No mercy for the OTHER

All that is necessary, to carry out any otherwise unthinkably cruel policy, is to make people believe that the people hurt by the policy are not like us, they are the OTHER, a completely different kind of being than us, totally guilty and deserving of what is being done to them.  

This is not news, of course.  It has been done countless times in history, in fact, any time an army is sent to kill its enemies, the best practice is to make the soldiers also hate their enemies’ families, children and pets.

That baby we’re taking out of her mother’s arms at the U.S. southern border?   An infant rapist, an illegal, genetic inferior who will grow up to bring illegal drugs in, to murder, to terrorize innocent Americans, someone who already, in their little baby heart, deeply hates our freedom.  A disgusting animal that breeds like a cockroach.  That baby is NOTHING LIKE US, nor are her parents or anyone she knows anything like us.   She is an illegal alien, not a tiny person like any other baby we know, nor is it anyone’s concern that she might be traumatized for life by a deliberately vicious policy calculated to terrify and deter her parents.

She gets what she fucking deserves!

Everybody who is whipped into a rage by the idea of an invasion of raping, drug smuggling cockroaches who are overrunning us can see that.

Only in this way, by dehumanizing desperate strangers as OTHER,  can you drop bombs on people who never did you any harm or posed the slightest threat.  You can say that such “collateral damage” [1], sadly, is the price for imposing freedom on these oppressed people and that if these savages can’t see that it’s worth a few of them dying so the rest can have American-style democracy, well, I rest my case.

Hitler did this in Germany when he stuck his toe into mass murder.  His first test of the public’s willingness to tolerate mass killing was ending lebensunwertes leben,[2] “lives unworthy of living.”   The first of these lives unworthy of living were children in mental hospitals, incurable “useless eaters”.  This is how you do it.  Start small, with the subhuman kids of subhumans. (Although the citizens of Nazi Germany eventually put an end to this hideous practice by their united disapproval of the program).  Never mind, by then the Leader was on to wiping out the real Enemies of the People, Jews, Communists, Gypsies, Homosexuals, critical journalists and so on.

If you do this dehumanizing loudly and persistently enough, you can drown out almost everything else.   A lynch mob is not worried about their own poverty, the hopeless situation of their own lives, not when they are gleefully torturing somebody to death and the enthusiastic crowd is cheering them on.   A little bit of that violence goes a long way to making them feel powerful, at least while they’re exacting vengeance on a hated OTHER, cheering it.

I mention this because this shabby technique is really all President Fuckface has.   Every move he makes is a variation on this basic theme of stirring hatred and playing to the worst impulses of his followers.   He vilifies, he attacks, he publicly praises an ass-kisser until that ass-kisser no longer puckers up, then the guy has “flipped” (there should be a law against that, POTUS opines) and become a “rat”.

A “rat” by the way is a former crime associate who gives truthful evidence against his lying criminal boss to avoid a long prison sentence for himself.

Rats are not like you and me, as every criminal boss, every bully, knows.  We are stand up guys who say nothing and do the prison time to protect our honor as stand up guys. Got that, knucklehead?

Bill Barr [3], for example, having passed his audition to get back into power by repeatedly and shamelessly puckering up for Mr. Trump [4], has got only one answer for the charge that he is a pathetic, traitorous sell-out:  I know you are but what am I? [5]  If he’s finally pressed enough, and retreats from that arrogant yet sycophantic posture, he will be, and you can see this coming: a fucking rat!   Like Mueller and the rest of those disloyal Commie bastards!

Also, the slanderous charge that Barr is an unprincipled Trump loyalist is belied by the fact below [6].

 

[1] The genius who coined this great euphemism for the sometimes accidental murder of innocent civilians was well-rewarded for this marvelously anodyne phrase I’m sure.   There’s an other I would kick hard  in the stomach, taking a momentary break from my pursuit of ahimsa, in an ideal world.

[2]  psychiatrist/historian Robert Jay Lifton:

Of the five identifiable steps by which the Nazis carried out the principle of “life unworthy of life,” coercive sterilization was the first. There followed the killing of “impaired” children in hospitals; and then the killing of “impaired” adults, mostly collected from mental hospitals, in centers especially equipped with carbon monoxide gas. This project was extended (in the same killing centers) to “impaired” inmates of concentration and extermination camps and, finally, to mass killings in the extermination camps themselves.[1]

[3] from FOX news:

The second of four sons, William Pelham Barr grew up on New York’s Upper West Side. His father became headmaster at Dalton, the elite New York prep school, where his college-educated mother taught English to foreign students. Barr’s values were ingrained early in life—conservative politics and Catholicism—and have never wavered. At Corpus Christi, his Roman Catholic elementary school, he supported Richard Nixon. (A nun took him aside and promised to pray for him.) Even in high school at Horace Mann, the most competitive nonsectarian (but largely Jewish) prep school in New York, Barr stood out. “He wanted to be respected as a conservative intellectual more than liked,” recalled Doug Schoen, the Democratic pollster and a fellow student there. “He made it known that he took his intellectual inspiration not from Allard Lowenstein, the Pied Piper of the anti-war movement, but William Buckley.” This predilection for early decisions applied to avocations as well. At age eight, Barr took up the bagpipes, and has since played competitively in Scotland and at family events.

When Barr headed the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel in 1989, he deemed legal the invasion of Panama and the arrest of longtime U.S. ally Manuel Noriega and argued that the Bush administration could arrest terrorists and drug traffickers overseas, even in violation of international law. As deputy attorney general in 1990, he advised that President Bush could legally wage war against Iraq, without Congress’s approval, though he encouraged Bush to seek a congressional resolution of support to strengthen his political position. Barr is therefore likely to support the issuing of presidential pardons to loyalists. Long a champion of tough-on-crime policies and of tighter immigration controls, he is also likely to embrace former attorney general Jeff Sessions’s agenda on both, perhaps even including the legality of separating parents from children at the U.S. southern border.

source

 

[4] See, for example:

 

[5]  Barr will always have partisan defenders, like this staunch believer in the virtually unlimited powers of the Unitary Executive (this bitch was a primary author of the secret Torture Memo).  Here is the lifelong fascistic asskisser’s approving view of Barr’s shameful performance as A.G. 

Nothing to see here!   I know you are, but what am I?

 

[6]  Lying Washington Post:

The White House official noted that Barr’s contribution to Trump was paltry compared with the $55,000 Barr gave to a political action committee that supported Jeb Bush, one of Trump’s rivals during the primaries.

Barr and his wife also gave $27,600 in 2008 to Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the House Judiciary Committee chairman who has led an investigation into the Justice Department’s handling of the Russia probe. Goodlatte issued a statement last week calling Barr “a great choice.” One of Barr’s daughters works as an aide for the Judiciary Committee.

Barr also donated more than $33,000 to Republicans in Congress, including Rep. Barbara Comstock in Virginia and Sen. Tom Cotton in Arkansas.

lying source

Nothing is Obscene– if this isn’t

If your lowest paid worker has to work for 68 years, or a total of 591,412 hours, to make what you earn in one hour, motherfucker, that is obscene.  

If you already have more money than you and your spawn could spend in 1,000 years, (even if you all wipe your asses with hundred dollar bills every day and light $100 cigars with burning $100 bills), and you defend your absolute right to have more than that, that is obscene.  

If you live in the richest country in the world, paying a lower tax rate than your secretary,  and that country has a rate of infant and maternal mortality as high as many “shithole” countries, that, motherfucker, is obscene.  

I could go on, but you get the point.  I am just one irrationally angry, judgmental, ill-born loser bastard venting into the cold wind of Cyberia.

Abigail Disney, (inheritor of around a half a billion from the Disney estate), is a brilliant and accomplished woman, a social activist and a respected documentary filmmaker.  Who knew?   I hadn’t heard of her until the other day, when she got some press for writing an op-ed in the Washington Post, following a series of tweets that apparently blew up social media.   It was a good op-ed, you can read it here.  [1]

She writes, in part:

I had to speak out about the naked indecency of chief executive Robert Iger’s pay. According to Equilar, Iger took home more than $65 million in 2018. That’s 1,424 times the median pay of a Disney worker. To put that gap in context, in 1978, the average CEO made about 30 times a typical worker’s salary. Since 1978, CEO pay has grown by 937 percent, while the pay of an average worker grew just 11.2 percent.

This growth in inequality has affected every corner of American life. We are increasingly a lopsided, barbell nation, where the middle class is shrinking, a very few, very affluent people own a great deal and the majority have relatively little. What is more, as their wealth has grown, the super-rich have invested heavily in politicians, policies and social messaging to pad their already grotesque advantages.

She excoriates Disney corporation (in her personal capacity as a human, only) for paying its CEO $65,000,000 last year while giving each of its regular employees a generous $1,000 bonus for the bounteously profitable year they all had over at Disney.

Once again, Ms. Disney points out that in 1978 average CEO pay was 30X the median income of the worker in the corporation.   That has since exploded, to something like 500X (you’ll have to read her op-ed for the exact number, I ain’t turning off ad blocker for Mr. Bezos or anyone else).  Again, the typical American CEO has seen their compensation increase by 937% since 1978, workers 11.2%.  Fair is fair.  

The CEO/worker income disparity is much less grotesque in Japan and most other places, Ms. Disney points out. America, land of the free and home of the insatiably greedy (and entitled to be as obscenely greedy as they wanna be).  

Abby Disney set off a shit storm when she stated, in a tweet she wrote prior to her op-ed, “there is nobody on Earth [who is] worth 500 times his median workers’ pay.”[24]    It’s hard to disagree with that statement.

Although, one realizes after looking around just a bit, that 500 times is, by current American standards, a modest differential.   The CEO of Disney that Abby Disney complains of made almost three times 500 times more.

Of course, there’s also the absurd touch of Abby Disney’s crie de coeur of an op-ed being published in a prestigious newspaper owned by a man who makes more than 500,000 times what his lowest paid workers do.

I have been shocked at the lack of shock with which the hideous tidbit about Bezos making $191,000 a minute while paying workers $15 an hour has been greeted by everyone I know.   They yawn, resigned, horrified that I am once again bringing it up.  Yeah, it sucks, they eventually agree (to get me talking about something else) but what can you do?  

“But he makes 591,412 times what his lowest paid worker makes,” I say.  They nod, yes, it’s fucking terrible, awful, where do you want to go for dinner Saturday?

Personally, I haven’t been able to get over the computations made by those rabid communist America-haters over at Business Insider about the income of Amazon genius (and Washington Post owner) Jeff Bezos. Jeff’s  income, broken down by the hour, comes to a shade under $9,000,000 — $8,961,187 an hour.   That comes out to $191,000 per minute for a man who does not allow his workers to unionize but voluntarily pays them the proposed federal minimum wage of $15 an hour.  It is more than half a million times what his warehouse worker makes, 597,412 times.   [2]

My friends, my enemies, if this situation is not obscene, the endless, bottomless greed that is currently raping the earth itself to death, and the moralistic defenders of the smug entitlement of these obscenely greedy, tax-dodging “job creating” parasites, what is obscene?

If the right to have 100,000 times more than you need, with no obligations to the society that made you so rich, (while neighbors are hungry and widespread despair drives an ever increasing number of American suicides,) is not an obscene thing to insist on, what is obscene?

Can you tell me that?  Thanks, and have a nice day!

[1] I can’t presently read it myself, to quote from it directly, as I’d intended, because it is blocked by this message from the good bots at Jeff Bezos’s Washington Post who point out that it is unfair of me to freeload by both not paying for my twice a month visits to their site and also, selfishly blocking ads that are the very lifeblood of any profitable business.  

Screen shot 2019-04-26 at 1.59.46 PM.png

The impulse to monetize EVERYTHING is the strongest impulse in our current unipolar, unapologetically capitalist world, apparently.   The Age of Surveillance Capitalism (read Shoshana Zuboff’s amazing book) we are living in is a new, ruthless, superficially benign, regime of a kind of all-encompassing inhuman commercial fascism.   Hold on to your fucking hats, kids.

[2]  This average salary is an interesting question.   If you take the average of Jeff’s $8,961,187 hourly wage and an average line worker’s $15 an hour, the two workers average $4,480,601 hourly compensation.  Nice money if you can get it.

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Lest we forget

In this age of 24/7 distraction things fly by so quickly that we barely have time to consider one before the next wet turd comes whizzing by.   Our current POTUS, who won election with a historic, never before seen landslide of almost 100,000 votes, is the master of this ADHD-inducing tactic, launching a constant stream of odiferous torpedoes that leave everyone too dizzy to analyze any single torpedo.

Lest we forget, prior to the 2016 midterms the failing NY Times published a huge, highly detailed story about the corrupt practices Fred Christ Trump, the president’s ethically challenged father, used to avoid paying taxes as he made his children multimillionaires.  The lede of that October 2, 2018 (the day Jared Kushner’s friend, fellow prince MBS, was having a journalist murdered and dismembered) story was:

The president has long sold himself as a self-made billionaire, but a Times investigation found that he received at least $413 million in today’s dollars from his father’s real estate empire, much of it through tax dodges in the 1990s.

It went on, for many pages, like this:

President Trump participated in dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud, that greatly increased the fortune he received from his parents, an investigation by The New York Times has found.

Mr. Trump won the presidency proclaiming himself a self-made billionaire, and he has long insisted that his father, the legendary New York City builder Fred C. Trump, provided almost no financial help.

But The Times’s investigation, based on a vast trove of confidential tax returns and financial records, reveals that Mr. Trump received the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father’s real estate empire, starting when he was a toddler and continuing to this day.

Much of this money came to Mr. Trump because he helped his parents dodge taxes. He and his siblings set up a sham corporation to disguise millions of dollars in gifts from their parents, records and interviews show. Records indicate that Mr. Trump helped his father take improper tax deductions worth millions more. He also helped formulate a strategy to undervalue his parents’ real estate holdings by hundreds of millions of dollars on tax returns, sharply reducing the tax bill when those properties were transferred to him and his siblings.

These maneuvers met with little resistance from the Internal Revenue Service, The Times found. The president’s parents, Fred and Mary Trump, transferred well over $1 billion in wealth to their children, which could have produced a tax bill of at least $550 million under the 55 percent tax rate then imposed on gifts and inheritances.

The Trumps paid a total of $52.2 million, or about 5 percent, tax records show.

A lesser man would have been put on the defensive by the exhaustively researched and very damning expose.    Trump had his lawyer [1]  threaten the Times.  The Grey Lady quoted the essence of his threats in the article:

20181029_184055 (2).jpg

If Trump’s direct participation in this long pattern of fraud, tax evasion and other crimes is debatable (at least when he was an eight year-old millionaire), he was certainly the primary beneficiary of his father’s generosity and criminality.   What is not in debate is that Mr. Harder never sued the Times.  I love the way the Times casually dropped his threat in the middle of its expose, without comment, hilarious. 

It is worth not forgetting that Trump is the lifelong beneficiary of fraud and tax evasion, among the self-made financial genius’s other endearing traits.  Still, defamation is defamation and the truth of the matters alleged, a separate question.  The facts of the recent blockbuster lawsuit Trump v. The Lyin’ NY Times speak for themselves.  As every American school child knows, Mr. Trump won over fifty billion dollars from the now shuttered NY Times for its defamatory article.

Another detail that should not be lost, in the clouds of gas that pour out of POTUS’s twitter feed many times a day, is that current A.G. William Barr [2] auditioned for his job as Trump’s loyal consigliere by writing Trump an unsolicited NINETEEN PAGE LEGAL MEMO, putting his lawyerly skills on display in the service of explaining to the embattled president that he would protect him no matter what.  

Trump’s first attorney general, who had lied about conversations with the Russians and then properly recused himself from supervising Robert Mueller’s investigation, had long been mocked and humiliated by the president as disloyal, stupid and no Roy Cohn (that last is actually a compliment).  Every American school child could see that the loyal Sessions was skittering on very thin ice.  Up stepped the esteemed Mr. Barr, promising to do what the weak Jeff Sessions could not do, protect the president from Barr’s close friend Robert Mueller no matter what. 

So far Barr is doing exactly that.  Stonewalling.   Nothing to see here.   The careful, thorough, incorruptible Robert Mueller punted, as they say.   According to the non-summary of the report by his new boss, William Barr, Mueller presented evidence that POTUS obstructed justice, along with arguments that he did not actually obstruct justice.   Therefore, you dig, it’s a wash, tie-breaker going to Mueller’s boss, Barr.  Nothing to see here, says Barr, cagey as a man who endorsed preemptive pardons for untruthful, law-flouting superiors in the past [3].  

No reason for anyone to read all the sickening details laid out in Mueller’s report, according to Barr, the main thing is that Mueller found no evidence of direct collusion with Russia (no criminal conspiracy)  and took no position on indicting the sitting president for obstruction of justice.  Another main thing: he did not subpoena the compulsively lying chief executive to testify under oath.  As anyone who has ever heard the president speak understands, that would have been a perjury trap!

It is worth pausing from time to time to look at things like this with some care.  The devil, as always, is fucking his way through the mischievous details.

 

[1]  from that NY Times article:

The president declined repeated requests over several weeks to comment for this article. But a lawyer for Mr. Trump, Charles J. Harder, provided a written statement on Monday, one day after The Times sent a detailed description of its findings. “The New York Times’s allegations of fraud and tax evasion are 100 percent false, and highly defamatory,” Mr. Harder said. “There was no fraud or tax evasion by anyone. The facts upon which The Times bases its false allegations are extremely inaccurate.”

[2] Communist mouthpiece Business Insider published a recent capsule bio of Mr. Barr.  You can read it here.   A  couple of teasers:  

Additionally, Barr supported one of Trump’s most criticized moves as president — the firing of FBI Director James Comey. Barr wrote an op-ed in 2017 stating Trump “made the right call.” Trump has faced accusations of obstruction of justice over Comey’s ousting.

In a separate op-ed, Barr expressed approval of Trump’s firing of Acting Attorney General Sally Yates after she refused to enforce the president’s travel ban that targeted predominantly Muslim countries.

Barr has also been critical of Mueller’s team of prosecutors, questioning their political leanings. “I would have liked to see him have more balance on this group,” Barr said on the subject last year.

[3]  When President George H.W. Bush lost his reelection bid, Iran-Contra principal Cap Weinberger was about to finally stand trial for his long ago misdeeds, including obstruction of justice.  Although Reagan’s Secretary of Defense was innocent until proven guilty, pretrial discovery would have allowed prosecutors to see his detailed meeting notes.   These notes contained references to Bush being present at meetings he denied knowledge of.   The elder Bush would have been put on the spot had Weinberger gone to trial.  

Barr took care of the problem for the man who appointed him Attorney General by recommending and endorsing six pardons days before the end of Bush’s tenure in the Oval Office.  Weinberger was pardoned.  There was no Weinberger trial, no revelation of Bush senior’s repeated lies about what he did or didn’t know about the secret sale of arms to Iran and using the proceeds to illegally fund right wing Central American death squads. Nothing to see here!

Wikipedia summarizes the nothing burger thusly:

Iran–Contra affair[edit]

The Iran–Contra affair concerned the selling of US missiles to Iran. The funds received from Iran were then channeled to guerilla rebels known as Contras, who were fighting the socialist government of Nicaragua.[22]Such funding had been specifically denied by the US Congress.

Though he claimed to have been opposed to the sale on principle, actually Weinberger participated in the transfer of United States Hawk and TOW missiles to Iran at that time.

This resulted in a large scandal with several investigations which resulted in fourteen Reagan administration officials being indicted, including Caspar Weinberger who resigned before trial.[23][24][25]

Following his resignation as Secretary of Defense, legal proceedings against him were continued byIndependent Counsel Lawrence E. Walsh. A federal grand jury then indicted Weinberger on two counts of perjury and one count of Obstruction of Justice on June 16, 1992.[26] He was defended by defense attorneyCarl Rauh.

Prosecutors brought an additional indictment just four days before the 1992 presidential election. This was controversial because it cited a Weinberger diary entry contradicting a claim made by President George H. W. Bush. Republicans claimed that this action contributed to President Bush’s later defeat. On December 11, 1992, Judge Thomas F. Hogan threw out this indictment because it violated the five-year statute of limitations and improperly broadened the original charges.[27]

Before Weinberger could be tried on the original charges, he received a pardon on December 24, 1992, from then President Bush, who had been Reagan’s Vice President during the scandal.[24][28]

I add:  Barr had been in office less than a month when he helped Mr. Bush out of a terribly embarrassing situation.   Imagine the damage to Mr. Bush’s image had it been revealed that the former head spook had been lying for years about his involvement in the secret, illegal dealings? 

Extra-democratic Means

If you are born to great privilege you will often find your own interests different than, say, the smelly bum on the subway.   In some cases that malodorous layabout can walk into a voting booth (provided he has an address and is registered) and cast his vote for a candidate who may hate your freedom.   You can bet the vote such a person casts will go against the liberty interests you cherish — the liberty to be left alone by the government, except in case of fire, crime, sewage, roads, airports, etc.

In the same way America learned that a judicial process (or even a criminal charge) is not always necessary or desirable before executing a fiercely dissenting American citizen, wealthy Libertarians learned that electoral politics is not the best way to accomplish their goal of keeping all of their money.    Extrajudicial killings by the American government, once super controversial, are now routine.   Extra-democratic means, while taboo in theory, have always been used to protect the privileges of our most privileged persons and their eternal avatars.  Extra-democratic means (for passing unpopular laws) are now the preferred method of the ruling oligarchs here and abroad.  

In the case of America’s wealthiest, we call them philanthropists and job creators, not oligarchs. Sure they wield disproportionate political power, exert massive, decisive influence on the policies that affect us all (particularly the most vulnerable among us), but that doesn’t make them oligarchs.  We reserve the epithet “oligarch” for Russian and Chinese billionaires, or the occasional Ukrainian or Uzbek, who acquired their wealth through suspicious and probably illegal deals with their corrupt, anti-democratic governments.

Which brings us to President Fuckface.  Born booted and spurred, entitled to ride the rest of us like the beasts of burden we are, he has never known a desire he needed to resist.   His fortune is largely the result of decades of his wealthy father’s fraud, tax cheating and abusing government generosity, as documented by the NY Times, who published the detailed account in the face of toothless threats from Trump’s lawyer.   He is the personification of the kind of wanton privilege that has long championed extra-democratic rule by the truly deserving elite.  His cabinet, same powerfully smelling ilk.  His mandate: fuck you, wasshole.    

Mr. Trump always lawyers up, as any good scofflaw with the money does.   He hired for the Justice Department the people most supportive of his right to do whatever he likes.  He vigorously attacked and resisted the DOJ investigation into his ass-kissing of Vladimir Putin, publicly denied his many public attempts to obstruct the investigation and was shielded from the “perjury trap” the cunning yet uncontrolled man would have walked into had he taken an oath not to lie to the Mueller team.  It is universally recognized that he has absolutely no control over his lying. His candid remark to a television interviewer that he tries to tell the truth whenever he can instantly went the way of his dozens of often imbecilic daily tweets.

The famous vanity of the vainglorious self-promoter allows calculating people to openly audition for government positions.  Boof Kavanaugh had written a law review article laying out why what any dodgy president might fear need not be feared.   Somebody described the article to Trump and the president was very interested in a Supreme Court justice who believes the president is essentially a king.  Kavanaugh was his man, went to the top of the list of 25 carefully vetted right-wing zealots selected by the Koch-funded Federalist Society.  William Barr sent Trump an unsolicited letter opining that Trump’s excrement has a delectable odor.  Barr became Trump’s obvious choice for head of the Justice Department, to succeed  a loyal but disappointing supporter too racist to be appointed to the federal bench.   Imagine how racist that is!

The thing to remember is that although these liberty loving, government hating privileged few have a vastly louder voice than you or me in our democracy, easy access to their elected officials, direct ways to influence legislation, etc., that we still have elections and the results, though they might sometimes be in question, are binding.   Trump won the slaveholder’s Electoral College by less than 80,000 votes while losing the popular vote “bigly” (he has the best words).  There was no revolution or even any outbreak of violence when the raging asshole was sworn in, in spite of the horror felt by perhaps 200 million Americans who didn’t vote for him.  

Elections still matter to us, whatever extra-electoral shenanigans are always going on behind closed doors in the halls of power.   We need to continue organizing, being smart, protesting this administration’s worst excesses, and raising important issues (like slowing catastrophic climate change and protecting safety regulations).  We have to keep the pressure on the lawless, lying, compulsively doubling down, prone-to-bankruptcy demagogue.

Most importantly, we need to vote out the world’s most conceited exhibitionist wanker in 2020.  In the meantime, there’s a strong, multi-pronged case for impeaching him, too.

The Privileged Hate Democracy

If you have every advantage in a rigged game you will naturally hate any proposed changes to the rules to make the game more fair.   The hateful anti-majoritarian Koch belief system that is now in full force in our government has advanced largely by stealth.   If the majority of Americans understood the real goals of their many think tanks and other public influence machines, the extent of their dark money funding of extreme right partisan candidates and “grassroots” groups like the “Tea Party”, they’d be horrified.  Sunlight may be the best disinfectant, but these motherfuckers hate it.  As for a fair fight in the court of public opinion– fuck that!   We’re winners, not losers like the rest of you assholes!

So, while it’s sickening, it’s not surprising that the party of Trump, of Fred Koch’s restless ghost, of his vampire heirs Charles and David, of the racists and xenophobes, and the rest of the hateful creatures we thought might have left the stage, cast not a single vote to make our electoral democracy less of a rigged game favoring the rich and powerful.  Money is speech, yo.  If you have a thousand bucks, that’s how loud you speak.  If you have a billion, yo, you speak louder.  Fair is fair.  One man, as many votes as he can buy.

Here’s the pertinent blurb, from today’s Democracy Now broadcast:

The House passed the For the People Act on Friday, a wide-ranging bill that seeks to expand voting rights and curb gerrymandering, reduce big money in political campaigns and strengthen ethics requirements for political candidates. One of the bill’s provisions would make voter registration automatic. This is Democratic Congressmember John Lewis speaking on the House floor Friday.

Rep. John Lewis: “If not us, then who? If not now, then when? The time has arrived to tear down the barrier to the ballot box. Today we are able to do our part in this long fight for the very soul of our nation.”

Not a single Republican voted in favor of the bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already said he will not bring the bill to a vote.

(source)

And Mitch, we all know, is an honorable man.

Fair is Fair

This bears repeating.

America’s greatest genius, the man who figured out that America loves to shop and loves convenience, and designed and built the vast empire that makes this American dream come true, makes almost $9,000,000,000 AN HOUR.

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)

Working more than half a million hours to make what your boss makes in one HOUR?   Fair is fair, we live in the land of unlimited freedom, but… something about the grotesqueness of  this disparity seems… I don’t know…

Accumulating a billion non-hereditary dollars means the person is a very successful genius, smarter and harder working than the average bear.  Here we call such persons philanthropists, when they choose to give some of their money back in the form of charity.   We often call the billionaires in other countries by less flattering names, like oligarch and kleptocrat.   In America there is no connection between any sinister motive, or simple greed, and the accumulation of a few billion dollars.   That’s why we are the land of the free, baby.

But 597,412 hours to make what your visionary boss makes in ONE HOUR?   I don’t know, something seems rotten about that arrangement.  Doesn’t smell fair, somehow, though I can’t quite put my finger on it.

White People’s Problems, Whining Complaint Dept.

The shorthand of this title, which I already regret, typically renders a more complicated universal problem black and white, in that moronic (to the death) way that racist formulations always do.   This problem I am referring to is a consumer problem, affecting any customer who needs service from virtually any company, though in this particular case it only affects consumers with enough money, and options in life, to be messed with by it.  It applies to a large class of privileged consumers believed, rightly or wrongly in our racist nation, to be disproportionately white (which most likely they are).  

It is part of our generally downward plunging expectations for anything flowing down to us from our masters, the corporate psychopaths and their human avatars, by way of “service”.    The corporations are not in business to serve anyone but the shareholders, who regard the rest of us as ungrateful, eternally taking serf motherfuckers, useless for anything but generating revenues.  In their defense, corporations do care enough to create lovely ads telling you how much they care, and their recorded announcements are also eternally upbeat and grateful for our business, and our patience.

Admittedly, I am an almost broken man.   Friends have been urging me to take a restful mental health break from my unpaid toils here, leave New York City for a week or two, breathe some fresh air, hike in new hills, play music with strangers far away, walk the streets of a city I don’t know by heart, refresh and reset. It is good advice.   I had an invitation to visit friends on the other side of the country, by the Pacific.   I finally took them up on their offer.  All I needed to do was book a flight.  

Not as easy as it used to be, unless you’re prepared to pay at least twice the “economy” fare, of course, for a particular seat.   If you have arthritis in both knees, for example, and need to get up and move around frequently to avoid pain, you might want to be sure you have an easy access seat.  

The situation I’m describing is a purely middle class, middle-aged problem — a wealthy person will not be affected by it, nor will a healthy young person, a poor person can’t even consider it.   You need to have the free time to travel, some extra cash, the need for an airplane to take you three thousand miles and the need not to spend all your vacation dollars on air fare.   These are not things the average American needs to worry about.   They will only afflict you if you qualify for a vacation in the first place, have some extra money and you are a squirmy baby with a so-called medical need to stretch your legs when you need to during a long flight.

I have been on a short hold with the airline now, after twenty minutes on their website yielded no answer to my yes/no question– is my aisle seat guaranteed?   I have ten hours left to cancel the tickets if that’s not the case.  

The hold was predicted to be about eight minutes but is already twice that (thankfully without ads or muzak) waiting to cancel flight plans I made last night.  I assumed that the cancellation line would be shorter than the other lines, wrongly, it turns out.  I will have plenty of time to edit this piece, once it’s done, before my simple yes/no question is resolved by a simple yes or no.    The answer is nowhere on their snazzy website, where you are instantly afforded the chance to evaluate their services in a survey.

I think about the arthritis in both of my knees, my need to move them frequently to avoid pain.   The flight west is about six hours, strapped into a seat.   I was looking for an aisle seat.   A seat on the aisle is now, apparently, a premium seat, even in “economy”, the rearmost section of the airplane.   Airlines no longer guarantee that the seat you buy in economy class, which used to be called “coach”, one of two former “classes” on a plane, will be the seat you reserved when you bought your ticket.  You buy a cheap seat at your own risk, asshole.   Guaranteed sufficient legroom must now be purchased also, loser.

I ring off after 36 minutes on silent hold and again check my other customer service options.   I send the following email (not all that easy to find the option for email, I assure you).

I need to know that the additional $300 (tickets more than twice the price of “economy”) I spent last night on airfare ensures me an aisle seat. I could not confirm this on your website and it has proved impossible to reach a representative on the phone in well over an hour of trying. If my seat is not guaranteed, I have a few more hours to cancel my reservation. Please advise.

To which a robot promptly replies:

Thank you for your questions and comments. As a valued customer, your input is most appreciated and we will make every effort to ensure a quick response.

Note, I would not have spent the extra $300 for this “peace of mind”, I probably would have cancelled my trip.  Thankfully my mate, a wage-earning shopping machine, has racked up a large store of credit card points over the years she was generously willing to spend a portion of on this ticket.

Back to the answer to my simple yes or no question.   Delta airlines, on the case!    This arrived just a few minutes later:

Dear Eliot,

RE: Case Number 29940314

This is an automatically generated message to acknowledge the receipt of your email.  Please do not reply to this email.

Thank you for taking the time to write to us; what you have to say is important.  Emails and letters are answered in the order they are received. Usually you’ll hear from us long before 30 days have passed.  Sometimes though, it can take almost that long.  We appreciate your patience.

If you need assistance with a current reservation, please contact Reservations directly at 1-800-221-1212 or visit delta.com for our international reservations offices.  They will be happy to assist you.

Thank you!

Got to love the human emotion behind that exclamation point on the Thank you!

Nazi bastards.

As my father always said of me, whenever I belly ached about anything:  “you’d complain if you were hung with a new rope.”

This is customer service in 2019.  If you don’t like it, send us an email, we will try our best to reply within 30 days.  Don’t hold us to that, you cheeky rascal, it’s not a promise, only a promise to try to promise, a precatory promise, if you will.

Maybe I’m just extra touchy today because I never received the corrected blood pressure medication I requested ten days back, after hours and hours resolving that potential health fiasco.   The drug the kindly psychos sent me was four times the strength of my prescription.  Thankfully the snafu got resolved in only five business days!   Still haven’t received the meds, though I got the other prescription I ordered a few days later, a Vitamin D super-pill, in my mailbox within four or five days.   Oh well.  I know those hardworking Nazi bastards are working harder to serve me better!

Bill Maher did a piece a few weeks ago about the death of a thousand cuts that it is the nickel and diming of the airline industry.  This stands in for the ever-diminishing piss pot of what the masses of Americans are entitled to, by the reckoning of the corporations we do business with.  Maher conceded that he has flown only first class since becoming a rich, successful comedian many years ago.   Still, he did an excellent piece about how customer comfort and convenience has been whittled down, piece by chintzy piece, by the ever grasping, ever more ingenious, airline industry.   Their independent subcontractors are undoubtedly working on a way to monetize the amount of oxygen you get on the plane.   Those corporate airline persons are truly the psychopath’s psychopaths, though the healthcare industry is not far behind in its concern for the safety, comfort and convenience of its customers.

Just to be safe, I’m going to bring food for the flight crew and the captain, just in case the airline no longer provides them with a meal, or even a snack, on the long flight.   I figure it’s the least I should be expected to do, and I wouldn’t want any of them to be cranky or off their game.   It’s going to be a long flight.