Thursday, 30 March 2017

With Washington’s Blessing, Telecom Giants Can Mine Your Web History
SJ Res 34 is simple rent seeking: the extraction of uncompensated value from others without making any contribution to productivity; a way for those who voted to pass it to enrich their friends off of your back without compensating you or allowing you to opt out.
     But look on the bright side: ISPs can now sell Trump Organization internet data to his competitors and White House, Trump Tower and Mar el Lago data to the mainstream media.

Theresa May Attacked For Suggesting UK Will Use Terrorism Fight As A Bargaining Chip.
Mrs May and her crew had better develop thick skins, as whatever they do about Brexit will be wrong. Every action will displease almost all of the Remainers, about 1/2 of the Leavers and half of the "Couldn't-Be-Bothered-To-Voters. That is, a majority of Brittons will disapprove of, and be displeased by, anything that happens over the next two years.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Trump brags about Ford investment he had nothing to do with
Today, President Trump jumped at the opportunity to take a victory lap on Twitter over news that a deal brokered under President Obama, long before he took office, will come to fruition soon.
       The Ford Motor Company announced early Tuesday that it will invest $9 billion in facilities across the U.S., including three facilities in job-starved Michigan that will manufacture the new Ford Ranger and Bronco models.
     Good news for everyone, to be sure, and Trump wasted no time taking to Twitter with this bit of chest pounding and implying that he’s the one responsible:
      While Trump was quick to take credit for the investment, the plan is “consistent with what we announced previously,” Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s President of the Americas, told NBC News, noting that all three projects were in the works well before Trump took office — the largest, involving an assembly plant, was approved as part of a deal with the United Auto Workers Union in 2015.”
     95 percent of the $9 billion in U.S. investment is part of the 2015 agreement struck between the automaker and the UAW. Only $350 million represents additional investment...
    Edited from PETER MELLADO on 28 March 2017

Charter Schools and Public Schools yield about the same results, on average
Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes  found that students at charter schools got, on average,  about the same results as students in public schools - even though they can be more selective; picking less-disabled, less disruptive and brighter students. The averages were:
                      Charter  Reading   Charter Math  
Better                  25%                           29%
Same                    56%                          40%
Worse                  19%                           31%
Individual systems defied these averages, with charter schools in some districts providing a distinct advantage to their students and and  a distinct disadvantage in others.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Trump Taps Jared Kushner To Lead Team That Will Run Government ‘Like A Company’
Oh good!
A company is run to provide services to its customers (the taxpayers)
A key company goal is to grow its customer base, so more people will pay taxes.
A another key company goal is to increase its revenues, so taxes will go up
A secondary goal is to make a profit, so we will have budget surpluses
   [Okay some will get paid out in  shareholders' (donors') dividends]

Tactics along the way:
  • Big discounts to volume customers (those who pay more taxes get special treatment, more services and a hefty discount).
  • Pay your workers as little as you can, your board level folks as much as you can - so expect federal wages to go down while cabinet members salaries grow rapidly, including bonuses to cabinet members who can bring in more taxes while cutting costs.
  • Cut unprofitable lines of business: stop providing services that run at a loss,such as the military.
  • Except for some small, high PR profile work, a company does not provide any services to people who are not its customers.  You don't pay taxes you get no government services.
We need some benchmarks for Kushner running the government like a company. 
    Under Obama, federal government revenue rose on average, by about 4% per year
    That’s an okay company showing, but not very exciting. 
A traditional company (like GM or GE) would reasonably happy with revenue growth of 10-15%. 
A really good company (say, Amazon) would expect to produce revenue growth around 25% per year
       So we should see the federal government’s tax take by rise by between $325 billion and $800 billion, 
      if Kushner is any good.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Trump vs. Congress:Now What?

"G.O.P., Once United in Opposition, Struggles for Unity"

The only  thing these folks had in common was that they didn't like Obama.  
Now they are finding that they didn't like him for seriously different reasons.
As he is gone, they realize that they don't really like each other.  

Worse, they have made a policy of not compromising with anyone  - so they will not compromise for fear of losing their paycheck.  Republican anti-Obama gridlock has become Republican anti-other-Republican gridlock.

Meanwhile the Democrats sit back thinking they will reap the benefits without proposing policies that the American people want and like.  They will be disappointed and America will keep searching for someone, anyone, who will actually listen.  Someone who will put America before their paychecks and their orthodoxy.

White House Opens Door to Democrats in Wake of Health-Bill Failure
He is searching for anyone who will support his ego.  Remember, he was a Democrat originally.

Freedom Caucus' Jordan: End ObamaCare blaming, ‘Let’s get to work’
You now know that unless you give us 100% of what we want, we ain't giving you squat.
So let's get to work on giving us ALL the stuff our donors want

Thousands Protest Corruption in Russia in Challenge to President Vladimir Putin
They had better be careful:  Putin opponents tend to die suddenly.
Indeed, President Trump better be careful: Putin agents who do not deliver also tend to die.

Completely Unacceptable’ We Can’t See Terrorists’ WhatsApp Messages, Says Amber Rudd
Oh, and by the way, we want to see yours as well, just in case you might be working for someone we don't like - or someone we might not like in the future.

And every journalist who pointed out at the time that these were bald-faced lies deserves commendation. Every journalist who did not, should go get another job because they are useless tools who serve only to mis-lead their public,

Jeremy Corbyn Says Counter-Terrorism Strategy Should Not Just Focus On Muslims
True! It should also focus on Catholics, who have killed far more of us that Muslims ever have.

The Logic of Healthcare
We could ask ourselves: would we rather live in a society where everyone is healthy, or one where some are healthy and some are not?
     If there was a proven way to provide more people with better healthcare at a lower cost than at present, what might be the reasons for not taking advantage of that opportunity.
      1) There is a moral hazard in allowing some people to get more healthcare than they pay for
      2) The profits available to private enterprise would be lower
      3) The bureaucracy needed to run a nationwide system would be large
      4) Some observers might label the system “socialism”
Now, which of the above reasons are good and sufficient to deliberately maintain a system that we know gives us worse results at a higher cost?  Know with a myriad of empirical evidence.

That is, which of these are valid reasons for our society to stay less healthy than we can make it and for us all to pay more to be less healthy.

Friday, 24 March 2017

In Major Defeat for Trump, Push to Repeal Health Law Fails     NOT!
He flies to Florida to play golf every weekend, at taxpayer expense, while we also pay for his wife to live in a separate luxury apartment and we pay for his kids to vacation in Aspen.  Meanwhile his elected position keeps money pouring into the company he owns.  You call that a defeat?  
     Oh, because he didn't get an extra  ten million tax break from repealing Obamacare?   
Peanuts compared to what this presidency will earn him even if he never gets a single bill passed.

Mike Flynn and Turkish Officials Discussed Removal of Erdogan Foe Gulen From U.S.
Not only a traitor to his country, Flynn was also a traitor to American standards of fair play.
He and Chamberlain would have gotten on well.

Ken Livingstone Warns He Will Sue Labour If He Is Expelled For Anti-Semitism
How dare he say that Hitler supported Zionism?
Just because it is true, did he think that made it okay to say so?
Did he not read Orwell; does he know nothing of Newspeak?

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Eyeing Trump’s Budget Plan, Republican Governors Say ‘No, Thanks’
Yes the cuts are arbitrary and yes they are harmful to American citizens, but elections have consequences. America did not vote for a Republican, they voted for a nationalist ideologue. One who is more concerned with his own returns and those of his fellow elite 1% than with the average American. All of his policies to date have favoured the transfer of wealth from labour to capital and that is unlikely to change for the next 3 and a bit years. As the man said: every democracy gets the government it deserves

Trump team communications captured by intelligence community surveillance
This is outrageous!  When our senior politicians or their functionaries are busy colluding against America with foreign agents, the FBI, CIA and NSA should hang up immediately!
As soon as they realize that the foreign agents are talking to American government or political folks, they must get off the line.

Our Founding Fathers never imagined a well-armed citizenry to keep the American government itself in check.
 It is a good thing that they did not.  Keeping the government in check by force of arms today would require heavy weapons, tanks, fighter jets and the like.  A force limited to small arms would be completely useless.   This makes it obvious that the big fight for “the right to bear arms” is about delusion, not simply mammon.  It is the desire to think of oneself as more powerful and independent than one actually is.  

In itself, this delusion is relatively harmless and the gun manufacturers do well by coddling that delusion with really-cool-looking hunting rifles mocked up to look like assault weapons.  Okay, the expression of the delusion through the widespread possession of small arms has a price: 33,000 deaths and 75,000 injuries each year – many to children.  To date, that is a price we Americans have been willing to pay. 

An expensive delusion, perhaps, but our own.

At the same time, local militias in New Jersey confiscated arms from African-Americans and inhabitants of the vulnerable shoreline.

That raises interesting speculations:   Was the internment of the Japanese a violation of the 2nd amendment?  
(They certainly weren’t allowed to keep their guns, were they?) 
What would happen if Mr Trump tried to take guns away from Muslim’s?   
Would the NRA develop cognitive dissonance?

The legal loophole that's costing Americans 
 Michael Master "...our company was forced to employ H1B workers to compete with the big firms."
The idea that a company was “forced” to participate in the H1B worker-replacement scam is telling.   Bad legislation can lead to a downward spiral: a Gresham’s law of employment that transfers wealth from labour to capital (workers got paid less, companies improved their profits.)

At base, the problem is one of balancing conflicting goals.  We want to be able to bring in bright people who will keep us at the leading edge, but we do not want to bring in people who take away American jobs just because they will do things on the cheap.   We want to do all things more cheaply and efficiently, but we do not want to gut the middle class.  It is the same question that plagues the balance of manufacturing at home or abroad.  

In this highly complex set of issues, one worries about knee-jerk reactions and the desire to “get ‘er done.”   The Bush-Obama era showed that gradualism wasn’t working and everyone was unhappy.  Now we have an era where the President thinks the bully pulpit, cutting red-tape and tilting the scales may help.  I would love Hope to triumph over Experience, but…..

As long as legislation is written by lobbyists and dependent on campaign-fund donations, I am not sanguine that things will improve.   I suspect the pendulum will simply rattle back and forth and the net-net will be more transfer of wealth from labour to capital.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Sturgeon Can’t Answer On Currency, Economy Or Europe For An Independent Scotland
Like Brexiteers, the Selfish National Party does not have a clue what Scots' independence means, they just want it for ideological reason and their own political power.   
However, they already have a beggar thy neighbour policy:
Nicola Sturgeon Urges People Across The UK To Move To Scotland To Escape Brexit

President Trump talks health care, taxes and leaks 
OK, TrumpCare pushes 12 million Trump voters out of healthcare insurance, but don't forget: it gives a $24 billion annual  tax break to the super-rich 1%.   That is, Trump and his friends get $2000 per year for every Trump supporter thrown off healthcare

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Why Defeat Of ‘Geert Wilders, Is Far From The End For Europe’s Far-Right Populists
Odd sort of defeat when you increase your votes and seats and reduce those of your opponents

Trump - Merkel Press Conference Results In Extraordinary Wiretapping ‘Joke’
Rude, crude and dangerous to know.
Will his budget and ACHA hurt the heartland of America?  Yep, but so what? 
He's our kind of guy - spitting on people we don;t like.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Who Wins and Loses in Trump’s Proposed Budget
Mr Trump's budget gives his supporters exactly what they have been asking for: more money for the military and less for everyone else. Elections have consequences.
         Sadly, he will also cut most funding for the arts, but that is politically okay: his affluent supporters can afford to pay for their arts without government help and his working-class rural base does not consume any of the arts.
         The only real tragedy will be the loss of PBS/NPR funding, since it may damage one of the few non-partisan news sources left in America.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

German government proposes €50m fines for networks that don't take down illegal 'fake news'
       The government will decide what is fake after the fact. All that this requires is that social networks self-censor their content and, unless that censorship is kind of censorship the government wants, they must pay up
     I particularly like this provision "Sites would also have to nominate a person responsible for handling complaints, who could face fines of up to €50m (£4.4m) personally if the company fails to abide by mandatory standards."
      Apart from itself being fake news itself (50 million Euro is NOT 4.4 million pounds), it says a scapegoat must be named who can be bankrupted if the site does not censor things the government way.
The government will decide what is fakeafter the fact.  All that this requires is that social networks self-censor their content and, unless that censorship is kind of censorship the government wants, they must pay up

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Workplace Headscarf Ban Is Not Discriminatory, European Court Of Justice Rules
I am not sure if this Headline is a deliberate lie or simply that the writer is stupid..
      The court DID NOT rule that a headscarf ban is not discriminatory. It ruled that a ban of ALL religious symbols is not discriminatory. The court ruled that if there was a ban on hijabs, but not on nuns' wimples, that WOULD be discriminatory. The court ruled that if Christians were allowed to openly flaunt crosses but Muslims could not flaunt hijabs, that would be discriminatory. The court ruled that if babushka headscarves were allowed but hijabs were not, that would be discriminatory
     Was there some reason that the Huffpo wanted to present this as a ruling against headscarves?
     Was it trying to divide its audience and pit them against each other?

Monday, 13 March 2017

The Five Big Numbers to Look For in the C.B.O. Report on Health Care ReformWhen a government trashes its own independent agency in advance of new data, you can bet they have something to hide. The question is not has the CBO ever been wrong, but who has been closer to the mark than the CBO in the past? As Mr Spicer would say: an agency is only phoney when we disagree with it. when we agree with it it is very real. Truth MUST take a back-seat to ideology,

HHS Secretary Price Says ‘Nobody Will Be Worse Off Financially’ Under Obamacare Repeal
“I firmly believe that nobody will be worse off financially in the process that we’re going through....” Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said .
That is what TrumpCare promised - and we expect it to deliver.

Nicola Sturgeon Confirms Plans To Hold Second Scottish Independence Referendum
Couldn't happen soon enough.  Tired of subsidizing them.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Liberal, Conservative and The Loss of Meaning

When I wrote that Liberalism was a political and social philosophy advocating individual freedom, representational forms of government, progress, reform and protection of civil liberties, my interlocutor responded "I am truly shocked at reading the 3 definitions of Liberalism that you furnished. They couldn’t be further from defining today’s version of liberalism. "

The philosophy of Liberalism began in the Age of Enlightenment in opposition to the Divine Right of Kings.  Its key tenets were well-defined by Paine & Locke, while Smith, Bentham and Mill outlined the Liberal embrace of free trade.  Liberalism is still adhered to by the UK's Liberal party (Openly calling for freedom, representation  and responsibility, which is probably why they always lose so badly.).  

The problem with "today's version of liberalism" is that it is a straw man set up solely to serve as a punching bag.  Just lump together any and all leftist ideas one doesn't like, call it Liberalism, then proceed to explain why one doesn't like Liberals.

Take "big government" for example: people who like big government are called Liberals and therefore bad, but first we have to exclude government interference in how I can die, what I can smoke, whether my mistress can have an abortion, what my doctor is allowed to ask me and where I am required to pee.  The fans of this kind of big-government interference in our daily lives are now called "conservatives" and those who oppose it are "liberals."

Or "buying insurance across state lines."   Anyone who opposes states-rights is a liberal, except those who think the feds in Washington should be able to tell states who can sell insurance in their territory;  that's a conservative.

Or free trade:  the only people who used to be in favour of tariffs were trade unionists; Liberals and Conservatives eschewed them with absolute horror.  Today, supporting tariffs is considered a "conservative" position and free trade is something those damned liberals dreamed up.  (Well, true; they did.)

In short, the terms mean almost nothing anymore - they are bandied about with no reference to their true meaning, which is how you can be shocked when you see a dictionary definition.

"Liberal" and "Conservative" or "Progressive" and "Reactionary," in today's common usage, mean little more than "the guys in the other political party."  

Listen to this guy.  The putsch that he has run in Turkey shows he KNOWS how Nazis behave.

Couldn't come soon enough. Can't wait to get rid of these freeloaders. Tired of subsidizing them.

Like Benghazi, we should be able to keep this investigation 20 years. Cops and lawyers need to eat too.

Donald Trump and the Republicans are on a runway to disaster if Trumpcare is a bust
The TrumpCare Act carves out $240 billion in tax cuts for the very rich, so its main job is already done and anything else it does is just gravy.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Who Wins and Who Loses Under Republicans’ Health Care Plan
Losers = those earning under 30K (50% of all workers)
Winners = those earning more than 50k (around 50% of all households)
Big Winners = those earning 75K (about 3% of workers, 10% of households)

Budget 2017: 10 Bits Of Bad News Buried By Philip Hammond
"Burried" is journo speak for "we were not bright enough to catch this the first time around because they didn't include it in the press release that we printed as if it were our own work.
House Republicans Unveil Plan to Replace Health Law
We were promised lower costs, wider coverage and better care.
We got higher cost, fewer covered and lower quality care.

Jess Phillips: I Would Stand To Be Labour Leader
Not sure she is all that qualified, but she certainly couldn't be worse than Corbyn

Monday, 6 March 2017

Donald Trump is in trouble whether his wiretap claim was true or not
Sadly, there are people who will now believe - to their dying day - that Obama wire-tapped Trump Tower, whether he did or not and regardless of any evidence that is found one way or the other. And we let them breed

Leashes Come Off Wall Street, Gun Sellers, Polluters and More
“Americans did not vote to be exposed to more health, safety, environmental and financial dangers...”
Well, yes, actually; they did.

Sadly, there are people who will now believe - to their dying day -  that Obama wire-tapped Trump Tower, whether he did or not and regardless of any evidence that is found one way or the other.    And we let them br
A Conspiracy Theory’s Journey From Talk Radio to Trump’s Twitter
Interesting chronicle of how Mr Trump and the media interact; mostly impartial and dispassionate with only one or two Trump barbs tossed.  Is he canny, or just easily led?

Woman’s Hour Presenter Dame Jenni Murray In Storm Over Transgender Comment
A matter of definition: whether they are "real women" is a political opinion, not a fact. The hoopla over Murray's statement is about whether she should be "allowed" to express an opinion that differs from the LBGTQRF community.

John Humphrys Suggests Jo Cox’s Murder Was Not Act Of Terrorism 
Outrageous!  Anyone who does not call this murder what I want it to be called is a Commie.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Trump to Undo Vehicle Rules That Curb Global Warming
Who cares? Our grand kids, vacationing at the Kentucky or Nevada sea shores won't need to breathe that much, will they?

Trumpism at Its Best, Straight Up

Donald Trump gave us Trumpism at its best on Tuesday night. And that was useful because it gave us a view of the political movement he represents, without the clownish behavior.
The first thing we learned was that Trumpism is an utter repudiation of modern conservatism. For the last 40 years, the Republican Party has been a coalition of three tendencies. On Tuesday, Trump rejected or ignored all of them.
There used to be Republican foreign policy hawks, people who believed that it was in America’s interest to serve as a global policeman, actively preserving a democratic world order. Trump explicitly repudiated this worldview, drawing instead a sharp distinction between what’s good for America and what’s good for the rest of the world.
There used to be social conservatives, who believed that the moral fabric of the country had been weakened by secularism and the breakdown of the family. On Tuesday, Trump acted as if this group didn’t exist. He didn’t mention a single social issue — abortion, religious liberty, marriage, anything.
Finally, there used to be fiscal hawks who worried about the national debt. Trump demolished these people, too, vowing a long list of spending programs and preservation of entitlement programs.
The Republicans who applauded Trump on Tuesday were applauding their own repudiation. They did it because partisanship is stronger than philosophy, but also because Reagan conservatism no longer applies to current reality. ….
The old Reagan conservatism was economic individualism restrained by social and religious traditionalism. Conservatives could embrace the creative destruction in the free market because they believed that the communal order could be held together by traditional morals and the collective attachments of family, church and local organizations.
But in the 1990s conservatism devolved from a flexible balance to a crude anti-government philosophy, the Leave Us Alone coalition. Republicans talked as if Americans’ problem was they were burdened by too many restraints and the solution was to get government off their backs.
That may have been true of the businessmen who make up the G.O.P. donor class, but regular voters felt adrift and uprooted, untethered and exposed. Regular Republicans didn’t want more freedom and more risk in their lives. They wanted more protection and security. They wanted a father-figure government that would protect them from [terrorism and] the disruptions of technological change and globalization.
Donald Trump came along and offered them exactly that kind of strong government….
Trump would use big government to crack down on enemies foreign and domestic. He’d use government to create millions of jobs for infrastructure projects. He’d use government to force or bribe corporations to locate plants here — the guarded order of national corporatism over the wide-open riskiness of free-market capitalism.
Brooks may be missing the main coalition that has spring up to replace the fiscal and social conservatives & hawks: the Me-Firsters whose main concerns are 1) keeping what they have and 2) getting more.  This coalition wants government to help them increase their assets and to prevent others from getting any of them. They consider anything else the government might do as mere gravy.

On the plus side, if we do move to national corporatism, at least we will know that China thinks as we do.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Shoreham Air Disaster Inquiry Verdict Slammed By Victim’s Relatives
The article does not mention why it was "slammed" nor in what way it was slammed, but what are facts compared to a good headline that pits people against each other and create divisiveness.

US Congressional delegation announces Israel visit to study moving embassy to Jerusalem
Wouldn't the cost of this move be better spent on homeless veterans?

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Obama Administration Rushed to Preserve Intelligence of Russian Election Hacking
As Bill Clinton would say: "I did not have meet with that Russian."

Donald Trump signals drastic shift
" ....reforms that expand choice, increase access, lower cost and, at the same time, provide better health care."
That seems a pretty clear promise that Trumpcare will offer
1. More choice than Obamacare
2. More Americans insured than under Obamacare
3. Lower premiums than for Obamacare
4. Better care than under obamacare
If Trumpcare delivers this, all America will be grateful.
If it does not, few will be surprised.

Trump administration preparing to ignore WTO rulings it doesn’t like
So the Trump administration plans to act like illegal aliens and only obey those laws they find convenient?
1.  More choice
2.  More insured
3. Lower premiums
4. Better care
If he delivers, all America ill be grateful.  
If he does not,few will be surprised.
1.  More choice
2.  More insured
3. Lower premiums
4. Better care
If he delivers, all America ill be grateful.  
If he does not,few will be surprised.