Deep Cuts…

The Recall Scam
I recently wrote a piece questioning why the cons are so interested in wasting money on a recall campaign against Gavin Newsom. $400 Million dollars just to be able to say they had brought down another duly elected Democratic governor on false pretenses seems…excessive. I guess I should have thought about it longer because I’ve thought of at least one other thing – and it’s big. Dianne Feinstein. No, I don’t mean Dianne is big. She seems normal sized to me. But you know what else she is? Old. Like, WAY old.

Age, in and of itself, of course, is no indicator of incompetence. I know many people in their 80’s and 90’s who are doing quite well, thank you very much. But the reality is, age doesn’t impact all of us in the same ways and it seems to be taking a harsh toll on the senior Senator from California. There are many reports that she’s not tracking well. To be clear, she’s not Reagan-deep in Alzheimer’s but, according to reports, she’s showing signs of dementia.

So…ONE possible reason to have a Republican governor sitting in the Governor’s chair is that if Feinstein has to step down in the next year or so, a Republican Governor would replace her with a Republican Senator, thereby flipping the balance of power in the Senate and subjecting everyone to more Republican obstruction governance (best described as comforting the comfortable and afflicting the afflicted). That might be worth $400 million dollars to Republicans. (Especially since they don’t have to pay it…)

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Accessory to Murder?
I’ve seen in the news that the people who were supposed to be guarding and monitoring Jeffery Epstein while he was in jail have now admitted that, well, they didn’t. They didn’t guard him. They didn’t protect him. They didn’t even monitor him. For a given period of time, they looked the other way. Then, they falsified the records. Now, the guards have reached a plea deal and they won’t be going to jail for their “failures.” That bothers me. It feels like just one more ‘that doesn’t track’ in a story that, well, just doesn’t track. These guys confess to taking a powder when their primary charge just coincidentally ends up dead and all they face is a slap on the wrist? The official claim is that Epstein hanged himself but there’s a lot of ‘doesn’t track’ around that story. Now, the fact that the jailers were intentionally looking away supports the suspicion that Epstein, perhaps, did not kill himself. That Epstein guy clearly threatened a LOT of very rich and very powerful people. That’s all we know for sure…

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B-sides and Deep Cuts
I write songs. No, nothing you’ve ever heard but I write ’em anyway. Sometimes, I write a song and think, “Well, maybe it’s a B-side.” The phrase is archaic. (Sadly, in many ways, so am I…) I recently purchased a new CD player. (Yes, really.) I popped in a disc (Why yes, I DO still have discs) and went about my business. I did NOT push the magic “shuffle” button. I was just listening to the collection of music put out by a given musician – the albums.

While I was listening, I had a realization. We have lost (or very nearly lost) something we didn’t even realize we were losing: B-sides and Deep Cuts. See, in the old days (dinosaurs pulling our Conestoga wagons while we listened to our 45’s) people bought music in, basically, one of two formats. Either you bought a full album (10 – 15 songs) or you bought the 45, a “single” track, the hit song. An artist (or group) would go out and record a collection of music. A team of professionals from the record company would pick and choose the “best” songs and put them in the collection AND pick which of the songs had the greatest “hit” potential. The song chosen by the “experts” would then be the radio song the record company put out to promote the album. It usually became the most well-known song on the album.

Commonly, though, it was NOT the BEST song. It was just the most commercial song, the song the company thought would make the most money. I can’t tell you how many times I discovered songs on an album that I liked FAR more than the “headline” song. (In fairness, some albums were pure crap but for the “hit”…) Vinyl discs back then were two-sided beasts. One would listen to one side, then physically turn the disc over and listen to the other side. The two were usually labeled ‘Side A’ and ‘Side B,’ see? Even if you bought only the 45, the song you wanted was the A-side but the format required a song on the other side, too. So, they’d slap on a song nobody expected to be a commercial success and sent the thing out.

The experts weren’t always right about the commercial successes. Elvis Presley’s version of ‘Hound Dog’ was originally a B-side of ‘Don’t Be Cruel.’ The Rolling Stones’ ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ was a B-side to ‘Honky Tonk Woman.’ Rod Stewart’s ‘Maggie May’ was a B-side to ‘Reason To Believe.’ The Beatles, it seems, never even tried for the knock-off B-side. They have several B-side songs that became famous. (‘I Saw Her Standing There’, ‘I Am The Walrus’, ‘Revolution’) I play rhythm guitar and sing in a band and we recently decided to learn a Led Zeppelin song called “Hey, Hey, What Can I Do?” I mentioned it to one of my known Led Zeppelin fan friends who didn’t even recognize the name. When I looked into why, it turned out the song was a B-side of a song Zep released in 1970 but only in the UK and it was never included on any album during the Led Zeppelin heyday. It was finally released in the US in the 1990’s in a boxed set.

And those are just the singles, the 45s. When one put on an entire album it was common to find songs buried in the collection that appealed more or were just plain better songs – if not more commercial songs. THOSE were called “Deep Cuts.” Some of my all-time favorite songs are Deep Cuts – songs few, if any, people would ever had heard in an environment of selling only the hits – the environment we live in today. By and large, people don’t listen to collections anymore. Heard a song you like? Log onto iTunes and download the hit. That’s it, that’s what you get. Not even a B-side.

There’s one more album phenomenon that has been lost – concept albums. From time to time, an artist would write a collection of songs that, together, told an entire story. Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish You Were Here’ is one. The Who had one called ‘Tommy’ that actually became a movie and a play. One of my personal favorites is from Alice Cooper and is called ‘Alice Cooper Goes To Hell.’ It’s just a “then I woke up” story but it’s all done in a collection of songs, any one of which stands alone as an individual song. (That particular album produced ‘I’ll Never Cry,’ one of Cooper’s bigger hits.)

It leaves a guy like me wondering how much great music we’re missing out on because some record executive out there doesn’t see commercial potential…

Governing…

I keep seeing stories saying Matthew McConaughey is going to run for governor of Texas. I have nothing against Mr. McConaughey. He seems like a smart, well-informed guy. But…he IS an actor. One would think, after the debacle that was the CheetoJesus, most Americans would be over the, “Hey, let’s elect someone who hasn’t got a clue!” trend. What other job do you hire for based on the notion that the prospective candidate has never done it – or anything LIKE it? On the job training as Governor of Texas seems like a risky ploy at best. In fairness, the last few governors of Texas have SEEMED like they had no clue about how to govern, either, so maybe Matthew’s lack of experience won’t matter.

Here in California, we have our own gubernatorial problems. No, despite what the cons say, the problem is not Newsom. In fact, I would say the problem IS the cons. They managed, in the conservative corners of the state, to get a recall on the ballot because the bar to initiate a recall is so low. As we already know, the conservatives KNOW they can’t win with ideas so they’ve turned to cheating in every way possible. Technically, initiating a recall isn’t cheating. It’s more of an attempted “work-around.” It’s also a waste of time and money.

Even if a con wins, he or she won’t have time to actually DO anything – particularly with a Democratic controlled legislature. It will be a less-than-one year posting. Then? A whole new election takes place. So I’m not sure I see the point beyond being able to claim they did it. They MAY be able to stop something here and there but even that’s not likely. Hell, they won’t even have time to engage in their favorite pastime, harming defenseless people.

Everyone assumes Gavin has his eye on the Oval Office. He has been a steady political climber going way back. (OMG, he has…experience? The horror!) THAT is probably the biggest reason to move forward with this waste of resources, the potential harm it might do to Gavin Newsom’s political future. (It won’t.) My prediction is that Gavin is going to survive the recall attempt. Rational people know that the Covid-19 response was a top-down fiasco. When CheetoJesus so completely mismanaged…well, the country, really, but the initial pandemic, most governors had to scramble and create programs as they went. There was some confusion. Things didn’t go as well as they should have, could have, or even did in the past. Most people recognize that as a breakdown of leadership from the Dumbass, not from Newsom.

Truthfully, I think the cons blew this one. EVERYONE was angry at Gavin’s French Laundry error. His own party might have voted him out, given the chance. But with the cons running around this once-great nation undermining elections and the process and doing everything they can to distort reality, people were forced to re-think their positions on Newsom. In truth, I think the cons did Newsom a great favor. The recall-without-basis effort put the French Laundry misstep into perspective. Yeah, sure, it was stupid – arrogant, even. Rich people being rich people. But when forced to confront the alternatives, maybe not so bad, after all. I wrote at the time that it was going to be an expensive mistake and now we’re looking at a possible 400 million dollar expenditure for a recall election to remove him one year early. (He CAN run again in the next, normal Gubernatorial race.) But I’m laying the wasted money at the feet of the cons. There was no need for this.

If YOU want to be governor and you’re an American citizen who has NOT completed two full terms as California Governor and who has never been convicted of offering or accepting bribes or embezzlement, all you have to do is pay the $3,916.12 filing fee and – voila! – you’re on the ballot. The tricky part will be getting the most votes. That part is up to you.

The field is still fleshing out but so far, the cons who want to get in the easy way consist of the former Mayor of San Diego, Kevin Faulconer – buddies with pseudo-GOP trumpster Kevin McCarthy. I’m sure the trump connection will serve him well in California.

Also on offer? Businessman John Cox, the guy Newsom beat (destroyed, really) in the last race. Conservatives still think a businessman (emphasis on “man”) is the best person for the job because both business and governing use the words “fiscal” and “budget” so, as far as conservatives are concerned, both jobs are exactly the same! Smart people know they are not the same. He has run for – and LOST – a LOT of offices both nationally and in California. THIS time around he’s using a caged or tethered live bear as a political prop. I MIGHT give him a sympathy vote if the bear attacks him. (No. Really, I’d applaud the bear…)

There’s also a businessman named Doug Ose running. He served in the House of Representatives during the Bush 43 maladministration so at least he has some political experience which, by definition, disqualifies him among the conservative base AND exposes him as a far-right con to everyone else.

Also able to pony up $4,000 – Caitlyn Jenner is running. No. Nobody asked her to. Caitlyn Jenner is a transsexual woman who has come out publicly AGAINST transsexual issues. She’s not likely to garner support from the transsexual crowd if she stands against them. She’s not likely to garner support from mainstream conservatives BECAUSE of her transsexual status, convinced as they are that she only did it so she could go into women’s restrooms, and she’s not likely to garner support from thinking Californians because we already know her to be a bat-shit crazy trumpster. On the up side, California has $4,000 dollars it didn’t have before…

I’ll be voting ‘no’ on the recall. But the second half of the ballot requires the voter to choose who should succeed Newsom should he be recalled. I hope you’ll join me in casting YOUR ballot for retired porn actress Mary Carey.

A photo of Mary Carey

No, I’ve never seen her work. She last ran for Governor in 2003, when Gray Davis was being recalled. She apparently has a plan to address ALL of California’s “hot-button” issues. She wants to tax breast implants (which, presumably, would cost her a LOT of money) but make lap dances tax deductible. (I confess, I’m not clear on exactly WHO gets the deduction.) She wants to create a “porn-for-pistols” program in an effort to fight gun violence. She wants to let bars stay open until 4 am. She wants to make people receiving unemployment checks do jury duty for their “pay.” She also wants to stand up to John Ashcroft’s attacks on the porn industry AND she wants to address the AIDS epidemic. Yeah, it’s a little difficult getting up-to-the-minute details on some of her…um…positions.

I’ll tell you this: I don’t think she’s qualified and even SHE acknowledges the recall is a waste of time and resources but if Californians are going to get screwed in this thing at least it will be by someone who knows what she’s doing…

Party’s Over…

Like many people in this once-great nation, I’ve been watching the Liz Cheney debacle play out and wondering if the Republican party was going to be able to save itself. Then I remembered. Donald Trump destroys everything he touches. Everything. Donald Trump has very definitely touched the Republican Party. The Republican Party is doomed. But not to oblivion. There will still be a Republican Party. It will just have no more credibility than the Libertarian Party. Most people don’t even realize there IS a Libertarian Party. It will take awhile for the Republican Party to fall to that kind of obscurity but they’ll manage.

In the meantime, rational conservatives, once-Republicans, are saying they’ll start a new party. It won’t do any good. The Libertarians who infiltrated and brought down the Republican Party will just follow the “Rationals” to where ever they go and do the same damage there…

The Tyranny of the Minority…

I have recently seen many stories about how Liz Cheney is in the crosshairs of the Republican party for supporting the impeachment of the orange moron, Cheetojesus. The left has come out with a “maybe we don’t like Liz because she’s a Cheney and, as such, has done bad things.” It’s a fair point. I don’t like or trust the Cheneys. But in this case, she did the right thing. Now she’s being pilloried by her own team – for doing the right thing – and the left is wondering if they should try to come to her defense – after she did the right thing. I think we should ALWAYS stand for the right thing, even if it comes from someone we don’t like. Correct information is correct information regardless of the source.

If someone is going to “get” Liz Cheney, let it be for some wrongdoing, not for standing up for the right thing…

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I suppose we owe Donnie Dumbass a thank-you. No, really. Putting it nicely, I’d say the Dumbass represents the far-right extreme of political philosophy, the Libertarians. Now, to be sure, he presented as a Republican. This is because the Libertarians infiltrated and usurped the Republican party. But the Dumbass represents the closest thing the Libertarians will ever have in the way of Presidents – and he was easily the worst President ever to pollute the Oval Office. He failed at everything he touched and destroyed everything he could. He showed the world there is no place for Libertarian politics in the real world. He proved that while Libertarianism can be made to look good on paper, there is no practical application. Old school Republicans – the rational conservatives – fled the party. People who continue to cling to the failed Libertarian philosophy are operating outside of rational reality. It’s a sort of fever-dream…

Having been exposed as a party of preferential thinking by their ongoing and dedicated support for Donnie Dumbass, the Libertarian RINOS who usurped the Republican Party have had increasing difficulty getting votes. (‘RINO’ is an acronym meaning ‘Republican In Name Only.’ There are DINOS, too – Democrats in Name Only. It’s meant to be derogatory but it effectively identifies people who operate as members of one party while doing the bidding of another party…) As pointed out, rational Republicans fled the party, leaving only the RINOS. So, the remainders (Hillary’s actual “deplorables”) have done what ethics-challenged, self-serving, intellectually incurious people ALWAYS do. They’ve decided to cheat. It’s kind of an expected step on their road back to obscurity. With all the new voter suppression laws the “Republicans” are passing across this once-great nation, it seems they’ve decided to drop all pretense at honesty and just cheat outright – all while pointing the finger of cheating at Dems, of course.

In one sense, it’s comforting. At least we don’t have to try to plow through the landscape of bullshit meant to present the fraudulent picture of “competing ideas.” This is just naked, partisan power grabbing, exposed by Trump and now available for all to see. That is to say, they’ve become more honest about their dishonesty. Somehow, I find that refreshing…

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Speaking of cons working to manipulate the system, the recall of Gavin Newsom has advanced to the ballot. This whole thing is being driven by cons. They think they see an opportunity. As we’ve already seen, they KNOW they can’t win on the strength of their ideas so they’re going to go with whatever is left. In this case, California has ridiculously low standards for recalling a governor. The rule is, the backers of a recall have to collect valid signatures from 12 percent of the voters in the last gubernatorial election. In this case, that number is about 1.5 million signatures. Now, the total population of California as of 2019 was 39.5 million people. If I’ve done my math correctly (and you really should check) 1.5 million signatures represents about 3.7 percent of California’s population. In my mind, the threshold number for a recall should represent at least 10 percent of the state – or about 3.95 million signatures. Even at THAT, the message is, “Oh, 90% of you are happy? Well, we’re not! Long live the tyranny of the minority!”

I think, particularly in this current environment where so many have succumbed to the misrepresentations of the conservative media, it would be EASY to find 1.5 million Californians disgruntled about, well, everything, really. And, as it happens, the signatures came from the most conservative regions of the state, with Amador county leading the way. Most of the signatures came from the pseudo-State of Jefferson – a region of Northern California SO conservative they think they’d do better on their own (they wouldn’t) so they created this “state” and yearn to live free in it, lucky they don’t have to.

A recent Public Policy Institute poll showed that 56% of Californians oppose the recall. But now ALL Californians are going to spend up to 400 million dollars for a recall only 4% of the people want! If they succeed, they remove the current governor for one year. One. Then we get to do it again next year. Worse, this is the sixth recall attempt against Newsom. Newsom opponents started almost the day he was inaugurated. Supporters of getting rid of Newsom have never come close to reaching the number they need to recall the governor until this attempt but even THIS attempt would have failed if an activist judge hadn’t stepped in and given the backers an extra four months to gather signatures. (I DID tell you Newsom’s French Laundry visit was going to be the most expensive meal in history, yes?)

It’s a waste of time and a waste of money. I’m not happy with everything Newsom has done – because he’s not perfect – but I don’t support a recall. Still, the Libertarian RINOS know this may be the only chance they have…

Raise Rates…

I have to tell you, I’m a little surprised at the Biden administration so far. He keeps doing things – or trying to do things – I like. None of them are radical, though you would never know that talking to a con. To me, he’s kind of doing things the left SHOULD do and should have been doing all along. By now, anybody with an historical bent and intellectual honesty knows that Bill Clinton took the Democratic party to the right of center – I’ve said many times that Clinton was the best president the Republicans have had in decades – and it has kind of stayed there ever since. (I really do enjoy listening to cons complaining about “far left” policies. There IS no viable “far left” in the US.) So, when I cast my ballot for Biden it wasn’t because I expected him to do anything I would admire. It was because he wasn’t Donald Trump. I mean, it really WAS that simple. I’m sure that’s the case for most of us who voted with the Democrats.

I should add, I wasn’t anti-Biden. I planned to vote for Biden the first time he ran for office. That would be 1988. He got sidelined in that campaign by a plagiarism scandal. (Plagiarism? How quaint…) Afterwards, though, he pretty much went along with the Democratic tide. He supported things I didn’t like and things I expected to be problems. (They were.) So, when he moved to the front of the pack in 2020, I was not excited. But, again, he wasn’t Trump. All I was hoping for was normalcy; peace and quiet for a few years. But Biden has stepped up with some rather progressive programs. It’s important to note that Clinton got away with his “faux Republican Presidency” because people had become exasperated by the actual Republicans. So when the charismatic Clinton smiled and promised to focus on our pain like a laser beam, we all relaxed, breathed a sigh of relief, and went about our business. While nobody was paying attention, Clinton was enacting and supporting conservative policies like a spawn of Goldwater. That little aside is to acknowledge the possibility that Biden might be up to the same tricks but I haven’t seen it, yet.

One of the things Biden is going to have to do is pay for his programs and to this end he’s talking about raising the Capital Gains tax. This is a good thing and I hope he can. DINO’s Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are likely to be a problem, though. Through the course of America’s Neo-liberal nightmare the tax laws have changed to make rich people richer and richer and leave the ever-expanding lower class struggling. High taxes on the wealthy once created the greatest middle class the world had ever seen. Now that middle class is shrinking and, left unchecked, will, at some point, become a very small class dedicated to serving the wealthy – at the pleasure of the wealthy. One of their best tricks was to use the Capital Gains tax cuts.

As painlessly as possible, there are two types of income, earned and unearned. They are just what they sound like. Money you get paid from going to work is earned income. (Duh!) Money you get from someone else’s work is unearned income. That is, you didn’t have to DO anything for that money. You made an investment and held it for awhile. The value of the investment grew (because somebody, somewhere was working) you cashed out the investment and – viola! – you made money. But you didn’t EARN the money. You just kept the money. So, our corrupt Congress critters changed the tax laws and made the Capital Gains tax rate lower – FAR lower in many cases – than the earned income tax rate.

But that was just step one. Step two was to change laws so, say, a CEO could be compensated with company stocks. See, the story was, if the income of the CEO was dependent on the performance of the CEO, the CEO would do everything in his power to protect stock prices. That story did NOT include the reality that depressing wages for the workers – the people producing the revenues in the first place – is a GREAT way to improve a company’s bottom line and increase the stock price which, in turn, makes the CEO that much richer, you see? The more harm he does to his employees, the greater the benefit he brings to himself. Sure, it’s a crap system but of course it is. It was built by the people who stand to benefit from it the most. But wait, there’s more. See, when it’s time for the CEO to pay taxes on the income he kept (from the work YOU did), much of his income came in the form of stock, which means he pays the Capital Gains rate, currently 20% for the richest rich people. Compare that to the 37% those same people would pay for earned income – if they actually earned anything. (By the way, these are book rates – where the rate starts. Effective rates – what people actually pay – are always lower…)

I’ve long held a position I call “Backs or Bucks.” It holds that everyone who can should contribute to the society in which we live. People who work contribute to society with their backs, that is, the work they do. People who only move money around should, by rights, contribute to society with bucks. This means investment tax rates should always be higher than earned income rates, at least to my mind. For the vast majority of Americans, the largest Capital Gain they’ll ever realize in their puny little lifetimes is from the sale of a house. This obvious truth can be addressed with a progressive rate structure. That is, the first, say, $500,000 in gains might not be taxed at all, with the next $500,000 taxed at, say, 5%. So for the first MILLION dollars in Capital Gains, one would pay 2.5% in taxes. After that, it should go up. WAY up.

Always-wrong conservatives rend garments at the suggestion and cry out that higher taxes will be job killers. As usual, there’s no evidence to support their pretended belief. In fact, the only available evidence indicates that high taxes on the wealthy cause them to actually do what they always promise low taxes might someday encourage them to do. The upside to the conservative contrarianism is that when they start predicting disaster, you can take comfort that there will be no disaster and that the tax increase is the right thing to do.

Of course, conservative media will start in about how such a tax increase will harm the average American. It won’t. Biden’s proposed tax increase will only affect you if your primary compensation comes in the form of stock. Most likely, yours doesn’t. Most likely, you get a paycheck. Most likely, you pay more in income taxes (as a percent of income) than, say, Jeff Bezos and that’s just wrong. Biden wants to fix it. I think working Americans should support the effort. Call your Congress critter. He or she is likely rolling in dough they took from unearned income so it’s going to be difficult to get them to do this, but the future of a once-great nation depends upon it…

Purges…

I’m very happy Chauvin got convicted on all counts. I’m also quite distressed that it took SO MUCH evidence. For NINE DAYS the Prosecution presented witness after witness. The legal folks, trainers, fellow officers, his boss, all testifying that Chauvin did NOT use proper procedure. He violated his training. The medical folks all testified that Mr. Floyd’s health conditions and drug history played no part in his death and that he died because people were sitting on him in the prone position for nine minutes. The defense? Well, they had to do something so they brought in a guy to say the use of force displayed looked okay to him (he wasn’t the one being sat on, however) and another who said that maybe it was the drugs and then rested. All of this AFTER the video that made so clear that Chauvin murdered Floyd. STILL, everyone was holding their collective breath. What would the jury do?

I think Chauvin went to trial because he’s used to the notion that Minneapolis cops don’t get convicted of killing black people. He was arrogant at the scene. He was arrogant taking a trial instead of a plea bargain. He was arrogant in the courtroom. He just didn’t seem to believe it was possible for him to be convicted.

I suppose now his fellows will accept plea bargains.

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My favorite definition of a Libertarian is a conservative who likes to smoke pot but that is really just a playful description. The truth is Libertarians believe in a kind of perfect freedom – for themselves, anyway. It’s a kind of perfect freedom that does not – CAN not – exist in a society because of the old ‘Fist-to-Nose’ allegory. Libertarians believe in their absolute, perfect right to swing their fist anytime they want, any place they want. It takes no time at all to see the flaw in the “logic.” What happens when their perfect freedom to swing their fist comes into conflict with my perfect freedom to not be hit?

Of course, it’s possible Mr. Fistswinger and Mr. Nohit can talk about it and come to some accommodation – an agreement that respects each other’s perfect freedom without infringing on it. But what happens when someone insists on their own perfect freedom to swing their fist and refuses to acknowledge MY perfect freedom to not be hit? Obviously, that’s where courts come in. The courts rule: your right to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose. You may not violate MY rights in the pursuit of your own perfect right. This is simply a balancing of rights that MUST occur in a society in which people interact. But Mr. Fistswinger refuses to accept this balance and storms off – angry, swearing, and whining that his perfect right has been infringed.

Frankly, I think it’s probably been people of the Libertarian mindset that spread humans across the globe. As governing rules are imposed on a society, the Libertarian…leaves. They would not acknowledge the need to balance rights so, in an effort to secure their own perfect right, they just went somewhere people weren’t. Eventually, civilization followed, the Libertarian felt closed in by new rules, and off they went again. It’s actually a pretty workable solution – so long as there exists someplace “new” for the Libertarian to go. Obviously, though, they eventually ran out of “new” places and society overtook them.

Eventually, that mindset got lumped together into a group and given a name: Libertarian. Inevitably, the Libertarians formed a political party of the same name. The party has existed since 1971 but they’ve never done well in elections. The BEST they ever did was in 1980 when they captured about one percent of the national vote but they’ve never been able to repeat that “success.” My own thinking is that they don’t do better because people understand how unrealistic the ideas of the Libertarians are. It’s not that they’re wrong, per se. But there is no practical application for perfect freedom in a society, as we’ve already seen.

After 1980, this vile pseudo-human known as Charles Koch realized that nobody was ever going to take the Libertarian party seriously so he did what any self-serving, one-percenter might do: he lied. He, along with his brother, David, started funding “think tanks” like the Cato Institute. These were not true think tanks, though. These were disinformation machines conceived, intended, and created to inject disinformation into the body politic. THEY knew they were lying. The consumers of their drivel did not. The idea was to “mainstream” Libertarian thinking by making it appear more credible than it ever actually is. But they didn’t stop there.

From time to time, some clever sod will go out and buy an old, surplus Army uniform and some medals and tell everyone they served and earned the medals even though they didn’t. The practice is referred to as “Stolen Honor.” In the same way, Charles realized people were not likely to embrace the Libertarian party since their impractical reputation preceded them. So, slowly, Libertarians started registering as Republicans and running under the more respectable banner of the GOP, a kind of “Stolen Respectability.” People didn’t realize what was happening but they DID notice that the Republicans of this once-great nation had become a bit…unhinged.

As time went on, once-mainstream Republicans – the rational Republicans – began to leave the party. They didn’t move to the now center-right Democratic party where they might have felt quite at home. They just became independents. But this left the faux-Republicans running the GOP. We’ve all seen the results. The GOP is now as bat-shit crazy as the Libertarian Party ever was – and for the same reason: it’s full of Libertarians. I’d say the scheme was, overall, successful. The Libertarians FINALLY got their President, Donald Trump. The world saw Libertarian “thinking” in action as Trump simply ignored science and other realities and tried to impose his preferences on real life. (Not surprisingly, it didn’t work.) Conservative “news” outlets, built to stoke Libertarian contrarianism, continued to lie and present the Trump presidency as successful. These lies all culminated in the January 6, 2021 assault on the US Capitol building as domestic terrorists who saw themselves as “Patriots” tried to overturn a “stolen” election that bears absolutely NO evidence of having been stolen.

The after-effect has been…eye opening. The media continues to report on what “Republicans” think about this or that issue but, mostly, nobody cares anymore. People seem to have realized that today’s Republican Party is a sorry shell of it’s former self. It’s like the Trump years and the Capitol assault caused the scales to fall from the nation’s eyes. Sure, the Libertarians managed some temporary success with their stolen respectability but they’re essentially barbarians and it’s not easy for a barbarian to behave as a civilized person for very long. People have long understood the Libertarian Party was full of useless wishful thinkers and it’s now normal to see the Republicans the same way – useless. The Libertarians marginalized themselves in the Libertarian Party and now they’ve very nearly marginalized themselves and the GOP as well.

The truth is, I’ve never had much use for political parties but I understand that people like to organize themselves into like-minded groups so political parties seem inevitable. Right now, there’s a strong push for more progressive thinking. (Progressive thinking is always the way the country recovers after some GOP – or in this case, Libertarian – dimwit has been in the Oval Office.) You might think this idea, progressive thinking, appeals to me. Okay, it does. I prefer a nation that seems to be at least trying to do the right thing. But…I have concerns about a party – any party – being the only realistic game in town. This once-great nation has NEVER truly been a so-called “two party” system. It’s just that we only had two parties that seemed, you know, sane. The Communists did okay when they first showed up – until people understood Communism. The Libertarians followed the same path. Their start was as strong as they were ever going to be. The Green Party? They’ve never even really had a strong start. People don’t seem to know what the Green Party is about – mostly because the Green Party doesn’t seem to know what the Green Party is about.

Like it or not, we’ve had two realistic possibilities for party affiliation for those who feel the need, Democrats and Republicans – and now the Republicans are every bit as useless as the other outliers, leaving the Democrats as the only rational and realistic option. That’s dangerous. Honest debate about honest concerns is better for governing. (This, as opposed to just stringing together words that can sound correct but actually make no sense.) Rational Republicans leaving the fold seems to have been inevitable as the Libertarians usurped (and tarnished) the GOP but I think it’s time for the rational Republicans to come back and push the Libertarians back to where they belong: obscurity.

I’ll tell you this: sooner or later, any unchallenged party will go too far – or even just make a well-meaning but honest mistake. Having someone around to at least mention possible issues is an effective stopgap – but that “someone” has to have credibility and the only way that’s going to happen is if the GOP recovers some honest respectability. They can’t do it with Libertarians in their midst…

Power Failures…

While we’re “debating” whether or not the United States is, fundamentally, a racist nation (spoiler alert: it is), failed human being Marjorie Taylor Greene wants to make sure everyone KNOWS the United States is a racist nation. She’s launching a new Congressional caucus to “protect Anglo-Saxon political traditions” and press for infrastructure that “befits the progeny of European architecture.” Helping with the new caucus is racist Rep. Paul Gosar (R, of course – Arizona). Also on board, so far, you’ll find racist Republicans (of course) Louis Gohmert from Texas and Barry Moore from Alabama.

After formalizing rather standard white supremacist rhetoric into their shiny new platform, Gohmert told CBS News the caucus isn’t “supposed to be about race at all.” Somehow, I think is supposed to be ALL about race. Just about the only racist trope NOT represented in their literature (so far) is “Jews will not replace us.” I suspect they’re trying to shoehorn that bit in – as surreptitiously as possible…

I STILL say the best evidence against “white supremacy” is white supremacists. They’re just an embarrassment to the species…

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I’m sorry to report the unionization effort in the Amazon warehouse in Alabama failed. There is much talk of how America lost all of it’s good jobs to overseas locations. The truth is, American corporations off-shored UNION jobs. That’s what MADE them “the good jobs.” We can have good jobs in THIS once-great nation again, too, but it’s going to take unions. Sadly, the corporations have gotten very good at disrupting unionization efforts.

The first thing to consider is the desperation of the population in the location you put your plant/warehouse. The more desperate the better. On the one hand, you get all kinds of tax considerations when you show up AND you get to put a little lipstick on the pig by making a big announcement that your company is bringing jobs to…wherever. In addition, you get a workforce scared to risk those jobs for fear of going back to even more desperate times. The corporation gets those perks whether or not anyone tries to bring in a union. But if they DO try, there is a tried-and-true playbook of how corporations bust unionization efforts.

First, the corporation finds the turncoat employees. These are the employees who are too scared or stupid or ideologically opposed (a redundancy for “stupid”) to trying to improve their own lives. The turncoats support the company no matter what it may cost them personally. These backstabbers are useful to the corporation for the second phase of the operation, spreading rumors. They start telling anyone who will listen the union will generate mass layoffs or maybe even cause the closing of the plant/warehouse. It’s important these stories travel through the rumor mill. It gives the corporation “plausible deniability.” Meanwhile, management implements the third phase – promising the moon. “Oh, we were JUST about to make life bearable for the workers. We were just about to let you use the bathroom almost whenever you wanted and we were just about to double everyone’s salaries and we were just about to offer profit sharing and 401k’s and sick leave. Heck, we were even planning on putting some new vending machines in the break room. Of course, we can’t do any of that if you unionize. The union creates an adversarial relationship and they won’t let us do any of those things so – vote down the union and we’ll take care of you like we never have before (but, secretly, always wanted to).

Mostly, the rumors are the what gets the job done for the corporations. Fear of losing even a crappy job to no job is just too much for the desperate masses. The union gets voted down and life returns to “normal.” Of course, none of the things the corporation promised happen. “Oh, we were sure going to but discovered…whatever…” In the end, the employees WILL get new vending machines. After all, the company profits from those…

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By now, any thinking person has come to understand that the so-called “free market” has done serious damage to a vast swath of the American people. The poorer you are, the harsher the damage. Part of the problem is that, along with the fraudulent notion of a “free market,” the cons sold the false idea that taxing rich people is a bad idea. This phenomenon has had two results. One, governments have responsibilities they can’t simply ignore so they increase taxes, charges, and fees on everyone else. Two, finding themselves STILL facing shortfalls (the actual goal of tax cuts for the rich) governments are forced to cut services.

It’s weird in the various ways the failures reveal themselves. As one example, where I live, the government used to take on responsibility for pest control, mostly rats and mosquitos. Budget shortfalls have caused them to do less work on rat control and the resulting boom in the rat population is…disturbing. Recently, I realized that the so-called free market has even destroyed driver education! (I know!) There was a time when Californians learned to drive in school. Public or private, schools used an agreed-upon curriculum to teach everyone to drive – so we all drove, basically, the same way. We all took the classroom portion of the training and even the in-car portion during our regular school day. It didn’t cost us a dime. It was nice. It worked well. EVERYONE, rich and (OMG!) even “the poors” received the training…

Then came privatization, driven (if you will) by falling revenues due to tax cuts for the rich. It’s important to note that privatization NEVER results in better quality at a lower cost. Never. Driver training is no different. It didn’t take long before schools had to leave that part of a common education out of the day. For better or worse, driver training would have to take place in private companies – and it’s been for the worse. Now? Driver training is expensive. (“Whatever the market can bear…”)

This means many poor and struggling families – and the number of those is increasing every day – simply opt out. They don’t have a choice. They drive without licenses and without even the proper training because they’ve got to get to work. Worse, those that DO go through the classes might very well be given slightly different information. So now, California’s roadways are a hodge-podge of drivers all doing the best they can but not quite on the same page.

The evidence is in. This whole “comfort the comfortable” concept is an absolute failure for the largest number of Americans. I think it’s time to end this experiment in “greed is good” and go back to doing the things that created the strongest middle class in the history of the world, high taxes on the rich and a strong social safety net for everyone…

Murder and Death…

Have you been paying attention to the Derek Chauvin trial? Derek seems to be having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. That’s okay with me. For nearly two solid weeks experts, professionals, one-time colleagues, doctors, police trainers…hell, just about anybody connected with law enforcement and/or the medical profession has come out to agree: Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd. Well, they haven’t rendered a verdict, yet but that’s the message. It’s been SUCH a parade of agreement that Chauvin’s actions were outside of standard police training and actions, I started wondering what kind of defense Chauvin might offer.

There’s always the standard, “Oh, cops have a tough job and have to make difficult, split-second decisions.” That’s often true, of course, but…you know…not in this case. Cons are out pretending Floyd was – well, to hear THEM tell it – Floyd was already dead from all that Fentanyl in his system but the Prosecutor covered that. Nope. “Oh, well, he had a heart condition,” they say, trying to defend the indefensible. According to the medical examiner who declared Floyd dead: Nope. I mean, he did, but that isn’t what killed him. I suppose the defense might suggest Chauvin didn’t realize the severity of Floyd’s condition. The prosecution has covered that, as well. Chauvin has been trained to recognize exactly that kind of distress and is duty-bound to render assistance in exactly the way he didn’t. The cops on the scene even rebuffed the attempted aid of an EMT who just happened to be there and was warning them of the danger.

I read in the Guardian, this morning, that the defense may be counting on the drug angle anyway. Apparently, there’s this concept of “excited delirium” that suggests that someone on drugs can become agitated and become stronger and have a higher resistance to pain than normal. None of that applies in the Floyd case, of course. We have all watched the video. He wasn’t resisting. He was just trying to survive. But the defense has to say SOMETHING, right? If they can’t point to the shiny badge and they can’t point to the “resisting, drug-addled black man,” what have they got?

I have found the whole prosecution SO devastating, I am curious as to why Chauvin didn’t just accept a plea bargain in the first place. Sitting on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, in front of an audience, on camera and being recorded is one of the most blatant acts of arrogance I’ve ever seen – short of insisting that, despite all of that, getting his day in court would “clear everything up.” Are cops REALLY that certain that courts will back them up, no matter what?

I presume Chauvin’s accomplices are watching closely. I suspect that Chauvin’s trial is – more than anything else – a warning to them. Chauvin is making the state go through the motions, as is his right, but my guess is they don’t want to do this for all four of the killers on such a clear-cut, open and shut case. Once Chauvin is convicted, I predict the rest will accept plea agreements for their participation and the whole mess will be behind everyone.

You know…until the next time…

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Speaking of killing people, I hear there are some out there (mostly cons, of course) refusing to get the vaccine and insisting on going about their day normally. Open everything, go everywhere, do whatever. (Is now the time to mention that the current U.S. death count from Covid-19 stands at 561,231?) Not surprisingly, conservative strongholds are also Covid-19 hot spots, with Michigan leading the way. Remember Michigan? That’s the place where the cons were SO determined to do the wrong thing they attempted to kidnap the Governor – with an eye toward murdering her. The cons are all over it, aren’t they? Infamous con Ted Nugent even wants to know why there weren’t any lock-downs for Covid 1 through Covid 18! At some point, one gets tired of trying to induce people to do the right thing and, let’s be honest, there SHOULD BE the right among people to choose to die. Let’s just let them “live with their choice” (read: die) and reduce the surplus population, right? It’s not very p.c. of me but I’m okay with that.

(The previous paragraph reflects my frustration at the refusal of some to participate and do the right thing. Of course we’re going to help those who find themselves suffering from poor choices they’ve made. It’s really the human thing to do…)

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Sometimes, I wish I wasn’t an atheist. Sometimes, I wish I could reasonably believe in the concept of Hell. There are people out in this world who should spend some time there. The idea that people who perpetuate evil in this world and seem to get away with it will get theirs in the end is quite comforting – but it’s bunk. Here in Feudal America, cheaters prosper and crime pays. Many of the very worst people on the planet are waving holy books and hiding behind their pretended faith but don’t seem very concerned about the consequences of their despicable behavior. That seems to be one of the more defining differences between believers and non-believers. Non-believers are more honest…

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No correlation intended, here, but I guess I have to at least mention the passing of Prince Philip. 99 years old is nothing to shake a stick at. I kind of wish he had made it to 100. After that, I don’t have much interest in “the Royal Family” and I didn’t know Philip personally, so I’m not much invested in his passing. I feel VERY badly for Queen Elizabeth II. Losing a life-partner of 74 years has got to be tough…

111 to 0…

I’ve been noticing something of a bump in posts on social media from cons repeating the big lie – that the 2020 election was stolen from the Dumbass. They genuinely don’t seem to realize they’re fighting in favor of voter suppression. They’ve been told by conservative media they’re fighting to stop voter fraud – and they believe it. So, some of them stick their heads out of their hidey-holes and challenge posts opposed to Georgia’s shiny new Jim Crow voter suppression law because they know – they just KNOW – the election was stolen. I know there are LOTS of stories out there. But they’re just stories. As it happens, people are free to say anything they want in private conversations, on social media, or out in front of landscaping companies. But people with official responsibilities who take those responsibilities seriously, whose jobs and reputations are at stake, are NOT free to just say whatever they want. They have to go with the evidence. Do you know where ELSE people are not free to just spew phrases and insist the phrases are treated the same as facts? Courtrooms. It’s STILL true in this once-great nation that courtrooms require supporting evidence. So I did a little score-counting in the “Stolen vs Not Stolen” discussion.

On MY side (Team Not Stolen), I have 50 individual states all certifying the results of the election. I have the US Congress also certifying the results – despite the January 6 assault on the Capitol by radicalized, far-right conservative contrarians. THEN, I have on MY side, 60 lawsuits on the topic – very helpfully filed by Giuliani on behalf of the Dumbass. Not one of them prevailed. Not one. ALL of them were tossed out due to lack of evidence. So…for “Team Not Stolen” we have, let’s see, that’s fifty, plus one, plus 60 for, ah, there it is; 111 points. “Team Stolen” on the other hand? Well, they have unfounded assertions put forth by some confused-looking dude on Fox so…zero. 0 points. That’s “Team Not Stolen” – 111, “Team Stolen” – 0. The team that scored 0 in a 111-0 drubbing continuing to insist that, “Hey, maybe, secretly, we won” doesn’t come across as “faithful.” It comes across as “separated from reality.”

Now, even in American football, where points can be added six at a time, 111-0 would be understood as a resounding defeat but the election count is one point at a time. Imagine a baseball game that ended 111-0. I suspect that even among the pros they might discuss a mercy rule at some point. Was the election stolen? 111-0 says no. Was there statistically significant voter fraud? 111-0 says no. Do we need vote reform? 111-0 says no.

I’ll tell you this: it’s important to remember that the only thing that matters is what the evidence shows (111). What a person just…prefers to believe (0) means nothing. I imagine the zeros are going to keep up the pretense, though…

Tools and Illusions…

I don’t know if you’ve noticed but Facebook has taken to interrupting it’s ads with ads. At first, I found it rather obnoxious. Then I realized I could use that to my advantage. These days, when the ad within the ad starts, I use it as my cue to leave Facebook. It’s a GREAT tool to keep from wasting too much time in social media. I recommend it…

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I saw a new story about yet ANOTHER way Donnie Dumbass is fleecing his believers. He had someone set up a donation page – which is just greed squared for the Dumbass. (And, really, why WOULDN’T someone with his claimed wealth need YOUR money?) But then, clever sods they are, they added these check-boxes that allowed your intended one-time contribution to automatically become a regular, weekly contribution and another that allowed your contributions to be increased automatically. Convenient, yes? Even MORE convenient, they pre-checked the boxes for you! Oh, AND they made the check-boxes easy to overlook so people think they’re making a one-time donation of, say, $300 (often quite the bite on the “poorly educated” folks he claims to love so much) only to find out their “one-time” donation had gone out weekly. One guy, Victor Amelino, a 78-year-old from California, donated $990 in September. It recurred seven times for a total of almost $8,000.”

All legal, apparently, and a trick the GOP is using quite a bit these days, at least according to the New York Times. As they receive complaints, they refund the “donated” money. (Likely NOT the bank charges for overdrafts or other fees and if you don’t complain, no refund for you.) The truth is, it’s common for campaigns to refund contributions for various reasons. In the last election, Biden refunded some $5.6 million dollars. Trump and the RNC? $64.3 million dollars. “In effect,” the Times wrote, “the money that Mr Trump eventually had to refund amounted to an interest-free loan from unwitting supporters at the most important juncture of the 2020 race.”

Trump’s not the brilliant businessman he pretends. He’s a thief but his acolytes are only too happy to be fleeced so long as they believe they’re “owning” the libs. Impressive…

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Ah, Matt Gaetz (R (of course), Florida). This tool has behaved like a sleazeball since I first became aware of him. Turns out, it’s because he’s a sleazeball. He’s discovering that paying to transport underage women across state lines for sex is a…problem. He ALSO seems to be discovering that, having attacked anybody and everybody he disagrees with over anything he disagrees with, he finds himself with precious few (any?) comrades coming to his defense.

Did YOU know that Matt Gaetz is one of the Dumbass’s biggest supporters? (Like-minds, you know…) As the evidence mounts, Trump has repaid Gaetz’ loyalty by…distancing himself. Gaetz was a regular on Fox “News” and now is persona non grata after trying to implicate Tucker Carlson in the scheme. He’s just on his own. Nice. Sadly, the Gaetz family has money so he’ll likely buy his way out of any significant legal trouble, here in Feudal America, but it MAY get him out of Congress. Fingers crossed.

I keep hearing the Q-Anonsense that the Democrats are supposedly running a child sex trafficking ring but I keep noticing that conservatives are getting caught participating in child sex trafficking rings. I have to confess, I get a sense of satisfaction seeing conservatives actually falling to the charges they like to project onto their opponents so…pass the popcorn…

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I’m a bit irritated at the American media at the moment – okay, usually. During this current lockdown pause, people are getting back to normal. Unfortunately, in this once-great nation, “normal” means one mass shooting after another. My irritation is rooted in the media tendency to first discover the political leanings of the murderer in question and use THAT as a gauge as to how much information is available. So the first guy I heard about, the Atlanta shooter, (a white, “Christian” domestic terrorist) has been mostly bypassed by the media. Sure, he went out of his way to kill Asians at a time when Asians across the land are being blamed – and “punished” – by conservatives for Covid-19, but, we’re told, it wasn’t racist. He was just having a bad day. He says he’s a sex addict and wanted to eliminate (Asian) temptation. Apparently, his interpretation of his god’s wishes included killing people he might otherwise want to have sex with. Nice work, God… (Truthfully? I’m guessing these incels get that a lot from women, “I’d rather die than have sex with you…”) After that, the media coverage shifts to violence against Asians, NOT details about the shooter, himself.

Thankfully for the media, the NEXT shooter was born in Syria. We know FAR more about him. We get to see him in court. We get to know when his next court date is, what was found on his computer, what his likely motivation was, pretty much anything/everything they can find.

Most Americans don’t even realize they’re being manipulated in their thinking…

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I’d like to take a moment to wish you all a Happy Easter. I see Easter as a “hopeful” holiday and I think we could all use a little of that right now…