The Tax Gut

Well guess what! “The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center is the third outside group to conclude that the bill would add to the deficit, contradicting Republicans’ claim that the bill would effectively pay for itself via a surge in economic growth.” And actually it would cost $1.34 trillion, But all you good Republicans cast stones once again at the “tax and spend” Democrats, who actually tax to spend so we don’t crater. There is no free ride. Now conservative Republicans used to push discipline and moral character and now they go neither.

Here is the thing I have been banging away at, the Republicans, when it comes to economic policy for our future, got nothing. Their free ride schemes of flow down (supply side economics) and the market place will solve all problems is a fantasy sold like snake oil to the gullible who want theirs now and fuck the future. This is discipline and fiscal responsibility? And as much as I dislike President Clinton, let’s remember when he raised taxes and the Republicans screamed the sky is falling they did not, and the economy grew.

I don’t doubt that many Republicans who spout their spiel about the tax gut believe what they are saying, but it is a religion based upon faith in a miracle that the real world tells us, does not happen. Think about it as a drug. You take this drug and all of a sudden the world is so simple. Hell, cut taxes and the miracle economy will take off. Hell, just leave the market place alone and it will solve health care,. Global warming? Balderdash! Just minor fluctuations in the weather no different than in our past. Hell, just build a a Wall because we would have high wages if all those “others” weren’t coming in! Trade agreements? Who needs trade agreements! Infrastructure? The market place will take care of that!

The drug takes the complexity out of the world and everything is simple. The world was meant to be Christian and we just need a Christian government led by Roy Moore. Remember Jim Jones? Republicans and many in the middle are drinking the Kool Aid and will soon find that when you have destroyed the planet and the economy, death isn’t so bad.

I like to think that our problems are not hard, but they are complex. We already know the solutions to most of them. And they are not free. We have dug a hole and now some of us are going to have to sacrifice. Health care has to be universal. Global warming is here and we have to invest both in ameliorating its effects and harden our infrastructure for what we can stop. Immigrants of all education and economic backgrounds are vital to our economy. Tax reform? We have to figure out what we want, and then restructure the tax code to pay for it with a manageable debt. Corporations don’t pay too much in taxes, but some small businesses do so lets find parity. And guess what? People like me might actually have to pay more. It is called investing in our country for our children.

So there is no trickle down pill to take. There are no “others” that cause all our problems. Global warming is not going away. Economic inequality will not stop growing until we restructure out economy, not make the wealthy wealthier. We are all going to have to pitch in and invest in our future. Snake oil won’t work. Republicans got nothing and neither does anyone else if you think this is easy or we can just look the other way. Time to dig in and do the hard work. Remember that old cliché, No pain, no gain? Yep, it’s true.

Climate Change, Automobiles, and Other Random Thoughts

Climate change is up there with my big two issues that is threatening life as we know it. The other is economic inequality. And they are related. I have frequently said that capitalism is what pulled us and most country’s standard of living up, but unregulated it is an unmitigated disaster. The comes this thoughtful essay from the Stone basically looking at climate change as the result of capitalism itself:

The real culprit of the climate crisis is not any particular form of consumption, production or regulation but rather the very way in which we globally produce, which is for profit rather than for sustainability. So long as this order is in place, the crisis will continue and, given its progressive nature, worsen. This is a hard fact to confront. But averting our eyes from a seemingly intractable problem does not make it any less a problem. It should be stated plainly: It’s capitalism that is at fault.

I have no argument with his statement. These people who control our corporations and industries are making decisions that are neither stupid or evil, but based upon the rules of their game. The essay goes on to suggest that the problem is not technical, but political. Capitalism itself has to be tamed. Now you know why Republicans deny Global Warming.

Next up is cars, and in particular driverless cars. Did you know that we now kill more people in cars than we do with guns? Speed, texting, and plain stupidity are killing people. So some are hoping that driverless cars can be our salvation. I personally would love to get in my car, dial in the destination, and catch up on emails. But here is what I worry about, and not a failure of the technology, but the failure of my fellow human beings. Won’t there be at least one nut job who is in a hurray and is swerving in an out of all the driverless cars doing the speed limit? Won’t they in their fog of superiority try to check their texts? As with driving on a two lane highway, we are always at the mercy of the lowest common denominator.

Finally, on my flight to San Diego, why do I always get the seat behind the nut job who has to put his seat back? We are already crammed into the seats and then clueless, the nut in front of you reduces the space more, The world is full of careless thoughtless people.

Okay, I lied, there is one more thing I want to talk about. D.J. Dione wrote this morning about the Democrats having to quit waring with themselves (Beltway politicians) and see what is going on out in the country.

And what do leading Washington Democrats want to do? They would have us engage in the “move left” vs. “move to the center” squabbles that have obsessed the party for at least three decades. Old arguments feel comfortable, but they’re inadequate for the moment. And new research is finding that this bickering does not match the mood of local anti-Trump activists.

And I would say yes and no. He sees new activism where Trump won and gives us this:

This activism, as Skocpol sees it, is motivated by a simple but powerful civic sense that Trump is violating basic norms and principles of American life. The troops on the ground don’t need programs or litmus tests imposed from on high, she adds. They need practical support and the freedom to act as they see fit in their own areas….Virginia voters who “were looking for a calm and strong leader in the midst of chaos in Washington.” Moderates have a point when they say that voters nationally are similarly seeking steady and reliable leadership.

But progressives, in turn, are right to argue for clear, compelling and comprehensible policies to deal with the economic inequalities that are hurting many in the ranks of Clinton and Trump voters alike. Bold, not bland, is the way to go.

For now, the imperative is to check Trump’s abuses and to stop the truly radical agenda that Republicans are advancing, including their continuing efforts to wreck Obamacare and to pass an unpopular, budget-busting corporate tax cut that redistributes large sums of money to society’s wealthiest.

I think he wants to have it both ways. And maybe we can. We can certainly be against Trump, but we also have to have policies that attempt to replace what Trump is bringing. And here is where I truly want to raise the issue that we have moved so far right that what seems wild-eyed lefty, is really common sense solutions. No Democrats do not have to be all for full funding of higher education, but we want to make it affordable to all those that can, and not by loans that suck them dry for years. No we don’t have to be for a single payer health care system, but we have to be for universal healthcare so that all of us make it affordable for each other. Abortion is a litmus test. It is about a woman’s right to control her body. It’s about getting government out of those most personal and truly hard decisions.

So Democrats need to get in at the grassroots with ideas to improve people’s lives, but at the heart of it, is that the market place must be controlled so it does not crater the planet, and more of us share in its benefits. If that is left-wing crazy, then so is the survival of all of us.

The Republicans Have No Clothes (The Emperor’s New Clothes)

There are two things here, and the second is the most telling and chilling about who we are. The first is looking at what “tax loopholes” are being closed. Those would be teacher’s deducting the cost of subsidizing your kids education by deducting the cost of schools supplies. The second “loophole” cut will be those wicked blood sucking kids who can now deduct interest payments on their loans to try to get ahead and make our economy competitive.

The third “loophole” is those dastardly deductions for big medical expenses. If you are sick, screw you. Yep, we are going after those blood sucking Americans who suck us dry. Oh and for those of you that argue this isn’t really a big deal (some don’t itemize), see how much they figured they would save so they could give real “job creators” cuts without cutting their loopholes. If you wondered what Republicans looked like naked, there it is and they have no clue like the Emperor in the famous Hans Christian Anderson tale that they are now standing naked. Will anyone but the little boy (and Democrats) notice?

Item two is the whole sexual escapade of Trump and Roy Moore and Republicans looking the other way. These are the people where family values matter, and now when it comes to power and politics they don’t. President DFF cast dispersions at Al Franken, yet is silent on Roy Moore. Republicans call for Al Franken’s resignation, and yet President DFF’s own sexual assaults go ignored, with the justification he never admitted to it, but 14 women now say otherwise. This was out there before the election and America, thank you Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, elected him in the electoral college (another relic from the dark ages).

But what should raise the hair on the back of your neck is how “good” Christians in Alabama are reinterpreting the Bible to legitimize Roy Moore’s lusting after children. That in itself tells you all you want to know about putting a man in office who thinks his interpretation of the Bible trumps (pun intended) our Constitution. But here is the frosting on the cake. Alabama Governor, Kay Ivey tells us on Joy Reid this morning that holding the Senate is more important than electing a pedophile. Following that logic, you can see how Hitler rose to power. You can see how power and fear corrupt absolutely. And from Bible thumping Alabama. At this point the moral corruption in the Alabama GOP is complete, and religion, politics as a religion, and the moral superiority of Alabamian’s interpretation of the Bible are playing a large part.

Maybe the real people of Alabama will come to their senses, but this ought to scare you to death. We too could birth another Hitler, a Christian one this time. You can argue that other Republicans have spurned Roy Moore, but what of their leader the Dumb Fat Fuck. There is moral decay among the moral majority who, it turns out, are immoral after all.

So now you see the Emperor with no cloths. He does not give a wit about common people’s problems or struggles, and even more damning, he will sacrifice our Constitution and our moral values to hold on to power. Could it not be anymore clear?

Just Think’in

Moore’s campaign has taken to repeating Alabama’s motto, written in Latin on the state coat of arms in 1923 and translated to “We dare defend our rights,” while Moore backers have repeatedly argued that their state has the right to decide its own fate in the Dec. 12 special election.

“Alabamians will be the ultimate jury in this election, not the media or those from afar,” said state party chairwoman Terry Lathan.

Yep, a free and fiercely independent people will elect a Bible thumper who wants to destroy the Constitution by establish a theocracy, while being a pervert that sends a strong message to women, enjoy yourself on your second class pedestal. Shame on that evil media that tries to point out your stupidity and ignorance.

Nearly a year into the Trump presidency, countries around the world are scrambling to adapt as the White House has struggled to fill key government positions, scaled back the State Department and upended old alliances. Now some nations are finding that even if they are frustrated by President Trump’s Washington, they can still prosper from robust relations with the California Republic and a constellation of like-minded U.S. cities, some of which are bigger than European countries.

We don’t need no stink’in federal government. As President DFF tries to pull us back into the dark ages with his Republican enablers, those of who can, do. Let places like Alabama, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania sink back into the muck. They made their choice and have screwed this country.

“This administration’s mandate on judicial selections is crystal clear: Choose judges in the mold of Justice Scalia, Justice [Clarence] Thomas and now Justice Gorsuch,” McGahn said.

This is a story about the Federalist Society (truly conservative dumb) providing a list of right wing nut jobs to President DFF to ensure when the people throw them out of office, they still will control our courts. And you want to know why people are losing faith in our institutions? Look at Republicans.

Trickle down economics is back with a vengeance in the new Tax Gut bill being pushed by Republicans. One of my favorite economist who I used to read religiously back in the day wrote this about it:

The liberal economist John Kenneth Galbraith in 1982 likened the trickle-down idea to horse manure: “If you feed the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows.”

The people in Kansas recently got a lesson in this, now maybe the whole country will too.I guess I ought to throw this one in from Will Rogers about President Hoover back in the 1930’s to show you how bad ideas just never seem to die as long as those with money control the government:

“The money was all appropriated for the top in the hopes that it would trickle down to the needy,” Rogers wrote in his syndicated column in 1932. In fact, Rogers argued, money tends to trickle up — from the hands of the poor into the hands of the rich.

Then there are the calls for the death penalty for Al Franken. “Set an example!” Here is Ruth Marcus with some sanity:

Let us stipulate: Franken behaved like a big, not-so-fat idiot. His behavior was appalling. Under the guise of rehearsing for a skit, he allegedly kissed fellow USO performer Leeann Tweeden against her will, sticking his tongue in her mouth. He posed for a decidedly not funny photograph in which he appears to grope Tweeden’s breasts while she is asleep. Not okay. But also not Roy Moore, Democratic version — or even Bill Clinton, 2017 edition. On the spectrum from predatory to boorish, Moore and Clinton are on one end, Franken closer to the other.

Some things we can learn from, some are perversions. Apparently in our search for simple minded solutions we seem to lose our ability to separate the two out. Finally, I will leave you with this:

According to the Trump Twitter Archive, between Jan. 10 and the end of October, Trump tweeted about “fake news” 141 times. One stands out. On Feb. 17, the president tweeted this: “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy. It is the enemy of the American People!”…Listen to William H. McRaven, a Navy SEAL for 37 years, the man in charge of the missions that captured Saddam Hussein and killed Osama bin Laden. McRaven graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in journalism. He’s now the chancellor of the University of Texas system. And after the president’s tweet, he told students: “This sentiment may be the greatest threat to democracy in my lifetime.”

Now the piece goes on to say the Press is biased and editorializes on the front page, whether true or not, is wrong. I just happen to think when the Press reports the news and it seems biased against President DFF and the Republicans, it is because the truth itself has a liberal bias. Get over it.

The Tax Gut and the Debate

Let me just set the table here:

According the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, the real cost of the Senate legislation that the Joint Committee on Taxation says will cost $1.41 trillion over a decade would be $2.2 trillion if all the temporary changes were made permanent. The group estimates that the nation’s debt, which has surpassed $20 trillion, would exceed the size of the economy by 2028 under the plan — a level the United States has not reached since World War II. (NYT)

Now note that they made the tax cuts for corporations permanent while the ones for middle class people temporary as a gimmick to get the cost under their $1.5 trillion limit they need to pass this without Democrat’s votes. Wonder why they favored corporations here? As noted above the debt would exceed the size of the economy by 2028, not done since WW II. And I would like to remind people that after WWII we never really paid off the debt, we just grew the economy so that it became manageable.

Now that opens up a debate which we have been having forever, what is a manageable debt. Well, as you would guess, I have written several blogs trying to simplify the economics, but the bottom line is simply one that does not either cause inflation from us printing money to pay for it, or one that drives interest rates up. Neither has occurred yet even with all the boogyman nonsense from the Republicans, which they no longer apparently care about with their new tax gut plan.

Now some will tell you all debt is bad and certainly in our microeconomic world of the home budget, eventually the goal is to be out of debt entirely to retire. But along the way, investments in a home, car, and education may require incurring debt as long as we can manage it. But countries (macroeconomies) don’t retire, and they too have to invest in the future. So manageable debt is a good thing if it is used to grow the economy and make us a stronger nation. Ask yourself if tax cuts to corporations do any of those things?

Now, a real debate broke out on this in the Senate between Democrat from Ohio, Sherrod Brown and Republican from Utah, and Chairman of the committee, Orrin Hatch. The media has focused on the fight, but not the arguments, and the arguments tell you everything:

Sherrod Brown: . . . I just think it would be nice, just tonight, to just acknowledge, well, this tax cut isn’t really for the middle class. It’s for the rich, and that whole thing about higher wages, well, it’s a good selling point, but we know companies don’t just give away higher wages. They just don’t give away higher wages just ’cause they have more money. Corporations are sitting on a lot of money now, they’re sitting on a lot of profits now. I don’t see wages going up, so just spare us the — spare us the bank shots, spare us the sarcasm and the satire.

Orrin Hatch: I’m just gonna say to you that I come from the poor people, and I’ve been here working my whole stinking career for people who don’t have a chance, and I really resent anybody saying I’m just doing this for the rich. Give me a break. I think you guys overplay that all the time, and it gets old. And frankly, you ought to quit it.

SB: But Mr. Chairman, the public believes it — OH: Now just a minute, I’m not through. I get kind of sick and tired of it. True, it’s a nice political play, but it’s not true.

SB: Well all due respect, I get sick and tired of the richest getting richer and richer — Overlapping discussion, Hatch calls the chamber to order.

OH: Listen, I’ve honored you by allowing you to spout off here and what you’ve said was not right, that’s all I’m saying. I come from the lower middle class originally. We didn’t have anything so don’t spew that stuff on me. I get a little tired of that crap. And let me just say something. If you didn’t — if we just worked together we could pull this country out of every mess it’s in. And we could do a lot of the things that you’re talking about too. And I’ve got a reputation of having worked together with Democrats.

SB: Let’s start with CHIP [the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which Congress did not reauthorize in October]. OH: We’re not starting with CHIP. SB: Start with CHIP today!

OH: I’ve got more bills passed than anybody on this committee together. And they’ve been passed for the benefit of people in this country. Now all I can say is, I like you personally, very much, but I’m telling you this bullcrap that you guys throw out here really gets old after a while. And to do it at the end of this is just not right. I just — it takes a lot to get me worked up like this.

Now look at the arguments actually being made: Sherrod says, “It’s for the rich…”. First the tax cut overwhelming favors the rich. That is just a fact supported by the data. Okay, that is substantive argument alleging some facts.

Second, Senator Brown alleges “that and that whole thing about higher wages, well, it’s a good selling point, but we know companies don’t just give away higher wages. They just don’t give away higher wages just ’cause they have more money. Corporations are sitting on a lot of money now, they’re sitting on a lot of profits now. I don’t see wages going up, so just spare us the — spare us the bank shots, spare us the sarcasm and the satire.” Again that can be tested against facts and data, and tax cuts rarely do anything about jobs or wages. The poll at the Wall Street Journal forum for CEOs about who was going to use the money to expand was telling. Corporation, as Brown asserted, are already sitting on oodles of cash, and they are waiting on demand.

So what was Senator Hatch’s argument against what we actually know? “I’m just gonna say to you that I come from the poor people, and I’ve been here working my whole stinking career for people who don’t have a chance, and I really resent anybody saying I’m just doing this for the rich.” Trust me, I know poor people. Bull shit. Oh, and. “— if we just worked together we could pull this country out of every mess it’s in.” I wonder if that is why the bill was presented without any Democratic input, so they could work together, or their gimmick of limiting it to $1.5 trillion so they did not have to work with Democrats to pass it?

Well, you get the drift. Democrat Sherrod Brown expressed his frustration that the Republicans ignore facts and data, and Hatch’s reply was, how dare you question my motives. I am an honorable man. Some debate. But the media focused on the sparring, not the substance. So you get the substance here, but then most people don’t come here. I wonder why I bother. Then again it is 2 to 1 against among us who vote. So why again are Republicans pushing this disaster? Because it is all they got in economic policy, failed ideas, but those ideas make their donors happy.

Footnote: Note that after Brown in his frustration raised some valid issues, Hatch used his position to label this “spout out and spewing”, and then, dare I say it, spewed out an emotional, “The lady dost protest too much, methinks” argument that shows Brown nailed it and Hatch was responding totally defensively, but using his position talking over Brown, and as all Republicans do, shout down debate.

GOP Tax Plan/Healthcare Gutting Plan

Actually I think you could just call the whole plan the Gutting Plan. When you just look at the plan before they decided to tinker with Healthcare to have more money for tax cuts for the wealthy, what they were doing was an attack on those liberal elite states where state taxes are high and cost of living (cost of houses) is also high. By reducing the deduction for state and local taxes, they were really hanging the cost of their tax cut on states with high tax rates like California and New York where we actually invest in our future. But who cares, those states have the most sane voters per capita and thus are Blue. Screw them.

The reduction of the housing interest deduction was another attack on the same people. While a limit of $500,000 may seem reasonable if you live in Alabama and vote for a Red theocracy, those of us in other areas know you get a hovel for $500,000 these days (primarily due to income inequality). Now all of this would be okay I guess if we were using this money to invest in our future, but no, we are giving it to corporations in the hopes there will be jobs (flow down again). I watched a clip at a Wall Street Journal conference of corporation CEOs and after an administration lackey explain how the benefits would be used by corporations to invest and create new jobs (also raise wages which I will get to in a minute), the moderator asked about 100 executives who planned to use this money for investment and only five raised their hands.

Now lets get real. Corporate profits have been at an all time high. They don’t need a tax cut to invest, they already have the money. Interest rates are still very low. What they need is a surge in demand and just where is that going to come from? The second bunch of nonsense is that corporations will use the money to raise wages. Why would they do that? Higher wages cuts into their profit margins and the larger their profits the better their shares look, and that is what drives the train, share price. If anything they will continue to try to mechanize and drive wages down. So where is that demand coming from again? Slave labors?

Okay, let’s talk about the “individual mandate”. Oh how Republicans and cheap Libertarians hate this. That is the requirement that everyone has to have healthcare or pay a fine. “It’s just a hidden tax!” Do any of these morons, and I use the term loosely because in fact they have brains and could connect the dots here, understand the concept of insurance. Everyone pays in so that our cost are subsidized by everyone which is what lowers premiums. Think auto insurance. You drive a car, you gotta have car insurance. If you breath, eventually you will need healthcare, some of it very expensive. If you want it to be affordable, we all have to pay in. And why are they really doing it? To finally destroy any hope that Obamacare would work and free up money for…drum roll here…TAX CUTS FOR THE WEALTHY. It is their one and only plan for the economy and it has not ever worked in recent times.

You might also note that they have this total fiction about growth of the economy (again already debunked supply side economics) that will fill the coffers of the Treasury and there will be no debt. Not even most Republicans believe that, but they are none the less pushing it. The House will probably vote for it, but they would vote for anything Republican. The Senate may see that once this thing passes, people are going to be pissed all the tax cuts really went to the wealthy with more cuts to services to pay for it, and kill it.

Here is the thing for anyone out there that is rationally based, what do we need to pay for? Seen any discussion of that? We are in terrible shape as far as infrastructure goes so where in this tax cut is money set aside for that? Now we cross into Progressive land. How do we reduce the cost of higher education and especially the burden of student loans? Where is the money for that? How about R&D, where is the money for that? How about securing Social Security and maybe raising the benefits? Where is the money for that? How about Medicare?

My point is simple, cutting taxes is blatantly stupid right now. Tax reform is another subject. After we decide what we want to pay for, establish what is a reasonable debt that won’t hurt our country, how do we share the tax burden fairly? Note that most corporations already pay below what the new rate will be and we have not removed any of their loop holes. It is all smoke and mirrors and the lamed brains who run around saying I pay too much in taxes need to slow down and see if this bill helps them, and do they really? Some do for sure, but what will kill this bill is the realization among the guys who pay the most taxes, small businesses, that this does not help them, and as a side benefit may raise the cost of health insurance benefits. But hey, the wealthy got theirs. We are living in Republican Alternate Reality nirvana. See President DFF.

What does Freedom Mean

Sometimes I like to know how people can be so bitheringly stupid. You know how you talk to what seems to be a normal highly functioning human being and then their politics come out and you are standing with your mouth open dumbstruck by the stupidity. Now some of it is ignorance, but that ignorance is studied ignorance. They work at it. So that brings me back to why. In Alabama and the Roy Moore bring back Jesus into government while ignoring my perversions campaign, what the hell is going on? They would rather vote for pervert and someone who defiles the Constitution than a Democrat? Running a close second are the folks in Texas that believe they lost their family to a gunman because it is God’s will, not the easy access to guns for fruit cakes, which is something we could do something about. I am going to come back to this one.

What people believe, and the facts and data they choose to ignore is a function of what they want to believe, that makes their life simple or somehow validates all that they are. Facts and data don’t matter. I think it was CNN or maybe MSNBC that was down in the South interviewing Trump supporters on whether they have any regrets. Some did sure, but the majority were thanking him for the economy and one lady actually said he is a great American. I could go on and on about we are still running on Obama’s economy (Remember the mess the Republicans got us in under Bush?) and that President DFF is the most lying and ignorant president we have ever had. His assault on freedom of the press and separation of powers will do lasting damage to our Constitution, but why bother? Facts and data don’t matter to these people. See Alabama and Texas for true ignorance. One might say they have the freedom to believe what ever they want to regardless of the facts. They apparently have the freedom to be blithering idiots and they are exercising it to the full extent.

But sometimes there is something basic going on and we miss it. The Second Amendment arguments provides a window in to how ideas have changed. Read the Amendment: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The right of the people to keep and bear arms in this sentence is not an absolute right, it is dependent on supporting a “well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State. We did not have standing armies, now we do, and that right in the latter is no longer supported by the need in the former. Now think about that. The freedom to bear arms was an end to a good, the Security of the State. Now it has nothing to do with it. In fact, instead of bringing us a good, it brings us misery all around the country. But the Supremes in their conservative wisdom establish the right to bear arms as an absolute right, and absolute good. Look at the good it is doing.

Now this is just an example of what has maybe happened to us, that freedom became a “good” in itself, not the means to “good”. There is an excellent essay in the WaPO by Elizabeth Bruenig, Do we Really Understand the Second Amendment Anymore, that raises the more fundamental question, do we understand freedom. Said more simply, today, freedom is the end goal, but as we have seen with guns, may not provide the ultimate goal, good. But that wasn’t always so. As Elisabeth put it, “Freedom mattered, in other words, but was always subordinate to the highest good, which could sometimes place limits on liberty.” In the simplest terms, gun nuts believe they have an absolute right to a gun, and abridging that freedom by background checks and other restrictions like getting rid of AK-47s is simply evil because it restricts their freedom. But when we look around at the carnage that freedom allows, maybe that freedom is the problem. Elizabeth gives us this:

But freedom unchained from the good comes with certain hazards. Today, it seems like devising a vision of the good means curtailing people’s liberty; after all, it does require that we define some choices (bestiality, for instance) as inherently wrong and perhaps limit them, even if they make a person happy. Yet this also means that the greater the swell of public sentiment against gun ownership, the more justified its ardent defenders seem in claiming that their freedom is under attack. The way they see it, not only is their freedom to do as they please threatened, so is their freedom to be pleased by what they’re pleased by. By imposing a preference, the government would be abrogating their liberty… We can ban people from killing and punish them for it, but we can’t insist that they ought not own the implements of killing, as long as they’re still following the laws

If we’re trying to build a free society for the sake of being free, or so each person can pursue their own tastes, no matter how evil, then we’re doing an excellent job where firearms are concerned — and reaping the results in ghastly headlines. But if we’re trying to build a society in which people are free specifically to flourish and live long and well, to be virtuous and educated citizens engaged in the task of creating lasting peace and greater understanding, then we’re stumbling, and we’ll keep tripping along a bloody path until we can decide what our freedom is for.

I would like to take this argument a step further because guns are just one subset of the problem. Way back when, when we were facing similar problems (economically) along came a man who championed the rights of the working man against the financial corporations and big banks. That would be FDR. And he was one of the few people who actually sat down and thought about freedom and gave us his famous Four Freedoms speech which applies today.

In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

The first is freedom of speech and expression — everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way — everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want, which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants — everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear, which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor — anywhere in the world.

Or said simply, freedom of speech, worship, from want, and from fear.  Now you can then translate that into a liberal agenda which FDR talked about in his speech which amazingly enough was a speech mainly about arming the country for WWII (Inauguration 1941). But again think about this. For each freedom, or good (in terms of a value, not a thing), some freedoms have to be curtailed. If you want to have free speech, someone can’t be trying to censor the press hollering “fake news”. If you want freedom of religion, that also implies that your religion cannot impinge on someone else’s freedom of religion (See Roy Moore as an extreme example). If you want freedom from want, well that says we have to pay taxes and work together, good jobs, healthcare, and maybe a secure retirement system. Okay you get the drift. Freedom, as Elizabeth said above, is a means to an end, not the end itself.

Now consider the fifth Freedom the Republicans created, freedom of the market place. Any government interference simple hobbles the market place and harms all of us all in their little minds. But what we have seen is that this worship of freedom in itself, negates the other four freedoms FDR outlined. Markets, according to Republicans (and not supported by the data), do better when taxes and wages are low (higher profits and less money for freedom from want). And now as Conservatives tout freedom as an end in itself it justify intolerance such as I don’t have to sell wedding cakes to gay couples; mass murder by guns; I don’t have to provide my employees with full coverage healthcare because it infringes on my religious rights; I should not have to pay taxes because people should work harder; and of course the market place should be free to pollute and gouge; all because all regulation (infringement on my freedom) is bad in their simple little minds.

So, Elizabeth has raised and interesting concept that we should all consider. Of course that assumes that most of us operate intellectually and try to connect dots. Sadly most don’t as we now see the whole state of Alabama wants to embrace a sexual pervert instead of a Democrat (“I can’t vote for a baby killer!” Let’s see a woman’s right to control her own body instead of the government is a baby killer.  Don’t you just love religion?). I will leave you with this: Funny isn’t it that everyone is up in arms over Roy Moore’s sexual perversions and yet his real sin is wanting to replace our Constitution with his version of the Bible. Where have we seen this before?  Would that be ISIS? Would that be the Middle ages?  What is the difference between Biblical law and Sharia law?  SSDD, Same Shit, Different Day

 

“I Really Believe That When He Tells Me That…”

President DFF is being, well, a DFF as he goes about once again tarnishing our intelligence agencies and showing how truly stupid the man is. Of course I am referring to his comments about Putin’s claim of not interfering in our elections when the intelligence agencies have tons of data to show just exactly what they did do. We have tons of supportable data in the media to show exactly what they did including all the ad buys for Facebook and Twitter. But none of that matters because he has looked him in the eyes and can tell he, Putin, is insulted. Oh, where have we heard that or something very similar before? Wasn’t that George Bush?

I was at a party last night and someone who despairs this whole nightmare of President DFF and the Republicans was just despondent about this latest episode. I was not. I spent my after military service life as a lower level bureaucratic lackey serving the American public building and cleaning up things for the government. I know those people who work in the government well. Most are hard working, dedicated, and proud of what they do. President DFF just pissed off a whole bunch of people who probably have the goods on him. Here is from the Washington Post (WaPo):

On Saturday, Trump described the former top U.S. intelligence officials who concluded in January that the tampering took place — including former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. and former CIA director John Brennan — as “political hacks.” He called former FBI director James B. Comey, who testified to Congress that Trump asked him to drop an investigation of his campaign’s connections to Russian officials, a “liar” and a “leaker.”

Clapper said in a statement that “the president was given clear and indisputable evidence that Russia interfered in the election. His own DNI and CIA director have confirmed the finding in the intelligence community assessment. The fact that he would take Putin at his word over the intelligence community is unconscionable.”

…Former CIA director Michael V. Hayden said he was so concerned by Trump’s statement that he contacted the agency to confirm that it stood by the January assessment. He described Trump’s remarks as “egregious comments on the character of folks who have been public servants . . . [and] the public should know that these guys are thoroughgoing professionals, and what the president left unsaid is that the people he put into these jobs agree with the so-called hacks.”

Senior officials in the intelligence community will be dismayed by the disparagement of two respected intelligence veterans, Hayden said. “People have a right to ask at senior levels: ‘Does what I do make a difference anymore?’ ”

In other words, other than his comments being imbecilic, he just kicked a hornet’s nest. Stand by for the leaks and ever more cooperation with Mueller. I opined in this discussion that it would not be long until President DFF probably gets removed and she shuddered at the thought of Mike Pence as President. But here is the thing. Republicans got nothing, and I seriously mean that. We have problems, big problems, and we have solutions. None of those solutions are palatable to Republican ideology. So things are going to get worse. It doesn’t matter if it is pious Pence or Joe College Ryan, they got nothing.

Their plan for the economy is tax cuts that only help the wealthy. They have no plan for healthcare which should be obvious by now. If they are successful at their tax cuts, which they won’t, President DFF’s base will be hurt and there will be no jobs. If they build the wall it will drag down our economy, not to mention be an environmental nightmare. Global warming which they ignore, will just get worse, and do you really think these boys and girls are going to pony up for infrastructure improvements without it being some giant give away to corporations?

We are in a waiting game for America to wake up out of their focused ignorance and finally understand, Republicans are bad for their health, livelihood, and peace of mind. You can only watch things crumble for so long before you say, let’s do something. Ask yourself this about the effectiveness of Republicans, how many people in Puerto Rico are still without power, our fellow Americans? You could be next. When that dawns on us and it seems to already be doing, things will start to look up. 2018 could be a banner year.

VETERAN’S DAY


Here is what I did for my country, what did you do?  Oh, I forgot, shopping to keep the economy going.  Those were the days, huh?  Arm and arm at the cash register. And don’t forget about complaining about taxes to pay for the things we need to do.  It is time to bring back national service.  We need to remember that democracy is a work in progress and is so easy to lose. See Republicans for details. Let’s try to remember that, “Thank you for your service” is really bullshit.  We should all be in this together and thanks is unnecessary.  While politicans flag wave, ask yourself how many served.  But they got their label pins.  God Bless America.

Judge Roy Moore

Could just it get any worse? You know that Judge Moore would make a great leader…if this were a theocracy and we all agreed on who God is. Let’s just put aside the sexual allegations for a few minutes and think about how he is everything the Founders wrote the Constitution to prevent. The Founders were sons and daughters (yes women had influence on the men) of the religious wars in Europe. They saw how religious fanaticism wreck countries and led to perpetual war. There goal was to balance power and make no one party supreme. It was a government based on rational discourse and compromise.

Now let’s take that apart. Religious fanatics like Roy Moore live by a religion that cannot be question by man. He made belief in the supremacy of a Christian God over the Constitution the cornerstone of his campaign.

“I want to see virtue and morality returned to our country and God is the only source of our law, liberty and government.”

Now that probably plays well to the religious brain-dead in Alabama, but it does not stand the test of examination. In a theocracy in which Roy is describing, who interprets the word of God, Roy? And what if someone disagrees? Oh heresy. Burn them at the stake. So there is the end to rational discourse and compromise. We don’t need courts or legislatures, just a high prophet, and that would be Roy of course. Now if Roy were a Muslim, that would be Sharia Law, that boggy man that conservative Republicans love to bring out to scare people without brains. Oh, and if you are following Roy’s logic, he just justified ISIS and al Qaeda. It is exactly the same thing except we have Koran thumping Muslims telling the world what the one true word is, and dissent punishable by death.

Moore, who is an evangelical Christian, was removed from the bench in 2003 over his refusal to take down a monument to the Ten Commandments in the state Supreme Court building in Alabama. Last year, he was suspended for the remainder of his term after telling probate judges to enforce the ban on gay marriage, which by then had been struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court. Both fights elevated his profile among religious conservatives in the state and nationally.

The fact that Roy ran and won a Republican Primary shows you how many truly stupid and ignorant people live in Alabama, and dare I say it, religion froze their brains. I would argue as an aside, that conservative religions are antithetical to democracy. It is a belief that cannot be challenged by logic (faith), and as such denies all compromise. Say goodbye to rational thought and finding middle ground solutions. Where it gets really dangerous is when it leaks over into our political thinking, as in conservative Republicans and their conservative beliefs about gays, the economy, immigrants, oh you name it. Once you have a part of your brain that accepts groking, a gut drinking in to believe or understand something, which is what most religion is, say goodbye to rational thought. Who needs facts? There is no coincidence that conservative Republicans are mostly evangelical Christians or Bible thumpers of one sort or another.

Okay so Alabama, and Republicans so craven for holding on to power, were getting behind Roy while in essence, striking a blow to very heart of American and the foundation of our Constitution, when out come the sexual allegations. Now Roy claims these are political lies and attacks on him. But there is simply too much there there and we are in a time when we are starting to listen to women and believe them. Now for my part, this is why Roy is such a holier than thou guy. He knows he is the devil and he compensates by being a Bible thumper to root out evil (his own which you can bet he is in total denial on). But enough about Roy, he is a piece of scum right of the Republican playbook, and he is toast. Let’s focus on the Republicans.

First thing, if you are a hypocrisy buff, is remember when the women came out and accused President Clinton and Clinton did a small-scale Moore defense, but Republicans were all over it taking the side of the women (and correctly). Now they jump on Roy’s defense team? Craven doesn’t even get close.

“Take Mary and Joseph. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus,” Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler told the Washington Examiner. “There’s just nothing immoral or illegal here. Maybe just a little bit unusual.”

Um, if you believe this nonsense, then remember the part about immaculate conception. I bet Joseph would have been struck down by a vengeful immaculate conceptor for rubbing her body parts. But that is typical of Republican failure to connect the dots because I don’t want to connect the dots. From the Atlantic Monthly:

Many leading Republicans outside of Alabama said in public statements they would like to see Moore step aside—if the allegations against him are true. On Thursday, The Atlanticreached out to all 52 GOP senators, and the 19 lawmakers who responded said exactly that. That approach would seem to leave room for Moore to deny the report and continue his campaign.

“It comes down to a question [of] who is more credible in the eyes of the voters—the candidate or the accuser,” Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of evangelical Liberty University and a Moore supporter, told RNS. “And I believe the judge is telling the truth.”

Indeed, many Republican officials are still behind him. “I’m not saying I support what he did,” Bibb County Chairman Jerry Pow told journalist Dale. But Pow said he’ll still vote for Moore, simply because he doesn’t want to vote for the Democrat.

Now where is the mentality in, “I would rather have an immoral sexual predator and Constitution denying moron, than a Democrat. Are you starting to see the connection between religion, whether spiritual or political gets us a damaged brain?

So I will just leave you with this: Republicans are evil and the country left in their hands will be destroyed. Sure, some have come out finally against him. They can read polls. But until we rid ourselves of this whole crop, and maybe the states that elect them, we are destined to ignorance, stupidity, and policy that hurts America, not helps it. No we should never compromise with these nut balls.

Oh, and yes I have been missing in action. You know, that work thing. You don’t think the wine I buy is cheap do you.