September 2022 Fallout From Philadelphia

President Joe Biden addressed our nation on September 1 to express his deep concerns that American equality and democracy are under assault. He said, “There is no place for political violence in America. Period. None ever.”

“Too much of what is happening in our country today is not normal… There’s no question the Republican Party today is dominated, driven and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans, and that is a threat to democracy… Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic”.

Many of us have been concerned about this very issue for several years now.

We have witnessed firsthand some alarming dangerous attitudes and behaviors by far-right “MAGA” radical groups beginning around 2016.

One of the shibboleths of the current MAGA movement occurred on June 1, 2020

when then-President Trump orchestrated a near-riot in Washington, D.C.  After walking from the White House, across Lafayette Square, to St. John’s Church, he staged a photo-op with a Bible in front of the Church, inspiring those who prefer fear, hate and anarchy to reject honest debate.

These most recent alarming attitudes and dangerous behaviors have much in common with:

  • The second “Red Scare” which began in 1947, and reached its peak between 1950-54 under the leadership of U.S. Sen. Joe McCarthy;
  • A period of extreme antisemitism which emerged in the 1930’s, inspired by Father Charles Coughlin (and others) who spread various conspiracy theories, creating a robust underground movement which spread fear that Jews were working for the destruction or replacement of white Americans and Christianity in the U.S., together with (false) allegations which accused “the Jews” of dominating Franklin Roosevelt’s administration, of causing the Great Depression, and of dragging the United States into World War II.
  • The ‘race riots’ of the late 1960’s, which included Birmingham (1963); Harlem (1964); Watts (1965); Chicago (1966); Newark (1967); MLK, Jr. Riots, 125 cities (1968); and the list goes on and on….
  • Post 9/11/01, we witnessed an irrational groundswell of anti-Muslim sentiment.  The al-Qaida terrorists who attacked the Twin Towers and the Pentagon represent a very rare and extremist sect of Islam. Despite that reality, many Muslims, as well as other Arab Americans, became the targets of anger, racism and hate crimes, continuing to this day.

Biden’s recent remarks ring true.  He loudly and clearly reminded us that not all Republicans are MAGA Republicans.

Look back to the early 1930’s when Father Charles Coughlin’s radio show was extraordinarily popular, with a weekly audience estimated to be around 30 Million. His theme centered on an isolationist, anti-Semitic and conspiratorial viewpoint that resonated with many listeners at that time.

Yet, we know that not all Catholics were Isolationist or anti-Semitic.  Sound familiar?

The Big Question remains: Who or what is creating false narratives today? Who is spreading hate speech, nurturing and encouraging intolerance in the U.S., empowering the narcissistic blamers who feel marginalized to go off on a compound rage comprised and triggered by:  anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, skin color, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and an unidentifiable myriad of other perceived irritations?

Think of the last time you attended an orchestra performance.  The orchestra Conductor led and guided the various sections to complement each other resulting in a rich and complex sound which was pleasing to the audience.

Now, imagine if that orchestra performance was infiltrated by some musicians who refused to allow the conductor to lead.

Within the wind section, the brass instruments would play out of sync with the woodwinds.

Although the string musicians are mostly in harmony, the harpist occasionally takes his lead from the woodwinds, creating periods of discord.

The percussion instruments are off in a zone of their own, just doing what they want, totally out of touch with the conductor or any of the other musical sections, angry that they aren’t in charge.

  • Although relatively small in number, the renegade percussion section has sufficient noise to create complete and destructive cacophony, driving off the audience as well as the other musicians.

A recent report from AdWeek (TVNewser) shows Fox News – in particular, Tucker Carlson at 8 PM – leading the networks in viewership in both total viewers, and in the coveted 25-54 Demographic.

Translation:  Tucker is a money machine.  Advertisers are begging to support his daily hour of glory.

The Wednesday, August 31, 2022 Tucker Carlson show on Fox News began with a review of negative allegations against Joe Biden, including: a sly attack on son Hunter; recall of Joe showering with his daughter Ashley when she was a child; and how his wife currently knows he has Dementia.

Then, a rather long diatribe on the eve of Biden’s 80th birthday and how this is a sign of incompetence; that Joe is fixated on trivial and meaningless issues such as climate change, diversity and trans rights; that he is devoid of any ‘vision’; purely a partisan seeking advantage in the upcoming elections, leading into further emphasis on the negative aspects of Biden’s age.

Carlson continued with more passion, focusing in on recent Biden public commentary related to those individuals in America who have crossed the line into realm of ‘semi-Fascism’. Mr. Carlson managed to inject a critique blasting Biden saying he is, “…the same politician who had the FBI raid the home of the man who is running against him in the next election”.

Carlson segued into a commentary on the White House Press Office. Says Carlson, “… would have been better (for the Press Office to say) that Biden had a stroke, apologize and then move on.”  Carlson further denigrated the intelligence, experience and abilities of the White House communications team, stating, “Biden’s history-making publicist, the single dumbest person to ever hold that job, explained that her boss had spoken intentionally and with precision” then reinforcing the notion that Biden had made a blanket statement that Republicans are Fascists.

Those who may be interested in watching and listening to the entire broadcast are directed here: https://www.fox.com/watch/46d7f725b815fd5a7c10e1a1128558a3/

Meanwhile, enough Walrus commentary on the Tucker Carlson show of August 31.

Tucker is just one of many catalysts working on a base of angry white Christian men, keeping them stirred up by constantly reminding them that external forces have conspired to disenfranchise them.

Joined by his colleagues at Fox News, NewsMax, OAN, various podcasts and conspiracy driven social media groups, they continue to use Donald Trump as their demagogue by echoing and amplifying the ranting and raving of the Monarch of MAGA Americans toward an inevitable second Civil War.

I don’t either.

Ryan, Trump and McConnell: These were our leaders on January 20, 2017: Inauguration Day

Just because you and I don’t remember the 2020 Recession, that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

The official arbiter of recessions — the Bureau of Economic Research — says there was one.

When Donald Trump took office in January 2017, he inherited an economy in its 91st month of economic expansion following the end of the Great Recession in June 2009. That expansion continued into 2020, becoming the longest on record, peaking at 128 months in February 2020.

The National Bureau of Economic Research officially recognized the Recession of 2020 as the shortest on record at just 2 months, with the trough of that recession occurring in April 2020.

One milestone which helps to mark the 2020 recession is the price of oil. During the month of April 2020, the price of a barrel of West Texas Intermediate was absolutely erratic, actually closing Negative at (Minus $37/bbl) on April 20, 2020. [Was gasoline free that day? I don’t recall.]

Back to January 20, 2017, Trump’s Presidential Inauguration Day.

Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin, was serving as Speaker of the House.  Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, was the Senate Majority leader.

Ryan was first elected to the House in 1998 at age 28. He developed a reputation as a no-nonsense deficit-hawk fully focused on reducing entitlements and reducing taxes. Ryan had been serving as Speaker of the House since 2015.

The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) was Paul Ryan’s swan song, eagerly supported by Trump and most congressional Republicans.

Unfortunately, it was exactly the wrong time to enact this complex piece of legislation, primarily because it relied on untested assumptions at a point in time when the U.S. was riding the tail end of the longest economic expansion in history. It created massive increases in our national debt; it favored investment increases in oil and related industries (which to some appeared to be a means to curtail pending increases in oil prices); and exuberant expectations that repatriation of corporate profits parked offshore would be used to create domestic jobs turned into a massive stock buyback across the market.

In early February 2018, Paul Ryan began to reflect on the true consequences of the TCJA. He tweeted, “Julia Ketchum, a secretary at a public high school in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, said she was pleasantly surprised her pay went up $1.50 a week. She didn’t think her pay would go up at all, let alone this soon. That adds up to $78 a year, which she said will more than cover her Costco membership for the year.”

In April 2018, Ryan announced his intention to retire from Congress on January 3, 2019 — the end of his current term — thus ending a 20-year career representing his constituents in Wisconsin — so that he could spend more time with his family.

Left to its own devices, the 2017 TCJA may have created an unchecked economic calamity.

Then came the Covid-19 Pandemic which turned into an unforeseen international societal and economic tragedy – and clearly was the trigger which caused the 2020 recession. Yet, the impacts of Covid didn’t begin to surface until 1st quarter 2020, so there is a 24 month period following the January 2018 introduction of the TCJA which economists are now examining to help create real context around current (mid-2022) economic uncertainties.

Even a neophyte like me can add the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine to: (a) the long-term economic damage created by the TCJA; (b) the Covid wild card; and (c) the economic devastation of Trump’s tariffs, particularly on our agriculture sector. When we spread the numbers, we can begin to see an almost perfect recipe created under Trump’s watch sufficient to decimate any economy.

Despite the open hostility and recalcitrance of elected Republicans currently serving in Congress, I must give Joe Biden and the Democrats a 5-Star rating for refusing to capitulate, and for keeping the ball moving forward.

In her recent opinion piece published in the NY Times (6/11/2022: ‘Donald Trump, American Monster’) Maureen Dowd compared Donald Trump to Frankenstein, suggesting that Trump willfully planned to overthrow our government.

Maureen has been in her business for a very long time, and – like a good marksman — she rarely veers far from center of the target.

There is an overwhelming body of evidence which confirms that Donald Trump is self-centered and lacking in empathy, the basic ingredients of a narcissistic personality.

Over the years, Trump developed an entire repertoire of very effective coping mechanisms which allows him to ‘fool some of the people all the time’, enabling him to convince about 30% of American people (mostly of European ancestry) that he actually cares about them. And, that he understands their frustrations related to the growing influence of immigrants and other non-Europeans on U.S. society and our economy; and the growing influence of ‘the deep state’ which blocks the voice of the people.

In her essay, Dowd acknowledges Trump as a narcissist, and she comes quite close to the bullseye.

What she may have missed is that Trump is the most dangerous of the species, what some have called, ‘the toxic narcissist’.

Clinical psychologist John Mayer, PhD. describes a toxic narcissist: “… continually causes drama in others’ lives at the very least and causes pain and destruction at the very worst.” Mayer notes that a subset of toxic narcissists, known as psychopaths, are ‘unstable, aggressive – often violent — and will show no remorse for their behavior’.

Dowd seems to have veered slightly off the trajectory toward the bullseye when she allowed the possibility that “Trump was deadly serious about overthrowing the government.”

Although Maureen is correct that his actions (if successful) would result in an overthrow of our government, it’s doubtful that idea never ever entered Trump’s mind. He was, is and continues to be focused on the potential personal shame of losing. As a Toxic (and likely Psychopathic) Narcissist, Trump won’t back down and/or stop until he is abducted by aliens or is reinstated to the oval office.

Meanwhile, Trump has helped to inspire and energize a (mostly quiet) army of people – often identified as members of the Evangelical Christian faith — who just want everything to return to the American Promise of 1957.

Until these wayward folks can be helped to understand that our world in 2022 is much different from 1957, they are an extremely dangerous factor and they must be very carefully dealt with as the January 6 Commission saga continues to emerge.