Are We Headed for Fascism Under President Trump?

Posted on January 10th, 2017 in Capitalism,Climage Change,Culture by Robert Miller
Donald Trump

Donald Trump: who me?

Most of us are wondering what positions Donald Trump will offer next, to further remind us that the days of the Obama administration are dwindling down to a precious few!—-and we now have to worry about how far right we have to turn to placate Donald Trump’s White House ambitions. It looks like Obamacare is next on the chopping block, but delayed by a year or two. But let me paint a darker picture (if there is one) of what’s going on; I have said on numerous occasions said that I don’t blame the Trump voters for voting the way they did on November 8th. I blame the Republican (mostly) and Democratic parties (more than a little) and the financial institutions (a lot), for allowing the income disparity to be so grossly distorted that it now represents some form of evil—-we need more labor unions to begin fixing this problem. It is clear, at least to me, that there will be no peacemaking between the two parties; the are permanently divided without the possibility of a peaceful settlement between them. The increased worker productivity changes, that have occurred over the past thirty years, has not been rewarded by appropriate compensation in worker’s salaries, nor will their be, as long as the Republican party is in control. I expect that it will take many years and perhaps a few depressions before the Democrats are in control; and I hope by then it will be a completely different Democratic party.

But, what I do blame the voters that voted for Trump is their embarrassing naivete, because I fear that,  they will support Trumps’ turn to fascism which I fear is just around the corner, given what we have already seen from Donald Trump. I am not the only person worried about this coming reality; you have only to search the web with two words “Trump” and “Fascism” and you will be rewarded by an abundance of good articles. One cautionary note is provided by Robert O. Paxton which you can read about here. He claims that fascism is overused.

As Herman Goring [Hitler’s second in command] once said “Naturally, the common people don’t want war … but after all it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country. Trump has already picked his enemy, it’s ISIS [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] and he has already blown this all out of proportion to the threat. So Trump has already laid the groundwork for his underlying fascism. He only has to dress it up and call it by another name. How about “Global Market Nationalism.” After all the Hitler’s party was named National Socialist German Workers’ Party. Compared to that party the one I am proposing  sounds entirely innocent of any fascist-leaning moniker.

Fascism is an interesting term if you look it up in an ordinary dictionary, you might find fascism defined as an “authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization.” One of the characters they name as the gold standard for  fascism is Benito  Mussolini, but I prefer another definition related more to Adolph Hitler, and that is the wedding of the state with major corporate interests. Krupp steel did very well under Hitler’s regime, because the weapons manufacturing relied on steel for tanks, guns, cannons, machine guns, trucks and so forth. And that is what I fear most of all about the Trump presidency; we already know that we have a military-industrial complex itching to go to war, because that’s when they make huge profits. At the end of WW II, one of FDR’s business advisers said that business was so good during the war, the country should be on a permanent war footing!  Well, we are almost there. I hope I’m wrong, I hope Trump will turn out to be an incompetent fool, so we can all get a good laugh at his colossal blunders.  But these days we do not do blunders very well; our blunders always seem to cost billions or trillions of dollars!

And that brings us to the subject of education. Hermann Goring also said that education is a very dangerous—-every educated person is a future enemy. While it is safe to say that most Trump supporters are uneducated,  If you think you can generalize about the people that voted for Trump, think again; USA Today has a fascinating summary of the Trump voters which you can see here. One thing you will note is that many of them start off by saying how much they dislike Hillary Clinton, and that too brings us to another point of discussion which is that Donald Trump very successfully painted a very negative portrait of Hillary Clinton for her private email server, something I find trivially absurd, and too much of the campaign was devoted to this trivial issue.

If fascism comes to America, it probably won’t be recognized as such, at least not at first. Robert Paxton has written an excellent book The Anatomy of Fascism wherein he provides an excellent example of what fascism will look like if one of the other forms of fascism comes knocking on our door. Fascism was an invention of the 20th century

Recently we have a report from the CIA, that claimed evidence for Russian election tampering favoring promoting the election of Donald Trump. Of course he has denied this, claiming that the CIA failed to find evidence for  Saddam Hussein, of Iraq, for having weapons of mass destruction. I have commented on many occasions of the deficiencies of the CIA, particularly their covert operations. They are secretive and too many of their operations have given American foreign policy a very bad name. One thing you can do to retrieve many of my objections to the CIA, is to go to my website (themillercircle.org) and in the search bar type in the word CIA and you will be rewarded with a never-ending long list of missives, but one of my favorites and be found here. Charles Blow has written a stinging criticism of Donald Trump which you can read here. It’s a very good read.

On another disturbing note about the Trump election, Rachel Maddow conducted a post-election poll and here are some of the results

  • The stock market under President Obama soared and went from 7,49.09 (Dow) to 19,614.91 yet 39% of Trump voters think the stock market went down under President Obama
  • Unemployment under Obama dropped from 7.8% to 4.6%, Clinton, Johnson, Stein and other voters were well of that fact. But 67% of the Trump voters believe that unemployment rate increased under Obama
  • 40% of Trump voters believe that Trump won the popular vote.
  • 60% of Trump voters believe that millions voted illegally for Clinton
  • 73% of Trump voters believe that George Soros paid Trump protesters
  • 29% of Trump voters believe that California voters should not be included in the popular vote

From these astonishing facts, we have to assume that the Trump voters live in a different reality compared to the rest of the world that most of us live in. This too is a bit frightening to contemplate, because if we assume that the voters who voted for Trump can be this blind to reality, then are we not already firmly planted with at least one foot in the fascist camp, just waiting for the other shoe to be inserted in the phantasmagorical mess? None of us have a crystal ball from which we can anticipate the future. But we must resist with every fiber of our being, the Senate needs to be firm and resist every cabinet appointment for Trump. By doing this, we must never let him never forget that we will all go down fighting to save our Democracy, even though today, we find ourselves in an oligarchy, but hope springs eternal! (in this case I define an oligarchy as one in which the vast majority of Americans favor retention or expansion of Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, in poll after poll, but we don’t see this expressed in congress because the lobbyists and congress itself will pursue polices against the will of the people.

I am not sure if we will recognize the transition from oligarchy to fascism; maybe the transition will be too subtle for detection. But armed with a good bullshit detector, like the one God gave to me, I will steadfastly report back to you once I smell the foul in the air.

We have yet to understand the impact of FBI director Jim Comey’s untoward intrusion into our Federal election. But it does not look good and he should be charged with electioneering fraud.

Donald Trump and the racist-conspiracy theorists, generals and billionaires around him inherited and exploited this condition, just as they have inherited and will exploit the destruction of civil liberties and collapse of democratic institutions. Trump did not create this political, moral and intellectual vacuum. It created him.

So if we look at the Republican party today, we see a prefascist party with no moral code whatsoever. They are endangering the lives of our children and grandchildren, due to their complete mistrust of  global climate change science, they have put profit before humanity, but right now the seem to have the power to do whatever they want!

We used to count on the European community for steadfast wisdom, but those days are gone and Europe is beginning to look a lot like Trumpville in America. So they’re out.

We must resist their malevolent actions, which is clearly aimed at subduing us and our neighbors. I have never felt so alone in my own country. Everything Donald Trump stands for I must reject as unconstitutional

RFM

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What might have been

Posted on September 15th, 2016 in American Hegemony,Books,Capitalism,Climage Change,Economy,Education,War by Robert Miller
Children with gas masks 1941 in Great Britain

Fig 1  Children with gas masks 1941 in Great Britain

This is the story of what might have been, had FDR stayed alive to finish his fourth term as the President of the United States, he died just as his fourth term was beginning on April 12, 1945. This story begins in the more modern days of Global Climate Change and “Black Lives Matter.” Had FDR been around to finish his fourth term, things might have gone very differently: we might have avoided the Cold War. Let me say at the outset that I regard the Cold War as the most senseless, the most costly, the most wasteful thing that was ever perpetrated on the human soul. In addition to its cost [we are spending more than a trillion dollars every year] part of which is to support our nuclear capability. Now, Obama has recently announced that we will spend a trillion dollars to “modernize” our nuclear arsenal; creating in the process much smaller ‘bombs,’ the use for which has not yet been specified. Where is the logic in this? We should be putting all of our energy into getting rid of the Nukes, so at least some us can get some sleep. So far this news has not been contested by the American public, who will have to pay for this enhancement, while our roads and bridges continue to erode. We will miss the opportunity to invest in education and training to help advance our students and prepare them for better lives. We are still living with the dangerous aftermath of the nuclear arms race and no one knows if or when we will successfully mitigate the danger that these threats pose. World-wide I count the total number of lethal warheads at 15,493; the United States (7100), Russian Federation (formerly the Soviet Union, 7300), France (300), India (110), Great Britain (210), China (210), Israel (80), Pakistan (120), North Korea (8); [See Fig 2]

The number of Nukes still threatening the stability of our planet; based on national distribution

Fig 2. The number of Nukes still threatening the stability of our planet; based on national distribution

all of these nations have placed our civilization in a perilous future, one that has no guarantee that we will emerge from this nightmare with our bodies intact rather than be instantly  vaporized.   Should a single one of these be fired accidently or not, the whole array of these missiles might go off in some horrified, modified synchrony and in doing so eliminate all human life on this planet; perhaps we will go back to a state where only bacteria will survive and we will restart the life’s cycle all over again. Conceivably we might already have done this and we are currently enjoying life the second time around like Bill Murray’s rendition of Groundhog day.

The reader might ask, quite sensibly, why the author of this posting would wander back and revive interest in a President that has been dead for more than seventy years. But that is when the Cold War started and we have a special responsibility, because most of the blame for starting the Cold War falls on our shoulders:  we have to face the fact that We Started The Cold War.

Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning

These are the words Churchill used when the Battle of Britain was safely concluded in November 1942 at which time Pearl Harbor had already taken place, so the Americans were in the war, alongside Great Britain. Although it didn’t seem so at the time, it proved to be prophetic projection to the end of WW II; even though there would be many more years of bloodshed and the final blow of WW II would not be struck by the British, or the French, or the Americans, but it would be the Russians, who, against all odds defeated the vaunted sixth German army at the battle of Stalingrad; from that moment on it would be the Red Army, including the tank battle of Kursk that further destroyed the German army’s capacity to make war, and allowed the Russians to march right into Berlin, though they would pay an enormous price along the way: the final tally was 27 million Russians dead [mostly civilians, I recently heard a professor of Russian history proclaim that the death toll for the Russians in WW II could be as high as 40 million]. I mention this because far to few Americans are aware of the fact that Russia won WW II. Hitler send upwards of 200 divisions into the war against the Russians, but the most the allies faced was 10-15 divisions in the wars in Africa and Sicily; event in Sicily was a bloodbath for the Americans and British.

What I really want to talk about

I will come back to WW II later, but first I want to paint the full panoply of the collective threats we face today.

It seems to me and to many others I know, that the world is on fire, not just because of our many failures related to war on “terror,” and there are many of these, but also plaguing us is the incomplete recovery from the Great Recession, that has introduced all of us to the deficiencies of globalization, which concentrates too much wealth into the hands of those that don’t need it and don’t spend it appropriately. The most recent data, released very recently suggests that improvements in median income rose 5.2 % in 2015, but we will need to see a steady progress of these years, before we get too excited.

This is one reason that Donald J. Trump has has staked out a claim to be the President of of the United States. With all the uncertainties in this race, and the fact that the polls seem to be narrowing, he just might win the election, even though right now he has a special talent for inducing people not to like him at all.

Red Knot birds: are they on the road to extinction?

Posted on May 13th, 2016 in Climage Change by Robert Miller
red knot birds

Fig 1. red knot birds

The dilemma of the red knot bird not getting adequate nutrition

Fig 2.  The dilemma of the red knot bird not getting adequate nutrition

Today the New York Times has published an article on the red knot bird and whether they are on a glide path towards extinction. For that reason I am reissuing my previous articles on this problem. Each year the red knot makes an incredible migration of 9,300 miles from the tip of South America to the Arctic waters, breed and raise their young and then head back to their wintering place; this tale of annual migration is one of the most stunning examples of endurance and determination. Now we know that climate change is threatening the survival of this species. Their numbers used to be around 1 million, but recent surveys have demonstrated that the are down to about 1/4 of that number and many scientists believe that they are on a certain path for extinction. This is one of the most unique stories of the challenges we will face in the coming years because right now it doesn’t look like there is much we can do to avoid the path toward extinction that the red knot bird is on. The NYT story covers the events after the birds arrive in the Arctic; it is basically a story about bad timing. When the red knot arrives in the Arctic, spring has been going on for two weeks and as a result red knot chicks missed the peak of high insect availability. Missing the peak insect availability results in smaller red knot juveniles. By the time they arrive in Poland on their return trip they are smaller by 15% on average compared to their size in 1985. The smaller sized juveniles are at a disadvantage compared to their normal-sized adults. Normal-sized adults are able to dig deeper into the shoreline sand and successfully retrieve clams, but the smaller juveniles do not have the size to retrieve clams and are restricted to retrieving less nutritious grasses. The red knot has not been able to adjust their timing to leave earlier for the Arctic and unless they manage to do this, the survival of the red knot seems doomed. Can we use optogentics to alter the gene pool and provide the red knot with new clock genes? Hope springs eternal.

Several years ago (2010) I wrote an article entitled “The counter-intuitive interconnectedness of species” in which I explained how the red knot (Claidris canutus rufa) bird makes a remarkable, annual journey from Tierra del Fuego (off the southern tip of South America) to the Canadian Arctic where they nest over the short arctic summer and then return home again in the fall. On the way to its arctic stop, the red knot stops along the East coast to feed on eggs laid by the horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus), an ancient, primitive-looking crab, that is indigenous to the shorelines of the East coast. The horseshoe crab has been around for 475 million years, so they have sticking power, despite their seemingly clumsy ways and odd shape. The timing of the red knot arrival coincides with the breeding season of the horseshoe crab who come close to the shore to lay their eggs. The red knot birds have about two weeks to feed on the eggs and build up enough body fat and strength to complete their journey. But the horseshoe crabs are becoming scarce. They not only serve as bait for fisherman in the region, but their blood is used in medicine, as the Limulus amebocyte lysate (LAL) is used as a test to detect bacterial endotoxins, for which it is a highly sensitive, unique detection system. Although medical blood-letting is associated with release of the Limulus, a considerable number of the animals die from this experience. A NYT article on the plight of the red knot bird points out that the population of these birds has plummeted by 70 percent since the 1980s. The United States Fish and Wildlife service has proposed to designate the bird as threatened. If the red knot receives this distinction (we apparently will know by Friday), then the government will develop a plan for the bird’s recovery. If so, this will surely involve additional protections for the horseshoe crab, whose diminished numbers have no doubt contributed to the bird’s decline. If use of horseshoe crabs as bait declines through enforcing new limits, the medical use of the crab’s blood is very likely going to increase, given its importance.

Horseshoe Crab (Limulus polyphemus)

Horseshoe Crab (Limulus polyphemus)

One area where survival improvements could be made is to increase the likelihood that blood letting will be more compatible with crab survival. Some estimates suggest that as many as 20 to 30 percent of the crabs from which blood has been withdrawn do not survive. Since 2004, the demand for horseshoe crab blood has increased by 85 percent.

Given what seems to be a biological event of unique synchronization, biologists worry that global warming mechanisms that may interfere with this dependency (an early spring, such that the birds leave too early, or crabs breed out of sync, the threats of ocean acidity from absorbing carbon dioxide on the life cycle of the crab, changes in the arctic that could effect the breeding grounds of the red knot). One could go on and on with other possibilities. How this interdependency between the horseshoe crab and the red knot got started  is itself a remarkable, but unknown story. If crab shortages continue, will the red knot be able to find alternative sources of food? Given the huge drop in the red knot population that answer appears to be no.

Another animal impacted by the drop in the horseshoe crab population is the Atlantic loggerhead sea turtle that feed on Limulus: their numbers have been dropping. Harvesting crabs was banned in New Jersey in 2008.

loggerhead sea turtle (from Wikipedia)

The horseshoe crab has played a major role in our understanding of visual physiology; studies of this animal led to one Nobel Prize (1967, awarded to H.K. Hartline, Ragnar Granit and George Wald; Hartline was the Limulus guy).

RFM

– See more at: http://themillercircle.org/2013/11/will-the-red-knot-bird-survive-or-become-another-dodo-bird/#sthash.jp4VHLVw.dpuf

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