Republican Candidates Compete to Demand Most Sociopathic Policies in Fox Business Debate; Front-Runners Scornfully Reject Minimum Wage Hike

Republican Candidates Compete to Demand Most Sociopathic Policies in Fox Business Debate; Front-Runners Scornfully Reject Minimum Wage Hike, but Pander to Wall Street with Promises of Tax Bonanzas; Trump Adamant for Mass Deportations, Which Guarantee a Fascist Police State for Christmas 2017; Carson Erratic and Delusional; Rand Paul Begrudges Tax Credits for Cash-Strapped Families

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Morning Briefing | Thursday, November 12, 2015

Another set of debates among the Republican presidential candidates has produced yet another mudslide of sociopathic policies, neofascist ideology, and borderline psychotic personalities cavorting across the television screens of Mr. and Mrs. America. Indeed, in both phases of last night’s troubling proceedings, the various presidential hopefuls seemed to be vying with each other to see who could dish up the biggest helping of criminal insanity to be force-fed to the poor gullible masses looking on. This fourth debate was sponsored by the Rupert Murdoch-Roger Ailes stable of mindbenders at Fox Business Network, meaning that the irascible News Corp. billionaire and his minions have shaped two out of the four Republican party gabfests, surely not a healthy situation for the future viability of the United States. The presentation of this debate seemed to be primarily in the hands of Neil Cavuto and the xenophobic Lou Dobbs – two cringing toadies and bootlickers for the Wall Street ruling class. Their job, as usual, was to blur and obfuscate reality to the point where a gaggle of reactionaries and fascists could be camouflaged as somehow normal or mainstream in the eyes of the audience.

In the main debate, much interest was focused on the supposed front-runners currently leading the pack as the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary come on apace. These leading candidates are generally thought to be the bombastic real estate speculator Donald Trump and the mentally unstable physician Ben Carson, usually followed by Marco Rubio, representing the gusanos y parásitos of Miami, and the right-wing anarchist Ted Cruz. That such creatures are even considered by anyone as potential presidential timber illustrates the crisis of values and ideas which currently afflicts this unhappy country.

For many of these candidates, and for the fanatics of the Republican rank-and-file, the great issue of our time is that of illegal immigration, and it is this question which has catapulted the unscrupulous Donald Trump into his current position of leader of the Republican pack. Trump wants to deport at least 11 million, and possibly as many as 15 million, foreign-born people whose documentation he claims is irregular. Trump is an accomplished snake oil salesman who has been on several sides of many issues over the past decades, but has currently reinvented himself as the top spokesman for US xenophobia. He says he wants to compete with China, but it never seems to occur to him that, given the falling birthrate and lack of fecundity among the white US middle class, the only way the US can hope to have an effective workforce in the decades ahead will be through the assimilation and education of Latinos, Asians, and others.

The related issue is that Trump’s obsession with deportations on such a colossal scale would necessarily produce the conditions of a fascist police state, or a civil war in this country. During yesterday’s debate, Governor Kasich of Ohio and Jeb Bush attempted to argue that Trump’s mass deportations would not be practical or logistically feasible, but The Donald was not perturbed by these reality-based considerations. Trump, as we have noted, solves every problem by appealing to the irresistible power of his own magnetic personality and the Triumph of the Will. The pathetic Jeb Bush also tried to argue that the spectacle of the Republican candidates grappling with all the lurid details of a mass deportation policy on national television would tend to generate a backlash against the GOP by the fast-growing Latino community. But the Republican audience, carried forward on a tide of anti-immigrant hysteria, is largely impervious to these fact-based objections. What has counted in the GOP debate is far more the reckless bidding war among desperate demagogues appealing to a crazed petty bourgeoisie.

Trump No Populist, Wants Low Wages

There was also a highly revealing exchange about possible future increases in the federal minimum wage. Any increase in the minimum compensation mandated by federal law was roundly condemned by the megalomaniac Trump, the mythomaniac Carson, and the demagogue Rubio.

“We are a country that’s being beaten on every front, economically, militarily. There is nothing we do now to win,” said Mr. Trump, adding at another point that “OUR WAGES ARE TOO HIGH.”…‘“Taxes too high, WAGES ARE TOO HIGH. We’re not going to be able to compete against the world. I hate to say it, but we have to leave it the way it is.”

In other words, the pampered little rich boy Trump wants to enable the United States to compete against China and other sweatshop manufacturers by keeping wages at their current wretched levels here. Anyone can see that US labor can never hope to underbid places like Vietnam, Thailand, and the like. But exploiters like Trump are certainly determined to try. In the real world, the winning formula for the United States is an economy that would be a high wage, high capital intensity, high energy intensity, and high surplus mode of production. As on the immigration question, Trump demonstrates that he has no inkling of actual economic science, and instead goes by the stupid prejudices of rich people who have inherited their wealth, not earned it.

Real wages in the United States have declined by about two thirds since the days of Richard Nixon in the White House. But Trump was not the only leading Republican candidate raving that US wages are too high. He was immediately joined by his closest rival, the erratic Dr. Ben Carson, who may have been a famous surgeon, but is certainly a quack when it comes to serious political thinking. ‘Carson cited the high unemployment rate in the African-American community. “That’s because of those HIGH WAGES. If you LOWER THOSE WAGES, that comes down.”’ Rubio then chimed in along similar lines, giving the GOP its own troika of extreme austerity ghouls.

This exchange may well do permanent damage to Trump, far more than to the other two contenders. Carson is appealing to religious enthusiasts who have probably relegated their hopes for a rising standard of living to the next world. Rubio, for his part, appears more and more as the point of regroupment of a stunned GOP Beltway establishment.

But Trump is supposed to be a right-wing populist who wants to look out for Joe Sixpack, the average working stiff. The idea of raising the minimum wage enjoys a nearly universal popularity, including among the Republican base. Trump had tried to create the illusion that he intends to make Wall Street pay their fair share, as for example with his plan to eliminate the special tax treatment of so-called carried interest, referring to the windfall profits of hedge fund hyenas. But most of Trump’s eager dupes do not recognize that, if the carried interest loophole is worth about $2 billion to the Wall Street finance oligarchs, Trump’s other proposal to abolish the estate tax altogether will put about $20 billion back into the pockets of the bankers’ children.

Put that crude deception together with Trump’s claim that wages are too high, and we might soon be witnessing some serious attrition in the hotelier’s popularity.

Carson, for his part, seems to think about taxation from the point of view of tithing (which often means that the faithful give 10% of their incomes to support their church and clergy). For example, Carson thinks that taxation ought to be strictly proportional: ‘”Everybody should pay the same proportion of what they make,” [he] said … in Tuesday’s latest candidate debate. “You make $10 billion, you pay a billion. You make $10, you pay one.”’ But, of course, the broad consensus of civilized humanity is that fairness in taxation requires a progressive approach, and certainly not a proportional one. Carson’s claim that proportional taxation is the fairest ignores the simple reality that taking 10% of a family’s income will not touch the luxuries of the rich, while it will cut into the amenities of the middle class and even the bare necessities of the poor. Fair taxation is progressive taxation, with the tax rate steeply increasing as the ability to pay increases. (Even worse than proportional taxation is of course regressive taxation, as for example when all taxpayers are required to pay an identical sum, commonly in the form of a poll tax. It was the efforts of the austerity vampire Margaret Thatcher (a darling of most Republicans) of Britain to impose a poll tax which led to her fall a quarter century ago.

This same problem of proportional taxation is on display in the competing “flat tax” proposals of the Republican pack. Carly Fiorina was one of the most aggressive proponents of this cure-all, claiming that taxing all wages at the same percentage would allow the tax code to be cut down to three pages. Rand Paul, Cruz, Santorum, and Carson are all in the flat tax camp, although at differing percentage rates. ‘Trump called a flat tax “unfair to the poor” and “unfair to workers” in his 2000 book, The America We Deserve. Trump stated, “Only the wealthy would reap a windfall, because a flat tax would allow them to cash in interest payments and capital gains without paying personal income taxes.”’ But here again, Trump is on varying sides of the same issue, and has recently started saying that a flat tax would be “okay.”

In reality, a flat tax would represent a tax bonanza for the richest taxpayers. A flat tax would thus make the income inequality observed in the United States even more severe. In addition, the general result of a flat tax would be to drastically cut the revenue of the federal government up to about $1 trillion per year of increased deficits, which Republicans would likely demand be made up through a genocidal gutting of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other entitlements and social programs. Here is where Trump’s actual policies enter into collision with his publicly expressed pious wishes not to excessively gouge the social safety net.

In short, the net effect of Trump’s tax reform proposals would simply be to help the rich get richer at an exponentially expanding rate: “As Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ) has shown, the benefits of eliminating both the estate and corporate tax and lowering the capital gains tax rate would go overwhelming to the wealthiest Americans. In addition, the lower tax rate structure would provide the wealthy with huge tax cuts on top of the already large tax breaks just mentioned.”

Carson’s main preoccupation during the debate was to avoid being challenged on certain details of his campaign autobiography, Gifted Hands. Reasons for this bizarre situation require a word of explanation. For decades, the candidates of the Republican Party have been moving away from specific promises or platforms concerning what they would be committed to do if elected. For decades, Republican candidates have preferred to rant about the superiority of their general principles, claiming divine inspiration from God or the spirit of Ronald Reagan, and thus avoiding binding commitments to do anything at all. This spirit lives on in this year’s Republican contest, as seen by the example of Carly Fiorina, who is famously refusing to provide written summaries of her policy commitments on her campaign website. If elected, she would therefore be pledged to do exactly nothing, because nothing is in print. VERBA VOLANT, SCRIPTA MANENT – Spoken words fly away, while written words remain, as the Romans already knew. Miss Fiorina refuses to do anything more than offer film clips of herself, reeling off what she promises to do – a very vague substitute. Trump’s contempt for specific programs is notorious, since he depends mainly on his signature Triumph of the Will.

In the case of Ben Carson, the rejection of a specific policy platform takes the even more radical form of a campaign which is not based on policies at all, but rather upon the supposedly compelling qualities of Carson’s life story, especially as presented in his campaign autobiography. Carson, in effect, goes to the voters with his Horatio Alger tale of rags to riches, starring the famous neurosurgeon who pulls himself up by his own bootstraps. “This story is compelling,” says Carson to the voters, “so vote for me.” Whatever happened to “As your president, I pledge to serve you by ….”? To modern Republicans, it seems quaint and outdated, but this seriousness and accountability are exactly what our country urgently needs.

Carson’s strategy includes a series of shocking and disturbing confessions mixed in among his arrogant advertisements for himself. Carson demands that voters believe in his story when he says that he threatened to hit his own mother with a hammer, or when he almost killed his best friend Bob with a knife. The idea here is apparently to stress the depravity of Carson’s life before he found The Lord, partly as a means to make the drama of his conversion more poignant. In Carson’s post-conversion narrative, he claims to have been offered a full scholarship to West Point, despite the fact that attendance at West Point is always completely free of charge to those who have been accepted.

Carson also has a series of crackpot claims about arbitrary issues that have nothing to do with the presidency, such as his claim that the Egyptian pyramids were actually grain silos. He get up at a presidential campaign event and talks about grain silos in ancient Egypt!

In recent weeks, various news organizations have attempted to discredit Carson’s claims about how he behaved in the bad old days before he knew Jesus. This has created the incongruous situation in which Carson has been insisting that he did indeed attack his mother with a hammer, and did indeed attempt to kill his friend Bob. Most people would be glad to be exonerated from these charges, but Carson feels compelled to defend them against skeptics.

Carson is now appealing to his supporters for contributions to fight back against CNN et al. and prove that he was indeed a juvenile delinquent before he got religion. Here is a shrill example of a direct email appeal from the Carson campaign:

‘The Liberal Media Is In Full Attack Mode Against Dr. Ben Carson! The Establishment Is Trying To Smear Dr. Carson With Lies! Conservatives Everywhere Should Fight Back And Help Elect Dr. Carson To The White House! The media is desperately looking for false stories and they are even interviewing Dr. Carson’s classmates from high school! CNN and Politico have no shame and they will do anything to attack Dr. Carson. The liberal media wants to handpick their candidate and Dr. Carson isn’t their choice! Dr. Carson is a threat to the establishment and the “politics as usual” crowd. Will you help fight back against the media elites? CNN and Politico should not decide the Republican nominee! Please contribute $25, $50, $100, $250, $500, $1000, or more to support Dr. Carson with voter outreach and advertising!’

Marco Rubio, not surprisingly, wants the American middle class to give up the fundamental right to a college education as a badge of belonging to the middle class — a right which the GIs won on the battlefields of World War II, and which was institutionalized in the form of Franklin D Roosevelt’s late New Deal G.I. Bill Of Rights. Obviously, the middle class must give up the right to a college education to make sure there are enough resources to pay for Rubio’s tax cuts for the rich. This is of course the path of national suicide, and one which guarantees Chinese world domination in our lifetime. Even worse than Rubio is Rand Paul, who opposes even some meager tax credits backed by Rubio because they are not conservative enough. Rand’s hostility to the Pentagon has probably doomed his fortunes in the GOP.

“Welders make more money than philosophers. We need more welders than philosophers,” said Marco Rubio on vocational education.’ If Rubio means by philosophers actual tenured professors of philosophy, he is simply wrong. Already today a welder needs an associate’s degree. But Rubio’s contempt for philosophy and reason should be duly noted. Rubio’s rival, the tea party fascist Ted Cruz, went even further, describing the officials of the Federal Reserve Board as “philosopher kings.”

Here the reference to Plato’s Republic is unmistakable and should not be surprising. The Republican presidential debates have represented an appalling orgy of irrationalism, a horrifying parade of Monsters From The Id. It is perfectly lawful that the GOP spin doctors should take time out from this lurid spectacle to denounce philosophy in general, understood as the quest for wisdom, and specifically Plato’s philosophy of reason, which has been the greatest engine for human progress over the past two millennia and more.

Monsters from the ID

In a dramatic moment at GOP debate, a new contender suddenly appeared between Ben Carson on the left and Ted Cruz on the right. This new candidate seems to represent in the most powerful form the attempt of the Republican Party to call up the basest instincts in the form of Monsters from the Id. The new candidate is stressing transparency in the fight against corruption and big government. In the photo, you can see right through him and observe the Wall Street Journal logo.

For those who are keeping score, Jeb Bush and Kasich probably still qualify as garden-variety reactionaries. Rubio should be investigated as the kingpin of a crime syndicate. Cruz is a fascist demagogue, and poor little Rand Paul would like to be, but does not quite know how. Carson, Fiorina, and Trump, all unquestionably non compos mentis, urgently need the comforts of a canvas blazer and a padded cell.

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