Archive for the ‘Trump (Donald’ Category

The Choice Trump’s Budget Creates

February 28, 2017

OpEdNews Op Eds 2/27/2017 at 19:53:08

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Trump proposes to increase U.S. military spending by $54 billion, and to take that $54 billion out of the other portions of the above budget, including in particular, he says, foreign aid. If you can’t find foreign aid on the chart above, that’s because it is a portion of that little dark green slice called International Affairs. To take $54 billion out of foreign aid, you would have to cut foreign aid by approximately 200 percent.

Alternative math!

But let’s not focus on the $54 billion. The blue section above (in the 2015 budget) is already 54% of discretionary spending (that is, 54% of all the money that the U.S. government chooses what to do with every year). It’s already 60% if you add in Veterans’ Benefits. (We should take care of everyone, of course, but we wouldn’t have to take care of amputations and brain injuries from wars if we stopped having the wars.) Trump wants to shift another 5% to the military, boosting that total to 65%.

Now I’d like to show you a ski slope that Denmark is opening on the roof of a clean power plant — a clean power plant that cost 0.06% of Trump’s military budget.

Ski Plant
(image by License DMCA Details
Trump’s pretense that he’s going to just screw the no-good foreigners by taking $54 billion out of foreign aid is misleading on many levels. First, that kind of money just isn’t there. Second, foreign aid actually makes the United States safer, unlike all the “defense” spending that endangers us. Third, the $700 billion that Trump wants to borrow and blow on militarism every year would not only get us close in 8 years to wasting directly (without considering missed opportunities, interest payments, etc.) the same $6 trillion that Trump laments blowing on recent failed wars (unlike his imaginary successful wars), but that same $700 billion is more than enough to transform domestic and foreign spending alike.

It would cost about $30 billion per year to end starvation and hunger around the world. It would cost about $11 billion per year to provide the world with clean water. These are massive projects, but these costs as projected by the United Nations are tiny fractions of U.S. military spending. This is why the top way in which military spending kills is not with any weapon, but purely through the diversion of resources.

For similar fractions of military spending, the United States could radically improve U.S. lives in each of those other areas in that pie chart. What would you say to free, top-quality education for anyone who wants it from preschool through college, plus free job-training as needed in career changes? Would you object to free clean energy? Free fast trains to everywhere? Beautiful parks? These are not wild dreams. These are the sorts of things you can have for this kind of money, money that radically dwarfs the money hoarded by billionaires.

If those sorts of things were provided equally to all, without any bureaucracy needed to distinguish the worthy from the unworthy, popular opposition to them would be minimal. And so might be opposition to foreign aid.

U.S. foreign aid right now is about $25 billion a year. Taking it up to $100 billion would have a number of interesting impacts, including the saving of a great many lives and the prevention of a tremendous amount of suffering. It would also, if one other factor were added, make the nation that did it the most beloved nation on earth. A December 2014 Gallup poll of 65 nations found that the United States was far and away the most feared country, the country considered the largest threat to peace in the world. Were the United States responsible for providing schools and medicine and solar panels, the idea of anti-American terrorist groups would be as laughable as anti-Switzerland or anti-Canada terrorist groups, especially if one other factor were added: if the $100 billion came from the military budget. People don’t appreciate the schools you give them as much if you’re bombing them.

Instead of investing in all good things, foreign and domestic, Trump is proposing to cut them in order to invest in war. New Haven, Connecticut, just passed a resolution urging Congress to reduce the military budget, cut spending on wars and move funds to human needs. Every town, county, and city should be passing a similar resolution.

If people stopped dying in war, we would all still die of war spending.

War is not needed in order to maintain our lifestyle, as the saying goes. And wouldn’t that be reprehensible if it were true? We imagine that for 4 percent of humanity to go on using 30 percent of the world’s resources we need war or the threat of war. But the earth has no shortage of sunlight or wind. Our lifestyles can be improved with less destruction and less consumption. Our energy needs must be met in sustainable ways, or we will destroy ourselves, with or without war. That’s what’s meant by unsustainable.

So, why continue an institution of mass killing in order to prolong the use of exploitative behaviors that will ruin the earth if war doesn’t do it first? Why risk the proliferation of nuclear and other catastrophic weapons in order to continue catastrophic impacts on the earth’s climate and ecosystems?

Isn’t it time we made a choice: war or everything else?

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David Swanson is the author of “When the World Outlawed War,” “War Is A Lie” and “Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union.” He blogs at and and works for the online (more…)

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February 14, 2017

Five faces of dystopia
Never before has a government been so completely fused with business.


By Paul Buchheit – February 14, 2017 | Op-Ed 1 Comment 171
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Based on reliable news sources, his biographer, and his own writings, the most powerful man of his era has been referred to as an “egomaniac” and “narcissist,” possessing a “big mouth” with an “impulsive style,” unable to differentiate between truth and falsehood, preferring emotion over facts, focused on national greatness and law & order, fearful of “foreignization,” prone to coarseness and put-downs in speeches, and fond of “mantralike phrases” filled with “accusations, vows of revenge and promises for the future.”


The man described above is Adolf Hitler. All of the descriptions were attributed to the Nazi leader: some of it by news media in the 1930s, some of it by modern historian and biographer Volker Ullrich, some of it by Hitler himself in “Mein Kampf.” Eerily familiar to the present day.


Donald Trump placed a painting of Andrew Jackson in the Oval Office, apparently feeling pleased that, in his own words, “a lot of people they compare the campaign of Trump with the campaign of [Jackson].”

Andrew Jackson may have been our most racist president. To him, Native Americans were only ‘savages’ standing in the way of progress. For ten years Jackson arranged ‘treaties’ with Indians in the American southeast, setting up his own friends as land agents, traders, and surveyors while encouraging white squatters to take over the land. Eventually recognizing Florida as vital to “national security,” he initiated raids on Seminole villages, burning down homes and forcing out residents, all in the name of the “immutable laws of self-defense.” The result was a Trail of Tears that led thousands of sick and starving Cherokees across the Mississippi in the middle of winter to unfamiliar and unproductive land far from their home.

Indian removal, according to Jackson, would help the Native Americans to “cast off their savage habits and become an interesting, civilized, and Christian community.” He hypocritically added, “Say to the chiefs and warriors that I am their friend…[their land] they shall possess as long as grass grows or water runs.”

Jackson didn’t reserve his enmity for Native Americans alone. He was the only president to have driven a “coffle” of chained slaves to work in faraway locations. As a reward for returning one of his runaway slaves, he promised: “ten dollars extra, for every hundred lashes any person will give him.”


Ronald Reagan said, “Government is the problem.” Donald Trump said, “Good people don’t go into government.”

There are other similarities, many of them reported by historian William E. Leuchtenburg, author of “The American President: From Teddy Roosevelt to Bill Clinton.” Says Leuchtenburg, “No one had ever entered the White House so grossly ill-informed.” A Reagan presidential aide remarked, “He made decisions like an ancient king…passively letting his subjects serve him, selecting only those morsels of public policy that were especially tasty.”

Reagan provided entertaining moments that Trump is beginning to emulate with newer technology. According to Indiana congressman Lee Hamilton, during a meeting on the MX missile “Reagan’s only contribution throughout the entire hour and a half was to interrupt somewhere at midpoint to tell us he’d watched a movie the night before.” On the day before a global summit meeting he was given a briefing book, which he never opened, and when asked about it by chief of staff James Baker, Reagan replied, “Well, Jim, The Sound of Music was on last night.” Reagan had his movies, Trump his TV. He watches it for hours, apparently searching narcissistically for news about himself, and then at times turning it into official policy. According to Fortune, “At least five times since he took office on Jan. 20, Trump has tweeted about policy ideas and thoughts that seem directly related to news that was being shown on channels such as Fox News.”

Through the 1980s, Reagan’s staff “protected him by severely restricting situations where he might blurt out a fantasy” while “keeping the press at shouting distance or beyond.” Yet he “alarmed members of his staff by flying into a rage if the press reported that he had changed his position on an issue, even when he undoubtedly had.” More similarities to the present day.


Stalin destroyed not only people, but also the environment. In “An Environmental History of Russia,” it is stated that “During the Stalin era, state-mandated programs…ensured that economic development was the sine qua non of decision making. Those who stood in the way of the programs…were often labeled ‘wreckers.’ The ‘wreckers’ included some of the nation’s most able biologists, forestry and fisheries specialists, agronomists, and ecologists. Officials…came to consider nature itself an ‘enemy of the people.’”

“We cannot expect charity from nature,” said Stalin. “We must tear it from her.”

Donald Trump has shown the same disdain for the earth with statements like “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” His new Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is an obfuscating climate change denier whose company, Exxon, has been linked to the great majority of other climate change deniers.


Historian Kevin Kruse might be providing some insight into Donald Trump’s mind in his summation of Warren G. Harding, considered by many to be the worst president: “He felt woefully under-qualified for the job…so he surrounded himself with old friends…who themselves were unqualified for the jobs they held and many of them corrupt.”

Historian Eric Foner goes on to discuss Harding’s and Coolidge’s corruption in office, and their penchant for “channeling money and favors to big business.” The two presidents, says Foner, “slashed income and corporate taxes and supported employers’ campaigns to eliminate unions.”

“Never before,” said the Wall Street Journal at the time, “has a government been so completely fused with business.”

Until the dystopian Trump era.

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World to Trump

January 31, 2017 The World in Action

Mr. Trump…
Sign the Global Open Letter to Donald Trump by entering your information below:

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4,215,010 are united against division, let’s get to 4,500,000
With the Muslim ban, Trump has shown that the worst fears about his Presidency are true. Add your voice to the open letter below to join the resistance — then spread it far and wide:


Dear Mr. Trump,

This is not what greatness looks like.

The world rejects your fear, hate-mongering, and bigotry. We reject your support for torture, your calls for murdering civilians, and your general encouragement of violence. We reject your denigration of women, Muslims, Mexicans, and millions of others who don’t look like you, talk like you, or pray to the same god as you.

Facing your fear we choose compassion. Hearing your despair we choose hope. Seeing your ignorance we choose understanding.

As citizens of the world, we stand united against your brand of division.

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Make it illegal for Trump to start a nuclear war.

January 26, 2017

Meredith, Global Zero via
2:27 PM (1 hour ago)


On the heels of Donald Trump’s inauguration, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists moved up the Doomsday Clock to 2.5 minutes to midnight. The Clock tells us how close the world’s top scientists think humans are to destroying the planet. This is the closest we’ve been since 1953, when the U.S. and Soviet Union were testing hydrogen bombs.

In a statement explaining their decision, the scientists specifically pointed to Donald Trump’s dangerous positions about the use and spread of nuclear weapons. [1]

Help us #RollBackTheClock and demand Congress stop Trump from starting a nuclear war.

We’ve already seen Trump make good on a lot of campaign promises. He’s issued 12 executive orders in 6 days, from censoring scientists to starting his “border wall” to laying the groundwork for a ban on Muslims and refugees. That tells us two things: He won’t hesitate to use the power of the presidency, and every dark promise of the last 18 months must be taken seriously.

When it comes to nuclear weapons, nowhere are his promises darker or his power more absolute.

We’ve plunged into uncertain, dangerous times, and anxiety about nuclear war is higher than ever. But with bold leadership and a rising tide of resistance, we can stop Trump and roll back the Doomsday Clock.

Starting with last weekend’s Women’s March, powerful protests have erupted around the world in response to Trump’s agenda. Our resistance is only beginning: Just this week, two brave members of Congress proposed urgent legislation (“Restricting the First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act,” H.R. 669 & S.200) that can stop Trump from launching a nuclear war on his own. The law requires a Congressional declaration of war before nuclear weapons can be used, except in response to an incoming nuclear attack. In other words, it would limit Trump’s ability to impulsively light the world on fire and move us back from Doomsday.

Click here to urge your member of Congress to support the “Restricting the First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act.”

We have a lot of work to do, and at 2-and-a-half minutes to midnight, time is not on our side. We can immediately limit Trump’s power and rein in this threat — but only if we act quickly and with resolve.

Meredith Horowski

P.S. — If you can chip in right now, it would be a huge help in the many battles ahead.

[1] – “Thanks to Trump, the Doomsday Clock Advances Towards Midnight,” New York Time:

Sent by GLOBAL ZERO | 1342 Florida Avenue NW | Washington, DC 20009 USA

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Defeating the White House Refusal to Accept Comments

January 24, 2017

David Swanson via via
12:03 PM (5 minutes ago)

The White House has stopped accepting comments by phone or email.

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Why Impeach Donald Trump

January 23, 2017

David Swanson via via
11:23 PM (33 minutes ago)

to me
Why Impeach Donald Trump

By David Swanson,

What are the grounds for impeachment?

They will likely be piling up rapidly. President Trump did use Day 1 to advise the CIA that the United States should have stolen all of Iraq’s oil. But here is a place to start. We already have a president who is violating two clauses in the U.S. Constitution, one forbidding any gifts or benefits from foreign governments, the other forbidding the same from the U.S. government or any U.S. state. This is the result of Donald Trump refusing to separate himself from major business interests as past presidents have done. Those interests will also inevitably involve Trump in violating the STOCK Act which forbids the use of non-public government information to make a private profit.

Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution states: “The President … shall not receive … any other emolument from the United States, or any of them.” This means that the President cannot receive personal financial gains from the United States government or from the governments of any of the 50 states while he is president. This restriction is absolute and cannot be waived by Congress. Trump is already in violation of it and will be more so with every law, rule, regulation, enforcement, or lack thereof that his subordinates, Congress, or any agency of the federal government enacts to the benefit of Trump’s businesses and possessions.

For example, Trump’s lease of the Old Post Office Building violates an explicit clause in the General Services Administration lease contract which states: “No … elected official of the Government of the United States … shall be admitted to any share or part of this Lease, or to any benefit that may arise therefrom.” The GSA’s failure to enforce that contract is an unconstitutional benefit to Trump.

Or, to take a state-level example: since 1980 Trump and his businesses have garnered “$885 million in tax breaks, grants and other subsidies for luxury apartments, hotels and office buildings in New York.” Continuing or increasing those subsidies puts Trump in violation of the Constitution.

Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution says that “no person holding any office of profit or trust under [the United States government], shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.” This is essentially the same ban as above, but applied to foreign governments.

The Trump Organization has licensing deals with two Trump Towers in Istanbul. Trump himself says, “I have a little conflict of interest, because I have a major, major building in Istanbul.” China’s state-owned Industrial and Commercial Bank of China is the largest tenant in Trump Tower. It is also a major lender to Trump. Its rent payments and its loans put Trump in violation of the Constitution. Foreign diplomats have begun shifting their D.C. hotel and event reservations to Trump International Hotel. The Embassy of Kuwait was reportedly pressured by the Trump Organization to do so. Pressured or not, Kuwait’s business at a Trump hotel puts Trump in violation of the highest law of the land.

In November, there were reports (denied by Trump) that Trump had asked the president of Argentina for help with a building permit in Buenos Aires. Whether he did or not, and whether he receives that help or not, President Trump will be frequently granted or denied similar approval for his business ventures from numerous foreign and domestic governments.

Why punish a successful business man?

We can set aside the legality and morality of Trump’s business success, and the question of how successful he has been. A campaign to impeach him for his violations of the Constitution can hold the position that Trump is perfectly welcome to keep all of his businesses and loans. He just cannot simultaneously hold an office in which they create gross violations of the U.S. Constitution. Past presidents have sold off their assets or placed them in a blind trust. A blind trust would not, however, be blind for Trump who would inevitably learn of the approval of new towers or the sale of properties. Selling (and using a truly blind trust to do so) was Trump’s only option other than not being president. He chose not to take his only Constitutional choice.

Is this partisanship?

A great many people do anything political for partisan reasons. As I’m unable to put an end to that, it is inevitable that people will favor or oppose impeaching Trump for partisan reasons. But they need not. The above charges against Trump are unprecedented. They should apply to him and any future presidents who engage in the same abuses, regardless of party. Someone who voted for Trump as a way out of corruption should want him impeached as much as someone who voted against him for the same reason. Trump is now the worst possible “insider” — using public office for personal greed.

Is this morally worse than Secretary of State Hillary Clinton taking Saudi government and Boeing funds into her family foundation, and then working to waive legal restrictions on Boeing selling weapons to Saudi Arabia — weapons now being used to slaughter innocents? Some will think so and others not, largely along partisan lines. Personally I’m in favor of impeaching Clinton, Obama, and George W. Bush right now and imposing the penalties of a bar on holding future office and a denial of retirement benefits. But those efforts are simply not the same priority today as halting the presidency of the current president.

When I advocated for impeaching Bush I explained that if he was not held accountable his successors would expand further the abusive powers he had expanded. When I argued that Obama was in fact doing this and should be impeached, I was generally called worse things than partisan. But the longer presidents are allowed to act without a check on their powers, the more they will expand and abuse them. Numerous government officials and members of Congress would best serve the world by resigning. But the place to start is with an unprecedented and unique form and level of corruption in the single highest office in the land.

Is this personal?

A great many people focus their political interest on personalities rather than policies. They forbid themselves to praise a good action by a politician who mostly makes bad ones, or to condemn a bad one by a hero. They make heroes of whoever is not their enemy, and vice versa. They place greater importance on whether they’d like to be friends with someone than on whether that person will benefit or harm the world. Because I lack the strength to change this, many will support or oppose impeaching Trump based on whether they consider him obnoxious or inspiring. They shouldn’t and need not. President Obama oversaw activities that would have horrified his supporters had they not been so focused on his style. History does not look kindly on the impeachment of Bill Clinton for personal flaws, something the majority of the public opposed — while there were much better grounds on which to have impeached him. (History may also frown on Congress’s refusal to even attempt to impeach George W. Bush, something the majority of the public supported.)

Is the point to make Mike Pence president?

The question of who is worse, the president or the vice president, is a very different question from this one: Who is worse, President Trump in an era of total unchecked power and immunity, or President Pence in an age of popular sovereignty with the threat of impeachment looming behind every high-crime-and-misdemeanor that comes up for consideration by the White House? I believe changing the office of the presidency into one that can be lost for substantive crimes and abuses — a radical change from its current state — would be more significant than the personality, ideology, or party of the presidents who come next. I believe part of that significance would derive from the benefits of building the movement that imposes impeachment on a corrupt and partisan and reluctant Congress. Cultural change comes principally from movement building, and very little from the personalities of elected officials.

Why not impeach Trump for being a Russian agent?

Both an impeachment in the U.S. House of Representatives and a trial in the Senate will require public evidence. The case made above relies on readily available and public evidence in great abundance that will grow daily, and may very well come to include benefits from the Russian government.

In contrast, if there exists any evidence of the Russian government hacking Democratic emails or of the Russian government giving those emails to WikiLeaks, it has not been made public. If there exists any evidence of Trump being complicit in those actions, it has not been made public. You may suspect that such evidence exists. If so, it could certainly become the basis for additional articles of impeachment once it is produced. Meanwhile the content of the DNC emails could arguably form part of the basis for a case against current or former civil officers among Democrats involved in manipulating their own primary.

Why not impeach Trump for helping to destroy the earth’s climate, or many other reasons?

I’m in favor of it, yes. But it should wait at least a week or two to allow the damage to accumulate. Removing all mention of climate change from the White House website is not sufficient. And the case will never be as easy a sell to the House of Misrepresentatives. The Constitution does not prohibit destroying the earth’s climate, unless we so interpret the preamble — or so interpret the mythical language that a militarized government has rumored to exist in the Constitution creating a presidential duty to protect the country from danger.

Impeachment is a political process. Individuals and cities and towns and organizations can demand it. Representatives can pursue it. We can impeach for continuing or accelerating the destruction of our natural environment, even if presidential predecessors did the same or similar. We can impeach for war or torture or drone murders or warrantless spying or proclaiming the needs to steal oil or kill families or ban Muslims, or for any form of discrimination or cruelty that we find sufficiently intolerable. And I wish we would. But which charges can clear the hurdles of the House Judiciary, the full House, and the Senate is not a simple moral question.

Why impeach Trump when he could prevent war with Russia?

Yes, Trump seems to favor deescalating the dangerous cold war created under Obama. He may favor this for corrupt or environmentally destructive reasons. Regardless, any steps away from confrontations with nuclear governments are highly desirable. But Trump’s vision is one of greater, not lesser, militarism. His preferred targets just don’t include Russia. And impeaching Trump for abusing his power hardly sends a message to future presidents that they should pursue more wars. Holding one president accountable creates a certain level of accountability in the entire government going forward. And that tends to move us away from war, not toward it.

Is the point to empower the CIA and the corporate media?

That might be the point of going after Trump over Russian hacking rumors. The result might be a failure to impeach if there is no evidence. It might be greater hostility with Russia. And it might be a feather in the cap of a couple of institutions worthy of mountains of scorn. But these are not issues when Trump is impeached for public offenses visible to the naked eye with no spying or journalism required.

Do you really think Congress will impeach a president?

Yes, it certainly might, especially as the evidence of high-crimes-and-misdemeanors accumulates and Trump’s popularity sinks even lower than its current record level — an effect that just opening an impeachment process has usually contributed to (Bill Clinton’s unpopular impeachment being an exception to the rule). But even an unsuccessful impeachment, like Truman’s or Nixon’s can have seriously beneficial results, including ending the abuses for which Truman was almost impeached, and ending the war and presidency of Nixon.

Do you really think everything is normal and nothing radical is needed?

I think all potentially useful strategies are desperately needed and that impeachment is one of them. Others are marches, sit-ins, petitions, media production, legislation, strikes, refusals to cooperate with illegal actions, protection of those in danger, peace initiatives, local and global moves toward sustainable economies, boycotts, divestments, foreign exchanges, art work, parades, etc., etc. But a nonviolent movement seeking to overturn an abusive government would fantasize about an impeachment provision if it didn’t exist. It’s the best gift that the drafters of the Constitution gave us. Much of the rest of the document is horribly out of date, and many of the best parts of it are routinely violated. Continuing to neglect the power of impeachment would be a terrible waste.

Do you really think something as radical as impeachment is needed?

I think it’s needed in much less extreme situations than this one. If it’s not needed now, when would it be?

Wouldn’t our time be better spent holding marches or blocking pipelines or burning limos or educating children or building a new party or designing bunkers or . . . ?

Yes, there are lots of good ideas and bad. I’d like to see all of the good ones pursued, with people putting their energies where their passions and talents lie. But we cannot ignore an out of control government. Taking it (not “taking it back” since we never had it) has to be high on our list of priorities. It is still what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said it was 50 years ago this spring: the greatest purveyor of violence on earth. Leaving that entity in the hands of an attention-starved man who wants primarily to personally profit from it is playing with fire.

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Comment: We, with 4 billion year life of genes, are equal and free (familiar with all). We with all other species, who are also 4 billion years old, should not be slaves of Trump, Putin, Kim, et al. 99.9999@ of living beings must wake up and work for 100% life into future, avoiding nuclear holocaust, global warming, mass extinction, etc.

Impeach any despot, who pretends to be a leader of all, like South Korea did. No one should monopolize the limitless life, light, liberation, love!


Noam Chomsky: Trump and Our Resistance

December 30, 2016


Noam Chomsky. (photo: Andrew Rusk/Flickr) go to original article

By Jacobin
28 December 16

Noam Chomsky on progressive reform, Fidel Castro, and building resistance under Donald Trump.
s he approaches ninety years old, Noam Chomsky’s bibliography just keeps expanding. Fortunately for the international left, he also continues giving interviews.

Earlier this month, less than a week before his eighty-eighth birthday, Chomsky sat down for a conversation at his office in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Interviewed by Vaios Triantafyllou, a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, Chomsky discussed everything from socialism, human nature, and the Adam Smith to the US president-elect. (The transcript has been condensed and edited for clarity.)

As Donald Trump fills out his Cabinet, Chomsky allows that the future could be one of bigotry and scapegoating. But the choice is still up to us: “Whether that could succeed,” Chomsky says of divide-and-conquer tactics, “depends on the kind of resistance that will be mounted by people just like you.”

How should socialists think about the relationship between reforms that humanize the existing system of production (as proposed by Sanders) and the long-term goal of abolishing capitalism altogether?

Well, first of all we should recognize that, like most terms of political discourse, socialism has more or less lost its meaning. Socialism used to mean something. If you go back far enough, it meant basically control of production by producers, elimination of wage labor, democratization of all spheres of life; production, commerce, education, media, workers’ control in factories, community control of communities, and so on. That was socialism once.

But it hasn’t meant that for a hundred years. In fact, what were called the socialist countries were the most anti-socialist systems in the world. Workers had more rights in the United States and England than they had in Russia, and it was somehow still called socialism.

As far as Bernie Sanders is concerned, he is a decent, honest person, and I supported him. What he means by socialism is New Deal liberalism. In fact, his actual policies would not have been a great surprise to General Eisenhower. The fact that this is called a political revolution is a sign of how far to the right the political spectrum has shifted, mainly in the last thirty years, since the neoliberal programs began to be instituted. What he was calling for was a restoration of something like New Deal liberalism, which is a very good thing.

So, going to your question, I think we should ask: should people who care about human beings, and their lives and concerns, seek to humanize the existing system of production by the means you describe? And the answer is, sure they should do that, that’s better for people.

Should they set out the long-term goal of abolishing capitalist economic organization altogether? Sure, I think so. It’s had its achievements, but it is based on quite brutal assumptions, anti-human assumptions. The very idea that there should be a certain class of people who give orders by virtue of their ownership of wealth and another huge class who take orders and follow them because of their lack of access to wealth and power, that’s unacceptable.

So, sure it should be abolished. But those are not alternatives. Those are things you do together.

One of the main arguments used against socialism is that human nature is by definition selfish and competitive, and hence is only conducive to capitalism. How would you respond?

Bear in mind that capitalism is a tiny period of human society. We never really had capitalism, we always had one or another variant of state capitalism. The reason is capitalism would self-destruct in no time. So the business classes have always demanded strong state intervention to protect the society from the destructive effect of market forces. It’s often business that it’s in the lead, because they don’t want everything destroyed.

So we’ve had one or another form of state capitalism during an extremely brief period of human history, and it tells us essentially nothing about human nature. If you look at human societies and human interactions, you can find anything. You find selfishness, you find altruism, you find sympathy.

Let’s take Adam Smith, the patron saint of capitalism — what did he think? He thought the main human instinct was sympathy. In fact, take a look at the word “invisible hand.” Take a look at the actual way in which he used the phrase. Actually, it’s not hard to find out, because he only used it twice in any relevant sense, once in each of his two major books.

In his one major book, The Wealth of Nations, the phrase appears once, and it appears in what amounts to a critique of neoliberal globalization. What he says is that, if in England, the manufacturers and merchants invested abroad and imported from abroad, they might benefit, but it would be harmful to England. But their commitment to their home country is sufficient, so they are unlikely to do this and therefore, by an invisible hand, England will be saved from the impact of what we call neoliberal globalization. That’s one use.

The other use is in his other major book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (which people don’t read much, but for him it was the major book). Here he is an egalitarian, he believed in equality of outcome, not opportunity. He is an Enlightenment figure, pre-capitalist.

He says, suppose in England, one landowner got most of the land and other people would have nothing to live on. He says it wouldn’t matter much, because the rich landowner, by virtue of his sympathy for other people would distribute resources among them, so that by an invisible hand, we would end up with a pretty egalitarian society. That’s his conception of human nature.

That’s not the way “invisible hand” is used by the people who you took courses with or whose books you read. That shows a difference in doctrine, not in fact, about human nature. What we actually know about human nature is that it has all of these possibilities.

Do you think it’s necessary to sketch out concrete proposals for a future socialist order, creating a solid alternative that appeals to the majority of people?

I think people are interested in authentic long-term socialist goals (which are not what is usually called socialism). They should be thinking through carefully how the projected society should work, not in extensive detail, because a lot of things just have to be learned by experiment, and we don’t know enough to plan societies in detail by any means. But general guidelines could be worked out, and many of the specific problems can be discussed.

And that should just be part of people’s popular consciousness. That’s how a transition to socialism could take place. When it becomes part of the awareness, consciousness, and aspirations of the large majority of the population.

So, take for example one of the major achievements in this direction, maybe the major one: the anarchist revolution in Spain in 1936. There had been decades of preparation for that: in education, in activism and efforts — sometimes beaten back — but when the moment came with the fascist attack, the people had in their minds the way they wanted the society to be organized.

We have seen it in other ways, too. Take, say, Europe’s reconstruction after the Second World War. The Second World War had really devastating effects for much of Europe. But it really didn’t take them very long to reconstruct state capitalist democracies because it was in people’s heads.

There were other parts of the world that were pretty much devastated, and they couldn’t do it. They didn’t have the conceptions in their mind. A lot of it is human consciousness.

Syriza came to power claiming a commitment to socialism. But they ended up cooperating with the European Union, and didn’t step down even after they were forced to implement austerity. How do you think we can avoid a similar outcome in the future?

I think the real tragedy of Greece, aside from the savagery of the European bureaucracy, Brussels bureaucracy, and Northern banks, which was really savage, is the Greek crisis didn’t have to erupt. It could have been taken care of pretty easily at the very beginning.

But it happened, and Syriza came into office with a declared commitment to combat it. In fact they actually called a referendum, which horrified Europe: the idea that people should be allowed to decide something about their own fate is just anathema to European elites — how can democracy even be permitted (even in the country where it was created).

As a result of this criminal act of asking people what they want, Greece was punished even further. The demands of the Troika got much harsher because of the referendum. They were fearing a kind of domino effect — if we pay attention to people’s desires, others might get the same idea, and the plague of democracy might actually spread, so we have to kill it right away at the roots.

Then Syriza did succumb, and ever since then they have done things that I think are quite unacceptable.

You ask how people should respond? By creating something better. It’s not easy, especially when they are isolated. Greece, alone, is in a very vulnerable position. If the Greeks had had support from progressive left and popular forces elsewhere in Europe, they might have been able to resist the demands of the Troika.

What is your opinion of the system Castro created in Cuba after the revolution?

Well, what Castro’s actual goals were, we don’t actually know. He was sharply constrained from the first moment, by a harsh and cruel attack from the reigning superpower.

We have to remember that literally within months after his taking office, the planes from Florida were beginning to bomb Cuba. Within a year, the Eisenhower administration, secretly, but formally, determined [the US would] overthrow the government. Then came the Bay of Pigs invasion. The Kennedy administration was furious about the failure of the invasion, and immediately launched a major terrorist war, economic war that got harsher through the years.

Under these conditions it is kind of amazing that Cuba survived. It is a small island right offshore of a huge superpower which is trying to destroy it, and obviously depended on the United States for survival all of its recent history. But somehow they survived. It was true that it was a dictatorship: a lot of brutality, a lot of political prisoners, a lot of people killed.

Remember, the US attack on Cuba was ideologically presented as necessary to defend ourselves from Russia. As soon as Russia disappeared, the attack got harsher. There was almost no comment on that, but it tells you that the preceding claims were just an outright lie, as of course they were.

If you look at US internal documents, they explain very clearly what the threat of Cuba was. So back in the early ’60s, the State Department described the threat of Cuba as Castro’s successful defiance of US policy, going back to the Monroe Doctrine. The Monroe Doctrine established the claim — they couldn’t implement it at the time, but the claim — to dominate the Western Hemisphere, and Castro was successfully defying that.

That’s not tolerable. It is like somebody saying, let’s have democracy in Greece, and we just can’t tolerate that, so we have to destroy the threat at its roots. Nobody can successfully defy the master of the hemisphere, in fact of the world, hence the savagery.

But the reaction was mixed. There were achievements, like health, literacy, and so on. The internationalism was incredible. There is a reason why Nelson Mandela went to Cuba to praise Castro and thank the Cuban people almost as soon as he got out of jail. That’s a Third World reaction, and they understand it.

Cuba played an enormous role in the liberation of Africa and the overthrow of apartheid — sending doctors and teachers to the poorest places in the world, to Haiti, Pakistan after the earthquake, almost everywhere. The internationalism is just astonishing. I don’t think there has been anything like it in history.

The health achievements were astonishing. Health statistics in Cuba were about like the United States, and take a look at the differences in wealth and power.

On the other hand, there was a harsh dictatorship. So there was both.

Transition to socialism? We cannot even talk about this. The conditions made it impossible, and we don’t know if there was an intention.

In recent years, several movements have sprung up in the US criticizing the current form of social and economic organization. Nevertheless, most of them have united against a common enemy, instead of uniting around a common vision. How should we think about the state of social movements and their ability to unite?

Let’s take the Occupy movement. Occupy was not a movement, it was a tactic. You can’t sit forever in a park near Wall Street. You can’t do it for more than a few months.

It was a tactic I had not predicted. If people had asked me, I would have said, don’t do it.

But it was a great success, an enormous success, with a big impact on people’s thinking, on people’s action. The whole concept of concentration of wealth (1 percent and 99 percent), it was there of course, at the background of people’s understanding, but it became prominent — even became prominent in the mass media (in the Wall Street Journal, for example) — and it led to many forms of activism, it energized people and so on. But it wasn’t a movement.

The Left, in a general sense, is very much atomized. We live in highly atomized societies. People are pretty much alone: it’s you and your iPad.

The major organizing centers, like the labor movement, have been severely weakened, in the United States very severely, by policy. It didn’t happen like a hurricane. Policies have been designed to undermine working-class organization, and the reason is not only that unions fight for workers’ rights, but they also have a democratizing effect. These are institutions in which people without power can get together, support one another, learn about the world, try out their ideas, initiate programs — and that’s dangerous. That’s like a referendum in Greece. It’s dangerous to allow that.

We should recall that during the Second World War and the Depression, there was an upsurge in popular, radical democracy, all over the world. It took different forms, but it was there, everywhere.

In Greece it was the Greek revolution. And it had to be crushed. In countries like Greece, it was crushed by violence. In countries like Italy, where the US/ British forces entered in 1943, it was crushed by attacking and destroying the anti-German partisans and restoring the traditional order. In countries like the United States, it was crushed not by violence — capitalist power doesn’t have that capacity here — but starting in the late ’40s, huge efforts were undertaken to try to undermine and destroy the labor movement. And it went on.

It picked up sharply under Reagan, it picked up again under Clinton, and by now the labor movement is extremely weak (in other countries, it’s taken different forms). But that was one of the institutions which did let people come together to act cooperatively and with mutual support, and others have been pretty much decimated as well.

What can we expect from Donald Trump? Does his rise provide ground for redefining and uniting a socialist movement around a common vision in the United States?

The answer to that is basically up to you and your friends. It really depends on how people, especially young people, react. There are plenty of opportunities, and they could be taken. It is not inevitable by any means.

Just take what is likely to happen. Trump is highly unpredictable. He doesn’t know what he plans. But what might happen, for example, one possible scenario is this: a lot of people who voted for Trump, working-class people, voted for Obama in 2008. They were seduced by the slogans “hope” and “change.” They didn’t get hope, they didn’t get change, they were disillusioned.

This time they voted for another candidate who is calling for hope and change and has promised to deliver all kinds of amazing things. Well, he is not going to deliver them. So, what happens in a couple of years, when he hasn’t delivered them and that same constituency is disillusioned?

What’s very likely is that the power system will do what it typically does under such conditions: try to scapegoat the more vulnerable to say, “Yeah, you haven’t gotten what we promised, and the reason is those worthless people, the Mexicans, the blacks, the Syrian immigrants, the welfare cheats. They are the ones who are destroying everything. Let’s go after them. The gays, they are the ones to blame.”

That could happen. It’s happened over and over in history with pretty ugly consequences. And whether that could succeed depends on the kind of resistance that will be mounted by people just like you. The answer to this question should be directed to you, not to me.

“Let it be an arms race:” The Nuclear Nighmare holds the world hostage

December 27, 2016

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OpEdNews Op Eds 12/27/2016 at 16:38:47

By dale ruff Message dale ruff Permalink Headlined to H2 12/27/16
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The Cold War for Kids: Arms Race
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It would take only a few hundred nukes to kill almost all the people on earth, who live on 12% of the landmass. The US has more than enough to annihilate humanity many times over…..more nukes does not mean more safety but more risk.

“A recently declassified document shared by nuclear historian Alex Wellerstein gives the verdict that scientists at the Los Alamos laboratory and test site reached in 1945. They found that “it would require only in the neighborhood of 10 to 100 Supers of this type” to put the human race in peril.”

Today’s bombs are incredibly more lethal. North Korea has deterred attacks with only a handful of nukes, but enough to wipe out Seoul and Tokyo. The beneficiaries of more nukes is the military/industrial complex which trades the risk of annihilation for more profits.

War is a racket (Smedley Butler).Never forget that essential fact.

The CBO has been banned from making a cost estimate on the Nuclear Modernization Act, meaning a blank check for the merchants of death. In all other nuclear nations, nuclear capacity will be increased as a response to an obvious threat.


DoD Wire
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As a Chrismas present to the world, a few days ago, a man not yet President and lacking popular support, brought into focus the threat of nuclear annihilation in one tweet: “Let it be an arms race.”

This was in response to the game of ego-driven chicken he was playing with Putin who had warned that Russia could not be defeated with nuclear threats, from NATO, the US, or anywhere. I decided to look into the scale of the terror that Trump has unleashed, as tho waking up from one of the recurrent nightmares of my youth that indeed, nuclear war had started. Below I explore the scale of the threat and the rationality of the fear.

One current nuclear bomb has the force of 15,000 kilotons, compared to the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, which had 15.

So the current active US arsenal of 2000 bombs had this much more force than the first bomb dropped: 2000 x 15000 =30 million kilotons. This is enough to flatten 2 million large cities. This is enough to kill every living thing on earth.

Why would anyone in his right mind think it makes sense to have more capacity?

Here is the kind of “defense” that Trump supporters are promoting (from OEN discussion forum): “These statements about upgrading nuclear arsenals could be jockeying for eventual arms reduction negotiations.”

This brings to mind Einstein’s insight that “You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war.”


Albert Einstein quotes – Quote Coyote page 2
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Against this insight is the Nixon Madman Theory which Trump has adopted: “I call it the Madman Theory, Bob (Haldeman) . I want the North Vietnamese to believe I’ve reached the point where I might do anything to stop the war. We’ll just slip the word to them that, “for God’s sake, you know Nixon is obsessed about communism. We can’t restrain him when he’s angry–and he has his hand on the nuclear button” and Ho Chi Minh himself will be in Paris in two days begging for peace.”


The man who inspires Trump to use the Madman Theory…….

“In October 1969, the Nixon administration indicated to the Soviet Union that “the madman was loose” when the United States military was ordered to full global war readiness alert (unbeknownst to the majority of the American population), and bombers armed with thermonuclear weapons flew patterns near the Soviet border for three consecutive days” Wikipedia

If Trump had been reading history instead of Hitler’s speeches, he might have realized that the Madman theory led only to more slaughter, never to peace.

“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Santayana

Those who defend state terrorism fail to understand that it is not only the tool of Tyrants but leads to death and destruction.

Why would anyone in his right mind support a man who wants more capacity to destroy the earth not 30 times but more? To argue that this is a “negotiating tactic” is like claiming a man brandishing an assault weapon is negotiating.

Hiroshima after the bomb
Hiroshima after the bomb
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150,000 died in Hiroshima, almost all women, children, the elderly, and the wounded. Today, we have the power to destroy 2 million Hiroshimas….do we need more?

It is not the people but the new Trump regime which seeks to reverse the decline in nuclear weapons and begin an arms race.

” In a 2002 CCFR survey, 22% of Americans said that the US should never use nuclear weapons under any circumstances, 55% said only in response to a nuclear attack, and 21% said that in certain circumstances, the US should use nuclear weapons even if it has not suffered a nuclear attack. These numbers remained remarkably consistent over the next decade, with replies in 2010 being exactly the same 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair Poll found that 35% most fear a nuclear war putting an end to humanity, compared to 23% who worry about a deadly virus, 15% the Rapture, 15% global warming, and 8% an asteroid hitting the Earth.

And to round out the subject, in a 2010 Pew survey 64% approved of Barack’s Obama’s declaration that the US would never use nuclear weapons against a nation that did not have them, but 30% did not want to take that option off the table” source: Roper Center

.Storax Sedan. underground nuclear test – July 1962
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Underground test 1962. The next year, JFK signed the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

Three months later, he was murdered.

So a robust majority of Americans do not support first strike or escalating the risk with threats. This highlights the fact that Trump does not represent most people but a minority which includes those who fear the Rapture more than a Nuclear War.

When the minority takes power and promotes programs that the vast majority oppose, that is tyranny. The only responses are revolution…or surrender.

The Roper article reports: ” A look back into history, however, shows that the idea of starting a nuclear war has not always been unthinkable to many Americans.”

The public has changed its view, but tragically, our new leadership is a step backward towards a world at risk of nuclear annihilation.

As I read the latest book about the assassination of JFK (Mary’s Mosaic), I am reminded that one of the reasons the Pentagon and CIA hated Kennedy enough to kill him was that he had rejected two proposals to use nukes, in Vietnam and against Russia during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The US build-up of nukes reached a peak in 1965 with 31,000 When JFK took office, the stockpile was 18,500. He had led the campaign to end nuclear testing and rejecting using nukes except in self-defense.

On August 5, 1963, after more than eight years of difficult negotiations, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union signed the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

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Three months after the Test Ban Treaty was signed……..the Day that changed history…..all hopes for peace died.

The JFKLibrary reports: “John F. Kennedy had supported a ban on nuclear weapons testing since 1956. He believed a ban would prevent other countries from obtaining nuclear weapons, and took a strong stand on the issue in the 1960 presidential campaign. Once elected, President Kennedy pledged not to resume testing in the air and promised to pursue all diplomatic efforts for a test ban treaty before resuming underground testing. He envisioned the test ban as a first step to nuclear disarmament.”

Three months after signing the Test Ban Treaty, he was murdered.

Months after the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was signed…………

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52 years later, his dreams have been destroyed by a usurper, whose views contradict the views of the American public and 40 years of de-escalation.

At the time of JFK, the USSR only has 8% the nukes of the US, enough to destroy the planet. Under LBJ the US arsenal doubled which provoked the Soviet Union to quadruple its arsenal.

Trump’s tweet to begin a reversal of the nuclear nightmare is a repudiation of the Start Treaty:The (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty)was a bilateral treaty between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) on the reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms. The treaty was signed on 31 July 1991 and entered into force on 5 December 1994.

The New Start Treaty was signed on 8 April 2010 and, after ratification entered into force on 5 February 2011.[1] It is expected to last at least until 2021.”


New START – Wikipedia
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Obama and Medvedev sign Start II to reduce nuclear arms;in the meantime a one trillion moderniation program (no new nukes but expensive new delivery ssystems and upgrades to existing weapons) has been approved, with a blank check, as the CBO was banned from conducting a cost analysis.

Trump, who ran on improving relations with Russia, has announced he will scrap the the New Start Treaty. Incompetence or insanity? Putin does not want an arms race and continues to cut defense. The friendship is a charade, as both men know.

One knee-jerk tweet by a man who 5 months ago did not know what the nuclear triad is, has destroyed the safety provided by the reduction of nuclear weapons. History teaches us that those who rule without consent, without popular support, must rely on force, intimidation, and lies. One of the most effective ways to short-circuit rational thinking is through fear, or state terrorism. We know have a man, unprepared to take power, who is both irrational, impulsive, and ignorant of nuclear strategy and policy. Fear is used to control the masses by Trump, and by activating this fear, has shown, before taking office, and having already angered China, Russia, and their ally Iran, that he will use the threat of state terrorism, backed up by the “negotiating tactic”: of brandishing a world-ending arsenal, that he is a grave danger to all humanity.

Putin’s .Modern Love. – The New Yorker
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The question is: who will restrain him. Will Putin’s careful flattery and moderation calm the waters, or will Trump’s provocations only embolden the hard-liners in Russia, whom Putin has so far restrained? Will the majority of Americans who disapprove of Trump stand up or……………….surrender? Will the legacy of our martyred President Kennedy be once more betrayed by a man intent on proving he has the biggest bombs? Enough not only to destroy the enemy (his friend, Putin) but all humanity many times over?

98% of arms races end in war. What are the chances that a nuclear arms race would defy the odds? It assumes rational leaders: do we have a rational leader, a man who would reverse 40 years of policy in a tweet?

Today I awoke not from a nuclear nightmare but to one. Merry Christmas!

(Article changed on December 27, 2016 at 18:20)

retired, working radical egalitarian/libertarian socialist old school independent, vegan, survivor

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Noam Chomsky: Donald Trump’s Nuclear Expansion Tweet Was “One of the Most Frightening Things I’ve Seen”

December 25, 2016

Noam Chomsky. (photo: Sascha Schuermann/Getty) go to original article

Noam Chomsky: Donald Trump’s Nuclear Expansion Tweet Was “One of the Most Frightening Things I’ve Seen”
By Rachael Revesz, The Independent
24 December 16

The US and Russia already own more than 93 per cent of nuclear warheads in the world
ne of the world’s most famous scholars said he was “frightened” by Donald Trump’s tweet on “strengthening and expanding” nuclear capabilities in the US.

Noam Chomsky, professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said Mr Trump’s tweet was “one of the most frightening things I’ve seen recently”.

“Putin’s is bad enough,” Mr Chomsky told the Huffington Post, “but at least it has a defensive cast. It’s about Russia’s borders, not Mexico’s.”

Russian president Vladimir Putin also said he wanted to build his nuclear capabilities.

“We need to strengthen the military potential of strategic nuclear forces, especially with missile complexes that can reliably penetrate any existing and prospective missile defense systems,” Mr Putin said, according to Agence France-Presse.

“We must carefully monitor any changes in the balance of power and in the political-military situation in the world, especially along Russian borders, and quickly adapt plans for neutralizing threats to our country.”

Mr Chomsky said the statements from the world leaders could bring about a change to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Doomsday Clock, which is an internationally recognised symbol of how close we are to destroying humanity with our own technology – and is due to be updated in 2017. He said the clock might move from three minutes to midnight to “even closer to midnight”.

The professor has been a vocal critic of the president-elect, comparing his campaign pledges and rhetoric to Nazi Germany.

But Mr Chomsky was not the only opposing voice on Mr Trump’s views on nuclear weapons, given the president-elect’s history of dubious statements on the subject.

Mr Trump has previously suggested that South Korea and Japan should obtain their own nuclear weapons, and he has even reportedly asked a foreign policy adviser why the US has nuclear weapons if it does not use them. Mr Trump denied asking the question.

The US owns around 4,600 nuclear warheads and, along with Russia, owns the vast majority of nuclear weapons in the world.

Mr Trump’s tweet, limited to 140 characters, did not give national security experts and advisers much reassurance for anything other than his preference for heated rhetoric.

John Noonan, a Republican national security expert who advised presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney, wrote on twitter: “But imagine having to turn launch keys not knowing if we were under attack or it if was b/c foreign leaders said a mean thing on twitter.”

Mr Trump has done little to assure his critics that he has the presence of mind and the steadiness to make a quick decision regarding an imminent nuclear threat.

If a missile was launched from Russia, it would take 30 minutes to hit the White House – and just 12 minutes from the Atlantic Ocean.


(Japanese translation of the above)

















Preparing for President Trump

December 24, 2016

2016 Presidential ElectionCandidatesRepublicansDonald TrumpPolitics

A 10-point plan for activists, politicians, the press and everyday citizens.

By Peter Dreier – December 24, 2016 | Op-Ed 3 Comments 203
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Many Americans would not be surprised if on Jan. 20 Vladimir Putin administers the oath of office to Donald Trump, the Ku Klux Klan youth choir regales the inaugural crowd with a stirring rendition of “Dixie,” the Chamber of Commerce orchestra performs “Hail to the Chief” and the inaugural party is catered by Carl’s Jr. (whose CEO, billionaire Andrew Puzder, a foe of the minimum wage, is Trump’s nominee for secretary of labor). ExxonMobil (whose CEO, Rex Tillerson, is secretary of state-designate) and Goldman Sachs (whose president, Gary Cohn, will be director of Trump’s National Economic Council) could pay for the whole thing.

There’s a Pete Seeger song that begins: “You know it’s darkest before the dawn. And this thought keeps me moving on.” If ever there was a time to heed those words, this is it.

There were some bright spots this election:

Voters in Arizona, Washington, Colorado and Maine voted to raise the minimum wage.
South Dakota defeated a ballot measure to lower the minimum wage even though Trump won there.
Voters in Arizona’s Maricopa County defeated anti-immigrant Sheriff Joe Arpaio by a landslide 59 percent to 41 percent, aided by the 130,000 new Latino voters who registered to vote in the last year.
Virginia defeated an anti-union “right-to-work” ballot measure.
In many battleground districts, voters elected progressive Democrats and/or defeated right-wing Republicans. Josh Gottheimer, for one, defeated seven-term Rep. Scott Garrett — an extremist Republican and a founder of the tea party — in New Jersey’s 5th Congressional District.
In North Carolina, which went for Trump, Democrat Roy Cooper won the gubernatorial election, beating incumbent Pat McCrory (who now has signed legislation stripping power from the governor’s office before his successor is sworn in.)
The number of women, black, Asian and Latino officials elected this year reached an all-time high.
Activists around the country — young and old, reformers and radicals — are now trying to figure out not only how to fight Trump and Trumpism, but also how to think strategically about building a powerful progressive movement based on action and informed by past and recent activism. Progressives should expect the unexpected, be agile and flexible and invest in rebuilding progressive organizations’ capacity.

So here is my 10-point “to do” list for fighting for working people.

About one-quarter of Trump voters said he is not qualified to be president.
1. Don’t forget: Trump does not have a mandate. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by close to 3 million votes. Only 27 percent of the nation’s 231 million eligible voters voted for Trump. In the first election in 50 years without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act, Republicans intensified their voter-suppression efforts, targeting black and Latino communities in key battleground states. More than 40 percent of eligible voters did not vote; most non-voters were low-income, minority and/or young Americans who, had they gone to the polls, would have voted Democratic. Polls also show that even most Trump voters do not agree with much of his policy agenda. A CBS survey showed about one-quarter of Trump voters said he is not qualified to be president. Seventy percent of all voters said immigrants without documents should be able to apply for legal status rather than be deported.

2. Challenge Trump’s Nominees. Progressive activists, liberal watchdog groups and think tanks, congressional Democrats and responsible journalists have a rare opportunity, prior to and during the hearings, to challenge Trump’s Cabinet nominees and other high-level appointees as incompetent and unqualified. As a group, they represent a Hall of Shame of greedy billionaires, right-wing lunatics, scam artists and military mad hatters. Rather than see each nominee as an individual, they should look at the overall pattern of Trump nominees as lacking experience and caught in multiple conflict-of-interest webs, like Trump himself.

One, Trump’s nominee for treasury secretary, banker Steve Mnuchin, purchased a bank, OneWest, through a sweetheart deal with the federal government; it then repeatedly engaged in predatory lending, racial discrimination and aggressive foreclosures, earning censure by judges and government regulators and Mnuchin the nickname “foreclosure king.” Senate Democrats have launched a website asking people who were hurt by OneWest Bank’s foreclosure practices to share their stories.

Commerce Secretary-designate Wilbur Ross “made a fortune purchasing bankrupt businesses and flipping them for a profit,” according to Forbes, which earned him a reputation as a “vulture investor.” In 2006, after Ross purchased the International Coal Group, 12 coal miners suffocated after an explosion at its Sago coal mine in West Virginia mine, which had a history of safety violations. Earlier this year, his private equity firm, WL Ross & Co., agreed to pay a $2.3 million fine to the Securities and Exchange Commission for failing to properly disclose fees it charged investors.

Puzder, CEO of the company that operates Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s restaurants, is Trump’s pick for labor secretary. The Department of Labor found violations — including wage theft offenses such as failing to pay the minimum wage or overtime — in 60 percent of its inspections at these two fast-food chains. Puzder has opposed raising the minimum wage, enforcing Obama’s overtime rules and mandatory sick leave. He’s blamed Obamacare for causing a “restaurant recession” even though, as The New York Times noted, “there is no evidence that health care reform has harmed job growth, and there is certainly no evidence of a restaurant recession.”

Besides having absolutely no experience in government, much less with housing policy, HUD Secretary-designate Ben Carson opposes one of HUD’s key missions: to challenge racial segregation and discrimination. Last year he denounced a HUD plan with Dubuque, Iowa to ensure the city didn’t discriminate against African-Americans in distributing federally funded housing vouchers as “what you see in communist countries.” He mocked a HUD rule designed to help municipalities use data to “overcome historic patterns of segregation” as “government-engineered attempts to legislate racial equality” and as “failed socialist experiments.” But what’s really dangerous is Carson’s opposition to gay rights (he compared homosexuality to bestiality), and his support for lunatic conspiracy theories, such as his contention that President Obama and former Attorney General Eric Holder were part of a communist conspiracy to subvert America. He claimed Darwin’s ideas about evolution were part of Satan’s plan and at the 2016 Republican convention he said late community organizer Saul Alinsky (about whom Clinton wrote her senior thesis in college) was a follower of Satan. For over a decade Carson shilled for nutritional supplement company Mannatech, whose illegal marketing schemes claimed its products help overcome ailments including toxic shock syndrome, heart failure, asthma, arthritis, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, Attention Deficit Disorder and lung inflammation, as well as AIDS and cancer. Even after the company was sued, Carson continued to speak at company meetings and appear in commercials. But in a GOP debate, Carson claimed he had no affiliation with the company.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a close ally of the fossil fuel industry, is Trump’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt is totally in sync with Trump’s views about climate change, which Trump has called a “hoax.” Both would like to severely weaken if not entirely dismantle the EPA and cancel America’s commitment to the Paris climate change accords. In an article in the right-wing National Review earlier this year, Pruitt wrote: “Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind” — a view that flies in the face of the scientific consensus. Pruitt joined with other state attorneys general who worked with the nation’s energy companies to fight Obama’s environmental regulations. A coal lobby spokesperson called Pruitt a “defender of states’ rights and a vocal opponent of the current administration’s overreaching EPA.”

Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, Trump’s pick for national security adviser, was fired as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. For years he has promoted what The New York Times called “unsubstantiated claims about Islamic law’s spreading in the United States and about the attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.” He has used Twitter to push crazy conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton, including a fake news story claiming that New York police and prosecutors had found evidence linking Clinton and some of her top campaign staff to a child sex trafficking ring, money laundering, perjury and other felonies. Flynn’s penchant for lying led his one-time employees at the DIA to call his falsehoods “Flynn facts.”

Senate Democrats have a responsibility to expose this web of ignorance, incompetence and intolerance.
Senate Democrats have a responsibility to expose this web of ignorance, incompetence and intolerance, grill the candidates at the hearings and challenge the fundamental legitimacy of Trump’s administration. Along with progressive watchdog and activist groups, they should map the corporate bigwigs in Trump’s world — who they are, what they own — and make their businesses toxic targets of protest. They should follow the example of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who during hearings before the Senate Banking Committee about Wells Fargo’s bogus bank and credit card account scandal, questioned CEO John Stumpf with such ferocity and detail that he was forced to resign. Activists and citizens should pressure their senators to vote against these nominees. Keep Trump on the defensive.

3. Don’t Normalize Trump. Journalists should not normalize Trump. They need to get over their addiction to reporting everything he says and persisting in the allegedly even-handed “he said/she said” formula that creates misleading reporting. And they should continuously fact-check his statements and lies. During the campaign, the media let Trump set the agenda. His every statement and tweet — no matter how trivial or false — became news, and reporters rarely challenged his lies. With a few exceptions, news outlets failed to focus on his ignorance of basic policy ideas and his outrageous track record of business malfeasance. At no point did the media report on how his global business interests would compromise his presidency.

After the election, there were instances of change. Last month, for example, The New York Times put this headline on a lead front-page story: “Trump Claims, With No Evidence, That ‘Millions of People’ Voted Illegally.” But most of the time the media still let Trump get away with lies. They duly reported his boast about saving more than a thousand Carrier Corporation jobs in Indiana, but neglected to report that the deal was not as good as Trump claimed it to be. The Washington Post’s recent story on the CIA report about Russian interference in the election quoted Trump as saying, “The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It’s now time to move on and ‘Make America Great Again.’” The Post let the false Electoral College comment pass without challenge, and allowed Trump and other Republicans to cast doubt on the CIA report’s validity. That’s like giving equal weight to those who deny climate change and those who say it’s real.

Journalists need to get over their addiction to reporting everything Trump says and persisting in the allegedly even-handed “he said/she said” formula that creates misleading reporting.
4. Focus on Real People. Reporters should focus on how Trump’s rhetoric and policy ideas affect real people. Major media outlets should keep a daily tally (and human stories) of how Trump’s policy proposals — like eliminating Obamacare, weakening the EPA and the National Labor Relations Board, slashing the Dodd-Frank law and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, expanding private for-profit charter schools, privatizing government functions and deporting immigrants — will hurt real people, remove important protections for consumers, workers and the environment and redistribute income upward.

They also should maintain a running count of hate crimes and violence triggered around the country by Trump’s election and rhetoric — perhaps in conjunction with the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which regularly reports on hate crimes, bigotry and bullying directed at immigrants, African-Americans, Muslims, Jews, gays and lesbians, the disabled and others. And the media should not allow Trump to get away with his impulsive, childish, authoritarian and narcissistic bullying, often via Twitter, of anyone who criticizes him. They should not, as Boston Globe columnist Michael Cohen suggested, “treat Trump’s actions as a topic of political debate” but instead “as evidence of his derangement.”

Americans need to channel their anger into strategic and constructive dissent.
5. Protest and Engage in Civil Disobedience. Anti-Trump rallies and demonstrations across the country on Inauguration Day should be just the beginning of an ongoing campaign of protest and civil disobedience to challenge and obstruct Trump’s initiatives. Americans need to channel their anger into strategic and constructive dissent, which has a long tradition in our country’s history.

Not everyone has to be on the front lines. People can donate (or increase their contributions) to organizations engaged in active opposition to Trump and the GOP agenda, such as Planned Parenthood, SPLC, Sierra Club, NAACP, Black Lives Matter, Human Rights Campaign and others.

But millions of Americans need to take to the streets regularly, reminding their countrymen and women that Trump’s plans for the country violate American values and will greatly harm the vast majority of Americans. Moreover, protests should challenge Trump’s entire agenda. Too often, activists retreat to their separate issue silos. But people concerned about workers’ rights and economic justice, women’s equality and the right to choose, immigration rights, challenging racism by police and the criminal justice system, LGBT rights, voting rights, gun safety, educational equity and environmental justice must stand together, support each other and join each other’s demonstrations.

These protests must target members of Congress, demanding they oppose harmful legislation, corporations and business lobby groups that peddle political influence to advance a right-wing agenda. For example, millions of Americans who live in Republican House districts — many of whom voted for Trump or did not vote — will be harmed if Trump is able to eliminate Obamacare; a campaign to pressure those House members to oppose the Trump plan could have an impact.

Further, activists should target Trump’s business empire, which he refuses to divest from, claiming disingenuously that it will be run by his children without his knowledge or participation. They should boycott hotels, casinos, luxury apartments, golf courses and consumer products affiliated with his brand. If Trump has truly divested from these interests, it won’t hurt him. But if he squeals and impulsively attacks those involved in the boycott, we’ll know he still profits from his global business empire. Some legal experts have argued that Trump’s business investments could violate the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause if he continues to benefit from deals with companies controlled by foreign governments while in office. It could even be grounds for impeachment.

6. Oppose Trump’s infrastructure plan. The first major legislative battle is likely to be over Trump’s infrastructure plan. The anti-Trump coalition should unite to oppose this corporate welfare scam, which the con artist is selling as a large investment to “rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals.” On the surface, it looks like a job-creating liberal initiative, but as always, the devil is in the details — and the details are incredibly bad. Trump’s plan is based on a report by his advisers Peter Navarro (a conservative economist recently appointed as his key trade adviser) and Commerce Secretary-designate Ross (see above), which calls for $1 trillion of spending over 10 years, funded largely by private sources that would be repaid with tax credits and usage taxes (such as toll roads).

As Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote, the Trump plan is “basically fraudulent,” a scam that would “enrich a few well-connected people at taxpayers’ expense while doing very little to cure our investment shortfall. Progressives should not associate themselves with this exercise in crony capitalism.” Trump’s plan involves “huge tax credits: billions of dollars in checks written to private companies that invest in approved projects, which they would end up owning.” Krugman also points out the Trump plan won’t address infrastructure needs that can’t be turned into profit centers. “Our top priorities should include things like repairing levees and cleaning up hazardous waste; where’s the revenue stream?” Krugman calls the Trump scheme a “gratuitous handout to select investors.”

Progressives must be prepared to support elected leaders who take on Trump.
The Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit research center, warns that it is “simply a way to transfer money to developers with no guarantee at all that net new investments are made.” Moreover, any Trump plan is likely to emulate George W. Bush’s corrupt and inefficient post-Katrina reinvestment plan, which ignored competitive bids and handed megacontracts to political cronies like Halliburton, once run by Vice President Dick Cheney. Trump certainly will try to circumvent or overturn the long-standing Davis-Bacon Act, which requires contractors to pay decent wages on federally funded construction projects. What’s needed is a straightforward infrastructure plan similar to the one that President Franklin Roosevelt created to help lift the country out of the Great Depression. It is OK if the federal funding goes to private contractors, but it must include clear rules to make sure it creates good-paying jobs and is done through competitive bids.

7. Obstruct Trump’s Presidency. People who live in large blue states like California, New York, Washington, Minnesota and Illinois have a particular opportunity and responsibility to obstruct Trump’s presidency. The day after the election, California Senate Leader Kevin de León and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon issued a combative pledge to defend the state’s progressive policies against assault by the Trump administration and to serve as a counterweight to the president-elect. “We are not going to allow one election to reverse generations of progress,” they said, and introduced the California Values Act, a bill that would prohibit using state and local resources for mass deportations or for any federal mandate that might divide Californians on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, immigration status or national or ethnic origins. California Gov. Jerry Brown also vowed to fight Trump, saying, “We will protect the precious rights of our people and continue to confront the existential threat of our time — devastating climate change.” Brown, de León and Rendon are setting themselves up to follow the example of Texas, whose GOP leaders and corporate lobby groups antagonized President Obama with pugnacious lawsuits designed to stymie his liberal initiatives.

Blue states and liberal cities like Los Angeles, New York, Minneapolis, Chicago, Seattle and others can declare themselves “sanctuary” states and cities, vowing to resist cooperation with federal immigration officials seeking to deport undocumented immigrants, and fight any Trump administration attempt to undermine their progressive environmental, minimum wage, workers’ rights and anti-discrimination laws. Progressives must support elected leaders who take on Trump and hold them accountable when Trump seeks retaliation with threats to withhold funding. Cities and states also can withdraw their massive public pension funds from gun manufacturers, energy corporations that profit from fossil fuels and drug and insurance companies that lobby to kill Obamacare.

8. Exploit Republican Infighting. The progressive anti-Trump movement should take advantage of infighting among Republicans, conservatives and business groups. Many Republicans who reluctantly endorsed Trump during the campaign disagree with his policy ideas and are disgusted by his personal behavior and business practices. Trump will inevitably say and do things that will embarrass Republicans and make it harder for them to win re-election. House Speaker Paul Ryan wants to run for US president in 2020 and has a stake in making Trump a one-term president. Ryan has his own right-wing agenda that overlaps but is not totally in sync with Trump’s promises during the campaign.

Many Trump voters will soon suffer from some form of buyer’s remorse or oppose some of his words and deeds. For example, 45 percent of the 62.9 million voters who supported Trump are white evangelical and born-again Christians. They feared Hillary Clinton would appoint Supreme Court justices who would affirm Roe v. Wade, same-sex marriage and the Hobby Lobby ruling allowing employers to discriminate based on religion. But many of these white conservative Christians, as well as tea party followers and others who voted for Trump, will pressure their senators and representatives to oppose him on other issues. They may also urge especially the right-wing Freedom Caucus members to bring down Ryan if he seems to compromise his ultra-conservative agenda. Though many corporate leaders support Trump’s plan to reduce taxes and regulations, they also are concerned about his reckless ideas on trade and foreign policy, and his narcissistic tendency to seek retribution against anyone who criticizes him — such as his tweet threatening to cancel Boeing’s contract to build a new Air Force One plane soon after company CEO Dennis Muilenburg was quoted in a newspaper story expressing concerns about Trump’s trade agenda.

9. Mobilize for the Next Elections. Progressives and Democrats should start organizing now to win back the House and gubernatorial seats in 2018, laying groundwork to retake the Senate and the White House in 2020. Democrats need to gain 24 seats in 2018 to get a 218-seat majority. Some doubt this is possible with so many gerrymandered districts. But that task will test the ability of key Democratic constituency groups — including the AFL-CIO and major unions like SEIU and AFSCME, Planned Parenthood, Sierra Club, NAACP, immigrant rights groups, the Human Rights Campaign, the major community organizing networks (People’s Action, Working Families Party, Center for Popular Democracy, Center for Community Change) and the liberal billionaires affiliated with the Democracy Alliance — to work together. They should jointly identify 30 congressional districts where Republican candidates won by the narrowest margins this year, as well as another 20 districts where they need to defend Democrats who won by slim margins.

One goal of this strategy is to begin early in 2017 to identify “infrequent” and “marginal” Democratic-leaning voters in these districts, mobilize them around issues, register them to vote and, in November 2018, get them to the polls. This can’t be done by parachuting organizers into these districts a few months before the midterm House elections.

Constituency groups need to invest, starting early in 2017, to target these 50 congressional districts with lots of money and organizers. At least three full-time organizers in each congressional district would wage issue campaigns for almost two years to pressure Republican incumbents to vote against the Trump/Ryan agenda on a few key topics — minimum wage, dismantling Obamacare and Trump’s infrastructure/jobs bill, along with localized issues. The dual goal: Peel off some Republican House votes to pressure them to vote for a compromise, and weaken them for 2018. At the same time, organizers would focus on registering new Democratic voters — including helping people get photo IDs in states where they’re required to vote.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party and progressive activists should identify candidates to run against Republican incumbents in the midterms. In some cases, they would be the same people who came reasonably close to winning the races in 2016. In others, they would find new candidates (like Jacky Rosen, who was recruited by the Culinary Workers union in Las Vegas to run for Congress this year — and won). This could overlap with efforts to help elect Democrats in state legislatures and governorships, hold onto current Senate seats and pull together a progressive anti-corporate, pro-fairness Democratic Party policy agenda to resonate with more voters. The cost of this strategy is likely to be around $100 million.

10. Start Presidential Vetting Now. Can Democrats find a presidential candidate who is both progressive and electable? Much depends on how much Trump damages the country and his reputation. One assumes Trump will run for re-election, but it is possible he won’t want to run again or that he will be impeached or dethroned by the Republicans after causing enormous chaos and intraparty division. In that case, the most likely GOP front-runners are Paul Ryan and Mike Pence. But it is not too soon for Democrats to start road-testing a policy agenda and strategy to win back the White House and Congress in 2020.

We need a movement that explains what it is for, not just what it is against. Simply attacking Trump’s corruption and cronyism further alienates people from the idea that government can be a force for good. So progressives need a government reform agenda that articulates the values of real democratic governance — such as campaign finance reform, voting rights reform and eliminating wasteful corporate welfare. This year’s Democratic platform was the most progressive in its history, but Hillary Clinton was unable to convey it to many voters — especially white voters in swing states.

A successful Democratic candidate in 2020 will have a record of accomplishment, play a key role leading opposition to Trump’s policy initiatives, be able to win the Democratic primaries dominated by liberal voters, inspire “irregular” but Democratic-leaning (black, Latino, young, low-income) voters to vote, and win back some white working-class Trump voters in swing states. A strong Democratic candidate can’t be too close to Wall Street or business, but must have a credible plan to expand jobs, improve the safety net for families, expand health care while limiting its costs (primarily by controlling drug and insurance prices), support expanded workers’ rights, protect women’s health care, favor limits on military-style assault weapons, address the racism throughout our criminal justice system (from cops to courts to prisons) and strengthen consumer and environmental protections. An electable Democratic candidate needs a combination of charisma and the ability to withstand the Republican attack machine and be free of personal controversy.

It’s a tall order. Only a few of the people mentioned as potential candidates — such as Sens. Warren and Sherrod Brown (OH) — can pass those litmus tests. A few others, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) and newly elected Sen. Kamala Harris (CA), might meet these criteria.

But even a strong progressive Democratic candidate can’t win unless the party and its key interest groups and movements work together to build the infrastructure to attract and mobilize voters — including the many non-voters who stayed home Nov. 8. The absence of large membership organizations that represent millions of people and work together keeps the progressive movement from reaching its potential. Business lobby groups and Republicans have done a good job of weakening the largest of these organizations: the unions, which have 15 million members. But we learned from this election that some unions weren’t talking and listening to their members. There’s no shortcut; you have to talk to people. And we need much larger mass organizations to do that.

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Peter Dreier
Peter Dreier
Peter Dreier teaches politics and chairs the Urban & Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College. His latest book is The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame (Nation Books, 2012). Follow him on Twitter: @PeterDreier.