Category Archives: economics

Assorted political venting, starting with Trump’s dictatorial fantasies.

Trump speaks the truth! The reason he hasn’t accomplished more is at least partly the Constitution and its checks and balances — the judicial power to block his deportations, the need for Congress to roll back Obamacare and to vote on a budget, etc. The trouble is, President Shit-Gibbon thinks that’s a bad thing, “It’s an archaic system … It’s really a bad thing for the country.”  No, it’s not. It’s what keeps the president — not just Trump, not just white supremacists, but any president — from riding roughshod over the rest of us.

And as I’ve discussed before, a lot of Republican voters are right there with Trump. They’d love a dictator as long as he had an R by his name; back during the W years, one of the things that drove Republicans to outrage was that liberals questioned Bush! Disagreed with him! Refused to support his policies! Which is exactly the same as wanting terrorist to rape American children! (I’m sure they’re fine with a woman who laughed at Jeff Sessions getting prosecuted for it And convicted).

Of course the same people turned around and spent the Obama years refusing to support his policies, cheering on Republicans whose over-riding goal (by their own words) was to make him a one-term president, celebrating Limbaugh for saying “I hope he fails.” And they apparently don’t see any contrast. After all, they still tell themselves they have the moral high ground.

And sexism invariably goes hand-in-hand with authoritarian conservatism. As witness Trump appointing a lying forced-birther to manage the DOH population-planning grants (and here’s another forced-birther appointment). Or a post by a neo-Nazi on publicly shaming women (who are too fat, dating across the color line, etc.) — which he assures readers will turn them on and make them beg to carry your children.

•Speaking of sex discrimination, a Texas court has ruled that even though a new mother’s employer harassed her about breastfeeding, that’s not sex discrimination because men can lactate.

•Chechen police are threatening parents with gay kids: kill your children or we’ll kill them for you.

•Ivanka Trump wants you to know she feels really, really bad about Trump’s “pussy-grabbing” speech. As noted at the link, it doesn’t seem to inspire her to do anything about Daddy’s loathsome ways.

•A new bill would not only end net neutrality, it would ban the FCC from ever doing it again.

•To end on an up note: we can still fight and win (Democrats scored several victories in the recent budget negotiations. No wonder Trump wants to be a dictator).

•Students at a college run by Laureate Education claim the company stripped the school’s assets, ensuring it’s closure, but kept enrolling students.

•Yes, the forced-birth movement does intend to prosecute women who get abortions. They’re already doing it. More here.

•Vox explains why hiring climate-change denialist Bret Stephens for the NYT editorial page gives added status to someone whose views don’t deserve it. And who conveniently fudges them to fit his new gig (instead of Climate Change is Bull it’s now Sure, It’s Probably Real, But Not Definitely) LGM explains why the NYT can’t claim free speech as a defense.

•Speaking of lying, Consumerist shreds Verizon’s arguments for why net neutrality is bad.

•Wells Fargo shareholders says the bank went and collected day laborers from convenience stores to pressure them into signing up for accounts — then adding more unwanted accounts without the workers’ consent.

•Remember how Flint pumped lead-tainted water to its citizens? Residents are being billed for it, even though they can’t drink it.

•Digby looks at how bad the health-care bill is (particularly for women). But the right-wing media is doing its best to keep Republicans thinking it’s awesome. And Health Secretary Tom Price’s strategy is similarly to lie like hell.

•Trump’s right that a good deal could have stopped the Civil War — but only by preserving slavery. I’m sure he’d have been down with that.

•Here’s a shocker, no outrage from the religious right at Bill O’Reilly’s alleged sexual harassment. Funny, when conservatives complain Christians are too wimpy to stand up for what’s right, they don’t mean standing against abuse.

•White paranoia about genocide.

•Monsanto may have ghost written a report finding its pesticide was safe.

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Never underestimate Republican determination to make people suffer. Or be shitbags

The House has passed a resolution replacing Obamacare with a worse program.

Among the lovely features are that insurers can charge higher rates to people with pre-existing conditions. There’s a pool of money set aside to help, but not enough. Oh, and large employers can choose which state’s rules for coverage (does employee insurance have to cover maternity benefits?) they follow, so if one state sets a really, really low bar, that could allow employers everywhere to adopt that standard. NC Rep. Robert Pittenger babbled about state’s rights before the vote (and if you don’t like the standards your state has, move!) but I’ll bet he ain’t complaining that the rule nullifies state’s rights (a state can set any requirements it wants. They won’t matter). And yet he’s a cut above Alabama Rep Mo Brooks, who says pre-existing conditions are people’s own fault, so why should healthy people subsidize them?

(Horrible sidepoint: women who suffer PTSD or STDs from rape sometimes lost their coverage because those things were pre-existing conditions. It could happen again.

And let’s not forget, Republicans had no intention of letting rules like higher prices for pre-existing conditions affect them — they had an exemption. Until they backed off after it was publicized and denied it ever happened. And as noted here, even Republicans who vote no are not off the hook for this.

More analysis and criticism of this moral disgrace.

The Republicans rushed this through so fast they don’t even have hard facts and figures. Which Sean Spicer has explained is because it’s just impossible to figure out what the effect will be until it passes. Um, no. Analysts did fine for the first version of the bill. Though I’m sure it’s way too hard for Spicer or President Shit-Gibbon to figure out.

I’m writing my senators and praying hard.

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Yet more reasons we can’t have nice things: media, Republicans and big business

Media

Because the standard for assessing Trump’s first 100 days shouldn’t be what a moderate centrist Trump would have done and how he might have done it if not for those darn Democrats pushing him to the right. Or that Trump should listen to the conservative movement because Ronald Reagan’s conservative policies ended the Cold War and boosted the economy (as noted at the link, they did neither).

•Because CNN’s new hire Chris Cillizza sees no conflict between treating Chelsea Clinton as a public figure (she might run for office!) and arguing that Ivanka Trump, who is a White House official now, shouldn’t be criticized for holding up her dad as a champion of women.

•Because the right-wing media’s response to Bill O’Reilly getting fired for alleged sexual harassment was to explain they didn’t like him and he wasn’t a real conservative anyway.

•Because we have people on Fox news advocating violence against abortion doctors and saying anyone who doesn’t do it is a “pro-life coward.”

Republicans

•Because while Republicans are looking at dropping the “can’t deny insurance for pre-existing conditions” health insurance rule, they’re keeping it for themselves and their staff.

•Because some Republicans still think the Iraq war was a fantastic triumph, and a role model for the future.

•Because “far left special interests” who create national monuments and national parks must be stopped!!!!

•Because deregulation of business screws over consumers.

•Because North Carolina Republicans are explaining the billion-dollar shortfall that would be caused by their proposed tax cuts doesn’t matter — it will spur such unimaginable growth, the state will actually get more money! This is, and has always been bullshit, as in it’s never worked (it’s the same bullshit approach that tanked the Kansas economy). And if it did have a chance of working, it still wouldn’t work in practice — once you go down that route, it’s just too tempting to tweak the numbers.

•Because if a guy goes to a bar dressed like a girl, Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi says the guy deserves to be beat up. He subsequently CYAed with a lot of talk about respect and tolerance but seems to think “civility” refers to the gay guy not doing anything to offend people rather than people refraining from beating gays up.

•Because Republicans don’t give a damn about red ink when they cut taxes. The idea they’re concerned about the deficit enough to oppose Trump’s budget is bullshit. And so is Trump’s tax plan.

Business

Because Mylar allegedly used rebates and other tricks to convince insurers and state programs to cover only EpiPen and not cover competitors (and those rebates led to the price shooting upwards). And then touted all the programs that only covered EpiPen as proof of its superiority

•Because General Motors thinks it shouldn’t have to pay victims of GM vehicles’ ignition defect (the one where the ignition would suddenly turn off on its own).

Because, Uber.

•Because our capitalist system would probably mess up drug legalization just like it gave us the opioid epidemic.

•Because a supposed Islamic terrorist attack on a German sports team was actually a scheme to crash their stock, then buy it cheap.

•All that stuff conservatives spout about how we should let states set their own rules instead of having everything dictated from Washington? Bullshit. Business groups are now demanding Congress stop states and municipalities from imposing their own minimum standards for family and sick leave. Though they also object to higher federal standards. Personally I think it’s easy to overcome the confusion these businesses insist they face — just pass a rule that whichever state they work in with the most generous standards, those standards apply everywhere they have an office. Uniform, just as they like it!

•Because Internet providers are pushing to eliminate net neutrality so that they can pick and choose how easy it is for you to use a particular service or website. Although I should note a lot of Internet companies have filed to protest the FCC’s proposal.

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More reasons we can’t have nice things (#SFWApro)

Because whackaloon conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones are taken seriously. Even when claiming that George Soros is making pot stronger to destroy America.

•Because ass-hats like Michael Reagan (son of Ronnie) respond to Bill O’Reilly’s alleged sexual harassment by saying men should have the right to sue women for looking sexy. They dress to get us all hot and bothered, then they get upset when we notice how they’re dressed. The answer: sexual harassment isn’t just men noticing women are attractive. And if men can’t control themselves, it’s not the woman’s fault. No matter how she’s dressed.

•The fight against abortion continues. On a plus side, Maryland is revising its definition of rape so that even if it’s not forcible, cops can charge the rapist.

•Congress is considering a bill that would reduce regulation on crooked payday lenders. Bill’s primary supporter is a Republican, natch. And Trump’s “populism continues to focus on reducing regulation on businesses. And Congress is also looking to cut protections for people using prepaid debit cards.

•Donald Trump has also eased wildlife restrictions in Alaska that make it easier to shoot hibernating bears. Because let’s face it, how else can a man feel like a man?

•Attorney General Jeff Sessions thinks Hawaii is not a real state. Which may reflect long-standing right-wing fears that Hawaii isn’t white enough to be a state.

•Because Paul Ryan, that supposed man of principle and seriously wonky disposition, has no qualms tongue-bathing Trump in print. And while he seems cool with having gone to college on his family’s Social Security Disability income, Ryan opposes retired miners getting health benefits.

•Because some right-wingers can’t grasp that choosing to have a baby doesn’t make you anti-abortion.

•Because pundits still want to blame Trump and angry conservatives on liberals. Or explain that if black America suffers, it’s their own fault. While still insisting Trump is Clinton’s fault. And claiming Democrats raise the murder rate.

•Because a Republican Congressman (Jim Sensenbrenner) thinks there’s no need for government to impose privacy rules on Internet providers — nobody has to use the Internet, right? By which logic we shouldn’t worry about keeping up roads, as nobody has to drive.

•Because reporters can paint a spectacular Democratic win as a Republican triumph. Or continue to insist on how awesome it is they’re interviewing Trump voters.

•Because think tanks like CATO can suddenly discover feminism when they can use it to argue in favor of exploiting third-world workers.

•Because part of the right-wing isn’t even denying they like shari’a law as long as it’s white shari’a.

•Because women’s achievements are sometimes hand-waved away and credited to men.

•Because sexual harassers can stick around academia for years. And years.

•Because as IF Stone once put it, the real problem isn’t when governments lie but when they start drinking their own snake-oil. Republicans used to use the right-wing media to manipulate people, but now they’re believers themselves.

•As that’s kind of a downbeat post, I’ll leave on one cheerful note: Florida State Senator Frank Artiles used the n-word on a political opponent. It created such a backlash, he’s resigning.

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Why we can’t have nice things. For starters, Republicans

Because they’re thrilled, absolutely thrilled that we’re bombing Syria.

•Because if they can’t get the state education budget cuts they want, they veto the entire education budget.

•They elected an authoritarian, borderline fascist president. Who despite all the talk in the campaign (and since) about him Not Being a Politician is now a bog-standard Republican only more openly racist.

•Because President Shit-Gibbon’s AG Jeff Sessions has given up on improving forensic science. Apparently sloppy science often works in the prosecution’s favor, so good science might get more people off. Which would be bad. And he’s going to get even tougher on immigrants. I’m sure he’ll make up for it by not spending any DoJ resources on things like right wing terrorism.

•Because education secretary Betsy Devos has dropped an Obama policy of not contracting with student-loan servicers who screw over borrowers.

•Because electing “godly” people (which large numbers of Republicans stopped worrying about when Trump ran) doesn’t lead to moral government. Nor does electing homophobes.

•Because in Texas the Republicans don’t want minors joining unions without parental consent.

•Because some North Carolina Republicans want to make marriage heterosexual-only again. Ditto Tennessee. And one of the NC legislators, Larry Pittman, puts Lincoln fighting the Civil War in the same class as Hitler. And has also supported a bill canceling the “never secede again” clause in the Constitution. Funny, he doesn’t seem to see any connection between Hitler’s belief in racial superiority and the Confederacy’s support of racial superiority.

•Because they’re voting to let a church have its own police force. I know they say its purely for security, but I have a bad feeling about this …

•Because they give us daily examples of white privilege. And more white privilege (and then whine about how minorities shouldn’t be let into college because, merit!). Which we’re supposed to believe represents rugged individualism.

•Because they’re not answerable to the taxpayers: Oklahoma Rep. Markwayne Mullin says he’s so rich his taxes pay his salary, so he’s really doing it for free. But I’m sure he’s carefully crunched the numbers and eliminated all the other things he gets like roads, law enforcement and the military.

•Because if they can’t repeal Obamacare, they’re willing to shut off the money.

•Because they cut funding to libraries and legal services for the poor.

•Because their media lackeys will insist on explaining, even now, that Trump is identical to Clinton. Or that he’s the Martin Luther King of healthcare.

•Because they think a woman with a dead fetus should carry it to term instead of aborting (Republicans say the bill doesn’t actually require that, but that doesn’t change that Republican Shannon Lundgren, thinking it did, was cool with it).

•Because they’re still convinced this country belongs to Christians and nobody else.

•Because of the angry white men who think they got ripped off.

•Because we get smug Catholic conservatives like Ross Douthat taking up space in the NYT to tell liberals you should all go to church and (a classic!) even atheists know God exists. Though I will admit “go to liberal churches” is an improvement over his usual paeans to right-wing reactionaries and abstinence.

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Trump, Trump’s people and some people fighting against them

I wrote last week that the the one time we shouldn’t take Trump literally is when he promises something that will help people. Case in point, Trump is not planning to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. But that doesn’t stop some pundits dreaming that Trump is shifting to the center. Or applauding that as he attacked Syria, that makes him more presidential. Or in one particularly ghastly Politico piece, arguing that Trump running the White House as a family business is a good thing.

•The White House demanded Twitter provide the identity of an alleged government employee tweeting against Trump. Twitter refused. The White House backed down.

•The current FCC chair is working to eliminate the FCC’s new net neutrality policy. Oh, and Charter’s no longer required to compete for customers as part of its Time Warner merger. And with the FCC’s privacy restrictions on Internet providers also toast, one state is looking at imposing its own privacy rule.

•The EPA has postponed banning a pesticide that its own science says is dangerous to humans. It’s getting sued over that decision.

•Slacktivist discusses why Trump voters won’t let us have nice things (because that means people of color get them too). Echidne looks at Trump’s win and his staff as a backlash against feminism. Slacktivist (again) reminds us that when Jesus says we must love our neighbor the person who gets technical about who our neighbors are is doing it wrong.

•A court has ruled that civil rights laws prevents firing or refusing to hire gays.

•Some Republicans are proposing a way to let insurers charge through the roof for pre-existing conditions.

•No, the Democrats filibustering Neil Gorsuch is not at all unprecedented.

•If conservatives can live with Bill O’Reilly and the allegations of sexual harassment against him, why would they be bothered by Trump’s sexism?

•A close-up look at what Trump’s 2005 tax return really shows.

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“Take Trump seriously, but not literally”

As President Shit-Gibbon’s predilection for lying became more and more obvious, a defense cropped up on the right, that we’re making a mistake if we take him literally instead of seriously. His supporters do they opposite: they don’t take his words literally because they know he’s serious about making America great again. So journalists should stop focusing on Trump’s words because they’re just not as important to him as they are to writers (of course if that was true, he wouldn’t keep having hissy fits about words saying he lost the popular vote).

The argument is probably correct about a lot of Trump voters. They’re fine with his lies as long as it annoys liberals (who are constantly persecuting them with all this talk of science). They didn’t think he’d defund Planned Parenthood. They didn’t think he’d take away their health-care coverage and probably didn’t anticipate losing Meals on Wheels. Or Trump making it easier for federal contractors to violate labor laws. And some farmers are genuinely shocked that the guy who ran on an anti-immigrant platform is going to restrict immigration, which could kill their labor force (there’s notably little concern for what will happen to the immigrants). They didn’t take him literally and you know what? That was a mistake.

There is no circumstance under which “his voters don’t care Trump spews bullshit” is a good excuse for reporters not pointing out the bullshit. The article I refer to argues that as the public doesn’t care, there’s no point to reporting it — but his rationale is that “the public” equates to “Trump voters” when he was, as we all know, the minority choice for president.

But beyond that, assuming he doesn’t mean what he says is just contradicted by the facts. We should assume he means everything literally except when it’s about providing his voters with better welfare benefits, creating a superior health-care plan that will cover everyone (as opposed to the Trumpcare shitpile) and doing anything to make people’s lives better. Except where he can make them better by dumping on women and minorities. Oh, and when he talked about bringing death and destruction to the Middle East, and it turns out that was literal too.

A number of Republican pundits are perfectly happy not to take Trump literally, such as Peggy Noonan, who saw potential in Trump to be a kind of recyled Reagan: strong but not aggressive on defense, supportive of free enterprise, supportive of churches, “realistic and nonradical” on social issues. At the link she bemoans that it hasn’t happened, but does her best to blame his staff.

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