The editors of the Wall Street Journal report the latest in Illinois’s ongoing soap opera:
On Tuesday evening the Governor with the worst job in America explained why he and his fellow Republicans have offered to raise taxes for the sake of ending a multiyear budget impasse with Democrats. He said he’ll accept a four-year increase in the flat state income tax to 4.95% from the current 3.75%, expand the sales tax and implement a cable and satellite TV tax.
This is a political defeat by any definition since Mr. Rauner campaigned on lowering the income tax to 3%, not on restoring the rate close to what it was under the last Democratic Governor. The “temporary” 5% rate partially sunset in December 2014. Democrats who run the legislature refused to negotiate over a budget unless Mr. Rauner agreed to a tax increase, and now they’re refusing to make notable spending or economic reforms in return.
Mr. Rauner is also proposing to freeze property taxes and says the deal will reduce the state’s backlog of unpaid bills by at least $4 billion. The property-tax freeze could provide some election contrast with Democrats. But a freeze isn’t a reduction from already sky-high property levies, and the current backlog of unpaid state bills is $15.1 billion.
The bigger problem is that his proposed deal includes almost none of the reforms Illinois desperately needs to compete with neighboring states and repair its fisc. It includes nothing on right-to-work and little workers’ compensation reform. It doesn’t give local governments the collective-bargaining reforms they need and it fails to solve the state’s $130 billion or so in unfunded pension liabilities.
Rauner’s opposition to the “temporary” 5% income tax rate was largely responsible for his election in the first place. Assuming he runs for re-election, I think this move dooms his chances and along with them any likelihood of Illinois’s dealing with the problems that got us into the fix we’re in. They predated his governorship and the legislature has done exactly nothing to change Illinois’s downward course.
Perhaps I should start a pool on how many Illinoisans there will be in 2020 when the next decennial census is taken. I’m guessing we won’t be the fifth most populous state any more.
In an op-ed in the Washington Post George P. Shultz proposes an interesting strategy:
Adopting a carbon dividend approach would pay huge dividends for the global climate, the U.S. economy and U.S. leadership in the world.
Our carbon dividend strategy has four interrelated elements that account for its strength: a gradually rising and revenue-neutral carbon tax; carbon dividend payments made equally to all Americans, to be funded using all the carbon-tax revenue; rollback of costly command-and-control regulations that were implemented because the environmental costs of carbon fuels have not been incorporated into their price; and border adjustment to ensure a level playing field and U.S. competitiveness.
From my point of view it’s just missing one thing: progressivity. The “carbon dividends” paid to those with the lowest incomes should be highest, decreasing until no dividends at all are paid to the highest income earners. If my calculations are correct and carbon emissions increase geometrically with income that’s the only way to produce presumably desired effect.
CNN has proclaimed Republican Karen Handel the victor over Democratic tyro Jon Ossoff in the race to replace Tom Price in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District:
Atlanta (CNN)Republican Karen Handel defeated Democrat Jon Ossoff in a high-stakes special election for a Georgia House seat on Tuesday, denying Democrats their first major victory of the Donald Trump era.
Handel bested Ossoff by 5 percentage points in the most expensive House race in history.
It was a much closer margin than the 20-plus point wins typically posted by former Rep. Tom Price — whose departure to become Trump’s health and human services secretary created the vacancy.
An astonishing $55 million was spent on the election, mostly by Democrats and much of it provided by outside groups. Consider this graph, helpfully provided by the New York Times, carefully:
Note that the total money raised and spent is a lousy predictor of the outcome but that the money raised in Georgia is a pretty good one. Democrats managed to narrow the lead but didn’t win. To state the obvious: that isn’t enough.
Democrats need to rediscover basic retail politics.
One thing they might want to try is developing a substantive policy agenda to run on. They came close this time, and they’ll just need to put forth an attractive package for voters in the 2018 midterms.
It will take sustained effort and attention but it’s the only way to win.
One final thought. Question: who benefited from all of the money that was spent losing the run-off election? Answer: television, consultants, and Democratic operatives. Follow the money.
Webster’s definition is “the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion”.
Hence my question. Was the guy driving his van into a group of people coming out of a mosque in Finsbury Park in North London and shrieking “I want to kill more Muslims” committing an act of terrorism? He’s apparently being charged with terrorism.
I don’t believe it is terrorism because there are no indications it had the political objectives associated with a terrorist attack. I also don’t think the guy was crazy. I think he was angry.
Here’s the thing. I don’t think that the attacks in Westminster, Manchester, or London Bridge were terrorist attacks either because I don’t think they were intended to produce political results, at least not political results within the United Kingdom. I think that more than anything else they are intended to signal the virtue of the perpetrators to other Muslims, perverse as that may sound, although they might have been expressions of anger, too, or hatred or just plain crazy.
So, that’s my question. Was it terrorism? If you think it was, please supply your definition of terrorism, taking care that your definition does not overflow its banks and drown any meaningful use of the word.
In his latest New York Times column David Brooks is baffled:
In retrospect Whitewater seems overblown. And yet it has to be confessed that, at least so far, the Whitewater scandal was far more substantive than the Russia-collusion scandal now gripping Washington.
There may be a giant revelation still to come. But as the Trump-Russia story has evolved, it is striking how little evidence there is that any underlying crime occurred — that there was any actual collusion between the Donald Trump campaign and the Russians. Everything seems to be leaking out of this administration, but so far the leaks about actual collusion are meager.
There were some meetings between Trump officials and some Russians, but so far no more than you’d expect from a campaign that was publicly and proudly pro-Putin. And so far nothing we know of these meetings proves or even indicates collusion.
Let me remove his confusion. The purpose of the investigation is not to determine the facts behind the allegation of collusion between the Trump Administration and the Russian government. That’s already been accomplished and there wasn’t any.
No, the purpose of the investigation is to provide covering fire for the DNC. Let me explain. Shortly after Trump’s election, the Clinton campaign advanced the notion of collusion between Trump and the Russian government as an explanation for Hillary Clinton’s loss, a loss that could easily be explained by the candidate’s incompetence.
But Hillary Clinton was foisted on Democratic voters by the Democratic National Committee. A group of unreconstructed Clintonistas, put in place for just this purpose, conspired and put roadblocks against any other candidate. That was the truth revealed by the leak of their emails and it is the truth that is unforgiveable.
Here’s how the editors of the Wall Street Journal report the story:
A bipartisan conceit has been that the U.S. can defeat Islamic State by ducking the larger conflict in Syria, and now we’re finding out that may not be possible. A U.S. F-18 jet shot down a Syrian bomber on Sunday to protect U.S. allies fighting Islamic State, and on Monday Russia and Iran threatened to target U.S. planes in response.
A U.S. fighter shot down the Syrian SU-22 plane after Syrian aircraft made their second bombing run against Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) allied with the U.S. near Taqba. The regime was clearly testing whether the U.S. would assist its allies on the ground. The U.S. needed to send a deterrent message or Syrian President Bashar Assad will continue to press his offensive across SDF-held territory.
The risk of escalation is real, but this isn’t a skirmish the U.S. can easily avoid. Mr. Assad and his allies in Moscow and Tehran know that ISIS’s days controlling Raqqa in Syria are numbered. They want to assert control over as much territory as possible in the interim, and that means crushing the SDF.
Here’s how I would report the facts:
Assad is not a good guy. We would be right in wanting him removed by legal means, i.e. diplomacy. We should not be trying to remove him by force of arms and in particular we should not be supporting Al Qaeda to get rid of him which is what we’ve been doing. We should doubly not want to foment direct military conflict with Russia.
Most of the news reports surrounding the arrest of a man for killing a 17 year old girl in Virginia do mention that the girl was a Muslim returning from a Ramadan event but they don’t mention that the man was an illegal immigrant from Salvador. They do mention that the crime is being treated as a road rage incident but they don’t say what sparked the incident.
Here’s my question: what’s relevant? I think that the girl was a Muslim is probably irrelevant if it was road rage but that the man’s immigration status was relevant because of the very high rate at which illegal immigrants commit crimes in the United States, particularly homicide. I can see reasonable arguments that both facts were relevant or that neither were.
I find that the reporting of this incident highlights how news reporting, even the reporting of local news, is being slanted to promote, even unintentionally, a political agenda.
As temperatures rise, both metaphorically and actually, and an increasing percentage of Americans believe that our political discourse is uncivil and that the differences between us are not reconcilable, people are starting to wonder how we started on the present path. E. J. Dionne blames it on Newt Gingrich. Others blame it on the confirmation hearings of Clarence Thomas or Robert Bork.
I think it started with the confirmation hearings of John Tower. John Tower was a long-time senator from Texas whom George H. W. Bush nominated to be his Secretary of Defense shortly after he was elected to the presidency. Senate Democrats loathed John Tower.
He was a Republican who had taken a seat that had been held by Democrats since Reconstruction and that they had believed belonged to them by right. By most accounts he was not a nice guy. He drank too much, chased women, and was a nasty political infighter. He was rejected by the Senate 47-53 on a straight party line vote—hard to justify as anything other than political retribution. It was the first time the Senate had ever rejected a newly-elected president’s nominee to the his cabinet.
Some say that Tower’s repudiation by the Senate was retribution for the Newt Gingrich-engineered ouster of Jim Wright as House Speaker but 1) there’s pretty good evidence that Wright was dirty; 2) it was the House, which has had dirty political infighting since there has been a House; and 3) the House never rejected Wright—he resigned. Jim Wright’s ethics investigation did lay down a marker for increasing Congressional partisanship and there are some that attribute George H. W. Bush’s election to the scandal surrounding Jim Wright. I think that’s a stretch.
The campaign against Jim Wright wasn’t shocking. The bitterness of the campaign against John Tower in the theretofore collegial Senate was.
I’ve written about the change in demographics of agricultural workers in the Southeast in the past here. While looking for something completely different I stumbled across this account at Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project of the changing demographics of agricultural workers in Washington State:
Until the late twentieth century, the majority of agricultural workers in Washington State were white, native-born, mostly single men under the age of 40. Therefore, early organizing strategies among farm workers usually involved male white migrant men. Organizing efforts that did involve people of color generally occurred separately from white labor struggles, as in the case of Filipino labor unionism in the 1930s.
What caused that change? What happened in the 1970s? I don’t think it was a surge in alternative employment opportunities elsewhere for white workers. Did farm work suddenly become distasteful? Or was there some other change?