Class Warfare Blog

July 26, 2020

Those Death Panels . . .

Those “death panels” the Republican opponents of the Obamacare legislation warned us about have finally popped up . . . in the Republican state of Texas!

Texas hospital forced to set up ‘death panel’ as Covid-19 cases surge

 

February 9, 2020

I Have to Believe

Filed under: Politics — Steve Ruis @ 10:56 am
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In President Trump’s state of the union address, he singled out a school child from Philadelphia who was “trapped in a failing government school” and announced that the girl was at last getting a scholarship to attend the school of her choice. Ignoring for the moment that the term “government school” only has purchase with certain right-wing groups, it has now been made know, thanks to the Philadelphia Inquirer, that the young person under discussion has been a student in a charter school since September and that prior to that she had been in a private, for pay, Christian school (with a partial scholarship). In fact, she hadn’t been in a public school since kindergarten, and kindergartens are hard to describe as “failing government schools.”

So, I am not going to make the unnecessary claim that “The President lies!” yet again as that is unnecessary. The fascinating thing is that it is clear to me that the President did not find this young student all by himself. Someone on his staff must have orchestrated this. So, is that staffer: (a) incompetent, (b) trying to undermine the President with a set up that makes him look bad, or (c) doing exactly what is expected of him?

We all know what Mr. Trump does to people who fail to serve him as he desires, so (b) is unlikely. Option (a) is always on the table, but I think that Option (c) is the most likely explanation.

If you look at the scope of the President’s actions (not his comments, just his actions), I would suggest that maybe a few percent of those came from the President himself. The rest were created and served up by others, the enablers of Donald Trump, as it were. So, it is clear, at least to me, that the President has staff cooking up lies that are beyond his powers to create.

This has to be, just has to be, by design. As we rush about debunking fairy tales about a single Philadelphia school child, Trump’s minions are unraveling environmental regulations (CAFE standards, climate change regs, light bulbs, low flush toilets, is there anything too small to receive their attention?), banking regulations, food safety regulations, etc. I think in the future we will look back in horror at what this wrecking crew is accomplishing and the means by which they accomplished it.

Addendum When the Trump administration took over, they basically dumped all of the transition documents that had been created for them. This was an amateur move, of course, because those documents would have explained in great detail all of the things they wanted to dismantle and thus saved them a great deal of time and effort. In any case, the law requires the Trump administration to created such a process for its successor, either in about one year or five. Does anyone believe that (a) they will actually do that (their record as scofflaws is quite secure) or (b) if they actually do it, that it will help the next administration. It will be decades getting back to the point we were at before this wrecking crew swung the first wrecking ball.

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!

July 17, 2018

The Monty Pythonesque Administration

Comments have been flying fast and furious regarding the meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Comments ranges from:

One of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory,” Sen. John McCain’s description of the news conference.

to:

(What) the American people saw is that President Donald Trump will always put the prosperity and security of America first.” (VP Mike Pence)

That the two polarities, including the ones evinced here, are coming from Republicans; well at least this is new.

I am reminded of a Monty Python sketch, “Argument Clinic” from Monty Python’s Flying Circus, written by John Cleese and Graham Chapman. Graham Chapman enters the office of the Argument Clinic looking for a good argument. John Cleese complies but no matter what is said to him, his response is “No, it is not.” or “No, you didn’t. (I am working from memory here, so if I am off on the details, no problem, it is the gist of the sketch I am getting at.)

Finally the paying customer complains that they were not having a proper argument as Cleese was just gainsaying everything sent his way. Cleese’s response was “No, I’m not.” No resolution occurs because they run out of their allotted time.

This, apparently, is the Republican strategy to run the Oval Office. No matter what anyone says, the answer is “No. it is not.” or “You are wrong.” If someone quotes sources, the response is “Fake news!” No matter what happens, the first things out of their mouths are outrageous lies.

Backing all of this up is Fox (sic) News propaganda machine and the various Internet “news” sites who back Trump’s version of reality. As a consequence, we have a significant portion of the American polity who believe Mr. Trump’s version of reality. Hell, quite a few of them even believe Mr. Trump is a Christian, all evidence to the contrary. (Jesus said it is okay to grab women by the pussy, if you are famous. Two Corinthians 6:66)

Then the talking heads lump it all together as us being a “Divided Nation,” as if we were the cause and not the lying, mealy mouthed politicians.

Mr. Trump is transforming American politics … and you are not going to like what you get. Whoever is in power just has to tell “the people” things that back up their performance (e.g. “The GDP has doubled on my watch.” DJT … when it has gone up 6% at most.) and then their propaganda machine goes into action to back it up or muddy the waters to make it seem that opinion is divided on the truth of that statement. (“After all, they will say anything to “prove” their point.” (stated by both sides).)

So, okay, conservatives. You have seen the way the Republicans have acted when they got back into power (and even before, refusing to address the nomination of a Supreme Court justice, for over a year). What will the country be like when the liberals get into power (the pendulum always swings back) … if they follow the same play book? Are you going to like it? Are you?

Or would you rather have the old, dull, grind it out politics that served us fairly well for quite some time. You know, the one in which if someone were caught in a massive lie they were expected to resign. (Compare Richard Nixon (then) and the still Senator David Vitter (now). You know Senator Vitter, the family values Republican who was a frequent client of the D.C. Madam’s whorehouse.)

March 5, 2017

The Man Who Cried Wolf

Filed under: Politics — Steve Ruis @ 11:14 am
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I read yesterday that Donald Trump had accused Barack Obama of “wire tapping” his offices in New York City before the presidential election in November last year, claiming the former president had overseen a “Nixon/Watergate”-style caper.

The idea is not particularly absurd but with some thought, no, it is absurd. Since Mr. Trump bleats out everything he is thinking on line, why go to the trouble of tapping his phones?

What this brought to mind more importantly was the fairy tale of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” These “children’s stories” were designed as training aids to teach kids the kinds of behaviors that will get them into trouble and which will get them out. If you can recall this one, a mischievous child cries “Wolf, wolf” a number of times just to get a reaction. The adults who respond each time with axes and pitchforks soon came to ignore the child’s cries as being bogus, and when a real wolf showed up, well it didn’t end well. The moral of the story, kids, is to not make false claims and thus lose credibility. If you do, no one will believe when you make a true claim.the-boy-who-cried-wolf

Fast forward to Mr. Trump and you can see my concern. He has made such a number of false claims, the reasons for which I will leave up to others, that a time will come when he will be frequently ignored or patronized (Oh, that’s just Donald being Donald.”). But we play the part of the alarmed villagers in the fairy tale, not the childish shepherd. And rather than the child being at risk from a single wolf, we all may be at risk from a rather larger predator.

Many are noticing that Mr. Trump’s penchant for making false claims and the Republican’s ideological disdain for facts that do not fit their narratives undermines the foundations of the American Democratic Experiment. As Sam Harris says, “We either have conversation or violence.” And conversation is impossible if neither side in an argument can accept the “facts” of the other. One can only converse productively when looking at the same facts, which can be interpreted differently but not made to disappear.

We can now add to this a concern that Mr. Trump may soon become “unbelievable” to a large fraction of the populace and not in a good, yuge way.

January 25, 2017

Why Lies Matter

Apparently our “intelligence agencies” are concerned with the frequency with which President Trump tells obvious lies, you know the kind of lie that is so obviously a lie that even Fox (sic) News admits it. The reason that the intelligence agencies (Fedburin, CIA, NSA, etc.) are concerned is that they need us to believe their lies when they have the President deliver them. What good is a president to them when a majority of people in the U.S. have no faith in whatever he says. They need presidential credibility to sell their future lies and that has to be built up over time.

December 13, 2016

Can We Ever Trust Our Institutions/Agencies Again … Even a Little Bit

This gets curiouser and curiouser. I recent blogged about the “Russian conspiracy” regarding manipulations of our elections (by leaking DNC emails to Wikileaks) and in part I said “I do not accept these assertions at face value as the sources are untrustworthy, but if more details were provided there might be something here.” and “The whole purpose of Wikileaks is to provide a place to “leak” information that cannot be traced back to you, even by Wikileaks itself, so it will be interesting to find out how we learned that the Russian government was responsible for things being leaked to Wikileaks.”

I then learned from my partner’s tech-savvy son, that all of the “protections” Wikileaks was supposed to offer leakers just never got implemented, so it is relatively easy to find out who sent what to whom, so my criticism of the report on that account is unsupported.

But, then … The Guardian (U.K.) reports that: “… WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange directly denies that he received the Democratic leaked emails from the Russian government and one of his associates, former British Ambassador Craig Murray, told the U.K. Guardian that he knows who “leaked” the Democratic emails and that there never was a “hack,” i.e. an outside electronic penetration of an email account.”

So, a presumably reliable ex-British ambassador claims to know that the docs were not hacked but leaked from the inside. Plus a group of former U.S. intelligence experts is backing up this claim “All signs point to leaking, not hacking. If hacking were involved, the National Security Agency would know it – and know both sender and recipient.” The CIA only points to “circumstantial evidence,” not any hard identifications. So, the CIA is claiming “the Russians did it” for what purpose?

I do not know whether we have ever had reliable news organizations. If we did, they certainly were not immune to lies and misconceptions. It just seems now that there are just lies and misconceptions being reported. It also seems that government agencies, like the CIA, have so many narratives they wouldn’t know the truth if it bit them in the ass.

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