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Home country: USA
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Member since: Mon Apr 28, 2014, 07:28 PM
Number of posts: 13,721

About Me

Counselor, economist and public servant.

Journal Archives

The Divide and Conquer strategy is alive and well - beware!

Russian trolls went into overtime to divide women in 2017 after their successful marches. There is a NY Times link in this post, but you might hit a paywall.

Here are a couple of paragraphs as an excerpt:

Linda Sarsour awoke on Jan. 23, 2017, logged onto the internet, and felt sick. The weekend before, she had stood in Washington at the head of the Women’s March, a mobilization against President Donald J. Trump that surpassed all expectations. Crowds had begun forming before dawn, and by the time she climbed up onto the stage, they extended farther than the eye could see.

But then something shifted, seemingly overnight. What she saw on Twitter that Monday was a torrent of focused grievance that targeted her. In 15 years as an activist, largely advocating for the rights of Muslims, she had faced pushback, but this was of a different magnitude. A question began to form in her mind: Do they really hate me that much?

That morning, there were things going on that Ms. Sarsour could not imagine. More than 4,000 miles away, organizations linked to the Russian government had assigned teams to the Women’s March. At desks in bland offices in St. Petersburg, using models derived from advertising and public relations, copywriters were testing out social media messages critical of the Women’s March movement, adopting the personas of fictional Americans.

Think about that for a minute, because you can BET right-wing trolls are working out how we might be divided around abortion rights. Around LGBTQ rights. Around birth control.

The Republicans are trying to drive the conversation to inflation. Don't let them.

Russia has warred against us on social media since 2016. Ditto N. Korea, China and others. Don't fall for it.

Here is the Times link: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/18/us/womens-march-russia-trump.html?campaign_id=2&emc=edit_th_20220919&instance_id=72327&nl=todaysheadlines®i_id=95472539&segment_id=107470&user_id=122c14754c0ebb2d655cb1433556f337

We are witnessing a 'civil war' in the Republican party not seen since the 19th century.

Republicans have always claimed to be the 'party of business.' To this end, they set up an entire corporate propaganda system as outlined in the memorandum Lewis Powell wrote to the US Chamber of Commerce clear back in 1971. If you read it, that is what we have now - a giant right-wing 'news' propaganda organ which includes many talk radio shows, Fox, Brietbart and others. When the snake Reagan allowed the Fairness Doctrine to die in 1987, the road was opened for what we have now.

This worked admirably, judging by declining membership in unions, the higher 'full-retirement' age for Social Security so that very high earners would not need to be taxed, creating 'holes' in Medicare to encourage privatization, privatizing prisons and so on.

As measures go, we can look at:
- stagnating wages
- massive increases in CEO 'earnings'
- unnecessary and destructive tax cuts that rob from our treasury to pad the pockets of the rich
- huge increases in the prices of drugs (that isn't over, though this new legislation will help)
- extreme increases in heat, storms, wildfires and the melting of polar ice caps because the right-wing noise machine lied to us about global warming not being human caused
- dramatic increases in corporate profits
- a significant segment of the populace who mistrusts government and thinks they want smaller government
- a knee-jerk reaction among rank and file Republican voters who have been fooled into consistently voting against their own economic interests because 'we ain't nebber gonna go SOSH-A-LIST' when they do not even know what socialism or capitalism even mean
- the constant drumbeat of dog whistles designed to make us hate and mistrust one another; to divide us so we won't notice the treasury being stripped for the sake of billionaire parasites


What is Actually Happening
But it backfired. Just as the German aristocrats thought they could 'control' Hitler and his 'master race' fanatics, our Republican establishment thought it could control the Trumpie-Qs. We had the horror of January 6, and now with the January 6 committee, the treason is apparent for all to see, and Trump is losing what Machiavelli called the support of the people.

This is by design. Why do you think Liz Cheney is leading the charge to nail Trumpy to the wall?

I'll tell you: Because he crossed the line and activated the crazies in a way that is VERY DANGEROUS TO SHAREHOLDER PROFITS in the long term. Political instability, and certainly war, are bad for all but a few businesses. And they are definitely bad for all of us. Many of the oligarchs - not idiots like the Mercers or the Kochs, but the ones that are so rich they are out of site - they are pulling some serious strings to bring the people John McCain called 'the crazies' back under control so they can continue to reap massive profits.

Make no mistake about Liz Cheney. Remember she is the daughter of DICK (Darth Vader) Cheney, who was the CEO of Haliburton prior to becoming W's puppet master. The Cheneys represent this massively wealthy group who is all about maximizing SHAREHOLDER PROFITS at the expense of the taxpayers. To do this, they need to slap Trumpy on the wrist, and grind on many of the rank and file GOP in the US Congress and in state legislatures - the ones that have forgotten who GOD (corporate profits) actually is.

That is what this IS, and why I think in the end Trumpy will be broken financially, criminally prosecuted, and many of his crazier minions will end up in grey bar city, or at the least not being able to ever hold office again. I also think we may do better in the mid-terms than expected.

What We Have Going For Us
The reversal of Roe.
The recent Dem victory on climate change and drug prices.
The recent fall in gas prices.
The constant drip, drip, drip of the news cycle against Trump.

Native American boarding school survivors tell of abuses

Ever since I read Robin Kimmerer's brilliant book, Braiding the Sweetgrass, I have been bothered by the concept of these boarding schools. Kimmerer tells the story of how the US Army came onto their reservation and rounded up all the kids, forced them to go to a 'boarding school' back east, where they were essentially stripped of their culture and language.

Now, according to Kimmerer, who is Potawatomie, there are only NINE elders in that entire nation who even know the tribe's native language.

I saw a post here in early May that talks about that, and of course there was the story of a mass grave in a Canadian 'school.'

Here is an update: https://www.reuters.com/world/us/native-american-boarding-school-survivors-tell-abuses-2022-07-09/

This is an excerpt (good for Deb Haaland!!!):

ANADARKO, Okla., July 9 (Reuters) - U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland on Saturday met with elderly survivors of Native American boarding schools, her first stop on a year-long tour to hear first-hand accounts of widespread abuses committed at those institutions.

Haaland met with survivors at the Riverside Indian School, the nation's oldest federally operated boarding school for Native Americans, collecting oral histories of the atrocities they faced.

The schools were centers of forced assimilation that began in the early 1800s and continued through the 1970s, with the stated goal of wiping out Native American culture.

Definitely worth reading, and Braiding the Sweetgrass is GREAT. It really is.

And we wonder why police are so brutal to people of color or liberal demonstrators?

Here's an article from Reuters Investigation that talks about how some of the extremists actually have businesses TRAINING cops.

Here's the link: https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/usa-police-extremism/

On social media, Richard Whitehead is a warrior for the American right. He has praised extremist groups. He has called for public executions of government officials he sees as disloyal to former President Donald Trump. In a post in 2020, he urged law enforcement officers to disobey COVID-19 public-health orders from “tyrannical governors,” adding: “We are on the brink of civil war.”

Whitehead also has a day job. He trains police officers around the United States.

The Idaho-based law enforcement consultant has taught at least 560 police officers and other public safety workers in 85 sessions in 12 states over the past four years, according to a Reuters analysis of public records from the departments that hired him. A Washington state training commission in 2015 temporarily banned Whitehead from advertising courses on its website because of instructional materials that referred to a turban-wearing police officer as a “towel head” and contained cartoons of women in bikinis, according to emails from the commission to Whitehead that were reviewed by Reuters. Other marketing literature touted Whitehead’s “deception detection” technique that, among other things, teaches officers not to trust sexual-assault claimants if they use the word “we” in referring to themselves and their assailant.

The billionaire parasites, otherwise known as oligarchs have spent decades propagandizing us, driving wedges, making us hate and mistrust one another, and promoting ignorance so we won't notice them stealing our tax dollars to line their own greed-pockets.

Plus, a brutal extremist-right police forces serve their interests QUITE WELL.

A regular brown-shirt. I always believed the Secret Service was

above any politics, and absolutely dedicated to its mission (fighting counterfeiting and guarding the First and Second families as well as former presidents).

Now, we have this, and also earlier reports they stood down the day JFK was killed.

Personally, I blame oligarchs for both - the billionaire parasites. They have a three pronged approach:

1. Provide a constant drumbeat of propaganda designed to promote fear, and to drive wedges between us.
2. Strip our treasury through tax policies, government contracts and privatization.
3. Empower dominionist 'christians' to impose a theocracy on us through the judiciary, political gerrymandering and voter supression.

It's working pretty good, I'd say, except for the fact that Trump proved a loose cannon instead of Norquist's proverbial 'dumb president who will simply sign laws given him by a Republican Congress.'

The billionaire parasites, corporate boards, and big Wall Street greed-lizards are likely furious over this whole thing, because it brings too much light and exposure on them, and on what the politicians they own are actually doing.

Hi. Just wanted to say that yesterday I took my wife, and my oldest daughter to see

the new Jurassic World.

No spoilers but the movie was good. I recommend it. Nice seeing Durn, Niell and Goldblum together, and it had some other good actors as well. It did have a plot, which is good, and plenty of nonstop action.

Well, had a pretty rotten day today, and here's a short rant.

To paint the backdrop my wife is in hospital after a very painful shoulder surgery, which is staged so she gets to endure another few months of pain until she gets the actual shoulder replacement. So here's the day - Mercury definitely in retrograde.

I started the day by paying bills, which was good. Then I did my usual payday Amazon and King Soopers orders. As part of the Amazon order I got two boxes of plastic trash compactor bags (heavy) and a little box of those Temptations Tuna Treats for the cats. Then, at Kings, among other stuff, I ordered four 32 oz (quart) bottles of half and half.

Logged in to work and was trying to tie up loose ends at work before going to the hospital. There was an ASAP that I had to get done so I'm working on that - it's complicated so I had to concentrate.

In the meantime I get this alert on my King Soopers app that the half and half isn't in stock but we can substitute four 16 oz (pint) bottles for the four quart bottles. Now, I'm ordering a gallon of half and half here, right? 4 quarts = 1 gallon. And, mathematically, since 2 pints = 1 quart, then if I want a gallon in pints, I have to get eight, not four. Right?

But the app doesn't let me. Now I should have known better than to dial into their soul-sucking black hole of customer care, but...sigh...I did. After screaming 'agent! agent! agent! agent!' over and over until the AI said it would connect me with someone, I waited 10 minutes (not bad) on hold before someone answered.

I explained the bit above about my order, and she said let me connect you to the store. So a lady answers at the store, and I told her what I wanted and, well, that's against the corporate rules, because you simply can't add to an order. I explained that since I wanted a gallon of half and half it was immaterial whether that came in eight pints or four quarts, but she just talked over me. Ended up hanging up on me.

Furious, I called the store manager and ended up getting this lady's subordinate. Hey, this just keeps getting better and better, right? So I called the lady back and she said she, just this once, would add four pints to my order. I thanked her, feeling soul-soiled from my own anger.

Then I went to the hospital to see my wife, who was in horrible pain, and the infectuous disease doctor came in to see her while I was there. He said it was unusual not to find infections, and it led him to think she might be suffering from some inflammatory type of arthritis, rather than being infected. When he left, she collapsed in a heap of tears because this doctor had actually, if you read between the lines, told us she hadn't really needed the surgery and if she'd been referred to a rheumatologist first, we might have her horrible, debilitating arthritis under control this very moment.

Now, this HMO, which I will not name, (whoops, just had a fleeting thought about the ruler of Germany who abdicated in 1919), screwed us around for years while her arthritis got worse, and NO ONE, NO ONE thought it might be good to refer her to a rheumatologist? Really?

Her arm was black and blue too because they kept screwing up the IVs. Basically right out of a Stephen King horror novel. Because being sick here in 'Murika really IS the stuff of horror. Did you know that at age 63, when I should be doing better than I ever have financially, I had to take out a loan to pay my financially crippling copay? And cover some dental surgery I needed? Well, this is the lounge, so I won't get started on healthcare.

OK, so I get home, and Amazon delivers the package. One day delivery. Pretty good. Oh, but wait! The person who packed it ALL in the same box - the thin little plastic jar of cat treats with the two heavy boxes of garbage bags - gosh, how can we be surprised if the cat treat container broke and scattered little square tuna stuffed treats all over the bottom of the box. I get that Amazon is probably not that great a place to work, but seems like you'd put the heavy stuff in one box and the light stuff in another.

Finally, to cap it all off, the piece de resistance of the whole thing, is when I got to Kings to pick up the order, the very nice young lady who brought it out to my car for me, told me her boss had them add those four more pints of half and half to the order, and I thanked her.

But.............she was an American kid, because I talked to her - no accent or anything. Just a kid who went to public school here in the 'Murikan 'burbs.

She pronounced 'pints' line you would pin. A short i. Pin - ts. As opposed to pronouncing it like a pine (tree) - p-eye-nts. Think about that while you recoil in mindless horror at what we have done to education system. It should be funded really well, and be so excellent it is the envy of the world.

Well, enough of that. Sorry to rant. Shitty day.

Oh, well. Now I'm gonna watch a little TV.

This is a very thoughtful post. Thank you. Yes, greed is the major evil we all face here

in the end-stage capitalist utopia that is America (and much of the world, though nearly everyone is cheaper than we are in terms of cost of living). I just had a friend get back from vacay in Spain with her cousin, and she said they ate really well - full course meals with drinks, and never paid more than $40 for both of them. Try that here.

Maybe you ought to beef this up a little and make it an OP? We need to be coming back at these greed-heads every time, because they sure do shaft us every time. One more little vignette: I often shop on Amazon, and apparently the affiliated merchant who usually stocks the cat litter I use is temporarily out. So an alternate merchant is selling it for the same prices with $8.99 shipping, and another is selling it for $31 for 40 lbs - it is usually $18.99.

That's how it works. I imagine once the regular merchant gets stock it, the everyday price may well rise. It sure has been true for paper products. I get mine from Sam's now, because Amazon marks them up so ridiculously. You really have to shop.

The other thing is that Amazon used the tax loopholes provided through the giant, bloated, unnecessary 2017 Republican tax cut for billionaires and corporations to pay...wait for this....


in taxes in 2021. They - again apparently - legally 'avoided' paying $5.4 billion. Gosh, that would fund a lot of healthcare, wouldn't it! Maybe if these fucking corporations actually paid their share in taxes, I wouldn't have had to take out a loan for healthcare 'services' this year.

And lastly, Amazon raised its Prime membership over 15% from last year.

So it's one big gouge.

What do I use Amazon? I'm disabled and not able to run all over the place with gas at $4 a gallon to shop in person for stuff, and have to buy almost everything online and have it delivered, including groceries.

Did you know that Kings (Kroger), Safeway, Wal-Mart and others contract with an outfit called Instacart? These drivers, like the Ubers and Lyfts, don't get any benefits, but work on solely a contract basis - when they want. For a big order of say, $250 or $260 (not that big anymore with inflation), they get paid a whopping $15 or $20. Now Instacart has it worked so if you sign up for a yearly membership at $99, there is no delivery fee, which is good, but if you have even a modicum of human decency, you're going to give the shopper at least a $15 tip. Seriously. Because the shoppers who have delivered my groceries are generally working part time at this with another job and are barely making ends meet.

Capitalism makes me want to puke everytime I see the fucking disgusting sausage of 'shareholder profits' being made at the expense of workers, consumers, whole communities and the earth itself.

It would be SO good if we:

1. Actually had the political courage to force changes in corporate charters so profits aren't held above everything else - a stakeholder approach forcing the corporations to hold worker welfare, consumer welfare and the environment as being equal in importance to shareholder profits. Then, perhaps, people wouldn't have to die or go without stuff they desperately need. Like insulin.

2. Raised taxes on corporations so they are paying more than 6.8% of the total tax revenue collected by the federal government while individual taxpayers are footing 86% of the bill. Think about that. A fair ratio would actually be the 35% (corporations) : 45% (individuals) we had ca. 1970. Seriously - HW was right in the way back when to call Reagan's supply side (cut taxes for businesses and they would create so many jobs the payroll taxes would more than make for the corporate shortfall) proposals VOODOO ECONOMICS. It was in 1980, and it SURE is now. Supply side never worked in the past, does not now work, and will never work. It's implementation forces the burden of paying out on all these defense contracts and prison contracts to us, while programs we need are cut, cut, cut. Witness the worm Manchin expressing his 'concern' over reducing the age of Medicare eligibility, and all the disgusting assholes who lie to our faces by telling we 'can't afford' Medicare for all Americans. We sure could if corporations and billionaires paid their fair share of taxes, and we had a tax on trades done by arbitrage 'bots on Wall Street, and we eliminated the payroll tax cap on Social Security. We could goddamned well afford these programs if we had the guts to reform our tax code so it is actually fair and balanced.

So now, folks, we have what we have - the end stage capitalist gouge, a war in Ukraine that is killing thousands and hurting the whole world, claims of supply side disruptions driving everything up even when not justified, and our species facing extinction if we can't learn to control our carbon emissions.

All for the sake of...wait for it...


We might well go extinct because some greedhead billionaires can still line their pockets right up to the time its over.

Wow. That was quite a rant, particularly because of my hypocrisy in shopping at Amazon. But what else are we gonna do. We should all be calling our Senators and Representative every ten minutes on this shit, becaue the only thing we CAN do is get the people who supposedly represent our interests to actually DO that at a policy level.

This is a really good thoughtful post, and I have something personal to support your point.

Again, on a strictly personal note, there have been several times in my own life where events have forced me to a realization of how wrong I had been. I have heard this kind of thing be called an 'epiphany,' and so suppose I can call it that since the word is defined as a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something, or an intuitive grasp of reality, where different pieces of the puzzle fall into place and suddenly you realize the enormity of something.

In the way back when, I was in my twenties during the 1980s, and was a 'Reagan Republican.' I was this because my grandma Max was, and shared screed after screed with me - long tracts in small font designed to gin up fear of the old Soviet Union - the 'commies.' This made me a truly obnoxious college student. I can remember being a horrible thorn in the side of the professor teaching a class called Social Change.

He taught the class from a Marxist perspective, which drove me bananas, and forced me to write my semester paper using a Marxist perspective. Of course, I bent over backwards putting qualifying language in it, because I didn't want anyone to think I was a 'commie' for goodness sake!

When I look back on my behavior in that class, I am truly ashamed because I was an awful bully during class discussions, and it was the very first class this professor had taught, and I drew him into a proverbial pissing contest. Horrible experience, I'm sure, for the rest of the students in the class, and all because of me. I suspect I ruined the class for everyone. Sigh.

Later on, as time passed, I learned things. I was exposed to different ideas by people I respected, and darned if I did not keep remembering things people had said in the class referenced above, things the professor had said, things his guest speakers had said. Since I am a curious individual and a voracious reader, I compiled a list of authors I wanted to read, beginning with the Communist Manifesto. You know, the USSR and Maoist China never reflected what Marx actually said. I ended up doing additional massive research in economics - looking at books on money supply and central banking, and on the doctrine of shareholder primacy - what capitalism really means.

And, of course, Noam Chomsky - I found him difficult reading. I liked Howard Zinn much better, and his book, "A People's History of the United States," literally blew me away. I learned about oligarchs, wedges, manufactured consent, and then read Klein and learned about shock and awe capitalism. We saw that applied here by Brownie in the aftermath of Katrina. The Bushies allowed private sector companies to maximize profits at the expense of the people who had lost everything in the hurricane.

Somewhere along the line I had the epiphany and became the fervent Democrat I am now.

I share this painful memory because I am human. I was wrong, and when I felt the full weight of my former zealotry, I was ashamed. Big time.

For this reason, I cannot support the assertion by many that no Republicans have any sense of shame. All human beings have a sense of shame. Oh, I don't hold out any hope for dirt-bags like Hawley, Cruz, little Marco, Bats**t Boebert, Marjorie 'Traitor' Greene, McCarthy, Cotton, Gohmert and the rest. They are useful idiots that are towing the line for the billionaire parasites, the oligarchs that have so corrupted our Republic.

But - I am an economist, and interact regularly with people in both parties - local elected officials, economic developers, chamber executives, businesspeople, postsecondary educators, and leaders in other community based organizations. Some, I suppose, are sociopaths. In fact a couple of them are, for sure. But not all, by a long shot. Most are basically decent, and DO have a sense of shame.

The problem is they get their 'news' from biased sources such as Fox and talk radio, because Reagan killed the Fairness Doctrine way back in 1987, and we have seen the growth of what Rachel Maddow calls the Right Wing Noise Machine. That is truth, and Trumpy took that to a whole new level, and now we have the Kluxers, Nazis, crazy-right Evangelicals and other tin-foil types crawling out from under slimy rocks everywhere.

This is why I harp on forcing changes to corporate charters to get rid of shareholder primacy. On identifying the government's role as providing services where the profit motive is in direct conflict with the interests of the people receiving the service - like healthcare. On why we should consider eliminating the Fed and having the US Government take over central banking. On why we need to beef up voting rights by passing that John Lewis Act. And so on.

Policies affect us, you know. And some of the policies put in place around taxation, courtesy of Reagan and the supply-side people at the Chicago School, have really, really hurt the Republic. They have.

Anyway, I am human. I was wrong. I have a sense of shame. I was ashamed. I changed.

So can nearly every other human being. But it is hard. When you believe something fervently and are confronted with facts to the contrary, it causes massive discomfort.

If we are to save this Republic, we must, it seems, change our minds as a people.

Sorry for the long post. If you have read this far, why, you get a nice gold star!

War is stupid, and Putin is in fact a war criminal. But how does the military industrial complex

feel about it all?

Well, I'll tell you.

If we want the world peace Zelinsky spoke of yesterday morning, then we need to force changes in corporate charters away from shareholder primacy to a stakeholder approach. For those of you who have read my little soapbox on this before, bear with me.

In 1919, the Dodge Brothers, who were shareholders in Ford Motor Company sued Henry Ford on the basis that raising the wages of his factory workers to the point where they could afford to buy the cars they produced deprived them of profits to which they were 'entitled' as shareholders. They WON that suit in a Michigan Supreme Court ruling and the doctrine of Shareholder Primacy was born.

It has hardened since then, to the point where 'the market' rewards CEOS who engage in sociopathic behavior. We often get called 'snowflakes' when we say our system holds profits over people, but this is a true statement. Profit is king, and people are nothing. Every. Single. Time.

Think - if you are CEO of a publicly held company, the first thing you're going to do is bust the union. Then, you will drive wages and benefits down, and steal the pension fund if you can. You will compromise on worker safety and cut costs at the expense of good working conditions.

You will downsize the packaging of your products and charge the same amount. If people are hurt by your product sometimes, you will decide, based on shareholder profits, if it is more 'cost effective' to just pay the claims of the people who are maimed or killed from your product, versus recalling the product and fixing the problem. Seriously. Most of you can cite at least several examples of this behavior off the top of your heads.

And the environment? LOL. You will foul it whenever you can get away with it, and if you get caught, or screw up in some other way, you will run to the 'gummint' for a bailout at the expense of taxpayers, but you'll pocket any and all profits. You won't pay any taxes, either, if you can find loopholes. Corporations only pay in 6.8% of the government's tax revenue, while individual taxpayers foot 86% of the bill. This is how you want it.

Finally, you will fund campaigns for as many Republican legislators as you can, because what could be a better investment in keeping this policy just the way you like it? You will also 'earn' millions per year because of a tax loophole that allows corporations to deduct much of your 'compensation.'


And until we force changes to corporate charters to a stakeholder approach that holds workers, consumers and the environment on an equal footing with shareholders, we will continue to have the problems we do. And the corruption we have.

I know this is an esoteric point, or so you may think. You may believe the average 'Murikan cannot understand such a complicated thing, and that's just what the oligarchs want you to continue thinking.

I say this because we have a military industrial complex (MIC) that is driven VERY MUCH by shareholder profits, with patriotism a distant second place. This MIC will NEVER, EVER allow the UN to have the power it should have, or allow Zelinsky's world peace organization to form. It would, after all, be BAD for PROFITS.
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