Photo of the day

When non-photo-lover DJC recommends a photo gallery I listen.  This National Geographic adventure photo gallery is amazing.  And, since DJC recommended, I’m going with the surfing photo:

SURFING AT NIGHT IN SUMATRA

“I clicked the shutter and boom! I caught a wave to my head, and then another one right after that,” says photographer Fred Pompermayer about this image of surfer Adriano De Souza riding a wave in the early morning darkness of Mentawai, Sumatra. “It took all of my energy just to get back to the boat after that.”

PHOTOGRAPH BY FRED POMPERMAYER

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Chart of the day

Some good stuff from Pew in their, “16 striking findings from 2016,” but given my interests in partisanship, this was my favorite:

Absent some major external shock that is just a hell of a change.  Then again, I guess we could say Trump is a major external shock.  Oh, and just for the record, there’s an empirically verifiable correct answer– good thing.

A pro-worker agenda for Democrats

I really liked this column from Josh Barro on a “A pro-work, pro-worker, pro-wage agenda for Democrats.”  This first idea sounds particularly good to me.  I imagine upon closer look it may not be the most optimal of policies, but politically-speaking, it has the benefit of being super-straightforward and an idea that would certainly favor Democrats politically:

1. Exempt the first $11,500 of every American’s wage and salary income from the employee part of payroll tax. The principle here is simple: Workers should not have to pay any federal tax on the wages they need to earn simply to stay above the poverty line.

Federal income tax is already designed in accordance with this goal, but payroll tax begins at the first dollar of income and is a significant burden on the working poor. This universal tax exclusion would raise the typical two-parent family’s after-tax income by $1,750, which would mean a material increase in standard of living for the working poor and a noticeable increase for the middle class.

This near-universal tax cut would admittedly be expensive. It could be financed by expanding the payroll tax base to cover high incomes, including by abolishing the cap that currently limits Social Security taxes to the first $127,200 of income. This would be a large tax increase on the rich, but given the way economic changes over the last four decades have favored the wealthiest Americans, it makes sense to change Social Security’s financing structure so the tax exclusion goes to the bottom of the income scale instead of the top.

Tax increases on the rich are popular in the abstract, but do not necessarily help Democrats who propose them because voters fear the new tax revenue will be wasted or spent on somebody else. Applying the tax proceeds directly to a broad tax cut for nearly all working Americans would answer the “What’s in it for me?” question and make the government more progressive without making it any larger or more complicated.

7 more ideas, too, worth checking out.

 

Hillary’s emails and the blame on liberals

Much like Drum actually made his name as a blogger way back when during the controversy over George W. Bush’s National Guard service by being exacting with the facts of the situation while others wrote about what they thought they knew, he’s likewise played a similar role and been great on the actual reality of Hillary’s emails.

I really like this post that takes a pretty thorough look at the timeline and the key contexts and comes down placing a fair amount of blame on liberals.  And, I think he’s right.  Now, to be clear, this is very much the work of Republicans in Congress (and Comey) making a mountain out of a molehill and the media way too credulously going along, “scandal!”

Image result for dug squirrel

(Sorry, I watched “Up” with my sick daughter yesterday)

First, Drum’s nickel summary of what was going on:

So here’s what we’ve got. Clinton used a private server for her unclassified emails. However, that doesn’t provide any reason to think she was any more careless about discussing classified information than any other secretary of state. Nevertheless, Republicans used the excuse of the Benghazi investigation to demand an inspector general’s audit of her emails. The intelligence community, naturally, concluded that Clinton’s archives contained thousands of discussions of classified programs. They would most likely conclude the same thing if they audited the email
account of any ranking State Department official. It’s just a fact of life that State and CIA disagree about this stuff.

Comey certainly knew this, and he also knew that Clinton had done nothing out of the ordinary. However, in an attempt to appease congressional Republicans, who were sure to go ballistic when their hopes of putting Clinton in the dock failed yet again, he held a press conference where he called her actions “extremely careless.” Then, three months later, with absolutely no justification, he announced that more emails had been discovered—and he announced it in the most damaging possible way.

This is the meat of the whole affair.

But part of the reason the media way-too-credulously went along is because liberals allowed them to:

The bottom line is simple: There was never any real reason for either the IG investigations or the FBI investigation. And in the end, the FBI found nothing out of the ordinary—just the usual State-CIA squabbling. Nevertheless, under pressure from Republicans, Comey spent a full year on the investigation; reported its conclusions in the most damaging possible way; and then did it again two weeks before the election. Because of this, Clinton lost about 2 percent of the vote, and the presidency.

Liberals should have defended her with gusto from the start. There was never anything here and no evidence that Clinton did anything seriously wrong. And yet we didn’t. Many liberals just steered clear of the whole thing. Others—including me sometimes—felt like every defense had to contain a series of caveats acknowledging that, yes, the private server was a bad idea, harumph harumph. And some others didn’t even go that far. The result was that in the public eye, both liberals and conservatives were more or less agreeing that there was a lot of smoke here. So smoke there was. And now Donald Trump is a month away from being president. [emphasis mine]

Yes, yes, yes!  The media looks to elites from both parties to shape it’s coverage (the indexing theory), and with Democrats offering little pushback, reporters were really able to run with this whole “cloud” of scandal and the idea that Hillary must have done something seriously wrong.  I’m not sure who on the right would have made for a good analogy, but I suspect Republicans would have circled the wagons in an effective manner if it were their likely standard-bearer who were being attacked in such a way.

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