Saturday, December 31, 2016

Thoughts of 2016 and 2017 addressed to all my Miami Beach Friends, along with good wishes for the New Year.




I think that God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability.

Oscar Wilde


Somehow, the United States has elected a psychologically deranged, tweeter as its president, a man who cavalierly dismisses the Russian hacking of our election as something that should cause us to "get on with our lives."  This echoes the voice of Antonin Scalia, who having installed W. as president, saying "get over it."

Both of our major political parties have failed us.   The Electoral College has failed us. For the 5th time, electing a president who has won a minority of the popular vote and by a stupefying margin of almost 3 million votes, this victor claiming he would have won anyway, had he campaigned differently, by emphasizing that New York and California would have gone his way.  This is an astonishing statement, given that he lost by almost 75% of the vote in New York and California.

Now an antiquated electoral system is doing irreparable damage to our country, where a few close states make the difference and the will of the majority of the country is subverted.  What is democratic about this slavery-protecting 19th century system?   Republicans do not want to change it because the more disenfranchised progressives, the better.

Here in Miami Beach, we are still saddled with an ethically challenged Mayor, who has gubernatorial aspirations.   Some locals feel that he should run and if he wins, we will be rid of him.  He cannot be any worse than Rick Scott who was never prosecuted for his Medicare fraud shenanigans, they say.

Sorry, fellow progressives.  President Obama, a dignified, honest, deep thinker, is responsible for much of the Syrian tragedy.  By refusing to engage no-fly zones, he has contributed mightily to the destabilization of the EU, and surrendered US influence in the Middle East to the Russians and the Iranians.  The countless lives that could have been saved, European paranoia and nativism minimized, and Pax Americana maximized.   Even conceding that we were war weary as a nation, history has taught us that American isolationism has led to European catastrophe two times in the last century.   The global forces currently aligning in economics, technology and markets, will not bring the coal miners, auto workers, and other outmoded jobs back, despite Trump's empty promises.

2017 threatens to bring more warfare in the Middle East, and Obama's refusal to back Israel is an unprecedented fit of pique against Benjamin Netanyahu and his right wing coalition, many of whom would round all the Arabs up in trucks and transfer them out of the territories to  Jordan ( their country before the 1967 war),  and claim Israel now runs to the Jordan river.   Of course this will not happen, but a one state solution as Netanyahu wants could mean the demographic demise of the Jewish state.

On the one hand, a state based upon a religion is inherently antipathetic to those in other religions (as shown in Iran) and as mentioned by Thomas Jefferson who said that the preachers must be kept away from the wheels of government. But,  on the other hand, Jews having been a persecuted minority for most of their past, was given a state in 1948 and Arabs have been fulminating ever since, instead of providing an economic agenda for their people.  Nevertheless, Israel could devolve into a secular democracy if all the West Bank Arabs are incorporated into its fabric. After all, that was not so bad for the United States.  It might be the inevitable conclusion to a one state solution.   This would dismay many Jews, but they may have no choice.

Now we have a President coming on board who understands nothing about foreign policy, has no compassion for anyone but himself, and butters up Vladimir Putin, a murderous, kleptocratic, KGB fascist, who has billions hidden worldwide through his cronies and is presiding over a collapsing Russian economy in need of malign distractions to keep its constituency in check.  Those distractions might mean threats to the Baltic republics or even invasion.   Trump needs to protect these Nato members no matter how little they pay up.  Does he know that?

Will Trump be able to stand up to Putin?  Maybe.   Putin is a Russian chess player, not a job seeker on the Celebrity Apprentice. Another cold war could be on the way.   Trump now is basking in the Putin charm, but a few missteps by Vladimir might have Trump tweeting a different tune.  Skin so thin, and ego so fragile, who knows?  General Mike Flynn ( Dr. Strangelove) is the national security adviser. 
He sees conspiracy theories everywhere, and might soon be out of a job.  Trump sure knows how to say, "you're fired."

Am I suicidal about this election?  Do I think the world is coming to an end?  Do I think my Miami Beach home will be inundated soon?  Do I like the present mayor?  Am I happy Trump will be President?  The answers are no to all.

But, let us wish our new President well despite his obvious shallowness and deep character flaws and hope that he will not be impeached, leaving us with, Heaven forbid, Mike Pence who believes that evolution did not occur and that men walked the earth with dinosaurs.





Sunday, December 18, 2016

President Obama's evening with Vlad and the Donald

Somewhere secret


OBAMA:     Listen Vlad, I do not appreciate your hacking into the DNC headquarters and fooling the FBI into releasing a report about Hillary’s emails.   The next time you do this I will tell the Donald that you have looked into his eyes and seen a Capitalist pig and a lying one at that.

VLADY:    And I will tell Donald that you are trying to use Nato to keep me from restoring the USSR.     His casinos like gambling Russians, and I have assured him that if he plays along by giving me some vig, he will grow his measly $3.5 billion in net worth to approximate mine which is $85 billion,  I mean I am almost as rich as Bill Gates and Carlos Slim put together.  Plus, I will show him how to successfully hide it all from the nosy journalists, several of whom I have had to dump in the Volga.  So do not think that you left such a good legacy.   You had the chance to send in the Marines when I annexed Crimea, but you did not think it was worth it.   And you did not follow that witch Hillary's advice to create a no fly zone in Syria. Of course we hacked your election.  Wait until you see what I have in store for the Baltic Republics.  They are part of the USSR.

For example, I did a real smart deal nationalizing Yukos oil and kicking that presumptuous oligarch, Kordokovsky out of the country and "nationalizing" his wealth.   He even thinks he will be fed polonium in his tea, just like I fed Litvinenko who died a miserable death in a London hospital after my agents poisoned him.   No one read about it in the Russian press, fortunately.  He never wanted to do business with me and now sits in London, calling me a crook.  Some nerve.   I am working on this problem with some of my friends at the old KGB.  Any fool would realize that controlling the information gives me an 85% approval rating among the Soviet people. 

But I know that Donald does not drink Vodka or any liquor for that matter.  But I do. And wasn't it your Amerikansi comedian WC Fields who said, if you drink before you are forty you are crazy and if you do not drink after 40 you are twice as crazy?    Donald was my Manchurian candidate.  And now Rex Tillerson at the State Department?   My business partner?  My medal friendship winner? What a feat.  I am so manly and smartski.


TRUMP:  Hey guys, can I get into this conversation?

VLADY:  Of course you can.  What ideas do you have to deal with US-Soviet (oops Russian) relations?

TRUMP: Well I am going to build a beautiful wall on the Mexican border to keep the Soviet Mexican agents  out of Arizona and New Mexico.  And, by the way Vlady, you did an amazing job in Syria, dropping barrel bombs on school children and hospitals.  You are a strong leader.   And President Obama, you stood by while Vlad took care of those rebels, destroying Aleppo and killing thousands, causing migrations to Turkey and Europe.   Both of you have done an incredible job in destabilizing the EU. Even that German bitch Merkel is paying the price.  But you have to be careful with the Germans.  If they get angry enough, you could have another Stalingrad.     But I have a secret plan.  Not even I know how it works yet.  I am leaving that to Mike Pence, who is planning a trip to Syria.  He believes that all the problems there are caused by the failure of the Muslims to accept Jesus.

I am going to change all that with Trump hotels and casinos all over Eastern Europe to employ the Syrian refugees.  I have already planned the new Trump Istanbul, to be built with tax credits to me because I might have to sell some of my holdings to prevent the appearance of a conflict of interest.  I plan to create jobs for West Virgina coal miners by shipping them to Turkey to build Trump casinos and hotels.  And it will save money for Medicare by preventing black lung disease.

By the way the new commissioner of  Internal Revenue says he will be done with my routine audit after I have run for my second term in 2020 and then I can release my tax returns.  Vlad  wants to see them before he goes into business with me, so I may have to show my hand earlier.

And Rick Perry?  The guy, who I said needed an IQ test to be President, will do a fine job at the Department of Energy.   I picked him because he was not low Energy Bush and could not remember it when he had a brain fart and did not know which government department he wanted to abolish.  Perfect choice, believe me.

General Mike Flynn, my new national conspiracy theory advisor tells me that there is a conspiracy here in the US and to use Dr. Ben Carson, the new head of Housing and Urban Development who has a direct line to stop Lucifer from ripping  unborn babies from the womb in government housing developments.


We will fix all of that soon.  But I cannot tell you both how.  It's a secret. 


Thursday, December 1, 2016

DONALD TRUMP'S INAUGURAL ADDRESS


Friends, Americans, Countrymen, and Trumpsters:

The evil that men do lives after them; the good is 'oft interred with their bones.
I come to praise Hillary, although I buried her at the polls.   Even though she got 2.5million more popular votes, I stand before you as the winner of this election, thanks to my newly evolved position on how it protects the yokels in fly over country.  I am a winner!

Despite the failing New York Time's efforts to defeat me and the fact that I did not receive the endorsement of any other major American newspaper, I stand before you as a testament to the stupidity of the electorate.   After all, wasn't it PT Barnum who said that "there is a sucker born every minute?" or H.L. Mencken who said that "no one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public?"

All this business of the popular vote?  I mean if I had campaigned in California and New York, I would have persuaded all those Hollywood types and Eastern elitist liberals to vote for me, so I would have campaigned differently and won anyway.  All this because I am a man of the people.  My humble abode in Trump Tower proves that, and you can be sure I will never release my tax returns now.  And so what if Tiffany customers cannot get into the store and Fifth Avenue is now blocked.  But we have a rear entrance so Melania can buy.  New Yorkers did not vote for me anyway.  What traitors.

Now, I am going to select a junta of generals to run our foreign policy, even though I said I know more than they do.    I brought Mitt Romney around to show how magnanimous I am and we had a great meal at that workman's establishment restaurant Jean Georges,  to show how we eat just like the people.  Neither Mitt nor I drink so we saved some money.  I think it is at taxpayer expense, anyway, picking the cabinet, don't you?

Frankly, I think David Petraeus would make the best Secretary of State.  After all he engineered the surge and was first in his class at West Point, even though he gave out national security secrets and pled his felony down to a misdemeanor, because he was grabbing some hot p***y.  He paid his debt to society and deserves a second chance, unlike crooked Hillary who abused her email server and killed everyone in Benghazi.

And, of course, I picked Mike Pence as VP to ensure that I would not be impeached.  He has a pea-sized brain, believing that people walked the earth with dinosaurs and evolution is just a "theory."   After all, I descended from an orange Orangutan, proving evolution is real.  Mike also thinks Newton's theory of gravity is unproven.  If he becomes president, watch out.


And all those pundits who said I have no economic plan?  Of course I do.  Tax cuts for corporations, and sinking public schools through Betsy DiVos who never saw a public school she liked.  After all she rose through the ranks of that great institution, the Amway Ponzi scheme, eminently qualifying her for office.

And my new Treasury Secretary? Steven Mnuchin What a gem. The Wall Street Journal (Fox News) loves him.

His qualification for the job is of the working class--a hedge fund operator making millions and a trader at Goldman Sachs as well as a Hollywood financier.  He has a great feel for the coal miner or the auto assembly worker. 

And then we have Wilbur Ross a billionaire investor in distressed assets, foreclosing on people and throwing them out of their homes.   But he has assured me that his perspective has evolved, as has mine.
We will have a great winning team to greaten America.


I can't wait to bomb the shit out of Iran and ISIS, scotch the Iran deal and make America great again.  Putin and the Iranians are overjoyed on the prospect that we are aligning ourselves with that great humanitarian Bashar Assad who is restoring order to his county by dropping barrel bombs on children and civilians.  And Putin does deserve to increase his sphere of influence in eastern Europe.  Just like the good old days.


So now, my fellow Americans, with malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive to bind up the nations wounds (if Melania can plagarize, so can I).


God Bless the Trump organization and the United States of America.



Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Twenty-Eighth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.



Election of the President and Vice President of the United States Elections; Term Limits for Congress


1. Election of the President and the Vice President of the United States shall be by the direct popular vote of the eligible voters in the various states of the Union.   Said votes shall be counted locally in the states and then transmitted to a central location where they shall be tallied again.
2. The Electoral College shall be abolished and no longer utilized for the election of the President and Vice President of the United States.
3. Election campaigns shall be limited to 60 days and publicly financed with no individual contributions in excess of $2,500.  A National primary election shall be effectuated, with all candidates on the ballot.
In the event that no candidate achieves a majority of the vote, there shall be a run-off election to determine those two or three candidates with the largest plurality of votes and they shall be the candidates in the general election.
4. Corporations, by the terms of this amendment are not people and shall be limited to the same level of contribution as set forth above for natural persons.
5.  United States Senators shall not serve more than two terms, or 12 years
Members of the House of Representatives shall serve no longer than 3 terms or 12 years.
This amendment shall become effective 6 years after passage by the Congress and ratification by the states.
6.  Congress shall have the power to enforce this amendment by appropriate legislation.





Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Donald's Concession Speech

THE DONALD'S CONCESSION SPEECH


November 9, 2016

Good evening. 

First of all, I want to congratulate Hillary for winning the Presidency.
But I won the election.  I am a WINNER, not a loser and here is why:  I want all those blockheads who supported me not to make any trouble or claim that the election was rigged.  It was designed by me to elect Hillary.  I mean, wake up people.   Do you think that some of the things I have said were not provocative enough to turn people off, especially women, who are of a lower mentality than men?  They just do not have the stamina to figure out what I was doing.

I want everyone to know that I am really a Democrat.  I was never a Republican.
I am an eastern elitist, believe me.  Do you think that I live in a gold plated  Trump tower apartment and have a gold plated jet because I like people who live in Des Moines or St Louis?   They are suckers.  Losers.  Out of touch with how to get ahead.   Most of these yokels would vote for me if I shot Paul Ryan.  I am a patriot, believe me.   I even display big American flags in my buildings right next to the TRUMP flag.  I want everyone to know that there will be a Hillary victory party in all the Trump buildings not in foreclosure tonight to celebrate what I and I alone have accomplished.  No one could have pulled this off except me, believe me.  I won the whole thing. What a winner I am.  If I invited Vladimir Putin, he would come.  He loves me, just like all my other followers.  Vlad told me what a winner I am.

I entered this race and demolished the 16 pinhead candidates who had the nerve to run against me in the primaries.   They tried to be politically correct in selling their agenda for the wealthy.  The base saw through them and embraced me.  All those things I said about low energy Jeb and Little Marco were true.  LOSERS! and John Kasich?  He is phonier than a three-dollar bill.  And how about Chris Christie who will soon go to jail, standing behind me like my puppet?  He looked like an overfed beagle.  The rest of them were a bunch of religious nut cases who want to get inside women's vaginas, but not successfully as I have.  Who cares about abortion?   I am pro choice.  Just like my hot daughter Ivanka, whom I never dated, believe me.

I ran to show how bankrupt the GOP is and, believe me, I know about bankruptcies. The country had to put up with George W Bush, who invited the Iranians to take over the Middle East.  And Condoleezza Rice?  The worst secretary of state, much worse than Hillary, who is now my friend.  Well Condi might have gotten into Augusta National, but never Trump National, get it?  Well maybe now that I have revealed my true feelings of liberalism.  I live in New York City, come on.  After all she did go to college.  And I heard she's a pretty good golfer.  I heard she plays a pretty mean piano. lots of rhythm.

And how about my running mate Mike Pence, who says he is a Christian before he is a Republican and an American?   He needs to get a hot date.  Spends too much time in church.  And what about those spineless losers Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell twisting themselves into pretzels when I revealed all that stuff about my sexual exploits.  Sure, I groped a few women, but what's the difference?  Bill Clinton was a fat kid from Arkansas who became President so he could get
p***y.  That is the whole point of being President, isn't it? I gave a lot of money to Bill and when I release my tax returns tomorrow, it will show that.  I could have built the wall with my own funds, but every one knows that is dumb.  Better to do it with OMP.

So do not worry, Hillary, I am now on your side again.  You are a real fighter. You do not give up and I respect that.   But you are only President-elect, because I paved the way.  I am the real winner.

I made myself into a Trojan (forgive the expression, I do not use Trojans) horse to show how stupid the American public is.   None of them read the failing New York Times, the New Yorker or the Washington Post.   They can hardly read at all.  I know all this because I did well at Wharton where I learned to play everyone for a sucker.  And tuition was not even that high then.  It increased my attention span to a full 30 seconds.    And believe me, I am not looking for a cabinet position although I would make a great Secretary of the Treasury negotiating 10c on the dollar for government bond obligations.  And all those freeloading NATO partners.  I never intended to make them pay up for defense.  I get a lot of guests in my hotels from those countries.

So now it is time to pull together as Americans, respect the fact that I uncloaked the Republican fraud, and stand behind our new President.  I am a  patriot, believe me.  Even though I will not be President, my face should be on the wall on the Rio Grande, just like Mt Rushmore.  I want to talk to Hillary about that.  

So my fellow Americans,   God bless America. Let's get together behind Hillary,  and come back to my casinos, my hotels and my golf courses.  Business has fallen off a bit and I might have to declare another bankruptcy or even worse, lose my tax write offs.

We have only one President and she is all of our President., but I am responsible for her election.  I won.

I was the one who rigged it all.






Friday, September 30, 2016

Insanity



You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you.
Eric Hoffer 1902-1983



This Presidential election cycle begs the question of whether the American public has become dumber or, more charitably, more cynical about elected officials, or even how we select our leaders.

On the one hand, the democrats have fielded a whip smart woman, perhaps too smart, a veteran of many years of public service, the wife of a former President, a former US Senator, a Secretary of State with impeccable academic credentials, a speedy and learned individual who invites vitriol from her opponents, adulation from her supporters, and intense scrutiny from a 24 hour unrelenting news cycle, but with a penchant for secrecy.    Some of our past Presidents had secrets also, including some of the great ones.  Franklin Roosevelt, who kept his severe health problems and paralysis under wraps and later on during the final years of World War II his skyrocketing blood pressure and heart failure, ultimately to kill him.  JFK kept his Addison's disease secret as well as his addiction to painkillers and women.   They and many other Presidents did not have to deal with CNN and FOX News and Matt Drudge. On the other hand, Donald Trump has to deal with a retinue of bloodhounds and his faults have become readily apparent to all who choose to see him for what he is.  The facts are out there for Hillary also.

In 1861, the newly elected Abraham Lincoln snuck into Washington in a disguise, and changed trains in Baltimore fearing that angry southern sympathizers would assassinate him.   In the years leading up to his election, Senators and Congressmen battled each other in the capitol, beating each other on the head with canes or whatever else was handy over the issue of whether states should be admitted to the Union free or slave. Lincoln himself bore ideas about the racial inferiority of black men, and even supported their migrating to a colony in Africa.  The essential point at the time was not slavery, but the balance of new states entering the Union as free or slave.  The dichotomy, if you will, of two clashing economies and more importantly, two different cultures. One agrarian and one industrial.  The two were incompatible.  We can draw some parallels from this lesson of history.  Now America is faced with four other cultures: the relevantly educated and the unskilled, the religious and the increasingly secular.   The theory that if one is born into great wealth,  they will remain in this caste system.  Those who wish to protect the status quo are delusional.   People who are disabused of the notion that they can succeed when they cannot without more education, more relevant skills by voting for a quack will find no answer.   Those who fight inclusiveness in our society of Twitter, Facebook and an incessant news cycle are tilting at windmills, and not the ones that are generating power.  The religious are confronted with supporting a man with no religious values because they perceive Hillary as abortionist lying she-devil.  The religious right is seeing their society disintegrate before them, lost to a secular tidal wave.

Polarization is rife.

150 years ago, Lincoln had engaged in a series of debates with Stephen A. Douglas over slavery and the composition of the expanding Union, which had just stolen mucho land from the Mexicans (who else?). This debate was settled by an enormous bloodletting and 700,000 dead, mangled and maimed. No other war in our history was so costly in blood and treasure.  No other war cast brother against brother, family against family.   Lincoln, in his speech at Cooper Union, before his election, had emphasized that the nation could not permanently endure half slave and half free.  Southerners knew where he stood.  The Lincoln-Douglas debates settled that ending in civil war.

History repeats itself. Now our culture war roils between the rich and the increasingly disappearing middle class.  Between the coasts and the heartland.  Between the educated and the not.  Between a new melange of white, colored, brown, and yellow. Between angry white religious fundamentalists and a country which virtually overnight embraced gay marriage and LGBT rights.   Things are happening very fast, perhaps too much so.  Cultures need time to adjust.

The middle class is the lifeblood of America.  The class that built the great factories that produced 303,000  airplanes between 1939 and 1945 a  to win the war.  The class that once enjoyed a car, a home and the implied promise of the benefit of hard work paying off with the thought that its children would have a better life if it worked hard and obeyed the rules seems a distant cry, a despairing denouement to the American dream.  Is this class inevitably succumbing to the existentially threatening global forces of cheap labor, robotic manufacturing and technology?  Some think not, that people can be retrained to do more skilled work; some think that we can restore our economy to where it was 50 years ago, or at least tell people it can to get elected.  Others think that we can resolve the deep seated education deficit of children who cannot read, cannot do math, and certainly cannot do computer coding.  Poor people watch television and think that the life on reality tv will be theirs for the taking.


Trump says that coal miners are going to get their jobs back.   They will not.   Trump says that increased tariffs on imported goods will create new jobs in America.  Respected economists think otherwise.  They think that Trump's plans will throw our nation into a new recession, making goods more expensive to buy and making it harder for the poor to survive.Trump's prevarications and salesmanship, reminiscent of PT Barnum, appeals to a large segment of American voters. He stands outside his carnival tent beckoning people to come in with a disingenuous siren call.  His character is well demonstrated by his behavior.

On the other hand, sometimes character is not the sine qua non of a politician. Many of such individuals who have succeeded for a little while, but then have fallen victim to their own hubris.   Some of them have been Presidents of the United States.  Richard Nixon, for example.  Nixon perverted the constitution, created an enemies list, broke into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee, covered it all up and lied about it.  He ultimately fell because of his own paranoia.   He secretly taped oval office conversations and they incriminated him.   Lyndon Johnson did as well.  But Nixon opened the door to China and Johnson passed monumental civil rights legislation, Medicare and transformed the lives of millions of Americans.   Lyndon was crass also, he did not have the patrician elegance of FDR or Jack Kennedy, but he sure knew how to work with congress.

Throughout the 1930s, during the great depression, in the years leading up to World War II, America firsters fought against immigrants and other perceived threats from abroad.  People lined up at soup kitchens, pitched tents on the Mall in Washington, and General MacArthur brought in troops to evict them.   These were far from pleasant times.   Trump claims that our country has never been in worse shape.  Coal miners will get their jobs back and a wall will keep rapist Mexicans away from our women, believe me.  The nation is not in as terrible shape as he says.  We have been through much worse.   Could the Republic survive a Trump Presidency?  Probably.   But we could also survive bubonic plague.  Why bother?

Our history has played host to other demagogues--Huey Long, Father Coughlin, George Wallace, among others. who preyed on fears and the psychology of victimhood.    They were going to cure everything and no one else could.  Wallace claimed that the south would never desegregate.  Passions inflamed by these predators harmed our country by invoking a primitive tribalism that should have been rejected long ago, but has now been reawakened by Donald Trump.  He even appeals to evangelicals, who are in a real dilemma.   Vote for the evil abortion supporting Hillary, or Donald Trump despite his three wives, misogyny and his own serial infidelity.  He has sent out his surrogates. Chris Christie, the GW bridge facilitator, Newt Gingrich, married thrice, and who informed one of his wives, suffering from cancer that he was leaving her while she was in her hospital bed.  And let's not forget Rudy Gulliani, who called a press conference to inform the public that he was getting divorced without even telling his wife, Donna Hanover.   These surrogates now threaten to expose Hillary to the slings and arrows of Bill's unfaithfulness.   Good luck with that strategy.

The first Presidential debate matched an experienced, polished politician against an unprepared vulgarian. Surprisingly, Americans, judging from the polls, are not dramatically changing as a result of Hillary Clinton's superior performance.   People are prognosticating that Trump will be better prepared for the next debate.   According to Tony Schwartz who ghostwrote "The Art of the Deal," Trump has an attention span  of 30 seconds, so his next performance, if that be true, will be no better than the last.  Will people still be fooled by his bombast? Will the American voter overlook Hillary's perceived untruthfulness and secrecy be convinced that she is the lesser of two evils?  Or will they understand that her length of time in the public eye lends itself to exaggeration of her flaws.  Because no one inhabits that space of perfection, (except Donald).

How can we elect a man who wants to "renegotiate the national debt,"  (as though it were a shopping mall)  have the Mexicans pay for his wall,  encourage nuclear proliferation, cozy up to Vladimir Putin, not release his tax returns, evince secret plans on how he will defeat ISIS, deport 11 million immigrants, start a trade war with China, blow Iranian ships out of the water, call our military a "disaster," punish women who want an abortion, disband a health care program that now has 30 million signed up, call women pigs and slobs, fat-shame a former Miss Universe contestant, have a history of  discriminating against African Americans and other minorities, know nothing about economic policy or foreign policy, scrapping 70 year old NATO alliances that has kept European peace under an American unbrella if they do not pay more to us, talk about winning as a function of his own ego, stiff his workers and go through serial bankruptcies, and says "that is business," complain about roads and infrastructure, but pay no taxes?  "That makes me smart," he says.  Other endearing items include bullying, coarseness, and even embarrassing his own political party.  Many leading conservatives have abandoned him including George Will, Bill Kristol and Colin Powell.

The question that must be asked is why are his poll numbers so high if he is so clearly unqualified to be President?   Is it because Hillary is perceived as untrustworthy? Is it because we are failing as a nation? Are we in decline?  Is it the dumbing down of the electorate?  Is it the fact that people are uninformed?  Are we suckers for a candidate whose positions are not worth a warm bucket of spit?
Is it that the world is transitioning to a different economy?  Is it the loss of innocence?  What about the disintegration of a respect for intellect? People who run for office are told that they must communicate on a 5th grade level to reach the electorate.  Donald does that very well.  Why do people fear elites?  Elites founded our nation.Why is our discourse sunk so low? 

Most importantly, what are the reasons that gave rise to such an unqualified candidate?  We need to learn the truth.

Disconcertion over these issues is not easy to overcome because it is a reflection of where we are as a society.  Are we less racist?  Are we more tolerant? Have we lost all sense of reason?
Or is it that the public is incurably stupid? 


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Travails of a Permanent American Presidential Campaign


Insanity:  Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
Albert Einstein

August 2016.

Late August in Vermont.   The trees are beginning to show a touch of yellow, very slight, not yet beginning to turn.     Some of the leaves have fallen, still green but barely hinting of the cold, short days to come. The swimming pool, heated to 75 degrees is less than I am used to, but still, refreshing after a walk on verdant mountain trails that meander up and down, their steepness growing each year.

Donald Trump has shed his campaign manager, Paul Manefort, a robotic, dyed-hair martinet, who apparently has failed in his attempt make Donald appeal to the broad center of American voter.  When only 9% of voters has chosen the Republican nominee, there are many more votes that will be counted in the general election. And as discussed below, the Ukrainian-Putin connection having funneled money to Mr. Trump’s ex-consigliere.

Trump, according to Washington Post, has decided to run his campaign on the same basis as he ran his primary campaign and has selected a Breitbart executive Steve Bannon, to be his new campaign manager.  Bannon is noted, according to the Post's EJ Dionne,  having made a laudatory documentary of Sarah Palin, of all people, as a model for anti-establishment politics.  The crux of this strategy is to appeal to the same angry white uneducated segment of the population to create more damage and negativity toward Hillary Clinton.  And, for sure, letting Trump be Trump.

Waxing philosophically about this campaign is difficult because it requires a cynical perspective on the intelligence of the American electorate.

Stage left: Vladimir Putin championing Trump, since he will clearly, if one is to believe him, wreck the NATO alliance, because our allies are not paying "their fair share."   Seventy years of American diplomacy going down like the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City is one of the most dangerous policy proposals ever advanced by any American politician since Jefferson Davis.  As we all know by now ad nauseum , a litany of other proposals, the wall, the Mexicans paying for it, the deportations, the fearmongering, the appeal to tribalism, the ethos contrary to the American promise, etc. etc. etc.

September

Returning to a steamy Miami, paranoia about mosquitos,  we have since learned that Manefort was linked to Ukrainian money, further discrediting Trump's claim that he is less corrupt than Hillary. Trump already owning the field in Washington Post Pinocchios, even with Hillary’s deservedly less than forthcoming reputation, including the email scandal as well as 40 years of being accused of non-existing sins. 

Herein we see the flaw of the 25th amendment.  The President could have easily won a third term.  A scandal free administration, an exemplary President, thoughtful and considered, but hated for his being black by a large segment of the electorate.  A stark reminder of how fragile our democracy is and how susceptible it is to demagoguery.

Even if Hillary wins this bedraggled campaign, one wonders if anything will be settled, unless the Democrats gain control of congress.   Republican obstructionism has prevented many worthwhile Obama initiatives from succeeding.   For example, a constitutional amendment that limits spending in Presidential campaigns would never pass the Republican house, even if the President proposed it.  Already Ted Cruz is gearing up for 2020, sensing a Hillary landslide. 

Hillary has just rolled out her new 757 aircraft in which she can transport the press in the same plane, proclaiming her unmitigated joy in having journalists share her multi-million dollar ride.    Billions spent to elect a president.  Insanity.

And then there are the endless emails, pontificating how Hillary needs help in defeating a person as odious as the Donald.  “Give now to save our democracy,” pleads every other new email.

Why it is necessary for candidates to office at any level money-grub their way along the trail?
There is certainly no guarantee that superior office holders emerge from an unseemly level of servitude created by the reception of such funds.

The system, which now binds Americans to perpetual campaigns anachronistically created by our past has no reason to exist.  Why do we have to start in Iowa?  Why do senators have to neglect their jobs running for office for two years?  Why are there battleground states in a silly electoral college that was originally established in the 18th century to ensure the balance of power among slave and free states?   Why are congressionally gerrymandered districts not against the law?  Why is there not direct popular vote election of the President?  The Federal system of government is not threatened by that.   No one is advocating abolition of the congress.

Our system would not be harmed by a national open primary for President.  One person one vote. Voting across party lines.   Federally funded national debates and television interviews.   A true Oxford Union format debate where each issue is advocated by the candidate, for example, "Resolved: that we should have a carbon tax" or “Resolved that taxes should be raised on incomes above $250,000."  You get the picture.   Then each candidate can expound, as did Lincoln and Douglas.   No stupid gotcha questions such as "why do you treat women like pigs?'  And please CNN, FOX, CBS, NBC, etc.  Shut the f**k up.  Present some news instead of bits of information and reasons for catheter ads.  No young people are watching anyway.

Each candidate would then get to demonstrate his or her full level of knowledge, and not continue to insult the intelligence of the public, by answering prepared sound bites for already anticipated questions. Candidates would then have to stick to the important issues and give the voter enough information to make a decision, including the candidate’s level of knowledge on each subject.

Moreover, television ads should be strictly limited to the issues, if not should be banned despite the first amendment.   A constitutional re-write is in order, governing campaigns, money, debates, advertising and lobbyists. The Citizens United case should be dumped as was Dred Scott.  Both decisions are shameful.

Otherwise we will continue to suffer hamstringed government unable to do anything except have politicians continually run for office.  If America is polarized as much as people say, this guarantees a majority unable to exert its will.   This is a result of the slave/free state dichotomy created at the inception, and not yet negated, through civil war, civil rights movements and other national paroxysms of pain and tumult.

One source suggested, (I forget who) a board of historians to guide policy, so that the lessons of the past are not repeated, and because people forget that repeating the same failed policy is insanity.  


Monday, July 25, 2016

Brexit and the United States Republican Convention fiasco

Demagogue  

A demagogue /ˈdɛməɡɒɡ/ (from Greek dēmagōgos, dēmos ‘the people’ + agōgos ‘leading’) or rabble-rouser is a political leader in a democracy who gains power by appealing to the passions, prejudices, and ignorance of the common people, tending to undermine democratic procedures and the rule of law. 





With the Brexit vote, we see the ugliest aspect of populism and fear grip the country that has given the world and especially the United States, its dearest character of democracy, freedom and language.
The world is in turmoil--uneducated people beginning to understand that their futures lie in great jeopardy because they no longer can compete or succeed in a global market, driven by cheap labor, interconnected information, with hucksters who believe they can empower themselves to even more riches and position preying on the circumstances of the 21st Century unskilled.

Donald Trump is one of these malefactors, determined to undermine the fabric of our tolerant and democratic society through insult, demagoguery and fear, promising to bring back jobs that no longer exist and which are becoming increasingly scarce without the requisite training to succeed. Notable is his disingenuous pledge to bring back jobs to unemployed coal miners, of all things.  This is an unforgiveable exercise in bait and switch.    Coal is as dead as the 20th century, yet Trump exacerbates hopes and dreams of West Virginian coal miners, whose interests would best be served by retraining financed by the government for 21st century skills.

David Cameron, the British prime minister addressed parliament, saying that the will of the people should be respected and implemented.  He clearly miscalculated, ceding his wishes for advantage in the next election. Backfiring on his political ambitions, the vote has insured his demise and the end of his career in politics.   But wait, maybe not.  Maybe this entire fiasco, costing trillions of dollars in market value to American 401ks may not happen.  Maybe there will be a second vote, the people realizing that they have shot themselves in the foot.   This move does not insure the perpetuation of the British hegemonic entity.   Churchill, the greatest devotee of the empire is spinning in his grave.
The 307-year-old union may devolve into tiny England, the Scots and the Irish going their separate ways, considering that remaining in the EU being a more viable alternative than remaining in the UK.
The EU, however may not want them, saying that membership only would be offered to sovereign nations.

Whether the majority was in fear of immigrants, a loss of national sovereignty, meeting requirements of Brussels bureaucrats, or trade issues, the British are in a pickle, mostly of their own making, with the demagoguery of the politicians playing upon it.  Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, among others.  Thoughtless people who only had their own interests in mind.  Remind you of someone here at home?

Let that be a lesson to us every time we listen to Donald Trump, a danger to the Presidency and to American democracy.

The Donald, bolstered by cowardly or self-interested sycophants, think that Trump will make our country great again (not that it was ever not great) by returning to the 1950s.   But even in the 50s, the public was moving toward an internationalist view of American power.  President Eisenhower warned of the military-industrial complex, but we rested on the brink of a nuclear holocaust, were it not for the prudence of John F. Kennedy, a voice of reason and restraint.  And what ever was so great about the 50s, a Madmen world of cigarettes, cancer, subordination of women, segregation, racism, lynching, a cold war, fear of communism and nuclear winter, Strangelovian politicians, Communist witch hunts, anti-Semitism, blacklists, and, I remember, schoolchildren hiding under wooden desks during air raid drills to protect us from being vaporized by an H Bomb.  And don't forget, the nation had just emerged from World War II, and the Korean War.   The good old days?   Not so good.

Believe it or not, things have gotten much better.  Nations do not war against each other, only amorphous thugs and Islamic fundamentalists. North Korea?  Not  mighty Nazi Germany, but bears watching.   Methinks China will rein them in.


The dystopian picture painted by Trump is not the America, as most of our countrymen know it.  Unemployment is below 5%, the stock market has never been higher and the markets exhibit optimism about our future as a nation.  Productivity has never been higher.  There is a greater concentration of wealth at the very top, but that can be cured with a new tax policy and better training to grow the once bigger middle class which is the underpinning of our democracy.  Free college education?  Why not?
Europeans do it.  And spend less than we do.   And they spend less per capita on health care.  And they have more vacations and paid family leave.  Sure they pay higher taxes--but they get something in return, including modern infrastructure, better schools, better food for their children in school, free tuition and no crushing student debt.

Yes, there is lingering racism, conflict between African-Americans and an overly aggressive segment of police, but still, most realize that the police are there to protect us as citizens.  Increased training and empathy needs more work and many good intentioned chiefs of police are working on programs so that cops do not use hair triggers in situations when heightened fear for their own lives is unjustified.

I have never seen a political convention the likes of the RNC last week.   Our country was on the brink of defeat in all areas in which it is engaged, NATO, ISIS, health care, the economy, the absence of a strong leader at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and only Donald can come in, fire everyone and make it better in his first 100 days, including a huge wall on the Rio Grande.  What he does not say is that the wall will keep people from leaving, not coming in, since the net flow is the other way.  But Trump's speech sounded like Batman, the Dark Knight Rising, as one conservative commentator on CNN stated.  We are all doomed unless we elect Trump because as he said, "I am the only one who can fix everything on day one."    Even the wall will be built with Mexican dollars.   So Trump has a bridge to sell you, for sure.

But Donald has no specifics on how he is gong to complete his plans, nothing the voter can understand, anyway,   He is a classic demagogue, resembling Mussolini both in ideas and in facial expression and demeanor.  That upward curling of his lips and upraised head, that inability to change or to apologize.  Fascist is a strong word, so forgive me.

We do not need a strongman president.  We need a president who is able to work with both sides of the gridlocked aisle, run in the senate by the odious Mitch McConnell, and in the house, by trickle down advocate Paul Ryan, offering the same bromides as McConnell, in a more appealing manner.  The problem is that they are the same non-workable solutions as ever.

On the other hand, Hillary has her own problems.  A reputation for untrustworthiness, secrecy, and not releasing her speeches made to Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street firms, undoubtedly for big bucks, not to mention the email "scandal," blown out of proportion by Republican Hillary haters.   She should release them at the same time Donald releases his tax returns.

Many Republican stalwarts I know, detesting the Donald, and hating Hillary refuse to vote for either.
Some conservative columnists such as Bret Stevens of the Wall Street Journal, resentful of the hijacking of his party is probably voting for Hillary.

Republican former Presidents, both Bushes,  John McCain and Ohio Governor John Kasich have refused to show up at the Trump three ring circus, where his Stepford kids and ding bat wife, sat as though in a prisoner dock at a Stalinist show trial.   It was cringe worthy, if not downright ludicrous.





Monday, April 25, 2016

NOTIONS OF SURREALISM



“Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.” 
 
Eric Hoffer, The Passionate State of Mind: And Other Aphorisms

When I was a lad in high school, bereft of many friends, certainly no popularity contest participant or winner, I found my solace not in my studies, but in reading encyclopedic reams of science fiction.   All the greats—Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein, Bradbury, Dick, and others too numerous to mention.  This did not help my academic achievements, which was only to graduate.   I had few dates, no girlfriend only friends who were girls, many of whom probably were as lonely as I was.

Books transported me from my 1950s home to other worlds, to scientific discoveries, that could then only be counted as imaginary fantasies:   Missions to Mars,  spaceships that could go at warp speed or bend the space time continuum to reach worlds the distance of which could only be measured in light-years. My humdrum, stultified, early teen years, were wondrously engaged by this pastime.   I did not play many sports in high school, because my athletic genes were sparse, I received no parental encouragement, and books were just there for the taking. 25c paperbacks, library books, books borrowed from friends allowing me to escape my father’s obsession with the holocaust and his extended absence from my life.
Many of the films of today and even the 1970s saw their genesis in the imaginations of those 1950s novels.

And yes, this is going somewhere.

In those days, people thought the devices we now enjoy were products of someone’s hyperkinetic imagination, thinking that phones and watches that were essentially computers were products of pure fantasy.  People worked in factories, enjoyed the miracle of a tiny black and white television screen and even air conditioning that might filter out the radioactive fallout from a Soviet nuclear blast.   During mandatory air raid drills we shuddered under wooden desks at school as if they would shelter us from kilotons of hydrogen bombs.  I served in the ground observer corps, stationed in a ramshackle building on the 71st street beach, where diagrams of Soviet airplanes festooned the walls.  We pored over the latest books of Russian aircraft and watched our own H-Bomb tests annihilate Pacific atolls, their mushroom clouds rising in the atmosphere, nightmarish images of what could happen to us. Peering over the horizon with our binoculars, we were certain that  the Russians were clearly coming to Miami Beach.

Red baiters such as Joseph McCarthy and the house un-American activities committee "protected" us from the likes of Hollywood fellow travelers and “pinkos,” as my uncle, a rich 7th avenue dress manufacturer, used to call them.   Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, Jews, were executed as spies, after being represented by Jewish lawyers, prosecuted by a Jewish lawyer, and sentenced to death by a Jewish judge.  They were the first spies to be executed in peacetime by the United States.   Protests of the ultimate price they were doomed to pay manifested itself all over our country, and books were written about the injustice of the penalty.  Hysteria, paranoia and fear permeated our lives.  Protesters marched in Washington DC over the impending executions at Sing-Sing.   Demagogues such as Roy Cohen and Joseph McCarthy terrorized ordinary citizens with their fear mongering, implicating innocents as communists, and destroying the lives of screenwriters, actors and artists, as well as many other citizens.

Fast forward to a world where much of the scientific imaginations of the past have come true. 

But politically the same demagoguery is rampant in the Presidential campaign of 2016.   With minds shaped by an Orwellian dystopic quest for power, the Republican political candidates  seem no different than their earlier power-hungry prototypes.  Trumpotopia, overtaking the panicked Republican establishment seems a surreal LSD-invoked hallucination of a psychedelic Woodstockian rock concert gone wild—a hodgepodge of stream of consciousness political huckster who has bamboozled “low information” voters into believing that America will be made “great again” by his Manichean, narcissistic, bombastic ramblings and who has actually appeared as an apocalyptic figure in a Joseph Conrad novel.   Colonel Kurtz lives.  He lives thanks to a corrupt, anachronistic political system infested by unlimited funds and super PACs on both sides of the aisle.  But Republicans have excelled at the game, powered by corporate greed and a Supreme Court rationalizing that those same corporations are individuals who can buy elections.  And no, I am not supporting Bernie.

This nightmare scenario has produced a zombie Dracula, coming to “take our country back.”  The adoring masses of angry, disaffected white voters are massing in throngs to the demagogic drumbeat of isolationism, fear and despair.   They cheer in unison at political rallies, reminiscent of Munich in 1939, the mad ravings of a man who people did not take seriously, and later plunging the world into an abyss.

All this is so hard to believe.  President Obama, an analytical intellectual, has done his part to keep us from war, invested in infrastructure, clean energy, a deal keeping Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, the treaty agreed to by a host of other nations, and who has initiated health care for 30 million Americans who had none and has conducted himself with class and dignity, besides being the first African-American President and a credit to his race.  Even after enduring the slings and arrows of what can only be called racism from the right.


It all makes no sense.