Why I’m Still a NeverTrumper – by Brett Stephens – NYT

Brett Stephens gets an attaboy!

“Tax cuts. Deregulation. More for the military; less for the United Nations. The Islamic State crushed in its heartland. Assad hit with cruise missiles. Troops to Afghanistan. Arms for Ukraine. A tougher approach to North Korea. Jerusalem recognized as Israel’s capital. The Iran deal decertified. Title IX kangaroo courts on campus condemned. Yes to Keystone. No to Paris. Wall Street roaring and consumer confidence high.And, of course, Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court. What, for a conservative, is there to dislike about this policy record as the Trump administration rounds out its first year in office?That’s the question I keep hearing from old friends on the right who voted with misgiving for Donald Trump last year and now find reasons to like him. I admit it gives me pause. I agree with every one of the policy decisions mentioned above. But I still wish Hillary Clinton were president.”

via Why I’m Still a NeverTrumper – The New York Times

I quibble with some of the items on his list. He doesn’t seem to know much about Iran. He doesn’t understand why we got a fair and important treaty with them. And as one commenter wrote, he is a neanderthal on climate change. But the arc of his reasoning is vital and important.

Here are a few comments I recommended:

THW

VA 15 hours ago

“But character does count, and virtue does matter, and Trump’s shortcomings prove it daily.”

This hits the nail on the head. It has never been, nor will it ever be, about politics and policy with President Trump. In the sense that he is a politician who transcends politics, he is now a transcendent figure. A man who was born into inherited wealth and power with no sense of self-awareness or empathy. The fact remains that before he won the election, his legacy would have been a trail of destruction and burned bridges—bankruptcies, divorces, lawsuits, and stiffed contractors—and a tv show. He has no real friends or business partners who will vouch for him or his character and he has zero record of serious charitable giving.

You wouldn’t be thrilled if he was coaching your son’s little league team or if your daughter brought a younger version of his current cariicature of himself home for thanksgiving dinner to meet the family.

No one comes out better for having entered a relationship with Donald Trump. No one. And yet here we are.

Kate

San Francisco 5 hours ago

Simply stated, this administration isn’t about conservatism – it’s a nascent dictatorship, as Mr. Stephens so aptly describes.

NYT Pick

William Trainor

Rock Hall,MD 7 hours ago

I am intrigued by your litany of accomplishments for the conservatives. Tax cuts and deregulation are obvious and perhaps actually the central hypothesis of conservatism, but the military strong arm stuff is conservative? Jerusalem as capital is a weird conservative agenda, more of a public relations prank for holding evangelical votes? Iran and North Korean diplomacy is on the wrong side of history unless we want to repeat Iraq. Climate denial is kind of neanderthal thinking, like denying a round world. Come on admit it the way to conservative heaven is to keep everyone in the dim while taxes and regulations rig the system for businesses. If that is what its all about, Trump is a genius. He had the angry worried about white lives matter while he samples their wallets. Buy enough polemics, the issue we face is culture. What is the culture of our country? We strive for better lives, love our neighbors, help the helpless and like to think we are the good guys. Oh, we aren’t always that idealistic and when progressives get all pure and purge their best for being rude, some people think that is the culture war and hate liberals. In order to keep America great, we have to stop listening to the demagogues and get back to the legitimate political discussions where one could discuss for 3 hours and finally say “you have a point there”; “so do you, lets get a beer”.

NYT Pick

John Dixon

Kansas City 13 hours ago

My parents raised us to be like them – to believe in Senator Moynahan’s version of liberalism. Yet they understood – and respected – the Senator’s version of conservatism, and raised us to do so, too. It wasn’t hard, because close at hand, we had examples of those on the other side that we respected; both of my parents had siblings with opposing views – and they raised our cousins with the same respect for the ideology of others.

All of our parents are gone now. Regardless of their ideology, all of them would be appalled by what is now occurring in the country they served and loved. And the surviving cousins? Almost all are now liberal Democrats.

For decades, Republicans have sought to gain power through whatever means necessary – first by hijacking “family values” as an election strategy instead of a political goal, and then consolidating that power incrementally through equally shady means. The end result is the election of this President. If my extended family is any indicator, it may also mean the coming end of the Republican party.

 

Merrill McPeak | Bombing the Ho Chi Minh Trail – NYT – & response

The Tây Sơn Rebellion on Facebook
Published by David Lindsay2 mins

Merrill McPeak ends with, “But when Saigon fell, it was not a swarm of ragtag Vietcong guerrillas who overran the city, but columns of Russian-made T-54 tanks, leading a modern field army complete with artillery and surface-to-air missiles, all delivered by those tough-guy truck drivers down that seemingly indestructible Ho Chi Minh Trail.”
I hope that Gen. McPeak reads of Vietnamese history, which I believe is the key to understanding the country, its people, and it extraordinary ability to wage war. The Chinese invaded in 101 BC, and tried to make Vietnam part of China, but almost a thousand years later, in AD 938, the Vietnamese rose up and threw the Chinese out in military conflict.
By the time Ho Hue, later called Nguyen Hue, the third son of the famous three brothers who led the Tay Son rebellion, defeated 200,000 Chinese army regulars in pitched battle, it was the seventh time, counting 938. The Viets defeated an army sent by Kublai Khan, and another army of 500,000 sent by his son Kublai Khan. Vietnamese military historians have reported that many of the booby traps used against US soldiers were part of an old technology perfected by the Vietnamese in the 13th century against one of the larger Chinese invasions. Over time, the Viets determined the southern border of China.

No matter how many times we attacked it, the North Vietnamese transit network remained. In the end, it’s how they won.
nytimes.com

America Is Not Yet Lost – by Paul Krugman – NYT

“Many of us came into 2017 expecting the worst. And in many ways, the worst is what we got.Donald Trump has been every bit as horrible as one might have expected; he continues, day after day, to prove himself utterly unfit for office, morally and intellectually. And the Republican Party — including so-called moderates — turns out, if anything, to be even worse than one might have expected. At this point it’s evidently composed entirely of cynical apparatchiks, willing to sell out every principle — and every shred of their own dignity — as long as their donors get big tax cuts.

Meanwhile, conservative media have given up even the pretense of doing real reporting, and become blatant organs of ruling-party propaganda.Yet I’m ending this year with a feeling of hope, because tens of millions of Americans have risen to the occasion. The U.S. may yet become another Turkey or Hungary — a state that preserves the forms of democracy but has become an authoritarian regime in practice. But it won’t happen as easily or as quickly as many of us had feared.”

Yes. Thank you Paul Krugman. Here are two top comments I ed=ndorsed.

R. Law

is a trusted commenter Texas 15 hours ago

Dr. K., we trust in the American people, but with McConnell, McCain, Graham, and other GOP’ers having all taken $7+ million$ from a Russian oligarch connected not just to Putin but to one of the sanctioned Russian banks in the 2016 cycle according to the Dallas Morning News:

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/8/4/1687031/-Dallas-Morning-News-R…

it appears the entire GOP will fall in lockstep behind Putin’s Poodle POTUS, to conceal the nefariousness that tars their party.

It is an additional reason GOP’ers are trying to throw up dust by investigating the uranium deal with Russia that occurred under Obama.

We find the quote from David Frum (speechwriter for Dubya) in his new book ‘Trumpocracy’ to be chillingly believable, from what we’ve observed:

” If Republicans become convinced that they cannot win democratically, they will not abandon conservatism, they will reject democracy. ”

From here, it looks like Winter is upon us, in the form of GOP’er vultures.

At least in Tibet, people are dead before they are fed to the buzzards:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3301536/The-Tibetan-sky-burials-…

Ralph Averill

New Preston, Ct 13 hours ago

I am optimistic as well. The Trump phenomena has awaken many sleepy Democrats and perhaps inspired a lot of independents who no longer have Hillary Clinton to kick around any more.
I think many Americans have come to realize that it really can happen here; we can lose this great experiment. We are only two or three elections away from giving it all away. The 2018 mid-term elections will be the most critical elections since just before the Civil War.

A tsunami of human-made troubles in the Indonesian capital poses an imminent threat to the city’s survival. And it has to deal with mounting threats from climate change. By MICHAEL KIMMELMAN, Photographs by JOSH HANER

The Tây Sơn Rebellion
Published by David Lindsay20 mins

“In fact, Jakarta is sinking faster than any other big city on the planet, faster, even, than climate change is causing the sea to rise — so surreally fast that rivers sometimes flow upstream, ordinary rains regularly swamp neighborhoods and buildings slowly disappear underground, swallowed by the earth. The main cause: Jakartans are digging illegal wells, drip by drip draining the underground aquifers on which the city rests — like deflating a giant cushion underneath it. About 40 percent of Jakarta now lies below sea level.

Coastal districts, like Muara Baru, near the Blessed Bodega, have sunk as much as 14 feet in recent years. Not long ago I drove around northern Jakarta and saw teenagers fishing in the abandoned shell of a half-submerged factory. The banks of a murky canal lapped at the trestle of a railway bridge, which, until recently, had arched high over it.”

“Jakarta’s former governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, known as Ahok, ordered the eviction. He is ethnic Chinese, a geological engineer by training. As governor, he tackled several of Jakarta’s big problems, or tried to. He tried, but failed, to wrest control of the water supply from the private companies. He assembled a sanitation crew, called the Orange Army, to remove sediment and garbage from rivers and canals.

Workers repairing a sea wall that failed, flooding homes in a nearby kampung.

And he cleared out some of the kampungs that obstructed waterways. The efforts began to make a difference. Rains that once caused days of floods drained within hours.

But many people forced out, like Topaz, resisted the moves, convinced that the evictions were really intended to enrich developers, not improve drainage. Akuarium became a hotbed of protest against the governor.

Capitalizing on residents’ resistance and the piety of the urban poor, the hard-line Islamic Defenders Front teamed with some of the governor’s political rivals and religious conservatives to tap into a vein of anti-Chinese populism. Ahok’s enemies escalated what had been a conflict over the displacement of a fishing community into an argument about whether a non-Muslim should lead a Muslim-majority city.

The governor found himself regularly attacked at Friday prayers. He lost his re-election bid, and the Islamists, who exploited anger against him, had him brought up on charges of blasphemy. He is serving two years in prison.”

David Lindsay:  These stories make a good argument for communism, or fascism. Democracy hasn’t worked for Jakarta.

It seems like they are repeating an old meme from the Christian bible stories,  the sins of the world were cleansed by Noah’s flood.

 

Countless human-made troubles in the Indonesian capital pose an imminent threat to the city’s survival. And it has to deal with mounting threats from…
NYTIMES.COM

Opinion by Thomas Friedman | Merry Christmas- Vladimir — Your Friend- Donald

“At the end of this banner stock market year, you can bet that major business publications will be naming their investor of the year. You can stop now. I have the winner, and nobody is even close when it comes to his total return on investment: Vladimir Putin, the Russian president.

A recent report in The Washington Post, quoting intelligence sources, said Putin may have spent less than $500,000 to hack our last election and help (though Hillary helped much more) Donald Trump become president. And Putin’s payoff is Trump’s first year: a president who is simultaneously eroding some of our most basic norms, undermining some of our most cherished institutions and enacting a mammoth tax bill that will not make America great again.

If you assume, as I do, that Putin wants to see an America that is not an attractive model for his own people or others to emulate, and that he wants an America run by a chaos president who cannot lead the West, then Trump is his dream come true, whether or not there was any collusion between them.

So Vladimir Putin, come on up! You’re my Investor of the Year. You’re the Warren Buffett of geopolitics.”

The Built-In Instability of the G.O.P.’s Tax Bill – By REBECCA KYSAR and LINDA SUGIN – NYT

“Republicans are on the verge of achieving their decades-long goal: an overhaul of the tax code. But the system they have built will not last.The plan’s instability is partly a result of the process Republican Party leaders chose to make it happen. Reconciliation, which allows escape from the Senate filibuster, means that Republicans did not have to reach across the aisle. Not a single Democrat supported the legislation.

This choice has consequences. For one, the exclusion of Democrats means that there is no buy-in from the minority party that will one day, perhaps soon, be in the majority again. This dynamic is worsened by the fact that the tax legislation pits blue states against red through the limitation of the state and local tax deductions. In the end, Republicans have chosen policies that are more extreme than they would have if they had worked with Democrats.”

DL:  Well done. Here are the top comments which I endorse:

mancuroc is a trusted commenter rochester 12 hours ago

“Republicans are on the verge of achieving their decades-long goal: an overhaul of the tax code.”

Yes it is a decades-long goal. No it isn’t an overhaul – it’s a heist that moves massive amounts of wealth to the top.

Reply 376 Recommended

ChristineMcM is a trusted commenter Massachusetts 10 hours ago

“These policies not only face the risk of being undone by a future Democratic majority, but also could indeed prove to be so lopsided as to alienate the more centrist of Republicans. Worse, Republicans now aim to take advantage of the instability they’ve created by cutting so-called entitlements like Medicare down the line, burdening the poor and the middle class.”

Actually, they kick the middle and lower classes three ways: first by raising taxes on those who might have itemized deductions in high tax states; second, making them pay the penalty for fixing deficits the GOP created in the first place; and third, making sure their “cuts” such as they are are temporary.

Once the understaffed, underfunded IRS sets these 1000 pages into rules and regulations, I believe they’ll find a ton of stuff that sets off unintended consequences.

By then of course, Democrats may take back the house and face the dirty job of fixing the GOP’s messes (which they always do).

But now, at least, Republicans can’t call Democrats the “tax and spend” party. No, the real truth is more like the “clean up party, ” fixing the messes created by the “Cut and spend” Republicans, who are gambling that the Dems will be blamed once the economy tanks.

It might be hard to prove given how this unilateral bill was rammed through without Democrat participation or votes.

And if Congress thinks all will be fogotten, I can assure them, we won’t let the public forget.

Reply 346 Recommended

Bruce Rozenblit is a trusted commenter Kansas City, MO 11 hours ago

The line being touted by the Republicans is that the temporary nature of the individual tax cuts exists only because of the rules of reconciliation. They are laying the groundwork for blaming the tax cut expiration on the Democrats if they don’t make them permanent next year.

How stupid do they think we are? If these cuts are made permanent, then the deficit will be much larger than the forecasted 1.5 trillion. Why don’t they increase the corporate rates in 2025 and then make the individual rates permanent? By then, if their supply side magic works, corporations will be so wealthy, they can afford to pay more in taxes. The public will have financed their growth with debt and deserves to be paid back.

But no. The deficit most likely explode under this bill. It will be much higher than forecast. That is because of the many new loopholes they opened up that are yet to be fully exploited. Give the accountants six months to launch their plans.

They also keep saying that the increased profits will be reinvested which will grow businesses. Here we go again. It is demand that grows business, not supply. Investments are always made in response to demand. All the GOP did was to dramatically boost profits with the stroke of a pen. You don’t make more widgets if you can’t sell them. If you make more money on the widgets you sell, you stick the money in your pocket.

This is going to blow up. The Democrats should prepare to assess blame on where it belongs, the GOP.

Flag
Reply 306 Recommended

Opinion by David Brooks | The Workers Paradise

From the comments section, the top comment, and my rebuttal.

JBC

Indianapolis 16 hours ago

The tax revenue lost by the 7% difference between 21 and 28 is sizeable, and Obama never would have placed the impact of any corporate tax cut on the backs of the middle class and those with even lower incomes. Do not act like this is no big deal Mr. Brooks. It is.

David Lindsay Jr.

Hamden, CT

Bravo David Brooks. Keep writing, and don’t let the detractors get you down. I’m disappointed that 698 commenters endorsed JBC. The problem with the JBC critique is that Brooks is just right that the world is going towards a 20% or lower corporate tax. But progressive, steep income taxes, and vat taxes, make up the difference, so that other developed countries have plenty to spend on social services for the middle and lower classes. We also spend more on military than these other counties, and fight in poorly thought out wars, which are wasteful. The problem with the GOP tax bill is not the 20% corporate rate, but almost all of the rest of it. They were supposed to get rid of all the loopholes, so that corporations would have to pay 20%. David is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-Century Vietnam”, and blogs at TheTaysonRebellion.com.

ALLi Watchdog: Amazon vs Apple by Giacomo Giammatteo on February 5- 2015

A compelling argument for indie authors to distribute their self-published books via Apple iBooks as well as Amazon etc – by ALLi’s Watchdog Giacomo Giammatteo

“Amazon Vs Apple

Everyone knows that Amazon sells more books than Apple, but it’s becoming obvious that Apple has moved past B&N into the number two position, and Apple is continuing to grow. According to iBooks Store Director Keith Moerer, addressing publishers at Digital Book World 2015, Apple’s ebook businesses is gaining 1 million new customers every week. That’s a lot of new readers.”

Comparing Apple and Amazon

FEATURE AMAZON APPLE
Categories 2 3
Commission 99c–2.98 35 70
Commissions 2.99–9.99 70 70
Commissions 10+ 35 70
Commissions Int’l[1] 35 70
Coupons X
Delivery charges 15c per megabyte up to 2 Gig free
Exclusivity required for some benefits X
File types .mobi epub
Free books w/Select 5 days per quarter anytime
Free books w/o Select X anytime
Payment terms 60 days 32 days
Price matching enforced X
Pricing internationally some control complete control
Reach globally 12 territories 51 countries
Sales reporting updated every few hours daily
Scheduling promotions with Select anytime
Series manager tool X
Uploading easy need a Mac

Passing Through to Corruption – by Paul Krugman – NYT

“Unless something drastic happens, this will be the week Republicans ram through a tax cut that adds more than a trillion dollars to federal debt while undermining health care for millions. They will do so by violating all previous norms for major legislation, having held not a single hearing and rushed to a vote before the new senator from Alabama could be seated.The question is, why are they doing this? For this bill isn’t just a policy crime; it also seems to be a political mistake. It will, however, be good, one way or another, for the bank accounts of quite a few Republican members of Congress. Is that why it will pass?

About the politics: Normally, politicians willing to add a trillion dollars to the debt can hand out enough goodies to make their plans popular, at least for a while. The George W. Bush tax cuts heavily favored the rich over the middle class, but they contained enough clear middle-class tax cuts to have broad public approval, at least at first.This bill, however, faces heavy disapproval. Ordinary voters may not be able to parse all the details, but they have figured out that this bill is a giveaway to corporations and the wealthy that will end up hurting most families. This negative view isn’t likely to change.”