Labels, Soros, and Right-Wing Insanity

Libtard. Snowflake. SJW (social justice warrior).  Sheep. Sheeple. The folks on the right have an endless stream of put-down labels for those of us on the left. The latest one, which I learned about in a NY Times story, is NPC, which stands for “NonPlayable Character.” The phrase is “borrowed from the world of video games, for a character that is controlled by the computer rather than by a player.” In other words, in the real world an NPC is someone who is incapable of independent thinking. And that’s how millions of conservatives see us.  As the article explains, conservatives believe, “Liberals… join the anti-Trump crowd not because they are led by independent thought or conscience to oppose President Trump’s policies, but because they’re brainwashed sheep who have been conditioned to parrot left-wing orthodoxy.” Yes, Fox “News” and social media posts throw those labels around frequently, and always in that context – that we are “brainwashed.”

They “know” that we are sheep led by the nose by Saul Alinsky, George Soros, and Nancy Pelosi. We cannot see the “truth” they see.

How ironic. How stupid.

In their closed minds, they refuse to acknowledge what we see every single day:

·       Tax cuts for the rich with little for the middle or lower class

·       Stagnant wage growth

·       A massively ballooning federal budget deficit (which was what the Tea Party fought against!)

·       No healthcare alternative to the ACA

·       Dismantling of protections of our air and water

·       Crumbling roads and bridges with no plan in sight

·       Rampant racism and sexism

·       Attacks on our closest allies while cozying up to Putin and other brutal dictators

·       The very real march towards fascism

·       The daily attacks on the Free Press

·       The attacks on the FBI and our Intelligence agencies

·       The daily deluge of LIES about everything

·       The stunning hypocrisy of the spineless “leaders” in the Republican party

·       The huge number of prominent Republicans who have left the party

·       Blatant conflicts-of-interest by Trump and his family

·       The unraveling of our national moral fiber.

Trump supporters see none of this. They fall back on mindless labels and personal attacks.

The Right’s disconnect from reality is not imaginary. As I posted on Facebook (“Follow” me on Facebook!) on 10/5/18,

“Senator Grassley was asked on Fox News if George Soros was “behind all this…paying these people to get in elevators and get in your face?”

“I tend to believe it,” he said.

And this, a radio interview with Senator David Perdue (R) where he said the people protesting Kavanaugh are “paid activists…This is a George Soros conspiracy.”  Plus, incredibly, he says Soros and his group pumped “$32 billion, billion! into this effort.”

That bizarre statement was from a US Senator!

It’s all so demonstrably insane; it’s what your right-leaning neighbors are listening to, all day, every day. And it’s killing our country.

The Right has gone crazy. In their own paranoia, fueled by Fox “News” and other propaganda outlets, they see only what they want to see, hear only what keeps them comfortable. They label us NPCs or snowflakes, while remaining steadfastly blind to reality and to their own best interests. The issues cited above are imaginary to them, while the preposterous idea that Soros tells me what to think is accepted as truth.

It’s bizarro world. It’s frightening. And if you care about America, understand that the only way to resist the madness is via the ballot box. Please support rational thinking! Do whatever you can.

Vote. Contribute. And spread the word.

Thanks for caring about the truth.

Ken

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Care to comment? Please do.

 

Thank You, President Obama!

Bracketed by the disastrous George W. Bush and the unstable Donald Trump, it’s clear that future historians will look kindly at Barack Obama’s presidency. On December 16, he held what was expected to be his final press conference. (He decided to have one more on 1/18/17.)  Below is a section of the opening remarks from that 12/16 session. I’ve reformatted some of the transcript to enhance the clarity and impact of his accomplishments. Nothing was changed, added or deleted from his words.

Typically, I use this year end press conference to review how far we’ve come over the course of the year.  Today, understandably, I’m going to talk a little bit about how far we’ve come over the past eight years.

  • As I was preparing to take office, the unemployment rate was on its way to 10 percent.  Today, it’s at 4.6 percent — the lowest in nearly a decade.
  • We’ve seen the longest streak of job growth on record, and wages have grown faster over the past few years than at any time in the past 40.
  • When I came into office, 44 million people were uninsured. Today, we’ve covered more than 20 million of them.
  • For the first time in our history, more than 90 percent of Americans are insured.  In fact, yesterday was the biggest day ever for HealthCare.gov.  More than 670,000 Americans signed up to get covered, and more are signing up by the day.
  • We’ve cut our dependence on foreign oil by more than half,
  • doubled production of renewable energy,
  • enacted the most sweeping reforms since FDR to protect consumers and prevent a crisis on Wall Street from punishing Main Street ever again.

None of these actions stifled growth, as critics predicted.  Instead, the stock market has nearly tripled.

Since I signed Obamacare into law, our businesses have added more than 15 million new jobs.  And the economy is undoubtedly more durable than it was in the days when we relied on oil from unstable nations and banks took risky bets with your money.

Add it all up, and last year, the poverty rate fell at the fastest rate in almost 50 years, while the median household income grew at the fastest rate on record.

In fact, income gains were actually larger for households at the bottom and the middle than for those at the top.

And we’ve done all this while cutting our deficits by nearly two-thirds and protecting vital investments that grow the middle class.

In foreign policy, when I came into office, we were in the midst of two wars.  Now, nearly 180,000 troops are down to 15,000.  Bin Laden, rather than being at large, has been taken off the battlefield, along with thousands of other terrorists.

Over the past eight years, no foreign terrorist organization has successfully executed an attack on our homeland that was directed from overseas.

Through diplomacy,

  • we’ve ensured that Iran cannot obtain a nuclear weapon — without going to war with Iran.
  • We opened up a new chapter with the people of Cuba.
  • And we brought nearly 200 nations together around a climate agreement that could very well save this planet for our kids.

And almost every country on Earth sees America as stronger and more respected today than they did eight years ago.

In other words, by so many measures, our country is stronger and more prosperous than it was when we started.  That’s a situation that I’m proud to leave for my successor.  And it’s thanks to the American people — to the hard work that you’ve put in, the sacrifices you’ve made for your families and your communities, the businesses that you started or invested in, the way you looked out for one another.  And I could not be prouder to be your President.

And we, Mr. President, are proud we elected you twice to lead us. Your quiet grace and dignity in the face of unprecedented and unrelenting opposition, your deep and wide-ranging intelligence, coupled with your unbridled enthusiasm for America and Americans, have guided us through eight difficult years.

Thank you. Thank you so very much.

Thanks for caring about the truth.

Ken

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Occupy This.

Why are the Occupy-ers upset? Their complaints are many, their solutions are few. But a recent NY Times column by the normally dry-as-dust Floyd Norris summed it up nicely.

“For companies, these are boom times. For workers, the opposite is true.”

Within the article are a series of graphs that paint a clear picture; it’s a great time to be a corporation, especially a big one. Not so for almost everyone else.

The graphs also showed that effective tax rates, both corporate and personal, are well below where they were during most of the past 50 years.

So again, beyond any doubt the rich are getting richer while everyone else treads water. Or worse.  And yet so many of my fellow one-percenters are whining about “class warfare” being waged by Obama. The class warfare, if such a thing exists in the U.S., is built into the system. (I’ll have more to say on this topic in a later post.)

And speaking of my fellow Wall Street insiders (which I’m not really), I’m happy to report that a few agree with me that the system is dangerously unbalanced. Here’s an article that shows that yes, some insiders “get it.”

Reporter Jesse Eisinger interviewed a few enlightened insiders and gives us some of the best lines written about both the financial collapse and the (non)reaction to it. He presents the problem in a nutshell …

Wall Street is already occupied — from within.

The insiders have a critique similar to that of the outsiders. The financial industry has strayed far from being an intermediary between companies that want to raise capital so they can sell people things they want. Instead, it is a machine to enrich itself, fleecing customers and widening income inequality. When it goes off the rails, it impoverishes the rest of us. When the crises come, as they inevitably do, banks hold the economy hostage, warning that they will shoot us in the head if we don’t bail them out.

I would love to hear from anyone who disagrees with those damning words.

Loopholes and Billionaires

Usually I stick to big broad themes. Not today. Today’s post is more targeted, and this is personal. I know this stuff because I am a Registered Investment Advisor, and tax loopholes infuriate me. And in a few moments, you ought to be angry as well.

As we all know, Republicans refuse to talk about raising taxes on anyone. They are happy to cut programs for everyone – the poor, the middle class, college students – but don’t dare ask the wealthy to share the burden in any way. (Oh, wait – as John Stewart so brilliantly showed with a flurry of TV clips, Republicans are not allowed to call anyone “wealthy” any more. No, they must be called “job creators.” Ha! That’s another story for another time.

Outrage #1.

You probably don’t know about something called “carried interest.” As you can read in the linked articles, these loopholes allow some of the super-wealthiest Americans – hedge fund managers and others employed in the game of moving money around – to enjoy lower tax rates than you and I pay. As the New York Times reports:

“These fund managers are compensated mostly with a performance bonus of 20 percent or more of the profits they make. Under this carried interest loophole, that 20 percent is eligible to be taxed at the long-term capital gains rate (if the fund’s underlying assets are held long enough) of just 15 percent rather than the regular personal income rate of 35 percent.”

Got that? While you are paying up to 35% on the income you earn, these guys pay only 20%. I would be thrilled if one of my Republican friends can explain to me (and I’ll post it on my blog) how this helps America in our time of need.

I live in this world. I understand compensation for performance. This is a total tax scam. Period.

Outrage #2.

As bad as the carried interest loophole is, this might be even worse. It primarily affects day traders and speculators who buy and sell futures contracts.

Read this, and explain to me why this is fair to you and me…

“For years, futures contracts, which are essentially bets on the price of commodities, stock indexes and the like, have received a more favorable tax treatment than stocks. A trader who buys and sells an oil contract in less than a year — even in a matter of minutes — pays no more than a 23 percent tax on the profits.”

Again, you and I, and all my clients, must pay 35% for any profitable investment held less than 12 months.

America’s greatest investor sums it up nicely…

“There are so many ways to attack the logic of it,” Warren Buffett, the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway said in an interview …”It doesn’t make sense.”

While Democrats are not blameless in developing these loopholes, predominantly it has been Republicans who fight hard for these loopholes. (Yes, it looks like some loopholes may be closed in the current negotiations, but rest assured the GOP will push to reinstate them ASAP.)

So the biggest question is – why does anyone in the middle class support the politicians who vigorously support these policies?
Ken

As always, here are links to my source material:
Day Traders and Speculators
Carried Interest