Running Against a Bad Man

Published / by Stephen

Share This:

Good Advice from Krugman:

The Setup:

The great majority of Americans consider Donald Trump unpresidential. A plurality consider his recent Tweets racist; half believe his campaign coordinated with Russia. It’s fair to say that most of America finds Trump pretty vile.

The question for Democrats is what to do with that reality. The thing is, it’s a lot less relevant politically than you might imagine. Most of the people who consider Trump vile would never have voted for him anyway, and many of the rest will vote for him despite their personal distaste, because they hate liberals more.

Yet it would also be wrong to say that Trump’s unique awfulness is irrelevant. His approval rating is remarkably low given growth over 3 percent and unemployment under 4 percent. And perceptions of character do drive votes: the Clinton email “scandal” — yes, it was fake, but it was relentlessly hyped by the media and fueled by James Comey’s misbehavior — almost surely swung the 2016 election.

The Details – Read the article.

The Bottom Line:

So can Democrats walk and chew gum at the same time? Can they run mainly on things Americans want, like guaranteed health care, while also reminding voters that a terrible person occupies the White House? The fate of the republic may hinge on the answer.

Our Racist President

Published / by Stephen

Share This:

Trump is and has been a racist for a long time. It is also clear that a large number of the republican lawmakers and Trump’s base are also racists. Reading the evidence is sickening.

David Leonhardt – The president of racism: “President Trump doesn’t just make racist comments. He is a racist. He’s proven it again and again, over virtually his entire time as a public figure. His bigotry is a core part of his worldview, and it’s been central to his political rise.”

Donald Trump’s Racism: The Definitive List, Updated

A final word: in this blog I am not going to address the Trump racism topic again.

“Racism Pure and Simple”

Published / by Stephen

Share This:

In recent statements trump is waving the flag that represents himself and apparently a large part of the republican party:

The dog whistle days are apparently over.

As everyone knows, on Sunday Donald Trump attacked four progressive members of Congress, saying that they should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” As it happens, three of the four were born in the U.S., and the fourth is a duly naturalized citizen. All are, however, women of color.

Sorry, there’s no way to both sides this, or claim that Trump didn’t say what he said. This is racism, plain and simple — nothing abstract about it. And Trump obviously isn’t worried that it will backfire.

As evidence of the implicit and not so implicit support by republican politicians, consider the strong, shocking and unsupported assertion by Sen. Lindsey Graham in an interview on Fox & Friends on Monday morning, “We all know that [Ocasio-Cortez] and this crowd are a bunch of communists. They hate Israel. They hate our own country.”

“Is It Cruelty, Or Is It Corruption?”

Published / by Stephen

Share This:

Trump and the Merchants of Detention

Selected quotes:

Is it cruelty, or is it corruption? That’s a question that comes up whenever we learn about some new, extraordinary abuse by the Trump administration — something that seems to happen just about every week. And the answer, usually, is “both.”

For example, why is the administration providing cover for Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, who almost surely ordered the murder of The Washington Post’s Jamal Khashoggi? Part of the answer, probably, is that Donald Trump basically approves of the idea of killing critical journalists. But the money the Saudi monarchy spends at Trump properties is relevant, too.

And the same goes for the atrocities the U.S. is committing against migrants from Central America. Oh, and save the fake outrage. Yes, they are atrocities, and yes, the detention centers meet the historical definition of concentration camps.

One reason for these atrocities is that the Trump administration sees cruelty both as a policy tool and as a political strategy: Vicious treatment of refugees might deter future asylum-seekers, and in any case it helps rev up the racist base. But there’s also money to be made, because a majority of detained migrants are being held in camps run by corporations with close ties to the Republican Party.

Which brings us to the issue of private prisons, and privatization in general. Privatization of public services — having them delivered by contractors rather than government employees — took off during the 1980s. It has often been justified using the rhetoric of free markets, the supposed superiority of private enterprise to government bureaucracy.

This was always, however, a case of bait-and-switch. Free markets, in which private businesses compete for customers, can accomplish great things, and are indeed the best way to organize most of the economy. But the case for free markets isn’t a case for private business where there is no market: There’s no reason to presume that private firms will do a better job when there isn’t any competition, because the government itself is the sole customer. In fact, studies of privatization often find that it ends up costing more than having government employees do the work.

Nor is that an accident. Between campaign contributions and the revolving door, plus more outright bribery than we’d like to think, private contractors can engineer overpayment on a scale beyond the wildest dreams of public-sector unions.

How much of a role has this played in policy? It would, I think, be going too far to claim that the private-prison industry — merchants of detention? — has been a driving force behind the viciousness of Trump’s border policy. But the fact that crony capitalists close to the administration profit from the viciousness surely greases the path.

And this fits the general pattern. As I suggested at the beginning, cruelty and corruption are intertwined in Trump administration policy. Every betrayal of American principles also seems, somehow, to produce financial benefits for Trump and his friends.

Quotes from Paul Krugman, Opinion NYT

 

Imagine This

Published / by Stephen

Share This:

Imagine if in 2020 we elect a president who

…and a Senate who doesn’t kiss his ring

Source:

Trump Facts & Tariffs – Revisited

Published / by Stephen

Share This:

A prior post, March 2018, addressed this topic, Trump Facts and Tariffs. Since then Trump has learned nothing. He does not read or listen. He just plays to his base and uniformed gut.

A tariff on Chinese goods is pure and simple a tax. Likewise a tariff on US goods  is a tax. The question is who pays the taxes and by extension are tariffs a good policy?

Krugman has two recent editorials that address these question,  one published May 7 and another March 3, How Goes the Trade War?

The bottom line: Consumers, not foreigners, are paying the Trump tariffs. Read the editorials. Below are selected quotes:

Trump’s tweets over the past few days may well be featured in future economics textbooks as perfect illustrations of how people misunderstand the basics of international trade and trade policy. In fact, I can pretty much guarantee it, since I’m the co-author of two textbooks.

… enough time has passed for economists to look at the actual results of Trump’s trade policy so far, and the Chinese are not, in fact, paying the tariffs. As I wrote a couple of months ago, “to a first approximation, foreigners paid none of the bill, U.S. companies and consumers paid all of it.”

So if you’re trying to make sense of what’s happening on trade, you should start with the basic point that Trump has no idea what he’s doing, that there isn’t any coherent U.S. policy goal.

About The Mueller Report

Published / by Stephen

Share This:

Frank Bruni, NYT’s Opinion Columnist, April 17, 2019. Well Said:

Do you — does anyone — really need the work of Mueller and his team to come to a conclusion about …  [Donald Trump’s presidency]? How important is evidence not yet revealed when so much of what Trump does is conspicuous, when the essence of his character is proudly unhidden? You know it from his words, spoken and tweeted and intemperate to the point of viciousness. You know it from his aides, current and former, whose nagging senses of patriotism and propriety lead them to leak about the extreme requests that he has made and that they have thwarted.

You know it in your bones.

And that’s the problem with the Mueller obsession. It implies that Trump is defined by whether he actively conspired with Russian officials to attain power. It suggests that the jury on his integrity is out, that the puzzle of his full nature is unsolved.

Are there missing pieces, without which exact degrees of malfeasance can’t be determined? Yes. And some of them will probably be missing forever.

But they’re not necessary, not to appraise him morally as opposed to criminally.

News Flash (April 1)

Published / by Stephen

Share This:

Trump’s Remorse (on April 1)

From the Rose Garden:

Then, nearly breaking down, Mr. Trump expressed remorse “for sowing hate and division” in America.” He said “I have put a cloud over this presidency and disgraced this great country, for which I will feel ashamed for the rest of my life.” He then announced he was resigning the presidency effective immediately. “I hope my decision begins a process of healing,” he said, brushing away tears. “I hope April 1, 2019 will be remembered as the day I came clean.”

 

The Real Donald Trump

Published / by Stephen

Share This:

We may never know for sure if Trump may have colluded with Vladimir Putin or obstructed justice. But we know a lot. Robert Reich tells a compelling story, The Real Scandal of Donald Trump. Here is my summary (some direct quotes and some paraphrased):

“An American president is not just the chief executive of the United States, and the office he (eventually she) holds is not just a bully pulpit to advance policy ideas. He is also a moral leader, and the office is a moral pulpit invested with meaning about the common good.”

As George Washington’s biographer, Douglas Southall Freeman, explained, the first president believed he had been entrusted with something of immense intrinsic worth, and that his duty was to uphold it for its own sake and over the long term. He led by moral example.

Few of our subsequent presidents have come close to the example Washington set, but none to date has been as far from that standard as Trump.

A president’s most fundamental responsibility is to protect our system of government. Trump has weakened that system

  • His income tax comment (when accused of failing to pay his income taxes, Trump responded “that makes me smart.” ) conveyed a message to millions of Americans: that paying taxes in full is not an obligation of citizenship.
  • His comments about buying politicians conveyed a message that it’s perfectly OK for business leaders to pay off politicians, regardless of the effect on our democracy.
  • He undermined the common good by reducing the public trust in the office of the president (refusing to reveal his tax returns or to put his businesses into a blind trust and by his overt willingness to make money off his presidency by having foreign diplomats stay at his Washington hotel, and promoting his various golf clubs)
  • He attacked the impartiality of America’s legal system and insulted a member of the judiciary  when he said a particular federal judge shouldn’t be hearing a case against him because the judge’s parents were Mexican,
  • He threatened the freedom and integrity of the press when he threatened to “loosen” federal libel laws so he could sue news organizations that were critical of him and, later, to revoke the licenses of networks critical of him,
  • He undermining equal rights and condoned white supremacists when He equated neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members with counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia
  • By pardoning Joe Arpaio, he signaled that it is OK for the police to to engage in civil rights violations and In the act he also subverted the rule of law by impairing the judiciary’s power to force public officials to abide by court decisions.
  • He disrespected kneeling NFL players and indirectly, everyone’s freedom of speech.

The essence of The Real Donald Trump is that he has sacrificed the processes and institutions of American democracy

 

 

Trump’s – I’m Clean Ethos

Published / by Stephen

Share This:

Political Cartoon – SF Chronicle, March 28