Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Propaganda, dirty-tricks cheaters and "prodigal" Boehners

The  Honest Ads Act, introduced last week by Democratic senators Mark Warner of Virginia and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, would require online platforms with at least 50 million monthly users -- think Facebook, Google and Twitter -- to make a public record of advertisers who spend at least $500 on political ads regarding campaigns or significant legislative issues. The record would include information regarding the ad's content, its target audience and its cumulative views, as well as its cost. It would also list any candidate referred to in the ad and contact information for the entity that purchased it. 

“This is a cause that transcends both commercial and partisan concerns -- the bill has the support of Republican Senator John McCain. Congress should pass the Honest Ads Act. Then build on it.” Indeed, it is only a start on the needed reforms.

Yeah, there are two chances of this happening…”fat” and “slim.” In other words, zero under this Congress, whose GOP leaders are absolutely counting upon a tsunami of cheating to stay in power, in 2018.  

Note that they already dismantled the earlier measures we had in place, to help keep a calm and informed and balanced voting public -- e.g. the Fairness Doctrine and rebuttal rules in mass media, requiring that major outlets allow on-air replies to any stretch of biased opinion.  The "lamestream media" were fine with this, encouraging give and take and rebuttals, even sometimes retractions! It was Rupert Murdoch, Fox and Clear Channel ravers who fought like hell to get rebuttal requirements ended. Why? Because any five minutes of rebuttal on Fox, by someone using facts well, would leave that lie festival a smoldering ruin.

The use of billionaire bucks to consolidate mass media into biased houses was also constrained by old media dispersal of ownership rules.  Now the Koch Brothers own Time.  Stay tuned. We may have to up the boycott.

Ronald Reagan famously said:

 "I didn't leave the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party left me.” 

Whatever you think of Ronnie’s rationalization, he expressed perfectly what any sane or grownup Republican should be paraphrasing right now about the party that’s utterly betrayed them and their country and even honorable conservatism – along with science and every other fact-using profession. Alas, show me one of today's Republicans who has Reagan's cojones! One. Even Senators Flake, Corker and McCain, who found guts to denounce the Symptom-in-Chief (Trump) are too weak kneed to take on the diseas. Rupert Murdoch. And his overseas pals.

Ah, here’s a link to how you can boycott – even just a little – the confederate propaganda machines.

 == Gerrymandering & healthcare ==

Cheaters. They cannot win except by cheats that range from treasonous-foul gerrymandering to "losing" thousands of voter registrations, always a week or two before an election, to rigged voting machines, to voter suppression... and now this: "A computer server crucial to a lawsuit against Georgia election officials was quietly wiped clean by its custodians just after the suit was filed, The Associated Press has learned. The server’s data was destroyed July 7 by technicians at the Center for Elections Systems at Kennesaw State University, which runs the state’s election system."

Hey cheaters, be proud... but where do you think this will all lead, when we finally get fed up?

The recent election in Virginia showed popular revulsion by reducing GOP seats in the House of Delegates from 2/3 to 50%, But gerrymandering means that a 10% lead in votes nets 50% of the seats in Virginia. In other words, to get their statehouse back, Virginia voters have to reject the cheaters by super-majorities. Is there any way out of this cheat?

Based on the simple way that children divide a cake, the "I-cut-you-choose" solution to gerrymandering seems workable and plausible and avoids the inherent problems of independent commissions. It does entrench the two-party system and does not preserve state sovereignty and legislative privilege as well as my "Minimal Overlap" approach. Both should be presented to the Court, allowing Justice Kennedy no more waffling room. There are solutions that satisfy his every objection. Our descendants will look back at our inability to end this blatantly treasonous and criminal cheat and ask: "what kind of people were they?"


== An ineffective Congress ==

Why the GOP tries and fails to do a thing in Congress. “The most surprising thing about last summer’s many attempts to repeal ObamaCare wasn’t that they failed. It was the peculiar way that the legislation proceeded in both houses of Congress: without meaningful committee hearings, with minimal debate on the floor of either the House or Senate, sometimes without analysis from the CBO, and often without a even draft of a bill until the last possible moment. Again and again, Republicans were urged to vote Yes, not because the plan in front of them was good for American healthcare, but to “keep the process moving”. 

LATE ADDENDUM: As of December 2, it seems that the GOP, which has owned every branch of government and lever of power, since January, will at last have an "accomplishment" in a Tax Bill that they admit will add a $trillion to the national debt, while spending not one red cent on infrastructure, which would have generated high Money Velocity and growth. 

Instead, the magical incantations of Supply Side - which have never once come true, ever, proclaim that this time the oligarchs will spend the windfall on R&D and productive capacity... unlike every single other time, when they spent it on passive asset bubbles that limit money velocity to levels down near zero... as Adam Smith predicted, back in 1776.

But pause and let's congratulate the victors. The same folks who howled that the dems passed the ACA in "just a year," holding open, public hearings in just five committees, are now passing the biggest tax bill in history with ZERO days of hearings, forging this trillion dollar raid for billionaires in top secret and passing it in the dead of night, amid a festival of lies.

== The real reason for the tax cut - an oligarch exit strategy ==

Those who piled their earlier tax largesse into asset bubbles know the great times always end.  They always plan an exit strategy, for when the bubble bursts.

Their dream used to be "privatize social security!"  Fill the equity markets with Greater Fools to sop up bloated assets. That scam was stopped, thank God, just before the last collapse.  

So what's the plan now?

Flood already profitable companies with tax cuts so they can accelerate their already absurdly massive stock buy-backs!  In-effect, break the US budget subsidizing companies to squander their futures giving money to current stockholders... buying up stock that the moguls know will soon plummet in value.

This time, they will get their way. Only they are counting on us never noticing. That could be a mistake.

== Too little, too late John ==

Oh, my. Says retired GOP Speaker John Boehner about Hannity and Limbaugh diving into the Dark Side: “I had a conversation with Hannity, probably about the beginning of 2015. I called him and said, ‘Listen, you’re nuts.’ We had this really blunt conversation. Things were better for a few months, and then it got back to being the same-old, same-old. Because I wasn’t going to be a right-wing idiot.”

Oh, oh, the cognitive dissonance! As Speaker of the House, John Boehner was a horrible villain who damaged our republic and our civilization, by helping to enforce the Hastert Rule against negotiation in the US Congress, effectively destroying the adult art of pragmatic politics that underlies so much of our success as a nation. The U.S. Congress - once the greatest deliberative body for agile, responsible, balanced and innovative governance in the history of our species - became, under Boehner, the most lazy, useless, corrupt and dogmatic in over a century, passing laws to benefit plutocrats and almost nothing else, holding fewer days in session, hearings etc but vastly more in “fund-raising.”

They were good at two things, passing legislation benefiting the party’s individual oligarch owners… and symbolism.  Example, see where I appraise their obsession with naming ships! Especially aircraft carriers.

There many sane-conservative wishes never seriously pursued. One example: there had been a deal to reform entitlements, negotiated in good faith between several Democratic and Republican Senators. It would have secured Social Security and cured inefficiencies, reduced deficits... and Boehner trashed it. Oh, and he knows that "Obamacare" is almost identical to the GOP Health Care Plan the he had pushed for! But will he say so?

Sure, this killer-of-American-politics was not as awful a human being as his predecessor leading the GOP -- Dennis “friend-to-boys” Hastert -- or the chain of perverts and multiple divorc├ęs and gambling-subsidized shills who “moral” Republicans keep nominating and electing. Heck, I will even cheer if Boehner joins Flake, Corker, McCain, Collins, Romney and the lot, forming a Party of Sane Adult American Conservatives and calling quits with Rupert Traitor Murdoch. 

There is precedent for such a bold move!  See "The Miracle of 1947."

But while we may receive the repentant sinner back at the table as a prodigal son, if he later fights for righteousness and the Union he betrayed, we are not obliged to forget the role he played into guiding us into phase 8 of the American Civil War.

 == Looking to China ==

The Globalist’s Nathan Gardels warns: “While the West — including a Europe riven by populist and separatist movements — stalls in internal acrimony, China is boldly striding ahead. It has proactively set its sights on conquering the latest artificial intelligence technology, reviving the ancient Silk Road as “the next phase of globalization,” taking the lead on climate change and shaping the next world order in its image. If the West does not hear this wake-up call loud and clear, it is destined to somnambulate into second-class status on the world stage. Waiting for China to stumble is a foolish fallback.

“That is not to suggest, of course, that open societies ought to turn toward authoritarianism to unify the body politic. But it is to say that unless democracies look beyond the short-term horizon of the next election cycle and find a way to reach a governing consensus, they will be left in the dust by the oncoming future. If democracy has come to mean sanctifying the splintering of society into a plethora of special interests, partisan tribes and endless acronymic identities instead of seeking common ground, there is little hope of successfully competing with a unified juggernaut like China.”

A number of interesting articles follow up on this introduction, and they are cogent as far as they go… 

...but alas, the grand conclusion of the whole issue is dead wrong. It is based upon the fallacious assumption that the China Miracle of development was a Chinese accomplishment, alone.

Yes, a billion hardworking Chinese people did the hard work of building new cities and industries and power. But history will show that the capitalization of this revolution-miracle was funded by one thing and one thing above all else — vast flows of funds from the West and especially the U.S., via a counter-mercantilist system that was created deliberately by George Marshall, Dean Acheson, Truman and Eisenhower and others at the end of the Second World War, with one goal — the development of the world.  

No other “empire” ever did this, at their apex. Moreover, no endeavor in the history of humanity has ever worked so well.

Chinese leaders nurse the same illusion touted by the earlier Japanese — that they invented a new and cleverly predatory form of economics that sucked vitality from a decadent west without our awareness or sapient consent. But they did not invent predatory mercantilism. Every previous empire or rising nation practiced it, as did the Ming and Manchu, and all suffered from its ills, over the long run. Yes, in the short run, predatory mercantilism has led to fantastically rapid development, but let me ask: “who is sapient here?”

The “empire” of this era - the U.S. - could have shut down counter-mercantilist subsidy of the developing world at any time in the last 70 years. We can do it now, at any time. And in the event of a sudden trade war, who do you think will suffer more? WalMart customers, suddenly unable to buy cheap underwear anymore, and having to relearn how to darn socks? Or those whose utter livelihoods depend on making and selling hose and skivvies to Americans?

Asian mercantilists have always flattered themselves that we are helpless before our consumer appetites. And so it never occurs to them that the last 70 years were the result of deliberate design. Our design, not theirs.

Today, prodigiously, the U.S. economy is lifting both China’s and India’s, at the same time. Future historians will deem this to be the greatest American accomplishment of all. Those historians’ AI assisted models will not be biased by self-loathing or self-flattery, but clear and revelatory facts.  They will know what we did, and why.

Is it essential for the U.S. to snap out of its current funk? Its current “phase 8 of the American Civil War?” Sure. And many powers are investing heavily - both funds and manipulation - to keep us at each others’ throats. They rightfully dread how dynamic we will be, if we recover our national skill at fair-argumentation, negotiation and fact-based pragmatic politics. And yes, that can happen under the aegis of a democratic and diverse - not ‘disciplined’ - society.

== And finally ==

Here's something most of you saw, so hilarious you wind up sobbing: At Halloween The U.S. president’s son tweeted a picture of his three-year-old daughter with her Halloween candy haul, threatening “I’m going to take half of Chloe’s candy tonight & give it to some kid who sat at home. It’s never to early to teach her about socialism.”  

While mis-spelling “too,” he raised a storm of satire and derision, some reactions very clever. For a silver-spoon spoiled-heir to talk about anyone “earning” their candy is rich. 

Note: Ayn Rand, for all her faults, portrays her own scion characters taking ‘The Dare,’ dropping out, changing their names and starting over in a farm or factory, spending a decade earning a fresh fortune of their very own, before accepting a penny of inheritance. She was a loony, but capable of more honesty than most of these petty lordlings.  (OTOH, she disapproved of procreation and never once showed or implied any of her characters doing it; at least Don Jr. has a sweet face to love (and alas, exploit). Happy Thanksgiving, Trumps. I mean that! But then let’s all have a Merry Christmas and great 2018.

====

Addendum: I have many times called for a "year of the colonels." Not in the old sense of latin caudillos grabbing power by force, but retired U.S. officers stepping up to confront confederate treason at every level. Now that the mad right's war on all fact-using professions includes everyone from science, medicine and journalism to the "deep state" FBI and intel and military officer corps -- these are the only folks who can grab our neighbors by the lapel and insist: "this is not about sane-conservatism, anymore. It is about insanity."

We need such men and women running not only for Congress but in every single red state assembly district, in both the Republican primaries and as moderate or even slightly conservative Democrats, in the General. 


Now we have such a fellow stepping up in Alabama. "A retired Marine colonel and former top aide to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly -- Lee Busby -- has launched a write-in campaign in next month's Alabama Senate race, seeing an opening after multiple women accused Republican Roy Moore of sexual misconduct."  


And yes, if he wins, I'll be happy enough with a 'pro-life' moderate representing the deeply conservative folks down there, so long as he's a sane, pragmatic fact-user who can sniff the stink of betrayal from the current, Kremlin-run GOP and who's willing to sit down, negotiating like an adult.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Science Fiction News & Updates and... yes... Bladerunner

Starting off, on NAUTILUS, Brian Gallagher interviews me on whether Star Wars got any better, after George Lucas handed the franchise over to Disney. Brian did a great job riling me up to give another choice rip on that wretchedly evil and unwise little green oven mitt… Yoda.

(Here's a funny re-dubbed Star Wars pastiche.)

Jerry Pournelle, RIP. News can simultaneously be both unsurprising and shocking. He had been in ill-health for a very long time, yet seemed forever perseverant - determined to diagnose what his nation and the future needed. None of today’s activists - any stripe or polemical persuasion - could teach Jerry Pournelle a thing about passionate dedication to the long term success of the human experiment.

I was supposed to sit on a Mars Society panel next to him last month, in Irvine.  Larry Niven, Geoff Landis, Greg Benford and I were disappointed that Jerry sent his regrets, being too tired to come down. There will be no reprise of the panel-that-might-have-been… though JP’s devoutly envisioned heaven would likely feature less harp strumming and more endlessly fun disputation… an ever-changing sci fi convention.

In the 1980s, Pournelle's Byte magazine column powerfully influenced the developing world of consumer computing, perhaps more world-affecting than even his epic science fiction collaborations with Larry, such as Footfall and The Mote in God's Eye.

A unique American, in so many ways. We differed over many - perhaps most - policies, but never over the fundamental -- that we must be a forward looking people, negotiating fairly (if often loudly) with each other, ready to admit mistakes and move on, peering ahead in order to make fewer new ones, but bravely enduring and admitting those, as well. And moving on.

And while we’re on post apocalyptic themes … an interesting article on how many ways you can spend your doomsday prep money.

== SF News ==

I love this short-short, Legale (published in Nature) - especially the abstractly future-computer voices. Vernor Vinge is at the top of his form.

Available for free download: Overview: Stories in the Stratosphere, a collection of near-future stories collected ASU: Center for Science and Imagination, edited by Ed Finn – with tales by Karl Schroeder, Brenda Cooper, plus one I collaborated on with Tobias Buckell. “Each story presents a snapshot of a possible future where the stratosphere is a key space for solving problems, exploring opportunities or playing out conflicts unfolding on the Earth’s surface.” It was sponsored by one of the new strato-balloon companies - World View - founded by Pluto pioneer Alan Stern.

== Podcasts worth a listen ==

Newly posted… here’s a podcast interview packed with a wide range of future-oriented topics, ranging from transparency and privacy, future societies, political systems and cultural renaissances, all the way to science fiction, and fermi paradox.

And consider "Masters of Scale," the podcast about Venture Capitalism and the tech-innovation world, run by Reid Hoffman, founder of Linked-In. Top interview guests. Very well-produced and always forward-looking.

And until the Novum podcast comes off hiatus, its backlist of shows remains one of the very best, ever, about science fiction.

== SF Cinema ==

Netflix has announced the episodes for “Black Mirror’s” fourth season, to premiere on the streaming service later this year: “Arkangel,” “Black Museum,” “Crocodile,” “Hang the DJ,” “Metalhead,” and “USS Callister” (an apparent Star Trek takeoff).  Anyone know these guys? I have acouple of concepts that could change world politics overnight.  I mean it. The very day after an episode aired. Worldwide.

At the Burbank International Film Festival, on September 10, 2017, Mark Hedges won the award for best adapted screenplay, for the adaptation of Glory Season by David Brin. An accomplishment, even if it never sees the silver screen. Watch this book trailer for Glory Season.

My wife & I blame each other -  while each of us denies responsibility - for PIXELS appearing on our Netflix dvd queue. Like most Adam Sandler flicks, it was just divertingly stupid enough to play in background while we exercised and did paperwork. Though, also as usual, there were two or three rock-you-back moments. Like when the paranoid conspiracy theory guy explains what really happened in Dealey Plaza, November 1963:

"They altered the Zapruder film to frame Lee Harvey Oswald. JFK shot first!"

Whaaaaa? I dropped my papers and guffawed. An involuntary spasm. 

And I pondered --

== -- the roots of humor ==

Innumerable have been the attempts to theorize what makes things funny. My own notion builds upon earlier insights.

The best humor has shock value, made more delicious by the shame/guilt of laughing harmlessly at something so awful. Example, we watched the wonderful 1960s flick The Great Race, last night and adored Jack Lemmon's campy, hammy "Professor Fate," simultaneously rooting for the villain to achieve his next, slapstick comeuppance... and... well.. actually rooting for him

But jokes are another matter. What stands out is how the joke assertion is entirely logical within its own framing, tempting a fast-reacting part of your brain with "that's logical; why did I never think of that before?" ...

...while the much slower grownup brain takes several extra milliseconds, flails and sputters, refutes the assertion, then surrenders in a bark of laughter. For more on the origins of humor, see Ha! The Science of When We Laugh and Why, by Scott Weems.

I think I have plenty of funny stuff in my newly finished sci fi comedy! And so far, no publisher offers. Ah well. Your loss.

Speaking of which, Seth MacFarlane is interviewed about his new science fiction show “The Orville.” And dang, he is part of the revolution against dystopia addiction.  Can’t help liking this guy. Tempts me to re-attach my cable.

== A Hugo nominee, for sure ==

I mean it, consider this genuinely sci-fi-ish piece for nomination in the short dramatic subject category. Incredibly fun and tightly edited to match the wonderfully apropos music, with themes that are simultaneously sexy and feminist.

I'm talking about this homage to Diana Rigg (Mrs. Emma Peel) weaving images with Cake’s great song ‘Long Jacket.’ It reminds me of everything we adored about her, back in the 1960s. Rigg's predecessor on The Avengers was the first female character who fought and spied and kicked-butt on screen -- a breakthrough moment that led to Xena, Buffy and Gal Gadot. But for most of us, it was Emma Peel who pioneered the wave of kick-ass heroines.  

And yes, someday you should watch a few episodes of The Avengers.  We cavemen did have a few way-cool things, way back then.

== I promised my reaction to Bladerunner 2049... == 

Spoilers are present!  Overall, a terrifically enjoyable and top notch film! Though maybe a hair's breadth flawed and below utter classic.

Ambience and music -- grade A.  Not quite A+.  Oh, the visuals and depressing urban scenery were cranked up effectively and the music was excellent.  It just didn't rock me back quite as much as Scott & Vangelis did, way back when. Likewise, the (spoiler) final scene with Joe lying back on the steps? The music intentially recalled the death scene of Roy the Replicant, Rutger Hauer's character in the original, who stole the show in one of the 10 best individual scenes in all of cinema history... and I'd have liked to tweak that scene with Mr. Villaneuve. I think we could have done slightly better.

Don't get me wrong!  I meant that grade of A!

Acting? Grade A throughout! I am miffed that the five actors who deserved to appear below the film title -- all of them women in a voluptuously female-centered film -- did not appear that prominently.  You expect and get a lot from Gosling and Ford. Those women made the film, though.  (Seriously, Gosling is good enough we didn't need so many long reaction takes. A few seconds from each one and we'd have saved 15 minutes. Trust your actor.)

Plot? Oy. Villaneuve, Fancher & Green had a tough job. They can be forgiven for bending a bit too hard on homage-ing the earlier Bladerunner. (Though it was great seeing Olmos as Gaff!) Less would have been better.  

Likewise, have we had enough of the chosen-one child thing, yet? Jiminy. And what kind of people would consign their chosen-one to that orphanage? And why don't we see the new slave race at work, being exploited? And with all that free labor, why isn't this world rich? And I could go on. And on. Seriously, the fact that I'm not used as a plot consultant more often than I am is ... well... a tragedy for you film lovers!  ;-)

And yet, well, they had a tough job and they obviously worked very hard to make a logical path. Plot grade B+. 
  
I respect these folks. But give those fine actresses better billing.

== Valerian ==

Oh, we also watched Luc Besson's mostly French (with American actors) production (with Chinese funding), Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, an adaptation of the classic French graphic novels, Valerian & Laureline. And like all Besson films, it is filled with light and joy and fun and hope.  Like Spielberg, Besson refuses to buy into the dystopia cheat! As in The Fifth Element, humanity is shown at least a bit better than we presently are, but with dangerous faults. 

Each individual scene conveys Besson's energy, color and entertaining verve. Again, I wish these fellows would consult someone about stitching it together in a cohesive story arc and plot.

== Miscellaneous updates == 

El Comics: Here’s a pretty good web-comic, nicely paced with a heavy but bearable moral. Of course, the fact that we’re a people who would create tales like these… (See my earlier roundup of Science Fictional webcomics.)

The Saskatchewan Center for Science and Religion invites submissions of paper proposals for its inaugural conference on “Spiritualities of Human Enhancement and Artificial Intelligence.”

All you ambitious would be writers with a manuscript in process… Alex Bear - talented literary heir to both the (Greg) Bear and (Poul/Karen/Astrid) Anderson legacies -  is also a dynamo editor. Here is a link to Alex’s skilled fiction editing service. 

A worthy cause if you can help! Author Lezli Robyn, on Shahid Mahmud’s staff at the Science Fiction publishing house Arc Manor has a rare eye disease which is progressive and she is now legally blind...and her eyesight is getting worse every year. If you have a monthly tithing and are looking for something worthy within our “tribe,” have a look at her fundraiser. See When Parallel Lines Meet, her recent collaboration with Mike Resnick. 


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Taxation and failed strategies. And how sane conservatives could pull this off.

Jennifer Rubin has long been one of the conservative columnists who spoke up for a politics of adult negotiation. Yes, she made excuses - sometimes infuriating ones - for the Bush-Boehner era.  But she is capable of seeing what’s happened to the American Right, and she's among the first to call upon the remaining adults in US conservatism to stand up. To avow that there is something worth saving in the movement - a voice and perspective we badly need in the national conversation. But that 'something' will not be saved in, or by, the Republican Party.

“The GOP, I think, is kaput. The real question is what sprouts up to fill some of that space, the ground occupied by those who favor reform conservatism; responsible internationalism; free trade and sensible immigration; tolerance and the rule of law; and market economics with an ample safety net. I don’t have the answer. I only know it cannot be the GOP.”

Alas, any move to revive adult conservatism will draw fury from the Murdoch Clan and Fox News… and behind them Putin and the Saudis, the Mercers and Clear Channel radio shock jocks. DOminionist apocalypse-seekers and heck, the entire Confederacy.

Is this why Senators Flake and Corker announced they won’t run for re-election? To free themselves for this battle? Is the prospect daunting for Collins, Murkowski and anyone else pondering their political future? Plus all those on whom the Murdochs have blackmail goods?

Way back in 2008 I published a look into the past — “Can We Perform Another 'Miracle of 1947’?” — which told the story of a similar crisis, long ago, when it was the Democrats' turn to choose country and future over their dogmatic wing. 

Dear Jennifer Rubin, David Brooks, John McCain and all the rest of you out there who want desperately to save something of the soul (and effective usefulness) of American conservatism… may I recommend you have a look? 

Oh, but then the rest of you will see I published "the Miracle of 1947" way back in 2008 - and realize how long this day has been coming. This is now Phase 8 of the Civil War. And alas,  the rest of us are tired of waiting. 

== The taxation Imbroglio ==

Lowering corporate taxes will not benefit the broader economy: Nick Hanauer is one of the smart, tech billionaires who get it... that the restoration of feudalism will only lead to revolution. On the other hand investment in R&D and in infrastructure and middle class wages will spur economic growth. The Tax Bill might have been about those things, but instead they chose feudalism.

This article's deceitful interviewer ignores that: 
(1) Carter unleashed Volcker to cure the economy of stagflation and that got the economy rolling again, and 
(2) Reagan retreated from the 28% rate a year later, and 
(3) going back 70 years, only one tax cut (JFK’s) actually correlated with increased rates of growth. All others led to declines. 

A careful Bloomberg analysis of the Tax Bill shows that it will very likely slash Donald Trump's own taxes by 2/3 or more! The biggest reason is abolishment of the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), that ensures the rich pay at least something, when they have a year with huge income but also many gimmicks and dodges. 

Eliminating the AMT and the Inheritance Tax are the core goals desperately wanted by Republican donors, who arm-twist GOP congressmen to pass what their constituents already hate. (Which explains why Darrell Issa, the richest man in the House, is demurring while his fellow CA GOP Reps are caving in, even though the bill savages California.)

Consumers lose chance to sue banks in win for Wall Street. Um, this is “populism? Take the reversal of Net Neutrality and the gutting of the CFPB and the ending of restrictions on K Street lobbyists, and you get the truth about "draining the swamp."  They are draining their cesspits into our aquifer and expanding the swamp.

== And you’re surprised? ==

Dig it. Supply Side predictions of tax cuts erasing deficits have never come true. 

Not once, ever, even remotely.

But the “opposite happened” after every single tax cut for the rich -- no "growth" of Main Street, but instead inflated asset bubbles like stocks and the 2007 housing bubble, that always burst. But very little investment in productivity that “supply side” is supposed to stimulate. These patterns were known 250 years ago! Adam Smith rightly blamed asset bubbles on a bloated, rentier aristocracy.  Aristocrats who do not invest in productive capacity but in passive rent-seeking.

While you pay full rates on income earned by the sweat of your brow, passive income is taxed at ever-lower rates, every time the GOP takes power. Do read Adam Smith. He describes this - not socialism - as the disease that wrecks all competitive markets.

Fox anchors never explain why the top 1% pays the most taxes, despite their kinds of income being taxed at far lower rates than your hard-earned income. The reason is simple. They have all the money! 

== Our (ongoing) Civil War ==

Absolutely stunning: Trump's Chief of Staff John Kelly claims Civil War caused by "lack of compromise." In fact, Lincoln offered compromise after compromise. Southern leaders sent not one delegation to find out Lincoln's intentions. 

Yes, Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence does assert that oaths of union can only be broken, but only as a last resort, after everything else has been tried.

As Ben Franklin and the Founders did try, sending repeated delegations to the King & Parliament. Royal refusal to compromise led to that breakup.

Note: Jeff Davis and his peers had sworn "undying and eternal allegiance" to the United States, repeatedly and continuously, until the very moment that an election went a way they didn't like, whereupon they blithely broke solemn oaths, because the secession documents declared refusal ever to even talk compromise over slavery. There's no better example of treason in any dictionary... 

...or there wasn't, till the GOP became a New Confederacy, selling America to Murdochs and the Kremlin.

Refusal to compromise? Choke-sputter. Republicans fired Newt Gingrich for daring to negotiate Welfare Reform and the Budget Act with Bill Clinton, in 1995. They made Dennis "friend to boys" Hastert the head of the whole GOP for 6 years, and his "Hastert Rule" consisted of the following rigid anti-compromise declaration: "No Republican is allowed ever to negotiate with a Democrat, ever, even in the national interest."

You dare to bring up... compromise???

"I would tell you that Robert E. Lee was an honorable man," Kelly said. "He was a man that gave up his country to fight for his state, which 150 years ago was more important than country. It was always loyalty to state first back in those days. Now it's different today. But the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War, and men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had made them stand."

Bull. That is oft-claimed and utterly false. Jefferson Davis administered the oath to cadets at West Point many times, and to Congress! An oath only to the United States of America. Historians find almost no oaths to individual states. Robert E. Lee never swore one to Virginia, but he did many times to the USA.

I often say that the US Military Officer Corps is the third best-educated clade in American life, after professors and medical doctors, and it's generally (so to speak) true!  It's why that fact-centered community is now under attack by the mad right as "deep state" enemies... along with all other fact-using professions.  I had vested real hope in this.  And in Kelly.

But the stunning degree of historical ignorance that he displayed was... disturbing.