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January 28, 2019

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In January of 2016 I wished for a Sanders vs Trump general election on the grounds that it would force the American electorate to pick a side for once.

With both parties running grumpy, angry, unpolished, no-shit-taking old white guys, the voters might have paid attention to policies instead of personalities, I thought. Foolish me.

I voted for Bernie in the MA primary, but it was a close call. Had the Bernie Bros bashed Hillary just a little more, I'd have switched my vote. But whether Bernie is motivated by ego or insecurity or even greed, a la He, Trump makes no difference to me. Egotistical, insecure, greedy old white guys can still champion sane policies -- or, as we well know, not.

Bernie bashing is not my thing. TRUCK FUMP is my thing.

--TP

TRUCK FUMP is my thing

And those he rode in on. Do not forget his cynical, nihilist, cheating, smirking enablers.

Clickbait wants to break the country. (Or maybe I'm getting him confused with Turtle.)

Slightly different perspective from GftNC, I don't think that "he thinks 'the country' and he himself are the same thing."

I think that, with Trump, it isn't that he wants to break the country as that he is supremely indifferent to whether he does so or not. If it were to occur to him to care, it would only because it might reduce the adulation from his fans. Which is what really matters to him.

Clickbait is so far off the charts that I don't think you can even talk about him in terms of "faults."

I tend to think of him as being a fundamentally incomplete person. He's missing basic components of the human psyche. As one example, I sometimes don't even know that I can consider him a racist in the same way that I would consider other people racists. I don't think he's capable of not being racist, so he's not racist like others. He just is (by which I mean "is ... period").

It's like trying to play baseball according to the usual rules, but without first base. It doesn't work.

Political theology 101:

"The specific political distinction to which political actions and motives can be reduced is that between friend and enemy."

"...a sovereign dictator, acting in the interstices between two periods of positive constitutional order, must homogenize the community by appeal to a clear friend-enemy distinction, as well as through the suppression, elimination, or expulsion of internal enemies who do not endorse that distinction (CP 46–8). In so doing, the sovereign dictator expresses the community's understanding of what is normal or exceptional and of who belongs, and he creates the homogeneous medium that Schmitt considers to be a precondition of the legitimate applicability of law. "

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/schmitt/

Trump isn't, in the minds of his elect, destroying the country so much as he is expelling all of the enemies from the people. If you are harmed by him, then you are, de facto, the enemy.

He just is...

Sounds like what Goldberry's says when the hobbits ask her who Tom Bombadil is.

Only, not.

Don Bombbast-ill

“He and his most fervent followers are co-dependent: they need someone notionally unstained to worship, and he enjoys the object of that worship.”

You could with equal justice ( or lack thereof) say the same about AOC, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and it appears Kamala Harris is being groomed by some to be the next messiah figure. Personally I like AOC and Sanders ( they are virtually identical in their stances) , but have been exasperated with both at times and so have others who otherwise like them, for reasons I won’t go into. They all have in common cults of personality which developed or are developing around them because some people make their politics into a particularly idiotic kind of religious practice. Harrisolatry is in its early stages.

Of course for every god or goddess there are also blasphemers and heretics, with the acolytes of one being the blasphemers of some rival cult.

As for why Sanders is running, obviously the motivation is power. Usually people who run for President and think they have a chance ( rightly or wrongly), have some interest in acquiring power, as rumor has it that the position does involve having power in some way— a few thousand megatons worth, in fact. You have to be a megalomaniac to want that job.

I suspect that power is like money. Some people want lots of it just to have it. It somehow affirms their self-worth for them or something.

On the other hand, some people want power (or money) because they want to use it for something, to accomplish something. You can argue about the merits of what they want to use it for, but at least they have enough of a grip on reality to realize that money and/or power are tools -- and of no intrinsic worth in and of themselves.

Where are you seeing signs of Harrismania? I've seen people lining up behind Warren, O'Rourke, and Sanders as vicarious leaders. I've even seen a few midwesterners go for Klobuchar as their unicorn pick. Stacey Abrams gets a bit of that messianic zeal as well. But I've never heard anyone going for Harris with any particular missionary fervor. Mostly I just hear people thinking she has the right mix of qualities to stay in the race whatever direction things go while worrying about whether her AG stances will sour the Jacobin crowd on her. She seems like everyone's consensus second pick so far.

Mostly I just hear people thinking she has the right mix of qualities to stay in the race whatever direction things go while worrying about whether her AG stances will sour the Jacobin crowd on her. She seems like everyone's consensus second pick so far.

In other words, she's "flawed." Just the kind of candidate I supported last time around!

But I've never heard anyone going for Harris with any particular missionary fervor.

With the California primary moved up, it might take missionary fervor to stop her.

Don't follow leaders, watch your parking meters.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Mb3CoWwNyY

The public image of politicians can change over time....

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/even-as-a-freshman-pelosi-was-a-political-insider/
While Pelosi had entree into the most selective backrooms of Democratic politics, her bid to become the head of the Democratic National Committee in 1985 was marked by a distinct whiff of sexism. The political director of the AFL-CIO called Pelosi an “airhead.” Pelosi eventually withdrew from the race, telling the committee, “It was clear to me many of you did not think the right message would go out if a woman was elected chairman of this party.”

Whatever people’s views of Pelosi, ‘airhead’ is not a characterisation heard these days.

Probably a bit late for Bernie to undergo any radical revision, though.

“everyone's consensus second pick” is arguably the ideal candidate to take on a president as divisive as Trump.

worrying about whether her AG stances will sour the Jacobin crowd on her.

the Jacobin crowd will find a way to hate anyone that the majority approves of.

Though 538 suggests that Booker might well be almost "everyone's consensus second pick":
https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/how-cory-booker-could-win-the-2020-democratic-nomination/

strange that 538 wouldn't know that CA has moved its primary to early March.

With the California primary moved up, it might take missionary fervor to stop her.

And California voting will largely be by mail-in ballot, and will start in February. Votes are not delegates exactly, but it is likely that there will be far more primary votes cast in California in February than in the February Four combined. I've seen estimates that it will cost at least $5M to be competitive in California. Texas, North Carolina, and Virginia (combined population 47.6M) all also vote on March 3. Political candidates are not noted for being realistic, but anyone who doesn't have money pouring in by mid-2019 is just not going to survive that stretch.

“Where are you seeing signs of Harrismania?”

The original post here is one. I am going blank on where else, but I have seen Harris talked up recently as a dream candidate. Beto was getting praise for a bit— some lefties attacked him on his record, which seems to induce a wagon circling effect (also with Harris) , but then I saw non far lefty people saying he had supported a Republican in an election campaign someplace, so his star seemed to dim a bit.

I will vote for whichever cynical opport.., er, whoever gets the Democratic nomination as literally anyone would be better than any Republican. I strongly disagreed with Dr. Science’s post and many of the preceding comments, but am going through this phase ( hopefully a permanent one) where I don’t get into angry useless online arguments. If the nominee can be pulled left on various issues, good. Not holding my breath.

Thanks for the response, Donald.

I didn't/don't see this post as pro-Harris in stance so much as it is acknowledging that Harris has the least obstructed and clearest lane of all the Democratic core in the run-up to 2020.

I haven't seen the same levels of personal attachment and *squee* surrounding her candidacy as I have some others. I just don't think that her lane requires a lot of squee to carry her through.

Maybe that's why so many of the anti-establishment progressives seem to be going after her hard from the outset. She seems to be the most frequent target for the Sanders supporters on ideological grounds. It had been Beto for a while, but I think most rightly sense that Beto may be a cycle or two out from his moment.

A very good Politico article (I know...) on Cory Booker:
https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2019/02/01/cory-booker-president-2020-profile-newark-projects-224539

I’m not sure about his chances - I think he has a shot, albeit at pretty long odds - but I like him.

Well, after reading Nigel's Politico piece, I like Booker too. But then, I'd be happy (ecstatic) with Warren as well, and probably Harris too (although I don't know all that much about her, but liked what I saw in various Senate hearings). Like Donald says (and very good to see you Donald), literally anyone would be better than a Republican at this stage of the game, and AOC, Beto O'Rourke waiting in the wings are all promising too. Unfortunately, it would probably take 4 Democratic administrations in a row to start undoing the damage Trump has done and this senate has enabled, and that may be too much to hope for.

This is not about any candidate, but a memory that comes up about the challenge for progressives to govern.

https://www.eastbayexpress.com/SevenDays/archives/2011/10/26/jean-quans-big-mistake

https://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/30/us/Oakland-Protests-Test-Mayor-Jean-Quan-Activist-Background.html

Another view, from a mix of politican perspectives (definitely not just from the base!) on the Democrats in 2020.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/02/01/introducing-post-pundit-power-ranking-round/

I saw Booker speak at UPenn’s commencement in May 2017. He was powerful and moving. People were wiping tears from their eyes. I would love to see him face off with Rump (not that that’s a particularly substantive endorsement).

A bit late here, but via lgm

http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2019/02/im-glad-booker-running-anyway

which makes me think that rather than look at the candidates as a collection of deficits, we should look at the candidates as making up a mosaic that represents the party. Booker is crappy with bit Pharma and Wall Street, but, as Lemieux points out, it's good that he open up questions on issues of criminal justice issues.

her AG stances will sour the Jacobin crowd on her

Despite being no Jacobin I am more than a little sour on Harris because of some of her dubious actions as AG.

When you are in the sights of a prosecutor there is no one who has more direct power over you than that prosecutor. Those who use that power injudiciously, to advance their ambitions, without regard for the severe damage they do, need to be viewed with extreme skepticism when seeking more.

I am more than a little sour on Harris because of some of her dubious actions as AG.

I respect your opinion a lot byomtov, so you should list and explain what you're talking about with some specificity.

Thank you, sapient.

Here is a starting point.

Among other things, fighting to block DNA testing in a case where there is good reason to believe it might establish innocence is odious.

Thanks, byomtov. I'll have to read more, but that was not a good picture. (Obviously, we're talking about the primary - she's my person if she's running in 2020 against an R.)

I remember decades ago the argument being made that, with women in positions of power and influence, it would be a kinder and gentler world. Time has proven that the girls, at least many of them, can be just as sociopathic as the boys when it comes to clawing their way into those positions of power and influence.

I remember decades ago the argument being made that, with women in positions of power and influence, it would be a kinder and gentler world.

That was sexist bullshit. What it will be is a world that represents the other half of humanity that's been silenced. My guess is that the regime will be a lot better for women who have had no representation, even if it isn't some kind of mommy land.

"Decades ago" Phyllis Schlafly was in a position of "power and influence" about like Ann Coulter today. A "kinder and gentler world" will not be possible until specimens like those are recognized as harpies first, women second.

--TP

"harpies"

Tony P., you actually need to up your game a bit. No offense.

sapient,

That was the politest word I could think of on the spot. I would accept your suggestion for a more appropriate one. Not kidding.

--TP

Everyone has an asshole. A gender neutral word.

Thanks!

sapient,

"Assholes" is fine by me. I had thought about calling Schlafly and Coulter "pricks" but that seemed wrong, somehow :)

--TP

Schlafly was a mother who traveled around the country telling mothers that they should stay home.

The article was interesting. On the other hand, I have a problem with the argument that holding parents responsible for getting their kids to school is somehow reprehensible because "it disproportionately impacts people of color."

There are plenty of cases where the law is disproportionately enforced against people of color based on race. Or written with the objective of being applied to members of some races.

Objecting to something that is otherwise reasonable, is just the kind of overreach that gives justice reform a bad name. (Which, in general, it doesn't deserve at all at all. As so often, your supposed friends can be your worst enemies.) It's ideology run free of reality. (Trump and his fans would be so jealous.)

What I would say is that the disproportionate impact reflects a disproportionate problem. One which has repercussions on the ability of those groups to compete in a modern economy. Not for lack of ability, but for lack of education. Making more educational opportunities available is great. But refusing to care if they are not taken up? Not so much.

rather than look at the candidates as a collection of deficits, we should look at the candidates as making up a mosaic that represents the party

This.

Not one of the Democratic runners is perfect. Any would be preferable to any Republican alternative on offer in 2020 (I'm far from convinced Trump will be the nominee).
And all will be constrained by the policy wishes of the party as a whole.

No love for Sherrod Brown? Too old-school Midwest white guy?

If Biden doesn’t run, he might have a moment.

I'm genuinely curious if people here believe men and women always act/think/react the same, as a generalization.

We spend lots of time talking about genericizing any reference, is there any point that there is a, generically, difference that can or should be recognized?

You go first.

I'm genuinely curious if people here believe men and women always act/think/react the same, as a generalization.

I would say that there are differences due to socialization. That is, most women are brought up (within American culture) with different behavioral expectations than most men. The actual expectations are changing, in some cases dramatically. And, in general, they are changing in the direction of being more similar. But they aren't there yet . . . and may well never be the same.

HOWEVER, inherent (i.e. essentially genetic) differences? Not so much.

I'm genuinely curious if people here believe men and women always act/think/react the same, as a generalization.

No.

At the group level, there is perhaps (probably ?) an overall difference between men and women. But the two groups overlap substantially.

"Everyone has an asshole."

Yeats, in so many words.

Also Lennon, goo-goo-ga-joob.

"Schlafly was a mother who traveled around the country telling mothers that they should stay home."

Then, who was the woman inside the bunny suit greeting her husband at the front door with a martini when he arrived home after a rough day at the office?

Not that HE was asking, having learned never to look a gift bunny in the mouth.

re socialization, this BBC video is enlightening

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWu44AqF0iI

Apt video, lj.

Also, what Nigel said @08.43.

One feels "instinctively" that there is a difference, but how much of it is socialisation is very hard to know. Speaking personally (as I always, probably regrettably, seem to do) I know I am always interested in how things work mechanically, and wish I had been given Meccano as a child. My parents (who only had daughters) did not seem to have biases about girls' raw intellectual capacities, but I think they went for lots of stereotyping in other ways.

Whether it's nature, nurture or both, men and women tend to make different choices in their lives. The more choices available, the more divergent the choices tend to be.

Men are certainly more murderous.

If the behavioral differences between men and women are all due to the differences in socialization, it follows that men could be socialized to not be murderous.

But if you're trying to socialize against an innate characteristic, the results will be limited with likely undesirable side effects.

Good luck disentangling socialization and inherent characteristics - a chicken-and-egg feedback loop. But you can probably socialize men to be less murderous, even if they can't be equal to women as a group in that regard. Then again, maybe we're just animals that can't be tamed.

A minor riff on the "murder gap" between men and women:

The gap shall be closed one way or another.

One (or maybe two) wonders if nurturing/"denaturing" women to kill under the auspices of military combat as women are more fully integrated into the U.S. military will lead to a corresponding rise in civilian murder rates perpetrated by women.

One, perhaps a different one than the first one, might speculate on the other hand whether what conservatives call the "feminisation of boys" in our child-rearing and educational practices might lead to a reduction of the murder rates perpetrated by men.

The push back on this practice by conservatives at large, most obvious among the Proud Boys (I have a young acquaintance who I just learned the other day is or was a tattoo-carrying member of the group), for example, might hinder the closing of the gap, for after all, men, if we follow the example of Achilles, Agamemnon, Hector, and Paris, with a little help admittedly from various female gods, murder for love, but blame women ... Helen in this example .... for making them do it.

A variation on this blame game is witnessed in Hitchcock's "Psycho", wherein our protagonist, Norman Bates, contrives to blame his mother for his murder spree, while also contriving to place the motive for the crimes, perhaps a mother's jealousy over the seductive female victims, who, natch, share the blame (showering while naked, the little minxes) in his mother's mouth.

Our wondering one might also speculate whether, after say several generations of the disparate and respective murder rates by men and women converging, male business leaders might take notice of this heightened bloodthirstiness among women and begin doing away with the glass ceiling altogether, citing increased "animal spirits' and enhanced "red in tooth and claw" behavior among the formerly "fair" (as in the FOX news meaning of "fair" when they talk about women's attitudes, as opposed to their capacity for blushing) sex.

"Yes, Fenster, get me more women into the executive suites, pronto, because these ladies no longer take prisoners. Fair, schmlair, by God!"

One could imagine a 92-year old President p in 2039 demanding that his 211th Chief of Staff start beating the bushes for some of these "killer" women he's been hearing about to beef up the ballsy chops of his Cabinet.

"What's Lynddie England up to these a days?", he'd muse to what's his name standing by the potted plant in the Oval Office.

"Nancy Pelosi absolutely kills me," he'd flatulate over the rattling of a nearly empty three-pound bag of Doritos sailing across the room.

"Get me 50 more like her, on MY side, AND that Ocasio-Cortez manslaughterer, and we'd be up to our ears in walls."

Personally, I look forward to the kind of full gender equality that let's me, without censure, punch Ann Coulter full in the mouth just like I plan to shatter the large bones in Lindsay Graham's baby-faced visage when I get the chance.

Assholes, the two of them, in full equality.

As to the respective murderousness of men versus women, I'm pretty sure if some of the denizens of The American Conservative, for example, hung here at OBWI, we'd get an earful about who has won that Stalin/Mao versus Hitler sweepstakes, and we would Roe the day.

I didn't watch the STFU SOTU, but I saw the clip of p turning to receive that brilliant eff you clap from Speaker Pelosi and it, and the Wall, reminded me of this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aaDjSiuKO-o

p and the Republican Party need to collect their things and get out ... of the country.

Mitch Mulvaney, a man who seeks out violence against himself, was bribed to do this by his corrupt brethren:

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/financial-watchdog-proposes-rollback-payday-174451913.html

The victims of these usurious crimes would bribe Elizabeth Warren to re-institute the regs, but the former are already in hock up to their non-existent credit ratings because they don't get paid enough in the first place to even service the interest on the loans, which reveals the reason why bribesters on the Right, and the corporate Left, always capture gummint.

They've got the bucks.

In crafting personal and corporate tax policy, I would first levy a 100% tax and 30 Moe-slaps on every campaign contri .... I mean ... bribe ... paid to any and all republican politicians by every and any individual or corporate entity.

Then I would craft local and state ordinances to permit the open carry of semi-automatic weaponry into payday lending venues (add those to the list of joints in which conservatives would like to introduce prospective gunfire; why should they be exempt?) by patrons of the establishments, which would at least put them in an even footing, arms-wise, with the owners of the facilities.

I believe it would be revelatory to witness the negotiations deciding between levying a 39% compound interest rate or a more reasonable, say 11% interest rate on a loan to a person who doesn't have a pot to pee in but did possess the foresight to save up for one of them 100-round barrel clips.

Under those terms, which interest rate would sufficiently recompense the payday lenders risk exposure?

I'm genuinely curious if people here believe men and women always act/think/react the same, as a generalization.

As a very broad generalization, no.

More to the point, the degree to which the difference in how people act, think, or react that can be ascribed to their gender as opposed to other factors seems pretty minor. To me at least.

Everybody's different.

Well. AOC being pretty impressive, I'd say:

https://twitter.com/nowthisnews/status/1093601038622281728/video/1

I was driving to work yesterday and heard a brief conversation with Ocasio-Cortez on NPR. She was discussing the Green New Deal thing.

She was fine on the big picture stuff, but she was often kind of shaky on the details. If she had to go up against somebody with serious policy chops, or a firm command of the numbers - all of which will no doubt happen - she will stumble. Has stumbled, actually. She seems like kind of a raw talent, very charismatic, apparently fearless, but raw. I don't know how far the whole "AOC" thing will go. Maybe very far, maybe not so far. It's hard to say.

All of that said, toward the end of the interview, they got onto the topic of The Wall. Her comment on that was, basically, this is the world that Donald Trump lives in, this is the limit of his imagination. Walls, to keep scary people out.

This is the limit of his imagination.

And there, I thought. There it is. She doesn't have all of her policy number ducks in a row. But by god she understands WTF is going on, what makes Trump and his supporters tick, and without hating on it or harshly judging it, she calls out the weakness and deficiency of it, in a phrase.

This is the limit of his imagination. We can imagine better things.

Ocasio-Cortez is a bright spark, a hot match. I don't know how long she'll burn, but she's gonna light a few things up along the way.

More power to her.

If she had to go up against somebody with serious policy chops, or a firm command of the numbers - all of which will no doubt happen - she will stumble.

Depends on where her political ambitions take her. She can probably be in Congress for a long time, even without getting more proficient. My guess is that she'll learn, and by the time she wants to go farther, she will. Whether she'll be as charismatic by then is the question. (She can't be President until she's 35, so there's that.)

If she had to go up against somebody with serious policy chops, or a firm command of the numbers - all of which will no doubt happen - she will stumble.

All those guys with "serious policy chops" were once long on enthusiasm and short on experience. No reason she can't acquire them herself over time. She may or may not; I've seen enthusiasts go both ways. But no reason she couldn't.

Sapient and wj, agreed.

She's been on the job for a month and she's already kicking @ss and taking names. I have no doubt that she has the ability to acquire a depeer understanding of policy detail over time. In the meantime, she's putting good stuff on the table.

Overton window.

More power to her.

Interestingly, about the same age as Dingell when first elected.

I don't know which is the appropriate thread to put Brexit stuff anymore, but I just wanted to put this out there for your viewing pleasure.

I have no idea how big a hit, or even how known in the US Pulp's Common People was, but it's a great song and can easily be found on Youtube by anybody unfamiliar with it. But I do know that the Count recently posted Marina Hyde's description of the unbelievable Jacob Rees-Mogg (the honourable member for the 18th Century), so I am assuming that the following will give people a kick:

https://www.prolificnorth.co.uk/news/digital/2019/02/rees-mogg-and-%E2%80%98common-people%E2%80%99-closer-look-comedy-video-put-politician-pulp

GftNC, that's fun! Although I suspect you may be libeling the people of the 18th century by comparing them to Rees-Mogg.

GFTNC's video sent me to the original Pulp version, which sent me a lot of places - X to the Sex Pistols to the Drive By Truckers to the Clash to Woodie Guthrie - and I landed here.

There are a lot of loud versions of this, many of them outstanding, but this one might be my favorite.

We got a thousand points of light
For the homeless man
We got a kinder, gentler,
Machine gun hand
We got department stores
and toilet paper
Got styrofoam boxes
for the ozone layer
Got a man of the people,
says keep hope alive
Got fuel to burn,
got roads to drive.

That song's 30 years old now. The Pulp tune is almost 25. I don't know if we're just shaking through, or teetering on the edge, or if we've already gone over and are just waiting to hit bottom.

Dow looks good and we got a tax cut.

Dow looks good and we got a tax cut.

Life is short. What more could you ask for? (/sarcasm)

Dow looks good and we got a tax cut.

Yup, the Dow just broke 25,000 -- Trump tweeted about it. For the second January in a row. Put another way, net gain for 2018: zero.

"We" got a meaningful tax cut only if someone here is a closet multimillionaire. Normal people mostly got an invisibly small increase in their pay check. Which will combine with a roughly 10% small tax refund . . . which they will notice. Gonna be some seriously unhappy taxpayers by the time this tax season is over.

So most everyone is too stupid to figure out they paid less taxes last year? They may be just a touch smarter than you think.

And, for most of those people, the amount that you call invisibly small isnt.

Much of the individual cuts were temporary

My understanding of the tax thing is that, at Trump's urging, the IRS withheld less per pay period. So that folks would see more on payday.

That being so, refunds are smaller. And, some folks are not happy about that, even though the total tax hit for the year is less.

Smart, not smart, whatever. Those folks, if such there are, perhaps have unrealistic expectations.

The tax revenue we gave up to give everyone their tax break was intended to pay for stuff. Unclear how that stuff gets paid for now, or what happens if it just goes away due to lack of funds.

Can't have everything. Money dont grow on trees, nor do goods and services. Those are the choices we made, or at least which were made for us, now we get to live with them.

I don't single out folks who seem to have difficulty with the basic math of the situation as stupid, because deep, obstinate, head in the sand stupidity seems quite widespread. No point in picking on them.

Unclear how that stuff gets paid for now, or what happens if it just goes away due to lack of funds.

Oh, it's pretty clear. In addition to stuff just going away (the extreme libertarian, "all government is bad" preference), we have just two choices:

  • Borrow more,
  • debase the currency, aka inflation.
We've seen both at various times in the past.

The first just foists the payment off on future generations. It can make some sense for things like investment in infrastructure or on research. But not for meeting on-going operating expenses.

The second rewards people for borrowing, rather than saving -- because repayment will be in less valuable dollars. Again, borrowing makes some sense for buying stuff that gets used over time comparable to the life of the loan (houses, cars), but not for on-going living expenses. And borrowing with no realistic plans for repayment plus future savings leaves payment to support the spenders later on their kids. (Or other people's kids.)

Bottom line: cutting revenue without cutting expenses is massively irresponsible. And the preference for those politicians (And ideologues) who figure to be gone before the bill comes due.

Money dont grow on trees, ...

The federal government and the Fed seems to think so.

Getting a tax refund means you made an interest free loan to the government.

Getting a tax refund means you made an interest free loan to the government.

Quite. But for a lot of people, especially low income people, it's the only approach to savings that they seem able to manage.

The federal government and the Fed seems to think so.

They're not the only ones.

Getting a tax refund means you made an interest free loan to the government.

Which was paid back, in less than a year. Big picture, it just doesn't bother me.

You can always tweak your withholding to avoid a lot if not all of it, if it bugs you.

Compare getting 0.2% return from your local bank vs. getting 0.0% return from overwithheld taxes.

Unless you're expecting a $1M refund, it's just "meh".

Regardless of whether you think people should be upset by smaller refunds, it appears that, in reality, a significant number are.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/02/10/millions-americans-could-be-stunned-their-tax-refunds-shrink/

The title of that article is millions of Americans could be stunne...or maybe not.how many millions?

Post, hyoe.

Apologies for not finding a Breitbart reference for you.

From today's Observer, the excellent Marina Hyde again, this time on Bezos (and for a bonus she refers to herself as a possible prick, which I seem to remember somebody here recently ruled out when used by a woman):

Well now. I see Ming the Merciless Retailer has been widely praised for his “dignity”. And sincerely, I don’t want to be a prick here, because in this one particular fight, Jeff is arguably the less unpleasant of the parties involved, who are – in no particular order – Donald Trump, the swamp-rat publisher of the National Enquirer and the actual Saudis. But we can’t really have a Bezos-related conversation about “dignity” without mentioning that low-waged people who work for him sleep in tents and piss in bottles out of fear of being fired for taking a bathroom break.

She certainly has a way with words.

The link to the full article is here

Whatever anyone might think about whether a woman can call herself or anyone else, male or female, a prick, I doubt its usage was accidental in an article that includes the word "penis" eleven times. :-)

And sincerely, I don’t want to be a prick here, because in this one particular fight, Jeff is arguably the less unpleasant of the parties involved, who are – in no particular order – Donald Trump, the swamp-rat publisher of the National Enquirer and the actual Saudis. But we can’t really have a Bezos-related conversation about “dignity” without mentioning that low-waged people who work for him sleep in tents and piss in bottles out of fear of being fired for taking a bathroom break.

She does have a way with words.

But let's unpack this a bit:

Bezos, who owns the best newspaper in the United States at the moment (a newspaper whose quality has improved dramatically since he took ownership), has been the brunt of numerous attacks by Donald Trump, most recently because his newspaper (with his support) has relentlessly investigated and refused to abandon their columnist Khashoggi, who was murdered and hacked apart by these more "unpleasant" people.

And what does it say about UK labor laws that employees are sleeping in tents and pissing in bottles? Not to say that all of Amazon's corporate practices are defensible, but Amazon is a public company, not a sole proprietorship, and its labor practices are regulated by countries where it does business.

In the matter of Khashoggi, and here, Bezos has been courageous. Yes, he's a billionaire, and as he conceded, this is why he can stand up. He's had an affair, and is getting a divorce. That's been true of many people and, although The National Inquirer thinks it's news, it's none of my business.

I give major kudos to Bezos for his absolutely staunch refusal to interfere with the WaPo, as confirmed entertainingly by a senior WaPo editor on C4 News yesterday who was clearly unafraid to be almost insulting about him. And this non-interference is even more praiseworthy in the era of e.g. Murdoch. And his reaction over this Enquirer stuff is also good. But I'm interested in your comment about Amazon's employment practices - is it not a byword for inhumanity in the US in the way it is here? Or perhaps US employment practices in general are more inhumane? Are such things governed at the state or at the federal level?

Since we are talking about tax cuts, this Mother Jones article (via LGM) is serendiptious.

Just weeks later, the GOP effort to repeal Obamacare collapsed. Tax reform, which one Republican senator said would make repealing Obamacare look like a piece of cake, ominously loomed as the next item on the GOP agenda, and time was running out. Panic set in. By November, as Congress struggled to push a massive tax cut bill forward, Rep. Chris Collins from New York summed up the stakes: “My donors are basically saying: ‘Get it done or don’t ever call me again.’”

Lawmakers got it done. Just days before the holiday break, relieved Republicans delivered those wealthy donors what they wanted: one of the biggest tax cuts in history, one that would almost exclusively benefit the wealthy.

From the looks of it, GOP politicians got what they wanted, too. From the time the tax bill was first introduced on Nov. 2, 2017, until the end of the year, a 60-day period, dozens of billionaires and millionaires dramatically boosted their political contributions unlike they had in past years, giving a total of $31.1 million in that two months, a Center for Public Integrity analysis of data from the Center for Responsive Politics found.

The Center’s analysis found that 144 wealthy donors, some household names and some behind-the-scenes, contributed at least $50,000 to Republicans and conservative groups in that time frame. For 87 of those, three out of five, the surge of giving at year’s end reflected a marked change in their giving behavior. These well-heeled donors increased the share of their annual giving in the last two months of 2017 compared with previous off-year elections going back to 2009.

Most telling, say campaign finance experts, is that 25 wealthy donors gave all their 2017 money in the final two months of the year, the first time they did so during the previous four off-election years—2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, according to the Center’s analysis of data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics. The contributions the Center analyzed do not include the hundreds of millions of dollars given to dark money groups, which are not required to identify donors.

The evidence shows that big donors, collectively, acted to leverage their clout to help push through the tax cut law that would enrich the kinds of corporations, limited partnerships, real estate holdings and huge investments that many of them own, campaign finance experts say.

That's the same pul grafs as the LGM post, but the 2 illustrations in the Mother Jones article are quite enlightening.

And his reaction over this Enquirer stuff is also good.

It's a profile in courage, considering who he's up against. And that includes consideration of his billions.

But I'm interested in your comment about Amazon's employment practices - is it not a byword for inhumanity in the US in the way it is here? Or perhaps US employment practices in general are more inhumane? Are such things governed at the state or at the federal level?

There are federal employment standards, but state laws provide for varying degrees of union participation. I'm not sure how Amazon compares to other companies overall, but it pays a minimum wage is $15 per hour, much more than the legal minimum in most of the US, and rates pretty well overall in employee satisfaction, if this can be believed.

People hate Amazon for a variety of reasons, including its monopolization of retail. That too should be addressed by laws.

I don't know Bezos, and he's probably far from a perfect human. But he's being a genuine hero here, and I wonder about the judgment of a writer who uses this opportunity to level generic and crude criticisms in this way.

LJ

All those Benjamins fleeing their birthplace at the Federal Reserve to express, in a full throated way, their God given right of free speech. It tears me up.

The average tax refund last year was $2035. The average this year, $1865.

That is a difference of $170.

Maybe we should ask ourselves what folks' lives are like if a $170 difference in a once-a-year windfall is something they even notice.

is it not a byword for inhumanity in the US in the way it is here? Or perhaps US employment practices in general are more inhumane?

(B)

I watched Amy Kolchubar's speech with glee. I don't know why, but the snowfall on her head struck me as hilarious. Then I got on twitter and had fun reading the reactions from the bemused "They have snow on their heads." to the carping "How can she be President if she can't find a place in doors for the event?" to all the Fargo and Game of Thrones references. I think I got a kick out of it all because I grew up in Iowa with snow on my head.

I think it was a pretty smart way to kick things off.

is it not a byword for inhumanity in the US in the way it is here? Or perhaps US employment practices in general are more inhumane?

(B)

Not sure that your observations are evidence-based, considering this.

What else you got?

laura--I thought the snow was a nice touch too.

It reminded me of my only trip to Alaska, which was in February '85. It was at the time of the fur rendezvous, a survival from the days when there would be a huge gathering of trappers and buyers of furs coming together in Anchorage to do business. A little of that still goes on (went on? I don't know about 34 years later), but otherwise it was like any old fair or festival I had experienced growing up in Ohio -- rides, concession stands, crowds -- except, outdoors, and in February.

If you live in a place like Alaska (or Maine, for that matter, and of course Minnesota as well), you gotta figure out a way to be comfortable outside in very cold weather or stay inside for months on end. People figure it out.

GftNC: ... (and for a bonus she refers to herself as a possible prick, which I seem to remember somebody here recently ruled out when used by a woman)

No, no GftNC. The "somebody here" was a man, who wrote "it felt wrong, somehow" to use the word about a woman.

Any woman is entitled to call herself a "prick" as far as I am concerned. The cultural appropriation may hurt our tender male egos, but Man was not put on this Earth for pleasure alone :)

--TP

Speaking of uncomfortable workplaces, Amy Klobuchar is in the news.

Weird confluence of bad boss conversations.

I like Marina Hyde, and enjoy her writing, though the Guardian in particular and UK press in general have sharper elbows than their American counterpart. However, to defend her, I think she is looking at the entire landscape, and US lack of housing benefits, unemployment, NHS make the protections in OSHA actually less than they look on paper. At least that is what I think she's 'got'. Of course, pumping Bezos up (note the best image, I suppose) because he's fighting Pecker, the Saudis and Trump may be important, and it's great that he's fighting, but given his status as richest man in the world, I don't want to go overboard. It's not like me not being happy with a lot of what he does will actually make a difference in his life.

Tony P: quite right! :-)

lj: I stopped reading the weekend papers after my husband died, which is why my regular bulletins here about Carole Cadwalladr's Cambridge Analytica revelations mainly stopped, and I only saw articles linked online here and elsewhere. But I've started getting the Saturday Guardian and the Sunday Observer delivered again now, because I much prefer reading a newspaper on paper - the only online newspaper I read is the NYT. So I've only recently become aware of Marina Hyde, and am enjoying her acid descriptions.

As for Bezos, I've always made it clear that I don't hate the rich just because they are rich, and unlike lots of people I know I don't boycott Amazon and AbeBooks. But Amazon's reputation as an employer (and taxpayer) here is dirt, and for good reason. So I can applaud much of his behaviour, without accepting wholesale that my enemy's enemy is my friend. And by the way, I think sapient's "What else you got?" was directed at russell for his admirably laconic (B).

But Amazon's reputation as an employer (and taxpayer) here is dirt, and for good reason.

I guess I'm questioning whether the reputation is truly deserved. The tax situation is explained here. It's another example of laws that are perhaps at fault. Another article is here, which mentions that Amazon ranks seventh in one survey as a sought-after place to work in the UK.

Although lj is right that It's probably not going to make a difference to Bezos whether he's loved or not by people commenting here, it seems important to praise people who are standing up to fascist murderers. It seems an odd time to be exaggerating Bezos's flaws, and calling him "arguably the less unpleasant."

Unless Bezos is evading the law (which seems not to be the case), the government should tighten workplace protections, and close tax loopholes. In the meantime, the unemployment rate in the UK is low - maybe there are better opportunities for Amazon's workers.

Speaking of tax cuts: government can always (so long as it can borrow the money) make people better off in the short term by increasing the deficit, whether through tax cuts or increased government spending.

Keynes worked out that increased deficit spending is a good idea in a recession, and a bad idea otherwise. (He wasn't the first to think so.)

However, it's tempting for politicians of whatever hue to seek to attract votes with deficit spending when economic conditions don't justify it. Responsible politicians resist the temptation.

Marty's notion that Republicans should be praised for their economic vandalism is spectacularly ill-considered.

The title of that article is millions of Americans could be stunne...or maybe not.how many millions?

my wife and i were pretty stunned by our surprise four-figure tax bill.

killing those state and local deduction, capping the mortgage interest deduction, etc, etc.. bit us hard.

but hey, at least some Captain Of Industry gets to buy another penthouse apartment somewhere.

What else you got?

Relative to similar nations, US labor laws are not especially labor-friendly. If we're comparing to Pakistan (to pick a name out of a hat), we look great. If we're comparing to similarly wealthy OECD nations, not so much.

Amazon fulfillment centers is a hard job. Most warehouse gigs are a hard job, Amazon's not the worst, but they're also not the best. It's physical labor in long shifts in a fairly dehumanizing environment.

I don't really have strong feelings about Bezos one way or the other. We've allowed him to assemble what amounts to a virtual monopoly on retail fulfillment logistics, and a near-monopoly on IT infrastructure as a service. That's not his fault, it's on us. He's just seizing the opportunity that was available to him.

my wife and i were pretty stunned by our surprise four-figure tax bill.

My tax bill is lower for now, but with no personal exemption and my kids beginning to age out of the child tax credit, starting in 2020, all other things being equal, my tax bill will go up $2k every other year for 3 such increases. Five years after the last of those, another $2k increase, assuming everything else remains as is.

I'm guessing there will be other things coming into play that will at least partially offset the loss of the child tax credit, such as whatever treatment college expenses get, but I'm also guessing our captains of industry don't have to anticipate the potential for similarly large tax increases.

Most warehouse gigs are a hard job, Amazon's not the worst, but they're also not the best. It's physical labor in long shifts in a fairly dehumanizing environment.

Having done some warehouse time (briefly!) back in the day, I can attest to that. Although I have to say that, at least in the warehouse I was in, it could have been a lot easier with a little rearranging of the workflow. But that's probably just the performance analyst in me talking.

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