Graphic: Quino Al via Unsplash (mod by Rayne)

Three Things: Take Action on Tax Bill, Net Neutrality, and a Courtroom Virgin

There’s a lot of crappy stuff going on, but three things need your urgent attention and action: Tax cuts for wealthy, net neutrality, and an unqualified federal judicial appointment.

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So-called Tax Reform Legislation

Tax cuts for people who don’t need them and won’t even feel them, paid for by the people who can least afford them — it’s a recipe for disaster. If Putin wanted to damage our economy he couldn’t have done a better job in one go. I could rant all day about the stupidity required to believe trickle-down or supply-side economics work, but this wealthy dude does a succinct job. As he says it’s a trickle-down lie; this bill is simply a wealth transfer from the lower deciles to the upper deciles.

You can also bone up by reading this Forbes article, and this Forbes article, and hello, another Forbes article.

This is a nightmare in the making which will tank our economy and literally threaten American lives by reducing access to healthcare. The only real driver behind this bill is extortion — the GOP’s biggest donors have threatened to shut their wallets if they don’t get their tax cuts, and GOP members of Congress are too fucking weak to tell them to pound sand.

Go ahead, selfish billionaires, primary GOP incumbents. You think you can rustle up more sycophantic (and pedophilic) candidates like Roy Moore and still retain control of the House and Senate in 2018, even if you suppress the vote? Hah.

More than half this country struggles to scrape up enough cash to pay for an emergency, like a car repair or a broken appliance, and the GOP thinks increasing their taxes and undermining their health care will magically make the economy better?

And now the kicker: Alaska’s Senator Murkowski, who has been a champion for health care, just agreed to support the repeal of the individual mandate included in this tax bill. The stupid, it burns. Or perhaps it’s some ill-considered kickback burning its way through Murkowski’s cred.

Here’s a script for your use, provided by the ever-helpful @celeste_pewter. Call Congress’ switchboard at (202) 221-3121 or look for your senators’ closest in-state office and leave a message there — all senators are home this week.

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FCC Chair Ajit Pai’s Blowjob for ISPs

It’s really far more than a blowjob and it’s definitely obscene. Allowing ISPs to discriminate against bits in the pipe by throttling, blocking, or additional charges to further their agenda is absolutely unacceptable. There’s far too much at risk, beginning with the end of moderately priced internet. Some industries will be damaged — filmmakers, for example, already have problems with releasing films across the U.S. over the internet, as users do not have the same quality of network. Streaming providers like Netflix will also experience problems; angry users will blame them for poor service, when it may be the ISP throttling them. Marketplace’s Molly Wood does a pretty good job reviewing the problems with Pai’s proposed changes and the challenges with the existing regulatory framework.

Let’s be frank: your porn will be affected, too, as removing net neutrality means ISPs can audit the content you request and block/throttle/demand more to release it, or strong arm you into using their brand of porn using a combination of price differentiation and delivery constraints.

And then there’s the issue of Pai’s handling of comments on this change, which New York’s AG Eric Schneiderman has been investigating — little cooperation with Schneiderman to date and a decision made based on a manipulated feedback process — all suggest the FCC is taking illegitimate action.

So, so shady. Ajit Pai should never have been approved by this Congress as FCC chair; Congress needs to reign in his overreach by legislating net neutrality. Could the existing FCC regulations be improved? Sure, but Pai’s proposal does nothing of the sort — Congress should address this.

ACLU’s prepared a short-and-sweet script for you use. Use the ACLU’s call routing through their website, or call Congress’ switchboard at(202) 221-3121.

@Celeste_pewter offers more detailed script with a more thorough ask at this link.

Also via miracle worker @celeste_pewter, here’s a script for writing to Ajit Pai at FCC. Please personalize your message — don’t just cut-and-paste. Take a stand.

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Incredibly Wretched Judicial Nominee Talley

What. The. Fuck? I can’t even begin to explain how awful a nominee Brett Talley is; he should never have been allowed to get this far. Read up on their hideousness here. How can the Senate Judiciary Committee think for a moment that ghost-hunting,White-House-lawyer-married, ABA-‘unqualified’, courtroom-virgin Talley, is well qualified for a lifetime appointment? This is a complete rejection of the Senate’s power to advise and consent.

Call your senators at (202) 221-3121 or their home state offices and ask them to vote NO on Talley, deny their consent. We can and must do better with these lifetime appointments. Need a script? Once again, Celeste is on top of it.

In my opinion, the Senate should refuse to approve any more judiciary nominees before the 2018 election. Talley is the latest of four Trump nominees the ABA found ‘unqualified’. If somebody is drafting articles of impeachment, these nominees should be cited as an example of Trump’s failure to faithfully execute this country’s laws.

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There’s so much more that’s wrong, like the lack of funding and inadequate labor for Puerto Rico and California wildfire recovery, Puerto Rico’s Medicaid funding, another horribly qualified nominee for U.S. Census, attacks on the DREAM/DACA/SECURE Acts, or the lapse of CHIP putting the health of NINE MILLION AMERICAN CHILDREN at risk. But the three issues listed above are the ones which will have the greatest affect on the largest number of Americans.

If you have Republican legislators, your calls are even more important, though Democratic and Independent legislators do need to hear from you so they can validate their resistance. Call your elected representatives pronto — don’t take this crap without a fight. Get out in front of these turkeys.

This is an open thread. Bring your comments here which are off topic in other threads, thanks.

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.

20 replies
  1. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The stupid, it burns.  Yup.

    These tax cuts are giveaways for people who are already among the wealthiest and highest income earners on the planet.  They don’t need them to make ends meet, but hundreds of millions of Americans who already live paycheck to paycheck will have to go without in order to pay for them.

    These gifts will decrease spending on health, education, jobs and infrastructure – exactly the opposite of what America and Americans need.  The wealthy will not reinvest these gifts here.  They will invest them in China, or a Caribbean-London tax shelter, they will buy another vacation home or an island, or add another ten square miles of New Zealand to their “I can survive the holocaust” burn bag.

    Trump is built on hate.  He hates himself mostly. but that has consequences.  He burns everything he touches because it makes him feel better.  He is destroying community and society, he is refusing to reinvest in Americans and their infrastructure so that he can have a nice day.  In less than a year, he has surpassed George W. Bush as the worst president in American history.

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The Internet is a public utility, not a novel cell phone or social media app.  It is a highway now essential for communications, for learning, for finding a job, for getting health care, for talking with a government and companies that now refuse to “talk” to their patrons any other way.  It is essential public infrastructure for which we already overpay for lower levels of service than are readily available in Europe or Asia.

    Regulating a public utility is not “micromanaging” the Internet – Pai’s foolish description of the alternative to letting the market “regulate” itself through monopoly pricing.  It is ensuring that the services of that utility – and the ideas, products and services communicated through it – are available to all at the same price.

    If anything, Pai should be asking his Internet provider patrons why they charge twice as much for services that are so slow and so unevenly available, that Seoul or Beijing, Amsterdam or Berlin would put them out of business for incompetence.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Cloudflare looking into taking a stand:

      https://mobile.twitter.com/eastdakota/status/933490344624304130

      Some of the responses miss the point.

      First this tweet by @tmcpro

      “Replying to @eastdakota and @JoshConstine
      Although a great concept, the display of hypocrisy that one man has enough control of the internet to control the speeds and sites of one user goes completely against the idea of an open internet.”

      And a followup tweet by @hollowlogonahil (who spots the pure fascist hypocrisy by @tmcpro who was just attacking Matthew Prince, the CEO of Cloudflare)

      “So what you’re saying is we might need regulation to ensure that actors with a lot of control over internet infrastructure aren’t able to use that control to selectively affect traffic 🤔

      Interesting theory.”

      Point directed at @tmcpro probably missed.
      @hollowlogonahil was trying to point out to @tmcpro that his attack on Matthew Prince should be directed at Ajit Pai.

      Why should a person that worships a fascist be ‘right’ but another pointing out a problem is ‘wrong’?

      Alas, this is how fascists actually think (actually not think).

      But, a very big point can be made to Congress, not just Ajit Pai.

      The fact is that most Tech Companies are not happy with the attack on Network Neutrality.
      (The bandwidth providers are not complaining. Telcos especially silent. And history shows that the telcos promise the moon but do nothing except collect cash or tax breaks)

      So, even though Cloudflare can make a point,
      others can also.

      If there is no network neutrality, then besides a slowdown message to Ajit Pai, a slowdown message to Congress will be much more effective. Congress may regret what they ask for.

      Websites can intentionally slow down MoC access.

      Congress could use a ‘demo’ of what can happen.

      In next 2 weeks.

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump isn’t paying attention to his judicial nominees, other than waving his hand at the idea that they should always agree with his majesty.  Someone, some other group, is driving these nominations: finding them, screening them, preening them for appointment.  As with nominees for the Senate from Alabama, even minimal competence for the job is irrelevant.  Political reliability, willingness to support their patrons come hell or high water – in the manner of Tim Griffin or Brett Kavanaugh – is the touchstone.

    I don’t think our founding fathers – and the women who supported them – ever expected their revered Senate to be such a lapdog as to allow these unqualified white waspy men to sit for life on the federal bench.  How many more causes do establishment Dems need to get up off their collective arses and do their jobs?

    • Rugger9 says:

      Conway gave the game away as well as many other GOP operatives and politicians: it is about voting for the agenda, not about the law or for their voters.  The evangelical Pharisee bloc firmly believe that the ends justify the means as long as they end up in charge.

      “1984” stated this quite well: the purpose of power is power.

      In the previous Gilded Age, we had corporations becoming people from a note inserted by a clerk with an agenda (Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific, apparently the actual ruling in the body of the decision says otherwise), we have the “separate but equal” doctrine from Plessey v. Ferguson, rampant union-busting decisions, etc., so outrageous legal theory is nothing really new.

    • Rugger9 says:

      Reagan used to do that, the “I know a guy” theme which may or may not be an actual guy.  The GOP has been using that stuff ever since to hide who would really benefit.

      It might be time to break out the old “Experts agree, censorship works” ads from 30-something years ago.

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump’s administration is attempting a twofer.  It wants unqualified, excessively thankful, loyal, politically reliable, racist, sexist, white men to sit on the bench for a generation, to guard what the hard right regard as their just desserts.  As Charlie Koch has said, that means the whole pie, tin and all.  That’s not novel: Bush junior, for example, did much the same though not to this degree.

    Trump simultaneously wants to demean and downgrade a judiciary that – despite Obama’s failure to reinvest in it after Bush junior packed it with the likes of Brett Kavanaugh and other less qualified appointees – has been a bulwark against Trump’s most egregious attempts to discriminate.  As any number of white men in smoke-filled private rooms might say: burn it all; let god and fundamentalist Republicans sort it out.

  5. dalloway says:

    When Trump is impeached for bribery, treason and stealing the election for Russia, his presidency should be treated as a crime  committed to benefit a hostile foreign power, not a legitimate presidency, and all his appointees should be declared illegitimate.  If Republicans refuse to do this, prosecute them as accomplices to those crimes because we have no way of knowing which of Trump’s actions were/are dictated by the Kremlin to weaken our economy, political and legal systems.  They may all be crimes and the Republican party, by acting in its own interests (confirming judicial nominees they knew to be unqualified, for example) instead of those of the United States, is complicit.  Yes, there’s no legal or constitutional mechanism to accomplish this because nobody envisioned a man as corrupt and amoral as Donald Trump being able to steal the presidency.  But here he is and here we are.

  6. Rugger9 says:

    A few useful observations:

    1. Recall last week when Gary Cohn asked the focus group CEOs how many supported this bill , and almost no hands went up. Combine that with the fact, demonstrated repeatedly through the Panama / Paradise papers as well as the example of Kansas that those corporate tax cuts will not be invested back into jobs, but secreted away or used for share buy-back schemes to boost the stock price. Basically this is greenmail, and every GOP rep should go down, whether they voted for the bill or not since they still voted for LyinRyan and McTurtle to cram this stuff through. Murkowski’s defection away from rational thought has something to do with the fact she is not up for re-election until 2022, but she has also never won a majority in her Senate elections. The bottom line is that the GOP must be made to pay for these votes, so get on the rolls now if you aren’t already on them, and make sure the Voter Suppression Commission doesn’t find a way to cheat you out of your vote either, with the BS Crosscheck system they will run.

    2. Our noble Earl has covered this well to which I say: hear, hear.

    3. Unfortunately there is no requirement to be a lawyer for a federal judge that I am aware of in the Constitution (I’m sure there is something in the US Code, however) or to have argued a set number of cases. Recall how Shrub nominated Harriet Miers to SCOTUS and even the GOP (then) shot it down. The conflict of interest for Talley (his wife works in the WH and this is for a seat which will probably have some cases tied to the Kaiser come before it) in fact may be a violation of the law if Talley doesn’t recuse himself on those topics. Would a GOP judge do that? We have at least one example from Wisconsin during the fight over its supreme court and the John Doe investigation, where the GOP judges ruled to spike the investigation and destroy the evidence even though they were under that investigation themselves. The GOP runs the state, so of course nothing will be done about that flagrant conflict of interest.

    Finally, since we are in the new Gilded Age amorality is not the sin it used to be if you have money to buy friends. The good news about a democracy (while it functions) is that bad rulers do less damage while in power.

  7. SpaceLifeForm says:

    There is a connection going on. HUGE DOTS.

    The attack on Network Neutrality and the push on 702 to be permanent.

    Both pushes are for retrocover for the telcos and IC illegally spying.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      http://www.denverpost.com/2014/03/27/former-qwest-ceo-nacchio-claims-on-tv-his-jail-time-was-nsa-payback/

      Nacchio alleges that he “did not do insider trading,” but instead was targeted by the NSA for refusing to participate in something — which he is not allowed to disclose — that he felt was illegal.

      “I can’t say what they asked us to do. I can only tell you that what they asked us to do was something I believed was not legal,” he said Thursday. [2014-03-27]

      [It’s called 4th Amendment violation]

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Nacchio

      He was convicted of 19 counts of insider trading in Qwest stock on April 19, 2007[1] – charges his defense team claimed were U.S. government retaliation for his refusal to give customer data to the National Security Agency in February, 2001

      [See how long the fascists have been operating? Before the World Trade Center attacks]

  8. Rayne says:

    Hey all — I think we are all on the same page. Could you make the calls and let us know what kinds of responses you get from your MOCs? Are the Democratic members firmly in sync against the tax bill, against the FCC’s plan, and ready to vote No on Talley?

    Are the GOP MOCs leaning at all, especially if you’re repped by Sen. Johnson, Collins, Murkowski, Corker?

    Drop a note here in comments after the calls. Thanks!

  9. earlofhuntingdon says:

    In reflecting on Roy Moore – and the others that time and oppo research are now forcing out – and the GOP meme that, “It was such a long time ago, why does it matter now?” (except when it affects a Democrat), one response is to compare it with drunk driving.

    In the 1970s, drunk driving was largely a minor inconvenience, a rite of passage for a teen, a jolly joke with regard to career drinkers like Ol’ Joe stumbling down the street or driving on the wrong side of the road. Like spousal abuse, drunk driving was mostly ignored or met with a “What can ya do about it?” shrug of the shoulders.

    Sure, there were exceptions, largely when teens died in a car crash. But by and large, it was not acted on except in the most egregious, repetitive cases.

    So, too, was sexual predation ignored, or met with a “It couldn’t happen here” response, or none at all because it was too large and emotional a problem for society to wrestle with. (Ignoring active campaigns to suppress the ugly truth, whether it involved Anita Hill or the Vatican.) A long list of problems were responded to that way:civil rights, equal pay for equal work, and spousal abuse.

    Thankfully, times have changed, millions suffered by the wait and still do. So when Donald Trump repeats the meme he’s been given that, “It was such a long time ago…,” he should be met with blank stares and be asked why he’s such a retard to say that.

  10. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Another topic we should consider is health care. The US has by far the most expensive system on the planet, with average outcomes that rank last among developed states. A similar story could be told about Internet access, typical speeds, and pricing.

    We are not getting what we pay for. We are not getting what we deserve. Just Say No would be a start, but not be a sufficient program to reverse this predicament.

    So how about that David Cassidy?

  11. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Donald Trump is deeply racist. He so hates himself that he is driven to humiliate others, publicly, cruelly. He is so in need of constant reaffirmation that enough can never be enough; it drives him to debase others, publicly, cruelly. His money lets him get away with it.

    Today it is wayward basketball players, who committed a minor crime, were excused for it, came home and apologized. Those events would likely have taken place with or without Trump’s modest intervention. But he acts as if he saved the world from the consequences of his own behavior.

    Today, Trump vents against an uppity African American father who feels no need to kowtow to the master in the White House. What it will be tomorrow depends on what humiliations of his own making press Trump to act out to distract attention from them.

    Mr. Trump might as well sit on his front porch, park his garage full of vintage Torinos on his lawn, and wait for some passerby to diss his rides. Then he’ll show them who’s boss.

  12. earlofhuntingdon says:

    LaVar Ball and his children are living the American dream, the one that’s permanently passing by so many millions of others.  And he has the misfortune, in Trump’s eyes, of being African American.  That would explain, in part, Trump’s obsession with dissing him for his “ingratitude” to Trump – as if Trump and his peers had done anything for Ball and his children except make it harder for them and millions more to succeed.

    It would explain why Trump’s supporters, a great many of whom have been left by the wayside, find Trump’s tweets so satisfying, even as it requires their pixie dusting away that it was Trump and his peers who left them there.

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