Introducing the Trump Scorecard

You may have already gotten wind of this new and revolutionary method of keeping tabs on the president-elect. It is on my blog: I will cease reminding (badgering) you when I have posted on the blog, so I  encourage anyone who is interested and wants to follow my take on the Trump saga using the scorecard, to become a blog subscriber, which you can do by clicking the tab on the left on the  blog website. Most important: you are invited to weigh in. Don’t miss the excitement! We may be in for quite a ride.

Joe Howell

Fear And Loathing In America

I have been working to try to make meaning of the Presidential election and its aftermath now for over a week. I keep focusing on a number of important and sometimes conflicting data points. Voter turnout was the lowest in twenty years. The exit polls showed that the majority of whites, including women, voted for Trump with two-thirds of non-college whites supporting him. More than a third of Latinos voted for the president-elect. One in ten Millennials voted for a third party. Hillary Clinton looks like she will win the popular vote by over 2 million votes. Protests against the results have taken place in cities like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. Schools, elementary to college, have reported an uptick in acts of hate against Jews, Muslims and Blacks since election day.

With this limited information, I have been trying to grasp what this says about our country, what it means for low-income people in America’s cities and what it means for the work of Living Cities, the organization I lead. Of course, I do not have all the answers to those questions but ten days later, these are some of my initial takeaways:

Race and Women
The election clearly was, in part, a reaction to a changed America that many Americans simply are having a hard time coming to terms with. One is about race. The other is about women. There is no doubt that fear of demographic change played a role in this election. Continue reading “Fear And Loathing In America”

Now They Tell Us!

What Voters Should Have Known BT (before Trump election)

Post election I have been maybe strangely eager to keep steady on my total newspaper reading time and also not so strangely eager to avoid eye contact with front-page pictures of DT. I flip fast to the editorial page, and don’t skip the letters to the editor.  One letter on November 2 in the NYT seemed to me to lay out a “Big Why” America got itself into a situation where the losing Presidential candidate beat her opponent by 2.5 million votes and counting.

We have heard a lot about the role of the media in Donald Trump’s victory (there I said his name!) starting with fake news and continuing the loopy road past every brand name screech (I mean tweeeeach). We have talked about the media being all to happy to make money off of reality show antics that they can present as real politics, because in fact that is what real politics are today.  We have talked about the major distortion built into political coverage when political extremism on one side of the spectrum is equated with extremism on the other side, even though no reality test could make them even close to “balanced”. Continue reading “Now They Tell Us!”

Putting A Stop To Job Exportation Overseas? At What Cost, Mr. Trump?

During the campaign Donald Trump made a point of saying he would stop the export of US jobs.  He held up in particular the example of a Carrier air conditioner manufacturing plant in Indiana.  Its announcement that workers
would be laid off and the plant moved to Mexico was recorded by a worker on a smartphone and went viral.

Last week Carrier announced it had changed its mind and 800 jobs would be retained in Indiana. The press announced Trump did a “victory lap”, visiting the plant to take credit for keeping the jobs.

It soon appeared the State of Indiana (of which Vice President-elect Pence is Governor) had offered Carrier $700 million in tax breaks and other incentives to keep the jobs.

On almost the same day last week it was announced that the US economy had added 170, 000 new jobs in  November as part of the ongoing economic recovery. So while Trump and Pence had preserved 800 jobs temporarily through taxpayer subsides, economic policies put in place by President Obama had created over 100 times more permanent jobs without political intimidation or subsidies. Continue reading “Putting A Stop To Job Exportation Overseas? At What Cost, Mr. Trump?”

I. Post Election Message To Democrats: Get Busy On All Of The Above (Below)

The horrible specter of Donald Trump as our President elect, twittering himself into the Oval Office – that is if he wouldn’t rather stay in his penthouse, walls covered in gold framed pictures of himself – should not drive us down into the nuclear bomb shelter in the cellar. We must push back on all fronts with multiple strategies some of which are listed below:

A. Go back to the states and localities; fight from the grassroots up.

Newspapers are littered with projects and government policies, large and small, that governments and citizens can take up. Two random examples: 1. A statewide push for soda taxes, benefitting both the health of the citizens and providing funds for needed projects and institutions. 2. Refusing local police assistance to the federal government in any drive to round up immigrants. Such actions might even stop a general deportation of “the Dreamers”.

Many high national priority goals are only going to work if action is organized at the state and local level.
Two examples:

  1. Stopping the corrosion of money in politics by repealing Citizens United.
  2. Ensuring elections are run by a non-partisan entity, including decisions on establishing new boundaries for election districts.

Advocating working at state and local level is not to advocate “going small.”  California is the 10th largest economy in the world. New York City is a major power.  The only downside to this strategy is if people think they don’t have to think at the national and international level.  We will have to do both. Continue reading “I. Post Election Message To Democrats: Get Busy On All Of The Above (Below)”

From the Press

I. “There’s something both grotesque and bracing about the confrontation between Clinton, with her disciplined professionalism, and Trump, with his increasingly frenzied assertions of male prerogative. Like the female protagonist of a quest narrative—or, perhaps, of a dystopian fantasy—Clinton has made it through all her challenges to face the bull-headed Minotaur of sexism at the end of the maze.”

—-Margaret Talbot (New Yorker Oct. 16)


II. “It is indeed hard to say a kind word about Congress…Republicans contribute significantly to the breaking of the system, and then they thunder to the country that the system is broken. They refuse to govern, and then they denounce government. They seem to confuse governing with having their way. And more to the point, how does this vast alienation from Washington excuse this vast contempt for whole groups and races and genders? Continue reading “From the Press”

Trump On Comey: “He Brought Back His Reputation”

Donald Trump is infallibly wrong, regardless of issue or fact.  Sometimes, however, there is a twisted pathway to truth in what he says. Trump praises FBI Director James Comey for doing the right thing – “bringing back his reputation” – in stating he was opening an investigation in emails found in Clinton aide Huma Abedin’s ex husband and former congressman, Anthony Weiner’s email archive. Using the word “reputation,” Trump is almost certainly pointing to the reason for Comey’s action.

Comey had been grilled in Congress in July on the investigation into Clinton’s emails, an investigation he and other justice officials had declared completed, with Comey declaring that they would not bring any charges against Clinton, although making at the same time an unprecedented written comment that she had been “careless”; this was a statement widely denounced, because, among other reasons, it did not give Clinton a forum in which to defend herself. Continue reading “Trump On Comey: “He Brought Back His Reputation””

Yo Millenials! What The Hell Are You Thinking?

Friends: I completely understood the fascination of young people with Bernie Sanders’ appeal for a new political revolution during this election season. My whole life I have been arguing for clean alternative energy to fossil fuels, eliminating the corrupting influence of special interest money on our politics, equal pay for women in the workplace, equal rights for all citizens, progressive tax reform, and free college expenses for those who can’t afford it.

Hillary Clinton is about my age, and I also get it that people under 30 may look at her and my generation as a bunch of old timers who have been around too long and may no longer seem all that relevant. That is a generational problem that Bernie managed to avoid.

When Bernie failed to get the nomination, there were a lot of hurt feelings among many of his loyal followers, so I am not surprised when many of them looked to the third party candidates who are on the ballot. I will focus my remarks on current Millennial support for the Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. Continue reading “Yo Millenials! What The Hell Are You Thinking?”

What Are Trump’s Qualifications For The Presidency: Businessman or Brand Name Hawker?

One of the contestants in Monday night’s Presidential debate knows what job she is competing for. The other one, Donald Trump, is cheered as “change maker”, and since things would certainly be different under a Trump Presidency, that is not a lie or false promise. Masses of Trump supporters say they also support him because of his business background. Trump has charged repeatedly that America and America’s Presidents are failing because they don’t know enough about making money. As in everything, he is the answer. But are his supposedly great credentials as a businessman as hollow – or sinister – as everything else about him?   When responding to criticisms about making money off of the 2008 financial crash, Trump said “that’s called business, by the way.” And apparently he doesn’t think he should change how he operates in the Oval office from how he does his current job of being a real estate mogul.

Or is that his current job?  A CBS Frontline special on the candidates Wednesday moved the viewer to conclude that his job was basically keeping his media image marketable. It is more accurate to see him as media star than a businessman. His qualification for the Presidency may well be his career as a reality show star. Even his real estate empire is basically selling his name to others who own the buildings. He is a brand hawker. Continue reading “What Are Trump’s Qualifications For The Presidency: Businessman or Brand Name Hawker?”

How Republicans Rule

How Republicans Rule

This is the first in a series on the subject of the Republican Party record on governing. An examination of the party’s ideology as it is currently practiced in states under Republican administration reveals their failure to accomplish anything they have promised in terms of economic growth and the devastating punishment of their citizens caused by cutbacks on services and authoritarian intrusion in their private lives.

The effect of outsourcing of public services is our first subject, and directly linked to Republican ideology.  In addition, private corporations benefitting from outsourcing are almost always headquartered in Republican states.

How Republicans Rule: Outsourcing 1

The Prisoner Transportation Business:
Butler County Ohio is one of the dozens of states and countless localities that outsources the transportation of prisoners. Based in Tennessee, Prisoner Transportation Services of America Is one of the largest of these for-profit institutions. Continue reading “How Republicans Rule”