Thursday, April 6, 2017

What Trump has signed

Since Trump became president he has signed many executive orders as well as a handful of bills passed by the Republican Congress. In spite of all the talk about populism, not one of these orders or bills actually benefits any large class of the American public except the wealthy corporate interests. Some of these items include:


1. Suppressing details on workers' rights violations

2. Appointing of a "regulations reform" officer

3. Removing regulations protecting streams from pollution due to mining

4. Relaxing disclosure requirements in extraction industry reports

5. Easing "fiduciary duty" regulations (Consumer Financial Protection Agency)

6. Studying punishing "sanctuary cities" by withholding federal funds

7. Resuming construction of Keystone and other pipelines

8. Raising threshholds for compensation in corporate malpractice suits

9. Facilitating the hiding of workplace injuries

10. Overturning Internet privacy order (FCC)

11. Liberalizing leasing guidelines for coal extraction



You can find the entire list of executive orders and bills that Trump has signed (as of today) HERE, compiled by vice.com.



The Republicans have also introduced a bill to -- of course -- eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency (established by Congress and Richard Nixon). Meanwhile, Trump has ordered the EPA to revise the Clean Water Act and to relax regulations protecting children (and others) from the harmful effects of lead. 


Which of Trumps non-wealthy constituencies are these measures designed to help? Answer: none.




Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Brutality and Hypocrisy of Republicans

The Republicans, for the past half century, have been preaching the doctrine of small government, low federal taxes, personal responsibility and states' rights. They have also thrown in large dollops of  religiosity -- pretty much exclusively of the Christian persuasion. It is instructive to see how this has played out in the months since they have controlled the Presidency, both houses of Congress, and (nearly) the Supreme Court (currently at 4 - 4 since Scalia's death).

Small government has been a myth. By small government they pretend to mean small but effective programs to help actual people in their daily lives; what they actually mean is cutting all programs that actually help people in their daily lives. What they don't mean is  cutting the size of government programs which subsidize large corporations (esp. the fossil fuel industry) and the military. This is clearer than ever in Trump's "budget" which sees cuts in almost every federal program to "promote the general welfare" (as the preamble to our Constitution, quaintly puts it), and increases in nearly every military program. The latter increases (proposed by Republicans for decades now) include many programs that the Pentagon has not asked for and has, often, opposedas unneeded and wasteful. In effect these are the military programs which benefit military contractors and the political fortunes of politicians in the states in which they do business. The money is not primarily for the benefit or safety of our troops or our general "defense posture", since a lot of it wasn't even requested by the actual military for these purposes. For example, the navy will get new aircraft carriers to help in its fight against ISIS and Al-Qaeda, the big naval powers (not).

So, from an economic standpoint, the cuts to social programs seem to be more than balanced by increases to the military (contractors). However, the balance in taxes will be radically changed. The wealthy will be asked to pay far less (in terms of their income) and the less wealthy will pay the same or slightly less, but lose services on both the federal and state levels. Interestingly, this is exactly the opposite of the dynamic in most European states, where everyone pays fairly high taxes -- so the taxes are fundamentally regressive -- but the extensive services tend to be aimed at the lower income people which thus re-balances the economic issues: the non-rich may pay the same percentage taxes, but they receive more services that they need. See my discussion of Consumption Taxes, in particular, the case of Denmark and its Value Added Tax (VAT).

So the issue of smaller (federal) government is, for the Republicans, simply transferring wealth from the middle and lower middle class (in the form of programs and taxes) to the wealthy (big tax cuts). This is the usual reverse Robin Hood gambit that Republicans love.

The "moral" issue of personal responsibility is another double standard for the Republicans. Individuals who work several jobs to support their families are the victims of Republican "claw backs": removal of job safety protections, daycare and maternity/paternity supplements, equal pay laws and cuts in funds for schools, playgrounds and parks. Meanwhile, wealthy corporations and individuals are rewarded with laxer environmental laws, looser regulations on business cheating, elimination of rent controls and anti-usury laws (on credit cards that they issue). Republicans don't like anti-discrimination laws of any kind either, whether based on ethnicity, language, sexual orientation (even of young children), age, or religion (unless it's Christianity). They hate the Americans with Disabilities Act. Why? It's too much trouble and expense and it's too "bleeding heart" and "politically correct". The unfortunate fact is that Republicans are incapable of feeling sympathy for anyone other than their immediate family and (select) neighbors: they are basically selfish and unimaginative. Republicans are (mostly) avowed Christians, yet the entire New Testament is antithetical to their idea of how to treat their fellow humans. (This is not lost on most Christian clerics, but their criticisms are simply ignored by the Republican establishment, which is only interested in red meat for anti-abortionists who vote Republican. The latter, in the words of Barney Frank, seem to think that "life begins at conception and ends at birth.")

The Republican hypocrisy on the size of the federal government and states' rights is especially outrageous. They want, in the words of Grover Norquist, to reduce the federal government to a size where it can be "drowned in a bathtub". When asked about the services that the national government (run by our elected representatives) provides, they quickly start talking about the states and states' rights. This is intended to imply that the federal services would be provided more effectively and fairly by the states. However, the  Republicans who run for state offices -- Governors, say -- also run on reducing the size of the (state) government. When elected they proceed to cut state services as well, often with absolutely disastrous effect (see this Chicago Tribune article on what the "conservatives" have done to Kansas). Since the services that government, on any level, provides are not generally the services -- except police and fire -- that the wealthy or their corporations use,  this small-government policy is dishonest and a very real form of class warfare. 

In short, it's nearly impossible to find an example of any Republican, at any level of government, who is trying to help anyone but the rich and powerful. That's their nature and philosophy as people and that's the nature of the Republican party. Maybe because they have become so arrogant and so blatantly vicious with the election of Donald Trump, their true nature will now become clearer to the American People. The recent revolt against the Republican Trump/Ryan "American Health Care Act" is an indication that this realization seems to be happening. As Trump's anti-people budget plans become more widely publicized most people will finally see how mean and small the Republicans truly are and how ignorant and incompetent their big, blustering, bully of a president actually is.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Fighting Trump by fighting the RMP

Sunday, February 19, 2017

More on RMP = Rich Man's Party

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Charles Blow at the Times

I sent the following letter to Charles Blow, columnist at the N. Y. Times.

Dear Mr. Blow,

Thank you for your relentless and right-on voice against Trump and his enabling Republicans. Here are some further comments.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Quote of the week

After losing the Appeals Court decision 3 - 0, Trump said (Tweeted): "See you in court, the security of our nation is at stake."

Washington state had challenged Trump's executive order; its  Gov. Jay Inslee replied to Trump: "We already saw you in court, you lost."

If we really had an activist national Democratic party, they would be playing this up in national ads, especially the "you lost" part. They are still sitting on their hands though. Probably waiting for the Supreme Court to weigh in, when things have moved on, at which point they will, as before, do nothing. It's a good thing we citizens don't depend on the national Dems for very much: all they do is ask for contributions, which they'll save until... uh... until...


Sunday, February 5, 2017

There is no opposition party.

Several weeks ago there was one of the largest protest marches ever in (a) Washington, (b) Los Angeles, (c) Boston,  (d) San Francisco, and ... dozens of other cities who never had marches this large. Since that time, cities, universities churches etc. have joined in opposing Trump's illegal immigration orders by declaring themselves immigrant-friendly "sanctuaries", ready to resist these executive orders by all legal means. The entertainment industry and the software industry have publicly excoriated Trump and his minions. Everywhere pledges of resistance have sprung up.

Well, everywhere except in the national Democratic Party. We've seen and heard nothing from them official except promises to stop Trump's cabinet picks -- empty promises so far. We all know -- in spite of hoping-against-hope -- that the national Democrats (I'll call them Dems for short) will eventually cave, as they always manage to do. They'll tell us they're united against Trump -- except for a "threatened" Dem here and there (Heidi Heitkamp in N.D., Joe Manchin W.V): just enough to break their resistance. They're afraid that if they use the filibuster on Gorsuch that it will simply make the Republicans angry enough to eliminate it. So they won't use it since it will just prevent them from using it. Wow: those are fighting words.

OK, maybe they're really up against it. What they might do is, for example, help the rest of us who are marching and setting up Sanctuaries. But no: they're simply asking us to send them more money for their "future" campaigns. I hear from the DSCC nearly everyday -- sometimes twice a day. We've been doing the work, being militant, supporting the ACLU and Planned Parenthood etc, and they want us to send them more money. 

Are the Dems creating and using national TV ads attacking and ridiculing Trump and Bannon and Gorsuch the way the Republicans and the Tea Party have been attacking us for decades ("leftists", "commies", "big government",  "crooked Hillary")? They should use the money we send them for something. Where is the propaganda machine that we need now, to prepare for the elections less than 2 years away. Are they vetting new candidates? Are they framing the issues: Trump's a con man, Bannon's a neo-Nazi, Trump's draining the swamps and using the sediment he digs up to stock his cabinet? We know that the Dems are old and serious and uncreative, but couldn't they at least hire some younger, witty and creative people from Saturday Night Live? What do they do with our money? The only exciting candidate they have produced, Bernie Sanders, should be on paid political spots right now. But no. The Dems are going to wait until just before the next elections so that they can be sucker punched in state assemblies which do the redistricting, and in the gerrymandered congressional districts. The Democratic base has energized itself with a lot of local work and activity since Trump took office, but the national Democrats have not done anything except send an occasional speaker to our rallies and ask for more money to stiffen their (meh) resistance.

We need the equivalent of a Tea Party, maybe, to prod lazy Dems in primaries. Heitkamp and Manchin don't do us any good except to sap our energy: they lose by not fighting and yet we are told we have to protect them. Look, if it walks like a Blue Dog and talks like a Blue Dog, then it is a Blue Dog (Democrat). It's better to fight and lose than not fight and still lose.

We have a chance at doing some real damage to the Republicans next election -- 2018. For a change we have the press somewhat on our side (after it's been insulted by the Trumpists every day), we have outrage and anger and energy on our side. The courts have been doing yeoman duty recently. Maybe need some help organizing and bringing forth determined leaders. Above all , we need a propaganda machine to frame and ridicule the Trumpists and the whole unprincipled Republican Party. We just won the popular vote by a large margin in a national election, and lost the key electoral states by a narrow margin. If we are unified and continue our anger and outrage, and don't have Clintons to drag us down, we can play lots of powerful cards and maybe hobble the Trumpists by some meaningful victories in (less than) 2 years.

Oh, and one more thing. Let's stop calling the Republicans the "GOP"; there's nothing "Grand" about that party anymore. Let's rebrand them: They are the Party for The Rich (PTR) or maybe the  RMP (Rich Man's Party: looks like Trump and rump). 

Listen up, national Dems: We want some value for the money we send you. We don't want a "close loss": we want a victory.