Thursday, July 30, 2020

Basic Economics


If you take $400 per week away from the 20 million people most likely to spend it, businesses lose well over $30 billion in sales every month.  If you're trying to revive a cratering economy, that's really a pretty dumb idea — but that's the Republican proposal for "helping" the unemployed.

Granted, many of the unemployed currently are collecting more in unemployment benefits than they earned while they were working, which might make them hesitant to return to their crappy jobs – mostly "heroic" ones like cashier, busboy, and pedicurist.  Sorry – no extra pay for your added risk.  Many more will stay unemployed because their jobs have disappeared, and aren't coming back any time soon.

While some Republicans in Congress must see their $200 proposal as a starting point in a negotiation, the hard right would like to end the benefit entirely.  They play on the politics of resentment, which may be the defining feature of the Tr*mpian base: "Why should somebody else get something if I'm not getting it — especially those people?"  Needless to say, opponents of enhanced unemployment benefits will masquerade as "fiscal hawks," but one can't help but notice how their hawkishness waxes and wanes depending on who gets the money being spent.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Brief Briefs



Indecent Exposure
It is true that laws requiring us to wear face masks impinge on our personal liberty,  The same is true of laws requiring us to wear pants, and demonstrations against that restriction might be more entertaining than the anti-mask protests.

The Twitter Hack
Smart enough to hack the accounts of  lot of famous people, including some leading Democrats, the hackers were not smart enough to run a profitable con, pulling in less that $120,000 from some very gullible people.  They may have done better had they hacked leading Republicans; Our President's account could have brought in millions.

Positive Thinking
The Tr*mp family attended Marble Collegiate Church when it was led by Norman Vincent Peale, author of The Power of Positive Thinking and a forerunner of today's Christian conservatives.  I suspect his influence on young Donald may have been profound, but, sadly, positive thinking hasn't worked on the coronavirus.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Talking about senility...


Just in case you missed yesterday's presidential "press conference," here's a sample of what Our President had to say:

“We have great agreements where when Biden and Obama used to bring killers out, they would say don’t bring them back to our country, we don’t want them. Well, we have to, we don’t want them. They wouldn’t take them. Now with us, they take them. Someday, I’ll tell you why. Someday, I’ll tell you why. But they take them and they take them very gladly. They used to bring them out and they wouldn’t even let the airplanes land if they brought them back by airplanes. They wouldn’t let the buses into their country. They said we don’t want them. Said no, but they entered our country illegally and they’re murderers, they’re killers in some cases.”

Friday, July 10, 2020

Monuments


Now that the USofA finally has achieved some degree of consensus regarding just who won our Civil War, it certainly is time to remove all those monuments to the losers.  A big question, though, is just what to do with all that statuary that may be of some historical and/or artistic value.  Some want them relocated to private property, but all that would accomplish would be to create a network of private shrines to racism.  I have a better idea.

Let's create a new Losers National Monument on some suitably desolate expanse of desert land out West, where it will be possible to display them all together.  They would be removed from their pedestals and placed with each abutting the next, bearded cheek by mutton-chopped jowl and horse's ass by horse's ass – with just enough room for  intrepid visitors to squeeze between them for access to the statues that particularly pique their interests.   Better yet, the relocated statues could be arranged into a maze for added tourist appeal – a classic American roadside attraction.

Then, perhaps, we could turn our attention to that other monument to slavery, the United States Constitution — where concessions to slave states resulted in our profoundly non-representative Senate and Electoral College.  As that unrepentant racist Winston Churchhill once said, "democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…’

I'm not sure he got that right, but I don't have a better idea right now.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Bounties


Nobody is surprised that Our President doesn't read his intelligence briefings, placing more confidence in Fox News than in the CIA.  (Personally, I suspect his aversion to reading may be because he's dyslexic.)  Republicans say nobody told him because the evidence for Russia paying bounties on the deaths of US service members wasn't strong enough.  Democrats say nobody wanted to tell him because he doesn't like to hear bad things about his buddy, Putin.

Another possibility is that he was told, and got on the phone to Putin to "find out if it was true."  Putin, of course, denied it — and Tr*mp, of course, believed him, just as he believed Putin's denial of Russian interference in the 2016 election: "President Putin says it's not Russia," Tr*mp proclaimed in Helsinki.  "I don't see any reason why it would be!"

Tr*mp has spoken to Putin by phone five or six times since he "didn't find out."  What were they talking about?  Oh, yeah — we're not allowed to know.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Gorsuch on Gay/Trans Rights


Everybody was surprised when Justice Neil Gorsuch voted to extend employment protection to gay and transgender individuals under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  My first thought was, "Aw, that's really sweet!"  It was a choice that, to me, demonstrated his respect and affection for his mentor, retired Justice Anthony Kennedy.

News commentators have made much of Gorsuch's commitment to "textualism" – the idea that judges should interpret law according to its specific language rather than trying to descry the lawmakers' specific intent.  Textualists, though, are the Jesuits of jurisprudence: individuals expert in spinning eminently logical arguments in defense of foregone conclusions.  In Bostock v. Clayton County, Gorsuch demonstrated his mastery of the art.

The four decisions in support of LGBT rights written by Justice Kennedy are likely to be viewed by history as his most significant actions in his time on the Supreme Court.  While I'm certain Kennedy made no attempt to influence his former clerk's decision, I'm equally certain that preserving Kennedy's historic legacy was a powerful factor in shaping the younger man's thinking.

Yeah, that's really sweet.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Cops


I had this funny feeling for a couple of days, and it took me that long to figure out what it was.  It had been quite a while since I'd experienced twinges of optimism.

That horrifying snuff film starring Derek Chauvin and George Floyd had set off what was beginning to look like a genuine mass movement.  Our President's psychopathy was becoming so evident that even a few Republicans were looking uncomfortable, and voices from the military offered some reassurance that our armed forces might not support a Tr*mpian coup d'etat.  I suppose that's cause for "hope," but the "change" part will be harder to come by.

Structural racism is just one component of a larger structure: a social system that allows a small number of individuals to amass great wealth and power at the expense of everybody else.  For a sizable chunk of the white working class, white privilege is the only privilege available, and they are loathe to give it up.  Also, consigning people of color to an underclass makes it so much easier for the agents of our overlords – the police – to recognize just whom they're supposed to repress.  Restrictions that keep minorities geographically separate make the task of repression even simpler, and the show of force is far more important than the "control of crime."

Cop culture is macho, authoritarian, and insular.  I suspect it is held together primarily by shared privilege: everything from never getting traffic tickets to  "qualified immunity" for murder.    Maintaining that privilege demands intense loyalty to each other: hence, the "blue wall of silence."  Compounding that opacity, municipalities save money by conceding "free" items in negotiations with police unions, like periodic deletion of public complaint records, or contract language that keeps them secret.

I'm not encouraged by any of the "reform" or "defund" ideas making the rounds now.  None of them addresses the real problem: somebody has to be repressing the underclass to keep the elite in its very comfortable place.  Somebody has to ensure that the working class remains divided and at odds with itself.

Just the same, I keep getting this funny feeling . . .