Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Looking Forward to the 2020 Election? I know I am

 

“Ding Dong, the witch is dead

Witch old witch? The Wicked witch

Ding Dong, the wicked witch is dead”

Happy Day

                       Wake up you sleepy head

                         Rub your eyes, get out of that bed

                         Wake up, the wicked witch is dead

                                                                   [The Wizard of Oz, 1939]

Introduction

I’ll be singing the above lyrics on Tuesday, November 3, 2020. It’s a great metaphor for what will likely happen assuming the Election Day occurs on time. There are obviously a lot of differences between Donald Trump and all previous United States presidents. Donald Trump is, of course, undeniably the worst president in United States history. But, there is one similarity he does share in common with all previous presidents.

In general terms, all presidents are never more popular than the first day they get elected. It’s all downhill from there no matter who is president. Donald Trump’s popularity has never exceeded even half of all voters. He has never increased his core base at all. And now, like all previous presidents, will lose key segments of the population based on demographics.

In addition to the rationale provided in the following article by Evan Siegfried, there is this to consider: One thing that really separates presidents in history is their ability to handle a crisis during a national emergency where many lives are at stake.

The number one president was (in my opinion) Abraham Lincoln who had to deal with a divided nation at war with itself. He, along with his generals, ended up preserving the union and the nation throughout those tumultuous years in our history.

Second place goes (in my opinion) to Franklin Delano Roosevelt who was Commander-in-Chief during the Great Depression and World War II. While his handling of the Japanese internment was a grave travesty of justice, his genus with New Deal programs, legislation and handling of World War II Allies with effective diplomacy, sets him apart from many other presidents.

At the bottom of the heap is Donald Trump, that “twitter-twisted” buffoon with a narcissistic personality disorder. He’ll one day go to his death thinking he was a legend in his own time. Reality would suggest he’s really just a “legend in his own mind.” But we all know better. He was impeached by the House of Representatives and that will, unto itself, be an everlasting mark on his presidency.

As we all know Donald Trump did not test positive for the Coronavirus. He did however test positive for stupidity and for a narcissistic personality disorder. It’s hard to know, what benefits, if any, Trump voters in 2016 acquired as a result of their electing Donald Trump. It is unlikely “trickle-down economics” worked for them any more than any other American during the last 3+1/2 years of a Donald Trump presidency.

Donald Trump did not cause the Coronavirus to come into existence. However, his handling of the crisis will go down in history as one of the greatest screw-ups of all time. When the Trump supporter starts burying family members, just as others will and have, they may look back in time to their original vote for Donald Trump, as the greatest mistake they ever made in their life. In their quiet moments they may ask themselves, “What the hell was I thinking!”

     So, what is likely going to happen with the 2020 presidential election? Well, on a more analytical basis, the following article, written by a Republican Strategist, details the biggest risk in 2020 for Donald Trump. Enjoy the article.

Trump’s biggest risk in 2020 isn’t losing young people. It’s losing their grandparents.

“The president may still win the majority of seniors but, if he does so by a significantly smaller margin, that spells problems in swing states.

 

By Evan Siegfried

The Trump era has seen seismic shifts away from the Republican Party among key voting blocs, like the oft-heralded suburban women, as well as made difficulties predating Trump that the GOP faced with other groups, such as millennials and young voters, even worse.

But little noticed amid the midterm bloodshed was the behavior of one of the party’s most important voting blocs — senior citizens — that should worry each and every Republican in Washington and beyond.

People 65 and older have long been solidly Republican, serving as reliable voters who can be counted on to not only turn out more than other blocs, but also do so with less effort on the part of campaigns. Their support was evident in both the 2010 and 2014 midterm elections, when the GOP won these voters by 21 and 16 points respectively. So, too, was it visible in the last two presidential elections, as senior voters backed Mitt Romney by 12 and Donald Trump by eight points.

OpinionTrump’s 2020 chances changed with the midterm election. He can’t ignore Democrats anymore.

However, 2018 witnessed a startling shift toward Democrats; the GOP managed to win voters 65 and older by just two points.

There are signs that this is not a fluke, and that the Trump era has caused senior citizens to abandon the GOP in numbers big enough that could produce huge electoral consequences for both congressional Republicans and Trump alike. In April, a Washington Post/ABC News poll found that 53 percent of senior citizens would “definitely not vote for” Trump in 2020. (This disquieting result was obscured in the national discussion by the fact that 62 percent of women overall and 57 percent of white women with a college degree stated that they definitely would not vote for Trump — the aforementioned shift among suburban women.)

And it is not just the one poll that indicates seniors are unhappy with Trump and the Republican Party. A May Monmouth University poll revealed that 58 percent of Americans 65 and older believe that the United States is headed in the wrong direction. And, earlier this month, a Politico/Morning Consult poll found that 60 percent of seniors say the country is headed on the wrong track and 54 percent disapprove of Trump.

OpinionTrump doesn’t care about governing or even 2020. He just wants to be loved.

When you drill down to the state level, the national trend continues. According to a May 2019 Quinnipiac poll of Pennsylvania voters, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden not only leads Trump statewide by 11 points, but he also beats the incumbent president 58-38 among Pennsylvania voters 65 and older. That is a far cry from how Trump fared with these voters in 2016: He won them by 10 points.

Of course, some Trump defenders will follow the president’s lead and resort to the familiar refrain that the polls are rigged, fake news or some other such dissociation from reality. But the Trump campaign itself has already begun a major Facebook ad campaign targeting senior citizens. Does such a move sound like a campaign that is comfortable that it can hold its 2016 voters and is looking to expand its base? Of course not. It is arguably a sign that the Trump re-election effort is trying to stop an exodus of existing supporters.

It is important to remember that this migration of senior voters away from the GOP and Trump is happening despite the arguably strong economy. Polls have repeatedly shown that voters of all stripes acknowledge that the economy is in fantastic shape, but the majority say they are not personally feeling its benefit. In a new Economist/YouGov poll, just 25 percent of seniors and 25 percent of Americans overall say that they are better off financially than they were a year ago.

And in a new Quinnipiac poll, 77 percent of Americans 65 and older say their economic situation is good or excellent — but Biden still beats Trump among them 56-39 and the president registers a 54 percent disapproval rating. These are roughly the same numbers and sentiments found prior to the 2018 midterm elections.

Americans, including our seniors, view the great economy like it were a great party they’re hearing about, but were somehow not invited to attend.

The Trump campaign and its allies will argue that the president will win the 65 and older voting bloc in 2020 and, in all likelihood, they are correct. However, the question is not whether they will win it but by what margin Trump will win it, because the smaller the margin, the bigger the problem for the president in swing states.

And for a president who essentially won in 2016 by just 77,744 votes — Trump’s margin of victory in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin combined — the combination of winning voters 65 and older by a smaller margin, losing suburban women, making no inroads among millennials and, potentially, a Democratic nominee who could capitalize on the energy that his party saw in 2018 could spell electoral calamity for Trump in 2020.”

Evan Siegfried

Evan Siegfried is a Republican strategist and commentator and the author of “GOP GPS: How to Find the Millennials and Urban Voters the Republican Party Needs to Survive.”

 

Final Comments

No one has a crystal ball that can predict who will become President of the United States in 2020. However, analytics and demographic polling would suggest Donald Trump is on his way out of the White House.

Prosecutors in New York are waiting for Trump to be just a citizen again. It is extremely unlikely that either Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders would ever pardon Donald Trump, or in any other way protect him from prosecution.

As one observer of the political scene the last 5 years, I have to say I feel nothing but ill will for Donald Trump the President. For Donald Trump the person I kind of feel sorry for him. As a child Donald Trump experienced some unexpected vicissitudes of childhood such as having a racist domineering father (He was arrested at a Memorial Day parade in Jamaica, Queens, New York at a KKK rally in 1927) and a neglectful mother. There was no one to build up his self-esteem in a normal way.

When it comes to a narcissistic personality disorder it is one of the hardest and most difficult disorders to treat. With such a personality type in the White House as president, that is placing the country in a very dangerous position.

Read Full Post »

The Upcoming 2020 Election:

Understanding the Differences between Democratic Socialism and Socialism

 

Introduction

There is a lot of nonsense permeating throughout this election year like never before. In all my years following elections in our country, I’ve never witnessed such an abandonment of facts, history and data (And dare I say—common sense as well).

Only a minimal amount of effort is really required for the voting population to stay on top of this or any election. Yet, equating democratic socialism with socialism seems to be the new boogieman perpetuated by Donald J. Trump. He wants; on the one hand, to help Bernie Sanders, a self-proclaimed democratic socialist, defeat other democrats in the race for the presidency.    On the other hand he wants to create fear and anxiety in the voting population by tapping into their fear and anxiety prompted by that menacing overwrought buzz word—socialism. Ooooh! Scary!

Why does he do this? He does this for selfish reasons. He believes the public will vote for him in the 2020 election if he can successfully taint Bernie Sanders candidacy by labeling him a socialist. You know, if he were to brand Bernie Sanders a communist, as well as a socialist, you’ll know right away just how stupid and unknowledgeable Donald J. Trump really is.

Here’s what the general voting public needs to know—democratic socialism is a good thing, not a bad thing. It’s truly what makes America great as well as unique. Why you ask? Because it’s important that all citizens, those who vote and those who choose not to vote, understand the differences between these and other governmental/economic systems. And when you understand these distinctions for real, you’ll see that American is a blend of a governmental political system, i.e., socialism, and the current state of our economic system, i.e., a form of capitalism. And what do I mean by form?

Our current capitalist economic system, originally inherited from English and European countries, has also been modified since its inception. It is not a pure capitalist system in the United States. Our country has always been, since we became a country, a hybrid blend of capitalism and socialism. Pure capitalism doesn’t exist in the United States. Read on and you’ll understand why!

In fact, it is important for everyone to understand the differences between the terms capitalism, communism, socialism, and democratic socialism. This is the kind of knowledge that should have been learned in a high school civics class. Evidently today, more than half the voting population of this country doesn’t have the foggiest notion of what these terms actually mean. Unfortunately, I pick up this lack of knowledge, not only from Donald J. Trump, but also among some democrats running for the presidency. These democrats are playing to the same fear and anxiety as promoted by Donald J. Trump.

Before we get to the definitions below it is important to understand first what democracy is, and second, how it compares to non-democratic government.

Democracy versus Non-Democratic Government

“There are various types of governance in the world. Democracy is a form of governance where the supreme power is vested in the people of the country. Non-democracy refers to governance systems other than democracy. These may include systems such as monarchies, oligarchies, and theocracies. Thus, the main difference between democratic and non-democratic government is the power is vested in the common people; power in a democratic system is vested in the people, but power in a non-democratic government is vested in the rulers.”

 

Definitions

As you mull over these definitions, think about the rule of law, social rights and freedoms and the types of policy issues like health care, infrastructure, or social security that are so important to all Americans. Think of how you would fit into any of these governmental/economic systems. My guess is you will soon discover that you too are a Democratic Socialist and always have been. You just didn’t know it! Read on please.

Capitalism

In common usage, the word capitalism means an economic system in which all or most of the means of production are privately owned and operated, and the investment of capital and the productiondistribution and prices of commodities (goods and services) are determined mainly in a free market, rather than by the state.

In capitalism, the means of production are generally operated for profit. [I won’t take the time to explain in detail the exact forces that led to capitalism in Europe.] Suffice it so say for now that mercantilism and trade imbalances between nations called forth the need for a better more efficient economic approach. Both mercantilism and capitalism had the same principal: the large scale realization of a profit by acquiring goods for lower prices than one sells them. Adam Smith gets credit for his ideas on capitalism. To his credit he conceived of a better system called, ”the Free Market.” Capitalism has been criticized for establishing power in the hands of a minority capitalist class that exists through the exploitation of a working class majority; for prioritizing profit over social good, natural resources and the environment; and for being an engine of inequality and economic instabilities.

     In a purely capitalist economy, there would be no public schools, no state owned or maintained roads and highways, public works, welfare, unemployment insurance, worker’s compensation, social security benefits etc.

 

Socialism
Most generally, socialism refers to state ownership of common property, or state ownership of the means of production.  A purely socialist state would be one in which the state owns and operates the means of production. However, nearly all modern capitalist countries combine socialism and capitalism (there are some exceptions).

The University of Idaho, and any other public school or university, is a “socialist” institution, and those who attend it or work for it are partaking in socialism, because it is owned and operated by the state of Idaho.  The same is true of federal and state highways, federal and state parks, harbors etc.

Communism

Most generally, communism refers to community ownership of property, with the end goal being complete social equality via economic equality.  Communism is generally seen by communist countries as an idealized utopian economic and social state that the country as a whole is working toward; that is to say that pure communism is the ideal that the People’s Republic of China is (was?) working toward.  Such an ideal often justifies means (such as authoritarianism or totalitarianism) that are not themselves communist ideals. As you probably already know there is a burgeoning middle class in China. This is due in large part to “capitalist type reforms” adopted by China’s totalitarian government. This may be (I speculate) the most unusual hybrid political and economic system in the entire world.

Fundamentally, communism argues that all labor belongs to the individual laborer; no man can own another man’s body, and therefore each man owns his own labor.  In this model all “profit” actually belongs in part to the laborer, not, or not just, those who control the means of production, such as the business or factory owner.  Profit that is not shared with the laborer, therefore, is considered inherently exploitive.

Democratic Socialism

Democratic socialism is a political philosophy that advocates political democracy alongside a socially owned economy, with an emphasis on workers’ self-management and democratic control of economic institutions within a market or some form of a decentralized planned socialist economy.

Socialism vs Democratic Socialism

Socialism means equality in the society and Democratic Socialism means equality in a democratic state.

Socialism can be defined as a system of collective ownership, and management of the means of production and the distribution of goods. Socialism also views that in a capitalist state, the wealth and power is concentrated among a small section of the society. Socialism can also be stated to be a society where all people work as equals in cooperation for the common good of all.

Democratic socialism gives more importance to a democratic character. While having almost the same principles as that of socialism, democratic socialism believes in socialism through the ballot box. It states that any change in government and society should be through fair elections.

Socialism was a term that originated in the late 18th century and early 19th century as a result of the economic and social changes linked with the Industrial revolution. It was Henri de Saint Simon who coined the term socialism. Noel Babeuf, Charles Fourier, Robert Owen, Karl Marx and Engels are some of the great thinkers of this theory who believed in the application of modern technology for rationalizing economic activity through the elimination of capitalism. They were also critics of private ownership.

Democratic socialism became prominent in the late 19th century. It was after World War 1 that democratic socialism had its footing in Europe. In the U.S. also, democratic socialism became a great movement when Eugene V Debs ran for the presidency He ran for office 5 times between 1900 and 1920. Even while in prison he ran for president and garnered nearly a million votes. Democratic socialism spread to Latin America, Asia and many other regions.

A country may call itself a democratic socialist country, but in reality is still a totalitarian state (just think about Venezuela). Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Iceland also describe themselves as portraying democratic socialism. These Nordic countries do not necessarily embrace socialism. They still don’t have minimum wage laws. They are successful countries economically that would best be described as believing in compassionate capitalism. With our emphasis on democratic character, and the best vehicle for change through the ballot box, America is still the best country in the world representing a true democratic socialism.

Summary

  1. Socialism can be defined as a system of collective ownership and management of the means of production and the distribution of goods. Democratic socialism gives more importance to a democratic character.
  2. Socialism can also be stated to be a society where all people work as equals cooperating for the common good of all.
  3. While having almost the same principles as that of socialism, democratic socialism believes in socialism through the ballot box. It states that any change in government and society should be through fair elections.
  4. Socialism was a term that originated in the late 18th century and early 19th century as a result of the economic and social changes linked with the Industrial revolution.
  5. Democratic socialism became prominent in the late 19th century.

 

Final Comments

If you value having local schools for your children, fair wages, social security when you retire, health care as a right (Example: Medicare for all), roads, bridges, state parks, and a country where you can pursue your innermost dreams, you are a Democratic Socialist. Now don’t get me wrong. We need venture capitalists, wide spread investment, and profits. We need individuals with ideas to make our economy stronger, better and fair to all. Corporations employ a lot of people as does, to a lesser extent, local and family-owned businesses. However, wealth for wealth sake is crass capitalism.

What is needed are strict regulations of corporations and big business, fair tax rate changes for the vast majority of our citizens, and increased prison sentences for white collar offenders. While I generally don’t like Robin Hood politics where we steal from the rich and give to the poor, the last 50 years turned this idea upside down. During the last 50 years crass capitalism has dominated America by stealing or taking from the poor, middle class and working class and giving excessive profits to the rich and super-rich. Unfortunately, the Republican Party has been a part of all of this dominance. Along with Donald J. Trump their reign of terror will be brought to an end in 2020.

This tragedy wasn’t about good people with good ideas getting ahead on their own efforts and making lots of money. It was instead an ugly return on investments that were obscene and repugnant (multi-millions and billions of dollars). It was the destruction of every value that made America great such as honesty, integrity, fairness and the value of doing a good day’s work.

We however don’t need crass capitalism that exploits the middle class, the working class, the working poor, and those still in abject poverty. Whether you come at this problem as a moralist or a pragmatist, the balance the last 50 years has unfortunately favored a massive shift in the distribution of goods and services to create a wealthy class built on the backs of over ninety-nine percent of the population.

We had an extraordinary president during the 1930s and 1940s. He was Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He wasn’t perfect but he had a New Deal to put the country back to work following the Great Depression. Today we need a New Deal of a different nature. Don’t get upset about either the word socialism or democratic socialism. They may be boogieman buzz words portrayed as a scare tactic by Donald J. Trump. But in reality, “they are a lot to do about nothing!”

I voted in 2016 for the only real democratic socialist running to become President of the United States. In 2020 I have already voted in the California Primary for the same candidate. That candidate is Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders will give this nation a New Deal and allow us to return to our roots—A true democratic socialist country. So folks—get out there and vote!

 

Read Full Post »

What Really Underlies the Impeachment Decision to Acquit Donald J. Trump?

[The Republican Party in Congress and Their Ties to Russian Money and Foreign National Donations]

“I’m going to try and make people realize that in order to live the life they are living, they need to have democracy, and it’s being threatened.”

Elijah Cummings

The Republican Party in the United States Senate has just taken a dump on the American people (and that includes craping on that part of the electorate that voted Trump into office in the first place). In addition, the United States Constitution has just been shredded while the Republican Party has thumbed their noses at all of us with glee.

Along with our democratic principles, and our moral convictions of what is right and wrong, the country has just been unceremoniously screwed by the Republican Party. People are outraged throughout the country, and do you want to know why The Republican Party voted as they did?

Answer

The pro-Kremlin elitists in the United States Senate (like Moscow Mitch and Leningrad Lindsay) have both taken large donations of money from Russian Oligarchs in the past, and have now created the conditions that ultimately threaten the national security of the United States. Said simply, they have been bought by the Kremlin. Because of the insidious penetration of Russians and Russian influence in our elections, impacting policy as well as votes, our country is now in great danger.

They pushed their Russian-inspired agenda and they let all of us be damned in the process. These pompous ass cowardly senators will never be forgiven and should be brought up on charges of treason. We’ve experienced many dark times in our history and survived. However, this betrayal of the country by the U.S. Senate makes Benedict Arnold look like a choir boy. It makes every senator who voted to acquit Donald J. Trump an idiot whose malfeasance will go down in history. They sold all of us out for Russian money.

Vladimir Putin, and his ring of thugs, is now doing cartwheels over the Senate’s verdict to acquit the most degenerate misfit miscreant to ever hold the Country’s highest office. On February 5, 2020 Republican senators voted to acquit President Donald J. Trump of the impeachment charges of Abuse of Power (The vote was 52 to 48) and Abuse of Congress (The vote was 53 to 47.)

This reminds me of the statement made by President Roosevelt on December 7, 1941 in which he said “a day which will live in Infamy.” February 5, 2020 will now be famous for its infamy just like the attack on Pearl Harbor, or the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963 or the infamous September 11, 2001 date when our country was suddenly and viciously attacked by radical terrorists from the Middle East.

The vote to acquit Donald J. Trump was a deviant act of social and legal irresponsibility. As most sociologists know, deviance legally defined is as much a product of the “rule makers” as it is the “rule-breakers.” In this case, Senator Mitch McConnell was the “rule-maker” and Donald J. Trump was the “rule-breaker.”

This bizarre and unholy alliance between the rule-maker and rule-breaker reminds me of a bad cop taking bribes from a drug dealer by making an alliance with the devil and accepting bribes.

Motivation

The corrupt decision of the United States Senate was motivated primarily by greed and monetary gains, personal self-serving motives (like ambition and hoping for increasing the probability of re-election). Another motive of the turncoats had was fear and cowardice before the dictator in the White House. Republican Senators manifested a cowardly fear of Donald J. Trump. Other alternatives rather than appeasing a dictator in the White House were never calculated or considered. Donald J. Trump has lost support in every state he won since 2016. Lack of thinking outside the box by Republican Senators will, in the long run, be detrimental to their goal of getting re-elected. Right now they are living in a fantasy world. However, reality will eventually kick them in the teeth and face.

Now that they have acquitted Donald J. Trump in front of the whole country, they will be, for seventy-five percent on the voting population, on their “shit list.”

This acquittal was done despite the case put on by the House managers that was extremely compelling, intelligent, complete, intellectually thorough, and at times spell binding and elegant particularly in the case of presentations by Adam Schiff. It was a superior piece of work showing great craftsmanship in the final product and procedures (i.e., the way they carried themselves in their duties, and produced viable legally relevant charges).

The White House council team by comparison relied on an abbreviated presentation devoid of substance, facts, document or witness testimony and used tired and old Ad Hominin arguments (character assassination) of no relevance to the job at hand. Distractions and asides were their strategy. Nevertheless, they failed despite being good lawyers of some reputation for good work elsewhere.

Why did they really fail? Trump often had conflicts with his own lawyers. But look at what they had to work with: An arrogant guilty President who possesses a narcissistic personality, a God complex, interwoven with an additional inferiority complex (thanks to his dad Fred Trump and Donald’s mother during bygone years).

In addition, his utter lack of knowledge and personal flaws make him mentally crippled to serve anyone except himself. Yet, his social perception of others left him with the erroneous belief that only he could run his own defense better than the lawyers. Remember when he said, “he knew more than the generals.” As they say, “a person, who wants to defend himself in court, as we all know, has a “fool for a client.” I don’t know exactly what went on between Trump and his lawyers, but rest assured the puppet master in the White House had his lawyers dangling on a string every step of his defense.

As mentioned above, tied in with the actual self-serving motivation of Republican Senators, was their underlying yet overarching motive for monetary rewards. The Republican led Senate just deep-sixed the principles of democracy, decency, and notions of right and wrong. Why? Because money rules people in Congress—make no naïve assumptions about that! Senate Republicans will throw anyone under the bus for a dollar.

Time does not permit me to fully discuss in detail types of direct evidence or circumstantial evidence, and how inferences are used or not used with either type of evidence. I’ll give you one hint. Lawyers know they can convince a jury when they have a lot of corroborating evidence, physical evidence or testimony and/or documents. There was a lot of corroborating evidence presented in the trial of Donald J. Trump. In fact it’s true. The evidence was really overwhelming, particularly witness testimony. Before John Bolton came forward the White House council said that the House’s witnesses didn’t have firsthand knowledge. Yet, when the chance arose to have at least four direct eyewitnesses, they then said no further witnesses or documents were needed. What a hypocritical argument that was.

Its counter intuitive I know, but “truth” is not what lawyers look for in criminal cases. One unethical technique they use quite often is to make a witness appear to be lying even though the lawyer knows the witness is actually telling the truth. It’s very similar to use of character assassination (attacking the witnesses) that was used in the impeachment trial by the White House defense team. This is because it is the jury’s responsibility to be triers of fact, not the lawyers. Why not the lawyers? Because winning cases is more important to them than “truth.” It is true (contrary to popular belief) that “truth is what we agree it is, nothing more and nothing less. But, one way to achieve agreement in a trial is to present the best evidence one can. Evidence of many kinds is used to get at the truth.

This is why the Republican Senators didn’t want any evidence at all. Evidence (particularly, witness testimony and documents) might lead to removal of their client, the President of the United States. That’s why the Impeachment Trial of Donald J. Trump was a fraud, cover-up or a judicial farce.

The jurors in the Impeachment Trial of Donald J. Trump were supposed to be triers of fact. Unfortunately, unlike jurors in a real criminal case, they just didn’t give a damn about the facts, the evidence or the truth. Personal desires for monetary and other political rewards resulted in the whole process being tainted from the very beginning. And one must remember, even before the trial began, Senate Republican Moscow Mitch declared he was working together with the defendant in this case. That’s like a jury foreman getting together with a criminal defendant and helping him or her to get away with the crime. If the public found out about the jury foreman’s behavior they certainly would make sure he too would go to jail. Evidently, senators play by a different set of rules.

Follow the Money

I mentioned in my last Blog that it is important to convict criminal offenders and many white collar offenders by following the money. I will share with my readers the laws of campaign financing. It appears that since Donald J. Trump took office there has been an easing of restrictions of campaign finance laws, making it easier to get foreign money for campaigning and personal slush funds.

Foreigners or foreign governments now influence whoever the hell they want. Russians can now buy politicians anywhere in the world, including the United States of America. What you’ll see below is the ways campaign financing laws were originally written. This will be followed by three articles.

The first article will be on foreign money in American politics by Brian Padden in U.S. Politics dated November 5, 2019. The title of the article is “Foreign Money Flows into U.S. Politics.” This will be followed by two articles by Ruth May for the Dallas Morning News. The first is dated August 3, 2017. The title of the article was, “GOP campaigns took $7.35 million from oligarch linked to Russia.” The second article by Ruth May was dated on May 8, 2018. The title of the article was “How Putin’s oligarchs funneled millions into GOP campaigns.

 

Overview—U.S. Campaign Finance Laws

“Campaigns are prohibited from accepting contributions from certain types of organizations and individuals. These prohibited sources are:

  • Corporations, including nonprofit corporations (although funds from a corporate separate segregated fund are permissible)
  • Labor organizations (although funds from a separate segregated fund are permissible)
  • Federal government contractors
  • Foreign nationals
  • Contributions in the name of another

 

Under the category of foreign nationals we find several important restrictions dealing with Campaign Financing:

Foreign Nationals—Restrictions

Campaigns may not solicit or accept contributions from foreign nationals. Federal law prohibits contributions, donations, expenditures and disbursements solicited, directed, received or made directly or indirectly by or from foreign nationals in connection with any election— federal, state or local.

This prohibition includes contributions or donations made to political committees and building funds and to make electioneering communications. Furthermore, it is a violation of federal law to knowingly provide substantial assistance in the making, acceptance or receipt of contributions or donations in connection with federal and nonfederal elections to a political committee, or for the purchase or construction of an office building.

This prohibition includes, but is not limited to, acting as a conduit or intermediary for foreign national contributions and donations.

 

A person acts knowingly for the purposes of this section when he or she has:

  • Actual knowledge that the funds have come from a foreign national;
  • Awareness of certain facts that would lead a reasonable person to believe that there is a substantial probability that the money is from a foreign national; or
  • Awareness of facts that should have prompted a reasonable inquiry into whether the source of funds is a foreign national.

 

Pertinent facts that satisfy the “knowing” requirement include knowledge of:

  • Use of a foreign passport or passport number;
  • Use of a foreign address;
  • A check or other written instrument drawn on an account or wire transfer from a foreign bank; or
  • Contributor or donor living abroad.

 

Definition of foreign national

 

A foreign national is:

  • An individual who is not a citizen of the United States, and not lawfully admitted for permanent residence (as defined in 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a) (20)); or
  • A foreign principal, as defined in 22 U.S.C. § 611(b). Section 611 defines a foreign principal as a group organized under the laws of a foreign country or having its principal place of business in a foreign country. The statute specifically mentions foreign governments, political parties, partnerships, associations and corporations.”

 

US Politics

Foreign Money Flows into US Politics

By Brian Padden

November 05, 2019 07:16 PM

WASHINGTON – Untold amounts of foreign donations are flowing into America’s political system, with little accountability or limits.

Although election experts say it’s impossible to accurately estimate the extent of foreign financial influence over U.S. elections, many agree it has increased substantially since a landmark Supreme Court ruling nearly a decade ago opened the flood gates.

President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani speaks to reporter’s on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, May 30, 2018.

Recent headlines have highlighted ways in which foreign donations can enter America’s political bloodstream, including the revelation that business associates of presidential lawyer Rudy Giuliani were indicted for pumping foreign money into federal and state campaigns and political action committees.

But experts say that stopping the flow of foreign money into U.S. elections is hampered by legal loopholes, illicit financial maneuvers and ultimately a lack of political resolve.

 

WATCH: Foreign money plays a huge part in US elections

Ideological Divide Persists Over Impact of Foreign Money in U.S. Elections

Republicans and Democrats vociferously oppose foreign interference in U.S. elections, noting it is prohibited under federal campaign law and undermines the democratic process. But both parties reportedly have received foreign donations, either legally through American corporate subsidiaries, or illicitly through shell companies and political action committees (PACs).

How much, to weed out foreign contributions are ideologically-fraught questions. Advocates for transparency in government, for example, want to end privacy restrictions that allow anonymous donations to political action committees, known as PACs — non-profit organizations that advocate for political causes but do not work directly for a party or campaign. The shielding of donors makes it harder to detect foreign financial contributions.

“The more this information that’s sort of hidden behind closed doors, the less accountability we’re going to have in U.S. politics and the greater the opportunities become for foreign money and foreign influence to sneak in and affect U.S. elections,” said Ben Freeman, the director of the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative at the Center for International Policy in Washington.

But privacy advocates say forcing the disclosing of the identity of donors to political advocacy groups would do more harm than good. “We have documented evidence of people [whose donations become public] being fired from their jobs or companies not really wanting to fire them but feeling they had to because they were being boycotted or harassed. We have evidence of people being in some cases physically attacked,” said Brad Smith, the chairman of the Institute for Free Speech.

 

Trump focus 

President Donald Trump and some of his top advisers have been the focus of increasing scrutiny by Democrats and the Justice Department for purported ties to foreign money and influence.

Businessmen connected to Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani were recently indicted for funneling foreign money to federal and state campaigns and PACs that included the pro-Trump America First Action, the National Republican Congressional Committee, and a campaign committee for Pete Sessions, a former Republican congressman from Texas.

Prosecutors said two men, Ukrainian-born Lev Parnas and Belarus-born Igor Fruman, who helped Giuliani investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, conspired to pass along $1 million from an unidentified Russian businessman to various U.S. candidates.

These criminal charges from the Justice Department arose amid a congressional impeachment inquiry of Trump for prodding Ukraine to investigate Biden, a leading contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

The president denied knowing the Giuliani associates, even though a photograph has surfaced, posted last year, that showed Trump posing with one of the men at the White House.

Earlier this year, the Special Counsel investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election found extensive “sweeping and systematic” interference that “violated U.S. criminal law”, but stopped short of accusing the Trump campaign of coordinating with the Russian government.

Bipartisan problem

Democrats have also come under investigation for foreign entanglements.

This month, American entrepreneur Imaad Zuberi plead guilty to making thousands of dollars of illegal donations in 2012 on behalf of  Saudi tycoon Sheikh Mohammed Al Rahbani to President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign.

Zuberi has raised millions of dollars for both Democrats and Republicans, and prosecutors said he has worked on behalf of several foreigners.

Gregory Craig, a former White House counsel for President Obama, was recently found not guilty after being charged with lying to the Justice Department about his work for the Ukrainian government. Craig maintained that his legal work in Ukraine never “crossed the line” into advocacy or lobbying that would require him to register as a foreign agent.

Shell game

A landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision, Citizens United, has made it more difficult to track foreign backing for U.S. political activity. The 2010 decision barred the government from limiting political spending and fundraising by nonprofit organizations, including PACs. The result, say critics, has been a flood of “dark money” that is difficult to track in American politics.

“The American political system is at a historical high point in its vulnerability to foreign influence. There are just so many avenues for foreign money to have an impact on U.S. elections,” said Freeman.

Beyond financial contributions, the rising role of social media in U.S. campaigns also gives foreign powers new means to meddle in elections by funding and amplifying extreme or disruptive political elements.

Privacy advocates argue that the impact of foreign interference is being exaggerated by mostly-liberal groups seeking to limit the ability of conservatives to operate freely in the political realm.

“It appears that Russians spent a couple hundred thousand on Facebook ads [during the 2016 U.S. presidential election]. And this has triggered this massive effort to find out the source and to start proposing all kinds of new legislation that imposes significant burdens on American citizens,” said Smith.

Both sides of the political aisle agree more could be done to crack down on foreign nationals using American shell companies, which have no real business operations, to process illicit campaign donations.

Complex regulations can obscure the legal line between foreign and domestic donations. For example, American subsidiaries of foreign owned companies can donate to American campaigns. And American lobbyists can raise foreign funds while making U.S. campaign contributions, but are supposed to keep the two activities separate.

Experts say the ability of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to enforce campaign finance laws has also been undermined by gridlock and dysfunction in Washington. Trump has been slow to nominate, and the Republican-led Senate equally slow to confirm, replacements for vacancies at the commission, which currently lacks the quorum needed to make new rules and levy any fines.”

 

Dallas Morning News Article

GOP campaigns took $7.35 million from oligarch linked to Russia

Donald Trump and the political action committees for Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Lindsey Graham, John Kasich and John McCain accepted $7.35 million in contributions from a Ukrainian-born oligarch who is the business partner of two of Russian president Vladimir Putin’s favorite oligarchs and a Russian government bank.

Party loyalty is often cited as the reason that GOP leaders have not been more outspoken in their criticism of President Donald Trump and his refusal to condemn Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. Yet there may be another reason that top Republicans have not been more vocal in their condemnation. Perhaps it’s because they have their own links to the Russian oligarchy that they would prefer go unnoticed.

Donald Trump and the political action committees for Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Lindsey Graham, John Kasich and John McCain accepted $7.35 million in contributions from a Ukrainian-born oligarch who is the business partner of two of Russian president Vladimir Putin’s favorite oligarchs and a Russian government bank.

During the 2015-2016 election seasons, Ukrainian-born billionaire Leonard “Len” Blavatnik contributed $6.35 million to leading Republican candidates and incumbent senators. Mitch McConnell was the top recipient of Blavatnik’s donations, collecting $2.5 million for his GOP Senate Leadership Fund under the names of two of Blavatnik’s holding companies, Access Industries and AI Altep Holdings, according to Federal Election Commission documents and OpenSecrets.org.

Marco Rubio’s Conservative Solutions PAC and his Florida First Project received $1.5 million through Blavatnik’s two holding companies. Other high dollar recipients of funding from Blavatnik were PACS representing Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker at $1.1 million, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham at $800,000, Ohio Governor John Kasich at $250,000 and Arizona Senator John McCain at $200,000.

In January, Quartz reported that Blavatnik donated another $1 million to Trump’s Inaugural Committee. Ironically, the shared address of Blavatnik’s companies is directly across the street from Trump Tower on 5th Avenue in New York.

Len Blavatnik, considered to be one of the richest men in Great Britain, holds dual citizenship in the U.S. and the U.K. He is known for his business savvy and generous philanthropy, but not without controversy.

In 2010, Oxford University drew intense criticism for accepting a donation of 75 million pounds from Blavatnik for a new school of government bearing his name. Faculty, alumni and international human rights activists claimed the university was selling its reputation and prestige to Putin’s associates.

Blavatnik’s relationships with Russian oligarchs close to Putin, particularly Oleg Deripaska, should be worrisome for Trump and the six GOP leaders who took Blavatnik’s money during the 2016 presidential campaign. Lucky for them no one has noticed. Yet.

Oleg Deripaska is the founder and majority owner of RUSAL, the world’s second largest aluminum company, based in Russia. Len Blavatnik owns a significant stake in RUSAL and served on its Board until November 10, 2016, two days after Donald Trump was elected.

Deripaska controls RUSAL with a 48 percent majority stake through his holding company, EN+ Group, and the Russian government owns 4.35 percent stake of EN+ Group through its second-largest state owned bank, VTB. VTB was exposed in the Panama papers in 2016 for facilitating the flow of billions of dollars to offshore companies linked to Vladimir Putin and is under sanctions by the U.S. government.

Deripaska has been closely connected to the Kremlin since he married into Boris Yeltsin’s family in 2001, which literally includes him in the Russian clan known as “The Family.” According to the Associated Press, starting in 2006, Deripaska made annual payments of $10 million to Paul Manafort through the Bank of Cyprus to advance Putin’s global agenda.

Len Blavatnik’s co-owner in RUSAL is his long-time business partner, Viktor Vekselberg, another Russian oligarch with close ties to Putin. Blavatnik and Vekselberg hold their 15.8 percent joint stake in RUSAL in the name of Sual Partners, their offshore company in the Bahamas. Vekselberg also happens to be the largest shareholder in the Bank of Cyprus.

Another oligarch with close ties to Putin, Dmitry Rybolovlev, owns a 3.3 percent stake in the Bank of Cyprus. Rybolovlev is known as “Russia’s Fertilizer King” and has been in the spotlight for several months as the purchaser of Trump’s 60,000 square-foot mansion in Palm Beach. Rybolovlev bought the estate for $54 million more than Trump paid for the property at the bottom of the crash in the U.S. real estate market.

The convoluted web that links Putin’s oligarchs to Trump’s political associates and top Republicans is difficult to take in.

{“type”:”video”,”title”:”Dallas News Video”,”author_name”:”Dallas News”,”_id”:”s4cm82YzE6mt0Fe7KB9KkMG14HaXe2g9″,”provider_name”:”Ooyala”,”html”:”

“,”raw”:”{\”type\”:\”video\”,\”title\”:\”Dallas News Video\”,\”author_name\”:\”Dallas News\”,\”_id\”:\”s4cm82YzE6mt0Fe7KB9KkMG14HaXe2g9\”,\”provider_name\”:\”Ooyala\”,\”html\”:\”\\u003Cdiv class=\\\”oo-vid-container\\\” data-oo-content-id=\\\”s4cm82YzE6mt0Fe7KB9KkMG14HaXe2g9\\\”\\u003E\\u003C\\/div\\u003E\\u003Cscript defer src=\\\”https:\\/\\/www.dallasnews.com\\/resources\\/motif\\/dist\\/js\\/ooyala.js\\\”\\u003E\\u003C\\/script\\u003E\”}”,”providerType”:”ooyala”,”providerLink”:”https://www.dallasnews.com/oembed”,”embedType”:”video”}

Trump and Putin have a common approach to governance. They rely heavily on long-term relationships and family ties. While there have been tensions between Putin and Deripaska over the years, the Kremlin came to Deripaska’s rescue in 2009 when he was on the verge of bankruptcy by providing a $4.5 billion emergency loan through state-owned Vnesheconombank (VEB), where Putin is chair of the advisory board.

VEB, known as President Putin’s “pet bank,” is now in crisis after sanctions applied by Europe and U.S. in 2014 have isolated it from the international banks that were the sources of its nearly $4 billion in hard currency loans that, according to Bloomberg, mature this year and in 2018.

Russia’s international currency reserves are near a 10-year low, which has put further pressure on the president of VEB, Sergey Gorkov, to find sources of international rescue capital. Notably, it was Gorkov who met secretly with Jared Kushner in December at Trump Tower. Kushner’s failure to report the meeting with Gorkov has drawn the attention of the Senate intelligence committee that now wants to question Kushner about the meeting.

Ruth May is a business professor at the University of Dallas and an expert on the economies of Russia and Ukraine. She wrote this column for The Dallas Morning News. Twitter: @ruthcmay

CORRECTION, 12:11 p.m., August 7: The headline on an earlier version of this column incorrectly said Blavatnik is Russian. He was born in Ukraine during the Soviet era.

An earlier version of this column used the name Leonid “Len” Blavatnik. He changed his first name to Leonard.

The column has also been updated to remove language describing the online presentation of a press release about Blavatnik resigning from the RUSAL board because it lacked context.”

Ruth May wrote an update article for the Dallas Morning News that is worth reading because it gives a lot of information. It was written on May 8, 2018. The title of the article was “How Putin’s oligarchs funneled millions into GOP campaigns.

How Putin’s Oligarchs Funneled Millions into GOP Campaigns

“Campaign finance reports show troubling connections between a group of wealthy donors with ties to Russia and their political contributions to Trump and top Republican leaders.

Editor’s note May 8, 2018: This column originally published December 15, 2017. New allegations about $500k in payments from a Russian oligarch made to Trump attorney Michael Cohen have placed it back in the news.

As Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team probes deeper into potential collusion between Trump officials and representatives of the Russian government, investigators are taking a closer look at political contributions made by U.S. citizens with close ties to Russia.

Buried in the campaign finance reports available to the public are some troubling connections between a group of wealthy donors with ties to Russia and their political contributions to President Donald Trump and a number of top Republican leaders. And thanks to changes in campaign finance laws, the political contributions are legal. We have allowed our campaign finance laws to become a strategic threat to our country.

An example is Len Blavatnik, a dual U.S.-U.K. citizen and one of the largest donors to GOP political action committees in the 2015-16 election cycles. Blavatnik’s family emigrated to the U.S. in the late ’70s from the U.S.S.R. and he returned to Russia when the Soviet Union began to collapse in the late ’80s.

Data from the Federal Election Commission show that Blavatnik’s campaign contributions dating back to 2009-10 were fairly balanced across party lines and relatively modest for a billionaire. During that season he contributed $53,400. His contributions increased to $135,552 in 2011-12 and to $273,600 in 2013-14, still bipartisan.

In 2015-16, everything changed. Blavatnik’s political contributions soared and made a hard right turn as he pumped $6.35 million into GOP political action committees, with millions of dollars going to top Republican leaders including Sens. Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham.

In 2017, donations continued, with $41,000 going to both Republican and Democrat candidates, along with $1 million to McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund.

So is this legal?

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the ranking Democratic leader on the House Intelligence Committee, told ABC News in September: “Unless the contributions were directed by a foreigner, they would be legal, but could still be of interest to investigators examining allegations of Russian influence on the 2016 campaign. Obviously, if there were those that had associations with the Kremlin that were contributing, that would be of keen concern.”

Under federal law, foreigner nationals are barred from contributing directly or indirectly to political campaigns in local, state and federal elections.

Should Blavatnik’s contributions concern Mueller’s team of investigators? Take a look at his long-time business associates in Russia.

The Oligarchs

Oleg Deripaska is said to be one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s favorite oligarchs, and he is founder and majority shareholder of Russia’s Rusal, the second-largest aluminum company in the world. Blavatnik holds a stake in Rusal with a business partner.

Further, nearly 4 percent of Deripaska’s stake in Rusal is owned by Putin’s state-controlled bank, VTB, which is currently under U.S. sanctions. VTB was exposed in the Panama Papers in 2016 for facilitating the flow of billions of dollars to offshore companies linked to Putin.

Earlier this year, The Associated Press reported that Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, began collecting $10 million a year in 2006 from Deripaska to advance Putin’s interests with Western governments. Deripaska’s name turned up again in an email handed over to Mueller’s team by Manafort’s attorneys. According to The Washington Post, in the email dated July 7, 2016, just two weeks before Trump accepted the Republican nomination for president, Manafort asked an overseas intermediary to pass a message on to Deripaska: “If he [Deripaska] needs private briefings, tell him we can accommodate.”

Viktor Vekselberg is one of the 10 richest men in Russia. He and long-time business partner Blavatnik hold a 20.5 percent stake in Rusal. (They met while attending university in Russia.)

In 1990, Blavatnik and Vekselberg co-founded the Renova Group for large-scale investments in energy, infrastructure, aluminum and other metals. One of their earliest investments was in Tyumen Oil Co. (TNK), founded in 1995. TNK is best known for its contentious partnership with British Petroleum after the two entities formed a joint venture in 2003. That rocky relationship ended 10 years later when they sold out to the state-controlled energy giant, Rosneft, under pressure from the Russian government.

As for BP, that pressure took the form of growing harassment and intimidation from Russian authorities who at one point, according to Forbes, refused to renew visas for BP employees, forcing BP’s joint venture chief Robert Dudley (who is now chief executive of BP) to flee Russia and manage TNK-BP from a foreign outpost in a secret location.

Vekselberg has connections to at least two Americans who made significant GOP campaign contributions during the last cycle. They are among several Americans who also merit Mueller’s scrutiny.

The Americans

Andrew Intrater, according to Mother Jones, is Vekselberg’s cousin. He is also chief executive of Columbus Nova, Renova’s U.S. investment arm located in New York. (FEC records list his employer as Renova US Management LLC.)

Intrater had no significant history of political contributions prior to the 2016 elections. But in January 2017 he contributed $250,000 to Trump’s Inaugural Committee. His six-figure gift bought him special access to a dinner billed as “an intimate policy discussion with select cabinet appointees,” according to a brochure obtained by the Center for Public Integrity.

Alexander Shustorovich, chief executive of IMG Artists, attempted to give the Republican Party $250,000 in 2000 to support the George W. Bush presidential campaign, but his money was rejected because of his ties to the Russian government, according to Quartz. So why didn’t the Trump team reject Shustorovich’s $1 million check to Trump’s Inaugural Committee?

Simon Kukes is an oil magnate who has something in common with Intrater. From 1998 to 2003, he worked for Vekselberg and Blavatnik as chief executive of TNK. Redacted CIA documents released in 2003 under the Freedom of Information Act said “TNK president Kukes said that he bribed local officials.” The CIA confirmed the authenticity of the reports to The Guardian newspaper but would not comment further. In 2016, Kukes contributed a total of $283,000, much of it to the Trump Victory Fund. He had no significant donor history before last year’s election.

There is no doubt that Kukes has close ties to the Putin government. When he left his job as CEO of TNK in June 2003, he joined the board of Yukos Oil, which at the time was the largest oil company in Russia owned by the richest man in Russia, Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Four months after Kukes joined the board, authorities arrested Khodorkovsky at gunpoint on his private plane in Siberia on trumped up charges of tax evasion and tapped Kukes to be CEO. This decision could only have been made at the highest levels in the Kremlin. The arrest of Khodorkovsky rattled the nerves of international investors and was the first tangible sign that Putin was not going to be the kind of leader that global executives and Western governments had expected him to be when he first took office in 2000.

Khodorkovksy was given a 13-year sentence in a Siberian prison and served 10 years before being released by Putin in December 2013, a month before the start of the 2014 winter Olympics in Sochi, as a sign of goodwill. As for the fate of Khodorkovksy’s company, its largest oil subsidiary was sold in a sealed bid auction to Baikal Financial Group, a shell company with an unpublished list of officers. Baikal was registered at an address that turned out to be a mobile phone store in Tver, Russia. Three days after the auction, all of Baikal’s assets were acquired for an undisclosed sum by Rosneft, the Russian oil giant that went on to buy TNK-BP in 2013.

In total, Blavatnik, Intrater, Shustorovich and Kukes made $10.4 million in political contributions from the start of the 2015-16 election cycles through September 2017, and 99 percent of their contributions went to Republicans. With the exception of Shustorovich, the common denominator that connects the men is their association with Vekselberg. Experts who follow the activities of Russian oligarchs told ABC News that they believe the contributions from Blavatnik, Intrater and Kukes warrant intense scrutiny because they have worked closely with Vekselberg.

Even if the donations by the four men associated with Russia ultimately pass muster with Mueller, one still has to wonder: Why did GOP PACs and other Trump-controlled funds take their money? Why didn’t the PACs say, “Thanks, but no thanks,” like the Republicans said to Shustorovich in 2000? Yes, it was legal to accept their donations, but it was incredibly poor judgment.

McConnell surely knew as a participant in high level intelligence briefings in 2016 that our electoral process was under attack by the Russians. Two weeks after the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued a joint statement in October 2016 that the Russian government had directed the effort to interfere in our electoral process; McConnell’s PAC accepted a $1 million donation from Blavatnik’s AI-Altep Holdings. The PAC took another $1 million from Blavatnik’s AI-Altep Holdings on March 30, 2017, just 10 days after former FBI Director James Comey publicly testified before the House Intelligence Committee about Russia’s interference in the election.

And consider Steve Mnuchin, Trump’s campaign finance chairman. Could he have known that the Trump Victory Fund, jointly managed by the Republican National Committee and Trump’s campaign, took contributions from Intrater and Kukes? Mnuchin owned Hollywood financing company RatPac-Dune with Blavatnik until he sold his stake to accept Trump’s appointment as the Treasury secretary.

Which PAC officials are making the decisions to accept these donations?

 

The Supreme Court

The contributions are legal because the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling, Citizens United, and several subsequent decisions, allowed American corporations and citizens to give unlimited amounts of money to PACs and non-profit 501c4 organizations, regardless of how they make their money, where they make their money, or with whom they make their money. The only caveat is that PACs and non-profits cannot coordinate their activities with the political candidates they support.

The man who led the winning fight for Citizens United was David Bossie, president of the conservative non-profit since 2001. In 1996, Bossie was hired by Republican Rep. Dan Burton to lead an investigation into President Bill Clinton’s campaign fundraising. Burton fired him 18 months later for manipulating recordings of conversations among law officials and Webb Hubbell, a Clinton confidant who resigned as associate attorney general and pleaded guilty to tax fraud during the Whitewater investigation. CNN reported at the time that Newt Gingrich, who was speaker of the House, called Bossie’s tampering with the Hubbell recordings an embarrassment to the Republicans. Bossie served as Trump’s deputy campaign chairman.

The Super PAC, Make America Number 1, is primarily funded by Trump’s largest donor, Robert Mercer. His Renaissance Technologies hedge fund donated $15.5 million to the PAC. Mercer’s daughter, Rebekah, assumed control of Make America Number 1 in September 2016 and is now tainted by her role in the communications between Wikileaks and Cambridge Analytica, the firm that Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, hired for $5.9 million to handle the digital portion of the Trump campaign.

Robert and Rebekah Mercer are major investors in Cambridge Analytica. According to The Wall Street Journal, Rebekah Mercer asked Cambridge chief executive Alexander Nix if the firm could compile stolen emails related to Hillary Clinton so that they could be more easily searched. (This suggestion came from someone she met at an event supporting Sen. Ted Cruz, according to The Hill. Cambridge Analytica had worked on digital marketing for Cruz before he dropped out of the Republican primary.)

Nix confirmed that he had asked Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to forward the Clinton-related emails. Assange said he declined the request.

Rebekah Mercer also heads the non-profit Making America Great, formed in March 2017. The non-profit ran a seven-figure ad campaign highlighting Trump’s achievements. Bossie is the group’s chief strategist.

Erik Prince, brother of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, contributed $150,000 to Mercer’s Make America Number 1 PAC and another $100,000 to the Trump Victory Fund. Prince has recently testified to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence about his trip to the remote Seychelles for a secret meeting in December 2016 with a close ally of Putin, Kirill Dmitriev, and head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund. The purpose of the meeting was allegedly to setup a back channel of communication between then president-elect Donald Trump and the Russians, though Prince has denied this allegation. Before the 2015-16 elections, Prince’s political contributions totaled a mere $31,800 as far back as 2007, according to FEC records.

The hybrid super-PAC, The Committee to Defend the President, was formed in 2013 under the name Stop Hillary PAC. It is managed by Dan Backer, the lead attorney who won the McCutcheon vs. Federal Election Commission case in 2014. The Supreme Court decision eliminated the cap on how many wealthy individuals can donate to federal candidates, parties and PACs in a single, two-year election cycle.

Like Bossie, Dan Backer helped to open the floodgates to millions of dollars of influence brought to bear on incumbents and their political challengers who are now pressured to kowtow to their donors with the biggest bank accounts, even if their billions are earned in Russian rubles.

Backer was born in Russia and emigrated with his family to the U.S. in 1978.

The changes to our campaign finance laws created an avenue for Russia to try to influence our elections. There are holes in our firewall and they aren’t on the internet.

Ruth May is a business professor at the University of Dallas and an expert on the economies of Russia and Ukraine. She wrote this column for The Dallas Morning News. Twitter: @ruthcmaygraphics by Michael Hogue/Staff Artist

Final Comments

     It is astonishing to know our Republican United States senators sold us out for personal self-aggrandizing motives centered on money, getting re-elected and power. They didn’t give a rat’s ass about your safety or your concerns of any kind. As they say, it’s true; ‘we have the best politicians money can buy.’ Senate Republicans and near-do-wells like House Republicans are the most despicable politicians on the face of the earth. I don’t say this lightly; the Republican Party prior to 1994 used to be worthy and was honorable.

The current Senate Republican “pack of wolves” has dishonored their country and their reputations forever; they have a perverted sense of values that are truly un-American. The hypocrisy and phoniness of Republicans, including the White House Defense Team, reeks of shame in their attempt to shield the paper tiger in the White House.

During the trial the White House defense team said how important it was to protect the voter’s 2016 decision to vote for the President. Impeaching Donald J. Trump somehow violated the sanctity of their right to vote. Since the Republican Party routinely cheats the American voter through voter suppression sponsored programs, and the gerrymandering process, those topics never came up in the discussions during the trial—now did they?

More than Donald J. Trump was on trial during his impeachment hearing in the United States Senate. Truth and character were also on trial. Consequently, because of their decision, democracy is now dead in the United States. The Constitutional Republic is no more.

To all the Republicans in the land and especially conservative Republicans I want to say two things from the bottom of my heart: Fuc# Yo# and May God have mercy on your soul if you have one!!!

Republicans may fear the wrath of Donald J. Trump. But what they really should fear is the wrath of the American people. If he gets to November 2020 he’s going down.

In the meantime more impeachment charges should be leveled against Donald J. Trump, particularly from the Mueller Report. And newspapers like the Washington post should publish all secret interviews, but from reliable sources, like insiders currently in the Trump Administration. Other newspapers like The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and many others should hover over Trump from now on “like a fly on do-do.”

Republican Senators should be further investigated for taking any bribes, both foreign and domestic. As Donald J. Trump said recently in reference to U. S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, “She will be going through some things.” Senate Republicans can now count on one thing in the future: “They too will be going through some things.” And, they damn well deserve everything that will happen to them. What a God damn disgrace they are!!!

Read Full Post »

Senate Trial of Donald J. Trump Could Embarrass the U.S. Supreme Court

Implications for the Role of Chief Justice John Roberts

The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money. America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.

Alexis de Tocqueville, French Diplomat              

Introduction

The U. S. House of Representatives created two articles of impeachment based on 645 pages of solid evidence. Now because of this these articles were passed on December 18, 2019 against Donald J. Trump. A trial is planned to take place in January 2020 before the United States Senate as part of their Constitutional duties and requirement.

Moscow Mitch and Leningrad Lindsay have publicly declared that they are not unbiased and have already made up their mind to acquit the President of wrongdoing by declaring that impeachment is a political process, not a legal process.

It is true that impeachment is primarily a political process. But does that necessarily mean politics reigns supreme over any and all legal issues or concerns? I think not! Legal issues go way beyond the relative importance and whimsical or waggish nature of politics.

The public expects a real trial, not a kangaroo court or quasi- judicial farce. If a jury foreman or other juror in a real trial was to stand up and publicly announce his/her intention to acquit a defendant in advance, before even opening statements, the presiding judge would censor and remove that juror(s).

Politics after all is based, at its root or primary level, on value judgments. But underlying values or ideology is not the same thing as evaluating solid data, or evidence that might support, or not support, allegations made against a President.

Aside from the above statement the United States Constitution calls for the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court to preside over an impeachment trial. Why would the Founding Fathers think it important to have a Chief Justice present and oversee an impeachment trial, if they only considered impeachment to be solely a political process? In fact, why call in the Judicial Branch at all if it’s only a political process?

They did so because the Founding Fathers knew that a fledgling democracy could be contaminated and compromised by individuals in any of the branches of government. They knew it wasn’t a perfect system; but they believed that the best way to protect the government from a corrupt branch involve all three branches of government at the same time as a check on each other. This philosophical stance was the basic underlying idea behind wanting three branches of government in the first place. Impeachment was only one of their concerns. The overall operation of a democracy was at the forefront of their fears and concerns. Alexis de Tocqueville is important here to what I’m explaining, but is beyond the scope of this Blog.

The Republicans in the forthcoming trial of Donald J. Trump want to run roughshod over the proceedings and the nation. They want to negate and totally minimize evidence presentations (new or old evidence) and do everything in their power to prevent witnesses from testifying. The role of the Chief Justice in such a process would be reduced and would totally emasculate John Roberts, or at best, have the Chief Justice serve only in a manner that can only be described as “window-dressing.” This would be an embarrassment to the U.S. Supreme Court.

But all of this runs counter to what the Founding Fathers really wanted—fair and impartial jurors and the presentation of real evidence. All of this puts the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in an embarrassing and untenable position. He’s damned if he does, and damned if he doesn’t conduct the trial in a serious and legally well-reasoned manner.

Relevant Article

Recently, I found an article from TIME that describes the embarrassment issue and difficulty for John Roberts to serve in such an impeachment trial controlled by the Senate.

 

Why Impeachment Could Be a Nightmare for Chief Justice John Roberts

By Tessa Berenson, October 31, 2019

 

“The impeachment inquiry has so far unfolded largely as a fight between Congress and the White House, with federal courts weighing in occasionally. But if the House moves to impeach President Donald Trump, thus triggering a trial in the Senate, then the chief justice of the United States will be drawn in to oversee the proceedings. That would put John Roberts, a man known for his temperance and modest view of judicial power, in an uncomfortable place: at the direct center of a bitter political battle.

     It’s not a job the reserved judge will likely relish. For Roberts, who famously said Supreme Court justices should merely “call balls and strikes,” overseeing an impeachment trial would force him to engage very publicly in helping determine the fate of the president who has called him an “absolute disaster.” It will also put the Supreme Court’s fragile reputation of being above politics on the line—an issue that’s dear to Roberts and that could have ramifications for the high court for years to come as it fights to preserve public confidence in its work.

     “I can think of no task I think the Chief wants less than to have that thrust upon him,” Megan Brown, partner at Wiley Rein, said at a Federalist Society panel on Oct. 2.

There’s no way for Roberts to get out of it; his role in any impeachment trial is mandated by the Constitution. Article I Section 3 reads, in part: “When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside.” The framers named the chief justice to preside over an impeachment trial to highlight the gravity of the process, and the move had a practical component. The Vice President is the leader of the Senate, but in the case of an impeachment trial, he has an extraordinary conflict of interest: he would take over the presidency if the Senate trial results in a conviction. The appointment of the chief justice to oversee the trial eliminates that problem.

The last chief justice to oversee an impeachment trial encountered a stylistic clash between the Supreme Court and the Capitol across the street. Former Chief Justice William Rehnquist, for whom Roberts once clerked, oversaw the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton in 1999. “I underwent the sort of culture shock that naturally occurs when one moves from the very structured environment of the Supreme Court to what I shall call, for want of a better phrase, the more freeform environment of the Senate,” he told senators at the time, according to CNN.

That contrast may be particularly pronounced in the case of Roberts, who has been outspoken about his belief that the judiciary should not wade into political matters. During his opening statement in his confirmation hearing in 2005, Roberts extolled the virtues of “humility” and “modesty” in judges. “Judges are like umpires. Umpires don’t make the rules; they apply them,” he said. “The role of an umpire and a judge is critical. They make sure everybody plays by the rules. But it is a limited role. Nobody ever went to a ballgame to see the umpire.”

But in an impeachment trial, Roberts would be required to weigh in on questions about evidence and administrative procedures in a process that is both highly broadcast and inherently political. “Roberts has told us that he doesn’t want the court involved in politics and that the court should stay away from divisive 5-4 decisions,” says Josh Blackman, associate law professor at South Texas College of Law Houston. But in an impeachment trial, he added, Roberts wouldn’t be able to make decisions alongside eight other justices: “It’s just him.”

While there are risks for the chief in assuming the central role in an impeachment fight, those who know him say there are opportunities, as well. “This will provide a setting in which the chief justice will be able to show the importance of neutrality and impartiality in our judicial system,” says one of Roberts’ former clerks. “Especially in a context in which there might be a lot of turbulence and a lot of politics involved, I suspect that he will present a picture of a judge in the middle of it all, trying to keep the process fair.”

If a House vote does indeed trigger a move to the Senate, Roberts will be presiding over the legislative branch’s trial during a fraught time for both Congress and the Supreme Court. In 2017, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell changed the rules on Supreme Court confirmations, requiring only a simple majority, rather than the traditional 60 votes, to confirm a justice. The move has had enormous political ramifications. In 2018, Justice Brett Kavanagh was confirmed with just 50 votes, along near party-lines, after he was accused of sexual assault. (Kavanagh denies the allegations.) Perhaps partly as a result of McConnell’s rule change and Kavanagh’s subsequent confirmation, Americans are now viewing the nation’s highest court through an increasingly partisan lens.

In August 2019, there was a 26 percentage point difference between how Republicans and Democrats viewed the court, among the widest it has been over the past two decades, according to Pew Research Center.

     Roberts has also tangled publicly with Trump. After Trump attacked what he called “an Obama judge” who ruled against his administration’s asylum policy in 2018, Roberts issued a rare statement. “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,” he said. “What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them. That independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.”

     Roberts also faces more mundane logistical challenges. If lawmakers follow the procedures from the last impeachment trial, it would run six days a week—during a time that the Supreme Court’s work may be continuing apace. The Supreme Court has plenty of its own work to do. This term, it agreed to hear its first major abortion case since Kavanagh took the bench, and it will hear arguments about Trump’s termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, among other high-profile cases. In Roberts’ absence, Justice Clarence Thomas, the most senior associate justice, would fill in for him in the top role at the Supreme Court. “You can imagine it could make Chief Justice Roberts’ life a little busy, if he’s got two full time jobs,” Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director at Judicial Crisis Network, said at the Oct. 2 Federalist Society event.

     Roberts has acknowledged the current pressures facing the court. “We don’t go about our work in a political manner,” Roberts said in New York City in September. “The point is when you live in a politically polarized environment, people tend to see everything in those terms,” Roberts continued. “That is not how we at the court function and the results of our cases do not suggest otherwise.”

     The challenge for Roberts will be to maintain that reputation amidst what promises to be a partisan melee. “We have a very political process that’s about to blow up in his face,” says Blackman, “whether he wants it or not.”

Final Comments

The point of this Blog is to bring attention to the fact that the fine reputation of the United States Supreme Court is at stake in a trial such as that of Donald J. Trump. This is a serious matter for the nation to consider. It may be that the potential squabbling between a democratic House of Representatives and a Republican Senate people will find entertaining. Entertainment may be a side effect, but the proper administration of justice is the real issue at hand. It would be wise for each citizen watching the trial unfold to understand the importance and seriousness of an impeachment trial.

The United States Supreme Court is a distinguished body of judges whose reputations for analyzing legal data with integrity are well known. It is not unprecedented for a judge in a normal everyday trial to vacate the verdict of a jury in the interests of justice if conditions warrant such an action.

In any event Chief Justice John Roberts needs to take command of the Trial. He needs to be in the driver’s seat, not Moscow Mitch.

We all have biases (including myself) based on the value judgments we all make. Value judgments are an almost inescapable aspect of life when one grows up in any culture. Breaking out of culture over time is most often done by progressives who have a vision of the future. Breaking out of culture norms goes by another name—social change.

Besides a future vision cultural dissatisfaction may play a role for progressives as well as conservatives. Historically conservatives almost always fight against change in all its forms. But it is a temporary fight because eventually yesterday soon becomes today and today soon becomes tomorrow. Said another way, change is inevitable.

It is ironic to notice that 90 years ago conservatives fought tooth and nail to prevent that crazy idea and belief that the country needed to protect the citizenry against calamities like the Great Depression of the 1930s. That crazy idea eventually became the Social Security Act of 1935. Conservatives lost that war with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In 2020, just try to rescind the Social Security Act of 1935. Socially conservative individuals would have a fit now if anyone tried to touch this long standing social program. Once it was a fear of social change; now Social Security has become the normative nature of “all things” today.

The truth is conservatives have, and always will be, on the short end of the stick where social change is concerned. They react; they are not proactive in their thinking. They are always behind the curve of social change.

It must be noted that social change by itself is neither good nor bad. It is simply change reinforced by changing values. How values change over time is complicated and deserves its own Blog to explain its complexity. Because human behavior is influenced by changing values and its complexity just consider for yourself one topical area for your mind to question or mull over. That question is—how has technology itself and social media impacted social behavior and changing social values? That ought to keep you thinking for a month as to how to answer it!

It will be entertaining to observe the trial of Donald J. Trump. The “Jim Jones, David Koresh, or Charles Manson” cult nature of the current Republican Party has caused a Constitutional crisis. The “Brown shirt” mentality of strict obedience to just one man by the Republican Party (like the Brown shirts and Adolf Hitler) gives the widespread impression that the goose-stepping Republican Party is very odd and very strange indeed, bordering on criminogenic behavior.

Is it possible the Donald J. Trump trial will be devoid of political histrionics? I’m generally an optimistic person by nature. But I think the televised trial is too great an opportunity for the Republican Party to miss creating (to be polite) much mischief as the cameras begin to roll.

The Republicans want to “Rubber Stamp” his innocence before the trial even begins. Party Republicans aren’t the only ones who want to rush to judgment in the trial. Trump supporters nationwide can also be branded as the contingency of voters that “See No Evil, Hear No Evil, and Speak No Evil” where Donald Trump is concerned (All Trump supporters share this characteristic).

It is true that all Trump supporters are not alike. In this author’s opinion they tend to form two distinct groups: (1) those who are ideological in nature who identify with Trump personally. These people may be very similar to Trump in terms of personality traits like The Authoritarian Personality or have become “True Believers” who will follow him anywhere, even to the dark side, and (2) a more pragmatic group of Trump supporters who want something from Trump in return for their vote. These people tend to want Trump to improve the economy and jobs, the bread and butter issues.

Because of these self-interests, pragmatic Trump supporters are willing to overlook Trump inadequacies such as his overall lack of a moral compass, ambivalence towards deviant groups in society, his incessant tweets or vulgarity, his proclivity for lying, nepotism, unsavory friends (like Jeffery Epstein or Paul Manafort), and his philandering ways. Ironically, the Economy is great today because of Obama policies that were put into place to deal with the Financial Crisis of 2008 and 2009. Interest rates have been dropping ever since. The economy’s success today has nothing to do with Donald Trump whose trade policy wars are hurting America’s farmer’s all over the country.

If Donald J. Trump survives the Impeachment Trial in January 2020, I predict his political value as a leader of the Republican Party will continue to decline anyway. Not being thrown out of Office will hardly be viewed as a victory by his supporters. If the Democrats resurrect the Mueller Report with all the evidence already established (and any new impeachment charges) they will pass additional charges for impeachment right up to Election Day, 2020. Donald J. Trump faces criminal charges once he leaves the presidency. If he is not re-elected in November 2020, he will be indicted in New York the very next day.

There is a reason Donald J. Trump doesn’t want his tax returns released to the public. He declared bankruptcy 3 times and after that, no banks in the United States were willing to give him a loan. Do you know who did come around and finally fund Donald J. Trump? Can you guess? It was the Russian Oligarchs with Vladimir Putin’s support. Like the late conservative American radio broadcaster Paul Harvey used to say at the end of each broadcast news report, “And now you know— the rest of the story.”

 

 

Read Full Post »

Citizen’s Guide to Evaluating Donald J. Trump’s Fitness for Office of the Presidency

Introduction

     As everyone knows by now the House of Representatives are about to charge the President of the United States with several articles of impeachment. Monday, December 9th is going to be a significant step forward as the House Intelligence Committee presents the actual evidence for impeachment to the House Judiciary Committee.

I’m only speculating but the charges put forth most likely will be Bribery, Abuse of Power, Obstruction of Congress, Obstruction of Justice, and possibly Witness Intimidation (just like a Mafia Boss). The overriding question is this: Is Donald J. Trump fit for the Office of the Presidency? The next question to follow should be if convicted, should he be removed from Office?

As citizens we are not involved with this process. We are principally just bystanders via our TV sets. I think we should nonetheless form an opinion based on many factors alongside the formal impeachable process and evaluation. What do I mean by this? There are at least two categories of concern we should be thinking about as we try to form an opinion. One category are other offenses and the other category is a more broader widespread criteria of evaluation, that is, any evidence of high moral character and any evidence of good citizenship.

I personally think that the other offenses that should be applied to Donald J. Trump, among the public’s evaluation, are treason, incompetence in foreign policy such as failure to stand by the Kurds in Syria.

In addition, all the evidence obtained from the Mueller investigation on Obstruction of Justice needs to be included. Also, all Trump’s violations of the Emolument Clause (so to prevent him from personally enriching himself in the future at the expense of unwitting taxpayers) needs to be included as well as evidence showing his penchant for human rights violations (putting kids in cages), and his general wanton disregard of all our laws including the United States Constitution.

Aside from this, House and Senate Republicans have shown very little respect for Trump supporters by telling them how to think, and not think, for themselves. Trump supporters are an easy mark for Republican propaganda since Trump supporters fit very nicely into the mold of gullibility and The True Believer/Identity Fusion paradigm.

More Comprehensive Evaluation Criteria

If you believe that no one is above the law, would you also believe that everyone for public office needs to be evaluated with the same criteria as the average citizen? And like a job interview, do you believe everyone in society needs to be treated equally and fairly in the process of evaluating someone for a job? And that includes presidents as well as the average citizen. I certainly do. Giving deference to anyone just because of their social status is sending society the wrong message. It is antithetical to our inherent values of fairness and democracy.

The President needs to be evaluated just as John Doe does in a job interview. You want someone to be able to do the job, and have a record of competence, experience and an absence of morally corrupt behavior such as a criminal conduct for fraud, or stealing from employers among other offenses; you want someone who is a good citizen and of high moral character. That’s what the public expects as part of normal everyday job hiring. The employer in this analogy is the voting public. The job seeker in this analogy is Donald J. Trump.

I make use of this analogy not to minimize or lighten the tone of the impeachment inquiry, but simply to help readers of this blog understand how the impeachment inquiry and a job interview are very similar in nature. It’s all about fitness for a job.

Think of impeachment as a way to evaluate the fitness and moral character of Donald J. Trump. Think of Donald J. Trump’s tenure as President as his probationary period of evaluation. With that concept in mind—read on!

If the public fails to keep an eye on the performance of any president, or job applicant, they are not being good Stewarts of proper citizenship. Just because you have the right to vote does not make you a good citizen. And, the impeachment process is a very important part of any evaluation of a President as laid down in the United States Constitution by the Founding Fathers. This is particularly true since probable cause is so intuitively obvious with this particular impeachment. The case, as Jerry Nadler says, is rock solid. There is a plethora of evidence developed during the impeachment inquiry, testimony given, and documentary data.

Impeachment (in my opinion) is not just about Treason, Bribery or High Crimes and Misdemeanors. It’s a political process rather than a legal one, although legal and constitutional issues this time are inextricably interwoven with the looming impeachment of Donald, J. Trump. And if you’re going to impeach a president, shouldn’t the criteria of evaluation be as comprehensive as possible? I argue that the answer is “yes” to all of the above questions. Congress may disagree with my assessment of what is needed but then, that is their prerogative. I just think Trump’s behavior before his election, as well as the various patterns of his behavior overall (like 10,000 lies or more) should be relevant to the question of his fitness for Office of the Presidency.

I believe a President should be evaluated based on the total package, that is, what he/she has done in terms of both past and present behavior. Impeachment by itself only looks at what a president has done during his tenure in office. In a job interview one’s past is just as important as present behavior. His/her fitness for the Office of the Presidency, the highest office in the land, requires nothing less than a thorough examination of the facts—not alternative facts, fake facts or no facts at all—but real facts. As Sergeant Joe Friday said many times on the 1950s TV show Dragnet, “Just give me the facts mam.”

As a political process, elements of good moral character and principles of good citizenship should apply. Why? It’s because our values as a nation are at stake now as well as the moral turpitude of a struggling nation to remove the abject chaos in the White House, and put our democracy back in order.

If one fails to properly evaluate a President’s behavior, past and present, one is unworthy of calling themselves an American in a democratic society. To be brutally honest many core Trump supporters act and think as if they had recently been kicked in the head by a horse. Perhaps instead of wearing a baseball shaped cap that says “Make America Great Again” maybe they should instead wear a black and white T-shirt that says, “Look out, recently I’ve been kicked in the head by a horse.” That horse, of course, is Donald J. Trump.

As soon as the evidence is presented by the Intelligence Committee the impeachment trial should  soon follow. If Moscow Mitch is unwilling to settle on a fair compromise with Chuck Schumer over the rules to be followed during the impeachment trial, there  is no guarantee that a trial will be conducted in the U.S. Senate at all.

If the Republicans try to structure the trial to only their advantage of stonewalling for an acquittal of Donald J. Trump, the repercussions of such actions will send the country into a tailspin causing the electorate to wonder if America is still a democracy.  Under this scenario the Republican Party will soon cease to exist.

We want all our presidents to be both fit for Office and good citizens. And the underlying elements of fitness should involve more than what someone does wrong or is illegal. Equally important factors of fitness should be the extent a president shows good citizenship and high moral character. Between good citizenship and high moral character I think high moral character is the more important criterion.

What is high moral character?

High moral character is composed of five critical traits: honesty, compassion, respect, responsibility, and courage. Anything less than this is to load up the presidency with mediocre near-do-wells, or worse yet someone who will do actual harm to the country and its people, and simultaneously dishonor the Office of the Presidency.

Behavior before being elected

Has Donald J. Trump acted with high moral character prior to his being sworn into office on January 20, 2017. There are at least 12 areas (and many others exist) of prior behavior the public can use to evaluate whether Donald J. Trump was a man of high moral character prior to his becoming President.

     These areas include:

His case with the Federal Government on racial discrimination in the 1970s

His lifetime of misogynistic behavior with women and unwanted touching

His cheating on his wife Melania all during their marriage and when she was pregnant

His alleged rape and beating of a 13 year old prostitute supported by his friend Jeffery Epstein

His predatory behavior with a woman on a plane

His alleged rape of a woman in the backroom of a New York store

His close (buddy-buddy) relationship with Jeffery Epstein, a registered sex offender

His discrimination against the Central Park Five

His hush money payments to Stormy Daniels and others

His fraudulent creation of Trump University

His fraudulent behavior and cheating as a businessman

His misrepresenting who actually wrote, “Art of the Deal.” It was not Donald J. Trump

Behavior since being elected

If I were to list in detail all the things Donald J. Trump has done wrong as President of the United States, I would fill up a Blog or report of at least 4,000 pages (almost 10 times the size of the Mueller report). I’ll whittle it down to just four words: Gross incompetence and Treason.

Final Comments

Based on the total picture and behavior of Donald J. Trump, he deserves to be removed from Office of the Presidency. Standards of morality evidently must have been very low in 2016, at least for a portion of the population.

The data showed that there were 250,056,000 people who were eligible to vote in 2016. But only 61.4 percent of eligible voters actually voted in 2016. Of the total eligible only (24.7%) actually voted for Donald J. Trump. These voters basically supported a person of low moral character and with little evidence that he showed any good citizenship. But their voting for him at all is not that puzzling.

Let us not forget the underlying sociological reason that they supported Trump in the first place. A predominantly  white population favored Donald J. Trump in 2016. It was based on racism, plain and simple. Both his racist views and his personal degenerate hall of fame status were known by the voting public prior to the election. Yet, 61, 943,670 (out of a possible 250,056,000 eligible voters)  voted for him anyway knowing who and what he was. There is no mystery here. White Fright/White Flight is the subliminal, and at times, not so subliminal, cause of why people voted for him.

The other factors involved were interference by the Russians and the legally insidious cheating through gerrymandering. Before or after he leaves office, the Congress needs to remove his conspirators as well. They include Moscow Mitch, Mick Mulvaney, and Mike Pompeo. Others of great concern are Leningrad Lindsay, the three amigos (Gordon Sondland, Kurt Volker, and Rick Perry), and the bagman Rudy Giuliani. Want to convict these people? Follow the money!

It’s time now that all these actors of deceit get their legal and moral comeuppance. It’s time for the disposal companies around the country to pick up the garbage. First stop—Washington, D.C.

Let’s cut to the chase—Donald J. Trump needs to be removed from office followed by standing trial for felonies he had committed in New York as well as  for when he was in Office. His conspirators need to be brought to justice as well. No country club prison for this Cagle of misfits. They need to do hard time at Leavenworth Prison for treasonous un-American activity and conduct. They have disgraced this country as well as themselves. And, they have no one else to blame but themselves!

If I was calling the shots, I’d put the entire Trump Administration in our one remaining Supermax prison. It is reserved for those that are a serious threat to both national and global security. This is the United States federal system, ADX Florence in Florence, Colorado.

Republicans always whine about the need for a “law and order” society. That is, a “get tough stance on crime.” I don’t know about order. But, I do know they are about to get a good dose of the law. Turn on your televisions tomorrow morning. Get your cup of hot coffee and sit in that comfortable sofa or chair of yours. Now, let the entertainment begin!!!

 

Read Full Post »

Protecting Your Longevity against Heart Disease and Cancer:

Emphasis on Diet and Exercise

 

Introduction

     There are no guarantees in life as we all know. But a good path to increase one’s longevity is to follow a prudent plan of healthy choices in the areas of diet (what to eat) and how best to exercise (what to do, activity wise).

Now most adults already are aware of these general statements, but often are not sure of exactly what healthy choices are, or how best to exercise. The purpose of this Blog is to more narrowly get specific as to answers needed, at least based on current research.

But there are three main obstacles to one’s desire to live a long life. Genetics is one, that is, what we inherit in our genes. The second biggest obstacle to a long life is disease. Many diseases can affect our lives but the two primary ones are Heart Disease and Cancer. A third obstacle to our success lies with the advertising industry. This later obstacle will be taken up in the final comments section of this Blog.

The following data sheds light on these diseases and comes from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):

 

Heart Disease in the United States

  • About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. More than half of the deaths due to heart disease in 2009 were in men.
  • Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the most common type of heart disease, killing over 370,000 people annually.
  • Every year about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack. Of these, 525,000 are a first heart attack and 210,000 happen in people who have already had a heart attack.

These statistics relate to a barrage of specific ailments under the heading of heart disease. They include:

Americans at Risk for Heart Disease

High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking are key risk factors for heart disease. About half of Americans (47%) have at least one of these three risk factors. As an aside, the risk factor of smoking is something people can absolutely control, if they want to. Here are some sobering statistics related to smoking:

Cigarette smoking causes about one of every five deaths in the United States each year. Cigarette smoking is estimated to cause the following.

 

  • More than 480,000 deaths annually (including deaths from secondhand smoke)
  • 278,544 deaths annually among men (including deaths from secondhand smoke) 201,773 deaths annually among women (including deaths from secondhand smoke)

Several other medical conditions and lifestyle choices can also put people at a higher risk for heart disease, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Poor diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • Excessive alcohol use

 

Statistics at a Glance: The Burden of Cancer in the United States

  • In 2018, an estimated 1,735,350 new cases of cancer were diagnosed in the United States and 609,640 people will die from the disease.
  • The most common cancers (listed in descending order according to estimated new cases in 2018) are breast cancer, lung and bronchus cancer, prostate cancer, colon and rectum cancer, melanoma of the skin, bladder cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, kidney and renal pelvis cancer, endometrial cancer, leukemia, pancreatic cancer, thyroid cancer, and liver cancer.
  • The number of new cases of cancer (cancer incidence) is 439.2 per 100,000 men and women per year (based on 2011–2015 cases).
  • The number of cancer deaths (cancer mortality) is 163.5 per 100,000 men and women per year (based on 2011–2015 deaths).
  • Cancer mortality is higher among men than women (196.8 per 100,000 men and 139.6 per 100,000 women). When comparing groups based on race/ethnicity and sex, cancer mortality is highest in African American men (239.9 per 100,000) and lowest in Asian/Pacific Islander women (88.3 per 100,000).
  • In 2016, there were an estimated 15.5 million cancer survivors in the United States. The number of cancer survivors is expected to increase to 20.3 million by 2026.
  • Approximately 38.4% of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lifetimes (based on 2013–2015 data).
  • In 2017, an estimated 15,270 children and adolescents ages 0 to 19 were diagnosed with cancer and 1,790 died of the disease.
  • Estimated national expenditures for cancer care in the United States in 2017 were $147.3 billion. In future years, costs are likely to increase as the population ages and cancer prevalence increases. Costs are also likely to increase as new, and often more expensive, treatments are adopted as standards of care.

Statistics at a Glance: The Burden of Cancer Worldwide

  • Cancer is among the leading causes of death worldwide. In 2012, there were 14.1 million new cases and 8.2 million cancer-related deaths worldwide.
  • 57% of new cancer cases in 2012 occurred in less developed regions of the world that include Central America and parts of Africa and Asia; 65% of cancer deaths also occurred in these regions.
  • The number of new cancer cases per year is expected to rise to 23.6 million by 2030.

 

Healthy Food Choices

I’m not here to describe different types of recipes that would make use of the kinds of foods I’m about to suggest for a healthy diet. Instead I’ve chosen to describe the best foods to do three things: (1) help to prevent heart disease, (2) cancer, and (3) promote healthy living in general.

I’d like to point out what I discovered while doing research for this blog. I learned early on that some of the recommended foods in one area were identical to other areas as well. Here are the results of my research:

 

To Prevent Heart Disease

 

Leafy Green Vegetables

Whole Grains

Berries

Avocados

Fatty Fish and Fish Oil

Walnuts

Beans

Dark Chocolate

Tomatoes

Almonds

Seeds

Garlic

Olive Oil

Edamame

Green Tea

 

To Prevent Cancer

 

Spinach

Turmeric

Tomatoes

Onions and Leeks

Garlic

Watercress

Green Tea

Salmon

Water or a once in a while beer

Brazil Nuts

Walnuts

Beans

Dark Chocolate

 

Foods for a Healthy Life

 

Brightly colored fruit and vegetables

Dark Chocolate

Oily Fish

Green Tea

Olive oil

Garlic

Cranberries

The Coffee Bean

 

Best Foods for Longevity

 

All of the Above

 

Exercise

The following article was published in the Business Insider by Erin Brodwin, September 8, 2018. It’s my opinion that this article will cover the best plan of exercise for most people. I’ve been employing both cardio and weight training for some time now. Detective Hunter (played by Fred Dyer) used to say on the TV show Hunter in the 1990s—“Works for me.”

“2 forms of exercise are the best way to stave off the effects of aging — here’s how to incorporate them into your life Sep 8, 2018, 8:19 PM

If you’re searching for an all-natural way to lift your mood, preserve muscle tone, and protect your brain against the decline that comes with aging, look no further than the closest mirror.

One of the most powerful means of reaping these benefits is exercise — and in many cases, you already have everything you need to get it: a body.

As we age, two forms of exercise are the most important to focus on: aerobic exercise, or cardio, which gets your heart pumping and sweat flowing, and strength training, which helps keep aging muscles from dwindling over time.

And most of the time, they don’t require any fancy equipment or expensive classes.

Read on to find out how to incorporate both forms of fitness into your life.

Aerobic exercises like jogging may help reverse some heart damage from normal aging.

Many of us become less active as we age. Over time, this can lead some muscles in the heart to stiffen.

One of those at-risk muscles is in the left chamber of the heart, a section that plays a key role in supplying the body with freshly oxygenated blood.

A recent study split 53 adults into two groups, one of which did two years of supervised exercise four to five days a week while the other did yoga and balance exercises.

At the end of the study, published in January in the journal Circulation, the higher-intensity exercisers had seen significant improvements in their heart’s performance, suggesting that some stiffening in the heart can be prevented or even reversed with regular cardio.

“Based on a series of studies performed by our team over the past 5 years, this ‘dose’ of exercise has become my prescription for life,” Benjamin Levine, a professor of internal medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern who wrote the study, said in a statement.

Walking, another form of cardio, could help reduce the risk of heart failure — a key contributor to heart disease.

Intense cardio activities like running or jogging aren’t the only types of movement that may have protective benefits for the heart as we age.

In a study published in September in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers took a look at the physical activity levels of nearly 140,000 women aged 50 to 79 and found surprisingly salient links between walking and a reduced risk of heart failure, a condition when the heart stops pumping blood as it should. Heart failure is a key contributor to heart disease, the US’ leading cause of death.

For their work, the researchers looked at data from a 14-year women’s health study that documented heart failure and exercise levels.

When the researchers dove deeper, they found that the women who walked regularly were 25% less likely to experience heart failure than their peers who didn’t exercise. In fact, for every extra 30-45 minutes a woman walked, her risk of a failed heart dropped an average of 9%, the scientists concluded.

This is pretty important from a public health standpoint, given the poor prognosis this type of heart failure has once it’s present,” Michael La Monte, the lead author of the study and an associate professor of epidemiology at the University at Buffalo School of Public Health, said in a statement.”

 

Strength-training moves like tai chi are best for preserving muscles from age-related decline.

Strength or resistance training can take many forms, but it typically involves a series of movements geared toward building or preserving muscle.

Tai chi, the Chinese martial art that combines a series of flowing movements, is one form of strength training. The exercise is performed slowly and gently, with a high degree of focus and attention paid to breathing deeply.

Since practitioners go at their own pace, tai chi is accessible for a wide variety of people, regardless of age or fitness level.

Tai chi “is particularly good for older people because balance is an important component of fitness, and balance is something we lose as we get older,” I-Min Lee, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said in a recent health report called “Starting to Exercise.”

There may be a powerful link between regular cardio, like swimming and walking, and a lower risk of dementia.

A study published in March in the journal Neurology suggested that women who were physically fit in middle age were roughly 88% less likely to develop dementia — defined as a decline in memory severe enough to interfere with daily life — than their peers who were only moderately fit.

Starting in 1968, neuroscientists from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden studied 191 women whose average age was 50. First, they assessed their cardiovascular health using a cycling test and grouped them into three categories: fit, moderately fit, or unfit.

Over the next four decades, the researchers regularly screened the women for dementia. In that time, 32% of the unfit women and a quarter of the moderately fit women were diagnosed with the condition, while the rate was only 5% among the fit women.

However, the research showed only a link between fitness and decreased dementia risk — it did not prove that one caused the other. Still, it builds on several other studies that suggest a powerful tie between exercise and brain health.

Activities like cycling may also protect your immune system from some age-related decline.

For a small study published in March in the journal Aging Cell, researchers looked at 125 amateur cyclists aged 55 to 79, comparing them with 75 people of a similar age who rarely or never exercised.

The cyclists were found to have more muscle mass and strength and lower levels of body fat and cholesterol than the sedentary adults.

The athletic adults also appeared to have healthier and younger-looking immune systems, at least when it came to an organ called the thymus that’s responsible for generating key immune cells called T cells.

In healthy people, the thymus begins to shrink and T-cell production starts to drop off at around age 20.

The study found that the thymus glands of the older cyclists looked as if they belonged to younger people — their bodies were producing just as many T cells as would be expected for a young person.

“We now have strong evidence that encouraging people to commit to regular exercise throughout their lives is a viable solution to the problem that we are living longer but not healthier,” Janet Lord, the director of the Institute of Inflammation and Aging at the University of Birmingham in the UK, said in a statement.

Other types of strength training can include moves like planks and squats.

At its most basic, strength training involves using weight to create resistance against the pull of gravity. That weight can be your own body, elastic bands, free weights like barbells or dumbbells, or weighted ankle cuffs.

Research suggests you can use heavy weights for fewer reps or lighter weights for more reps to build stronger, more sturdy muscles.

Chris Jordan, the exercise physiologist who came up with the viral seven-minute workout — officially called the Johnson & Johnson Official 7-Minute Workout — told Business Insider that healthy adults should incorporate resistance training on two or three of the four or five days a week they work out.

Cardio workouts may also improve the look and feel of your skin.

A study from researchers at McMaster University found that people over 40 who regularly did cardio tended to have healthier skin than their sedentary peers. The overall composition of the regular exercisers’ skin was more comparable to that of 20- to 30-year-olds.

It’s not yet clear why our workouts appear to play a role in skin health, but the researchers found elevated levels of a substance critical to cell health called IL-15 in skin samples of participants after exercise — perhaps shedding light on why cardio can improve the look of our skin.

Aerobic workouts may guard against age-related decline because of reduced brain connectivity.

As we age, the brain — like any other organ — begins to work less efficiently, so signs of decline start to surface. Our memory might not be quite as sharp as it once was, for example.

But older people who develop Alzheimer’s disease often first enter a stage known as mild cognitive impairment, which involves more serious problems with memory, language, thinking, and judgment.

A study published in May looked at adults with MCI between the ages of 60 and 88 and had them walk for 30 minutes four days a week for 12 weeks.

The researchers found strengthened connectivity in a region of the brain where weakened connections have been linked with memory loss. That development, they said, “may possibly increase cognitive reserve” — but more studies are needed.

Cardio may also be tied to increases in the size of brain areas linked to memory, but more research is needed.

<

A study of older women with MCI found a tie between aerobic exercise and an increase in the size of the hippocampus, a brain area involved in learning and memory.

For the study, 86 women between 70 and 80 years old with MCI were randomly assigned to do one of three types of training twice a week for six months: aerobic (like walking and swimming), resistance (like weight lifting), or balance.

Only the women in the aerobic group were found to have significant increases in hippocampal volume, but more studies are needed to determine what effect this has on cognitive performance.”

 

Final Comments

 

Most people know what is needed to promote the probability of living a long life. However, it takes a real commitment and motivation to make it happen. But even people who have the best of intentions fall off the health wagon from time to time. That’s normal human behavior. Most people blame themselves for failure to be perfect in diet and exercise. However, don’t beat yourself up too much over occasionally being less than perfect. I say this because you and everyone else trying to improve their health have an enemy out there. As I mentioned at the beginning of my Blog there are many obstacles to your success beyond your own occasional lapses in motivation.

One significant obstacle relates to the business and advertising industry. It appears that the constant onslaught of advertisers and commercial entities, whose motives are to sell products and make money, try to promote to consumers that their products are good for them no matter how fattening or injurious to our health they might actually be.

Commercials on TV have a choke hold over all of us. As a defense mechanism, I make regular use of my TV remote to pass over commercials. Try taping your programs in advance so you can later run through the commercials without listening to them. Granted, some commercials can be very entertaining but most don’t deserve any attention at all since most advertisers are just “bullshit” artists. Like a thief they just want to remove that wad of cash from your wallet or bank account. Your health and well-being at best would be lucky to be a tertiary concern to the advertising industry. In reality, it’s not even an afterthought!

Culture and society often works at cross purposes. That is the reality for now. This only makes it even harder for you to succeed in living a long life. I say best of luck to you in overcoming obstacles in your efforts to live a healthy life and, indeed, a long life.

Read Full Post »

The Psychology of the Narcissistic Personality and the

Trump Core Supporter:

Their Relationship to the True Believer and Identity Fusion

Introduction

     This Blog article builds on my last one, The Fall of Donald Trump that was posted October 1, 2019. The basic question I posed in the last blog was: What is it about the Trump supporter that makes him or her so in line with such an authoritarian leader that causes them to unwaveringly support him? This is what I said in my last Blog:

“I asked myself why is it the president is supported by such a sizable number of supporters. This represents about 30% of the voting population, 94% of which are conservative Republicans. Why did so many people during the last four years unwaveringly give their support to Donald Trump, a man with an insatiable appetite for lying and deceit? Where is the moral compass for this faction of American society? For now, it looks like it is nowhere to be found.

Up to this point I’ve ascribed Trump’s support to non-college educated people, who were mostly blue collar workers, male, white Anglo-Saxon Protestants. However women who originally voted for Trump have since rebuffed him in droves and are the most disillusioned among initial Trump supporters. They found him to be a misogynist and a bully and want no part of him.

It turns out age, race, education, gender and occupation can only supply some of the explanation. There is something else going with the Trump supporters than simple sociological demographics. Demographics are useful for pinpointing where support comes from—but not why. This is where motivational intent and purpose become important variables. How might this be explained?

One really needs to take a deeper psychological look. Beliefs and values do seem to differentiate groups, but it may be that psychology is more important than demographics.

It is my opinion that support for Donald Trump is coming from a mass movement. This suggests one ought to look to the psychology of mass movements for our explanation. Why did Adolf Hitler command such a large following? There are parallels here to all mass movements. I can see a connection between the Trump Presidency and his supporters and the observations made by Eric Hoffer in his seminal 1951 book, “The True Believer.” Back in the early 1950s this was President Dwight Eisenhower’s favorite author and book. In fact, Ike shared Hoffer’s book with many in his cabinet.

The appeal of persons with an authoritarian personality to followers will soon become much clearer as you read on. Why does such an identity issue lead us to yet another psychological theory? There is another theory gaining credence these days in the field of psychology. It is known as Identity Fusion. Identity fusion is a psychological construct rooted in social psychology and cognitive anthropology. It is a form of alignment with groups in which members experience a visceral sense of oneness with the group.”

Both explanations may provide answers to why there is a Trump supporter in the first place.”! However, one must look to first explaining what the Trump supporter is identifying with in order to understand The True Believer and Identity Fusion. Low and behold, I will now share with you an important article on the psychology of early childhood and the development of the narcissistic personality. Gee Whiz, guess who I am referring to?

On January 29, 2017 and article was posted titled “Childhood Roots of Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Nipping a toxic mental illness in the bud.” The authors were:

Brian D. Johnson, Ph.D., is a psychologist and training clinic director at the University of Northern Colorado. Laurie Berdahl, M.D., is an obstetrician-gynecologist and speaker on parenting and adolescent wellness.

“It’s estimated that up to 6 percent of the U.S. population has narcissistic personality disorder (narcissism for short), which is more common in men and has its roots in childhood. Extremely resistant to treatment, this severe mental condition leads affected individuals to create chaos as they harm other people. Before discussing how demands for support of ego and desires can go off the rails, let’s start with an overview of pertinent normal child development.

Small children are naturally selfish as a normal part of development in which they work to get their needs met and can’t understand other people’s needs and desires. Then as teenagers, kids are still typically self-centered as they struggle for independence.

As opposed to self-centeredness that should gradually decline, children need to develop healthy, lasting levels of self-esteem to be able to protect and care for themselves while caring about others, to resist dangerous influences, and to stay connected to family and society. Healthy levels of self-esteem indicate a child’s belief that he or she is loved and worthy as a person in the family and in society, and thus doesn’t deserve and is more resilient to mistreatment. In a nutshell, self-esteem isn’t self-centeredness because it doesn’t lead to putting oneself first to the detriment of other people’s needs and rights.

Typical childhood self-centeredness must change to pave the way to mental health in adulthood. To grow up able to function well in families and society, kids must gradually gain both the ability to see other people’s viewpoints and empathy for other people’s suffering. So, healthy kids should gradually show sincere signs of caring about the well-being of others. Not developing empathy while growing up is a warning sign of developing a serious personality disorder as an adult, including the narcissistic type.

How do people with narcissistic personality disorder (narcissists for short) act? Besides showing lack of empathy (as judged not by words but by actions), narcissists filter information and react on the basis of the effect on their egos. Their actions reflect grandiose beliefs of superiority and uniqueness as well as their need for admiration and worship.

Narcissists are arrogant and preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited self-importance, success, and power (including that they alone can do something) and exaggerate their accomplishments and popularity. They exploit or take advantage of people for personal gain including feeding their egos and thus require excessive admiration. They pit people against each other to get what they want—they divide people to conquer and gain power over them. They manipulate others by influencing emotions like fear and anger, and with threats and lies. Another manipulation technique used is redefining reality by repeatedly fabricating fiction and arguing about it as if it were fact (such as presenting alternative facts), which leads listeners to question their own understanding of reality. Victims often experience a “twilight zone” sensation that is accompanied by anxiety.

Narcissists make others miserable and get aggressive with people who won’t give them the agreement, admiration, and respect they feel entitled to, expecting automatic compliance. These traits are often found in dictators. Like most personality disorders, narcissism is very difficult to treat because people affected aren’t able to understand that anything is wrong with them and thus are not motivated to change.

A narcissist is toxic to situations and people, except perhaps to an inner circle of supporters—at least for as long as they continue to support the narcissist’s agenda.

Now let’s go back to youth. Preteens aren’t developed enough to manipulate and given that teenagers are typically self-centered, clinicians are reluctant to diagnose narcissistic personality disorder before age 18. Still, you might notice one or more of these warning signs in teenagers indicating risk of developing narcissism:

Persistent bullying behaviors such as making fun of, threatening, degrading, or scapegoating people (including parents and other adults)

Persistent need to win no matter who is hurt

Persistent lying to benefit oneself (will lie about lying, turn lies into someone else’s fault, deflect accountability by attacking messengers who point out lies)

Egotistical view of extraordinary self-worth

Preoccupation with getting own needs met over other people

Entitled attitudes which lead to acting as if they deserve special treatment and to get whatever they want, no matter the circumstances

Aggressive responses to being criticized, wronged, or upset

Repetitively blaming others for bad outcomes

And being much more competitive than cooperative.

If your child or one you know behaves this way, you can save your family and society from harm by focusing on doing the following:

Teach empathy

Value character traits like honesty and kindness over being tough or dominant

Change entitled attitudes and stop entitled actions

Squelch greed (say, “You’re acting selfishly and that’s not okay”)

Insist they put other people first routinely, remembering that actions speak louder than words (narcissists often say they are doing something to benefit others when they are really doing it for themselves)

Build healthy self-esteem (low self-esteem can also lead to entitlement and using others to support one’s ego)

Don’t allow false blame of other people for one’s own problems and failures.

Also avoid parenting styles linked to developing narcissist personality, such as neglecting, indulgent (spoiling with privilege and possessions, and promoting entitled attitudes) and cold, over controlling authoritarian methods which insist on perfection, winning, and toughness from a child.

On the flip side, you can also help teens and young adults learn to recognize narcissists so they can avoid their toxic harm or survive it. A necessary foundation for this is the ability to think critically about what someone says or does, which starts to develop during adolescence.

Critical thinking skills help us tell lies from truths and determine when someone is manipulating to take advantage of or scam us. Parents and mentors can help teach these empowering life-skills that protect against deception by con artists and abusive bosses, friends, and partners.

You can give your child life-long protective gifts of healthy levels of self-esteem and critical thinking skills while squelching entitlement and narcissistic traits to benefit you, your child and family, and all of us. And don’t forget that there is no shame in seeking help to get it done—seeking knowledge and help is a sign of strength, not weakness.”

Trump’s childhood was terrible. He suffered from the neglect of his lawyer mother and a domineering father who was also a racist (Fred Trump was arrested in 1927 for attending a KKK riot in New York.) Later in the 1970s Donald was charged with racial discrimination (surprise surprise) against blacks in Trump housing properties. As an adolescent Donald Trump was shuttled off to military school.

Now we get to the psychology of the Trump supporter. Here is an excellent review of Eric Hoffer’s, The True Believer.

The True Believer

 

“Summary of Eric Hoffer’s, The True Believer

Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all the unifying agents … Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a god, but never without a belief in a devil.” ~ Eric Hoffer, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements

(This article was reprinted in the online magazine of the Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technologies, October 19, 2017.)

Eric Hoffer (1898 – 1983) was an American moral and social philosopher who worked for more than twenty years as longshoremen in San Francisco. The author of ten books, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1983. His first book, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements (1951), is a work in social psychology which discusses the psychological causes of fanaticism. It is widely considered a classic.

Overview

The first lines of Hoffer’s book clearly state its purpose:

This book deals with some peculiarities common to all mass movements, be they religious movements, social revolutions or nationalist movements. It does not maintain that all movements are identical, but that they share certain essential characteristics which give them a family likeness.

All mass movements generate in their adherents a readiness to die and a proclivity for united action; all of them, irrespective of the doctrine they preach and the program they project, breed fanaticism, enthusiasm, fervent hope, hatred and intolerance; all of them are capable of releasing a powerful flow of activity in certain departments of life; all of them demand blind faith and single-hearted allegiance …

The assumption that mass movements have many traits in common does not imply that all movements are equally beneficent or poisonous. The book passes no judgments, and expresses no preferences. It merely tries to explain… (pp. xi-xiii)

Part 1 – The Appeal of Mass Movements

Hoffer says that mass movements begin when discontented, frustrated, powerless people lose faith in existing institutions and demand change. Feeling hopeless, such people participate in movements that allow them to become part of a larger collective. They become true believers in a mass movement that “appeals not to those intent on bolstering and advancing a cherished self, but to those who crave to be rid of an unwanted self because it can satisfy the passion for self-renunciation.” (p. 12)

Put another way, Hoffer says: “Faith in a holy cause is to a considerable extent a substitute for the loss of faith in ourselves.” (p. 14) Leaders inspire these movements, but the seeds of mass movements must already exist for the leaders to be successful. And while mass movements typically blend nationalist, political and religious ideas, they all compete for angry and/or marginalized people.

Part 2 – The Potential Converts

The destitute are not usually converts to mass movements; they are too busy trying to survive to become engaged. But what Hoffer calls the “new poor,” those who previously had wealth or status but who believe they have now lost it, are potential converts. Such people are resentful and blame others for their problems.

Mass movements also attract the partially assimilated—those who feel alienated from mainstream culture. Others include misfits, outcasts, adolescents, and sinners, as well as the ambitious, selfish, impotent and bored. What all converts all share is the feeling that their lives are meaningless and worthless.

A rising mass movement attracts and holds a following not by its doctrine and promises but by the refuge it offers from the anxieties, barrenness, and meaninglessness of an individual existence. It cures the poignantly frustrated not by conferring on them an absolute truth or remedying the difficulties and abuses which made their lives miserable, but by freeing them from their ineffectual selves—and it does this by enfolding and absorbing them into a closely knit and exultant corporate whole. (p. 41)

Hoffer emphasizes that creative people—those who experience creative flow—aren’t usually attracted to mass movements. Creativity provides inner joy which both acts as an antidote to the frustrations with external hardships. Creativity also relieves boredom, a major cause of mass movements:

There is perhaps no more reliable indicator of a society’s ripeness for a mass movement than the prevalence of unrelieved boredom. In almost all the descriptions of the periods preceding the rise of mass movements there is reference to vast ennui; and in their earliest stages mass movements are more likely to find sympathizers and support among the bored than among the exploited and oppressed. To a deliberate fomenter of mass upheavals, the report that people are bored still should be at least as encouraging as that they are suffering from intolerable economic or political abuses. (pp. 51-52)

Part 3 – United Action and Self-Sacrifice

Mass movements demand of their followers a “total surrender of a distinct self.” (p. 117) thus a follower identifies as “a member of a certain tribe or family.” (p. 62) Furthermore, mass movements denigrate and “loathe the present.” (p. 74) by regarding the modern world as worthless, the movement inspires a battle against it.

What surprises one, when listening to the frustrated as they decry the present and its entire works, is the enormous joy they derive from doing so. Such delight cannot come from the mere venting of a grievance. There must be something more—and there is. By expiating upon the incurable baseness and vileness of the times, the frustrated soften their feeling of failure and isolation … (p. 75)

Mass movements also promote faith over reason and serve as “fact-proof screens between the faithful and the realities of the world.” (p. 79)

The effectiveness of a doctrine does not come from its meaning but from its certitude … presented as the embodiment of the one and only truth. If a doctrine is not unintelligible, it has to be vague; and if neither unintelligible nor vague, it has to be unverifiable. One has to get to heaven or the distant future to determine the truth of an effective doctrine … simple words are made pregnant with meaning and made to look like symbols in a secret message. There is thus an illiterate air about the most literate true believer. (pp. 80-81).

So believers ignore truths that contradict their fervent beliefs, but this hides the fact that,

The fanatic is perpetually incomplete and insecure. He cannot generate self-assurance out of his individual sources … but finds it only by clinging passionately to whatever support he happens to embrace. The passionate attachment is the essence of his blind devotion and religiosity, and he sees in it the sources of all virtue and strength … He sacrifices his life to prove his worth … The fanatic cannot be weaned away from his cause by an appeal to reason or his moral sense. He fears compromise and cannot be persuaded to qualify the certitude and righteousness of his holy cause. (p. 85).

Thus the doctrines of the mass movement must not be questioned—they are regarded with certitude—and they are spread through “persuasion, coercion, and proselytization.” Persuasion works best on those already sympathetic to the doctrines, but it must be vague enough to allow “the frustrated to … hear the echo of their own musings in … impassioned double talk.” (p. 106) Hoffer quotes Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels: “a sharp sword must always stand behind propaganda if it is to be really effective.” (p. 106) the urge to proselytize comes not from a deeply held belief in the truth of doctrine but from an urge of the fanatic to “strengthen his own faith by converting others.” (p. 110)

Moreover, mass movements need an object of hate which unifies believers, and “the ideal devil is a foreigner.” (p. 93) Mass movements need a devil. But in reality, the “hatred of a true believer is actually a disguised self-loathing …” and “the fanatic is perpetually incomplete and insecure.” (p. 85) through their fanatical action and personal sacrifice, the fanatic tries to give their life meaning.

Part 4 – Beginning and End

Hoffer states that three personality types typically lead mass movements: “men of words”, “fanatics”, and “practical men of action.” Men of words try to “discredit the prevailing creeds” and create a “hunger for faith” which is then fed by “doctrines and slogans of the new faith.” (p. 140) (In the USA think of the late William F. Buckley.) Slowly followers emerge.

Then fanatics take over. (In the USA think of the Koch brothers, Murdoch, Limbaugh, O’Reilly, Hannity, Alex Jones, etc.) Fanatics don’t find solace in literature, philosophy or art. Instead, they are characterized by viciousness, the urge to destroy, and the perpetual struggle for power. But after mass movements transform the social order, the insecurity of their followers is not ameliorated. At this point, the “practical men of action” take over and try to lead the new order by further controlling their followers. (Think Steve Bannon, Mitch McConnell, Steve Miller, etc.)

In the end mass movements that succeed often bring about a social order worse than the previous one. (This was one of Will Durant’s findings in The Lessons of History.) As Hoffer puts it near the end of his work: “All mass movements … irrespective of the doctrine they preach and the program they project, breed fanaticism, enthusiasm, fervent hope, hatred, and intolerance.” (p. 141)

__________________________________________________________________________

Quotes from Hoffer, Eric (2002). The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements. Harper Perennial Modern Classics. ISBN 978-0-060-50591-2.

 

Identity Fusion

Identity fusion is a unique form of alignment with groups to which members experience a visceral sense of oneness with the group. This construct relies on the distinction between the personal self and the social self. The personal self refers to the characteristics that make someone a unique individual (e.g., tall, old, intelligent), while the social self pertains to the characteristics that align the individual with groups (e.g., American, fraternity brother, student council member, etc.). As the name suggests, identity fusion involves the union of the personal and social selves.

When fusion occurs, both the personal and social selves remain salient and influential but the boundaries between them become highly permeable. Although the personal and social selves are joined together they remain independently salient and agentic. In addition, fused persons come to regard other group members as “family” and develop strong relational ties to them as well as ties to the collective. Therefore, fused persons are not just bound to the collective; they develop a bond that ties them to the individual members of the collective.

The potency of the personal self and relational ties distinguishes identity fusion from other forms of alignment with groups, such as “group identification”. In group identification, allegiance to the collective eclipses the personal self and relational ties to other group members. Given the lack of involvement of the personal self and relational ties in identification, it follows that measures of identity fusion should be more predictive of extreme pro-group behavior than measures of identification. In fact, there is growing evidence of this idea. Measures of identity fusion are particularly powerful predictors of personally costly pro-group behaviors, including the endorsement of extreme behaviors such as fighting and dying for the group.

Theoretical Foundations

The identity fusion construct builds upon earlier work by emphasizing aspects of the relationship of people to groups that were deemphasized within the social identity perspective (i.e., social identity theory and self-categorization theory. Like social identity theory, identity fusion theory rests on the distinction between the personal and social identities. However, the social identity approach assumes that there is a hydraulic relationship between personal and social identities, such that increases in the salience and influence of one diminish the salience and influence of the other. One important implication of this assumption is that as the group identity becomes salient and apt to guide behavior, the personal identity becomes less salient and less likely to guide behavior. In contrast, within identity fusion theory, both the personal and social identities can be salient and influential simultaneously.

Social identity theory also suggests that group members are only linked to one another through their allegiance to the collective; theoretically, personal relationships between group members do not foster identification with the group. In contrast, fused individuals feel deeply connected to other group members as individuals, as well as to the larger group as a whole. This is reflected in measures of identify fusion. For example, the verbal measure of identity fusion taps feelings of reciprocal strength between the individual and the group (e.g., “I am strong because of my group”; “I’ll do more for my group than any other group members would do”) as well as feelings of oneness with the group (e.g., “I am one with my group”; “My group is me”). Also a threat to the group is highly likely to produce a perceived threat against the personal self.

The unique characteristics of Identity Fusion Theory have been summarized in the form of four principles: Agentic-personal self-principle, Identity synergy principle, Relational ties principle, and Irrevocability principle. If you’re interested in these principles I recommend you do a little research. Limitations of space dictate I move on in this Blog.

This month, in the journal Nature: Human Behavior, Kunst and Dovidio examined fusion specifically involving Donald Trump. In a series of seven studies using various surveys, including Swann and Gomez’s “identity fusion scale,” the Yale and Oslo team found that Americans who fused with Trump—as opposed to simply agreeing with or supporting him—were more willing to engage in various extreme behaviors, such as personally fighting to protect the U.S. border from an “immigrant caravan,” persecuting Muslims, or violently challenging election results.

The fusion might explain some apparent contradictions in ideology, Dovidio says. Even people who typically identify as advocates of small or no government might endorse acts of extreme authoritarianism if they have fused with Trump. In fusion, those inconsistencies simply don’t exist, according to Dovidio: Value systems are only contradictory if they’re both activated, and “once you step into the fusion mind-set, there is no contradiction.”

Fusion seems most likely to happen when there is a charismatic leader, particularly of an authoritarian bent. “Humans are social, and the individual person has a power over us that abstract thought doesn’t,” Dovidio says. “The leader is a concrete manifestation of ideas, but allegiance to individuals will trump allegiance to ideas.” In that sense, the idea of fusion might help some people explain how family members or colleagues whom they view as fundamentally good people might seem to suspend their typical sense of morality and do things like downplay Trump’s bragging about groping women; enriching himself at taxpayer expense; defending white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia; or failing to release his tax returns despite multiple promises to do so.

Read: The deepening crisis in evangelical Christianity

The idea of identity fusion is not, the researchers assure me, some effort to use science to overlook or excuse bigotry or racial hatred, which are distinct elements in the formation of identity. Though fusion tends to happen with authoritarian leaders, the fusion is not itself antisocial or bad. It can be seen in political movements of all sorts; Kunst cites followers of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Fusion might have arisen as a psychological adaptation to facilitate cooperation among kin in the face of extreme adversity, explains Harvey Whitehouse, chair of social anthropology at Oxford. Even so, Whitehouse warns, “social institutions could hijack the fusion mechanism in novel ways.”

A sense of deprivation—real or perceived threats to socioeconomic status—also seems to leave people inclined to fuse. “When we primed people to think of relative deprivation, this increased their likelihood of fusion with the leader,” Kunst says, noting that economic recessions have often preceded authoritarian movements. The findings from Kunst and Dovidio’s study suggest that Trump’s continued emphasis on the relative deprivation of his base—and his promise of the power and resources presumably under his control as an apparently wealthy Manhattan real-estate developer and reality-TV star—probably helped his election by increasing his followers’ fusion with him.

Even if this personal enrichment didn’t come to fruition for his voters, the researchers found that fusion with Trump only increased after his election. The presidency itself made him more powerful, and hence a more attractive target to fuse with.

Fundamentally, fusion is an opportunity to realign the sense of self. It creates new systems by which people can value themselves. A life that consists of living up to negative ideas about yourself does not end well. Nor does a life marked by failing to live up to a positive self-vision. But adopting the values of someone who is doing well is an escape. If Donald Trump is doing well, you are doing well. Alleged collusion with a foreign power might be bad for democracy, but good for an individual leader, and therefore good for you. “Fusion satisfies a lot of need for people,” Dovidio says. “When you fuse with a powerful leader, you feel more in control. If that person is valued, you feel valued.”

The process of de-fusing, then, might involve offering alternative systems of creating consistency and order. If people who are inclined to fusion have the option to fuse with entities that do not wish to exploit them, and that are generally good or neutral for the world, they might be less likely to fuse with, say, a demagogue. “But, of course,” Dovidio says, “that’s hard.”

.

General Comments

In my opinion Identity Fusion is a structural construct, or larger framework for understanding mass movements. Eric Hoffer’s book by comparison defines the motivations underlying how individuals become swept up in a mass movement, and his explanation fits into the notion of letting your personal self becomes a social self-unrestrained by normal conventions of decency and personal responsibility.

Donald Trump is expeditiously on his way out of the White House. The country is in shambles as a result of his presidency. I think after reviewing the research literature on the Narcissistic Personality, The True Believer and Identity Fusion, there is now a real plausible set of explanations that define the Trump core supporter. Not all Trump core supporters may be true believers or be pathologically tied to Trump through Identity Fusion. However, as a social scientist interested in empirical data, I’d have say that the convergence of existing data strongly suggests that too many Trump core supporters have fallen into the abyss and have become a real member of a mass movement. A large chunk of Trump core supporters may be near-do-well fanatics and true believers.

The evidence provided by these theories is psychologically provocative. And, they are very telling. As Eric Hoffer pointed out in his book,” What all converts all share is the feeling that their lives are meaningless and worthless. This is certainly a sad commentary on American life that so many Trump supporters manifest feelings of incompleteness, self-doubt, alienation and estrangement from the larger culture.

Post Script

When this nightmare with Trump is over, all of us as a nation have to put the democratic policies and protections back into place. Politics is not the all-end-all of a society. Politics can be defined as the art of compromise or, setting policies to help the common man by judiciously handling the nation’s scarce resources. But more importantly, as a nation, we should endeavor to always strengthen our nation in terms of its democratic principles as reflected in our U.S. Constitution. Whether left, right or center that is our most important responsibility.

My politics are always upfront; I am an ultra-liberal and I value human rights, civil rights, women’s rights, gay and lesbian rights, and complete acceptance of all people on earth as having more similarities than differences. We basically all have the same human needs, whether you live in the United States or elsewhere around the world.

But I do have my conservative moments. I am a U.S. Navy combat veteran of the Vietnam War. I support a strong military and national defense, veterans and wounded warriors and I am a bit of a hawk. For the moment what I think we ought to do about the Russians and North Korea I’ll keep to myself.

One of my closest friends is an ardent Trump supporter. Although we are very different politically, we don’t let our politics get in the way of our 36 year friendship. Friendships are very important in life; politics by comparison can shift with the wind at any moment. Ellen DeGeneres said the other day she had a genuine friendship with former president George W. Bush. She was accused of being a hypocrite. And she was praised by many for her honesty and even an inspiration to some who saw what it takes (courage) to go beyond the simplicity of political thought where the mantra is always “us or them.” Ellen certainly knows how to think outside the box.

Unfortunately, there are too many people, left and right politically, who are not capable of doing what Ellen has done. I think it is important to be upfront as to whom you are as a person. Said another way, just be honest and not show disingenuousness about your political self as well as your true self.

As Fusion theory demonstrated, it can be very difficult to stand outside your social self (whether fused or not) in deference to your individual self. I know. I think there is nothing wrong with being a conservative Republican; after all, nobody’s perfect. Sorry—couldn’t resist my social self!!

In a few weeks or months the pantywaist mafia style degenerate in the white house will be gone. Then maybe this democracy can return to normal. Then perhaps real leaders can tackle the problem of the Turks and our abandonment of the Kurds. This country needs real leadership, not Republican cowardice, dishonor and disgrace!!!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »