Sunday, January 21, 2018

Joe's 2018 Predictions: Kenya Won't Get Nuked

Hi, folks. Sorry I haven't been blogging much lately, but 2017 was a pretty wild year for me, including a detached retina, bankruptcy and other worries. Four months into recovery from surgery, I've been having trouble just seeing, let alone blogging.

Following are some predictions for 2018: Kenya won't be instantly vaporized in a nuclear first strike, the Kushners will have a family reunion in federal prison, Vladimir Putin will be re-elected president of the United States, and Bwana Don Junior will bring back more big game trophies from one of those shithole countries. More later -- Joe

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

John Kelly's Mission Impossible: You Can't Fix Stupid

By Manifesto Joe

In a previous blog post, I made the mistake of overestimating Resident Donald Rump. I wrote that he isn't stupid in the classic sense.

I absolutely take it back. He is not only batshit crazy like Nixon, he lacks Nixon's intelligence. He's quite possibly dumber than Il Doofus (Bush 43), and that's saying plenty. We've had crazy presidents before, and we've had profoundly stupid ones. But I can't recall when we had one, before this year, who was BOTH.

Former General John Kelly, who was recently named to be Rump's chief of staff, told the story with his face as Rump once again made an ass of himself during a Tuesday press conference. John, you've got to face it -- you can't fix stupid, any more than one can fix crazy. Not only are there not enough psychotropic drugs in the world to fix Rump's psychosis, he has a brain smaller than my dog's. The more I see of him on TV, the more respect I have for my dog's intellect. When is the last shoe finally going to drop? What is it going to take?

There will be no fix other than impeachment. Some prominent Republicans probably already know this privately, but they've been slow to step up, condemn this fool and remove him from office. That's what will have to be done, and Robert Mueller and company are working on it. It's time for everyone, including the so-called Grand Old Party, to face it -- this resident is an embarrassment and a joke. I'm no fan of any of the Republican presidential contenders, but they certainly could have done better than this. Even a widely loathed jerk like Ted Cruz would be an improvement. Vice President Mike Pence looks like an empty suit, but that would be better than the sad sack of manure in the Oval Office now.

I sincerely hope Rump's not in the that "dump" the White House at this time next year.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Rump Lies, Hypocrisy Know No Bounds

By Manifesto Joe

Resident Donald Rump declared this week "Made in America" week, again showcasing the lies and hypocrisy on which his entire political career has been built. In his alternative universe, Obama was born in Kenya, a record crowd attended his inauguration and at least 3 million people voted illegally in the 2016 presidential election.

Now he has the nerve to declare "Made in America" week when his daughter's products are made 100 percent in the Third World by 6-year-old girls operating dangerous machines for 50 cents an hour. Rich!

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Nothingburger? Looks Like White House Is Now 'Home Of The Whopper'

By Manifesto Joe

I've been absent from this blog for about seven months now, partly for personal reasons, and partly because I honestly wanted to give Resident Rump a chance. About six months after his inauguration, I'd say it's a chance he's never deserved.

No, he's not the first liar we've seen in the White House. The Clintons were not exactly on great terms with the facts, and that may be exactly the reason Rump is there. Hillary seems to have become like the Nixon of the Democratic Party, not an extremist, but unanimously loathed by conservative Republicans. But hey, at least she's intelligent and experienced in government, as was Nixon. The guy we have there now is, like Nixon, batshit crazy, and possibly even dumber than Il Doofus (Bush 43). For someone who has access to the nuclear codes, that could be a lethal combination. And though he's not the first liar in the White House, he appears to be the worst one. My title does not refer to the size of his hands.

It looks clear now why even the ultra-Republican Dallas Morning News endorsed Hillary last year. This dude is not just a political amateur, he's a stupid one. But then, perhaps he's exactly what the American people deserve. It's not an accident that Jay Leno, back when he was hosting The Tonight Show, had a "man-on-the-street" feature in which he often encountered people who, say, didn't know who the first president of the U.S. was. That's why it's not surprising that 62 million people voted for this no-class imbecile.

It always looked clear that the economic populism that kept coming out of his mouth was bullshit, just faux rhetoric to get Bubba's vote. But I'd hoped that he was crazy like a fox. He's crazy, as the Twitter rants illustrate; but he also makes Shrub Bush look like a genius.

He's probably going to go down with a fight, so not much will get done in Washington for about a year. This man seems to be genuinely convinced of his rightness, which makes the situation that much more frightening. I just hope he leaves the Oval Office before much more damage is done.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas

Monday, December 12, 2016

Rump May Make Russia Great Again

By Manifesto Joe

Each day seems to bring new confusion. I've never been a fan of the CIA. As an organization, it doesn't appear to understand the simple concept of "blowback," instead embracing myopic "U.S. interests" that see ahead as far as about a couple of days rather than a couple of decades. The 1953 overthrow of a democratic government in Iran is an example. Wow, and now so many folks there hate us? Who could imagine?

But to have a "president-elect" pick a fight with them before even taking office? Not smart.

Resident-elect Donald J. Rump took time from his busy schedule of appointing anti-worker zillionaires, rabid generalissimos and misogynistic kooks to his Cabinet and inner circle to denounce the CIA finding that Russian computer hackers interfered in our presidential election. His reasoning? This is the same entity that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. (That's bullshit -- it was VP Cheney and the neocons who stubbornly forwarded that falsehood.)

This is not a stupid man, but he appears to be disturbed, and he is a dangerous demagogue. His appointments show that he meant absolutely none of the faux populism that he spouted during the campaign. He did not really want the hard work that comes with the presidency -- he'll delegate that to perhaps even more dangerous associates.

The Russian interference with our election was known before Nov. 8, and the electors who are tasked with the smelly job of naming Rump as our next "president" should be briefed on all that the CIA knows about this skullduggery.

Another of Rump's arguments: If "our side" had alleged any of this, it would have been characterized as a "conspiracy theory." But again, evidence of this was known before the election, and mainstream Republicans did nothing. All they cared about was winning.

At best, the country may benefit from the fact that Rump loves to "fight" more than he loves to get things done, so little damage will be done. At worst, he will do grievous damage to the American working class he suckered so badly during the campaign, and he will destroy the Republican Party. The potential exists for things to go either way.

One clear thing has emerged. There are Republicans so dogmatic that they would vote for anybody who got their presidential nomination. I'm not talking about Charles Manson, I mean somebody who would have a serious chance of becoming that party's nominee. Among Democrats, there are voters who would have chosen a given Republican of the time against, say, George Wallace. Wallace, who won some key Democratic primaries in 1972, had a genuine chance. As bad as Richard Nixon could be, I likely would have preferred him to Wallace.

An example of how badly Rump swindled U.S. voters is the issue of NAFTA. That trade agreement, you may recall, split the Democratic Party into two factions in 1993. Rump talked about bad trade agreements on the campaign trail while traditional "free trade" Republicans winked at each other. They knew he was just telling the rubes that to get their votes. They, the GOP establishment, were among the biggest supporters of NAFTA and other such agreements.

In any case, Rump is not even in office yet, and still he's off to a very rocky start. His relationship with Russia's leadership seems to be more important to him than his relationship with those in charge of U.S. intelligence. He doesn't even seem to want an investigation of election tampering to go forward.

Fasten your seat belts -- it's going to be a bumpy ride.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Rump: Couldn't The Republicans Come Up With Somebody Better Than This?

By Manifesto Joe

One thing I've learned in 60-plus years on this planet is that political ideology is not the measure of a person. As a veteran blogger, I've personally known right-wingers who are stand-up folks, and lefties who aren't worth their own shit. And trying to change someone's mind on politics is like trying to change their religion. It tends to be a cognitive thing that one learns from one's parents or other authority figures. Even when it contradicts one's life lessons, you see people cling to those beliefs.

I tend to avoid judging people by ideology, or by religion, because such beliefs are often not the barometer by which to judge. And as a student of history, I have seen that people with whom one disagrees can turn out to be great world leaders. Winston Churchill comes to mind. He was widely regarded in 1920s Britain as the Rush Limbaugh of his time, a right-wing pundit with no hope of liberal redemption. In the late 1930s he stepped up to the plate, and is now rightly regarded as a great statesman.

But Donald Trump?

No f-----g way.

I've tried very hard to give this man the benefit of the doubt, but there can be little doubt now. He's determined to elevate pond scum like Steve Bannon to exalted heights; and even after his campaign rhetoric about "draining the swamp," he's surrounded himself with bottom feeders like Rudy Guiliani and Newt Gingrich. His faux populism has proved to be just that -- bullshit to get Bubba to vote for him.

He may yet surprise me, but I sincerely doubt it. Yes, Hillary Clinton would likely have proved to be just more of the same. But this election's outcome could actually ruin the Republican Party, which is an institution America needs as a legitimate center-right destination.

The Republican Party had 16 other possibilities for their presidential nominee, and Rump (sorry, I keep calling him that) laid waste to each and every one of them in the GOP primaries. Couldn't a venerable institution like that have come up with someone better?

I sincerely hope he proves me wrong, but I doubt it. The "transition" already looks like a debacle. I fear that the American people have been conned by a master con artist. Stay tuned.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Donald Trump's Amerika: Love It Or Eat It

By Manifesto Joe

My sense of fairness compelled me to hold off on attacking Donald Trump, at least for a while. I actually thought he might change as the nominee of a major political party.

Might as well wait for the next glacier to move through Texas. The latest Trump travesty was him lamenting about how well the Manhattan bomb suspect was being treated in the hospital, that he will be represented in court by a good lawyer (perhaps), etc.

Essentially, Trump was suggesting to his neo-Nazi admirers that he thinks that the U.S. should suspend constitutional rights for certain terrorism suspects. Perhaps Mr. Trump should move somewhere like Russia, where no such rights would be extended to much of anyone perceived as a threat to the established order.

What Mr. Trump seems to believe is that the U.S., in order to oppose those who would impose a police state on Americans, should establish its own style of police state to combat such an ideology. The absurdity of this should be evident to all who have learned how to use their thumbs.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton has been catching shit over characterizing half of Mr. Trump's supporters as "reprehensibles." She said later that she regretted using the word "half" in her statement.

I'd say she should have said two-thirds, or perhaps three-fourths. Mr. Trump has put together a coalition of "alt right" kooks, including white supremacists, gun nuts, xenophobes, homophobes and other assorted crazies who recall the pre-1940 right-wingers who listened faithfully to radio broadcasts by Father Coughlin.

Hillary Clinton is a hero to few. She comes across as a typically corrupt politician, better than some, worse than others. But at least she is, at worst, "the devil we know."

Can the country afford four years of the devil we don't know?

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Donald Trump's Big Gamble

By Manifesto Joe

The mogul of Atlantic City is doing some high-stakes gambling these days. And if he wins, the country is likely to lose -- BIG.

I didn't consider Donald (T)rump to be all that dangerous, even amid the comparisons to Hitler and such -- until last Thursday night. I thought of him in terms of a corrupt buffoon, akin to Silvio Berlusconi, the former Italian prime minister and media mogul. But after his dark acceptance of the Republican Party nomination for the presidency, I had second thoughts.

Trump has supporters who resemble Nazis in their pugnaciousness and not-so-subtle white supremacy, and he does nothing to discourage them. He actually said he doesn't know enough about the KKK to refute David Duke's endorsement of him. Describing himself as the "law-and-order" candidate, he's taking many pages out of the campaign playbook of the late Alabama Gov. George Wallace, and he's proving much more successful than Wallace was. He's put together a coalition of bigots, rednecks, gun nuts and other assorted psychos, and if he can get them to the polling places (some perhaps for the first time) in November, he could very well be elected president. After his convention speech, he was leading in the polls.

The Republican Party, the establishment of which seems a bit stunned by Trump's success, brought this on themselves. As far back as the Goldwater bid for the presidency in 1964, the GOP has catered to Southern bigots. Nixon extended the party's "Southern strategy" in 1968 and 1972, and by the time Reagan was the nominee in 1980, the South was solidly in the hands of the GOP. The Republicans have done all they could to court this type of voter -- working-class right-wingers who embrace a single issue, whether it be abortion, gun rights, or something else.

Now they've taken control of the party, like a Frankenstein monster, and the Republican Old Guard -- the economic royalists who used to call all the shots -- had no one on hand to back Donald Trump down.

If he ends up losing and destroying the Republican Party "coalition" of rednecks, the party moguls have no one to blame but themselves.

But what if he wins? Polls indicate that it's possible. And this fellow isn't merely stupid, like Il Doofus (Bush 43) appeared to be. This is a cunning megalomaniac with no apparent regard for the facts. Media observers pointed out that his bloviation on crime was false, with statistics showing that violent crime has declined since Obama became president. Yet he stands by everything, as usual.

One saving grace for the country may be his inexperience. As a political amateur, his mishandling of the GOP convention and of his own campaign may indicate that a Trump administration wouldn't go the distance. Politics is a contact sport not played well by amateurs, especially at the national and international levels.

But how much damage could he do in the meantime? As distasteful as I sometimes find Hillary Clinton, she's probably got my vote, because I don't care to find out how much damage Trump can do.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

From Joe's Vault, November 2012: Does Donald Trump Belong In Jail For Suggesting 'Revolution'?

By Manifesto Joe

I'm pretty much of a First Amendment purist. No matter how contemptible the speech is, in the good ol' U.S. of A., it's supposed to be free, and protected by law.

But a question now nags me. If Romney had won the presidential election, and someone with the background of, say, Bill Ayres, tweeted something suggesting "revolution," do you think he would be getting a visit from the Department of Homeland Security before long? I think it's quite possible that he would.

Donald Trump has a long history of being hostile to President Obama. He was one of the main instigators of the "birther controversy," and he persists in this behavior even after Obama won re-election.

And a recent tweet from him was reported this way in

Donald Trump has no regrets when it comes to his so-called Election Day Twitter rant in which he claimed the United States was not a democracy and called the election "a sham and a travesty." He later went on to say "More votes equals a loss...revolution!" and "The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy."

Trump says he has no regrets about this. Here's a link to the complete story.

Was Trump genuinely advocating a violent revolution to overthrow the U.S. government, because the election didn't go the way he wanted? Only "The Donald" could tell you for sure what was going through that privilege-numbed skull of his. I'm just judging by what he said on Twitter, and he's standing by it.

If he's not backing down, perhaps he ought to be put under Homeland Security surveillance. I wouldn't advocate that he go to jail, at least not now. That would just make a "martyr" of him.

If Romney had won, and it were Bill Ayres tweeting such things, I think there'd be agents staking out his house.

But Trump, being a right-wing billionaire, probably isn't going to have to answer to anyone for his reckless remarks. Stay tuned.

Postscript: Rock guitar has-been Ted Nugent tweeted that Obama's supporters were "pimps whores & welfare brats." Wow. Are there really over 61 million of us? Check out the cartoon at the link.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Friday, July 15, 2016

From Joe's Vault, May 2011: Bin Laden Isn't Qualified To Be Dead Until Donald Trump Sees The Death Certificate

By Manifesto Joe

This May 2, 2011, blog post came to mind recently, as Republicans prepare to anoint birther-in-chief Donald Rump (er, Trump) as their presidential nominee. The question I would ask is: With so much horror happening in the world now, can the U.S. afford to have a neo-fascist buffoon like this man as president? Oh well, here goes, from over five years ago:

The problem is, how would we know that it wasn't a fake?

I guess that means that "The Donald" and all the rest of us will have to see the bullet-riddled body. But if the face has been shot to pieces, how would we know that Special Forces didn't just dredge up some 6-foot-4, skinny Arab for target practice? How would we know that Osama isn't actually still alive, scarfing hummus and falafel and advising that closet Muslim in the White House?

Well, by now I suspect you get the point of this sarcasm.

Any credit here for Obama?

Barack Obama seemed downright presidential Sunday night while announcing this big score of scores. But will he get any credit? If you watch Fox "News" during the next week, I'll bet that Il Doofus gets much more credit than Obama will. And Bush 43 couldn't get this guy for over seven years -- in fact, Bush diverted U.S. attention away from bin Laden and the Afghanistan-Pakistan region with his rogue-nation invasion of Iraq. That cost this country countless billions, some of which should have been focused on a terrorist network that actually attacked us. And according to some estimates, it cost over a million Iraqi lives.

I hope that the American people have sense enough to know that this day should have come much sooner, and likely would have, if the country's priorities hadn't been grotesquely and viciously distorted by ruthless, self-serving people.

This post is going to strike some people as irreverent and brutal. Sometimes honesty has an unfortunate way of sounding like that.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Why Is Bernie Sanders Doing This Well?

By Manifesto Joe

At 74 going on 75, he's too old to run for president. He's a rumpled old senator from a small state, and the only avowed socialist in the Congress since Ron Dellums retired. He's an unremarkable speaker with a heavy New York accent. And he's unlikely to win the Democratic nomination for president even if he does well in forthcoming primaries, because the party machinery (soft delegates) has pretty much decided that Hillary Clinton is going to be the nominee.

So why is Bernie Sanders doing this well? It's simple.

The recovery from The Great Recession didn't reach us all. The two groups that are suffering still are the Twentysomethings saddled with steep college debt and no jobs to pay for it, and the Fiftysomethings and Sixtysomethings who have too much experience and gray hair to be marketable. When Bernie talks about billionaires hiding their wealth, about big banks and megacorporations that take and take, and just keep on taking, the old fart is the only one talking the talk. And for those who aren't sure how they are going to make the next mortgage payment or make enough as a barista to keep from defaulting on the loans, well ... those people are listening.

The leak now known as the Panama Papers is only where the story begins. America's super-rich have been finding offshore tax havens for decades, and more names will surface. A 2014 Senate subcommittee report estimated that $150 billion a year in U.S. tax revenue disappears at offshore havens. Bernie is the only presidential candidate talking about this thievery; he's addressing an issue that nobody else, including Hillary, is talking about. The explanation for this is probably simple -- Bernie isn't getting money from any of the fatcats he's attacking. All the other candidates, including Hillary, are. Bernie's money is mostly coming from the hard-earned paychecks of "little" people.

The biggest reservation I have about the Sanders candidacy is that, even if Bernie were by some miracle to win, he would be unable to act on his rhetoric. "Our lawyers can beat up your lawyers," is likely what Bernie would hear if he were in a position to challenge the big banks. This is perhaps subversive talk, but I think it's going to require a Second American Revolution, i.e. violence, to right the wrongs that have surfaced in recent decades. The super-rich are simply not going to give up all that money and all those privileges without a fight. And they have the means to win a lot of battles.

But there's a long war coming, and the Sanders candidacy and its unexpected success is only an opening salvo. Capitalism as we know it is headed for a crisis -- this economic system simply can't automate and offshore jobs at the current rate and still have a population that can afford to buy the goods that the system is capable of producing. "Say's Law" is bullshit; supply does not always create its own demand. Our society is about to learn this; and sadly, it's probably going to be the hard way.

In any case, as lackluster a politician as he is, Bernie's the only presidential candidate this year who's really talking the talk. With Hillary, Americans are likely to just get Bill Clinton redux. That's better than nothing; but with disaster looming, it's probably just postponement of the inevitable explosion.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

From Joe's Vault, April 2011: Tax Time Again

By Manifesto Joe

In the five years since this post first appeared, I've gotten in trouble with the IRS. Looks like I may end up getting an attorney before this is over. Conservatives may laugh, but hey -- if not for your moronic Iraq War, and your giving zillionaires and big corporations a tax pass, perhaps I wouldn't owe so much.

BTW, I didn't post for a few months, but I've been busy with a little thing called life. One week ago I got out of the hospital after surgery and am recovering at home. I finally have a lot of time on my hands, so I'm back on the blog trail.

Without further ado, this is from April 15, 2011:

The Republicans just don't get it, and it looks like they won't in the foreseeable future. With 40 cents of every federal dollar spent now being borrowed, they want to give yet more tax bonanzas to the rich while essentially abolishing Medicare and Medicaid.

This isn't what Americans voted for in 2008. A lower percentage of them, those who bothered to vote in 2010, voted for such folly whether they knew it or not.

The numbers cry out for a tax hike on the wealthy.

When one talks to earners at the upper-middle level, they are quick to point out the marginal rate of 35%, arguing that with progressive tax brackets, many of them end up paying more than lower earners as a percentage. (That's what comes of a steady mental diet of Fox News. That stuff rots brains.)

Yet such people seem to get amnesia when one points out that just 10 or so years ago, when the marginal rate was 39.6%, the U.S. was running a surplus. This was no accident. Even with the modest Clinton tax hike on the rich that barely passed in 1993, we didn't have the structural deficit we have now.

And the Mainstream Media are quick to obfuscate, talking to selected economists who keep telling the victims that raising taxes on the rich won't be enough. And who owns the MSM? Giant corporations -- and how much income tax do they pay?

Two-thirds of corporations pay no income tax

That's not news -- the first of the stories broke in 2008. Here's a link to one of them.

Although it's not news, many people don't seem to "get it," so it bears repeating, and repeating some more. Most of these "legal persons" are getting a free ride. They use the infrastructure (such as it is now), and have vast resources to fleece ordinary, unsuspecting victims out of many billions, yet they pay nothing.

In case you thought I was joking, here's a link to a more recent story about this, courtesy of Alternet.

In their 1990 book America: What Went Wrong?, investigative journalists Donald Barlett and James Steele cited IRS statistics that show that, in 1959, corporations accounted for 39% of federal tax revenue. By 1989, that was down to 17%. And it's probably gotten worse since then.

Here's a brief roll call of Corporate America's tax slackers:

General Electric -- Last month, The New York Times reported that, in addition to paying no federal income taxes this year, GE, the largest U.S. corporation, is to get a tax credit of $3.2 billion. GE made $14.1 billion in profits in 2010, $5.1 billion of which came from its U.S. operations. The story was conspicuously absent from NBC News, part-owned by General Electric.

Goldman Sachs -- Bloomberg News, in December 2008, reported that Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which got $10 billion and debt guarantees from the U.S. government in October, expects to pay $14 million in taxes worldwide for 2008 compared with $6 billion in 2007. The company’s effective income tax rate dropped to 1 percent from 34.1 percent, Goldman Sachs said. The firm reported a $2.3 billion profit for the year after paying $10.9 billion in employee compensation and benefits. U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, a Texas Democrat who serves on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, said steps by Goldman Sachs and other banks shifting income to countries with lower taxes is cause for concern. "This problem is larger than Goldman Sachs," Doggett said. "With the right hand out begging for bailout money, the left is hiding it offshore."

ExxonMobil -- In March 2010, Forbes magazine reported that the oil giant, "which last year reported a record $45.2 billion profit, paid the most taxes of any corporation, but none of it went to the IRS":

Exxon tries to limit the tax pain with the help of 20 wholly owned subsidiaries domiciled in the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands that (legally) shelter the cash flow from operations in the likes of Angola, Azerbaijan and Abu Dhabi. No wonder that of $15 billion in income taxes last year, Exxon paid none of it to Uncle Sam, and has tens of billions in earnings permanently reinvested overseas.

Mother Jones magazine noted that, despite benefiting from corporate welfare in the U.S., Exxon complains about paying high taxes, claiming that it threatens energy innovation research. It was noted at the Wonk Room that big corporations' tax shelter practices similar to Exxon’s shift a $100 billion annual tax burden onto U.S. taxpayers.

This list could grow to tedious proportions. You should get the picture by now.

Let's start sharing some sacrifice

Nobody likes to pay taxes. I owed the IRS far more than I expected to this year, and will probably be until fall paying it all off. But when some common slob like me is paying Uncle Sam more, year after year, than GE is, then there must be something dreadfully wrong with this system.

But alas, our Republican brethren still don't get it. They are promoting the idea of still more tax bonanzas for the wealthy. And, although a corporation enjoys the status of a "legal person" in our psychopathic system, two-thirds of them pay nothing, and even get refunds and billions in corporate welfare on top of that.

The latest news on this was from The Associated Press. It's not just corporations that are the problem. About 45% of U.S. households will pay no income tax at all, thanks to all the breaks that people, especially the super-rich, are getting.

It should be clear, if one looks at the numbers honestly, that our structural deficit has much more to do with what needs to be raised than with what needs to be cut.

Yet, the Republicans persist in their policies of the past 30-plus years, to defecate all over ordinary people while cutting sweet deals for their rich campaign contributors. And the Democrats haven't been very much better. Even President Barack "Change you can believe in" Obama hasn't been nearly candid enough on this issue.

So, what is to be done? Giant corporations and the super-rich clearly have politicians by the balls and have been gaming the system accordingly for the past 30-plus years. What can an ordinary person do?

(1) Stop believing the MSM. They obfuscate, and sometimes outright lie. And that shouldn't be surprising, given that they are generally owned by the very corporations that have been getting a free ride.

(2) Vote in the primaries. This is where people can get real Democrats, not just more corporate lackeys, to be candidates in the general election. The one positive that came out of the 2010 midterm debacle was that now, the Democrats left in Congress are more progressive on these kinds of issues. Ironically, it was largely the "Blue Dogs" and Democrats-in-name-only who went down in defeat to Tea Party challengers.

(3) Vote in the general elections. As frustrating as DINOs can be, and as agonizingly placating as Obama has been, we're better off with them than we are now, with right-wing Republican ideologues writing the agenda. President Clinton, Republicrat though he often was, presided over the last balanced federal budget, and that was largely because he demanded that the rich pay at least a modestly higher percentage of their hefty incomes in taxes. And back then, there was little talk of privatizing Medicare.

(4) General strike. In contemporary America, it will be very hard to float this idea. But if most of the work force in this country were willing to "sick out" just one day, and a few spokespeople made clear to the powers that be that this was an organized protest, it might perk up some ears.

This country is far from broke. The trick is going to be getting the rich slackers who have the bucks to fork some of them over. There are people out there who have it -- but they aren't going to let go of any of it without a fight.

Just pay your taxes today, chumps. Serious training starts tomorrow.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Republican Party Deserves Trump

By Manifesto Joe

It's hard for me to spell his name with the "T." "Rump" is more descriptive.

For nearly 50 years, the Republican Party has leaned on a "Southern strategy," as it was called during Richard Nixon's successful run for the presidency in 1968. That year the choice for rednecks was between Tricky Dick and George Wallace, and a good many chose the latter. But the strategy was articulated, and it had been there already. Recall that Barry Goldwater had his main electoral success in the Deep South, where he won five states in an otherwise disastrous try for the presidency in 1964. The reason was his overt appeal to segregationists with his opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

All through the 1970s, '80s, '90s, and onward, the basic thrust of the Republican Party was to lend as much legitimacy as possible to ignorant xenophobes. And so it should come as no surprise to Republicans that the front-runner for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination is such a person, and a proven liar at that.

It has been no secret in politics that the Republican Party has been systematically and relentlessly pulled toward the right for decades. Voices of liberalism or even moderation -- former Sens. Jacob Javits, Clifford Case, Edward Brooke, Jim Jeffords and others -- were eliminated from the party, one by one. By 1976, even a stolid tory like Jerry Ford was regarded as a moderate. The current second-place hopeful after Trump, Ted Cruz, won election to the U.S. Senate in Texas by portraying sitting Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst as a liberal!

Yeah, Dewhurst is about as liberal as Paul von Hindenburg was in comparison to Hitler.

There's no mistaking where Cruz stands on the issues. His Ivy League professors described him as "brilliant," but that may mean that he's simply that much more dangerous. His difference with Rump, er, Trump, is less on policy than on the fact that Trump is in the way of something that Ted Cruz wants. Cruz, however "brilliant," is still an extreme right-winger, and the fact that he's the party's main alternative to Trump speaks volumes about what's happened to the Republican Party.

True, Rump, er, Trump isn't a "genuine" conservative. There's a lot of angry "populism" there; it's been accurately pointed out that he has borrowed his campaign playbook largely from that of George Wallace decades ago, and that the type of "voter" he appeals to is similar. In other words he appeals to ignorant, xenophobic rednecks who don't care how many lies he tells, those who revel in his bigotry, racism, misogyny and bellicose foolishness, and those who are just more likely to punch perceived foes out as one hears more and more comparisons to the 1934 Nuremberg Rallies.

The remaining question in the 2016 contest appears to be whether Rump, er, Trump, can win on the first ballot at the GOP convention. If he can't, he'll tear the Republican Party apart, and these assholes will ultimately have no one to blame but themselves.

I think it was P.T. Barnum who said something to the effect that nobody ever lost a dime underestimating the intelligence of the American people. A conservative friend of mine once advised that I knock on some doors and ask political questions. I would venture that about 70% of the time, I would get somebody too stupid to have bothered with. And I'd have to make sure I didn't knock on the door while "Wheel of Fortune" was on, so as not to disturb the highlight of their day.

These are the people who, in the absence of Rump, er Trump, would be unlikely to even vote. With Trump in the "race," they will turn out. Let's just hope that we're not being coaxed into Nazi-style salutes before it's over.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Though American Interference May Have Created It, ISIS Will Have To Be Destroyed

By Manifesto Joe

The Islamo-fascists of ISIS, I have no doubt, are essentially a creation of Western, and particularly American, interference in the Middle East. I confess to being somewhat "neo-isolationist" to the extent that I regard anti-U.S. "blowback" as the major cause of our troubles in that region now. I am thoroughly sympathetic with President Obama's reluctance to put American "boots on the ground" in the Mideast, especially since most Americans (not me) got suckered into an expensive and needless war there back in 2003.

But the terrorism that we've seen in the past several days has underscored a point that can't be evaded any longer: These ISIS people are madmen who must be annihilated much the same way that German Nazis and their fascist allies had to be smashed during World War II.

War takes a terrible toll on its participants, and it should always be regarded as a last resort. My old man won five Bronze Stars in the Pacific Theater of World War II, and he was never wounded physically, but the toll it took on him psychologically was pretty obvious.

I was one of those obnoxious little kids in the early 1960s who kept asking, "What did you do in the war, Daddy?" The old man would give me his best Gary Cooper impersonation -- "Oh, not much, son."

I didn't realize until decades later, until after he'd died prematurely, that the war was an experience that he really didn't want to talk about. He did tell my mother about at least one incident -- a Japanese soldier who'd been hiding in the jungle came into his tent one night. The Japanese soldier had a bayonet. There was some hand-to-hand. Ultimately my old man took the bayonet away from the Japanese soldier and stabbed him with it.

That sort of experience leaves terrible scars on people, scars that they carry with them long after they come home. I still don't know what most of my Dad's Bronze Stars were for, and at this point I don't want to know.

Having seen what the effect on people can be, I am generally opposed to war. But I'm not a pacifist. Wars, like fistfights, on rare occasions become necessary.

In Germany the Nazis arguably were a direct product of the harshness of the Versailles Treaty. The Allies who came out on top in World War I largely wanted payback, and they made the German people suffer a lot for being on the losing side. Some of the German veterans -- one Adolf Hitler among them -- were unhappy with the terms of defeat. And when they rose again, they did so with an insanity seldom rivaled in human history.

Similarly, I fear that it was American meddling that was instrumental in creating the ISIS fanatics. But they are viciously enslaving those who live under their dominion, and they are destroying antiquities and art that can never be saved or duplicated. Then there is their terrorism. These are, to the point, crazy pieces of shit who will have to be utterly defeated. Until that happens, we won't have the luxury of debating their origins. We are at war. It's sometimes that simple.

Once the Nazis were beaten, the West could analyze what created them. Sadly, no lessons were learned from history that time, and they probably won't be this time. And we're probably going to have to ally the U.S. with some clearly unsavory characters, like Russia's President Puto -- yeah, I know, it's Putin. It wouldn't be the first time the U.S. has held its collective nose in wartime. The Soviets under Stalin were "allies" during World War II.

And I cringe to think of the corporate Republicans who will profit off this war, as they have off others. Too bad we can't send them to the front lines. They always seem so enthused about sending the children of the poor there.

But there are times when fighting simply becomes necessary. This looks like one of them.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Futurists Were Wrong About 2 Big Things: Greed And Stupidity

By Manifesto Joe

I confess to be old enough to remember the 1960s and 1970s. The futurists of the time were telling us that by now we Americans would be working 25-hour weeks, with that workload regarded as full time and with the same standard of living, or likely even better.

These bozos got it wrong in a number of very basic ways, but two ways really stand out: (1) greed and (2) human stupidity. Let's consider them one at a time.


The American economy has indeed expanded, and nearly as much as the futurists of the Sixties and Seventies thought it would. I've generally heard estimates that productivity in the U.S. is now roughly a third more than it was in 1980 or so. And yet wages and salaries are generally stagnant, and the old 40-hour week is widely regarded as a schedule for wimps. Most American workers are probably putting in more hours than that, even those who have only one job.

So what happened? It's pretty simple. We're not even talking here about the top 1% -- it's more like the top 0.1%. They raked it in as quickly as it came, and they ushered in a Second Gilded Age.

It's true that not many of us are starving or homeless. I'm certainly not. But a lot of us are having trouble staying current with bills -- I certainly am. And the last time I can even remember getting a cost-of-living raise would have been many years ago. In 2012, I was laid off after not getting a raise for years, then I had to take a pay cut of roughly 17.5% to get a comparable job. I started in this position in January 2013, and I have yet to see a COLA-type raise to this day.

Meanwhile, there's a tiny clan at the top of the U.S. economic pyramid who are prospering as never before. According to a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, Discovery Communications CEO David M. Zaslav makes 1,951 times what a median worker for the company makes. And he's just one example. The article went on:

"Chipotle Mexican Grill came in second, with a pay ratio of 1,522, and CVS Health was third with a ratio of 1,192."

It's not unusual for CEOs nowadays to get over 1,000 times what an ordinary worker is paid. Compare that to back in the 1960s, when futurists were cooking up their wrongheaded predictions for the present. Back then, a typical CEO was being paid about 40 times the earnings of an average worker.

And bear in mind that quite often CEOs are paid that way whether they perform successfully for the company or not.

The Great Recession, which began in 2008 and for some of us never ended, was supposed to finish such trends once and for all. There was government intervention in the economy that was supposed to be, for laissez-faire and supply-side economics, the death knell that they so richly deserved long ago. "We are all socialists now," the MSM rag Newsweek magazine boldly declared.

Tell me another one. There's supposed to have been a "recovery" since The Great Recession, but it's invisible in the lives of ordinary people. Nearly all the gains of the "recovery" since 2008 have gone to the very wealthiest people. Yep -- they pulled it on us again, and politicians like President Barack Obama adopted a pseudo-pragmatic stance and let them get away with it.

The corporate mindset, meanwhile, is quite unchanged. For one example, it is now generally considered a no-brainer that corporate "outsourcing" of labor to cheaper workers in foreign countries has been a failure. And yet it goes on. The lower wages look good on paper, and of course, nobody likes to admit to a mistake. And so most of the customer-service calls that Americans make are answered by Kenny from Bangalore.

It's sad to point this out, but the heavy foreign accents are simply a problem. Half the time I am forced to ask Kenny to repeat himself so that I can understand. I have absolutely no problem with Kenny being able to get a job that he might not ordinarily get, but when I have to spend more time on the phone with him and still sometimes not get the answers I need, productivity suffers. At the risk of sounding "nativist," wouldn't it be better just to hire an American, even at a higher wage, so that understanding can be aided? But no, American wages are too high. And so, outsourcing goes on.

The corporate mindset is such that, when you get to the bottom line, money is everything. But there are fundamental contradictions in that mindset -- and that brings us to Karl Marx, the guy so many economists think is obsolete.

Marx was obviously wrong about a lot of things. But I'd say he was dead-on right about a couple of scenarios that are still in play in 21st-century economics. (1) Capitalism thrives on competition, yet every capitalist seeks a monopoly. (2) Capitalism's success depends on consumer spending, but capitalists try to hold down the wages and salaries of consumers, if not eliminate them altogether, whenever possible.

I vividly recall a conversation I had with a higher-level manager when I was interviewing for a position in my late 20s. "We're all for competition, everywhere else. ... But when somebody comes along and tries to compete with us, we're going to crush them!" I often wondered whether that man ever quite understood the irony of his statement. I got the impression that he'd never even thought about it. People with any real depth rarely advance in corporate management.

There are obviously forces at work that have kept those two long-standing contradictions of capitalism from bringing about its downfall. Monopolies can often be destroyed by technological breakthroughs -- look at the dominion of VHS video rental stores in the 1980s, and see where they are now. And somehow people have always made enough money to buy all the newest gadgets, keeping the consumer economy going.

But we have lived to see a time in which technology is so ubiquitous, machines are at last capable of replacing human workers in vast numbers. When Kenny from Bangalore doesn't answer calls for customer service, what you get is usually an automated system. That such systems sometimes malfunction is good news for IT professionals, but as the systems get better, people won't be needed for those jobs, either. We will all eventually have our time of becoming superfluous.

The seeds are relentlessly being planted for some kind of general human rebellion. The first big explosion will probably occur in about 20-30 years, by which time I expect to be either dead or sucking my meals through a straw with the aid of underpaid, overworked and apathetic caregivers.

The Establishment will win that one BIG -- they have the firepower and the technology to drive any such movement underground for at least a generation, a la Tiananmen Square. The losses for the rebels will be staggering; the rebels will be called "terrorists," and there won't be many places on the globe (can you say Global Economy?) to run to and hide by then.

Another 20-30 years will go by. Then what will happen will be something akin to 1789 in France, or 1917 in Russia. Revolutions generally happen a very long time after their seeds have been planted, and their final results (Napoleon and Stalin) have often been highly detestable.

Which brings us to the second "way" in which the optimistic futurists of the Sixties and Seventies were dreadfully wrong.

Human stupidity

This is the thing that can, or should, be counted on for all seasons, in all times and places. Looking back, there were many opportunities that people had in America and elsewhere to put a stop to what I've been describing. But people have sat dozing in the pan like frogs, as the water slowly boils.

In America the turning point in leadership (or lack thereof) was Reagan. In England it was Thatcher. The disease is still rampant in America today, as an ailing, stressed-out lower middle class looks toward a spoiled megalomaniac like Donald Trump as its savior from Mexican rapists and evil hedge-fund tycoons.

One doesn't have to look far to find millions of people constantly voting against their own interests. When you walk into a convenience store and find a $10-an-hour white male clerk chuckling and nodding approvingly as Rush Lardbaugh rails against "feminazis," a person of any intellectual honesty has to recognize that something is wrong.

Conservatives, of course, count on this. I think it was John Stuart Mill who said something to the effect that not all conservatives are stupid people, "but most stupid people are conservatives." The more sheep who can be led, even to slaughter, the better.

So the disease of blaming the wrong people for problems is still alive and well, and will be for a long time, thanks to stupid people. Rebellion will come about only when enough people become so uncomfortable, for long enough, that they won't be able to get the basic things they need to survive. Only then will they wake up and realize who's done this to them. That didn't even happen during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

By then, when the televised "revolution" finally comes, it will be too late for some people, including me. That's one big reason I don't blog much anymore.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.