SpaceX soars again!

SpaceX has successfully launched another resupply mission to the International Space Station.  That is cool enough on its own.  But this was also a launch that for the first time used both a reused Falcon 9 first stage and a reused Dragon capsule.  These guys know how to do rocket science and make it pay.

Did you miss the CRS-13 launch and deployment?  Watch it now!

Donald Trump: Turd

Donald J. Trump, the illegitimately elected president of the United States, has proven, once and for all, that he is a big orange turd dropped directly from the asshole of Satan.  I will not defile this blog with his tweet this morning about U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).  You have probably heard or read it by now anyway.  I will just say that this sexist, women-hating, ignorant pig-boy has no business holding any public office whatsoever.  He is president now thanks to Russian interference in our election process, he remains in power because the other members of his party are more interested in their power than their country, he has obstructed justice, shit on the First Amendment, and betrayed the people who voted for him.  He needs to resign immediately.  If he will not resign, he needs to be legally removed, either by impeachment or by the mechanism in the 25th Amendment.

tl;dr

Yeah, that last post was a whopping 845 words.  I get it.  Too long to pay attention to.  And that’s fine.  It’s always your choice to read or not.  I write the same either way.  If everything goes to hell in a handbasket and you end up having no idea how or why, that’s on you too.

Congress is laughing at you.

If you live in the U.S. and follow this blog, or read it when entries appear on my Facebook page, then odds are you are among the millions of U.S. citizens who are about to be fucked over by the new so-called “tax reform” bill.  The House and Senate each have their own version of the bill.  The differences are mostly minor, and when they get resolved in Conference Committee, the bill will likely be signed by Trump just in time for him to squat over you holiday dinner and take a huge dump upon it.  This, he tells us, is a Christmas present for the American people.

This latest assault in the ever-widening class warfare supported by the Republicans is carefully designed to fuck over the poor and the middle class.  Meanwhile, the bill is chock full of goodies for the rich and large corporations and fails to deliver on the closing of a loophole that Trump and Democrats campaigned on closing.

Let’s start with the carried interest loophole.  This loophole makes it so that real estate investors, hedge fund managers and private equity firms can pay taxes on their income at the same rate as capital gains instead of as earned income.  The next result is that these poor, downtrodden folks pay taxes at a lower rate than most citizens.  trump pledged on multiple occasions that he would eliminate this loophole.  Instead, the new bill will either leave it as is or make a minor, insignificant change to the rules.  Just another Trump lie I suppose, but one that shows yet another way he is not the populist he claims to be.

There are all sorts of targeted tax breaks in the law, aimed to help out backers and donors in specific industries.  (yes, these are those same donors that told the Republicans, “Cut our taxes or we cut off donations.”)  There is plenty of documentation out there showing you how you will be robbed to pay off these robber barons.  But I will give you one example.  There is a special provision in the tax bill that helps the alcohol industry.  The actual taxation details are out there, but in the end aren’t as important as how this bill, with this special provision, got passed.  The bill parallels the language of a bill originally submitted by Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri. Blunt’s son Andy is a registered lobbyist for MillerCoors, a company that will benefit from the change in the law.  But that’s not all! Then there is Sen. Rob Portman from the Senate Finance Committee.  He helped get the tax break included in the bill.  He receives donations from a lobbying firm that just happens to represent MillerCoors.  What a coincidence!  Then there is everybody’s favorite Senate hero, John McCain. He voted in favor of this bill, even though it was written in exactly the underhanded way he has railed against this year.  But McCain’s wife owns a beer distribution company that will benefit from the tax change.  Nice commitment to principle John!

Let’s not forget to mention the estate tax.  Very, very few people have to worry about the estate tax.  You know who has to worry about it?  People that stand to inherit sums in excess of $5 million.  That doesn’t include me, or probably you, or anyone we know personally.  It does become an issue for, hmmm, the Trump children and the children of all the millionaires and billionaires who are benefiting from the new tax law.  So, the estate tax will either be eliminated or seriously reduced in the final version of the law.  Of course.

The problem with all the giveaways is that they have to be paid for.  How do they do this? A) Don’t, just increase the debt by over a trillion dollars, plus B) Make corporate tax cuts permanent, but make any tax breaks that at all help the middle class temporary, plus C) cut spending other places.

Choice C is where things start to get even worse.  It is the stated agenda of the Republican leadership in both the House and Senate to help pay for these tax cuts for corporations and the super rich by cutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other safety net programs.  And, as you may have heard, the bill may end up eliminating the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.  this is expected to result in 13 million additional Americans not having health coverage by 2027.  How are you feeling about that?  I’m sure they will come up with something that seems fair and equitable… to the rich.

There is one part of this that leaves me a bit puzzled.  The largest, most reliable bloc of voters supporting the Republicans are angry, older, white voters.  When the Republicans start chopping Medicare and Social Security benefits, these older voters will be hit hard, right in the wallet.  If they alienate these voters, where does that leave them at the polls? Of course, if you have managed to effectively stage an authoritarian takeover of the government by then, it doesn’t matter, does it?

Vern Buchanan: Budget Hypocrite and Tax Asshat

So, year after year Congressman Vern Buchanan goes on and on about how we need to limit the size of government and balance the budget.  He loves his regular ritual of submitting a Balanced Budget amendment.  It all sounds nice on the surface, but on November 16, 2017 Buchanan voted “Yes” on the House tax bill that will increase the debt by over a trillion dollars over the coming decade while handing huge tax breaks to the wealthiest 2% of Americans and to giant corporations.

This new tax bill is horrible for the lower and middle classes and has elements intended to particularly punish traditionally blue states.  I could go on and on about what is wrong with the House tax bill (and its Senate counterpart) – if you aren’t aware of all the problems and giveaways involved, shame on you for not following this topic.  I will remind you of one of the most important aspects of this tax “reform” travesty – this bill was essentially demanded by the big money donors to the Republican party, with the threat that if it isn’t passed, the money will dry up.  So of course the Republican Congressmen and Senators have, by and large, kneeled down to suck the dicks of their donors and write a bill that screws those who are not already fabulously wealthy.  And Vern Buchanan is sucking as hard as any of them.  Way to stand up for principle Vern!