Tag Archives: Robert Reich

The attention span of a ‘fruit fly’?

Robert Reich leans to the left; his critics surely would say “the far left.” He served as secretary of labor in President Clinton’s administration. His progressive chops are well-known.

Still, for this former Cabinet official to say what he has said about Donald Trump is, well, quite stunning. Reich posted this on Facebook:

In all my years advising presidents and working in government, I have never heard of anything like this happening in the White House. During a meeting with Paul Ryan on health care, Trump reportedly became so disinterested that he stared blankly out the window and finally wandered out of the Oval Office to watch television in another room. Mike Pence had to convince (Trump) to return to the Oval Office to finish the meeting.

This man has the attention span of a fruit fly. He has no interest in facts and figures nor does he pretend to care. Even the simplest duties of the office bore him. He is more interested in what’s on Fox News than actually running the government. This is (a) real national emergency, not migrant women and children seeking asylum at the border.

I am not aware of Reich’s sourcing for what he says occurred during that meeting with the former House speaker. It sure sounds like what so many of us have heard already about the president’s lack of attention to anything approaching the details of public policy.

Thus, I have to concur with Secretary Reich’s assertion that the “real national emergency” is present inside the Oval Office, in the West Wing, in the White House.

Donald Trump’s base has elected a menace.

Get ready for more impeachment talk

Impeaching a president of the United States isn’t for the faint of heart. It requires a stout gut among those who bring it, not to mention the target of such a drastic action.

The bar must be high. It must have a solid basis on which to make such a move.

Where am I going with this? I have this sinking feeling that the current president well might find himself in the crosshairs of those who want to bring such an action against him.

We’re hearing a growing — but still muted — rumbling in D.C. about the prospect of Donald J. Trump facing impeachment by the U.S. House of Representatives. I’m attaching an item from The Hill in which former Labor Secretary Robert Reich — an acknowledged political liberal — has lined out at least four impeachable offense already committed by the president.

Here it is.

Reich says that Trump’s accusation that Barack Obama ordered a wiretap of Trump Tower offices constitutes an impeachable offense, saying the president has recklessly accused his predecessor of committing a felony. He notes that the Constitution prohibits president from taking money from foreign governments; Trump, Reich alleges, has done so by “steering foreign delegations” to hotels he owns. Reich contends that Trump violates the First Amendment’s provision against establishing a state religion by banning travelers from Muslim countries into the United States. Reich also says the First Amendment bans any abridgment of a free press, but Trump has labeled the media the “enemy of the people.”

There’s a fifth potential cause, which Reich has asserted. It involves the possibility that Trump’s campaign colluded with Russian government officials to swing the election in the president’s favor. Reich said such activity, if proven, constitutes “treason.”

Will any of this come to pass? I have no clue.

Think of the politics of it. Trump is a Republican; both congressional chambers are controlled by the GOP. Will the Republican House majority bring articles of impeachment to a vote, no matter how seriousness of whatever charges are considered?

The collusion matter strikes me as the most serious and the most likely to align Republicans along with Democrats in considering whether to impeach the president. I am not suggesting there is, indeed, proof of such collusion.

Remember as well that the GOP-led House managed to impeach a Democratic president, Bill Clinton, in 1998 on three counts relating to his seedy relationship with that White House intern. Conviction in the Senate, though, required a super majority of senators; the GOP fell far short on all three counts. Thus, the president was acquitted.

They based that impeachment on the president’s failure to tell the truth under oath to a federal grand jury that questioned him about the affair. He broke the law, Republicans said. There was your “impeachable offense,” they argued.

My major concern about the Clinton impeachment was whether the president’s offense had a direct impact on his office. It did not. Any of the issues that Secretary Reich lists, however, certainly do have a direct impact on the president’s ability to perform his duties.

The bar for whatever might occur with the current president is set even higher than it was for President Clinton, given that the president and the congressional majorities are of the same party.

You might not believe this, but I do not prefer an impeachment to occur. I do, though, want the unvarnished truth to be revealed about what the president thinks he can do with — and to — the exalted office he occupies.

If the truth is as ugly as some of us fear, then Congress should know how to repair the damage.

How about other families, Mr. Speaker-to-be?

family_leave

Paul Ryan wants to be speaker of the House on the condition he be allowed to spend ample quality time with his family.

Agreed, young man. You deserve it. So does your family.

But here’s a snippet of a Facebook post by left-leaning former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich about whether Ryan believes all American families deserve to spend that kind of time together:

“Paul Ryan has made a condition of his taking the House Speakership that he get enough time with his family, including three school-age kids. ‘I cannot and will not give up my family time,’ he says. I commend him for his dedication to work-life balance (years ago I left Bill Clinton’s cabinet because I didn’t have enough time to spend with my then teenage sons). But I wish Ryan felt other Americans deserved the same. Members of Congress have paid sick leave, but Ryan has repeatedly voted against legislation to give federal employees paid parental leave. And he and his fellow Republicans have blocked legislation that would provide all workers with paid maternity leave and paid sick leave. Ryan’s 2014 budget would have cut federal funding for child care subsidies for low-income families.”

Well, congressman? Will you change your tune?

 

Husband ‘doesn’t read’; watches Fox News

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 16:  Former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich testifies before the Joint Economic Committee January 16, 2014 in Washington, DC. Reich joined a panel testifying on the topic of "Income Inequality in the United States.Ă“  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

This item just showed up on my Facebook news feed.

It comes from former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich. I believe this actually happened. I wish it hadn’t. I’ll just share it here.

***

Just now in the St. Louis airport (where I’m heading to Cincinnati):

Lady: Are you Robert Reich?

Me: Yes.

Lady: So what do you think is going to happen?

Me: About what?

Lady: The election, the economy, everything.

Me: I don’t know.

Lady: I’m voting for Bernie (Sanders).

Me: Why?

Lady: He tells it straight. He’s not a politician. But my husband likes (Donald) Trump.

Me: Why?

Lady: Same reasons. My husband says Trump can’t be bought because he’s a billionaire.

Me: Trump just buys other politicians.

Lady: My husband says Trump will get things done.

Me: But will he get things done for billionaires like himself or for regular people?

Lady: I’ll ask my husband.

Me: You should give your husband my new book.

Lady: What book?

Me (pulling a copy out of my briefcase): “Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the few.” Here, you can have this copy. I have more.

Lady (taking book): Well, thank you. I’ll give it to him, (laughing) but he won’t read it.

Me: Why?

Lady: He doesn’t read. He watches Fox News.

Me: Put it on his pillow tonight with a Hershey kiss on top.

Boehner the buffer?

boehner

Here’s an interesting take on the sudden resignation of House Speaker John Boehner.

It comes from an acknowledged left-wing Democrat, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich.

Is he right or wrong about whether the speaker served as a buffer between the extreme right wing of his party and the rest of a diverse nation?

***

“Actually I’m amazed John Boehner survived as long as he has. His one virtue as Speaker of the House has been his total lack of principle, which has enabled him to cobble together majorities or pluralities out of a Party that’s gone off the rails, becoming increasingly misogynist, homophobic, anti-immigrant, and anti-Muslim; filled with paranoid whackos, voodoo economists, anti-science half-brains, creationists, and white supremists; while being financed by billionaires, Wall Street, and big business.

“The problem for the rest of us right now is they’re still a majority in Congress, and many are aiming to close down the government unless Planned Parenthood is defunded — and then to default on the nation’s debt rather than lift the debt limit.

“John Boehner will not go down in history as one of America’s greatest Speakers of the House, but at least he served as something of a buffer between the Republican crazies and the rest of America. (This morning when Marco Rubio announced Boehner’s plan to retire, attendees at the Values Voter Summit in Washington roared their approval and then rose in a standing ovation.) After the end of October, that buffer is gone.”

Kim Davis proves the Founders got it right

huck

Here’s the latest social media missive from former Labor Secretary Robert Reich.

“This morning, on ABC’s ‘This Week,’ Mike Huckabee said Kim Davis’ refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples is equivalent to Abraham Lincoln’s refusal to accept slavery, which was the law of the land when Lincoln became president. ‘You obey it if it’s right,’ Huckabee said, arguing that Davis shouldn’t be jailed. ‘Should Lincoln have been put in jail? Because he ignored the law?’

“So if Kim Davis who opposes gay marriage can refuse to issue a perfectly legal marriage license, a Quaker clerk who’s a pacifist can refuse to issue gun licenses, a clerk who’s a committed environmentalist can refuse to issue building permits, and a clerk who believes in a $15 minimum wage can refuse to issue Walmart a permit to build a new store. What planet does Huckabee live on?

“Here’s a man who was governor of Arkansas and wants to be president of the United States, and he compared Kim Davis to Abraham Lincoln? Sometimes I’m flabbergasted.”

Me, too, Mr. Secretary.

I’ll just add that the Kim Davis gay marriage license debate has demonstrated precisely why the Founding Fathers got it exactly right when they wrote a secular document — the U.S. Constitution — that would become the framework for the federal government.

 

Birthright debate set to rage

deport mom

Let’s get some conversation started on this birthright citizenship business.

A number of Republican Party presidential candidates want to do away with the constitutional provision that grants citizenship to anyone born in the United States of America.

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich wants it to remain a right of “natural-born” Americans. He writes this:

“Ending ‘birthright citizenship’ used to be an idea embraced by far-right whackos. But since Trump trumpeted it, Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham, Scott Walker, Rand Paul and others have joined him. Even Chris Christie now says the current policy needs to be ‘re-examined.’ And Jeb said today he doesn’t find the term ‘anchor babies’ offensive in the slightest.

“Can we get a grip? The right of anyone born in the United States to be an American citizen lies at the core of the post-Civil War concept of citizenship. It underlies the entire framework of rights and governance built around citizenship — including the 14th Amendment. It undergirds our entire history of immigration. And it prevents America from having permanent underclass of non-citizens spanning generations, as some other countries do.

“For Trump and other Republicans to make this proposal a centerpiece of their campaigns is not just to scapegoat immigrants for the economic anxieties of the middle class but to scapegoat innocent children as well. It is shameful.

“Your view?”

I think it’s the “innocent children” aspect of this effort that offends me the most.

So, talk to me.

 

Crowd size is overrated … trust me

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich is blown away by the size of the crowds greeting Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders as he campaigns for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Here’s what Reich posted on Facebook: “What amazes me, frankly, are the crowds. Not since Robert F. Kennedy sought the Democratic nomination in 1968 has a candidate for the nomination of either party generated such large numbers of people eager to see and listen to him. None in living memory has summoned such crowds this early, before the nominating season even begins. Even Sanders’ advisers are amazed (I spoke with one this morning who said they never expected this kind of response).

“What’s the explanation? It’s not his sense of humor. It’s not his youth. He isn’t a demagogue, bashing immigrants or pandering to hatred and bigotry. It’s that he’s telling Americans the unvarnished truth about what has happened to our economy and our democracy, and he is posing real solutions. And it seems that America is ready to listen.”

I guess I need to remind Reich — who I’m sure is aware of a lot more than I am — about a reality.

It is that big crowds don’t translate necessarily into votes.

The late U.S. Sen. George McGovern drew big crowds as well when he ran for president in 1972. I stood among a throng of thousands of people in a plaza in downtown Portland, Ore., as McGovern fired up the masses. That crowd was big, boisterous, enthusiastic — and it mirrored many of the political rally crowds McGovern was drawing all across the nation.

Sen. McGovern lost the election that year by 23 percentage points, as President Nixon rang up a 49-state landslide victory.

Yes, Sanders is telling voters his version of the “unvarnished truth.” Indeed, RFK did much the same thing in 1968 as he sought the Democratic presidential nomination. Kennedy’s message was different; it dealt more with issues of the heart, such as peace abroad and justice at home for all Americans.

Sanders’s crowds are impressive. Let’s remember, though, that he remains a still-distant second to the Democrats’ frontrunner, Hillary Rodham Clinton, who’s got another all-important edge over the rest of her party’s primary field: money.

We now live in an era where money matters far more than massive crowds.

Trump’s ‘brilliance’ questioned

I get a lot of Facebook posts from former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich, who’s teaching these days at the University of California, but who remains dialed in to what’s happening politically.

Here is his latest rant … about The Donald.

“This morning I heard an apologist for Donald Trump say ‘at least he’s a brilliant businessman.’

“Baloney. Trump companies have filed for corporate bankruptcy four separate times. If you or I went bankrupt, all our assets would be used to repay our debts. If you’re a former student who can’t pay your student debt, or an underwater homeowner who can’t make a mortgage payment, you can’t even file for bankruptcy. But Trump has used bankruptcy and corporate laws to shield his personal fortune, allowing him to amass huge debts with little or no downside risk while enjoying all the upside gains.

“Trump also made his fortune by squeezing employees. As Bloomberg Business reports today, Trump operates one of the stingiest 401(k) plans in America. You can’t even join it until you spend a year as an employee, and Trump’s contribution doesn’t kick in for six years – the slowest vesting schedule allowed under U.S. law. Between March 2009 and June 2012, Trump suspended all contributions.

“He’s no brilliant businessman. He typifies the modern corporate CEO who’s rigged the rules, reaped giant personal rewards, and left communities and employees stranded.”

I think in Reich’s view, Donald Trump is a legend in his own mind.

Come to think of it, that’s my view as well.

Bastrop County preps for ‘invasion’?

Here’s an interesting take on the upcoming military exercise planned by U.S. Special Forces, including Green Berets and SEALs, in Bastrop County, Texas.

It comes from former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, who served in the Clinton administration Cabinet.

***

As the U.S. military prepares to launch one of the largest training exercises in history later this month in Texas, many of the residents of Bastrop County suspect a secret Obama plot to spy on them, confiscate their guns and ultimately establish martial law. They aren’t “nuts and wackos. They are concerned citizens, and they are patriots,” Albert Ellison, chairman of the Bastrop Republican Party tells the Washington Post. Bastrop’s former mayor, Terry Orr, says the fear “stems a fair amount from the fact that we have a black president,” who people believe is primarily concerned with the welfare of “illegal aliens” and blacks. “People think the government is just not on the side of the white guy.” The current Bastrop mayor, Kenneth Kesselus, says the distrust is due in part to a sense that “things aren’t as good as they used to be,” especially economically. “The middle class is getting squeezed and they’ve got to take it out on somebody, and Obama is a great target.”

An economic recovery that only enriches the top breeds bigotry and invites scapegoating. It has happened before in history.

What do you think?

***

Here’s what I think. I think Reich’s comment about nature of the current recovery breeding “bigotry” and “scapegoating” is right on target. I also believe that’s just part of what’s fueling this mistrust of the military. I think some of it involves visceral loathing of the commander in chief by those who’ve bought into the myriad conspiracy theories surrounding his election, re-election and his service as president of the United States.

The crackpot Internet baloney that went viral around the world about the so-called Jade Helm 15 exercise being part of some plot by President Obama to declare martial law is a symptom of what’s become of the flow of rumors that get passed around as “information.”

Those who read this stuff, buy into it and then pass it along to gullible friends and acquaintances are contributing to the poisoning of what used to be considered reasonable political discourse.

And look at the comments of the former Bastrop mayor who suggests some of it stems from the president’s racial heritage. Is he right? You be the judge.