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Perhaps Mr. Crocker has not followed Donald Trump's foreign policy pronouncement in careful detail. And possibly he was not paying attention when President Obama delivered his foreign policy "doctrine" speech at West Point in May of 2014. While he noted that the international landscape has changed in recent decades and the U.S. must be more discrete with its foreign involvement and do more in cooperation with allies and through diplomatic means, he nevertheless took a position solidly in line with the American leadership role that was initiated by the Truman administration. As formulated by Obama:
"Here’s my bottom line: America must always lead on the world stage. If we don’t, no one else will. The military that you have joined is and always will be the backbone of that leadership. But U.S. military action cannot be the only -- or even primary -- component of our leadership in every instance. Just because we have the best hammer does not mean that every problem is a nail. And because the costs associated with military action are so high, you should expect every civilian leader -- and especially your Commander-in-Chief -- to be clear about how that awesome power should be used."
It´s puzzling, but easy for some to entirely miss the point (or deny it), for they are enjoying the free lunch at the expense of everyone else. What´s more, they are the very same folks who do want to cut government expenditures — not on themselves, but only on those who are already most heavily burdened by existing taxes. Tax breaks, exclusions, and subsidies are government expenditures, reminiscent of the Ancien Regime. Those getting this free lunch want their advantage (granted by the government that they loath) to be maintained, especially by increasing the sales tax burden on the least affluent. Ideology is a real unreality, and some are deeply infected by it. In this instance, it is destructive of a free economy.
That Washington’s tax structure is highly regressive is a well known fact — and one that those who are in charge and enjoy the advantage work hard to maintain. Actually, once special tax exemptions, reductions and subsidies are considered, the picture is much worse than the Institute’s report reveals, for not only does the state’s reliance on sales taxes fall most heavily on those least able to pay, Washington’s tax system then functions to provide a long list of tax breaks to those who need them least. Aside from abundant tax exemptions at the state level, for example, Washington’s congressional delegation is routinely admonished to ensure that federal law permits state sales taxes to be deducted in federal returns. But this is a deduction that only those who itemize can claim — not something that the least affluent are likely to take advantage of. The upshot, of course, is that the state genuinely needs more revenue, especially for infrastructure and education; and the only way to get it within the present ethos it is to burden lower income brackets still more — tax internet purchases (under the deceitful reasoning of protecting “brick and mortar” establishments), increase the gasoline tax, etc.etc. But don’t, don’t ever, tax incomes. On the other hand, with the legalization of recreational marijuana, soma will be available, taxed, of course.
Readers should examine the "bigger and better" Realclear data. Unlike the RC polls, the Kaiser survey method does not require the respondent to merely select between "favor" and "oppose"; it allows an "undecided" choice. Too, it explores the reason for opposing the ACA and finds that 8% feel it does not go far enough. The Realclear data (a variety of polls that correspond closely to the Kaiser polling) do not reflect this subtlety. On the other hand, it is noted in the RC data that a majority feel that the Republicans should implement the law and stop trying to block it . Again, ideology obscures reality — and those who have bought into it can´t depart the ride without personally struggling with where they have been. Ted´s piece is insightful and very good.
As ideology is wont to do, it prevents those who get on the its tram from seeing reality or telling the truth — for ideologues already possess the “truth” and require that reality be accommodated to it. According to a Kaiser foundation poll conducted only last June, 43% of those polled have negative views of the ACA, while 35% support it and the remaining 20% are undecided. But there’s a catch: 8% of those with negative views feel that the ACA does not go far enough! That moves the real opposition to 35% (well below a majority) and those in favor of the ACA or something more to 45%. But wait, there’s more; 45% report having heard nothing at all about the free market heath insurance exchanges. In fact, earlier polling consistently showed that those who indicated opposition to the ACA largely supported its componentl provisions except for the individual mandate to pay for it.
The math involved in a Bayesian probability calculation is not particularly challenging. Nor should there be great difficulty in answering the necessary questions involved — though honesty and a search for data are required. Unfortunately, some folks are not up to the challenge in either category.
"Hey, Nate Silver, we need your help!" Not really. But Nate recommends a Bayesian calculation. Only a glance at the House and Senate should make that easy! In which body did a leading member announce his intention to make Obama a one term president by opposing every presidential initiative — even ones that this person´s own party had previously endorsed? In which body has a liberum veto become the norm? In which body has the leader announced that its work should be judged by the number of laws they repeal rather than pass? What is the party of a local member of congress who voted against legislation and then later took credit for it? Of course, as Nate would warn, after we honestly answer these questions, we will still have only a probabilistic conclusion — but close enough to pure truth for intelligent political action. For those who need more, forget Nate Silver and consult the long time, conservative, congressional scholar Norm Ornstein and his recent work, "It´s Even worse Than it Looks". In fact, it´s Ornstein who cries out for pundits to quit playing dumb by making it appear that one can´t tell the score!
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