Tag Archives: democracy

The Tyranny of

Donald Trump’s official presidential bio contains about a half-dozen attempts to convince someone—probably himself—that his win was a massive blowout and not a shameful, slight fluke only made possible by the intervention of a foreign government and a domestic conspiracy to get the FBI director to interfere in the democratic process during the final weeks, twice.

This sad overcompensation—like the emergency White House press briefing called Saturday night to lie about the size of of his inauguration crowd as the largest protests in U.S. history raged against the new president—isn’t an accident.

It’s an announcement: We will do what we want regardless of how many Americans are against us.

Since Trump lost the popular vote by the largest margin in a modern times, he’s done nothing to reach out to the majority of Americans who rejected him. His cabinet is made up entirely of doctrinaire, extremely right-wing Republicans, most of them filthy rich, nearly all white and male. His hostile inaugural address proclaimed a mandate for him to act as the voice of “the people,” though he’s the least popular president to take the office is the history of polling such things.

And things are only going to get worse.

With minority support and no interest in courting anything but that, Trump is about to enact a far right agenda unlike anything we’ve seen since the 1920s.

If Trump gets his way, we are likely to see the greatest transfer of wealth to the richest in human history, though the wealth inequality in America is already nearing levels that brought out the guillotines in 18th-century France.

This transfer of wealth is not just about giant tax breaks for the rich and their kids and their corporations and their kids’ corporations. It’s not just about a massive un-insuring of working Americans that will return us to the era of discrimination against the sick. And it’s not just about the erasure of regulations that will transfer the costs of pollution and financial risk back on to middle-class.

As Trump was about to take the oath of office, his team announced plans for $10.5 trillion in cuts based on a plan devised by the Heritage Foundation—a plan that includes huge cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the Defense Department. This plan would violate some of Trump’s most notable campaign promises and likely send millions, if not tens of millions, of the 48 million Americans, including 12 million children, that the government keeps out of poverty into abject despair.

What mandate does the GOP have to unwind the insurance of 32 million and turn an income inequality crisis into an income inequality nightmare?

Yes, Republicans hold a majority of seats in the House, where they lost seats despite an electoral map that has been gerrymandered for their exclusive pleasure. Yes, they hold the Senate, where they also lost seats and their 52 representatives represent millions of fewer voters than the 48 Democrats. And then there is Trump, who got millions fewer votes than Clinton but won three key states by a margin smaller than 1 percent with share of the vote less than 50 percent.

The closest analogy in history to this is the 2000 election when George W. Bush made passing gestures at unity and ended up pursuing a nakedly partisan agenda that erased a surplus, lost two wars and revealed mass incompetence.

But even W. didn’t go after Planned Parenthood. And the millions he uninsured were just the side effect of the failure of his economic polices.

Posted with permission from The National Memo.



Living with more (or less) in Trump’s America

by Dell Franklin

This kid was my best friend when we were both 12, and he told me his goal in life was to be a millionaire. We will call him Carl C. Today, if you drive along a certain freeway in Southern California in an industrial area you will be hard-pressed not to spot a huge square-block-size building with his name on it. He is a billionaire.

Back when we were 12 in our blue-collar town, Carl was already working in his father’s business, a small manufacturer of construction accessories. Carl took my two prized agates I got for my birthday in marbles and sold them. He had the best rare coin collection in town. He was already better than me at cards and repeatedly took money I earned shining shoes at a local amusement park. In junior high, when we walked around town, he never carried money, only a dime in the change purse of his bill fold in case he needed to make an emergency telephone call.

In high school, he bought a car. When he drove us neighborhood kids around town, cruised the drive-in, went to The Pike in Long Beach, or to the beach on summer days, he made sure we paid for gas. If he loaned you money he charged 20 percent interest. I never borrowed money from him because I didn’t need to, but hanging out with him forced me to be almost as cheap as he was, so I wouldn’t get swindled, but I often did get swindled. He was smart, daring, always one step ahead of everybody, including me. The only thing I was superior to him at was athletics. I started and excelled in all three major sports and ran track. Though he was slightly stronger than me, he stunk and got cut from every team sport.

All through high school and college he worked for his dad, whose business grew and boomed, and he wore a coat and tie to learn finances and sales. He majored in business and languages. I went into the Army for three years, and when I got out he had a master’s degree and enough money to start his own business by living at home and saving. It was 1968, and he was about to be drafted. I advised him to go to Canada to avoid Vietnam, but he felt with his education and his ability to “talk himself into good situations” he would get a cushy job, while those less qualified for language school would fight. He ended up in the infantry and deserted a troop movement to ‘Nam and showed up at my apartment with his passport. He was fleeing to Europe. His dad, already hounded by the FBI, showed up looking ten years older, a decorated WWII infantry soldier who fought in North Africa, Italy, France and Germany.

We watched Carl fly away to Paris from LAX and when Mr. C put his arm around me, and I put my arm around him, he was shuddering. His wife was in hysterics.

Five years later, as the war died down, Carl was back home running his dad’s business after Mr. C had a heart attack. Neither Carl or his dad would discuss how he’d managed to get back in the country without going to jail. I had visited Mr. C off and on during Carl’s absence and he was slowly deteriorating before my very eyes, twitching and shaking, black rings beneath his eyes, his once-powerful body withered. He was a person I adored.

When he died a year after Carl’s return, Carl took over the business and expanded. He lived in a plush two-story home on the beach with his beautiful blonde wife and occasionally came into the saloon where I worked as a bartender in Manhattan beach and carried only the dime in his change purse and a crisp new hundred-dollar bill he never broke. He also refused to pay for his drinks, stating if he was tending bar he’d give me free drinks as his good friend, while I explained I worked for a house and didn’t give away their money. He allowed others to buy his drinks. He was always trying to coerce me and bar denizens to bet on football and basketball games where he was at a huge advantage, realizing he was studious of odds and cold-blooded about who won or loss, having no loyalty to any team, while others were guided by emotions. He won a lot of money. When he lost, instead of paying off, he managed to talk winners into letting what was owed them ride on another bet.

I began to despise him. Just the look on his face and in his eyes as he sized up those with less money, less intelligence, less heart, and manipulated them with his uncanny ability to subtly browbeat, began to eat away at me, especially when he never bought anybody a drink after he took their money on bets. The way he so gloatingly fit those bills into his wallet reminded me of his stashing away my agates years back. Like he owned you.

I finally refused to serve him. We had an argument. He called me a loser, working in a bar for tips and coolie wages at 30 years old. I was a failed athlete and had no chance as a writer. He had everything. I countered by telling him I loved my job, played in two basketball leagues, surfed just about every day, had a wonderful girlfriend and a great cat. He scoffed at me, sneered, said not only was I failed athlete, but that he, a non-athlete, could beat me in tennis and wanted to play for a hundred bucks.

He took lessons from a famous pro in Beverly Hills and owned state-of-the-art rackets, a ball machine and 50 cans of balls in the trunk of his Mercedes. I upped the stakes to two-hundred. So we met on the local courts, and as we warmed up, his face changed. The cockiness disappeared. He began to look craven. He came to the net and stated he wanted to play that afternoon for nothing, until he “felt ready”—this after we had shook hands. I called him a slew of names, cussed him in front of various players on other courts, accused him of being a coward and stormed off, told him to never come around me again. He never did.

So I forgot about him, until I heard he was now a billionaire.


Carl was not a creep like President Trump. He was a gentleman around girls. As a kid, he was funny and observant and well-read and curious and good company. But as the years passed, his drive to accumulate money began to change him and control his life, until greed began to win out over humanity, just as today, in  this age, capitalism has won out over democracy, turning us into an oligarchy masquerading as a democracy.

As a millionaire and finally a billionaire, I’m sure, as a person who never liked paying for anything, and coaxed others to pay his way, Carl C has the finest tax lawyers to write off everything. I’m sure he became admired in his own sphere of business and society and eventually worshiped, for in America attaining millionaire and billionaire status is the culmination of the American Dream, so that when one of these people speaks, others stop and listen, as well as catering to and often becoming obsequious to such financial titans, almost as if, as billionaires, whatever they touch turns to gold, whatever they say is the truth, and that because they can make millions and billions they can do anything, even run the most powerful, important country in the world, even, as a young millionaire deserter, beat a trained athlete (who in our society is a poor slacker and loser) in a tennis match for two-hundred dollars because his hubris and ego has no bounds. §

Dell Franklin lives in quiet simplicity, never got rich, and doesn’t lack for anything. He writes from his home in Cayucos, Calif. Visit his website: dellfranklin.com.

The pope’s shameless legions


Being a person who believes in no religion but has been taught to respect those who do and hoping they refrain from trying to convert or save me, I admit to liking Pope Francis very much as a person and inspirational leader and hope he can convert some of the scowling dumb-asses in this country to think about climate change and individual rights and the plight of immigrants, in whose shoes they refuse to place themselves in fear they might just start understanding their suffering and come to their aid, which would certainly infuriate their rancorous leaders demonizing them as criminals, terrorists and parasites sucking our system dry.

Amidst the pomp and pageantry of the pope’s invocations, the business moguls and politicians and glitterati of America fawn over and grovel before him in hushed tones like chastened sinners, temporarily humbled, and forgiven. Oh how magnificent they are in their new-found benevolence and humility. How wonderful it must feel; to be rich and famous and powerful and take time out from shitting on the little guy and bow before the pope and utter kind things about him when all the while you can’t wait for him to get his pious ass back to some place like the slums of Rio to pass his benedictions and blessings on to those poor saps who believe in his socialist bullshit and leave us to our merciless onslaught on democracy while we praise it as the savior of civilization.

The business moguls and politicians and glitterati of America fawn over and grovel before him in hushed tones like chastened sinners, temporarily humbled, and forgiven. Oh how magnificent they are in their new-found benevolence and humility.

When the pope critiques our capitalist system, he gets to listen to our conservative politicians and media pundits and heavyweight Catholics—the big time Catholics who for years ignored and denied the hideous rape of their children by their priests—explain how they “appreciate the pope’s deeply felt compassion and humility but he doesn’t understand our democracy and capitalistic system of government and how well it works for ALL Americans.”

Oh, he understands all right. He doesn’t see us as we see ourselves, does he, so inebriated are we with our greatness, our wealth, our reality shows of rich women getting drunk and squabbling over nonsense, our crazed hero-worship of athletic heroes in violent sports in over-priced venues, our descent into drugs of every kind at every level of society, our white police shooting black men down in the streets, our obscene narcissism in glorying in the trappings of material wealth, our hordes of mindless obese gobblers of artificial food, our defense of individual arsenals to supposedly fight our own feared government but that lead to monthly slaughters of innocent people, our enormous military power hogging money that could be spent on the needy as our homelessness spirals out of control, our meddling in countries where we do not belong with the propagandistic excuse it makes us safer and insures our national security, our massive and paranoid intelligence institutions that spy on us and warn us after starting these horribly tragic wars that “we know best, and you don’t, so trust us.”

This pope probably watches American television, which is everywhere, and observed a beaten down John Boehner, a good Catholic and former altar boy and basically a good guy, tormented by the hard-hearted zealots in his House of Representatives who want to cut taxes and eliminate regulations for the rich corporations and take away what’s left from the poor so as to “balance the budget and get the economy back on track.” Yeh, sure.

There is suspicion Boehner possibly, upon the visit of his pontiff, felt profound pangs of guilt and shame in meeting Francis while knowing he had been going along for four years with a bunch of bloodless pricks with no other interest but shafting the poor. So he quit, weeping like a kid who lost a Little League game.

This pope, if he can keep from gagging, probably turns on Fox News and watches the cruel expressions and listens to the cruel words of people like Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity and the rest of the rabble denouncing our black president as a Kenyan, a Muslim, a non-American, and, cloaked in the right language, “a nigger with the gall to think he can govern us old white fogies when the country belongs to us. The idea of this black bastard and his black wife and black children actually greeting the pope!”

Temporarily, the Marco Rubio’s and Ted Cruz’s and Chris Christie’s and Carly Fiorina’s and Rick Santorum’s take time out from their vicious attacks on any policies to help the needy to appear both proud and beneficent as they stand blessed by their beloved pope, so ensconced are they in papal purity. Meanwhile, their bankrollers, the Koch brothers and the Texas billionaires and the rest of that scabrous lot continue their assault on a country they’re trying to buy and wait patiently for this altruistic and obviously naïve pope Francis to get the fuck out of this country so they can take it over.

Trump, smartly staying out of this ghastly spectacle, bides his time, knowing that money talks and bullshit walks. He likes the pope, of course, might even consider him a good friend some day, wink, wink, somebody who might need a big fat donation down the line, ey? Get rid of that tin-can Fiat and step into my private plane, Frank…. §

Dell Franklin writes from his home in Cayucos, Calif., where he lives with his dog Wilbur. His work can also be read online at dellfranklin.com.