Howard Schultz and the billionaire establishment’s preference for Trump over leftist Democrats

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Howard Schultz, 65, oversaw the expansion of Starbucks into a global brand and now feels qualified to run the United States.

Whether or not Howard Schultz, the billionaire former CEO of Starbucks, runs for president in 2020 hinges largely on what direction the Democratic Party goes. Schultz, who has no political experience, is concerned that the party has become too left-wing, pushed by prominent congresspeople like Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. In order to save the country from a choice between socialism and Donald Trump, Schultz may be compelled to run as a “centrist independent.”

In a media blitz late last month, Schultz slammed Trump, calling the president “despicable” and accusing him of doing “almost everything possible to discredit the dignity, the civility, the values, the respectfulness of the Oval Office with no degree of any sense of responsibility to the American people.” Schultz’s remarks were notably lacking in specifics. While his most sanctimonious denunciations were of Trump’s demeanor and vulgarity, his strongest policy critiques were directed at Democrats, particularly Ocasio-Cortez.

“I no longer feel affiliated [with the Democratic Party] because I don’t know their views represent the majority of Americans,” Schultz said in a CNBC interview. He added, “I don’t think we want a 70 percent income tax in America,” criticizing Ocasio-Cortez’s now-famous proposal. Schultz called universal healthcare “not American” and “unaffordable,” adding it was as “false as President Trump telling the American people when he was running for president that the Mexicans were going to pay for the wall.”

It is Schultz, rather than Ocasio-Cortez, who is out of touch with the American public. As New York Magazine put it, “raising taxes on the rich consistently ranks as one of the most popular ideas in American politics.” Even a recent FOX News poll showed a whopping 70 percent favorability for raising taxes on income over $10 million – much to the dismay of the network’s hosts and panelists. Similarly, some 70 percent of Americans support universal healthcare, including a majority of Republicans.

Centrists and right-wingers have worked hard to misinform about Ocasio-Cortez’s tax proposal. In a marginal tax system like the one used in the United States, the highest tax rates only apply to earnings over a certain amount. Under Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal, earnings in excess of $10 million would be taxed at 70 percent, but the first $10 million would be taxed at a lower rate. The overwhelming majority of Americans would be unaffected. Pundits who accuse Ocasio-Cortez of coming for 70 percent of everybody’s money are deliberately deceptive in defense of the super wealthy.

Ocasio-Cortez

Schultz has feuded publicly with New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over her informal proposal to raise the top marginal tax rate to 70 percent.

Defense of the rich appears to be Schultz’s primary motivation for running. He’s cast himself as a civil rights icon for billionaires, arguing that the word “billionaire” itself is too divisive and should instead be “people of means.”

He’s not wrong to be concerned about his class’s perception. In 2017, 53 percent of Americans said they distrusted billionaires. More politicians are being elected on promises to tax the wealthy while publications like The New York Times publish op-eds called “Abolish Billionaires.”

To understand the anti-billionaire fever, it’s necessary to understand just what a billionaire is. Contrary to what Schultz says, “billionaire” isn’t a slur. It’s a mathematical designation, though one that can be difficult to fully grasp. At a rate of $1,000 a day, it would take more than 2,739 years to spend down just $1 billion. Just three billionaires, Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffet, and Bill Gates, control more wealth than the bottom 50 percent of Americans. Meanwhile, nearly 70 percent of Americans do not even have $1,000 in a savings account.

Ideas like universal healthcare, tuition-free college, and even a universal basic income are gaining popularity. Whether we can afford them all is a matter of debate. Simply taking every dollar from every billionaire would put a big dent in the cost, but not cover it completely. However, wealth is not created by billionaires hoarding assets. Economic activity will increase by taxing billionaires and putting their inactive wealth in the pockets of Americans who will spend it. We can do the seemingly impossible – we just have to raise taxes on Schultz and his fellow hoarders.

After his first few weeks of presidential flirtation largely busted, Schultz came out in favor of raising taxes on the wealthy, though he didn’t specify how high his taxes should be. He remains opposed to Ocasio-Cortez’s 70 percent proposal. It’s why he is comfortable weighing the “far-left and the far-right extremes” as about equally dangerous. One wants to raise his taxers higher than he’d like, and the other is the party of Donald Trump.

Public opinion is far more aligned with leftists than it is Trump’s GOP. There is little appetite for a President Howard Schultz. Polling puts Schultz at only around 7.7 percent, but he pulls twice as much support from would-be Democratic voters as he does Republicans. It’s probable a Schultz candidacy could spoil the election for Democrats. If he runs with poll numbers like that, Schultz is demonstrating his clear preference for President Donald Trump over a Democrat.

The American Dream used to be about working a steady job, finding a partner, buying a home, and filling it with children, cars and pets. For the modern right wing, it’s about amassing astronomical sums of wealth and hoarding it far away from the grabby hands of your lazy, greedy, no-good countrymen. Schultz may not like Trump, but his primary motivation for running is to defend himself from the leftist extremism of the American majority. He may cast himself as a centrist, but he’d sooner see a second Trump term than face the stiff taxation of him demanded by the American people.

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A view of the restraint of President Trump

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President Trump has held firm to his position of unilaterally holding the federal government hostage for his border wall, much to the delight of his base.

The presidency of tabloid star, game show host, and brand entrepreneur Donald J. Trump has been a rowdy one. Currently, the federal government of the United States is, like so many of Trump’s former ventures, shut down. As Trump threatens to declare a national emergency and circumvent Congress in order to build his promised southern border wall, commentators are speculating just how far Trump will go to undermine American institutions and empower himself.

Throughout his many decades of public life, Trump has been openly petty, vulgar, racist, conspiratorial, and narcissistic. The presidency hasn’t matured him an iota. As president, he’s continued to lie, flirt with dictators, enrich himself and his family, and show no compunction about stripping away benefits and even disaster relief from vulnerable people. Given how brazenly he’s gotten away with it all, though, it’s almost a marvel that he hasn’t gone even further. Continue reading

The real reason Trump wants a border wall

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Trump addressed the nation from the Oval Office for the first time as president on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump addressed the nation from the Oval Office, telling Americans there is a national security crisis on our southern border that only his wall – or fence, or barrier – can protect us from. The US federal government has been shut down for three weeks as Trump refuses to reopen it without funding for his project. Democrats have largely held firm, issuing a rebuke of Trump’s arguments and refusing to give him what he wants.

In his address, the president described the southern border as a warzone under constant attack by enemies of America. Trump connected America’s heroin epidemic with border crossings and ran down a short, cherry-picked list of Americans killed by undocumented immigrants to imply that none of them can be trusted. He blamed illegal immigration for job loss and stagnating wages. Continue reading

Positives of the Trump presidency

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President Trump’s unabashed, unapologetic awfulness could have a few inadvertent positive consequences for American politics.

Every day brings new revelations about the extent of President Donald Trump’s crookedness, the corruption of his administration, and the damage he’s doing to our political system, foreign relations and the environment. The deluge of negative coverage has caused Trump and his supporters to accuse the media of a conspiracy against the president, but the truth is far simpler than that: Trump truly is that awful. In fact, in most ways, he’s even worse than the mainstream media portrays.

Still, it’s worth entertaining some potential positives that could emerge out of Trump’s presidency. None of them justify his presidency but, mostly indirectly and by accident, there are ways in which Trump’s complete lack of convention could lead to a positive jolt to the system. Most of these fall under one of three categories: blundering into a decent foreign policy move, breaking our staid expectations of what a politician should be, and accidental admission of the truth. Continue reading

Stan Lee, major architect of American pop culture, dies at 95

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“Most people retire so they can go do what they want. I’m already doing what I want. I like to write. I like to work with creative people. If I retired, I’d be giving up my fun.” – Stan Lee

Stan Lee was 95 years old, pushing 96, when he passed away on November 12. His wife of nearly 70 years, Joan, died last year. After her death, reports emerged about Lee’s own health issues and troubled personal life, including elder abuse and shady estate finagling. The writing was on the wall: the living legend’s time was coming.

Everyone whose life he touched – and they must number in the hundreds of millions – is affected. By now, the story is well-known. Lee, the editor of Timely Comics – later Atlas, and eventually Marvel – was frustrated with his industry and contemplating a career change. On his way out the door, and with two of the most imaginative artistic storytellers in the field, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, in his employ, Lee transformed a company known primarily for cheap genre comics into the leading innovator in superhero literature. Continue reading

With Saudi defense, Trump’s love of tyrants reaches dismal new low

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Trump stands with the infamous orb in Saudi Arabia on his first trip overseas as president in 2017.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one of the most repressive, corrupt, and militaristic countries on earth. It is also a major ally of the United States, and current US President Donald Trump is a particularly big fan. Now that the Saudi government is believed to have murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi, likely on orders from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, pressure is mounting on Trump to stand up for journalists and free speech. Instead, he’s standing up for Saudi Arabia. Continue reading

Brett Kavanaugh’s personal record is bad – but so is his judicial record

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Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies before Congress.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a vote on President Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, for Friday, September 28 at 9 a.m. Republicans are anxious to hold the vote on Kavanaugh because each day seems to bring new allegations and scrutiny against the 53-year-old, whose appointment would be for life. Over the last two weeks, three women have come forward with allegations of sexual assault at the hands of Kavanaugh in high school and college. Continue reading

A compendium of Donald Trump’s criminality

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Left to right: Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, plead guilty to eight counts; Trump; and Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager, who was convicted of eight more charges.

Within minutes of one another, two former high-level associates of President Donald Trump were found guilty of felonies last week. Paul Manafort, the chairman of Trump’s presidential campaign throughout the pivotal summer of 2016, was convicted on eight charges, including tax fraud and bank fraud. Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime personal attorney, pleaded guilty to eight charges, including tax evasion and making an excessive campaign contribution at the request of a candidate – the hush money paid to one of Trump’s mistresses.

Five of Trump’s former close associates have already been indicted in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Manafort and Cohen join Michael Flynn, Trump’s former National Security Adviser; George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser for the Trump campaign; and campaign aid Rick Gates. Dozens of others have also been indicted. The president has thus far managed to stay just beyond reach, but the indictments and convictions underscore Trump’s lifelong adjacency to criminal activity. Continue reading

Donald Trump’s pipeline to Putin

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Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin shake hands at a summit in Helsinki, Finland, on July 16.

After his submissive appearance alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin at a summit in Helsinki last month, President Donald Trump faced some of the most severe and unanimous criticism of his chaotic political career. Members of Trump’s own party called the president “treasonous” and “disgraceful” while commentators speculated that Putin must have serious kompromat on Trump to make him behave so obsequiously. As the media and the FBI connect the dots of Putin and Trump’s relationship, their most obvious common interest in oil goes largely undiscussed. Continue reading

Republicans plead for civility

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Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave the Red Hen restaurant, an incident that became a flashpoint in the culture war.

For three years, Donald Trump has dominated America’s cultural conversation. In that time, he has accused Mexico of sending rapists and drug dealers over the border, mocked a disabled reporter’s handicap, encouraged his crowds to physically assault protesters, and labeled journalists the “enemy of the people.” As President, he has done all he can to shred America’s life-saving social safety net, banned Muslims from entering America, and held migrant children hostage in cages. Now, Trump and his enablers are asking for one thing: civility. Continue reading