Warning signs of mass violence – in the US?

The following article by Max Pensky, Co-Director of the Institute for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention, Professor, Department of Philosophy, Binghamton University, State University, of New York and Nadia Rubaii, Co-Director, Institute for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention, and Associate Profession of Public Administration, Binghamton University, State University of New York was posted on the Conversation website August 21, 2017:

Protesters with opposing views face off at a ‘Free Speech’ rally in Boston. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

There are those who say that comparing President Donald Trump’s rhetoric to that of Adolf Hitler is alarmist, unfair and counterproductive.

And yet, there has been no dearth of such comparisons since the 2016 presidential election. Many commentators have also drawn parallels between the conduct of Trump supporters and Holocaust-era Nazis.

The comparisons continue today, and Trump’s comments in the wake of the Charlottesville attack show why. The president’s reference to violence on “both sides” implies moral equivalence, which is a familiar rhetorical strategy for signaling support to violent groups. His comments give white supremacists and neo-Nazis the implied approval of the president of the United States. Read More

Kansas is Very Important

The following article was posted on the TrumpAccountable.org website August 14, 2017:

With the House and Senate set to take up tax reform with Donald Trump’s White House this fall, the story of Kansas and their dramatic experiment in supply-side tax policy needs to be told and understood. Those who claim that reducing taxes will create economic growth need to be able to answer the following question: Why should we as a country adopt an economic strategy that failed spectacularly in Kansas?

To review, in 2012 Kansas governor Sam Brownback along with the Republican majority in the legislature passed enormous tax cuts for small businesses, a reduction in personal income tax, and the elimination of taxes for a variety of goods and industries. The result, Brownback promised, would be increased disposable income, more jobs, and people moving to Kansas for work and business. “It will pave the way to the creation of tens of thousands of new jobs, bring tens of thousands of people to Kansas, and help make our state the best place in America to start and grow a small business,” Brownback claimed. “It will leave more than a billion dollars in the hands of Kansans. An expanding economy and growing population will directly benefit our schools and local governments.” Read More

Shutting Out Foreign Workers Would Cost American Jobs

The following article by Steve Chapman was posted on the Creators website August 10, 2017:

Farm workers removing weeds in a field in Stratford, Calif., in 2014. Economists say highly educated immigrants are good for the economy, but so are less skilled workers. Credit Matt Black for The New York Times

Donald Trump is a businessman who has routinely hired foreign guest workers to staff his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, claiming it’s impossible to find Americans to do the work. But his administration now wants to shut out foreigners who fill comparable jobs, which he now insists Americans would be happy to take. Consistency is not a Trump obsession.

Nor is economics. Endorsing a Senate bill that would cut net legal immigration in half, he charged that the U.S. has “a very low-skilled immigration system” that “has not been fair to our people, to our citizens, to our workers.” White House aide Stephen Miller said it’s “common sense” that the hiring of lower-skilled foreigners takes jobs away from Americans and “drives down wages.”

Common sense said the Earth was flat. Superficial appearances can be grossly misleading. What is clear from experience is that low-skilled immigrants mostly take jobs that Americans don’t want and that the effect they have on the wages of native-born workers is between slim and none.

During the 1990s, the number of undocumented immigrants in this country more than doubled. The number of legal immigrants also climbed. But the economy added more than 23 million jobs, and the unemployment rate fell below 4 percent. The earnings of middle-wage workers rose. Read More

Trump Praises Putin Instead of Critiquing Cuts to U.S. Embassy Staff

The following article by Peter Baker was posted on the New York Times website August 10, 2017:

BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — President Trump offered gratitude rather than outrage on Thursday for Russia’s decision to force the United States Embassy in Moscow to slash its personnel by 755 people, despite bipartisan condemnation from other American leaders who protested the Cold War-style move.

President Vladimir V. Putin last month ordered the seizure of two American diplomatic properties and directed the American Embassy staff in Russia be cut by more than half in retaliation for sanctions imposed by Congress because of Russia’s meddling in last year’s presidential election in the United States. Read More

Congress will have 12 working days to prevent a debt default and keep the government open.

The following article by Kelsey Snell filling in for James Hohmann with Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve was posted on the Washington Post website August 11, 2017:

THE BIG IDEA today is by Kelsey Snell. James will be back on Monday.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have a lot to do when Congress returns next month. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

August is supposed to be a time when Washington recharges, relaxes and refreshes. But just beyond that happy hour cocktail or beach blanket is a looming fiscal battle over funding the government and raising the debt limit.

Exciting, right? When Congress returns in September the House will have just 12 legislative days to raise the federal borrowing limit to avoid default — and the same amount of time to approve a spending deal to avert a government shutdown. Those things alone would make for a hefty lift under even the best political circumstances. But the high-stakes deadlines comes as GOP lawmakers are still bruised and angry over the dramatic failure of their most recent push to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Read More

In a new poll, half of Republicans say they would support postponing the 2020 election if Trump proposed it

The following article by Ariel Malka and Yphtach Lelkes was posted on the Washington Post website August 10, 2017:

An American flag is refracted in raindrops on a window on July 4, in Merriam, Kan. (Charlie Riedel/AP)

Critics of President Trump have repeatedly warned of his potential to undermine American democracy. Among the concerns are his repeated assertions that he would have won the popular vote had 3 to 5 million “illegals” not voted in the 2016 election, a claim echoedby the head of a White House advisory committee on voter fraud.

Claims of large-scale voter fraud are not true, but that has not stopped a substantial number of Republicans from believing them. But how far would Republicans be willing to follow the president to stop what they perceive as rampant fraud? Our recent survey suggests that the answer is quite far: About half of Republicans say they would support postponing the 2020 presidential election until the country can fix this problem. Read More

Republicans Worry That White House Disarray Is Undermining Trump

The following article by Alexander Burns and Michael D. Shear was posted on the New York Times website July 30, 2017:

President Trump boarded Air Force One Credit:   Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Trump and Republicans in Washington have shaken the confidence of their supporters after a punishing and self-inflicted series of setbacks that have angered activists, left allies slack-jawed and reopened old fissures on the right.

A seemingly endless sequence of disappointments and blunders has rattled Mr. Trump’s volatile governing coalition, like Mr. Trump’s attacks on Attorney General Jeff Sessions; a vulgar tirade by his new communications chief, Anthony Scaramucci; and the collapse of conservative-backed health care legislation.

Mr. Trump remains overwhelmingly popular with Republicans, but among party loyalists and pro-Trump activists around the country, there are new doubts about the tactics he has employed, the team he has assembled and the fate of the populist, “drain the swamp” agenda he promised to deliver in partnership with a Republican-controlled Congress. Read More

Can this marriage be saved? Relationship between Trump, Senate GOP hits new skids.

The following article by Sean Sullivan was posted on the Washington Post website August 1, 2017:

The relationship between President Trump and Senate Republicans has deteriorated so sharply in recent days that some are openly defying his directives, bringing long-simmering tensions to a boil as the GOP labors to reorient its stalled legislative agenda.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), head of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, announced Tuesday that he would work with his Democratic colleagues to “stabilize and strengthen” the individual insurance market under the Affordable Care Act, which the president has badgered the Senate to keep trying to repeal. Alexander also urged the White House to keep up payments to insurers that help low-income consumers afford plans, which Trump has threatened to cut off.

Several Republican senators have sought to distance themselves from the president, who has belittled them as looking like “fools” and tried to strong-arm their agenda and browbeat them into changing a venerated rule to make it easier to ram through legislation along party lines. Read More

Fact Checker’s guide to the debt ceiling

The following article by Meg Kelly was posted on the Washington Post website July 31, 2017:

With a deadline of Sept. 29 looming and Congress nearing their summer recess, the debt ceiling is primed to be a big issue when they return. Here’s what you need to know. (Video: Meg Kelly/Photo: Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

In May, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin urged Congress to raise the debt ceiling before lawmakers recessed for the summer. Yet with lawmakers’ attention turned to health care for so long, there was little movement on the issue. And now, summer recess is here. Read More