I Don’t Hate Trump

Everybody on one side says everybody on the other side hates Donald Trump.

No, I don’t hate him.

trump_flicker_face_yess-bwTo be most charitable, I don’t care about him enough to hate him. If he were someone I encountered in life – at a bar, at a ball game, doing business, attending a gala, playing golf – I would quickly decide that he’s not someone I want to be associated with. Because he’s crude. Because he’s selfish. Because he’s conceited. Because he’s overbearing. Because he’s loud. Because he’s crass. Because he’s ignorant.

I know other people who are crude or selfish or conceited or overbearing or loud or crass or ignorant. I’ve responded to them by finding someone else to associate with and by finding reasons to not hang around with them. I’ve responded by ignoring them.

No, I don’t hate Trump. But I do hate – wait, let me think… yes, I do hate what he has been doing. Continue reading

The Death of the Death of Obamacare

The PPACA – Obamacare – has survived. In the past, the attacks have been skirmishes, often fought in darkness, intent on inflicting wounds to cripple the program – filing lawsuits, withholding funds, promoting language, lying. Now this latest assault – this failed assault – this Trumpcare – a frontal attack by the combined forces of the anti-Obama legions and their very best strategists, commanders and troops.

Yet the PPACA remains standing, while the attack force skulks back to their bunkers, dazed, confused, and more than a little disheartened. Continue reading

When A Liar Admits He Lied…

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A fair and important question:

When a liar admits he lied, should you believe him?

Yes, this post is triggered by yesterday’s revelation by Donald J. Trump, Jr. He released “the entire email chain of my emails” that relate to a meeting between a Russian attorney and key members of the Trump campaign team.

The pundits and press and politicians are aghast … of course.

But here’s the question I want an answer to: was Trump Jr. lying when he denied having a meeting or is he lying now when he claims he did have a meeting?

Consider this:

  • Trump, Sr., has tried to discredit the press (and other truth-tellers), using terms like “fake news”, “failing”, “dishonest” and “enemy of the people”.
  • The press has revealed one discovery after another of interactions between the Trump campaign team members and various Russians.
  • Trump, Sr., Fox News, many Republican officials, and Trump’s supporters dismiss the Trump-Russia allegations as “fake news”, “obsessions”, and “a nothing-burger”.

If you were Trump, Sr., how would you discredit all of your critics? How would you prove that the press is lying? Here’s what I would do: Continue reading

Declaration of Independence Day – A Weekly Remembrance

It’s the 5th of July. It’s Wednesday. It’s a good day to read the Declaration of Independence.

declarationdraftIt’s a good day to celebrate those heroes who gathered in Philadelphia to battle, not with guns and swords and weapons of war, but with beliefs and words and thoughts and arguments.

It’s a good day to ponder the courage of these heroes, who put their lives in jeopardy by daring to sign their names to a treasonous document at risk of being hanged.

It’s a good day to wonder how courageous WE would be under such circumstances.

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TWOFER: Tax and Health Care Cuts

Trump has two top legislative priorities: “Tax Reform” and “Repeal the ACA”.
Today, they intersected: his “Tax Reform” plan cuts exactly one tax from the ACA – the 3.8% Medicare tax on Net Investment Income for high-income taxpayers.
It has long been a badly-kept secret that the driving force behind “repeal the ACA” has been the 3.8% Medicare tax on Net Investment Income for high-income taxpayers. After all:
  1. this is a tax on the top 4% of income earners, who make more than a quarter-million dollars annually on investment income. 96% of the population is never affected by this tax.
  2. this is a Medicare tax on investment income. Before the ACA, this income was not subject to Medicare tax – those who made all or most of their income from investments paid nothing or little into Medicare

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CHANNELLING Behavior : Rewards and Punishments through the Tax System

In the 1960’s, an infamous memo from the Draft (Selective Service System) described “manpower channelling” as an important part of the draft. Using draft deferments, the system could “channel” young men to behave in ways that were seen as “in the national interest”. Quoting from the memo:

In the Selective Service System, the term “deferment” has been used millions of times to describe the method and means used to attract to the kind of service considered to be the most important, the individuals who were not compelled to do it. The club of induction has been used to drive out of areas considered to be less important to the areas of greater importance in which deferments were given, the individuals who did not or could not participate in activities which were considered essential to the Nation.

… It is in dealing with the other millions of registrants that the System is heavily occupied, developing more effective human beings in the national interest.

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Promises made, Promises broken

Uncertainty damages business … and people too. Too bad about the student loan forgiveness plan.

18820225526_884e6b752d_zI remember (in 2012) when the Bush tax cuts of 2003 were scheduled to expire. Republicans raised a hue and cry about the “uncertainty” that this cast upon our economy. Businesses didn’t know how to plan – should they expect those tax cuts to be extended? or will taxes be restored? or raised? or lowered? What to do?

Yet, now, these same Republicans are reveling in a new world of uncertainty – one that makes every rule and every law an uncertain rule or law. Every day, the Republican Congress is voting on another rollback or another repeal. Rules that applied yesterday may not apply tomorrow. Promises made are being broken. Businesses don’t know how to plan – what to do?

Well, here’s today’s uncertainty and this time it is being cast on those with student loans.

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“Fear was a big part of it”

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I’m watching the PBS American Experience episode “Ruby Ridge”. Sara Weaver, the daughter of Randy Weaver, is describing how her parents were preparing to move from their Iowa farm to living on a mountain in Idaho. She says they were adhering to the Biblical passages of “an apocalyptic future” and says

“Fear was a big part of it.”

As the episode draws to a close, she adds

“When you operate out of misinformation and fear, things can go wrong.”

These are words worth remembering – not just in the tragic and volatile 1992 “Ruby Ridge” case, but in our society in general today, and in the language that we hear from those who are responsible for guiding us forward as a nation.

Fear is a big part of it.

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Reward and Punishment: SCOTUS Nominations

I’m still troubled by the idea of rewarding – and thus encouraging – the behavior of the GOP Senate in 2016 re: the nomination of Merrick Garland.

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While two wrongs don’t make a right, rewarding a wrong encourages more of the same. There have to be consequences to misbehavior, especially intentional misbehavior such as the 2016 GOP Senate engaged in.

With that in mind, and for that reason – the Democrats should block all consideration of any SCOTUS nomination for the duration of this current presidency, regardless of the nominee’s qualifications.

 

Ending the Imperial Presidency

I have a theory — that we are living through the end of the “Imperial Presidency”, with the accompanying restoration of the Congress as the center of power in federal government.
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“The Imperial Presidency”. Those who have watched as many presidencies as I have (or more) know that term. It has been around for the entirety of our modern presidency — which I put at all presidents starting with Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1933 inauguration, in the midst of the Great Depression. It was FDR who swung the presidency like a club, sweeping across the economy and the “general welfare” of a nation in dire straits. FDR wasn’t always attentive to the Constitution along the way, and met resistance from conservatives, the opposition (Republican) party and businesses. But his New Deal reforms are entrenched in government programs to this day — and the presidential power that he exercised before and during World War II set the tone for the Imperial Presidency that continued long after he died.

All presidencies since FDR have tried, with varying degrees of success, to deal with the challenge of the Imperial Presidency. We’ve had other Imperials — JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Reagan, Clinton, W and Obama. All of them were accused — correctly — of expanding the dominance of the White House. In most cases, Congress pushed back hard and SCOTUS blocked the way, but the popular perception, at home and internationally, was that of a dominating, celebrity POTUS.

With 45, it’s different — significantly different. First, he is showing himself, unsurprisingly, to be utterly incompetent and ignorant, and has surrounded himself with friends who are equally ignorant, equally incompetent or just too obsequious to resist him. Add to that the departure, by voluntary or forced resignation, of the knowledge leadership in the executive branches, and the slow pace at which that leadership is being restored. The executive branch is in the hands of idiots – and that is widely accepted to be true, at least for the time being.
Second, importantly, Congress is all Republican. This gives Congress the ability to do whatever they want and to succeed in demanding that their fellow party member in the White House go along with it. They are soon to move SCOTUS into their camp as well (because they can), taking down any final barrier to Congressional “overreach”.

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