Jaw-Dropping Snarky Snippets …

The radar is busy tonight, so many different things on the screen that have me gritting my teeth and wearing the scowl that seems to be permanently etched on my face.  The first snippet is one that will give you nightmares.


He can’t keep a secret …

Just yesterday evening, CNN reported that a Russian spy who was operating in a high-level capacity within Putin’s government, was extracted by the U.S. in mid-2017, in part because high-ranking intelligence officials feared that Trump’s inability to keep his mouth shut would put the spy’s life in danger.  Believe it or not, Trump sycophant Mike Pompeo, who was then the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), was behind the move.

The decision was made shortly after the May 2017 meeting in which Trump discussed highly classified intelligence with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and then-Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak, much to the horror of the intelligence community.

There were other reasons the intelligence community felt the “asset” might be compromised, but think about this one for just a minute, folks.  The ‘man’ who holds the highest position in the government of a nation of some 330 million people, a ‘man’ who is privy to nearly every bit of classified information in the nation, is not trusted by his own intelligence people, cannot be trusted to keep a secret, to keep his mouth shut.  He needs a keeper … make that a tag-team of keepers … lest he give his buddy Putin the nuclear codes!  Ponder on that one as you drift off to sleep tonight.


Irresponsible to the nth degree …

I wanted to laugh, I wanted to cry … instead I held my head and let forth a string of language that is not appropriate for this blog.  Former Goldman Sachs executive and current Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin announced that there will likely be more tax cuts in 2020!  What made me laugh about the whole thing was remembering 1988 when George Bush, Sr., said repeatedly – “Read my lips:  no new taxes”, and now I would applaud a president who promised “No new tax cuts!  My how times change.

“I think there’s no question the U.S. economy is in very good shape. As we look around the world, there’s no question that China is slowing, Europe is slowing — the U.S. is the bright spot of the world. And regards to a middle-class tax cut, you know, we’ll be looking at tax cuts 2.0, something that will be something we’ll consider next year. But right now, the economy is in very, very good shape.”

mnuchin-2

Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of Treasury

Trump and Mnuchin obviously need lessons in how budgets and economies work.  Our national debt is spiraling out of control, currently at $22 trillion and growing every day, and they want to give another tax cut?  Crazy!  Why?  Because, my friends, next November 3rd we will all go vote for either Trump or a democrat … and Trump figures if he can tout another tax cut that won’t help any but his rich friends, we will all fall to our knees and kiss his feet and then go to the polls and vote for him.  This, my friends, is madness.  Just about the very last thing this nation needs is another tax cut.

To further cut taxes is the height of fiscal irresponsibility, yet those who are easily fooled will applaud, will believe that they are getting something … never mind that their grocery bills have increased by $40 per month as a result of Trump’s tariffs, and never mind that the cost of a gallon of gasoline has increased by 43% since 2016.  Meanwhile, the companies to whom you give your hard-earned dollars like Exxon, Amazon, Netflix, Delta, IBM, etc., will happily pay no taxes at all.  Don’t be fooled, folks … sooner or later, the economy will reflect the perfidy of cutting income by removing taxes from the ones who can most afford it.


Dynasty???  I think not …

Trump’s creepy re-election campaign manager, Brad Parscale, has a plan …

Parscale

Brad Parscale, Trump campaign manager

“The Trumps will be a dynasty that will last for decades, propelling the Republican Party into a new party. One that will adapt to changing cultures. One must continue to adapt while keeping the conservative values that we believe in. I think they’re all amazing people, with amazing capabilities. I think you see that from Don Jr. I think you see that from Ivanka. You see it from Jared.”

I think that Mr. Parscale defines the word ‘amazing’ much differently than the rest of us.  I find them all a bit ignorant and a whole lot ugly, both inside and out.  One Trump is more than enough, thank you Brad.  If I believed his prediction for a single minute, I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this post, but would be headed to the nearest point of exit from this country.


Science vs Trump …

wilbur-ross

Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce

Remember last week’s fiasco with Trump, the sharpie, Hurricane Dorian and Alabama?  Well, today the New York Times reported that Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross actually threatened to fire top employees at NOAA, the federal scientific agency responsible for weather forecasts, for correcting Trump’s dangerous misinformation.  I said last week that it is a very dangerous situation when any politician, but especially one with the power of the president, can control what scientific information the public has access to.  That Trump’s minion Ross was all too willing to do his bidding, to fire scientists to assuage Trump’s ego, is horrendous.

We also found out that it was Ross himself who contacted Neil Jacobs, the acting administrator of NOAA, from Greece where Ross was traveling and instructed Dr. Jacobs to fix the agency’s perceived contradiction of the president.  Fix it???  It wasn’t broken!  It was accurate … it was Trump’s statement that needed fixing, that was erroneous.

So now, do all scientists need to petition Trump for permission to state their findings on every front?


Still more competition!

Mark-Sanford.jpg

Mark Sanford, 2020 GOP Candidate

Yet another republican has thrown his hat in the ring for the party’s nomination for the 2020 presidential election.  First there was Bill Weld, then Joe Walsh, and now Mark Sanford, the former governor of South Carolina.  This one must really frighten Trump for some reason, as he became somewhat unhinged … oh wait, he was already unhinged, wasn’t he?  In a series of tweets, Trump attacked Sanford …

“When the former Governor of the Great State of South Carolina, @MarkSanford, was reported missing, only to then say he was away hiking on the Appalachian Trail, then was found in Argentina with his Flaming Dancer friend, it sounded like his political career was over. It was, but then he ran for Congress and won, only to lose his re-elect after I Tweeted my endorsement, on Election Day, for his opponent. But now take heart, he is back, and running for President of the United States. The Three Stooges, all badly failed candidates, will give it a go!”

‘Twould seem Trump is running a bit scared, eh?  I will have more about Sanford, but for tonight, I am out of steam!


The conclusion to this collection of snippets can only be one thing:  Trump must go!Trump-must-go

 

Ralph Nader Speaks …

Ralph Nader is an American political activist, author, lecturer, and attorney, noted for his involvement in consumer protection, environmentalism, and government reform causes.  I hadn’t heard anything from Nader for years, but he has a blog titled In the Public Interest where he writes once a week or so.

Nader has a long history of activism, which has been directly credited with the passage of several landmark pieces of American consumer protection legislation including the Clean Water Act, the Freedom of Information Act, the Consumer Product Safety Act, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the Whistleblower Protection Act, and the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. He has been repeatedly named to lists of the “100 Most Influential Americans”, including those published by Life Magazine, Time Magazine, and The Atlantic, among others.

His latest entry came onto my radar yesterday, and I thought it was worth sharing … it is both a summation of where we are today, and a warning of where we may be heading.


From Trump Tower to Dictatorial Trump Power Over Law

ralph-naderBy Ralph Nader
August 30, 2019

 

Donald Trump is “dumb as a rock” (to use his phrase) when it comes to the programs and the policies of the federal government agencies over which he is allegedly presiding. However, when it comes to defending and expanding his own political power, Trump is shameless and profoundly cunning.

Trump turns accurate appraisals of himself into accusations that he levies at others. Earlier this month, he questioned whether Joe Biden “is mentally fit to be president.” 

But Trump has found way to spread his toxicity beyond his lying tweets. He has carefully developed formidable barricades to shield himself from the gathering storm regarding his countless impeachable offenses and other serious misbehaviors.

Trump’s remarks, decisions, and asides reveal his plans to stay in office. Trump heaps praise and extra funding on the military. In his travels, Trump likewise incessantly praises the police regardless of the local situations.  Trump has openly said these constituencies are the core foundation against his adversaries that will keep him in office. His White House will keep the military and the police very well endowed.

He also makes sure that big business is happy with him. Some of the bosses are getting anxious about the uncertainty associated with Trump’s use of tariffs and his caustic remarks about leaders of the countries where U.S. companies do business. However, Trump knows that as long as he cuts corporate taxes; deregulates health, safety, and economic requirements on Wall Street; and continues the crony capitalism of subsidies, handouts, and bailouts; the corporate bosses will continue to pay obeisance to Trump.

Manipulating the mass media is child’s play for Trump. He taunts them about how they have to give him top billing because of the profitable ratings his performances brings them. Some in the mass media, nonetheless, expose his wrongdoing with thorough features. Trump, though irritated, ignores these exposés and repels them like water off a duck’s back. It’s all “fake news,” he shouts. His approval polls, though lower than previous presidents, stay firm. So far Trump has faced no real consequences from the revelations of his misdeeds.

The courts, meanwhile, are Donald’s Trump card for endless delays. Who has been sued as president more than Trump? Over two and a half years into his term, litigation against Trump grinds on. Nobody knows how long these court actions will take, what with Trump’s delay tactics and appeals. The top appeal is to the Supreme Court which he believes is 5 to 4 for him on just about everything relating to runaway presidential power and immunities. Trump has appointed 146 judges while in office, including two Supreme Court justices. Trump’s chosen Supreme Court justices are partisan actors who will suit his purposes nicely—it is as if they came from “central casting” for him. Trump has declared unlimited presidential pardon powers, musing that he could even pardon himself.

Labor unions are another big joke to Trump. As they decline, Trump reminds the pro-Democratic Party union leaders that many of their rank and file members voted for him. A troublingly large minority of union workers—over a third— defected to Trump’s camp in 2016, enough to make the union leaders skittish about seriously confronting him.

That leaves the Congress with which he toys. The Republicans are frightened chickens in a coop, peering out at the insatiable Fox. When they look back at their place in history, they’ll have to squint. Sycophants all, except for the late Rep. Walter Jones and Rep. Justin Amash.

As for the Democrats, Trump is blocking subpoenas and orders for witnesses to testify. Trump is also turning down major demands for documents from several House Congressional Committees. Exercising their constitutional authority to oversee the executive branch, the Committee Chairs are filing one law suit after another. Trump laughs and tells his attorneys to keep stonewalling and appealing—which can mean years. That’s how he operated during his sordid failed business career.

Donald Trump, selected by the Electoral College, is daring the Democrats to impeach him. He knows Democrats are divided and can use the Republican dominated Senate as an excuse for inaction. Of course impeachment is a constitutional duty for the House, not a simple political calculation. It is certainly warranted for the most impeachable president in American history.

Trump is thumbing his nose at Democrats daily, blocking oversight, allocating appropriated funds by executive dictate, brazenly freezing enforcement the laws or revoking regulations that protect the health, safety, and economic wellbeing of the American people, enriching himself through emoluments, and also casting aside the Constitution and the rule of law regarding his military and foreign policy aggressions.

Trump has neutralized our country’s checks and balances and separation of powers, including judicial accountability. He adds to his monarchal presidency by unleashing the Republican Party’s suppression of the vote and other electoral shenanigans.

If the law ever catches up to Trump, he has many toadies who are willing to engage in “wag the dog” distractions. They are his war-hawk on steroids, national security advisor lawless John Bolton and the militaristic Secretary of State Michael Pompeo who travels the world threatening half of it. The new Secretary of Defense, from the Raytheon Corporation, presents no restraint in contrast to his predecessor Jim Mattis, cashiered by Trump.

If Trump wins, America loses. The outcome is up to you in November 2020. Be alert and prepared for tumultuous upheavals should Trump lose by a narrow margin.

Text dividers

And The Winners Are …

I wrote a good bit about the republican’s tax cuts that would benefit mainly the wealthy back in 2017 when it was first passed into law.  Since then, I have only mentioned it in passing for the most part.  But today I would like to revisit the topic.  A lot of middle income wage earners are just now figuring out that it was not much more than a shell game whereby they saw a slight increase in their weekly pay, but at the end of the year, when it came time to file their taxes, they were left slack-jawed, wondering why, for the first time in decades, they owed money at year end.

If you have found yourself in that situation, take heart, for some people truly did receive a benefit from the 2017 tax cuts!  Companies like Amazon, Chevron, General Motors, Delta, Halliburton, and IBM paid NO income taxes for the year 2018!  Aren’t you happy?  Aren’t you dancing a jig?  According to the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), some 60 Fortune 500 corporations were highly profitable, yet paid no income tax, and in some cases even received rebates!

Take Netflix, for example.  The company earned $845 million, its highest profit ever, and paid not a single dime in income taxes.  In fact, they recorded a $22 million federal tax rebate.  Then there was Amazon who nearly doubled their pre-tax income from $5.6 billion in 2017 to $11.2 billion in 2018, yet paid $0 … that’s right Zero, Nada, Zilch … in income taxes. trump-tax-memeThe tax cuts for the wealthy in 2017 lowered the maximum corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% and allowed companies to write off the total cost of capital equipment in the year of purchase, rather than via a depreciation schedule over the course of the life of the equipment.  Look at the results for the top earning Fortune 500 companies …

Company

U.S. Income (millions)

Federal Tax (millions)

Effective Tax Rate

Amazon.com $10,835 –129 –1%
Delta Air Lines $5,073 –187 –4%
Chevron $4,547 –181 –4%
General Motors $4,320 –104 –2%
EOG Resources $4,067 –304 –7%
Occidental Petroleum $3,379 –23 –1%
Honeywell International $2,830 –21 –1%
Deere $2,152 –268 –12%
American Electric Power $1,943 –32 –2%
Principal Financial $1,641 –49 –3%
FirstEnergy $1,495 –16 –1%
Prudential Financial $1,440 –346 –24%
Xcel Energy $1,434 –34 –2%
Devon Energy $1,297 –14 –1%
DTE Energy $1,215 –17 –1%
Halliburton $1,082 –19 –2%
Netflix $856 –22 –3%
Whirlpool $717 –70 –10%
Eli Lilly $598 –54 –9%
IBM $500 –342 –68%
Goodyear Tire & Rubber $440 –15 –3%
Penske Automotive Group $393 –16 –4%
Aramark $315 –48 –15%
AECOM Technology $238 –122 –51%
Tech Data $203 –10 –5%
Performance Food Group $192 –9 –4%
Arrow Electronics $167 –12 –7%

Source: Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy                                            

Still feeling really good about that extra $20 on your weekly paycheck? Let’s take a look at your tax rates.  If you were single and earned between $38,701 and $82,500, your effective tax rate was 22%, or between $8,514 and $18,150.  Sure, you probably paid less if you had any deductible expenses, but still … look again at the chart above.

ITEP’s Five Things To Know on the One-Year Anniversary of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

  • The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will substantially increase income, wealth, and racial inequality.
  • The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will continue to substantially increase the deficit.
  • The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is not significantly boosting growth or jobs.
  • The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act continues to be very unpopular.
  • Despite the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’s lack of popularity and ill effects, many Republican lawmakers are calling for even more tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations.

Next time somebody tries to tell you that the 2017 tax cuts were to benefit the middle class, remember this post and tell them in your loudest voice:  HOGWASH!  And in case your blood pressure isn’t already through the roof, take a gander at this …Corporate tax cuts

King of Debt …

The Commerce Department announced Wednesday that the overall U.S. trade deficit in goods last year soared to an all-time high of $891 billion.  That’s an all-time high … of $891,000,000,000.  That’s the second record Trump has broken in as many months … he must be mighty proud of himself.  But wait … it seems that I recall something he said …

  • “I am a Tariff Man. When people or countries come in to raid the great wealth of our Nation, I want them to pay for the privilege of doing so. It will always be the best way to max out our economic power. We are right now taking in $billions in Tariffs. MAKE AMERICA RICH AGAIN” – 04 December 2018
  • “We are not in a trade war with China, that war was lost many years ago by the foolish, or incompetent, people who represented the U.S. Now we have a Trade Deficit of $500 Billion a year, with Intellectual Property Theft of another $300 Billion. We cannot let this continue!” – 04 April 2018

Now, frankly, although concerning, the trade deficit does not worry me nearly as much as the national debt that rose to a staggering all-time high of $22 trillion last month.  That was the first record he broke.  Between the two, the national debt and the trade deficit, it would appear that Trump’s real goal is to bankrupt the United States of America.  Is this what he meant by “Make America Great Again”?  And worse yet, his blind-faith followers, both in the Congress and among the voters, are still busily applauding him, chanting “Lock her up”, and still waiting for Mexico to pay for the wall that will never be built.tax-cuts-debt.jpgCare to know some of what happens when a nation becomes ‘bankrupt’ and cannot pay its debt?  In part, domestic savers and investors, anticipating a fall in the value of the local currency, will scramble to withdraw their money from bank accounts and move it out of the country. To avoid bank-runs and precipitous currency depreciation, the government may shut down banks and impose capital controls. As punishment for default, capital markets will either impose punitive borrowing rates or refuse to lend at all. And credit-rating agencies will no doubt warn against investing in the country.

mnuchin

Mnuchin … a seedy-looking character

That Donald Trump does not understand economics is obvious, but what’s worse, what is unconscionable, is that he refuses to listen to and learn from those who do understand.  To add insult to injury, Trump’s Secretary of the Treasury is Steve Mnuchin, an investment banker and former hedge-fund manager.  Talk about putting the fox in charge of the hen house!!!

Trump’s ignorance is quite frankly costing us … we the taxpayers, We the People.  Farmers are filing for bankruptcy because Trump’s tariffs have virtually closed the Chinese market for soybeans and damaged exports of milk and pork.  And still, the people are applauding him with their eyes closed and cotton stuffed into their ears.Farm-bankruptcyAnd while our debt increases, while our trade deficits are skyrocketing, while farmers are losing their life savings, Donald Trump wants to spend billions more dollars to build a useless, unneeded wall on our southern border.  As I said … it would seem his goal is to take what he, his family, and his rich cronies can get during his four-year term and destroy the rest.

The biggest cause of the national debt increase is the tax cuts for the very wealthy that were voted into law in December 2017.  If you think of your household budget, it is as if you took a large pay cut, yet still have the same obligations such as mortgage/rent, electricity/gas, car payment, water bill, fuel, food, clothing, etc.  You can see where this just doesn’t work.  Obviously, Trump cannot see, for apparently he either missed out or slept through Econ 101, and has never had to prepare or maintain a household budget.  After all, this is the ‘man’ who thought you had to present identification to buy groceries!

Way back in 2016, when he was campaigning for the office he now holds, he said this:

“People said I want to go and buy debt and default on debt, and I mean, these people are crazy. This is the United States government. First of all, you never have to default because you print the money, I hate to tell you, OK?”

That is reminiscent of the time, when my children were small, and I couldn’t afford to buy my son a toy he wanted.  He said, “But mommy, you have lots of checks!”  Sigh.  It simply doesn’t work that way, as most of us who are thinking individuals realize.  I could understand that lack of comprehension from my 6-year-old son, but not from a ‘man’ aged 72 who is the leader of a nation of some 300 million people!

Perhaps most telling is an incident from 2017 when economic advisors (ones who actually understood economics) were trying to explain to Trump that his policies would ultimately lead to a severe spike in the national debt, and Trump’s response was …

“Yeah, but I won’t be here.”

As long as he can milk it for what it’s worth to him, personally, while he’s in office, he does not care what happens to our economy, our nation, our lives, once he leaves office.  I fear that by the time somebody manages to awaken the republicans, remove their blinders and pull the cotton from their ears, it will be too late to avert a full-fledged depression such as  the one that began in 1929 and lasted for ten years.  milton-friedman

The United States of Chaos

I don’t know about you folks, but personally I am beginning to feel very irrelevant, inconsequential when it comes to the current administration and the republicans in Congress.  You will notice, those of you who are employed, that during the 35-day shutdown, federal income taxes continued to be withheld from your paycheck.  Every pay, like clockwork, we pay our taxes, and most of us don’t grumble about it, for we understand that it is our taxes that are used to build roads, maintain the military, provide food and shelter for those less fortunate, and pay the salaries of those who serve in our government.  It is as it should be.  BUT …

I don’t think there is a single person reading this blog who appreciates Donald Trump spending $50,000 for a toy to keep him entertained on rainy afternoons, during his 60% “Executive Time”.  What, you ask, am I prattling on about?  This …

Trump plays a lot of golf, as we all know.  When he was on the campaign trail in 2016, he criticized President Obama for the amount of time he spent playing golf, and said this …

“I’m going to be working for you. I’m not going to have time to go play golf.” – Donald J. Trump, August 2016

And yet, absorb this:  President Obama played 306 rounds of golf during the entire 8 years he was in office, which averages to approximately 38 rounds of golf per year.  But Donald Trump, the ‘man’ who said he would be working so hard that he wouldn’t have time for golf, has averaged 70 rounds of golf per year for his first two years!  Where’s all that hard work, eh?  But back to his latest toy …

During the 35-day government shutdown when nearly a million federal workers were either furloughed sans pay, or were expected to work without being paid, Trump’s advisors were apparently able to convince him that it would look really bad if he were out playing golf instead of working to come to an agreement to re-open the government and pay our people.  And thus, he went … wait for it … 69 days without playing golf!  And thus, the above toy … a room-sized golf simulator game at the cost of what, for most of us, is an entire year’s salary or more.  It is said by an anonymous White House staffer that Trump paid for the toy with his own money, but frankly, until I see a canceled check drawn on his personal checking account, I am skeptical.

It was recently reported that Trump spends 60% of his time doing ‘executive time’ … time that he spends watching television, tweeting and talking on the phone, and that he doesn’t leave his residence to begin work until around 11:00 a.m.  Now, you can add another hour to his ‘executive time’, for that is the time it takes to play a round of golf on the new toy.  I wonder … will he get all hot & sweaty and have to take another 20 minutes for a shower after he plays?

trump-golfing


And in other news … again on the campaign trail, Trump promised this …

  • In his official campaign launch address, Trump promised to “reduce our $18 trillion in debt,” which will not happen if annual deficits hit $1 trillion in two years.
  • On the campaign trail, Trump said he would “freeze the budget,” which has certainly not happened.
  • Shortly before his inauguration, he told Fox News host Sean Hannity that he would “balance the budget very quickly… I think over a five-year period. And I don’t know, maybe I could even surprise you.”
  • Previous to that, in March 2016, he told Bob Woodward that he could get rid of the debt “fairly quickly.” When pressed, he said, “Well, I would say over a period of eight years.” Since Trump took office, his own budget director called that promise “hyperbole.”
  • Trump asserted during the second presidential debate that he would bring back energy companies, which would make so much money that they could pay off the national debt. This has not happened.

None of those things have happened but guess what DID happen.  On Tuesday, 12 February 2019, the national debt hit a record high of $22 trillion, nearly $3 trillion higher than when he took office just over two years ago.  Never before in our history has it topped $21 trillion.  For perspective, that is $22,000,000,000.  And climbing.  Why?  While there is no single reason, the biggest reason is the reduction in revenue as a result of the tax cuts for the wealthy that Congress passed, and Trump signed in December 2017.  As tax filers are finding out this month, those tax cuts were truly for the wealthy, and the average taxpayer got shafted.  And still, he presses on for his unnecessary, useless border wall.

Over the course of the last two years, we have gone from a democratic-republic to a plutocracy, a government by the wealthy.  We have ceased to matter to the current administration.  And while Trump’s supporters may crow about the low unemployment rate and the stable economy … a change is coming.  We cannot continue to exist on high deficit spending and an increasing national debt without paying the consequences which I believe are waiting just around the corner.  A rising national debt has been compared to driving your car with the emergency brake on.  Trump’s house of cards may well be about to come tumbling down around us, but he’s having fun playing with his new golf toy, so … no worries, right?

Meanwhile, the Trumptanic keeps chugging toward the iceberg …iceberg

Why Billionaires???

What does a person do with a billion dollars?  I’ve been pondering this for a while now, ever since Trump took office and began making decisions and policies that largely benefit only those who already have more money than they know what to do with.  I have a rather socialistic way of looking at the world, believing that it is wrong for one man to live a posh, hedonistic lifestyle while others are starving.  As such, I am aghast at the current administration’s constant pandering to those who already have too much at the expense of those who are barely getting by.

It seems somehow criminal to give tax cuts to the wealthy, while the rest of us are paying about the same or even more than before.  The latest news is that Trump is attempting to force the Tennessee Valley Authority to keep open a power plant that is no longer viable, simply because they buy coal from his uber-wealthy pal and supporter, Robert Murray, owner of Murray Energy of whom I’ve written before.  It seems criminal that Trump is rolling back efficiency standards on light bulbs, which is estimated to carry a high cost to consumers (us).

And those are only the most recent examples.  All of these decisions are made with an eye toward putting more money in the pockets of billionaires.  And what do they do with it?  I don’t know, but I will tell you what they don’t do with it.  They don’t pay a fair portion of taxes on it – taxes that might go toward such things as taking care of people less fortunate.  They don’t donate the bulk of it to worthy causes.  They hoard it.  It seems criminal to me, for any person to have so much money sitting around for bragging purposes while the vast majority of people in the world are truly struggling to stay alive.

I was in that frame of mind a few days ago when I stumbled upon an article by journalist Tom Scocca.  The title of the piece, No Billionaires, caught my eye.  Take a look for yourself …

No Billionaires by Tom Scocca

Tom-ScoccaSome ideas about how to make the world better require careful, nuanced thinking about how best to balance competing interests. Others don’t: Billionaires are bad. We should presumptively get rid of billionaires. All of them.

Does this sound like an incitement to the most dreaded kind of revolution, when people are struck down by the mob simply on the basis of some crude simple standard? It is not. The people who have a billion dollars are fine; they may go on living. It is just that, for the sake of everyone else (and, honestly, for their own sake) they must not be allowed to possess a billion dollars.

No one needs a billion dollars. No one deserves a billion dollars. There is a widespread moral and conceptual error, in a society saturated in the ideology of competition and monetary success, that the property a person has gotten does not simply belong to that person but is, somehow, itself an embodiment of their personhood—that to separate a person from property is to attack their human existence.

This is true to an extent—to the extent that property secures a person food, and shelter, and physical security, and health and futurity. Even, despite the inequities and injustices that have emerged by this level, a person’s opportunities to have leisure, to make art, etc.

None of this comes anywhere near adding up to a billion dollars.

Another error is the belief that billionaires have made their money by adding value to society, of which they take a minor share. One pictures some great industrialist inventing and manufacturing a useful item, which makes every single person’s life better, and in return receiving a small share of the price of the item.

A kindergarten teacher, teaching 25 new people a year not to bite each other and to work in occasional harmony with strangers, produces far more social good in a lifetime than an industrialist does. Even to picture the billionaire as a productive industrialist is too optimistic—read up and down the Forbes list, larded with monopolists, retailers, retail monopolists, the heirs of retail monopolies, real estate magnates, Mark Zuckerberg.

What do they do with all their extra money? They buy atrocious houses. They shut down publications. They buy politicians, over and under the table. Now a whole batch of them have moved directly into government—and we have the most corrupt and incompetent executive branch in memory to show for it.

When we speak of the better billionaires, we simply mean the ones who are not actively malignant. There are no good billionaires. There may be some relatively good people who are attached to a pile of money that stacks one billion dollars high, but the money does not improve them. It makes them worse. Their good points would be no less good if they held only, say, 500 million dollars. And their bad points would be that much less of a problem for anyone else.

Fool On The Hill — Mitch McConnell

The date was 23 October 2010 — nearly two years into President Barack Obama’s first term and two weeks before the first midterm elections of his presidency. Speaking to the National Journal, then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell made a now-infamous statement: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”  A statement that congressional republicans intended to do everything in their power to thwart President Obama could not have been any clearer.  But, listen to what McConnell had to say on Fox News earlier this week …

“Will Dems work with us, or simply put partisan politics ahead of the country?”

Say WHAT???

Here is McConnell’s OpEd, enhanced by Filosofa’s snarky comments in blue:

Sen Mitch McConnell (R-KY) There are worse pictures of him.Last Tuesday I was proud to see that the American people voted keep Republicans in control of the U.S. Senate. But we also learned that, come January, the Republican Senate majority will be dealing with a House of Representatives under Democratic control. What goes around, comes around, Mitchie.

Needless to say, the past two years of unified Republican government will be remembered as a period of historic productivity.  Define productivity???  You haven’t done a damn thing worthwhile!

Both houses of Congress have taken swift action to right-size a bloated federal regulatory state. The Senate has shattered records in confirming the president’s well-qualified judicial nominees, including two outstanding jurists to serve on the Supreme Court.  Um… Mitchie … ever hear of a little thing called “climate change”?  Those regulations were in place in an attempt to save our earth.  And one of your “outstanding” jurists is a sexual predator!

And together, we passed the first comprehensive reform of the nation’s tax code in a generation. Already, Americans’ paychecks are growing, consumer confidence is high and unemployment has reached a near 50-year low.  Have you looked at the federal debt/deficit estimates lately?  And do you realize that your damn tax reform robbed from the poor and gave to the rich?  Rather a reverse Robin Hood!

After this prolific run, I was not surprised to be asked over the past week about just how much the American people can expect from the next Congress under divided leadership. What can we realistically accomplish?  Restoration of sanity and accountability is my hope.

I have good news: reports of the death of bipartisanship in Washington have been wildly exaggerated. In fact, some of the most significant accomplishments of this Congress have been delivered with overwhelmingly bipartisan support.  Eh?  Such as?  Name one, please?

Under bipartisan committee leadership, we took major steps toward restoring regular order to our appropriations process. The Senate passed more funding measures before the beginning of this fiscal year than at any point in the last two decades.  Funding for what?  Certainly not to help the poor, the homeless, the ill.  Nothing that I can see that benefits the people in any practical manner.

The measures included the largest year-on-year increase in defense funding in 15 years, which put an end to the Obama-era atrophy of our armed forcesGeez, Mitchie … the U.S. already had the largest military budget in the western world!  How is that “atrophy of the armed forces”???  Ever hear the term ‘guns or butter’?  We. Don’t. Need. More. F***ing. Military. Toys.  Get it?  We need help for the poor, we need healthcare!

Working closely with counterparts in the House, we found common ground on rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure. In fact, America’s Water Infrastructure Act – designed to improve interstate commerce, water quality and flood safety – passed the Senate by a vote of 99-1.  Let me just pop over to Flint, Michigan and see how much help you’ve given them …

And in August, the Senate voted unanimously to expand Americans’ opportunities to receive technical and career-focused education.  Meanwhile, you’ve done nothing to improve our public schools, and have made a college education damn near out of reach for the average citizen!  There is much, MUCH more to education than technical and job training …

We’ve passed 22 pieces of legislation produced by the bipartisan work of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. From improving the efficiency of Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities to enhancing access to post-9/11 GI Bill educational benefits, each of these pieces of legislation was designed to help America keep its promises to returning heroes and their families.  Not what I’m hearing from the vets.  Have you talked to anybody from AMVETS lately?  I have.

And last month, the Senate passed a landmark package of targeted resources to combat the opioid epidemic. The legislation was produced by five bipartisan committees and included direct input from 72 different senators.  Whoopee.  Meanwhile, those of us who need medications such as insulin to stay alive, cannot afford them. 

Of course, these are just a few highlights of a Congress that has conducted as much serious, cooperative work as any in recent history.  Hah! Let me ask Chuck Schumer or Nancy Pelosi if that’s true …

So make no mistake. The Senate has proven its ability to reach bipartisan solutions to some of the most pressing challenges facing our nation.  I think you mistake the meaning of “bipartisan”.  I’ve seen naught but infighting and chaos in the 115th Congress.

And looking ahead to the coming year, there will be no shortage of opportunities to continue this impressive record of cooperation across the aisle and across the Capitol.  Opportunities, yes.  But will you put aside your love of all things Trump and join the democrats in holding him accountable?  Will you put the 99% ahead of the 1% just for once?  Will you act with the interests of the nation in mind?

What we can make of those opportunities will depend on our Democratic colleagues. Will they choose to go it alone and simply make political points? Or will they choose to work together and actually make a difference?  Look in the mirror and ask that question, Mitchie.

Last week, the American people made it abundantly clear that they prefer that Congress focus on making a difference.  Is this a new concept to you?

That message may have been lost on a few House Democrats, who have made clear their preference for investigations over policy results. After years of rhetoric, it’s hardly news that some are more interested in fanning the flames of division than reaching across the aisle.  Not ‘fanning the flames of division’, Mitchie … it’s called ‘accountability’.  Look it up in the dictionary.

But however Democrats interpret the latest message from voters, Senate Republicans will continue our commitment to delivering results.  Continue???  When did you start?

We’ll keep working to lift the burden on American job creators and small businesses. We’ll stay focused on helping communities across the country seize new opportunities and realize greater prosperity. We’ll seek new ways to make life easier for working families.  “Lift the burden”???  WTF???  The burden is on the poor and middle-class, not the big corporations whose so-called ‘burdens’ you seek to ‘lift’.

Most importantly, in the face of whichever tactics the far left chooses to employ next, we’ll continue to stand for the rule of law. We’ll continue to confirm more well-qualified nominees to serve on our nation’s courts.  Rule of law?  Where is that, Mitchie?  Where was rule of law when Brett Kavanaugh lied under oath?  Where was rule of law when you and your cohorts refused to ban assault weapons because you are in the pocket of the NRA?  Where, indeed, is rule of law in Trumpdom?

This is what the Senate’s Republican majority was elected to do. And we’ll continue to get it done.  Bull. You’ll keep right on licking the boots of the fool in the White House.

It is obvious to me that McConnell was doing damage control, making it clear to the Fox viewers, which likely includes Trump’s & McConnell’s followers, that whatever goes wrong in the next two years will be the fault of those mean ol’ democrats.  Mitch McConnell has been in Washington far too long … time for him to retire!

An Ego Trip …

The people who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 did so based on certain things that they believed in, that they believed would make their lives better, and he promised to fulfill their wishes.  One of those things was a smaller government that provided fewer services.  The reasoning was that if the government shrunk, had fewer employees and provided fewer services, money would be saved and taxes could be lowered, thus putting more money in the pockets of the working class.

However, theory and reality are often not quite the same, and the reality here is that Trump has cut services to the poor and disadvantaged, he has cut taxes for the wealthy, but the working class is no better off than they were before, and in fact have less now than they had before.  Why?  There are a number of reasons, including massive amounts of waste by Trump’s cabinet and by Trump himself, the tax cuts were only to the wealthy, Trump’s tariffs are causing prices to rise, and this …

Trump Military Parade To Cost Taxpayers Nearly $100M

What a colossal and foolish waste of our money!!!

This ego trip was initially, we were told, to cost a mere $12 million.  That would have fed 2,307 average families for a full year, but hey … Trump’s ego is far more important than feeding hungry kids, right?  But now, the estimated cost, $92 million, could have fed 17,692 average families for a full year!  How do we justify this?  What is the purpose of this ‘military parade’?  The answers are that we cannot possibly justify it and the only purpose is to stroke the ego of the megalomaniac in the Oval Office.

The parade is scheduled for Saturday, November 10th, and is to start at the U.S. Capitol and end at the White House where, undoubtedly, the 5,000-7,000 troops who are marching will be expected to salute Trump.  Now, not only is the parade costing an exorbitant amount of money up front, but there is a likelihood that there will be ‘after-the-fact’ costs to repair Pennsylvania Avenue.  Initially, General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that no tanks would be included in the parade, for they would cause “damage to local infrastructure”.  But now, because Trump wants them, eight tanks will make their way to the White House on a street that taxpayers will then be required to repair.

Now, how did this all come about?  Well, remember last July when Trump happened to be in France during their annual Bastille Day celebration?  As a part of the festivities, there was a military parade, and Trump, exactly like the child who, upon seeing his friends new toy, then insists that his parents buy the same toy for him, decided that he must also have a military parade.  And so, during a meeting at the Pentagon on January 18th, Trump ordered just such a parade for himself.  The Washington Post got wind of it and published the story, after which the White House issued a statement that said Trump “has asked the Department of Defense to explore a celebration at which all Americans can show their appreciation.”  Hello?  First, very few, if any Americans will travel to DC to watch this costly display of foolishness. Second … show our appreciation to whom and for what???  Are we supposed to be appreciative to Trump for destroying our environment, our schools, our reputation, and our very nation?  I think not.

Trump originally intended the parade to be on July 4th, Independence Day, but apparently it couldn’t be pulled together quite that soon, so he settled for the November date, which is one day before Veteran’s Day and also marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.  What Trump fails to realize … or simply doesn’t care … is that the Bastille Day parade in France is a long-standing tradition, dating back to 1880!  And, France’s Bastille Day parade is a celebration of citizen’s rights, not military might. The U.S. has no such tradition, nor do we need one.

The U.S. has not held a major military parade in Washington since 1991 to mark the end of Operation Desert Storm. That parade reportedly cost approximately $8 million and was paid for with about $3 million in government funds and the rest with private donations.  Trump’s parade, all $92 million, would be paid for with taxpayer dollars.

Our economy is on the verge of a downturn, due largely to some very poor decisions on the part of Donald Trump and his minions.  The average wage earner has not seen an increase in his or her real wages in years, and in fact, today’s real wages have dropped to 1974 levels (more about this in a future post).  Trump takes credit for a lot that is not his due, and is spending our money willy-nilly on such foolishness as a parade to show American’s gratitude to him, when we should be showing him the back door!  This is nothing but yet another ego trip for Donald Trump at a huge cost to We The People.

Note to Readers:  This evening, a couple of hours after this post was published, it was announced that the parade has been postponed until 2019!  Perhaps sometimes our voices are heard?

Snarky Snippets From A Grump …

Not having slept particularly well for the past several nights and being particularly peeved by everything in the news for the past two days (or is it two years???), I am in an especially foul humour today.  What better time for a few snarky snippets from the mind of a grump, eh?


Score one for Portland, Oregon!

In 2016, the City of Portland, Oregon, passed a city ordinance that would prohibit new fossil fuel infrastructure, including storage and distribution terminals for oil and gas.  But business groups, including the Columbia Pacific Building Trades Council, Portland Business Alliance and Western States Petroleum Association appealed the ordinance to Oregon’s Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA), saying that it was unconstitutional in that it restricted interstate commerce.

LUBA ruled that Portland had violated the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution in that it restricted interstate commerce, but this past January, a Court of Appeals overturned the LUBA ruling, finding that Portland’s ordinance is not unconstitutional.  The coalition of businesses, seeing dollar signs waving ‘bye-bye’ in their sleep at night, took the issue to the Oregon Supreme Court.

Two days ago, the Supreme Court upheld the ruling of the lower court, placing air quality and lives over corporate greed!  What this means is that existing facilities as well as new ones will be subject to size and capacity restrictions.  Some of the corporations affected include energy giants Shell, BP, Kinder Morgan, Chevron, Phillips 66, and NW Natural.

It is a small step in the grand scheme of things, but an important one.  The region is plagued by sea level rise linked to global warming, in addition to other growing environmental hazards exacerbated by climate change.  Let us hope that other cities follow suit and place a higher value on human life than on corporate greed.


Two thumbs-down to Trump’s trickle-down theory …

According to Donald Trump, we are living in “the greatest economy in the HISTORY of America and the best time EVER to look for a job.”  But, as is most always the case when Trump opens his mouth, this is not quite the truth.

First, while it is true that unemployment is low, the nation is experiencing historically low wage growth.   Take a look …wage-chartNow … what happened to that ‘trickle down’ economic theory?  You will remember that the wealthy and big corporations received a Christmas gift last December in the form of significant tax cuts, and you may also remember that Trump said we would all benefit from those tax cuts, as corporations shared their wealth with their workers.  Guess what, folks?  It didn’t happen.

The beneficiaries of that big tax cut decided to keep it for themselves after all.  Surprise!  Instead, these corporations, for the most part, have spent their additional wealth on their top executives and largest shareholders!

A couple of examples:

  • At Walmart, with 2.3 million workers, half made less than $19,177. Late last year, Walmart launched a stock buyback initiative to the tune of $20 billion in order to boost its stock prices, which disproportionately enriches the biggest stockholders in the company.

  • Median pay at McDonald’s is $7,017, in part because McDonald’s directly employs hourly servers at more of its restaurants. Meanwhile, McDonald’s bought back $1.6 billion in stock in the first quarter of 2018 alone.


  • Gap’s very low median pay of $5,375 per year coincided with the company buying back $100 million in stock last quarter.

There are plenty more examples, including most of the restaurant industry, but you get the picture … it ain’t trickling down, folks, it’s trickling up to those who least need it.  Nothing new here, but it proves the lie, once again, of the theory that giving to the rich will ultimately enrich the poor.


Say WHAT???

The ‘man’ who sits in the spot a president should sit in if we had such a critter, is so out of touch with reality that I’m not sure what planet he even hails from!  I’m sure you have all heard by now that Donald Trump believes a photo ID is required in order to purchase food.  So, how in the Sam Heck does he think people who don’t have a photo ID, and there are many such people, buy groceries???  Oh wait … he doesn’t think … he just opens his mouth and spews.

“You know, if you go out and you want to buy groceries, you need a picture on a card — you need ID,” said he at rally on Tuesday.

Funny that … I’ve been buying groceries for more than half a century, and have never once been asked to prove that I am who I am at the checkout!

Trump’s disconnect with those “American people” he claims to be ‘fighting for’, seems to be a gap about the size of the Grand Canyon.  In addition to believing that buying food requires ID, he thinks that we spend $12 per year on our health insurance!  If you aren’t growling yet, you should be.  I spend more than $130 per month for Medicare that I paid into all my life!  The average American spends close to $10,000 a year on health care.

Trump was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and has never had to enter a grocery store, sit down and figure how to pay a mortgage payment or worry about the electric bill that is more than he can afford.  He has never had to fret over money or do without a single thing.  Not once in his life has he had to do without medical care so that his kids could have food to eat. He is not fighting for the ‘American people’ … he is fighting to preserve a way of life for himself and his rich friends … a way of life that 99% of this country cannot even imagine.


And so concludes Filosofa’s Snarky Snippets, although there will surely be more to come soon!  Have a great evening, friends!