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Member since: Fri May 8, 2009, 12:59 AM
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Trump Weighs Cuts to Coast Guard, T.S.A. and FEMA to Bolster Border Plan (March 2017)

With Trump's controversial moves and Hurricane Harvey, no one is mentioning that Trump was proposing to gut FEMA to build his wall.


WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is considering deep cuts in the budgets of the Coast Guard, the Transportation Security Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency as it looks for money to ratchet up security along the southern border, according to a person familiar with the administration’s draft budget request.

The goal is to shift about $5 billion toward hiring scores of additional agents for Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as well as toward infrastructure to support a crackdown on illegal immigration at the border. A significant portion of the money would go toward erecting a wall along the border with Mexico, one of President Trump’s signature campaign promises.

To fund those efforts, though, the plan would seek significant reductions in other areas, including a 14 percent cut to the Coast Guard’s $9.1 billion budget and 11 percent cuts to both the T.S.A. and FEMA. The three agencies have played high-profile roles in the Department of Homeland Security’s post-Sept. 11 security architecture.

All told, the plan would increase the department’s budget by 6.4 percent, to $43.8 billion, for the 2018 fiscal year, also using savings from other executive branch departments to fund it.

Vox - Trump's idea that jobs will solve racism is just wrong

This idea is not just pushed members of the right. Some members of the left have argued that progressives should ignore social justice causes as "identity politics," and focus on economic issues pointing, ironically enough, to Trump's campaign even though Trump relied heavily on white nationalist themes.


President Donald Trump has a theory about how to overcome America’s racial divides — and no, it doesn’t involve him clearly and forthrightly condemning the violent white supremacist rallies being carried out in his name by avowed racists and neo-Nazis. It involves jobs.

“I really think jobs are going to have a big impact,” he told reporters on Tuesday. “If we continue to create jobs — over a million — substantially more than a million, and you see just the other day, the car companies come in with Foxconn, I think if we continue to create jobs at levels that I'm creating jobs, I think that's going to have a tremendous impact — positive impact — on race relations.”

In the context of Trump’s others remarks at that press conference — which saw him empathizing with white nationalist rioters in Charlottesville, Virginia, and defending monuments to the Confederacy — this might sound reasonable. It’s not a totally implausible theory, that the country becomes more tolerant during economic booms and that white Americans become more racially prejudiced during recessions or stagnation.

But the evidence for the theory is mixed at best. In many cases, it’s hard to see much correlation between objective economic conditions and the status of race relations.

538 - Democrats Have Their Own Challenges In Talking About Racial Issues In The Trump Era

After last year's election, there were many progressives who argued that Trump's victory was due to his focus on the concerns of the working class and that it was Democrats who were overly focused on "identity politics." In other words, white male resentment of the progress made by women, immigrants, and minorities was really based on their "legitimate" economic insecurities. Thus, for Democrats to win, they had to de-emphasize social justice and equal rights, and primarily focus on a populist economic agenda.

538 has a great article that states what should be obvious, that Trump won in large part by stoking racial and gender based resentments, rather than based on his economic agenda. This is why areas that were largely white that were not affected by immigration or trade still voted overwhelmingly for Trump.

Perhaps Democrats and Progressives need to stop running away from the subject of race and gender, but instead confront the issue head-on and inform people about how Trump is using racism, sexism and xenophobia to oppress working class white males by giving them a scapegoat and allowing them to feel superior even as Trump and Republicans take away their healthcare and benefits to fund tax cuts to the rich. Put another way, perhaps social justice is just the other side of the economic populism coin, and if we do not address Trump's hate honestly and with courage, Trump will simply blame the economic injustice we are trying to address on society's most vulnerable members.


The proposals themselves — and the FDR-style rhetoric surrounding them — show the Democrats trying to capture the populist appeal that seemed to drive both Trump and Bernie Sanders’s presidential runs last year. The “Better Deal” ideas are almost exclusively about economic issues and largely do not address subjects like immigration, abortion or racial discrimination.

Economic populism could work for Democrats. Trump, as FiveThirtyEight detailed after the election, was particularly strong in areas where residents had lower credit scores, men had stopped working, and where jobs are vulnerable to automation and outsourcing. Areas, in other words, where people have reason to worry about their economic future.

But here’s the big potential problem for Democrats: What if Trump’s victory — carrying more than 200 counties where former President Barack Obama had won in 2008 and 2012 — was not primarily driven by his populist economic appeals, but by his rhetoric and policies around race and identity issues instead? Trump’s denunciations of Black Lives Matter, his embrace of building a wall to keep Mexicans from coming to the U.S., and his proposed temporary ban on Muslims entering the country were just as much a part of his campaign as his promises to bring back coal jobs.

In short, what if the Democrats’ problems with white working-class voters are more about them being white than working-class?

Salon - Stop blaming identity politics: With white liberals like these, who needs the right wing?

Bill Maher is another racial apologist who refuses to acknowledge that Trump is race baiting. Instead, Maher blames Democrats and minorities. How are Democrats going to win if they pretend that what happened in Virginia was not motivated by racial hatred and a white supremacist agenda?

This reminds of Republicans blaming rape victims for dressing inappropriately. Likewise, Maher and Sanders blame minorities, women and religious minorities for demanding equal rights, thus buying into Trump's idea that equality comes at the expense of white males.

In the 1960s, Martin Luther King and Lyndon Johnson both successfully addressed this issue head on and acknowledged that racism and scapegoating were used to oppress white males. Ignoring racism is not going to make it go away.


Is there any problem in America not the fault of liberal progressives? Has anyone actually ever met a liberal? What do these people do for fun? Sneer about cultural appropriation, burn American flags, and mock old women wearing crosses?

The idea that every political, social and financial crisis in the United States has a liberal origin is not only the propaganda of right-wing tantrums, but increasingly since the surreal election of Donald Trump, an obsession of liberals themselves. Myopically fixated on their own masochism and pathetic insecurity, they have wasted precious airtime, intellectual energy and freelance budgets of popular publications in attempts to explain how exactly they are to blame for 62 million Americans driving or walking to the polls to vote for a historically illiterate fool whose character actually appears in worse shape than his acumen.

Bernie Sanders, a leftist rather than a liberal, was one of the first to incoherently assign the presidential loss to the failure of “identity politics,” failing to recognize that Donald Trump is the most powerful practitioner of identity politics in the world. Mark Lilla, a Columbia University professor, acted as eloquent parrot to Sanders when he wrote that the Democrats’ fixation on diversity cost them the election. Recently, Bill Maher, whose derangement seems to advance with every television appearance, told Jack Tapper that the Democratic Party failed in 2016 because its leaders “made white people feel like a minority.”

* * *
One has to wonder: With liberals like these, who needs reactionaries? Trump voters told pollsters that “diversity comes at the expense of whites” and that the federal government, throughout American history, has provided too much assistance to black citizens. Maher, Lilla and Sanders would not identify the problem with the white electorate as racism, but insufficient coddling and pandering from Democrats. The crucial aim of American politics, according to the increasingly widespread view of opposition to “identity politics,” is to make white cowards and bigots feel that they have no need for growth, and that they are the center of the universe.

Vox: Bernie Sanders and many Democrats keep confusing identity politics with tokenism

The tragedy in Virginia underscores what Trump and Republicans hide, and many on the left like Bernie Sanders ignores, Trump is practicing the ultimate form of identity politics and that is promoting the idea of white male supremacy. Yet, many on the left, choose to ignore this and give Trump and his supporters a free pass arguing that Trump is being a populist and listening to the economic fears of the working class. This is BS. What Trump is selling is not inclusion, but exclusivity:

Hopefully, folks on the left will not continue to minimize the degree to which Trump has relied on race and not to just oppress minorities, women and immigrants. Instead, the largest group being oppressed are white males who are being bamboozled by Trump selling them on scapegoats. In return, they happily give up their benefits, health care and job protections in return for the being allowed to feel superior and privileged.


Sanders suggested something close to that in his speech, when he characterized “identity politics” as something Democrats might want to consider going “beyond.” He elaborated on this idea by warning that while having an African-American CEO is a “step forward,” it’s a very limited step if that CEO is also “shipping jobs out of his country and exploiting his workers.”

But to people who actually practice “identity politics,” Sanders is presenting a straw man. He’s describing tokenism — the idea that you need a certain quota of “token?? members of marginalized groups for the sake of “diversity,” regardless of whether those members are actually qualified or actually represent their group’s interests.

The very idea of tokenism has some offensive implications, though. And it’s not at all what identity politics are really about.

Generally speaking, identity politics is about recognizing and acting on the fact that different groups can have different interests, goals, and policy needs. It doesn’t require pitting those groups against each other, although it’s often presented that way. Rather, it’s about acknowledging that American politics tends to treat the “white male” identity as the default — and every other identity as some sort of optional bonus feature.

NY Times - Many Politicians Lie. But Trump Has Elevated the Art of Fabrication.

My take is that Trump is simply taking advantage of the media bubble created by the corporate right wing media. For years, the corporate advertisers had fueled a right wing media bubble that was able to operate independent of the truth for the pure purpose of pushing propaganda. This allowed Republicans to push memes like "death panels" with relative impunity, though most still shied away from the daily, easily disapprovable lies that Trump traffics in. However, by the time Trump arrived, he realized that with this media apparatus, he could totally gaslight the Republican base by overtly pushing lies that appeal to their resentment and hatred.

The only way that Trump and Republicans will be defeated is if Trump's white male base wakes up to the fact that Trump is manipulating them and using racism not to grant them more privilege, but to oppress them by taking away their benefits and offering scapegoats in return.


Fabrications have long been a part of American politics. Politicians lie to puff themselves up, to burnish their résumés and to cover up misdeeds, including sexual affairs. (See: Bill Clinton.) Sometimes they cite false information for what they believe are justifiable policy reasons. (See: Lyndon Johnson and Vietnam.)

But President Trump, historians and consultants in both political parties agree, appears to have taken what the writer Hannah Arendt once called “the conflict between truth and politics” to an entirely new level.

From his days peddling the false notion that former President Barack Obama was born in Kenya, to his inflated claims about how many people attended his inaugural, to his description just last week of receiving two phone calls — one from the president of Mexico and another from the head of the Boy Scouts — that never happened, Mr. Trump is trafficking in hyperbole, distortion and fabrication on practically a daily basis.

In part, this represents yet another way that Mr. Trump is operating on his own terms, but it also reflects a broader decline in standards of truth for political discourse. A look at politicians over the past half-century makes it clear that lying in office did not begin with Donald J. Trump. Still, the scope of Mr. Trump’s falsehoods raises questions about whether the brakes on straying from the truth and the consequences for politicians’ being caught saying things that just are not true have diminished over time.

NYT - The Markets Are Up, Unemployment Is Down. How Much Credit Should Trump Get?

I think one question to ask is why are right wingers suddenly giddy about economic performance that is largely the same as what occurred under President Obama? I think there are two reasons:

First, on the right, you have large segment of our media that pushes right wing/Republican propaganda. Thus, despite the dramatic improvements in the economy under President Obama, the right wing media continuously focused on those "left behind." Thus, despite the overall and steady improvement in the economy, President Obama and Democrats received low marks in the economy.

Second, on the left, there is a natural desire to focus on those left behind. As a result, Democrats and liberals felt awkward about taking credit for the success of their policies in pulling the entire world from the brink of a depression, because it would seem insensitive to the plight of those who have not benefited. President Obama would often qualify the success of his policies by noting that not everyone has benefited.

Under Trump, you have an entirely different dynamic. On the right, the exact same economic data is now hailed as evidence of the success of Trump's policies even though no new legislation has been passed through Congress. Second, the concerns raised by the left are now dismissed by the Trump administration as fake news and biased.

Finally, unlike President Obama, Trump has no shame about boasting of his success even where he has failed. Likewise, as the Carrier employees found out, Trump is happy to take credit for jobs he did not save and ignore or attack those who say otherwise.


Since taking office, President Trump has taken to Twitter to point to the rising stock market, strong jobs numbers and the health of the overall economy as signs of his success.

While his claims are largely true, most if not all of the positive indicators continue trends that began during the Obama administration — metrics Mr. Trump dismissed as “fiction” and “disastrous” before becoming president. But as Sean Spicer, then his press secretary, said when the jobs numbers measuring the first full month of Mr. Trump’s tenure came out: “They may have been phony in the past, but it’s very real now.” Let’s take stock of the Trump economy.

* * *

At 4.3 percent in July, the unemployment rate is near its lowest level since early 2001, as Mr. Trump has claimed. What’s more, the rate is less than half its peak at 10 percent in October 2009 in the wake of the recession.

But nearly all of that drop occurred on the watch of his predecessor, Barack Obama. When Mr. Obama left office in January, unemployment was at 4.8 percent.

Suggested Democratic Slogan for 2018 - "Solutions, Not Scapegoats"

I see a lot of wannabe Trumpism being pushed on this Board about trying to emulate Republicans by trying to condense the Democratic platform into a one line solution like "Repeal and Replace" or "Build the Wall and Make Mexico Pay for It," "No TPP," Etc. We hear that Democrats lack a simple message that distills the entirety of what the stand for into a jingle.

My take is why should we try to emulate Republicans? I think the mistake is that Democrats have been conditioned to be ashamed of their achievements. The Affordable Care Act is prime example as is the Paris Agreement. Democrats get things done in the real world overcoming virulent opposition from Republicans. Democrats try to make the lives of Americans better and it is a messy process.

At their core, Republicans offer to feed hate in response to tax cuts and deregulation for the rich and powerful. This is why their actual legislation is so hated. It is easy to promise better health care for lower prices. It is far more difficult to translate slogans into policy that actually helps people. So, what we have are Republicans falling back on scapegoats. Perhaps they can stoke white resentment and, in return, score tax cuts and deregulation for the rich and powerful.

Democrats need to resist the temptation to try to emulate Republicans. We need to stop being ashamed of our achievements with respect o Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, the ACA, Environmental Protections, Etc. If we do need to distill what Democrats stand for in 2018 into three words, it is "Solutions, Not Scapegoats."

We are not offering some pie in the sky utopia where America is Great Again. We offer real solutions. We may not always agree on the details, but unlike Republicans, we are sincere in actually trying to meet the needs of the American people.

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