Class Warfare Blog

May 19, 2020

Mr. Trump’s Administration (sic)

I have said quite a few times that President Trump is neither smart enough nor aware enough to receive credit or blame for many of the actions taken by “his administration.” He is responsible for his own actions and his own appointments, however, which are highlighted in these excerpts from Watchdog Was Investigating Pompeo for Arms Deal and Staff Misuse Before Firing  by Julian Borger in The Guardian (U.K.) today.

“The government watchdog who was fired last week had been investigating the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, for sidestepping Congress to approve arms sales to the Gulf and using staffers for personal errands, according to congressional sources.

“Donald Trump declared his intention to fire the state department inspector general, Steve Linick, in a letter sent to the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, late on Friday night. The White House said the decision was taken at Pompeo’s advice.”

“In his letter on Friday, announcing Linick’s dismissal, Trump said he no longer had full confidence in him. On Monday, he said he had never heard of Linick before being asked to fire him.

“’I don’t know him. Never heard of him,’ Trump said. ‘But they asked me to terminate him. I have the absolute right as president to terminate. I said who appointed him, and they say: President Obama. I said: look I’ll terminate him.’”

Mr. Trump has the ultimate defense against impeachment . . . “too stupid to know what he was doing.”

May 9, 2020

John Adams . . . Prophet?

Filed under: History,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 8:36 am
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Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. It is in vain to say that democracy is less vain, less proud, less selfish, less ambitious, or less avaricious than aristocracy or monarchy. It is not true, in fact, and nowhere appears in history. Those passions are the same in all men, under all forms of simple government, and when unchecked, produce the same effects of fraud, violence, and cruelty.” (Emphasis mine. SR)
John Adams (1735 – 1826), who was one of the more conservative Founding Fathers, written in a letter to John Taylor dated December 17, 1814

Donald Trump

Vain . . . Check!

Proud . . . Check!

Selfish . . . Check!

Ambitious . . . Check!

Avaricious . . . Check!

Maybe the extremist evangelicals are correct, maybe these are the End Times, the end times for our democracy

April 14, 2020

The Transmogrification of Donald Trump

Filed under: Politics,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 12:35 pm
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I saw a bit of an interview with Donald Trump from 40 years ago. He was almost demur; he spoke in whole, coherent, well-thought out sentences. He stayed on topic and the topic was something other than himself. When I compare that performance (he seemed to always be performing rather than just being) with his performance in his “news conference” yesterday, it is hard to claim that this version of Donald Trump is the same man.

I think a fair campaign ad for the Democrats would be to alternate clips of Trump speaking in 1980 and in 2020. Anyone who could ignore the onset of dementia that obvious is not going to be convinced that Mr. Trump is not fit for the presidency by any evidence whatsoever. They are evidence proof, which is why his almost total support amongst evangelicals is so obvious. They have been in training to be evidence proof for most of their lives.

February 24, 2020

Why the “Bernie’s a Socialist! Bernie’s a Socialist! Campaign Will Fail

Quite a few establishment defenders are claiming that if Bernie Sanders is nominated by the Democrats to run for president, that the GOP will wage war based upon Bernie being a Socialist! A Commie! and wipe the floor with him.

That approach really would have worked in this were the 1950’s or the 1960’s, maybe even the 1970’s. Back them everyone knew that capitalism was the best system and the USA was the champion at capitalism. (U . . . S. . .. A . . . U . . . S. . .. A . . . !) But right now, there are huge swaths of this country who have been decimated numerous times by “capitalism.” For example, the big banks caused the largest economic recession in the history of the world in 2008 and who gets bailed out by the capitalist government of the U.S.? Answer: the big banks, which are now bigger than when they were just “too big to let fail.” ordinary people lost their homes and jobs in the millions.

So, the old aversion to socialism is just not there. Conservatives seem to conflate socialism with communism, which is why they are the same thing but have different names . . . ? If Bernie were a communist, he might have a problem.

Bernie is not even really a socialist. A more accurate categorization would be he is a social democrat. I think Bernie has clung to his self-description as “a socialist,” which he might have been at one time but is not now, because it is a clear way to say “I am not like those other politicians.” This will actually help him in the general election.

Think about this. when Donald Trump entered the race for the GOP nomination (with the other dozen and a half plus candidates) how many people thought his chances at the nomination were “good” or even “possible”? If you think back, most people, even while enthralled by the chaos and hijinks of his campaign, thought his chances of getting the nomination were “slim to none.” But win the nomination he did and then, what did people think his chances were of winning the general election against a seasoned, experienced campaigner like Hillary Clinton? Most thought he had no chance, his campaign was too disorganized (at least it appeared to be so). But Ms. Clinton couldn’t have been a more stalwart defender of the status quo and she lost.

If the Dems were to nominate another icon of the status quo, Joe Biden maybe, they would lose again. But if Bernie and Mr. Trump go head to head, who do you think will capture the “anti-status quo” vote this time? Mr. Trump often tackles the status quo but in strange ineffective ways that maybe affect one at the gut level, but don’t really effect positive changes. Bernie promises changing the status quo in favor of the down trodden. He has all of the favoritism Mr. Trump has bestowed upon the rich (tax cuts, environment deregulation, oil drilling leases on public lands, etc.) and the well connected (pardons for his friends, loosen rules for his friends, etc.) to show that Mr. Trump has proven that he has no poor or even middle class friends and that we can expect no favoritism from him.

Bernie is not some shy, wilting flower that will wither under a Trump attach. If Trump thunders “Bernie’s a socialist!” Bernie will respond, “Yes, and you are a liar and you are fat. So what?” End of controversy.

Hint: Trump already has locked up all of the voters who would not vote for a milquetoast socialist, so the Bernie is a Socialist! Campaign will win him no new voters.

December 5, 2019

Well, Now They Know

Filed under: Politics — Steve Ruis @ 7:45 am
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In the news was this: “A furious Donald Trump cut short his attendance at the NATO summit in London after a group of leaders, including Boris Johnson, was caught on video ridiculing the US president at Buckingham Palace for staging lengthy press conferences.” (Source: The Guardian)

So now they know how to get rid of them. Next time there is a confab, don’t be surprised if they don’t stage the Trump chit chat right at the beginning, giving them the hope of having a productive meeting, without the Great Disruptor.

The cardinal rules of politics include “never let them see you sweat,” and “never let them know what your real motivations are.” Since Trump is only a politician by definition, he is unaware of these things. Interestingly, the same principles apply to high-level business, which shows that Trump is only a businessman by definition also.

August 22, 2019

What Motivates Trump’s Supporters?

Like many of you, I felt that the primary motivation of Trump voters was the economic stagnation of the middle class and middle America. The elites were getting richer, hand over fist, while we were getting squeezed by employers and creditors, and that left us with the only option of getting mad. That may not have been the primary motivation, however. This a “must read” article from The Guardian.

A New Poll Shows What Really Interests ‘Pro-Lifers’: Controlling Women by Jill Filipovic.

The subtitle is “According to their own survey responses, anti-abortion voters are hostile to gender equality in practically every aspect” (I assume they meant “every respect” at the end there.)

And, of course, at the source of all of this misogyny? Well, you figure it out.

August 6, 2019

Make America Hate Again

Donald Trump has encouraged certain collective hatreds in this country, but he didn’t invent them. I think there are two interconnect streams of influence in the rise of hate in this country.

The Republican Party (Before Trump)
If you look back at the Republican Party over the past 50 years or so (and their enablers, e.g. conservative intellectuals, etc.), you will find that they have been mining pools of the country’s hate the whole time. After the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, the South became much less Democrat and far more Republican. It wasn’t that the Democrats didn’t have their own racists (look up the Dixiecrats, if you need an example) but politicians down South voted with their feet and the GOP embraced them with open arms. Reagan’s “Southern Strategy” is another example and there are many, many more.

In addition, Republicans launched a propaganda campaign against the “liberal media” sowing distrust in people’s information sources and then embraced their own biased media in the form of Rush Limbaugh on the radio and Fox “News” on TV (should have been named Faux News). This wasn’t possible until the act requiring balance when using the public airwaves was repealed, under Reagan (of course). The whole campaign was a smear campaign because evaluations of the media showed no such glaring bias, but when it appears that when “facts have a clear liberal bias” is used as a criterion, I can see how they arrived at their conclusion.

Then another propaganda program was advanced by the same crew to turn “liberal” into an epithet, which it is today. This is why the term “progressive” was resurrected, after having fallen into disuse, as a replacement for liberal. Anyone calling themselves a progressive today would have called themselves a liberal thirty years ago.

The Republican Party selling its soul to Trump became easier because of the practice they got in selling it for “winning.”

The Internet
Enabling hate to grow, as if in an incubator, was caused by the ability of people to publish anonymously on the Internet. The incredible growth of that medium (being used to create this post, right now!) has short circuited the social approbation of public displays of hatred and prejudice. Where we used to shame those who said such things in polite company, now they are blared at high volume on the Internet by anonymous speakers and no shaming conduit is available.

And the Collateral Damage . . .
What is being lost is the absolutely required continual promotion of public virtue. The Grand American Experiment in ruling ourselves (instead of letting the rich elites continue to lord it over us) requires each and every one of us to balance our individual interests with our collective interests. Each citizen needs to think about our collective welfare simultaneously with his individual welfare and strike a balance between the two. This needs to be explained to each generation and promoted and reinforced continuously. We are losing this battle as the wealthy elites promote individualism over collectivism. In fact they are executing a propaganda campaign besmirching collectivism as I write this. They, of course, go to extremes by arguing that “big government” wants to make all of the decisions, therefore collectivism bad, very bad! These people, who are all in favor of more and more spending on the military make arguments like “its your money, the government (aka “us” collectively) shouldn’t be confiscating it (in taxes).” They do indeed want it both ways and seem to have no shame in arguing this way.

As our civic virtue goes, so goes the republic.

May 19, 2019

Hello? What About the Emoluments Clause?

Filed under: Politics — Steve Ruis @ 12:11 pm
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When he issued a subpoena week before last, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal said he was seeking six years of President Trump’s personal and business tax returns to aid a committee investigation into whether the IRS was doing its job properly in auditing a sitting president and whether the law governing such audits needed to be strengthened.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin denied the “request” saying that the subpoena was “unprecedented” and “lacks a legitimate legislative purpose.”

Hello?

First of all, the Treasury Secretary does not have a say in this. He does get to decide whether a congressional subpoena is appropriate or not. The law simply says such returns will be provided upon being subpoenaed.

Second, audits? WTF? What about the emoluments clause of the Constitution, also called the foreign emoluments clause, which is a provision of the U.S. Constitution (Article I, Section 9, Paragraph 8) that generally prohibits federal officeholders from receiving any gift, payment, or other thing of value from a foreign state or its rulers, officers, or representatives? If Mr. Trump has been making money off of his presidency, and he apparently has, and the sources of those funds are foreign, wouldn’t his tax returns show that income? Wouldn’t this be a way for Congress to exercise its oversight responsibilities as no other body has that responsibility?

Hey, they got Al Capone on tax fraud, didn’t they? Might work again!

May 10, 2019

Trump’s Business Losses

Filed under: Business,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 12:22 pm
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The New York Times is reporting that IRS records show Donald Trump’s businesses lost approximately $1.15 billion dollars during the decade from 1985 to 1994. That sounds like a lot of money and was. But it is not in current terms. I picked the year 1990 at the center of this period as a form of averaging and used an inflation calculator to convert those dollars into what they would be today.

In today’s dollars, Trump’s losses would be . . . wait for it . . . wait for it . . .

$2,240,000,000.

This raises schadenfreude to whole new levels!

January 6, 2019

As an Authoritarian Trump is a Piker

Filed under: Culture,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 1:42 pm
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You really have to go to the church to find real authoritarians. Take for example Pope Pius IX. I quote from a fascination book Prisoner of the Vatican: The Popes, the Kings, and Garibaldi’s Rebels in the Struggle to Rule Modern Italy, by David I. Kertzer (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Kindle Edition).

“In December 1864, as part of his effort to combat liberalism, the pope issued what may well be the most controversial papal document of modern times, the encyclical Quanta cura, with an accompanying Syllabus of Errors. While the encyclical itself received relatively little attention, the Syllabus— listing the eighty propositions associated with modern life that no good Catholic could subscribe to— was another story. It held that no Catholic could believe in freedom of speech, freedom of the press, or freedom of religion. Catholics were forbidden to believe that the pope could live without a state of his own or that there could be a separation of church and state. The last proposition attracted the most attention, for it rejected the view that ‘the Roman Pontiff can and should reconcile himself to progress, liberalism, and modern civilization.’”

“The pope soon followed this gathering with a much more ambitious event, summoning all of the world’s bishops and cardinals for a grand Ecumenical Council. The first such council to be held in Rome in over 350 years, it had two goals: to endorse the Syllabus and with it the pope’s condemnation of the modern age, and to sanctify the principle— not previously an official part of Church doctrine—that the pope was infallible.”

Old Pius IX got his infallibility … by vote (although he threatened to proclaim it himself if it were not voted in).  but it was somewhat truncated only to Ex Cathedra pronouncements and so didn’t include encyclicals like Quanta cura.

Can you imagine The Donald proclaiming himself infallible and publishing a list of what Real Americans must believe? I can imagine it but that would be quickly followed by the appearance of a straightjacket as Mr. Trump was being lead away.

“It held that no Catholic could believe in freedom of speech, freedom of the press, or freedom of religion.” Amazing. We were still licking our wounds from the Civil War so I suspect that U.S. citizens barely noticed and it does make some sense of the bias against Catholics felt in various parts of this country.

Oh, and Pius IX was all for religious tolerance … for Catholics … but not for anyone else and stated so outright. His point was that the One True Church™ should not be treated like all of the imposters.

They just don’t make authoritarians like they used to.

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