Trump turns literature into reality. Even though he doesn’t read.
Thanks, Ian Bremmer
Trump turns literature into reality. Even though he doesn’t read.
Thanks, Ian Bremmer
Sockit to em! Sockit to em!
Al Drago for the NY TIMES
❝ So, it seems that Republicans are responding to the devastating defeat in Alabama – which is part of a sustained pattern of underperformance in special elections, demonstrating that bad polls reflect reality, not bad polling, by … doubling down on a massively unpopular tax plan, whose main focus is on cutting corporate taxes.
In fact, they’re rushing to jam the thing through before Doug Jones can be certified, in a stunning act of hypocrisy from the same people who demanded that Obamacare wait until Scott Brown was seated and held up a Supreme Court seat for a year. It’s outrageous. But it also looks like really bad politics, especially given what we know is coming: calls next year for cuts in popular social programs, because of a deficit Republicans just voted to explode. So what are they thinking?
❝ I don’t know for sure, but I’d suggest three possible factors in this mad rush.
❝ First…Today’s Republicans are apparatchiks, who have spent their whole lives inside an intellectual bubble in which cutting taxes on corporations and the rich is always objective #1…that the whole game was to win by playing on social issues, national security, and above all on racial antagonism, then use the win to push fundamentally unpopular economic policies…
❝ Second…The idea is that voters are impressed by your record of wins, or conversely that they’ll turn away if you don’t win enough.
Trumpublicans repeat that stupidity all day long.
❝ Third – “I guess I’ll be looking for a lobbying job/ think tank position/commentator role on Fox News in 2019” – in which case your mission in what remains of your Congressional career is to keep donors and the party machine happy, never mind the voters.
Which is what public service in a 2-party system made up mostly of corporate pimps ends up offering to voters.
Role model for Trump & Cruz
❝ The war on drugs: Is it a genuine public health crusade or an attempt to carry out what author Michelle Alexander characterizes as “the New Jim Crow”?
A new report by Dan Baum [paywall] for Harper’s Magazine suggests the latter. Specifically, Baum refers to a quote from John Ehrlichman, who served as domestic policy chief for President Richard Nixon when the administration declared its war on drugs in 1971. According to Baum, Ehrlichman said in 1994 that the drug war was a ploy to undermine Nixon’s political opposition — meaning, black people and critics of the Vietnam War:
At the time, I was writing a book about the politics of drug prohibition. I started to ask Ehrlichman a series of earnest, wonky questions that he impatiently waved away. “You want to know what this was really all about?” he asked with the bluntness of a man who, after public disgrace and a stretch in federal prison, had little left to protect. “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did…”
❝ …The claim of racial prejudice is not implausible. Although black Americans aren’t more likely to use or sell drugs, they’re much more likely to be arrested for them. And when black people are convicted of drug charges, they generally face longer prison sentences for the same crimes, according to a 2012 report from the US Sentencing Commission.
Ehrlichman claimed this was a goal of the drug war, not an unintended consequence. And Baum cites this as one of many reasons to end the drug war once and for all…
❝ So maybe the drug war reduces drug use. But it also enables and reinforces the justice system’s biases against minority Americans. And it perpetuates a black market for drugs that fuels violence in the US and around the world, particularly in Mexico.
But there are options to draw down the war on drugs without legalization. The US could decriminalize — remove jail time and other criminal penalties for personal possession but not sales — and emphasize prevention and treatment, as Portugal has done. It could allow supervised injection sites for heroin users to provide a safe place to use the drug, as Canada, Switzerland, and several others have done. It could allow for the medical use of some drugs, such as psychedelics, as some researchers have pushed for. These are steps countries and states could take without legalizing drugs…
None of these policies would wholly eliminate drug abuse, drug deaths, or drug-related violence and crime. But drug policy is often about picking the best out of the available bad options, rather than picking the perfect solution.
Reasonably candyass reporting. Still, a solid source acknowledging the criminality of one more of Richard Nixon’s policies. Mated to his “Southern Strategy” and you can see how the Republican Party turned from being the Party of Lincoln to the leading source of legitimizing racism in America.
I hear VW can fix their cars for about $1,000 apiece. How much will it cost to fix our planet?
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington requested the Internal Revenue Service open an examination into the finances of the National Rifle Association after the group failed to disclose more than $33.5 million it spent on political activity over six years. CREW also called on the Federal Election Commission to audit the NRA’s campaign arm, the NRA Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF), and its lobbying arm, the NRA Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA), after the group apparently violated federal election law by soliciting donations for the NRA-ILA that went instead to the NRA-PVF.
Between 2008 and 2013, the NRA-ILA, an internal division of the NRA, reported to the FEC and in annual financial statements that it spent more than $33.5 million on political activity. However, for each of those years, the NRA stated on its Form 990 tax return that it did not engage in any political activity at all, and the group did not once file a Schedule C disclosing its political expenditures. This failure to disclose political activity appears to violate federal law and, if it was intentional, could violate several criminal statutes. The NRA blamed the failure to disclose its political activity on a “clerical error” but did not express any intention to amend its Form 990 returns or file Schedule Cs…
The NRA-ILA reported to the FEC nearly $11 million in independent expenditures and member communications expressly advocating election or defeat of candidates for federal office between 2008 and 2013, and disclosed on annual financial statements prepared by an independent auditor spending more than $22.5 million on fundraising and administrative expenses for its political action committee, NRA-PVF, during the same period. All of these expenditures were for political activities that needed to be reported on the organization’s tax filings but were not.
CREW also called on the FEC to audit the NRA-PVF and NRA-ILA because it appears these groups may have solicited donations in violation of federal election law by failing to disclose to donors that their money would be used for political purposes. The NRA also appears to have violated federal election law by soliciting donations from the general public, which it is prohibited from doing as a member organization, and by failing to disclose the employer and/or occupation of its contributors.
It’s always heartwarming to witness rightwing nutball organizations like the NRA ignoring essential transparency requirements while they blather about conspiracies against their pet demento issues. Perish the thought they actually live up to anything approaching ethical standards -0 like any normal business entity.
They set the standard for corruption even higher than Congressional Republicans.
Pope Francis condemned trickle-down economics and the world of inequality and exclusion it fosters in the first apostolic exhortation of his papacy:
“Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed.”
Many of the pontiff’s criticisms of trickle-down economics are true of the American experience. The policies that began with Ronald Reagan have not benefited middle and working class Americans, while deregulation spawned a reckless financial system that nearly destroyed the financial industry in a historic recession — a recession in which the most affluent have rebounded from far more easily than other Americans. Three decades of high-income tax cuts have proven equally ineffective. The Bush tax cuts aided the wealthy but did not reach the middle and lower classes as promised, resulting instead in “the worst wage and salary growth and total compensation growth of any postwar economic expansion.” In short, the wealth never trickled down…
On Election Day, The Boston Globe reported, Logan International Airport in Boston was running short of parking spaces. Not for cars — for private jets. Big donors were flooding into the city to attend Mitt Romney’s victory party.
They were, it turned out, misinformed about political reality. But the disappointed plutocrats weren’t wrong about who was on their side. This was very much an election pitting the interests of the very rich against those of the middle class and the poor.
And the Obama campaign won largely by disregarding the warnings of squeamish “centrists” and embracing that reality, stressing the class-war aspect of the confrontation. This ensured not only that President Obama won by huge margins among lower-income voters, but that those voters turned out in large numbers, sealing his victory.
The important thing to understand now is that while the election is over, the class war isn’t. The same people who bet big on Mr. Romney, and lost, are now trying to win by stealth — in the name of fiscal responsibility — the ground they failed to gain in an open election…
…Democrats seem to have neutralized the traditional G.O.P. advantage on social issues, so that the election really was a referendum on economic policy. And what voters said, clearly, was no to tax cuts for the rich, no to benefit cuts for the middle class and the poor. So what’s a top-down class warrior to do?
The answer, as I have already suggested, is to rely on stealth — to smuggle in plutocrat-friendly policies under the pretense that they’re just sensible responses to the budget deficit.
Consider, as a prime example, the push to raise the retirement age, the age of eligibility for Medicare, or both. This is only reasonable, we’re told — after all, life expectancy has risen, so shouldn’t we all retire later? In reality, however, it would be a hugely regressive policy change, imposing severe burdens on lower- and middle-income Americans while barely affecting the wealthy. Why? First of all, the increase in life expectancy is concentrated among the affluent; why should janitors have to retire later because lawyers are living longer? Second, both Social Security and Medicare are much more important, relative to income, to less-affluent Americans, so delaying their availability would be a far more severe hit to ordinary families than to the top 1 percent.
The point is that the class war is still on, this time with an added dose of deception…So keep your eyes open as the fiscal game of chicken continues. It’s an uncomfortable but real truth that we are not all in this together; America’s top-down class warriors lost big in the election, but now they’re trying to use the pretense of concern about the deficit to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Let’s not let them pull it off.
Paul Krugman’s role as class-conscious economist truly offends the 1%. It drives their flunkeys even crazier. Intelligentsia dedicated to turning blanket apologies for class greed into quasi-legitimate think tank agitprop – especially resent Krugman’s clarity and willingness to tell the truth about political economics.
They must fear their begging bowls will receive naught but porridge instead of prawn sandwiches.