Sunday, May 28, 2017

As Good a Quote as it Gets

Endangered GOP House Member Says It All

From Taegan Goddard's Wonderful Forum

Another Bonus Quote of the Day

“We need to have immediate classified briefings on what occurred at this meeting so that Congress can at least know as much as Russian leaders.”
— Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA), in a statement., on President Trump’s disclosure of classified information to the Russian foreign minister.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Murderer of Big Game in Africa Dies When Elephant Falls on Him

Draw Your Own Conclusions

The sport of hunting and killing big game like elephants doesn’t seem to be sport or hunting.  All that is needed is a gun and a willingness to pull the trigger.  No marksmanship required, the target is huge. 

So here is some news that will not sadden most decent people even if it involves the death of a person.  First the details on the death of a man hunting elephants in a national park who were breeding.  Great sports.

Botha was leading a group of hunters western Zimbabwe on Friday afternoon when they stumbled upon a breeding herd of elephants in Hwange National Parkthe Telegraph reported.

Startled, three elephant cows charged the group. Botha opened fire, according to News24, but a fourth elephant rammed him from the side, lifting him with her trunk. One of his fellow hunters then fired a shot. The elephant collapsed on top of Botha, killing him, News24 reported.

And here’s some background to ease anyone who is grieving.

“Theunis Botha perfected Leopard and Lion hunting safaris with hounds in Africa,” his website reads. It advertises “a passionate and professional hunting outfitter operation focused on giving his clients a unique exiting African safari experience.”

video on the website shows camouflaged hunters riding boats, trucks and small planes into the African wilderness, intense music pulsing in the background. The hunters can be seen using their rifles to fell elephants, leopards, crocodile and other animals. Photos on the page show them grinning and standing over their kills.

Now go ahead, make that check out to the NRA.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Trump to Gulf States Louisiana Mississippi and Others Who Supported Him – Screw You to the Tune of $3.5 Billion

That Will Teach You to Trust Him

The southern states, or at least the white folks in the southern states voted overwhelming for Donnie.  Now he repays them in his proposed 2018 budget.

According to summary tables provided to reporters by the White House Office of Management and Budget during an embargoed news conference on Monday, the Trump administration expects the repeal to save $272 million in 2018 by rescinding the sharing of about 35 percent of Gulf offshore revenue with Louisiana and other Gulf states. The money lost to Gulf states would total $3.56 billion through fiscal year 2027, according to the summary tables

Of course this is on top of all of the other ways in which the proposed budget takes it out on the poorer Gulf of Mexico states.  Yes they lose billions in Medicaid, nutrition assistance and the other things that keep their low income population from becoming hungry and destitute.

But not to worry.  This will free up a lot of money for tax cuts for the wealthiest of the citizens of those states.  

Gen. H. R. McMaster – Another Supposedly Honest and Decent Man Who is Corrupted by Trump

Can’t We Find At Least One Person of Integrity Here?

Everyone applauded when Trump brought in Gen. McMaster to succeed soon to be convicted felon Michael Flynn as National Security Advisor.  Everyone thought this man had integrity.  Appears not to be the case.

Gen. McMaster was in the meeting Trumpie held with his Russian pals and in which he apparently called former FBI head James Comey a nutcase and crazy.  When asked about that McMaster said this.

"I don't remember exactly what the president said, and the notes ... I do not think are a direct transcript," McMaster said when asked about the comment.

Really, that’s the best you can do?  I don’t remember?  Yes McMaster is an improvement over “lock him up Flynn”, but then anyone would be.  Maybe next time though they can get somebody who doesn’t have a convenient memory, the kind that forgets uncomfortable and inconvenient conversations.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Finally – Congressional Budget Office Exposes the Lie that Under Republican Health Care People with Pre-Existing Conditions Would Have Health Care

But Republicans Will Continue to Believe the Lie – It’s More Convenient That Way

Health care changes passed the House only because last minute changes produced a fig leaf to give cover to the lie that pre existing conditions would be covered.  The CBO has now released its report, and the fig leaf has fallen off, exposing the Republicans for what they are, dicks.

CBO and JCT expect that, as a consequence, the waivers in those states would have another effect: Community-rated premiums would rise over time, and people who are less healthy (including those with preexisting or newly acquired medical conditions) would ultimately be unable to purchase comprehensive nongroup health insurance at premiums comparable to those under current law, if they could purchase it at all—despite the additional funding that would be available under H.R. 1628 to help reduce premiums. As a result, the nongroup markets in those states would become unstable for people with higher-than-average expected health care costs. That instability would cause some people who would have been insured in the nongroup market under current law to be uninsured. 

Human skeleton posing isolated over black background vector illustration
Typical Person with Pre Existing Condition After Trumpcare Passes

Gosh, can they make it any clearer and any more devastating?  And what about the claim premiums will fall?  Sure, because what is covered will decline.

Although premiums would decline, on average, in states that chose to narrow the scope of EHBs, some people enrolled in nongroup insurance would experience substantial increases in what they would spend on health care. People living in states modifying the EHBs who used services or benefits no longer included in the EHBs would experience substantial increases in out-of-pocket spending on health care or would choose to forgo the services. Services or benefits likely to be excluded from the EHBs in some states include maternity care, mental health and substance abuse benefits, rehabilitative and habilitative services, and pediatric dental benefits. In particular, out-of-pocket spending on maternity care and mental health and substance abuse services could increase by thousands of dollars in a given year for the nongroup enrollees who would use those services.

Just wait until those Trump voters take their Trumpcare to the doctor’s office and get the bad news.  Pay up in front or go off and suffer and die.  That’s the message here.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Savor the Momment - It Doesn't Get Any Better Than This

Mike Flynn Won’t Comply With Senate Subpoena

Former national security adviser to invoke his constitutional right against self incrimination

Headline in the WSJ Online

But before there was this, from the WaPo.

Michael Flynn in 2016: Immunity ‘means you probably committed a crime’

And there’s more!!

“When you are given immunity, that means you probably committed a crime,” Flynn, then a top campaign aide to Donald Trump, said on “Meet the Press.”

That same month, then-Trump communications adviser Jason Miller said pretty much the same thing.
“Revelations” that Clinton aides “were granted immunity from prosecution in Hillary Clinton’s email scandal shows this was without a doubt a criminal scheme,” he said.

Not to be outdone, Trump himself told a rally in Wisconsin around the same time that “The reason they get immunity is because they did something wrong. If they didn’t do anything wrong, they don’t think in terms of immunity.”

“If you are not guilty of a crime,” he said, “what do you need immunity for? .”

Good News on the College Tuition Front – Private Schools Slashing Costs

Future Fiscal Discipline Badly Needed

The cost of a college education at private schools in America is a disgrace.  Either a student is lucky enough to be born into a wealthy family or they leave colleges with mountains of debt.  College tuition has risen rapidly in the last few decades, and administrative costs have skyrocketed.  Faculty productivity is low due to the lack of full time commitment and the requirement that senior faculty work only part of the year at less than 40 hours a week.

New data is showing that discounts from full tuition are rising.

About one in five respondents to this year’s survey said they have implemented new pricing strategies, such as cutting sticker prices or freezing rates, to help boost revenue. Three times as many said they were focusing on strategic financial aid—like discounts—to increase the bottom line.
Slashing sticker prices, with the expectation that schools would need to extend less financial aid, has had mixed results. Some administrators worry about risking their reputations, since many families equate price with quality. 

Let’s hope that the trend causes private schools to improve themselves, to let go many useless administrators, to require professors to be in the classroom or office 40 hours a week for 45 to 50 weeks a year.  You know, like the rest of us.

A New Racist Emerges on the National Scene – Was He a Trump Campaign Supporter?

Not the Most Difficult Question

Hatred is Injected in the Virginia Republican Primary

The Trump apologists were dealt a heavy blow this week when news emerged about his former Virginia campaign head essentially agreeing with a vicious white supremacist who took his hatred to CharlottesvilleHere is what Richard Spencer, the proponent of Confederate value stands for.

Once an obscure Internet figure promoting white identity, Spencer rose to prominence during Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. He coined the term “alt-right” — referring to a small, far-right movement that seeks a whites-only state. Trump denounced the alt-right, but Spencer’s followers have counted his victory as a win for the movement as Trump espoused hard-right stances on undocumented immigrants, Muslims and political correctness.

Spencer’s protests in Charlottesville have resulted in a spate of anti-Semitic attacks on that city’s mayor.

Signer, a Jewish author and lawyer who became mayor in January 2016, soon drew a hail of racist and anti-Semitic assaults on Twitter. They began Sunday and kept coming Monday.

“I smell Jew,” one message said. “If so, you are going back to Israel. But you will not stay in power here. Not for long.”

A Republican primary for Governor is coming up.  One candidate, Corey Stewart,  is exploiting hatred.

Corey A. Stewart, one of three Republican gubernatorial contenders, made the preservation of the state’s Confederate memorials a rallying cry for his campaign. There is no indication that he attended the rallies. But unlike the two other Republicans and two Democrats in the race — all of whom condemned Spencer’s explicitly racial appeals — Stewart did not comment as the events made national news.

“Only a jerk would talk politics on Mother’s Day,” Stewart tweeted Sunday — although earlier in the day, he had tweeted about his plans to cut taxes and create jobs.

Gillespie, the front-runner in the GOP primary race, chided Stewart for his silence on the “ugly display of hateful rhetoric and intimidation tactics.”

In a blurry, live Facebook video on Monday evening, Stewart denounced a laundry list of targets: “fake news like The Washington Post”; “weak establishment Republicans” like his chief GOP rival, Ed Gillespie; his Democratic rivals, for not condemning their party’s “long history of racism”; sanctuary cities; “corporate monopolies like Dominion Virginia Power”; and Charlottesville City Councilman Wes Bellamy, who stepped down from the Virginia Board of Education over a series of tweets he made between 2009 and 2014 that included gay slurs, references to sexual assault and anti-white comments. Stewart made no mention of Spencer.

And notice this about Stewart.

Stewart has also held several rallies at the Lee statue and elsewhere, criticizing the planned removal as “historical vandalism” and unfurling the Confederate flag at several events. He is chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors and was chairman of Trump’s Virginia campaign until he was fired in October for participating in a protest “establishment pukes” at the Republican National Committee headquarters.

Yep, not fired because of his racist pro Confederate views, fired because he protested the RNC.

Supporting Confederate racism is not a problem for Trump Republicans.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Trumpie Exhausted by the Work of the Presidency After Only Three Days

Wow, think what would happen if he had to do an actual week’s work!

The explanation as to why the Orangeman masquerading as President used the term Islamic Extremism as opposed to the term he was supposed to say, Islamist Extremism is this.

On Sunday night, a senior White House official said Trump's decision to say "Islamic extremism" instead of "Islamist extremism" as written in his prepared remarks was not intentional but the product of exhaustion brought on by the rigorous travel schedule.

"Just an exhausted guy," the senior White House official said.

Wow, everybody does know all he did was fly over to the Saudi’s in the comfort of a luxurious 747.  What a weakling.

As for the misspoken phrase, it may be looked upon by radicals recruiting for terrorism as an insult to Islam.  Of course, the famous hater of Islam, Donald J. Trump may have meant it that way.

China Has Built Its First Modern Jet Aircraft –

Now It Just Has to Learn to Treat Passengers Like Garbage and It Can Join the Ranks of Modern Aviation

Earlier China rolled out its first domestically built aircraft carrier and now it is starting to build and fly commercial jet aircraft that will compete with the Boeing 737 and Airbus 320.  The LA Times reports.

"China’s first home-built large passenger jet glided into Shanghai skies on Friday, a breakthrough in its soaring ambitions to launch a new era in aviation and upend the dominance of American-produced airplanes."

Ok, to help the Chinese along here are the things it needs to do now to duplicate the service requirements and levels set by Delta, United and the like.

  1. If a flight is cancelled, continue to announce it is on time until it is clear there is no plane at the gate to take on the passengers.

  1. If seats are needed for airline personnel just drag a couple of passengers off the plane.

  1. Advertise low priced seats, then switch the passenger to a higher priced ticket and tell them all the low priced seats are gone.

  1. Try to always sit a normal sized person in the middle seat between two obese people.

  1. Set up baggage handling so that at least 5 bags per flight are lost.  Make any compensation rules so complicated no one bothers to ask for money for lost bas.

  1. Schedule connections so tight that they are almost always missed.  Then charge passengers an additional fee to get a new flight.

  1. Determine the minimum leg room needed to prevent blood clots and then make the seats two inches closer than that.

  1. Oversell each flight by ten seats and then hope ten people forget to show up for the flight.

  1. Offer low priced tickets and make up the discount by charging for things like boarding, carrying a purse or being more than 3 feet tall.

  1. Arrest any Arabic speaking passengers, especially if they look like Arabs.

  1. Store sandwiches in an uncovered space for 3 weeks to make sure they reach maximum staleness.

Monday, May 22, 2017

“This was the Greatest Foreign Trip in the History of Foreign Trips” Trump Says

No He Hasn’t Returned Yet to Say This But He Will

Here is what the President said to the American people when he gets back from his travels.

“You can’t believe how great I was, how wonderful I was in the Mideast and Europe.  Everyone is telling me it was the greatest, most fantastic, most wonderful trip ever taken by an American President.  I was praised in several languages, including Saudi Arabian and Israeli.  The people loved me.

When I went to visit the Saudi princes, the one that have promoted women’s rights more than any other nation I told them we need their money to invest in our infrastructure.  They are going to spend billions on weapons to keep their people in place and to show our support I jewed them down on a missle defense system.  Jared helped me with that.

In Israel they asked me about moving the embassy to Jerusalem. I told them I promised that in the campaign so they knew what that meant.  Several of the leaders said they did and were so happy they walked out of the room crying.  Bibi told me he was so inspired by my actions with Comey that he was going to fire the Israeli prosecutors looking into his corruption.  See, I am spreading Americanism around the world.

NATO, remember what I said about NATO, how they were obsolete.  Well in just a few short weeks they have completely changed, they are now on the Trump team and I am pleased to say that every NATO leader pledged to stay at a Trump hotel when they are away from home.  And they declassified a whole bunch of secret data because, as they said, I had probably already given it to the Russians anyway.  So with no foreign policy experience whatsoever I am already a leading figure.

Many of the meals were catered by the local Trump hotels.  You can call 1-800-BUY TRUMP to get the same wonderful chocolate cake we had.  Just add 50% for handling and delivery.”  

No, Will Rogers and John Donne Never Knew Roger Ailes

If So They Might Have Revised Their Statements

Roger Ailes, one of the most offensive men in American life has died.  Ailes was a nasty sexual predator amongst other things.  As part of building a so-called news organization his position was the truth had to be sacrificed for partisan political gains. 

Will Rogers once said “I never met a man I didn’t like”.  John Donne wrote that “...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind”  Roger Ailes is a  life lived  in contradiction to those two statements.

Trump Breaks His Promise to Move U. S. Embassy to Jerusalem – Apologists Blame Others

Because for Conservatives Trumpie Can Never be Wrong or Do Wrong

One of the strongest positions that Trumpman took during the campaign was that unlike the rest of the sniveling world he had the courage to recognize that Jerusalem was the true capital of Israel.  And like everything else he has gone back on this, changed without a word. 

But it is not his fault as an op/ed piece in the WSJ explains.  It’s those bureaucrats in the State Department and the rest of government.

It is now evident that even a commitment of this much presidential prestige has been overturned by the U.S. State Department’s famous determination to continue the peace process with the Palestinians to the end of days.

Now the important thing here is not the policy, that is a positive step because moving the embassy brought no benefits and a lot of risk.  The important thing is that Trump supporters need to understand that nothing, and we mean nothing the man says can be taken at face value.

Donald Trump made many campaign promises in his run to the Presidency, but none sounded more sincere than his commitment to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The week of his inauguration he repeated the pledge to an Israeli news outlet, adding, “I’m not a person who breaks promises.”

But his true believers, those who constantly deceive themselves will never admit that they are the suckers.  And so it must be someone else to blame.  Will it ever be possible for folks like the cowardly conservatives at the WSJ ever acknowledge the truth.  No, not as long as lies support their positions.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Listen Up People – An Open Letter to Republicans and Trump Voters

Do You Still Have No Idea What You Did?

You voted for this man.  You wanted him in office.  So let’s reflect on that.

  1. How many campaign promises does he have to renege on before you get the picture.  Remember naming China a Currency Manipulator on Day 1?  Gone.  Remember ending the Iranian deal?  Just certified it.  Remember moving the U. S. Embassy to Jerusalem? Not gonna happen.  Remember not cutting Medicaid?  Fraid so, almost $1 trillion.  Remember all that other stuff?  Do you realize you have been hoodwinked?  What more will it take.?

  1. Coal Miners.  Look we are sorry about you lost jobs but the product you produce pollutes the ground, water and air.  We need to stop mining and burning coal.  Regardless of what Trump does those of you who lost your jobs are not going to get them back and those of you who have jobs in coal mining, you are going to lose them.  Democrats would have helped you transition.  Republicans are just going to cut funding for economic development and stop mine safety programs.  Open your eyes.

  1. The party of family values?  Republicans and other voters who espouse traditional mores have put in office the most immoral man ever to enter the White House.  You want us to respect your values, start acting like you have some.

  1. National Security?  Everyone who supported Trump said that if you voted for Hilary Clinton the person in the Oval Office would be leaking classified info to the Russians.  Want to think about that for a while?

  1. Leadership and honesty in this President?  Really, do you even have to think about that?

  1. Respect to others and institutions is not something this President has.  You people seemed awfully upset when you were called the ‘deplorables’.  So how do you feel about a flawed but dedicated public servant like James Comey being called a nut job and crazy?

Look, the point is the actions you would have found totally intolerable in a Democrat you are now not just accepting but embracing in your guy.  Stop it.  Get some principles before it is too late.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

No Longer a Question of "If" - It is Now "When" Trump Will Resign

Cut and Run - It's What Bullies and Cowards Do

The latest revelations make it almost certain the Donald Trump will not finish his Presidency.  The only thing he has left is the support of the Republican Party and its leadership.  That support will soon crumble.  It may be weeks, it may be years but ultimately Trump will have to go.

During the campaign it was revealed that one business practice of Trump was to stiff sub-contractors, the ones too small to have the financial and legal resources to fight back. But now Trump is up against the Department of Justice, which has essentially unlimited financial and legal resources.  DOJ must despise him for among other things, installing a bigoted man as AG, for firing all of the U. S. attorneys and not bothering to find replacements, for attacking the former FBI head on a personal basis and for demonstrating contempt for the rule of law.

Trump learns slowly but he does learn.  Once it dawns upon him what is arrayed against him he will go, he will turn tail and run, he will skedaddle out of there.  The only question is when.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Trump the Terrible Dealmaker Gives Away the Store to the Kurds

Without Getting Anything in Return

The false persona of Trump as a shrewd negotiator is in full force as he has decided to aid Kurdish fighters in the Mideast without getting the Kurds to agree to anything to defuse their situation in Turkey.  The result, anger in Turkey which pushes them even further into the Russian orbit.

American military commanders have long argued for arming the Y.P.G., a Kurdish militia that contains some of the most experienced fighters among the Syrian force that is battling the Islamic State.
But Turkey has vociferously objected to such a move, insisting that the Kurdish fighters are linked with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or the P.K.K., which both it and the United States regard as a terrorist group.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey is scheduled to meet with Mr. Trump in Washington this month, and the American decision on arming the Kurds is likely to figure prominently in the discussion. Mr. Erdogan is expected to press Mr. Trump to give Turkey and the Syrian rebels it backs a bigger supporting role in the assault on Raqqa.

See, Trump could have made the support conditional upon the Kurds making concessions in their terrorist war with Turkey, and so it would have been a win-win.  But ignorance of world politics didn’t even give Trump a chance to do some good and help an ally which is becoming more and more distanced.  Just another foreign policy screw-up from the gang that couldn’t think straight.

Trump’s Lawyers Are Just as Ignorant of Basic Law as He Is

Well, What Did You Expect

Donald Trump knows nothing about how the legal system works, which is odd since he has been sued so many times.  Recently he confused the federal circuit courts with the federal district courts.  And now his attorney in a case involving his being sued for encouraging violence at a rally demonstrates real ignorance.

The question is whether or not a sitting President can be subject to a civil lawsuit.  The Supreme Court decided this issue when it said Bill Clinton could.  But an idiot attorney for Trump doesn‘t know this.  An informative piece on the TakeCare blog explains.

"To prepare his response, Donald Trump hired a Louisville lawyer named R. Kent Westberry. Mr. Westberry filed his answer to the complaint last Friday. As "fourth affirmative defense" Westberry asserted that "Mr. Trump is immune from suit because he is President of the United States." This is, of course, flatly and obviously wrong. The Supreme Court held unanimously in Clinton v. Jones that a sitting president is not even temporarily immune from suit for pre-presidential conduct."

But wait there’s more.

"The fourth affirmative defense is followed by a fifth: "Mr. Trump is immune from proceedings pursuant to Clinton v. Jones, 520 U.S. 681 (1997)." At least Mr. Westberry's bluebook form is unassailable. Had he read the case that he so flawlessly cites, he would know what any student who has taken a basic course in constitutional law knows, that Clinton v. Jones refutes the proposition for which he cites it. . . .

When a lawyer makes such demonstrably false assertions to a court, there is a more concrete recourse available. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 authorizes a court to impose sanctions on any attorney who signs a pleading if "the claims, defenses, and other legal contentions therein are [not] warranted by existing law or by a nonfrivolous argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law or the establishment of new law." Mr. Westberry signed a pleading that does not seek the reversal of the Supreme Court's unanimous ruling in Clinton v. Jones, instead it actually cites the case and asserts a defense that existing law plainly repudiates. The District Court should sanction Mr. Westberry and refer his egregious misconduct for disciplinary action."

We do not know Mr. Trump’s reaction to all of this, but it is likely he admires his attorney who can lie and deceive with the best of them.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Mommy, The Press is Being Mean to Me – Donnie Whines

Trump is Crying the Blues (as are we all, but for a different reason)

Unable to keep from complaining and having self pity Trumpie wanted to talk to his mommy.  Instead here is the false news of his conversation with Kellyanne Conway where he tells her he just can’t stand the fact that the media critical of him cannot be put in jail.

DT:  Kellyanne, only Fox News says nice things about me, it’s just unfair.  And isn’t most of what they are reporting untrue?

KA:  Well your royal orangeness, they are using your own words and quoting you correctly. 

DT: But how can that be right, I mean you have always told me everything I say is great and just because you have to take a shower after being in the same room with me or prostituting yourself on CNN doesn’t mean I don’t believe you.  So why are we both getting all this flack?

KA: In my case it’s because I am lying my bleached ass off for you and while they bought that stuff during the campaign, somebody woke them up and now they are actually paying attention.  In your case they just hate the fact that you are rich and like Russia and keep saying things they can fact check.  You need to say true things, like that Mike Pence really is a ventriloquist’s dummy.

DT:  Putin said to the put them in jail, and that Klan guy I put at the Justice Department agrees but then he chickened out after no one would follow up.  How about I send that bodyguard fellow I sent over to fire Comey to knock a few heads on Morning Joe.

KA:  Well they do have video cameras now that would probably just show that in a distorted way and imply that you were threatening the press when we all know you were just looking out for those poor coal miners.  We did get a reporter arrested in West Virginia on the charge of asking questions, so gimme a little credit here.

DT:  But they are so mean, don’t they know I won the Presidency by the largest margin ever if you count the votes that went against me as being for me.

KA:  I know, they keep wanting to go to the actual vote count instead of listening to the President who knows far more about how many votes there were for him than those amateur election officials who approved the, you know,  (air quotes) ‘actual’ vote.  I think the only thing you can do to punish them is make them stay at Mar-a-Lago the next time you go to Florida.  I mean the place makes me queasy and nauseous, I think it makes everyone else just vomit.

Can Your Tax Dollars Be Used to Support a Religion You Do Not Sub scribe To?

Conservatives Support Freedom of Religion - Your Freedom to Pay for Their Religion

Missouri wants to help private schools, but they don't want to support religion, which the Constitution forbids them to do anyway.  But religious people think their religion is so great that everyone ought to pay for it.  So they are challenging a law that prevents the state from supporting religious schools.

"In this case, the Supreme Court will determine whether the Free Exercise or Equal Protection Clause requires Missouri’s Department of Natural Resources to grant a qualifying religious institution’s funding application if it would have otherwise received funding absent its religious status. Trinity Lutheran Church argues that the Department’s policy amounts to a violation of the Free Exercise Clause because it singles out and excludes religious institutions by conditioning a generally available public benefit based on religious status. Moreover, Trinity contends that the policy violates the Equal Protection Clause because the policy employs a suspect classification based on religion. In contrast, The Missouri DNR argues that the Free Exercise Clause only stops the government from prohibiting the free exercise of religion but does not require that the government provide funding to religious organizations."

In all likelihood the Court will rule for the churches, after all this is America where separation of church and state applies only to 'those' religions, not our religions. But just wait, once a Muslim school applies for funds the great supporters of religious freedom will argue no, that religion doesn't qualify.

Charles Schwab Pens a Stupid and Ignorant Opinion Piece on SS in the WSJ

But Then Stupid and Ignorant May be Required to Publish in WSJ Op/Ed Section

Charles Schwab has made a lot of money in finance.  One would expect him to know the basic facts of Social Security benefits.  One would be wrong.  Writing in the Wall Street Journal Schwab has these things to say.

Eliminate Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes after age 65 on the first $50,000 of earned income. These Americans have already contributed to the two programs over a lifetime. Yet even after they hit the retirement age, they continue to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes on income they earn.

Well no, not over a lifetime, over their working life which unless they were employed as infants is substantially less.  And for the record 67 not 65 is now the  retirement age.  And yes currently  you pay SS and Medicare on income earned after 65 but guess what.  For most people the SS benefits increase, they get that money and then some back.

Take a 70-year-old woman who earns $25,000 a year in California. Today the combined Social Security and Medicare tax on that income is approximately $1,900. Federal and state taxes further reduce her take-home pay to roughly $21,000. Exempting her from Social Security and Medicare taxes effectively would increase her spending power by more than 9%. She is likely to put that additional $1,900 toward day-to-day living expenses. It’s enough to have a real positive effect on her quality of life.

Uh let’s see.  That 70 year old would have to be in good health to stay working.  And she would be getting SS benefits with no penalty for working.  So she is probably doing ok.  But what she needs is higher benefits after she stops working, which is exactly what happens if she pays SS while she is working. 

This easy tax change would create a big economic boost by leaving money—more than $13 billion, by my estimation—in the pockets of working older Americans,

Of course a lot of that money would go to wealthy people making a lot of money.  While most of us see a distributional flaw there, people like Schwab don’t.  They think tax policy should put money into the pockets of the wealthy.

While lawmakers are looking at it, they should also consider eliminating taxes on Social Security benefits for those who draw them while continuing to work. Today those benefits are subject to tax once someone earns only $25,000. After being taxed for a lifetime to fund Social Security, the program’s benefits are taxed upon receipt. That’s akin to double taxation. Eliminating it is another easy fix worth consideration in the spirit of fairness.

Ah, capping off the piece with a statement of stunning ignorance.  First of all if taxes on SS should be eliminated they should be eliminated after one retires, when one really needs the money.  But remember this, half of the SS benefits are funded by employer contributions which are tax deductible to the employer.  So taxing some SS payments merely restores fairness to the tax code under the principle that is compensation is tax deductible to the issuer it should be taxable to the recipient, leaving government revenues neutral.

And of course for many American SS is totally tax free or mostly tax free because they have income below the threshold that causes it to be taxed.  So all in all, the system work fairly well, and if Mr. Schwab simply took the time to actually understand the program he wouldn’t embarrass himself in print.