The Lies: Debunked!

One of the people whose words I often share here is Robert Reich.  There’s a reason for that … Mr. Reich’s credentials would take this entire post to list, but suffice it to say he served under Presidents Ford, Carter, Clinton and Obama, and he is one of the most intelligent and knowledgeable men I know, yet he can explain things in a way that we can all understand.  So here we are, two days before this highly-charged, contentious mid-term election, and Robert Reich has some words of wisdom that he has asked those of us who receive his newsletter to share.  Please take just 4 minutes to watch his video, and as he asks, share it with others if you feel so inclined.

Lies, lies, and more lies

Republican candidates are not only pushing Trump’s big lie, but three others. In these last days before the midterms, let’s continue to spread the truth

By Robert Reich

6 November 2022

In these last exhausting days before the midterm elections of 2022, I thought you might find useful this inquiry into the lies Republican candidates are telling which I and my colleagues at Inequality Media have been circulating.

You see, the so-called “issues” Republicans are focusing on — inflation, taxes, and crime — are not really issues at all. Get below the rhetoric and look at the facts, and these “issues” have been concocted out of nothing.

Yet the media continues to report that these so-called “issues” are gaining traction with voters.

I’m sending you the attached video in hopes you will share with others. At this point, every voter we can reach with the truth is one additional potential vote for decency and democracy.

Two Li’l Snippets From Da Rabbit Hole

I don’t know about you guys, but I seem to be stuck in a rabbit hole filled with darkness and ugly creatures who invade my waking hours and my dreams.  Can we fast-forward to next spring?  Anyway, today I have only two little snarky snippets to share with you … two is enough for now.

You can fly but you cannot eat???

I’m confused.  Yeah, I know, that seems to be pretty much a chronic state for me these days but bear with me a minute.  The headline reads …

Airline pilots ramp up pressure in pay talks as air travel booms

Huh?  Say WHAT???  I’m listening to an endless string of whiners saying they can’t afford to fill their tank up, can’t afford to buy food, wah wah wah … but air travel is booming?  So … is this some alternate universe or … are the whiners unable to afford fuel and food because they spent their entire August pay on tickets to … Hawaii?  Paris?  Mozambique?

Personally, given the cost to the environment of a single 747 taking off, flying across the pond, then landing, I’d vote to shut the airline industry down!  The only people with a valid reason to fly right now are those who are traveling for family emergencies … a dying relative or to rescue a family member from a bad situation.  Those who just want to lie on the beach or play the tourist somewhere in Europe can stay home for now!

If air travel is booming, then obviously the average Joe isn’t hurting from the effects of inflation and rising prices nearly as much as his whining would have us believe.  So Joe … shut the f*ck up, and when you get back from your vacation on the Italian Riviera, perhaps you can have a few dollars left over to donate to the homeless, eh?


It’s the guns, stoopid …

The average Joe who is a registered Republican is not college-educated and not always politically savvy.  That is not intended as an insult, but a statement of fact.  And thus, he/she is more likely than some to play ‘follow the leader’ … in other words, to believe what he is told by those in his circle who speak the loudest.  So, when the Republican politicos yell loudly and often that “CRIME” is the biggest problem this nation has, most Republican voters believe it.

It isn’t the worst problem we have, nor even in the top five, but for the purpose of this discussion, that is neither here nor there.  Let’s assume, just for a minute, that “CRIME” is in the top five worst problems facing this nation.  Now … let me ask you … with what tool are most non-white-collar crimes committed?

Very good!  You get a gold star ⭐!  Yes, guns are the tool that is most often used to commit crimes such as murders, robberies, murders, kidnappings, murders, etc.  And yet … how does it make sense that the Republicans in and out of office propose more guns and shun legitimate gun regulations?  They are all for handing out guns without licensing requirements to any, including those previously convicted of domestic abuse and other violent crimes!  It’s like someone saying they hate strawberries but devouring the entire strawberry shortcake!

The logical question to ask a Republican who is running on the basis of crime rates, “And how do you plan to reduce the number of guns in the hands of civilians in this country?”  Ask … go ahead … ask Kari Lake or Mehmet Oz or if you’re really ready for a few laughs, ask Herschel Walker that question and watch the spittle run down their chins as they struggle for a response!

And here are a few ‘toons I’ve been gathering over the recent weeks …

What’s Your Top Priority?

Charles Blow’s column in yesterday’s New York Times is both a thoughtful and thought-provoking take on the midterms and what is most prevalent in the minds of voters as they head to the polls.

The Battle Between Pocketbooks and Principles

By Charles M. Blow

19 October 2022

You are never in the voting booth alone.

You bring with you your hopes and fears, your expectations and your disappointments. Your choice is made through a maze of considerations, but it hinges primarily on how the candidates — their principles and their party — line up with your worldview. Would they, if elected, represent and promote the kind of community and country you want to live in? Are they on your side, fighting for you and people like you?

Often, the things that are top of mind as you consider those questions are urgent and imminent, rather than ambient and situational. Issues like the economy, for instance, will almost always take top billing, since they affect the most people most directly.

Anger over abortion can also be potent, and in some races, it may determine the outcome, but it is a narrower issue. First, no person assigned male at birth will ever have to personally wrestle with a choice to receive an abortion or deal with health complications from a pregnancy that might necessitate an abortion. So, for half the electorate, the issue is a matter of principle rather than one of their own bodily autonomy.

Furthermore, at the moment, abortion is still legal in most states. Yes, clinics have disappeared completely in 13 of the 50 states, according to the latest data from the Guttmacher Institute, but for millions of American women living in blue states, abortion access hasn’t changed since the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Dobbs.

That is not to diminish the outrage people do and should feel about this right being taken away from them. It doesn’t diminish my personal outrage, nor does it assume that abortion rights are safe in the states that have yet to outlaw the practice.

But I mention it as a way to understand something I’ve seen over and over in the electorate: Incandescent rage, however brightly it burns at the start, has a tendency to dim. People can’t maintain anger for extended periods. It tends to wear on the mind and the body, as everyday issues like gas and rent and inflation push to get back into primary consideration.

I have seen repeatedly how people abandon their principles — whether they be voting rights, transgender issues, gun control, police reform, civil rights, climate change or the protection of our democracy itself — when their pocketbooks suffer. There is a core group of people who will feel singularly passionate about each of these problems, but the rest of the public adjusts itself to the outrage and the trauma, shuffling each issue back into the deck. They still care about these problems as issues in the world, but they don’t necessarily see them as urgent or imminent.

In a New York Times/Siena College poll released this week, voters were asked “What do you think is the MOST important problem facing the country today?”

A plurality, 26 percent, said the economy, and 18 percent said inflation or the cost of living. Just seven percent said the state of democracy, and four percent said abortion.

After the Supreme Court struck down Roe, Democrats saw a measurable shift in their direction, as voters began to say that they were leaning toward the Democrats in the midterm elections. The anger among many voters was palpable; the offense was fresh. But now, that momentum has stalled, and some see a swing back toward Republicans as we get further out from the ruling and worrisome economic news retakes the headlines.

I still believe that anger over abortion will be felt in the midterms. I believe that taking away such a fundamental right feels like a betrayal that must be avenged. I believe that many parents of daughters are incensed at the idea of those girls inheriting an America where they will have less say over their bodies than their mothers had.

But I also know that energy attrition in the electorate is real. I know that historical trends are on the side of Republicans going into the midterms, and even a minor stalling of momentum and erosion of energy could make the already slim chance that Democrats would hold the House of Representatives an impossibly long shot.

In the closing days of this campaign cycle, Republicans are driving home perennial issues: the economy and crime. Democrats are arguing big issues of policy: abortion and protecting democracy. In this battle of pocketbooks and principles, which will win out?

For those with any sense of political vision and history, the policy side must take precedence. Economic issues are cyclical. They’ll always present themselves. But grand issues like bodily autonomy can define generations. And protecting democracy can define empires.

What is the point of a cheaper tank of gas, if it must be had in a failed democracy that polices people’s most intimate choices about their own bodies?

The Facts, Ma’am — Just The Facts

I happened across an article in this morning’s news saying that Kellyanne Conway (remember her, the head bootlicker for a time and inventor of the phrase “alternative facts”) says Trump isn’t lying as much these days.  Yeah, right Kelly … go peddle your own lies somewhere else, for I’m immune to them.  Robert Reich’s column today, however, deals with the lies the Republican Party is relying on to rile the masses and give their candidates a boost on November 8th.  And these are in addition to the Big Lie!!!  Seems to me that if they need so many lies in order to win, their candidates must not be of very high quality.  (Yeah, I know, the understatement of the century 🙄)

The 3 biggest GOP lies of the midterms (in addition to the Big Lie)

Know the truth and spread it.

Robert Reich

17 October 2022

It’s not just the Big Lie. Republicans are telling three other lies they hope will swing the midterms.

They involve crime, inflation, and taxes. 

Here are the GOP’s claims, followed by the facts.

  1. They claim crime is rising because Democrats have been “soft” on crime.

Rubbish. Rising crime rates are due to the proliferation of guns, which Republicans refuse to control.

While violent crime rose 28 percent from 2019 to 2020, gun homicides rose 35 percentStates that have weakened gun laws have seen gun crime surge. Clearly, a major driver of the national increase in violence is the easy availability of guns.

The violence can’t be explained by any of the Republican talking points about “soft on crime” Democrats.

Lack of police funding? No. On average, all cities — whether run by Democrats or Republicans — saw an increase in police funding in 2022.

Criminal justice reforms? No. Wherever bail reforms have been implemented, re-arrest rates remain stable. Data shows no connection between the policies of progressive prosecutors and changes in crime rates.

In fact, crime is rising faster in Republican, Trump-supporting states. In 2020, per capita murder rates were 40 percent higher in states won by Trump than in those won by Joe Biden.

Republican policies have made it easier for people to get and carry guns. Republicans are lying about the real cause of rising crime to protect some of their biggest supporters, big gun manufacturers and the NRA.

  1. Republicans claim that inflation is due to Biden’s spending, and wage increases.

Baloney. Biden’s spending can’t be causing our current inflation because inflation has broken out everywhere around the world, often at much higher rates than in the US. 

Besides, heavy spending by the US government began in 2020, before the Biden administration, in order to protect Americans and the economy from the ravages of COVID-19 — and it was necessary.

Wages can’t be pushing inflation because wages have been increasing at a slower pace than prices — leaving most workers worse off.  

The major cause of the current inflation is the global post-pandemic shortage of all sorts of things, coupled with Putin’s war in Ukraine and China’s lockdowns.

The biggest domestic culprit for America’s current inflation is big corporations that are using inflation as an excuse for raising prices above their own cost increases, resulting in the highest profit margins since 1950 — while consumers are paying through the nose.

The biggest domestic cause of inflation is corporate power. Republicans are lying about this to protect their big corporate patrons.

  1. Republicans say Democrats voted to hire an army of IRS agents who will audit and harass the middle class.

Wrong. The IRS won’t be going after the middle class. It will be going after ultra-wealthy tax cheats.

The Inflation Reduction Act, passed in July, provides funding to begin to get IRS staffing back to what it was before 2010, after which Republicans cut staff by roughly 30 percent, despite increases since then in the number of Americans filing tax returns.

The extra staff are needed to prevent high-end tax evasion, which is more difficult to root out (the ultra-wealthy hire squads of accountants and tax attorneys to hide their taxable incomes). It’s estimated that the richest 1 percent are hiding more than 20 percent of their earnings from the IRS.

The Treasury Department and the IRS have made it clear that audit rates for households earning $400,000 or under will remain same.

Republicans are lying about what the IRS will do with the new funding to protect their ultra-wealthy patrons.

None of these three lies is as brazen and damaging as Trump’s Big Lie. But they’re all being used by Republican candidates in these last weeks before the midterms. 

Know the truth and share it. 

Misplaced Priorities

The effects of climate change are predicted to bring us our hottest summer ever and one with even more hurricanes, tornadoes, and extreme wildfires than past years. We are told that we should expect rolling electricity ‘blackouts’ this summer as power companies try to protect the electric grid from damage due to overuse.  We have become a nation known for its mass shootings, known for people who carry a gun into churches, schools, and grocery stores just looking for trouble – we are not safe shopping for food, and our children are no longer safe in school.  There is a war in Ukraine (just in case you’ve forgotten) that is likely to expand into other nations and may well ultimately involve the U.S.  Our voting rights are being stripped, states are passing ridiculous laws to deny women of their rights and children of the right to learn those things they need to know. Far too many people cannot afford adequate, let alone quality healthcare, and the quality of healthcare for the average person is poor, to say the least.  Women’s rights, voting rights, civil rights, are being rolled back by the Courts at an alarming rate.  Racism and homophobia are on the rise, with violent episodes of each happening around the nation.  And yet … what are the people of the United States concerned most about?  Inflation. Yep, the rising costs of fuel and groceries are hitting their pocketbooks directly, so those somehow matter more than protecting the planet or saving people’s lives.  Somebody find me a tiny violin, please. 🎻

Mind you, I do realize that inflation is a problem, more for the poor than for the rest of us.  But it is not a problem that is unique to the U.S. … it is global!!!  Every nation on earth is suffering to a greater or lesser extent for numerous reasons, not the least of which is disrupted supply chains due to Putin’s war against Ukraine!  And the people doing the most complaining are those who, while it may be annoying and inconvenient, CAN still afford to put enough fuel in their cars to get where they need … yes, I said need … to go and CAN still afford enough food to feed their families!  They are more worried about whether they can take a cross-country vacation than whether their own children are safe in school and whether their grandchildren will have air to breathe!!!

These people need to get over themselves, to learn to be a bit more frugal, combine errands to use less fuel, turn the damn a/c off at night, eat chicken or fish instead of beef … better yet, what better time to go vegan?  Life in any nation is going to have its ups and downs … we have far more pressing and critical problems in this country than the price of a gallon of gasoline or the price of grapes.  If we don’t wake up and wake our legislators to the effects of climate change, it will soon be too late.  Oh, speaking of which … a headline in the New York Times caught my eye yesterday …

How an Organized Republican Effort Punishes Companies for Climate Action

A few snippets from the article

  • Across the country, Republican lawmakers and their allies have launched a campaign to try to rein in what they see as activist companies trying to reduce the greenhouse gases that are dangerously heating the planet.
  • In Texas, a new law bars the state’s retirement and investment funds from doing business with companies that the state comptroller says are boycotting fossil fuels. Conservative lawmakers in 15 other states are promoting similar legislation.
  • The pushback has been spearheaded by a group of Republican state officials that has reached out to financial organizations, facilitated media appearances and threatened to punish companies that, among other things, divest from fossil fuels.
  • And last week, the global head of responsible investments for HSBC Asset Management, Stuart Kirk, made a provocative presentation titled “Why investors need not worry about climate risk” at a Financial Times event in London. Describing climate risk as a problem in the far-off future, Mr. Kirk said, “Climate change is not a financial risk that we need to worry about,” adding, “Who cares if Miami is six meters underwater in 100 years?”

If you needed further proof that people live for today and to hell with tomorrow, there it is!  I think we need to be far more worried about global climate change that is a lasting problem, not one that will be solved in our lifetimes, perhaps never if we don’t get busy, than about temporary inflation.  Yes, rising prices are a concern, but not nearly as much so as children being shot and killed in schools, the planet heading toward disaster for all life forms, a war that could yet turn into World War III, and so much more.  Priorities, my friends … priorities.

Put The Blame Where It Belongs

Let’s talk about inflation for a few minutes.  Log onto any news site and you will see something about the current rate of inflation.  Many, even among the mainstream news, have chosen to blame President Biden, but they are turning a blind eye to the reality … it’s easier to pick on the president than do a bit of digging into the causes, right?

First, let’s narrow this discussion to the price of food, for everything else is irrelevant or unnecessary when you get down to the bare bones.  You have to eat, you must have carrots, but you don’t have to have that new pair of shoes or even the latest James Patterson book.  The grocery store is the one place where everyone, no matter their station in life, skin colour, religion, or gender is going to feel the pinch in times of high inflation.

Now … let me ask you a question:  do you think that the big food producers have suffered a loss in profits in these times of inflation and are raising their prices just in order to stay afloat?  If you answered ‘yes’ or ‘maybe’ to that question, you are in for a big surprise.  No, their profits are actually increasing … think about that one for a minute … their profits are increasing while you and I are struggling to afford enough food to keep our family healthy.

Let’s take Tyson Foods, for one example …

Earlier this week, executives at the largest meat processor in the country detailed how dramatically they have raised prices. In the last three months of 2021, Tyson Foods’ “average beef prices rose by nearly one-third while pork prices increased by 13 percent, and chicken by 20 percent,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

The company is blaming everything from labor shortages to supply chain woes for these price hikes, but the reality is that their quarterly profits more than doubled, driven up by surging profit margins for beef, pork, and chicken. Tyson’s stock price jumped 12 percent after this news broke.

Tyson isn’t the only food producer that’s raising prices.  Mondelez — whose brands include Oreo, Ritz, Wheat Thins, and Triscuits — saw its gross profit increase by more than $800 million in 2021, but still jacked up prices by up to 7 percent in January and is leaving the door open to raising them again.  McDonald’s prices rose more than 6 percent last year. In the company’s latest earnings call, the CFO credited strong sales and “strategic menu price increases.” Overall, their net sales for the year rose 13 percent to more than $6 billion thanks to these menu price hikes.

Granted, supply chain issues, labour shortages, and the pandemic are real issues, but the inflation you’re seeing at the grocery store is more often due to … corporate greed.

And now another question:  given the higher levels of corporate profits, do you think these corporations are giving their employees nice raises of at least 7.5% to match the rate of inflation?  Again, if you answered either ‘yes’ or ‘maybe’ you’d be wrong.  While most companies have increased worker wages in order to keep and attract employees, the increases have averaged about half of the rate of inflation.  Back to the example of Tyson Foods … CEO John Tyson made $13.74 million last year, an increase of more than 22% over the prior year, while Tyson employee’s pay increases averaged 9%.

In these times of rising inflation, the rich continue doing what they’ve always done, getting richer off the labour of their workers and artificially raising prices, while the poor get poorer, even if they receive a modest pay increase.  The minimum wage in this country is still $7.25 and has not been raised since July 2009!  Congress has steadfastly refused to raise it for the past 13 years because a large number of members of Congress are in the pockets of corporations and corporate CEOs who donate to their campaigns.  At this rate, the minimum wage will still be $7.25 at the end of this decade.  It rather shoots down the theory of “Trickle-down economics,” doesn’t it?

And to add insult to injury, most of these corporations find ways to pay very little in taxes, thus leaving the bulk of the tax burden to those of us who life payday to payday.

So, next time someone tries to blame President Biden or Democrats for inflation, know that the real blame is on the wealthy corporations who are pocketing their profits rather than trying to help their workers or the rest of us struggling in this era of the pandemic!  Greed and arrogance go hand in hand and are destroying the country in more ways than one.

Bah Humbug!

Last year on Christmas Eve, Trump tweeted …

“People are proud to be saying Merry Christmas again. I am proud to have led the charge against the assault of our cherished and beautiful phrase. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!” – 9:56 PM – 24 Dec 2017

The whole thing about whether people say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” was the most inane thing to begin with, made even more pitifully stupid by Trump’s lies that Obama never said “Merry Christmas”, which was debunked by numerous video clips.  But to the point … Trump claimed last year that he had won the “war on Christmas” that never existed, and that people were happily walking about wishing each other a “Merry Christmas”, which also wasn’t true, for even more people, present company included, were saying “Happy Holidays” in protest of Trump and his inanity. bah humbugThis year, however, almost nobody is likely to have much Christmas spirit or be in the mood to say anything other than “Bah, humbug!” when the word ‘Christmas’ is mentioned, and especially if it is mentioned in conjunction with one Donald Trump.  Why?  A single word:  tariffs.

Here are just a few headlines for you …

  • Coke is raising soda prices because of aluminum tariffs

  • The trade war reaches Procter & Gamble — and into the medicine cabinet

  • Soda, Beer Prices Up As Tariffs Start To Hit Home


  • The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers predicts the average price of a new vehicle will increase $5,800 if the president imposes a 25 percent tariff on imported models.

Trump-xmas-tax-billAnd just in time for Christmas, too!  Doesn’t it feel great to be able to say “Merry Christmas” again?  But … how will you explain to the children that no, they cannot have a new bike this year, or even a new pair of shoes, but how about some nice socks?  The bike will cost 20% more, but that isn’t even the problem, for you simply won’t have any money after you’ve paid more for food, cleaning supplies and medicine, not to mention the price increases at the pump … OY VEY!Charlie-Brown-treeThe U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a report in July trying to hit home just how much every state is affected by retaliatory tariffs from China, the EU, Mexico, and Canada. Several of the hardest-hit areas are in crucial swing states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, the group said. “The administration is threatening to undermine the economic progress it worked so hard to achieve,” President and CEO Tom Donohue said in a statement.

Even some of Trump’s boot-lickers understand better than he the likely effects of his tariffs:

tax-cuts-rich-xmas-2Senator Orrin Hatch’s Finance Committee is working on legislation to rein Trump in. Separately, Senators Bob Corker and Pat Toomey are still plotting what some have called a “hand grenade” amendment to stop Trump’s offensive.  Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts said that the committee has met with the president about this issue. But Trump is “a protectionist who has his policy wrapped around the rear axle of a pickup. And it’s hard to get out.”

The tariffs could hurt more than consumers who shop at Walmart. They’re expected to impact the effort to rebuild after Hurricane Florence brought damage to the Carolinas. That could be due to the increase in wood prices due to the tariffs, other materials needed for rebuilding were impacted too like sheetrock.

Forbes has an interesting assessment of approximately how much the sticker price of the 20 best-selling cars in the U.S. would likely increase.  Most average $3,000 – $4,000, but some as much as $8,000 – $9,000.  Talk about sticker shock.

tax-cuts-rich-xmasThose of you who saw a bit of an increase in your weekly pay after the December donor tax cuts went into effect … do you think all these price increases on everything from toothpaste, soap, laundry detergent, and paper towels to bikes, cars, and camping equipment will be offset by that tax increase?  Seriously?

Of course, when Trump imposed his latest round of tariffs on China a week or so ago, billionaire Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that “Nobody is going to actually notice it at the end of the day.”  Easy for him to say … his net worth is $2.9 billion!  I doubt that an extra dollar for a tube of toothpaste or even an extra $9,000 for his next car will cause him to so much as bat an eye.  Ross also said that China would not retaliate … they did so the very next day.

But for the rest of us, in addition to price increases in almost every purchasing venue, we will begin seeing job losses, reduced GDP (Gross Domestic Product), an increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), and yet wages will not increase, or only marginally.  I wonder what Trump will have to say about the economy then?  When you start to feel the pinch, be sure to send Donald Trump a card that says, ‘Merry Christmas’, eh?