Sunday, January 10, 2016

Last Call For The Laughed-At Curve

Good thing Art Laffer is as good at political punditry as he is being an economist, huh.

Supply-side economist Arthur Laffer is predicting Republicans will win the White House in a landslide this year, regardless of the nominee.

“I would be surprised if the Republicans don’t take 45, 46, 47 states out of the 50,” Laffer told host John Catsimatidis on “The Cats Roundtable” on New York’s AM-970 on Sunday.

“I mean, I think we’re going to landslide this election.”

Laffer, who served in various positions in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations, said he is bullish on the entire Republican primary field.

“When I look at these candidates, I don’t see one of them who wouldn’t do a great job as president,” he said.

“I think Donald Trump is phenomenal, I think Rand Paul has done a great job, I even like Jeb Bush — I think Jeb Bush is great, he did a wonderful job in Florida,” he added. “Chris Christie – phenomenal.”

He said Democratic primary front-runner Hillary Clinton’s “day is over.”

“She would be defeated handily. I don’t think Hillary’s going to win this election no matter whom she runs against,” he said. “I mean, Hillary’s day is over."

This is just funny. Every presidential election is Reagan-Mondale in 1984 to these clowns, and gosh, the last six election they haven't even been able to top 286.

It's not that they can't win in 2016, far from it.  We know they will show up, because they are motivated by revenge against Obama and everyone who voted for him. The only question is whether or not our side goes to the polls at all in the states that are in play and try to stop them.

But 500+ EVs?  No.

Put that in the Future Stupidity files for sure.

El Chapo's Day Out

Needless to say, after Mexican marines recaptured drug cartel kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman last week after his daring escape from a Mexican prison, the pressure to extradite him to the US is very, very strong.

Mexico aims to extradite drug lord Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman to the United States after security forces recaptured the fugitive cartel leader who blew his cover through a series of slip ups, including an attempt to make a movie about his life.

The Mexican Attorney General's office will be working as fast as possible to establish the path to extradition, and Chapo could be sent to the United States by mid-year, a source familiar with the situation said on Saturday. However the timing might depend on injunctions filed by Guzman's legal team.

Guzman, the world's top drug smuggler and boss of the powerful Sinaloa Cartel, is wanted by U.S. authorities on a host of criminal charges. His organization has smuggled billions of dollars worth of drugs into the United States and is blamed for thousands of deaths in Mexico and the United States due to addiction and gang warfare.

"The objective is to fulfill the extradition request," another source said.

Whether or not Guzman will escape again is anyone's guess.  But he made enough mistakes that even corrupt Mexican officials had an easy time finding him, and I'm betting that had lots of help from very determined US law enforcement. His biggest mistake?  Talking to Sean Penn for a Rolling Stone interview.

No, really. He did.

We'll see if Guzman ever makes it to America in 2016, I put the odds at 50/50 at best.

Why We're Losing The Gun Control Battle

Because the default "landed gentry" mode for America is now guys like this writing letters to the Boston Globe.

So, to the angry liberal who sat next to me on the commuter rail: I don’t hate you. I don’t have any ill feelings toward you. I don’t wish to do you harm. And I don’t regret sitting next to you. On the contrary; I feel bad for you. It must hurt carrying that much hate inside of you.

You obviously have strong opinions about this hot topic. So, let me say this as plainly as I can: If a bad guy with a gun had decided to walk onto that train and start shooting people, I would have been prepared and able to use my gun to defend my own life and the lives of everyone else on that train, including yours. Although you may hate me, a gun owner, I would risk my life for you.

Opinions and ideologies make a pretty thin shield against the bullets of a madman. Your liberal self-righteousness and ignorance may have made you feel superior and comfortable, but during that 40-minute train ride to Boston, my gun kept you safe.

The "good guys with guns" always believe they are and that they will be ready, and that they have to be ready.  It gives them power to again be the guys "in charge" in a world where the rest of us have gained in the equality stakes.  It's a societal movement of goal-posts where the new "hero" is the person with the concealed carry handgun, and of course a modern update of "only nobles can carry swords".

Going through life honestly believing that you are so much better than everyone else because they are all losers compared to you is nothing new, of course.  But throwing a weapon capable of killing someone in seconds into the mix and the margin of error makes the consequences of overreaction a deadly mistake.

The asshole on the train packing can end your life in a moment, and they very much enjoy having that kind of power. It used to be that had some accountability as a police officer or member of the military to have that mindset, but we've made it easier and easier to give to Joe Blow in state after state.

Do you ever think we're going to take that power away from these armed maniacs?  The power to sneer at unwashed libtard masses and say "my gun kept you safe" with the unspoken threat behind that?

Not in our lifetimes.

Sunday Long Read: Taxing Belief

With tax season upon us once again, this week's Sunday Long Read is from NY Times writers Noam Scheiber and Patricia Cohen as they give us the story of how America's richest have bought our tax policy to protect their wealth at our expense.

The hedge fund magnates Daniel S. Loeb, Louis Moore Bacon and Steven A. Cohen have much in common. They have managed billions of dollars in capital, earning vast fortunes. They have invested large sums in art — and millions more in political candidates.

Moreover, each has exploited an esoteric tax loophole that saved them millions in taxes. The trick? Route the money to Bermuda and back.

With inequality at its highest levels in nearly a century and public debate rising over whether the government should respond to it through higher taxes on the wealthy, the very richest Americans have financed a sophisticated and astonishingly effective apparatus for shielding their fortunes. Some call it the “income defense industry,” consisting of a high-priced phalanx of lawyers, estate planners, lobbyists and anti-tax activists who exploit and defend a dizzying array of tax maneuvers, virtually none of them available to taxpayers of more modest means.

In recent years, this apparatus has become one of the most powerful avenues of influence for wealthy Americans of all political stripes, including Mr. Loeb and Mr. Cohen, who give heavily to Republicans, and the liberal billionaire George Soros, who has called for higher levies on the rich while at the same time using tax loopholes to bolster his own fortune.

All are among a small group providing much of the early cash for the 2016 presidential campaign.

Operating largely out of public view — in tax court, through arcane legislative provisions and in private negotiations with the Internal Revenue Service — the wealthy have used their influence to steadily whittle away at the government’s ability to tax them. The effect has been to create a kind of private tax system, catering to only several thousand Americans.

The impact on their own fortunes has been stark. Two decades ago, when Bill Clinton was elected president, the 400 highest-earning taxpayers in America paid nearly 27 percent of their income in federal taxes, according to I.R.S. data. By 2012, when President Obama was re-elected, that figure had fallen to less than 17 percent, which is just slightly more than the typical family making $100,000 annually, when payroll taxes are included for both groups.

The ultra-wealthy “literally pay millions of dollars for these services,” said Jeffrey A. Winters, a political scientist at Northwestern University who studies economic elites, “and save in the tens or hundreds of millions in taxes.”

So yes, despite President Obama and the GOP agreeing to raise the top marginal tax rate to 39.6%, virtually none of the richest Americans actually pay that amount, and they never will.  They've long bought the trap doors and loopholes out of it, and if a Republican president gets into the White House in 2017, they'll pay even less.

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