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Trump Con

The long Republican presidential campaign ended last night in Cleveland, Ohio, as the Grand Old Party (GOP) essentially ended itself as a political party for individual rights by nominating non-Republican nationalist Donald Trump for president of the United States.

The wreckage Trump leaves in his wake is real. The Republican Party is gone. I am inclined to agree with scholar Thomas Sowell, who writes that the best outcome is an unresolved election between Hillary Clinton and Trump that goes to the House of Representatives.

Trump is the result of decades of Big Government status quo; his reckless, anti-intellectual plan for whim-based authoritarianism is a solution to every major unsolved problem America faces, from our multi-trillion dollar debt and lousy economy to the West’s war with radical Islam. While Americans were scoffing at solving these urgent problems, insisting that they didn’t want to think about them, talk politics or do anything but snivel and sneer at satire by Simpsons, South Park and Jon Stewart, Trump was deluding himself into believing that he’s the one to fill the void.

Variations on the prototypical angry white male—Colbert, Matthews, Gutfeld, Stewart, Miller, O’Reilly, Olbermann—all superficial and deeply anti-intellectual, converged into a single TV personality: the bumbling, foaming, splaying, monstrous Donald Trump. Trump mixes most of the popular cultural points since the turn of the century—the attention deficit, instant gratification and roaming, raging thuggishness of a vicariously violent video game, the boorish, slobbering sloth of The Sopranos and blood-lust of Game of Thrones, the petty, vulgar and vacant humor of Seinfeld and everything it bred—Trump is the triumph of the anti-romantic; he provides the gushing, momentary thrill of going by the gut. He is an embodiment of the anti-ideal.

DonaldTrumpThe presidential nominee says he “admires” states with socialized medicine, “loves” violating property rights via eminent domain and opposes free trade, free press and freedom of speech. Trump vows to build a wall along the American border. All of this comes under his banner to “make America great again”, a theme of Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign.

Those were not the only words lifted without credit from someone else during the past four days. The speech Trump and his wife claimed she wrote, an assertion which was later revoked without serious media scrutiny, plagiarized an Obama convention speech. But Trump’s candidacy, which began on June 16, 2015, thrives on controversy. From his spat with Megyn Kelly, which put them both in the center of attention, to his accusations, smears and insinuations, everything he does is designed to make you look.

But not too closely, not for too long, and certainly not at his ideas. During the convention, Trump swore, for instance, that he will “make America work again”. Never mind what this phrase, which if taken literally could mean mandatory labor, actually means.

Vague on specific plans, though unmistakably clear in his anti-capitalist, authoritarian intent and purpose, Donald Trump’s convention was marked by screaming, ranting and a single voice of dissent in a speech by Ted Cruz, who refused to endorse the New York crony real estate developer (postscript: Cruz endorsed Trump). Trump was nominated after a motion over rules by Never Trump delegates was denied a roll call vote. Trump’s party platform adopted government controls such as a law targeting gays for prohibition from marriage and a restoration of the Franklin Roosevelt administration’s defunct Glass-Steagall Act controlling banks.

Trump Con is a swing to the left—toward a centralized government controlling economics, marital law and communication—erasing a party created by those seeking to abolish slavery. The leftist push came, too, from the candidate’s wife, Melania, who by her admission admiringly copied Michelle Obama, and his daughter, Ivanka, a non-Republican who introduced her father by emphasizing non-essential facts, such as the Trump corporation’s—Trumps call the entity an “organization”—hiring of “more women”, not men, as executives. Ivanka Trump, appearing as callous as Mrs. Obama and as blank as a mannequin or a model in a Robert Palmer music video, became momentarily expressive once during an otherwise Stepford-like address—when she praised laws granting favors to women based upon marriage and motherhood. Sounding like both a radical socialist such as Bernie Sanders and a staunch conservative such as Phyllis Schlafly, Trump’s child spoke of “wage discrepancy”, “wage equality” and “equal pay”, pledging to hold her father accountable as president to reclaiming “our heritage”, though, like her father, Ivanka Trump refused to explain the pronoun or the heritage.

Trump’s daughter, who is married to New York Observer owner Jared Kushner, dared Americans to “judge [Donald Trump’s] competency by the companies he’s built” and added that he “will call upon the best and brightest”. She did not say for what purpose the best and brightest would be called upon nor exactly what being “called upon” means, whether a voluntary draft or some form of servitude. Ivanka Trump, proponent of mandates for rewarding marriage and motherhood, told the audience that her father will seek and carry out “brave new solutions.”

Donald Trump’s speech was a spewing, shouting rant which CNN reports is the longest convention speech in 44 years. Trump railed against immigrants and the state of the union, citing statistics and promising “no lies…[only] the truth and nothing else”, a pledge he’s already broken and often. Trump ended his acceptance speech by blurting three indiscriminate words: “I love you!”

At the end of a convention dedicated to destroying the Republican Party and constructing a powerful family government bureaucracy, the audience was left mindlessly demanding imprisonment of Trump’s presumptive opponent, Hillary Clinton, and chanting a variation of Barack Obama’s 2008 theme, which Trump’s dishonest campaign extends. “YES YOU WILL!”  is 2016’s corollary of 2008’s “YES WE CAN!” I contemplated the latter phrase in my post on Obama’s legacy and Trump’s motto, given his nationalist philosophy and threats to bring U.S. businesses such as Apple under the jackboot of the U.S. government, can only end in “…do as Trump commands!” Or worse.

“You can’t always get what you want,” the Rolling Stones sing on the record used without permission by Donald Trump. Short-sighted media pundits who powered his ominous rise mistake his featuring the song for a humbled check on Trump’s power-lusting intentions. But, as a voice of dissent to the supposed charisma of Melania, Ivanka and Donald Trump and this alarming mixture of familialism with fascism, I think media pundits got it wrong. Trump plays the tune as a taunt to Americans. Here comes my new autocratic administration, he’s transmitting to the nation and the world, and no one—especially not you, the individual—should expect to get what you deserve, because Trump’s time is coming and Trump will be in control. The anti-republican Trump Convention, the biggest con on the American people since Barack Obama, all but guarantees that, whether Clinton the statist or Trump the statist wins this election, unhappy days will soon be here.

Nationalism, Statism and Propaganda

This month’s major political conventions will be historic. Nationalist Donald Trump, presumptive nominee of the philosophically bankrupt Republican Party, and welfare-statist Hillary Clinton, presumptive nominee of the New Left-dominated Democratic Party, are the most untrusted and, incidentally, unpopular presidential candidates in modern history. Clinton, exonerated this week by the Obama administration under a cloud of suspicion after the attorney general met with her spouse, the ex-president Bill Clinton, will be the first woman nominated for the presidency by a major party. Trump, generating controversy as always and this time by re-posting a Star of David superimposed on a pile of money via social media, will be the first non-Republican and explicit anti-capitalist nominated by the party which once advocated some degree of capitalism and individual rights. Both will be nominated in American states which were once great industrial centers; Clinton in America’s first capital, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Trump in Cleveland, Ohio.

Look for what today’s digital public relations, marketing and social media types call optics at the GOP (July 18-21) and Democratic (July 25-28) conventions. Halting, hair-splitting, cackling Clinton may try to come off as softer, less harsh and hostile and more easygoing as a leader; the safer choice. Spewing, ear-splitting, rambling Trump may try to pass himself off as essentially charismatic and strong, less harsh and hostile and more decisive as a leader; the stronger choice. He will try to be a man of the people, an unapologetic village crier and throwback to pre-Obama days, undoing Obama’s legacy by throwing up tougher, state-sponsored fixes at the strongman’s sole discretion. She will try to appear as a woman of the people, a servant carrying on the Obama presidency’s New Left agenda while silently signalling that the age of statism and egalitarianism—policy dictates defining one’s identity by race, sex or culture—has just begun. The next few weeks will be heavy on optics for two power-lusting frauds in American politics.

Look closer for signs of propaganda, however. Whether at the statist’s or the nationalist’s convention, despite whatever riots, anarchy and attack may be carried out, the coming conventions and 2016 will be filled with symbolism and signs of what’s to come. Trump is a master of this—Clinton is not—as he demonstrates by tagging media personalities, streams and channels to generate greater exposure and attract new followers (read my post on The Circus Cycle). Though Trump polls as a loser, polls have been wrong for years, from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s upset loss to this summer’s Brexit victory. I suspect the Trump voter conceals his planned vote from others. Watch for propaganda to foreshadow (unless Libertarian Gary Johnson is elected president) the new presidency.

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Propaganda, as shown at a recent exhibit at the Richard Riordan Central Library in Downtown Los Angeles, has the power to push a civilized nation to dictatorship. Through visual manipulation, such as digital memes, cartoons and posters, especially in today’s increasingly anti-conceptual, perceptual-level culture, the public can more easily be persuaded of certain assertions. National Socialist propaganda, including promotions for Hitler’s Mein Kampf (which translates as My Struggle), was thoroughly premeditated. Read Leonard Peikoff’s The Cause of Hitler’s Germany for a fundamental explanation of Nazi Germany.

As displayed in “State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda”, which runs at the Downtown LA library through August 21 (read about the traveling exhibition here), the Fuhrer (“leader”) and his top Nazis clearly grasped the importance of graphic arts in disseminating their philosophy of duty to the state and submission of the individual to serving others, i.e., altruism, in the name of the god-state-people-race. In certain cases, graphics and images glorify the upshot of National Socialism in practice: mass death and total government control of the individual’s life.

The exhibitionproduced by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, shows how “the Nazis used propaganda to win broad voter support in Germany, implement radical programs, and justify war and mass murder”. The exhibit continues in Texas and Louisiana (see the schedule here).

Nazi Propaganda Poster LAPLNazi propaganda posters, movies, art and designs also illustrate attacks on Jews, capitalism and profit. There are other lessons, too. Note the cult of personality employed to foster worship of the charismatic leader. Observe similarities to recent U.S. campaign themes, such as Obama’s “hope and change” paraphernalia, the controversial “Ready for Hillary” capital H with its arrow, and, of course, Trump’s chronic emphasis on himself as the charismatic leader for nationalism, bellowing against others—illegal immigrants, Moslems, Apple, businesses that trade with China—as causing America’s downfall. Clinton, and especially Sanders, target others, too—businesses, Apple, traders on Wall Street, the wealthy—and both sides explicitly target the individual for persecution.

What is so alarming about the 2016 presidential election, and what makes National Socialist propaganda particularly relevant, is the erosion of freedom of speech in America. Obama’s administration attacks free speech, from censoring news to censoring movies and intimidating Americans who would exercise free speech (read Obama Vs. Free Speech). Clinton, who once proposed outlawing divorce for couples with children, has been a part of Obama’s assault on the First Amendment and she sought to evade public and press scrutiny during her entire four years as secretary of state while denouncing an American film as the cause of an Islamic terrorist act of war on the United States. Trump, who cuts off microphones at press conferences, proposes eliminating free speech by weakening libel law and jokes, then says he means it seriously, about having journalists targeted for state-sponsored death.

NaziFlowChartThese are explicit policy ideas, plans and actions. Insidious state sponsorship of media and the arts, like something emanating from the Nazi flow chart pictured here, includes quasi government control of the Oscars (Michelle Obama Ruins the Oscars) and arts and technology conferences (SXSW).

As the free press, too, diminishes with the spread of quasi-government control of industry, subsidizing state-favored cable TV monopolies like Time Warner and Comcast which own and operate major media (CNN, HBO, Warner Bros. Pictures, MSNBC, NBC, Universal Studios), coupled with the dumbing down of American education and culture, it becomes both easier and less apparent for the state to impose controls, cronyism and influence, i.e., blacklists. Only this summer did Tribune Publishing, which owns the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and Baltimore Sun, change its name to the term “tronc” (without the quotation marks but with the bad punctuation), an amalgamation of “Tribune online content” in what appears to be a bid to seem modern, generic and anti-conceptual.

Convergence of today’s aggregated, dumbed down media with secretive, oppressive censorship cannot be far behind.

Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, whom the world lost last week, lived his entire life warning of the danger of staying silent while ominous government insidiously gains the power to destroy life. As the summer of ’16—with Clinton, tronc and Trump—goes down shoveling propaganda in conventions and toward a darker history, this is the moment to stay tuned, call statist and nationalist propaganda what it is and speak out.

The End of The Greatest

Muhammad Ali, who called himself The Greatest, is gone. He was 74 years old.

The Kentucky-born boxer who became a world champion told his story in 1977’s The Greatest co-starring Ali and Ernest Borgnine as his trainer. The film originated “The Greatest Love of All”, the egoistic anthem later made famous by the late Whitney Houston.

Ali’s life was exceptional for his arrogant expression of egoism rooted in superior athletic achievement. I think Ali’s life is likely to be distorted and misunderstood for many complicated reasons, stemming from the times in which he died, this season in which a con man, the fraud who is Donald Trump, claims to be the best and isn’t. Muhammad Ali, whatever else his flaws, claimed to be the best and, in fact, he was.

Ali’s pride in his own ability, not to mention his poetic and often profound musings, commentaries and thoughts, was larger than life.

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He was a poor boy in Louisville, Kentucky, encouraged by a policeman to channel his rage against injustice into training as a boxer, which he did. Soon, Ali, originally named for his father (who was named for an abolitionist) and known then as Cassius Clay, won the Gold Medal at Rome’s 1960 Summer Olympics, appeared in Rod Serling’s Requiem for a Heavyweight with Anthony Quinn and upset the world’s heavyweight champion. He was then mentored by Malcolm X and joined the Nation of Islam, adopting the new name and seeking his own set of beliefs, a practice he never let go. He kept winning—Ali lost five bouts—and thinking for himself. He sometimes did so by race-baiting, bluster and dubious tactics.

He eventually left the Nation of Islam and mellowed his anti-white views and practiced his religion in private but not without first citing his personal beliefs as a conscientious objector to being drafted by the state into the Vietnam War. Ali was arrested, lost three years of prime competition due to persecution by the United States government and, long before Apple‘s Tim Cook, he fought a Democrat-controlled Department of Justice and later won in the U.S. Supreme Court. The damage to his career, however, had been done.

Yet Ali had influenced the nation, which turned against the Vietnam War, which was never declared and never won, and the military draft, which was abolished by President Nixon. By the time Muhammad Ali triumphed the last time as world champ, having defeated great boxers such as George Foreman and Joe Frazier and Leon Spinks, Ali had inspired Sylvester Stallone to make Rocky. Future athletes, such as Oscar De La Hoya, would invoke selfishness, too. According to Objectivist scholar Harry Binswanger in 100 Voices, Ayn Rand wanted Ali to play a role in an adaptation of her novel Atlas Shrugged.

If you think about it, it’s not difficult to see why. Amid today’s numerously preached and accepted contradictions and confusions, with scoreless sports games and entrenched egalitarianism, Muhammad Ali stood out as one—against the mob, the intellectuals and the state—proudly proclaiming his own excellence. He was arguably often tactless and vulgar, sometimes animated or even cartoonish and occasionally his means and ends were in legitimate dispute. But, in asserting with pride his own superior ability, Muhammad Ali was never wrong. Unlike today’s frauds, he dared his detractors to check the record. Ali earned his poetic and prideful proclamations.

It turns out that Ali, who was afflicted with Parkinson’s disease, paid a high price for his fierce and determined, possibly overlong and overzealous, competition. But Muhammad Ali was right. He was, in fact, the greatest. As the song from his movie says, “learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.”

This is fundamentally true. As the nation once in turmoil during Ali’s blustery, arrogant and triumphant youth goes into a violent new era ominously threatened by a blustery, vacant and bankrupt power-luster who would be president, Ali leaves a magnificent legacy which calls upon Americans to differentiate between the proud man whose pride is based in reality and the loud man whose bullying and boasting spews from raw, unchecked emotions.

Ali once said: “It’s not bragging if you can back it up.” Repeatedly, consistently, he did. This is what makes a man great. This—authentic self-esteem realized by human action—is what makes Muhammad Ali a great man.

Choosing the President 2016

With five major candidates remaining in the Republican and Democratic political parties, the 2016 presidential campaign is, like the nation, coming to a climax.

This Tuesday’s Wisconsin primary may prove to be a turning point for the GOP, whose frontrunner is a lifelong anti-Republican who is running as a Republican, because the challenger is expected to win by a wide margin. Later this month, the New York primary may similarly prove to be a Democratic Party pivot point because that party’s challenger, a socialist running as a Democrat, may defeat the frontrunner. By May, with over two more months to go before the summer party conventions, the 2016 race could be totally undecided.

DNC2012CharlotteAs in 2012’s election, the nation’s future hangs in the balance. The essential nature of America’s republican form of government—a constitutional republic based upon individual rights—is at stake in this election.

Especially this time, I think it is important to remember that, as loaded with volatility as the races are, and as divided as the nation is, anything can happen to change the whole campaign—economic catastrophe, acts of war, assassination, riots, smears, blackmail, indictment, illness, a third or fourth major candidacy, secret deal-making and maneuvering—and throw the American political process into a tailspin.

Already, for instance, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, whom I interviewed when he ran for president as the Libertarian Party’s candidate in 2012 (read the interview here) embraced a recent poll that puts him at 11 percent in a contest against frontrunners Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Johnson would certainly be a better president than either Clinton or Trump, who both seek government control of people’s lives, though his election as a third party candidate is currently unlikely.

t1larg.ryan.romney.mar30A more likely scenario is that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, a status quo Republican who said he would never run to be speaker of the House, will try to become the GOP’s nominee for president. The Speaker, who was chosen as Mitt Romney’s running mate in 2012, clearly has higher aspirations and, contradicting himself on every other issue such as the budget, being speaker and his endorsement and subsequent disavowal of Ayn Rand, Congressman Ryan is the typical politician. Also in the typical/status quo camp is Ohio Governor John Kasich (pronounced KAY-SICK), an altruist for the welfare state who seeks religion in government. Kasich is running as a spoiler to frontrunner Trump’s main challenger, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, jockeying for deal-making position, probably all the way to the GOP’s Cleveland, Ohio convention, despite having only won his home state.

To his credit, 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney, the candidate against President Obama last time who failed to identify Obama’s death premise and fully differentiate himself as the candidate of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, has denounced Trump, whom he said he will not vote for. This is more than most conservatives, libertarians and Republicans have done. Indeed, it’s more than Cruz has done. Romney announced that he would vote for Cruz, though he stopped short of an explicit endorsement. Romney himself may want to become the party’s nominee, though it may be more magnanimous and patriotic if he makes a deal with Cruz to abandon Cruz’s worst positions, such as pledging to support Trump if he’s the nominee, building a wall, banning abortion and opposing marriage for gays, in exchange for Romney’s endorsement.

DonaldTrumpTrump is running to be America’s strongman whether as a Republican or as an independent candidate. He opposes free trade, free choice in medicine, immigration, free speech, property rights, capitalism and individual rights. He’s expressed admiration for states with socialized medicine. He talks about having journalists murdered and seeks to be “neutral” with Israel’s enemies. He agrees with Barack Obama in opposing Apple’s individual rights and he says he would build a wall around America. Kasich wants American government to be ruled by religion and so does Cruz, though he at least says he wants to unite the nation around two key secular proposals: unyielding national defense against the Islamic jihad and restoring America’s government to a Constitutional republic.

The challenger in both parties may yet emerge as the nominee. Self-described socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders recently swept caucuses in the West, where pockets of socialism fester, especially among indoctrinated youths, and he could win the nomination (as he explains here). An election between Sanders and Cruz could be a contest of conflicting principles. A race between Trump and Clinton will be an impossible choice between toxic policies that will destroy America and there is a degree to which all the remaining five candidates pledge to end America. But there is time and there are degrees. The American for individual rights must choose (and those who refuse to choose are choosing, be default, to check and blank out). Because, this year, anything bad can happen—including economic collapse, foreign attack and anarchism (i.e., by the Anonymous anarchists)—the good American must start by choosing to be aware, staying on alert for rational activism.

The year 2016 promises to be another sharp turn in American government. Whichever direction the United States takes—toward dictatorship or liberty—becomes known in November. The choice intensifies next week.

Goodnight, Earl Hamner

The rich and gentle drawl of Earl Hamner is gone tonight. The old writer, who kept an office on Ventura Boulevard here in the San Fernando Valley near my home—down the hill from where he lived with his wife, Jane, who survives him, and a property full of pets—died today at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Hamner, who was 92 years old, is also survived by his children, Scott and Caroline.

earl1I met and interviewed Earl Hamner over 10 years ago in that office. He was one of my favorite people to interview because he was natural and unscripted, yet sharp and insightful. Everything came to him and talking about his past works invigorated him—he clearly enjoyed thinking about his work—and he wasn’t fussy and neurotic about this or that issue, problem or question, which is rare and refreshing. Earl Hamner was curious, bright and exuberant about his past, present and future. I think this comes across in the interview (read it here) which is one of my best. In this case, I am proud to say that I know Earl Hamner thought so, too, because he told me so and wrote it on his Web site.

We stayed in touch and met and talked about politics, Hollywood and writing projects and he was joyful every time. It wasn’t a put-on. Like his most enduring character, the mountain child John Boy Walton, who becomes a writer, Earl Hamner was a man whose poverty, family and wondrous life experience burnished on his mind, character and soul and, through his strength, idealism and fortitude, made him a soothing, generous and masterful storyteller of the American way. He is gone tonight and I know that I will miss this wonderful man, who was both passionate and kind but not too much of either. The writer leaves behind the treasure of his moving and meaningful stories well told—and a life well lived.


Interview with Scott Holleran: Earl Hamner (2005)