Friday, April 1, 2016

5 Things on a Friday: Politics as Protection Racket

I realize that your minds are made up.  I keep writing about this year's presidential race because I think it's important, but trust me, I am well aware of the reality.  You know what youre doing.  Your minds are set.  You know who you're voting for, and nothing I do or say is going to change that.

That's okay.  I get that I'm screaming into the wind.  That doesn't mean I can stop; it means that I know I'm wasting my time.

You get the government you deserve in a democracy, folks.  That right there is the plain truth.

Kelly occasionally asks tough questions.
Kelly might not fit the conventional mold of a feminist crusader, but in this election, she is emerging as a prominent ally for other women targeted by Trump and his supporters. It's probably not a role she wanted to fill. On that August episode of "The Kelly File" where she refused to fire back, she added that her desire was to "get back to the news."
Too often, however, the news is Trump's lack of respect for women…
When people call Trump authoritarian and anti-democratic, this is why.  Kelly famously asked Trump some tough questions at an early debate—questions which were clearly fair game given his statements on-the-record—and he took offense.  He has since gone after Kelly so relentlessly that even Fox News, which I think would very much like to support him in order to support its own viewers’ opinion-base, has nevertheless had to repeatedly attack his campaign just to protect its employees.
At this point, Fox News can’t support Trump, and they ought to be his biggest allies.
People wonder how will Trump act in office, but it’s not some mystery.  There is ample track record from which to take sample data.  Trump will intimidate--everyone--as often as he can.
Is this what we want?
Remember, this is a man who believes strongly in imminent domain.  He has an established track record of using it to seize other people’s property through the courts.  Based on all of this taken together, there is every reason to believe that a President Trump would attempt to use his office to seize your house if you criticize his government.  He brooks no arguments and has shown little respect for established law.  As an example, his campaign manager was caught on tape in criminal battery and was subsequently arrested, but Trump still hasn’t so much as admitted that the incident even happened.  Granted, I don’t think the attack was particularly serious, but it did happen, and the incident itself is unquestionably a misdemeanor.  That’s the law.
Trump doesn’t care.  He has doubled down, restricting press access for reporters who cover his events in any way that isn’t openly supporting, and going on at length in obvious contradiction of the facts of the case.  Truth is, Trump’s ability to use doublespeak in the face of obvious contrary evidence is unparalleled in modern America.  This is not a man who respects law or fact or other people.  
Taken together, the Trump campaign is a serious challenge to American democracy.  
It’s funny because when Trump loses in November, it will be because he’s alienated the very people who should have been his allies.  Perhaps this ought to be comforting, but instead, I find it all depressing as Hell.
A liberal Chinese writer living in Germany has said that security officers in China detained three of his family members in connection with a mysterious online letter that denounced the iron-fisted rule of President Xi Jinping.
The writer, Chang Ping, said on Sunday in a post on China Change, a pro-democracy website, that two younger brothers and a younger sister were “abducted by the Chinese police” and were the “latest victims” in official investigations of the letter, which was posted this month and demanded that Mr. Xi resign…
Chang said he had not been able to contact his family members but had learned that the police wanted them to tell him to stop publishing any articles criticizing the Communist Party.
Eh.  Who cares about freedom of the press, am I right?
If we want to show these reporters who’s boss, we need to start going after their families.
[T]he former secretary of state plans to hold up the opening in the Supreme Court as further cause for concern should Trump win the U.S. presidency in the Nov. 8 election, according to her campaign.
A Supreme Court justice nominated by Trump would curb Americans' rights and empower companies, Clinton will say in a speech blasting Republicans who have vowed not to consider Democratic President Barack Obama's nominee until after the election…
Individual rights.  Meh.  
It’s the corporations that matter.  Everyone knows that.
Obama’s visit was intended to build irreversible momentum behind his opening with Cuba and to convince the Cuban people and the Cuban government that a half-century of U.S. attempts to overthrow the Communist government had ended, allowing Cuban to reform its economy and political system without the threat of U.S. interference.
Fidel Castro writes of Obama: “My modest suggestion is that he reflects and doesn’t try to develop theories about Cuban politics…”
“No one should pretend that the people of this noble and selfless country will renounce its glory and its rights,” Fidel Castro wrote. “We are capable of producing the food and material wealth that we need with with work and intelligence of our people.”
This has to be the surest sign yet that the rapprochement with Cuba is a good idea.  Castro declaring that his people are rich enough without trade from the rest of the world is an epic example of exactly the kind of doublespeak for which I was just lambasting Trump.  And guess what?  If you disagree with Castro in Cuba, he’s going to take your house, jail your family, and make sure that no one ever hears anything else that you have to say ever again.  Folks, if that doesn’t sound familiar, you’re flat not paying attention.  Trump may call Clinton (or Sanders) a Communist come November, but as a matter of reality, only one candidate in this race has ever made widespread use of imminent domain to seize other people’s property, and it’s neither of the Democrats.
What drives me crazy about this election cycle is the fact that the truth no longer matters.  If you’re one of these guys who thinks that Trump is the only one who’s not afraid to speak his mind, let me invite you to take a closer look at the government of Fidel Castro, a man who also speaks his mind with great regularity.  
Is that the truth we want?  
Castro’s truth is the kind of truth that Trump people are advocating.  It comes at gunpoint.  Sometimes it takes your house.  Sometimes it targets your family.  You have no recourse under the law.  You get plenty of “truth”, sure, but it comes from the mind of exactly one man.
Donald Trump’s apparent willingness to upend decades of U.S. security dominance in Asia is baffling major allies given China’s increasing clout and North Korea’s nuclear threats.
The billionaire front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination has told the New York Times he’d be prepared to withdraw U.S. troops from Japan and South Korea if the countries did not substantially increase their payments to help maintain the forces.
Ugh.  Even if this is the right policy solution, Trump’s execution of it smacks of the high end New York real estate market in the very worst ways.  Like a solicitor from the Firemen’s Benevolent Association, Trump needs a handout before he’s willing to do his job.  And if he doesn’t get it, well… good luck when your house catches fire.
Bottom line, this is a man who would turn U.S. foreign policy into an international protection racket.  We wouldn’t want anything bad to happen, now would we?
According to the National Employment Law Project, 42.4 percent of American workers currently make less than $15 an hour. There are around 1.4 million janitors and cleaners who earn below that mark, 1.2 million drivers, 1 million secretaries and administrative assistants, and 699,000 childcare workers. We're talking about a policy change that will affect how much it costs to put a kid in daycare, run an office, or or build an office tower. We're talking about a raise for nearly half the country.
Classic.  “You mean this is going to affect me?  Oh shit!”
Also: 42% of Americans make less that $15/hour?  Wow.  That is undeniably sad.  No wonder people are on the brink of revolution.  That right there is starvation wages.
With that said, though, I have to admit that I still do not support an increase in the minimum wage.  First, because wages are fundamentally set by the labor market, and all the regulation in the world won’t change market fundamentals.  Increasing pay artificially will therefore undeniably reduce the size of the total workforce, leading to God-knows-how-much new outsourcing.  This is not a good thing.  
Then, too, not everyone who works a crappy part-time job is trying to support a family.  For example, do I have to start paying my babysitters $15/hour?  If this law goes into effect, then the answer is undeniably yes, at least as far as morality goes, but does that actually make sense?  It won’t take much bargaining to get back to $10 or $12/hour, and even then, I’m pretty sure that both sides will walk away happy.
That’s all I’ve got, folks.  Have a good weekend.

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