Posted by: Bruce Allen | October 15, 2018

Imagine Former President Trump in Orange

© Bruce Allen    October 15, 2018 

[This piece is based upon the recent 13,000 word, exhaustively-documented article in the New York Times detailing tax fraud and other ongoing criminal enterprises at The Trump Corporation. The article has been extensively reported on, but I have not read it. The same information shows up in all of the news reports. I trust my understanding, which follows, is pretty close.] 

Trump Family in Jail

Michael Avenatti, the high-profile attorney for Stormy Daniels and others, predicted last week that Donald Trump Jr. will find himself facing prosecution and imprisonment before the end of the year. In his position, actively lobbying for a Democratic presidential nomination, such a prediction would be politically, if not completely, reckless, given the fact that it’s mid-October already and Junior hasn’t even been indicted. So either Avenatti has inside information or he is no longer to be trusted. But I dissemble.

The story is about Mario Cuomo, the People of New York, and the attorneys-general in the states where the alleged frauds, both historic and ongoing, were to have taken place. The People of New York, embodied in Mr. Cuomo, have an intense interest in the nature and scope of the illegal activities described by the Times, much more than as a simple matter of historical record. The statute of limitations runs six years from the last instance of fraud or concealment, i.e., the last time a Trump or Kushner lied about the family business.

Hmmm. The last time a Trump lied about not violating the Emoluments Clause. The last time a Trump profited from the Presidency—Ivanka’s licensing deals in Asia come to mind, as do Kushner’s recent bank loans on his worthless skyscraper. And according to the report, with interest and penalties the New York piece of the pie could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Serious jelly. As a civilian, once convicted of tax fraud, the other six or eight states would file briefs requesting their piece of the action in lieu of trial. Interest rates are rising; forfeitures would loom.

Weisselberg has it all and the documents to back it up. Open season on tax records going back 40 years. And one would be shocked if some of the business in Russia was not financed by the murdering oligarch buddies of Vlad the Impaler. Which would explain why Trump acts as if Putin is blackmailing him; Putin is blackmailing him. The oligarchs are amused by remarkable public acts of revenge. Killing a former U.S. president with Secret Service protection who stiffed them for hundreds of millions of dollars as his empire came crashing down would be right up their alley.

The New York charges will likely involve both criminal and civil actions. Swallowing hard and assuming someone like Mike Pence succeeds Trump in the White House, either in 2024 or even 2020, as President he would be unable to commute a sentence imposed by a state criminal court or courts. Trump’s continuing references to Al Capone over his career suggest, to me, that he knew he’d go down one day, and it would be at the hands of the IRS, backed up by the FBI and the DOJ. Same as Capone. Trump’s successor can call off the IRS, but the states will be a different matter.

Even if Trump were able to keep this ton of prosecutorial bricks from falling on him until 2025, his continuing need to lie about the case— “all legal, all well-documented”—will keep the statute of limitations from running out. Once he is a former president, be it 2021 or 2025, he will almost certainly face immediate prosecution from the People of New York, whom we applaud.

Add this to the list of nightmares confronting Donald Trump. His economic, trade and financial policies, as articulated and implemented by hosers Steven “The Foreclosure King” Mnuchin and Larry “Zero for the Century” Kudlow, are delivering us into higher interest rates, job losses, and, according to the yield curve on short-term vs. long-term government bonds, a steep recession arriving well in time for the 2020 election campaign, i.e., next year. There’s the whole Mueller thing and the dozens of indictments likely residing therein. There’s Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen and Michael Flynn protecting his own son. There’s Trump’s intuitive foreign policy driving the weaker nations of the world into the welcoming arms of Iran, Russia and China. There’s the whole “getting played” by Kim Jong Un and his inscrutable “yes means no” persona, which Trump trusts. Now there’s Saudi Arabia.

There’s Michael Avenatti and Tom Steyer. There’s a horde of slavering Democrats waiting to assume the gavels in the House and come at him like starving zombies, waving subpoenas, in January of 2019. There’s 12 years to Thermageddon and the possibility that Trump will be President for six of those years, stumbling his way to oblivion and taking us with him. From a legal perspective, this looks like the building of an immense logjam, one which could let loose at any moment in any number of places. At least one of those moments will arrive by November 6th.

One hopes it will be the first of many.

 

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Posted by: Bruce Allen | September 11, 2018

One Issue in November Midterms

Sorry, but the 2018 midterms, now officially eight weeks away, are about a single issue. The issue is congressional oversight of the President, as spelled out in The Constitution. Please excuse this rather lengthy and abridged theft from Wikipedia:

“The legislature is authorized to appropriate funds; raise and support armies; provide for and maintain a navy; declare war; provide for organizing and calling forth the national guard; regulate interstate and foreign commerce; establish post offices and post roads; advise and consent on treaties and presidential nominations (Senate); and impeach (House) and try (Senate) the President, Vice President, and civil officers for treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.

The authority to oversee derives from these constitutional powers. Congress could not carry them out reasonably or responsibly without knowing what the executive is doing; how programs are being administered, by whom, and at what cost; and whether officials are obeying the law and complying with legislative intent. The Supreme Court has legitimated Congress’s investigative power, subject to constitutional safeguards for civil liberties.”

In September of 2018, the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives is guilty of malfeasance. It has failed to exercise its constitutional responsibility, as the elected representatives of all U.S. citizens, to keep tabs on the President, in order that he not be tempted to abuse the powers of his office, for instance, by using the Department of Justice as a tool for political purposes. In addition to the customary backscratching and pork, the Republican majority can now add “aiding and abetting the commission of multiple felonies, if not outright treason, by Donald Trump” to its list of barbaric legislative accomplishments.

In September of 2018 House Republicans are acting as defense counsel for the President. Paging the loathsome and felonious Devin Nunes. This is not simply a lack of doing their sworn duty at all, or doing it only poorly. It is a matter of doing the exact opposite of their sworn duty. Not misfeasance or nonfeasance. Malfeasance.

The November elections will determine whether Congress, going forward, will begin to exercise its constitutional obligations as regards Donald Trump. Boil it down and the question kind of becomes, “How do you feel about the U.S. Constitution?” Most liberals would say they support the Constitution, as would most conservatives. As for the Trump base, most of whom describe themselves as Second Amendment Folks, knee-jerk support for the Constitution is baked into their consciousness.

Here’s why it doesn’t really matter how one thinks of oneself politically. On the foundational role of oversight in the revolutionary birth of this country, to prevent abuse by the king, you will discover yourself in favor of it. If you were glad it was there during the Nixon years, you support oversight. If you were glad it was there during the Clinton years and the Benghazi years, you support oversight. And, clearly, if you miss it these days, you support oversight.

There is but one way to restore oversight to the United States. It is to turn the House and conduct proper investigations into the abuses and criminal activities of senior administration officials, including the President. Whichever party controls Congress beginning in 2019 will have the future of the country in their hands. As strange as it may sound, here it is: If you supported the impeachment of Bill Clinton and the grilling of Hillary Clinton, if you wish in your heart of hearts that both had landed in jail, you need to vote for congressional Democrats and Senators in November.

If this viewpoint makes you sick and angry, you have to admit that the issue cuts both ways. Either there is constitutionally-mandated oversight of the President and his administration or there ain’t. Under the present conditions it will be necessary to put Democrats in the majority in Congress, if only for a single term, to get to the bottom of the allegations against the President and his family. Only this way can he clear his name and show his own support for the Constitution.

It may be that all of this will become moot once Robert Mueller releases his subpoenas and indictments. Or Trump shuts down the government in September because he feels like it and nobody tells him what to do. Or someone somewhere releases a tape or a video that fatally offends his remaining support among independent or female or southern voters. Or it turns out that Jared wrote the op-ed in the NYT. It may be that, for the Republicans in November, the House is already a lost cause, and they’re going to have to work to maintain their wafer-thin control of the Senate.

Speaking of the Senate, there’s this:

Image may contain: one or more people, eyeglasses and text

It really is a shame that Mitch McConnell is not up for re-election this year. His day will surely come.

Two months out, it feels pretty likely that the trend is for turning the House and not turning the Senate. However, the likelihood of news and/or events and/or revelations and/or indictments between now and November is high. No blue collar Trump supporter in Ohio is going to get jacked up over the fact that Trump’s debt-financed recovery is finally reaching into the middle class or that some slice of unemployment data is 3% better than a month ago. In general, he’s not feeling the big ol’ tax cut very much. He is preparing, however, to receive his 2019 health benefits package in October, which will likely offer him reduced benefits and significantly higher premiums. Goodbye tax cut. For Republicans, there will be no running on the strength of the economy; most of the base isn’t feeling it. Including soybean farmers in Iowa.

Voters in November can be expected to be unable to see the forest for the trees. The prehistoric concept of oversight will probably get shouted down by the noise and confusion of the various machines built and unleashed to influence the way we think and the things we believe to be true. Robert Mueller, Stormy Daniels, Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, etc., ad nauseum. And the things they don’t want us to think about. Such as Republicans having failed to exercise their constitutional authority, as the majority in a highly-polarized House, to oversee the activities and functions of the President.

How do you feel about the U.S. Constitution?

 

Posted by: Bruce Allen | August 15, 2018

Mueller: The People Have Spoken

© Bruce Allen       August 15, 2018

trump-mueller

Even though the reasons for it are diametrically opposed, events in the Russia investigation have coalesced along with public opinion on the right and on the left. There is, today, a bi-partisan consensus that the results of the Russia investigation be made public prior to November 6. This is big.

Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election probably has 99% of what he wants in order to proceed, and has for awhile. After well over a year with the best attorneys and investigators on the planet and an unlimited budget Mueller has plenty. Zillions of pages of records. Scads of recordings and taps. Testimony from immunized witnesses. Offshore and oligarch bank stuff. And the goods on Russia, the reason for the ongoing blackmailing of Trump by Putin: undeniable evidence that Trump’s win in 2016 was facilitated by the Russians, mostly through social media.

Conventional wisdom, until recently, held that once Mueller was within, say, a 60-day window, he would hold off delivering a report or further indictments until after the midterms, in order to avoid being accused of trying to influence the outcome with an “October surprise.”

You know, like the one Jim Comey delivered in 2016 that changed history.

Instead, by a wide margin among Republicans, Democrats and Independents, some 70% of Americans want Mueller to deliver BEFORE the election, thereby requesting him, through their elected representatives, to expose felonious behavior amongst the Trumpistas, including the family, in time to have a discernible impact on the midterm elections.

Mueller must be thrilled. There will be nothing to prevent him from continuing his investigation into 2019; he can deliver an Interim Report in October, per his upcoming direction from the House and the Senate who are, it seems, intent upon throwing the Special Counsel into the briar patch. He will then be in a position to request additional time, after the House has flipped, to continue his investigation to its conclusion. Were it the Clintons, that would be about seven years.

I want to watch Mueller go ahead and hang a subpoena on the President. Indict Don Jr., Jared, Ivanka, Stone, Cohen, Miller, et al. This kind of timing is known as “malicious obedience,” an art form practiced by the passive aggressive. This is Mueller saying, in effect, “Look. I would have been happy to wait until December to deliver these conclusions, but both the House and the Senate were very clear in demanding that our team deliver prior to November. I argued against it at the time. I lost the argument.”

It’s being mid-August, the Republicans already appear to be on their way to losing the House. This is before Mueller buries the world in subpoenas and indictments. All of these mutts running for Congress and Senate who have shamelessly hitched their wagons to Trump will have yet another front to defend, this one making hash of the entire “witch hunt” facade.

This has never been a witch hunt; these things rarely are. Everything that Trump has said about the investigation, since it started, has been a lie. Over 70% of Americans want to hear about these lies prior to voting for representatives and senators in November.

August recess. September. October. Election. 60 days to take the House and, if at all possible, the Senate. 60 days during which Mueller is going to drop his bomb, Cohen is going to sing, Manafort is going to get convicted at least once, and even Fox News won’t be able to cover it up. It’s going to happen. The days of the Trump administration are drawing to a close. The world needs to prepare for Mike Pence.

Posted by: Bruce Allen | August 10, 2018

Day of Reckoning Looms for Republicans

© Bruce Allen    August 10, 2018 

RE-POSTED ON SEPTEMBER 16, 2018. I WAS RIGHT.

Broken_GOP image

When the pillars of the Republican party decided to get in bed with Donald Trump two years ago, they did so knowing there would probably be a price to pay down the road. They largely abandoned most of their historic principles, held their noses, and went all in with the ludicrous “Trump Agenda,” (No Turbans or Greasers and Give Me All the Money) which changes from day to day anyway. During these two years of rank hypocrisy and amateurish political cowardice, most Democrats have been awaiting the day these hacks would get their feet held to the fire.

That day is approaching. November 6th. Mark it on your calendar.

The recent spate of primary and special elections makes it pretty clear to almost everyone (except Trump) that the Republican party is going to experience an epic fail in November. The deafening loss of the House is all but assured. Maintaining their razor-thin margin in the Senate looks probable, but far from certain. Governorships are in play, many of them playing poorly for the GOP. What is becoming clear is that the Trump brand of support is essential during primaries but will likely be toxic in the general. Which is where it gets uncomfortable to be a Republican politician. And which is where Democrats start flexing their imaginations—this could be good.

Trump and his insatiable ego—really, the guy has a mental disease. Look at his tweet about the Ohio congressional primary—can now be clearly seen to have a divisive effect upon Republicans and a unifying effect among Democrats. If there’s a “Democrats for Trump” movement somewhere it’s keeping a pretty low profile. Amongst Republicans, there are two camps: Trump’s base, and the rest of them, breaking about 40/60. 40% will only vote for Trump Republicans; 60% would rather not. There won’t be much crossover in November or in 2020.

Republicans losing the House represents an existential crisis for the Trump administration. Committee chairs switch, hearings start getting scheduled, witnesses called, subpoenas issued. No more “tax reform,” no more hacking away at the social safety net. Devin Nunes, Douchebag of the Week, is right. Losing the House will put Trump on Resignation Island, all by his lonesome. Watch Don Jr. go to prison? Probably not. Even the current loathsome Supreme Court cannot take on the mantel of brazenly protecting Trump in such a critical time for the Constitution.

I mean, they’ve still got the pathetic Mike Pence on deck. Lose Agent Orange, pick up an evangelical stuffed shirt—that’s a small win for America.

There is far more enthusiasm amongst Democrats than at any time in recent memory, certainly 2016. Women and minorities are raising money and attracting young voters. They have appealing issues to argue—healthcare, immigration, tax “reform,” the Culture of Corruption, gerrymandering, etc. No Hillary factor to defend. The Democratic party is attracting motivated suburban voters, 59% of which disapprove of Trump in recent polling. And for Democrats it’s only going to get better in the weeks until the election.

Trump tariffs will have started to bite, leading to layoffs and higher prices for a variety of consumer goods and raw materials. Group health plans for many Americans will reveal significant 2019 health cost increases and coverage reductions during open enrollment in October. Mueller is going to drop dozens of indictments and may subpoena Trump to testify before a grand jury. Korea could heat up again in an instant. Manafort will get convicted twice, Cohen will get charged, cop an immediate plea, and begin singing like a bird. Bond yield curves indicate a recession is around the corner, economic numbers will deteriorate. The national debt is climbing rapidly; shutdown has been promised by Himself. And Republicans around the country will have to defend themselves against commercials, produced themselves, in which they can be seen kowtowing to this amoral racist buffoon.

There is always the possibility the Democrats in their eternal and generally futile quest for unity will find a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. But, thanks entirely to Trump, what we’re seeing is the Blue Wave building offshore, with most Democrats supporting other Democrats, left, right and center. By the time the wave hits the beach in November, Republicans from California to Maine will be getting scattered across the sand; low turnout caused by marked disunity having been the last straw. What’s the over/under on House turnover? +60? +70?

Serves them right. This is what happens when you sell your soul.

Keep tweeting, Mr. President.

Posted by: Bruce Allen | July 19, 2018

We Have Met the Enemy…

The beginning of the famous line from the cartoon Pogo which concludes, “and he is us.” We have been looking at the condition of American politics in the Trump age from the wrong vantage point. The wonder is not that he got elected. The wonder is that his brand of politics has become mainstream in the Republican party.

As a highbrow—one whose education exceeds his intelligence—I have voiced, over the years, the politically inastute observation that 90% of Americans are, in a word, hill jacks, that the vast majority of Americans are uninformed, under-informed, mis-informed, on their phones or simply too busy surviving to give a rip about existential issues such as climate change, income inequality, human trafficking, global corruption, etc. That, in our hearts, most of us are racists, belief-driven rather than knowledge-driven, paranoid, vengeful, and dishonest. Of this 90%, fully half are capable of walking into a voting booth, saying, “What the f**k lol” and pushing the Trump lever. This “Remnant” of the U.S. population, maybe 40%, is what shapes the current political landscape.

The question, after a year and a half of a guy George Will refers to as “this sad, embarrassing wreck of a man,” is not how we got stuck with an inarticulate, immoral con man in The White House. The question is, “Why is there any reason to believe that a blue wave of any significance can occur in November when the water is so red?”

There is a reason we are seeing more and more racism, divisionism, and veiled coddling (“tax reform”) of the rich at the expense of the poor. These practices lie at the heart of the messages used by politicians to appeal to the base instincts of the body politic. “Your tax dollars are going to inner city welfare cheats. Business is being strangled by job-crushing environmental regulations. Muslims are radical fundamentalist terrorists. Obamacare is a disgrace. What we need is to construct a new Fortress America. Our military forces are poorly equipped. Jobs depend upon cutting regulations, especially on big banks. Etc.”

These positions are simply wrong, so wrong, yet resonate so strongly for The Remnant because they’re what they believe and want to hear. “Dog-whistle politics” encourages The Remnant to think, “Hell yes, cut those welfare cheats off at the knees!” “Most of that environmental crap is just bureaucratic BS.” “Black people just aren’t as smart as us white people.” “If America ain’t secure, what’s the point of doing anything?” “These guys put their lives on the line every day and need the best we can provide them, to torch them ragheads once and for all. ”The banks know what they’re doing. They got a little carried away about ten years ago, but they’ve learned their lesson.”

Ultimately, we get the politicians we deserve. As a nation, we’ve believed (since WWII) that the USA is the dominant military, commercial and moral force on the globe. We fail to recognize what is happening today at the hands of the Trumpistas. A slow motion disaster. Our prominent role in the world is shrinking right before our eyes, courtesy of a Republican president who appears to be getting blackmailed by Vladimir Putin and whose resulting egregious behaviors go uncensored by his fellow Republicans on the Hill, other than those retiring on a fat pension rather than having to buddy-up with the repugnant leader of their party in the midterms. Just sayin’.

The politicians we deserve are gaily leading people in the wrong direction on Trump’s coattails in response to pretty much all of the existential threats facing the country. But The Remnant doesn’t know and doesn’t care. The Remnant figures we’ll all run out of oil at the same time, might as well buy a big Dodge pickup to drag the boat. The Remnant cranks up the AC in the summer and the heat in the winter and doesn’t care. Most of the remnant will be dead, one way or another, within 30 years and won’t have to deal with the consequences. That their kids and their grandkids will, they believe, is just the way it goes. They’ll probably fix it by then anyways.

As the famous Demotivator poster observed, “None of us is as dumb as all of us.” Our collective ignorance, encouraged and supported by our peers, has reached a tipping point thanks to Donald Trump and the policies (moods) and politics he practices. Unless he is undone in the next year or so by his own perfidy, he will have made it great to be a member of The Remnant, as repellent as it seems to the rest of us. It is only right, then, that America surrender its role as leader of the free world and allow China and Russia to divide up the rest. We no longer occupy the high moral ground. We have become rivals with Europe and friends with Russia.

The kompromat, as has been referred to many times since 2013, has only truly existed since November of 2016. As has been written elsewhere, it is not pee-pee tapes. It is proof, in the possession of Putin, that Russia did, in fact, throw the election to Trump. Putin privately assures the narcissist Trump that he got elected all by his big boy self, but both of them know that’s a lie, and Trump, psychologically, cannot afford to let this information see the light of day. Even if he didn’t encourage it, or wasn’t even aware of it, it would be lethal for his ego to have to deal with it. A social media program focused heavily on Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania that was designed to help Trump. A program that worked.

The funny thing is that The Remnant would probably be okay with it, as long as they felt Trump was unaware of it. Trump himself might find it unacceptable, but his fans would gleefully overlook it in order to maintain what has become the status quo. The Remnant enjoys getting under the skin of highbrows, and gets mostly ignored by everyone else. The Remnant feeds its own flames. The Remnant is winning.

We have met the enemy, and he is us. Some of us, anyway.

Read More…

Posted by: Bruce Allen | July 11, 2018

Sea Level Rise: Global Warming at its Worst

© Bruce Allen.    July 11, 2018 

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Global warming chart CO2

The good news is that we really no longer need to concern ourselves about how to avoid global warming and its attendant shocks. The bad news is that it’s already here. The Anthropogenic Age, the brief historical slice of time when man ruled the Earth and tried to destroy it, is here, for now. Even if global carbon emissions were cut to zero today, global temperatures will continue to increase for the next 50 years. Capital-W Warming’s effect on the melting of the polar ice caps and glaciers, and the attendant rise in sea levels across the globe, is already assured. Populations will need to change their approach to this looming slow-motion catastrophe from one of benign neglect to one of organized relocation. Any thought of building seawalls only delays the crisis or moves it somewhere else.

The challenges for people everywhere are daunting. First and foremost are the impending changes coming to our coastal cities, which are losing the fight against sea level rise. One of the ironies of all this is that the “sinking” of assets into prime waterfront real estate in major coastal cities means that when the inevitable rise in sea levels occurs—say, six feet by 2050, on its way to anywhere from 20 to 200 feet if you believe what you read—it will have a disproportionately negative impact on those one percenters who’ve rigged the urban real estate game over the past 60 years, Urban Renewal having had a nicer ring to it than Negro Removal. Serves the bastards right building in floodplains. There is no way federal flood insurance money will be available to restore these properties, top to bottom, as anything other than as aquariums, museums built at great cost to an urban landscape that will no longer exist.

A partial list of cities for which great masses of prime and subprime real estate are going to disappear over the next 30 years includes Miami, Providence, New York, New Orleans, Charleston, Annapolis, Seattle, Boston, Tampa/St. Pete, London, Mumbai, Jakarta, Guangzhou, a third of Bangladesh, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Chicago; the list goes on and on. The discouraging part is that these losses are already baked into the environmental pie. There will have to be mass migrations away from these urban coastal areas, which will quickly become uninhabitable due, among other things, to saltwater intrusion into freshwater aquifers, ruining drinking water supplies for millions. There is also the problem of sewage disposal when cities are subsiding, built on limestone (Miami), or otherwise at or below sea level.

So our children and their children will need to learn to adapt to a world that is changing above and beneath them. It will have consequences on where they choose to live—both Chicago and Seattle, for our families, will have significant flooding issues—where they work, where they build their lives, where they spend their vacations. Rather than subduing the world, which we’ve done admirably for a few thousand years and aggressively for the past 150, we must now adapt to that world, which is beginning to make non-negotiable demands upon us. BTW, it matters that the world’s oceans are on their way to a pH low enough to prevent the calcium carbonate in mollusk shells from coalescing at all, which would lead to the rapid extinction of most shellfish species.

In the US, great areas of the southwest are, at the same time, at serious, perhaps inevitable risk of losing their ability to provide clean, safe, reliable drinking water to their populations; there will be more migrations from states like Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, California, etc., due to heat and a lack of water for agricultural and drinking supplies. I expect these migrations to head north, into the northern US and Canada to areas where plentiful supplies of both groundwater and surface water exist. Away from saltwater. Away-ish from killing summer heat. Between floods and water shortages there will be a major demand for property in these northern locales. There will also be an enormous loss of agricultural production, most especially in central California.

The possibility exists in this altered future, due to massive circulation patterns of Atlantic water and air currents, for western Europe to begin experiencing hugely cold winters. This, I will believe when I see it, which I won’t. The other issues are at once more frightening and more immediate.

So, while the world fiddlefarts around with stuff like tariffs and building islands in the South China Sea, in the context of macroeconomic systems that depend upon growth for vitality, the globe is heating and melting on a logarithmic scale. A book I read on the subject recently (Extreme Cities, by Ashley Dawson) suggested it would take global resource re-allocations on the order of $20 trillion to go from killing ourselves as a species to saving ourselves. I don’t believe the current, deliberately shortsighted “leadership” in Washington would appropriate twenty dollars for this purpose.

What to conclude from this pile of facts? Things will be different 50 years from now than they are today. We already knew that, we are just mostly unaware of how different they will be. Our children, our grandchildren will be involved daily in measures to adapt to environmental damage, on a planetary scale, caused largely by our generation. In the United States, this will occur under an astonishing level of public debt and crumbling infrastructure. We will have left them a world worse than the one we inherited from our parents. We will have failed as stewards, and they will have every right to resent us for our venality.

Climate change has environmental, social, political, economic and other non-pecuniary impacts. In economics, we refer to these as “externalities.” These are the side-effects of corporate capitalism that are not accounted for in balance sheets, that are inflicted upon communities and environments that support large bastions of capitalism. In the U.S., these include, but are not limited to, pollution of water, air and soil, extreme social stratification, the dislocation of poor people to cheaper, more dangerous living environments with more predictable health problems caused by politicians and corporations that are not only not required to reimburse the world for these identifiable costs but are subsidized by tax dollars for doing so. In Washington, we presently watch the EPA being dismantled on the altar of “job-killing regulations.”

Hogwash. In a sense, there are two kinds of people—those who give a rip about externalities and those who don’t. Liberals and conservatives. Democrats and Republicans. Not that it really matters anyway. As an old friend, an ex-cop on a fake disability, said when I jokingly criticized him (in 1976) for keeping his house at 80° in the winter and 68° in the summer, “We’re all gonna run out at the same time anyway.” He was right then, and he’s right now. It’s a pity, but it’s thinking like that which has brought us to this point.

Posted by: Bruce Allen | June 13, 2018

What Would it Take?

© Bruce Allen  June 13, 2018

What would it take to complete the transformation of the United States from a democratic republic to a fascist dictatorship?

  1. Kennedy or Ginsburg to retire from the SCOTUS and be replaced by another right-wing ideologue.
  2. Republicans to achieve super-majorities in both houses of Congress, whereupon they could be counted on to
  3. Suspend the Constitution and the Bill of Rights on the grounds of a non-specified national security emergency. Jeff Sessions is just the guy to do this.
  4. Declare the “two party system” contrary to the national interests of The State. Outlaw the Democratic party and jail congressmen and senators suspected of either being Democrats or being sympathetic to Democrats. Appoint “loyal” Republicans to fill the vacant seats.
  5. Force all registered Democrats to wear a large yellow “D” on their top layer of clothing or face the death penalty.
  6. Nationalize the airlines, the banks, all companies operated by folks like Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos, Tom Steyer and George Soros, and the major digital powerhouses—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
  7. Shut down all media outlets except Drudge, Breitbart and Fox News. Liquidate CNN, The Washington Post and The New York Times.
  8. Declare martial law, again on the basis of a national security emergency.
  9. Suspend term limits for all federal elected officials. Make Trump President for Life.
  10. Make the NRA a new federal department. Eliminate HHS and EPA.
  11. Declare illegal immigration, drug possession and distribution to be capital crimes. Eliminate habeas corpus.
  12. Create a Department of Presidential Security consisting of death squads authorized to round up and kill people whose liberal social media posts constitute a “clear and present danger” to The State.
  13. Enter into non-aggression pacts with Russia, China, North Korea, Turkey, Syria, Venezuela, etc.
  14. Annex Canada and Mexico, jailing all their political leaders, and sending in the military to liquidate the Mexican drug cartels.
  15. Recall all diplomatic staff assigned to our former allies and jail them upon their return to the US. Suspend diplomatic relations with those countries.
  16. Drop a nuclear weapon on some insignificant African nation that doesn’t have any Trump-licensed properties to show we mean business.

That should pretty much take care of it. There would be a few kinks to iron out and plenty of time to do the ironing. The Republican Party would clearly be happy to play along. This is what people mean when they say we’ve never in our history been closer to becoming a fascist state.

If you had taken a survey of everyday Germans in the early 1930’s they would have thought the prospect of fascism to be so remote as to be unworthy of discussion. The politicization of the Supreme Court and the abdication of congressional Republicans to exercise oversight on Trump are but the first steps.

Posted by: Bruce Allen | June 9, 2018

Trump: Leading the U.S. to Hell

The recent moves by the president on trade and the ACA should swing the House to the Democrats in November.

First, tariffs. Trump’s nonsensical, unilateral imposition of stiff tariffs on intermediate goods–notably steel and aluminum–will raise costs, and prices, for domestic manufacturers of everything from beer to automobiles. The retaliation from our trading partners will reduce demand for exports, notably agriculture. Taken together, this means higher prices for American consumers beginning this summer and reduced prices for producers of a wide range of agricultural products, from soybeans to pork. China’s “promise” to purchase an additional $80 billion of American products in the next year is a good example of the Occidental practice of saying “yes” and meaning “no.”

Meanwhile, Trumpcare is methodically dismantling the Affordable Care Act, causing premiums to rise across the board, insurers to pull out of some markets entirely, and raising the prospect of putting millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions back in the trick bag they inhabited prior to 2010. As gleeful as his base appears to be in losing health insurance and seeing their purchasing power reduced, for other voters–we’ll refer to them here as “lucid”–these things will make life demonstrably more difficult, and will do so in time for the November midterms.

True, the economy is strong today. But Ben Bernanke, who knows a little bit about this kind of stuff, pointed out the other day that when the economy is strong, the last thing you want to do is inject a $1.5 trillion, deficit-busting stimulus, even if most of it ends up in corporate savings accounts. He predicts a stagflation scenario by 2020 in which a long-overdue recession comes along and the U.S., saddled with trillions of dollars in debt going in, lacks the ammunition to stimulate the economy, having already shot its wad in 2018-19.

Mueller will deliver a bevy of indictments well in time to influence the 2018 elections, kind of a counterweight to the expected interference by the Russians on behalf of Republicans. The effect of these criminal charges will be to turn the less-committed members of his base against him.

The old adage about how you make a small fortune–by taking a large fortune and following your instincts–applies to this dolt in the White House. The steps he is taking will put the brakes on the economy, cause unemployment to reverse its historic fall, produce inflation in consumer goods, make health insurance more expensive and unavailable for those with serious health conditions, and make the trade deficit worse.

Trump’s Hail Mary with North Korea, which Kim Jong Un is winning in a rout at present, is terribly unlikely to produce anything in the way of a reduction of the danger abounding on the Korean peninsula. Never mind the increasing likelihood that the repressive Saudi monarchy, and 25% of the world’s known oil reserves, are at risk of an Islamic revolution at the hands of the fundamentalist Wahhabi majority in that country who are itching to get back at their royal masters after generations of brutal repression.

Increasingly isolated from our historical allies, increasingly friendly with autocratic regimes who don’t give a rip about us, Trump is turning America into a fortress preparing for a siege. We can count on House Republicans to fumble away their best chance to fix DACA this summer and watch 98% of Hispanics vote Democratic in November. They will be joined by an equal percentage of those minorities that Trump has savaged for years–women, blacks, Muslims, LBGTQ folks, etc. He’ll get the votes of the remaining 70,000 U.S. coal miners, as well as the remaining employees in the steel and aluminum smelting industries. Plus the rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth mad dogs racists and troglodytes at the core of his base.

Bottom line: Even if the Republicans somehow hold on to the House (and the Senate) this fall, by 2020 conditions in this country–the economy, healthcare, the environment, ridicule and scorn from our former allies–make his re-election highly unlikely. As The Washington Post said in an editorial the other day, the end of the Trump regime cannot come too soon.

Trump dunce

Posted by: Bruce Allen | March 26, 2018

Most Republicans on the Wrong Side of History. Again.

© Bruce Allen. March 26, 2018

NRA Terr Org.

It would be such a wonderful trip if these millions of outraged tweeners (whom we have failed, BTW) became activist single-issue voters on the side of the angels, passing out NRA report cards on every candidate at every rally and etc. If it catches on, the A+ NRA ratings of the Rubios of the world would become political indictments, smoking guns. And we libtards might find a coherent reason to vote, other than just to honor the institution of voting. The demographics, as predicted when Clinton was president, are moving inexorably in the direction of the Democrats and for good reason. This is a young blue wave.

Imagine if the alleged Movement took hold. Imagine Democratic candidates coming out of the woodwork proclaiming their lifelong fear of and hatred of machine guns and automatic weapons. Explaining how the framers of the Constitution could not be expected, in their time, to imagine the immense destructive capacity of constitutionally-protected assault weapons once commonly/now formerly sold at Walmart.

While being governed by Republicans, people of color, the dispossessed, the barista with $80,000 of student loans, people with health issues, people with income issues, in short, pretty much every new young voter, is finding the quality of their lives diminished. This is how modern Republicans get things done, via the Reverse Robin Hood theorem, taxing the poor to give to the rich, all done under the mantle of “reform.” Consistently, predictably on the wrong side of issues, typically bought and paid for by the trade associations involved. They are always in search of new, regressive ways to finance this largesse, and predictably look in the direction of “unsustainable entitlement” programs, the fast movers of which are SSI and Medicare.

The students at Parkland fit the profile. Young, mostly minority backgrounds. We probably hear mostly from the kids who are on the student council and the debate club, the high achievers, but it appears to make no difference to students nationwide. All appear to be on board, regardless of their differences, and all are counting the days until they can register to vote and begin what they claim is a systematic process to remove legislators and politicians who are on the payroll of the terrorist organization called the NRA. And taking things from there. That’s a mouthful. Many of these kids have experienced gun violence up close and personal. Their credibility is unassailable.

Add to this new layer of outrage over guns the upcoming Great UnGerrymandering of the United States, and the ceaseless disgust/terror generated by Donald Trump–taking Congress in 2018 could be the first step in re-defining the Democratic party. The party of single-payer health care. The party of the modernizing of the American workforce and labor markets. The party of outlawing assault weapons, offering amnesty for their surrender, and getting every possible AK, Mac and AR off the streets of the U.S. Turning the War on Drugs into the War on Assault Weapons.

Ah, but single-issue voters, and the candidates who appeal to them, are dangerous, fully capable of spouting crackpot theories on lots of stuff. Personally, I can live with that. If I have a choice of two Democratic candidates for the same seat, both of whom promise to help outlaw assault weapons, I’d just vote for the less-crazy of the two. Most people would do the same. And if they’re against guns, they’re probably liberals; no need to worry about anti-LBGTQ stuff, etc., in the statehouse. This is the thinking of many single-issue voters on both sides. ‘As long as they’re this, I don’t care about that.’

Being a liberal would once again be okay. Revisions to the IRS code and statues governing entitlement programs would steepen the tax curve and the incidence thereof would fall, visibly, on the highest 10% of earners and asset-owners. The way God intended. The earnings cap on social security contributions would be removed, and SSI benefits would be means-tested, i.e., benefits would not available to rich people who don’t need them. Legislatively, this would represent hard cheese for the ruling class. It cannot and won’t get accomplished under the Mitch McConnells of the world. Never mind you know who.

Single-payer health insurance will need to be paid for and will necessitate a multitude of adjustments and changes for practically everyone. It will also take health care off the table, off the list of global-scale problems the U.S. needs to face up to. And it should lower the aggregate per capita cost of healthcare nationally. Medicare runs like a watch these days. Sell it to everyone. Eliminate the need for separate Medigap and prescription plans. Free preventive care and well-baby exams. To those who would shout that health care is not a right, I would say, “Step aside. Please. Your ideas are outmoded. Thank you for your service.”

Coincident with this must come serious efforts to install term, pension and compensation limits on elected officials, and to get private money out of elections. Repeal Citizens United. Remind ourselves that corporations are not people. Get real. The young people coming at you in a massive blue wave need you to get real and keep it real. About the heating of the planet, and the environment, the air and water. Plastics in the ocean.

They have an innate distrust of career politicians. They want to get rid of them, too, someday.

As 2018 approaches and the Mueller investigation begins its crescendo, this wave will attract growing attention from disaffected middle-class Trump supporters. It will begin to change the minds of adults. Back in 1972 I convinced my parents, both of whom were lifelong Dems, NOT to vote for Richard Nixon in his mismatch with George McGovern. They changed their minds, got crushed, and never stopped thanking me.

This new movement, comprised mostly of high school and college students, must make one of their primary goals the enlistment of their parents in this effort and this new approach to being governed. Though thoroughly earnest and completely energized—radicalized— by what has happened, they are currently few in number. Whatever their numbers today, they could quickly double them by getting their own parents on board, demonstrating and asking other parents to discuss the issue. This is how ideas gain momentum on the ground. Person-to-person with people you know.

We must also make it clear that our desires do not include properly-licensed and registered rifles, shotguns and handguns. Assault weapons only. This group of students, as brave and articulate as any adults, if and when it gets us sensible gun law reform, appears ready to take on the world. First, we must devote time, talent and treasure to the effort to attain critical mass in support of banning assault weapons. I believe we will attain critical mass and that the kids will cause the laws to change.

After all, they have a strong advantage—they are on the right side of history.

Posted by: Bruce Allen | January 17, 2018

The Two-Front Wars Faced by Republicans in 2018 and 2020

The fracture in the Republican party, most evident in the House, painted on the side of the runaway truck that is the Freedom Caucus, promises those seeking re-election in the next few cycles cannon to the left, cannon to the right, and, directly before them, cannon  from Democrats, the former, and far more consuming fight an ugly primary with heavy fire coming from at least one side and possibly more.

With political campaigns becoming increasingly more organized around military concepts–needing a good ground (infantry) game, a well-greased effort with boots on the ground, superior deployments,  comms and network, great intelligence–House Republicans will find themselves fighting the quintessential two-front war, generally a recipe for disaster on the field. Moreover, the noticeable lack of enthusiasm amongst staunch Republicans, evidenced recently in Virginia and Alabama, suggests the conscripts may not be that geeked up about fighting hard for the incumbents.

So, hand-to-hand combat with another well-financed Republican in a long and ugly primary, attacking and defending, followed, if one survives, by a race against a Democrat sure to pin the indictments and failures of the Trump administration squarely on your back with a following that is fully charged up about ‘outing the bastards.’ Sounds great.

Sounds like what the 2018 midterms could bring. If Democrats take back both the Senate and the House, the odds of an across-the board rout by the Dems in 2020, including the White House, look good. The good news for Republicans is that many of the Freedom Caucus would get swept away in such a flood. The good news for Democrats is that the economy, by 2019 anyway, will have consumed most of the gains of the tax bill, with interest rates already having risen for months. Some of the wind will have started luffing the economy’s sails.

The only thing holding the Trump administration in the air is the economy/the stock market, both beginning to froth, lotta foam on the beer. Unemployment 4.1%, stock market gaining 1,000 points in seven trading days. But no inflation staring us in the face. Paul Krugman’s ‘liquidity trap’ appears, once again, to be firmly in place. Carmakers are offering 0% financing for 72 months, so they don’t seem to be worried about inflation. The Trump administration needs 2018 to be another brilliant year. It also needs 2019 to be yet another brilliant year. It needs the longest bull market in history (?) to continue apace for another 30 months. That’s a big ask, with China slowing down.

So, can the SCOTUS justices eager to retire hold on until November, and then perhaps until January, to allow centrist nominees to be reviewed by a Democratic-majority Senate? If so, the right-wing tide will have reached its zenith, and the receding water will return to normal, where the political left and center have more to say about how the government is run.  A world more cognizant of facts. A world that makes a little more sense.dropdead

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