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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

BIDEN AND A (NEW) NEW DEAL

Some contributors to Professor Kennedy’s blog today suggested, among other things, that Madison could have done a better job in considering political parties when writing the Constitution and that they feared that everything Biden wants to get done after he is elected will be met with hamstringing lawsuits by Republicans designed to thwart his (perhaps) new New Deal initiatives modeled by FDR in the midst of the Great Depression. I responded as follows.

Madison is not to be put down for anything relating to political parties because there were no political parties when he plumed the Constitution and Washington was opposed to political parties because, as he rightly noted, voters would become more devoted to party than to country. Washington was correct, one step removed these days. (See the Republican Party, the political cover for the ruling rich and corporate class, also known as the lords in our current Lords and Serfs Economic Society).

I am not as pessimistic as one of our contributors today that all of Biden’s initiatives will be derailed via lawsuits heard before Mitch’s contributions to the judiciary. There are many sitting judges who Mitch did not enrobe, and those Federalist-type judges he robed may get tired of being reversed by Courts of Appeal where stare decisis as well as ideology is the order of the day. I also think that Biden’s recommendations for legislation to flesh out his initiatives will be carefully examined for reversible shortcomings by counsel before offered to the Congress for debate and amendment.

Yes, there will be litigation, as with FDR and his New Deal but, like FDR, Biden will in the main eventually succeed with his initiatives, and even if he doesn’t, the country’s direction could not be any worse off then than it is now with this third grader in the Oval Office who was mistakenly elevated to become principal of his school.         GERALD                E

BIDEN’S (NEW) NEW DEAL

Professor Kennedy’s blog today discussed the talk in some circles that Biden would be imitating FDR’s New Deal in trying to bring us out of the deep recession in which we find ourselves. Having lived through the Great Depression and having participated in WW II, I felt a part of living history and provided some of my own, as follows

I am old enough to remember during the depression that movies were ten cents (eleven cents after FDR’s ten percent luxury tax) and that we picked blackberries at ten cents per gallon so that we could afford to go to the movies. Usually there was a short before the main feature and it was what was called MovieTone News. I more than once saw uniformed communists and Nazis with their hammers and sickles and swastikas marching in New York City in such shorts. I was too young then to understand what I understand now, i.e., that a hungry nation was on the verge of revolution and that we needed the pragmatism of a New Deal or some kind of deal to rescue us from angry mobs who worried less about political posture than they did about eating, a sometime revolutionary combination.

The New Deal was neither right nor left; it was new and necessary in order to avoid falling into Hitler’s and Stalin’s then prospering authoritarianism, and those who now retrospectively complain about FDR’s use of government to do what the “system” was failing to do need to rethink their position since, if something hadn’t been done, we would live in a different world, or not, depending upon post-atom politics. Whining about what could have been ignores the reality of what was, and any attempted political solution will yield to retrospective inspection, though I for one think the New Deal (as a move away from the laissez faire Republican 1920s) stood the test of time up until Reagan (who put the finishing touches on its destruction via enormous tax breaks for the rich and corporate class, the destruction of unions, and initiation of wage inequality).

So as to Biden and a reinstatement of New Dealism – This is not 1933, and Biden’s New Deal cannot match FDR’s New Deal details because the issues are different and the ground has shifted with time and targets. Biden’s new New Deal will start in recession and (I hope) not depression and his targets will be to end such evils as wage inequality while ending the preferred tax status of the rich and corporate class, and especially the investor sub-class within that grouping. The internal revenue and bankruptcy codes will likewise be targets for reform, as will a redo of our foreign policy. I look forward to the formation and application of such reforms to the nearly ruined economy and democracy we are currently enduring under a man who (literally) does not know what is going on, and in any event, doesn’t care.        GERALD               E

PLANTATION COTTON

Professor Kennedy in her blog today wrote of Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton’s op-ed in the NYT in which he, among other atrocities (especially for a Harvard Law grad) noted that slavery was a “necessary evil.” I responded to her effort, slightly edited, as follows.

I have read elsewhere that Cotton is aiming for the presidency in 2024. If I am still around I will be voting for his opponent, whoever he, she or it may be. If he were to run and be elected, I think his first act would be to fire on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, then reincarnate Robert E. Lee, round up minorities (and liberals), and make Hitler look like a conservative. What is really fearful is that the people of Arkansas elect this rancid piece of protoplasm. Are they THAT racist? I didn’t spend time in the South Pacific during WW II to come back and salute swastikas, rising suns, and plantation owners (or their mouthpieces like Cotton).

As an aside, it was not just southern plantation owners who profited from the “peculiar institution;” it was the owners of looms in Manchester and Leeds who profited. It was the English who brought us slaves just over 400 years ago and it was the English loom owners who profited from access to our cheap slave-picked cotton, and parenthetically, it was also the English who threatened to blockade our Northern warships from southern ports during the Civil War so that their cheap cotton could remain available for their looms. We happen to speak English but have had two wars and years of colonialism with them while we have had no wars with the French, who gifted us with the Statute of Liberty, so who says the English have been our friends? I here note that Cotton and Trump have all the earmarks of the greed of an 1863 Leeds but can’t move there today because we are so diseased due to Trump’s and Cotton’s lack of concern for the pandemic with the result that Americans are not welcome there and in many other enlightened jurisdictions these days. Goodbye, tourism!

So now Trump and Cotton are pretending to be worried about mail voting fraud and Trump suggests delay of the election? Trump is hardly one to raise the issue of fraud when he was elected by reason of Putin’s helpful fraud, for heaven’s sake, so when he asks for a delay in November’s vote here’s the translation > Make me president for life (since there will always be a need for yet futher delay). Actually he has to know that he is prevented by the Constitution and by statute from delaying any federal election and is probably throwing it out as a distraction from today’s report of the heaviest drop in GDP since we started measuring it seventy years ago and, of course, the raging coronavirus he has done nothing to contain.

Elections weren’t delayed during the Civil War or WW II (both by mail), so why now? Trump has no power to delay any election, but the idea that he even suggests the possibility tells us all we need to know, like Heil, Trump! How about another quick impeachment for the Senate’s vote, and if they vote not guilty let them explain their votes come November, “they” including slavers like Cotton.        GERALD               E

 

MAYDAY AND KODAK

Mayday! Mayday! We have a child in the candy store with our checkbook! Trump has used the Defense Construction Act (which was initially designed for a different purpose, but who cares about congressional intent anymore?) to hand over some 765 million dollars to Kodak for pharmaceutical manufacturing. It amounts to a taxpayer funded IPO and to a company with a history of bankruptcy and no history of manufacturing pharmaceutials. I detect a political stench, like, if the manufacture of such pharmaceuticals is so critical as to utilize provisions of the Act, then why not do the manufacturing with existing manufacturers of pharmaceuticals who are not starting from scratch and have the necessary personnel and facilities to quickly respond to the supposed critical need? I don’t know, since he could utilize the Act (and thus ccircumvent the congress) with whomever he were to chose.

Giving Trump a checkbook with an unlimited balance in our treasury (since if we don’t have the money we can borrow it from our great grandchildren) opens the door for all sorts of chicanery.  Knowing this guy who is always looking for a buck I thought of shell corporations in which Trump would have a silent interest, or (for a hit in Zurich under layers of trustees) or via domestic corporations owned by foreign interests, or some other esoteric means of profiting. I am suspicious because this guy is a walking fraud.

So what to do? Repeal the Act or amend it so that congressional consent is required before it can be employed, and do it in a hurry before this guy (who is always looking for ways to make a buck and has now found the mother lode) spends us into bankruptcy. How? Hook it on as an amendment to the must pass coronavirus bill now under urgent consideration. Quickly.          GERALD                E

AIRCRAFT CARRIERS AND HEALTH CARE

Professor Kennedy in her blog today quoted Paul Krugman and an Italian author in re the question of why we don’t have single payer healthcare like the rest of the civilized world, and attributes our failure primarily to racism (while I had thought it was probably just insurance company greed and political influence). We almost had single payer under Truman in 1947 but it was derailed because southern politicians were fearful that it would result in an intermixture of races. I responded to her effort, slightly edited, as follows.

Yes, racism is plainly a drag on adoption of single payer, but so is classism, white hillbillies, meth gobblers, the imprisoned, the influence of the rich and investors and shareholders in healthcare corporations, libertarians, right wing Republicans (and a few Democrats) – the list is long.

I used to lunch on occasion with an insurance company underwriter. He educated me on the math of large risks and secondary coverage for insurance companies and, among other things, told me that in general the larger the risk pool the cheaper the per capita  premium, which fit in well with my rationale for universal single payer. There are many  other good reasons to adopt single payer, of course, ranging from the economic (no medical bankruptcies) to more efficient output by a healthly workforce who are not living in fear of a cancer or other wipeout of their lifetime savings.

Any massive change in systems will involve us with problems known and unknown, of course, but when I think about our failure to adopt single payer I think beyond the usual culprits here set forth. I ascribe at least some of resistance to its adoption to those who support our unnecessary and hyper-inflated military budgets in the race to corral taxpayer dollars, so which is more important, single payer universal coverage for some 330 million Americcans or a few more aircraft carriers and/or fighter planes to add to our already overcrowded arsenal. You be the judge; I’ve made my decision.         GERALD           E

THE NORDIC MODEL

Professor Kennedy in her Sunday blog notes that almost everyone admires the Nordic model of Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland, who have high economic productivity, high social equality, high social trust, and high levels of personal happiness, She writes that these countries were dirt poor before 1870 and, along with David Brooks, thinks their outstanding educational system is the reason why they are enjoying such success today. I responded to her effort in a rather personal fashion, slightly edited, as follows.

I married a Swedish American. She later earned her doctorate, was a university professor, and is now deceased. She, her mother (who was fluent in Swedish) and I  visited Stockholm, Oslo and Copenhagen in 1975. I was impressed by the respect these Nordics have for one another and their social and economic institutions. Generally speaking, I think these people really understand that “we are all in this together,” an attitude missing in countries such as ours mired in capitalist instincts, ideology and supportive propaganda (where per the old adage) “It’s every man for himself.” While in Sweden we visited a fellow lawyer and his wife (she was our relative) who lived in a large condo at 1 Kungsgarten in downtown Stockholm. They were well off, had a condo on Majorca in the Mediterranean, a Swiss chalet which they sometimes flew to for a weekend of skiing, and were world travelers. I decided to play Republican right winger in search of a democratic socialist response and told him I understood that Swedes paid very heavy income taxes of some fifty percent and said: “That’s a little high, isn’t it?” I will never forget his reply: “Well, Jerry, that depends upon what you get for your money.” After running through a long litany of what Swedes don’t pay for (including single payer healthcare coverage), I then determined that we pay higher income taxes here than the Swedes do there, netwise and all things considered, and get far less for our money in terms of patchwork social and economic benefits doled out by politicians and their capitalist overseers in just sufficient amounts to keep the rest of us and our pitchforks out of the streets. The key distinction, of course, is trust in government. The Swedes trusted their government to collect revenues and fairly disperse them through several programs when we were there; here we are taught by those who otherwise benefit that government is bad, especially “big government,” and that programs such as those of the Nordic countries are socialist and in derogation of free market philosophy and therefore also bad. Our capitalists and their political lackeys have done a good job. Witness, for instance, that forty one percent of total bankruptcies here are medical bankruptcies while such is unknown in Sweden. Wages there are high, the workforce is productive and the Swedes run a trade surplus; here wage inequality reigns and productivity is marginal resulting in billions in trade deficits and industry moves to low labor cost jurisdictions, and with a president who mindlessly makes things worse by employing  tariffs in his trade games which raises the price of imports on American consumers.

The visit to the Nordic countries (and especially Sweden) was a real eye-opener. I am told that Sweden has since become more conservative today than it was years ago when we three visited there in search of relatives, finding twenty one, but if so, they have a long way to go to catch us as we have now totally destroyed our New Deal correctives and are moving even further right with one of our major parties now openly in favor of authoritarian control and a continuation of a minimum wage that has not been adjusted for eleven years. What to do? Endlessly agitate for reform. Endlessly.    GERALD            E

TRUMP DURING THE INTERIM

Professor Kennedy in her blog today set out a litany of Trump’s almost daily impeachable offenses as he changes the subject and masterfully diverts our attention from one issue to the next before we have swallowed our rage on today’s subject. My fellow contributors set out their complaints in such connection, ranging from Patrick’s complaint in re the  ongoing holdup of the Voting Rights Act by McConnell to several commentaries concerned with what Trump may do after being defeated on November 3 but staying in office until January 20. I responded to the topic for today, slightly edited, as follows.

I first adopt Patrick’s views and opinions today, and as to what is going to happen after Trump is defeated on November 3, 2020, to January 20, 2021, and the fears that this fruitcake may do some irreparable damage to this country and even the world, rest easy. It’s not going to happen and here’s why: As a lame duck soon to leave the Oval Office and with no election staring them in the face, I predict the Republicans in the House and Senate (in order to keep the country afloat) can and will finally speak up since their fear of Trump’s reprisals will be no more and since voters will have rejected his candidacy in (I hope) overwhelming numbers. Imagine! Bipartisanship!

Thus on the contrary and with an eye on post January 20, 2021 (and with a political repudiation in his wake), I think Don will be looking for some conciliatory vibes during this interim between the election and Biden’s inauguration what with a Democratic AG, the State of New York and their respective grand juries waiting to pore over his record and that of his family.

My guess is that as it works out the bigger issues by that time will still be the coronavirus disaster, whether schools should be open given our experience since circa Labor Day etc., and that sanity in governance will return on the afternoon of January 20, 2021.        GERALD                E

TRUMP AND HIS STORM TROOPERS

Professor Kennedy in her blog today professed concern for Trump’s storm troopers in Portland who were intimidating and even kidnapping protestors,  protestors who had a  right provided by the Constitution to peacefully assemble and state their grievances as provided therein. She suggested it might be the beginning of things to come for Trump in his pursuit of a dictatorship, and with good reason. I responded to her effort, slightly edited, as follows.

With no Reichstag to burn, perhaps Trump will import thugs and anarchists from Portland and Chicago to burn down the Capitol Building (the thugs and anarchists being unidentified and un-badged members of the grossly misnamed Homeland Security Department, an agency which is now making Homeland citizens of Portland feel very insecure).

A few days ago I saw a squib on the internet by Chad, the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, telling us that he did not need an invitation to go to Portland or anywhere else he pleases in order to protect property and control anarchists. I answered his claim directly as follows: Oh really? Cite me chapter and verse of your authority to arrest American citizens who are exercising their constitutional rights and understand that even if you did have such statutory authority it is inoperative by reason of its unconstitutionality. No gestapo allowed, fellow.

Later I learned that he claimed to base his authority on a Trump executive order, but of course statutes, ordinances, executive orders or any other executive directives are void if unconstitutional, as were Trump’s executive order and the acts of government thugs in Oregon. Local police should arrest these kidnappers and they should be sued civilly for false imprisonment by their victims. Perhaps after a few years in stir and $500,000.00 judgments for damages these badge-less kidnappers will see the light.

Meanwhile, our task is to nip these democracy-destroying Nazi-like moves by Trump in the bud, moves he is using to divert our attention from his utter failure to handle our twin disasters, economic and pandemic, and all before he adds a political catastrophe (the loss of our democracy) and makes it a threesome. Otherwise and perhaps soon, Putin (at the invitation of Trump and Republican Senator Johnson of Wisconsin who once spent July 4 in Moscow) can then visit us and make the takeover official. Goodbye, democracy; Hello, Russian province.

Think I’m over the top? Think again while having a look at the pre-WW II expansion of Germany and Japan, both of which had grabbed great swaths of territory in Central Europe and Asia, respectively. Can’t happen here? It’s already happening – but from within. Our most valuable asset held in common, our democracy, is at stake, without which we have no country, so let’s strongly and without letup resist this and other such dictatorial moves from Trump or anyone else that would destroy our country.        GERALD               E

FDR, TRUMP AND BIDEN

Professor Kennedy in her blog today quotes a political science professor who sees a lot of parallels between the Hoover and Trump administrations and their laissez faire ideas allowing business to solve the country’s problems with minimal input from government, noting that FDR instead used government to solve the country’s ills with New Deal policies that lasted far beyond his demise, and speculating that Biden’s efforts will resemble those of FDR.

I was reminded as one who lived through the Great Depression and who was the son of a dirt poor union coal miner of what we used to say in my little coal mining town in the 1930s: That the three greatest men who ever lived were (1) John L. Lewis, (United Mine Workers’ Union President), (2) Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and (3) Jesus Christ, and in that order, hungrily and pragmatically placing real food before soul food.  I then responded to Professor Kennedy’s blog, slightly edited, as follows.

As a self-defined liberal slightly left of center Biden was not my first choice in the primary. I was a Warren enthusiast. However, since Biden as a centrist has since announced an FDRish move on issues in dire need of address I have become a Biden enthusiast. Like FDR, he will have an enormous economic mess created by his Republican predecessor to clean up, but unlike FDR, he will be confronted with a pandemic and social revolution as well.

Biden will also have a batch of initiatives to undertake, like massive infrastructure repair and renewal, a return as signatory to the Paris Accords and nuclear Iran agreements, ending wage inequality (including inequality by reason of gender), tax and bankruptcy reforms, a Wagner Act emphasis on unionization (and perhaps even repeal of the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947), and (dare I hope) reincarnation of the Glass-Steagall Act. He will be busy, and will not be spending 25% of his time and hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars frequenting golf courses, as did his predecessor.

As to the coming election I here want to emphasize the importance of voting the down ballot come November. Biden will not be successful in bringing about needed reforms (in addition to the few I have listed above) without a Democratic Senate and House, so yes, let’s remove Trump but let’s also remove his enablers as well. A blue wave will be inadequate. In view of Republican vote thefts and suppression techinques, a blue tsunami is necessary, so let’s have at it, make it happen, and then get to work in restoring our democracy and world leadership.        GERALD               E

DON AND MARY TRUMP

Professor Kennedy in her blog today writes about Trump’s Rose Garden indecipherable speech given recently and questions whether he is all there, as it were. Several of my fellow contributors to her blog also wondered if he is with us anymore and some, like Vern, referred to the just now published book of his niece, Mary Trump, and her in-house look at his mental acuity. I responded to Professor Kennedy’s effort, slightly edited, as follows.

I appreciate Mary Trump’s inside contribution to the country’s current stew, and while I can understand that a cold mother and a greedy father can affect their progeny’s views of reality, I am not willing to lay all the blame for our current situation on mom and pop. Whatever his childhood and adolescent experiences, it is Trump the adult who decided to be a bully; who decided to lie, insult, cheat, and engage in sexual situations. He is not the only one who has had a cold mother and greedy father and I do not buy the argument that he as a sick person had no choice but to be who he is. He lived in a civil society where other influences were available and could have chosen to be a good citizen. He didn’t.

I am beginning to come around to Vern’s view that it is not just Trump but the Republican Party that is responsible for his excesses. Apparently that party will trade off this country’s future for tax cuts and judges while ignoring the antics of a nude emperor in the Oval Office. That exchange amounts to a bribe once removed from that party’s campaign contributors and I hope we neuter that toxic exchange come November.            GERALD               E