Anti-Semitism, Fine Tuning, FBI, Trump Taxes, Wealthy Cuts

  • Our President finally, awkwardly, speaks out against anti-Semitism and the surge in anti-Jewish vandalism here in St. Louis and elsewhere. At The Swash Zone, (O)CT(O)PUS considers the grudging, belated acknowledgement and is unimpressed.
     
  • The case for a strong, everlasting Israel is compelling. We just need to look to a brutal history of ethnic and religious oppression. T. Paine, at Saving Common Sense, could easily make that case, but relies instead on rhetorical slight of hand and anti-Palestinian shortcuts.
     
    It seems that Palestinians in the area have no legitimate grievances. Those who were displaced by the establishment of modern-day Israel, and their descendants, are not really Palestinians because there exist so many Palestinians who live in other areas. Palestine is a region, not a country, therefore, Palestine should be a region, not a country.
     
    T. Paine is an important, very busy, individual. When he finds the time, we can look forward to a more coherent case.
     
  • Jack Jodell at The Saturday Afternoon Post finds President Trump’s boast of an administration running as a fine-tuned machine to be humorous in a macabre sort of way.
     
  • Jon Perr at PERRspectives explains the connection between the Trump tax return cover up and the strange math advanced by Republicans planning more tax cuts for the fabulously wealthy.
     
  • Max’s Dad is on another creative rant, this time about Trumpian RussiaGate.
     
  • Last Of The Millenniums is impressed by the White House attempts, and the FBI’s rejection of those attempts, to interfere with current investigations into Trump campaign collusion with Russia during the Presidential campaign. Covering up is not supposed to be so obvious.
     
  • Dave Dubya analyzes the escalating attacks against mainstream press by the prickly new national administration and finds a longer term pattern.
     
  • The Onion, offers a ticktock account of Donald Trump’s relationship with the Press from 47,891 BC to now.
     
  • We have made it through another Week in Alternative Facts. Jonathan Chait explains how administrative aides are using fake news as a sedative to pull our President back from the more dangerous of his maniacal moods. Visits to the parallel universe soothe his troubled soul.
     
  • Jonathan Bernstein explains how and why Donald Trump can become a greater danger to democracy as the administration weakens.
     
  • Vixen Strangely at Strangely Blogged, catalogs the mystery of creepy, shifting, conservative reaction to Milo Yiannopoulos.
     
  • In The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser, former pastor and current atheist Bruce asks his evangelical readers to count through all the evil sins they and those they know were led into by the newest Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue.
     
  • Oh my living God NO. PZ Myers, reports on a horrible sort of Super Glue substitute for tampons in a product semi-invented by a maniac.
     
  • For Vincent at A Wayfarer’s Notes and a correspondent, separate visits to Walmart become spiritually mystical experiences.
     

Dirty Books: Quantifying Patterns of Use in Medieval Manuscripts Using a Densitometer

found online by Raymond

 
From The Journal of Improbable Research:

“The dirt ground into the margins of medieval manuscripts is one of their interpretable features, which can help us to understand the desires, fears, and reading habits of the past.”

– explains researcher Dr Kathryn M. Rudy who is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Art History, of the University of St Andrews, Scotland.

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The Bystander

found online by Raymond

 
From Stinque:

However you game it — impeachment, resignation, 25th Amendment, cholesterol poisoning, capture by flying monkeys — the one person who stands to immediately benefit from Donald Trump’s involuntary rapture is Mike Pence.

And honestly, that would be fine with us. Mike Pence may be evil, but he’s conventionally evil, predictably evil, the kind of evil that doesn’t make you seriously question whether humanity itself will survive him. We can work with that.

Pence is also smart as a weasel, ably distancing himself from the chaos surrounding his boss. He has no role, public or rumored, in the mess that’s unfolding, aside from being pissed that a notorious liar would, heaven forfend, lie to him. Mike Pence is stalwartly Above the Fray.

But when the moment comes for Mike Pence to step up and lead America out of its latest national nightmare, there’s just one problem:

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Something Wicked This Way Comes

found online by Raymond

 
From The Big Empty:

via The Washington Examiner:

“They are party loyalists,” Schumer continued. “He’s given them a Supreme Court nominee that they want, but my prediction is that if he keeps up on this path, which is likely — I don’t think he’ll change, within three to four months, you’ll going to see a whole lot of Republicans breaking with him. And that’s the salvage of America. That’s the hope of America.”

Sen. Chuck Schumer made the prediction today that he believed Trump would be gone by this summer. Although I appreciate his optimism, I’m not sure that will happen as quickly as he hopes.

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The Case Against Violence

found online by Raymond

 
From Infidel753:

There are differences of opinion over whether initiating violence (that is, committing violence other than in self-defense) has any proper role in our opposition to the dangerous fascists and bigots emboldened by the rise of Trumpism. I’m not talking about violence or aggression against neutral or uninvolved persons, such as smashing store windows or blocking traffic — such behavior must be avoided, and condemned unequivocally whenever it happens. Not only is it wrong in itself, it can only turn its victims again the people perpetrating it. Rather, I mean the kind of action exemplified by the much-debated Richard Spencer punch. Neo-Nazis, KKK supporters, and the like advocate violence, or at least identify with ideologies notorious for using it. Why not give them a taste of their own chosen medicine?

It’s a question on which I personally haven’t yet come to a conclusion

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The Trump Cheat Sheet – Losing Heads or Tails

Heads I win, tails you lose.

It would be a neat trick in any enterprise. If you only have to count income and not expenses, your balance sheets will look pretty good.

You want to get a loan? You tell the bank about all the income generated. Doesn’t much matter what the level is. The income/expense ratio will be out of this world.

“Income looks okay,” says the smiling bank analyst. “What is the level of expense?”

“No expenses,” you say.

“No expenses?”

“None.”

If you can do the reverse, your taxes will be easy to pay. Report all your expenses, and tell them there was no income.

“No income?”

“None.”

So no taxes. Wow.

Just try it.

If the bank is run by insane people, they might believe what you say and give you a loan. The government tax agent might laugh for a second or two before the friendly authorities put on the cuffs. There might be a brief tussle with the bank when they want their money back. But the government will win that one, they always do.

Counting only one side of the spreadsheet? Doesn’t quite work that way in the real world. But they’re about to try just that in the strange Schrödinger world of conservative bookkeeping.

Globalization is an uncontrollable force, in many respects. Your cell phone, your flat screen television, probably your computer would all be impossible without international trade. Even your automobile runs on trade. It may be proudly assembled in America, but important parts are made elsewhere.

Most of that is okay with the Trump administration. Has to be. For all the talk about jobs being exported, they won’t worry about trade with Canada, Europe, Russia, and much of Asia. Why other countries are targeted is open for discussion.

Costing us as much as $60 billion dollars a year with Mexico alone in trade deficits.

President Donald Trump, January 26, 2017

Mr. Trump and his top advisors do have a fixation on Mexico, Mexicans, and those Americans who have any Mexican ancestry. The alt right is a euphemism for something on the dark side of the force.

Countries whose citizens have been responsible for death from terrorism in the United States have many things in common. One important thing is that none, none at all, zero, are on Mr. Trump’s list of immigrants to be banned from entry.

The exactitude with which Trump business interests seem to overlay new definitions of national interest includes, but extends beyond, immigration.

Fact is, a substantial part of trade flowing in and out of the United States is layover and service work. “Value added,” they call it. Kind of like the storage facilities you see along the highway, except with a service department in the back. Trade everywhere has always involved safe harbors, even in ancient times. That’s why stopovers on trade routes were the parts of geography where wealth accumulated.

So, much of the American economy involves trade between other countries, with the United States as middleman. The US provides established pathways, infrastructure for travel and storage, and the technology to add value.

Still, a disproportionate amount of that value-added, in-and-out, sort of trade originates in countries toward which Trump and company have a transparent hostility.

They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.

Donald Trump, June 16, 2015

It is not simply undocumented workers who are to be hated. Illegal immigration doesn’t happen because of those fleeing violence or those obeying the eternal desire for a better life of economic opportunity. It is because those who remain in those countries have chosen their worst to send, actually send, to us.

When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us.

June 16, 2015

So the ongoing Trump campaign to eliminate commerce with select countries is justified by the two types of trade: the criminals Mr. Trump informs us are being sent to us by those countries, and the goods and services they are transporting to us in exchange for jobs that rightfully belong here.

But ethnic justification goes only so far. Something has to be done about the economic argument. A lot of trade creates jobs in the United States. The data that measures that is produced by the very government the Trump administration has taken over.

So a new way of calculating trade balance is being considered.

The way it would work is simple. When Mexico produces goods to send to Canada or Europe or pretty much anywhere, and sends it through the United States, the new slight of hand would apply. The imports into the United States would be counted. When they are then exported out of the United States, to their final destination, they would not be counted.

Coming in, they count. Going out, they don’t count.

So the trade deficit with Mexico would suddenly look like it doubled overnight. If it looks scary enough, the administration can tax, inhibit, or prohibit the re-exports, and also other sorts of trade.

It all might actually cost jobs, but jobs don’t seem to be the real aim, except for presentation to the base. The motivation seems to be to hurt countries Trump and his alt right advisors don’t like for ideological and ethnic reasons.

Whatever the reasons for the hostility, changing the calculation is a hidden way of cooking the books. They propose to take a large amount of the import and re-export trade with Mexico and only count one side of the ledger.

If you and I cook the books that way, we’ll get into some serious trouble.

But, the new administration is bringing in new methods of accountability.

It’s heads they win, tails everyone else loses.


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Attack of the Boy Doll

found online by Raymond

 
From tengrain at Mock Paper Scissors:

Remember that time Jerry Falwell attacked the Tellytubbies because one of the genderless critters carried a purse? Yeah, well, we have a new entry in the genre! Let’s meet Reverend Keith A. Ogden who seems to think that the American Girl Doll Company has an agenda because they now make… American Boy dolls!

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Take Heart, America—You’re Already Great

found online by Raymond

 
From John Pavlovitz:

Hey America,

I know the past few months have been rough. I know your self-esteem is in the toilet. I know you’re looking around at Canada and Australia and the UK, and you’re feeling really insecure about yourself right about now.

I get it. No one would blame you. You’ve spent the last year hearing over and over that your luster’s gone, that you’re damaged goods, that you’re a mess someone inherited; that your greatness is well past tense and that you need someone to return you to your former glory.

Don’t believe it my friend, that’s a gaslighter’s lie. You are presently fully glorious.

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