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THESE ARE OUR SAVIORS? SPARE US!

THESE ARE OUR SAVIORS? SPARE US!

It is interesting that people who hate government are so desperate to be involved in its epicenter. Thus we have Bennett of Utah and now Lugar of Indiana who are insufficiently right wing to cut the mustard, and must go – and have gone.

 Apparently the rationale of the far right wing is to get into government so that they can destroy it. There seems to be an attitude that government is inherently bad and that we must follow the constitution in order to defray its excesses, real or imagined. This view is the opposite of the view of the Founders who wrote the constitution and considered government to be a noble exercise of representative democracy, the central thread/rationale for having a government in the first place.

I am of the opinion that a lot of the line we hear from the right is false by design; that they care little of the real issues of the day (unemployment, international trade issues, the environment etc.), but use them very cynically for the purpose of effectuating their real design, which is to make the rich and corporate class richer with a view toward a form of a latter day feudalist state in which we are the vassals and corporations are (effectively) the state. I have blogged on this topic a couple of times to this effect.

Methodologies to make this happen include privatization efforts (designed to make profits and remove public control over public matters such as education, social security and other now government programs where lots of money is there for the taking). It is important in such a scheme of things that all such programs subject to privatization be trashed by pre-takeover propaganda about how  cost ineffective and un-American they are, how government cannot do anything right, and how private enterprise can come in on the white horse and save the day.

There are those of us who disagree with this cozy assessment; we have seen the bankrupt prone Trumps, Gilded Age trusts, the Enrons, Madoffs et al. and have witnessed firsthand the performances of those on the white horses in our recent bailouts of these intrepid horsemen, who never met an asset that could not be securitized.

These are our saviors? Spare us!

It appears that the role of government should properly be to bail out the rich but leave the poor and the veterans under the bridge in the far right wing’s philosophy of government. It seems to me that if the only real purpose of government is to serve as a blocking back for the rich ball carrier to make money, whatever the pretense and propaganda, then it is time to cancel the game. I, for one do not wish to participate in such a phony excuse for government, where money capital writes and enforces the rules ranging from sexual mores to the air we breathe. There are numerous and better options, and all involve an active engagement of the citizenry and a refusal to sell our public wealth and our futures as serfs serving a corporate culture.

 We should show corporate privatizers the gate and proceed to flesh out our own futures (financed in part by more equitable taxation rates – the latest outrage being that GE has paid an annualized rate of only 2.3% on its billions in profits over the last decade, a far less rate than many pay who are on food stamps)! Such disparities in financing America (among other things) must cease – now!  GERALD E

WHICH CHURCH OR STATE?

WHICH CHURCH OR STATE?

Religion has made great strides in interfering with matters of state since Reagan cynically invited Falwell, Sr. into his inner political chamber and Billy Graham gained special favor with multiple presidents. The trend has continued with the current occupant (Trump) who has cynically invited Falwell Jr. into his narcissistic other-world political chamber as well, marked by a speech given at Falwell’s Liberty University of recent date in a sort of Luciferian address to the College of Cardinals display of utter opposites – or are they? One has to question how ostensibly religious people can vote for an irreligious libertine, and I do. What’s going on behind the scenes in this lust for power to govern, whatever the appearances? We know “what’s in it for him?” for Trump, but “what’s in it for him” for Falwell et al.?

Perhaps the Falwells of this world wish to take over government just as cynically as the secular politicians and expected and still expect to get something for their support of the likes of Nixon, Bush Jr. and Trump. When politicians invite foxes into the henhouse with the real or implied invitation to mix matters of church and state, we should not be surprised when our government takes a turn to the right or whatever direction the religious leaders may decree. Foxes, whatever their calling cards, from the philosophy of the gentle Nazarene to the brute force of an Attila to Genghis Khan, eat chickens – and don’t let them tell you otherwise – while government in this metaphor can be safely defined as poultry.

So let’s take this essay in speculation a step further. If politicians are willing to unconstitutionally mix affairs of church and state for selfish political purposes, they and the rest of us may find our rights as citizens swallowed up by religion at some point and subject to some sort of theological dictatorship such as in Iran, where matters that have passed political muster must still be reviewed by ayatollahs before they can become law, so what’s next? To take this to its dry logical extreme, will Trump set up a Department of Theological Affairs and appoint Falwell as first director? Far out? Yes, but anything short of that may reach such an extreme point from where we are now that we will feel the emasculation of our constitutional rights, duties, privileges and immunities. Anywhere on the spectrum from here to  there is a move too far. Who elected Falwell to trash the First Amendment?

Finally, and to the point, if we are to surrender our secular constitutional rights to religion, just what religion will it be? Will we follow the hard right Protestant views of a Falwell regime? The vison of a Brigham Young and The Book of Mormon? The pill-less Mary Baker Eddy and her Christian Science? The single-minded vision of Jehovah’s Witnesses? The Wesley brothers? Which? Why?

Even if we let the foxes into our political henhouse without constitutional restraint, does anyone reading this think for a minute that this would end the church and state issue? I think quite the contrary, and though the primary issue of church and state will have been settled, the brawl would intensify between competing branches of religion to have their particular views become those of the nation.

I finally am of the view that mixing the affairs of church and state is not only unconstitutional but that as a practical matter we would invite mayhem into public affairs if we did allow such a mixture of the secular with the divine which, in my view, are oil and water. I think at bottom that religion or any of its branches based on doctrinal differences should stay in the church house, temple or mosque apart from government just as government should stay out of church houses, temples or mosques, since either and both are unconstitutional intrusions in the affairs of the other. I note here that Jesus was opposed to such a mixture with his reputed statement to “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s,” a clear sign of demarcation between the divine and the profane.

Oil and water cannot mix, nor can (successfully and historically) church and state. They are mutually exclusive aside from the unconstitutional effect of trying to shoehorn one into the other and we have more important things to do than waste our time and energy on this project, so let’s go to the church, temple or mosque of our choice or not and leave the matter of voting and policy-making to the state. As the saying goes, we can walk and chew gum at the same time, so let’s do it.     GERALD      E

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE TURBULENT BIRTH OF OUR NATION

THE TURBULENT BIRTH OF OUR NATION

If you were George Washington, Samuel Adams, James Madison or Thomas Jefferson or other Founding Father during the formation of the United States of America as a nation state, you would have been witness to the choices made and discarded in choosing just what form of government we were to have.

Some wanted Washington to be king – an idea he quickly vetoed (perhaps another King George succeeding the British  King George did not have a good ring to it given our hatred of the latter as so eloquently set forth in the point by point denunciation of his wrongdoing in the Declaration). After all, in addition to being a French and Indian War leader of colonials on the side of the British Redcoats ending in 1763, Washington was a slave-holding businessman planter who was well known as the biggest whiskey-maker in the colonies which, incidentally, may help explain why he ruthlessly put down the Whisk2y Rebellion in Pennsylvania in 1792 during his first term as president.

Let’s take a short look at the immediate history of that turbulent time. We are familiar with the Battles of Bunker Hill, Concord and Lexington, which were fought on the eve of the Declaration of Independence and our Revolution fought to establish freedom from the harsh dictates of King George and how that all ended with the surrender of British General Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1781. We are also familiar with the Treaty of Paris two years later in which Britain recognized the independence of what we decided to call The United States of America.

This essay is not about such heroics; it is about what was going on in the back rooms in establishing an institutional framework for a new country. We happened to have embraced Athenian democracy (there were other choices) in which the governed (excluding women and slaves as it was in Athens) vote for those who are to govern them under a Constitution in 1789, but that is not where the story began.

I think the story began with the draft of the Articles of Confederation by the Continental Congress in 1777 and final adoption of such a governing document (or better said “plan for a united government after independence”) via Maryland’s vote in 1781 as the thirteenth ratifying colony, or state-in-waiting, and though the vote was unanimous as all thirteen former colonies (and now states-in-waiting) ratified it, it turned out to be a disaster wholly unsuited to the needs of a newly-formed United States of America, and though it is not fashionable to put down our Founding Fathers and though the Revolution was just getting underway and far from a done thing at the time, it could be argued that our still colonial-minded  politicians should have seen that the Articles with their emphasis on a confederacy of independent states rather than a federation of states under principles of federalism would not work. It was a states’ rights plan (run amok) document that was divisive rather than cooperative and deserving of its latter recognition but de-emphasis in the Tenth Amendment, a bone thrown to the still Articles-minded as one of the Bill of Rights in order to ensure ratification of the first Ten Amendments into our Constitution of 1789 two years later, in 1791.

To backtrack – Fortunately, and with some negative experience under the Articles after only four years following the Treaty of Paris, some saw fit in 1787 to call for a misnamed meeting to consider revisions to the Articles of Confederation since application of the terms of this ill-conceived governing document (or plan) was breeding antagonism between and even within the various states. Instead, thankfully, such a meeting turned into abandoning the Articles altogether and writing a new Constitution as the organic rule of law of the land, and even that Constitution was not perfect. Its terms were fiercely debated and its final composition did not become the organic law of the land as we know it now until two years later after the adoption of the Bill of Rights in 1791.

So finally, finally, we have a governing document that very carefully sets out a tri-partite form of government into legislative, executive and judicial powers as co-equals, among other definitional terms establishing the framework of government and the rights, privileges and immunities of citizens into a democratic republic, right? Not yet.

There is always (and to this day) the problem of interpreting the language of statutes claimed to be unconstitutional, for instance. I think the most important case in constitutional law we have ever had was Marbury v. Madison, in which then Chief Justice John Marshall decided that the Supreme Court had the power under the Constitution to void legislation if determined to be unconstitutional, a bedrock holding that anchored the “separation of powers” and “checks and balances” doctrines which protect us from executive and legislative and even judicial excesses and, if followed, make it difficult to grab power for real and wannabe dictators ranging from the British King George through Donald Trump.

It is the Constitution that protects us from tyranny, especially our Bill of Rights, thus providing us with the many blessings of democracy and, as I frequently write, our hard-won and precious democracy won by the blood of patriots from Bunker Hill to today is one of the last few things worth dying for whether the enemies of freedom are from within or without. July 4 is far more than hot dogs and a day at the beach; it’s a commemoration date for our freedom from tyranny and a celebration of our history of sacrifice of those who came before us in the preservation of our most asset held in common – our democracy – so as beneficiaries of that most precious gift from our predecessors, let’s remember that and those who came before us this upcoming holiday – and every day.     GERALD      E

 

MARX AND LABOR – A SKETCH

MARX AND LABOR – A SKETCH

The 20th century marked by two World Wars, wars in Korea and Viet Nam, an atomic bombing, The Great Depression, the Cold War, the end of the New Deal and lesser events certainly gave historians a vast trove from which to prognosticate. Most of such events can now be found to have been unnecessary in retrospect had we employed good policy and diplomacy, but accounts of such times and events cannot capture the fervor of the moment. Even I, now a peacenik, would at the time never have hesitated to shoot Hitler on sight. I think historians can write about events but have a tough time in describing the public mood surrounding such events. I still feel a lingering rage for Hitler, the homicidal maniac, for instance. Who can forget such massive atrocities?

On the labor front, we would do well to remember the previous century as well, the 19th, a century when revolution stalked Europe, a century that began (along with eleven years of the preceding century) with the remnants of the French Revolution in which the peasantry cheered when decapitated heads of the nobility bounced down into baskets followed by Napoleon’s emperorship and a round trip to Elba. Waterloo ended that caper and the Western World breathed a sigh of relief, only to be confronted with another crisis with the advent of Marx and Engels and others who traded on class and labor and revolution in their responses to the gathering efficiencies of the Industrial Revolution then underway where human labor was a mere cog in the capitalists’ profit machine.

I think Marx correctly described the problem then and now (labor today is a mistreated cog in the capitalist profit-making machine) but was wrong in how to address the problem. I give him and A for his diagnosis and an F for his prognosis. His ideas of revolution and state control of the economy following a period of “the dictatorship of the proletariat” could never work then or now, as we have seen since where many so-called communist countries have lowered Marx’s ideas a notch and are now state capitalist economies, economies in which economic policies are not based on demand and competition but rather by politicians from above, and I hope this first step (a still short step) is a move toward their becoming market economies. I think we might fairly equate Marx’s vision as that of a political Luddite, whose plan was not to destroy the looms of Leeds and Manchester but the politics of the capitalist state.

Marx’s radical plan to even out things between capital and labor in response to the inequities brought about by the Industrial Revolution would fare even worse today as we are in a transitory stage between the Industrial Revolution and what we have dubbed “The Information Age,” which highlights how to value differences between brain and brawn and, perhaps, robots.

A new crisis, as usual, follows a newly-informed and innovative economics. Human labor will have a new problem, to wit: automation, which also has international implications since, among other things, automated production of goods and services here can be increasingly accomplished as cheaply as in China and other Third World countries and, with the consuming market here, we might even enjoy domestic prices cheaper than those of imports (assuming such countries do not involve currency manipulation and other forms of unfair pricing in disguise).

So where are we in this rapidly accelerating Information Age with its labor-supplanting automated production of goods and services? We are at the beginning. The old Industrial Age which spawned radicals such as Marx is history, though his description of how labor of that day and age was mistreated still has application to today since Powell and Reagan, who collaborated in ending the New Deal and our unprecedented economic growth the New Deal brought us after WW II. Labor for the last four decades has found no movement (as adjusted for inflation) in median wages paid while the Dow has gone from 750 to around 20,000. How could such a wide difference be accounted for? Why should one sector of the economy be allowed to hog virtually all of the income of the economy? Politics.

So how do we correct this wide chasm in sharing of the economy’s income? Marxian revolution? No, wrong day, wrong age and wrong medicine. Continuation of laissez faire do-nothing politics and tax cuts for the rich and corporate class? No, that’s the present policy, a policy that keeps us on the edge of recession. What then? A new brand of politics fashioned on the framework of the (old) New Deal, an old brand that brought historic prosperity to America for more than forty years. We will need to change politicians, and the sooner the better.

Every “ism” is subject to abuse, including capitalism and especially libertarianism, but we need not have a Marxian or other form of revolution or a Luddite response to automation in order to reform such a system. We can get out of this mess the same way we got into it, that is, by a political response that reinstates fairness and equity in sharing the fruits of our economy. It can be done because it has been done, and the sooner we can rid ourselves of the influence of today’s toxic libertarianism the better, so let’ get on with it.    GERALD      E

 

 

 

 

 

GEORGIA ON MY MIND – AND SPIN

GEORGIA ON MY MIND – AND SPIN

The Sixth Congressional District of Georgia is known as Georgia 6 in familiar terms. A few days ago there was a special election to fill that congressional seat vacated by then Congressman Price, who was appointed by Trump to a post in his administration. Georgia 6 is a deep red congressional district and Price won it by 23 points last fall prior to his appointment. This time the Republican candidate won it by some three points, a twenty point spread from Price’s win in the fall of 2016.

The media had trumpeted the Georgia 6 special election of a few days ago as a test of Trump’s popularity and a measure of how he was performing to date. With the Republican win in that election, albeit by only three points and in a deep red Republican district, the Republican spin machine went into action. I read and heard in the mainstream press of how this was a win for Trump, that Republicans were elated and Democrats depressed with the electoral result. Huh?

The Republican spin machine has this reversed, and as a Democrat I am elated and certainly not at all depressed with a negative  swing of twenty points which tells me that Trump and his performance to date are deeply unpopular, even in a deep red district, and unless we are willing to overrule the law of arithmetic, Republicans are the ones who should be depressed. The Republicans have to now explain how a twenty point swing to the Democratic candidate in deep red Georgia Six proves that Trump’s performance to date is so great, especially when the Republican candidate lost by a spread of twenty points from Price’s performance last fall, and how a negative twenty point spread from last fall could possibly be called a victory for Trump. It may be a victory for Trump in his narcissistic world and that of Orwell where facts (even those of arithmetic) can be massaged to suit the massagers, but facts remain facts, and the only rational conclusion that can be drawn from the results of the Georgia 6 election is that Trump and his performance to date have suffered a disastrous decline of twenty points.

It appears that the Republican spin machine which, like Trump with his claim of “a landslide win” in his own campaign when he lost by millions of votes and won by geography, has decided that the special election in Georgia Six is a great win and vindicates Trump’s performance to date. The spin machine has also apparently decided, like Trump, to simply deny reality, and the reality is this: Trump’s popularity and performance to date nosedived in a deep red congressional district by twenty points, and who won or lost in such election is immaterial as a measure of this Trump count.

The Republican spin machine has apparently decided to join Trump’s narcissistic world in interpreting any result of any election as a victory for Trump because that is the result they want irrespective of arithmetic and reality. How a dip of twenty points can be interpreted as a “win” is beyond me, but then I live in the world of reality where two and two are still four and not some hazy world of narcissistic fantasy with an authoritarian bent reminiscent of Orwell’s 1984.

In isolated context where only Trump and his performance to date are to be considered as measured by the recent election in Georgia 6, I am delighted. When there is a twenty point negative spread based on Trump and/his performance to date, such a huge difference in a matter of only months since last fall tells me that both Republicans, Democrats and Independents are not happy with either Trump and/or his performance to date, even in deep red states, and that is neither spin nor fantasy – it’s arithmetic – and augurs well for the future.   GERALD      E

FEDERAL PREEMPTION (PART II)

FEDERAL PREEMPTION (PART II)

In Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., the Supreme Court in 1992 held that a statute specifying warnings for cigarette packages preempted the claim of Rose Cipollone, a 57-year-old woman from Little Ferry, New Jersey, who said the packages of the cigarettes that she smoked did not adequately warn her of the hazards of smoking. The fact that Congress had decided AFTER she had originally filed her case that the package warning was wholly inadequate did not resurrect her claim for damages. Huh? The court can apply regulations setting a standard for liability that were not in existence at the time a plaintiff filed his or her claim? The answer is yes; such state standards can be preempted, even retrospectively per Cipollone.

I think Cipollone was wrongly decided and worse, it opened the floodgates for the tobacco and other lobbyists for dangerous products (including caustic chemicals) to go to the federal agencies and see to it that they come up with weak regulations. Why go state-to-state lobbying when you can lobby the federal agencies whose final regulations will preempt all state laws and regulations adverse to the interests of manufacturers of such dangerous products? Just go to Washington, lobby for weak to no standards of liability, apply such standards in suits by injured plaintiffs and have the trial court dismiss such claims as a result of the federal preemption of state laws and regulations.

In sum, as Professor of law (at the University of Texas) McGarity points out, federal preemption can both obliterate state statutes and regulations that are inconsistent with federal law and rob injured citizens of their right to seek redress from irresponsible corporations that comply with weak federal regulations.

Worse still, and in an area not addressed by McGarity, I understand that there is a bill now either pending or to be soon filed by the Trump administration to have all proposed final regulations by all federal agencies reviewed by the Congress before such regulations can have final effect. This politicizes every such final proposed final regulation, ignores the expertise of those in the particular agency who have worked to bring such a regulation to final status, gives lobbyists another shot at overcoming or weakening the final regulation in question, and amounts to an abdication of executive responsibility to the legislative branch (who have already done their legislative duty by passing legislation which the regulation in question is designed to flesh out).

Regulated companies and the Chamber of Commerce argue that preemption is necessary to provide smoothly functioning national markets. Environmental groups, consumer activists and plaintiffs respond that federal agencies are subject to capture by regulated interests. The new proposal I have alluded to in the previous paragraph will, of course, be used by special and regulated interests to opportunistically seek desirable outcomes by influencing federal agencies to preempt state laws and regulations deemed adverse to their interests, provide another shot at fashioning such final regulations via a political process of congressional review, and can and will ignore the broad principles of federalism in the process. It is noteworthy that conservative politicians are vocal proponents of states’ rights when it comes to tough voting laws that suppress voting but are all for preemption of states’ rights where, for instance, consumer protection laws and regulations are involved. To be fair in my assessment, however, I note that there is a long judicially established “presumption against preemption” applicable to such traditionally state-regulated matters as local building codes, setting local utility rates etc.

However, even here and under its power to regulate interstate commerce, Congress can decide that the regulatory regime that it imposes by law also contains a provision that sets out the extent to which the statute exempts state law. The Atomic Energy Act of 1954 and the Medical Device Amendments Act of 1976 are good examples where the Congress has rightly set forth in such acts a provision that preempts all state laws and regulations. Congress has, in my opinion, properly decided that such dangerous technologies as atomic power and medical devices are to be regulated by highly expert federal agencies free of state interference.

Finally, and I think this is a safe prediction, we can confidently expect the Trump administration to urge courts to dismiss claims of victims of irresponsible companies whose products and activities comply with weak federal regulations, and Cipollone tells us that such a plan can even be accomplished retrospectively! Expect lobbyists (with checkbooks open for “campaign contributions”) to be on duty every single day in influencing congressional committees to adopt language in proposed legislation that preempts state laws and regulations while also laboring to amend the language of existing laws and regulations for their corporate clients with a view to bring on the weakest possible standards of liability for such clients to employ in the courtroom.

What to do? Elect those to the Congress who believe that corporations should be held to the same standards of liability that you and I have. If I pour chemicals on my neighbor’s yard, I am rightly liable for damages. The tort, unless intentional, is called negligence. Why should some corporation be allowed to commit a similar tort if the use of their product produces similar results? Should their politically-set standards for liability be any different than mine? Count me as a nay vote.     GERALD      E

FEDERAL PREEMPTION (PART I)

FEDERAL PREEMPTION (PART I)

California is a good example of a state that passes laws and adopts regulations to carry out such laws for the benefit of its citizens, but in many areas and to varying degrees, claims and suits brought under such laws and regulations are subject to federal preemption, i.e., such laws and regulations at the state level are simply reversed and become null and void, both retrospectively and for future application. Likewise, many of the federal statutes and regulations provide for exemption or otherwise “preempt” application of some of their own laws and regulations. The State of California, for instance, has long had motor vehicle emissions laws and regulations more stringent than those federally required due to the state’s problems with smog, but that doesn’t mean that the state has such powers; rather they have more stringent powers to address such local issues because the Congress specifically allowed states to adopt more but not less stringent laws and regulations than federal emissions standards.

The problem is that what Congress gives Congress can take away, not only in emission standards but in myriad other areas, areas such as standards for the marketing of toxic substances in a given state. For instance, California has long had strict requirements for the marketing of toxic substances. Thomas O. McGarity, professor of law at the University of Texas, writes in the Spring 2017 edition of The American Prospect that “The chemical industry has long pressed Congress to preempt strict state toxic substances control laws that make it harder for them to market their products in states like California.”

The industry finally succeeded last year when Congress passed the Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act, which enhanced the EPA’s ability to regulate toxic chemicals and, incidentally, preempted future state regulations. That state will have to live with the EPA’s future regulations and with a regulation-hater such as Trump and a climate-denier at the head of the EPA it is plain that Congress has decided to tell the people of California what their public policy is to be. With the federal reach of the Act, such federal regulations and re-dos of existing regulations will, of course, also have application to any of the other forty nine states who have the temerity to pass laws and adopt regulations that the chemical industry dislikes. Home Rule? Ha! That’s a good one! Profit trumps public health (via the political closed door).

Californians and the citizens of the other forty nine states will be left to the tender mercies of the Trump’s administration’s regulation of future toxic chemical risks. Those maimed and disfigured by toxic substances who bring suit against such chemical companies will find their claims for damages dismissed by the courts for failure to meet such greatly strengthened requirements imposed by the preempting regulations sure to follow passage of the Act. Big Business wins; the disfigured consumer can pay for his or her own plastic surgery.

The Congress has the power to replace state common law with federal law in suits brought by individuals in state court with toxic chemicals, as we have seen, but it can also design liability in railroad injuries and deaths, damaging side effects of vaccines and dozens if not hundreds of other types of liability cases and, as McGarity observes, there is no requirement that federal regulations provide an alternative mechanism for relief, leaving the victims to no remedy at all against companies whose products or activities comply with the federal requirements, even if those requirements are feeble.

He then cites the infamous 1992 case of Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., as an example, and it is a good one. It involves timing and application of regulations and I will discuss it in Part II of this essay. Stay tuned.     GERALD     E

BANNON AND RASPUTIN

BANNON AND RASPUTIN

I have written on Rasputin’s connection with the Russian Romanoff Dynasty earlier, as my followers may recall, a peculiar linkage because of their very different backgrounds. The Romanoff’s Czar and Czarina were the last two of the Romanoff dynasty, a family that included Peter the Great and Catherine the Great in earlier Russian history. They were Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra, the unquestioned rulers of Russia. Their rule was overthrown by communists in 1917 under the leadership of Lenin and his sidekick Stalin who succeeded him when Lenin died in 1924 and who ruled Russia until after WW II. The czar, his wife and their children were jailed during the Russian Revolution and murdered on Lenin’s orders, as was Rasputin somewhat earlier.

Rasputin was known as the “mad monk” from Siberia and never spent a day in school. He migrated to St. Petersburg, leaving a wife and children back in Siberia, and developed a reputation as “faith healer” of the Oral Roberts type and claimed to be able to cure diseases with his calls on divine intervention. His reputation spread to such an extent that it caught the attention of the Czarina Alexandra, who had a son with a condition her best doctors could not cure, so the royalty brought him into the castle and, miraculously, the royal son (and possible czar apparent) became healthy again. Alexandra became enamored of his curative abilities, thought he was a man of God, and kept him around the castle as part of the royal staff.

Rasputin quickly established himself as more than a faith healer. He began to advise Czar Nicholas II on political and economic matters and made himself indispensable around matter of state, always supported by the czarina who was persuaded that he had saved her son’s life and was a man of God.

So now enters today’s wannabe Lenin from Stage Far Right, one Bannon, a sometime movie producer, a  one-time Navy officer, a one-time Goldman Sachs banker, and a onetime chief of a publication featuring alt-news “news” who now is Trump’s closest adviser. (But wait! Isn’t Lenin the guy who murdered the  Czar, the Czarina and their children – and countless others – and this guy claims to be a Leninist – in America?) Bannon has said for all the world to hear that he is a “Leninist” and is dedicated to “the destruction of the administrative state.” Unlike Rasputin, he has been to school and does not pretend to act as an agency between God and the health of anybody; he rather wishes to exercise the power Lenin exercised in the “destruction of the administrative state.” He is not clear as to what form of government he advises to succeed the administrative state after its destruction and even though he professes to be a “Leninist,” such new government would not necessarily be communist in nature.

It might not even be a form of government known to us as of now; it might be capitalist-centered but in some form of libertarian free-for-all in a wild west marketplace free of all government control via rules and regulations which were, after all, blights of the former and now extinct administrative state. I don’t know what kind of government (if any) would succeed destruction of the administrative state, but from Bannon’s utterances to date I think whatever form it takes will be under the mantle of authoritarian control, much as that of both former Czar and Czarina and Leninist pre- and post- communist Russia.

Rasputin had an easier job than Bannon has to control affairs of state. Russia at the time (and since) had  a history of authoritarian control during the Romanoff Dynasty and dynasties before that. There was no democratic history with which to understand the difference between total royal control and a much more citizen-controlled means of choosing the governors by the governed. Bannon, on the other hand, wishes to establish some form of authoritarian control over the citizens of this country, a country steeped in democracy, and who, unlike the Russians, know the difference between dictatorship and elected leaders. I think Bannon has the tougher job in imposing authoritarian control and that if he foresees some form of free for all libertarian control of our economy without rules it will be even more necessary to have authoritarian control as in Orwell’s 1984 because we citizens will remember the days of democracy and, unlike those in 1984, perhaps take to the streets to reinstate our democracy.

The solution to our problem, of course, is removal of this self-professed “Leninist” from a position of power in the inner council of the Trump administration. If we are to save our democracy from Putin and other such dictators from without who wish us ill by, among other things, destroying our democracy with their electronic shenanigans, then we are similarly obligated to rid ourselves of dictatorship from within by those such as Bannon who, like Rasputin, managed to penetrate the inner circles of a government led by a man who (literally) doesn’t know what he is doing – or doesn’t care, a man named Trump.

Finally, and as can be seen, those of us who support Trump are supporting Leninism to the extent Trump takes the advice and counsel of his chief adviser and self-professed Leninist, Bannon, and transforms such advice into policy initiatives that contravene our democratic institutions, an intolerable result because, as I have written many times, democracy is our most precious asset held in common and is one of the last few things left worth dying for.     GERALD      E