Elemental Evil: Sessions 13 & 14

I just noticed that I am behind on my reporting on the Elemental Evil campaign. In the previous reported session the group had reached level 5 and was about to head for the Sacred Stone Monastery. Sessions 13 and 14 were about the adventures of the group in that monastery. However once again it has to be remarked that this particular group is mainly interested in the combat aspects of D&D, and less interested in the role-playing aspects. And the campaign has been chosen with this preference in mind, containing a lot of dungeon crawls. Nevertheless even in that campaign the group still managed to avoid most opportunities to find out more about the story, and spent those two sessions mostly in combat encounters.

The group entered the Sacred Stone Monastery via the garden and from there into the main hall. However that was exactly what the bad guys had planned for invaders, as the main hall contains a trap that drops the group down into the dungeon and into a cage with an Umber Hulk. Having beaten the Umber Hulk and then some orog and ogre guards, the group liberated a group of slaves used for mining work. That included members of the Mirabar delegation, which in the book is the official story hook. However the group showed absolutely no interest in asking them about what had happened to the delegation, and allowed the slaves to leave unescorted.

Next the group entered a part of the dungeon in which a Lich lives. A Lich is a challenge rating 21 monster and obviously not meant as a combat encounter for level 5 characters. But in spite of the Lich just being a bit grumpy and not immediately attacking, the group decided against getting information from him, and just fled. Having otherwise cleaned out the basement, the group found another staircase up, and found themselves in the middle of the monk’s quarters, where a big fight ensued. That included the boss of the place, a blind female monk with the name of Hellenrae. Just like in the previous two elemental keeps, the group killed the boss, looted the magical key part the bosses are carrying, and then legged it.

Then they returned to Red Larch to rest and recuperate. But the next morning at breakfast in the inn, they were attacked by four hell hounds. That was a bit annoying for the sorceress, who mainly had fire-based spells like scorching ray and fireball, to which the monsters were immune. But although they took heavy damage from fire breaths, the group prevailed and sent the dogs packing. They (correctly) concluded that the hell hounds had been sent by the one cult they hadn’t visited yet, the fire cult. As they had previously heard about druids planning a fire ritual at a location which corresponded to the location of the fourth elemental keep on their ancient map, they plan to go there in the next session.

New Wall Street Journal Report Might Totally Destroy Republicans’ Favorite Anti-FBI Talking Point

The GOP still won’t shut up about a “Deep State” conspiracy though.

A new report from the Wall Street Journal adds some needed context to FBI Agent Peter Strzok’s text message about the Russia investigation being an “insurance policy” in the event that Donald Trump won last year’s presidential election.

According to the Journal’s sources, Strzok’s talk of an “insurance policy” against Trump’s electoral victory “was meant to convey that the bureau needed to aggressively investigate allegations of collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia,” and was not intended to “suggest a secret plan to harm the candidate but rather address a colleague who believed the [FBI] could take its time because Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was certain to win the election.”

In the original text message, which was sent to FBI lawyer Lisa Page, Strzok wrote of Trump that, “I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office — that there’s no way he gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”

The text message had been seized upon by Republicans who suggested it revealed an agency-wide conspiracy to bring down Trump in the event of his election. According to the Journal’s account, however, it seems that Strzok was sincerely concerned about contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian agents, and wanted to pursue an investigation regardless of who won the 2016 presidential election.

Strzok was originally part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigative team, but he was removed by Mueller this past summer after the special counsel discovered that the FBI agent had disparaged Trump as an “idiot” in text messages.

 

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Don’t want to battle for Azeroth

World of Warcraft announced a 7th expansion called Battle for Azeroth. At this point in time I don’t feel any interest in that expansion. If it came out today, I wouldn’t buy it. As it is coming out in a year, there is still time for me to change my mind. But there is a greater than zero probability that this will be the first World of Warcraft expansion I’m opting out of.

Google is now prioritizing mobile sites to provide better results for mobile devices

best facts apps

We all saw this coming. All the way back in November 2016, Google said it would begin prioritizing websites that have a mobile-friendly, responsive design in favor of traditional desktop online websites. Google is following through on that promise as it’s now implementing this new prioritization method for a “handful of sites.” Quite frankly, the move makes sense given that an ever-increasing amount of people are searching constantly from their phones. Especially when you aren’t at a computer, it’s easier to just pull out the phone that’s in your pocket to search for something.

See also

We’ve all been there, searching for something on Google, when we finally find the information we need, when *gasp*, it’s a desktop site. The change to mobile-first indexing will ensure that this doesn’t happen as often.

Traditionally, Google’s crawling and ranking systems only looked at the standard desktop layout of a website. This is no longer going to be the case.

Google will now use content from mobile sites to create and rank listings, which will allow for more relevant results for mobile users. Google is “evaluating sites independently on their readiness for mobile-first indexing,” and the shift is “closely being monitored by the search team.” If your website is already mobile-friendly, you shouldn’t have to do anything. However, Google does have some guidelines for site owners:

  • Make sure the mobile version of the site also has the important, high-quality content. This includes text, images (with alt-attributes), and videos – in the usual crawlable and indexable formats.
  • Structured data is important for indexing and search features that users love: it should be both on the mobile and desktop version of the site. Ensure URLs within the structured data are updated to the mobile version on the mobile pages.
  • Metadata should be present on both versions of the site. It provides hints about the content on a page for indexing and serving. For example, make sure that titles and meta descriptions are equivalent across both versions of all pages on the site.
  • No changes are necessary for interlinking with separate mobile URLs (m.-dot sites). For sites using separate mobile URLs, keep the existing link rel=canonical and link rel=alternate elements between these versions.
  • Check hreflang links on separate mobile URLs. When using link rel=hreflang elements for internationalization, link between mobile and desktop URLs separately. Your mobile URLs’ hreflang should point to the other language/region versions on other mobile URLs, and similarly link desktop with other desktop URLs using hreflang link elements there.
  • Ensure the servers hosting the site have enough capacity to handle potentially increased crawl rate. This doesn’t affect sites that use responsive web design and dynamic serving, only sites where the mobile version is on a separate host, such as m.example.com.

Thoughts on this change?

Donald Trump Jr. and Ted Cruz Mock Barack Obama with Bizarre Cookie

The president’s son called the pastry an early birthday present.

Donald Trump Jr. Mocks Barack Obama With Giant Cookie

Donald Trump Jr. took to instagram Sunday alongside Texas Senator Ted Cruz to mock former President Barack Obama and pose with a cookie that featured a picture of the former leader. President Donald Trump’s eldest son said the cookie was an early birthday president. “With friends like these… some good friends decided that while my birthday…

 

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Galaxy S8’s fourth Android Oreo beta disables use of third-party docks with Samsung DeX

The Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus might be more known for their near bezel-less designs, but one feature that isn’t nearly as talked about is Samsung DeX, which turns the phone into pseudo-desktops. Unfortunately for those who found the feature useful, the fourth Android Oreo beta prevents it from working with third-party docks.

According to XDA Developers, users are reporting that, when they connect their devices to third-party docks, Samsung DeX no longer pops up. Instead, connecting their Samsung smartphones to these docks only mirrors the smartphone display.

This is an interesting change, seeing how using Samsung‘s official DeX dock was not the only way to get the feature up and running. For example, back in September, someone turned a 2008 MacBook Pro into an almost fully-functional DeX laptop. Also, folks found out that they could connect the Galaxy S8 to the HP Elitebook X3, which was made to work with HP’s Elite X3 smartphone, and have Samsung DeX work just fine.

Editor’s Pick

It’s a somewhat depressing move on Samsung’s part, seeing how the company has also prevented folks from remapping the Bixby button. I understand that Samsung wants to sell as many DeX docks as possible, but if you want as many people as possible use the feature, why hinder the ability to do so?

XDA Developers brings up the point that Huawei’s Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro offer a DeX-like feature of their own, except that the phones do not require the use of a dock to make it work — all you need is a USB 3.1 Type-C cable. Maybe we’ll get to the point where Samsung doesn’t require a dock to have DeX work, but until then, I will continue to frown.

Of course, Samsung can change its mind once the final Android Oreo release rolls around, though we’ll keep an eye out if that’s the case.

Do you use Samsung DeX with your Galaxy S8, S8 Plus, or Note 8? If you do, do you find the feature useful? Let us know in the comments below.

Naming and Directory Concepts,JaVa – is not MaVa


Java Naming and Directory Services

A Naming Service provides a mechanism for giving names to objects so you can retrieve and use those objects without knowing the location of the object. Objects can be located on any machine accessible from your network, not necessarily the local workstation.
A real-world example is a phone directory. It stores telephone numbers against names and addresses. To find people’s phone numbers is simply a matter of using their name (and possibly address) to identify an entry in the phone book and obtaining the stored phone number. There are a few complications, such as finding the right phone book to look in, but it is essentially a simple process.
Incidentally, naming services have a similar problem to that of finding the right phone book. This is known as obtaining a context. A name can only be found if you examine the right context (phone book).
A Directory Service also associates names with objects but provides additional information by associating attributes with the objects.
The yellow pages phone directory is a simple form of a directory service. Here, businesses often include advertisements with additional information such as a list of products sold, professional qualifications, affiliated organizations, and even maps to their premises. These attributes add value to the name entry. A directory service will normally provide the ability to find entries that have particular attributes or values for attributes.
Yellow page style phone books also store names under categories—for example, hairdressers or lawyers. Categorizing entries can simplify searching for a particular type of entry. These categorized entries are a form of sub-context within the directory context of the local phone book.

Why Use Naming And Directory Services?

Naming Services provide an vital mechanism for de-coupling the provider of a service from the consumer of the service. Naming services allow a supplier of a service to register their service against a name. Users, or clients, of the service need only know the name of the service to use it.
Think of the phone book once more, and how difficult it would be to find someone’s phone number without it. Obtaining your friend’s phone number would mean going to their home and asking, or waiting until you meet up with them again—which may be difficult to organize because you can’t phone them to arrange the meeting.
It is very difficult to imagine a world without naming services.

What is JNDI and why we NEEDED it?

When you build an application, chances are you have to depend on some other resources built by somebody else. There is a directory or naming service that maps or bind name to such resources so that you can use  the name and get the resource into your application. Such resources could be an object or simply just location to object. Such services are important because it provides way to expose the those resources to be used and reused. For instance:
DNS (Domain Name System): 
It maps people-friendly names (such as www.google.com) into computer-friendly IP addresses in dotted-quad notation (192.168.0.1).

LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) 
It provides access to hierarchical structural information about users, networks or systems over IP network through url and other attributes names.(e.g cn=Martin Bond, ou=Authors, o=SAMS, c=us).
NIS (Network Information System) 
It provides access to file and application resources through ID and password.
So, the common thing is they all are naming systems that binds the name to the object of our interest. Those objects or resources may or may not be on the same host and just be reference to object. No mater where they are naming service provide the lookup service to find such object by name.
The difference is the naming convention each of those naming services has undertaken. For instance:
  • DNS uses the dot notation to construct the full domain name. (www.google.com)
  • LDAP uses comma to separate the components while uses key/value pair to distinguish each components. (‘cn=Rupesh Bho, o=ComPlus, c=US’) .
With such differences, it would be nightmare for the application developers if they have to spend writing code to bring various naming servers every time they work on the application. This is where JNDI comes into play.
JNDI is a API which provides the uniform standard to access any naming or directory services into your application. Remember JNDI is just interface, not implementation.

JNDI architecture consists of API and Service Provider Interface(SPI). Java application use the JNDI API to access a variety of naming and directory services. The SPI enables a variety of naming and directory services to be plugged in transparently, thereby allowing the Java application using JNDI API to access their services.
JNDI is included in Java SE. To use JNDI, you must have the JNDI classes and one or more service providers. Some service providers like LDAP, RMI and DNS are included with the JDK, other you can find from other vendors.

Context and InitialContext:

The Context interface plays a central role in JNDI. A context represents a set of bindings within a naming service that all share the same naming convention. A Context object provides the methods for binding names to objects and unbinding names from objects, for renaming objects, and for listing the bindings.
JNDI performs all naming operations relative to a context. To assist in finding a place to start, the JNDI specification defines an InitialContext class. This class is instantiated with properties that define the type of naming service in use and, for naming services that provide security, the ID and password to use when connecting.
 Let’s take a look at Context’s methods:
  • void bind(String stringName, Object object): Binds a name to an object. The name must not be bound to another object. All intermediate contexts must already exist.
  • void rebind(String stringName, Object object): Binds a name to an object. All intermediate contexts must already exist.
  • Object lookup(String stringName): Returns the specified object.
  • void unbind(String stringName): Unbinds the specified object.

Want to learn more about JAVA?

At the Conservative Student Action Summit, Plenty of Old Names, Ideas

Selling old, increasingly discredited ideas to a youthful audience isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Thousands of student activists are headed to South Florida this week for the right-wing version of spring break. What’s being billed as the largest gathering of young conservatives in the country will feature a full roster of red-state crowd pleasers like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Donald Trump Jr, Dinesh D’Souza and Sebastian Gorka. Attendees will also get “first-class activism and leadership training,” not to mention the chance to hobnob with the likes of James O’Keefe.

Meet Turning Point USA

Turning Point USA is the organizer behind the Student Action Summit and purports to be “the largest and most powerful campus activist program in America.” It’s certainly the best funded. While TPUSA was founded by 24-year-old Charlie Kirk, and presents itself as a student-driven group, the real power behind it is considerably older, not to mention wealthier. A number of Republican mega-donors have given massive financial support to the organization in hopes TPUSA can produce the next generation of right-wingers, at a time when most millennials are rapidly shifting left.

Grooming conservative activists isn’t TPUSA’s only goal. The group claims it seeks to “effectively push back against intolerance and bias against conservatives in higher education.” But as a review of recent campus controversies reveals, the real goal is to undermine trust in higher education by framing colleges as enemies of conservatism

Conservative victims

Consider the explosive issue of free speech on campus. Free speech is typically put forward as one of the reasons colleges must give a platform to “controversial” speakers like Richard Spencer to advocate ethnic cleansing, Milo Yiannopolous to publicly insult a transgender student or Charles Murray to explain why black people are genetically inferior to white people. But what about free speech that includes making an obscene gesture to a member of TPUSA? Unacceptable, as Courtney Lawton, a graduate student at the University of Nebraska discovered.

After Lawton was documented making an obscene gesture toward a student in a TPUSA booth in August 2017, the University of Nebraska removed her from her teaching position. As a group of professors pointed out in a letter to Chancellor Ronnie D. Green, silencing a university employee for offending a group that purports to be about campus free speech seems contradictory. But for the University of Nebraska, the political blowback was only beginning.

Since Lawton was removed, Republican officials have proposed cuts to the university budget and called for an end to tenure, and demanded that the university turn over faculty members who have publicly criticized members of the state government.

An unequivocal threat

The events at the University of Nebraska demonstrate just how far some administrations are willing to go to protect conservative students when their feelings are hurt. But TPUSA still portrays universities as a whole as an unequivocal threat. At the University of Wisconsin, a TPUSA chapter is appealing a suspension imposed by the student government after the group violated funding policy. The TPUSA chapter’s GoFundMe page doesn’t mention the violation. Instead, they imply “leftist pushback” is what really motivated the student government’s actions.

Maybe that’s why TPUSA has “secretly funnel[ed] thousands of dollars into multiple college student government elections to elect conservatives.” After all, if the only students in positions of power are those approved by TPUSA, then TPUSA chapters like the one at the University of Wisconsin aren’t likely to have to worry about pesky funding policies.

TPUSA doesn’t just target students who don’t share their political ideology. The organization targets professors as well, specifically through the infamous Professor’s Watchlist, which uses unreliable, incomplete or downright false information to target professors suspected of espousing liberal ideas.

Even the clothing sold by TPUSA pushes an anti-higher education agenda. One of its shirts reads, “I survived college without becoming a liberal.” 

In Prager we trust

The anti-higher education sentiment pushed by TPUSA raises a thorny question. If the students who are being feted at the Student Action Summit can’t trust their colleges and their professors, from whom should they get their education?

Dennis Prager, the founder of Prager U, is happy to help.

Prager U and TPUSA are deeply connected.  (TPUSA founder Charlie Kirk sits on Prager U’s advisory board while Prager U is a sponsor of TPUSA. Dennis Prager is also a featured speaker at the Student Action Summit.) Then there is their ideologically symbiotic relationship. TPUSA seeks to sow a distrust of higher education in young people, encouraging them to embrace conservative alternatives like Prager U. At the same time, Prager U’s videos push the kind of us vs them mentality that drives young people toward groups like TPUSA.

So what kind of education does Prager U offer? First, it’s important to note that Prager U is not a university at all, despite presenting its videos as “courses” that can be watched for “credits.” This appropriation of the language of a university gives a neutral veneer to highly partisan, misleading and simplistic videos that are presented as facts, not arguments.

Consider the “course” on feminism featuring Tammy Bruce, who bemoans that female college students don’t list “wife and mother” as a career goal and complains that feminists believe that they are equal to men in the “sexual arena.” Women are meant to “civilize men,” says Bruce, warning that when women don’t civilize men, society apparently “descend[s] into chaos and the law of the jungle.” And what about the contributions of men to women’s liberation? (This analysis goes into meticulous detail about all the problems with the “course.”)

The video on capitalism, featuring Jared Meyer, is equally problematic. It begins with the speaker declaring, “You can’t stand big government. Really. You can’t,” and ends by reminding viewers that they enjoy capitalism, “you practice it every day” and it’s “time to preach it.”

How can you tell you hate big government? It’s easy. Meyer explains that “going to the Apple Store [is] so fun, but going to the DMV [is] so painful.” The speaker fails to discuss areas like the environment, healthcare and infrastructure where what benefits a corporation can conflict with the needs of human beings. He also fails to address how the government has had to bail out corporations because their recklessness endangered the entire economy.

We shouldn’t be too hard on Meyer, though. After all, all of Prager U’s “courses” are only about five minutes long.

Hard sell

Spend enough time watching Prager videos and clicking around the TPUSA website and you too may be convinced that there’s a burgeoning “student movement for free markets and limited government.” But selling old, increasingly discredited ideas to a youthful audience isn’t as easy as it sounds. Getting 15- to 25-year-olds to embrace extreme free-market policies requires convincing them to overlook the fact that these same policies have directly contributed to financial meltdowns, and as George Monbiot writes, “the offshoring of wealth and power…[and] the slow collapse of public health and education [and] ecosystems.” Not to mention absurd levels of economic inequality that threatens to choke the very generation TPUSA is trying to appeal to.

Which may be why the biggest names at this week’s Student Action Summit aren’t young activists but right-wing hacks and has-beens, in search of a new market for the same tired products they’ve been selling for decades.

How College Campuses Can Uphold Free Speech AND Shut Down Racists

Give marginalized communities the space to address white nationalists on campus.

At the Center for Human and Civil Rights museum in Atlanta, Georgia, there’s an exhibit with headphones where you can sit and experience the verbal abuse that many civil rights activists lived through during the 1960 lunch counter sit-ins. They could not verbally respond to the racists, lest they suffer violent consequences. Instead, they used nonviolent protest to challenge the abusive provocation and impact the national public discourse.

I thought of that exhibit recently, as I read about the spread of racist speech seeking to incite a response on college campuses. Should we disrupt white nationalists, Nazis and other far right views? Or should we, like the civil rights pioneers, find other ways to shut down racist speech? And what role should college administrators and other decision-makers play?

A predictable pattern

We’re seeing a predictable pattern: The far right funds white nationalist speeches on university campuses seeking to provoke students, faculty and communities. When students and communities push back, the Nazis and other racists gleefully tweet and give media interviews about the chaos that ensued because of the “violent left.” Afterward, university administrators are “embarrassed” that their institution hosted a melee.

Our constitution demands that we fully support nonviolent, non-disruptive protests by students at white supremacist events. The text of the Constitution’s First Amendment reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

In National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that “a group’s request to engage in a parade or demonstration involving public display of the Nazi swastika is a symbolic form of free speech that is at least presumptively entitled to First Amendment protections.” However, as University administrators and others should be well aware, in Brandenburg v. Ohio the court also held that “government can punish inflammatory speech” if it is “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.” Considering the incited violence involving campus speeches at Berkeley, University of California Davis, and others, administrators should carefully consider the implications of Skokie and Brandenburg.

Despite the death of roughly 60,000,000 people in World War II, the U.S. Supreme Court has not allowed a government ban on Nazi hate speech and symbols. So how do we responsibly exercise free speech in higher education and more broadly while holding racists accountable for their history of violence, incitement, and hate?

A productive approach

One productive approach is for university administrators to slate white nationalists (if they insist on hosting them) on debates or panels, with multiple views represented, in place of from-the-podium speeches. This arrangement allows white nationalists to air their racially biased views with direct and immediate debunking that’s put on an equal footing.

Our nation’s colleges and universities are the place where the violent and hateful views of Nazis and other white supremacists should be vigorously challenged. I suspect that many disruptions on campus would be quelled if the views of marginalized communities were formally given the space to address white nationalists, Nazis and other radical right views in campus settings. These events would become productive democratic dialogues, not dangerous monologues.

And why not replicate this in the classroom to address the ongoing outcry from conservatives that their perspectives are sidelined in higher education? I recently lectured in a sophomore seminar course using free speech on campus as the foundation for the class. I asked the students to take a public position and provide evidence to support their arguments. But they were somewhat surprised when I pushed back on their evidence.

Protecting tenure

As faculty, we have the duty to prepare our students to be critical thinkers and ready to engage in serious discourse. I am a believer in the power of evidence and the exchange of ideas—but this concept must be buttressed by our nation’s faculty and students.

For either of these suggestions to be carried out with any consistency, we must protect academic tenure, which has been a recent target of conservatives. The sacred responsibility of academia, and the power of tenure, is the ability to wrestle with our nation’s toughest debates without fear of political reprisal.

For generations, my ancestors had to endure racist abuse from white supremacists in silence. They eventually adopted ingenious nonviolent tactics. Today, we can still resist those who would deny us our rights, but college administrators, faculty and others who invite them to speak must take practical steps to make space for our voices, too.

The GOP Tax Bill Rammed Through Congress on Tuesday Paves the Way to Defund and Dismantle Federal Government

Financial experts call it unworkable—and that’s what many Republicans want.

As the GOP tax bill raced through both chambers of Congress Tuesday, hurtling like a runaway train toward President Trump’s desk, Americans should see this GOP effort for what it is in the sweep of history—the Republican dismantling of federal government.

The tax bill’s specifics, with almost all of the benefits going to the very rich, confirm that the GOP’s lock on federal power is as bad as many predicted before the 2016 election. But the tax bill is also Republicans’ opening move to defund government—apart from national security, the military, infrastructure, and corporate welfare.

“The United States Senate should be doing more than providing 83 percent of the benefits in a tax bill to the top 1 percent,” Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, said during the Senate debate Tuesday. “We cannot go home unless we address the very serious crises facing the working families and the middle class of this country.”

Sanders cited a long list of ignored crises—including some intentionally created by President Trump and the red-run Congress—that show the GOP is bent on destroying social safety nets. That unfinished business includes legalizing 800,000 Dreamers, or young people raised here who are the sons and daughters of non-citizens; funding community health centers that serve 27 million people; funding the Children’s Health Insurance Program serving 9 million children; real disaster relief for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands; fixing a multi-employer pension fund that has 1.5 million retirees at risk of losing 60 percent of their anticipated income; reforming student loan debt for 40 million people; addressing a nationwide opioid epidemic; filling 30,000 vacancies in the Veterans Administration; and funding the Social Security Administration (in 2016, 10,000 people with disabilities died while awaiting review of their benefit applications).  

“And on and on it goes,” Sanders said, without citing specifics from the tax bill, such as how its cost, triggering past legislation controlling spending, will cut Medicare’s budget by 4 percent. (Congress still has to pass a 2018 federal budget, which envisions cuts to social welfare programs, science and the environment.)

The thread that ties together this willful neglect is simple. Republicans want to devolve government back to the local level. That’s been the political right’s rallying cry ever since Franklin D. Roosevelt created Social Security in the 1930s and Lyndon B. Johnson created the Great Society’s health safety nets in the 1960s.  

The tax bill gives the GOP a way to do this. Most everybody knows the bill’s fiscal benefits accrue to the already rich. But the tax bill has also been called unworkable by academics specializing in tax law.

On Tuesday, before the House passed it, business reporters noted the bill was moving so fast that the IRS would not be able to implement it when it goes into effect. For example, employers won’t know how much to withhold from January payrolls. That “puts the onus on workers to make adjustments later in the year if too much or too little of their money is being withheld,” Patricia Cohen wrote in the New York Times. 

The New Yorker’s John Cassady noted the bill is likely to bring in less revenue than projected, because it will launch an avalanche of new loopholes to exploit.

“What isn’t yet fully appreciated is how porous and potentially unstable the rest of the tax code will be after the bill is passed,” he wrote. “With a corporate rate of just 20 percent, and a big new break for proprietors of unincorporated businesses and certain types of partnerships, the new code will contain enormous incentives for tax-driven restructurings, creative accounting, and outright fraud. Every tax adviser and scammer in the country will be looking for ways to reclassify regular salary income.”

Cassady noted these contortions are destined to undercut federal revenues, which many Republicans welcome as an avenue to shrinking the federal government.

“The shortfall in tax revenues could be enormous. Perhaps that is what Republicans want to happen,” Cassady said. “Undoubtedly, there are some in the Party who would like to see the tax base decimated, the I.R.S. crippled, and the federal government forced to slash spending on domestic programs, particularly entitlement programs. But, for anybody who believes in a properly functioning government, a rational, clearly defined tax system is essential. The Republican reform doesn’t meet that standard.”

But today’s Republican leadership doesn’t want a functioning government outside the security state, military and infrastructure that buoys corporate America.

It’s hard to know what they are thinking as one looks ahead to the 2018 elections. If the GOP doesn’t want to talk about character—which seems to be the ascendant issue, as seen by Roy Moore’s loss in Alabama and the widespread backlash against male predatory sexual behavior, driven by suburban women who are voting in droves this year—then all the Republicans can point to is their tax bill. While the GOP’s opponents will emphasize intentionally widening inequality, don’t be surprised if Republicans recast their only major legislative achievement in 2017 as a victory against the phantom enemy they love to hate: big government.

Unfortunately, as Sanders pointed out on the Senate floor Tuesday, millions of Americans are getting hurt and are going to be hurt by this needless legislation and similar moves that are sure to follow.  

 

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