Uncommon Sense

January 26, 2023

A Private IRS?

I was reading a post about how a credit agency (Equifax) has become a private  version of the Internal Revenue Service. The claim is based upon a service provided by Equifax to verify people’s incomes (and other things).

At one point it was stated that IRS information is private (kinda sorta, of course, ask Donald Trump) except for a short time in the 1920’s when progressives got tax filings made public. This last part was written sneeringly (at least I so perceive).

Recently I read a response from a Swede (to the DJT tax forms kerfuffle) and she claimed that in Sweden, tax returns are public documents. She can go to any tax office and request a copy of any citizen’s tax forms, pay a small processing fee, and voilà!

If you stop to think about it, once Americans believe they are being treated unfairly, they begin to revolt. And tax fairness is a big issue. So, having tax returns freely available would be a good thing in an open society, no? It would deter cheaters for one and reinforce the fairness of the system or allow us to focus on aspects that are unfair and deal with them.

So, who would want to keep these official government documents secret? Gosh, you don’t think the rich want people pouring over their tax documents, uncovering all of the cheats, scams, and lies they incorporate, now do you?

Again, the rich are the tail wagging our political dog. They even encourage us to sneer at progressive’s efforts to make our society more visible.

January 24, 2023

Modern Day Villains

We, as a society, consume a great many entertainments, many of which are visual: videos, shows, concerts, etc. In the “movies” many plots require some dramatic tension and a good guy-bad guy axis. Someone to root for, someone to root against. And the villains fall into somewhat nice categories: we have sociopaths and psychopaths, whose thinking is bizarre to us, but fascination, currently we have quite a few zombies who have no personality but pose an existential threat nonetheless. (Nobody tries to figure out why the zombies are doing what they do, they just run.) And the usual coterie of “bad guys” includes drug dealers, people who cheat on the spouses, etc. It is rare that a new bad guy, like Hannibal Lecter comes along.

By far the most common bad guy in today’s videos is . . . drum roll, please . . . corporations, evil corporations, not just corporations that run over you because they didn’t see you in their driveway. Corporations that are driven only to make profits and to Hell with any opposition to those efforts.

Here is Bernie Sanders chiming in on one such corporation (Cal-Maine Foods):

Bernie Sanders (Twitter)
@SenSanders
Corporate greed is the producer of Egg-Land’s Best, Farmhouse Eggs & Land O’Lake Eggs, increasing its profits by 65% last quarter to a record-breaking $198 million while doubling the price of eggs & reporting no positive cases of avian flu. Yes. We need a windfall profits tax.
11:37 AM · Jan 15, 2023·
2.4M Views

And these corporations haven’t exactly been subtle about their machinations: the CEOs of America’s largest companies got on their quarterly investor calls and chortled about the willingness of “consumers” to blame inflation for the prices they were jacking up . . . because they could.

Republicans stickered gas-pumps up and down the country with Joe Biden “I Did That” stickers, even as gas companies declared record profits and boasted to investors about how they were able to tap directly into drivers’ wallets under cover of inflation.

It doesn’t look like any other villain will knock corporations out of their #1 spot at all soon. They just can’t help themselves, reinforcing their “bad guy” image over and over and over.

As I had said often enough, the Achilles’ Heel of capitalism is that it places no restriction on greed.

January 19, 2023

Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!

Various pundits are flying off the rails because the new GOP Speaker of the House of Representatives has put his most radical members on the Oversight and Accountability Committee, the main investigative organ in the House. OMG! What might they do?

Actually, this is a gift to the Democrats. Allow the conspiracy theorists in the House full rein, to investigate everything from Hunter Biden’s laptop to, well, anything with a Biden stamp upon it.

I am making popcorn now because this is going to be great theater. Rather than opposing these GOP crazies, I say stand back and give them an Obamaesque “Proceed.” I am betting on the fact that people are getting tired of meaningless distractions and want to see real actions taken against things like inflation, climate change, you know, real problems.

I can’t wait for them to bring up Hunter Biden’s laptop! Mafia Don’s FBI had a copy of the supposed hard drive from the supposed laptop for years and couldn’t squeeze anything out of it (except I am told some “dick pics”), so I say “have at it!” Oh, and be sure to detail the chain of evidence that proves it is Hunter Biden’s laptop and not just some prop. I can’t wait to see these incompetent buffoons try to convince anybody but a QAnon Internet audience of anything.

January 6, 2023

MAGA—Make America Gag Again

The televised ordeal of the despicable Kevin McCarthy twisting, twisting slowly in the wind is a predicable outcome of the path the Republican Party has been on these past few decades. They have constantly undermined government and nongovernment institutions in their efforts. (“Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.” Ronald Regan) Unfortunately for the Republicans, one of the nongovernment organizations they have undermined is the Republican Party.

By enabling extremists and welcoming them and empowering them in their party, they are reaping what they have sowed. As one wag put it “They can’t even manage a ‘Red Wave’ in their own party!” Let us hope that their Red Wave is a “bye-bye” wave as they sink slowly into the swamp of history.

January 5, 2023

Christian Nationalists Betray Conservative Base

I recently read the following in a Dan Foster column on Medium.com:

After a decade-long statistical analysis of over 160 countries, Nilay Saiya of the University in Singapore has discovered a link between the decline of Christianity in particular countries and the level of official support governments give to Christianity through their laws and policies. Or, to put it another way, as governmental support for Christianity increases, the number of Christians declines significantly. So it turns out that church and state make lousy bedfellows. Who would have thought?

My first thought was “Maybe we should support Christian nationalists, lead them down the garden path, as it were.” But that would be unkind. In fact it seems that the Christian Nationalists are espousing what conservatives hate—socialism/communism.

The reason why the study mentioned above is valid is that its findings were acted out in many European countries. In the United Kingdom, for example, the law established the Church of England as the state church and Christianity as the state religion, granting privileges not afforded to minority religious groups. However, The Guardian reports that less than 40% of Brits now identify as Christians, and only 1% of people aged 18–24 identify as members of the Church of England.

Once sucking off of the government teat, churches had to change their motivations. Their motivations became working to continue getting that government welfare. Lobbyists, that’s what they needed! Helping the poor and downtrodden? Do they vote? Well, if so, then maybe.

If you want to know what your church will be like with government support, look at what Fox News is compared to a genuine news organization. Once it sold its soul to the Republican party, it ended up in court defending itself by stating that “no reasonable person would believe what we say.” Is that what you want your church officials stating when they are dragged into court? (Oh, and when firmly in bed with the government, they won’t be able to weasel their way out of court appearances, now will they?)

Conservatives should recognize the Devil working here, by getting their Churches in bed with the government, OMG! That road to Hell is certainly paved with good intentions, but this road is surely sponsored by the Devil, who wants to see the churches shrink and lose influence with the people as they gain influence in state houses and the Congress.

Conservative Christians are being persecuted . . . by Christian nationalists!

It could be fun for a while, though. Imagine the Catholic Church being subject to FOIA requests. I mean, there are some juicy consequences here, that the Christian Nationalists don’t seem to see.

Ron Santos and the Question of Lying to Get Elected

After Ron Santos got elected to Congress in his New York district, he was declared a bald-faced liar and he admitted it. He is still expecting to be sworn in as a member of Congress if the Republicans can get their act together and elect a Speaker of the House.

Now Republicans are often proponents of using “sound business practices,” so it occurred to me that this may be one of those cases in which “sound business practices” are invoked..

If a new hire at a corporation, say a law office, were exposed as having lied his ass off in order to get hired, including, say, that he graduated from a college and passed the bar exam in that state, what kind of response would you expect? I would expect the miscreant to get frog marched to the exit, his employment contract voided, and a potential law suit awaiting him if he uttered a peep about the whole affair.

So, maybe the new Congressman should have an encounter with his new employer of the same kind. Now, who is his new employer? Oh, yeah, the American people. Maybe a simple Internet poll should be taken (voters only!) to determine whether he should keep his new job. That would be fair, right?

Oh, and how about a law making lying about one’s qualifications, family history, etc. as part of an election campaign being a felony? No one wants lies to be part of our political fabric, now do they? (Shut up, Donald!)

January 1, 2023

Questions to Ask Christian Nationalists

When someone espouses the belief that the U.S. should be declared a Christian Nation, here are questions to ask them.

  1. Why do you want the Catholics in charge of the country? Is the Pope going to be running the government? (Catholics are the most populous denomination of U.S. Christians.)
    Note If they answer “Catholics aren’t True Christians™!” ask “Who gets to determine who are True Christians™ and who are not?
  2. Will you make laws against atheists, as being unpatriotic or whatever?
  3. Will you create tax laws based upon religious status?
  4. Where in the Biblical Worldview is the concept of “one man, one vote” supported?
  5. Where in the Bible is democracy (representative or direct) addressed or even described?
  6. Will religious arguments be allowed in our courts?
  7. Will religious arguments be allowed in our state houses?
  8. What will happen if a state becomes majority Muslim?
  9. If states adopt a state religion as was the case in our early days, will there be a process whereby one religion can supplant another as the state religion? What is that process?
  10. If the Bible is to be used in court to support legal positions, which Bible will be considered definitive?
    Note This is especially important as the OT was written by Jews and the NT was written by people becoming Christians. The OT should be disallowed because it is non-Christian. (This will disappoint many evangelicals.)
  11. Will the Quran and Scientologist and Mormon and Vedic scriptures be allowed as evidence in courts? If not, where is the line drawn between what is allowed and what is not?
  12. Will religious instruction in public schools be mandatory? Will children of non-Christian religions be exempt from those lessons?
  13. If the number of Americans claiming to be Christians drops below 50%, then what happens?
    Note From the 1970s until the 1990s, for as long as Pew tracked it, about 90 percent of Americans identified as Christian. Then in just one generation, that number plummeted. By 2020, only 64 percent of Americans identified as Christian.
  14. Will marriages be required to be religious ceremonies and will non-Christian marriages be void?

Summation You know, I don’t think they have thought this thing through.

December 30, 2022

OMG, Making Trump’s Tax Returns Public! It is an outrage!

No.

It is not.

These are government documents and citizens have a right to see those not marked Top Secret or above.

In an actual civilized country, Sweden, any citizen’s tax return can be acquired by any other Swedish citizen who goes to a local tax office, fills out a form, and pays a small fee (for duplication costs). In Sweden, all tax returns are public documents, as they basically are here, except in the minds of those who want to hide their crimes. Or who want to lie about how much they make or about how much wealth they have.

Think about it. We are asked by our government to fill out extensive forms to determine how much tax we should pay. Why would those forms be secret to all other taxpayers, who may be suspicious that fraud is occurring elsewhere in the system? The answer is short—they should not.

Oh, did you see where Trump wrote off a $70,000 “business” expense for “hair care”? Any claim of him being a good businessman should end at that fact right there.

Getting Stressed Over Stress

The stresses of modern life are being touted at a high volume right now, including using terms like megastresses and permastress.

It is the case that one can talk oneself into an emotional state that is quite unnecessary based upon circumstances and this is one of those cases.

I am not trying to diminish people’s struggles with long COVID or unemployment or not having decent healthcare services available. All of those stresses are real. But politicians have been running the Fear Machine on overdrive for years now. For example, are you worried about the immigrants seeking asylum on the Texas border? If you are and you don’t live in Texas, you are being manipulated. Texas’s neighbor state New Mexico has a high population of Hispanics next to their border and the flow of people across the border is quite high, typically dominated by Americans going to Mexico to shop or to get cheaper dentistry, etc. They all seem to get along there in New Mexico and across the border in Mexico.

Gosh, do you think that the politicians in Texas are using the asylum seekers as grist for their Fear Machines to grind?

What other stressors do you focus upon? Cryptocurrency? Well, fools and their money are soon parted, so just ignore them. How about Antifa gangs? Again, made up nonsense from Fox “News,” in fact anything you hear on Fox “News” can be considered a false flag operation. Are you worried about your children being taught Critical Race Theory? If you are you should take them out of law school as that is the only place that theory is taught. Are you worried about LGBQ (whatever) folks recruiting your children? Relax, they don’t do that. Are you worried that teaching real American history will lead your kids to “Hate America”? If so, you would rather have patriotism based upon lies than upon truth and have you considered what happens when your children find out they were lied to? (My sister is still pissed that our parents didn’t tell her that Santa Claus was made up, and she is 80 years old now.)

There are stresses associated with modern life. In fact, a life without any stress may be unhealthy, but you do not need a load of bullpucky in the form of bullshit stressors added to your load. Ask yourself “How does this affect me?” in order to figure out what your response needs be. If you are worried about the war being waged upon Ukraine, maybe donations to the International Red Cross for Ukraine are in order. Maybe a letter to your Senator or Congressman stating support for relief being sent to Ukraine is your response. But sitting in front of your TV at night and wringing your hands does no one any good, especially you.

December 20, 2022

Jan 6th Committee Punches Up!

The hapless Republicans keep shooting themselves in the foot. When the House of Representatives decided to investigate the “Attack on the Capitol” the Republicans decided to play ball, the Republican Way. They nominated clear Trump loyalists/fan boys but those appointments were nixed by the Speaker of the House. Then they decided to not play ball at all and told their caucus to not serve on that committee. But the Committee was formed and it had two Republicans on it! Of course, there were consequences to those “rebellious” Republicans; neither will have seats in the next House.

But that didn’t deter the Republicans. They labeled the effort as a “partisan witch hunt” (and continue to do so to this day).

So, the Repubs refuse to appoint honest Republicans to that committee (maybe they couldn’t find any) and then claim that the committee’s work is political and biased and “partisan.” Brilliant. Trump even whined after one of the hearings that none of the committee members were defending his viewpoint. (Duh!)

The Committee held hearings on TV with the vast majority of those being heard were Republicans, including officials in the administration and Trump family members. (Trump declined to testify and the Committee declined subpoenaing him.)

Five Republican members of the House were asked to testify and when they declined, subpoenas were issued. All five spurned the subpoenas and so the committee referred them to the House Ethics Committee as such is a violation of House Rules, and well, you know, the law. (Only four were referred as one of the five had already left the House.)

Since the committee was investigative in nature, they could only make recommendations: recommendations for changes in governmental policy, the election laws, etc. And they recommended that the Department of Justice consider criminal proceedings against the main perpetrators. Many of the little perps are already in jail, but none of the masterminds are. If the DOJ pursues those cases, that may change.

One of the charges recommended by the committee is that of aiding or abetting an insurrection and that was leveled at former President Donald John Trump (all major criminals are referred to with their full names, e.g. Lee Harvey Oswald, John Wayne Gacy, John Wilkes Booth, etc.) and potentially many others. And a provision of the Constitution is that anyone convicted of insurrection-related crimes is no longer eligible for public office. This is being called into dispute, I presume by Trump loyalists. They claim this provision may be unconstitutional.

Fourteenth Amendment, Section 3:

No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Now that is a hoot. The Constitution may be unconstitutional! The Constitution states all kinds of restrictions as to who can run for office. These involve age (you must be this old to ride this ride), to being a “natural born citizen” (we don’ need no stinkin’ immigrants). (Being white and male weren’t explicitly stated but were unofficial qualifications early on.) Why disallowing oath breakers and insurrectionists would conflict with the other parts of the Constitution seems bizarre, but with the current version of the Extreme Court, aka the Rogue Supreme Court, I guess anything is possible. The Repubs worked like beavers to get those political hacks installed on the SCOTUS bench and they seem to be betting that they will do their bidding no matter how ridiculous.

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