“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Search for the Real "NET NEUTRALITY" - Good Luck!

Internet giants show power to shape politics

Robert Epstein tried a simple experiment in the run-up to the presidential election: running searches on Google and Yahoo for political topics.

The results were stunning. Google searches returned twice as many pro-Hillary Clinton news articles as Yahoo searches.

Perhaps even more stunning was that men and blue-state residents saw more than double the number of pro-Clinton articles than women and people living in red states, Mr. Epstein, of the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology, and Robert E. Robertson, a professor at Northeastern University, argued in a report this year.

Mr. Epstein said he is still studying what caused the bias but worries that Google’s search algorithm — a form of artificial intelligence that chooses what results a searcher is looking for — ranked pro-Clinton articles ahead of positive articles about her opponent, Donald Trump.

Those algorithms have become the modern-day Walter Cronkite or Edward R. Murrow, deciding what news reaches the eyes and ears of Americans in an increasingly Google-Facebook-Twitter media environment.

In recent months, the focus has been on whether the companies were able to be manipulated by Russian-connected operatives who attempted to sow “chaos” in the U.S. surrounding last year’s elections.

But the power of the companies to shape American politics goes well beyond that.
“The social media companies are the gatekeepers,” said Frank Foer, a writer at The Atlantic and former editor of the New Republic who has authored a book on social media’s power. “Whatever choices these companies make to elevate or bury information is very powerful and will have a big impact on what people read.”
Conservatives say they have long suspected that some of the internet giants discriminate against them and their content. They point to whistleblowers who have acknowledged they were pushed to treat conservatives differently.

The companies have denied the claims. They insist the algorithms are designed to capture the most-read news stories across the political spectrum. A computer program cannot distinguish between liberal and conservative, they say.
Mr. Foer, who says he is concerned about the level of power wielded by the algorithms the tech companies use, dismisses accusations of a liberal bias as “conservative paranoia.”

Studies allege bias
But an emerging set of studies suggests there is something to the concerns.
Mr. Epstein and Mr. Robertson, in their research, looked at 4,045 election-related searches on Google and Yahoo during a 25-day period from mid-October through Election Day. They found that the pro-Clinton articles swamped pro-Trump news.
“The algorithms are not programmed with an equal time rule,” said Mr. Epstein, a vocal Clinton supporter. “They are programmed to put one thing ahead of another in a way that is highly secret and ever-changing.”

He said his experiments show the power of news searches to affect politics and has found that he could boost support for a candidate by as much as 63 percent after just one Google search session. That is based on five experiments Mr. Epstein ran in two countries in which study participants changed their opinions of a candidate based on a manipulated search engine. He has dubbed this the “search engine manipulation effect.”

A separate study by Nicholas Diakopoulos, now at Northwestern University, analyzed the Google search results on Dec. 1, 2015. He searched for the names of all 16 presidential candidates and discovered Democrats, on average, had seven favorable search results among Google’s top 10. Republican candidates, meanwhile, had only 5.9 positive articles in the top 10.

Mrs. Clinton had five positive search results but only one negative on the first page, according to the study. Mr. Trump had four positive and three negative search results on the first page. Sen. Bernard Sanders, another Democratic candidate, had nine positive results without a single negative, and Republican candidate Sen. Ted Cruz had no positive results.

Mr. Diakopoulos ran a second study during the summer before the election and found the vast majority of sources selected for Google’s news box were left-leaning outlets. The New York Times, CNN and The Washington Post accounted for nearly 50 percent of Google news sources. Articles from Fox News, the only conservative news source among the 113 featured by Google during Mr. Diakopoulos’ study, appeared about 1 percent of the time.

Google eliminated the news box in November. Company spokeswoman Maggie Shiels said the box’s algorithm picked up news across the internet.

“There are several hundred signals that go into surfacing an answer,” she said. “The algorithm does not focus on political party or ideology.”

The company is secretive about the algorithm and insists it is constantly tinkering with the formula. But it says it promotes articles based on “freshness, location, relevance and diversity.”

“As a result, stories are sorted without regard to political viewpoint or ideology and you can choose from a wide variety of perspectives on any given story,” the company says on its online explainer.

Analysts have caught some deeper glimpses over the years, based on testing and on information gleaned from patent applications Google has filed, saying Google judges trustworthiness and importance of a news site, how much content it produces and even length of stories to gauge whether to elevate a site’s content.
News operations, just like other website owners, invest a lot of time and money trying to figure out Google’s system, and an entire industry known as search engine optimization, or SEO, claims to offer shortcuts to earn more eyeballs.
Patents suggest search engines may be increasingly tailoring results to the individual’s history, promoting websites or story themes the searcher seems to select the most.

Mr. Diakopoulos said someone who searches for positive news about Trump is more likely to get exposed to conservative news, while someone who searches for left-leaning topics will receive more liberal news.

And then there is the issue of the press itself.

“If 70 percent of the news media is liberal, you can expect there to be some unequal results to come from a search engine,” Mr. Diakopoulos said.
That means the social media may not be biased, but instead is a reflection of the bias perceived in traditional media, said S. Robert. Lichter, director of the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University.

“If you are getting a certain perspective from the major news outlets, that is going to be passed on through social media, which is the last link in the chain,” he said.
But Mr. Epstein said the concern about who is creating the algorithm is just as concerning as the program itself.

“When accused of a liberal bias, these companies say, ‘It’s not us; it’s the algorithm,” he said. “That is so hilarious because they programmed the algorithm.”

Facebook workers raise questions
Accusations of an indirect bias may not carry as much weight if not accompanied by accusations of direct bias by the social media companies.

In May 2016, a group of several former Facebook workers told technology blog Gizmodo that they routinely suppressed news about prominent conservatives, including Mitt Romney, Rand Paul and the American Conservative Union’s Conservative Political Action Conference. The employees, who worked as ‘news curators,’ also said stories reported by conservative outlets such as Brietbart and Newsmax were dismissed unless The New York Times, BBC or CNN covered the same article.

Facebook denied the accusations and said an internal study found virtually identical rates of liberal and conservative new topics. The company did concede bias could have occurred through improper human actions and it would take steps to prevent it from happening in the future. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg invited 16 conservative leaders to the company’s headquarters for a meeting.
Mr. Zuckerberg opened the meeting acknowledging that both he and Facebook are liberal and that he knows little about the conservative movement, according those who attended. But Mr. Zuckerburg conceded that if Facebook wants to be an open marketplace of ideas, then it must be open to conservative viewpoints.
“The meeting opened on a positive, honest note and went that way throughout the whole meeting,” said Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center.
Mr. Bozell said Facebook has made a sincere effort since the meeting to include conservative voices.

“We’ve never had a serious problem with Facebook,” he said. “Does that make us the exception to the rule? I don’t know.”

Zachary Moffatt, CEO of Targeted Victory, a Republican political strategy group, agreed that Mr. Zuckerberg was sincere and concerned about the perception of a liberal bias. Mr. Moffatt, who is working with Facebook ahead of the Senate hearings on the Russian ad buy, said Mr. Zuckerberg’s staff has followed up since the meeting.

“I think Facebook is doing more to address the unconscious structural bias than other partners in this space,” he said.

Conservative commentator Steven Crowder was among the voices blocked by the former Facebook workers. He said a social media bias against conservatives is real but sometimes gets obscured by conservatives claiming censorship when, in fact, they violated a site’s rules by spreading fake news or using a copyrighted image or song without permission.

“There are too many conservatives screaming censorship, but they need to make sure they are not embarrassing Facebook with false stories or too many pop-ups,” Mr. Crowder said. “That does a disservice to everyone who has been harmed by some of these practices. It does happen, but, unfortunately, the people it happens to are not the ones who scream the loudest.”

Mr. Crowder won a settlement with Facebook after filing a legal action seeking more information about the company’s advertising practices. He claimed Facebook refused to acknowledge his advertising payments. Mr. Crowder said he could not discuss whether the issue came from bias or mismanagement by Facebook’s advertising team because of the settlement agreement.

It’s not just Facebook and Google. Earlier this month, Twitter blocked a campaign ad by Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee Republican, claiming it included “an inflammatory statement that is likely to evoke a strong reaction.” In the ad, Ms. Blackburn said she helped stop Planned Parenthood from selling baby body parts.
Twitter initially said it would air the ad for Ms. Blackburn, who is running for U.S. Senate, if the line about the sale of baby body parts is removed. After the congresswoman went public, the social media site backtracked and allowed the ad to run.

“The damage being done to conservatives is almost incalculable,” said Seton Motley, a technology policy specialist and president of Less Government, a conservative organization dedicated to reducing government power. “If network television media bias can give a candidate a 4- to 6-point advantage and social media giants have more power than the networks, can we even quantify a number?”

Google insists there is no truth to Mr. Epstein’s hypothesis that it could secretly influence an election outcome.

“Claims that Google News is biased or favors one political point of view over another are just not true,” Ms. Shiels said. “The whole ethos of the product is to give people access to a rich and diverse world of news, views and perspectives. We are able to do that thanks to the more than 80,000 publications from around the globe that are part of the corpus.”

Companies are politically active
The companies’ denials are complicated by their executives’ perceived political leanings.

Employees and affiliates of Alphabet Inc., a Google holding company, donated nearly $1.6 million to Mrs. Clinton’s presidential aspirations and about $359,000 to her Democratic primary opponent Mr. Sanders, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Mr. Trump, meanwhile, received roughly $23,000 from the company.

In fact, the top 16 candidates who received contributions from Alphabet employees were all Democrats. The top Republican was Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon, who received just over $23,000.

Mr. Walden is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is reviewing net neutrality legislation. Net neutrality, if imposed, would block internet providers from charging for or blocking online content.

Google and other social media companies have opposed such measures.
In total, 63 percent of Alphabet contributions in last year’s election went to Democrats and 22 percent went to Republicans — even though Republicans dominate elected offices at the national and state levels. The remaining 12 percent went to support independent candidates.

Ms. Shiels declined to comment on the donations.

Facebook also donated heavily to the Democratic Party. Of the nearly $4.6 million Facebook employees and affiliates spent on last year’s election, 67 percent went toward Democrats and 32 percent went to Republican candidates. Mrs. Clinton received $478,000 from Facebook, while Mr. Trump received about $4,665.

“These companies are shockingly political,” said Scott Cleland, who has authored a book about Google. “They are the gatekeepers of all the world’s information, and everything they do has a political angle to it.”

The relationships were also personal.

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg was one of those in email communication with John Podesta, the Clinton campaign chairman, according to messages released by WikiLeaks.

“I want HRC to win badly,” Ms. Sandberg said in one missive. In a later email, she told Mr. Podesta she was looking forward to working with him “to elect the first woman President of the United States” and she was “thrilled” by the progress Mrs. Clinton was making.

A representative for Ms. Sandberg declined to comment.

The leaked Podesta emails also showed that Google had loaned its jet to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign staff on several occasions. Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Alphabet, publicly supported Mrs. Clinton, and the Clinton campaign’s chief technology officer, Stephanie Hannon, and chief product officer, Osi Imeokparia, were former Google executives.

The Obama administration also built deep links with Google, where 22 former White House officials worked, while 31 Google executives went to work for the White House or were appointed to federal advisory boards, including the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology and the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, according to a study by the Campaign for Accountability.

In total, nearly 250 people shuttled from government service to Google or vice versa during the Obama administration.

The same study found that Google representatives attended White House meetings more than once a week, on average, from the start of the Obama presidency through October 2015. During that same period, Google lobbyists visited the White House 128 times, the most of any lobbyist during that time.
“What Google and Facebook lost with a Trump victory is cronyism,” Mr. Motley said.

Google and Facebook have increased their lobbying efforts over the past few months as Congress scrutinizes their power. Facebook spent $285 million on lobbyists from July through September, a 41 percent increase over the same period last year. Googlespent $417 million during those three months, including hiring Republican lobbyists Jochum Shore & Trossevin PC to fight a bill that would penalize tech companies for content that promotes sex trafficking. The companies are fighting the bill because it weakens some of their legal protections.
Both Republicans and Democrats have come to respect the power and reach of the tech giants. Although Mr. Trump’s Twitter account gets the most attention, his campaign said it was Facebook that helped them win the presidential election.
Brad Parscale, who ran Mr. Trump’s digital team, said in a recent interview with CBS’s “60 minutes” that he asked Facebook employees to be “embedded inside our offices” to help craft carefully tailored ads he said reached voters they never could have with television ads.

“I think Donald Trump won, but I think Facebook was the method — it was the highway in which his car drove on,” he told CBS.

Patrick Hynes, an adviser to the 2008 McCain and 2012 Romney Republican presidential campaigns, said he expects social media companies to double down on their support for Democrats in the 2020 election. He predicted efforts to silence Mr. Trump and others, similar to Twitter’s attempt to ban Ms. Blackburn’s ad.

“The social media companies will engage in full-scale censorship with the approval or rejection of advertising content in the next presidential election,” he said. “Trump’s advertising will be critiqued in a way that they will not do to the Democrats.”


  1. Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban has apparently called on Hungarians to beware of the power of the Sith in his latest speech on migration crisis in Europe. He also declared Eastern and Central Europe the last ‘migrant-free zone.’

    "We should never underestimate the power of the dark side," the prime minister said, referencing Star Wars as he referred to the plots of those behind the “migrant invasion,” adding that they “have no solid structure but extensive networks.”

    The EU and some of its key member states have been “taken hostage” by a “speculative financial Empire” through an orchestrated “invasion of new immigrants,” Orban said in Budapest on Monday, adding that this mysterious “financial power” was behind the “latest great migration of peoples” that flooded Europe with “millions of migrants.”

    “This plan was developed to make Europe a mixed [multicultural] continent,” the prime minister said at an event commemorating the anniversary of the 1956 anti-Soviet uprising in Hungary, adding that “only we managed to stand up against it,” apparently referring to the governments of Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, which have taken a staunch anti-migrant stance and refused to accept refugee quotas imposed by Brussels.

    Orban then declared Central and Eastern Europe the continent’s last "migrant-free zone." The Hungarian leader expressed the hope that, by acting together, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia could potentially stop mass immigration.

    He went on to say that the ultimate goal of the massive inflow of migrants into Europe consisted of depriving it of its Christian and national identity. The prime minister then stressed that Europe should remain "safe, fair, civic, Christian and free" and should regain the splendor he said it had before embracing multiculturalism.

    Orban’s remarks concerning the “financial power” behind the mass immigration apparently referred to the Hungarian-born US billionaire George Soros. The Hungarian prime minister has already accused Soros of seeking to create a "new, mixed, Muslimized Europe” in July. He also repeatedly blamed the tycoon of fueling the refugee crisis in Europe, adding that “Brussels has come under George Soros’s influence.”

    1. Source: RT

      A source that "The Swamp" wants to censor.


    2. Russians propaganda, is the claim made by the Trump Administration

  2. Soros is Sith.

    An ancient order of Force-wielders devoted to the dark side, the Sith practice hate, deception, and greed. Notable for their red-bladed lightsabers, black dress, and use of their aggressive feelings, the Sith look to amass power at all costs. The evil Darth Sidious, along with his apprentice Darth Vader, achieved the Sith goal of galactic conquest after a millennia of plotting.

    Darth Sidious had a young nephew, Quesidious, who said to hell with all this galactic warring about, and went into the advertising business, specializing in lady's sheer mesh lingerie. Taken all in all he was a good fellow, gentle and kind and a lover of dogs. Financially he did quite well with the bras and panties.

    1. Clan Sidious of course thought of Quesidious as something of a retarded mutant and disowned him during a cloudy midnight ritual.

    2. (Historical Note: Quesidious pioneered the use of algorithms in lingerie ads)

    3. Quesidious - Is that kinda like a quesadilla? I love those things.

    4. It's a kinda insidiousquesadilla, I think.

      Sounds like it might make one throw up, to me.

    5. meh, burritos are better, anyway.

  3. Cyprus' interior ministry says larger European Union countries should do their fair share and accept more migrants from overburdened member states.

    The ministry said in a statement to The Associated Press on Monday that the EU needs a more "balanced, holistic and integrated" approach to migration that includes moving people from the coastal countries that first receive them.

  4. Mr Trump refuses to enforce the laws of the US.

    Congress: Trump Won’t Implement Russia Sanctions—and He Won’t Tell Us Why


    Per the legislation, the administration was required to issue guidance by October 1 on how it was implementing the sanctions against Russia. That process includes publishing a list of the people and organizations who will be targeted by the sanctions, which are primarily aimed at Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors.

    But that deadline came and went without any actual guidance issued, and lawmakers feel as though they are being stonewalled by an administration which has the tools it needs to implement and enforce the sanctions, yet has not followed through. A National Security Council spokesman declined to comment to The Daily Beast

  5. As a good practicing Christian it's not possible for The Donald to enforce sanctions against Putin, who has taken the Cross and is a good practicing Christian. Christians don't do such things to other Christians.

    There is the answer.

    Kid Rock: "F--- no I'm not running for Senate"

    Kid Rock on Stern: “F— no I’m not running for Senate, are you f—ing kidding me? Who couldn’t figure that out?” So that settles that.


  7. David Petraeus reflected on the lessons of the Iraq surge yesterday during a day-long conference sponsored by the conservative Hudson Institute on countering violent extremism. “This is a generational struggle,” the retired Army general and former CIA director said. “Therefore, we must have a sustainable and sustained commitment as our strategy. … That is: we need to have a strategy that is sustainable in terms of the expenditure of blood and treasure, so that we can have the kind of sustained commitment that is necessary in an endeavor that is generational in nature.” Part of that, he explained, means never setting timelines for withdrawal.


    1. Bannon, who was President Trump’s chief strategist into the summer, sought to directly refute Petraeus when he appeared at the conference later in the day. “There’s nobody in the United States that wants to be engaged in combat operations, special forces operations, drone operations (for multiple generations),” he said. “That’s just not where the American people are. It’s not the way our country was founded or formed. … We’re prepared to be allies. What we don’t want is these countries to be protectorates. It’s not our fight.”


    Time for the chickens to come home to shit on her head

    It's time for a special counsel on Hillary Clinton's Russia scandal

    When the story broke in April 2015 that the Obama administration, with the help of Hillary Clinton’s State Department, paved the way for Russia to gain control of 20 percent of America’s uranium, it sent shock waves through the halls of power in Washington. It caused red flags to go up and raised scores of questions with enormous implications.

    Many people wondered why the United States would give Russia and Vladimir Putin a sweetheart deal like this. In the context of the 2016 presidential campaign, the central questions were about the money flowing to the Clinton Foundation, accusations of pay for play with financial benefits for the Clintons winning out over national security concerns, and why the Obama Justice Department seemed to do nothing about it.

    There was more than enough smoke for the FBI to investigate official government favors in exchange for big donations to the Clinton Foundation, but agents ran into a hyper-politicized Attorney General in Loretta Lynch, whose public integrity section said it “did not have enough evidence to move forward,” according to to Washington Post in October 2016.
    Last week, blockbuster allegations surfaced in The Hill shedding light on what was happening inside the Obama administration and FBI while Russia was seeking control of massive amounts of our uranium supply. It turns out that the Obama administration inexplicably approved the uranium deal with Russia even though the FBI was investigating a massive corruption scheme that included bribery, extortion and other felonies involving Russia’s nuclear energy industry in the United States.

    Also during this time, under the leadership of its chief diplomat Secretary of State Clinton, the Obama administration was prioritizing and very publicly working to “reset” America’s relationship with Russia. Then Attorney General Eric Holder, who along with Lynch has faced harsh scrutiny for running a politicized Justice Department, was overseeing the FBI probe of Russia at the time. Holder also happened to be on the foreign investment committee that controlled the fate of the questionable Russian uranium deal along with Hillary Clinton.


    1. {...}

      Citizens United’s discovery of Russia-related Clinton emails through its Freedom of Information Act litigation revealed in The Hill that Bill Clinton sought to meet with the director of a Russian nuclear energy firm and other top Russian businessmen while on a trip to Moscow for a $500,000 speech, just months before Hillary Clinton helped seal the Uranium One deal in October 2010. To make matters worse, The Hill reported that the FBI busted a Russian spy ring that had infiltrated the Clintons’ orbit the day before the former president’s lucrative speech.

      Why Congress and the public at large were kept in the dark about this ongoing investigation is a troubling question. The Obama administration was clearly looking to make the reset of U.S.-Russia relations one of its top foreign policy success stories for the 2012 reelection campaign. If the Robert Mueller-led FBI corruption investigation was made public at the time, the uranium deal could have gone sideways, and the Russia reset would have been ridiculed as a silly idea by a naive administration.

      When President Obama belittled Mitt Romney at a 2012 presidential debate for calling Russia our top foreign policy threat, it made clear that Obama and Clinton had a lot riding on their Russian gamble. Now we’ve learned through The Hill reporting that a key FBI informant in the Russian corruption case was blocked by the Obama Justice Department from testifying before Congress. This individual must now be cleared to tell his story to congressional investigators without delay.

      The questionable actions of the Obama Justice Department and FBI peaked in June 2016, when a secret and highly inappropriate meeting between Attorney General Lynch and Bill Clinton was exposed on the eve of FBI Director James Comey’s unorthodox announcement that Secretary Clinton would not be prosecuted in the case involving her private email server. It’s been revealed since then that Comey had actually written a draft memo clearing Hillary Clinton before her FBI interview took place.

      Citizens United called on Lynch to appoint a special counsel in the Clinton email case and related matters in July 2015. We questioned how Lynch, a former appointee of President Clinton, could run an impartial investigation of the former president’s spouse who was on her way to being the Democrat nominee for president at the time. When the tarmac meeting between the two became public, our suspicions were confirmed. Now with the new allegations surrounding Russian corruption and the Uranium One deal, Attorney General Jeff Sessions must finally appoint an impartial special counsel to thoroughly investigate these matters.

      David N. Bossie is president of Citizens United and a contributor to Fox News. He served as President Donald Trump’s deputy campaign manager and was chief investigator for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee during the Clinton administration.

  9. I'm for restoring America's competitive edge and bringing out the highest potential in everyone.

    1. You also think the Wahabbi is a Native American dance that you saw at the casino, on Indigenous Culture night.

    2. ....the highest potential in those that have some potential.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. I was quoting one of the over used phrases in a Trump talk this morning.

    5. Jack is thinking of the Watutsi, they do kinda sound the same.

    6. No, Robert.
      It was, and still is ...
      The "Wahabbi" that you referenced.

      I do not have access to the quote, at the moment. But it is available.

    7. Rat Droppings Rain From Food Court Ceiling....DRUDGE

      I'll help. I recall making a remark mocking the word Wahabbi sounding like a dance.

      Move on to a new life.

  10. Priceless! MSNBC segment questioning need for Trump border wall interrupted by… (just guess)


    1. Vindication? MSNBC’s “Up Close Look” At Border-Wall Effort A Little Too “Up Close” For Comfort
      ED MORRISSEYPosted at 8:41 am on October 24, 2017

      Jeez, even I with my bad hip could hobble over that current wall.


  11. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday that renewed focus on Russian uranium deals approved during her tenure is nothing more than debunked “baloney" and a sign that Republicans are nervous about the current intelligence probe into Moscow's efforts to meddle with last year's election.

    "I think the real story is how nervous they are about these continuing investigations,"
    the former Democratic presidential nominee said during an interview broadcast on C-SPAN.

    The renewed interest in the so-called Uranium One deal came after The Hill reported last week that the FBI had gathered solid evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery and extortion before the Obama administration approved the sale to Russia of a company that controls 20 percent of America's uranium supply.

    The Hill further reported Sunday that the FBI had identified a Russian spy ring's attempt in 2009 and 2010 to infiltrate Clinton's inner circle through a donor friend in order to spy on the State Department. Agents arrested and deported the female spy before anything could happen.

    Though stories in The Hill were based on court documents, declassified law enforcement memos and interviews with career officials, Clinton said any accusations of wrongdoing were partisan in nature.

    "I would say it’s the same baloney they’ve been peddling for years, and there’s been no credible evidence by anyone. In fact, it’s been debunked repeatedly and will continue to be debunked,"
    she said

  12. Trump should reappoint Yellen.

  13. For art lovers -

    Five Top Models Recreate World's Iconic Paintings


  14. Saudi Arabia will return to moderate, open Islam and 'will destroy extremist ideas', says crown prince
    Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud also announced the kingdom would do more to tackle extremism

    Nice looking young feller.

    And, women are beginning to drive.

    I'll believe it when I see churches and synagogues being built in Saudi Arabia.


  15. Ex-DEA agent: Opioid crisis fueled by drug industry and Congress

    the drug industry -- the manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and chain drugstores -- have an influence over Congress that has never been seen before. And these people came in with their influence and their money and got a whole statute changed because they didn't like it.

    Seven months after the bill became law, Congressman Marino's point man on the legislation, his Chief of Staff Bill Tighe, became a lobbyist for the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.


    1. ...the inside story of how, he says, the opioid crisis was allowed to spread -- aided by Congress, lobbyists, and a drug distribution industry that shipped, almost unchecked, hundreds of millions of pills to rogue pharmacies and pain clinics providing the rocket fuel for a crisis that, over the last two decades, has claimed 200,000 lives.

  16. .

    Fewer than a third of Americans back Trump tax plan: Reuters/Ipsos poll

    Evidently, the American people aren't buying into the Trump/GOP recycling of the trickle down economics that have failed us in the past.

    Fewer than a third of Americans support Donald Trump's tax-cut plan, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Tuesday, as the U.S. president went to Capitol Hill looking for Republican backing for his proposal to slash tax rates for individuals and companies.

    As the 2018 midterm congressional election campaigns grow nearer, the poll found that more than two-thirds of registered voters said reducing the U.S. federal budget deficit is more important than cutting taxes for the wealthy or for corporations.

    Trump's plan would balloon the deficit and add to the $20 trillion national debt, according to critics and independent analysts, but Republicans say the tax cuts proposed in the plan would be offset by economic growth that would generate new tax revenue.

    Among Republicans surveyed, 63 percent said deficit reduction should take priority over tax cuts for corporations, while 75 percent said deficit reduction should take priority over tax cuts for the wealthy.

    Democrats oppose Trump's plan, unveiled on Sept. 27, and say it is unfair to the poor and the working class.
    The plan is still only a nine-page "framework." It was drafted in secret by Trump administration and congressional leaders. Formal legislation is in development...


    1. Why is it unfair to the poor ?

      They don't pay any taxes anyway.

      For them, it's no change.

      As Hillary said "We'll go where the money is"

      Where else can one go to raise taxes ?

    2. I'm beginning to wonder if the dysfunctional Republicans can even deliver a tax cut.

    3. Even so they are better than the Democrats.

      Hillary would have raised taxes.

    4. .

      The numbers form a pattern. The RCP poll averages percentages for Trump's performance metrics are...

      Job Approval:

      Approve 39.5
      Disapprove 55.4
      Disapprove +15.9

      Direction of Country

      Right Track 31.4
      Wrong Track 60.6
      Wrong Track +29.2


      Favorable 38.7
      Unfavorable 56.0
      Unfavorable +17.3

      Trump's Tax Plan (Reuters/Ipsos)

      Favor 28
      Oppose 41
      Oppose +13

      The numbers other than those on the tax-cut plan have been consistent for months. The conclusion I draw from them are twofold...

      1. They define the limits of Trump's base, that 30-40%, and...
      2. That base has been willing to stick with Trump from the beginning and Trump might be right when he said he could 'stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and not lose any voters' which IMO is a sad commentary on Trump voters.


    5. The tax bill may end up slightly raising taxes on 'the rich'.

      We don't know yet.

      Too soon to get in a huff.

    6. One year later people still don't see why people voted Trump -

      One Year Later, Coastal Elites Still Don’t Understand Why Voters Turned To Trump

      A year ago this week I drove through Ohio and Pennsylvania talking to people about the election. It wasn’t hard to see why many of them wanted Trump.

      By John Daniel Davidson

    7. Let's End the Pretense, the Republicans Are Not Cutting Taxes
      By John Tamny
      October 24, 2017

      Get Essential Portfolios. An automated way to invest that's always working towards your goals.
      Apparently eager to not be associated with the kind of people who grow rich by virtue of removing unease from our lives, along with those who grow wealthier by virtue of investing in those striving to remove unease from our lives, the Republicans and their President in Donald Trump are doing cartwheels to ensure that their proposed tax cuts do not reduce taxes on the “rich.” In a fairly predictable move lifted from the political playbooks of the 20th century, the Republicans have essentially washed their hands of people like the late Steve Jobs, along with families with names like Rockefeller and Gates whose wealth made the initial Apple (Rockefeller) possible, along with the revival of the near-bankrupt Apple (Gates) that Jobs returned to in 1997.

      As House Speaker Paul Ryan explained it about the GOP’s proposed tax plan to Roll Call last week, “We’ll introduce the bill, which will have that fourth bracket designed to make sure that we don’t have a big drop in income tax rates for high-income people — their bracket is 39.6 [percent] right now — and then we have a middle-class tax cut.” While the Republicans aren’t treating the well-to-do murderously as the Bolsheviks did their country’s productive class in the former Soviet Union nearly 100 years ago, they’ve fairly explicitly indicated that they’ll take whole classes (businesses and entrepreneurs) for granted; all in an attempt to trump their reliably class and color focused opponents in the Democratic Party who regularly walk all over certain voting blocs whose support they view as a sure thing. Getting right to the point, the Republicans have told the innovators along with the investors in those innovators to drop dead.....

      Who knows what they will come up with ?

    8. Not even the Chairman of Ways and Means knows for sure yet -

      Brady: Odds 'Very Good' for Tax Reform by Year's End
      By James Arkin

      October 24, 2017

      Rep. Kevin Brady, the chairman of the tax writing committee in the House, said Tuesday the odds are "very good" Congress will send tax legislation to President Trump's desk by the end of the year, but he declined to address details of the package ahead of a final vote this week on the budget.

      Brady, at an event hosted by RealClearPolitics, said he will announce a timeline for the release and mark-up of the GOP’s tax legislation after the House passes the Senate's version of the Fiscal 2018 budget, which is expected to happen Thursday.

      "I have one date: 2017," Brady said when asked to predict timing of passing the tax bill. "I think the odds are very good we get to the president’s desk by the end of the year.”

      As he has done throughout the tax reform process, Brady declined to address specifics of the plan, saying he did not want to "get ahead" of the Ways and Means Committee, which he chairs. Though the proposal released by the House, Senate and White House earlier this year set three tax brackets at 12, 25 and 35 percent, he declined to address at what income levels those brackets would begin. Speaker Paul Ryan said last week there would likely be another tax bracket for the wealthiest Americans, and Brady said the committee is looking at adding a top bracket -- the current highest is 39.6 percent -- but wouldn't address specifics.

      Brady also didn't address the details for several of the more controversial aspects of the tax package, including the elimination of the deduction for state and local taxes, a concern for lawmakers from both parties in high-tax states. Brady met with some of those lawmakers earlier this month, and said Tuesday he expects a solution to their concerns.

      "My belief is that for those families, when you lower the tax rates, when we increase the child tax credit, when we set those brackets, altogether we can lower their overall burden without having that specific deduction," Brady said. Lawmakers are considering capping use of the deduction of state and local taxes for the highest earners, Bloomberg News reported earlier this month.

      "I'm confident over the next 10 days that we're going to find some solutions," Brady said.....

    9. Speaker Paul Ryan said last week there would likely be another tax bracket for the wealthiest Americans, and Brady said the committee is looking at adding a top bracket -- the current highest is 39.6 percent -- but wouldn't address specifics.

    10. .

      Why is it unfair to the poor ?

      They don't pay any taxes anyway.

      For them, it's no change.

      Bob, why don't you spend some time looking at the proposals that are out there? The budget and the tax breaks and healthcare are all tied together.

      Healthcare was important because the GOP planned on using the money they saved there (i.e. dropping the subsidies and pushing the responsibility off on the states) to help pay for their tax cuts to the rich. They weren't successful in legislating those savings so Trump did it on his own. Hardly a good move for the poor that depended on those subsidies for healthcare.

      The budget and the tax cut plan are linked. The GOP is planning on cutting $1 trillion out of Medicare and $1/2 trillion out of Medicaid to pay for those tax cuts for the rich. The Medicaid program is for the poor. They say not to worry, increased growth will make up for it. Pure nonsense. There is no objective evidence to prove their supply-side theories.

      They talk about simplifying the tax code but the cuts they are proposing hurt the little guy. The ones they propose keeping like the deductions for home mortgage interest and charity strongly favor the wealthy.

      They proposed greatly reducing the tax benefits of 401k plans in order to help pay for their cuts for the rich. Trump says it won't happen. We shall see. They talked about removing the deductions for state taxes but the lobbyists are going crazy. We shall see.

      With one hand, Trump says the standard deduction will be increased; with the other, he removes the individual deductions.

      All independent analysis of the proposals we are aware of say the tax-cut plan is a giveaway to the wealthy and the corporations and that those at the bottom and much of the middle class won't gain much or in some cases will pay more. Those that support the Trump/GOP claims on the growth effect and its benefits depend on trickle down economic theory and dynamic scoring, 'voodoo economics' as George H. W. Bush would call ti.


    11. .

      Estimates are that the Budget and Tax-cuts will add $10-$20 trillion to the national debt. The latest budget will add $1.5 trillion to the debt. The priorities are wack.

      Simplification of the code would be helpful as would the elimination of certain targeted breaks; however, IMO we don't need tax cuts. The biggest cuts are targeted to the wealthy and the corporations. In general, they don't need them. The top 1% have received an inordinate percentage of the benefits of the economic growth during the last couple decades. The corporations are making record profits and are flush with cash.

      In the 70's, corporation were spending over 50% of profits pumping them back in the company in investments that help their growth and created jobs. Today, they spend somewhere around 10% on investments and distribute the rest in stock buybacks, dividends, and executive pay. Wages remain flat.


    12. The dastardly corporations distribute dividends ?

      Well I'll be...

    13. .

      Bob, even when you actually notice the point being made you still don't understand it.

      I'll try to explain things using smaller words next time.


  17. With deficit hawks Corker and Flake opting out of running in 2018, don't look for a $1.5 trillion increase in the National debt to garner either of their votes.

    The path to 50 votes in the US Senate for tax 'cuts' just got a lot steeper.