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WILL DEMOCRACY CONTINUE TO BE MADE IN AMERICA?

The good news is that you get to decide whether the United States slides into the kind of neo fascist government Donald Trump represents to his while, male disciples, or  returns to the often frustrating compromises of our republic fashioned by our Founders in 1787. The bad news is that you may no longer have the energy and interest to do so.

While it is true that all democratic nations are dealing with a restless electorate angry at the end of the industrial age and the factories that paid for the social safety net of health insurance and social security, the United States alone has seen the abdication of its Congress on what it is supposed to be its sole authority to declare war, no small matter for the world’s remaining superpower, and seen the end of town meetings in New England a decade ago, another sign of disinterest in the Democratic process.

Absent Trump’s appeal to uneducated while males as some kind of strong man who will make out of work white males great again, he did walk on to an empty political stage, where previous administrations had failed to articulate a policy to replace the lost jobs of the smokestack era, a failure to explain America’s role in the world other than some kind of knee jerk reaction to Islamic terrorism, a failure to define the US’s relationship with Russia after the end of the Cold War, and an ambiguity about the longest war in US history in Afghanistan, and an ambiguity about the continuing defense of Iraq–apparently against itself. Furthermore recent presidents have done little to defend or increase social security and medicare, two national social programs which are both expensive and critical to retired Americans.

Yet Trump’s actions to deal with these lingering problems has been to simply censor the number of battle casualties in Afghanistan so those of us paying for the war don’t know what is going on, begged the Chinese government to send factories our way to take advantage of now cheap labor among American workers, and gave the wealthiest Americans $5 million more dollars that are not taxable on their personal estates, an enormous loss of revenue to the US budget.

And then of course Trump showed that he was indeed the President of the Party of Wall Street for the last 130 years with his massive corporate tax cut, a tax cut which most CEO’s actually thought was a bad idea because it added so much to the national debt.

If you are a Republican, you need to pressure your party to begin a serious national agenda, something it has lacked for almost its entire history, with a sprinkling of exceptions such as Teddy Roosevelt’s national parks buying spree, Ike’s national highway system, and Richard Nixon’s revenue sharing.

If you are a Democrat, you need to urge your party to stop the “me too” agreement with the idea that the world’s largest economic and military nation can function as some sort of limited, decentralized, small government, which turns its major functions over to private corporations. The population of this nation is on the way to 300 million. We are not Switzerland.

Both parties need to participate in a largescale economic summit with American industry, and develope a serious, long term blue print, to create industries to replace the polluting, dirty energies of the 20th century.

Most important, all Americans must reject the childish fantasy that a democracy can function when Congress gives up its responsibilities and some male strong man abrasively imposes his will against the wishes of the majority by pushing the envelope on executive powers and invoking emergency powers of the office when they are not appropriate.

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FUN NUMBERS IN THE RAPE OF THE MIDDLE CLASS

By Hansen Alexander

0, number of times any federal tax cuts actually paid for themselves

0, number of Presidents other than Trump since 1968 refusing to release tax returns or summary (Ford)

0, the amount you can now deduct for using H&R Block

0, the amount of the individual tax cut and $12,000 personal exemption after 2025

0 percent, what US companies incorporated in Jersey Islands pay in taxes

0 percent, percentage of state and local taxes you can now deduct from federal income tax

0 percent, the amount you can now deduct on your second home mortgage

1 percent, the tax cut most middle income Americans will get, 24 down from 25 percent

1 percent, the percentage of Americans who own nearly 40 percent of the nation’s wealth

12.5 percent, the corporate tax paid by US companies claiming Irish domiliciary

14 percent, how much corporate taxes are cut in the new law

15 percent, what most wealthy Americans pay since income is from stock capital gains

20 percent, the corporate deduction for commercial real estate will be

21 percent, the new corporate tax rate for corporations and small businesses in the US, including LLPs

22 percent, the average corporate income tax in countries economically similar to the US

24-28 percent, the tax range of the majority of middle class Americans, up to approximately $160,000

45 percent, amount of US debt owned by foreigners

65 percent, the amount JFK proposed as the proper corporate tax rate in 1962

5,000, the number of corporate lobbyists who helped hammer out this legislation

$10,000, the total amount you may now deduct on your (first) home mortgage

$10, 000, 000 the new tax free limit on estate, gift, and generational pass through taxes

$ 1 trillion-1.7 trillion, estimated lost revenue to US government under the new tax law

$ 1.06 trillion, amount of US foreign debt owned by Chinese

$1. 09 trillion, amount of US foreign debt owned by Japanese

$5.34 trillion, total assets of US Government

$18.96 trillion, gross national debt of the United States

$188 trillion, the estimated value of the total US economy.

 

[Hansen Alexander is the author of HOW THE LIONS ATE TIM TEBOW and ONE BRAVE MAN, How Roger Clemens Risked Everything to Prove He Did Not Take Anabolic Steroids.]

TRUMP’S NFL FLAG RANTING IS IN VIOLATION OF YOUNGTOWN SHEET & TUBE V. SAWYER

When President Trump told NFL Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones that the league’s own rules required players to stand for the National Anthem or be fined, or disciplined, or banned, he was not only wrong on the League rules, which makes it optional, he was undertaking an unconstitutional action.

 

In 1952 the United States Supreme Court set the standard in preventing unconstitutional inference in private corporations by a President when it struck down President Truman’s executive order to seize private steel mills as an emergency measure in time of war, albeit an undeclared war in Korea. The case was Youngtown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 343 U.S. 579 (1952).

 

Absent congressional authorization, the power of presidents to stick their noses into either governmental questions where they have no power (such as firing career government workers) or private industry concerns such as production of steel in time of “conflict,” is derived from “emergency powers,” that is to say our nation faces a serious, short term threat that will destroy the country immediately if the emergency powers are not invoked. Lincoln did this in the Civil War by suspending constitutional rights.

 

Trump attempted to use this emergency power in his travel ban, essentially a misuse of a political payoff to fulfill a campaign promise when no emergency existed. In particular, the “No Fly List” operating since 9/11 had accomplished a spectacular job of keeping potential terrorists out of the United States from the very countries Trump’s legal team included in the list.

 

But what emergency existed in the operation of the NFL that required immediate presidential action so save our country? None of course. Angry that the social injustice protests of Colin Kaepernick in sitting (or kneeling) for the national anthem (the tune of which comes from an old British Army drinking song) had mushroomed into a full blown protest against his racially divisive policies, particularly among black players, Trump thought he saw an opportunity to accomplish two easy things, 1) create a controversy that he considered an easy political win by characterizing the protests against his racism as unpatriotic, and 2) stop the protests that are so obviously directed at him personally, although the players are bright enough to define them more broadly against social injustice in the United States.

 

Trump seems to always take the law breaking route when a legal option is available (sexual assaults, taking illegal tax deductions of other people’s money, running a fraudulent university) so instead of just exploiting the flag issue as an easy political win, he could not stop there, he had to get on the telephone and try to lecture an NFL owner about the fine print in its rules, thus crossing the unconstitutional line.

 

Trump’s persistent, belligerent attacks had the opposite effect anyway: white and black NFL players deeply divided by Trump’s election were thrown together in unity as his attacks escalated. NFL owners who had voted for Trump and contributed millions to his inauguration were put into the impossible position of trying to defend him when he was lambasting their teams and their entire league. They soon realized that loyalty goes only one way with Donald Trump (as Republican leaders in Congress have only too quickly learned) and these owners soon were seen during the national anthem locking arms in unity with all their players, making their own statement against the mentally disturbed president.

 

Nothing is never NOT personal with Donald Trump, who has the temperament of a Mafia Don who feels his drug territory is under threat by another family, and it took the Pakistani born owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Shah Kahn, to point out that Trump is still angry against the NFL from the nasty law suit he filed against them in the 1980s.

 

Trump owned the New Jersey Generals of the USFL, a league doomed by exotic spending for big name players such as Hershel Walker and Jim Kelly that it could not afford. When the league folded due to such bad business practices, Trump and several other owners got into their heads that they should be rewarded for their mismanagement (Trump did not even know the name of his coach Walt Michaels) by forcing the NFL to incorporate their franchises just as it did the AFL in the early 1970s.

 

Suing a professional sports league on antitrust grounds is not difficult on the merits since all professional athletic leagues are essentially monopolies. The harder part is getting the judge to supply the reward you say you deserve because of the illegal monopoly. Trump and his fellow ex-owners won on the merits that the NFL was a monopoly. Their reward? $1. The judge did not see fit to order the NFL to put Trump into their league, which would have been basically impossible anyway because the league owners have to vote on such expansion.

 

So the Donald remains angry at the NFL, just as the Donald remains angry at women who did not want to sleep with him, angry at New York’s discrete, old family real estate class who would never accept the vulgar Trump, angry at the casino gambling industry where his Atlantic City casino at the Taj Mahal Hotel underperformed all other casinos in town and eventually went bankrupt, angry at the United States banks who refused to lend him money in the US after his numerous bankruptcies and who apparently pushed him into the arms of the Russian mob, which now threatens to get him indicted if not impeached.

 

Life has obviously been unfair to Trump. All the people he has assaulted and insulted for 70 years are coming back to haunt him like Hamlet’s ghost. That is not supposed to happen to rich people like himself who are above the law.

 

Or is the Fuhrer of Fifth Avenue, the phony crusader of the white unemployed, above the law after all?

 

The conclusion of the Mueller investigation will supply the answer.

 

Meanwhile Trump is in violation of Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 1952. Opinion by Justice Hugo Black. Concurring Justices Frankfurter, Douglas, Jackson, Burton, and Clark.

INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE TAKE AWAYS TODAY BY PETER BAKER AND NY TIMES

Sunday, December 10, 2017, Central Park West

One of the upcoming stars of American journalism, NY Times Washington correspondent Peter Baker, has an interesting profile today, written with others, of the rather besieged President Trump inside the White House. Here were some interesting points of the article:

 

  1. Trump’s interest in, and attention to detail, are concentrated in only two areas, military matters and helping corporate America get rid of regulations, and the tax cut. The story suggests Trump’s business career naturally has given him the knowledge and experience to understand these issues in detail.

 

  1. As we thought, Trump is obsessed with himself, and when he cannot get access to CNN, Fox, and other US mediums that make him the center of attention during foreign trips, he’s deeply unhappy.

 

  1. He watches cable news at least 4 hours a day with the sound on, and even watches it with the sound off all day long, and even during Cabinet meetings and other daily activities. Interestingly, like the conservative Republican senators who read the Washington Post and New York Times to get the news, but read their local newspapers to make themselves feel good, Trump watches CNN for actual information, as much as he may attack and question it, but turns to Fox News to feel good.

 

  1. Trump’s abrasive, snarly presidential demeanor, the article implies, may have been formed in part by employing McCarthy era legal icon Roy Cohn as his attorney in his early career. Cohn attempted to hide his homosexuality in that by gone era, like J. Edgar Hoover, by conducting himself in the most aggressive and obnoxious manner, and pushed the law to points ethically that probably would get him disbarred in today’s legal climate, where legal ethics has become an obsession. This may also explain why Trump, a man with so much legal baggage—illegal tax deductions, employment of illegal Mexican construction workers, fraud investigation in Florida, etc., etc.,—-ran for President in the first place.

 

  1. Trump is a deeply insecure man who questions his own legitimacy as president every day, and has a list of counties he carried in the election pasted on the wall inside the Oval Office to remind himself that he actually won.

 

  1. Trump is either Cinderella— who fears turning back into a pumpkin at midnight—or is the Sean Connery character in the John Huston film, “The Man who Would be King,” who cannot show he bleeds or he will be revealed as human and not a God—thus Trump fears that if he backs down or compromises on any issue he will look weak before the largely uneducated, angry white political base who believes literally in the persona Trump created on his dreadfully awful reality television program, “The Apprentice.” (For the record I think all reality television is dreadfully awful.)

 

  1. Most of Trump’s tweets are impulsive with just a few in which he asks for advice before sending them.

 

  1. As we thought, he has a very short attention span and is easily distracted by emotional issues, just like his followers.

 

  1. He is deeply paranoid, apparently by nature, and trusts very few people, the obvious reason he surrounds himself with family members such as his daughter, Ivanka Trump, and son- in- law Jared Kushner.

 

  1. He did come to the presidency intending to rule by executive fiat and bypass the disagreeable legislative process of having to beg his social inferiors for votes. Despite claims by some aides that he has learned from his bullying and blustering and will be more civil and accommodating publicly (Trump is said to be charming in private when he wants something out of his listener), there is no information in the Times article to back that up.

 

  1. As we thought, White House aides and Cabinet officials, congressional leaders and the military are constantly trying to walk Trump back from his confrontational ideas and statements—but to no avail.

 

  1. What is odd is that the Times article reveals no political advisors pointing out to Trump that his more outrageous statements, although arguably almost all of his statements are outrageous, have led to the lowest poll ratings in US history since such polls have been taken. This is odd because Trump constantly talks about reelection and asks everybody constantly what Democrat might run against him in 2020. Of course, there is the possibility aides are not discussing this because they don’t think he will still be President in 2020.

13.   Nowhere, in this inside profile of the first American President without absolutely any government experience, is there any indication that job creation, and job creation for working class laborers, is of much interest, much less emphasis, for Trump. Which pretty much tells us what we thought, job creation is politics for him, not any personal concern for his countrymen and their survival and how they can pay their bills. While Trump at times has acted as his own Secretary of Commerce in urging China to open factories here so they can exploit Americans for cheap labor, there is no evidence to indicate that Trump has considered for five minutes following through on his campaign promise to put Americans to work rebuilding our infrastructure for real wages.

14. Indeed it is obvious now that the job creation scam, that he regularly fools the reporters of The Wall Street Journal with, is nothing more than a marketing stunt intended for that newspaper of the American corporate class to assure its readers that the man with the surly daily anger and shouting within the White House walls during the day, and frantic and angry tweeting at night, is an invention of the liberal media, and the real Donald Trump is the wise and calm and master negotiator whose only care in the world is job creation.

 

 

 

 

THE FUHRER OF FIFTH AVENUE IS NO FRIEND OF ISRAEL

Let me try to explain why those of us who are deeply worried and concerned about the security and safety of our friends in Israel were not delighted about Herr Trump’s Jerusalem statement this week.

Any second grader can look on a map and see that Jerusalem is the capital city of Israel. But most second graders do not understand the subtle distinction that is the controversial and emotional issue here: that Jerusalem is also the claimed capital city of the Palestinian people and also a holy city to Christianity.

The legal and diplomatic fiction at work is that Israel’s allies in the West, including the United States and Europe, are trying to NOT loudly proclaim Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel, because the implication of that is not literal, of course Jerusalem is the Israeli capital, but such a statement IMPLIES it is NOT the capital of the Palestinian people.

That is what Trump REALLY said this week and he did not do it out of any solidarity with the people of Israel; but only because the legal noose around his neck got considerably tighter when his son Donald Trump, Jr. refused to answer questions of the Special Counsel investigating possible Trump campaign collusion with the Russians about whether his father was told of the infamous meeting of the Campaign 8 with Russian representatives. His son essentially claimed the Fifth Amendment right against self- incrimination in claiming any such conversations were protected by executive privilege.

Since the issue is whether ANY details of the meeting were reported to Trump, before, during, and after, why did young Trump invoke executive privilege regarding conversations that he is claiming never took place in the first possible? And it is dubious whether he can claim executive privilege regarding conversations because 1) he is asserting there were no conversations to invoke the privilege about and 2) since the meeting took place before Trump was elected he was not yet President and therefore the privilege cannot be invoked.

Indeed Trump himself admitted that he had not planned to make the controversial endorsement of Jerusalem as ONLY the capital of Jerusalem so soon, but decided to do so for, well, for reasons, he did not go into. Opening the door for my explanation. Thank you very much, Herr Trump.

Trump’s actual statement did not even pretend to care about Israel. He made the expected nonsensical claim it would lead to an important and lasting peace for both Israel and the Palestinian people, then moved on to the real meaning of the occasion: he, unlike his predecessors, had fulfilled the promise made during the campaign, a promise made to his base of Evangelical Christians, who simultaneously contain a fair amount of anti-semitic voters and vague support for Israel based on the fact the nation is referred to in the Old Testament of its Christian Bible.

It was the diplomatic tradition of the United States from George Washington to Barak Obama never to state a departure from previous policy of a particular president, but merely to go on to the new one, if it was a new one, in order to show respect both for the individual Presidents before and the office of the President of the United States. Trump feels no such need to respect either the presidents who came before him or his own office. After all, his whole act is to trash the entire American political system and all its players, as his angry mob of disciples desires him to do.

Trump’s statement on Jerusalem was dominated by the word “I,” the most important one in his vocabulary, and after the nominal acknowledgement of Israel as the prop for his latest incident of megalomania, prepared for a campaign pep rally in Pensacola, Florida, whose main purpose was to endorse the Republican senatorial candidate in bordering Alabama, Roy Moore, a man who has been removed from the Alabama Supreme Court for ignoring the state’s Constitution, and whose main qualification for office is apparently having sex with under-aged women.

Trump seems to have conflicted feelings between his own German heritage and Jewish issues anyway. His daughter Ivanka, the only sober voice in his entire inner circle, is married to a Jewish man, Jarod Kushner, who provides a kind of political cover because many of Trump’s white supremacy supporters are furious that Ivanka is married to a Jewish American. Kusher was made the Fuhrer’s point man on Israel at least for appearances sake.

While the press attention on the Charlottesville march this fall centered on the Confederate monument that was the focal point of the march, less was made of the fact that the Neo-Nazi marchers were chanting anti-Jewish slurs, not anti- black slurs. Indeed the leader of the march stated his anger and opposition to Ivanka’s marriage to Kushner.

Herr Trump did not do himself any favors either in his much circulated YouTube tape in which he ascribed his allegedly high IQ to his German genes, a statement that drew unfavorable comparisons to the Nazi medical experiments on Jews during World War Two, and would have ended the career of any other politician in the United States not named Donald Trump or Roy Moore, in approximately 25 seconds.

Worse for Trump is the uptick in hate crimes in the United States since his election. Keeping with past trends, most hate crimes are not committed in the US against African Americans or Islamic Americans, as one might imagine, but against Jewish Americans.

It may be unfair to blame Trump for these hate crimes against Jewish Americans, but the problem is that many of those arrested for them have cited Trump as their inspiration.

In the past I have made my own suggestion to send a proper signal to Israel’s enemies emphasizing our US solidarity with Israel, as our ally, a signal more helpful than Trump’s in your face gesture of the last week. I will repeat it today. Move the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet from Naples, Italy, to Malta, a stone’s throw from the Israeli coast. That will send the proper signal to the trouble makers on the West Bank, and indeed put American rockets on Navy battleships well within range of the Territories.

In order to demonstrate that I am not 120 percent anti-Trump, but merely 100 percent anti-Trump, I revive the Fuhrer of Fifth Avenue’s own idea made before Putin apparently convinced him to run for President in order to ruin NATO. That is a hotel on the West Bank.

Trump may have to cut a deal soon anyway to avoid going to jail, so maybe he should resign sooner than later, and build this hotel on the West Bank. It would put some people to work over there and be more helpful than having his name associated with a 1500 mile structure that the former President of Mexico has correctly labeled as “a Wall of Hate.”

ROBBING PETER TO PAY FOR CORPORATE PAUL; AND OTHER TAX CUT GIMMICKS

So the abolution of the corporate tax writeoffs that were actually needed to pay for the Republican tax giveaway of lowering both the corporate rate and pass through company rate to 20 percent from 35 percent never saw the light last week, as the chief Republican financiers, the Koch Brothers patrolled the halls of Congress and got their way. They particularly got their way with the new tax rate for overseas holdings for US companies, which is even lower that the domestic corporate rate, coming in between 5 and 15 percent, depending on the circumstances of each company abroad. So to pay for it—that’s where you come in by giving up your state and local tax deductions and a limit on your mortgage deduction to $10,000. Hope you feel patriotic for your troubles……

 Although a survey of 2000 businesses in the US this week claimed 50% of them would “consider” hiring new workers when the corporate rate falls to 20 percent, they were not promising they would, which is the operative fact here. If jobs are already wanting, what incentive do they have to create more of them instead of putting the tax difference into their pockets or taking their wives on a around the world trip? The wealthy are already maxed out on their investments and pleasures, and the idea that a tax cut is going to make them feel patriotic and put people to work as a noble act is, of course, silly. But the Holy Grail of the United colonies remains the business class where small business in particular is holier in the ethos of Congress than any alternative religion, say Christianity or Buddhism….

Like all tax acts, it’s a shift of income within the various economic classes. But instead of shifting the money from the rich to the middle class, per US economic policy since the 1930s, this takes money out of your pocket and puts it into the hands of corporations, who have no mandate, or frankly, incentive, to create new jobs, invest, blah blah blah. In fact, corporations only act when you attach mandates, not incentives, despite that popular myth…..

I am very sad tonight as I fear the coming onslaught of the American middle class with a reorganization of the country’s tax burden, from the rich and the corporations who can afford to pay, on to the middle class by gutting our deductions to pay for an unneeded and uneccessary massive reduction of 40 percent in the corporate and pass through business rates. In one generation we Baby Boomers have pissed away and mismanaged a safety net passed on to us by the Greatest Generation. Make no mistake about it, once that corporate rate drops to 20 percent, 5 percent less than the 25 percent rate most Middle class Americans pay, it will be like getting the proverbial horse back in the barn: impossible for all practical purposes. It will be far easier to just raise our 25 percent rate to cover the massive deficit that will result from this criminal irresponsibility. And don’t think that Senator Bernie Sanders is exaggerating in suggesting that Social Security will be next item to cover the cost of the corporate reduction by the Republican Congress. The second President Bush wanted to make Social Security voluntary, which would essentially kill it, as rich Republicans have realized for a long time and who have always opposed it. We remember most painfully that the social security trust fund was first raided by Ronald Reagan to cover his own massive debt caused by his foolish and irresponsible tax cut. Labor unions essentially did not survive Reagan’s union busting, and it remains to be seen whether the middle class will survive the rape of the middle class by the Republican Congress and their accomplice, the Fuhrer of Fifth Avenue. The truth comes out. Trump’s phony rants against Wall Street last year were simply to con you into voting for him. We now see who he really supports, vast multinational corporations who hardly need any tax reduction, much less a massive one of 40 percent, at a time when the US economy is is better shape than the rest of the western world, thanks to the prompt bailout of the banks by Presidents Bush and Obama. The Party run by Wall Street since the late 1860s is still the party being run by Wall Street…

A wrinkle I missed before in the tax scam. Your personal exemption of approximately $4000 per person plus gets subtracted from the highly heralded deduction of up to $24,000 for married couples. I’m not good in math, but if you have say four children, I guess you subtract the $16,000, plus the $8000 for two parents exclusion you used to get, for the kids, your net gain under th new scam is $0! not $24,000. Tell me if my math is off I just don’t understnd the tradeoff, because that is what this looks like to me….

If the Republican “base” supports and wanted this bill, then their income is either under $13,000, and pay no taxes, or more than $300,000 and probably make most of their income on dividends and pay either 15 or 20 percent in taxes. Or have an estate up to $11 million that they can now pass on to their starving children absent any taxes….

Unbelievable. I make 4,237 well reasoned, articulate posts against the Republican tax cut giveaway yesterday, and the Republican leaders in Congress have paid no attention to them in the last 18 hours and are going through with the plan anyway. How is this possible? It is just so counter intuitive to me, like, say, copying and pasting the following reason why such a massive overhaul to the tax system makes no economic sense at this time. (What about hiring and boosting wages? The outlook looks less certain there. The unemployment rate is at 4.1% and job openings are at an all-time high.)

As it turns out, our votes do have practical, important consequences. Consider that if Hillary Clinton were President this weekend, she would have skipped going to Camp David, and would at this very minute be sitting in the Oval office, veto pen in hand, ready at a moment’s notice to stop the rape of the middle class by a Republican Congress and a deranged Republican President, hellbent on shoving through the most comprehensive tax program in 80 years WITHOUT A SINGLE MINUTE OF PUBLIC HEARINGS. Mind you that the President did not even win the popular vote and therefore has no mandate to make such drastic change that involves tax consequences for every single American for generations to come, because once in place, that 20 percent corporate cap will be virtually impossible to change….

Capitalism only works if you have BOTH high wages and high taxes, that’s when “America was great,” although the one who uses the slogan won’t tell you that truth. What we have now is low (depressed) wages and slightly lower taxes, which is a recipe for raping the Middle Classm which all great powers do and we are simply and foolishly following the same path….

Any real benefit to a lowering of the corporate rate to 20 percent has probably already been realized by the bull market of the last year which was very much an anticipation of this corporate tax rate cut. Other than that corporations are not required to do anything; there are no mandates, there are no reasons to hire more workers, take over new companies, or anything else a company is already inclined to do or not do. And I seriously dount that Microsoft, for example, that claims to be an Irish company for tax purposes is suddenly going to volunteer to be a US corporation in order to pay 20 percent. In addition, I doubt any corporation which pays 0 percent income tax in the Jersey Islands or any other tax haven is going to volunteer to pay 20 percent in the US. The corporate world does not work that way; or to put it another way, it does not give back tax advantages it already has. The Koch Brothers saw to it last week that there would be no penalties for hiding abroad for tax benefits. And if you don’t know who the Koch brothers are, you need to find out fast in order to understand who is calling the shots in Congress….

Happy Thankgiving from the Parade on Central Park West

police Macy's float

 

“Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon, a graduate of Saint Rose College in Albany, New York (where my younger sister Cindy did graduate work in speech therapy)  was perhaps the most recognizable performer this morning on a clear, cold Thanksgiving Day–a modest but steady wind making the temperature seem much colder than the reported 32 degrees.

 

Fallon pranced around, ubiquitously gyrating and smiling with his “Tonight Show” band “Roots,” perhaps as much interested in keeping himself warm as pleasing the privileged children who waved to him with considerable ennui from the windows and verandas along Central Park West. Fallon’s employer, NBC, ran a commercial during the parade plugging tonight’s show, which features Jerry Seinfeld.

 

It is perhaps not inconsequential that the parade begins on Central Park West as in the days before television the progeny of the wealthy habituating there were the primary market for Macy’s at Christmas time.

 

A fun event preceding the actual parade was the blowing up of the large balloons (The Inflation Celebration!) on the day before Thanksgiving on the streets surrounding the Natural History Museum—famous mostly for its ginormous fake dinosaurs.  My wife, Taube, covered the event yesterday on the way to her gym, the selfsame gym where CNN’s Anderson Cooper occasionally deigns to work out. My Grandmother Bugli –admittedly less famous than Anderson Cooper, despite appearing on the television show “Candid Camera” –lived and worked in the massive apartment building directly across the street from the Natural History Museum on 82nd Street, in between her various residences in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains, around Quaker Springs.

 

Once a year, for about an hour and a half,  New York permeates the veritable innocence of a Disney World, when dazzling floats and huge character balloons (with corporate sponsorship) glide along Central Park West, on their way to Broadway and Herald Square, the flag ship  location of the sponsor of the Macy’s Day Parade, The R.H. Macy Company. Most recently the company has turned to hawking electronics goods to boost sales at Herald Square, to diversify its famous clothing offerings. The store has been struggling for years and was recently delisted from the New York Stock Exchange.

 

There is nothing subtle about Macy’s self-promotion. In recent years the parade has been “formally opened” by the company’s CEO front and center before the NBC cameras.

 

The parade was invented as a delightful public relations stunt garnering massive publicity for its sponsor, and for its television partner, NBC. NBC has habitually utilized the parade as a means to plug its own anemic television programming, particularly for new shows desperately needing exposure or for existing programs in dire need of a ratings boost. The parade is covered by the network’s “Today Show” cast. The spectacle is the perfect vehicle for the show’s “aw shucks” weatherman/color commentator Al Roker, whose soft and harmless Fozzie-Bearish humor dominates the coverage.   As NBC pays the parade’s long time anchor, Matt Lauer, $28 million a year, it needs to generate all the publicity/cash it can generate.  Such exposure has become ever more important for the network in an age in which cable television and the internet have deeply cut into the massiveratings the network regularly pulled in during the Golden Age of television, back when there were only three television networks.

 

All this corporate whoredom has diminished the former stars of the parade, various high school bands from across the United States. Although a high school band from Trumbull, Connecticut was highlighted during this year’s broadcast, it was an exception –a far cry from the days when high school band after high school band were parsed in detail by the color commentators and when marching in the Macy’s Parade was essentially the highest honor a high school band could hope to receive in the United States of America.

 

Taube and I typically find an elevated hill inside Central Park from which to watch the parade, and this morning we were fortunate enough to have the absolute best view we have ever enjoyed, across the street from 73rd Street, a short distance from the Dakota building and in the shadow of Yoko Ono’s Strawberry Fields. Therefore, for the first time, we were actually able to see the street level of the parade and not just the high flying balloons above Central Park West. My view of the Dakota allowed me to spot three women of an advanced age watching down from a balcony probably 15 to 20 stories up. They were, not surprisingly, wearing fur coats.

 

Thanksgiving Day is probably the one day of the year when New Yorkers are in an uncharacteristically charitable mood, adults generously moving aside for young children to get a better view of the floats and balloons. One child in close proximity to us knew every single balloon character and loudly and repeatedly said a salutation to all of them –with particular vocal affection for the Muppets and the Sesame Street float. (Yes, the same Muppets and Sesame Street that have become the main lobbyists for the survival of PBS.)

 

It is not always easy to see who is actually in the parade from the distance of perhaps 40-50 yards inside the park, but Gwen Stefani was obvious even to an old man such as myself with limited knowledge of pop singers. (She is a spectacular platinum blond and wore a dazzling, long, red coat today.)

 

Talk show host Steve Harvey has recently come to my attention in the last several years mainly because he, like my wife, hails from the marvelous state of West Virginia. Steve and his wife shared a float. My West Virginia cred, as always, was excellent. I spotted Harvey easily, even as the short children at my feet were batting imminent ophthalmic injury with a low hanging branch, laden with incredibly nasty thorns.

 

I easily recognized Smoky Robinson, Martha Stewart, and Patti Labelle, probably because I am almost as old as they are.

 

To be honest, I did not recognize Martha Stewart on her float, but I recall her now that she has been pointed out to me– her white hair very flamboyant and dramatic as always, a culinary media ham who successfully reinvented herself late in life. There is hope for us all.

 

Frankly, my political reporting background came to rushing back when I saw Miss America 2017 happily waving from her float, and happily obliterating the obese image of the Fuhrer of Fifth Avenue, the former irascible owner of the pageant, appearing in the deep reaches of what’s left of my memory.

 

I’m told that Harry Connick, Jr., who appeared often at a nightclub on West 57th Street back when I lived several doors down at the Hudson Hotel while in law school, was also in the parade. To admit that I did not recognize him. Neither did I recognize Whoopi Goldberg, although Taube saw her on the street near the “The View” studios at ABC near Lincoln Center earlier this year. (Sorry, New York no longer generates the famous gossip columnists of the 20th century and I’m doing the best I can.)

 

NBC, which also televises the (also Macy’s) fireworks displays in New York on the 4th of July, apparently has little confidence in merely televising a parade or fireworks any more, and so has transmogrified the Macy’s Parade, as they have also done with the fireworks, into a kind of homogenized, easily digestible rock concert, with stars such as Labelle and Stefani performing, perhaps for free to NBC. (Offhand, I do not know whether they are paid an appearance fee.)

 

The biting cold did not feel as bad when we began walking back home after the parade’s conclusion with the waving appearance of Santa Claus, often erroneously spelled Santa Clause by your faithful correspondent. Taube took some delightful autumnal photographs of the later than usual seasonal foliage–perhaps the one positive legacy of Global Warming. Security was very tight. Large sanitation trucks blocked off all roadways into and within the park.

Santa Macy's parade

 

I hope you have enjoyed your dinner.

Taube and Hansen Macy's parade