Political Civility isn’t just about the Tone of Rhetoric

twentytwentynews, political, civility

Clete Wetli, Contributor

As the nation mourns the loss of a hero and public servant, Sen. John McCain, there are many who have lauded his willingness to work in a bipartisan manner and his civility in public discourse. His passing in the age of Trump certainly highlights the importance of civility in political rhetoric, especially due to Trump’s prior disrespectful and boorish remarks about McCain’s time as a prisoner of war. In fact, Trump is not even welcome to attend McCain’s funeral and that speaks volumes about the despicable character of our current President.

America has seen tremendous change in the political landscape since McCain first ventured into politics in the 1980’s. It seems that in these last few decades, that our politics have become meaner, dirtier, more corrupt, more cynical, and dangerously personal. Since the media tends to focus on that trend, we’ve accepted it and we’re increasingly numb to it even when confronted with an ill-mannered, crass, ignoramus like Trump.

The focus always seems to be on the growing incivility of the rhetoric, but it’s the increasing incivility of conservative and Republican policies that should really concern Americans regardless of party affiliation.

Go ahead and pick an issue. Whether it’s trade or healthcare or civil rights or the environment or education, the new message of conservative Republicans is that you’re on your own and that unless you’re making some significant coin, you better get used to working a lot harder for less. Hell, they’re ready to turn space into a battleground so that they can exploit the natural resources of other planets simply to make more money. They are systematically rolling back civil rights and consumer protections and defunding public education. Their policies are atrocious, and some are downright evil.

Republicans used to have some positive core values and their policies, although arguably myopic, were somewhat digestible. Now, they are rotten with cruelty, racism, entitlement, and unquenchable greed at the deliberate expense of the unfortunate. Their brand of social Darwinism, Machiavellian ideology, and willingness to cheat, has polarized the country. They have proliferated a dangerous virus of propaganda that has infected their followers to the point that they don’t believe basic truths or understand what is happening right before their eyes. It is cultish and powerful. It is terrifying and absurd in our high-tech culture.

McCain seemed to be the last Republican that owned a moral compass or a backbone. That’s why he voted against the travesty that his colleagues attempted to pass off as a health care bill. It’s why he fought for campaign finance reform. It’s why he was not a party to those who bigots would disrespect Obama. McCain saw what the corruption was doing to his party and, sadly, he saw the culmination of its effects when Trump was elected. McCain realized that vitriolic rhetoric was only symptomatic of a far greater problem. The problem was that the Republican party platform and its leadership had been taken over by self-serving extremists. Folks who cared more about their own selfish enrichment than in the ideals that formed our country and kept it strong. Trump simply emboldened and empowered them.

Yes, the rhetoric is disgusting, but it’s Republican policies that seek to ensure that poor children have no healthcare. True, the rhetoric is vulgar, but it’s conservatism that would deny gay marriage and allow legal, institutional discrimination. Sure, the rhetoric is inexcusable, but it’s their policies that are sodomizing the American Dream.

Someone recently described the political polarization in America as a “cold civil war” and that’s fairly accurate if you can ignore the actual casualties caused by Republican policies. It’s not their unhinged rhetoric that should scare you anymore, it’s what they are doing and accomplishing.

As they continue to embrace Trump, they really should be forced to change their name. It does great disservice to men of character like Sen. John McCain when they call themselves Republicans. They all truly have become Republicans in name only.

The incivility of their language wounds us deeply, but it’s their policies that may kill the American Dream.

When Stupid Ruled the Land

twentytwentynews, trump, idiocracy

Franklin, Contributor

(Warning: If you are a Trump supporter, then do not attempt to read this because there are big words and opinions that differ from the one you were told to have. It is recommended that you stare at the picture, get angry, blame Obama or Pelosi, and tweet your outrage using any profanity you can spell without asking for help.)

An iconic moment in the orange toddler-king’s rise to the proverbial high chair of political power was when Hillary Clinton made the remark about Trump’s morally bankrupt and dim-witted supporters being “deplorable”.  Let me tell you, those imbeciles were more outraged than when someone slowly explained to them that “heads I win, tails you lose” was a scam perpetrated by liberal youth. Look, I’ve tried to give the Trumpers the benefit of the doubt, but I’ve come to the certain, inescapable conclusion that they are proud of their stupid dipped in ignorance which is then deep-fried in perpetual mean-spiritedness.

History will remember this era in American politics with chapter titles like, “When Stupid Ruled the Land” or “The Whining Rise of Dolt 45”. It’s beyond comprehension that his cult of cretins celebrates his incoherent misspelled tweets and glory in his uncreative, lame-brained insults; until you remember that the only thing surpassing their staggering stupidity is their capacity for jealous hatred.

Ironically, they are as thin-skinned as their idiot idol who loves to hurl rude epithets against his opponents, but is outraged and wounded when he gets the same treatment. Liberals are used to juvenile attacks and have endured insults from conservatives for decades. But, Clinton calls them “deplorable” and, suddenly, they are calling suicide hot-lines, sucking their thumbs, and re-enlisting their security blankets that they retired when they were eight years old.

Well, I’m done trying to be polite and not discuss the obvious. Trump and his Republican Party are truly a bunch of morons. They’ve put people in cabinet positions that would have to learn a thing or two just to rise to a base level of incompetence. Although, that was part of Trump’s meathead plan, he forgot that the repercussions would have a negative impact on him and his drooling base, as well. For example, his dipshit idea to cut taxes for the wealthiest and deprive people of basic healthcare at a time when the economy is doing well and there are legitimate concerns about inflation and over-valuation in the stock market. Oh, and that little thing about exploding the debt and deficit. Yep, classic dumbass move! However, the Trumpsters are content with their tiny bonuses or raises and don’t see how they are getting screwed. Well, not yet and, to be honest, someone may still need to draw them a picture using stick figures and crayons.

At first, we could all handle Republicans trading in their morality because we knew that they were hypocrites and that it was a sham from the get-go. That’s why they had no problem voting for the mush-for-brains “pussy grabber”.  However, it was surprising that they decided that deliberate ignorance and intellectual dishonesty would be their new rallying cry. Sort of like how during the election the economy was teetering on disaster and America was a shithole, but it somehow magically changed when Trump changed the drapes in the Oval Office to a “Third-World Dictator” gaudy gold.

America is rapidly becoming a kakistocracy, even if Republicans have no clue what that word means. As liberals, we’ve got to come to terms that just because we’re smarter doesn’t mean we’ll win. It’s time to find ways to appeal to people’s emotions again or we’re doomed to be ruled by dumbest and meanest among us.

In the meantime, y’all better buckle up because this is about to get a whole lot worse. Just wait until the bloated orange genius and his sycophants try to react to the unexpected crisis that’s inevitably going to come our way. He’s probably already got a rough draft of the tweet blaming Obama while bragging about the size of the crowd that saw it.

As a nation we’ve survived through many obstacles, I just hope we can survive this new wave of self-inflicted stupidity until 2020. Otherwise, we may as well start banning books, burning scientists and teachers at the stake, and start using Magic 8 balls to guide our policy decisions. In all fairness, I think Magic 8 balls have a better track record than Trump…

 

I had to invent a word to describe it: trumpcompetence

twentytwentynews, politics, surreal times, trump

Franklin, Contributor

The word most often used to characterize Trump’s dazzling ignorance and epic displays of ineptitude is “incompetence”, yet it lacks the descriptive power and intrinsic nuance necessary to accurately depict the terrifying chaos he perpetually creates at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Each and every day, there’s a fresh load of proverbial feces hitting the fan in the Oval Office, thrown from his little hands and spewing incessantly from his incoherent maw.

Look, I’m just a middle-class Canine-American trying to launch a news blog and I am just as tired as everyone else who must write about Trump’s daily tweets, imbecilic gaffes, and his uncanny ability to make decisions that harm all but his elitist golf buddies. I am beginning to wear a thunder-shirt and pop a few doggie downers when I have to watch the news. I’m burying bones in fear of the coming Trumpocalypse. As I watch the tremendous and bigly dangerous buffoonery of Trump, I struggle as an editor, with no opposable thumbs, to find synonyms and idioms to attach to his unique amalgam of stupidity, covfefe, and self-worship.

So, I’ve decided to call it “trumpcompetence”.  Here’s how it would look in a dictionary:

  • trump·com·pe·tence

Pronounced: trəmpˈkämpədəns. Noun. The singular and, heretofore, unmatched ability of Donald John Trump to lie in a pathological manner while performing obscene acts of narcissism and simultaneously engaging in the act of destroying government institutions, norms, and protocols through evil, juvenile intent and/or maladroit amateurishness. Please note: incompetence demonstrates a higher proficiency and success rate than trumpcompetence.

Ex. 1, “His whiny insistence on spending millions of dollars on an unnecessary military parade to prove to Little Rocket Man that his missile was bigger and more potent was, indeed, the height of trumpcompetence.”

Ex. 2, “The Republican Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, decided to release a misleading partisan memo revealing classified information in an ongoing investigation critical of the intelligence community to derail the Trump/Russia probe in a desperate act of trumpcompetence that borders on treason.”

Synonyms: bat-shit crazy, Twitler, dumbfuckery, and trumped-up horseshit.

Antonyms: Obama, proficiency, and “the right way of doing it”.

Thankfully, recorded history has few instances that can be compared to trumpcompetence. Nero fiddling while Rome burned or annual recipients of the Darwin Award bear close resemblance, but fail to match Trump’s stamina and consistency when it comes to screwing things up on a regular basis.

Trumpcompetence also has severe, unintended side-effects that have adversely affected conservatives. For example, they have found ways to justify Trump’s payment of $130,000 in hush money to his porn star mistress to earn a “mulligan” from evangelicals. Conservatives that have succumbed to trumpcompetence suddenly embrace huge deficits, uncontrollable growth in the nation’s debt, and now claim to love unlimited government spending.

Even in Alabama, conservative cognitive dissonance is intoxicating as trumpcompetence threatens to destroy NAFTA, which could eliminate 70,000 jobs in the reddest of red states. Further, they celebrate the trumpcompetence of Attorney General Jeff Sessions as he reignites the failed War on Drugs as the solution to the nation’s opioid crisis, which has left a trail of corpses in Alabama. No matter the failure or suffocating stench of the latest trumpcompetence, they are eager to trade in their core beliefs and values to claim they are worn out from all the winning.

Trumpcompetence is why the White House can’t keep staff or fill the hundreds of key positions that have been vacant for over a year. Trumpcompetence is why a Middle East peace deal is now as elusive as a glimpse of Trump’s tax returns. Trumpcompetence is the brazen arrogance of an orange real estate grifter who thinks that no one will ever figure out his glaringly obvious Russian money laundering operation.

Ah, with fond nostalgia, we miss the incompetence of President George W. Bush because it was a huge step up from the trumpcompetence we’re watching today. Even Trump would have to admit that we “misunderestimated” George Bush’s “strategery”.

Well, we can’t wait to see Trump’s second string of White House staffers. Surely, they will perform with the historic trumpcompetence that we’ve come to expect from a man who’s too busy pleasuring himself during “executive time” to be bothered with classified intelligence briefings.

Something tells me that the events that will likely occur under year two of Trump may make the word trumpcompetence obsolete before it even takes off.

We’ll do this again soon, but I gotta go, I’m suddenly feeling trumpstipated…

Dear Paul Ryan: thanks for the extra $1.50! I’ll try not to spend it all in one place.

twentytwentynews, politics, political, news and commentary

Franklin, Contributor

In a recent, but quickly deleted, tweet by Republican Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, he triumphantly declared the following as a victorious declaration regarding the success of the recent Republican tax cuts:

“A secretary at a public high school in Lancaster, PA, said she was pleasantly surprised her pay went up $1.50 a week… she said [that] will more than cover her Costco membership for the year.”

Hell, yes! What more proof does middle-class America need to show that this wasn’t a massive transfer of wealth to the rich while defunding the federal government?

I just checked my paycheck and I got three extra bucks! Thanks to Paul Ryan, I can finally afford to buy about 140 things imported from China with questionable amounts of lead-based paint at the Dollar Tree or purchase 600 gumballs from the machine in the lobby… that’s 12 rock-hard gumballs a week or 6 stale jaw-breakers!!

Oh, the freedom that this unexpected opulence and wealth brings… I can’t even imagine how many gumballs the Koch brothers can buy with the breaks they got!

It’s totally worth a 1.5 Trillion-dollar addition to the deficit. It’s worth defunding so many necessary government programs. C’mon, it’s not really about my awesome financial windfall (43 extra boxes of Milk Bones a year or one concert ticket), but it’s really about the great give-away to the richest in our nation. You know, the “job-creators”! The wouldn’t take the millions they’re receiving and buy back stock or just spend it on new yachts… they’re all about trickling down every penny of those millions upon us!

Right now, I’m so loving the 3-dollar trickle I just got! At this rate, I’ll only need to wait about 2000 dog-years before I get the kind of Milk Bones that Trump’s average Cabinet Member will get.

I just don’t understand why Ryan deleted that awesome tweet. He should be so proud to deliver a public high school secretary such a hug sack of cash. It probably more than makes up for the shitty 2% COLA raise she gets every ten years on the whim of legislators’ largesse. She’s probably so excited by this that it’s possible she may donate the whole thing to the Republican Party for all their efforts to improve education and the environment. Or, she may use the windfall to buy all the supplies she needs to do her job that the school system just can’t pay for. In any case, they’ve removed so many pesky regulations that she might even toast them with a glass of highly suspect water from the break-room faucet.

Oh, Paul Ryan, you are such a champion for working class folks! We are so grateful for the few unexpected bucks you gave us each week. We totally understand why you and your millionaire friends feel entitled to much, much, much, more. It’s only fair, because you guys are the sacred “job creators”!

With the stunning success of these tax cuts, we can’t wait to see what happens now that so many people won’t have access to affordable health insurance. We can’t wait for you to apply this same philosophy to banking regulations or clean water or civil rights. We’ll just sit right here and patiently wait for your amazing trickle down. We love getting trickled on.

So, as we calculate and plan how we’re going to spend our bountiful tax-savings, we just want to thank you, Paul Ryan. You’re the heavenly mix of Eddie Munster and P90X. I plan to borrow $30 so I can afford to buy the Ultimate P90X kit with my extra money this year!

Unfortunately, I’ll never be able to afford your hairstyle or your divine ability to describe a turd as the gift we’ve been waiting for all our lives. Either way, us middle-class folks will try not to spend all our newfound wealth in one place. Thanks, Paul, you’re the fucking best!

“I cannot recall”: the rapid descent into Trump’s “shithole”

trump, shithole, twentytwentynews

Clete Wetli, Contributor

When asked about Trump’s mind-numbingly racist and vulgar comments regarding immigration from “shithole” places like Haiti and Africa whilst the “stable genius” pined for more white Norwegians to come to America, repugnant Republican Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue respectively claimed, “I cannot recall”.

Oh, the “selective memory defense” so expertly wielded by intellectual giants like Jefferson Beauregard Sessions and so many others of his ilk as they attempt to defend the indefensible.

Despite confirmation that all the other Senators present in the discussion heard Trump spew this insult, Cotton and Perdue issued a joint statement saying, “We do not recall the president saying those comments specifically but what he did call out was the imbalance in our current immigration system, which does not protect American workers and our national interest.”

They just eagerly jumped into Trump’s “shithole” gleefully joining him in defecating on statesmanship, protocol, and, most importantly, the truth.

Since the “shithole” comments became public, the airwaves have been full of hysterical right-wing pundits trying to justify Trump’s banal vulgarity and feebly denying his clear history of racist remarks. They sound disingenuous, foolish, and weary; for they know that they have sold their character and souls.

In a year’s time, Trump has done the unimaginable. He is single-handedly turning America into a “shithole” by haphazardly destroying critical environmental, financial, and educational regulations. He is widening wealth disparity with his crappy tax policy that overwhelmingly benefits the rich. He has diminished our stature on the world stage and has recklessly promoted violence and international conflict.

Every week it’s a new controversy, a new embarrassment, and a collective gasp as “the bar” plumbs new unfathomable lows. Yeah, right after “shithole-gate”, the latest news is that Trump’s personal lawyer paid out $130,000 in hush money to a porn star so that she wouldn’t go public about her sexual encounters that presumably ended in a Trump hump.

(Don’t feel bad, I got just as queasy as you did.)

There’s no greater joy today in America than sitting down at the kitchen table with your young children having to explain the meaning of “shitholes” and porn stars simply because they came in the room while you happened to be watching the evening news.

It has become simultaneously exhausting and enraging to write about Trump’s efforts to turn America into a “shithole”, while he and his wealthy sycophants find more ways to line their own pockets at the expense of everyone else.  Of course, the Trumpian wealthy are willing partners because they cannot smell the putrid shit from the lofty heights of their gaudy, gilded-towers.

Somehow, he has turned conservatives and Republicans into craven, willing ball-gagged gimps who purposely overlook his abuses, incompetence, misogyny, racism, and pathological selfishness.

Indeed, a year of Trump has been a spectacular shit show and the “shithole” he has created is about to overflow. Democrats will have to strongly unite, find their best shit shovel, and show up to the polls. Republicans, the ones with any decency or dignity left, will have to stand against the monster they created. Otherwise, Trump’s shit will just keep getting deeper and spread even farther.

Things are at a point now where I cannot tolerate Trump supporters. It’s not so much their warped political agenda, but blindly supporting Trump says much about their character, their capacity for cognitive dissonance, and their festering hatred for “others”.

So, Cotton and Perdue claim “they cannot recall” any sort of shit that may have hit the proverbial fan.  They are happy to be on the front lines of Trump’s “shithole” construction project that will rapidly turn America into the land of “haves and have-nots”.

We must remove Trump. He cannot be wished away, or as the saying goes, “wish in one hand and shit in the other and see which one fills up quicker.”

Prosecuting cross-over voters just more Republican intimidation

voter, suppression

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill and the Alabama Republican Party should be ashamed of themselves, but we know that they are incapable of shame. That would infer that they had some degree of political conscious. It would also mean that they wanted more people to participate in the election process given the dismal turn-out numbers, but their actions show that’s clearly not the case.

Last year, Alabama legislators in the Republican supermajority passed a bill making it a felony for voters who participated in a partisan primary to vote later in the runoff of the opposing party. There wasn’t any significant effort to educate voters about the rule change and it appears that 676 Alabama voters, all Democrats, unwittingly violated this absurd law.

John Merrill wants to put them in jail and ruin their lives with a felony conviction.

At every turn, Republicans have tried to make it harder for people in Alabama to vote. Obsessed with the fantasy of rampant voter fraud, they’ve passed voter ID laws which are nothing more than a poll tax. Now, they’re threatening to put in people in jail and label them as lifelong felons just because they may not have understood this new ridiculous law. This is nothing more than intimidation and another Republican ploy to keep poor and minority voters away from the polls.

Perhaps, it would be a much better use of Merrill’s time to expand voting rights. Maybe, we could increase early voting or change the election day to Saturday or Sunday so that people wouldn’t have to take off work to cast a ballot. It may sound crazy, but shouldn’t we be more focused on automatic voter registration instead of creating more barriers to exercising a fundamental American right?

If we’re going to have this stupid cross-over voting law, wouldn’t it make sense to register by party affiliation like they do in other states? Well, it would make sense unless you’re a Republican hoping to put some voters in jail as a way to intimidate Democrats from showing up to the polls.

Their efforts to suppress voting aren’t all that surprising considering the lengths they’ve travelled to implement widespread gerrymandering in Alabama. Since they can’t seem to win with their regressive policies, they’ve taken to rigging the system every chance they get so they can falsely claim they have a huge legislative mandate. It’s time for Alabama Democrats to make this a central campaign issue and call these cheaters out publicly as often as possible.

Alabama Republicans have been hard at work for years trying to suppress voting and gerrymandering districts because they know that demographics are rapidly changing. They know that their predominantly older, white male base is shrinking rapidly. They know that less people are falling for their faux morality and bogus family values platform. They know that if they make it harder to vote, less people will exercise their rights and that plays right into their nefarious plan.

We’ve got to do more than just make legal challenges. We’ve got to make sure that the people of Alabama understand how this is impacting them. We can do that by making sure the media covers this issue. We can also challenge our current leadership to discuss these issues publicly. We can’t be satisfied with voter suppression being third page news. It negatively affects everyone in the state.

John Merrill and his Republican cronies need to quit messing with our voting rights. Instead, he should be focused on doing his job, which should include making it easier for all eligible voters in Alabama to exercise their rights.

Jailing cross-over voters and giving them a felony record is a pathetic waste of taxpayer dollars and a travesty. Stop this insanity.

Hey, DNC! Alabama could really use some help

Alabama, Life, Support

Clete Wetli, Contributor

This last week, Politico featured an article about Democratic senatorial candidate, Doug Jones, which basically indicated that the Democratic National Committee, or DNC, wishes him all the best from a distance, but won’t offer any significant support. Alabama Democrats have come to expect this. The DNC logic is to refrain from wasting valuable resources in a state where they have very little chance of success. Further, after numerous complaints about the failed leadership of ADP Chair Nancy Worley and her cohort Joe Reed, they refuse to intervene in any substantial way claiming they don’t feel right interfering in state party business.

The folks at the DNC need to get it through their pundit brains that Alabama could really use some help. We need something here to generate some excitement or risk generations of irrelevancy and political impotence.

The supposed Democratic ‘Summer of Revival’ that was scheduled to take place in Alabama was more like a solemn pauper’s funeral that no one bothered to attend.

With Republican morons like Luther Strange and Roy Moore as competition, an accomplished Democrat like Doug Jones has a small, but realistic chance of winning the senate race. He’s got a real plan and he’s campaigning as hard as he can. But, he needs a lot more money and lot more help. The general public needs to feel that something exciting is happening in the race and right now they have the enthusiasm of a kid who’s been forced to watch paint dry. Alabama Republicans are treating the Democrats like they’re a third party with no viable chance of winning and the worst part is that Democrats are letting them.

The underlying problem is that the DNC has written Alabama off as hopeless. They are ignoring our pleas for help. On top of that, Worley and Reed are quite content to remain big fish in a pond that’s getting smaller every year so long as they get an expense paid trip to the annual convention.

Now, there have been some admirable efforts like Organize Alabama, Emerge, the Alabama Democratic Reform Caucus and several other groups that are making a positive difference. Also, there are some new leaders like AL House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels, who have done their best to keep the party alive through effective messaging. Yet, for every one step forward, we seem to take two steps back. Something must change dramatically and it needs to change right now!

First, Democrats need to rise up and demand new leadership in the state party. Protest and make some noise! We seem more concerned about protesting Confederate statues than the pathetic leadership in our own party that prevents us from having any real voice in state politics. Of course, the monuments need to go, but it’s more important we get rid of our deadweight in Montgomery so the we finally have a chance of winning some statewide elections. Quit attending the sham state executive committee meetings that allow Worley and Reed to continue their reign of incompetence, exclusion, and apathy. Stand outside with a megaphone and get media coverage until the DNC finally pays attention to Alabama. Demand better and don’t stop until you get it.

Second, flood the DNC with calls and letters. We’ve sent them plenty of money and we need their help and their involvement. They need to know that we won’t stand for them writing off our party in Alabama. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link and the link called Alabama is about to snap! Their Southern Strategy of strategic patience sucks and we need to tell them loudly.

Last, find it in your heart to get passionate about Doug Jones and help this guy win. He deserves to win. Get involved and help generate some excitement about this race. So far, all I keep hearing is the self-fulfilling prophecy of unavoidable defeat. Let’s change that narrative now. We can grow or continue to wither.

It’s time to rise up and be heard.

Read the Politico Story

 

Trump tax reform just makes the rich richer

Trump, Tax, Plan

Clete Wetli, Contributor

Like most things that Trump hawked during his contentious campaign, his tax reform plan was purposefully ambiguous and sold as huge windfall to the middle-class. Of course, now that he’s been forced to put down some specific details, it looks like it’s nothing more than a huge tax break for the richest Americans and wealthiest corporations.

No surprise that Trump would endorse a plan that puts even more money in his own pockets and those of his obscenely wealthy friends while proposing huge cuts in programs that benefit the middle-class and poor. He desperately wants to lower the corporate tax rate and keeps saying that it will benefit working class Americans. What he fails to mention is that a reduction in the corporate rate will, indeed, boost profits, but companies will simply see their stock prices rise and use the extra cash to pay their shareholders higher dividends.

Just like Reagan’s ‘voodoo economics’, Trump’s ‘screw you’ economics isn’t going to result in companies hiring more workers or raising salaries. In fact, corporate America is currently sitting on tons of cash and the stock market is going gangbusters and nobody is going out of their way to significantly expand or raise wages. True, we’ve seen cautious, incremental growth, but certainly not at the same explosive rate that we’ve seen profits soar.

Trump’s ‘screw you’ economics is just another version of failed Republican trickle down. The problem is that not much trickles down because the rich tend to hoard their profits. This is why there continues to be widening wealth disparity and it’s why our middle-class continues to get slowly squeezed out of existence.

In Trump’s ‘screw you’ plan, he also intends to eliminate the estate tax and cut the top marginal income tax rate. Hmm, that sounds like a big gift to Trump’s offspring and their progeny for generations to come. Oh, but wait, there’s more in Trump’s ‘screw you’ strategy- his plan would really raise taxes on the poor by eliminating the head of household deduction for single parents. You know, the people that could use a deduction the most.

Ivanka probably threw that one in after she endorsed the roll back of Obama-era policies that would have eliminated the gender pay gap. As an advisor to Trump, Ivanka sure knows how to be a champion for single, working moms. Remember, she gave women invaluable advice saying,” You can be born into privilege, or you cannot be born into privilege. You can be born into the opposite extreme and into poverty. I think from there on, though, you really do have to make your luck.” Don’t you just feel so damned lucky that she’s on your side?

Well, at least Trump has been forced to release a few details of his scheme. We’re all still waiting for the details on his top-secret plan that was supposed to eliminate ISIS months ago. Oh, we’re also still waiting on that amazing magical healthcare plan that insures absolutely everyone at much lower cost and much higher quality. Remember, Trump’s plans are the best because no one knows plans like Trump knows plans- he invented plans.

So, be sure to call your congressmen and tell them what you think of Trump’s ‘screw you’ economics before people start buying all his tax reform snake oil. They are going to market it as a simplification of the current code and they’re going to try to rebrand ‘trickle-down’ economics. Just remember who got trickled on the last time the Republicans tried that scheme.

What we really need is to reform the tax code so that rich people actually pay their fair share of taxes instead of taking advantage of tons of loopholes and tax shelters that are only available to them.

Trump’s plan is like most things that he creates- a gaudy façade to hide a scam that only benefits Trump and his wealthy friends.

GOP sells the last of its soul to Trump

sell, soul, devil, trump

Clete Wetli, Contributor

As disgusted Americans watch the media label each ensuing week as the ‘worst’ in Trump’s chaotic and destructive fledgling presidency, it’s also worth noting that the GOP has collectively shown that it has sold the last of its conflicted soul to Trump to appease his angry white, immovable base. It began during the campaign when Republican leaders failed to loudly condemn Trump’s incessant racism and sexism, and gleefully ignored his daily tempest of bold, outrageous lies.

The GOP has decided that scrupulous statesmanship only exists in direct proportion to opinion polling. Republicans have abandoned moral principles to cater to the basest of their base.

What strange times these are when Trump’s business advisory council resigns in protest over racist remarks, but Trump’s evangelical advisors remain to announce they are increasingly confident that the Almighty has personally chosen the Orange Duck-tailed One as America’s savior!

This goes beyond AG Jeff Sessions weird explanation of ‘pussy grabbing’ or Speaker Paul Ryan’s observations on the definition of racism during the Judge Curiel fiasco that fell on Republicans deaf ears. This speaks to a horrible truth that Democrats have known for some time. Republicans want to make sure that they keep the bigot vote. They want the sexist vote. They need the votes of craven people who don’t give a shit about anything or anyone so long as they’re making piles of money. Trump was perfectly clear in his intent when he called out to ‘the poorly educated’ because he knew he could buy their votes with a cheap red hat.

This is not only a larger portion of the GOP base than anyone cares to acknowledge, but they desperately want to continue to keep the nation focused on identity politics and endless war against global terrorists predicated on paranoia and exacerbated by xenophobia. In practice, it’s why Trump is fueling this national debate over Confederate statues. We know that it’s monumental stupidity, but while we’re busy fighting this racial nonsense, the Democratic plan for a ‘Better Deal’ has been drowned in the cacophony.

Of course, we should demand that Confederate statues be removed, but we’ve also got to highlight the Democratic plan for economic growth, better education, and ensuring equality through humane policy and good governance. Democrats cannot become the mirror image of Republicans by simply running against the symbolic image of Trump and his delusional, self-centered minions.

We’ve seen the evils of populism in the era of Trump as evidenced by a morally bankrupt Republican party. Democrats, indeed, must stand by their principles and give voters a compelling reason to vote for progress instead of merely rallying oppositional support to obstruct Trump’s regressive agenda.

The now soul-less Republican party will continue to support Trump until it’s physically impossible to lower the bar any further. Yet, Democrats will only be able to take advantage of this if they have a positive, sensible plan expressed with simple, powerful messaging.

The GOP will continue its attack on Democrats with ‘weapons of mass distraction’, but we must resist and not fall into their cynical and twisted traps.

It may sound melodramatic, but this has become a political fight that will redefine the existential meaning of America for generations. Liberals should take a new and detailed look at FDR’s policy and messaging. It’s time to take our Democratic soul back from Wall Street. Liberals should discover ways to control the narrative proactively. Liberals can’t play defense anymore and expect to win. Liberals should own their moniker and lead decisively.

The Republicans have sold their soul to Trump and draw their strength from cynicism, skepticism, deception, and division. Let’s call them out on their bullshit, but more importantly, let’s give America something to believe in again.

Our greatest enemy is apathy borne out of self-imposed defeatism for feeling that nothing can change for the better.

POO (Party of One), Part Four

elderly, POO, part of one

Bernie Morgan, Contributor, POO (Party of One), Part Four, Fictional Installment Series

US Home Guard

All assisted living facilities in the US were taken over by the military when the new law was enacted, and the takeover included inducting all citizens living there who were over the age of 65. This made sense because residents in those facilities could be inducted and yet stay right where they were while they guarded the homeland. Many lawmakers saw this tactic as a stroke of genius and definitely a cost saver. Military training for this group consists of light marching on the assisted living facility grounds while carrying mops and brooms. In addition, basic self-defense skills are taught.  Bedpans are stated to be a  weapon of choice;  full for throwing and empty for hitting. Residents are occasionally so battered from training that they have to be moved to a nursing home, but casualties are always expected, even in peacetime, so it’s no biggie. Plus, one or two die periodically from training, and the others quickly ransack their rooms and take their possessions. It’s called survival of the fittest; it’s not a new concept.

When the announcement was made concerning the assisted living takeover by the military, a lawsuit was immediately filed on behalf of other senior citizens who are being forced to leave their home towns  to perform their military service; they want to stay where they are if they are going to be drafted. According to a leaked secret government memo, the hope is that the angry ones will die before their cases come to trial. In addition to that little issue, a surge was noted in new resident assisted living requests; suddenly, thousands of senior citizens have intense desires to live in assisted living facilities in their respective communities. An un-funded federal study is now underway to determine why.

Tony, 72, and living in Wisconsin, has been assigned to the home guard Intelligence unit in his hometown of Menomonie – he has been a resident of the Menomonie assisted living facility  for 6 years. He has been almost totally blind since suffering an injury in an industrial accident 30 years ago – he was working in a large cheese factory  in Eu Claire and was blinded by a large amount of preservative that splashed in his face. He went out on disability with a promise (that was never kept)  of receiving an abundant supply of cheese for the rest of his life in addition to his monthly pension. Each time he’s asked about the cheese, and gets the runaround, his reply is the same: “Lyin’ sons-of-bitches.” Because he has little eyesight, he has a keen sense of hearing and he eavesdrops constantly. He is, therefore, very good where intelligence is concerned. His main task is to report any suspicious conversations that he overhears, and there have been times that he has turned in fellow citizens (and several residents where he lives) when he felt they were being un-American. On one occasion, after ratting a guy out, and lying while doing it, he was able to get that guy’s soon-to-be-vacated large room for himself.

Jared put his name in to go to assisted living when he developed severe arthritis and everyday chores became a burden. Plus, he can’t stand that son of his – or that evil woman he hooked up with – even going to hell is preferable to living with those two and that pack of brats they have running around everywhere. He was one happy guy when he finally got a unit at the Happy Trails assisted living facility in his hometown in Florida. He is not so happy now that he has been inducted and is expected to perform official duties each day, but he is doing his best.

Blanche, who lives in a facility in Mississippi, takes her duties  “in the guard” very seriously. She keeps binoculars around her neck during all waking moments and uses them to periodically scan the horizon. She has no problem at all with walking up to individuals on the street and asking  them to show their identification. She claims to be a descendant of William Faulkner, but says she can’t write worth crap and nobody disputes it. She is known in her assisted living facility for the vivid colors in her wardrobe – she loves bright, large prints even though she is a large woman herself. Her favorite saying is, “Honey, if you’ve got it, you should flaunt it.” Nobody knows exactly what she means by ”it” and nobody has the nerve to ask. Anyway, at 72, she is still spry in spite of her size.

New Fodder

By 2035, it had become apparent that many of the wealthy elderly were finding ways to avoid military service so, basically, the less affluent were serving their country, which was certainly not a new concept in America. As the number of eligible inductees in the general population dwindled, instead of tightening up the rules, and holding people accountable, wise politicians started eyeing prisons throughout the US as a new source of “fodder.” Many of the inmates were poor, and the fake justification the politicians used to release them was that they saw this as a way to make amends: shorten the lengthy sentences the inmates had been given, even for relatively minor crimes. (They made it appear that they were trying to atone for the injustices that had been done, but they didn’t actually give a rat’s ass about that.) The  politicians said they felt that being “on the outside,” even if the inmates were inducted into the military, was preferable to prison.  Thus, many inmates soon found themselves released and in the military; of course, they were never asked whether they wanted to join or not. The southern and western states were the first ones to start releasing inmates, but the northern, central and eastern states all followed within 6 months.

Terry, from Utah, was one of the first to be released. He was serving 10 years in the Utah State Prison for robbing a liquor store with a toy gun. He was one of the really happy ones to be set “free,” and he happily took the loyalty pledge that was required of the newly-freed prison inmates. He swore, under oath, to keep his nose clean and to do his best to support the policies, rules and regulations of the US military. He was soon on his way to patrol the border. Five days after he arrived in Texas, he crossed over to the “other side” and became a citizen of Mexico. The last anyone heard, he had become a banker, joined a mariachi band on the weekends and had married a calypso dancer named CheeChee.

Adam, from Georgia, was also released and he is happy that he’s out of prison and happy that women are also being inducted and made to serve. His attitude is, “Let them also get their asses kicked.” This is a strange position for him because he’s never wanted women to have equal rights – that has never been a cause for him to rally around.  He was raised in a home with no father, but with a domineering mother and a mean older sister, and both of them routinely beat him with belts and whatever else was handy. His opinion never counted, his feelings were never considered, and nothing ever went his way. He learned to hate all women and the few sexual relationships he had been in had turned out badly. One day, when he was 22, he beat both his mother and his sister half to death and, for that offense; he received 20 years in the pen. However, all is forgiven now because his country needs him, and he is happy to answer the call. He is many things, but unpatriotic is not one of them. (Seven weeks after being released, he raped and beat a fellow female recruit while inspecting cargo in Miami; there has been no sighting of him since.)