Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category.

Delayed Thoughts On the Election

So far the pivot from jerk to adult has still not happened. Cheeto Jesus, the Siberian Candidate, is president. It’s late, but here are some thoughts on the election and its aftermath.

Although a lot of the GOP tried to distance themselves from Trump (until he won the election), I have a feeling that some big shots in the GOP are taking some notes about this election. The last time they won outright was 2004, with another guy who was proud to be stupid. So why not stick with what works for them?

To be frank, I was surprised that he won. I kept refreshing several news sites throughout the night.

To be fair, HRC did not run as good of a campaign as she could have. They spent way too much time on Nebraska trying to get that one electoral vote, and spent little time or energy on or in Wisconsin and Michigan. I am not saying that they should not have spent any time on Nebraska; it is a bad idea to write off entire states. But don’t ignore your strengths.

But there were many external factors that worked against HRC.

One is all the laws restricting voting rights (see this page and this page). Pretty much all of them were instituted by Republicans, and were structured to restrict the voting rights of demographic groups that are more likely to vote for Democrats.

One is the obsession with emails. To be honest, I have no idea what she could have done differently about this. A lot of people in the GOP had the “creationist mindset”: They have their conclusion, and they just needed some facts to back it up. Representative Jason Chaffetz plans to keep investigating HRC’s emails, because “we have to get to the truth”.  She has been investigated for years by people who wanted to find something to use to nail her to the wall, and they still found nothing. Here’s an idea: Maybe she didn’t do anything wrong. Maybe it’s time to admit your assumptions were incorrect. Maybe you have gotten to the truth, but you just refuse to accept it.

I do think the media bears some blame. For all the talk of a “liberal media”, they give Republicans a lot of leeway. They let Trump define himself and HRC. They went with what Trump said, and ignored what HRC said, ignored reality. Trump said she has no plans to increase jobs, but she did. Part of it was increased spending on infrastructure, which is something he talked about in his inaugural address. Trump said that HRC is a lapdog for Wall Street because she gave a speech to Goldman Sachs, but his campaign and now his administration have more Wall Street people on it than she did. He said she is shady and corrupt because she won’t release information about the Clinton Foundation. The fact is, she said she and Bill would shut down the foundation if she won the election. And we are still waiting to see his tax returns (link at White House site still good as of 2014-01-30 ).

I think the FBI director deserves some of the blame. He has been out to get the Clintons for years, and he got his chance. Note to future Democratic presidents: Do not put Republicans in important posts; it could bite you in the back later, and the rest of the GOP will still hate you. As I stated, it should surprise nobody that nothing came of the re-opening of the investigation. And if anybody tells you the FBI was not trying to influence the election, they are either lying or stupid. But apparently, the FBI only talks about investigations of Hillary Clinton, and nobody else. Plus, it’s odd that when they found out the DNC was hacked, they only made one call to a help desk, instead of calling then-DNC chief and incumbent Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz. The investigation into HRC’s emails, however, went on full-speed ahead.

I think the real reason that the GOP is all worked up about HRC’s email server: It’s the only one the Russians could not get into.

And then there is Russia. I do think Russia “hacked the election” (which does not mean they actually hacked the voting machines themselves). Many of the people working on Trump’s campaign (and now administration) have been to Russia and/or have business ties to Russia (like Paul Mantafort, Carter Page and Michael Flynn; see this graphic of Trump/Mantafort ties to Russia). One of Trump’s sons said that Russians have invested in many Trump properties. Trump has given contradictory statements as to whether or not he has met with Putin.

I don’t know if Trump himself has any direct ties to Putin. But even during the campaign, he seemed to have this odd need/desire for some sort of approval from Putin. Until we see his taxes, we might not get the full story. I don’t know if there is a “pee-pee tape”, but I do suspect the Russians have some sort of financial leverage over Trump. Perhaps he owes them a lot of money. Perhaps he is helping oligarchs launder money (see this page and this page).

The question is not really whether Trump has any financial stake in Russia. The question is how much of a financial stake does Russia have in Trump.

One reason I think it is financial leverage is that I don’t think Trump cares if people think he is a pervert, or an amazingly small-minded and thin-skinned individual. But I do think he wants to be seen as a business and financial genius.

The “pee-pee tape” is a reference to a dossier by a former MI6 agent about Trump’s relationship with Russia which  mentioned golden showers. After it came out, Trump tweeted about it a few times:

  • Totally made up facts by sleazebag political operatives, both Democrats and Republicans – FAKE NEWS! Russia says nothing exists. Probably… (tweet here)
  • Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA – NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING! (tweet here)
  • Russia just said the unverified report paid for by political opponents is “A COMPLETE AND TOTAL FABRICATION, UTTER NONSENSE.” Very unfair! (tweet here)

Notice that in two of them, he said that the Russian government says there is no tape. First off, Putin is a former KGB agent, and has a lot of former KGB agents (and possibly current GRU and FSB agents as well). I am not going to take their word on anything. I wouldn’t ask those guys if water is wet. Secondly, if you are accused of being too close to the Russian government or of being in a position to be blackmailed by them, using their denial as your argument makes it look like the accusations are true.

After Trump announced he was nominating Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, he said Tillerson’s relationship with Russia is a selling point.  Believe it or not, I am not against having a good relationship with Russia. But it seems like Trump wants to please the Russian government, and kind of hates everybody else. Even most of his own constituents.

Someone on twitter pointed out that Trump has been consistent about only two things: How great he is, and how great Russia and Putin are. He seems to hate every other country on the planet. Even the one he will be running.

Trump says Russia will respect the USA more with him in charge. I doubt that. People generally do not respect lapdogs.

According to not-failing Bloomberg, Trump tweeted: “Having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing Only ‘stupid’ people, or fools, would think it is bad! We have enough problems around the world without yet another one.” Nobody is saying a good relationship with Russia is a bad thing. It’s just that their leadership is full of liars and thieves who cannot be trusted. Another point: What does Trump mean by a “good relationship with Russia”? If by that he means Russians controlling our government, then, no, I do not want a good relationship with them. Also, if a good relationship with Russia comes at the cost of alienating the USA from every other country, then it is not worth it.

To me, a good relationship with Russia is necessary because you should keep your friends close, and authoritarian, interventionists closer. The US intelligence community has thought for a while that Russia has been meddling in the EU for some time, supporting parties that want to break up the EU. There is a movement to make California an independent country. It opened “California Culture Center” in Moscow (see this page and this page).
“It was opened by the President of Yes California Independence Campaign, Louis Marinelli, and the President of the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia, Alexander Ionov.” That is according to the website of the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia. News flash, dipstick: If you are encouraging part of a nation to declare independence, you are not “anti-globalist”. Don’t complain about corporations pushing you around if you want to break up other countries.

If the EU is broken up, and the US starts breaking up, who wins? That’s right, Russia. They become more powerful relative to everybody else. If you don’t like Brussels or Washington telling you what to do, but you have no problem with Moscow telling you what to do, you are an idiot.

Russia was behind the DNC hack, the Podesta hack, and a lot of the fake news (or more accurately: lies and propaganda). I also think that they are in cahoots with Wikileaks (see this page and this page).

It took a Google search, but there is a page that lists leaks by country. (I get a feeling of plausible deniability here.) There are a LOT of leaks about the US (over 9,500 at the time of this writing), and about 57 on Russia, 5 more for the “Russian Federation“. I am not one of those foam-finger, #1, USA-is-never-wrong guys, but don’t tell me that Russia has a better human rights record than we do.

Julian Assange had a show on RT. I don’t take Assange at his word that he has no ties to Russia. He has said that if he had dirt on the GOP he would release it, yet amazingly he seems to have a lot of documents tied to Democrats. He has insisted that nobody has sent him anything about the GOP. But that’s the paradox with Wikileaks, isn’t it? You just have to take his word for it.

Wikileaks has made a few weird moves, like getting personal info about ALL verified twitter users and putting it online. They also threatened legal action against MSNBC for talking about possible links between Russia and Wikileaks (see this page and this page). They could solve this by being more transparent.

Granted, sometimes people put themselves at risk by sending documents to Wikileaks. So maybe Wikileaks really has no idea who sends them stuff. Which means they really cannot say with any certainty whether or not the Russian government is the group that got/stole the info they are releasing. Yet somehow Assange is 1000% certain. Okay.

Assange saw the Panama Papers as an attack on Putin (many of Putin’s associates were implicated), yet ignored the grief it caused David Cameron and Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson (the then-Prime Minisiter of Iceland who resigned because of revelations in the Panama Papers).

When Wikileaks started, Assange wrote: “Our primary targets are those highly oppressive regimes in China, Russia and Central Eurasia.” So what changed?

Wikileaks does seem to like some people more than others. They have also released info about private citizens (see this page and this page). Not a group to be trusted.

I think Assange’s paranoia has turned Wikileaks from a force for good to a Russian mouthpiece. I am not clear why he was so afraid that Sweden would extradite him to the US. The US has an extradition treaty with the UK. I think if the US wanted the UK to send Assange over, they would have. And even if Sweden decides to drop the charges, he is still a fugitve from British justice. That is one problem he caused himself.

Let’s not forget, Trump advisor Roger Stone has stated he has a “back channel” to Julian Assange through a mutual friend (see this page, this page and this page). This is a guy who worked for Nixon during the dirty campaign of 1972, and has a tatoo of Nixon’s face on his back. Need I say more?

Also, some have said that this election was decided by the “white working class”. I don’t know if that is true, since a lot of people who should know better voted for Trump.

There has been some hand-wringing amongst Democrats about how to connect with the white working class. I think this is kind of funny. The Democratic Party has always been the party that stands with unions. Has the Democratic Party abandoned the white working class, or did the WWC abandon the DP? Yes, there is a lot more corporate influence in the DP than there was 30 or 40 years ago, but there is WAY more in the Republican Party. And the exodus of the WWC to the GOP started with Reagan. If the WWC votes for the party that is out to destroy unions, then there is not much you can do for them.

Some, like Bill Black and Thomas Frank, thinks liberals have driven the WWC out of the DP because a lot of liberals are “too smug”. Generally I like what those two have to say, but they are off their rocker on this point. The migration started with Reagan, who was elected when I was 9. Before many of today’s hipsters were born. Nobody is forcing these people to vote for the GOP. Nobody is forcing them to watch Fox News, or listen to the liars on talk radio. If someone keeps voting against their own economic self-interest for 30 years, it’s their own fault.

I have also seen articles telling us city folk that we need to understand rural communities and the WWC. Screw you. No I don’t. A lot of them are bigoted. I can tell you based on the questions and comments I get from these people and that I read and hear about, they (Trump voters) have no desire to understand me at all. They are intent on misunderstanding everyone but them. Why are they still asking, “If evolution is happening, why don’t cats give birth to dogs?” Tell me if you have heard this one: “You’re not really an atheist. You really believe in god, you’re just mad at him.” They might hear, but they refuse to understand.

Also: The popular vote. Which Trump lost. I have read that this point does not matter. I think it does. If it did not, why did he make his claim that there were millions of illegal votes? (I have heard of three people being arrested for voter fraud, all for Trump.) Trump seems to think that life is all about ratings and approval. He uses that as justification for his policies. The fact is that most people did not want him in office. Most people do not support his policies. He does not have any sort of mandate.

We on the left need to be more vocal, more forceful. When a GOP president or governor squeeks by, they act like God made them king. What a Democrat barely makes it in, the GOP uses that slim margin as a reason to obstruct. Perhaps we should obstruct. Be jerks if need be. Just don’t believe in nonsense, and don’t refuse to change your mind when the facts change.

First image from Wikimedia, assumed allowed under Fair Use. Painting “La femme et le pantin” (The Woman and the Puppet) by Angel Zárraga (1886–1946).  Second image  from Wikiart, assumed allowed under Fair Use. Painting “Hourglass” by Romul Nutiu.

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New Page: Things Trump Says He Knows

I have a new page on my site: Things Trump Says He Knows.

I think Trump knows about manipulating people, lying and being a jerk.

He claims to be an expert in more topics than I think any human could possibly be an expert in. So instead of documenting all his lies, I will start a list of things that Trump claims to know, especially things he claims to know “a lot” about.

He made this claim a few times during the campaign, and he made it in his first speech to the CIA.

I say right now: I reserve the right to stop updating this page. Because Trump thinks he knows a lot about a lot of subjects. He thinks he knows so much, I just might say, “Trump, please stop knowing so much, I can’t spend all my time updating that page.” I’m sure we will get tired of him knowing things.

Just like he said his campaign would get tired of winning. And the CIA would get tired of “so much backing”. But someone else can make a page listing all the things he says we will get tired of.

Image  from Wikipedia, assumed allowed under Fair Use. Painting “Witches’ Sabbath” by Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes, or just Goya (1746-1828). Goya should have his own website. He’s really a wonderful artist, very artistic in his art. Nothing to do with Trump.

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Up Yours, Miami

Recently, Fidel Castro died. Presumably peacefully, in his sleep. Not in a jail cell.

And the Cuban community in Miami celebrated. The people who insisted on keeping the embargo long after it was obvious it was not hurting the Castro regime. Being against the embargo was not the same as being for Castro. There is nothing pro-Communist in saying a particular policy isn’t working.

I would just like to tell those people to go jump off a cliff.

I really hate it when people from communist countries come here, rave about freedom, and then shout down anyone who disagrees with them. And what has their intransigence gotten them? Most Americans were against it for the past decade (pdf file here, article here). I don’t think we should cling to ineffective policies just to avoid hurting the fee-fees of a vocal minority.

Many refugees dismiss anti-embargo arguments by saying that “You don’t know what it’s like to live under Castro”. No, but neither do many of the non-Cubans who were for it. If my lack of experience living under Castro invalidates my opinion, then it invalidates the opinion of pro-embargo non-Cubans. But somehow I don’t think they get dismissed.

Besides, it’s a federal policy. I vote for the senators, representatives and presidents who make and implement the policy, and my taxes go toward it.

Basically, it has been completely ineffective. Yes, the Cuban government seems to be moving away from Communism, but they are doing it on their schedule. They managed to survive even after the downfall of the USSR, and the loss of patronage from the USSR. The funny thing is, while the USSR was subsidizing Cuba, the USA was selling the USSR wheat; so in a way, the USA was actually helping Cuba indirectly. But I guess some people care more about form than substance.

I don’t have my finger on the pulse of the Cuban community, but in all seriousness, is Cuba the only oppressive regime they are about? China oppresses a LOT of people. Do they want the USA to embargo China? If it’s the right thing to do, then the size of the country shouldn’t matter, right? If don’t care about oppression when it’s not happening to you, then don’t come crying to me.

Image from Wikimedia, assumed allowed under Fair Use. Painting by Cuban artist Armando Menocal.

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The Wicked Witch Is Dead

I actually jumped for joy when I read that Scalia is dead.

This is the best thing to happen to this country since Lee surrendered to Grant.

Some people are saying we should be respectful. Express condolences to his family.

Screw that.

Liberals have been nicer. Do we have anything to show for it?

As far as “respect”: A man who was disrespectful towards others in life deserves none in death. I hated the man before he died. Frankly it would be illogical not to be glad he’s dead.

As far as condolences to his family, from what I have read they have the same nasty views he did.

Someone on Twitter thought it was shameful for people to say bad things about Scalia since he had a family, and asked if we would say the same hateful things about our own fathers. I replied that since my father is a drunk who treated my mother like garbage, yes I do. Call a spade a spade.

One reason I really hated Scalia is that he claimed to believe in a religion whose founder told his followers to protect the poor and the powerless, yet he sided with the rich and the powerful every time. For a long time, Catholics in this country were discriminated against. Catholics were the other. Yet Scalia had no problem pulling the ladder up after himself. [1]

And I am tired of people saying how smart he was.

Scalia thought that there was more support for creationism than evolution. First off, this is not true. There is much more support for evolution. The Discovery Institute has had 20 years to make their case and publish some research. So far nothing. Anyone who says that evolution (or climate change) is not settled science frankly is not paying attention to science. (Yet, in true Taxicab Fallacy style, they have no problem enjoying the fruits of the scientific method.)

I am reminded of that episode of John Oliver‘s show where he starts moderating a debate on climate change. The denier says that the science is under debate. John Oliver says it is not, that at least 97% of climate scientists say that climate change is happening and that humans are causing it. He says in order to show the true scientific consensus he brings in a bunch of people wearing lab coats. As he said, this “debate” should not be happening. And the same is true for evolution.

Secondly, I think that goes against the position of the Catholic Church  [2].

I suppose it takes a lot of intellectual talent and effort to spend your life saying that up is down, night is day and black is white. But if you go through your life being wrong about a lot of things, and using your intellect to justify things that are not true, then you are really very stupid.

And now, the strict constructionists are not only telling us we should not politicize his death, but that Obama should not appoint the next justice. Where does the constitution say he has to wait? And would they tell a Republican president to wait?

Lastly, some nutjobs are saying that Obama had Scalia killed. They think it’s just “too convenient” that Scalia died. But let’s remember Scalia was

  1.  A nasty, spiteful person
  2.  79 years old
  3. Fat.

He’s lucky he lasted as long as he did.

[1] Sidenote: There are some things in the Bible that sound pretty good: Be nice to everyone, give to the poor, don’t pray in public. Yet many Christians act the exact opposite. Is there some grand conspiracy going on here? Atheists get the joke Bible that tells you to be nice, but once you convert you get the real Bible, the Jerk Bible.

[2] From the page cited:
Concerning biological evolution, the Church does not have an official position on whether various life forms developed over the course of time. However, it says that, if they did develop, then they did so under the impetus and guidance of God, and their ultimate creation must be ascribed to him.
So I guess they are not really affirming or denying evolution. Sort of like how they have no position on the Shroud of Turin. The Catholic hierarchy may not be smart, but they can be shrewd.

Cartoon image from the always-bizarre Uncyclopedia, assumed allowed under Fair Use and perhaps even Unfair Use (but who knows what the second one?).

Dancing skeletons from a 1493 woodcut by Michael Wolgemut, assumed allowed under Fair Use. Europeans considered many things up for grabs in that decade.

Image of crowd of scientists taken from Google search. It is a screen cap of John Oliver’s show on HBO, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

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Thoughts On the 2016 Election

I do not think I will be supporting Bernie Sanders.

I agree with him more than Hillary about Wall Street’s influence on society. But he seems pretty weak on other topics. He’s in his 70s, he has been in Congress since 1991, and he still has a hard time talking about foreign policy. I think Hillary Clinton responded to Black Lives Matter better than he did.

Hillary’s general preparedness really struck me when she had her marathon testimony in front of the Benghazi committee. You had all these Republicans losing their minds, and she stayed firm. This is the crowd Bernie will be dealing with. She has been dealing with right-wing nut jobs since 1992. And the right-wing noise machine has only gotten bigger in the past few years.

He has also said he will not campaign for downticket candidates. That is colossally stupid. He will need allies in Congress, and he is refusing to build any sort of coalition. He thinks he can just go directly to the people. That hasn’t worked for Obama. What is to stop Republicans in Congress from going to the people as well? He is going to need people on his side, and giving Democrats the finger is not going to help him.

He has bad-mouthed the Democratic Pary for years (see this page and this page). As someone who has voted consistently for the Democratic Party, I frankly feel insulted by the idea that this guy now wants my vote after bad-mouthing my choices for decades. You hate us until you want something? I don’t think so.

I hope Hillary gets the nomination. If she does, I think she will win.

I do not think any of the Republicans could win. The past two Republican presidents that rank and file Republican voters loved were Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. (Despite what they all say now, they loved W when he was running and in office. It was only after it was obvious he was the worse president ever that they decided retroactively he was never a “real conservative”.)

What they had in common is they had the support of both the big business wing of the party and the social conservative wing. I do not see any of the current candidates who get support from both of those groups. In fact, I think it might be a long long long time before we see a Republican who gets support from both of those groups.

Image from some museum in the Unwanted Kingdom, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

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Thoughts On Oregon Terrorists

The “occupiers” do not seem like the sharpest knives in the drawer.

They show up with guns out of nowhere, and complain that there are checkpoints.

“We don’t like the feds telling us what to do. So let’s go to some sparsely populated corner of Oregon and push whoever lives there around!!” Why is it the people who complain about “tyranny” always want everybody to do things their way? And why is it that people who go on and on about what strict Constitutionalists they are, it’s usually right before they start going on and on about god. Where in the Constitution does it say anything about how we have to do what your god says? Or, more accurately, what you think he says?

My understanding is these ranchers are getting very good rates from the feds. Lower than they would get from the states. And MUCH lower than they would get if the land were in private hands. Yet still they complain. And Cliven Bundy has gotten loans from SBA. It is amazing how many of the people who complain about government overreach get money or some sort of assistance from the government.

The standoff started because a few locals were convicted of starting fires on federal land. Fires that almost killed a few people. Yes, federal land belongs to everyone. But you can’t ruin it for everybody else (either by setting fire to it or by overgrazing.)

And if you are going to use federal land to make money, then, yes, you should be forced to pay money. It is only fair, since they ARE being subsidized. State taxes are lower than federal taxes. Do they really think that a state would charge a lower rate?

They were essentially stealing from the federal government. From the other 300 million of us. If you are a rancher and you want federal policy changed, then you tell the other 300 million of us what the issue is, and ASK US POLITELY to contact our senators, representatives and/or the relevant federal agency.

If the first time I hear about your grievance is when you are pointing guns at federal agents, then I am not inclined to listen to you.

Image from Wikipedia, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

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Outsider?

Ted Cruz likes to think of himself as some sort of outsider.

When did he become the insurgent taking on the establishment?

Was it when he went to Princeton?

Was it when he went to Harvard Law School?

Was it when he clerked for the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court?

Was it when he worked for the George W. Bush campaign?

Or maybe it was actually working for the Bush Administration that made him an outsider.

Or perhaps when he married a woman who works for the firm that has supplied more elected and appointed officials in more countries than any other in history.

Or perhaps it was when he was the Solicitor General for the State of Texas.

Or perhaps it was when he worked for high-end corporate clients at a high-end Houston law firm.

Or perhaps it was when he became a United States Senator.

When has this guy been on the outside looking in?

So maybe nobody in the Senate likes him. But there are only 100 US Senators in a nation of 300 million.

The liberals in Texas, the atheists, the LGBT, the poor, the people who are not white, the people that Ted Cruz chooses to ignore as Senator and that he has promised he would ignore as President: They are the outsiders.

If Ted Cruz was really as smart as he thinks he is, he would realize that you will never ever ever be an outsider, you will never be standing up to the man, you will never be speaking truth to power when you have spent your whole life either working for the man or being the man, or serving those in power, or being someone with power.

If you can go around and say that atheists and gay people will one day have no place in America and have a chance of making that happen, if you can promise people that millions of other people will have fewer rights and you have a good chance of being able to one day carry out that promise, then you are not an outsider. You are the very thing you claim to be running against.

Image from Dr. Rex’s blog, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

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Unused Comment and a Quote

Aert_de_Gelder_-_Esther_and_MordecaiGoing through some files, I found a small piece that I think I intended to post as a comment on The Immoral Minority. I did some searching, and I don’t think I ever posted it.

I think I wrote it during the 2012 campaign for president, since I quote something that Rick Santorum said.


To 7:47:
“And overthrow these folks who think they know how to orchestrate every aspect of your lives.”

Did Santorum really say that? The guy who probably has wet dreams about forcing people to church at gunpoint said that?

In all seriousness, how do some of these conservatives function? They go on about “freedom”, yet they seem to have very definite ideas about how other people are supposed to live their lives. Given that many of them are religious nutcases, they also seem to want to control the thoughts inside your head. If I have fewer rights because of my beliefs (or lack of belief), then what sort of “freedom” is that? Conformity is not freedom. Obedience is not freedom. I don’t know if I could define freedom, but I do not want the “freedom for some” that these people are pushing.

Plus if you took what Santorum was saying, and told his supporters that a Muslim cleric was saying it, then they would be horrified. Why is Christian Sharia Law any better than Muslim Sharia Law?

To 8:24
I thought “GOP” meant “God’s Oil Pedophiles”.


Also, here is a quote from a comment that someone else left on The Immoral Minority in 2015 that I liked:

You righties mock the Islamists, yet you do the same things: glorify weapons of death, glorify those who use them, teach the usage of weapons of death to children, and by your ideology teach your people to hate the ‘other’ – thus ensuring that eventually, the ‘other’ is obliterated by your weapons of death. All because you, just like the Islamists, are totally lacking in any positive, socially transformative, ideas that are uplifting to your fellow man, including those with whom you disagree. ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ is anathema to you, just as it is anathema to the Islamists. Your ideology is ‘obliterate your neighbor’, the same ideology that they have.

 

Image from Wikipedia page on Aert de Gelder, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

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Thoughts On Trump

Many people are confounded by the candidacy of Donald Trump.

Given his multiple marriages, lack of military experience, business bankruptcies, lack of religiosity, and much, much, more, a lot of people are confounded about why he is so popular with many conservatives. Yes, he showed up in Iowa carrying a Bible, but that seemed like transparent pandering to me. A few of his companies have declared bankruptcy, which left others holding the bag, so there goes personal responsibility. And he has a few other business practices that seem a bit shady.

Sometimes he would push his bankers to the wall, saying if he went under they would have problems. (This is an example of Keynes’ quote that if you have a small loan, you have a problem, but if you have a big loan, the bank has a problem.) He used the financial crisis as a way to get some breathing room from his bankers, but he would not give tenants any breathing room because of the financial crisis.

And a some of his projects went under in the financial crisis. He and his family would say that those were not properties they ran, they just licensed the Trump name to other people. But I think that still shows a lack of business acumen. Perhaps they should have been more careful who they licensed the name to.

But, as Krugman, Robin and Isquith state, conservatism is not about freedom, or business, or religion. It is about the people in charge trying to stay in charge.

I am a bit surprised that Trump actually ran. I thought he would not because for years he refused to state for the record how wealthy he was. He loved to throw out numbers, but he never backed them up. A reporter for the New York Times wrote a book about Trump, and stated that Trump’s net worth is less than $1 billion. Trump said it hurt his business, and sued the reporter, the publisher and the Times. He never produced any documents or statements to prove his wealth. I am not a lawyer, but my understanding is that the burden of proof was on Trump, and he did not meet it.

I am not clear why he did not produce documents and statements before. He wrote books and gave seminars telling people how to make money in real estate. If you claim you are going to show people how to increase their wealth, and implicitly or explicitly point to your wealth as proof your techniques work, then I think asking you to produce some hard numbers is a fair question.

I was surprised he released some information. But according to lawyer Doug Litowitz, the disclosure forms were so convoluted they really did not tell people what Trump’s net worth is. Many writers and journalists looked them over, and they all came away with different numbers. Litowitz states he thinks Trump might be broke, or at least not a billionaire, based on his investments and behavior.

Maybe like Herman Cain, this is all performance art. Or, again like Herman Cain, this guy is really not all that bright. Or like Mike Huckabee, it’s a way to get publicity and more TV deals. Someone pointed out that Trump has attacked just about every GOP nominee except Ted Cruz. Could this be an elaborate conspiracy to elevate Cruz to the nomination? I don’t think those two are that smart, but that could be the unintentional result.

But I think there might be a question that I think nobody has addressed: If he is elected, what happens with his assets? Elected officials usually sell holdings or put them in a blind trust. From what I can gather, his holdings are vast and complex. Liquidating and moving his assets will probably take more time than any other candidates. Does he have a plan in place to do this?

Politicians do this to remove or reduce potential conflicts of interest. If Trump thinks those standards do not apply to him, then is he any different from the sort of politician he claims to be better than?

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Mister Ben Condescending

Ben Carson recently said he wants to get rid of the income tax, and replace it with a flat tax. He did not use the term, but that is what he was talking about.

He said that poor people can pay the same percentage as rich people, and then he said it is “very condescending” to say otherwise.

Do not tell me what is condescending, Mr. Carson. I will tell you what is condescending. At the top of the list is: Mister Ben Carson.

Followed by just about every other Republican.

First off, you trot out the flat tax. And then you tell us it’s just one of your new, fresh, common sense ideas. And that your policies will not favor the wealthy, but instead will be better for everyone. And you think that people will not notice that your new ideas are really the same old ideas, and that you are just another fool carrying water for people who want to bring back feudalism.

Conservative politicians have proposed the flat tax. Many times. They tell us their experts have told them that all we have to do is close the loopholes, and we can make it 10 to 15%, and we can bring in just as much revenue as we do today. And every time, just about every economist who is not advising the latest doofus to push the flat tax tells us that none of it is true. All the other economists say that in order to maintain revenue, the flat tax would have to be closer to 30%, and that low income people would wind up paying a LOT more under a flat tax. And the wealthy would pay a lot less.

And then what happens is the politician pushing the flat tax will exempt people below a minimum income from paying. Which is a concession that the flat tax was regressive even though they said it was not. And makes it less flat and less simple. This happens just about every single time. I think we should pass a law that suggesting a flat tax disqualifies you from elected office.

And a note to Mike Huckabee: You can call the flat tax a “fair tax”, but it is basically the same thing.

What is also condescending, Mister Carson, is you go on about self-reliance and we should get rid of programs that help poor people, when you yourself have admitted that you got government help growing up and would not be where you are today without it. But now that you are successful, you want to pull the ladder up after you and lecture everybody else. Like Paul Ryan and Social Security. Or Marco Rubio with Medicare and student loans. It’s always Republicans who do this. And they seem to think we would not notice. Or that we should change the rules for them. And yet it’s everybody else who is “condescending.”

It seems Mister Carson thinks he is better than all the poor people in this country. That HE can make use of a handout and that they are all too stupid. Yet somehow it’s everybody else who is “condescending.”

One thing I found strange about Mister Carson talking about the flat tax is that he said low income people would pay less under his scheme. Yet Mitt Romney told us that a lot of people pay no taxes at all. So I am not clear how low income people will pay less under a flat tax than they do now.

I don’t think the GOP really wants to change the tax code. They need the IRS to kick around. Granted, if they hate how the IRS operates, they could pass changes to the tax code, since they have the House. During part of Bush 43’s time in office, they had both houses of Congress, yet there was no simplification of the tax code. I think it is because if we had a flat tax, they can’t promise goodies to people.

Plus, how would a flat tax work in reality? I think the government has the power to levy income tax because of the 16th Amendment. If you wanted to get rid of income taxes, wouldn’t you have to overturn the 16th Amendment? What would stop a future president and Congress from going back to an income tax?

 


http://crooksandliars.com/2015/05/chris-wallace-schools-ben-carson-flat-tax
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/05/11/1384065/-Ben-Carson-says-he-d-install-a-flat-tax-and-ignore-the-Supreme-Court
http://www.politico.com/story/2015/05/ben-carson-outlines-flat-tax-proposal-117785.html#ixzz3ZrLyatpA
http://crooksandliars.com/2014/05/welfare-recipent-ben-carson-deserved-his

Ben Carson So Glad His Welfare Mom Wasn’t Dependent On Government


http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/03/26/186905/commentary-dr-ben-carsons-baffling.html
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/ben-carsons-flat-tax-poor-175214945.html

Image from Democratic Underground, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

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