Is it too late to stop the virus killing American democracy?

The Trump-sponsored Nunes memo that alleges an FBI and Justice Department anti-Trump bias represents the latest Republican break with reality when:

  • Their heads were appointed by Trump.
  • The departments are typically staffed by Republicans
  • The FBI influenced the presidential election in Trump’s favor with Comey’s handling of Hillary Clinton’s emails.
  • The GOP was the law and order party.

It’s Trump’s latest inept and corrosive attack on our democracy, this time to deflect attention away from the Russian investigation.

It’s a part of a much larger puzzle.  This isn’t a typical meme or swing of the political pendulum.  A fundamental change started 30 years ago when the extreme far right was infected with a certain anarchy.  The infection mutated outside the normal bounds of political convention.  American politics had no immunity.

Its goal was not to take over  government but to destroy and remake it.  The virus was unbound by tradition.

As a result, the infection spread over the years.  It leaped from person to person, from group to group.  It expanded its sphere from haters to the fearful to the docile.  It bulldozed facts, science, truth, moderation, cooperation, bipartisanship, and outsiders.  It took over the party where it started. With the normal checks and balances dissolved, the virus infected the government itself.  Yesterday it was local and state government. Today it’s the FBI.  Tomorrow the press.

We last saw this in the 1930’s. All that’s left is the naked ambition of the Boy King, the craven acceptance of enthralled acolytes, and the tyranny of the mob.

How do you explain the unchecked success of an infection that’s spanned an entire generation? Is it just a natural political mutation that incubated in the right brew of schemers, money, and power.

Perhaps.  If you’re willing to settle for an easy and neat answer.  The one they want you to have.

But I see order, the blueprint of a 30 year old plan.  This virus is brilliant, a feat of social, political, and information engineering that predicted the future that we’re at today.

Is is the inevitable endgame of unrestrained capitalism? …

A plutocratic takeover that germinated in the 1970s military industrial complex? …

The fruition of a Russian KGB operation hatched amid the deaththroes of the Soviet Union?

Or something else?

Is it too late to kill the virus when you don’t know where it came from and it’s already killing its host?



Posted by Marc Freedman in Articles, Commentary, Current events, Donald Trump, History, Philosophy, Republicans, 1 comment

Trump & The Tax Bill, the Present That Keeps Giving

The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is the ‘win’ that wasn’t.  The legislation was promoted with proven lies and failures (trickle down).  It could have been fact-based and middle class-supportive.  Instead it’s a donor giveaway that transfers money from the have-nots to the already haves (corporations and the wealthy).

Lyin ‘Donald had a chance to deliver on his promise to support the people, even if it hurt himself.  Instead, to no one’s surprise, it benefits the rich, wealthy companies, and Trump.

It’s a cunningly crafted Trojan horse.  The lower and middle class  benefits are illusory.  Their tax benefits expire after a few years, while the giveaway to the rich is permanent.    When the $1.5 trillion deficit comes due the GOP already has said it’s prepared to go after social benefit programs.

A review of how much the bill benefits the 1%:

  • 25% – Promised. Trump said the bill would hurt him. So the majority of benefts would have benefited the middle class.
  • 82% – Actual bill.
  • 1oo+% – After 2025 when the middle class benefits expire.

#ThankyouTrump. You could have helped the people or even your core voters.  But you didn’t.  And a majority know it.

Instead you gave us this wonderful gift for people to remember you by.  In case they miss your hourly tweets.   It may be a win for your fellow Republican lawmakers and donors now.  But this trillion dollar giveaway will be an eternally shiny present for the Democrats at election time later this year and beyond.






Posted by Marc Freedman in Articles, Commentary, Donald Trump, Economics, Republicans, Thank you, Trump, 0 comments

The Inconvenient Truth

… or Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire and Fury.

David Brooks writes about inconvenient observations and the Michael Wolff book in The Decline of Anti-Trumpism.  A few excerpts follow.

First, people who go into the White House to have a meeting with President Trump usually leave pleasantly surprised. They find that Trump is not the raving madman they expected.

Second, people who work in the Trump administration have wildly divergent views about their boss.

Third, the White House is getting more professional. …

This isn’t just a struggle over a president. It’s a struggle over what rules we’re going to play by after Trump. Are we all going to descend permanently into the Trump standard of acceptable behavior?

Mr. Brooks, let’s look at what you wrote.  The President isn’t a raving madman.  Some people in his administration like him.  And some are getting work done.   I’ll even add that I’m sure his family loves him.  Plus certain crowds still adore him. I’ll even grant that clinical narcissism may not be as bad as psychopathy.

They said the same about Hitler and Caligula early on during their reigns. Aren’t YOU the one setting the bar low here?  Are you truly willing to settle at this point?

The man is not well.  He’s doing damage to the norms of the office and the country.  He’s co-opted the cowardly GOP.   This isn’t a typical Administration or political process.  Even your own colleagues remain alarmed where a recent selection included Paul Krugman’s The Worst and the Dumbest, Nicholas Kristof on Trump’s Threat to Democracy, and the New York Times editorial Is Mr. Trump Nuts?

The GOP has weaponized politics through media and message control and thirty years of continual lies … and you’re worried about whether Wolff’s book is too lowbrow with gossip that contains the truth?

The inconvenient truth is that it’s been and still is a critical, clear, and present danger.  The problem is not, as you write, the anti-Trump movement is suffering from insularity.  It’s the challenge of continuing to reach, motivate, and mobilize Americans.

The fight for #TheResistance is just starting. Let’s worry about standards and lowbrow books after the battle’s been won.




Posted by Marc Freedman in Articles, Commentary, Current events, Donald Trump, Republicans, 0 comments

The Quality of Overcoming

Once upon a time there was a narcissistic populist who trumpeted his mental stability and intelligence.  He charmed the populace and rose to run a kingdom that was the leader of the world.  He had exquisite tastes and demanded luxury. He ran up extravagant personal bills that were paid by the people.

He had no government experience.  He said whatever was on his mind, made impractical promises, reversed all his predecessor’s policies, and enacted tax cuts that increased the deficit.  He had no military experience but liked to play the role.  He glorified violence, surrounded himself with military trappings and generals, and threatened his rivals.

No, this is not Lyin’ Donald.  This ruler was Trumpier than Trump with four wives and slept only three hours a night.  He didn’t just threaten but killed Senators.

The emperor was Caligula, as recounted by Nicholas Kristof in There Once Was a Great Nation With an Unstable Leader. Kristof’s conclusion is that Rome survived, as will America.

To me, the lesson is that Rome was able to inoculate itself against unstable rulers so that it could recover and rise to new glories. Even the greatest of nations may suffer a catastrophic leader, but the nation can survive the test and protect its resilience — if the public stays true to its values, institutions and traditions. That was true two millennia ago, and remains true today.

Of course.  We shall overcome.  In one year or a hundred.  In Trump’s world or another.  By definition.

Is that all?  The end of the story?  Is it sufficient for you to resign yourself to the natural arc of time, knowing that Trump and his legacy will be swept away … at some point, just like Caligula?  Are you satisfied to feel injustice, but stay in your comfort zone and accept current events as fate?  Trump, the GOP, and their plutocratic bosses hope you are.

Or are you ready to take control of your life and be a part of, and not just observe, history?

For those of us here, now, is not the quality of how we overcome more important than our endurance?

How do you want to be remembered in 10 years or a generation from now?

What is your commitment and role in #TheResistance?


Posted by Marc Freedman in Articles, Commentary, Donald Trump, History, Republicans, Resistance, 0 comments

Is the G.O.P. T.O.X.I.C.?

I wrote about the hijacking of the Republican party three years ago in Grande Old Party, I Hardly Knew Ye.  Here are a few excerpts:

I remember the GOP positively as a teen as the party of economic opportunity.

According to Bring Back the Party of Lincoln,  the change in the GOP isn’t new.  Republicans are historical flip-floppers.  Author Heather Cox Richardson concludes:

Twice in its history, the Republican Party regained its direction and popularity after similar disasters by returning to its original defense of widespread individual economic success. The same rebranding is possible today, if Republicans demote Reagan from hero to history and rally to a leader like Lincoln, Roosevelt or Eisenhower — someone who believes that the government should promote economic opportunity rather than protect the rich.

Change is inevitable, especially amid a changing electorate that reduces the Republican power base every year.  The only question is when.

While anything is possible, it’s unlikely to happen soon.  The Super Recession was nearly as bad as the Depression.  It had no effect on the party.  There have been various Republican branding initiatives.  They’ve gone nowhere.  The party has virtually shut down Congress.  Not a budge.  And there is no savior in sight.

Instead the party has used its power to enfranchise its legitimacy by redrawing voting maps and giving the rich even more influence.  It’s drawn the Democrats far right of where they were 30 years ago, thus providing far less GOP maneuvering room.

I suggest nothing is going to happen until the party runs out of all its tricks and loses both houses of Congress and the Presidency at the same time and that’s probably 20 years away at best.

It’s now three years later.  A new GOP President promised Main Street populism.  Did he lead the party and reinvigorate it?

Of course not.  Trump is no Lincoln and didn’t keep that and many other promises.  Lyin’ Donald and his billionaire cabinet are the embodiment of protecting the rich. Republicans own all 3 federal government branches.  Trump’s ratings are the lowest of any modern President at this point in their term.  Trump’s brand is toxic. And the GOP has embraced him, making that stain theirs as well.  A Democratic whiplash appears increasingly likely in the midterms with a Democratic presidency in 2020 a good bet.

When will the GOP return to being the party of Lincoln? Apparently they’re still not toxic enough.  Based on the 2017 Tax Bill, there’s no hint of change yet.  We’ll check back in another four years.

Posted by Marc Freedman in Articles, Commentary, History, Republicans, 0 comments

U.S. Economic Slavery Worsens

I penned the article on the Civil War below four years ago.   I asked when will we ‘make the US great again?’  and return to economic equality and a strong middle class.

Today little has changed.  Trump took that phrase for his own slogan.  His version of MAGA is a reversion to earlier times of straight white male supremacy like the Civil War era.  With Lyin’ Donald and the Republicans in control, economic slavery is only getting worse.


The Civil War anew: U.S. economic slavery 150 years later

March 28, 2013

The New York Times commemorates the Civil War’s 150th anniversary with an ongoing series called Disunion.  The closed patriarchy of slaveowners clashed with the freedom and opportunity of the West.  The article Mitchel Thompson’s War by C Kay Larson documents the strong support for the war in the Union Midwest.

Slave ownership made for bad economics …

[F]uture governor Richard Ogilvy told how, as a young laborer in Kentucky, he could charge only $6 a month, lest he lose out to slave labor, which could be rented out at $75 a year.

… and bad culture.

Rev. Charles Beecher  said the question was not “ whether black men are forever to be slaves, but whether the sons of Puritans are to become slaves themselves.”

The country was growing up and recognizing the externalities of an unjust and imbalanced socioeconomic system.

Northwest Illinois farmers’ mantra became “free territories, free homesteads, and protection to free labor.”

Is it any different today as billionaire industrialists have created their own plantations of wealth, often squirreled overseas to save every last penny … where their enterprises are too big to fail … their jobs are guaranteed with golden parachutes … their adverse actions have no consequences?   Their money has bought the political power to increase their holdings at the expense of the rest of the country.  They’ve destroyed the middle class, weakened the social network, gutted job security, increased poverty, and cheapened life for those who are not privileged.

150 years ago:

[A] new Republican Party alliance was struck between Western free farmers and Eastern industrialists.

Where is the alliance, Republican or otherwise, that will break today’s slavery?

When will the technology and innovation industries meet their social obligations and join with the people to make the US great again?

Posted by Marc Freedman in Articles, Commentary, Donald Trump, Economics, History, Politics, Republicans, Resistance, 0 comments

Lyin’ Donald

… or The Non-Populist Populist

Ross Douthat writes “What’s particularly frustrating is that [the Republican tax bill] didn’t have to be this way”.  But isn’t that the point?  After almost of year of so-called governance has he not figured how Trump works and the GOP operates?

The Republican switch-and-bait that taxes the poor to give to their rich donors has been going on for decades. Trump acts based on his self-interest, as yet another purported billionaire, not the country’s – or even his base’s – interest.  Too bad his own voters never learned that for themselves.

Trump started out with great promise to support and empower Main Street and the middle class that was left behind by international trade, elites, and wealthy donors.  That populist message was noble, selfless, and admirable.  If he could deliver on it, he could build a true legacy with a wide base of support.  I personally would have celebrated and congratulated him.

But who’s kidding who?  This is Lyin’ Donald.  The tax bill is the purest expression of who he is.  He says  it would cost him a fortune.  He lied.  James Repetti, a tax law professor at Boston College Law School, said “This is a windfall for real estate developers like Trump.”  He and his cronies will expand their fortunes. Hugely.  An  estimate from the Washington Post counts that Trump will save $7 million per year.

Instead of being a force for social good, he followed the standard Republican gameplan to enrich the rich.  Instead of combating the power of the elites and income inequality, he only increased it.

Robert Reich posts a nice summary of Trump’s Top 20 lies in his New Year’s Update for Trump Voters.

Ross, don’t be frustrated.  Follow the money, not the tweets.





Posted by Marc Freedman in Articles, Commentary, Donald Trump, Republicans, Thank you, Trump, 0 comments

A Culture of Lies & The Real Fake News

No, Lyin’ Donald, you did not create the term ‘Fake News’.  Your first use is below, while fake news have been a part of politics virtually forever.

According to Politifact, Obama was telling all or most of the truth 50% of the time as of this post date.  That’s disappointing.  But compare that to only one out of six Trump claims being true or mostly true.   That means that five out of six times Trump is fully or partly lying.

The explosion of lies has mostly happened on the Right over the past few decades.  It’s become a standard part of the Republican toolkit.  See Swiftboating and Truthiness.

The next step in institutionalized lying is to attack those who job it is to report the truth objectively, regardless that their reporting is supported by published data and verified sources.  Calling legitimate media fake is a classic doublethink switch and bait marketing tactic.  It’s perfect cover to move the attention away from the real fake news, your own lies.

But there is a limit. When you’re mostly lying, anything you say won’t be trusted.  People tune you out.  Not only do they not believe your lies, they also ignore the rare 15% of the time when you actually do speak the truth.

Ultimately a culture of lies is ineffective and unsustainable.  There is no bridge to reach those who think for themselves, aka #TheResistance.  Once you’ve maximized your base, which Trump did on Election Day, you’re not going to be able to expand it.  You’ll have to expend ever greater effort to publish your fake news and maintain a false reality that’s constantly clashing with what’s really happening.



Posted by Marc Freedman in Articles, Commentary, Reality, Republicans, Thank you, Trump, 0 comments

The Abyss Widens

Post-modern civilization is threatened.

In the absence of global wars  the inevitable ups and down of civilization are economic.  And the the rich have been more than ready to play.  Unrestrained capitalism has corrupted the political system and created an abyss between the haves and have-nots in both Europe and the US.  The oligarchs of wealth have choreographed the rise of emotion over logic during the past 20 years, which has come to fruition with regressive authoritarian populism.  The ruling class – the haves – have expanded the abyss by changing the rules of the game.  They trump conflicts that don’t exist, ignore facts and science, and sell an alternate reality.  A billionaire was voted in the White House against the clear self-interest of his voters – the have-nots.

The good news is that progress is rarely linear.  The current Hot Tub Time Machine return to 1950s cannot be permanent. Political complacency on the left has been replaced by a new engagement. The pendulum will swing back, though the cost may be great.  Rationality will return victorious, but only after a painful lesson in humility.

One cost that’s not fully collected yet is the damage to traditional liberalism.

The continued protest on college campuses over nationalist and ultra-conservative speakers is one example.  The tumult on campus has been troubling. But it’s not just a few people or one school.  It’s easy to denigrate students and call them pampered babies.  There is something significant that is not being heard.

Ulrich Baer writes in the NY Times that the campus change is generational in What ‘Snowflakes’ Get Right About Free Speech.

During the 1980s and ’90s, a shift occurred in American culture; personal experience and testimony, especially of suffering and oppression, began to challenge the primacy of argument. Freedom of expression became a flash point in this shift. Then as now, both liberals and conservatives were wary of the privileging of personal experience, with its powerful emotional impact, over reason and argument, which some fear will bring an end to civilization, or at least to freedom of speech. …

The recent student demonstrations at Auburn — as well as protests on other campuses against Charles Murray, Milo Yiannopoulos and others — should be understood as an attempt to ensure the conditions of free speech for a greater group of people, rather than censorship. Liberal free-speech advocates rush to point out that the views of these individuals must be heard first to be rejected. But this is not the case. Universities invite speakers not chiefly to present otherwise unavailable discoveries, but to present to the public views they have presented elsewhere. When those views invalidate the humanity of some people, they restrict speech as a public good.

The pure free speech argument is a longtime liberal plank.  It has a lot of merit.  But there is a bigger picture in which to view these campus protests.   The controversial speakers are yet another example of false equivalencies.  In civilized society freedom of speech is a public good.  But we’re no longer in that idealized world when reality itself is under assault.

The campus protests illustrate the corrosive effect of the oligarchic programs on not just their followers but also the liberals on the other side.  When formerly common facts are denied, the middle ground for agreement vanishes (thus the Republican party asymmetrically becomes a party of No, not governance).  First principles are not always accurate.   Nuance becomes increasingly important and as we’ve seen with campus protest, it’s … HARD.  If it’s challenging for people committed to self-reflection, what hope is there for those in the Time Machine who don’t question Fox News? The gulf between the haves and have-nots can exponentially increase.

The pendulum will swing back.  But how far can it go when the abyss continues to widen?

Posted by Marc Freedman in Articles, Commentary, Marc Freedman, Philosophy, Republicans, 0 comments

Never Again

By Marc Freedman

The Jews know a few things about being FREED.

I’m Jewish. We have a special sensitivity to oppression that’s virtually imprinted on us at a genetic level. We are all immigrants. Trump said ‘Never again‘ at the Holocaust Remembrance Day.  But in his Orwellian doublethink pay attention to his actual actions.

He has already started to come for the Muslims.  The Mexicans are queued up next.  And then who?

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Pastor Martin Niemöller

A culture of fear, hate, and incompetence is institutionalized in Trump’s presidency. If you waited, what more do you need see?  He’s created and staffed  a Ministry of Truth that refuses science and creates its own alternative facts.  He isn’t satisfied with taking the US back to the fantasy of white Christian 1950s.  He is retreating further to the dark 1930s where the response to economic inequality was the charisma of a strongman who rode fear and mob rule to racial annihilation.

This is not politics as usual.  These are not regular Republicans.  It’s evil, whether it’s a cult of narcissism, the tyranny of the Christian majority, the nihilsm of libertarians, or the next step toward totalitarianism.  It must be stopped.  In all ways.  Now.  It is time.

I care because as a rational human being (and an engineer) I believe and live in the world of logic.  That’s my reality.  That’s what allows me to type on a computer, use email, and send this over the Internet.  A lie, broadcast and repeated hundred fold, is still a lie. It cannot be allowed to flourish, cower listeners through repetition, build power, acquire legitimacy, and flood our coastlines through neglect.  Yet that’s exactly how dictators work.  How he works.  And it’s succeeded.

I care because the suppression of facts, the cult of personality, and the demonization of dissent is plainly wrong.  I care because a narcissist who acts like a spoiled brat and pouts and attacks when he can’t be number one – when he should be running the country – should not hold any public office, must less the nuclear launch codes.  I care because a racist misogynist xenophobe does not deserve respect and is not a role model for our children.  I care because all the above cannot be the legacy we pass on to our children’s children.  I care because this cannot be the new normal or we have truly started down that dangerous slippery slope.

I care because I’m Jewish and we have seen this before. They have come for us.  We know how this can end if we wait too long and don’t stand up to authoritarians.

I care because we have vowed Never again.  In the real world.  Not Trump fantasy land.

Posted by Marc Freedman in About, Articles, Commentary, Donald Trump, History, Inspiration, Marc Freedman, Republicans, Resistance, Society, 0 comments