Category Archives: Bob Lord

Time For the Two Americas to Divorce?

Divorce in most states, including Arizona, is based on a finding of irreconcilable differences. Ordinarily, the issue is not contested. The spouse who files divorce claims the differences are irreconcilable, and the responding spouse agrees.

Typically, it follows years of bickering, culminating in the inability to agree on just about anything. Quite often, one or both spouses find other potential partners more attractive.

Viewed through that lens, isn’t it high time for the American left and the American right to divorce? Continue reading

Dark Days: America at the Abyss

How bad is it? Really bad. Abysmal. As in, staring into the abyss.

You could check the long list of clues to know that Trump engaged in criminal conduct on his way to the White House and after. Or you could just observe his behavior. From the repetition of “no collusion” a thousand times to the release of an inept memo against the warnings of his own Justice Department and FBI to the false equivalency attacks on Hillary Clinton to the firing of James Comey, everything Trump does screams “I’m guilty.”

But that’s not what brings us to the edge of the abyss. Richard Nixon’s criminality was on a par with Trump’s, as were his self-incriminating words (“I am not a crook”) and actions (Saturday Night Massacre).

In one crucial respect, Nixon was far more menacing than Trump. In my simple mind, the danger posed by an evil actor, by himself, is a function of two factors: (1) his level of moral turpitude — that is, his capacity for evil ends, and (2) his raw intelligence — that is, the means he possesses to achieve those evil ends. We could debate endlessly how Nixon and Trump compare on the first of those factors, but not the second. Nixon was an intellectual giant; Trump is a mental midget.

Ultimately, however, the danger presented by an evil actor is a function less of the actor than of the actor’s surrounding environment. And that’s what brings us so much closer to the edge today than we ever were in Nixon’s time. Continue reading

My View: Blaming the DACA Debacle on Schumer Is Absurd

Almost always, if you compare my view on an issue to the Blue Meanie’s, mine will be the more progressive.

Almost.

But not this time. AZBM recently shared his view, easily the majority view of progressives, that Chuck Schumer was a worse negotiator even than Trump.

I really, really wish Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi were not the face of the Democratic Party. So Schumer taking heat here from the base doesn’t bother me personally. But objectively, it’s wrong.

Yes, the DACA situation is horrific and it was frustrating to see Schumer and the Senate Democrats not save the Dreamers. But blame would be appropriate only if a better result was achievable, and I don’t see how that’s so. Continue reading

The GOP Tax Plan Will Complete the Destruction of America’s Middle Class Wealth

In fact, if the GOP tax plan becomes law, we may be looking at a future where our 1,600 richest hold more wealth than the nation’s entire middle class.

The wealth of America’s middle class, under siege for four decades, is now hanging on life support. That life will end if the basic Republican tax plan, as now envisioned by House and Senate majorities, ever becomes law.

By “middle class,” we mean America’s “Middle 40,” that stratum of American households that has more wealth than the nation’s poorest 40 percent and less wealth than the nation’s most affluent 20 percent.

In 2001, according to the Federal Reserve’s recently released Survey of Consumer Finances, the most systematic official survey of who owns what in the United States, the nation’s Middle 40 held 15.2 percent of the country’s wealth.

The new century has not been kind. By 2016, that share had dropped to 10.6 percent, a figure that leaves the entire Middle 40 — about 128 million Americans in all — sharing  slightly less wealth than the 32,000 exorbitantly wealthy individuals who make up the nation’s richest .01 percent.  In other words, each American in that top .01 percent holds as much wealth as 4,000 of the Americans in the Middle 40.

Continue reading at Inequality.org

The Kate’s Law Parlay: A Bad Outcome on an Insane Bet

Two years ago, Donald Trump chose to demagogue a tragic death into political hay. Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico who had entered the country illegally five times, had killed Kate Steinle, a 32-year-old American.

Trump seized on the incident, using it to champion a law, which he dubbed “Kate’s Law,” that would sentence all second-time illegal border crossers to a minimum prison term of five years.

When I learned of this, I wrote about the absurdity of the proposed law in The Mystifying Math of Kate’s Law and Kate’s Law Sinking?. We would be criminalizing an act that is wrong only because we define it to be — crossing the border twice without proper documents —  based on some imaginary correlation between that act and violent crimes. And all based on the actions of one — that’s right, one — undocumented immigrant.

When I read about this two years ago, I assumed that the actual case against Zarate was airtight and that his taking of Steinle’s life was an especially heinous act.

Bad assumption on my part. Continue reading

Inside the Pity-Our-Farmers Tax ‘Reform’ Scam

No farm families, repeat no farm families, are losing their family farms to the federal estate tax.

The politicians currently scheming to repeal the federal estate tax — America’s only tax levy on grand concentrations of private wealth — don’t have any good arguments to make. They have only bogus sob stories. The most bogus of them all: the claim that the estate tax is forcing hard-working farm families to sell their beloved farms.

The repeal crowd has been circulating this canard for years – and frightened many farm families in the process. But let’s get real. This family farm story holds absolutely no water whatsoever.

Let’s start with the basic number of farms valuable enough to subject their owners to estate tax. This figure is currently running about 30 each year. For the entire country. That’s less, on average, than one farmer per state.