Monday, December 05, 2016

The Weekly Wrangle

With the first December blog post roundup, the Texas Progressive Alliance plans to send half its members to Mexico unless it gets a tax break.

Off the Kuff takes a deeper look at the judicial races in Harris County to get a better sense of the partisan mix this year.

Libby Shaw at Daily Kos notes that Trump’s promise to drain the swamp by packing it with billionaires, bigots, homophobes, Islamaphobes, climate change deniers and white supremacists is not helpful to his working class voters. In fact, with this crew in place, Trump promises to stiff his base. Welcome to Trump’s United States of Texas.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is still processing Donald Trump, the racist, misogynistic con man as president-'elect' while Greg Abbott acts out the white nationalist agenda here in Texas.

Socratic Gadfly, in the third of a series of posts on the Jill Stein presidential vote recount snarks on Greg Palast while taking a serious look at recount and Green Party issues.

In evaluating the Trump Cabinet picks to date, PDiddie at Brains and Eggs discovered there was also a much deeper hole than initially perceived that the Democrats have dug themselves into ... and must dig their own way out of.

The Lewisville Texan Journal reports that Denton County's former elections adminstrator has been rehired as their new one, after holding the same post in Tarrant County and following the retirement of the current one, prompted by a slew of voting irregularities there.

Dos Centavos advances an upcoming panel discussion at Rice University on the evolving nature of Mexico-US business relations under the Trump administration.

Texas Freedom Network assembles the quotes of the week from around the state.

Neil at All People Have Value says he does whatever graffiti instructs him to do. APHV is part of


And here are some posts of interest from other Texas news outlets.

The Dallas News hears that Louie Gohmert is still a little raw after getting scalded about his balcony barbecue operation.

The SAEN reports that Bexar County Democrats want their new party chair, Manuel Medina,  to run for mayor of San Antone.  (Clue to Texas Dems: this might be the star you're looking for.  He's got all the $$$ sources, situational ethics, and identity politics you like to see in your candidates.)

Grits for Breakfast indicates that the first Waco Twin Peaks biker trial is slated to begin in January, and also complains about the falsehoods associated with crime being reported as fact.

Lawflog laughingly noted the TABC officials who served liquor illegally at their recent conclave.

The Texas Election Law Blog comments on vote "fraud" and recounts in our post-truth atmosphere.

The TSTA Blog highlights the problems with private school vouchers.

The WAWG Blog answers the question: "Why privatize Social Security?"

The Texas Living Waters Project asks what steps your utility is taking to conserve water.

Katie Singh lists some Texas organizations that could use your support.

BeyondBONES asks for your assistance in helping the scientists of tomorrow.

And CultureMap Houston lists some Hill Country Christmas holiday events in Gruene, Fredericksburg, Johnson City, and Wimberley.

Friday, December 02, 2016

From bad to worse for Democrats

Before we run down the Donkeys' latest self-inflicted wounds, let's review the newest plates and stemware in the Cabinet.

-- We've covered Beauregard, Mad Dog, Flynn, Pompeo, and Mnuchin already; some of the other appointees, like Nikki Haley, aren't really worthy of their own post (a fuller list of Trumpeteers, picked and rumored, is here).  The last big one, Secretary of State, is still being juggled by President-elect Barking Yam, with Mitt Romney, David Petraeus, and Rudy Giuliani starring as the bowling pins (although there is at least one more).  There's a poll you can take here, and Cypher Lewandowski, Trump's former mole at CNN, floated Jon Huntsman and refloated John Bolton.

-- As if Democrats weren't in deep enough shit of their own excretion as it is ...

Senator Heidi Heitkamp, Democrat of North Dakota, is paying a visit to Trump Tower on Friday, and Senator Chuck E. Schumer of New York, the incoming minority leader, is having heart palpitations.

“I appreciate the president-elect inviting me for a meeting. ... Whatever job I do, I hope to work with the president-elect and all of my colleagues in Congress on both sides of the aisle to best support my state.”

To Democrats, that last line can mean two things, neither of them good. If she is in line for an administration job, her Senate seat would turn Republican. If not, she seems to be indicating she is a possible vote for the Trump agenda.

And no matter what, her seat is up in 2018 — in a state that went to Trump with 62 percent of the vote.

... and ...

The decision by Gov. Jerry Brown of California to name Representative Xavier Becerra to be the state’s attorney general has set off another round of finger-pointing among Democrats — and opened a crucial post in the Trump era.

Becerra, like Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland before him and former Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois (now the mayor of Chicago) before them, had risen as far as he could in the House leadership. Becerra faced a blockade of older members of Congress, like Representatives Nancy Pelosi, Steny H. Hoyer, and James E. Clyburn, in the top ranks.

Unlike Van Hollen, who was elected to the Senate last month, Becerra opted against running for his state’s open Senate seat, but he has found his own way to statewide office.

Becerra was in line for a huge consolation prize in the House, however. The veteran Representative Sander M. Levin of Michigan had just stepped aside as the ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee — and he recommended the telegenic Californian for the post.

That would have put Becerra on the front lines as Trump tries to repeal the Affordable Care Act, cut taxes, overhaul the tax code and possibly convert Medicare into a system that offers fixed sums to seniors to buy private health plans.

Instead, it looks as if that role will go to Representative Richard E. Neal of Massachusetts, who may be less camera ready but is actually better versed on the intricacies of tax policy.

This is the problem associated with re-electing Pelosi minority leader; there is a blockage that exists because the Old Guard won't give way to the Young Turks, and so ego fills another vacuum elsewhere.  That's no way to build a bench.

-- In another signal to progressives that they should just go away, there's a smear campaign being waged against Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, who is -- despite the puzzling and incorrect first sentence below -- in a real battle with Howard Dean for the right to chair the DNC.  Update (12/3): Dean's sudden pullout only makes the contest murkier.  Update II (12/4): Glenn Greenwald explains precisely how the smear makes the DC inside game so repugnant.

So far Representative Keith Ellison’s drive to be the next Democratic National Committee chairman has gone swimmingly, with no strong competition in sight.

But CNN went where other outlets have feared to tread, printing old writings of Mr. Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, in defense of the anti-Semitic Nation of Islam and other contentious black activists.


Ellison long ago renounced his associations with the Nation of Islam, and has had Jewish groups defend him. But the report could prove troublesome, to say the least.

The Anti-Defamation League, which has been mildly supportive, reacted strongly.

“Ellison’s remarks are both deeply disturbing and disqualifying. His words imply that U.S. foreign policy is based on religiously or national origin-based special interests rather than simply on America’s best interests. Additionally, whether intentional or not, his words raise the specter of age-old stereotypes about Jewish control of our government, a poisonous myth that may persist in parts of the world where intolerance thrives, but that has no place in open societies like the U.S. These comments sharply contrast with the Democratic National Committee platform position, which states: ‘A strong and secure Israel is vital to the United States because we share overarching strategic interests and the common values of democracy, equality, tolerance and pluralism.’ ”

Shades of the over-reaction to Bernie Sanders' writing about rape.  This is a 'damned if they do or don't' conundrum with respect to Ellison's bid for chair: it will be "Muzlins eevil" all day and all night from the right if they pick him, and f'n Dean and his corporate lobbyist baggage killing them with whatever is left of the left base if they don't.  Perhaps there will be room for a consolidation candidate like SC Dem party chairman Jamie Harrison to break through, but we won't know for sure until next year, when the election is held.

Part of the liberal electorate's continuing angst has to be the slow realization that it is a tremendous waste of time to keep holding on with a decrepit political party that cannot figure out how to beat the sorriest lot of Republicans since Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Abu Gonzalez, etc., ad nauseum.  Future episodes of The Blame Game aren't going to improve this.

Remember all those people who said the GOP was imploding?  They must be miserable.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

And starring Steve Mnuchin as Hank Paulson

The FNG at the Treasury Department does not seem to be very good at math (or perhaps it's speaking truth he's bad at).

Newly designated for Treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin told CNBC on Wednesday that Donald Trump's tax plan would contain "no reduction" in taxes for the rich. Yet an independent analysis of the president-elect's plan suggests that most of the benefits would, in fact, go to the top earners.

Shortly after confirming that he had been chosen for the role of Treasury secretary, Mnuchin told CNBC that the president-elect's cap on itemized deductions would offset all the other cuts high earners would receive.

"There will be no absolute tax cut for the upper class," Mnuchin said. "Any tax cuts we have for the upper class will be offset by less deductions that pay for it. "

But the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center said Mnuchin's comments don't square with Trump's plan. In an analysis that included the deduction caps, which include benefits from charitable giving and mortgages, the center found that those changes aren't large enough to offset lower income tax and capital gains rates for the top earners.

A dive into the numbers follows, and then this.

That's not to say that Trump's plan won't stimulate the economy or investment. And there is no doubt that Trump's plan lowers taxes for almost every type of taxpayer in America.

But Mnuchin may have overstepped the law of numbers when he said the wealthy will get no tax break.

Let's overlook that 'draining the swamp' campaign promise; I thought rich guys were supposed to be smart?  Since CNBC isn't on the WaPo list of fake news sites, and certainly can't be condemned as 'librul mediuh", I wonder when the Republicans will re-start the whining about budget deficits.  I'd put the over/under at somewhere between two years and four years, depending on how the 2018 midterms go for them.

Seeking Alpha also references the across-the-board tax cuts, as well as "killing many aspects" of Dodd-Frank and a maximum corporate tax rate of 15%.  I'm no economist but that scenario is a guaranteed money-loser.  Mnuchin made a shitpile of profit cleaning up after the Great Recession of 2008, specifically with his purchase of a California bank that earned the moniker 'foreclosure machine', so it stands to reason that he's the kind of guy who wants to go back to the days of the arbitrage gunslingers.

Let's schedule a watch party for Trump, Mnuchin, and some of their sycophants among the Wall Street gang to see Too Big to Fail and The Big Short.  I'll pop the corn.

Update: This is that guy.