Lazy Saturday Reads: “A Historic Tax Heist” — NYT Editorial Board

Good Morning!!

Republicans are celebrating their tax cut “victory” this morning, but the fight isn’t over yet. The bill still has to be reconciled with the House version and then voted on again by the House and Senate. I have to admit I’m pretty depressed about it, so this post will largely be a link dump.

The Week: The GOP’s massive tax overhaul is a monstrosity.

In a truly wild and dizzying Friday night and Saturday morning in Washington, Senate Republicans committed collective political suicide by passing a deeply detested tax bill they were still writingseemingly moments before they jammed it through on a party-line vote with no hearings and no meaningful input from a public that hasn’t even seen the text of the legislation.

As dawn broke Friday over the undrained swamp, it looked like the tax legislation was still in trouble, with Republican senators Bob Corker (Tenn.), Jeff Flake (Ariz.), and Susan Collins (Maine) all wavering. ­­­And as of Friday night, the text of this bill, which will restructure the entire American tax system and its economy, had not yet been released to the public, leaving Democratic senators and outside analysts guessing as to which radioactive provisions would be in it, which would be left out, and exactly where various tax levels would be set. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) tweeted a photo Friday evening of amendments that would be voted on shortly and that she had to obtain from lobbyists rather than her colleagues across the aisle. The absurdity was almost unspeakable.

As the day wound down, Senate holdouts, especially those who were lionized by the left as principled heroes during July’s failed ObamaCare vote, had fallen in line and said they would vote to slash taxes on corporations, trustafarians, and hedge fund managers while raising them on poor, working class, and middle class Americans. Together these titans of high-minded values said they were ok with their colleagues’ plan to peel a bunch of hundred dollar bills off of America’s dwindling wad of national cash and stuff them directly into the pockets of their billionaire bankrollers.

Tom Toles Editorial Cartoon

Regular order? On Wednesday, John McCain (R-Ariz.) announced he was fine sending this diabolical, 479-page Dybbuk through the Senate even though no one in the chamber had time to read it even once. Democratic pleas to at least postpone the vote until Monday so that our national leaders might actually skim the legislation were ignored. Protecting Medicaid for vulnerable Alaskans? When it came time to screw the poor, Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) was totally cool with it as long as she could trash the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge with oil drilling in return. Collins, who was wavering Thursday, voted for the bill in the end, all but giving the finger to the Mainers who gave her those airport standing ovations after she stopped TrumpCare. Flake got on board when the White House made some meaningless promise to him that he would be part of any “conversation” about a DACA resolution later this year. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) was the only final holdout.

At the end of the day, Republicans revealed that their entire caucus is bereft of dignity, shame, honor, and any commitment to a single thing any of them have ever said in public about how laws should be made in the United States.

Read it and weep.

Mother Jones: Senate Passes Sweeping Tax Bill That Overwhelmingly Benefits the Wealthiest Americans.

There were a smattering of last-minute changes tucked into the nearly 500-page bill, but the core of it is quite simple: a permanent tax cut for corporations combined with much smaller, and temporary, benefits for everyone else. Over the next decade, the $1.4 trillion tax cut would disproportionately reward the wealthiest Americans while piling on the national debt—which in turn will likely be used by Republicans as a justification for cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Before the individual cuts expire in 2026—ending the bill’s most charitable years—the top 1 percent would receive slightly more of the tax cut than the bottom 60 percent of Americans combined. Without the individual tax cut, the top 1 percent would get start getting 61 percent of the benefits. And at that point, the vast majority of middle-class taxpayers would receive essentially nothing, or end up paying higher taxes….

Republicans say they’ll eventually extend those individual cuts. But there is good reason to doubt that. The United States will be facing unprecedented debt levels when it comes time to renew the cuts. The annual deficit would be $1.4 trillion in 2025, up from about $700 billion today. The Senate bill asks Americans to trust that a future Congress, comprised of different members, will continue to ignore deficits.

Supposedly the bill includes a lot of completely nonsensical policy changes, including defining life as beginning at conception. We already know that the bill basically repeals Obamacare and throws 13 million people off health insurance. It also cuts Medicare, and the Republicans will use the inevitable budget deficits to push for cuts in Social Security and more cuts in Medicare and Medicaid.

The Washington Post: GOP eyes post-tax-cut changes to welfare, Medicare and Social Security.

High-ranking Republicans are hinting that, after their tax overhaul, the party intends to look at cutting spending on welfare, entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare, and other parts of the social safety net.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) said recently that he wants Republicans to focus in 2018 on reducing spending on government programs. Last month, President Trump said welfare reform will “take place right after taxes, very soon, very shortly after taxes.”

As Republicans advocate spending cuts, they have frequently cited a need to reduce the national deficit while growing the economy.

“You also have to bring spending under control. And not discretionary spending. That isn’t the driver of our debt. The driver of our debt is the structure of Social Security and Medicare for future beneficiaries,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said this week.While whipping votes for a GOP tax bill on Thursday, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) attacked “liberal programs” for the poor and said Congress needed to stop wasting Americans’ money.

“We’re spending ourselves into bankruptcy,” Hatch said. “Now, let’s just be honest about it: We’re in trouble. This country is in deep debt. You don’t help the poor by not solving the problems of debt, and you don’t help the poor by continually pushing more and more liberal programs through.”

Hatch and his buddies want to “help” the poor and elderly by letting them die in the streets. Or maybe they’d decide that the right to life ends at birth.

The latest CBO score was released just before the vote, and it predicts the same results as the previous one. The Hill reports: CBO: Senate tax bill increases deficit by $1.4 trillion.

The Senate GOP tax plan will increase the deficit by more than $1.4 trillion over a decade, according to a new analysis by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

The CBO score comes as senators are already voting on amendments to the legislation and are expected to pass the bill in the early morning hours of Saturday.

The legislation, according to CBO, would have the largest deficits between the 2019 fiscal year and the 2022 fiscal year.

The finding comes as GOP senators have largely ignored warnings that their tax plan would increase the deficit. Republicans argue that economic growth will more than make up for any increases to the national debt.

It could be a lot worse than that. What domestic or foreign students will be able to earn doctorates in the U.S. if they have to pay taxes on the tuition that Universities waive in return for grad student labor? Corporations will continue ship jobs overseas and channel their profits to their shareholders. This bill is likely to throw our economy into another tailspin. I’ll leave it up to Dakinikat to discuss that.

The Washington Post lists some of the disagreements between the House and Senate versions of the bill that will have to be resolved: Here are 7 differences Republicans must resolve between their tax bills. They include the ACA individual mandate, the estate tax, the expiration of individual tax cuts, the child tax credit, the mortgage interest deduction, the new tax brackets, and the timing of the corporate tax cuts. Of course it’s possible Ryan could decide to try to get the House to pass the Senate version as is. We’ll have to wait and see.

The New York Times Editorial Board: A Historic Tax Heist.

With barely a vote to spare early Saturday morning, the Senate passed a tax bill confirming that the Republican leaders’ primary goal is to enrich the country’s elite at the expense of everybody else, including future generations who will end up bearing the cost. The approval of this looting of the public purse by corporations and the wealthy makes it a near certainty that President Trump will sign this or a similar bill into law in the coming days.

The bill is expected to add more than $1.4 trillion to the federal deficit over the next decade, a debt that will be paid by the poor and middle class in future tax increases and spending cuts to Medicare, Social Security and other government programs. Its modest tax cuts for the middle class disappear after eight years. And up to 13 million people stand to lose their health insurance because the bill makes a big change to the Affordable Care Act.

Yet Republicans somehow found a way to give a giant and permanent tax cut to corporations like Apple, General Electric and Goldman Sachs, saving those businesses tens of billions of dollars.

Because the Senate was rewriting its bill till the last minute, only the dealmakers themselves knew what the chamber voted on. There will, no doubt, be many unpleasant surprises as both houses work to pass final legislation for President Trump to sign.

Read the rest at the link. I’m sure more details about the tax scam will come out over the weekend. Meanwhile, if you live in a red state, please let your Senators and Representatives know how enraged you are.

What else is happening? What stories are you following today?

Advertisements

Thursday Reads: America’s Ongoing Crisis Has Reached Emergency Levels

Good Morning!!

The media is finally waking up to the fact that the “president” of the U.S. is not just a pathological liar, not just a sociopath and a malignant narcissist–he is actually suffering from a serious thought disorder with delusions.

Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine: New Reports Suggest Trump Might Not Be a Liar at All, But Truly Delusional.

The Washington Post and New York Times have accounts from insiders suggesting Trump habitually insists upon the impossible in private. He does not merely tell lies in order to gull the public or to manipulate allies. He tells lies in private that he has no reason to tell. He still questions the authenticity of Barack Obama’s birthplace, despite the birth certificate. He insists voter fraud may have denied him a popular-vote triumph. He tells people Robert Mueller will wrap up his investigation, with a total vindication of the president, by the end of the year.

He questions whether the Access Hollywood tape, on which he was recorded boasting of sexual assault, is even him. (Both the Post and the Times report Trump repeatedly has denied the validity of the tape in private, “stunning his advisers,” as the Times puts it.)

It is of course entirely possible that Trump is lying to everybody, including his own staff. But the lies in these articles do not always fit into any pattern of rational self-aggrandizement. Trump tells senators or his aides the Access Hollywood tape is not him, but they don’t believe him. He has no reason to bring up the birther fabrication in private.

His apparent belief that Mueller will complete his sprawling investigation by the end of the year is not only pointless but self-defeating — rather than prepare allies for a long defense, he is preparing them for a fantastical scenario. (It is also further evidence that, when Mueller fails to vindicate him by the new year, Trump will lash out wildly, firing him, Jeff Sessions, or others.)

If Trump actually has the ability to convince himself of his own lies, it would suggest a possibility far more dangerous than even his critics have previously assumed. He might be in the grip of a mental-health issue, or at least one more serious than mere sociopathy. And the mutterings that he might need to be removed from office through the 25th Amendment could grow more serious than many of us have expected.

Gee, no kidding. It was obvious during the campaign that Trump was nuts, to use a technical term. Now people in the media are waking up to the reality of the situation when it may well be too late. BTW, a person can be a liar and delusional at the same time.

Philip Rucker and Ashley Parker at The Washington Post: Trump veers past guardrails, feeling impervious to the uproar he causes.

President Trump this week disseminated on social media three inflammatory and unverified ­anti-Muslim videos, took glee in the firing of a news anchor for sexual harassment allegations despite facing more than a dozen of his own accusers and used a ceremony honoring Navajo war heroes to malign a senator with a derogatory nickname, “Pocahontas.”

Again and again, Trump veered far past the guardrails of presidential behavior. But despite the now-routine condemnations, the president is acting emboldened, as if he were impervious to the uproar he causes.

If there are consequences for his actions, Trump does not seem to feel their burden personally. The Republican tax bill appears on track for passage, putting the president on the cusp of his first major legislative achievement. Trump himself remains the ­highest-profile man accused of sexual improprieties to keep his job with no repercussions.

Trump has internalized the belief that he can largely operate with impunity, people close to him said. His political base cheers him on. Fellow Republican leaders largely stand by him. His staff scrambles to explain away his misbehavior — or even to laugh it off. And the White House disciplinarian, chief of staff John F. Kelly, has said it is not his job to control the president.

Rucker and Parker quote from Trump’s speech in Missouri last night:

In Missouri, he was talking about taxes, but he might as well been describing his mind-set.

“Hey, look, I’m president,” Trump said. “I don’t care. I don’t care anymore.”

 

The Hill: Scarborough: Trump allies told me he has dementia.

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough said on Thursday that people close to President Trump told him during the campaign that Trump has “early stages of dementia.”

During MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Scarborough said Trump is “completely detached from reality.”

“You have somebody inside the White House that the New York Daily News says is mentally unfit,” Scarborough said.

“That people close to him say is mentally unfit, that people close to him during the campaign told me had early stages of dementia.”

Scarborough said the country is closer to war on the Korean Peninsula than most Americans know.

“We heard this months ago, that we are going to have a ground war in Korea, they believe that inside the White House for a very long time,” Scarborough said.

“If this is not what the 25th Amendment was drafted for,” he added, referring to the amendment that covers presidential succession and the response to a president with disabilities.

Hey Joe, why didn’t you say this during the campaign??

Last night during his speech in Missouri, Trump gave a clear demonstration of how jumbled his thought process is. Someone put the words “rocket fuel” on the teleprompter and he veered off into an attack on Kim Jong Un.

 

The Hill: ‘Art of the Deal’ co-author: Trump ‘losing his grip on reality.’

“But what it means in simple terms is he’s losing his grip on reality,” Schwartz told MSNBC’s “The Beat with Ari Melber” when asked about Trump’s reported suggestion that the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape may not be real.

“His reality testing is really poor and I believe that’s exactly what’s going on,” Schwartz added.

Schwartz described “a dramatic change” in Trump from when he co-authored the book with him to how the president speaks now.

“He is more limited in his vocabulary. He is further from as I say- this connection to what is factual and real. He is more impulsive. He is more reactive. This is a guy in deep trouble,” said Schwartz.

He also said that many employees at the White House are “hostages to a cult leader.”

“When you watch Sarah Huckabee Sanders right now, you really feel as if you’re watching somebody who is being brainwashed, or has been brainwashed,” Schwartz said, referencing the White House press secretary.

Mike Allen at Axios: The White House expects Trump to get even more outrageous.

What we’re hearing: Officials tell us Trump seems more self-assured, more prone to confidently indulging wild conspiracies and fantasies, more quick-triggered to fight than he was during the Wild West of the first 100 days in office.

   .  Imagine Trump if he signs a huge tax cut into law, which seems likely, amid soaring stocks and rising economic growth.
  .  Imagine if Roy Moore wins in Alabama, which seems likely, too. It surely won’t humble Trump — or hem him in.
  .  He’s like the Incredible Hulk, after the media and Mueller made him mad.

I could go on and on posting articles from members of the media who are finally waking up to reality, but is it too late?

Even Ezra Klein is writing about impeachment: The case for normalizing impeachment.

In recent months, I have grown obsessed with a seemingly simple question: Does the American political system have a remedy if we elect the wrong person to be president? There are clear answers if we elect a criminal, or if the president falls into a coma. But what if we just make a hiring mistake, as companies do all the time? What if we elect someone who proves himself or herself unfit for office — impulsive, conspiratorial, undisciplined, destructive, cruel?

Meanwhile, Congressional Republicans are in thrall to the cult of “tax cuts” that will remake the entire U.S. economy and way of life. Unfortunately John McCain just announced that he’s voting for tax scam. It looks like we’re completely screwed.

Marco Rubio, quoted at Financial Advisor: Rubio: Offset Tax Cuts By Reducing Social Security, Medicare Benefits.

Tax reform is only one piece of the overall puzzle needed to revitalize the American economy, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) told a group of Washington, D.C., lobbyists and policy analysts this morning at a Politico Playbook Interview sponsored by the Financial Services Roundtable. The other part? Reduce the deficit and offset the cost of the reform, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates at $1.3 trillion.

“I analyze this very differently than most,” Rubio told the crowd. “Many argue that you can’t cut taxes because it will drive up the deficit. But we have to do two things. We have to generate economic growth which generates revenue, while reducing spending. That will mean instituting structural changes to Social Security and Medicare for the future,” the senator said.

If lawmakers can act strategically sooner rather than later to come up with some combination of reforms to reduce benefits and raise retirement age, the pain of change and reduced benefits will be greatly mitigated, said the lawmaker who ran for president in 2016 and is once again sounding presidential.

Oh really?

“We don’t need to reduce benefits on current retirees or even near-term retirees, but we can make changes for future generations such as mine, and do so in a way that people can prepare for, so the changes will barely be felt,” Rubio said.

As much as 23 percent of Social Security benefits and 14 percent of Medicaid benefits could disappear by 2034 unless Congress acts, according to a the most recent report from trustees. Without a political fix, future retirees could experience a 23 percent reduction in benefits or a 20 percent increase in payroll taxes to fund the shortfalls, the trustee analysis found.

“Tax reform is the economic component of this equation,” said Rubio, who expressed doubts that there will be a government shutdown. “When more people are working, there are more taxpayers and more revenue, but that alone won’t be enough. You are still going to have a debt problem in the absence of spending cuts.”

The New York Times: It Started as a Tax Cut. Now It Could Change American Life.

The tax plan has been marketed by President Trump and Republican leaders as a straightforward if enormous rebate for the masses, a $1.5 trillion package of cuts to spur hiring and economic growth. But as the bill has been rushed through Congress with scant debate, its far broader ramifications have come into focus, revealing a catchall legislative creation that could reshape major areas of American life, from education to health care.

Some of this re-engineering is straight out of the traditional Republican playbook. Corporate taxes, along with those on wealthy Americans, would be slashed on the presumption that when people in penthouses get relief, the benefits flow down to basement tenements.

Some measures are barely connected to the realm of taxation, such as the lifting of a 1954 ban on political activism by churches and the conferring of a new legal right for fetuses in the House bill — both on the wish list of the evangelical right.

With a potentially far-reaching dimension, elements in both the House and Senate bills could constrain the ability of states and local governments to levy their own taxes, pressuring them to limit spending on health care, education, public transportation and social services. In their longstanding battle to shrink government, Republicans have found in the tax bill a vehicle to broaden the fight beyond Washington.

The result is a behemoth piece of legislation that could widen American economic inequality while diminishing the power of local communities to marshal relief for vulnerable people — especially in high-tax states like California and New York, which, not coincidentally, tend to vote Democratic.

Click on the link to read the rest.

They are doing this without any real analysis of what the disastrous effects will be. The New York Times again: Ahead of Vote, Promised Treasury Analysis of Tax Bill Proves Elusive.

In pitching the $1.5 trillion tax overhaul, Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, has said repeatedly that the plan will pay for itself through a surge of economic growth and that over 100 people in Treasury are “working around the clock on running scenarios for us.”

Mr. Mnuchin has promised that Treasury will release its analysis in full. Yet, just one day before the full Senate prepares to vote on a sweeping tax rewrite, the administration has yet to produce the type of economic analysis that it is citing as a reason to pass the tax cut.

Those inside Treasury’s Office of Tax Policy, which Mr. Mnuchin has credited with running the models, say they have been largely shut out of the process and are not working on the type of detailed analysis that he has mentioned. An economist at the Office of Tax Analysis, who spoke on the condition of anonymity so as not to jeopardize his job, said Treasury had not released a “dynamic” analysis showing that the tax plan would be paid for with economic growth because one did not exist.

Instead of conducting full analyses of tax proposals, staff members have been running numbers on individual provisions or policy ideas, like lowering the tax rate on so-called pass-through businesses and figuring out how many family farms would benefit from the repeal of the estate tax. Activity has picked up more recently as Treasury has sought to provide technical assistance to the Joint Committee on Taxation and the Congressional Budget Office for their estimates.

There is simply no analysis that could make this bill look like anything but a giant monstrosity designed to take money from the middle and working classes and had it over to a few rich people like Donald Trump and his pals.

Finally, from the NYT Editorial Board: The Senate Is Rushing to Pass Its Tax Bill Because It Stinks.

The Senate tax bill, a 515-page mammoth, was introduced just last week, and the chamber could vote on it as soon as Thursday. This is not how lawmakers are supposed to pass enormous pieces of legislation. It took several years to put together the last serious tax bill, passed in 1986. Congress and the Reagan administration worked across party lines, produced numerous drafts, held many hearings and struck countless compromises. This time it’s not about true reform but about speed and bowling over the opposition in hopes of claiming a partisan victory. The country ought to be dismayed by the way senators like Bob Corker, Susan Collins and Ron Johnson appear to be backing away from their principled objections based on half-measures promised by President Trump and the majority leader, Mitch McConnell, that will not address its big flaws.

This rush to the Senate floor has been orchestrated by Mr. McConnell, following the same playbook he used in the failed effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The longer people have to study the details, the less likely the bill is to pass. People should know by now about the big stuff: the giant permanent corporate tax-rate cut, the small and temporary tax cuts for the middle class, the repeal of the A.C.A.’s individual mandate and the $1.4 trillion added to the federal deficit over 10 years. But other provisions are not as well understood and deserve to be called ou

Please go read the whole thing.

I really worked myself into a frenzy today just reading these articles. I’m going to have to relax for awhile and take some deep breaths. What stories are you following today?


Lazy Saturday Reads: America Held Hostage by Madman

Two Sisters on the Terrace, 1881, Pierre Auguste Renoir

Good Afternoon!!

I’m starting to feel as if we normal Americans are being held hostage. Maybe that’s not the right word for our situation; I’m not sure what to call it, but something awful is happening to us. A minority of deplorable or just plain stupid people elected an ignorant, incompetent, narcissistic wanna-be tyrant to the presidency; and we are being forced to bear witness as he burns our democracy down. The people who could take action–the Republicans refuse to do anything to protect the country. All we can do is hope that Bob Mueller is able to make something happen–and that he does it in time to prevent World War III.

After what Trump did yesterday and the night before, I’m really struggling to write a post this morning. I’ve been feeling increasingly depressed. For months I’ve been waking up every morning fearful of what Trump may have done, and recently I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night and checking Twitter to see if anything horrible has happened. I know this isn’t normal or healthy, but what can I do? I can’t zone out and pretend nothing is happening. Besides, I know I’m not alone. I’ve seen a number of people here and on Twitter who say they are going through the same anxiety. What can we do about the madman in the White House?

Late Thursday night, Trump announced that he will end subsidies that help lower income people purchase health insurance in the ACA exchanges, a move that threatens 1/6th of the U.S. economy. Then yesterday he announced that he will refuse to certify that Iran is in compliance with the nuclear deal we agreed to with numerous other countries under Obama. Dakinikat covered both of these stories in her Friday post, so I won’t go into any more detail about these nightmarish “presidential” decisions.

Now what? The consequences of both of these destructive actions by Trump could be extremely serious, and we’re still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, as well as the wildfires in California. Will this administration be able (or willing) to handle these Trump-made and natural catastrophes? I fear the answer is no.

Maybe I’m overreacting. If so, I hope someone here can talk me off the ledge.

Meanwhile Trump is very pleased with himself.

When is the last time a POTUS celebrated tanking stocks? Has that ever happened before?

Young girl reading, Renoir

Buzzfeed reports on the Democratic response to the cancellation of the subsidies: Democrats Are Launching A Legal Fight To Save Obamacare’s Subsidy Payments.

A coalition of 19 attorneys general — representing 18 states and the District of Columbia — filed a lawsuit in the US District Court for the Northern District of California that accuses the Trump administration of violating the sections of the Affordable Care Act that require the subsidies, as well as other federal law.

“It’s well past time that President Trump learns that he doesn’t just get to pick and choose which laws he’ll follow or which bills he’ll pay,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said on a call with reporters. “Just because he’s in the White House doesn’t mean he can make those decisions.” ….

A coalition of 19 attorneys general — representing 18 states and the District of Columbia — filed a lawsuit in the US District Court for the Northern District of California that accuses the Trump administration of violating the sections of the Affordable Care Act that require the subsidies, as well as other federal law.

“It’s well past time that President Trump learns that he doesn’t just get to pick and choose which laws he’ll follow or which bills he’ll pay,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said on a call with reporters. “Just because he’s in the White House doesn’t mean he can make those decisions.

”The lawsuit was filed by attorneys general from California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

Other stories to check out

Newsweek: Trump Just Made War With Iran and North Korea More Likely Than Ever, Retired Army General Says.

The U.S. and Iran have both taken defensive measures to prepare for a potential conflict following President Donald Trump’s controversial decision Friday to not certify a landmark nuclear treaty between both countries and four other leading powers….

In response to Trump’s decision to add the IRGC to the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations, Iranian lawmaker Alireza Rahimi, a member of the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, told the Iranian Students’ News Agency that Iran would put the U.S. military on its “list of groups that undermine international security and stability.” The IRGC is an official branch of Iran’s armed forces but also maintains external operations and operates under direct orders from an appointee of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Renoir, Two girls reading

“Given that the army and [other] armed forces of a country are guarantors of its security, the [possible] move [by the U.S. to designate IRGC forces as terrorists] is tantamount to a declaration of war,” Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran’s atomic agency, told British analysts and media figures Thursday during a meeting in London, according to the semiofficial Tasnim News Agency….

Retired Army Major General Paul Eaton, who played a key role in rebuilding and training the Iraqi military in the wake of the 2003 U.S. invasion, on Friday warned that Trump’s decision may not only bring about a new crisis in the Middle East, but further escalate an already tense nuclear standoff with North Korea and further complicate the U.S.’s 16-year military campaign in Afghanistan. He appealed to Congress to not destroy the deal by adding more sanctions during the 60-day window lawmakers now have to take action.

“Donald Trump has moved us closer to a war with Iran, while he has also moved us closer to a nuclear war with North Korea. All while we’re in a war in Afghanistan,” Eaton said in a statement.

Those are the highlights; you might want to read the whole story.

The Boston Globe has an explainer story on Trump’s health care moves: Key questions and answers about Trump’s health care move.

President Donald Trump’s move to stop paying a major “Obamacare” subsidy will raise costs for many consumers who buy their own health insurance, and make an already complicated system more challenging for just about everybody.

Experts say the consequences will vary depending on how much money you earn, the state you live in, and other factors.

Overall, Trump’s decision will make coverage under the Affordable Care Act less secure, because more insurers may head for the exits as their financial losses mount.

I can’t really excerpt this very well, but the story isn’t long and has some helpful information. Basically, poor, working class, and middle class Americans will all be negatively affected.

This piece by ex-Republican conservative George Will is worth reading. It’s directed at the white supremacists like Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller who have Trump’s ear, but I was most interested in what Will had to say about two Republicans who have enabled Trump in his destructive behavior, Mike Pence and Bob Corker:

Renoir, Woman reading

With eyes wide open, Mike Pence eagerly auditioned for the role as Donald Trump’s poodle. Now comfortably leashed, he deserves the degradations that he seems too sycophantic to recognize as such. He did Trump’s adolescent bidding with last Sunday’s preplanned virtue pageant of scripted indignation — his flight from the predictable sight of players kneeling during the national anthem at a football game. No unblinkered observer can still cling to the hope that Pence has the inclination, never mind the capacity, to restrain, never mind educate, the man who elevated him to his current glory. Pence is a reminder that no one can have sustained transactions with Trump without becoming too soiled for subsequent scrubbing.

A man who interviewed for the position Pence captured, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), is making amends for saying supportive things about Trump. In 2016, for example, he said he was “repulsed” by people trying to transform the Republican National Convention from a merely ratifying body into a deliberative body for the purpose of preventing what has come to pass. Until recently, Corker, an admirable man and talented legislator, has been, like many other people, prevented by his normality from fathoming Trump’s abnormality. Now Corker says what could have been said two years ago about Trump’s unfitness.

The axiom that “Hell is truth seen too late” is mistaken; damnation deservedly comes to those who tardily speak truth that has long been patent. Perhaps there shall be a bedraggled parade of repentant Republicans resembling those supine American communists who, after Stalin imposed totalitarianism, spawned the gulag, engineered the Ukraine famine, launched the Great Terror and orchestrated the show trials, were theatrically disillusioned by his collaboration with Hitler: You, sir, have gone too far.

Wow. Read the rest at the WaPo.

More fallout from Trump’s disastrous policies at Newsweek: After Trump Travel Ban, Chad Pulls Troops from Boko Haram fight in Niger.

President Donald Trump’s decision to place Chad on his revised travel ban shocked experts and former U.S. officials who warned it could have major consequences for the fight against terrorism in Africa.

And it appears Trump’s controversial decision may have already damaged alliances on the continent—which is threatened by a range of militants, including affiliates of Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State militant group.

Chad has pulled hundreds of troops from neighboring Niger, where they had been stationed to assist in a regional fight against Boko Haram, the Nigerian militant Islamist group, Reuters reported.

I’m going to end with an odd Trump story from Vanity Fair: Donald Trump’s Face Renoir: The Untold Story.

A girl reading, 1891, Renoir

Years ago, while reporting a book about a real-estate developer and reality-TV star named Donald Trump,Tim O’Brienaccompanied his subject on a private jet ride to Los Angeles. The plane, as you can imagine, was overly ornate; hanging on one wall, for instance, was a painting of two young girls—one in an orange hat, the other wearing a floral bonnet—in the impressionistic style of Renoir.

Curious, O’Brien asked Trump about the painting: was it an original Renoir? Trump replied in the affirmative. It was, he said. “No, it’s not Donald,” O’Brien responded. But, once again, Trump protested that it was.

“Donald, it’s not,” O’Brien said adamantly. “I grew up in Chicago, that Renoir is called Two Sisters on the Terrace, and it’s hanging on a wall at the Art Institute of Chicago.” He concluded emphatically: “That’s not an original.”

Trump, of course, did not agree, but O’Brien dropped the conversation topic and moved on with his interview. He thought that he had heard the last of the Renoir conversation. But the next day, when they boarded the plane to head back to New York City, Trump again pointed to the painting, and as if the conversation had never happened, he pointed to the fake and proclaimed, “You know, that’s an original Renoir.” O’Brien, chose not to engage, and dropped the conversation….

Then, in 2016, the unimaginable happened: Trump was elected president of the United States. A few days afterward, Trump sat down with 60 Minutes for one of his first interviews as president-elect. O’Brien was watching the interview, which took place in Trump Tower. It was highly choreographed, with cameras set up precisely where Trump wanted them. O’Brien watched Trump seated in an ugly mini-throne—“the kind of furniture Trump loves,” O’Brien notes—and sure enough, in the background, hanging on the a wall, was that fake Renoir.

It’s not just dementia; Trump has always been insane. I’ve illustrated the post with Renoir paintings in honor of his lunacy.

What stories are you following today?

 


Friday Reads: Animal Farm

It’s difficult not to think about what the current state of affairs means in terms of the celebration of Independence Day as we head into Fourth of July Festivities.  Our country was born of the Age of Reason.  Thomas Jefferson–who wrote the document proclaiming US Independence–was an amateur scientist and philosopher.  He might be considered the ideal Renaissance man if he had also found a way to support his causes and lifestyle with employees instead of slaves.

There’s always been this dark side to the American Dream and there have been many people throughout history who have fought those inclinations. It’s been a slow climb from the idea that we all are created equal to getting to a society that actually lives that value. The climb continues.

Why is it so difficult to treat one another with the respect and dignity we each deserve?

The Republican leadership and Administration is based on the most vulgar, salacious, and base motivations we’ve witnessed since Andrew Jackson was committing mass genocide on human beings he considered “savages” and since a group of people considered the nation’s black Americans to be not wholly human.  They deemed all folks with African descent to be precisely 3/5ths human.  All of this was done in the name of the same religion that tortures our better angels today.

The cognitive dissonance is simply mind boggling.  Today, Ahvaz Iran has reached an almost unheard of temperature of 129.  It’s one of the hottest temperatures ever recorded on the planet. 

Another weather source, the Weather Underground, said Ahvaz hit 129.2 degrees Thursday afternoon. The heat index, which also takes humidity into account, hit an incredible 142 degrees.

Fortunately, the weather forecast for Ahvaz on Friday is for “cooler” weather, with a high of only 119 degrees, according to AccuWeather.

The official all-time world record temperature remains the 134-degree temperature measured at Death Valley, Calif, on July 10, 1913. However, some experts say that temperature isn’t reliable. Weather Underground weather historian Christopher Burt said in 2016 that such an extreme temperature was “not possible from a meteorological perspective.”

Scorching heat is one of the most expected outcomes of man-made climate change, according to a 2016 report from the National Academy of Sciences and a 2015 study in Nature Climate Change.

The prestigious magazine  Science published a study estimating the economic cost of climate change to the US economy.  It’s not pretty.  You can read the fully study at the link.  This is its Abstract.

Estimates of climate change damage are central to the design of climate policies. Here, we develop a flexible architecture for computing damages that integrates climate science, econometric analyses, and process models. We use this approach to construct spatially explicit, probabilistic, and empirically derived estimates of economic damage in the United States from climate change. The combined value of market and nonmarket damage across analyzed sectors—agriculture, crime, coastal storms, energy, human mortality, and labor—increases quadratically in global mean temperature, costing roughly 1.2% of gross domestic product per +1°C on average. Importantly, risk is distributed unequally across locations, generating a large transfer of value northward and westward that increases economic inequality. By the late 21st century, the poorest third of counties are projected to experience damages between 2 and 20% of county income (90% chance) under business-as-usual emissions (Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5).

Meanwhile, the man responsible for the EPA–professional whackadoodle Scott Pruitt–launches  program to ‘critique’ climate science.

“We are in fact very excited about this initiative,” the official added. “Climate science, like other fields of science, is constantly changing. A new, fresh and transparent evaluation is something everyone should support doing.”

The disclosure follows the administration’s suggestions over several days that it supports reviewing climate science outside the normal peer-review process used by scientists. This is the first time agency officials acknowledged that Pruitt has begun that process. The source said Energy Secretary Rick Perry also favors the review.

Executives in the coal industry interpret the move as a step toward challenging the endangerment finding, the agency’s legal foundation for regulating greenhouse gases from cars, power plants and other sources. Robert Murray, CEO of Murray Energy Corp., said Pruitt assured him yesterday that he plans to begin reviewing the endangerment finding within months.

“We talked about that, and they’re going to start addressing it later this year,” Murray said in an interview. “They’re going to start getting a lot of scientific people in to give both sides of the issue.”

But another person attending the meeting said Pruitt resisted committing to a full-scale challenge of the 2009 finding. The administration source also said Pruitt “did not promise to try to rescind the endangerment finding.”

Climate scientists express concern that the “red team, blue team” concept could politicize scientific research and disproportionately elevate the views of a relatively small number of experts who disagree with mainstream scientists (Climatewire, June 29).

Pruitt told about 30 people attending a board meeting of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity yesterday morning that he’s establishing a “specific process” to review climate science, the administration official said. Murray and two other people in the room interpreted Pruitt as saying he would challenge the endangerment finding.

Challenging the endangerment finding would be enormously difficult, according to many lawyers. The finding is built on an array of scientific material establishing that human health and welfare is endangered by a handful of greenhouse gases emitted by industry, power plants and cars. It stems from a Supreme Court ruling in 2007.

If Pruitt somehow succeeded in rolling back the finding — an outcome that many Republicans say is far-fetched — the federal government would no longer be required to restrict greenhouse gas emissions.

Other evidence that there is no sign of intelligent life in the majority of Republicans are  these doozies:

Trump Administration Appoints Anti-Transgender Activist To Gender Equality Post

“To put it simply, a boy claiming gender confusion must now be allowed in the same shower, bathroom, or locker room with my daughter,” wrote the new senior adviser for women’s empowerment at USAID.

Oh, and this one.

White House council for women and girls goes dark under Trump

The administration is evaluating whether to keep the office, created under President Barack Obama to focus on gender equality

I agree with Ezra Klein on this: “It turns out the liberal caricature of conservatism is correct. It’s depressing. But it’s true.”  These people are motivated by greed and feeding a group of religious zealots who think Eve is the root of all evil and any one not pristine white carries the stain of sin.

Marc Thiessen, the George W. Bush speechwriter who now writes a column for the Washington Post op-ed page, is aghast at the Senate GOP’s health care bill. “Paying for a massive tax cut for the wealthy with cuts to health care for the most vulnerable Americans is morally reprehensible,” he says.

“If Republicans want to confirm every liberal caricature of conservatism in a single piece of legislation, they could do no better than vote on the GOP bill in its current form.”

But at what point do we admit that this isn’t the liberal caricature of conservatism? It’s just … conservatism.

Though Republicans had long promised the country a repeal-and-replace plan that offered better coverage at lower cost, the House GOP’s health care bill cut hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes for the rich and paid for it by gutting health care spending on the poor. It was widely criticized and polled terribly.

Senate Republicans responded by releasing a revised health care bill that also cut hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes for the rich and paid for it by gutting health care spending on the poor. It has also been widely criticized, and it also is polling terribly.

Donald Trump, who ran on a platform of covering everyone with better health insurance than they get now, has endorsed both bills.

Republicans, in other words, have repeatedly broken their promises and defied public opinion in order to release health care bills that cut spending on the poorest Americans to fund massive tax cuts for the richest Americans. (The Tax Policy Center estimates that 44.6 percent of the Senate bill’s tax cuts go to households making more than $875,000.)

Fundamentalism of all sorts has always been the basis of the evil done by this country.  Republicans are feeding it.

How do you make climate change personal to someone who believes only God can alter the weather? How do you make racial equality personal to someone who believes whites are naturally superior to non-whites? How do you make gender equality personal to someone who believes women are supposed to be subservient to men by God’s command? How do you get someone to view minorities as not threatening personal to people who don’t live around and never interact with them? How do you make personal the fact massive tax cuts and cutting back government hurts their economic situation when they’ve voted for these for decades? I don’t think you can without some catastrophic events. And maybe not even then. The Civil War was pretty damn catastrophic yet a large swath of the South believed and still believes they were right, had the moral high ground. They were/are also mostly Christian fundamentalists who believe they are superior because of the color of their skin and the religion they profess to follow. There is a pattern here for anyone willing to connect the dots.

“Rural, white America needs to be better understood,” is not one of the dots. “Rural, white America needs to be better understood,” is a dodge, meant to avoid the real problems because talking about the real problems is viewed as “too upsetting,” “too mean,” “too arrogant,” “too elite,” “too snobbish.” Pointing out Aunt Bee’s views of Mexicans, blacks, gays…is bigoted isn’t the thing one does in polite society. Too bad more people don’t think the same about the views Aunt Bee has. It’s the classic, “You’re a racist for calling me a racist,” ploy. Or, as it is more commonly known, “I know you are but what am I?”

I do think rational arguments are needed, even if they go mostly ignored and ridiculed. I believe in treating people with the respect they’ve earned but the key point here is “earned.” I’ll gladly sit down with Aunt Bee and have a nice, polite conversation about her beliefs about “the gays,” “the blacks,” “illegals,”…and do so without calling her a bigot or a racist. But, this doesn’t mean she isn’t a bigot and a racist and if I’m asked to describe her beliefs these are the only words that honestly fit. No one with cancer wants to be told they have cancer, but just because no one uses the word, “cancer,” it doesn’t mean they don’t have it. Just because the media, pundits on all sides, some Democratic leaders don’t want to call the actions of many rural, Christian, white Americans, “racist/bigoted” doesn’t make them not so.

Paul Krugman is more succinct.  He calls it Republican ‘cruelty’. It is exactly that.

The puzzle — and it is a puzzle, even for those who have long since concluded that something is terribly wrong with the modern G.O.P. — is why the party is pushing this harsh, morally indefensible agenda.

Think about it. Losing health coverage is a nightmare, especially if you’re older, have health problems and/or lack the financial resources to cope if illness strikes. And since Americans with those characteristics are precisely the people this legislation effectively targets, tens of millions would soon find themselves living this nightmare.

Meanwhile, taxes that fall mainly on a tiny, wealthy minority would be reduced or eliminated. These cuts would be big in dollar terms, but because the rich are already so rich, the savings would make very little difference to their lives.

More than 40 percent of the Senate bill’s tax cuts would go to people with annual incomes over $1 million — but even these lucky few would see their after-tax income rise only by a barely noticeable 2 percent.

So it’s vast suffering — including, according to the best estimates, around 200,000 preventable deaths — imposed on many of our fellow citizens in order to give a handful of wealthy people what amounts to some extra pocket change. And the public hates the idea: Polling shows overwhelming popular opposition, even though many voters don’t realize just how cruel the bill really is. For example, only a minority of voters are aware of the plan to make savage cuts to Medicaid.

In fact, my guess is that the bill has low approval even among those who would get a significant tax cut. Warren Buffett has denounced the Senate bill as the “Relief for the Rich Act,” and he’s surely not the only billionaire who feels that way.

Which brings me back to my question: Why would anyone want to do this?

Because they can and because they love power and money.  Their mega-rich donors will shower them in both.

I think we can forever ask ourselves the big question of why do these uneducated white people continually fall for it?  The answer is that their life basically sucks and they’re doing what ever they can to feel better about it. Religion and Republicans give them a feeling of superiority based on the only thing they have: the identity birth gave them.  Every one is paying an awful price for that.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today? Tuesday is Independence Day if we can keep it.


Thursday Reads: Just do it already!


I don’t know about y’all…but I’m tired of this shit!

If you say you are going to do it…do it!

And then there is this…

And for the final Tweet link of the day…

 

Now since y’all got stuck with me again today…yeah, if you didn’t notice, I’m covering for Boston Boomer today. (I’ve tried to get this post written for the last six hours, but my motivation is seriously lacking.)

Taking the easy way out, here are some cartoons that we can enjoy today. A left over from yesterday.

 

This is an open thread….


Friday Reads: Madly Truly Deeply Deplorable

161006121216-01-hurricane-matthew-haiti-1006-large-169Good Morning Sky Dancers!

I found a series of reads this week on what makes Donald Trump supporters tick. It’s an interesting combination of things that dives into the deplorables. The primary focus of these studies are white, uneducated working class men along with a few women because the main demographics of Trump Voters are old, white, and not well-educated. There’s even one article with some tie in with similar right wing white angst movements in place like the UK and Scandinavia where white right wingers are getting increasingly xenophobic and sounding a lot more like their authoritarian counterparts from the 1930s.  I thought I’d highlight a few of these pieces today.

Don’t think these articles and writers heap wicked judgement. Many of these reads are conciliatory and sympathetic. Like us, they are just trying to get it figured out. The pictures today are of damage done by the still threatening Hurricane Matthew when it caused death and destruction in Haiti. Tumult rules our current time line.

Project Syndicate has two interesting pieces up.  The first is by Dr. Ian Buruma and is called “Trump’s Deplorables.”

The Trump supporters are showing a similar animus against symbols of the elite, such as Wall Street bankers, “mainstream” media, and Washington insiders. But their xenophobia is directed against poor Mexican immigrants, blacks, or Middle Eastern refugees, who are perceived as freeloaders depriving honest (read white) Americans of their rightful place in the social pecking order. It is a question of relatively underprivileged people in a globalizing, increasingly multi-cultural world, resenting those who are even less privileged.

In the US today, as in the Weimar Republic, the resentful and the fearful have so little trust in prevailing political and economic institutions that they follow a leader who promises maximum disruption. By cleaning out the stables, it is hoped, greatness will return. In Hitler’s Germany, this hope existed among all classes, whether elite or plebeian. In Trump’s America, it thrives mostly among the latter.

In the US and Europe, today’s world looks less scary to more affluent and better educated voters, who benefit from open borders, cheap migrant labor, information technology, and a rich mixture of cultural influences. Likewise, immigrants and ethnic minorities who seek to improve their lot have no interest in joining a populist rebellion directed mainly against them, which is why they will vote for Clinton.

Trump must thus rely on disaffected white Americans who feel that they are being left behind. The fact that enough people feel that way to sustain such an unsuitable presidential candidate is an indictment of US society. This does have something to do with education – not because well-educated people are immune to demagogy, but because a broken education system leaves too many people at a disadvantage.

1475727537346The second must-read is by Professor Joseph Nye who puts the populist revolt into perspective and into its “place”.

In the US, polls show that Trump’s supporters are skewed toward older, less-educated white males. Young people, women, and minorities are under-represented in his coalition. More than 40% of the electorate backs Trump, but with low unemployment nationally, only a small part of that can be explained primarily by his support in economically depressed areas.

On the contrary, in America, too, there is more to the resurgence of populism than just economics. AYouGov poll commissioned by The Economist found strong racial resentment among supporters of Trump, whose use of the “birther” issue (questioning the validity of the birth certificate of Barack Obama, America’s first black president) helped put him on the path to his current campaign. And opposition to immigration, including the idea of building a wall and making Mexico pay for it, was an early plank in his nativist platform.

And yet a recent Pew survey shows growing pro-immigrant sentiment in the US, with 51% of adults saying that newcomers strengthen the country, while 41% believe they are a burden, down from 50% in mid-2010, when the effects of the Great Recession were still acutely felt. In Europe, by contrast, sudden large influxes of political and economic refugees from the Middle East and Africa have had stronger political effects, with many experts speculating that Brexit was more about migration to Britain than about bureaucracy in Brussels.

Antipathy toward elites can be caused by both economic and cultural resentments. The New York Times identified a major indicator of Trump-leaning districts: a white-majority working-class population whose livelihoods had been negatively affected throughout the decades in which the US economy shed manufacturing capacity. But even if there had been no economic globalization, cultural and demographic change would have created some degree of populism.

But it is an overstatement to say that the 2016 election highlights an isolationist trend that will end the era of globalization. Instead, policy elites who support globalization and an open economy will have to be seen to be addressing economic inequality and adjustment assistance for those disrupted by change. Policies that stimulate growth, such as infrastructure investment, will also be important.

Writers for the Canadian Newspaper The Globe and Mail believe that Trump will lose but that his coalition of voter will continue to vex U.S. “elites”.05571399

The accommodation between left and right started unravelling in the 1980s. The Bork confirmation. The Thomas confirmation. Contract with America. Impeaching Bill Clinton. Iraq. Obama. The Tea Party. Gay marriage. And now the Democrats want to replace a black president with a woman? A CLINTON?

Meanwhile, Peoria is hurting. The city is home to Caterpillar. But the heavy-equipment giant has outsourced most of its work force overseas or to so-called right-to-work states.

But what does Washington care? The left worries more about combatting global warming than about blue-collar workers with bad backs and no jobs. The right promises to retrain them, but somehow never gets around to it.

The laid-off boys in the bars of Peoria blame the illegals, the only ones even more voiceless than themselves. They seethe at the Wall Street suits who destroyed the economy and got off scot-free. And what the hell is transgender, anyway? They look at their daughter’s report card. She’s only getting Cs. What future is there for anyone who’s only getting Cs?

I will be your voice, Donald Trump promises. I will get your job back, or at least wreak revenge on the company that gave it away to a guy in Bangladesh. I will send the Mexicans back and keep the Muslims out and build a wall around our country. And you’ll have a man, a real man, a white man, your kind of guy, in the White House. We’ll be back in charge, folks, you and me. It’ll be great again. And they’ll never take it away from us.

There are probably enough people left who understand that this is a lie to keep Donald Trump from becoming president. But this is last-chance time. And not just for America, for all of us.

The rage that created Donald Trump voted for Brexit and is wreaking havoc on the continent. It’s Marine Le Pen in France and Norbert Hofer in Austria. It’s the Law and Justice party in Poland and Jobbik in Hungary and Alternative for Germany.

Don’t be smug. In politics, Canada is often the United States, only five years behind. We must heal this breach. It’s getting serious, now. The next Congress and the next U.S. administration must reach out to each other. They don’t have to get all kumbaya about it, but Americans of all persuasions can surely find ways to bring hope to Middle America, to working white America, to the old America that must never be dismissed, even if it is on the wane.

There were several articles that actually focused on individual Trump voters and the kinds of lives they lead.  We’ve posted some of them down thread but I thought I’d excerpt and repost them 172702here since we really need to read about these folk and understand that they hate  us. Sociologist ARLIE RUSSELL HOCHSCHILD wrote an incredible long form peace for Mother Jones. What struck me about the woman Sharon she followed as she lived life in Lake Charles, Lousiana is that Sharon doesn’t seem to realize she’s a parasite.  She makes living basically selling scammy insurance products to poor working class men that really can’t afford them and in a different state with better worker protections, wouldn’t even be necessary.  Yet, these folks do not seem to think about blaming the real causes of their life’s distress

“Hey Miss Sharon, how ya’ doin’?” A fiftysomething man I’ll call Albert led us through the warehouse, where sheet metal had been laid out on large tables. “Want to come over Saturday, help us make sausage?” he called over the eeeeech of an unseen electrical saw. “I’m seasoning it different this year.” The year before, Sharon had taken her 11-year-old daughter along to help stuff the spicy smoked-pork-and-rice sausage, to which Albert added ground deer meat. “I’ll bring Alyson,” Sharon said, referring to her daughter. Some days they’d have 400 pounds of deer meat and offer her some. “They’re really good to me. And I’m there for them too when they need something.”

These men had little shelter from bad news. “If you die, who’s going to bury you?” Sharon would ask on such calls. “Do you have $10,000 sitting around? Will your parents have to borrow money to bury you or your wife or girlfriend? For $1.44 a week, you get $20,000 of life insurance.”

Louisiana is the country’s third-poorest state; 1 in 5 residents live in poverty. It ranks third in the proportion of residents who go hungry each year, and dead last in overall health. A quarter of the state’s students drop out from high school or don’t graduate on time. Partly as a result, Louisiana leads the nation in its proportion of “disconnected youth“—20 percent of 16- to 24-year-olds in 2013 were neither in school nor at work. (Nationally, the figure is 14 percent.) Only 6 percent of Louisiana workers are members of labor unions, about half the rate nationwide.

Louisiana is also home to vast pollution, especially along Cancer Alley, the 85-mile strip along the lower Mississippi between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, with some 150 industrial plants where once there were sugar and cotton plantations. According to the American Cancer Society, Louisiana had the nation’s second-highest incidence of cancer for men and the fifth-highest rate of male deaths from cancer. “When I make a presentation, if I say, ‘How many of you know someone that has had cancer?’ every hand is going to go up. Just the other day I was in Lafayette doing my enrollments for the insurance, and I was talking to this one guy. And he said, ‘My brother-in-law just died. He was 29 or 30.’ He’s the third person working for his company that’s been in their early 30s that’s died of cancer in the last three years. I file tons and tons of cancer claims.”

Sharon also faced economic uncertainty. A divorced mother of two, she supported herself and two children on an ample but erratic income, all from commission on her Aflac sales. “If you’re starting out, you might get 99 ‘noes’ for every one ‘yes.’ After 16 years on the job, I get 50 percent ‘yeses.'” This put her at the top among Aflac salespeople; still, she added, “If it’s a slow month, we eat peanut butter.”

694940094001_5159318623001_100616-hn-haiti-1280There’s an interview with the author up at Democracy Now! that looks into what drive Trump supporters.  Hers is just one book trying to figure out what’s going on with this segment of America.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, after all of those interviews in that time span, you decided on the title Strangers in Their Own Land. Why?

ARLIE RUSSELL HOCHSCHILD: Yes. Well, here’s the thing. I decided on that title because, in the end, it described how a lot of them felt. I talk about a deep story, because, at the end of the day, I keep asking, “Why do you hate the government, you know, all the things the government does?” And they would say—there were many answers to that, but one was this. It was the deep story. What is a deep story? It’s a story that feels true to you. You take the facts out, you take judgment out. It’s as felt.

You’re on a—waiting in line for something you really want at the end: the American dream. You feel a sense of great deserving. You’ve worked very hard. A lot of these guys were plant workers, pipefitters in the petrochemical—you know, it’s tough work. So you’ve worked really hard. And the line isn’t moving. It’s like a pilgrimage up, up to the top. It’s not moving.

Then you see some people cut in line. Well, who were they? They are affirmative action women who would go for formerly all-men’s jobs, or affirmative action blacks who have been sponsored and now have access to formerly all-white jobs. It’s immigrants. It’s refugees. And from—as felt, the line’s moving back.

Then they see Barack Hussein Obama, who should impartially be monitoring the line, wave to the line cutters. And then you think, “Oh, he’s their president and not mine. And, in fact, he’s a line cutter. How did he get to Harvard? How did he get to Columbia? Where did he get the money? His mom was a single mom. Wait a minute.”

And then they begin to feel like strangers in their own land. They feel like the government has become a giant marginalization machine. It’s not theirs. In fact, it’s putting them back. And then someone in front of the line turns around and says, “Oh, you redneck,” you know. And that feels insult to injury. It’s just the tipping point at which they feel not only estranged—I mean, demographically they’re getting smaller. They feel like they’re religious in an increasingly secular culture. Their attitudes are denigrated, and so they’re culturally denigrated. And then the economy begins to shake. And then they feel, “I need another leader.”

TOPSHOT - A woman walks on October 5, 2016 along a coastal road between Guantanamo and Baracoa which was left covered in rocks and severely damaged after the passage of Hurricane Matthew through the eastern tip of Cuba on Tuesday afternoon. Hurricane Matthew, the Caribbean's worst storm in nearly a decade, barreled towards the Bahamas Wednesday morning after killing nine people and pummeling Haiti and Cuba. / AFP / Yamil LAGE        (Photo credit should read YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)

TOPSHOT – A woman walks on October 5, 2016 along a coastal road between Guantanamo and Baracoa which was left covered in rocks and severely damaged after the passage of Hurricane Matthew through the eastern tip of Cuba on Tuesday afternoon.
Hurricane Matthew, the Caribbean’s worst storm in nearly a decade, barreled towards the Bahamas Wednesday morning after killing nine people and pummeling Haiti and Cuba. / AFP / Yamil LAGE (Photo credit should read YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)

Two other articles that are worth reading, if you haven’t done so yet, are one from The Guardian which takes a more global perspective and one that’s very specific from WAPO.  The WAPO features a woman who finds that Trump thinks like her. We’ve discussed it a little here this week.  It seems like a very close look at some one grappling with mental illness which made me uncomfortable. I’m excerpting here from The Guardian piece which focuses on the link between education and Trump/Right Alt voting.

But it is not simply a question of demographics. The gap has been amplified by certain forms of social mobility, which have reinforced the education divide by enabling the better-educated to start congregating together: socially, geographically, romantically. In a previous generation, graduates often married non-graduates, because their choices tended to be driven by where they happened to live or work. As the cliché has it: bosses used to marry their secretaries. Not any more, and not just because there are fewer secretaries. If you went to university, ask yourself: how many of your friends didn’t go to university? And among your friends, how many of those who did are married to people who didn’t? Greater freedom of movement produces greater freedom of choice. But that does not produce more social diversity, it produces more social stratification.

Social media now enhances these patterns. Friendship groups of like-minded individuals reinforce each other’s worldviews. Facebook’s news feed is designed to deliver information that users are more inclined to “like”. Much of the shock that followed the Brexit result in educated circles came from the fact that few people had been exposed to arguments that did not match their preferences. Education does not provide any protection against these social media effects. It reinforces them.

The growing political divide between the educated and the less educated can be seen across Europe. It is most pronounced in Scandinavian countries, where university attendance is high and levels of education are an increasing driver of voting habits. It is less visible in southern and eastern Europe – in places such as Portugal and Poland – where participation in higher education is lower, and other social factors, including family and religion, still exert a strong grip.

I’m closing today with a great article written by Joy-Ann Reid who dissects Donald’s focused hatred towards women.  She argues that Trump hates women more than any other group he debases.

Even without the euphoria of “yes we can,” Hillary Clinton is to white women what Barack Obama was to African-Americans. She represents the opportunity to see a like image in the Oval Office for the first time. That has to be tempting even for Republican women who would never support a Democrat, let alone a Clinton, and Trump’s demeanor and debate performance is  making it easier for white independent and even Republican women to cross over.

And Trump is uniquely vulnerable because his record of insulting and demeaning women is as long as his love of Putin’s Russia is deep. According to the documentary Trump: What’s the Deal, he verbally harassed first wife Ivana, before dumping her for Marla Maples, whom he resisted marrying in a most public and embarrassing way, only to dump her and marry Melania before reportedly berating her for not losing her baby weight fast enough after giving birth to their now-10-year-old son Baron. The most effective Clinton ads this season have been the ones showing women and girls listening to Trump’s cruel words in his own voice.

Trump is at further risk due to his almost limbic inability to control himself when attacked, particularly by a woman. Consider that there’s no one who gets under his thin skin the way Elizabeth Warren does. She and New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd have shared the sobriquet “goofy” as stars of Trump’s infamous Twitter tirades—though Warren has the smear “Pocahontas” all to herself.

During the campaign, Trump has gone after white women, Latinas (Machado and Susana Martinez, the governor of Mexico), Asian-American and Muslim women (Gold Star Mother Ghazala Khan). His Fox News chest thumping at a black Flint, Michigan pastor, Faith Green Timmons, came a day after he sheepishly backed down when she stopped him from politicking in her pulpit. Interestingly, he has yet to have a go at Michelle Obama, who just cut a national ad for Hillary Clinton. One can only imagine how that might go.

We frequently discuss how being around the TV when Pence or Trump or any one of his supporters is speaking out is a lot like reliving the trauma of an abusive relationship.  They give me PTSD flashbacks from every emotionally abusive person I’ve ever met. They are angry, hostile, and use the language of attack.  We are their enemy. They label us hateful names. We women. We African Americans.  We of Mexican and Latin descent.  We who practice something other than the right brand of Christianity. Yet, it is they who feel under attack and not given their due.  As the Canadian writers said, these folk have such palpable emotional turmoil that they are not likely going away with the Trump candidacy.  They are also firmly seated in the Republican Party Grassroots.

I like that we’re beginning to understand and see more of these folks even though I frankly approach each article with wide open eyes and a dropping mouth.  We don’t exist in the same narrow space. We exist at odds and at an arm’s length.  We talk past and at each other.  We don’t get each other’s lives or choices at all.

Something here has to change.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 

 

 

 


Wednesday Reads: It is good cape weather.

bc11b47e8b2200ba279ed5f1976e1d45

 

Good Early Afternoon

I found that image on Facebook. I got the idea for the capes from a friend of mine who is doing a pimp thing for Halloween…at least I think that was the look he was going for. Anyway, he said he thought capes were cool and that they should come back into style. Which made me think of the Seinfeld episode…about the man in the cape.

3529961534_3d95176a1b

 

 

Yeah it is good cape weather, don’t ya think?

c086c928d81a54062ed749fe9abf06ce

 

Anyway, here are the other quick scenes that go with this episode:

 

 

frank-costanza-3

 

 

 

Then of course I got sucked into the youtube vortex and found this nugget of clips. The best of Frank:

 

54854d75216976847002b772851fded2

Tell that to Bobby Colby….all that kid wanted to do was go home…well he went home alright….with a crater in his colon the size of a cutlet.

Alright then, enough of the fun stuff. Let’s get down to the shitty gritty.

c7ff49fe7fe434bfc6a2453ba9b2ecd8As you read these articles remember this:

The numbers are staggering: US is ‘world leader’ in child poverty

That is from back in April of this year…Don’t forget the mortality rate in newborns either:

U.S. infant mortality rate worse than other countries – CBS News

That link is from a year ago…

The point I am trying to make is, there is a GOP debate tonight…cough, cough…

What’s at stake for tonight’s GOP debate?

I doubt very seriously the candidates will be asked pointed questions about their party’s compliance and cause of the figures above. But what the fuck right? As long as this shit continues:

dab7e0891b3ce4f6fb310b55a509dee9How the f*** did we get here?! Why Trump & Carson have demolished all comers—and why you should keep an eye on Rubio & Cruz – Salon.com

That is Digby at Salon.

Not sure you saw this…but I think it may have been posted earlier in the week here on the blog…anyway, back to the shit talking from Slate, Monday this week:

Joe Cannon: Cannonfire

I have to quote the whole post, sorry Joseph…but if I were to write my own response to that shit said, it would sound like a Samuel L Jackson monologue. (Which is not to say I haven’t done anything like that before on the blog, but with my dysfunctional brain at the moment…I don’t think I can give my rant the kind of linguistic attention it deserves…)

63f8b0ea02f1b2c5a3e0383b01a39f19The turning of the worm, the eating of the crow (redux)

Attention, irony fans! Dig:

Clinton is framing Sanders as a sexist who accuses women of shouting when they try to speak up. It’s a lie. She’s manipulating women and abusing feminist anger for her own advantage.

It’s great that we’re more aware of bigotry than we used to be. But we should also beware false claims of bigotry: the race card, the sex card, the homophobia card. In 1991, Clarence Thomas, a well-connected federal judge, evaded sexual harassment allegations and won confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court by accusing his interrogators of a “high-tech lynching for uppity blacks.” Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, says anyone who advocates a boycott of his country “should be treated exactly as we treat any anti-Semite or bigot.” Sexism, racism, and anti-Semitism are real. But sometimes they’re fabricated.

606a8f815bf99c35aafd931873e39a33For more from that Slate shit, we go back to the William Saletan article:

That’s what Clinton is doing. She’s misrepresenting an exchange that took place at the Oct. 13 Democratic presidential debate. During the exchange, Clinton accused Sanders of voting with the gun lobby. Sanders replied: “All the shouting in the world is not going to do what I would hope all of us want, and that is keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have those guns and end this horrible violence.” Sanders argued that people on both sides of the gun debate should agree to “strengthen and expand instant background checks, do away with this gun show loophole,” “deal with the straw-man purchasing issue,” and “address the issue of mental health.”

b271a48fb9fe1521ea6063076bec7735The man standing to Clinton’s left during this exchange, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, joined in the attack on Sanders. To this, the Vermont senator answered with the same message: “Here is the point, governor. We can raise our voices. But I come from a rural state, and the views on gun control in rural states are different than in urban states, whether we like it or not. Our job is to bring people together around strong, common-sense gun legislation.”

Two days after the debate, Clinton brought up the exchange during a speech to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in San Antonio. She promised to stand up to the gun lobby and, dropping her G’s, added: “I’ve been told by some to quit talkin’ about this, to quit shoutin’ about this. Well, I’ll tell you right now, I will not be silenced, and we will not be silenced.” The crowd loved it. The next day in New Hampshire, Clinton tried the same line in a Yankee-friendly accent: “Some people say that we shouldn’t talk about it. Some say we shouldn’t shout about it, that I shouldn’t shout about it. Well, I think we have to keep talking. But more importantly, we have to act.”

014ca0c1a6507444546648b899843859A week went by. Clinton prepared for her Oct. 22 testimony before the House Select Committee on Benghazi. When she returned to the campaign trail on Oct. 23, in a speech to the Democratic National Committee Women’s Leadership Forum, her account of the exchange with Sanders was no longer just about guns. It was about sexism. “You know,” she began—clearing her throat to signal the sound bite ahead—“I’ve been told to stop, and I quote, ‘shouting’ about gun violence. Well, first of all, I’m not shouting. It’s just [that] when women talk, some people think we’re shouting.” The audience hooted, screamed, and cheered. Clinton grinned. “I will not be silenced, because we will not be silenced,” she declared.

dfc024ea42346fe1d37e2d23c8c144d5It goes on that the Clinton campaign then proceeded to adopt a new catch-phrase/slogan: “When women talk, some people think we’re shouting”…Maybe the “shouting should be changed to “shrill?”
Again from the Slate piece,

On social media, Clinton’s campaign made the new line—“When women talk, some people think we’re shouting”— her message of the day. Her team posted it on her Twitter feed at 8:30 Friday morning, two hours before her speech to the DNC forum, as a rebuke to “those who tell her to ‘stop shouting’ on issues that matter.” Superheroes who are window washers at a children's hospital in Pittsburgh.The quote also went up on her Facebook page and her campaign website, under the headline, “Hillary Clinton Just Said Something Women Have Been Thinking for Years.” The next day, at a Democratic dinner in Iowa, Clinton repeated the applause line: “I’ve been told to stop shouting about ending gun violence. Well, I haven’t been shouting. But sometimes, when a woman speaks out, some people think it’s shouting. But I won’t be silenced, and I hope you won’t be either.”

Clinton doesn’t use Sanders’ name when she tells this story. She doesn’t have to: Everyone who saw the debate or heard about it knows she’s talking about him. She’s using the story to bond with women, to paint Sanders as a patronizing old fart, and to portray herself as a victim.

7b93313acd70651890f18f7e1844f7e5Let’s be clear: This isn’t what happened. During the debate exchange, Sanders answered O’Malley with the same point about “raising our voices.” Sanders has been giving this answer for years. He did it in July, after an O’Malley super PAC ad attacked him (“We have been yelling and screaming at each other about guns for decades,” said Sanders). He did it again in August, after a male surrogate for Clinton attacked him (“I can get beyond the noise and all of these arguments and people shouting at each other”). He did it again in October, after the mass shooting in Roseburg, Oregon (“People on both sides of this issue cannot simply continue shouting at each other”). Sanders gives this answer to everyone.

e451c87c71dd3eff2124d312d8345b2aThe charitable explanation of Clinton’s behavior is that she sincerely perceived Sanders’ rebuke during the debate as sexist. But if that were true, you’d expect her to have said so in her first accounts of the exchange. She didn’t. She waited more than a week before embellishing the story. She prepared it as a sound bite for social media, and she unveiled it at a women’s forum. And it worked, so she’s still using it.

Enough. Sanders’ record as a feminist is as good as Clinton’s. No honest reading of his career or his comments about guns can construe him as a sexist. Clinton is trying to connect with women who have felt bullied by men, and to turn them against Sanders, by smearing him. And what’s true of racism and anti-Semitism is just as true of sexism: The more seriously you take the real thing, the more you should revile people who use it as a fraud.

Uh, Fuck You William Saletan.

dea95ff9bec0d9ad92f1256fc9ff7452Okay, back now to Joseph. Like I said above, my response would not be so coherent.

My (sic Cannon’s) response: 2008.

Remember?

Remember when anyone who called Obama a progressive poseur was considered an unhooded Klansman?

Remember when I was called a “racist” every minute of every hour of every day for weeks simply because I pointed out that Obama had lied about his opposition to NAFTA?

8da9e32d15b429480830e29b33b89c31Remember when I was considered kin to George Wallace simply because I dared to mention the easily-proved fact that Obama did not denounce the Iraq invasion during his 2004 convention speech (or at any other time during his senate campaign)?

Remember the death threats against Hillary published on Democratic web sites like Daily Kos?

5dec80adb212cb2edc44e83eb07cc5b9Remember how every sentence, word and phoneme uttered by the Clintons was hyper-parsed and subjected to bizarre interpretations in order to prove that they hated all black people? (As if anyone could withstand that kind of attack. Using the same smarmy tactic, I could prove that you are a racist, whoever you might be.)

Remember that shit?

I’ll never forget.

I’ll never forget either…those smarmy muthafuckaz. On that note. Something funny, because some of the other links are really depressing.

 

Oh my gawd…Dubya is Ricky Bobby!

af360befa72972ef674d75483af9bc0eChristian marriage adviser: Use ‘fear and dread’ to control your wife — as God intended

Responding to comments from a men’s rights activist on a posting about finding enjoyment in sex with a wife who grudgingly agrees, the host of a website providing tips on proper Biblical “gender roles” agreed that keeping a woman in a constant state of fear is an appropriate way to control her actions.

Pointing to a column he wrote on “Female dread,” Rollo Tomassi explained that Christian men go about seeking sex with women all wrong by trying to “diffuse sexual anxiety and tension.” Instead, Tomassi said husbands should make their wives “unintentionally uncomfortable” in order to achieve “the rough, hard-core, make-up sex you never thought you’d have.”

Larry Solomon of Biblical Gender Roles agreed enthusiastically — albeit from a biblical perspective —  writing: “So should a wife Biblically speaking have a little healthy fear or dread of her husband? Absolutely!”93ce6e2944cfcf98ebb8db9ea556e0f2

According to Solomon — who agreed with Tomassi’s distaste for feminism — the Bible says that women should submit to their husbands “’as unto the Lord’ (Ephesians 5:22)”

Solomon lamented the fact that he believes that most Christian husbands fear their wives.

“Men show their wives they are either afraid to lose them (be alone) or afraid of the prospect of divorce and the financial or child custody repercussions that it may bring, ” he wrote.

edb882611e39ad24d1b2b918add92712Solomon suggested that Christian husbands should use what he calls the “there’s the door” method.

“So when a woman acts out in rebellion toward her husband and tries to act as if she does not need her husband or that other men would treat her better the Christian husband should tell his wife “there’s the door”.  Will some women be foolish enough to walk out that door? Yes, ” he wrote. ” But the moment a man allows his wife to put him in a position of fearing her, rather than her fearing him the relationship has just changed from the design God intended it to be.”

Solomon added that there is a limit to what a husband needs to provide for his wife and that the minimums  should be withdrawn if she gets out of line.

49420e1b5590397d5f9090c7b8bd03b6“While we are required to know our wives and talk to them, that does not mean we need to spend every bit of our free time in conversation with them. We do not need to hang on every word our wife says. While we are required to give them food, clothing and shelter – that food does not have be the fancy food she wants, that clothing does not have to be the fancy clothing she wants and that house does not have to be the fancy house she wants,” he wrote, before adding that one night of wild sex is insufficient.

“I don’t just mean she just rocks his world one night, and then he lavishes her with all these things.  No – she sees that in order to get ‘some’ of her wants met she must FIRST reverence her husband outside the bedroom and she must ravish him inside the bedroom and this becomes the pattern of her behavior toward her husband, He explained. ” If either the reverence or ravishing goes down, he pulls back on these other things so she understands the correlation.”

7a5fef36edeb98080c53039f2649c85eUgh…fuck you Solomon and Tomassi and the rest of these assholes.

Patriarch of Duggar-like family with 19 kids and reality show accused of sexual misconduct cover-up – No surprise there.

No More Mister Nice Blog: KEEP TELLING YOURSELF THAT GOP CRAZIES WILL CALM DOWN ANY DAY NOW

Hobby Lobby investigated for trying to import ancient artifacts from Iraq | US news | The Guardian

Customs agents seized thousands of years-old tablets imported by owners of the Christian chain of craft stores and intended for the $800m Museum of the Bible

d838490526f858ec1e2b760a239087bcFox News Turns To A Panel Of Men To Debate Whether Women Should Be Allowed To Wear Leggings | Video | Media Matters for America

Fox & Friends continued their history of on-air sexism when they turned to a panel of men to literally judge whether three women were appropriately wearing leggings. Fox News’ flagship morning show has a long history of promoting sexism on-air, whether it’s co-host Brian Kilmeade introducing his female colleagues by stating, “Let’s see if the girls have clothes on,” or spending 13 minutes questioning women’s driving abilities. To be fair, the network’s programming overall isn’t much betterFox & Friends‘ overt sexism reached a new level during its October 27 edition in which a panel of three men were asked to judge the appropriateness of three women’s appearances. Co-host Steve Doocy started things off by asking panelist Willie Robertson of Duck Dynasty, “Are you comfortable with the women in your life parading in public in leggings?” Throughout the segment the panelists weighed in on each outfit, with Robertson quipping, 3abf4570fac084261f713e5ac6385851“I’d like a photo” of one of the models, and Fox’s Arthur Aidala saying of another model’s “physique,” “God bless you, you’ve worked out, you’ve earned that.” Aidala then joked, “We all took nitroglycerin pills before she came on, just to make sure.” To conclude the panel discussion, Doocy speculated that, “I don’t think anybody is in too much trouble,” with Aidala agreeing, “No, I think we made it.” From the October 27 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

Fox’s Kilmeade Blames Student Thrown To The Ground By Officer: “Have Some Respect For Your Teachers” | Video | Media Matters for America

In related news: Sheriff to Decide Fate of Deputy in Classroom Arrest

7f37f4082f13dbc793bc3a4420b5b331This…Blackmail is one way to get on base – The Washington Post

Disgraced former baseball player Lenny Dykstra, who played center field for the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Mets, apparently developed an innovative way to get on base: Blackmail umpires. From Philly.com:

Dykstra admitted while being interviewed, with no provocation, that he used half a million dollars to hire a private investigation team to get dirt on umpires, including extramarital affairs and gambling, that he would then use to shrink his personal strike zone.

“It wasn’t a coincidence I led the league in walks the next few years, was it?”

ae75cb4e128a046aaca173803d8921d0WTF?

Former NYC jailhouse will be turned into a women’s center – NY Daily News

A former women’s prison located in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood is being converted into a women’s center, Gov. Cuomo said Monday.

The former medium-security Bayview Correctional Facility will be redeveloped by the NoVo Foundation, a not-for-profit group funded by Warren Buffett, and the Goren Group.

6978649930f2d30f6306cdc8d2c833e8The 100,000-square-foot “Women’s Building” will include office space for activists and groups that focus on women’s issues, community space for a female adolescent wellness clinic, a women’s art gallery and a restaurant.

“We are continuing our efforts to shatter the glass ceiling by taking down an institution of defeat and turning it into opportunity and social reform for women,” Cuomo said.

Good.

That is all I have today, and get one last laugh, from this little pug video.

 

 

 

What are you all looking at today?