Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Good Policy and the GOP: Like Water, Oil and something that doesn't Mix with Water or Oil

I wish I had mentioned this at the time, but Republican Dave Camp came out with a tax plan a while ago that seemed actually pretty decent - insofar as GOP tax plans go.  It seemed to be revenue neutral, partly due to a tax on too-big-to-fail banks.  Unlike previous republican tax reforms (I'm looking at you, W), it didn't just lower taxes by increasing the debt (that cardinal sin, according to any republican, if it's done by a non-republican).  
Camp's plan would lower the tax brackets, although not excessively, but more importantly it actually confronts the many loopholes tax code.  Some of the biggest, like the mortgage-tax deduction, would be removed.  That's politically brave beyond most politicians these days, so you have to give it to Camp for his effort.  This is the GOP first tax reform attempt in memory that can actually be called a tax plan, rather than a piece of conservative agitprop.  It gives real detail to the cuts and difficult choices necessary to lower the highest tax bracket and the corporate tax.  It explains how these tax cuts will be paid for, without the handwaving and mystical "economic growth from trickle-down effects will balance the budget" which characterized Paul Ryan and Romney's plans.

Naturally, other Republicans hated the plan.  This leads to my favorite pundit/snark-machine Jonathan Chait's analysis;
Republican leaders like Mitch McConnell (“no hope”) and John Boehner (“blah blah blah blah”) have dismissed Camp’s plan as a utopian exercise, both because they fear its specific provisions will be used against Republicans, and also because they are soulless hacks. 
So predictably the plan has now been discarded and disowned by the GOP.  As Robert Frost might have told us, Nothing Gold Can Stay.  

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Henry Kissenger is a Dove, Apparently.

That or, maybe, just perhaps, the chicken hawks yelling for Obama to "confront Putin" (whatever that means) have no actual strategy beyond posturing and demagoguing.  

"A wise U.S. policy toward Ukraine would seek a way for the two parts of the country to cooperate with each other. We should seek reconciliation, not the domination of a faction."
Does this sound like it's coming from the exact opposite of the spectrum as Ted Cruz?  Seems that way to me.

"Putin should come to realize that, whatever his grievances, a policy of military impositions would produce another Cold War. For its part, the United States needs to avoid treating Russia as an aberrant to be patiently taught rules of conduct established by Washington. Putin is a serious strategist — on the premises of Russian history. Understanding U.S. values and psychology are not his strong suits. Nor has understanding Russian history and psychology been a strong point of U.S. policymakers."

No shit.

And a key point here:

"Russia would not be able to impose a military solution without isolating itself at a time when many of its borders are already precarious. For the West, the demonization of Vladimir Putin is not a policy; it is an alibi for the absence of one."

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

"Putin has actually acted. Obama must do the same!"

Or so someone just told me.

So if Putin takes off his shirt, does that mean Obama should do the same?  What if Putin makes a move on an underage blond somewhere, should Obama follow suit?  What if Putin puts on a goofy hat?  Takes up line dancing?  MY GOD MAN, WHERE DOES IT END???

Right now, Obama is ordering the CIA to get him a pair of goggles.  For America! 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Chris Christie to New York and New Jersey drivers: You Shall Not Pass!!!

Why do I create these lame shoops?




Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Is the Pope Catholic?

From the NYT
Francis has regularly attracted huge crowds in Vatican City, and almost overnight he has emerged as a major figure on the global stage, surprising many Catholics with hisnonjudgmental tone on issues like homosexuality and divorce, and his focus on the plight of the world’s poor. He has also been unpredictable, telephoning ordinary people who have written him letters, embracing a badly disfigured man at St. Peter’s, and making unannounced visits in Rome.He proved unpredictable again on Wednesday, when he went off script to include atheists in his call for peace, rare for a Catholic leader.“I invite even nonbelievers to desire peace,” he said. “Let us all unite, either with prayer or with desire, but everyone, for peace.”
Fox News must be flipping s#$%.  I would go check, but I don't want to spoil such a wonderful day looking at that page.

In the words of Tiny Tim"A Merry Christmas to us all; God bless us, every one!" -
and Peace to All Good People.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Blessing of Peace from the Ayatollah. Wait, what?

No, not that Ayatollah.
Ali Khamenei, also known as the Ayatollah of difficult-to-pronounce-yet-amusing-names has apparently given the public nod to the US-Iran peace deal.  More than that, "decider-in-Sharif" (zing!) has gone above-and-beyond in supporting the deal, even against the more hard-line Iranian conservatives (read: the really crazy people).

From Max Fisher at the Washpo:
What makes this letter significant is not just that Khamenei is blessing the deal, but that he's giving Rouhani some political cover in Tehran. This suggests, and is surely meant to broadcast as much, that Khamenei not only supports the deal so far but that he supports it sufficiently that he's willing to publicly pressure Iranian hard-liners to get behind it.
As Kenneth Pollack of the Brookings Institution told me recently, "Khamenei does have, as best as any outsider can tell, all of the power he needs to force this through the system, to overcome the opposition of the hardliners. But. We've never seen Khamenei actually overrule the hard-liners on an issue of this kind of importance." 

Awesome!  So it sounds like the deal will survive the Iranian version of our Neoconservatives and Republicans.  Now we'll see if Obama can do the same.

I'm curious though; who is the dark authority who can quell the chicken-hawks?  Do we need to start baking cookies for Roger Ailes?

And what kind of cookies does Roger Ailes eat? 

I have my money on chocolate-chip and brimstone.

One last thing: the award for political understatement of the year goes to Max Fisher for this whopper (from the article above): 

"It can be easy for Americans to forget that Iranian politics are complicated and noisy."
It is also easy for Fisher to forget how much Americans have ever known about Iranian politics: almost nothing.

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Sign of The (Tehran) Times

I've been trying to check the Tehran Times to get the Iranian perspective on the recent nuclear/sactions deal.  Seems like an import point of view, right?

No dice.

Got this when checking the website:

Either they're really busy, or someone is not happy with their website.