Tag Archives: Trump

Merry Christmas Rich People!

As promised Donald Trump delivered on his great big tax cut. As for the rest of us—we got conned. The rich have something to celebrate this Christmas, which was why the Republicans worked so hard to get it done this week. They want to make sure that their donor class has a wonderful Christmas. Oh, and Donald got a great big real estate bonus to put under his own tree.

Most of you already know how the Republicans plan on doing the balancing act for these tax cuts—they are going to take on “entitlement reform” for next year. Which means that they are cutting taxes for the rich and cutting benefits for the middle-class and working poor.

Now is the time to PAY ATTENTION! Thirty five years ago we were sold a trickle-down economics hoax in which “a rising tide would lift all boats”. The result of that swindle is the greatest income inequality since the Great Depression. The results of that was the Great Recession of 2008. And now, they are laying the groundwork for even greater income inequality and for another recession—which probably won’t happen until after the 2020 election. Their claim is that this tax cut will stimulate the economy and thus pay for itself.

Now that the Republicans have perfected gerrymandering for congressional districts, they are working on ‘gerrymandering’ their legislation. For instance, this tax bill is designed to punish blue states more than red states by disallowing state and local tax deductions from federal taxes. It is also gerrymandered so that the tax cuts on the middle-class expire after a few years, while making the corporate and estate tax cuts permanent.

There is just enough sweetener in this tax bill to provide a sugar high for the middle-class to get the Republicans through the 2018 elections, and won’t collapse the economy until after 2020. Republicans are betting that voters have a short memory. By the time the horrendous results of the tax hoax become fully felt, the GOP will place the blame on the Democrats and their voters will believe them.

The truth is now on the table: Republican politicians don’t care about deficits when cutting taxes for the rich—this tax bill will add 1.5 trillion dollars to the national debt. They only care about deficits when it comes to programs which help the poor, the sick, and the elderly. Within a few years the debt will rise and Paul Ryan, or one of his cronies, will claim that we must ‘reform’ Social Security and Medicare, because deficits are out of control.

There is one more huge bonus for Republicans gerrymandered into this tax bill: it repeals the individual mandate in the Obamacare program. Which means that some insurance company will now sue, because you can’t require them to cover preexisting conditions without an individual mandate—then the Supreme Court will vote 5 to 4 to repeal Obamacare.

The working class should keep in mind that of all the promises that Trump made, and all the legislation which has been proposed, this is the only bill that he worked hard to pass. He is literally laughing all the way to the bank. If you saw today’s celebration, you never saw the Republican politicians so giddy. And their donors just cashed in on their campaign investments. Millionaires and billionaires are going to have a great Christmas.

The picture of the Grinch is for the rest of us.

Three Reasons Why The Republican Tax Plan is a Hoax

 

Republicans are at it again. More accurately, they have never stopped. The hoax was first perpetrated on the middle class in the 1980s. We were told that if we let the Republicans cut taxes on the ‘job creators’ (the Rich) that this would make us all better off. It never happened. If you look at the data since 1980 all that has happened is that inequality has grown exponentially, and so has the national debt. Those are the facts.

 

 

And yet, they have regurgitated these old arguments in new language. Corporations are making record profits, and still we are told that if we cut corporate tax from 35 to 20% they will create jobs. Why are they not creating them now? Again, they have record profits. The reason we don’t have more economic growth in this country is that the middle class and working poor don’t have enough discretionary spending power. Seventy percent of the American economy is based on consumer spending. If we don’t have enough money left over at the end of the month, from paying rent, bills, food, and health care then we cannot afford to grow the economy.

The Republicans will tell you that their tax ‘reform’ package will generate growth. And that it will save the average family $1000 a year—we are too smart for this. The word “average” means that if I cut taxes on ten percent of the people by $10,000 and the rest by zero—then the average is $1000 per person.

There is one more reason why this whole plan is a hoax, and it goes all the way back to Reagan. In the 1980s they cut everyone’s taxes. But then bit-by-bit they raised taxes back on the middle class, but taxes on the wealthy never went back up to where they were.

The reason why Trump loves this tax cut bill is that it will eliminate estate taxes. It will also eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax, both of which only affect the richest one-percent.  Billionaires will profit greatly from this tax cut and the middle class and working poor will get screwed once again. The ironic tragedy in all of this is that the working-class Trump supporters will support this bill simply because Trump supports it. They will get screwed, but so will a great many other people.

The Small Business Association* doesn’t support this bill because it really does nothing for small businesses. But the Republicans will push it through with their “small business” battle cry. Once again, their rhetoric doesn’t match the reality.

And the Republicans who screamed about the national debt during the Obama administration? They are ominously silent. They only care about the debt when it is helping the poor. When it comes to cutting taxes for the rich, to hell with the debt–blame the Democrats.

How to fight back against this? The same way we fought back against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act—bring demonstrators into the Capitol and shame enough Senators into backing off. Flood your Congressman and Senator with calls and letters. Resist.

What Kind of a F#&*ing Person Does This?!

 

Donald Trump has threatened to pull out of the Puerto Rico recovery effort. He has also signed legislation to completely undermine The Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare). At the same time, he is threatening North Korea, and is going to decertify the Iran Nuclear Deal.

To say that Trump is unhinged would be an understatement.

On Tuesday night, General Barry McCaffrey told Brian Williams that he thinks we are headed unavoidably toward war with North Korea. Yesterday Nicholas Kristof, who just returned from North Korea thinks that they, too, are gearing up for an inevitable war with the United States. How can ‘cooler heads’ prevail when the biggest hot-head is in the Oval Office? For years, we have had a stand-off with North Korea. But we have had presidents, of both parties, who understood that we must remain calm. Trump could start a nuclear war with the same emotional storm in which he starts his Twitter-tantrums.

This is a man who is willing to hold 800,000 young people hostage (the DACA program) in order to build his “wall”—which even Republicans know is a cost-benefit disaster.

Everything about Trump can be understood as “undo everything that Obama accomplished”. Obama wanted better health care for millions—undo that. Obama wanted a nuclear treaty with Iran—undo that. Obama is a humanitarian—Trump is the opposite. Obama wanted peace…this is getting scary. From clean energy, environmental protection, affordable health care, treaties with other countries… Trump will do the opposite. We can use child psychology to understand Trump, but we cannot control him. He is unhinged and is leading us inevitably toward war, and even some in his own party now recognize this.

He has done nothing about the opioid crisis, except to appoint Invisible Jared to head up something (nobody knows). This has gone nowhere while America is in a drug crisis manufactured by our own pharmaceutical companies.

What, if anything, is it going to take for his supporters to admit that they have been conned?  His tax plan focuses on the Estate Tax, which benefits him and his billionaire friends. He has not even proposed an infrastructure plan, except as a surreptitious tax-cut for corporations which will supposedly ‘stimulate’ private spending.

He, and his minion Betsy DeVos, are trying to destroy public education. But for his Chief Strategize Steve Bannon, who now works for him outside the White House, even this isn’t far enough. Bannon wants to destroy even more, threatening to push the Republican Party even further to the right.

If America is lucky we will avoid a disaster for the next 18 months. But if the Democrats don’t get their shit together and turn out the vote, if we cannot take back the House and Senate in next year’s election, then we are going to pay the price for decades.

Democrats have one main job for the next year—get out the vote!

Today’s GOP: Heartless and Cruel

Today Trump gave the white supremacists something to cheer about. He has spent the last month showing America who he is. First, he cheered on the KKK and Neo-Nazis in Charlottesville Virginia, declaring “there are very fine people on both sides.”  He then pardoned the racist sheriff Joe Arpaio, who puts immigrants into “concentration camps” (his own words). And now, through his racist Attorney General Jeff Sessions, he announces that he will end the DACA program. Sessions was giddy, practically jumping up and down in his pants, when he made the announcement. (happy that he was the one to make the announcement).

For those of you who don’t know: President Obama authorized DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) in June of 2012, because the Republican controlled congress would not act—holding true to their vow to block everything President Obama proposed. So Obama did the right thing.

Many of these children were brought here by their parents when they were quite young, this is the only home they have even known. And Trump wants to deport them—to where? This is their home.

In the latest opinion poll 76% of Americans want to keep the DACA program. But 15% of Americans want to end it. This is right in line with Trump’s own 35% approval rating. Who does he care about?  His base. Who is he governing for? His base.

His whole campaign, and now presidency has been to appease the racists in this country. From the moment he came down his golden elevator in Trump Tower and announced his bid for presidency, by denouncing Mexicans as drug-dealers and rapists—he shot to the top of the Republican polls. When he announced a ban on Muslim immigrants, he went even higher in Republican polling. Now, it is true that not all Republicans are racist, but it is obviously true that some are—this is his base.  Them, and the rich. This is how they plan to “make America great again”—and it is now becoming clear what this means to them.

We were warned by people who knew Don the Con, when he was cheating his contractors and workers out of money. He told us that he was going to make health care better and cheaper—that was a con. Only 17% of Americans approved of his health care plan, and he almost succeeded in shoving it through congress. This plan would have thrown 30 million people off health care in order to slash taxes for the richest Americans.

Right in sync with his ‘reality-show presidency’—he gave congress six months to act, as long as they attach it to a bill that he wants. In other words, he wants to hold these children hostage, because this is the only way he can force his agenda.

Last week one dreamer, Alonso Guillen,  lost his life in Houston saving the lives of others. We will need undocumented immigrants to help rebuild Houston. In fact, we will need these workers to rebuild the American economy—we cannot grow the economy with a shrinking population.

These people should keep this in mind next Sunday morning when they mouth the words “Forgive us of our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Any one who would deport these kids are simply heartless and cruel.

What will the rest of Americans do? “the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.” Edmund Burke.

By The Way: these dreamers pay a lot more in taxes than Trump’s entire family.

 

Should Professors Stop Opining About Trump?

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In last Friday’s New York Times, professional critic Stanley Fish criticized a group of history professors who call themselves Historians Against Trump, for speaking out against the presidential candidate Donald Trump. Fish argues that although they have a right to state their opinion as citizens, they have no right to state their opinion as historians.

Maybe Fish should also criticize climate scientists for speaking out about climate change, given the climate change has also become a political issue. Maybe Fish should tell evolutionary biologists to keep quiet about evolution, given this hotly charged political issue. Fish himself is a law professor. Maybe he should tell law professors that they have no right to write opinion pieces about the constitutionality of some of our legal and political practices…

If this sounds like I am making a reducio ad absurdum out of Fish’s opinion piece– I am: because it is an absurd position. Historians not only have a right to speak out, they have a duty to do so.

“Those who do not remember the past [history] are condemned to repeat it”. This is the warning that George Santayana gave us, and it bears repeating. Historians are uniquely positioned to remind us of what happened in the past and when the results were disastrous. Actually, some of the ‘prophets’ in the Old Testament were simply issuing ‘warnings’ about the direction people were heading– “those who do not remember how to get to the water supply are condemned to die of thirst”.

The United States of Amnesia. This was the term Gore Vidal used to warn Americans of the disastrous results of never remembering what happened in the past. Sometimes we all need a little reminding.

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Maybe Stanley Fish ought to tell political scientists that they should not explain to us what fascism is.

In an appropriately titled book, Fascism: Why Not Here?– Brian E. Fogarty “draws parallels between German culture of the early twentieth century and American culture today”. He wrote the book before the rise of the Tea Party. And I had to go back and read it again after the rise of Trump. It is a very scary book. And we ought to heed his warning.

Most Americans are not just forgetful, they are ignorant as to what is really happening. Who can blame them? It takes a great deal of time and effort (and frustration) to understand more deeply what is happening and why. It is just easier to watch Fox ‘news’, and then vote their conscience.

Maybe historians, and other professors, are speaking out now because they are concerned that if Trump wins the presidency they will not have the ability to speak out later. This happened not just in Nazi Germany, but in the United States during World War I. Many prominent university professors were fired from their positions for merely questioning whether the US should get involved in a European war.

In fact the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and the tenure system were started after this disastrous fiasco. John Dewey (my intellectual hero) explained that professors were hired as ‘public intellectuals’– they should not be fired for saying what they think. (By the way there is a fine line between knowledge and opinion that would take too long to explain here.)

The Republicans hate the tenure system nearly as much as they hate very educated liberals. They would love to do away with both, so that they can go back to firing people for saying things they don’t like. Trump has already barred reporters he doesn’t like from attending his rallies. This is the first step toward a ‘slippery slope’ (that I don’t think is a fallacy). The right of freedom of the press is extended to academic freedom. And sometimes a duty to speak out.

Most people do not know who Stanley Fish is, but even less know who I am. However, as I said before I am tired of remaining silent. And I will continue to speak out, not just as a concerned citizen but as a college professor of philosophy (with a focus on ethics and political philosophy).

By the way Mr. Fish, if Trump gets elected and the results are disastrous– do we then not have the right to say “we tried to warn you”.

A Brief History of Race and Politics: from the KKK to Donald Trump

If we want to understand how we got to this point in American politics we should remind ourselves of some basic history and not deny the facts.

Yes, it was Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, who freed the slaves. The North won the Civil War and the South still hasn’t gotten over it. From 1864 to 1964 the majority of the White South voted Democrat. Southern Democrats were not liberal in any sense of the term– but they were anti-Republican. Their resentment over the Civil War has lasted more than a hundred years. And their battle cry has always been “the South will rise again”.

The White South’s alliance with the Democratic Party, however, began to shift in 1964. When Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, he turned to Bill Moyers and said, “we may have just signed the South over to the Republican Party for the rest of our lifetimes”. And from 1964 to 1984 – the White South turned Red. Barry Goldwater ran against the Civil Rights Act; Richard Nixon ran his famous “Southern Strategy”; and Ronald Reagan perfected that strategy. By 1984 there were very few White Southern Democrats left– they had all become Republicans.

Today’s Republican Party is not the party of Lincoln; they are the party of anti-Lincoln. They are the party of The South. If you look at a map of the Red States and the Blue States it basically still traces the Mason-Dixon line of the Civil War. There are few exceptions.

This is not to say that all Republicans are racist. But the party has aligned itself with the racially motivated elements of the South – they have accepted them in order to maintain a conservative majority. The Republican Party has, in effect, become a ‘white power’ movement. Republicans in The House of Representatives are 98% white and 95% male. And Fox ‘news’ is already pushing for a “white turnout” in the upcoming presidential election.

“Rapists and Criminals”

The Ku Klux Klan rose up after the Civil War claiming that the newly freed black slaves were criminals who were raping white women. Their stated aim was to protect “Southern Heritage”. Their underlying aim was, of course, racism. They were America’s first and foremost terrorist organization. They are still alive today. They just don’t always were white robes.

Remember Donald Trump’s announcement speech. When he came down that “golden elevator” from on high, the first thing that he said is that Mexicans are “rapists and criminals”. And he was going to “build a wall” to keep them out. Next he went after the Muslims– calling for a ban of all Muslim immigrants to this country. He immediately shot up to number one in the Republican primary.

We have seen this happen before. And not just in our country. We should keep in mind that Adolf Hitler’s campaign slogan was “Make Germany Great Again”. The same thing that Hitler said about “the Jews”– Trump says about Mexicans and Muslims.

This is not to say that all Trump supporters are racist. But all racists are Trump supporters. They have unmasked the most insidious elements of the Republican Party. They are once again speaking out– they hate “politically correct” speech. They want to “make derogatory language great again”.

Racists are fueled by hate, and they wear their emotions on their sleeves. What, in the past, has been “dog-whistle” politics has now become a fog horn. Much of this has been the language of “States’ Rights”.

“States’ Rights” was used before the Civil War to protect slavery. “States’ Rights” was used after the Civil War to protect segregation and suppress voting rights. And “States’ Rights” are being used today to re-suppress voting rights, women’s rights, and the rights of the LGBT community.

In fact, it was the Civil Rights Act which limited the ability of “States’ Rights” to undermine Human Rights. And that is why the South has always hated it.

Trump is galvanizing the South. His rallies are an emotional hotbed, fueled by rage. He has a brand of white ethno-centric nationalism and he is now courting fundamentalist Christians. Sinclair Lewis declared that “when fascism comes to the U.S. it will come wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross”.

Now Donald Trump is running as “the law and order” candidate. This was how Richard Nixon described himself– and look how well that turned out!
The Trump campaign knows that they cannot win-over even a small minority of the Hispanic vote.

The vast majority of African-Americans will never vote for him. Their strategy is thus to get out the white vote and suppress minority voting. Is this the democracy that we really want? To win elections by racial division and voter suppression.

That is where we are headed in American politics. No wonder so many Americans believe that our country is headed in the wrong direction.

As I said before: I am tired of remaining silent on these matters. Though I struggle with feeling that there is nothing I can do about it, I am going to be speaking out more– whether it has the desired effect or not.