In what the folks at Naked Capitalism describe as the most American headline ever, we know that. “In a year of pain, one silver lining: fewer mass shootings.”
This is f%$#ed up and sh%$.
In what the folks at Naked Capitalism describe as the most American headline ever, we know that. “In a year of pain, one silver lining: fewer mass shootings.”
This is f%$#ed up and sh%$.
This really is remarkable.
The overwhelming majority of Senate Democrats voted with Mitch McConnell to proceed on the veto override on the Defense Authorization Bill, kneecapping Bernie Sanders’ filibuster to get a vote on $2000.00 pandemic stimulus payments.
In case you are wondering, if you look at the vote totals, more Democrats voted for the motion to proceed than Republicans did, 41-39.
You can always argue that it the perfect is the enemy of good enough, but , as TAP Executive Editor David Dayen tweeted, this was a losing tactic both politically and policy wise, “Somewhere in between “Dems are turncoats for not filibustering the NDAA” and “it’s Repubs whatcha gonna do” is the idea that it would’ve been good politics to at least deny enough votes to force Perdue and Loeffler to leave the campaign trail in Georgia.”
For a more extensive take down, I would take you to David Sirota and Andrew Perez’s analysis of what they call, “Senate Democrats’ Motion To Concede On $2,000 Checks.”
Instead, as Republicans saber rattled about the need to pass the defense bill, 41 Democrats obediently voted with McConnell, allowing him to move the defense bill forward without a vote on the checks. That included “yes” votes from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and vice-president elect Kamala Harris, the lead sponsor on a bill to give Americans monthly $2,000 checks during the pandemic. One day before her vote to help McConnell, Harris had called on the Republican leader to hold a vote on her legislation.
They capitulated Even Though It Was to Their Political Advantage Not to Capitulate.
They are playing to lose, because they just don’t care.
It’s careerism run amuck.
Think about that the next time the DNC, DCCC, or the DSCC calls for donations.
I’m doing my laundry right now, because otherwise, I start 2021 with no clean underwear.
I’ll start drinking later, once I pick up Charlie from work.
Luke Letlow, a Republican congressman-elect, after consistently campaigning without a mask, has died of Covid-19.
Thoughts and prayers, I guess.
As the saying goes, “バカにつける薬はない”.*
*Pronounced in Japanese, “baka ni tsukeru kusuri wanai”, which means, “There is no medicine for stupidity.” Apologies for any inaccuracies in the text, I do not know Japanese.
Too good a pun not to share.
In responce to increasing calls from both sides of the aisle to hold a vote on the House’s clean $2000.00 stimulus check bill, Mitch McConnell has introduced a dirty bill, including a provision for a complete repeal of Section 230 of the CDA, not because he gives a crap about Section 230, and also a bit about setting up a commission to study election fraud, but because he is trying to kill the movement toward making a larger payment.
This will give Democrats an excuse to cave, and I think that they will try to do so.
Hopefully, Sanders will stick to his guns, and keep the Senate in Session for the mandatory debate the Senate rules require without unanimous consent.
In the mean time, if you see McConnell, throw your shoe at him, and if you see Amy McGrath, thank her for 6 more years of Moscow Mitch:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has thrown a wrench into Congressional approval of an increase in government stimulus relief checks from $600 to $2,000. The House voted overwhelmingly on Monday to increase the payments, as President Trump had advocated for. Instead of voting on the House bill, however, McConnell blocked it and instead introduced a new bill tying higher stimulus payments to Section 230’s full repeal, according to Verge, which obtained a copy of the bill’s text.
It’s a tangled web, but the move is tied to Trump’s veto of the National Defense Authorization Act, which authorizes $740 billion in defense spending for the upcoming government fiscal year. “No one has worked harder, or approved more money for the military, than I have,” Trump said in a statement about the veto, claiming falsely that the military “was totally depleted” when he took office in 2017. “Your failure to terminate the very dangerous national security risk of Section 230 will make our intelligence virtually impossible to conduct without everyone knowing what we are doing at every step.”
So what does this have to do with McConnell’s latest political maneuvering? Think of it as a move to appease Trump with regard to Section 230, while also effectively ensuring that the $2,000 increase in stimulus checks will never pass in the Senate. “During this process, the president highlighted three additional issues of national significance he would like to see Congress tackle together,” McConnell said in a floor statement Tuesday afternoon. “This week, the Senate will begin a process to bring these three priorities into focus.”
McConnell is a cancer on the American body politic, but the last election cycle, the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) decided that it was more important to have an expensive candidate, who would generate lots of consultant commissions, than it would to have a good candidate.
The Lincoln Project raised $4.8 million between November 24th and December 16th hyping the Georgia Senate runoff elections.
Since then, it has spent $1.1 million on independent expenditures in those races and paid Steve Schmidt $1.5 million. https://t.co/BT5roJBmCt pic.twitter.com/mCS1B7wsxF
— Rob Pyers (@rpyers) December 30, 2020
The Lincoln Project was always a scam.
It’s purpose is to extract money from gullible liberals by showing them sparkly things on MSNBC, not to fix the Republican Party or our politics.
Mr. Pyers is calling them out after they called out Ted Cruz for taking donations for SC Republican Senate candidates, and keeping most of the money.
The Progressive Caucus in the House of Representatives has has adopted new rules and a new structure to make it more like a parliamentary caucus, with a single chairman, and the ability to whip its members.
Additionally, Jaypal has made it clear that if people find this too restricting, she is fine with them leaving the caucus. (i.e. don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out)
Given the narrow Democratic margin in the next Congress, 10 seats if the members leaving to join the Biden administration are replaced by Democrats, a cohesive Progressive caucus, even if it drops to 50 members or so, can exert real power.
While Joe Biden signed off regarding making the direct payments so miserly in the stimulus bill, Bernie Sanders is promising a filibuster of the veto override of the Defense Authorization Bill, which would delay the vote for at least 3 days, unless the house bill to raise payments to $2000.00 gets an up or down vote in the Senate.
I get that the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) came together with a zeal and a competence that is never seen opposing wars, or ill-guided tax cuts, or genocide, and anointed Biden, but Bernie is still being Bernie:
For most of the last few decades, budget standoffs in Washington tended to follow the same script: Republicans threatened to block some domestic spending bill or fully shut down the government unless Democrats agreed to let the GOP own the libs with something bad like a JPMorgan giveaway, a tax break for the rich or a draconian cut to a social program.
When Democrats controlled Congress, they never mustered the courage to respond with their own version of the same shrewd tactics. Even toward the end of the Bush era when the Iraq War was deeply unpopular, they never made a serious attempt to hold up a bloated GOP-written Pentagon bill in order to try to get their way on a progressive initiative.
But at the end of one of the worst years in recent history, it seems things are changing.
In a long overdue script-flipping move, Sen. Bernie Sanders is now moving to halt a major defense bill until and unless Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell allows a full vote on legislation to give millions of starving Americans $2,000 in emergency aid. That legislation passed the House yesterday over opposition from a majority of House Republicans, who tried their best to deny their own constituents much-needed aid.
Now the bill is in McConnell’s hands, and Sanders is pulling a McConnell on McConnell. He is imperiling the GOP boss’s top priority — the defense bill that authorizes pay increases for soldiers, military training, new weapons systems, while also complicating attempts to draw down troops deployed in Afghanistan. That McConnell-backed legislation could be stalled unless he agrees to Sanders’ demands and stops obstructing a progressive priority.
Sanders could keep the Senate in session until New Years Day, limiting the ability of corrupt Georgia Senators Purdue and Loeffler to campaign in the runup to the runoff.
I am heartened by this, but I expect the Democrats to figure out a way to capitulate, because that is what Democrats do, particularly in the Senate, and particularly under the leader ship of Chuck Schumer.
I may be wrong but I think there’s room at the Four Seasons.
— The Palaeoanthropologist (@HamishAlexande6) December 29, 2020
The favorite hotel of the Proud Boys is shutting down for 3 days rather than deal with them, and their violent protests, and virus spreading behavior at the inauguration.
Scott Morrison Isn’t the Australian Trump — He’s a Margaret Thatcher Tribute Band
I do not know enough of Australian politics to know that this is true, but it is a wonderful turn of phrase.
Fresh on the heels of Proposition 22 passing in California, Grubhub sets it sights on f%$#ing its employees out of tips, because it will reduce their potential responsibilities to those employees:
California-based workers for food delivery app Grubhub have reacted angrily to changes to the platform which they say discourage tipping, saying they would wipe out the supposed benefits of new gig worker rules in the state.
Last month, California passed Proposition 22, which though falling far short of the benefits received by full-time employees, gave gig workers a limited number.
Weeks after the ruling, Grubhub reduced its default tip amount from about 20 percent to zero, adding a suggestion to “leave an optional tip on top of driver benefits.”
Like other apps, Grubhub added an additional “benefit” fee, in its case $1.50, to each order in California—though that money is put into a centralized pot for which only a limited number of drivers are expected to fully qualify.
Under Proposition 22, workers receive a healthcare stipend, provided they clock at least an average of 15 hours per week on one of the gig apps. However, in order to qualify, workers must already be the primary policyholder on an existing healthcare plan.
To get the full stipend, workers must put in at least 25 hours per week. The companies only count “engaged” time, not including periods spent driving without an assigned job — estimated to be about a third of all time spent on the road, according to a University of California, Berkeley, study. No allowances are made for time off or sickness. Data shared by Uber suggested that about three-quarters of its own drivers would not meet this threshold.
But a study by University of California, Santa Cruz, in May determined that “delivery workers are particularly dependent on tips, which account for 30 percent of their estimated earnings.”
“I keep records,” said Jeanine, a Grubhub worker in the San Francisco Bay Area. “And there’s been a complete flip. It’s stunning.”
She shared with the Financial Times a breakdown of her tips on the platform both before and after the change. On two consecutive Saturdays she completed the same number of orders—eight—but on the first Saturday, before the change, 100 percent of her customers left at least a small tip—totalling $61.03.
On the second Saturday, five of her eight customers left no tip, with the rest totalling $24.71.
Uber and DoorDash last week said they would raise prices in order to fund Proposition 22 benefits, though as yet only Grubhub has made changes to its tipping system.
Yes, vote for the bullsh%$ initiative pursued by the gig economy companies, because they have the workers’ interests at heart.
If you believe that, then I have some swamp land in Florida for you.
How Amy Coney Barrett and Barack Obama Transcended Petty Partisanship To Crush Community Activists in Chicago
This details how Obama’s need for a monument to himself by way of his Presidential library will, as I noted about a year ago, desecrate one of Fredrick Law Olmstead’s crown jewels, and that his has been aided and abetted by one Federal Judge Amy Coney Barrett:
Proving that architectural narcissism isn’t a quality limited to the outgoing forty-fifth president, Barack Obama is currently attempting to erect a hideous 235-foot tower, a monument to himself and his presidency, in a park in Chicago, over the objections of community groups. Local organizations fighting the project recently suffered a defeat at the hands of a federal review, which concluded in Obama’s favor. But according to the Wall Street Journal, a key ally in the approval process last summer was then judge Amy Coney Barrett, who has since, of course, become Trump’s latest addition to the Supreme Court.
Obama’s papers will live elsewhere; this $500 million project is not a presidential library but a museum celebrating the former president, overseen by the Obama Foundation, whose board is made up of a distasteful gang of financiers, with private equity well represented. As Wall Street Journal opinion writer James Freeman sardonically noted last week, Obama is impinging on “treasured green space to realize his vision of a self-tribute in stone and glass.” The groups fighting the project argue that it will wreak environmental damage on Jackson Park. They argue that the project will destroy much of the natural life in the park, including four hundred trees. They also say the tower will interfere with needed sunlight during the day, cause light pollution at night, and interfere with bird migration (the park is apparently a well-known route for birds).
The community activists also fear that the project will lure a large number of tourists and car traffic, disrupting what is currently a relatively calm and natural retreat. They also find the design of the project garish and vulgar, at odds with the aesthetics of the Frederick Law Olmsted–designed park, a historic 1893 World’s Fair site which was restored back to naturalistic parkland after the fair. The activists have presented alternative designs and traffic plans, but the Obama Foundation has ignored them — as arrogant multimillionaires tend to do when faced with suggestions from the little people.
This is tremendously apropos of the legacy of a man why my brother calls, “Our President Harding.”
He looked the role, and he gave great speeches, but when push came to shove, he never put anything ahead of himself, and now, he’s going to befoul one of the great public spaces in the world, (plus a f%$#ing luxury golf course) because it’s always about him.
And I am happy as hell that Portland’s Woodrow Wilson High School is changing its name. (They have narrowed it down to 5 names)
Woodrow Wilson was a hypocritical racist dirt-bag.
Now change the mascot, the teams are called the “Trojans”, and I don’t think that you should name a team after a brand of condoms and ……… What? ……… Homer’s Iliad? ……… Never mind.
Amason’s charity program supports hate groups.
Not a surprise. It doesn’t matter if it’s the American Civil Liberties Union, or the America Nazi Party, Amazon gets its vig from purchases in either case:
AmazonSmile, which launched in 2013, would seem to be one of the mega-corporation’s less overtly awful functions: it’s a simple service that adds a surcharge to Amazon purchases and donates it to a participating charity of a shopper’s choice. However, UK-based media organization openDemocracy has found among those eligible charities were over 40 anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-choice groups.
I’ll put a bow on it, I’ll scream it, I’ll whisper it, but I am here to tell you that Amazon is a terrible company.
openDemocracy identified powerful anti-LGBTQ+ groups that are, at the time of this writing, live on AmazonSmile’s search portal. They list the Indiana chapter of the Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate group the American Family Association, whose radio host and figurehead Bryan Fischer has said that the “Nazi party…was rooted in the homosexual movement.” There’s also Focus on the Family, which spawned the SPLC-designated hate group the Family Research Council. Of founder James Dobson, the SPLC writes that “no one has spread the anti-gay gospel as widely, or with as much political impact.”
We don’t know how much money these hate-mongering groups have raised directly via AmazonSmile, but this disturbing news has come to light at a time when Amazon’s revenue has gone through the roof thanks to a captive customer base stuck at home during a pandemic.
My old axiom, “If they treat their employees like sh%$, how do you think that they will treat you as a customer,” should be expanded from, “You as a customer,” to, “All of us as a society.”
I give you the, “Roomba that curses when bumped into things modification.”
And now, Trump has signed the stimulus package, so there will be no additional stimulus money going out to ordinary people.
I’m not going to try and guess whether this is just that Trump wanted the attention, or wanted to torture Mitch McConnell (So say we all), or some sort of political jujitsu against Democrats, but with a government shutdown off of the table, it’s pretty clear that there will be no increase in stimulus payments:
President Trump unexpectedly capitulated Sunday night and signed the stimulus bill into law, releasing $900 billion in emergency relief funds into the economy and averting a Tuesday government shutdown.
White House officials didn’t explain why the president decided to suddenly back down and sign into law a bill he had held up for nearly a week and had referred to as a “disgrace” just days earlier.
Trump signed the bill while vacationing in Florida and on a weekend when he had allowed unemployment benefits for 14 million Americans to expire.
He had demanded changes to the stimulus and spending package for a week, suggesting he would refuse to sign it until these demands were met. This continued defiance caused lawmakers from both parties to panic over the weekend, worried about the implications of a government shutdown during a pandemic. It was unclear what prompted him to change his mind late Sunday, but he was under tremendous pressure from Republicans to acquiesce.
In the same statement, he said “much more money is coming, and I will never give up my fight for the American people!”
After Trump signed the bill into law, Democrats attacked him and said his decision to drag the process out for days was harmful to many Americans.
The government would have shut down on Tuesday if Trump hadn’t acted. In addition to containing money to fund government operations, the spending package also includes emergency relief money that finances a new round of stimulus checks, unemployment aid, and small-business assistance, among other things.
I am not sure how the politics of this plays out, but I’m pretty sure that Pelosi and Schumer have lost here, because losing is what they do.
And it has gotten profoundly weird.
First, it appears that this was a suicide bombing with the remaining tissue samples found on site being identified as Anthony Quinn Warner , a 63-year old “IT Guy”, who transferred his house to some random woman in California in late November, and the truck was blaring the Petula Clark song Downtown before it detonated.
There are also scattered reports that the bombing might have been motivated by 5G conspiracy theories:
Anthony Quinn Warner was responsible for the Christmas morning explosion that rocked downtown Nashville, officials said Sunday, and he was killed in the blast.
Investigators matched human remains found at the scene with Warner’s DNA, confirming suspicions that he blew himself up in a recreational vehicle, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director David Rausch told reporters. Law enforcement said they were still investigating a motive behind the incident.
Warner, 63, was unmarried and rarely ventured from his home, according to neighbors, living for years with his parents and then by himself. He once owned an alarm company, and he protected his home with an array of security cameras, rarely returning a neighborly wave and not responding to an offer of Christmas dinner, neighbors said in interviews.
In November, Warner transferred his property at 115 Bakertown Rd. to a Los Angeles woman for “$0,” according to property records of a quitclaim deed. The woman said in a brief telephone interview that the FBI told her not to discuss the matter and declined to comment.
A Nashville real estate firm, Fridrich & Clark Realty, confirmed that Warner worked there as a computer consultant for about 15 years before announcing his retirement earlier this month. “The Tony Warner we knew is a nice person who never exhibited any behavior which was less than professional,” co-owner Steve Fridrich wrote in a statement.
The officers heard a strange recorded warning, which started to play a 15-minute countdown, coming from the RV. Officers started knocking on doors, contacting dispatch to get access codes to buildings, clearing them floor by floor, warning residents who answered to gather family members and safely evacuate.
“That’s stuff that I’ll never forget, the sound of the announcement saying … ‘Evacuate now,’” said Amanda Topping, one of five officers who spoke to reporters during a morning news conference. “Just odd. And I’m pacing back and forth because I kept on having to turn pedestrians around.”
The RV began to play music — officer Tyler Luellen told reporters he later learned it was “Downtown” by Petula Clark. The officers prepared themselves, some going back to their cars for heavier gear.
While it is unknown whether the AT&T building was the intended target, experts on critical infrastructure said the Christmas morning episode makes clear that federal and local authorities and the private sector ought to find ways to reduce their vulnerability, either through moving key pieces to more fortified locations or building in redundancies.
As Alice Liddell would say, “Curiouser and Curiouser.”
It appears that some philanthropists have come to realize that the structures of philanthropies in the United States don’t generate much in the way of charity for the level of tax deductions provided.
Given my background, I founded a small charity in the early 1990s,* this remains an area of interest for me.
There has been a massive growth in various charitable organizations, and a commensurate growth in the taxes not paid, but not a growth of the actual charity provided:
A group of high-profile philanthropists and foundations, along with estate and gift tax experts, have come together to push for reforms to charitable giving laws that would increase the amount of money available for nonprofits.
Their goal is to unlock some of the US$1 trillion sitting in private foundations and donor-advised funds (DAFs) that is not obligated to be distributed to nonprofits under current law. The group, known as the Initiative to Accelerate Charitable Giving, also aims to make it easier for the 90% of taxpayers who don’t itemize to gain a tax benefit for giving to charity.
“The purpose is to get money to working charities so they can put money to work,” says Ray Madoff, a professor of estate and gift tax estate planning, at Boston College, and the main force behind the U.S. initiative along with Houston philanthropist John Arnold.
Under current regulations—established in 1969, according to Madoff—private foundations are obligated only to pay out 5% of their assets to public charities annually. The rest can be invested as the foundation chooses, and can be passed down through generations.
DAFs, which have been an increasingly popular way to set aside money for charity, allow individuals to make donations into an investment fund managed by a public nonprofit, and get an immediate tax deduction. There is no requirement for funds to be distributed to a qualified public charity, since the DAF itself is managed by one.
The existence of these tax-advantaged vehicles, which today hold US$1 trillion in assets, raises a question that Madoff has studied for years. That is: What is society getting in return for not receiving those tax dollars? The answer, she realized, was “a lot less than we think.”
And while individuals do actually make grants to charities from their DAFs, they aren’t required to do so. “It’s not that everybody is not spending anything, it’s that the vehicle facilitates large contributions of money—and there are definitely US$1 billion DAF accounts that are subject to no payout requirements,” Madoff says.
Another problem is that private foundations can meet their annual 5% payout requirement by distributing funds to a DAF instead of directly to an operating charity.
The U.S. provides “significant tax benefits,” Madoff says, “but we only get them halfway there, and the [law isn’t] doing much to get the money all the way to charities.”
This coalition is asking Congress and the incoming presidential administration of Joseph Biden, for “emergency charitable stimulus” legislation to require private foundations to boost their annual payout rate to 10%, and to require a mandatory payout rate of 10% for DAFs, for three years, specifically to facilitate more dollars reaching charities hit by the Covid-19 crisis. According to the Independent Sector, an organization that supports the nonprofit sector, 7% of nonprofits in the U.S. are expected to close because of the pandemic.
“When tax benefits only apply to 10% of the population, then we are amplifying the voices of the wealthiest,” Madoff says. “It’s really important that tax benefits be available for all taxpayers.”
The group also believes Congress should ensure that private foundations can’t meet their payout obligations by transferring funds to a DAF, or by paying family member salaries (which is currently allowed by law).
For DAFs, the group is recommending that all funds in these vehicles are distributed within 15 years. They are also recommending an “aligned benefit rule,” that would allow a donor to get a break on capital gains taxes and estate and gift taxes upon funding their DAF, but would withhold the income-tax deduction until distributions are made to a public charity.
Modern charity increasingly serves as an employment guarantee to the Professional Managerial Class (PMC)†, which explains, for example, why college has become so expensive.
It all goes to special assistants to the senior VP in charge of filling out useless paperwork.
Endless number of people sending reports and creating data that never gets used for anything useful.
It’s all Dave Graeber’s Bullsh%$ Jobs.
*Even today, total turnover is probably less than $½ million a year, and it has no employees.
†Or, as I call them, the Democratic Party establishment’s (There is no Democratic Party establishment) base.
States are in conflict over the collection of income taxes for remotely working employees.
States like New Hampshire and Connecticut, who have large numbers of people who work in other states, are attempting to claw back taxes that would have been collected if they still went into the office:
The rise of remote workers during the Covid-19 pandemic has led to a showdown in the U.S. Supreme Court over which state gets to tax their income.
More than a dozen states submitted legal briefs this week to weigh in on a petition that New Hampshire filed with the court in October to stop Massachusetts from taxing residents working remotely. The petition says Massachusetts doesn’t have the right to tax the income of New Hampshire residents who previously commuted to their jobs in Massachusetts but now work from home.
The case hasn’t yet been scheduled for a private conference among Supreme Court justices, who will decide whether they will grant it a hearing. A ruling would have significant budget implications for states that have lost billions of dollars in tax revenue during the pandemic and could set a precedent on taxing remote workers that endures past the coronavirus crisis.
The U.S. Congress has for years discussed setting clearer rules for interstate taxation disputes, but hasn’t passed any legislation. New Hampshire took its complaint directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, which has original jurisdiction over disputes between two or more states.
This does raise some interesting issues, and I would expect it to make it to the Supreme Court, as this is a classic sort of interstate conflict that they resolve, but I’m an engineer, not a doctor, dammit!*
*I love it when I get to go all Dr. McCoy!