Sometimes things have to go very wrong before they come back right. I hope we have reached the moment when rational Republicans decide to sink the extremist wing of their party instead of riding it to power and scuttling the democracy they have sworn to serve virtually every time they were installed in an official position.
Heather Cox Richardson gives an excellent summary of what is now going public about GOP loyalists having a moment of truth, an opportunity to change course and purge their party of its cancerous extremism.
Various writers, tongue-in-cheek, have urged that the Treasury Secretary mint a one trillion dollar coin and use it to buy back debt. This would resolve the debt ceiling crisis.
Whoa!, you say. If they just print more money, won’t that cause inflation? Maybe not. Money is created and destroyed all the time. Your bank routinely makes loans it doesn’t have the funds to cover. It is not required to have deposits equal to its loans. When the market price of housing, soybeans, or General Motors stock fluctuates, money is created or destroyed.
In its essence, money is only a promise to pay. We rely on the Federal Reserve to impose monetary policies that keep us as close to 2% annual inflation as they can. It’s an art, not a science.
The unknown is whether minting the coin would alter the world’s faith in our promise to repay.
There is little question that failure to raise the debt ceiling would cause the US to default on its existing debt. This would certainly shake faith in our monetary promises because we would be breaking them. So maybe the risk of minting the coin is small relative to the alternative of certain default.
Here’s my suggestion. Let’s mint eight of those $1T coins. Put Mitch McConnell’s likeness on one side and the GOP elephant on the obverse. Use them one at a time during Biden’s presidency to pay down the deficit and keep the economy rolling. Why eight coins? That’s about equal to the record-setting deficit that accrued under #45’s four-year term. So, it would be bold political theater to remind us all that the GOP is not fiscally more responsible than the Dems. Quite the opposite – they are willing to scuttle the economy and throw us into recession to game the political system.
How to know what information is trustworthy has grown in importance since Sue Mehrtens and I wrote our books on the topic. Political propaganda is now openly fostered. It’s not just spin, it is deliberate campaigns of tactical disinformation that target vulnerable groups in our electorate.
The national media also skews left or right to segment the market for their “product” — the shows that command big advertising revenues. Regrettably, journalistic integrity suffers.
On Tuesday, September 28, I hosted a panel of local journalists who spoke about how they know the truth. I was expecting to get stories about tells of the sort that poker players look for. You know, a nervous flutter of the eyelids, the use of phrases like “let me be perfectly clear,” and such.
I got much more. The three journalists spoke candidly about how very hard it is to get to the truth, and what it costs them in emotional energy and stress. I’m sharing the video here because I think you will find it both inspiring and reassuring to know that local news has people of this level of integrity.
Subscribe to a local paper, contribute to public radio and TV, donate to organizations that do investigative reporting without political motive — in doing so, you defend democracy and the independence of the working press.
The US National Debt grows ever faster. Now it is $28 Trillion dollars. The deficit (increase in debt) during the last presidency was 7.8 Trillion, or just shy of two trillion a year and double the one trillion rate of the Obama years.
Our lame-duck US Senator Pat Toomey would like you to think that the present administration is profligate. Here’s what he says:
Yes, $3.5 trillion is big. But we also need perspective here. If this is a spending spree, then what was the GOP’s thought in cutting taxes? That’s about $3 trillion in lost revenue. But the GOP also left us a legacy of future debt. FactCheck.org quoted the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget as follows:
By September 2020, CRFB estimated the legislation and executive actions signed by Trump would be responsible for $3.9 trillion in higher deficits through 2026. The bulk of that — $2.3 trillion — was attributed to lowering taxes, while increases in defense and veterans spending ($950 billion) and nondefense discretionary spending ($700 billion) made up the rest. “It is important to note that this debt was also approved by Congress, about half on a broad, bipartisan basis,” CRFB said.
These are significant numbers, and Toomey over his many years in politics has been complicit. Both parties spend our money on a grand scale, the difference is who and what they spend it for.
Business people say, “You have to spend money to make money.” Biden wants to build back better. The GOP says, … hmm I can’t recall. I think it was eliminating the national debt that they promised. Well, have they actually proposed anything? Or did they just spend reactively, with little or no real plan except for the tax cut?
As we go about the ordinariness of our lives, making breakfast, chatting with friends, shopping for groceries, and watching Netflix, our government is under attack by a political party that holds its power to be more important than our democracy. The GOP, for more than 20 years has been on the attack, and the end game grows more clear with each passing day.
Historian Heather Cox Richardson in her “Letters from an American” chronicles the events. The post below cites some of the current actions that should alarm all of us. But it is the inaction of GOP leadership that signals where the GOP is headed.
September 24, 2021
On Monday, we learned that after last year’s election, John Eastman, a well-connected lawyer advising former president Donald Trump, outlined a six-point plan to overturn the outcome of the election and install Trump as America’s leader. They planned to cut the voters’ actual choice, Democrat Joe Bi…
Some will say that HCR is an alarmist, others that she is partisan. Ask yourself this, “What behaviors do you see in the GOP leadership that suggest that we should NOT be concerned?”
Here is what I see:
Actions to foster distrust of our elections.
Years of strategic work to disenfranchise opposition.
Support of secretive gerrymandering.
Pandering to fringe elements of the GOP base.
Inaction on obvious corruption.
Near total partisan obstructionism.
Purges of moderate leadership.
Improper courting of foreign propaganda support.
Desperate efforts to prevent investigation of January 6th.
Once upon I time, I considered myself a Republican. I believed that the GOP provided a critical check on the financially irresponsible and overly idealistic social theories of Democrats. I was, in those days, a fiscal conservative who believed that the government should only do those things not practical for the private sector: defense, highways, postal service, and the appointment and regulation of certain public utilities.
But today’s GOP does not represent the interests of our public welfare. It serves a tawdry amalgam of self-serving and short-sighted mostly deplorable interests. My long-time friend and fellow blogger, John Graham speaks my mind in the following post:
In Memoriam: The Grand Old Party
September 21, 2021 John Graham
John’s life and writing speak his commitment to the transcendent values that have sparked America’s bravest and best moments – values that are enshrined in the world’s great religions and philosophy’s most celebrated thinkers. These are the values we wish our politicians would hold to be paramount, values that take precedence over personal or tribal power.
This NYT article analyzes social research on why people are hesitant about vaccines and how the rest of us can help them choose to get vaccinated. In addition, it lets you examine information specific to your locale.
Getting everyone vaccinated in the United States has become much harder now that demand for the Covid-19 vaccine is flagging. America’s vaccination strategy needs to change to address this, and it starts with understanding the specific reasons people have not been vaccinated yet.
The conventional approach to understanding whether someone will get vaccinated is asking people how likely they are to get the vaccine and then building a demographic profile based on their answers: Black, white, Latinx, Republican, Democrat. But this process isn’t enough: Just knowing that Republicans are less likely to get vaccinated doesn’t tell us how to get them vaccinated. It’s more important to understand why people are still holding out, where those people live and how to reach them
There is a Twitter protest (#idesofmarch, #idesoftrump) which suggests that angry citizens deluge the White House with postcards on March 15th. Julius Caesar was assassinated on that day in 44BC as we remember from Shakespeare’s play in which a soothsayer warns the emperor, “Beware the ides of March.”
This is a really bad idea for several reasons. No good purpose would be served by such an action. We already know that the 45th president has a very thin skin, and would react badly with the attendant storm of press commentary. He uses the drama of such moments to cover actions that he doesn’t want headlined, and the press obliges in the interest of keeping ratings and circulation up.
The act itself is purely rage – an act of hate and cruelty toward someone who evidently can’t help himself and may be mentally ill. “Darkness can not drive out darkness, only light can,” as Martin Luther King famously said. We may be furious with 45’s actions and words, but we must respond with clarity and with words and deeds that promote resolution. Our outrage must be channeled to influence our government representatives positively. They are beginning to see that the game has changed, and that the Trumpists (19% of people eligible to vote) will not suffice to reelect them if the other 80% is mad as hell and organized.
President Trump prides himself on counter punching. His instinct, when attacked, is to attack back. I know of no instance where he has paused and looked inward when confronted. In fact he wants the world to see him that way. Much to the dismay of his would-be political handlers, he strikes out on twitter and in public discourse.
He does understand leverage and power. The real leverage he respects is the 2018 election, and a congress that
balks because so many of their constituents oppose his policies.
Many of my friends are engaged in issue specific calls, visits, and letters to their elected representatives. This is how and where to strike back. Get the contact information for all of your elected representatives at this League of Women Voters site:
Sending nasty postcards to the White House will squander your time plus half a dollar’s worth of postage and postcard. Worse, in doing it we become that evil we hate. It is essentially a personal attack, a publicity stunt, … exactly the behavior we deplore in our 45th President.
In 1966 I wasn’t paying much attention to world politics and none at all to Red China, but Mao was tipping over the socioeconomic apple cart much as the populists here in the USA seem to want to do. Mao felt that the pointy-headed elite intellectuals (no, he didn’t call them that) had become over-educated and were perpetuating an elitism that was introducing too much capitalism.
Chaos ensued for five years. The resulting hardships took even longer to overcome. In the US, there was little empathy. As commie-fearing devout capitalists, we were happy to see the Reds shoot themselves in the proverbial foot.
I can’t help thinking that today’s populists and their “Make America Great Again” revolution are the US version of China’s cultural revolution half a century ago: so much anti-intellectualism; so much blind faith in a man whose image and career is more smoke and mirrors than substance; so much arrogant ignorance and bravado.
When all our political elites and pointy-headed intellectuals have been dispatched to the hills and country, will we too face a decade of economic chaos while the Trumpists figure out that their leader doesn’t have any capacity to lead or to fulfill his sweeping pledges to make the mythical greatness of yesteryear return?
So far it looks like most Americans are smarter than Mao was, but in less than 90 days we will know for sure.
“Freedom’s Safest Place” is how the NRA styles itself in its current series of self-promoting ads. The ads run on YouTube.com and tend to be linked as preludes to gun-related content. They also show up if Google searches have associated your internet address with gun interest.
Everyone interested in the interplay of gun violence and politics should take time to watch a few of these. They stoke the fears of gun enthusiasts, promote guns as the solution to violent crime and terrorism, and in not so subtle ways reinforce a conservative political agenda.
On August 8th, 2016, Donald Trump was speaking about the prospect of Hillary Clinton nominating the next members of the Supreme Court of the US. “Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish, the Second Amendment,” Trump said at a rally in Wilmington, N.C., on Tuesday. “By the way, and if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.”
The facial expressions and body language of those present was alarming. Smiles, glances at companions that said, “Did he really say that out loud?” And, most shocking, nods of agreement.
Apologists immediately “clarified” Mr. Trump’s meaning saying he was only acknowledging the legendary political cohesiveness and clout of the NRA. But here I will make the argument for a much more sinister meaning.
FREEDOM’S SAFEST PLACE
What does this tag line mean? If you follow NRA’s interpretation of the Second Amendment, it affirms the notion that Americans have not only a right but a patriotic duty to own and be proficient with arms. The idea is that freedom’s enemies, foreign and domestic, would never prevail against the populist will of an armed and ready citizenry. Should the government get out of hand, the people so armed can and will defend freedom; or so the myth goes. If you listen carefully to Wayne Lapierre’s “We Don’t Need You” rant, he’s articulating the anti-establishment, anti-elite anger of what’s come to be termed populism. “I am the NRA, and I’m Freedom’s Safest Place,” he says.
Yes it is a myth. The stereotypical NRA life member is overweight, over 50, and no match for a squad of modern combat trained troops no matter what his gun collection holds. But more important, which political faction do these latter-day Minute Men represent?
In their fantasy, these defenders of liberty imagine a clearly defined enemy. Someone or some ideology that all good souls agree is Freedom’s enemy, and all are willing to die a hero’s death to repel. Alas, the real world is many shades of grey, full of nuance and complexity, and not something that all unite in recognizing as “the enemy.”
But, the myth has become reality in some dark recess of a few minds. And this is the context for Mr. Trump to refer to them as “the Second Amendment people.”
One observer of the Trump crowd said that there was a pause after Trump said, “By the way, and if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. …” His impression was that Trump heard something in the shouts of the crowd and responded, as he so often does. We can’t tell just what he heard in the crowd’s shouts, but for sure it was not a nuanced statement about the political cohesiveness and clout of the NRA’s Second Amendment defenders.
Thomas Friedman observes, “After all, an informal Trump adviser on veteran affairs, Al Baldasaro, a Republican state representative from New Hampshire, already declared that Clinton should be ‘shot for treason’ for her handling of the Benghazi terrorist attack.” In his column he compares the extreme hatred and anger of Trump’s followers to the climate that culminated in the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.
Is it really hard to decode “…Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.” What would a gun zealot, one of the Second Amendment people, one who hates and fears Hillary Clinton, be expected to think was meant?