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The Caligula Presidency: a Weekly Ovi Column - Week 14 The Caligula Presidency: a Weekly Ovi Column - Week 14
by Dr. Emanuel Paparella
2017-09-16 09:27:01
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lino1

Week 14 - Columns 92-98 (September 16-22)
On the subjects of:Demeaning the presidency, Trump’s dumb economic ideas, Comey’s Tuggish dismissal,
reasons for considering impeachment, US democratic institutions under attack, the WH as a great circus,
fake news for dumb-dumbs.

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Column 92

The Demeaning of the Office of the President

 lino92_400

CNN has reported a few weeks ago that President Trump's latest anti-media attacks "are beneath the dignity of the office of the President." In an interview with Time magazine, Trump insulted CNN's Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon and criticized MSNBC's Joe Scarborough. He also called CBS late-night host Stephen Colbert a "no-talent guy."

First, Scarborough: The Republican congressman turned MSNBC morning host "used to treat me great. But because I don't do interviews and stuff and want to ... He went the other way. Which is fine. He's got some problems." Trump then claimed that "I don't watch the show anymore."

He denigrated CNN's "New Day" co-host Chris Cuomo, comparing Cuomo to a "chained lunatic" and a "boiler ready to explode." Cuomo displays a "level of hatred," Trump said, and so does "the entire CNN platform." Then Trump attacked "CNN Tonight" host Don Lemon, calling him "perhaps the dumbest person in broadcasting." At that point of absurdity CNN responded with a scathing comment: "His comments are beneath the dignity of the office of the President."

The interview reaffirmed Trump's fixation on TV coverage and his fascination with ratings. Not surprising, considering that he has transformed politics to a TV reality show. He has repeatedly misconstrued the ratings for specific shows. Trump told Time's Michael Scherer and Zeke Miller that "I don't watch CNN" and "I don't watch MSNBC." But then he went on to criticize the programming on both channels and repeated several of his past complaints about news coverage -- including his view that pro-Trump guests on CNN are not treated fairly and that newspapers like The New York Times and The Washington Post are "dishonest." That means he rates what he does not watch, which is pretty much how he treats the intelligence supplied to him daily by the intelligence agencies.

According to Time, Trump "also brought up" Colbert, specifically the comedian's controversial  monologue, which included a vulgar joke about Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin. "You see a no-talent guy like Colbert. There's nothing funny about what he says. And what he says is filthy. And you have kids watching," Trump said. "And it only builds up my base. It only helps me, people like him."

If what Colbert says is filthy, what is one to make of comments such as: “if you are a celebrity they’ll let you do anything to them; you may even grab them by their pussy”? The question arises: is what’s good for the goose not good for the gander in Trump’s alternate reality world?

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Column 93

Trump's Dumb Ideas for Economic Growth

 lino93_400

If there’s an economic idea that Donald Trump and his economic advisers continually reiterate it is that slashing taxes inevitably leads to economic growth. Let’s see how true this idea is.

“After a decade when GDP growth averaged only 2%, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has suggested that the proposed tax cuts will raise the economy’s sustainable growth rate to 3%. This is ailed as progress. But the question is this: is there an obvious correlation between lower tax rates and faster economic growth?

As chart 3 below shows, labour force growth actually slowed in the aftermath of both the Reagan and Bush tax cuts. Productivity growth also slowed following the Reagan tax cuts, although it did briefly accelerate following the Bush tax cuts.”

 lino94_400

Labor force growth actually slowed following the most recent U.S. tax cuts. So, there is little obvious correlation between lower taxes and faster GDP growth, despite the, “suggestion that the reduction in tax rates in the early 1980s was followed by faster economic growth in the second half of the 1980s.

Chart 5 would suggest that economic growth actually accelerated further in the 1990s, against a backdrop of rising tax rates.

 lino95_400

Taxes were rising as GDP grew in the late-90s. Also, it is well known that US corporate profits tend to fall when tax rates rise. It strains credibility to argue that the tax rate fall was an important driver of the rising profitability.” An increase in corporate profitability, and in turn business investment, is seen as the main driver of higher economic growth following tax cuts.

Warren Buffett and strategist Tom Lee, among others, have both cast doubt on the idea that lower tax rates would necessarily provide a competitive advantage to either corporations or investors.

At the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting Buffet stated that “it’s certain that some of a lower corporate rate would be competed away.” Lee said that “at the single-stock level, lower tax rates are very quickly discounted by investors.”

In an interview with The Economist this week, on the other hand said that he thinks the 3% growth the administration expects to follow a tax cut is “low.” Who is right? Hard to tell, especially now that the erratic president hardly mentions those economic proposals any longer. He is too busy dealing with the scandals of his administrations. But let’s not forget that Trump took a course with the Wharton Business School of Economics at Pennsylvania State University and then wrote a book titled The Art of the Deal. At least he says he wrote it even though he tends not to read memoranda that are more than a page long, and his span of attention hovers around 30 seconds. Surely he still thinks he knows best on the subject, as in so many other things. After all, Vladimir Putin has declared him a genius defined as “a shining thing.” A bit confusing but reality will undoubtedly supply the right answer at the appropriate time.

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Column 94

Comey  treated in Tuggish Mafia Style by the White House

 lino96_400

Former FBI Director James Comey’s firing was worthy of  a Mafia operation. He has been called by Trump a "showboat," a “grandstander,” a “nut job,” suggesting he is not "competent"  and even deranged ant that the “the FBI has been in turmoil under his leadership. You know that. I know that. Everybody knows that.” These slanderous statements has required Comey to show considerable restraint. Jung would probably add the event to one of his books as a perfect example of projection.

Comey had an opportunity respond to Trump when he testified in open session on Capitol Hill. The only public statement from Comey since his dismissal came in the form of a letter he delivered to former FBI colleagues which states that "I have long believed that a President can fire an FBI Director for any reason, or for no reason at all. I'm not going to spend time on the decision or the way it was executed. I hope you won't either. It is done, and I will be fine, although I will miss you and the mission deeply."

To announce Comey's firing, Trump had a dismissal letter hand delivered to the FBI's building in Washington, although the former FBI Director learned of his firing from news announcement on TV while speaking to recruits for the bureau in California. Initially he thought it was a prank of sorts. Many FBI agents feel Comey has been treated shabbily. While there are those who disagreed with some of his tactics, he was nonetheless broadly popular in the bureau and respected.

Given the previous track record in this matter, as in many others, those who were hoping for some signs of regrets and/or apologies for the boorish way the dismissal was conducted, worthy of the reality show The Apprentice but demeaning of the presidency, are bound to be  greatly disappointed.

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Column 95

Reasons Why Trump ought to be Impeached

 lino97_400

As per Lawrence Tribe, Harvard professor of constitutional law, the time has come for Congress to launch an impeachment investigation of President Trump for obstruction of justice. Here’s a summation of the reasons: The remedy of impeachment was designed to create a last-resort mechanism for preserving our constitutional system. It operates by removing executive-branch officials who have so abused power through what the framers dub “high crimes and misdemeanors” that they cannot be trusted to continue in office.

Now the country is faced with a president whose conduct strongly suggests that he poses a danger to our system of government.

Ample reasons existed to worry about this president, and to ponder the extraordinary remedy of impeachment, even before he fired FBI Director James B. Comey and shockingly admitted on national television that the action was provoked by the FBI’s intensifying investigation into his campaign’s ties with Russia.

One important example is Trump’s brazen defiance of the foreign emoluments clause, which is designed to prevent foreign powers from pressuring U.S. officials to stray from undivided loyalty to the United States.

To wait for the results of the multiple investigations underway is to risk tying our nation’s fate to the whims of an authoritarian leader.

Comey’s summary firing will not stop the inquiry, yet it represented an obvious effort to interfere with a probe involving national security matters vastly more serious than the burglary” that Nixon tried to cover up in Watergate.

The question of Russian interference in the presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign go to the heart of our system and ability to conduct free and fair elections.

Obstruction of justice was the first count in the articles of impeachment against Nixon and, years later, a count against Bill Clinton. In Clinton’s case, the ostensible obstruction consisted solely in lying under oath about a sordid sexual affair that may have sullied the Oval Office but involved no abuse of presidential power as such.

Tribe has declared that “it will require serious commitment to constitutional principle, and courageous willingness to put devotion to the national interest above self-interest and party loyalty, for a Congress of the president’s own party to initiate an impeachment inquiry. It would be a terrible shame if only the mounting prospect of being voted out of office in November 2018 would sufficiently concentrate the minds of representatives and senators today.”

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Column 96

Are U.S. Democratic Institutions under Attack?

 lino98_400

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Sunday May 14 that U.S. institutions are under assault — not only by the Russians but by President Donald Trump as well. He also declared that he found the firing of FBI Director James Comey “very disturbing,” at that Russia probably is looking at Comey’s dismissal as a win.

"I think in many ways our institutions are under assault, both externally, and that's the big news here is the Russian interference in our election system," Clapper said on "State of the Union." “And I think as well our institutions are under assault internally."

Clapper also said that “People had issues I'm sure with Director Comey, some of his decisions, that's fine ... but I think as far as his stature as a leader and his integrity, people are very upset about the way he was treated."

It is becoming increasingly apparent that this presidency is fast becoming a liability for the whole US democratic system of checks and balances. It’ s like cancer: the longer it is allowed to fester, the more damage it does to the organism it attacks and the harder the removal later on.

 ********************************************* 

Column 97

Will the Trump Great Circus End too?

 lino99_400

Bottom of Form

After the firing of former FBI Director James Comey and the revelation of classified information to the Russians in the White House a fierce backfire has ensued, a special prosecutor has been appointed to look into the matter, and the investigation into the Trump campaign-Russia collusion is ongoing.

The fear persists that Trump, at the helm of an executive branch whose powers are already inflated well beyond anything envisioned by the Constitution controlling security services and a surveillance apparatus the likes of which the world has never seen, is steering America in the direction of crypto-fascism.

Political experts have analyzed the rise around the world of regimes known as "authoritarian democracies." Unlike dictatorships, these regimes retain most of the trappings of democracy, and their leaders probably could not stay in power long if they were not popular with much of the population. Therein lies the deception; they are good at covering up what amounts to a tyranny. But unlike democracies, these regimes' demagogic leaders have used every means at their disposal to undermine independent checks on their power so as to reach autocratic powers. One thinks of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, Russia's Vladimir Putin, and Turkey's Erdogan. Could Trump also be on his way to subvert American democracy? And will he succeed?

In attempting to answer those questions, the silver lining is that President Trump lacks the intelligence, strategic thinking, single-mindedness, discipline, needed to achieve the feat. The Comey firing, whatever its motives, is political suicide and will ultimately not serve him well. It is indeed very bad for the United States that the head of its executive branch is a clown; but it is still important to be accurate about the ways in which this bad situation is analyzed. Trump’s talent seems to be that of making people turn unhinged. People close to him tend to become, or are already, conspiracy theorists. One thinks of Steve Bannon.

But putting aside conspiracy theories, the Trump administration will end one way or another and sooner than most surmise. It may come through impeachment, a more and more plausible possibility, but perhaps it will come because of mere demonstrated incompetence and a myriad series of shootings in the foot.  The vacillating Republicans, who are still placing the interests of the party ahead of that of the country, ought to get ready for new surprising follies. They will not serve them well in the 2018 elections and the omens of the reversing in voting patterns are already appearing. Stay tuned for more clownish follies.

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Column 98

Fake News Making the Rounds in the White House

 lino100_400

President Donald Trump regularly derides “fake news” but was unable to spot it when one of his White House advisers recently passed him a printout of a hoax TIME magazine cover about climate change.

The president’s deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland slipped Trump a printout of two old covers—one from 2006 and the other purportedly from the 1970s, according to four White House officials that spoke with Politico recently.

Whether on purpose or by accident, the cover claiming to be from the 70s was a complete hoax debunked by none other than TIME in 2013. The fake cover claimed to instruct readers “how to survive the coming Ice Age” and was contrasted with the 2006 cover about what a dire problem climate change is.

The image used for the fake cover was based on a real one from 2007 about how to survive global warming. According to reports, Trump rarely navigates the internet alone and didn’t check out the source of the images. His distrust of computers and email is well-known. "I'm not an email person,"  Trump said during a press conference last July; he had made the same claim in a sworn deposition in 2007.

It’s not the first time Trump has received stories with dubious sourcing, according to the publication, which spoke with a half-dozen White House officials and others who regularly talk to the president.

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End of Week 14

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The "CALIGULA PRESIDENCY" Columns

Week 1 -Week 2 - Week 3 - Week 4 - Week 5 - Week 6 - Week 7 - Week 8 - Week 9 - Week 10 - Week 11 - Week 12 - Week 13 - Week 14 -

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Check Dr Emanuel Paparella's NEW BOOK
"The Caligula Presidency: A Satirical Debunking Critique"
is online now and you can download it for FREE HERE!

 life_91_400

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Check also Dr Emanuel Paparella's other EBOOKS
Aesthetic Theories of Great Western Philosophers
& Europe Beyond the Euro
You can download them all for FREE HERE!
 
 life_46_400
 


       
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