Blog #116 – Robert Mueller’s Report Song to Congress


The Robert Mueller song, as he presents his final Report to Congress.

 

To the Tune of the Chiquita Banana commercial:

I’m Chiquita Banana, and I’ve come to say

Bananas must ripen in a certain way….”[1]

——————–

My name is Robert Mueller and I’ve come to say,

Investigations must be undertaken in a certain way.

You can’t just claim that what so and so did was wrong

You have to have evidence that is clear and is strong.

You have to say what this man or woman did on a certain day

Violated a certain law at a certain place in a certain way.

This is what he did, and this is the person that saw him do it,

This is what he said he did, and this is why it’s obvious his story blew it.

These are the penalties that can be applied  that the law prescribes,

Only made more severe if you try to evade them with lies.

 

So here is my report:  I know that it’s 430 pages long

But what it describes was also very wrong wrong wrong.It’s the Congress that determines what’s wrong and what’s right.

My job is only to see how the facts fit what Congress set out, and how tight.

Now what happens, when, and to whom is up to the courts to determine

Whether those who did it were well-intentioned or were vermin.

I’ve finished the job I was hired to do,

Now it’s up to those that hired me to see the matter through.

 

If I can be of any more help, please do let me know,

Otherwise, I admit, I’m very happy to go.

Good bye, and best wishes.

Robert Mueller.

 

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFDOI24RRAE    It was a United Fruit commerciaI. If you have trouble finding it, it’s from 1940 and the oldest a google search for Chiquita Banana commercial produces; ‘ll try to get the exact url for it shortly. It;s great on its own.

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Blog #115 – Facing the Causes of Immigration Problems


Facing the Causes of the Problems with Immigration

The ultimate causes of the emigration producing immigration crises in the U.S. and elsewhere are the gross inequalities among and within nation in resources and power. The only real solution to the crisis is to move to equalization and sharing among nations, through agreements and institutions at the international level. It is the opposite of the direction in which Trump is moving U.S. policy.

The issue of separating children from their parents within the process of dealing with immigration should be beyond the pale of reasonable disagreement, and the basic answer should be non-controversial: very simple, DON’T DO IT! Indeed, the details need working out, but that is no excuse for not dealing with the causes of the immigration problem as such. Looking at causes seems almost taboo today. Either it is too complicated, and we have no time to think about causes, or, if we do, the remedies seem so farfetched as to be utopian and not worth even thinking about.

But the cause of the immigration problem is in fact very simple. The need to emigrate from one country to another arises out of the gross inequality among countries of the world: inequalities in income and wealth, inequalities in power, unequal levels of security and dignity afforded their residents. And at least the first step dealing with these fundamental causes of emigration might seem to be equally clear: they can ultimately, but the sooner the better, be dealt with at the international level, what we newly call the global level. After the end of the First World War, there was a brief flurry of interest for collective international action at that level. The nations of the world went so far as to adopt a Universal Declaration of Human Rights, whose language is on a par in its nobility with the language of the United States Declaration of Independence, and deserves to be as familiar:

“Recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable right of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world. “

It is the foundation on which any quest for the solution to the problem s of immigration should rest.

That sounds fine, but totally theoretical. One might start with the briefly discussed but ill-fated efforts to agree on national quotas, which at least reflected an incipient belief in an international approach to the problem. Agreement might be sought, perhaps, for international standards at some absolutely minimal level, e.g., no separation of children from parents, some guarantee of due process. Some international standards actually already exist, for instance in the definitions agreed upon in the 1951 Geneva Convention on Refugees for concepts such as fear of persecution and justifications for seeking asylum. Or agreements against the use of poison gas and chemical weapons in warfare, etc. Why not international standards for the treatment of those seeking to emigrate out of similarly defined urgent need?

There are also already a variety of national and inter-national limited agreements for immediate remedial measures. Germany finances aid to Turkey to promote its measures reducing flight from that country. Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel briefly signed an agreement, unfortunately sort-lived, helped by the High Commissioner for Refugees, to support financially measures in Eritrea and Sudan to staunch the flow of refugees from those countries to Israel, and to cooperate with other western countries to accept refugees emigrating from them.1.  Other ideas have surely been advanced along similar lines, and deserve study attention,

And could one not at least envision further principled moves to support universal free education through grades 12 with an international fund and matching local contributions for financing? Wasn’t there once a broad Marshall Plan in which victorious countries aided devastated ones after the Second World War? Wouldn’t such be aspirations at least to put on the table in international conferences, and even in our own election campaigns?  Wouldn’t positive relations with our allies and neighbors, not a route the Trump administration seems interested in taking, be enhanced by such discussions?

As further steps, could one not at least envision universal free education through grades 12 with an international fund and matching local contributions as financing? Wouldn’t that be an aspiration at least to put on the table in international conferences, and even in our own election campaigns?  Wouldn’t positive relations with our allies and neighbors, not a route the Trump administration seems interested in taking, be enhanced by such discussions?

Might even  Donald Trump find some value in such a direction, as relieving him, all alone, from having to face problems that  he clearly is not on the way to  solving by himself ? Cynically, perhaps, but usefully, kicking the can of immigration reform upstairs?

1.See Michael Stard,The Wall and the Gate: Israel, Palestine, and the Legal Batle for Human Rights, review by David Shulman, New York Review of Books, June 28, 2018.

 

 

 

Blog #114 – Prediction North Korea


Prediction on Future of North Korean Negotiations

The big picture:

Negotiations will continue at least through November 2018, more likely through November 2020. Task forces will be formed, and will issue periodic reports of steady but slow progress, first weekly, then bi-weekly, then sporadically. Perhaps once every two or three months Trump will announce the negotiations  have broken down, will then intervene directly, meet with Kim-jung and rescue them, and negotiations  will resume in the task forces. Ultimately, a final agreement will be announced. It will be claimed to be a successful result to extended negotiations in which both sides have made concessions, some of which will necessarily be non-public. But they will essentially affirm the situation exactly as it is today with modifications at the edges and celebratory rather than fear-inducing language.

In his bi-weekly press conferences, Trump will again announce his achievements:

  • [There is a] new era in relations with North Korea;
  • [I] have a special relationship with Kim Jong-un
  • [Our talk was] a tremendous success
  • [Kim and I] have a terrific relationship
  • Kim and I] have a very special bond
  • Kim and I] have an excellent relationship
  • He’s a very talented man. I learned that he loves his country very much.
  • [We are   making] The deal of the century…
  • Working together, we will get [the nuclear impasse] taken care of.
  • It’s going to work out very nicely.
  • [We have taken} major steps forward in resolving the remaining open questions between the two countries;
  • Step by step, and simultaneous actions
  • We have the start of an emerging deal.
  • Kim has a great feeling for [the North Korean people].  He wants to do right by them
  • North Korean Human rights violations do not have any parallel in the contemporary world.[1]

In the end, the United States will announce it has accomplished a major contribution to world peace, enough to justify a Nobel Peace prize, and the end of its involvement in the negotiations, will boast of how they have protected the American people and saved them tons of money, and North and South Korea will negotiate a comprehensive settlement satisfactory to both of them and to China.

In detail:

Within  a short time, less than a month a firm  agreement will be announced under which North Korea will suspend further development  of its transoceanic missile delivery systems and agree to point what it retains only north toward Canada and not at the United States .

The parties will continue negotiating through and after November 2016 and possibly into November 2020. Each side will be given two opportunities to cancel the meetings, send flunkies to negotiate for several months, intervene personally to restorer them. Trump will claim unqualified success because he has persuaded Kim to point is transoceanic range missiles across the pacific to target Canada, rather than the United States.

The Group of 7 will be invited to supervise compliance with the peace treaties, at their own expense. If they refuse, the United States will withdraw from it, and invite the Untied Nations to supervise the peace, at its expense. If they refuse, the United States will withdraw from it, and publish how much money it will save the United States   taxpayer by it limiting its international commitments.

In drafting his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize, Trump will profusely thank  Jared Kushner for his on-going advice, based on his experience in settling conflicts in the near and middle east, and preserving the  existence of four nations who without  him  might be at war with each other: North and Susah Korea, Israel and Palestine, with treaties in which all parties agreed that  they will not use nuclear weapons or poison gas in whatever confrontations may still face, thus establishing the status quo as the permanent solution to all the problems of world peace. Trump will also acknowledge the help of the Dalai Lama for his spiritual charity in setting the tone for discussions with South Korea during the negations with North Korea

The economic task force will be very active throughout, inviting investment from the United States  pressing for more and more openness of the economy to market  and financial interests.[2] It will announce that agreement has been reached to support a United States   government underwritten factory by Adidas manufacturing hand-woven sneakers, and another agreement by North Korea to stop all mining of raw materials within its borders and instead convert the the mines into depositories for landfill made of non-recyclable waste shipments from the United States, an excess to be deposited off the north coast of North Korea in deep waters.

The political task force will begin by seeking soften some of Kim’s more blatantly undemocratic ruling practices, but will quickly be told that  those  are internal affairs for North Korea to decide, foreign intervention is not desired. The task force will slowly limits its attention to supplying textbooks on civil rights law to North Korean educational institutions, and perhaps financing some translations of United States historical documents such as the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights into Korean. It may be told that such actions might backfire, and will slowly drop out of public sight.

Kim will proudly boast that he has talked Trump into building the tallest skinniest hotel on the Pacific coast and will save Korea’s supplies of gas by permitting Trump to heat it with coal, which Trump will import from West Virginia to show how many jobs he has created in the United States through the negotiations.

South Korea will form a joint venture with North Korea to develop infrastructure, namely, roads going north-south between the two countries each country paying for development within its own borders with loans from the Chinese government.

Peter Marcuse                  June 13, 2018

Brief afterthought: Is it possible Trump actually never saw or ever was concerned about any threat to the United States  by North Korea, and just wanted the headline he was able to get June 14  in the New York Times  “Trump Sees End to North Korea Nuclear Threat” for bragging rights at home? And that will be the end of his interest in the matter?

[1] All but the last are quotes from formulations Trump has already used. The last is from a 2014 United Nations report.

[2] The interest along these lines is  already described in a leading article  in the  New York Times , “What if North Korea Opens Its Economy, Even a Little”? June 13, 2018, -.p.  A10.

Blog #76 – Donald Trump and Special Interests


Blog #76 – Donald Trump with No Special Interests? An OpEd

The idea that Donald Trump is different from everybody else in Washington because they represent special interests and he doesn’t is hard to reconcile with what we know of him. He started life with a loan of $4,000,000 from a rich father who made his money in real estate, and later gave him a $40,000,000 share of his real estate empire to help keep him doing the same. He owns casinos in Atlantic City and golf courses in Florida and Scotland, invests in hedge funds and hob-nobs with hedge fund managers, flamboyantly displays his abilities to fire people and cut jobs, and puts businesses he runs into bankruptcy when they’re no longer profitable for him. He issues 20,000 tickets to help fill an auditorium that seats 1,400, has dissenters thrown out of the audience because it’s a “private party” and wants their coats confiscated, although he says he loves the First Amendment as much as he loves the Second. He flies around in his private jet. He pays himself an annual salary from his corporations of $60 million a year. One bedroom units in his New York City condo tower sell for $2,250,000. He is worth between $4 billion and $10 billion dollars today, and brags about his wealth constantly. Banks have bailed him out when he needed to defer nearly $1 billion in debt when he was in hot water financially.

Whose interests is he likely to represent?

 

[Published as a Letter to the Editor of the Waterbury Republican and American, January 12, 2016]

More detail and discussion at

Blog 77a – The Real Trump and the Tumpeting Trump

Blog 77b –  Why is Trumpeting Trump so appealling

Blog 77c – Summary on Trump

Blog 77b Why is Trumpeting Trump so Appealing


Blog 77b Why is Trumpeting Trump so appealing to so many (including himself)?

The facts of Blog 77a seem very clear, and ought to be the matter of much greater public knowledge and analysis than it is. But there is another aspect to the relationship between the Trumpeting Trump and Real Trump, one that is more speculative, but worthy of reflection. Granted that those talks and ides directly benefit Real Trump in his fundamental business activities, which in turn define his life, there is still a vehemence in the way in which Trumpeting Trump is conducting himself in public which goes beyond play-acting or deliberate self-deception.

This all deserves exploration

Real Trump may even believe at least a part of what Trumpeting Trump is telling him. But Real Trump is smart, understands the world, can see what he is and is not doing. Can he really believe that terrorism is responsible for all of what ails the world, or that keeping Muslims and Mexicans out is a good direction for public policy in the United States (he employs many Mexicans himself)?

And how can it be that so much of what he trumpets receives such an enthusiastic welcome from so many Republican voters and even some Democrats, when the evidence and logic both show that it does not serve them well. Trump says little that would help poor people or non-union workers or the elderly, or student, and yet demographic studies of his supporters show many support him Why?

****

One answer may be that those ideas appeal particularly to those who are discontented with their own positions in real life, who see Trump’s withering complaints about the status quo as reflecting and indeed justifying their own situations. Bigotry is thus a possible reaction to material problems: laying the blame on others, different from themselves, immigrants, black and brown people, intellectuals, and government administrators, for their own difficulties. Having a candidate for President articulating similar views legitimates their own reactions. Hence Trump’s apparent success in the polls so far. (Although rich people also support Trump because he’s good for them.)

Both Trumpeting Trump and his followers are using their rhetoric – let us call it, admittedly oversimplified, bigotry – as a substitute for revealing other feelings, reactions, circumstances with which they are deeply unhappy. It may be a stretch, but is it not possible that, deep inside, Real Trump has doubts about what he is doing, about how satisfying pursuing ever more wealth accumulation is, what he can do with all that money except acquire more? Is it not possible that ultimately he has a need, as a human being, for feelings of solidarity, of support, of compassion, of kindness, perchance of love, values that go beyond the brute pursuit of wealth, of greed, which one might unkindly term the dominant value being pursued by Real Trump and endorsed and validated by Trumpeting Trump?

And might not Trumpeting Trump ’s vehemence in the expression of his ideas be, oddly enough, an upside-down form of the same bigotry and scapegoating, blaming all he looks down on for his own having to be so hurtful, so scathing, to those that make him act as he does, legitimating his own self-serving exploitation of others?

Or, perhaps less naively, might it not be that, just as Trump’s bigotry serves him as a legitimation of greed and the power that successful greed brings, .e.g. to say “you ’re fired” to even more people, by escalating the quest for not only private but also public powerIn a society in which the open defense of wealth accumulation – “greed is good” – is frowned on by most, the pursuit of political power is still accepted asa perfectly natural driving force for aggressive action, can serve as a moral cover for actions that, in reality, are driven by greed, a greed for money and for both as inseparable twins?

As to the Trumpeters enthusiastic followers, might it not be that they find in it an explanation and legitimation of their own difficulties, real difficulties in making a living, in finding rewarding work, in finding security, in finding desirable housing, getting an affordable education, enjoying life as they would like to life it? Then hearing Trumpeting Trump blame blacks, or Mexicans, or those of minority sexualities, for what is keeping America from being great is in a sense a validation of their own fears of others, of the way things are, of the government, validating their own tendencies at the blaming bigotry because here this eloquent forceful widely heard and shown and listened to leader, is saying what they are themselves tempted to say but are afraid to?

Material conditions, specifically the facts of class, race, gender, determine what Trump does in real life and has his façade say, and they produce a need for a legitimating vision, a rationale, for doing what he does: blame it on the world. In parallel fashion, the facts of class, race, gender for many of Trump’s followers underlies own their frustrations and insecurities, and hearing Trump express his views legitimates their own holding of those views as a way to endure and justify their position –blame it on the world. . Trump’s bigotry covers his need to defend the greed and lust for power, with their lack of morality in Real Trump’s real life , and Trumpeting Trump’s follower’s bigotry covers their need to a rationale for why they do not have the lives that their own visons would lead them to desire.

The material and the social-psychological come together to produce what we see every day on our screens. It is not the product of an aberrant mind nor are his followers stupid, but what both he and his followers say and do results from a very painful and very real material historical logic.