Wednesday assorted links


4. Douthat finding a "Trump Doctrine" in the chaos that emanates from the White House reminds me of the evangelical Christian who finds the image of Jesus in his mashed potatoes.

When you combine brevity and your wit your comments are 1000x better.

rayward comment of the year right here.

In that movie, they say Johnny, "you're supposed to make these people repent." And he says, "what makes you think they want to repent."

Really? Is Douthat a Trump worshipper?

Anyhow, Cheers!

rayward "got off his chest" in fewer than the customary 500 words the daily ration of Trump Derangement and, bonus, his animus for evangelicals.

See Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ, "The World is charged with the grandeur of God." Believe.

In conclusion, results/winning are preferable to doctrine.

The wife takes Metamucil. It's early for my Statin washed down with MacAllan single malt Scotch.

Add some fentanyl into the mix. A lot of Trumpees like to do that when they can't hold a job and blame Mexicans for it. Is called the "Tired of Winning" drink.

I feel you pain, bro.

For you, it's been two years of Hell since your fat, drunk harridan didn't get 'her turn.' 2020 don't look so good for you, either.

For us, it's been Heaven.

6. A common saying among artists is "If you can't make it good, make it big. If you can't make it big, make it blue." Funny to see it confirmed by science.

Oh, what a saying! I wish I could put it in a foreword!

#2 Interior reminds me a lot of Pudong International Terminal 1. "Can a Dutchman patent teff?" So much plant and plant product patenting and outright theft (from rubber to almonds exp.) has been going on for so long that I would honestly have to say. If India can patent plants to keep them safe from Monsanto and Brazil can patent new fruits from the Amazon basin and China can steal everything - patents and all - then go ahead and give it a whirl if the arguments there. It's like mesoAmerican's trying to patent corn - which version and from where?

Next up - GMO Injera (p.s. its got 10x the fluff...)

#3 "Golden Age"....."Hollywood Tax Avoidance". That's adorable.

Only 6? I expected more since there were no Tuesday links yesterday.

5: File alongside "Is metric kickball finally taking off in America?"

This joke is worthy of the Library of Congress.

When future historians read the comments section, they will wonder how in the world Donald Trump won.

I don’t care about the length of my penis, Mr. Meister. What I care about in relation to said member is the attractive women who have had dealings with it. It’s a reasonably substantial number. I was satisfied and they were satisfied.

And why, by the way, are you so inordinately obsessed with penises?

the "general" is an unusual case
based on our studies
we it is an alias
and she is actually the head of a major cable news network

we concur but
mebbe you meant to say
"we are convinced it is an alias"
it is the classic penis envy case
probably the fault of the "generals" mother

Why would foreigners care about the airport in Dayton, OH?

I am being impersonated.

Thank God the Library of Congress is archiving all this.

So future generations will know what we endured to protect their freedom from the 50 Cents Party.

It is a shame that Brazil is too cowardly to step into the leadership vacuum that America has created with its regime collapsing. Brazil is called on to save the West by killing the millions of Chinese that need to die, but Brazil cowers from fear of their duty. Sad!

Maybe you should come here tell me that, agent provocateur.

Such a cowardly nation. Sad!

Doctor, doctor, eu sou corno!

Stop impersonating me! You are garbage!

I am not from Dayton. I am from Espírito Santo State, Brazil.

What do you think it was that turned a topical economics blog into a vapid trolls' nest?

And are you proud?


#3... There's something weird about this discussion. If no one was paying the high rates, why was lowering the rates important? Where's the disincentive to invest? And, even if you lower the rates, whose to say the rich won't try and avoid those as well? There's always an agenda in these discussions, but it's not tied to the relationship between taxing and spending. Whatever we do about taxes, both parties are going to spend what they want. No point in advocating deficit spending since that's what we have, and these tax rates, etc., discussions are merely musical taxes, underlying which is accepted cheating.

Kennedy and Reagan lowered the nominal rates and also got rid of loopholes.

You don't want the best minds of your generation devoted to parsing IRS tax codes. When the rate is 90%, they are going to do that. If the rate is 30%, it's less worthwhile to bother.

Got rid of loopholes? All of them? Do you remember the S& L Crisis, by any chance? The deficit? "You don't want the best minds of your generation devoted to parsing IRS tax codes." You mean cheating. Whatever tax laws you pass, there will always be accountants and attorneys looking for loopholes, and either finding them or lobbying to get them, as soon as the law is passed. If you pass a flat tax you'll find the meaning of "Flat" to be obscured. I'm for lower taxes, but you'll only get that by making cuts first.

Deductions were huge, and only cash compensation was taxed. The linked article describes many of the silly tax laws that were used to avoid paying taxes.

I'm not sure what the S&L crisis has to do with anything, but that's for you to discuss with your doctor.

"Flip-flops on real estate taxation first stimulated an overbuilding of commercial real estate in the early 1980s and then accentuated the real estate bust when depreciation and “passive loss” rules were tightened in 1986. The flip-flop had a double whammy effect: the 1981 tax law caused too much real estate to be built, and the 1986 act then hurt the value of much of what had been built."

Thanks for the context. TIL.

If deductions, depletion/depreciation vallownaces - accelerated or otherwise, tax credits, etc. are contained in the Internal Revenue Code, it's not cheating or tax evasion or criminal, it's tax avoidance which is legal. Tax Accounting 101.

Taxes are complicated. They are laws written/enacted by politicians influenced by lobbyists and employed for alternative purposes which are additional to simply raising necessary funds to pay for necessary government services.

Dulce Tributum Inexpertis.

Seriously, Bloomberg! I'm old enough to remember the left's 1960's/1970's propaganda that the rich paid no taxes - it was the tax accountant's super power. Eventually, the brouhaha resulted in the Alternative Minimum Tax, which, with no inflation indexing, soon snagged working stiffs like me. Possibly, the same will happen with this 70% tax rate boondoggle.

FYI. Many "things" contributed to the 1980's/1990's S&L Crisis. One, the 1986 Tax Reform law stopped accelerated (not uncommon: sum of years digits, double declining balance - the theory is to recoup the costs early in the income generation timeline, plus induce investment) depreciation for rental properties for individuals not actively involved in managing/operating the properties. That reduced available liquidity and contributed (along with over-supply and etc.) to commercial real estate value decreases. And, it added to problems during the S&L Crisis, which cost the American taxpayer what $250 billion in 1990 $$$.

Finally (O, Thank God!!) , the 1986 tax reform reduced individual income tax rates - YAY! But, ended income tax deductions for consumer loan interest, e.g., auto loans and credit card debt, and severely limited medical expense deductions - BOO!!!

"'s tax avoidance which is legal. Tax Accounting 101."

No, it's cheating, allowed because certain people want it. It's more like paying illegal farmworkers a low wage, allowed because some people wanted it. You can't admit that the complexity is built into the system just because people don't want to discuss taxes and spending clearly and forthrightly, but, until we do, it will always be tangled web.

Federal income taxes and tax accounting are governed by tax laws enacted by Congress; and are highly complex and specialized. Of course they can be simplified.

Consult your congressman and senators.

FYI - accelerated depreciation is a temporary timing difference. That is early, higher deductible depreciation expenses decrease early year tax liability. Later year, lower accelerated depreciation deductible expense results in increased later year higher tax liability. In the end of the long-lived asset's useful life, the cumulative total accelerated depreciation expense/tax deduction is the same as straight-line depreciation expense. Depletion allowances work similarly. With year-one expensing of long-lived assets, year two has no deductible depreciation expense, so tax liability are much higher for the life of the long-lived asset.

Permanent tax differences never are "recovered." They include earned interest on state, county, municipal bonds. I will not speculate on the motives for this.

"Prior to the Tax Reform Act of 1986, the tax code was full of loopholes that individuals could take advantage of. One favorite was buying rental properties. In 1954, Congress passed a law allowing for accelerated depreciation on any income-producing real estate – meaning that wealthy taxpayers could deduct from their income tax a percentage of the value of the property each year. What made it even better was that more often than not, the property appreciated in value, even as the government provided its generous depreciation schedule. The tax break was used not only by actors making millions but also by lawyers and doctors making $50,000 or $60,000 a year."

Reminds me of multiple Milton Friedman Newssweek columns circa 1970.

His pointt was the high tax rates and tax dodges created too many jobs that drove wage and benefit increeases, and too much capital investment that drove too much GDP growth from high and growing. labor costs turning into too much consumer demand.

Plus too little profits as too much competition from too much capital eliminated pricing power in inflationary times.

Consider, oil prices had been fixed at a nominal $3 a barrel for two decades of inflations with production increasing thanks to too much paying of workers to drill baby drill to convert 50% and high earned income into long term capital gains taxed at 50% of 20% of the nominal dollar gain which was actually a net loss when expenses, depreciation, and inflation were taken into account.

The same was true of real estate development, building factories, doing research, etc.

Too much building of new capital at real net losses, but very profitable after taxes.

Too much paying of workers driven by dodging taxes to build money losing businesses producing too much stuff which bankrupts old high profit businesses as prices can't rise as fast as inflation in labor costs.

What fellow columnist John Galbraith argued in counterpoint was the role off the industrial state in driving investment in capital to drive incresses in employment, wages, and normal standard living costs.

Friedman created the wedge the GOP used to split the progressives from the liberal elites using the state to drive high capital investment to create wealth based on highly productive workers producing, and consuming, a lot of stuff.

When the rich dodged taxes, Friedman convinced progressives to consider all the workers employed as undeserving, over paid, wasteful to the economy, wasterals engaging in gluttony.

Today, Al Gore is accused of hypocrisy for having a big house that uses lots of electricity because paying millions to workers to build solar power systems to power his luxury lifestyle. Those who advocate sustainable living MUST WEAR HAIR SHIIRTS AND NEVER PPAY MILLIONS TO WORKERS!

Besides, Al Gore is just advocating investing in green technology to get rich!

After all, Milton Friedman was trying to get rid of the state control of the economy, because he knew the fossil fuel and nuke power capitalists were in it to get poor, unlike the hippies opposed to coal and nuke power to get filthy rich building backyard wind turbines.

Democrats today parrot the GOP in the economics of paying workers costs too much, and the high costs kills jobs, so the only way to create jobs is by government borrowing money to given consumers money to buy stuff so no one needs to pay workers. And the way to give consumers money is with tax cuts.

The policy invented by Milton Friedman attacking the high tax rates and tax dodging that drove too much paying of workers to work so they could spend too much consuming too much. Ie, when government pokicy no longer creates enough jobs, government should ensure they have money to spend consuming stuff to keep GDP from crashing.

"f no one was paying the high rates, why was lowering the rates important?"

Because the tax dodges were misallocations of capital, reduced overall GDP, and reduced overall income tax revenue.

"even if you lower the rates, whose to say the rich won't try and avoid those as well?"

Every tax avoidance scheme has a loss. If you reduce rates enough so that the tax is less than the loss on tax avoidance, taxpayers will move their activities to the non-avoided. A simultaneous removal of loopholes helps.

After the "JFK Tax Cut" (Revenue Act of 1964) dropped the top marginal rate from 91% to 70 - and income tax revenue went up the next year.

4, Trump's China strategy is probably right as well -- confront and weaken that evil dictatorship before it is too powerful to do so.

#6, I really like this article, thanks for sharing. I'm guessing prospective buyers are looking to capture a reproduction or projection of their reality. But from an impressionist perspective, the artist could be more "marketable", demonstrating a mastery of color, similar to Monet's "Haystacks" style in his attempts to capture all distinct and subtle lighting. Like someone referred to it earlier, If you're going to pay, you may as well purchase every color possible.

"Do you really think Bing Crosby and Bob Hope paid 90 percent of their income to the taxman?"

Of course not, but neither do I think this line of defense against higher marginal tax rates is terribly bright. If you understand that there are effective tax rates, you understand that marginal brackets and rates are just one component to them. They are just one tool in tax design.

If anything these articles backfire, at least for me, proving that people can have relatively low effective tax rates, all things considered, even given high headline rates.

So no problem, right? Let's see the full plan and run the numbers for effective tax rate at each income quintile.

Another plan without a constituency: vastly simplified tax code.

The one bright spot in the Trump tax reform was reduction of SALT deductions. Want higher rates? Eliminate SALT and mortgage deduction first. Paging Warren...

Of course they immediately lost the House.

Intuit, the makers of Turbo Tax, and other tax preparers actively fight against a simpler tax code for obvious reasons.

#4: I'm as big an anti-Trump guy as there is, but this paragraph from Douthat is pretty accurate:

"But those of us who fear Trump also need to be honest when he exceeds our expectations. Before his election, I wanted a Republican foreign policy that was less hubristic and more calculating than what most leading G.O.P. politicians were offering, that showed a willingness to limit foreign interventions and conduct diplomatic experiments while also trying to maintain United States primacy in a more multipolar, Chinese-influenced world."

Sorry, needed to include the follow on point which is that Trump has delivered basically what Douthat wanted, even if he didn't do it in a planned or thoughtful manner.

Do you really think that the Trump Adminisration isn't executing foreign policy "in a planned or thoughtful manner"? Of course, they are. What you mean to say is you don't like Trump, Trump's image, his rhetoric, his style, his character, and you want to lob some insults in that direction, but you actually really do like some of the actual actions being done by the Trump Administration.

So the headline today is "Trump blasts U.S. intelligence officials, disputes assessments on Iran and other global threats"

I can't even tell. Are one of the other of you (msgkings and Massimo) in favor of that? Does attacking US Intelligence assessments add up to some better conservative foreign policy?

That's a "headline" alright. Those daily news cycle articles are mostly junk.

Judge the big stuff. Skip over the daily headlines and different pundit spins.

If you way to be happy in Trumpland, skip over whatever is necessary I guess.

As Douthat also ably demonstrates.

Yes I really think that. And so does everyone not busy kneeling in front of their Trump shrine.

Vladimir accepts no false gods in the Russian mazes. ;)

once and for all, in the room is a couch lies a girl on the floor her shoes.

"a willingness to limit foreign interventions"

Funny thing to say as troops are sent somewhat mysteriously to Niger and the Congo. Maybe people just prefer secret deployments? Are they less upsetting?

Well yeah if they are secret.

Something I read recently: there will not be a European army in the near future. Because too many Germans are pacifists.

But Germany will deploy plenty of troops to Niger to help deter migrants at the source (as opposed to at the waters edge). And that’s a good thing!

Germans are pacifists.

There is >1000 yrs of drang nach ost, versus 70 years of pacifist Germans.

#4 is a classic case of laying one's hopes and dreams on someone else's unfilled promises. In this case on someone with a very bad record of delivering on such promises. One example:

"At the same, the Venezuelan effort is striking in its establishment-foreign-policy normalcy."

Really. Does that include 5000 troops to Columbia?

By the way, another good example on that dreams versus reality stuff:

"Trump, Foxconn, and Wisconsin: a play in three acts."

You changed your name again

I don't know about that, but why would anyone want any name here?

Did you catch the Thiago and "impersonator" games up top?

Solve for the equilibrium.

Say a true thing and you are all "OMG whoooooooooo said this true thing!!!"

that Foxconn scam was so obvious to anybody with half a brain cell. unfortunately that's half a brain cell to much for Walker and Trump.

#1-Burri “ protesters take to the streets, united by what they don’t like, but without a shared agenda for how to move forward or the institutional infrastructure to figure out how to fix things. Some popular movements have come to view any attempt to exercise power over others as suspect.“
Yes, that seems to sum up the “yellow vests” for me.

4. Douthat's op-ed is garbage.

"This Trump doctrine, in practice, isn’t the isolationism that he sometimes promised on the campaign trail;"

Did Trump ever once call for ioslationism?

I've listened to many Trump speeches and rallies and tweets and interview. I've never, ever heard Trump call for isolationism. He called for "America First". Not isolationism. Douthat is fabricating that.

"Donald Trump has no clear legislative strategy, no policy agenda"

The President isn't allowed to legislate. That's the authority of Congress. The Democrats have a majority in the House meaning that Trump can merely veto Democratic legislation.

Not doing yourself any favors with this nonsense.

Only a genius can afford two adjectives to a noun….Line is as important in prose as in engraving. Isaac Babel

Stop impersonating me, Chinese!

RE #5: I actually suspect that there will be a resurgence in the fine arts as the boomer model for culture continues towards its reductio ad absurdum.

5. Great. Now hipsters can ruin that too

4. Ross Douthat on the Trump doctrine (NYT).

Everyone around the world should spend more time in a hotel.

#4. The SOTU kerfuffle reminded me that 16 years ago, at the same point in his Presidency, Bush lied the nation into maybe the stupidest, most avoidable, and counterproductive war the US has ever engaged in.

Trump is obviously doing better than expected, and much better than Bush.

Seems like the “intelligence “ community was telling him that Sadaam had WMDs the back then. Based on recent news, they haven’t gotten any smarter, and they still hate Republicans.

Wait a sec, the CIA that gave Cheney the ammo he needed to get his war did that because they hated Republicans?

This is dumb even for you.

If I remember the story correctly, the intelligence agencies were pushed along by the Office of Special Plans, headed by political apointee Doug Fife, who gave the answer Bush wanted.


' The office, eventually dismantled, was later criticized in Congress and the media for analysis that was contradicted by CIA analysis and investigations performed following the invasion of Iraq.'

5: this article is about Britain though, yes? I'd guess that there's a more receptive attitude towards classical music there than in the US.

"Research found that a new generation of listeners was switching on to classical music through different sources, with 48% of under-35s exposed to it through classical versions of popular songs, such as the Brooklyn Duo version of Taylor Swift’s Blank. And 74% of people in the same age group had experienced classical music via a live orchestral performance at a film screening"

This I have seen plenty of, the Oregon Symphony will have concerts where it will play the music of some popular musicians, maybe with the musicians themselves on stage. The members of Pink Martini are largely from Portland so they are a perpetual favorite. Their recorded music is interesting and nice but not a must-hear -- but their live performances are extraordinary. To paraphrase that Oldsmobile commercial, this is not your father's philharmonic.

The symphony also does movies as described in the quote, Star Wars or Star Trek and this spring they're doing Coraline (the animation studio that made the film is in the Portland area). I haven't seen Coraline and would like to see it but the cheapest tickets are something like $35, which is a heck of a lot to pay to watch a movie. Not too expensive for a symphony concert, but I have little interest in Coraline's music.

The Oregon symphony has clearly been scrambling to find ways to attract new audience members and patrons. Except for Pink Martini, I have no interest in their pop music hybrid performances and I don't see myself going to any of their movie screenings. Last year they had a few concerts that featured fancy visual props that I think were somewhat successful artistically.

This season though they had one that was stunningly successful. I'd never heard a live performance of Petrushka so I went there with the intention of listening to it. This is not the Oregon Ballet so there would be no dance performance; there's not enough room on the stage in the first place.

But someone made the smart realization that Petrushka is mainly about puppets, and there's enough room for puppeteers and puppets big and small (the small ones were caught on camera and had their images projected on a screen so the people who weren't in front row seats could see what the puppeteers were doing).

For scenes that called for large numbers of human beings to do something (villagers celebrating at a festival) the musicians had costumes and props and played the role, obviously constrained by the need to keep playing their instruments (but the ones who were not playing during a given passage, often percussionists, could engage in some goofball antics at the back of the orchestra, again caught on camera so the whole auditorium could see).

So talk about mixed media: orchestral music, puppetry of all sorts, even a few video clips to show scenes that couldn't be performed on a live stage. And various stage performances, they even had the UniPiper come rolling out on stage (a Portlander who rides a unicycle while wearing a Darth Vader helmet and a kilt while playing the bagpipes -- and his bagpipes can send flames shooting out of the ends).

2 b) Reminds of the attempt to patent turmeric in the West ; a home remedy in India for centuries.

5 stuff like this is pretty good stuff

4. The final analysis of Trump's foreign policy will need to wait until after he's gone, but unless you're a nut like Max Boot, you have to admit that so far Trump has a better foreign policy than Obama, Bush, and HW Bush.

That's probably not so much to his credit but rather that the presidents who came before him were so god awful.

I find that modern life makes listening to classical music challenging. I listen to music most often in the car or at work. The extreme dynamics of classical music (especially orchestral music) means that I can barely hear the quiet parts, and if I turn up the volume, the loud parts are deafening.

Yes, I used to ride the subway listening to classical music on cassette tapes. Sometimes I'd get a fancier recording that would boast "XDR" (extended dynamic range). I couldn't actually detect a difference but my reaction was that I wanted a smaller dynamic range because even with earphones, trying to have both quiet passages and loud passages was not compatible with the background noise.

Good thing that airport is being enlarged. When the next drought/famine (unpredictable but inevitable) strikes we will have to feed 100 million instead of the 77 million last time. Ethiopia doesn't have the best relations with Eritrea or Somalia(which will be in D/F mode too) so yeah fly the food in. Practice for time after that with 130 million.

Is there a Trump doctrine?

I would say that there are two types of efforts in the Trump administration:
- those led by Trump: usually random and badly planned, work when they work (more often than not, don't work)
-those led by his aides: not random, some good, some bad (no policies are perfect) but at least strutured and done in colaboration with their allies.

And that's it. I don't think there is a "strategy" there are various players that get their ideas ahead according to the mood and disposition of Donald Trum.

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