Don’t you guys know how to fight?

Last week President Obama threatened to veto a “tax extender” bill the House wanted to pass. It would have done lots of things that might be useful:

The emerging tax legislation would make permanent 10 provisions, including an expanded research and development tax credit, which businesses and the Obama administration have wanted to make permanent for years; a measure allowing small businesses to deduct virtually any investment; the deduction for state and local sales taxes; the American Opportunity Tax Credit for college costs; deductions for employer-provided mass transit; and four different breaks for corporate and charitable giving.

Smaller measures already passed by the Senate Finance Committee, from tax breaks for car-racing tracks to benefits for racehorse owners, would be extended for one year and retroactively renewed for the current tax year.

But it would have left out two of the things Democrats believe in most:

a permanently expanded earned-income credit and a child tax credit for the working poor. Friday night, Republican negotiators announced they would exclude those measures as payback for the president’s executive order on immigration, saying a surge of newly legalized workers would claim the credit, tax aides from both parties said.

There’s no evidence any surge of workers would do any such thing, of course, but that doesn’t matter to Boehner’s Bunch.

But my complaint is that the Democrats didn’t publicly point and laugh at the noted absence of any effort to pay for these giveaways. When the Dems were in charge the Republicans insisted on what was called PayGo, meaning you paid for what you spent out of current funds available. You didn’t simply add to the deficit; you had to find offsetting areas of the budget which could be reduced by the amount you now wanted to spend on this new thing. You can argue that in times of deep financial difficulty you should borrow to finance government activities (like building much-needed infrastructure), but good luck persuading the Tea Party zealots that that’s a good idea.

So why have no Democrats been demanding that PayGo rules be followed now? C’mon, guys, you’re in a bare-knuckle fight with these people; put down the big fluffy boxing gloves.

2014 Christmas Music

There are a fair number of Christmas albums from recognizable names this season, including Idina Menzel and Darius Rucker. There’s an a capella album from Pentatonix, an R&B one from warhorses Earth Wind & Fire, one from opera’s Renée Fleming, and one from Seth Macfarlane. It turns out Macfarlane is a pianist and singer as well as animator and producer.

There are other new ones, but these caught my eye.

Cold water worked

On what? On the tablecloth which had several cranberry relish stains on it. I soaked the spots in a bowl of cold water Thanksgiving night and it appeared I got it all out then, but running it through the washing machine with the matching napkins was the full test.

And they came out. Phew!

Alumnus pride (and a little shock)

With its win over in-state rival Arizona State today, Arizona gets to play Oregon next week in the Pac-12 Championship Game. As SI says:

Arizona in the playoff sounded like a peyote-induced hallucination at the beginning of the year, yet at the end of November, the Wildcats are not only in the conversation, they might have a chance to control it.

Better yet, all the scoffers who say the Wildcats have two losses to go with their ten wins will have to reconcile the fact that one of those ten wins was over Oregon back in October, when they surprised the Ducks 31-24.

Assuming the Ducks beat their own in-state rival Oregon State Beavers tomorrow, they’ll be 11-1. They’ve already clinched a spot in Friday’s championship, so they could lose and still be there. Nobody expects the 5-6 Beavers to beat the Ducks, though, particularly not with Heisman candidate Marcus Mariota healthy and bringing his 3,103 passing yards, 32 touchdowns and two interceptions along with 597 rushing yards on 97 carries with nine touchdowns to the game.

Friday night, then. 6:00PM PT at the brand-new Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Ca., televised by Fox.

Bear Down, Arizona!

Roaster marketing

Hey, look! A commercial for the roaster I plan to cook turkey in this afternoon!

Yep, we still own one from the 1950s. It still works fine, although I think the “On” light doesn’t come on until the desired heat is reached rather than during preheating. I’ll find out a little later if that’s right.

How did Ferguson become Ferguson?

The Economic Policy Institute has a partial history. White flight was involved, but there was a lot of governmental action at all three levels which influenced its demographic shifts over the past century.

White flight certainly existed, and racial prejudice was certainly behind it, but not racial prejudice alone. Government policies turned black neighborhoods into overcrowded slums and white families came to associate African Americans with slum characteristics. White homeowners then fled when African Americans moved nearby, fearing their new neighbors would bring slum conditions with them.

That government, not mere private prejudice, was responsible for segregating greater St. Louis was once conventional informed opinion. A federal appeals court declared 40 years ago that “segregated housing in the St. Louis metropolitan area was … in large measure the result of deliberate racial discrimination in the housing market by the real estate industry and by agencies of the federal, state, and local governments.” Similar observations accurately describe every other large metropolitan area. This history, however, has now largely been forgotten.

It’s a long report, but it’s an important one. We need to refresh our memories.

It wasn’t just St. Louis, either. These policies were in place nationwide and affected hundreds of American cities.

Ferguson law enforcement’s misbehavior

From one of the Today Show’s Legal Analyst Lisa Bloom’s tweets while reading Ferguson Grand Jury transcripts:


What the hell kind of investigation is it that says “Oops, camera batteries dead. Well, no matter. Carry on.”?

This link is to a storified chain of all the tweets she posted while reading the transcripts, citing discrepancies and noting prosecutorial misconduct. Here’s her conclusion:


If the saying goes “”a grand jury would ‘indict a ham sandwich,’if that’s what you wanted,” then the converse must also be true: a grand jury won’t indict a killer if you don’t want it to.” It seems pretty clear that Prosecutor Bob McCulloch didn’t want to indict Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown.

Ferguson

I was under the impression that if you have conflicting witness statements and other discrepancies which make accountability for a death difficult, you take the case to a jury trial and present all the evidence to that jury. I’m astonished that this prosecutor decided he’d just dump all the material which would normally be taken up in a courtroom trial into the hands of a grand jury. Has the “prosecutor can get a grand jury to ‘indict a ham sandwich'” rule been overturned?

If prosecutor McCulloch was serious in trying to find justice for the victim as well as the killer, I think he blew it.

I hope nobody else dies as a result of this decision.

Dilemma

I got an invitation in the mail the other day offering me an annual subscription to National Geographic for $12. It’s a special “Welcome Back” deal.

Well, if the Society really found me on its “former member” list, they were looking back about 40 years. I don’t think I’ve gotten the magazine regularly in at least that long. I stopped re-upping for the usual reason: the magazines are too beautiful to throw away so they pile up on shelves or coffee tables, and no library in the state needs them as everyone who does try to get rid of them thinks of the library as the first alternative when deciding who to give them to.

Anyway, I’m tempted. But if I do sign up, it means I won’t need to read them at the dentist’s office because I’ll have already gotten the issues that turn up there. So I’ll have to read People magazine or Golf Digest. I’m too much of a snob to want to be seen reading celebrity gossip and I don’t care about golf. Why can’t one of the dentists (it’s a multi-practitioner office) be an avid sailor? I’d love to look at Sail magazine without paying for it (although it’s got a current one-year subscription rate that’s the same as NatGeo — $12. Hmmm.).

What to do, what to do?