‘FREE’ MARKETS

May 16, 2016

There is nothing free about unregulated markets, or the greed that drives them for that matter.  We all end up paying.  Take Las Vegas (PLEASE!) where the over-built housing market and the resulting collapse has left hundreds of unneeded, unowned (foreclosed) houses which are now being occupied by drug dealers, squatters, et al.  Vegas was once the hottest housing market in the nation in terms of new construction, so now it’s the hottest market in terms of unwanted housing.  Brilliant.  Bet the construction firms and banks are not going to pay for the demolition or the policing costs to try to bring this back into some semblance of reasonable life.

This doesn’t even touch on the environmental irresponsibility that tried to pour thousands of more people into a desert environment.  One slightly good point: Vegas is becoming the poster child for recycling water.  Welcome to Space-ship Earth.

A TRUMP ADMINISTRATION?

May 16, 2016

 

This will undoubtedly be one of the nastiest, meanest Presidential campaigns since our forefathers foolishly elected Dick Nixon President back during the appalling, pointless, destructive Vietnam-Cambodia-Laos War.  Just as today there was then a wave of anti-federal passion.  Our government was sending draftees to die in a jungle war that didn’t even promise sapphires or oil.  Every summer had become riot season in the urban ghettos and the Civil Rights Movement had scared white suburbia that the slaves were getting off the plantation at last.

Once again fears will compete and dominate the thinking of many voters.  Are you most afraid of dark-skinned men?  Women wearing face scarves?  Abortion doctors?  People from south of Texas?  Muslims?  Government bureaucrats?  The Supreme Court?  A trans-sexual in your bathroom?  China’s new military bases in the China Sea?  ISIS?  Getting laid off?  Starvation? Being homeless?  Student loans?  Wall Street?  Hedge fund vultures like the ones preying on what’s left of Puerto Rico?  Your dentist, if you have one?  Cancer?  Opioid addiction?  Meth addicts?  Big Pharma?  Climate change?  The Sixth Great Extinction?  Zika?  Ebola?  The plot to ban guns?  The National Rifle Association?  The kid next door with 25 guns?  Twitter?  The War on Christmas?  The War on Women?  Fundamentalists?  Secularists?  Retirement?  Social Security going broke?  Privatized everything?  Ending the war on drugs?  Continuing the war on drugs?  A neighbor who travels to Cuba?  A neighbor who won’t travel to Cuba?  So much to fear and so many ways to be moved to vote for…

I have no clue how this election will end.  By November we will all be sick of hearing, seeing and thinking about it..Polls in the U.S. now show that 70% of women have a negative view of Donald Trump.  My surmise is that most American women, regardless of color, have had enough personal experiences in the world outside the home to be able to name one or a dozen or more men who remind them of Trump.  Lewd at times, inappropriate at others, leering, horny, on the make, taken with themselves, gross and engrossed with power, loving control—from frat parties to dirty old men watching high school cheerleaders to beauty pagaents to walking past a construction site to going to work or church or class to having a drink or dinner in public…most women have been targeted once or often by men who assume they are judge, jury and entitled.  I further posit that most of those women will find the fear of living in a country run by such a creature to be more fearful than any of the other fears that may itch their psyche.  If any woman is undecided I suggest she read any account of the reign of Belusconi in modern Italy, or simply think about a Yankee Putin.

WHAT WOULD TRUMP DO?

Would he blockade Mexico to force them to pay for his beloved Rio Grande Wall?  Would he change his mind for cheap oil and legalized marijuana south of the border?  Would he do a deal with the drug cartels?  Before that wall gets built would he send the National Guard to patrol the entire border.  Who’d pay for that?  If I live in North Dakota I know the folks crossing the border aren’t coming north.  They don’t like cold do they?  Don’t they simply sit in the sun and collect welfare and drink Corona?  Make Texas and Arizona pay for it, I say.  If Mexico doesn’t budge make their whole country a no-fly zone, that’ll get ‘em off their asses.

Would he forever stop doing business with Saudi Arabia now we know there were government officials there helping Bid Laden’s crowd?  Would be give Israel the go-ahead to blast Iran, Iraq or any other nation that seems out of line.  After all, it’s not our Middle East is it?  We could promise Israel to replace their warheads for free.  Congress would support that, needing to get re-elected in two years.

As for all those undocumented folks here, round ’em up.   One set of prisons for the men, another for women, a third for the kids.  We don’t any more children born until we get them out of here.  Make Mexico and Honduras pay for feeding them all.  We didn’t invite them here. We need a specific law saying children born in US to illegal parent or parents are NOT now nor ever will be citizens.  Don’t want them coming back later.  We use old Trump University and casino buildings to house ’em while we get them shipped back to Mexico or wherever.  Or former junior college campuses ’cause we’re gonna do away with this free-ride thing and stop all those stupid scholarships.  Kids need internships for smart bosses like me not a bunch of pointy-headed professors preaching socialism.

Wouldn’t Trump go to the Supreme Court to suspend the First Amendment that is so dated and allows so many news outlets to say things that are dangerous to the Republic?  After all, Putin doesn’t put up with such shit, does he?

Could he not order the shutdown of the Interior, Education and Health & Welfare Departments?  Leave the EPA undirected?  Wait for Ginsburg to die and leave the Supreme Court at four conservatives, three less conservative?  It would save two whole office staff salaries!  Refuse to appoint anybody to run the SEC or Consumer Protection?  Get Congress to outlaw the FDA so Big Pharma can get drugs onto the market more efficiently?  Look how well they did with opioids despite government interference.  Why not legalize gambling across the land?  And suspend any enforcement of gun laws, whatta drag that is on business.  Reinstate the military draft in case of domestic riots?  Make bigamy legal again?  Real men shouldn’t have their lives hampered by government interference.  And we could just do away with all those government regulations that limit driving time for truck drivers, or rules that require colleges to fund women’s sports when women should be learning to cook and model, or all those federal underwritten college scholarships?  If you want to go to college, pay for it like a real man…or just get a job and shut up, already.  And how about those laws so common in other lands protecting government officials from prosecution for crimes while they are in office.  We need that here.

To get Americans back to work we could institute a Trump Tower project for every town and city, construction jobs would bloom and we could get rich donors to pay for them, and they’d get ownership.

What cushy job would Trump find for his former butler with his strong political opinions?

The tariff on Chinese imports would be a great first day move.  To hell with the WHO, what have they ever done for Americans?  We could find some company in Mexico to make tee-shirts and running shoes for us, right?  They could throw them over the wall and we’d pick ‘em up.

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EXTINCTION LEVEL EVENT

May 2, 2016

There’s a sharp, brilliant essay in “New York” magazine outlining how deep and serious a threat Turmpism is to American democracy as flawed and unfair as it’s become.  A brutal torture-loving dictatorship would not make “American Great Again.”  The writer warns Democrats, Bernie and Hillaryites alike to understand how deep and grave the dangers are of a demagogue ruling America through fear, torture and threats.  Not to mention what would happen to the economy once Trump started trade wars around the globe.  And then there’s his incipient alliance with Putin, perhaps the world champion of current political corruption.

COAL COMFORT

April 13, 2016

Peabody is taking the bankruptcy way out…of its leveraged debt.  Guess this means they will also be one of the many U.S. corporations that pay no income tax.  A new study shows that two-thirds of U.S. corporations pay zero income tax, so much for the argument that they need to buy a Virgin Islands or Ireland company to stay away from America’s “exorbitant” corporate taxation.  One-fifth of the large and profitable corporations still paid zero income tax.   Regiments of lawyers and accountants can protect almost unlimited amounts of money from tax collectors.  That’s how the taxes laws work here.

Senator Sanders had requested the report from the Government Accountability Office.  Why is this set of facts not a standards part of political coverage every year?  Because most of the businesses covering news and most of the companies buying advertising or donating to public broadcasting are the same ones dodging taxes, using loopholes, offshoring profits and using every possible loophole and some even bribing their way onto foreign shores where their money cannot be touched by Uncle Sam.  So much for patriotism.

So just add this to Mitt Romney’s offshore wealth, the Panama Papers, the oil industry’s record of global bribery to get contracts and the scam of “non-profits” running healthcare facilities and thus paying fat salaries to the bosses and no taxes to government at any level.

Welcome to the U.S.A.   Unlimited Scams in America.

But we’re not alone.  Switzerland apparently still leads the league in hiding wealth and 60% of the money in those banks “belongs” to shell companies…nobody knowing who the real owners are…much less how the money was obtained, earned, stolen or extorted.

BTW: when I lived and worked in England for four years there was never any tax deadline or tax forms (no April 15th deadline)…there was with-holding from each paycheck, period.  Yet I still had to file tax forms back in my homeland, every April 15th.

 

MONEY, MEDIA AND MEANNESS

April 12, 2016

There’s a posting on HuffPost that describes how the right-wing fear media businesses and the spineless Republican politicians combined to form today’s toxic hate circus that is passing bathroom safety laws, anti-therapy rules (in Tennessee) and fomenting gunners to take over a wildlife refuge. And it has produced a Republican Presidential primary season where Senator Tea Party Ted becomes the party’s favored choice from two evils. The piece clearly outlines how years of spewing hate and paranoia gets you a core of hateful and paranoid voters and legislators.   The one thing this piece doesn’t deal with is the cynical manipulation of gerrymandering to guarantee Republican dominance in many states where all the Democrats are pushed into a few districts so their votes are worth less.  Dems winning in some areas with 85% of the vote while Republicans have a larger number of districts where they can win with 55% thus throwing away many Dem votes.  In the last election the Republicans won a vast majority of House seats despite having two million fewer popular votes…all by rigging the districting system.

GREED, SECRECY AND PANAMA

April 6, 2016

The past week has once again shown how easy it is for those with money or the right (wrong?) connections to hide their money from governments and the public…even if the hider is a prominent political figure.

Today Iceland’s Prime Minister resigned after it was revealed he and his wife had off-shored significant wealth while he was constantly assuring Iceland’s voters that they should leave their money onshore…despite Icelandic banks’ collapse during recent economic recession.

There are already known connections to public figures from London to Moscow…so more folks will be unhappy as disclosures and investigations go forward.

There are American connections, some are known money-crooks with financial crimes on their resumes already.

Panama is not the only center of money-laundering and hidden assets.  Down in storied Monaco where many pro tennis players claim to “live,” there are no income taxes, many empty apartments claimed as “home” and one company called Unaoil.  In the leaks from there we see that major banks and corporations have been taking part in widespread corruption and bribery. Naturally much of that involves oil and mining…duh.

Even the Monaco government, never noted from assiduous enforcement of financial regs, has raided the Unaoil offices…we shall see if this is to cover their ass, or to actually uncover the corruption centered there.

DEMAGOGUES, DEMOCRACY AND VIOLENCE

March 27, 2016

There are some things that we can see by looking at history since the invention of the printing press, evolution of guns and the use of propaganda.  The more angry and ignorant the population the easier it is for a demagogue to incite popular violence.  We have seen this from Czarist pogroms to ethnic cleansing in Armenia, Northern Ireland, former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and across the Middle East and North Africa right now.  Just today bombers killed dozens of Christians at an Easter gathering in largely Muslim Lahore, Pakistan.  Slaughter by terrorist xenophobes is now a daily occurrence in our distraught world.  While ISIS may be losing its land war it can continue to murder random victims in mass attacks wherever its suicidal agents are planted.

Just as in the 1930 when the Depression coupled with the rise of fascist regimes, we live in a time when demagogues will use fear and xenophobia to spread violence and enhance their own power.  Putin makes war in Syria and Ukraine.  Saudi Arabia bombs in Yemen. Anybody and everybody bombs in Syria.  Bombers bomb wherever those outside the Shia or Sunni enclaves (depending on bombers’ affiliations) can be gathered.  It is no wonder that Putin and Trump are part of a small mutual admiration society.  No wonder that North Korea, Turkey, Cuba, Russia, Egypt, Mexico, Honduras, South Sudan, Yemen, Nigeria, China, Somalia, Libya and numerous other violent or lawless areas have become so dangerous for journalists and ordinary people.  Arrest, disappearance, murder, kidnapping–any time any place.  What we have are the frayed edges of what was once touted as a blanket of global civilization after the end of the Cold War. What we are witnessing is the brutal throes of a set of patriarchal systems all collapsing under the pressure of a world economy, instant communication including religious and sexual images not approved by the powers that be.  The old patriarchal beliefs whether Muslim, Catholic, Mother Russia, Chinese or Korean Communist or some other authoritarian nationalism are all under assault.  And those who have ruled and plundered and been heedless for generations are now facing the collapse of their power and maybe their money.  A planet not dependent on oil threatens governments and the rich from Houston to Moscow, from Venezuela to Nigeria, from Canada to Kuwait.  Iran to its enemy Saudi Arabia.  All change toward the virtual economy, sustainable energy and women as full human beings will be fought against, with violence always the last resort of the tyrant, the bully, the macho male.  Not since King Cotton forced a Civil War over slavery has the world economy faced such disruption with such violent political consequences.  This time it is billions of women in traditional, male ruled societies that are going to be freed and many of the tradition-bound men will fight this change.  ISIS is not alone is trying to stop the future.

While humans should be most concerned about keeping the planet habitable for us and other creatures, too much of our fear, anger and hatred is focused one another, on killing those who disagree with our religion or politics.  Trumpism is just an American manifestation of this malaise.  It is likely that the lingering symptoms of PTSD, Post-Trump Stress Disorder will be more and more violence from angry white males who have been made economically marginal by the modern world economy.  And somehow it is so appropriate that there is a move afoot to bring weapons onto the floor of the Republican Convention this summer…time for a shoot-out at the Not-OK Corral…and we’ll see it all live on TV.

Meanwhile, the Secret Service is in charge of security at both major party Presidential nominating conventions.  Can the NRA actually push around the Secret Service?  We shall see.  Expect lawsuits over the gun issue as elephants gather in Ohio.

TRUMP, A GREAT ARGUMENT FOR DICTATORSHIP

March 15, 2016

That’s how the Chinese “communist” government sees it. Trump is just an Americanized Mussolini and proof that democracy is outta control and dangerous.

Not since Nixon has a Republican politician been so good for the Chinese government’s propaganda machinery.

TRUMP’S TORTURED ‘THINKING’

March 7, 2016

Donald Trump is worried we are at a disadvantage…and he’s gonna fix that on the way to making America great again.  It’d horrible enough that we pay higher wages than Vietnam or Bengledesh.  Hard on business.  It’s awful that China manipulates their currency. Hard on Wall Street.   Putin wrestles bears while our President speaks in measured sentences and never really threatens anybody.  Bad for our world image among would-be bear wrestlers. And there’s just not a high enough wall between us and Texas…’er, I mean, Mexico.  Trump will fix that on the way to making us great again.

And today he showed how serious he is about that return to greatness. He wants us to use torture so we are not at a disadvantage. There’s North Korea…and Isis…and Boko Haram…and both sides in the South Sudan civil war…and the Mexican drug cartels…and lots of other nasty folks out there torturing away while we politely question bad guys when we happen to stumble across them, or they escape our drones.  We gotta get into this torture competition…and win.  To be great you gotta be tough and maybe a little perverse and even mean sometimes.  Look how great Trump is.

While we’re at it, let’s confer with some of the right-wing Constitutional originalists, but seems to me we could get going with the scalping.  Nobody in the U.S. Army in 19th Century had any problems with that did they?  We could think of repealing the Amendment that does away with slavery, give us a way to put those folks at Guantanamo back to work and get ’em off welfare.  And weren’t we one-time league leaders in witch burning?  Worked, too, no damn witches left in Concord or Amherst.  And dunking stools?  Stocks?

We should call on our good allies for some assistance.  Bet the Saudis could give us the recipe for proper public stonings.  Talks about those right there in the Old Testament,  could make the evangelicals real proud to be ‘Mericans.  Make us even greater.  Floggings go back to our British ancestors, those of us with English-sounding last names.  We could whip up support for public floggings, especially in those schools that lag behind in test scores.  Surely the British Navy went soft when it stopped flogging.  Look at it now.

And there’s that greatest of all American traditions: hanging.  Good for the hemp industry, surely.  Don’t smoke that hemp, weave into sturdy ropes.

Now that we have a clear path to greatness in the torture and sadism realm, we gotta handle the problems with family life to be truly great.  Whippings will help some. Too many two-job families, surely the answer there is to man up…bring back polygamy…there we could get some help from the Saudis again, and a few of our own home-grown Mormons.  Trump can certainly handle more than one wife at a time, a man his size.  Keep wife #2 or #3 at home to do the chores.  Good for full employment and get the birth rate up so we can be truly great once more.

 

TRUMPED UP

March 7, 2016

For those of us with an interest in the collisions and road rage of American politics, this is the fascination of the abomination.  That’s a concept Edgar Allen Poe first used to describe certain kinds of perverse human behavior. Not since we Americans locked up thousand of our fellows for the crime of being ethnic Japanese has this country seen such a heinous behavior by those who lead or want to lead.

An egomaniacal shyster with a degree in real estate manipulation and a self-endowment that makes him immune to donors.  A mostly-white underclass and bitter electorate looking for revenge and simple answers.  A whole swath of the Confederacy and social reactionaries who can’t wait to wipe out any and everything done by a…gasp…black President.  A Republican Party that has for decades subtly signaled its racism, its nativism, its Christianity as superior (or only) religion, its hatred of federal government that does anything beyond war, its disgust at educated elites who are tolerant and world traveled.  The GOP had flirted with this before.  Goldwater,  Nixon’s plumbers and his enemies list, Reagan’s smooth but racist appeal to white southerners and condemnation of mythical welfare queens, Pat Buchanan’s bitter views of fellow Americans, Rush Limbaugh with his screeds against Feminazis and all manner of non-conservatives trying to undermine his America, even Mitt and his 47%ers who clearly are seen by him as sub-American.

Well, the Repubs now have a man in Trump who trumpets all those prejudices and superstitions with no sugar-coating, no pretense to honesty or fair play…he and his supporters are angry, bitter and vengeful.  They don’t need video of those New Jersey Muslims celebrating 9-11, they see the images in their mind and take it on faith.  Well, maybe Trump is pretending because he just wants power and adoration of the mob.  But his followers want revenge. They know the government and the “others” are out to get them.

Here’s a nice summary on one recent DailyKos blog: “Donald Trump’s movement was a surprise. The Republican Party viewed Trump as joke, and they know he is not a real conservative. The Republican Party believed its own rhetoric. They believed that rank-and-file Republicans really believed in the conservative orthodoxy.

“The reality is that the Republican Party is a combination of low-tax plutocrats, evangelical extremists, insular racists, confused welfare recipients, gun toting zealots, secessionists, and a large swath of good people.

“When one queries Republicans, there is one common thread: They believe there are people out there who are trying to take away something that they’ve earned. The ‘something’ they have earned could be something material, something spiritual, or an unearned but deserved privilege. Donald Trump’s words spoke to all the fears and wants of the low-information, racist, and opportunist sects of the Republican party.”

 

Will these fine, white, angry Americans eventually turn on and dismember some dissenting person in the Trumpian audience?  I wouldn’t have the guts to carry an anti-Trump sign into a Trump revival meeting.

Take back America.  (Get rid of the Muslim, the black, the poor, the Buddhist, the intellectual, the liberal, the unchristian.)  Make America great again. (back to 1952 before abortion, before “gay” was anything more than slightly joyful, before birth control, before Chapter 9 let women play sports, before environmentalists started such things as outlawing DDT and complaining about water pollution, before corporations had anything to fear from regulators.)

So in this 2016 electoral season we are being treated to a televise and tweeted campaign of demagoguery by a man and his minions who like nothing better than a Trumpian authoritarian state.  Woe be to Paul Ryan is he doesn’t fall in line.  Not to mention anybody who dares to picket outside the Trump White House.  Would he extend his torture doctrine to even domestic dissenters?  Nobody has even dared ask for fear they will go on the Trump enemies list.  This year will show us how close post-World War II America can get to authoritarian government.  We are told the under-40 generations in America are more tolerant and liberal…they have seen the hollowness of materialism, greed, racism, planet exploitation and mindless media.  Sadly it’ll be good for the world as my generation dies off, taking Trumpism with us.