April 1, 2016


          “It wasn’t supposed to have been like this, it wasn’t supposed to have been like this at all …” is the paraphrased theme of one of Gordon Bok’s ballads about the Sea. It referred to the fact that the fishing grounds had been depleted and that the fishermen now had to move on to another more distant bay. The upcoming November presidential election also was not supposed to have been like this. It was expected to be straight forward. The Bush-Clinton dynasties were to have been re-anointed by their respective parties and “business as usual” was to have reemerged. But as the proverb says: “none are so blind as they who don’t want to see.”

Our Republicans, especially, have misread the change in the mental attitude of the country that was heralded with Obama’s 2008 election, which I called at the time a “tectonic shift” (November 6, 2008).” They regarded it as a temporary aberration and vowed that he would not be allowed to succeed. The white middle and upper class establishment expected to regain power with the next election. It was not to be; Obama was re-elected. The Republican political leadership learned nothing from these defeats and thought that one of their candidates would easily win the nomination and then the presidency. But they lived in the 1980’s with Saint Ronald as their role model. More than thirty years have passed since Reagan’s inauguration and the country has fundamentally changed since that time. In addition the Republicans now live by the Reagan myth rather than the Reagan facts.

I owe the title of this essay to two young revolutionary atheists who met in a Paris coffee-house. They soon became friends, and with their combined intellects wrote pamphlets and books that profoundly changed the world. Discerning readers will, of course, immediately recognize that I am talking about Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels who published on February 24, 1848 the Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei; better known, in its English translation, as The Communist Manifesto. Its first sentence reads: “Ein Gespenst geht um in Europa – das Gespenst des Kommunismus. A specter haunts Europe – the specter of communism.”  

The reason for bringing up this document now is to demonstrate that when ideas are first pronounced they are ridiculed as well as ignored but some of them refuse to die. They lie more or less dormant until times change sufficiently for their enactment. This fundamental fact also underlies the purpose of these essays: to put current events in their historical context. Americans are no longer taught history and are, therefore, incapable of learnings its lessons. This is why the country re-enacts European imperialism and the unbridled “Manchester capitalism” that gave rise to Europe’s revolutions of the 19th and 20th century.

The Manifesto was first published during the Paris Revolution of February 1848, but with the defeat of that attempt by students and manual workers to gain a voice in affairs of state it lingered in obscurity until the next French Revolution of 1871 when in March of that year the Paris Commune briefly established a communist regime. The Franco-Prussian War ended the rule of Napoleon III’s Second Empire in 1870, and a provisional Republican government was established. It resided at Versailles because the left leaning Parisian populace was regarded as untrustworthy to accept the financial burdens the country was forced to adopt in order to rid itself of German occupation. As the March 1871 events showed, this precaution was justified and the Paris spring rebellion was crushed by government forces within two months. Nevertheless, since the causes of the revolt had only been partially remedied the Communist Manifesto entered in the ensuing decades its glory days with translations into the world’s major languages. After Marx’s death in 1883, Engels brought the Manifesto as well as Das Kapital up to date and by 1894 these documents had achieved their final form. They became Vladimir Ulyanov’s and Lev Davidovich Bronstein’s Holy Writ. These two comrades in arms are, of course, better known by their nom de guerre as Lenin and Trotsky. Just as in the case of Marx and Engels the junior partner was actually the more effective one. Without Engels’ financial support of Marx’s writings as well as direct stipends to Marx and his family, the books would never have seen the light of day. A similar situation pertained to the other duo. The so-called October/November (depending upon which calendar one uses) 1917 Revolution that established the Soviet Union, and thereby provided the basis for the enactment of Marx/Engels’ political ideas, was actually a Putsch against the Kerensky government carried out by Trotsky with a handful of followers. They toppled the legitimate government within one night while Lenin was still exiled in Finland. The popular revolution which forced the Czar’s abdication had already occurred in February of that year.  

Marxist-Leninist type communism went against human nature and died a natural death with the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Marx-Engels philosophy had, however, spawned a number of socialist movements that were less radical. They permitted some degree of private property and retained the family unit as the basis for a sound economy. In this manner the socialists achieved political equality with the more conservative elements of European society after WWI and especially after WWII. The specter of communism has been laid to rest in contemporary European society.   

The twin specters that haunt American politicians at this time go by the names of “The Donald” for Republicans, and “Bernie” for Democrats. The ascendancy of either one was quite unexpected and the respective party leaderships are at a loss with how to deal with these phenomena. Bernie Sanders, a senator from Vermont who competes with Hillary Clinton for the nomination, is an anomaly in American politics. Although running on the Democrat ticket he calls himself unabashedly “a socialist” on the European model. He does so knowing fully well that the U.S. by and large still lives in a mental framework that equates socialism with communism and that his chances of winning the presidency are next to nil. Nevertheless the huge turnout of young voters “for Bernie” in this primary season is an unexpected portent that sends shivers down the backs of the more conservative elements in the party even when they call themselves “progressive.” I shall discuss the Bernie phenomenon in a subsequent issue and now discuss only his “Republican” counterpart Donald Trump.

I have placed “Republican” in quotes because just like Bernie he only uses the party label as a means for election, since Independents, to whom he really belongs, have at this time no chance of winning. Not only is Trump truly independent of the party hierarchy but he also claims, as a billionaire, to be self-funding his candidacy. When he announced his candidacy the powers in the Republican Party laughed and were certain that this act of lunacy on his part was just a blip on the electoral radar screen that would vanish as soon as the first votes were cast. They were forced to have second thoughts when he systematically demolished his opponents in the debates on a one by one basis. On August 6 of last year there were ten presidential hopefuls that shared the stage at the debate. Now there are only three remaining with Trump enjoying a considerable advantage over his rivals in the delegate count.

I must admit that I did not watch all of the Republican debates up to now. There were too many, and the rhetoric soon became redundant. Those that I did see were, however, sufficient to form an initial view of how he acts and what he stands for. Trump clearly dominated the scene while being aided and abetted by the questioning media personalities. He got the lions’ share of questions to which he responded with gusto. His method of dealing with the co-contenders for the crown of nomination in the debates or on social media was simple and ruthless. He belittled them. Marco Rubio was “little Marco”, Ted Cruz “a pussy”, Jeb Bush “a stiff you wouldn’t hire in private enterprise”, Governor Kasich a “weak baby,” and Dr. Carson was faulted for his “pathological temper.” It is true, however, that some of his opponents likewise descended into the gutter and the debates, apart from the last one, became a circus rather than reasoned discourse. Governor Kasich remained on the sidelines while the others hurled insults at each other.

The demeaning of his opponents reminded me of Hitler’s characterization of Western politicians. They were “worms,” as he had found out during the 1938 Munich Conference. The campaign slogan “Make America great again” had its counterpart in Germany’s restoration to greatness and instead of Sieg Heil we are treated to fervent shouts of “USA, USA” by Trump’s supporters who also have started to imitate the SA by punching protesters at their meetings. The language Trump uses is likewise vulgar and designed to appeal to the passions of the underprivileged. He speaks off the cuff and fact checking is not one of his virtues. Trump has already been compared to Mussolini but the Hitler comparison is not yet en vogue because the latter is in American circles nearly exclusively identified with the atrocities of WWII. But there was a Hitler before 1938/1939 when the world woke up to the problem he presented. It behooves us to pay just as much attention to the factors that brought him to power as his conduct thereafter. For me there is simply no denying the déjà vu of my adolescent years I experience when I watch the rise of this new Messiah.

Hitler’s antisemitism finds its counterpart in Trump’s treatment of Muslims. No distinction is made between Muslim terrorists and ordinary people who either want to visit or live in America in order to better their lives. All of them need to be prevented from entry into this country. Other parallels with the Fuehrer’s conduct are the boasting about his achievements and the use of massive exaggerations to make a point. According to Trump, on 9/11 thousands of Muslims cheered in New Jersey when the Towers came down. Our media were quick to expose this falsehood but they failed to mention the source of this rumor. There was indeed some joy expressed on the Jersey shore at that moment, but it was not by Muslims. A New Jersey housewife who had a good look at the Towers from the rear window of her apartment had watched the disaster but noted something else that struck her as quite unusual. There was a white van in the parking lot with three people on top who were filming the event. They were not shocked by it but appeared happy and congratulated each other. This incongruous behavior prompted the lady to write down the license plate and notify the authorities. It was then determined that the van belonged to an Israeli moving company and the young men were Israeli citizens connected to some extent with the Mossad. After lengthy interrogations, which included lie detector tests, they were returned to Israel. This event has never been properly reported by our official media but there is considerable information on the Internet. An article based on recently declassified FBI documents can be found at http://21stcenturywire.com/2015/09/11/911-revisited-declassified-fbi-files-reveal-new-details-about-the-five-israelis.

There exists, however, also footage by MSNBC showing some Palestinians in the West Bank, especially children and young men, celebrating what was purported to be the destruction of the WTC.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMOZvbYJMvU.

It would seem that Trump had conflated and exaggerated these stories during his speech in Birmingham Alabama last November when he said that “thousands and thousands of people [Muslims] were cheering as that building was coming down.” The speech, which can be viewed on  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4p14xqPjKNA, is a typical example of Trump’s oratory in regard to style and content.  The day after the speech George Stephanopoulos interviewed Trump and after showing the video clip dealing with the cheering Muslims he took issue with the statement. This interview is important because it shows Trump’s modus operandi. Here are the relevant segments from http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/11/22/abcs-george-stephanopoulos-fact-checks-donald-t/207020STEPHANOPOULOS:

“STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, the police say that didn't happen and all those rumors have been on the Internet for some time.

So did you meek -- misspeak yesterday?

TRUMP: It did happen. I saw it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You saw that...

TRUMP: It was on television. I saw it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- with your own eyes.

TRUMP: George, it did happen.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Police say it didn't happen.

TRUMP: There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey, where you have large Arab populations. They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down. I know it might be not politically correct for you to talk about it, but there were people cheering as that building came down -- as those buildings came down. And that tells you something. It was well covered at the time, George.

Now, I know they don't like to talk about it, but it was well covered at the time.

There were people over in New Jersey that were watching it, a heavy Arab population, that were cheering as the buildings came down. Not good.

STEPHANOPOULOS: As I said, the police have said it didn't happen. …”


          Well, anybody can make a mistake but when it is pointed out one should correct rather than embellish it further. It should, however, also be mentioned that the official media were, and still are, remarkably silent over the affair of the Israeli “art students” in relation to 9/11 (9/11 Remembered. October 1, 2011).

On March 21 Trump used the invitation by AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) to assure this powerful lobbying group of his devotion not only to the state of Israel but also its Prime Minister Netanyahu. He was, of course, not the only one, all the current candidates for the presidency regardless of political party had been invited and all with one exception had accepted. Bernie Sanders, as a Jew, did not feel the need to spout phrases he did not believe in and instead of going to Alabama for the Conference went to Utah. The effort was appreciated; he received a rousing welcome and subsequently 80 per cent of the primary votes while Hillary had to make do with the rest.

To get the full flavor of what a Trump presidency would look like in his eyes I suggest that the reader not only views the essentially off the cuff speech in Birmingham, Alabama which contained the Muslim statement, but also the scripted one, read from the teleprompter, before AIPAC that has been referred to as: “The Most Presidential Speech By Donald Trump Ever. http://time.com/4267058/donald-trump-aipac-speech-transcript.

                Some key statements were:

My number-one priority is to dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran. I have been in business a long time. I know deal-making. And let me tell you, this deal is catastrophic for America, for Israel and for the whole of the Middle East. I will adopt a strategy that focuses on three things when it comes to Iran. First, we will stand up to Iran’s aggressive push to destabilize and dominate the region.

Secondly, we will totally dismantle Iran’s global terror network which is big and powerful, but not powerful like us.

Third, at the very least, we must enforce the terms of the previous deal to hold Iran totally accountable. And we will enforce it like you’ve never seen a contract enforced before, folks, believe me.

Which brings me to my next point, the utter weakness and incompetence of the United Nations … An agreement imposed by the United Nations [on the Palestinian issue] would be a total and complete disaster. The United States must oppose this resolution and use the power of our veto, which I will use as president 100 percent.

We’ll get it solved. One way or the other, we will get it solved. We will move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem….The Palestinians must come to the table knowing that the bond between the United States and Israel is absolutely, totally unbreakable. And they must come to the table willing to accept that Israel is a Jewish state and it will forever exist as a Jewish state. I love the people in this room. I love Israel. I love Israel.


It is obvious that the speech consisted of declaratory promises without any indication how these objectives could be accomplished. He emphasized his negotiating skills, but he does not want to negotiate in the usual sense of the word; he wants to dictate. Negotiations consist of give and take and the outcome should be mutually agreeable. But that is not what Trump has in mind. What would he offer the Palestinians, for example, when Israel holds all the cards and is unwilling to give up any? The phrase “one way or the other” we will get it solved also comes right out of Hitler’s vocabulary who kept telling us that his solution to the political problems of the day would be so oder so. In other words, if the negotiating partner does not agree to his terms military force will be used.

There was a sequel to Trump’s performance. AIPAC’s President Lillian Pinkus apologized for his demeaning comments about President Obama because the theme of the Conference was unity instead of division. Several attendees were shocked at the applause Trump received and Haaretz’s reporter (Israel’s left wing paper) walked out in disgust. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2016/03/22/aipacs-apology-for-trump-speech-is-unprecedented. Trump’s oratory may have helped him in Likud circles, but American Jews are by and large liberal with little regard for the extreme right that currently holds power in Israel.

One may now argue that these are campaign speeches and one needs to look at his official program as laid out on his website. When one goes to https://www.donaldjtrump.com one finds under Positions: Healthcare Reform, U.S.-China Trade Reform, Veterans Administration Reform, Tax Reform, Second Amendment Rights and Immigration Reform.

As far as Healthcare is concerned “Obabamacare” would be repealed. Its place would mainly be taken by health savings accounts and all health insurance premiums would be fully tax-deductible. The “free market” would supply insurance coverage opportunities and “basic options for Medicaid” would be reviewed in order to ensure that “no one slips through the cracks simply because they cannot afford insurance.” In addition existing laws that inhibit the sale of health insurance across state lines would be modified and price transparency from all health care providers would be required.

While this sounds reasonable it omits the mindset of insurance companies which requires profits. It is highly likely that with the repeal of Obamacare insurance premiums would rise and in the interval before any new system can be put in place hundreds of thousands if not millions would lose their current benefits. All of us should remember that while Congress was still debating Obama’s proposals insurance rates already went up and they were not reduced thereafter. 

In regard to trade with China the website offered four goals: 1. Bring China to the bargaining table by immediately declaring it a currency manipulator. 2. Forcing China to uphold intellectual property laws and stop their unfair and unlawful practice of forcing U.S. companies to share proprietary technology with Chinese competitors as a condition of entry to China’s market. 3. Reclaim millions of American jobs and reviving American manufacturing by putting an end to China’s illegal export subsidies and lax labor and environmental standards. 4. Strengthen our negotiating position by lowering our corporate tax rate to keep American companies and jobs here at home, attacking our debt and deficit so China cannot use financial blackmail against us, and bolstering the U.S. military presence in the East and South China Seas to discourage Chinese adventurism.

          These statements are either naïve or cynical. He should have read Epictetus’ chapter on: What is or is not in our power? Only point 4 can be regarded as being within the power of an American president. In regard to the other three how will Mr. Trump react if he were to receive the Chinese equivalent of the Soviet Union’s famous: Nyet!

          The Veterans administration reform plan would ensure that all the health needs of veterans will be met in a timely and appropriate manner. Corrupt and incompetent VA executives would be fired. This is likewise easier said than done and the costs would yet have to be determined.

          In regard to tax reform individuals whose income is less than $25,000, or married couples whose income is less than $50,000, would pay no taxes. The current seven tax brackets would be reduced to four: 0%, 10%, 20% and 25%. Business taxes, regardless of size would maximally be 15% and inheritance taxes would be abolished. The site explains why this reform would be “revenue neutral,” but I have to leave this aspect to CPAs although the statements that most deductions and loopholes of the very rich will be eliminated, is open to considerable doubt. As long as there is a tax code and there are lawyers, the very rich will always find ways and means to evade taxes.  The only way to ensure that this would be impossible would be the introduction of a flat tax that does not allow any deduction whatsoever.

          The Second Amendment rights (i.e. carrying arms by individuals) would not be infringed and existing laws on the purchase of firearms strictly enforced. Violent criminals would have to be more seriously prosecuted and the mental health system “fixed.” “We need real solutions to address real problems.” That is true, but again: what would the “fixed” mental health system look like?

          Finally: Immigration Reform. All of us already know about the wall on our southern border Trump promised to build and that would be paid for by Mexico. In addition the number of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) officers would be tripled, all criminal aliens deported, sanctuary cities defunded, penalties for overstaying a visa enhanced, and birthright citizenship would be ended. The ban on Muslims entering the country was not mentioned.

          In summary one can say that Mr. Trump hardly meets the qualifications one would hope an American president, especially in these perilous times, to possess. He comes across as an angry, narcissistic, boisterous person who believes that he can force his will upon the rest of the world. His fund of general knowledge seems to be meager and a statement that his book The Art of the Deal is his “second favorite of all time,” should give one pause. He allotted the number one spot to the Bible. But although he publicly stated that he was a “strong Christian,” his conduct casts considerable doubt also on that assertion.

When pressed for details or caught on a fundamental reversal of previously held positions he resorted to “unpredictability” as a virtue. While this may be appropriate for some circumstances in warfare, the American public needs to know where its future president really stands on vital issues and how he plans to enact his goals. Mr. Trump is not likely to meet this standard and should not be elected.

The Republican establishment knows this and is trying its best to exorcise this specter either during the remaining primary season or at the Convention in July. But they are confronted with another difficult problem. The heir they apparently want to anoint, Senator Ted Cruz, is also a deeply flawed individual who is disliked even by his senatorial colleagues. How a person like this can not only unite the party but win the general election in November is what is proverbially called “a good question.” The only Republican candidate who might be able to achieve this feat would be Governor Kasich but he consistently fails to get traction in the polls.

When one considers all of these various aspects in the context of the difficult state our country is in at present, one begins to think that we really are at the end of an era. Similar to what happened in Europe in the past two centuries this is likely to terminate either in a popular revolt or a general war. Let us hope that history will not repeat itself and that evolution towards a more sane and just society rather than revolution will take place.    

Feel free to use statements from this site but please respect copyright and indicate source. Thank you.

Please E-mail this article to a friend

Return to index!