Why the Rise of Trump, Cruz and Sanders Is the Logical Result of the 1% Not Paying Taxes, and Shutting off Opportunity to the Poor

the U.S. protects “everything that deals with capital and property but we cannot deal with protecting basic human rights.”

Source:AlterNet

Author: Vijay Prashad

Emphasis Mine

You reap what you sow. The Republican Party – pushed along by large segments of the “Third Way” Democrats – crafted policies that allowed the American rich to go on tax strike, that allowed them to deindustrialize the United States and that allowed their banks to control the destiny of people from the redwood forest to the gulf stream waters.

This land is their land. Democracy is the mask of the 1 percent.

The detritus of those policies created under-employment and endemic social crises. Between the prison industrial complex and the opioid crisis lies the fault line of race: otherwise these are identical. Wages plummeted, but debt-fueled consumption allowed the American Dream to remain alive. The Great Recession of 2007 awoke sections of the country from its credit card somnolence. For the first time in decades, the American Dream seemed unrealistic. The lives of American children would most certainly be economically more fragile than those of their parents.

Race stayed the hand of unity. The Tea Party movement covered itself in the old rags of racism to blame migrants and minorities for the degradation of their country. Egged on by the Republican elites, this movement took the hatred of government and of outsiders to the limit. Out of it came Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, with fire against Washington as their ammunition. It is fitting that the old Gadsden flag was taken up by the Tea Party – with its rattlesnake above the sign, “Don’t Tread on Me.”

To associate oneself with the rattlesnake is a curious gesture. This is venom incarnate.

The Great Recession hit black and Latino families hardest, but there was no room for them in the Tea Party consensus. It was Obama’s presidential campaign that became their ark. That Obama did little to constrain the banks and force the rich to pay tax was disappointing, but not sufficient for disillusionment. What choice has there been? It was organizations such as Stand Up United, Black Lives Matter, Dream Defenders, Defend the Dream, Stand Up/Don’t Shoot and Black Youth Project that drew in the more critical segments – spurred on by Ferguson.

They are the antithesis of the Tea Party, although survivors of a similar dynamic set in motion by the American rich’s tax strike.

Many of these young people have now taken refuge in the Sanders’ campaign. Hillary Clinton was part of the “Third Way” Democrats that allowed Wall Street its excesses. She does not have the compass to bring in this segment. It is fitting that the wife of Eric Garner (killed by the New York police department) supports Clinton, while their daughter – Erica Garner – who is an activist in these movements supports Sanders.

Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are the end-points of Republican policy. They are what emerge when the rich don’t pay their fair share of taxes and the working poor cannot any longer dream of a better life. But they are particularly the salvation of the white working poor. Theirs is a populism narrowed by racism and misogyny.

Stop Trump, goes the slogan. But replace him with what? Ted Cruz, who is not only as bellicose as Trump (bomb the desert to “make it glow”), but is also a zealot? These men are mirror reflections of each other. They are Crump.

Both Trump and Sanders attract the white workers who had been battered by the trade agreements of the 1 percent. Trump’s rhetoric is familiar to the American right, which heard it from Pat Buchanan in an earlier era. Sanders comes from a long line of Democratic barnstormers who opposed these recent trade deals – whether Tom Harkin or Sherrod Brown and most recently the Sanders’ supporter Keith Ellison. These are Mid-western politicians who know how the trade deals eviscerated the working class of their heartland.

In this skepticism of the 1 percent’s trade deals there is the potential of great unity, but again race is the obstacle. Buchanan’s fulminations on the “end of White America” are far from Harkin’s 1992 objections to NAFTA on the grounds that the U.S. protects “everything that deals with capital and property but we cannot deal with protecting basic human rights.”

Exit from this current nightmare is not evident. Until the American Rich give up their tax strike, there is little hope for necessary social investments. Unity is impossible as long as the toxicity of racism diminishes social life. Trump and Cruz offer bluster, empty slogans that reduce the potential of people. Clinton and Rubio have little to offer beyond the prattle of the Beltway, which is continued adherence to Wall Street’s failed dogmas and belief in the Security establishment’s failed imagination for the world.

The Republican elite wants to sow fear of Trump in order to sneak in Cruz. Under both shells sit rotten peas.

It is better to pick neither.

Vijay Prashad is professor of international studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. He is the author of 18 books, including Arab Spring, Libyan Winter (AK Press, 2012), The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South (Verso, 2013) and the forthcoming The Death of a Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution (University of California Press, 2016). His columns appear at AlterNet every Wednesday.

See: http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/why-rise-trump-cruz-and-sanders-logical-result-americas-wealthiest-not-paying-their?akid=14080.123424.MZYW4e&rd=1&src=newsletter1052897&t=12

 

Republican Party’s Nightmare Coming True as Trump Gets Closer to the 2016 Nomination

Trump is positioned to win big on Super Tuesday.

Source: AlterNet

Author:Steven Rosenfeld

Emphasis Mine

The Republican Party is running out of time and options to stop Donald Trump after winning as expected in Nevada’s Tuesday night caucuses, although party insiders are increasingly desperate about what to do.

Trump, who was leading in Nevada polls—where he has a big Las Vegas hotel-casino—won his largest percentage yet in any of 2016’s caucuses and primaries, with 46 percent of the vote, which was almost twice as much as both Marco Rubio (24 percent) and Ted Cruz (21 percent) received.

So far, 1.2 million Republicans in four states—Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada—have participated in caucuses or voted, in contests where 133 delegates have been at stake under party rules where 1,237 are needed for the presidential nomination. Cruz won Iowa. Trump has won everything since. And next week is when 12 states, with 632 delegates, will vote on March 1, so-called Super Tuesday.

Right now, the latest polls in those states listed on RealClearPolitics.com show Trump ahead in nine of those states—Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Alabama, Tennessee, Virginia, Arkansas and Vermont. Cruz is ahead in Texas and Arkansas. And Ben Carson is ahead in Colorado, but that survey was taken in November, rendering it meaningless. If Trump wins all these states, he stands to gain upward of 400 delegates, where as the prior states only had 133 delegates in play and awarded some to non-winners.

Beyond the math, the Republican Party establishment is in a real tizzy over what to do. An array of scenarios have been floated—such as pundits like Larry Sabato suggesting Rubio and John Kasich team up, creating a way to likely win Florida and Ohio in the fall. Others have pushed a Cruz-Rubio ticket. Still others have said true conservatives may need to back a third-party candidate. And other GOP strategists have suggested that maybe New York City’s former mayor Michael Bloomberg might be more acceptable than another Clinton presidency. Or they are saying principled Republicans might just have to sit this one out, while others respond that’s impossible, they cannot surrender the party’s brand.

No matter the fanciful fantasy embraced, the reality is the clock is running out on the GOP to stop Trump’s hostile takeover of the party. This is not a conclusion based on the particulars of Trump’s showing in Nevada—as he is very well-known there—but more on the weaknesses of Rubio and Cruz as seen in that state. As Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight.com noted, Rubio still hasn’t won a single state, and Cruz lost badly in Nevada and before that in South Carolina among constituencies thought to be his best supporters.

He carried only 27 percent of the white born-again and evangelical Christian vote, behind Trump’s 41 percent. Cruz also lost this group in New Hampshire and South Carolina,” Silver and Harry Enten co-wrote. “Cruz also trailed among ‘very conservative’ voters in Nevada, 34 percent to Trump’s 38 percent.” In short, even if Cruz wins his home state of Texas and nearby Arkansas next Tuesday, as RealClearPolitics’ latest polls have him 4 to 5 points ahead of Trump in both states, it is looking like the beginning of the end of the Cruz campaign.

Of course, the only thing certain about the 2016 campaign trail is nothing is certain. But next Tuesday’s dozen GOP contests with half of the delegates needed to secure the nomination in play is going to be a milestone that can’t be ignored. It is likely that the most virulent voters in the party’s base, who have embraced Trump’s boasts, bullying, bigotry and brashness will be on their way to vanquishing their party’s pro-corporate elites.

Where this goes next is unclear, but it’s surely not toward scenarios where cooler heads will prevail—even if Trump will surprise everyone by trying to sound more moderate after fanning the flames. Anybody who has been on the receiving end of GOP tirades (pro-choice women, LBGT individuals, voters in communities of color, climate change scientists, undocumented migrants, labor unions, etc.) or suffered from their obstructionism—as epitomized by Senate Republicans refusing to consider a Supreme Court nomination—knows the modern GOP has been extremist for years.

The difference now is Trump’s ascent seems to have brought an old and ugly form of mob rule into mainstream view, whereas pledges years ago by now-Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to impede President Obama at every turn and create a failed presidency were cloaked in more “acceptable” partisan gamesmanship under Washington’s political rules.

As many people have noted, Republicans have sown the seeds of Trump’s increasing electoral successes for years. But now they have to live with the consequences, which may mean the end of their party as many know it. The time appears to be running out to stop Trump from gaining the nomination, making the immediate future a belwether for where one of the country’s major parties is going—over the edge and toward a darkening unknown.

Steven Rosenfeld covers national political issues for AlterNet, including America’s retirement crisis, democracy and voting rights, and campaigns and elections. He is the author of “Count My Vote: A Citizen’s Guide to Voting” (AlterNet Books, 2008).

See:http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/republican-partys-nightmare-coming-true-trump-gets-closer-2016-nomination?akid=14008.123424.GcZEKd&rd=1&src=newsletter1051277&t=4

Why Trump’s Feverish Doom-Talk Makes Literally Zero Sense

The GOP frontrunner is lying to his fans about the state of the economy, something Obama pointed out in his State of the Union address.

Source: AlterNet

Author:Bob Cesca/Salon

Emphasis Mine

The Republicans, and especially the frontrunners for the GOP nomination, really want the economy to suck.  After all, if the economy is strong then all of Donald Trump’s demagoguing about “making America great again” begins to feel a tad unnecessary.

During his final State of the Union address, President Obama made sure to hammer the Republicans on this very point. Said Obama: “The United States of America, right now, has the strongest, most durable economy in the world.” Also: “Anyone claiming that America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction.”

That second one is especially accurate, as illustrated by a sampling of quotes from one of the recent Republican presidential debates:

Ted Cruz: “From 2008 to today, our economy has grown 1.2 percent a year on average. The Obama economy is a disaster…”

Marco Rubio: “I mean, this economy is nothing like what it was like five years ago, not to mention 15 or 20 years ago.”

Jeb Bush: “My worry is that the real economy has been hurt by the vast overreach of the Obama administration.”

And then there’s serial fiction-peddler Donald Trump, who told CNN:

“We have to take our country back. We’ve lost our jobs, we’ve lost our money. We’re a third world nation and we’re a debtor nation at the same time, you need somebody with the kind of thinking — I built a great company. I have some of the great assets of the world. And I talk about only form- not bragging- I talk about it because that’s the kind of mentality that this country needs. We need that mentality now and we need it fast.”

Plus:

“A lot of people up there can’t get jobs. They can’t get jobs. Because there are no jobs.”

And:

“Last quarter, it was just announced, our gross domestic product -– a sign of strength, right? But not for us. It was below zero. Who ever heard of this? It’s never below zero.” Before we continue, let’s correct the record about, “It’s never below zero.” Whopper lie. Economic growth has dipped below zero many, many times! 42 times since 1946. But Trump is counting on his supporters not paying very close attention to such things.

Finally, here’s Trump on the labor participation rate:

“I saw a chart the other day, our real unemployment — because you have ninety million people that aren’t working. Ninety-three million to be exact.”

It’s all fiction. The reason we know this is because numbers don’t lie. But Trump and the Republicans clearly do.

Let’s take a look by starting with that last quote first, regarding the labor participation rate, which Trump was hamfistedly referencing here. This is an often cited statistic that Obama critics like to wheel out in order to undermine the reality that unemployment has been cut in half under Obama, from more than 10 percent to exactly five percent today. The participation rate measures the number of people who’ve dropped out of the workforce, and the Republicans suggest it’s because they simply can’t find work in Obama’s allegedly disastrous economy.

They’re lying.

Here’s the truth. The labor participation rate has indeed dropped under Obama. Bad news, right? Well, only if you believe what Trump says, and why the hell would you do that? Yes, the number has descended from 65.7 in 2009 to 62 percent today. But let’s suppose it was a larger five percent drop, or a 10 percent drop. Does it matter in terms of evaluating the Obama economy? Not a chance.

FactCheck.org released the site’s most recent scorecard for the Obama’s presidency and noted the following on the labor participation rate:

Contrary to many of Obama’s critics, however, that decline is due mostly to factors outside the control of any president — factors such as the post-World War II baby boomers reaching retirement age. Survey data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in December show that those outside the labor force in 2014 said their reasons for not working were retirement (44 percent), illness or disability (19 percent), school attendance (18 percent) or home responsibilities (15 percent). Only 3 percent said they couldn’t find a job, or gave some other reason.

So, sure, Trump might be able to blame three percent of a total 3.7 percent decline in the rate as maybe Obama’s fault. But most of the workers who’ve dropped out of the labor force have done so for reasons other than the state of the economy. Do the math.

Along those lines, Trump also said the “real” unemployment rate is 42 percent with 93 million workers unable to find a job. Again, fiction.

Per the Washington Post:

Trump may have seen a chart, but he misread it. Yes, the BLS shows that there are 93.7 million people “not in the work force,” but the vast majority of those people do not want to work. Most are retired or simply are not interested in working, such as stay-at-home parents.

Here’s more bad news for the Republicans. According to FactCheck.org, the Obama economy has added 9.2 million jobs. For the sake of reference, the Reagan economy added 16 million jobs, but job growth during Obama’s second term, which was more or less untethered from the Great Recession, exceeded Reagan’s first term job growth. Furthermore, the unemployment rate under Obama has declined more rapidly to a lower level than the rate under Reagan. Either way, it’s not the unmitigated disaster Trump’s talking about by any stretch of his bewigged imagination.

Elsewhere, per FactCheck.org, since the beginning of his first term when he inherited an economy strangled by an nearly unprecedented recession, the Obama economy has seen the number of long-term unemployed drop by 614,000 workers. Job openings are up 97 percent. The S&P has grown by 139 percent. Weekly earnings are up (though not up enough, admittedly). Crude oil production is up 87 percent and oil imports are down by 62 percent. Alternative energy sources are up by 273 percent. Exports are up by 31 percent. The number of uninsured Americans has dropped by 15 million, due mainly to the dreaded Obamacare. And federal spending is only up by 11 percent, the lowest rate climb of any modern president. The budget deficit has dropped by more than a trillion dollars. And the economy has grown for 79 consecutive months.

Is everything perfect? No way. But, again, we’re only a few years out from an economic disaster of biblical proportions, and it would’ve been foolish to expect rapid economic growth in the wake of a recession that nearly crushed the world economy.

Just as foolish would be to expect that Donald Trump could do any better. Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics observed this week,

“If Trump’s policies were enacted it would be some form of disaster for the economy. If you force 11 million undocumented immigrants to leave in a year, you would be looking at a depression. It would not help the people he is talking to, they would be the first to go down.”

That’s reality. And yet too many Americans think he’s going to “make America great again.”

See:http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/why-trumps-feverish-doom-talk-makes-literally-zero-sense