Monday, June 6, 2016

Trump: Fascist Moderate or Moderate Fascist, Part 2

A simple Google search of  the words "Trump" and "fascist" yields 6,900,000 results. I haven't heard an adjective applied to a person's name that frequently since Dan Aykroyd spent the entire film Dragnet protecting "the virgin Connie Swails."

To call Trump a fascist implies he has a coherent political philosophy. It's not clear that Trump has any philosophy other than a belief that he should selfishly satisfy his ego, bask in puffery, and frequently issue 140 character insults. These qualities indicate he is a truculent demagogue, but while nearly every fascist leader is a truculent demagogue not all truculent demagogues are fascists.

The most obvious illustration of Trump's lack of philosophical integrity is his complete refusal to follow Machiavelli's advice. In The Prince, Machiavelli urges leaders to avoid virtue when necessary but always to appear to have virtues:

Therefore it is unnecessary for a prince to have all the good qualities I have enumerated, but it is very necessary to appear to have them. And I shall dare to say this also, that to have them and always to observe them is injurious, and that to appear to have them is useful; to appear merciful, faithful, humane, religious, upright, and to be so, but with a mind so framed that should you require not to be so, you may be able and know how to change to the opposite.

Trump seemingly doesn't care if anyone views him as faithful or upright or merciful. In fact, he appears to relish being the most vile politician to seek the Presidency since George Wallace sought the office to continue legal racial segregation in the South.

Contending that Trump is not a fascist does not mean one should doubt he would be a dangerous President. His truculence indicates he will brook no challenge to his efforts to enact whatever ill-considered whim strikes his fancy. Further, no one should doubt that a President Trump would use the power of his office to curtail civil liberties. Chris Christie, his first major endorser, has not, to the best of my knowledge, encountered a civil liberty he did not want to quash. Trump's entire campaign seems predicated on similar views. Although that fact makes him a threat, his distaste for civil liberties means a Trump administration would differ from the Obama and George W. Bush administrations in degree not in kind.

Quite frankly, calling Trump a fascist lends his campaign gravitas it doesn't merit. Trump is a fascist in the same way goose-stepping professional wrestler Baron von Raschke was a Nazi Now that I think about it, Trump has other things in common with von Raschke.  Both are brilliant entertainers. Both are bombastic. When questioned both conclude "Dat is all da people need to know." Both combine weird facial expressions with bizarre gesticulations.

Baron von Raschke illustrating his Claw finishing move

Donald Trump illustrating that he's Donald Trump

Von Raschke and Trump share one other similarity: both are equally qualified to be President. That fact alone, not assertions that he holds a dangerous political philosophy, should dissuade everyone from voting for Trump.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Trump: Fascist Moderate or Moderate Fascist, Part 1

Donald Trump, according to Dakota Free Press posts and comments, harbors fascist tendencies. Meanwhile, Troy Jones has opined in a Dakota War College comment that Trump is the most moderate Republican candidate since Wendell Wilkie. Both of these claims cannot be true. Let's tackle Trump's alleged moderation first. I'll try to deal with the alleged fascism in an another post

As a nominee Trump is heir to a tradition that boasts great Presidents including Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and Reagan. Trump, therefore, should have moderate positions or principles that fit in that tradition.

In his first inaugural, Lincoln reminded Americans to be governed by "the better angels of our nature," arguably the greatest urging toward moderation in any recorded political speech. Trump, on the other hand, gives a segment of America license to vent their anger although he doesn't seem to add the Christian injunction "in your anger sin not." In fact, Trump's entire campaign seems predicated on the rather immoderate principle to submit to one's most angry "lesser imps and demons" if not our personal version of the angry "great Satan hisself" (My apologies to the Coen brothers for taking lines from O Brother Where Art Thou? out of context.)

Theodore Roosevelt and Trump share a New York brashness. Trump has certainly predicated his campaign on the premise that "we stand at Armageddon." Further, he promises to use a "big stick" to force Mexico to pay for a wall across the United States's southern border. Unlike Roosevelt, Trump has never promised to "battle for the Lord" at Armageddon. He seems more likely to battle only for Trump. More importantly, no one has recorded an incidence of Trump speaking his "big stick" threats softly.

Dwight Eisenhower organized the logistics behind the United States's World War II victory. As President he was the guiding force behind the nation's interstate highway system. Trump can claim Trump University, Trump Steaks, and several bankruptcies.

Finally, Ronald Reagan claimed that the 11th commandment is "Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican." Trump has yet to find a Republican of whom he will not speak ill.

In short, Trump's rhetoric is far from moderate. Further, the only policy he has consistently enunciated involves expanding the federal government's power to allow for the deportation of 11 million undocumented residents, hardly an action borne from a moderate principle.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Tweet Of The Day: Trump Encapsulated

This post is also an experiment on how posting and sharing with a new phone will work.

@stephenWalt: Trump's views on foreign policy suggest he also thinks he can control weather, reverse tides, make pigs fly, and make NYJets a winner. Shared via TweetCaster

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Quotation Of The Day: We May Have A Problem With Rights In The United States Edition

From this Washington Post story:
“I got a right to have whatever I want and that’s it.” 
The right in question was a woman's "right" to have Lowe's send a white delivery driver. The manager who granted her request has been fired.

I'm not sure nation can survive if rights exist without the idea of responsibility or citizens refuse to recognize that rights may conflict in ways that makes the exercise of rights in an absolute sense impossible.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Tweet And Quotation Of The Day: Reading As Soulcraft Edition

From John Merrow

Mosley's continuation is equally eloquent:
I’m not saying that you have to be a reader to save your soul in the modern world. I’m saying it helps. Artists, musicians, naturally empathetic children and people born to the beat of a different drum often embark on more original lives than the Company Store wants for us. They’re naturally more resistant to the forces of big business and big government.
But readers don’t have to be all that special. They have the guidance of a thousand stories to help them make their way. They are never alone. They are equipped to challenge (or ignore) the expectations laid down by standardized testing, fifth-grade bullies and parents that gaze upon the present-day world with eyes that only see the past. They can envision alternatives to economic and political systems that have no heart, art or true ­humanity.
Most readers stop here. They gather their ever-widening circle of favorite writers and read and reread their beloved books. But some are compelled to become writers. The stories they were told or read kindle an obsession that cries out to be heard. Like minor gods, they rummage in the mud looking to make characters with whom to explore their dreams, and nightmares.
Paragraphs like these also likely explain why politicians like Governor Daugaard seek to ignore literature and focus on STEM.

Scripture And Songs For The Week: Jeremiah 31 Edition

23 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “When I bring them back from captivity, the people in the land of Judah and in its towns will once again use these words: ‘The Lord bless you, you prosperous city, you sacred mountain.’ 24 People will live together in Judah and all its towns—farmers and those who move about with their flocks. 25 I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.”
26 At this I awoke and looked around. My sleep had been pleasant to me.
27 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will plant the kingdoms of Israel and Judah with the offspring of people and of animals. 28 Just as I watched over them to uproot and tear down, and to overthrow, destroy and bring disaster, so I will watch over them to build and to plant,” declares the Lord.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Republican Debate Reaction

I listened rather than watched. I did not see Rand Paul's eye roll or any other mannerisms that someone in my Twitter timeline criticized. Based on what I heard,  Kasich and Rubio should be considered the clear winners. (I did not watch or listen to the so-called happy hour debate, so I will take the conventional wisdom at face value; Fiorina won hands down.)

I can't vouch for the accuracy of the chart below, but I'll use it as a starting point to give my reactions to each candidate.

Ben Carson: If the chart is accurate, he has a cult following. He sounded stiff even when he was wasting time cracking jokes during his closing statement. He supported torture, so I hope his candidacy flounders quickly, but it looks as if it won't.

Chris Christie: He did nothing to change his image of being bombastic. Favoring a Reagan-era sized navy and implying that the NSA should expand domestic surveillance, he may have been the most bellicose in both style and substance.

Donald Trump: Trump was Trump and it should have cost him. I suspect that his hard floor is above 10%, so he won't be going away even though he didn't seem to fair well tonight.

Jeb Bush: He made no waves and didn't stumble. It was a lackluster performance but on a stage with ten people that effort was all an alleged favorite needed to live to fight another day

John Kasich: He handled all of the questions well. He sounded knowledgeable and passionate. He's probably running for VP.

Marco Rubio: See Kasich. On a side note, when the older candidates on the panel invoke Reagan, I'd give Rubio bonus points for saying "I was a teenager when Ronald Reagan was President; I was more interested in the red-head sitting two desks ahead of me than I was anything he did. I've moved on; the party should too." On the other hand, I can see why that would be political suicide.

Mike Huckabee: He wants to tax pimps and prostitutes. He took the hardest line on abortion and pretty much made himself unelectable.

Rand Paul: On substance he won the exchange with Christie; he lost it on style. One of his former major advisers is in legal hot water. This candidacy is over.

Scott Walker: I can't remember a single thing he said.

Ted Cruz: He seemed virtually absent until the God question. It seems as if he trying to hang around to get the angry voters who know Trump can't win. I'm surprised at the 50/50 split he earned.