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LORDS AND SERFS TODAY

LORDS AND SERFS TODAY

Professor Kennedy in her blog today quotes from a paper submitted by one of her students at the end of the spring semester just concluded which treats our present disarray in government and in our economy with the clarity one would expect from a Woodrow Wilson scholar, and were I her professor I would give her an A. The student ended her scholarly description of people, policies and events with a call for a system that works for all rather than the one we have now, where the system works for the few. Professor Kennedy noted that she (the professor) has no fear of tomorrow if this student’s views are representative of  those in tomorrow’s governing class. I agree, and responded to her contributors, slightly edited, as follows.

Professor Kennedy has opened up one of my favorite topics today – governing philosophy – so brace yourself for my philosophical take, as follows.  One could argue that Citizens United brought us nothing new but merely affirmed the existing order of things, i.e., made it official, which suggests that we dissidents should spend our time and energy on changing the undergirding realities that brought us Citizens United in a judicial affirmation of a political order that already enabled libertarian Kochs and Mercers and other dark money zillionaires to buy elections. The ultimate remedy, of course, is called voting for change from Citizens’ impact, assuming Putin allows such process to proceed and Republicans end or at least slow their voter suppression tactics.

How did we get to where we are, and what are we doing to identify and rid ourselves of governing philosophies that harken back to East India Tea days of royal monopoly one step removed from today’s financiers on Wall Street (the new royalty)? Are we still operating as an East India Tea monopoly under cover of weak and unenforced Sherman and Clayton Acts which were thrown to the masses during the Gilded Age as a bone to avoid civil commotion and the wrath of Teddy Roosevelt?

Who these days is enforcing Sherman? Trump, or even recent Democratic presidents, or are they too beholden to libertarian and PAC cash to honestly advocate for the 99% (except when they are on the stump with their MAGAs and other meaningless mantras)? Perhaps it is time to attack underlying causes as well as the symptoms of our current economic and political malaise in this lord v. serf brawl (1% vs. 99%), as in, by what right do the few totally control the distribution of the wealth and income from our economy? How could anyone in the 99% of whatever political stripe as a stakeholder in our economy vote for that when you consider that this is our economy, not that of mere investors in our markets, who are stakeholders but not owners of our economy. We are.

Given all of the above, what is it going to take to see real reform in allocation of power and resources between these metaphorical lords and serfs I have described? Will even a Putin-less election do the trick, or are we merely changing faces of the mantra-elected lords while the East India Tea design continues? When will the serfs be welcome in the castle they financed by their labor, built and still maintain, and when will the lords who inhabit it pay rent to the serfs who by all rights own the castle. Ever?

I have more questions than answers today about how to cobble together a just society from the current chaos induced by a real estate investor masquerading as president sitting in the Oval Office, so you be the judge. What now?       GERALD         E

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TRUMP AND IMPEACHMENT

TRUMP AND IMPEACHMENT

Greed and corruption are nothing new in the human experience, but this package is usually foisted off on us by more subtle means than via a sick man and tweetstorms. Perhaps our problem as recipients of such social, economic and political insults is that Trump does his emolument and obstruction and other crimes in broad daylight while attacking his attackers and we are so caught up by his daily grab of media attention that we are left in fuming rather than impeachment mode.

Our response can be changed, and I propose that we the insulted go full bore after his impeachment as well as that of his AG (and I use the term “his” and not “our”advisedly), refuse to fund his border initiatives, and in general frustrate his plans one by one to give away the store to Putin and Kim and subvert our democracy in the process.

To the argument that such a response would amount to shutting down the government, take a look. It’s shut down anyway except for agency momentum now led by former lobbyists and with an incoherent president who doesn’t agree with his own advisers and policymakers, where even John Bolton and Mick Mulvaney, themselves showing signs of incoherency, are at odds with their boss, a boss who tells Putin more about the Mueller report than our congressional representatives know, and where the several bills the House has passed and sent over to the Senate are not brought up for a vote by McConnell, whose chief job these days is apparently not to steer bills through the Senate maw but rather to ensure that Trump morphs into a Big Brother figure.

So while we fume our democracy teeters and I for one have reached my tipping point. I did not spend time in the South Pacific during WW II in defense of our democracy from fascism to come home and find it under attack from within by a man lusting for all power, whatever his ism. It is time for us to end our shock and fuming at this masquerader in the Oval Office and instead apply our time and energy to excision of this cancer on our democracy. The Constitution has handed us the scalpel for such surgery, so let’s use it. Now.    GERALD         E

WAGE INEQUALITY AND THE SUPERRICH

WAGE INEQUALITY AND THE SUPERRICH
If I may brag a bit, I have been harping on wage inequality for many years, warning the rich who are hogging a hugely disproportionate share of the wealth and income of our economy for their own that their day is coming, and writing recently that the superrich are directly responsible for the rise of a socialistic impulse among the young today (as can be seen with the rise of AOC).
Milken, the rich ex-con, has brought notice of that gathering storm to his mini-Davos meeting in Beverly Hills, and the assorted zillionaires  who attended talked about the problem but did not develop a consensus in what to do about it. That is unfortunate, but I suppose they want to make every last dime they can while they can and leave the solution to their successors (if their successors have that option).
Unlike me, the superrich don’t seem to see a reactionary socialist state in the immediate offing and want to keep our current Second Gilded Age on track for as long as possible, and in this connection I often mount my white horse and write that I am trying to save capitalism, if the capitalists will let me. It appears they won’t.
I also often write that wage inequality (other than Trump) is our biggest domestic issue, and I hereby reiterate that proposition. The rich and corporate class would be well advised to back off their oblivious and greedy pursuit of assets in favor of a more equitable sharing of the wealth and income with other stakeholders in our economy who helped produce such trove lest under a new regime they find their asset-gathering is strictly controlled and/or ended – and the clock is ticking.    GERALD         E

BARR, FOX AND TRUMP

BARR, FOX AND TRUMP

Professor Kennedy in her blog today correctly writes that Fox is a propaganda outlet for Trump, his Tass, as it were. She cites instances of where Fox News pumps out “news” that is racially slanted. approves of White Nationalism etc., and decries its influence on a gullible audience. I responded, somewhat off topic and slightly edited, as follows.

Big Businesses and their mute libertarian lackeys in Congress (the Republican Party has vanished) are supporting Fox’s propaganda for the same reason (diverting our attention) that Trump is. Trump does a good job at diverting issues, as in, for instance, (babies are dying in cages reports overwhelmed by I’m thinking of invading Venezuela babble), but with a different objective in mind, to wit: Wall Street contributes to the public chaos and confusion as cover for their control of our markets, their plunder of our treasury, and (thanks to Citizens United) their takeover of our electoral process (or what is left of it after Putin’s cyber invasion). Trump’s monomania is two-fold: to make money and become a dictator.

Barr’s performance yesterday in which he testified that a president could constitutionally shut down any proceedings against himself if he deemed the process unfair was rightly defined as “the road to tyranny” by Hillary Clinton. Consider that the impeachment process is a “proceeding” and one Trump would, of course, find unfair under Barr’s bizarre definition. He would shut it down and the rule of law would be totally subverted to his dictatorial whim. Hillary’s observation is right to a fault – and chilling. With Big Money supplying the grease and Fox supplying the Goebbelspeak and an AG who openly advocates crowning of this real estate investor as der fuehrer, we have an existential problem, Houston.

So what to do? Take every available means of ridding ourselves of OUR (?) lawyer, who is running interference for Trump’s dictatorial ambitions, including but not limited to his impeachment, citation for contempt, indictment, or any other available remedy while also filing articles of impeachment against der wannabe fuehrer. To the argument that we cannot do legislative business and conduct such constitutionally required remedies (if we are to save our democracy) at the same time, I note that if we play the Good Germans and allow der fuehrer to become Big Brother, there won’t be any legislative or judicial business to transact. Big Brothers don’t have legislatures or judges; all power resides in Big Brother, so let’s ignore the Barrs and Trumps of this world and make our move to save our most precious asset held in common – our democracy. History is watching.       GERALD           E

BIG BROTHER, TRUMP AND NEW IDEAS

BIG BROTHER, TRUMP AND NEW IDEAS

Professor Kennedy  in her blog today tells us that a Muslim professional (and permanent resident of Israel) was denied entry to the United States due to new Trump regulations though he had been here before, had been invited to give a speech (which Professor Kennedy had planned to attend and interview him afterwards), and had planned to attend his daughter’s wedding in Texas while here. Trump the racist apparently did not want to have him in the country though this man preached non-violence in lectures here and elsewhere. She discussed First Amendment rights that are being assailed by right wing politicians and the need for new ideas in dealing with those who may say things we don’t like but which they nevertheless have a right to say, citing Justice Holmes (and I here on my own cite Voltaire, who famously intoned that “I do not agree with what you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it).” I responded to her effort, slightly edited, as follows.

Though predating the Constitution, it was “new ideas” our colonialist forefathers had that gave us our nation. Those throwing tea into the Boston harbor had new ideas. Those who were victims of taxation but not representation had new ideas. Madison, Jefferson, Adams and others of the post-Enlightenment era had new ideas.

I thought a key observation of Professor Kennedy’s offering today was to note that those who would remove others’ constitutional rights risk similar treatment. Thus while freedom of speech does not include the right to yell fire in a crowded theater, it does include the right to advise the fire marshal that the theater is overcrowded, drawing a bright line in the application of selective freedom of speech depending upon its effect on the common good. Thus the courts have held that one is entitled to privately be a racist but cannot participate in lynching those one hates.

Trump’s racist policies amount to a figurative lynching of Muslims (and everyone else irrespective of race and/or religion whether Democrat or Republican who is a perceived roadblock to his drive to authoritarianism). He is on the wrong side of history, has no sense of constitutional limitations, and must be impeached and removed from office while we still have (if fleeting) the power to do so. We are in the midst of a constitutional Article 1 versus an Article 2 war of words, one we dare not lose since it is plain as day that our democracy is at stake if Article 2 emerges the winner.

Impeachment is a constitutional and (fortunately, given Trump’s and McConnell’s packing of the courts) extrajudicial means of ridding ourselves of this wannabe dictator. Yes, it will be disruptive and loud, but necessary if we are to escape a Big Brother regime, so let’s get on with it by, figuratively speaking, climbing the ramparts.     GERALD          E

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HEADCOUNTS AND POLITICS

HEADCOUNTS AND POLITICS

Professor Kennedy’s blog today discusses the upcoming Supreme Court’s decision on the census issue and the likely reversal of three appeals which rejected the Trump administration’s brazen and racist attempt to add a qualifier to the census count which would punish Democratic cities both politically and financially. I responded to her blog, slightly edited, as follows.

Consider the tax impact on municipalities inherent in these three census cases, and consider the record of the ringmaster (Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce) who came up with this nakedly political and racist idea, one designed to punish mostly democratic cities. Ross, like many in the Trump administration, should be in jail for his co-management with a Russian friendly with Putin of the Bank of Cyprus, a notorious money laundering institution on the EU’s no-no list, and I have to wonder if he and his Russian co-manager did not launder a bunch from Putin and his cronies to Trump during his tenure there and if Trump brought him into the administration and gave him an elevated status from which to continue his fraudulent activities such as this census count – but that is a topic for another day.

Back to tax impact > When Trump finds an excuse (as he will if the court reverses the three cases under review), there go billions of dollars that would otherwise have been distributed to municipalities under existing law for municipal services including but not limited to money for police and other such costs, and in order to keep public services intact those who live in cities will either experience substantial increases in local taxes or suffer loss of public services across the board (police, chuckholes, sewers, traffic control, etc.), and guess what? Most of those affected are Democrats. Such a surprise!

So what to do? Elect Democrats at every level of government, but especially at the federal level, and if the court reverses these three appeals (as is widely expected), do a redo of the statutes fleshing out the constitutionally required census decennial to reflect a true headcount census, thus reversing the court’s reversal. Trouble is (and Wilbur’s timing is impeccable), we have the decennial count coming up very shortly and with Mitch in control of the Senate, there is no chance that such correcting legislation could become law (particularly since a Trump veto is a given).

So how to correct this upcoming municipal disaster? Assuming a Democratic sweep for president and Democratic control of both House and Senate, reinstate the federal subsidies to municipalities that were adversely affected by Wilbur’s court-approved punitive and racist census count, or even increase such former subsidies. How to pay for such an increase? Easy. Repeal the some two trillion Trump/Ryan giveaway tax cuts of December, 2017, to hugely profitable but non-taxpaying members of the rich and corporate class, resulting in an absurd reality in which I paid more taxes than Boeing, Verizon et al. Problem solved.    GERALD        E

TAKING THE BAIT

TAKING THE BAIT

I understand that some Republicans are baiting the impeachment trap in the strategic hope that Democrats will move to impeach Trump and suffer the political consequences in 2020. Whether that’s an Uncle Remus recount of Brer Rabbit’s plea not to be thrown  into the brier patch or not, I am taking the bait.

As of yesterday I have abandoned my “let’s wait until we have more evidence before filing impeachment articles” position of Speaker Pelosi. With Trump’s pronouncement that he is and will be going to stonewall all subpoenas seeking testimony sought by the House in keeping with the its constitutional oversight duties, it belatedly dawned on me that Trump is coming full bore after our democracy (or what is left of it) and that if we wait we may have a Big Brother by default, that if so it won’t make any difference what new evidence we uncover, and that Putin would be delighted at such an outcome.

I consequently think that the House has to put the brakes on this guy at the earliest possible moment as we continue to uncover new evidence of wrongdoing and that we already have ample grounds for filing such articles with whatever else we may discover down the road as icing on the cake.

So the Senate will not vote for conviction after the House impeaches? So? What does that have to do with the House’s duty to impeach a president who swore to uphold the Constitution but who now is clearly out to destroy it? Besides, with televised hearings and public pressure, who can say today just what Senate Republicans will do when faced with the prospect of rule by Big Brother which, without a Constitution, ends their power status as well as that of the Democrats in the House. Big Brothers don’t have legislatures.

It is time to quit quibbling with what ifs and proceed to exercise our constitutional muscle while we still have it since our democracy and the freedoms we enjoy are at stake. My new vote is therefore to file articles of impeachment in the House, subpoena  recalcitrant witnesses etc. in the exercise of the House’s constitutional duty to oversee the executive branch, and relentlessly bring this lawless president to heel. We have reached the tipping point, and history will be our judge.     GERALD         E