Wednesday, January 16, 2019

I'm doing this early

Nancy Pelosi has written a letter to Trump asking him to either postpone the State of the Union Address (currently scheduled for January 29), or deliver a report on the State of the Union in writing, as it used to be done before the 20th century. Given my longstanding anti-SOTU address stance,1 I really hope he goes with the latter. The live address is one presidential norm that needs to be broken.

1 For example, this

Republicans gain nothing by taking action against Steve King

I don't understand the political calculus that caused Republicans to suddenly turn on Steve "not Stephen" King. King has been openly racist for his entire career, and just a couple of months ago many of the same people now condemning him were helping him get reelected. I guess it is good that at least some people in the party now realize that not condemning King will solidify their reputation as a party of racists, which means losing votes in an increasingly diversifying electorate. But whatever they do with King, it has zero chance of improving their image on race issues as long as Donald Trump is the effective party leader.

I don't think condemning King and stripping him of his committee assignments buys them anything as long as they are unwilling to go after Trump when he does similar things.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Hard Brexit (or Brexiting is Hard)

I still think the most likely outcome is a last-minute agreement between the UK and EU to extend the late-March Brexit deadline, but I think we are down to either that or a hard Brexit as the only remaining possibilities.

I don't think there is enough time to negotiate a new soft Brexit deal and get it ratified, assuming that the EU is even interested in entertaining a new deal. How long would it take to organize from scratch and hold a second Brexit referendum? Could the proposal to hold a second referendum even get through Parliament?

I don't know much about British politics, but I do understand that both negotiations over every aspect of an economy and organizing a national vote take time. There are only 10.5 weeks until March 29, 2019. From my outsider perspective, it looks like an extension or a no-deal exit is all that is left.

That will get their attention

There have been a lot of stories of unpaid TSA officers calling in sick or not showing up for work while they are not being paid. The airline system can limp along with longer delays and partially closed terminals. What I want to know is when will the air traffic controls (currently only being paid in donated pizza) stop showing up. When that happens, everything will ground to a halt.

When the airline system stops, it will be like an bomb going off in the economy. There will be all the economic damage from disrupted travel: canceled vacations hitting the tourism industry hard, business meetings won't happen, etc. it will also affect shipping, which will hammer both online retailers, and ultimately all retailers when their supply chains get disrupted. It is hard to fathom just how far the ripples of the end of mass air travel will have, but they will be big and far-reaching.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Does anyone get a salary of $10 million or higher?

While I'm glad that AOC's proposal has gotten people to seriously talk about raising taxes on the higher brackets, the 70% figure that everyone is fixating on is a little misleading. I mean, her 70% rate would apply to taxable income over $10 million. Does anyone in the country get a salary of $10 million per year? People who make that much money mostly get it through capital gains, which are not taxed like regular income is. Even if her high bracket tax were passed right now, I really wonder if there would be any actual person who would pay the 70% rate.

For example, according to this list from two years ago, the highest paid executive in the U.S. the prior year (2016) was Marc Lore of Walmart. While Lore's total compensation was almost $237 million, his salary was only $346,154 per year, with a $1.055 million bonus (the rest was almost entirely "acquisition awards" which seem to be capital gains realized from Walmart's acquisition of I may be wrong, but I don't think that Lore would have met the $10 million threshold for the 70% bracket.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Republican Principles

I know all the Resisters are praying to their nonexistent gods for the health of the notorious RBG, and it is scary! But look at the silver lining. She just has to hold on for the rest of 2019. If Ginsburg dies or otherwise has to leave the court in the last year of Trump's term the Republicans are on record as being true believers in the so-called "Biden Rule" which states that no vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee may occur in the final year of a presidential term. There's no chance they would change their mind about such a deeply held principle just because the bullshit rule doesn't help their side this time around, right?

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Demented president tug-o-war

I'm not a fan of either Erdogan or Bolton, but it is entertaining to watch them taking turns manipulating Trump into doing what they want him to do in Syria.

Or it would be if the consequences of their tug-o-war couldn't get people killed.

Saturday, January 05, 2019

That election was a long time ago

While I have little doubt that Venezuela’s May 20, 2018 election was a fraud, why did it take these thirteen nations almost eight months to say so?

Also, Maduro “is set to be inaugurated [for his second term] next week”? And I thought the U.S. had an unreasonably long lame duck period!

Friday, January 04, 2019

How many passports does this guy have?

What is the deal with Paul Whelan, the "American" who was arrested in Russia on espionage charges this week? I put American in scare-quotes because, although he is an American citizen, his is also apparently a citizen of Britain, Ireland, and, because he was born in Canada, he probably also has Canadian citizenship.

(partially via Memeorandum)

Trump will end the shutdown only if he hears that it affects something he cares about

As I have been saying, to end the shutdown Democrats might just need to tell the President that it has closed the immigration courts so deportation cases have stopped. But I didn't think about the e-verify system:

The shutdown is likely to last a long time because Trump doesn't see any negative effects that he cares about. For a brief time, it looked like the shutdown might affect the cash flow at one of his hotels, but Trump has apparently moved around some money so that the National Park Service-run site on his property can reopen with federal funds. So now he's back to not caring about the damage this is causing. If Democrats point out how the shutdown is letting scary foreigners stay in the U.S., he might see things differently.

Pelosi's anti-fence crusade

Sarah Huckabee Sanders used the idiotic "if you are opposed to this wall you must be against every wall or fence on the planet" argument.

Which means I have to post about it, I guess. This is becoming my white whale.