Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Trump Speaks!


by Skip Kaltenheuser

Occasionally scribble on politics and sooner or later public relations enterprises will find you. The moment President Trump finished up, emails came knocking on my inbox.

I’d like to highlight a few of the more welcome ones. Two came from Patriotic Millionaires. The couple hundred or so well-heeled members push political equality, sustaining wages and the quaint notion that wealthy people and corporations should shoulder a larger share of the tax burden. They disapprove of Trump’s push to repeal the Affordable Care Act and its funding from taxes.

According to Morris Pearl, former managing director at BlackRock and chair of Patriotic Millionaires, "The ACA taxes-- capital gains, dividends, and interest-- target the wealthiest amongst us. The tax code already taxes their income at much lower rates than wages; gutting the ACA funding would only further add to our already egregious levels of economic inequality. Wealthy Americans do not need yet another tax cut, we need a funded government to sustain a growing economy. That’s what will truly benefit all Americans.”

The second message from this group focused on Trump’s proposed tax cuts. Says Pearl, “In an economy that is 70% consumer driven, the last thing we need to do to grow and sustain our economy is give millionaires yet another tax cut. The exhausted policies of 'trickle-down economics' have failed spectacularly. President Trump needs to rethink his goals-- rather than offer these faulty tax cuts to our nation’s wealthiest, he should instead commit to a $15 minimum wage. Business owners and investors need consumers with more disposable income. President Trump should work to improve the lives and wallets of the lower and middle class because that is how we all prosper.”

The group’s issues can be explored here.

Another email came from afar, from Mexico Presidential Candidate Margarita Zavala. I don’t know anything about her except she’s a former first lady of Mexico and a former law professor, but I thought her words were well-chosen. "Tonight, we saw a speech by President Trump that continues to put Mexico as a problem for the U.S., and continues to nourish hate speech that divides, polarizes and engenders enmity and mistrust. President Trump does not value how important it is for America to have a constructive and beneficial relationship with our country. He puts the relationship with Mexico as a 'zero sum game' in which the profits of one are the losses of the other and that is patently false... Pres. Trump’s call for a wall is offensive and useless, it is a solution to a problem that does not exist. The United States is more prosperous, safer and more competitive thanks to the alliance with our country…” Saying that her country was not adversarial to America but was complimentary, she noted that "Mexico is the second destination of US exports and the first of exports from California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. We buy more products from USA than Japan, Germany and UK together and Mexican tourists spend more than 18 billion dollars a year in the US.”

One email was from a group called Define American?, which had a press conference at the National Press Club Wednesday morning. The group aims to educate the public on the contributions of undocumented immigrants. One of the offerings at its site is #factsmatter, offering a statistical perspective to mitigate inflammatory distortions of immigrants’ interactions with America. Speakers include folks who were interpreters for American forces in the Middle East, a risky task.

I won’t attempt to parse ideal immigration policies, other than they ought to be less ham-handed and bone-headed than what we’ve been treated to lately.

The recent shooting in Olathe, Kansas by some crazy targeting two engineers from India because he thought them Iranian, as well as a brave local who ignored the peril to intervene, was startling to me. Growing up in Prairie Village, a suburb of Kansas City, I knew old Olathe well. My late dad rented a pasture there to board a few horses. Before Olathe became part of suburban sprawl, when my traveling salesman father was home on weekends we rode all over much of that area that is now covered with homes. I can’t imagine anyone was more shocked by the tragedy than the people living there. Nice people. And various enterprises are giving them a lot more international exposure than I had growing up.

The other night in Washington, DC I was driving home from an event at the French Embassy for the Island of Martinique, feeling like I’d just been abroad. In record-breaking February warmth, the top was down on the ’66 Corvair, which was purring until it wasn’t, when smoke was wafting out of the engine that started sounding like a banshee. Broken fan belt. Midnight in DC is still pretty active. Cars were stacking up on a narrow street behind me as I struggled to push my car out of the way. Suddenly a half dozen guys appeared from nowhere, not from the cars behind me, just from the street, and helped shove my car into an alley. Central American accents. After the car cooled, I waived down a driver who was from Guatemala. He cheerfully pulled into the alley and got out his cables and got the Corvair going again, long enough to get home. The next day my Vietnamese mechanic and his home country crew put everything right. Half the time I take a problem to him, it’s a quick fix and he waives off the charge. I’ve never questioned the fairness of a billing.

I felt lucky to have these people from the far flung here, just as helpful in a pinch as people in Kansas would have been.

UPDATE: Howie Was Collecting Reactions Too

Let's start with Elizabeth Warren, who should have been the one to give the rebuttal in my opinion. "There’s nothing," she wrote right after the speech, "about Donald Trump’s vision for America that will make America great."
Racism, sexism, bigotry and hatred have no place in our country.
Tearing apart immigrant families and banning Muslims is against everything this country stands for.
Ripping health care out of the hands of millions of Americans is irresponsible and cruel.
And gutting the rules, firing the cops, and handing over the keys to our economy to the billionaires and giant corporations won’t level the playing field for working families.
But I’ll give him credit: Donald Trump did say something true in his big speech tonight. The earth did shift beneath our feet in 2016. Quiet voices did become a loud chorus. An earthquake did unite us.
Just not the way President Trump thinks it did.
The American people are ready to fight back against Trump’s hateful and dangerous agenda. They’ve shown it at marches and protests and all across the country. They’ve shown it through petitions and phone calls and social media.
Millions of Americans in Massachusetts and across this country are ready to fight back for basic human dignity and respect for every human being. And they’re ready to fight back for economic opportunity-- not for billionaires like Donald Trump, but for everyone.
Another champion of the congressional resistance, Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), wrote with laser focused precision that Trump's "rhetoric did not match reality. He said things that sounded good, but they were the opposite of his actions and rhetoric of the past. He repeated falsehoods about immigrants to justify the logic behind his inhumane and barbaric executive orders that have thrown our immigration system into complete and utter chaos. Instead of offering specifics and a plan to expand health care for all, President Trump, once again, called for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act leaving millions without health insurance. He talked about tax relief for the middle class, but the Trump tax plan is nothing more than a big tax break for the rich. He mentioned reducing poverty, but in fact his budget blueprint would decimate the very social safety net programs that help people climb out of poverty. It was surreal to listen to President Trump talk about 'draining the swamp' after he’s appointed billionaires, lobbyists and Washington-insiders to top posts in his cabinet. I firmly believe that we’re all better off when we’re all better off. We need to shift our focus from fear mongering to creating jobs, expanding health care for all, protecting our planet for our children. Tonight, we got few specifics for any real plans and a slightly softer version of the divisive Trump agenda."

It was Pramila's first State of the Union. Raul Grijalva had been to many. This one, he said was "was a well-scripted, well-rehearsed presentation. But it was also exactly what we know to expect from Donald Trump: the bluster never stops, and the facts never matter. Tonight’s speech was no different. Trump used the stature of our nation’s most prestigious venue to continue vilifying immigrants and generalizing America’s needs without offering content. If anything, Americans hoping for details from their new president were left with more questions than answers. Blatant omissions defined tonight’s speech far more than the few details it offered. What is Trump’s plan for future of public education now that the Department is run by someone who dedicated her career to ending its existence? The same should be asked about the Environmental Protection Agency now that it’s run by an oil industry hack. And where are the details on replacing the Affordable Care Act? Or even some simple accounting in an actual budget? Americans got no answers to these questions tonight. Here is what we do know: Trump can’t pass his own legislation-- he needs Congressional Republicans to carry out his policies. They will be responsible for any reckless policies they rubberstamp, and in many cases, equally culpable in their creation. The American people have a safeguard against the worst intentions of this administration: it is to hold their Congressional leaders accountable."

Luis Gutiérrez, the Chicago congressman who came up with the idea of boycotting the inauguration, went to the speech last night-- and was dismayed, but probably not surprised, by Trump’s call for greatly reduced legal immigration and a "merit-based" admissions system to reduce the legal immigration of low-skilled immigrants and his restatement of the lie that immigrants are a source of higher crime in the U.S. and that a wall will be an effective immigration or border security measure. 
The President is lying when he says he supports immigration reform in any meaningful sense. He spent most of his speech denigrating immigrants, tarring our community as criminals, drug-dealers, and killers and we cannot stand for it. He is dressing his mass deportation plans up in nicer language, but hearing every Republican applaud the President’s hateful words is very disheartening.

The President sees Latinos and immigrants as threats, as criminals, and as killers. He highlights the crimes that some immigrants have committed in an effort to turn the American people against immigration. He envisions an immigration system where quotas for PhD’s are set in Washington and the multitude of immigrants who built this country and who keep it flourishing would not be welcome. The Latino community won’t forget and won’t let that happen. And the millions of allies we have who support immigration as a fundamental and integral aspect of America’s greatness will not forget either.

The President’s speech was ripped from the pages of Breitbart and you could imagine Steve Bannon’s lips moving with every sentence. Bannon and Trump’s vision of an isolated and vengeful America, with a less diverse population and greater walls and motes is an ugly and fear-based vision.

I also found his characterization of Chicago as a murderous hellscape unfair, especially because I do not believe for an instant that Trump wants to do anything meaningful for the residents of our great city, anything to invest in jobs or in safer streets. It was a gratuitous jab at our city and I resent it.

The President has taken America around a sharp bend, veering towards a nation that is looking backwards and fearful of the future.
Mark Pocan, the congressman from the Madison, Wisconsin area reminded his constituents that we've all "heard the President stand in front of a teleprompter and deliver a speech full of empty promises and self-serving boasts before. At the end of the day, what matters to hard-working people in this country struggling to make ends meet are actions. So far, this President has done little to improve economic conditions and provide real help for working families. We have heard a lot of words from the President, but seen precious few policies from the White House that would create economic stability in our country. Instead, we have seen an Administration focused on spreading fear and hatred, while putting Wall Street banks and CEOs ahead of working people... This is a President who would like claim he is on the side of working people, but his own actions as a ‘businessman’ hurt workers and small businesses. His cabinet is full of Wall Street Bankers, multi-millionaires and billionaires who took advantage of an economy rigged against working families. It’s also no surprise his tax plan will be full of tax cuts for the wealthy and big corporations. These are not the actions of a President who wants to see working Americans succeed. There are still a lot of question marks surrounding this President on everything from his tax returns to his conflicts of interest to his potential ties to Russia and their interference in our election. I hope that the American people hear what the President said tonight and hold him to a higher standard when it comes to his actions and policies."

Goal Thermometer

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At 7:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, he's a lying, self aggrandizing, racist and clueless sack of shit.

But polling shows a MAJORITY of americans "liked" his address.

Wazzat say about things? It says that when an electorate is this fucking stupid and evil, a democratic(ish) government cannot and will not be any good... as we're seeing first hand.

But the cluster fuck is seen as progress by the dumbfucktardia.

One can only become despondent.

Here's hoping Canada opens its borders to the 10s of millions who would eagerly flee if they could.

At 7:37 AM, Anonymous Hone said...

I was unable to watch the speech last night, but my husband did. However, he could only tolerate Trump for a short while and shut it off. In my lifetime, watching Lyndon Johnson, Nixon and George Bush on television was a nightmare - I could not stand looking at their faces. It is hard to imagine that things could get worse, but they have by far. The Orangeman fills me with deep disgust and revulsion. He flaunts his disrespect for the American people, the Constitution and democracy. With his inability to read a book, let alone several pages of a briefing, I am certain he never read the Constitution. Did he absorb American history in high school? Long live Frederick Douglas! He is so ignorant, dangerous, disturbed, deeply corrupted and traitorous with the Russians and yet the Republicans applauded him last night like he is some terrific leader. Congress is becoming the Nazis 2.0. I fervently hope that the American people are not morphing into the Germans. I don't think so and hope not - it is evident that many, many Americans are deeply upset about what is going on and are taking a stand against this horror. Maybe truth, reason and morality will win out in the end! This country has certainly faced major obstacles in the past and overcome them.

By the way, I am going to a wedding later in April. The plan for the guests is: Friday night a barbecue, Saturday morning join a march for science and Saturday night the wedding. The father of the groom, a physicist, is thinking about options for the sign he will carry. Sounds good to me!

At 10:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hone... nice comment again.

Sadly, we ARE Nazis 2.0. We're just evolving slower than they did. But the foci of the hate are materializing (immigrants, muslims, LGBTQs). Trans children have been kicked. Immigrants are being rounded up and the new VICE office will make shit up as needed to get everyone to hate.. latins. And the muslim ban will be rewritten and re-issued. For-profit prisons will be used. As soon as they pick THE ONE to blame everything on, the sooner the enabling acts (to keep the white Christians safe from...) will be passed (with several Democraps joining the hategasm). Mark that down. It'll happen.

The physicist father should recognize this: PV = KT

Progressive Values = K--- Trump. Fill in the K with whatever seems to work.

Enjoy the weekend.


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