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Messages - DougMacG

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A recent working paper by Gerald Auten and David Splinter, economists at the Treasury and Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation, respectively, reaches a striking new conclusion. It finds that, after adjusting for taxes and transfers, the income share of America’s top 1% has barely changed since the 1960s (see chart 1).
This corrects errors made by alarmists like Piketty Saez who ignore taxation, redistribution and most of the income of the poor. 

Before tax reforms like Reagan's, the income of the rich was more hidden in tax shelters, harder to measure so other studies (see above) didn't count it.

If you're not going to count the income of the rich then or of the poor now, then don't make conclusions about how inequality is changing.

Politics & Religion / Re: Environmental issues
« on: Today at 05:37:38 AM »
I agree.  Like some of my tenants, you shouldn't be allowed to use plastics if you can't successfully land them in a garbage can.

More than a hundred usages of these inflammatory terms in the House report.

the report accuses the president of pushing a “discredited conspiracy theory alleging Ukrainian interference in the 2016 United States Presidential election.”

the report says that Giuliani was hoping to chase down not just claims about the Bidens but “discredited claims about the Bidens.”
Someone once said its not true therefore its forever "debunked", no matter where the facts may fall?  Doesn't that make both Nadler and Schiff debunked?  Can't we just argue on the merits?

Politics & Religion / Clinton Foundation
« on: January 21, 2020, 07:07:28 PM »
I wishI could re-size this.  Need to see it all the way across:

Politics & Religion / Re: Trump kept "pre existing conditions"
« on: January 21, 2020, 09:11:08 AM »
"whoever works health care wins 2020."

Trump should partner up right now with House Republicans and all the best minds of conservative think tanks and hold real policy talks (alongside the impeachment hearings) and propose more moves toward market solutions that they can run on in the fall.  More consumer choices, more deregulation, more details on disclosures of prices, and so on. 

How about a 10 point (conservative) Contract with America on Health Care that will pass the House if the nation elects them?  Build it, perfect it and put it on the ballot.

ccp is right.  Silence on health care will cost them (another) election.  They better have a plan and it better be a good one.

It's House Democrats Days in Washington, today and tomorrow at least.  They have the stage and the coverage if they can keep it.  Apparently they dreaded this day because they can't overcome this one reality: Nothing happened that was impeachable.

The Hole in the Impeachment Case
By Andrew C. McCarthy
January 18, 2020 6:30 AM
Something is missing from the charges against Trump: An impeachable offense.

Thought experiment No. 1: Suppose Bob Mueller’s probe actually proves that Donald Trump is under Vladimir Putin’s thumb. Fill in the rest of the blanks with your favorite corruption fantasy: The Kremlin has video of the mogul-turned-president debauching himself in a Moscow hotel; the Kremlin has a bulging file of real-estate transfers through which Trump laundered racketeering proceeds for Putin’s favored mobsters and oligarchs; or Trump is recorded cutting a deal to drop Obama-era sanctions against Putin’s regime if Russian spies hack Democratic accounts.

Thought experiment No. 2: Adam Schiff is not a demagogue. (Remember, this is fantasy.) At the very first televised hearing, when he alleged that President Trump told Ukrainian president Zelensky, “I want you to make up dirt on my political opponent . . . lots of it,” Schiff was not defrauding the public. Instead, impeachment’s Inspector Clouseau can actually prove that Trump was asking a foreign government to manufacture out of whole cloth evidence that Vice President Biden and his son were cashing in on the former’s political influence (as opposed to asking that Ukraine look into an arrangement so objectively sleazy that the Obama administration itself agitated over what to do about it).

What do these two scenarios have in common, besides being fictional? Answer: If either of them were real, we’d already be talking about President Pence’s upcoming State of the Union address.

This is the point that gets lost in all the endless chatter over impeachment strategy and procedure. Everything that is happening owes to the fact that we do not have an offense sufficiently grave for invocation of the Constitution’s nuclear option. If we had one, the machinations and the posturing would be unnecessary — even ridiculous.

Why are we talking about how Chairman Schiff, Speaker Pelosi, and House Democrats rushed through the impeachment inquiry without making a real effort to interview key witnesses?

Why was the Democrats’ impeachment gambit driven by the election calendar rather than the nature of the president’s offense? Why were the timing of hearings and the unreasonable limits imposed on Republicans’ ability to call witnesses dictated by the frantic rush to get done before Christmas recess — to the point that Democrats cynically vacated a subpoena they’d served on a relevant administration witness, fearing a few weeks of court battles that they might lose?

Why did Democrats grope from week to week in a struggle over what to call the misconduct they accused the president of committing – campaign finance, extortion, quid pro quo, bribery? How did they end up with an amorphous “abuse of power” case? How did they conclude that an administration that goes to court rather than instantly surrendering potentially privileged information commits obstruction?

Why such tedious recriminations over adoption of Senate procedures that were approved by a 100–0 vote the last time there was an impeachment trial? Why all the kvetching over whether witnesses will be called when those procedures provide for the calling of witnesses in the likely event that 51 senators — after hearing nearly two weeks of presentation and argument from both sides — want to hear from one or two of them?

Why, with Election Day only ten months away, would Speaker Pelosi stoke an impeachment vote that could be perilous for many of her members, on the insistence that Trump was such a clear and present danger she could brook no delay, but then . . . sit on the impeachment articles for a month, accomplishing nothing in the interim except to undermine the presidential bids of several Senate Democrats, who will be trapped in Washington when they should be out campaigning with Iowa’s caucuses just two weeks away?

None of this would have happened if there had been a truly impeachable offense.

Adam Schiff is a smart guy. He did not idly dream up a “make up dirt” parody. He framed it because he knows that’s the kind of misconduct you would need to prove to warrant impeachment and removal of a president. In fact, Schiff could never prove that, but he figured parody is good enough for 2020 campaign purposes — and that’s what this exercise is all about.

If collusion with Russia had been fact rather than farce, Trump would never have made it to an impeachment trial. He’d have had to resign. Prior to November 8, 2016, Republicans were not the ones in need of convincing that Russia was a dangerous geopolitical threat. If it had been real collusion that brought Democrats around to that conclusion, the votes to impeach and remove would have been overwhelming.

And the timing would have been irrelevant. If Americans had been seized by a truly impeachable offense, it would not matter whether Election Day was two years, two months, or two weeks away. The public and the political class would not tolerate an agent of the Kremlin in the Oval Office.

If there were such egregious misconduct that the public was convinced of the need to remove Trump, such that two-thirds of the Senate would ignore partisan ties and do just that, there would be no partisan stunts. Democratic leaders would have worked cooperatively with their GOP counterparts, as was done in prior impeachments. They would have told the president: “Sure, you can have your lawyers here, and call whatever witnesses you want.” There would be a bipartisan sense that the president had done profound wrong. There would be a sense of history, not contest. Congressional leaders would want to be remembered as statesmen, not apparatchiks.

If there were a real impeachable offense, there would be no fretting about witnesses at the trial. Senate leaders would be contemplating that, after hearing the case extensively presented by both sides, there might well be enough votes to convict without witnesses. But if there were an appetite for witnesses, witnesses would be called . . . as they were in Watergate. And just as in Watergate, if the president withheld vital evidence of appalling lawlessness, the public would not be broadly indifferent to administration stonewalling.

If there were an obviously impeachable offense, the garrisons of Fort Knox could not have stopped Nancy Pelosi from personally marching impeachment articles into the Senate the second the House had adopted them — in what would have been an overwhelming bipartisan vote (of the kind that Pelosi, not long ago, said would be imperative for a legitimate impeachment effort).

The Framers expected presidents to abuse their powers from time to time. And not just presidents. Our Constitution’s theory of the human condition, and thus of governance, is that power is apt to corrupt anyone. It needs to be divided, and the peer components need to be incentivized to check each other. The operating assumption is that, otherwise, one component would accumulate too much power and inevitably fall prey to the tyrannical temptation. But as Madison observed, men are not angels. Separation of powers arms us against inevitable abuse, it does not prevent abuse from happening. Abuse is a given: Congress uses lawmaking power to encroach on the other branches’ prerogatives; judges legislate from the bench, presidents leverage their awesome powers for political advantage. The expectation is not that government officials will never overreach; it is that when one branch does overreach, the others will bring it into line.

That is the norm: corrective action or inaction, political pressure, naming and shaming, power of the purse, and so on. We expect to criticize, inveigh, even censure. We don’t leap from abuse to expulsion. We don’t expect routinely to expel members of Congress or impeach presidents and judges. That is reserved for historically extraordinary wrongs.

On Ukraine, nothing of consequence came of President Trump’s bull-in-a-china-shop excesses. Sure, they ought to be a 2020 campaign issue. Democrats, instead, would have us exaggerate them into historically extraordinary wrongs. For that, you need gamesmanship. If there were real impeachable misconduct, there would be no time or place for games.

Chappaquidick  [movie]
That was accurate honest

Yes.  They stayed away from everything that was only speculated.  Most likely an autopsy would have shown she had sex with him that night.  Maybe she was smitten with him and maybe it was 'me, too' type stuff of which he was also known.  The women of the party were fans of the late charismatic Bobby, not necessarily the loser leftover Ted.

Politics & Religion / Re: NM sheriffs against Red Flag
« on: January 21, 2020, 08:36:16 AM »

New Mexico in this case, but this could happen in almost every state.  Trump carried 78 of 87 counties in Minnesota in a close loss.  Driving across northern, central and western Wisconsin last summer (where Trump won) I couldn't help noticing that all the political yard signs were for Sheriff with the name changing every time you go into another county.  Out in the heartland, they care deeply who is Sheriff.  For all the political study I do, I couldn't figure out the meaning of that.

Politics & Religion / Re: Warren- Sanders
« on: January 21, 2020, 08:17:16 AM »

Too bad he's not that fast on his feet.  She never would released the audio. 

Her accusation (pre-planned) is meant to make it look like she was telling the truth, but that isn't what she would have said if she was.  She would have said, "Yes you said that, that's exactly what you said", not 'you exposed me in front of everyone as a liar.'

Politics & Religion / Re: unbelievable she is still dreaming of running
« on: January 21, 2020, 08:13:16 AM »
"How about a real . *honest* portrait of one of the most vile dishonest self serving despicable controlled corrupt politicians in history ?"
This opens the door for that and someone should put it all out there. 

I saw the movie of Chappaquidick (only a year ago?), made by someone who was not born yet, saw the biggest political scandal of all time and couldn't believe no one had done it yet.  Maybe same thing here.

Just the story of Clintons during Whitewater could be a serious full length movie.  Same for the Clinton Cash years of the Foundation, Uranium One etc.

Problem is that looking back at Hillary, who never made it, is not the best use of our time. Proving her to be a crook is math too easy.  Make her the nominee again and maybe the resources of the right won't hold back this time.

Maybe a comfortable time after Bill Clinton's death someone of Hollywood level skills can put out the some episodes of how they both really were.  He is a former two term President; she is an asterisk in history.

Funny might be parody of the Madam Secretary TV show more accurately aimed at Hillary.

But the Democrats move on fast.  We have the 5 Bidens other than Joe who were enriched by his power, the academic fraud that lifted Liz Warren to the stage, the Soviet, Iran, Sandinista preferences of Bernie to work on, and if we succeed at exposing all that, they still have a little Marxist Butti for us.

Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics
« on: January 19, 2020, 07:48:04 AM »
a recent working paper by Gerald Auten and David Splinter, economists at the Treasury and Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation, respectively, reaches a striking new conclusion. It finds that, after adjusting for taxes and transfers, the income share of America’s top 1% has barely changed since the 1960s (see chart 1).

“The only people on this stage who have won every single election that they’ve been in are the women: Amy and me,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said during the Democratic debate in Des Moines on Tuesday.

[Besides that she is a Democrat who barely won in a heavily Democratic state: Every elected president of the last half-century [except Trump?] has been a loser. From Richard Nixon to Barack Obama, all of those professional politicians lost a political campaign before making it to the White House. Nixon and Ronald Reagan lost big promising bids for the presidency itself.

Had to look up this one:
Georgia Democratic primary results 1966
Candidate        Votes        %
Ellis Arnall        231,480  29.38
Lester Maddox  185,672  23.56
Jimmy Carter   164,562  20.89

Paraphrase of anti-fragile, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.  Warren's setbacks were to be caught up in lies.  What did she learn from that, to stop lying?  Not when she still denies all her lies. 

Politics & Religion / Re: Sen. Bernie Sanders supported Iran Revolution
« on: January 19, 2020, 06:48:52 AM »
His sympathies with the old Soviet Union were just the start of his anti-Americanism.

With Iran back in the spotlight, the Daily Beast reminds us that we–and Bernie Sanders–have been here before:

On April 1, 1979, the theocratic Islamic Republic of Iran was proclaimed. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who had returned to Iran from exile to assume command of the revolt, became Supreme Leader in December of that year. His rise was accelerated by the seizure on Nov. 4 of 52 American diplomats and citizens, and citizens of other countries, at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. The hostage crisis became the means by which the Ayatollah crushed political opponents in Iran. Dealing with the hostage taking became the overwhelming political crisis for President Jimmy Carter. It lasted 444 days.

Virtually all Americans—Democrats, Republicans and independents—united in support of the hostages and the international call for their freedom. One prominent political figure on the 2020 stage, then almost completely unknown, stood apart by joining a Marxist-Leninist party that not only pledged support for the Iranian theocracy, but also justified the hostage taking by insisting the hostages were all likely CIA agents. Who was that person? It was Bernie Sanders.

Sanders was a member of the Trotskyite Socialist Workers’ Party. Not just any member, either; he was the SWP’s presidential elector for Vermont, and he appeared with, and campaigned for, the SWP’s presidential candidate.

When its presidential candidate, Andrew Pulley, came to speak at the University of Vermont in October 1980, Sanders chaired the meeting.
In his standard stump speech, Pulley condemned “Carter’s war drive against the Iranian people,” and said that the U.S. “was on the brink of war with Iran,” which would be fought “to protect the oil and banking interests of the Rockefellers and other billionaires.” Americans, he predicted, would soon “pay on the battlefields with our very own lives.” Their criticism of the Ayatollah was intended “to get us ready for war.” And, Pulley charged, the media who criticized those of us who were against “American imperialism” were “declared insane.” As for the hostages, Pulley said “we can be sure that many of them are simply spies… or people assigned to protect the spies.”

Pulley’s words were a direct echo of what the Islamic Society of University Teachers and Students had declared on Nov. 4, 1979 : “We defend the capture of this imperialist embassy, which is a center for espionage.”

Not much has changed since 1980. Sanders is still a blame-America-first crank who had little or nothing to say about the Iranian-led attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. But he exploded in fury over the killing of arch-terrorist Qassem Soleimani and pledged to “stop a war with Iran,” just as in 1980 his Socialist Workers’ Party had no problem with the mullahs holding 52 Americans hostage for over a year, but hysterically warned that the Carter administration was leading us into war with Iran. Which would have been all our fault.

Sanders was a nasty piece of work then, and he is equally nasty now.

Politics & Religion / Re: 2020 Presidential election
« on: January 18, 2020, 02:04:06 PM »
The billion or so they spend in most of the primary states won't move the needle an inch in the general election because they are uncontested one way or the other. 

All the time they are spending in Iowa is wasted too.  Trump will win Iowa.

Politics & Religion / Re: 2020 Presidential election
« on: January 17, 2020, 06:29:32 PM »
Interesting that Sanders is hiring Hispanic staff in Calif and Bloomberg is spending millions there, but a lot of these Democrat delegate states are not contested states in the general election. 

Just my opinion but these new state laws awarding their states delegates to the national popular vote winner are unconstitutional.  They disenfranchise that state's voters.  We will see.

Steve Hayward suspects Bloomberg may intend to run as an independent, especially if a Lefty like Bernie is the nominee. Loser's bracket?   (One more path for Trump to win; Divided Democrats.)

Politics & Religion / Re: Meet Dalia al-Aqidi
« on: January 17, 2020, 04:34:23 PM »

 :-D  8-) :-)

Thank you for this.  A republican can't win, but to run hard, present an alternative, work to change minds and close the gap is crucially important.  People said a Democrat couldn't be elected Senator in Alabama, but if the ruling party candidate is weak enough or the field is divided, you never know.

Interesting point here:

"Although Biden, on the surface, would have a good chance of beating Trump, recent presidential elections have shown that the candidate with the ability to generate more enthusiasm among their base fares better than a candidate chosen by default. Just think of the failed candidacies of John Kerry, John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Hillary Clinton. In contrast, Trump enjoys a passionate following and the GOP is more unified around him than when he won the first time around."
Same would apply to Bloomberg if he is chosen for his supposed competence and ability to defeat Trump.  Will the AOC-Sanders wing with all its ground support be motivated to get out the vote for the other billionaire - who defeated them with his ill-gotten (in their view) money?  The energy in the Dem party is built around ideology.  Bloomberg lacks that and has "zero personality".  If Bloomberg reaches out in policy positions to the far Left, he loses his natural support in the center.  A billion dollars or two won't change that dynamic.

Politics & Religion / Re: Taibbi on CNN
« on: January 16, 2020, 05:12:37 PM »

Wow.  He's right on all of that.  "[You] never said it? “That is correct,” Sanders said. Phillip turned to Warren and deadpanned: “Senator Warren, what did you think when Senator Sanders told you a woman could not win the election?”

CNN has really pissed off the Left. 

They burned their bridge with all Republicans, burned the middle with all the fake stuff.  Now they've burned The Bern.  Are you really still 'mainstream' if you've lost the right, left and center?


I hope this graph fits on the page.  See the far right side where price plunge.

With the average household spending about $2,700 annually on prescriptions—including the taxes they pay to support government programs purchasing prescriptions—that is an annual savings of $270 per household.

Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy
« on: January 16, 2020, 09:42:43 AM »
Nice find!

Hat tip:  Dan Mitchell, economist who has worked at Heritage and Cato.

Politics & Religion / Impeachment, Here we go...
« on: January 16, 2020, 09:27:20 AM »
From what I've read and heard:  The 'trial' starts Tuesday at 1pm Eastern.  'Prosecution' gets 24 hours to present their case.  Defense gets 24 hours.  8 hour days take that to 9pm not counting breaks and interruptions.  Does that mean midnight?  48 hours is 6 full days.  They will work Saturdays and take Sunday off, unable to travel weekends.  If they use all of that time, it takes us through the second week. 

Senators have to just sit there.  They are not allowed electronic devices or reading material that is not part of the case.  (Who enforces that?)  That is torture for anyone, plus it is Schiff and Nadler going on and on about activities of which they are already fully aware.  Senators can submit written questions, that's it.  Those will be read by the Chief Justice Roberts AFTER the first 48 hours, making the proceedings even longer.  Then maybe motions and votes, but that could be when the real trial begins with witnesses and cross examinations.  Could take until summer if no one says STOP!

Does the Senate interrupt for other business?  Does the clock stop for bathroom, lunch and dinner breaks?  National security briefings?  Does the Supreme Court shut down its cases absent one member?  Does the Chief Justice stop to consult with other Supreme Court members (at his discretion) when serious constitutional questions arise, after all, this is a nation-changing, constitutional crisis between the other two branches of government.  Does the House of Representatives conduct any serious business knowing the other chamber is tied up - because of them?  Were they doing anything anyway in divided government?

Meanwhile, the campaign: do the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire town halls go on without 4 candidates participating?  will they re-schedule to date uncertain?  Does Biden at the center of this corruption scandal actually benefit from it?  Does he go ahead with more of his big rallies of 7 or 8 people while the others can go to diners in Iowa at 10pm central via skype?  Who will show up for that? (It's 10 below this morning in Iowa.)  I have been asking, who will be the first contender to rip Biden for his role in this?  From a Dem point of view, his behavior was very Trump-like in this.

Meanwhile, Trump!  His electronic devices will be alive and active while the Senators are silent.  Will he govern responsibly during this time, or step in it and make things worse?  Will the economy keep roaring with two, going on three, new trade agreements coming through, more deregulation and more openings on healthcare.  How about some 'tax reform' on day one of the trial?  Wag THAT dog while the rest have their tails (tales) between their legs.  Ask Larry Kudlow (or Doug) what he alone could do to jump start the economy further this election year, without action from Congress.  The administration is not out of governing and deregulation ideas.

The 'jury' will begin with their own biases and mostly predetermined outcomes, subject to new information.  Republicans 'mavericks' include Susan Collins - Maine, Lisa Murkowski - Alaska, Mitt Romney - Utah.  Who else?  Will VP Pence be needed to step in on critical rules votes?  Red state Democrats are on the hot seat.  Most obvious, Joe Manchin - West Virginia and Doug Jones - Alabama.  What about the others from states that Trump won and from states that Trump might win.  Jon Tester - Montana is not up for reelection, but not immune to political forces.  Michigan has two Dem Senators, one up for reelection. Trump won Michigan. Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania were won by Trump and have one Dem Senator each. Nevada, New Mexico, Minnesota all have two Dem Senators and Colorado has one - in states that could be in play.   How much Derangement do they want to be part of?  The less the better.  What is the 'middle ground' in impeachment, conviction, removal of an elected leader who turned out to not be an agent of Russia?

Famous people NOT reading the forum:  Pelosi had a chance stop this yesterday and end this with impeachment in the House, not with acquittal in the Senate. 

Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy, NYT Flat Tax
« on: January 15, 2020, 11:09:13 AM »
Does anyone remember when the NYT and Democrats favored a flat tax?

Yes, There Is a Better Income Tax

June 6, 1982, Section 4, Page 20

As many Americans keep saying, it's a poison in the body politic. Who can respect an income tax system that allows many wealthy citizens to pay little or no tax yet claims close to half the marginal earnings of the middle class? Who can defend a tax code so complicated that even the most educated family needs a professional to decide how much it owes?

Unpopular as it is, however, the income tax system has been remarkably resistant to improvement. President Reagan's tax package will eventually roll back rates to the level of the late 1970's, but it will not simplify the code or rid it of provisions that penalize hard work and reward unproductive investment. No wonder that skeptical politicians rank serious tax reform with gun control and free world trade - as worthy causes unworthy of the time of realists.

The skeptics may yet be proved wrong. The obstacles to reform are no less daunting than they were a decade ago. But Congress is beginning to see that the public's tolerance is not unlimited; disaffection is great, cheating has increased. If any reform has a chance, it is the fresh start proposed by Senator Bradley of New Jersey and Representative Gephardt of Missouri.

Federal income taxes now claim only 12 percent of all personal income. But the income base that is taxed has been so eroded by exceptions and preferences that the rates on what is left to tax must be kept high. Thus, the tax on an extra dollar of income for a typical family earning $20,000 is 28 percent and progressively higher for the more affluent. The urge for reform, therefore, usually attacks the most egregious exemptions in the code, to exploit popular resentments and to enlarge the tax base.

But a diffused public outrage has been no match for well-funded special interests. So a new generation of reformers aims to rebuild the income tax base from scratch. It hopes to simplify the tax code and sharply lower the marginal tax rates for all.

The most dramatic fresh start, without changing the total amount collected, would be a flat-rate tax levied on a greatly broadened income base. Senator Helms of North Carolina would rid the law of virtually every tax preference and tax all income at about 12 percent. Representative Panetta of Cali-fornia would retain a few preferences and tax at a flat 19 percent. Either approach would greatly improve the efficiency of the system, simplifying calculations and increasing the incentive to earn. But the price of simplicity in such a flat-rate tax is an enormous redistribution of income.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, Mr. Helms's plan would raise the burden on those earning $5,000 to $10,000 by 147 percent - while decreasing the total paid by families in the $100,000 to $200,000 range by 47 percent. Mr. Panetta would fully protect the poor but would still be increasing the burden on middle-income families.

Lacking this radical simplicity, but preserving the present balance of pain, is the Bradley-Gephardt plan. It would continue to permit a few politically sensitive deductions, like home mortgage interest and contributions to charity. But more affluent families would pay a surcharge on these preference items. Also, the marginal tax rate would increase with income, topping out at 28 percent for those earning more than $37,000.

Unlike a flat tax, Bradley-Gephardt would thus not mix tax reform with redistribution: no income class would benefit at the expense of any other. But dozens of tax exemptions would be eliminated; most would pay tax on almost all types of income. The average citizen could thus figure his own taxes and figure that his neighbor was also paying a fair share.

Neither a flat tax, nor a sophisticated hybrid like Bradley-Gephardt, would be easy to enact. Hardly anyone objects to the idea of simplification; but almost every voter aims to protect a favorite piece of tax-exempt turf. Investors want preferences for capital gains; working parents want deductions for child care; Americans abroad want foreign income exclusions, and so on. All exclusions can find their justification. But by cumulatively narrowing the tax base, all contribute to making the income tax code a disaster.

The issue, then, is whether Congress can muster the vision to look to the common interest. The hurdles are formidable, but so are the potential benefits: a return to fairness and faith in a system that lies at the heart of responsible government.

A version of this article appears in print on June 6, 1982, Section 4, Page 20 of the National edition with the headline: Yes, There Is a Better Income Tax.

Politics & Religion / Re: 2020 Presidential election
« on: January 15, 2020, 09:37:36 AM »
Plugs looked like his gaffy self again

needs better earphones telling him what to say

I think we have dodged the bullet of seeing another young exciting Barack Obama 2007-2008-like candidate with no background steal the show this year.  Butti isn't that, nor is Bloomberg.  Kamala couldn't do it, nor Cory, nor Jullian.  We'll know more after Iowa and NH but this looks like two old white guys, octogenarians, of limited ability and limited appeal, fighting for the nomination.  Make that three if we count Bloomberg.  Granted that Trump is an old white guy by most voters standards but he is younger than those 3 still standing. Warren is 3 years younger.

Assuming its not Warren or Butti, it's not going to be a black, an Hispanic, an Asian American, a woman or a gay.  There goes the identity thing.  Will they really have to compete on substance??
Mentioned previously:  CNN’s Van Jones Buries 2020 Field After Debate: ‘Nothing I Saw Tonight Would Be Able to Take Donald Trump Out
Last great hope was Michelle O.  It just isn't going to happen after others win all the delegates.  Mo-Joe?  Bernie-mania?  She would just piss all of them off.  And she isn't exactly honing her issue and policy skills by selling books about childhood and family.  She is competing to be greatest first lady of all time, not POTUS.

Politics & Religion / Re: Environmental issues
« on: January 15, 2020, 08:41:48 AM »
I went to post it on FB and was told by FB:

"Independent fact-checkers at Science Feedback say this post has false information. To help stop the spread of false news, a notice will be added to your post if you decide to share this.
Pages and websites that repeatedly publish or share false news will see their overall distribution reduced and be restricted in other ways."

I posted anyway.

What is the "false information"?  Arsonists lit the fires?  Lack of fire breaks allowed the spread?  All true.  Lack of warming shown on a specific December chart he cites?  That's false(?) but the adjusted NOAA data is true?  Says whom?  Not the thermometers in Australia:

Can you post a warning to warn to warn of their warning? 

False information spread by mis-named,"independent fact-checkers" along with repeated curtailment of our ability to communicate here without interruption will result in reduced future market share for biased proprietary websites. 

  * For Environmental Posts with a different set of fact checkers, please visit:

Politics & Religion / Re: My take on the 10 minutes I watched
« on: January 15, 2020, 07:20:40 AM »
" I would reach out to our allies "  (lets go ask France what they would do)
"I would use diplomacy "  (you mean you would not nuke the m f ers off the face of the Earth)
" I would use sanctions and diplomacy "   
" I would never use troops unless there is no other option"

Or the one we learned from the career diplomats in Ukraine:

'I would follow the "interagency consensus" '.

Because that's what a 'leader' does.

Politics & Religion / Re: 2020 Presidential election, Debate continued
« on: January 15, 2020, 07:14:04 AM »
Proven electability?  Of the 6 on stage, four have won statewide elections only in solid blue states, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Vermont and Delaware.  [If you add Bloomberg to the mix, NYC is a solid blue 'state'.]  Butti lost statewide in a state that elected Democratic Senators in 2008 and 2012.  The outsider Steyer has never run but proved he has nothing but money to offer.  Where are the swing state governors?  And who is the outsider with major crossover appeal? 

The debate established that besides Biden's idiocy, Warren and Sanders cannot do simple math.  Warren said no one else on stage has defeated an incumbent Republican in 30 years.  Sanders said I did.  Warren asked when?  Sanders said in 1990.  Then both paused to contemplate the troubling math of that (30 years ago, when the Milli Vanilli lip-synching scandal broke).  We need a video of that moment to appreciate the perplexity of these geniuses.  Were they using their fingers to count three decades?

Politics & Religion / Re: 2020 Presidential election, Dem Debate Iowa
« on: January 15, 2020, 06:41:23 AM »
Maybe I am alone in not subscribing to cable but the debate was literally impossible to watch.  Presidential debates are now sold to the highest bidder.  Money trumps viewership?  Good luck with that.  The previous debate had the lowest ratings ever.  This one didn't even get a rating?

CNN's first two words on  it, "Caution ruled..."  Highlights are just as hard to come by, apparently there weren't any.   Warren is a woman.  She is electable (nationally) because she beat a republican (barely) in Massachusetts.  (What's wrong with this math?)  Bernie denied saying a woman can't win. (Warren is a liar.)  Hunter shouldn't face scrutiny because Biden's good son died.  (Beau wouldn't have done this.)   Warren refused to shake Bernie's hand at the end.  Butti addressed his lack of black support by asking black asking black voters to join him.  Brilliant.  All want the Iran deal back, paving the path to a nuclear Iran.  None were asked about sending another planeload of cash to do that or tie terrorism to it which the previous deal did not.  Nothing on China, peace through deterrence or GDP growth?  They were not asked to comment on lowest unemployment for EVER blacks and Hispanics or that the lower end wage earners made the biggest income gains in the Trump economy or the new China trade deal.  Nothing said about Iran launching missiles at American troops. The blacks and Hispanics on the stage... okay, just kidding, they don't even have a Cherokee anymore.   Even liberals like Van Jones saw nothing to show that any of them are ready to take on Trump much less be President.

CNN's Chris Cillizza has Biden and Bernie as the Losers of the debate:
"the former vice president is the worst (debater of the 6). On Tuesday night he consistently seemed to forget or misstate a point, forcing him to go back and restate it to make sure he got it right. It made for a halting performance, in which he came across as less forceful and sure of himself than others on the stage. Biden also spent a lot of time talking about mistakes he had made on past votes -- support for the war in Iraq being the most prominent -- which doesn't strike me as how his campaign wanted him to spend much debate time."
* Tom Steyer. "Simply put, the billionaire businessman looked badly out of his depth. He struggled badly to make the case that he was better equipped than his rivals to manage the country's foreign policy -- his answer amounted to the fact that he has traveled a lot internationally (and, no, I am not kidding) -- and things didn't get much better for him from there. For most of the debate, it felt like the Top 5 were involved in one conversation and Steyer was just, well, there."

Did anyone watch?

I'm not a lawyer but I haven't seen this protection in the constitution.

Biden: Trump Has "Savaged My Surviving Son," My Family "Irrelevant" To His Impeachable Offenses

The corruption of Americans in Ukraine can't be explored in the investigation of the f President Trump asking Ukraine for help investigating the corruption of Americans in Ukraine - because Joe Biden lost his other son and this is the only one he has left.  Further exposing of Biden family corruption would be unfair to Biden.

Makes perfect sense.  ??

A "procedural" vote in the  House today to send the articles of Impeachment to the Senate.  Has anyone ever heard of that?  Last chance to chicken out.  I have been asking from the start, what is the end game for the Democrats, where is the off-ramp?  Here's one.  Vote this down.  End this now.  Otherwise, as Wolf Blitzer asked in a debate question: " it going to be harder to run against President Trump if he's been acquitted and able to claim vindication...?"

Umm, yes and your lame answer doesn't  mitigate that.  It's also going to be harder to impeach him again in the next 5 years if they run into some future real or further imagined evidence to do so if they move forward with this hoax.

Politics & Religion / Re: 2024 Rubio
« on: January 14, 2020, 12:31:47 PM »
How has Rubio changed in your opinion?

To be fair, it might be, how has my perception of him changed?

1. In that exchange you mentioned with Chris Christie, he choked. Before that he was the best debater in the field.

2. He threatened to hold up the entire tax reform bill for the provision he wanted. The provision he wanted in my opinion violated a principle he had previously articulated.

3. I don't know what to think about his new hyphenated capitalism movement. To me. Freedom doesn't need to be hyphenated.

Politics & Religion / Re: do not have votes to dismiss
« on: January 14, 2020, 10:13:54 AM »

Mitt vying to be VP ( for Joe plugs Biden) will not vote to dismiss - among others including the usual Collins Murkowski
probably Mike Lee and few others.

so this goes on for even longer...........ughhh

I agree with Rush this is a mistake.

Unless they simply remove Trump the Dems will criticize this no matter what so might as well get rid of this ASAP

But of course some Republicans cannot simply say no.........

They are in uncharted waters.  The Senate Republicans need the public to perceive that they took this constitutional responsibility seriously.  Yes, we already saw the House has nothing, but the House gets to present its entire case to the Senate, hopefully interrupted by objections such as facts not in evidence, hearsay, etc.  Then same for the defense, they get to answer everything accused and introduce their own theory.  There was every rightful reason for the President to want to look into the corruption and use financial leverage to do so.

At that point there will be motions to take votes.  Democrats would like to use the trial for further inquiry.  I have to guess that will be rejected since they passed their impeachment without further inquiry.  But if there is, the Biden family corruption becomes fair game with no time limit on the defense to explore it.  My guess is that Rudy G is ready to go on this, a world class prosecutor in his own right, much more so than the House 'managers'.

Two Democrats lean to the R side with Trump and a number of Republicans are not solidly pro-Trump and have their own divided constituencies to attend to.

I predict an acquittal vote after fully hearing from both sides but don't rule out a scenario where both Trump and Biden end up testifying.

Who will be the first of the Dem candidates to blame Biden for this mess (along with Trump) ?  Biden just took the lead in the first 4 states.  Either attack him or drop out.  Covering for him further is surrender.

Politics & Religion / Income up in all US metros, 1st time in 26 years
« on: January 14, 2020, 09:18:45 AM »

"First time in 26 years"   - What??  Never happened in the Obama years, when the economy was "already healthy"?

"Americans in every U.S. metropolitan area experienced economic prosperity in 2018, according to a recent report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis."

Politics & Religion / The Root: Biden doesn't deserve black support
« on: January 14, 2020, 08:33:49 AM »

"if Biden or his team were honest, they’d tell you they’ve done little to garner this level of black support,... if Biden were any other candidate, his racial gaffes and behavior would have made him an afterthought years ago for black people."

Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy
« on: January 14, 2020, 08:08:45 AM »
Any further words from the econ prof who thinks 3.1% is "higher than the ideal growth rate"?

Here are some lower growth rates (Venezuela):

Politics & Religion / Re: 2020 Presidential election
« on: January 14, 2020, 07:57:11 AM »
Well, Booker's "Hail Mary" appeal for the "affirmative action because Dem primary voters are racist vote" fell flat and so he is out.  What a putz!

As far as I can tell, Biden & Warren are the same voting block.  Seen in that light Biden is a distant second.

I've seen reports Steyer is picking up sharply in Super Tuesday states in response to his heavy spending.

I've made some noise about Bloomberg previously and continue to think he may well surprise strongly to the upside.  His ads are mainstream Dem with a strong dose of communicating his actual executive experience.

This point about executive experience could be an important factor.  I remember in the Rep debates in 2016 there was a moment when Chris Christie destroyed Marco Rubio for being a legislative debater instead lacking in experience in making real world decisions.

Bloomberg's ads speak of his building a 20,000 (or was it 50,000?) employee company and his experience as mayor of NYC.  He may have been a nanny fascist, but the way I remember it he was a competent mayor.  Bottom line?  Someone who has been responsible for real world decisions will resonate when contrasted with the polling group talking points legislator.  Add in that His ad communicates well emotionally on health care, abortion, and gun rights. 

If the Sandernista wing unites behind Bernie or Forked Tongue Lizzy, Slow Joe's sales pitch weakens considerably and the remnants of the reasonable wing of the Dem party may well turn to Bloomberg (and his self financed campaign).

I like your take on this better than mine.  I see Steyer as a loser, but if he can win delegates, that takes away from whomever is the leader.

Same for Bloomberg.  Yes he is a successful executive and mostly successful mayor.  That plays well with some centrists on the Dem side, not a majority.  I don't see him winning over more delegates in a convention than his actual vote count.

Interesting that the rest all lack executive experience.  The former VP, like the former first lady, never won an election or held ultimate responsibility for results.  Being mayor of Burlington or South Bend-over is executive experience at the beginner level.  At least Howard Dean was governor of one of those small states, still miles below the responsibility of being President.  Fully untested. 

In his prime, Bloomberg could manage and motivate people and make key decisions on market dominance and profit exploitation (detested by most of the left).  He won elections but NYC is not a cross section of the country and stop and frisk among other things will not bring out all of the key constituencies needed to win.

Good to see Sanders and Warren begin to fight.

One thing they underestimated with Trump (and Reagan) is the value of experience in show business.  Bloomberg and Steyer have ads with narrators.  With Steyer, a narrator makes the case for term limits, an issue outside the scope of the Presidency.  Their best consultants tell them the point is better made by the same  paid narrator that does all the political ads.  Biden, Sanders and Warren are all unpleasant to listen to.  Trump ads will be making his case in the first person - in front of roaring, enthusiastic crowds.


This poll shows Biden extremely weak with Hispanics.  Biden is weak with young people.  Bernie is weak with old people.

Also, both Biden and Sanders are weak in the Mountain West region which includes swing states Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico.  Democrats cannot let an incumbent who won 304 electoral votes and governed way better than expected expand his map.

I suggested a mountain state, swing state, two term Governor for them, but Hickenlooper had to tell an Iowa crowd how he took his mother to see deep throat - and stayed for the whole show.  Eeeewwwww!

The shallow bench of Democrat qualified contestants with executive and Washington experience is Obama's and Pelosi's fault.

Politics & Religion / Re: 2024
« on: January 14, 2020, 07:08:50 AM »
Much to like there, but keep in mind she is something of a neocon Bushie.

Walter Russell Mead calls the Trump method Jacksonian.  Teddy R: carry a big stick.  For Reagan, it was peace through strength.  No missiles fired bringing down the USSR.  The Trump method is Bellicose Isolationism.  Nikki Haley was part of that.  She stood strong at key moments and  hasn't wavered since.

It was weasels like Powell who said if you break, you have to fix it, meaning nation building after the air war and losing 3000+ Americans.

Before 2024 we can hear more about her economic policy but as I understand it, it is somewhere near mine.

By 2024, the Republican establishment is a generation out of power.

Maybe her bumper sticker will be, speak softly but purge the deep state of all its power and position.  There is some wishful thinking needed to like a candidate before you see them govern.

P.S.  I like Pence too.  Rubio has changed.  I see Cruz as unelectable.

Politics & Religion / Re: 2024
« on: January 13, 2020, 12:41:23 PM »
Nikki Haley is working hard right now for 2024.  She is well positioned.

I agree. From what I know, at this point she is my favorite.

Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics, rent control
« on: January 13, 2020, 09:06:04 AM »
Crafty,  I was wondering how your daughter's paper on rent control turned out.  It is hard to find any information other than that screwing up a market makes everything worse for everyone including the people receiving the so-called benefit.

Politics & Religion / Re: stock market, investment strategies: NASDAQ
« on: January 13, 2020, 08:53:38 AM »
10 years of NASDAQ
Those habitually critical of American corporations ("big tech" in particular) have presumably put their money where there mouth was, such as government securities or bank deposits - anyplace except NADAQ stocks.  Now they resent us tech investors for their own foolish timidity.

From 2500 to 9000, who else sat this one out?

Politics & Religion / Biden: Bolivia
« on: January 13, 2020, 08:47:23 AM »
Biden is frontrunner again?  What does it take for people to see that he is a moron?

In an interview with the Des Moines Register, Joe Biden lamented the ongoing crisis in Venezuela. The 77 year-old former vice president described President Donald Trump's foreign policy toward the region as "irresponsible" to the newspaper's editorial board.

"Look what's going on in Venezuela right now...millions of people are crossing the border destabilizing Bolivia," he said.

There's only one problem: There is no border between Bolivia and Venezuela, two countries that are separated by 700 miles of Brazilian rain forests.
Besides the geography problem, how is Venezuela Trump's fault?  And what kind of journalist doesn't immediately turn that back against him?

Politics & Religion / Re: Iran
« on: January 13, 2020, 07:37:08 AM »
"It's my understanding that Iranian dissidents have smuggled out videos of Iranian forces hacking the limbs off of protesters in public. I haven't seen the videos, but Iran hasn't been shy about violently suppressing dissent up to this point."

Right.  They didn't need the attention and embarrassment of shooting down a passenger plane.  Just makes the anger and unrest worse.  The regime could have just shot whomever they wanted as they boarded.

I haven't figured out what the Iran-Canada connection was with the passengers, Iranian Canadians?  I know a European who could not land in the US on a trip to Vancouver because of having visited Iran once.  Our no-fly list is not copied by Canada, but still, this connection is strange to me.  They go to school in Canada because they can't go to American universities?  Then vacation in Iran, go home for the holidays.  Flying through Kiev satisfies a Canadian travel ban?

The accuracy of the shoot down was good.  A Russian, not a North Korean-made missile?  What price does Russia pay for supplying the terror regime with lethal weapons used against civilians?

[Actually, trump leads in Iowa.]

Both Iowa and NH show the top 4 Dems at a near tie, but in the details of it, Butti has dropped to 3rd rather than continue his climb.  People are starting to take seriously the fact that this process everyone thinks is so long is coming up soon at lightning speed.  Why pick untested over a real socialist?

Butti leads in NH (statistical tie) now but that too may fizzle on a similar schedule as the real voting approaches.  The vote coming up in these states is real and binding, not a ...wouldn't it be nice if... kind of contest.

Good to see Klobuchar stuck in single digits.  Her MN name doesn't carry weight even as far as Iowa.  If Biden wins or looks strong, she looks (even more) irrelevant.  If Biden stumbles, the fight to replace Biden in the center left lane will heat up.

Who-drops-out-when becomes a factor.  If Rubio or Cruz had dropped early, the other would have competed better against Trump.  If Butti under-performs in both Iowa and NH, he may want to bank his big money and shoot for VP.  Warren probably isn't smart enough to drop out unless she runs out of money.  With her in, Sanders probably can't beat Biden.  In a narrower field, Bloomberg can make a bigger impact.  How long do Booker, Yang, Steyer, Gabbard hang in there?  (I guess it doesn't matter.)

I think the Republican hope is for the Dem field to remain crowded and divided.

Can you believe Marianne Williamson didn't catch on with the love agenda.  The general election with Trump won't be a love contest.
Update:  Booker out.  Everyone running only for VP needs to get out now. 

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