Saturday, October 21, 2017

Think Gen. Kelly Isn't Just Another Politician Who Ignores Facts

False Attack Because He Didn't Know the Facts (Or Didn't Care)

In the midst of the lionization of Gen. John Kelly, Chief of Staff in the White House comes a true story which shows just what kind of man he is. From the AP is a report that completely contradicts Kelly's depiction of an event a Democratic Congresswoman who had the temerity to criticize Trump on his call to a Gold Star family.

John Kelly said she stunned the audience at the somber ceremony by recounting how she had been the driving force behind raising money for the building, the FBI's South Florida headquarters. But a video of her remarks at the dedication shows she never took credit for getting the government to come up with the money for the project. Indeed, the building was approved several years before she entered Congress.

Now people make mistakes. A decent person would apologize and move on. But that cannot be done by anyone associated with Trump. The Trumpie corrupts everyone around him. And in this case there is no spin, just the facts and the video to back them up.

KELLY: "And a congresswoman stood up, and in a long tradition of empty barrels making the most noise, stood up there in all of that and talked about how she was instrumental in getting the funding for that building, and how she took care of her constituents because she got the money, and she just called up President Obama, and on that phone call, he gave the money, the $20 million, to build the building, and she sat down. And we were stunned, stunned that she'd done it. Even for someone that is that empty a barrel, we were stunned."
THE FACTS: Kelly's recollection is incorrect. In her nine-minute speech at the April 10, 2015, dedication ceremony, a video of which was found by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Wilson never mentions the building's financing.
She did, though, spend up to three minutes talking about an effort she did lead — to have the building named after the special agents, Ben Grogan and Jerry Dove, who were killed in a 1986 gun battle in Miami. She recounted how she was asked by the FBI four weeks earlier to expedite a bill through Congress to name the building after Grogan and Dove. She said the process normally takes eight months to a year.
"I went into attack mode," she told the audience. She said she approached then-Speaker John Boehner, telling him "the FBI needs your help and our country needs your help." She said Boehner got the bill to the House floor for a vote in two days. She said she then rushed the bill to Florida Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, who got the bill passed by that chamber two days later. President Barack Obama signed the bill three days before the dedication ceremony. The audience responded with loud applause.
"It's a miracle but it speaks to the respect that our Congress has for the Federal Bureau of Investigation," she said.
She then asked all first responders to stand so they could receive applause.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Justice in Virginia Like It's 1955

Just a Regular Headline from the Washington Post

Time travel is alive and well. For example, one can go back to mid 20th century bigotry and hatred in Virginia and find this headline.

Black man attacked by white supremacists in Charlottesville faces felony charge

Yes, it seems that inVirginia anyone an file a police report and then go to a magistrate and get a warrant issued. This particularly applies to white men who attack African Americans and then want the victim prosecuted for, well you know, getting in the way of a fist or a club or a gun.

The black man beaten in a Charlottesville parking garage by white supremacists after a “Unite the Right” rally has been charged with a crime in connection with the incident, even as police continue searching for some of the people who kicked him to the ground and pummeled him.
A local magistrate issued an arrest warrant Monday for DeAndre Harris on a charge of unlawful wounding after a man, identified by Harris’s attorney as Harold Ray Crews, reported that he was injured by the 20-year-old during the August brawl. Crews, who describes himself as a “Southern Nationalist” and an attorney on Twitter, did not return phone calls seeking comment.

But not to worry, Pence and Trumpie will be right on this as soon as they deal with the terrible problem of football players kneeling when the national anthem is played.

Trump's “Administration of Lies” Spreads to Economic Theory

Cutting Corporate Taxes Will Raise Employee Compensation – Huh?

One result of the election of an individual totally unqualified to be dogcatcher, much less President is that public officials are no longer held to the truth in supporting their policy proposals. So it is not really a surprise that the economic advisers in the administration go out and lie about the effect of cutting corporate taxes will have on employee compensation.

In a sign of how heavily the administration will lean on the argument, the president said last week in a speech in Pennsylvania that the proposal would “likely give the typical American household a $4,000 pay raise,” citing his Council of Economic Advisers.

The council is led by Kevin Hassett, an economist whose academic work has argued that high corporate tax rates hurt workers, and that when those tax rates fall, worker incomes rise sharply. The Monday report is the council’s first published study on the potential effects of the tax proposal.

How exactly does that happen? Maybe like this. When corporate taxes go down CEO's all around the country gather and say things like “You know, we have all this extra money now. Instead of increasing our pay or giving it to shareholders let's raise hourly rates and salaries of our middle managers. They deserve it and besides we have a lot of money anyway and the increased profits are just a windfall.” Yep, that's sure to be what happens.

The interesting thing is that the report this garbage is based on contradicts it in its first sentence.

The report begins with a declaration that “wage growth in America has stagnated,” even as corporate profits have soared, because “the relationship between corporate profits and worker compensation broke down in the late 1980s.”

That's right, for the last several decades corporate profits have sharply increased while real wages have been stagnant. So increasing corporate profits will increase wages? Right.  As for the economics, take a look at any college text on the subject and try to find this idiocy.

Sen. Lindsey Graham Sheds The Last Remnants of His Dignity

Not That He Had Much to Lose

Lindsey Graham, the senior senator from South Carolina has sometimes, not always but sometimes been an honest critic of the administration. In the campaign he called out Trumper for what he was. This summer he stated that he would not vote for health care reform that was just pushed through the Senate with no hearings or debate.

But apparently enthralled by being close to the Presidency he has completely caved. He urged the Senate to pass a bill without any consideration solely because his name was now on the bill. And instead of telling it like it is on the President he is now his golf buddy.

Graham may well be afraid that Bannon the Destroyer will support a primary campaign against him. But it was once thought craven political ambition was less a part of his DNA than it is in his fellows. But Lindsey has now gone out of his way to show that he is just as bad as the rest of them.   

Thursday, October 19, 2017

General Kelly Allows the Death of His Son in Combat to Become a Political Talking Point for Trumpie

Gen. Kelly Joins Others Who Give Up All of Their Self-Respect

Update:  Gen. Kelly has just come out with a strong defense of Trump and his call to the family of a fallen soldier.  This is just sad, just terribly sad.  This man has let a disrespectful President use the death of General Kelly's son for political purposes and has dishonored himself.  It is hard to believe that the pursuit of influence in the White House would lead a man to humiliate himself in this way.

The General also talked about how women used to be 'sacred'.  Turn around General, look at the man you are currently defending and enabling

Anger evolves into sadness when people like Gen. John Kelly, current Chief of Staff in the White House so adore their political positions that they will accept any humiliation and any injection into their personal lives. General Kelly's son died in Afghanistan. It was a horrific loss, as horrific as every other loss of life by the military in a situation that is not tenable in the long run. General Kelly has kept this very private, as is his right.

But Trumpie, who cannot touch anything without it turning to shit, used Gen. Kelly's son to make a political point. To build himself up Trump constantly tears down Obama, and in this case his strategy was to claim that Obama had no outreach to the families of fallen soldiers. And so he invited reporters to talk to Gen. Kelly and ask him what Obama had done. Of course it turned out Obama had Gen. Kelly seated next to him at a memorial meeting for families who had lost sons and daughters and spouses.

For Gen. Kelly now is the time to show courage and leave Trump. For the nation it is just another reason to recognize what the nation has placed in its highest office. And we say 'what', not 'whom' deliberately.

The Ultimate Word on the Stupidity of Suspending Cost Sharing Payments for Health Insurance

From Nicholas Bagley at TIE

When Someone Else Says It Better Than We Can We Print Them

Over at The Incidental Economist, a great health care forum, law professor Nicholas Bagley explans the idiocy of the administration's decision to end cost reduction payment to insurance companies. Here is his summary.

So taxpayers will have to pay increased premium subsidies at the front end. Then they’ll also pay the cost-sharing money through litigation at the back end. It’s a financial bath, and for no good reason other than sheer political cussedness.
What a stupid, profligate, and unnecessary mess.

The issue straight forward legally is this. Congress required the payments by law. Because Congress did not appropriate money for the payments the President could and did suspend them. But because we live in a nation of laws the insurance companies can go to court, get their payments and the appropriations issue will not stand in the way of a court ordered payment.

All we are left with is higher costs for everybody, and less health care for low and middle income families. That second thing, of course is what the Republicans always wanted.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Believe It or Not – A Cretin Even Bigger Than Donald Trump in Treatment of Women

Vindication for All Those Who Said Trumpie Was Not the Worst; Terrible But Not the Worst

No comments needed on this story from the WaPo.

Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, already suspected of decades of sexual harassment, came under withering fire Tuesday with a new report accusing him of raping three women he had worked with during his long tenure as one of Hollywood’s most powerful figures.

The new report in the New Yorker magazine was followed within hours by a second article in the New York Times that included accounts from actresses Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie about Weinstein’s harassment of them early in their careers.

The World is Beginning to Understand – The U. S. Will Not Fight Other Nation's Battles

Even If It Wanted To – Which It Does Not

It is no longer 1941. It is no longer 1945. The world military situation is shaped by events since then. And that situation is that despite the fact that the United States has a far more powerful armed forces than any other nation, or even a bunch of nations combined, the United States is not going to fight global wars.

The Saudi's are considering not taking their state oil company, Saudi Aramco, public. A major reason for the change in stated in a Financial Times blog.

In common with many other countries traditionally dependent on the superpower role of the US, the Saudis are beginning to realise that the United States simply cannot be relied upon as their ultimate defender. The realisation started under President Obama who made clear that the US did not want any further involvement in foreign wars. In Libya after the fall of Colonel Gaddafi the US said it would do no more than “lead from behind”. Under President Trump that sense of disengagement has been compounded by the realisation that US decision making is erratic and unreliable. Even a warm embrace can turn out to be meaningless.

There are many reasons why the U. S. is not and will not be a global military power. Nuclear weapons is one, the aging of the U. S. population is another. A third is the politics, the nation no longer has a stomach for massive foreign intervention and instead operates on the stealth in many countries.

Reality, there will be no more Vietnam's, no more Iraqi type wars. This will be tragic in many cases because of massive human rights violations that will take place. But World, you're on your own.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Justice Department Investigating Reverse Discrimination at the College Level

White Folks Must be the Victims – Just Look at Any Big College Campus

Since the 1960's the Justice Department has pursued, well, justice. The institutions in the United States had openly discriminated against minorities, primarily African Americans. All of us are proud of what the government did to correct what in effect was segregated higher education.

Now the Sessions Justice Department lead by a man so bigoted that he could not be confirmed as a federal judge because of his bigotry is continuing the tradition of confronting discrimination. Well, maybe not.

A Federal Investigation Into ‘Reverse-Discrimination’ at Harvard

The Justice Department appears to be looking into whether the Ivy League institution discriminates against certain applicants based on their race.

Okay, that sounds good. Finally the horrific bias against white folks will be corrected. That's right, the Attorney General is terribly concerned that white people suffer discrimination. How could he get such an impression. Well we presume the AG watches Alabama football and concludes that the racial make up of the football team reflects that of the University.

No People – Bob Corker is Not a Hero – Just Another Hard Right Wing Senator

Who Doesn't Care How Many People His Positions Harm

Under the rubric “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” a lot of folks are praising retiring Senator Bob Corker (R, Tn) for his attacks on the Trumpster. These people have just disregarded Corker's voting record. Far from being an independent thinker, Corker just parrots and votes the straight right wing way.

The man has no accomplishments in the Senate, he will soon leave and not even be a footnote in history. His legacy will be mixed in with those who think government should help the wealthy and harm the rest of the population. He is Trump with a southern accent.

Trump and Republicans Flat Out Blatantly Lie on Cost Sharing Reduction Payments

GOP Goes Beyond Spin

Health care and health insurance is complicated, as Trumpie found out once he started paying slight attention to the area. Here, as simply as possible, is the truth on Cost Sharing Reduction Payments (CSR).

When the ACA was adopted it provided for reduced deductibles and co-pays for low to middle income families for their insurance policies. The mechanism was for their insurance company to fund the reductions and then for the insurance company to be reimbursed by the government. This reimbursement requirement is law, nothing unclear about it.

But Congress, in their usual ineptitude did not provide for permanent appropriations to make the payments. So a judge ruled they could not be made. But they are still a legal obligation of the government.

So basically the insurance companies will have to go to court, which they will, to get their money. And they will get their money, the law is clear. So no, this is not subsidization of insurance companies, this is not a bail out. This is simply the government paying what it owes.

As for what the Republicans are saying on this issue, it just confirms that their strategy is that when they are wrong they just lie, lie, lie. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Football Player Russel Okung Shows Courage, Humility and Grace

Calls for Players to Be an Active, Positive Force

Some NFL players were silently, peacefully and gracefully protesting the killing of unarmed African Americans by police. The start was made by a San Francisco player named Colin Kaepernick, who was blacklisted from the NFL for his efforts.

Russell Okung of the Los Angeles Chargers before an exhibition game in August. CreditJohn Hefti/Associated Press

Now another player has spoken up. Russel Okung is a Los Angeles Charger who has written an open letter to his fellow players. The first thing he did, the thing that gives him credibility is that he admists to being wrong.

Things have clearly gotten out of control. As a pragmatist, I will admit, I initially doubted the merits of Colin Kaepernick’s protest and questioned his strategy.

I was wrong.

There is now no doubt in my mind that what he did last season was a courageous, prophetic, self-sacrificial act that has captivated a nation and inspired a powerful movement.

If I had his cellphone number, I would tell him that.

That makes his message powerful. And the message is for the players to act as Americans, to communicate as one in a peaceful and powerful voice. Would that Trump and Pence learn from his quiet dignity.

Is There Still a Democratic Party?

Near Total Absence on the National Media Would Suggest Maybe Not

One of the most important things a political party can do is to be visible, to make itself and its positions known to the American voter. Republicans and their media lapdog Fox News do a great job of this. Democrats don't even both to show up.  It's not that so many people watch the shows, it that they get reported on Monday and get publicity for the people that speak.

On the Sunday morning news shows Republicans dominate. Is the problem that there are no leaders of Democrats to show up and defend their policies, or that there are just no policies to defend?  Democrats are certainly invited but just fail to show up. If they lose in 2018 and 2020, they have only themselves to blame.   

Sunday, October 15, 2017

A Courageous Letter to the NYT From Amy Farah Fowler

Otherwise Known as the Wonderful Actress Mayim Bialik

In the midst of the chaos that is the revelation that Harvey Weinstein is the biggest pig in Hollywood, a designation not easily achieved is a great piece in the NYT from an actress who portrays a character on The Big Bang Theory.

Mayim Bialik is a real person. She looks like a real person. After a successful career as a child actor she left the entertainment business to obtain a Ph D. in a difficult science area. She returned to acting to great acclaim as the girlfriend of Sheldon Cooper in a hit TV series. She writes of the pain of not being one of the glamorous people.

I grew up constantly being teased about my appearance, even from members of my family; my nose and chin were the main objects of discussion. As a teenager I started obsessing over the possibility of a nose job so that I would look more like Danica McKellar, with a chin job to balance things out. Soon I wondered if I should get breast implants to look more like Christina Applegate, who got so much attention for her curves. I consistently felt like a troll compared to many of my contemporaries. A “TV Guide” critic described me, in a review of the pilot episode of “Blossom,” as having a “shield-shaped” face of “mismatched features.” I never recovered from seeing myself that way.

A beautiful young actress

This should never happen in America. The nation is built on the principal of the supremacy of the individual and personal appearance has no place in the evaluation of a person, Trumpie be damned. Ms Bialik rightfully condemns Hollywood and more rightly calls on the nation to change.

I believe that we can change our culture, but it won’t be something that happens overnight. We live in a society that has treated women as disposable playmates for far longer than Mr. Weinstein has been meeting ingĂ©nues in luxury hotel rooms.
One major bright spot: We are seeing more women taking on prominent roles behind the camera. Women like Jenji Kohan and Jill Soloway are showing the kinds of female characters on their shows that we all know in real life but never got to see on TV. And more women and men are waking up to the fact that it is on us all to sound the alarm on unacceptable behavior.

In the meantime, I plan to continue to work hard to encourage young women to cultivate the parts of themselves that may not garner them money and fame. If you are beautiful and sexy, terrific. But having others celebrate your physical beauty is not the way to lead a meaningful life.

And a beautiful young lady in red

Saturday, October 14, 2017

How Stupid is the Decision to Eliminate CSR Payments?

Stupid to the Tune of $31 Billion in Additional Taxpayer Costs

The idiocracy that is the current Presidency is stopping the cost reduction payments required under ACA.  These payments reimburse insurance companies for lower the co-pays and deductibles required for low and middle income families.  They are required by law but since Congress has not appropriated the money to pay them a Federal judge has ruled they cannot be made if the President doesn't want to make them.  And now he says he don't.

But instead of saving money the move will be highly expensive.  From a forum by Charles Gaba.

Thanks to David Anderson of Balloon Juice for calling my attention to this analysis done by the Kaiser Family Foundation back in April which took a different methodolgical approach to this very scenario...and came to the following conclusion:
Any systematic increase in premiums for silver marketplace plans (including the benchmark plan) would increase the size of premium tax credits. The increased tax credits would completely cover the increased premium for subsidized enrollees covered through the benchmark plan and cushion the effect for enrollees signed up for more expensive silver plans. Enrollees who apply their tax credits to other tiers of plans (i.e., bronze, gold, and platinum) would also receive increased premium tax credits even though they do not qualify for reduced cost-sharing and the underlying premiums in their plans might not increase at all.
We estimate that the increased cost to the federal government of higher premium tax credits would actually be 23% more than the savings from eliminating cost-sharing reduction payments. For fiscal year 2018, that would result in a net increase in federal costs of $2.3 billion. Extrapolating to the 10-year budget window (2018-2027) using CBO’s projection of CSR payments, the federal government would end up spending $31 billion more if the payments end.
This assumes that insurers would be willing to stay in the market if CSR payments are eliminated.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Democrats Moving From Reality to Fantasy Land Think They Can Take the Senate in 2018

Think They Can Take the Senate in 2018

Dems Are the Child Left Behind at School; Just Cannot Do Math

In 2018 the math for the U. S. Senate is strongly in favor of the Republicans. Only a few are up for re-election while there are a huge number of Democratic Senators who will face tough fights. Victory for the Democrats would not be taking control of the Senate, it would be limiting losses to 2 or 3 seats.

But Politico is reporting delusions of grandeur by the Democratic party. Consider this headline from their site.

Democrats see path to Senate majority in 2018

The odds remain long for a takeover, but Republicans are still growing concerned.

Sorry Dems, there is no path, there is no yellow brook road, there is only a road to nowhere as far as winning the Senate is concerned. See to win elections you need good candidates, money and a favorable electorate. In all the Republican states none of this is apparent.

WTF -From the WaPo

The decision to charge DeAndre Harris in the Charlottesville parking garage attack that left him badly wounded is just the latest sign of how crazy our world has become.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The United States is Not Good at Soccer – And That's OK

Let Other Folks Compete Once in a While

The sporting news is aghast that America has not qualified for the World Cup Soccer Championship.

Trinidad and Tobago, whose World Cup dreams ended months ago, stunned the United States, 2-1, on Tuesday night. The result, combined with just-as-shocking outcomes in two simultaneous games in Honduras and Panama on the final day of qualifying for the Concacaf region, ushered in the unthinkable: The American men, mainstays of the World Cup for more than a generation, are out of next summer’s tournament in Russia.
Instead, Panama, which rallied from a one-goal deficit for a 2-1 win over Costa Rica, will join the Ticos and Mexico in Russia. It will be Panama’s first trip to the World Cup.

So no big deal, really no big deal. Soccer is popular in the U. S. but it is not a dominant sport. It is a great sport for young boys and girls because it is relatively safe, does not require expensive equipment, is easy to learn and everybody can play and contribute. But that doesn't mean the nation must dominate the sport, or even be able to compete in international competition.

See other countries matter, and if they are more dedicated to the sport let them enjoy their success. Beside the critical issue in sports in America is not winning, it is whether or not employers can force their employees to stand for the national anthem. Forced patriotism, that's what it's all about now.

Problems Accelerate in Europe

While Americans Obsess Over the Petty

This post does not denigrate the protests by professional athletes who are concerned over racial justice and other issues in the nation. Those protests are legal, appropriate and heartfelt. But the President has made them into an issue of division in his attempt to divide America into Us and Them. And in doing so he has elevated the protests into being a greater issue than is appropriate without creating the focus on the issues, which are the really important things.

And even worse, America's infatuation with the fatuous is obscuring the nation's focus on where it should be, which among other things is the growing concern about Europe. That area is becoming a serious mess.

Britain is struggling with an ill advised decision by the electorate to leave the EU. The Prime Minister is weak and ineffective. Scotland is still talking about leaving and the Conservative party is so bad that it is elevating an offensive and myopic Labour leader to prominence.

France elected a young dynamic leader, and then when he tried to implement the policies he ran on the electorate deserted him.

Germany is split, and for the first time in the post war era neo-Nazi hard line right wingers will enter the national legislature. It is not clear yet how Merkel will be able to form a coalition government.

Poland is falling further under the sway of right wing nationalists who are destroying some democratic norms in the country.

Hungary has for several years been controlled by xenophobic right wing leaders who also are enemies of democracy.

Turkey, which could have been a great member of Europe, a democratic Muslim majority nation, is now subject to a sectarian dictator who has destroyed any hope that Turkey would be a constructive member of the EU. That Turkey could join the EU is now just a fantasy.

Finally, Spain's government reacted in the worst way possible to the effort in Catalonia to hold a referendum on independence. Instead of just ignoring the voting the Spanish government violently attacked its own citizens and probably intensified the crisis.

But in the U. S, focus is on a stunt driven VP who thinks the American people are so stupid that they can be fooled by a pre-planned drama. Ok, maybe his followers are that stupid.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Something is Rotten in the Manhattan's D. A. Office

They let Ivanka Trump and siblings escape prosecution.

They let Harvey Weinstein off after there was tape of his sexually assaulting a woman.

This needs to be investigated.