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Posts Tagged ‘NINETEEN-EIGHTY-FOUR’

TRUMPING–AND DUMPING: PART ONE (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Politics, Social commentary on March 7, 2016 at 12:23 am

In 2011, Donald Trump, the egocentric businessman and “reality star” of NBC’s “The Apprentice,” was toying with the idea of running for President in 2012.

On April 17, 2011, Trump said this about Mitt Romney, a possible rival and the former Massachusetts governor and front-runner GOP candidate: 

“He’d buy companies, he’d close companies. He’d get rid of jobs. I’ve built a great company. I’m a much bigger businessman and have a much, much bigger net worth. I mean, my net worth is many, many, many times Mitt Romney. 

“Mitt Romney is a basically small-business guy, if you really think about it. He was a hedge fund.  He was a funds guy. He walked away with some money from a very good company that he didn’t create. He worked there. He didn’t create it.”  

Donald Trump

Trump added that Bain Capital, the hedge fund where Romney made millions of dollars before running for governor, didn’t create any jobs. Whereas Trump claimed that he–Trump–had created “hundreds of thousands of jobs.”

So at least some observers must have been puzzled when Trump announced, on February 2, 2012: “It’s my honor, real honor and privilege, to endorse Mitt Romney” for President.

“Mitt is tough. He’s smart. He’s sharp. He’s not going to allow bad things to continue to happen to this country that we all love. So, Governor Romney, go out and get ’em. You can do it,” said Trump. 

And Romney, in turn, had his own swooning-girl moment: 

“I’m so honored to have his endorsement. There are some things that you just can’t imagine in your life. This is one of them.”  

Mitt Romney

Throughout the 2012 Presidential race, Trump continued to “help” Romney–by repeatedly accusing President Barack Obama of not being an American citizen.

Had that been true, Obama would not have had the right to be President–since the Constitution says that only an American citizen can hold this position.

Of course, that was entirely what Trump wanted people to believe– that Obama was an illegitimate President, and deserved to be thrown out.

Come election night–and disaster for Romney–and Trump.

When it became clear that Romney was not going to be America’s 45th President, Trump went ballistic on Twitter. 

Among his tweets:

  • More votes equals a loss…revolution! 
  • Lets fight like hell and stop this great and disgusting injustice!  The world is laughing at us.
  • We can’t let this happen.  We should march on Washington and stop this travesty.  Our nation is totally divided! 
  • The phoney electoral college made a laughing stock out of our nation.  The loser one! 
  • He lost the popular vote by a lot and won the election.  We should have a revolution in this country! 

To put Trump’s rants into real-world perspective:

According to Trump, the electoral process works when a Republican wins the Presidency. It only doesn’t work when a Democrat wins.

We should march on Washington” conjures up images of another Fascist–Benito Mussolini–marching on Rome at the head of his Blackshirts to seize power. 

“The phoney electoral college made a laughing stock out of our nation. The loser one!” 

This is startling, on three counts:

First, the 2012 Republican Platform spoke lovingly about the need for preserving the Electoral College: “We oppose the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact or any other scheme to abolish or distort the procedures of the Electoral College.

“We recognize that an unconstitutional effort to impose ‘national popular vote’ would be a mortal threat to our federal system and a guarantee of corruption as every ballot box in every state would become a chance to steal the presidency.”

Second, the loser didn’t win: He lost.  With votes still being counted (as of November 8) Obama got 60,652,238. Romney got 57,810,407.

Third, in 2000, Al Gore won the popular vote (50,999,897) to George W. Bush’s 50,456,002. But Bush trounced Gore in the Electoral College (271 to 266).

Still, that meant Bush–not Gore–would head the country for the next eight years. And that was perfectly OK with Right-wingers like Trump.

It was only when Obama won the Electoral College count by 332 to 206 that this was–according to Trump–a “travesty.”

And Trump’s solution if voters dare to elect someone other than Trump’s pet choice: “Revolution!”

This comes perilously close to advocating violent overthrow of the government. Otherwise known as treason–a crime traditionally punished by execution, or at least lengthy imprisonment.

Fast forward, to 2016–and the relationship between Trump and Romney looks considerably different.

On June 16, 2015, Trump declared his candidacy for the 2016 Republican Presidential nomination. Since then, he has been the first choice among the Republican base.  

At first, he was dismissed as a bad joke–by Republican Presidential candidates as well as Democrats. Surely voters would reject a bombastic, thrice-married “reality show” host who had filed for corporate bankruptcy four times.

Yet from the outset Trump dominated the field–and a series of Republican debates. The other Republican candidates watched him with envy–and desperately tried to steal some of his limelight.  

Making made one inflammatory statement after another, he offended one group of potential voters after another.  

These insults delighted his white, under-educated followers. But they alienated millions of other Americans who might have voted for him.

COMING: “SUPER CONGRESS” DICTATORSHIP – PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics, Social commentary on July 25, 2011 at 9:03 pm

Republicans are refusing to raise the debt ceiling unless Democrats agree to massively cut social programs for the elderly, poor and disabled.

If Congress fails to raise the borrowing limit of the federal government by August 2, the date when the U.S. will reach the limit of its borrowing abilities, it will likely begin defaulting on its loans.

But suddenly, at the eleventh hour, Republicans seem to be offering a “solution.”

According to a July 23 story in the Huffington Post:

“Debt ceiling negotiators think they’ve hit on a solution to address the debt ceiling impasse and the public’s unwillingness to let go of benefits such as Medicare and Social Security that have been earned over a lifetime of work: Create a new Congress.

“This ‘Super Congress,’ composed of members of both chambers and both parties, isn’t mentioned anywhere in the Constitution, but would be granted extraordinary new powers.

“Under a plan put forth by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his counterpart Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), legislation to lift the debt ceiling would be accompanied by the creation of a 12-member panel made up of 12 lawmakers–six from each chamber and six from each party.

“Legislation approved by the Super Congress–which some on Capitol Hill are calling the ‘super committee’–would then be fast-tracked through both chambers, where it couldn’t be amended by simple, regular lawmakers, who’d have the ability only to cast an up or down vote.

“With the weight of both leaderships behind it, a product originated by the Super Congress would have a strong chance of moving through the little Congress and quickly becoming law.

“A Super Congress would be less accountable than the system that exists today, and would find it easier to strip the public of popular benefits.

“Negotiators are currently considering cutting the mortgage deduction and tax credits for retirement savings, for instance, extremely popular policies that would be difficult to slice up using the traditional legislative process.”

Consider the implications of this  story:

  • The primary reason for creating this “Super Congress” would be to destroy popular programs such as Medicare and Social Security.
  • This “‘Super Congress” isn’t mentioned anywhere in the Constitution–making it, on its face, an unconstitutional body.
  • Republicans–like classic extortionists–opened their “negotiations” with a threat: To destroy the credit-rating of the United States.
  • Then, pretending to the “voice of reason,” they now offer this “Super Congress” as their “compromise” in return for raising the debt ceiling.
  • Adoption of this proposal would empower Republicans to force their radical social and economic agendas on the poor and middle-class.
  • Some on Capitol Hill are referring to the “Super Congress” as the “super committee.”  A more accurate term for it would be the all-powerful “Central Committee” of the now-defunct Soviet Union.
  • Legislation submitted to the “Super Congress” would be rammed through both houses of the “Regular Congress.”  No matter how radically it would affect the lives of millions of American citizens, its passage would be almost guaranteed.
  • Members of the “Regular Congress” would use the “Super Congress” to shield themselves against the wrath of their constituents.  They would blame the “Super Congress” for gutting programs that voters had long supported.  
  • Programs aiding the poor and middle-class–such as Medicare and Social Security–would be the ones targeted by Republicans for extinction.  

As former CBS Corrspondent David Shoenbrun noted in his bestselling autobiography, America Inside Out: At Home and Abroad from Roosevelt to Reagan:

For Republicans, “granting tax concessions and other advantages to business is helping America become strong.  But welfare to the poor or the victims of the marketplace economy weakens America, saps its morale.

“In short, welfare for the rich is good for America.  But welfare for the poor is bad for America, even for the poor themselves, for it encourages them to be shiftless and lazy.”

With voters’ attention focused on the possibility of national bankruptcy,  the proposed “Super Congress” has so far gotten little attention.

But its potential for long-term harm to–if not the destruction of–the democratic process must be addressed, quickly and clearly.

And, above all else, it must be addressed by those citizens, such as seniors and the poor, who have the most to lose through the creation of a “Super Congress”–and the radical demands it would enforce upon their lives.

COMING: “SUPER CONGRESS” DICTATORSHIP – PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics, Social commentary on July 25, 2011 at 7:23 pm

The 1960 Kirk Douglas epic, Spartacus, may soon prove to be more than great entertainment.  It may also turn out to be a prophecy of the end of the American Republic.

In the movie, Spartacus (Douglas), a Roman slave, leads a revolt of his fellow gladiators against the might of Republican Rome.  Raising an army of thousands of slaves, he marches across Italy, defeating every Roman legion sent against him.

Terrified that Spartacus will soon destroy their city, the Roman Senate desperately searches for a solution.  Gaius Gracchus, leader of the Senate, meets privately with Marcus Crassus, a former Senator and able general.

Gracchus: “The Senate’s been in session all day over this business of Spartacus. We’ve got eight legions to march against him and no one to lead them. The minute you offer the generals command they start wheezing like winded mules. ”

Crassus:  “I’ve seen such epidemics before, haven’t you?”

Gracchus:  “How’s your health?”

Crassus:  “Excellent, as you know.  I take it the senate’s now offering command of the legions to me.”

Gracchus:  “You’ve been expecting it.”

Crassus:  “I have.   But have you thought how costly my services might be?”

Gracchus:   “We buy everything else these days. No reason why we shouldn’t be charged for patriotism. What’s your fee?”

Crassus:  “My election as fiirst consul, command of all the legions of ltaly, and the abolition of senatorial authority over the courts.”

Gracchus:   “Dictatorship.”

Crassus:  “Order.  Advise me if my terms are acceptable.”

Gracchus:  “I can tell you now they’re unacceptable.”

Crassus:  “Yes, I know. For the present perhaps, but times change, and so does the senate.  When that day comes, I shall be ready.”

Crassus makes certain that times do change.  He bribes the Ciletian pirates, who have agreed to transport Spartacus and his army out of Italy, to leave them stranded there.  With his escape route cut off, Spartacus has only one choice: March directly on Rome.

In terror for their lives, and feeling they have no one else to turn to, the Roman Senate agrees to Crassus’ terms: He is given command of all Roman armies–and the power of absolute dictator.

The Romans, who have enslaved tens of thousands of others, have, out of fear, now voluntarily enslaved themselves to Crassus.

* * * * *

Now–fast forward 2,000 years, to the United States as it teeters on the brink of bankruptcy.

Republicans are refusing to raise the debt ceiling unless Democrats agree to massively cut social programs for the elderly, poor and disabled.

If Congress fails to raise the borrowing limit of the federal government by August 2, the date when the U.S. will reach the limit of its borrowing abilities, it will likely begin defaulting on its loans.

As Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, explains the looming economic catastrophe:

“If you don’t send out Social Security checks, I would hate to think about the credit meeting at S&P and Moody’s the next morning.

“If you’re not paying millions and millions and millions of people that range in age from 65 on up, money you promised them, you’re not a AAA,” said Buffett.

A triple-A credit rating is the highest possible rating that can be received.

And while Republicans demand that the disadvantaged tighten their belts, they reject any raising of taxes on their foremost constituency–the wealthiest 1%.

To raise taxes on the wealthy, they insist, would be a “jobs-killer.”  It would “discourage” corporations from creating tens of thousands of jobs that their CEOs “want” to create.

But suddenly–like Crassus–at the eleventh hour, Republicans seem to be offering a “solution.”

According to a July 23 story in the Huffington Post:

“Debt ceiling negotiators think they’ve hit on a solution to address the debt ceiling impasse and the public’s unwillingness to let go of benefits such as Medicare and Social Security that have been earned over a lifetime of work: Create a new Congress.

“This ‘Super Congress,’ composed of members of both chambers and both parties, isn’t mentioned anywhere in the Constitution, but would be granted extraordinary new powers.”

And–again like Crassus–the price for “salvation” would be dictatorship–arming Republicans with the authority to force their radical social and economic agendas on the poor and middle-class.

The United States as we know it may soon cease to exist.

BARGAINING WITH BULLIES – PART SIX (END)

In History, Politics, Social commentary on July 19, 2011 at 11:44 am

One man with courage makes a majority.
–Andrew Jackson

With the United States teetering on the brink of national bankruptcy, President Barack Obama must look to the past for a solution.It lies in what is arguably the greatest–and most dangerous–moment of the administration of President John F. Kennedy.

Addressing the Nation on October 22, 1962, Kennedy shocked his fellow citizens by revealing that the Soviet Union had installed offensive nuclear missiles in Cuba.

After outlining a series of steps he had taken to end the crisis, Kennedy sought to reassure and inspire his audience. His words are worth remembering today:

“The path we have chosen for the present is full of hazards, as all paths are, but it is the one most consistent with our character and courage as a nation and our commitments around the world.

“The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender or submission.”

President Obama needs to send that message to the extortionists of the Republican Party. Like President Kennedy, he should schedule a prime-time address to the Nation. Among the truths he should bluntly reveal:

  • Republicans have adopted the same my-way-or-else “negotiating” stance as Adolf Hitler.
  • Like the Nazis, they are determined to gain absolute power–or destroy the Nation they claim to love.
  • They raised the debt ceiling seven times during the eight-year Presidency of George W. Bush.
  • But now that a Democrat holds the White House, they are, as Warren Buffett recently warned, “trying to use the incentive that we’re going to blow your brains out, America, in terms of your debt worthiness over time.”
  • Seniors, in particular, should fear Republicans—who opposed the creation of Social Security in 1935 and have longed for decades to destroy it.
  • Despite Republican lies, we cannot revitalize the economy by slashing taxes on the wealthy and on cash-hoarding corporations while cutting benefits for millions of average Americans.
  • We will need both tax increases and sensible entitlement cuts to regain our economic strength.
  • Contrary to Republican lies, we cannot starve our way to economic growth.

Finally, President Obama should end his speech by directly calling for the active support of his fellow Americans. Something like this:

“My fellow Americans, I have taken an oath to ‘preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.’

“But I cannot do this on my own. As citizens of a Republic, each of us carries that burden. We must each do our part to protect the land and the liberties we love.

“Tonight, I’m asking for your help. We stand on the edge of economic disaster.

“Therefore, I am asking each of you to stand up for America tonight–by demanding the recall of the entire membership of the Republican Party.

“As President John F. Kennedy said:

‘In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course. Since this country was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty.’

“This is the moment when each of us must decide–whether we will survive as a Republic, or allow ruthless political fanatics to destroy what has lasted and thrived for more than 200 years.”

President Obama has taken forceful action against America’s foreign enemies—most notably Osama bin Laden. If the Nation is to survive, he must now act just as forcefully against America’s domestic enemies.

In doing so, he may find history repeating itself. Joachim C. Fest, author of Hitler (l973), writes of the surprise that awaited Allied soldiers occupying Nazi Germany in 1945:

“Almost without transition, virtually from one moment to the next, Nazism vanished after the death of Hitler and the surrender….

“Hitler’s propaganda specialists had talked constantly of invincible Alpine redoubts, nests of resistance, and swelling werewolf units, and had predicted a war beyond the war. But there was no sign of this.

“Once again it became plain that National Socialism, like Fascism in general, was dependent to the core on superior force, arrogance, triumph, and by its nature had no resources in the moment of defeat.”

With luck, the same will prove true for the extortionists and blackmailers of the Republican Party.

BARGAINING WITH BULLIES – PART FIVE (OF SIX)

In History, Politics, Social commentary on July 14, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Republicans are refusing to raise the debt ceiling unless Democrats agree to massively cut social programs for the elderly, poor and disabled.

By doing so, Republicans have adopted the homicidal mindset that destroyed the Vietnamese town of Bến Tre on February 7, 1968.

Referring to the bombing and shelling of the Vietcong-occupied town–regardless of civilian casualties–an American officer said: “‘It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.”

If Congress fails to raise the borrowing limit of the federal government by August 2, the date when the U.S. will reach the limit of its borrowing abilities, it will likely begin defaulting on its loans.

This will reduce the world’s most powerful nation to the status–and credibility–of a deadbeat.

Perhaps not since 11 Southern states seceded from the Union in 1860-61, leading directly to the Civil War, has this Nation faced so great a threat to its survival.

To counter it, President Barack Obama must recognize that trying to appease tyrants brings only further demands for concessions.

British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain learned this lesson to his undying infamy in 1938-39. By agreeing at Munich to let Nazi Germany occupy the “Sudetenland” of  Czechoslovakia, he hoped to satisfy Adolf Hitler’s insatiable demands.

Winston Churchill knew better, predicting: “Britain and France had to choose between war and dishonor. They chose dishonor. They will have war.”

Similarly, Republicans have repeatedly threatened to shut down the government unless their constantly escalating demands were met.

In November, 1995, Newt Gingrich, then Speaker of the House of Representatives, carried out his threat.  Gingrich unwisely admitted that he did so because President Bill Clinton had put him in the back of Air Force One during a recent trip to Israel.

The shutdown proved a disaster for Republicans.  Clinton was handily re-elected in 1996 and Gingrich suddenly resigned from Congress in 1998.

(A major reason for his departure: The then-twice-married Speaker feared that reporters had learned–or were about to learn–of his latest extramarital affair.

(He had viciously attacked President Bill Clinton for his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.  As a self-claimed embodiment of “family values,” Gingrich couldn’t afford the leak of such damning revelations.)

Still, the Republicans continued their policy of my-way-or-else.  In April, 2011, the United States government almost shut down over Republican demands about subsidized pap smears.

During a late-night White House meeting with President Obama and key Congressional leaders, Republican House Speaker John Boehner made this threat: His conference would not approve funding for the government if any money were allowed to flow to Planned Parenthood through Title X legislation.

Facing an April 8 deadline, negotiators worked day and night to strike a compromise–and finally reached one.

Three months later–on July 9–Republicans again threatened the Nation with financial ruin and international disgrace unless their demands were met.

President Obama had offered to make historic cuts in the federal government and the social safety net–on which millions of Americans depend for their most basic needs.

But House Speaker John Boehner rejected that offer.  He could not agree to the tax increases that Democrats wanted to impose on the wealthiest 1% as part of the bargain.

As the calendar moved ever closer to the fateful date of August 2, Republican leaders continued to insist:  Any deal that includes taxes “can’t pass the House.”

One senior Republican said talks would go right up to–and maybe beyond–the brink of default.

“I think we’ll be here in August,” said Republican Representative Pete Sessions, of Texas.  “We are not going to leave town until a proper deal gets done.”

President Obama had previously insisted on extending the debt ceiling through 2012. But  in mid-July, he simply asked congressional leaders to review three options with their members:

  1. The “Grand Bargain” choice—favored by Obama–would cut deficits by about $4 trillion, including spending cuts and new tax revenues.
  2. A medium-range plan would aim to reduce the deficit by about $2 trillion.
  3. The smallest option would cut between $1 trillion and $1.5 trillion, without increased tax revenue or any Medicare and Medicaid cuts.

And the Republican response?

Said Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee: “Quite frankly, [Republican] members of Congress are getting tired of what the president won’t do and what the president wants.”

Adolf Hitler couldn’t have described his “negotiating” style any more honestly.

With the United States teetering on the brink of national bankruptcy, President Obama must look to the past for a solution.

It lies in what is arguably the greatest–and most dangerous–moment of the administration of President John F. Kennedy.

BARGAINING WITH BULLIES – PART FOUR (OF SIX)

In History, Politics, Social commentary on July 13, 2011 at 7:53 pm

Republicans are refusing to raise the debt ceiling unless Democrats agree to massively cut social programs for the elderly, poor and disabled.

In doing so, they have adopted the my-way-or-else “negotiating” style of Adolf Hitler.

If Congress fails to raise the borrowing limit of the federal government by August 2, the date when the U.S. will reach the limit of its borrowing abilities, it will likely begin defaulting on its loans.

As Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, explains the looming economic catastrophe:

“If you don’t send out Social Security checks, I would hate to think about the credit meeting at S&P and Moody’s the next morning.

“If you’re not paying millions and millions and millions of people that range in age from 65 on up, money you promised them, you’re not a AAA,” said Buffett.

A triple-A credit rating is the highest possible rating that can be received.

And while Republicans demand that the disadvantaged tighten their belts, they reject any raising of taxes on their foremost constituency–the wealthiest 1%.

To raise taxes on the wealthy, they insist, would be a “jobs-killer.”  It would “discourage” corporations from creating tens of thousands of jobs that their CEOs “want” to create.

Lost in this crisis is a startling truth revealed on the January 7, 2010, broadcast of ABC’s “World News Tonight”:

While 25.7 million Americans were desperately searching for work, U.S. corporations reported their most profitable fourth quarter in 19 years–while they sat on nearly $2 trillion in cash.

In short:  Giving even greater tax breaks to mega-corporations has not persuaded them to stop “outsourcing” jobs. Nor has it convinced them to start hiring.

So while hugely overpaid CEOs squander corporate wealth on themselves, millions of Americans can’t afford medical care or must depend on charity to feed their families.

Further proof of the folly of “trickle-down” economics came on June 8.

In its cover-story on “What U.S. Economic Recovery?  Five Destructive Myths,” Time magazine warned that profit-seeking corporations can’t be relied on to “make it all better.”

Wrote Rana Foroohar, Time‘s assistant managing editor in charge of economics and business:

“There is a fundamental disconnect between the fortunes of American companies, which are doing quite well, and American workers, most of whom are earning a lower hourly wage now than they did during the recession.

“The thing is, companies make plenty of money; they just don’t spend it on workers here.

“There may be $2 trillion sitting on the balance sheets of American corporations globally, but firms show no signs of wanting to spend it in order to hire workers at home.”

Yet there is also a disconnect between the truth of this situation and the willingness of Americans to face up to that truth.

The reason:

“The Republicans have pulled off a major (some would say cynical) miracle,” writes Foroohar.

They have convinced “the majority of Americans that the way to jump-start the economy is to slash taxes on the wealthy and on cash-hoarding corporations while cutting benefits for millions of Americans.

“It’s fun-house math that can’t work.  We’ll need both tax increases and sensible entitlement cuts to get back on track.

“Yet surveys show 50% of Americans think that not raising the debt ceiling is a good idea — that you can somehow starve your way to economic growth.”

How have Republicans achieved this?  By adopting the principles of propaganda laid down by no less an authority on lying than Adolf Hitler:

According to Mein Kampf-–”My Struggle”–-Hitler’s autobiography and political treatise:

  1. The great majority of a nation is ruled by sentiment rather than by sober reasoning.
  2. This sentiment, however, is not complex, but simple and consistent. It is not highly differentiated, but has only the negative and positive notions of love and hatred, right and wrong, truth and falsehood.
  3. Propaganda must not investigate the truth objectively and must present only that aspect of the truth which is favorable to its own side.
  4. The receptive powers of the masses are very restricted, and their understanding is feeble. On the other hand, they quickly forget.
  5. All effective propaganda must be confined to a few bare essentials and those must be expressed as far as possible in stereotyped formulas.
  6. These slogans should be persistently repeated until the very last individual has come to grasp the idea that has been put forward.

Following these principles, Republicans have proved hugely successful at persuading millions that truth is whatever their party claims it to be at any given moment.

For their disciples, the slogans penned by George Orwell for 1984, his then-futuristic novel about an all-powerful dictatorship,  have become reality:

WAR IS PEACE

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY

IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

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