Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Believe It or Not – A Cretin Even Bigger Than Donald Trump in Treatment of Women

Vindication for All Those Who Said Trumpie Was Not the Worst; Terrible But Not the Worst

No comments needed on this story from the WaPo.

Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, already suspected of decades of sexual harassment, came under withering fire Tuesday with a new report accusing him of raping three women he had worked with during his long tenure as one of Hollywood’s most powerful figures.

The new report in the New Yorker magazine was followed within hours by a second article in the New York Times that included accounts from actresses Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie about Weinstein’s harassment of them early in their careers.

The World is Beginning to Understand – The U. S. Will Not Fight Other Nation's Battles

Even If It Wanted To – Which It Does Not

It is no longer 1941. It is no longer 1945. The world military situation is shaped by events since then. And that situation is that despite the fact that the United States has a far more powerful armed forces than any other nation, or even a bunch of nations combined, the United States is not going to fight global wars.

The Saudi's are considering not taking their state oil company, Saudi Aramco, public. A major reason for the change in stated in a Financial Times blog.

In common with many other countries traditionally dependent on the superpower role of the US, the Saudis are beginning to realise that the United States simply cannot be relied upon as their ultimate defender. The realisation started under President Obama who made clear that the US did not want any further involvement in foreign wars. In Libya after the fall of Colonel Gaddafi the US said it would do no more than “lead from behind”. Under President Trump that sense of disengagement has been compounded by the realisation that US decision making is erratic and unreliable. Even a warm embrace can turn out to be meaningless.

There are many reasons why the U. S. is not and will not be a global military power. Nuclear weapons is one, the aging of the U. S. population is another. A third is the politics, the nation no longer has a stomach for massive foreign intervention and instead operates on the stealth in many countries.

Reality, there will be no more Vietnam's, no more Iraqi type wars. This will be tragic in many cases because of massive human rights violations that will take place. But World, you're on your own.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Justice Department Investigating Reverse Discrimination at the College Level

White Folks Must be the Victims – Just Look at Any Big College Campus

Since the 1960's the Justice Department has pursued, well, justice. The institutions in the United States had openly discriminated against minorities, primarily African Americans. All of us are proud of what the government did to correct what in effect was segregated higher education.

Now the Sessions Justice Department lead by a man so bigoted that he could not be confirmed as a federal judge because of his bigotry is continuing the tradition of confronting discrimination. Well, maybe not.

A Federal Investigation Into ‘Reverse-Discrimination’ at Harvard

The Justice Department appears to be looking into whether the Ivy League institution discriminates against certain applicants based on their race.

Okay, that sounds good. Finally the horrific bias against white folks will be corrected. That's right, the Attorney General is terribly concerned that white people suffer discrimination. How could he get such an impression. Well we presume the AG watches Alabama football and concludes that the racial make up of the football team reflects that of the University.

No People – Bob Corker is Not a Hero – Just Another Hard Right Wing Senator

Who Doesn't Care How Many People His Positions Harm

Under the rubric “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” a lot of folks are praising retiring Senator Bob Corker (R, Tn) for his attacks on the Trumpster. These people have just disregarded Corker's voting record. Far from being an independent thinker, Corker just parrots and votes the straight right wing way.

The man has no accomplishments in the Senate, he will soon leave and not even be a footnote in history. His legacy will be mixed in with those who think government should help the wealthy and harm the rest of the population. He is Trump with a southern accent.

Trump and Republicans Flat Out Blatantly Lie on Cost Sharing Reduction Payments

GOP Goes Beyond Spin

Health care and health insurance is complicated, as Trumpie found out once he started paying slight attention to the area. Here, as simply as possible, is the truth on Cost Sharing Reduction Payments (CSR).

When the ACA was adopted it provided for reduced deductibles and co-pays for low to middle income families for their insurance policies. The mechanism was for their insurance company to fund the reductions and then for the insurance company to be reimbursed by the government. This reimbursement requirement is law, nothing unclear about it.

But Congress, in their usual ineptitude did not provide for permanent appropriations to make the payments. So a judge ruled they could not be made. But they are still a legal obligation of the government.

So basically the insurance companies will have to go to court, which they will, to get their money. And they will get their money, the law is clear. So no, this is not subsidization of insurance companies, this is not a bail out. This is simply the government paying what it owes.

As for what the Republicans are saying on this issue, it just confirms that their strategy is that when they are wrong they just lie, lie, lie. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Football Player Russel Okung Shows Courage, Humility and Grace

Calls for Players to Be an Active, Positive Force

Some NFL players were silently, peacefully and gracefully protesting the killing of unarmed African Americans by police. The start was made by a San Francisco player named Colin Kaepernick, who was blacklisted from the NFL for his efforts.

Russell Okung of the Los Angeles Chargers before an exhibition game in August. CreditJohn Hefti/Associated Press

Now another player has spoken up. Russel Okung is a Los Angeles Charger who has written an open letter to his fellow players. The first thing he did, the thing that gives him credibility is that he admists to being wrong.

Things have clearly gotten out of control. As a pragmatist, I will admit, I initially doubted the merits of Colin Kaepernick’s protest and questioned his strategy.

I was wrong.

There is now no doubt in my mind that what he did last season was a courageous, prophetic, self-sacrificial act that has captivated a nation and inspired a powerful movement.

If I had his cellphone number, I would tell him that.

That makes his message powerful. And the message is for the players to act as Americans, to communicate as one in a peaceful and powerful voice. Would that Trump and Pence learn from his quiet dignity.

Is There Still a Democratic Party?

Near Total Absence on the National Media Would Suggest Maybe Not

One of the most important things a political party can do is to be visible, to make itself and its positions known to the American voter. Republicans and their media lapdog Fox News do a great job of this. Democrats don't even both to show up.  It's not that so many people watch the shows, it that they get reported on Monday and get publicity for the people that speak.

On the Sunday morning news shows Republicans dominate. Is the problem that there are no leaders of Democrats to show up and defend their policies, or that there are just no policies to defend?  Democrats are certainly invited but just fail to show up. If they lose in 2018 and 2020, they have only themselves to blame.   

Sunday, October 15, 2017

A Courageous Letter to the NYT From Amy Farah Fowler

Otherwise Known as the Wonderful Actress Mayim Bialik

In the midst of the chaos that is the revelation that Harvey Weinstein is the biggest pig in Hollywood, a designation not easily achieved is a great piece in the NYT from an actress who portrays a character on The Big Bang Theory.

Mayim Bialik is a real person. She looks like a real person. After a successful career as a child actor she left the entertainment business to obtain a Ph D. in a difficult science area. She returned to acting to great acclaim as the girlfriend of Sheldon Cooper in a hit TV series. She writes of the pain of not being one of the glamorous people.

I grew up constantly being teased about my appearance, even from members of my family; my nose and chin were the main objects of discussion. As a teenager I started obsessing over the possibility of a nose job so that I would look more like Danica McKellar, with a chin job to balance things out. Soon I wondered if I should get breast implants to look more like Christina Applegate, who got so much attention for her curves. I consistently felt like a troll compared to many of my contemporaries. A “TV Guide” critic described me, in a review of the pilot episode of “Blossom,” as having a “shield-shaped” face of “mismatched features.” I never recovered from seeing myself that way.

A beautiful young actress

This should never happen in America. The nation is built on the principal of the supremacy of the individual and personal appearance has no place in the evaluation of a person, Trumpie be damned. Ms Bialik rightfully condemns Hollywood and more rightly calls on the nation to change.

I believe that we can change our culture, but it won’t be something that happens overnight. We live in a society that has treated women as disposable playmates for far longer than Mr. Weinstein has been meeting ingĂ©nues in luxury hotel rooms.
One major bright spot: We are seeing more women taking on prominent roles behind the camera. Women like Jenji Kohan and Jill Soloway are showing the kinds of female characters on their shows that we all know in real life but never got to see on TV. And more women and men are waking up to the fact that it is on us all to sound the alarm on unacceptable behavior.

In the meantime, I plan to continue to work hard to encourage young women to cultivate the parts of themselves that may not garner them money and fame. If you are beautiful and sexy, terrific. But having others celebrate your physical beauty is not the way to lead a meaningful life.

And a beautiful young lady in red

Saturday, October 14, 2017

How Stupid is the Decision to Eliminate CSR Payments?

Stupid to the Tune of $31 Billion in Additional Taxpayer Costs

The idiocracy that is the current Presidency is stopping the cost reduction payments required under ACA.  These payments reimburse insurance companies for lower the co-pays and deductibles required for low and middle income families.  They are required by law but since Congress has not appropriated the money to pay them a Federal judge has ruled they cannot be made if the President doesn't want to make them.  And now he says he don't.

But instead of saving money the move will be highly expensive.  From a forum by Charles Gaba.

Thanks to David Anderson of Balloon Juice for calling my attention to this analysis done by the Kaiser Family Foundation back in April which took a different methodolgical approach to this very scenario...and came to the following conclusion:
Any systematic increase in premiums for silver marketplace plans (including the benchmark plan) would increase the size of premium tax credits. The increased tax credits would completely cover the increased premium for subsidized enrollees covered through the benchmark plan and cushion the effect for enrollees signed up for more expensive silver plans. Enrollees who apply their tax credits to other tiers of plans (i.e., bronze, gold, and platinum) would also receive increased premium tax credits even though they do not qualify for reduced cost-sharing and the underlying premiums in their plans might not increase at all.
We estimate that the increased cost to the federal government of higher premium tax credits would actually be 23% more than the savings from eliminating cost-sharing reduction payments. For fiscal year 2018, that would result in a net increase in federal costs of $2.3 billion. Extrapolating to the 10-year budget window (2018-2027) using CBO’s projection of CSR payments, the federal government would end up spending $31 billion more if the payments end.
This assumes that insurers would be willing to stay in the market if CSR payments are eliminated.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Democrats Moving From Reality to Fantasy Land Think They Can Take the Senate in 2018

Think They Can Take the Senate in 2018

Dems Are the Child Left Behind at School; Just Cannot Do Math

In 2018 the math for the U. S. Senate is strongly in favor of the Republicans. Only a few are up for re-election while there are a huge number of Democratic Senators who will face tough fights. Victory for the Democrats would not be taking control of the Senate, it would be limiting losses to 2 or 3 seats.

But Politico is reporting delusions of grandeur by the Democratic party. Consider this headline from their site.

Democrats see path to Senate majority in 2018

The odds remain long for a takeover, but Republicans are still growing concerned.

Sorry Dems, there is no path, there is no yellow brook road, there is only a road to nowhere as far as winning the Senate is concerned. See to win elections you need good candidates, money and a favorable electorate. In all the Republican states none of this is apparent.

WTF -From the WaPo

The decision to charge DeAndre Harris in the Charlottesville parking garage attack that left him badly wounded is just the latest sign of how crazy our world has become.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The United States is Not Good at Soccer – And That's OK

Let Other Folks Compete Once in a While

The sporting news is aghast that America has not qualified for the World Cup Soccer Championship.

Trinidad and Tobago, whose World Cup dreams ended months ago, stunned the United States, 2-1, on Tuesday night. The result, combined with just-as-shocking outcomes in two simultaneous games in Honduras and Panama on the final day of qualifying for the Concacaf region, ushered in the unthinkable: The American men, mainstays of the World Cup for more than a generation, are out of next summer’s tournament in Russia.
Instead, Panama, which rallied from a one-goal deficit for a 2-1 win over Costa Rica, will join the Ticos and Mexico in Russia. It will be Panama’s first trip to the World Cup.

So no big deal, really no big deal. Soccer is popular in the U. S. but it is not a dominant sport. It is a great sport for young boys and girls because it is relatively safe, does not require expensive equipment, is easy to learn and everybody can play and contribute. But that doesn't mean the nation must dominate the sport, or even be able to compete in international competition.

See other countries matter, and if they are more dedicated to the sport let them enjoy their success. Beside the critical issue in sports in America is not winning, it is whether or not employers can force their employees to stand for the national anthem. Forced patriotism, that's what it's all about now.

Problems Accelerate in Europe

While Americans Obsess Over the Petty

This post does not denigrate the protests by professional athletes who are concerned over racial justice and other issues in the nation. Those protests are legal, appropriate and heartfelt. But the President has made them into an issue of division in his attempt to divide America into Us and Them. And in doing so he has elevated the protests into being a greater issue than is appropriate without creating the focus on the issues, which are the really important things.

And even worse, America's infatuation with the fatuous is obscuring the nation's focus on where it should be, which among other things is the growing concern about Europe. That area is becoming a serious mess.

Britain is struggling with an ill advised decision by the electorate to leave the EU. The Prime Minister is weak and ineffective. Scotland is still talking about leaving and the Conservative party is so bad that it is elevating an offensive and myopic Labour leader to prominence.

France elected a young dynamic leader, and then when he tried to implement the policies he ran on the electorate deserted him.

Germany is split, and for the first time in the post war era neo-Nazi hard line right wingers will enter the national legislature. It is not clear yet how Merkel will be able to form a coalition government.

Poland is falling further under the sway of right wing nationalists who are destroying some democratic norms in the country.

Hungary has for several years been controlled by xenophobic right wing leaders who also are enemies of democracy.

Turkey, which could have been a great member of Europe, a democratic Muslim majority nation, is now subject to a sectarian dictator who has destroyed any hope that Turkey would be a constructive member of the EU. That Turkey could join the EU is now just a fantasy.

Finally, Spain's government reacted in the worst way possible to the effort in Catalonia to hold a referendum on independence. Instead of just ignoring the voting the Spanish government violently attacked its own citizens and probably intensified the crisis.

But in the U. S, focus is on a stunt driven VP who thinks the American people are so stupid that they can be fooled by a pre-planned drama. Ok, maybe his followers are that stupid.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Something is Rotten in the Manhattan's D. A. Office

They let Ivanka Trump and siblings escape prosecution.

They let Harvey Weinstein off after there was tape of his sexually assaulting a woman.

This needs to be investigated.

Rapist Granted Joint Custody of Child He Fathered

Today in Outrage

Reliable news sources are reporting that a local judge in Michigan awarded parental rights to a twice convicted sex offender who was charged with rape that produced a child.

A Sanilac County Circuit judge has granted parenting time and joint legal custody of an 8-year-old boy to a convicted sex offender who allegedly raped the child’s mother nine years ago.
Christopher Mirasolo, 27, of Brown City was awarded joint legal custody by Judge Gregory S. Ross after DNA testing established paternity of the child, according to the victim’s attorney, Rebecca Kiessling, who is seeking protection under the federal Rape Survivor Child Custody Act. A hearing is scheduled for Oct. 25.

Gosh, what about the father. Well there is this.

According to Kiessling, Mirasolo forcibly raped and threatened to kill her client, now 21, nine years ago when the woman was 12. Mirasolo was 18 when the incident occurred in September 2008.
. . .
While the assault potentially carried a penalty of life or any term of years but not less than 25 years, Mirasolo was given a plea deal by the Sanilac County Prosecutor’s Office for attempted third-degree criminal sexual conduct.
Mirasolo was sentenced to one year in the county jail but only served six and a half months before early release so he could care for his sick mother, Kiessling said.
She (client) and her family was told first-time sex offenders weren’t sent to prison because people come out worse after they go there,” said Kiessling.
In March 2010, Mirasolo committed a sex assault on a victim between the ages of 13 and 15 years old. He served only four years for that second offense, Kiessling said.

The judge is not commenting, and yes the judge is male.

Conservatives who believe in father's rights and the sanctity of life are noticeable silent, focusing instead on football players kneeling during the national anthem. In their minds, a much more important issue than mother/child welfare.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Nuclear Energy is Spiraling Downward – Huge Costs of Building a Plant Are Dooming Industry

And Duke Energy Wants Ratepayers to Pay for Failure

Nuclear reactors to produce electricity is a dying industry. The industry always had a limited future because it generates killer waste and there is no place to put it. But in the last few years it has faced a new killer threat, costs. The amount of money it takes to build a nuclear plant is huge, and there have been massive cost over-runs on plants under construction. So much so that plants are being abandoned left and right and Toshiba who builds plants may well go under.

Duke Power has stopped working on a nuclear facility. And they want rate payers to pay for the mistake of management in starting it in the first place.

Duke Energy Carolinas wants to cancel its planned Lee Nuclear Station and will ask regulators to allow it to recover at least $368 million in planning and pre-construction costs from N.C. customers.

Duke notes its plan for Lee as part of its request for a 13.9% rate increase filed Friday with the N.C. Utilities Commission. And it filed a separate proposal specifically on canceling the project. Duke filed both with the commission shortly after 10 a.m. Friday.

But ratepayers are not the ones who made the decision to start a nuclear plant. That was done by management who is put in place by the Board of Directors who represent the shareholders. This one should be on them, the shareholders, and not the customers.

Lower Middle Income Americans Had Large Gains Under Obama – And Voted for Trump

Because a Lot of Them are, Sorry to Say, Misogynistic Bigots

One of the many myths of America is that those hardworking non-college educated voters did not gain anything from the Obama years and in reaction they voted for Trump. Now new data says that is just not so.

Americans who were left behind as the country pulled out of the Great Recession — African Americans, Hispanics and people without college degrees — saw large gains in net worth over the past three years, the Federal Reserve reported Wednesday.

So why did these people go for Trump? Because, as we now know, Trump personified their intolerance towards non-white racial groups. The economics was just conventional wisdom that was wrong.

Of course, as everyone knows the gap between very wealthy Americans and the rest of us has not gotten better because yes, the system is rigged.

 The share of America’s income held by the top 1 percent of households reached 24 percent in 2016, a record high, and the median net worth of white households, at $171,000, was nearly 10 times larger than for black households.

The findings suggest that while a robust economy has benefited all economic groups, the wealthiest and most educated have been in a position to benefit even more because they began with such a significant advantage.

If the Dems were not so inept they could win elections on making the system fairer. But as we say, if the Dems were not so inept . . . .

Monday, October 9, 2017

Like Senator Cassidy Lied to Jimmy Kimmel; Trump Lies About Tax Relief for the Wealthy Disguised as Tax Reform

Government by the Rich, Of the Rich, For the Rich

The Republicans have succeeded in fooling the media into calling tax cuts for wealthy American tax reform. And of course none of them will point out this lie by Donnie the Trump.

My plan is for the working people and my plan is for jobs,” President Trump said Wednesday. “No, I don’t benefit, I don’t benefit. In fact, very, very strongly, as you see, I think there’s very little benefit for people of wealth.”

Well, let's see. First of all the proposal reduces the top rate. Assuming Trump is actually as rich as he brags, this is a huge benefit for him. But wait, there's more. Much of Trump's income comes from pass through entities like partnerships. That rate will be only 25%, down from 39%. Another Trump bennie.

And what else? Well the Estate Tax is eliminated, something that will benefit only multi-millionaires. And the Alternative Minimum Tax which is something that kept Trump from paying about zero tax in the one year we have tax info on him for is gone.

Of course, for middle income taxpayers who, gasp, live in Democratic states they will lose the deduction for state and local taxes.

So yes, tax fraud Republican style. Exactly what did you expect, a big tax cut for wealthy high profit corporations?  Oh, right, there's that too.

Trumpie Tells Lapdog Pence to Leave Football Game if Players Protest

If You Can't Stand the Heat Get Out of the Stadium

The sniveling coward known as the Vice President of the United States made a statement Sunday by walking out of a football game because some of the players had the temerity, the outright gall to protest. That is they exercised their rights as American citizens by expressing their displeasure about the state of racial relation in the nation.

The statement of course is that nobody has the right to question the government or to go against what Trumpie and his sycophantic VP have determined is how people should act. When Pence was asked what he said to Trumpie after Donnie told him how to act Pence did not say “Yes, master”.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Ah, the Wonderful World of Billionaires

$5 Million is Chump Change to State Street - The Chumps Being Their Women Employees

Calling all cynics. Remember the Fearless Girl statue staring down Wall Street’s Charging Bull? It attracted enormous amounts of publicity and praise for its feminist message. Meanwhile, the $2.6 billion asset manager behind the public artwork, State Street, agreed today to pay $5 million to settle a discrimination dispute after a U.S. Labor Department audit found hundreds of female executives were allegedly being paid less than their male colleagues... —Katie Robertson