Demagoguery and the
Dangers of the Demise of Democracy
Dr. Tiffany B. Twain, Creator
of the Earth Manifesto December
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
(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
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.
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.”
Keillor, We’re Not in Lake Wobegon Anymore
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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."
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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
have the best government that money can buy.”
--- Mark Twain
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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:
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.
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.
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."
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."
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
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
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.
Sanders wrote these compelling words just after the election:
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
“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
“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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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."
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.
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.
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.”
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native
American criminal class
--- Mark Twain, Pudd'nhead Wilson's New
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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
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”.
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
“'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.”
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
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
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
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
"... 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.
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."
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
Theodore Roosevelt made it clear that criticism of elected leaders is well
justified, when he stated:
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:
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
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.”
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
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
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
" ... 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
"... 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."
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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:
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
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:
came for the Muslims, and I said "Guys, let's take a wait-and-see approach
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
Then he came
for me, and I said, "How could this have happened? I did everything
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.
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
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.
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
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:
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."
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
has been described as the "Leni Riefenstahl of the Tea Party
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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:
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.
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
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
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.”
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.”
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.