Some years ago, my wife and I visited our daughter in Moscow, where she was studying the Russian language.  The Soviet Union had recently been dismantled, and the people were being rapidly introduced to the corruption and gangsterism that would become standard operating procedure for their government and their economy.  With their incomes slashed while the bullying few seized massive fortunes, women stood in long lines selling their most valued possessions just to get food to survive.  The thugs ruled the streets, even taking over the Bolshoi Ballet ticket office.  As the years have gone by, those thugs have succeeded in taking power as a matter of policy.  Elections are fixed, the media are controlled by the state, people who oppose the dictatorship are imprisoned or assassinated, and the rich have become dizzyingly rich while the average working person struggles more and more with low wages and decreasing benefits such as health care and retirement benefits.


As Republicans take over Congress and the Trump crowd begins to reveal its direction and plans, we begin to get some sense of the atmosphere in which we are about to be living.  The Republicans passed the first step toward repealing the Affordable Care Act, although absolutely nothing has been done to replace it.  The president-elect has ignored and even denounced America’s intelligence community for giving the American people information that might damage him.  His appointees have made it clear that they will dismantle the country’s efforts to save the environment, they will slash the workers’ rights to organize, they will cut funding to public schools, they will drastically cut supervision of financial industries, and they will, in general, pursue a government of, by and for the wealthy.


Then, yesterday, something happened that was strange and unexplained.  C-Span, the channel that airs government hearings, was airing a discussion by a senator about current issues.  When the senator began to speak about Russia’s attempts to affect our election process, C-span’s coverage was interrupted and replaced with, of all things, state-controlled RT Russian television.  After some time, C-Span’s coverage was restored, and no explanation was given for this unthinkable switch.


Maybe it was an accident.  Or, maybe someone was sending a message.  A few things, however, are undeniably clear.  First, truth has become disposable.  The intelligence community made an airtight case that the Russians had acted to affect the election in favor of Trump, but it made no investigation or judgment about Russia’s success in promoting him.  Trump first denounced and denied the intelligence community’s conclusions, and then, when his position was finally untenable, he mischaracterized its report, saying that it had found that there was absolutely no effect on the election.


Second, whatever may be the intentions of Trump and his gang, their main motivation has nothing to do with the good of the people.  If they accomplish their proposals, health care will cost more and cover fewer, public education will see drastic monetary cuts, workers will see reductions in wages, benefits and safety, and banks and other financial institutions, including most of all Wall Street, will be given the kind of free rein they used to collapse the American economy in the ’90’s and again during the Bush administration.


All this might seem impossible in America.  If it were even half accomplished, the American people would rise up and throw the rascals out.  The public outrage would eliminate the possibility of Republican hegemony for decades.  Trump would be a lame duck president before his second year was over.


Unless.  The one thing that has prevented such skullduggery from succeeding in the United States has always been the very first right the founders placed in the Constitution — freedom of the press.  It was the press that finally ended Joe McCarthy’s reign of terror.  It was the press that finally revealed the truth that Nixon fought so hard to suppress.  And it was the press that, despite vigorous attempts to suppress its work, revealed to the public that Russia had hacked and weaseled its way into the American election process.


It is that very freedom of the press against which Trump has announced open war.  He has, everywhere he has gone, demonized the press as entirely dishonest, this while ignoring and denying blatant facts.  He has refused the press access to him, and, when he finally does appear before them, he mocks and derides them, refusing to acknowledge undeniable facts and blathering on without a hint of substance.  As inconceivable as it might have been a few months ago, it is now a distinct possibility that Trump could succeed in suppressing that one thing that stands between us and tyranny.


I have come to understand how 60 million people could vote for this man.  They were sick of being ignored, and they were ignored.  They are good people, and they are the very backbone of America.  They work their butts off, and their tax dollars fuel this government.  They want the benefits for which they work so hard and which they so richly deserve.  If, however, those assuming power succeed in the policies they seem to be pursuing, it will be these good people who will suffer the most.  If Trump and his gang succeed at suppressing the people’s right to know, and succeed also in stripping their supporters of their rights, there will be only one recourse — violent revolution.  Until today, I would have said that violent revolution in the U.S. was impossible.  But then, I would have also denied that a president would be a habitual liar.


At the very beginning of the Obama administration, in fact on the evening of his inauguration, the Republican leaders got together and decided that the best way for them to deal with the new president was to oppose absolutely everything he did.  So thorough going was their commitment to this approach that, when the new president endorsed a bill proposed by the Republicans, those very Republicans voted their own bill down.  That was a stupid, selfish, purely political policy, and it deeply wounded the American people and wasted eight years of what could have been an astounding advance in the peace and progress of this nation.

It would, therefore, be just as repugnant to take the same approach to the new Republican administration and Congress.  We need, rather, to rationally analyze the Republican proposals and endorse or oppose them on the merits.

The first act of the new Republican leaders is to announce that they will repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with a health care program that will solve the failings that these leaders see in that act.  It was never quite clear what those failings were, but the Republicans have listed them for us.  We should hail them for announcing what those failures are and for promising to fix them.

First, the Republican leaders, most notably Vice-President-elect Michael Pence, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and House majority leader Paul Ryan, have announced that the premiums for insurance under the Affordable Care Act are too high.  We should, therefore, eagerly await a reduction in insurance premiums under Republican leadership.

Second, Republican leaders have announced that deductibles in the Affordable Care Act are too high.  We should, therefore, look forward to reduced deductibles along with reduced premiums.

Third, Republican leaders have pointed out that the Affordable Care Act did not allow the insureds to pick their own doctor or pick their own insurer.  We should be comforted by the fact that, under the new Republican leadership, we will be able to do both.

Finally, Republican leaders have complained that the Affordable Care Act did not accomplish its goal of providing insurance for everyone in America.  This is the heart of the matter, since, for various reasons, accomplishing universal health care will result in enormous savings both in the delivery of health care and in the administration of health insurance.  This will be a truly great accomplishment by the Republican administration, and it would show that the Republican leadership cares more about the needs of the people than it does about political power.

If these things are accomplished by the new Republican leadership, we should all congratulate them on their dedication to the American people.  They have the reins now, and they have made clear what they want to accomplish for us.  We will hold them to these promises, and we will give them every bit of recognition they deserve for what they accomplish.


Everything has a logic, even illogic. Logic, after all, is only the art of laying out the consequences of any given set of first principles. It might make no sense to you that a person with a wonderful family and a great job would lose that job and family by drinking himself homeless. If, however, you assume the first principle of alcoholism — I want to do whatever it takes to get drunk — then losing your job and family is perfectly logical, i.e., it necessarily follows from that first principle. Likewise, getting up at five every morning and running twenty miles is my idea of utter insanity, but it is perfectly logical for someone who wants to win the Boston Marathon. It follows, then (quite logically, I might add), that, if you wish to understand the arguments or conduct of someone, you need first to identify that person’s first principle, and that will make sense of what follows.

Therein lies a huge problem for Republicans. Why is it, I ask myself, that Republicans rise to power and then almost immediately set to antagonizing the electorate by making life miserable for the average person? And how is it possible to make sense of arguments made by Republicans on behalf of programs that are clearly antithetical to the common interest? How make sense of vigorous arguments against protecting the environment, providing health care to all at a reasonable price, providing a living wage to the lowest earnings levels? How is it possible to argue that the correct policy in good times and bad is to lower taxes on the wealthy? What sense is there to demanding cuts to education for those unable to afford private schooling and increasing subsidies to those who can? How can you logically decry our treatment of disabled veterans and at the same time cut funding for their treatment? And how, in the name of all that is reasonable, can you argue on every imaginable plane that we should deny the factual findings of the sciences?

All of this makes perfect sense only if you identify the first principle of those who control the Republican party. Nobody said it better than Al Capp: what’s good for General Bullmoose is good for the country. What serves the interests of the wealthy serves the interests of the entire country. You may assign whatever motives you wish to the adoption of that particular first principle. Maybe the Republican power brokers genuinely feel that concentrating wealth and power in the hands of a few is the best way to govern a nation. They would not be the first to think so. The list of historical oligarchies is far longer than that of genuine democracies. On the other hand, you may feel that the Republican power brokers are simply paying back those who provide them with the funds to stay in office. Whatever the motivation, the principle is quite clear, and, once you set that principle in place, all the rest makes perfect sense. For instance, why would you argue that running an oil pipeline down the middle of the country the provides scant jobs and that does nothing for energy conservation in America is good for the American people? Let’s say it together: BECAUSE IT’S GOOD FOR GENERAL BULLMOOSE, AND WHAT IS GOOD FOR GENERAL BULLMOOSE IS GOOD FOR THE COUNTRY.

That analysis will help you understand all the rest. You challenge science because the findings of science conflict with the interests of the wealthy. You reduce health care, education, veterans’ benefits, increases in the minimum wage because these things conflict with the interests of the wealthy. This, of course, assumes that the interests of the wealthy may comfortably be reduced to wanting more wealth, and those with wealth cannot fairly all be tarred with the same brush. Warren Buffett and Bill Gates have both decried the increased concentration of wealth in the hands of a few, and they have both dedicated a massive percentage of their wealth to the improvement of the lot of the less advantaged among us. The Koch brothers, on the other hand, sadly personify a far-too-substantial portion of the wealthy for which the only value lies in increasing their financial holdings.

To answer, then, the question with which I started. The Republican reliance on Bullmoose logic requires them to get creative in convincing the people that Republican politicians will serve the interests of the people. Once in power, however, they must serve those who put them there, and inevitably that must end in damaging the interests of the general public. You cannot promote policies that increase poverty and igorance, decrease a healthy environment and access to medical care, etc., and continue to enjoy the adulation of the masses. Absent restricting the voice of those masses, you will, having revealed your true colors by your actions, be summarily thrown out.

I am not saying here that the Republicans will be routed in 2016. They may succeed in somehow silencing the disadvantaged majority. They may succeed in restricting the vote or starting another war or some other tactic. What I am saying is that a program of action built on advantaging only a few is intrinsically doomed to fail. Eventually the people catch on, and eventually the people overthrow that oligarchy. They did it in Russia. They are doing it in China. Soon or late, they will do it to the Republicans.

General Bullmoose, take heed.


The Republican election victory was complete, and the reasons why they were so successful are officially irrelevant. The Republicans have a majority in both houses of Congress, and Republicans have majorities in both houses of the majority of states, along with Republican governors.
What is also irrelevant is the list of issues on which they ran. All the talk about getting tough on crime and being committed to family and even creating more jobs was just talk. Legislatures and governors either do not or cannot do anything about these issues anyway.
So the hot question is: what are all these Republican administrations going to do? The things they can do are fairly limited. They could try, as they had often claimed they would, to repeal the Affordable Care Act. If they do, millions of people will lose health care coverage, and we will return to the ever-spiraling health care costs, and they will likely all get tossed out of office in 2016. They could also try, as they also claimed they would, to throw every undocumented alien out of the country and seal our borders up tight. If they do that, they will also be summarily dismissed in ’16.
They will, of course, do neither, and even if they try they won’t succeed because the president will veto their efforts, and the democratic senators will use the Republicans’ favorite tactic of one-person filibuster (Republicans have used that a mind-boggling 458 times in the first six years of the Obama administration) to stop them.
They could also work to balance the budget, reduce the deficit, use federal funds to create significant employment for those at the lower levels of the economic ladder, and design a program of health care that will provide health care to all at a reasonable cost. If they do all these things, I, and presumably everyone I know, will join the Republican party, and the Democrats will be left to represent burnt out hippies and utopian socialists.
Or, they could carry on with politics as usual and pay off the moneyed interests who made their sweeping victory possible by passing a tax bill that will provide those monied interests with even less taxation than the historically low tax burden they now have. The Koch brothers did not shell out three hundred million dollars to close the borders. They expect, and will demand, a handsome return on their investment.
The problem is that they cannot actually tell the electorate what they are up to. Indeed, they have already begun to develop a plausible cover story. The otherwise lightweight Paul Ryan of Wisconsin spent his virtually unopposed election effort telling the people of Wisconsin that the IRS are a bunch of thugs and that they tax code is is outrageously unfair. He gives no specifics, and that is because, I would guess, he has been instructed to be very careful not to. If the victorious Republicans are to pull this legerdemain off, they are going to have to pull off the misdirection play of the century. They will have to convince an electorate already suffering from an income inequality not seen in America since the 19th century that making it even worse is a good idea. Or, more likely, they are going to have to disguise that outcome in some package filled with righteous rage at the damage being done to that same electorate by a present system already egregiously imbalanced in favor of the moneyed interests.
They have the reins, and they have the options. The campaign rhetoric is over, and the post-election rhetoric has already begun. My recommendation: buy earplugs. By their deeds we will know them. I have a feeling I won’t be joining the GOP anytime soon.