Someone Tell Republicans it is 2017, Not 1981 — and Trump Ain’t Reagan

❝ It’s not 1981 anymore. That’s the message of an editorial in the conservative Weekly Standard, which warns Republicans not to design a tax reform patterned on the one that Ronald Reagan signed in his first year as president.

Mimicking the Reagan tax cuts is a temptation both because of Republicans’ enduring admiration for the 40th president and because his program has been the source of the economic ideas they have championed ever since his time in office.

❝ But the Standard is right that times have changed. That doesn’t mean the Gipper’s basic disposition toward lower and less onerous taxes needs to be junked. It means that today’s Republicans (and Democrats!) need to grapple with four differences between our time and his.

❝ First: The federal debt is much larger now…

❝ Second: The top individual income tax rate is a lot lower than it was in 1981…

❝ Third: The payroll tax for Social Security and Medicare has grown in importance while the income tax has shrunk…

❝ Fourth: The corporate tax rate has become a bigger problem. It has fallen since 1981…But other countries have cut their rates further.

I have my doubt if few – if any – Republicans have the economic smarts to move beyond ideology their electoral base thinks is heavenly writ. Establishment Democrats retain their backbone [or absence of same] problem.

Senate Committee Votes Against Republican Anti-Abortion Gag Rule

❝ In a vote that marks a rejection of the Trump administration’s foreign aid budget and approach to family planning policy abroad, the Senate Appropriations Committee moved Thursday to reinstate funding for the United Nations Population Fund and overturn the global gag rule, a longstanding Republican policy that forbids U.S. support for international health organizations that offer or discuss abortion services.

❝ The Mexico City Policy, the formal name of the global gag rule, was put into effect during the Reagan administration, has existed under every Republican administration since. Under President Donald Trump, it is more sweeping, denying funding for family planning, nutrition, child health, and certain illnesses to aid organizations that refuse to comply.

Previous Republican administrations only denied organizations family planning funds.

❝ Separately, in April, the State Department announced plans to end support for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), to which the United States is the second largest donor. The State Department cited allegations that the family planning arm of the U.N. participated in forced sterilization in China, something the international body called “erroneous.”

A polite way to acknowledge lies from the US government.

❝ Both of these policy moves came under fire as the appropriations committee was deliberating the Foreign Operations Funding Bill. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) proposed an amendment that would overturn the president’s version of the Mexico City Policy, and limit any future president’s power to reinstate it, while also restoring U.S. contributions to UNFPA. The amendment narrowly passed 16-15 with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) voting against it, while Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Ark.) voted for it.

Collins and Murkowski have both vocally opposed Trump’s decision to reinstate the Mexico City Policy since the president signed the executive order shortly after entering office.

Nice to see – and not entirely unexpected from Republican women – conservatives get up on their hind legs and separate themselves from 19th Century ideology.

Also not surprising to witness Manchin embracing one more backwards policy.

Texas Hucksters Hired for Trumpkin-Style Ad Campaign for Rightwing German Party


Trump loves parades – with or without torches

❝ Angela Merkel as a terrorist — that’s the motif that the Alternative for Germany party has chosen to launch the internet portion of its campaign leading up to national parliamentary elections on Sept. 24. The right-wing populists plan to spend a large part of their 3-million-euro budget on similar publicity offenses. The party is planning a digital campaign that may well be more drastic and aggressive than anything German voters have ever seen…

❝ To assist in its efforts, the party has…engaged the services of advertising professionals in the United States with experience on the right-wing spectrum. The party is working together with the Texas-based agency Harris Media, which recently presented its plans to the AfD’s national committee. With its provocative and aggressive campaigns, the agency has already contributed to the success of a number of controversial politicians. In Britain, it worked with the anti-EU UKIP party; in Israel, it worked with the governing Likud party; and in the United States, news agency Bloomberg has dubbed company founder Vincent Harris “the man who invented the Republican internet.”…

❝ Harris, a Christian conservative, married and still under 30, recently made a personal visit to AfD headquarters in Berlin to monitor progress on the German project, party officials report. Harris founded his agency in 2008 in his college dorm room. A short time later, he led the online arm of the campaign for Ted Cruz, at the time a relatively unknown Republican from Texas who hoped to ride Tea Party backing to a seat in the Senate.

With Harris’ help, Cruz saw the number of his internet supporters skyrocket, he established contact with influential bloggers and ultimately won the election. The Republicans have become regular customers of Harris’ ever since…

❝ To place advertisements on Google or Facebook, AfD now no longer has to go through the German subsidiaries of the internet giants. Here in Germany, the party has recently been facing a lot of resistance from those offices when it tries to buy ads. Now the team at Harris Media just places quick calls to the companies’ headquarters in Silicon Valley, sources say, where the agency is very well networked as a result of its many successful political campaigns for the Republicans. AfD’s orders are then simply put through to Germany from the United States.

Make America Great at everything the Germans used to do so well, eh? Germany for Germans is a slogan the AfD has felt reminded too many of Hitler’s rise to power. Harris appears to be working as hard as possible to change that “carefulness”. After all, Trump doesn’t worry about such comparisons.

Our Fake President and China’s Codependency Trap

❝ Seemingly at odds with the world, US President Donald Trump has once again raised the possibility of a trade conflict with China. On August 14, he instructed the US Trade Representative to commence investigating Chinese infringement of intellectual property rights. By framing this effort under Section 301 of the US Trade Act of 1974, the Trump administration could impose high and widespread tariffs on Chinese imports.

This is hardly an inconsequential development. While there may well be merit to the allegations…punitive action would have serious consequences for US businesses and consumers. Like it or not, that is an inevitable result of the deeply entrenched codependent relationship between the world’s two largest economies.

❝ In a codependent human relationship, when one party alters the terms of engagement, the other feels scorned and invariably responds in kind. The same can be expected of economies and their leaders. That means in a trade conflict, it is important to think about reciprocity – specifically, China’s response to an American action. In fact, that was precisely the point made by China’s Ministry of Commerce in its official response to Trump’s gambit. China, the ministry vowed, would “take all appropriate measures to resolutely safeguard its legitimate rights.”

❝ …Three economic consequences stand out.

First, imposing tariffs on imports of Chinese goods and services would be the functional equivalent of a tax hike on American consumers…

Second, trade actions against China could lead to higher US interest rates…

Third, with growth in US domestic demand still depressed, American companies need to rely more on external demand. Yet the Trump administration seems all but oblivious to this component of the growth calculus…

Stephen Roach is the United States’ leading economic expert on China Trade – IMHO. His decades of experience in place on behalf of Morgan Stanley, his research and analysis over time are with few peers. His knowledge of the topic towers over the twerp who is our fake president and most of his second or third tier pimps-as-advisors.

RTFA for the details of this outline.

The Democratic Party is willing to copout on reproductive rights


Click to enlargeAP Photo/Elaine Thompson

❝ Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) said Monday that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will not withhold funding from candidates who are anti-abortion rights, a move that is drawing the ire of reproductive justice and abortion activists.

“There is not a litmus test for Democratic candidates,” Luján, the DCCC chairman, said in an interview with The Hill. “As we look at candidates across the country, you need to make sure you have candidates that fit the district, that can win in these districts across America.”

Other high-profile Democrats have taken similar stances on abortion. In April, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) campaigned for an anti-choice mayoral candidate in Nebraska and Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez met with anti-abortion Democrats in May.

The operative words defining the process are opportunism and sophistry. Neither of which nudges me towards loyalty to the Democratic Party or their candidates.

❝ Candice Russell, a WeTestify abortion storytelling fellow with the National Network of Abortion Funds, said she felt betrayed by Luján’s comments Monday — especially because she said she distinctly remembers the party sending fundraising emails after the Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt Supreme Court decision striking down abortion restrictions in Texas.

You don’t get to ask me for money and turn around and spit in my face,” Russell said. “To think that abortion access isn’t inextricably tied to every single thing the Democratic Party says it stands for is foolish.”…

❝ As the the party tries to regain populist ground lost to President Donald Trump, leaders like Luján, Sanders, and Perez have framed abortion and other social issues as separate from economic issues.

“The only way you can say that economic issues are separate from social issues is if you’re presuming the only people affected by economic issues are straight, white, able-bodied men,” Erin Matson, a reproductive rights activist in Virginia, said in an interview with ThinkProgress. “Give me a break.”

I second that emotion. I have to chuckle. Wryly. When Ben Ray Lujan first primaried for the seat he holds I voted for another candidate. I presumed that since he was an heirloom candidate, running for a seat previously held by his family, he couldn’t be trusted further than any other machine candidate.

I later apologized in a letter to him – for, at first, he took positions supporting progressive policies challenging the status quo in that party. Then, he moved on up the ladder to a station of “responsible leadership” – which apparently means progressive policies are the first to be jettisoned when Democrats are confronted by rightwing populist activism.

Ben Ray is safe, of course. It’s likely anyone could get elected here in northern New Mexico – named Lujan. The family has a history of coming down on the side of workingclass families on just about all economic issues. But, the day is past when that is sufficient, when we are challenged at the national level all the way down to local ballots by populist lies and ideology.

Selling out to convenience and opportunism ain’t the way folks win.

cc: Ben Ray Lujan

McCain got the applause — Murkowski and Collins did more to defeat Trumpcare!


Senators Collins and Murkowski with some clown

Early Friday morning, Sen. John McCain showed up to work with cancer and cast the final, and most dramatic vote, to block his party’s effort to repeal Obamacare. He received a round of applause from Democrats, cheers from protesters outside the capitol, and reportedly said of his vote, “I thought it was the right thing to do.”

But two other Republicans were at least equally — and perhaps more — instrumental in killing the latest, and maybe final version of the Republican plan to repeal Obamacare: Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins.

And they displayed their concern for working class voters long before McCain’s concern for details.

Collins, the moderate four-term Republican from Maine, was one of the first senators to come out against the earliest Senate version of a repeal-and-replace bill. She hasn’t wavered since. Collins was one of two Republican senators to vote “no” on the motion to move Trumpcare in its multiple and sometimes yet-to-be specified incarnations to the Senate floor for debate…

Collins — along with all other Republican women — were excluded from the working group that designed the initial version of the Senate bill…

The second Republican to oppose the final “skinny repeal” measure was Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, who along with Collins was the only other Republican to oppose the motion to proceed and was also threatened by a male colleague from the other chamber in the days leading up to the vote…

Ultimately, McCain swooped in to save the day in dramatic fashion. He deserves the praise he is getting for it. But it was Murkowski and Collins more than anybody that ensured the defeat of Trumpcare, and maybe the survival of Obamacare.

McCain hasn’t spent a day of his life without socialized medicine providing his care. From birth to a military father, he has been covered.

In Ohio, a struggle for the [white] soul of the Democratic Party is playing out

❝ On a sweltering evening in a rural corner of Ohio, the struggle for the soul and identity of the Democratic Party is playing out over wine, meatballs and recriminations about Hillary Clinton’s defeat in last year’s presidential election.

Joe Schiavoni, the former top Democrat in the Ohio state senate, is talking to a crowd at a fundraising event for his fledgling bid to become their next governor. He believes leaders of his party in Washington have lost touch with voters. It’s a familiar refrain among Democrats in a state that helped catapult Republican Donald Trump into the White House in November…

In Ohio, as in other politically competitive “swing” states that Democrats won in 2012 but lost in 2016, Democrats are struggling to come up with a clear message and identity to win back the voters they lost.

❝ Listening to voters is the key to moving forward, some three dozen Democratic Party members across Ohio said in interviews. But there was little consensus on how to win over those voters.

Many of those interviewed said the party’s national leaders have not learned the lessons of last year’s defeat, when many voters rejected the party as too elitist and out of touch with working Americans.

This Reuters article apparently reflects the views of the official Democrat Party – as far as I can see. There is NO mention whatsoever of Black people or Hispanics. Either the party presumes automatic votes or hasn’t looked at anything other than the white chunk of Ohio’s working class.

❝ Angered by last year’s defeats up and down the ballot in Ohio, a group of political consultants circulated a memo to every member of the state party’s executive committee in December.

The memo, which has not been previously reported, lambastes the party leadership for the “electoral carnage” of 2016.

This memo at least acknowledges the inherent racism of ignoring questions affecting Black workers and the Black community in Ohio. It makes no mention of Hispanic workers or community.

11% of Ohio registered voters are Black. Almost 2% are Latino. That’s a lot of folks to take for granted.

The Protocols of Trump


beastrabban.com

❝ It is an odd quirk in the history of logic that the blameless Cretans should have given their name to the famous “liar paradox.” The Cretan Epimenides is supposed to have said: “All Cretans are liars.” If Epimenides was lying, he was telling the truth – and thus was lying.

❝ Something similar can be said of US President Donald Trump: Even when he’s telling the truth, many assume he is lying – and thus being true to himself. His trolling is notorious. For years, he claimed, with no evidence other than unnamed sources that he called “extremely credible,” that Barack Obama’s birth certificate was fraudulent. During the Republican primary, he linked his opponent Senator Ted Cruz’s father to John F. Kennedy’s assassination. He has promoted the quack idea that vaccines cause autism, and has masterfully deployed the suggestio falsi – for example, his insinuation that climate change is a Chinese hoax designed to cripple the American economy.

❝ There has always been a thriving market for fake information, forgeries, hoaxes, and conspiracy theories. “History is a distillation of rumor,” wrote Thomas Carlyle in the nineteenth century…Modern history provides us with some famous examples. The Zinoviev letter, a forgery implicating Britain’s Labour Party in Kremlin-led Communist sedition, was published by the Daily Mail four days before the United Kingdom’s general election in 1924, dashing Labour’s chances.

Perhaps the most famous such forgery was The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Possibly manufactured for money, The Protocols purported to be evidence of a Jewish plan for world domination…it became the foundation of the anti-Semitic literature of the first half of the twentieth century, with horrendous consequences.

❝ So what is new? The attention being paid to fake information today arises from the hugely expanded speed with which digitally manufactured information travels around the world. In the past, one had to be able to hoodwink more or less reputable news outlets to plant fake stories. Now misinformation can go viral through social media, like a modern Black Death.

The important question is how this will affect democracy. Will the unprecedented ease of access to information liberate people from thought control, or will it strengthen it to such an extent that democracy simply drowns in a sea of manipulation?

Skidelky has no conclusive answer, RTFA for his analysis – and warning.