Wednesday, February 17, 2016

On Rejecting Trumpism and Socialism

I have not written a post since December. I'm involved with a project where I was strongly cautioned to keep my comments on Facebook, Twitter, etc., as "noncontroversial" as possible. Consequently, I chose to put this blog on hiatus. The outcry was cacophonous (yeah, right). The only cacophonous sound came from inside my own skull. These reflections have become way too important to me and I could give a rat's ass if they're seen by anyone else.

Having given this an appropriate introduction, let's move to the subject at hand. The bizarre, dysfunctional personalities who aspire to succeed the bizarre, dysfunctional narcissist who currently occupies the office.

Let's address the incumbent party first, shall we? Bernie Sanders, who's never held a private sector job, who became Mayor of Burlington by 10 votes, who left the Lower East Side because he couldn't cut it in New York City, who never refers to his Jewishness, who doesn't disavow that a 90% tax rate could be appropriate under certain circumstances, has become the Pied Piper of the "free college, forgive our student debt" crowd, not unlike Gene McCarthy was for my generation. "Clean Gene" promised us he would end the War in Vietnam and save us from being drafted into military service. "Bolshevik Bernie" promises an expense- and responsibility-free future, funded by a confiscatory Robin Hood tax structure. Socialism is predicated upon the proposition that capitalism is an inherently corrupt economic system. It holds that the "working people of the world" are better equipped to run things in a better way (read: "fairer"). But only two structures exist to enable this transformation: bigger, centralized government and labor unions. The former is at odds with the basic tenets of the Constitution while the latter opposes the exercise of free will and uses its confiscatory "dues" structure for self propagation.

Socialism, I'm afraid to say, is a structure inherently at odds with constitutional limits on governmental power, it argues against the foundation upon which the Constitution was constructed -that all men are endowed by their Creator by the right to pursue happiness - and that if a government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the people to alter or abolish it - if the American people choose to place a Socialist in the White House, this country has ceased to exist as it was formulated in 1776. And it is likely a serious effort will be made to alter or abolish it.

It has become difficult to see much light between Bernie and Hillary. The biggest difference, of course, is that the DNC is squarely in Clinton's corner because their "super delegate" construct is so antidemocratic, so in opposition to the wish of the voters, it is impossible to conclude otherwise in light of the New Hampshire primary. Bernie takes Hillary to the cleaners and fails to sweep a majority of delegates. Granted, the numbers are insignificant, but the indicators are clear. Unless Hillary is indicted (which, should it not occur, would be roughly equivalent to Richard Nixon not being forced from office because he didn't want to subject the nation to an impeachment proceeding), she will become the nominee regardless of Bernie's popularity and momentum. The party will see little to be gained by having as its nominee someone who never embraced the label of "Democrat", who traveled to Nicaragua to support the 6th anniversary of the Sandinista revolution. "In the long run, I am convinced that you will win...."

These days I don't think anybody - particularly millennials - give a shit about this. They don't know anything about communism, they don't know what Hillary did to besmirch the women who charged her husband with sexual impropriety and I don't think they care that she freely moved highly sensitive classified information over her insecure server. They don't care that she has lied, that she has lied about a variety of topics for thirty years, that her husband lies and that their Foundation cloaked in a Harry Potter-like cloak of "do good" invisibility is as transparent as the clothing worn by Cersei on her Walk of Shame.

No one's got a care about our $19 trillion debt. No one's got a care about about how Bernie and Hillary intend to pay for this panoply of giveaways. The only thing that matters is that they pledge to preserve and expand social welfare programs. There is no mention - whatever - that half the people in this country pay no income tax, and it's clearly perfectly acceptable for that status quo to expand. Legalizing 12 million illegal immigrants will not open the tax sluices at the IRS at least in terms of increased receipts. It will open the sluices because social programs already under dire financial duress will be moving into ever more perilous territory.

Which brings me to the most loathsome figure on the political scene now: Donald J. Trump. An egotist for whom we must invent a new adjective, Donald has somehow managed to transmogrify a lifetime of liberal New York politics into the Republican standard bearer. A lifelong pro choice advocate, he now proclaims himself pro life. He is the ultimate establishment insider (particularly on the Democratic side), donating to the Clinton Foundation, praising Planned Parenthood, running his businesses in a cozy relationship with Wall Street investment banks (it could not have happened otherwise), he even donated $50,000 to help Rahm Emmanuel become mayor of Chicago.

There is nothing about him which suggests he's a constitutionalist (or even more offensive, this neoevangelical posture he has adopted), that he favors a contraction of the federal government, that he is committed to proposing "originalist" justices to the Supreme Court, that he is prepared to stand on deeply rooted principle ( did I just use the phrase "deeply rooted principle" and Trump in the same chain of thought?) to fight with the minority party in Congress?

Worst still have been his petulant, slimy, personal attacks on the integrity of his adversaries. "Liar" seems to be his favorite charge of the day, as he endeavors to attach it like a scarlet letter to Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush and, new today, President Bush. He spares Marco Rubio with the label, temporarily, because Trump has cleared the way for Marco to throw the charge around, too. How does Marco Rubio have the cojones (that's Spanish, my gringo compadres) to even addresss, let alone criticize, others regarding their stand on amnesty when he was a charter member of the Gang of Eight? It
would have been called the Gang of Seven without him.

It appears that Trump's histrionics are predicated on two assumptions: one, that South Carolina is an open primary, so Democrats and Independents can vote in the Republican primary; and, two, Jeb's PAC, headed by Mike Murphy, an "establishment" pollster, supposedly has an internal poll with Trump at 26% and Cruz at 24% with Marco and Jeb tied for third in the lower teens. Regardless of the sample size or margin of error, if that is even close to being accurate, it is terrifying news for Donald. He cannot allow Cruz to win South Carolina. Period. That will give Cruz an uncomfortable amount of momentum going into Super Tuesday and will shake the foundation of Trump's own sense of inevitability.

So, he calls Cruz "unstable", threatens to sue him, trashes the Iraq War, mumbles accusations resembling 9/11 "truther" positions, advocates with his buddy Sean Hannity that we should have seized the natural resources of Iraq and possibly Kuwait (yeah, that's sure to "destabilize" the Middle East that would make the consequences of the Iraq War mild in comparison), threatens worldwide trade wars by advocating the imposition of ponderous tariffs in a misguided effort to "bring American jobs back to America". The list is endless.

I do not believe Trump can win South Carolina without Democrats and Independents, so he eschews any pretense of "conservatism" or 'Republicanism" or whatever you want to call it to pander to those voters. I've never heard a word of criticism from him about the role that trade unions have played in driving jobs - particularly manufacturing jobs - into countries with lower labor costs.

He delights in singling out a company like Ford - the only auto manufacturer who did not accept federal bailout funds Mr. Trump supported - for moving a substantial manufacturing presence to Mexico. But, unlike GM, which emerged from certain bankruptcy with substantial ownership by the UAW (and which has not repaid the American taxpayer) or Chrysler which was effectively "given" to
Fiat, Ford has made the election - which for the moment it remains free to do - to do what's best for its shareholders and to maximize its profits. Is there some underlying criminality in that? But it somehow offends Donald's sense of what is fair or right that he proposes punishing the company by unilaterally imposing trade sanctions on it?  It is patently illegal, cronyism as its worst and
completely indicative of how Mr. Trump will approach management of the economy. Why not force the UAW into renegotiating its labor contracts and seizing portions of its equity stake until the taxpayers are made whole? Why not force Fiat to move its manufacturing facilities from the EU to the US since we gave them such a sweet deal on Chrysler? Maybe because the non-Donald controlled segment of American business doesn't function like a private fiefdom.

Donald is no more a constitutionalist than Barack Obama. His whole life he has worked in the interests of broader, centralized federal power. He expresses no obvious interest in expanding the authority of states rights unless it's suggested to him by Sean Hannity. "Don't you want to balance the budget?" "Of course, I do." " Don't you want to see Obamacare replaced with portability, health savings accounts and cross state competition?" "Oh, yes - do you know how much money my company would save if we could buy insurance like that?" "Are you prepared to lower taxes?" "We're going to lower taxes like you wouldn't believe."

We are simply trading the vacuous "hope and change" with "making America great again". No reasonable person would disagree with either, but the malaise and division wrought by the former doesn't hold much promise that the absence of specificity attached to the latter will yield much improvement in the lives of middle class Americans.