2017 Politics open thread, June 18-24

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96 thoughts on “2017 Politics open thread, June 18-24

  1. what do you think about the situation in VA, where the Muslim girl was killed? Evidently, she was in a group of Muslim kids outside a mosque, all wearin abayas, and a car pulled up and started threatening them. The kids all ran into the mosque, but she tripped and fell. They found her remains – she had been bludgeoned with a metal pipe. The police are saying it is not a hate crime, but her parents say that it is.

    The daughter of one of my friends was an acquaintance of the girl which is how I first heard. But it is in WaPo todya

  2. In DC at the moment and this was on the front page of the Metro section. A terrible tragedy, regardless of the motive of the perpetrator.

  3. Which according to the Post may have been road rage aimed at teenagers who were walking in the street. The police are no longer investigating it as a hate crime.

  4. Yes, I know the police are not investigating it that way. But evidently the parents don’t believe it. And a group of kids, mainly wearing traditional Muslim dress? Who knows what ran through his mind? And just to make conservatives salivate too, the guy was from Ecuador, and may be illegal.

  5. And it is hard for me to imagine road rage that involves beating a 16 year old girl to death with a metal bar.

  6. It is hard to imagine anyone beating a girl to death. For any reason. The grieving parents may be grasping at the hate crime as an explanation of the unthinkable.

  7. And on another note, Otto Warmbier died. I can’t stop thinking about him. Not too much older than my oldest. We can say, he never should have gone there, but kids that age are foolhardy, and are legally adults so parents can’t stop them

  8. Otto went to North Korea as part of a tour group. We have no idea whether he actually took the stupid sign. I can’t stop thinking about him either and wonder if later generations will ask us why we did nothing to stop the horrors inflicted by the North Korean regime. We certainly know much more about the camps and famines than we did about the Holocaust in 1943 but what can be done?

  9. Scarlett, one of the guys in my small group at church is a drone consultant. I wonder what would happen if we flooded the North Korean prison camps with numerous tiny drones that broadcast their images to the internet, at a cost low enough that we could keep sending the cheap tiny drones as the North Koreans found/destroyed them.

    I think China and Japan don’t care about the situation in North Korea.

  10. The problem is that no one wants to start a very destructive war over North Korea. We have seen in Iraq the damage that can be done by heedlessly charging in. North Korea would bomb the hell out of South Korea and possibly Japan, causing massive casualties. And itis very hard to say what China would do. China does not want a unified Korea, and they also do not want hordes of Korean refugees pouring over their border.

  11. I wonder what would happen if we flooded the North Korean prison camps with numerous tiny drones that broadcast their images to the internet, at a cost low enough that we could keep sending the cheap tiny drones as the North Koreans found/destroyed them.

    How you gonna get them there in the first place? You can’t fly a tiny drone from San Diego to North Korea. They’d have to be in a bigger plane, and then that would get shot down.

  12. Dragonfly size camera drones could take off from a fishing boat and use solar power to charge their batteries.

  13. Dragonfly size camera drones could take off from a fishing boat and use solar power to charge their batteries.

    Hm. Okay.

  14. North Korean prison camps with numerous tiny drones that broadcast their images to the internet

    Everyone knows what’s going on already. It’s just that no one cares enough to do anything about it.

    As for China – why would they care if Korea is unified? A unified and prosperous Korea is in everyone’s best interests.

  15. I think China and Japan are worried about how Korea would transition to “unified and prosperous” and would would happen to their own countries during such a transition.

    It’s certainly possible that a flood of images from prison camps would have no effect, but war photography has been effective in other historical situations. If nothing else, it might result in North Korea feeding its prisoners better.

  16. Rhett said “As for China – why would they care if Korea is unified? A unified and prosperous Korea is in everyone’s best interests.”

    Becasue they do. A lot. A US aligned unified Korea would be a serious threat to them.

  17. A US aligned unified Korea would be a serious threat to them.

    What possible threat could we or a unified Korea pose?

  18. The fact that there are tens of thousands of US soldiers stationed there? China has depended on the fact that since WWII, there are no significant military forces on any of its borders.

  19. Even if a post-Kim transition was fairly orderly, it would very likely lead to a united, U.S.-allied Korea bordering China: also a very unwelcome prospect for Beijing.

    It doesn’t say why it’s unwelcome. What senarios are they envisioning? There may be some, I just can’t imagine what they are.

  20. There are groups that smuggle USB drives and other materials into North Korea, sometimes using balloons. http://www.flashdrivesforfreedom.org/
    But not sure that “everyone knows” what is going on there. I think that many people in this country are clueless about the prison camps.

  21. Rhett, how would we feel about tens of thousands of Chinese troops stationed in northern Mexico?

  22. Rhett, how would we feel about tens of thousands of Chinese troops stationed in northern Mexico?

    Walk me through the senario where it becomes a problem. Admittedly, if I was Lord Halifax or Molotov c. 1935 I’d be all, “It’s not like he’s bent on world domination on anything.”

  23. Mooshi, I liked the article you posted on North Korea. One of the things that Chinese acquaintances have helped me understand is that the political leaders in China are practical engineers and political realists. I read an interview with a Chinese leader a few years ago who said the problem that kept him up at night was how to avoid the demographic problem of millions of unemployed single men.

  24. “who said the problem that kept him up at night was how to avoid the demographic problem of millions of unemployed single men”

    War would take care of that, or at least a very large military. (No idea if Chinese women join the military.)

  25. This article on Elizabeth Warren made me want to learn more about her. I share her concerns about big business and its coziness with government regulation.
    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/07/whats-wrong-with-the-democrats/528696/

    In contrast, one of the main reasons I didn’t support Clinton was her lack of interest/discussion regarding the funding/practicality of the new social goals (which I consider unfunded government mandates, such as universal childcare and college for all) that she espoused.

  26. Perhaps Trump can get China to have those tens of thousands of troops to keep out illegal immigrants.

  27. I just want to say that Ossoff’s defeat has left me again in despair that no moderates will be able to prevail in American politics. He was young, for sure, but he was so very, very moderate for a Democrat. Refused to align himself at all with the Bernie-progressives, focused on wanting to work across the aisle, talked a lot about economic growth within Georgia, which is generally winning talk. And he still lost.

    I don’t get it, I really don’t.

  28. Lark – I am not surprised he lost given the demographics and voting history of the area. It would have been really remarkable if he had won and he made an impressive showing.

  29. I think the Democratic party has to understand that there are large constituencies and regions that simply will.not.vote for a Democrat. The reasons can be religion, diversity focus, anti-elitism, whatever. Just as the Republicans know that there are constituencies and regions that will never vote for them. The only solution is David Brooks idea of a new (truly centrist) suburban and middle class party, preferably one with non interventionist/libertarian attitudes on social issues as well as on some economic issues. We should have one or more nativist or religious parties on the right and a true progressive party on the left.

  30. Bernie’s guy in Montana lost too. I do think it is tribalism. I would like to think though, that if the Dempcrats ever elected someone as incompetent, dishonest, uneducated, disrespectful, and corrupt as Trump, I would be leaving the Democratic party. I realize there has been plenty of corruption in the Democratic party as well as the Republican party, but I have never seen a president before of either party who combines constant lies with disrespect for everyone and total lack of interest in actually learning how to do his job. I just cannot imagine voting for someone liek that even if he or she promised me single payer healthcare

  31. Meme, your vision of a Bloombergian, technocratic moderate party will never win because of gerrymandering and the Electorial College, which favors rural voters. We can’t have the system you are talking about without a true popular vote mechanism

  32. So Republicans who are appalled at Trump leave the Republican party. Where will they go? In a two-party system, they’re kind of stuck, especially if they are pro-life.

  33. I think a moderate party that listens to rural voters could work. Part of the problem is that on issues most important to rural voters (managing forest fires and water rights, for example), rural voters lack the numbers to get realistic solutions legislated. By informing urban voters why including traditional mouse traps in the live animal trap ban (to cite a recent Oregon example) is foolish, rural and urban voters might come together a bit. I believe urban voters could be convinced to support sensible forest fire management and water rights.

    I would probably support any party that seemed to care about the laws of economics. Right now, we can’t support current social programs with current taxes, so we need to increase taxes and not add social programs. Before Trump was elected, I listened to the progressive conversation on this blog, and usually thought, “You have no idea how many messed up poor people there are, compared to wealthy urban liberals to pay the taxes.” Now that Trump is elected, I think the numbers are hitting home.

  34. I’ve heard a lot of people were bugged by the fact that Ossoff doesn’t even live in that district.

  35. WCE, at the state level, I think the concerns of rural voters do get overlooked, especially in a state like NY. But at the national level, because of the Senate system and the Electoral College, rural voters have way more power than urban voters. Back under Obama, when the ACA was being negotiated, I was appalled at the backflips that had to be done to appease senators from rural states who represent something like 3 people.

  36. Atlanta Mom, do you live in the contested district? Do you think the out of district thing was a problem?

  37. And WCE, if we elected something on the Democrat side like Trump, I would just have to be partyless. Or perhaps remain registered Democrat but vote elsewhere. I actually did vote Repulican once – against Joe Lieberman who I really disliked

  38. MM – No I don’t live in that district but right next to it. I’ve seen quite a few comments about Ossoff not actually living in the district but I think there was also a feeling that even though he ran on a moderate platform, he would align with Pelosi. I don’t think the celebrity endorsements worked in his favor and Democrats saying that he lost because he wasn’t liberal enough are completely wrong.

  39. Its reach is broad: About half of all births in the country are covered by Medicaid, and nearly 40 percent of children are covered through the program. Medicaid covers the long-term care costs of two-thirds of Americans living in nursing homes, many of them middle-class Americans who spent all of their savings on care before becoming eligible

    They want to cut it by $800 billion. What do republicans plan to do when all the boomers start needing nursing home care?

  40. I thought, “You have no idea how many messed up poor people there are, compared to wealthy urban liberals to pay the taxes.

    We, the rich, have never done so well. Why shouldn’t we pay more?

  41. “Over the next 30 to 40 years, $30 trillion in financial and non-financial assets is expected to pass from the baby boomers — the wealthiest and one-time largest generation in U.S. history — to their heirs.” http://www.cnbc.com/2017/02/16/promises-problems-on-horizon-as-30t-wealth-transfer-looms.html

    Presumably, these folks will not need to rely on Medicaid, and perhaps their heirs can pick up the tab for the less fortunate in their parents’ age cohort.

  42. I don’t understand why their should be any inheritance tax (or gift tax for that matter). The money was taxed when it was earned, why should it be taxed again just because it is transferring hands?

  43. I don’t understand why their should be any inheritance tax (or gift tax for that matter). The money was taxed when it was earned, why should it be taxed again just because it is transferring hands?

    By that logic your paycheck should be tax free.

  44. Denver,

    Say you invested $1000 in Amazon 20 years ago. It’s now worth $639,00. You die and your kids inherit. When was the $648,000 gain taxed?

  45. If you only wanted to taxes the gains and exempt the basis I guess that would be OK as part of some sort of compromise.

  46. And although Medicaid does pay about 70% of nursing home expenses, most people over 65 never end up in a nursing home. Only about 5% of current seniors are living in nursing homes now. It’s not an inevitable destiny.

  47. 40%: The percentage of individuals who reach age 65 who will enter a nursing home during their lifetimes

  48. Rhett, does the 40 percent mean they are in the Nursing home for the rest of their lives? My understanding is Medicare will pay up to 100 days and Medicaid kicks in after other avenues of payment are exhausted/ or protected by good financial planning. Thus I think both your number if not long-term stays and Scarlett’s make sense.

  49. This is an interesting article, especially since a good number of our totebaggers identify as socially liberal and economically conservative: You are a rare species, evidently, mainly seen in elite power centers.

    “Finally: After looking at the smear of red across the top two quadrants and the fist of blue in the lower left, stare a while at the chart’s lower right-hand quadrant, home of social liberals and fiscal conservatives. It’s astonishingly empty: The ideological groups that occupy this space — consistent libertarians, globalist Democrats, socially liberal deficit hawks, pro-choice and pro-immigration supply-siders — are vanishingly rare within the American electorate.”

  50. UtL,

    I’m not sure. Maybe Denver Dad would know? Is there a difference between the rehab type care that Medicare pays for and nursing home? My understanding is Medicare won’t pay for 100 days just because your dementia hit a tipping point, you have to have a hospital admission first. But I’m not at all familiar with the process.

  51. Another stat from the NPR article on Medicaid longterm care expenses

    “About 1.4 million people are in nursing homes nationwide, and about 62 percent of those beds are paid for by Medicaid.”

  52. consistent libertarians, globalist Democrats, socially liberal deficit hawks, pro-choice and pro-immigration supply-siders

    People who (unlike Trump’s base) don’t feel threatened by anything. They have stable marriages, good careers, long term care insurance, above average children, etc,

  53. The usual Medicare coverage for skilled nursing facilities, often referred to as nursing homes or rehabilitation hospitals (not to be confused with substance abuse rehab) is only for rehabilitative care. In other words, even if you are in the hospital for three days for a chronic condition or some dizziness or palpitations or pneumonia, that does not convert your underlying condition to one that is covered by Medicare. And if you have a knee replacement, or are recovering from a fall or stroke, the stay is usually only a couple of weeks. As soon as you are stable and the rehabilitative program can be moved to home based, only the services are covered, not the person who has to fix your meals or help you to the toilet. There has been some movement toward trying to get Medicare to cover care for Parkinson’s patients and other “no fault of theirs” infirm people who will not get better. It is very difficult for doctors and hospitals to game the system on behalf of their patients. Living in a walk up or being alone are not sufficient reasons. The Medicare fraud/audit guys have guidelines and anything non standard is flagged.

    And most decent nursing homes require at least six months of full pay before they will let you exhaust your assets and convert to Medicaid. And if you have a house and protected assets, where there is a spouse living there, once the patient and spouse die, the state (not the fed govt) will force a sale and recoup its costs. In some states there is a narrow ownership protection for a dutiful child who has lived in that house and cared for the parents, but you need very good facts to keep the house and said dutiful child may not have the funds to maintain it if he/she hasn’t worked in years.

  54. Dementia is not something you get better from. So no care is rehabilitative. Only custodial.

  55. I believe that the 40% figure refers to any senior who enters a skilled nursing facility either for a short term rehab stint or as the last stop before death. Many people go to a SNF after surgery or other medical event. The figure of 70% of seniors who will need long term care includes all those who need measurable assistance from another person, but the data are very soft – we all know that a couple or two sibs or friends who live together can muddle along for a long time, and elders who live with younger family may not even be on the radar, and some folks who have housekeepers and drivers and cooks are more able than those who manage on their own.

  56. And the Medicaid figures include many of the institutionalized non elderly disabled.

  57. Meme, is totally correct. Medicare only pays for skilled rehab stays, not long-term care.

  58. Say you invested $1000 in Amazon 20 years ago. It’s now worth $639,00. You die and your kids inherit. When was the $648,000 gain taxed?

    When is it taxed if you don’t die? When the stock is sold. Why should it be any different if you die? It should pass to the kids, and then when they sell it, they pay the capital gains tax. Why should they have to pay taxes before any gains are actually realized?

  59. By that logic your paycheck should be tax free.

    How do you make that leap? My logic is income should be taxed once, whether it’s salary, capital gains, interest, whatever. Then I should be able to transfer that money without anyone having to pay taxes on it again, because it has already been taxed.

  60. DD – you get a stepped up basis of fmv at time of death when you inherit stock. It is kind of crazy.

  61. When is it taxed if you don’t die?

    Everyone dies.

    From a practical perspective you mentioned gift taxes. With those you have the Steve Jobs problem. One year Steve asked the board for a G550 ($60 million dollar plane) and a salary of a dollar. He of course paid income taxes on the $60 million value of the plane. By your logic that gift wouldn’t be taxed. Apple already paid taxes on its profits so why should Steve have to pay taxes on it again?

  62. DD – you get a stepped up basis of fmv at time of death when you inherit stock. It is kind of crazy.

    Unless it was in the B trust, and then you don’t pay inheritance tax but you do pay cap gains when you sell.

  63. Then I should be able to transfer that money without anyone having to pay taxes on it again, because it has already been taxed.

    So plumbers, electricians etc. wouldn’t have to pay income taxes on the money you transferred to them? You already paid taxes on it why should the plumber have to pay taxes on it again?

  64. WCE,

    How do you feel about it from a free speech angle? I’m not sure how I feel about it. If she made comments like that at work that’s one thing. But ill mannered restaurant reviews on her own time?

  65. You’re not legally entitled to a job at Yale. If you do something publicly embarrassing and distasteful (and it was public; the students found the comments), Yale is free to let you go.

  66. Thanks DD and Meme, I was thinking the 40 percent was really high and trying to figure out what they were counting as “nursing home”.

    My current company has policies that you can be terminated for what you post on social media so that does not surprise me and each year that you sign your reviews etc, you agree to the polices of the company. Free speech protects you from persecution from the government not your employer firing you.

  67. Rhett, I assume Yale is an at-will employer and she wasn’t part of a union so legally there is probably no issue. If she were a union member, Yale might have no basis to dismiss her based on her comments.

    I dislike the trend of holding people accountable for actions that have nothing to do with their employment. In my personal, conservative life, where some people like to complain about gay people and people with multiple partners, I’ve argued that your personal sexual habits have no bearing on your ability to do a job, unless that job is teaching at a Catholic high school. Arguably, being a residential dean at Yale is like teaching at a Catholic high school, where your character and private choices are relevant to being qualified for your job.

    The big question is, “Why does someone so well-trained in diversity think it’s OK to be so unkind? It always seemed like a goal of diversity courses, whether I agree with it or not, is to become empathetic to another person’s perspective, not merely to learn bald facts about discrimination.

    My personality is to sometimes be thoughtless but not deliberately unkind.

  68. “When is it taxed if you don’t die? When the stock is sold. Why should it be any different if you die? It should pass to the kids, and then when they sell it, they pay the capital gains tax. Why should they have to pay taxes before any gains are actually realized?”

    Yes, there are two significant tax consequences associated with death, the inheritance tax, and the step-up of cost basis.

    Because of exemptions, the inheritance tax mainly hits the higher end of the wealth distribution. Many who are not at that level benefit from basis step-up, e.g., inherited homes.

    Looked at together, I would guess the tax consequences of death are progressive. I’d also guess that if they were simultaneously both eliminated, the overall impact to tax collections would be to increase taxes collected.

  69. “Apple already paid taxes on its profits so why should Steve have to pay taxes on it again?”

    I would think that Steve’s remuneration would be an expense to Apple, and thus Apple did not pay income tax on it.

  70. “I’ve argued that your personal sexual habits have no bearing on your ability to do a job, unless that job is teaching at a Catholic high school. Arguably, being a residential dean at Yale is like teaching at a Catholic high school, where your character and private choices are relevant to being qualified for your job.”

    How would one’s personal sexual habits affect one’s ability or qualifications to teach math, whether at a Catholic HS or any other school?

  71. The Catholic and Christian schools on t kids attended required that teachers buy into the mission, and for that reason would not hire anyone who openly defied Church teachings. But to the best of my knowledge it’s really not an issue because applicants tend to self-select.
    At many religious schools, the faith permeates all parts of the life of the school, and all teachers and staff are expected to be walking the walk.

  72. I am at a Catholic university, and have two transgender and one openly lesbian colleagues here. There are probably more – these are people I know personally. It is not a problem for my university.

  73. It is not a problem for my university.

    Standards are different for colleges. Many families would tolerate gay or transgender professors, but wouldn’t tolerate gay or transgender elementary or secondary school teachers.

  74. There is a federal “estate tax” (not inheritance). States may also have either inheritance or estate tax, depending on the states – many of them have done away with the estate tax after the federal exemption went up so high. MA still has an estate tax that kicks in over $1M per person. If the federal estate tax goes away, the common argument is to pair it with carryover basis – they did this in 2010 but with “modified carryover basis”: https://www.thebalance.com/what-is-the-modified-carryover-basis-regime-3505675
    If you get rid of the estate tax and don’t adopt carryover basis, you will see people just holding onto property during their lives and not gifting down to the next generation.

  75. MM,
    Some Catholic colleges would not hire an openly gay or transgender person. Nor, for that matter, would schools like BYU or certain Christian colleges. It all depends upon how the college sees it mission.

  76. Yeah, I know that evangelical and Mormon colleges would not be cool with it. But I haven’t seen a Catholic university that would have trouble. Most seem very liberal. Maybe a Dominican school like Providence College? I interviewed for a job there many years ago, and thought it seemed more conservative than the other Catholic schools I had visited.

  77. Wait, how the hell did URI get on this list??? I know gay people there. It is a welcoming place. And Boston College???

  78. And I don’t see Liberty University or Calvin College on this list, which are schools I would not want to be LGBT at.

  79. “If you get rid of the estate tax and don’t adopt carryover basis, you will see people just holding onto property during their lives and not gifting down to the next generation.”

    Yes, many people gift things while they are alive to avoid the estate tax. But I don’t see that practice stopping as necessarily a bad thing. What would be the downsides?

    I suppose it might make it easier for the grandkids to qualify for need-based financial aid.

  80. A friend (married with child) was told by Northwest University (not Northwestern) that they could not continue her employment because she’s Catholic (i.e. not evangelical enough).

  81. Finn – It is a struggle for most people to give away assets in their lifetime, but I think it is a better idea for kids and descendants to get used to the idea of having money during the parents’ lifetime than having everything withheld, then everything passing at death and being subject to dead-hand control (even if the trust has discretionary provisions).

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