Category Archives: George Will

It started with William Howard Taft

By Joseph Ballin 1/3/2018 8:16 am EST

People always wonder how we got to Trump. How did the GOP lose it’s mind? Where did everything go so wrong? This all didn’t start with Trump, go back to Mitt Romney, well actually go back to McCain, well actually go back to George W. Bush Jr., well actually go back to Bob Dole, well actually go back to George H. W. Bush, well actually go back to Ronald Reagan, well actually go back to Gerald Ford, well actually go back to Richard Nixon, well actually go back to Barry Goldwater, well actually go back to Dwight D. Eisenhower, well actually go back to Thomas E. Dewey, well actually go back to Wendell Willkie, well actually go back to Alf Landon, well actually go back to Herbert Hoover, well actually go back to Calvin Coolidge, well actually go back to Warren G. Harding, well actually go back to Charles Evans Hughes, and finally we get to William Howard Taft.

I did that to show you that this cancer that that has infected the Republican Party and later the Democratic party has been around for a long time, and has historically go by different names over the years. Regan ran on “trickle down economics”, also called “voodoo economics” by his very own vice president George W. H. Bush. Coolidge ran on “Less government in business and more business in government.” One of the earliest critics of trickle down economics was Democratic presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan, a political hero of mine, who would say the following about that issue, “There are two ideas of government. There are those who believe that if you just legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous, that their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous their prosperity will find its way up and through every class that rests upon it.” Bryan not only was the Democratic presidential candidate several times, he also changed the party platform of the Democratic party to move away from the Bourbon Democrats like Cleveland who governed as fiscal conservatives. Imagine if Sanders won the Democratic nominee and somehow managed to change the entire platform and party structure of the Democratic Party.

The Republican Party also saw an insurgency of it’s own on the progressive and nationalist side. Theodore Roosevelt was the vice president of William McKinley, until McKinley’s assassination by an anarchist. Roosevelt was trusteed into the presidency. During the time just before the United States entered World War 1, America was at it’s height in terms of the power of unions and radical movements in the US. We had anarchists, Wobblies, Socialist Party candidates receiving a million voters in a presidential election, etc. It was an era of American history called the “Pogressive Era”. Roosevelt came into the presidency dealing with a Republican Party that since at least the 1880s had sold out to big business and the intrests of the robber barons.

Roosevelt went to war with big industry, enacting break up of big corporations, who would later go on to merge together due to neglect, protecting our national parks, his “Square Deal” social welfare program, brought about the birth of our national parks, and brought an end to the Russo-Japanese war without involving US troops. It would be later he would be held up by Congress who refused to enact his progressive agenda. Roosevelt did not run again in 1908 and William Howard Taft. However, Taft was a conservative and refused to continue Roosevelt’s progressive. Roosevelt felt betrayed by Taft and the Republican establishment. After losing the nomination to Taft and created his own third party, the Pogressive Party. The Pogressive Party platform called for the following:

* Strict limits and disclosure requirements on political campaign contributions
* Registration of lobbyists
* Recording and publication of Congressional committee proceedings
* A National Health Service to include all existing government medical agencies.
* Social insurance, to provide for the elderly, the unemployed, and the disabled
* Limited the ability of judges to order injunctions to limit labor strikes.
* A minimum wage law for women
* An eight-hour workday
* A federal securities commission
* Farm relief
* Workers’ compensation for work-related injuries
* An inheritance tax
* Women’s suffrage
* Direct election of Senators
* Primary elections for state and federal nominations
* The recall election (citizens may remove an elected official before the end of his term)
* The referendum (citizens may decide on a law by popular vote)
* The initiative (citizens may propose a law by petition and enact it by popular vote)
* Judicial recall (when a court declares a law unconstitutional, the citizens may override that ruling by popular vote).

Kept in mind this was in 1912 his platform was purposed, not 2016. What America would look like today if Roosevelt didn’t lose control of the Republican Party to the right wing of the party, which caused the Republican Party to turn far right and the Democratic Party to move to the right wing, is up for debate. However, Taft refusing to continue Rooesevlt’s progressive policies would inevitably lead to the rise of Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, who would massively slash US taxes (The top marginal rate was reduced annually in four stages from 73% in 1921 to 25% in 1925.), lead to a massive economic bubble in the US, with massive inequality and most of the US being ruled as a police state by the KKK, and finally the collapse of 1929. Trump’s 2017 tax cut will go down in history in the same way the Harding tax cuts went, a complete economic collapse of the global economy. My only hope is this time we learn our lesson.

Bow Tie Daddy

A few weeks ago, the Washington Post published a fact-free opinion piece on the global warming “doomsayers” authored by the dried up corpse of conservative intellectual George F. Will.  Because he uses big words and wears a bow tie, Will has the veneer of respectability.  Plus, back in the day he wrote some high-minded drivel about baseball (it’s a metaphor for the human condition!), so that makes him the Walt fucking Whitman of political pundits.  Which isn’t saying much since the profession is largely dominated by scumbags, but whatever, he’s their philosopher prince twerp.

In the article, Will attempted to trade on his intellectual cred by constructing a bullshit case against the (rigorous, accepted, verified) science of global warming.  Despite a steady drum beat from the environmental community for the Post to issue a factual correction, none was forthcoming.  After a couple weeks of abuse, Will decided to double-down on stupid and published a column castigating the “media-environmental complex” for criticizing his “skepticism”, all while managing to muddy the waters with some out of context statistics from various climate research papers.  This then forced the Post ombudsman to weigh in so as to ward off the inevitable shitstorm of protest.

Well, more than a month after the original column ran, now that everyone could care less, the Post has finally published a rebuttal to Will’s nonsense.  Goody for them.  The closing paragraph is a huge understatement.

Readers and commentators must learn to share some practices with scientists — following up on sources, taking scientific knowledge seriously rather than cherry-picking misleading bits of information, and applying critical thinking to the weighing of evidence. That, in the end, is all that good science really is. It’s also what good journalism and commentary alike must strive to be — now more than ever.