History turned, this past election. Most haven't yet noticed that we were pushed into a new form of government. It's a bit like cultural metabolism switching from growth to cancer, to self-consumption of the body for the exclusive growth of a few cells. I articulated my position in today's political letter. What do you think?

 

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Dear Senator Casey,

I urge you to reject the Republican budget, not only because it favors excessive military buildup over the well-being, health, and very lives of US citizens, but because, along with a slew of new laws and executive orders, it finalizes a drastic change in US governance. Since the election, we are witnessing a fundamental change: from an overall functional government struggling with pockets of corruption to corrupt strongman rule, which is a kleptocracy.

In other words Trump and the GOP leadership now emulate Putin’s government style, as described by Fiona Hill, the White House's senior director for Europe and Russia in her book Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin.

The political compact Putin made his elite enter into with the Kremlin was an extension of the old Andropov rule from the KGB Fifth Directorate. Rather than resort to pure brutality to keep the masses in line, one could blackmail and extort businessmen. In this way Putin reined in the banking and energy sectors by appealing to them like a mafia protector. Play according to the rules, don’t challenge or taunt the regime, and you could earn and pilfer as much as you liked. Cross the boss, and face the consequences. Russia’s industrialists are thus run like assets of the KGB.

Consider the Republican administration’s moves to privatize public lands, prisons and education, and its proud elimination of regulations protecting citizens from corporate pillage. Corporate insiders appointed to senior government positions are precisely positioned to remove restraints on their own interests.

Consider Trump’s close connection with people who have done serious business with Russian kleptocrats, such as his new Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross. When Ross took over the Bank of Cyprus, he installed Josef Ackermann as chairman, a man who had left Deutsche Bank under a cloud, including a $650 million fine for laundering Russian money. Cyprus banks have a long and painful history of laundering dirty money from Russians involved with corruption and criminality. Deutsche Bank is also Trump’s largest known lender. Trump now owes Deutsche about $300m. He has four large mortgages, all issued by Deutsche’s private bank. Oligarch Dmitry Ryvoloviev, another owner of that Cyprus bank, bailed out Trump when his finances softened, by purchasing an unsaleable Palm Beach mansion for around $60 million more than the market price, before tearing it down unused.

Trump isn’t just an open admirer of Putin’s style of governance, and entangled with Russian oligarchs in business. His political style resembles a Mafia Don. He called out Mark Meadows, who led the conservative opposition to the Republican health care plan, to stand up, saying, "Mark, I'm gonna come after you". "I honestly think many of you will lose your seats in 2018," he said to the other Republicans called behind closed doors, a threat style stereotypic of movie Mafiosi.

Corrupt strongman governance isn’t just un-American, it is economically dysfunctional. MIT science historian Loren Graham points out why Russia’s economy is dependent on resource extraction despite its brilliant scientists and engineers, because corruption inhibits commercializing their creativity. When entrepreneurship means entering a dirty realm of crime, corruption, wheeling and dealing, the conditions necessary for commercial success in technology do not exist.

In summary, the ongoing behavior of Trump and the Republican leadership fundamentally betrays not only core American values but also the Republican Party’s business-friendly roots.

The example of Russia demonstrates why this “new” Republican model of government not only goes against all ideals of a representative democracy, it also seriously cripples a nation’s economy.

I call on you to reject the Republican budget plan.

Jeff Danziger captured the same insight.

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The only problem with this hypothesis is that Drumpf just isn't all that strong.  For all his noise-making, the only thing he's genuinely accomplished is to garner more untoward attention to himself, attention which could ultimately be his undoing.  Accuse me of being Pollyannaish if you want, but his near-total failure to recognize the consequences of his own actions will likely bite both him and his presidency on the ass.  Drumpf may survive such an event; his position as Commander in Chief won't.

Anis Shivani points out in "Trump and Mussolini: 11 Key Lessons from Historical Fascism":

"Fascism is greater than the individuals who make up its core at any given moment. Fascism requires the strongman at the center to make it move, yet if a given personality fails to do the job, another can be found as replacement."

(Much more at the discussion "Fascism History Lessons")

Trump is ugly capitalism at its worst.  I don't know if a socialistic form of govt might have been more resistant but tend to think that the rich guys who are now running our government wouldn't have had quite as much money to buy their way to the top under it.

But I do think that all the groups - mainly religious right ones - that keep preaching about market values to us should take a long and close look at what is happening to the strongest democracy ever created.  We are being done in by the same group that powered Hitler - wealthy corporations and the rich (businesses at that time), religion (the Vatican helped bring Mussolini and Hitler to power with the corporations), and a colorful fascist leader. I even read that the Vatican helped pay for Hitler's war machine but have not been able to verfiiy this.  One of our atheist friends who currently writes for American Atheist magazine once wrote that Vatican's worth was in the hundreds of trillions of dollars. I can easily believe that figure if you look at how long it has bilked its members with the protection racket known as "salvation."

eric, the word "socialism" has for generations so frightened Americans that we are stuck with a form of capitalism in which sociopaths have too large a part.

Another form of capialism, employee ownership and operation, is growing in America. The US tax code encourages it by offering tax savings to the owners of businesses who sell to their employees. Its track record is better than that of the bureaucratic economies the world has known and there's a lot of info about it on the internet.

I think the GOP leadership takes that into account. Pence will probably be even more effective as a corporatist strongman leader, and there are lots more candidates lining up. Recall that Fascism is flexible in this regard.

Fascism requires the strongman at the center to make it move, yet if a given personality fails to do the job, another can be found as replacement.
Loren, drumpfs fall can't come soon enough for me.
Before paranoia thins our ranks, Ruth, have you concidered the wisdom in statements such as the following?

"Democracy is the worst form of government except for all the other kinds we have tried" by Winston Churchill?

"The best remedy for democracy is more democracy" by an unknown wit?

"Democracy is not a spectator sport" also by an unown wit?

The voters in eighteen of the fifty states have the direct initiative and referendum. They can make law without interference by corrupted legislatures and have done so.

With a few minutes of research, I can find out if you live in one of those states. Or you can find out from your state's Secretary of State and also look fot organizations that are working to add the right to your state's constitution. I hope you haven't depaired of democracy.

Therefore:

1. Get involved in the democratic process; 

2. Work to makes laws that have the direct initiative and referendum.

 

Joan, more like the somewhat longer...

2. Work to amend state and federal constitutions to give power, via the direct initiative and referendum, to those whose consent we now pretend is required.

The letter to Senator Casey hits it all right on the head and even makes the issue more scary. I'm finding in mid Missouri that those who would discuss politics previously are very tight lipped now. In fact, many go so far as to not answer you at all as if they did not hear the words you said. I'm not sure if this is outright fear or just fear of facing facts when they might disagree with you. It seems that many tRump supporters thought that "having it their way" would just be a matter of Cheeto calling the shots and everything would get done quickly. Government doesn't work that way and never did.

If I campaign on issues like building a wall, throwing immigrants out, and completely repealing Obamacare, why is it that later I claim I was elected by people that want me to do these things? The people didn't control the campaign. tRump and party did. Christo-Fascism has arrived complete with Bart who isn't very brite. (Joke intended but let's call him Steve.)

I'm still confused by actions after the election where Cheeto and his wife flew off to Florida still campaigning. He made speeches and she led a prayer. What was that about? Maybe they wanted to pick up any supporters they thought they had missed. I don't get it.

Write this man's random words and answers to things down and read them again to see if you understand anything. It's hard to make sense out of what he says and it's easier to imagine someone talking like that from an old folks home someplace. Now insert the fact that he is in control of all our nukes and missiles and ask yourself if you feel safe. I don't.

It's as if the GOP is saying we only have one shot to do this and we are going to keep him even if he sends us all to hell. I'm sorry, but I just do not get it.

It's not complicated, Michael.

Politics is organized theft.

It's not organized crime because thieves won't criminalize what they do.

We have to slow their thievery.
A bit more about political thievery, this time by William Jenning Bryan, who opposed America's colonizing the Philippines:

"[Bryan] asked whether Americans were ready 'to change the title of our executive and call him President of the United States and Emperor of the Philippines.'

"When the desire to steal becomes uncontrollable in an individual, he is declared a kleptomaniac and is sent to an asylum; when the desire to grab land becomes uncontrollable in a nation we are told that 'the currents of destiny are flowing through the hearts of men' and that the American people are entering upon 'a manifest mission.' Shame upon a logic which locks up the petty offender and enthrones grand larceny!”

Excerpt From: Kinzer, Stephen. “The True Flag.” Henry Holt and Company. iBooks

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