Archive for July, 2017

Elephants Across the Chasm

Like so many instant, distant blatherers, I have had little to add to the discourse lately. Now I note that this morning’s defeat of the most recent Affordable Care Act repeal was a parting cloud that shines a sliver of light.

The cruel and crazy GOP efforts since January had an underlying theme. Both houses of Congress joined with POTUS Trump in spitting screams. “We can do this ourselves. We don’t need any Democrats. We won’t even talk to Democrats. FU!”

Sadly enough, that was almost true. It was also even more toxic sputum. Amusingly enough, Congressional Democrats remain as they have been willing to work with their vile GOP counterparts. There is still one party that cares about little d democracy, process, civility, as well as the commonweal.

There were a few Republican mumbles about maybe doing something with Democrats if all came to naught. This morning some more of them have sighed and admitted it may be time to recognize the existence (and by implication the power) of Dems.

Truth be told

Most Dems were not and are not happy with the A.C.A. and consider it only a solid first step down the path. Quite a few lefties, including this one, want single-payer, the universal health care that works so well in the rest of the industrialized world. We have to live with inefficient, overpriced health policies that keep our levels of health low and our life expectancy under that of the rest of the gang.

Even as GOP types in President Obama’s second term swore they would never let Dems improve the A.C.A. or pass anything meaningful at all, Democrats continued to plead with them to work toward finishing the health legislation.

Since Truman days, the Dems’ best gambit with Republicans has been to let the latter take partial or even full credit. That’s not the way GOP legislators have acted for decades.

Yet in this moment, I suspect this will lubricate the process again. The GOP can save a bit of face by crafting A.C.A. improvements, then proclaiming nothing would have happened without them. Forget that mirror is equally true; just give the little guys their out.

I still want to see a single-payer system, a real overhaul of our bloated and parasitic health care system. The A.C.A. was a start, but only that.

The shift will be from arrogant and obnoxious to merely condescending. That can work. The Dems never slammed and bolted the door.

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Capitalism Made Me Do It

#45, Donald Trump the Elder is again weeping onto his gold cufflinks. This wee melodrama concerns his (and his daughter Ivanka’s) foreign sourcing. In the midst of his ironically misnamed Made In America Week, the House of Trump source their booze, clothes and tchotchkes typically via Chinese or Pakistani sweatshops.

He, honestly truly, pulled out the basest of disingenuities — he and his daughter are forced, forced they tell us, to use the suppliers who offer the lowest prices. That’s the evil corollary of one of the big lies of fantasy capitalism. That is, the only duty of managers is to maximize profit. Anything else is an abrogation of duty of shareholders, a failure.

Well, kiddies. That’s hooey.

First, if capitalism was its perfect version, if supply-and-demand worked as promised, there would be some justification for such amorality. Alas, we live in a nation of oligopoly and monopoly and government protection of and intervention for corporations.

Businesses in general do not respond to the ideal market forces in timely fashion. They really can’t claim they must do this or that when they have real reasons and choices. Nothing demands they be brutal and vicious to make a profit, much less that maximum short-term profit is the only goal.

Pic Note: Public domain image of a 1913 Ford assembly plant.

Let’s think about a serious capitalist, a certain Henry Ford. He loved his money and made a lot of it. Yet he was much, much smarter than #45.

For example, Unlike textile magnates, railroad builders and mine owners, he took a broad view as well as a narrow one (yes, Ford was savvy enough to look short and long simultaneously).

He pioneered the assembly line, but was not a vampire or monster about it. He paid more than other manufacturing owners…and for good reason. As he put it, he wanted his workers to earn enough to buy the cars they made. And they did, which made him even richer than if he had underpaid and overworked them.

Today, this Trump character claims that because he got a transfer undergraduate degree from a good business school and that he didn’t totally blow his multi-million dollar inheritance, he is the epitome of a capitalist. He also claims that he’ll make America great again while hiring American and buying American.

The latter set is total jive. His companies source overseas from the cheapest, from steel to finished goods to contractors. He seems to get the maximum-profit sliver of capitalism. He misses the broad view that Ford understood well.

So, consider whether any of the Trumps or any business owner at all made a slightly smaller profit margin, while helping their workers, industry, state and nation grow and prosper. The mindless subset of self-proclaimed capitalist may scream that the shareholders would never allow that and would force them out.

Of course in Donald and Ivanka’s cases, that won’t happen. They don’t lead public corporations. Even if they did though, the optics and PR of (pause to allow the Ann Coulter types of retch) the gentle altruism of helping the nation and workers would surely hold the day. The greediest of shareholders might switch their investment to a more parasitic company. Meanwhile, we see that socially responsible companies do quite well, thank you very much, and have no problem attracting cash.

Capitalism has its uses, but hiding behind it simply to exploit does not serve anyone in the supply chain or in this case the nation. I fear #45 does not have the brain power to see the issues, much less to lead the nation in solving them.

 

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Inevitable GOP Grudge

About that cliché of elephants never forgetting, U.S. Republicans truly do not, ever. It happened with Nixon and we are still bearing the aftereffects. It’s about to happen again with Trump.

When Pres. Richard Nixon slithered out of the White House in disgrace, that was a not-to-be-forgotten humiliation, for the party more than for Tricky Dick.  That POTUS hopped about between amoral, immoral and criminal. He snuck away before the Senate could impeach him, and then his VP-becoming-President Gerald Ford pardoned him, so he never faced criminal trials and certainty of prison.

Years later, Nixon was re-imaged as a statesman. In fairness, as terrible as he was domestically and as much as he disdained democracy, our laws and the Constitution, he had foreign-policy credentials — much stronger than any Democratic President since FDR.

In those ways of escaping impeachment, get-out-of-jail-free cards, and rehabilitation, he fared much better than he deserved. Nonetheless, the GOP has never forgotten his disgraced exit.

I have no doubt that is why they so eagerly pursued Bill Clinton’s impeachment, constantly threatened Barack Obama with various legal actions, and did beyond their best to smear and bring bogus charges against Hillary Clinton. They don’t, can’t, won’t forget.

So here we are coming around the flee or take-it bend with Donald Trump. As has been the norm with post-WWII GOP Presidents, his appointees and staff are resigning or facing various charges. That won’t stop.

As it all closes in on this young presidency for an old man/boy, at some point he is likely to realize he’s cooked and facing either absconding or impeachment. I have predicted here that he is most likely to play his usual drama queen, quitting while saying the mean old media and Congress won’t let him do wonderful things and save the nation.

While it is possible he might stick it out and take impeachment, I don’t think that would give him the deniability he so often uses.

When he is forced from office one way or another, the GOP also will not forget. Already, they bait-and-switch with Dem miscreants. Of course Bill Clinton accepted fellatio in the White House, former Rep. Anthony Weiner is a pathetic sexter, and a handful of other Dems have run afoul of laws or social norms. They can’t or won’t consider the huge number of their party who are proven crooks, adulterers and worse. It’s key to pretend here.

The point is when Trump stomps away, that will be the real beginning of the newest GOP feud and grudge fest. They will live and act primarily to pay back Dems for anything that happened with their guys, regardless of how many Republicans joined in calling out and punishing Trump and his minions.

Personal responsibility is not a Republican hallmark.

Of course, for the nation, the big pity is that we have much to accomplish to fix problems and to advance us economically, socially and politically. When Republican office holders are as stupid, malicious and counterproductive as they were with Obama, much less gets done.

Still, let’s get on with it. Dump Trump, and accept that the GOP will play at revenge instead of cleaning their own house. As a group, they just don’t have a culture of advancing the nation.

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