Friday, March 17, 2017

Cruising the Web

Every year the president submits a budget and the opposing party declares it DOA in Congress. Even members of the president's own party will criticize it. I always wonder why anyone would want to be OMB director. They spend their time compiling a budget that ends up angering a lot of people in their own administration because no one likes seeing their department's budget cut. Then they submit a plan or a blueprint of a budget and everyone blasts it and then Congress writes its own budget while ignoring anything they don't like from the president's budget. Who would want that job?

With all the sturm und drang over the budget blueprint that the Trump administration put out yesterday, it shouldn't be ignored how little of the budget this impacts.
Critics are portraying these domestic cuts as shocking while Mr. Trump is advertising his defense increases as the largest in history. They’re both wrong. The annual federal budget is now more than $4 trillion, so the White House is proposing to shift a mere 1.35% of that to defense from other priorities. That’s it.

The proposal does represent a sharp change in priorities after the past eight years when President Obama squeezed defense in favor of domestic accounts. Defense spending has fallen to about 3% of the economy from 4.7% in 2010. Domestic discretionary spending boomed until the GOP Congress began to rein it in after fiscal 2011. The number of full-time equivalent federal employees increased even with the GOP limits to an estimated 2.137 million this year from 1.978 million in 2009.

The notion that this is a wholesale, much less cruel, restructuring of the federal government is a fantasy that only Washington would attempt to promote. Take the defense increase, which is welcome but not even close to Ronald Reagan’s buildup.

The proposal is a 10% increase over the 2018 budget cap set by the Budget Control Act. But it is only about 3% above what Barack Obama proposed in his final budget as he tried to neutralize the defense issue during the presidential campaign. Most of this money will meet urgent needs in operations and maintenance to keep planes flying and troops trained and moving. A serious defense budget that begins to meet Mr. Trump’s pledge to build a 350 ship Navy will have to start with the fiscal 2019 budget expected in May.

As for cutting domestic non-entitlement programs, it’s hard to argue that the federal government couldn’t use a top-to-bottom scrub. Would the American people even notice if the Agriculture and Labor departments had to cut their budgets by 20.7%, or Commerce by 15.7%?

Then again, the specific spending proposals are a combination of the sensible and head-scratching. The White House wants to cut $5.8 billion from the National Institutes of Health to $25.8 billion, which is bad policy and puzzling politics. Spending on medical research, especially in this era of biological breakthroughs, is one place where government meets a need the private sector can’t entirely fill. There’s also bipartisan support for NIH, so Congress will spend more anyway.

On the other hand, the White House is right to want to save $3 billion by defunding the Community Development Block Grant program at Housing and Urban Development. This is a political slush fund for developers and progressive activists that has spent $150 billion since 1974 with little community development.

Mr. Trump is also picking fights with some of his political opponents by proposing to zero out such long-time untouchables as public broadcasting and the national endowments for the arts and humanities. The programs are small relative to the $4 trillion budget, but it’s fair to ask if taxpayers should still have to subsidize PBS in an age with hundreds of cable channels and social-media networks. Every program should have to defend itself against, say, grants for Alzheimer’s research.

A good political rule for conservatives is if you’re going to propose cutting a program, you might as well try to eliminate it. The political pain is as great and if you succeed the payoff is greater. The mistake to avoid is cutting some popular program that critics can make a political focus that defines your entire budget. The White House is probably going to learn that lesson with its proposal to cut Meals on Wheels for the elderly.
The real spending is in entitlements. It's been clear for years and years, that if mandatory entitlement spending isn't reformed, it will soon be taking over the discretionary part of the budget. I've been showing students graphs for years to demonstrate how there is going to be less and less money in the budget for discretionary spending if we don't do something about mandatory spending. With Trump taking such reforms off the table, of course there are going to be cuts on the other side.


The Washington Post does its bit to try to arouse outrage at the Trump administration over rumored cuts that will mean that Big Bird will get the ax. For years, any time that Republicans talked about cutting money for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, liberals drag out Big Bird.
Presidents as far back as Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan have discussed or proposed zero funding, only to have congressional allies come through to save the day. President George W. Bush proposed zero funding in all eight years of his administration; CPB’s appropriation actually grew 14 percent during the Bush years.

Which makes Big Bird more like Dracula; he keeps coming back from the dead....

They have also mobilized the public at times, such as a 2011 lobbying campaign that brought Big Bird to the halls of Congress (that bit of theater may have been blunted by a 2015 deal between “Sesame Street’s” parent company, Sesame Workshop, and HBO, in which Sesame produces first-run episodes for the pay-TV network; PBS gets the reruns).
Any parent should marvel that the public should pay a cent to subsidize Big Bird which is owned by the Sesame Workshop which earns tens of millions from licensing the characters from Sesame Street for toys, books, clothes, music, etc. Don't use Big Bird as the symbol for why we should still have public broadcasting.

But cutting money for public TV and radio, while salutary, is a spit in the ocean for the sorts of budget cuts needed. As Matt Lewis points out, Trump's vow to increase spending on the military while keeping entitlements is just mystical thinking. These sorts of promises can't be kept and conservatives praising the increases to the military need to recognize this.
Many conservatives, including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, have long argued that fixing entitlements like Social Security, which accounted for about 24 percent of the budget last year, is our most pressing budgetary problem. According to the Heritage Foundation, “Without any changes, mandatory spending, including net interest, will consume three-fourths of the budget in just one decade.”

In fairness to Trump, he won the presidential election partly because he promised working-class voters he wouldn’t touch Social Security or Medicare. Still, by ignoring the money-rich portion of the budget and instead focusing on non-defense discretionary spending, Viard points out that Trump is “not grappling with the long-run fiscal problems.”

Once you take defense spending and entitlements off the table, and then factor in interest on the debt, you’re not left with much.


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The Intelligence Committees in Congress came to the conclusion most people knew they were going to - that there is no evidence that there was government surveillance of Trump Tower. Mr. Trump famously made the accusation in a Twitter blast late last month, without evidence, and no evidence has surfaced. “I don’t think there was an actual tap of Trump Tower,” said House Intelligence chairman Devin Nunes, adding that if you take Mr. Trump literally, then “clearly the President was wrong.” The WSJ has a mature recommendation for the President.
As for Mr. Trump’s accusation, White House spokesman Sean Spicer says “he stands by it.” Mr. Trump would be wiser to say he fired the tweet in anger and walk it back. An apology can be good for the soul—and a Presidency.
Yeah, like that is going to happen.

David French has some fun with a NYT story, "Neil Gorsuch Has Web of Ties to Secretive Billionaire." The Times seems to be perturbed by the fact that Gorsuch, when in private practice was the attorney for Colorado billionaire Philip F. Anschutz who seems suspiciously secretive because he shuns the public spotlight.
Well, it turns out that it’s Philip Anschutz, a billionaire so “secretive” that he owns the Weekly Standard and Washington Examiner. He’s so reclusive that he made possible such quiet little films like the Chronicles of Narnia series, Holes, and Charlotte’s Web (is that the “web” that ensnared Gorsuch?) He owns stakes in small-time sports teams like, umm, the Los Angeles Lakers and in cozy little venues like the Staples Center. My last posting in the Army Reserve was right next to the sprawling Anschutz Medical Campus, a place his family funded with a miserly $91 million gift. So, yeah, nobody knows the guy.

Why is he “secretive” then? Well, unlike some rich men, he doesn’t seem to seek out press coverage. Like most Americans, he values his privacy. His work is public. His private life is private.

As for the “web of ties,” it turns out that Gorsuch used to represent Anschutz, his executives, and his business. In other words, Gorsuch is Anschutz’s former lawyer. Apparently, Gorsuch did such fine work for Anschutz that Anschutz recommended him for the federal bench. Oh, and Gorsuch also befriended executives at Anschutz’s companies — to such an extent that they went in together on a vacation house.

Gorsuch, by the way, disclosed his ties to Anschutz and recused himself from cases involving his former clients, as ethical judges do.

Americans should take comfort from the fact that Gorsuch is so squeaky clean that this is a news story. Here’s a news flash: when lawyers do their jobs well, their clients tend to become their friends.... This is completely normal in the practice of law, and lawyers without former clients as friends should worry about their own competence.

In reading this story, however, I can’t help but wonder how the same facts would be spun if the Gorsuch was progressive and his billionaire former client and friend was known for, say, giving money to stop climate change and enrich Planned Parenthood. Here’s a suggested headline: ”Friendships Formed in Court; A Humble Billionaire Bonds With His Brilliant Lawyer.” Or, how about this: “A Progressive and His Mentor: How a Case Forged a Relationship.”

Anyway, here’s the real story. In private practice, great lawyers tend to have the best clients. Gorsuch was a great lawyer. Anschutz is among the best possible clients. Their legal relationship has been fully and properly disclosed. The New York Times has given us nothing more than a human interest story disguised as an exposé.

Some on the left want to primary Joe Manchin in his reelection bid to the Senate. They would be extremely dumb to jump in that Stupid Pond. Usually, only Republicans are that foolish. Harry Enten explains,
Eight years ago, Rep. Mike Castle of Delaware was headed to the U.S. Senate. Joe Biden had left his seat open upon ascending to the vice presidency, and Castle, a Republican, appeared to be in the perfect position to take it. Delaware is a solidly blue state, but Castle had built a moderate record, was well-liked and held an early lead over his three potential Democratic opponents. His only problem: That moderate record cut both ways. By September 2010, the tea party wave was cresting and Castle got swallowed up. He lost the Republican primary to tea partier Christine O’Donnell. Two months later, O’Donnell lost the general election by 17 points, and Republicans failed to win a majority in the Senate.

The Castle-O’Donnell primary should be a cautionary tale for Democrats now. Some liberal activists want to challenge Sen. Joe Manchin in West Virginia’s 2018 Democratic primary. They complain that he’s too conservative and that he voted to confirm most of President Trump’s Cabinet officials. Manchin is probably safe — Democratic voters in West Virginia are pretty conservative.1 But the impulse to challenge Manchin from the left could be dangerous for Democrats. Manchin, even though he often votes with the GOP, is incredibly valuable to the Democratic Party compared to any plausible alternative....

All told, the chance of a non-incumbent Democrat winning a Senate seat in West Virginia in 2018 is probably somewhere between 1 percent and 2 percent....

Of course, progressives opposed to Manchin don’t really seem to care that Manchin is a stronger candidate in West Virginia than a generic Democrat. They simply want someone who will oppose Trump more often. Manchin has voted with the president 67 percent of the time in the current Senate. That’s more than any other Democrat; the median Democratic senator, in fact, has supported Trump’s position just 26 percent of the time. Over the course of his career, meanwhile, Manchin has broken with Democrats pretty regularly. Since he entered the Senate in 2010, during the 111th Congress, Manchin has voted with his party 77 percent of the time in the average Congress on votes in which at least 50 percent of Democrats voted one way and 50 percent of Republicans voted the other way. (For shorthand, I’m calling these party-line votes.) The median senator over that stretch voted with her party 94 percent of the time on such votes.
In some ways Manchin is more valuable to the Republicans as a Democrat than a Republican might be. At least his 67% votes with Trump give them the figleaf of bipartisanship.

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Jon Gabriel correctly explains why we shouldn't be paying attention to the Southern Poverty Law Center when they label someone extreme.
Angry protesters shouted down an eminent scholar and sent a female professor to the hospital.

A crazed gunman entered a D.C. public policy shop and shot an employee before being disarmed.

Someone mailed a suspicious white powder to a Scottsdale advocacy group, partially closing the office while a Hazmat team tested employees who had been exposed.

The victims in each case were targeted by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The SPLC is a non-profit heralded for its noble history defending civil rights. Founded in 1971, the Montgomery, Ala. legal advocacy organization sued the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups in the South on behalf of victims. Big settlements and harsh sanctions were levied against the racist organizations, successfully shuttering some and scaring off many others.

But by 1986, these groups had rapidly declined. The SPLC could have declared “mission accomplished.” But since funds were still coming in, they declared a new mission statement. No longer would they fight Grand Wizards and Jim Crow, but turned instead to an endlessly expanding target of “extremism.” The change in goals was so stark, the entire legal staff resigned.

The group’s website now hosts a Hatewatch vertical, a Hate Map, and offers a glossy magazine titled The Year in Hate and Extremism. The publication’s most recent cover features a yelling Donald Trump with a confederate flag in the background.

The fact that the presidential choice of 63 million Americans is equated with a lynch mob skulking around Dixie shows how far the SPLC has strayed from its roots. Half the country can now be declared hate-filled extremists if this group is allowed to define the terms.

And those targeted by the SPLC face dangerous consequences.

In 2012, Floyd Lee Corkins II entered the D.C. headquarters of the Family Research Council carrying a pistol, nearly 100 rounds of ammo and several Chick-fil-A sandwiches. The FRC (and the fast food company’s CEO) opposed same-sex marriage — just as President Barack Obama did that year.

Corkins shot one employee but told authorities his goal was to “kill as many as possible and smear the Chick-fil-A sandwiches in victims’ faces, and kill the guard.” Why did he target the FRC? “Southern Poverty Law lists anti-gay groups,” Corkins said. “I found them online, did a little research, went to the website, stuff like that."
Many in the media uncritically repeated the SPLC's term for Charles Murray as a "white nationalist" when they reported on the physical attacks on Murray and Professor Stanger at Middlebury.
In an environment of escalating political rhetoric and violent protest, groups on both sides of the aisle should think twice before labeling those who disagree with them hateful extremists. Let’s leave these terms to the truly execrable; otherwise, anyone engaged in activism could be targets in a much uglier future.

Amanda Carpenter observes something
that I've been seeing and also finding dismaying - how some in the conservative media are toadying up to Trump just as so many in the liberal media did to Obama.
For years, conservatives breathlessly accused the media of being too easy on President Barack Obama and acting like a bunch of sycophantic boot-lickers for his administration. Turns out, some only wanted the chance to try it out for themselves once a Republican was in office.

The Trump administration, with all its ethical mishaps and conflicts, presents conservatives the perfect opportunity to establish themselves as a tough, new vanguard of right-of-center journalism. Unfortunately, right-wing trolls and fanboys with press passes seem more interested in racking up brownie points with POTUS and nursing grudges against liberal media competitors.

Sadly these media personalities—easily found in places such as Breitbart and Fox News—have become exactly what they hated their mainstream media foes for being: biased cheerleaders all too willing to ignore any misdeeds by the president in the name of helping him enact his agenda. Some of those who used to be the conservative movement’s most loyal government watchdogs are nothing but lapdogs now for Trump.
This first became apparent during the election when talk radio and Sean Hannity and a few other Fox shows seemed to be subsidiaries of the Trump campaign. Breitbart and some conservative blogs led the way in attacking first Trump's GOP opponents and then Hillary Clinton. But now he's won. He's in office and doing some things that conservatives support and other things that we don't. It's delusional to pretend that any wild thing he says on Twitter or blurts out in an interview is just his playing three-dimensional chess to confound his enemies. What is valuable are those reporters and writers for conservative outlets who are willing to hit it down the middle.
r years, conservatives breathlessly accused the media of being too easy on President Barack Obama and acting like a bunch of sycophantic boot-lickers for his administration. Turns out, some only wanted the chance to try it out for themselves once a Republican was in office.

The Trump administration, with all its ethical mishaps and conflicts, presents conservatives the perfect opportunity to establish themselves as a tough, new vanguard of right-of-center journalism. Unfortunately, right-wing trolls and fanboys with press passes seem more interested in racking up brownie points with POTUS and nursing grudges against liberal media competitors.

Sadly these media personalities—easily found in places such as Breitbart and Fox News—have become exactly what they hated their mainstream media foes for being: biased cheerleaders all too willing to ignore any misdeeds by the president in the name of helping him enact his agenda. Some of those who used to be the conservative movement’s most loyal government watchdogs are nothing but lapdogs now for Trump.

Matt Latimer has a useful "historical reality check" to remind us of how some of what Trump is regularly excoriated for today were also done by other presidents. He reminds us that both Reagan and Bill Clinton used the phrase "make America great again." And opponents of quite a few presidents expressed fear of a powerful, shadowy adviser controlling the president.
This is a common phenomenon. Nearly every one of Trump’s immediate predecessors was alleged to have been manipulated by various mysterious operatives and advisers. Many on the right, for example, believed Obama to be controlled by senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, who was supposedly a sort of shadow president. The allegedly dim-witted George W. Bush was famously said to have been managed by “Darth Vader” Dick Cheney and the evil “mastermind” Karl Rove. His father was “run” by political adviser Lee Atwater. Bill Clinton was either controlled by Hillary or Dick Morris, or both, while Ronald Reagan was portrayed as the robotic masterwork of either presidential adviser Mike Deaver or his wife, Nancy. In each case, of course, the president himself would beg to differ.
Presidents have advisers. If you don't like that president, you fear and loathe those advisers that seem to have caught the president's ear.
This list could go on and on. Did you know, for example, that before they were presidents, John F. Kennedy and Gerald Ford expressed support for the “America First Committee”? Or that before deportation became a dirty word, President Barack Obama was known as the “deporter-in-chief,” deporting more people than any other president in American history? Or that Harry Truman also had a “Southern White House” in Florida, spending a cumulative six months there during his time in office? Or that Warren G. Harding was denounced for his grammar and spelling, with H. L. Mencken once noting, “He writes the worst English I have ever encountered. It reminds me of a string of wet sponges; it reminds me of tattered washing on the line; it reminds me of stale bean soup, of college yells, of dogs barking idiotically through endless nights.” Even Trump’s accusation that Obama wiretapped him has presidential precedents. As the Washington Post reported, Richard Nixon was convinced that his predecessor, Lyndon Johnson, had bugged his campaign plane in the final days of the 1968 race. Nixon, the newspaper reported, “also was convinced that if he could get hard evidence of that, he could blunt and perhaps undermine the Senate Watergate hearings before they got started in the spring of 1973.” And don’t forget that Reagan, Clinton, Bush and Obama all replaced U.S. attorneys appointed by their predecessors, though less abruptly than did Trump.

The point is there’s very little Donald Trump has done that hasn’t been done, in some form or another, by others before him. Perhaps no other president has done all these things at the same time. But still, let’s not be too quick to the panic button. The hysteria over everything Trump does have the potential to obscure what may be genuine causes for concern.

Mark Signorelli looks to Dostoevsky for understanding the liberals' shock, shock at how college students are now shutting down rational discussion and any enunciation of views they disagree with.
Dostoyevsky’s “The Demons,” one of the finest political novels ever written, tells the story of Stepan Verkhovensky: an amiable, if faintly ridiculous, scholar idling in the provinces of Russia. As a young man, Stepan flirted with the liberal ideas of his day, publishing an article in a “progressive journal” and aiding in a translation of the socialist Charles Fourier. He even grew convinced for a time that the government was watching him closely (and grows very annoyed to find out that they do not care the least bit about him). Evidently allured by the chicness of radical ideas, Stepan is nonetheless too frivolous and gentle a man to try to implement those ideas in the real world.

His son, Peter, is a different case altogether. Immediately upon returning to his hometown, he begins organizing some wannabe revolutionaries into a cell to carry out their seditious designs. The deeply sinister character of Peter is fully revealed when he plots the murder of Shatov, a former member of the group, who Peter fears may betray their identities. The significance of Dostoyevsky’s political parable is clear: however kind-hearted in its first intentions, leftist politics breeds dangerous sons.

I thought of this novel over the weekend when I read Frank Bruni’s op-ed piece decrying the recent violent protest at Middlebury College. It is an article that sounds many of the same notes that conservatives have been sounding since this incident. He laments the “emotional coddling” and “intellectual impoverishment” on display at Middlebury. He warns that the fracas was “the fruit of a dangerous ideological conformity in too much of higher education.” He condemns the “policing of imperfect language, silencing of dissent and shaming of dissenters” all too prevalent on the university campus now.

Falling under the spell of this article, one could almost forget that the writers for the op-ed pages of the New York Times—where Mr. Bruni plies his trade—routinely employ the very same political rhetoric used by Middlebury’s protestors. “Racist, sexist, anti-gay”: that was the chant Middlebury’s budding Peter Verkhovensky’s hurled at Charles Murray.

But it could just as well serve as the minutes for most meetings of the Times editorial board. Those are the charges that the Times’ writers level at their political opponents all the time.

David Harsanyi analyzes Chuck Schumer's most recent attack on Neil Gorsuch. The Democrats spotlighted some people against whom Judge Gorsuch had ruled.
Playing on this theme, however, Schumer trotted out a bunch of sad cases that supposedly illustrated the heartlessness at the core of Gorsuch’s ideology. “Judge Gorsuch’s decisions had negative real-life implications for working Americans,” tweeted Schumer. “When the chips are down, Judge #Gorsuch rules for the powerful few over everyday Americans trying to get a fair shake,” Schumer says.

By “chips,” of course, Schumer means “law.” Here’s just one example: “Judge #Gorsuch ruled against Alphonse Maddin, from Michigan,” Schumer says, “a truck driver who was fired because he left his vehicle when freezing.”

Well, guess what? The case was a bit more complicated than Gorsuch relishing an opportunity to punish working-class Americans. TransAm Trucking, Maddin’s employer, fired the driver for insubordination because instead of waiting for help after his truck broke he unhooked the trailer and drove to a gas station. Maddin seemed to act reasonably, and an administrative law judge ruled that his firing had been illegal because federal law protects employees who “refuse to operate” vehicles in “unsafe” conditions. Gorsuch reasoned that Maddin had been asked by TransAm not to operate his truck, and did anyway.

So: “It might be fair to ask whether TransAm’s decision was a wise or kind one,” Gorsuch wrote in his dissent. “But it’s not our job to answer questions like that … It is our job and work enough for the day to apply the law Congress did pass, not to imagine and enforce one it might have but didn’t.” It’s not our job to answer questions like that … is what’s most offensive to left-wing sensibilities, which often champion judicial lawmaking.

Let’s remember, normalizing the idea that the Constitution should be subservient to progressive conceptions of “justice” goes back to Barack Obama, who in 2008 promised to nominate justices who shared “one’s deepest values, one’s core concerns, one’s broader perspectives on how the world works, and the depth and breadth of one’s empathy.” The Left hailed this gibberish as proof of a thoughtful temperament, when in reality it’s a feel-good argument to subvert the constitutional duties of the president and the court to feelings.

At the time, Tommy Vietor, a spokesperson for the Democratic Party candidate, confirmed that “Barack Obama has always believed that our courts should stand up for social and economic justice.” Someone should ask Schumer if it is ever acceptable for a judge to rule against a poor person and in favor of a large corporation? Or does social and economic “justice” take precedent over law?

It’s debatable that Gorsuch’s decisions hurt working people in the long run, anyway. But the idea that Gorsuch is unsuited for the position because he won’t reflexively rule in favor of those in lower socioeconomic positions — and this is the entirety of the argument — is an attack on the Constitution. Justices solemnly swear to “administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich.” There is no addendum that says “unless they’re really poor.”
But ruling according to what the law actually says seems to be of less and less interest to some Democrats.

Philip Bump of the Washington Post explains why the conspiratorial musings of some on both sides of the spectrum that Trump was the one who leaked his 2005 tax return is not the only explanation out there. People had assumed that, because the leaked returns bore the stamp "Client Copy," that it was most probably Trump who had possession of that copy. And that seems like a logical conclusion until Bump explains who else would have that copy.
Steven Goldburd, a tax lawyer in New York, explained over the phone what that stamp might mean. Certainly, as Johnston said on ABC, it could mean that it came from someone “who either worked at the accounting firm or had connections to it” — but that’s hardly the only possible source.

“Anything that is coming from an accountant would be stamped with ‘client copy,'” Goldburd said. “The question is more: So who else has copies of his returns other than just his accountant and Mr. Trump?”

One possibility? “Anytime Donald went for a mortgage — especially if it was a personal mortgage of any sort,” he said, “any type of loan would have required him to disclose his tax returns to the banks. So any bank that he has dealt with in the past would theoretically have a copy of this return.”

We do have some data on Trump’s finances because of the personal financial disclosures he has filed in accordance with federal law. In his 2016 filing, there’s an example of the sort of loan to which Goldburd was referring. At some point in 2006, Trump took out a mortgage loan from UBS Real Estate Investments in the range of $5 million to $25 million.
And there are other loan applications that Trump could have filed for and submitted this form. And if he'd been involved in litigation, his forms might also be out there.
That the return is from 2005, before the mortgage crisis and the recession, may be why only two pages were available. “Today they ask for all schedules,” Goldburd said, meaning that the bank probably would ask for a more complete return. Before the crash, “the rules were a little bit more relaxed.”

The other possibility for the source of the returns mentioned by Johnston and others is litigation. If Trump had been asked to disclose his returns as part of a lawsuit, he may have turned over similarly marked documents. Michael Bond of Gabor Tax Law Associates in New York explained that such documents may or may not have been Bates-stamped, the coding that’s applied to documents in legal proceedings. Sometimes, he said, lawyers send copies directly to opposing counsel without passing through the court first. In most cases those documents would then get tagged with Bates numbers, but not always.
Perhaps Trump did leak it and then feign all his outrage. I'm not sure where Occam's razor cuts on this one.

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THis is what Twitter is best at - bringing humor to ridicule the ridiculous. Check out the hilarious hashtag #LavarBallSays to ridicule the braggadocio of Lonzo Ball's father. Gosh, I cracked at some of these.
What would happen if LaVar Ball went up against Chuck Norris.


Check out the trailer for a documentary on D-Day. narrated by Bill Belichick. It seems a bit more about him and his father than D-Day. I don't think he'll make the list of best documentary narrators.

Advocates of the Oxford comma will rejoice at the decision in this class-action case.
A class-action lawsuit about overtime pay for truck drivers hinged entirely on a debate that has bitterly divided friends, families and foes: The dreaded — or totally necessary — Oxford comma, perhaps the most polarizing of punctuation marks.

What ensued in The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and in a 29-page court decision handed down on Monday, was an exercise in high-stakes grammar pedantry that could cost a dairy company in Portland, Me., an estimated $10 million.
I've never understood the animus against the Oxford comma and am glad to have this demonstration of the ambiguity its absence can produce.






15 comments:

trigger warning said...

Neither LaVar Ball nor Chuck Norris can lay a glove on Yogi Berra.

Having said that, the winner is...

Hillary Clinton!
"[W]e have undocumented immigrants in America who pay more federal income tax than [Trump]...”
"So when I was born, she called me Hillary, and she always told me it’s because of Sir Edmund Hillary.”
Etc.

mardony said...

Betsy says today: "I've been showing students graphs for years to demonstrate how there is going to be less and less money in the budget for discretionary spending if we don't do something about mandatory spending."

Betsy, I hope you also put your students wise to our military spending, which rightwingers always disguise in terms of "percent of the economy" (see your WSJ reference today), or other misleading trickery, rather than percent of discretionary funding. But, why be explicit when there's always Big Bird to scapegoat?

"The U.S. outpaces all other nations in military expenditures. World military spending totaled more than $1.6 trillion in 2015. The U.S. accounted for 37 percent of the total.

U.S. military expenditures are roughly the size of the next seven largest military budgets around the world, combined."

"Military Spending in the United States. In fiscal year 2015, military spending is projected to account for 54 percent of all federal discretionary spending, a total of $598.5 billion."

https://www.nationalpriorities.org/campaigns/us-military-spending-vs-world/

mardony said...

First, Betsy gives us this today:
"Unfortunately, right-wing trolls and fanboys with press passes seem more interested in racking up brownie points with POTUS and nursing grudges against liberal media competitors."

Then we get this:
"Falling under the spell of this article, one could almost forget that the writers for the op-ed pages of the New York Times—where Mr. Bruni plies his trade—routinely employ the very same political rhetoric used by Middlebury’s protestors. “ ...."Those are the charges that the Times’ writers level at their political opponents all the time." (The Federalist)

Perfect! Betsy urges rightwing trolls and fanboys to stop, then quotes them anyway because she can't stop "nursing (her own) grudges"? The more cynical I become, the less I can keep up.

trigger warning said...

Scapegoating Big Bird.

Now there's a concept for the ages.
:-D

Big Bird is an actor in a chicken costume, dude. Sorry to burst your bubble.

Next up: Persecuting Barney the Purple Dinosaur.

trigger warning said...

Scrooge McDuck charged with securities fraud.

trigger warning said...

Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale arrested for espionage.

trigger warning said...

Republicans mock Goofy, assault disabled. Disneyland defends diversity hire.

trigger warning said...

ATF and Interior agents apprehend Wile E. Coyote on explosives possession and violation of Endangered Species Act.

trigger warning said...

ICE detains beloved Latino entertainer, Speedy Gonzales, on Texas border.

mardony said...

The Trump budget wants to cut the National Endowment for the Arts because it refuses to support painting by the numbers:

trigger warning said...

Mr Quincy Magoo, retiree, worried Medicare cuts will affect opthalmological coverage.

tfhr said...

Mardony,

Should the US base its defense spending for the training, equipping and care of its troops and their families on the basis of what other countries spend?

I'd rather make that decision on what we intend to achieve versus the capability and intent of threat actors.

Here's an example of how it works. When "diplomacy" fails, the nation still must be defended against lethal threats. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that you'd rather not see San Francisco destroyed by a nuclear weapon launched on a North Korean ICBM. Fair? I think you'd agree that the cost of attacking North Korea would be horrendous. The day has passed when the horrible cost of a preemptive war with North Korea could at least eliminate the need for a capable and active defensive effort on our part to protect against the threat posed by missiles. Defending against ICBMs cost billions while launching them only cost millions. Do you want a US President to have one option – a preemptive nuclear strike? Or would you rather provide multiple options, some of which serve as a deterrent rather than a last resort?

I would also add that many of our allies spend considerably less than we do because WE provide them with security they either cannot provide for themselves or choose not to because we are there for them. Many have been “outraged” by Trump’s comments about NATO but there is some truth to what he says. We do have to spend more than we ought to just to keep NATO from being little more than a paper tiger. Perhaps if some of our NATO allies pulled their weight we could redirect or reduce what we are currently spending but something tells me the reality of these arguments don’t interest a person like you.
Spending on defense is about winning wars and saving American lives. Spending on butter is about winning elections and American votes. If you’d like to learn more about what it means to lack credible deterrence, read up on Task Force Smith. There are many steps to get from Task Force Smith to Kim Jong Un’s money spent on ICBMs and nuclear weapons, but don’t you agree that we would be better off in that theater today if we had been more prepared in 1950?

mardony said...

The Trump budget wants $30 billion more in military spending for the current fiscal year, and $54 billion more next year. This swamps Russia’s total annual military budget of $66 billion. (We currently spend nine times as much as Russia.) Betsy's predictable WSJ reference omits this perspective. However, Betsy says, "But cutting money for public TV and radio, while salutary, is a spit in the ocean for the sorts of budget cuts needed." A spit in the ocean, but still necessary because it's so left-wingee, and a dreaded wingnut bugaboo.

Marionette Trump snookered the U.S. to elect him, but Russia played us all, pulling our strings knowing Trump was the president to critically weaken our world cred. Today, you could see Chencellor Merkel sizing Trump up as a total doofus, while Trump was struggling to read his simpleton remarks.

Trump's budget slashes the State Dept. budget,by 31%.
As Defense Secretary James Mattis warned back when he still wore a general’s uniform, “If you don’t fund the State Department fully, then I need to buy more ammunition.”
But the psychologically frail idiot in the oval office needs to feel more machismo about himself.
We're so screwed.

tfhr said...

"We're so screwed", said Mardony of his political party.

Then there's this gem:"...critically weaken our world cred."

You mean the red line crossing, lead from behind, Iran funding "cred"? Or are you talking about the Crimea invasion and annexation, Ukraine war, Malaysian Airlines shoot-down "cred"? Maybe you meant the Snowden and Manning leaks, Hillary server - DNC email scandal and Benghazi scandal "cred". So much "cred" to choose from.

We'll see what Trump does but there's not much question that Hillary's "cred" was based on her willingness to sell access and that "Reset" button embarrassment did about as much good for her reputation with the Russians as she would do for our military.

tfhr said...

Mardony,

Out of talking points? You need to work for a troll farm that supplies "ideas" on the weekend because your characteristic weekend silence suggests your current interests are limited to Monday - Friday. Interesting.