From The Troubled Mind Of Filosofa

I thought I’d share with you just a few of the things that are bouncing around in my troubled mind tonight …

Yesterday a federal judge, one appointed by Donald Trump, authorized voter intimidation.  That’s right … he said it’s okay for people to hang out around ballot drop boxes, armed with guns, harass those trying to drop off their ballots, even take pictures of their license plates for who-knows-what-reason.

The judge is Judge Michael T. Liburdi, appointed by Donald Trump and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in August 2019.

In recent weeks, local and federal law enforcement have been alarmed by reports of people, including some who were masked and armed, watching 24-hour ballot boxes in Maricopa County — Arizona’s most populous county — and rural Yavapai County as midterm elections draw close. Some voters have complained alleging voter intimidation after people watching the boxes took photos and videos, and followed voters.

But Judge Liburdi says they are merely exercising their First Amendment rights to free speech and that he cannot (will not) bar groups or individuals from ‘monitoring’ ballot drop boxes, even when armed to the teeth, taking photos, invading the privacy, and acting in a threatening manner.  You all know as well as I do what the next Act in this drama is going to be.  And when it happens, part of the blood shed will be on the hands of Judge Liburdi. I suppose some in the Republican Party would refer to the voter intimidation as “legitimate political discourse”, just as they said about the insurrection and attempted coup on January 6th, 2021.

Yesterday evening I wrote about the vicious attack on Paul Pelosi, 82-year-old husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  Just a couple of additional notes on that.

  • I was pleased to see a number of Republicans speak out against the horrific violence, including Mike Pence, Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz, and Ronna McDaniel. I hope they were sincere and not just muttering platitudes.  I imagine they were realizing how easily it could happen to them, or their loved ones. Violence, once unleashed, is hard to get back in the box.
  • I was beyond disgusted upon reading that a Fox ‘News’ host called for the attacker, who faces numerous charges including attempted homicide, to be set free. His reason?  He said that it was no big deal, that “a lot of people get hit with hammers.”
  • My disgust deepened even more when I read that someone at Newsmax (I thought they were defunct?) claimed he was “Just wondering if Nancy Pelosi tried to STAGE her own mini January 6th. Complete with leaving the doors and windows OPEN for “insurrectionists” and this Depepe fellow. THAT or she can’t secure her home or office!” And now we know just how low people can sink.

And in other news …

Here in Cincinnati, Ohio, the headline reads …

16-year-old indicted on 20 charges from 3 separate murders and a kidnapping

“A 16-year-old was indicted Friday for a total of 20 charges, including six counts of murder, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said.

[The boy] was 15 at the time of the murders, which all took place in September and October 2021.

[The boy] is being tried as an adult. The rest of his charges include five counts of felonious assault, three counts of kidnapping, two counts of abduction, one count of burglary, one count of tampering with evidence, one count of carrying concealed weapons and one count of obstruction of official business.

The six counts of murder stem from three separate homicides.

‘This type of violent criminal is not fixable,’ Deters said. ‘And this office will do everything in our power to ensure this guy never gets out.’”

I have to wonder … he was 15 years old at the time … where the Sam Hell were his parents and what were they doing?  Obviously, they were not monitoring their son’s whereabouts or behaviour!  And quite obviously, they failed to instill a sense of values in the boy, and now it’s too late.

Apparently it’s a done deal and Elon Musk is now the proud owner of Twitter.  He immediately fired four top executives and has said he plans to fire 75% of the staff.  Off with their heads, said the Queen!  I considered closing my account, but I’m holding off for just a bit.  If, however, he follows through with his threat to reinstate Donald Trump, I will immediately close my account.  Meanwhile, I thought I’d hang out for a few days and see what, if anything, changes, and see if I can get in a few last bits of mischief to get under the skin of certain politicos, now that I have absolutely nothing to lose!  Stay tuned …

Industrial Dictatorship

I have many ‘pet peeves’ these days, one of which is the wealth inequality in this country.  It keeps growing and growing like an overfed toddler and while most people struggle to pay their bills and put food on the table, the 1% or so at the top laugh their way to their broker’s office to see just how much richer they are today than they were a month ago.  I’ve never heard it explained any better than Robert Reich does …

The three myths used by the ultra-wealthy to justify the ultra-wealthy

Robert Reich

29 September 2022

The stock market is down but don’t cry for America’s mega-billionaires. A record share of the nation’s wealth remains in their hands. They’re also paying a lower tax rate than the average American.

So how do they justify their wealth and their low tax rates? By using three myths. All are utter rubbish.

  1. The first is trickle-down economics. They (and their apologists) claim that their wealth trickles down to everyone else as they invest it and create jobs.

Really? For over forty years, as wealth at the top has soared, almost nothing has trickled down. Adjusted for inflation, the median wage today is barely higher than it was four decades ago. Trump provided a giant tax cut to the wealthiest Americans, promising it would generate $4,000 increased income for everyone else. Did you receive it?

In reality, the super-wealthy don’t create jobs or raise wages. Jobs are created when average working people earn enough money to buy all the goods and services they produce, forcing companies to hire more people and pay them higher wages.

  1. The second myth is the “free market.” The ultra-rich claim they’re being rewarded by the impersonal market for creating and doing what people are willing to pay them for. The wages of other Americans have stagnated, they say, because most Americans are worth less in the market now that new technologies and globalization have made their jobs redundant.

Baloney. Even if they’re being rewarded, there’s no reason why the “free market’ would reward vast multiples of what the rich were rewarded decades ago. The market can induce great feats of invention and entrepreneurialism with lures of hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars — not billions. And as to the rest of us succumbing to labor-replacing globalization and labor-saving technologies, no other advanced nation has nearly the degree of inequality found in the United States, yet all these nations have been exposed to the same forces of globalization and technological change.

In reality, the ultra-wealthy have rigged the so-called “free market” in America for their own benefit.

Billionaires’ campaign contributions have soared from a relatively modest $31 million in the 2010 elections to $1.2 billion in the most recent presidential cycle — a nearly 40-fold increase. What have they got for their money? Tax cuts, freedom to bash unions and monopolize markets, and government bailouts. Their pockets have been further lined by privatization and deregulation.

  1. The third myth is that they’re superior human beings — rugged individuals who “did it on their own” and therefore deserve their billions.

Bupkis. Six of the 10 wealthiest Americans alive today are heirs to fortunes passed on to them by wealthy ancestors.

Others had the advantages that come with wealthy parents. Jeff Bezos’ garage-based start was funded by a quarter-million dollar investment from his parents. Bill Gates’s mother used her business connections to help land a software deal with IBM that made Microsoft.

Elon Musk came from a family that reportedly owned shares of an emerald mine in Southern Africa. (By the way, when I mentioned this in a recent video, Elon went nuts — tweeting that “You [sic] both an idiot and a liar.” Hmmm. Did I touch a nerve, Elon?)

Don’t fall for these three myths. Trickle-down economics is a cruel joke. The so-called “free market” has been distorted by huge campaign contributions from the ultra-rich. Don’t lionize the ultra-rich as superior “self-made” human beings who deserve their billions. They were lucky and had connections.

In reality, there’s no justification for today’s extraordinary concentration of wealth at the very top. It’s distorting our politics, rigging our markets, and granting unprecedented power to a handful of people.

The last time America faced anything comparable was at the start of the 20th century. In 1910, former President Theodore Roosevelt warned that “a small class of enormously wealthy and economically powerful men, whose chief object is to hold and increase their power” could destroy American democracy.

Roosevelt’s answer was to tax wealth. The estate tax was enacted in 1916, and the capital gains tax in 1922. Since that time, both have eroded. As the rich have accumulated greater wealth, they have also amassed more political power — and have used that political power to reduce their taxes.

Years later, Franklin D. Roosevelt saw the 1929 crash not only as a financial crisis but as an occasion to renegotiate the relationship between capitalism and democracy. Accepting renomination in 1936, he spoke of the need to redeem American democracy from the despotism of concentrated economic power.

“Through new uses of corporations, banks and securities,” he said, an “industrial dictatorship” now “reached out for control over Government itself. … [T]he political equality we once had won was meaningless in the face of economic inequality. A small group had concentrated into their own hands an almost complete control over other people’s property, other people’s money, other people’s labor—other people’s lives… Against economic tyranny such as this, the American citizen could appeal only to the organized power of Government. The collapse of 1929 showed up the despotism for what it was. The election of 1932 was the people’s mandate to end it.”

FDR gave workers the power to organize into labor unions, the 40-hour workweek (with time-and-a-half for overtime), Social Security, unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation for injuries. He raised taxes on the top.

But since then, these reforms have also eroded.

The two Roosevelts understood something about the American economy and the ultra-rich that has now reemerged, even more extreme and more dangerous. We must understand it, too — and act.


By the way, here’s the new video that put Musk into a lather:

The Week’s Best Cartoons 6/11

There always seems to be one topic at the forefront that gets the most attention from the political cartoonists, and this week it is no surprise that it’s the televised hearings of the House Committee that has been tasked with investigating the events leading up to and during the attempted coup on January 6, 2021.  And the second most popular topic, again understandably, is the gun insanity that has swept this nation.  As she does so brilliantly every week, TokyoSand has gone through them and selected the ‘pick of the litter’ for our cartoon viewing pleasure.  Please do click on the link at the end of this post to see all the cartoons, for what I have here is but a small sampling.  Thank you once again, TS!

Here’s how editorial cartoonists covered the start of the January 6th Committee hearings.

be sure to check out the rest of the ‘toons!

What About the “Woke” Right?

Our friend Jeff over at On the Fence Voters has neatly summed up the “State of the Nation” these days. Let me just say that by the Republican’s faux definition of the word “woke”, I am PROUD to be WOKE … I have to live with my conscience 24/7 and my conscience likes me being Woke! Thanks Jeff … great summation!

On The Fence Voters

According to our conservative friends, being “woke” refers to those who are ridiculously politically correct and who speak out too much on social injustice. It’s commonly used as a pejorative term when referring to those on the left, increasingly paring it with phrases like “woke mob” or as a sledgehammer, using “anti-woke” to proclaim their vehement opposition.

The right-wing’s been successful at putting the term into the general public. And they do it by minimizing and mocking those standing up against generations of injustice suffered by marginalized folks such as the LGBTQ and people of color communities.

But the truth is, while they like to hang the term on liberals, we could and should hang it around the necks of today’s GOP and use it the same way on them. Because what we’re seeing right now play out across America is beyond radical. Perhaps we could call it “extreme wokeness.”…

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Filosofa’s Grumblings …

So much for that ‘poisoned pill’ that Twitter said would stop the clown, Elon Musk, from effecting a hostile takeover of the social media giant.  Around noon today, I received no less than five “breaking news” texts on my cell phone informing me that Twitter has agreed to allow Musk to proceed with his takeover for somewhere in the neighborhood of $44 billion.  The deal is expected to be completed sometime this year.  Now I have a dilemma.  I said last week that I will close down my Twitter account the day Elon Musk takes over Twitter.  I meant it then, and I still mean it.  However, I’ve also read a number of people who I respect saying that those of us who stand for truth & justice, for racial and income equality, for the LGBTQ community and more, should stay on Twitter and fight, continue to make our voices heard, continue to hassle, annoy, and generally be a pain in the arse of those who are bigoted and corrupt.

What are your thoughts on this?  Admittedly, it made me step back for a minute and think, and I still haven’t come to a firm conclusion.  Why would I shut down my account?  What would be gained?  My thoughts are that I would be making a statement, and that if enough of us leave Twitter, Elon Musk will rue the day he even thought about making such a purchase.  What would be gained?  I would have assuaged my own conscience, for I do not believe in supporting the wealthy in any way, shape, or form.  I would not hate myself for talking the talk but failing to walk the walk.  But what would be lost?  Communications with friends and people from all walks of life.  What else would be lost?  A layer of stress, an hour or so of my daily time. A venue for my blog posts – my voice.

Needless to say, I’m undecided as yet, and I likely have some time to ponder, since I understand that Musk, for all his wealth, doesn’t have immediate access to a measly $44 billion and will have to play some liquidation games in order to fund his latest circus act.  Remember my post from earlier this month,  where I calculated that over 26 million children could eat for a full year for what Musk is paying to buy yet another plaything for his bored mind?  This, my friends, is why I despise those with great wealth … if they helped people as much as they could, they would no longer have that wealth.  That they have millions or billions of dollars is an automatic tell that they do nothing to help either the planet or humankind.

I’ll let you all know when I decide which direction I plan to take, but right at this moment I’m inclined to say it just isn’t worth the aggravation and stress to remain on Twitter, which will be a private company owned and operated by a wealthy clown.  Let me know your thoughts …

Speaking of Twitter … I came across this on Sunday and it damn near brought a tear to my eyes.  I almost never share people’s tweets here on ye olde blog, but this one … I need to share it with you and I hope Ron DeSantis and his bunch of homophobic, racist boot-lickers have seen this at least 1,000 times!

“Gov DeSantis, when I was a little boy growing up in Florida I had to drink from the “colored ” fountain at the Volusia County Courthouse. The “white “water was cool but ours was warm. This made me feel bad. May I share this with students in Florida?”

Is this what the Republicans want to take this nation back to?  Sure as hell seems like it sometimes, doesn’t it?

A Man Without A Heart

My mother used to advise, “If you have nothing kind to say, then say nothing.”  Well, unfortunately if I heeded that advice today, Filosofa’s Word would not exist.  The world today is not conducive to kind thoughts and words.  In fact, were I to heed her advice, I might just as well have my vocal cords removed, for I doubt I would ever speak again.  Okay, okay … perhaps I exaggerate a bit, for I am capable of the occasional kind word, but more often than not I find what I have to say is less than kind.  Especially when the topic is … certain people.

Today, it is none other than Elon Musk who is stirring my ire, raising my hackles, and making me grrrrrrrrowl. 

Earlier this week I mentioned in a post that Musk had paid $2.64 billion to purchase 9.2% of Twitter stock.  There was much speculation that he intended to assume a seat on the Board of Directors with the intention of overriding the former guy’s lifetime ban from Twitter.  But then, he turned down the seat on the Board, which left people scratching their heads.  It was, however, suggested that, since members of the Board are limited to owning no more than 14.9% of the stock, Musk could not have become a majority shareholder if he accepted the seat on the Board.  Well, folks, it seems that was his goal after all …

Yesterday, it was announced that Musk had offered to buy every remaining share of Twitter for a price of $54.20 per share, or a total cost of roughly $43 billion, which would effectively make him the sole owner of what is currently the most widely-used social media outlet.  This is what’s known as a ‘hostile takeover bid’ and make no mistake … his intent is hostile.  Twitter has kept the newslines hot today as Twitter executives and employees try to decide what to do.  On the one hand, if Musk’s offer is rejected, he threatens to “reconsider [his] position as a shareholder.”  On the other hand, if the current owners bend under the pressure and agree to sell the entire company to Musk, Twitter may find it loses a huge chunk of its followers.  I, for one, will close my Twitter account forever if Elon Musk takes over, and I know of many others who will also.  In fact, that has been the biggest topic of conversation on Twitter today.

So, why does Musk want to own all of Twitter?  He claims it is to create a “platform for free speech around the globe.”  Bullshit.  His intent is more likely to create a safe haven for the likes of Donald Trump, Madison Cawthorn, Vladimir Putin, and others while free speech for the average person would be trampled.  It would, no doubt, become the world’s largest outlet of lies, conspiracy theories, and disinformation.  No doubt QAnon, the Proud Boys, Oathkeepers and others would be applauding.  Ol’ Margie Green and her crew of clowns would be dancing naked in the streets!

Now, I have two problems with Mr. Musk’s actions.  First, of course, is that while Twitter isn’t perfect, it is a free and open forum that most of us use at one time or another for one reason or another.  We can discuss, disagree, agree, empathise, etc., without fear of retaliation.  It is already a free speech venue – I don’t want Trump back on Twitter … it is much more pleasant there without him!  Musk, like Trump, is a bully – he has bullied many people on his Twitter feed and cares not what he says.

But more important is my second reason for being dead set against Musk’s takeover – money … or rather, what money can do for people in need.  Elon Musk is uber-wealthy and has wasted more money in the past year than most of us will ever see in a lifetime.  Paying $2.64 billion to buy 9.2% of Twitter stock was disgusting … sickening.  Now to be willing to pay an additional $43 billion to own the platform makes my blood boil.  I’ve put together some quick & dirty numbers (chart below) … the amount of his total potential investment would be $45.6 billion, or enough to feed 26 million children for one year, or 1.4 million for the entire 18 years of their youth, from cradle to college!!!  How many lives could be not only enriched, but saved, if only Elon Musk had a heart instead of a toxic black hole inside his chest.

There is a reason that I am dead-set against anybody having excessive wealth and Elon Musk is the personification of that reason.  He does not use one single dime of his wealth to help people, the environment, wildlife, or any of the other causes that have such great needs today.  Instead, he plays dangerous games that increase his own wealth and power while putting the rest of the nation, the world, in jeopardy.

Things That Make Filosofa Grrrrrrowl

I could only shake my head when reading the following headline …

Six Deaths Linked To Drug Overdoses In Northeast Washington

… but probably not for the reason you are thinking.  While I have empathy for the families of those six people, in just the last three days, there have been 117 reported gun deaths, but nowhere will you see that mentioned in the media.  THAT, my friends, is what astounds me.  Has the free press succumbed to the demands of the NRA and the gun manufacturers to downplay gun violence?  Or are we simply so desensitized by the massive levels of gun violence in this nation that we just shrug our shoulders, that it is no longer considered newsworthy?

To date, there have been 11,798 gun deaths this year alone in this country.  Of those, 5,132 were homicides and 6,666 were suicides.  84 children under the age of 11 were killed, 192 injured.  350 teens were killed, 849 injured.  And that’s just in the first 101 days of this year!  Extrapolating the numbers, we stand to see 42,636 gun deaths by the end of this year!  Do we continue to just shrug our shoulders and allow the gun industry to control our lawmakers to the extent that they are unwilling to do anything to stop this madness?

When the framers of the U.S. Constitution drafted that document, this was not what they had in mind.  Back then, there were muskets … not high-velocity assault weapons that can kill hundreds within a few minutes, and they damn sure didn’t intend people to carry guns into grocery stores and schools and simply start shooting.  They did not intend people to own arsenals.  They did not intend parents to buy guns for their children.

So yeah … drug overdose is a terrible thing, and with over 100,000 deaths by overdose in a 12-month period last year, it must be taken seriously.  However, drug overdose is self-inflicted, whereas about half of gun deaths are not, so let us not ignore the horrible gun madness that is plaguing this country.  Surely, we can care about both?

Last month, as I’m sure you’ve heard since it has been plastered all over the media, Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and idiot extraordinaire, purchased 9.2% of the stock in Twitter for a purchase price of $2.64 billion.  Yeah, wrap your head around that one, my friends.  That amount of money could have bought food for 44 million children for a year!  But Musk has never pretended to give a whit about human causes, so why am I surprised, shocked, and sickened by his wastefulness?

Long story short, many trumpeters in the nation were hoping that Musk would take a seat on Twitter’s Board of Directors and instantly re-instate the former guy on Twitter.  Funny, though … when offered the seat, he declined it.  If, in fact, his only purpose for joining the Board would have been to re-instate the former pig guy, then perhaps it was this announcement by Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal that changed Musk’s mind …

“Twitter is committed to impartiality in the development and enforcement of its policies and rules.  Our policy decisions are not determined by the Board or shareholders, and we have no plans to reverse any policy decisions.”

Then again, some are speculating that Musk declined the seat on the Board because board members are limited to owning 14.9% of the company’s stock, and Musk may be plotting to ultimately own a majority 51%.  The games people play with their billions of dollars 🙄.  Isn’t it pathetic that they are so high up in their ivory towers that they cannot see the rest of the world down here struggling simply to survive?

After last week’s acquittal of Matthew Martin, one of the insurrectionists who aided the mayhem and murder in the U.S. Capitol on January 6th last year, I was pleased to read yesterday that another such insurrectionist didn’t get so lucky as to have a Trump-appointed judge who refuses to defend the U.S. Constitution.

Thomas Robertson, a former Virginia police officer, was found guilty on all six counts by a jury.  The charges included impeding law enforcement officers, obstructing an official proceeding, entering and remaining in restricted grounds and tampering with evidence.  Prosecutors provided video evidence and  cited online posts Robertson wrote a month before the attack where he called for an “opened armed rebellion.”

This ‘man’ is a threat to human life … investigators said they found a rifle and bomb-making material in his home and learned that he bought another 37 guns on the internet after his original arrest in January 2021.  Just what was he plotting this time?

Of the more than 2,500 people who entered the Capitol illegally on that day, just over 800 have been arrested in connection with the attempted coup, and this is only the second jury trial for any of the defendants.  Apparently, federal prosecutors are either understaffed, else they don’t see this as the high priority I see it as being.  No sentencing date has been set as yet for Robertson, but the combination of his charges could net him up to 20 years in prison.

Open Your Wallet, Rich Dude!!!

It’s no secret that I have very little use or respect for the ultra-wealthy.  Many rose to the top by climbing on the backs of the rest of us, while others were born with the proverbial ‘silver spoon’ in their mouth.  For the most part, those who have millions or billions in their investment portfolio look down on the rest of us and laugh, unwilling to share their wealth, uncaring whether we live or die.  For his 2023 budget, President Biden has included a serious tax on the ultra-wealthy and while I applaud it, I say it should be more, should cover every person who has more than six figures of net worth.  But who am I?  I’m not wealthy, never wanted to be.  To cut to the chase here … Robert Reich has written his thoughts on the proposal to raise taxes on the rich and he is far more knowledgeable than I, so I shall turn the floor over to him.

Really? A billionaire tax? Now? Are you kidding me?

Why it’s still a real possibility

Robert Reich

29 March 2022

President Biden’s budget, which came out yesterday, proposes a new minimum tax of 20 percent on households worth more than $100 million — which the White House says will reduce federal budget deficits by $1 trillion over a decade. The tax would apply only to the top 0.01 percent — the richest 1 percent of the richest 1 percent. Half of the expected $1 trillion in revenue would come from 704 households worth $1 billion or more.

If enacted, it would effectively prevent the wealthiest sliver of America from paying lower rates than middle-class families, while helping to generate revenues to fuel Biden’s domestic ambitions and keep the deficit in check relative to the U.S. economy.

Recall that America’s 704 billionaires have increased their wealth by $1.7 trillion since the start of the pandemic in February 2020, while most Americans have struggled to make ends meet. That means the billionaires could theoretically pay for everything Joe Biden and House Democrats have proposed — from childcare to climate measures — and still be as wealthy as they were at the start of the pandemic. Elon Musk’s pandemic gains, for example, could cover the cost of tuition for 5.5 million community college students and feed 29 million low-income public-school kids, while still leaving Musk richer than he was before Covid.

The dirty little secret is the ultra-rich don’t live off their paychecks. They live off their stock portfolios. Jeff Bezos’s salary from Amazon was $81,840 in 2020 yet he rakes in some $149,353 every minute from the soaring value of his Amazon stocks, which is how he affords five mansions, including one in Washington DC with 25 bathrooms. (Why would anyone want 25 bathrooms?)

So if you want to tax billionaires, you have to go after their wealth.

But does Biden’s plan have a snowball’s chance of getting this enacted in the hell called Washington? The problem is the old political chicken-and-egg: A big reason why the super-wealthy have done so well is they’ve bankrolled politicians who alter laws (such as tax laws) to give them even more wealth. They’ve bought armies of lobbyists to keep their taxes minuscule and create tax loopholes large enough to drive their Lamborghinis through.

ProPublica’s bombshell report last June showing America’s super-wealthy paying little or nothing in taxes revealed not only their humongous wealth but also how they’ve parlayed that wealth into political power to shrink their taxes. Jeff Bezos, the richest man in America, reportedly paid no federal income taxes in 2007 and 2011. Elon Musk, the second richest, paid none in 2018. Warren Buffett, often ranking number 3, paid a tax rate of 0.1 percent between 2014 and 2018.

All previous efforts to tax America’s super-rich have failed amid major political head winds. Republican senators obviously won’t bite the billionaire hands that feed them, and so – yet again – Biden needs every Democratic senator’s vote. But why would any sane person who has followed politics over the last year suppose that Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema will go along? Haven’t we been here before?

Yes, except that for months now Manchin has been on the receiving end of unremitting horse dung — not just from progressives but from establishment Democrats who accuse him of torpedoing any chance Biden and the Democrats have of retaining control over Congress after the midterms. Manchin has also been criticized by the mainstream press for taking big money from coal interests and then voting down climate measures (see yesterday’s New York Times front page feature story, here). In other words, Manchin badly needs some cred.

Manchin has also expressed concern about the size of the federal budget deficit. And in December, he told the White House he would support some version of a tax targeting billionaire wealth.

What really convinces me Biden’s billionaire tax stands a chance is that I doubt the White House would risk another big public loss to Manchin. After getting all hell beat out of them for building public expectations of passing Build Back Better, only to have Manchin kill it, Biden and his staff would not propose another big initiative unless Manchin had already given it the green light.

What about Sinema? She’ll go along with whatever Manchin ultimately votes for.

So a billionaire tax is by no means a dead. Even in this disappointing year, I’m staying hopeful.

Plenty of Money, No Conscience

I have never been a fan of Elon Musk, but then I’m not a fan of wealthy people who waste their wealth on frivolous ‘toys’ rather than helping people in need.  I see them as people without conscience, without a sense of social responsibility.  Well, as Dan Rather shows us in an email I received yesterday, Mr. Musk has proven what sort of person he is …

This is Not Okay

Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner

This won’t take long. Because there’s not much to say.

It involves something that went out earlier today on Twitter, that social media platform that limits thoughts to 280 characters and can be both inspirational and a cesspool. One user who tends to wade into the latter is the tech billionaire Elon Musk, who posted and then deleted a Tweet that created quite a stir. That he eventually removed his Tweet is welcomed, but it is far from sufficient.

Here is an image of what Musk shared:

For context, Musk posted his tweet in response to this:

I do not want to get bogged down in the details of cryptocurrency, the Canadian government, or the truck blockade. Those are all important stories that deserve their own treatment. I want to get at something far more basic. There are no words to capture the depravity of what Musk did in using a meme of Adolf Hitler, but words are what we have so we must try. It was offensive, disgusting, and shameful. It trafficked in the basest currencies of hate and ignorance.

This kind of dangerous rhetoric cannot go unchallenged. I cannot imagine any respected national public figure in my lifetime doing something like this. It’s not some “tech dude” being provocative. This is appropriating the deaths of millions of people to make a snarky political comment. And Musk is not alone. More and more we are hearing Hitler and the Nazis invoked to demonize science, knowledge, public health, and social and racial justice. There can be no false equivalence in how widespread the Third Reich is used by right-wing actors in their political and social attacks. But we should denounce all instances where the specter of Nazism is bandied about with abandon.

On the individual level this raises serious concerns about Musk, whose public pronouncements have become increasingly strident and aligned with fringe political actors. Meanwhile, his company Tesla is being sued in California for racism.

The opprobrium Musk is getting is well warranted. His behavior raises many questions. Will it hurt the popularity of his Tesla cars? What will it mean for his SpaceX company’s contracts with NASA? Or, will anyone really care? Is this all just normal now, within the spectrum of what is considered “acceptable”?

The fact that he decided to delete his tweet is encouraging, and in ways that are much bigger than Musk, or this incident.

I am confident that the vast majority of Americans and people around the globe find this rhetoric reprehensible. Just because you are a feted centibillionaire (a new word for those in the $100 billion club) doesn’t mean you can get away with this outrageousness. When people rise up and say, “No,” “This is not okay,” “We will not let it stand unchallenged,” the world has no choice but to pay attention. There can be swelling choruses for good. Public pressure can lead to better outcomes.

More generally, we also need to teach more history. There is a great danger in forgetting, about the holocaust, and about other manifestations of hate. When the forces of intolerance push against our common humanity, they must feel a repelling force of dignity and hope. Bullies will not slink back into their holes if their dangerous words are ignored; they will only get louder. But even those with the biggest pulpit cannot ignore the majority when it speaks in powerful unison.

No Mr. Musk, this is not going to be allowed. Even those with unlimited funds can be bankrupt of decency. My hope is that this episode causes Musk to pause and reflect. I desperately desire that we can find ways to start to pull back from some of this caustic rhetoric. And that those who will not, will hear about it.

Snarky Snippets Returns!!!

It seems that every time I log onto any of the news media sites, I am driven to gnashing my teeth and muttering expletives under my breath … or sometimes on top of my breath, which explains how my cat learned the “f-word”!  There is just so damn much to be angry about these days, so much pure idiocy in the world.  I often look at friends and wonder how they can simply ignore the world around them and live in their own little nooks, happily focused on what to wear to a party or the new ornament they bought for their holiday tree or what to cook for supper, with never a mention of climate change, coup attempts, corrupt politicians, mass shootings, etc.  Must be nice to be able to tune it all out, but I can’t do it.  Thus, what follows is my first ‘Snarky Snippets’ post in several months.

Thumbs Down to Time’s “Person of the Year”!

Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” for 2021 is the world’s most wealthy human, Elon Musk.  ELON MUSK???  Seriously???  They couldn’t find anyone more worthy for this honour than a man who is more interested in flying into space for no good reason than in providing food and housing for the poor, or helping victims of a natural disaster regain their lives?  On hearing this announcement, I immediately lost any and all respect for Time and vowed never again to subscribe to this publication.

But then, I took a look back at some of their previous “Person of the Year” selections and realized that I should have parted ways with Time long ago.  For example, Adolph Hitler was Time’s “Man of the Year” in 1938, and Joseph Stalin was actually awarded the honour twice, in 1939 and 1942.  Donald Trump was chosen in 2016 and Vladimir Putin in 2007.  To be fair, they have made some good choices, such as Greta Thunberg in 2019, Lech Walesa in 1981, and Dr. Martin Luther King in 1963.

Elon Musk is a nasty man.  For starters, he called quarantine measures “fascist” and demanded that officials return people’s “freedom.” He then kept his Tesla plant open in defiance of public health orders, with the result that over a hundred Tesla workers contracted COVID. They said the company covered up the outbreak. Then he fired workers after telling them they could take unpaid time off if they didn’t feel safe coming to work. He threatened to rescind his employees’ stock options if they unionized. He broke 11 other labor laws by harassing pro-union employees.  Although his net worth is somewhere above $300 billion, he pays relatively little in taxes and has received $1.3 billion in tax breaks over the past two decades.  He is an arrogant s.o.b. who denigrates any who dare to question or criticize him.

Time defines their “Person of the Year” as: “the individual or group who most shaped the previous 12 months, for better or for worse”, so I suppose in that context it makes some sense that they would glorify the likes of Hitler, Stalin, and Musk.  Personally, though, I would prefer seeing the honour, such as it is, used to pay tribute to those who have had a positive impact on life here on earth.  Bye-bye Time magazine!

Where are the Adults???

People have always and will always have ideological differences about how our government should function and how society ought to work … that’s nothing new.  Since its inception, Congress has been a venue for those differences to be aired and, at best, a compromise reached, at worst a stalemate that did no good for the people of this nation.  All of this is nothing new, but one thing is new and extremely disturbing.  In the past, we have elected adults with at least a modicum of education, a basic understanding of how the government functions, but today it seems the most immature samples of the human species are occupying a portion of the seats in our lawmaking body and are turning the process of governance into a three-ring circus.

There are numerous examples of this, such as Margie Greene and her QAnon conspiracy theories, her praise and adoration for a juvenile murderer (Kyle Rittenhouse).  Or gun-totin’ Lauren Boebert and her hostile, bigoted speech directed toward one of her fellow representatives simply because Ilhan Omar is a Muslim.  Or Paul Gosar, who posted an anime clip on Twitter that showed him killing another representative, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

All of the aforementioned incidents were horrifying examples of people who do NOT belong in Congress or any other branch of government, and all of them made my blood boil.  But perhaps the most disturbing were the holiday pictures taken and posted by Representatives Thomas Massey and Lauren Boebert showing their entire family, even young children, holding assault rifles.  Any mature adult with half a brain would NEVER even consider allowing their children to touch such a weapon, let alone take a picture of them with these instruments of death.  And even if they found it humorous, any adult with half a brain who was in a position of great responsibility to a nation of 330 million people would NOT for one minute post that picture on social media!!!

There are at least a dozen members of this Congress who should never, ever have been elected in the first place and should be occupying a prison cell or a mental hospital rather than an office in the United States Capitol!  I can only hope the people who elected these buffoons in 2020 have seen enough to make much wiser decisions next year!