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Jack is a graduate of Rutgers University where he majored in history. His career in the life and health insurance industry involved medical risk selection and brokerage management. Retired in Florida for over two decades after many years in NJ and NY, he occasionally writes, paints, plays poker, participates in play readings and is catching up on Shakespeare, Melville and Joyce, etc.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Two Songs, Two Books, Insight into Bannon, Moral Corruptness and Real Serious Advice to Republicans

Short Vacation Coming Up ... See ya in a couple of weeks.  Meanwhile, read newspapers written by journalists;  keep watching CNN, PBS and MSNBC to keep up on the truth ... and occasionally watch Fox so that you get to know the enemy that is out there, misleading and misguiding the gullible! , Don't let them get away with the lies on which the present Administration is based. Example:  Make it clear that you know despite what the gullible have been told, that the Affordable Care Act is NOT a disaster. Whoever says that is a liar.  Including the President.  It's that simple.

Let's start off with the House Intelligence Committee's hearings in which FBI Director James Comey was the major witness.  

The Republican members of the Committee seemed to think the most important thing on the agenda was to unearth the source of the leak which resulted in the resignation of General Michael Flynn, a possible Russian-paid advocate, who lied in his confirmation hearing, from his position of National Security Advisor after just a few weeks.  

The Democrats seemed to be interested in the Bureau's ongoing investigation of possible connections between persons in the Trump campaign organization and the Russian government which it has been established tried to intervene in our 2016 election. 

Which direction seems more important to you?  A probably illegal leak that ended up removing a highly questionable person, Michael Flynn, from a highly sensitive position or the efforts of a foreign power to undermine our democracy with the support of one of our major political parties?  You can see that both issues are somewhat (ahem) related.  You tell me.  And you might tell your House Representative as well if you are unfortunate enough to have one who is a Republican.

Hey, your house is burning down.  Someone calls 911.  The fire department comes and puts out the fire.  What is more important?  The arson investigation or who made the call.  Was it on their own  phone?  Or someone elses?  Who would even care, other than the arsonist who wants to change the subject and escape the spotlight. Get it?
Jack Lippman

This is My Country

Here’s the lyrics to a 1940 song by Don Raye and Al Jacobs which has managed to stick in my memory over the past 77 years.  Dig deeply into your mind and surely, you will remember the words of the choruses and the ending. 
What difference if I hail from North or South
Or from the East or West?
My heart is filled with love for all of these
I only know I swell with pride and deep within my breast
I thrill to see Old Glory paint the breeze
Chorus 1
This is my country!  Land of my birth!
This is my country!  Grandest on earth!
I pledge thee my allegiance, America, the bold
For this is my country, to have and to hold
Chorus 2
This is my country!  Land of my choice!
This is my country!  Hear my proud voice!
I pledge thee my allegiance, America, the bold
For this is my country, to have and to hold
I pledge thee my allegiance, America, the bold
For this is my country, to have... and to hold

All Americans can sing this song with honest praise.  But all Americans are not alike these days.  Today, the differences are more than the geographic ones referred to in the “verse,” differences which are easily overcome.  They are economic and sociological.  All Americans are not like you, reader of these words!  Many are far, far, different from you and yet they are as justified as are you in singing out, “This is My Country.”

Okay, enough philosophizing.  Here’s the point.  Many of us who think we know the economic and sociological answers to today’s problems are ignorant of the views of many other Americans who agree with the title of the song, “This is My Country.” Indeed, it is their country as much as it is ours, yours and mine.

It is up to us to learn where these Americans are coming from, and why they are the way they are.  I recommend two books which came out last year, “White Trash” by Nancy Isenberg (despite its seemingly pejorative title, it is fair and honest history and sociology) and J.D. Vance’s “Hillbilly Elegy.”  Both are “easy reads.”

There will be a long “on reserve” list for both of these at your public library, so you might want to actually buy them, sharing the cost with a couple of friends. You probably can read them both on line for a reasonable cost, as well.

For an article excerpting some of the ideas expressed in “Hillbilly Elegy,” click right here.  I suspect Vance supported Republicans in 2016, just as I suspect Isenberg was for the Democrats.  Her book is subtitled “The 400 Year Untold History of Class in America” and some excerpts from it can be found by clicking right here. 

I’ve read both books and recommend that before you next sing the words to the song shown above, that you do the same.
Jack Lippman

Ballad of the Gullibles

And pursuing this line of thought further, here’s a song lyric (or poem) I wrote a couple of months ago.  I call it the “Ballad of the Gullibles.” (I may have even put an earlier version on the blog.)

Make up your own tune if you wish. I suggest that when you do so, try to accent the next to last syllable in odd numbered lines, and the syllable before that one in even numbered lines. Just somewhat extend them. Anyone got a guitar handy?  But do with it as you wish:
1 Never shopped in Whole Foods
2 Nor tuned to NPR. 
3 And my idea of heaven
4 Is takin’ in NASCAR.
5 Don’t like reading print books,
6 Nor list’ning to a poem.
7 Got me a Smith and Wesson
8 To fortify my home.
9 Wendy’s or McDonalds,
10 That’s where I choose to dine,
11 And buddy, please believe me,
12 The Donald is just fine.
Seriously for a moment, these are precisely the voters that the Democratic Party failed to reach in the 2016 election.  And don’t forget to read those two books for deeper insight into this problem.  Especially “Hillbilly Elegy.”

What Makes Bannon Tick!
Steve Bannon’s Preposterous ‘Rosebud’ Strategy
Quoting from Bloomberg.com, Donald Trump’s chief strategist traces his fire-breathing populism to a financial calamity his father suffered years ago at the hands of “evil financial types.”  Read this sad story in the words of Bloomberg View’s Francis Wilkinson and learn what supposedly transformed a Goldman Sachs investment banker (oddly enough who gave no investing advice to his dad) with a Harvard MBA into an anti-elitist champion of the common man.   Bloomberg View describes the tale as “What a narrative! What villainy! What bunk!”
Just click on.  Read it now!
If Bannon lived in the real world, his father’s misfortune would have allied him with the Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warrens of the world, seeking redress for those who are constantly being hurt by the financial elite.  But no, he became so angered that rather than “construct” solutions to such economic problems, he chose to “deconstruct” the entire system and found Breitbart, and eventually Donald Trump, to be ideal avenues to enable him to do this. Bannon believes that by putting power into the hands of “Big Brother,” a new and better order might be established.  He has little faith in the kind of economic and political systems that our democratic process produces.  Leaving such decision in the hands of the people, democratically, is not Bannon’s way.  Once given power, an autocratic Chief Executive must use it to set things right!  
And the real tragedy is that Steven Bannon may be correct!  Proof of that is the result of the 2016 elections, where many Americans voted for things which anyone with half a brain would recognize were not in their interests, and which have put the Republic and the Constitution at great risk!  Could it be that the voices of practically half of the nation’s voters cannot be trusted any longer?   Do we deserve democracy in this country?  Are we intelligent and knowledgeable enough to handle it?   Bannon says “No”  and thanks the Republicans for putting the ball in his hands.  What do YOU say?  Is the future of the democratic process in the United States a dim one?
Read the article!  Just click on this line.   
And here’s a quote from H.L. Mencken who said a lot of stupid things in his journalistic career, but did get it right when he said (and the comments in red are mine) the following, which sort of validates Steve Bannon’s position:
“As democracy is perfected, (or is “cheapened” as more and more people vote) the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul (not the brains) of the people.  On some great and glorious day (Nov. 8, 2016), the plain (unsophisticated and uneducated) folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire (not their brain’s) and at last, and the White House will be adorned (with a President who merely decorates the place, but doesn’t do the job there he is supposed to do) by a downright moron.”

Mallignant Moral Corruptness
The other evening, feeling that America was on the right track after seeing numerous pundits and talking heads on CNN, PBS and MSNBC explain (1) how the Republican proposed plan to replace the Affordable Care Act could not possibly succeed, and (2) how there was no way the man in the White House could get out of his blatant lies about Barack Obama, or the British, or anybody, tapping his Trump Tower phones and (3) how repeated court decisions were preventing Executive Orders from barring certain people from six Middle East countries from entering the United States, I decided to switch over to Fox News. 
There I saw Sean Hannity and his guest, Ann Coulter, contradict everything everyone else was saying with a barrage of bigoted and inaccurate lies.  As they bleated out their "fake news," they took pains to make sure to tell their gullible viewers that what everyone else in the media was reporting was itself "fake news."  Remember, more people watch Fox than watch any of the other media sources mentioned above.  That is why they are so gullible.  They have been conditioned, many throughout the two terms of Barack Obama’ presidency, into believing that lies are truths if they serve your purposes*.   Think back to the “birther” lies, given unwarranted credibility for years by the present occupant of the White House.  Watch “Judge” Jeanine Pirro on Fox, after which you have my permission to vomit. (She’s on Fox Saturday’s at 9:00 p.m. and also available on line.)  She will explain how “the left is trying to change the law and standards of journalism to fit their agenda.”  Far too many Americans believe such drivel.  Enough to put a scurrilous real estate peddler in the White House! Liberals must follow this cathartic process to understand the depth of the malignant moral corruptness of those now running the government.   RESIST!

*Some years ago, a conservative gentleman in my community posted an email video of some Representatives playing video games in the back rows of the legislative chamber in which they were sitting.  He claimed they were Democrats in the United States House of Representatives.  I investigated the video and determined that while these wrong-doers may have been Democrats, the video was made in the Connecticut State House and not in the Congress of the United States, as his email claimed.  When I pointed this out to him, he explained that his lying was justified since it served the purpose of the point he was making.  I pity this poor fellow, whose letters occasionally appear in the Palm Beach Post, because his moral compass’ needle which should point in the direction of truth is misaligned, and he, like millions of Americans, including the man in the White House, have lost the ability to distinguish lies from truth.  We are going through a major crisis in American history.  It is up to each and every one of us to do something about it.  For starters, go to www.actforward.net.  That site will point you in the right direction, the direction of truth.  

Free Advice Department

I’ve been pretty free with advice to Democrats as to what they must do to regain power in this country.  I’ve told them to concentrate on winning state legislative races, and even Congressional races, where the Republican margin of victory in recent balloting was close, under 5%.  The bigger victories, in the Senate, the governorships and the Presidency will automatically follow.

Well, I am now willing to help those who run the G.O.P.  Down deep, I do have some non-partisan instincts.  

Here is what they must do to get their bogus health insurance program through the House and the Senate to replace the Affordable Care ActOf course, my personal choice would be “Medicare for Everyone,” but perhaps this “back door” approach would appeal to the G.O.P.

First, and this will make them deliriously happy, they can get rid of the “mandate” requiring all individuals to participate or pay a fine.  Then, they must get rid of that burdensome requirement that insurance companies participating in the plan cannot reject people with risky pre-existing conditions.  Insurers will love that!  They could then lower their rates.

To balance these changes, anyone rejected for insurance due to such pre-existing conditions, regardless of age, will immediately be included in Medicare, with the government stepping in as the insurer of last resort.  That’s where they would be at age 65 anyway, and this way, the government gets years more of premium payments.  This just lets them in sooner.   Precedent exists.  This is the same thing now done for individuals, regardless of age, with kidney disease requiring dialysis.

And as for those stupid (or wealthy) enough to choose not to participate in any health insurance plan, and would no longer be subject to a fine for not doing so, any time that they change their minds they may apply to a company for coverage, but with a 30% increase in premium, the price they pay for not opting in initially.  If the insurance company rejects them because of a pre-existing condition, they would be immediately included in Medicare with all the others that insurance companies have turned down, but at a permanent 30% increase in Medicare premiums, forever.  The sunny side of the street for these folks is that if they never apply for health insurance coverage and can remain healthy until the usual Medicare entry age (65), they will have come out far ahead financially. 

Finally, for those who want to participate but who cannot afford a low deductible plan, with low co-payments, because of its cost, a choice of government subsidies (as is the case with the ACA) or a tax credit, whichever is greater, would be available to reduce the premium.  The maximum subsidy or tax credit available would be considerably higher than it is under the Affordable Care Act. (That is the ACA’s greatest shortcoming, in my opinion.)  And if this is not sufficient, Health Savings Accounts, on which contributions would be deductible from taxable income, and on which accruing interest would be tax-free, would be established for help in paying the premiums, if needed.  Even wealthy purchasers of health insurance will like that.

This isn’t as neat and clean as “Medicare for Everyone” but could it be an alternative acceptable to Republicans?

Many readers of this blog are alerted by Email every time a new posting appears.  If you wish to be added to that Email list, just let me know by clicking on Riart1@aol.com and sending me an Email.  

BY CLICKING ON THAT SAME ADDRESS, Riart1@aol.com   YOU ALSO CAN SEND ME YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS TO BE PUBLISHED IN THIS BLOG AS WELL AS YOUR COMMENTS.  (Comments can also be made by clicking on the "Post a Comment" link at the blog's end.)


HOW TO VIEW OLDER POSTINGS.                                                
To view older postings on this blog, just click on the appropriate date in the “Blog Archive” midway down the column off to the right, or scroll down until you see the “Older Posts” notation at the very bottom of this posting.  The “Search Box” in the right side of the posting also may be helpful in locating a posting topic for which you are looking.

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Jack Lippman 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Letter to Trump, What Republicans Believe, Obamacare vs. tRumpcare, Georgia's Sixth C.D. and a Note from a Follower

What Republicans Really Believe

A theme running through my recent postings has been that all the Republicans are interested in are reducing taxes for the wealthy and businesses, and getting rid of regulations which supposedly hamper businesses … and that they don’t give a damn about anything else, regardless of what they say.

Some Republican actually believe in a totally unregulated laissez-faire economy with just enough taxes to support the military for national defense.  They are dinosaurs and have no regard for their fellow Americans who just may not have climbed the ladder of opportunity as successfully as they (or their parents) had.  They might even be religious, but usually their faith allows these beliefs.  Check out Calvinism and Predestination.  I pity these folks.  Let them read Ayn Rand to their heart’s content. 

Ayn Rand

But they don’t belong in government, which they despise at all levels.

Other Republicans would vote for the Devil, for Hitler or for anybody whom their accountant said would result in lower taxes for them.  They care for nothing else.  These greedy, self-centered people should go to hell.   Some Jews in Germany supported Hitler initially because they feared the Communists would bring about a form of “wealth redistribution.” Where did this lead?  The Holocaust!
Jack Lippman


Obamacare vs. tRumpcare 

One thing that those who opposed the Affordable Care Act rarely mention, and that proponents of the any Republican plan to replace it both seem to have ignored, is that the price of the health insurance policies purchased from the private health insurance companies choosing to participate in the program is determined, not by the Federal government, but by the insurance companies.  All the government asks are that things like allowing dependents to remain on the policies to age 26, eliminating lifetime maximums and that applicants’ pre-existing conditions not be considered are included in the policies.  These things of course, expose the companies to additional risks and are factored into their premiums.

While the rates are subject to State approval by State insurance departments, the Federal Government has nothing to do with the prices of the policies.  (Often overlooked in the discussions of health care is the fact that the 1945 McCarran-Ferguson Act leaves regulation of insurance to states!  Allowing "competition" across State lines, frequently touted by Republicans, violates this.)  If a policy has a high deductible, it can be sold for a low price.  Many purchase such policies within the ACA’s framework which insists that participating companies offer policies with varying levels of out of pocket costs and benefits.  If they later are dissatisfied with the out of pocket cost required, they have no reason to blame the government.  It was their choice.  Sadly, often that choice was all they could afford, but this is an area of the ACA which should be remedied with increased subsidies.  Again sadly, this is not a Republican priority.

Remember that insurance companies do not issue policies on which they intend to lose money.  The premiums are based on what they anticipate paying out in claims, leaving something extra for administrative costs and since these are private companies, profit.  They have actuaries and computers to figure this out.

As for the "proposed" Republican plan as it stands at this moment, “tRumpcare” eliminates the “mandate” which fined those who chose not to purchase insurance, a prod to encourage them to buy health insurance.  Doing this permits healthier, younger people, not anticipating getting sick, who would otherwise pay, to opt out of the plan.  The fines did, of course, bring in some additional revenue.  That is now to be eliminated, making opting out easier.  Unhealthy older people, however, who are far more likely to produce claims, will still purchase policies, putting a greater percentage of more costly policyholders in the mix.  As a result, the insurance companies will  have to repeatedly raise their rates.  This occurred with the Affordable Care Act, even with the “purchase insurance mandate or pay a fine” mechanism.  It will be far, far worse in “tRumpcare” without that mandate.

Replacing the mandate, “tRumpcare” also involves a 30% premium increase for those who drop policies but later decide to repurchase them.   Logically, this will scare away the younger healthier people just as the mandate does, but if one is sick, anticipating a claim, paying the 30% more will be a no-brainer.  This will produce still more claims, and the insurance companies will again have to raise rates.

It is shocking that legislators don’t recognize this basic flaw in their plans.  It almost guarantees their failure and the eventual elimination of private insurance companies from participation.  This will leave the door open to the obvious alternative: the government as the primary insurer or more simply, Medicare for everyone.

Originally, there was to be such a “public option” included in the Affordable Care Act.  It never made it through Congress but assuredly, we will have that within the next decade.

Of course, so long as the Republican Party cares only for reducing taxes and eliminating regulations, and doesn’t really give a damn about anything else in the country regardless of what they say, we will need a Democratic Congress and President to get this done.  As I said, it will happen within the next decade.

An Important Race for Congress

The race in the Sixth Congressional District in Georgia, just north of Atlanta, is tight.  It usually goes Republican by at least 20 percentage points, but in 2016, while this was true of the Congressional race there, the Republican Presidential candidate won the district by only 1.5%. 

Right now, there are 18 candidates running for former Congressman Tom Price’s seat, which he vacated to become Secretary of Health and Human Resources.  A Democrat, Jon Ossoff, leads, but it is very doubtful if he will amass the 50% needed to win the April election.  Hence, a run-off in June by the top two is likely.  At that point, there will be just Ossoff and one of three leading Republicans, most likely Karen Handel, former Georgia Secretary of State.
One poll has Ossoff with 18% of the vote and another with 31%.   All three leading Republicans, uniting behind one candidate (probably Handel) will produce about 42% of the vote.   There is an enormous “undecided” group of voters in the polls thus far, and if they split evenly, the Republican will win.  

But there is a large number of college educated voters in the District, and if they prove to be sufficiently disturbed by the President’s performance thus far, they may swing heavily toward Ossoff, making the race into a referendum on the man in the White House.  If the results parallel how the District voted in the 2016 Presidential race, this will give Jon Ossoff and excellent chance in June.  If the voters treat it as a normal Sixth District Congressional seat race, however, the Republican will win.  

                                                                                   Jon Ossoff

It will be close in June, but the results in April will provide a clue as to the final outcome.   If the combined vote of all three Republicans in April is no more than ten percentage points more than Jon Ossoff polls, he will have a good chance in June.
(I have contributed to Jon Ossoff’s campaign, since I reside in a District which always votes Democratic, and by doing so, it gives me some skin in the game.)

A Letter to the White House

Before I send the following letter to the President, let me know if you would like me to add your signature to it!  (Name and city only)

Dear Mr. President:

As a deal-maker par excellence, I am sure you know when a deal is going bad and precisely when it is time to pull out, removing your acorns from the fire.   That’s why you, over the years, have known what properties to keep and which ones to ditch, what financial obligations to honor and which to renegotiate making a profit in doing so, if at all possible.

So it is with health care.  You promised a plan which would all provide all Americans with (1) better coverage at (2) lower costs than does the Affordable Care Act.  The plan the House of Representative’s leaders have proposed does neither and you know it.  Your Republican colleagues’ plan turns you into a liar, and they are laughing at you behind your back for supposedly supporting it.  They are merely using you as a vote-getter.

In fact, their plan’s similarity to Obamacare and its costs have drawn the opposition of those Republicans who feel the government has no business whatsoever in health care spending that kind of money.  On the other side, some feel that existing benefits under a new plan will be shrunken, fewer Americans covered and most insureds’ costs increased, contrary to your promises.  You know that even if the House passes such a program, the Senate will reject it.   It's already dead in the water.

So, Mr. Deal Maker, this is the time to ditch the plan.  Call Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and Tom Price into your office and tell them their deal stinks, and that it is a “no deal” for Americans.  Then sit down with Bernie Sanders and see how a “Medicare for Everyone” plan can be made palatable for Congress.  Let the people know what you are doing.  They will support you, even though most Republicans will not.  Tell Steve Bannon, who will oppose you on this, to take a hike; after all, you are the President.  He has his own agenda which I do not believe is yours, if you stop to think about it.  Your job is to "run" the government.  His plan is to "ruin" the government or as he says, “deconstruct” it.  Once he does that, you will have nothing to run … except maybe the hotel down the street.

Announce this in a nationwide telecast, with Senator Sanders sitting nearby.  It will guarantee your election to a second term in 2020 … as a Democrat.  And it probably will bring in a Democratic Congress and Senate to back you up.  You know the Republicans really don’t like you.  

This is what making deals and salesmanship are all about, and at that, you are the consummate professional.  If you choose not to go in the direction this letter suggests, your presidency will probably go the way two of your less successful deals went, Trump University and your Atlantic City Casinos. 

Before you respond to me, check this out with Jared and Ivanka.  They are smart.

Jack Lippman

From a Blog Follower ... Who Connects the Dots

The other day, I got a note from Marty Hellman, a fine Democrat who follows the blog faithfully.  It read as follows:

Hi Jack,
I think now would be a good time for you to connect some of the dots that are very obvious to me.  Deutsche Bank is fined millions for laundering dirty Russian Money for dollars.  Chairman of the bank resigned and becomes chairman of Cyprus Bank fined for money laundering as well. Wilbur Ross, Vice Chair of the bank becomes Commerce Sec. under new administration.  Russian Billionare buys Trump Mansion for 50 million over asking price WHY WHY?  Guess who is the largest debtor in the whole world to Deutsche Bank ????
Marty Hellman  

Well, I replied in confidence to Marty, but here are my further thoughts on his note.

Some suspect that the Department of Justice asked 46 Federal Attorneys to resign last Friday and clean out their offices in a few hours because, just perhaps, some of them were connecting the dots Marty speaks of.  Preet Bharara, Federal Attorney for the Southern District of New York didn't resign, but was fired 24 hours later.  

Bharara Leaving his Office After Being Fired 

Perhaps he needed the time to connect a few more dots.   Such replacement of Federal Attorneys is not unusual when administrations change, but doing so on such short notice is.  Bharara had met with the President a few weeks ago who told him he would be kept on.  Why the sudden change?  Why?  The dots were being connected! More dots may just be connected on March 20 when FBI Director Comey speaks before the House Intelligence Committee.

Ooops!  I had omitted the following item from the blog posting sent out earlier this morning.  It is now added to it.

Someone in the media field once told me I was dancing with copyright laws when I published full columns from the media without specific permission.  Since then, I usually provide a link to the item, and let the reader go there themselves. This time, I am breaking with this practice and reprinting Michael Gerson’s full March 13 column from the Washington Post.  (If you feel guilty, go buy a copy of it, or any daily newspaper that might carry it.  I originally read it in the Palm Beach Post.)   It is that important.  

Republicans are defining lunacy down

     Michael Gerson 

(from the Washinton Post - 3/13/17)

The role of conspiracy theories has been consistently underestimated in the rise and appeal of President Trump.
Trump came to the political attention of most Republicans by alleging a conspiracy to cover up President Barack Obama’s supposedly foreign birth. “How amazing,” Trump tweeted in 2013, “the State Health Director who verified copies of Obama’s ‘birth certificate’ died in plane crash today. All others lived.” In conspiracy thinking, implausibility is merely the sign of the enemy’s subtlety.

Children sitting in Professor Trump’s history class would learn that Obama was America’s first Muslim president; that his co-religionists celebrated in the streets following the 9/11 attacks; that their vaccination schedule is the dangerous scam of greedy doctors; that Ted Cruz’s father might have been involved in the death of John F. Kennedy; that Hillary Clinton might have been involved in the death of Vince Foster; that unnamed liberals might have been involved in the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
More recently, Trump has claimed — based, so far, on nothing — that Obama ordered the bugging of Trump Tower. And Trump’s allies, with the White House’s blessing, have alleged the existence of a “deep state,” conducting what talk radio host Mark Levin calls a “silent coup.”
If the “deep state” refers to a cadre of federal employees who are unhappy serving an ethno-nationalist president who apparently hates them, then many would gladly claim such citizenship. But this is not what Trump’s most loyal supporters are talking about. The de facto coup is allegedly being conducted by a conspiracy of national security professionals who wish to overturn the results of the 2016 election. Radio host Rush Limbaugh recently claimed that the latest WikiLeaks dump showed “the CIA has the ability to mimic Russian hackers.” He went on to claim that “there isn’t any evidence” of Russian involvement in the Democratic National Committee breach. “But we have all kinds of supposition that the American deep state is deeply involved in whatever sabotage is being conducted on the Trump administration.”

This accusation is made by a disturbing collection of overlapping interests and voices: Vladimir Putin, Julian Assange, Nigel Farage, Breitbart News, a variety of talk radio hosts and much of Trump’s inner circle of advisers. They share the goal of defanging American intelligence services and having America accept a shrunken global role. Leaking from the CIA is the context in which Trump once asked, “Are we living in Nazi Germany?”

Does Trump himself believe the conspiracy theories he so effectively employs? It is the wrong question. In these cases, Trump does not support things because they are true; they are true because he supports them. And he expects everyone who works for him to publicly and vocally embrace his version of reality.
What is the harm in all this? First, we are seeing the corruption of the Republican Party, as it tolerates, excuses and absorbs Trump’s conspiratorial thinking. Consider the most recent WikiLeaks hack. The data breach caused serious damage to American security. And some conservatives cheered. It is a funhouse-mirror reflection of the New Left in the 1960s — led by ideology to root against the interests of their own country.
Second, these attacks on the intelligence community continue Trump’s campaign to delegitimize institutions that offer a view of reality different from his own. To maintain his version of daily events, the mainstream media must be discredited as “fake news.” On economic policy, the Congressional Budget Office must be discredited as biased. To tilt foreign policy toward Russia and away from traditional friends, the intelligence community must be discredited.

Third, talk of a “silent coup” encourages frightening, extraconstitutional thinking. If this is more than a metaphor, an existential threat to democracy has been raised. And an administration actually believing this might go beyond leak investigations and feel justified in scarier, Nixonian remedies.
Trump does not face a coup, just a government he has attacked and refused to lead. It is one challenge for Trump nominees to run departments they think should not exist. It is another for a president to declare that America’s intelligence community is plotting against him and comparable to the Nazis. You can’t declare war on people you should be providing with inspiration and direction. This is the only effective, long-term answer to leaks.
Day by day, Republicans are lowering their standards of sanity to defend an administration seized by conspiracy thinking. If they do not stand up to this trend, they will be defining lunacy down.

Many readers of this blog are alerted by Email every time a new posting appears.  If you wish to be added to that Email list, just let me know by clicking on Riart1@aol.com and sending me an Email.  

BY CLICKING ON THAT SAME ADDRESS, Riart1@aol.com   YOU ALSO CAN SEND ME YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS TO BE PUBLISHED IN THIS BLOG AS WELL AS YOUR COMMENTS.  (Comments can also be made by clicking on the "Post a Comment" link at the blog's end.)


HOW TO VIEW OLDER POSTINGS.                                                
To view older postings on this blog, just click on the appropriate date in the “Blog Archive” midway down the column off to the right, or scroll down until you see the “Older Posts” notation at the very bottom of this posting.  The “Search Box” in the right side of the posting also may be helpful in locating a posting topic for which you are looking.

To send this posting to a friend, or enemy for that matter, whom you think might be interested in it, just click on the envelope with the arrow on the "Comments" line directly below, enabling you to send them an Email providing a link directly to this posting.  You might also want to let me know their Email address so that they may be alerted to future postings.

Jack Lippman