Tell me again, why…

Tell me again, why…

Why:

  • … do the rich need more big tax breaks? Don’t they have enough already?  Isn’t the definition of “rich” already having significantly more than average wealth?  Haven’t we trickled down this road before?
  • … is Trump/Ryancare really an improvement to Obamacare if 24 million of our fellow Americans will lose their insurance because their premiums will increase beyond affordability?  Is the purpose of the Trump/Ryan “American” Health Care Act (notice  no longer “Affordable”) to provide or to remove affordable health care insurance for Americans?   Is this how one fixes a problem? If Ryan was a car mechanic, when fixing your flat tire he’d also disconnect your brakes.
  • … is Lecherous & Lying Donald removing nearly all programs that support the impoverished and jobless Americans who elected him, while at the same time increasing their numbers?
  • … does the president’s budget proposal give the Pentagon an extra $54 billion that even the Generals and Admirals (who are, by the way, the worst shoppers in the world) didn’t even ask for?  How can we trust the Pentagon to spend any taxpayer dollars wisely?
  • … were many hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars spent by these protectors of our freedom on overinflated supply contracts with a world class briber? [Likely Fat Leonard is not the only briber living large on taxpayer millions.]
  •  … did these Navy and Marine Corps officers not realize, or choose not to care, why Fat Leonard regularly provided them with lavish gifts and $50,000 parties, complete with expensive hookers? (Hey Captain. New in town?)  They knew full well what they and he were doing. Who wouldn’t spend a million dollars on entertainment in order to pocket an extra unearned hundred million out of the Pentagon’s coffers? [Might this be a much better place than Planned Parenthood to cut back funds and begin to reduce the deficit?]
  • … are widespread betrayals of our country like this not considered a financial form of treason?  Does not the siphoning off of defense funds impair our national security?
  • … in a civilized and mature nation, would greedy L&L Donald and his cabal of advisors try to abolish the National Endowment for the Arts, Public Television, and many other scientific, educational, cultural and social support programs?  Are we a nation of Neanderthals?
  • … in a natural environment recklessly abused by greed, does L&L Donald want to disassemble nearly all efforts of the Environment Protection Agency?   Are so many of the industrial rich so self-centered that they don’t care whether life on earth survives after they themselves are dead and gone?
  • … does a lunatic fringe of our citizenry, unfortunately including key members of our lunatic administration, deny the plentiful and dramatic evidence of Global Warming and the nearly unanimous concerns expressed in the scientific community.  The hubris of the fools on the hill in denying proven facts could very well doom our species to early extinction.
  • … does L&L Donald continually make completely unsubstantiated (e.g., blatantly false) accusations in speeches and on Twitter, whenever the mood hits him? And why does he get away with it? Is this paranoia or is it just that L&L Donald doesn’t fully grasp that he is no longer a candidate, but is expected to live to a higher standard of truth and reliability as president?
  • … does Kellyanne Conway never give straight-forward answers to interviewers’ straight-forward questions?
  • … don’t interviewers either ignore her altogether or doggedly continue to reiterate their questions until she answers them?
  • … did it take so long for L&L Donald’s accountants to find the only two pages of his past 20 or more tax returns that indicate he may have actually paid some taxes more than ten years ago?
  • … are the Russian connections of L&L Donald, his campaign staff and his current Administration not being aggressively pursued and updated in the public domain?
  • … does it turn my stomach to see the President of the United States acting like a petulant and spoiled 7-year old, blatantly ignoring and insulting Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, when she was America’s guest at the White House.  What, does he really think he can treat every woman the way he treats his wife?
  • … does it not surprise me that L&L Donald was not only inexcusably rude to the leader of one of our greatest allies, he was at the same time woefully ignorant about how NATO is funded and operates.  His continual bouts of Ready, Fire, Aim are much more than just embarrassing, they are dangerous to all citizens he swore to protect.
  • … are most, if not all, of these issues in L&L Donald’s campaign and first hundred days as president, unprecedented?  Could it be that the previous 44 Presidents were intelligent?

Is he draining the swamp or filling it with champagne?

What is Wrong with the Greatness of America?

What is Wrong with the Greatness of America?

There’s little question that the United States of America, a comparatively young nation in the civilized world, has been the “greatest” and most influential country on the planet for over 100 years.  Nonetheless, recently the sound bite “Make American Great Again” resonated with a goodly number of righteously disgruntled voters.

They may well be right.  American Greatness should never be taken for granted. But many of the problems they’ve been led to believe plague America are the subjects of propaganda designed to divert people’s attention from the real threats to our nation. We need always to remember America now has an untrustworthy, conniving, malignantly narcissistic President who seems to change his rhetoric about as often as he changes his neck ties.

A President who tweets echoes of baseless blather he heard on late night Fox News is probably not going to keep America great.   If Sweden has supposedly had a dramatic spike in rapes and robberies due to the recent influx of Muslim refugees as Trump alleged in one of his recent rallies, no one in Sweden is aware of it. These must be secret rapes and robberies, known only to him.

No President in history has made such an idiotic, misinformed and embarrassingly false proclamation in such a public forum.  But hey, he’s Donald Trump – give the guy a break.

This is what happens when a President of the United States relies on “intelligence” gathered by Fox News and eschews briefings from the nation’s experienced intelligence agencies.  How can any public office holder rely on anthing Fox News reports without getting a confirmation from some trustworthy source, like maybe the CIA?

Unfortunately, Trump has learned that he can get away with anything he says, so long as at least part of his audience is willing to believe it. It is shocking how easily his trumped up allegations against Muslims turned all disciples of Allah into scapegoats for a fictitious outbreak of atrocities that simply have not happened.  How does Trump’s demonizing of Muslims in America differ from the demonizing of Jews in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s?  How does this Make America Great Again?  Was Hitler not elected as Chancellor on the promise to Make Germany Great Again?  His playbook must be around here somewhere.

What Makes America Great?

Let’s consider what has made America great:  Is it our dedication to freedom?  Is it the strongest and best equipped military in the world?  Is it our Constitution?, our justice system?, our free press?, our states’ rights?, our civil rights?, our religious freedom?, our history?, is it the freedom of expression that’s in our DNA?, our aversion to oppression?, or perhaps our leading edge technologies?, our ability to invent?, our entrepreneurial vision?, our robust national economy?, our leadership of the free world?, our diversity?, our common ancestral and/or contemporary immigration to America in search of freedom? (Ironically, true native Americans whose ancestors were here long before most of the rest of our ancestors, have virtually lost most of their freedom to make room for ours.)

It’s all of this and more.  All of these American traits come from America’s values that have always been the grassroots tools of our Greatness. Today these include:

  • Truth;
  • Fair Play/Equal Opportunity for all;
  • Honesty;
  • Individual Respect;
  • Tolerance of Differences in Ancestry, Opinion, Ethnicity, Race, Intelligence, Customs, Gender;
  • A Government Accountable to the People and Not Vice-Versa;
  • Personal Privacy;
  • The Right to be Heard;
  • Rule of Law and Civil Disobedience of Law that Violates Our Rights and Values;
  • Mobility, and
  • The Sanctity of Human Life.

America – An Experiment in Progress

The radical socio-economic experiment that is America has been amazingly successful, so far.  We have found ways to blend the survival of the fittest foundation of economic Capitalism with the generosity and respect of a Social Conscience that tries to assure that the basic needs of all citizens are met.  The balance between Capitalism’s competition and the “no one left behind” tenet of Socialism is never static, but they do coexist. Because the pendulum swings back and forth, the search for equilibrium in the experiment is definitely not finished.

In fact, the American experiment will never be finished until and unless it fails.

Like all human endeavors, America constantly operates in social, political, scientific, economic, ethical, and international environments that are always in a state of change.  Figuratively, all of these arenas carry weight and collide with one another in various and unpredictable ways, creating massive tension just below the surface of our lives.  So far, when the socio-economic pressures have erupted and surfaced, America dealt with the damage and siphoned off similar pressures to avert repetition of the eruption.

A Parade of Challenges

The American Civil War was probably the country’s most costly and bloody eruption of pent up pressure ever.  America was literally blown apart into two distinct governments for a few years. The intense divide – slavery and a regional, nearly regal, agrarian economy versus a more heavily populated abolitionist region and its industrialized juggernaut – was driven by two irreconcilable sets of American values.  While the Union was preserved 150 years ago, regional tensions from the war still exist.  A century after the end of the Civil War, insidious, unresolved racial stress fractures in the nation’s experiment erupted again leading us to define, re-confirm and protect the value of Civil Rights for all Americans, regardless of race, creed, gender, or religious belief.  Anti-war movements, women’s suffrage and later women’s rights in the workplace, abortion rights, gay rights, a World War against Fascist oppression, the Great Depression, similar periodic economic crises, and a host of other eruptions are among the litany of challenges that have threatened the viability of the experiment.

Today, some issues have been resolved but others still require a good deal more work. Our American values have matured and reshaped our nation to meet our challenges and to keep the experiment that is America alive and well.

But is there a potentially insurmountable challenge in our midst that could destroy the American Experiment?

A Fundamental and Difficult Conundrum

Ugly new challenges to America’s greatness are quickly growing before our eyes today.  The electorate’s discontent with, and righteous distrust of, our elected representatives is a cancer that threatens the whole organism of our nation.  The sources and symptoms of the disease are fairly plain to see.  The cure, however, is not.

The love of money and the political power it buys has infused a pernicious, potentially fatal disease in our national and state legislatures and executive offices.  The one common element necessary to prevail in any election in this country today is no longer a candidate’s intelligence, leadership ability, moral integrity, dedication to the truth, sincerity, fairness, heroism, or reverence for motherhood and apple pie.  It is money, money, and more money.

Absent considerable amounts of money, a candidate has a snowball’s chance in Hell of being elected to what is supposed to be a position of service to the “public trust.”  The Number 1 priority of nearly every national and state elected official is re-election.  The day after they’re elected most of our vaunted representatives begin “dialing for re-election dollars,” a 365-day, annual, unwritten requirement of survival in their jobs.

The conundrum of this reality is clear.  Any effort to curtail or remove the sale of influence by legislators, regulators, jurists, and others will have to be initiated and supported by the very people who owe their financial and political success to the purchasers of their influence.  In order to truly represent the interests of a majority of one’s constituents, somewhere along the line a representative would have to betray his/her financiers and seriously jeopardize his/her chances of re-election.   Except in rare instances, like Bernie Sanders’s crowd funding of his 2016 presidential campaign, legislators and members of the executive branches personally have little or nothing to gain by biting the hands that feed them.  The office-holder is the supplicant and the money-holder is in control.

Is it any wonder that the political influence of the wealthiest 10% of the nation’s electorate is greater than collective political influence of the remaining 90% of voters in this nation? What majority of politicians will coalesce to successfully legislate the boundaries necessary to break this stranglehold on our elected representatives?  There’s that snowball in Hell again.

Absent the will to break the financial bonds that tie elected officials in the Congressional Branch and Executive Branch, what hope is there?

A Pivotal Failure

The judicial system of the US, intended as a check and balance when things go constitutionally awry in our country’s legislative or executive branches, has failed miserably in its crucial role of preserving the integrity of elected officials.  Citizen’s United is an insulting misnomer for both a Political Action Committee and a Supreme Court case that far more accurately should be called Corporations United, or better yet, Corporate Bribery United.

The sanctity of the Supreme Court should never come into question, but somehow I cannot rule out what should be the impossibility that one or more of our “conservative” justices may have been corrupted.  It is difficult to find any good reason for their swinging wide the gates of secret corporate money to further solidify the hold of the moneyed interests on our government.  If this was what the “Founding Fathers” intended, we need to re-write all American History books.

And the Beat Goes On

In the name of “Making America Great Again,” today’s spin doctors pervert the truth while Foxy “news” outlets openly identify themselves as commentators disguised as reporters.  Talk radio crackles the air waves with hatred as “commentators” instigate listeners with unfounded vitriolic charges designed to create and capitalize on divisions among the ethnic, racial, religious, and even gender allegiances of Americans.  The bigger the lie, the more it is believed.

Simply stated, the virtually unbridled influence of money in politics may be the force that ultimately kills the American experiment for all time.

The concentration of political power in the hands of a few, elite, self-anointed masters of the universe is already pretty far advanced on the road to dictatorial power behind the scenes. When Russia’s “elected” dictator, Putin, is held out as a role model by the President of the United States, something evil must be afoot. And when Russia brazenly and sucessfully manipulates the outcome of an American Presidential election, something unquestionably needs to be done to Make America Great Again. 

Putin recognizes the importance of the opportunity of having the perfect stooge in the White House. Accordingly, the complicity of the Trump political organization in Putin’s scheme needs to be vigorously and impartially investigated. There are strong indications that Putin may have wasted little time in purchasing the egomaniac’s influence along with that of his small cadre of “advisors.”

Business Insider, January 17, 2017  –  Memos: CEO of Russia’s state oil company offered Trump adviser, allies a cut of huge deal if sanctions were lifted

“A dossier with unverified claims about President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia contained allegations that Igor Sechin, the CEO of Russia’s state oil company, offered Trump ally Carter Page and his associates the brokerage of a 19% stake in the [$350 -$450 Billion] company in exchange for the lifting of US sanctions on Russia. … In return Page confirmed that were Trump elected US president, sanctions on Russia would be lifted.”

Perhaps the reason the Trump Administration has has yet to fill more than 600 job vacancies in the Executive Branch is so he and his cabal won’t have to share the wealth. With no one on the phones or texting from them there is little  danger of a whistle blower exposing the plot if all the desks are empty. When (not if) Trump removes the sanctions and this deal is consumated, worldwide consumers of energy  will provide Russia ample funds to de-rail the American experiment. There is nothing Putin wants more, and let’s face it, Trump & Co.’s complicity could easily be part of “the art of the deal” for the right price.

The “alternative truths” and baseless rallying cries of division and hate that have found homes in the minds of many Americans are proof positive that skillful propaganda still works.

In a relatively short span of time, the money-and-power hungry are well advanced in their own greedy interests in America.  They are not overt, but they are unquestionably greedy. They work diligently to cultivate the outright support of Americans agitated by their propaganda while they pick Americans’ pockets, protections and rights at the same time.

Indeed it is a Crucial Time to Make America Great Again.

Donald Trump can only lead America into oblivion. The question is, do we take our American values seriously enough to fight to preserve America’s greatness?  One thing is certain, it will take a massive grass roots effort to regain our nation from the wealthy manipulators of the truth, if it is not too late already.

This Kool-Aid Tastes Funny

This Kool-Aid Tastes Funny

Tim (not his real name), our financial advisor, has safely navigated my wife and me through the financial storms of the past 20 years.  His knowledge of investment strategies, financial products, and markets; his sage advice; and most importantly his impeccable personal integrity have kept our heads above water in unexpected conditions, including the unimaginable.

Dealing with the Unexpected

The least of the painful of the many consequences I suffered from 9/11 was that it abruptly cut my professional career short.  By the time I recovered and returned to work, someone else was doing my job and my expectations of earnings and retirement savings for the rest of my working days were halved.

That the momentum of my career stopped short that day was a small price to pay; I was very lucky to be among the thankful, grieving survivors. I have no complaint; no one alive is to blame.  I mention this only to point out that no personal financial strategy could ever have anticipated what America’s enemies did that day.  Thanks in large part to Tim’s financial advice before and after the disaster, my wife and I enjoy a modest but comfortable retirement.

But today there’s a new unexpected threat on our horizon.

A few months ago I reached the age of Medicare.  Over more than 30 years I made the mandatory payments into the system in return for the promise that if/when I survived to age 65, I would have good government health insurance. That coverage was pre-paid out of every paycheck I earned. Now House Speaker Paul  Ryan & Co. plan to further sabotage my retirement by weakening Medicare’s role in the rest of my days.

I can deal with the fact I was among those targeted and victimized by America’s enemies, but it is a completly different feeling to know that the U.S. Congress is now aiming to victimize me.

Perhaps we need to do more “extreme vetting” before going to the polls. As Trump writes broad sweeping Executive Orders aimed at weeding out dangerous insurgents, we voters should to do what we can to weed out danergous incumbents.

Whose Interest Do Financial Consultants Serve?

The latest example of the Repugnican (not a spelling error) Party’s service to America is hilarious if you think about it.

The new Administration, with the support of the pachyderms in both chambers of Congress, has decided to delay and reconsider the pending Department of Labor rule that (now get this) a financial advisor you pay to help you with retirement planning and/or money management is required to work in your best interest, avoid conflicts of interest and be transparent about all his/her compensation and fees. 

Put another way, Repugnicans (e.g. spoiled Republicans) want to continue to let crooked financial advisors steal their clients’money with impunity.  First off, were you aware that advisors are not required to serve their customers’ best interests?  Isn’t such a requirement a bona-fide “no brainer?”  The President’s position on this is that you have no right to expect what you should have every right to expect – an advisor who is on your side.

Despite the absence of any regulation, most Financial Consultants are good and honest professionals who serve their client’s interests as a matter of personal principles and professional ethics.  But are there any evil financial advisors who prey upon unwitting customers to line their own pockets at their clients’ expense? Absolutely.  Can they do this with impunity? Apparently.

OK. Here comes the hilarity.

By what dizzying spin of logic do those who hold that Financial Advisors should not be held accountable to their clients justify this position?  The Financial Industry and Repugnican law makers contend that making financial advisors serve their clients’ interests will only serve to LIMIT THE RANGE OF OPPORTUNITIES IN THE MARKETPLACE.

Huh?  What was that?  Are they really worried that the unsuspecting public should have the right to the opportunity to be bilked?  C’mon man!

That’s like saying:

  • the makers of Kool-Aid (Kraft, by the way) should be allowed to broaden the soft drink market with a new Cyanide flavor (made with real cyanide).  Please excuse me if I decline this opportunity.

or

  • Goldman Sachs should be allowed to bundle up a bunch of toxic mortgages, wrap them in pretty paper, stamp them Grade A Certified, and sell these ticking time bombs to unwitting investors, igniting  financial ruin for all   …..  Oh, wait a minute.  They did do that.

 

Beware of those Advisors and financial instituutions who oppose the serve client’s best interests mandate. They’re the ones most likely to pick you pockets.  The evil ones.

It is  a sad day, however, when integrity needs to be made mandatory. A sad day.

For Goodness Sake, Calm Down

For Goodness Sake, Calm Down

Never before in the history of the United States of America has a President of our country been an outright self-centered, evil human being.  Being an accomplished malignant narcissist, Donald Trump has never felt the slightest amount of empathy for anyone but himself.  He lies constantly and is unapologetically sadistic, like an immature and undisciplined playground bully who enjoys attaching firecrackers to frogs and other small animals just to watch them explode.  He makes rash decisions motivated solely by selfish wishes. And he usually gets away without a scratch.

Anyone who would use his bully pulpit to complain about the falling ratings of his trumped up television show, The Apprentice, at a major prayer breakfast of clerics from a huge variety of religions, is seriously demented, disrespectful, conceited, and unstable.

Summing up, we have a President of the United States who is incapable of empathy, is malignantly self-centered, is a blatant and lifelong liar, is unreliable, seriously demented, evil, disrespectful, and unstable.  He has executive powers, controls our nuclear arsenal, and in his first 10 days in office has created opportunities to insult both our allies and our enemies with reckless abandon.

So what in heaven’s name are so many people worried about?

Lying Donald

Lying Donald

Okay folks.  Here we go. Welcome to the Twilight Zone.  One day in office and Donald Trump is obviously lying.  Equally obvious, he expects us to believe him.

Ridiculously, this lie is about the fact that the “crowd” at his Inauguration was significantly smaller than the Obama Inauguration crowd in 2009.  Lying Donald purports that every single news outlet in the world tampered with aerial photography of the crowds on Washington Mall in 2009 and 2017.  Why did they do that?  To show that Lying Donald is not nearly as beloved as he says he is.

What a foolish and self-centered issue on which to inaugurate his presidential disinformation campaign.

The real problem is his crowd was much smaller than his ego.

Take note, patriots.  Lying Donald had the nerve to stand before the wall of the fallen in the CIA and lied about what???  Crowd size?? He doesn’t deserve the right to occupy the hallowed space that honors true Americans who gave their lives for intelligence regarding the Truth.

Our nation has never had reason to question the veracity of its President’s character…until now.  How in heaven’s name is the United States of America to remain a democracy under a president who has no respect for the Truth?  Lying Donald lives in his own fantasy world where he is worshipped and adored by everybody.  Any evidence to the contrary in the real world must needs to have been fabricated by his evil enemies.  He is a legend in his own mind, but he was rejected by a nearly 3 million person margin of the electorate.  (Oh, yeah.  He covered that in a tweet alleging massive voter fraud in states where he didn’t win. Right.)

Make no mistake; blatantly lying to the masses to fabricate an unstable political environment is a key tactic in any strategy to create a totalitarian state.  It is little wonder that Trump openly admired the ultra-oppressive leaders of North Korea.  Lying Donald surely would feel right at home there.

Real American patriots who value freedom, security, and all that is necessary to uphold them will not long tolerate Lying Donald’s dangerous disregard of the Truth.

Perhaps we should begin to populate a compendium of the work of Lying Donald. Setting aside his absurd several-year Obama “birther” position that he finally had to admit was a lie, let’s start with his tweets characterizing Representative John Lewis as “all talk, talk, talk, but no action” and characterizing his district as a crime riddled slum.  Both of these allegations were BLATANTLY false.  Unlike Lying Donald, Mr. Lewis is a true hero of the Republic who accomplished more for America in one day than Lying Donald is likely to accomplish in his lifetime.  Furthermore, Mr. Lewis has long represented a peaceful, law-abiding, integrated, and exemplary district in Atlanta.

A president simply cannot afford to take any uninformed action.  Obviously, Lying Donald’s tweets were horribly wrong because Mr. Lewis and his district are among the broad universe of topics about which Trump is woefully uninformed.   As demonstrated in this instance, statements made by the uninformed are quite often proven to be lies.  It’s a matter of Trust, and Lying Donald’s is bleeding quickly away.

Intelligence

The cure for being uninformed is what, Donald?  Come on; you know this.  If you don’t have information, what do you need?

No. Not gut instinct, Try again.

Yes, that’s right. Information.  When you don’t have information you need information.

Remember those pesky daily intelligence briefings you refused to accept?  They are full of information you should know about as President of the United States. 

Don’t you think you owe it to the American people to be informed?

No?

Oh, you think the time you spend on Twitter is more important.

Dear God, help us.

 

 

Lying Donald’s Compendium of Falsehood – January 2017

  1. Representative John Lewis is all talk, no action. Twitter
  2. Representative Lewis’s District is shameful and crime riddled. Twitter
  3. Lying Donald’s Inauguration crowd will be record-setting . Twitter
  4. The Media conspired to make Lying Donald’s Inauguration crowd appear much smaller than it was. Twitter and Pronouncement by Press Secretary

 

The Magnanimous Showman

The Magnanimous Showman

One thing I can concede about Donald Trump is that he is probably the world’s greatest living expert at creating and garnering attention.  He can’t help it, (to borrow a tag line from recent GEICO commercials) it’s what he does.

Look at how he campaigned.  There wasn’t a Sunday morning when Donald Trump was not a guest on, or phoned into, or tweeted, or was a major topic of discussion on Face the Nation or Meet the Press or on PBS Newshour’s Friday Shields & Brooks segment, and many other network shows.  He would refuse to disavow the KKK, or American Nazi organizations, why?  So people would talk about him and ignore his opponent.

He “trumped” up ridiculous allegations against the Gold Star family of a Muslim American military hero who gave his life for his country.  There was not one main stream media outlet that wasn’t covering every word Trump said as he not only defended his false accusation (and don’t kid yourself, he knew it was false), but he doubled-down on it.  He made several outrageous statements that were vilified by Republicans and Democrats.  Everyone was talking about how foolish he was to attack a flag-wrapped target.  His reaction?  Double-down.

Why?

Donald Trump knows what the great 19th Century showman and quintessential self-promoter, P.T. Barnum knew, “There is no such thing as bad publicity.”  Before long, the entire election process was centered on Donald Trump.  People who normally didn’t appreciate Presidential Campaign debates because they pre-empted their favorite shows tuned in to three debates that he allegedly lost, just to see and hear his latest insultingly outrageous behavior and claims.  The Donald’s face under his red hat was constantly front and center in the media, the same media he charged was favoring his opponent.  Masterful, really.

Hillary Clinton never figured him out. Her strategy was to just let him self-implode with his never-ending insults, tweets, rude behavior, and alienation of major voting blocks.  In effect, her campaign centered on him, just as he’d hoped.  By responding to or highlighting his antics, she gave him more air time.  She framed and conveyed her positions on issues always in contrast to his points of view.  She cast the spotlight on Trump, and he performed a song and dance that will be marveled at for as long as America’s history matters.

Now that he’s been elected, don’t expect him to change.  Like I noted earlier, “it’s what he does.”

I played into his hands a few days ago when I blogged Donald Trump: Part-time President of the United States in response to his announcement that he saw no conflict of interest in continuing to run his business empire while President.  I should have known.  His position was outlandish and in direct conflict with history and the spirit of our Democracy.  Yesterday, he said he will make an announcement in the coming days that he has decided not to run The Trump Organization while President but will, instead, focus all of his attention on governing the U.S.A.

Doggone it.  He did it again.  I am not aware that any prior President-elect ever made an issue in his transition process (or any other time) about keeping his day job.  Outrageous news.  Okay, now he has decided that the Presidency will require his full attention (really?) and so he makes an announcement that he will be making a future announcement that he has decided not to keep his day job while in office.

He is taking three bites of an apple that never existed before.  Outrageous statement, announcement of a future announcement, and the real announcement that he’s changed his mind.  And the media?  Right with him every step of the way.  Masterful.

He was going to prosecute Hillary Clinton.  He changed his mind, she’s suffered enough. How magnanimous.  He was going to keep his day job.  He changed his mind, the nation needs him.  How magnanimous.

The pattern is clear.  It is going to be an interesting and likely very confusing four years.  That’s just what he craves.  Always keep them guessing and off balance.  Be unpredictable, own the spotlight.

Donald Trump’s single greatest fear is that he will be ignored.

He can relax, there is very little chance of that.

Donald Trump: Part-time President of the United States

Donald Trump:  Part-time President of the United States

Who but Donald Trump would have the ego-centric audacity to unilaterally decide that the Presidency of the United States should be a part-time job?  Now that he’s been elected he has informed those he supposedly serves, the American public, that he doesn’t expect to give up his day job while in office.

Really?

Certainly, it cannot take a brilliant, energized, diplomatic dynamo like Trump much time and effort to attend to world crises both known and emerging – to maintain foreign relations around the globe – to deal with military policy  and preparedness as Commander in Chief – to wipe out ISIS and secure our borders – to prepare effective economic, educational, social, health care and (risking an oxymoron) intelligence strategies – to (snicker) fulfill his campaign promises – and to take care of all the other business entrusted to him by the American people when he was elected.   Undoubtedly, he will be able to handle all that with one hand tied behind his back and standing on one foot while he continues to run his insignificant family fruit stand.  Heck, he’ll probably have have ample free time to improve his golf game three or four days a week at one of his many golf clubs.

Don’t worry about it.  We’re in good hands.

Donald says he sees “no conflict of interest” in running the country and his company at the same time.  I don’t know about you, but I am so relieved to know that he doesn’t see any conflict of interest there.  That must mean there is no chance that anything like the Teapot Dome scandal during Warren G. Harding’s crooked Presidency might happen.  I was afraid that might be a cause for concern, but evidently the Donald is cool with it.

Actually, it’s easy to understand why he sees no conflict of interest because, given his eyesight, it is true.  He doesn’t want to see any conflict of interest, so by Royal Proclamation there simply isn’t any.  Its absence suits his purposes at the moment, so it must be true… at the moment.  End of story.

Always Remember:

There is one, and only one, interest that drives every single thing that Donald Trump does.  It’s called self-interest, and he has made that an art form.  The sooner we all recognize this about the man front and center, the better we will understand what he is likely to do in a given situation.  We may despise his “logic,” but we elected it.  It isn’t new.  It’s been plainly there throughout his entire miserable celebrity career.  Reality is what he says it is.  Otherwise you’re fired!

Truthfully, the U.S. Presidency is much more than just a part-time job (with benefits) to him.  He covets the opportunity to operate both the country and his company in tandem in terms of his self-interest.  Rather than a conflict of interest, it’s a veritable accelerant of self- interest.  Think of how much money and power he will be able to accrue in The Trump Organization when he can negotiate business deals while carrying the ability to annihilate the folks on the other side of the table.  Who knows, he might even get rich.

And what an opportunity to expand Trump Air!

Who’s Fooling Who?

Donald Trump is not stupid, he just assumes the rest of us are.  Perhaps he’s right.  Where are the righteously loud and indignant objections to the notion that Donald Trump would even think about conducting his commercial empire as usual while wielding the power of the Presidency of the United States?  Let’s trust Trump to be honest and forthright in all his business dealings and in all his obligations to the American people. (It’s called turning over a new leaf.)  Oh, and while we’re at it, let’s trust Putin to do that too.  He’s at least as trustworthy as the Donald.

The Trump Organization Dictionary (4,276th Edition):                                                         promise  (prom-iss) N. or V.  Noun. A statement or position that is convenient to make or espouse at the moment, but which the Donald retains the right to reverse or revise at his discretion.  Verb. To make a statement or take a position that is convenient to make or take at the moment, but which the Donald reserves the right to recant or disavow whenever necessary.

Hail to the Cheer-Leader-in-Chief

How did the man who grabs cute felines get elected as President of the United States?  He counted on voters turning a blind eye to the history and nature of the parasite, totally discounting the objectionable so long as he was cheer-leader-in-chief for outlandish positions they longed to hear.

Now he’s elected, don’t hold your breath.

Many are expecting him to “empty the swamp.” I am here to tell you folks, Donald Trump does not want to empty the swamp; he wants to rule it.

I seriously fear that somewhere along the line Trump is going to try to tamper with the impeachment statutes of this land to somehow make himself immune to them.  When he quietly or publicly tries to alter the last possible threat to his absolute rule, let’s try to see what’s right in front of us and deny him the opportunity.

Otherwise we will continue to get what we deserve.

 

 

©2016, James C. Ash

 

 

A User’s Guide to Donald Trump

A User’s Guide to Donald Trump

The 45th President of the United States will be Donald Trump, the first bona-fide modern celebrity elected to lead the most powerful country in the world.  He will also be the first president never to have held an elected public office before.  Both improbable and thereby impressive feats.

His greatest attribute in his election was his total lack of political experience.  For ample reason, he stood out from the crowd as the maverick, the new sheriff in town, the guy who was free “to tell it like it is.”  Americans, fed up with a purposely gridlocked government, craved change and he was the only candidate positioned to deliver it. The baggage he will bring into the White House in January will include no political debts.

He is truly and refreshingly neither a real Republican nor a Democrat, though he has called himself both.  He alone is the ultimate ”outsider” in a place where the money and power in politics come first, and the nation’s well-being is a distant second.

But his great asset – being a non-politician –  could also become the nation’s Achilles Heel. Of all the political stages in the world, the White House is the worst place to make a bluster blunder. Trump’s nature is bluster, so he is likely to make several.

His honeymoon may be short lived. The back room political powers and the monied interests that fuel them have not left our nation’s capital. Donald Trump has promised to “empty the swamp” single-handedly.  If we believe he can and will do it, however, we are naive.  He is far more likely to fall under the influence of the established politicos than they are to accede to his.  When one looks at his transition team rife with lobbyists, one sees the swamp critters already climbing aboard and taking premium seats on his boat.

Donald Trump was elected for what he isn’t.  Who he is will lead this country for at least the next four years.  So what do we know about him?

After meeting with the President-elect for 90 minutes just days after the election, President Obama diplomatically observed that Donald Trump has no ideology, but is the consummate pragmatist.  Obama was smiling at the time, but his words carried a serious warning.

History has shown time and again that a man or woman with no ideology who is empowered to lead a nation is dangerously unpredictable.   In fact, Mr. Trump has cultivated a well deserved reputation of unpredictability.  He considers it to be one of his greatest assets.  For a celebrity that makes sense; it’s entertaining and grabs the spotlight.  But as the President, if the Donald lacks dependability his reputation will become America’s as well.

To what degree can anyone count on Donald Trump in any respect?  He’s certainly not the first politician to lie.  But lying appears to come easy to him and is necessary at times to serve the pragmatist. Witness the birther diatribe, claiming President Obama wasn’t born in the US.  Donald held on to that false claim obsessively for as long as it was convenient, despite all proof that he was shouting a lie.  It was only when it was beneficial to him that he recanted the claim based on the same evidence he pragmatically ignored for years.

The discomfort and worry felt by the majority of voters who cast their ballots against Trump comes from a legitimate fear of what extreme and dangerous roads he may lead us down while promising not to.

Here is the key to understanding Trump. When dealing with him, always remember that Donald Trump has never done, and will never do, anything that was or is not intended first and foremost to be to his personal benefit.    He is the poster child of malignant narcissism (See Beware the Malignant Narcissist: April 15, 2016).  It’s not always easy to find “what’s in it for him,” but keep looking lest it is realized when it is too late to matter.

Never upstage him and don’t ever think that you can count on what he says any longer than the time it takes him to say it.

Like all narcissists, Donald Trump values loyalty, if not fealty, above all other qualities in those around him.  The danger is his loyal minions may not include folks with quality diplomatic, or statesman-like experience to draw on when called upon to represent the United States effectively on the national or world stage.  (Witness Rudy Giuliani, whose only qualification to be Secretary of State is that he was involved in security planning for the United Nations Building while Mayor of New York.  That he was even on the list of potential candidates for this hugely important assignment is absurd. But on the Trump loyalty scale, he’s off the charts.)

In the end, no one loves Trump more than Trump.  The reason he is a pragmatist is that when conditions change he can change with them, uninhibited by ethics or conscience, in order to assure his personal benefit.  A look at the crooked road behind him will reveal an astounding number of Americans and others who made the cardinal mistake of depending on Donald Trump to:

  • honor a contract,
  • pay undocumented immigrant workers for the dangerous and off-the-books demolition work he hired them to do
  • keep manufacturing jobs for products with the Trump label in America
  • protect investors’ interests as CEO of the spin off corporation to which he sold his bankrupt casinos
  • create and contribute to a charitable fund in his name and under his roof
  • provide a meaningful and useful education to those who took government loans to pay him their tuition to enroll in Trump University
  • show any sign of ethical restraint in his business conduct
  • refrain from further victimizing those who were victimized by others

In all of these cases it proved pragmatic under Trump’s personal financial interest to:

  • tie his contractual obligations up in the courts and watch his creditors’ legal fees force them to give up, or to
  • withold the meagre payment he owed hapless undocumented workers he knowingly hired, and threaten to report them to Immigration for deportation, or to
  • keep the margins on his products high by avoiding expensive American labor, or to
  • sell off his failing casino businesses to investors as hidden gems and then pay himself $44 million as CEO of the investors’ new company, which he tanked (as he knew he would) or to,
  • fail to donate any of his own money to the Trump Charity fund but to use the contributions of others to buy an immense portrait of himself, or to
  • bilk thousands of Americans, many poor and looking to better themselves, out of their government loaned tuitions in return for a two-bit real estate seminar. The hayena laughed all the way to the bank at how easily he grabbed their loan money while dashing their hopes. When he agreed to pay a $25 million settlement of that case he tweeted he paid it only because his presidental responsibilities now prohibit his agressive defense of the case, which “he would have won.” (No ethical apology, just a statement to satisfy his enormous ego with the notion he would have won, despite having been caught red handed), or to
  • exploit an opportunity to cash in on more Federal tax payer (a category he does not inhabit) funds in 9/11 rehabilitation government aid to small businesses because it was “smart” to funnel funds away from 9/11 victims.

We have to ask, what are Mr. Trump’s American values that can be depended on as he “Makes America Great Again?” As President Obama pointed out, it is truly hard to tell.  He’s a pragmatist.  “It depends.”

Donald Trump told  61,201,031 American voters exactly what they wanted to hear.  Despite whatever he may have espoused to the contrary before, he now firmly believed all they did. Drain the swamp, build the wall, provide relief for the working lower and middle classes, lower their taxes, prosecute Hillary Clinton, remove support for the fallacy of climate change, take big money out of politics, deport 11 million illegal aliens, strengthen our borders, destroy ISIS and “Radical Islam” etc., etc.  Now that the election is over, he has begun backing out of several of these “promises,” calling them just “campaign talk,”  a.k.a., the pragmatic lies it took to get him elected.

For the sake of the country and the world, let’s hope that his pragmatic needs do not lead to the destruction of America’s role and reputation in the delicate global balance of power, because he’s now playing in a different game than he’s ever played before.  The stakes are higher and it is now America’s chips that he has to manage. The survival of the greatest nation the world has ever known is in the balance.

When crises explode, and they will, we better hope he can find solutions in the mirror, because that is the only place he is likely to look.

 

 

©2016  James C. Ash

 

 

Bernie Sanders was Right

Bernie Sanders was Right

Donald Trump’s campaign, while preposterous and inconsistent, has thrown a bright light on a social divide in America that is deeper and more severe than most of us realized.  There is no doubt that Trump is a narcissistic ass who has the ethics of an alley cat with a grossly enlarged libido. Nonetheless, despite his bombastic claims and morally degenerate behavior, many Americans are willing to turn a blind eye to his racial, ethnic, and misogynist hate mongering, and believe that “Donald really tells it like it is.”

People, we know something’s wrong, but let’s not forget what is right.

What’s Wrong?

Clearly, the great social experiment of equal opportunity and mutual respect in our Democracy is far less mature than it ought to be at this point in our history.  What has happened to stir up such vile and destructive emotions among so many people?

I believe that the current, worsening social divide is a product of an even more stark divide in the United States, namely the economic chasm between the wealthy and the rest of us.

During most of the 20th Century, the strength of our nation was largely drawn from a large and vibrant middle class that bridged the divide between the rich and the poor.  That middle class provided a vital pathway to success for people in poverty who wanted to better their conditions. It provided the reachable goal of helping a next generation live better than the parents had. Anyone could get ahead through honest work and intestinal fortitude. There was credible reason for hope.

But the dawn of both the information age that supplanted our manufacturing economy and the political shift of tax burdens from the rich to the middle class, changed the role and nature of the class structure in America.  Today, the poor have little means or hope to achieve upward mobility.  They have been nearly completely disenfranchised from the American Dream.  They are surrounded by greedy predators, like Mr. Trump, who create bogus “universities” touting the promise of a bright future.  Unsuspecting and well meaning people take on student loans to pay for an ultimately bogus education and a useless degree.  Because student loans are not forgiven by bankruptcy, people least able to pay back loans trade their hopeful futures for a lifetime debt.  And the rich get richer.

While the poor lose hope, many in the middle class face the legitimate fear of falling below the poverty line to join the ranks of the hopeless.  The middle class is not shrinking because more people are getting rich.  The erosion of the middle class is from the bottom, not the top.

Meanwhile, the rich buy the allegiance of law makers in local, state, and national political arenas and quietly arrange the rules of the land in ways that allow them to systematically siphon off more wealth from middle class and the poor.  Nowhere is that more evident than in the tax codes of all levels of government.

There is no doubt that the top 10% of wealthy Americans pay significantly less than their fair share of taxes.  Don’t listen to politicians or political pundits who, like Mr. Trump, make up false statistics to the contrary.  Fully 50% or more of the wealth of this nation is owned by that 10%.  By far, more taxes are collected from our 50% than are collected from their 50%. End of story!

This economic disaster began with the Ronald Reagan notion that if we cut taxes for the wealthy, all kinds of great things would happen.  They would invest all that untaxed money to create tons of new jobs for millions of people. Some of the wealth of the top 10% would “trickle down” like soft rain from a cloud, nourishing us all.

It simply didn’t happen then, and it will not happen now. The rich don’t use their money to create rainfalls for anyone. Most use money to get more money. Few, if any people benefited more financially than the rich during the end of the 20th Century and the beginning of of the 21st.  They have built their rigged system.  All they need do now is maintain it.

What’s Right?

The spiral we are in where the rich profit at the expense of the rest of us can only be stopped if the rest of us, 90% of the electorate, demand that:

  • Tax codes are simplified and the wealthy are made to pay their fair share without exception. The purpose of taxes in a democracy includes being a mechanism for a healthy distribution of wealth among the electorate.  That needs to happen.
  • The power of free speech is equitably shared by all. One’s right to speak freely is sacrosanct, but the decibel level of one person’s right to speak should not be allowed to drown the speech of others.  Free speech needs to include the concept of an equal right to be heard.  That’s where the power resides.  That is why we desperately need to impose limits on how much money any one individual or group of individuals, or a corporation or a union, or a political action committee can contribute to the decibel level of any one candidate.  The idea that free speech in America includes the right to drown out the speech of others who may not have a mega-phone is dangerous and ethically contrary to the bedrock upon which this nation was built.
  • Good jobs are created by government to repair and improve the infrastructure we all depend on (even the rich) for transportation, communication, education, law enforcement, welfare, and commerce etc..
  • Education for the information age is widely made available and affordable if not free in many cases.

The gulf between greed and simple comfort is wide.

The gulf between greed and happiness is wider.

Being part of the solution is always better than being part of the problem.

Bernie was right.

Can the World Afford a Malignant Narcissist as President of the US?

Can the World Afford a Malignant Narcissist as President of the US?

Q: Can the world afford a Malignant Narcissist as President of the United States?

 A: Probably not, but let us not test the idea.

What is Malignant Narcissism?  Below is a bullet point rendition of Wikipedia’s definition.

As you read it, ask yourself, is this not Donald Trump?

“Malignant Narcissism is a psychological syndrome comprising an extreme mix of:

  • narcissism,  […no one loves Donald as much as the Donald does, and nothing that Donald does is intended to benefit anyone but Donald. His proposed tax break for the middle class is part of an overall tax strategy that would hand the wealthy top 10%  – including himself – a much bigger tax break.  Trump thrives on being in the limelight, disregards any inconvenient truth, and cannot acknowledge his mistakes to the point that, obviously contrary to his own best interests, he doubles-down on his numerous blatant blunders.]
  • antisocial personality disorder, […does bragging about being able to grab any woman’s crotch simply because he is The Donald qualify?  He has absolutely no respect nor an ounce of empathy for anyone but himself.]
  • aggression[…he sues everyone who dares to cross his path, is a misogynist, a bigot, and indiscriminatly intimidates any who might be in his way] and
  • sadism […refusing to pay workers who live paycheck-to-paycheck, and the act of firing someone are among many harmful situations that seem to give Donald great pleasure].
  • Often grandiose, […he genuinely thinks his five-letter name should be valued at more than a billion dollars per letter, nuff said?] and
  • always ready to raise hostility levels […like the schoolyard bully, he will pick on anyone he thinks is weaker than himself.],
  • the malignant narcissist undermines organizations in which they are involved […can America afford this?] , and
  • dehumanizes the people with whom they associate” [Women, Mexicans and Other Hispanics, Blacks, Jews, Muslims, Political and Business Opponents,  etc., etc.].

Power in the hands of a malignant narcissist is extraordinarily dangerous. The malignant narcissist does not want to lead, but to rule. Most of those who fought to depose the last major malignant narcissist ruler over 50 years ago are no longer with us.  Few are left who saw first-hand how dangerously evil a popular conniving malignant narcissist can be.

Donald Trump’s candidacy presents danger to the world, and many world leaders know it.  His bluster, reversals of expressed opinions, personal slanders, and complete disregard of truths that are in conflict with his desires, make him unreliable, untrustworthy, and insanely volatile.  These attributes might be useful in gaining the upper hand in business negotiations but it is a terrible mix when dealing with leaders of other sovereign nations that have national pride and military options.  Putin would love to play with someone who thinks Twitter is a great political forum.  Trump’s buttons are easy to see and easy to push.  All it takes to make him totally irrational is to insult him personally. (Have you noticed that he never says he was “attacked.”  Any assault on his character or comments is a “vicious attack.”  Apparently in his self-absorbed mind having the temerity to attack Donald Trump must be vicious.) 

Do you really want Donald Trump in charge of our nuclear arsenal?

Beyond Frightening – Simply Unacceptable.

We are in these seriously dangerous waters largely because for the last six years the Republican-controlled Congress chose to abdicate it’s responsibilities and freeze the government to undermine the remainder of Obama’s two-term presidency. Trump’s popularity is the genuinely frustrated but reckless grass roots response to the uncompromising leadership of Congress.  Perhaps Republican incumbents in both houses who are running for re-election as “down-ticket” candidates under Trump’s name this year will suffer for their intentional and petty gridlock.*

The last political malignant narcissist who rose to power on a wave of an indignant grass roots backlash nearly destroyed their world and ours.  Luckily, he didn’t quite have access to atomic weaponry.

The next one will.

 

 

 

*Ironically, the political career of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is reeling from self-inflicted wounds suffered in his very own gridlock scandal .  The now infamous George Washington Bridge traffic jam, deliberately engineered by Christie’s Administration to “punish” the Mayor of Fort Lee, has backfired on him. Christie is well suited to Trump’s sycophantic entourage.