I’ve just read a bunch of whiny, ranty posts on Facebook about Elizabeth Warren’s plan to forgive the loans of a bunch of people who are massively in debt, unable to declare bankruptcy (thanks to bullshit GOP policies that wiped out the rules for those who needed the assistance the most). These people were sold a bill of goods when they took out those loans from predatory lenders for fake colleges that peddled lies wrapped up in a promise of a better future. Continue reading “Somebody pulled a pin…”
On the morning of Friday, January 25, 2019, dark and early, NPR popped up on my clock radio and Steve Inskeep said the following words: “Roger Stone is set to appear in federal court. He was arrested in Florida.” Continue reading “The Art of Distraction…”
I’ve been chewing on a blog post for about two weeks that takes on where we are now. It’s churning the way a slice of cheap freezer-style pizza with fake pepperoni churns at 3am and you can’t find the antacid because it’s still too dark to see. Continue reading “Aftermath (Part 4): The end of the beginning…”
I am casting my vote for Hillary Clinton as soon as the polls are open for early voting. I’m not taking any chances.
Yesterday on FB there was a meme circulating about how Jimmy Carter was up by 8% before the landslide that lost him the presidency in 1980. Back in March, the article below suggested that Trump’s message wouldn’t serve to do the same damage in this election as the fight between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan did back then.
I disagree. Continue reading “Two weeks…”
So I managed to tune in to the big game at the exact moment that commercial came on. You know the one. There’s not enough eye bleach in the world to get that image out of my mind.
Who was it for? I’ve forgotten, because ICK!
I was going to watch the rest of the game, even had an invite to go to a party for the purpose, but by the time I got my dinner together and actually sat down, the Broncos had already scored the first 10 of their points against the Panthers. I’m just not invested in football, unless I have someone to share the commercials with, and my heart wasn’t into the blogging aspect of game watching this year.
I opted to watch last week’s Downton Abbey episode, followed by the new one that aired on Sunday at 9. Ironically, it’s about a very rich family coming to terms with reality in the decline of a major empire, in the lull between wars.
So I missed Lady Gaga’s performance, and Beyonce’s, but I caught the very worst commercial of what everyone seems to agree was the very worst game in the 50 year history of the Superbowl. (Nope. Won’t post links. I couldn’t find a reliable source for the official videos and the sources I did find are questionable. Sorry.)
Meanwhile, there’s this. I suggest swallowing, because you’ll regret it later.
It’s good that the President is relaxed enough to make these jokes, and I appreciate his sense of humor, but it feels just the teensiest bit like Nero fiddling while Rome burns. Not, you know, like this guy, by a long shot, but still.
In other news, I just finished my taxes, and I managed to make it just enough that I didn’t owe anything to either the feds or state, even though I sucked more money out of my IRA so I could buy my fixer upper and get out from under the ridiculous rental market. And it’s a good thing I did it when I did, because today’s little stock market dip is outrageous.
At a point where we ought to be able to celebrate paying less than half of what we were for fuel when President Obama took office, nobody’s happy. Banks are engaging in risky investments again, and every time they play that game, folks who’ve trusted the system and put their money in IRAs suffer the consequences.
If you think you’re immune, consider:
- Most traditional pension plans are gone. Even the government has largely divested of pension plans, except for certain sectors like the US Postal Service.
- Unemployment numbers fail to include folks over 50 who are increasingly forced to admit they won’t get a job to replace the one they lost in the recession
- The permanently disabled who can no longer qualify for full-time and can’t collect unemployment don’t count either.
- Neither do the kids who’ve never had a job before and who never qualified in the first place.
- Cost of food hasn’t dropped. Neither has the cost of other goods, except when discounts apply at special sales, and even then we know some places intentionally inflate the cost of goods so the “sale” really isn’t one. And it’s a long time till Christmas again.
It’s enough to induce heartburn in anyone who’s paying attention.
Small wonder I wasn’t in the mood last night to party. And when it gets right down to it, why I’m not all excited just because I’m presently paying about $1.67 for gas.
I don’t believe it’s going to last.
I think it’s a temporary dip in prices, and that dip is going to go away again the moment we let the GOP win. Because their interests, in every way, lie in oil prices.
They’re punishing the rest of the world right now, on Wall Street, because oil prices have slipped so far. If they manage to leverage themselves into position to take the White House, to ensure a permanent majority in the House and Senate, to rewrite the Constitution, you’d better believe the only ones who’ll win already count their annual salaries in 10 digits or higher.
New Hampshire’s Primary is tomorrow. Who’ll come out on top: A Democrat and at least three Republicans. After tomorrow, there’ll certainly be fewer choices on the Red side of the aisle. We’ll be one state closer to November. And one more step closer to the end game for American Democracy.
What did you do last night?
Social Security isn’t entitlement and it isn’t an open gift to the government. It’s my money, taken by force out of my paycheck starting with my very first job in 1983. The government thugs who raided the fund in the first place should repay what they stole or go to jail, just like any other thieves.
Yes, all of them.
But who are they? Are they even still here? Well, that’s an interesting question. It requires some major fishing into the dark depths of history. Head all the way back to 1983 with me. That’s where it started.
Maybe you weren’t paying attention. I was, because I was receiving Social Security benefits as a teenager, thanks to the disability and early death of my mother. And here’s where it all began. With Ronald Reagan.
But not really. Actually, it’s Alan Greenspan who did the dirty work here. Reagan just signed off on the bill. Like the boulder in Raiders of the Lost Ark, it’s going to crush all of us unless we figure out a way to get out of the way.
What follows is a bunch of link sausage. A lot of these links are thick with details that may seem unnecessary, but trust me, they build my case that this is, and has been, the whole goal of the GOP, ever since Reagan’s election. And with all that hindsight, it’s clear we’re getting screwed. And we’re not even getting the courtesy of a thank you or a payment for services rendered.
See, from my perspective, it started when Reagan decided that survivor benefits could be cut. First direct cut into my direct benefits as a college student. Forced me to get a student loan for my first year in college. Lucky for me, my grandfather was in a position to help with tuition, after he buried my mother.
From the first article, at FedSmith.com: Ronald Reagan and The Great Social Security Heist, some choice selections for the TL;DR crowd:
Instead of being a proud day for America, April 20, 1983, has become a day of shame. The Social Security Amendments of 1983 laid the foundation for 30-years of federal embezzlement of Social Security money in order to use the money to pay for wars, tax cuts and other government programs. The payroll tax hike of 1983 generated a total of $2.7 trillion in surplus Social Security revenue. This surplus revenue was supposed to be saved and invested in marketable U.S. Treasury bonds that would be held in the trust fund until the baby boomers began to retire in about 2010. But not one dime of that money went to Social Security.
The $2.7 trillion, which is alleged to be in the trust fund, was all spent for wars, tax cuts for the rich, and other government programs. If the money is repaid at some point in the future, we could say is was just “borrowed.” But no arrangements have been made to repay the money, and nobody in government is suggesting that the money should be repaid. So, if it is never repaid, the money will definitely have been stolen.
And that brings us to Iran-Contra, G.H.W. Bush, and Black Monday.
Black Monday? Yeah. Stock market crash. Under Reagan’s watch. Tied to a small oil problem with OPEC. Funny thing, the Bush family is deep into oil. So, we put an oil man in the White House.
And what happens then?
Fortunately for us, Bush fails to gain a second term. We have eight years of Bill Clinton’s administration, where we try to gain back some of the momentum, but we overbalance, and suddenly the GOP take the House. Hello, Contract With America. Goodbye cooperation in the House and Senate. For good and all, it seems in hindsight. And hello to the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.
Another bubble, and then Enron, and suddenly the SEC is all over accountability. Finger pointing…goes nowhere. To be sure, it’s a problem, but soon forgotten in the post-election sorting out, 9/11 and infighting that comes out of the election, which put G.W. Bush in office. And like magic, the solvency of the Social Security Fund was an issue.
Now to be sure, I’ve skipped hundreds of small details to get to this point, but I wanted you to have some background. What follows is essentially link sausage, but it all points to one thing: The GOP want you to pull your money out of what ought to be a stable financial environment and trust THEM to keep your money for you while you age.
So if you want some stomach-churning reading material, click away.
This. This is what we are fighting in the government. Were you born before 1965?
You’re going to see the hit, unless you die of cancer or heart disease first. Which is entirely possible if the GOP get their way and make the death…I mean health industry private for everyone.
With an entire subsequent generation in jail or jobless, and wages that are virtually unchanged in 30 years, we are indeed in a pickle, but it’s one we could have avoided if we’d managed to keep the greedy bastards from getting their hands on that money. MY money. YOUR money.
This is a disaster that could have been avoided.
How? By stopping these people from bankrolling the deception and the lies.
Chew on this: How much have you heard the big buzz that privatization of social security is the only way to save it?
What does that mean? Pushing everyone to purchase stock, either outright or in funds.
Have you been paying attention to Wall Street this week? In just two days, my teeny tiny IRA has lost a third of its value, on three stocks. I’m not sharing which because that info’s irrelevant. Suffice to say, if I’d tossed the money into an index fund, there’d be even less. I might as well have invested the entire amount in PowerBall lottery tickets.
Welcome to the latest bubble. Tied to the sudden drop of oil.
And thank your stars the GOP hasn’t yet gotten its way, because if they had, many of you who might depend on Social Security for at least some of your income could be SOL right now.
Buy low, huh? Yeah.
So, how long do you think it will take for oil prices to rocket skyward if the GOP takes the White House? Four months? Two?
And in the meantime, I hope your retirement fund, that IRA or 401(K) of yours survives. Because without that and your precious Social Security and Medicaid, you, my friend, are screwed.
This is what’s at stake with the coming election. Bernie Sanders knows it. So does Elizabeth Warren.
I’m watching the Democratic Debate tonight on ABC. It’s not just me, I hope. Who’s wondering why the focus is so sharp on Daesh. No matter what the candidates have to say, they’re dragged back to talking about Assad and war.
Does this sound familiar to you? No??
Isn’t it interesting that as much as Bernie Sanders wants to talk about income inequality, about endemic racism, about gun control, about infrastructure, about the things we MUST concentrate on to survive, we have to spend HALF of the debate on foreign policy, most notably endless war in the middle east. They’re FINALLY addressing the domestic issues in the second hour.
Maybe it’s just me, but I find this format immensely frustrating.
I see too many parallels in the extreme focus on threats that we created by our own actions, without accepting any sort of responsibility or admitting our role, that’s just crazy.
I want to know what we’re going to do here. I want to know why we haven’t been talking about these things that matter to us every day, like the cost of groceries.
Domestic policy should have been the first thing out of the gate. We need to focus our attention here, balancing education, infrastructure, making things better for everyone, not just the rich. And we need to ditch endemic racism, enforce equality, make sure that freedom isn’t compromised out of a misguided sense of fear and paranoia.
I want to hear that they’re going to ditch the Patriot Act and Citizens United, and close the tax loopholes and pipeline that ships our money out of the country.
As long as we keep the spotlight on war, as long as we continue to fight the war without dealing with the home issues, as long as we keep producing wounded warriors instead of jobs, this isn’t going to change.
No matter how loudly the media focuses on the issues off-continent, we need to look within. We can’t break the cycle if we don’t stop these wolves from forcing the focus elsewhere.
If we can’t fix our own home, the terrorists win.
Three years ago I wrote this post about Trickle Down theory. Since then, we’ve seen more of what I view as the most disastrous public policy in my lifetime.
That saying about reaping what we sow only applies when we have a direct hand in causing the problem. Did you vote for Reagan? Then much of what’s wrong with this country today is your fault. I hope you’ve repented.
I got into an argument recently with a millennial who was perfectly happy to pin our disastrous economic situation on all the Boomers who made our economy what it is today. Sadly, there were a bunch of us, right at the tail end of the generation, who weren’t old enough to vote. As I’ve said before, I’d happily have voted for anyone but Reagan, given half a chance, but I wasn’t old enough to do that when he was elected to his first term.
But there was a valid point: We should have known better. The rich don’t stay that way if they give their money away in taxes. The assumption that the “Job Creators” would actually operate in the interests of anyone other than themselves is, in large part, fallacious. If you still think you live in a democracy, you’re sadly mistaken. This is a plutocracy. An oligarchy. We are living in the new Gilded Age. And we got there because people actually believed the lies, thought that if we made it easier for the rich to amass fortunes, we would see any benefits from their greed.
What on earth were they thinking?
Three articles will tell you just how wrong those theories were back then.
NewYorkTimes.com: In the Real World of Work and Wages, Trickle-Down Theories Don’t Hold Up
Meanwhile, the GOP candidates are talking about war in Syria as if that will fix anything. The only thing that matters to them is protection of their own stash, and to hell with the rest of the country.
If you vote for any of these thieves, you get what you deserve, but don’t take the rest of the country with you. They don’t give a rat’s fuzzy behind about you, and they will happily drive the rest of us to the poorhouse given half the chance. Unless you’re a millionaire, you’ve got no business supporting them.
Just say no.
ol·i·gar·chy (noun ˈä-lə-ˌgär-kē, ˈō-; plural: ol·i·gar·chies)Full Definition of OLIGARCHY:1 : government by the few2 : a government in which a small group exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes; also: a group exercising such control [emphasis mine]
On April 9, 2014, this report was released on Princeton University’s website, and it’s shaken up news reports all over the world. It might come as no surprise to you, dear reader, that I’m not shocked at all by the finding. In fact, I’ve been using the term for at least the last several years, to describe in various threads just exactly what our country has become. If you think we’ve somehow escaped notice, think again:
All of a sudden, this is news. Only it’s not news.
New York Times: Oligarchy, American Style (11/3/2011)
Mother Jones: How the Oligarchs Took America (12/2/2010)
Robert Reich’s film, Inequality For All, does a spectacular job of tying all the loose ends together to explain what happened to the U.S.A. over the last 30 years. I’ve written a lot about the symptoms in the last year and a half, but nothing connects them half as well as this simple, elegant movie.
Too many people spend their time repeating the talking points without understand the source of the platform. They trust the office without paying attention to the officer. They don’t know how to read between the lines because their education fails to explain that the subtext is just as important as the message. We got where we are today because the Republicans beat the Libertarians in 1980, and the Libertarians took a different path.
You can (and should) go back in this blog and read the articles I’ve posted on the Koch brothers, you can listen to the things Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have to say (because comedy is the best source of truth these days), or you can analyze the political rhetoric that’s starting to hit for each of the Senate and House races this year, but the bottom line is, we have maybe two years to get our act together and do something about the GO(T)P.
They’ve got a lock on two of the four (yes, four) branches of government: The Supreme Court and the House. Without cooperation across the aisles, the Senate is barely holding on. Today, the Senate leans Democratic, but that’s not a given based on the 2014 election analysis.
If the Senate flips back to the GO(T)P, and we put another Republican in the office of President, we can write off our country. The poor will become modern-day serfs and the middle class will join them because that class is a modern myth. The combined branches will finally get to do what they always wanted – rewrite the Constitution with impunity.
The Presidency depends on having enough votes in key states – most of which are undergoing the same sort of voter crap that Florida’s done. We tip one or the other (senate or presidency) in the direction of the GOP, and what little remains of our safety nets will disappear completely. Want some practice at reading between the lines? Try these articles out for size:
Purge the rolls of Democrats, lean a little in the direction most conservatives think they need to go, or split the vote a little more with the splinter parties (Green or Socialist) and the GOP will have what they want: Total control of the US government. Once that happens, they can rewrite our constitution, revise the rules for who gets to vote. Can’t happen? We have three Supreme Court Justices who are on the edge of retirement, and the guessing game for who will retire first, and who will replace them, is heating up. Have a good look at the Tea Party line and platform and you’ll see the fundamentals of the Neo-Fascists who are presently armed to the teeth, thanks to the NRA.
We can still stop the madness, but it’s getting harder, not easier. I’d hoped the GOP was the party of the Old White Male, but that ignores the younger population who are moving in through the Tea Party. I recognize that the Democrats have issues, but the things they want to support – the Social Safety Net, universal health care, public education – will ALL go away if they lose. So like I said: We’ve got maybe two years to turn this around. We can’t wait until 2020. This election is important. The next one is critical.