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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

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THE THREE LUSTAKEERS

THE THREE LUSTAKEERS

Today we learn that Bill O’Reilly settled a previously undisclosed sexual harassment case for 32 million dollars; that the parent company (21st Century Fox) of his employer (Fox News) was aware of such settlement but nevertheless offered him a contract a month later which raised his 18 million dollar per annum salary to 25 million per annum. We now know that this is the sixth such settlement O’Reilly has made (and counting) and that his parent company considered that this matter was merely one between O’Reilly and the harassed woman, as if the owners or lessees on the premises on which such atrocities occurred had no responsibility for what transpired there. I will return to this issue later in this short essay.

Though the number of people in this country who take advantage of women via their superior employment and celebrity connections is doubtless legion and their identities largely unknown, O’Reilly makes the third known celebrity to be identified as one with uncontrolled lust and lack of self-control who takes advantage of his employment and/or celebrity position to sate his thirst for power over women, and I have decided to coin a phrase and name him along with two others as The Three Lustakeers. Harvey Weinstein and Donald Trump are the other two members of this lusty trio, Weinstein by virtue of his Hollywood “casting couch” fame and Trump by his celebrity status derived from time spent on The Apprentice (“I can grab women by their vital parts and get by with it because I am a star,”) as though “stars” are exempted to be exempted from prosecution for criminal acts in a civilized society.

These Lustakeers are not young, but whether their physical bent is fed by testosterone or Viagra is immaterial; the larger question is what kind of mindset they have that makes them think they can invade the privacy and dignity of unconsenting women, as in, who the heck do they think they are? What kind of sick mind does it take to manufacture such antisocial nonsense? So far as I am concerned, such activities border on the criminal even when women consent but whose consent was induced by fraud and promises of gains in employment and salaries by the Lustakeers, who apparently look at their distaff employees and co-workers as though such on the job harassment is routine and somehow not really happening in the United States of America but rather in some otherworld Sodom and Gomorrah setting, an otherworld that doesn’t exist but one they have manufactured for themselves and their libidos where anything goes.

21st Century Fox admits to knowing that O’Reilly was using his celebrity status and Nielsens that enriched its corporate coffers by the zillions to get better jobs for women who went along with his lusty desires and not only did not do anything about it but even offered him a better contract for the four years’ following. Such known atrocities, at least some of which occurred on their premises but which they did nothing about, tell us a lot about their lust for profit, speaking of lusts, and though this may vary with the jurisdiction, it seems to me that they have some responsibility in tort for failure to police their own premises from known criminal activities, whether it is a hot bed for sexual harassment, an unlicensed gambling den, a child sex business, all irrespective of the loss of profits they may have to endure in order to do the right thing, i.e., help reduce crime rather than knowingly provide an environment for it to prosper in the name of profit.

I have concluded that these Three Lustakeers are rich in terms of material assets but are otherwise among the very poor and impoverished in the aggregation of assets that really matter, like honor, dignity and respect for one’s fellow man and woman in a democratic society. I have also concluded that I will henceforth boycott any products and services offered by 21st Century Fox, tangible or intangible.

The Supreme Court in Citizens United has decided that corporations are persons, and I don’t like irresponsible and immoral persons, including both the 21st Century Fox Corporation as a corporate person and the Three Lustakeers as human persons. It is time to call a spade a spade. They are not my kind, I want nothing to do with them, and I do not wish them well, whatever their pursuits.    GERALD        E

 

DONALD AND HARVEY

DONALD AND HARVEY
Much has been made and is being made about Harvey Weinstein’s Hollywood “casting couch” antics, universally decried, ranging from groping to and through rape. He has told us that “Everyone makes mistakes,” as though anything short of 100 percent on an arithmetic test can be equated with sating his primitive sexual instincts from a position of power on un-consenting women. Mistakes are errors in judgment, a quality that was not involved in his “the boss wants your body” insistence. No judgment and apparently no fear of the consequences were involved – just one-sided lust – his.

Harvey is en route to his exile in a social Elba via ostracizing from the Hollywood elite and their guilds and organizations. He is persona non grata there and elsewhere, a kind of an OJ in a world where most of us know right from wrong and what we have done and, unless restrained by social forces, might do again. Harvey has lots of money; perhaps he should take his Casanova instincts to a house of ill repute for the rest of his life on earth in a more business-like environment and pay for services rendered by willing partners.

Harvey richly deserves the figurative exile to Elba he has earned with his misconduct over the years, and the California prosecutors are looking into possible rape charges to be lodged against him as I write this. I don’t know at this time whether the prosecutors will present a case to the grand jury or not – we will see. Perhaps, perhaps not.
Given the above and the known propensities of Donald to grope women and even brag about it (along with his serial adultery and fornication), one has to wonder why we may want to jail Harvey while simultaneously electing Donald to the presidency. Why (based on such known moral deficiencies) isn’t Donald assigned his place in exile in a figurative Elba along with Harvey and the bones of Napoleon Bonaparte (who was a resident there some 200 years ago)? Why, comparatively speaking, is Donald free of social contempt and not in jail, especially when he is (disastrously) in a position to do far more harm to the country and the world than Harvey ever could with his (however despicable) lust for power over the bodies of un-consenting women?

I concede that there are better rationales for removing Trump from office and banishing him to some Elba than the one to which he and Harvey have enjoyed as fellow members in the power-lust game, but when hearing of Harvey’s social crucifixion for such conduct, it occurred to me that fair’s fair and that Donald should (especially with his other reams of misconduct) be sent to Elba as well.
As a one-time prosecutor and occasional grand jury deputy, I can report that it is easier to indict a defendant than it is to run the constitutional gamut leading to impeachment. However, since Harvey’s transgressions (horrid as they are) pale by comparison to those of Donald, I think it is past time to have a bi-partisan bill of impeachment presented to the House with a view (after Senate conviction) toward acquainting Donald with his new digs in Elba. GERALD E

THE CHECK’S IN THE MAIL (MAYBE)

THE CHECK’S IN THE MAIL (MAYBE)

Trump promised a grieving relative of a dead soldier a personal check of $25,000 but neglected to send it until his non-performance became public, after which we are told that the check is in the mail. Trump said that the insurance companies were making tons of money under Obamacare and that the current bill before Congress would end that, but the filings of the insurance companies with regulatory agencies show that the insurance companies are losing billions.

Trump says that football players should not kneel when the colors are shown and our anthem played, but he was a serial draft dodger who refused to serve his country when his services were needed which, in my view, is a far worse offense than kneeling when the colors are shown and the anthem played as a First Amendment right to protest guaranteed by the blood of patriots from Bunker Hill to today. When thinking of Trump, the term “coward” comes to mind, especially since his draft deferments were based on his doctor’s letter to his draft board citing ankle spurs which made him unfit for service, even though subsequent videos showing him playing tennis demonstrated no such impairment.

I could cite many other such moral and unethical and unpatriotic shortcomings Trump has routinely provided us daily, but I cannot professionally diagnose his obviously confused state of mind because I am a lawyer and not a shrink. I often write that Trump lives in a narcissistic haze in some otherworld he has constructed where he is the center of everything that happened, is happening and will happen, a world in which he has displaced Narcissus, but I am not qualified to offer real proof of such conjecture. I have to leave that to those who are qualified to make such diagnoses.

One of the people (whose right wing politics I abhor) is qualified to make such assessment of Trump’s mental state and it is the journalist/psychiatrist Charles Krauthammer, with whom I rarely agree on anything. Krauthammer, though neither he nor any other shrink of which I am aware has had Trump on the couch in a doctor-patient relationship, recently wrote a piece in which he opines that Trump is a mentally ill person and whose diagnosis from afar roughly parallels my amateur diagnosis.

Trump lives in two worlds, the one he has constructed, and the real world we inhabit. He flits backwards and forth between his world and ours, so it is not surprising that what we see as his confused state of mind (since we are excluded from his otherworld) is not confusion at all in his alternate world, a world in which he has announced (in our world) that he “knows more than all the admirals and generals” and other superlative self-supporting if manufactured surrealities – and then exports such brash (to us) statements as statements of fact to be observed as gospel in our world. I think that his mental illness lies in his inability to distinguish between the reality of his otherworld and the genuine reality of our world, and that it amounts to a structural deficit beyond mere narcissism (which all of us possess to some degree).

So how do we deal with a leader who says one thing one minute and changes his mind a minute later? A leader who says the check’s in the mail but only sends it when it is publicly discovered that the check was not in the mail? How do we deal with a leader who has groped women because “I am a star” and other such travesties as practiced in our world which are not travesties in his otherworld? Do we succumb to such (by our standards) convoluted thinking, abandon truth, agree to policy made by tweet, and, in words of the street, get over it?

I vote no to this wholesale attempt to abandon our democratic institutions, folkways and mores and the pursuit of truth by a mentally ill person bent on authoritarianism to fulfill his otherworld fantasies. He needs to be removed from our world via the 25th Amendment, indictment and/or impeachment, before his world becomes our world, and I await Mueller’s final report with the fervent hope that Trump is removed from our world and left to the vagaries of his otherworld. We deserve better – much better – and soon, lest there be nothing to save after such assaults on reason in our world.     GERALD       E

 

 

 

 

FRAMING AND DEBATE

FRAMING AND DEBATE

A Brazilian Archbishop before his death famously observed that “When I give the poor food they call me a saint, but when I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.” So who are “they” who give GoebbelSpeak responses to such questions rather than answers on the merits of the issue as stated?

“They” are the usual suspects, of course, those who are status quo exponents and don’t want to upset the current applecart that favors the rich and corporate class and their moneychangers on Wall Street, but why the differing response to the archbishop’s two-pronged observation which raises the issue of the archbishop’s political preference? What does that have to do with anything? It is a deliberate attempt to change the subject and raise an ancillary issue not a part of the conversation with a further design to negatively affect the bishop’s question of why the poor have no food.

It’s called framing, and may be practiced directly (Have you quit beating your wife?) or indirectly (It’s nice that you give the poor food and thus protect us from revolution as we continue to pile up profits, but there is no good reason to philosophize as to why the poor do not have food since that can be a destabilizing force for the creation of civil commotion and interferes with our profit-taking, so therefore you are a communist.)

George Lakoff, retired professor emeritus of cognitive brain science at the University of California, Berkeley, has written extensively on the use of framing to limit or end debate on the issue ostensibly under consideration. Trump is good at framing as well he should be in view of his very limited knowledge of the issues up for debate, and his negative framing can and does inject new matter into debate that has no place there but which can confuse the issue under consideration with the addition of variables that are immaterial to solution of the issue up for discussion.

Thus “Have you quit beating your wife? cannot be answered yes, no or maybe. The issue is decided with the question. However, and as Lakoff advises, one can counter-frame by pointing out that the question assumes the truth of the question but without evidence and ask the framer why he or she wants to bring up such extraneous matter other than to avoid debate of the issue under consideration, and perhaps further suggesting that the framer’s position on the issue is so poor that he or she felt compelled to resort to such underhanded tactics. Thus there is framing and counter-framing.

The issue of higher or lower taxes for the rich and corporate class, for instance, should not be decided because the debaters are urban or rural, white or black, male or female, or even whether they are Democrats or Republicans. The issue should be resolved by what its effect will be on matters of employment, the debt, our horrendous trade deficit, whether such cuts would in fact engender economic growth or recession as the economic pie shrinks for the rest of us, its possible inflationary effects and a host of other potentially negative effects on budgeting for the environment and other important federal initiatives such as research and development, infrastructure and the like. It is no place for game-playing via framing and raising ancillary matter into an already perhaps complicated debate either in committee or on the floor. It is a time for sober and realistic consideration of the effects of such proposed legislation based upon the best available and objective evidence leading to a yea or nay vote.

So is framing a luxury we cannot afford if as good citizens we are acting on behalf of the common good? Does framing add anything to the debate or does it obscure and confuse honest solution of the issues up for consideration? Did the archbishop counter-frame the forces of greed effectively in the example cited here?

You be the judge, but when listening to politicians on policy issues be aware of attempts by one party or the other who are employing this tactic in order to avoid coming to grips with the substance of the issues up for debate, an approach that can be telling on the ultimate and substantive issues up for resolution, or in words of the street, “If they don’t want to talk about it, why not? What are they covering up? Why are they manufacturing phony and irrelevant issues? Let’s get to the point.”     GERALD       E

This is my first venture into Twitter, and though I usually write about where economics intersects with government, this essay looks to the approach to such intersection through both secular and religious lenses with the upcoming 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation exactly two weeks from today – the then unexpected beginning of Protestantism.  As it turns out, Dr. Martin Luther was a brilliant theologian and a rather perceptive economist as well. I have blogged this piece before but this is my Twitter debut which I consider a timely choice.

PIKETTY AND THE MINING MONK

My followers know that Piketty’s great book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, is my secular bible. I keep it for ready reference at bedside and at the table where I type my views of economic history and current affairs where economics intersects with government. My contributions are based upon an almost 100 percent view of economics as a man-made social science under an almost purely secular lens; no other lens need apply.

My approach may be wrong. I have just read a short book, The Forgotten Luther, Reclaiming the Social-Economic Dimension of the Reformation, which is a look at the same topic of economic inequality through a religious lens. As we know, the Reformation will be 500 years old this coming October 31, the day before All-Saints Day in religious rituality, celebrating Luther’s nailing of his 95 Theses on the door of All-Saints Church in Wittenberg, a university town where he, as Dr. Martin Luther was a professor.

Thus began Protestantism, though Luther wanted to reform the Catholic Church of his day, not start a new church. He failed; he let the genie out of the bottle with his nailing of his denunciations of a Catholic Church mired in medieval practices, practices that had a lot to do with the sale of indulgences but, as I now know after reading this book written by theological professors, he was dismayed by the way the papacy borrowed money at usurious rates to build buildings and threaten the mostly illiterate Christians of that day with purgatory and hell if they didn’t pay up so Rome could build its great buildings and pay its great painters of the time to inscribe them – but on borrowed money.

Luther thought that was wrong, and I think he was right. It appears that sticking it to the poor for the ease and comfort and prestige of the rich and governing class is nothing new to this day. Look around. Perhaps there is moral dimension to this grotesque maldistribution of income and wealth produced by our economy that I have not appreciated. After all, the problem remains the same whether viewed through a secular or religious lens, so perhaps as a matter of approach I should start paying more attention to the moral dimension such structural economic inequities present for solution.

This Reformation Day 500 years later, if not the beginning, was an addition to the structural inequality of the economics of that day as still read through both secular and religious lenses today. The structural inequality of economics has lasted for centuries before the Reformation and into today 500 years later where we see wealth and income inequality persisting and since Reagan, accelerating. Piketty and Luther, though viewing such structural inequality through different lens, come up with similar prescriptions for reform, Piketty through democratic processes, Luther through thesis and catechism.

I had no idea that Luther was anything more than a brilliant theologian who told it like it was, or that he was a perceptive economist, but consider this: In the Large Catechism he made it clear that he was addressing not just individual economic matters but also systematic (structural) economic matters. He wrote: “Thievery is the most common craft and the largest guild on earth. . . Armchair bandits. . .  rob and steal under the cloak of legality. . .” Tax cuts and Wall Street, anybody? Nothing has changed; the medieval moneychangers and the financiers (big banks) and superrich individuals (Kochs and Mercers) were and are yet stealing and robbing under the “cloak of legality” furnished them by bribed politicians via “campaign contributions.” We are still wallowing around in a medieval system of rewards and punishments desperately in need of a new either religious or secular Luther armed with theses calling for justice for all. Where is he or she? Our economy cannot withstand much more of this lopsided treatment before, in my opinion, we lose social cohesion and the entire structure comes crashing down.

So Luther and Piketty agree, though their views of what transpired and is transpiring were viewed through different lenses. We know Piketty was a brilliant economist who already had a PhD at age 22 and was lecturing at an Ivy League school (MIT), but what about Luther the Man (as opposed to his best known description as Father of the Reformation 500 years ago)?

Luther was the son of a copper miner, was a citizen of the German state of Saxony and a resident of Wittenberg, then considered to be a “boondocks” town, became a monk with a doctorate in theology, and taught at the local university. He enraged the then Pope with his theses and marriage to an ex-nun, prompting the Pope to have an army track him down for burning at the stake. Fortunately, the Elector of Saxony took him into his castle and for the year that he was in hiding he committed another sin: He translated the Latin Bible into the vernacular. Fortunately he survived the Pope’s wrath after allowing literate Germans to know the secrets formerly known only to clergy, who interpreted such holy script in accord with papal instructions. (Which, negatively stated, is akin to the modern day removal of Civics from the high school curriculum in Texas by the State School Board – the new papal regime – keep ‘em dumb and scared and Ky subjects of political manipulation.)

However, there is hope for reform in our lifetime. The current Pope is from Argentina and is a Jesuit intellectual well-acquainted with the liberation theology of Latin American Catholic clergy, a theology not altogether in line with papal pronouncements of yore. There is reason to believe that the present Pope, Francis, is willing to tackle economic problems from both the lens of clergy and the secular  Piketty, a refreshing happenstance. I can only hope that reform comes soon; that capitalists in the long run look in the mirror and see the seeds of destruction of the system as presently practiced that has afforded them wealth beyond reason at the expense of the rest of us, and that they will voluntarily reform their own practices for the benefit of all, including, in the long run, themselves.

Finally, consider this famous comment of the now-deceased Brazilian Catholic Archbishop Dom Helder Camara through his clerical lens: “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.” Ponder that framing; it would make Goebbels blush.      GERALD         E

PIKETTY AND THE MINING MONK

PIKETTY AND THE MINING MONK
My followers know that Piketty’s great book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, is my secular bible. I keep it for ready reference at bedside and at the table where I type my views of economic history and current affairs where economics intersects with government. My contributions are based upon an almost 100 percent view of economics as a man-made social science under an almost purely secular lens; no other lens need apply.
My approach may be wrong. I have just read a short book, The Forgotten Luther, Reclaiming the Social-Economic Dimension of the Reformation, which is a look at the same topic of economic inequality through a religious lens. As we know, the Reformation will be 500 years old this coming October 31, the day before All-Saints Day in religious rituality, celebrating Luther’s nailing of his 95 Theses on the door of All-Saints Church in Wittenberg, a university town where he, as Dr. Martin Luther was a professor.
Thus began Protestantism, though Luther wanted to reform the Catholic Church of his day, not start a new church. He failed; he let the genie out of the bottle with his nailing of his denunciations of a Catholic Church mired in medieval practices, practices that had a lot to do with the sale of indulgences but, as I now know after reading this book written by theological professors, he was dismayed by the way the papacy borrowed money at usurious rates to build buildings and threaten the mostly illiterate Christians of that day with purgatory and hell if they didn’t pay up so Rome could build its great buildings and pay its great painters of the time to inscribe them – but on borrowed money.
Luther thought that was wrong, and I think he was right. It appears that sticking it to the poor for the ease and comfort and prestige of the rich and governing class is nothing new to this day. Look around. Perhaps there is moral dimension to this grotesque maldistribution of income and wealth produced by our economy that I have not appreciated. After all, the problem remains the same whether viewed through a secular or religious lens, so perhaps as a matter of approach I should start paying more attention to the moral dimension such structural economic inequities present for solution.
This Reformation Day 500 years later, if not the beginning, was an addition to the structural inequality of the economics of that day as still read through both secular and religious lenses today. The structural inequality of economics has lasted for centuries before the Reformation and into today 500 years later where we see wealth and income inequality persisting and since Reag,an, accelerating. Piketty and Luther, though viewing such structural inequality through different lens, come up with similar prescriptions for reform, Piketty through democratic processes, Luther through thesis and catechism.
I had no idea that Luther was anything more than a brilliant theologian who told it like it was, or that he was a perceptive economist, but consider this: In the Large Catechism he made it clear that he was addressing not just individual economic matters but also systematic (structural) economic matters. He wrote: “Thievery is the most common craft and the largest guild on earth. . . Armchair bandits. . . rob and steal under the cloak of legality. . .” Tax cuts and Wall Street, anybody? Nothing has changed; the medieval moneychangers and the financiers (big banks) and superrich individuals (Kochs and Mercers) were and are yet stealing and robbing under the “cloak of legality” furnished them by bribed politicians via “campaign contributions.” We are still wallowing around in a medieval system of rewards and punishments desperately in need of a new either religious or secular Luther armed with theses calling for justice for all. Where is he or she? Our economy cannot withstand much more of this lopsided treatment before, in my opinion, we lose social cohesion and the entire structure comes crashing down.
So Luther and Piketty agree, though their views of what transpired and is transpiring were viewed through different lenses. We know Piketty was a brilliant economist who already had a PhD at age 22 and was lecturing at an Ivy League school (MIT), but what about Luther the Man (as opposed to his best known description as Father of the Reformation 500 years ago)?
Luther was the son of a copper miner, was a citizen of the German state of Saxony and a resident of Wittenberg, then considered to be a “boondocks” town, became a monk with a doctorate in theology, and taught at the local university. He enraged the then Pope with his theses and marriage to an ex-nun, prompting the Pope to have an army track him down for burning at the stake. Fortunately, the Elector of Saxony took him into his castle and for the year that he was in hiding he committed another sin: He translated the Latin Bible into the vernacular. Fortunately he survived the Pope’s wrath after allowing literate Germans to know the secrets formerly known only to clergy, who interpreted such holy script in accord with papal instructions. (Which, negatively stated, is akin to the modern day removal of Civics from the high school curriculum in Texas by the State School Board – the new papal regime – keep ‘em dumb and scared and easy subjects of political manipulation.)
However, there is hope for reform in our lifetime. The current Pope is from Argentina and is a Jesuit intellectual well-acquainted with the liberation theology of Latin American Catholic clergy, a theology not altogether in line with papal pronouncements of yore. There is reason to believe that the present Pope, Francis, is willing to tackle economic problems from both the lens of clergy and the secular Piketty, a refreshing happenstance. I can only hope that reform comes soon; that capitalists in the long run look in the mirror and see the seeds of destruction of the system as presently practiced that has afforded them wealth beyond reason at the expense of the rest of us, and that they will voluntarily reform their own practices for the benefit of all, including, in the long run, themselves.
Finally, consider this famous comment of the now-deceased Brazilian Catholic Archbishop Dom Helder Camara through his clerical lens: “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.” Ponder that framing; it would make Goebbels blush. GERALD E

 

TRUMP, EMPATHY AND THE CIRCUS

TRUMP, EMPATHY AND THE CIRCUS

I am a lawyer and not a psychiatrist but I know enough about human nature to know that Donald Trump’s narcissism will not allow him to be upstaged by anybody, or even by events. He refuses to have anything but praise for his administration’s handling of the recent disasters in Houston, Florida, the Virgin Islands and especially Puerto Rico. He not only blames the victims of these catastrophes for their plight but demonstrates an utter lack of empathy for their situations with such observations that “It could have been worse,” or “Katrina was worse,” or (as to Puerto Rico) “The locals are lazy” etc.

In his addled otherworld, he must have all of the praise and adulation available, so if it is football season he attacks the players; if it is hate the Mexicans time he pardons a fascist sheriff who led the hate mongering; if it’s the Las Vegas catastrophe he smugly suggests that “It could have been worse.” He will apparently say or do anything to avoid criticism and garner praise and adulation from his adoring base. He will not be upstaged by anyone or any event that detracts in the slightest from his evaluation of himself and his role and uses the flimsiest of pretexts to accomplish the task (e.g., football players must stand for presentation of the flag, a flag he refused to defend with his phony and multiple draft-dodging, and never mind their Constitutional rights to Peaceful Assembly and protest).

Thanks, Don, and as usual, any FEMA or other shortcoming in providing help from Washington to the homeless and hungry who are victims of these hurricanes or NRA-sponsored shootings has to be someone else’s fault since he and his administration are handling  all such matters perfectly, and so it is that his narcissism and the superlatives he employs in describing perfection will not permit him to be upstaged even by events, much less other humans, humans such as Obama and Hillary, to whom he regularly ascribes any real or perceived personal shortcomings in playing his role as president.

I write “playing” advisedly, since in his world only perception and not substance is everything. He is playing a la The Apprentice at being president. It’s all a show. He has not to date had a single significant piece of legislation passed by his own party’s Congress. He has harassed his own cabinet members’ pronouncements of policy. He has insulted his attorney general; he has hounded his HHS secretary out of office, not for taking expensive plane trips at taxpayers’ expense but for being caught doing it; and the latest insult he has levied is against his own Secretary of State, Tillerson, for the latter’s back channeling with North Korea in the interest of peace, saying that Tillerson “is wasting his time trying to talk to the little rocket man.” Tillerson, like the attorney general, has not resigned – yet – though if they had any honor and dignity they would have gone out the door after such public putdowns by the boss. The best that can be said for their failures to resign is that they secretly feel a need to stick around so as to contain their ailing boss in order to limit the damage the boss will do to our country and world peace.

When the circus came to town in the old days, there was always a march down the city’s streets the day before the circus opened, a march which included acrobats, marching bands, elephants and the like. The kids and even their elders crowded the sidewalks to view the march and were motivated to attend the circus afterward to see the tigers and elephants perform along with gymnasts and trapeze artists et al. Scant if any attention was paid to those at the end of the parade who busily scooped up the droppings of the elephants with their shovels and brooms.

When I heard just recently that “White House sources” had come out to say that Tillerson’s policy of engagement with North Korea would continue I immediately correlated such “sources” with those at the end of the old circus parades, cleaning up what Trump’s thoughtless and ignorant mouth had dumped on the street of our national security (and perhaps even our survival). It then occurred to me that this is not the first time “White House sources” have had to do damage control resulting from Trump’s thoughtless twitters and ad lib banter which are designed to set policy, a design that ignores the advice of career government people in the State Department, among others, people who are intimately acquainted with where we are and how we got here and where we should be headed in international matters. After all, since Trump has told us before that “I know more than all the admirals and generals” it is not a stretch to include career diplomats in that group of his otherworld inferiors.

It appears that such expertise is to be ignored by a Trump who is interested not in the substance of policy changes for the better but in rather framing those who have the nation’s future at heart in degrading and insulting terms that appeal to his base, a framing which not only does not solve the problem but instead enrages those who are seeking solution, whether in matters of trade, defense, budget, and now even the potential for atomic war. It is apparently better for all to die than for Trump to be upstaged in his otherworld of narcissistic haze.

But for the potential for a horrendous result to humanity, I would recommend that “White House sources” put down their shovels and brooms and leave Trump dangling in the cold north wind of ignorance and irresponsibility with his twitters dreamed up in his otherworld and foisted off on his base for their praise and adulation. However, nearly all of us live in the real politik world of brilliant diplomats both past and present who engaged friend and foe alike in attempting to solve their differences, engagements that especially cry out for success in this atomic age.

I note that Trump did not appear to be aware of Tillerson’s back-channeling effort with North Korea, but whether he knew or not, his insulting language leveled at both Kim and Tillerson was a blow to the possible success of such negotiations.  Thanks, Don! I finally note that Trump had nothing to say about the recent back-channeling of his son in law, Kushner, with the Russians, and I wonder why. Perhaps when “Mueller Time” finally arrives we will be objectively enlightened on such matters, as finally, and not a minute too soon,evidence trumps spin.    GERALD       E