Saturday, October 21, 2017

Taking a Knee vs Sieg Heil!

When Colin Kapernick took a knee at the playing of the national anthem at an NFL football game, he probably did not know that he was entering a Twilight Zone of principled resistance which dated back to early anti Nazi protests in American past.

There were two Supreme Court cases which addressed the symbolic actions of citizens to protest a prevailing rule seeking to enforce patriotism on the citizens of this nation.

The first case was the 1943 case West Virginia State Board of Education v Barnette, in which children were expelled from public school for refusing to pledge allegiance to the flag. These children were Jevovah's witnesses and they had been taught such a pledge spoken, or rather recited, before a flag was tantamount to violating the Biblical proscription from God against worshiping graven images.  Their father supported them right up to the Supreme Court.  

Justice Robert Jackson, who later served as the American lead prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials wrote a stinging opinion, reversing early decisions and rejecting Felix Frankfuter's dissent. Nobody in this country should be made to speak. The first amendment ensures not just the freedom to speak; it preserves the freedom to remain silent. 
"If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us."
Justice Robert Jackson
Remember 1943: America was in the midst of fighting a war against Nazi Germany, and for many across the land the practice which had been widely introduced of instructing school children to recite the pledge--and in those days, they not only recited the pledge but they stretched out one arm toward the flag--looked way too much like the Nazi practice of Seig Heil!  
American children: Seig Heil!

There followed a case in 1971, when the state of New Hampshire, in the midst of the way in Vietnam, decided to change it's state license plates to replace "Scenic New Hampshire" with "Live Free or Die," which prompted another Jehovah's witness to tape over the "Or Die" objecting this violated his religion. Others taped over the whole sentence, saying it was a subterfuge to force New Hampshire citizens to support the War, which supposedly, and arguably was being fought for "freedom."

Group think, the forced conformity of behavior and angry reactions to symbolic protests against symbolic conformity have been with us throughout our lifetimes. 
The American Olympic champions who raised their fist as Black Americans and bowed their heads as the American flag was raised and the anthem played were thrown out of the 1968 Olympics because in the face of the ultimate in jingoistic expression of "patriotism" their mute gesture spoke of their dismay at the way Blacks were treated in America, where they were still being lynched, denied mortgage loans by federal government agencies, beaten by police and drafted to fight in Vietnam, when, as Mohammad Ali said, they had no argument with them Viet Cong. We are all oppressed by the white man.

So now it's Trump and the white supremacists and the super patriots who think patriotism is a gesture, but President Heel Spurs, the commander in chief, does not think patriotism includes the willingness to resist injustice.

Oh, Donald We Hardly Knew Ye

Buried in her article on Mike Pence are snippets about Donald Trump which Mad Dog, for one, found intriguing.

Who knew, for instance, that when Pence interviewed for the VP job, Trump asked him about the outgoing governor of Indiana whose wife had an affair with another man but then reconciled and the governor took her back. Trump told Pence he could not understand how a man could ever sleep with a woman who he knew had slept with another man when they were married. 

Of all the things you might think to ask your next VP about, Trump brought up something that had to do with sex, possessiveness, the concept of the stained woman?

Trump reportedly liked Pence because to Trump, Pence had the good looks, "right out of central casting" to look like a President.

Again, what is on the surface is what Trump talks about.

And then, surprisingly, at least to Mad Dog, Trump needles Pence about Pence's antipathy toward homosexuals. Trump, apparently, has nothing much against homosexuals. Somehow, doesn't fit the profile, the Klu Klux Klan, mega macho, Incredible Hulk, super male thing.

The other thing Trump derides Pence about, behind his back is his religiosity. He asks people who visit Pence whether Mike asked them to pray with him.

You just know, "Praying Pence" is going to slip out of Trump's mouth some day.

But, as W.C. Fields once said, you can't speak too poorly of a man if he hates dogs and children, and in Trump's case, how bad could the guy be, if he derides religion and homophobia?

And, oh by the way, has it ever occurred to you how much the Donald resembles the pink puffer fish? Really, he is pink and whenever he wants to impress, he puffs himself up, and at core, he is very toxic and not good eating.

Really, why is he not "President Pink Puffer?"

Friday, October 20, 2017

Cut Taxes! Simplify!

George W. Bush famously responded to a question during a Presidential debate which asked about his plan to cut taxes: "Your plan would cut taxes most for the rich."
"Yes," he shrugged. "You cut taxes for the people who pay taxes."

What he was saying, of course, was people at the lower brackets paid relatively small numbers, so the relief they would get from cutting income taxes was small.

Of course, low wage earners pay other taxes, not income taxes, which hurt their pocketbooks more--gas taxes, payroll taxes, sales taxes, real estate taxes--but those taxes are not nearly as obnoxious for some reason, as the income tax.

Rich people avoid income taxes with a variety of ploys, and as Warren Buffet said, he pays a lesser rate than his secretary--got to be something wrong with that.

But the fact remains, if the upper 10% own 83% of the nation's wealth, they or their properties are the only source of revenue and they've got to pay taxes.
In taxation as in robbing banks, you have to go where the money is. And one look at that pie graph (above) shows where the money is.

Build The Wall!

Of course, I assumed, Mr. Trump was smart enough to know that building an actual wall was absurd, that once elected, he would say he was not to be taken literally, but he was to be taken seriously; he was serious about using technology like drones and cameras to watch the Mexican border.

But, no, apparently, he wants to see something like the Berlin wall, with watchtowers and Stassi border guards with machine guns.

Say what?

Thursday, October 19, 2017

We Are Not Alone

You can watch Fox News and you can listen to Rush Limbaugh and you can read about Mike Pence and his law to bury fetuses, and you can begin to feel that you are the only sane person in these United States.

You can think of what leadership once looked like, when you were a kid.

And how it looks now.

But then you come to realize, there are people out there who are thinking the way you think, and somehow, that's a comfort.

We are not alone, entirely.

And this too, shall pass.

Assuming the Dotard does not push the button or goad Kim il Haircut into pushing his button.

The Company He Keeps

For most of us, President Dotard will never intrude on our lives, other than by Tweet or television.
Pia Guerra

But for those whose papers are not in order, he has created a dark state where the knock on the door at midnight is redolent of those tales of the Gestapo coming to take away whole families.

He may be a dithering dotard, and be unaware of the harm he has unleashed, but that does not mean the harm is any less pernicious.

Reading in the New Yorker about a huge city size housing project in Moscow where the forerunner of the KGB goons would arrive at night to seize families and haul them off to the Gulag or to execution, I thought of those people who were brought here by their parents at age 3 and now live with the idea of the knock at the door.

They come at night. The Ku Klux Klan came around at night. That's when people are likely to be home. Makes sense.

What does not make sense is why they are coming round at all.

The Dotard's voters want to return America to the days when White Anglo Saxon Protestants ruled.  They don't care if they are a minority in the United States, just as long as they, like the plantation owners of Mississippi can keep control of the masses whose lives they rule.  Minority status is no problem, as long as you have the power.

Board Rooms and Coal Miners

The Wyoming Star Tribune reports some surprising fun facts:
Kevin Crutchfiled, CEO alpha: Getting His

1. Coal miners make about $82,000 a year, on average. Not bad for guys who didn't finish high school.
2. When the executives and Board of Directors of Alpha Natural Resources saw net losses or no profits every year from 2011 through 2016, their response was to file for bankruptcy, to petition the court to allow them to cut paying health insurance benefits for their miners while paying themselves multi million dollar bonuses. The price of failure was paid not by the millionaire executives, who were sure to take care of themselves, but by the working stiffs in the coal mines.
From the Casper Star tribune:
But based on the average annual coal miner’s wage of $82,000, the layoffs would save the pair around $37 million in annual wages, or 84 percent of the $44 million Peabody and Arch paid their executives teams in 2014.
Alpha is seeking to cut retiree benefits for some 4,580 nonunion miners and their spouses. That move is expected to save $3 million annually, or about 14 percent of the $20.8 million Alpha paid its management in 2014.

When Bernie Sanders talks about a rigged system, the coal miners don't need an explanation of what that means. What a rigged system means is the board of directors can, legally, rape their own companies, drain away cash from the companies' accounts and into their own personal bank accounts while reneging on the promises they made to their employees, for health insurance and pensions. Oh, your security for health and retirement is gone? Never mind, we are doing just fine in the executive suite.

So when Donald Dotard talks about those swarthy Mexican illegals stealing across the border to rape white women, he is talking about small time rapists. The rare Mexican rapist is small time compared the CEO's who rape thousands of employees as they hollow out their own companies--all perfectly legally.