Monday, November 20, 2017

Odd Bits - The Funneling Upward Edition

More Lying
I want you to keep in mind that every time a Republican refers to the current legislative abomination as a “middle-class tax cut,” they are lying through their teeth. (Much in the same way they called an environmental bill that loosened pollution rules The Clear Skies Act, which did absolutely nothing to make the skies clearer.) It’s all in the name of conning you into thinking you’re getting part of the pie.

As I’ve said before, their primary concern is to get a massive tax cut for businesses and the top 1%. Anything aimed at the middle class will be the minimum amount necessary to get the bill passed. In other words, the scraps.

And they know they have to hurry. Republican control of the executive and legislative branches may end at any time, depending on who gets swept into or out of office on the wave of a scandal.

Notice that the tax cuts for the rich are made permanent, while the scraps for the lower and middle classes expire in a few years. That alone tells you where their priorities are. (They ain’t with you and me.)

Also, notice how they’re giving us the scraps with one hand while taking them back with the other. Sure, we may benefit from a higher standard deduction, but they also end deductions for state tax and other deductions commonly used by us non-rich. End result will often be a wash.  Meanwhile, there is no check or closing of loopholes surrounding the cuts for the highest earners.

They’re also trying to do an end-around on crippling the ACA by ending the mandatory insurance requirement. That saves money on the cost of the bill but results in millions of people losing their insurance when the rates go up to accommodate the loss of premiums.

That section might not make the cut, however, because the same senators who shot down the health care bills before might do so again (unless they can be threatened or browbeaten into submission by the party machinery and rich donors.) At least two, Flake and McCain, have nothing to lose, due to their not seeking re-election. And if they don’t vote before the Alabama election, they might lose another vote there.

I’m not optimistic on that front. If it starts to look like the Democrat is in line to win the seat, I expect the state GOP to pull something like delaying the election. They don’t care how bad it looks; Koch Brothers want their tax cut, appearances be damned. (It’s the same way they were impervious to public pressure when they stalled a Supreme Court nomination for 10 months. Their benefactors’ voice is the only ones they hear.)

That deafening silence you hear? That’s coming from the deficit-hawk tea baggers, who proclaimed for the last 8 years that increasing the deficit was the road to ruin. They should probably issue a retroactive disclaimer that deficits are just fine as long as rich, white people are getting their taxes cut.

Just watch, if this bill passes and the deficit balloons, these simpering bastards will start looking for social programs to cut, which has always been the other half of their goal. They’re not going to cut a dollar from the defense budget, believe me… only programs that help the lower and middle class will be in jeopardy.

And the idea that businesses are going to plunge their new-found revenues into more jobs and higher wages? A group of CEOs shot that one down last week. It was almost laughable. An administration flak asked a roomful of corporate CEOs, how many of you “plan to increase your company’s capital investments?” Only a few hands went up.

Why? Companies are already massively profitable. They can push their cash anywhere they choose right now, but it’s better for them if their profit margin is higher. So, you don’t see that kind of investment now and you won’t see it later if this tax bill passes.

That right there undercuts every rationale the Republicans are using to trick you into supporting a tax plan that screws you just to benefit them. This plan is simply a way to take money from the Have Nots and move it to the Haves.

Rest in Peace
There were a couple of well-known deaths in the news over the weekend.

Most upsetting to me was the loss of AC/DC founder and rhythm guitarist, Malcolm Young. He had been suffering from dementia and related ailments since 2014. 
I’ve written about my life-long love of AC/DC before. People usually know his younger brother, eternally schoolboy-suited Angus Young, as the focal point and face of the band, but Malcolm was the heart. As the rhythm guitarist, he created some of the most monumental and powerful guitar riffs in rock and roll.  You know the songs…

You Shook Me, Dirty Deeds, Highway to Hell, TNT, Whole Lotta Rosie, Let There Be Rock, and so many others… they’re all songs you know the instant they come on, due to that signature riff, which was played (and probably written) by Malcolm Young.

Writing hooks that catchy and that powerful… it’s not easy. Sure AC/DC is loud and primitive, but they’ve always had that big hook that goes straight to your groove center and that’s something I find sorely lacking in modern music.

Mister Young will be missed, by a legion of old metalheads, like me.

Director’s DVD Commentary: How cool are my parents when on Sunday, my 79-year old dad sent me a condolences text for Malcolm Young? I must have raised them right.

Rot in Hell
In happier news, cancer on mankind, Charles Manson, died in prison this weekend.

It’s about time. Now we can be spared his regular moments in the spotlight every time he comes up for parole. As if THAT was ever going to happen.

It’s funny though, about the timing. Last month, I just re-read the book Helter Skelter, which is an account of the whole Manson saga as written by the prosecutor who put them all in jail. (I’d seen a TV movie based on the book, back in the early 80s, I think, then read the book a few years later.)

What struck me the most during my re-examination of the story, was how horribly the LAPD botched the investigation. They literally had one of the murder weapons in their possession for months, without knowing about it. And they neglected to investigate the area where it was found, or else they would have located incriminating, bloody clothing as well. A news crew found this stash when they followed the lead themselves.

The prosecutor also lamented his troubles in getting them to, well, DO anything. He’d give them leads to check out, based on his interviews with the Manson clan or associates, then check back weeks later to find they hadn’t worked on any of them.

You’d think that a case of such notoriety would have gotten people off their butts, but they seemed entirely indifferent. It’s a wonder he got convictions on ANY of the killers, let alone the guy who never actually killed anyone himself.

The trial itself was a real three-ring circus. Because Manson was not allowed to represent himself, he hired a lawyer known for his dilatory tactics, like objecting to everything the prosecution said and did. Manson repeatedly disrupted hearings, to the point where he was forbidden from attending. He followed the proceedings from a side room.

His three co-defendants, each with their own counsel, caused numerous disruptions as well, which Manson was assumed to have orchestrated.

As a boy, I remember reading about the murders in our Time/Life Year in Review annuals. I found them fascinating as well as horrifying. It all seemed so exotic, and I guess it was. It’s not like we’ve ever seen anything like that ever since.

Anyway, we’re shut of the likes of Charlie Manson now. The world is a better place without him.

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