Sarah Palin needles Trump over crony capitalism in his Carrier deal


Some things are harder to swallow than a Big GulpFacebook

❝ Sarah Palin, the Republican party’s 2008 vice-presidential cax candidate, warned Donald Trump against “crony capitalism” in the wake of Thursday’s deal to use tax incentives to keep 800 jobs at a Carrier Corp. factory in Indianapolis from moving to Mexico.

“When government steps in arbitrarily with individual subsidies, favoring one business over others, it sets inconsistent, unfair, illogical precedent. Meanwhile, the invisible hand that best orchestrates a free people’s free enterprise system gets amputated. Then, special interests creep in and manipulate markets,” she wrote on the Young Conservatives website, posted Friday. “Republicans oppose this, remember? Instead, we support competition on a level playing field, remember? Because we know special interest crony capitalism is one big fail.”

❝ President-elect Donald Trump and Vice-President-elect Mike Pence, who is still the governor of Indiana, visited the Carrier factory Thursday after Indiana gave parent United Technologies $7 million worth of tax breaks over 10 years to keep the factory open. Several hundred jobs will still be eliminated…

“Cajole only chosen ones on Main St or Wall St and watch lines stretch from Washington to Alaska full of businesses threatening to bail unless taxpayers pony up,” she concluded. “The lines strangle competition and really, really, dispiritingly screw with workers’ lives.”

While Aunt Sarah rambles on with the usual Reagan rant about needing tax giveaways for all corporations – neither TeaPublicans like Palin nor the financial press seem to make anything of the fact that Trump is also a shareholder invested in UTX, United Technologies.

He’s giving himself the tax breaks, after all.

Frightened by Donald Trump? Understand the lying lobbyists he fronts for…

Click to watch the Channel 4 report on a fake news producer

❝ Yes, Donald Trump’s politics are incoherent. But those who surround him know just what they want, and his lack of clarity enhances their power. To understand what is coming, we need to understand who they are. I know all too well, because I have spent the past 15 years fighting them.

❝ Over this time, I have watched as tobacco, coal, oil, chemicals and biotech companies have poured billions of dollars into an international misinformation machine composed of thinktanks, bloggers and fake citizens’ groups. Its purpose is to portray the interests of billionaires as the interests of the common people, to wage war against trade unions and beat down attempts to regulate business and tax the very rich. Now the people who helped run this machine are shaping the government.

❝ I first encountered the machine when writing about climate change. The fury and loathing directed at climate scientists and campaigners seemed incomprehensible until I realised they were fake: the hatred had been paid for. The bloggers and institutes whipping up this anger were funded by oil and coal companies.

Among those I clashed with was Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute…The CEI calls itself a thinktank, but looks to me like a corporate lobbying group. It is not transparent about its funding, but we now know it has received $2m from ExxonMobil, more than $4m from a group called the Donors Trust (which represents various corporations and billionaires), $800,000 from groups set up by the tycoons Charles and David Koch, and substantial sums from coal, tobacco and pharmaceutical companies…

❝ It has sought to eliminate funding for environmental education, lobbied against the Endangered Species Act, harried climate scientists and campaigned in favour of mountaintop removal by coal companies. In 2004, Ebell sent a memo to one of George W Bush’s staffers calling for the head of the Environmental Protection Agency to be sacked. Where is Ebell now? Oh – leading Trump’s transition team for the Environmental Protection Agency…

❝ I could fill this newspaper with the names of Trump staffers who have emerged from such groups: people such as Doug Domenech, from the Texas Public Policy Foundation, funded among others by the Koch brothers, Exxon and the Donors Trust; Barry Bennett, whose Alliance for America’s Future (now called One Nation) refused to disclose its donors when challenged; and Thomas Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance, funded by Exxon and others. This is to say nothing of Trump’s own crashing conflicts of interest…

❝ As usual, the left and centre (myself included) are beating ourselves up about where we went wrong. There are plenty of answers, but one of them is that we have simply been outspent. Not by a little, but by orders of magnitude. A few billion dollars spent on persuasion buys you all the politics you want. Genuine campaigners, working in their free time, simply cannot match a professional network staffed by thousands of well-paid, unscrupulous people.

You cannot confront a power until you know what it is. Our first task in this struggle is to understand what we face. Only then can we work out what to do.

RTFA for much more detail.

George Monbiot’s article should lead more concerned citizens to understand the sort of corporate creeps we face on everyday issues. More important – I think – it is an additional challenge to professional journalists and editors to do their homework. Stick to the truth. It will set you free.

Thanks, Martyn

USA!, USA!, becoming more diverse


Click through to the article

Farmland outside a Midwestern city turns into a bedroom enclave of commuting urban professionals. A handful of non-white people move to Dubuque, Iowa. Already diverse cities become increasingly mixed with immigrants from Asia, Africa and Latin America.

These are just some of the ways diversity is increasing in U.S. communities.

To quantify how America is changing, we used the diversity index, which measures the chance that two people chosen at random will not be the same race and ethnicity. A high score means a county has people of many races and ethnicities, while a low score means the community is made up of a single dominant group.

Click through to the article and maps. Plural. While there is an all-inclusive graphic that shunts you through a quasi-3D map, individual maps focus on each of the four trends examined.

Get used to it, folks. Trump voters probably won’t. I imagine the intellectually-curious folks who pass through here won’t have any trouble with change.

The Godfather of fake news can’t fool the Left – but, it’s red meat for Trump Chumps

faux-news

❝ A lot of fake and misleading news stories were shared across social media during the election. One that got a lot of traffic had this headline: “FBI Agent Suspected In Hillary Email Leaks Found Dead In Apparent Murder-Suicide.” The story is completely false, but it was shared on Facebook over half a million times.

We wondered who was behind that story and why it was written. It appeared on a site that had the look and feel of a local newspaper. Denverguardian.com even had the local weather. But it had only one news story — the fake one.

We tried to look up who owned it and hit a wall. The site was registered anonymously. So we brought in some professional help…

From the geek side of the question, the track-down is interesting.

❝ Jestin Coler is a soft-spoken 40-year-old with a wife and two kids. He says he got into fake news around 2013 to highlight the extremism of the white nationalist alt-right…

He was amazed at how quickly fake news could spread and how easily people believe it. He wrote one fake story for NationalReport.net about how customers in Colorado marijuana shops were using food stamps to buy pot.

“What that turned into was a state representative in the House in Colorado proposing actual legislation to prevent people from using their food stamps to buy marijuana based on something that had just never happened…”

❝ During the run-up to the presidential election, fake news really took off. “It was just anybody with a blog can get on there and find a big, huge Facebook group of kind of rabid Trump supporters just waiting to eat up this red meat that they’re about to get served,” Coler says. “It caused an explosion in the number of sites. I mean, my gosh, the number of just fake accounts on Facebook exploded during the Trump election.”

❝ Coler says his writers have tried to write fake news for liberals — but they just never take the bait.

Coler said that Lefties reading fake news generally debunk the story by the 2nd comment. Har.

RTFA. It’s a cautionary tale. Too bad the incompetents so often working as let’s-pretend journalists for the news-as-entertainment media don’t get it. Nor do the creeps in Fox Noise copycats. If fake news fits their ideology it doesn’t require fact-checking.

Court strikes down Wisconsin Republicans’ crooked redistricting – let’s do this nationwide!

❝ With the 2016 election, Donald Trump became the first Republican presidential candidate to win Wisconsin in nearly 30 years and Republicans took control of nearly two-thirds of the Legislature, including their largest majority in the Assembly since 1957, despite a roughly even split of votes between Democrats and Republicans in statewide races.

But now a federal court may undo the redistricting that aided Republican gains in recent years with one ruling.

On Monday, a federal court overturned Wisconsin’s Republican-drawn legislative maps as an “unconstitutional gerrymander” that likely played a major factor in the party’s disproportionate electoral success.

❝ A three-judge panel…ruled that the Republican plan was an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander…“We find that Act 43 was intended to burden the representational rights of Democratic voters throughout the decennial period by impeding their ability to translate their votes into legislative seats,” wrote federal appeals court senior judge Kenneth Ripple, in an 116-page decision. “Moreover, as demonstrated by the results of the 2012 and 2014 elections, among other evidence, we conclude that Act 43 has had its intended effect.”

Ripple, a Ronald Reagan appointee, continued: “Finally, we find that the discriminatory effect is not explained by the political geography of Wisconsin nor is it justified by a legitimate state interest. Consequently, Act 43 constitutes an unconstitutional political gerrymander.”

Sensible Western nations have taken away the opportunity for corrupt politicians to steer state elections into an undemocratic ambush. Not really as surprising as the James Gang showing up on payday to collect everyone’s money. Historically, both the two parties we’re generally allowed have been guilty of the same deceit one time or another; so, the Dems haven’t a boatload of motivation. Trouble is as economic inequality grows to a pointed failure of opportunity sectarian pressures grow. Populism drags its old lies on board the downbound train.

Civics-minded organizations like the ACLU fight to restore the spirit of democracy that still stands in constitutional law as One Person, One Vote. Perhaps they and their peers can win it all for all of us? I’d feel safer if folks construct a political movement that lives beyond a single issue and brings this nation back to principles over slogans, a broader economy over 1930’s-style exploitation.

Trump didn’t win a majority of voters — lost the economic divide ~2 to 1

❝ In the modern era of presidential politics, no candidate has ever won the popular vote by more than Hillary Clinton did this year, yet still managed to lose the electoral college. In that sense, 2016 was a historic split: Donald Trump won the presidency by as much as 74 electoral votes (depending on how Michigan ends up) while losing the nationwide vote to Clinton by 2 million votes and counting.

❝ But there’s another divide exposed by the election, which researchers at the Brookings Institution recently discovered as they sifted the election returns. It has no bearing on the election outcome, but it tells us something important about the state of the country and its politics moving forward.

The divide is economic, and it is massive. According to the Brookings analysis, the less-than-500 counties that Clinton won nationwide combined to generate 64 percent of America’s economic activity in 2015. The more-than-2,600 counties that Trump won combined to generate 36 percent of the country’s economic activity last year.

Clinton, in other words, carried nearly two-thirds of the American economy

❝ This appears to be unprecedented, in the era of modern economic statistics, for a losing presidential candidate. The last candidate to win the popular vote but lose the electoral college, Democrat Al Gore in 2000, won counties that generated about 54 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, the Brookings researchers calculated. That’s true even though Gore won more than 100 more counties in 2000 than Clinton did in 2016.

In between those elections, U.S. economic activity has grown increasingly concentrated in large, “superstar” metro areas, such as Silicon Valley and New York.

But it’s not the case that the counties Clinton won have grown richer at the expense of the rest of the country — they represent about the same share of the economy today as they did in 2000. Instead, it appears that, compared to Gore, Clinton was much more successful in winning over the most successful counties in a geographically unbalanced economy…

“This is a picture of a very polarized and increasingly concentrated economy,” said Mark Muro, the policy director at the Brookings metro program, “with the Democratic base aligning more to that more concentrated modern economy, but a lot of votes and anger to be had in the rest of the country.”

RTFA for details, methods of research. My first response in terms of political economy is that Trump voters have been represented for decades by conservatives – Republicans or Democrats – who don’t care a rat’s ass about the human condition in their districts. They’re fixated on the same old rusty dusty economics that conservatives have blathered about forever in the GOUSA. Balanced budgets are more important than schools, doing things the way grandpa did is more important than leading the way to a new economy.

Humbug for losers – who behave just as they believe they should. Obedient, accept lies and deceit as gospel truth. Ignore hard data.

Gun control laws actually work – both ways, unfortunately

In this week’s obvious news, laws that allow people to kill other people with guns have led to more people killing other people with guns. According to two new research papers, stricter firearm laws are associated with fewer firearm homicides, and the implementation of Florida’s stand-your-ground law was associated with increased firearm homicides.

These findings, released today by the JAMA Internal Medicine, may sound obvious. But since Congress has essentially withheld all funding for gun violence research for the last 20 years, large-scale studies of this sort have been few and far between. As The Atlantic reported, “In the mid-1990s, Congress declared that funding at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shouldn’t be used to advocate for gun control, and it effectively blocked funding for the study of gun violence at the agency.” Despite studies showing that gun violence is a threat to human health and safety, the CDC, a federally funded public health agency with a seven billion dollar annual budget, still withholds support from gun research. Perhaps these new findings will bolster the case for federal funding.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for chickenshit Congress-critters to act.

One paper released today, first-authored by Lois K. Lee of Harvard Medical School, examined five types of gun laws: “those that (1) curb gun trafficking, (2) strengthen background checks, (3) improve child safety, (4) ban military-style assault weapons, and (5) restrict firearms in public places and leniency in firearm carrying.” The researchers found strong evidence that laws strengthening background checks and purchase permits helped decrease gun homicide rates. Interestingly, the researchers did not find strong evidence that laws focusing on trafficking, child safety and assault weapons decreased firearm homicides. The evidence for the effects of laws regarding guns in public places was not conclusive either way. On the whole, though, they found that, “stronger gun policies were associated with decreased rates of firearm homicide, even after adjusting for demographic and sociologic factors.”

Another paper released today, also in JAMA Internal Medicine, tracked the effects of Florida’s stand-your-ground law since its implementation in 2005. This law allows a person to use deadly force instead of retreating from what they believe to be a life-threatening encounter. To conduct this research, David K. Humphreys of University of Oxford and his colleagues examined gun death data for the years leading up to 2005 and the years after, then compared them to other states’ data for the same years. They found that gun homicides increased in the years following 2005, while prior to 2005 they had remained relatively stable. The comparison states (New York, New Jersey, Ohio, and Virginia) which don’t have stand-your-ground laws, did not have similar increases, strengthening the evidence that this is a Florida trend associated with stand-your-ground laws, not part of a national trend…

Informed discussion requires sound data. When public bodies, from the Republican Party and Blue Dog Democrats to the NRA oppose the collection of any data at all they only illuminate their cowardice, their fear of law and public practice reflecting conclusions about best practices. Ideology trumps evidence quite easily when evidence collection is forbidden.

Facts, facts? — we don’t need no stinking facts!

❝ Now that the election is over, expect the GOP to start seeing how fantastic the economy has become; to a somewhat lesser extent (no false equivalency here), the Democrats will start seeing more of its weaknesses…

❝ As Rebecca Sinderbrand, Deputy national political editor at the Washington Post noted on November 15: “that must’ve been some weekend.”

This graph and brief commentary was added by Barry Ritholtz to the larger piece he blogged – about the Dangers of a Fact-Free America.

Worth reflecting upon as thoroughly as the tag I posted here.