Friday, April 29, 2011

While you were watching the royal wedding this morning...

I'm only kidding. But it's a good thing I'm only kidding. Television news this morning – I toggled between NBC and CNN while I got dressed – was a "vast wasteland" as the late Newton Minnow once put it, of frippery, tomfoolery, and royalty worship.

Hey news viewers, while you were looking at the dowdy hats of the invitees and so-called "news people" (even Meredith Viera was wearing a dumb hat) there was a major shift in diplomatic alliances in Egypt. There were people made homeless by a storm in Alabama. The economy was continuing to "recover" while real people failed to benefit from it, continuing to lose their homes and find themselves unable to get real jobs, or in some cases even "McJobs."

Did I mention that American civilization as we used to know it is slowly slipping down the drain?

But oh, we got to see replays of the first royal kiss. I mean, is that what matters or what?

Send your favorite member of the broadcast media a lump of coal.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bad News For Believers

According to AOL and the Internet, there is 
either no God, or no Heaven,
or none of either. I present the following evidence:
The line beginning with "<<<" describes 
the specific reason your e-mail could not be delivered.  
The next line contains a second error message which 
is a general translation for other e-mail servers.  
Please direct further questions regarding this 
message to the e-mail administrator or Postmaster 
\at that destination.  --AOL Postmaster      
 ----- The following addresses had permanent fatal errors ----- 
(reason: 550 #5.1.0 Address rejected     -
---- Transcript of session follows ----- 
... while talking to >>>
 RCPT To:<> <<< 
550 #5.1.0 Address rejected 550 5.1.1 <>... User unknown 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Don’t envy the super rich. After they’ve stolen all your money … their lives, and their spouses' and their children’s lives will be in grave danger.

Some years ago when The Crank’s Beautiful Girlfriend was still alive, the two of us went down to Ecuador. Our intention was to see the Galapagos Islands, but we also let some travel agent talk us into spending four days in mainland Ecuador, escorted by a private guide.

It turned out that we needed our own guide because the experience was not pleasant. As we soon discovered, Quito is a dangerous place. Even in downtown Quito, we were advised that it was unsafe to cross the street at night. I mean that literally. One night, just as the sun had set, we stepped through the front door of our luxury hotel.

“Where are you going?” the doorman asked.

We pointed to another luxury hotel just across the street, where there was a restaurant we had been told was pretty good.

“I’ll call a taxi for you,” said the doorman.

“But it’s only across the street!”

“It is not safe,” insisted the doorman. He blew his whistle. A taxi pulled up. The doorman held the door open for us.

I thought this was a scam to earn a tip for the doorman and a fare for the taxi. Little by little I became convinced it was something else.

Once we exited the taxi across the street I noticed that the driver waited watchfully until we entered the hotel restaurant on that side. Just as we walked in, he pulled away.

It was the same story on the return trip. Another doorman pleaded with us not to cross the street back to our own hotel, except within the safety of a taxi. And again, the taxi waited until we were inside before driving off.

The super rich get to pay for two armed killers at the door

Then, during a ride through one of Quito’s“nicest” neighborhood, we found ourselves getting driven among the hills above town, past nice-looking but not extraordinary suburban-style houses. Most of the houses had a uniformed armed guard with an automatic rifle standing at the front door. A few houses had two armed guards with automatic weapons.

I asked why a smattering of the houses had two armed guards instead of one,

“Oh,” said are guide, “those are the homes of the super rich.”

And that’s when I saw the future of America’s top ten percent of the population that owns and controls seventy-one percent of the wealth.

No, there will be no revolution against them in this country. No chance of the masses rising up and taking control as they did in Egypt and Tunisia.

We eliminated that possibility ourselves when we eliminated the draft. That insured us that instead of having a citizen-soldier army, like the one that refused to fire on their fellow citizens in Egypt, we would have an army loyal to the people who rule – like in Libya. If you mass to protest in a way that will seriously threaten the power structure, you will die in a hail of bullets. Kent State was just a precursor.

Suddenly to be super rich will be to put your life on the line

Instead, what will destroy the quality of life of the super rich will be the cost of attempting to defend themselves from gangs of ambitious thugs who form little fiefdoms led by ruthless and ambitious criminals who kidnap, torture, rob, and kill in order to survive and amass wealth outside of the power structure.

In short, the thugs who are robbing America of our Social Security and Medicare and product safety and education today will live in fear of even bigger thugs tomorrow.

This is how it is these days in most of Mexico, most of Nicaragua, much of El Salvador – in fact in every one of the impoverished Latin American nations where the top few have all the money and power while the people at the bottom struggle desperately to survive. Here’s travel authority Rick Steves talking about it:

The saddest thing about visiting Managua and San Salvador is experiencing the fear caused by the violence that comes with extreme poverty in a big city. Every major hotel and nearly every business has an armed guard. It's unwise to walk around after dark, especially with a big camera. While you're unlikely to be hurt, the risk is that groups of young thugs might just rob you at knifepoint. I found that, rather than whole safe neighborhoods, there were mostly small islands of safety around malls and fancy hotels. A wealthy tourist (and nearly all tourists here are wealthy, in relative terms) happily pays triple for a taxi that works with the hotels so you know you're safe. You generally hop from one safe zone to another by cab.

The future of super wealth in this country will be a future filled with fear of kidnapping. Fear that gangsters will surround your car and shoot your driver, drag you into a truck, chop off your thumb and send it to your family to show that they are truly sincere about wanting all the cash your relatives can put their hands on.

If it's not you who gets kidnapped, then it will be your son. Or your daughter. Or your wife.

Believe me, the “kidnapping tax” rate will be higher than any income tax that any Democrat has ever called for.

Decapitated heads at your font door

Expect to see decapitated private policemen among those who you hired to protect you. Dead guards lying in pools of blood in front of your bullet-riddled front door. Expect to take your daily drive to the office by a different route each day, preferably in a different automobile each day, to confuse those hoping to kidnap you and torture you.

It boils down to often-repeated history: those who sow unreasonably acquisitive greed will reap a whirlpool of blood.

And all when it would be so easy if you simply accepted a marginal tax rate a few points higher than you pay now, rather than demanding a tax cut while you milk the middle class and the poor for their social and medical security, driving them into penury.

Enjoy your money now, pal. It’s going to be hard shuffling your bankroll to count your wad when your thumbs are chopped off.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

If you were Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York, which half-truth and half-lie would you tell? And should you tell it in a suit or shirtsleeves?

From the “Politicker” Column of the New York Observer comes word that Mayor Bloomberg is “testing” at least two different junk mail packages to see which one does more to support his budget and fading reputation.

One talks about “no new taxes” which sounds nice, until you understand that the “no new taxes” he’s talking about amount to a tax saving for the rich. That would be people like, umm, Michael Bloomberg.

The package also talks about “fighting for new jobs in every borough,” while failing to mention that he plans to put some teachers out of jobs, which amounts to destroying old jobs.

The second package talks about “nearly $2 billion for our schools, while working to keep the best teachers in the classrooms.” That would be nice, if completely true, but again, he’s planning to fire teachers. And since younger teachers earn less than older teachers, what do you want to bet that the “not best” teachers will be mostly older than 50, an age category where new job opportunities are slim?

Clearly the $2 billion isn't a wind blowing a lot of good to most New Yorkers. Mayor Bloomberg knows that compared to his own personal wealth of $18 billion, it's a pittance. Why, I wouldn’t be totally surprised if by the time he retires from politics, Bloomberg will have spent almost a billion bucks just advertising himself.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

How William and Kate’s wedding could help Tea Party Republicans destroy Social Security

It’s no secret there’s a Republican plot afoot to “recklessly slash funding to the Social Security Administration” in an attempt to jeopardize its ability “to get vital benefits into the hands of seniors and people with disabilities and provide assistance to the public.”

But how can they get away with it when so many disabled and older Americans rely on Social Security for their very survival?

In the past, Republicans created distractions. Gay marriage. Gays in the military. Abortion. Any emotional wedge issue that could get some Americans so fired up that some of us would forget about our bread and butter issues.

Now the Republican Tea-Party fringe is having an opportunity handed to it on a sterling silver platter. On April 29th, Prince William and Kate Middleton will be getting married, and our fickle press will turn its full attention, or nearly full attention, to England.

According a piece by Nat Ives in Advertising Age, which follows the networks and the broadcast advertising dollars,

  • “CBS's expansive plans include Katie Couric anchoring the evening news from London for three nights starting April 27”
  • “NBC News has also introduced a free 'Royal Wedding' iPad app with hundreds of photos, more than 40 new and archival news reports, an interactive royal-family tree and a countdown to the wedding.”
  • "Extensive coverage by CNN, which was less than a year old at the time of Prince Charles and Diana's wedding,” has already begun
  • "'…and there's going to be so much hype, it's going to be wall-to-wall Will and Kate,’ said Brad Adgate, senior VP-research at Horizon Media. 'I could see people buying DVRs just for this or HD TV sets for the occasion.'”

And on and on. It’s a perfect opportunity for mischievous Republican bullies to put millions of Americans on a cat food diet by cutting their Social Security while the rest of us are focused on Kate's gown, which fewer and fewer of us could afford, since the middle class and working poor only get get tax increases while the rich get tax cuts.

The Republicans do their thuggish work best when the nation is distracted. This time, it’s the royals who could be doing the distracting.