Friday, January 15, 2016

My take on Trump. In black and white (and read all over).*

In Writerdom it's generally considered bad form (downmarket, gauche) to tout one's letter to the editor. Not much of a coup, as things go; no money changes hands. That is far less true, however, when the letter appears in Harper's, where the cut is brutal and the opinion-leading reach extreme. Thus I commend you to my letter in the February issue, which Harper's editors have smartly titled "Why Trump Towers." (Scroll down to find it.) If you're a Harper's print subscriber, it's on magazine page 98. 

I wrote the item in response to Lewis Lapham's stylish/snarky November piece on Trump-mania. For many years the magazine's iconic editor, Lapham bought and published my very first magazine submission back in 1982, a memoir of my decade as a shop-at-home mirror salesman in Harlem. That's the cover at left. So one might say Lapham got me started in this business. Someday I may even forgive him. 
* which of course is the first joke every child's father tells him.


Cosmic Connie said...

Fine writing as usual, Steve, though many of the Trump supporters I've seen simply don't deserve this degree of eloquence. That cancer quack who unsuccessfully sued me last year for defamation, for instance, is an avid Trump supporter -- and conspiracy nut -- who insists that Trump is America's only hope to break the chain of the New World Order, and to save us from the "camel, goat and donkey f--kers" (his description of Muslim immigrants) who, according to him, are trying to take over our country and rape all of our women (and presumably our livestock as well).

Granted, he represents the worst of the worst, but there are plenty like him who may not be quite so crude but who are similarly ignorant. For the most part they seem to be single-issue voters, and above all are casting their vote for The Donald simply because Trump "isn't afraid to speak his mind."

Most of these people are fierce warriors against what they see as "political correctness," and they act as if they are cutting-edge thinkers, committing some sort of revolutionary act by griping about PC, when in fact PC (and complaints about same) have been a thing since the early 1990s. And while I realize that you, Steve, have actually been a victim of PC in academia (a world with which I admittedly am unfamiliar), the Trump supporters whose shenanigans I've been following seem unable or unwilling to distinguish between a truly oppressive "political correctness" and basic civility and consideration of other people's feelings.

They claim to be repressed or oppressed, and whine that they're often afraid to speak their minds and are so grateful that Trump speaks for them. But I haven't seen much evidence that they're afraid to speak their minds, judging by the fact that they spew their vile hatred all over the Internet. Maybe they do it anonymously or under assumed names, but they do it, and nobody is stopping them. One of them just called me a "libtard c-nt" yesterday.

In any case, as much as I loathe Trump and as contemptuous as I am of many though not all of his supporters, I agree that it would be a mistake to "misunderestimate" him at this time. And BTW, here's another perspective that helps 'splain his appeal:

Steve Salerno said...

Connie, I'm sure there are plenty of low-lifes who support The Donald. There are plenty of low-lifes who support every candidate. Hillary is herself a low-life. I don't mean to fall into the trap of too-easy categorization--and I know there are many good Americans who show their patriotism by pointing out the distance still needed to travel to achieve its goals--but I do feel that in general, IN GENERAL, there is a larger currency of sincere patriotism on the Right than on the Left. I'm far from sold on Trump, but if I have to choose between the hard right's "America love it or leave it" and the hard left, where people seem to see the country chiefly as an aggregation of mortal sins, I choose to lean right. So, I think, do Trump-manics. That doesn't make me (or them) a bigot or a misogynist or a misanthrope, but it makes me disinclined to side with people who think there's more wrong with the country than right with it. I do believe fervently that the president of the U.S. is the president of the U.S., period, and when push comes to shove, everyone else's interests are secondary. That includes everyone else's lives. If the choice is (a) getting a dozen U.S. soldiers killed or (b) killing 10,000 civilians overseas, the president must protect the lives of our soldiers.

RevRon's Rants said...

Sincere patriotism on the right, Steve? Seriously? Killing 10000 civilians overseas - and spending many American lives dong so - is anything but "patriotic," especially when the slaughter is committed in defense of some industry's already stratospheric profits. A good leader "supports" troops by not sending them into harm's way except as a last resort, and we are not anywhere near that, despite the efforts of the previous administrations.

I suggest that the choice not be about the "hard" right or left, but about the desires, aspirations, and moral compass of the majority of citizens, which is somewhat to the left of center at present. Absolutes are fun for debates, but for governance, not so much.

I think that if those on the far right of the spectrum would actually consider how our economy has functioned under both Republican (especially the increasingly misnamed "conservative") and Democratic majorities, the move to center-left would be dramatic. What concerns me most is not that we are moving to the far left (we aren't), but that the bombast of the far right has gained some traction with a hateful element so common among low-information voters.

Finally, in the position our country has assumed by the sheer magnitude of its economic and military power, we simply must consider the ramifications of our actions, especially when those actions inflict misery and hardship on other cultures. Wanton killing will not make us safe. You simply cannot bomb hate out of existence. And the harder you try, the more hate you foment and the higher price you pay, in the form of both terrorist attacks and economic crises.

Steve Salerno said...

Thank you, Ron. Good to have you back. I agree with you in some areas of principle, but I'm not sure that principles solve all problems. You'll recall that I lobbied hard for Obama on the blog, but I'm just so sorely disappointed in him. My own inclinations remain ECONOMICALLY left of center, but there's so much SOCIAL garbage that goes along with the left-leaning agenda these days. It is as irritating to me as the religious moralizing and racist/anti-gay rhetoric of some on the hard right. As someone who has been in love with words and ideas for as long as I can recall, it bothers me deeply that we can no longer say what we mean. This is an aspect of Trump that, I confess, I find attractive. And even he censors himself at times, which I wish he wouldn't.

We already spend way too much time worrying about "how we look to the rest of the world" (and to "history"). That may in fact be Obama's most egregious failing. The POTUS should do what's best for America.

I didn't say anything about sending soldiers off to die. I'd rather we focused on winning via technology. With luck we're working on it.

RevRon's Rants said...

"We already spend way too much time worrying about "how we look to the rest of the world" (and to "history")." Were that only true... We have routinely sublimated other cultures for our own profit. Truth is that we made ourselves a target of terrorism when Eisenhower's CIA orchestrated the coup in Iran that placed a west-friendly but internally despised Shah in power. Sadly, our actions have only served to bolster the resentment of the most radical elements in the Muslim world. Most Muslims, surprisingly, remain respectful and supportive of the US.

There is one fundamental truth about war, and that is that nobody truly wins. If we can be secure enough in what we and our country stand for, we can begin putting our efforts into meeting not only our own interests, but those of our fellow humans, we can truly win. So long as there is a victor and a loser, both lose. And "saying what's on our mind" is only a positive thing when our mind is not filled with hatred for anyone who is not "like us." That is where Trump fails so badly; he incites a desire for revenge, rather than progress.

RevRon's Rants said...

One more thing: Had any of the Republican candidates or past presidents been subjected to the level of scrutiny that Hillary Clinton (and Bill) faced, both Clintons would look like saints by comparison. Flawed humans? Of course. But quite effective politicians.

As to Obama, there have been several things he has done that profoundly disappointed me, but my disappointment is tempered by two things: my realization that I, like the rest of the populace, lack the scope of information upon which he made those decisions. When I weigh his many successes - especially in light of the grossly inappropriate and incessant resistance he has met - against the things to which I object, my trust in him remains strong. There is no way I could rationalize a similar level of trust for Trump or anyone else in the GOP's primary clown car.

Cosmic Connie said...

I really don't think that there is more "sincere" patriotism on the right than on the left. Being an activist for social justice (however one might define that) is, I would argue, a more sincere expression of love for America and Americans than are bombastic declarations that America is always right. Of course there are anarchists and anti-statists who would rather tear America down -- presumably to build something better -- but that doesn't describe the vast majority of those of us who aren't afraid to criticize our country.

Yes, the president should do what's best for America. But America is part of the world, and how we look to the rest of the world should be a consideration because other countries' perception of America influences everything from trade to warfare. In addition, sometimes it's enormously difficult to determine what *is* "best" for America, particularly when one is in the middle of the situation and being bombarded with contradictory information. Very often the consequences can't be determined until well after the fact. And there always are -- as Ron pointed out in one of his comments above -- unintended consequences.

I am all for freedom of expression and I don't think Trump or even his most low-life hater supporters should be censored, but, to put it charitably, I don't think they represent the finest American ideals. And as attractive as you might find Trump's lack of verbal inhibition, Steve, it is that very trait, IMO, that helps to make him distinctly un-presidential.

The type of "patriotism" that Trump both fuels and inspires can actually be pretty creepy. Consider the much-lambasted "Trump Freedom Girls" rally. As I watched the performance, other lyrics played in my head:

The sun on the meadow is summery warm.
The stag in the forest runs free.
But gather together to greet the storm.
Tomorrow belongs to me.

(Sorry to go all Godwin's Law/Caberet on this issue, but I'm not the first to do so. I could cite North Korea if it's preferable. :-))

Steve Salerno said...

Connie, your most recent comment surely deserves more than what I'll say here, but I want to offer one quick comment FWIW. In my observation--and this is just my take--those on the Left spend WAY more time talking about what's wrong with America than what's right with it. They are more aspirational than inspirational, continually talking in terms of the distance still needed to travel. Listen to Bernie, whom I like very much, and whom I admire boundlessly for his willingness to own up to the S listening to that man, do you get any sense of American greatness? Of his reverence for this nation? I do not. And that gets old (as old as the man himself looks). More in days to come...

Rodger O'Keefe said...

Abrasive and egomaniacal though he may be, Trump at bottom is businessman, and that is what this country needs above all. We have relied for too long on people who have no sense of how to make the trains run. I'm not a great fan of Trump personally but we see what happens when we entrust the running of the country to "community organizers."

"The business of America is business." AMEN

RevRon's Rants said...

Ahh, Roger. First of all, if America were "run like a business," it would be at best an oligarchy (oh, wait... it already IS an oligarchy)and, at worst, a dictatorship. Beyond that, a basic understanding of the difference between business economics and the macroeconomics of a society makes it pretty clear that the economy of a country simply cannot be run according to the myopic principles that make a business successful. Throughout history, countries that structured government as a profit center have universally failed.

As to Trump's oddly-touted "business acumen," it should be noted that had he taken his inheritance and merely invested it in munis, CDs, and a reasonably risk-averse stock portfolio, he would now be far wealthier than his business ventures have made him. Furthermore, the many other businesses who were forced to absorb losses in response to his frequent bankruptcies would have been much better off, as well. If he were allowed to lead the country the way he has run his business, we would be yet another footnote on the list of promising social experiments that ultimately failed.

I see what has happened under the leadership of a "community organizer" (and senator, and Constitutional law professor), and while I've had a problem with some of his initiatives and decisions, I'm sufficiently objective to look at the hard numbers of where the country was when he took office and where we are now, and to give him very good marks overall. Of course, there are some - including an entire political party - who were committed to making him fail, and are beyond frustrated at the fact that their efforts to do so were ineffectual, and for the most part, egregious.

The business of any government - especially one founded to be "of, for, and by the people," is to protect and improve the lives of its citizens, not to profit off them.

RevRon's Rants said...

One more thing: I find it ironic that you stated, "Trump at bottom is businessman, and that is what this country needs above all." Eisenhower invested heavily in the infrastructure that played a significant role in building the strongest economy in the world. The current crop of Republicans, on the other hand, have fought hard against even maintaining that infrastructure. So much for their "keeping the trains running, and certainly NOT "above all."

Cosmic Connie said...

We can take a look at what's happening in Michigan and see that running a government like a business isn't really such a great idea.

'Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder was elected in 2010 on a platform of fiscal austerity. Snyder, the former head of Gateway computers and a darling of the American Legislative Exchange Council and the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity, promised to run the state like a company, complete with "outcomes" and "deliverables." In 2011, he introduced a signature piece of legislation, Public Act 4, which expanded the state's authority to take over financially troubled cities and school districts. Similar laws exist in about 20 states, but Michigan's is the most expansive: Emergency managers picked by the governor have the power to renegotiate or cancel city contracts, unilaterally draft policy, privatize public services, sell off city property, and even fire elected officials.'

I can just see Trump trying to force similar programs on the entire nation.

Cosmic Connie said...

And Steve, I see what you are saying about inspirational v aspirational, but you should know from your own years-long scrutiny of the selfish-help industry that inspiration alone doesn't make people's lives better and in fact can lead to bad choices and delusional behavior. :-)

Rodger O'Keefe said...

I don't know what the hell happened to the Blogger profile I used to have but it won't let me back in and I'm done wasting time trying to fix it. It even wants to force me into using a profile that misspells my name. Did you have something to do with that, Ron?

I wonder if Blogger thinks I'm someone else with a similar name and has assigned me his profile and that's who I'm posting as. Pretty funny.

What I find less funny is all this whining on behalf of a president who has laid waste to the American Dream in trying to implement his twisted vision of it. And now we have Bernie Sanders who's even worse in that regard. Did no one tell these people that Communism failed? They must all be reading from one of those revisionist history books that reexamines America from a hard left perspective where everything we once considered good is now bad.

Also my friend Ron, enough with the Constitutional scholar label or whatever you said about the community organizer. The history of SCOTUS in recent decades shows that the Constitution can be read every which way, even by men and women who are allegedly the most exalted Constitutional scholars we have. And God help us if HRC ever followed through on her musing about appointing you know who a Supreme Court judge. Then black would be white, literally. I know that line is going to open me to allegations of racism so let me just expand on it by saying that in my view Obama has run the most racist administration in memory. Look at what he "empowered" Holder to do. Cops are the bad guys, the thugs are sympathetic characters. As just one example how dare he send Holder to meet with Mike Brown's family and console them when the details of Brown's criminal behavior that day hadn't even come out! Or what about Obama using large portions of speeches about fighting terrorism to remind us to be nice to the potential Islamist next door. He and his cronies are trying to turn American life as we know it or knew completely upside down.

Steve Salerno said...

I know my friend Rodger (Roger? Raja?) is going to assume I'm taking his side in saying this--I'm not, entirely--but to return for a moment to my earlier comment to Connnie, does it not get wearying to hear Hillary and Bernie and the rest of their camp, night after night, find fault with just about everything? And this is in a setting where their party has held the high ground of the White House for the past seven years! Diagram a typical Bernie/Hillary speech: We're racist, we're misogynist, we've barely moved the dial since the era of the robber barons. To hear the Left tell it, every girl is raped in college every day (and then attacked by Christian zealots on the way to her Planned Parenthood abortion), every woman works for tip money at the same job where all the men take home six figures, every black is incarcerated unjustly (and continues to bear the stigmata of painful wounds inflicted on his forebears 300 years ago)...Wall Street's basic business model is fraud (Bernie says this explicitly)...

This is their vision of America. Don't you ever just want to scream ENOUGH?

RevRon's Rants said...

Roger, I would never do anything to impede your ability to express yourself. I don't accept silencing others' opinions any more than I accept others silencing my own.

To begin with, I suggest you do a bit of research, and learn the definition and historic implementation of "communism." Then come back and explain to us how President Obama, Secretary Clinton, or Senator Sanders are advocating communism. And please enlighten us unlearned folks as to which societies in all of history were able to flourish without any programs that fall under the "socialist" heading. Heck; I'll make it easy for you - name ONE. We'll wait...

I wouldn't classify you as a racist, as racism is far too narrow and tightly focused a term to be applicable. I suspect that your prejudice covers a much broader range than mere race.

Your resentment of the president's appeal for diplomacy and civility is telling, Roger, but it overlooks the fact that expressing hatred for an entire group in response to the actions of a small minority element is not only based in ignorance, it is a sure-fire way to perpetuate that ignorance, as well as violent conflict. The inconvenient fact is that Christian-based hatred and ignorance has racked up a significantly higher body count than has Islamic-based hatred and ignorance. And nobody has ever been able to kill enough people to end hatred.

Finally, I can understand why you would bemoan the movement toward "turning American life upside down." Likely for the same reason I applaud such a shakeup - it is a sign that the American people finally recognize and reject the country's descent into oligarchy. Those who benefit most from extreme inequality (or who desperately wish to be perceived as belonging to that group) are always the first to whine (and the loudest) when their position of privilege (real or hoped-for) is challenged.

RevRon's Rants said...

Steve, I think it's pretty common for candidates to address areas of concern to the populace, and (if we're lucky) to discuss the ways in which they intend to rectify problems. Would you prefer that they didn't go beyond "We're proud of what the last guy did, and we're gong to keep doing it?" I suspect even fewer citizens would bother voting in response to such a passion-bereft approach.

Certainly, ALL candidates resort to hyperbole in addressing these concerns, simply because hyperbole has become the intellectual coin of the realm of late. Not only among candidates, but media talking heads, and even actual journalists.
"To hear the Left tell it, every girl is raped in college every day (and then attacked by Christian zealots on the way to her Planned Parenthood abortion), every woman works for tip money at the same job where all the men take home six figures, every black is incarcerated unjustly (and continues to bear the stigmata of painful wounds inflicted on his forebears 300 years ago)." See what I mean? I know I never got the liberal memo describing the scenario in the quoted passage. :-)

Steve Salerno said...

Ron, hyperbolic point taken about hyperbole, BUT there's a huge difference between (1) a journalist/blogger making such remarks as obvious/ironic Onion-like satire, to make his point about someone else's hyperbole, and (2) a candidate or interest group putting forward almost-as-hyperbolic statements as serious/literal platform planks--and even inventing/distorting stats for the purpose. One thinks of the much-repeated (by now basically mainstream) stat that "1 in 5 women is sexually assaulted in college." It proceeds from a study--questionable to begin with--in which any unwanted touching (e.g. a hand on a shoulder) and even unwanted advances ("hey mama!") were ranked as assaults. And if you read any Ta-Nehisi Coates you soon realize that the notion of all blacks bearing the aforementioned stigmata is not hyperbolic or even controsversial in his mind; it's simply his lens on life. It's his fact. The mind boggles at the idea that Coates' book garnered him a National Book Award and a Genius Award. And now we have a similar screed from the very influential Michael Eric Dyson.

Don't you think the Fed-up Factor over such reasoning helps explain Trump?

But yes, hyperbole is indeed the coin of the realm, and I love the phrasing.

RevRon's Rants said...

Hyperbole is every bit as essential to constructive dialog as syphilis is to meaningful relationships. I agree that we've gone overboard (to put it mildly) in our zero-tolerance for unwanted attention, but when such adherence to rigid black-and-white principles takes over the national discourse, we are definitely in trouble. I roll my eyes at the "offense" that many seem to take to what constitute minor irritants, but at the same time, see this as a pendulum correction for years of looking the other way where genuine abuse and exploitation was simply swept under the rug.

You focused upon the hyperbole that "liberals" supposedly rely upon, which is surprising given the last 7 years' worth of asinine accusations and name-calling that has been directed at liberals in general, and most derisively at a twice-democratically-elected president. In his case, the n-word is the only term of disrespect that has remained off the table among Republican elected representatives, whose reactions are little more than a wink and a nod.

I readily admit to leaning to the liberal, and laugh at the attempts to use the word as a pejorative, especially by people who try to drape themselves in "Christian values." The fail to see the disconnect between their claimed values and those demonstrated by their messiah. Vonnegut was partially right; homicidal beggars are riding wild, but it will be the weight of their "badges" that brings them down.

Steve Salerno said...

So are you saying syph is constructive in a relationship? Or you being facetious.

Yes, the tribe mentality that has taken hold of politics--and discourse--and society--is as bad as I've seen it in my lifetime. Compromise is a dirty word, as each side professes to see itself as part of an apocalyptic battle for the American soul. But professes is the operative term. I think 95% of it is shameless pandering, meant for effect--a perfect case in point being that insanely, self-consciously theocentric stump sermon Rubio gave a couple days ago where he must've dropped the Lord's name (variously as God, Jesus, even once the Messiah, I believe) about 5 dozen times in 10 minutes. It was comedic to the extent that I saw some of the good Iowans in attendance smirking and even fighting off belly-laughs. (How much more cynical is it possible for a candidate to be? And yes, to quote he who shall not be named, "How stupid does Rubio think the people of Iowa are?" [wink])

But that's the thing, Ron. You cannot persuade me that Trump (OK I'll name him now) is serious. He's simply providing a national catharsis to millions of Americans who are mightily frustrated if not enraged by some of the goings-on (and FED UP with Obama turning out to be so Blacknocentric). I don't care what the Donald says in the process of authenticating his GOP bona fides, he has NO INTENTION of fighting to overturn Roe v. Wade. No effing way. And he has no plans to deport 11 million Mexican illegals. It's theater, Ron. His one-man version of A Bronx Tale. (He may try to build The Wall, but that's a different story.) And yet I DO believe him when he says he wants to hit up the Upper Crust for a bigger tax tab...because he's been saying that for years now. Along with his belief that everyone deserves health care.

You know that I voted for Obama twice. I've been a Democrat since I got (or lost) religion early in Dubya's tenure. But if it came down to Trump vs. man...I just don't think I could vote for the scheming female cuckhold scumbag.

RevRon's Rants said...

So... You'd opt instead for a scumbag who offers no real plans as to how we would solve any of our challenges, beyond self-testimonials to his own awesomeness? And you honestly think that a man who has left others on the hook for millions following his own business failures would suddenly be concerned for the same people he has long referred to as losers? Seriously?

There is no such thing as a politician who is not scheming. IMO, we gravitate toward those whose schemes fit most closely with our own priorities and/or ethical code. I could see some people whose names I shall not mention supporting Trump, if only for their shared disdain for anyone whom they perceive as not holding membership to their chosen "club" and mindset. I don't share your opinion of Hillary, since I don't know enough about her and Bill's sexual relationship to consider him a cuckold (you have inside info?), especially given his persuasiveness and effectiveness in the other aspects of his life. And scumbag? I'm beginning to wonder whether "someone" might have hacked *your* blog. Either that, or perhaps my previous advice re: bran muffins bears repeating. Ad hominem isn't your normal MO.

I agree with your assessment of Trump's lack of seriousness, but I would take it significantly further. I don't believe he is motivated to governing in any area beyond those which serve his own interests. That would belie his claim to want to increase taxes on his own economic class. There simply isn't any evidence to support the notion that he would do anything that would cost him personally. Roe v Wade probably doesn't even register with him. If a paramour happened to get pregnant, he knows he could manage to get her one, regardless of the laws.

Finally, my immediate response when a politician (or pretty much anyone) starts extolling on the depths of their faith is to keep my hand on my wallet and be thankful that my children are fully grown. I'll leave it at that.

Now, go grab a muffin or two, Steve. :-)

Rodger O'Keefe said...

Try to envision the country running according to Bernie Sanders' tastes. I pick him rather than HRC because at least Bernie has some integrity, but his ideas destroy any value he might have as a person. And before you go all Moral on me, how moral is it to take money from one man to give to another via punitive taxation? That is not at all the model our founders had in mind. Besides which poverty in America is a whole different business from poverty elsewhere. Have you ever researched census stats on the kinds of lives lived by Americans at or below the poverty level? Most have multiple TVs and computers and cell phones and at least one car. They live with all or most of the amenities possessed by people making 10x as much, though maybe not as fancy. But why *should* they live millionaire lifestyles on a working man's budget? What's fair is fair.

As for all this crying about poverty in America, first of all I'm not buying it, especially not with food stamps and school meal programs, but to whatever extent kids are deprived of food it's a parental choice. The moms buy relatively pricey prepared foods instead of cooking at home, or they blow the budget on beer or that second or third TV. Then there are the urban mothers who complain they've got too many mouths to feed. Well whose fault is that!? And where's Daddy?

RevRon's Rants said...

Roger, your comment reminds me of something Bill Maher said in response to climate change deniers: Saying that global warming isn't real because it's cold where you live is like saying that world hunger doesn't exist because you're eating a sandwich. I can't help but wonder whether your parroting of the far right's favorite strawmen caricature is based in cognitive dissonance or a willful denial of the truth. You can, of course, whine that I'm personally attacking you, but the truth is that it is incredibly difficult to come up with any other foundation for the arrogant dismissiveness you exhibit toward those whom you seem to feel are inferior to you.

Yes, there are poor people in other countries who suffer under worse conditions than those experienced by most in this country, but that in no way justifies the vilification or outright dismissal of those who suffer here. Your statement that "most have multiple televisions and computers and at least one car" might fly on Fox News, but is simply not an accurate picture of the conditions that most poor people are experiencing. The vast majority of food stamp recipients, for example, hold at least one job, but still earn too little to support even a moderately secure lifestyle. And the cost to taxpayers for the subsidies such individuals are given is dwarfed by the subsidies given to large corporations and wealthy individuals, whose lifestyles would not be negatively impacted by the elimination of the subsidies.

Sanders pushes for fairness. Perhaps we simply have different ideas as to what constitutes a person's "value." You want to see what "going moral on you" looks like? Fair enough. Is it "moral" to deny easily-afforded assistance to someone who is suffering, or merely selfish?

Rodger O'Keefe said...

Ron, I rest my case:

RevRon's Rants said...

The Heritage Foundation is funded by some of the country's most devoted promoters of oligarchy, under the guise of returning the country to its core values. Yeah, you've rested your case quite well Roger, albeit not as you might have intended.

Rodger O'Keefe said...

I'm surprised at you Ron. I thought your argumentative skills were more well developed than falling back on being "ad hominem" against a Foundation. Don't tell me what Heritage's agenda is. We both know the answer to that. Tell me where their facts are off base. If they went out and compiled a bunch of facts that support their thesis, so what? As long as the data is right, what's your problem.

Or did it ever occur to you that maybe *most* of the facts support my kind of politics, which is why the smart money is on my side of the table?

Steve Salerno said...

Now why do I feel this is about to get interesting?

I kinda feel like that scene in Blazing Saddles.... "Oh boys...? Boys...?" wink

RevRon's Rants said...

Roger, please explain to me how my comment about the Heritage Foundation's funding constitutes an ad hominem attack. They do receive the vast majority of their funding from the Koch brothers, whose actions have been instrumental in the country's move toward oligarchy. That move into oligarchy is well documented and based upon math, not ideology. Your "surprise" is reminiscent of my daughter's insistence upon labeling anything she didn't like as being "unfair." Thankfully, she outgrew the tendency by the age of 10 or 11. That said, I don't operate under the illusion that my debate skills can overcome anyone's tightly-held cognitive dissonance, much less willful ignorance.

As to facts, here are a few:
1) The country has reached a record level of wealth & income inequality.
2) Throughout history, when a society reached this level, it began to decline and ultimately failed. The truly "smart money" is aware of this history and strives to avoid repeating it.
3) Throughout this country's history, both the economy and the sense of personal security has been better under Democratic leadership than under Republican leadership.
4) Reagan's vision of a trickle down economy has been clearly shown to be unworkable, while basic Keynesian principles have held true. Quite simply, the country does well only when there is a viable middle class that has sufficient income to purchase goods.
5) When the emphasis shifts to more fully benefit the wealthiest citizens, the vast majority of accumulated wealth goes not into the purchase of goods and services, but into investments whose sole function is to generate profit, rather than goods and services. That is why the Dow and the banks can look so good on paper, even as the majority of citizens struggle even to maintain a modest sense of financial security.

Steve, I hope this was sufficiently "interesting" to you. It's been many years since I taught a political science class, and even then, it was to a body of students who were more interested in learning something than defending historically disproved theories.

Steve Salerno said...

Ron, it's all interesting to me, sans quote marks. Did you think I was being snide? I just meant that you and ol' Rodg seemed to be getting into it a little bit. Lord knows it's been awhile since there's been this kind of vitality on the blog. Cut me some slack, Jack. Let's have our bran muffins now.

Anonymous said...

Trump is a buffoon plain and simple. How you could over-intellectualize him and his appeal the way you did in that piece is mind-boggling. He has made a campaign out of being the political Don Rickles and now he finally seems to be getting his long overdue comeuppance and I for one couldn't be happier to see him go down in flames.

Roger, get a clue, do you have any idea how tough life is today for the average working joe, even with a TV or a car?

RevRon's Rants said...

You know me well enough to know I enjoy pulling your chain, Steve. Snide? I've seen snide, and had to work really hard to hack your blog and insert the snide. :-)

I too enjoy a spirited discussion, but the recent primary battles have left me with even less patience for arrogance and willful ignorance than I had before. Perhaps the banana nut bread I had for breakfast will help me in my efforts to be more tolerant when the Trumpettes begin playing. But then again, perhaps not. :-)

Anonymous said...

Aaah shucks guys I really miss you guys and our discussions on the world and its mundanities...

I'm watching the election from the other side of the pond and Trump is definitely the most intertaining, we have a buffoon like him here as our mayor, Boris Johnson, I'm sure they both have a more than a touch of aspergers..


Steve Salerno said...

We miss you too, Londoner!

Asperger's? Trump? I've heard people call him an ass-burger, but they meant it differently, I think...

So tell me more...

RevRon's Rants said...

It would be entertaining here as well, Londoner, if the consequences weren't so potentially dire. On the one side, we have our choice of extreme narcissistic sociopaths who are eager to wreck the country for their own private gain. On the other side, we have a choice between a female LBJ, ruthless and self-serving but effective in a sort-of-progressive way, and a guy who people just can't help loving, and who genuinely appeals to the best in us, but whose platform would be best presented with Julie Andrews singing "Climb Every Mountain" in the background. I trust that he would honestly strive to correct the country's problems, but fear he would have a nearly insurmountable task getting the Congress to work with him. I intend to vote according to my values *and* my intellect, which is not a simple task these days.

Bernie could surprise me, though. After all, I voted for Carter - twice - despite believing that Reagan would actually be better for the econo0my. And we saw how well *that* turned out.

Anonymous said...

Aspergers is high functioning autism, it means that who have that condition struggle with social cues and personal relationships

AAnd RevRon, I'm afraid that since to me the election is all for show and the people who are really running things are behind the scenes...we will never really know what's going on and who is really in it might as well be an entertaining show....


RevRon's Rants said...

Would that I could view it all as entertainment. But I've seen first-hand what defending the lie can cost, and it's a price I'm not willing to pay.