Thursday, September 03, 2015

The Final Answer

A town clerk in Kentucky is challenging, yet again, our political system's division of powers and the obligation of a nation to follow the edicts of its highest court in the land. Since 1803 in Marbury v. Madison, the power of the Supreme Court to make decisions relating to federal law was affirmed. The nation's highest Court has been working from this precedent ever since. The Court has the power to oversee and rule on Constitutional often extremely contentious issues and the Court's decision is final until another court overturns it.

The Supreme Court has been challenged throughout the nation’s history from the 1857 Dred Scott decision -- perhaps the worst decision issued by the Taney Court— affirming slavery to the 1954 decision of Brown v. the Board of Education calling dejure school segregation separate, unequal and therefore illegal. Its decision stands and the people must obey it.

In many other divisive national issues the Court has been the final arbitrator and this is no less true for gay marriage. It is now settled law and it will be so for this know nothing Kentucky town clerk who is denying marriage licenses to couples heterosexual and homosexuals alike claiming religious freedom. Ultimately, marriage licenses WILL be issued to both. Public entities are paid for by the people –ALL the people -- and the people have a right to use them. The Hobby Lobby decision establishing a religious freedom right (to which I disagree) applied to a private business, women’s health and insurance not to a public entity and marriage licenses.

 It has been pointed out this brazen, stupid, challenge to the Court is done so by a hypocrite. This woman has been divorced three times and married four times, gave birth to twins five months after divorcing her first husband, they were fathered by her third husband but adopted by her second husband if you can follow the convolution of that. She now, has the nerve to deny others their right to happiness but flouts the concept of marriage herself while having children out of wedlock to boot. Further, Jesus, allegedly her Lord and Savior, had nothing to say about homosexuality but had everything to say about divorce. He was against it.

The ACLU is suing her and they will win because the Supreme Court, no matter if one agrees or disagrees, has, in law, the final answer.

One can see how low the Democratic opposition can go. This is yet another reason to keep the presidency in Democratic hands as well as the Senate. The president has to power to shape the court and this aging court will see the president appoint at least two if not three Supreme Court Justices and the Senate affirm his choice.

An Explanation of the Deal

Here is a good article in "Forbes" no less and was written in 2013 in favor of the Deal. I think it still applies: The Iranian Nuclear Deal Is A Good One even this Forbes writer James Conca thought so too and gives very specific reasons why. You should read it and know about this important Deal that the Republicans want to subvert the president from obtaining -- big surprise. So what else is new?   NOW GO OUT AND WORK FOR DEMOCRATS TO RETAIN THE PRESIDENCY.  TAKING THE CONGRESS BACK SURELY WOULD HELP!

"The Iranian Nuclear Deal is a Good One "
By James Conca -- "Forbes"

Key nuclear facilities in Iran, most of which are impacted by their latest deal with the six superpowers. After the International Institute of Strategic Studies (

This Thanksgiving had an extra reason to be thankful – the new deal between Iran and six superpowers. Last week, the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China (the P5+1 group) reached an interim deal with Iran to stop their nuclear weapons program. Four key provisions were obtained in this deal:

1) no enrichment of U above 5% U-235, and all highly-enriched materials, some as high as 20% U-235, must be blended down to less than 5% or altered to a form not usable for weapons.

2) no additional centrifuges are to be installed or produced, and three-fourths of the centrifuges at Fordow and half of the centrifuges at Natanz will be inoperable,

3) stop all work on the heavy-water reactor at Arak, provide design details on the reactor (which could be used to produce Pu for the other types of atomic weapons) and do not develop the reprocessing facilities needed to separate Pu from used fuel,

4) full access by IAEA inspectors to all nuclear facilities, including daily visitation to Natanz and Fordow, and continuous camera surveillance of key sites.

Despite all the rhetoric of horror and claims that this deal is a mistake, this deal is just what we all hoped for as the first step to resolving the Iranian nuclear weapons issue, the structure of which we’ve been proposing for years. It is the first step to bringing Iran into the world’s nuclear community as a partner instead of an adversary, making Iran a compliant signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. While this may make some of its neighbors nervous, there is no real alternative that does not involve lots of destruction and death. 

Old orders are falling in the Middle East. The region is in upheaval, Shia and Sunni are as far apart as ever, and Iran’s theocracy, embodied by their new President Hassan Rouhani, has decided that the cost/benefit of maintaining an expensive, useless nuclear program that is still a long way from producing a reliable weapon, while being starved by a barrage of sanctions, on the heels of a global economic meltdown, has now gone into the too-much-cost-and-not-enough-benefit category.

Thus, there is now an opening to change the game.

This deal is not about trust, as the last point above about access addresses. No one trusts governments, even supposedly good ones. There must be unfettered access to verify that the nuclear facilities are not being used to produce weapons and that is what this deal allows, and it will be easy to determine when (and if) Iran breaks this deal ( The Economist; The Guardian; Fox News).

But the facilities can, and will, be used to support nuclear power, as was the original purpose of Iran’s nuclear program when the United States set it up under the Shah in the 1960s, and that is the actual end point of this whole deal. Not the end of Iran’s nuclear program or the destruction of their facilities, their country or their people.

I’m not sure what the naysayers of this deal think the sanctions were suppose to do. The purpose of sanctions is to get a specific party to the negotiating table. Sanctions are not meant to destroy a nation, cause widespread poverty of its people and destruction of their economy, or topple governments. The fear of these happening, not the reality of them, is what gets a government to the table.
As much as some leaders in Israel and Saudi Arabia want to use the U.S. to decapitate their nemesis, this is not the point of these talks. And what happens here goes far beyond just Iran. We need nuclear energy to spread around the world without proliferating weapons. How we handle Iran will determine the future of nuclear energy in many countries outside of the developed world, and we better get it right. There will always be pressures to develop weapons and we need strategies and experience in diverting these programs away from weapons. 

Besides, the art of diplomacy is the art of finding a win-win for all parties. It’s significant that the Obama Administration knows how to use diplomacy the way only the U.S. can. It is in both our and the world’s best interest, to find a solution that allows Iran nuclear energy without weapons.

All other rhetoric is posturing. Isolation is the worst strategy for bringing a country into the civil world’s fold. Just look at North Korea. Rouhani has to move forward in a way that does not shame Iran. The celebration in Iran over this deal is a strong indication of the win-win nature of this deal, not the ridiculous charge of the opposition that the U.S. was taken for a ride. Iran wants to, and according to international law can, have a nuclear energy program, including enrichment and production, as long as it falls under the appropriate international controls and is not producing weapons.

It is no wonder that Iran wants this deal as badly as it seems. It is a way out of a very tricky and dangerous situation. Countries having the bomb never seem to get attacked, but those that give up their nuclear programs completely tend to end badly. Just ask Iraq and Libya. To avoid this fate, Iran has to back away from nuclear weapons while retaining a nuclear energy program.

The U.S. understands that this deal is a good step toward that end. A final deal will include a structure that precludes the ability to make a weapon, such as abandoning or altering the reactor at Arak, and closing the Fordow enrichment facility because it is basically immune from attack being under a mountain. But the whole deal doesn’t have to be done all at once.

All things considered, this deal with Iran is a good one for the world.
Technical Endnotes – Just a few technical clarifications since science rarely enters media coverage of nuclear issues, yet is extremely important. The original level of U-235 in the uranium ore, that is mined like any other ore, is 0.7% U-235. 5% U-235 is the level of enrichment for nuclear fuel for power reactors. Although some reactor designs can use anything from natural uranium to highly-enriched material, most power reactor fuel is between 3% and 5% enriched as is used in Iran’s Bushehr reactor, a reactor no one cares much about for this reason. You can’t make a bomb out of these materials. This is the basis for the first key provision of the deal.

And while discussions focus on 20% U-235 as sufficiently enriched to make an atomic weapon, that is only theoretically correct. No one has made a weapon from such lowly-enriched materials and no one ever will.

Enrichment needs to be >90% to make a reliable weapon. Reliability in this case is not like having a reliable flashlight. Reliable in this case means the atomic weapon will work when you want it to. It’s why there’s so much testing associated with a weapons program. If you’re going to make the fatal decision to field a nuke, it better work, and everyone knows it has to be over 90% U-235 to be really useful.

Finally, an atomic weapon is fission-based such as U-235 and Pu-239 whose nuclei split to change a bit of matter into a huge amount of energy. These are what was dropped during WWII, what Iran was working towards with U, and what North Korea has developed with Pu. In contrast, a nuclear weapon is fusion-based such as a hydrogen bomb, whose nuclei fuse to change a bit of matter into even more energy.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Supreme Court Rules Against Kentucky Clerk in Gay Marriage Case

by Pete Williams

The U.S. Supreme Court late Monday rejected an appeal from a county clerk in Kentucky who said she could not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because of her religious objections.

Kim Davis, the clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky, "holds an undisputed sincerely held religious belief that marriage is a union between a man and a woman, only," her lawyers said in asking the court to block a lower court order directing her to issue the licenses.

But the Supreme Court denied her request without explanation in a brief one-line order. No dissents were noted, and the court acted without seeking a response from the state.

It was the first legal skirmish to reach the Supreme Court since it declared on June 26th that the Constitution guarantees gay couples the right to get married.

Immediately after that ruling, Kentucky's governor, Steve Beshear, ordered all the state's county clerks to comply with the decision and issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Saying she did not want to discriminate, Davis stopped issuing all marriage licenses — to both same-sex and opposite sex couples — in the days after the landmark decision. Two gay couples and two straight couples sued her, arguing that her duties as an elected official required her to act, despite her personal religious beliefs.
Rowan County Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis speaks to a gathering of supporters during a Religious Freedoms Rally on the steps of the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort Ky., Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015. Timothy D. Easley / AP

A federal judge ordered her to issue the licenses, and last week the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed.

"It cannot be defensibly argued that the holder of the Rowan County Clerk's office, apart from who personally occupies that office, may decline to act in conformity with the United States Constitution as interpreted by a dispositive holding of the United States Supreme Court," the appeals court said.

Davis' emergency request was directed to Justice Elena Kagan, who referred it to the full court for action.

"She's going to have to think and pray about her decision overnight. She certainly understands the consequences either way," Mat Staver, founder of the law firm representing Davis, told the Associated Press Monday, hours before a court-ordered delay in the case expired. "She'll report to work tomorrow, and face whatever she has to face." 

 p.s. Thousands more emails of HRC have been released and NONE, I repeat NONE were sent to her marked "classified!"


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Parallel Universe

Like most I watched the murder on TV of the young journalists of WDBJ7, Alison Parker and Adam Ward, as they were gunned down by a former employee of the station in the middle of filming a benign Chamber of Commerce interview.  I was, like most everyone else, incredulous that one human being could commit such a heinous act to two innocents and ones who were at one time his co-workers.  The fact that Bryce Williams (the shooter) also seriously wounded a third person who was the person being interviewed should not be lost.

We can strum and drang all we like as we do after so many other bestial killings testament to man’s inhumanity to man to which our nation has borne witness or we can go deeper and try to figure out why our nation is stuck on channel haywire or is it?
The science of theoretical physics entertains the notion of living in a parallel universe.  The dual natures within the universe of our nation has been evident to me for quite some time.  I grew up in the “Father Knows Best” and “Leave it to Beaver” nation, gained maturity in “The Other America” and “The Autobiography of Malcom X one.  I further aged in “The Arrogance of Power” and “Why We Are in Vietnam” one and even further encountering Rachel Maddow’s book “Drift—The Unmooring of American Military Power” an indictment of the inaction of the electorate and the eventual thrust into permanent war fought technologically by just those few who volunteer.  Essentially the electorate has given war power over to few and the many who will never fight it acquiesce to its violence.

There are two national universes in my sight.  One kindly occupied by those who help elderly ladies across the street; the kind and benevolent one whose tears flow easily at tragedy and whose first impulse is to help.  The one whose president John F. Kennedy said so eloquently “to whom much is given much is required.” 

I come, though, to the never ending violence in our land, violence in our films, violence on our televisions, and violence in the plethora of war we see from the comfort of our living rooms but most never have to fight.  We see the violence of a malevolent NRA which even in the face of the murder of 26 CHILDREN fights hard for its almighty buck against even federal background checks as a prerequisite to owning a gun to stop at least some of the gun mayhem in our land of 310 million guns. 
Finally, I see a Donald Trump whose mouth invites the forces of hate to align with him.  He insults continuously the most powerless among us and our news media finds his spewing so much fun they cover him nearly 24/7 while the violence in our land increases still.  American Nationalists of the most extreme right wing stripe including some hate notables as former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke and others gladly give him their support Trump says he does not want but I have no doubt he will take their vote.  It shows one just who loves Donald Trump and finds a home in the Republican Party.
Something violent is wrong in our nation but not everyone is at fault.  Let us harness what is kind, right and good in our nation, help those who cannot help themselves and defeat the powerful forces of violence and hate that has occupied so much of our history while we still have a remnant of democracy left.  We should do it before the hour is too late.

"Enough Is Enough" -- NYT by Charles Blow

When Donald Trump’s security escorted the Univision anchor Jorge Ramos out of a news conference on Tuesday, I decided that I was officially done.

Maybe I should have been long before that.

Maybe I should have been done the one and only time I met Trump and his first words to me were a soliloquy about how black people loved him, and he was the most popular white man among black people.

Maybe I should have been done when Trump demanded to see the president's birth certificate.

Maybe I should have been done any number of times over the years when Trump made any number of racist, sexist comments.

Earlier this month, Politico rounded up 199 of his greatest — and vilest — hits. Here are just a few from the magazine:

9. “I have black guys counting my money. … I hate it. The only guys I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes all day.” (USA Today, May 20, 1991)

23. “Oftentimes when I was sleeping with one of the top women in the world I would say to myself, thinking about me as a boy from Queens, ‘Can you believe what I am getting?’ ” (“Think Big: Make it Happen in Business and Life,” 2008)

32. “… she does have a very nice figure. I’ve said if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.” (ABC’s “The View,” March 6, 2006)

35. “If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband what makes her think she can satisfy America?” (Twitter, April 16, 2015)

117. “Rosie’s a person that’s very lucky to have her girlfriend. And she better be careful or I’ll send one of my friends over to pick up her girlfriend. Why would she stay with Rosie if she had another choice?” (“Entertainment Tonight,” Dec. 21, 2006)

121. Arianna Huffington is “a dog.” (Twitter, April 6, 2015)
Need I go on? (Thanks, Politico!)

Maybe I should have been done when Trump announced his candidacy this year with an attack on Mexican immigrants, saying:

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best — they’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems … drugs … crime … rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

The Ramos episode wasn’t worse than these; it was just the last straw. A member of the media who dared to raise a truly substantive issue, even out of turn, was dismissed and removed. And yet the band played on. The live coverage continued. In that moment, I was disgusted at Trump’s contempt and the press’s complicity in the shallow farce that is his candidacy. Trump is addicted to press, but the press is also addicted to him, and the entire spectacle is wide and shallow.

(Ramos was allowed back in and permitted to ask his question. I had to see this later, because when he was ejected, I stopped watching.)

Yes, the Republican Party created this Frankenstein of hatred, hubris, narcissism and nativism, but the media is giving it life.

The never-ending, exhaustive, even breathless coverage of every outrage that issues forth from this man’s mouth is not news. Every offense and attack is not news. 

Every morning that Trump rolls out of bed and calls in to a news show is not news.

Covering a political phenomenon as news is one thing. See the coverage of Bernie Sanders. Creating a political phenomenon and calling it news is quite another. 

Trump's prominence is the direct result of the American media's obsession with the egotistical and bizarre personalities of our society.

If the "press" had a backbone, I would have expected all (or most) of them to have left the room along with Mr. Ramos in solidarity.

I reasoned in a 2010 column that Sarah Palin was no longer an elected official and wasn’t seeking elected office, and was therefore not worthy of constant attacks. But more important, the attacks were elevating her profile, not diminishing it. As I wrote:

“This is it. This is the last time I’m going to write the name Sarah Palin until she does something truly newsworthy, like declare herself a candidate for the presidency. Until then, I will no longer take part in the left’s obsessive-compulsive fascination with her, which is both unhealthy and counterproductive.”

I kept that promise. The only other time she appeared by name in one of my columns was in a passing reference to her speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2013. This column is only the second reference.

The same is true of Trump. The constant harping on him only helps him. He is different from Palin in 2010, however. He is not only running for office, he’s leading in the polls among Republican candidates. He can’t be ignored. But coverage is not the same as drooling over the daily shenanigans of a demagogue.

I will cover Trump as he addresses issues with specific policy prescriptions and details, like answers to the question Ramos asked.

Until then, this man is not worthy of the attention he’s garnering. We in the media have to own our part in this. We can’t say he’s not serious and then cover him in a way that actually demonstrates that we are not serious.

Is he an easy target for righteous criticism? Of course he is. But is he aware that criticism from the mainstream media is invaluable among certain segments of the political right? Of course he is. Is he also aware that he’s getting more free publicity for being outrageous than he would ever be willing to buy? Of course he is.

The media is being trolled on a massive scale and we look naïve and silly to have fallen for it, even if he draws readers and viewers. When people refer to the press as the fourth estate, it shouldn’t be confused with a Trump property.

Allow me to share one more of Trump’s quotes from Politico:

89. “My brand became more famous as I became more famous, and more opportunities presented themselves.” (, 2007)

Monday, August 24, 2015

"Irrational Man" -- A Woody Allen Film and Review

Okay, mea culpa, I love Woody Allen films especially his serious content ones. I just do and I am not going to let my moral indignation keep me from enjoying their content formed by a very brilliant man. Since morality is very much a part of this film I suppose comment on Allen's behavior is in order and what should be a penalty to him if any. I cannot say for sure that what is accused of Woody Allen with respect to molestation is true. I just do not know. What is true is that he left Mia for Sun Ye who was his wife's adopted daughter decades his junior. That screams out for moral indignation BUT is it worthy enough for me to stop what I enjoy -- his morality laced films. I'm going to compartmentalize my indictment of Allen and still view his films. As Pope Francis said "Who am I to judge?" I am not god.

This film has much and is now making me Google the existential philosophers I studied in college: Kant, Heidegger and Kierkegaard. What is life all about anyway Abe Lucas, an enigmatic to-say-the-least philosophy professor asks his students at Braylin College, a kind of Smith College or Mt. Holyoke clone. He is stuck in life in the quicksand of major doubt, depression, and alcoholism that seems somehow to make some women find him not only interesting but a sexually arousing challenge. My question is why?

What is the source of his lack of interest in life and what can pull him out of a morose philosophically tortured life mainly, it appears, of his own making. I suppose being a philosophy professor can do that as it lends itself to life's meaning inquiries. As one views life it does seem dark, nasty, brutish and short as Hobbs long ago said it was.

But is this the main reason for Abe's quagmire or is it something else that he needs to turn him on? To write too much about his philosophical and psychological mess and how the film resolves it would be to place too many spoilers in it.

I loved the acting and thought Emma Stone excellent as was Joachim Phoenix who plays brooding alcoholic characters so very well.

If you enjoy ruminating on the vicissitudes of life, the ability to create social change and your own psychological attitude affecting it all then this film should please. I gave it a 10 because I have thought about these questions of life all of my life. Abe attempting to find his purpose with answers to life's big questions and his own morality makes it so interesting to me. His resolution would not be my choice. Then again this film may not be everyone's choice either.

Is Donald Trump a Facist?

Just a few weeks ago, Donald Trump was a crank and joke, living proof that making lots of money doesn’t mean you have the answers and further proof that being a capitalist doesn’t mean you necessarily like or understand capitalism. His dabbling in politics was widely regarded as a silly distraction.

This week, he leads the polls among the pack of Republican aspirants to the office of president of the United States. While all the other candidates are following the rules, playing the media, saying the right things, obeying the civic conventions, Trump is taking the opposite approach. He doesn’t care. He says whatever. Thousands gather at his rallies to thrill to the moment.

Suddenly he is serious, if only for a time, and hence it is time to take his political worldview seriously.
I just heard Trump speak live. The speech lasted an hour, and my jaw was on the floor most of the time. I’ve never before witnessed such a brazen display of nativistic jingoism, along with a complete disregard for economic reality. It was an awesome experience, a perfect repudiation of all good sense and intellectual sobriety.

Yes, he is against the establishment, against existing conventions. It also serves as an important reminder: As bad as the status quo is, things could be worse. Trump is dedicated to taking us there.

His speech was like an interwar séance of once-powerful dictators who inspired multitudes, drove countries into the ground and died grim deaths. I kept thinking of books like John T. Flynn’s As We Go Marching, especially Chapter Ten that so brilliantly chronicles a form of statism that swept Europe in the 1930s. It grew up in the firmament of failed economies, cultural upheaval and social instability, and it lives by stoking the fires of bourgeois resentment.

Since World War II, the ideology he represents has usually lived in dark corners, and we don’t even have a name for it anymore. The right name, the correct name, the historically accurate name, is fascism. I don’t use that word as an insult only. It is accurate.

Though hardly anyone talks about it today, we really should. It is still real. It exists. It is distinct. It is not going away. Trump has tapped into it, absorbing unto his own political ambitions every conceivable resentment (race, class, sex, religion, economic) and promising a new order of things under his mighty hand.

You would have to be hopelessly ignorant of modern history not to see the outlines and where they end up. I want to laugh about what he said, like reading a comic-book version of Franco, Mussolini or Hitler. And truly I did laugh as he denounced the existence of tech support in India that serves American companies (“how can it be cheaper to call people there than here?”—as if he still thinks that long-distance charges apply). But in politics, history shows that laughter can turn too quickly to tears.

So, what does Trump actually believe? He does have a philosophy, though it takes a bit of insight and historical understanding to discern it. Of course, race baiting is essential to the ideology, and there was plenty of that. When a Hispanic man asked a question, Trump interrupted him and asked if he had been sent by the Mexican government. He took it a step further, dividing blacks from Hispanics by inviting a black man to the microphone to tell how his own son was killed by an illegal immigrant.

Because Trump is the only one who speaks this way, he can count on support from the darkest elements of American life. He doesn’t need to actually advocate racial homogeneity, call for whites-only signs to be hung at immigration control or push for expulsion or extermination of undesirables. Because such views are verboten, he has the field alone, and he can count on the support of those who think that way by making the right noises.

Trump also tosses little bones to the religious right, enough to allow them to believe that he represents their interests. Yes, it’s implausible and hilarious. At the speech I heard, he pointed out that he is a Presbyterian, and thus he is personally affected every time ISIS beheads a Christian.

But as much as racial and religious resentment is part of his rhetorical apparatus, it is not his core. His core is about business, his own business and his acumen thereof. He is living proof that being a successful capitalist is no predictor of one’s appreciation for an actual free market (stealing not trading is more his style). It only implies a love of money and a longing for the power that comes with it. Trump has both.

What do capitalists on his level do? They beat the competition. What does he believe he should do as president? Beat the competition, which means other countries, which means wage a trade war. If you listen to him, you would suppose that the United States is in some sort of massive, epochal struggle for supremacy with China, India, Malaysia and pretty much everyone else in the world.

It takes a bit to figure out what this could mean. He speaks of the United States as if it were one thing, one single firm. A business. “We” are in competition with “them,” as if the country was IBM competing against Samsung, Apple or Dell. “We” are not 300 million people pursuing unique dreams and ideas, with special tastes or interests, cooperating with people around the world to build prosperity. “We” are doing one thing, and that is being part of one business.

In effect, he believes that he is running to be the CEO of the country—not just of the government. He is often compared with Ross Perot, another wealthy businessman who made an independent run. But Perot only promised to bring business standards to government. Trump wants to run the entire nation as if it were Trump Tower.

In this capacity, he believes that he will make deals with other countries that cause the United States to come out on top, whatever that could mean. He conjures up visions of himself or one of his associates sitting across the table from some Indian or Chinese leader and making wild demands that they will buy such and such amount of product, or else “we” won’t buy “their” product. He fantasizes about placing phone calls to “Saudi Arabia,” the country, and telling “it” what he thinks about oil prices.

Trade theory developed over hundreds of years plays no role in his thinking at all. To him, America is a homogenous unit, no different from his own business enterprise. With his run for president, he is really making a takeover bid, not just for another company to own but for an entire country to manage from the top down, under his proven and brilliant record of business negotiation and acquisition.

You see why the whole speech came across as bizarre? It was. And yet, maybe it was not. In the 18th century, there is a trade theory called mercantilism that posited something similar: Ship the goods out and keep the money in. It builds up industrial cartels that live at the expense of the consumer.

In the 19th century, this penchant for industrial protectionism and mercantilism became guild socialism, which mutated later into fascism and then into Nazism. You can read Mises to find out more on how this works.

What’s distinct about Trumpism, and the tradition of thought it represents, is that it is not leftist in its cultural and political outlook (see how he is praised for rejecting “political correctness”), and yet it is still totalitarian in the sense that it seeks total control of society and economy and demands no limits on state power.

Whereas the left has long attacked bourgeois institutions like family, church and property, fascism has made its peace with all three. It (very wisely) seeks political strategies that call on the organic matter of the social structure and inspire masses of people to rally around the nation as a personified ideal in history, under the leadership of a great and highly accomplished man.

Trump believes himself to be that man. He sounds fresh, exciting, even thrilling, like a man with a plan and a complete disregard for the existing establishment and all its weakness and corruption.

This is how strongmen take over countries. They say some true things, boldly, and conjure up visions of national greatness under their leadership. They’ve got the flags, the music, the hype, the hysteria, the resources, and they work to extract that thing in many people that seeks heroes and momentous struggles in which they can prove their greatness.

Think of Commodus (161-192 A.D.) in his war against the corrupt Roman senate. His ascension to power came with the promise of renewed Rome. What he brought was inflation, stagnation and suffering. Historians have usually dated the fall of Rome from his leadership.

Or, if you prefer pop culture, think of Bane, the would-be dictator of Gotham in Batman, who promises an end to democratic corruption, weakness and loss of civic pride. He sought a revolution against the prevailing elites in order to gain total power unto himself.

These people are all the same. They purport to be populists, while loathing the decisions people actually make in the marketplace (such as buying Chinese goods or hiring Mexican employees).

Oh, how they love the people, and how they hate the establishment. They defy all civic conventions. Their ideology is somehow organic to the nation, not a wacky import like socialism. They promise a new era based on pride, strength, heroism, triumph. They have an obsession with the problem of trade and mercantilist belligerence at the only solution. They have zero conception of the social order as a complex and extended ordering of individual plans, one that functions through freedom.

This is a dark history, and I seriously doubt that Trump himself is aware of it. Instead, he just makes it up as he goes along, speaking from his gut, just like Uncle Harry at Thanksgiving dinner, just like two guys at the bar during last call.

This penchant has always served him well. It cannot serve a whole nation well. Indeed, the very prospect is terrifying and not just for the immigrant groups and foreign peoples he has chosen to scapegoat for all the country’s problems. It’s a disaster in waiting for everyone.

My own prediction is that the political exotica he represents will not last. It’s a moment in time. The thousands who attend his rallies and scream their heads off will head home and return to enjoying movies, smartphones and mobile apps from all over the world, partaking in the highest standard of living experienced in the whole of human history, granted courtesy of the global market economy in which no one rules. We will not go back.

Tucker asks that we describe him thus: Jeffrey A. Tucker is Director of Digital Development at the Foundation for Economic Education and CLO of This article first appeared on the Anything Peaceful blog on the FEE website.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Trumpet

I thought it proper to define the word trumpet when discussing the Republican primary’s latest unfathomable phenomenon, Donald Trump, because this illogical crackpot’s name is Dickensian like Mr. Talkinghorn in Charles Dickens’s “Bleak House”— a nefarious lawyer, whose interest was in himself even to the detriment of his clients. In Dickensian form the name describes the character of the person.

A trumpet is defined in Merriam Webster’s Dictionary as (a) a funnel-shaped instrument (as a megaphone) for collecting, directing, or intensifying sound and b (1) a stentorian (loud) voice (2) a penetrating cry (as of an elephant.) PERFECT!

Donald Trump’s person is, I think, Dickensian that is his characteristics resemble the definition of the noun trumpet whose mouth blows sounds out like the cry of an elephant (the GOP symbol) spewing nativist sludge often virulently racist against the latest immigrant group de jour, Hispanics, he calls “illegals” as if a human being – any human being – by his very existence should be characterized as such. He directs these bleating sounds to the selected audience this time southern white Alabamians he has purposefully selected to rope into casting a vote to make him the Republican primary front runner and ultimately the Republican nominee for the presidency.

Donald Trump is a trumpet, bleating out loud decibels working his audience up to a Hitlerian pitch in near orgasmic delight as he calls “illegals” mostly murderers and rapists although some, he says softening his insult, may be okay. He knows his audience and what to say to captivate them. His supporters are low information voters, uber nationalistic with often white supremacy animus who want to be led by a strong leader regurgitating patriotic myths, loyalty oaths with the omnipresent symbolic American flag by their side. The Republican primary southern voter – old and white – will not, question anything he says no matter how irrational or untrue as long as Trumpspeak is advocating the building of a huge (always huge) wall costing billions which he just knows Mexico will pay for – trust him he will reread his “Art of the Deal” to make it happen. He will keep “illegals” out by any means necessary even deporting 11 million human beings like Jews in a German boxcar despite the fact that “illegal” immigration is down to its lowest level in years and the president, to the chagrin of his supporters, in the first three years, deported record-high numbers of undocumented immigrants, removing about 1.2 million. (

Beyond that Trump includes in his immigration policy eradicating the Constitution’s 14th Amendment taking away the citizenship birthright of children (otherwise so kindly known by the right wingnuts as “anchor babies”) who were born here knowing no other place in which to be. Moreover, he says it can be done easily and fast – so much the better.

What is left? Perhaps as some in his movement have said shooting “illegals” or permanently indenturing those who found work to servitude if they are undocumented. Yes, that means to slavery. Where have I heard that word before? Perhaps, he too can repeal the 13th Constitutional Amendment of 1865 outlawing it. What happened to “compassionate conservatism?” It never really existed because to be “conservative” today means that the word compassionate is an oxymoron to it. It does not exist in its lexicon.

Nativist poison is not new to this nation. See Martin Scorsese’s film “Gangs of New York” to explain it. It has been known throughout human history and it has taken many forms. Perhaps, it has something to do with our tribal nature and a nation’s historical attitudes over time. Mostly, in this nation, it has taken the form of “no Irish need apply,” “no Jews or dogs allowed in the pool,” the Jim Crow south, the uprooting of the first Americans – the Indians –, the monstrosity of the African slave trade relegating persons of color to three fifths of a human being status and all the violence and segregation that goes with it. Now, the Hispanics are in the cross-hairs of the American Right of the Republican Party and Trump is taking full advantage of it.

In modern times right wingnut extremists in this nation have usually been relegated to the periphery of the Republican Party after the loss of Goldwater in 1964 when “extremism in the face of liberty is no vice” lost and the incorporation of the new south into the 1968 Nixonian initiative of Republicans capturing a heretofore all Democratic south appealing to the “silent majority” began. In the more recent 20th and 21st centuries the American conservative blather of the John Birch Society, White Citizens Councils, former KKK members, those who would weaken the Voting Rights Act and many other extremist hate groups have found a home in this Republican Party they never had before. Recently when Mr. Trump was asked about two white teenagers in Boston beating up and urinating on a homeless man because after all Donald Trump has a point. Trump’s response was his supporters are “passionate.” I’m glad they are passionate and so are we organizing to crush the Republican essence of malevolence and hate.

An addendum: Trump’s vision for Middle East policy is mind boggling. He will go back into Iraq (necessitating troops on the ground) and steal all the oil fields from them. I’m sure those who are in that neck of the woods would welcome our boots on the ground again and Mr. Trump, just how much would that cost the American taxpayer in more blood and treasure? He does not say. I thought we just played that tune with Bush and got Obama elected to stop it.

Today, we are in a democratic existential struggle with the forces of darkness, myth and hate of the Republican Party against the progressive forces of science and inclusion of the Democratic Party which sees the moral arc of the universe moving toward justice and not away from it. Who will win this struggle? I do not know but I do know it is up to you to stop the Republican Party’s descent into madness.

 The Bible conservatives and Trump love so much says many times:

Deuteronomy 10: 19 You shall love the stranger, for you were once strangers in the land of Egypt.

Leviticus 19:34 The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.

Luke 10:27 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.

Romans 13:8 Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.

And finally Rabbi Hillel when asked to summarize the essence of Judaism said: “Do NOT do unto others that which you would not do unto yourself. All the rest,” he said, “is commentary.”

To that I say Amen!


Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Plague of American Authoritarianism

FABULOUS article by Henry Giroux and worth the time it takes to read it -- two pages with two more of footnotes. I read just the two pages of the opinion. It says it all!

My Blog Answer to Savannah on Trump

"Savannah Zimmerman, a 27-year-old registered nurse from Mobile,.. "I think he appeals to us Southerners because he tells it like it is and he has strong opinions. That is the way we are here in the South," she said"

Please, like nowhere in the country people do not have strong opinions. Sorry, Southern Savannah, that is just NOT the case. I'm in a NE state and I have STRONG very STRONG opinions--liberal progressive. You are praised for having strong opinions but just what are those opinions? If they are dump 11 million human beings and transport them then that sounds Nazi-like to me and I hate to use Nazi comparisons but in this case it's true. What could possibly go wrong with rounding up 11 million pieces of humanity and placing them where on trains? What like the Jews (I'm Jewish) just go along peacefully to a probable death? Just how is he going to do that with no opposition? How is he going to feed them, how is he going to provide sanitary facilities while doing that? He may be leading in the Republican polls but he has a VERY high unfavorable percentage as he should.

Why? Because he's mean, and a hypocrite. Undocumented workers are working at his hotels. Does he care? Not really because he never asked and they are a source of cheap labor. Worse if one replaces undocumented workers one must put another documented worker in his/her place for HOW MUCH MORE MONEY? There was a reason W. Bush did nothing on this issue because those owners who grow say tobacco would have to pay double to tend the fields and that means DOUBLE or triple in the marketplace.

Nothing wrong with being passionate but something VERY VERY VERY wrong not thinking issues through. Take slavery for instance. Do you think one of the slave holders had any foresight that some slave somewhere when society advances will revolt? The Civil War had passionate feeling everywhere and it got 600,000 people killed. THINK, Savannah, THINK and use what nature gave you -- a BIG brain for survival and that includes persons of color too. They are not stupid but you, however, I wonder. Trump is ugly in appearance and ugly in his heart!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Trump Just Stopped being Funny! by Matt Taibbi

Win or lose, Trump's campaign threatens to unleash the Great American Stupid

Donald Trump at a town hall in New Hampshire.
"The people that are following me are very passionate," Donald Trump said recently. Melina Mara/The Washington Post/Getty Images
So two yahoos from Southie in my hometown of Boston severely beat up a Hispanic homeless guy earlier this week. While being arrested, one of the brothers reportedly told police that "Donald Trump was right, all of these illegals need to be deported."
When reporters confronted Trump, he hadn't yet heard about the incident. At first, he said, "That would be a shame." But right after, he went on:
"I will say, the people that are following me are very passionate. They love this country. They want this country to be great again. But they are very passionate. I will say that."
This is the moment when Donald Trump officially stopped being funny.
The thing is, even as Donald Trump said and did horrible things during this year's incredible run at the White House, most sane people took solace in the fact that he could never win. (Although new polls are showing that Hillary's recent spiral puts this reassuring thought into jeopardy.)
In fact, most veteran political observers figured that the concrete impact of Trump's candidacy would be limited in the worst case to destroying the Republican Party as a mainstream political force.
That made Trump's run funny, campy even, like a naughty piece of pornographic performance art. After all, what's more obscene than pissing on the presidency? It seemed even more like camp because the whole shtick was fronted by a veteran reality TV star who might even be in on the joke, although of course the concept was funnier if he wasn't.
Trump had the whole country rubbernecking as this preposterous Spaulding Smails caricature of a spoiled rich kid drove the family Rolls (our illustrious electoral process in this metaphor) off the road into a ditch. It was brilliant theater for a while, but the ugliness factor has gotten out of control.
Trump is probably too dumb to realize it, or maybe he isn't, but he doesn't need to win anything to become the most dangerous person in America. He can do plenty of damage just by encouraging people to be as uninhibited in their stupidity as he is.
Trump is striking a chord with people who are feeling the squeeze in a less secure world and want to blame someone – the government, immigrants, political correctness, "incompetents," "dummies," Megyn Kelly, whoever – for their problems.
Karl Rove and his acolytes mined a lot of the same resentments to get Republicans elected over the years, but the difference is that Trump's political style encourages people to do more to express their anger than just vote. The key to his success is a titillating message that those musty old rules about being polite and "saying the right thing" are for losers who lack the heart, courage and Trumpitude to just be who they are.

His signature moment in a campaign full of them was his exchange in the first debate with Fox's Kelly. She asked him how anyone with a history of calling women "fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals" could win a general election against a female candidate like Hillary Clinton.
"I've been challenged by so many people," Trump answered. "I frankly don't have time for political correctness. And to be honest with you, the country doesn't have time either….We don't win anymore. We lose to China. We lose to Mexico….We lose to everybody."
On the surface, Kelly was just doing her job as a journalist, throwing Trump's most outrageous comments back at him and demanding an explanation.
But on another level, she was trying to bring Trump to heel. The extraction of the humiliating public apology is one of the media's most powerful weapons. Someone becomes famous, we dig up dirt on the person, we rub it in his or her nose, and then we demand that the person get down on bended knee and beg forgiveness.
The Clintons' 1992 joint interview on 60 Minutes was a classic example, as was Anthony Weiner's prostration before Andrew Breitbart and Chris Christie's 107-minute marathon apologia after Bridgegate. The subtext is always the same: If you want power in this country, you must accept the primacy of the press. It's like paying the cover at the door of the world's most exclusive club.
Trump wouldn't pay the tab. Not only was he not wrong for saying those things, he explained, but holding in thoughts like that is bad for America. That's why we don't win anymore, why we lose to China and to Mexico (how are we losing to Mexico again?). He was saying that hiding forbidden thoughts about women or immigrants or whoever isn't just annoying, but bad for America.
It's not exactly telling people to get out there and beat people with metal rods. But when your response to news that a couple of jackasses just invoked your name when they beat the crap out of a homeless guy is to salute your "passionate" followers who "love this country," you've gone next-level.
The political right in America has been flirting with dangerous ideas for a while now, particularly on issues involving immigrants and minorities. But in the last few years the rhetoric has gotten particularly crazy.
Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert proposed using troops and ships of war to stop an invasion of immigrant children, whom he described as a 28 Days Later-style menace. "We don't even know all of the diseases, and how extensive the diseases are," he said.
"A lot of head lice, a lot of scabies," concurred another Texas congressman, Blake Farenthold.
"I'll do anything short of shooting them," promised Mo Brooks, a congressman from the enlightened state of Alabama.

Then there's Iowa's Steve King, who is unusually stupid even for a congressman. He not only believes a recent Supreme Court decision on gay marriage allows people to marry inanimate objects, but also believes the EPA may have intentionally spilled three million gallons of toxic waste into Colorado's Animas river in order to get Superfund money.
Late last year, King asked people to "surround the president's residence" in response to Barack Obama's immigration policies. He talked about putting "boots on the ground" and said "everything is on the table" in the fight against immigrants.
So all of this was in the ether even before Donald Trump exploded into the headlines with his "They're rapists" line, and before his lunatic, Game of Thrones idea to build a giant wall along the southern border. But when Trump surged in the polls on the back of this stuff, it caused virtually all of the candidates to escalate their anti-immigrant rhetoric.
For example, we just had Ben Carson – who seems on TV like a gentle, convivial doctor who's just woken up from a nice nap – come out and suggest that he's open to using drone strikes on U.S. soil against undocumented immigrants. Bobby Jindal recently came out and said mayors in the so-called "sanctuary cities" should be arrested when undocumented immigrants commit crimes. Scott Walker and Marco Rubio have both had to change their positions favoring paths to citizenship as a result of the new dynamic.
Meanwhile, Rick Santorum, polling at a brisk zero percent, joined Jindal and Lindsey Graham in jumping aboard with Trump's insane plan to toss the 14th Amendment out the window and revoke the concept of birthright citizenship, thereby extending the war on immigrants not just to children, but babies.
All of this bleeds out into the population. When a politician says dumb thing X, it normally takes ‘Murica about two days to start flirting publicly with X + way worse.
We saw that earlier this week, when Iowa radio host Jan Mickelson blew up Twitter by calling for undocumented immigrants to become "property of the state" and put into "compelled labor." When a caller challenged the idea, Mickelson answered, "What's wrong with slavery?"
Why there's suddenly this surge of hatred for immigrants is sort of a mystery. Why Donald Trump, who's probably never even interacted with an undocumented immigrant in a non-commercial capacity, in particular should care so much about this issue is even more obscure. (Did he trip over an immigrant on his way to the Cincinnati housing development his father gave him as a young man?)
Most likely, immigrants are just collateral damage in Trump's performance art routine, which is an absurd ritualistic celebration of the coiffed hotshot endlessly triumphing over dirty losers and weaklings.
Trump isn't really a politician, of course. He's a strongman act, a ridiculous parody of a Nietzschean superman. His followers get off on watching this guy with (allegedly) $10 billion and a busty mute broad on his arm defy every political and social convention and get away with it.
People are tired of rules and tired of having to pay lip service to decorum. They want to stop having to watch what they say and think and just get "crazy," as Thomas Friedman would put it.
Trump's campaign is giving people permission to do just that. It's hard to say this word in conjunction with such a sexually unappealing person, but his message is a powerful aphrodisiac. Fuck everything, fuck everyone. Fuck immigrants and fuck their filthy lice-ridden kids. And fuck you if you don't like me saying so.
Those of us who think polls and primaries and debates are any match for that are pretty naive. America has been trending stupid for a long time. Now the stupid wants out of its cage, and Trump is urging it on. There are a lot of ways this can go wrong, no matter who wins in 2016.

For your consideration: The Deal an opinion by Noam Chomsky

here or