The Jury Talks Back


MSNBC Re-Hires Sam Seder; Mike Cernovich Hardest Hit

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 9:00 am

I summarized this saga a couple of days ago. In 2009, there was a national debate about the crimes of Roman Polanski after he was arrested in Switzerland and efforts were made to extradite him to the U.S. to face justice. In a disgusting display, many in the Hollywood elite rallied around Polanski. Lefty Sam Seder, a former Air America host and MSNBC yakker, wrote a bitingly satirical tweet attacking Polanski’s defenders, who seemed to care more about Polanski’s talents as a director than his rape of a 13-year-old. Seder’s tweet read: “Dont care re Polanski, but i hope if my daughter is ever raped it is by an older truly talented man w/ a great sense of mise en scene.” Recently, alt right nutcase Mike Cernovich dug up the old tweet and willfully misinterpreted it as support for Polanski. Cernovich drummed up fauxtrage from his cynical supporters, and got Seder fired from his MSNBC gig.

Now, Seder has been rehired:

Progressive radio and television personality Sam Seder will be offered his MSNBC contributor job back and plans to accept, according to multiple MSNBC sources.

Seder and MSNBC were set to part ways when his contributor contract expired next year, with reports indicating the departure had to do with a 2009 tweet from Seder surfaced by the far-right provocateur Mike Cernovich. After initially caving in to right-wing internet outrage over the tweet, MSNBC reversed its decision to not renew Seder’s contract.

. . . .

“Sometimes you just get one wrong,” said MSNBC president Phil Griffin in a statement to The Intercept, “and that’s what happened here. We made our initial decision for the right reasons — because we don’t consider rape to be a funny topic to be joked about. But we’ve heard the feedback, and we understand the point Sam was trying to make in that tweet was actually in line with our values, even though the language was not. Sam will be welcome on our air going forward.”

Good. Seder is an unrepentant lefty, and I probably disagree with him on something between 90 to 99.999 percent of the things he says and believes. Nevertheless, his firing was disgraceful, and I’m very pleased to see that he has been re-hired.

Tom Kludt and Oliver Darcy, in a story written before Seder’s reinstatement, discuss the background in detail and explain how Cernovich’s absurd gloating helped MSNBC to reverse its decision:

After the news broke, Cernovich was triumphant.

“Thank you to everybody who emailed MSNBC,” Cernovich said in a video he posted on Twitter. “Thank you to all of you. You’re heroes. You’re heroes because you emailed MSNBC and you let them know about the tweet. You let them know the people will be heard.”

Elsewhere, MSNBC was pilloried for the decision, as critics pointed out that Seder was not actually excusing or making light of rape, but was in fact mocking Polanski’s defenders.

. . . .

An MSNBC executive who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter said there had been considerable deliberation over the decision to cut ties with Seder, and that the network was unsettled by the celebratory reaction from certain segments of the right-wing.

The episode did have one positive effect in that it reminded many (and revealed to others) the past comments of someone who made light of rape. That person turned out to be Mike Cernovich, whose comments included such delightful turns of phrase as “Who cares about breast cancer and rape? Not me” and “Over 50% of women have rape fantasies.” These quotes and others are collected in all their glorious and non-exculpating context here:

If you’re looking to get upset about someone not taking rape seriously, your best target is not Sam Seder. It’s Mike Cernovich.

Congratulations to Seder for getting back his job so he can make the airwaves annoying again with wrongheaded political opinions. I won’t be watching, but I’ll sleep a little better knowing that Mike Cernovich lost.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]


President Trump Officially Recognizes Jerusalem As Israel’s Capital, Embassy To Move

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 3:59 pm

[guest post by Dana]

President Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and ordered the State Dept. to begin preparations to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Citing the decision as a new approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the president said:

In 1995, Congress adopted the Jerusalem Embassy Act urging the federal government to relocate the American Embassy to Jerusalem and to recognize that that city, and so importantly, is Israel’s capital. This act passed congress by an overwhelming bipartisan majority. And was reaffirmed by unanimous vote of the Senate only six months ago.

Yet, for over 20 years, every previous American president has exercised the law’s waiver, refusing to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem or to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city. Presidents issued these waivers under the belief that delaying the recognition of Jerusalem would advance the cause of peace. Some say they lacked courage but they made their best judgments based on facts as they understood them at the time. Nevertheless, the record is in.

After more than two decades of waivers, we are no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

It would be folly to assume that repeating the exact same formula would now produce a different or better result.

Therefore, I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver.

Today, I am delivering. I’ve judged this course of action to be in the best interests of the United States of America and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. This is a long overdue step to advance the peace process. And to work towards a lasting agreement.

As expected, President Trump’s decision was met with criticism and dire warnings from the usual suspects. The Palestinians, who obviously have no interest in making peace with a people they prefer didn’t exist, have called for “three days of rage” in protest against the move. British Prime Minister Theresa May charged that “Jerusalem should ultimately form a shared capital between the Israeli and Palestinian states,” and said that she plans to speak with President Trump about the decision. The Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of Iran blamed the move on U.S. “incompetence and failure”. Even Pope Francis weighed in, saying he could not “keep silent about [his] deep concern” for Jerusalem and urged respect for “the status quo of the city in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, calling today historic, thanked President Trump for his “courageous” and “just” decision”:

“This decision reflects the president’s commitment to an ancient but enduring truth,” Netanyahu said. “The president’s decision is an important step toward peace, for there is no peace that doesn’t include Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”

With that, David French explains why President Trump’s actions today should be celebrated, and why he should be congratulated for taking such a bold step:

President Trump’s decision to formally recognize that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and to announce plans to move America’s embassy to the seat of Israel’s government is one of the best, most moral, and important decisions of his young administration. On this issue, he is demonstrating greater resolve than Republican and Democratic presidents before him, and he is defying some of the worst people in the world.

Also in his excellent piece, French looks at the “law, history, and context” of Israel, and the double-standard use of “stability” when applied to Israel:

From the birth of the modern nation-state of Israel, an unholy mixture of anti-Semites and eliminationists have both sought to drive the Jewish people into the sea and — when military measures failed — isolate the Jewish nation diplomatically, militarily, and culturally. Working through the U.N. and enabled by Soviet-bloc (and later) European allies, these anti-Semites and eliminationists have waged unrelenting “lawfare” against Israel. (Lawfare is the abuse of international law and legal processes to accomplish military objectives that can’t be achieved on the battlefield.)

The scam works like this: The U.N. and other international bodies establish rules that apply only to Israel, or they hold Israel to higher standards than any other nation on earth; then, when Israel (or its primary ally, America) object to those unjust rules and double standards, the Arab world threatens unrest, riots, or, at worst, renewed jihad. A cowardly European community goes along, perpetuating injustice in the name of “stability.”

If “stability” means the perpetuation of double standards, the isolation of Israel, and continued kowtowing to threats of violence, then it’s time to call the Arabs’ bluff. If the most powerful nation in the history of the world doesn’t have the moral strength to even properly recognize Israel’s capital, it gives aid and comfort to those who impose unique burdens on the Jewish state. Will America’s Arab allies — nations that depend on our alliances to confront a growing Iranian threat — forsake their own national security to protest an embassy location? It’s time to find out. The Trump administration has made the right move. Now let’s see how the bigots respond.

President Trump should be congratulated. He has taken an enormous step toward fulfilling his campaign promise that the embassy should be moved to “the eternal capital for the Jewish people, Jerusalem.” It has been a very good day for him.


Calls For Democratic Lawmakers To Resign In Face Of More Allegations of Sexual Misconduct

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 1:17 pm

[guest post by Dana]

In today’s left side of the aisle sexual harassment news, Al Franken (D-MN.) has yet again been accused of sexual misconduct by a former Democratic congressional aide. The alleged incident took place in 2006:

The aide, whose name POLITICO is withholding to protect her identity, said Franken (D-Minn.) pursued her after her boss had left the studio. She said she was gathering her belongings to follow her boss out of the room. When she turned around, Franken was in her face.

The former staffer ducked to avoid Franken’s lips. As she hastily left the room, she said, Franken told her: “It’s my right as an entertainer.”

“He was between me and the door and he was coming at me to kiss me. It was very quick and I think my brain had to work really hard to be like ‘Wait, what is happening?’ But I knew whatever was happening was not right and I ducked,” the aide said in an interview. “I was really startled by it and I just sort of booked it towards the door and he said, ‘It’s my right as an entertainer.’”

Franken fully denies the latest accusation. In light of yet another allegation of groping or trying to forcibly kiss women, female Democratic lawmakers have called for Franken to step down. This includes Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) who recently said that Bill Clinton should have resigned over his scandal involving a young intern, and who said yesterday when asked whether Franken should resign that, although troubled by the situation, she wouldn’t call for him to step down. Just one more noble Democratic female demonstrating their side of the aisle’s classic profile in courage. Uh-huh…

For his part, Franken, whose unseeking hands mysteriously found themselves the unwilling recipients of women’s butts over the years, has denied this latest allegation. Franken, who blamed these “mishaps” on the fact that he is just “a warm person” who hugs people and too bad these accusers don’t understand this, is scheduled to make an announcement tomorrow.

Also happening on the left side of the aisle, Rep. John Conyers announced his resignation yesterday, effective immediately. This on the heels of two more accusers coming forward:

In the document released by lawyer Lisa Bloom, former staffer Elisa Grubbs said she worked in Conyers’ office from approximately 2001 to 2013. She claimed that the congressman “inappropriately touched” her during her time there. Grubbs also said she witnessed Conyers touching other women in the office.

In one incident, he slid his hand up her skirt and rubbed her thighs while the two were sitting next to each other in the front row of a church.

She said that when it happened she jumped up and exclaimed in front of other staffers, “He just ran his hand up my thigh!”

Another time at Conyers’ home, the congressman walked out of his bathroom naked, knowing that she was in the room, she said. She added that she “immediately ran out of the house.”


Grubbs said she saw Conyers stroking the legs and buttocks of other staffers on multiple occasions.

“Witnessing Rep. Conyers rub women’s thighs and buttocks and make comments about women’s physical attributes was a regular part of life while working in the Office of Rep. Conyers,” Grubbs said in the affidavit.

Amusingly, Conyers is endorsing his son, John Conyers III, to replace him in Congress because he believes he will be certain to preserve his legacy:

“My legacy can’t be compromised or diminished in any way by what’ we’re going through now. This too shall pass,” the long-serving Congressman said. “My legacy will continue through my children. I have a great family here, especially in my oldest boy, John Conyers III, who I endorse to replace me in my seat in Congress.” He continued, “We’re all working together.”

Sure. Because when you think of John and Monica Conyers, you think the very definition of a great family…


Bannon Upset Romney Avoided Vietnam

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 9:00 am

Steve Bannon is upset Mitt Romney avoided Vietnam. At a rally for Roy Moore, Bannon mocked Romney for not serving in the war:

Steve Bannon bashed Mitt Romney Tuesday night for, as he put it, hiding behind his religion to avoid getting drafted into the Vietnam War.

Bannon, stumping for controversial Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama in Fairhope, Alabama, touted Moore’s military service in Vietnam and criticized Romney for his lack of “honor and integrity.” Romney tweeted Monday, “no vote, no majority is worth losing our honor, our integrity.”

“By the way, Mitt, while we’re on the subject of honor an integrity, you avoided service, brother,” Bannon said. “Mitt, here’s how it is, brother: The college deferments, we can debate that — but you hid behind your religion. You went to France to be a missionary while guys were dying in rice paddies in Vietnam.”

Here’s some video:

“The college deferments we can debate that” thing may be a reference to the way Bannon himself stayed out of the war: “Bannon did not serve in Vietnam, either, though he was of age to do so and attended college during the final years of the war.”

But inquiring minds want to know: whatabout bone spurs?

Not that long ago, I noted that “Republicans will never again be able to credibly attack a Democrat on grounds of character in my lifetime.” Since the Trump/Bannon wing loves attacking Republicans at least as much as it loves attacking Democrats, I should have said “a Democrat or another Republican.” There’s no character-based attack that doesn’t also apply to Donald Trump.

By the way, Bannon attacked Romney’s family too: “Judge Moore has more honor and integrity in that pinky finger than your entire family has in its whole DNA.”

And a room full of people who voted for Mitt Romney cheered.

Next thing he’ll accuse Mitt Romney of being a rich fat cat who got where he is today only because of his dad. (Insert your own “this applies to Donald Trump too” joke here.)

No wonder Donald Trump says that people are saying there is a unity in this Republican party like we’ve never seen before.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

Amazon Widget: Back Up and Working

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 7:39 am

I just verified that some folks have made purchases with the Amazon widget on the sidebar. It disappeared for a while (long story) but it’s back, so I’ll be mentioning it fairly often through December, for those who got out of the habit of using it. Thanks for remembering to use it for your holiday purchases. It really does make a difference.


Feds Indict Kate Steinle’s Killer

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 9:00 pm

At the end of my recent post on the California laws the jury applied in the Kate Steinle murder case, I noted this observation by Andrew C. McCarthy:

McCarthy’s exact prediction has come to pass:

A federal grand jury has indicted a Mexican man on immigration and weapons charges after he was acquitted of murder in the 2015 shooting death of Kathryn Steinle, the Justice Department said Tuesday.

Each of the two new federal charges carries a maximum of 10 years in prison if Jose Ines Garcia Zarate is convicted, the government said. He was indicted on one count each of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition and being an illegally present alien in possession of a firearm and ammunition.

Here is a screenshot from the indictment. Note that the statute, 18 U.S.C. 922(g), is the precise one mentioned by McCarthy:

This is not double jeopardy, principally because the federal government is a separate sovereign, and double jeopardy applies only to charges from the same sovereign.

Ken White of Popehat, a former federal prosecutor, routinely warns against putting any stock in news media statements about the amount of time a federal defendant is “facing.” Actual sentences are based on a complicated set of guidelines, taking into account a person’s record, their cooperation, remorse, and a host of other factors. So don’t get the idea that Zarate will necessarily get 10 years.

Still, this is a positive development in an otherwise very sad saga.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

In Defense of Sam Seder’s Tweet About the Rape of His Daughter and Roman Polanski

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 10:00 am

If you’re the type of person who uses the word “cuck” unironically, then to you, MSNBC’s Sam Seder is the cuckiest cuck that ever cucked — because Seder hates the alt right. (Full disclosure: so do I.) Seder has consistently pushed a crusade against that gang of conspiracy nuts, including Mike “Pizzagate” Cernovich. If you know anything about alt-righters, their God is the God of Retaliation. Nothing else in life really matters to them besides getting back at their perceived enemies. So Cernovich took a break from his conspiracy theories about shampoo to dig up this old tweet from Seder:

And managed to get Seder fired:

MSNBC has decided not to renew its contract with contributor Sam Seder after an old tweet emerged in which Seder joked about Roman Polanski raping his daughter, TheWrap has learned.

Seder’s contract ends in February and he has no scheduled appearances between now and then, a spokesperson for MSNBC told TheWrap.

. . . .

A person familiar with the situation said the decision to sever ties with Seder was directly related to the Polanski matter.

“Internally there was disgust over the tweet,” said the individual.

The tweet was first brought to wide attention last month by the pro-Trump journalist and activist Mike Cernovich.

Idiots. Dupes.

To me, Seder’s tweet was a good and brave tweet. Was it shocking? You bet. But so is what Roman Polanski did to Samantha Geimer when she was 13 years old. Seder’s tweet is obvious satire, designed to mock the people in Hollywood who defended Polanski. The tweet is basically a Twitter version of what Ace of Spades wrote about Polanski in 2009:

And he drugged her, and even as she resisted, he raped her. And then, figuring, I guess, “Ah, what the hell, gone this far, might as well run the table,” he sodomized her.


But he made The Pianist. So — no biggie.

You’d think someone who is actually disgusted by Polanski’s actions, and by the excuses Polanski’s supporters made, would applaud Seder’s decision to take on those supporters. But of course, Cernovich cares more about his feuds than about what Polanski did to a 13-year-old. Cernovich saw an opportunity to slam Seder and he took it. Cernovich pretended that the tweet supported Polanski, and rallied his mindless band of pearl-clutching fake opponents of political correctness, who predictably flew into an entirely phony outrage about the tweet. These Fierce Defenders of Free Speech took a tweet that attacked Polanski’s defenders, and screamed: Sam Seder defends Polankski! Sam Seder thinks rape is funny! Sam Seder thinks rapes of little girls are funny, including the rape of his own daughter! Blah blah outrage blah blah offended blah blah.

Seder explained last week what should have been obvious: it was a slam on Hollywood elites who defended the rape of a child because the rapist made some movies people like:

“This smear involves the willful misinterpretation of a tweet that I posted in 2009,” said Seder, who said Cernovich and his allies were deliberately misrepresenting him to silence his criticism of Roy Moore and President Trump. “I will never be ashamed of criticizing those who would excuse the predation of women or girls. And I certainly won’t be quiet about Roy Moore or a conservative movement that which would defend his actions so they could get his vote in the Senate.”

Seder said the tweet was satirical and was intended to show his disgust with liberals at the time who were attempting to apologize for Polanksi’s past behavior.

So now Mike Cernovich has managed to get the scalp of a guy who actually fought the left’s apologetics on Polanski.

Congratulations, I guess. The Phony Outrage Mob has claimed another victim.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]


The GOP Tax Bill: A Betrayal of Conservative Values

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 7:32 am

Early Saturday morning, the United States Senate passed a sweeping tax bill. While many conservatives are cheering its passage, they shouldn’t be. The bill is a massive and disastrous betrayal of conservative values, for four reasons.

First, the bill proves, once and for all, that no party in Washington D.C. cares about the national debt, its effect on our children, and its drag on the economy.

Second, the bill raises taxes on many in the professional middle class, to give away goodies to super-rich donors.

Third, the bill will drive up health insurance premiums by repealing ObamaCare’s individual mandate without repealing the other provisions of ObamaCare.

Fourth and finally, the bill fails to deliver on the stated goal of “simplifying” the tax code.

Yes, we’re going to dive into each one of those items and see how they fail to benefit Americans. Maybe, before the final legislation is agreed upon and sent to President Trump, some things can be fixed. Or amended. Or we can just start over. (Probably not that last one.)

Here we go…


Unless you are Matt Yglesias, or some other equally smug and ignorant putz, you understand that the national debt is a huge problem. With the recent lifting of the debt ceiling, the debt exceeded $20 trillion dollars. I know that every number that ends in “illion” just ends up sounding like some variant of the word “big” to most people, so if you want a visual of what $20 trillion in hundred-dollar bills looks like, click here, or play this video:

For years, I have warned about the coming crash of the government debt bubble. You can’t go on borrowing like your drunk uncle Joe forever without the ultimate result being inflation and lots of it. And what’s the main thing that will jump-start the crash? Interest rates rising above their unnaturally depressed level. Bad news! That has already started to happen.

And as interest rates rise, and spending continues out of control, an ever-increasing chunk of the national budget will be devoted to interest payments. This will squeeze out other priorities and choke the private sector. Ultimately, our children are going to be paying for all this, one way or another — either in the form of higher taxes, or inflation. Given the cowardice of government officials, it’s going to be inflation. And it’s going to be bad.

And while our main problem is spending, and not taxes, this bill makes the problem worse.

Friday night, hours before the vote, the CBO estimated that the bill would add almost $1.5 trillion to the debt over ten years. Now look. I understand that CBO estimates are generally off. I also understand, and agree with, the argument that growth tends to offset part of the loss in revenue from a tax cut. Static scoring models tend to understate the extent to which growth resulting from a tax cut offsets the loss in revenue. This is all true.

But any honest economist will tell you that there is no guarantee that tax cuts “pay for themselves.” Kevin D. Williamson, who is (like me) a hardcore free marketeer with a respect for the economic philosophy of Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek, wrote a piece in September opposing the proposed Republican tax cut. It is worth quoting at length because it sets forth the case against the tax bill as an engine of growth that will allow tax cuts to “pay for themselves”:

Republicans want to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion — while the government already is running a deficit — and they propose to offset those cuts with wishful thinking.

. . . .

Tax cuts can contribute to economic growth by putting more money into the pockets of consumers and investors. In the free-lunch version of the story, that extra money produces so much new economic activity that the resulting growth in corporate and individual incomes offsets the reduction in tax rates. If that sounds like Keynesian stimulus theory standing on its head, it is. There is a multiplier effect — and politicians looking to sell you a bill of goods always assume that the multiplier is >1, even when there’s no reason to believe this to be the case.

Tax cuts can have anti-growth effects as well as pro-growth effects. Deficits and public debt are a drag on the economy, hoovering up investable capital and putting upward pressure on interest rates. If you want to eventually eliminate those deficits and pay down that debt, then you either have to raise taxes in the future, cut spending, or do both, i.e., you have to invert today’s stimulus measures at some point in the future. (“At some point in the future” is every politician’s favorite timeframe, of course — they all assume they’ll be dead or retired by the time the music stops.)

Williamson acknowledges that, for believers in the Laffer curve (and I am one, as most anyone with any knowledge of economics is), it is true that the loss of revenues can be offset to some degree by growth. But, he noted, it is irresponsible — and not very “conservative” — to expect that the net amount of revenue loss (including the offset) will not add to the debt and deficit:

Republicans are right about the existence of growth effects, but they are fooling themselves about the scale of those effects. There is nothing wrong in principle with “dynamic scoring,” the Republican-favored policy of incorporating growth effects into the Congressional Budget Office’s evaluation of the fiscal effects of legislation. But that should be done responsibly. The current pie-in-the-sky Republican attitude toward taxes is something else entirely. On the other hand, there’s a good conservative case for ignoring dynamic scoring, too: If we cut a dollar in spending for every dollar in tax cuts and find out 20 years from now that we could have gotten away with only cutting 70 cents in spending on the dollar, then that will be a happy surprise. Sobriety in expectations and caution about future developments was, once upon a time, considered “conservative.”

Bob Murphy, a free-market economist who worked for Arthur Laffer, explains that the notion that tax receipts would increase if taxes are cut “was never a blanket prediction of the Laffer approach.”

You can’t count on tax cuts to pay for themselves. These tax cuts are overwhelmingly likely to add to the deficit and debt. At a time when the national debt just passed $20 trillion, this is incredibly irresponsible. Moreover, those Senators who raised concerns about the debt were steamrolled, while others who usually worry about the debt said not a word. So the bill sends a signal that the real problem — out of control spending — will never be addressed. And that has potentially tragic consequences for our country.


The bill is also non-conservative because conservatives are supposed to stand for the middle class. And this bill raises taxes on many in the middle class, to pay for tax breaks for the very wealthy.

First, let’s clear some leftist tropes out of the way.

To be clear: I am not upset that the bill helps the wealthy. Any tax cut bill does. It’s ridiculous to oppose a tax cut on the basis that it benefits the wealthy more than it benefits the poor. Of course it does! The wealthy pay most of the taxes in this country.

The top 1% of taxpayers pay a higher effective income-tax rate than any other group (around 23%, according to a report released by the Tax Policy Center in 2014) — nearly seven times higher than those in the bottom 50%.

If you’re against a tax cut for the wealthy, you’re against tax cuts, period. Similarly, opposing a tax cut because “38% of Americans won’t get a sizable tax cut” ignores the fact that a good chunk of those people aren’t paying federal income tax to begin with.

That said, I don’t think it makes sense to increase taxes on any portion of the middle class while giving a tax break to the super-rich.

And make no mistake: taxes are going up on a lot of people in the middle class. Full disclosure: I am among the members of the professional middle class affected by these changes. How much they will affect me, I’m not sure. There was a flood of activity on the Senate floor just before the vote, with changes handwritten in the margins of legislation and copies cutting off the words in the margins. The last-minute changes included significant ones like the retention of the alternative minimum tax, which will hurt me. Depending on what the final bill looks like, my extra tax liability could be a few hundred extra per year if I’m lucky, and several thousand extra per year if I’m not.

But it’s not about me. Even if the final bill irons everything out to where I personally get a tax cut and not a tax hike, I would still oppose a plan that raised taxes on anyone in the middle class to give a tax raise to the super-rich.

And it does. Conservative Marc Thiessen says that “there are millions of Americans, including individuals and families at every income level, who would see their taxes hiked under the GOP plan.” (My emphasis.) Meanwhile, the bill does benefit the super-rich: “Congress’s official scorekeepers say over 80 percent of millionaires would pay less in taxes in the coming years under this plan.” This analysis was not done on the final version, but it’s obvious that there were no last-minute changes that will suddenly take away the tax breaks of most millionaires.

Again: I would have no problem if the super-rich were to receive a bigger break than the less well-off. They should get a bigger break, since they pay more. But to actually raise taxes on many in the middle class, while cutting taxes of the super-rich, is just plain wrong. People in the middle class are struggling with a lot of problems these days, including out-of-control college tuition and skyrocketing health insurance premiums. It’s infuriatingly bad policy to add to their burdens. As Thiessen says: “When Republicans reform the tax code, there should be no losers, especially not the middle class.” Amen to that!

Many justify this by arguing that the system is getting flatter. That argument has some appeal. I am generally in favor of a flatter tax system. As I said, I am a hardcore free marketeer — meaning I oppose government intervention in as many areas of life as possible. If we look at this only from the perspective of economics, I believe that any special tax break or deduction should be eliminated. But this can be done without raising the taxes of people in the middle class. All Republicans need to do is get rid of some breaks for the super-wealthy, and then lower middle-class rates enough to compensate for the aspects of the plan that hit the middle class in the gut. But GOP lawmakers are so intent on throwing bones to their donors, they simply don’t care that they are screwing the middle class to do it.

The GOP seems to be making a practical political calculation: most of the middle-class people hurt by this bill live in blue states that won’t vote for the GOP anyway. I understand the calculation, but there is a countervailing practical political issue here as well. Blue states aren’t entirely blue. While California will never throw its electoral votes to Donald Trump, we do send about 14 Republicans to the House of Representatives. We do donate to political candidates. But guess what? If Republicans in blue states have their taxes raised by hundreds or even thousands of dollars per family per year, those Republicans may not feel particularly inclined to keep donating to the politicians who voted to raise their taxes. They may even be so disenchanted with Republican lawmakers that they stay home on Election Day. If enough blue-state Republicans feel this way after they see what this bill does to them next April, the bloodbath in 2018 may be worse than any of us ever dreamed.


ObamaCare can never work. It’s an effort to centrally plan one-sixth of America’s economy. The effort was doomed from the beginning, because central planning never works. Ever. We should have learned this when millions starved to death under Communism. But like a cockroach that lives through a nuclear blast, socialism has an incredible ability to outlast the lessons of history, which ought to have destroyed the idea many times over, years ago.

ObamaCare tries to manipulate consumers by changing existing law in the hope that it will create an artificial demand for health insurance (through the individual mandate), to compensate for the requirement that health insurance be supplied at prices that would be unavailable in a truly free market (guaranteed issue). In other words, the law creates a price control, and then tries to avoid the shortages that price controls usually create, by creating an artificial demand by legislative fiat.

It isn’t working, and it never could work. Centrally controlled prices never do. Only the market can balance a demand for goods with a concominant supply of goods. From its inception, ObamaCare has resulted in insurance companies fleeing the exchanges and driving up premiums.

But you can’t fix an imperfect attempt by central planners to balance supply and demand by throwing only one end open to “deregulation.” California learned this in the 1990s with its failed semi-deregulation of utilities, which “deregulated” the supply chain, but left price controls in place on the delivery to consumers. It was a disaster, because you can’t do that. Markets work their magic only when both supply and demand are free of government regulation.

Yet one-sided “deregulation” is exactly what Congress is doing here. It is “deregulating” half of the market (by removing the mandate) while regulating the other half (by continuing to impose guaranteed issue and other regulatory requirements).

If insurance companies lose the part of ObamaCare that incentivizes young people to buy more insurance, by threatening them with a penalty (sorry, a “tax”) for failing to do so, then insurance companies will have to find some other way to deal with the increased costs of guaranteed issue and other regulations. Inevitably, they will do this through some combination of accelerating their current flight from the exchanges, and raising premiums even higher than we have seen to date.

So while ObamaCare’s scheme is unsustainable, the artificial demand created by the individual mandate does serve to balance, albeit imperfectly, the price controls created by guaranteed issue. Deregulating the individual mandate side while leaving the price controls in place will accelerate the death spiral caused by rapidly increasing premiums.

It’s terrible policy, and the egregiousness of it will take days for people to realize, amid the welter of discussion of other aspects of the bill. But make no mistake: this is one of the biggest problems of the Senate bill.


Every tax bill is accompanied by its proponents’ claims it simplifies the filling out of a tax return. Every time, this is a lie. This time is no exception.

Nobody is going to be filing taxes on a postcard. Nobody! All the bill does is create a new set of winners and losers. Who those winners and losers are, exactly, will emerge only slowly over time, as we see what breaks lobbyists were able to lard the bill up with, in the mad rush to get this thing passed in the early hours of a Saturday.

Check out this Washington Post summary of the changes that we know about, and you’ll see a distinct lack of simplicity. There are still SALT deductions, just not as many. There is still an alternative minimum tax. It just applies to a different group. There is still an estate tax. It just applies to a different group of people. As the old shampoo commercial said: And so on. And so on. And so on.


Are there good parts about this bill? Sure, I guess. The corporate tax reduction is welcome. There will be more growth. A lot of Americans will see some actual relief from the bill. It’s not all bad.

But to me, the debt is a five-alarm fire. Any major legislation that makes it worse, and that signals we won’t fix spending, is a calamity.

So while you could say that the passage of the bill means both bad news and good news … yes, that is technically true.

But that’s like saying that the surgeon has bad news and good news after the operation. The bad news is that the surgeon cut off the wrong leg, and you still have gangrene in the leg he left attached. Whoops! I’m sorry about that. But on the bright side, he also put a band-aid on the boo-boo on your elbow and stopped a little bleeding.

Um, thanks for the small favor, I guess? But mainly, screw you guys for the horrible job you did.

Like a lot of things that have happened over the past year, the best real conservatives can say about this is that it has been … clarifying. It really puts a perspective on things, doesn’t it?

[Cross-posted at RedState.]


Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 61

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 2:15 pm

It is the first Sunday of Advent, and the title of today’s cantata is “Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland” (Now come, Savior of the heathens). The performance is a live one conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt:

Today’s Gospel reading is Mark 13:24-37

“But in those days, following that distress,

“‘the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’

“At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.

“Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

The Day and Hour Unknown

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.

“Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”

The text of today’s cantata is available here. The text complements the reading about the coming of the Son of Man: “You come and allow Your light to shine full of blessing. . . Come, you lovely crown of joy, do not delay, I await you with longing.”

Happy listening!

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

The Amazon Search Box Is Back

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 1:23 pm

I’ve been working to get the Amazon search box back and operational on the site. It’s there on the sidebar. Please do use it for your holiday shopping. It benefits the site and helps keep the lights on.

LOL: Al Franken in the Senate Sexual Harassment Hearing You Wish Had Actually Happened

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 1:01 pm

Oh, man. This classic SNL clip is funny enough, but the Al Franken performance just adds a new level to the whole thing.

It’s not that he’s particularly humorous. It’s the irony.

Thanks to Simon J. for the video.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]


Garbage Tax Bill Passing Tonight

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 10:11 pm

Nobody who raises my taxes ever gets another dollar or vote from me.

CBO says it will add $1.5 trillion to the debt.

Trash from a trash party.

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