45 thoughts on “News/Politics 9-30-17

  1. A generation ago, conservatives read Buckley, Sowell, Friedman, Will, Murchison, Walter Williams, Rusher, Charen and others. We learned about free enterprise, foreign policy, The Constitution, judicial conservatism, free trade, history and federalism.

    We voted for Goldwater, then Reagan, then Reagan again.

    Now “conservatives” listen to Limbaugh, Hannity, Ingraham, Levin, O’Reilly, and Alex Jones. They read Breitbart. They learn about “Mexican rapists” and “jobs stolen by China”. It is “garbage in; garbage out” as they blindly follow Trump.

    Bret Stephens writes that Republican impotence followed years of increasing Republican ignorance and anger.


  2. Well Ricky, does he not have a point? 10,000 US workers have been dispatched, along with food, water, and medical supplies, not to mention all the cash and aid from US charitable groups. It’s an island, it takes time to get it all there, you can’t just drive it down on a truck. Plus 2 days ago she was fine with the response. Do you think just maybe it’s as he said, and it’s just political maneuvering by her and her Dem friends? She’s now pulling a Nagin and blaming the feds for her own poor response? Seems quite possible to me. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time a disaster was used as a political weapon by Dems. Not to even mention the fact that the island is in debt up to their noses, poorly run, and with no proper upkeep and maintenance on it’s crumbling infrastructure because of things that had nothing to do with the storm, or Trump, just poor leadership on their own part. Not at all the mainland’s fault.


    “In defending the federal response, administration officials told reporters today that food, water and other necessary supplies have already been delivered to the island.

    “We are working on bringing additional for replenishment,” said Elaine Duke, acting secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Secretary. “We are using air support when we can’t get through. We are cleaning the roads regularly, we have expanded greatly, probably 90 percent of the island is accessible now — limited.”

    “To date, FEMA and its federal partners had provided more than 4 million meals, 6 million liters of water, 70,000 tarps and 15,000 rolls of roof sheeting to both Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands since Maria made landfall. An additional 7 million meals and 4 million liters of water were being transported to the islands by barge.

    Ten FEMA urban search and rescue task forces were conducting operations in Puerto Rico. The teams so far had rescued 557 people and five pets after combing through more than 2,600 structures.

    Meanwhile, the American Red Cross had mobilized 9,000 comfort kits as well as several thousand tarps, flashlights, batteries, blankets and hand sanitizer to Puerto Rico.

    An emergency response team from the U.S. Department of Energy arrived in Puerto Rico to conduct damage assessments and assist the island in restoring power to “critical facilities,” including hospitals, airports, shelters and water treatment facilities. Electricity was restored to Centro Médico Hospital in San Juan and San Pablo Hospital in Bayamón, Puerto Rico, according to FEMA

    The energy department was also working to facilitate fuel deliveries across Puerto Rico for generators at these critical facilities and response efforts. To date, more than 4.6 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve had been delivered to areas, including Puerto Rico, impacted by hurricanes Maria, Irma and Harvey, according to FEMA.

    With at least 5,600 personnel deployed to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, the U.S. Department of Defense announced it had conducted at least eight medical evacuations at the time.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m just curious – why are we expected to treat Puerto Rico as a state? I understand the humanitarian aspect of helping our neighbors, but why is it considered a federal obligation to help and restore? Do Puerto Ricans pay U.S. federal income tax? What is the quid pro quo in this kind of relationship?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Why am I not surprised?

    And really people, if you live in a state that’s killing you with state taxes, your issue should be with the state, not the fed tax plan.


    “As President Trump prepares to sell his tax plan to the nation’s manufacturing lobby on Friday, his best-laid tax plans have already drawn objections from some fellow Republicans who are fuming over the decision to end deductions for state and local income taxes.

    The situation will pit the White House against members of Congress from states that pile high income taxes on top of what the federal government takes from paychecks.

    High-income Californians, for instance, pay as much as 13.3 per cent of their income to the state in addition to their federal taxes. New Yorkers can pay up to 8.82 per cent.

    Just seven U.S. states have no personal income taxes, including Texas, Florida and Nevada.

    Under the Trump tax reform plan, a family earning $100,000 in Los Angeles pays about $6,000 in state and local income taxes. Losing the ability to deduct that expense would cost the hypothetical taxpayers around $1,800.
    The GOP is working on a way to pacify legislators whose constituents would wind up paying more.

    ‘The members with concerns from high-tax states have to be accommodated,’ Illinois Republican Rep. Peter Roskam told The Wall Street Journal. Roskam is a senior member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

    Why? Take your issue up at the state capital, where the problem originated.


  5. That reality sure is a……..


    “I couldn’t help but chuckle reading the latest Wall Street Journal report detailing Canada’s lack of charity to incoming immigrants.

    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was the progressive hero of the hour when a newly inaugurated Trump issued his first travel executive order, attempting to temporarily curb immigration from known state sponsors of terror.

    Rewind to January:

    Justin Trudeau ✔@JustinTrudeau

    To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada
    4:20 PM – Jan 28, 2017”

    “Hashtag activism is all well and good until it meets reality. Mere months later, Canada’s boy wonder was forced to rethink #WelcomeToCanada. Turns out issuing an open invitation to the rest of the world is not the best idea after all. Trudeau was called “irresponsible” for his tweet and blamed for leaving the system “in shambles.”

    In August:

    The prime minister has taken heat from opposition politicians who say his welcoming messages may have misled some into believing that Canada accept all migrants with open arms.

    “Our system now is in shambles, and I think a lot of this has to do with the messaging — the inconsistent messaging — that has been coming out of Justin Trudeau’s personal communication shop,” said MP Michelle Rempel, the Conservative immigration critic.

    She pointed to Trudeau’s viral tweet – sent out shortly after Donald Trump moved to ban travellers from several Muslim-majority countries last January – which read: “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada.”

    Rempel described the tweet as irresponsible, linking it to the surge of asylum seekers now streaming into Canada. “I want to be perfectly clear. This is a problem that is of the prime minister’s making. We weren’t seeing this as an issue in the past, for a reason. Tweets have a great degree of import on the public dialogue,” she said. “I think he’s giving false hope to people crossing the border.”

    Now, Trudeau’s administration has made an about face on immigration policy, desperately trying to stifle the flow of asylum-seekers. From the Wall Street Journal:

    Canada has an urgent message for immigrants in the U.S. fearing deportation: Don’t count on us for refuge.”


  6. The new sheriff sure has been busy enforcing the law. Quite a change from the last guy.


    “As part of a massive illegal immigration sweep, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced Thursday that officials this week arrested nearly 500 illegal immigrants living in sanctuary cities across the country.

    The raid, referred to as “Operation ‘Safe City’” in a news release, spanned four days in cities through the U.S., and ended Wednesday.

    Illegal immigrants with criminal charges or known gang-affiliations were targeted, the release said, noting that recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program were not.

    In Philadelphia, 107 illegal immigrants were arrested, while 101 were arrested in Los Angeles and 45 people were arrested in New York.”


    “Flores’s indictment came the same day the Department of Justice announced a major operation that over the past six months led to charges against 3,800 gang members across Central America and the U.S. The operation targeted the MS-13 and Barrio 18 gangs and stemmed from a March meeting between U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the attorneys general from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

    MS-13 is the only gang ever designated by the U.S. government as a “transnational criminal organization,” with 10,000 members in the U.S. and 40,000 members in Central America, according to the indictment. Since Sessions was appointed by President Donald Trump and took office in February, he has focused relentlessly on MS-13. Last week in Boston, Sessions said in a speech that the gang is “probably the most violent and ruthless gang on the streets today,” and added that gang members use the unaccompanied minors program to enter the U.S. as “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”

    Sessions’s focus on the gang has raised concerns from local police leaders and civil rights advocates, who worry his tactics will discourage undocumented immigrants from cooperating with investigators or that his approach amounts to racial profiling.”


  7. Kim, Bret Stephens can sound condescending. He can be condescending. I can be condescending. However, we are trying to analyze an important and interesting question: Why have Republicans started to vote for ignorant buffoons? This wouldn’t have happened 40 years ago. It is possible that Republicans have become dumber and more amoral over that 40 year period, but that can’t explain the slide all the way from Reagan to Trump.

    I have managed to listen to Limbaugh and Mark Levin a little lately. I used to like those guys, but they have gone bad. They never try to explain healthcare or tax policy or the budget. Their entire shows, like that of poor Hannity, are dedicated to defending the lunatic’s most asinine statements or deeds and rousing his cult followers to greater anger.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. AJ at 9:45. For years Hannity, Trump, O’Reilly and others have been telling us that MS-13, other Mexicans, Colombians and assorted brown people are poisoning Americans by providing them with dangerous drugs. Now we know that the drugs which Trumpkins are dying from are opioids and these are paid for by workers and taxpayers like me every time I pay my Medicare taxes, my health insurance premiums and my income taxes that pay for Medicaid.

    When my son was in high school, his school’s teams would sometimes lose an athlete because of drug use. I would ask if it was marijuana or cocaine as I imagined a MS-13 member dealing behind a corner of the school. His response was always the same: The kid had been taking some sort of prescription drug which a psychiatrist had prescribed for the kid’s mother.

    The whole situation would be extremely comic if it weren’t so tragic.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Policy by hash tag isn’t a good idea.

    Trudeau demonstrated this by reducing complex immigration and refugee policy to a feel good hashtag. Meanwhile Trump displayed more interest in the NFL than Puerto Rico. The optics are bad and will only serve to fuel the independence movement of what is essentially a US colony.

    Puerto Rican debt isn’t much different than most US states. In fact its lower than Texas or Florida (not sure about per capita). What sets Puerto Rico apart from US states is unique rules which make refinancing difficult along with commerce rules which make trade outside the US difficult; all courtesy of the US govt.

    Interesting, Trump is responsible for 15$ million dollars of Puerto Rican debt. He declared bankruptcy and left the govt responsible for the bonds. All together, Trump’s previous acts, his feeble reaction, and bad optics should make Puerto Rican politics interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Tragic comedy or a farce?

    Pharmaceuticals are legal drug pushers. One can blame heroin and/or “other” people but in reality phrama has normalized addiction and made it socially acceptable.

    Waiting for the “lock them up” chants as 6 officials used private email…..meanwhile the lack of transparency means the US has no idea which Chinese companies and officials have connections to various Trump companies. The room for corruption is wider than a Canadian football field.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Ricky,

    Heroin is the problem. Opiods are in some part, but to a smaller degree. Many of the people using heroin never had a prescription for painkillers. They may have used illegally gotten opiods for recreational purposes, but not out of a legit medical need. The heroin problem is caused by the groups you mentioned smuggling it in, whether you like that fact or not.


    “While the latest research does not unpick the cause of the rise in heroin use, the authors point to multiple factors, including recent policies designed to crack down on overprescription of opioids and their misuse.


    “Once you don’t get access to that medication via the ‘legal’ market, you end up going to the illegal market and street heroin in several areas of the US is very cheap,” said Martins.

    Writing in the journal Jama Psychiatry, Martins and colleagues describe the analysis of data from two national US surveys, one of which was carried out from 2001-2 involving about 43,000 adults, while the other was carried out from 2012-13 and involved just over 36,300 adults.

    Among the questions, the survey probed whether participants had ever used heroin, whether that use was in the last year, and how frequently they used it, as well as asking questions about whether they had misused opioid-containing prescriptions. Participants were also assessed for symptoms of heroin abuse or dependency.

    Analysis revealed that heroin use has increased across all age groups in the last decade. The figures, the authors say, correspond to around 3.8 million American adults having used heroin at some point in their life, although they add that the figure is probably even higher, since the surveys did not take into account homeless individuals or those in prison – groups both known to have higher levels of substance abuse than the general population.

    The study also reveals that the proportion of adults who have ever had a heroin use disorder or dependence has more than tripled over the decade, rising from 0.21% to 0.69%. Among heroin users, however, there has been a drop in abuse. “Nowadays we are seeing more casual heroin users,” said Martins.

    The research shows that both heroin use and heroin dependence or abuse showed a steeper rise for adults who were male, white, not married, had a lower education or a lower income. Furthermore, adults under the age of 45 showed a greater increase in heroin abuse or dependence than older adults.

    When looking at whether taking opioid prescriptions for non-medical purposes leads to heroin use, the team found that among non-whites, the proportion of adults misusing opioid prescriptions before they began using heroin fell between the two surveys. But among whites, the figure rose from 35.8% to 52.8%.

    That, says Martins, reflects historic access to opioids. “When prescription opioids started becoming widely available in the US a lot of physicians wouldn’t prescribe them for non-whites” said Martins. That, she says, has had a knock on effect when it comes to heroin use. “If you don’t have access to a certain drug for medical purposes you are less prone to use it for non medical purposes and then you are less prone to use another drug that might be related to [it].”

    However the authors add that the proportion of adults using heroin rose for all frequencies of prescription opioid misuse, and for those with no previous history of other drug use, suggesting there are multiple factors behind the growing heroin epidemic.”


  12. Yes, HRW. The US leads the world in opioid use.


    At least the gangs are selling their poison at market prices. We taxpayers and people who pay for their own health insurance are no doubt paying inflated rates for the opioids used by our addicts.

    We know that Jared and Ivanka used to be friends with Chelsea Clinton. I wonder if Hillary, Jared and Ivanka used the same IT consultant.

    Trump may want to reappoint Comey to head the FBI. We know he would severely scold, but not prosecute high government officials who negligently handle government communications.


  13. The chart I posted shows that synthetic opioids, natural opioids and semi-synthetic opioids are killing twice as many Americans per year as heroin. I am not saying that to downplay the danger of heroin. However, before looking south of the Rio Grande, Americans need to realize that the same bloated, inefficient, largely (well over half of American healthcare costs are paid by government) socialist system that is bankrupting the country is also paying for most of the drugs that are killing our people.


  14. Here is part of the drug problem from a personal perspective. As most of you know Mr. P has had severe back issues and was on a lot of pain medication until last summer when he was approved by the VA to have the stimulator inserted. Most of his pain came from nerve damage, and there really isn’t a way to treat that except to give pain medication but it only masks the pain in reality nerves react differently to pain that muscles or bones.
    He was on several pain meds including a very high dose of morphine. At one point the VA decided they had prescribed to many opioids to veterans an instituted a bonus policy for doctors not writing or refilling them. Guess when the veteran found this out? Guess who wasn’t given any support in coming off of them? One of the medicines he was on was an anti depressant that had some effect on the nerve pain and helped. There is a prescribed step down program to come off of that medication or you can end up in the hospital from the withdrawals and perhaps even have suicidal episodes. Mr. P went in for a check up and to get his prescriptions refilled and was told they would not be refilled. He had no medication left to step himself down. He had to go cold turkey for a week until he could get in to see the pain management specialist who was working with him to install the stimulator. Oh, and if you go to a private physician to obtain pain medicine you can lose your benefits of the VA paying or it or giving you medicine in the future. It was a giant mess.
    Thankfully we are not in that position now and the stimulator has been a God-send for him. What I did learn is that my husband has a will of iron.

    Liked by 4 people

  15. I find it interesting that Ricky finds the problem originating from a “socialist” system. Yet the ophiod problem is worse in the US where the profit motive is far more common than in real socialist health care system.

    As i stated the other say, treat addiction as a public health issue not a criminal issue. In that way you also prevent addiction as a side effect of pain mgmt.


  16. HRW, I noted that our healthcare system is “largely socialist”. Yours is completely socialist. You ration care and drugs bureaucratically like our VA system that Kim described, because you have no price rationing.

    Beginning in 1965 with Medicare, we wrote a blank check to docs, hospitals, drug companies, testing centers, etc. who care for the elderly. That wasteful model has spread through our entire system.

    In 1890, a nine year old could walk into a drug store and buy opium without a prescription. However, he had to pay for it with his own money. Singapore doesn’t have that system, but it is closer than any other place in the world.


  17. Ricky — minimize the profit motive, lowers the cost and the addiction. The problem with the US plan B is it entrenches the profit motive within the system.

    Decriminalizing drugs will take out the criminal element and lower prices. Money the state saves on policing and prescription can ho towards public health and addiction.

    NFL == no fun league. Celebrate and if its uncouth or in poor taste I’m sure the players can police each other. Celebrating inappropriately in hockey carries no fine but you may receive a not so subtle reprimand from the opposition.


  18. Debra, There have been virtually no purely pro-Trump or anti-Trump votes to this point. The votes have generally been just Democrat vs. Republican. Trump has been uninvolved with the legislative process. Instead, he has been busy with Twitter wars with athletes, celebrities and department stores, obstruction of justice, fights with our allies, his staff and cabinet and other idiocy. If he starts to cut deals on major issues with Pelosi and Schumer, then we will see.

    HRW, I generally associate the term “profit” with a capitalist or free enterprise system. Before 1965, American healthcare was a free enterprise system. Since then, it has largely just been providers feeding at the public trough.


  19. This article from The American Conservative makes a convincing case for Conservatives to return to the traditional roots of conservatism by speaking out against monopolies such as Amazon, Google, and Facebook and the forces that create them. While it is true that some Conservatives have always taken exception to government incentives for companies, they have rarely done so on the basis of the size of the company. This article makes a good case for the differentiation based on broad definition monopoly. At the very least, it offers some intellectual options for those who are wary of continuing to allow Conservatism to be used as a champion for materialism and consumption for the sake of Capitalism. Here’s the latter portion of the article:

    While the Democratic left—in an effort to rejuvenate its populist soul—has been at the front lines in the war against these modern-day robber barons, Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute of Local Self-Reliance, suggests that opposition to corporate consolidation need not be a partisan issue. In a piece published in The Atlantic, Mitchell traces the bipartisan history of anti-monopoly sentiment in American politics. She writes:

    “If “monopoly” sounds like a word from another era, that’s because, until recently, it was. Throughout the middle of the 20th century, the term was frequently used in newspaper headlines, campaign speeches, and State of the Union addresses delivered by Republican and Democratic presidents alike. Breaking up too-powerful companies was a bipartisan goal and on the minds of many voters. But, starting in the 1970s, the word retreated from the public consciousness. Not coincidentally, at the same time, the enforcement of anti-monopoly policy grew increasingly toothless.”

    Although the modern Republican Party stands accused of cozying up with corporate interests, the history of conservative thought has a rich intellectual tradition of being skeptical—if not hostile—towards economic consolidation. For conservatives and libertarians wedded to the tenets of free market orthodoxy—or for Democrats dependent on campaign contributions from a donor class of Silicon Valley tycoons—redefining the legal definition of monopoly and rekindling a bipartisan interest in antitrust enforcement are likely non-starters.

    But for conservatives willing to break from the principles of free market fundamentalism, the papal encyclicals of the Roman Catholic Church, the distributist thought of Hilaire Belloc and G.K. Chesterton, the social criticism of Christopher Lasch, and the observations of agrarian essayist Wendell Berry provide an intellectual framework from which conservatives can critique and combat concentrated economic power. With a respect for robust and resilient localities and a keen understanding of the moral dangers posed by an economy perpetuated by consumerism and convenience, these writers appeal to the moral imaginations of the reader, issuing warnings about the detrimental effects that economic consolidation has on the person, the family, the community, and society at large.

    The events of this summer underscore the immense political power wielded by our economy’s corporate giants. To those who recognize the dangers posed by our age of consolidation, the skirmishes from this summer could serve as a rallying cry in a bipartisan war for independence from our corporate crown.  


    Liked by 1 person

  20. Here is something I have not heard anyone else say. One of the problems facing Trump and the Republican Congress (as they deal with legislation) is that neither has any mandate from the people.

    In 1980, Reagan won the popular vote by 10 points and carried 40 states. This followed a campaign in which he promised to cut taxes, rebuild our defenses, cut regulations and grow the economy by moving us toward more reliance on free enterprise. With much diligence, he accomplished those goals.

    In 2008, Obama won a decisive victory by promising to stop starting new wars and (like FDR) to move us out of a terrible economic disaster by relying more on government. I will let others express their own opinion on how he did.

    In 2016, Trump won while losing the popular vote and expressing vague, diverse and contradictory views on many important issues including healthcare. Many of the people who voted for him (like Chas and Bob Buckles) did so for one reason: He wasn’t Hillary. That is not a mandate for any type of change.

    Less obvious is the fact that the Republicans in Congress also had no mandate. It is true that they held on to the Senate and picked up a few House seats, but under what circumstances?
    Their political philosophy had been expressed in the primaries by many of the other 16 Republican presidential candidates that the demagogue Trump had routed. The overwhelming majority of the American people appeared to have no understanding of healthcare, entitlements, trade, taxes or most other important issues. It should have been clear they did not agree with Republican positions.

    Why then did the Republicans hold Congress in 2016? Think back about what had happened over the previous 6 years. The Republican Congress had served as a check against Obama as he tried to move the country in a more socialist direction. Who did most people think would win the 2016 presidential election? Even up to Election Day the overwhelming majority thought Hillary would win. The Republican Congress was elected to do a job that doesn’t now exist: Stop Hillary from pushing the country toward socialism.

    Which leads to the final question and dire concerns for Republicans in 2018: Had the American people known in advance that Trump would beat Hillary, might they not have elected a Democratic Congress, hoping it would check some of Trump’s bizarre actions? This is why the future looks dark. No one can stop Trump’s bizarre behavior, but as he has shown he remains willing and able to agree with Democratic Congressional leaders on policy if he thinks it will get him favorable press coverage.


  21. Ricky, this might be a partial answer to the question of what is the Republican mandate. It’s an insightful article from First Things. The author seems to think highly of Charles Murray. Perhaps I will eventually have to break down and read Coming Apart as well as Henry Olsen’s The Working Class Republican: Ronald Reagan and the Return of Blue-Collar Conservatism [although, as a worker bee, I have no idea where I’m to find all of this free time :–) ]. I hacked up this article a bit, but it’s not that long if anyone wants to read it all. [The bold emphasis is mine—hopefully it comes out right.]

    David Brooks thinks that Sam Francis was the prophet of modern right-wing populism. My sense is that Brooks is missing the bigger story. The most important cause of today’s right-wing politics has been the collapse of the center-right economic consensus. The real prophets of our moment are Henry Olsen and Charles Murray…….

    Henry Olsen has chronicled the Republican Party’s descent into the economic politics of business-class self-interest. What is causing the baffling rebellions within the GOP is the establishment’s commitment to high-earner tax cuts, reductions in old-age entitlements, and increasing low-skill immigration all at the same time.

    It is the unpopularity of this agenda as a bundle that empowers “populists” like Trump, “conservatives” like Roy Moore, and “moderates” like Lisa Murkowski (who has her job because her opponent was caught expressing hostility to unemployment insurance). They are all, in their different ways, products of an extreme GOP agenda that leaves most people feeling unrepresented.

    You might be able to get one of the above agenda items as part of an otherwise popular program. Donald Trump was able to make high-earner tax cuts palatable by swearing off entitlement cuts. You might be able to sell premium-support Medicare and raise the Social Security retirement age, if those policies were bundled with wage subsidies, an expanded child tax credit, and more secure health insurance for people’s working years. The problem is that this set of policies would probably require somewhat higher taxes on high-earners. Shared sacrifice and all that.

    Since George W. Bush left office, conventional Republicans have been trying to sell their unpopular agenda by appealing to Reagan nostalgia. They are facing the same problems that Mario Cuomo and Walter Mondale had in using FDR nostalgia to sell 1980s liberalism.

    Cuomo and Mondale would remind voters that Democrats had created Social Security and unemployment insurance—but that argument didn’t get traction, because those fights were already over. Worse, 1980s liberalism included many policy positions, such as support for abortion and opposition to the death penalty, that many FDR admirers had never signed up for. The result was that millions of FDR-loving ancestral Democrats voted for the conservative Republican Ronald Reagan.

    Conventional Republicans are now facing a similar problem.  As Ramesh Ponnuru has pointed out, we are in a totally different tax environment today than the one we faced in 1980. More 1980s-style tax cuts would almost exclusively benefit the affluent.

    Millions of Republican voters never signed up for tax cuts for the rich plus nothing. They certainly never signed up for tax cuts for the rich plus Social Security cuts for themselves. Hardly any Republican outside the business lobbies signed up for expanded low-skill immigration. Republican politicians keep trying to sneak those policies through, while patting each other on the backs about what good little Reaganites they are. Then they blame the brutish, unprincipled voters when things go sideways.

    If Brooks wants to see why the modern GOP is vulnerable to demagogues and flakes, he should look at Charles Murray. In Coming Apart, Murray wrote that elites were sealing themselves into a “bubble” that left them both uncomprehending of, and unsympathetic to, their struggling fellow Americans.

    When conservatives read Coming Apart, and thought of someone in a bubble, they probably pictured some left-wing college professor droning on about intersectionality. It turns out that Murray was talking about the National Restaurant Association and the Republican Capitol Hill leadership. The demagogues and flakes have many vices, but at least they don’t pretend that our problems will be solved by reducing the top income-tax rate and increasing low-skill guest-worker programs.


    Liked by 2 people

  22. Debra, Murray posted this link to an AEI study that backed up his findings in Coming Apart.

    This leads to three questions:
    1. Did economic problems (caused by the neglect of traditional Republicans) lead poor and middle class whites to get divorced, stop working, have illegitimate kids and stop going to church?
    2 Alternatively, as JB Vance suggests, did the bad behavior (divorce, criminality, illegitimacy, decline in work ethic, withdrawal from church) among middle and lower class whites lead to their economic problems?
    3. As I asked a week ago, to what extent did the real pervasive discrimination against white men in government and corporate jobs which has been going on for over 40 years contribute to the economic and/or social problems of middle and lower class whites?

    I believe all three factors were present. We would no doubt differ on the percentage of the problem we would assign to each of the three factors.

    As a demagogue committed to no political or economic philosophy and spectacularly ignorant about basic economic principles, Trump can not lead us to solutions. However, his nomination and election is forcing conservatives to begin to ask these questions although I have not heard anyone else ask question #3.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. The Republican lack of mandate is obvious from the House’s lack of support. The Reps derive their support from gerrymandering and pandering to their corporate sponsors. Senate Republicans are far more responsive to their voters. Gerrymandering won’t save them. Hence their reluctance in healthcare.

    Its the chicken and egg argument. Did deteriorating social stats follow or create deteriorating economic stats. I say follow a social conservative would say it creates. I would think we can agree its a vicious self reinforcing circle.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Ricky, Your 3 questions are good ones to consider. This is just a cursory attempt (out of order):

    (Q #2) There is no doubt that bad behavior eventually leads to poor outcomes. It’s Biblical. From a purely natural perspective, the poor and uneducated have less personal and physical resources to buy time or buffer themselves from these ill effects, so they tend to show up quicker and are more obvious. But the wealthy are not immune either (perhaps more on this point at another time).

    (Q #1) According to the article you referenced, marriages were pretty solid until about the time of President Reagan, though the marriages of the poor and less educated were already beginning to suffer:

    Before the 1970s, there were not large class divides in American family life. The vast majority of Americans got and stayed married, and most children lived in stable, two-parent families.2

    But since the 1960s, the United States has witnessed an emerging substantial marriage divide by class. First, poor Americans became markedly less likely to get and stay married. Then, starting in the 1980s, working-class Americans became less likely to get and stay married.3

    I’ve always believed that the cultural chaos of the 1960’s fueled by Baby Boomers who were spoiled by war and depression traumatized parents unleashed and legitimized some of the more perverse human instincts. And as the decades rolled on, some of those same people with money to invest used mass marketing in television, movies, even ‘news’, and had no qualm in selling debauchery and greed to make a few dollars. This fed the downward impulse (much more on this point at another time).

    (Q #3) It would definitely be a contributor in the middle class if we include the outsourcing that has, I think, disproportionately affected white men. Racial discrimination exists and is demoralizing, but viewing yourself as a victim is depressing and unhelpful whether you’re white or other colored. More focus needs to be put on merit and achievement and our common identity as Americans who all have a stake in our country.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. @8:57 Careful, Ricky. Never Trumpers are sounding more and more like Hillary—don’t look in the mirror, don’t look in the mirror, look anywhere but in the mirror. ;–)

    Liked by 1 person

  26. My son (and his wife) understand basic economics as does my wife. They all know not to support liars and sexual predators. I have produced many bad golf swings and a couple of questionable car purchases, but no Trump voters.


  27. On the other hand, Charlie Sykes is willing to look in the mirror. He was a conservative talk show host during all those years when I was busy working, teaching Sunday School and coaching basketball in my spare time and had no clue the Republicans might ever nominate a person like Trump.


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