Sunday, July 26, 2015

Trump Just Saying What A Lot Of Republicans Really Think

by Manifesto Joe

I don't find it surprising at all that billionaire Donald Trump has pulled out in front of the Republican Klown Kar, with 24% in one recent poll. He's just saying what a lot of Republicans privately think, but seldom say out loud for fear of sounding like ignorant bigots and xenophobes (which, of course, many are).

Trump, whose singular business acumen includes four company bankruptcies, claims that as president he would know how to make America great again. Looking at him I think the trick is to be born rich.

With the recent trip to Laredo, Texas, and the "Hispanics love me" rhetoric, he seems to have taken a page from the playbook of onetime pro wrestler Kinji Shibuya, who made a handsome living playing burly Japanese bad-guy bullies in our homegrown American Theater for the Unwashed. He used "illegal" karate chops in the ring, and such.

"The Mexican people, they love me!" Kinji would exclaim when he would take his rasslin' show to San Antonio back in the 1960s. Hispanics in the auditorium, meanwhile, would be booing loudly and splattering Kinji with beer as he held forth for the cameras. "I eat beans and tortillas every day!" he would bellow.

I suspect that the Donald has been to a Taco Bell drive-thru in his limo, so perhaps that qualifies him as having a unique understanding of Hispanics in America.

Meanwhile, GOP presidential hopeful Ted Cruz seems to be trying to out-Donald the Donald himself. Calling Mitch McConnell a liar certainly isn't going to get him anywhere in the Senate hierarchy, so the junior Texas U.S. senator appears to be trying to steal the headlines away from Trump.

The Republican Klown Kar seems to grow more crowded each day, but Trump now appears to be the leader in the polls. With all the money and power to be found on that side of the aisle, I suspect that such folks have the means to derail the Donald before he even gets close to the GOP nomination, and I suspect that the Republican establishment will knock off Cruz as well.

But for several more months, it should make for a wonderful show.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Monday, June 1, 2015

"Mad Max": The New Dark Ages Are Here

By Manifesto Joe

I went to the new "Mad Max: Fury Road" movie expecting a masterpiece. It got a 98% "fresh" rating from the Rotten Tomatoes critics, and was shot by the same director who popularized the franchise, the same Australian director (George Miller) who directed "The Road Warrior (1981)," which was indeed a masterpiece.

I have never been more disappointed by a film in my entire life, and I've seen one hell of a lot of movies. It was a mediocre action film, very light on story and very heavy on fiery crashes and vehicle chases.

When a movie like this can get that kind of rating from Rotten Tomatoes and have the word-of-mouth endorsements it had (everybody I know who's under 35 talked about how good it was), we have, I'd say, finally arrived at The New Dark Ages that have been discussed here and there.

This was a two-hour video game, with barely enough story to give it an excuse for being a movie. The stars were attractive enough, but there was virtually no script.

I honestly can't remember when I've seen anything that one could dignify by calling it a movie. "Danny Collins" left theaters here after one scant week -- I've heard that it might have qualified. Didn't get a chance to see it. Would have to have driven 146 miles to see it after it closed here after one short week.

Not that this is anything new -- I was one of very few people who seemed less than enamored of the 1977 "Star Wars" movie, and yet everyone carried on about it as though it were "Citizen Kane." That one movie seemed to usher in the Lucas-Spielberg "whiz bang" school of filmmaking, in which having a credible story and characters took a clear back seat to car chases and stunts.

And yes, I've seen the "Mad Max" reviews that talk about the film's empowerment of women. Having Charlize Theron look intense, get her head shaved and flex her muscles (well, the ones she had left -- the character was a bit of an amputee) doesn't compensate for the lack of a script. I've also seen the comparisons of "Star Wars" with those silly Joseph Campbell mythology arguments in its favor, and that didn't make it seem any less like a Buck Rogers show to me. (Where was Buster Crabbe?) Fun, yes, but a great film?

Ever notice how many movies nowadays are made with comic books as their source material? "Funny-book movies?" I've certainly noticed this, and it seems no accident.

I've long had a cocaine theory about corporate backing of movies. When you get enough middle-aged men in a room with enough cocaine to get everyone high, well ... you get this kind of decision-making.

Standards -- of any kind -- have been undermined so badly that The New Dark Ages are upon us. No wonder there are so many Republicans roaming about.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

On Jade Helm 15, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Panders To Right-Wing Kooks

By Manifesto Joe

I suppose it should come as no surprise, but Texas' new governor, Greg Abbott, is a politician made up of as much pond scum as his predecessor, Rick "El Pendejo" Perry. Abbott's reaction to Jade Helm 15, the military exercise planned for Texas and other parts of the Southwest, is ample evidence of that.

Abbott put out an announcement that he will have the state National Guard keep an eye on the Jade Helm exercise, an apparent response to kook right-wing Internet rumors that the purpose of the exercise is to take over Texas.

Abbott was supposed to have been a politician made up of better stuff, at least ethically, than El Pendejo. His Democratic opponent last year, former state Sen. Wendy Davis, is a politician who has been haunted by ethics questions, and remains so. Skeptical Democrats were told that Abbott, then state attorney general, was made of better stuff as a person, whether we agreed with him ideologically or not.

Tell me another one. Abbott's reaction to the right-wing mania about Jade Helm 15 appears to be a way for him to hang on to the votes of the Kook Right, yet have an escape valve to disavow them if push comes to shove among the state's "moderate" or mainstream Republicans.

One doesn't win the votes of Texas Republicans, at least not enough of them to win statewide nominations, without the support of the tea party and other Kook Right elements. Ask former Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who lost races to both Ted Cruz for U.S. Senate and Dan Patrick for re-election as lieutenant governor. No sane person is going to mistake Dewhurst for a liberal. Yet that is what Cruz and Patrick, both tea party faves, painted him as. And with electoral success. Cruz is now at work enraging the Republican establishment in the Beltway, and he is running for president. Patrick is busy selling a Religious Right agenda while presiding over the Texas Senate. Dewhurst is out of office, still enjoying his multimillions.

Abbott, we were often told, was going to be different. But how is he holding the state's crazed Republican Party together? In part, by not flat-out telling the tea partiers and others on the Kook Right what raving lunatics they are -- for example, over their demented rumors about Jade Helm.

None of this should come as a surprise. When one reads the state platform of the Texas Republican Party, they advocate just about every extreme right-wing cause, perhaps stopping just short of unleashing Chiang Kai-shek's musty remains on mainland China. This is one of the craziest Republican organizations in the U.S., and that's saying plenty.

Abbott is just one more Texas Republican politician, and a typically ugly one at that. Go ahead and group him in with Cruz, Patrick, and crazed Congressman Louie Gohmert, while we're at it. He's swimming in their water, for sure.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Why Do Right-Wingers Lie So Much? The Facts Don't Matter To Them, But Goebbels' Big Lie Does

By Manifesto Joe

It's hard to figure out how to begin this post, because the BS is so deep. One of the problems with the Internet is that any psychopath with a broadband connection can circulate swill all over cyberspace. The U.S. political right wing has developed a specialty in this. They are shameless liars.

One screed that's been traveling about the Web is called "Two States in the Middle of America." The "comparison" is between Illinois (Now Obama's home state, of course) and Oklahoma (home to half-witted climate-change deniers like Sen. James Inhofe). The fallacies run throughout this piece of manure (like manure), but I'll point out a few of them:

(1) The screed alleges that a teacher in Chicago makes an average of $110,000 a year. The real figure is $66,000 a year (Source: Indeed).

(2)"In the last six months, 292 killed (murdered) in Chicago, 221 killed in Iraq; AND Chicago has one of the strictest gun laws in the entire US."
FACT: The Chicago murder rate has dropped since 2000, from 627 that year to 431 in 2011. (Source:

(3) Throughout this screed, it is repeated that regarding problems in Illinois, "Can't blame Republicans; there aren't any." And yet in the "Chicago chain of command," the governor is misidentified. He's Bruce Rauner, a Republican. He defeated Pat Quinn, the incumbent Democrat.

It would take too long to dismantle this screed point by point, but those are some of the fallacies circulated to people via e-mail. Unfortunately, a lot of people are ignorant enough to believe this stuff when it gets in their e-mailbox.

For a good rundown on yet another recent source of right-wing disinformation, check out, the post of 3/19, titled, "Why Rick Santorum's 'Holy War' Sells In SC."

There was a strange tirade directed at Santorum during his appearance at a national security forum in West Columbia, S.C. Virginia Ellisor, a former schoolteacher, was given the microphone to pose a question to the former Pennsylvania senator.

After an intro that was just standard Republican nonsense, she kept going, bellowing into the mic: "Why is the Congress rolling over and letting this communist dictator (Obama) destroy my country? ... He's not a citizen. ...

"Obama tried to blow up a nuke in Charleston a few months ago, and the three admirals and generals. He has totally destroyed our military. He has fired all the generals and the admirals who said they wouldn't fire on the American people if they ask 'em to do so if he wanted to take the guns away from 'em. This man is a communist dictator. ..."

Santorum, brave soul that he obviously is, didn't bother to correct this clearly demented woman. Instead, he responded that he was not a sitting member of the Senate at the time and could not be held responsible for anything that was not on his watch.

None of this foolishness is anything new. I tried some years ago, quite in vain, to reason with a person I knew who was a Dittohead, Lardbaugh-listening right-winger. He gave me a document that he got off the Internet alleging that Il Doofus (Bush 43) actually won the 2000 popular vote over Gore. I studied this thing and quickly saw that the Michigan popular vote was wrong by millions, and that this was what this horseshit was based on. This person, of course, was far too stupid to notice this.

Joseph Goebbels, the Nazis' propaganda chief, was a great believer in The Big Lie and its power to sway the common rabble. Our own right wing seems to have learned much from the Nazis, and in so many ways. There are plenty of substantive issues that they could be focused on, such as what was on some of Hillary Rodham Clinton's e-mails while she was secretary of state. But those kinds of factual fishing trips aren't enough. They want a whale of a tale, even if it turns out to be a false one.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Republicans Aren't Interested In Governing -- Look At The Iran Letter

By Manifesto Joe

The letter to Iran was signed by 47 Republican senators. Several, I think it was seven, had the good sense to refrain from signing it. But the letter was an attempt to undercut the foreign policy of a sitting president, sent as Secretary of State John Kerry was negotiating with Iran over curbs on nuclear weapons.

The 47 GOP senators sent this letter to a nation that has been a longtime U.S. adversary. They were obviously motivated by their contempt for President Barack Obama.

If this traitorous action doesn't demonstrate that the Republican Party of today isn't interested in governing, only in power -- I don't know what could be. It shows an abysmal lack of knowledge about the constitutional powers of the presidency, a president whom members of this group have described as "lawless." And yet these ludicrous hypocrites took it upon themselves to anticipate, and even create, foreign policy after Obama leaves office. They are beneath contempt.

This should demonstrate that the vast majority of the Republican Party's high officeholders are unfit for high office. The Democrats don't seem to have any vastly superior alternatives on hand, but it is unimaginable that 47 Democratic senators would have done anything like this during the lame duck presidency of Il Doofus.

The Republicans are unfit for office, and the American people should let them know this, in no uncertain terms, in November 2016.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Hasn't Anybody Heard Of Blowback?

The resilience of the Baghdad government has admittedly surprised me. I didn't expect it to be here by now. One big reason it has survived is that the Islamic State extremists are bigger fools than I thought, as well. They've managed to alienate enough people in the Middle East to ensure that they won't have the success that, say, the communists had in Southeast Asia. I was wrong to compare the Baghdad government to the Saigon government. I admit it.

Plus, the ISIL militants have proved so barbaric in their standard practices that they can't be ignored. It can be argued that they are a direct product of "blowback," of U.S. meddling in the region. But it could be similarly argued that the Nazis were the direct product of the harshness of the Versailles Treaty after World War I. Nazism perhaps could have been avoided, but it ultimately couldn't be ignored. The enormities of Islamic State can't, either.

But what the right wing in America consistently fails to understand is that, to a large degree, this is a Frankenstein monster of our own creation. And it goes back much further than a few years, much further than Il Doofus' decision to invade Iraq, much further than even the Gulf War. When a CIA unit led by Teddy Roosevelt III (Sorry, it was Kermit Roosevelt -- I stand corrected here) overthrew an elected nationalist government in Iran in 1953 and installed the Shah back in power with a "pro-U.S." government, that started us down a slippery slope in the region. Over 60 years later, we've now got a nuclear threat in Iran, and a decidedly "anti-U.S." government that's well-entrenched there. Not to mention clerics who habitually put horns and a tail on all Jews.

At the risk of sounding neo-isolationist, I venture the opinion that the region would generally have been far better off if the U.S. had stayed out, period. I doubt that Islamic State would even exist now if the U.S. had refrained from meddling in the region in the first place. For that matter, the 9/11 attacks might never have happened, among many other unhappy events that perhaps could have been avoided. The radicalization of some elements of Islam are the direct product of Western meddling.

I can't count myself as a big fan of Barack Obama, but I don't think the events of the past 60-plus years are lost on him, and I think he's doing a wise thing so far to confine U.S. involvement to airstrikes and try hard to extricate U.S. ground troops from the region. The 2003 invasion of Iraq was a hideous mistake, but sadly the kind of mistake we'd been making in the region for decades. ISIL must be opposed by force, but it's important not to forget the conditions that created them in the first place.
It's a simple point -- when you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.

Postscript: I took a long hiatus from this blog for a variety of reasons. One is still very much with me -- I don't have a day anymore when I don't have to put out some kind of fire, personally or financially. I think the computer issues are at last solved, so I expect to resume posting regularly. For followers of this blog, I apologize, but I have a life, and this blog was one of many things that had to go on the back burner for a while. Thank you for your patience.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

I'll Be Back -- Vacation, And Computer Issues

A couple of people who follow this blog have contacted me. Let me assure everyone that I'm still alive and intend to post again, but a few things have gotten in the way lately.

1. Life

Believe it or not, even lowly bloggers have lives, and mine has been nothing short of insane for a couple of years now. I haven't forgotten that the blog is here, but I've been so busy with other things that every day of my life lately has been spoken for.

2. Computer issues

There are apparently people in the world who have two things to do: Jack off, and sit behind a computer for 8 hours a day, dreaming up ways to screw up other people's PCs. In a lot of cases the individuals can't really profit in any way from what they are doing, so they aren't even being good thieves. They are just reveling in the act of sabotage. I appear to have become a victim of such people. We have a virus, the "Shockwave" thing, that I can't get rid of. It hijacks and cripples computers. I will probably have to have professional help to get rid of this. Problem is, I can't afford it.

Regardless, I've been watching the Iraq/ISIS situation with interest, and will comment very soon. -- MJ

Friday, June 27, 2014

Put War Criminal Dick Cheney In Jail

I couldn't put this any more eloquently than it's given here:

My sentiments exactly. -- MJ

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Can There Still Be Doubt That Il Doofus' Iraq Invasion Was A Grotesque Mistake?

By Manifesto Joe

Day by day I am reminded of April 1975, when the South Vietnamese "government" was being toppled. President Gerald Ford actually wanted to send U.S. troops back to Vietnam as it became clearer that the South would be unable to survive. Congress, overwhelmingly Democratic after the 1974 midterm elections, said no. Hell no.

This time, a half-Republican Congress seems ambivalent, and President Obama appears to have been bamboozled by the military establishment. As an early opponent of Il Doofus' foolish invasion of Iraq, Obama should know that you can't fix stupid. And among many mistakes Il Doofus made during his abysmal presidency, the Iraq invasion may have been the most imbecilic. That should be clear now.

During the 2002-03 run-up to Il Doofus' folly, I watched in amazement as the American people were misled and lied to again and again. I figured I knew what the motivation was -- oil. Il Doofus and his chief operating officer, The Prince of Darkness, were figuring that they could just send troops in there, have them welcomed as liberators, and then just help themselves to all that cheap oil. Of course, they were dreadfully wrong. What happened was an eight-year war that ended up costing thousands of American lives, ruining tens of thousands more, and killing perhaps over 1 million Iraqis.

Now, three years after U.S. involvement ostensibly ended, we're supposed to be shocked, shocked that Iraq has erupted into sectarian violence, with Sunnis fighting Shiites, etc.? And that the Baghdad "government" could be toppled any day now?

Saddam Hussein was certainly a bad guy, but at least he was the Devil We Knew. His brutal regime was the only glue that held that country together. When he was toppled, the U.S. opened a Pandora's Box that could only end the way it looks like it may end now. Containment of Saddam (as was done with the Soviet Union) would have been the wise thing, but noooo ... Instead, we had to listen to half-baked stories about "weapons of mass destruction."

Il Doofus' adventure in Iraq was a grotesque mistake that will cost Iraqis, plus Americans, for many decades. The U.S. should have left well enough alone in the first place, and renewed involvement now would just compound the error. Let's face it -- we've lost another war. Now let's try not to do this again, ever.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Postscript: It was House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi who referred to the Iraq war as "a grotesque mistake."

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Young Vs. Old: Let's Face Whom The Real Enemy Is

By Manifesto Joe

A recent cover story on the AARP Bulletin focused on the subject of conflict between young and old in America. Other publications, such as the right-wing libertarian "Reason" magazine, would have people believe that the old are ripping off the young. Hey, I want to know where my cut is -- I'm still waiting for all that trickle-down from back in the '80s. (Always felt more like "tinkle-down" to me.)

Anybody who's been unemployed after the age of 50 can tell you that age discrimination is a very real thing in America. If my greed for entitlements is so debilitating to the general economy, and to the young in particular, why am I being pushed toward the door so unceremoniously? At 57, going on 58, death is probably not all that far away, but why am I already being treated like I'm dead? I honestly wouldn't mind retiring now, but I'm too young to get entitlements, and the fucking Republicans are swearing that they are going to repeal "Obamacare," so how am I going to get medical insurance if they have their way?

It's time to confront whom the real enemy is. Corporate capitalism!

Karl Marx was wrong about a lot of things, but I think he was dead-on right about a few. One was the propensity of capitalism, despite repeated attempts at reform, to revert back to its original, primitive, exploitative form. We're seeing it happen now.

The "real enemy" is the plain fact that technology is being used by corporate capitalism to get by with as few living employees as possible, which is probably why our economic "recovery" has been so damned jobless. Every time I try to pay a bill by phone, I'm confronted with an automated system. I often end up having to talk to a real person, but I have to circumvent the automation to have access to one. And that person is usually some poor slob at a phone bank in Bangalore, the cheapest person the outsourcing corporation could get.

I can't see corporate capitalism, in its current form, surviving into the 22nd century. And this has nothing to do with age. Those of us who are over 50 merely expect to be able to collect on a system we've been paying into our whole lives. Those under 30 may resent having to carry us, if you buy the argument of the likes of Texas Gov. Rick "El Pendejo" Perry that Social Security is merely a Ponzi scheme. But there's a hideous irony here. I'm perfectly willing to keep working past 65, if I'm physically able. But can I get a job? Let's go back to the age-discrimination issue again.

After being laid off, I eventually got a job -- after putting out 58 resumes. It took over 6 months, plus the Texas Workforce Commission essentially stealing from me on a legal technicality. I sympathize entirely with the plight of unwanted under-30s. But what is going to happen when you one day become an unwanted over-50?

Let's get down to whom the real enemy is. It's the system, the way it is now. I am well aware that the Soviet model of socialism didn't work, and that the Maoist model fared little better. But the day of change is coming soon. It has to. I don't expect to live to see it -- my generation is too engrossed with the ideological baggage that has brought us to this. But the day of the throw-away workforce will end at some point. When people can no longer buy what they need, they will start taking it. That day is not far off.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

From Joe's Vault, April 2011: Who Wants To Be A Millionaire (And Pay Little Or No Taxes)?

By Manifesto Joe

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.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Prog Rock's Greg Lake Has An Opinion About Punk

Here's the link:

Right here

I always thought the best "punk" rock bands were the ones that came long before there was even a name for the movement. Stones, Kinks, Doors, Who, Stooges, MC5, Flamin' Groovies, etc. The Sex Pistols' one album was a good listen, but the whole thing went downhill quickly after them, with a few exceptions from the likes of Joy Division and The Clash.

There are people who will say that Greg Lake is just a fat 66-year-old man who's bitter because he never got much acclaim. But hey, fat 66-year-olds are entitled to their opinions, too. And ELP, whatever their shortcomings and excesses, were a much better band than most of what I was forced to endure during the '80s and '90s. -- mj

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Wal-Mart's Crocodile Tears Don't Hide Its Greed

By Manifesto Joe

I got a little hot under the collar reading a recent story that quoted Wal-Mart U.S. CEO Bill Simon as saying that if Wal-Mart employees "can go to another company and another job and make more money and develop, they'll be better. It'll be better for the economy. It'll be better for us as a business, to be quite honest, because they'll continue to advance in their economic life."

This from the CEO of a company that pays its employees an average of $8.90 an hour, and forces many to go on food stamps and rent subsidies and low-income children's health programs such as CHIP. And you, the taxpayer, are subsidizing this company, to the tune of $86 million in California alone.

Here's a link to the article. And here's another link to a story about how much this company's predatory practices are costing the taxpayers.

Even more unfortunately, Wal-Mart isn't the only company that engages in low-wage exploitation of desperate workers. It's a prevalent practice in the fast-food industry. Not long ago McDonald's had to wipe egg (McMuffin?) off its face and alter a website where they had the gall to offer advice on how much its poverty-stricken employees should tip an au pair. It would appear that Ronald isn't the only clown who works for McDonald's.

This chipping away at the American middle class hasn't happened by accident. It is the widespread shortsightedness of Corporate America that is doing this.

Henry Ford, certainly no progressive, at least knew one thing about Economics 101: He paid his workers enough money for them to be able to actually buy the product they were making. This is a simple lesson that appears to be totally lost on 21st-century Corporate America.

Karl Marx was pretty clearly wrong about a lot of things, but I can spot one thing that he did see with great clarity. Amid many bids to reform capitalism, it has a nasty habit of reverting back to its original, primitive form.

Americans, in their stoicism and general acceptance of the so-called free market, will put up with this reversion for a very long time. I don't expect to see this New Gilded Age end while I'm alive, since I'm pushing 58 and have health issues.

But there comes a time, anywhere, when people get desperate enough to just start TAKING what they need. I don't see capitalism as likely to survive into the 22nd century, at least not in its current form. An economy has to be for the many, not just for the few. And that is a lesson that I think Corporate America has long forgotten, and will be forced to relearn just a bit too late.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

'Obamacare' Is Helping Many It Was Intended To Help

By Manifesto Joe

I had misgivings about Barack Obama from the start -- that's why I voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary. I doubted that Obama had the Beltway experience that he needed for an effective White House. In many ways, I'd say that has proved to be true.

But my sympathies are largely with Obama now, especially in some of his worst hours. I think the man's heart is generally in the right place, and he's splattered with mud no matter what he does or doesn't do. Now we even have right-wing crazies who think he should bomb Russia over what Putin is doing in Ukraine. After almost 25 years of no Soviet Union, these maniacs, at long last, really want to do a nuke-athon with Vladimir? And over Ukraine, a former Soviet "republic." Give me a break!

That issue aside, the thing the wingnuts seem intent on taking to November with them is the problems with "Obamacare." Granted, it hasn't gone that well, and no such half-assed solution to the U.S. health care dilemma ever will. But one thing that's becoming clearer -- "Obamacare" is better than nothing, and it is largely helping people it was intended to help.

In particular, the 55- to 64-year-olds of America were being seriously left out in the cold when it came to health insurance. During the Great Recession, our corporate masters were pissing their pants to get rid of people in that demographic group -- the soon-to-be-retirees who comprise the most vulnerable of those in the workforce. I know from experience. The bastards swung the ax at me just before I turned 56.

The particular problem with people of that age, people like me, is that certain health problems start to show up at that age; and, with the years and decades of experience in the chosen fields, people of that age actually expect to be paid. Silly, isn't it?

Anyway, a lot of asses hit the pavement during those years, just at the time when the individuals had saved up for retirement, had health issues that would make insurance no option, but they were too young to retire and too young to qualify for Medicare.

Enter "Obamacare." It was nothing great, but it was better than nothing. Here's a link about how people of our demographic have benefited from this program. Oh, and while we're at it, here's another. I was lucky enough to get a job after 27 weeks of unemployment, but not everyone fitting this description was that fortunate.

Of course, there have been two problems that could have been predicted. In many states, the refusal of Republican governors to expand Medicaid has had the effect of actually increasing the prospective number of uninsured people, even with "Obamacare." Gov. Rick "El Pendejo" Perry of Texas has been one of them. He'll certainly never have to worry about getting health insurance, nor will any of his privileged kin.

The other problem is simply that this is a half-assed solution to a double-cheeked problem. People on the right are saying a lot of moronic things, like that they envision a health insurance system that is strictly private and resembles the mandatory car insurance market. Right, as though a seriously ill person can shop around for insurance like some Arab trader. Single-payer, as distasteful as this is to the right wing, looks more inevitable now than ever before. It would, and ultimately will, solve a great many problems.

In the meantime, for those in the 55 to 64 age group, this has proved better than nothing. We should be thankful for small favors.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Being Poor Makes You Stupid

By Manifesto Joe

One hears much talk on the political right about the self-inflicted wounds of the poor, and that economic outcomes are closely tied to one's intelligence. It's a convenient way to justify highly unequal outcomes, and can be made to sound very "noble" with the emphasis on individual responsibility.

But science is finding that it's quite often the other way around. Being stupid may make you poor, yes -- but being poor also makes you stupid.

In a recent study of Indian sugar cane farmers, it was found through cognitive testing that before harvest, when the farmers are poor and struggling as their crops ripen, IQs were about 13 points lower than when the very same farmers were tested after the harvest, when money was ample. Being poor, it appeared, has a significant effect on the intelligence of the very same test subjects.

Here's a link to an article on the overall subject, and this study is referenced.

There are also studies linking mental health issues with poverty. Perhaps self-defeating behavior does create poverty -- but poverty, in turn, appears to create self-defeating behavior. Thus a vicious cycle is born.

I was born into a Southern working-class family that frequently struggled to make ends meet. My father left a promising military career to become a farmer just as the infamous Texas drought of the 1950s dried up the countryside, and then he became terminally ill in the 1960s. His financial fortunes were thoroughly destroyed by chance and/or fate. My mother struggled with mental health problems her entire life, and she was always plagued by her chronically bad financial decisions. Now I suspect that poverty was largely the cause of her problems, not the result of them.

Despite my background, I scored high enough on IQ tests to qualify for membership in the Mensa Society at the age of 26. In view of those recent studies, does this mean that my test scores might have been 13 points higher if I'd been something other than a struggling small-time newspaper reporter?

And would my IQ be higher now if I hadn't been laid off from a metro daily days before turning 56? The effect of the layoff, and its timing, on my finances has been nothing short of devastating. I'll never be able to really retire.

All personal experience aside, the effect that this has is the creation of a permanent underclass -- not only a socioeconomic one, but an intellectual one as well. As it turns out, it appears very much in the interest of the "1 percent" to keep a large bloc of people poor, in any society, for the rich to preserve the privileges they enjoy. Thus we see powerful opposition to increasing the minimum wage.

I've heard the arguments about increases in the minimum wage supposedly being inflationary, and being a job killer. But no empirical evidence supports that. Analyze the wage increases of the past, and one finds no such things. Any such ill effects are more than negated by the boost that poor people get in purchasing power. I've also heard it argued that people who earn the minimum wage are mostly teenagers. Studies have shown that the average minimum wage earner may be as old as 29. Also, try telling that to the typical Walmart "associate," as soon as his or her business with the food stamp office is concluded.

The bottom line is, when there are millions of working poor, those people are busy being absorbed by how to pay rent and bills, and their IQs suffer as a result. Keeps them in their place.

And then, the relatively wealthy can easily blame the victims for their own plight. They are there because they deserve to be there, it's been said. They should show the initiative and shrewdness to improve their individual positions in life.

But science is revealing that this isn't the entire story. And in general, what's strongly implied by these studies is that if people were broadly paid more for their labor, their IQs might increase commensurately.

But you see, we mustn't have the great unwashed rabble getting fancy, unrealistic ideas about themselves. That just won't do.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.