A User’s Guide to Donald Trump: Appendix 1

A User’s Guide to Donald Trump: Appendix 1

The American public has never had to deal with anyone like Donald Trump in the White House. Most of us are aware of that. But it’s important to identify the aspects of The Donald that set him apart from all previous 44 Presidents of the United States, with perhaps the exception of Warren G. Harding.

For many years Donald Trump was a member of/financial contributor to the Democratic Party. Why then did he suddenly declare his candidacy for the Presidency in the Republican Party primaries in 2012?  First, his motivations for his party affiliations and contributions were, like always, strictly self-serving. They were pragmatic, not ideological. The money he “donated” and his affiliations were intended to be profitable in the long run.

So when he smelled an opportunity that he could never have among the Democrats, it was natural for Trump to change sides. Although he was never interested in running (and losing) against the incumbent Barack Obama in 2012, he was hungry to join the legion of Republicans who sought the presidential nomination. This was an irresistible chance to invent and introduce a new facet of his image, downplaying his amoral, audacious real estate escapades and reckless, amoral, playboy persona. Here he would test fly himself as a potential statesman.

No one took him seriously in 2012; he gathered very few percentage points in the primaries. But that didn’t matter. He wasn’t in it to win it back then. He’d accomplished his objective of planting seeds of quasi-political respectability. He’d shared the stage shoulder-to-shoulder with life-long politicos whose names were, in most cases, lesser known by the general public than his. He wedged his way in and gave his eventual presidential aspirations a precedent.

Over the next four years, he created and burnished his supposed executive leadership credentials with his new popular television show, “The Apprentice.”   Sitting on his regal executive throne, he disparaged and humiliated young business school graduates with his denegrations of their performances in difficult assignments that ostensibly tested their chops. His image took on a hard-nosed, take-no-prisoners attitude and a demi-god-like impatience with the fools he had to tolerate. As intended, he presented himself as a tough boss who demanded results. Contrary to his 2012 primary showing, his television ratings were astounding. Not satisfied with besting unknown job applicants, he then gathered a bunch of celebrities whose fading stardoms were in dire need of any kind of boost, and thrashed them around to get ever-higher ratings. He proudly proved he could easily control and inflict failure on characters whose names were recognizable having once been popular but who were now stuck in the minor leagues.  Meanwhile, Trump’s popularity rose.

Like a mountain of bubbles in a bathtub, there was little real substance in the political image Trump created for himself by 2016. He had no real steak to offer, but he had more than enough sizzle.

The rest is history. He tossed his Vietnamese-manufactured “Make American Great Again” hat into the crowded ring and immediately stood out boldly against the stable of Republican wannabes who were virtually indistinguishable from one another.  His cast away opponents either went home to lick their wounds or prolonged their agony by embracing his campaign.  Trump squeezed out what little value they had left and then left them by the roadside (see Christie, Chris).

With active and illegal complicity, his de facto campaign manager Vladimir Putin crafted and executed a masterfully deceitful strategy for the general election. Hacking into Democratic leaders’ e-mails and making other well-timed cyber moves and Wiki leaks, Putin’s minions created a growing series of questionable concerns about Hilary Clinton. With heavy strategic applications of paid advertisements on major social media sites, The Donald’s allies in the Kremlin pushed all the right buttons to plant propaganda into the willing ears of those living in the heartland. Their strategy’s climax came at the either unwitting or cunning announcement by FBI Director James Comey that more Clinton e-mails were under investigation less than 48 hours before the polls opened. The Hammer & Sickle banner was raised to new heights as the Trump/Putin campaign successfully turned the tide of reason in the electorate just enough for the Electoral College to negate the popular vote.

Gleeful high fives in Moscow.  Trump was in.

God help us.

Now that he is president, it’s important to understand what motivates Trump as he plays the ringmaster over his circus. We caught more than a hilariously stupid glimpse of what is in store for the next four years very early in his administration. In the face of indisputable evidence to the contrary, Trump launched his administration by adamantly insisting that his Inaugural crowd was the largest ever, dwarfing President Obama’s crowds.  In other words, Trump’s presidency began with what 99.4% of sane people in the world knew was the boldest of bold-faced lies. His humiliated Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, was ordered to support those outrageously false assertions in his first press briefing from the White House. Trump and Spicer were the only two people who made those farcical assertions. Everyone knew that neither believed it.

And that was just the inauspicious beginning.

Many political commentators have since grasped the obvious and reported that Trump has absolutely no fundamental political beliefs to inform his decision making. Instead, his decisions waffle depending on what works best for him at a given time. Believing in nothing is very advantageous to someone cares nothing for the truth and wants to remain pragmatically flexible.

Regrettably “pragmatically flexible” is a new piece of Washington-speak that is the equivalent of “unpredictable,” or in Trump’s case “wildly unpredictable.” Trump is definitely that. Those who try to read his mind have to realize he is fundamentally a spoiled and over-inflated bag of pure ego.   Not unlike his counterpart in North Korea, Trump expects his people to, not only accept, but applaud loudly, his blatantly self-serving lies.  Unfortunately, many who invested their support in him find they either have to turn a blind eye to the nature of the man and his shenanigans or admit to a big mistake. Understandably, obstinance favors the former option.

Unpredictability is a strategic tool that fools people and keeps Trump in the limelight where his bleached comb-over and pink cheeks look best.  He stirs the pot, which is not necessarily a bad thing but can be very dangerous in some instances.  I think we all have reason to worry about whether he knows the difference.

Ultimately, Trump has no ideology or morality in the foundation of ‘What’s Best for America.’ The true bottom line is that whatever Donald Trump does is driven by what’s best for Donald Trump. It has always been that way; he knows no other way to live.

Certainly some people, his family, his unstable inner circle, his daughter’s wedding planner, and his business associates have benefitted from some of his decisions and actions, but those are collateral consequences. Trump seems to firmly believe that what is good for The Donald is always the equivalent of What’s Best for America.  So far, I contend that our American values and his stances have never been aligned and are becoming further distant by the day.

A User’s Guide to President Trump – Warnings:

  • Do not expect the truth from The Donald; Fact check whatever he says, even if it is something you think might be true.  It’s a shame to have to do this, but it comes with the territory.
  • Always keep in mind that Donald Trump is his own favorite cause, topic, and person. Donald Trump NEVER does anything that doesn’t primarily benefit Donald Trump. Interpret anything he says or does accordingly. From this vantage point, what he says and does will make more sense in a perverse way. It might not be acceptable or make you feel better, but it is easier to work with than total chaos.
  • Donald Trump will often surprise his allies and detractors by doing the polar opposite of what they expect. He unapologetically contradicts himself often. He is unpredictable simply for no other reason than shock value. He loves creating unexpected change because it almost always grabs his favorite elixir: attention.
  • Oh, one more thing, and this is a big one. Beware: At all costs, whatever you do, don’t let Trump’s reckless bravado start a nuclear w

 

The Mystery of the Missing Health Care Bill

The Mystery of the Missing Health Care Bill

It’s a new low.  The Republican majority in the Senate is secretly crafting revisions into their pitiful first attempt putting forth their ACHA – American Health Care Act (a.k.a. the Anti Health Care Act).

The Repugnican Leadership has chosen to take their work underground.  The secret approach is their way of assuring that no one knows what they’ve done until it is too late.  Who knows what they might bury in some dark corner of the tome.  Having a majority, Republicans can control floor debates at will. There will be very little time for those oppose them to carefully read and analyze the effects of the revised AHCA proposal on our citizenry before debates.  I anticipate the Repugnicans will propagandize their plan in tilted summaries for the public when the actual bill is released.  Is this how to run a democracy?

When the Republican House of Reps.’ hastily released its first attempt at an ACHA, listening to and learning from vehemently angry constituents in Town Hall Meetings thereafter was a sobering experience for them.  After the Repugnican Senators’ work finally sees the light of day I doubt if any will hold any Town Hall Meetings .

The lowest of Repugnicans, Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, is responsible for this underhanded strategy to jam this despicable legislation through.  I am 99% certain that their program, if legislated, will deeply cut expenditures designed to benefit the poor.  The Repugnicans will need those funds to give to the rich (including the President) in a Trumped up Repugnican tax cut strategy specifically designed for them.  LUDICROUS!!  Wealthy corporations and individuals hardly need any more than the 90% of this country they already own.  How many yachts do they deserve?

Oh, and to deflect attention from enriching the rich, the rest of us will get a token tax break.  How nice, we all get an opportunity to exploit the powerless in our great nation.

I am greatly surprised that McConnell has been able to keep the lid on the ACHA.  Surely there must be at least a few Republican Senators who are patriotic enough to know that the end does not justify the means in a democracy.  This surreptitious strategy is unworthy of any Senator who supports it.  This so blatantly violates the mutual respect that is required for equanimity – a cornerstone of American Democracy – as to grievously injure the soul of America.

The Republicans may truly believe that they have the right point of view, but their secretive, underhanded method of achieving their goals negates any vestige of allegiance to the American Way.  The flag pins on Repugnicans’ lapels are an insulting lie.  Their actions are a major desecration of all that the American Flag stands for.

Last March, four Republican Senators, Rob Portman (Ohio), Shelley Moore Capito (West Virginia), Cory Gardner (Colorado), and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), signed a letter to Mitch McConnell voicing their concerns over the contents of a leaked copy of the AHCA.  It’s nice to know that some on that side of the aisle are concerned about the impact of this proposed legislation on everyday folks.  But no Republican Senator, to my knowledge, has publically objected to the secretive process that made only a leaked version of the bill available to them.

Is there no Republican Senator with the courage to stand up and call this what it is?  Susan Collins, where are you?  John McCain, please take a stand on this.  Jeff Flake, Marco Rubio, Lamar Alexander, Susan Murkowski, Michael Lee, are you there?

Are none of our Republican Senators appalled by how and where McConnell & Co. are leading them? Are they all willing to be a party to this process, the antithesis of democratic governance?

Is this disease that deeply bedded in our system now?

 

My country, right or wrong?

No sir.  My country rights its wrongs.

 

I sincerely hope this will be a case in point.

“To the Mattresses”

“To the Mattresses”

 

“President Trump and his advisers, seeking to contain the escalating Russia crisis that threatens to consume his presidency, are considering a retooling of his senior staff and the creation of a “war room” within the White House, according to several aides and outside Trump allies.”

“ ‘Go to the mattresses,’ a line from the film “The Godfather” about turning to tough mercenaries during troubled times, has circulated among Trump’s friends, said two people close to the war room discussions.”

Washington Post, May 28, 2017

The troops are gathering, officers are plotting their strategies, the reserves have been called up, allies are joining the cause, munitions and propaganda factories are gearing up.  No, this isn’t Germany in the late 1930s. This is Donald Trump going to war against his greatest enemy: the Truth.

This strategic threat posed by the Trump Legion has the aura of a true test of whether America will allow itself to be overtaken by  bombastic false promises, personal greed, and flat out dishonesty.

Already the Trump Legion has begun to:

  • Renege on promises in rhetoric aimed directly at the “common man.”  The swamp is not draining, Cabinet Meetings are filled with Goldman-Sachs executives and other financial super heroes. NAFTA is still here and China won’t be tagged as a currency manipulator.  April Fools; he had his fingers crossed when he promised.  As anyone with a seven-year old’s mentality knows, promises don’t count then.
  • Undermine America’s relations with Democracies in Europe and with NATO in order to align America behind (not beside or in front of) Russia. Apparently Trump’s personal hero is Vladimir Putin.  And why not, it could well be that Putin put Trump into the White House.  If so, unless Trump’s America falls in line Putin can threaten to expose how Trump really was elected.  That is why it is so important to us that the Kremlin/Trump relationship needs to be so thoroughly investigated.  It’s also why it is so important to Trump that it’s  not investigated.  If Trump has nothing to hide, why is he going to war to try to stop the investigation?
  • Attack the credibility of the FBI and CIA and all others investigating the secret and perhaps treasonous activities of the Trump campaign and administration. Again, if there’s nothing to hide there’s no reason to go to the mattresses.
  • Give yet another round of huge tax breaks to businesses (including The Donald’s) and to mega-wealthy people (including himself and many of his Legionnaires). Economists warn that these gifts to wealth will inflate America’s deficit quicker and more severely than ever before. We saw the trickledown theory of Reaganomics completely fail to materialize, but let’s try again.  This time we’ll put even more money into the hands of the rich and then see how that magically benefits the average American.   Alternatively, we might do better to remember that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
  • Leave the common citizenry to carry both a hugely disproportionate portion of the US tax burden and an even more overinflated national debt.  Ultimately, it will not be the wealthy who solve the problems in our economy, simply because most of the wealthy are themselves among the biggest problems in our economy. The divide between poverty and wealth is getting larger every day.  When the economy is skewed to benefit the very, very few, it exacerbates the already deplorable conditions suffered by the growing numbers of the poor.  Trump, along with his fellow Republicans, are among the worst enemies of the poor. Trump’s proposed budget has already heavily attacked the poor by gutting programs that are the last lifeline for millions of Americans impoverished by the shameful distribution of wealth in our nation.  He wants to give the money to the impoverished Pentagon instead. Despite his promises, he has never been an honest advocate of the poor or the shrinking Middle Class.  What he promises and what he actually does are as far apart as the rich are from the poor.
  • Work hand in glove with his Republican Congress to turn the Affordable Care Act into the unaffordable American Care Act, leaving somewhere between 20 million to 25 million Americans with no viable health insurance options at all. And those will be the folks who especially who need affordable insurance the most – those in poverty and those with pre-existing conditions.  Since when have Americans become so selfishly ugly as to turn their backs on their unfortunate countrymen and callously condemn them to suffer and die?
  • Incredibly seek to not only to leave the poor and people with pre-existing health conditions in the dust, but try to demonize them by claiming their poverty and their sicknesses are their own fault for not doing “the right things.” (Self-anointed arrogance at its worst.)
  • Seek also to demonize the press by calling their disciplined reporting and genuine search for the Truth (another of Trump’s worst enemies) “fake news.”
  • Send thousands upon thousands more troops back into Afghanistan. (What was that definition of insanity again?)
  • Bamboozle Americans into thinking that he can single handedly bully Mexico to pay for his preposterous campaign promise – The Wall.  Trump hopes we will never think this through, but if Trump has his way the American people will ultimately pay for The Wall up front and again after it’s built.  Trump proposes to build the thing with billions from the US Treasury and then recover the cost of The Wall by putting tariffs on Mexican goods crossing our borders.  He’d like us to think it’s that simple, but the process doesn’t actually end there.  If/when he imposes those tariffs, what do you think Mexican exporters will do?  Obviously, they will charge more for their goods to offset the tariffs.  And who will pay those increased prices? The American Consumer. So ultimately the American Consumer will re-pay the American Taxpayer for The Wall by way of Mexico. Mexico will simply pay the tariff with one hand and collect it back with the other. The Trump Legion knows that full well, but their propaganda is designed to make us believe that ultimately Mexico will pay.

The Fourth Great Lie  + Trust me, I’m Donald Trump +

So now the Trump Legion is preparing for War.  Their enemy?  Anyone who realizes the threat the Trump Legion poses.  The Trump Legion is declaring war on the fundamental rights and well being of anyone who sees that Emperor Trump wears no clothes and says so. Given enough power, anything and anyone will be fair game for the Donald and his cabal of wealthy business friends: the Constitution and Bill of Rights, over 240 years of history (Did you know that Andrew Jackson hated the Civil War even though he died 15 years before it started?), and the scores of millions of Americans who actually recognize that freedom and the rest of America’s ideals are in serious jeopardy.

Trump is about to campaign again, this time on a war footing.  The Trump Legion always fights dirty. Nothing is sacred, especially the Truth.  There is nothing so low as to be beneath them.

The rest of us need to defend those who the Legion attacks and defend ourselves in the battle for the attention of the American people.  We need a presence everywhere Trump goes to point out the Bullshit that comes with him. Let that be our chant, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit.  Let’s fill the streets with crowds whose chant can overwhelm their lies.

The Trump Legion has provided us now with ammunition we never had before.  We can see their end game in their blunders, lies, appointees, policies and positions.  They are all aimed at punishing the poor and paving the way for big business and the rest of the already financially powerful to openly rule this land.

This may well be this generation’s most important war.  The principles and existence of our nation are at stake.

God Bless America and Help Us Protect Our Beloved County!

“the love of money is the root of all evil.”  R.W. Emerson

 

 

Is Stupidity a Pre-existing Condition?

Is Stupidity a Pre-existing Condition?

Mo Brooks.

He’s a comedian, right?

No, that’s Mel Brooks.  Funny man.

Mo has to be related.

I mean, who could seriously say:

My understanding is that (the new health care proposal) will allow insurance companies to require people who have higher health care costs to contribute more to the insurance pool,” Brooks said, “thereby reducing the cost to those people who lead good lives, they’re healthy, they’ve done the things to keep their bodies healthy. And right now, those are the people–who’ve done things the right way–that are seeing their costs skyrocketing.”

No, unfortunately, he’s not a comedian.

He’s not related to Mel Brooks (sorry Mel, to have nearly impugned your reputation).

Yes, he was serious when he said that.

He’s the Republican Congressman representing Alabama’s 5th Congressional District. Seriously.

 

Oh. Well… ah… Maybe he just had a bad day. Or maybe the nasty news media planted this story, you know, like the Republicans always say, it’s fake news.  I mean, he surely didn’t mean that anyone with a pre-existing condition or any other cause to have high health care costs can’t have “led good lives”…”done things to keep their bodies healthy”…”done things the right way.”

I mean, is there anybody that arrogantly stupid?!  Having been sick is a sure sign that someone hasn’t lived “the right way?”  How lame is that?

I wonder how many people who live in Good Ol’ Mo’s Congressional District would be among the losers in Rep. Brooks’s stance.  It’s hard to say.  You see the Republican replacement plan allows each insurer to conveniently define for itself what ailments qualify as pre-existing conditions. Congress apparently wants insurers to have free reign to do what’s best. And we all know how much we can trust the insurance industry to watch out for our best interests.  Who needs goverment protection when we have the insurance companies to cover us?

The Kaiser Foundation estimates that “about a quarter of American adults under 65 have pre-existing conditions that made them ‘declinable.’”  If Mr. Brooks’s constituents are a typical cross section of America (a reasonable assumption), he apparently doesn’t hold 25% of the people he represents in high regard.  Lots of slackers in the doing the right thing department.

Let me see a show of hands here.  If you have had any of the following ailments, please raise your hand:

  • AIDS/HIV
  • Alcohol abuse/ Drug abuse with recent treatment
  • Alzheimer’s/dementia
  • Arthritis (rheumatoid), fibromyalgia, other inflammatory joint disease
  • Cancer within some period of time (e.g. 10 years, often other than basal skin cancer)
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Coronary artery/heart disease, bypass surgery
  • Crohn’s disease/ ulcerative colitis
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)/emphysema
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Epilepsy
  • Hemophilia
  • Hepatitis (Hep C)
  • Kidney disease, renal failure
  • Lupus
  • Mental disorders (severe, e.g. bipolar, eating disorder)
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Obesity, severe
  • Organ transplant
  • Paraplegia
  • Paralysis
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Pending surgery or hospitalization
  • Pneumocystic pneumonia
  • Pregnancy or expectant parent
  • Sleep apnea
  • Stroke

OK. Everyone with a raised hand, you’re out!  If you get sick, take out a loan or take your chances with divine intervention.

Now, these are just the most common items among most insurers’ pre-existing conditions.  As mentioned, the insurers make up their own lists.  So the rest of you are not completely out of the woods yet.  Technically, insurers could blow up your rates if you’d had a hangnail, or acne, or sinus headaches, or whatever.

“To put it another way,” writes Beth Skwarecki in Gawker Media’s Lifehacker, “the health care bill doesn’t name any conditions that are fair game; but they also don’t explicitly protect any of them, either.”

This just keeps getting better and better, doesn’t it?

Please, remember this:  Republicans now control:

  • The House of Representatives,
  • The Senate,
  • The White House and all of its Cabinet Agencies, and
  • The Justices on The Supreme Court (Republican Presidents selected the majority of them).

This is the Republican Party’s dream arrangement, they are in control of every facet of the Federal Government. It’s their big chance to get what they really want for America.  What happens to you is now primarily their responsibility.   If they’re not on your side, the government isn’t on your side.

So the pre-existing conditions portion of the newly proposed Republican Health Care law is an example of their national government doing its level best to protect:

(pick one)

  1. American citizens
  2. The Profitability of the Insurance Industry

 

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.