Thursday, March 30, 2017

What Have They Done For You Lately?

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I assume this was the bottom line for rational Trump voters (not the Deplorables, of whom there are many - they have their own website where they compete with one another to see who can be the most vicious and vile or the Trump evangelicals who believe Trump was sent to us directly by God). I'm talking about the Trump fans who could be your neighbors or co-workers. Decent, kindly people.

I think this was the argument that sold them. Trump told them he was fighting for them, the forgotten Americans, as opposed to the Washington elite. With his populist campaign, he promised to bring back good jobs and eliminate the competitors for those jobs and re-write trade agreements that encouraged industries to outsource. And not only did they elect him, they gave him a Republican congress so he wouldn't be obstructed (as Obama was) by his opponents.

They gave the R's free rein to do all the wonderful things for the working class they said they would do.

By the time, Trump was inaugurated, I gave him almost zero credibility. His whole persona seemed like a giant shell game to me. But....if he'd begun with an infrastructure program, I might have begun to gain a little faith. If instead of trying to take health insurance from millions of Americans as his first project, he'd worked hard to accomplish the goal of jump-starting the economy and creating jobs by rebuilding our crumbling bridges and highways and electrical grid and airports and buildings and transportation systems, I might have started to buy in. And I don't mean by giving ginormous tax breaks to corporations to encourage them to do it. I mean by financing it ourselves, even if we had give up a ship here or a plane there or cut back on rebates for oil companies or tax breaks for billionaire realtors and bankers.

Jobs for real people - I might have considered that he was serious about "fighting for us".

And even now, after health care flopped, the next plan is tax reform. Like the Republican version of the American Health Care Act, tax reform will also benefit primarily the rich.

He brags about United Technology agreeing to move only 1000 jobs out of Indianapolis instead of 1,700 they'd originally slated for lay-off but they are in the process right now of closing their Huntington plant which is another 700 jobs. And Ford and others say their future plans for America were already in the works though Trump is taking the credit. Meantime, he puts a hiring freeze on federal employees, which incidentally, those are jobs too.

I've always thought I'd like to have a real conversation with a Trump supporter. Someone who would actually discuss our different political views. I would ask them what Trump and the Republicans have done so far to assure them that they are fighting for us. Trump's very first executive order raised the amount regular people pay on their mortgages. They've done away with regulations that mandated how much industry could pollute our waterways. They want to end the Endangered Species Act. They passed a law allowing hunters (I hesitate to even call them hunters, which is a name that implies some honor) to kill hibernating bears and gas mother bears and wolves and their cubs in their dens. They want to privatize some of our federally owned lands to open it up to drilling and mining and fracking. They approved both the Keystone and Dakota pipelines against the will of the people who actually live in those areas and fear for their clean water. The saving grace was to be a law that said the pipelines must be made of American steel but, of course, they've withdrawn that order. They've rescinded the regulation that says our employers must pay us overtime. They are adamantly opposed to increasing the minimum wage. They passed legislation that will allow our internet providers to sell every bit of information they have about us. They passed a law that says investment bankers no longer have to work "in the best interest of their customers". These are just things I remember off the top of my head. I'm sure I'm forgetting some important ones.

I'd ask my Trump friend - did you truly believe we'd have a wall and that Mexico would pay for it? I always thought that sounded absurd. And if you wanted illegal immigrants from coming to our country, why wouldn't they start with employers, which is the weakest link in the immigration chain? No jobs, no immigrants. Wouldn't that be cheaper and more humane than dragging people off as they took their kids to school or opened their businesses?

Did you really think their rushed Muslim ban was well thought out? Do we really make America safer by leaving students and grandmothers and sick babies stranded at airports? Are we safer because Muhammed Ali's son was interrogated at the airport....twice....simply because of his name?

I might have started to have a little faith in Trump if he'd appointed people to his cabinet who seemed eager to help their agencies become more responsive and more efficient. Instead he put a bunch of rich foxes in charge of the henhouse. An EPA Director who doesn't believe in climate change. An Education Secretary who doesn't believe in public education. A HHS Director who doesn't believe in health care, especially in the form of Medicare or Medicaid. An Energy Secretary who doesn't believe in energy policy. A HUD Secretary who knows jack shit about public housing. And I think he's up to seven former CEOs of Golden Sachs (the very people he used to call the "global cabal"). There may be others by now. He's barely begun to fill the jobs it takes to run these agencies. Who needs'em? We have too many people already.

If you're interested in seeing what cuts Trump has in his proposed budget to see if you agree with them, here is a list.

Instead of experienced people, America is being managed by Steve Bannon, Jared Kushner (Trump's son-in-law) who  seems to have a finger in every presidential pie, and of course, Ivanka, who will be her father's "eyes and ears" in the West Wing (which I would take to be a little creepy if I worked in the West Wing).

So tell me, Trumpie friend, just out of curiosity, what have he and Republicans done for you lately?

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Lead Me To The Low Road

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As a Democrat here's what I wish that my fellow Democrats would do -  simply refuse to be involved with the Gorsuch hearings in any way. I wish they'd register their rejection of this theft of a Supreme Court seat by walking out, denying the process their cooperation and their votes. The Republicans have the power to confirm Judge Gorsuch and undoubtedly they will, but at least there would always be an asterisk beside his name due to being given a stolen seat despite the disapproval of the Democrats.

I have nothing personal against Gorsuch and I never have would never have recommended such a strategy two years ago. I doubt I'd agree with the Judge on many issues but I always believed that our constitution gives a president has the responsibility for nominating SCOTUS justices while in office, even ones who aren't my personal cup of tea.

But then, Antonin Scalia died and the Republicans engaged in an astoundingly egregious display of dishonest partisanship regarding President Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland for the Court. They could have simply voted him down. They had the votes but instead, they took it to the nth degree of insult by refusing to conduct hearings or even interview him.

Mitch McConnell simply stated that Obama would not be allowed his constitutional privilege in his last year in office. In fact, he took it further by suggesting that if Hillary Clinton won the presidency, they would hold the seat open for four years! Only a Republican, I guess, in Republican eyes, would ever be allowed to choose new justices for the SCOTUS bench.

Now the tables have turned. McConnell intones in that irritatingly unctuous manner he has that the Democrats must stop stonewalling and get with the program of confirming Gorsuch. The Supreme Court needs that ninth justice (unlike the entirety of Obama's last year). Judge Gorsuch, McConnell tells us was overwhelmingly approved when he was nominated as judge - as was Garland. He is extremely highly thought of among his peers - as was Garland. Gorsuch is an good and honorable man - as was Garland. Garland's integrity and honor didn't cut any ice with Old Mitch when the shoe was on the other foot but now, Democrats need to be bipartisan good citizens and confirm Trump's choice. Uh huh.

Michelle Obama said, "when they go low, we go high". It's an honorable philosophy but we've seen how well that technique worked, haven't we? Those who took the low road seemed to always reach the finish line first. While they leveled howitzers at us, we tried to defend ourselves with squirt guns. Not very effective.

So where's that path down to the low road. I'm ready to take it all the way to the end.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Land of the Dumb and Home of the Mean

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I thought when I was in high school, I got an excellent education. (I graduated in 1964). Even the kids who dropped out to go to work in the factories got a thorough grounding in the basics before they turned sixteen. You could have a conversation with a guy who left school and went to work as a punch press operator at General Tire and you might know some things about physics and sociology that he didn't know by virtue of those missing years of education, but over all, he was just as intelligent as you. (Chances were, he was quite a bit smarter than me about math). He watched the news and read the newspapers and knew what was going on in the world around him. We had some less than average bright people then too, of course, but they were the exception rather than the rule.

I don't know what happened in the intervening years but America seems to have gone dumb and mean. And it doesn't have anything to do with i.q. They've chosen to be dumb. They've chosen to be mean. They've chosen to sneer at science and history. They are contemptuous of smart people, like college professors and economists and chemists. I had a Facebook debater tell me the other day that we don't need the arts and sciences anymore. We can figure out our own answers through our own rational thinking. It's safer that way, he said, because you can' trust anything the "Deep State" tells you anyway. The hoax of climate changes proves it. The vast majority of scientists who say they believe climate change is real are being paid off by the "global cabal" and only those few who deny it have integrity.

These are the people who elected Donald Trump despite the big black writing on the wall that was obvious to anyone who wanted to see it. They ignored his corruption, his constant lying, his hateful allegations about his opponents, his lewdness and crudeness and rudeness. They gloried in his cruelty, seeming to think hatefulness is funny....and they followed him right down into the gutter.

Someone on Facebook signed me up to a site called The Deplorables. You have to be approved to join so I assume someone did it as a prank but it has been an eye-opener. To me, these people are the heart and the soul of Trumpism. They glory in the title and try to prove it with everything they say. They seem to compete with one another to see who can be the coarsest. Their language is rife with niggers and skanks and wetbacks and sluts and towel-heads. It is not enough that they hated Obama and Hillary. They want to see them hung or shot or tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail. At the very least, they want to see them in handcuffs and orange jumpsuits being led to prison. Presumably, the watchers would throw stones and laugh during the perp walk. One Deplorable said if they hung Hillary and put it on Pay per View, they could raise enough to pay off the national debt.

They revel in outdoing one another in nastiness. I can't even tell you some of the sickening things they say. They truly are the Deplorables. Hillary was absolutely right about them.

They believe Trump can do no wrong. The things they ranted and raved about with Obama are no big deal any more. They no longer care about their president spending millions of taxpayer dollars on luxurious vacations. They no longer care that Trump has played golf nine times in seven weeks. They no longer care if Trump has outdone his predecessors in signing executive orders. Ask them sometime what those executive orders were for and they don't have a clue. They no longer care if he does government business on an unsecured phone or that Steve Bannon has a private server. They exhorted Darrell Issa and Trey Gowdy to keep investigating Benghazi - time and money were no object. But when Trump's first mission in Yemen failed bigly and lost us the life of a Navy SEAL and an expensive plane, hey, it wasn't his fault, nothing to see here.

For all that they love investigations, they want no investigations of President Puffy Butt's Russian connections. Practically every member of Trump's inner circle had communications with the Russians during the campaign and lied about it until they got caught. And yes, Pence lied about knowing about it too. Elijah Cummings himself sent the head of the Transition Team, which happened to be Mike Pence, a letter saying that General Flynn was working for and getting paid by Turkey even as he was attending Presidential Briefs but Pence stood before us, all innocence, and said it was news to him. (The General has since registered, retroactively, as a foreign agent). Flynn got fired for supposedly withholding information from Pence but Trump himself  knew so if he knew, why didn't he tell Pence. The answer is: he probably did.

The Deplorables have bought into Bannon's Deep State myth and wish for nothing more than for Trump's appointees to take a wrecking ball to the agencies of the federal Government. Do they truly believe the country, and they themselves, will be better off when this is done? Do they truly believe Trump is doing it for their sake and the rich won't be the ones to profit from his tax reform and deregulation.

Some how they must have convinced themselves that the FDA and the EPA and the Department of Education and the Food and Drug Administration and the food stamp program and Medicaid and Social Security and OSHA and the National Parks and the Endangered Species Act have never provided them any benefits. They must believe that the diversity that has always defined America is a negative thing.

I sometimes ask them what America will look like if they get their way in everything but none of them have thought that far ahead, or if they have, they can't articulate their vision.

The other day on a conservative website someone said, "hey, you fucking libtard bitch, someone ought to knock your goddamed teeth down your throat". (This wasn't the Deplorable. I've never come out to them because I know they'd instantly block me. They only want to share with their like-minded pals. I want to stay on because I have a kind of sick curiosity about just how low they will go).

We used to be the land of the free and the home of the brave. Now we seem to have become the land of the dumb and the home of the mean.



Thursday, March 2, 2017

Take Your Unity And.....

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Well, I didn't keep count but I probably said "fuck you" at least 20 times during the course of Trump's speech to a joint session of Congress so that will probably give you a small clue about how it affected me

He modulated his voice somewhat more than he usually does. That's about the only difference I noticed between "presidential" Trump and not presidential Trump. His hateful policies are all the same. His details are as sketchy as ever. His pie in the sky promises still float over a rainbow of unreality. It seems that he equates being presidential with the inability to smile. If smiles were paid for in dollars, he'd be standing in a soup line.

We had to watch his speech punctuated by the fawning smiles and claps of the Bobblehead Twins behind him. Did they coordinate their wardrobes in advance do you suppose?

He's going to try for a new immigration ban that will pass muster with the courts, which means, the administration will have to be a little more careful about semantics....but the bottom line will not change. In fact, we are still causing pain for people who don't deserve it. A teacher who couldn't come to the United States with his students. A girl's soccer team. An elderly Australian children's book writer. Mohammed Ali's son and mother, for God's sake. What any of these people have to do with terrorism in America is absolutely zilch, zero, nada.

His own National Security Adviser tried to convince him to quit using the term "radical Muslim terrorists", saying it wasn't helpful in recruiting the Muslims who are our allies. But he couldn't resist. In fact, he placed special emphasis on those words Radical "Muslim Terrorists". You wonder how long the sane members of his cabinet will stick around when they are so disrespected. (McMaster doesn't even have Open Door privileges to come see Trump).

He still wants to build a wall and  round up millions of illegals....not just criminals, unless you count as the fact that just being here makes you a criminal, which they do. Your guess is as good as mine whether they getting hearings or simply being booted across the border (even non-Mexicans are being dumped in Mexico). You can practically feel the private prison companies salivating at the thought of all the big new prisons that will have to be built to detain them.

His new VOICE (Victims of Immigrant Crime Engagement) is absolutely ridiculous. Illegal immigrants commit fewer crimes than native Americans but I guess their victims are more worthy of attention than those black kids shot by police (the Justice Department informed us they'd no longer be monitoring police departments with histories of abuse, like Chicago) or victims of drunk white good old boys with guns.

Here are some of the things I remember about his planned spending: $20 billion for the Wall, $54 billion (just a down payment) for defense, a trillion for infrastructure, thousands of new border patrol agents, massive tax cuts across the board (although if you believe the rich and corporations won't get the lion's share, I have a bridge in Brooklyn for sale). Isn't it amazing how Republicans care so much about the deficit when Dems are in charge but max out the old credit card when the responsibility is on them?

We still don't know about Obamacare. Trump says he's going to give us something that includes more people, is cheaper while offering better coverage than the ACA. (Remember that bridge in Brooklyn?)

I can't help but smile a little when I read articles about how farmers are terrified that they won't have immigrant labor to help them pick their crops. Or poor white Appalachians who are deathly (yes, deathly, is the word) that they are going to lose their healthcare. These are all people who voted for Trump. Maybe they should have given that decision a little more thought.

I thought the wife of the Seal who died in Yemen was one of the saddest things I've ever seen. It started out all right but it went on and on, like a kind of torture. It looked to me like the poor woman was thinking, "oh, God, please, let this be over." I actually thought she might be going to faint.

And what did Mr Trump believe the spirit looking down on his grieving wife was thinking - "gee, wow, what an ovation!" No, Donald, that would be you that puts cheering crowds above everything else in your life.

We got a few little tips of the hat to unity. Yep, now that the Republicans have it all their own way, they think it would be great if we could just get over this petty divisiveness that has ruled the U.S. for the last 8 years.

Ain't gonna' happen. I despise everything Donald Trump stands for, everything he wants to do to my country to make it seem small and backward and cruel.

There will be no unity from me, Mr. Trump.