Saturday, September 30, 2017

Sounds American

Days after Justin Trudeau told the United Nations that his government was working hard to improve the quality of life for indigenous peoples in Canada, it has emerged that his government spent more than C$110,000 in legal fees to avoid spending C$6,000 on orthodontics for a First Nations teenager suffering from chronic pain.

The figures, released through the Access to Information Act, were made public by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on Friday. They relate to a continuing court battle that has pitted the federal government against Josey Willier, a teenager from Sucker Creek First Nation, who for two years complained of chronic headaches and jaw pain stemming from an impacted tooth and a severe overbite.

In 2014, two orthodontists warned that without braces, Willier would eventually need invasive jaw surgery. One noted that Willier’s condition would probably worsen and could leave her with difficulties in eating and speaking.


The family’s request [for help paying for the $6,000 procedure] was denied by the [government benefit program] Health Canada, who said her condition was not serious enough to warrant braces. Three appeals of the department’s decision proved unsuccessful.


The department said its plan covering First Nations children was more generous than the private plans held by most Canadians.

Not if they deny coverage.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Every Time You Think He Can't Get Any Lower...

Can I get an Amen?

Who's being nasty?  Disgusting Pig.

"Just a few days ago" he was taking a bow for praise by Mayor Cruz, without acknowledging the dire circumstances.

And he never mentioned the fact that Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke characterized the hurricane relief efforts as "a good-news story" with which she is very satisfied.

I guess the Big Ass just heard Mayor Cruz's response.
“Well, maybe from where she's standing, it's a good-news story. When you’re drinking from a creek, it's not a good-news story. When you don't have food for a baby, it's not a good-news story,” Cruz told CNN’s “New Day,” referring to the plight of Puerto Ricans, many of whom have received little or no aid thus far. “When you have to pull people down from their buildings — I'm sorry, but that really upsets me and frustrates me. You know, I would ask her to come down here and visit the towns, and then make a statement like that, which frankly, it is an irresponsible statement.

“Damn it, this is not a good-news story. This is a people-are-dying story. This is a life-or-death story. This is a 'there's-a-truck-load-of-stuff-that-cannot-be-taken-to-people story.' This is a story of a devastation that continues to worsen because people are not getting food and water,” she continued. “It is not a good-news story when people are dying, when they don't have dialysis, when their generators aren't working and their oxygen isn’t providing for them. Where is there good news here? ... I’m really sorry, but you know when you have people out there dying, literally, scraping for food, where is the good news?”


The mayor said San Juan had received three pallets of water — slightly more than 4,000 bottles for a population of roughly 350,000 people — as well as four pallets of food and 12 pallets of baby food and supplies.

The situation in other parts of the island are even more dire, Cruz said, relaying her interaction with another Puerto Rican mayor, who said his residents had no food, no medicine, had not yet received any aid and were drinking from the same creek they were using to wash themselves and their clothes.


Cruz was clear that she remains appreciative of the federal government teams that have arrived on the island to help but that those teams have thus far been insufficient to overcome the logistical hurdles presented by the island.

The Big Ass can't imagine what it must be like for Mayor Cruz in her circumstances. He only senses when someone has said something he considers personally offensive.

Unlike the people of Puerto Rico, who are sitting around waiting for somebody else to do everything for them.

Despicable dickhead.

Says the loathsome prick who had to be shamed a week later into waiving the Jones Act (that was immediately waived for Texas and Florida) that kept the island from getting desperately needed help from any source.

And, in case you weren't following, here's the story on how Despicable Don responded to the devastation of Puerto Rico - or, rather, didn't.  Lost Weekend.

Friday, September 29, 2017

I'm Late to the Joke

Apparently Dotard J Trump tried to justify dragging his feet on help to Puerto Rico because it's hard to get to. Never mind we have a Navy and a Coast Guard. And Marines. And, oh yeah. He's going there by plane on Tuesday for his photo op.
Reading from his teleprompter, Trump began by sending “our thoughts and prayers to the people of Puerto Rico, who have been struck by storms of historic and catastrophic severity.” But then he strayed from his script:
“The response and recovery effort probably has never been seen for something like this. This is an island surrounded by water. Big water. Ocean water.”

“This is a thing called the Atlantic Ocean. This is tough stuff.”

'Not many people know this.  It's a thing called the Atlantic Ocean.  Big water. '

Does he seriously think no island has ever had a disaster and recovery efforts? My god.
Earlier in the day, the president added, “This is an island sitting in the middle of an ocean. It’s a big ocean, it’s a very big ocean.”
Well, yes, Little Donnie, the ocean is very big. On the other hand, do you know where Puerto Rico is? Not exactly the middle of that very big ocean. Perhaps you'll get the picture when you visit on Tuesday.
I knew it was a mistake to laugh at Dan Quayle. We were just tempting the gods.

  Charles P Pierce
And don't anybody remind him unless you want to set him off on a tirade, that not only have there been numerous island rescue operations, but one of the biggest was conducted by his arch nemesis.
After an earthquake shattered Haiti’s capital on Jan. 12, 2010, the U.S. military mobilized as if it were going to war.

Before dawn the next morning, an Army unit was airborne, on its way to seize control of the main airport in Port-au-Prince. Within two days, the Pentagon had 8,000 American troops en route. Within two weeks, 33 U.S. military ships and 22,000 troops had arrived. More than 300 military helicopters buzzed overhead, delivering millions of pounds of food and water.


By contrast, eight days after Hurricane Maria ripped across neighboring Puerto Rico, just 4,400 service members were participating in federal operations to assist the devastated island, an Army general told reporters Thursday. In addition, about 1,000 Coast Guard members were aiding the efforts. About 40 U.S. military helicopters were helping to deliver food and water to the 3.4 million residents of the U.S. territory, along with 10 Coast Guard helicopters.


“I think it’s a fair ask why we’re not seeing a similar command and response,” said retired Lt. Gen. P.K. “Ken” Keen, the three-star general who commanded the U.S. military effort in Haiti, where 200,000 people died by some estimates.

And Haitians aren't even American citizens like Puerto Ricans. Oh, and they didn't have several days to put together plans ahead of the earthquake knowing it was coming either.


...but hey, do what you will anyway.

There Goes Another One

Tom Price [...] has resigned as Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) after offering the American people an apology and a fractional refund for wasting over $1 million of taxpayer money to charter private and military flights during his short stint in office.

Does that mean Mnuchin, Pruitt and Zinke are going to resign?
Price's $1 million private flight tab crowns him as the king of travel waste amongst the Trump cabinet, far exceeding the reported travel expenses that have also put Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke under scrutiny.


Price lost his position over this scandal, given how it entirely undercut his political persona as a fiscal conservative. But Price's mismanagement of taxpayer resources for official travel pales in comparison to his active sabotage of Obamacare, a program it was his duty to administer carefully so long as it remains the law of the land.

During Affordable Care Act marketplace enrollment dates (November 1 through December 15) the HHS department typically joins community health groups in local campaigns to encourage signups. Given how insurance works, the more people that buy into it, the lower the costs for everyone, and the more stable the insurance markets will be. Price directed his department to pull out of these events, and slashed the advertising budget to spread the word by 90%.


Price's department also plans to shut down the enrollment website for 12 hours during all but one Sunday during the enrollment period for "scheduled maintenance."


It was fair politics for Secretary Price to back all of the failed Obamacare repeal efforts this year. It was fair politics for Secretary Price to back a budget that slashes funding for his HHS, the CDC and NIH, to the dismay of the medical and scientific establishment.


But Price's efforts to destroy the law he wanted to see replaced weren't on the level for someone who became a government administrator tasked with executing that law on behalf of the American people.


Though it isn't yet clear what the upshot of Price's resignation will be, these planned lengthy outages come on top of Price's decision in the spring to cut this year's Obamacare enrollment period in half from last year's 90-day period.
...but hey, do what you will anyway.


Of course, he didn't say anything about cabinet members.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Trump's War on the Poor

He's attacking the ACA, which he couldn't repeal, by cutting funding, including that for children.   The Supreme Court is about to decide a union/wage issue - I'm guessing that won't go in favor of workers.  And then there's his tax plan.

 ...but hey, do what you will anyway.

What a Surprise

President Trump could cut his tax bills by more than $1.1 billion, including saving tens of millions of dollars in a single year, under his proposed tax changes, a New York Times analysis has found.

Of course, since we can't see his tax returns, who knows how much he stands to gain?

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Racists Unwanted in the Air Force Academy

Lt. General Jay B. Silveria hauled up the US Air Force Academy students and personnel for some choice words after someone at the preparatory school wrote racial slurs on the message boards on the doors of five black cadet candidates.
"You should be outraged, not only as an airman, but as a human being. ... If you can't treat someone with dignity and respect, then you need to get out.  If you can't treat someone with another gender ... with dignity and respect, then you need to get out.  If you demean someone in any way, then you need to get out.  And if you can't treat someone from another race or a different color skin with dignity and respect, then you need to get out.  ... Get out your phones.  I want you to videotape this so that you can use it.  .... This is our institution, and if you need it and you need my words, then you keep these words.  ... If you can't treat someone with dignity and respect, then get out."
There's an investigation into the incident, and it's no doubt that whoever is found to have written the slurs will indeed get out.  Get put out.


The Iran Nuclear Agreement

The UN General Assembly session in September was a chance for [Trump] to make his case to the world and persuade allies to get behind an effort to rewrite the accord and impose stricter controls on Iran. Yet after a week of speeches, backroom negotiations, and top diplomatic meetings, the U.S. appears more isolated and its allies more united around the importance of the agreement. The week also exposed the administration’s internal division over Iran—and disdain for the details of the accord.


Secretary of State Rex Tillerson laid out to European and Iranian leaders all the things Trump hates about the nuclear deal, chiefly that its main restrictions do nothing to address such issues as Iran’s development of ballistic missiles, its support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and its backing of terrorism in the region. After the meeting, it became clear the two sides were talking past each other. [...] The U.S. says by focusing on the details, its allies are missing the bigger picture. While grudgingly admitting Iran is meeting the letter of its obligations, Tillerson has resorted to arguing that the nation is “clearly in default” of the accord’s preamble calling for progress toward regional peace and stability.


“I have no doubt that if this scenario materializes, which it’s not clear it will, the European Union will act to protect the legitimate interests of our companies with all the means at our disposal,” David O’Sullivan, EU ambassador to the U.S., said on Sept. 25. That could end up isolating the U.S. rather than Iran, which has promised to stick to the accord if the U.S. withdraws. “The Trump administration has not explained how this policy will work better, what this strategy will actually achieve, and how Washington is going to implement it,” says Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation at the Arms Control Association.

Because, just like health care and tax reform, they don't have a fricking clue. They just have an idealogy.
One of the proponents’ frustrations is the amount of time they’ve spent educating U.S. officials on what the deal does and doesn’t do. Officials with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Vienna-based body charged with verifying Iranian compliance, had to walk U.S. counterparts through the basics, according to three senior diplomats with close contact to the agency.
Bingo. They don't know. They don't care.
On Sept. 26 the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford Jr., questioned backing out of the deal because it might weaken U.S. credibility in any talks over North Korea. There’s also Tillerson’s friction with Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the UN. On Sept. 5, Haley gave a speech to the American Enterprise Institute on the Iran agreement in which she made several errors, including her claim that the deal was meant to end Iran’s nuclear program entirely.
How frustrating it must be for the rest of the world to deal with these idiots.
In keeping with Haley’s belief that her cabinet-level rank means she doesn’t report to Tillerson, she didn’t consult with him or his staff.

The tension boiled over at the Sept. 20 diplomatic meeting at the UN to discuss the Iran accord. Haley wasn’t originally invited, but at the last minute, she took a spot reserved for a senior adviser to Tillerson without asking the State Department.She then tried to sit at the main table in a space reserved for another U.S. official but was told to sit in the back, according to two people familiar with the situation.
I suspect she went crying to Trump.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Whatever Happens, It Won't Be What Needs to Happen

The White House announced Friday that President Donald Trump will take a five-nation trip to the Asia Pacific region in November as the U.S. seeks to curb North Korea’s growing nuclear threat.

The White House said Trump will travel to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines from Nov. 3-14, a trip that will also include a stop in Hawaii.


Trump is also expected to discuss trade and economic ties to the region and will attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in the Philippines.

I think I already know his speech: You people need to step up your support of me and your blackballing of Little Rocket Man.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

But We're Only Here for the Perks

Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) on Thursday [...] wrote a stern letter to the President amid a slew of reports revealing that members of Trump’s Cabinet have spent thousands on private and government planes to attend official events.

“Federal regulations specifically prohibit official travel by chartered jet when it is not the most cost-effective mode of travel ‘because the taxpayers should pay no more than necessary for your transportation,'” Grassley wrote in the letter to Trump. “Considering the many travel options to and from Washington, D.C., I’m urging you to emphasize to Cabinet secretaries the necessity of using reasonable and cost-effective modes of travel in accordance with federal restrictions.”

He noted that Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price has spent more than $400,000 on private planes, and that both EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are under investigation for their own use of non-commercial flights. Since Grassley sent his letter to Trump, it has also been revealed that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke took private and government flights this year.

If he insists they act like regular folks, he won't find any of his like-minded entitled peers willing to take the positions he needs to fill.

..but hey, do what you will anyway.

Trickle Down = Someone Pissing on Your Leg

If you want to spot the moment in time in which the Republican Party first rejected the empirical and embraced unreason as a political identity, don’t look to the Religious Right, look to the day Reagan and his people took supply-side economics seriously. That’s the first bowlful of monkeybrains that the GOP ate. That’s where the prion disease first took hold. Supply-side never made sense as economics; when George H. W. Bush called it “voodoo economics,” he said the truest thing he ever said in public.

  Charles P Pierce
And we know this, because we had the grand Reagan economy that did fck-all for the middle class, and ultimately, the national economy. And yet, here we are, pretending again that it will do wonders.
If you don’t believe me, believe the guy who first promulgated this nonsense to President Ronald Reagan, and who appeared in Thursday’s Washington Post.
Based on this logic, tax cuts became the GOP’s go-to solution for nearly every economic problem. Extravagant claims are made for any proposed tax cut. Wednesday, President Trump argued that “our country and our economy cannot take off” without the kind of tax reform he proposes. Last week, Republican economist Arthur Laffer said, “If you cut that [corporate] tax rate to 15 percent, it will pay for itself many times over. … This will bring in probably $1.5 trillion net by itself.” That’s wishful thinking. So is most Republican rhetoric around tax cutting. In reality, there’s no evidence that a tax cut now would spur growth.
From the guy who gave us trickle down economics:

I swear I don't think I'm wrong when I opine that what the GOP and corporate elite are trying to do these days is to amass all the wealth they can, in whatever way they can, knowing that the whole shebang is racing toward a collosal collapse in the near future, and they want to be set when that happens. Screw the rest of us.

Back to Charlie:
The Deficit, which pops up every time there’s a Democratic president and/or every time the country’s real owners pull the strings of their legislative marionettes. In fact, one of them pretty much gave the game away in The New York Times on Thursday.
A new tax cut is emerging to rival those of the Bush years, and the deficit hawks have hardly peeped. “It’s a great talking point when you have an administration that’s Democrat-led,” said Representative Mark Walker, Republican of North Carolina and the chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a group of about 150 conservative House members. “It’s a little different now that Republicans have both houses and the administration.”
And there you have it: they squeal about deficits when the Democrats are in charge. It's a great "talking point" - but it has no other validity.

And here's what the trickle down guy says about what, if anything, actually promoted growth in the Reagan years:
First was the sharp reduction in interest rates by the Federal Reserve. The fed funds rate fell by more than half, from about 19 percent in July 1981 to about 9 percent in November 1982. Second, Reagan’s defense buildup and highway construction programs greatly increased the federal government’s purchases of goods and services. This is textbook Keynesian economics.

Third, there was the simple bounce-back from the recession of 1981-82. Recoveries in the postwar era tended to be V-shaped — they were as sharp as the downturns they followed. The deeper the recession, the more robust the recovery.

Finally, I’m not sure how many Republicans even know anymore that Reagan raised taxes several times after 1981.


Today, Republicans extol the virtues of lowering marginal tax rates, citing as their model the Tax Reform Act of 1986, which lowered the top individual income tax rate to just 28 percent from 50 percent, and the corporate tax rate to 34 percent from 46 percent. What follows, they say, would be an economic boon.


But there is no evidence showing a boost in growth from the 1986 act. The economy remained on the same track, with huge stock market crashes — 1987’s “Black Monday,” 1989’s Friday the 13th “mini-crash” and a recession beginning in 1990. Real wages fell.


The flip-side of tax cut mythology is the notion that tax increases are an economic disaster — the reason, in theory, every Republican in Congress voted against the tax increase proposed by Bill Clinton in 1993. Yet the 1990s was the most prosperous decade in recent memory. At 37.3 percent, aggregate real GDP growth in the 1990s exceeded that in the 1980s.

Despite huge tax cuts almost annually during the George W. Bush administration that cost the Treasury trillions in revenue, according to the Congressional Budget Office, growth collapsed in the first decade of the 2000s. Real GDP rose just 19.5 percent, well below its ’90s rate.

Tax cuts for the rich and the corporate have only one aim and one result: More wealth into the hands of the rich and the corporate. How can that not be obvious?

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Let's Not Offend Anyone

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Looking for His Props

Actually, Trump's initial shaming tweets about Puerto Rico and subsequent campaign fund's $3M donation, due to his all-consuming need for flattery and praise, probably brought much needed publicity to the plight of the island. Sometimes he inadvertently does good when he does bad.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Twisting the Narrative

“What I don’t think people see from the get-go is when you do it on the flag and the anthem, it looks like you’re protesting against the ideals of America, the patriotism, the people who put their lives on the line, given their life for the country,” he said to reporters Thursday. “So I just don’t think — I think it’s misguided to protest the anthem and the flag.”

Except, nobody's doing that. Why don't you talk about the real reason for the protests?

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

There Flies Another One

Price and Mnuchin weren't the only ones.

I'm not sure it's corruption per se as much as it is a sense of entitlement with this bunch.  They were plucked from amongst wealthy Trump supporters who have no business being assigned to the positions they're in.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.


Jesus Christ.  How do you chalk up that much in that short a time?  What's on those jets?

Shamed Into It

Trump indicated Wednesday he may not lift the Jones Act for Puerto Rico because “a lot of shippers” don’t want it waived, despite the fact that he lifted the restrictions when Hurricane Harvey and Irma hit the U.S. earlier this month.

Sanders said the President waived the restriction at the request of Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

The Horror

I'm getting pretty tired of the government co-opting American citizens for propaganda. Things are bad enough without the exaggerations and lies.
Lakshmi Sammarco, a coroner in Warmbier’s home state of Ohio, said the 22-year-old [Otto Warmbier], who had been sentenced to 15 years’ hard labour while visiting North Korea, had died from a lack of oxygen and blood to the brain but could not explain what caused his neurological condition.


“We don’t know what happened to him, and this is the bottom line,” Sammarco said, adding that the cause of the death may never be known.

Oh, no. We KNOW. Trump and Warmbier's family has told us he was tortured - "beyond belief", according to Trump, and, according to his parents, his bottom teeth had been "rearranged" by pliers.
Sammarco, who examined Warmbier’s body after his death in June, said there was no clear evidence of physical torture – including no recently broken bones or damaged teeth.


Warmbier died in Cincinnati in June, less than a week after he was flown back to the US in a state of “unresponsive wakefulness”.


Warmbier’s body displayed a few small scars, all but one of which could be traced to medical instruments, she said, adding that the Warmbiers’ TV interviews had prompted her to publicly reveal her findings.

“They’re grieving parents. I can’t really make comments on their perceptions,” she added.


Warmbier’s parents had refused to allow an autopsy to be carried out.

Sammarco said she had conducted a “virtual autopsy” using extensive medical scanning and imaging, adding that a regular autopsy would have been of little use so long after Warmbier suffered brain damage.

She said that his body was in surprisingly good condition for someone who had reportedly been bedridden for more than a year. Her office’s report said his body appeared “well-nourished”.
I'm sorry for the Warmbiers, and for Otto himself, but what in the name of all that's sane was he doing Trying to steal something in North Korea, of all places?

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

The Essence of the GOP

[Alabama's GOP Senate candidate Roy] Moore prevailed in his primary by attacking Mitch McConnell, whom the insurgents blame for undermining the Trump presidency. Moore has openly defied legal authority in service of his belief that his theology overrides the authority of the United States government. This ought to disqualify Moore for service in public office, the most minimal qualification for which is a profession of respect for the rule of law. And yet, rather than declaring Moore unfit to serve, Republicans have endorsed his candidacy. Their stated qualms are limited to the concern that he might fail to vote for their tax-cut plan.

“He’s going to be for tax reform, I think,” Ohio senator Rob Portman of Ohio tells Politico. “Who won? I wasn’t paying attention. I’m just worried about taxes,” adds Nevada senator Dean Heller. If America slides into authoritarianism, the history of the Republican Party’s complicity could be titled, “I wasn’t paying attention. I’m just worried about taxes.”


“While copycat challengers may not have Mr. Moore’s advantages, tough primary contests next year will certainly drain GOP funds and divert focus that might otherwise be used to defeat Democrats in the fall,” [Karl Rove] fears. “They will also add to the growing sense of a Republican civil war, which complicates the coalition-building needed to pass the party’s agenda.”

  NY Magazine
The GOP establishment still hasn't come to terms with the fact that half of the party is made up of angry racists. They apparently thought they successfully co-opted the Tea Party back when George W was elected.
And, no, when it comes to the people who voted for Moore, I don’t have to “respect their beliefs.” I don’t have to “understand where they’re coming from.” I don’t have to “see it from their side.” These people are preparing to make a lawless theocratic lunatic one of 100 United States Senators, and that means these people are about to inflict him and his medievalism on me, too.


I don’t have to “respect their beliefs” because the U.S. Senate to which they are preparing to send him is in the process of screwing them with their pants on and they could care less.


The Senate’s tax plan emerged full-grown from the forehead of Mania on Tuesday. As is customary for some documents, it is vague in almost all its major details. But we do know that it eliminates the estate tax entirely—a plutocratic goodie that probably caused a postmortem emission from the grave of John D. Rockefeller that looked like the gusher from his first oil well—and it gives to the middle class with one hand while taking it away from the other, thereby robbing Peter to bribe Paul.


What I do know is that the people who elected Roy Moore elected him to join the Senate majority that will pass this thing, if and when it ever comes to a vote. Then, come some April morn, they will be stunned to discover that they can’t deduct what they pay in state taxes anymore, and that their charitable contributions don’t count any more either.

  Cahrles P Pierce
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Tax Cutters

Asked by George Stephanopoulos if he can promise middle-class families won’t have to pay higher taxes under the plan, economic adviser Gary Cohn says, “I can’t guarantee anything.”


The notion that passing the tax cut will help the party in 2018 is the conventional wisdom, and it is what Republicans have been asserting for months. But not only is this false, it is increasingly obvious that many Republicans themselves do not believe it.


While details of the plan remain sparse, one already-obvious source of fiscal pain is the plan to eliminate the federal tax deduction for state and local taxes. Republicans love this idea because it raises lots of revenue, and it hits only states that have state income taxes. (Penalizing states that raise revenue through the income tax encourages them to shift over to more regressive tax streams, a secondary benefit for the affluent.)


The Wall Street Journal editorial page argues that those Republican members of Congress must be willing to make their constituencies take a tax increase for the greater good of reducing taxes for rich people elsewhere.


And indeed, blue-state Republican members of Congress are so far willing to take one for the team. The plan is “so good on every front,” says New York congressman Chris Collins, that “it does not become a big deal” if some constituents get hit.

  NY Magazine
You might not want your constituents to hear that.
On the other hand, many of those members already voted for the Republican Obamacare repeal plan, so they might assume they’re going to lose anyway, and might as well lay the groundwork for a lobbying career.
There IS that.
A recent ABC/Washington Post poll shows where public opinions stand at the outset of the tax-cut debate. And 28 percent of the public supports Trump’s tax plan, against 44 percent opposing it. This does not reflect the barely revealed details about the proposal, but it is a useful baseline for gauging what Americans believe about Trump and his plans for taxes.
They must just be responding on what they know about Trump, because they obviously didn't know what was in the plan. I don't see when the poll was conducted, but it was printed September 26 - before Trump vaguely outlined it in Indiana.
The poll finds that Americans support cutting taxes for middle- and lower-income Americans by large margins (78-19), and opposes cutting taxes for the affluent by nearly as wide a margin (33-62).
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Where's the Love?

All North Korean companies have been ordered to stop doing business in China, AFP reports citing an unnamed Chinese official.


Last week, China’s central bank told the country's lenders to strictly implement UN sanctions against North Korea. They were ordered to stop providing financial services to new North Korean customers and to wind down loans with existing customers.

Dolt 45 tweeted plenty accusing China of not doing anything to stop North Korea's nuclear ambitions. Where are the tweets of praise?

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

DHS Making Itself Irrelevant

Recently, the DHS reported to several states that their 2016 elections had been in some way impacted by Russian hackers. California Secretary of State Alex Padilla is not impressed.
“Last Friday, my office was notified by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that Russian cyber actors 'scanned' California’s Internet-facing systems in 2016, including Secretary of State websites. Following our request for further information, it became clear that DHS’ conclusions were wrong,” he wrote in a statement published on Wednesday.

He went on to stress that last Friday's notification from the DHS wasn't just “a year late,” but was also “bad information.”

Now the DHS instead maintains – without any stated evidence – that “Russian scanning activity...occurred on the California Department of Technology statewide network,” rather than Secretary of State websites.


As for the Department of Technology allegedly being breached, the office said its security systems were able to block “suspect activity.” However, claims that Russians were behind any such attempt remain unsubstantiated.

Padilla's statement comes after California – along with 20 other states – was told last week that its systems were targeted last year “by Russian government cyber actors seeking vulnerabilities and access to US election infrastructure.”

The DHS' mistake in California is the second time in a week that the department's credibility has come into question, as it was forced to backtrack earlier this week on its claim that Russian hackers attempted to hack Wisconsin's election infrastructure.


A congressional investigation into Russia’s alleged meddling in the US election has been dragging on 10 months, with any hard evidence explicitly pointing to the role of Russian authorities yet to be produced.

We don't need no steenkeen evidence.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Deficits Racket

I have a question that has never gotten answered to my satisfaction until now:  Why can't the US afford EVERYthing, since it prints its own money?

Adam Johnson and Nima Shirazi talk to economist Stephanie Kelton about how money is made and spent and why the question of whether we can afford single payer health care in this country is a straw man.  Adam and Nima spend the first half of the podcast chattering in an uncharacteristically juvenile way, to my mind, but when they get to Ms. Kelton, the enlightenment begins.  She makes it all so clear.

Politics is bullshit.

I recommend skipping the first half (sorry, Adam and Nima) and jumping in at the 28.00 mark of The Deficits Racket Part 1: Single Payer Propaganda War.
The idea that we’re “running out of money” and have to “tighten our belts" is a common trope in US media; the premise that the US government is like a household that must balance its books, largely taken for granted by liberal and right-wing outlets alike.

But is this premise correct? Is it true that the United States is over-budget and ready to explode with insolvency? Where does this conventional wisdom come from and whom does it benefit?

On this and next week's show we seek to answer some of the questions. In Part I: Single Payer Propaganda War, we examine the primary talking points against Single Payer and other big government programs and how to combat them with guest Stephanie Kelton.

  Citations Needed
"Conventional wisdom holds that the government taxes individuals and companies in order to fund its own spending. But the government, which is ultimately the source of all dollars, taxed or untaxed, pays or spends first and taxes later. When it funds programs, it literally spends money into existence, injecting cash into the economy. Taxes exist in order to control inflation by reducing the money supply, and to insure that dollars, as the only currency accepted for tax payments, remain in demand."

Dotard J Trump in Indiana Pushing Another Pile of Shit

Why did he have to go to Indiana to make that announcement?
Here are the key reasons Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are making Indiana a focus of efforts to get a tax reform plan through Congress.


If Republicans can win over eight Democrats — particularly Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly — they can block a filibuster, which would let them pass longer-lasting tax cuts.

  Indy Star
Senator Donnelly has a telephone.
When Americans for Prosperity — the grassroots arm of the political network controlled by billionaires Charles and David Koch — kicked off a nationwide tour for a “fairer, flatter and simpler” tax code in August, Indiana was the first stop. The group held events in Indianapolis and Fort Wayne. They have more activities planned — including door knocking and phone calls — to their base of 70,000 Hoosier activists.


Another group, a coalition of businesses and associations advocating for a cut in the corporate tax rate, has also been active in Indiana.


One of Pence’s top boasts about his four years as Indiana’s governor is that he enacted the largest income tax cut in the state’s history. That’s true in terms of a rate cut, but it was modest and it only had to beat one other cut to claim the title of largest. The rate was cut 5 percent to 3.23 percent, after pushback from the state legislature to Pence’s initial call for a 10 percent cut.


Don’t forget that Indiana has been good for Trump. His decisive victory in the primary effectively ended the nomination battle last year.
So, he's giving them the pleasure of his presence as a reward?


What about the tax reforms he's hawking?
Trump [...] cast his tax plan as an economic imperative and the fulfillment of a promise to his coalition of working-class supporters to deliver benefits in the form of lower taxes, better jobs and higher wages. But the president offered few details about how working people might benefit from a plan that has explicit and substantial rewards for wealthy people and corporations, including the elimination of taxes on large inheritances and deep reductions in the rates paid by businesses large and small.

Do you think his base will figure it out?  Me neither.  I think they'll double down blaming immigrants and blacks when they can't figure out why they're worse off than ever before.
“If this framework is all about the middle class, then Trump tower is middle-class housing,” said Senator Ron Wyden.


Republican congressional leaders and senior White House officials have said privately they expect to use special budget rules that would allow them to get the bill through Congress without Democratic support.


At a House retreat on Wednesday morning, Representative Kevin Brady of Texas, the Republican chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, walked members through the framework and talked about the importance of coming together to fix the tax code.


When Rep. Peter Roskam of Illinois, the tax policy chairman on the committee, detailed plans to dump the A.M.T. and estate taxes, the audience in the room erupted in cheers.


On the individual side, the plan would collapse the tax brackets from seven to three, with tax rates of 12 percent, 25 percent and 35 percent, administration officials said. The current top rate is 39.6 percent and the lowest rate is 10 percent.
So that sounds like the people in the lowest bracket - i.e., the poorest people - are going to see their taxes go up even as the wealthier people see a reduction in theirs. Nice.
The plan aims to simplify and cut taxes for the middle class by doubling the standard deduction to $12,000 for individuals and to $24,000 for married couples. That would allow people to avoid a complicated process of itemizing their taxes to claim various credits and deductions. It would also increase the child tax credit from $1,000 to an unspecified amount and create a new $500 tax credit for dependents, such as the elderly, who are not children.
I think we need to see some specifics and some independent analyses.
The changes to taxation for companies would be equally dramatic. The proposal calls for reducing the corporate tax rate to 20 percent from 35 percent, a shift that is intended to make American companies more competitive with their counterparts around the world.

On Wednesday, Mr. Trump said his earlier calls for a corporate tax rate of 15 percent — which he repeated as recently as this week — was simply a negotiating tactic.

“I wanted to start at 15 so that we got 20,” Mr. Trump said. “20 is a perfect number.”
Oh, of course, sir! We know you didn't lose! You're a winner!

I'm not even going to bother with the historic chart of taxes and the corresponding state of the union.
It will be left to Congress to create safeguards that prevent wealthy individuals from incorporating as pass-through businesses, which would tax their income at a lower rate.
In other words, that won't happen.
Perhaps the most major yet murky shift on the business side is the move from a worldwide tax system to a territorial tax system. In theory this means that companies would not be taxed on their overseas earnings, but to prevent erosion of the tax base, Republicans plan to impose some form of tax on foreign profits at a rate that has yet to be determined.
And do you think they'll have that spelled out by the time they ask for a vote on this doozy of a plan?
Administration officials did not provide a cost estimate for the plan.
Gee what a surprise.
Studies of similar plans produced by Mr. Trump and House Republicans have been projected to cost $3 trillion to $7 trillion over a decade.
And where's that coming from? Not "defense".
The Republicans pitching the plan say economic growth will compensate for lost revenue.

This is more "trickle down" voodoo. Exactly what you would expect from Republicans and billionaires.

The WWI Era Jones Act and Puerto Rico

[Post WWI] Congress enacted the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, a.k.a. the Jones Act, to ensure that the country maintained a shipbuilding industry and seafaring labor force.


Under the law, any foreign registry vessel that enters Puerto Rico must pay punitive tariffs, fees and taxes, which are passed on to the Puerto Rican consumer.


The foreign vessel has one other option: It can reroute to Jacksonville, Fla., where all the goods will be transferred to an American vessel, then shipped to Puerto Rico where — again — all the rerouting costs are passed through to the consumer.


This is a shakedown, a mob protection racket, with Puerto Rico a captive market.


Thanks to the law, the price of goods from the United States mainland is at least double that in neighboring islands, including the United States Virgin Islands, which are not covered by the Jones Act. Moreover, the cost of living in Puerto Rico is 13 percent higher than in 325 urban areas elsewhere in the United States, even though per capita income in Puerto Rico is about $18,000, close to half that of Mississippi, the poorest of all 50 states.


Food costs twice as much in Puerto Rico as in Florida.


A 2012 report by two University of Puerto Rico economists found that the Jones Act caused a $17 billion loss to the island’s economy from 1990 through 2010. Other studies have estimated the Jones Act’s damage to Puerto Rico, Hawaii and Alaska to be $2.8 billion to $9.8 billion per year. According to all these reports, if the Jones Act did not exist, then neither would the public debt of Puerto Rico.


Senator John McCain of Arizona and Representative Gary Palmer of Alabama, have submitted bills to repeal or suspend the law. (The shipbuilding industry supports the law.)


If the Jones Act were suspended, consumer prices would drop by 15 percent to 20 percent and energy costs would plummet. A post-Jones Puerto Rico could modernize its infrastructure and develop its own island-based shipping industry.


Jones Act relief will also enable islanders to find medicine, especially Canadian pharmaceuticals, at lifesaving rates. And it will give islanders access to international oil markets — crucial for running its electric grid — devoid of a 30 percent Jones Act markup.

So, it's not going to happen. Sorry, Puerto Rico. Trump just denied your request to even waive the Jones Act for hurricane relief (although it did so for Florida and Texas).  You'll just have to die.

UPDATE:  Shamed into waiving the Act for Puerto Rico.

UPDATE:  Waived for only ten days!

Meanwhile in Puerto Rico

The Trump administration on Tuesday denied a request to waive shipping restrictions to help get fuel and supplies to storm-ravaged Puerto Rico, saying it would do nothing to address the island’s main impediment to shipping, damaged ports.


The Department of Homeland Security, which waived the act after hurricanes Harvey and Irma, did not agree an exemption would help this time.


The government’s rationale for a waiver after the storms hit Texas, Louisiana and Florida was to ease movement of fuel to places along the U.S. East Coast and make up for temporary outages of high capacity pipelines.


Puerto Rico has long railed against the Jones Act, saying it makes the cost of imported basic commodities, such as food, clothing and fuel, more expensive.


The Jones Act limits shipping between coasts to U.S. flagged vessels. However, in the wake of brutal storms, the government has occasionally issued temporary waivers to allow the use of cheaper, tax free, or more readily available foreign flagged ships.


Gregory Moore, a spokesman for Customs and Border Protection, an office of Homeland Security, said in a statement that an assessment by the agency showed there was “sufficient capacity” of U.S.-flagged vessels to move commodities to Puerto Rico.

Then why don't they have water?

And add austerity/bank board rules: looks like the US is intent on destroying Puerto Rico, and the hurricane has given it a boost.

More on the Jones Act.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Double Down Dotard

President Donald Trump took a break Tuesday night from his presidential duties to court donors at a fundraising dinner in Manhattan, delivering a 40-minute speech covering a wide range of topics including his spat with the NFL.


“They have a rule, you can’t dance in the end zone, you can’t wear pink socks, one guy’s mother had breast cancer and they wouldn’t let him, you can’t do anything! But you’re allowed to sit down for the national anthem,” Trump said at the dinner, according to an attendee who spoke to Politico.

“All Goodell had to do was say there’s rules and you can’t do it, suspend [Kaepernick] for a couple games, you would never have had this,” Trump said, as quoted by Politico.

Took a break from his presidential duties?

He obviously doesn't know Colin Kaepernick.
“Now you have this whole thing going and it’s a very dangerous thing ‘cause we cannot let anyone disrespect our country like that.”
Dangerous how? Flag burning was a thing in the 60s. Dangerous to ruling elites, perhaps.
Trump made the remarks in front of about 150 people at the upscale restaurant Le Cirque to help fundraise for his re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee. Attendees paid between $35,000 and $100,000 to attend the swanky dinner.
He managed to win the presidency without a huge campaign treasure. Why does he need to keep fundraising even from the beginning of his first term? To pay his legal bills for one thing.
The President also touched on health care and his communication with world leaders, CNN reported. Trump claimed that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau incorrectly told him that the U.S. has a $11 billion trade surplus with Canada and told a staffer to leave the room and check the numbers, according to CNN’s source in the room. Trump said the staffer returned to say that Trudeau was correct.

UPDATE  10/13:  The NFL will not issue a mandate for players to stand.

Irony Does Not Exist in Dolt 45's Head

Trump said the country should have been “handled 25 years ago, 20 years ago, 15 years ago, 10 years ago, five years ago and it could’ve been handled much more easily.”

“You had various administrations, many administrations which left me a mess. but I’ll fix the mess. So we’ll see what happens with North Korea,” he said.


Wow - NFL Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe Calls Out NFL Owners

He NEVER Backed a LOSER!

Dotard J deleted his tweets in support of Luther Strange!

He never backed a loser!  Except....

Too bad for Luther that Dotard J isn't as loyal in return.

He deleted his Strange supporting emails (there were several urging people in Alabama to vote for Strange) and replaced them with support for the winner: Roy Moore.

Mother Jones has the deleted tweets.  (He took credit for Strange's supposed rise in the polls, of course.):

UPDATE  10/1:

UPDATE 10/2:

Surprise!  It's not true.  He didn't actually go up ANY points.

Lost in the Blind Alleys of His Mind

Apprently, he just saw the news that Russians bought Facebook ads backing Trump.

"Collusion"?  Something else on your mind?

We Have the Vote! Except We Don't

If you have the vote, why not Friday?

I campaigned for Luther, but Roy won, so I'm with him!

November? December?  Whenever, Roy WIN!
The winding process of securing Trump’s trip to Huntsville, Ala., reveals the fragility of the bonds between the president and other leaders of his party, who are searching for ways to steer him into becoming their reliable standard-bearer in next year’s elections.

Are they nuts? Where have they been these past nine months?
White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, who has tried to control what information Trump receives about the Alabama race, was initially wary of the president appearing with a senator who might lose. He preferred Trump spend his time on policy initiatives such as tax reform rather than rousing crowds at political rallies. Likewise, Bill Stepien, the White House political director, urged caution and at first recommended that Trump stay out of the state, administration officials said.


Kelly, who came around to backing the rally, was also told by several senators that Republicans might be hesitant to fully back Trump’s agenda if they were uncertain about his support for them.
Well, that was a trick, wasn't it?
Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, said she impressed upon Trump how much power his visit could have in Alabama and reminded him that all five of the candidates he backed in special elections this year won.

“There’s nothing like the hum of Air Force One touching down so that the president can lend direct and personal support to a candidate he’s endorsed,” Conway said. “We’re already five for five in special elections this year."
They're not even reading their own supporters right. So did Himself read her the riot act after Strange lost?
For Trump, the decision to back Strange last month and to head there this week was as much about personal motivations as party pressure.
Let me fix that. "For Trump, the decision to back Strange last month and to head there this week was, like everything else, all about personal motivations."
The president likes that Strange “can fill a room, literally and figuratively,” one White House official said, and admiringly calls him “Big Luther.” Their phone calls sometimes stretch for more than an hour.
"Big" Luther, as opposed to "Little" Marco. Dotard J loves him some big men. And he likes them loyal.
Strange [...] told the president that “the Trump agenda is Alabama’s agenda” and has pledged his unconditional support, White House officials said. During this summer’s health-care debate, for instance, Strange was one of the few Republican senators to vow to back the GOP bill without seeking anything in exchange.

They already did, and it had nothing to do with your talk to Jerry Jones.  And before they did, they knelt in solidarity with black athletes against extrajudicial and unwarranted police killings.

So, why are you putting up the Jamaican flag?  Are we going to have to stand for that one now?


Politricks.  I like that.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Ask...And You Shall Receive

Speaking of using wounded and dead veterans for personal purposes, I hoped the guy whose photo Trump retweeted to chastise NFL players would object. He did.
Above the photograph of the heavily decorated double amputee was a caption asking what “this BRAVE American would give to stand on his OWN two legs just ONCE MORE for our #Anthem,” along with the hashtags “#MAGA” and “#NFL.”

That veteran, retired Marine Staff Sgt. John Jones, told TPM on Tuesday that he takes no issue with NFL players’ protests—but he’s not enthused about being dragged into the politics of whether someone should stand or not stand for the national anthem.


[T]he two-tour veteran of the Iraq War explained that while he would not personally choose to protest the anthem in that way, he disagreed with the idea that doing so was “not acceptable,” as Trump has insisted.


“I went over there and I fought for the rights and freedoms of everybody to do whatever they wanted to do in a lawful manner,” Jones said. “So if the NFL as a whole wants to protest the flag and protest America, then so be it, that’s your right.”

“Keep it peaceful, keep it respectful and I don’t care what you do,” he added.


Jones, who lost both legs in a landmine explosion while traveling in a Humvee convoy through Anbar province, said this is not the first time the image has been circulated on social media by people promoting their own political agendas.

He likened his experience to the use of the portrait of Pat Tillman, an NFL player and Army Ranger who was killed in Afghanistan in 2002.

Which Trump also used to promote his own agenda.
Trump retweeted Tillman’s photo to bash the NFL, prompting Tillman’s widow, Marie, to issue a statement urging “our leaders” not to “politicize” her husband’s service to advance their views (He appears to have since un-retweeted it).
Nope.  It's still there.

And it will ever be thus.  Every administration will use some dead soldier to provide cover for fuck-ups.  Right out of the gate, Trump used Ryan Owens.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

The Stress Must Be Getting to Him

“I wasn’t preoccupied with the NFL. I was ashamed of what was taking place, because to me that was a very important moment,” Trump told reporters during a joint press conference with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy at the White House.

Trump said the “NFL situation” is “very important” to him.

“I’ve heard that before, about, was I preoccupied? Not at all. I have plenty of time on my hands. All I do is work,” he said. “And to be honest with you, that’s an important function of working. It’s called respect for our country.”

He wasn't preoccupied. He has plenty of time on his hands. Somebody find this disgrace something to do.
Trump said he recently visited the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and saw “so many great young people and their missing legs and their missing arms and they’ve been so badly injured.”

“And they were fighting for our country,” he said. “They were fighting for our flag. They were fighting for our national anthem. And for people to disrespect that by kneeling during the playing of our national anthem I think is disgraceful.”
Recently?  (April 22 - his only visit.)  They weren't fighting for our flag or our national anthem. They were fighting for American hegemony. But at least they thought they were fighting for the right to freedom of expression and speech.  Don't be exploiting them for your own purposes.

He has plenty of time on his hands.

Can We Do Something Constructive Now?

Emerging from a closed-door lunch meeting, Republican senators told reporters that leadership had decided to call off a vote this week on a bill to repeal much of the Affordable Care Act and convert Medicaid into a shrinking block grant.

“I don’t believe there is going to be a vote,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said, declining to reveal how she would have voted on the controversial bill, but adding: “There’s still a lot of work to do on health care.”

Minutes later, the bill’s authors made the official announcement.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), flanked by Senate GOP leaders, promised the measure would pass eventually, but acknowledged it won’t happen by the Sept. 30 deadline.

Eventually? So they're STILL not giving up?
“With a process that gives more intention and time we will repeal Obamacare with a block grant.”

Graham’s co-author, a visibly downcast Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), then confirmed to reporters: “We don’t have the votes.”


“Let’s engage each other and find a bipartisan path forward,” he said.
Ya think?

Waiting for the nasty tweet from Dotard J.

..but hey, do what you will anyway.