Paul Krugman | Lies- Incoherence and Rage on Tax Cuts – NYT 

“One thing you can count on in 21st-century U.S. politics is that Republicans will lie about taxes. They did it under George W. Bush, they did it under Barack Obama and they’re still doing it under Donald Trump.

Yet this time is different. It’s not just that the lies have gotten even more brazen. There’s now a combination of incoherence and rage that we, or at least I, haven’t seen before. These days, they can’t even seem to get their fake story straight — and they literally start yelling obscenities when someone tries to point out the facts.

G.O.P. lies about taxes generally involve two issues: who is hurt or helped by tax changes, and what these changes will do to the budget.”

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Opinion | ‘Only Morons Pay the Estate Tax’ – NYT

“So who actually does pay estate tax?

1. The top 0.2 percent. Some 11,300 American estates — about 0.2 percent — are estimated to be subject to the estate tax this year. The top tenth of income earners pay nearly 90 percent of estate taxes collected, and about one fourth of that total is paid by the richest 0.1 percent. The tax itself has been whittled down significantly. Until 2001, it applied to inheritances starting at $650,000 for an individual. Today, an inheritance must be larger than $5.49 million for an individual or $10.98 million for a couple for their heirs to be liable for any estate tax at all. Opponents of the tax say it taxes earnings twice. But more than half of the biggest estates consist of unrealized capital gains — like stocks that have appreciated without being sold — that have never been previously taxed.”

F.C.C. Is Said to Plan Repeal of Net Neutrality Rules

“WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission is preparing a full repeal of net neutrality rules that require broadband providers to give consumers equal access to all content on the internet, putting more power in the hands of those companies to dictate people’s online experiences.

Ajit Pai, the chairman of the F.C.C., plans to reveal a sweeping proposal to scrap the net neutrality rules on Tuesday, according to two people familiar with the plan, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the details are not public. The rules, created during the Obama administration, prohibit broadband providers from blocking, slowing down or charging more for the delivery of certain internet content. The proposal will be presented in a December meeting of F.C.C. commissioners and is expected to pass in a 3-to-2 vote along party lines.”

David Lindsay Jr.

Hamden, CT 

Help, Help, Stop these people. I am not an expert on this complicated subject, but there was a terrific video on youtube by John Oliver, explaining Net Neutrality. The Obama Administration regulators decided the public needed this protection for a good reason. It will be all too easy for big corporations to stiffle competion, benefiting themselves at the expense of consumers and the ecoomy.

The Siege Mentality Problem – by David Brooks – NYT

“Why are so many conservative evangelicals in Alabama still supporting Roy Moore? For that matter, why have so many evangelicals around the country spent the past two years embracing Donald Trump?

I just took part in a compelling conversation on this subject at the Faith Angle Forum, founded by the late Michael Cromartie of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and came away with one core explanation: the siege mentality. In fact, I’d say the siege mentality explains most of the dysfunctional group behavior these days, on left and right.

You see the siege mentality not just among evangelical Christians but also among the campus social justice warriors and the gun lobbyists, in North Korea and Iran, and in the populist movements across Europe.

The siege mentality starts with a sense of collective victimhood. It’s not just that our group has opponents. The whole “culture” or the whole world is irredeemably hostile.”

This is an imortant piece by David Brooks, and it rings true. There are issues to work through, as presented by the top comment, which I also endorsed, even though I basically agree with Brooks’ main premise. What is frightening, is that as a hard working environmentalist, terrified by climate change and overpopulation, I fit the bill of being in a member of group that has a siege mentality.

Ed in Seattle

Seattle, WA 1 day ago

Mr. Brooks thinks that America’s leaders should have worked out an accommodation with evangelicals over gay marriage. That’s a typical Brooks position – find a way to spread the blame over both sides. But he ducks the question of what kind of accommodation might be possible. Because there is no possible accommodation.

The evangelicals already have freedom of religion in their houses of worship. The government isn’t asking their churches to perform gay marriages. Would the accommodation have been, allow restaurants to deny service to gay couples? Allow hotels get to deny rooms to gay couples?

The fact is, religious conservatives are being asked to live in a society that recognizes the rights of people whose beliefs are different than their beliefs. Compromising on that basic principle not only sanctions bigotry, it sacrifices our core values of liberty and freedom for people of all faiths.

Donald Trump- Paul Ryan and the Con Man Caucus – by Paul Krugman – NYT

Paul Krugman savages Paul Ryan, and rightfully so. He then goes on:

“But these big tax cuts would blow a multitrillion-dollar hole in the budget, so Republicans have been scrambling to find “pay-fors” that limit the addition to the deficit. What they came up with was a hodgepodge of stuff: ending deductions for some state and local taxes, limiting deductions for mortgage interest, phasing out child tax credits, and so on.

Since the point of these measures is to offset tax cuts for the rich, they will, more or less by definition, end up raising taxes on large numbers of middle-class families.Will this bill pass the House? Unclear: Some important interest groups, like homebuilders and the small-business lobby, have already declared opposition. In any case, it almost surely can’t become law in anything like its current form: A tax bill can’t pass the Senate with less than 60 votes if it raises the long-term budget deficit, which this bill surely does. In fact, this bill might not even get a simple Senate majority.”

Read the whole thing, not surprisingly, its brilliant, but easy to understand.
Here are the top comments, all of which I approved:

gemli is a trusted commenter Boston 14 hours ago

Professional wrestlers put on a more convincing show than these Republican millionaires as they try to convince the rubes that they’re looking out for a bunch dumb poor people whose health care they recently tried to destroy. People who believe a single word Ryan and his henchmen say about this “plan” deserve to have their pockets picked.

Government is supposed to protect us from thieves, liars and con men, not hold us down while they skin us alive. But we’ve got a professional scam artist for president and a cadre of self-serving, bible-thumping hypocrites looking for any excuse to steal from the poor to give to the rich.

I suppose they felt emboldened after so many millions of people put an idiot in the White House. No grifter worth his salt would fail to take advantage of people so clueless that they couldn’t tell the difference between presidential and pestilential.

Our only hope is that enough people like Dr. Krugman and the few decent souls who remain in what’s left of this tattered government shine a light on this dark deal and make the saps understand what they’re in for.

On a side note, Where Are The Democrats? They’ve got to make some noise about this. It’s got to be loud, nasty and continuous. At this point, I don’t know what they’ve got to lose.

Reply 840Recommended

Socrates is a trusted commenter Downtown Verona NJ 13 hours ago

We have met the enemy, and it’s Republican.

If you were going to charge $1.5 trillion to the national credit card (because you didn’t have any money), it would be a could idea to spend that money on something productive…like roads, tunnels, bridges, trains, infrastructure, research & development, education, healthcare — items that fuel the economy and make it function better in this ultramodern age.

Spending it on millionaires and rich corporations – which the GOP plan does -who will pass the savings on to a few wealthy shareholders, will accomplish mostly one thing – an explosion of national debt, accompanied by an explosion of debt interest payments and a spike in interest rates that will depress the economy.

If you’re a fan of Greece’s huge national debt, then you’ll be a fan of the GOP’s explode-the-debt plan.

The Republican $1.5 trillion explode-the-debt tax cut plan will put the national debt on GOP steroids.

Under existing tax law, national debt is set to grow from a post-World War II era high of 77% of GDP to 91% by 2027.

With the GOP’s proposed explode-the-debt millionaire tax cut, which would cost about $1.8 trillion after interest costs, national debt would instead reach 97% of GDP in 2027 and equal the size of the American economy by 2028.

Who cares about bankrupting the country when you’ve got a confident Bankruptcy-Filer-In-Chief leading the charge over the reckless cliff ?

Greedy and Stupid is no way to run a nation, and a good way to bankrupt it.

Reply 702Recommended

KJ Portland 13 hours ago

They want to create a huge deficit so they can privatize social security and destroy medicare.

Ryan is a libertarian. Good government is no government.

They want to kill the New Deal.

Flag
Reply 695Recommended

Robert Mercer- Bannon Patron- Is Leaving Helm of $50 Billion Hedge Fund – The New York Times

“Robert Mercer, a billionaire investor and top financial backer of conservative causes, is stepping down as co-chief executive of Renaissance Technologies, as the giant hedge fund faces a backlash from some clients who resent Mr. Mercer’s embrace of polarizing political figures.

Discomfort with Mr. Mercer’s political activism — including protests aimed at university endowments, foundations and pension funds with money invested in Renaissance — has showed signs of taking a small but growing toll. The retirement fund for Baltimore’s police and firefighters, for example, last week asked that all of the $33 million it had invested in Renaissance be refunded, said David A. Randall, the retirement fund’s deputy executive director.

The Baltimore fund had been contacted by a local reporter about whether the pension was bothered by Mr. Mercer’s political activities. Seeking to avoid bad publicity, the pension’s directors convened an emergency conference call and decided to pull their money.”

David Lindsay:
It is not a complete coincidence that we learn today that the new Republican tax plan fails to raise the tax rate on hedge fund billionaires from the 20% capital gains rate to the 39.6% rate that is supposed to be for our richest citizens.

The comments at NYTimes.com are enlightening, such as:

SJM

Florida 20 hours ago

Some believe, including HRC, that the Mercers were instrumental in providing sophisticated social research that identified hot button issues of controversy among select voters in key electoral districts. This “research” focused on wedges in the community: immigration, policing, racial divides, etc. Some also believe that this social trending may have “fallen” into the hands of Russian hackers and misinformation specialists. The connection is Mueller’s to make, but could be part of Mr. Mercer’s resignations.

Robert Mueller in the Cross Hairs – by NIcholas Kristof – NYT

“We may shortly be facing a national crisis. President Trump’s base is egging him on to undertake his own “Saturday Night Massacre” and fire Robert Mueller for committing … for committing … uh, well, for working too hard as a prosecutor.

On Fox News, the host Jeanine Pirro proposed firing Mueller, blaming the Democrats, and imprisoning Hillary Clinton. Speaking of the Mueller investigation, Pirro said, “It’s time to shut it down, turn the tables, and lock her up.”Wow. I’ve reported from tin-pot countries where public figures talk blithely of shutting down prosecutors and imprisoning rivals. I never thought I’d live in one.

Lou Dobbs of Fox Business Network denounced Mueller’s “gross overreach,” and the pro-Trump site Gateway Pundit excoriated “deep state crooked cop Robert Mueller.” Across the right wing, ideological snipers are taking potshots at Mueller, and even The Wall Street Journal has suggested in an editorial that Mueller resign.

All this amounts to a perilous pirouette. After all, Mueller was last known to be a registered Republican and was appointed F.B.I. director by a Republican president, George W. Bush. Newt Gingrich reflected the G.O.P. consensus when he wrote in a May tweet: “Robert Mueller is superb choice to be special counsel. His reputation is impeccable for honesty and integrity.”

Good Grief. What are we coming to?

Russia-Financed Ad Linked Clinton and Satan – The New York Times

“The hearings exposed a growing rift between Silicon Valley and Washington, where sentiment toward big tech companies has drastically shifted.

While the lawyers showed humility and promised to beef up security and improve technology to prevent foreign interference in elections, they admitted they could not guarantee they would prevent future intrusions. Google’s general counsel, Kent Walker, said the company would work on creating new technologies to detect foreign actors and misinformation on its site. All three said they would build artificial intelligence tools to combat fake and problematic content.

(VideoHow Russian Bots and Trolls Invade Our Lives — and ElectionsHow do bots and trolls work to infiltrate social media platforms and influence U.S. elections? We take a closer look at these insidious online pests to explain how they work. By NATALIA V. OSIPOVA and AARON BYRD on Publish Date October 31, 2017. Photo by Aaron Byrd/The New York Times. Watch in Times Video » embed Share Tweet)

Some lawmakers used the hearings to stake a position on the influence of the Kremlin’s social media use in the election. The conclusions, particularly among senators, split along political lines. Republicans offered an implicit defense of the legitimacy of President Trump’s victory and dismissed the effect of Russian meddling.”

David Lindsay Hamden, CT Pending Approval

Great work and writing and video by By CECILIA KANG, NICHOLAS FANDOS and MIKE ISAAC.

I posted the video and report to my Facebook account, and wrote: This is important. I finally understand how the Russians used Trolls and Bots, and what these terms actually mean.
Now I will post all to my blog, InconvenientNews.wordpress.com.
I’m not sure how to fight these Russian and other trolls amplified by bots, but I would start by making all social media companies liable for financial damages for their interference in our politics or economy. That is what they called in business school, lining up incentives with desired outcomes.
Also, severe government regulations to protect our democracy are probably in order, if we can figure out how to do it.

The Upside of Being Ruled by the Five Tech Giants – by Farhad Manjoo – NYT

“The tech giants are too big. But what if that’s not so bad?For a year and a half — and more urgently for much of the last month — I have warned of the growing economic, social and political power held by the five largest American tech companies: Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook and Microsoft.

Because these companies control the world’s most important tech platforms, from smartphones to app stores to the map of our social relationships, their power is growing closer to that of governments than of mere corporations. That was on stark display this week, when executives from two of the five, Facebook and Google, along with a struggling second-tier company, Twitter, testified before Congress about how their technology may have been used to influence the 2016 election.

Yet ever since I started writing about what I call the Frightful Five, some have said my very premise is off base. I have argued that the companies’ size and influence pose a danger. But another argument suggests the opposite — that it’s better to be ruled by a handful of responsive companies capable of bowing to political and legal pressure. In other words, wouldn’t you rather deal with five horse-size Zucks than 100 duck-size technoforces?”

David Lindsay Hamden, CT Pending Approval

Great reporting and analysis Farhad Manjoo. Amazon has definitely crossed the lines of propriety. Read the story of how they blackmailed Diapers.com into selling to them or going under. Amazon deserves to be broken up, and carefully regulated like a serial criminal, whose operations you often enjoy.

If the Europeans are telling the truth, Google needs severe government oversight as well. The Europeans report that Google’s searches just happen to prefer Google companies and partners.
David Lindsay blogs at InconvenientNews.wordpress.com

Russia Inquiry Fails to Unite a Nation – by Jim Rutenberg – NYT

” . . .The opacity of the tech companies was matched by the efforts of some conservative media outlets to confuse and distract.

In the days leading up to the indictment of Mr. Manafort and his lobbying partner Rick Gates, they saw fit to question Mr. Mueller’s legitimacy. They did so while arguing that the real focus should be on Mrs. Clinton, the Democrats and a political research firm that commissioned the gathering of information on Mr. Trump’s ties to Russia, Fusion GPS.The counternarrative was particularly pronounced in the outlets controlled by Mr. Murdoch — who has close ties to the president’s family — and his news and entertainment companies, 21st Century Fox and News Corp.

On Saturday, the Fox News host Jeanine Pirro called for the jailing of Mrs. Clinton, saying, “It’s time to shut it down, turn the tables and lock her up.”She alleged that “the Obamas and the Clintons” had “built the Trump-Russia connection,” pointing to a report in The Washington Post that the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee had helped finance research by Fusion GPS, which produced a dossier describing ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. She did not mention a report in The New York Times that a conservative media organization, The Free Beacon, hired Fusion GPS to research Mr. Trump and other Republicans.”

Important reporting, followed by good comments:

michael

r 4 hours ago

It’s no accident that the two countries that have voted radically “right” recently – the USA and England (with Brexit) – are the two with active Murdoch properties.

Compare that with how the vote in France went down: even after it was known that there were attempts to compromise the election, there was no rush to confuse the electorate because there was no organization that could profit (greatly) from mistrust.

pielouka

meridale 4 hours ago

Rupert Murdoch is responsible for more misinformation, lies and political spin and malfeasance in USA than any other individual. He ushered in an age of extreme partisanship and political dysfunction. He is a traitor of the very worst kind.

Shelley

NYC 4 hours ago

News Corp, parent company of Fox Noise continues to be a national security threat. Murdoch has managed to mess with multiple countries and should have his US passport stripped and deported. It is nothing more than propaganda and an extension of the RNC state media.

There’s a reason they are not allowed to broadcast in Canada. We should follow their lead.

susan

nyc 4 hours ago

Bill Maher said it best. Fox News is “state news.”

RMS

SoCal 4 hours ago

The Fox network is unconcerned with operating in the public interest. On the contrary, it is interested in operating to benefit the Republican party and, most specifically, the Republican party’s donors – the Mercers, et al. To this end, it has ensured that a significant proportion of the U.S. population is not just uninformed, but actively disinformed – ignorant and stewing in a caldron of lies and hatred directed at liberals, minorities and those “elites” (i.e., educated people).

Will.

NYC 4 hours ago

One elderly foreigner creates too much chaos in this country.

Let’s ban him.

NYT Pick

BMD

USA 3 hours ago

Murdoch has no shame. The truth has no meaning in his world. One would hope that as people age they would begin to care about their legacy and making the world a better place for their children and grandchildren. Apparently, that thinking does not apply to Murdoch who must rejoice in turmoil, lies and chaos.

Matthew Carnicelli

is a trusted commenter Brooklyn, New York 3 hours ago

Rupert Murdoch should never have been allowed to become an American citizen.

That he was given a fast-track to citizenship by Newt Gingrich, despite a long history of pimping smut and fake news in the British and Aussie tabloids, only illustrates how utterly degenerate the 1990s Republican establishment was; and it is the political pornography enabled by this degenerate establishment that gave birth to Trump.

Seriously, there are forms of hard-core sexual pornography that have more redeeming human value than the political pornography of Fox – for these forms of sexual pornography let everyone know up front that the scenarios are completely made up, and offered for the purposes of entertaining sexual fantasy.

In contrast, the audiences of Fox and contemporary conservative media are often completely unaware that what they’re being fed is political fantasy presented in a deliberate effort to distort their perceptions of reality.