A Symptom of the New GOP — Eric Greitens

Eric Greitens … does that name ring a bell for you?  It probably does today, but a month ago, unless you live in the state of Missouri, you probably hadn’t heard of him.  Before I get into his current newsmaking event and the ramifications, let me give you a little bit of background on Mr. Greitens.

He is a Rhodes scholar with a doctorate degree from Oxford.  He is a former Navy Seal who served four tours of duty, rose to the rank of lieutenant commander, commanded a unit targeting Al-Qaeda, and was awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.  Greitens founded a nonprofit organization, The Mission Continues  , to benefit veterans. In 2013, Time included him in its list of the 100 most influential people in the world.  Sounds like a pretty decent all-round guy so far, eh?

A Democrat-turned-Republican, he ran for and won the office of Governor of the state of Missouri in 2016 and took his oath of office on January 9th, 2017.  And here’s where it starts to go downhill.  Greitens left office on June 1st, 2018 – just 17 months after moving into the governor’s mansion – due to a felony indictment for campaign-related offenses including computer tampering, and a credible sexual assault accusation.  A General Assembly had convened to commence impeachment proceedings, but Greitens resigned before the Assembly was able to decide on impeachment.

And yet, after leaving the governor’s office under a dark cloud, Mr. Greitens threw his hat in the ring and in March 2021, announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring incumbent Roy Blunt in the 2022 election.  Now, nothing thus far would have qualified him as one of the nastiest in the GOP, but then last weekend he released a violent campaign advertisement showing him wielding a shotgun, flanked by men dressed in full military gear carrying assault rifles.  In the ad, Greitens declared:

“Join the MAGA crew. Get a RINO hunting permit. There’s no bagging limit, no tagging limit, and it doesn’t expire until we save our country.”

Numerous times lately I have commented that the Republican Party ‘eats its own’ these days, and this terribly violent “anti-Rino” advertisement seems to affirm that.  The party is split along the lines of the Big Lie … if you believe, or at least pretend to believe, that Donald Trump won the 2020 election and if you are willing to swear an oath of fealty to Donald Trump, then you are part of the core GOP.  But if, as numerous brave souls like the ones we heard from in Tuesday’s January 6th committee hearing, you are fact-oriented, believe in democracy, believe in upholding your oath of office, believe that, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, “Democracy is a rule of the people, for the people and by the people”, then you become a GOP outcast, or as they refer to it, a RINO – Republican In Name Only.

Yesterday I talked a bit about the violent threats that had been received by election officials and their families, and I also noted that there had been, since Tuesday’s hearing, a significant increase in the threats of violence against the committee members and their families.  We all understand that the threats against such people as Brad Raffensperger, Rusty Bowers, Gabe Sterling, Adam Kinzinger, Shaye Moss and her mother Ruby Freeman were instigated and incited by none other than Donald Trump and his minions as he tried, illegally, to cling to power.  In the same way, Mr. Greitens’ ad is fully intended to stir the masses, the maga crowd, as they are known, and incite them to commit violence against any who disagree with the maga lies.

This, friends, is the new GOP.  Now, logic tells us that the GOP cannot survive long as a single political party under these conditions, but that it will crumble as it destroys itself from within.  Disagreements over policy are one thing, and a natural part of political discourse, but calling for violence raises the stakes and is untenable in the long term.  But the concern is … what happens in the interim and at the end of the day, where are we left?  The U.S. clearly needs two viable … viable being the key word here … political parties and today we do not have that.  It’s past time for the GOP, if there are any members who haven’t sold their souls to Donald Trump, to take a long, hard look at itself, its members, its ideology and decide what, if anything, they actually stand for.  Eric Greitens is but a symptom of a much larger, lethal disease.

Uh-Oh … The Snark Meter Is High Tonight

It does seem that my snark-o-meter is registering on high these days!  Is yours?


Kevin McCarthy … what a guy

By noon yesterday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had tweeted twelve times.  Here is just one of his many tweets …

The rest of his tweets were all about putting down President Biden and House Speaker Pelosi, blaming them for everything from the price of fuel to the border “crisis” as he calls it.  Now, We the People pay Mr. McCarthy some $193,400 per year of our hard-earned tax dollars to work, to legislate, and not to waste half his day tweeting and the other half obstructing to ensure that no real laws come out of our Congress.

And coming back to that tweet … he’s patting himself on the back for introducing a bill that is intended to stop tech companies, such as Google, Facebook and others from marking GOP solicitation emails as “spam” … which, of course, is precisely what ANY solicitation email from a politician is, regardless of party.  In this, a time when we have a gun crisis that has already caused more than 21,000 deaths by guns, some 800 of them children.  In this time when innocent people are living under a dark cloud of violent threats for doing their jobs or expressing their opinions.  In this time when in many places it is hotter in early June than is normal in mid-August due to the effects of climate change as a result of our disregard for the environment.  In this time when our voting rights are being stripped away, women’s rights are becoming a thing of the past, and LGBTQ rights are being shoved out the window.  In this time when our schools are being told they cannot teach the legitimate, factual history of this nation, but must instead teach the fantasy white-washed version of the nation’s past!  In this, the time when wildfires in the west are sure to cause record-breaking damage, when water sources are endangered … and the ONLY thing Mr. McCarthy can be bothered to work on is … whether your email server marks a GOP donation request as ‘spam’ or not???  C’mon, people … fire this asshat in November and vote in somebody who actually understands the issues, understands what matters, is dedicated to his oath and willing to work to actually earn the money we pay him/her!!!

Oh … and just in case you’re wondering if McCarthy is going to step up to the plate on the gun legislation that will be on the docket in the House of Representatives … no.  He and his buddy Steve Scalise (himself a victim of gun crime) have made clear that they will vote against even this milquetoast legislation and will expect and demand that the other House Republicans do the same.  What a guy, eh?


And speaking of intelligence, or a lack thereof …

Herschel Walker, Senate candidate from Georgia, certainly is not on the path to winning any academic awards.  I’ve said before that there should be criteria, qualifications for a person running for public office, and after Walker’s latest, I think those requirements should include an IQ test with a passing score of at least 100, which is approximately the average in the United States.  Mr. Walker’s candidacy is filled with lies, as I pointed out in a previous post, but his latest faux pas takes the cake.

Apparently, Mr. Walker and Stacey Abrams, who is running for governor of Georgia hoping to unseat Brian Kemp, don’t … er … shall we say don’t get along famously, aren’t best buddies.  So, Ms. Abrams had been speaking about some of the problems in the state of Georgia that she hopes to address in the future, such as  mental health treatment, maternal mortality, incarceration rates and wages.  This is what candidates do … or at least ones who are serious about representing the people rather than their own interests … they talk about issues and how they think they can best solve problems.  But … apparently Walker doesn’t understand this and he took umbrage, telling Ms. Abrams to … wait for it …

“If you don’t believe in the country, leave and go somewhere else. If it’s the worst state, why are you here? Why don’t you leave ― go to another? There’s, what, 51 more other states that you can go to?”

This is a man who is running for a seat in the United States Senate and he doesn’t know how many states comprise the United States.  For the record, just in case any Republicans are reading this, there are 50 states.  This would be funny if it weren’t for the fact that this man could well be one of the 100 members of the highest legislative body in the nation, in charge of making decisions that will affect all our lives!


Only In ‘America’

Yesterday afternoon, just as I was beginning to work on a good people post for this morning, the breaking news update jumped onto my screen …

Texas school shooting leaves at least 2 dead

I stopped what I was doing and went in search of information … turns out that, as you all know by now, 19 students and one teacher, Eva Mireles, were killed … or let’s call a spade a spade … they were brutally murdered while in school, the one place our children should be able to feel safe!  The death toll may yet rise if some of the students taken to the hospital don’t survive, or if students still missing are later reported to have died.  Plus, the 18-year-old shooter shot his grandmother, who is in critical condition in the hospital, before setting out for Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

This, my friends, is what Texas Governor Greg Abbott proudly said just one year ago …

No license or training is needed. 🙄 YOU, Greg Abbott, have the blood of these children on your hands and you will never be able to wash it off!  Senator Mitch McConnell, who has an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association (NRA), claims to be “horrified and heartbroken” and yet time and time and time again he has had the opportunity to pass meaningful gun legislation that might have prevented the 18-year-old shooter from getting his hands on a gun.  YOU, Mitch McConnell, and every other Republican legislator who has blocked gun regulations, also have blood on your hands!!!  And U.S. Senator from Texas, Ted Cruz, sent thoughts and prayers and said he disdains any discussion on gun legislation.  YOU, Cancún Cruz, also have blood on your hands!!!

Days like today, I am so very thankful for a President who is compassionate and caring.  President Biden gave a speech yesterday evening where he said …

“Another massacre at a Texas elementary school. Beautiful, innocent second, third, fourth graders. As a nation, we have to ask: When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby? Why? Why are we willing to live with this carnage? Why do we keep letting this happen? Where in God’s name is our backbone, the courage to do more and then stand up to the lobbies? It’s time to turn this pain into action. I am sick and tired of it. We have to act. And don’t tell me we can’t have an impact on this carnage. For God’s sake, we have to have the courage to stand up to the industry.”

And former President Barack Obama issued a statement …

“Nearly 10 years after Sandy Hook — and 10 days after Buffalo — our country is paralyzed, not by fear, but by a gun lobby and a political party that have shown no willingness to act in any way that might help prevent these tragedies. It’s long past time for action, any kind of action. And it’s another tragedy — a quieter but no less tragic one — for families to wait another day.”

I cannot help but share the pain of the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, grandparents and friends of those 19 children tonight.  Picture being a parent at work, getting that phone call …

Eleven days ago, ten people were murdered in a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.  Yesterday, 20 people, 19 of them children, were murdered in school, just two days before the end of the school year.  Where are all those ‘pro-life’ people???  Probably out there carrying signs that read “You can’t take my guns!” or some such drivel.  My granddaughter, when I told her about the school shooting, asked what kind of country this has become.  Not a very nice one, I’m afraid.

Just as I was finishing this post, I saw one from John Pavlovitz that I hope you’ll take a moment to read, for he said it far better than I ever could.  I hope you can understand why this post replaced today’s ‘good people’ post.  I will try to get one out later this week, but if not, there’s always next Wednesday.

WOMEN ARE PERSONS, NOT COWS! REPEALING RvW TURNS WOMEN BACK INTO COWS!

We women have been ranting endlessly since the draft of the Supreme Court decision that will almost certainly become final next month reversing the long-standing Roe v Wade was leaked. I’ve done my share of ranting, and I ain’t done yet! But when a man is as passionate on the issue as we women are, I sit up and take notice! Our friend rawgod posted this earlier today and I think it deserves a wider audience. Thank you, rg, for your passionate defense of women’s rights!

Ideas From Outside the Boxes

The following is a comment (slightly altered) I just sent to a woman who wants to see Roe vs Wade repealed. She thinks women should not have a choice to abort a fetus, because to her, the (potential) life of a fetus is more important than the life of the woman carrying that fetus. We were carrying on a written conversation when I had a kind of epiphany. I had heard people saying RvW is more important than just the right to choose. It has deeper implications. Then, in an instant, I saw what repealing RvW really meant. Here is my response:

Please allow me to add, I appreciate that without women there would be no human race. Women are the mothers of all. But that does not mean women are “Only Mothers!” Women have lives too, and motherhood as birthers of children is secondary! Until a woman is ready…

View original post 502 more words

Women Lose AGAIN!!!

Some people treat their furry companions (cats, dogs, hamsters, etc.) as ‘pets’ … animals to be played with at will, to put cutesy little outfits on them (never mind that they are already far more beautiful than we humans, because they have fur!), and shoo them away when they aren’t in the mood to play or pay attention to them.  In our house, the furry ones are not pets … they are family members who just happen to walk on all fours.  Some men treat their wives or significant others much the same as some egotistical humans treat their furry family members – as chattel to entertain, to be seen and not heard, and to be available at any time to indulge the male’s baser instincts.

Today, every single Republican senator plus Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, attempted to prove to us women just how little we are valued in this so-called “great” nation.  The U.S. Supreme Court already made it clear to us a week or so ago that we are considered sub-standard, that we must submit to male dominance, and today the U.S. Senate confirmed it.  Well guess what, guys?  It might have been easy for you back in the 19th century to keep your womenfolk barefoot and pregnant, cleaning & cooking, washing the clothes on rocks down by the creek, but today’s women are one hell of a lot stronger than you obviously believe us to be!  If you Republican males with the huge egos – yes, I mean you, Mitch McConnell, and you Kevin McCarthy – think we are going to simply go to our corners, cry a few tears, and then put on our makeup so we look nice for you guys, THINK AGAIN!

And to those of you who think we’re overreacting … I’d like to direct you to my friend Annie’s post.  Please take a few minutes to read this and take note of the Republicans running for office who carry with them a history of abusing women.  Remember that Hollywood Access tape that Trump never even bothered to deny where he said it was okay to grab women in their private parts because “when you’re famous, they let you do it.”  And yet, almost 63 million people voted for this neanderthal in 2016!!!  Of course, nearly 66 million voted for Hillary Clinton, but since she’s a mere woman … well, ’nuff said.

I’ve often said that the U.S. is deeply divided by political party, but the reality is that we may be divided even more by gender!  Look again at Annie’s post … Eric Greitens, Max Miller, Andrew Wilhoite … all abusers of women, yet all have won their Republican primary bid!  What happened?  Did the men lock up their womenfolk and refuse to let them vote?  Or did the women, with more brain power than their male counterparts, do the sensible thing and vote for Democrats or Independents?

Yes, I’m angry, my friends.  This argument isn’t only about a woman’s right to end an unwanted, dangerous, or forced pregnancy, but it is about our right to make our own decisions, our right not to be dominated by males solely because they consider themselves superior based on a tiny little part of the anatomy.  Some states, like Michigan, are led by a governor who respects and values women.  But far too many states are led by the likes of Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott, have state legislatures who delight in setting back the rights not only of women, but of Blacks and LGBTQ by at least a century.  I have a friend in a neighboring state who I would like to go visit this summer, my own health permitting.  When I cross the state line, will I be stopped, asked for identification, and forced to take a pregnancy test before I am allowed into her state?  Yeah, sure, laugh if you will, roll your eyes and call me an alarmist, but some states have already suggested doing exactly this!

To my fellow women … we must find a way to regain what is being taken from us.  I don’t know how just yet, but we are NOT powerless in this fight.  If nothing else, hand your significant other a set of sheets and a pillow and tell him you hope he can get comfortable on his new bed – the sofa!  Again, please read Annie’s post … it is jaw-dropping!

And on that note, I shall go take a few deep breaths.

Just Some Notes I Jotted Down …

The news media, social media and blogs have been filled with nothing but the decision of the Supreme Court to invalidate women’s rights, so I needed to step back from that topic for just a little bit.  In addition, the Republicans in the state I currently reside in decided to nominate a nasty fool to run for the seat being vacated by retiring Senator Rob Portman and I am so incensed I cannot write about this just yet, though you know I will before long.  So … I have a number of notes I’ve jotted down recently about topics that came to my mind at one point or another, and I thought to address a few of those today, since my page is getting full of scribbled notes & thoughts (so THIS is what my brain looks like, eh?)


“Republicans are so much better at politics. Democrats stick to the moral high ground while Republicans focus on winning by any means necessary.” 

In this case, politics is defined as the ability to lie, cheat, and steal, to do whatever it takes to win votes.  Now, before anybody jumps up and yells, “Objection!!!”, let me clarify that there are exceptions on both sides.  There are some Republicans in government who do have values, who do take their oaths of office seriously, and who are well-qualified for the positions they hold, and conversely there are certainly some Democratic governors and members of Congress who have failed to act in the best interest of We the People.  Unfortunately, ‘governance’ and ‘politics’ are not synonymous, though both are irrevocably linked in any form of government where people have a vote.  To my way of thinking, if a person will lie in order to get elected, then he or she does NOT have the integrity needed to serve in a public office, for they will be no more honest once in office than they were on their way there.  And anyone … ANYONE who votes for a liar and a cheat, deserves what they get, but unfortunately they condemn the rest of us as well.


“If a legislator breaks their oath of office, then they no longer have the right to occupy that office.  Then again, if we tossed all those who have broken their oaths, who would be left in Congress???”

I think there are many things that are important for our elected officials:  qualifications, experience, integrity and honesty being the top four.  If they fail in those areas, doesn’t it stand to reason that they should not be re-elected?  If you’re a department manager in a company and one of your employees is not only under-performing, but also stealing from the company, what are you going to do?  Right – you’re going to fire that employee.  Our representatives, senators, president, governor, etc., are our employees!  They sometimes seem to forget that they serve at our pleasure!  Frankly, I take no pleasure from a lying, cheating employee.  These people are paid by us, with our hard-earned tax dollars, to act in our best interest!  We are being cheated and robbed blind by many of them.  I would opt for expelling them from Congress, but election day is only another six months, so let’s vote them the hell out.  PLEASE!!!!  🥺


“Stupidity abounds:  Examples, Ron Johnson saying COVID vaccine causes AIDS and the theory that Democrats support “post-birth abortion” by Cassie Smedile, executive director of America Rising pro-Trump PAC.  WTF is “post-birth abortion”???  It defies definition!”

Yes, you read that right.  Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin claimed in an interview recently that the COVID vaccine ‘may’ give people AIDS!  Say WHAT???  AIDS is a sexually transmitted disease that cannot possibly be a side effect of the COVID vaccine!  But even worse was Ms. Smedile’s claim that Democrats support ‘post birth abortion’.  WHAT THE HELL even is that???  Abortion is the extraction of a fetus from a woman’s womb.  Once birth has taken place, there is no longer anything or anyone to extract, thus there can be no abortion!  What planet does this ‘woman’ even live on?  The point being that people like Johnson and Smedile are either very ignorant (I try to avoid the word ‘stupid’, for I was called that enough times in my childhood that I developed an aversion to it) or seek the spotlight.  In Johnson’s case, perhaps he hopes to scare his constituents enough to garner some votes, and Smedile is likely hoping for donations for her PAC.  Either way, though, this pushes the boundaries of my patience, it shows an ignorance that, unfortunately, is prevailing in the United States today.  How many people will believe what these two say?  And worse yet, these are just two examples that popped onto my radar yesterday … there are many, many, many more.


What say we end with a few cartoons?  This first one, I think, speaks volumes …

Don’t Burn it — FIX IT!

Yesterday, I shared George Will’s idea that the U.S. Constitution needs to be amended to prohibit members of the Senate from seeking the presidency.  But y’know … there are times that I think we should be seriously considering a major overhaul of the Constitution.  It is, after all, some 232 years old and the framers of that document could not possibly have foreseen what would happen, how life would change over the centuries.

But, in todays politically charged environment, I have trouble picturing any changes that could be agreed on.  Even the simplest things, such as verbiage …

Person #1:  Let’s change the word ‘He’ to ‘They’

Person #2:  Hell no!  That would open the door to women and we don’t want women to get the idea that they are somehow the equal of a man!

A few off-the-top-of-my-head things that I think need either alteration or clarification are found in the first 10 Amendments, the Bill of Rights.  As I’ve said many times before, the 1st Amendment right to ‘free speech’ needs to have ‘responsibility’ and ‘accountability’ added.  The 2nd Amendment should either be ditched altogether, or have restrictions, such as no more than one gun per household, and no assault weapons at all, and limits on the type and amount of ammunition that can be purchased.

I would also like to see term limits established for members of Congress:  no more than three two-year terms for Representatives and no more than two four-year terms for Senators.  And, while I don’t fully agree with George Will that no senator present or past should ever be able to run for the office of president, I do think they should not be able to transition … in other words, there should be a full term between the end of their term in Congress and their presidential bid.  That way, they wouldn’t be spending all their time campaigning (on our tax dollar) while they are supposed to be doing the work of the Senate.

I would also like to see additional qualifications required to run for president or Congress.  At the time the Constitution was written, it made sense to place minimal requirements, for few people had the opportunity for higher education, and even fewer had government experience … this was, after all, a new nation.  But today, we find ourselves saddled with the likes of Donald Trump, Madison Cawthorn, Margie Greene, Lauren Boebert, and many others who had literally no prior government experience and no relevant education.  Those I just mentioned have never even read the Constitution that they have sworn to uphold!  We had a president [sic] for four years who had never read the document to which he swore an oath, and refused to listen to advisors who had!

I also wouldn’t mind requiring a test of constitutional law for candidates for any of the three branches of government.  Right now, even a clown in a circus act can run for – and win – the presidency, as was proven in 2016.  I want to know that the people running this show at least understand the foundation of our government!

And speaking of the Judiciary branch … I think that rather than the entirety of the Senate confirming nominees to the Supreme Court, a committee consisting of an equal number from both parties should have the responsibility of confirming or denying a nominee.  Partisanship has gone too far and has nearly destroyed the integrity of the Court today, with such inappropriate Justices as Kavanaugh and Barrett.

I’ve never made any secret of the fact that I think the Electoral College system has long outlived its original purpose.  It has, in recent years, done the exact opposite of what it was intended to accomplish.  The Founders believed it would help stop a madman from being elected, that sane electors would override the popular vote if the people got too wild.  Instead, it put a madman into office despite the fact that he lost the people’s vote by nearly 3 million votes!

So yes, I think the Constitution is a sound and solid document that has been a reliable foundation for centuries, and I do not advocate trashing it and starting over.  However, times changes, situations change, and the Constitution was intended to be able to grow and change with the times.  That is precisely what the Founding Fathers expected!  Trial and error has shown us some ways that the Constitution is insufficient to maintain our democratic republic.  We are on the brink, it seems, of becoming an autocratic, fascist country and I don’t think that is what most of us want.

Your thoughts?

The Rich Get Richer … And We Help Them!

One of my pet peeves these days is the income disparity in this country … in the words of Percy Bysshe Shelley, “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.”  Of late, I have been having an ongoing battle with my conscience regarding my relationship with Amazon.  I have been a member of Amazon Prime for a number of years now.  I buy most all of our household products such as toilet paper, Tide pods, dish detergent, etc., from Amazon’s “Subscribe & Save” program.  I own a Kindle and purchase a book or two most weeks.  Amazon has become my ‘go-to’ place for most of our non-food needs, for it is convenient — delivery to my doorstep, most often the next day — and I save money.  But of late, I feel guilty every time I hit the button to give more money to Mr. Jeff Bezos.

A letter I received this morning from Senator Bernie Sanders added fuel to the fire burning in my guilty conscience.  An excerpt from that letter …

Yet in the midst of all of the crises we currently face, Congress will likely be voting next week on a bill that provides tens of billions in corporate welfare to some of the most profitable corporations and wealthiest people on the planet. This bill provides $53 billion to the profitable microchip industry with no taxpayer protections and, if you can believe it, another $10 billion to Blue Origin, a space company owned by Jeff Bezos.

Amazon, which is owned by Bezos, is a company which, in a given year, pays nothing in federal income taxes after making billions in profits. And, by the way, in a given year Bezos has himself paid nothing in federal income taxes despite being worth nearly $200 billion.

Jeff Bezos has enough money to buy a $500 million yacht.

Jeff Bezos has enough money to buy a $23 million mansion with 25 bathrooms in Washington, D.C.

No. I do not think that the taxpayers of this country need to be providing a $10 billion bailout to Jeff Bezos to fuel his space hobby.

25 bathrooms???  Seriously???  Who in hell needs 25 bathrooms???  We have a 1,190 square foot townhouse that we pay $1,281 in rent for every month, with 2.5 bathrooms and we feel that is a luxury!  My daughter works 60+ hours a week as a nursing manager to pay the rent and recently received a promotion – with additional responsibilities, but no increase in pay!  And we’re helping support a man who has 25 bathrooms in one house, a half-billion-dollar yacht, and pays NO taxes?  It’s high time for Dickens’ ghosts of Christmas to pay Mr. Bezos a visit and see if he can be changed as Mr. Scrooge was!

In all good conscience, I do not think I can continue feeding the dragon.  Granted, the amount of money I spend on Amazon in a year is but a drop in the bucket for Mr. Bezos, but … a lot of drops are what fills the bucket, and Mr. Bezos’ bucket runneth over already.


And just for a bit of humour …

G-G-Ghost??? G-G-Gun???

The term ‘ghost gun’ has been in the news a great deal already this week (almost as much as that singer who claims to be pregnant!).  Turns out the Department of Justice has issued a new ruling pertaining to ghost guns and President Biden announced the new ruling yesterday.  I saw the headlines more than a few times, but passed them over for the time being, intending to return to the story when I had time to ask some questions and seek answers.  So, late Monday night, I asked my first question:  What the hell is a ghost gun, anyway?

And then I sought the answer.  A ghost gun, as I understand it, is a kit … rather a do-it-yourself gun that comes in pieces but can be easily assembled in about a half hour.  The attraction for the gun nuts is that the ghost gun is … or has been heretofore … untraceable.  Anybody, regardless of age or criminal history, can buy these kits, make a gun, and POW!  Now … if you want to own a gun, but you don’t intend to commit a crime with it, then … why does it matter, why do you care if it’s traceable?  It seems to me that the only people who would spend their money for a gun kit, go to the trouble of assembling the gun, just so nobody would know they have the gun, are those people who intend to use said gun in the commission of a crime!  You follow my logic here?  Guns have one purpose and one purpose only:  to kill.

The new Department of Justice rule highlighted by the President on Monday would make it illegal for firms to make such kits without a serial number for the components and for a gun dealer to market the kits without requiring the buyer to undergo a background check. That way, at least when such guns are recovered after a crime there is some hope of tracing the perpetrators.  Personally, I would much prefer that these guns be outlawed altogether, but I am in the minority on my stance on guns, so I would happily seek a reasonable compromise.  I strongly suspect, though, that the new ruling will be found to be unenforceable.  Companies that sell gun kits and people who buy them do not necessarily play by the rules.

President Biden is a bit more optimistic than I, though …

“All of a sudden, it’s no longer a ghost. It has a return address. And it’s going to help save lives, reduce crime and get more criminals off the streets.”

An oversimplification, perhaps.  I mean … thus far, we haven’t been able to get any guns out of the hands of criminals!  Our country is the laughingstock of the world for our lax and unenforced gun ‘laws’, such as they are.  Hell, we haven’t even managed to pass a law banning assault weapons, guns that kill hundreds at a time and were designed specifically and only for use by the military!  Why?  Because far too many members of Congress have been bought and paid for by the gun industry.

Yesterday, I read that Georgia’s Governor Kemp signed into law a bill that enables people to carry a concealed weapon without a license.  That stoked my curiosity about the various states’ gun laws.  Did you know that an estimated 22% of US gun owners acquired their most recent firearm without a background check—which translates to millions of Americans acquiring millions of guns, no questions asked, each year?

Fourteen states (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Nevada , New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington) and the District of Columbia generally require universal background checks at the point of sale for all sales of all classes of firearms, whether they are purchased from a licensed dealer or an unlicensed seller.  But how do you enforce that law?  If I owned a gun and wanted to sell it to my neighbor, I could simply hand him the gun and he could hand me the money and the deal is done.  The laws, many of which are being taken OFF the books in many states, aren’t enforceable!  Only honest people, people who truly want a rifle for target practice or a pistol in case of a home invasion, are going to abide by the law.  All others know exactly how to circumvent it!  Ghost guns are only a part of the problem!

In 2021, about 20,000 suspected ghost guns were recovered by law enforcement in criminal investigations and reported to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The figure marked a tenfold increase from 2016.  And those are just the ones that were found!  How many more are out there in the hands of people with criminal backgrounds, people with a better aim than they have sense, and people with a temper?  In my ever-so-humble opinion, the only way to put the problem of ghost guns to bed is to shut down every seller of the kits.  Every. Last. One.  Make them illegal to buy or sell.

The gun laws we have thus far are insufficient to keep our society safe.  Worse yet, many states’ laws are even more lax.  And still worse yet, a large portion of this nation would happily fight for their right to own a gun … even before they would stand firm for their right to be a parent.  And, a topic for another day is 3D-printed guns, yet another form of ghost gun that can be produced with a 3D printer that anybody can purchase for just a few hundred dollars.

The entire gun industry is a scourge on this nation.  A few fat, wealthy blokes are laughing and eating steak tonight, while other, not-so-wealthy people will find themselves dead via a gun by morning.  The people of the United States do not need to worry about being invaded by another nation, for we are hellbent and determined to destroy ourselves from within.

Taxing the Rich Dudes — Part II

A week or so ago I posted Robert Reich’s column on taxing the wealthy.  At the time, I thought the odds of any such legislation passing were slim-to-none, but today Mr. Reich is back with a bit more optimism, so … maybe, just maybe the time is coming when we will stop bowing at the feet of the wealthy and start expecting them to be held accountable for paying their fair share to keep this nation rolling.  Heck, if the wealthy paid their share, we could eliminate the federal debt within a year!


Why Biden’s plan to tax the super rich is moving from unlikely to likely

And why it’s really really important

Robert Reich, 5 April 2022

America is on the cusp of the largest inter-generational transfer of wealth in history. As wealthy boomers expire over the next three decades, an estimated $30 trillion will go to their children. Those children will be able to live off of the income these assets generate, and then leave the bulk of them – which in the intervening years will have grown far more valuable – to their own heirs, tax-free. After a few generations of this, almost all of the nation’s wealth will be in the hands of a few thousand family dynasties.

Unless Joe Biden’s new tax plan is enacted — the odds of which is moving from unlikely to likely. I’ll explain in a moment.

Dynastic wealth runs counter to the ideal of America as a meritocracy. It makes a mockery of the notions that people earn what they’re worth in the market, and that economic gains should go to those who deserve them. It puts economic power into the hands of a small number of people who have never worked but whose investment decisions have a significant effect on the nation’s future. And it is antithetical to democracy.

We are well on the way. Already six out of the ten wealthiest Americans alive are heirs to prominent fortunes. The Walmart heirs alone have more wealth than the bottom 42 percent of Americans combined. The richest 1 tenth of 1 percent of Americans already owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent.

The last time America faced anything comparable occurred at the turn of the last century, in the first Gilded Age. Then, President Teddy 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 then, both of Roosevelt’s taxes have been eroded by the moneyed interests. As the rich have accumulated more wealth, they have amassed more political power — which they’ve used to reduce their taxes. By now, the estate tax affects only a handful of super-wealthy families that are busily setting up “dynastic trusts” to circumvent what’s left of it. And the capital gains tax has been defanged by what’s known as the “stepped-up-basis-at-death” loophole. More on this in a moment.

Last week Joe Biden unveiled two tax proposals that would revive Teddy Roosevelt’s original vision, and could possibly slow or even reverse America’s march toward oligarchy: (1) a minimum income tax that Biden calls a billionaire tax but would in reality apply to households with a net worth of $100 million or more, and (2) a separate tax at death on gains from appreciated assets, even if the assets are not sold.

The odds are growing that at least one of these proposals will get through the Senate in April or May via “reconciliation” requiring only a bare majority (i.e., all fifty Democratic senators plus the vice president). I’m told Joe Manchin is mostly on board (which means the other Democratic holdout, Kyrsten Sinema, will sign on as well).

Let me go into a bit of detail on each:

(1) The minimum tax is a 20 percent levy on households with a net worth of more than $100 million, affecting the top 0.01 percent of earners. It would apply both to taxable earnings and to unrealized capital gains (the increased value of your assets), and would function as a kind of prepayment (analogous to withholding) of taxes that eventually would be owed upon the sale of appreciated assets or death.

For example, suppose someone named Mark Zuckerberg owns $100 billion of Facebook stock, for which he paid nothing when he founded the company, and has no other taxable income. For the first year under the Biden plan, he’d owe $20 billion in taxes even if he didn’t sell any Facebook shares. The next year, if his stock increased in value, he’d owe another prepayment equal to 20 percent of any increase in value beyond $100 billion. (There are other provisions to prevent the very wealthy from being taxed twice on the same income.)

The Treasury anticipates Biden’s new minimum tax would raise $360 billion in the first 10 years from America’s 20,000 richest households.  

(2) Biden’s second proposal would close the “stepped-up-basis-at death” loophole. Under today’s tax code, you pay capital gains taxes on the increased value of assets when you sell them. But if you pass your assets on to your heirs, they can sell them and not pay a penny of capital gains. In other words, you escape capital gains taxes by dying. They escape it by inheriting your wealth. (I remember years ago arguing that this loophole should be closed with then Treasury Secretary Lloyd Benson, who at one point pounded his fist on the table and exclaimed “death is an involuntary conversion!”)

That’s not all. Under current law, if heirs never sell these assets and they continue to gain value (as they almost certainly will), heirs can borrow against them to pay living expenses and then pass them on to their heirs, who won’t pay capital gains taxes either. Put this together with the unprecedented transfer of generational wealth about to occur, from rich boomer to their millennial children, and America’s oligarchy will become thoroughly entrenched in a small group of people who exercise all the power that comes with great wealth but have never worked a day in their lives.

Biden proposes simply to repeal the “stepped-up-basis-at-death” loophole. The value of assets would not be “stepped up” to their market value at the time of death. Their increased value would be subject to capital gains taxes as if they’d been sold before death.

Either of these tax reforms would be significant, and they fit nicely together. But if I were betting, I’d bet on the latter because Second President Manchin has sounded less enthusiastic about the first.

One thing we’ve all learned over the past fourteen months is not to rely on Manchin or on anything he says or commits to, so I’m not holding my breath. But if Manchin gives the green light, and Biden and the Democrats pull this off, it will be an historic rebirth of Teddy Roosevelt’s movement against dynastic wealth — perhaps Biden’s biggest single accomplishment. Taxing big wealth is necessary if we’re ever to get our democracy back and make our economy work for everyone rather than a privileged few.