Friday, October 20, 2017

Cut Taxes! Simplify!

George W. Bush famously responded to a question during a Presidential debate which asked about his plan to cut taxes: "Your plan would cut taxes most for the rich."
"Yes," he shrugged. "You cut taxes for the people who pay taxes."

What he was saying, of course, was people at the lower brackets paid relatively small numbers, so the relief they would get from cutting income taxes was small.

Of course, low wage earners pay other taxes, not income taxes, which hurt their pocketbooks more--gas taxes, payroll taxes, sales taxes, real estate taxes--but those taxes are not nearly as obnoxious for some reason, as the income tax.

Rich people avoid income taxes with a variety of ploys, and as Warren Buffet said, he pays a lesser rate than his secretary--got to be something wrong with that.

But the fact remains, if the upper 10% own 83% of the nation's wealth, they or their properties are the only source of revenue and they've got to pay taxes.
In taxation as in robbing banks, you have to go where the money is. And one look at that pie graph (above) shows where the money is.

Build The Wall!

Of course, I assumed, Mr. Trump was smart enough to know that building an actual wall was absurd, that once elected, he would say he was not to be taken literally, but he was to be taken seriously; he was serious about using technology like drones and cameras to watch the Mexican border.

But, no, apparently, he wants to see something like the Berlin wall, with watchtowers and Stassi border guards with machine guns.

Say what?

Thursday, October 19, 2017

We Are Not Alone

You can watch Fox News and you can listen to Rush Limbaugh and you can read about Mike Pence and his law to bury fetuses, and you can begin to feel that you are the only sane person in these United States.

You can think of what leadership once looked like, when you were a kid.

And how it looks now.

But then you come to realize, there are people out there who are thinking the way you think, and somehow, that's a comfort.

We are not alone, entirely.

And this too, shall pass.

Assuming the Dotard does not push the button or goad Kim il Haircut into pushing his button.

The Company He Keeps

For most of us, President Dotard will never intrude on our lives, other than by Tweet or television.
Pia Guerra

But for those whose papers are not in order, he has created a dark state where the knock on the door at midnight is redolent of those tales of the Gestapo coming to take away whole families.

He may be a dithering dotard, and be unaware of the harm he has unleashed, but that does not mean the harm is any less pernicious.

Reading in the New Yorker about a huge city size housing project in Moscow where the forerunner of the KGB goons would arrive at night to seize families and haul them off to the Gulag or to execution, I thought of those people who were brought here by their parents at age 3 and now live with the idea of the knock at the door.

They come at night. The Ku Klux Klan came around at night. That's when people are likely to be home. Makes sense.

What does not make sense is why they are coming round at all.

The Dotard's voters want to return America to the days when White Anglo Saxon Protestants ruled.  They don't care if they are a minority in the United States, just as long as they, like the plantation owners of Mississippi can keep control of the masses whose lives they rule.  Minority status is no problem, as long as you have the power.

Board Rooms and Coal Miners

The Wyoming Star Tribune reports some surprising fun facts:
Kevin Crutchfiled, CEO alpha: Getting His

1. Coal miners make about $82,000 a year, on average. Not bad for guys who didn't finish high school.
2. When the executives and Board of Directors of Alpha Natural Resources saw net losses or no profits every year from 2011 through 2016, their response was to file for bankruptcy, to petition the court to allow them to cut paying health insurance benefits for their miners while paying themselves multi million dollar bonuses. The price of failure was paid not by the millionaire executives, who were sure to take care of themselves, but by the working stiffs in the coal mines.
From the Casper Star tribune:
But based on the average annual coal miner’s wage of $82,000, the layoffs would save the pair around $37 million in annual wages, or 84 percent of the $44 million Peabody and Arch paid their executives teams in 2014.
Alpha is seeking to cut retiree benefits for some 4,580 nonunion miners and their spouses. That move is expected to save $3 million annually, or about 14 percent of the $20.8 million Alpha paid its management in 2014.

When Bernie Sanders talks about a rigged system, the coal miners don't need an explanation of what that means. What a rigged system means is the board of directors can, legally, rape their own companies, drain away cash from the companies' accounts and into their own personal bank accounts while reneging on the promises they made to their employees, for health insurance and pensions. Oh, your security for health and retirement is gone? Never mind, we are doing just fine in the executive suite.

So when Donald Dotard talks about those swarthy Mexican illegals stealing across the border to rape white women, he is talking about small time rapists. The rare Mexican rapist is small time compared the CEO's who rape thousands of employees as they hollow out their own companies--all perfectly legally.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

November 8 Explained

Success has a thousand fathers, John F. Kennedy noted, but failure is an orphan.

Actually, in the case of Hillary Clinton's defeat a thousand reasons have been put forward by pundits and humble citizens alike.
Doesn't take many to herd

Yes, the Russians brain washing Americans with fake news, and Hillary's failure to eat enough pork in Blue Wall states, gerrymandering, the electoral college, Citizens United and on and on, yada, yada.

But the fact is, if Blacks had voted in the numbers they turned out to vote for Obama, President Hillary.

Which is not to put the whole thing on Blacks, just to say, for understandable reasons, they voted with their feet by not turning out for the white lady.

Trump asked Blacks how much worse he would be for them than Hillary and they answered silently.

Maybe some regret it now. Maybe not.
Sheep to the slaughter

But democracy's Achilles heel is the fact that a willful, united, orchestrated minority can defeat and rule a majority, simply by acting in a concerted way, while the millions scatter before them. This is the basis of all military forces--a few hundred thousand men following commands from a single leader toward a single purpose can defeat a population of millions. Numbers do not matter in conflict; organization matters.
People believe in trolls, and read them , too

For Democrats to win they need to pull Blacks, Hispanics, gays, liberals, all sorts of cats which resist herding together. All Republicans need is that vaunted base--the white supremacists, quiet racists who pull their oars at the same time.

In this country there are always a core constituency of lunatics who believe whites are facing genocide, Obama was born on Mars, the New World Order will be arriving in black helicopters to strip citizens of their guns and the global Jewish world conspiracy in cahoots with radical Islam is out to gut the Christian world. They will reliably vote Republican.

We get what we deserve.

Thursday, October 12, 2017


You know who Donald Trump rode to the White House on.

So where are the Democrats when it comes to vilification?

It's not like there aren't any good candidates out there.

John Oliver gave us the CEO of Alpha Coal, who nearly broke down sobbing, talking about the prospect of laying off coal miners in response to a question about a photo on his wall of a coal miner's. But, as Oliver pointed out, he had asked the bankruptcy court to cut the health insurance for 1200 miners while his board voted him and themselves 12 million dollar bonuses.

The coal industry is just too sweet a gift for Democrats, if they were only smart enough to use the gift they've been given.

And big pharma--who could have dreamed up an icon like Martin Shkreli if they'd tried?  Raises the price a drug upon which lives depend by 1000%, "Because I could. There's nothing illegal about it."

Or Robert Murray of Murray Energy who is the latest incarnation of those old tobacco industry executives who testified before Congress that smoking is good for your health and nobody should believe those scientists who said it caused lung cancer because they were all in the pockets of the liberal establishment and were like pinko Commies. Mr. Murray says we shouldn't believe the scientists who say burning fossil fuels (like the coal he just happens to own) contributes to climate change but we should trust his "four thousand scientists" who say just the opposite.  And all he cares about is his coal miners, well, except for that mining disaster which the government said was his fault but he claims was just a natural disaster an earthquake only he knows occurred.

The problem with the CEO's and the board members and the billionaires is most of them avoid fame like the plague. They are happy enough to just be super rich.

The Koch brothers occasionally make public appearances when they are being honored at Lincoln Center for giving money to the opera or ballet. But they keep a low profile and other than books like "Dark Money" they are not much examined, and who reads books anyway?

The shame is that no CEO went to jail for the 2008 financial collapse which, as anyone who saw "The Big Short" movie knows, had many fathers, but some at least were working at the agencies which sold stock and bond AAA ratings to the very companies whose stocks they were rating. 

These Wall Street, Wichita, Kansas,  Bentonville, Arkansas mogols pull the strings which control the lives of coal miners, factory workers, servers all over the country but they are never the bad guys. The bad guys are the imaginary Mexican rapists storming across our Southern Border. 
We need somebody to give us new villains.
Bernie Sanders took a few steps in the direction of stirring up embers of resentment. If only a few younger whippersnappers could follow his lead.