Troika of Tyranny and other thoughts

Somebody, you can be assured, was paid a pantload of money to come up with that snappy John Bolton catchphrase “troika of tyranny”.   Venezuela, we are now being told, is part of a modern-day Axis of Evil.   Axis of Evil was great, because Hitler’s government was the dominant Axis partner back in the day, so the Hitler piece was baked right into the phrase that paved the way for the Iraq war, one of our most glorious and victorious triumphs as a nation.    

Troika of Tyranny is perfect for today, fresh, with a touch of wicked irony, because of that Russian-sounding “troika”.   Plus, we learn that Venezuela has the world’s largest supply of fossil fuel (who knew?).   An American invasion would pay for itself, we’d just seize and privatize the petrol, according to John Bolton’s unimpeachable mustache.    

Anyway.

I was wondering how many billionaires we have in the USA today.  One second later google gave me this answer from Forbes, albeit a two year-old number (like POTUS himself):

There are 540 billionaires in the United States, with a combined net worth of $2.399 trillion, according to our 2016 list of the world’s richest people.    source

Reaching for my calculator, I tapped in $23,900,000,000,000 (it’s more now, two years at even 5% interest — hoo boy) and multiplied it by 1 %, just for giggles.   You wealthiest of Americans, kick in a one time donation of 1% of your fantastic wealth and let’s see what we could buy the American republic and our beleaguered environment.   The total from our 540 billionaires each kicking in 1% of their wealth would be $239,000,000,000.  

Even just the interest on that amount, that 1% of the wealthiest 0.01%’s wealth, would be a significant number.   At a modest 5% interest rate the interest on that sum, at the end of one year, $11,950,000,000 would be added to the public purse. A tidy little sum, boys and girls.  What would happen if we actually ate into the principal $239B to solve our most pressing social problems? [1]

Of course, that would be some kind of fucking commie Troika of Tyranny shit right there, even asking, let alone expecting, the richest among us to voluntarily not also be the greediest and most heedless among us.  It’s not like they have any obligation whatsoever to fucking parasites like us, or even to the earth we all live on.  

These are clearly the kind of thoughts that come of having too much time on one’s hands…

 

[1]  For a future post, break down some of what that $239 B could buy, socially: ensure free, public education and health care for all children, homes for the homeless, medical care without financial anxieties, funding programs for job training, meaningful hopelessness prevention therapy, protecting the environment, creating joyful community events.  

related thought:

Enacting laws to protect the environment, it turns out, is only the first step, funds must also be allocated.  Even then, without enforcement no law is of any consequence.   What do you call a law on the books that the authorities don’t enforce?   I don’t know either.

 

Interesting idea for a 20 trillion dollar economy

I just heard the president’s current chief of staff refer to the US economy as a twenty trillion dollar economy.   That would be $20,000,000,000,000.   I have no reason to doubt that almost unimaginably gigantic number.   Let’s take it as fact.  Divide that number by ten thousand.   You get two billion dollars.   

When you have very large sums of money, a tiny fraction invested at even a moderate interest rate for a ten year term can yield a mountain of money.   Here is a little math to illustrate this:

The stock market, over the years, pays about 10% a year.   When I was a kid savings banks used to pay 4% for what they called passbook savings accounts.  Let us take 1/20,000th of the value of the US economy or $1,000,000,000.   The average billionaire has at least one of these.   What happens if you just leave a billion dollars in a bank account for a year at 4%?

$1,000,000,000 would yield $40,000,000 in interest the first year if in a 4% passbook account at an old fashioned savings and loan bank.   If you let the money ride, that $40,000,000 gets added to the principle, which becomes $1,040,000,000 which the following year is $1,081,000,000.   After three years that number becomes $1,124,264,000.  At five years that account has $1,214,229,120.   The interest in the seventh year would be $52,532,408.   After ten years the account would have $1,477,295,382, some time in the eleventh year you’d have 50% more than you started with.

I read about a fascinating idea for funding solutions to longstanding social problems. It is called a Social Welfare Fund.  If the will is there to solve social problems, this idea would provide the funds.  The model has apparently already been used successfully in several places around the globe.  The article at the link above is very readable and makes a clear and convincing argument for Social Welfare Funds.

A Social Welfare Fund invests a large sum of money and the money it generates can be spent to ensure housing for all, a living wage, environmental protections, health care, job training, elimination of deadly diseases of despair, the elimination of poverty, providing dignity for elderly citizens, etc.  

If you took the first trillion dollars spent overthrowing Saddam Hussein in the lead up to perpetual war and put it into a social welfare fund, managed by a conservative who keeps the money in a 1960s savings bank at 4%, you would generate $40,000,000,000 the first year.   The fund would generate that annually, at the modest return of 4%.

Of course, few investors would be content with a 4% return.  If the trillion dollar Social Welfare Fund, more shrewdly invested, made 10% that’s $100,000,000,000 a year.   You could do a lot with that kind of money.

The president’s $11,000,000,000 temper tantrum

Look, full disclosure, I never liked any bully I’ve ever seen anywhere.  I don’t like braggarts.  I have a reflexive dislike of the extremely privileged, they like things just the way they are and would be fools not to, I suppose, but fuck ’em.   So I never liked our fake president, even when he was just a rich, racist, blustering publicity hog who put exaggerated accounts of his amazing sex life on the pages of the tabloids of NYC for years, questioned the legitimacy of our first mulatto president and called for the death penalty for wrongfully imprisoned black youth (Central Park Boys) even after they were exonerated by DNA evidence, waging a long public relations war to make and market his exclusive brand: winning.

I have nothing good to say about Trump.   That said, the cost of his senseless, history making 35 day government shut down (previously only done by rabid partisans in Congress) is now calculated at $11,000,000,000.   He was holding his breath until Democrats agreed to release $5,700,000,000 to build a border wall only his chanting crowds think is a good idea.    Not for nothing, the total cost of the wall is estimated at several times $5.7B.

The president has no notion of real world consequences, never having lived in the real world.   Being a millionaire by age eight will do that to a twisted little fucker. He doesn’t know how government works, or economics, or compromise or anything else that most people come to grasp at some point.   After the Trump heir apparent, Donald’s charismatic older brother Fred Junior, revealed himself as too decent to be a real estate titan, prior to drinking himself to death, Donald was the only viable heir to the  vast real estate empire of ruthless, grasping, imperious, law-flouting, fraud-hatching Fred Christ Trump.  Fred Christ Trump was the heir of his ruthless, grasping father who had been deported from his native Germany for evading military service and cheating on his taxes.   It’s in the blood.   These motherfuckers are just no good.   You could look it up.

So this president who never had to know the price of anything, because he never paid his own money for anything, finds out he cost the nation $11,000,000,000 by folding his arms and pretending to be a resolute leader.  What does he care?  Not a dime is coming out of his pocket.   Which is the way it usually goes when the super-entitled, hereditary super-wealthy fuck their social inferiors.

Fair is fair, yo.

Eerie Historical Echo

In 1981 Ronald Reagan fired 11,345 air traffic controllers who had been on strike, illegally, for two days, decertified their labor union and banned them from federal employment for life.  In 2019, Donald Trump is forcing 10,000 air traffic controllers to work for free, now for over a month, as he continues to hold the nation hostage over his irrational promise to his angry base, the finest people.

PATCO, Professional Air Traffic Controllers’ Organization, was one of the few unions (possibly the only) that backed the anti-union, free marketeer Ronald Reagan’s presidential bid in 1980.   Reagan supported PATCO’s calls for better working conditions, said he recognized how vital their services were.   Soon after his election as president, Reagan crushed PATCO when the air controllers went on strike in protest of bad working conditions, too many hours, too much stress.  A “sickout” (federal workers are forbidden by law to strike) a decade earlier by PATCO had resulted in some improvements to Air Traffic Control and the lives of the controllers.   Take it, Wikipedia:

The sickout led officials to recognize that the ATC system was operating nearly at capacity. To alleviate some of this, Congress accelerated the installation of automated systems, reopened the air traffic controller training academy in Oklahoma City, began hiring air traffic controllers at an increasing rate, and raised salaries to help attract and retain controllers.[2]   

Reagan, who had supported PATCO while campaigning in 1980, gave a big “fuck you” to the air traffic controllers when PATCO went on strike in 1981.  When striking PATCO members refused to immediately return to work he fired 11,345 of them and banned them from federal service for life.  He also fined PATCO into bankruptcy and made sure to decertify their union.   That should teach you not to ignore your oath not to violate 5 U.S.C. (Supp. III 1956) 118p (now 5 U.S.C. § 7311), which prohibits strikes by federal government employees, no matter how unreasonable or dangerous your conditions of employment.  Private employers were very impressed by Reagan’s swift action against unruly workers, as were Republican front men, who got busy curtailing the power of unionized labor.

The crushing of PATCO was the turning point for Republican anti-unionism (organized labor traditionally votes Democratic), which spread over the next few decades until unions today, whose membership has shrunk from about 25% of the American workforce to about 10%, have a shred of their former influence on working conditions, safety, wages, health benefits, retirement packages etc.

Today, almost forty years later, another conservative president is forcing 10,000 air traffic controllers to work for free while he tries to twist the nation’s arm to build a symbol of his ability to keep even the most irrational of his campaign promises.   He can lie about everything else, and nonchalantly does, but he is not going to lie to adoring crowds of his supporters who chanted “Build That Wall!” and “Lock Her Up!”  

Mitch McConnell, intractable turtle faced motherfucker, sent a unanimous bill to the president keeping the government open, right before the deadline for funding all operations of government.   The president was poised to sign it, but Prime Minister Anne Coulter and Minister of OxyContin Rush Limbaugh vetoed that and the president unilaterally shut down the government, folded his arms, and now blames the Democrats for not budging off their stubborn refusal to give the giant irrational baby his $5,700,000,000 bottle.  

Fucking Mitch McConnell, proud and unrepentant hyper-partisan who wields unethical power for the same reason a dog licks his balls (because he can), is keeping his head in his shell, waiting this one out.   He won’t send any bill to the president, he says, that the president won’t like.  Build that wall, Mitch, Lock HER UP!

What is it with right wing presidents and royally fucking the people who are tasked with making sure planes full of Americans don’t crash?

Context from reading history

As far as history, I am like that crusty, plainspoken character played by the inimitable Dennis Hopper in True Romance, I find that shit fascinating.    The reverberations of historical events haunt me, literally.   Some days I am standing on the edge of that ravine northwest of Vishnevitz in the Ukraine, on that airless night of August 1943, with the rest of my once large family, waiting my turn for the bullet in the back of my head.

Sekhnet says that’s exactly why she avoids the subject of history.  Too horrible!   Too distressing!   Humans suck!

Aside: Years ago I attended a free concert David Bromberg did for WBAI, in the church not far from Rodney Dangerfield’s club where WBAI broadcast from at the time.   By the urinal there was some graffiti about a popular and witty BAI host, Steve Post.   “Steve Post sucks” it read.   Under that someone had written “No he doesn’t.”  Under that:  “Yes I do.”

Yes, sure, humans suck.   We do.  It’s a large part of what we do.  With razor teeth and a demented, bloody smile.   Still, history is some fascinating shit.  There have been inspiring moments of human courage and creativity, even in the worst chapters of that horrific chronicle [1].  The entire story of our collective sucking, biting and healing is endlessly compelling to me.

A few years back I discovered a great podcast by a guy who also loves history.   Dan Carlin is the guy’s name and his excellent long-form podcast is called Hardcore History (highly recommended).   He tends to focus on wars over the ages, military history, strategy, philosophy, what the wars were like for the civilians, the soldiers who fought them.  He seems to read everything available on a chosen subject and then, over the course of a few months when he’s digested it and thought it over, he puts out a series of long shows (3-5 hours each) on the subject.   This format enables him to go into great depth on the subject, whether its the Roman Empire, the Mongol Empire, the Persian Empire, World War One or his current series, Supernova in the East, the military juggernaut that was modern Japan.

It struck me the other day that Carlin, like the best historians, often provides larger insights into our condition here. Describing the infamous Rape of Nanking, after the Japanese invasion of Shanghai, barbarous brutality as sickening as anything the Nazis were doing in their theatre of operations, he makes the point that while the Japanese atrocities were indeed horrific there was nothing novel about it, really.  He gives the example of a Roman army, besieging a Roman city, two thousand years earlier.   The Roman law was that if the city surrendered, the spoils all went to the victorious general.  On the other hand, if the legions had to invade to take the city, it was every man for himself.   The city was about the surrender.  The Roman legions invaded anyway, raping, looting, disemboweling, impaling, beheading, burning their fellow Romans.  The Rape of Nanking had nothing on those motherfuckers many centuries earlier though, of course, as modern-day horrors go, it was impressively sickening.

Not to excuse the Japanese for such brutality, or course.   Carlin later points out that the Japanese made a problematic deal when they allied themselves with Nazi Germany, how it hurt Japan’s ability to diplomatically interact with the rest of the word.  Carlin, on the Germans under Hitler, whose excesses colored the world’s view of their allies:  “… these people are book burners, they persecute minorities and have government sanctioned pogroms,  like Kristalnacht, they’re against freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, they don’t have any due process, they don’t believe in equality under the law, they have a harsh occupation, they believe in collective punishment… the list goes on and on.”

The cliche that history repeats itself is more accurately rendered as history echoes itself.   We don’t have exact replication of events and outcomes, but there are definite echoes.   It’s easy to see a blustering, ignorant, hate spewing angry demagogue as “Hitler”, but Hitler was a unique, if also banal, mix of charisma, will, psychosis and rabid hatreds suited perfectly to the time of his Thousand Year Reich.  

Still, Carlin’s quick list of Hitlerian attributes is striking and resonant.  Book burners hate so-called intellectuals who marshal so-called facts to persuade people of their point of view.  Minorities by definition are at the mercy of majorities, who have no obligation to show them any mercy (unless the minority in question is fantastically wealthy, of course).   Freedom of thought?  FUCK YOU!   Bands of German youth, in the decade leading up to Hitler’s rise, marched under the slogan “Wir Scheissen Auf die Frieheit!” (we shit on Freedom).  I’ve got your freedom of speech right here, motherfucker, as much as you can afford to buy.   Freedom of religion, yes, of course, as long as you accept that Christ is our king (in Germany the king was not Christ).   Due process under the law?  The ruler does what he wants (torture detainees designated “enemy combatants” so as to circumvent human obligations under treaty, the Geneva Conventions and the laws of war) and forces lawsuits to decide the matter, torturing while the court cases drag on.  Same with family separations, Muslim bans, transexual bans, forcing laborers to work without pay, etc.   Sue me, motherfuckers.  Equality under the law?  Nigger, please.  Harsh occupation is necessary since the people we conquered are savage animals, same with collective punishment– you fuck with us we will bulldoze your entire goddamned village, or, how about the Mother of All Bombs, you like her better?

Carlin’s rattled off list reverberated in my mind after I heard it.   I made a recording of that minute of his four hour Supernova in the East II, transcribed it just now.   If you burn books, friend, you are on your way.   I can smell the paper reaching 451 degrees fahrenheit.  What the fuck is going on here?    It is a time for courage and heroes, millions of them.

 

[1]  the following is worth quoting in its entirety.   The full post is here.

I will end with Howard Zinn’s inspiring message, delivered as an older man, talking about why he studied and taught history, why he wrote A People’s History of the United States:

“I wanted, in writing this book, to awaken a consciousness in my readers, of class conflict, of racial injustice, of sexual inequality and of national arrogance, and I also wanted to bring into light the hidden resistance of the People against the power of the establishment.   

I thought that to omit these acts of resistance, to omit these victories, however limited, by the people of the United States, was to create the idea that power rests only with those who have the guns, who possess the wealth.  I wanted to point out that people who seem to have no power — working people, people of color, women– once they organize and protest and create national movements, they have a power that no government can suppress.

“I don’t want to invent victories for people’s movements, but to think that history writing must simply recapitulate the failures that dominate the past is to make historians collaborators in an endless cycle of defeat.  And if history is to be creative, if it’s to anticipate a possible future without denying the past, it should, I think, emphasize new possibilities by disclosing those hidden episodes of the past when, even if in brief flashes, people showed their ability to resist, to join together, occasionally to win.

“I am supposing, or perhaps only hoping, that our future may be found in the past’s fugitive moments of compassion rather than in the solid centuries of warfare.”

Good Government

To a person who inherits $300,000,000, like each of the Koch boys and our current president, who actually got more than $400,000,000 from his tough father, good government is one that keeps its hands off their fortunes while protecting them from anybody who wants to rob them.   That government also provides a strong military for general defense, good roads, bridges, electricity, sewage systems, police and fire departments, airports and so forth, the things necessary for all citizens, rich or poor.  The rest: liberty! [1]  

For all other citizens, we expect good government to provide other things.   A free, quality public education, for example.  Affordable health care.  Programs to protect the weak, the disabled, children, the elderly.  Regulations to ensure that the environment is not destroyed and that poison is not piped into our homes.   Laws to protect vulnerable citizens, and enforcement of anti-discrimination and labor laws, among other things.

The long, openly racist rule in the former Confederacy, for example, would never have ended but for federal enforcement of Civil Rights laws (Malcolm X more accurately called these rights Human Rights).   The constitution was amended and laws were made after the Civil War to enforce these new rights for freed slaves (and everybody else), but states and the Supreme Court soon nullified these for a century or so.  During that century of terror and virtual slavery under a new name, lynching was commonly used to enforce Home Rule in states that had rewritten history to make outfits like the Ku Klux Klan heroic protectors of white womanhood in the eyes of angry white citizens who believed in the old ways.

I was amazed to learn, during Constitutional Law class in the first term of law school, that much of the long overdue federal enforcement of Civil Rights in the former Confederacy (and in many other places where racist practices were written into the law) came under the constitution’s Commerce Clause.   The Commerce Clause gives the federal government the right to intervene in state matters when interstate commerce is involved.  The segregated restaurant in Georgia served potatoes from Idaho: commerce clause!

I learned recently that the Commerce Clause had been a compromise with slaveholders, they received a guarantee that slaves could be imported from Africa for at least twenty more years in exchange for the Commerce Clause. Good on you, you murdering racist motherfuckers, sealing your own eventual doom with that sweet deal.

I have an old friend who worked as a corporate lawyer for a few years until his conscience got the better of him.   He became a lead lawyer for the earth, constantly arguing in federal court on behalf of endangered species, poisoned land and water, destructive policies pursued for profit, often in violation of existing regulations.   His job was to convince a federal judge to force the responsible government agency to step in and enforce its own laws.  Ain’t dat some shit?   His organization would bring lawsuits to force the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to enforce its own rules against a massively powerful company like Monsanto, whose chemicals do great damage to the ecosystem.  Monsanto would send an army of the best lawyers money can buy.  My friend fought them toe to toe for years.   He won quite a few cases, though many were also lost.   He is leaving that job after many years pretty exhausted, as you can imagine.

When our current president took office he hired, as head of the EPA, a climate change denier who, as governor, had sued the EPA many times, on behalf of toxic polluters like his good friends and political backers.   His brief as EPA Administrator was to get meddlesome government regulators off the backs of job creators.    Fuck nontoxic drinking water, mercury, arsenic, toxins in the air, destruction of the biosphere… CLEAN COAL!   FOSSIL FUEL!  USA! USA!!!  [2]

I’m reading Juan Gonzalez’s fascinating book on progressive politicians struggling to remake America’s cities.   He concedes that the jury is out on all of them, including Bill de Blasio, the main politician he discusses in Reclaiming Gotham,  but the chapter detailing de Blasio’s first hundred days lays out a lot of admirable moves from the administration that promised an end to the Tale of Two cities that has long been life in New York City, increasingly the playground and safety deposit box for the international rich.

In contrast to Trump’s picks to head agencies (with an eye toward disabling them), de Blasio picked as head of the Human Resources Administration, the organization that provides all services to the city’s poor, the disabled, the elderly, and many services to children, a Legal Aid lawyer who had sued the HRA many times over its many abuses and shoddy practices.   Who better to run the agency, if your intent is to make it serve its public mandate better? 

The argument rages, between those who view fairness and justice as the same thing, who believe the weakest among us deserve society’s protection, as does the earth we all live on, and those who believe only in infinite, unmolested wealth for themselves.   The sides are drawn, between those who consider basic fairness an aim of human society and those who believe justice means preserving existing privileges for the few at all costs, at any cost.  

Untold millions are spent every year by the super-wealthy to advance the idea that liberty means a government that coerces nobody to do anything they don’t want, a government small enough to drown in a bathtub.   These determined fucks are at it around the clock, with dozens of well-funded think tanks, where the only thought is how to change the public dialogue to convince at least 40% of citizens of a philosophy that cares nothing for them, for the earth they live on, for the future of their children’s children.

There is no price too high, for most inheritors of vast fortunes (and most self-made billionaires, for that matter, in my ruthless opinion), to make sure the government keeps its hands off their fortunes.   Pave the goddamned roads, keep the planes running on time, have cops to protect me, a fire department, top notch sewage disposal, all the rest of those basic services of civilization, just keep your fucking hands off my wealth.  In fact, stop fucking looking at it, you entitled, class-war stoking social justice warrior fucks!

 

[1] The “ideology” these oligarch-types have devised, to make themselves appear morally upright, is called “libertarianism” which we can all agree sounds much better than “greedy assholism” or “fuck y’all, I got mine, bitches!”.

[2]  Quick hit on google:

President Trump’s first EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt, resigned effective July 6, 2018, amid a series of scandals. Deputy Administrator Andrew Wheeler, a former coal industry lobbyist, started serving as acting administrator on July 9, 2018.

 

 

Our Corporate Democracy

Democracy is never perfect, of course, even in a majority-ruled society of twenty people somebody is always going to be unhappy with the final vote.   On the other hand, ideally, the minority gets a fair chance to persuade the others of their point of view, influence the conversation so that compromises can be made to protect their interests before the final vote.   An important element of democracy is protection of the rights of minorities, those who lose the vote.   Democracy is not supposed to be a zero sum game where 51-49 always wins and those with the 51 votes get everything and the side with 49 votes gets to simply suck it, losers.   That’s democracy by schoolyard bullying.

Rule by the people, in America, is done through elected representatives who are supposed to advocate for us.  It is far from a perfect system, we know.   In New York City, where I live, a billionaire who was mayor for the first eight years of the decade decided he wanted four more years.  In NYC mayors are limited to two terms by law. This super-wealthy businessman turned politician was intent on a third term.   He enlisted key ambitious city politicians to overrule the will of New Yorkers that mayors be limited to two terms, a will expressed twice in recent years, so that he could run for a third term.   It was to be a one shot deal, special for him, because of the Great Recession of 2008, a steely billionaire genius of business was needed, he argued.   He outspent his Democratic opponent $108,371,688 to $9,352,416 and narrowly won his third term. [1]  Money talks, bullshit walks, it was the rich fuck’s own money, nothing to see here, freedom of speech, blah, blah, blah.

Democracy, as it is explained in American civics class, is rule by the majority respecting the rights and needs of the minorities.  Democracy is an imperfect and messy system, as prone to corruption as any, but in theory and practice it is superior to having a king, a dictator, military rule.   

Sadly we have some very privileged people, born into obscene wealth and believing, no doubt, their high birth reflects the will of God, who have worked hard and shrewdly the last forty or fifty years to change our political system, to move it away from democracy and toward something else, a system that protects their super-precious liberty above all else.   They have moved America toward a system that actively and increasingly protects the liberty of a few to have everything, to destroy the earth itself in pursuit of even more wealth, the liberty to do whatever they want with nobody to tell them no.  An end to government coercion and tyranny, so-called health, safety and environmental regulations that kill the initiative of our most valuable citizens, the “job creators”.  

After all, poor people who do dirty and dangerous jobs have taken on the risk themselves– liberty!   Assumption of risk!   Why should a coal mine owner be forced to pay if a careless miner is dismembered?   Liberty.   Same goes for so-called health regulations — everyone has the liberty to guard their own health.   Drinking water, the tap water piped into your house is unsafe to drink you say?   Have bottles of it flown in from Fiji, that artisanal water is said to be the best in the world.   As for the earth, it is ours to do with as we please, in the name of liberty and unlimited profit, just as Jesus himself drew it up.

These ultra-wealthy “libertarians” have been organizing and spending pallets of money to advance their extremist views, with increasing success in recent years.  In addition to spending billions on electoral advertising they have formed numerous “think tanks”, some of which have become prestigious, funded academic programs, created a corporate entity that writes laws for state legislators (ALEC) established a nationwide, ideologically pure right-wing business network for law students and prospective federal judges (The Federalist Society) and taken dozens of other intelligent steps to influence public policy.  The fucking Koch Brothers, the main architects of this political revolution, have recently crawled out from under their $100,000,000,000 rock to take a few victory laps before they die (they are both around 80).  

I have to touch up this piece about the history of their movement, with its roots in the lunatic fringe John Birch Society (Republican president Dwight D. Eisenhower was a Commie, so was the Republican Earl Warren) but you can get more details of their successful long game here. 

I encountered this great quote from one of our incompetent president’s most manifestly incompetent cabinet secretaries, Betsey DeVos.   The controversial Ms. DeVos won confirmation as Secretary of Education by a single vote — the tiebreaker cast by fellow Christian zealot Vice President Mike Pence. [2]   51-50, fair is fair, Ms. DeVos, who gave so many of her family’s millions to extreme right wing causes over the years, got her reward.  She is currently in charge of the educational policies of our great nation.   Here is what she said about her family’s political generosity (from Wikipedia):

The Atlantic noted that DeVos had indicated in a 1997 op-ed that she expects results from her political contributions. “My family is the largest single contributor of soft money to the national Republican Party. I have decided to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence,” she wrote. “Now I simply concede the point. They are right.”[39]She also stated in the op-ed, “We expect to foster a conservative governing philosophy consisting of limited government and respect for traditional American virtues … We expect a return on our investment; we expect a good and honest government. Furthermore, we expect the Republican Party to use the money to promote these policies and, yes, to win elections.”[40]

Her expectations have certainly not been disappointed, even though she supported first Jeb Bush and Carly Fiorina, before switching to another Republican loser Marco Rubio.   As the Wiki on this fine woman points out, she may have hesitated for a moment, before throwing her support to the candidate the Republicans eventually chose in 2016: 

In March 2016, DeVos described Donald Trump as an “interloper” and said that he “does not represent the Republican Party”.[14]

But now Trump is the Republican Party.  Look, Betsey, you get what you pay for.  She’s not kicking, she and her husband are currently saving tens of millions in taxes every year and she is in charge of American educational policy, 51-50, fair is fair. Plus, they got Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, two extremely conservative Catholic lads from the finest Christian prep school in the nation.   Not bad!  Soon poor women may not be able to get abortions in America anymore.  Won’t Jesus be happy!

 

 

[1] Juan Gonzalez, Reclaiming Gotham, Bill De Blasio and the Movement to End America’s Tale of Two Cities, 2017, p. 154.

[2]  Wikipedia:

As expected, there was a 50–50 tie on the final vote, with all Democrats and independents, along with two Republicans (Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski), voting in opposition to DeVos, while the other fifty Republican senators voted in support of the confirmation, including Senator Jeff Sessions, who himself had been nominated by the Trump administration for the post of United States Attorney General. Republicans scheduled Sessions’s confirmation vote after DeVos’s so that he would be able to cast his vote in support of DeVos. Had his confirmation vote been earlier than hers, he would have been forced to resign from the Senate, therefore losing a vital vote for the Republicans on the confirmation.[74][75][76] Since there was a tie, Vice President Mike Pence had to step in to decide the vote as the President of the Senate.[77] He cast his tie-breaking vote in favor of DeVos to officially confirm her as education secretary.[78] This was the first tie decided by a vice president on any vote in the Senate since theGeorge W. Bush administration.[79][80]