40% of Americans Say We Need a Leader Willing to Break Rules

According to an Ipsos survey, 40 percent of Americans agree with the statement, “To fix this country, we need a strong leader willing to break the rules.” Perhaps it is no coincidence that the popular vote for Donald Trump was only slightly more than this at 46.1 percent (compared to 48.2 percent for Hillary Clinton).

More astoundingly, 80 percent of the French surveyed agreed with that statement. On the other hand, countries that were ruled within living memory by a rule-breaking authoritarian strongman were less likely to agree. Only 21 percentage of Germans and 35 percent of Spaniards did so.

However there were exceptions. In Italy, a country that was once ruled by dictator Benito Mussolini but has not had a stable government since his death, 68 percent of those polled longed for a rule-breaking strong ruler. In Brazil, which has recent experience with a military dictatorship, 48 percent longed for a such a ruler.

Sixty-nine percent of Israelis agreed with the statement, even though they already have a rule-breaking, authoritarian ruler in the person of Benjamin Netanyahu. I find this surprising given the history of suffering of the Jewish people under dictators such as Adolf Hitler.

This longing for a strongman ruler among a majority of the population in some countries and among a substantial minority in the United States does not bode well for the future of western democracy.

 

Trump Right About Voter Fraud!

Donald Trump tweeted yesterday that he was calling for an investigation into voter fraud:

I will be asking for a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD, including those registered to vote in two states….” As many politicians and analysts stepped in front of microphones to allege that there is no such voter fraud, investigative reporters quickly determined that there are indeed people registered to vote in two states.

Investigative reporters quickly discovered that there are indeed voters registered to vote in more than one state. They found that Donald Trump’s daughter Tiffany is registered to vote in both Pennsylvania and New York. Trump senior adviser Steve Bannon was registered to vote in both Florida and New York until the Sarasota County supervisor of elections removed him from the Florida voter rolls yesterday after press reports exposed him. Donald Trump’s treasury secretary nominee Steve Mnuchin is registered to vote in California and New York.

Despite the implied claim in Donald Trump’s tweet, being registered to vote in more that one jurisdiction does not in itself constitute voter fraud. Fraud occurs if the person votes in both jurisdictions. There is no evidence (so far?) that any of these three persons did that.

Nevertheless, given the evidence that Trump supporters were registered to vote in multiple states during the election, perhaps Donald Trump should call into question the legitimacy of his election. I can’t wait for him to go before the press to admit that there could have been fraud involved in his election and to offer to resign.

“Alternative Facts” and Authoritarian Government

One of the first things an authoritarian government attempts to do when it comes to power is undermine public confidence in the fact-based press. We have seen such rulers as Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez and Nicolas Maduro, Cuba’s Fidel Castro, and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan silence the opposition press in favor of news sources that the government controls. Government propaganda replaces fact-based reporting until a significant portion of the population of authoritarian-ruled countries are unable to distinguish between truth and government-propagated lies.

Now Donald Trump and his administration are applying the tactics of authoritarian government press control to the United States. Replacing truth with government-invented lies is more difficult in our country, because our constitutional guarantee of a free press is (still?) strong enough that the Trump administration cannot shut down news organizations. Instead, Trump and his cronies are discrediting them by countering facts with Trump-generated fiction.

In the first days following President Trump’s inauguration, we saw several attempts at de-legitimatizing news sources that attempt to stick to the facts. The most salient attack involved a news story that should have been trivial, the size of the crowd on the National Mall at Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony. Television coverage and photographs of the inauguration showed that there were considerably fewer people viewing Trump’s inauguration than had viewed Barack Obama’s first inauguration in 2009. So what? Is that important?

To Donald Trump, it is. In a speech at the CIA, he called reporters “…the most dishonest human beings on earth” for reporting the low attendance at his inauguration while claiming that his swearing-in actually attracted 1.5 million spectators, far above the estimates of the crowd from photographs, which put the attendance at somewhere between 400,000 and 500,000 people. If Donald Trump had not drawn attention to the attendance, most of us would have dismissed it as unimportant.

At the same CIA speech, Donald Trump stated, “I just want to let you know, I am so behind you,” thereby flatly contradicting his earlier tweet that the Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to “leak” into the public. One last shot at me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?”

Not content to let the matter lie there, Donald Trump sent his press secretary, Sean Spicer, before reporters to double down on the untruths. Mr. Spicer gave greatly inflated figures for public transportation ridership on the day of the inauguration as well as inflated figures for the number of people gathered on the National Mall to witness Donald Trump’s being sworn in. In all, Mr. Spicer told five blatant lies in his appearance before the press corps and then left after refusing to take questions.

But were Trump’s and Spicer’s “misstatements” really lies? When I was growing up, falsehoods were definitely called lies, and when I told one, my mother threatened to wash my mouth our with soap. (Luckily, she never carried through with the threat.) However, in Trump-speak, lies are no longer lies. In an appearance on “Meet the Press” on January 22, Trump counselor came up with a new term for them. She told program host Chuck Todd “You’re saying it’s a falsehood and Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that.”

I wish I had known as a child that my tall stories were not lies at all but just “alternative facts.” It might have saved me quite a few raps on the knuckles. In a world where verified facts are countered with “alternative facts,” we are moving closer and closer to authoritarianism. In his novel 1984, George Orwell wrote:

And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became truth. “Who controls the past” ran the Party slogan, “controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”

When the year 1984 finally rolled around, many years after the publication of Orwell’s novel, the truth was still considered to be the truth, and lies were still considered to be lies. That is not the case today. Perhaps Orwell should have titled his novel 2017. Luckily, we still have a press that is attempting to counter our government’s lies, but its readership is steadily declining.

Before you go, I hope you will check out my novel Running for President by clicking on the cover image in the left sidebar. It is about a Trump-like figure who is elected president of the United States. When I wrote it, I had no idea that something similar could actually come to pass. Amazon Unlimited subscribers can read the entire book for free. Others can read a free excerpt.

Does it Matter How Many People Saw Trump’s Inauguration?

Yesterday, President Donald Trump used part of his meeting with employees of the CIA criticizing the press for allegedly under-reporting the number of people who viewed his inauguration on Friday. Photos published by many news sources showed many fewer people attending Donald Trump’s inauguration than had attended Barack Obama’s. Donald Trump also claimed that the media had inaccurately reported that he had criticized the United States intelligence agencies stating, “There is nobody that feels stronger about the intelligence community and the CIA than Donald Trump,” referring to himself in the third person.

For those of us who saw the inauguration on television, it seemed that the crowd viewing the event was much smaller than the crowd for some past presidents. We also saw live Donald Trump’s criticism of American intelligence agencies including the CIA, accusing the agencies of being behind a Nazi-like campaign against him.

Then, Donald Trump sent his new press secretary before the press yesterday to rail against what he called inaccurate reporting of the number of people attending Donald Trump’s inauguration. Don’t the president and his press secretary have more important work to do?

Why is this topic so important to Donald Trump? Why did he spend so much time and mental energy on the first full day of his presidency attempting to jawbone up the number of people who viewed his inauguration? Is it that important to him to believe that more people attended his inauguration than were actually there? Doesn’t a new president of the United States have more important matters to spend his time on? In Donald Trump’s case, apparently not. For him, his responsibility to do the work of the American people is less important than messaging his own ego.

I hope that Donald Trump will learn to stifle his infantile tendency to pile on criticism of anyone he views as having even unintentionally slighted him. This country has pressing problems such as the growing income gap and the increasing number of American citizens including veterans forced to sleep in the streets. I hope President Trump will stop spending so much time and energy responding to perceived slights against his person and get down to the important work of solving the country’s problems.

Why March Against Trump? Impeach Him!

Today, January 21, 2017, there are marches taking place across the country, and indeed in other countries, against the presidency of Donald Trump. As I write this, I am viewing images of an anti-Trump protest taking place in Paris.

What do these marches and protests accomplish? In my opinion they do nothing beyond giving their participants a chance to express their outrage to each other. No one else is paying attention. The marches are going to do nothing to remove Donald John Trump from office.

I was not in favor of Donald Trump’s wining the election (most Americans weren’t, as the popular vote shows), but he won the election fair and square according to our outmoded electoral system. He is legally in office, and railing against our dysfunctional Electoral College will not bring him one inch closer to the exit door. He is our legitimate president, no matter how loudly protesters insist that he is not.

I am convinced that Donald Trump will be such a lousy and dishonest president that he will not finish his first term. I believe he will be impeached. I also believe the his fraudster instincts are so ingrained that he will not be able to hold them in check. He holds a lease from the federal government of the Old Post Office Building in Washington, D.C. that he is developing into a hotel, which is slated to open in September. The lease contains the clause, “No elected official shall be admitted to any share or part of this lease or to any benefit that may arise there from.”

Trump is an elected official, of course, and is therefore in violation of the lease agreement. However, he has made no move to remove himself from this conflict. If he were smart, he would sell his interest before it is taken away from him or is used as one of the grounds of a possible future impeachment. However, the only person of note who believes that Donald Trump is smart is President Trump himself. He will not give up the lease.

In an ethical world, the General Services Administration (GSA) would acknowledge that the terms of the lease have been violated and terminate it, leaving Donald Trump out in the cold. Why has it not done so? Because we are already seeing a drastic relaxation of presidential ethics. Donald Trump is in charge of the GSA, and its head serves at Donald Trump’s pleasure. There is no way that the head of the GSA has the ability to negotiate a lease termination with her or his boss. In other words, Donald Trump controls both sides of the negotiating table.

Until Donald Trump’s assumption of the presidency, the head of the GSA was Denise Turner Roth. I have no idea who President Trump has in mind to take her place, but I doubt if that person will stand up to her or his boss. We do not know what is going on inside the GSA, because the organization has refused to comment on the lease conflict. Perhaps Ms Turner Roth set the process in motion to terminate the lease before her term ended. We have no way of knowing if she did.

I am willing to give Donald Trump the chance to prove that he will govern in an ethical manner. So far, he has shown no sign of doing so. If Donald Trump’s ethical lapses continue to mount, the day will come when even members of his own party have had enough and vote to impeach him. If he is convicted, Vice President Mike Pence will take over. Mike Pence is a right-wing ideologue, but he does not share Donald Trump’s outsized ego that causes the latter to believe that he is above the law. I do not want a radical right-winger to be president of the United States, but I would prefer one to the fraudster who now occupies the White House.

Trump’s Inauguration Speech — A Boon for the Rich?

I didn’ t watch most of the presidential inauguration today, but I did make it a point to watch Donald Trump’s inauguration speech. I must give President Trump credit. He has greatly improved in his ability to read a pre-written speech from a TelePrompter. During the early part of his campaign, he would read from the TelePrompter to his left, seldom looking at the audience. Today, he was able to shift his gaze to the audience with only short glances at both the left and right screens. He is improving as a speechifier.

The speech was certainly not a typical speech for a new president. Incoming presidents usually try to uplift their audience by painting an optimistic picture of the country. However, as Politico wrote, “Trump painted a dark picture of a broken America that does not comport with official statistics showing a 4.9 percent jobless rate, rising wages and third-quarter growth of over 3 percent.”

The stock market optimistically rose before Donald Trump began speaking, but as the speech progressed, the market turned around and gave back its gains. Business people once thought that a Trump presidency could be good for them by cutting their taxes and reducing their regulations. Now, doubts are setting in. More business analysts are beginning to believe that Donald Trump may turn out to be a disaster for the United States economy.

Of course, when he speaks off the cuff, Donald Trump uses a quite limited vocabulary and short, direct sentences. He tends to repeat words that he finds significant over and over. The word that I most associate with Donald Trump is the adjective “beautiful.” However, this is not an essay about Donald Trump’s limited active vocabulary.

I will not recap the content of Donald Trump’s inauguration speech here. Anyone who missed it and wants to see it can use Google to find an online video. However, I will mention that Donald Trump made a long list of promises without mentioning how he is can possibly comply with with those promises. He seems to not yet have realized that the president of the United States does not have dictatorial powers. Most of the things that Donald Trump has promised to accomplish will require Congressional approval and in some cases even an amendment to the United States Constitution. With almost all Democrats and a sizable number of Republicans opposing President Trump, he may have difficulty getting his proposals through Congress.

However, anyone who has followed Donald Trump’s campaign knows that he says what he does not mean, and he does not mean what he says.

I always admired the words with which Barack Obama ended his speeches, “God bless the United States of America.” As Barack Obama realized, the United States of America is the correct name of this country. Donald Trump reverted to George Bush’s “God bless America.” Although many people, especially Europeans, conflate the word “America” with the “United States of America,” I am a stickler enough to point out the “America” is not the name of two continents, not the name of a single country. The United States is an American country. So is Chile. Uruguay is an American country. My insistence on our not verbally claiming the entire North and South American continents for ourselves may seem pedantic to some, but many Central and South Americans resent the fact that we rob them of their identity by claiming the American identity for ourselves alone.

In Latin America there is a saying, “americanos somos todos,” we are all Americans: Venezuelans, Colombians, Peruvians, Ecuadorians, Chileans, Haitians, Brazilians, Argentinians, Mexicans. However, I doubt that Donald Trump believes that.

If you’re new to the blog, I hope you’ll check out two of the books I have written by clicking on their cover images in the left sidebar.

Will Trump Order a Nuclear Attack?

I’m writing this the day before Donald Trump takes office and possession of the nuclear codes that will give him sole authority to launch one or thousands of nuclear warheads with no one in the chain of command with the authority to counteract his order. There are no “checks and balances” on the president’s authority to start a nuclear war.

Do I think that Donald Trump will start such a war? No, I do not, although I think if any president is likely to fire off a nuke, Donald Trump is the most likely suspect. It is frightening to think that one person could single-handedly wipe out most, if not all, of human life on the Earth.

I think it is extremely dangerous to have put the survival of of humankind in the hands of one individual. I understand why we have the policy. During the Cold War, there was a fear that Russia could launch its nuclear warheads and wipe out the United States without this country’s having the opportunity to respond. It was felt that if Russia could win a nuclear war with a first strike, Russian might be encouraged to do so.

Thus evolved the police of “mutually assured destruction” or MAD. If Russia launched its nuclear weapons, the United States would have to respond in kind before Russia’s weapons reached our country. Russian would be unlikely to launch a nuclear strike if doing so would assure its own destruction.

The United States response would have to be launched within minutes before Russia’s missiles had time to reach the USA. Otherwise, our missiles and our command-and-control structure would be destroyed. There would be no time for a debate and a measured decision. Therefore the ability to launch a counter-attack was placed into the hands of one person, the president of the United States. One at least one occasion, the United States reportedly came within 30 seconds of launching a nuclear attack on Russia, because United States computers mistakenly indicated that Russia had launched an attack on us. To read about the incident, click here.

 I think it is time to rethink the policy of giving a single individual the power to launch the United States nuclear arsenal. Yes, it is true that Russia still maintains sufficient nuclear weapons to wipe out humankind. It is also true that Russia, especially under Putin, is not our friend and is not to be trusted to do the right thing.

Nevertheless, we have seen repeatedly how a once-rational person can take irrational actions as a result of some type of brain injury such as an undetected tumor.  On August 1, 1966, Charles Joseph Whitman killed 17 people and wounded 32 others on a university campus in Texas. An autopsy of the gunman later revealed that he had a brain tumor which had probably altered his personality and caused an exemplary citizen with an IQ far above average to become a mass murderer.

The presidents of the United States are human beings who could also develop brain problems. The most peaceful and likeable person could turn into a monster as a result of a brain problem, and if that person is in sole charge of launching a nuclear attack, the result could be the end of humankind.

I do not claim to know what would be the best way to prevent a president suddenly turned maniac from starting a nuclear war. However, it is a topic that needs to be discussed, and heads far wiser than mine surely have the ability to come up with a better policy. On the one hand, as long as Russia maintains a large nuclear arsenal under the command of a cold-blooded psychopath like Vladimir Putin, the United States need to maintain a credible deterrence. On the other hand, a system needs to be in place that would make it impossible for a single individual to start a nuclear war.

You may want to check out my novel Running for President by clicking on the book cover image in the left sidebar. The book is about a Trump-like who becomes president of the United States. When I wrote the book, I considered it impossible that Donald Trump would be elected to our nation’s highest office.

The other book advertised in the left sidebar is about my 400+-mile pilgrimage on foot to Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain in the summer of 2015. Kindle unlimited subscribers can read both books for free.

Is Donald Trump a Russian Mole

It seems bizarre to ask if the president-elect of the United States might be a Russian agent under the control of the old spymaster Vladimir Putin, but evidence is mounting that suggests that this may well be the case. Doubts about Donald Trump’s loyalty to the United States and Western democracy have been raised not only by Christopher Steele’s “Golden Shower” dossier but by information being collected by Western Intelligence agencies of many countries including Israel.

The steps that Donald Trump has taken to undermine Western democracy are undeniable. He has called into question the loyalty and professionalism of the United States Intelligence agencies. He has done his best to undermine the credibility of the press and of the United States election process.

According to Israeli sources, they have been warned by US spies not to share intelligence information with the Trump administration out of fear that the information will make its way to Vladimir Putin’s cronies and from there to the Iranian government. Other western governments will undoubtedly also be wary of sharing information with the US government under Donald Trump. This mistrust among western governments is exactly what Vladimir Putin wants as he seeks, apparently with quite a bit of success, to use Donald Trump to weaken the western alliance.

Donald Trump maintains that the mounting circumstantial evidence of his ties to the Putin government are all fake. On what grounds does he dismiss them? “Russia says nothing exists,” according to a Trump tweet. Donald Trump tries to convince us that the Russian government of Vladimir Putin is more credible than American and other western intelligence agencies. Donald Trump also claims to take Julian Assange, the head of WikiLeaks, at his word when Assange claims that the hacked emails he published from the Democratic National Committee, did not come from Russia. Donald Trump would have us believe that accused rapist Julian Assange is more believable than United States intelligence agencies.

Christopher Steele, the former British spy who compiled the dossier alleging Russian ties to Donald Trump, has gone into hiding and is in fear for his life. People who expose Vladimir Putin’s dirty secrets tend to be assassinated, even if they live in a western country. If Donald Trump ever turns his back on his apparent handler, Vladimir Putin, his life will also be in danger.

I have no conclusive evidence that Donald Trump is one of Vladimir Putin’s moles. I can only state that he gives every appearance of being one. Donald Trump’s nomination for national security adviser, Michael Flynn, has exchanged text messages with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. They spoke several times on December 29, the day that Barack Obama announced the expulsion of Russian diplomats in retaliation for Russian interference in the United States presidential election. Of course, the communications could be innocent. It would not be unusual for an incoming administration to meet and communicate with a representative of a foreign government. However, the unusual amount of activity between Russia and the Trump staff does raise questions.

The Untied States is not the only country whose democratic system the Russian government seeks to undermine. It is, however, the only western country so far in which Russia seems to control the incoming administration. In the United Kingdom, Labour Member of Parliament Chris Bryant claims that he is “absolutely certain” that Russian spies are compiling dossiers on leaders including Boris Johnston, the British Trump look-alike, and Liam Fox. Western experts expect that Russia will also attempt to interfere in elections to be held in France and Germany this year.

What is Vladamir Putin’s Hold Over Donald Trump?

It is becoming increasingly obvious that Vladamir Putin is able to exercise undue influence over Donald Trump, but so far no one has been able to convincingly demonstrate what that hold is. The investigative report compiled by former British agent Christopher Steele claims that Vladamir Putin possesses video tapes of Donald Trump engaging in bizarre sexual activities with prostitutes. Even though Mr. Steele’s former colleagues call him a trustworthy investigator, no one has publicly claimed to be able to verify his Russian sources. Mr. Steele’s report may be partially or even entirely false. Nevertheless, Vladimir Putin has some sort of control of Donald Trump.

Mr. Steele passed his reports to both British and American intelligence agencies, but he reportedly became disheartened when the FBI’s highly partisan Republican director, James Comey, ignored Donald Trump’s alleged links to the Kremlin in favor of pursuing and publicly discussing his investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. Donald Trump claimed that U.S. intelligence agencies leaked Mr. Steele’s reports to the press, but it was Mr. Steele himself who contacted members of the press out of frustration with the FBI’s inaction.

(By the way, if you want to read Mr. Steele’s dossier of intelligence reports, you can download it in PDF format by clicking here. I warn you beforehand that it is 35 pages long, and once you get past the first two pages, most of it is boring reading, and it may not be true. I have not yet had the patience to read through it.)

If we dismiss Mr. Steele’s series of intelligence reports, we are still at a loss to explain president-elect Donald Trump’s overtly pro-Putin behavior. If Donald Trump is not being run by former KGB agent Vladimir Putin, why does he put so much effort into defending Mr. Putin’s reputation against American intelligence agencies? Why did Donald Trump defend Russia’s annexation of Crimea by military force and the Russian interference in United States elections? Why does Donald Trump place more faith in the word of accused rapist Julian Assange than he does in 14 United States intelligence agencies who claim that it was Russia who hacked into the Democratic National Committee’s computers?

Traditionally, the Republican party is seen as the party that stands up for American security. Suddenly, the Republican president-elect seems to be undermining it. He has about as much interest in American security and American values as I have in becoming an opera star.

I hope I am wrong about Donald Trump and he turns out to be a supporter of the United States instead of encouraging the authoritarian regime in Russia. So far that does not look very likely.

By the way, two of the books that I have for sale are advertised in the left sidebar. Click on either book cover image for more information. Running for President has only four- and five-star ratings and is a novel about a Trump-like psychopath who is elected president of the United States. A Senior Citizen Walks the Camino of Santiago is about my 400-plus mile pilgrimage on foot to Santigo de Compostela in northern Spain.

Trump’s Election Due to Lack of Critical Thinking?

The press has made much of Donald Trump’s refusal to accept the American intelligence community’s conclusion that Vladimir Putin tried, apparently with some success, to influence the outcome of the American presidential election. Why Donald Trump refuses to accept clear evidence escapes me. The press has speculated that by accepting the clear evidence that Russia interfered in the presidential election, Donald Trump would undermine his legitimacy as president. No serious analyst or leader has disputed the fact that Donald Trump won the majority of the electoral votes and is the legitimate president-elect of the United States regardless of how voters may have been influenced by fake news and WikiLeaks publication of hacked emails. Mr. Trump has nothing to fear from that quarter. He is the next president. Period!

However, Mr. Trump’s refusal to accept the evidence that Russia interfered in our election increases the doubts that many people have about his suitability to run the country and could even hint at a greater concern: Why is Donald Trump such an admirer of Vladimir Putin? Could it be that Mr. Putin has some sort control over Donald Trump? Those questions cannot be answered at present, but the fact that some people are beginning to raise them does not speak well for Donald Trump.

Whether or not Donald Trump is part of the stable of foreign operatives that former KGB spy master Vladimir Putin controls throughout the western countries is unknowable, but this much we do know: Donald Trump is immoral and shows more loyalty to foreign authoritarian rulers than he does to his own country. Yet, he was elected president. How can that be?

The fault lies in the decreasing pool of critical thinkers in the population of the United States. An electorate that was once well-educated has been replaced by a majority composed of facile thinkers who believe much of what is repeated to them over and over. They seem incapable of analyzing and questioning what they are told. For example, Donald Trump managed to brand his opponent in the election as Lyin’ Hillary, and he repeated it so many times that it became programmed into the subconscious of many Americans. Before the election, when Trump voters were questioned before TV cameras as to why they would not vote for Hillary Clinton, voter after voter characterized her has “dishonest,” “shifty,” “a liar.”

Is Hillary Clinton an epitome of honesty and openness? Of course not. She has  a tendency to draw into her shell and protect herself with transparent prevarications whenever she is attacked. However, compared with the blatant trickster, liar, and fraudster Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton is a paragon of virtue.

In short, it is the lack of critical thinking skills of the American voters that is at fault for the election of Donald Trump. I hope that he will preside over a successful period for the average American, but given the people he has picked for his cabinet, that appears unlikely. I believe that the average American will be much worse off in four years than we are now and the rich will be much better off. Who will be to blame? We will. We elected this crook.

By the way, I tried my hand earlier today at writing fake news on my Jason Wilder website. If you’d like to take a peek, you can do so by clicking here. If you do read it, please bear in mind that, although the blog contains a grain of truth, most of it is made up. I’d like to know if you think I have the skill to be a fake news writer. If I learn to lie skillfully enough, maybe Donald Trump will ask me to join his team. 🙂