Security Insecurity…

Alright, this is getting stupid.  Our National Shame is SO focused on his useless vanity wall he’s letting security go at nearly EVERY other level.  A certain segment of our population is screaming about the dangers of uncontrolled immigration and simultaneously reducing controls on who enters this country and how – all because they’re terrified of people coming to this country and requesting asylum legally.

TSA agents across the land aren’t getting paid but they still have to pay their bills so they’re calling in sick and doing “gig” work.  (“Gig” work is the new term in this vulture economy.  It’s a euphemism for “you’re on  your own.”)  Homeland Security isn’t funded.  Think about that.  Homeland Security isn’t funded because of a temper tantrum over…well, the security of the homeland.  This, despite the fact that the security of the homeland is pretty much as solid as it’s been since 9/11.

As it happens, people running for their lives and begging for help don’t really represent a threat and it doesn’t matter how many times a certain segment of our population says otherwise.

Truthfully, I’m conflicted.  I’m enjoying watching Pelosi hand Trump his ass over his vanity wall.  I even enjoy seeing his petty little responses.  They’re so…revealing.  As in, he revealed a Congressional trip to Afghanistan, a violation of security.  But then, MY income isn’t affected, yet.  I feel for the people who aren’t getting paid and I’m concerned about the inevitable ripple effect.

Trump insists he’s going to save this country if he has to destroy the country to do it…

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I really love AOC.  No, not the Architect of the Capitol.  I mean Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.  Holy gods has she got everyone in a dither.  The right effing hates her because she’s the personification of progressive values.  The Democrats effing hate her because she’s the personification of progressive values.  Progressives love her.

She’s a young, minority woman.  Three straight strikes, if you’re an old white man.  People keep trying to smack her down but they keep missing the mark.  What?  She dances?  DANCES?!?  She knows about marginal tax brackets!  So, of course, the right insists she doesn’t understand marginal tax brackets.  She’s opposed to incremental baby steps, the current buzz-phrase Democrats are using meaning “do nothing to upset the status quo.”

Sure, it’s fun but it’s dangerous.  Sooner or later, one of those salvos from the left or the right is going to land…

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So…IS Bernie personally responsible for claims of sexual harassment in his campaign?  No.  Unless HE did it, or one can prove he did nothing when he learned of it.  But that doesn’t stop the left – yes, the left – from attacking him aggressively over it.  Dems fear Bernie for the same reason they fear AOC.  It’s all that…progressiveness…when all they want to do is maintain the oligarchy as currently structured.  Sure, because it’s working so well for so many people.  I suspect it’s the left that’s keeping these charges alive in an effort to smear him…

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Dems are starting to come out of the woodwork running for President.  I think there’s a sense that just showing up might be enough to beat Putin’s Puppet.  Okay, hyperbole alert, there.  But the mood seems to be – unless one is a dedicated, dyed-in-the-wool Trump supporter – people want him OUT.  The right person with the right message has a real opportunity.

According to Rolling Stone, there are currently 27 candidates running or considering a run.  So far, no word from Hillary.

I think the ONLY chance Trump has of re-election is if the Dems and Progressives re-ignite the Dem wars of 2016.  So, of course, you can bet the opposition is going to fuel the divide.  Sadly, it’s not going to be too hard, either.  Dems are dug in: it’s NOT going to be a Progressive.  Progressives are dug in, too: we can no longer afford non-progressive politics.

Of course, it’s FAR too early to say who the best candidate might be.  I’d prefer someone younger to someone older – but Nancy Pelosi has certainly made a case that an… “experienced” politician has value in politics.  I’d prefer a Progressive, whether a Democrat or just someone running AS a Democrat.

Both the Republicans and Democrats can breath at least ONE sigh of relief: according to the Constitution, AOC is still too young to run for President…

The Truth of Automation…

A few years ago, back when the $15/hour movement started, a photo started floating around the web.  It wasn’t necessarily THIS photo but it looked something like this:

mcdonaldsautomated-2005

That’s an automated McDonald’s ordering system.  The photo was intended as a threat: “Demand an honest wage,” the message went, “and we’ll just automate your job away entirely.”  As with all things rich vs. poor, it’s a lie.  Here’s why:

The $15/hour movement got started around 2015 (and even at that would have left countless people below the poverty line).  That photo is dated 2005.  This is the web; maybe it was a typo but the caption noted that it was a prototype, the wave of the future.

I don’t mean to put too fine a point on this but the concept of a for-profit business is, well, to make profit.  Consider that an axiom.  It means that a business should, by rights, do any and every legal thing it can do to create profit.  The wealth hoarders at the top usually view the workers who generate the revenues as leeches and ALWAYS view the ‘Employee Compensation’ line on the P&L as a “problem.”  (Curiously, not the ‘Executive Compensation’ part, just the ‘Worker’ part…)

That means that automation is coming whether or not the corporation pays an honest wage.  There are two – and only two – considerations on the topic: dependability and public acceptance.  The corporation is already chipping away at the ‘acceptance’ part by offering these kiosks as “conveniences.” (As we know, today’s “convenience” is tomorrow’s “Screw you, YOU do it!”)  The very moment the ‘dependability’ part catches up, you’ll see fully automated McDonald’s everywhere you look – without regard to the pay rate of the workers.

Paying the workers an honest wage – or not – never enters into the equation.  Sooner or later, those workers are going to be out of a job as a result of automation.  The ONLY thing that will result from the lack of honest pay is that the workers’ plight will be worsened when they’re finally cut loose.  If they were paid an honest living wage while the transition to automation occurred, they’d be better positioned to absorb the loss of that job while they find another one.

I’ll tell you this: I don’t know about you but I’m kind of tired of all of the fraudulent excuses and stories being peddled in an attempt to justify theft from the workers…

Dedication, Bad and Good…

I’ve got to hand it to them, the Trump base.  Mexico has (stunningly) failed to write a check for his stupid border wall.  Hmm, who could have guessed?  Now, the Democrats won’t pay for it, either, based on nothing more than the fact that it won’t work.  So, some enterprising individual, a guy named Brian Kolfage, set up a GoFundMe account to raise the cash from the rubes who simply WILL NOT accept that ladders defeat walls.  The entire account was only trying to raise one-fifth of the Trump demand and they only raised a fraction of that amount – but still, it was a LOT.

Predictably, the account didn’t reach it’s goal.  Now, the goal has been shifted to an attempt to build the wall privately.  (The original campaign was to give the money to the Trump maladministration.)  But the people who donated to the original campaign have to actively opt-in or they get a refund.  It turns out, though, that Mr. Kolfage may not have cared one way or the other whether the wall campaign ever succeeded.  HE, apparently, just wanted a new, updated database of conservative email addresses he can use to raise funds for other conservative issues and even to sell.

So, essentially, conservatives have actually paid someone to sell their email addresses to other commercial interests so they can be buried in SPAM…

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One of the many and varied lies Capitalists tell to justify their greed is that they get to keep all of the revenue somebody else generated because THEY (the rich person) “took the risk” when they set up the business.  Did they?  Well, yeah, sure, they did take a risk.  But was it a BIGGER risk than the employee who went to work for a business that might fail?  I don’t think so.  In my experience, it was a much smaller risk.  The people at the top of the economic pyramid usually have financial back-up plans.  They get golden parachutes.  If the company fails, the owners get cashed-out.  The workers just get out, often with little or nothing to show for their efforts…

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I got a little worked this week watching law enforcement officials in Wisconsin talking about their heroic efforts to bring home a kidnapped 13 year-old girl.  Each department took turns congratulating themselves and other departments for their dedication and determination and how all of that dedication and determination brought the girl home.  But you know what?  They didn’t!

Look, for the most part, I respect cops and the work they do.  I have no doubt they were trying to find her…but they didn’t.  They didn’t know where she was.  They didn’t know who took her.  They didn’t know who killed her parents.  If SHE hadn’t escaped and sought help, they might never have found her OR the perpetrator (a white guy, btw).  Yet, there they were, “Oh, MAN, we did a great job!”

I think they should have cranked up the ‘Humble Pie’ knob a bit and given props to the young lady – who saved herself…

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A young cop got murdered on the streets of California this last week.  Police followed a trail that led to the home of the perpetrator who, very graciously, killed himself, saving the state huge money in trials and incarceration.  We started hearing tons about the cop; how she was new, dedicated, and looking forward to following in her father’s footsteps.  From a media standpoint, it didn’t hurt that she was VERY telegenic.  But we heard nothing about the killer.

At some point, that became suspicious, to me.  They had his body.  They knew who he was.  Yet we heard nothing.  I began saying, out loud, “This guy is white or we’d already know everything there is to know about him.”  (I didn’t even need anyone else in the room.  I just said it, out loud…)

Guess what?  White.  Coincidentally, named Limbaugh. (Relationship unknown, though he DID live in Florida for a time…)

So, we’ll get a day, maybe two, telling us about how he was “troubled” and what a tragedy this is.  If he had been some darker shade of brown, though, we would have been treated to at least a week – possibly two – detailing how his inherent violence wrought havoc on “our” peaceful way of life.

Racism is one of the United States’ prime sources of dishonor.  We were born a racist nation and elements among us have worked tirelessly to ensure we never, ever outgrow it.

Thankfully, there are intelligent, empathetic people in America, too…

Inequality…

I, of course, knew that I was going to write about income inequality this morning.  I’m tired of it and I’m tired of seeing (and living) the consequences of unbridled greed by the thieves at the top of the money pile.  I’m tired of pretending that the greatest fortunes of our society (or any society, for that matter) were created by the person who amassed them through pluck, determination, and hard work.  Those stories are fictions presented by the people who want you to believe.

One part is true, of course.  The “hard work” part.  Someone did the “hard work.”  My issue is, it’s almost NEVER the person who keeps the vast majority of the proceeds for themselves.  In short, those fortunes are – more often than not – the result of outright theft.

So I got up this morning and discovered that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC from here on in…) has discussed a top tax rate of 73%.  Awesome.  I see an opinion piece from leading economist Paul Krugman defending AOC’s suggestion.  I’m heartened.  There ARE people out there who understand that allowing the richest to keep all the wealth produced by other people’s labor benefits nobody but the richest, doing incredible harm to everyone else.

I ALSO saw a hit piece written by the insanely crazy CATO Institute suggesting – against every available piece of verifiable information – that FDR’s New Deal actually harmed most Americans.  (I  really couldn’t believe it.  The New Deal was the economic model that made America into the greatest economy the world had ever seen…)  Conservatives will believe it, though, because conservatives have been fed a steady stream of falsehood and lies for so long, the stories seem, to conservatives, like they must be true.  But the CATO position is NOT true.  It doesn’t even take much research to discover the fact but, being honest, here, conservatives aren’t exactly known for their willingness to do their own research.

The information in those preceeding two paragraphs gives me hope.  Americans are starting to wise up and dropping their fear of saying – out loud – Supply Side Economics is bullshit and we want a NEW New Deal.  The thieving ‘Have-mores’ must also be detecting the whiffs of inequality fatigue so they’re sending out marching orders to their think tanks to undermine…well…facts and rational thought.

I expect to be writing about income inequality quite a bit, now, with more detail and specific focus on specific issues.  For now, I think I just want to enjoy feeling hopeful for a change…

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Presidumb Trump seems to really believe he can stop paying Federal workers for months and possibly years without consequence.  (Don’t lose sight of the fact that while the Federal workers will eventually be reimbursed, the privatized contract workers will not.  There WILL be economic consequences to his stubborn wrongheadedness…)  He says he thinks those workers are perfectly willing to lose everything they have in life in support of his stupid, misguided wall.  He might be right.  His base is not fact-based.  They’re faith-based and faith-based believers are often…unpredictable.

For me, I’ll be interested to see how long his base holds.  It’s one thing to support philosophical positions when they’re abstract.  It’s an entirely different ball of wax when it’s your own livelihood and well-being.  When they get evicted because they can’t pay the rent, they’re going to KNOW they’ve been evicted because they didn’t get paid.  Will they REALLY continue to support him in his quest to squander billions of dollars on a vanity project that won’t change anything with regards to immigration?  Sections of his barrier already exist.  People are already going over, under, and even through the fences.  Yeah, let’s throw more money at that…

I’ll tell you this: I suspect the Trump Shutdown is going to end with little or no wall money so the only real questions are: how much personal damage is the base going to accept and how much damage is the GOP going to allow Trump to do to the brand before they step up and reign him in?

An Allegory…

The Dangling Man
A man, Amerigo by name, is standing on the edge of a cliff, enjoying the view.  Without warning, the ground under his feet gives way.  As the man falls, he manages to grab a now-exposed root and finds himself dangling high above an abyss.  He tries to pull himself up but, for various reasons, he can’t get a foothold.  He begins to call out for help.

A Republican shows up and eventually understands the situation.
“Use your bootstraps,” the Republican shouts to The Dangling Man…
Then, he leaves.

A Democrat happens on the scene.  He hears the cries for help and investigates, finding The Dangling Man clinging desperately to the root.
“Hang on,” the Democrat says.  “I’ve got a rope.”
The Dangling Man feels a rush of relief, hopeful the Democrat will save him.  “Hurry, please!” replies The Dangling Man.  “I don’t know how much longer I can hold on…”
Using incremental, baby steps, the Democrat goes to his car, carefully selects a rope, and ties it off safely.  Then he begins to unwind the rope, one coil at a time.
“Please…hurry!” The Dangling Man calls.  “My fingers are numb and I’m slipping…”
“I’m moving as quickly as prudence dictates,” replies the Democrat.  “If I don’t do this carefully, incrementally, unforeseen problems might arise.  What if my rope gets a kink in it or something?”
The Dangling Man realizes he won’t be able to survive at this rate.  The Democrat is simply moving too slowly.  The Dangling Man once again calls out for help.

A Progressive shows up.  It takes only a split-second for the Progressive to summarize the situation.  He runs to the edge of the cliff and, securing himself against a tree, reaches his hand down to The Dangling Man.
“Take my hand,” the Progressive says.  “I’ll get you out of this mess…”
“Thank God you’re here,” The Dangling Man says.  “That guy said he would help but he’s taking so long…I was sure I was going to die…”

The Democrat sees the Progressive reaching down toward the man and knows exactly what he has to do.  In a blur of motion, the Democrat drops the rope and runs to where the Progressive is – and pushes him off the cliff and into the abyss.
“What are you doing?” The Dangling Man demands.  “He was trying to help me!”
“Oh, sure,” the Democrat says, “he said he wanted to help but he didn’t even have a plan.”
“He HAD a plan,” the Dangling Man shouts.  “He was just going to pull me up!”
“That wasn’t a plan, that was just a reaction,” replied the Democrat.  “He could never have pulled it off.”
“He could have with your help!  Why did you push him off the cliff?”
“I’ve already told you,” the Democrat scolds.  “If we don’t do this incrementally, in baby steps, something might go wrong.”
“I can’t wait any longer!” The Dangling Man declares.  “I need help right now!”
“Purist!” the Democrat scoffs, walking back to his rope.  “I told you I was bringing help…”

When, finally, he got his rope to the edge, no one was there.  The Dangling Man was gone.

To this day, the Democrat doesn’t understand what happened…

Killing and Dying…

Generally speaking, I hold that in order for a transaction to be honestly Capitalist, both parties must have a legitimate ability to say no.  CLEARLY, this is not the case with health care.  So, I support universal health care.  Specifically, Bernie’s proposal for Medicare for all.  Why re-invent the wheel, right?

Okay, so this right-wing activist “judge,” Reed O’Connor, rules in his “court” that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional.  (As it happens, he’s a shill for right-wing causes and heavily involved with the Federalist Society…)  In my opinion, that’s bad.  But I was never a fan of the ACA.  I know it was originally proffered by the far-right Heritage Foundation as an alternative to universal health care back when Bill asked Hillary to pretend to look into it in the 1990’s.  (Not surprisingly, she failed…)

The ACA became known, popularly, as ‘Obamacare.’  Most people benefit from it.  Conservatives hate Obamacare, though they LOVE the Affordable Care Act.  (Why, yes.  You CAN use that as a gauge regarding their level of understanding of…things…)  This activist judge’s ruling will, of course, cause pain to huge swaths of our country.  As with all things conservative, the vast majority of people will suffer.  Many will die.

But I suspect that by striking down the ACA, this Texican “judge” has inadvertently opened the door to Medicare for all.  Sooner or later, the United States is going to have to join the rest of civilized humanity and provide universal health care as a right, not another obligation to pay…

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The National Shame has named Mick Mulvaney to be his next Chief of Staff.  Apparently, Mulvaney is expected to continue in his current role as Director of the Office of Management and Budget as well.

That’s a good insight into how hard these people are working, isn’t it?  Mulvaney can do TWO jobs, each of which normally consume inordinate amounts of time?  My guess is Mulvaney will be COSINO (Chief of Staff In Name Only).  Look for Kushner to do the job until his court dates start piling up and, after his conviction, perhaps Ivanka will take over – you know, until HER conviction…

“Drain the swamp,” indeed.  It sure seems to me that Trump is trying his best to out-do Reagan when it comes to number of administration members who end up in prison.  True, he’s on a pretty solid run at this point but Reagan had eight years to send his 138 people to prison.  I don’t think Trump is going to have the time needed to make it a true competition…

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Donald J. Trump is now killing children at the border.  Well, he’s not doing it personally.  He’s a coward.  He would NEVER do it personally.  But his racist policies are getting the job done for him.

US and international law allows for people to seek asylum.  The Orange Foolius declaring them “illegals” and refusing their requests is, itself, a crime.  Now someone – a child named Jakelin Caal – has died as a direct result.  Can we add involuntary manslaughter to his list of crimes?

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I think the NFL is going to end up paying Colin Kaepernick a HUGE amount of money when they finally have to settle his lawsuit and it’s just arrogant stupidity that’s causing it.  ALL THEY HAD TO DO was sign him to some team – any team.  But when Alex Smith and then his backup went down in Washington, the professional football team there signed two career “also-ran” Quarterbacks.  There can be no question the NFL is colluding against Kaepernick in retaliation for Kaep’s stance on police brutality…

I’ll tell you this: the NFL employs a LOT of people of color.  One would think they would at least put on a show of support for a protest opposing the wanton murders of people of color…

Better and Worse…

I’m kind of over the whole Kevin Hart kerfuffle.  Yeah, I know.  He posted some stupid jokes years ago that were anti-LGBTQ.  So, how many times does he have to apologize before the apology is accepted?  Maya Angelou said that when you know better, you do better.  His comments back then represented a certain ignorance but he seems to have learned.  Now he knows better and he’s doing better.  Human growth.  We don’t all start out in the perfect position on every issue every time…

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According to the Guardian, Tucker Carlson of all people may be turning on Trump.  Carlson has been quoted as saying he doesn’t think Trump is capable of getting legislation through Congress because he doesn’t know how and cites what he calls failures of the current “President.”

If Trump is losing Fox “News”, he’s in a world of hurt…

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I see that the driver of the car in Charlottesville has been convicted of murder.  It’s the right call.  This case has become my “go-to” when I describe the difference in the news media between what people see inside the conservative bubble and what people see outside of the conservative bubble.  We all saw the same video but inside the conservative bubble, they saw an edited version.  It left out the part about the guy sitting still; alone in his car with no one around him.  All the cons saw was a guy running from the “crazy” libs who were shouting and throwing things at him and hitting his car so, obviously, he was scared and running for safety.  They had seen it with their own eyes!  We argued about it for quite some time…

But what they had seen was a falsehood packaged just for them.  Now that the courts have considered the entire video his guilt was clear.  I will continue to use the case to highlight the fact that left and right are NOT receiving the same information.  The enemy of the people is not left or right.  The enemy is the corporate media going to so much trouble to sow discontent.  Reagan started the process of the destruction of our independent media but Clinton finished it so it’s not a partisan problem.  It’s an American problem…

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It’s starting to look a bit like the swamp is going to be drained despite Trump’s best efforts to fill it with swamp monsters.  The tide of evidence is rising against him and I think HE’S going to be…well…swamped.  No, he won’t be going to jail.  America doesn’t jail her ex-presidents regardless of their crimes.  (Just ask international war criminal Bush 43.)  But it’s looking more and more like the House is going to have to draw up Articles of Impeachment.  So how long can the corrupt Republican Senate refuse to act on them and hope to retain their own phony-baloney jobs? I’m anticipating an announcement that he needs to spend more time running his businesses and step down.

With Nancy Pelosi set to take over as Speaker of the House, if the investigation snares Pence and HE has to step down, we could end up with a Democratic President before 2020.  Yeah, it’s a pipe-dream but, for some reason, I find it comforting…

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These days, when a President leaves office, he gets to become FABULOUSLY wealthy.  Trump might break THAT precedent as well.  He might be the first President of the modern era who actually loses money for having been the President.  There are several legal battles he’s going to need to fight.  Tax agencies are coming after back taxes he owes (according to the NY Times).  Worse, the false image he’s worked so hard to cultivate through the years has been shattered.  Everybody outside of the conservative bubble understands the guy is nothing more than a flimflam man and I think his patrons will leave him behind once he becomes useless to them…