The fleecing of the American people

So much good stuff written about this horrible tax bill, but I’ll just go with EJ Dionne on top of his game:

Dec. 20, 2017, will live on as a day of disgrace and dishonor.

It will be remembered as the day when a government of, by and for the people became a government of, by and for wealthy campaign donors — and of, by and for wealthy Republican politicians themselves.

We thought the corruption, self-dealing and social indifference of the Gilded Age were long behind us. But we underestimated the raw nerve of President Trump, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

This Triumvirate of Privilege has returned us to the “age of betrayal,” as writer Jack Beatty called the years of the robber barons. The goal has always been to roll back the social advances that the country has made since the Progressive Era. On Wednesday, the demolition crews in the House and Senate struck a devastating blow.

The tax law loots the federal treasury on behalf of major corporations and the richest people in America. It sharply shifts the nation’s tax burden onto wage and salary earners whom Trump, Ryan and McConnell treat as serfs expected to bow before the wielders of capital, including real estate titans such as the president himself. It also creates an utterly unstable tax code. So many new opportunities for evasion were stuffed into this monstrosity that not a single person who voted for it can fully know what its effects will be.

This lobbyists’ wish list was passed with unconscionably reckless haste because those who confected it didn’t want mere citizens to grasp what they were doing…

All except the willfully blind must now acknowledge that, sadly, the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower is dead. Friends of sane budgeting and compassionate health-care coverage placed their hopes in three Republican senators — Jeff Flake of Arizona, Bob Corker of Tennessee and Susan Collins of Maine. Each expressed grave doubts about this bill — and then folded.

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Chart of the day

A student shared this interesting chart at me which uses Linked.com data to look at gender by occupation.  Here it is boiled down to ratios:

Graph

Photo of the day

Loved this gallery of the “most 2017 photos ever.”  So many good ones.  But in honor of my firstborn’s love of fidget spinners, I present Barron Trump with his:

Barron Trump (top right), son of President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump, uses a fidget spinner while stepping off Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on June 11, 2017. 

Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty

Taking offense at Christmas time

First, the latest from PPP (including a little snark at the end from Tom Jensen):

PPP’s annual holidays poll finds that it’s really only Trump voters who get offended about the ‘Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays’ debate. 23% of Trump voters say they’re offended by the phrase ‘Happy Holidays,’ while only 3% of Clinton voters say they’re offended by the phrase ‘Merry Christmas.’ In fact there are actually slightly more Trump voters- 6%- who say they’re offended by ‘Merry Christmas.’ Overall just 13% of voters are offended by ‘Happy Holidays’ and just 4% are offended by ‘Merry Christmas,’ suggesting this issue perhaps gets a little bit more attention than it deserves.

70% of Clinton voters say they don’t care whether people say ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘Happy Holidays,’ and among those who do care they actually choose ‘Merry Christmas’ 23-7. On the other hand only 25% of Trump voters say they don’t care about this issue- 66% prefer ‘Merry Christmas’ to 9% for ‘Happy Holidays.’

All this data suggests that Trump voters are the real snowflakes on the ultra important holiday nomenclature issues.

And if you’d like to explore the matter further, Pew did some fairly extensive polling on religion and the holidays:

Note again, how it is Republicans far more like to be bothered by the “wrong” Christmas greeting.

Also interesting to see that 90% of Americans celebrate Christmas, and for quite a few, simply as a cultural holiday.

 

Chart of the day: expertise version

Via John Pfaff (a genuine expert on criminal justice):

Hmmm, I think I’m not an hazard, because I’m pretty sure I do know some things.  That said, I am very much aware of how much I don’t know.

Fox Evangelicalism

Love this column from Amy Sullivan on the Fox-ification of Evangelical Christianity.  Quite the indictment:

To hear the Christian right tell it, President Trump should be a candidate for sainthood — that is, if evangelicals believed in saints.

“Never in my lifetime have we had a Potus willing to take such a strong outspoken stand for the Christian faith like Donald Trump,” tweeted Franklin Graham, the son of the evangelist Billy Graham. The Dallas pastor Robert Jeffress sees a divine hand at work: “God intervened in our election and put Donald Trump in the Oval Office for a great purpose.”…

But what those critics don’t recognize is that the nationalistic, race-baiting, fear-mongering form of politics enthusiastically practiced by Mr. Trump and Roy Moore in Alabama is central to a new strain of American evangelicalism. This emerging religious worldview — let’s call it “Fox evangelicalism” — is preached from the pulpits of conservative media outlets like Fox News. It imbues secular practices like shopping for gifts with religious significance and declares sacred something as worldly and profane as gun culture

Fox evangelicals don’t back Mr. Trump despite their beliefs, but because of them…

The power of that message may explain the astonishing findings of a survey released this month by LifeWay Research, a Christian organization based in Nashville. LifeWay’s researchers developed questions meant to get at both the way Americans self-identify religiously and their theological beliefs. What they discovered was that while one-quarter of Americans consider themselves to be “evangelical,” less than half of that group actually holds traditional evangelical beliefs. For others, “evangelical” effectively functions as a cultural label, unmoored from theological meaning…

This worldview is familiar to anyone who has spent time watching Fox News, where every day viewers are confronted with threats to their way of life. It’s also profoundly un-Christian. One of the most consistent messages of the Bible is the exhortation “Do not be afraid!” Before young evangelicals can read, we memorize verses reminding us to “be strong and courageous” and “trust in the Lord.” “Fear,” says Mr. Schenck in the documentary, “should not be a controlling element in the life of a Christian.”

Fear and distrust of outsiders — in conflict with numerous biblical teachings to “welcome the stranger” — also explain Fox evangelicals’ strong support for the Trump administration’s efforts to bar refugees and restrict travel to the United States from several majority-Muslim nations. After Mr. Trump’s initial executive orders during his first week in office, more than 100 evangelical leaders, including the head of the National Association of Evangelicals, published a full-page ad in The Washington Post denouncing the refugee ban and urging the president to reconsider. But those leaders didn’t speak for most white evangelicals, three-quarters of whom told Pew pollsters they supported the refugee and travel bans…

The result is a malleable religious identity that can be weaponized not just to complain about department stores that hang “Happy Holidays” banners, but more significantly, in support of politicians like Mr. Trump or Mr. Moore — and of virtually any policy, so long as it is promoted by someone Fox evangelicals consider on their side of the culture war.

“It explains how much evangelicals have moved the goal post,” said Mr. Martin. “If there’s not a moral theology or ethic to it, but it’s about playing for the right team, you can do anything and still be on the right side.”

Damn.  Good stuff. Any why these “Evangelicals” who seem far more interested in following Bill O’Reilly than anything Jesus taught are so infuriating.

Photo of the day

From an Atlantic photos of the year gallery:

A cat tries to find dry ground around an apartment complex after it was inundated with water following Hurricane Harvey on August 30, 2017, in Houston, Texas. 

Scott Olson / Getty
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