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Member since: Sat Sep 6, 2003, 04:28 AM
Number of posts: 15,909

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Jennifer Palmieri, please refine your message.

Chuck Todd, Mr. false equivalence, threw a question at you related to the fact that Republicans wanted Bill Clinton to be impeached at one point during his presidency... you replied saying that “yeah, but Bill Clinton wasn’t a threat to the democracy”. That part was a good, quick, sharp and true answer.

BUT... you then launched into the Democrats need to do this, need to do that, and democrats need to be a check on the presidency...I do not think that is the correct approach.

Rather -
yeah, but Bill Clinton wasn’t a threat to the democracy...
and *not only democrats recognize the threat* — scores of leading right wing thinkers are saying it too — even very conservative thinkers like David Frum and Max Boot and Bill Kristol are warning the country that he is unfit and a threat to democracy...

It’s not only Trump though — the entire GOP Congress is looking the other way — here’s evidence of serious crimes including money laundering and possible treason...but the GOP is willing to enable trump, to be sycophants, tearing down the reputations of people like Mueller.

If there’s any patriotism left on the other side, then they will do the hard thing and the right thing. Republicans can’t leave it up to the other party to clean up this mess.


Several thoughts.
God damn WSJ... now we always have to second guess the reason for an article and the truth of it.

in a world where Trump admires Xi, what protection does the Uighur filmmaker have in Virginia?

Choice of words...where the Israeli government has created a system of checkpoints and biometric surveillance to keep tabs on Palestinians.”Keep tabs on” is a friendly thing you do with your young children. “Monitor” is what you do for the sake of security or danger. What a brilliant editor to use such diction.


Pass-Thru Income explanation

Those as such a useful explanation of types of pass-thru income. By the way, it mentions that Georgia Pacific — owned by the Koch Brothers —is a rare example of a very large business that operates as a pass-through entity.


Worse than the low rates for capital gains, how about 0% tax for earnings on dynasties?

This is fascinating. We all have heard about the estate tax exemption increasing to $11 Million per person. But according to Mother Jones, it also includes a step up in basis.

So if you have SO much money that you can buy millions in Apple stock (or whatever) and keep it until the next generation inherits it, they are never going to have to pay tax on that gain either. Even when they sell it, never any tax on the gain that occurred before your death.

Estate Tax

The estate tax exemption was raised to $11 million per person or $22 million per couple. You probably knew that. But there’s more.

First, that exemption amount is now indexed to inflation. When it comes to things like the minimum wage, Republicans flatly refuse to consider inflation indexing. But for millionaires and their heirs? Why of course we have to index.

Second, the bill provides a truly massive and inexplicable gift to heirs of the rich. Suppose you inherit some Apple stock that’s increased in value from $1 million to $30 million. Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign tax plan would have exempted the first $22 million, but then you’d have to pay capital gains taxes on the remaining $8 million. In other words, you had to pay taxes on something. Not anymore, though. Not only has the estate tax been eliminated for estates under $22 million, but the Republican bill keeps the current “step-up” law, which means assets are automatically revalued upon death and no capital gains taxes are due. If dad sells off his holdings himself, he has to pay capital gains on the profit. But if he dies and you sell it, you’re free and clear. Even the biggest proponents of killing the estate tax never imagined a gift this brazen.

So who wanted this, anyway? You don’t have to ask, do you? This has been an obsession of the ultra-wealthy for decades. They have long loathed the fact that they can’t control their fortunes even in death, and they loathe it even more that the federal government will get a cut of their hard-earned riches. With this tax bill, they have almost reached their goal of eliminating not just the estate tax, but taxes of any kind on their accumulated wealth.

Did Chris van Hollen just say that 48% of stock owned by foreign investors? So $ goes abroad?

On Laurence O’Donnell. So middle class loses out big time, and wealthy investors abroad get the benefit?

What did wealthy Democratic donors feel about Franken?

Who has been annoyed at Franken?
November 8th
Franken Calls for Big Tech Algorithms to Be More Transparent

Franken “delivered a speech to the group in which he compared the power of the big tech platforms to that of internet-service providers, or ISP’s, to "pick and choose which content reaches consumers and which doesn’t." Franken supported a rule change designed to deny the ISP’s such control. "Facebook, Google and Amazon, like ISP’s, should be neutral in their treatment of the flow of lawful information and commerce on their platforms," he said.”

Al Franken Drops A Truth Bomb And Calls The GOP Health Care Bill A Tax Cut For Billionaires
By Jason Easley on Thu, Jun 22nd, 2017 at 3:51 pm
Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) is calling the Republican health care bill what it really is. Franken described the bill as a thinly disguised tax cut for billionaires.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015
Franken Renews Push for Wealthiest Americans to Pay their Fair Share in Taxes
Today, U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) joined a group of his colleagues in reintroducing key tax fairness legislation—commonly known as the "Buffett Rule"—to require that America's top earners pay their fair share of taxes just like middle-class Minnesotans.

The Paying a Fair Share Act would ensure that millionaires and billionaires pay at least a 30 percent effective federal tax rate, which means they can't pay a lower rate than what middle-class Minnesotans pay. The legislation, often called the "Buffett Rule," was put forth after billionaire investor Warren Buffett realized that he paid a lower tax rate than his secretary.

Franken Fights Back against Big Banks & Corporate Special Interests That Want to Limit Consumer Justice

Says Congressional Attempt to Roll Back CFPB Arbitration Rule is Great News for Wall Street Billionaires, Bad News for Minnesota Families and the American Consumer

Climate deniers?
Al Franken’s devastating strategy for taking on Trump’s team of climate science deniers
Knowledge of climate science plus mastery of storytelling is a rare combination.

Al’s “mastery of storytelling” makes him a great communicator on a lot of issues, by the way.

So, who has a lot of influence over leaders of our own party? Even more than voters..
One such person has done great things for Democratic causes, donating $1 M to Hillary’s campaign, and $100,000 to Kamala Harris (who I think is a great addition even though I’m disappointed with her over the Franken issue), clearly wants democrats to win but clearly does not appreciate those who talk about the billionaires. I was watching the interview when he said it, and was intrigued by how much bitterness or anger he displayed toward statements of economic class in the Democratic Party.
On November 7, 2017 Cloobeck appeared on MSNBC and said he told Democratic leaders he would "cut your money off" if they criticize the wealthy, saying: "I’ve talked to Schumer, I’ve talked to [Dem. Senator Ron] Wyden [Oregon], I’ve talked to [House minority leader] Pelosi and I’ve said if you use the term 'billionaire' again, I’m done. We should be a party of business".

Cloobeck wants to run for governor of Nevada. Great, I hope he succeeds. But if you want to look for why some Dems were willing to throw Al under the bus (while justifying it on the basis of larger strategic objectives or standing up for some ill-considered zero tolerance policy), don’t overlook the influence of a man who can afford to throw $1M at a presidential campaign. I have a feeling there might be a connection. He doesn’t have to whisper in the ears of every one of them, just one or two. Letting Al go might have been a popular move (with Cloobeck or other wealthy donors). How painful it is for congress members to raise campaign funds every day, versus getting the promise of major funds from one very wealthy and very motivated donor.

The guy seems sincere in his centrist patriotic fervor, but the outsized influence of a man like him can make certain words verboten from our elected leaders. (And yes, I know Warren also uses these words all the time. So what?)

How do we reprogram a cult with 30% in its spell, which billionaire media machines reinforce daily?

They are a cult, and the cultmakers’ organizational power is growing. Its biggest strength has been in the brainwashing mechanisms that have been set up to immerse people in right wing ideology, and program them like robots to interpret everything in the same ways. Breitbart on Sirius? Oh, yeah, that’s what we need. Pre-packaged and filtered content after net neutrality rules are reversed? Great. Expansion of Sinclair into more markets? Check. Witch hunts helpful in taking down or intimidating outspoken countervailing voices? Got them too.

This cult is led not by Jim Jones or even by Trump, but by voices coming over Fox News and Breitbart. Well funded voices, and their funding may become self sustaining if the Koch Brothers and Mercers and Adelsons get their wish to leave their massive estates tax free in the hands of ideological organizations. The mechanisms to defend the cult have been perfected, because cult members have been trained to reject all other sources of information, particularly major news media of NY Times and Washington Post.

It would be hard to overestimate the danger the country and its democracy is in. Authoritarianism and extremist ideologies are solidifying their position every day. The Resistance needs brave, loud voices in Congress and the Senate who can break through the spell. The Resistance needs methods to drive “paradigm shifts” en masse. The Resistance needs tools to stop the automatic funneling of our resources through the very channels that are holding us captive (I.e., cable bills that put FOX News on every TV in the country, for example; or oil and gas lobbyists that twist legislation and legislators to suit their needs).

Does anyone know how to reprogram a cult?

This whole healthcare fiasco very telling: Discussion CAN'T focus on excess profits driving cost

The country spends almost DOUBLE per capita what other countries spend.
💰We have $10,000 injectable opioid antidotes that used to cost $65.
💰We have $70,000 per year MS drugs that cost $7,000 in the U.K.
💰We have kickbacks to doctors, who themselves are in deep debt due to unfunded universities and medical schools.
💰We have trumped-up dieseases wherein the limits for saying you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol were artificially lowered due to lobbying from drug companies that simply wanted to expand their market.
💰We have direct-to-consumer drug advertising every 5 minutes on TV.
💰We have very well-paid executives, like the United Healthcare CEO who received annual compensation between $30 M and $100 M per year -- whose MAIN job is to increase profits, increase revenue, and increase value back to shareholders.
💰We have at least $100 Billion dollars in dividends going back to stockholders in the for-profit healthcare industry.

Even on MSNBC, the debate isn't -- and CAN'T be -- seriously focused on why medical costs are so high, because, well, there is direct-to-consumer drug advertising every 5 minutes .

How much of the $4.5 trillion health care cost in the US is turning into profit for the top 1%? How much of it is unnecessary treatment driven by a desire to increase revenues to for-profit companies?
The Powell memo has been so successful that the only argument allowed is "some people want free stuff and they want ME to pay for it through higher taxes". do they teach the
Powell memo in school now? Ha. I doubt it -- and if they did, any person in the state of Florida has the legal right to challenge it, even non-parents.

Russian oligarchs and American Liberty

I was curious which Russian born spy turned "lobbyist" might have been present at the Kushner-Manafort-Trumplet meeting, and googled. Didn't find an answer, but I did find a couple of interesting articles. One was an article in the Weekly Standard (ugh, I know) from April 2012 saying that one of the oligarchs, Bidzina Ivanishvili, "one of the world's richest men with an estimated $6.5 billion fortune, hired a small army of PR consultants and lobbyists in Washington, including at least 7 of Washington’s most prominent firms". It says that he is "the single largest private investor in Russia’s state-owned gas giant Gazprom. He also holds a major stake in the Russian oil company Lukoil" and praises Putin. April 2012, an election year.

I also ran across this: http://www.therussianoligarchs.com Which has an interesting graphic or article or two. The 24 year old daughter of Rybolovlev is the new owner of the Cyprus island that Jackie Onassis once lived on -- maybe a birthday present, because fourteen months earlier she was also given a Central Park penthouse.

There's a graphic showing that the world's second biggest collection of billionaires is in Russia.

One of the oligarchs with political ambitions lists Renaissance Capital as one of his major holdings ($460 M). Is that the Mercer firm? Maybe not. Appears to be a separate Russian company with a similar name.

There's an article about how Miami is becoming the "Russian Riviera". Which again makes me think about Berenton Whisenant, the federal prosecutor found dead on the beach near Miami ("head wound by possible gunshot or other trauma", who'd been "handling several visa and passport cases". http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/obituaries/article152981139.html and

Outside of google, in real life, I meet a freshly minted Russian immigre, a young man with an unusually hard or aggressive edge about him, who picks me ups in an Uber, in a suburb not so far from the place where Peter Smith, the GOP conspiracy true believer who committed suicide ten days after disclosing his own Russia-Trump connections to the Wall Street Journal, lived. There's a Russian-born banker whose son is no longer friends with my own, after his dad freaked out that that I'd let them take an Uber together. (What a great database Uber must be compiling, all the addresses that people go to. Which we know they USE, at least, to avoid picking up anti-Uber politicians.) I laugh at my own "lighthearted paranoia"; it amuses me to mention to a close friend that I noticed a group of Russians meeting up and high-fiving back in an obscure restaurant not long after the election. Celebrating. I'm a fan of a kind of dark humor, when things get bleak. Abramovich had the world's largest yacht parked by the Statue of Liberty for a while - is it still there, blocking the view? (Nope. It finally moved. http://nypost.com/2017/06/19/statue-of-liberty-finally-free-of-oil-tycoons-mega-yacht/)

My city is one of three cities mentioned as a hotbed concentration for Russian spies, per James Clapper, if I recall. Mr. Clapper says there's been a sharp increase in Russian spies and visa applications after election. He says they are laying the groundwork for the 2018 elections. http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/06/politics/russia-steps-up-spying-efforts-after-election/index.html Maybe there are many more, people who get jobs here to support themselves in mundane roles, so they blend in. Maybe at various levels in society. It feels like the "Red Scare", but I don't feel any animosity toward the individuals; that's just the system they were born into. They are humans first, potential spies second. Up until the point where they get involved in pushing people out of windows. It's America, right? We let anyone in, if you are loyal to America. (Except Latinos coming across the border, for some reason I can't understand, but that's another story.)

The locusts are coming. What do they do when they take over a country? Maybe Russian style oligarchy is coming. Are they collecting bank account numbers too, in their hacks? Can they strip the stock market, try to trigger a collapse, make the electronic records of your money disappear?

Most of us see wealth inequality as a problem, but to some, wealth inequality is the goal. Enrich yourself like Putin and the oligarchs and the Kochs and the Mercers to become powerful, then use the power to enrich yourself further. Putin mastered this. Maybe our own oligarchs are jealous. All the oligarchs are created by greed and corrupt systems, but in Russia, they are also routinely created through fear. In Russia, Putin is the all-powerful terrifying rich guy at the top of the heap. Do our oligarchs feel less powerful in comparison? Did they feel less powerful when President Obama was in office? The oligarchs of the world are in a race to corner the private Greek islands and the private oil and the biggest yachts, and maybe 3% taxes to pay for the little people's healthcare lowers their standing on Fortune's Richest Lists.

The world's largest yacht was anchored last month in a place where it blocks the view of the Statue of Liberty, but I wouldn't feel any better if it was owned by an American, instead of a Russian. Public treasures are not anathema to freedom; they are the flowering of it, no matter what the Ayn Randians tell you. But we do like our bright illusions of freedom, and all these Russians teaming with the useful idiot in the White House are making it pretty dark. Are we going to let America turn into the kind of oligarchy that pushes people out of fourth story apartment windows, or weakens a banister and watches them fall, or poisons them or sprays them with bullets on a public sidewalk in broad daylight, for opposing a political leader or expressing dissent or being a journalist exposing corrupt financial connections? If we let that happen, well, we might as well send that Statue all the way back to France.

Damn it,we need a fact-based debate...WHERE the money GOES, not just who to KICK OUT of lifeboat?

In this stupid debate about who should or shouldn't be thrown out of the lifeboat, about who pays for the bloated bureaucratic behemoth we call the "US Healthcare System", can we talk about health care costs?

Pharma Revenues by Market

US $339 B
Japan $94 B
China. $87 B
Germany $46 B
France. $37 B
Italy. $27 B
Britain. $24 B

Partly driven by excess marketing, absurd "what the market will bear" pricing, markets for prescriptions expanded by lobbying the AMA or NIH to drop targets for blood pressure or diabetes etc., and kickbacks to doctors.

That's just pharma. So, what happens if we focus on where the money is going? Might pharmaceutical revenues be under threat? Could it be that our public discussion is restricted to "Single Payer vs. ACA vs. Tax Credits vs. Cutting Medicaid" because focus on underlying costs would create downward pressure on revenue for major health related corporations?

One minor difference between the U.S. And other countries is gunshot wounds -- likely exceeding $3.7 billion per year. ($1.4 / 42% + $180 + $224)

From Blue Cross Website, 39% hospitals; 22% physician/clinic, 21% pharma, 10% administration.

Or this, broken down by disease.

Breakdown of hospital stays: https://www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov/reports/statbriefs/sb148.jsp
Interesting collection of public health references: http://www.bettycjung.net/Phdata2.htm

Here's a hypothesis: The RANGE of DEBATE on this topic has been ARTIFICIALLY and intentionally NARROWED to prevent real debate. Real debate might cause us to take steps like: banning direct-to-consumer ads, outlawing price differentials based on who pays for a procedure or drug, identifying the most wasteful and ineffective drugs, prohibiting price gouging. What we humans see as "savings" is seen by WallStreet (and its most important owners) as drops in revenue. The impact on market cap is the bitter pill that the Owners refuse to swallow.

They'd rather kill Medicaid and eventually Medicare, and force old or sick people to use their life savings and reverse mortgages to cope with inflated costs, than accept a present decline in Pfizer or Untied HealthCare or Merck or Aetna stock. That's a big part of the reason that common sense is swimming upstream in American politics. Protecting the Dow.
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