Listen to what they don’t say

Things Republican leaders are saying about their candidate Roy Moore:

House Speaker Paul Ryan:

Number one, these allegations are credible. Number two, if he cares about the values that he claims to care about, then he should step aside.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell:

I think he should step aside.

Senator Lindsey Graham:

He was barred from a mall. His behavior was so extreme in his thirties that apparently the Gadsden mall put him on the no-fly list. That tells me a lot. I don’t know anybody personally who’s been banned from a mall.

Things Republican leaders are NOT saying about their candidate Roy Moore:
Alabama Republicans have the power to say this, but won’t:

We, the Alabama Republican Party, hereby decertify Roy Moore as the candidate of our Party.

And no Republican anywhere has publicly said this:

Vote for the Democratic candidate instead.

Not all the Republicans think being a pedophile rapist is disqualifying

An Alabama Republican is standing by Roy Moore, their candidate for Senate in an upcoming special election.

Alabama state auditor Jim Ziegler, a Republican operator, gave an interviews in which he justified Moore’s assaults on children by citing scripture, noting that “Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter” and stating that Moore’s assaults on children were “nothing immoral or illegal…Maybe just a little bit unusual.”

Today’s Republican Party isn’t misogynist and utterly amoral and fascist, just maybe a little bit unusual.  And of course Steve Bannon is blaming the media, not denying the serious allegations the media are reporting.

They know Trump won’t help them, and they love him anyway.

Johnstown, Pennsylvania knows Trump won’t deliver, and they don’t care.

Johnstown voters do not intend to hold the president accountable for the nonnegotiable pledges he made to them. It’s not that the people who made Trump president have generously moved the goalposts for him. It’s that they have eliminated the goalposts altogether.

This reality ought to get the attention of anyone who thinks they will win in 2018 or 2020 by running against Trump’s record. His supporters here, it turns out, are energized by his bombast and his animus more than any actual accomplishments. For them, it’s evidently not what he’s doing so much as it is the people he’s fighting. Trump is simply and unceasingly angry on their behalf, battling the people who vex them the worst—“obstructionist” Democrats, uncooperative establishment Republicans, the media, Black Lives Matter protesters and NFL players (boy oh boy do they hate kneeling NFL players) whom they see as ungrateful, disrespectful millionaires.

And they love him for this.

This is how authoritarian followers think.

What real tax reform would look like

You’ve seen the Republican plan.  And it’s just what we knew would come out of the party of Trump:  massive tax cuts for the rich, tax increases for everyone else.  This is not new.  Here’s Paul Krugman describing the Republicans’ ideas in 2011.

[W]hen the GOP claimed that deficits don’t matter, it called for privatizing major social insurance programs while cutting taxes on the rich, and now that it claims to be deeply concerned about deficits, it calls for privatizing major social insurance programs while cutting taxes on the rich.

What would a really progressive tax plan look like, something that could properly be described as reform?  It would have to actively reverse not just income inequality, but wealth inequality.  It would have to address the fact that the recent depression wiped out a generation of wealth accumulation by Latinos and blacks.

  • The estate tax should be increased, not eliminated.
  • The federal income tax should be steeply progressive, that is, those with higher incomes should pay more than they do now.  The top rate should be north of 50%.
  • The payroll tax should be eliminated.  It’s a regressive tax that hits working people hardest.  If you want to know who is serious about cutting taxes on working people, see if they’re making a lot of noise about cutting income taxes, which the working poor don’t pay, or the payroll tax, which the working poor do pay.  The Social Security trust fund should be funded by the income tax.
  • Regressive state and local taxes should be outlawed.  I’m looking at you, sales taxes.  The difference should be made up from income taxes.
  • A wealth tax on the largest fortunes should be levied annually.  A few percent off a vast fortune, is still a vast fortune.  Trump proposed this in 1999, so let’s pretend he was serious and make it happen.

This should be the minimum set of demands by Democrats, and if Democratic candidates won’t support it, let’s get some better Democratic candidates for 2018.

What do you think?  Register on this blog and let’s discuss it.

Lies about tax “reform”

We hear a lot that Republicans are at odds with each other.  There is one thing that unites them all:  tax cuts for the rich.  The Party of Trump is quite clear on that.  They would like to pay less, and they would like working people to pay more.  Naturally, this requires lying.  Paul Krugman has helpfully compiled a list of ten lies that Republicans keep repeating.  You should read the whole piece.  One of the collection of whoppers is the persistent and absurd claim that the inheritance tax somehow hurts working people and farmers:

Tales of struggling family farms disbanded because they can’t afford the taxes when the patriarch dies have flourished for decades, despite the absence of any examples. I don’t mean examples are rare: I mean that advocates of estate tax repeal haven’t been able to come up with a single example at least since the late 1970s, when exemption levels were raised to the equivalent of around $2 million in today’s dollars.

Lately Trump has added a new twist, portraying the estate tax as a terrible burden on hard-working truckers. For who among us doesn’t own an $11 million fleet of trucks?

 

Racist pardons another racist

The President has pardoned Joe Arpaio.  Arpaio has been found guilty of criminal contempt of court, and faced up to six months in prison, for willfully violating a court order instructing him not to detain immigrants who were not suspected of any crime.  He wasn’t sorry.

The message to racist public officials could not be more clear:  it’s open season.  If you’re on the wrong side of a racist vigilante sheriff, having the law on your side is no protection at all; you have been warned.

Perhaps there’s another audience for this message as well.  Now we know—if we had any doubts—that Trump will use his pardon power to reward personal loyalty to Trump.  If you’re being questioned in the Russia investigation, don’t worry about being charged with obstruction of justice or perjury.  The rule of law is suspended until further notice.

Update:  Joe Arpaio’s history of official abuse is not short.  False arrests of reporters, inmate deaths, rapes unprosecuted, a federal judge investigated.  This is what Trump considers worthy of a pardon.

The Republican Party can’t wash off the stink

It doesn’t matter that several Republican elected officials are now saying mean things about Trump.  It doesn’t matter that Bannon is out.  It doesn’t matter whether a resolution of censure passes Congress.  It doesn’t even matter whether Republicans in the House vote with Democrats to impeach this President and Republicans in the Senate vote to convict.  There’s nothing the Republican Party can do to escape the moral stain of having been the party of fascism.

Trump remains far from isolated.  While some publicity-sensitive corporate CEOs have abandoned Trump’s advisory councils, his Jewish advisors won’t publicly criticize his support for Nazis.  Indeed, no White House officials have resigned in the wake of Trump’s indefensible behavior.  His evangelical Christian advisory council has stood with him, to the lasting shame of the evangelical Christians who helped elect him.  None of the critical comments from Republican members of Congress have been followed by “and I will no longer approve his judicial nominees nor back his legislative program.”

When the rewriting of the history of this era gets underway in earnest, remember: even if Trump is eventually discarded by the Republican Party, it was the Republican Party who created him, backed him, elected him, enabled him.  There are plenty of Republicans waiting in the wings who are just as racist as Trump, just as misogynist as Trump, just as eager to cut taxes on the rich as Trump, just as willing to make Christianity the state religion, just as willing to start another war, just as willing to protect corporations and unleash brutal cops and intimidate the press and promote lynching.  Fixing Trump is not fixing the fact that one of the major political parties in the U.S. is now fascist, and permanently discredited.

Now he’s openly defending Nazis

Trump gave a half-hearted denunciation of racist, swastika-wearing, Nazi-saluting white supremacists on Monday, days after one of them murdered an anti-racist protester in Charlottesville.  And if you think “half-hearted” is unfair, look at what he said today.

In a long, combative exchange with reporters at Trump Tower, the president repeatedly rejected a torrent of bipartisan criticism for waiting several days before naming the right-wing groups and placing blame on “many sides” for the violence that ended with the death of a young woman after a car crashed into a crowd.

Mr. Trump repeated that assertion on Tuesday, criticizing “alt-left” groups that he claimed were “very, very violent” when they sought to confront the nationalist and Nazi groups that had gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee from a park. He said there is “blame on both sides.”

Sounding very much like a right-wing Twitter feed, the president added, “Many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. This week, it is Robert E. Lee and this week, Stonewall Jackson. Is it George Washington next? You have to ask yourself, where does it stop?”

Trump went on to defend the tiki-torch-wielding racists who gathered on Friday night, before saying, in reference to the racist activists, “Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch.” …

He actually argued that there were “very fine people on both sides” and that he believes “there’s blame on both sides.”

If that sounds like a message white supremacists will be thrilled to hear, we don’t need to speculate: David Duke has already thanked Trump for this afternoon’s comments.

Where does it stop, indeed?

Donald Trump will not condemn the terrorist attacks on anti-Nazi protestors

No surprise there.

Donald Trump has canceled all press events today. Yesterday, he ran from reporters who asked him to call terrorism “terrorism.” Donald Trump, the “alpha” whose campaign dared Democrats to condemn “radical Islamic terrorism,” who finds it easy to condemn department stores and TV networks and Hollywood actresses in intemperate language, that man cannot find it in himself to risk the ire of his base by calling white supremacist terror “white supremacist terror.”

Donald Trump’s cowardice has made the Republican Party into the murderers’ party, the lynchers’ party, the party that stands idly by while their supporters murder anti-racists. The party that is, just maybe, a little happy to see it happen.

Racists rally in Charlottesville VA

Racists with torches giving Nazi salute
We’re not making up this fascism stuff.

The largest hate gathering in decades is going on now in Virginia.  White supremacists of all stripes, including the KKK and Nazis, are marching openly and proudly, chanting racist slogans like “White lives matter” and “Jews will not replace us.”  One counter-demonstrator has been murdered and nineteen injured by a man who deliberately drove his car into a crowd.

The President of the United States has condemned…both sides.  He is not in the habit of condemning violence, of course, inciting it is more his style.  Now that the logical consequences are here, he suddenly doesn’t want the credit.