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With all due respect to Bernie Sanders, I have no intentions of romanticizing and/or sentimentalizing Trump supporters as disaffected working classes abused by the Democrats.  Nor do I condemn Hillary Clinton’s remarks about “a basket of deplorables.”  Anyone who voted for Trump is deplorable.

The estimated U.S. population, as of December 31, 2016, has reached 325,032,763. (https://www.census.gov/popest/data/national/totals/2015/index.html). Of the total resident population, 24% are under age 18.  Therefore, the adult, voting-age, population is approximately 247,024,900.  Slightly over 25% of U.S. adults voted for Trump (62,379366).

This mere one-fourth of all U.S. adults voted for a pathological, demagogic, billionaire who will further tilt an obscenely tilted tax code further in favor of the super-rich.  These are people who were willing to vote for an arrogant, insensitive, heir to a fortune who thinks he can sexually assault women because he is rich, powerful, and famous.

A minor proportion of the U.S. population – much of which is anti-Semitic and white- supremacist –  voted a ranting, racist, empty-headed, goon into the presidency.  Any U.S. adult who cannot surmise the dangers this psychopath poses to democracy does not deserve the favors of misguided liberal congressmen and senators.  They are not the people we need to move back toward democracy.

I don’t think Democrats should go about sucking up to Trump supporters and moaning about how they were so let down by President Obama who attempted to provide some public works jobs and a health care program over the virulent opposition of Republicans.  I certainly have my differences with President Obama but he cannot be blamed for a robust fascist movement whipped up by demagoguery.

If exit polls are to be believed, 53% of voters earning less than $30,000 per year overwhelming supported Hillary Clinton (53% to 41%; http://www.cnn.com/election/results/exit-polls).  These people are of the working class.  However, the “white, working class” shibboleth has effectively declassed all working class people who don’t vote like idiots. 

I know that Bernie is a nice guy and that he wants to play nice with racists and misogynists out in the heartland.  But I’m not a nice guy and I say that we fight back against the creeping fascism that received a major boost by people who have no compassion and can see nothing but their own little piece of the world.

For the first time in the history of the United States, a fascist movement has taken power and will be running the country for at least the next four years.  Liberals have a history of passivity and acquiescence in the face of the kind of fascism we have seen throughout history and are now experiencing in the U.S.  One manifestation of liberal weakness is the unwillingness to confront anti-democratic movements and call them what they are.

Robert O. Paxton, in his excellent book The Anatomy of Fascism, lists the characteristics of these types of movements.  He states, that “’mobilizing passions,’ mostly taken for granted and not always overtly argued as intellectual propositions, form the emotional lava that set fascism’s foundations.”  He then lists them as follows on page 41:

  • A sense of overwhelming crisis beyond the reach of any traditional solutions.
  • The primacy of the group, toward which one has duties superior to every right, whether individual or universal, and the subordination of the individual to it.
  • The belief that one’s group is a victim, a sentiment that justifies any action, without legal or moral limits, against its enemies, both internal and external.
  • Dread of the group’s decline under the corrosive effects of individualistic liberalism, class conflict, and alien influences.
  • The need for closer integration of a purer community, by consent if possible, or by exclusionary violence if necessary.
  • The need for authority by natural leaders (always male), culminating in a national chief who alone is capable of incarnating the group’s destiny.
  • The superiority of the leader’s instincts over abstract and universal reason.
  • The beauty of violence and efficacy of will, when they are devoted to the group’s success.
  • The right of the chosen people to dominate others without restraint from any kind of human or divine law, right being decided by sole criterion of the group’s prowess within a Darwinian struggle.

The important thing is to resist!  However, it is important to know exactly what you are facing.

Please take a look at the post below and take heed.  If you know  liberals, progressives, Democrats, or any persons from the left of center on the political spectrum who believe that cooperation with Donald Trump in any of his endeavors is a good idea, please dissuade them of that notion.  It is a fantasy – a delusion. Trump has led the U.S. version of the international fascist movement into control of the U.S. government.

We should never cooperate with fascism.  If your liberal friends or your Democratic representative(s) (assuming you have any Democrats representing you) think that somehow they should compromise and form some sort of  pact with evil, please let them know that what you really want them to do is resist! Resist plans to deport undocumented workers, resist plans to end health care for millions, resist plans to give big tax breaks to the wealthy,  – indeed, resist all of Trump’s looney and harmful plans.

Liberals are generally good people and tend to project their view of the world onto others and see positives in most everything around them.  They believe that progress toward a better America is inevitable. They believe often times that they can work things out with the likes of the Republican party as it has evolved.  Our liberal friends are decent people. This is what I see in them.  What the venal Trumpinista’s about to take control of the government see in these good folks and their Democratic representatives in congress are pigeons.  Trump, Bannon, Conway and the rest of the Ult-right see marks to be conned, bullied, and abused as they see fit.

President Obama had no choice but to welcome Trump into the White House.  He (Trump) didn’t win the election but is president-elect by virtue of the electoral-college stacked deck – an anachronism unfair to the urban areas, minorities, and liberals.  Trump is not fit to be in the same building with President Obama, let alone in the same room.  This humiliation of and insult to the first African American president has been difficult for me to stomach, as I’m certain it has been for most of the left – it was truly beyond the pale.

The right thing to do is to keep taking to the streets.  The right thing to do is to tell our Democratic and Independent representatives and senators to never give anything away willingly (think Medicare, Garland on the Supreme Court, funding for a wall, tax cuts for the rich, etc.).  I’m already hearing some progressives in congress talking about how they are willing to work with Trump (like even Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders – imagine how the moderates and Blue Dogs will be vulnerable to the bullying that coming).

FASCISM SHOULD NOT BE A TABOO WORD

During the past few decades, we have excised the word fascism from our vocabulary.  Instead, we given fascist movements around the world watered down and meaningless labels such as “populism,” or “right-wind populism.”  Words, titles, labels, and monikers have an impact.  Sometimes words become euphemisms and distort the danger of political forces.

From the standpoint of technical, political theory, the movements across Europe and the United States exhibiting nativism, anti-Semitism, racism, authoritarianism, and other fascist factors (see latest post), we can say that populism is a misnomer.  But it certainly sounds better than fascism.  When you hear the British National Party, the American Ult-right, the Marine Le Pen followers in France, and the myriad other such movements called populists, say “no, they are fascists!”

TRUMP AND THE INTERNATIONAL FASCIST MOVEMENT*

By Dave Kingsley

We have seen an interconnected, global, fascist movement growing across Europe, the United States, and other parts of the World over the past several decades.  Nowhere has it succeeded like it has in the United States (except for Duterte in the Philippines perhaps, but I’m referring to advanced industrial countries).   The Marine Le Pen movement in France, the Haider-neo-Nazi movement in Austria, the British National Party, and a strong-man demagogue in Hungary, are a few examples of how fascism is spreading across Europe.  Nigel Farage of the United Kingdom Independence Party and leader of the pro-Brexit forces was a speaker at a Trump rally.  Like Trump, he admires Putin and refers to President Obama as a “loathsome creature.”

Unfortunately, some people are calling Trump’s movement “populism;” sometimes it is called “far-right populism;” and, sometimes, it is called something like “ultra-conservative.”  These are meaningless euphemisms. Fascism by any other name is fascism. In the past few days, many important Democrats and liberals have been failing to make it clear what this election has wrought.  Instead, legitimate conservatives, the media, and even progressives like Bernie Sanders have set about to normalize Donald Trump. Sanders’ op. ed. piece in the New York Times this morning was particularly disturbing to me.

Sanders minimized the movement that put Trump in the White House. Making Donald Trump out to be just another normally elected U.S. president is a tragic mistake – the type liberals tend to make.  Trump is not another William Jennings Bryan.  He reflects the Nazism and plain old vanilla fascism that have reared their ugly heads in the United States since the 1930s.  The Trumpinista movement better reflects the Gerald L. K. Smiths, Father Coughlin’s, and Charles Lindberg’s of the past – their movement didn’t succeed, but Trump’s has.

This is not your grandfather’s or your great grandfather’s prairie populism.  Donald Trump is not William Jennings Bryan.  He and his movement are about power and acquiring it through bigotry, nativism, thuggishness, misogyny, lying, violence, deceit, white supremacy and the maintenance of white-male dominance.   He and his followers have no deep seated theoretical framework based on constitutional principles, or economic-racial-gender justice or any other form of justice.

Stephen K. Bannon, it is said, will become Trump’s chief of staff.  As head of Breitbart News and doyen of the so-called Ult-right, Bannon worked to provide a platform for formerly marginalized fringe groups pushing their hateful theories, such as “the international-Jewish-banker-cabal,” white supremacy, anti-woman/anti-reproductive rights, denigration of people of color, and Christian extremism.  Not only are these fringe groups now brought into the mainstream, they a being given entree to the White House.

I remember a movie about Charlie Chaplin, which I saw years ago.  In the 1930s, Charlie was invited to a party at a mansion somewhere in Los Angeles.  Also, present at this party was a Nazi in his uniform.  The Nazi tried to shake hands with Charlie who wouldn’t shake his hand and merely said, “I don’t shake hands with Nazis.”   Charlie Chaplin has been one of my heroes ever since that time.

 

 

 

The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) is one of those conservative, Washington “think tanks” ( so-called) that have been quite influential.  And they are becoming even more influential in both political parties.  Generally, these types of institutions are fulfilling a mission to protect the interests of corporations and the wealthy elite (see G. William Domhoff, Who Rules America, 2010, pp. 85 – 115).  For instance, the Brookings Institute produces mildly conservative propaganda – passed off as scholarly research (and sometimes it is scholarly and helpful).  The Heritage Foundation is an example of an extremist-conservative think tank, which has been invited into the mainstream by media organizations such as PBS.   The Koch funded Cato Institute represents a radical form of free-market, libertarianism.  Explaining the nature of even the most widely recognized and influential array of these propaganda organs would take a rather long blog post.  Suffice it to say, that public policy is now designed by these elite front groups and often blindly voted into policy by the Senate and House of Representatives.

The purpose of this post is to highlight the AEI – arguably the most dangerous to Democracy and yet most influential of all the propaganda institutions in what Domhoff calls the “policy planning network” (see reference above).  Although the AEI has been in existence since 1943, over the past half century it has become the flagship policy/lobbying group for the neoconservative movement.  Indeed, the neoconservatives have gained complete control over the institution and now use it to further a  racist, classist, and sexist agenda.  For instance, Charles Murray, author with the late Richard Herrnstein of The Bell Curve is one of their most famous resident, so-called scholars.

The Bell Curve, as most people know, is full of rank, racist, pseudoscience.  The thesis of the tome is that African Americans are genetically inferior to whites and Asians (please excuse my loose use of such nonsensical racial descriptions – I’m only quoting The Bell Curve authors).  In 1996, the AEI helped promote this disgraceful piece of atavistic culture by flying journalists to Washington, D.C. for a preview of the book before it was published.  Because it is so full of jargon and phony but abstruse statistical analyses, many mainstream journalists treated it as a serious, plausible piece of scholarship.  They did not have the background or competence to evaluate the white supremacist and neo-Nazi league of academics and propagandists on which Herrnstein and Murray relied for support of their thesis, e.g. Phillipe Rushton, Arthur Jensen, R.A. Flynn, and the Pioneer Fund).

Other despicable racist, classist, sexist propagandists are harbored at the AEI (e.g. Dnesh D’Sousa) but in the larger scheme of things, neoconservatives are fixated on, and obsessed, with what they see as the cultural and genetic inferiority of African Americans.  Neoconservative heavyweights from James Q. Wilson (Crime & Human Nature) to William Bennett, John DiIlulio, and John Walters (Body Count, think “superpredators), have laid the groundwork for mass incarceration, cruel slashes to the safety net, and destruction of the public school system – to mention a few of their successes.  Most of their ranting on domestic policy is extremely racist.  On the foreign policy side of the ledger, they are militaristic and were able to bring about the Iraq War fiasco.

As I have stated,  neoconservative ideology has infected both the Democrats and the Republicans.  They were successful in pushing draconian sentencing laws and severe, cruel, cuts in welfare during the Clinton Administration.  They have been, indeed, successful in destroying humane successful programs and in having them replaced with inhumane forms of incarceration and public assistance for the poor (I presented a paper about this at the American Political Science Association meeting in September and have a forthcoming article on the same topic in the journal Poverty & Public Policy).

It is my belief that Hillary Clinton will be elected president of the United States.  If that is the case, I will be relieved that Donald Trump was not elected.  However, it is highly likely that the neoconservatives will have considerable influence on her presidency, just as they did during her husband’s administration.  Only truly progressive Democrats such as Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders will serve as obstacles to the enactment of AEI policy – about which there will be more in later blog posts on The Tallgrass Activist.

I, the Tallgrass Activist, have been away for quite a while.  It was a time to take stock of some things following retirement from teaching statistics in a health policy & management department in a medical school.  It was a time to work on an innovative statistics textbook (nearly completion with Jones & Bartlett) and to continue research without distractions.  It was a time to engage in some serious political activism (e.g., getting arrested with a group of clergy folks by disrupting the Missouri Senate due to Republicans’ refusal to pass Medicaid expansion).  It was a time to publish years of research pertaining to health care costs and the elderly – that can be checked off.  Also did some traveling, relaxing, looking at art, working at organic gardening and fixing up property in a blighted Kansas City neighborhood.

In the months and years ahead, some of the activities mentioned above will be discussed on this blog.  Mostly it will be about Social Security, health care and the elderly, but from a radical perspective.  Speaking of radical – it doesn’t take much criticism of the neo-liberal capitalist system dominating the United States to be labeled radical and marginalized.  A lot of the marginalization will be carried out by nice, comfortable, liberal/progressives who think that Facebooking, policy wonking, and rallying will somehow reverse the current catastrophic system failure occurring in the global economic system.  Unfortunately, the liberal/progressive enterprise isn’t clearly recognizing the breadth and depth of the atrocity under way as the fanatical, toxic, perverse faux-free-market system wreaks havoc throughout the world.

In the United States, the most pathological manifestation of neo-liberal capitalism can be seen in the ghettos of our major cities such as Detroit, Chicago, Washington, DC, and right here in Kansas City.  From an economic perspective, we are seeing something akin to the European and American colonization of various impoverished countries around the world.  A large portion of the African American population has been isolated through discrimination, force, and manipulation in the historic ghettos of urban areas.  These neighborhoods are neglected by federal, state, and local government while more poor African Americans are being driven from gentrifying portions of cities into these ghettos.

As these neighborhoods are demolished through neglect, the remaining homeowners pay property taxes at a rate that exceeds those paid in wealthy, white suburban cities.  More and more government revenue is being pushed from a progressive, income tax to a regressive sales tax.  Sales taxes, user fees, and other forms of regressive taxation place a much heavier burden on the poor. Cities are using repressive and inequitable policing tactics to collect revenue from poor African Americans – most of which is not returned to the ghetto for basic amenities, jobs, and improvement.  Predatory corporations with the assistance of government at all levels are engaging in subprime unsecured personal, real estate and  auto lending that indentures inner city residents to a never ending cycle of spiraling debt.  Examples of exploitation of poor, African American, ghettoized residents abound.  Suffice it to say, that we are talking about classic colonialism:  colonial powers exploit the resources of a colonized population without an equitable exchange of goods, services, and capital (in this case, the colonial power is the wealthy elite).  A lot is taken but not much is given back.  We can call this “internal colonialism.”

In the future, posts will discuss the health effects of the atrocity currently being carried out by  corporate powers and neo-capitalist elites against the poor masses of the United States and the world.  Incarceration, loss of life expectancy (for poor whites too), unemployment, miseducation, and ghettoization in general all lower the quality of life and lead to a miserable, subhuman condition of tens of millions of Americans.  It is time for liberals and progressives to recognize reality and call it what it is.  It’s good to be back.

There is a connection between the current government shut down, Obamacare, Social Security, and Medicare.  Let’s connect those dots.  The inter-linked individuals and corporations, comprising what C. Wright Mills called the “power elite,” is the force that explains  practically everything that happens in Washington and state capitals.

We need to take a look at what is happening and the evidence that explains the influence of the wealthiest one-tenth of one percent.  In the first instance, the failure to pass a budget continuing resolution and the resultant government shutdown is a charade, a sideshow leading to the main act, which is the “grand bargain.”  The grand bargain is the deal dreaded by advocates for Social Security and Medicare. This is the deal in which most Democrats would like to offer up cuts in these programs.

The evidence is this:  Boehner and Boehner alone made the decision to shut the government down.  How did he manage that?  He merely refused to allow a vote on a continuing resolution, which would have passed the House.  The right-wing crazies didn’t have the votes to defeat it.  And yet, most everyone is taking it for granted that it was the wing nuts that caused the thing to happen.  They didn’t. They are, however, getting the blame.

Make no mistake about it, the U.S. Government would not shut down if old wealth, heads of major corporations, and Wall Street moguls (think Peter G. Peterson, David Rockefeller, General Electric, Exxon/Mobil and the like) did not want it shut down.  They could squash Boehner like a little bug.  So, why does it work to the advantage of the one-tenth of one percenters?

The reason is simply this:  the shutdown and alarm over a possible failure to raise the debt limit will allow the Democrats to give the Republicans “entitlement reform,” or more accurately, cuts in Social Security and Medicare.  With a few exceptions, the Democrats in the House and Senate have wanted to give away these cuts in negotiation with Republicans but were getting too much blowback from the public because it is a rotten and unfair deal.  Now they will look unreasonable if they don’t. After the sequester and other cuts in the safety net, there really isn’t much more with which to bargain.  They have to give the Republicans something – or so they will say.

So now they have no choice.  The Republicans will back off of Obamacare – it’s a done deal anyway – and they will agree to settle the budget deal with cuts in Social Security and Medicare. Obama has no more choice in this than Boehner.  The elites and their front groups in Washington have created a narrative in which the so-called “Baby Boomers” are a threat to the fiscal stability of the United States.  In this narrative the elderly will simply be unaffordable due to Social Security and Medicare.

This is not true of course, but $billions have been poured into a propaganda effort to convince the public of it.  For instance, the anti-Social Security crusade of Peter G. Peterson and the many front groups he has funded such as the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, the Concord Coalition, etc. have been laying the ground work for further cuts in SS and MC for decades.  Now is the time they will go for it.

Obama will now make the deal.  Look for it to happen sometime before the deadline to raise the debt limit in a couple of weeks.