In other news…

Per hour, Jeff Bezos makes $8,961,187  — roughly 315 times Amazon’s $28,466 median annual worker pay.  An Amazon worker earning the $15 minimum wage would need to work about 597,412 hours, or 24 hours a day for about 68 years, just to earn what Bezos makes in one hour.  

(source)

On October 2, 2018, as the Saudis were luring journalist Jamal Kashoggi to their consulate to execute and dismember him on their sovereign’s orders, just a few days after Boof Kavanaugh slaved over the final draft of his muscular defense against a cabal of well-funded liars trying to destroy his life (and was still sweatily awaiting his confirmation to the nation’s highest lifetime post), Business Insider was quietly publishing a piece about Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’s wealth and his income.  

The other day Bezos publicly alleged that David Pecker’s National Enquirer has attempted to blackmail him.   Bezos seems to have produced evidence of this blackmail attempt.  The alleged blackmail might queer Pecker’s immunity deal with federal prosecutors.   Also being investigated are Pecker’s connections to Saudi Arabia [1], the monarchy that murdered and dismembered a (Bezos-owned) Washington Post journalist [2].  If things go badly for Pecker and he loses his immunity, and this threatens the president, the issue will possibly go before Boof and friends on the US Supreme Court for impartial adjudication.

Oh, Jeff Bezos’s income, Business Insider calculated it as $191,000 a minute.  

To earn their CEO’s salary for one hour, they calculated, the average Amazon employee would have to work… well, let’s just look at the blurb that comes up near the top of a google search of $191,000 a minute.

Oct 3, 2018 – Per hour, he makes a whopping $8,961,187 million — that’s roughly 315 times Amazon’s $28,466 median annual worker pay.

An Amazon worker earning the $15 minimum wage would need to work about 597,412 hours, or 24 hours a day for about 68 years, just to earn what Bezos makes in one hour.

I didn’t find that original piece on-line, but you can see Business Insider’s calculations and read all about ’em here.

Nothing to add, really, except “USA!  USA!!!!”

[1]  Saudi Arabia, we all remember, was the first foreign nation Mr. T officially visited as POTUS.  You will recall the clips of him stroking that odd glowing orb and doing bearlike movements in that weird sword dance those medieval monarchists did for the cameras, in a nation that routinely beheads those it deems worthy of such punishment.

[2]   Not to say, of course, that Bezos owned the murdered journalist, he owns the paper the journalist wrote for, The Washington Post.  

Boof Kavanaugh writes the dissent

The lying bully who, one must assume, told his ultra-right wing nominee, during the nominee’s day long visit to the White House immediately prior to the hearing where Christine Blasey-Ford testified, to fucking man up and face down the women accusing him of serious impropriety if he wanted to be on the Supreme Court, showed his great compassion during the State of the Union by attacking states who have enacted laws to protect a woman’s right to abortion.  He described the monsters in New York who recently cheered in delight (according to POTUS) a new law protecting the horrific practice of ripping beautiful babies from their mother’s wombs moments before birth, depriving these living, feeling, beautiful babies of ever getting to share their love and their dreams with the world.

This is a well-worn right wing pander to religious Christians who believe abortion is murder, no matter what– even to save the life of the mother–  and vote en masse for politicians who speak this clear “Pro Life” language.   I doubt that any woman ever decides to have an abortion casually.   It is likely a wrenching decision each time, more so in a late term abortion when the decision must be excruciating.   Of the 1% of abortions that are late term, virtually all involve extreme danger to the life of the mother or fetal anomalies that ensure the newborn will not survive.   Yet, for the pandering partisan, the question is always starkly black and white, reduced to an immutable religious belief, the direct command of Jesus Christ himself.   God has spoken about the eternal souls of the unborn, who will spend eternity in hell unless born and baptized.   As for those precious souls after they’re born, well, you bitches are kind of on your own.   As the icon Ronald Reagan famously said “the right to life ends at birth.”  

The president advocated for these feeling, beautiful babies, as we’d want anyone to, in the abstract like that.  “Let us work together to build a culture that cherishes innocent life,” somebody wrote for the president and he delivered the line to thunderous applause.   When the applause died down he added another nicely written line: “and let us reaffirm a fundamental truth, all children, born and unborn, are made in the holy image of God.”  As always with this president, there is the jarring and obvious disconnect.  The lives, rights and feelings of “illegal” children forcibly separated from raping, terrorist, drug smuggling parents at our southern border, well… that’s totally different, nothing innocent, cherishable or holy about those alien invaders.  

Though he didn’t mention those traumatized children of asylum seekers, for obvious reasons, his position is well known: those fucking animals need to be kept in cages, while good Christian fetuses must be protected from blood thirsty “humanists” at all costs (though until recently branding himself as a conservative Trump supported a woman’s right to choose, oddly enough).   The young alien children locked up in warehouses are just getting what they deserve.  Same for those little fucks in Yemen dying of preventable diseases and malnutrition — Saudis pay a lot of money for American weapons, BILLIONS, it creates millions of American jobs!  Same for poor kids here, they should have had the sense to be born to rich families!

The lying nominee, one Boof (“flatulence”) Kavanaugh, who artlessly equivocated about Rowe v. Wade being settled law, predictably voted yesterday to uphold a Louisiana law, almost identical to a Texas law held to be unconstitutional in 2016,  that would have made abortion all but unavailable to poor women in Louisiana (rich ones can always fly to a neighboring state or country where the procedure is legal and safe).   When the new voice of reason on the Supreme Court, corporatist Chief Justice John Roberts, joined the four non-Federalist Society endorsed justices in finding the anti-abortion law does not yet meet constitutional standards, Boof wrote the dissent.   Should be an interesting read.

I have many reasons for hating fucking Boof.   For one thing, he’s a prevaricator.  That is, a person who speaks falsely, a liar. a person who speaks so as to avoid the precise truth, a quibbler, an equivocator.   He engaged in cant, misdirection, cavil, ad hominem attacks, glaring silences as the clock ticked, partisan rants, tears.  He invented new definitions for things he was embarrassed about on his prep school yearbook page, like “boof” (the practice of imbibing alcohol through a tube placed in the rectum — or, as he defined it, flatulence) and “devil’s triangle” (sex involving two men and a woman, or, in his words, a drinking game involving three tiny shots of beer, you know, senator, like Pope, Donkey, Whore, or Tits and Two Dicks?).  He explained that claiming to have banged Renata (a signatory of the letter from affluent women attesting to his impeccable character)  was actually a reference to how proud and honored he’d been to have chastely danced with her once and been allowed to give her a kiss (she hotly denied this).  

And, sure, he quietly passed out from beer, just beer, like anybody does.  He remembers everything, he said confidently, 100%.   He was never a black-out drunk or had any kind of drinking problem.  Were you a black-out drunk, senator bitch?   My fucking wife is a Christian, OK?!!!

As for the traumatized woman who, with nothing whatsoever to gain and everything to lose (and who, along with her family, has paid a steep personal price), testified about his traumatizing behavior, well… she was just part of a calculated, orchestrated, well-financed Clinton-backed cabal of extremists who hate him because he loves God and his family and doesn’t believe any of that godless crap they preach.   As for the official Catholic publication in America removing their endorsement of him, or the similar American Bar Association position that, in light of these serious allegations, Boof needed to remove his name from nomination– George fucking Soros!

Boof Kavanaugh is the personification of pugnacious, whining, unaccountable privilege.  Just like the man who provocatively nominated him ahead of many equally qualified ultra-conservative candidates who were not also complete assholes.  Then, when multiple credible accusations about his character and judicial fitness were raised, the man who nominated him did the only thing he knows how to do: double down.  Boof then did the best he could to angrily convince the country, in a strikingly petulant and nonjudicial manner, that he is not exactly what he strongly appears to be.  He only had to convince a couple of Republican senators, actually, and he did “at least a good enough job” (as he said about his testimony before Soros and co. hired this liar for hire to smear his good name)  to get a narrow, party line nod.

It is more likely than not that a collegiate Boof drunkenly thrust his dick in a woman’s face at a party in Yale — the FBI never enquired or talked to the many witnesses who came forward to talk about the incident.   It seems probable that Boof and his friend Mark, another committed beer drinker, while in their elite prep school, locked a younger teenager in a room and groped her while drunkenly trying to remove her clothes.   He fell off her at one point and she made her escape, amid the uproarious laughter of her gleefully inebriated attackers.  His face drunkenly hovering over her’s and this laughter are indelibly imprinted on this now adult woman’s hippocampus.  Nobody who heard her testify believed that she was lying.   The only out was a lie about her being paid to spin a false story by those who hate our freedom.    Boof wrote the speech about that himself, laying out the vast partisan conspiracy against him, vicious people intent on destroying his life.

Boof writes the dissent in support of  the first anti-abortion law to come before him on the Supreme Court.   A woman has no rights to abortion in Louisiana because, blah blah blah.  The constitution says so.  So does Jesus Christ himself.   So do I.

Once our corrupt, lying president is out of office, however that comes about, his angry turd will remain on the bench of the Supreme Court for the rest of that young turd’s life.   What do we do about that?

Corporate psychopathy pharmacy edition

Obama was a restrained, smart, charming, president, and a sell-out, the dictionary definition of a neoliberal [1].   His great legacy is a first, conservative step toward ensuring affordable healthcare (private health insurance, actually) for millions more Americans than had access before his Romneycare revolution took place.   Many millions of Americans are still not covered by Obama’s embattled Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, but record profits for the health insurance, hospital and pharmaceutical industries continue to be raked in.  

There’s always a trade-off, in democracy, as President Obama reminded us, between the Good and the Perfect.   The ACA is, we’ll agree, good, if graded on the curve in a nation whose laws are written by corporations, living people just like you and me.

Because my healthcare plan level is chosen for me, based on my fixed income 167% the poverty rate (I have a choice of private insurance company only, not plan), I receive my prescription drugs from a gigantic nationwide corporation called CVS Caremark.   The drugs are mailed to me from out of state, most recently from San Antonio, Texas.   I got an email recently telling me that my blood pressure medication, Irbesartan 75mg, was on its way to me by USPS.   The package arrived a week later.  It contained a ninety day supply of Losartan Potassium 100 mg.

I never heard of the drug.  Never ordered it.  Never received any notification about it.  The bottle of pills appeared to have been sent to me in error.

So I called CVS, the corporate person who sent me the drugs.   There was the ordinary hold time during which I was informed how important my business was and that all of their representatives were busy helping other customers and that my patience was appreciated.  About ten minutes in I got to tell my story to a human rep for the first time.  She offered to file an internal grievance against my insurance company, Healthfirst.  I declined her kind offer, explaining that Healthfirst had nothing to do with this CVS cockup.

She asked me to hold a few times, and each time I heard a loop of schlocky jazz blues in G, about six bars, over and over.   The first receptionist, who, obviously, couldn’t help me, asked if I’d please hold to speak to the pharmacy directly about my pharmaceutical question.   That hold was about fifteen minutes.  The rep checked in with me every two minutes, as she said she was required to do.  We became almost friendly after the first four or five times, she was always a welcome relief from the endless loop of shit muzak.   I eventually got a laugh out of her with a dry comment about groovin’ to the muzak loop.

I eventually get to tell the story a second time to someone named Joe at the pharmacy.   At this point I am about thirty-five minutes into the call and almost done.  Or so I fondly believed.  I tell Joe the story again, ask him why I’d been sent Losartan Potassium 100mg instead of Irbesartran 75mg.  He asks me to please hold for a moment and then gets more information, as the loop plays again, over and over.  

Joe informs me there has been a recall on Irbesartan and they tried to get the pills in a higher dose, which I could have cut in half, but that dosage too was out of stock. He wasn’t sure why the Losartan Potassium 100 mg. got mailed to me, could I please hold?

The muzak loop in G turned out to be impossible to override, so I put the phone on speaker.  On this higher level of customer care there was apparently no rule that the reps had to check in every two minutes.  Ten minutes passed grooving to the idiotic loop.  

Joe eventually came back on to tell me that my doctor, whose name was on the paperwork from CVS, had prescribed Losartan, five days ago.   I asked if the 100 mg. of Losartan was equivalent to 75 mg. of Irbesartan, the dose I have been taking for several years.   He told me my dose of Irbesartan is 150 mg.   I told him I was reading from the label of the current bottle of Irbesartan 75 mg., and the bottle before that one.   He asked me to hold while he got the pharmacist on the line.

“They told me you were the pharmacist,” I said.

“I am the pharmacy tech,” Joe explained.   Any questions related to pharmaceuticals could only be answered by the pharmacist, would I please hold.

Now I was an hour into the call and starting to be affected violently by the loop of muzak, those cliched jazzy licks being played over and over and over.   Ten minutes later the pharmacist, who almost immediately revealed herself to be an actual imbecile, picked up the phone.  Blessedly the muzak loop stopped, but I was entering an even worse loop.

I told the story for the third time, asking why I had not been notified about this new medication.   She asked me to hold, and a few minutes later, when she picked up, told me I should take the new pills my doctor had prescribed.  She claimed to have all the paperwork in front of her, told me she would send me a copy.   She told me, again, that my dose of Irbesartan was 150 mg. (twice what I take) and that the new drug is very similar to the one I was taking and the dose was equivalent.  I explained to her again that my dose is 75 mg.  She told me that she was looking at the paper, that she would send me a copy.   

My phone is smart, if annoying.  It was counting the minutes.  I was now up to 70 minutes.  She told me that she was sorry for my confusion, and how long I’d been on the phone and that if I could hold for just one second, she’d get her “leader”, who’d be able to help me.

That one second hold lasted exactly ten minutes.   Her leader had told her that the problem was my doctor, not CVS.   While on hold I’d read the paperwork, six pages, arranged helter-skelter, the “cover letter” was the last page, tucked behind the Mail Service Invoice/Receipt with the credit card charge, page two of the personalized medical warnings for Losartan, followed by page one, which brought up numerous concerns about Losartan for me individually, followed by a generic sheet about setting up automatic refills and a generic Mail Service Order Form.   The last page was the cover letter which stated:

YOUR MEDICATION ISN’T AVAILABLE AT THIS TIME  

We can’t send your prescription for IRBESARTAN TAB 150MG because it’s not available at this time  

WE CONTACTED YOUR DOCTOR  

Your doctor told us to change your prescription to LOSARTAN TAB 100MG.

The pharmacist argued again about my dosage.  I asked her what 100 MG of Losartan was equivalent to in Irbesartan.   She told me Losartan comes in three strengths, 25 MG (equal to 75 MG Irbesartan)  50 MG (150 MG Irbesartan) and 100 MG (300 MG Irbesartan).   

I was only ninety minutes into this conversation and already starting to lose my patience.  I asked her to explain how a pharmacist can send a patient a pill that is four times the therapeutic dose he is taking.   She seemed insulted by the question, like she felt unfairly blamed for the corporation’s error.    She was oddly noncommittal, barely communicative.  

I began to raise my voice, telling her what would likely happen if I took a quadruple dose of a blood pressure lowering pill.   I would probably pass out, as I had once while briefly taking a double dose of irbesartan as part of my treatment for kidney disease.   She told me to stop yelling at her, she’d already apologized, and besides, it was my doctor’s fault, not CVS’s.  Then she asked me to hold for a second, she would get somebody who could help.

The second one second hold went on for almost fifteen minutes.  Someone named Irina picked up the phone.  I told Irina that CVS had negligently and without notification dispensed me a pill four times the dose of my prescription.   I informed her I’d already been on the phone for an hour and forty-five minutes.  I said I needed to get her assurance that CVS would get the correct prescription from my doctor tomorrow, overnight the pills to me and reverse the charges on my credit card.  We talked about this for a few moments, she told me she understood and then asked me if I wouldn’t mind, please, if she placed me on hold for just a moment while she spoke to her supervisor.

It was going on two hours, the timer on my phone read 1:59.  I told her it was not reasonable to ask me to hold again, when she was the fourth person I’d been forced to hold for in an already two hour phone call to resolve their error.  I gave her the thirty second version of why the corporate personality is psychopathic; interested only in gain to itself and deniability of all responsibility.  I told her I needed her assurance that CVS would honor my reasonable request to have the correct drug expedited to me and that I’d be on my way.  She told me unfortunately that she’d need to get her supervisor on the line, it would only take a few moments.  I convinced her to have this wizard call me back.  She promised I’d have a call within a very short time.  

Naturally, there was no call from anybody.   Good thing I’m getting medication for my slightly elevated blood pressure, eh?

 

[1] a neoliberal is a wealthy politician or donor who supports all socially liberal causes: nondiscrimination, a woman’s right to an abortion, sensible gun control, environmental regulations (within reason), equal pay for women, homosexual and transexual rights, the right to a public education, a social safety net, a merciful immigration policy, particularly for refugees fleeing violence, even affordable health care.   At the same time, neoliberals are financially conservative, corporatist, committed to preserving a lucrative, if unfair, status quo  protective of the financial services industry and the stockmarket-based casino of the “free market” economic structure as it exists.  

The road to hell is paved with the bones of these benevolent motherfuckers, since all of their good intentions are negated by their continual justification of war (very profitable, apparently)  and the brutal poverty that results from an economic order protective, above all else, of the liberties of the super-wealthy, the chosen elite who, in most cases, were the shrewd inheritors of vast fortunes.

Mind skittering, crablike, over the littered ocean floor

Learned a neat Django lick from Robin Nolan on youtube, a riff that uses several of the classic chord embellishments Django probably invented.  After re-reading a few pages of one of Charles Johnson’s books, and being struck by the line in his paragraph bio that he was, among other things, a cartoonist, I looked him up online. Johnson is a brilliant writer I’ve long admired, he’s admired by everyone else too, it emerges. Read The Middle Passage or Dreamer and you’ll see what I mean.   Read his biography on Wikipedia and you’ll say “no wonder the man writes like a genius.”   Who knew he started as a prolific young cartoonist who has been practicing martial arts and studying Eastern religions for the last fifty years, taking a few years to get a PhD in philosophy?

Earlier today I’d heard about the overturning, on Tenth Amendment grounds (states retain all rights not enumerated for the federal government), of the 1916 Keating-Owen Child Labor Act, the federal government’s first attempt to regulate child labor by invoking its powers under the Commerce Clause.   Since the product of child labor goes into the stream of interstate commerce, the law signed by Woodrow Wilson stated, federal law overrules any state state law that allows employment of any child younger than fourteen, or working someone between fourteen and sixteen for more than eight hours a day, nor can employers start the child’s working day before six a.m. or end it after seven p.m. [1]  The law went into effect September 1, 1917 and was in effect for nine months (nice irony there in the law lasting the gestation period for producing a new child laborer) before the Supreme Court struck it down in Hammer v. Dagenhart.  

That case was brought by the Roland Dagenhart, father of two Dagenhart kids who worked with him in a North Carolina cotton mill, six days a week from sunrise til ten p.m.    Roland stood to lose a lot of income if his young children were not allowed to work with him.    The Supreme Court, in 1918, agreed, on multiple grounds, that the Child Labor Act was repugnant to the Constitution.  

Oliver Wendell Holmes dissented, and his view would carry the day more than twenty years later when Hammer v. Dagenhart was overruled (paving the way for federal intervention in civil rights cases using the Commerce Clause).    After all his legal arguments, Holmes added (according the Wikipedia):

“But if there is any matter upon which civilized countries have agreed – it is the evil of premature and excessive child labor.”

Civilized countries, oh boy, there we go again!   We can’t torture, we can’t make six year-olds work all day, and into the night, to help support their families, we can’t use poison gas in warfare any more, we can’t decide who will, and who won’t use our public bathrooms, can’t lynch uppity, guilty troublemakers who threaten the peace by offending our morals, we can’t even use the damned n-word anymore!   Hand me my MAGA hat, boy, there’s work to be done!

My mind skitters and I see the worried faces of several people, over dinner last night, furrowing their brows over what they see as the certainty of another four years of Trumpocracy after the 2020 election.   They saw their fear clearly as inevitable, Americans are credulous idiots, we elected him, nobody can beat him.  Look what he did to the rest of that busload of Republican nominees before the bully juggernaut steamrolled his way to the candidacy, then the presidency!   

Look at history, also.   We may learn little from it, but we sometimes take a good lesson here and there.   In 1918 the Supreme Court decided child labor was a matter for each state to rule on.   By 1941 there was a widely supported federal statute regulating child (and all) labor on the books for several years (my father, born in 1924, was 14 when the Fair Labor Standards Act went into effect) and a Supreme Court decision specifically overruling the 1918 ruling that employing seven year-olds for 16 hours a day was perfectly fine if an individual state said it was perfectly fine.  The new principle was that the federal government could intervene in state practices whenever interstate commerce was affected.  This nation still, every so often, uses law to fix a longstanding injustice or take down a major league asshole or a president who is a crook.

Things change, although the pendulum of history, which is supposed to swing regularly from reform to reaction and back, has been as stubborn as a French Bulldog straining toward reaction during most of my lifetime, but– looky here.   Slavery is today unthinkable in the USA (though it’s still practiced worldwide, apparently, and convict slave labor is a problem here too, for convicts), so is putting seven year olds to work sixty hours a week in factories (though it’s done in places seeking competitive advantage with the global psychopaths who pursue a morals-free bottom line).   Common things, things we take as given, change in the minds of people and nations.     The difficult part is persuading people of the right way, the civilized way, the enlightened way.   We have twelve years to figure it out, climate scientists tell us.  Hard work ahead.

I sit here every day, trying to talk sense to myself as I tap these keys.  It is sadder than a lot of things, I suppose, this writing out my thoughts for my own use, but also less sad than many things.   I don’t ponder how sad or happy it is, I think only of its value to me, its possible use to others.   The mind skitters, I pick up a calligraphy pen and write a few words, which delights my senses in another way.  I pick up the guitar, at the ready in a stand right by where I write.   Let me practice that Django riff again, get it under my hands, up to speed.  Play it in another position, another key, there you go.

How my life looks to others, I have little sense of that.   A mystery, no doubt.  Is a life really less mysterious if you go to work everyday, do a job, get money, buy things, spend $200 a seat to see a living miracle on Broadway, put another $100 on the card to have a nice dinner after that?  That too is a mystery, like much of this arrangement here.  

Is it any wonder, not doing those seemingly reasonable things, that I sit here today, mind skittering like a hopped up crab on the littered sea bed, vying with a million other hopped up crabs?

 

[1] The Keating-Owen Act of 1916 prohibited interstate commerce of any merchandise that had been made by children under the age of fourteen, or merchandise that had been made in factories where children between the ages of 14 and 16 worked for more than eight hours a day, worked overnight, or worked more than sixty hours a week

Limiting the scope of an investigation

Because people feel so harried all the time these days, pressures mounting, attention spans shrinking, the 24/7 news bombardment as constant as the ever more personalized commercial come-ons, because the demands on our time are so relentless, few inquiries are ever carried out as thoroughly as they need to be, for best results.   We deal with vexations by triage, finding ways to relieve the most immediate and pressing tensions and moving on to other things.   It works to keep things going as they are, though it seldom leads to anything better than that.

During an interview with the New York Times reporters who researched and wrote the massive story of the Trump family’s long history of tax avoidance schemes, including outright fraud, the reporters were asked what the single most important aspect of their investigation was.   “Time,” they both said at once.  

Time is needed to complete any thoughtful research project, to follow where the new information points, to verify, to do more research, find corroboration, interview new witnesses, review new evidence, follow the leads from the new evidence.  Time is needed to refine the final product, eliminate avoidable errors and slapdash conclusions.  In the case of a newspaper, it takes time to run everything you plan to report past the lawyers who then have to review everything prior to publication.

The time and care the Times took in researching and writing that massive article on Trump’s family fortune is what enabled them to print and cheerily brush right past Trump’s lawyer’s empty threat:

20181029_184055 (1).jpg

We learned the other day that the FBI seized a tremendous cache of hard drives, computers, phones, reams of digitally stored information in the raid on Trump political adviser Roger Stone’s home last week.  They also seized bank records.   The raid came shortly after interim Attorney General Matthew Whitaker addressed the nation and sweatily announced that the Mueller probe was reaching its conclusion and would be wrapped up soon.

Clearly, the timeline has now changed for any final report from Mueller, as this trove of potential evidence in the Roger Stone criminal case is reviewed.  I heard a knowledgable talking head say yesterday that while the Roger Stone chapter, which ties many themes together, is likely the last one in the Mueller report, the final chapter could be a long one, comprising maybe a third of the final book.

Once again my mind flashed on the farcical five day limited FBI investigation into credible and specific allegations against then Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.   The FBI, we were told, had already investigated Mr. Kavanaugh numerous times and found nothing, no hint of impropriety of any kind.  That these allegations by Christine Blasey-Ford were being made for the first time in the fall of 2018 did nothing to quiet the indignant Republican chorus about how many times this good family man, this fine Christian jurist, had already been investigated by the FBI and found spotless.   The 51-49 majority finally struck a deal, bravely negotiated by the supremely spineless Jeff Flake, where they allowed a limited week long FBI investigation, for the sake of fairness.  

While the limited investigation was going on, the president entertained supporters at his campaign rallies by mocking Kavanaugh’s accuser about not being able to remember anything about the incident.  Never mind the many specific details she did testify to — according to the Mocker-in-Chief she didn’t know where, when, what, how, who, ha ha!  

Nobody who volunteered to speak to the FBI about the college incident where a drunken Kavanaugh allegedly exposed himself to a fellow student at a party at Yale was interviewed.  Almost nobody was interviewed in connection with the incident Blasey-Ford testified about during that less than week long investigation, no leads were followed, the FBI’s report on its extremely limited inquiry was kept from the public, though it concluded that the few people they spoke to had not corroborated anything, THE END.  Fair is fair, now we vote!

I was thinking at the time how helpful it would have been to the investigation if the floor plan of the house where the alleged attack took place had been verified, the home located.  Skeech, or Stinky, or one of Brett’s other little hard drinking prep-school buddies, may have had a home with the floor plan Blasey-Ford described in some detail in her testimony.   The stairs leading up, the bedroom door right there, on the right, directly across from the bathroom on the left.   Once the house was located, all kinds of other inquiries could have been followed.   Blasey-Ford remembered her attacker because he was not a stranger at the time of the attack she described.  She had met him before, knew his name, his face.  But she was also not interviewed by the FBI.  Shit, they only had a few days and she’d already done enough damage to a great American in her public testimony.  

Not to mention that Kavanaugh’s full defense of himself after Blasey-Ford testified was that he was the victim of a calculated and well-financed left wing smear job,  He even cried a few times to show how unfair this orchestrated partisan attack had been to him, his good name, his fine family, his lifelong dream of a seat on the Supreme Court, his Lord and savior.

I don’t expect Republicans to suddenly develop spines, or Democrats either, for that matter.   The FBI has a checkered past, a lot of it shameful, so I don’t look for high moral standards there either.  It’s up to we the public to make enough noise, to demonstrate the determined public opinion that democracy, no matter what it may have been in the past, is not a few rich twats deciding how much freedom, information and liberty the rest of us get.   Organizing this will take tremendous concerted effort, strategic brilliance, grit and time.  Time, of course, is running out as the clock itself is constantly being run out on so many things in a stressed-out nation with no memory of things that happened two weeks ago, let alone a decade or more in the past.

 

A Nice Case for Impeaching the Motherfucker

The author of this recent piece in The Atlantic makes an excellent case for beginning the impeachment process against Donald J. Trump.   The article by Yoni Appelbaum is here.  Appelbaum points out that the impeachment mechanism was put in place by the founders to provide a constitutional way to rein in an obnoxious president, and, when 2/3 of the Senate agrees with the case made by the House, after proof of the facts alleged, in a public trial where sworn testimony is heard and documents are put into evidence, remove that unfit president from office.  

This is precisely what needs to be done now, particularly after this obnoxious, unfit president rashly shut down the government and unthinkingly burned $11,000,000,000 for working Americans, causing massive suffering to stage a 35 day public temper tantrum, before he agreed to a three week reprieve, threatening to do the same thing again if he does not get what he is demanding.   It is time to put his unrestrained presidency on the defensive and lay out, officially and publicly, the many reasons he’s unfit for office.  

Remove him from office [1] or not, the impeachment process is an important part of our troubled checks and balances system.   It is the constitutional tool intended for the purpose of, at  minimum, restraining an unrestrained president. Impeachment should begin now, my fellow Americans.

I always enjoy a bit of historical perspective, and learning something new that adds to that perspective.  Here, from Appelbaum, is a contemporary of Andrew Johnson’s, writing about that historically crude, vulgar, egotistical president, the first in history to have presidential vetoes overridden by Congress [2], the first of only three to face impeachment:

The case before the United States in 1868 bears striking similarities to the case before the country now—and no president in history more resembles the 45th than the 17th. “The president of the United States,” E. P. Whipple wrote in this magazine in 1866, “has so singular a combination of defects for the office of a constitutional magistrate, that he could have obtained the opportunity to misrule the nation only by a visitation of Providence. Insincere as well as stubborn, cunning as well as unreasonable, vain as well as ill-tempered, greedy of popularity as well as arbitrary in disposition, veering in his mind as well as fixed in his will, he unites in his character the seemingly opposite qualities of demagogue and autocrat.” Johnson, he continued, was “egotistic to the point of mental disease” and had become “the prey of intriguers and sycophants.”

Those eerie echoes of history.   Time to impeach this motherfucker, for real.  Read the case Appelbaum makes.   It is hard to refute.

 

[1] As for those worried in the event Trump is impeached, convicted by the Senate and removed from office, about interim president Mike Pence, put that worry aside. Pence is a pale nonentity, placed in office by the Koch brothers who orchestrated the few political successes the unappealing Christian zealot has achieved.  Pence is an unpopular, squirm-inducing politician without charisma or charm, beyond the narrow Koch donor base.   He is unlikely, as lame duck president, to be able to do even a small fraction of the damage POTUS is currently doing.

[2]   As Congress should have done when Trump refused to sign the unanimous bill for keeping the government open that he’d previously signaled to vicious partisan enabler Mitch McConnell he would sign.   When Trump vetoed (by refusing to sign, the ‘pocket veto’ I suppose)  that unanimous bipartisan bill funding the government on an interim basis, Congress had a duty to act against a rash, vain, arbitrary president and prevent a senseless government shut down.   Congress did not act.  So much for checks and balances, Mitch, you rabid zealot.

Troika of Tyranny and other thoughts

Somebody, you can be assured, was paid a pantload of money to come up with that snappy John Bolton catchphrase “troika of tyranny”.   Venezuela, we are now being told, is part of a modern-day Axis of Evil.   Axis of Evil was great, because Hitler’s government was the dominant Axis partner back in the day, so the Hitler piece was baked right into the phrase that paved the way for the Iraq war, one of our most glorious and victorious triumphs as a nation.    

Troika of Tyranny is perfect for today, fresh, with a touch of wicked irony, because of that Russian-sounding “troika”.   Plus, we learn that Venezuela has the world’s largest supply of fossil fuel (who knew?).   An American invasion would pay for itself, we’d just seize and privatize the petrol, according to John Bolton’s unimpeachable mustache.    

Anyway.

I was wondering how many billionaires we have in the USA today.  One second later google gave me this answer from Forbes, albeit a two year-old number (like POTUS himself):

There are 540 billionaires in the United States, with a combined net worth of $2.399 trillion, according to our 2016 list of the world’s richest people.    source

Reaching for my calculator, I tapped in $23,900,000,000,000 (it’s more now, two years at even 5% interest — hoo boy) and multiplied it by 1 %, just for giggles.   You wealthiest of Americans, kick in a one time donation of 1% of your fantastic wealth and let’s see what we could buy the American republic and our beleaguered environment.   The total from our 540 billionaires each kicking in 1% of their wealth would be $239,000,000,000.  

Even just the interest on that amount, that 1% of the wealthiest 0.01%’s wealth, would be a significant number.   At a modest 5% interest rate the interest on that sum, at the end of one year, $11,950,000,000 would be added to the public purse. A tidy little sum, boys and girls.  What would happen if we actually ate into the principal $239B to solve our most pressing social problems? [1]

Of course, that would be some kind of fucking commie Troika of Tyranny shit right there, even asking, let alone expecting, the richest among us to voluntarily not also be the greediest and most heedless among us.  It’s not like they have any obligation whatsoever to fucking parasites like us, or even to the earth we all live on.  

These are clearly the kind of thoughts that come of having too much time on one’s hands…

 

[1]  For a future post, break down some of what that $239 B could buy, socially: ensure free, public education and health care for all children, homes for the homeless, medical care without financial anxieties, funding programs for job training, meaningful hopelessness prevention therapy, protecting the environment, creating joyful community events.  

related thought:

Enacting laws to protect the environment, it turns out, is only the first step, funds must also be allocated.  Even then, without enforcement no law is of any consequence.   What do you call a law on the books that the authorities don’t enforce?   I don’t know either.