Monday, September 30, 2019

Week of 09/30/2019

Trump Is Not Clinton – Stop Comparing Impeachments
So it finally happened.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi finally pulled the trigger and began the impeachment process against Narcissist President Donald Trump, starting with the impeachment inquiry.
Let me start off by congratulating Speaker Pelosi for finally doing the right thing.  This commentator speculates that this was something she really did not want to do, as she has conveyed in the past that she abhors impeachment.  Especially since Narcissist Trump is the perfect enemy for Pelosi to use for her campaigns both as a member of Congress and as Speaker of the House.  As long as he is in office, Pelosi’s position in both those categories is assured.
But, really, Speaker Pelosi had no choice in the matter now.  With the revelations of Narcissist Trump trying to influence a foreign power to investigate and thus damage the reputation of a political rival, Pelosi could not let this stand, especially when her base was screaming for impeachment.  Not acting on the Muller Report and its supposed “roadmap to impeachment” was one thing.  But this... a tactic that almost comes right out of a Russian playbook... a tactic that screams despotism... this could not be excused or dismissed.
So, congratulations, Speaker Pelosi, for having the ovaries to do your job.
That brings us to the matter of impeachment.
There are several scripts being shoved down our gullets from Narcissist Trump’s enablers trying to sabotage the process.  These come from so-called “political experts” and think-tank consultants to editorial boards and political columnists, all of whom are peddling Narcissist Trump’s repeated assertions that he did “nothing wrong”, “nothing illegal”, “nothing previous presidents haven’t done”, or that there is simply “nothing there”.  This is standard operating procedure with Narcissist Trump.  Deny it, admit it, say there’s nothing wrong, say there’s nothing illegal, say it’s been done by everyone else, then say it’s nothing and a made-up accusation.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  Straight from the gospel of the disgraceful hypocrite (and Trump mentor) Roy Cohen.
Understand that right now, as of this article’s posting, the House of Representatives is the inquiry stage of impeachment.  Next come the hearings.  Then come the articles of impeachment to be considered and voted on.  We are not “there” yet.  We may not even get “there”.  There are so many ways this can come to a halt, including having Narcissist Trump pull a Nixon and resign so he wouldn’t have to be impeached.  His ego may not accept that, but that does not mean that it is not a possibility.
But, for the sake of argument, let’s suppose that impeachment is inevitable.  Let’s suppose that those inquiries and hearings come to articles of impeachment to be debated and voted on.
Obviously comparisons have been and will continue to be made with the GOP’s impeachment of President Bill Clinton in 1998.  This is part of the script to sabotage the impeachment process by claiming that any attempt to remove Narcissist Trump from office would backfire on the Democrats just like it did for the GOP with Clinton. 
However, right from the onset, the only thing that these two impeachments have in common is the word “impeachment”.
Let’s start with the facts.  Clinton was impeached in December of 1998 for the charge of lying under oath about receiving oral sex from an intern and then obstructing justice.  This was after the mid-term election of 1998, in the middle of Clinton’s second and final term in office.  The GOP knew that it was a salacious charge, but they claimed they did it because of the “rule of law”.  The House impeached Clinton, but the Senate failed to get enough votes for a conviction.
We don’t know what sort of charges will come from the impeachment hearings of Narcissist Trump yet.  At the very least, it’s extortion and obstruction of justice.  But that doesn’t mean there won’t be more.  Narcissist Trump violated the separation of powers on more than one occasion.  He claimed an emergency for the sole purpose of redirecting funds for his ego-wall.  He is accused of violating the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.  The Muller Report can be put into play as well, providing additional charges to be considered.  Robert Muller repeatedly said that he could not indict a sitting president, but that his report set the groundwork for impeachment hearings.  Well, that time would be now.  Everything in the Muller Report is now fair game.
Even if it was just the initial Ukraine accusation and obstruction, it would be a felony criminal act – extortion – for political purposes.  That is far more serious than lying under oath over a sex act.
The GOP defended going through with the impeachment of Clinton over lying about a sex act by saying it was all about the “rule of law”.  Well if that was about the “rule of law”, why are they now defending a blatant criminal act?  Does the “rule of law” only apply to Democrat politicians?  Are the GOP immune to the law now?
Clinton was impeached during the middle of his second and final term in office.  He was going to leave no matter what.  He could not run for a third term.  That may have played a role as to why the Senate didn’t convict him.  Narcissist Trump, on the other hand, is still in his first term.  He’s running for re-election, with challengers in his own party in addition to the numerous Democrats vying to face him in 2020.  There is no guarantee that he comes out of impeachment any stronger than before.  In fact, it could make the case stronger for one of his challengers, especially from within his own party.
Then there is the matter of consequences.  The popular script says that the GOP paid a price for impeaching Clinton.  They almost lost their majority status and they certainly lost their nutty speaker, Newt Gingrich.  But, truth be told, that wasn’t the case.  Clinton was impeached *after* the mid-term elections, not before.  The damage to the GOP was already done before the articles of impeachment were even considered.  And Gingrich wasn’t forced to step down because of the impeachment.  He was forced to step down because he made a promise about the mid-term election results that went in the opposite direction.  Basically, he lost a bet.
So what really happened after Clinton was impeached?  The GOP won the 2000 Fiasco and their position in Congress got stronger and stronger.  So much for the fantasy that impeachment has “negative consequences” for the party that uses it.  Let’s not also forget that, even though he wasn’t impeached, Richard Nixon’s near-impeachment only had negative consequences for his party, not the Democrats.  Three words: President Jimmy Carter.
Let’s get brutally honest here... we need to stop comparing Narcissist Trump’s possible impeachment with Clinton’s actual impeachment.  The two have completely different circumstances to them.  Clinton’s impeachment involved salacious activity. Trump’s possible impeachment has severe criminal implications.  The party that impeached Clinton claimed “rule of law”.  The party that will possibly impeach Trump will have an actual law to justify it.
There’s one more thing that needs to be made clear... even if impeachment fails, it still would be a stain on Narcissist Trump’s tenure as President of the United States.  A stain that only two other presidents have in the history of the United States, with one of those two being “Hillary’s husband”.  For a self-promoting clown that continually boasts that he is the best and most exemplary human being ever in everything that he does, being impeached is something he will never be able to overcome.  That may be a far worse consequence for someone like him than just being removed from office.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Week of 09/23/2019

It All Comes Back To Greed
Hard-working Americans have some serious problems to deal with.  We’re all being bled into bankruptcy.
There are four key issues that are killing us as a nation.
First, student debt.  One of the phony cures of the Great Recession of a decade ago was getting an education.  The same people who told us that we needed to get houses and refinance our homes before the crash were then telling us that we need education to get better jobs.  So we’re signing up for those colleges, many of them for-profit, on the belief that any gains we’d make would pay those student loans off.  Except they don’t.  The jobs that can pay that just aren’t there, and if you can pay down those loans, then you don’t have the money for other things, like getting a house or starting a family.  The big gimmick now is to have some wealthy patron pay off those student loans, or to have a college that can provide an education tuition-free, but that’s still just a dream for many people.
The second issue is healthcare and medical debt.  Even if you have health insurance, people are finding out the hard way that insurance doesn’t cover everything like it used to a generation or two ago.  There are all these different doctors groups and specialists that may or may not be covered.  Big Pharma keeps jacking up drug prices so even more “preferred” drugs are no longer covered by your insurance carrier, and that continually shifts as more drugs get more and more expensive.  You may not have wanted that helicopter flight to rush you to the hospital, but you got it anyway and now you have to pay that bill.  Presidential wannabes like Senator Bernie Sanders is now making medical debt just as urgent of a crisis to fix as student debt, and that is part of the overall and ongoing problem with healthcare that just can’t seem to be fixed, even if conservatives had left the Affordable Care Act alone.
The third issue that has just poked its head out from obscurity is credit card debt.  Just like the years preceding the Great Recession, credit card debt is rocketing back up again.  Now I can tell you what “the script” says about it.  “Oh those lazy millennials!  They’re buying big screen TVs and avocado toast and seven-dollar coffees and going on vacations with money they don’t have!”  Except they’re not.  The credit card debt is there because people are having to use it to buy necessities.  They’re not buying avocado toast with it.  They’re just trying to buy bread and milk and other household things.  Because the money isn’t there after paying for healthcare and college and daycare and a car and just putting a roof on their heads, be it for rent or mortgage.  The money isn’t there, so they are having to do what Congress has been doing all this time, which is to put it on credit and pray for a lottery jackpot.
And then there is that fourth issue... work.  The United Auto Workers just instigated a walkout and strike on General Motors.  This in turn has forced GM to lay off thousands of workers in Canada.  At issue, according to the UAW, is pay.  Ten years ago, the workers agreed to a pay cut to keep GM going.  According to them, GM never made them whole afterward.  Add to this the number of businesses that have either already announced layoffs or will soon do so, and that’s not even taking into account the trade war with China.  Work will soon be a big issue for people, just like it was during the Great Recession and all the other economic downturns in the past.
Four issues... and they all can be traced to the same source problem.
That source problem can be summed up with one word: greed.
All four of these groups operate in the realm of Corporate America.  Even state and local colleges have to compete with for-profit schools that have the money to pilfer teachers on the promise of better pay, forcing them to raise tuition as well.  Big Pharma and Big Heathcare are all about Corporate America just like Big Banks and Big Auto, and pretty much every other business in America. 
They all have as their goal one thing: profit.  Profit at all costs. Profit at the expense of everything else. Profit at the expense of people.  Profit at the expense of the economy.  Profit at the expense of America.
Profit is the measuring stick for capitalism.  It wasn’t always this way, but it certainly is now, especially when you have investment groups buying up businesses for the sole purpose of turning them into profit-generating machines.  So if you don’t make your profit numbers, that business is considered a failure and is sold off or dismantled.  If you don’t believe me, then look at the ongoing power struggle with AT&T and their newly-acquired DirecTV satellite service.
And it is an inherent and systematic greedy metric, because it continually demands more and more every year, every quarter, every month, without exception.  There is no allowance for a recession.  There is no excuse for a “bad season”.  It’s make the number or you’re a failure.
So let’s see how this all fits in, starting with the workplace.
Big corporate companies like GM keep making their profit numbers by keeping their expenses - including wages - as low as possible.  It’s not about “whatever the market will bear”, because the companies are the ones that are dictating the market.  If it means talking the workers into a pay cut, so be it.  If it means getting the cheapest insurance packages possible with the highest deductible for their workers, so be it.  If it means bringing in temporary workers and keeping them as long as they can without hiring them on, then so be it.  If they can talk government into giving them a tax break with the false promise of “investment”, then so be it.  Anything and everything they can to minimize expenses is fair game to them, because it is all about making those profit numbers.  Period.
And you can forget any notion of “paying back” the workers for their sacrifices.  That is an expense, and no profit-minded executive would ever consider that.  They consider worker sacrifices to be a gift, not a debt.
So workers are getting paid overall less than their worth, and their health insurance coverage is putting more and more of the burden onto them.  That means less money available to buy the essentials.  And, again, we’re not talking avocado toast and big screen TVs (which are getting cheaper and cheaper, by the way) and luxurious vacations.  We are talking bread, milk, eggs, meat, chicken, fish.  We are talking about toilet paper and diapers, both infants and elderly.  We’re talking cable and phone bills.  We’re talking daycare and car care.  Growing kids need clothes and shoes.  Grown-ups need to get new clothes as well at some point because they can’t keep wearing the same stuff over and over again.  All of these are not free.  All of these things cost money.
So, yes, at some point, people have to put it on plastic. And then hope at some point they will be able to pay it down or pay it off.  And they hope they won’t ever get sick, because getting sick means doctors and drugs and those are getting too expensive for them.
Now let’s add to the job market all those college graduates looking for that dream job that will help them pay off those student loans they needed to get, and all of those older workers who thought getting that college degree would give them better jobs.  They both soon find out that Big Business values profits over people, and thus the “dream job” is just that, a dream.
All of those problems, connected by a single and ongoing systemic problem of greed in the name of profits at all cost.
But you’ll notice that nobody except yours truly is talking about this.  None of the presidential wannabes want to truly address the problem.  Nobody in the media want to talk about the true root cause of these economic miseries.  They all want to focus on the peripheral subjects and come up with jiffy-pop solutions that really won’t work.  And the conservatives are screaming “Socialism” at all of these solutions to the peripheral problems because they too do not want us to address the root problem.
Let’s get brutally honest here... our “precious” almighty goddammed capitalist system is flawed, and it is slowly killing America by a thousand peripheral paper cuts.
And I know Senator Sanders and the rest of the White House wannabes mean well when they say they have a plan to address these peripheral paper cuts.  Sure, let’s wipe out medical debt and student debt by taxing the wealthy.  It might even work... for a little while.  Then the next batch of conservatives and fascists come into power and they start dismantling everything again.  But, ultimately, they will fail, because they do not address the root problem.  They are just band-aids trying to patch a cancer.
For-profit schools, Big Pharma, Big Healthcare, Big Insurance, Big Auto, Big Business, they all use the same metric.  They all put ever-increasing profit ahead of everything else.  As long as that is considered all that matters for business, then everything else with the business will suffer.  If you want that to change, then the people up top need to change their view about the business and put the health of the business, including its workers, ahead of its wealth.  Only then will everyone prosper.