Friday, January 26, 2018

Cruising the Web

Gosh, do Republicans have any better argument to convince voters to keep the House in GOP hands than Nancy Pelosi? She has such a tin ear for messaging. She keeps trying to tell Americans that getting $1000 in a bonus is just "crumbs." And former Democratic Party head Debbie Wasserman Schultz is also contemptuous of the idea that $1000 would mean that much to anyone.
Their comments were captured by the conservative group America Rising Squared at the #TrumpTax Town Hall at Florida Atlantic University sponsored by Not One Penny.

Pelosi said, “There’s a cartoon that I just love.... There’s a little mouse trap who’s got a little piece of cheese on there and there’s a mouse about to take it and that’s called the middle class. And around it are fat cats, they look a lot like elephants but anyway, around there. And that’s the thing. Get this little thing and we get this big bonanza. You get the crumb, we get the banquet.”

Wasserman Schultz added, “Frankly, if you look at the bonuses, which I haven’t heard of a corporate bonus more than $1,000 so far. Which by the way is taxed, so it’s not $1,000. And then you spread $1,000 over the course of the year – to think of about how much that is – of course they get it all at once. But I’m not sure that $1,000 (which is taxed, taxable) goes very for almost anyone.”
Check out Obama's White House trumpeted the tax cut extension that gave people $40 a month for the average family earning $50,000 a year. The White House solicited people to send in their own messages about what $40 a month would mean to them. So giving families $480 a month (Sorry - I meant $480 a year) was a major victory, but $1000 a year is just "crumbs." Do these people ever listen to themselves? And is the RNC deft enough to makes ads taking advantage of Pelosi's insensitivity to how ordinary people live.

I know that I just saw the increase in my paycheck for January and was quite happy to get those "crumbs."

Meanwhile, Armageddon continues to destroy all that is good in the country.
Home Depot (HD) announced on Thursday that it will pay its U.S. hourly workers a one-time bonus of up to $1,000 tied to President Trump’s tax reform.

Jeryl Bier reminds us of when the Obama administration thought getting $40 per paycheck was a big deal.

And then there is survey result.
A majority of small business owners, 63.8 percent, believe that President Trump's policies have helped their business, according to a survey from the Job Creators Network.

"This incremental investment in our associates was made possible by the new tax reform bill," Craig Menear, chairman and CEO of the company, said in a statement.

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I think this might be one of the first breaks we'll be seeing in the media praetorian guard that has protected Barack Obama came on the public stage.
A journalist announced last week that he will publish a photograph of then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama (D) and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan that he took in 2005 at a Congressional Black Caucus meeting, but did not make public because he believed it would have “made a difference” to Obama’s political future.

The photographer, Askia Muhammad, told the Trice Edney News Wire that he “gave the picture up at the time and basically swore secrecy.”

“But after the nomination was secured and all the way up until the inauguration; then for eight years after he was President, it was kept under cover,” Muhammad said.

Asked whether he thought the photo’s release would have affected Obama’s presidential campaign, Muhammad said, “I insist. It absolutely would have made a difference.”
I don't know that one photo with such a hateful anti-Semite would have killed Obama's political trajectory. He didn't suffer much harm from being friends with a self-acknowledged terrorist, Bill Ayers. Jim Geraghty comments.
This is not the greatest scandal in journalistic history, but it is a pretty revealing anecdote. Obama met with Farrakhan. In the photo the two men are smiling; there’s no indication that Obama has or is about to confront Farrakhan about his long history of outrageous statements, anti-Semitism, claim that whites are a “race of devils,” declaration that “Hitler was a very great man,” labeling Judaism a “gutter religion,” and so on.

Louis Farrakhan is a widely detested figure, and he has earned this scorn. Barack Obama is too smart a guy to be oblivious about Farrakhan and what he believes and preaches. Obama didn’t have to go over and pose for a picture. He chose to do so. Obama almost certainly disagrees with Farrakhan’s outrageous and incendiary statements, but that disagreement wasn’t enough to get him to not pose and smile. Not is it plausible to believe that Obama didn’t know who Farrakhan was.

But the photographer knew this photo could be political liability for Obama. So he hid it. The motivation “I need to help Obama stay electable” overrode the motivation, “I have a duty to show the public photographs of things that happened.”
Geraghty reminds us how Obama denied he had anything to do with Farrakhan even when Farrakhan endorsed him against Hillary Clinton.
And of course, more broadly, liberals attacked any conservatives who contended that Obama and Farrakhan had a relationship. The Huffington Post, back in 2008: “A parade of clips of Louis Farrakhan spouting anti-white and anti-Semitic comments is justified by guilt by association with association, because Obama has no connection with Farrakhan but Obama’s former church had a newsletter that praised Farrakhan.”
Guy Benson thinks that the release of the photo might have made a difference.
Obama's 2008 presidential campaign was dogged by criticism of his radical associations -- ranging from a crackpot anti-American preacher whose church Obama attended for decades, to an unrepentant domestic terrorist at whose home Obama launched his political career, to a convicted felon and slum lord with whom Obama engaged in shady business dealings, to a longtime spokesman for the PLO terrorist Yassir Arafat (a video tape of Obama and Rashid Khalidi together at a party was suppressed by the Los Angeles Times, and has never been released). A picture of Obama smiling widely alongside avowed racist and anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan would have been yet another major headache for his campaign, and very well could have hampered Obama's trajectory toward his once-improbable primary upset over Hillary Clinton. It may have caused agita among more general election voters who were contemplating whether to entrust their vote to an unknown political newcomer.
The story from the photographer is that Obama made a self-deprecating joke when the photographer said that he thought that Obama and Farrakhan looked alike and Obama replied "Well, he's much better looking than I am." Isn't that cute? And when Obama was asked about Farrakhan's endorsement, his reply reminds Guy Benson of another politician who didn't want to criticize a controversial figure who had endorsed him.
The TPM story concludes with a recollection of Obama publicly objecting to Farrakhan's racial bigotry and anti-Semitism when pressed, but declining to fully reject the infamous hate-monger's positive comments about...Barack Obama: "I did not solicit his support," Obama said, referring to Farrakhan’s praise for his candidacy. '[But] I can’t say to somebody that he can’t say that he thinks I’m a good guy."

This reminded me of Donald Trump's game of footsie with another grotesque bigot, David Duke. It took Trump far too long to unequivocally disavow Duke and the KKK (he eventually did), leading to intense media criticism, including from yours truly. Many of Trump's defenders and critics alike recognized this kerfuffle as an outgrowth of the then-candidate's pathological need for affirmation, and his aversion to harshly criticizing anyone who feeds his ego. It seems that on some level, the current president and his immediate predecessor share that same impulse....

Can you imagine the reaction if it emerged that Trump had met privately with Duke and praised him as a handsome man as they posed for photos, all smiles? And that the House Freedom Caucus pressured a photographer to never allow his documentation to become public? I think you can. And just so we're clear, Duke and Farrakhan are two sides of the same vile coin:
For over 30 years, Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam (NOI), has marked himself as a notable figure on the extremist scene, verbally attacking Jews, white people and the LGBT community. In recent years, Farrakhan has embarked on a wide-ranging campaign specifically targeting the Jewish community, which has featured some of the most hateful speeches of Farrakhan’s career as head of the NOI...Farrakhan used his platform to discuss the supposed role of Israel and Jews in orchestrating the 9/11 attacks, claiming that “Israelis had foreknowledge of the attacks” and that Jews were warned ahead of time not to come to work that day. He then went on to speak more broadly of Israeli control of the American government, stating that Israel and Jews “don’t fear America because they control it from within.”...Farrakhan received a standing ovation after telling his audience that “the Satanic Jews that control everything and mostly everybody, if they are your enemy, then you must be somebody.”
He's also hurled venom at white people -- calling them the "race of devils," the "anti-Christ, and "worthy to be hated" -- as well as the LGBT community. He is the moral equivalent of Duke, to whom Trump was linked because of Duke's praise of his candidacy, and Trump's opaque and dishonest responses to resulting challenges from reporters. By contrast, Obama said he opposed Farrakhan's spasms of hateful ideology, but hey, who was he to tell the guy to stop saying nice things about him? That, evidently, was an acceptable answer, and the issue disappeared. Beyond that, when the two men met in private, posing for a chummy photograph amid reported mutually-glowing banter, evidence of the occasion was confiscated and kept in the shadows for a dozen years. Extraordinary.

It's simply a fact that Barack Obama spent much of his early adulthood and fledgling political career marinating in a fever swap of far-left radicalism. Some evidence to that effect was intentionally censored by sympathetic journalists and media organizations, while other public revelations were drowned out by righteous shouting about the injustice of "guilt by association" attacks. If you thought Trump's episode vis-a-vis the Duke endorsement was problematic, as I did, surely Obama's deeper connection to Louis Farrakhan should be considered both appalling and revealing, no? If the former was disqualifying, so was the latter. Or am I missing something? Obama met, took a photo with, and praised Farrakhan as a sitting Senator, just a few years prior to launching a presidential bid. Multiple people were aware of this encounter (how was it okay for the Congressional Black Caucus to have feted such a figure in the first place, incidentally?), and took active steps to cover it up. Voters never learned of it, by design. Amazing. And now they tell us.

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This is how Democrats think
- if they decide something is bad, it's necessary to pass a law to stop it. There is nothing in human behavior not worth regulating, apparently.
Calderon, the Democratic majority leader in California's lower house, has introduced a bill to stop sit-down restaurants from offering customers straws with their beverages unless they specifically request one. Under Calderon's law, a waiter who serves a drink with an unrequested straw in it would face up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

"We need to create awareness around the issue of one-time use plastic straws and its detrimental effects on our landfills, waterways, and oceans," Calderon explained in a press release.

This isn't just Calderon's crusade. The California cities of San Luis Obispo and Davis both passed straws-on-request laws last year, and Manhattan Beach maintains a prohibition on all disposable plastics. And up in Seattle, food service businesses won't be allowed to offer plastic straws or utensils as of July.

The Los Angeles Times has gotten behind the movement, endorsing straws-on-request policies in an editorial that also warned that "repetitive sucking may cause or exacerbate wrinkles on the lips or around the mouth." Celebrity astronomer Neil DeGrasse Tyson (always up for a little chiding) and Entourage star Adrian Grenier have appeared in videos where an octopus slaps them in the face for using a plastic straw.
Yes, because Democrats are the party of the little man and nothing says supporting the little man than threatening to fine and jail waiters.

What is really funny is how the media report how many straws are used in America on a daily basis.
The actual number of straws being used is unclear. Calderon, along with news outlets writing about this issue—from CNN to the San Francisco Chronicle—unfailingly state that Americans use 500 million plastic straws a day, many of them ending up in waterways and oceans. The 500 million figure is often attributed to the National Park Service; it in turn got it from the recycling company Eco-Cycle.

Eco-Cycle is unable to provide any data to back up this number, telling Reason that it was relying on the research of one Milo Cress. Cress—whose Be Straw Free Campaign is hosted on Eco-Cycle's website—tells Reason that he arrived at the 500 million straws a day figure from phone surveys he conducted of straw manufacturers in 2011, when he was just 9 years old.
Yes, that is not a typo - the statistic stems from some "research" done by a nine-year old kid.

Nikki Haley continues
to speak uncomfortable truths to the United Nations.
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley launched a broadside Thursday at Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, accusing him of indulging in “outrageous” conspiracy theories about Israel and lacking what is needed to secure peace in the region.

Haley made the remarks at a meeting of the U.N. Security Council on the Middle East. She pointedly contrasted Abbas with leaders like the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, whom she cited as a leader “willing to step forward, acknowledge hard truths, and make compromises.”

“Where is the Palestinian Anwar Sadat?” she asked.

She cited a speech earlier this month in which Abbas tore into Israel and the U.S., rejecting any American role in talks....

“He rejected any American role in peace talks. He insulted the American president. He called for suspending recognition of Israel,” Haley said. “He invoked an ugly and fictional past, reaching back to the 17th century to paint Israel as a colonialist project engineered by European powers.”

“A speech that indulges in outrageous and discredited conspiracy theories is not the speech of a person with the courage and will to seek real peace,” she added.

She said that while the U.S. was “eager” to pursue peace, “we will not chase after a Palestinian leadership that lacks what’s needed to achieve peace.”
It's such a pleasant difference from our previous Secretary of State who reportedly sent a message to Abbas to "hold on and be strong" during Trump's administration and "play for time...[and] not yield to President Trump's demands."

The Washington Post has a very nice story about the state of conservative magazines in the age of Trump. They profile all the major conservative publications and what stance they've taken on the Trump administration. Some are pretty critical; some are pretty supportive, and some are liable to praise what the administration does that is in accord with conservative principles and criticize what isn't and the President's temperament and more outrageous utterances and tweets. It concludes,
As much as their contributors may differ in opinion or even dislike one another, what unites these magazines — and distinguishes them from right-wing outlets like Breitbart — is an almost quaint belief in debate as an instrument of enlightenment rather than as a mere tool of political warfare. “There’s an argument on part of the right that the left is utterly remorseless and we need to be like that,” says Lowry. “That’s the way you lose your soul and you have no standards.”

As the Weekly Standard’s Labash sees it, disinterest — at a time when media outlets on the right “constantly applaud Trump like trained chimps, congratulating themselves that they’re part of some new revolutionary vanguard” — is the new subversion. “You want to be a revolutionary on the right?” asks Labash. “Tell the truth. Call honest balls and strikes. That’s become pretty revolutionary behavior in these hopelessly tribal times.”

With so many Americans today engaged in partisan war, any publication with a commitment to honesty in argument becomes a potential peacemaker. It also becomes an indispensable forum for working out which ideas merit a fight in the first place. This is what, in their best moments, the conservative magazines are now doing. None will realistically exercise much immediate influence on this White House. But perhaps what matters more is whether they’ll manage to influence the political discussion writ large. Ultimately, that won’t be up to Donald Trump but to those, of any political stripe, who have preserved enough modesty and curiosity to allow their views to be unsettled. Serious conservative magazines will matter a lot, if we want them to.
I appreciated such a fair characterization of conservative magazines and the recognition that there are these nuances among them. Not every conservative is a full-on Breitbartian courtier for Trump and not everyone is completely in the NeverTrump camp.

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Timothy Carney examines how General Electri is "the poster child of Obamanomics."
No company has spent as much on U.S. lobbying since 2000 as General Electric. And no component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average has performed worse since 2000 than General Electric.

The company’s stock is tanking. Its profit margins range from sclerotic to negative. Its recent big bets on Europe and green energy are proving to be duds. GE has already sold off its appliance business and is trying to find a buyer for its light bulb business.

That’s not enough, according to some major investors, one of whom has called for a full breakup of GE.

It’s a sad state for a company that has represented industrial strength for more than a century. It’s also a telling epigraph for Obamanomics.

GE CEO Jeff Immelt kicked off the start of former President Barack Obama's administration with a letter prophesying a golden era of American industrial planning, ushered in by the bailouts and a new president who promised a “remaking” of America....

The letter bragged, “We have gained access to government funding programs that put us on equal footing with banks,” and described GE as “ a natural partner” with federal agencies, “as the role of government increases in the current crisis.” GE is “a particularly desirable partner for governments,” Immelt assured shareholders.

Whenever the Obama administration introduced a major policy initiative, GE was there hopping on board, looking to be the government’s partner.

When Obama created a “Jobs Council,” his jobs czar was Immelt.

When Obama in Spring 2009 announced big money for “Building a new system of high-speed rail in America,” GE hopped on board the train. “We are ready to partner with the federal government and Amtrak to make high-speed rail a reality,” GE declared at an event in May 2009. GE’s top rail lobbyist was Linda Daschle, wife of Obama mentor and former Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota.
The list goes on and on. They kept saying nice things about Obama and his policies and they kept seeing benefits from those policies they were praising.
Heck, in 2013, GE actually became officially “Too Big to Fail,” designated by the Financial Stability Oversight Council as TBTF. “Material financial distress at GECC could pose a threat to U.S. financial stability,” FSOC determined.

And yet, here we are. GE opened at $29.37 a share on Election Day, when the Dow was at 18,332.43. On Tuesday Jan. 23, GE closed at $16.30 (down about 45 percent), whereas the Dow closed at 26,210.81, up about 42 percent. The new CEO, John Flannery, has said he’s open to a breakup.

There are countless explanations for GE’s collapse, but here’s one: GE spent a decade chasing the shiniest new winner picked by government, instead of looking for lasting value as dictated by the market. Government can provide billions in stimulus and maybe even some regulatory protection from your competition, but it can’t create wealth or provide lasting value.

For all the hopeful talk of a post-bailout reset of capitalism in favor of the politically connected, it turns out that basic economics trumped Obamanomics after all.

This is an odd quirk
in how the tax laws work: Jimmy Garoppolo will take home more money from the Super Bowl from his share from having been on the Patriots' bench for several weeks than Tom Brady will get from actually playing in the game.
Garoppolo, however, should take home more pay than Brady a after income taxes. Garoppolo, unlike Brady, will not be travelling to Minnesota and will not be subject to Minnesota’s state income tax of 9.85%. Among states that have an NFL team, Minnesota has the second-highest income tax in the country after California (13.3%). Garoppolo, obviously, is no longer traveling with the Patriots; if he attends the Super Bowl it will only be as a fan and not for work.