Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Last Call For The Dinosaurs And The Trump Meteor

American historian and author Lawrence Glickman digs up the bones of that most unfortunate of political dinosaurs, the Republicansaurus Moderateus, and gives a fitting eulogy for a spineless creature who was wiped out by its own cowardice and pathos, with a lesson about Dwight Eisenhower.

Consider, for example, the widely reprinted front-page piece Eisenhower wrote for the New York Herald Tribune in late May 1964, listing attributes for the next Republican president. Although never mentioning Goldwater, the list offered a frontal attack on Goldwaterism: support for civil rights, domestic spending programs and the United Nations. But within a week, Eisenhower walked back this stunning rebuke, saying any interpretation of the piece as a criticism of Goldwater was a “complete misinterpretation.” He scolded reporters, “You people read Mr. Goldwater out of the party, I didn’t.”

In June, Eisenhower again seemed on the brink of full-throated opposition. He prodded Pennsylvania Gov. William Scranton to run, before reversing course and telling Scranton that he did not wish to be part of any “cabal” to stop Goldwater. He also refused to meet with 27 Republican anti-Goldwater legislators in Pennsylvania who wanted him to endorse Scranton, even as they presciently warned him that “Eisenhower-moderate Republicanism will be irreparably harmed if you remain out of this fight.”

At the Republican convention in July, the former president moved from refusing to challenge Goldwater to endorsing the nominee’s hard-right philosophy. Eisenhower’s speechwriters had prepared a conciliatory address, which both endorsed Goldwater and praised the principles of moderation with which the former president was so closely associated. But in the last third of his speech, the tone changed dramatically as Eisenhower read seemingly discordant remarks that he had inserted at the last minute.

He began with articulating a shared grievance about the media, which “couldn’t care less about the good of our party.” Then he went even further, sympathizing with some of Goldwater’s more controversial positions on civil rights and the welfare state, two of the core principles that had so differentiated moderate Republicans like Eisenhower from Goldwater and his supporters.

The former president notably wielded the language of what had only recently been labeled the “white backlash” against the civil rights movement. He warned against “maudlin sympathy for the criminal,” cautioning against transforming him into “a poor, underprivileged person who counts upon the compassion of our society and the laxness or weakness of too many courts to forgive his offense.” The crowd delighted in this racialized dig at the liberalism of the Supreme Court, which had recently proclaimed “the right to remain silent.”

Rather than emphasizing the chasm between moderation and extremism, the former president highlighted his points of agreement with Goldwater, seemingly out of ideological conviction rather than simple party loyalty. This continued over the next few months. Several times, he went out of his way to endorse Goldwater’s proposal to privatize the Tennessee Valley Authority, which he described to CBS’s Walter Cronkite as “not a radical move at all — it’s just getting private enterprise into a lot of things that are now the government’s doings.” Employing the language of the anti-New Dealers, he also called the TVA “creeping socialism.”

This embrace culminated with a “Conversation in Gettysburg,” a half-hour TV program produced by the Republican National Committee and aired nationally on NBC in September 1964. The former president and the nominee discussed their common ground, with Eisenhower dismissing the charges that Goldwater was a warmonger as “actual tommyrot.” He also volunteered the view, closely associated with conservatism, that “too much power” is “centralized in Washington” and represented “a danger to our freedom

The Republican party has never been moderate in my lifetime, and even decades before I was born it was the party of Lee Atwater, Barry Goldwater, and "Democrats are Socialists."  Even Eisenhower capitulated 55 years ago, not because of his differences, but because of what he had in common with Goldwater.

Nothing's changed since.

Return Of The Blue Wave, Con't

Republicans are in such dire trouble in suburban House districts that our media is actually writing stories about how something Republicans are doing may be bad for them as a party. Even more shocking is an admission that gun control is actually a losing issue for Trump and the GOP.

The renewed debate captures a dilemma for Trump as he revs up his reelection campaign with appeals to rural Americans steeped in a rich gun culture. But he risks alienating upper-income suburbanites, who can make or break his prospects, if he’s seen as unwilling to take action to stop frequent mass shootings.

All of the major Democratic candidates are running on gun control measures, including tougher background checks and banning assault weapons, setting up a stark contrast with Trump.

“Every time the country experiences a tragedy of this nature the Republican brand takes a hit,” said Carlos Curbelo, a Republican former congressman who lost to a Democrat his suburban Miami-area district in 2018. “Because many, many Americans perceive that Republicans are unwilling to act on gun reform, due to the influence of the NRA and other organizations.”

“Certainly in swing suburban districts there is broad support for” policies like universal background checks and 72-hour waiting periods, Curbelo said. “A lot of voters, especially young voters, have lost their patience with this issue.”

A Marist poll last month, commissioned by NPR and PBS, found that 57% of American adults support banning “the sale of semi-automatic assault guns such as the AK-47 or the AR-15,” while 41% oppose it. Support for such bans was 62% among suburbanites, 74% among women in the suburbs and small cities, and 65% among white college graduates.

But the survey found broad opposition to banning semi-automatic assault weapons among the core elements of Trump’s coalition — 67% among Republicans, 67% among conservatives, 65% among white men without college degrees, and 51% among rural Americans

So if Trump goes along, he's done.  But if he doesn't, his party is toast.  And the party of white supremacy is circling the wagons and throwing out race traitors already.

The Nebraska Republican Party on Monday called for GOP state Sen. John McCollister to re-register as a Democrat after he accused the party of enabling white supremacy in the United States.

“John McCollister has been telegraphing for years that he has little if nothing in common with the Republican voters in his district by consistently advocating for higher taxes, restrictions on American’s Second Amendment rights, and pro-abortion lobby,” Nebraska Republican Party Executive Director Ryan Hamilton said in a statement. “His latest false statement about Republicans should come as no surprise to anyone who is paying attention, and we’re happy he has finally shed all pretense of being a conservative.”
Hamilton added that he'd be "happy to send a change of voter registration form along to his office so he can make the switch officially and start, for once, telling the truth to voters in his district.”

McCollister gained national attention on Sunday after sharing a series of tweets condemning the Republican Party for what he described as its complicity in "obvious racist and immoral activity inside our party."

"The Republican Party is enabling white supremacy in our country," McCollister said on Twitter. "As a lifelong Republican, it pains me to say this, but it’s the truth."

House Democrats have already passed a background check bill, but of course Mitch McConnell refuses to bring it up for a vote, and there's no indication he will do anything other than issue more empty platitudes as Republicans are already planning to come up with more useless token legislation that will do nothing, all while Mitch is tweeting images of his political opponent's literal gravestone.

It's going to take major GOP Senate losses in 2020 over gun control before anything will change, losses bad enough to cost the GOP control of the upper chamber.  And if enough voters figure that out, even Mitch may end up losing his power...

Trump Trades Blows, Con't

This is currently on the Opinion page of the NY Times:

Trump has to get the needle off of domestic politics, so he's gone ballistic on the foreign entanglements.  Friday's threat of new tariffs on the remaining $300 billion or so in Chinese imports, along with Beijing blaming the US for Hong Kong protests, has become the final straw.

And like millions of Americans witnessed this weekend, Donald Trump is a bully and fundamentally weak leader and the Chinese government has decided that the best way to deal with Trump is to punch the bully in the mouth until he's forced to leave.  Trump's trade war with Beijing has now turned Pyrrhic.

China confirmed reports that it was pulling out of U.S. agriculture as a weapon in the ongoing trade war.

A spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said Chinese companies have stopped purchasing U.S. agricultural products in response to President Trump’s new 10% tariffs on $300 billion of Chinese goods.

“This is a serious violation of the meeting between the heads of state of China and the United States,” the Minister of Commerce said in a statement Monday that was translated via Google.

The department also said it would “not rule out” tariffs on newly purchased agricultural goods after August 3.

China is one of the largest buyers of U.S. agriculture. Bloomberg News reported that Beijing may stop importing them completely in response to new tariffs by the United States. According to reports by Chinese State media, it would also consider slapping tariffs on U.S. agricultural products that it already bought.

Those stories helped exacerbate fears on Wall Street pushing stocks to their worst day of the year. Now that China has confirmed the reports, it could add to pressure on equities. Stock futures fell Monday, implying a 480 point drop Tuesday.

U.S. farming has been a hot-button issue in the ongoing trade war. The president said that he had secured large quantities of agricultural purchases when he met with President Xi Jinping at the G-20 summit in June. Trump later accused China of not following through, leading him to announce on Thursday 10% tariffs on the remaining $300 billion in Chinese imports.

The Dow plunged nearly 800 points on Monday.  Futures show today will be just as bad, as the Trump regime's response is equally scorched Earth.

The U.S. Treasury has just taken the extraordinary step of designating China as a currency manipulator, something no administration has done since the days of Bill Clinton.

With the action, the trade war between the U.S. and China has entered a new phase that will likely see both countries stepping up both their rhetoric and actions in the trade dispute that has now dragged on for over a year.

As a result of the ongoing hostilities between the U.S. government and China, the flood of investment dollars that once came from Chinese technology companies and investors into U.S. technology companies has slowed. Acquisitions and investments made by Chinese companies have been unwound over concerns from the Committee of Foreign Investments in the U.S. and tariffs slapped on Chinese imports have hit U.S. stock prices (including in the technology sector).

The news of Treasury’s move comes less than 24 hours after the Chinese government announced a complete halt on U.S. agricultural imports. More significantly, the Bank of China has let the country’s currency slide in value against the U.S. dollar to above the seven-to-one figure that was considered a line-in-the-sand for trade.

Odds of a serious economic recession heading into 2020 just became very, very real.

Given the escalation, economists’ fears that global markets could slip into a recession within the next nine months are more likely to be realized
, according to reports from Morgan Stanley, quoted by CNBC.

“We take its literal message of planned tariffs quite seriously. There’s a pattern of responding to insufficient negotiation progress with escalation,” Morgan Stanley said in an analyst report.

But trade wars are easy to win, right?

Meanwhile, with China turning into a conflagration, oil has taken a bath.  That means Trump has to cause oil prices to spike again and he's found his solution.  Late last night the Trump regime declared total economic sanctions on one of China's biggest trading partners: Venezuela and the "illegitimate" government of President Nicolas Maduro.

President Donald Trump on Monday announced the US would expand its existing sanctions against Venezuela with an executive order to impose a total economic embargo against the country.
The embargo freezes assets of the government of Venezuela and associated entities and prohibits economic transactions with it, unless specifically exempted. Exemptions include official business of the federal government and transactions related to the provision of humanitarian aid. 
The executive order marks an escalation from the already expansive US measures against the Venezuelan government since the start of the country's chaotic political and economic crisis earlier this year.
In a letter to Congress outlining the action Monday night, Trump said, "I have determined that it is necessary to block the property of the Government of Venezuela in light of the continued usurpation of power by the illegitimate Nicolas Maduro regime, as well as the regime's human rights abuses, arbitrary arrest and detention of Venezuelan citizens, curtailment of free press, and ongoing attempts to undermine Interim President Juan Guaido of Venezuela and the democratically-elected Venezuelan National Assembly." 
Venezuela's political turmoil stems from presidential elections last year wherein Maduro secured another six-year term in a process widely viewed as a sham. Opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself acting president earlier this year. 
While several nations -- including China and Russia -- have supported Maduro in the wake of the election, Trump has been a vocal champion for Guaido. 
"In its role as the only legitimate branch of government duly elected by the Venezuelan people, the National Assembly invoked the country's constitution to declare Nicolas Maduro illegitimate, and the office of the presidency therefore vacant. The people of Venezuela have courageously spoken out against Maduro and his regime and demanded freedom and the rule of law," Trump said early this year in a statement recognizing Guaido as interim president.

In all seriousness, it won't take much to topple the US economy into a 2008-style free-for-all that will end up crushing the country.  That event may have just happened.

Stay tuned.  Trump's economic war is about to turn hot.
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