2019/11/13

Response to President's accusations

[Copied and pasted from President's Twitter feed today, 13Nov2019]

“Nancy Pelosi cares more about power than she does about principle. She did not want to go down this road. She realizes this is a huge loser for Democrats.(1) The Founders envisioned the worst people being in politics, yet they couldn’t envision this. You have these people taking... 
...the most powerful tool the legislative branch has, Impeachment, & they’ve turned it into a political cudgel, which is not at all what the Founders intended.(3) When you hear Schiff use all these words like quid pro quo, it is because they can’t specify that Donald Trump broke.. 
....any laws or did anything wrong, and they have to move away from quid pro quo because there was no quid, and there was no quo. Ukraine got it’s money(4) (3 weeks early),(5) and there was no investigation.” (6)

(1) The first sentence contradicts the next two. If Speaker Pelosi cared abut power and if she realizes that impeachment "is a huge loser for Democrats" then that makes zero sense.

(2) Turning impeachment "into a political cudgel" means Democrats are trying to use the threat of impeachment to push the President into doing something he otherwise wouldn't do. Nothing of the kind is happening. As near as I can tell, at worst, Democrats simply want the President out of office, which is precisely what impeachment was for!

(3) Democrats use terms like quid pro quo because that term describes precisely what the President did. Congress had allocated money for Ukraine's defense against Russia. Trump was holding up the aid and he suggested that the money could be released if Ukraine did him a "favor" and provided his re-election campaign with something he could portray as dirt on Joe Biden. It is illegal for the president to interfere with a properly-allocated grant like that. Yes, Trump did do something wrong!

(4) "Ukraine got it’s money"
Yes, they got their money without having first delivered on the bribery that the President extorted out of them, but that had nothing to do with anything the President wanted or planned for or desired.

(5) "(3 weeks early)"? More like several months late! Nothing happened to free up the money until after the whistleblower pointed out that the President was withholding the money that Congress had appropriated.

(6) "there was no investigation.” Eh? Not sure what the President could possibly mean by that as the investigation started with the whistleblower putting out an urgent complaint.

If your only source on information on the impeachment is the President, you're going to end up badly misinformed and confused.

2019/08/27

Medal of Freedom for Art Laffer

In April 2017, when debate on the tax bill that was signed in December of that year began, an economist wrote about the 43-year history of the Laffer Curve (It was first presented to Donald Rumsfeld in 1974). It has never lived up to its hype! 
From 2012 to 2017, Governor Brownback of Kansas tried mightily to institute the Laffer Curve in Kansas. It was an utter and absolute failure
In March of this year, Republicans tried to go back to the way taxes were under Brownback. The new Democratic Governor Laura Kelly held fast and refused to return to the failed past.
In December 2018, the tax cut was clearly a failure at doing anything but making the wealthy wealthier.
So it's difficult to know why Laffer is being awarded a Medal of Freedom by the President unless this is a "gaslighting" sort of thing.

2019/06/22

Special Olympics and Trump Administration


Yeah, it's pretty difficult to cut a small program like Special Olympics and to then turn around and say you have a heart just like everyone else. 

And keep in mind that while Special Olympics costs $18 million a year, DeVos's around-the-clock security detail cost $7.54 million last year and will be $7.7 million this year.

"DeVos defends plan to eliminate Special Olympics funding"
Two statements that caught my eye:
“Given our current budget realities..."
What "realities" might those be? Oooh yeaaah! The massive tax cut that's pretty much the sole legislative accomplishment of Speaker Ryan, Majority Leader McConnell and President Trump.
 
DeVos replied that she thinks the group is “awesome” but should be supported by philanthropy.

That's a defensible idea, but how about some sort of transition? How about a planned move from being government supported to being self-sustaining? I know, I know, that would require, y'know, work and effort and something more than just lounging around on your yacht.

Education Secretary DeVos gets overruled on funding the Special Olympics. She then desperately pretends to be okay with that. "I am pleased and grateful the President and I see eye-to-eye on this issue..." Neither one explains how the issue arose in the first place or why her initial decision was overruled.

The White House, Not DeVos, Wanted to Slash Special Olympics Budget
I had heard the first part of this statement, but not the second. The second makes no sense unless one “accepts the premise that the White House, not DeVos, ordered the cut in the first place.
After Trump reinstated the funds, DeVos issued a statement saying she was “pleased and grateful the President and I see eye-to-eye on this issue.” She then adds“This is funding I have fought for behind the scenes over the last several years.”

2019/06/18

Dealing with Fake News

"Baby boomers share nearly 7 times as many 'fake news' articles on Facebook as adults under 30, new study finds"

Wow! That's pretty sad. Here's my mini-solution to verifying information.

I've had people tell me to check all the sources on a regular basis. Good advice, but too general for me.

I'm currently composing a piece on our march to support Venezuela. Venezuela has a serious problem with its economy. The left-leaning Guardian said that the former president Hugo Chavez imposed price controls on basic food items like flour and that Venezuelan bakers had no economic incentive to produce flour because they couldn't sell flour products at a profit.

I said to myself "Did Venezuela subsidize the production of flour or did they simply slap price controls on it?" I ran a search on "venezuela flour" and checked the right-wing Libertarian website Mises and the more middle-of-the-road NPR. Neither of them mentioned subsidies. NPR provided a good quote from a baker in Caracas where he said something to the effect of "I'd love to produce the more nutritious bread, but I gotta pay workers, gotta pay rent, etc., so I need to produce brownies and cookies that I can sell at a higher price."

So I looked at a good variety of sources and concluded that Venezuela is shooting itself in the foot by imposing price controls without subsidizing the production of basic goods. I search, but in a more organized fashion than to just randomly reading what everybody says about everything.

2019/05/25

Jon Voight and the President's record

The actor Jon Voight has a very high opinion of President Trump: "our country is stronger [&] safer... because our president has made his every move correct."

Stronger? Since 1976, views on pregnancy/abortion haven't changed much. The pro-choicers have consistently outnumbered anti-choicers by about 2 to 1, yet anti-choicers have been strengthened by this President (and by Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader who saw to it that the Supreme Court was not turned liberal by preventing the seating of Judge Merrick Garland) to the point where there are "soaring incidents of trespassing, disruption, and intimidation at abortion clinics." The President has gone all-in on supporting anti-choicers. How is this sort of divisive political action making us stronger?

Safer? Looking at a public opinion poll that examined international attitudes towards the US, there are only three countries that view the US in a more favorable light than they did at the end of the Obama Presidency, Israel, Kenya and Russia. The rest of the world, including long-time allies, view us less favorably.
Also, the US has an intelligence-sharing program with four other countries, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, that is now endangered by the President giving Attorney General William Barr complete authority to investigate how the Mueller Report originated.
How on Earth does any of this count as making us any safer?!?!?!

"Trump claims he is hard at work during ‘Executive Time’"

Hmm. Let's examine the evidence, shall we?

President claims the US was in awful shape before he took office. He lists all the problems and "improvements" he's made.

*Depleted Military
    - No, the military was in fine shape.

*Endless Wars
    -What exactly has he done about those? He's tried to abruptly pull out of Syria, but his lack of real preparation for doing so has led people to believe that he's headed for disaster. ISIS is doing very poorly, but it was doing poorly before January 2017.

*a potential War with North Korea
     - the President did far more to heat up the situation with North Korea than the previous president did. Things were relatively peaceful and stable under Obama.

*V.A.
    - Has anything about the VA been fixed under this president?

*High Taxes
    - Taxes are now higher for those with modest incomes. For the wealthy, taxes are more satisfactory.

*too many Regulations
    - remember the problems with Romaine Lettuce? Caused by insufficient regulations.

*Border, Immigration
     - In 2013, the Senate passed a bill they were reasonably satisfied with. When it got to the House, it was filed away and forgotten. Nothing has been done to revive that earlier deal.

*HealthCare
    - The Republican-run Senate tried to pass a grossly inferior bill. Citizen outrage and a few courageous Republican senators stopped it.

Nah, he can't justify all of his unstructured "executive time."




2018/12/06

Objective vs partisan news


Lots of anti-democratic actions taken by legislatures in Michigan, North Carolina and Wisconsin. Curiously, my local paper, the Philadelphia Inquirer, wasn’t covering any of this. I looked through their paper edition of December 5th and checked their news, politics and opinion sections online. Nada. No mention of what was going on in any of these states. The Inquirer published a piece on the 6th, looking at Wisconsin. This was where the newly-elected governor announced that he’d try and seek an audience with the governor who had lost the election to not destroy democracy in his state.

I was very curious about a paragraph in the Inquirer story:

The session unfolded a month after Republicans were battered in the midterm election. They lost all statewide races amid strong Democratic turnout. But they retained legislative majorities thanks to what Democrats say are gerrymandered districts that tilt the map.

"what Democrats say"? Why is the fact of gerrymandering in Wisconsin treated as though it was somehow controversial for anyone to say this? Why is it treated as though only partisans would agree that Wisconsin's House is very highly gerrymandered?

GQ Magazine says SB 884 passed the State Senate by the very close margin of 17-16, but in the State House, the same bill was passed by 56-27. There were similar margins for SB 886. How can this possibly be explained other than by politicians choosing their voters?

The new legislation tries to protect some of the GOP's achievements in recent years.

Obviously, if the citizens of Wisconsin felt that it was an "achievement" for state health care to have a work requirement, then all of the statewide offices other than the Republican State House majority would have been retained and not tossed out in the November election. There is absolutely no excuse whatsoever for Wisconsin Republicans to seek to retain what the the citizens of Wisconsin have plainly rejected.

What this piece does is that it seeks to prettify and make noncontroversial what is plainly a power grab by legislators who've properly and fairly had their legislative program rejected by the voters of Wisconsin. But the Inquirer seems to feel that it must cove everything so that it's always a matter of legitimate debate between reasonable people.

A partisan publication like Daily Kos has no use for the appearance of being objective and non-partisan and so can simply relate what’s happening in Wisconsin and other states without seeking to try and make both sides appear to be equally honest and aboveboard.

Fairness is always good and always appropriate and partisan publications don’t always do that, so partisan publications aren’t always the best way to learn what’s going on. There are plenty of times when more objective, even-handed publications are better at getting across the facts of the case. But when the facts of a case are heavily skewed in just one direction, when one side is plainly guilty and the other side innocent, then a partisan publication is better for understanding what’s going on. Naturally, this means that a good citizen will check out the other side on at least an occasional basis.

No, sorry, there is no “one-stop shopping” when it comes to understanding political issues and events. Citizens who wish to understand what’s going on have to check out multiple sources to get the truth.

2018/11/24

Rush Limbaugh makes an interesting plea for us to sympathize with President Trump

Radio talker Rush Limbaugh presents the President as a “happy warrior” who “may be the greatest president of our lifetimes” being sorely vexed, harassed and inconvenienced by all of this liberal and Democratic dissent from his generous and benevolent rule. While reading Limbaugh’s case, I agreed with the blogger who reminds us of what Limbaugh snidely referred to as Saudi Arabia “supposedly killing the so-called Washington Post journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.” There was another right-wing talker who has also took the position of dissing Khashoggi, so I guess it’s a thing now that, as far as the right wing is concerned, murdering journalists is okay.

Also, “120 days past federal judge's deadline, migrant kids remain separated from parents.” Children were separated from their parents and until there was a public outcry, the Trump Administration didn’t have any sort of plan for getting the children back together with their parents, thereby effectively kidnapping the children. Back during June, the Trump Administration’s supposed, alleged, “self-avowed advocate of women and children” Ivanka Trump, had nothing to say about the children who had been kidnapped under her father’s family separation policy, but apparently felt it was perfectly okay to post pictures of her happy and attractive family.  

Also, the President appears to feel that it’s within his authority to request that the Supreme Court take up a case that was argued in October, but that the 9th US Circuit Court hasn’t ruled on yet. This is right after the President has been feuding with John Roberts, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, because how dare the Chief Justice take exception to the President referring to a judge as an “Obama judge.” Judges are all supposed to be equally legitimate as they’re all approved by the Senate. There is certainly some justification for drawing distinctions based on who the appointing president was, but that chips away at the legitimacy of all judges when a politician makes distinctions based on that.

So yeah, when Limbaugh says:

This stuff just never ends. You know the great thing? It never seems to get Trump down. He doubles down on this stuff still.
He revs up and he rams it back down their throat every time. 


I just have a really hard time seeing the President in any sort of positive light. I don’t see his energetic defense of his policies as anything to cheer about.