Wednesday, June 23, 2021
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How long will the jury be out?

They (including all of us) also serve who sit and wait. That would include the intrepid reporters from all media who have covered this thing like hawks, and are now sitting.  This likely will take a while.  I think the first Blago jury spent close to two weeks before being hung.  Close to that amount of time before they convicted him.  

Others have other views and opinions, including my husband of 42 years, who once was sequestered in Alexandria on a drug case, because persons operating, apparently, on behalf of the "defendant" had called up another juror and made threats.  Sadly, they didn't sequester the family left behind:  I got a couple of creepy "heavy-breather" and "hang up" calls.

My point is that jurors, even in simple cases, make sacrifices.  In long, complicated cases, the sacrifices are much greater, both for them, and their families. The McDonnell case is long, complex, with considerable conflicting testimony spread out over five weeks, much of it on points of law that no person who isn't an attorney, a crook or grifting politician in the Old Dominion has any knowledge of.

This could take a while.  They had to listen, get the instructions, retire to the jury room, get to know one another, at least a little, so they could pick a foreperson, whose main jobs are to send out messages, referee, call for votes, and I believe, sign off on the verdicts.

None of this is easy.  

Barbarians At…and Inside the Gates

As the GOP (more on just what exactly, the "party stands for" in a moment) becomes ever more strident, doctrinaire, and enforcing of its orthodoxy not just on itself, but on the rest of us, it sees, somehow, that its power just might be slipping away.

Is it any wonder they're afraid?

A long time ago, someone explained to me that progressives and liberals are always open to doubt, which conservatives exploit, because they are certain they are right. Conservatives harbor no doubt, and deny that anyone else has a right to a different opinion.

All opinions that are not theirs are wrong. Diverging from this group think is treated not just as treason, but as a kind of religious apostasy. I'm surprised they don't physically crucify the transgressors, although anyone who's been at the wrong end of the lashing foul tongue of Rush Limbaugh might have preferred that.

When challenged, even from the inside, the tendency is to circle the wagons and shoot first, without asking any inconvenient questions. Their problem is that they're so busy pointing their "open carry" iron at one another, they're disgusting the mostly silent majority in this country.

We now see the full stinking bloom of their attitude, on the racist side in Ferguson MO but in many other places, mostly undocumented; on the misogynist side, pretty much everywhere; on the side of the poor absolutely everywhere; and are properly appalled.

Some progressives, of the live and let live variety, of which I truly wish to be a part, bear at least a small share of the blame, because we refused to return unfriendly fire with even more unfriendly fire, allowing things like "false equivalency" to bloom, as if some made up notions with no demonstrable basis in fact is equivalent to real facts, faced squarely.

Is the Recession Really Over

Your answer might depend on government data, or your answer might depend on what you see, when you look around. In many cases, these do not agree at all.

If you own stock and bonds, the answer is affirmative. Just check out the results from Wall Street.

For the rest of us, the answer is no.

There is more than one piece of official data, although the one seized upon by the press is called U-3, shown below. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) can only give us what it has. We are now closing in on the 6th anniversary of "the crash," made far worse by the near refusal of the government to do anything to stimulate employment, except on Wall Street, and by the insane implementation of "austerity," except of course for people with money, accompanied by shame and blame of everyone who lost out.

Happy Days might be here again for banksters and Wall Street, but on Main Street, the situation is very different. Six years in on this never-ending awful recession and I can guarantee you - no matter what the Feds say - there never has been a recovery for a lot of people, decent, hard-working people who have worked and saved and contributed to the social good every day of their lives.

All you have to do is to dig past the homogenized pabulum fed to you by the press. I am unable to upload the BLS table, but here is the link:


And here are the notes:

NOTE: Persons marginally attached to the labor force are those who currently are neither working nor looking for work but indicate that they want and are available for a job and have looked for work sometime in the past 12 months. Discouraged workers, a subset of the marginally attached, have given a job-market related reason for
not currently looking for work. Persons employed part time for economic reasons are those who want and are available for full-time work but have had to settle for a part-time schedule. Updated population controls are introduced annually with the release of January data.

U-3 Total unemployed as a percent of the civilian labor force or "Official Unemployment Rate"  is currently at 6.2 percent, down from 7.7 percent a year ago, but nothing to cheer about. This is the one you hear and read about.

But what about all the others didn't get counted in the "official" rate?  These people burned through their unemployment, savings, sold their homes nd pulled every penny out of their savings and IRAs, and are now reduced literally to charity food banks and figuratively to eating cat food heated over Sterno.

They were doing this in the dark because they could no longer afford candles.

These people made good choices and in many cases worked all their lives.

Are they all lazy, shiftless, bums, as some of what passes for our solons frequently claim, usually accompanied by demands that we eliminate unemployment insurance, eliminate the minimum wage, and repeal the ACA?

I do not think so. These include a lot of people who worked hard, paid taxes, and played by the rules who are now considered, because they can't find a job, to be less than garbage. They include the others who

* Have exhausted their unemployment benefits;
* Are working less than full time because they cannot get full time employment;
* Have given up looking, because there are no jobs;
* Have aged into Social Security Status; or
* Have acquired Social Security Disability Insurance.

The BLS has only recently added unemployed military veterans to the list.

When you add all of them in the true unemployment number is a whopping 12.2 percent,  who want (or used to want) jobs that they cannot get, or no longer can physically do.

If you were young when the crash came, you may not have ever been able to find a job that matches your skills.

If you were in your  40s when the market tanked, you may never recover, even if you find those on call, minimum wage, zero hours guaranteed, no benefits jobs and work until the day they drop dead.

If you were in your 50's when the crash came, you stood-in a two income, no kids left at home, no pressing medical problems-a fair chance of at least surviving until you reached minimum social security age.

Many people who were hale and hearty seven years ago - including your author-no longer are.

The final degrading choice is between lying, or exaggerating at the margins about an all too real disability, or starving.

Some choice. As a nation, we ought to be ashamed.  We have lost the capacity to even admit we're ashamed at not being ashamed.  

Bob McDonnell doesn’t care how many lives he ruins, as long as he stays...

While accurate, "appalling" barely scratches the surface of this cess pit of deceit and embarrassment when it comes to former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell.

The Gov. Rolex "failed marriage made me do it" defense goes beyond the pale. He clearly believes that the voters, or in this case the jurors, are morons. He has such a galactic sense of entitlement, he apparently believes that any fraud committed, any lie told, and any action taken to protect himself - no matter who else gets hurt - in pursuit of his Regent's thesis is not just forgivable, but permissible.

This is an embarrassment to the state of Virginia, made far worse by the fact that we have effectively been forced to contract out law enforcement to the federal government. So much for the "Virginia Way."

The former governor is a convincing, compelling, and accomplished golden-tongued, bald-faced liar. I campaigned for Creigh Deeds, who could not make a dent against what spewed so glibly, and so dishonestly, from this liar's mouth. McDonnell claimed, when his Regent's thesis was unearthed, that it represented no more than boyish musings.  

Bob McDonnell's thesis was no such thing: in fact, it was written in 1989, when McDonnell was 35, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve. I am unable to say what his final Military Occupational Specialty was. He started out as a clerk. He proceeded, as soon as he was elected, to impose  those beliefs on the rest of us.  So much for boyish musings, truth or integrity as well.

We already know that Bob McDonnell is a serial liar. It remains to be seen whether that was then, now, or all the time. Like the people he resembles, the C Street brotherhood, Gov. Rolex seems to believe that he can commit no sin, and do nothing unforgivable, in the pursuit of his right-wing religious agenda.

He is now campaigning in front of a jury of voters in Richmond, and based on past performance,  obviously believes he can lie his way out of this one as well. It remains to be seen whether he will succeed.

Just what, exactly, will Maureen McD's defense be?She pleaded not guilty, so she must have one. Based on what I've read so far, which doesn't come close total transcript, I would be inclined to acquit Mrs. McD of everything, should she have the good sense to change her plea to "not guilty by reason of insanity." Except that being a spurned wife ruse doesn't rise to that level, even though Gov. Rolex's $600-an-hour legal team is trying to suggest it. And even if true and admissible, the "she's nuts" defense applies only to her.

It does nothing to explain the lies on the loan forms (mail fraud); the no-paper, no-payback "loans" (which benefitted Bob McDonnell, his sister and ex-brother-in-law); accepting all the loans from Jonnie Williams (Hobbs Act violation); the joint vacations; golf fees, games, proceeds, and club apparel, beverages and food, the latter of which benefitted him and his sons exclusively; or the wedding, dress, wedding rings, and reception, which benefitted him indirectly and likely will figure, and the exposure in the likely
coming, and tawdry, divorce proceedings.

Bob McDonnell doesn't care how many lives he ruins, as long as he stays out of jail.  He ought to be ashamed that he isn't even ashamed.  

Good, Better, Best: There’s an App for That

Today's Washington Post lead editorial was about a smart phone app that will allow consumers to determine how corporations producing products they're thinking about buying make political donations.

The Washington Post suggests that this will "increase partisanship" in America and that somehow the sky will be falling.

In what alternate universe, exactly, does the WaPo editorial board live?  

This small time business investor and consumer member of the REAL "we the people" thinks this is a wonderful idea.

The business of business ought to be BUSINESS, not politics.  Our investment dollars ought to be plowed into developing new products and services and improving current products and services. Corporations are failing to deal with the services issue because they see labor as an expense, not an asset.  Some of that money ought to go to hiring, training and retaining good employees with living wages and benefits; and paying our fair share or the tax load for the public services our corporations consume. The "bottom line" appears to be healthy, but it is done by refusing to pay the costs of the business, not by producing and selling a better product.

There is a huge difference between those two strategies, and the long-term results of the choice many have made has been to poison America, which is choking from the toxic waste, falling off collapsing bridges, and dying from lack of real investment, seeing the former middle class evaporate by sliding into poverty, all imposed by corporations that are more interested in the bottom line - achieved on the cheap by any means possible - than by  earning a dollar by working for it.

Who is the greater savage?

"The attack on the plane and the subsequent treatment of the crime scene appear to be hardening European attitudes against Russia."  NY Times, July 20, 2014

When Americans tried to do something about this, thru both negotiations and sanctions, the Europeans were silent.  They figured the we would bail them out, and that the American companies and banks would lose the business, and each one of their banks and companies would reap the benefits of lost American sales without shouldering any of the costs. I suspect they were cheering the "incoming" and laughing at us for being saps.

We Americans are quite familiar with wealthy moochers. These governments represent moocher countries. They have been laughing while we shouldered what was their burden, and not even bothering to cover their mouths while they did so.  

The Europeans, who are geographically closer and who have more to lose, sat on their hands until bodies of their citizens started falling out of the sky.  The kindest interpretation was that they were blinded by the thought of all that dough rolling in to enrich the already richest in their societies.

The more accurate interpretation of their failure to act is that their governments are controlled by amoral, money grubbing savages. All their governments actually cared about were

1. Cheap natural gas from Gazprom, the Russian state gas producer;

2. Billions of Russian oligarch pounds and euros flooding into the banks;

3. Sales of goods and services;

4. Russian oligarch pounds and  euros undergirding  the local real estate markets, especially in London.

Now, David Cameron's UK government, Angela Merkel's German government--she's been particularly cozy with former KGB Colonel Putin--and the Dutch, all of which spurned US government requests to join in sanctions, among others, have  the temerity to claim that the are shocked.  The former KGB colonel is doing bad things. Who would have thought it?   Surprise, surprise, we tried to tell you so. We told our airlines to stay away, even though it meant burning more fuel, and might add 15 minutes to the flight times. The EU cared more about saving the fuel. Now they have more "incoming'" in the form of bodies falling out of the sky, than they can handle.

Now maybe, they will pay attention. Too late to help the 298 dead innocents whose bodies, personal effects, and credit cards are now being spirited off to God knows where by the savages that Putin enabled, but then again, perhaps to the savages managing these governments, that's just a cost of doing business.  I'm not sure which is worse and on reflection, I think the families might agree.  

Only one dual citizen Dutch American was on that flight, so if we looked it at the way the Europeans do--as penny counting savages-- this isn't our problem. We won't,  of course, because we aren't savages.  

Keystone XL: No Good Choices

Thank you for following this. I think, given the current "Obama-derangement" climate, and the passage of so much time dawdling, that there are no great choices here. It's a mess.

America isn't about to give up its addiction to cheap fuel, and American corporations aren't about to shoulder their share of the "costs."  It's not enough that they can pollute with impunity.  They want to give the energy producers MY tax dollars in write-offs, so they'll be spared not just the initial, at the meter, costs, but also the costs of exploration and drilling.  Where will that money be made up?  Out of MY pocket.  

If we consider that operatives from both parties are, one way or another, "on the take--and both West Virginia and North Carolina are avatars of this--then there's plenty of blame and shame to go around. At least the Democrats can claim to be trying to look at it from all sides.

Republicans?  Not so much.

I'm not an energy production expert, but I am an expert in how the costs of energy eat into my personal budget,how much I actually LIKE having constant power, and how there are tradeoffs, no matter what course we take. I happen to enjoy being able to breathe the air, and drink the water.  This would be an apparently "optional pleasure" now being denied to large swathes of West Virginia and North Carolina.

Full disclosure:  I do what little an individual can to "conserve" on energy.  I dial down the thermostat in winter, and up in summer.  I drive a Corolla, but live in a smallish town and now that I'm retired, as long as it's not sleeting, I generally can walk to the stores.  I use mostly fluorescent bulbs (and incidentally, I have come to suspect that the costs of getting rid of these things when they go bad probably outweighs the energy savings).  I insulated the house.  I recycle newspapers as well as plastics, cans and glass.

What I do know is that my--and an awful lot of people just like me--actions aren't worth a can of spit against America's addiction to cheap energy, and business' willing not just to waste, but to fob the costs of their wastrel behavior off on the consumers.  Duke Energy, owner of the coal ash pits managed to get it's vice president (presumably in charge of creating pollution) elected as Governor of North Carolina.  They're powerful. I've read, possibly on this blog, that Virginia is similarly "owned" by big energy.

So for now, the best we can hope for is the least awful, destructive choice.  I wish I knew what that was.  I know a lot of people are cheering because some of the residents of Nebraska have managed, at least temporarily, to "stop that thing" but the rest of it is apparently a "go."  Which means they'll be trucking the crude between the end of the one line and the beginning of the second.

I'd call that likely the worst of any imaginable world.  

Vulture Capitalist Paints Target on Own Back

The 0.1%ers are clearly frightened, as well they should be. The subject of Paul Krugman's article in today's New York Times has just painted a big target on the back of his fellow vulture capitalists.

Most vulture capitalists created nothing. They transfer wealth from the 99.9% to themselves, but fail to take on any of the costs of running the country. By killing the poor and middle class, they've also slaughtered the goose that has reliably been laying their golden eggs .

We've now reached a point of impoverishment in which most people have no surplus  money. Not one thin dime, to spend on anything. Rich people just hoard the money and gloat. The picture of  Mitt with his vulture capitalist pals perfectly illustrates the problem.

The Tenth of One Percenters do spend a considerable amount of money inciting hate of one group against another. The problem is, they've gone so far that there is practically no one left who hasn't been assigned to a demonized group. Women. African-Anericans. The unemployed. Poor people. LGBT. Single people. Sexually active people. Poor mothers. Working mothers. Non-evangelicals. Sick people. Injured people. Old people. And now veterans.

Ask yourself:  how many of these demonized groups do you fit in?  And who is the leader of the band that created this mess?

No wonder they are afraid.  

The Guv’s Jury Nullification Defense

Governor McDonnell and his wife have now been indicted on 14 felony counts. The Guv and his Missus are entitled to mount a vigorous legal defense to these charges. I understand he has established a legal defense fund, now that he can no longer put  the expenses of his very pricy legal team in the taxpayers' tab.  I read he's having a hard time finding underwriters. 

His defense to date, which appears to amount to "I haven't broken any Virginia laws," is extremely weak and likely would work if these were state charges. 

 Bobby, these are federal charges, and Virginia's nonexistent ethics laws don't play into them except that you likely won't have to defend yourself in state court.  

Absent a plausible defense--"I didn't do it"--he's now laughably following the OJ Simpson playbook:  they're out to get me because I'm a Republican. 

Is there no one else who sees the supreme irony of this man,  one of whose first official acts as governor was to cozy up to the racist and still secessionist leaning Sons of  the Confederacy, using the OJ's  jury nullification strategy? 

Watching his performance art influenced press conference does cause concern. Lacking a legal defense to the federal charges, the man has raised all the secessionist/state's rights/federal overreach combined with what he claims is a desired by a Democratic federal Department of Justice decision to bring down a "popular, Republican" governor. 
Bobby, meet federal inmate 40892-424, Rod Blagojevich, currently serving a 14 year federal term in Littleton, CO.  I guess it escaped your notice that the same DOJ that you claim is persecuting you for being a Republican put Blago, a Democrat, into the slammer. 

McDonnell's  "nullification strategy" is as dishonest as it is repulsive. The worrisome part is that--based in his body language and the optics of that press conference, he appears to believe it. 

The GOTP: Superfund Cleanup Candidate?

The real problem for the GOP is that the "bench" of nationally acceptable candidates is empty. They have wasted an entire generation, and there's no one near "presidential ready" standing in the wings.

The GOP, which in this senior citizen's time was a hotbed of honest intellectuals and a genuine desire to make the country a better place, has declined into such a cess pool, so befouled and polluted, that it ought to be a Superfund cleanup candidate.

It is now controlled by bigots of all stripes (thank you W and TurdBlossom); racists (ditto); sponges who don't want to pay taxes, but are happy to mooch (Koch Brothers, corporate America and Grover Norquist); anti-intellectuals (RSantorum: going to college is snobbish); and frightened, selfish greedy old white men, many of whose first thought is to make themselves more powerful by imagining that women are stupid and need to be controlled.  

I imagine this latter necessity comes about because they are impotent, in every imaginable definition of the word.

The DramaQueenMachine of FoxNews deserves special mention here.  They are funded by corporate moochers  like the Koch brothers, who want profits but don't want to shoulder their share of the costs.  Their attitude is they're important and the rest of us are replaceable and disposable trash.  Health insurance? No, you get sick, get hurt, get old, and we just replace you with another minimum wage drone, and shove the costs of your care into the hospitals, by which they mean the rest of us.

They are seasoned and provided with what appears to be intellectual rigor by the acolytes of false gods nurtured by Liberty University and Regent Law School who the God of the Old Testament would have cast straight to the pit of hell.  

This toxic, noxious blend has driven off every reasonable contender. Intellectual rigor, my left foot. Intellectual rigor mortis  and the thought processes of 14th century Yemeni tribesmen.

Most can't get past the Tea Party, because many, probably including Christie, accept that government is about governing, and compromise is necessary.

Some refuse, including Mitch Daniels and I suspect Jeb Bush, for all his coyness, to subject themselves and their families to the vitriolic rants and hate from fellow Republicans during the primaries.

So what's left? The superficially attractive lightweights like Chris Christie. His willingness to demonize and "take on" people and groups he doesn't like feeds a Public desire to have an enemy, someone to hate, who is the cause of all the trouble and whose name is neither Christie nor John Q Voter, who elected him.

Christie turns out to be vicious bully whose record will shrivel, like his chances to be president, under any actual inspection. Power corrupts, and as governor he has amassed absolute power.

Governor Bob McDonnell aka Guv Rolex--and if there is fairness soon to become a federal prison inmate.  His graft, which he actually COMMITTED, exceeds that of Gov. Blago of Illinois, who just talked about it. Blahs now inhabits a cell.
Rolex was another superficially attractive golden boy, and a graduate of God Law School, who used his position not just to enrich himself, but to shovel his moral beliefs on the rest of us.

Another Republican golden boy the governor of Louisiana. Jindal. He floated like a balloon and crashed and burned.

Rick Scott of Florida, an avatar of hate and a crook whose company paid the biggest Medicare fraud fine in history, and belongs in a federal prison. He campaigned on the promise of god, however they define it, low taxes (except not for individuals, only corporations); and (wink wink nudge nudge) getting rid of all THOSE people, by which he meant the old, sick and poor as well as most Hispanics except Marco Rubio, who were supposed to die or self deport, and African Americans, on who he has declared open season.

Marco Rubio? Pathetic empty if well tailored suit. I had hopes that he might grow into it, but he's shown himself to be an intellectual bantam weight.  He has squandered the time when he might have grown and expanded his base by catering to bigotry. Oh, and I hear he has trouble with the ladies now that he's moved to Washington.  

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