“That’s Our Hitler!”

The moment comes about halfway through Mel Brooks’ brilliant 1968 movie “The Producers”. Max Bialystock is deep into his plot to stage the worst musical ever for the purpose of having it close after one performance. All he has to do is raise far more money than the flop could possibly take to stage and no one will ask for their share of the 25,000% of the profits which has been sold to investors. The worst musical ever, “Springtime for Hitler,” has been chosen. It’s now time to cast it.

Hippie Lorenzo Saint DuBois wanders into the casting call and gives his performance. As soon as he says, “If everyone in the world had a flower instead of a gun the world would be one big smell-in!” Bialystock rises triumphantly and declares, “That’s our Hitler!”

It’s the moment when simple comedy runs boldly over the line into farce and never looks back.

So it is with the Trump “budget”. For all we have said about the aspiring dictatorship we can now proclaim that we have our Hitler – but not in the sense anyone expected.

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Know it All?

Still terribly busy.  This is a repeat from 8 years ago which I hope feels a bit prescient.

Think for a moment on how much you know about the world around you.  If there’s a debate about banning a very useful chemical because some people have found it is toxic or dangerous, what is your opinion?  If that’s too much, what do you know about how the operations of the Legislature that is debating your taxes and services for the next year?  Perhaps we should try something simpler – how do you know if the sneakers you are wearing were made with child labor?

Perhaps you say, “I don’t care.  I’m too bizzy to worry about it all.  There are experts to handle these things, I’ll trust them.”  Which ones do you trust?  In the next election, do you vote based on an appeal to your guts because it sounds right, and what do you get for it?

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Stumbling Into War?

The scandals of the Trump administration have filled the news. There can be no doubt that this is a perilous time for the United States as a constitutional crisis tied deeply to Russia unfolds. Unfortunately, this became even more dangers with a new revelation of alleged treachery.

The story out today is that Michael Flynn, acting as the incoming administration’s representative, called off US support for the SDF militia fighting Da’esh (ISIS) on 10 Jan. He may have been acting more on behalf of Turkey, which reportedly paid him $500,000.

Understanding this situation and why it is so dangerous for the entire world requires some deep background. It will be difficult for the mainstream press to catch up, so it is our pleasure to provide it here.

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Post-Political

Our times are often described as “after”. The term “post-modern” came into vogue decades ago as art and architecture slid back into a desire for structure and meaning. “Post-racial” turned into a handy way for white people to never talk about what was right in front of their eyes. “Post-truth” became a useful word in 2016 as the effervescence of “truthiness” fizzled.

Welcome to “post-reality,” the final frontier of after.

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Formal

Ask any non-American for one word to describe us. You’ll get a lot of different answers, for sure, but there is one that stands out for me. I’ve asked this of a lot of people from many different nations and there is one word which came up more often than most.

Open.

Americans, as a people, have few limits. We honestly believe that if you put your mind to it you can achieve anything at all. More importantly, we don’t have any problems talking about those dreams – or many other details about our lives. This doesn’t happen in a lot of other cultures, and it is one of our greatest strengths.

Like all great strengths, as we play to it very hard it can also become a terrible weakness.

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Trump Alternative Universe

This is a quick post outside of my regular schedule because the nation I love is in terrible peril and it’s clear that far too many people do not appreciate the real problem:

The president is not sane.

Everything else is irrelevant. The executive orders, North Korea, even the Russian hacking of our election are completely secondary to the immediate problem in front of us. The most powerful person in the world is not sane and we have to do something about it immediately.

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Decades in the (re)Making

“My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over. Our Constitution works; our great Republic is a government of laws and not of men. … Let us restore the golden rule to our political process, and let brotherly love purge our hearts of suspicion and of hate.”

– Gerald R. Ford, “Remarks Upon Taking the Oath of Office as President

Something happened to our nation in 1974. It was more than Watergate and the disgrace of President Nixon. Years later, Jimmy Carter famously called it “malaise” – a feeling of unease that is hard to pin down. As we discussed in People’s Economics it shows up as a turning point in the economy, too.

Primarily it’s been a crisis of spirit and identity. Who are we? What are we doing?

The natural end to this crisis may be at hand. Like an addict on a 43 year bender, rock bottom might come from the Watergate script pitched as a pointless remake. At first I wanted to call it Nixon on steroids, but this is Nixon on meth. How bad can it get?

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