Category Archives: Musings

Bizarre Anti-Tax Cut Virtue Signaling in Cosmopolitan

The United States has one of the highest corporate income tax rates in the world. Or had, anyway. Given a penchant for wanting the U.S. to be more like Europe, and the average corporate tax rate in Europe is 18.35 percent, I thought there would be more celebrating when Congress lowered it from 35 to 21 percent. The bill also cut the top personal income tax rate by 2.6 percent.

Imagine my surprise when my social and moral superiors fell into hysterical fits about getting to keep more of their own money, even calling it “immoral”! Cosmopolitan Magazine, where I go to get all my fashion tips and information about U.S. fiscal policy, published an article titled, “4 Reasons You Should Be Disgusted by the GOP’s Immoral Tax Plan.”

Why should I be disgusted? I asked myself. According to the article,

  • It’s a Big Tax Cut for the Rich and Corporations
  • It’s a Small, Temporary Tax Cut for Everyday Americans
  • It Repeals the Obamacare Mandate
  • It Blows Up the Deficit and Will Crush the Poor, Disabled, and the Elderly

The first two reasons are essentially just an opinion that wealthy people and businesses shouldn’t be allowed to make more than a certain amount of money, and saying that the wealthy will benefit more than lower-income Americans isn’t an argument. By the way, nearly half of all Americans don’t pay Federal income tax. The richest 20 percent pay nearly 87 percent of all federal income tax. So yeah, lowering federal income tax rates will benefit the wealthy. So what?

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Let’s be Insta-Friends on Instagram

Since I escaped the toxic swamps of Facebook and Twitter, I’ve been thinking of new ways to share projects and adventures. I always thought Instagram was a place for girls to post selfies flashing peace signs but it’s actually kinda fun. You’re just there to share pictures and video, so it seems innocuous enough. Let’s be Insta friends: www.instagram.com/ma_kleen/

Another Dishonest Headline from the Washington Post

Since I’ve disengaged with politics, I didn’t realize how many people were freaking out over the biggest tax overhaul in decades. If the Senate and House bills can be reconciled, it’ll mean the Federal corporate tax rate will lower from 35 to 20 percent. That’s huge, and the U.S. will be much more attractive to businesses.

It’s good for the stock market too. According to the Chicago Tribune, “Many companies plan to bring cash home from abroad and give a lot of that money to investors in the form of higher dividends and stock buybacks (which increase stock prices).”

Others have criticized the overhaul for potentially raising the national deficit and repealing the individual mandate requiring people to buy health insurance or face financial penalties. You’d think it heralds the apocalypse according to celebrities on Twitter.

So the Washington Post couldn’t help itself when President Trump seemed to equivocate on the final tax rate. According to a recent headline, “Hours after Senate GOP passes tax bill, Trump says he’ll consider raising corporate rate.”

There’s only one problem with this headline: Congress holds the purse strings. The President can’t do anything about taxes except sign or veto legislation Congress puts in front of him. This is Civics 101.

But that’s not even what happened. The entire article is based on an offhanded comment to reporters in which President Trump said, “Business tax all the way down from 35 to 20… It could be 22 when it all comes out, but it could also be 20. We’ll see what ultimately comes out.”

The President is clearly saying, “it could be 22 or 20… we’ll see what happens.” Meaning, stop freaking out about a bill that hasn’t even reached my desk yet. We don’t know what the final tax rate in the compromise bill will be. The sky could be cloudy tomorrow, or it could rain. Anything can happen.

The Washington Post interpreted this as, “Trump told reporters that the corporate tax rate in the GOP plan might end up rising to 22 percent from 20 percent,” which “could complicate sensitive negotiations to pass a final bill.” As though the President’s speculation has anything at all to do with what ends up on his desk! Sorry, our government doesn’t work that way.

You probably think this is a minor point, but the word “might” has intentionality behind it. It’s a prediction. Saying it might rain is different from saying it could rain. That turns into “Trump says he’ll consider raising corporate rate.”

Trump has no power to raise the corporate tax rate, nor did he say he’ll consider it. The Washington Post knows this, but decided to mislead its readers anyway.

My High School Years in Film: 1996

I thought it would be fun to do an overview of movies that came out while I was in high school. The first video covers August to December 1996, when I entered high school as a freshman at Maine West in Des Plaines, Illinois. Yeah, it’s blatant nostalgia, even though the ’90s was a lousy decade to be a teenager. What were your favorite films from the late ’90s?

Social Media Policy Crosses the Line in Case of Woman Who Gave Trump the Bird

You’ve probably heard this disturbing story of Juli Briskman, who was fired after a photo of her giving President Trump’s motorcade the middle finger went viral. Her employer, a government contractor called Akima, LLC, justified terminating her employment on the grounds that she violated their “social media policy” by using the photo as her profile picture on Twitter and Facebook.

“Basically, you cannot have ‘lewd’ or ‘obscene’ things in your social media. So they were calling flipping him off ‘obscene,’” Briskman said. What a cheap excuse!

While it’s true Akima is a government contractor, and Briskman was clearly making a political statement, she did it on her own time, and posted the photo on her personal social media accounts. If this isn’t considered a direct attack on her freedom of expression, I don’t know what is.

In June, I argued that it was wrong for National Park Service employees to express their displeasure with the Trump administration because they were doing so on official government accounts.

It is inappropriate for Federal employees to engage in politics while at work, using government equipment, and in their official capacities, but I have no problem with them doing so on their own time, on their own social media accounts.

Likewise, if Briskman had been driving in a company vehicle, and the photo clearly showed Akima branding, I could see where they might have a case for reprimanding her, since it makes the company look bad. But not only was she riding her bicycle on her own time, you can’t even identify her in the photo.

There ought to be a separation between a person’s employment and his or her private life, and you shouldn’t have to fear reprisals at work for political opinions you express in your free time. Apparently Virginia is a state where an employer can fire an employee anytime, for any reason, but I still think this is ridiculous enough to open them up to a lawsuit.

Jenna Abrams Exposes American Media’s Stupidity

“Jenna Abrams had a lot of enemies on Twitter, but she was a very good friend to viral content writers across the world,” begins a Daily Beast exposé on a Twitter user that turned out to be the creation of the Russian-controlled Internet Research Agency. The article is meant to alarm readers about Russian influence in mass media, but in fact just shows how dumb the American media really is.

According to the Daily Beast, Jenna Abrams “at one point boasted nearly 70,000 Twitter followers.” Despite an “audience” amounting to 0.0002 percent of the U.S. population, her tweets ended up being quoted in articles published by a wide variety of news organizations and websites, including USA Today, The Washington Post, HuffPost, The Daily Caller, The Telegraph, CNN, and even the New York Times.

Why? I’ve talked about the tendency of lazy journalists to use Twitter as fodder to churn out articles and drum up fake controversy before. It’s easy to find a handful of tweets and quote them in an article, creating a perception of disagreement or consensus on an issue. The fake Jenna Abrams account gave them exactly what they wanted.

So who’s really to blame for getting trolled by the Russians? For an industry that supposedly prides itself on checking its sources and being the gatekeepers of factual information, they sure didn’t do a good job verifying to whom they were giving a wide platform.

Now media outlets are covering their asses by pretending Jenna Abrams and other fake accounts were “popular” and “influential” during the previous presidential election. A few thousand Twitter followers, many of whom were also probably fake, on a national scale is less than statistically insignificant.

Anyone can create a Twitter account, pretend to be whoever they want and say whatever they want. It’s ridiculous how much the news media cares about what anyone says on Twitter, or any social media for that matter, but that’s why the media’s credibility is at all-time lows.

Is Hollywood Imploding?

The idea that Hollywood is a place where dirty old men lure young women (and sometimes boys) with promises of stardom has been around pretty much from its inception. It’s an open secret some call the “casting couch culture.” Harry Cohn, co-founder and president of Columbia Pictures until 1958, was rumored to have a private room next to his office for dalliances, and accusations against Harvey Weinstein go back decades.

Who, then, is surprised by rampant libertinism and degeneracy in the entertainment industry? It’s been on the cover of every tabloid magazine since the beginning of print media. So why have all these accusations of sexual improprieties suddenly bubbled to the surface, and does it have anything to do with declining ticket sales?

Forbes recently ran an article citing 2017’s summer movie season as the lowest grossing summer for the movie business in 25 years. While it mentioned fallout from the Harvey Weinstein scandal, it mainly blamed the rising cost of theater attendance and a generational preference for watching movies on mobile devices.

It’s true ticket and concession prices have become grossly over inflated, but these explanations hardly scratch the surface. Young people aren’t going to the theater because they’d rather watch movies on a phone? Ridiculous. I think it has much more to do with the poor quality of films coming out of Hollywood. Netflix has experienced tremendous growth partly because their original movies and series are compelling, funny, clever, and creative.

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Media Bias in JFK Doc Dump

I’ve been avoiding politics and enjoying the beautiful autumn weather, but I came across the following articles today and this blog post fell into my lap. This is another illustration of why I’m thoroughly disgusted with the news media, especially since this past election.

There are no perfect people or perfect presidents, and politicians are often the worst people you’ll ever meet. However, there’s no denying the national news media has taken off the gloves when it comes to President Trump, often completely fabricating controversies in order to paint him in a negative light.

Case in point: these “news” articles about the release of thousands of classified documents related to President John F. Kennedy’s assassination held by the National Archives and Records Administration. Look at these headlines:

They make it sound like Trump personally decided to release the files over the objections of national security officials. The Washington Post explicitly says so: “President Trump announced Saturday morning that he planned to release the tens of thousands of never-before-seen documents.”

The implication being that “unpredictable Trump” is once again putting national security at risk.

Completely disingenuous. The Washington Post admits, “The 1992 Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act required that the millions of pages, many of them contained in CIA and FBI documents, be published in 25 years — by Thursday. Over the years, the National Archives has released most of the documents, either in full or partially redacted.”

So not only was the date of their release set 25 years ago (all classified documents have a declassification date), but most of them have already been released. Where’s the story? The Washington Post wants you to believe the documents fuel conspiracy theories. And how would releasing the information, rather than keeping it secret, fuel conspiracy theories?

(“Conspiracy theorists were rejoicing” according to Slate)

It doesn’t really matter. All they care about is using the issue to once again bring up how President Trump has mused over conspiracy theories and associated with conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones.

Here’s a far more accurate headline from the Washington Times: “Trump says he won’t block scheduled release of secret JFK assassination files.” This is actually an informative article explaining what is happening and why, without the toxic spin.

So rather than take the opportunity to educate the public about the documents and their possible impact on what we know about JFK’s assassination, the usual suspects use it as just another opportunity to smear the president. My eyes can’t roll any harder.