump is demonstrating that he is NOT the right person to undertake this.

I seriously doubt that even a few percent of Americans would claim that they intended to give a mandate to Trump to enact a tax plan that analysts say would give a family earning between $40,000 and $50,000 a tax break of less than $600 while giving the average millionaire a tax cut of over $300,000.  The fact of the matter is that such tax cuts would be financed by borrowing money and increasing our dangerously large $20 trillion national debt by over $5 trillion in the next ten years.  And I seriously doubt that there are many Americans who favor eliminating Estate taxes levied on the two out of every one thousand Americans who are rich enough under current law to owe any tax at all on the inheritances their families will receive -- after they die -- as Trump wants to do to benefit his children and the financial elites who control our country.

Republicans rationalize their priority of giving debt-financed tax breaks to rich people by claiming that the action will create jobs and stimulate the economy so much that they might even pay for themselves.  But in reality, borrowing to enrich the already rich has the opposite effect from creating jobs.  What really creates jobs in when 99% of the people are better off, not the 1%, because demand for products and services creates economic expansion, not falling demand caused by the relative destitution of the masses.  By slashing taxes and reducing government revenues, pressure builds to reduce government spending, so jobs are eliminated and suppliers of goods and services to the government experience declines in demand, and the economy falters.  As the insightful billionaire entrepreneur Nick Hanauer made clear in The Pitchforks Are Coming ... For Us Plutocrats, this ratchets up the risks of widespread social unrest and violent revolution.  Not good!

Another fact is that when the federal government borrows a huge sum of money like another $1 trillion to finance tax cuts, it will cost taxpayers in future years $1 trillion in interest costs every 15 years or so, over and over and over and over again, even without paying back a penny of the principal borrowed.  So it is a shortsighted scam that is profoundly treacherous to all people in future generations.  It is a form of intergenerational betrayal of taxpayers forever hereafter to cut taxes today merely to pad the bank accounts of the wealthy.

What really happens when tax cuts are put into effect that primarily benefit the wealthy is that wealth becomes more highly concentrated in the hands of the few, and power becomes more narrowly concentrated, and inequalities and social injustices increase, and the risks of revolutionary fervor become more intense, and the government takes steps toward repressive measures to enforce the spiraling unfairness associated with this outcome.  This makes such plans dangerously wrongheaded.

Investors in U.S. equities are driving the U.S. stock market to record highs in the wake of Trump’s Machiavellian victory, apparently blind to the dangers of an authoritarian Trump presidency.  They are presumably celebrating the anti-regulatory, private profit maximizing, cost socializing, climate action eschewing, resource plundering green light that they see shining with an illusory and phony patina before their eyes.  But it won’t be too long before this giddy fervor is doused by the cold reality of what Trump’s actions really portend if he abuses the power of his position in an extremely partisan and uncompromising way, or in a totalitarian way, or if he rashly disrupts international trade.  The U.S. bond market, in dramatic contrast to equities, has suffered big losses in the weeks following the election, portending inflationary pressures and fiscal irresponsibility, and this does not bode well for our country.

Barack Obama has managed to preside over the economy during a period since February 2010 in which there has been a net increase in private sector jobs for an all-time record 80 months in a row, with more than 15 million jobs created.  One contributing factor to this great record has been a moderately more progressively structured tax system that was put into effect in 2014 when tax rates on all earnings over $450,000 for a married couple were increased from 35% to 39.6%.  Trump’s regressive tax cuts will have the opposite effect, and eventually will lead to another economic downturn or a disastrous debt crisis, and his rash anti-trade proposals could precipitate this outcome soon rather than later.

There is a deep element of truth in the O’Roarkian observation that Republicans are "the party that says government doesn't work, and then they get elected and prove it."  But this is no ordinary election, due to its consequential implications for the future of humanity.  Early anti-capitalist critics like Karl Marx insisted that economics must be contained within an ethical context, and that social justice should be accorded higher priority than maximizing private profits at the expense of the public.  Today we are seeing that both economics and ethics must rightly take into account ecological values.  Trump threatens to brashly torpedo these understandings, and harm the economy, violate most decent codes of ethics, sacrifice the environment to short-term profiteering, and maybe even bringing our democracy to an ignominious end.

The two primary purposes of corporate entities are to maximize private profits and shield owners and management from liability and social responsibility for their actions.  Corporate entities facilitate the concentration of wealth in the hands of the few, and they are amoral by design.  It is in keeping with these nefarious purposes that Trump promises to radically slash taxes on corporations and eliminate many of the rules that limit big business from abusing their power to quash competitors and to reduce protections of the health of working people and push for eliminating collective bargaining rights for employees, and to excessively exploit and deplete natural resources and dump toxins and pollutants into the environment and wreak unreasonable damages on the ecological commons and staunchly oppose climate action to benefit fossil fuel industries.

Joel Bakan, in his insightful book The Corporation - The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power, provides a really compelling understanding of the sometimes-psychopathic character of corporations in their dealings with people and their employees and the environment.  In the film based on the book, titled The Corporation, a psychologist and FBI criminal profiler named Dr. Robert Hare describes the many ways that corporate behavior closely corresponds to a checklist of characteristics that the World Health Organization uses to define psychopathic personalities in individuals.  These characteristics include a callous unconcern for the feelings of others, a reckless disregard for public safety, deceitfulness, repeated lying, conning others for profit, an inability to experience guilt or remorse, and a failure to conform to social norms regarding lawful behavior. 

Expectations for Trump to succeed in improving conditions for the masses and uniting Americans are very low, so maybe he has a better chance of exceeding these expectations if he can somehow become a more reasonable leader.  The idea of making big investments in our physical infrastructure is a good one that could contribute to job creation and to fixing our crumbling infrastructure, which the American Society of Engineers gives a pathetic overall D+ grade.  But such investments require funding, and there would be a need to borrow huge sums of money to finance this activity because public funds will be scarce after Trump slashes taxes on corporations and the wealthy.  A resulting debt crisis would eventually spell disaster for billions of people worldwide.

Humankind is at a critical crossroads where concerns about the ecological underpinnings of all prosperity and sustainable well-being are mounting, and we need leaders who can see the crucial importance of given higher priority to issues like social justice and environmental protections and ecological sanity.  Instead of choosing leaders most likely to lead us in the right direction on big issues like this, we have been railroaded into choosing the opposite, i.e. industry apologists who want no limits on their power to exploit workers and natural resources.  Such ideological extremists act as puppets to the rich.  They resemble dastardly deceivers who promise one thing but are loyal mainly to their own career ambitions.  These are Conservatives without Conscience that John Dean has provocatively written about, and they tend to be true believers in uncompassionate and repressive Strict Father paradigms, and radical opponents to the more socially responsible constellation of attitudes and values that are emblematic of honorable Nurturing Parent worldviews, as insightfully articulated by linguist George Lakoff.

Republican politicians have been the main ones responsible for the current catastrophic climate of the American electorate.  Not only have they stoked inequality with their regressive tax breaks for the rich, but they have worked tirelessly to decimate the collective bargaining rights of working people, and they have been the biggest boosters of trade deals that have sent millions of jobs abroad and reduced real wages and driven illegal immigration from Mexico.  They have been the anti-regulatory engineers of the financial crisis of 2008 and the resulting impulses of austerity that have made millions of Americans more insecure and saddled students with huge amounts of debt.  They are the ones who have spent eight years undermining every effort President Obama has made to improve the prospects of working people and Americans citizens in general.  They have contributed mightily to the creation of the class of American voters who distrust their federal government and are openly antagonistic to it.

Robert Reich lays the responsibility for Trump’s dangerous victory on three enabling entities -- the Republican Party, the media, and the Democratic Party.  He makes compellingly good points in an Opinion article he published on Sunday, November 13, and I highly recommend that readers peruse his perspectives to understand how we have gotten into the predicaments in which we stand.

Trump supporters who feel left behind by the events of the past 35 years, and particularly since the recession of 2008, are in the process of being roundly betrayed by Trump and his administration, for what trickles down to them will be more hard times swindles and austerity, and a very dangerous spike in the national debt, and stoked antagonisms and probably a budding police-state-like repression to enforce the increasing inequities and injustices associated with the sudden unrestrained agenda of “conservative” billionaires.

These are strong words.  Let’s put a marker right here in time --December 27, 2016.  Let’s make a fair-minded assessment one year from now to determine whether Trump supporters will be happy that he will be helping them and delivering on his promises to “Make America Great Again”, or whether Trump skeptics will be justified in feeling that his triumph will be causing catastrophic discord and widespread disruption and extensive new hardships and ramped up inequality and worsening race relations and costly climate disruptions and less cooperation on the international stage and more repressive governance and consequentially negative impacts in human affairs.

Consequentialist ethics would say that despotism is deplorable in degrees, depending on the number of people that a tyrant adversely affects, and the severity of the oppression, and the exact nature of the injustices perpetrated.  The tyrannies imposed by Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mao Tse-Tung, Pol Pot, Augusto Pinochet and Saddam Hussein are among the most notorious and lethal in history. 

In reading these words, I encourage you to maintain a big picture perspective.  Consider every issue from the wise and fair perspective of consequential ethics, and evaluate the merits of any decision or course of action by an honest assessment of the most likely impacts it will have on the most number of people over the longest period of time.  This is, bottom line, common sense.  It is a highly respect-worthy utilitarian philosophy that commendably values decisions made in the interests of what is most likely to represent the greatest good.  This was a guiding philosophy of Gifford Pinchot, the first chief of the U.S. Forest Service, who applied this honorable principle to the management of American public forests soon after Theodore Roosevelt created the Forest Service in 1905.  This perspective was an early translation of the golden rule "ethic of reciprocity" into a visionary guiding principle of precautionary action.

In French, the noun trompeur has a meaning of "one who deceives or misleads."  Trump has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he is, in both word and in deed, a trompeur.  One is tempted to mildly swear, “You’re Joshing me”, as they said in reference to a deaf mute counterfeiter named Josh Tatum during the last Gilded Age in 1883.  Trump’s peddles a phony patina of honest rectitude -- “I'm a truth teller.  All I do is tell the truth.”  But this assertion is belied by the nonpartisan fact-checking organization PolitiFact’s assessment of a large number of Trump’s statements, in which it found that an astonishing 70% of them were either “mostly false, false or pants on fire” lies.  Seventy percent!  What this really means is that Trump more accurately “tells it like it isn’t.”

“Thou shalt not be dishonest” may not be one of the Ten Commandments, but fit is crucially valuable to evaluate important issues from the viewpoint of honestly understanding the consequence of a course of action.  This is the best way to evaluate Trump's qualifications for the highest office in the land -- by considering them from the point of view of common sense "consequential ethics".  There are plenty of serious angles to consider, but the single worst aspect of Trump's potential leadership is that he threatens the common good, properly understood.  His backward stance on environmental issues is especially anti-democratic because he favors allowing environmental despoliation merely so that private profits can be maximized at the cost of socializing a significant variety of costs onto other Americans, and onto billions of folks around the world, and inevitably onto countless of our descendants forevermore.  Need resources, anyone?  Appreciate clean air and clean water?  Care about coral reefs?  Love untrammeled wilderness?  Enjoy peaceful coexistence?  Or even just want to help preserve coastal property values from draconian declines?

Let us eat the fine fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and see with startling clarity the true nature of right and wrong.  The Bible tells us in the Ten Commandments that two of the most important ethical principles are not to commit adultery and not to covet your neighbor's wife.  Now there may be some wisdom in these prohibitions, but a much more important understanding of Right Conduct can be found in consequential ethics because the ultimate basis for any judgment about the rightness or wrongness of any conduct is found in how broadly propitious or negative the consequences of one’s actions are on the lives of others.  Actions that wreak widespread hardships on tens of millions of Americans and undermine the well-being of all of humanity in the future are a lot worse than a petty crime like stealing or coveting thy neighbor’s sexy wife.  It is far worse than coveting one’s neighbor’s wife to covet money and power so much that one ruthlessly uses a devious bait-and-switch scheme to rip off untold numbers of people by going all-in to ramp up financial swindles that I outline above in detail as “the Biggest Financial Scam in World History”.

Let’s think like a business person for a moment, and one who sees a bigger picture than just making money no matter what the costs or harms.  It is just wrong to allow rich people to continue to engage in this historic financial scam of abusing the power of their moneyed influence to get politicians to rig our tax system to give them unaffordably low tax rates, as they have been doing since 1981.  It is wrong because the bottom line result of this scam has been to add $19 trillion to the national debt, and to constrain spending on public education and healthcare and other provisions of our social safety net that provide a modicum of security to the two-thirds of Americans who live paycheck to paycheck. 

Thomas Paine lent perspective to such a juncture:

“'Tis not the concern of a day, a year, or an age;  posterity are virtually involved in the contest, and will be more or less affected even to the end of time, by the proceedings now.  Now is the seed-time of Continental union, faith and honor.  The least fracture now will be like a name engraved with the point of a pin on the tender rind of a young oak; the wound would enlarge with the tree, and posterity read in it full grown characters.”

Subsidiary Themes

We live in a shallow short-attention-span sound-bite society where 140-character tweets have helped get a brash real estate developer and reality TV celebrity provisionally anointed as president-elect.  The renowned feminist Gloria Steinem has written in the Introduction to her exceptionally thoughtful book My Life on the Road, "What we're told about this country is way too limited by generalities, sound bites and even the supposedly enlightened idea that there are two sides to every question.  In fact, many questions have three or seven or a dozen sides.  Altogether, if I'd been looking at nothing but the media all the years of my travels, I would be a much more discouraged person, especially given the notion that only conflict is news, and that objectivity means being evenhandedly negative."

Due to demographic trends, Steinem points out, the majority of Americans will not be of Caucasian descent within thirty years or so.  This is one reason that a white nationalist backlash has just helped make Trump the president-elect.  Gloria Steinem writes that the sense of identity of many Americans depends on an old "white male Christian hierarchy", and their willingness to vote for a stunningly flawed candidate for president may be a choice made from guilt and fear -- "What if I am treated as I have treated others?"

Steinem adds that, "with all the power and money that is behind it, this backlash could imprison us in a hierarchy all over again."  This prescient observation, made in 2015, casts a bright light of illumination on what has just happened in the 2016 national elections.  The old white male hierarchy has seized power through unscrupulous means, with the clear intent of consequentially abusing this ill-gotten power.  To hold onto this power, given the illegitimacy of its methods and the betrayal of trust being revealed in the deceits about how it intends to govern, the authoritarian leaders in this hierarchy will probably be able to hold onto power only by imposing an uncertain variety of repressive measures, because the fundamental premises of the authorities in this hierarchy are not fairness and inclusiveness, but rather defensive fear that the coming minority status of white people could result in the new majority treating the power abusers in ways similar to the way they have treated all other minorities.

Theodor Geisel, who is popularly revered as Dr. Seuss, was a writer and children’s book author who created political cartoons early in his career that show a passionate opposition to fascism.  Geisel portrayed the fear of communism as overstated, and found bigger threats to the American people in Senator Joseph McCarthy’s power-abusing witch-hunt House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s, which targeted not only communist sympathizers but also American liberals, intellectuals and Hollywood screenwriters and directors and producers.   

Many of Theodor Geisel's books commendably express his views on a remarkable variety of social and political issues, including the dangers of environmental despoliation in The Lorax, the crazy human prepossession with materialism and consumerism in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Dr. Seuss' humorous criticism of arrogant authoritarianism in Yertle the Turtle, the insanity of the arms race in The Butter Battle Book, the merits of racial equality in The Sneetches, and the anti-social risks of isolationism and the virtues of positive involvements as responsible members of the international community in Horton Hears a Who!

One of the most famous rhyme-ers of all 

Was Dr. Seuss, who among men always stood tall

He cared greatly about true social justice

And it is time for us all today to honestly discuss this

For "... NOW comes an act of Enormous Enormance!

No former performer's performed this performance!"

Artists and writers are often the subject of intimidation and repression by authoritarian leaders because they stand for Right Mindfulness in speaking truth to power.  It is, however, generally in society's best interests to valiantly and committedly protect the freedom of expression.

Masha Gessen is a writer who studied Vladimir Putin and other totalitarian rulers and was inspired to pen the provocative book Autocracy: Rules for Survival, in which she noted that we should not pretend that America is starting from scratch and its president-elect is a clean slate, and that “we owe him an open mind.”  Donald Trump, after all, promises the whole litany of things like opposing minimum wages, deporting millions of immigrants, creating a system of surveillance specifically targeting Muslim Americans, building that wall on the border with Mexico, and advocating war crimes, endorsing torture, and repeatedly threatening to jail Hillary Clinton. 

"The national press is likely to be among the first institutional victims of Trumpism.  There is no law that requires the presidential administration to hold daily briefings, none that guarantees media access to the White House.  Many journalists may soon face a dilemma long familiar to those of us who have worked under autocracies: fall in line or forfeit access.  There is no good solution (even if there is a right answer), for journalism is difficult and sometimes impossible without access to information."

"The power of the investigative press -- whose adherence to fact has already been severely challenged by the conspiracy-minded, lie-spinning Trump campaign -- will grow weaker.  The world will grow murkier.  Even in the unlikely event that some mainstream media outlets decide to declare themselves in opposition to the current government, or even simply to report its abuses and failings, the president will get to frame many issues.  Coverage, and thinking, will drift in a Trumpian direction, just as it did during the campaign -- when, for example, the candidates argued, in essence, whether Muslim Americans bear collective responsibility for acts of terrorism or can redeem themselves by becoming the “eyes and ears” of law enforcement.  Thus was xenophobia further normalized, paving the way for Trump to make good on his promises to track American Muslims and ban Muslims from entering the United States."

Because Trump has lashed out verbally at every critic and made rude and insulting attacks on Mexicans, immigrants, Muslims, women, disabled people, prisoners of war and Gold Star military families, there is no doubt that he will severely abuse the power of the presidency by lashing out physically with chilling authoritarianism, starting with intimidation of Americans who exercise their First Amendment-guaranteed freedom of expression.

He may engage in a libel lawsuit mania, or harshly retributive actions against lawyers and judges and politicians who oppose him.  There is an ominous risk of his actions being defended with police-state repression or an emergency national security danger, bringing with it a catastrophic collision of white supremacism with the demographic reality of growing racial and ethnic diversity in the USA and the world.

President Theodore Roosevelt made it clear that criticism of elected leaders is well justified, when he stated:

"The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole.  Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right.  Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile.  To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.  Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or anyone else.  But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about anyone else.

Trump wants to suppress protests and repress the freedom of speech.  He apparently got real angry when the cast of the highly acclaimed play Hamilton felt compelled to communicate a heartfelt message to Trump’s vice presidential candidate Mike Pence, who attended a performance of this musical about our Founding Fathers on November 18.  After this very popular theatrical production concluded, Brandon Victor Dixon, the actor who plays Vice President Aaron Burr, took a microphone and addressed the audience and Mr. Pence with these ringing words:

"You know, we have a guest in the audience this evening -- Vice President-elect Pence, I see you walking out, but I hope you hear just a few more moments."

"Sir, we hope that you will hear us out.  We, sir, are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us -- our planet, our children, our parents -- or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir.  But we truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.  All of us.”

In response to these courageous words, Trump angrily tweeted the following morning:  "The cast and producers of Hamilton, which I hear is highly overrated, should immediately apologize to Mike Pence for their terrible behavior", and "Our wonderful future V.P. Mike Pence was harassed last night at the theater by the cast of Hamilton, cameras blazing.  This should not happen!"

Anthony D. Romero, the executive director of ACLU responded, "President-elect Trump needs a refresher on his high school civics class.  It's Trump -- not the cast of Hamilton -- that should offer an apology.  Americans don't apologize -- not even to presidents or vice presidents -- for the lawful and proper exercise of their constitutional rights.  The First Amendment is a cornerstone of our democracy, and Democratic and Republican presidents alike have understood that freedom of speech makes our country stronger -- even if it sometimes make our leaders uncomfortable."

In the overheated aftermath of the national election and before the Electoral College electors choose who is to lead us into the turbulent future, the fervor of the election theatrics has died down from a fever-pitch maelstrom of propaganda to a Twittering tintinnabulation of bizarre pronouncements, like Trump’s November 28 tweet: “Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag -- if they do, there must be consequences -- perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!”

The flag is a symbol, and Trump’s blustery condemnation of anyone who might burn it in protest against injustices should give every American well-justified reason to be afraid of his reaction-exploiting authoritarian bents.  Even the Supreme Court has upheld the right of free expression that is represented by this symbolic act, though the now deceased Justice Antonin Scalia said in 2015, “If it were up to me, I would put in jail every sandal-wearing, scruffy-bearded weirdo who burns the American flag.  But I am not king.”  Trump is not King, nor will he be.

Such threats of disproportional penalties to any patriotic protestor who burns the flag constitutes a power-abusing penalty so unconstitutional that it is harsher than the punishment meted out to murderers or treacherous national security-compromising spies or genocidal war criminals.  It is as if Trump regards the burning the flag as a symbol of intolerable resistance to the Supreme Leader.  We Americans are getting a glimpse of the master manipulator’s true colors, and this is our last chance to fire him before this presidential apprentice becomes His Excellency and Mastermind of the Revolution and destroys our democratic republic to replace it with a nightmare of despotism and regressive policy and repressive actions against any and every group of people who dare to object or displease him in any way.

“You measure a democracy by the freedom it gives its dissidents, not the freedom it gives its assimilated


                  --- 1960s Political activist Abbie Hoffman

Charles M. Blow wrote in a December 5th Op-Ed piece in the New York Times, which is titled Trump’s Agents of Idiocracy, that Donald Trump made a "Thank You Tour" stop in Cincinnati a few weeks after the election, and instead of being magnanimous and conciliatory in an respectable effort to heal and unite the American people, he instead continued his boasting and gloating.  Charles Blow incisively pointed out that "Trump and his agents of idiocracy are now engaged in an all-out crusade to exaggerate the scope of his victory, rewrite racial history, justify their vendettas and hostilities, and erase the very distinction between true and false."  He also provocatively wrote:

"The truest measure of a leader is as much about how he or she attains power as how he or she wields it;  while the latter is yet to be determined, the former has been revealed in devastating clarity."

" ... the emergence of Donald Trump as a political figure has threatened to kill many of the ideals that we hold dear:  decency and decorum, inclusion and empathy, truth and facts themselves."

"... Trump has shown himself beyond doubt and with absolute certainty to be a demagogue and bigot and xenophobe and has given space and voice to concordant voices in the country and in his emerging Legion of Doom cabinet ... In that reality, resistance isn’t about mindless obstruction by people blinded by the pain of ideological defeat or people gorging on sour grapes.  To the contrary, resistance then is an act of radical, even revolutionary, patriotism.  Resistance isn’t about damaging the country, but protecting it."

Progressive-minded folks tend to be much more magnanimous than uncompromising conservatives, but most of them see Trump's triumph as a tragedy acutely contrary to the common good, and they are having a very difficult time finding it in their hearts to offer congratulations to the gloating victors.  After all, this was no ordinary contest, and Republicans achieved their victory in extremely dirty, unethical ways by exploiting fear and antagonisms and hatred and resentments, and by offering hollow promises for making America great again that are now morphing into making our nation a more divided, discriminatory, stressed out, unstable and intolerant country, at great risk and harm to us all.

It Can't Happen Here

Throughout history, oligarchic rule by the few has often been characterized by despotic tyranny, because the only way this profoundly undemocratic unfairness can be perpetuated is by imposing dictates on the people that make them obedient and using repressive measures.  Today in the United States, our form of government has become a plutocracy, a type of oligarchy in which rich people wield excessive power.

Look at what is happening here, and in nations around the world, for it is becoming pathologically clear.  This is earth shaking.  Right-wing political leaders are seizing power through demagogic tactics of exploiting people's fears, anti-immigrant sentiments, fomented insecurities and agitated antipathies, particularly in the U.S., Great Britain, Italy and India.  Such leaders have also become major factors in politics in Sweden, Germany, Poland and France.  These reactionary politicians are using the power they gain through this exploitation of fears to advance the narrow and myopic interests of millionaires and billionaires.  This is another form of a cunning hard-times swindle that gives rich and powerful people more money and more control over the populace, and threatens the prosperity, security, personal freedoms and well-being of all of humanity.  This domineering hegemony of an elite few over the subjected masses of the anxious many is an insidiously anti-social ruse that is subversive of the greater good, and of the broadly civilizing influences of fair trade and democratic fair-mindedness.

Wise patriots recognize that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.  We the People have been incredibly distracted from being vigilant by the deadly serious demagogic antics of this master manipulator, who has manifestly mesmerized the people and the media in order to triumph in the contest for the most powerful position on the planet.  This appears for all the world like a hostile takeover of the U.S. government, and it is almost too late to stop Trump from cementing his hold on power and consolidating power with a cabal of loyalists.  This is a revolting development because it is an impending subversion of our democracy.

We are like frogs sitting in a pot of water that is slowly being brought to a boil.  Millions of Americans watch and even salute as right-wing fascism is being insidiously imposed upon our country.  Slowly, but surely, fanned fears of dangers from immigrants and threats from abroad are being exploited in a clamor for order.  This rise of neo-fascist control is being facilitated by a distorted sense of patriotism and feelings of humiliation.  Long ago it was written that when and if fascism comes to America, it will be called Americanism.  Similar insights contained in Sinclair Lewis' 1935 novel It Can't Happen Here have been popularly interpreted as "when fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."

Now the threat of an authoritarian dictatorship arising from within to impose its anti-American hegemony over the citizenry has materialized like a nightmare of fiction on Reality TV, and it has arisen under the deceptive guise of Making America Great Again.

Fascism is a form of radical far-right authoritarian nationalism led by a strong demagogic leader who proclaims a desperate need for a major transformation of society, often along racial lines, and generally seeks to establish a totalitarian state and impose protectionist and interventionist economic policies and imperialist foreign policies.  Extreme social unrest will unfold as it becomes ever more clear that Trump and his Republican loyalists are betraying the American people by insidiously shredding the social safety net and undermining the well-being of the vast majority of Americans in order to finance regressive tax cuts that primarily benefit the top 1%.

Ironically, these leaders gain support by taking advantage of populist passions but then champion anti-populist policies that satisfy the demands of ruthless bankers and captains of industry and powerful wealthy elites.  Republicans are clearly planning to give huge tax breaks to the rich while increasing spending on the military and police forces, and since we have already run up the national debt to very dangerous levels to finance the previous episodes of this trickle-down Big Lie and military imperialism and record rates of domestic incarceration, there is only one way to finance this ungodly largess, and that is by cutting spending on social programs like public education, health care for older Americans (Medicare), healthcare for the poor (Medicaid) and Affordable Care insurance policies.

The Goddess of Irony has gotten together with Nemesis, the Greek God of Divine Retribution, to watch these proceedings from the heavens above, and they both seem contemplative at the hubris of hard right-wing demagogic politicians who cravenly crave power and go about getting it by fanning the populist flames of anti-immigrant and anti-refugee sentiments, while deceiving the populace as to their true intentions of greedily usurping and abusing power.  In effect, right-wing leaders take advantage of people's darker impulses and repress the better angels of our nature. 

The fight for social justice has gotten much more difficult with Mr. Trump's bid for domineering power.  Those who speak out for social justice have suffered a critical setback, and basic fairness, equal rights and expanding opportunity are under assault.  Those who speak truth to power are being endangered, as are their neighbors, families and all the people in our nation.

All Americans should join together in unity to express solidarity with the noble sentiments of the Founding Father Samuel Adams:"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace."

Sometimes life sensationally imitates art.  In 1935, the famed writer Sinclair Lewis imagined a very Trump-like character named Buzz Windrip challenging Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1936 presidential election, and winning by using scurrilously manipulative demagoguery.  What then unfolded in Sinclair Lewis' book It Can't Happen Here was a cavalcade of unrest and resistance that was met with repressive paramilitary forces, and the resulting chaos was calamitous to the American people.

Unaccountable power represents an existentially dangerous threat to the greater good, especially when wielded by politicians without conscience who put their own career and ambition far ahead of concerns for the common good.  An unconscionably corrupt principle appears to underlie everything Republican politicians stand for.  They regard gaining domineering power as being more important than anything else, including moral Right Action.  This is why they have adopted the virulently anti-democratic strategy of pandering to wealthy conservatives with regressive tax plans financed by huge increases in the national debt.

Author Masha Gessen commented on what Hillary Clinton should have said after Trump's triumph over her, indicating that instead of being so magnanimous in conceding the presidential race, she should have said:

"Thank you, my friends. Thank you. Thank you.  We have lost. We have lost, and this is the last day of my political career, so I will say what must be said.  We are standing at the edge of the abyss.  Our political system, our society, our country itself are in greater danger than at any time in the last century and a half.  The president-elect has made his intentions clear, and it would be immoral to pretend otherwise.  We must band together right now to defend the laws, the institutions, and the ideals on which our country is based.”

Think about the famous statement written by the German Pastor Martin Niemöller concerning the cowardice of German intellectuals following the rise of Nazis to power and the subsequent purging of their chosen targets, group after group:

"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out -- Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out -- Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out -- Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me -- and there was no one left to speak for me."

Many variations of this poem have been penned since the November election, and a series of tweets by Raphael Bob-Waksberg rings with the most visceral resonance:

First he came for the Muslims, and I said "Guys, let's take a wait-and-see approach here."

Then he came for the Mexican Americans, and I said, "Let's not be sore losers just because the other guy won."

Then he came for the press, and I said, "What makes this country great is our peaceful transitions of power."

Then he came for the women, and I said, "Try to have some compassion for the frustrations of the other side."

Then he came for the black community, and I said, "I know it sucks, but wait four years."

Then he came for me, and I said, "How could this have happened?  I did everything I could."

No justice, no peace.

Mark these words.  Mr. Trump poses a dire threat to a free press.  He is most likely to come first for Hispanic immigrants with deportation agents.  He may well crack down harshly on protestors who oppose him, and has already attempted to de-legitimatize protestors by charging that they are professional agitators, basically denying that the fear he has inspired with his insult-heavy rhetoric is in any way justified.  His actions against Muslims and other minorities could ignite a constitutional crisis and dramatically strengthen worldwide recruiting support for terrorist groups.  He has threatened women who get an abortion with some form of punishment, and vowed to appoint Supreme Court Justices who will overturn Roe vs. Wade, an act that would result in thousands of women dying from unsafe abortions.  And it is not at all inconceivable, given his vindictive history of retaliation against anyone who opposes him, that he will come after other individuals and groups like liberals, intellectuals, writers, artists, professors and Jews.  He may also take repressive actions against Black Lives Matter activists and other African Americans, who are already disproportionately locked up in prisons.

“Trump was swept to power in large part by white working-class voters who responded to his vow to restore the voices of forgotten people, ones drowned out by big business and Wall Street,” according to a front page article in the New York Times on November 12.  Trump campaigned against the corrupt power of special interests, but now he is apparently betraying his supporters by filling his transition team and prospective Cabinet with Wall Street executives and corporate consultants and industry insiders and lobbyists and hard-line generals.  The proof that Trump has been a con man are going to become glaringly obvious because of this involvement of so many people who have helped rig the system against the masses.

Trump has made two worrisome picks for his national security team -- the Benghazi witch-hunt leader Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo as CIA director and the contentious General Michael Flynn as national security advisor.  These choices make it clear that he plans on pushing a dangerously immoderate hard-line agenda on foreign policy.

Trump’s proposal to create a "Commission on Radical Islam" resembles the notorious 1950s Joseph McCarthy Un-American Activities Committee whose investigations into suspected Communists resulted in some of the most severe political repression in American history -- so far.  “Today, as falsehoods are spread quickly on the Internet and accepted as true, this risk may be even more acute,” observes Faiza Patel in a New York Times article.  And Trump’s choice of Michael Flynn as his top national security advisor is a clear sign that the president-elect is going extreme on international affairs, for Flynn claims that Islam is a “political ideology”, not a religion, and that Islamic law is spreading in the United States, when in fact what is really spreading is the reactive danger of ruthless Trumpian repression.

This gathering evidence shows that Trump is really not earnest about representing all Americans.  We the People need to be vigilant to his actions and proposed Cabinet picks to make sure that he does not act like a notorious demagogue such as Adolf Hitler, who basically staged a repressive coup d'état less than one month after he was appointed Chancellor of Germany in January 1933.  Remember how Hitler sensationally used the "false flag attack" of a suspicious fire that broke out in the German Parliament building -- the Reichstag -- as a convenient pretext to deprive the German people of their civil liberties and effectively end German democracy overnight.  This danger is real.  We cannot afford to have our key civil liberties nullified overnight by any sort of similar ruse.  "With Nazis in powerful positions in the German government", Wikipedia explains, an infamous Reichstag Fire Decree "was used as the legal basis for the imprisonment of anyone considered to be opponents of the Nazis, and to suppress publications not considered 'friendly' to the Nazi cause.  The decree is considered by historians to be one of the key steps in the establishment of a one-Party Nazi state in Germany."  And THAT didn’t turn out good!

Republicans have won what may well prove to be one-party domineering rule in the USA, with the outrageously scurrilous help of the Director of the FBI, who threw the outcome of the election from a Democratic presidency and a Democratic Senate and a more liberal Supreme Court, all imminent probabilities just 11 days before the election, to an alt-right dominated monopoly on power that represents an extreme threat to many of the civil liberties enjoyed by American citizens. Conservatives and Trump supporters, still giddy from their triumph, should wake up to this dangerous development and demand that our representatives take strong official steps before Inauguration Day to strengthen protections of our cherished freedoms and our democratic form of government.

Trump apparently regarded the two most famous demagogues in modern history -- Adolf Hitler and the red-baiting demagogue Senator Joseph McCarthy -- as role models to a certain extent, and one of his mentors was the unscrupulously manipulative lawyer Roy Cohn, who was instrumental in McCarthy’s crusade against Communism and liberals.  A comparison of Trump with fascist dictators like Adolf Hitler may sound gratuitous and smack of being an example of Godwin's law about the inevitability of eventual online references to Hitler in any debate, but it is well justified to make such a comparison due to Trump's proposals to deport millions of people and prevent Muslims from entering the U.S., and his political strategy of taking advantage of people's anger, insecurities, fears, racial antipathies and xenophobia to gain power.  "But if that wasn't enough to make a Hitler comparison seem valid, how about this excerpt from Anthony Savignano's excellent early '90s Vanity Fair profile of Donald and Ivana Trump, which is floating around in the zeitgeist again", and is worth hearing.  Listen to this excerpt:

"Last April, perhaps in a surge of Czech nationalism, Ivana Trump told her lawyer Michael Kennedy that from time to time her husband reads a book of Hitler’s collected speeches, My New Order, which she said he keeps in a cabinet by his bed.  Kennedy now guards a copy of My New Order in a closet at his office, as if it were a grenade.  Hitler’s speeches, from his earliest days up through the Phony War of 1939, reveal his extraordinary ability as a master propagandist."

Trump has been evasive about this account.  "If I had these speeches, and I am not saying that I do, I would never read them," he asserted.  Never read them, eh?  That's like saying that maybe you have been seen smoking a joint, but that you had not inhaled.  Yeah, right.

Unfortunately, we seem to live in a "post-truth" world.  The editors at Oxford Dictionaries have just anointed "post-truth" as the word of the year, defining it as "relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief."  It appears that demagoguery is in the process of triumphing, and the Age of Reason, also known as the Age of Enlightenment, is at risk of being repealed! 

Eternal vigilance is required to keep despotism at bay.  It appears for all the world like We the People have been duped by this demagogic con man, and it is scary to get the impression that this egomaniacally narcissistic character seems to be so strongly motivated by money and the egomaniacal thirst for power, and is profound lacking in honesty, empathy, compassion, civility, magnanimity, respect for women, honor, virtue, statesmanship, maturity, moral rectitude or ethical sanity.

“These are the times that try men’s souls,” as Thomas Paine was wont to say.  Is it even remotely possible that our plutocratic American democracy could become a dictatorship?  Most Americans would deny that there is any chance of this and express complacent confidence that it can't happen here in the USA.  Our civil and military institutions are strong.  But we are in entirely uncharted waters with this Twittering demagogue president-elect, and considering his vengeful persona and unempathetic self-centeredness, every American should demand a pledge from each and every one of our representatives to strongly oppose any subversion of our democratic institutions by Trump.

Republican politicians have generally proclaimed a mandate in recent years for an excessively right-wing agenda, and they govern rashly, ruthlessly, uncompromisingly, divisively and harshly, and as if the contest is a zero sum game where the winner takes all.  This is wrong.  Far from winning a strong mandate, Republicans have won an illegitimate victory, and possibly a Pyrrhic one.  Trump got fewer votes than Hillary Clinton, so Republicans should not rule with tyrannical and oppressive one-sidedness.  However, judging from the sycophants and extreme ideologues and alt-right strategists that Trump is assembling to be a part of his administration, they will likely rule with ruthlessly authoritarian unfairness.

Mark Twain called the phrase, "Our Country, right or wrong ... an insult to the nation."  Remembering the great author’s words about true patriotism being loyalty to one's country, not to its institutions or its officeholders, let’s all look Mr. Trump square in the eye and ask, in honor of the tens of millions of Americans who have died in the patriotic duty of protecting our liberties and the values represented by our Constitution and the Bill of Rights and the rules of law in our democratic republic, that he make an irrevocable commitment not to impose any semblance of dictatorial rule on us, under any circumstances, in these already terribly divided United States of America.  The majority of the American people feel that Trump’s rise to power presents a clear and present danger to our liberties, and because of the demagogic nature of his rise to power and his demonstrated authoritarian tendencies, he represents the biggest threat ever in our country's history of our government being overthrown from within.  

Today, this brazen and extremely dangerous demagogue has induced a bout of temporary insanity in our psyches, and this alarming development has served to make this tyrant-wannabe our president-elect.  But every honest American should now recognize this resentment-engendered and fear-actualized moment of error, and should now join together to speak out about the overriding desirability of retracing our steps and seeking to regain the road that is most likely to lead toward reaffirmed assurances of liberty and justice for all, and peaceful coexistence, and personal safety that is found in overarching guarantees of the freedoms spelled out in the Bill of Rights.

Many of the British "brexiteers" who voted for the UK to leave the European Union are suffering a serious case of "bremorse" at their votes, but this pales in comparison to the extreme remorse that the American people will experience in light of the obvious treachery of Trump's intentions to govern from the far right instead of the middle, and to impose his Trumpian authority on Americans who have heretofore been guaranteed fundamental civil liberties.

Mr. Trump has given American citizens very little real reason to trust him or his word, so I ask that each and every current and newly elected member of Congress make an irrevocable commitment that they will honorably do everything in their power to prevent any kind of coup d'état by the Trump administration that would deprive any class of American citizens of a significant degree of the liberties they enjoy today, particularly including Mexican Americans, Muslim Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, Jewish Americans, gay Americans and female Americans.

Trump has riled up people's emotions with his demagoguery, and this has given the vast majority of Americans real cause for feeling insecure about his pending tenure as president.  His decision to empower the firebrand alt-right propagandist Steve Bannon as his Chief Strategist and senior advisor, perhaps of public enlightenment and public relations propaganda, is causing alarm bells to ring ominously around the globe, reinforcing this need for strong reassurances today.  Bannon promoted conspiracy theories of the wildest variety when he was the fringe media head of Breitbart News, so he should be able to honestly admit that the American people are fully justified in regarding it as a great danger that Trump could radically abuse the power of the presidency, and that our desires are valid for powerful guarantees that our cherished freedoms will not be taken away. 

Bannon has been described as the "Leni Riefenstahl of the Tea Party movement" for his extremely manipulative media spin.  It may be recalled that Leni Riefenstahl is possibly the most famous propaganda filmmaker in history, having created films like Triumph of the Will to catapult Hitler's propaganda and drone the German people's minds into dutifully obeying the fascist dictator.

Recent history is not reassuring in the matter of presidents abusing executive power.  George Bush consequentially abused the power of the presidency in a litany of extremely costly ways, including lying to the people to gain support for preemptive wars and long-lasting military occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq.  And conservatives accuse President Obama of having outrageously abused his power with Executive Orders to implement a Clean Power Plan and to lift the threat of deportation from an entire class of young undocumented immigrants, and other such things.

Breathe in and breathe out, and seek calm and equanimity.  Let’s suppose that efforts to have the Electoral College elect Hillary fail, even though she is by far the most qualified candidate to lead the USA to a safer and more moderate future.  And suppose Trump will have a shred of conscience and will not be one of those demagogues who uses his ill-gained power to topple our democracy.  Then let’s honestly evaluate where we stand at this crucial juncture in American history.

If we are lucky enough to avoid the potentiality of our democracy meeting its demise in dictatorship, the American people need to be hyper-alert to make sure that the tactics Trump used during his campaign do not morph into deceitful and dangerous strategies and policies that severely undermine the common good during his tenure. 

Tens of millions of Americans justifiably feel that our political system is rigged, and that they are personally shut out of the political process due to the unfair influence of Big Money.  Every one of these people should recognize that our American experiment in democracy has become "a sham equality of votes nullified by a gaping inequality of wealth," but it need not remain this way.  All Americans should strongly support democracy reforms such as public financing of elections, the restoration of voting rights for all citizens, and new laws that overturn the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling that allows undue influence of money in our elections and law-making, and in determining our national priorities.

In the 1935 film Triumph of the Will, the most famous early propaganda filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl showcased a droning cavalcade of psychologically manipulative images extolling Nazi greatness and the expected virtues of duty and patriotism and blind obedience by the German people.  After Donald Trump’s triumph of invective and manipulative fear-mongering and vile exploitation of people’s prejudices and the reactive fervor of white male nationalists, he gave a startlingly uncharacteristic victory speech in which he declared that he would be a president who cared for all the people, a beautiful thing, thus giving the American people a nanosecond of hope that he could rise above the shrewdly manipulative character of his bigotry-spewing and sexist campaign self in all its socio-pathological vitriol and extreme divisiveness and deep dishonesty.

Reason trumps faith, and faith trumps fear, and fear trumps reason, as Al Gore made abundantly clear in The Assault on Reason.  So Trump’s stunning triumph over liberty-loving democracy should not really have been such a big surprise.  He used fear to trump reason, and now the unreasonable is poised to reside at the nexus of power.  The president-elect exploited reason-hijacking resentments and fear very effectively, lying and deceiving the American people with unbelievable presumption, and pretending he cares about the downtrodden and those who have been left behind by policies and trade deals that benefit corporations and rich elites.  He exploited people’s resentments and feelings of alienation on account of modernity and multiculturalism and urban progressivism.  The fact of the matter is that Trump demonstrably cares mainly for money and power and self-aggrandizement and ambition, and he shows little of the better angels of human nature or conscience or scruples to limit his behaviors and steer them toward fair-mindedness, ethical action, or any of the hallmarks of true social intelligence or civility or compassion.

The president-elect managed to emerge triumphant by scurrilously appealing primarily to white males and other “authoritarian followers” by means of many of the powerfully manipulative tactics known by demagogic tyrants throughout history to be effective in attracting support.  This was a Triumph of the Will that poses an extreme threat to the cherished liberties and safety of the American people, and it could bring our great American experiment in democratic governance to an inglorious end after so many long years of struggle and hard-fought progress.

Our national struggles are about to radically intensify if Donald Trump is sworn in to lead us on January 20.  Think about the "blood-thirstiness against internal enemies and evil foreigners" that has unfolded in India since the May 2014 election of Narendra Modi as prime minister.  Modi is "a member of an alt-right Hindu organization inspired by fascists and Nazis", according to an Op-Ed writer of an article titled The Incendiary Appeal of Demagoguery in Our Time.  Narendra Modi, like Donald Trump, "rose to power demonizing ethnic-religious minorities, immigrants and the establishment media, and boasting about the size of a body part."  We must choose more wisely.

Operatives in Trump's inner circle had prohibited him from using Twitter in the final days of his campaign, knowing his tendencies to create firestorms of abuse, but once triumphant, he resumed his bizarre tweeting, reactively disparaging protestors who had taken to the streets in outrage at his abjectly immoral hostile takeover of the American psyche and the reins of power.

Profound anger at the extent to which our system is rigged has led many voters to reach for something different -- even though it means turning in a risky new direction.  The voters have rejected a "stale elite consensus", but we are now confronting a still greater threat.  What remains of checks and balances in our government is fragile, and some of the most sinister forces in American political life are right now preparing to impose their ruthless will.  Voters responding to a desire to reject the Washington D.C. status quo have returned many politicians to the capital that are anything but friends of ordinary working people.

Pragmatic leaders of the progressive movement need to clearly articulate the best ideas for what collective response should be made in the face of the "unprecedented moment of crisis" that is taking place as a result of Trump's triumphant rise to almost unchecked power.

Ronald Reagan coined the slogan "Make America Great Again" during his first run for the presidency.  It turned out that he used this slogan to promote a narrow agenda that was a rude subterfuge that crushed the collective bargaining power of working people, hyper-stimulated spending on the military, significantly reduced public funding for higher education, eliminated regulations on giant banks that led to a costly savings-and-loan financial crisis, undermined environmental protections, and put in place rashly regressive tax and spending policies that have been the main factor dangerously driving the national debt up from less than $1 trillion in 1981 to $20 trillion today,

At least when Reagan campaigned, he asserted a hopeful vision of “beacon on the hill” optimism and propriety.  Trump, in contrast, has set forth a dark and dystopian view of America.  His plans would double down on Reagan’s debt-financed trickle-down tax policy, and this is likely to result in a severe economic cataclysm that will be disastrous to poorly educated Trump supporters in particular, and to billions of people worldwide.  Thus, ironically, Mr. Trump’s dystopian view of the world could become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Cunning Donald Trump adopted the slogan to "Make America Great Again" for even more nefarious purposes:  to promote white supremacy and divide people against each other.  His hidden purposes were similar to Reagan's -- to enact highly regressive changes in taxation that will increase the concentration of wealth in the hands of the few, despite the danger this presents to democratic fairness, and to fool the people left behind by the forces of globalization and modernity.  He appears to be lying about his intentions and betraying the trust of the American people by creating an administration that is even more divisive, anti-inclusive, racist, sexist, and inegalitarian.  And his anti-environmental agenda represents a far-reaching and unconscionable misuse of power in ways very likely to lead to heightened revolutionary unrest and probable convulsions of conflict.

Trump's commendable rhetoric in his election victory speech rang exceedingly hollow in light of the scurrilous tactics he used to get elected.  They did provide a ray of hope that, perhaps, he really might try to heal the country and act as a fair-minded president for all Americans, but this hope did not last long, for he set about almost immediately to select the most extreme cabinet and agency officials ever.

How can the American people help ensure that common sense will prevail?  The mainstream media and right-wing news outlets like Fox News have been complicit in creating a misinformed public.  Social media platforms like Google, Facebook and Twitter have become prominent influences in our elections, and they suffer from being dangerously unbalanced and often simplistic, and they often promote erroneous points of view.  Every faction has its own media now, where partisans can be "affirmed, not informed," as pollster Frank Luntz puts it.  The outcome is that our great nation is being held together only "by the thinnest of threads", and it seems to be devolving into being an Idiocracy.

The intentional propagation of fake news and false beliefs has contributed to this serious assault on fair representation of the best interests of the people.  Part of the fault with this state of affairs is that there is no Fairness Doctrine in the mainstream media like there was between 1949 and 1987, or in the more seriously skewed alt-right media, and it is exceedingly difficult for social media to control devious misinformation.  The Fairness Doctrine was a federal policy in the U.S. that required television and radio broadcasters to present contrasting viewpoints on controversial issues of public interest and importance -- and to do so in a manner that was honest, equitable and balanced.  The demise of this Fairness Doctrine is a contributing factor to the rising level of divisive party polarization in the United States.

Trevor Noah gave brilliant insights into how the media needs to improve its performance in saving our great nation on his November 29th Daily Show segment, Adapting to Donald Trump's Lies.  Watch it right now for some good laughs and illuminated understanding of Trump's toddler-like thought processes.

It is human nature for people to psychologically identify with those in their in-groups and to regard those in out-groups with suspicion or hostility.  Right-wing politicians exploit the out-group status of immigrants and related anti-immigrant sentiments to gain power.

Ever since Trump took the down elevator into contentious contention for the presidency and frequently used divisive tactics and offensive rhetoric to gain media attention, his scandalous behaviors have been "normalized" by traditional media outlets that are more interested in ratings and profits than in important big issues and honestly comprehensive Big Picture assessments of these issues.  Now, as Trump is planning his transition to domineering power, most people in the mainstream media and conservatives on social media and celebrating white supremacist groups are attempting to normalize Trumpism and give legitimacy to his approaching authoritarian-tinged rule.

We must recognize how essential a free and independent media is in our democracy.  Even before Trump is sworn in, he is out to destroy that freedom and independence by using seven of the main techniques that despots have employed throughout history to destroy the independence of the media.  Robert Reich provides this list of insidious techniques:

1. Berate the media.  Trump recently called two-dozen TV news anchors and executives to the Trump Tower -- including Lester Holt, Charlie Rose, George Stephanopoulos and Wolf Blitzer -- to chew them out about their reporting during the election. 

2. Blacklist media that criticize them.  Trump has maintained a blacklist of news outlets to which he has refused to grant event credentials.  

3. Turn the public against the media.  Trump refers to journalists as “dishonest,” “disgusting” and “scum.”

4. Threaten the media.  Trump says he’ll “open up our libel laws, so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.”

5. Block media access.  Trump hasn’t had a news conference since July.  He has blocked the media from traveling with him, or knowing whom he’s meeting with. 

6. Establish their own alternative controlled media.  Trump sends messages through the “alt-right” Breitbart News and the unfairly unbalanced Fox News and hard-right talk radio show hoists.

7.  Bypass the media and communicate with the public directly.  Trump uses tweets incessantly.  

In 1980, there were thousands of independent media outlets in the United States, but today, there are only six multi-national global media mega corporations in control of an estimated 96% of the content that Americans see on TV, hear on the radio, watch at the movies, and read in books, magazines and newspapers.  These six corporate entities are Time Warner, VIACOM, CBS, Walt Disney, News Corp and General Electric.  These 6 huge corporations own the major entertainment theme parks, movie studios, television and radio broadcast networks, cable and satellite channels, video news, magazines, book publishers, sports entertainment, integrated telecommunications and the communications satellites themselves, wireless phones, video games software, electronic media, internet, record labels and the music industry.

Everything you believe, more or less, is delivered to you by this monolithic establishment of media moguls that run these corporations. The CEOs of these giant organizations “play golf together.  They plot and scheme together. They are members of the same clubs and organizations …” -- and they decide what the American people “should believe and what attitudes they should have about everything”.

The best way to counter propaganda is to understand the methods and techniques that are being used to sway public opinion.  George Orwell explained some of the many clever tactics and powerful techniques that are used to "catapult the propaganda", as George W. Bush put it.  They can be read online to understand this important influence on our worldviews and national decision-making -- see George Orwell's A citizen’s guide to understanding corporate media propaganda techniques.

These techniques are being used on the American public and the world population by the corporate mainstream media and the “alt-right” fringe media, and by many partisans on social media. “Having familiarized yourself with these techniques, you will be able to spot them as they are being deployed against you," according to George Orwell.

This will all likely end very badly, especially for millions of white working class voters who have been deceived into supporting Trump, thinking that he would “drain the swamp” in Washington D.C. instead of opening the floodgates to a retrogressive cadre of operatives and ideologues.  Though presidential candidate Trump trumpeted "Drain the swamp in D.C.", look at what has happened.  A narrowly focused electorate, deceived by Machiavellian intrigue, voted to keep almost all the corrupt alligators in the congressional swamp, and now Trump is filling his Cabinet with loyalists who represent a perpetuation of more of the same policies that have hurt and angered the populace.

Trump has named a consummate insider, Elaine Chao, to be his Transportation Secretary.  Chao has been a fixture of the Republican establishment for two decades, and a “savvy and professional practitioner of the capital’s inside game.”  Chao is the wife of the staunchly uncompromising Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell.  So much for anyone’s hopes that Trump will “drain the swamp” in Washington D.C.  Labor union leaders have criticized Chao’s service as labor secretary during George W. Bush’s administration because “her tenure was marred by favoritism for big business and a lax attitude to worker safety.”  Here we go again.

Our foundational American liberties are under threat, and our democracy is at risk of devolving into chaos.  Many Solon-wise observers have understood that extremes of inequality are dangerous to the overall well-being of the people in a country, and since Trump’s radically regressive tax cut plans to benefit the rich would hyper-exacerbate inequities and correlated injustices in America, the probability is high that one of two general outcomes will come to pass.  Either really fairer and more inclusive and more egalitarian policies will be adopted or revolutionary unrest will explode into violent discord and repressive police-state tactics that will be required to put down this existential threat to peaceable coexistence.

Trump’s inauguration, if the Electors fail us, is still more than a month away as these ideas and words spill from my mind, but it is hard to imagine that Trump will be capable of being flexibly adaptive enough to deal effectively and fairly with the reactionary forces he has unleashed.  We need a leader with the intelligence and calm of a person like President Obama to cope with the coming firestorm, but instead we have an unhinged narcissist who is extremely reactive and hypersensitive to criticism and very vindictive, and he is in the process of choosing to surround himself with a bunch of suck-up sycophants and alt-right ideological extremists and right-wing members of the Republican establishment -- the very wrong type of people to defuse revolutionary unrest and lead us toward common sense solutions to our mounting national problems. 

Soon after the election, Trump tweeted about protestors against his apparent victory, mischaracterizing the spontaneous passion of protestors as being the work of professional agitators, and ruminating about how the protests were “Very unfair.”  Oh, right!  “very unfair” happens to perfectly summarize Trump’s strategies for seizing power, and the most vicious campaign in American history is now poised to become one of the ugliest and most dangerous presidencies ever.

A Brief History of Truth and Lies

“What we are before is like a strait, a tricky road, a passage where we need courage and reason.  The courage to go on, not to try to turn back;  and the reason to use reason; not fear, not jealousy, not envy, but reason.  We must steer by reason, and jettison -- because much must go -- by reason." 

                                                                                                                --- John Fowles, The Aristos 

President Bill Clinton defensively shaded the truth in 1998 about whether he had had “sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky”.  A “vast right-wing conspiracy” of conservatives came to crucify him for this, assaulting him with impeachment proceedings over his sexual indiscretions.  Then when George W. Bush was in office, he deceived the American people to get them to support him in launching two unnecessary and disastrously wrongheaded “preemptive wars”, which have turned out to be the two longest wars in American history.  Due to Bush’s attempts to “catapult the propaganda” by telling consequential lies, the funny news-parody show host Stephen Colbert coined the word “truthiness” on his legendary inaugural segment of The Word, during his debut broadcast on Comedy Central back in October 2005.  It was a brilliant distillation of the conservative mindset in the age of George W. Bush.  “There might not be any evidence for what you believe, but you feel it's true in your gut.  Who's to say it's not?”Not long thereafter, Merriam-Webster declared “truthiness” to be the Word of the Year for 2006.  Truthiness was defined by the American Dialect Society as "the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true."

An Essay Contest in Vanity Fair magazine in 2006 concerned a topic that was highlighted by a quote made by a senior advisor in George W. Bush’s administration in 2002.  The aide said: “Your judicious study of discernible reality … is not the way the world really works anymore.  We’re an empire now.  And when we act, we create our own reality.”  The contest posed this question:  “In a nation defined by video games, reality TV, and virtual friendships, and with a White House that has perfected the art of politics as public relations, what is reality to Americans today?   And did we ever have a grasp of it?”

Fast forward nine years and the organization PolitiFact awarded the reality TV celebrity Donald Trump the 2015 Lie of the Year Award for "his portfolio of misstatements".  And now Oxford Dictionary has declared "post-truth" to be its 2016 word of the year.  "Post-truth", according to the dictionary's website is an adjective defined as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief."

It is stunning in our "post-truth" world that Donald Trump has brazenly lied so much to the American people.  "What's impressive is that the electorate -- or rather, a very large minority of the electorate -- didn't seem to care, or at least refused to treat the candidate's dishonesty as in any way disqualifying," according to Commentary provided by Alva Noë, a philosopher at the University of California in Berkeley in the article Is Being 'Post-Truth' A New Concept?  It is highly likely that the American people will care a whole lot more about Trump’s actions when they see that he intends to pursue policies that deal with them exceedingly shabbily.

I feel strongly that we must choose to live in an Age of Reason, and that human salvation relies on truth, not denials, and on our best understandings of the real world and scientific facts and evidence.  These things cannot be long ignored with impunity.  We should all strive to follow a path to a better future for all by creating a less divisive, less antagonistic, less racist, less sexist, less materialistic and less consumer oriented society, and by seeking better understandings of human nature and honoring Golden Rule principles and respecting future generations and seeking more spiritually enlightened ways of seeing. 

Big Lies can be seriously detrimental to the health of millions of Americans and billions of people around the Earth.  The “Big Lie” is a term first coined by Adolf Hitler in his 1925 autobiography Mein Kampf.   This term was made famous by Josef Goebbels, the minister of propaganda for the German Third Reich from 1933 to 1945.  The idea was simple: if you tell a ‘big lie’ often enough, most people will come to accept it as the truth.  As Goebbels himself said, “"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.  The lie can be maintained only for such time as the state can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie.  The truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the state."  The U.S. Office of Strategic Services (the predecessor of the CIA) described the methodologies used by the Germans to propagate their Big Lies, and noted, “people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one;  and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it." Yikes!

With the advent and proliferation of social media, the challenges in this become more consequential and intense.  To protect ourselves from overweening domination by the state, we need to find the most accurate understandings of the truth, and then disseminate them more widely.  It is time for the American people to wake up and see big lies for what they are.  The biggest financial Big Lie is the trickle-down ideology that says the best interests of the people will only be served by cutting taxes on the wealthy.  The opposite is true.  In Comprehensive Global Perspective: An Illuminating Worldview, I express these important related ideas:

“One of the most pernicious examples of a Big Lie sold to the American public was that the ‘War on Terror’ is an undertaking designed to make us safer.  The ‘War on Terror’ was a ‘mega-lie’, a deception about the true intentions of the Bush administration in its preemptive wars of aggression.

Another glaring instance of official deception relates to global warming and climate change.  In the Oscar-winning film by Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth, it was revealed that there is overwhelming scientific consensus that mankind is contributing to a rapid increase in carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere.  Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists admit the impact of human activities on climate change, yet with media complicity, about half of all Americans indicate that they either doubt that global warming is occurring or that human activities are contributing to climate change.

Another reason that a free press and truly fair, balanced and truthful media are important is that decision-making in a democracy relies on having its citizens be well informed.  Our democratic system doesn’t work well when voters are misinformed, deceived and deluded.”

True American Values

Post-Election Day commentary is appearing in many places throughout social media, but there are some pieces that stand out, and one of those is by Connie Schultz, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and professional in residence at Kent State University.  She has written two books, one of them chronicling the winning race of her husband, Sherrod Brown, for the U.S. Senate.  In an observation she made on November 9th, Schultz begins her protest regarding the presidential election of Donald Trump as follows:

“Don't ask us to congratulate him.  Not today.  Not this week.  Not ever, probably.”

Connie Schultz says Trump stands for so much of what the American people had dared to hope was behind us as a country, for he has spewed bigotry, misogyny, and xenophobia with “reckless abandon” and “now he is going to be our next president.” 

“Of course, we are distancing ourselves,“ says Schultz. “We love our families, our communities and our country.  Our commitment is not a charade. And we want to live with ourselves.”  She emphasizes that this is not about good manners, and that sometimes there is “no deliverance in  phony congratulations” -- and this would be one of those times.

Politicians often once spoke of winning the hearts and minds of the people, though early criticisms of the use of this phrase was that all the talk of fighting for people's hearts and minds generally meant merely seeking to get them to be blindly obedient.  With the advent of demagogic Trumpism, efforts to win the hearts and minds of the people became submerged in a more mindless strategy of appealing to people's innate clannish in-group fundamentalism and brainwashing them through emotionally manipulative and endlessly repeated propaganda.  This essay is dedicated to an honest attempt to win the hearts and minds of millions of readers with an appeal to what are known in the Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhist philosophy as Right Mindfulness, Right Resolve and Right Action.

Here is a fine piece of insight that may help Trump supporters understand what many Americans are feeling in the aftermath of the November 8th election.  More than half of the American people are "grieving" at the election outcome, and this is not merely sour grapes.  Listen in to this visionary and emotionally heart-felt explanation for this feeling, addressed to the triumphal conservatives:

Here’s Why We Grieve Today  (by John Pavlovitz on November 9, 2016)

I don’t think you understand us right now.

I think you think this is about politics. I think you believe this is all just sour grapes; the crocodile tears of the losing locker room with the scoreboard going against us at the buzzer.

 I can only tell you that you’re wrong.  This is not about losing an election.  This isn’t about not winning a contest.  This is about two very different ways of seeing the world.

Hillary spoke about a diverse America;  one where religion or skin color or sexual orientation or place of birth aren’t liabilities or deficiencies or moral defects.  Her campaign was one of inclusion and connection and interdependency.  It was about building bridges and breaking ceilings.  It was about going high. 

Trump imagined a very selective America; one that is largely white and straight and Christian, and the voting verified this. Donald Trump has never made any assertions otherwise. He ran a campaign of fear and exclusion and isolation -- and that’s the vision of the world those who voted for him have endorsed.

They have aligned with the wall-builder and the professed p*ssy-grabber, and they have co-signed his body of work, regardless of the reasons they give for their vote:

Every horrible thing Donald Trump ever said about women or Muslims or people of color has now been validated.

Every profanity-laced press conference and every call to bully protestors and every ignorant diatribe has been endorsed.

Every piece of anti-LGBTQ legislation Mike Pence has championed has been signed-off on.

Half of our country has declared these things acceptable, noble, American

This is the disconnect and the source of our grief today.  It isn’t a political defeat that we’re lamenting, it’s a defeat for Humanity.

We’re not angry that our candidate lost.  We’re angry because our candidate’s losing means this country will be less safe, less kind, and less available to a huge segment of its population, and that’s just the truth.

Those who have always felt vulnerable are now left more so.  Those whose voices have been silenced will be further quieted.  Those who always felt marginalized will be pushed further to the periphery.  Those who feared they were seen as inferior now have confirmation in actual percentages.

Those things have essentially been campaign promises of Donald Trump, and so many of our fellow citizens have said this is what they want too.  

This has never been about politics.  This is not about one candidate over the other.

It’s not about one’s ideas over another’s.  It is not blue vs. red.

It’s not her emails vs. his bad language.  It’s not her dishonesty vs. his indecency.

It’s about overt racism and hostility toward minorities.  It’s about religion being weaponized.

It’s about crassness and vulgarity and disregard for women.  It’s about a barricaded, militarized, bully nation.  It’s about an unapologetic, open-faced ugliness.

And it is not only that these things have been ratified by our nation that grieve us;  all this hatred, fear, racism, bigotry, and intolerance -- it’s knowing that these things have been "amened" by our neighbors, our families, our friends, those we work with and worship alongside.  That is the most horrific thing of all.  We now know how close this is.

It feels like living in enemy territory being here now, and there’s no way around that.  We wake up today in a home we no longer recognize.  We are grieving the loss of a place we used to love but no longer do.  This may be America today but it is not the America we believe in or recognize or want.

This is not about a difference of political opinion, as that’s far too small to mourn over.  It’s about a fundamental difference in how we view the worth of all people -- not just those who look or talk or think or vote the way we do.

Grief always laments what might have been, the future we were robbed of, the tomorrow that we won’t get to see, and that is what we walk through today.  As a nation we had an opportunity to affirm the beauty of our diversity this day, to choose ideas over sound bytes, to let everyone know they had a place at the table, to be the beacon of goodness and decency we imagine that we are—and we said no.

The Scriptures say that weeping endures for a night but joy comes in the morning.  We can’t see that dawn coming any time soon. 

And this is why we grieve.

Dante Alighieri, the great 14th century Italian poet, imagined nine circles of Hell in the first of his three parts of his epic The Divine Comedy, and he is guided on a journey down through these nine circles of wickedness and suffering in Inferno by the poet Virgil, a veritable embodiment of knowledge and reason in ancient Rome.  Hell is the "realm .. of those who have rejected spiritual values by … by perverting their human intellect to fraud or malice against their fellowmen." Dante and Virgil start their journey in cool Limbo in Hell’s vestibule, where the denizens are not punished, and where respected virtuous pre-biblical pagans like the poets Homer, Horace and Ovid resided along with the philosophers Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.  Then Dante and Virgil proceed down through the other concentric circles of Hell, which gradually increase in despicable wickedness the further down one goes, and where sinners are punished eternally.  They passed through the realms of Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Wrath, Heresy and Violence to the worst two levels -- the touchstone of degradation -- Fraud and Treachery.

Dante consigned persons who sinned but prayed for forgiveness before their deaths to Purgatory, where they labor to be free of their sins.  In rash contrast, those in Hell are people who tried to justify their sins and are unrepentant.   Fraud involves the "abuse of the specifically human faculty of reason", according to the essayist Dorothy L. Sayers.

The antechambers of Dante's Inferno at this moment seem to be suddenly swelling with Conservatives without Conscience who are stampeding toward the lowest circles of Hell by engaging in behaviors that would rightly consign them to the realms of Fraud and Treachery.  Dante imagined the Greek mythological creature Geryon in Inferno as the Monster of Fraud, a winged beast with the face of an honest man, the paws of a lion, and the body of a winged dragon with poisonous sting at the tip of his tail.  This monstrous embodiment of fraud in Hell dwelled somewhere in the depths below a cliff between the seventh and eighth circles of Hell -- between the Circle of Violence and the Circle of Fraud.  The masterful strokes of manipulation and deceit that demagogues engage in make one think of this mythological monster Geryon.

Limbo is actually a pretty cool place, where rational discussions take place and every philosopher who lived before Jesus Christ holds court in a rarified atmosphere of amity and intellectual curiosity and Epicurean appreciation and a state of energetic suspended animation.  Let’s all journey together to a state of Limbo in our minds, calmly exiting our echo chambers, our eyes and hearts open, and visualize being accompanied by the epic poet Dante and the paragon of reason Virgil.  Let’s expansively seek to live our lives in a state of civilized fair-mindedness in which we will all be justified in feeling we can live with other people with a measure more of light and the greater good and a measure less of dystopian darkness.

Imagine a better world where social relations are strongly infused with Hygge, the cozy and hugfully heart-warming Danish "feel good philosophy" (pronounced hooga).  And imagine like John Lennon might have done, all the world living in peace, and not mired in dark divisions and antagonisms riled up in this Age of Trumpism.  Imagine instead us all together now, healing through the marvelous tonic of people appreciating Nurturing Parent worldviews and throwing their support to much more generous-hearted funding for social policies.


     Dr. Tiffany B. Twain

Tiffany B. Twain is a concerned American and the founder of the Earth Manifesto.  She has been inspired by imagining herself as the philosophic soul mate and valiant though illegitimate great-granddaughter of the highly esteemed and irreverent writer, lecturer, humorist and philosopher Mark Twain.  She has published Twelve Books of the Earth Manifesto, a save-the-world treatise that contains wide-ranging and far-sighted observations dealing with all the biggest issues facing humanity here in the second decade of the 21st century.  Check it out at http://earthmanifesto.com/


It is noteworthy that the power of tweets, which contain a maximum of 140 characters, have had powerful effects on the outcome of the November 8th elections.  This means that more complex and nuanced and comprehensive understandings have taken a back seat to emotionally manipulative and truth-deficient content in tweets.  However we do still live in a world where facts and evidence must be given sensible attention to ensure our security and survival, and it is my conviction that this essay, which currently contains more than 150,000 characters, will prove to be more powerful than Trump’s emotion-exploiting megaphone.  Emotion has only temporarily trumped the truth.  This Assault on Reason will turn out to be a Pyrrhic victory for Americans and humankind.  Also note that this essay is complemented by wide-ranging ideas and profound understandings contained in the Earth Manifesto online, and in the first ten of the Twelve Books of the Earth Manifesto that are available right now from the online publisher Lulu Publishing.  There are about seven million characters in these books, and history may eventually judge them to be providentially game changing as well as interesting and entertaining-- and thus confirm that the pen is mightier than the sword of illegitimate authority.

To readers, men and women, I submit the same caveats as Thomas Paine:

“In the following pages I offer nothing more than simple facts, plain arguments, and common sense:  and have no other preliminaries to settle with the reader, than that he will divest himself of prejudice and prepossession, and suffer his reason and his feelings to determine for themselves … and generously enlarge his views beyond the present day.”

And to paraphrase Thomas Paine:  “Who the Author of this Production is, is wholly unnecessary to the Public, as the important thing is the IDEAS THEMSELVES, and not the author.  Yet it may be necessary to say, that she is unconnected with any Party, and under no sort of influence, public or private, other than the influence of reason and principle.”

Detailed distillations of the ideas, policy prescriptions and recommended initiatives that are included throughout the Earth Manifesto can be found summarized in Common Sense Revival – Book One of the Earth Manifesto, and in Part Four of this treatise online.