Class Warfare Blog

July 17, 2018

The White House Reality Show

Quite a while ago, my partner and I became foster parents of a girl who was born with seven illegal drugs in her body. It is not nice to be born, which has to be traumatic, as none of us can remember it, and then to immediately go through detox. In any case, the young lady in question had neither sympathy or empathy for any other person as a psychological byproduct of her deplorable treatment by her parents. They just weren’t there in her psyche to be called upon. (She is all grown now and on her own and doing spectacularly well, a testament to a vast army of people who stepped up the plate for her … and her own determination to make a life for herself.)

One night over a quiet dinner, she blurted out “Hey, I’m not getting enough attention.” This is something someone who is very self-absorbed might say (I’d never heard it uttered before or since).

I believe this is the situation for Donald Trump, the FPOTUS. It seems that he isn’t bright enough to have his own ideas or even to significantly process the ideas of other people. Some say he used to be bright but has slipped significantly as he aged. That remains to be seen, but right now, he is as bright as a bag of rocks.

He also seems to be quite narcissistic and he seems to be governed personally by a drive to get attention to he, himself, and him. So, he goes into a NATO meeting (NATO, not Nato) and instead of playing along with the show for the rubes as everyone else does, he throws a rock while in a glass house. From this, he gets a great deal of attention.

And for people craving attention, there is no such thing as “bad attention.” Ordinary people do not aspire to becoming the “baddest dude in town.”

The same can be said for his meeting with Putin in Finland (which our FPOTUS mistook for a NATO ally). He pokes the bear (US politicians, the FBI, our intelligence “communities,” and public opinion) and doesn’t poke the bear (Russia) and gets a huge amount of attention.

And, what does this all mean?

Well, this is the frightening thing. As far as I can tell, to Mr. Trump it doesn’t mean anything. He made some personal appearances. He got “yuge crowds” in Great Britain and his picture on the front page of every newspaper in Europe and most of the rest of the world. The Russian press is asking about how the new U.S-Russia agreement will work (WTF?) and we are all pulling our hair out. And, for Mr. Trump, it was “did a few things, got a lot of attention, all in all a good week.”

The amazing thing is how many Republicans line up to suck the FPOTUS’s dick. Apparently Trump is giving them enough cover so they do all of their dastardly deeds almost unnoticed, like passing a bill in the House that withholds federal funds for adoptions in states where gay couples are allowed to adopt, you know, important work like that. Oh, and stacking the federal judiciary with knuckle dragging reactionaries and neoliberals and there are so many positions to fill since they blocked so many of them while Obama was President, then they changed the rules so the Dems couldn’t block their nominees. (Fair play is for suckers, don’t you know.)


July 12, 2018

What I am Waiting to Hear

Filed under: Politics — Steve Ruis @ 11:36 am
Tags: , , , ,

Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, defended her country’s role in NATO, after a verbal attack by U.S. President Donald Trump on both NATO and Germany’s role in it.

What I am waiting for is someone of Mrs. Merkel’s status responding by saying “Response? I have no response. I do not respond to comments made by someone who says whatever is on top of his head at the moment, no matter how poorly thought out or incoherent those thoughts are.”

Agents of Chaos, like President Trump, always put people on their heels, making them feel they must defend themselves or their positions. This is a common approach of bullies.

The best response is a) laughter (Oh, the foolish things he just blurts out! or Does he ever think before speaking?) and b) ridicule (Maybe we need to set up a Children’s Table for some of our more impetuous members to sit at.). Responding as if the comments were serious, were well-thought out, were well-motivated, as one is most often called upon to do, will just not do when under attack by a bully. You will just end up spending all your time defending yourself from mostly false claims and getting nothing real done. And, you will muddy the waters as to the true nature of the situation being defended.

July 9, 2018

The Truth About Tariffs

Filed under: Economics,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 1:27 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I ran across a Wisconsin cheese maker (Jim Sartori, chief executive of Sartori Cheese) making this comment recently:
“I’m not an expert but I have never found an example where tariffs have been used as an effective trade policy.”

Yep, he is not an expert.

Now, please note at the start, I am not supporting President Trump’s trade tariffs, quite the contrary. Throwing tariffs around like a drunken sailor, imposing them on former enemies, long time allies, and random other countries makes no sense at all. There is no defense for his actions whatsoever. The supposed justification, that we are being played like chumps surrounding trade, is ludicrous on the surface and ludicrous all of the way down. If anything, we have been the trade bullies extraordinaire (in our historical time). Ask Hawaii about being a trade bully. The U.S. government got behind some rapacious pineapple farmers and staged a coup to make their business efforts more successful. Hawaii was a sovereign nation, and then we “annexed” it. (That is government speak for invaded and overthrew the rightful government.)

But “tariffs as an effective trade policy” Holy moly! Tariffs have been the primary positive factor in creating all of the major global economies existent. I can’t think of a country’s economy that got to any size without a strong program of tariffs.

Mainstream economists, you know the deluded kind, have pushed the “law of comparative advantage” for ages. According to this law, an undeveloped country is better off selling a developed country its raw materials and then buying back the goods manufactured by the more developed country, paid for from the receipts from the sale of their natural resources. Everyone sticks to what they are good at. Sounds sensible, doesn’t it? Of course, the economists don’t point out that using their own concepts, the “value added” to the raw materials makes the manufactured goods more expensive than the raw materials and the less developed country cannot afford much of the good stuff. It also means that the less developed countries will never have the capacity to make their own stuff as the other countries are always better at what they need done. This is exactly the way the developed economies want it; no more competition please. All of you undeveloped stay just the way you are, please.

Take, as an example, the Japanese car industry. Japan makes as many cars now as any other country does (save China I believe) and is notorious for their quality. But right after World War 2, they had hardly any industrial capacity at all, because most of what they had had been bombed into dust. If they had taken the economists advice, they never would have gotten their car companies going because other countries made them better and more efficiently than they could right after World War 2. But the Japanese were smart, they realized that all great economies developed from protected roots and they protected their nascent car companies until they could stand on their own feet. Now they are preeminent, all because of the protects of tariffs.

An Aside I have to mention that when the Japanese started making a dent in our car market, we imposed tariffs on them. When we put a tariff on the prices of the cars, they shipped a zillion inexpensive, yet good quality cars in and they sold like hot cakes. Then we imposed a limit on the number of cars they could import here, and they instead started selling luxury cars in large numbers and making huge profits. It is ad it the U.S. didn’t learn anything from the soviets regarding running a controlled economy. End of Aside

Sometimes the Japanese protected native industries like rice growing because they do not want to be dependent upon others for this important staple. Other times their tariffs were to protect growing industries, just like everyone else.

Pay attention, people, every country does this! It is only sensible. It should be standard economic theory, except that the economists and the economics curriculum has been bought and paid for by plutocrats.

Still, what Trump is doing is incoherent, a wailing against the wind, and will be shown to be very ineffective … and then Trump will blame Obama. If he had a better thought out plan, the Wisconsin cheese makers wouldn’t be quaking in their boots right now as the tariffs being imposed upon us are not in the same areas that Trump’s tariffs are: they are in areas very sensitive to Mr. Trump’s base, so mainstream America, brace for the impact of Mr. Trump’s tariffs; they won’t be felt by Mr. Trump but they will be felt by you.


December 10, 2017

Why Is Trump After Mueller?

Filed under: Politics — Steve Ruis @ 10:16 am
Tags: , , ,

The Guardian is currently running a piece under the title of A Battle for Public Opinion: Trump Goes to War over Mueller and Russia by David Smith in Washington and Ben Jacobs in Pensacola, Florida. The subtitle is “In recent days, the right-wing media and Trump loyalists have been scrambling to discredit the special counsel and smear his Russia inquiry as a liberal plot.”

But Mr. Trump has repeatedly claimed there is “no there there” regarding the investigation. So, if Mr. Mueller finds as Mr. Trump claims, that there was no collusion between himself and/or his minions with Russia to rig the election, he also wants that finding to be under a cloud? WTF?

There is no way to parse this definitively. Mr. Trump is acting as if there were “some there there” and he wants the investigation stopped before finding it. Or one could argue, that Mr. Trump is so facile in making up “facts,” that he projects onto Mr. Mueller the same behavior and fears what he might make up. Or, there actually is something there and Mr. Trump doesn’t want it found. Or Mr. Trump’s primary purpose is to keep the plates spinning in a novelty act while the real Republicans dismantle the New Deal while voters like you and me are chasing the laser point dot of Mr. Trump’s mind. Or …

One has to ask what Mr. Mueller’s motives would be to count coup on a sitting president using drummed up charges. Mr. Mueller is no liberal per se (U.S. Attorney + Deputy Attorney General (under G.W. Bush) + Director of the FBI (under G.W. Bush) + confirmed unanimously by the Senate + liberal = a political unicorn?). He has a solid reputation as a prosecutor which would be besmirched were he to fake such a prosecution. His epitaphs would all start with such a scandal. What possible benefit would Mr. Mueller earn by making such a “hit?”

Also, Mr. Trump hasn’t shown much, if any, subtlety or savviness in his business dealings or in politics. His approach is typically a blunt force approach of always looking for a bigger hammer to bludgeon his opponents with.

I guess we will just have to stay tuned. I am inclined to await something happening, because too much destruction is being wreaked upon our public lands, tax codes, and protective regulations by one hand of the GOP, while the other, Mr. Trump, makes gesticulations that are mere distractions.



December 9, 2017

Why All the Angst Over the Trump-Russia Investigation?

Filed under: Politics — Steve Ruis @ 12:46 pm
Tags: , , ,

We have had only a few months of this investigation, one into whether a foreign power, Russia, significant affected the outcome of our most recent presidential election, and whether there was any collusion on the part of Americans in that effort.

Just this one investigation. Why all of the fuss?

Okay, there was a House Intelligence Committee hearing, but that hardly qualifies as an investigation. Compare this with the recent seven (count ‘em, seven!) full investigations into the “Benghazi Incident” which took place over a three year period. (I do not use the term “Benghazi Scandal” as no scandal was proven. I leave that to “non fake-news” channels like Fox (sic) News.) These, by the way do not count, the Department of State’s investigation (in-house, so always suspect) and the Pentagon’s investigation.

Benghazi Investigation 1:
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
Benghazi Investigation 2:
The Senate Committee On Homeland Security And Governmental Affairs
Benghazi Investigation 3:
The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
Benghazi Investigation 4:
The House Committee on Foreign Affairs
Benghazi Investigation 5:
The House Committee on the Judiciary
Benghazi Investigation 6:
The House Committee on Armed Services
Benghazi Investigation 7:
The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

Could the difference be that those were generated by Republicans trying to discredit a Democratic administration? And those were, to some extent, bipartisan (although the GOP often denied information and decision sharing to Democrats). This Russia investigation is entirely sponsored by the GOP. So, is this based upon not having Democrats to blame for “fake news” or “false facts?”

One of the principles of defense attorneys is to make sure their clients do not “act guilty.” President Trump claims there is nothing there to discover, so should he not just relax and appear to be not worried? As someone who is known to make up facts of his choosing, is he projecting this ability on to others and is therefore worried when he shouldn’t be? Or . . .

The good thing about soap operas is you can ignore them for weeks and then drop in and feel as if you haven’t missed a thing. This has that feel.







November 6, 2017

More NRA Bullshit

The latest mass shooting (in a Texas church), we are told by an NRA representative, is not about “the guns” but about mental health.

Certainly, imagine how much more destruction he could have spread had he been armed with a rolling pin, or even a steak knife. We should bless our lucky stars he only had guns.

Oh, the NRA spokesman? That would be Donald J. Trump, sitting POTUS. Just how many strikes do you get before you are out in this game?

September 5, 2017

Donald Trump Lies for Reasons, People

Filed under: Politics — Steve Ruis @ 8:59 am
Tags: , , ,

People spend an inordinate amount of time pointing out that Donald Trump is a liar. (No, duh.) But that misses the point. Yes, Donald Trump is a liar. He has a proven track record of being a liar and lied throughout his campaign, so why on Earth did we think that becoming president would miraculously change Mr. Trump into someone who honors the truth above all else. Our incredulousness should be directed at ourselves, not Mr. Trump.

“The real question is who is he lying for and what is the real message?”

The real question is who is he lying for and what is the real message? Evangelical Christians lie all of the time and it is not a mark against their character in their community because they are lying for a reason. (They are persecuted, don’t you know! So, lying for Jesus is no sin.) Anyone who lies on their behalf is not seen as someone with a character defect but as a warrior on their side. The same can be said for Trump’s business lies “A reduction in corporate taxes will increase worker’s wages!” Now, there is a big lie and all business-savvy people know that. The last time there was such a tax reduction, during G.W.’s reign, the money was used to buy back stock (thus bolstering CEO pay), it was used to pay stock dividends, and it piled up as cash reserves. No part of  what they gained from the tax decrease was used to increase wages or even to expand productive capacity. This proposal is just another form of the “trickle down economics” lie that has been tried repeatedly but never once shown to work. (It keeps getting told because corporate interests have bought up the media, enough of the economists, etc.)

“Think about who benefits from such lies (beside Mr. Trump, that is a given).
This is the equivalent of the political dictum to ‘follow the money.’”

When Mr. Trump lies for his business cronies (they know this is a lie) he doesn’t lose character points, he gets “high fives” from corporate CEOs for lying for them.

So, wake up people! Stopped being shocked that Mr. Trump still lies, instead be shocked that you are shocked. Then think about who benefits from such lies (beside Mr. Trump, that is a given). This is the equivalent of the political dictum to “follow the money.”

August 8, 2017

So What?

There is a major climate change report out (and it ain’t good news) that is awaiting approval by various agencies. The draft document has been leaked to the NY Times, if not other sources, and in a NYT report the following was stated: “The E.P.A. is one of 13 agencies that must approve the report by Aug. 18. The agency’s administrator, Scott Pruitt, has said he does not believe that carbon dioxide is a primary contributor to global warming.”

“The agency’s administrator, Scott Pruitt, has said he does not believe that carbon dioxide is a primary contributor to global warming.” Interesting. My response is “So what?”

Is Mr. Pruitt even qualified to have such an opinion? Let’s see … Mr. Pruitt was trained as a lawyer before he went into politics. Well, he might have specialized in environmental law, so … according to Wikipedia Mr. Pruitt “entered into private practice in Tulsa where he specialized in constitutional law, contracts, insurance law, labor law, and litigation and appeals.” Hmmm, no mention of environmental law. Maybe he has undertaken an extensive review of the scientific literature on climate change, you know, read a few thousand journal articles, attended conferences, that kind of thing? Anybody got a guess as to how likely that was? Yeah, I came up with zero percent, too. He has no training, has put in no study, so he knows squat of that which he judges.

Mr. Pruitt has no basis for his opinion other than political ideology, so his opinion is irrelevant at best. I suggest he may be making the same mistake as the Kim Davis of 15-minute fame. She confused her job as one of exercising her personal judgment instead of determining whether all laws were complied with in the issuance of a marriage license. Mr. Pruitt may think that his opinion has merit. It does not. His job is to ascertain whether departmental protocols were followed in the creation of the report, and if so, sign the damned thing.

Apparently President Trump also has an opinion … <sigh> … okay, Mr. Trump was trained, er, graduated from the Wharton School of Business at the U. of Pennsylvania….

April 11, 2017

You May Want the Federal Government Run Like a Business But Do You Want It Run Like One of His Businesses?

A common GOP trope now is that the federal government, all governments really, should be run like businesses. This idea is quite silly but has caught on because of the general dissatisfaction with government, something brought about by a propaganda campaign against the government by the GOP. Interesting gambit that: drum up general discontent creating a climate for the solution you favor. (Can you spell Nazis, boys and girls?) Their solution, by the way, is not running government as a business but running government for business.

As a little experiment, list all of Mr. Trump’s executive orders and then force each of them into one of two categories: 1) good for the people (makes the government better or stronger) or 2) good for business owners. This, of course, is a false dichotomy as many of these things will ultimately prove to be bad for both, but just doing this will take the temperature of the current administrations actions. (Actually, most of the EOs are symbolic in nature and at the beginning of long paths to implementation of anything, but that is another topic.)

Back to my main topic. Mr. Trump runs his businesses by squeezing labor by employing undocumented immigrants, avoiding union contracts, etc. and by squeezing those who are in agreements with him: local governments all the way down to the vendors serving his businesses. He also uses the courts to create advantages for himself: for every bankruptcy he has actually begun, he has threatened many more. He has threatened to sue people so many times that he could be the senior partner in a law firm. When one has considerable capital and can hire lawyers, nuisance lawsuits provide a lot of leverage over people for whom the legal costs are ruinous or at least damaging. And, I do not think he could threaten bankruptcy for the federal government, but he could create economic chaos through government shutdowns, debt defaults, etc. All of these are the high drama, high profile scenarios Mr. Trump favors as his business style.

Businesses owners are often casual at best toward the externalities of their businesses. Externalities are the physical “commons” we all share responsibility for. So, historically, businesses have dumped their wastes into the air, into the water, and onto the land with no thought of taking responsibility for the problems those waste “disposal” processes create. Did businesses lead the charge to clean up our waterways? our air? our waste disposal sites? If you are old enough, you remember that the “business community” fought these actions tooth and nail and are still doing this. It was government that lead the charge. (I remind you the our governments are effectively “us” for the purpose of collective actions.)

It was government, especially the federal government, that passed things like the Clear Air Act and other sets of government regulations that have made our air quality far better than it used to be. When I was in the fifth grade on the San Francisco peninsula, I was sent home from school one day because of smog. LA was far worse as the SF peninsula was surrounded by water and had clearing winds. Such smog alerts no longer happen, thanks to government regulations. Then there was the regulation for unleaded gasoline to prevent lead poisoning (opposed by business), the regulation for unleaded paint to prevent lead poisoning, especially of children (opposed by business), the gas mileage standards (opposed by business), the acid rain regulations (opposed by business), … need I go on?

So, has Mr. Trump made us safer or healthier by his diktats? Let’s see, he has made it okay for coal companies to go back to dumping their toxic waster (laced with heavy metals, like mercury, etc.) back into streams, he has set aside higher gas mileage standards, he produced an EO that asks agencies to review any regulations that could “potentially burden the development or use” of oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy resources so that action could be taken to eliminate regulations. So much for wind and solar, who needs them and what’s a little pollution from coal power plants or nuclear ones; we can safely store radioactive waste, somewhere, we’ll figure it out. Doesn’t sound like a promising start, but then he did promise to “do away with burdensome federal regulations,” but not at any time being specific as to whom or what they are a burden.

So, if Mr. Trump’s Administration is being run like a business, who are the workers and who are the customers? If you are a worker, you will continue to be squeezed as that’s what Mr. Trump and his minions do in their businesses. Customers “buy” from a business, that is services or goods. If you pay taxes, then you are a customer. Do you expect better service? Mr. Trump has promised less of it (except military services and Homeland Security services). He has promised better service, but his budget proposal (actually Mr. Trump had almost nothing to do with the current budget proposal but it is traditional to attach the “ultimate cause” label to all presidents, so …), his budget proposal slashes services to “customers” right and left and then slashes the budgets of the agencies that are providing what remaining services there will be. How this equates to “better” is very hard to see.

So, do you think Mr. Trump is running the federal government as a business or for business? What do you think?

March 5, 2017

The Man Who Cried Wolf

Filed under: Politics — Steve Ruis @ 11:14 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

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.

Next Page »

Blog at