“Winners” vs. “Losers”

One of the more destructive myths that rule our thinking and behavior here in America, and much of the world, is the idea of “Winners” and “Losers”. Winners, the myth goes, are rugged, brave, determined and unconquerable, they have the character to fight on and win no matter what the odds are against them. Losers are weak, lack any will at all, are lazy, greedy and terrified of hard work and competition. There is no other possibility for human experience, in a free society you have to fight and you either win or you’re a fucking loser. Which means that the vast majority of human beings are, clearly, losers.

How is winning defined? Having so much money you can tell anyone you like to go fuck themselves. Losing? Not having enough money to survive, let alone tell people to fuck off. A loser angrily telling people to fuck off is seen as pathetic (and, in bad cases, worthy of jail time), a winner doing it is just, well, availing herself of part of the privilege of victory.

Why this myth is so destructive is pretty easy to grasp. For one thing, much of “winning” and “losing” is out of our individual hands. The accident of our birth, into wealth or poverty, is probably the single biggest determinant of whether we will win or lose at the American game of life. Most American children born in poverty, to parents who were born in poverty, will grow up to be poor, their children doomed to a similar fate. These people are all, according to the myth, incorrigible losers. It is hard for a child born to great inherited wealth, even the greatest fuck up, given every advantage throughout his life, to blow through an entire family fortune. For one thing, that’s what trusts are for, to protect inter-generational wealth from the stupidity of one heedlessly greedy heir.

Take all the things that flow from being born poor or being born rich: education, physical safety, health care, optimism about life, the ability to buy things, opportunity, life expectancy. The poor who are lucky get one shot, at most, to emerge from their life-shortening predicament. The rich typically get many chances to redeem themselves, even after massive fuck ups that would mark most others as irredeemable losers.

Think of the several self-inflicted bankruptcies of the Orange Polyp, not to mention the criminal schemes and frauds the creature is currently under investigation for committing, the many he’s done openly and paid no price for. A prep school boy who rapes a girl will often get a discreet second chance, his life shouldn’t be destroyed by one youthful mistake, the custodians of wealthy boys agree. A public school boy who gets in a fight in the cafeteria is a menace to society who will have the rest of his life set in stone almost immediately.

I think of this pernicious myth of Winners and Losers whenever I see the face of Swanson TV dinner heir Tucker Carlson, screwed into various expressions of contempt and disbelief. Carlson is undoubtedly what many Americans think of as a winner, he’s rich, influential, has a great job, is a celebrity, gets to opine at great length and influence millions of angry citizen viewers. His employer forced him to take the vaccine, and booster, and he goes on the air urging the 20% of American never-vaxxers that they are 100% right to resist tyranny, this rapey coercion by the Deep State. Every one of that 20% (who have a 20X higher chance of death from the disease than. fully vaccinated Americans) watch Carlson’s act regularly, getting comfort from the supremely confident confirmation of their feelings that this great winner gives them nightly.

Winners are easy to list. Forbes publishes a big list of them every year. Time Magazine gave one Man of the Year for 2021, a year when Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman saved Mitt Romney’s life during a riot and single-handedly prevented a possible massacre on the floor of the Senate. Losers, on the other hand, tend to be anonymous.

My father, who died without an obituary in the paper, died tormented by the fact that even after escaping dire poverty, and raising his children in a middle class home on a tree-lined street (about a mile, and across the tracks, from where little Trumpie grew up), he still felt like a loser. His emergence from poverty was a triumph few today have any hope of experiencing. He knew that he had emerged from poverty as a result of generous veteran’s programs that allowed him to go to college tuition free and get a low rate mortgage when he was finally able to buy a home. The sale of this house, forty years later, was the bulk of the wealth he was able to pass on to his children. He was among a large number of World War Two veterans who made this transition from lower to middle class, thanks to government programs (programs that did not apply to Black veterans). He knew Black veterans had been fucked out of the chance he had, and that bothered him too, very much so, at one point.

I know it won’t happen any time soon, but think of how much better this threatened world would be if all of us losers got together, across all artificial boundaries, and set out to get rid of the dangerous myth that supremely greedy, hyper-competitive psychopaths are the winners the rest of us need to revere. For one thing, look at how happy all these grim-faced, constantly brawling winners seem to be…

Too rich for you?

The news broke recently, right before the annual Davos convention of the world’s richest people (done by Zoom this year), that the world’s top ten billionaires had doubled their combined wealth during the pandemic, to the tune of about $800,000,000,000 (800 billion), accruing at $15,000 a second ($1.3 billion a day).

It appears, as the BBC points out, that the figures might be slightly exaggerated. If you choose a starting day in February 2020, instead of once the pandemic, officially underway, dropped stock prices in March 2020, then the wealth of the ten richest men may only have increased by 70%, a full thirty percent less than the 100% increase in their wealth claimed by anti-poverty organization Oxfam in its recent report.

So rather than a combined almost two year windfall closing in on a hard to imagine trillion dollars, say, the world’s ten richest men may only have reaped a more modest five or six hundred billion, combined. Beyond that, all of the world’s richest men did not profit equally, throwing things off a bit more still.

Bill Gates, for example, only saw a 30% rise in his net worth, while Times Man of the Year Elon Musk raked in a more than 1,000% increase, making all the other world’s richest look worse than they actually are in evading all social responsibility while fighting to shield their wealth from taxes.

The BBC account does seem not contest these findings by Oxfam:

The pandemic has made the world’s wealthiest far richer but has led to more people living in poverty, according to the charity Oxfam.

Lower incomes for the world’s poorest contributed to the death of 21,000 people each day, its report claims.

But the world’s 10 richest men have more than doubled their collective fortunes since March 2020, Oxfam said.

Oxfam typically releases a report on global inequality at the start of the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos.

That event usually sees thousands of corporate and political leaders, celebrities, campaigners, economists and journalists gather in the Swiss ski resort for panel discussions, drinks parties and schmoozing.

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they also note:

Oxfam’s report, which was also based on data from the World Bank, said a lack of access to healthcare, hunger, gender-based violence and climate breakdown contributed to one death every four seconds.

It said 160 million more people were living on less than $5.50 (£4.02) a day than would have been without the impact of the Covid pandemic.

The World Bank uses $5.50 a day as a measure of poverty in upper-middle-income countries.

As John F. Kennedy, raised in tremendous wealth (the Kennedy fortunes were greatly enhanced during Prohibition, as a result of taking bold business risks similar to those of organized crime) said: Life is unfair. Then they shot him in the head. His nephew, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. recently said at an anti-vaccine rally in Washington DC, of the tyranny of vaccine mandates during a :

“Even in Hitler Germany (sic), you could, you could cross the Alps into Switzerland. You could hide in an attic, like Anne Frank did,” said Kennedy, a prominent anti-vaccine advocate, in a speech at the Lincoln Memorial. “I visited, in 1962, East Germany with my father and met people who had climbed the wall and escaped, so it was possible. Many died, true, but it was possible.”

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Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. later apologized for the remarks, as people of good breeding often do.

Putin and Trumpism, still numbers one and two

Number one and two in the sense of the polite way people sometimes refer to the output of the urethra and colon. Also in the sense of causing a large percentage of their population to embrace irrational beliefs that sometimes disproportionately kill them.

Putin was trained in this dark art in the KGB, Trump simply has the natural gift of a sociopathic compulsive liar with an overwhelming need to be loved. The US, which leads the world in Covid deaths, is a close second only to Russia in the percentage of citizens who would literally rather die than ever take the vaccine, and other reasonable precautions, against the pandemic. Freedom from what they believe is tyranny is worth more than life to these folks.

Twenty percent of Americans polled report that they will never take the vaccine, are unwilling to ever take it [1]. Most of the 2,000 a day dying of covid in the US are unvaccinated. The US is once again Exceptional in this, most other nations are in the single digit percentage for those diehard Live Free or Kill Myself 20% of our exceptional fellow citizens, folks who believe they have never lost any fight, war, argument or game of tic tac toe. Their steadfastness in resisting science, and their ability to move freely from state to state and cough on anybody they choose to cough on, enables us to easily lead the world in daily covid deaths. Here in New York City I am often in stores that post a strict mask policy people feel free to ignore, with no consequences. American Exceptionalism — fuck your fucking so-called social fucking contract, asshole! Here’s the worldwide death chart:

Here is Chris Hayes, on the lying liberal media [2], laying out the deadly case of this exceptional American delusion that freedom equals the right to catch a deadly, but now controllable, disease and spread it to as many people as you like, before you yourself angrily die from it. The exceptional American belief that willing a thing makes it so and that freedom means, under certain circumstances, the right to infect and kill whoever you come into contact with. If I never admit I was wrong, I WAS FUCKING RIGHT!

[1]

Yes, I know about the general reliability of polls, but this one, as described in the video above, is based on the self-reporting of respondents. They are asked the questions and 20% of Americans, versus 5% of Spaniards and 7% of Australians, said “shit no, I’m no moron, I would never let the Deep State put that poison in my body.”

[2]

die Lügenpresse, give credit where credit’s due, this was stolen from the old Nazi playbook. Fake News! Nazis, many feel, have been as falsely maligned by the fake news as our American as apple pie Ku Klux Klan. So unfair! SAD!

Hard to refute

After their candidate won the election that was stolen from him, in their fevered imagination, a host of extralegal steps were undertaken by partisan conspirators, justified by crackpot constitutional theories, to keep their defrauded leader in power. Their efforts focused on January 6th, the last chance to keep him in power over the will of an 8 million vote majority and an Electoral College majority identical to his four years earlier. The final play, right before Biden’s victory would become irreversible, was a show of force, the violent storming of the Capitol building.

Initially denounced by all Republican leaders, they soon saw the popularity of the alternative reality that their leader had been deprived of power by an organized bipartisan plot to rig the election and steal victory from him. The so-called riot was, like, a totally legit peaceful protest. The rioters were right all along! That story has legs!

Using the filibuster back in May, Senate Republicans shut down debate on formation of a senate committee to investigate the January 6th siege of the Capitol. This was after weeks of bad faith negotiations during which the GOP was granted every advantage they sought on that committee. When the House formed a special committee, the Republican leader in the House tried to insert two or three loud-mouthed defenders of the right to riot when an election is allegedly stolen. These shrill obstructionists were correctly kept off of the commission. One of them is now standing on his absolute right not to divulge anything he discussed with the former president on January 6th, something he claimed he’d be glad to talk about, since, as he repeated, he had nothing to hide.

Now the word is that the House January 6th Select Committee is illegitimate, not bipartisan, another baseless Democrat [sic] witch hunt like Mueller’s, that the two Republican members are traitors to the rest of the Republican Party.

Bearing all that in mind, take a look at this short video and look for a weak link in the story that it presents, in light of what the January 6th Committe has now confirmed with a mountain of evidence.

Merrick?

The deadliest poison often comes from “friends”

The New York Times editorial board decided the most important story for Saturday, in a country on the doorstep of authoritarianism, was the following critique of our beleaguered president (because of worldwide inflation, don’t you know?):

When you click on the link you learn that not only is Biden not passing the so-called Big Mac test, he’s failing!!!

I had the stomach to read this poisonous editorial board editorial to the very end where one reads this:

The role of presidents in shaping the nation’s economic fortunes is generally overstated. But if the government can complete the work it has begun, this administration may yet deserve the victory laps it is taking for successful stewardship of the nation’s economy.

The discomforting truth is that the United States last year faced a choice between a protracted period of economic pain and an economic recovery whose benefits are temporarily attenuated by high inflation. Mr. Biden made the right choice. But it came at a real price — economically, for the nation, and politically, for him.

read the whole poisonous “critique” here

It’s hard not to offer a hearty “fuck you and what the fuck is your fucking problem?” to the New York Times editorial board . Breitbart, OANN, Newsmax, The Wall Street Journal, The NY Post and FOX news could not have done it better! It is certainly a model of editorial restraint. Mazel tov, momzers...

Bear in mind:

To recap the NY Times’s perfectly reasonable sounding analysis: Biden took office during a pandemic/economic/political nightmare on a global scale, and his policies worked, much better than in most other places.

The White House finds itself in the position of a physician who has administered a successful course of treatment but who has neglected to prepare the patient for the side effects or to give the timeline for a full recovery. A lot of pain was averted, but it’s hard to feel gratitude for things that didn’t happen. The economic outlook is strong, but it’s hard to feel gratitude for things that haven’t happened yet. Right now, the pain of inflation is front and center for most.

source

They also point out, almost accurately:

A one-year expansion of the child tax credit helped to reduce the share of American children living in poverty to the lowest level since the government began to keep records in the 1960s. But Democrats, unable to agree on the terms of a permanent expansion, have allowed the expanded benefits to expire, depriving millions of working families of needed help.

source

Something like “Biden and Democrats, needing every vote to pass laws and budgets, even by reconciliation, were blocked by all fifty Republicans and two conservative Democratic senators who are staunch opponents of minimum wage and the child tax credit, and incoherent defenders of the filibuster, who stand athwart all progressive aspirations, no matter how modest,” would have been a little more accurate, and fairer, description of Biden’s inability to get anything passed.

The Times continues (my recap): Admittedly, the president alone is not responsible for fixing all of that, particularly not in his first year in office. He did a good job, much better than anyone could have predicted. BUT, the price of a Big Mac is up, so that’s Biden’s fault, he failed, which is why, even though highly successful on most of these supremely challenging fronts, during the second half of a period when the world’s ten richest men doubled their net worth to the tune of five trillion untouchable bucks, Biden is still a fucking failure, as the polls show, largely because of inflation and nobody approves of a failure, particularly one who picks their pockets.

The Grey Lady has spoken. To millions, worldwide.

Fraud is also against the law

It’s not as if fraud is murder, fraud is just stealing from people, with a cunning lie that fools the credulous for long enough to get their money. Fraud may not be shooting somebody to death on Fifth Avenue, but it’s bad nonetheless.

It’s not as though these fraud allegations against the Trump Organization are anything new. Fraud is a big part of his lifelong business model and an integral part of Trump’s classy, gold-plated, exclusive brand.

Right before the Electoral College selected him as the president of the United States in 2016, Donald Trump agreed to pay the State of New York $25,000,000 (twenty-five million dollars) to settle, with no admission of wrongdoing, a case brought on behalf of defrauded former students of hugely profitable Trump University which also agreed to shut down [1]

It’s not like his fraudulent charitable Trump Foundation was closed because of fraud, it just happened that a few million dollars of the money Trump raised for the charity were spent by the Trump family in a legally improper way, and his charitable Foundation was forced to empty its bank account and donate all the funds to actual charities. The Trump Foundation, now bankrupt, was closed down as well. New York Attorney General Letitia James summarizes:

“Not only has the Trump Foundation shut down for its misconduct, but the president has been forced to pay $2 million for misusing charitable funds for his own political gain. Charities are not a means to an end, which is why these damages speak to the president’s abuse of power and represent a victory for not-for-profits that follow the law.” [2]

These pain in the ass witch-hunting DA’s and AG’s are a big part of the reason Trump retired to DeathSantis’s hospitably fascistic Florida.

Deflating the value of assets that you used, in their inflated form, for purposes of obtaining maximum loans and social status, and lowered for purposes of evading taxes … is that fraud? It would sure seem to be. Why this fraud is the subject of a very likely civil action by the NYS Attorney General (rather than a criminal one) is hard to grasp, at least without two minutes of diligent research on DuckDuckGo or Ecosia. Which wearieth me too much at the moment, tapping away, eyes agoggle, on this tiny but very, very smart phone, but feel free to drop a comment below if you do.

[1] https://ag.ny.gov/press-release/2018/ag-schneiderman-statement-final-trump-university-settlement

[2] https://ag.ny.gov/press-release/2019/donald-j-trump-pays-court-ordered-2-million-illegally-using-trump-foundation

Jon Ossoff, excellent speech in defense of the right to vote

It’s hard to believe democracy is still having to fight this same fucking war over and over again against the infinitely wealthy forces of reaction and entitlement, but there we go.

Jon Ossoff, the first Jewish US senator from the great state of Georgia (mein yamulka’s off to you, Jon), delivered a powerful speech in defense of passing a federal law to protect the once again threatened right to vote.

The only thing I wish Ossoff would have added was that not only was the Voting Rights Act last reauthorized in a bipartisan vote, as he points out, but in a unanimous bipartisan vote, 98 to zero in the Senate. All 16 Republicans still in the Senate voted for Voting Rights in that 98-0 vote, the same folk now all unanimous in filibustering debate and a vote on the same law they’d embraced in 2006, like the craven tools of authoritarianism they now plainly are (OK, not that last part, Jon).

Powerful speech well worth hearing, very sad that not even one of the sixteen Republican former voting rights supporters was moved by it.