Reckonings…

Have you ever seen the mini-series ‘Band of Brothers?’  If you haven’t, you’ve missed out on an experience.  It’s an amazing story based on actual events.  There’s one segment in which a concentration camp is discovered.  The camp is very near a town, yet the townspeople – who supplied the camp, mind you – all contend they had no idea about the camp or what was happening.  The local Allied commander orders the entire town to fall out and help bury the dead in the camp.  The people are no longer able to ignore or excuse the results of their complicity.  They’re forced to see what their wrongheaded decisions have wrought.

I have high confidence that a wide swath of people in this once-great nation and, indeed, around the world are going to have an opportunity to experience the same feeling in the very near future.

Sad…

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Okay, so I believe I have the winning argument in favor of staying on Standard Time year round: kids.  Yes,  I know.  People want to enjoy the “extra” hour in the evening – but it means kids end up walking to school in the dark in the mornings.  Certainly there will be an increase in accidents in which kids are getting hit because drivers didn’t see them.

Yeah, that’s it…the whole argument – staying on Standard Time is safer for kids.

I know it won’t “win”, though.  Child safety is offset by the Chamber of Commerce and there’s potential profit at stake, here.  We’re a bloodthirsty, greedy country.  When push comes to shove, it doesn’t matter to so-called “Free Market” Capitalism that some kid dies on the side of a too-dark road somewhere – so long as she dies wearing the latest fashion from an area retailer that her mom was able to pick up during the “extra hour” the night before…

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I read a story in which a four year old boy shot his six year old sister to death.  Apparently, the two of them and their mom were in the car and the car wouldn’t start.  Mom got out to try to figure out why not.  The boy took the gun out of the console and accidentally killed his sister with it.  The local Sheriff sees no reason for any charges.  No arrests were made.

Clearly, the Sheriff is a “Second Amendment guy”…

It should not be up to him as to whether the owner of that gun should be arrested and tried.  This is why I tout my ‘Keep Your Gun Act.’  He or she was clearly NOT the responsible owner the NRA likes to pretend.  This is not a gun rights issue.  NOBODY should ever leave a loaded weapon laying around that a child might access.  Can we agree on THAT, at least?

Vulture Crapitalism…

I happened to be in a Lowe’s the other day.  If I can help it, it will be the last time.  I found the experience…frustrating.  I was buying a dryer.  It took over a week.
“What, to have it delivered?”
“No, to buy the fucking thing!”
But I’m not here to tell you about the process.  That’s a different column.  I want to comment on the problem.  I THINK I’ve noticed a trend, probably brought on by the predator class as they dismantle America one business at a time.  The problem?  Under-staffing.

The first time I was in there, I waited…well, a LONG time for someone to help me.  Finally, I decided to leave and literally accidentally came across an employee.  She was very enthusiastic and helpful.  I hadn’t made up my mind yet and told her I was going to look around a bit more and she told me that if I came back I could find her in Appliances…or “over there” (she indicated a different department across the aisle).  “Oh, I also have a department in the back.  Just have them page me.”

One employee.  Three departments.  I wondered how many people walk into – and then out of – one of those departments without service because there was only one employee for three departments.  It’s not an accident.  Some ‘never-worked-a-day-in-his-life’ paper pusher made a staffing decision.  It maximized profit today and all it cost was the life of a going concern…eventually.

Let’s say it takes three people to do a job well.  The bosses put two out there and give them a slogan: ‘Work smarter, not harder!’  (What they mean is “Fuck you.  Work harder.”)  Now, in truth, two people probably could do the job with only a few irritated customers.  So, corporate cuts another position, saving a little money.  ONE annual salary of an underpaid “associate” isn’t going to make or break the company but combine that one position with one from every store and the profits for the year increase nicely.

BUT…people coming into the store quickly realize they can’t get the service they need there and start looking for alternatives.  The under-staffing strategy causes people to stay away.  Revenues start falling.  Staffing gets cut again.  At that point, it’s a slow death spiral.  As I was thinking about all of this, I realized I’ve been, recently, into some of the stores now closing their doors.  Venerable, nation-wide institutions that have existed my entire life (Sears, for example, or J.C. Penny) are disappearing.  I think the under-staffing strategy took hold at each one, as well.  We’re told it’s the internet.  Maybe.  I think it’s vulture Crapitalism.

The people at the top have maximized short term gains but surrendered long-term viability.  A very few people make a lot of money.  A very large number of people lose jobs.  The nation loses institutional memory.

I preferred the well-regulated system that prevented lazy, greedy “money men” from intentionally destroying companies because there was short term profit to be realized…

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Speaking of lazy and greedy, Donny the Drumpf is out howling that the Mueller Report “cleared” him – but every Republican in government is working as hard as they can to suppress the actual report.  I wrote only a couple of weeks ago that there were only two choices: if the report cleared the so-called “President”, it would be released in it’s entirety.  If it did NOT clear him, it would be suppressed to the extent possible.  Either way, conservatives would declare full exoneration.

Once again, actions speak louder than words.  Despite claims, I’d bet the Mueller Report did NOT clear The National Shame.  We’d see it if it did.  We wouldn’t be offered a redacted version and it wouldn’t be promised in a while.  We’d have it now.  But we DON’T have it now and every Republican in government is working as hard as they can to suppress the actual report.

They won’t let anyone see it so I can’t tell you what the report says.  But I CAN tell you what it DOESN’T say.  It does NOT say “complete exoneration” – or anything like it…

Note: every once in a while, I post one of these bits without a title.  This was one of those.  Oops…

It’s An Illness…

The current measles outbreak bothers me for reasons that might not seem obvious.  Well, there are the obvious reasons, too.  When I was a kid, I remember standing in long lines.  I didn’t know what was up but the whole family was there at some local school waiting in line to get into the “multipurpose” room.  It turned out, the “purpose” in this case was to stick us with needles, injecting us with life sustaining vaccines.

The big, bad evil government provided the vaccines.  Science provided the reason.  People stood in line.  I think mine was (or should have been) the last generation in which kids could (and did) meet actual people who had contracted Polio.  In 2000, Measles was declared eliminated in the United States.  Now it’s 2019 and Measles is back with a vengeance.  I wonder how long it will be before hospitals have to start setting up Iron Lung Wards again…

The return of Measles can be laid squarely at the feet of a single guy, Andrew Wakefield, who wanted to sell a product.  He was a doctor, once.  He noted that the symptoms of Autism begin to appear around the age vaccines are administered and pretended one caused the other.  He blamed the stabilizers in vaccines.  He wanted to sell his own.  A few people got scared and stopped getting vaccinations – but it only takes a few.  As it happens, inoculations are “herd protections.”  MOST people have to have them in order to work.  People who COULD get them didn’t.  Measles came back.

Science tried to push back, of course.  OTHER doctors explained Wakefield’s position was false, his “study” dangerously flawed.  The General Medical Council of the UK said Wakefield had acted with “callous disregard for the distress and pain the children might suffer” and revoked the evil doctor’s license.  Too late.  Fear replaced reason, as fear does.  Actors started coming out against vaccines.  Actors are people adept at pretending to be other people.  They are not, by and large, physicians.  But that doesn’t matter.  The damage continues…

Perhaps “anti-vax” celebrities never met anyone who had to rely on crutches because they had contracted Polio.  People forget when they don’t have to actually live the lives of the past.  But I see the return of Measles as a symptom of the worst of so-called “Free Market” Capitalism.  See, people know the Capitalists are allowed to lie in order to sell a product.  More to the point, people know the Capitalists WILL lie – aggressively – in order to sell a product.  We KNOW that Capitalism will kill, for real, in the name of profit – and then blame the VICTIM for being killed.

But that uncertainty means that the science of “this will protect your baby” can be offset by the question, “Who profits from the vaccine?”  Private industry lied about lead additives in gasoline and it took YEARS for science to get the correct information out and stop – or a least slow – the damage.  Private industry lied about Chlorofluorocarbons and it took YEARS for science to get the correct information out and stop – or a least slow – the damage.  Private industry lied about cigarettes and it took YEARS for science to get the correct information out and slow the damage.  Private industry is currently lying about climate change and it has taken YEARS for science to try to get the correct information out…

The whole “anti-vax” fraud bothers me because it can be so easily traced back to a certain, single source – one that has been thoroughly debunked.  But I understand how people come to be confused.  Capitalism, it seems, thrives on confusion.  I’ll tell you this, though: living through the reintroduction of suffering in the name of Capitalist profit is a bit heart wrenching…

The Insufferables…

This is not scientific.  Hell, it might not even be right.  But while the politicians are engaging in the legal wrangling of the Mueller Report, here’s a quick tip on how YOU, dear reader, can know if the report exonerated Trump or not.  If the report states clearly that no evidence exists of Russian collusion and the Trump campaign, the AG will “decide” to release the report to the public.  Trump will hold it above his head at every Little Nuremberg rally and shout the findings as loudly and far and wide as possible.  His supporters will be insufferable.

If the report does NOT clearly exonerate Trump, the AG will “decide” NOT to release it but at every Little Nuremberg, Trump will claim the report cleared him as loudly and far and wide as possible.  His supporters will be insufferable…

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Well, Robert Kraft – the owner of the cheatingest team in the history of the NFL – has moved from complete denial to issuing an apology.  Next he’ll accept the plea deal he’s been insisting he’ll never accept and the “ordeal” will be over – for him.  If there is anybody who wants to see Kraft brought down a notch or two, it’s me.  But the media, not surprisingly, have focused on the wrong issue in this ‘Soliciting a Prostitute’ charge.  The story is the women who were trafficked and forced to work the “massage parlor.”  The “deep dive” should be about how criminalizing prostitution creates the environment that allows women to be subjected to forced prostitution in the first place and prevents them from seeking help should they get (or create) the opportunity…

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I saw an opinion piece presented by Neal Brennan on ‘The Daily Show’ in which he took the position that the single-most driving factor in the current rise in Socialism is rich people.  He’s right.  Now, Brennan takes the position that it’s because the rich are such assholes with the money but I don’t think that’s exactly right.  It’s just that they can’t stop stealing from the workers.  No matter how much they have, they think they “deserve” more.  Eventually, there isn’t enough to go around and people start suffering as the direct result of predatory avarice.  It becomes clear – even to the dullest minds – that the rich people have corrupted the current system so people start looking for a new, more fair system.

The thing is, this isn’t the first time the country has come to this point.  The LAST time the Predator Class cornered the market on money, people began calling for Socialism in the form of Communism.  Eugene Debs became a household name.  The Communist party enjoyed it’s greatest success in America with higher numbers in membership than ever before or since.  (The actual practice of Communism had not yet flamed out and proven it couldn’t work.)  The calls became so great, FDR took elements of Socialism and gave the American people just enough protections to settle them down while maintaining Capitalism.  He called it ‘The New Deal.’

To my knowledge, it was the first practical application of Democratic Socialism in history.  I believe it added a hundred years to the story of America.  But rich people didn’t like it and immediately started trying to undo everything FDR had done.  As of this writing, it looks as though they’ve succeeded.

History shows where this story line goes.  Eventually, the masses, angry but desperate more than anything, will rise up.  Historically, what follows is…unpleasant.  But Mr. Brennan is correct that the failures of so-called “free market” Capitalism are the root cause of the revolution.  The rise of Socialism is tied directly to the inability of the rich to contain their rapacity.  When the lopping off of heads begins, the rich will continue to try to point the finger at poor immigrants but in truth, the actual blame belongs to themselves.

Greed kills…

Not the Best, Not the Brightest…

The other day, March 12, 2019, marked the 30th anniversary of the World Wide Web.  Only 30 years before misinformation and propaganda brought down the “greatest country on Earth.”  Not bad, I guess – if that’s your goal.  (And for the richest of the rich, that was TOTALLY the goal…)

Really, between that and Fox “News” it’s a wonder it took them so long.

Americans, as it happens, are not the brightest lights ever to shine.  As a group, I mean.  Sure, there are plenty of bright lights, individually, but as a group…OMG!  Some people will fall for anything and far too many do.

Climate change denial, racism, readiness to take up arms against the government in support of the aristocracy (the actual, long-term goal of conservatism) – all of these have found new energy, a new home, on the Web.

Of course, I can always find out what my friends had for dinner, too, so, there’s that…

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I wish people would stop with the notion that Donny Dumbass won’t leave the Oval office because he’s afraid he would go to jail.  He GOT that ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card when he became President – even if he DID become President thanks to the Russians.

Because America does NOT respect the rule of law, Presidents don’t go to jail.  Poor optics, you know.  All you’ve got to do is consider George W. Bush, aka Bush 43.  People are STILL dying in wars he started in violation of American and international law and he’s home painting.

So, no…Donny won’t go to jail.  His associates will – and have.  His family may very well.  But the worst that may happen to the Trumpster would be a fine.  If you’re going to spend a bunch of time hoping to see him in an orange jumpsuit, you’re going to be disappointed…

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I’m no longer surprised that his supporters remain loyal to him, either.  It’s a matter of faith with them.  They’ve decided to withdraw their faith in that Jesus guy and go with Donny, instead.  (Apparently, Jesus didn’t bring enough hatred and punishment in His message…)

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When it comes to the college admissions scandal the FBI dubbed ‘Operation Varsity Blues’, I don’t believe the kids didn’t know.  It doesn’t matter, of course.  They’re the offspring of rich people.  They’re USED to being coddled and having someone else solve any problems that come their way.  They don’t care.  It’s a “meritocracy”, see?  THEY have the “merit” because their mommy and daddy have money.  So when one kid was told to “act dumb” – well, THAT was easy.  Try telling her to “act smart.”  Let’s see what happens, then.

Anybody who didn’t know before learned about the fixed rules from Bush 43, the genius who attacked Afghanistan AND Iraq in response to an attack from Saudi Arabia.  That’s some quality education HE got from Harvard, yes?  He was quite open about the fact that he benifitted from a ‘legacy admission’ and a “Gentlemen’s C.”  A ‘legacy admission’ means he got to go because someone ELSE once “earned” their way in and a “Gentlemen’s C” is a passing grade he received because his family built a building.

When you think about it, the Ivy League schools are often little more than diploma factories.  The family pays, the kid gets a sheepskin.  Why make them show up at all?  Why not just send the money and get the diploma?  Oh, I know – the parents don’t want to rob the child of the “college experience”…

For me, the Ivy League has reduced itself to the same position as cops and Catholic Priests.  Because of the closed ranks and coverups involved, NOBODY can know who’s good and who’s bad, who’s safe and who’s not, who did the work and who bought the degree.  Which cop is a killer and which is an honorable person?  I wouldn’t leave my kid with ANY Catholic Priest.  If I was hiring for my company and two applicants came in, one with a degree from the local community college and the other with a “degree” from one of these Ivy League schools – I’d take the local guy…

Facepalm…

I don’t normally have occasion to log on to Facebook during the day so I can’t say, for sure, what’s normal and what isn’t.  But I tried yesterday and was surprised to find I couldn’t log on at all.  Instead, I was sent to a page saying Facebook was down for routine maintenance.  Really?   In the middle of the day?  A day you could have to scoop up more user data to use against your users?  THAT’S when you schedule “routine maintenance?”  That doesn’t seem right…

Elizabeth Warren put out a position that suggested the largest tech companies, like Facebook, should be broken up.  She bought ads supporting the position – on Facebook.  Facebook took the ads down.  Well, for awhile, anyway.  They claimed the ads violated Facebook’s terms by using the Facebook logo.  Facebook was eventually forced to return the ads.  Democrats were very upset.  Apparently, they think it’s unfair as hell for an oversight organization to use it’s controlling position to affect the outcome of a campaign.  They seem to have missed the irony entirely…

But Warren’s ads wouldn’t crash Facebook.  Why would Facebook be down in the middle of a normal, data-collecting, profit-enhancing day?
“There are profits to be made, here, people!  If our system is down and the Sheeple can’t log on we’re not going to – wait, what?  Investigation?  What investigation?”

ZuckFace
ZuckFace lying to Congress…

So, as it happens, Federal prosecutors have opened an investigation of Facebook.  Remember when Facebook allowed Cambridge Analytica to go rooting around in your private parts for profit?  When they got caught, they promised (a standard, Facebook “promise”) that they’d never, ever, cross-our-hearts-hope-to-die do it again.  English can be so tricky.  Apparently, the “it” they promised to never do again was “get caught” but we were all supposed to think they meant they were going to stop sharing data with third parties.

I write these little missives in WordPress.  They used to post automatically to my Facebook page.  After Cambridge Analytica, that convenience was eliminated – you know, to “protect” me.  Now I have to copy and paste the link if I want to reach people on Facebook.  But it turns out, Facebook never cut off access to the big players in the data collection market.  To quote from the Guardian: “Facebook gave companies including Netflix, Spotify, Microsoft, Sony and Amazon the ability to access user data long after it had stopped sharing data with most third-parties…

Is it at all possible that Facebook was down in the middle of the day because so much had to be done to clean up the site so quickly they couldn’t do it under “normal” operating conditions?

Now, if you would all please take out your ‘Corporate Excuse Hymnal’ and turn to ‘Facebook.’  Please, recite with me; “We know you trusted us and we failed in our responsibility.  In trying to provide the best user experience for you, we accidentally allowed people with ill-intent to use your data for profit.  (Fanning his face) Oh, my!  Why, I may just…swoon at the error!  That’s on us and we’re looking into taking steps to correct the situation going forward…”

There, now.  Don’t we all feel better?

Changing Times…

There’s another effort underway to move California to a single, year-round time – no clock changes.  I really like the idea.  The thing is, people keep trying to move it to Daylight Saving Time year round, not “Standard” Time.  You can check this but when Bush 43 screwed up time by changing the start and end of DST, it cost the country MORE in fuel – even though the words spoken were about SAVING fuel.  Hmm, is it possible the oil man just made an honest mistake?

The reason is simple: people don’t have the ability to make choices about the mornings the way we do about the evenings.  If politicians move the darkness forward, when we HAVE to get up and get going to work, it forces most of us to use more electricity for lighting and fuel for heating.  Ah, Crapitalism…

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The vape company, Juul, is running a commercial that really irritates me.  It has a woman talking like one of those “use our product to quit smoking” ads but speaking only of “switching” from cigarettes to the Juul.  She even uses the line, “Nobody thought I could switch.”  Really?  Nobody thought you could get your nicotine from one source over another?  How stupid are the people around you?  And, really, just how stupid do the people at Juul think Americans are?  (Please don’t answer that question.  The full depth of American stupidity has yet to be plumbed…)

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WHAT WE ARE, WHAT WE’RE NOT:
The United States is NOT a “meritocracy.”  That’s just a comforting story the hyper-wealthy feed into the national consciousness to stroke their own egos.  It reinforces the fiction that THEY got to where they are by their own “pluck” and hard work.  Sure, it almost always included hard work.  The thing is it’s someone else doing the “hard work.”  There are precious few mega-fortunes that were NOT built through crime and/or wage theft.  The story enjoys the nice side benefit of pretending that those who are NOT obscenely wealthy “deserve” their lower position because, obviously, only the meritorious “earn” their way to the top.

But the “meritocracy” tale is destroyed the instant some thieving rich guy hands his useless children the fruits of his crimes…

The United States is NOT a “nation that respects the rule of law,” either.  As long as wealth and/or skin color dictates the outcome of trials and the severity of sentences, the rule of law is nothing but a slogan used to oppress the non-wealthy and people of color…

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Okay, I recognize it has taken me awhile but I’ve finally settled on a life dream: I want to found a town, named after myself.  I plan to call it ‘Baconburg.’  People who live there would be ‘Baconburgers’…

Whose in?