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?

Why didn’t I think of that?

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton thinks that arming parishoners is the way to deal with shootings such as yesterday’s mass murder in a church in Sutherland Springs, TX.  He also says that “This is going to happen again,” which it of course will, if you don’t take steps get take guns out of the hands of crazy people and get mental health help for crazy people.

I’m sure it won’t be long before Paxton, or someone like him, seriously advocates for issuing firearms to every state citizen age 10 or older.  The gun manufacturers would certainly back such a measure.  The new right of passage will be going to the county office building on your tenth birthday to get your official state weapon and a box of official state ammo.  Then your parents take you to Guns-R-Us so you can buy a holster depicting your favorite cartoon character.

Weekly horrific shootings

Look, I get it.  The Second Amendment.  Cold dead hands.  All of it.  But then we also have attack after attack after attack with assault-type weapons.  I don’t see any part of the Constitution that guarantees the right of every citizen to be shot to pieces by a crazy person with a machine gun.  We need to screen purchasers better.  We need to clean up loopholes in the gun sales laws.  We need better mental health care in the U.S.  The are many aspects to the gun violence problem.  We need politicians with balls and the common good in their intentions.

And we need less shit from the NRA.

A question for John Kelly

On Monday, October 30, 2017, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said that a “lack of ability to compromise led to the Civil War.”  So I would like to ask him a question.

Mr. Kelly, what sort of compromise position is acceptable when you are talking about slavery?

You may have been a general once, but now you are just another clueless asshole enabling Trump.

My favorite chocolate milk

I will admit, I haven’t tried every brand out there.  There could be something I would like better… but I doubt it.  To me, the best chocolate milk on the market in the U.S. is Promised Land Midnight Chocolate Milk.  I think Prince might have written Nothing Compares 2 U while contemplating an empty bottle of this chocolate nectar.


Traditional Quality

For over 200 years these pencils have been made the traditional way out of the remnants of Fort Ticonderoga so your pencil will be mightier than the sword.