The Great Republican Rift

The bathroom bill is the latest issue to expose the split between social conservatives and business Republicans.

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Photo by Bob Daemmrich

The business establishment has run Texas since before any of us were born. They were the robber barons of the oil industry, and the corporate executives, particularly of the insurance companies. They believed in government so long as it was lean and stayed out of their way. They often opposed President Roosevelt’s “socialist” New Deal, and they coined the anti-union phrase “right to work.” When the Democratic Party started shifting further to the left in the 1960s, the business establishment led the effort, over about thirty years, to turn Texas into a Republican state.

And along the way, the establishment Republicans—once called country club Republicans—formed an alliance with a necessary constituency group: unruly Republican cousins of the evangelical, fundamentalist Christian variety more interested in social issues than in the idea that what is good for business is good for Texas. The alliance has been fraying for years. This session, in the Texas Senate at least, business Republicans found that they have lost control to the social conservatives. Whether it was the so-called bathroom bill to restrict transgender access to restrooms or the sanctuary city crackdowns on illegal immigrants, social conservatives are treating Texas business like an enemy rather than an ally.

  • When the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce announced opposition to the bathroom bill, Senate co-sponsor Kelly Hancock of North Richland Hills resigned his membership. (Hancock decline repeated requests to comment.)
  • After the Texas Association of Business sent the Senate a letter of opposition to sanctuary city legislation, the leader of the right-wing Empower Texans publicly urged tea party conservatives to boycott the organization’s members. The TAB is the umbrella organization for local chambers of commerce as well as individual business members, including some of the largest corporations in Texas.
  • During a committee hearing on the bathroom bill, Senator Paul Bettencourt of Houston publicly dressed down Texas Association of Business President Chris Wallace over a flawed study on the potential economic impact of the Legislature passing a bill perceived as discriminatory. Even with shortcomings in the study, Wallace said, there is no doubt that the bathroom bill would negatively affect some businesses in the state. Bettencourt exploded at Wallace: “It is absolutely fake news for the president of the Texas Association of Business to be quoting a study that has an absolutely zero credibility rating.”
  • Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and bathroom bill author Lois Kolkhorst of Brenham held a press conference with groups such as Vision America and the US Pastor Council to announce a self-proclaimed “Christian” lobby effort to force passage of the bathroom bill in the Texas House.

All this has put the Texas business community in an unusual position. Increasingly Texas businesses have found that social conservative wedge issues have an effect on their bottom line. Unauthorized immigrants are needed in the construction and service industries, while members of the LGBT community often have money to spend and the educated job skills needed in a modern economy. Four years ago, major homebuilders and grocers convinced the Texas House to kill sanctuary city legislation. Two years ago, the city of Plano approved a non-discrimination ordinance as part of attracting Toyota to move its national headquarters there. The Republican Party of Texas is at odds with itself.

“The Republican Party became the majority party in Texas because it was right of center and as George W. Bush described it, ‘compassionate conservatives,’” said Austin lawyer Hector De Leon, co-chairman of the business-oriented Associated Republicans of Texas. “Somewhere between the 1990s and today we lost that notion of compassion, and we became focused on issues that divide rather than unite people.”

As the Texas Senate debated the bathroom bill on Tuesday, senators received a letter opposing the bill on the grounds that it will harm the state’s business climate. The letter came from the TAB. “As the state’s leading conservative business voice, we’ve played a big role in our state’s most challenging and important legislative, regulatory and judicial debates over the years. In all of our legislative work, we have maintained our commitment to the values that ensure Texas’ economy flourishes, read the letter by TAB President Chris Wallace. “Our opposition to SB 6 [the bathroom bill] is grounded in the threat it poses to those very Texas, very pro-business values.”

Professional and amateur sports groups have threatened to cancel events in Texas if SB 6 passes, and some conventions already have cancelled plans. Some of the businesses that have signed a letter in opposition to the bill include Apple, Dow, HP, IBM, Intel, Visit Dallas, SXSW, AMD, American Airlines, LaQuinta Inns & Suites, Marriott International, the Plano Chamber of Commerce, and Richardson Chamber of Commerce.

For more than forty years, groups like the Associated Republicans of Texas, Texans for Lawsuit Reform, and TAB poured millions of dollars into the political campaigns of state House and Senate candidates who were fiscally conservative and business oriented. The TAB was instrumental in turning the Texas House Republican in the 2002 election, with a $1.7 million direct mail campaign on behalf of twenty-four candidates. The joke after that election was that the TAB hadn’t bought the Legislature, it had just rented it for 140 days. The result was passage of major tort-reform legislation. (The price was a criminal investigation of TAB and its president, Bill Hammond, by District Attorney Ronnie Earle for allegedly violating campaign finance laws.) Thanks to TAB’s efforts, the Republicans had a legislative majority for the first time in 130 years

But as the business Republicans were coalescing their power, the social conservative movement was growing. It began when social conservatives essentially took over the state party convention in 1994. In that year, Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson sent “Dear Christian Friend” letters urging followers to go to precinct caucuses to capture the party. U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, seen as too moderate on abortion, was chased out of the Bexar County convention with shouts of “pro-choice! Pro-choice!” The state party secretary angered social conservatives when she alleged it was the first state convention where delegates were asking about trailer hookups instead of hotel rooms. Party Chairman Fred Meyer, chief executive of the Aladdin thermos company, did not seek re-election, and future White House communications director Karen Hughes resigned as the party’s executive director.

Republican politicians like Hutchison and Bush had an uneasy truce with the social conservatives, while former Governor Rick Perry embraced a portion of their agenda and encouraged them because they represent about forty percent of the Republican primary vote. With that support, winning the primary becomes easier, and the general election was no problem. Where Texas once had Yellow Dog Democrats, it now has Red Rock Republicans, general election voters who would vote for a red rock so long as it ran as a Republican. With each election cycle, though, social conservatives were less and less willing to accept anything less than one of their own.

As Texas Monthly’s Paul Burka wrote after the 2012 election, “The result is that, with each successive election cycle, the GOP becomes more and more the party of ideologues, who entered politics in the age of hyper-partisanship, and less and less the party of Main Street business leaders, who cared about fiscal responsibility but also focused on improving public education and building better roads. This puts the party on a dangerous course, because excess is typically followed by backlash.”

Former TAB president Hammond was one of Governor Bill Clements’ business conservatives when he was in the Legislature and later as a Cements appointee to the Texas Workforce Commission. During his tenure as the head of the TAB, the group not only pushed legislation like tort reform, but also tried to protect the state’s program to provide in-state tuition to college for undocumented immigrant students who graduated from Texas high schools. Hammond told me he believes the primaries of both parties have moved so far from the middle that legislating to the vast majority of Texans and the business community has become difficult, with the state’s politics mired in niche issues important only to primary voters. “Those people between the 40 yard lines are ignored,” Hammond said. “The more moderate people who favor getting something done are ignored, and getting something done is not a priority.”

In state government, the last bastion of business Republicanism is the Texas House under Speaker Joe Straus. And groups like the ART and TAB have consistently backed Straus Republicans.

“ART believes that the Legislature ought to be focused on those issues which are mandated by the constitution, such as setting the budget and such as being responsible for issues such as funding for education, issues that affect the lives of Texans ever day of the week,” ART’s De Leon said. “It is about governance, not taking an issue that might be the issue of the day.”

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  • WUSRPH

    Good analysis…..But the question is where do we go from here? Does Texas continue the spiral downward with Dan Patrick or does it at least try to adjust to the present, if not the future, with Joe Straus?

    • WUSRPH

      I suspect we will soon hear from the “its all getting better….those people are out of touch” group who will tell us that the future is going to be different….(JJ)….It’s a nice thought….but based on nothing but hope….
      I have to question how anyone can think things are changing for the better when:

      On the State level, we have a State Senate and its leader who thinks the most important problems facing our state are sanctuary cities and which bathroom we use…..and diverting funds to private schools in the name of Christian Choice….That is dragging out facing the budget….that is dedicated to applying a fiscal garrote to both local and state government, making it impossible for either to meet the public needs and which would gleefully go much farther than even Ryan/Trump to reduce health and welfare in Texas;

      Or, on the national level, we have a series effort being made to deprive millions of people basic health care coupled for a massive tax cut for the wealth with a dedicated effort to drag America back to the Golden Days of 1920s.

    • BCinBCS

      I think that the radical Republicans will have to be treated like the small child who is constantly being told not to touch something because it is hot. They will ignore the warnings and be burned. It’s truly unfortunate that the rest of us will also experience the pain.

  • BCinBCS

    Great summary of the rise of radical Republicanism, R.G.

  • SpiritofPearl

    Let’s be honest. The GOP has become the party of white nationalism:

    http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/03/14/the-gop-is-americas-party-of-white-nationalism/

    • WUSRPH

      I was a little surprised that yours was the only comment—and then an indirect one—on US Rep. Steve King’s blatant racism about “other’s peoples’ babies” and his wanting this to be a “homogenous nation in which we all look alike” (and if I understand his real meaning—think and act alike too). Of course, it’s easy to say the man is being racist but it is harder to say why he is wrong about America.

      It is also easy to get up on a throne of purity and condemn all who have for even a moment had similar thoughts….It would be easy, but probably misstating the situation for, although it is hard to admit, I think that most of us have, on one occasion or another had that “this isn’t my country” feeling when faced with a “foreign” situation in our country. I must admit that I have…..

      But King’s mistake is that he does not understand America. He looks around and sees people of differing colors, origins, faiths and, to him, political views but thinks that means that America has become sort of a heterogeneous mish-mash in danger of losing what has made it a nation.

      His fatal error is that he identifies race and religion as being the unifying element that has kept the United States together and inspired its greatness. That may have been the case in other places and other nations—and may still be in some cases—but it has never been the unifying element in America. Our unifying element has not been what we look like, or how we speak but what we believe……

      Many look at the pictures of the Pilgrims and the early English settlers and see them as being a single
      ethnic, racial and religious group and think that is what made America. The reality is, of course, different. American was a heterogeneous grouping of different nationalities, languages and religions even then—ranging from the rigid Puritans of Massachusetts to the Cavaliers of Virginia, to the free-thinkers of Rhode Island and the Dutch in NY to the Swedes in NJ and the Quakers and Germans of Pennsylvania to the Scot-Irish of the Upper County of the Carolinas thru the slaves of the south to my small group of Roman Catholic English hiding out on the shores of the Chesapeake. The majority, not counting the Slaves and the Native Americans, may have shared a color of skin, but little us in the kinds of terms in which King thinks.

      All were eventually absorbed by the English majority, but carried with them into the new entity
      many of their differences.

      Since then America has absorbed wave after wave of immigrants from the Catholic Irish of the Famine and after, to a second wave of Germans, followed by Poles, Italians, Norwegians, Swedes and various East Europeans, including Jews. Since then it has taken in Vietnamese, Indians, Chinese as well as numerous other groups and millions of Hispanics from our neighbors to the South, not including those who were here before the Anglos.

      Each new group was met with dismay and claim by the Rep. Kings of their day that they would destroy what America stands for because they did no share either the alleged dominant color, religion, language or race. But, each group, in turn has been absorbed and become part of the fiber of this nation…..What made that possible was not their color or the religion but what had brought all of them but the slaves to America in the first place—a search for new opportunity in a new land free of the restraints of race, creed and class that had restrained them in the former homes. That desire—and the institutions of Liberty it gave rise to—is what makes Americans, not their color or religion but bad King and so many others cannot see beyond the surface.

      • SpiritofPearl

        Have you read E. L. Doctorow’s “Gangs of New York” or seen Scorsese’s film of the book? Bob the Butcher still lives . . .

        • WUSRPH

          They Knew Nothing then….They still Know Nothing.

  • roadgeek

    I saw a 21-10 vote today in the Senate, Mr. Ratcliffe, with all the Republicans voting “aye”. What rift?

    • WUSRPH

      He was not talking about a rift on the Senate Floor—but I suspect that if they could have voted a secret ballot without Patrick being able to find out how they voted you would have seen far less than 21 yes votes….What he is talking about is the rift between the majority of the people of Texas and the few who vote in the party primaries.

  • roadgeek

    “….Unauthorized immigrants are needed in the construction and service industries,…”

    “….Unauthorized immigrants are [wanted] in the construction and service industries, (as they cost less than Americans)….” There. Fixed it for you, Mr. Ratcliffe.

    Someone built the houses and skyscrapers in Texas before illegal aliens. Someone worked in the back-of-the-house in our restaurants, and someone cleaned the hotel rooms in every town and city in this state. And it wasn’t illegal aliens. It was highly skilled craftsmen who drew good wages for their work, wages which supported families and paid taxes. It was unskilled whites and blacks, who had nothing else to sell in the labor market except a strong back and a will to work. It was people just starting out in the world of work, teenagers mostly, who learned valuable lessons while performing manual labor. That pundits such as yourself see illegal labor as a public good sickens me.

    My impression is that there are a great many people in this state who don’t give a Tinker’s Damn what TAB or the Chamber of Commerce or Joe Straus of Charles Butt or Perry Homes wants or desires. And these people vote, and they’ve elected representatives who didn’t run and give Joe Straus a tongue bath as soon as they got to Austin. And that’s why this is happening, and you act surprised. Well, hang on, R. G., the ride has only started, and you’ve got an E ticket……

    • WUSRPH

      You are right….Those unskilled job were “first generation” jobs…..including former slaves who were moving away from the southern fields. We have had group after group filing those jobs and then moving up within the economy since the days of the indentured servants in the early colonies. The illegals are today’s First Generation of today….and when they have been observed by the work force and moved upwards, there will have to be another First Generation after them. People don’t see First Generation jobs as a career for themselves and especially for their children.

    • SpiritofPearl

      Ah, Geek, construction trades north of the Mason-Dixon line were staffed with UNION workers, a dirty word in Texas. In a “right to work for less money” state like Texas, money is the bottom line.

      Go hang a picture of Andrew Jackson over the mantel. He is your new god-emperor

  • WUSRPH

    Wednesday’s history quiz:

    What was happening during this week 100 years ago that changed the history of the world. (A Hint. It only happened this week if you use the Georgian Calendar which we use today.. The place where it happened was not on that Calendar but on the Julian so it dated the events as being on different days than we do today.)

    • José

      Well the hint certainly helped.
      Just one more lesson from history, when people get fed up and change things because, hey, nothing could be worse, right? And then they find out how wrong they were.

      • WUSRPH

        Yep….The Russian Revolution (non-Bolshevik). The Czar abdicated 100 years ago today.

        • José

          The following year his cousin, Wilhelm II, would also abdicate his position as Emperor of Germany. And just like the ineffective Provisionsal Government in Russia was overthrown the the Communists, the Weimar Republic in Germany was eventually replaced by people who considered it so bad that any alternative would be better. They, too, were terribly mistaken.

          Could such foolishness happen again? Would people today actually choose a corrupt, secretive, thieving, inexperienced, egotistical, dangerous autocrat as their leader?

  • BCinBCS

    The Republican rift in the Texas state legislature is not the only Republican rift. I have been trying to do a deep dive into the American Health Care Act (TrumpRyancare) but after merely scratching the surface, I am finding that it is so bad that going further is a waste of my time. Compound the fact that TrumpRyancare is such a bad policy with the fact that Republicans hate it and it becomes an exercise in futility to thoroughly study it.

    Nonetheless, there are a few interesting observations that can be made.

    The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has a hard job predicting what will happen over ten years. The job becomes markedly easier the shorter the time period. The CBO estimated that 14 million more people would be uninsured under TrumpRyancare than under Obamacare next year. That number expands to 21 million in 2020 and to 24 million in 2026. How accurate is that long-term estimate? Well, the Comrade Trump/Bannon internal estimate was that 26 million would be uninsured so the CBO report would appear to be somewhat on the conservative side. Of course Paul Ryan was quick to point out the upside – that premiums would be 10% cheaper for those insured who are left.

    An interesting item found in one of the footnotes in the CBO report states that TrumpRyancare will also lead to a decrease of $3 billion in social security outlays. Is this a welcome unexpected consequence of the plan? Well, yes and no. It turns out that due to the increase in the number of Americans not having health insurance, there will be an increase in deaths (7,000 in 2018 rising to 29,000 in 2026) that would mean there will be fewer people needing social security benefits in the future. (Ya?)

    Of course, without the family planning services and contraception provided by the 650 nation wide Planned Parenthood health centers that will be closed under the plan, the birth rate will certainly increase by several thousand, producing even more Democrats and brown individuals.

    Oh, and that Republican rift that I mentioned earlier? Well, don’t forget that there are tea party Republicans who oppose TrumpRyancare because they do not believe that the government should be providing health care to anyone.

    • Margaretbmorrison

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      On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
      !dy273c:
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    • BCinBCS

      So far, TrumpRyancare is proceeding swimmingly.
      /s
      (Despite the “Squirrel” of Comrade Trump releasing his tax return.) https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/00489f5ae15424b55df28c1311fba44d6a6f488cb9fcc19c51a247a87ee71f3a.jpg

      • BCinBCS

        BTW, the politics of this on the Republican side are fascinating. Some of you may be tired of TrumpRyancare and Obamacare so if you are interested, let me know and I’ll post them, otherwise, I’ll give it a rest. (This is what passes for juicy gossip in my world.)

        • José

          I, for one, admit to feeling a bit guilty about what the GOP is experiencing right now. But, dang, those folks have no one to blame but themselves.

          • SpiritofPearl

            Enjoy! Seven years of bellowing and this is what they cooked up?

  • John Bernard Books

    I chuckle when I read the uninformed comments. When Lt Guv Patrick went to the Texas Senate 29 of the 31 Texas Senators paid little or no property taxes while taxing the voters out of their homes. Under Lt Guv Patrick’s leadership even Joe Straus is reluctantly admitting we need property tax reform. That is how you get unity is through leadership not through threats or coercion the Straus way……

  • WUSRPH

    Interesting article in the Wash-Post on line today about how Trump voters are not yet unhappy with him but are “deeply distrustful” of the GOP Congress. Not that original, but it sure gives Trump an out if Ryan/Trump blows up in their face and/or the Congress fails to build the wall or tax imports and much of the other Trump “promises”. I’ve talked before about FDR’s unsuccessful attempt in 1938 to purge several Democratic members of the US Senate who did not support his programs…..We could well see Trump trying to do the same to members in both Houses next year….It could be his equivalent of a “Night of the Long Knives”…..

    • SpiritofPearl

      The “GOP congress”? My read was that they distrusted all Congress critters.

  • PrattonTexas

    TAB has a relatively small membership. NFIB-Texas has exponentially more paid members and respresents far more businesses, far more. They poll their membership on issues, why not find out what their position is?

    • WUSRPH

      TAB is BIG business.

  • WUSRPH

    Trump and his minions continue to STRETCH the meaning of “wiretap” to cover more and more things. By the time they are threw trying to cover his ass, it will be down to a charge that at some point in the campaign President Obama asked some one who had been in the Trump Tower how they thought Trump would do in the election.

  • WUSRPH

    No Trump in Holland!

    • SpiritofPearl

      The Dutch are a well educated people.

      • WUSRPH

        Prior to January 30, 1933, the Germans were considered to be the most educated people in Europe. Just knowing things is clearly not enough. Understanding them is more important.

        • SpiritofPearl

          The Dutch understand more than the Americans who voted for the Mad King!

  • WUSRPH

    Speaking of a GREAT RIFT. I presume you saw that:

    (a) A federal judge in Hawaii has enjoined Trump’s second try at a Muslim ban; and
    (b) Trump is openly comparing himself to Andrew Jackson.

    The two could be related if Trump were to “do an Andrew Jackson” and refuse to accept or implement a court order he disagrees with as Jackson did on the Georgia Indian rights case. This would present a major challenge to the constitutional order of doing things.

  • WUSRPH

    Speaking of Andrew Jackson:

    There are many things you can say about Andrew Jackson, one of two of which might even be complimentary, but today’s question involves something he was first of among America’s presidents. What is that FIRST?

    • BCinBCS

      He is by far first on my list of Presidents that I hate but Comrade Trump/Bannon is making up time on the back-stretch. (It galls me that I have to use paper money with his picture.)

      • WUSRPH

        He was the FIRST president from a non-big state. The six prior presidents had all been from the state’s with the largest populations—-two (Adams) from Massachusetts and four (Washington, Jefferson, Madison and Monroe) all from Virginia.

        • BCinBCS

          I didn’t like his genocide or his graft.

  • John Bernard Books

    Obama made it a habit of spying on Americans….
    “[The hacking was done by] a sophisticated entity that used commercial, nonattributable spyware that’s proprietary to a government agency: either the CIA, FBI, the Defense Intelligence Agency or the National Security Agency.”
    http://ijr.com/2014/10/192995-stonewalled-sharyl-attkissons-computer-bugged-by-government-one-of-a-number-of-claims-revealed-in-new-book/

    did Obama hate women?

  • SpiritofPearl
    • WUSRPH

      Admiral Horthy, who founded this organization, is no hero…..but he was certainly not the Ultra-Nazi supporter this article describes. In fact, his government was overthrown and Hungary was occupied by German troops because he reversed policies and stopped the deportation of Jews. You can get a more balanced picture of him from this article form the Shoah organization, a Jewish holocaust study group.

      http://www.yadvashem.org/odot_pdf/Microsoft%20Word%20-%206429.pdf

      I will not defend his bad acts, but, like most humans, he was a mixture of good and bad…

    • WUSRPH

      The article is slanted and somewhat inaccurate so I would not rely on it to make a judgment of Gorka.

      Admiral Horthy, who founded the VR organization, is no hero and certainly not one by the standards of today…..but he was also not the monster the article describes. In fact, his government was overthrown and Hungary was occupied by German troops because he first opposed the deportations of Jews and later stopped them.. You can get a more balanced picture of him from this article from the Shoah Research Center, a Jewish holocaust study group. There is little doubt that Horthy and and his government were anti-Semitic, but so were most Europeans and many, many Americans of the
      time. The difference was that they, unlike the Germans, put limit on their actions against Jews.

      http://www.yadvashem.org/odot_pdf/Microsoft%20Word%20-%206429.pdf

      I will not defend his bad acts, but, like most humans, he was a mixture of good and bad…He and the original VR group were certainly ultra-nationalists Hungarians, and not the people you might have to dinner….but he deserves a more honest portrayal.

      As to Gorka’s connection with the organization and especially a group reestablished after the downfall
      of Communism in Hungary, it may be questionable but, based on his role as a Nazi-hunter in later years, I do not see it as a determination that he is evil. ……He may well see it as part of his Hungarian heritage and may view it more as an anti-Communist group….but I would not rely solely on this slanted article to judge him. His writings and opinions are enough to make me not want him to have a post in the WH….but he should not be condemned for the “sins of the father”. I might be more concerned if his father had been a member of the Hungarian Arrow Cross, the violently anti-Semitic party that was installed in power by Hitter, than with him being a member of the VR.

  • BCinBCS
    • BCinBCS

      Did you know that Comrade Trump/Bannon’s budget eliminates all funding for PBS, NPR and the arts?

      Here’s some comparable costs:

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/392a9cba494e5ecb60b551e811ae388c3cbf195cc4d2d864cf905371f8e94b23.png

      • WUSRPH

        I see you adopted my suggestion even before I made it.

    • WUSRPH

      Useful information, but it might be better if it were put into perspective by showing “the percentage of what” –i.e.—how little some of these budgets were in the first place when compared to Defense and health care, for example. What impresses (or depresses) me the most is that there appears to be little rhyme or reason for most of the proposals or any kind of a though-out view designed to meet some policy goals and to shape the future of the country.

      I can understand the money for Veterans Affairs and for “THE WALL” and the Dept. of Homeland Security as being necessary to fulfill at least part of a campaign promise or demonstrate that he is serious about immigration, but there seems to be no strategy or rational explanation for most of the rest of the budget.

      For example, the $54 billion for “defense” seems to be simply for the purpose of saying we spent more on defense with no plan to justify any particular program or need. You can make a case for some increases (or better redirections in current spending) for defense. But, you would expect that, if there was any such rational basis, it would show up in the way the spending is focused on certain areas. However, there appears to be no focus to the Trump proposals other than that he is spending money for defense in general.
      When Ronald Reagan went defense spending crazy he, at least, had a goal—-starting an arms race with the then Soviet Union that would, he hoped, eventually bankrupt them, but who is Trump trying to bankrupt? The Russians? The Chinese? If so, I doubt either is going to fall for the trick this time. as what happened to the Soviets should be a lesson to anyone that a strategy based on “superiority” is a sure way to economic imbalance when “sufficiency” is more than adequate. The fact is that there is
      no one anywhere near to us in military strength today and no one is likely to try when the road to world leadership is probably through economic, rather than military strength. The best I can figure is that what Trump is doing is more of a reflection of Trump’s psychological fixation with being “STRONG” and “TOUGH” than it does with any strategic plan.
      The same seems to be true with most of the rest of the budget for which the only justification appears to be is a desire to cut, without caring what is cut or why. The result is certainly not good policy, even if it does allow him to claim that he is not raising the deficit as much as he could otherwise.
      Of course, it probably makes little difference in the long run since, as is the case with all president’s budgets, this one has already been declared DOA on Capitol Hill and not just by his opponents but also by his friends. Presidents can influence policy—and thru that spending—but the Congress loves to remind them–no matter who they are—that it the Congress and not the president who decides on spending. Even Reagan found that out when they adopted his tax cuts but virtually none of his alleged spending cuts.

  • WUSRPH

    The hole which Gen. Flynn dug for himself seems to be getting deeper and deeper with more and more Russian-connections being revealed all the time.

    http://thehill.com/business-a-lobbying/324322-flynn-worked-for-multiple-russian-firms

    With all this building up there has got to be some real pressure to have a federal prosecutor take a look at his activities…but, of course, Sessions paralyzed most of the chances of that happening by dismissing all the remaining US attorneys. (I doubt the “professionals” who are standing in for them will be that anxious to take a look.) But at some point someone somewhere who is big enough is going to demand some action. When that happens it will be interesting to see whether Flynn is a John Dean or a Gordon Liddy. Which one could have a major impact on the Trump Administration (sic).

    • SpiritofPearl

      Then there is Turkey . . . and I don’t mean Thanksgiving.

  • WUSRPH

    Speaking of digging holes for oneself…Spicer gets deeper and deeper into the …. with his attempts to defend Trump’s “wiretap” tweets. It is getting harder and harder for any semi-objective person to accept anything he says….Soon they will be looking at the windows to double check him if he says the sun is up today. It is a shame to watch a man destroy himself out of either some misplaced loyalty or a desperate need to feel important. You know when the FBI and the GOP chairs of the intelligence committees say “it ain’t so”….he has to have a second thought…..but plow ahead he does.

    • José

      It’s bad enough that Trump is insulting our own intelligence officers. At least his team had the decency to apologize to the UK for false accusations. We don’t have as many friends around the world any more and it’s stupid to insult the remaining few.

    • SpiritofPearl

      From all reports the WH is a paranoid and unhappy place. The Mad King has learned that being president is not like being a game show host. He is petulant, vindictive, and cruel. His underlings scurry around humoring a maniac. Eventually it will either blow up or they will all learn to live with it.

      Living creatures must adapt or die.

  • WUSRPH

    Accuses the Brits of being the ones who spied on Trump, refusing to shake the hand of the German Chancellor (he did later, however) and calling for the abolishment of meals on wheels—-a great week for the Trump Administration (sic).

    P.S. He may get NPR/PBS and the Corp. for Public Broadcast—after all, we can’t have people teaching kids about brotherhood or news shows that may not report the official line as being the truth…….but he won’t get meals on wheels…..too many of those little old ladies who voted for him for the Congress to buy that one.

    • WUSRPH

      If someone really did spy on Trump Towers and it wasn’t any of those named so far, is there any chance that it could have been Israel? After all, they are a “friendly ally” that has a long record of “intelligence gathering” in the US. If you do a google, you will find that Jonathan Pollard was just probably their most successful penetrator. When you nation’s fate—as well as the fate of millions of your co-religionists—is at stake like theirs is, you tend to want to know anything and everything you can about what even your friends may be doing that affects you. Normally, I’d be upset that an “ally”, especially the one that receives more foreign and military aid from the US than anybody else—-including the right to operate our super secret new F-35 fighter before we have even equipped our own Air Force with more than a few—spied on us…..but somehow I (and our government) tend to give Israel some special consideration both because of the situation it finds itself in and, perhaps, because of some of remaining guilt for the US not having done more before and during WW II to aid the Jews of Europe.

  • Wurty

    I have an easy solution. Get rid of urinals. Put in only stalls and make the bathrooms unisex. Install a security camera that does not look into stalls.