What to expect from the Trump years, and why.

Summary: The media overflow with hysterical predictions about the next four years, but few well-grounded visions. Here is a brief look at  some of what we can expect, and why, and what these events reveal about ourselves.

What makes America great? Great for whom?

Trump: Make America Great Again

Investors have pushed US stock to near-record valuations (record valuations on price to growth basis) on the belief that the Trump administration will enact a massive fiscal stimulus — tax cuts (mostly for the rich) plus infrastructure and military spending — resulting in another round of fantastic fiscal deficits. Just as hard-rock conservatives Reagan and Bush Jr. did.

Skeptics’ rebuttal points to the eight years of Republican criticism of Obama’s deficits — deficits which prevented the 2008 crash from starting a depression and supported the economy during its long, slow recovery. How could the GOP justify massive deficits now, during an expansion? Conservative’s beliefs and history help us better predict how the conservative majority in Congress will vote. Start with their beliefs about deficits, easily stated.

  • Vast military spending and tax cuts are good; the resulting deficits are bad.
  • Tax cuts are good in both booms and busts, no matter how large the resulting deficits.
  • Deficits don’t matter for Republican Administrations, only for Democratic Administrations.

To see how this works we turn to one of America’s most influential presidents, whose administration radically changed America and set the patterns we still live by: George Bush Jr. The pivotal moment when fiscal policy change is described in this excerpt from The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’Neill by Ron Suskind (2004, p291). Cheney is the key mover, as in most things during the Bush Jr. years.

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2016 revealed the true nature of America’s left & right. It’s bad news.

Summary: America entered a new era in 2016. The facades crumbled, revealing the true nature of America’s Left and Right. Their lies, the war against us (the big middle), and their madness. What comes next, how we react to this news, will reveal our nature.

Stop Extremism

Years ago, Chet Richards (Colonel, USAF, retired) told me that America’s hopes for reform rested with an alliance of the middle majority against predictors on the Left the Right. I following the lead of political scientists, disagreed — since much of US public is has centrist views only by averaging their extreme left and right beliefs (see WaPo articles here and here).

Time has proven Chet right and me wrong. Powerful elements on the left and right are moving against the rest of us. Worse, both have gone bonkers. This has put America on the fast track to disaster, although we cannot foresee details of the end. We trapped between them, like children with no team to choose — bewildered by the increasingly odd events around us.

We’re immersed in fake news, fake facts.

Our opponents on the Left and Right have seen our gullibility, and quote logically exploit it. The Right has done so more effectively. They have ensnared their followers in webs of fake history, fake economics, fake quotes, and fake news. Trump’s serial lies are the apotheosis of decades of the Right successfully building an audience that prefers pleasing lies to harsh truths.

The Left got into the game late, but has moved quickly to catch up. Their five decades of exaggerating (or ignoring) scientists’ work to create nightmares of doom for humanity — or the world — including a decade or so of exaggerating or misrepresenting the IPCC’s work about climate change. Their denial of climate scientists’ work on what they call the “pause”.

The election of Trump has pushed much of the Left into a delusional state (examples herehere and here).  The scale of exaggerated claims are difficult for me to imagine, let alone take seriously. Trump has a perverted attraction to his daughter. Trump is Hitler. The Republicans are Nazis. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) is the American Gestapo, per Erik Loomis (assistant professor of history at U RI). My favorite is “The American Gestapo and Its Slave Labor Force.” The exaggerated, even fake, stories about Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ contacts with Russians (details here), Russia’s hacking of the Democratic National Committee (details here), and the entire complex of Trump-Putin conspiracy theories (see this devastating deconstruction in the liberal NY Review of Books).

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On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, let the GOP remember its great betrayal

Summary: Amidst the recollections about the trials and accomplishments of Martin Luther King Jr., let’s remember that at the peak of his success another man’s actions would undo much of his work. Barry Goldwater betrayed the Republican Party and poisoned American politics at what should have been a moment of triumph. Now the Republicans have an opportunity to fix this, and recapture their lost greatness.

Martin Luther King: Injustice

In 1964 Martin Luther King Jr. was leading the civil rights movement to its greatest triumph since the Civil War. But one man’s decision had introduced corruption into the Republican Party, which has flowered so greatly in the following five decades.

Reflecting the parties geographical, not ideological, foundations, the 1964 Civil Rights Act passed on 19 June 1964 with strong majorities in both parties — but against determined opposition.

  • Democratic Party: 46–21  (69%–31%).
  • Republican Party: 27–06   (82%–18%).

The Republican candidate for the Presidency cast one of those “no” votes. Barry Goldwater saw an opportunity to redraw America’s political map and end the Democratic Party’s domination, held since the Great Depression. The price paid: betrayal of the Republican Party’s century-long civil rights legacy, the original foundation of the Party. All for nothing. Goldwater lost by a landslide of 38% to 61% for Johnson. He did not even get 30 pieces of silver.

Here’s the speech Goldwater gave justifying his betrayal, from the website of Brad DeLong (Prof Economics, Berkeley). It has the high-flown rhetoric racists have used since the founding, and use today. The red text highlights the apocalyptic forecasts often used to scare Americans from doing what they know is right. DeLong decodes the key phrases Goldwater used to disguise his betrayal.

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The hidden details of the October surprise about Trump’s “sexual assaults”

Summary: As expected, an October surprise has arrived to tilt the vote. Key developments in the election (Circus 2016) are lost in the media frenzy about this new Trump soundbite, things which reveal much about America today — and our future.  Let’s drag them into the light.

October surprise

Contents

  1. Clinton’s real platform.
  2. About the morality of US presidents.
  3. Our elites find an effective smear on Trump.
  4. Our elites: “No need for Americans to vote!”
  5. Implications of this October surprise.
  6. The Anything But Issues election.
  7. For More Information.

(1)  Clinton’s real platform

Clinton has wisely decided to run against Trump on the Anything But Issues platform instead of her program of supporting Wall Street and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (does anyone seriously believe her public dithering about it?) plus aggressive foreign wars and domestic social engineering. This is folly. Avoiding these issues — and Trump’s more popular ones (described here, here, and here) — is ineffective against Trump — as the polls show – and gives her no mandate if she wins.

(2)  About the morality of US presidents

Many high US officials have been adulterers and even serial adulterers. More spectacular was the soap opera-like White House of President Franklin Roosevelt, the cousin he was having an affair with, the cousin he was married to, and her girlfriend and Kennedy’s festivities with women (including naked pool parties).

The cherry on the top of this history is Bill Clinton’s affair with an intern. Feminists would have crucified a GOP president for that, doubly so for his team’s attacks on Monika Lewinsky — smearing her as “a ‘stalker’ and that the President was ‘the victim’ of a predatory and unstable sexually demanding young woman“. They would have done so a second time after revelation of his perjury in defense of his sexual misconduct (i.e., employer to young woman). Only her blue dress brought the truth out. Plus the accusations of sexual assault and even rape (Juanita Broddrick). Believe the victim when you are told to do so!

Trump’s serial adultery would add to this American tradition. The crudity of Trump’s conversation rivals that of LBJ (who famously involved his dick, “Jumbo” in the lives of his staff and visitors). Much worse, imo, is Trump compulsive lying. His own lawyers meet with him in pairs because Trump lies so much (caught by Southpaw from a 7 April 1993 deposition of Patrick T. McGahn (see p. 58, numbered page 77).

I worry about the Republic when its people like leaders such as Clinton and Trump (Trump is, of course, far worse in every sense).

“CNN’s Erin Burnett recounts an incident told to her by a friend she has known for years who alleges Donald Trump allegedly tried to kiss her.” — From CNN. A capital crime!

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Matt Taibbi visits the GOP convention. We can learn from what he doesn’t see.

Summary: Matt Taibbi is one of America’s most acute political observers. His analysis of the Republican Convention shows his skills at their peak, but (like most on the Left) he cannot see the significance of what he sees — the radical changes altering the US political landscape. We can learn much from his essay, lessons that can help us understand what will happen in the next few years.

2016 GOP convention
Photograph by Carlo Allegri/Reuters.

Trump’s Appetite for Destruction:
How Disastrous Convention Doomed GOP

By Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone, 22 July 2016.
Republican National Convention made a joke of American democracy.

“It wasn’t what we expected. We thought Donald Trump’s version of the Republican National Convention would be a brilliantly bawdy exercise in Nazistic excess. We expected thousand-foot light columns, a 400-piece horn section where the delegates usually sit (they would be in cages out back with guns to their heads). Onstage, a chorus line of pageant girls in gold bikinis would be twerking furiously to a techno version of “New York, New York” while an army of Broadway dancers spent all four days building a Big Beautiful Wall that read winning, the ceremonial last brick timed to the start of Donald’s acceptance speech. …”

Liberals refuse to see the substance behind Trump’s campaign, just caricatures they invent — glitzy combinations of NAZI and racist imagery. It relieves them of the burden of responding to his issues. For details see Why they lose: the Left tells us that Trump is like Hitler.

“Thus the area around the convention feels like some other infamous de-peopled landscapes, like Hitler’s paintings…”

Not subtle. But Taibbi has some powerful insights about the convention.

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The GOP convention has done its job. Here are some highlights.

Summary: The Republican convention has served us well by showing us what we will get if we pull the level for GOP candidates on November 8. Here are some of the highlights.

Republican National Convention 2016 Logo

(1) GOP plans to build a New America

50 Shockingly Extreme Right-Wing Proposals in the 2016 Republican Party Platform” by Steven Rosenfeld / AlterNet, 18 July 2016 — “What Trump, a GOP Congress and GOP-appointed Supreme Court would do to America.” A cornucopia for corporations and the 1%; a horror show for the rest of us. Here is the full platform.

  • Tax cuts for the rich. Cut government salaries and benefits.
  • Dramatically increase Pentagon budget. Cancel Iran nuclear treaty and expand nuclear arsenal.
  • Deregulate the banks. Stop consumer protection. Start repealing environmental laws. Start shrinking unions and union labor. No change in federal minimum wage. Give internet service providers monopolies. Privatize government services to “fight poverty”. Replace traditional public schools with privatized options. Privatize student loans instead of lowering interest rates.
  • Appoint anti-choice, anti-LGBT, and anti-Obamacare justices. Make Christianity a national religion. Loosen gun controls nationwide. Pass an anti-choice constitutional amendment. Allow states to shut down abortion Clinics. Oppose stem cell scientific research. Replace sex education with abstinence-only approaches.
  • Loosen campaign finance loopholes and dark money. Repeal Obamacare. Privatize Medicare. Turn Medicaid, the poor’s health plan, over to states. No increasing Social Security benefits by taxing the rich. …

(2) Trump plans a purge if he wins

Governor Christie, who leads Trump’s transition team, told dozens of donors at the GOP convention that they were drawing up a list of federal government employees appointed by Obama to fire if Trump wins. Christie also said that “One of the things I have suggested to Donald is that we have to immediately ask the Republican Congress to change the civil service laws. Because if they do, it will make it a lot easier to fire those people”. Reuters reported this on the basis of a recording and accounts from two attendees.

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See how the Republican Party’s history brought forth Trump2016

Summary: The Republican Convention shows our dysfunctional political system at work. Understanding how we got here requires shining harsh light on the modern history of the Grand Old Party, born fighting against slavery — and dark actions in the 20th Century. From the archives.

Republicans Flag

Contents

  1. The GOP’s great betrayal.
  2. Cut food stamps, more $$ for agricorps.
  3. The GOP’s war on public health.
  4. For More Information.
  5. Tom Tomorrow explains the Class War.

(1) The GOP’s great betrayal

On19 June 1964 the US Congress passed the 1964 Civil Rights Bill, with majorities from both parties. But one of thee “no” votes was by Barry Goldwater, the Republican candidate for the Presidency. He saw an opportunity to redraw America’s political map and end the dominant position the Democratic Party had held since the Great Depression (see his speech). The price was betrayal of the Republican Party’s legacy.

Thus began one of the greatest betrayals in modern American history, an accommodation of evil in exchange for political power. Selling their souls for 30 pieces of silver, instead of allowing the South’s racists to either accept this progress or marginalize themselves with a pariah third party.

But this is consistent with the GOP’s behavior before and since, a too-often inimical role shaping America. Perhaps the reform of America should start with the part most needing reform: conservatives, heal thyselves.

(2) Cutting food stamps, but more dollars for agri-corps

The GOP shows its values clearly in their quest to cut the food stamp program while boosting subsidies for agri-corps. As explained in “Republicans: We Were Too Nice to the Hungry, But We’ve Fixed That” by Jonathan Chait in NY Magazine, 20 September 2013 — Excerpt…

Republicans hate domestic spending, but their hatred is not completely indiscriminate. Some programs offend them more, and others less. The general pattern is that social programs offend Republicans to the degree that they benefit the poor, sick, or otherwise unfortunate. The struggle over the farm bill is not the biggest policy dispute in American politics, but it is the one that most clearly reveals the priorities and ideological identity of the contemporary GOP.

The farm bill traditionally combines agriculture subsidies (which hands out subsidies to people on the arbitrary basis that the business they own produces food as opposed to some other goods or services) with food stamps (which hands out subsidies to people on the highly nonarbitrary basis that they’re poor enough to likely have trouble scraping together regular meals). Conservative Republicans revolted against the normally automatic passage, insisting that the cuts to food stamps — $20 billion — did not slice deeply enough. Last night the House rectified its failure by cutting food stamps by $40 billion.

The putative rationale for the food-stamp cuts is that eligibility standards have loosened, or that it encourages sloth. Jonathan Cohn makes quick work of these claims, and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities makes long, detailed work of them. Click on those links if you want a blow-by-blow refutation. The upshot is that food stamps are a meager subsidy, of less than $1.40 per meal, for people either stuck in very low paid jobs or unable to find work at all. Their cost has increased because the recession has increased the supply of poor, desperate people.

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