Category Archives: Democratic vs. Republican Presidents

Democratic Congresswoman hammers GOP Tax Scam

Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA)

If you want to see how to conduct a hard-hitting line of questioning, look no further than the House Ways and Means Committee‘s November 6 hearing on the markup of the Republicans’ wildly misnamed “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.” The Democrats have already termed the Republicans’ bill the “GOP Tax Scam” for its central elements of cutting taxes for wealthy individuals and corporations, adding well over a trillion dollars to the national debt, and trying to make up for some of the shortfall by taking away important deductions for middle and lower income Americans, including home mortgages, medical expenses, state and local taxes, student loans, and teacher classroom expenses. Corporations, however, would not have to give up these or comparable deductions under the GOP Tax Scam. At last week’s hearing, Democratic Congresswoman Suzan DelBene of Washington took this theme one step further, by calmly asking a series of simple questions to Tom Barthold, the Chief of Staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation. As seen here in the video and in the transcript below, DelBene’s questions cut to the heart of the GOP Tax Scam’s fundamental unfairness:

Messaging guru George Lakoff asks: Why are you a Democrat?

Democratic Donkey

Dr. George Lakoff, retired professor of cognitive science and linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley and a communications guru for Democrats, asks this week’s key question: “Why are you a Democrat?” Lakoff’s question can be found at his blog, and on his Twitter feed:

Lakoff’s question comes at a crucial time for Democrats.

Republican Senators sending mixed messages

Sen. John McCain at a recent hearing.

It was big news on Tuesday when Republican U.S. Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona took to the Senate floor to announce that he would not run for re-election, and to attack Donald Trump and fellow Republicans for enabling the Trump administration’s “flagrant disregard for truth or decency” and a “regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms.” Just hours later, however, Flake joined all but two of his Republican colleagues to strike down a new rule from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that would have allowed class action lawsuits against financial institutions for predatory and deceptive business practices. This juxtaposition between words and deeds among Republican Senators is sending a mixed message to Americans.

The great Republican hoodwink

Donald Trump on the golf course, again

Donald Trump‘s approval numbers — as low as 32 percent — are the worst ever for a president at this point in his term. Likewise,  Trump’s handling of the hurricanes this season dropped 20 points to just 44 percent after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico and, instead of focusing on helping the people there (who are Americans), Trump took to the golf course and then criticized them. What’s amazing, though, is that Trump’s approval among Republicans is quite high. Why the disconnect?

Instead of getting distracted, drive the narrative

 

Puerto Rico devastation from Hurricane Maria

Back in February 2011, we published Messaging Maxim #1: Go On Offense. Perhaps some folks need a refresher course. In that post, we wrote, “If you’re fighting a political battle on the other side’s rhetorical turf, you’ve already lost.” At the time, such advice was referring to phony cultural issues like “Ground Zero Mosque” and “is President Obama a Muslim?” that Republicans had ginned up and repeated everywhere they could (see Messaging Maxim #2: Rinse and Repeat). With their herd mentality, the mainstream media then picked up these issues and focused their broadcasts, cablecasts and column space on them.

Fast forward to today. Donald Trump and the Republicans are doing the same thing again, and it’s working. Currently, the phony cultural issues are: “Kneeling NFL Players” and “Harvey Weinstein.” To those, you can add, “NBC and CNN Licenses.” By next week, expect different cultural issues.

Donald Trump, the Great Divider

Armed white supremacist in Charlottesville, VA

Successful presidents of both political parties are usually the ones who, in times of crisis or difficulty, rise above partisanship and unite America. There are many examples of this, from Abraham Lincoln literally keeping the Union together, to Franklin Roosevelt leading us against Germany and Japan in World War 2, to Ronald Reagan eulogizing the Challenger Space Shuttle astronauts or calling upon Soviet head of state Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down” the Berlin Wall, Bill Clinton soothing a shocked America after the Oklahoma City bombing, George W. Bush standing with firefighters at the World Trade Center site after the 9/11 attacks, and Barack Obama successfully hunting down and killing Osama bin Laden. We may not agree with the policies these presidents pursue after such crises (for example, Bush’s Iraq War), but at least for a time, these leaders make us feel like we’re part of one big, strong nation.

Unfortunately, this is not the case with Donald Trump. Rather than being a Great Uniter, he has repeatedly proven himself to be the Great Divider, usually along racial and ethnic lines. Indeed, Trump essentially begun his presidential run during Barack Obama’s presidency by being one of the head cheerleaders in the “birther” movement, which questioned Obama’s Americanism and his birth certificate. Trump then ran his own presidential campaign in a divisive manner from the get-go, saying in his presidential announcement speech about Mexican immigrants:

They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.

From there, Trump has pitted one group (often his base of white males) against another, including the following partial list:

The sad, selfish argument against healthcare

Senate GOP Healthcare bill

In the current debate over Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, one of the saddest arguments to be heard is the one that goes, “why should I pay for someone else’s healthcare?” Such an argument gets many things wrong at once, both intellectually and morally.

First, the entire concept of insurance is a pooling of funds and risk, so that everyone is literally paying for someone else, and vice versa. For example, in South Florida, one is told that car insurance rates are high for all residents because there are many claims due to the large number of tourists getting into trouble with rental cars on unfamiliar roads. Many local residents would rightfully object to paying higher rates for others’ accidents, but that is how insurance works. The idea, however, is that costs are kept down by pooling the risk, for example, such that middle-aged drivers might pay more than they get back in claims, but when they are both very young and very old, they are much more likely to have more claims, so the system balances out. Similarly, the Affordable Care Act (based on a conservative idea from the Heritage Foundation and first implemented by Republican Governor Mitt Romney in Massachusetts) incorporates premiums paid by younger people, who generally have fewer claims, going more to older and sicker people, but such young people of course could get into a serious accident or become sick themselves any time, plus they are likely to have more claims as they age. Thus, the idea of “why am I paying for someone else?” may only be true for a brief moment.

Social media coverage of Hurricane Harvey brings Americans together

Driver receives assistance in Pearland, TX during Hurricane Harvey

This past weekend, Twitter and Facebook posts about the Mayweather-McGregor fight gave way to posts about Hurricane Harvey making landfall in Texas, and causing tremendous flooding devastation. Since then, as more traditional media such as broadcast and cable TV news are making admirable efforts on the scene with live reporting (and even some rescue work), social media users are sending around gobs of information, donation and volunteering tips, and rescue requests. Here are some of the highlights of social media activity in Houston, around the U.S. and in other countries as well:

How to talk to your Republican friends about Donald Trump

Donald Trump: If it does not fit, you must quit

There’s no sport in bashing Donald Trump nowadays. At least once a week, and sometimes once per day, Trump does or says something so shocking, insensitive or stupid that we just can’t believe it. The most recent shocker was Trump’s impromptu press conference days after the tragic pro-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia that included a terrorist attack, where Trump blamed “many sides,” and said there were “fine people” on the pro-Nazi side. Eventually, we come to expect more such behavior from Trump.

It’s therefore easy for Donald Trump’s critics to bond with one another and trade attacks on Trump. But what if you have friends who are Republicans and Trump supporters? What can you say to them without wrecking the friendship? I have come up with the following statement that just might do the trick, and maybe even make your friends think twice about their support for Trump:

Donald Trump and the Nazis

Anti-Nazi demonstration in Pittsburgh in solidarity with Charlottesville victims

The latest tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia can be laid at the doorstep of Donald Trump‘s White House. After a terrorist attack by a white supremacist at a neo-Nazi rally that left one counter-protester, Heather Heyer, dead and multiple people wounded (two Virginia state troopers were also killed when their helicopter crashed on the way to the scene), Trump could not condemn the right wing hate. Instead, shockingly, he said:

We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides.

Obviously, there are not “many sides” to the white supremacist hate on parade in Charlottesville. There were the bigoted haters, some of them armed, and the people who came out to protest against them. The terrorist, James Fields, even chose the same method of driving a vehicle into a crowd of civilians as is used in other terrorist incidents. Even web hosting company GoDaddy has dumped white supremacist website the Daily Stormer, after the site posted a vicious attack on Heather Heyer which followed its promotion of the Charlottesville rally.