Tuesday Reads: Trump Being Trump Is Going To Kill Us All

Good Morning!!

I’ve been feeling almost catatonic with shock for the past few days, ever since Trump appointed John Bolton as National Security Adviser. And that was on top of his nomination of Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State.

It just feels as if we’re inching closer and closer to a real world-wide disaster. With those two in charge, it seems likely Trump will pull us out of the Iran agreement and maybe even get us into wars in Iran and North Korea. The joke’s over, folks. This is getting way too real.

The photos of baby elephants in this post are an attempt to keep me from going completely around the bend.

At The Daily Beast, Michael Tomasky writes: Trump Does Trump, and Things Get Worse. Tomasky notes that Trump appears to have concluded that he doesn’t need advisers who tell him he can’t do what he wants to do. He’s decided to run the country the way he the business that he repeatedly drove into bankruptcy.

The hiring of John Bolton highlights Donald Trump’s instability, his total lack of any coherent worldview, and most of all—and most dangerously of all—his need to feel that no limits are being imposed on him. Here’s what I mean. When talking foreign policy, sometimes Trump sounds like Bolton, with all that overheated rhetoric he’s thrown at Kim Jong Un. But at other times, he’s an isolationist. At still other times, like when he’s agreeing to meet with Kim with no preconditions, he’s a Neville Chamberlain in the making. (By the way, is Lloyd’s of London taking odds yet on whether that summit will actually happen?)

So if he wasn’t happy with H.R. McMaster and wanted new blood, he could have gone in any number of ways. That he chose the guy who will reinforce his worst instincts tells us, I think, that what he values most (aside from unquestioning loyalty) is someone who won’t hem him in; in other words, Trump may decide to launch a first strike against North Korea, or he may not. But if he does, by God, he doesn’t want some globalist ninny telling him not to. So the principle at work here is not hawkishness per se. It’s having someone who won’t tell him no.

Tomasky discusses Trump’s ludicrous handling of economic issues, and his total lack of knowledge and understanding of how legislation is crafted. Now Trump is facing the Stormy Daniels problem, and it may get him into real trouble:

The Stormy Daniels story was kind of non-newsy on certain levels. That Trump slept with a porn star and behaved crudely toward her is about the least shocking thing in the world. But the threats made against her are the real story here. That’s going to be the new iteration of this story, and depending on how it plays out it stands the chance of reminding the country of something that many have forgotten, or never knew: The president of the United States has mob ties.

Here’s David Cay Johnston cataloguing a few of them, like how Trump went out of his way to use Mafia-controlled companies to pour the concrete for Trump Tower. The great Wayne Barrett was the master chronicler of all this, going back to the 1990s. All you need to know for now is that back in the day, the government of Australia denied him a permit to open a casino in Sydney because the government deemed him to be too mobbed up. Trump will say of this failure that he lost interest in Australia, but Australia also lost interest in him.

How can anyone who is paying attention not be frightened to have this idiot running our government?

At Vox, Zach Beauchamp writes about one serious problem with Trump’s two recent appointments: How John Bolton and Mike Pompeo mainstreamed Islamophobia.

John Bolton, President Trump’s pick for his next national security adviser, and Mike Pompeo, Trump’s pick to be the next secretary of state, are well-known hawks. Less well known are their deep and extensive ties to an organized group of anti-Muslim writers and activists.

The members of the so-called “counter-jihad” movement aren’t exactly household names. But its leading lights — people like Reagan Defense Department official Frank Gaffney, activist Brigitte Gabriel, and blogger Pamela Geller — are surprisingly well-financed and influential. Their major arguments include the idea that Islam is an intrinsically violent religion and that most mainstream American Muslim organizations are involved in a secret plot to replace American law with Islamic law. One “study” published by Gaffney’s organization, the Center for Security Policy, argued that 80 percent of mosques in America “are incubators of, at best, subversion and, at worst, violence and should be treated accordingly.”

Neither Bolton nor Pompeo has endorsed views this radical, though both have come relatively close. In February 2015, Pompeo appeared on Gaffney’s radio show and warned darkly of an Islamic conspiracy against America.

“There are organizations and networks here in the United States tied to radical Islam in deep and fundamental ways,” Pompeo said in a February 2015 interview on Gaffney’s radio program. “They’re not just in places like Libya and Syria and Iraq, but in places like Coldwater, Kansas, and small towns all throughout America.”

Bolton, for his part, has defended the Islamophobic attacks against Huma Abedin, a Muslim American who spent years as a top aide to Hillary Clinton. Some Republican members of Congress accused Abedin being a secret Islamist operative (which, it goes without saying, is wholly unfounded) in 2012; that July, Bolton went on Gaffney’s show and said there was nothing wrong with that line of attack. “What is wrong with raising the question?” Bolton asked.

Read all the scary details at Vox.

The Economist on Pompeo’s religious views:

Even among broadly conservative watchers of American foreign policy, there is worry that Mr Pompeo’s apparent sectarian sentiment might be a problem. In the words of Robert D. Kaplan, a veteran global-affairs writer, Mr Pompeo “emblemises an increasingly theological bent in American politics, and in particular in a strand of American conservatism.” This contrasted with earlier eras when “American leaders were often churchgoers but their governing spirit was refreshingly secular.”

As is noted by Shadi Hamid, a senior fellow of the Brookings Institution think-tank, Mr Pompeo comes across as an educated person whose negative ideas about Islam are more thought-through, and hence perhaps more worrisome, than the “visceral, almost incoherent” suspicion of that faith which Mr Trump exuded as a candidate. “It is not a good thing when the public face of American diplomacy holds views which demean an entire religion,” says Mr Hamid.

Several things have earned Mr Pompeo the reputation of being a kind of latter-day Crusader. One is a video clip in which he argues vigorously that at least some individuals are motivated by their Muslim beliefs, and by things they read in the Koran, to commit terrible violence. Watched closely, the video does not show him to believe that all Muslims think that way. What is more striking is the remedy of Christian solidarity he proposes: Islam-inspired terrorists “will continue to press against us until we make sure…we know that Jesus Christ is the only solution for our world.”

There is also concern about Mr Pompeo’s reaction to the bomb attack on the Boston marathon in 2013. As a Congressman, he said Muslim leaders who failed to condemn the outrage, and to call it incompatible with Muhammad’s teaching, were “potentially complicit”. Arsalan Iftikhar, a writer and lawyer who helps run an anti-Islamophobia programme at Georgetown University, was one of many Muslim-Americans who found those comments insulting to leaders of Islam in America, who used all their authority to excoriate the bombing.

Read the rest at link.

Could Trump’s behavior with women finally be causing serious problems for the GOP? The New York Times: After Stormy Daniels, Republicans Face a Referendum on Trump’s Conduct.

When Representative Ryan Costello of Pennsylvania announced on Sunday that he would join more than 40 other congressional Republicans not seeking re-election in November, he left no doubt about the reason: President Trump’s conduct made it impossible to talk about anything else.

Were he running, Mr. Costello said in an interview, he would be inundated with questions about Stephanie Clifford, the pornographic film actress known as Stormy Daniels, who has said she had an affair with Mr. Trump and was threatened to stay silent about it.

“If I had a town hall this week, it would be question after question,” Mr. Costello said. “‘Do you believe him or do you believe her? Why don’t you believe her?’”

While Republicans have been bracing for months for a punishing election in November, they are increasingly alarmed that their losses may be even worse than feared because the midterm campaign appears destined to turn more on the behavior of the man in the White House than any other in decades.

As much as gun control, immigration, the sweeping tax overhaul and other issues are mobilizing voters on the left and the right, the seamy sex allegations and Mr. Trump’s erratic style could end up alienating crucial blocs of suburban voters and politically moderate women who might be drawn to some Republican policies but find the president’s purported sex antics to be reprehensible.

Some funny quotes from the article:

“Trump is way more than the proverbial elephant in the room — he’s the elephant in the room with political bad breath, B.O. and a foul mouth,” said Ace Smith, a veteran Democratic consultant, who argued that the last time a president’s conduct loomed so large in congressional midterms was in the post-Watergate election of 1974….

“I don’t see headlines with: ‘Porn star sues Nancy Pelosi,’” said Representative Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana Democrat, when asked about his party’s polarizing House leader.

Trump’s new “trust his gut” approach has talking about bringing back fired staffer Rob Porter. I’ll bet that would be a big hit with women voters. Wonkette reacts: Sad And Lonely Trump Misses His Old Wife-Beaty Friend Rob 😦

A few days/years back, the White House unceremoniously fired a guy whose main fault seems to be that he loves Donald Trump for some reason. His name was Johnny Feelgood, Johnny Right On, Johnny Miss You, Johnny Light On, Johnny Makes Me Feel Strangely Good About Myself, AKA Johnny McEntee. He was Donald Trump’s body man, and he is very pretty, and UH OH seems to have gotten himself into some fraudy financial trouble of some sort, for which he is being investigated by the Secret Service.

We only bring up Johnny McEntee to point out that that he would be a completely reasonable person for Donald Trump to be pining for, wandering the halls of the West Wing with a Big Mac stuffed down the front of his pants and a lost look in his eyes. Instead, Donald Trump is reportedly broken-hearted and lost without Rob Porter, the guy who got fired from the White House because he couldn’t stop beating his wives all the time, which meant he couldn’t get a permanent security clearance. Yeah, THAT guy.

Maggie Haberman reports, because of course it is Maggie Haberman:

President Trump has stayed in touch with Rob Porter, the former White House staff secretary who stepped down after allegations that he had abused his two former wives came to light, according to three people familiar with the conversations, and has told some advisers he hopes Mr. Porter returns to work in the West Wing.

Oh for Christ’s sake. Without a security clearance? Because remember how Rob Porter can’t get a security clearance because he’s a rage douche who couldn’t stop beating his wives all the time?

Haberman reports that Trump ‘n’ Rob are always on the phone talking about clothes and boys and tariffs because, big sadface, Trump has fired everybody else, or else they have quit. Hope-y Hicks is gone, McMaster has cleared out his office to make room for John Bolton’s mustache grooming table, and of course Johnny Feelgood is off being hot in greener pastures, and though many of the people who have left the White House were fired in petulant fits of rage by the historically stupid man known as President Poop Waffle, that doesn’t mean the president doesn’t hate to see them go. This is because the president of the United States is a pathetic and lonely person who doesn’t have real friends.

Now look, don’t assume Trump is going to let his head get ahead of his heart and sneak Rob into the White House or anything:

The president has told the advisers he has talked with that he knows he probably cannot bring Mr. Porter back.

Because of the whole wife-beater thing. 😦

This is our reality now. This moron is the “president.” What stories are you following?

Advertisements

Evangelical Leaders Agree to Back Santorum

Yesterday around 150 evangelical leaders met at a Texas ranch to discuss a last ditch effort to deny Mitt Romney the Republican presidential nomination. In the end, a large majority agreed to support Rick Santorum, although they stopped short of asking other candidates to drop out. In anticipation of the meeting, Peter Wallsten and Karen Tumulty wrote in the Washington Post:

A near-panic has taken hold among some core conservative activists, who are now scrambling to devise a strategy to deny Mitt Romney the Republican presidential nomination….

Many of these activists see South Carolina’s primary on Jan. 21 as their last best hope of stopping Romney by consolidating in a united front against him. But many acknowledge that they have yet to figure out which of the remaining conservative rivals to rally behind and which should get out.

The Romney conundrum will be on the agenda Friday when about 150 evangelical leaders huddle at a Texas ranch to debate their next move. Likewise, the subject of consolidating conservative opposition to the former Massachusetts governor is expected to be a major point of discussion among about 500 attendees at a tea party convention set for this weekend in Myrtle Beach, S.C., where the list of speakers includes two Romney rivals seeking the conservative mantle, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum.

According to the Christian Broadcasting Network:

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council says conservatives are looking for a candidate who will repeal the nation’s health care law, fight for pro family values and address the national debt….

Expect conservative groups to start individually motivating their constituents to work for Santorum. Also look for more money and resources to start pouring into Santorum’s campaign. No question about it, this is excellent news for Santorum’s camp and a major blow to the Gingrich and Perry camps.

The LA Times has more from Perkins, who must be the ringleader of this uprising.

Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, said the decision was reached after three rounds of balloting, with Santorum winning 85 votes in the final round, to Newt Gingrich’s 29. Texas Gov. Rick Perry had strong support at the beginning of the process, but was eliminated after the first round of balloting, Perkins said.

“The focus here was on people putting aside their preferences, putting aside the candidate they had signed up with, trying to reach a consensus,” Perkins said.

“Rick Santorum has consistently articulated the issues that are of concern to conservatives, both the economic and the social, and has woven those into a very solid platform,” Perkins said. “And he has a record of stability…He’s reliable.”

As I see it, they’ve chosen the candidate least likely to appeal to general election voters. I can’t imagine Santorum winning the nomination. I guess the real question is how many of these evangelicals will come around to voting for Romney in the end and how many of them will sit stay home on election day.


Michele Bachmann Shares Lead in Iowa with Mitt Romney

You’ve probably heard the news that Michele Bachmann is in a statistical dead heat with Mitt Romney in the Iowa Register’s GOP presidential poll.

The Des Moines Register’s poll is the first measure of likely GOP caucus-goers.

So far, Mitt Romney is leading the pack with 23 percent. But Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is just one point behind him with 22 percent.

Hermain Cain finished a distant third with 10 percent. Then its former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Congressman Ron Paul, both with 7 percent.

Minnesota’s former Governor Tim Pawlenty, who’s focused so much of his campaigning in Iowa, finished sixth with 6 percent.

Rick Santorum finished with 4 percent and Jon Huntsman is the top choice for 2 percent of the potential caucusgoers.

Nate Silver argues that Pawlenty still has a chance:

…the horse race numbers need to be interpreted cautiously. Instead, I’d pay just as much attention to the impression that voters have of each candidate.

You have to dig down to find those numbers, but they are much better for Mr. Pawlenty: some 58 pecent of voters view him favorably, versus 13 percent unfavorably. The figures for Mr. Romney, by contrast, are 52 percent favorable but 38 percent unfavorable.

Put simply, there is considerable upside in Mr. Pawlenty’s numbers — and some downside for Mr. Romney, who is effectively competing for the votes of perhaps only 50 or 60 percent of the voters in the state because of his relatively moderate positions.

Unfortunately, Pawlenty’s real problem is that he booooorrrrring. Besides, he’s a right-wing “Christian” too.

So basically, unless Sarah Palin jumps into the race, Romney and Bachmann are the only viable candidates for the Republican nomination. I think Bachmann will beat Romney in the Iowa Caucuses for three reasons:

1) Bachmann’s far right evangelical “Christianity” trumps Romney’s Mormonism.

2) Bachmann is a compulsively hard worker and true believer; Romney doesn’t know the meaning of hard work, and he has no moral values or ideology.

3) Michele Bachmann was born in Iowa.

The good news is that Bachmann probably can’t beat Romney in New Hampshire, but you never know.

In an interview today Bachmann explained that

her bid to unseat President Barack Obama shouldn’t be viewed as “anything personal” against the Democrat but says he’s “just wrong” on his policies for America….
[T]he Minnesota congresswoman also said she doesn’t foresee problems moving from frequent naysayer to the country’s proposer-in-chief. She says voters can expect her to propose an economic agenda that includes cuts to corporate taxes and phase-outs of taxes on inheritances and investment earnings.

Bachmann’s nothing-personal message departs from her 2008 comments questioning whether Obama had “anti-American” views. She has said she wishes she framed her criticism differently.

Well, that’s darn sporting of her. I guess Obama can breathe a sigh of relief now.


Monday Reads

Good Morning!

Are you reading for the end of the world next Saturday?  Nope, it’s not 2012 yet and we’re not talking about the Mayan Prophecy. Harold Campaign has convinced  a group of evangelicals that the date is May 21, 2011.  I wonder if any of them would like me to take care of their left behind pets for all their money?  You can read more about the man and his end of days wishes at Salon.

The self-appointed harbingers are not tied to any particular church — they claim organized religion has been corrupted by the devil — but rather to Internet- and radio-based ministries. And their lone mission is to tell anyone and everyone that the end of days is May 21. That’s when, they insist, God’s true believers will be lifted into heaven and saved, during a biblical event widely referred to as the Rapture.

The finer points of Christian eschatology have long been the subject of dispute (not to mention the inspiration for movies and books, like the blockbuster “Left Behind” series). Though mainstream churches reject the the notion that doomsday can be predicted by any man, fringe scholars continue to work feverishly pinpointing the moment of the final, divine revelation. And one such man — 89-year-old radio host Harold Camping — has been at the game for decades.

In the early ’90s, Camping published a book titled “1994?,” which claimed judgment day would arrive in September of that year. When confronted with such a staggering anticlimax — the world, after all, kept on spinning — Camping chose not to be discouraged, but to learn from his mistakes. (He hadn’t considered the Book of Jeremiah, he says.) A civil engineer by trade, Camping went back to the drawing board and continued to crunch the numbers, before arriving at the adamant determination that Rapture would come on May 21, 2011. He began to spread the word through his broadcasting network, Family Radio, in 2009, and quickly built up a fervid following.

I guess it takes all kinds.  That’s what my mother used to tell me when she was alive, anyway. Speaking of that, MoJo has a great list of Newtisms that will take you a trip back in time with Gingrich’s greatest tongue trips.  Here’s some of his earliest hits.

1978 In an address to College Republicans before he was elected to the House, Gingrich says: “I think one of the great problems we have in the Republican party is that we don’t encourage you to be nasty. We encourage you to be neat, obedient, and loyal and faithful and all those Boy Scout words.” He added, “Richard Nixon…Gerald Ford…They have done a terrible job, a pathetic job. In my lifetime, in my lifetime—I was born in 1943—we have not had a competent national Republican leader. Not ever.”

1980 On the House floor, Gingrich states, “The reality is that this country is in greater danger than at any time since 1939.”

1980 Gingrich says: “We need a military four times the size of our present defense system.” (See 1984.)

1983 A major milestone: Gingrich cites former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain on the House floor: “If in fact we are to follow the Chamberlain liberal Democratic line of withdrawal from the planet,” he explains, “we would truly have tyranny everywhere, and we in America could experience the joys of Soviet-style brutality and murdering of women and children.”

What is it that Republicans put in their formula that turns out people like this?  Newt was on Meet the Press yesterday where he mouthed off on a number of subject’s including Paul Ryan’s Medicare pogrome.  This is the National Review’s take so read with caution.

Newt Gingrich’s appearance on “Meet the Press” today could leave some wondering which party’s nomination he is running for. The former speaker had some harsh words for Paul Ryan’s (and by extension, nearly every House Republican’s) plan to reform Medicare, calling it “radical.”

“I don’t think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering,” he said when asked about Ryan’s plan to transition to a “premium support” model for Medicare. “I don’t think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for a free society to operate.”

As far as an alternative, Gingrich trotted out the same appeal employed by Obama/Reid/Pelosi — for a “national conversation” on how to “improve” Medicare, and promised to eliminate ‘waste, fraud and abuse,’ etc.

“I think what you want to have is a system where people voluntarily migrate to better outcomes, better solutions, better options,” Gingrich said. Ryan’s plan was simply “too big a jump.”

He even went so far as to compare it the Obama health-care plan.”I’m against Obamacare, which is imposing radical change, and I would be against a conservative imposing radical change.”

I have to say that having Trump, Gingrich, Santorum and Paul all debating each other on one stage would probably be highly entertaining.   They could have a contest for who would make the craziest old uncle.

The White House is out on the road trying to head off problems with the national debt ceiling.  Timothy Geithner says that the economy will double-dip if the Republicans don’t raise the ceiling.

In a heavily-anticipated response to Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., who asked Geithner to document the economic and fiscal impacts of failing to lift the statutory debt limit, the Treasury secretary detailed a chain reaction that would cripple the economy, costing jobs and income.

“A default would inflict catastrophic far-reaching damage on our nation’s economy, significantly reducing growth and increasing unemployment,” said Geithner in the letter to Bennet which was dated May 13. “Even a short-term default could cause irrevocable damage to the economy.”

Geithner has imposed an August deadline for Congress to lift the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, but lawmakers are still negotiating over Republican demands to tie the move to spending cuts. And a portion of the GOP still remains skeptical about the need to act by the deadline at all, arguing that the consequences have been overstates.

Economist Mark Thoma has a better explanation of how the refusal to increase the debt ceiling would impact the economy on CBS Money Watch.  This explanation is much more precise.

If politicians fail to reach a deal to increase the debt ceiling, there would be a large fall in federal spending. The decline in federal purchases of private sector goods and services would reduce aggregate demand, and this could slow or even reverse the recovery (it could also threaten the delivery of critical services that some people depend upon). In addition, the failure to pay wages to federal workers would disrupt household finances and cause a further decline in demand, as would the failure of the government to pay its bills for the goods and services it has already purchased from the private sector (and it could even threaten some households and businesses with bankruptcy should the problem persist). There may be some room for the Treasury to use accounting tricks to avoid the worst problems, at least for a time, but it is not at all clear how well this would work to insulate the economy from problems and eventually this strategy will come to an end.

That’s potentially bad enough, but it’s far from the end of the problems that could occur. Failure to raise the debt ceiling could also undermine faith in the safety of US Treasury bills. If we default on bond payments, or appear willing to do so even if it doesn’t actually occur and investors lose faith in US Treasury Bills, they will begin demanding higher interest rates to cover the increased perception of risk. This could be very costly. We depend upon the rest of the world to finance our debt at extremely low interest rates. If the willingness of other countries to do this diminishes, then the cost of financing our debt would rise substantially. And that’s not all. In addition to increased debt servicing costs, an increase in interest rates would also choke off business investment potentially lowering economic growth, and the consumption of durable goods by households would fall as well. Rising interest rates would also be bad for the housing recovery (such as it is). Thus, failure to reach an agreement could be very costly.

The Economist‘s Blog on American Politics: Democracy in America has an interesting  post right now on ‘The Road to Plutocracy’.  It’s an interesting read with a lot of quotes from other pundits.

THE word “plutocracy” is in the air these days. Some say the era of the de facto rule of the mighty top 10%, or top 1%, or whatever insidious sliver of the income distribution is thought to constitute the moneyed power elite, is upon us, or nearly so. I’m not so sure. I am sold on the proposition that there’s something deeply whacked about the American financial system, and that whatever that’s whacked about it is significantly responsible for the top 1% pulling so far away from the rest of the income distribution. This needs to be fixed, whatever its other consequences. It’s not clear to me, however, what exactly is whacked. I don’t know whether to sign up for Tyler Cowen’s “going short on volatility” story, Daron Acemoglu’s “financial-sector lobbying and campaign contributions ‘bought’ an enriching (and destabilising) regulatory structure” story, or some other story. No doubt the truth is in some subtle combination of stories. In any case, accounts such as Mr Acemoglu’s, according to which big players in certain sectors over time manage to rig the regulatory climate to their advantage, are quite compelling for reasons both theoretical and empirical

Newsweek has an interesting article up on why the megarich manage to have such a sweet tax deal.  Even if we raise their income taxes, it really doesn’t hit them where it counts.  Here’s why.

It drives economist Bruce Bartlett crazy every time he hears another bazillionaire announce he’s in favor of paying higher taxes. Most recently it was Mark Zuckerberg who got Bartlett’s blood boiling when the Facebook founder declared himself “cool” with paying more in federal taxes, joining such tycoons as Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Ted Turner, and even a stray hedge-fund manager or two.

Bartlett, a former member of the Reagan White House, isn’t against the wealthy paying higher taxes. He’s that rare conservative who thinks higher taxes need to be part of the deficit debate. His beef? It’s a hollow gesture to say the federal government should raise the tax rate on the country’s top wage earners when the likes of Zuckerberg have most of their wealth tied up in stock. Many of the super-rich see virtually all their income as capital gains, and capital gains are taxed at a much lower rate—15 percent—than ordinary income. When Warren Buffett talks about paying a lower tax rate than his secretary, that’s because she sees most of her pay through a paycheck, while the bulk of his compensation comes in the form of capital gains and dividends. In 2006, for instance, Buffett paid 17.7 percent in taxes on the $46 million he booked that year, while his secretary lost 30 percent of her $60,000 salary to the government.

“It’s easy to say ‘Raise taxes’ when you know you’re not going to have to pay those taxes,” Bartlett says. “What I don’t hear is ‘Let’s raise the capital-gains tax.’” Instead the focus has been on the federal tax rate paid by those with an annual income of $250,000 or more—the top 3 percent of earners. Bartlett argues that while raising taxes on the country’s richest individuals would go a long way in easing the debt crisis, it makes no sense to treat the professional making a few hundred thousand dollars a year the same as the Richie Rich set. Maybe it’s hard to muster sympathy for an executive pulling down $1 million a year. But ours is a tax system where a person in the top tax bracket (those earning more than $374,000 in 2010) pays a tax rate of 35 percent on the upper portions of his or her income (37.9 percent if you include Medicare), whereas a hedge-fund manager or mogul earning 10 or 100 times that amount pays less than half that tax rate.

Well, now I’m thinking we’re all just so f’ked that I might as well stop while I’m ahead.  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Donald Trump’s Deep Thoughts on Abortion, Religion

I’ve never been very interested in Donald Trump. To be honest, until today I had never actually heard him speak two consecutive sentences. Trump has given several interviews lately, and based on watching them and/or reading the transcripts, I must say the man strikes me as a complete idiot. Next to him, the “P” woman looks slightly above average in intelligence.

Trump addressed his “pro-life” stance with Savannah Guthrie of NBC News and George Stephanopoulos of ABC News. Here are his words of wisdom on the subject.

Vaugn Ververs at MSNBC’s First Read:

Donald Trump appeared stumped when asked [by Savannah Guthrie] about the legal principle that served as the cornerstone for the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion….

Guthrie: “Is there a right to privacy in the Constitution?”

Trump: “I guess there is, I guess there is. And why, just out of curiosity, why do you ask that question?”

When pressed to explain how his position on the right to privacy “squares” with his anti-abortion position, Trump responded: “Well, that’s a pretty strange way of getting to pro-life. I mean, it’s a very unique way of asking about pro-life. What does that have to do with privacy? How are you equating pro-life with privacy? ”

Guthrie asked, “well, you know about the Roe v. Wade decision.” Trump responded, “yes, right, sure. Look, I am pro-life. I’ve said it. I’m very strong there.”

Trump left the interview still not seeing a connection between a woman’s right to choose whether or not to have an abortion and the right to privacy. What a loon!

On ABC’s Good Morning America, George Stephanopolous asked Trump directly about the fairly recent change in his abortion stance.

Stephanopoulos: At that time, you were also pro-choice. Now you say you’re against abortion. When did you change your mind on that?

Trump: I would say, you know, a while ago. Quite a while ago.

Stephanopoulos: Why?

Trump: Because a number of cases, but in one particular case, I had a friend and I have a friend. And he would– did not want a child and his wife didn’t want a child. And they were going to abort. And they didn’t do it for very complicated reasons. And now they have the child. And it’s the apple of his eye. And he said, “Thank God.” He changed also, by the way. “Thank God, I didn’t do it.” And I’ve seen that, and I’ve seen other things. And I am pro-life.

That makes a lot of sense. Some rich golfing buddy of Trump’s didn’t want a baby but then changed his mind after the baby was born. Therefore all women must be forced to bear children they don’t want.

Maybe a religious conversion contributed to the change in Trump’s views since 1999 when he told Tim Russert he was pro-choice? He assured David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network that he (Trump) is church-going Christian.

David Brody: You talk a lot about business obviously, but talk to me a little bit about how you see God. How you see God in everything from what happened to your brother (he died of alcoholism at the age of 42) to how your life is today.

Donald Trump: I believe in God. I am Christian. I think The Bible is certainly, it is THE book. It is the thing. I was raised and I gave you a picture just now and perhaps you’ll use that picture I found it from a long time ago. First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica queens is where I went to church. I’m a protestant, I’m a Presbyterian. And you know I’ve had a good relationship with the church over the years. I think religion is a wonderful thing. I think my religion is a wonderful religion.

[….]

Brody: Do you actively go to church?

Trump: Well, I go as much as I can. Always on Christmas. Always on Easter. Always when there’s a major occasion. And during the Sundays. I’m a Sunday church person. I’ll go when I can.

He’ll go on Christmas and Easter and when he can the rest of the year? I’m not sure Trump understands the evangelicals any better than he understands the U.S. Constitution. Maybe Trump is actually secretly auditioning for a new reality show? He can’t possibly be serious about running for President of the U.S. Can he?