The Unsettling Truth About “the Good Old Days”

Remember the Good Old Days? Back when everything was better? When the world was full of opportunity… and the government didn’t make your life miserable?If you do, you need to take your rose-colored glasses off. Because you’re almost certainly living in a fantasy world. Truth be told, the Good Old Days you’ve heard about aren’t what you thought they were.

And I have the numbers to prove it. If you want to get back to when America was on top of the world, you need to see this. Because almost everything you’ve been told is probably wrong.

If You Want Tax Relief, You’re Probably Backing the Wrong Party

Most of today’s conservatives have relatively short memories. Some remember Reagan… but probably not his specific policies. Most conservatives don’t realize Bill Clinton cut taxes more than Reagan.

Under Republican icon, Dwight Eisenhower, the highest marginal tax rate sat at 92%. Under Lyndon Johnson, it dropped to 77%. That’s right: This highest marginal tax rate in history – outside of WW II – was under a Republican. It dropped 16% under a Democrat.
And under “conservative” president Richard Nixon, taxes on capital gains rose 9%.

Under Reagan maximum tax rates dropped from 70% to 28%. Which may seem like a big deal… but the drop applied to a vastly different income level.

The change in rates mirrored a change in incomes effected. The 70% rate applied to incomes over $215,400. The new “lower” rate was applied to incomes over $30,950… or just 28% of the old rate. Which added a huge number of Americans to the new maximum rate.

So, Reagan’s “cut” wasn’t quite what it seemed. This “conservative” traded quality for quantity. Which means the rich paid less in taxes, while the middle class absorbed the difference.

Even “ultra-liberal” Jimmy Carter raised the threshold for those facing the highest marginal tax rate. Not by much… but could you use a good chunk of $12,200 every year?

Oh – and, under Reagan – the capital gains tax rose 8%.

Economic Growth May Not Be Where You’d Expect to Find It

The longest period of unbroken period of economic growth in recent years? The Kennedy/Johnson years. A close second? The Clinton Administration.

The worst recession in recent years? The so-called “Great Recession” – that began under George W. Bush.

That’s right Republicans inherited a booming economy… and left the nation in a complete mess just eight years later. On the bright side, the Obama/Biden administration oversaw a massive come-back… and handed off a booming economy to Donald Trump.

A boom Trump has squandered… as he spent nearly 20% of his time in office at his golf resorts. Even as the Coronavirus pandemic worsens, he’s out playing golf. In fact, Trump has played golf more than twice as often as Obama in his first term.

Trump berated Obama for playing golf, but Trump claimed over and over again, he “wouldn’t have time to play golf.” Not bad for a guy who’s spent 20% of his days as president on the golf course.

Of course, golfing is a sure sign a president has his eye on improving his country’s economy.

This seems like just another step in a pattern: A party inherits a growing economy… under their management, growth reverses… and the opposing party has to pick up the pieces.

• Hoover’s policies led to the Great Depression, and FDR led us out.
• Bush’s policies led to the Great Recession, and Obama led us out.
• Now Trump’s policies have led to another recession… and it’s up to Biden to lead us out.

The truth is, the Good Old Days were only good thanks to Democratic policies. Every time Republicans gained control of the economy, we saw a downturn or an outright recession.

The numbers don’t lie. Even if Conservative pundits do. If you want a return to the “Good Old Days,” you need to back the left.

****************************************************************************************************************************

Fowler, M., “From Eisenhower to Obama: What the Wealthiest Americans Pay in Taxes,” ABC News. Jan 18, 2012.
Dale, D. and Lybrand, H., “Fact check: Trump has spent far more time at golf clubs than Obama had at same point,” CNN(dot)com. My 5, 2020.
Polti, D., “Trump Insists Obama Played More Golf as President. The Numbers Say Otherwise,” Slate(dot)com. Jul 12, 2020.

Our Hardest Working President

On Sunday, April 26, Donald Trump once again described himself as “the hardest working President in history.” And he claims his supporters know it to be true.

This makes me question the history education of those who support Trump. Because, up until March…

  • He’d spent 20% of his tenure as president playing golf.
  • He watched hours of TV – mostly Fox News – every day.
  • He often had only two or three specific appointments. With many hours blocked off for “executive time.”

How Hard Does This President Work?

I chose a recent day at random – January 28, 2020 – to compare. This seemed fair, because it’s both recent and before the coronavirus panic. Here’s a screenshot of President Trump’s day…

Look at all those items! President Trump clearly had a busy day. He had so much going on, it couldn’t fit on one screen!

Until you look a bit more closely…

During the normal workday, Trump spent a half-hour with Israel’s Prime Minister and took his daily intelligence briefing.

An example of Trump's daily schedule.
Trump’s schedule, January 28, 2020.

Almost everything else on this page tracks his travels – to and from a 1.5-hour political rally in NJ.

Almost everything on this schedule is related to air travel for a political rally.

The day before, more than a dozen countries reported the spread of Covid-19. And the University of Hong Kong warned of up to 100,000 new infections per day, worldwide.

So, our “hardest working president” spent a couple of hours working, a couple of hours at a political rally, and pretty much a full workday traveling from D.C. to NJ and back for that rally.

That’s the standard to be the “hardest-working” president. Maybe a half-day of actual work. Now let’s compare that to the man Trump constantly blames for leaving him a “mess.”

Same Day, Different Chief Executive

Four years earlier, President Obama was in the same position as Trump. Just a few months from an election. Maybe not his own, but a key election to show how effective he’d been as president.

His calendar for January 28, 2016 starts a little behind Trump’s: 10:00 AM.

Wow! Look at how few items are on Presidet Obama’s schedule! Maybe Trump is right. Maybe he works a harder than other presidents.

Or maybe not.

An example of President Obama's daily schedule.
Obama’s schedule, January 28, 2016.

Most of the items on Trump’s schedule were travel. Obama’s were mostly work.

Yes, in the evening, he spoke to the House Democratic Issues Conference. But that’s not a campaign rally, even if it is partisan.

And, during the day, he didn’t just deal with a briefing and one dignitary. He welcomed new ambassadors from key U.S. allies – including the U.K., New Zealand, Australia, Portugal, Austria, Saudi Arabia, and more.

Three of Obama’s events are “open press.” In other words, he didn’t restrict media access the way Trump’s administration does almost constantly.

He even closed the day with a press gathering.

Obama had fewer items on his schedule, but a lot more work was getting done.

Disclosure: While President Obama’s schedule came from the official White House website, Trump’s did not. A search of the site came up empty on an official schedule. (As did a broader Google search.)

Generating B.S. Is Hard Work

Donald Trump spends more time talking about his imagined accomplishments then actually doing anything. He blocked most travel to the U.S. from China in January… then coasted on that one “accomplishment” for the better part of two months.

But he’s spent a lot of time talking about it.

He invoked the Defense Production Act, but failed to apply it for weeks.

Meanwhile, he sure talked up the reference. Before finally using it very selectively. Applying it mostly to companies that were already cooperating.

Trump spewed reams of B.S. about hydroxychloroquine. Then invented some shaky “proof.” That’s hard work. And it can’t have been easy inventing the sarcasm excuse for suggesting we inject disinfectants into our bodies. Let alone coming up with the insane suggestion in the first place.

So, yeah, Trump is a hard-working president. But only in the sense that manufacturing outrageous B.S. is hard work.

If you look at his day-to-day performance, Trump is a sluggard.

**************************************************************

Sources:

The White House Blog. Whitehouse(dot)gov.

Factba(dot)se.

Donald Trump, the “Chinese” Virus, and the Future of America

We all saw the picture of President Trump’s speech. A Washington Postphotographer snapped a frame of Trump’s prepared speech. And there it was: The word “Corona” was crossed out – with Trump’s beloved “Sharpie” – and replaced with “Chinese.”

Here he was again… assigning blame and, at the same time, tossing a little racism in the mix for his base. Is it any wonder we’ve seen a sharp uptick in racist acts against Asians? Of course, Trump has an excuse. “That’s where it originated,” he says.

But when he talks about H1N1, he doesn’t call it “the American virus.” Even though it was first identified here. I wonder how the President would feel if all the other countries called H1N1 “the American virus.” Can you imagine him remaining calm? I can’t.

But here we are, facing a deadly pandemic with our national response depending on the moods of a paranoid narcissist. Who seems comfortable with a little racism, to boot.

So, what’s really happening here? Let’s look at the timeline.

Donald Trump vs. COVID-19

When asked how he’d rate his administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, Trump was quick to respond.

“I’d rate it a 10. I think we’ve done a great job…” was his immediate response.

But here’s how Trump’s darling – Fox News – described it…

“President Trump on Monday gave his administration high marks for its response to the coronavirus,” Fox wrote, “despite criticisms for a shortage of testing kits and for his downplaying the severity of the pandemic.”

Even Trump’s most ardent cheer squad had to hedge its comments. Because – let’s face it – the White House response hasn’t been stellar.

In fact, the President tried to downplay the severity of the pandemic for weeks. And thus delayed our nation’s response. In the end, this could cost thousands of lives.

Most of Trump’s moves since then have followed suit: Delaying action that could slow the spread and save lives.

And making Trump’s response of “I’d rate it a 10” accurate only if it were on a scale of 1 – 100.

Trump Did Something Right… Almost. Then…

On Jan 31, Trump blocked entrance to the U.S. for most people who’d traveled to most of China in the last 14 days. But this didn’t apply to Macau or Hong Kong… or to U.S. citizens or lawful residents.

With these gaping exceptions, Trump made the only smart move he’d make for weeks. Weeks? His comments to downplay the severity date back to at least Jan 22.

On Feb 2 – in spite of a quiet move by HHS Secretary Alex Azar to declare the novel coronavirus a public health emergency – Trump tells Fox’s Sean Hannity, “Well, we pretty much shut it down coming in from China.”

On Feb 24, Trump asked for more than $1.75 billion in new and moved funding to fight the coronavirus threat. At the same time, Trump tweeted, “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!”

By Feb 25, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) was saying a coronavirus pandemic wasn’t a matter of if, but of when. At the same time, Mitt Romney – a Republican – said he was disappointed the administration wasn’t doing more to prepare.

On the same day, Trump tweeted, “CDC and my Administration are doing a GREAT job of handling Coronavirus…” On the 28th, he blamed the spread of coronavirus on the Democrats.

On March 5, Trump claimed partial victory. He compared U.S. numbers to those of other countries. And blamed “MSNDC” for publishing fake news.

On March 9, Trump tried to compare seasonal flu with COVID-19. We don’t shut down over the seasonal flu, he argued… so why should we over this novel coronavirus?

On March 10, Trump promised tests people couldn’t get. On the same day, he demanded more work on the wall to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The only problem? Cases were far more widespread in the U.S. than in Mexico.

On the 11th, he announced “payroll tax relief” and blamed the Democrats for slowing response. (In spite of the fact that payroll tax relief largely benefits employers.)

March 12 found Trump boasting about 4 million test kits soon to be available. “If you go to the right agency,” he claimed, “if you go to the right area, you get the test.”

On March 13 – more than seven weeks after COVID-19 arrived in the U.S.  – Trump declared a public health emergency. Meanwhile, the disease had spread widely.

March 17: Trump called for people to work at home, limit travel, and avoid gatherings of more than 10 people.

On March 23, Trump tweeted, “we cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself…” Breitbart News said Trump was ready to start relaxing coronavirus restrictions.

On the 24th, he told America he’d “… love to have the country opened up, and just raring to go by Easter.”

Of course, Trump has since reversed himself on this… along with pretty much everything else he’s said about the COVID-19 virus.

But that’s the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Trump Ignored Specific Warnings

Trump claims nobody could have known such a pandemic could arise. But the Obama administration warned him of just such a threat during the transition.

In those days, the outgoing president’s team walked Trump’s incoming team through exactly the situation we face now. Along with all the necessary steps to take to defeat it.

Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, downplayed the exercise. “There’s no briefing,” Spicer said, “that can prepare you for a worldwide pandemic.” At least two Trump cabinet members – Wilber Ross and Rick Perry – attended the exercise.

Yup. Nobody could have foreseen exactly what you were warned about.

Then in January and February of 2020, the Trump administration was warned of the severity – and potential – of the coronavirus pandemic. By their own national security team. They chose to ignore those warnings.

Trump’s own intelligence agencies were warning of the severity of COVID-19. And Trump chose to ignore the warnings.

According to one Trump administration official, “Donald Trump may not have been expecting this, but a lot of other people in the government were – they just couldn’t get him to do anything about it.”

Could the U.S. have reacted more quickly? It’s clear the answer is yes. Could we have saved lives? Unquestionably. Was the Trump administration part of the problem? That’s pretty hard to deny.

Should we give a second term to a man who deliberately and actively led to the unnecessary deaths of hundreds – if not thousands – of Americans?

Not in our wildest dreams.

Donald Trump’s actions – or lack thereof – clearly led to many deaths. He should not be rewarded for this travesty. He should be relegated to the dumpster of history… A fate he richly deserves.

*********************************************************************

Sources:

Casiano, L., “Trump, asked about coronavirus response, gives himself a 10 out of 10,” Fox News. Mar 16, 2020.

Dilanian, K., et al, “Timeline: Trump administration’s response to coronavirus,” NBC News. March 17, 2020.

Spiering, C., “Donald Trump on Coronavirus Restrictions: ‘We Cannot Let the Cure Be Worse than the Problem’,” Breitbart News. Mar 23, 2020.

Greenberg, J., “President Donald Trump delivers a prime-time address to the nation about the coronavirus from the Oval Office on March 11,” Politifact(dot)com. March 20, 2020.

Toosi, N., et. Al., “Before Trump’s inauguration, a warning: ‘The worst influenza pandemic since 1918’,” Politico(dot)com. Mar 16, 2020.

Harris, S., et al, “U.S. intelligence reports from January and February warned about a likely pandemic,” MSN(dot)com. Mar 22, 2020.

“Entitlement” Shouldn’t Be a Dirty Word

The Right likes to lump all social welfare programs together… and label them “entitlement programs.” The implication is that people feel entitled to giveaways.

Food stamps, Medicaid, welfare, Medicare, and Social Security. According to the Right, these entitlement programs are draining money needed for other important programs. So, it’s only fair that when America feels the pinch, those on entitlement programs should, too.

But – as so often is the case – the Right has misrepresented the situation. Here’s the truth they don’t want you to know…

Social Security Is Really a Government-Backed IRA

Most of today’s adults have been paying into the Social Security system their entire working lives. It’s a legal requirement for most of us. And if you’re self-employed, you’ve been paying double what others pay.

You’ve been setting aside money for your retirement. But, in this case, your “IRA” – your Individual Retirement Account – is with Uncle Sam. When you retire, Uncle Sam is supposed to pay you back for all those savings… with interest. Just like an IRA would.

This is a true entitlement program… because you are entitled to that money. That is, you earned it… you set it aside… and you should get it back when you retire. It’s not that you feel you should get something you didn’t earn. You have a right to that money. Because it’s yours.

Medicare is similar. You’ve been paying to fund your Medicare coverage for most – or all – of your adult life. You’ve been making regular payments against an insurance policy for your retirement years.

Medicare isn’t a government handout. It’s an insurance policy you bought and paid for during a career that probably spanned 45 years or more.

Social Security and Medicare are true entitlement programs. They aren’t a giveaway from a benevolent government. You’ve earned the right to collect by investing your hard-earned income in these programs.

But here’s where things go wrong.

Your Retirement Fund Has Become Congress’s Personal Piggy Bank

Members of Congress have a sweet deal. They earn an above-average income. They’re vested in their pension plan after just 5 years. And the average annual Congressional retirement benefit is over $60,000 a year. But it’s not Social Security.

Of course, since the system is rigged to favor incumbents, many members of Congress pad their pension payouts for decades. In 2014, CNN Money found 617 former members of Congress collecting pensions.

Meanwhile, what has Congress been doing with your retirement fund?

Using it to cover budget shortfalls. That’s right: Congress has been spending your retirement nest egg to make up for their inability to make tough budget decisions. And to curry favor to ensure re-election. (To earn bigger pensions for themselves.)

How else do you explain Alaska’s infamous “bridge to nowhere”? Or programs like the Osprey – an aircraft the military never wanted?

And – in their ultimate display of cynicism – the Right wants to cut the retirement benefits you’ve already paid for to make up for the tax breaks they’ve given to America’s wealthiest individuals.

Warren Buffet once pointed out he paid a lower effective tax rate than his secretary. Even though his earnings were in the billions. And that was before the crippling Trump tax cuts!

It’s All About the Racism… and Greed

Here’s a shocker: The beneficiaries of programs like Medicaid and food stamps are overwhelmingly white. More than twice as many white families get Medicaid benefits than black families… and they collect food stamps at a 50% higher rate than blacks, as well.

A report from NBC News suggests Trump isn’t able to wrap his head around this. After one proposed cut to welfare programs, a member of Congress told Trump the cuts would harm non-black constituents. His response? “Really? Then what are they?”

Forty years after the Reagan presidency, his “welfare queen” myth still persists on the Right.

Some Americans may have advanced since Reagan took office… But it seems pretty clear his racist ideology is alive and well on the Right today.

Congress ensured their own retirement while throwing away the average American’s savings. Then, the Right blamed it all on African Americans.

Now they’ve screwed you again by giving big tax breaks to the rich… while saying they need to cut the retirement benefits you’ve already paid for.

If that sounds obscene… it’s because it is. Enrich the already rich… and blame any pain on non-whites. This scenario has worked well for the Right for so long.

It’s why the wealth gap has grown to such ridiculous proportions. Congress has helped the rich grow richer at your expense… and then gone along with the story that it’s all because of racial minorities getting a few bucks to feed their kids.

The truth is… Rightists in Congress have won re-election by wasting your retirement fund on questionable projects. Then blaming a relatively small number of people of color for the financial shortfall that results.

Here’s the bottom line: You’ve earned your retirement by paying into it year after year… Any shortfalls are due to Congress using your retirement fund to pay for their own boondoggles… And blaming social welfare programs as a cover for Congress’ failure to act in your best interest.

Dock the Thieves; Not the Victims

Members of Congress stole your retirement fund… not members of some ethnic group. When CNN Money reviewed Congressional pensions in 2014, they found 617 former members were collecting an average of $60,250 a year.

Why should these clowns – who enjoyed perks and benefits throughout their time in Washington – live a lavish lifestyle at your expense? Especially when they stole your retirement to make up for their inability to make tough budget decisions.

Now these crooks expect you to make do with macaroni… while they enjoy filet mignon.

You earned your retirement benefits. You paid faithfully into a system that Congress systematically raped. It’s time for a reckoning.

Demand your rights – and your retirement. Don’t let the Right rob you again… to fund their own cushy retirement.

Let your representatives in Washington know: You’re sick of their B.S. You’ve invested in your retirement for decades. If anyone should pay a penalty, it should be those who stole your savings.

Find out how to contact your Representative and Senators at https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials. Then tell them how you really feel.

Because, if you don’t, you can kiss your retirement investment good-bye.

Bonus Post: Five Tweets That Reveal Trump’s Character

The current administration commits so many scandals and outrages, that it’s nearly impossible to keep up. We have quite a few articles that were abandoned as a more pressing issue came up. Here’s one from earlier this year. It still applies.

 

How anchored is Donald Trump to reality? Well, based on his tweets, not very.  Here are a five spewings that reveal Trump’s character very clearly…

February 25 – Spike Lee Accepts an Oscar

Be nice if Spike Lee could read his notes, or better yet not have to use notes at all, when doing his racist hit on your President, who has done more for African Americans (Criminal Justice Reform, Lowest Unemployment numbers in History, Tax Cuts, etc.) than almost any other Pres!

Lee never mentioned Trump. He praised his grandmother. He remembered the enslavement of his ancestors. And he ended on a positive note:

“The 2020 presidential election is around the corner. Let’s all mobilize. Let’s all be on the right side of history. Make the moral choice between love versus hate. Let’s do the right thing! You know I had to get that in there.”

Why does Trump assume choosing love vs. hate is an attack on him? Sounds like a guilty conscience. Maybe because he knows his “more for African Americans” claim is pure B.S.?

After all, this is the guy who said the Central Park Five should remain in prison… even after DNA evidence completely cleared them.

February 25 – The Border Wall

We have a State of Emergency at our Southern Border. Border Patrol, our Military and local Law Enforcement are doing a great job, but without the Wall, which is now under major construction, you cannot have Border Security. Drugs, Gangs and Human Trafficking must be stopped!

Trump has made several references lately to prayer rugs at the border, women tied up with their mouths covered with duct tape, and other scenes from the Hollywood movie “Sicario.”

None of these scenarios have been recorded on our southern border… but Trump uses them to push for his wall.

And then cannibalized key military projects to add to the wall. Apparently, he doesn’t know the difference between a movie and a documentary.

February 22 – New U.N. Ambassador

I am pleased to announce that Kelly Knight Craft, our current Ambassador to Canada, is being nominated to be United States Ambassador to the United Nations….

….Kelly has done an outstanding job representing our Nation and I have no doubt that, under her leadership, our Country will be represented at the highest level. Congratulations to Kelly and her entire family!

When Trump anointed Craft as ambassador to Canada, the Canadian press noted she had donated more than $265,000 to the Trump campaign in 2016. She and her husband had also donated almost $3 million to other Republican causes.

Her qualifications as a diplomat? Well… One speech to the U.N. general assembly under George W. Bush. Simply put: Money over qualifications.

February 21 – The Jussie Smollett Controversy

.@JussieSmollett – what about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and dangerous comments!? #MAGA

I’m not going to defend Jussie Smolett here… but this seems a bit hypocritical from the man who called Neo-Nazis “fine people” after the Charlottesvlle incident.

And it took him days to make any comment on the Coast Guard officer who planned to kill liberals. Even though he weighed in on the Smollett case almost immediately.

Trump has insulted tens of millions with racist tweets… but hasn’t apologized for any of them.

February 20 – NYT Is “Enemy of the People”

The New York Times reporting is false. They are a true ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!

Once again, Trump directs his hate and anger at the press. At this point, it doesn’t even matter what the story is. Trump is stoking hate – and thus advocating violence – against the press.

The problem is the press is reporting the truth. Trump calls any news story he doesn’t like “fake news.” Then foments violence against the source.

If the New York Times is failing, as he claims… why does he have to spend so much time pointing it out? The NY Times’ subscriber base is one of the most robust in the industry.

Look, if you’re still excusing Trump, it’s time to stop. The man is out of control. And out of touch with reality. How long can you deny the evidence? It’s all on video.

Trump is a racist. He’s anti-American. And he has no respect for our Constitution.

He needs to go.

Is there room for conservatives in America? Absolutely. But only those conservatives willing to work within the bounds of our Constitution.

Our Democracy has lasted for 200 years. Let’s not let one self-absorbed billionaire destroy the greatest political experiment in human history.

The Real Meaning of “POTUS”

“@BarackObama played golf yesterday. Now he heads to a 10 day vacation in Martha’s Vineyard. Nice work ethic.”

  • Donald Trump, Aug 15, 2011

Donald Trump never had a problem criticizing President Obama’s golf schedule. In fact, he posted 27 tweets about Obama golfing before the 2016 election.

For example, in 2016, he tweeted, “While our wonderful president was out playing golf all day, the TSA is falling apart, just like our government! Airports a total disaster!”

And in Dec 2014, he wrote, “Obama has admitted that he spends his mornings watching @ESPN. Then he plays golf, fundraises & grants amnesty to illegals.”

Another Trump tweet from 2014 reads, “We pay for Obama’s travel so he can fundraise millions so Democrats can run on lies. Then we pay for his golf.”

Clearly, this is a man who believes the Commander-in-Chief has no business playing golf. The same man who cancelled a trip to Poland because of Hurricane Dorian… and spent the next two days playing golf.

Um… Commit hypocrisy much?

POTUS = Putter of the United States

As we’ve noted before, sources suggest Trump has spent about 20% of his days in office golfing. This from a candidate who said, “I’m going to be working for you. I’m not going to have time to go play golf.”

Yet he’s found plenty of time to play golf. More than once a week.

Even worse, when Trump plays golf, it costs. And costs big. An Air Force report from 2017 said one of Trump’s golf trips to Mar-a-Lago cost $142,380 per hour for the use of Air Force One.

Then add in millions of dollars for overnight stays for his entourage and security detail… plus the golf carts the Secret Service has to rent, etc. Considering most of these golfing holidays take place at Trump properties… this is a windfall for the president’s company.

So, the Putter of the United States – the guy who would have no time to play golf – is getting rich off America’s taxpayers.

Politifact reports Trump golfed 50% more by mid-2018 than Obama had during the same period of his first term. And Trump hasn’t slowed down any since then, either.

NBC News found Trump visited one of his golf properties on 150 days during his first year in office. That’s more than 40% of that year… spent at – if not on – one of his own golf courses.

This might have been forgivable… except Trump constantly criticized Obama for golfing. And claimed he wouldn’t have time to golf, if elected.

Yet he’s golfed one out of every five days he’s been in office. Including in times of national emergency… like Hurricane Dorian.

The Right was quick to side with Trump against Obama’s “golf habit.” Where are their voices now that Trump has eclipsed his own anti-Obama standard?

*********************************************************

Kirk, J., “The 27 times Donald Trump tweeted about Barack Obama playing golf too much,” SBNation(dot)com. Feb 3, 2018.

Kessler, G. “Fact check: Have U.S. taxpayers spent $72 million on Trump’s golf outings?” The Washington Post. Jul 27, 2018.

Graves, A., et al, “Who plays more golf: Donald Trump or Barack Obama?” Politifact(dot)com. May 18, 2018

Johnstone, L., “Tracking President Trump’s Visits to Trump Properties,” NBC News. Dec 29, 2017.

If They Don’t Like It Here…

We all heard Donald Trump’s latest (as I write this, anyway) racist dog whistle. “Why don’t they go back,” he tweeted about four members of Congress, “and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

Generations of racists have shouted pretty much the same thing to anyone in the U.S. that didn’t look like them. Or speak their language. Or go to their church. Etc.

Now that his base has gotten the message, Trump has been backing off just a bit on the language. Now he’s not saying, “Go back where you came from!” Instead, he’s tempered his message to “If you don’t like it here, leave.”

There are two reasons this message may be even more dangerous than the openly racist “Go back where you came from.” Here’s why…

Nobody Said They Didn’t Like It Here

Trump’s “tempered” message starts with a boatload of lies. Members of The Squad – as they’re now known – hate America. They’re anti-Semitic. They’ve called Americans “garbage” and praised al-Qaida.

Of course, none of these claims are true. Trump is making it all up. Just as he made up the claim that he tried to stop attendees at his rally from chanting, “Send her back!” He basked in the chant till it stopped on its own – a full 13 seconds. Then he said nothing to discourage the audience.

Congresswomen Pressley, Omar, Tlaib, and Ocasio-Cortez have shown they love our country. Their policy stands favor the majority of Americans over the handful of wealthy masters Trump serves. They press for a living wage… universal healthcare… a clean environment… women’s equality… LGBTQ rights… and affordable college. (To name a few.)

All these issues put them at odds with the Trump Administration. And they’re not shy about calling Trump and his cronies out.

Those disagreements are why Trump says they hate America. And he’s willing to fabricate all sorts of horror stories to “prove” it.

Open racism is indefensible. Criticizing those who hate America isn’t. So, Trump has moved on to safer ground. As he so often does.

Give the base a solid shout-out… then back off a bit to a safer path. A path that’s usually paved with lies.

The Master of Hypocrisy

Let’s take Trump at his word for a moment. What he really meant, he tells us, was they can leave if they don’t like it here. And they must not like it, because they’re always complaining.

Okay, fair enough. Let’s look at someone else complaining…

If there’s one thing Donald Trump knows how to do it’s complain. Followed closely by finding fault. So you’d think he’d leave any country or organization he didn’t like, right?

Let’s see how Trump has tweeted about his own political party over the years. Here’s a sampling…

  • Jul 2011 – “The GOP doesn’t waste an opportunity to waste an opportunity.”
  • Oct 2011 – “The GOP primary schedule is a disaster.”
  • Jan 2012 – “The GOP primary is getting very nasty. The candidates need to remember that @BarackObama is the main target.”
  • Jan 2013 – “The worst negotiators in history (otherwise known as Republicans) have just offered to suspend debt ceiling for four months. Pathetic!”
  • Jan 2013 – “@GOP is burying itself. 63% of Republican voters think @GOP Congress is ‘out of touch.’”
  • Feb 2013 – “The ruling @GOP consultant class of losers like @KarlRove have no respect for the Tea Party. They do this at their own peril!”
  • Feb 2013 – “What is wrong with the @GOP? Now they want to give all authority on the sequester cuts to Obama… Pathetic.”
  • Jul 2013 – “Why is the @GOP congress focusing on amnesty when so many Americans are unemployed?”
  • Apr 2015 – “Why are the Republicans giving Obama fast track authority for TPP and the Iran agreement?! Obama gets more from the GOP than his own party.”

And then Trump entered the 2016 race…

  • Jul 2015 – “@GovernorPerry failed on the border. He should be forced to take an IQ test before being allowed to enter the GOP debate.”
  • Nov 2015 – “Going to Ohio, home of one of the worst presidential candidates in history–Kasich.”
  • Nov 2015 – “With Ben Carson wanting to hit his mother on head with a hammer, stab a friend and Pyramids built for grain storage – don’t people get it?”
  • Dec 2015 – “A new poll indicates that 68% of my supporters would vote for me if I departed the GOP & ran as an independent.”
  • Feb 2016 – “Cruz is the worst liar, crazy or very dishonest. Perhaps all 3?”
  • Mar 2016 – Rubio is weak on illegal immigration, with the worst voting record in the U.S. Senate in many years.”
  • Feb 2016 – “Lightweight @JebBush said tonight he didn’t know his family used private eminent domain in Texas- Lie!”
  • Feb 2016 – “Mitt Romney, who was one of the dumbest and worst candidates in the history of Republican politics…”
  • Feb 2016 – “Wow, Jeb Bush, whose campaign is a total disaster, had to bring in mommy to take a slap at me.”
  • Aug 2017 – “Can you believe that Mitch McConnell, who has screamed Repeal & Replace for 7 years, couldn’t get it done.”

And this is just a sampling from Trump’s tweets. No speeches, interviews, or other sources. Just. His. Tweets. And look how he apparently despises the GOP.

Yet he ran as a Republican. Hired the people he trashed during the primaries. And praised others he had so recently run down. What happened to “love it or leave it?” What’s the difference?

The difference is clear. The members of Congress he attacked are women of color. Trump’s message couldn’t be clearer: America is for whites. All others can take the crumbs they’re tossed… or they’re welcome to leave.

And it just doesn’t get any more racist – or anti-American – than that.

**************************************************************************************************************************

Tweets sourced from trumptwitterarchive.com.

Judicial Appointments – Making America White Again

Most Americans think of Supreme Court nominations as the most important. But nominations to the Supreme Court are hens’ teeth compared to openings on other federal courts.

As London’s The Guardian points out, the U.S. Courts of Appeal decided 58,000 cases in 2016… as opposed to just 69 decisions reached by the Supreme Court.

Guess who has the larger effect on legal matters?

99.9% of cases are decided in courts lower than the Supreme Court. Yes; the judges in the highest court of the land wield outsized power… but it’s on an under-sized selection of cases.

Most cases are settled in lower federal courts. And Donald Trump came into office with about 10% of the federal judiciary up for grabs.

So far, 92% of his nominees have been white males – significantly out of line with the make-up of our citizenry. Not since Ronald Reagan has a president nominated such a white male judiciary. And Reagan’s record only just barely beats Trump’s.

A Judiciary That Simply Doesn’t Reflect America

According to USA Today, minority enrollment in law schools has tripled since Reagan’s day. So, it’s not that Trump doesn’t have qualified minority candidates to choose from. He simply passes over them in favor of conservative white males.

Compare Trump’s record to President Obama’s. A third of Obama’s judicial nominees were members of minorities.

Obama worked to make the federal judiciary a closer reflection of the people they serve. Trump is actively working to reverse the trend. And this may be his most dangerous legacy.

Congressmen face election every two years. Senators every six. But federal judges are appointed for life. Many of Trumps white male judges are under 50. Which means they could influence the country’s direction for decades.

Even worse, four of Trump’s nominees have been rated “not qualified” by the American Bar Association (ABA). It’s the first time in 11 years any nominee has received this rating. And Trump managed it with FOUR of his niminees.

Trump’s nominees are often on the fringe. According to The Guardian, one equated practicing Islam to being a terrorist. Another said Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s support for gay rights made him a “judicial prostitute.”

Ideology matters more to Trump than qualifications… and his cronies in the Senate are approving his appointments at a breakneck pace. Even unqualified candidates. And there’s virtually nothing the progressive opposition can do.

Except get out the vote.

If we turn the Senate in 2020, we can block the worst appointments to federal courts. Even if Trump wins re-election. We can keep unqualified ideologues from making outrageous, unconstitutional decisions that warp America’s laws for generations.

That’s what’s at stake. That’s what we have to lose… or to win. Progressives need to organize… to build coalitions… to get Americans out to vote.

If we don’t, America’s Democracy may just go the way of the dodo.

Scheindlin, S.A., “Trump’s new team of judges will radically change American society,” The Guardian. Nov 30, 2017.
Wolf, R., “Trump’s 87 picks to be federal judges are 92% white with just one black and one Hispanic nominee,” USA Today. Feb 13, 2018.

VAWA Vote Reveals the Right’s Priorities

You’d think passing a law aimed at protecting women from domestic violence would be a no-brainer. Anyone convicted of domestic violence shouldn’t have a gun. Right?

But that’s not how the Right sees it. When the law came up for renewal earlier this year, 157 Republican members of Congress voted, “No.”

That’s right. Of 197 Republicans in the House, only 33 voted to offer women continued protection from domestic violence. One voted “present.” All the rest said “no” to shielding women from violence.

How could the Right oppose such a common-sense measure? That’s a good question. And you should know the answer.

Who Thinks It’s a Good Idea for Convicted Criminals to Own Guns?

VAWA – the Violence Against Women Act – came up for renewal this year. Republicans tried to attach a short-term extension to a spending bill. The Democrats were having none of it.

Primarily because House members on the left wanted some changes. Including extending the ban on gun ownership to those convicted of misdemeanor domestic abuse. And closing the infamous “boyfriend loophole.”

The original law banned gun ownership by spouses convicted of domestic violence. But it didn’t specifically include romantic partners outside of marriage.

So, a boyfriend might be convicted of domestic violence, but that didn’t ban him from owning a gun.

These dangerous back-door attempts at gun regulation spurred the NRA (National Rifle Association) to action. They publically opposed the bill. And they let members of Congress know they were watching – and rating – members’ votes.

Yup. The NRA sees denying guns to convicted criminals as a violation of their rights. Because, after all, their crime was “just” a misdemeanor.

But this shouldn’t surprise us. Because the NRA seems to do all they can to keep guns in the hands of convicted criminals.

A History of Idiotic Opposition

It’s the 21st Century. Computers rule. We’ve digitized virtually everything.

Want to know the price of real estate in Castleford, Idaho? Well, I found five homes currently for sale in this tiny town (under 300 residents). Prices range from $64K to $750K.

How about the national dish of Cambodia? It’s Amok trey – a coconut curry dish made with fish.

The oldest known ancestor of the cockroach? According to Yale Scientific, it dates back some 235 million years.

Everything is online today – and searchable within seconds. Except a database of U.S. gun sales.

Because, you see, the NRA opposes matching gun sales to individual buyers. So our beloved Congress made it illegal for the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives) to create such a database.

According to former ATF agent David Chipman, “The gun lobby has been very successful at keeping the ATF as inefficient as possible.” Case in point: The ATF’s budget has barely moved in a decade, while other law enforcement agencies have seen substantial increases.

The NRA also opposed an Obama executive order blocking gun sales to the mentally ill. Just because you’re mentally incompetent, they argued, doesn’t mean you’re dangerous. President Trump obligingly reversed the Obama order in 2017.

The executive order kept guns out of the hands of those mentally incapable of holding a job or managing their Social Security benefits. Just exactly the sort of people you’d want to own assault rifles.

The NRA also lobbies for restrictive “riders” in the ATF budget. These riders typically restrict how the agency can spend its money. Mother Jones magazine reports the NRA characterized the 2011 riders as “Twelve Big Wins for Gun Owners.”

And, in 2013, Mother Jones notes the ATF’s funding document contained ten times more lines devoted to restrictive riders than to the budget itself.

In other words, the NRA consistently lobbies against a key law enforcement agency. And the law-and-order Right plays right along.

America Has to Wake Up

Columbine… Sandy Hook… Marjory Stoneman Douglas… Pulse… Riverside… Pittsburgh.  As the body count piles up, the NRA – and their servants in Congress – stubbornly resist any common-sense gun control.

In October 2017, a lone gunman – armed with multiple semi-automatic weapons – killed 58 people. And caused over 850 injuries.

It took the government more than a year to ban “bump stocks” – after-market devices that effectively turned his semi-automatic weapons into automatic weapons.

“Build parties” across the country let you assemble untraceable AK-47 assault rifles. And a minimal adjustment turns these “ghost guns” into automatic weapons. Technically, it’s mostly within the law, if just barely.

On the NRA’s side? Paranoia. They’ve been warning, “Uncle Sam is coming for your guns,” for years.

Meanwhile, loopholes in our gun laws let people to buy large numbers of guns… and sell them to crooks. They let criminals buy guns at gun shows. Or from private citizens. Because these sales “fall through the cracks.”

Closing these loopholes would be safe and simple. But the NRA continues to fan the flames of paranoia.

Universal background checks would only keep guns out of the hands of crooks… but the NRA sees them as a threat.

The NRA’s position supports gun ownership for the mentally unstable, criminals, and terrorists. All in the name of the 2nd Amendment.

But I’m going to take a wild guess here and say our Founding Fathers never intended for firearms to be readily available to these groups.

Universal background checks… blocking gun sales to the mentally incompetent… adequately funding the ATF. These aren’t radical ideas.

But, as long as politicians on the right are beholden to the NRA, they may be unachievable.

*

Davis, S., “House Passes Bill Protecting Domestic Abuse Victims; GOP Split Over Gun Restrictions,” npr.com. Apr 4, 2019.

“Castleford ID Real Estate,” Zillow.com. Apr 7, 2019.

Kaile, “Recipe: The National Dish of Cambodia – Amok Trey,” ingredientmatcher.com. Nov 8, 2015.

Olson, A., “How Old Are Cockroaches?” Yale Scientific. Sep 15, 2018.

Gorman, M., “Trump Overturns a Mental Health Regulation on Gun Purchases,” Newsweek.com. Feb 15, 2017.

“How the NRA Hobbled the ATF,” Mother Jones Magazine. Feb 11, 2013.

Johnson, K., “Millions of firearms records languish at National Tracing Center,” USAToday.com. Oct 26, 2015.

“2017 Las Vegas shooting,” Wikipedia.com. Apr 6, 2019.

Schatz, B., “I Built This AK-47. It’s Legal and Totally Untraceable.,” Mother Jones Magazine. May 23, 2013.

Why You Should Care About the Green New Deal

Remember the non-existent “death panels” politicians on the Right linked to the Affordable Care Act? Well, they’re doing it again.

Only, this time, they’re attacking the Green New Deal. It will ban planes. It will ban cars. It will ban cows, for crying out loud.

Of course, none of this is true. Here’s what you should know about the Green New Deal… and why it’s important. But first, let’s look at what it’s not.

There’s No Legislation Here

The Green New Deal (GND) is not a bill. It’s a resolution. A resolution is a non-binding statement that outlines a stance. It’s like Congress saying, “Here’s what we think America should do.”

In this case, the resolution outlines some lofty goals. But it doesn’t mandate anything. And it doesn’t even mention most of what Trump – and his allies on the Right – claim.

  • It won’t outlaw cars… or fossil fuels.
  • It doesn’t call for replacing planes with high-speed trains. (Your annual Thanksgiving pilgrimage is safe.)
  • It doesn’t call for the elimination of the military.
  • And it doesn’t ban cows. Or even “cow farts.”

So why the hysteria? Because the Right finds it easier to create a straw man and then pick it apart. You see, they’re completely out of touch on the issues.

A recent survey found almost 7 out of 10 Americans are either “somewhat” or “very” worried about climate change. And that’s the main issue the new resolution says we should face head on.

But it’s tough to agree on finding an alternative to fossil fuels when so much of your funding comes from these industries. So the Right has invented scary scenarios to attack.

Just as they did with the “death panels” that were never a part of the Affordable Care Act.

What the Green New Deal Actually Says

The GND is an outline. It sets goals its sponsors would like to achieve within the next ten years. Is it ambitious? Absolutely. Is it attainable? Possibly. If passed, is it mandatory? Not by a long shot.

Here are some of the GND’s goals…

  • Universal health care and employment
  • Access to higher education and decent housing for all Americans
  • Clean air, clean water, and adequate food for every citizen
  • Modernizing our power grid, repairing infrastructure, and making buildings safer and more efficient
  • Working with farmers and industry to cut pollution and greenhouse gases “as much as technically feasible”

No wonder the Right has gone apoplectic over the GND. Decent housing? Clean water? An end to hunger and poverty? Does that really sound like socialist insanity?

It’s more like a great challenge. Kind of like some challenges we’ve faced before.

Echoing America’s Past Great Moments

The early days of World War II were dark ones for America. The Axis powers were sweeping across Europe, North Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. The attack on Pearl Harbor crippled our navy.

And then Americans buckled down. Millions of men volunteered for national service. Women traded housecoats for wrenches, and “Rosie the Riveters” filled the void. American industrial output soared.

From 1941 to 1945, the U.S. built 2,710 “Liberty Ships.” That’s an average of more than one ship a day for five years. Not to mention airplanes, munitions, uniforms, and all the other requirements of war.

Just a decade before, Roosevelt’s New Deal helped raise America out of the Great Depression.

In 1964, President Johnson declared the War on Poverty. The poverty rate in America plummeted from 26% in 1967 to just 16% in 2012.

In 1961, JFK called on America to put a man on the moon within the decade. On July 21, 1969, Neil Armstrong stepped out of the Eagle lander… and onto the surface of the moon. It was impossible, but we did it.

If we can do all that, why can’t we cut our dependence on fossil fuels? Or ensure that no child in America goes to bed hungry? Or modernize our power grid?

Why not? The answer lies in one word: Greed.

Greed Is in Charge

The Cadillac Escalade is a top-of-the-line SUV. It offers unparalleled luxury. Prices start at $75,195. But let’s say you’d like a nicer model, and round the price up to $100,000.

If you had one billion dollars, you could buy a new Escalade every day for more than 27 years.

A billion dollars is 1,000 million-dollar homes. Or five million-dollar homes in every country on Earth. (Plus a few spares.)

One billion dollars is enough to buy 17 Boeing 737-600 passenger jets. With more than $30 million left over for fuel.

The point is, nobody needs all that stuff. If you have a billion dollars, you have more money than you’ll ever need.

But the current administration is ruled by the moneyed class. Their greed is boundless. They want more, more, more. In fact, they want it all. Clean air and safe highways be damned.

That’s not what America is about. But the Green New Deal is. It’s a framework for making America great again… for all Americans.

Can we achieve its goals? Probably not all of them. Not in ten years, anyway. But if we really apply ourselves, we may just save ourselves from destruction.

Rizzo, S., “What’s actually in the ‘Green New Deal’ from Democrats?” The Washington Post. Feb 11, 2019.
Matthews, D., “Everything you need to know about the war on poverty,” The Washington Post. Jan 8, 2014.