Sunday, January 31, 2016

Cruz lies about his tax plan

This is no surprise. All politicians lie. Most of them lie a lot about budget issues. So, despite what Cruz' idiotic adoring fans think, Cruz has told some whoppers about his tax plan. I got the scoop from Vox, and checked it out myself.

Cruz has a plan that favors the wealthy to an incredible degree. It starts with a flat 10% income tax. It eliminates payroll taxes. Both of these may sound great to working and middle classes, but they shouldn't celebrate yet. Cruz also proposes a 19% national sales tax which he pretends is a replacement for business taxes. This will hit consumers very hard, but it's a type of tax that's very popular with conservatives. They want to tax as much consumption as possible, saying that then the drug dealers and other criminals will have to pay taxes too.

Will this bring in enough money? Of course not. So Cruz, abetted by the Tax Foundation, waves a magic wand and predicts astonishing levels of job growth and wage growth.

Do his supporters know about his tax plan? Not that I've ever seen among his supporters/commenters on the threads I read. But even if they did know, they'd probably blindly have faith. The growth will happen. It happens every time a true conservative is in the White House. DON'T YOU KNOW THAT!!!!!


Short: Jamelle Bouie speaks truth to starry-eyed Dems

I'm cleaning up my browser and clearing out some interesting stories I read over the past few months. However, this is just from yesterday.

Jamelle Boiue, a black political columnist, tries to explain to all those starry-eyed idealist what is going to happen if a Democrat wins the presidency in 2016. The unwelcome news: Even their beloved Bernie can't change the dynamic enough.

Please read the whole thread. I almost feel like I could have written it.

The phenomenon of Trump support

Some seem to support Trump because he perfectly encapsulates their anger. They're angry at immigrants, at Muslims, at leaders who are 'losers,' at Obamacare, at Obama, at George Bush, etc. These supporters love it when Trump insults others. Maybe they are rage addicts, and he's their daily dose.

Then were are others who feel Trump is on their side, at least somewhat, and won't sell them out as so many other politicians have--making promises and not delivering for them and their class. I don't know why they think Trump will be different except that he's already rich, and therefore won't sell them out to become richer. He says he won't do that, but what makes it more believable from him than from countless others?

I don't totally understand the attraction Trump has for the second group, though I grasp it a bit. There is certainly reason to doubt that the GOP will follow through on their promises, especially promises to make the economy better for the little guy. The GOP has provided much more constituent service to business owners who want to keep wages and benefits low. They've done it by opposing more regulation, mandatory health insurance, and by not working toward enforcement of immigration law. The GOP helps businesses on labor issues (with de facto support of immigrant labor) by reneging on implicit promises to and screwing over the little guy wage earner. And the GOP has chosen the business guy again and again.

So I get Trump's popularity. I'm not sure what Trump means for the future of the Republican party. It's not surprising if the GOP business elite is finally losing control. They've let blowhard talk radio jocks be the spokesmen and missionaries, and maybe they're finally going to pay the price for that.

Or possibly they'll just pay a short-term price until things go back to normal: would be better to effectively rent the party to Mr. Trump for four months this fall, through the general election, than risk turning it over to Mr. Cruz for at least four years, as either the president or the next-in-line leader for the 2020 nomination.
What an excellent insight, though it may not be true. Maybe that's a third way Trump is attractive. In a no-win situation, he'll do less harm than the other potential nominees. He'll let those in the mines blow off some steam, and then will fade away as quickly as Mondale did.

Perhaps there's even another way he is attractive, captured by this quote: "I can’t stand Trump, but I love what he’s doing." And what is he doing that is exciting or admirable? Maybe it's calling out all the political hypocrites (except himself, of course). There are lots to be called out, and it's good that someone is doing it. However, that attraction isn't going to last because the seams in his own ideas will begin to fray with all his vigorous denunciations of all the rest of those hypocrites. How will it happen and how soon? Damned if I know. But it'll be exciting to watch.


Extras. Great reads about Trump: Is Trump disproving the theory that the party decides? If so, how and why is it happening? (From Nate Silver.) The GOP has no intelligence on Trump because they are completely cut off from his supporters. That's a risky position to be in. A sampling of readers of Dreher, many of who are religious, and why even they like the philandering, foul-mouthed gambling czar.

Slow motion, preventable tragedy in Michigan

So Flint, Michigan went from having drinkable water to water that was poisonous. The Flint water has caused rashes, smelled and tasted foul, corroded metal parts at a local factory, and increased lead levels in children. This is not what most of us aspire to--to go backwards into greater danger due to unhygienic conditions.

I'm not a fan of endless improvements, especially those that are minor, time-consuming, and mandated without regard to the cost imposed. And, believe me since I work in healthcare, I live with a lot of time-consuming, mandated requirements.

However, safe drinking water is one of the banner achievements of our society. Its loss, in a stupid and wanton way, is a reminder of how necessary regulations are. Somehow, all the clean water regulations in the country and in Michigan didn't prevent this preventable mistake.

I know hardly anything about water regulations, so I don't know if regulations were ignored, or maybe loopholes used. But having worked in bureaucratic organizations, I can imagine that some people knew this water change was a very bad idea, yet they were overruled or not listened to. And maybe someone (a cog in the machine, like me) rubberstamped the changes and they went ahead.

I pray that I'm strong enough to stand up if I'm ever in this situation, but I'm not confident I would be. And I don't know a fail-safe answer either. After all, weren't there already fail-safe regulations already in place, yet this still occurred?

If this was your house, your bath, your water...

Extra. Details (but readable) about the chemistry of water treatment.

Update 2/13/16. Emails warning not to do this. I wish there were more details in the emails about why.

Update 2/26/16. Similar news story, but still not clear as to warnings.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Last outpost of crazy: Stubby

This is so weird:
Good grief. With a response like this you'd think I asked Mr @realDonaldTrump abt the length of his fingers or something important like that
That's a tweet from a Republican senator who isn't a fan of Trump. I'm not sure which response he refers to, though it doesn't seem to come from Trump, but instead from someone with the handle AmericanSunlight.

So what's this about Donald Trump's fingers? The not-very-forgiving Mr. Trump has acted childishly for over 20 years over a comment about his fingers. (As Dave Barry would say, I am not making this up.)

So what was the senator's offense? Tweeting some pointed questions, though not nearly enough of them. But I'm still not sure how the questions relate to the Donald's fingers.

One other interesting point: this senator seems to prefer the rather unpopular Cruz to Trump. It seemed like more senators are leaning the other way, with Cruz being the persona non grata. Damned if I can figure this out. But nonetheless, I'll repeat the taunt against Trump:

Image: @mooshakins

Saturday, January 23, 2016

He who must be defeated

For some GOP/conservative voices, he who must be defeated is either 1) Donald Trump, or 2) Ted Cruz.

National Review had an all anti-Trump edition. Let's see--the complaints against Trump are: his boorish behavior, doubts about his conservatism, doubts about his policies should he win, his ego, his lack of understanding about constitutional rights, etc. After reading all these critiques by conservatives, it's a good idea to read of a critique of their critiques. Jonathan Chait skewers the complainers, and throws all the criticism back at them--it's a fun read!

But maybe Cruz is even worse. National Review didn't say so, but some luminaries among the GOP did. That list starts with Sen. Orrin Hatch, Iowa governor Terry Branstad, Sen. Dan Coats, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, and finishes with has-beens John McCain, Lindsay Graham, and Bob Dole.

If you really hate one or the other, it's not hard to jump on one of these bandwagons. But what do you do if you're terrified of both Trump and Cruz? How do you decide who is the bigger menace to the GOP? Evidently, not even the GOP knows how to decide that. (Not that I have an answer--I have no fucking idea why either is such a threat other than the famous observation that suckers are born every minute.)

Enemy No. 1

Extras. Another witty, delightful column by Jonathan Chait with a heart-warming chuckle at the end. Don't worry, be happy. Also, Donald the newbie to bigotry. I guess Donald wins the prize for column-inches, clicks, and news-minutes.

Update 1/24/16. Two more articles worth reading. The best and clearest article states that purists, pundits, ideologues, and heads of ideological organizations support Cruz and want to defeat Trump (because he's a loose cannon and private operator who might do anything, even something liberal). The people who want to be able to make deals, that is, the operatives, lobbyists, and pragmatic elected officials, remember Cruz shutting down the government and aiming at default, and they rather work with someone who'll make deals, so Trump is less scary. So that's the breakdown of who and why. For a few extra anecdotes and fun quotes, read this article too.

Update 1/30/16. This excellent readable article does a better job explaining why conservatives shouldn't support Trump than National Review did. Of course, it does that by telling how conservatives keep on being duped. NR can't exactly say that.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Crazy GOP nominee now looks likely

There's a theory that the GOP movers and shakers choose the nominee, and the primaries are kabuki or smoke signals within that process. Readers of Bernstein know this as 'the party decides' thesis. It explains why the GOP nominee is squishier than the base of Limbaugh dittoheads would like: McCain in 2008 and Romney in 2012.

This year might be the year when the squishes get their comeuppance, and a real conservative (TM) wins. Right now, it looks to me as though Trump will win. His support had a few small dips, but then he surged back stronger than before. Cruz is running a fairly close second, though he's less popular outside the Bible Belt.

None of the establishment candidates (Bush, Rubio, Christie, or Kasich) is even a close third. For one of them to win, he would have to surge pretty quickly, and time is running out. Iowa is 2/1, New Hampshire is 2/9, South Carolina is 2/20, and Nevada is 2/23. Then a glut of primaries on Super Tuesday, 3/1.

But while writing this, perhaps I'm changing my mind. There may be time even after the March 1 primaries to change the overall direction. However, in the recent past, the direction was set early, before Super Tuesday. Maybe this year the contestants will be slugging it out all through March and April. That would certainly be exciting.

But if the GOP follows the usual pattern, we'll know the leader and the eventual winner by the end of February. If that's true this time, it will be one of the crazies, either Trump or Cruz. God help us.


Extras. From a couple weeks ago, and feeling dated, two views on how Trump will lose. From Vox, Trump has momentum only while winning. Once he starts losing, the magic fizzles and the tantrums start. From Ross Douthat at the NY Times, the race will come down to three, and the establishment candidate will then win. Among the less sure, I'm not the only person who sees Trump as a possibility now.  Plus, another great image.


Update 3/9/16. We still don't know who the nominee will be, but the establishment candidate are bringing up the rear. The crazies are the leaders. Interesting times. 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Conservative media lies again

No big surprise. There's a splashy headline and then other assorted (and sordid) lies. This time it's the Washington Examiner. Here's the headline:

Details on Bill Clinton's ride on pedophile's 'Lolita Express' sought

Here's another probable lie:
According to news reports, the former president took several flights on the jet to the Epstein's island, and at least on one was accompanied by "4 secret service," according to a flight logbook first reported on by
Amazingly, there's actually a link to a different story, this time at Gawker. However, the Gawker story makes no claims that Bill Clinton flew to Epstein's island. Instead, the plane was used on a "week-long anti-poverty and anti-AIDS tour of Africa." More important is the link from the Gawker article to actual flight logs.

If you check out the flight logs, as I did and the reporters at Gawker did, you don't find anything about Clinton going to some private island--only airports like those in Hong Kong, Portugal, Mozambique, Miami, and White Plains. So it looks like the Washington Examiner claimed something for which it had absolutely no evidence--in other words, THEY LIED. Well, surprise, surprise. I'll put this in the vault next to the conservative media lying about Shirley Sherrod, where Obama was born, and the millions of other lies they disseminate like plague.


Update 7/9/16. This isn't about the Epstein Lolita Perv Island lie, but a new, different lie. As usual, I read about the issue in a throw-away comment from a conservative troll. Supposedly, a gun that was run down to Mexico in the Fast and Furious scandal was used in the Paris massacres. Except that the source information doesn't say that at all. One of the guns used in Paris was traced to a dealer in Phoenix who might have been involved in Fast and Furious though there is no direct evidence that this is true. Well, the conservative lie machine can't let that stop them, can they? Of course not.

Update 12/29/17. The Washington Examiner, that rag that pretends it's a news site, had an editorial about accuracy in reporting. Hahahahaha. Unfortunately, no comment thread where I can blast them.

Update 7/9/19. Jeffery Epstein is now facing the charges on trafficking underage girls. Bill Clinton hasn't been named in charges and neither has Trump. However, speculation abounds. The Miami Herald has been following it most closely, but there's this interesting piece from Vanity Fair. And a brilliant takedown of one of the prosecutors lame explanations. How to stop the spin cold!

Update 7/13/19. Many connected to the case and the sweetheart deal are now under scrutiny.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Big Trump-like gesture

Wow, this is a funny story. On the one hand, I'm surprised I haven't seen this before. On the other hand, our political campaigns are definitely getting crazier, and this is just one of the signs of the times.

What happened? This happened:

Image: @RawStory

It happened during the Rose Parade on January 1. Yes, that huge, beautiful parade with all the floats decorated with flower petals. The insult was even bigger than Trump, and that doesn't happen all that often. I don't know whether to congratulate the person who did this or fall asleep for 20 years in hopes of waking to a saner time. What next?

Extra. Oh, by the way, Jews did it.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Year in review 2015

Again, here are my favorite images from my blog in 2015. A good vintage, but not outstanding.

Visceral fear brought to us by technology.

A poignant reminder that you interpret in your
 own way.

A wacky collage that I love every time I see it.

                                                                                     I felt I was seeing through others' eyes.