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Billionaire Howard Schultz, who accumulated billions of dollars during his time as the CEO of Starbucks, attended a Q&A last month with CNBC host Andrew Ross Sorkin, who—unlike billionaire Howard Schultz—does not have a billion dollars, let alone billions of dollars. The conversation between billionaire and non-billionaire took place in front of an in-person audience of almost entirely non-billionaires and an online audience of mostly non-billionaires plus a very small number of billionaires. Although it’s unclear how billionaire Schultz’s appearance played with his billionaire peers (people who, much like the Starbucks billionaire, have net worths of at least a billion dollars), non-billionaires were appalled by the billionaire’s apparently sincere belief that the word “billionaire,” when used to describe people who have more than a billion dollars, is offensive to billionaires like himself. Instead, the billionaire said, billionaires like him would prefer that billionaires be referred to as “people of wealth” or “people of means,” phrases which vaguely suggest that billionaires possess great wealth without referring to the actual mind-numbing figure of one billion dollars


According to billionaire Schultz, billionaire Bloomberg should change the name of his Index


The man who has profited most from the Trump era is his foremost nemesis in the business world, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Bloomberg’s Justin Sink reports.

By the numbers: Bezos has become the world’s richest person, his net worth swelling by $66.8 billion, since President Trump has been in the White House.

Bezos’s wealth was valued at $135.4 billion, making his fortune a third bigger than Bill Gates’s, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.


Interesting discussion about the framing of white supremacy.



He was talking about the United States, which was given “special attention” in the annual report this year. Sure, the country is still a robust democracy by some global standards, but Abramowitz and his colleagues worry about Trump’s attacks on democratic values, the media, and the rule of law will do sustained damage to the country’s vital institutions.

The portion on what is happening in the United States under the Trump presidency is sobering, even for those who have been paying attention.

“No president in living memory has shown less respect for its tenets, norms, and principles. Trump has assailed essential institutions and traditions including the separation of powers, a free press, and independent judiciary, the impartial delivery of justice, safeguards against corruption, and most disturbingly, the legitimacy of elections,” wrote Abramowitz, who authored that chapter in the report.

Over all, 68 countries registered a decline, and among 41 long-standing democracies, more than half have seen a decline in the past five years. Many of those governments, including the United States, continue to use refugees as a fear factor, prompting people to turn to authoritarianism.

“From our perspective a big issue has been the global migration crisis — I think it’s still the largest number of refugees since World War II, and what you find is that that is creating a great deal of anxiety, especially in established democracies…and that is giving an opening for populist movements to gain strength, and in some cases, restrict the rights of immigrants,” said Abramowitz.



On Jan. 25, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton tweeted a “VOTER FRAUD ALERT” that quickly rocketed around the internet. Texas Secretary of State David Whitley, Paxton asserted, had discovered that approximately “95,000 individuals identified” as non-citizens are registered to vote in the state, “58,000 of whom have voted” in Texas elections. Whitley promptly urged counties to begin purging these 95,000 people from their voter rolls, demanding proof of citizenship within 30 days or canceling their registrations. Donald Trump joined the action, tweeting on Jan. 27 that Whitley’s numbers “are just the tip of iceberg.” Voter fraud, Trump wrote, “is rampant. Must be stopped. Strong voter ID!”

Within days of Paxton’s alarming tweet, Whitley had substantially backtracked. The secretary of state quietly informed county officials that a “significant number” of people on the list are actually citizens. Texas Director of Elections Keith Ingram acknowledged that these were “WEAK matches,” a “starting point” rather than a definitive list. In Harris County alone, about 18,000 names were removed from the initial list of alleged non-citizens. Some county officials, however, had already begun to notify residents on that first list that they had 30 days to prove their citizenship or lose their ability to vote.

The situation in Texas is a mess. But it is a dangerous mess. Paxton, a notorious foe of voting rights, is creating chaos and confusion in order to justify a radical purge of Texas’ voter rolls. As three new lawsuits filed by an array of civil rights groups argue, this purge isn’t just slapdash and sloppy—it’s discriminatory and illegal. Paxton and his allies are taking a page from Kris Kobach’s playbook of shock and awe: Toss out a wildly inflated claim of non-citizen voting, then use the ensuing panic to justify mass disenfranchisement. It is a dirty and duplicitous tactic. And thanks to America’s increasingly conservative judiciary, it might actually succeed.


That’s indicted Texas Attorney General!



Sen. Cory Booker (NJ–D) announced his presidential campaign last week. There’s plenty about Booker’s record worth examining, from his extremely cozy relationship with pharmaceutical companies to his bizarre public defense of Wall Street. But nothing in Booker’s past is as damning as his record on schools.

For close to two decades, Cory Booker has been at the forefront of a nationwide push to dismantle public education.

According to Booker, the education system is the main cause of our society’s fundamental problems, rather than, say, inequality and unchecked corporate power. As he explained in a 2011 speech, “disparities in income in America are not because of some ‘greedy capitalist’ — no! It’s because of a failing education system.”

Public schools, Booker continued, are also responsible for mass incarceration and racial injustice. To combat such evils, Booker has openly praised Republican leader Betsy DeVos’s organization American Federation for Children for fighting to win the final battle of the civil rights’ movement.

Scapegoating underfunded public schools for deeply rooted racial and economic problems makes little sense. But it’s been a ticket to the top for Cory Booker. In fact, it was by hitching his star to the corporate-backed “education reform” movement that Booker first rose to prominence.


Yeah Trump has so much sway with the Irish government.


Theresa May has been told to enlist Donald Trump in a bid to save her troubled Brexit talks.

Conservative MPs, who oppose May’s EU exit deal, want the prime minister to approach the president and request that he lobby the Irish government in an attempt to force them to give ground in negotiations.

May’s deal was defeated in the UK House of Commons last month after MPs voted by a 230-vote majority against the plans.

Following the defeat, May vowed to seek changes from the EU to the controversial “backstop” element of the deal, which is designed to prevent a hard border with Ireland after Brexit.

She also appointed a group of senior Conservative backbenchers to examine proposals to replace the backstop.

However senior EU figures have resisted calls to re-open negotiations, in part because of opposition by the Irish government to altering the backstop.


What does May (dumb RWinger) think Orange Moran will do? Scare the Irish? what a joke. Brexit is a mess.


Pelosi tells BC/BS not to worry about M4All.

That worries me.

Double post. Oops.


Another fat craporate yoyo.




Hahaha, great pic! Thanks pb!!




On Yahoo’s featured (at the top of their page of news summaries) news item right now:

Bernie Sanders Outraged Once-Free Drug Now Costs $375,000

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is demanding to know why a pharmaceutical company has slapped a $375,000 list price on a drug that patients used to get for free.

Sanders accused Patrick McEnany, president and CEO of Catalyst Pharmaceuticals Inc., of “a blatant fleecing of American taxpayers” and “an immoral exploitation of patients who need this medication” in a scathing letter Monday.


I like the stronger language in this link. The comments that I saw were all positive.

Sample Comments:

I’m a Proud Conservative Patriotic Republican and I have to admit Bernie is right on this and I support him. I wish more Republican Senators would join Bernie on this issue.

Republican capitalist here and this is one issue I can agree with Bernie on. It’s outrageous that life saving drugs like incillan can be price manipulated to the extreme levels. When people need these drugs to survive what are they going to do? Pay the price. God forbid somebody you love is in this situation. Prescription drugs are the first thing the country needs to get a handle on in order to fix our healthcare issues.

Sounds like a popular effort on Bernie’s part.

BS pharm.jpg

oh god he has to be the nominee.


Go get em Bernie!



On Thursday, the Center for American Progress (CAP), a Democratic party-affiliated thinktank, launched a proposal confusingly called “Medicare Extra for All”. For proponents of a Bernie Sanders-style single-payer “Medicare for All”, this might seem like a positive development. Well, yes and no.

On the one hand, “Medicare Extra” is a step to the left for CAP, suggesting that the Democratic establishment is following the lead of its galvanized base. On the other hand, this new proposal would exact sacrifices from patients to placate the insurance industry, and could serve to divert the single-payer movement, which has been rapidly gaining steam.

What’s not to like?

First, there’s the proposal’s voodoo economics. The US healthcare system hemorrhages cash through useless billing and bureaucracy, the inevitable consequence of battles between our jumble of profit-seeking insurers and the country’s providers. Transitioning to single-payer could end this waste, saving about $500bn annually; multi-payer systems such as Medicare Extra that add yet another plan to the existing slew of private insurers cannot. And without these efficiencies, expanding to fully universal coverage could prove unaffordable.

Second, because the economics don’t work, the coverage is insufficient. Although Medicare Extra would be more generous than most Obamacare plans, it would still leave millions encumbered with copayments and deductibles, which force people to choose between healthcare and other necessities. Keep in mind that one survey found that almost half of Americans couldn’t afford an unanticipated $400 expense, per the Washington Post.

Indeed, under the CAP program, some might see their coverage worsen if their employer elected to transition them to Medicare Extra. Consider that large employers’ plans cover, on average, 85.4% of healthcare costs. But Medicare Extra would cover only 80% of costs, for at least some families (depending on income). Republicans would have a field day scaremongering about the government taking away your healthcare plan. While CAP touts the political advantages of their plan, it may well be a juicier target for such scaremongering than “Medicare for All”, which would cover 100% of healthcare costs.

Medicare Extra offers an inferior policy option, when a better one is on the table. Improved “Medicare for all” can affordably provide healthcare to everyone. It’s widely supported by the progressive base – and indeed by the majority of the nation in most polls. And it can serve as a powerful political promise as we wade into the profoundly consequential 2018 and 2020 election season. Democrats would be wise to unite behind it, rather than be sidetracked by CAP’s second-rate scheme.


Time to stop slinging “Russian asset” every time someone disagrees with us. Or even drags our name in the mud.


I love this guy, too.


Fat chance Guaidó will ask.



What NGD?

The usual fracking BS.


Beto O’Rourke to Make 2020 Decision by End of February

In an interview in Times Square with Oprah Winfrey, who prodded him to run throughout the chat, Mr. O’Rourke said family considerations were the only obstacle to a campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“I have been thinking about running for president,” he said, to considerable applause inside a small theater where Ms. Winfrey was taping a special with Mr. O’Rourke and other boldfaced names like Bradley Cooper and Melinda Gates.

“And what’s the conclusion?” she pressed. “Are you running?”

“We want to play as great a role as possible in making sure that this country lives up to our expectations,” Mr. O’Rourke said of himself and his family. He pledged to decide one way or the other by the end of the month.

That was from NYT, the report below is from CNN:

The former three-term congressman also discussed his meeting with former President Barack Obama in the weeks after his Senate run. He said Obama told him that while O’Rourke had just finished an intense Senate campaign, running for president is “many factors more intense than that.”

In the interview, O’Rourke said he would legalize so-called Dreamers — undocumented immigrants brought into the United States as children — give their parents legal status and increase immigration quotas.

He called President Donald Trump’s push for a wall along the southern border a “racist response to a problem we don’t have. It seeks emotionally to connect with us, with voters — to stoke anxiety and paranoia, to win power over ‘the other’ on the basis of lies that vilify people.”



Now, it’s true that recent polling has upended the commentariat’s assumptions about public opinion on tax policy. Last week, Starbucks billionaire Howard Schultz argued that the Democratic Party’s radical tax ideas had opened up space for a centrist presidential candidate to unite Republicans and Democrats around common-sense, bipartisan solutions; days later, polls revealed that Elizabeth Warren’s proposal to annually expropriate 2 percent of Schultz’s wealth was a common-sense, bipartisan solution.

But the fact that pundits deemed these findings surprising tells us less about American opinion than it does about American pundits. The U.S. public has (just about) always been eager to soak the rich.

The mainstream media’s faith in the relevance of public opinion to major policy changes is understandable. In a democracy, political legitimacy is supposed to derive from popular sovereignty. Thus, to accurately describe American civic life — to acknowledge the median voter’s capacious ignorance of each election’s policy stakes, the Republican Party’s success at winning elections while holding its own voters’ economic preferences in contemptuous disregard, the unseemly influence that economic elites wield over both sides of the aisle, the arbitrary and anti-democratic structures of the U.S. government, and the consequent fact that ordinary Americans do not exercise anything resembling self-rule — would be tantamount to challenging the legitimacy of the existing political order. And that is not what mainstream, nonpartisan political analyst are paid to do.


Income, capital gains, wealth, and estate taxes all need to be addressed together.


Does this mean progressives should forget the idea of taxing the rich? Actually, it’s possible to tax the rich, but the top tax rate by itself can’t do it. You also need to raise the capital gains tax. Many things are different today from 1980, but one important thing is still the same: The wealthy have options for shifting how they make money and where they keep it, and thus how they pay taxes. These days a major opportunity for tax-shifting by the wealthy is to take their income in the form of capital gains — proceeds from investments and other assets — instead of earnings. Capital gains are taxed at just 20 percent, much lower than the rate for ordinary income, which tops out at 37 percent. So, the wealthy who take their income as capital gains reduce their taxes significantly, and completely legally.

The capital gains tax dates back to the Revenue Act of 1921. The reasons for keeping taxes on capital lower than on ordinary income are not implausible: As the Democrats in 1980 noted, lower taxes on capital gains should stimulate investment, which should stimulate the economy. Indeed, back then the United States lagged European countries in its efforts to stimulate investment, and the U.S. actually taxed capital more heavily than European countries did. Cuts from the high capital gains tax rates of the 1970s may have made sense 40 years ago.

BUT TIMES HAVE changed, and tax rates are much lower today. There is no evidence that rates as low as today’s stimulate investment or benefit the economy, which means that lower capital gains tax rates are costing the government money. Nearly three-quarters of capital gains tax is paid by the top 1 percent of Americans, so treating capital gains as ordinary income (and closing related loopholes such as for carried interest and the “stepped up basis”) would meet the progressive goal of preferentially taxing the rich. These aren’t radical or new ideas: economists who study the capital gains tax have long argued in favor of equalizing the rates, and it has even been done before—by Ronald Reagan, in the tax reform law of 1986.



The Senate overwhelmingly approved a Middle East policy bill on Tuesday that included both a rebuke to President Trump over his withdrawal of troops from Syria and Afghanistan and a contested measure to allow state and municipal governments to punish companies that boycott, divest from or place sanctions on Israel.

Both pieces of legislation face dim prospects in the House. Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the No. 5 Democrat, told reporters last month that leadership would not “allow the Senate Republicans to move legislation forward that really is a political stunt.”

Some senators, including Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont, and Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, refused to support the bill, citing concerns raised by activist groups that the provision was an unconstitutional stifling of their right to protest.

Most senators considering a presidential run voted against the legislation, including Mr. Sanders and Mr. Brown as well as Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California. Senators Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Michael Bennet of Colorado voted for it.

But a number of Democratic senators have maintained that Mr. Trump made the correct decision to remove troops from seemingly intractable battles.

“The American people do not want endless war,” Mr. Sanders said in a statement. “It is the job of Congress to responsibly end these military interventions and bring our troops home, not to come up with more reasons to continue them, as this amendment does.”


If Canada would take me and I could find a way to see my grandkids often, I would go after the elections, depending on who wins. I’ve never honestly felt that I would really go.




Bernie refuted that beautifully tonight, with Dr. King’s quote about how socialism is favoring the rich.


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