Why Trump Esteems Putin

June 30, 2015 at 11:56 am | Posted in Conceited, Enemies of Freedom, Presidential election | 4 Comments
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Trump Approves of Putin.  Image created by  thepoliblog.WordPress.com.

Trump Approves of Putin. Image created by thepoliblog.WordPress.com.

This astonishing fact appeared in an important column by Michael Gerson on Trump’s political position, and was discussed in the second half of the previous post.

The present post seeks to understand why Trump esteems Putin.

Why does Trump not see in Putin’s actions what everyone else sees?

The explanation is to be found in Trump’s job history.

“Trump began his career at his father’s real estate company”, according to Wikipedia. So he started with a strong dynastic advantage.
Trump spent almost his entire career as the unremovable top executive of a large company.
No one in his company could gainsay him.
No one in his company could contradict him.
No one in his company could refuse to do what he asked.
Despite nearly fatal business mistakes in 1989 through 1991, no one in his company could criticise him.
Only sycophants were allowed.

In his company, he became an autocrat.
He enjoyed being an autocrat. (“You’re fired!”, said he, with relish and glee. )
He eventually came to believe that autocracy was the only effective way to obtain results.

That is why Trump approves of Putin, and is unable to see how massively Putin has damaged Russia.

Conscience leads almost every autocrat to wish to believe that they are a benevolent autocrat.

Trump wants to believe that he is a benevolent autocrat.
That is why he repeatedly says “They love me!” (The emphasis is his.)
When you hear words, even if they were spoken by yourself, they activate the same neural chains that are activated by words spoken by others.
So words spoken aloud by yourself are more comforting and supportive, and they carry a whiff of objectivity and outside validation.
(That is why prayer and wishes and political slogans said aloud, either by yourself or spoken in unison in a crowd, are so much more reassuring than silent prayers or wishes or slogans.)
So Trump says again and again, emphatically, “They love me!”

Of course benevolent autocrats are rare, even among those who wish to believe that they are benevolent. Lord Acton’s insight applies: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Acton’s insight does not refer to corruption by greed, but to corruption by rationalization and by arrogance.

Picture of John Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton. Created, no later than 1902, and published in the book 'Letters of Lord Acton to Mary Gladstone', published by Allen & Co.

Picture of John Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton.
Created, no later than 1902, and published in the book ‘Letters of Lord Acton to Mary Gladstone’, published by Allen & Co.

Trump is the opposite of George Washington, that avid self-taught student of the history of freedom versus autocracy, who, as the first President of the US, deliberately and adamantly refused to set monarchical precedents, and who accepted the decison of Congress even when he thought it to be mistaken. Washington thereby set the most precious precedents of all.

The Lansdowne portrait of George Washington, painted by Gilbert Stuart in 1796.

The Lansdowne portrait of George Washington, painted by Gilbert Stuart in 1796.

Trump is a would-be President who doesn’t understand or like democracy.
He doesn’t understand the creativity and self-correction that is provided by the intellectual
crowd-sourcing that arises from the uproar that occurs in any open society.

Trump is utterly unfit to be President.

Trump’s advantaged career history also explains his other peculiarities:

Trump is arrogant. While announcing his candidacy, Trump astoundingly asserted that he would make Mexico pay for building a wall along its US border. Make? How? This is Bluster’s Last Stand.

Trump is conceited. So he feels no need to have his ideas critiqued before announcing them or acting upon them. Trump asserted that Mexico keeps its good people for itself, and “sends” its criminals and other misfits to the US. Does Trump suppose that a panel in Mexico reviews information about each of it citizens, and then issues orders to each, either stay or head north? This breathtaking idiocy is of a piece with Trump’s assertion that Putin has boosted the rest of the world’s opinion of Russia. It is also of a piece with Trump’s disastrous business decisions during the late 1980s and early 1990s, which nearly bankrupted his business and himself.

Trump is tone deaf. He has far less than the normal ability to see himself as others see him. He has lost much of his former skill in mentally mirroring others that was demonstrated by his college career. He seems to have retained only the mental mirroring skills needed for business deals.

It is sometimes asserted that sucess in business is one of the best indicators of suitability for executive office.

Trump illustrates the truth that being a business executive who lacks extensive experience in elective politics, or in another arena having frequent give-and-take between evenly matched participants, does not indicate suitability for high office. Instead it indicates unsuitability. (The same is true for military leaders.)

Trump illustrates the truth that a sense of entitlement is the root of most evil.

Trump is utterly unfit to be President.

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Was Donald Trump Born in the US?

June 25, 2015 at 12:31 pm | Posted in Conceited, Disinformation, Enemies of Freedom, Enemies of Planet Earth, Global warming, Presidential election | 5 Comments
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Trump Sr. at Citizens United Freedom Summit in Greenville South Carolina May 2015, photo by Michael Vadon.

Trump Sr. at Citizens United Freedom Summit in Greenville South Carolina May 2015, photo by Michael Vadon.

Donald Trump recently announced that he is running to become the next President.

This is the same Donald Trump who refused to accept the abundant evidence that Barack Obama was born in the US, and that Obama’s Presidency was therefore legitimate according to paragraph 5 of Section 1 of Article II of the Constitution of the United states of America.

This is the same Donald Trump who insisted that President Obama publish a validated copy of his birth certificate.

Billboard challenging the validity of Barack Obama's birth certificate. The billboard is located in South Gate, and photo was taken on November 12, 2010.

Billboard challenging the validity of Barack Obama’s birth certificate. The billboard is located in South Gate, and photo was taken on November 12, 2010.

Barack Obama's long form birth certificate, from the State of Hawaii Department of Health

Barack Obama’s long form birth certificate, from the State of Hawaii Department of Health.

This is the same Donald Trump who wasted so much of his own time and attention, and that of the public, by being the last prominent ‘birther’ to refuse to accept the abundant solid evidence about the place of Obama’s birth. This is the same Donald Trump who ensured that time and energy and newsprint and bandwidth would continue to be wasted on what was generally acknowledged to be a refuted claim.

This is the same Donald Trump who selected himself to stand in the schoolhouse door, in what everyone knew would be a futile attempt to block Obama’s path.

Is this Donald Trump eligible to be President?

Is the energy and time – his own and the public’s – that Trump expended on this silly charade, an indication of how he would allocate his attention and the nation’s resources, if he became President?

He was smart enough to know that it was a charade, wasn’t he?

If he did, then his wasting of our time and energy was so egregious that it was unpatriotic.
If he didn’t, then he is unfit to be an executive of anything.

I cannot believe that he was stupid enough to fall for the birther wishful thinking.

Therefore he had chosen self-promotion over the welfare of the country.

That is unpatriotic enough to make us wonder, was Donald Trump born in the USA?

At Trump’s every campaign appearance, demand to see his birth certificate.

Demand that he publish a certified copy.

—————————————–Trump’s Approval of Putin

Michael Gerson recently reviewed lesser known aspects of Trump’s political history.

The review contained a bombshell: Donald Trump’s approval of Putin, the most destructive tyrant of Russia since Stalin. Gerson’s column says of Trump:

The defects of democracy, in this view, are remedied by the strongman. It is not a coincidence that Trump expresses admiration for Vladimir Putin. “He’s doing a great job,” says Trump, “in rebuilding the image of Russia and also rebuilding Russia, period.”

Official portrait of Vladimir Putin (2006). This file comes from the website of the President of the Russian Federation and is copyrighted.

Official portrait of Vladimir Putin (2006). This file comes from the website of the President of the Russian Federation and is copyrighted.

Putin: the person who derailed Russia’s transition to becoming a fair and open society, governed by the rule of law, instead of by the convenience of a mafia.

Putin: the mugger who robbed Crimea from Ukraine because Ukraine had overturned Putin’s protogee Viktor Yanukovych. Putin: who subsequently manufactured a surprisingly well equipped military separatist movement in eastern Ukraine that has triggered a new cold war.

Somehow Trump forgot to mention his admiration of Putin while announcing his candidacy.

After all, the voters deserve to know about each candidate’s role models.

Is someone who approves of Putin fit to be President?

At Trump’s every campaign appearance, ask him about his approval of Putin.

At every interview, ask Trump about his approval of Putin.

Donald Trump:

320x480.DonaldTrump.May2015.UpsideDown

A birther, who wasted everyone’s time by pretending that a dead issue was still alive, solely to draw attention to himself.

An admirer of Vladimir Putin’s approach to governing.

This post can be summarized in three words: Trump Tramples Truth!

Your comments are welcome.
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John Boehner’s Priorities

October 15, 2013 at 8:46 pm | Posted in Abuse of Office, Disinformation, Dysfunctional Politics, Fairness | 1 Comment
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Official portrait of United States House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), turned upside-down.

Official portrait of United States House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), turned upside-down.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives determines which bills are brought to a vote.

The Speaker is therefore supposed to serve the entire House, not just his own party.

In that respect, the Speaker’s responsibility is like that of the President: to act in the interest of the whole country.

John Boehner does not so act.

The present crisis would have been averted if Boehner had brought to vote a bill that had substantial support, and which would have resolved the present stalemate in a prudent, pragmatic fashion.

He refused to do, and lied about his reason.  He claimed that the bill didn’t have enough votes to pass, while knowing knew full well that the Democrats together with 18 to 21 Republicans were willing to vote for the bill, and would have been enough to assure the bill’s passage.

He carefully did not state his real reasons:
(1) Despite serving the country’s interest, that manner of passage would have emphasized the Democrats constructive role, and also the fissure between the doctrinaire wing of the Republicans and the pragmatic (and more patriotic) Republicans, who wanted the government be useful,
(2) Boehner’s own vow – not sanctioned by the Constitution, nor by any principle of useful government – to not bring to a vote any bill that would not pass by Republican votes alone,
(3) bringing those bills to a vote would aggravate the pee party, which might challenge him in the next Republican primaries.

His choices reveal his priorities.

Boehner’s priorities are, starting with his highest:
1.  John Boehner’s political future.
2.  The Republican Party.
3.  The United States.

John Boehner doesn’t have a statesmanlike bone in his body.

At the next election, remember: Ohio and the United States would both be better off without him.

 

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A Scam Artist as President?

September 10, 2012 at 9:20 pm | Posted in Disinformation, Dysfunctional Politics, Fairness, Presidential election | Leave a comment
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Mitt Romney, photographed by Gage Skidmore, 7 October 2011

Mitt Romney, photographed by Gage Skidmore, 7 October 2011

Legal but unethical.  That describes how Bain Capital operated under Willard “Mitt” Romney, according to an article in The New Yorker.  (Unfortunately, although I remember the article vividly, I have not been able to locate my printed copy, nor a web link to it.  So I cannot cite the article’s author and date.  If you have that information, please provide it to me in a comment.)

Under Romney, Bain Capital used a bait and switch scam to reduce the price it paid when buying companies.

When a company that wished to be bought requested bids, Bain Capital submitted a generous bid.  That shut the other bidders out of the next stage of negotiation, which now involved only Bain Capital and the seller.  Bain capital then found many excuses for reducing its bid, knowing full well that the seller would find it difficult to invite back any of the previously rejected bidders.

This tactic is a type of scam.  It is similar to the tactics of the least ethical used car dealers.

This bait and switch tactic is also similar in flavor to the etch-a-sketch strategy that Romney’s campaign envisioned.

Under Romney, Bain Capital systematically used another legal but unethical trick.  It loaded a acquired company with debt, then used the borrowed money to fund a big payout to itself, and then discarded the indebted company.  Bain Capital was like a spider discarding its prey after sucking it dry.  In an article by John Cassidy (see the section in that article that is entitled “Can you give me an example in which Bain Capital made a lot of money from a company that failed?”), Cassidy reminds us of what Bain Capital did to Armco Steel Corp. and GS Industries.  It is a disheartening read.  Bain’s maneuvers produced success for Bain Capital, but undeserved pain for the employees of Armco Steel Corp. and the other parts of GS Industries.  This and similar gaming of the system is not the kind of ethics and business experience that will be needed for energizing the US economy and job market, nor for reducing the national deficit.

As Louis Menand pointed out in an article in the NewYorker, “… a firm like Bain is concerned exclusively with buying low and selling high. Any other outcome it might pursue at the expense of that concern cheats its investors. This is why talk of job creation or job destruction in the companies Bain invested in is beside the point. Bain was not about jobs.”

But Wiley Willard is not all bad.  As pointed out by Steven Pearlstein, Romney is sympathetic, humane and helpful to those he knows personally, regardless of their economic class.  (An exception is Romney’s comically and needlessly strict rulemaking for his own family.)  But he is heartless and unsympathetic to those he does not know personally, even when their situation is the same as those who he has helped.

Combine those qualities with the fact that both Romney and Ryan make promises they cannot fulfill about reducing the national debt: an many have pointed out in detail, even though their plans are sketchy, they cannot achieve what they promise without raising tax revenues.  Wishful, magical thinking won’t work.

Finally, A remarkable article by Steven Pearlstein points out that Romney is a manager, not a leader.

Romney is often held up as being successful in business, and that is supposed to show that he will be able to fix the economy.  But a lot of his success – and Bain’s success – came from gaming the system, not from doing anything constructive.  Romney’s stratagems and self-serving ethics are not what are needed for fixing the economy.  To fix the economy and create jobs we need to put more money in the pockets of those with immediate unfilled needs, who will spend it immediately.  The economy would not get much of a boost if we instead further increase the wealth of those whose needs are neither immediate nor pressing, as Romney wants to do, in his delusion that the wealthy are the engine of the economy.  Romney’s business experience is of the wrong kind, especially for our present problems.

The Republican Party claims that Obama has had plenty of time to fix the problems that he inherited, but that he hasn’t done so.  (Those problems were created by the Republican Party’s loosening of regulations, by the way.)   The Republican Party’s claim is hypocritical, in two ways.  First, Obama’s stimulus package was a huge success.  The recession would have been far worse without it.  And second, Obama couldn’t do more than that, because the Republicans in Congress adopted – and publically announced – a policy of sabotaging as many of Obama’s initiatives as they could.  They hoped that by limiting Obama’s achievements they would prevent him from being re-elected.  They tied his hands and then sneered that he didn’t accomplish much.  Their sabotage harmed the country as well as Obama.  If you don’t have a job, this tactic by the Republican Party harmed you.  The Republican Party does not deserve to get away with its unpatriotic, partisan sabotage.

Rename Labor Day

September 3, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Posted in Fairness, Judicial Misjudgment | Leave a comment
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Militia aims bayonets at strikers in Lawrence, Mass. in 1912

Militia aims bayonets at strikers in Lawrence, Mass. in 1912.
From the Wikipedia article on Labor union. In the public domain.

We have to rename Labor Day.

Labor Day was created to honor the contributions of ordinary hard working folks, and the labor unions that had improved the safety, wages and benefits of their  members.  Wherever there was competition to hire good workers, that increased the safety, benefits and wages of non-members, as well.

Those union-won benefits put more money into the pockets of those with immediate needs.  They spent that money right away, buying products and services.  Businesses made more and hired more, reinforcing the growth.  That produced widespread prosperity.

But now businesses and Republican legislators have worked together to suck the air out of the labor unions.  In the same way that the gains won by unions spilled over to non-union workers in an earlier time, so did the losses sustained by unions spill over to non-union workers now.

That is a major contributor to our present problems: scarce jobs, most people afraid to spend, budget deficits at all levels of government.

All this is explained clearly in a recent article in the Washington Post.  The article also has good suggestions on what to do about it.

But under the present conditions, it is hypocritical and cynical to have a holiday called Labor Day.

To be honest, we should change the name to Plutocracy Day, and devote it to singing the praises of our oligarchs, since they condescend to allow a little – a tiny fraction, but still not nothing – to trickle down to the rest of us.

We should also limn their elected and appointed henchmen in national and state government.  These politicians, including judges who claim not to be politicians, have been indispensable in converting the US from a democracy back to a plutocracy, just as it was in the good old days before October 1929.  They have also hoodwinked a large part of the populace into thinking that the Republicans and the oligarchs are on their side, fooling them into not feeling the fingers of those who are picking their pockets.  They have even fooled people into thinking that Romney’s and Ryan’s budget plans will reduce the deficit, even though they will actually increase it.

Judges were not the least effective in producing this change.  The article cited above shows how the judges did it.  And who can forget how the extremely partisan Republican majority in the present Supreme Court chose to lift the restrictions on how wealthy individuals and corporations could pour money into influencing elections.  The Supreme Court has lost all moral authority, buts its legal authority sufficed for this scam.

Republicans versus Reepos

August 17, 2012 at 8:06 am | Posted in Climate change, Disinformation, Dysfunctional Politics, Enemies of Freedom, Enemies of Planet Earth, Fairness, Global warming | 1 Comment
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I used to vote mostly for Republicans.

I contributed to the campaign of our local Representative, a thoughtful Republican who considered each issue on its merits, was pragmatic rather than ideological, and did not toe any party line.

The 1994 Contract With America delighted me.  (Does anyone remember it?)

But then the Republican Party zombified itself.  The change became noticeable in 1994.

Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, Dennis Hastert, and their ilk elevated ideology and party loyalty over pragmatic choices.  They sneered at compromise and bi-partisanship, as if they had a monopoly on truth.  Their policy was to stay on message, never revising their positions, regardless of the facts.  Thus they became rationalizers for what would benefit the rich, and purveyors of disinformation.

They ignored the data on climate change.  They saw no need to protect the public against unsafe food, or unscrupulous financiers.  They forgot the great economic lesson of the 20th Century: that an economy can grow stably and generate abundant jobs only when income is widely distributed, so that the many have the means to buy.  They systematically sought to dismantle labor unions.

They became ethically and politically repulsive.  They were no longer Republicans.  They had become Reepos.

The Grand Old Party became instead the Greedy Old Pricks.

Perhaps it would be more polite to replace GOP by POG, for Party of Greed.

The GOP complains about class warfare, but the only class warfare right now is that waged by the Reepos against everyone else.

I grudgingly realized that however much I liked the work done by my local Representative, as long as my Representative was a Republican, that person would have to vote for a dishonorable Speaker of the House.

It is even worse now.

After President Obama’s election, the leading Republicans in the Senate and House said out loud that they would do everything possible to make Obama a one-term President.  They would vote against anything that Obama and other Democrats proposed, regardless of its merits.  In other words, party took priority over patriotism.  For the sake of attacking President Obama, they opposed the very features of his health care plan that he had learned from them.  The elected Republicans became the Party of No, the party of obstruction, the party of no compromise.

Opposition to even the possibility of compromise is un-American, because it is contrary to the goal of an open society, which is the most fundamental principle of the original United States.  An open society was the goal because of its greatest strength, which is the self-correcting ability it derives from give and take, loyal dissent, and compromise, rather than winner-take-all.

The Republican party has lost its previous understanding that a large and growing middle class was essential, both economically and for political stability, that robber barons are bad, that capitalism has to be regulated for its own good, and that – as the Founders so clearly understood – essential functions that benefit all must be funded by all, via the government, and therefore that government and taxes are indispensible.

What the Republican Party has become fulfills George Washington’s worst fears about what partisanship would do to the country.  In his Farewell Address  (December 19, 1796) Washington said that partisanship “serves always to distract the Public Councils and enfeeble the Public administration. It agitates the Community with ill founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against the other, foments occasionally riot and insurrection.”  That accurately describes us, today.  (As for the last phrase in that quote, think of the right wing demogogues on TV, and how their message affects racial purists and the unstable.)

I recently saw a bumper sticker that said, “Not a Republican”.  But the old Republicans were honorable and contributed beneficially to the civic dialog.  “Not A Reepo” would have more accurately represented the thought underlying the bumper sticker.

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