Too Aloof

While we wait for the next mass shooting, and, I hear one was averted by a traffic stop in Indiana, I wonder what form of tragedy is it going to take before some people’s humanity is finally awakened.

We learned about the RWNJ headed to Washington with an AR15 and a hit list during the testimony of Dr. Fauci before Congress this week. Rand Paul, one of the two Senators from Kentucky that could effectively be replaced by door wedges, took an aggressive stance with his opportunity to question Dr. Fauci during the hearing on the pandemic. Instead of using his time to glean insights into Dr. Fauci’s specific knowledge of the facts, Paul chose to expound on some of his favorite conspiracy theories. Thankfully Dr. Fauci shut Paul down with the revelation that Paul was using “Fire Fauci” as a fund raiser on his Facebook page.

History bears out that there’s never a time so dire, a national emergency so acute that some people won’t bend the facts to their advantage. Dr. Fauci summed up this exchange with another Repug lawmaker so well that I can’t really improve on it. “What a moron” is a phrase that could be used universally against the current crop of Republicans.

How on earth did we get here? How did the country turn its back on the universal truth, “we just want our politicians to be smarter than we are”? Democrats at all levels are calling on their counterparts in the Republican party to act with courage and defy the RWNJ elements of their party. Seriously, which one of the 5 G’s is smarter than the guy that changes your oil?

Of course the Repugs won’t change their ways. Courage is the first thing removed from a Republican candidate, along with the will to serve the public. Meanwhile, the press has to blame someone for our fall from grace in standing with the rest of the world, so they ask the question, “Is President Biden too aloof?”

Too aloof, well I guess so. I know I prefer a leader that runs through the woods like his hair is on fire every time somebody pushes the hot topic button./s I guess in that regard the press will love having the Donald president again, until he bans the free press once and for all.

Speaking of another term in office for the great lurker, how is it that the sentient members of the Republican party, and I do think there are a few of them left, haven’t just decided to bathe in Clorox and get the stench of the Donald off of them forever? Some of them are safe in their districts no matter how much the misinformation machine attacks. It makes me wonder if physical threats aren’t thrown in with the Donald’s fealty oath. One speculates if the old veiled threat “nice family you’ve got there, it would be a shame if anything happened to them” is getting a lot of work these days.

Speaking of threats, and aloofness, I’m more than amused by President Biden’s welcome in Atlanta this week. Some black groups chose to not represent because they felt that Biden has been “aloof” to their needs. The threat by some black leaders to not keep strong with the Democratic party is madness in my opinion. I’m not sure how much sympathy blacks will get from the descendants of the “Back to Africa” movement. The old adage, “you got to dance with the one that brung you.” comes to mind. It might have been a Republican president that freed the blacks, but this is not the same Republican party.

While I totally agree that the future of America as a democratic country is truly on the line, it’s not like the President isn’t dealing with an existential problem 24/7. As near and dear to my heart as voting rights are, I can see where voting rights might not have been front burner for the President in his first year. 839,000 Americans have died due to Covid and the hospitals are bursting at the seams again with the sick and dying.

So, aloof, I don’t think so. Busier than a one-armed paper hanger is more like it.


A Slow Bern

I find that the older I get, the less likely I am to venture into “new things”. I’ve also noticed that I become more frustrated and irritated when my ventures don’t turn out as planned. That’s one of the many reasons I wonder how in the world Bernie Sanders and his followers ever thought he was going to make it into the White House. People criticize President Biden for being “polarizing” and he’s about as an accommodating human being that ever walked the planet. Bernie Sanders is not shy about delivering his opinion to one and all.

Don’t get me wrong, I love everything the senator from Vermont is saying. He is “speaking truth to power”, as they say, and I love him for doing it. I just see that he’s never really had a snowball’s chance in Hell of pulling off a win in a presidential election. Even with the youth demographic behind him, he would never be able to pull enough progressive voters together to offset the “he’s a socialist, he’s a socialist” crowd. It’s sad that the label defines the man, but there it is.

I see Bernie not as a power broker but more of a conscience for the party. Perhaps it’s quotes like this that rope the young people into Bernie’s corral: “What being a socialist means is… that you hold out… a vision of society where poverty is absolutely unnecessary, where international relations are not based on greed… but on cooperation… where human beings can own the means of production and work together rather than having to work as semi-slaves to other people who can hire and fire.”

I particularly love the fact that the young people are so energized by him, and that they turn out in droves to support him. Someone needs to energize the youth of our country and the fact that an 80 year old is doing it is totally cool with me. I just hope that Bernie’s Brigade is not a part of some bizarro hipster movement that will turn it’s attention elsewhere when they get bored with the old guy. I hope they continue to “Feel the Bern” long after Bernie has left politics. I also wonder where the Bernies-in-training are. Katie Porter maybe?

History/memory informs us of another totally left candidate who played very well to the youth demographic, George McGovern. It was a very different time, one when the youth of our country were out marching in the streets every day to put an end to foreign excursions, civil rights, empowering women and other social issues. The presidential election of 1972, left the Democratic candidates George McGovern and Eugene Shriver crushed in a 61-percent to 37-percent defeat to Richard Nixon. The Electoral College total was 520 to 17, for Nixon. At the time, this was the second biggest landslide in American history. I’m not saying that I don’t think that a totally Progressive movement would have the same results today, I’m just offering up a recollection from the past. After all, “those who don’t remember the past are doomed to repeat it”, as the saying goes.

So, as excited as I am to see the progressive ideas expostulated by Bernie take hold with the American people, I know that the realities of his age have got to be catching up with him. At what point will some dip ask Bernie some dumb question, and Bernie lose it and go total octogenarian Rambo on them? I know it’s a possibility I deal with everyday, and Bernie’s got a few years on me. What if Bernie calls a fool “a fool” on the Senate floor and is censured for his truthfulness? Will he continue to try to serve like a Supreme Court Justice until the last functioning brain cell gives way? I hope not, he has meant too much to too many of us for his legacy to become tarnished in that way.

I hope that when when Bernie’s last race has been run that those of us who call ourselves Democrats will keep this Bernieism in our heart: Election days come and go. But the struggle of the people to create a government which represents all of us and not just the one percent – a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice – that struggle continues.”

Selective Memory

It feels warmer this winter than I ever remember it being for this time of year. Of course my memory fades. Truth be told, I don’t really object to a mild winter. I just pray that it is not a harbinger of an asphalt melting summer. Bright sun-shiny ninety degree days don’t hold the attraction for me they once did. Of course if the weather turns sub-zero with snow and ice I’ll start longing for those “balmy” days of summer. My aversion to hot days will be superseded in my memory by the immediate discomfort of cold hands and feet.

That’s how memory works, we try to forget the bad, and reinforce the good. Some would call that a product of evolution, but I don’t want to give my neighbors another reason to distrust me.

Memory is also tainted by opinion. We all remember certain seminal events that were “once-in-a-lifetime events”. Everyone of a certain age can remember exactly where they were when Kennedy was shot. A later generation will remember 9-11 as their “everything changed after that” incident.

I remember being home from school and watching Jack Ruby shoot Lee Harvey Oswald on live TV. While there are thousands of conspiracy theories, and hundreds of books have been written expounding them, the opinionated memory can not change the black and white facts. Jack Ruby walked directly up to Lee Harvey Oswald in a garage in Dallas filled with police officers and shot the man accused of killing a president. No amount of supposition or conjecture can change what millions of us saw live on that day. Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald; one man took the life of another.

57 years, 1 month and 14 days later, millions of us watched in horror as another seminal event played out before our eyes on national TV. A group of misguided sycophants attempted to overthrow the government of the United States. They weren’t subtle about their intentions, they even brought along a gallows to deal with the vice-president they felt betrayed them. They were armed not only with weapons but inside information as to where to attack, where the defenses were the weakest.

The inside information was provided by congress people that had had enough of the democracy experiment. The insiders had decided that being re-chosen by their constituents every few years was too taxing on their Zen and that being installed by King Donald the 1st was more in line with their personal beliefs. I don’t suppose any of them had polled their districts with the simple question: Democracy or Monarchy? That would have been too obvious. Better to create a “Constitutional crisis” out of the mob storming the Capitol.

As one who has been unhappy with a lot of what my government has done in my name in my seventy plus years, I’ve always respected the process. I’m miserable when the Republicans are in office and less so when the Democrats take charge. As a youth I marched in the streets to end the war, but I also registered for the draft. It was what good citizens were supposed to do. Work within the system to bring about the change you wanted to see, not trash it for everyone. Not write in our feces on the Capitol walls.

Three years ago, a group of wrong headed acolytes of a false prophet rose up to change the world for all of us. This wasn’t the will of the people, over 81 million people voted for Joe Biden, the largest number of votes ever cast for a presidential candidate. Even by the definition of the Donald, Biden won by a landslide. No this was an attempted coup. This was an attempt by a few to overthrow the will of the many by force. We all saw it!

Most of us recognize that we are not guaranteed “Prom King” or “Homecoming Queen” and would never attempt to burn down our high school as a logical response to our loss. Sometimes another candidate for a position that we cherish goes to another. We learn from the experience, we grow and we move on. At least that’s how it works for 99.999999 percent of us.

Many opinions will be offered as to why the insurrectionists did what they did. Many excuses and defenses will be proffered by those brought to trial. There will be suppositions and conjectures aplenty. But no amount of supposition or conjecture can change what million of us saw live on that day. People, police officers, died while valiantly trying to preserve Democracy for the rest of us. Let’s not let opinions make our memories of what we all saw that day become selective.

Thousands Standing Around

We’re watching all of those folks milling around in the Atlanta Airport on TV. If I was trying to get to Dallas or Chicago by airplane, I’d probably be busting a gasket now.

What seems to be plaguing the holiday time of year travelers is the inability of the security at the airports to process the travelers quickly. I use “quickly” in the most generous sense. People are being told to arrive at the airport three hours ahead of their scheduled flight. Three hours ahead of their departure time! Let us cogitate on that for a moment. Three hours of picking up and kicking our bags forward while we try to not upset the people in front of, or behind us in line.

If those three hours were actually spent traveling, where could we go? Well, by car heading north, we’d make it to Asheville, Knoxville, Nashville and almost to Charlotte. Going in other directions we’d get to Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Columbus and nearly to Tallahassee and Savannah. I am told that people fly to those destinations from the Atlanta airport. Now travelers can drive to their port of call in the time they would have spent in line waiting to take their shoes and belt off.

As impressive as that range is, where could we go by train, if the United States had a train system like Eurail?

In addition to the car list, we add Lexington, Greensboro, Charleston, Jacksonville, Panama City, Pensacola and Mobile. It looks like going to the beach would be a piece of cake by train. I’m talking about a slow train, one that averages one hundred miles an hour. If you move up in speed to Eurail standards, then most of the eastern U.S. is within reach. Chicago is attainable in the time you spent kicking your bag along in line. The two and half hour flight time is just time you get added back to your life to live as you see fit. Logical minds are asking, what can be done? At least I hope there are some logical minds somewhere asking questions.

One of the reasons for the big slowdown at the airport has been brought about by the carriers charging more luggage fees for checked baggage. Passengers retaliated by carrying on all of their stuff. TSA agents retaliated by processing your sixteen carry on pieces of luggage as slowly as they could. The lines of angry passengers going out the door of the terminal notified the news agencies that there might be a story here. The story lasts for one cycle because the media is not going to aggravate any of their advertisers. Ad infinitum.

The news agencies have presented the story as one more government agency unable to function properly, not one more money grubbing industry trying to squeeze every nickel out of their customers. The spin that the fault lies with TSA, will of course beg for the opportunity to turn the security of the airports over to private security companies. Think Blackwater, except they’ll probably re-brand as something cute like “Blue Skies”. By the way, TSA stands for Transportation Security Administration not Thousands Standing Around.

It’s been reported that thousands of flyers have missed their flights because of the slow lines at security. What can be done to fix this problem without compromising security? Well, my first choice is to build a first rate train system in the U.S.A., like President Biden has talked about in his “Build Back Better” plan. If only a fourth of the folks flying today took the train, the lines at the airport would disappear. I suspect if the airlines felt any competition from any other source, they’d figure out how to get the lines manageable without compromising security. Without competition, they’re not motivated. For my money, the carriers have created the problem, and will try to shape the solution to something they would prefer. Something like their own security system.

Hometown Delta Airlines has devised a “Delta Check Point Charley” for all of the preapproved Delta passengers. Flyers have the option to join TSA’s Precheck program and use Delta’s face recognition software to speed customers through the line. Blink, blink, zip, zip you’d be through security headed to the gate like in the old days before 9/11. Of course annual dues would apply, and maybe frequent flyers might have to get dinged a little more for their frequent use of the system. Those face readers don’t come cheap you know.

Security would be maintained without all of us getting to show our privates to amused TSA officials. The downside might be a preapproved gun nut. This year TSA has caught 4,500 firearms in carry on luggage, a twenty year high. I’m not seeing anything in the program that addresses weapons in carry on luggage.

The reduction in the time needed to fly might be enough to hold off developing a first rate Amtrak. We’ll see. There are a lot of us that prefer the comfort and reliability of a good train system. Sadly, we might have to wait until the Hyperloop becomes a reality.


Al Franken, the great former Senator from the state of Minnesota once said of his relationship with Ted Cruz, “Here’s the thing you have to understand about Ted Cruz, I like Ted Cruz more than most of my other colleagues like Ted Cruz. And I hate Ted Cruz.”

Known as somebody who doesn’t mind climbing out on a limb, and then sawing it off behind himself, lyin’ Ted Cruz is never at a loss for words. It seems The Cruz has pushed the crazy meter so far to the right that he’s getting a bounce in media attention currently. Describing Biden’s pledge to nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court, lyin’ Ted Cruz referred to the decision as “offensive” and “insulting”. Whew!

I think The Cruz has upped his media game to the point that the major news services feel like they need to stay on his coattails, lest they miss something major. The Cruz is so volatile he just might set himself on fire or something. The extra coverage just brings up more wacky stuff that might get missed if the news people aren’t 24X7. Like the fact that The Cruz is currently packing for an extended stay in Cancun ahead of the next ice storm.

Why do people take an instant dislike to Ted Cruz? It saves time.

Speaking of trips, who remembers Bruce Jenner’s famous trip to the bathroom on his pilgrimage to endorse the Donald in New York prior to the 2016 election?

Now, I will be the first to admit that I have all sorts of issues with the conversion of Bruce Jenner to Caitlyn Jenner. These issues are more about a contemporary, a terrific athlete, one who could have beaten me at each and every event, then deciding later in life that he should have been playing for the girl’s team. That’s disturbing to me. Whether or not he feels his gender assignment was right or not is a personal issue, in my opinion, and should have been handled that way. The fact that he has the world’s most aggressive agent promoting his change, and consequently the news coverage, is just tacky. Not quite as tacky as the Kardashian kids, but still real tacky. The firestorm was released when the Kardashian media machine released a video of Bruce going in the women’s restroom, in Trump Tower, no less. Enter lyin’ Ted Cruz.

The Cruz wanted his faithful to know that if there was ever going to be a Cruz Presidency, no one was going to be allowed to enter a bathroom that they were not biologically suited for. In front of God and everybody, Cruz opined, “It doesn’t make sense for grown adult men, strangers, to be alone in a restroom with a little girl,” Cruz continued. “This is the height of political correctness. And frankly, the concern is not of the Caitlyn Jenners of the world, but if the law is such that any man, if he feels like it, can go in a woman’s restroom and you can’t ask him to leave, that opens the door for predators.”  Ahhhhh, the predators card. I’m glad Cruz played it.

Parents of children of both sexes are always faced with how to handle the potty breaks of little ones before we feel that they’re safe to go by themselves. Mom could be with the son, or Dad with the daughter. Neither parent wants to be caught in that danger zone of taking the child to the bathroom we are “gender assigned” to, but not the child. Or worse, entering the bathroom that is correct for the child, but not for the parent. Then you’ve got the Cruz dilemma of an adult in the wrong bathroom. As the child gets older, this situation gets more and more awkward until we finally decide they’re ok to go to their own bathroom on their own, while we wait patiently for them to return. Billions of parents handle this issue everyday.

It’s only in Cruz world where we have to presume that a trans person is also a predator. In Cruz world laws must be made to preserve the sanctity of gender specific bathrooms, no matter how broken the plumbing is in the other bathroom. Ironically, I bet The Cruz never asked his wife if she had ever used the Men’s bathroom. Heidi is prone to hearing voices, and I bet at some point in time Heidi heard a voice say, “I’ve got to go now and there is no line at the men’s room”. Maybe not, maybe I judge too harshly.

I am sure that The Cruz wouldn’t know a “predator” if one came up and bit him on the butt. I even offer up proof. Here The Cruz is pictured with a very famous predator that called his wife ugly and said his dad helped Lee Harvey Oswald:

Being A Democrat

I am not a member of any organized party — I am a Democrat.”, Will Rogers used to say.

And that’s the beauty of it, the Democrats have a wide diversity of groups, ideas and philosophies that come together under the big tent that is the Democratic party. We don’t goosestep in unison to the clarion call of a totalitarian personality cult. We don’t believe that the “one” is greater than the all. We don’t accept that the “other” is the reason we don’t have it as well as we think we should. Most of us have come to the realization that the “other” could just as easily be us.

Democrats talk about things, we discuss things, we debate things, we chew over things, and eventually we consider things. In that consideration we consider other’s opinions and question our own. We feel it is our obligation to hear and consider every voice. Sometimes giving voice to the one tenth of one percent has the consequence of allowing the other party to make us look weak. I would argue it is our strength.

I didn’t come to being a Democrat easily. All of my people are Republicans, on both sides. I’ve even got kin who held office and ran for office as Republicans. I was a Teenage Republican myself. In my defense I will point out that there was a girl involved, and I was a teenager, when science has proven that the brain has not completely formed.

I began to see the light in my late teens and early twenties. Losing Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King made me question why the idea of equality was so threatening that it had to be silenced forever. If my schooling was right, there was a line in the Declaration of Independence, “All men are created equal”. Why did the outspoken proponents of equality and opportunity have to be expunged from our society? Was it just a black/white thing or was there something more?

The great columnist and author Molly Ivins once wrote, “I believe all Southern liberals come from the same starting point–race. Once you figure out they are lying to you about race, you start to question everything.” It’s true; once you personally figure out that people of color just have a different skin color, that all of their hopes and dreams and aspirations are the same as yours, you question why there is a political party hell bent on denying them the rights afforded to them in the Constitution.

I think we can take a cue from the Watergate days, “Follow the money.” As I have explored in depth, the rich keep on getting richer. It is their raison d’etre to climb the ladder of success and pull it up behind them. Under funding public schools and social programs designed to lift up the disadvantaged allow the rich to maintain their stranglehold on opportunity for generations. Does anyone honestly think that the building gifted to Harvard by Jared Kushner’s dad didn’t effect the admission’s board decision to allow Jared to matriculate?

Opportunity for our children should be fair and equal. We should not be sending children to school hungry. We should not be sending children to schools that are underfunded and poor performing. We should not be sending children to bed at night without the opportunity to do the online studying necessary to compete. Our children deserve the right to adequate health care. They deserve the opportunity to attend safe after school programs. They deserve the opportunity to attend an Ivy League school if they are the most qualified candidate and that includes legacies.

We need to foster the idea in this country of having one hand on a rung of the ladder of success while reaching back with the other to help someone else in their climb. “I got mine” and pulling up the ladder behind you should be a thing of the past.

The challenge is Herculean. What some of you have read here translates to “tax and spend liberal”. Guilty. We should tax the rich and spend the money to benefit all of society, not just the one percent. Lest you worry needlessly, the rich will still get their share, any benefit to the economy will benefit them the most.

I’ll finish this by quoting Molly Ivins again, “Personally, I think government is a tool, like a hammer. You can use a hammer to build or you can use a hammer to destroy; there is nothing intrinsically good or evil about the hammer itself. It is the purposes to which it is put and the skill with which it is used that determine whether the hammer’s work is good or bad.”

I believe the Democrats are the more competent party to wield the hammer of government.

I Have A Dream Too

The saying goes that if you live long enough you’ll have seen it all. Well, I guess I’ve lived long enough to see many surprising things. I don’t proclaim to have “seen it all”, but I’ve been witness to some events that one would have never predicted.

On October 14, 1964 it was announced that Dr. Martin Luther King would be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in the civil rights movement. Almost sixty years ago, in December of 1964 Dr. Martin Luther King traveled to Oslo, Sweden to take possession of the highest award a civilian can achieve. At age thirty-five he was the youngest ever recipient of the prize and the first ever from the state of Georgia.

If you were not aware during the sixties and seventies, it was a time of great turmoil. Thousands were marching in the streets demanding equality and an end to the war in Viet Nam. Riots were taking place in the cities and the police were enforcing “law and order” very vigorously.

In retrospect, it’s odd to think about two major movements, anti-war and civil rights, occurring at the same time. There was plenty of dissatisfaction for the way things were going from a lot of people. It’s a miracle some moron didn’t suggest storming the Capitol. Some 250,000 protesters did come to the Capitol in the “March To Washington”. Peacefully, I might add. Hmmmm.

In the midst of this turmoil, Dr. Martin Luther King was rallying his followers and pushing forward with the civil rights movement. His philosophy was one of non-violence. How one could rally people to march peacefully unarmed into police lines of truncheons and dogs and fire hoses is beyond me, but Dr. King did it. His efforts to demand equality without creating a blood bath did not go unnoticed by the world community. Unlike Ghandi, who King based his teachings on, King was honored by the Nobel committee. Dr. King was held up to the world as the example for how to achieve a goal without resorting to violence.

The excellent documentary, “Eyes On The Prize”, details the civil rights movement from 1954 through the mid 1980’s. I highly recommend watching it. There is nothing like actual footage taken from the time and place to give one a sense of what the black community was put through. Watching children bravely walking through throngs of hate-filled racists to attend school is something that should be part of every school’s curriculum. Those that have their panties in a bundle about the possibility of Critical Race Theory being taught in schools should be exposed to the footage non-stop like Malcolm McDowell in “A Clockwork Orange” until they get it. It might take some people a long time to get it, but it will be worth the effort if we can get some of these white supremacists to see the light, or at least admit that there is one at the end of the tunnel.

Speaking of the people unaffected by Dr. King’s message, I’m still amazed at how bold and upfront these people are. I guess generations of prosecutorial immunity have emboldened this generation of haters to move beyond their forebears. Where Dr. King and his 200,000 followers could have easily taken the Capitol on that day in August of 1963, they didn’t. Didn’t even try. They were there to make their grievances known peacefully. As a bit of serendipity, they got to listen to the greatest speech Dr. King ever gave, his “I Have A Dream” speech. Contrast that with the January 6th insurrection and you get a sense of the quality of the men running both movements. One leader would not use violence in the pursuit of his goals. The other would use his minions to attack the police and anyone else who stood in the way of his attempted coup.

Speaking of the attempted coup, please watch “Four Hours At The Capitol”. Contrast the actions of the crowds trying to overturn the election and think about what a difference a responsible leader makes to the actions of his crowd. Dr. Martin Luther King was a true leader. He talked the talk and he walked the walk. He led by example and the world is a better place because he walked among us. He was taken far too soon.

The Season of Giving

According to Forbes magazine, the 400 richest families in America have now accumulated $4.5 trillion in wealth, a 40% rise over last year, and growing. Sadly their charitable contributions are not keeping up with their windfalls. “The number of Forbes 400 members who gave away more than 20% of their net worth since last year’s list dropped from ten to eight, while those who gave away less than 1% of their wealth rose from 127 to 156.

Business Insider reports that “the wealthiest 10% of Americans hold more than 89% of all available equity in corporations and mutual fund shares (with just the top 1% controlling more than twice as much equity as the bottom 50% of all Americans combined)”

Forbes also reports that “the top one percent alone holds more wealth than the middle class. They owned 30.4 percent—or over $34.2 trillion—of household wealth in 2021 while the bottom half of the population owned just $2.1 trillion.”

An observation can be made that investments made by the 400 families have created thousands of jobs, it’s just that those jobs are located in China, India and Malaysia. Where would China be without the Walton family (WalMart)? Even Warren Buffet, who admits that he has a lower tax-effective rate than his secretary, has invested heavily in the next generation of autos being produced in China, not the U.S.

The economies of China, India, South Korea and Singapore have all benefited from investment from American firms such as Apple, Cisco, HP, Google and Microsoft. Sadly foreign investment has created a double edged problem. In addition to the loss of American jobs to foreign workers, the multi-national companies take advantage of lower tax rates in foreign countries to avoid paying taxes in the U.S. Taxes that the U.S. desperately needs.

Microsoft had 138.5 billion dollars in profits in foreign banks in 2017, second only to Apple. The dilemma for Microsoft and others is how to get the money into U.S. banks without paying the 35% tax rate owed on the earnings. Ironically, Bill Gates Sr., father of Bill Gates, is on record as saying that he thinks the rich don’t pay enough taxes. Honor your daddy’s memory, Bill.

It is estimated that U.S. based multi-nationals have at least 2.6 trillion in profits sitting in foreign banks. The 664.9 billion brought home in 2018 through a reduced rate of tax percentage is a good start. Sadly, 15% is not the 35% that these multinational corporations should be paying. 

The taxes due to the U.S. government could fund a lot of education, re-training and investment opportunities for U.S. citizens. For those who are not proponents of reinvesting in America, the repatriated profits could be used to pay down the national debt. This flight of capital to other countries, plus the unwillingness to pay taxes due on the profits, strikes me as the height of arrogance and extraordinarily unpatriotic.

The “tax holiday” being offered to these corporations to bring home their profits at a tax rate of 15.5% clearly is a huge benefit to the “400”.

Who are these fortunate few? Are these 400 families, the “job creators” we keep hearing about? The sad truth is that many of the 400 are not actively involved in the businesses that brought them wealth. According to the Business News Daily, “over 1/3 of the 50 wealthiest billionaire families grew up in substantial privilege.” The rich get richer, we used to say.

Many of the 50 wealthiest are 5th and 6th generations of inheritance. The concept of working for a living is alien to them; they were born wealthy. They don’t build new businesses, invest in factories or develop creative new ideas. Instead, they invest in money managers, lawyers, and lobbyists. They invest in people who influence our representatives to give them a bigger share of the American dream. They invest in PR firms to re-label the inheritance tax as the “death tax”, they invest in spinmeisters that lead us all to believe that some day when we hit the lottery, we’ll want their rules in place for ourselves.

Everyone talks about “the good old days”. I grew up in the 1950s. Back in the “good old days”, the highest marginal tax rate for individuals peaked at 92% in 1952 and 1953. The Golden Era of American Capitalism occurred during the time when America taxed the rich at the highest rate.

A “good old days” phrase I remember is, “A peacock who sits on his tail is just another turkey.” Maybe high tax rates for the wealthy are what’s needed to get the peacocks off their tails.

Ignorance Is Not A Virtue

I’ve been reflecting on a couple of comments made to my Facebook page regarding a post I did on the Kyle Rittenhouse affair and the Good Samaratin’s intentions. You remember the young fellow who crossed state lines while illegally possessing a military weapon to “render aid”. One commenter writes, “You’re a sick individual. And so is the person who laughed in the comments.Hmmmmm.

As a writer one expects to sometimes tickle the emotions of a reader, but I take exception to the notion that suggesting that Kyle should have just stayed home as a determiner of my sanity. Doing a deep dive into my psyche I tried to ascertain why two “nice people” could come to such divergent conclusions based off of the same body of evidence. For some reason President Obama’s phrase, “Ignorance is not a virtue” popped into my head. I think it was the most “true” statement I’ve ever heard.

President Obama was delivering the commencement speech at Rutgers University when he informed the audience that, “Ignorance is not a virtue”. It was delivered in the perfect context, in the perfect setting. As for the setting, the President was in the heart of Trump country. As to the context, the President went on to explain that not knowing what you were talking about was not an excuse for raising your voice and presenting your point again and again and again.

The President told the twelve thousand newly minted graduates, “In politics and in life, ignorance is not a virtue,”  “It’s not cool to not know what you’re talking about. That’s not keeping it real or telling it like it is. That’s not challenging political correctness. That’s just not knowing what you’re talking about. And yet we’ve become confused about this.”

I can certainly see where a lot of folks would consider having the phrase tattooed on their body in their favorite font. I might do it myself. It would be more relevant in our day to day lives than a quote from Khalil Gibran. Just have “Ignorance Is Not A Virtue” tattooed on the inside of your left arm, if the space is still available. That way you can look down at your arm when you feel like you’re about to comment on something that you have no knowledge of, like global warming, or what the Federal Reserve does.

Of course, if you have been imbued by your Creator with infinite knowledge, like The MAGAts, it probably won’t make much difference. The phrase assumes a certain self awareness that megalomaniacs like the Donald and his minions don’t possess. “Seldom right but never in doubt”, is how we refer to folks whose super egos were never developed. To that end, I’d like to offer up the Donald’s brain for scientific study to see if part of his issues are organic, or if they all stem from his upbringing. I realize the challenge will be getting to the brain through the impenetrable helmet of orange “hair” that surrounds the cranium, but science needs to be served. We need to develop a vaccine if the cause of the Donald’s wrongheadedness is organic. Billions of lives hang in the balance.

Ok, I’m having a little fun with the disgraced, former, twice-impeached ex-President’s ability to appeal to the lowest, basest emotions in his followers and have them ignore all evidence contrary to his words. I am awestruck that his minions can promote an idea as far-fetched as “Jewish Space Lasers” starting the wildfires out west, or that millions of fake ballots shipped in from China changed the results of the election. The fact that he can continue to spew his drivel and have millions suck it up like it was Gospel confounds me.

I’m reminded of the old joke about a fellow that was caught cheating by his wife in their own bed. The husband repeatedly tells the wife that she is dreaming while the paramour gathers up her things and hustles out of the room. The wife will not be dissuaded. Finally the husbands yells in outrageous indignation, “Who are you going to believe, me, or your lying eyes?”

I feel like the people that watched the Rittenhouse trial and ignored his assertions that he was an “EMT”, that watched him lone wolf his way into a potentially hostile environment away from the area he was supposedly securing and secure in, his ignoring one of the rules of self-defense, “avoidance” and then chose to kill rather than run are allowing the likes of Tucker Carlson to do their thinking for them. So who are you going to believe, Tucker or you’re lying eyes?

My dear granny Waller used to say, “Ignorance is its own reward”, which is kind of a corollary of “Ignorance is bliss”. She used to say it about people who purposefully stayed ignorant of situations that it benefited them to be ignorant about. Situations like cheating spouses, or a work practice that was harming their employees. I prefer President Obama’s phrase. It encourages me to learn and to not accept ignorance as an excuse. Most importantly, it encourages me to not spread my ignorance to others.