January 13, 2020
Trump’s Continued War on Human Rights

Anthony Piel writes:

While the American public continues to be distracted by the Trump administration’s assassination of an Iranian government official (itself a violation of international law), Trump continues his war on the very concepts of human rights and international law.

As Rafia Zakaria recently pointed out in “The Death of Human Rights,” Trump has continued to crumble the edifice of human rights that began with the 1948 ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. To do this, Trump has openly attacked the United Nations, NATO and the EU, as unnecessary international collaboration when a Trump/US unilateral diktat should suffice, with all other nations just falling in line.

Example: Recently, the UN Security Council watched, appalled, as the Trump delegation announced that the United States would no longer consider Israeli settlements in the West Bank a violation of international law. In 2019, Trump woke up one morning and announced that he had “decided to give the Golan Heights to Israel.” (Problem, it wasn’t his to give.)

Now, with most Americans thoroughly distracted, Trump is quietly preparing his proposed US National Budget for 2020. The Trump administration is seeking a reduction in regular funding for the UN by 25 %, and still more for Peacekeeping and Family Planning, and is trying to persuade USAID and WHO to spend less attention and money on control of international communicable diseases, such as Malaria and Ebola.

Domestically, Trump would “privatize” Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, if he could. He is further weakening regulation of land, water and air pollution, as well as protections for endangered species, human health, and survival of Planet Earth. Under Trump, even more federal and state funds will be diverted from public schools to private “religious” schools to promote their own religions (an unconstitutional purpose).

We all know, or should know, the obvious solution: Kick Trump and his political cronies and tax avoiding sycophants out of office, one way or the other. Trump is clearly “under equipped,” mentally and morally, for any job of responsibility in the US or anywhere else. Everything Trump has touched has turned into what Rachel Maddow and others have described as “cow puckey.”

If Trump is subsequently proven to have committed specific crimes, then investigate, prosecute, try, convict and sentence him, like every other citizen under the law. Finally, to paraphrase Trump himself, let us chant: “Lock HIM up !”

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December 29, 2019
Twump’s Twicky Tweets…

…explained by Anthony Piel:

President Donald Trump spent yesterday at Mar-a-Lago tweeting and claiming credit for the Dow Jones reaching nearly 29,000, an all-time record. Trump has put out over 100 Tweets making this claim, and saying it will be the central issue in his campaign for re-election in 2020. Trump’s base is delirious !

The question is, do stock market price trends actually measure trends in the real economy, or something else ? The answer is, something else. So, what do the stock market prices actually reflect ? The answer : The continuing rise in stock markets results mainly from the continuing increase in disparity of wealth and income in the US. The typical already-wealthy few, who own and earn more that the bottom half of all Americans, have limited ways of investing their new wealth in economic development initiatives, so month after month and year after year, they routinely put part of their new-found (often untaxed) wealth in the stock and bond markets. It is this, and not economic growth, that accounts for the continuing rise in the markets.

…Read on

December 26, 2019
More From Our Silver-tongued President?

“When we were kids, a lot of us were kids, growing up, oceans separated us from danger. We were confident in our ability to resist evil because evil could never make it to our shore, unless it was created internally.

“There’s a lot of talk about Iraq on our TV screens, and there should be, because we’re trying to figure out how best to make the world a peaceful place. There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”

No, not that president. This was George W. Bush in September of 2002, practicing his English on the students of Nashville’s East Literature Magnet School.
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December 12, 2019
Nothing in the Middle of the Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos

I can’t argue with Chris Hedges on this, and so I won’t. The message of the 2017 Million Women’s March and the 2018 mid-terms wasn’t that the Democratic Party should double down next time on presidential candidates from the Republican wing of the party. Quite the opposite. It pointed to a fundamental change in the voters, away from the Bidens and Buttigiegs. Picture either of them on the debate stage, smothering Vladimir Trump with powerful displays of competence, knowledge, reason, ability, civility, sweet reason and simple decency. Might as well toss roses into a cesspool. This is America, not Oxford.

So here goes Hedges:

The liberal class and the Democratic Party leadership have failed, even after their defeat in the 2016 presidential election, to understand that they, along with the traditional Republican elites, have squandered their credibility. No one believes them. And no one should…

…Read on

December 10, 2019
What if Trump Got Re-elected in 2020 ?

From Anthony Piel:

Lord forbid that President Trump gets re-elected in 2020. As it is, Trump and the Trump-dominated GOP have tried to undo everything the Democratic Party has long stood for and tried to accomplish to benefit “ordinary” Americans, notably the saving of Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, public education, labor rights and the environment.

While we have all been distracted by Trump’s endless distractions, and most recently by the un-controvertible evidence that “Vladimir Trump” committed the impeachable “ high crime” of attempted bribery of a foreign government, using taxpayer money ($391 million of it) to entice Ukraine to endorse a public lie (planted by Russia) intended to undermine Trump’s domestic political opponent Joe Biden, while at the same time serving his Russian puppet master Putin, and allowing Russia to keep its annexation of Russian-speaking Crimea and Eastern Ukraine (vital to Russia’s oil & gas industry) without fear of sanctions or other actions by the West. Trump’s actions are a clear “abuse of office” and border on the impeachable high crime of treason.

Trump and “Moscow Mitch” and the GOP have been quietly eating away at funding for essential programs, such as family planning (by giving NIH family planning money to groups opposed to family planning). Meanwhile, Democratic primary candidates have been trying to set themselves apart from each other by debating various reforms (such as Medicare for all) which they would sponsor, if elected. Candidate Biden is right about one thing: None of these would-be reforms could possibly be developed, legislated and implemented unless Democrats first take back the Senate and Oval Office. That’s why priority one has to be to kick “Vladimir Trump” out of office, and only then should a Democratic Congress debate the more controversial reform details.

Here below is just one example, from the Associated Press, of how Trump and the Trump GOP (having seemingly given up on “Obamacare” for which they have no replacement because they don’t really want one) are maneuvering to destroy after 2020 the essential “Welfare” programs the Democratic party has always stood for, in this case the Affordable Care Act (ACC). If we thought we had won the battle to preserve “Health fo All,” we had better think again, because the Trump GOP doesn’t “think” so:

…Read on

It’s Catching, Docs Explain…

On Thursday, leading psychiatrists and I, along with more than 650 other mental health professionals, submitted a “Petition to the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives,” to include our statement on the psychological dangers of the president. Excerpt:
When a powerful person, especially a leader, suffers from mental pathology, a substantial portion of the population can be affected by a phenomenon called “shared psychosis.” Common in households where an individual suffering from severe mental illness goes untreated, we observe that, rather than the sick person getting better, the healthy members of the family take on the symptoms of the afflicted individual. At large scale, individuals who are paranoid or delusional are often very effective at garnering irrational, fervent support.
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December 07, 2019
Quietly Dripping Out…

Bear in mind that 53 percent of Republicans believe that this specimen is a better president than Abraham Lincoln.


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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 6:48 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (0)
American Heroes | Idiots | Rich White Trash
November 24, 2019
Lets Hope She’s Right

Just came across this 2005 posting in the archives:

A Democratic polling memo released yesterday found that women, who voted for President Bush last year in large numbers, have begun migrating back to their traditional home in the Democratic Party as the public's agenda has shifted from homeland security and terrorism to domestic concerns such as jobs and the economy…

Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway said that she could not comment on the specifics of the polls but that she agreed with the general thrust of Lake’s findings. “Women, if left to their own devices, are going to tend and trend Democratic. That is absolutely the case,” she said. “Women are still congenitally Democratic — and I’m the Republican pollster saying that.”

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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 6:31 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (1)
Elections | Hope for the Future
November 20, 2019
It's not "Quid Pro Quo"

…It's "Bribery," pure and simple, says Tony Piel:

“Quid Pro Quo” is NOT the term to use when describing President Trump’s current Ukraine fiasco. The correct term is “Bribery,” pure and simple. It makes a Constitutional difference.

“Quid Pro Quo” is a first-year law school term to describe when a supposed agreement is or is not a legally enforceable “contract.” It is a short-hand way of saying that something is to be given or received, and both parties expect to be legally bound by “performance” of contract. For larger sums or values, a legally enforceable contract must usually be written, signed and dated by both parties. Without “Quid Pro Quo” there is no contract. In the Ukraine fiasco, no one has suggested that Presidents Trump and Zelensky had intended, made or signed a legally enforceable contract. Contract law is not what it was all about.

“Bribery,” by contrast, means offering something (a “bribe”) in order to solicit or influence the actions (i.e. misbehavior) of an official or other person in violation of law or public duty. Bribery is itself a crime, and even if it fails it’s still the crime of attempted bribery. In the Ukraine fiasco, Bribery is exactly what is alleged, namely Trump’s withholding of $ 391 million worth of Congress’ appropriated military aid (intended to protect Ukraine from invasion by Putin’s Russia) in order to influence Zelensky to make a public announcement of a (frankly non-existent) Ukrainian investigation of (equally non-existent) “corruption” by Trump’s personal campaign opponent, Joe Biden, in the upcoming 2020 presidential election. Soliciting (by Trump) or making (by Zelensky) such a false statement violates international as well as US national election law. It’s a perfect example of “Bribery.”

Article II of the US Constitution anticipates the problem and provides the clear solution: “A President shall be removed from office on impeachment and conviction of Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes.” There’s nothing about “Quid Pro Quo.” It’s all about “Bribery.” The remedy: Removal from office. If not by impeachment, then by vote. Why ? (1) For unsuitability for high office, (2) for abuse of presidential power, and for violation of US law and the US Constitution. It’s that pure and simple.

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November 18, 2019
The Best and the Brightest


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November 07, 2019
Remind You of Anybody?

By now the idea that I had planted only a moment before had become completely his. It’s always a treat to watch a sociopath at work. For a man like Thurman Boucher, memory as the rest of us understand it just doesn’t exist. The past is rearranged and reinterpreted every second, to satisfy the organism’s changing needs. So once the idea had started to look good to him, it became his.
Thurman is a newspaper publisher, and the quote is from a 1995 mystery Kill Story, by my favorite author, me.


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October 23, 2019
Climb on This, Bitch

For the full article and video, go here.

“They are conducting the first ever female spacewalk to replace an exterior part of the space station,” Trump said. After a lag (there was a four second delay according to someone in the room), Meir chimed in to offer a correction.

“First of all, we don’t want to take too much credit, because there have been many other female spacewalkers before us,” Meir said from a location Trump accurately described as “a very high altitude.”

“This is just the first time there have been two women outside at the same time.”

It is at this point in the call, as video evidence clearly shows, that Trump raises his middle finger to the bridge of his nose, strokes his T-Zone, edges the aforementioned derisive finger along the outside of his eyebrow, and then uses it to curl some stray hairs behind his ear.


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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 3:04 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (1)
Animal blogging
October 22, 2019
The Deep State Strikes Again

From the New York Times:

William B. Taylor Jr., the top diplomat in Ukraine, gave “damning” testimony Tuesday about President Trump and the effort to pressure Ukraine’s government for political gain, according to a Democratic lawmaker and another person familiar with the opening statement Mr. Taylor delivered behind closed doors in the ongoing impeachment inquiry…

The State Department tried to block Mr. Taylor from appearing for Tuesday’s deposition, or to limit his testimony if he did, according to an official working on the impeachment inquiry who insisted on anonymity to describe the negotiations. So early Tuesday morning, in keeping with a pattern that has allowed investigators to extract crucial information from numerous administration witnesses, the House Intelligence Committee quietly issued a subpoena to compel Mr. Taylor to testify, and he complied.

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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 3:07 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (0)
American Heroes | Congress
October 18, 2019
Filth

I urge you to read this New York Times article to the end. The story it tells is squalid almost beyond belief. “Almost” because we know by now that nothing is beneath the soldier-sniffing, draft-dodging little prick in the White House — a specimen so cowardly that he hides behind Twitter to do his firing.

Here we see him hoping to look brave by sucking up to the most sadistic bully boys in his schoolyard. But the only one seen to have any actual balls in this story turns out to be a girl: Rear Admiral Bette Bolivar. Unfortunately her next promotion will have to wait until Elizabeth Warren chases Bone Spurs out of the White House.


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October 17, 2019
The Acting Secretary of State


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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 4:35 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (0)
October 10, 2019
Just Asking

Does this apply to us? You could argue that Deep Tan Don’s America suggests the opposite. What think?

The upper and middle classes in Germany during the 1920s-1940s were almost twice as likely to join the Nazi party than those with lower social status. So it may be that those who have the most to lose and/or are keen to climb the social ladder are particularly likely to conform. And, of course, if other members of your social circle are conforming, you may think it’s the “appropriate” thing to do.
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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 3:54 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (0)
Fascism in America
October 08, 2019
We’re Number One!

See?

More than 2 million Americans are in the country’s prisons and jails now, giving the United States both the largest number of prisoners and the highest per-capita incarceration rate in the world. For the U.S., the rate is well over 700 prisoners for each 100,000 of population. According to a recent BBC report, the only close contender is Russia, with an imprisonment rate of over 600 per 100,000 population.
What did I tell you.


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October 06, 2019
And They Did It In Portuguese!

In case you missed this back in 2002. They seem to have in Florida, in North Carolina — well, you get the point…

One of every seven people in Brazil is illiterate, voting is obligatory and every office from president down to state representative was on the ballot. Yet less than 10 hours after the polls closed on Oct. 6, and again in last Sunday's presidential runoff vote, all of the more than 90 million votes cast had been tabulated.

There was no muss, no fuss and no hanging chads, thanks largely to a new computerized voting system that experts describe as perhaps the most advanced and efficient in the world…

The heart of the Brazilian system is a plain $420 computer with a keyboard much like that of an automatic teller machine. Voters punch in the number of the candidate they want to vote for, wait for the candidate's picture and name to appear on the screen, confirm their choice or correct any error by pressing another button, and then move on to the next office on the list.

Brazilian officials said the new system also makes tallying the vote easier and more reliable once the polls have closed. Instead of relying on election judges who are vulnerable to error or political pressures, the results are transmitted on a secure line to the state capital and then to a national center in Brasília.

Fears that the system would be vulnerable to fraud appear to have been unfounded.

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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 5:41 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (2)
Elections | Strengthening America
October 03, 2019
Sentences I Wish I Had Written…

From the New York Times:

There’s a suspicion in Washington that a lot of Senate Republicans would be happy to turn on the president if there were some kind of super-secret impeachment ballot. This is probably true. How many of them would even want to have lunch with Donald Trump if he were, say, a school custodian. Not even Lindsey Graham.
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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 2:27 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (0)
IMPEACH | Idiots | Republicans
September 30, 2019
When Rudy Is Your Friend…

…you don’t need an enemy. Tony Piel explains:

As the American people have now learned, an (unnamed) whistleblower,” that is, a concerned US intelligence officer, has filed an official complaint that President Trump & Giuliani, in violation of several US laws, have been repeatedly calling and putting pressure on a foreign leader, believed to be President Zelensky of Ukraine, in order to get him to find “dirt” on potential 2020 Presidential rival candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter, in return for the reputed US release of some $ 250 million worth of military arms shipments. (???)

If true, then Trump and Giuliani have conspired (a) to violate US election laws, (b) to abrogate the US Constitution’s ban on foreign source “emoluments” (meaning something like money or information “of value”), (c) to engage in criminal corruption, and, in short possibly (d) to commit treason against the US, putting personal political and financial interests before the policies, principles and interests of the US and the American people. So much for duty, integrity and patriotism. Trump, of course, is asserting his imagined “executive privilege” to do “whatever I want,” including the blocking of whistleblower material being forwarded to the US Congress as the law requires. So, what is the actual (not imaginary) law governing this situation ?

The accusing whistleblower in this case is rightly relying on the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1998 which requires intelligence employees to submit such complaint to the Inspector-General (which he did), and then, if found “credible” and “urgent” (which it was) then it is to be forwarded to the Director of National Intelligence, not for final decision, but to be sure the material does not contain other national security secrets that should be “redacted” before on-sending.

The Act then states (i.e. requires) that within seven days the Director of National Intelligence shall forward the material to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees of the US Congress. There is no wriggle room left here to escape this law, unless the words “shall forward” no longer mean “will forward” in the age of Trump. Is a sitting or lying President no longer subject to the rule of law ? Or to plain English ?

When Rudi Giuliani now steps forward to defend Trump with words and actions even more outlandish and stupid than Trump himself could “think” up, you know that the White House is in a “deep state” of trouble.

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September 27, 2019
For God’s Sake, Don’t Show This to Trump:

From Charles Mann’s history of the Pre Columbus Americas, 1491:

Carried on a golden litter, Thupa Inka appeared with such majesty that “people left the roads along which he had to pass and, ascending the hills on either side, worshipped and adored him by pulling out their eyebrows and eyelashes.” Minions collected and stored every object he touched, food waste included, to ensure that no lesser persons could profane these objects with their touch. The ground was too dirty to receive the Inka’s saliva, so he always spat into the hands of a courtier. The courtier wiped the spittle with a special cloth and stored it for safekeeping. Once a year everything touched by the Inka — clothing, garbage, bedding, saliva, feces — was ceremonially burned.

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September 21, 2019
Women Poop. Sometimes At Work. Get Over It.

…says the headline on a recent New York Times investigative report that I just got around to reading. I was reminded of half-time years ago at a Harvard football game when I had zipped right into the men’s toilet past a huge line of women lined up outside the ladies room. Before I could unzip, a young co-ed passed me on her way to one of the two stalls standing empty at the end of the long line of urinals. I waited till she came out and married her on the spot, except that I was already married. But still…

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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 4:50 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (0)
American Heroes | Heroes and Friends
September 14, 2019
A Letter to Elizabeth Warren…

…from Anthony Piel, former General Legal Counsel of the World Health Organization.
Dear Senator Elizabeth Warren,

You and your campaign are doing a great job fighting for all Americans and correcting a decidedly “rigged” political, economic and taxation system. We admire and support you in this fight.

However, you are taking two counter-productive and unnecessary risks that you can readily avoid, while still getting the job done :

(1) Fair Taxation of the Uber-Wealthy. You have proposed a yearly wealth tax of 2 % on net worth above $ 50 million, and 3 % on over $ 1 billion. A majority of Americans, however, consider it “un-American” to tax pre-existing wealth. Nevertheless, they could accept taxing annual increases in wealth as a form of tax on annual income. This would be compatible with the language of the US Constitution’s Sixteenth Amendment which asserts that: “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived.” Proposal: You should consider adjusting your wealth tax rate upwards, but apply it to annual wealth gain only.

(2) Single Payer Health Care System. You have joined others in supporting a “Single Payer” National Health Care System, but you have perhaps moved too quickly to adopt Bernie Sanders’ proposal for “public ownership” of the drug and insurance companies. A majority of Americans will not accept this extreme version of what Bernie calls “socialized medicine.” But it is unnecessary. Because, for all intents and purposes (of patients, hospitals, insurers and other providers), you can have the convenience, effectiveness and cost saving of a standardized “single payer” system by “partnering” with private insurers. There is no need for governmental public takeover of private health insurance.

How can this be done ? Here are two actual examples that deserve study :
(1) Under the National Health System of Germany, which appears to patients, providers and insurers alike as a pure “single payer” system, the national system claims and payments are “mediated” by over 100 private health insurance companies and funds. (2) The World Health Organization (WHO) Staff Health Insurance Plan (SHI), which is operating effectively (and “in the black”) in over 200 countries, is for all intents and purposes a “single payer” system, and here in the USA is “partnered” with AETNA International, a private US insurance company. Results ? Better health outcomes at lower cost.

In any event, these policy and strategy details can be worked out after Democrats and other responsible Americans have taken back the Presidency and both Houses of the US Congress --- but NOT before. We have to win in the voting booth first.

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September 07, 2019
We Could Use More Immigrants…

…from “President” Trump’s shithole countries. Mary Mbugua, for instance:

Tuition was due. The rent was, too. So Mary Mbugua, a university student in Nyeri, Kenya, went out in search of a job. At first, she tried selling insurance policies, but that only paid on commission and she never sold one. Then she sat behind the reception desk at a hotel, but it ran into financial trouble. Finally, a friend offered to help her break into “academic writing,” a lucrative industry in Kenya that involves doing school assignments online for college students in the United States, Britain and Australia…

Cheating in college is nothing new, but the internet now makes it possible on a global, industrial scale. Sleek websites — with names like Ace-MyHomework and EssayShark — have sprung up that allow people in developing countries to bid on and complete American homework assignments.

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August 31, 2019
Haven’t We Read This Somewhere Again?

…except that Reagan had a nicer smile and read his lines better.
The quote is from W. Lance Bennett’s News: The Politics of Illusion, published in 1988:

Beginning in his first months in office, Ronald Reagan built a coalition that successfully dismantled nearly forty years of government social protection programs. The cuts in every social service and public protection area were awesome. Yet there were no headlines proclaiming “Reagan coalition dismantles Forty Years of Government Reforms.” Instead the dismantling of each program was announced separately, often days apart, and frequently was dwarfed by the ongoing crises of state and economy. In looking at The Wall Street Journal coverage of just five of the dozens of Reagan dismantling efforts, we find that only two received front-page coverage (Social Security cuts and the termination of the CETA jobs training program). A proposal to close the Consumer Product Safety Commission was given about four inches on page five in one issue, and a longer article on page 48 in another. A plan to cut off welfare to families of strikers was relegated to page six. The decision to stop tracing the owner transcripts of firearms was covered on page 131. The impact and linkages among these issues were further diminished by the fact that the stories were spread over a period of two months.

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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 6:21 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (0)
Historical Perspectives | Idiots | Republicans
August 29, 2019
Separated at Birth…

…only the one on the right forgot his hairspray.


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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 4:16 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (2)
Idiots
August 26, 2019
Who Me? Racist?

Whatever gave you that idea? (The tiny writing reads, top to bottom: white, power, Racist Hand Signs.)


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August 22, 2019
We’re Lagging in Snuffing!

…laments my neighbor Tony Piel, former director and general legal counsel of the World Health Organization:
In this new age of global war on democracy, it’s best first to silence your political opponents, and then be “free” to do as you like. Everyone is doing it, some more successfully than others. But warning: You too may be targeted.

If, as a “progressive” activist, you find yourself “accidentally drowned” in your own bathtub, or victim of some other form of “suicide,” a U.S. agency or team probably did it. That’s what happened to democratically elected former Guatemalan President Arbenz Guzman and former Chilean President Salvador Allende, to name two. They were deemed too socially democratic to continue in office, let alone in life. Of course, these happenings may just be deniable “fake news.” We wouldn’t really do something like that, would we ?

The U.S. has an impressive past history of political assassinations, usually carried out by passionate, self-righteous or demented individuals, almost always by gunshot, thus re-affirming our inalienable Second Amendment right “to bear arms” (and use them). The four best-known examples of this predilection for guns are: (1) the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln in 1865 by John Wilkes Booth using a .44 Derringer, (2) the assassination of President James Garfield in 1881 by Charles Guiteau using a Bulldog handgun, (3) the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901 by Leon Czolgosz using a .32 revolver, and (4) the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963 by Lee Harvey Oswald (and others) using a Mannlicher-Carcano rifle (or so the Warren Commission believed).

…Read on

Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 5:57 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (0)
Historical Perspectives | Palin | World Affairs
August 13, 2019
Private Sector vs. Medicare?

It's basically the same thing, as my son Ted explains in this article from The Hill

Here’s a yes or no question that most Americans, including those running for president get wrong: Is Medicare run by the government? Before I started working at Medicare after a decade in health care, I would have said so. But after several years at the agency, I came to realize that the better one-word answer is actually no — Medicare in truth is run by private industry.

Sure, the relatively tiny number of employees at the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) play a key oversight role, but they don’t in any real sense deliver Medicare to the American people. The principal job of CMS’s 6,200 employees is to manage contracts with hundreds of private companies, both small and large, that together provide Medicare to us all.

I am not only talking about the relatively well-known Medicare Advantage plans, whereby about one-third of Medicare recipients choose to get their benefit directly from a health insurance company like Cigna or Aetna.

Medicare Advantage just happens to be one area of CMS’s operation where the agency allows the companies that are delivering Medicare to use their own names, logos and limited provider networks.

…Read on

Stacking the Deck

Interesting speculation by Bob Cesca in Salon. Can he be right? Can Fat Donny’s uniformly disastrous economic policies be nothing more than market-rigging for his own profit? The ultimate insider, trading? Why not? It makes sense when no other explanation does, not even stupidity. A total moron would stumble now and then into sound economic policy.

…Worst of all, Trump has clumsily staggered beyond the ludicrous economic policies of the Bush years to further destabilize financial markets, including your 401k accounts and the future security of your employment. Specifically, the president’s trade war of choice against China has turned a steadily rising Dow Jones average, through 2017, into an unstable sawtooth pattern with massive single-day declines that are now tempting a full-on 2008-style collapse.

If you don’t believe me, check out the markets from January to March of 2018, during the months immediately following Trump’s tax cut. Normally, a tax cut would drive the financial markets upward. But in March of 2018, just a few months after the bill was signed, Trump stupidly launched his trade war by announcing 25 percent tariffs on steel and 10 percent tariffs on aluminum, applied to all of our trading partners. From those months onward — including today, as I write this article — the Dow, S&P and Nasdaq have been unstable messes.

At risk of burying the lede, I have a theory that Trump and his cronies may be manipulating and shorting the markets, reaping vast profits off the declines. Every time Trump tweets or blurts new tariff threats or economic bellicosity aimed at China, the market takes a dump. As we all know, Trump hasn’t divested from his business interests. We also know that Trump has manipulated the markets before, based on a massive investigation in the New York Times indicating that Trump engaged in a scheme with his dad, Fred Trump, known as “greenmailing…”

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