Taking an Election Break

I don’t know about you, but the long slow burning acidity of the presidential election that has me so turned off It tempts me to vote third party. The last thread of faith in the system that Obama touched to get my vote, that last careworn string that survived JFK, RFK, MLK, Vietnam, Watergate, Reaganomics, Bill Clinton, The Crash, The bailouts, the other bailouts, the lies behind the Iraq war, the leaks showing the surveillance and lies behind everything, the thread snapped and I am  at long last falling down and out of enchantment with our political system.

This presidential election has brutalized everyone I know. Nobody likes it, nobody can believe it, nobody likes the candidates, nobody appreciates what they do to each other, nobody appreciates what’s being done to the country, the opposition, the voters, etc.

Nobody likes the lying sleazy surrogates on every channel who change candidates like dirty underwear, who say horrid things about the opposition and then move on to work for them when their guy got booted from the race, who sit there and lie, lie, lie through their teeth without compunction, and all of this lack of character, backbone, principles, morals, all the deception and lies for money. They are a disgusting, wretched group of sycophants. If, going forward, I can’t watch cable news without their lying dead eyes looking out at me nightly like I am some simpleton too stupid to know they’re saying the candidate didn’t say something when I heard their candidate say it with my very own ears, and I saw the rancid putridity emerge from their mouths with my very own eyes, then I won’t watch cable news, ever again. I won’t miss it either.

The political system is a friggin’ mess so I boycotted cable news about 3 weeks ago and started watching sitcoms. I am a lot happier. I boycotted Twitter about 4 weeks ago. I tuned out and turned off.

The only thing I’ll tune in for is the first debate between Donald J. Trump and Hillary R. Clinton but if it is more of the same, I won’t watch the last two. I know who I am not voting for and that’s all I need to know.

Democrats and Republicans are to blame for this mess. I blame the presidential mess more on Trump and the GOP. But it is the job of both parties to make the 2 party system work. It isn’t working. If they can’t make it work NOW because they’re too painted into their ideological corners, then “we the people” need to dump them all and start over. “We the people” get along just fine most of the time.

 

Observations from the Sidelines on Campaign 2016

I am fascinated with the presidential campaign. I wish I wasn’t.  I spend too many hours watching coverage, speeches, debates, town halls, reading news article and taking any other opportunity to see the candidates speak, debate and disparage each other.

I am not a Trump fan. But I do find him to be interesting in the way I find all bombastic salesmen interesting. Their ability to choose their values within the moment, without hesitation or shame, always interests me. I am intellectually fascinated by the way they use willful dishonesty in making the sale but are simultaneously sincere in their belief that making the sale is the core of their goodness and at the very root of their self-esteem. They don’t care to hear what is wanted or needed outside of where that connects with the features of the product they’re selling.

I believe that is why Donald Trump seemed to all but ignore the fact that there was an Olympics going on. It did not promote his product of a broken America. Lots of great athletes doing great things wearing red, white, and blue. People achieving, winning and draped in American flags. It reminded me of a story I heard about an old pro golfer who when asked by a television reporter about an outstanding shot by an opponent said, “Why should I care, it didn’t help my score.”

Trump knows he’s preaching prosperity religion to poor, uneducated whites. He knows their fears, the ones borne of their lack of education, their lack of exposure to the world outside their impoverished communities, the shrinking white worlds many of us grew up in but which have become relics of a bygone era, a comfortable white era no doubt.

Trump has seized on the Angry White Man complex. It is best characterized by a man who lived in my apartment complex no long ago who had been laid off by a Campbell’s soup company. The soup company was moving its operations out-of-state to lower costs, it moved its operations to North Carolina, Ohio, and Texas where business taxes are more favorable, cost of living is lower, and where at least Texas is a right to work state where as such, unions are compromised.

The man worked as a janitor for over 20 years, a union janitor. He made over $20 an hour in that job. He was well paid enough to drive a decent truck, have an apartment and so on. He suddenly found himself given a pink slip and an early retirement. He began looking for work and found that his job skills in the rest of the working world paid a lot less than he was accustomed to earning. He was disillusioned, angry and not afraid to tell everyone about it. He moved after a long, fruitless search for another $20+ an hour job, and I am pretty certain that if he were here still he would tell me that he is supporting Trump.

That man is about my age. Born in the late 50’s and growing up in the 60’s and 70’s we are a unique breed of American. We grew up in the Autumn of white comfort, that brief period between the end of the Second World War and the end of innocence that I see as an aggregation of events. The assassinations of JFK, MLK, and Bobby; the Vietnam War, Watergate, the oil embargo and gasoline shortages, the 70’s recession.

My early childhood was a Hollywood movie, it was a weaving of Ozzie and Harriet, Mary Poppins, Father Knows Best. Our neighborhood was safe, doors weren’t locked, keys were left in the car, Christmas lights were on every house, most stores were closed on Sunday and everyone went to Church. School started the day after Labor Day and ended around June 1 and we were free to run the safe world unsupervised all summer. It was a good world. Dad worked and we got a two week vacation in the station wagon every year.

The problem with many uneducated whites today is that they hold on to that Disney-esque reality of their childhood as if it were Valhalla instead of what it actually was, a world built around a narrow set of norms and values that did not represent the real world, it was a façade of the real world we actually lived in, all wallpapered over in bright green and gold paisley prints. Behind the wallpaper and the closed doors and across the neighbor’s fence were all of the societal features, problems and challenges we now talk about openly.

In the 60’s if you didn’t talk about it, it did not exist. Homosexuality was a fringe bunch of perverts who run around in dark places doing awful things. When in fact our neighbor, married to a nice woman, was closeted and trying his best to live as a straight man to fit in to the plastic world the white society created. Alcoholism, drug abuse, domestic abuse, racism, bigotry all existed and were part of the fabric of our lives, but since we were all white, we all just accepted it as the norm, because it was the norm. Is it any wonder that someone like Clint Eastwood says things like “Get over it, it used to be no big deal.” He’s right that it wasn’t a big deal when we chose sides in a game by eeny meeny minie moe, catch a n……er by the toe, if he hollers let him go… Yes, that was the norm, no big deal to a group of white kids who’d never met a black child, did not go to school with a black child, whose parents knew no black people, whose church included no black people. We lived in a white bubble.

We had and have advantages as white people that gave us jobs as janitors that earned $20+ dollars an hour. We earned enough to be comfortable. A living wage kept us happy. The wealthy and the politicians that work for them are now scrambling to find a way to bring that living wage back into being now that the unions have collapsed and the wealth has concentrated, and the wealthy do not want to spread it (trickle it) downward. Politicians recognize that without a living wage that gives people like the man I knew from Campbell’s a decent standard of living as we in this country understand it, people get unhappy, dissatisfied, possibly even revolutionary.

Some white people want that white bubble back. That’s what Donald Trump implicitly promises. He is making the sale with millions of angry middle-aged white people.The problem I see is that he can sell it, but he just can’t deliver it. He cannot take this country back to the 60’s like he says he can because economically you have to be inclusive, minority people are no longer the minority in many areas and are no longer ignorant to the willful, systemic racism that kept them in poverty and most whites just above it.

Ours was a comfortable white world, but it was in some ways, certainly not in all, a false one that benefited from the subjugation of others for our comfort and advantage, and too many of us know it now, and we reject those parts of it that caused harm to others. But we white people who grew up in the cradle of the post-war boom continue to yearn for the safety, the lack of crime, opportunity, the peace of a world where positive expectations were the norm and the American dream was a real thing that motivated students and workers alike.

I reject Donald Trump’s sales pitch because it is only that; and the product he’s selling – a great, safe, white man’s privileged bubble of American prosperity – is false now and it was fundamentally false in the 60’s. Donald Trump sees the opportunity to make a sale. But what  is wanted by his angry white followers is certainly not what is needed by the country, and he cannot deliver it because it does not exist today, and it cannot be recreated.

 

Open Letter to Congress and the President

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am a tax payer. I demand legislation to eliminate the tax free status of all churches in America.

It is wrong for my government to force me to financially support a group of people who advocate for the death of me and my fellow Americans as the Verity Baptist church is doing in Sacramento. Terrorist threats are a violation of law. I should not forced by my government to support these vile terrorists with my tax money.

 

Most Sincerely Cranky

The Latest Crap About $15 Minimum Wage

So I got this tweet, which is a kind of typical, doltish tweet from someone with an opinion and no critical thinking skills.

SpiRals‏@ToroidalSpirals

@Grant_Writer They said the same when they raised it to $7.25 an hour…

It’s full of general language, unsupported, that appeals to weak-minded people  too lazy to fact check.

He/she says, “They said” “the same” thing when “they” raised it (minimum wage) to $7.25 in 2009. The inference of course is that we’re comparing apples (raising the minimum wage from $6.55 an hour to $7.25) with apples (raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $15.00 an hour).

It is obvious to even the most limited intellect that we are not comparing apples to apples, or even apples to pineapples.

Of course he/she uses “The same” to say that people complained about the increase in 2009 and therefore if people complain today the basis for the complaint is the same, it is meaningless. The trouble is that the argument this time is not the same and it is not meaningless. Increasing the minimum wage from $6.55 to $7.25 is the not same thing so reducing the arguments to irrelevant complaints is just plain lazy.

Here are the facts about the minimum wage from 1977 to today.

The minimum wage in 1977 was $2.30 an hour.

The average annual increase in the minimum wage per year from 1977 to 2009 = $0,15 per hour.

The proposed minimum wage in 2016 is $15.00 per hour.

If this is accomplished, the average annual increase from 2009 to 2015 (from $7.25 to $15) will be $1.11.

The difference in the amount of the increases in these two spans in (1977-2009 and 2009-2016) is 152%.

The increase to from $7.25 to $15/hour  is a 70% increase, not even close to the increase from $6.55 to $7.25, an increase of 10%.

To say the increase $15 is”the same” is a lie at worst, and ignorant and stupid at best, no matter what “they” say.

 

Socialist Arguments for a $15 Minimum Wage

All right, so I’m getting a lot of crap online from bleeding hearts about this $15 an hour minimum wage crap.

Here is how I see the arguments I am given.

What I think What I am told (the crap) What I think about what I am told
Minimum wage should be an entry level wage that enables you to gain a job, allows employers to hire a bunch of people, and is the first step on the ladder upward as skills, education, and experience are gained. Minimum wage was put into place to ensure that people weren’t left in poverty by unscrupulous business owners and should be today a “living wage” that enables people to enjoy all the benefits of living in the USA including housing, healthcare, family, etc. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour and the federal poverty rate is $11,700 a year. If someone works full time (2080 hours a year) at the minimum wage they will earn $15,080.  If the purpose is to keep people above the federal poverty guidelines, mission accomplished where it is now.

The Federal Fair Labor Standards Act that put the minimum wage into effect did have the goal of keeping people out of poverty at $0.25/hour. This was 1938, the height of the great depression, and it was designed for factories mainly. Since that time companies use the minimum wage to offer entry level employment to unskilled and otherwise unemployable people.

Minimum wage will increase the costs for all people and the bulk of the costs will be paid by the people doing most of the buying, not the rich. The CEO’s are making SO much money and should take pay cuts to pay for the increase in minimum wage. This is so stupid I don’t know why people say this crap. McDonalds employs about 760,000 people. The CEO made $8.75 million dollars last year. If McDonalds increased salaries from the federal minimum wage ($7.25) to $15 it would need over 6 billion dollars more to pay the increase. Even if the CEO was paid zero, that leaves McDonalds short $5,991,250. So do the freaking math people. The CEO may make a lot compared to you, but compared to the reality of $15 an hour he makes nothing.
Seven states in 2012-2013 according to the National Education Association paid starting teachers less than the annual pay someone who works full time at $15 per hour would earn ($31,200).

Montana $27,274
South Dakota $29,851
Missouri $30,064
North Carolina $30,778
Nebraska $30,844
Idaho $31,159
Mississippi $31,184
Comparing the minimum wage to teacher salaries who are underpaid isn’t fair. Underpaid according to whom? You’re talking about a market-based, negotiated salary level as opposed to a government imposed salary level based on nothing more than someone pulling a number out of their ass. Raising the minimum wage for uneducated, unskilled workers to the level of a teacher is an insult and a disincentive to undertaking higher education.
Even if you raise the minimum wage to $15 and everything goes up 35% or more, there’s a well-established practice in labor relations called “me too” and if you raise McDonald’s workers above teachers, teachers are going to scream (rightfully so) and the salary will have to be raised. That means higher taxes in addition to the higher costs of commodities and services. But people deserve a living wage for a full days work. Wrong, everyone deserves a full day’s pay for a full day’s work. The level of pay is determined by the market, the skill involved, the effort, the education and training required. With $15 an hour, everyone loses and then gains, and eventually, the balance settles again to make the minimum wage of unskilled people right where it should be again in relation to all other wages, at the bottom, where there is incentive to raise yourself up. What isn’t going to change are the profits and high salaries earned by the shareholders and CEO’s.
Minimum wage should be low enough so that enough people can work to raise themselves up, go to college or tech school, gain the skills and the work experience needed to enter the work force at a higher level. THE VICTIM MODEL

But not all people can work their way through college, they didn’t finish high school, they have family obligations and situations that prevent them from accomplishing a higher education.

True, everything isn’t equal. But the USA never promised equal outcomes, only equal opportunity to reach those outcomes. If you can’t go to college because of life obligations, then them’s the breaks. Do the best you can, work at it more slowly over time, do whatever you can. Not everyone who is successful went to college, but they worked their asses off without excuses until they made it.

 

I am not a fan of victimization. I hate the notion. It is handicapping. It is often debilitating. It is a curse on people who should instead be encouraged and supported to achieve. Why do we think that giving unskilled and uneducated people a salary that is higher than a starting teacher or a Certified Nurses Assistant that make only $12.39 an hour on average nationally (US Dept. of Labor) is beyond me.

The astronomically higher minimum will create a class of servants who have no incentive to move up and improve their education and skills. It is primarily a socialist redistribution of the limited wealth of the middle class! It is not redistribution of the wealth of the 1%. With this $15 an hour minimum wage, all we will accomplish is to beat the economic living crap out of everyone in the middle class under the flailing banner of Bernie Sanders’ socialist propaganda bull shit.

#DotheMath – $15 Minimum Wage is Socialism

$15 minimum wage is socialism and Bernie Sanders likes it.
$15 minimum wage does nothing to reduce the gap between rich and poor.

No wonder Bernie Sanders likes the $15 minimum wage, it has the impact of raising the bottom while pulling the middle down. It is a leveling. It is a forced redistribution of already limited wealth of the middle class. It has nothing to do with capitalism and market forces. It has nothing to do with what made America great, that being offering opportunity that encourages people to rise.

Bernie likes the $15 minimum wage because he is a socialist. Perhaps he is at heart a communist. Afterall, if you pay people in servant jobs enough, people with no job skills or education to rise, you rob them of ambition, you rob them of motivation to be entrpreneurial. Why should anyone rise if the government will raise the minimum wage and use it to take from the middle class to give to the poor.

Bernie Sanders thinks he is Robin Hood. In the sample above, you can see how the rise in minimum wage impacts the price per pound of apples. Yes it is a fictitious example, but notice that if the farmer’s profit stays the same we all pay more. And there are a lot more middle class and lower middle class people than rich people who buy apples. You are going to pay this raise, not the rich. They will keep their profit margins intact.

Is Bernie going to give everyone else a raise to pay for all the higher prices? No, he thinks this is great, that the bottom is lifted up and the middle is brought lower while the rich are not affected, SOCIALISM people. #DotheMath

Can Someone Question Santa Claus Bernie?

Bernie is expounding on the $15 an hour minimum wage and his crowds scream with glee behind and in front of him as he does. But nobody is asking him about the apparent contradiction in all this horse shit. His $15 dollar an hour raise is not going to be paid for by the rich, it is going to be paid for by all the screeching adolescents attending his rallies. They don’t realize they will have less money in their pockets, not more. $15 an hour is only spreading their limited wealth downward and ensuring that people earning minimum wage have less incentive to improve their lot, get educated, and move up the ladder.

Hey Bernie, I want to ask him, WHO is going to pay the price for this $15 an hour “living wage” for guys who dropped out of school, illegal immigrants with a 5th grade education, and a lot of other people who are unemployable in most other circumstances for lack of education, job skills, and a host of other reasons. I worked at McDonald’s starting at 15 and a half because it was a starting job, a good starting job. McDonald’s is now staffed by people who find themselves in a situation in which the best job they can get is dropping frozen potatoes into hot oil. It’s a career move, not a starting job.

I want to ask Bernie who he thinks is going to pay for the raise for these people. Are the rich going to pay? You bet your sagging ass they’re not going to pay. You think the rich will absorb this cost and not raise prices? You think the rich are eating at fast food joints? You think the rich are shopping at WalMart?

Uh, yeah right, that’s how it will go Bernie. Bernie Sanders is asking us all to keep less of what we earn to give McDonald’s workers a raise. We’re all going to share more of our income with a bunch of people who should be working their ass off to get an education and rise above the role of potato dunker.

But nobody questions the lies about the minimum wage that Bernie and others are selling. The imbeciles at his rallies don’t ask questions, they cheer him. Yay Bernie, Bernie, Bernie, feel the Bern, Bernie Bernie, Bernie. IMBECILES

I don’t want to give my money to people who didn’t work their way through college and earn a degree, the people who didn’t work their asses off to pay their student loans off, the people who for whatever reason have relegated themselves to a flipping burgers and emptying grease pits. I graduated from high school and worked my way through college in minimum wage jobs.

I am so sick of this Bernie Sanders’ bullshit, his crowds of people without the ability to think critically, the smoke and mirrors of a multiple-term Senator who talks as though he just arrived on the scene with these new and “brilliant ideas”. I am sick and tired of Santa Claus Bernie’s promises of free stuff for everyone. He’s not telling the truth, he isn’t Santa Claus. Like Santa, “Bernie” is fiction.

And his supporters stand there stupid and smiling, they squeal with delight in full childish expectation of the gifts and ribbons and bows and wrapping and labels that most assuredly WILL NOT be coming to them. Time to grow up and get to work.

Trump Begins Move from the Angry Right to the LIVID MIDDLE

In the debate last night in Texas, Donald Trump said something revealing, more revealing than anything else I’ve heard him say. He asked Ted Cruz if he was the angry zealot Cruz accused him of being, it struck me as a lot closer to the truth of Cruz than of Trump. Coupled with Chris Christie throwing his support him today, it suddenly occurs to me that Trump, whether by accident or by design, has tapped into a previously unrecognized voting block, the LIVID MIDDLE.

Think about the TEA Party which has managed to stay relevant through virulent talk radio and a few wealthy supporters. The Angry Right is what Rubio and Cruz and the conventional wisdom of the GOP said would carry that side of the ticket when Bush (establishment) failed to gain traction. Bush wasn’t tapping into the angry right, he was too moderate, too comfortable in his establishment skin. But the angry right isn’t what kept Bush out, it is his failure to recognize that his own level of comfort with the status quo isn’t shared by most of the people in the middle.

Last night Trump revealed that he isn’t really with the Angry Right so much as with a Livid Middle. When he asked Cruz if he referred to himself as an angry zealot the light went on for me. Trump isn’t one of them, he’s already starting to move to the middle. His comments on Planned Parenthood and stated willingness to make deals between the sides of the aisle further confirm for me that Trump is already leaving the angry right behind for Cruz and Rubio. It isn’t a large enough voting block to get him into the White House and he seems to be the only relevant candidate who knows it on the GOP side.

Democrats have not recognized this LIVID MIDDLE yet either for that matter. They’re still too intent on painting Trump as a crazy right wing lunatic. But they are missing the evidence for the LIVID MIDDLE in their own race. If Trump can pull some of the angry middle supporting Bernie into his camp, the Democrats are done, and so are the Republicans because Trump is for Trump.

The thing is this, the right thinks they own anger. The religious zealots like Cruz think that separation of church & state is contrary to the intent of the founding fathers. Cruz was raised on dominionism, that Christians are to take over all aspects of society and bring it to heel.

But the LIVID MIDDLE is plenty pissed and our anger is only fed by the right’s dream of asserting dominion. We don’t want a religious zealot as president or senator, we like government and church being separate. We don’t want someone who fetches and carries for the Pope or the Preacher, or Wall Street, the Oil Industry, or any other industry either.

The LIVID MIDDLE got screwed in the collapse and we’re getting screwed in the recovery. And, the establishment thinks we should thank them for it. Obamacare for whatever good it has done also did some things none of us liked and they act like we forgot. I lost my insurance plan because of Obamacare, the great plan I HAD went away because of Obamacare and is no longer available. I REMEMBER that and don’t think I’ll forget when it comes time to vote.

I want the Supreme Court to uphold the rights of all, it is supposed to be a bulwark against the anyone misusing the law to deny rights to anyone. But the angry right seems to be forgetting that too. They crow and wail about popular votes designed to limit the rights of minorities as if the majority has a constitutional right to assert its bias and bigotry against anyone they don’t like…dominionism at its worst.

The Livid Middle is pissed that nobody actually went to prison for the crash of the economy. We REMEMBER and WE ARE PISSED.

We are sick and tired of lying, cheating, two-faced politicians who promise the world and do nothing.

We’re tired of the do-nothing Congress.

We’re tired of big money in politics.

We are sick and tired of the rigged game and yes we know it’s rigged for the rich from the criminal justice system to the insurance companies to the IRS. We’ve all been screwed and WE KNOW.

We’re tired of hearing that we need more war toys and less social security.

We’re tired of bad roads and illegal immigration and growing poverty and homelessness.

We’re sick and tired of hearing all politicians talk about reforming the tax code and getting rid of the IRS and doing nothing about it.

We’re tired of our parents coming to the end of life and finding there’s no Medicare support for decent long-term care.

We’re tired of right wing conservatives who portray themselves as originalists but can’t explain the contradiction between originalism and their “supposed” support for the 13th Amendment.

We’re tired of hypocrites who hold the Bible in one hand and lie, steal and fornicate with the other.

The TEA Party doesn’t have a monopoly on anger. The LIVID MIDDLE is larger and we’re pissed at lots of things including the TEA Party.

If Trump tapped the LIVID MIDDLE on purpose, then maybe he’s a hell of a lot smarter than I give him credit for being.

Why Trump and Bernie? Because Progressive Sucks Flo

Dear Flo,

Progressive Insurance Company is screwing my son and his partner out of their car. Their client pulled onto the freeway right in front of my son’s partner causing an accident. The Progressive Insurance Company’s Client was cited for an “unsafe lane change” and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department’s report indicated that his car windows were tinted very dark. Progressive even told me Flo that their client didn’t see my son’s car coming when he pulled onto the freeway because of the dark window tinting. So this guy negligently tinted his windows too dark for safe driving, and he was too lazy to roll down his bloody window to look before he pulled onto the freeway.

But it gets even better Flo. My son’s partner did “nothing improper” according to the Sheriff’s report.

But guess what? Progressive still decided that “nothing improper” means she is 40% to blame for the accident! Ain’t that a peach? And they have the nerve to tell me they aren’t only looking out for the company’s interest in this decision.

Why you might ask would Progressive Insurance Company say she’s 40% to blame? (It was only 20% at first)

That is easy Flo, it is because A) my son allowed his insurance to lapse, and B) because his partner was not injured. That means A) there’s no insurance company lawyers on our side for Progressive to fight with, and B) it means that no lawyer will take on the case against Progressive without a big retainer. My son isn’t rich and neither am I.

So we’re without an advocate and Progressive is empowered to do whatever the hell they think they can get away with. We’re told by Progressive Insurance Company that not only will they not change their assessment of their client’s liability, they don’t even have a process for appealing that decision. Without a lawyer we are at Progressive’s mercy Flo. They’re screwing us and there is nothing we can do about it.

That’s why people are pissed off Flo and that’s why Trump and Bernie are doing better than anyone ever feared. Us little guys are pissed off at being so powerless, at being taken advantage of by corporations, government and their lawyers. If you aren’t a lawyer, or rich enough to buy one, you’re screwed in this country, you are powerless.

We’re screwed unless someone like Bernie or Trump gets elected by all of us, people who are sick and tired of getting the crap kicked out of us every time we turn around. We are tired of the rigged games in this country.

So Flo, maybe you can help get your company to act in a fair and equitable matter. Maybe you can make them care about leaving a young family without a car due to the negligence of their client. Maybe you can talk to the rich and powerful people who hire the lawyers to train the staff to make decisions that screw people out of their cars when they did nothing wrong.

Can you do at least that much Flo? Come on Flo, I’ll even buy you some ice cream with sprinkles if you help us.

Sincerely,

Screwed by Progressive Insurance Company in Arizona

Cranky Since 2008