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TWO DEADLY MISTAKES IN ONE DAY

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Politics on October 7, 2020 at 8:27 am

Donald Trump was in a hurry to leave Walter Reed National Military Medical Center—where he’d been taken on October 3 owing to COVID-19.

So on October 6—just three days after being hospitalized, and still highly infectious—he demanded that he be returned to the White House. 

Once ensconced in the Executive Mansion, Trump proceeded to make two deadly mistakes.

Mistake #1: He tweeted a one-minute long video from the White House balcony, saying he “learned so much about coronavirus,” and believed that he was possibly immune to the disease.

“One thing that’s for certain: Don’t let it dominate you,” he said of COVID-19. “Don’t be afraid of it. You’re going to beat it. We have the best medical equipment, we have the best medicines, all developed recently. And you’re going to beat it.

“We’re going back, we’re going back to work,” Trump said. “We’re going to be out front. As your leader, I had to do that. I knew there’s danger to it, but I had to do it..”

SARS-CoV-2 without background.png

Coronavirus

Trump’s upbeat message about COVID-19—“Don’t be afraid of it. You’re going to beat it”—alarmed and angered many infectious disease experts. 

“It’s an unconscionable message,” said Dr. Sadiya Khan of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “I would go so far as to say that it may precipitate or worsen spread.”

“We have to be realistic in this: COVID is a complete threat to the American population,” said Dr. David Nace, an expert on infectious diseases at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

“Most of the people aren’t so lucky as the president,” with an in-house medical unit and access to experimental treatments, he added.

Especially outraged by Trump’s comment was Amanda Kloots, who lost her husband, Broadway actor Nick Cordero, to the virus.

NickCordero.jpg

Nick Cordero

“Unfortunately not everyone is lucky enough to spend two days in the hospital,” she tweeted, referring to Trump’s short stay for COVID-19 treatment. “I cried next to my husband for 95 days watching what COVID did to the person I love. It IS something to be afraid of.”

Mistake #2: Always wanting to appear in command, Trump ordered his negotiators to halt talks over a new economic stimulus package, after House and Senate Republicans had struggled for months to reach a deal.

“I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and Small Business,” Trump wrote in a series of tweets.

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Donald Trump

Trump’s message stunned lawmakers. The decision is a major blow to Americans still struggling with the fallout from the pandemic and endangers an economic recovery that for months was driven by a $2.2 trillion stimulus passed by Congress in the spring. That money has been largely spent. 

Among those stunned by Trump’s move: Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.

At the annual meeting of the National Association for Business Economics, Powell warned: “Too little support would lead to a weak recovery, creating unnecessary hardship for households and businesses.”

Powell said that government support—expanded unemployment insurance payments, direct payments to most households and support for small businesses—has prevented a recessionary “downward spiral” where job losses would reduce spending, forcing businesses to cut even more jobs.

Jerome H. Powell.jpg

Jerome Powell

A far smarter move by Trump would have been claiming that Republicans were vigorously pursuing a stimulus package—but were facing roadblocks thrown up by spendthrift Democrats. 

That would have allowed Trump to play the part of the self-pitying underdog. And it would have put the blame squarely—if inaccurately—on the Democrats.

But Trump’s ego demands that he be the one seen to take decisive action. On December 11, 2018, it neatly tripped him up.

Nancy Pelosi—then House Minority Leader—and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, met with Trump in the Oval Office. And, true to his love of publicity, Trump made sure the meeting was televised live on TV.

Trump quickly demanded $5.6 billion to create a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border.

When Pelosi and Schumer refused to budge, Trump said: And one way or the other, it’s going to get built. I’d like not to see a government closing, a shutdown. We will see what happens over the next short period of time.”

SCHUMER: “Twenty times you have called for, ‘I will shut down the government if I don’t get my wall.’ None of us have said—you’ve said it.”

TRUMP: “Okay, you want to put that on my—I’ll take it.  You know what I’ll say: ‘Yes, if we don’t get what we want, one way or the other…I will shut down the government. Absolutely.’”

Trump did shut down the government. And because he had threatened to do so—on nationwide TV—he, not the Democrats, was blamed for it. Thirty-five days later, he caved to public pressure and reopened the government.

With the 2020 Presidential election less than a month away and himself behind former Vice President Joe Biden in the polls, it appears that Trump’s ego has once again neatly tripped himself up.

THE NEWS MEDIA: EMBARRASSING THE FIRST AMENDMENT

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Politics, Social commentary on October 5, 2020 at 12:21 am

On September 27, The New York Times broke the unprecedented story of President Donald Trump’s tax returns, which he has long held secret. 

Among the revelations: He paid no federal income taxes at all for 10 of 15 years. And he paid only $750 in taxes in 2016 and 2017.

For most newspapers and TV networks, such investigative reporting is a rarity. Most media outlets are little more than “happy news” or propaganda organs.

On April 28, 2018, comedian Michelle Wolf hosted the annual White House Correspondents Dinner in Washington, D.C. There she skewered high-ranking Trump administration officials and members of the nation’s elite media.

Most of here jokes were focused on Trump administration officials—especially then-Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

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Michelle Wolf

But Wolf threw a series of sharp-edged zingers at some of the Nation’s most prominent media. And these comments have gone largely ignored.

They are, however, well worth examining—for the uncomfortable truths they reveal about much of the “news” being served up under the guise of fearless objectivity.

On CNN—where “news” now consists of a series of “talking heads” pontificating about stories that other journalists have dug up:  We’ve got our friends at CNN here. You guys love breaking news, and you did it. You broke it. Good work. The most useful information on CNN is when Anthony Bourdain tells me where to eat noodles.

On Fox News’ sexual harassment scandals involving such prominent (and former) members as CEO Roger Ailes and commentator Bill O’Reilly:  Fox News is here. So, you know what that means, ladies: Cover your drinks. Seriously.

On Fox News’ actual role as the propaganda organ of the Republican party:  People want me to make fun of [Fox News commentator] Sean Hannity tonight, but I cannot do that; this dinner is for journalists.

News Media

On weak-rated MSNBC, which is the liberal version of Fox News:  We’ve got MSNBC here. MSNBC’s news slogan is, “This is who we are.” Guys, it’s not a good slogan. “This is who we are” is what your mom thinks the sad show on NBC is called. “Did you watch ‘This Is Who We Are’ this week? Someone left on a Crockpot, and everyone died.”

On Megyn Kelly, who rose to fame and fortune as a Right-wing propaganda shill on Fox News:  And, of course, Megyn Kelly. What would I do without Megyn Kelly? You know, probably be more proud of women. 

And, by the way, Megyn, Santa’s black. The weird old guy going through your chimney was Bill O’Reilly. You might want to put a flue on it or something.  

[This last jibe centered on Kelly’s infamous December 11, 2013 Fox broadcast where she claimed: “I kind of laughed and said this is so ridiculous.  Yet another person claiming it’s racist to have a white Santa. For all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white….Just because it makes you uncomfortable doesn’t mean it has to change. Jesus was a white man too.”]

On the continuing demise of newspapers—on which TV “news reporters” depend for their information:  There’s a lot of print media here. There’s a ton of you guys, but I’m not going to go after print media tonight because it’s illegal to attack an endangered species. Buy newspapers.

On the media’s—especially the television media’s—morbid obsession with Donald Trump:  There’s a ton of news right now; a lot is going on, and we have all these 24-hour news networks, and we could be covering everything. But, instead, we’re covering like three topics. Every hour, it’s Trump, Russia, Hillary and a panel of four people who remind you why you don’t go home for Thanksgiving.

On the media’s responsibility for the rise of a President they now detest: You guys are obsessed with Trump. Did you used to date him? Because you pretend like you hate him, but I think you love him. I think what no one in this room wants to admit is that Trump has helped all of you. He couldn’t sell steaks or vodka or water or college or ties or Eric, but he has helped you.

He’s helped you sell your papers and your books and your TV. You helped create this monster, and now you’re profiting off of him. And if you’re gonna profit off of Trump, you should at least give him some money because he doesn’t have any.

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Donald Trump

[This last joke was probably the most painful the assembled media bigwigs had to endure. Because it’s undeniably true.

Trump’s campaign was saved from spending millions on TV advertising because the major TV news networks covered his every word. This was especially true when he was attacking women, blacks, Mexicans, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama—and even beauty pageant contestants.

For the media, Trump was “good for ratings”—in the same way that Mike Tyson was “good for boxing.” Both were seen as freaks—and thus guaranteed to lure viewers eager to find out: “What outrageous thing has he done now?”] 

SAN FRANCISCO–“MY CITY BY THE BUM”: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on October 1, 2020 at 12:06 am

In San Francisco, successive mayors and members of the Board of Supervisors virtually roll out the welcome mat for succeeding waves of

  • Drug addicts
  • Drunks
  • Mentally ill and
  • Bums.

Who can otherwise be classified as DDMBs.

Huge areas of the city are covered in feces, urine, trash and used hypodermic needles. Hospitals overflow with patients that have fallen ill due to the contamination.

Early each day to the City Hall steps
The bum-loving ‘Frisco Mayor comes
In her own special way to the people she calls,
“Come, hand out booze to my bums.”

 

Image result for Images of trash left by homeless

Typical “homeless” campsite

In February, 2018, NBC News surveyed 153 blocks of the city—an area more than 20 miles. That area includes popular tourist spots like Union Square and the cable car turnaround. It’s bordered by Van Ness Avenue, Market Street, Post Street and Grant Avenue. And it’s also home to City Hall, schools, playgrounds and a police station.

Reporters found trash littered across every block. Forty-one blocks were covered with needles and 96 blocks were  contaminated with piles of human feces.

Most of the trash found consisted of heaps of garbage, food, and discarded junk—including 100 drug needles and more than 300 piles of feces throughout downtown. If you step on one of these needles, you can get HIV, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B or a variety of other viral diseases. 

Feed the bums, six-packs a bag
Six-packs, six-packs, six-packs a bag
“Feed the bums,” she cries from the stoop
While on the streets, her bums take a poop.

 

But you don’t have to actually get stuck by a needle to become a victim. Once fecal matter dries, it can become airborne and release deadly viruses, such as the rotavirus.

“If you happen to inhale that, it can also go into your intestine,” says Dr. Lee Riley, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California, Berkeley. The results can prove fatal, especially in children.

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And cleaning up the messes of DDMBs is no easy task. In a 2018 news story on NBC’s San Francisco affiliate, KNTV, Mohammed Nuru, the Director of the Public Works Department, said: “Yes, we can clean, and then go back a few hours later, and it looks as if it was never cleaned. So is that how you want to spend your money?”

A single pile of human waste takes at least 30 minutes for one of his staffers to clean up. “The steamer has to come. He has to park the steamer. He’s got to come out with his steamer, disinfect, steam clean, roll up and go.”

All around you see needles that are left by the addicts
And poop that slops on your shoes.
Whenever you see them
You know bums are smiling
Each time someone shows up with booze.

 

Another danger posed by DDMBs: Hundreds—if not thousands—of them are heroin addicts. Such people will commit virtually any crime to support their habit. And their crimes of choice are burglary and robbery.

Thus, pouring large numbers of them into San Francisco neighborhoods via “Navigation Centers”—essentially holding pens for DDMBs—guarantees that countless decent citizens will become targets for desperate criminals.

Navigation Centers boast that they ban drug-abuse or drug-dealing on their own premises. But they allow DDMBs to come and go at will. Which means they are free to engage in drug-abuse and/or drug-dealing in the neighborhoods where these centers exist.

In 2016, San Francisco spent $275 million on homelessness—up from $241 million in 2015. Four years later, City Hall prepared to spend $300 million to find housing for DDMBs.

Though her words are simple and few
Listen, listen, she’s calling to you
“Feed the bums, six-packs a bag
Six-packs, six-packs, six-packs a bag.”

 

San Francisco’s political elite see this blight as well as everyone else. They can’t avoid seeing it, since the city covers 47 square miles. 

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The latest fad remedy: “Navigation Centers.” These will supposedly warehouse DDMBs temporarily until they can be “navigated” to permanent housing.

But housing is in short supply in San Francisco, and there is no telling how long how many of these drug addicts, alcoholics, mentally disabled and bums will stay in them. Or what harm they will wreak on the neighborhoods warehousing them.

San Francisco should stop catering to its population of DDMBs who prey on the guilt or fear of law-abiding, tax-paying citizens. 

The same laws that protect citizens against patients with highly communicable diseases like typhoid and cholera should be vigorously applied to those whose filthy habits threaten similar public contagion.

Among such reforms:

  • Launch a “Please Do Not Feed the Bums” publicity campaign—as San Francisco has against feeding pigeons. And those caught doing so should be heavily fined. 
  • Trash cans should be equipped with locked doors, to prevent DDMBs from using them as food dispensers.
  • Those living on the street should be given a choice: Go to a local shelter or face arrest and the immediate confiscation of their possessions.
  • San Francisco’s rent control laws should be strengthened, to prevent future evictions owing to the unchecked greed of landlords. Tenants on fixed incomes should be given special protections against extortionate rent increases.
  • Bus drivers should have the right to refuse passengers who stink of urine/feces, as they present a potential health-hazard to others.
  • Owners of restaurants, theaters and grocery stores should likewise be allowed to refuse service on the same basis.
  • Require proof of residency for those applying for welfare benefits. Too many people come to San Francisco because, upon arrival, they can immediately apply for such benefits.
  • The city should set up a special unit to remove “street people” and their possessions from city sidewalks. This could be a division of the Sanitation Department, since its personnel are used to removing filth and debris of all types.  

Only then will San Francisco rightly reclaim its former glory as “the city by the Bay.”

SAN FRANCISCO–“MY CITY BY THE BUM”: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on September 30, 2020 at 12:17 am
Early each day to the City Hall steps
The bum-loving ‘Frisco Mayor comes
In her own special way to the people she calls,
“Come, hand out booze to my bums.”

 

Are you a firefighter, police officer, paramedic or schoolteacher?

Do you want to live in San Francisco?

Well, forget it.

According to Rent Cafe, which provides apartment listings directly from top property managers: “The average rent for an apartment in San Francisco is $3,629.” And “the average size for a San Francisco apartment is 747 square feet.”

So unless you’re a hugely successful IT professional—or narcotics dealer—your chances of being able to afford a San Francisco apartment are lower than Donald Trump’s of winning a “Mr. Congeniality” contest.

But there’s hope for you yet—if you fall into one of the following categories:

  • Druggies
  • Drunks
  • Mental cases
  • Bums

Why? 

Because the Mayor of San Francisco—currently London Breed—and Board of Supervisors have deliberately created an Untermenschen-friendly program that actually encourages such people to move to the city.

Run by the city’s Department of Public health (DPH) it’s called the COVID-19 Alternative Housing Program. And it works in two stages:

Stage 1: Move the “homeless” into the city’s hotels—at city expense.

Stage 2: Provide them with not only free food and shelter but free alcohol, cannabis, and cigarettes

According to a May 11, 2020 story in City Journal.org:

“The program’s primary purpose is to keep homeless people, the majority of whom are addicts, out of harm’s way during the pandemic. By getting their substance of choice delivered, the thinking goes, the guests may be more apt to remain in their government-funded rooms.

“Another purpose of the program is to protect the public against the spread of coronavirus. The city doesn’t want homeless people who should be staying in their rooms roaming the neighborhood in search of the substances, potentially infecting others.”

San Francisco Department of Public Health - Crunchbase Company Profile & Funding

After news about these deliveries leaked on social media, DPH claimed that “rumors that guests of San Francisco’s alternative housing program are receiving taxpayer-funded deliveries of alcohol, cannabis and tobacco are false.”

Except that the reports weren’t false.

The program is funded by private philanthropists  Nevertheless:

  • DPH administers and oversees the program.
  • It’s staffed by city workers, including doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, social workers, and security personnel.
  • The department manages, stores, and distributes the substances.
  • Employee time is involved.

Thus, the program isfinanced by taxpayers, even if an outside group provides some of the funding. 

“Managed alcohol and tobacco use makes it possible to increase the number of guests who stay in isolation and quarantine and, notably, protects the health of people who might otherwise need hospital care for life-threatening alcohol withdrawal,” says DPH spokeswoman Jenna Lane,

The Chart

“Many isolation and quarantine guests tell us they use these substances daily,” says Lane, “and this period in our care has allowed some people to connect for the first time with addiction treatment and harm reduction therapy.”

Come feed the drunken bums,
Show them you care
And you’ll be glad if you do.
Their throats are so thirsty
Their bottoms are bare
All it takes is six-packs from you.

 

Notice the word “guests.” As if San Francisco—or any city—should welcome hordes of drug addicts, alcoholics, mentally ill and outright bums as assets to its community.

“Harm reduction” therapy, according to the Harm Reduction Coalition, is “a set of practical strategies and ideas aimed at reducing negative consequences associated with drug use.”

DPH said in a statement that these “guests” are screened for substance addictions and asked if they’d like to stop or have support to reduce their use.

If they say they want to remain alcoholics and/or drug addicts, they’re provided with their substance of choice.

Feed the bums, six-packs a bag
Six-packs, six-packs, six-packs a bag
“Feed the bums,” she cries from the stoop
While on the streets, her bums take a poop.

 

The department also provides methadone for “guests” who are addicted to opioids.

DPH staffers have helped people buy “medical marijuana,” the agency told local affiliate ABC7.

But the agency doesn’t “facilitate purchases of recreational cannabis,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle’s website, SFGate.

Nor does the agency require that its addict “guests” remain quarantined. It merely asks that they do so

Yes, welcome to San Francisco—home of cable cars, Ghirardelli Square and the Golden Gate Bridge.

And, oh, yes—and thousands of stinking, disease-ridden, lice/bedbug-infested, drug-addicted, alcohol-soaked, often psychotic men and women whom city officials politely refer to as “the homeless.”

Thanks to its mild climate and social programs that dole out cash payments to virtually anyone with no residency requirement, San Francisco is often considered the homeless capital of the United States.

Current estimates peg the homeless population of San Francisco at about 7,500. And it hasn’t changed much during the last 10 years.

In 2019, a survey found that an estimated 2,831 members of this population were sheltered. Another 5,180 were unsheltered. This made for a total of 8,011.

The vast majority of them fall into four groups:

  • Drug-abusers
  • Drunks
  • Mentally ill
  • Bums.

Or, to put it more discretely: DDMBs.

Many DDMBs refuse to enter the city’s available shelters. Some claim these places are dangerous—understandably so, since they’re peopled with drug addicts, alcoholics, mentally ill and outright bums.

But another reason why many of these shelters go unused is: They don’t allow their guests to drink up or drug up. 

The city spends about $300 million each year on DDMBs. Dividing that amount by 8,011 provides the figure of $37,448 per DDMB.

San Francisco residents can be fined $25 to $1,000 for feeding pigeons—but not for giving money to street bums.

THE WHITE POOR: LOVING THOSE WHO DESPISE THEM: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Politics, Social commentary on September 24, 2020 at 12:35 am

On July 22, 2011, ABC News carried the following story:

The Pew Foundation, analyzing voter identification, found “the electorate’s partisan affiliations have shifted significantly” since Barack Obama won office in 2008.

The GOP had gained strength among white voters, most specifically “the young and poor.”

Whitehead Institute - News - 2011 - Whitehead Member Mary Gehring named a Pew Scholar

A seven-point Democratic advantage among whites under age 30 three years ago had turned into an 11-point GOP advantage. And a 15-point Democratic advantage among whites earning less than $30,000 annually had swung to a slim four-point Republican edge by 2011.

In addition:

  • The GOP gains had occurred only among white voters.
  • Republicans had made sizable gains among white voters since 2008. Fifty-two percent of white voters called themselves Republicans or leaned to the GOP, compared with 39% who affiliated with the Democratic Party or leaned Democratic.
  • Democrats had lost their edge among lower income white voters.
  • In 2008, Democrats had a 15 point lead among white voters with family incomes less than $30,000.  By 2011, Republicans had a four-point edge among this group.
  • The GOP’s lead among middle income white voters had grown since 2008, and Republicans held a substantial advantage with higher income white voters.
  • Republicans have made gains among whites with a high school education or less. The GOP’s advantage over Democrats had grown from one point in 2008 to 17 points in 2011 among less educated whites.
  • Republicans had made smaller gains among white voters who had college degrees.

Five years later, in 2016, these masses of disaffected white men would overwhelmingly vote for Donald Trump, a real estate mogul-turned-celebrity-TV-host of “The Apprentice.”

Trump had been born into a life of luxury. He began his real estate career at his father’s real estate and construction company. He rose to wealth and fame after his father, Fred, gave him control of the business in 1971.

Similarly, soon after acquiring the family business, Trump set out to build his own empire—hotels, golf courses, casinos and skyscrapers across North and South America, Europe and Asia. Of the 515 entities he owns, 268 of them—52%—bear his last name. He often refers to his properties as “the swankiest,” “the most beautiful.” 

During the Vietnam war, his father reportedly paid a doctor to claim that Trump suffered from “bone spurs” in his foot—thus enabling him to escape the draft.

Donald Trump

In short, Trump has literally nothing in common with the masses of poor whites who worship him. 

Howard Stern, the notorious radio host, has known Trump many years. Commenting on the appeal Trump has for his followers, Stern says: “The oddity of all this is the people Trump despises most, love him the most.

“The people who are voting for Trump for the most part …he wouldn’t even let them in his fucking hotel. He’d be disgusted by them. Go to Mar-a-Lago. See if there’s any people who look like you. I’m talking to you in the audience.”

Yet, while the poor worship Trump and Republicans generally, there is a disconnect between them: Since 1980, Republicans have pursued a policy of gutting programs aimed at helping the poor—while repeatedly creating tax-breaks for the wealthiest 1% of the population.

For Republicans, the patron saint of this “love-the-rich-screw-the-poor” ideology remains Ronald Reagan–two-time governor of California and twice-elected President of the United States (1981-1989)

Ronald Reagan, who taught Americans to worship the wealthy

Among those charting Reagan’s legacy as President was former CBS Correspondent David Shoenbrum.

In his bestselling autobiography, America Inside Out: At Home and Abroad from Roosevelt to Reagan, he noted:

  • On January 28, 1981, keeping a pledge to his financial backers in the oil industry, Reagan abolished Federal controls on the price of oil.
  • Within a week, Exxon, Texaco and Shell raised gasoline prices and prices of home heating oil.
  • Reagan saw it as his duty to put a floor under prices, not a ceiling above them.
  • Reagan believed that when government helped business it wasn’t interfering. Loaning money to bail out a financially incompetent Chrysler was “supporting the free enterprise system.”
  • But putting a high-profits tax on price-gouging corporations or filing anti-trust suits against them was “Communistic” and therefore intolerable.
  • Tax-breaks for wealthy businesses meant helping America become stronger.
  • But welfare for the poor or the victims of a predatory marketplace economy weakened America by sapping its morale.

“In short, welfare for the rich is good for America. But welfare for the poor is bad for America, even for the poor themselves, for it encourages them to be shiftless and lazy.

“Somehow, loans to the inefficient management of American corporations would not similarly encourage them in their inefficient methods,” wrote Shoenbrun.

Republicans have sought to dismantle Social Security ever since that program began in 1935. And Republicans have furiously opposed other programs aiding the poor and middle-class—such as Medicare, food stamps and WIC (Women, Infants, Children).

In short, this is not a political party with a history of rushing to the defense of those most in need.

So the question remains: Why are so many poor Americans flocking to its banner?

The answer lies in the history of the American South—and slavery.

MACHIAVELLI VS. THE IRS

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on August 7, 2020 at 12:10 am

More than 500 years ago, the Florentine statesman, Niccolo Machiavelli, warned: A prince…must imitate the fox and the lion, for the lion cannot protect himself from traps, and the fox cannot defend himself from wolves.  One must therefore be a fox to avoid traps, and a lion to frighten wolves. Those who wish to be only lions do not realize this. 

And never is the need greater to imitate the fox than when dealing with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Several years ago, a private investigative agency found itself in serious trouble with that agency.

One of its employees had suddenly quit the company—leaving behind a major financial disaster.

That employee—whom I’ll call Pete—had been tasked with sending payroll tax records to the IRS. The company’s owner, Bill, assumed he had carried out his assignment.

Until he learned from the IRS that they had never received the records.

Consider the potential consequences:

  • Failing to timely and properly pay federal payroll taxes results in an automatic penalty of 2% to 10%.
  • Similar state and local penalties apply.
  • Failing to properly file monthly or quarterly returns may result in additional penalties.
  • Failing to file W-2 Forms results in an automatic penalty of up to $50 per form not timely filed.
  • A particularly severe penalty applies where federal income tax withholding and Social Security taxes are not paid to the IRS.
  • The penalty of up to 100% of the amount not paid can be assessed against the employer entity as well as any person (such as a corporate officer) having control or custody of the funds from which payment should have been made.

About 70% of the annual revenue collected by the IRS comes from payroll taxes. Under-reported and unpaid employment taxes account for about $72 billion of the United States tax gap. So the IRS makes the collection of payroll taxes a high priority.

No doubt about it—Bill was facing serious trouble.

Sales/Use Tax Alert | Green NRG Institute

What to do?  

Fortunately, Steve, one of Bill’s employees, had a B.A. in Communications and had worked as a newspaper reporter.

When Bill told him of the calamity he was facing, Steve offered his best advice: Immediately contest the charge that he had been delinquent in providing the records. And explain to the IRS—in writing—what had happened.  

Bill agreed.

First,  Steve interviewed him at length to make certain he fully understood the circumstances leading up to his present crisis. 

Then Steve sat down and typed up a letter—on office letterhead stationery—-to the IRS. Letterhead would give it an official appearance—and Steve wanted every advantage he could get.

Steve offered a straightforward presentation of what had happened: Pete, the number-two man in the company, had been entrusted with submitting payroll tax records to the IRS. But, nursing a grudge against his employer, he had dumped the records in a box and stashed this in a locked filing cabinet.

Then he had given notice and left the company.  Later, an investigation of the office turned up the records—as well as the revelation that Pete had often used his office computer to access pornography.

In his letter, Steve emphasized that Bill’s company had previously had an unblemished record for meeting its payroll tax obligations on time. And he stated that the newly-found records had been sent to the IRS by registered mail.

Finally, Steve wrote that Bill was prepared to fully meet his financial obligations  to the IRS. But he asked that Bill not be penalized for the irresponsible actions of a single, disgruntled employee.

The result? 

Bill ended up paying only those monies that he legally owed.  He was not forced to pay a penalty.

So what are the lessons to be learned from this episode?

  • In dealing with an agency as powerful as the IRS, don’t ignore its letters. 
  • You have nothing to gain by pretending it will go away.  It won’t.
  • If you owe money, don’t deny it. 
  • Remain calm, even if you feel angry or afraid. 
  • Don’t use profanity or insults. 
  • Don’t try to play tough-guy with the IRS.  Even the Mafia fears this agency.
  • And with good reason: Al Capone didn’t go to prison for murder or bootlegging. He went away for income tax evasion.

  • If you have a legitimate reason for having missed a payment, say so. 
  • Remember that everything you say to the IRS—verbally or in writing—is considered evidence given under oath. 
  • If you lie and get caught, you can face perjury charges as well as those for failing to comply with tax laws.
  • Offer to fully pay any monies that you legally owe.
  • If these amount to more than you can meet in a single payment, say so. Ask the agency to set up a plan by which you can pay it off in installments.
  • If the agency balks at cooperating with you, contact a veteran tax accountant or attorney.
  • The best accountants or attorneys for dealing with the IRS are former agents now working in private practice. They not only know the tax laws; they know the best ways to short-circuit an IRS audit and/or penalties.

THE LIVES OF CHICKENS—AND AMERICANS

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Medical, Military, Politics, Social commentary on July 21, 2020 at 12:31 am

It was the night of March 5, 1836. For the roughly 200 men inside the surrounded Alamo, death lay only hours away. 

Inside a house in San Antonio, Texas, Mexican dictator Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna was holding a council of war with his generals.

For 12 days, his army had bombarded the old mission. Still, the Texians—whose numbers included the legendary bear hunter and Congressman David Crockett and knife fighter James Bowie—held out.

Now Santa Anna was in a hurry to take the makeshift fortress. Once its defenders were dead, he could march on to sweep all American settlers from Texas.

One of his generals, Manuel Castrillón, urged Santa Anna to wait just a few more days. By then, far bigger cannon would be available. When the Alamo’s three-feet-thick walls had been knocked down, the defenders would be forced to surrender.

The lives of countless Mexican soldiers would thus be spared.

Santa Anna was eating a late-night chicken dinner. He held up a chicken leg and said: “What are the lives of soldiers but those of so many chickens?”

Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna

Santa Anna ordered his generals to prepare an all-out attack on the Alamo, to be launched the next morning—March 6, 1836—at 5 a.m.

Hours later, the attack went forward. Within 90 minutes, every Alamo defender was dead—and so were at least 600 Mexican soldiers. 

“What are the lives of Americans but those of so many chickens?”

That could well be the slogan of President Donald Trump in his approach to COVID-19. 

The United States has become the country worst-affected by Coronavirus—with more than 3.9 million diagnosed cases and more than 143,000 deaths. 

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Coronavirus

Americans are living through their seventh month with the virus, and still the Trump administration cannot—or will not—design a coordinated plan to combat it.

Trump started out 2020 by dismissing COVID-19 as a threat. On January 22 he said: “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China.”

By February 28, he had termed the disease the Democrats’ “new hoax.”

By March, he was making it clear that each state was responsible for securing its needed supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) for its doctors and nurses aiding Coronavirus patients.

This has resulted in a dog-eat-dog atmosphere of cutthroat competition and scarcity, with Americans not only fighting the virus but each other.

Even worse: Trump didn’t simply refuse to provide states with vitally-needed medical supplies—he ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to illegally seize those supplies that states had ordered.

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Donald Trump

When states’ governors issued stay-at-home orders, Trump was forced to cancel his campaign rallies. Starting Easter weekend, he held almost 50 daily press briefings at the White House.

Their official purpose: To update the country on the administration’s ongoing response to the Coronavirus pandemic. Their real purpose: To serve as a substitute for Trump’s hate-filled political rallies, which have been likened to those staged by Germany’s Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler, at Nuremberg. 

Eager to return to his mass rallies and reignite his support from Right-wingers, he began furiously campaigning to end social distancing and the wearing of masks. Both of these had been mandated by such governors as California’s Gavin Newsom and New York’s Andrew Cuomo.

He also demanded the reopening of businesses across the nation—although there was no vaccine nor even adequate testing and contact-tracing facilities. This led many states—especially in the South and Midwest—to reopen prematurely—with a resulting rise in COVID infections and deaths.

He urged his Right-wing supporters to flood into the capitols of such states as Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia—whose governors were Democrats—and demand an end to mask-wearing and social distancing. This was in direct defiance of the laws legally in force in those states.

And they did as he ordered—massing shoulder-to-shoulder, most of them not wearing masks, and with many of them carrying automatic rifles.

On April 23, at a White House press briefing, he suggested that UV light and disinfectant—such as Clorox—might prove an effective preventative or cure for Coronavirus. This prompted alarm from medical professionals—even as some Americans believed him and swallowed disinfectant to prevent COVID-19.

Unable—or unwilling—to effectively attack the virus, Trump chose to attack the medical professionals desperately trying to save lives. He accused them of hoarding scarce medical supplies and lying about the number of COVID cases they were treating. 

His chief target: Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. There were two reasons for this:

  1. Fauci repeatedly warned about the dangers of the virus—and criticized the failure of the Federal Government to  effectively combat it; and
  2. His warnings and criticisms repeatedly proved correct, while Trump’s rosy predictions proved wrong.

Now Trump demands that Americans put their children at risk by sending them back to school in the fall—so their parents can return to work. Then he can claim he’s “saved” the American economy—and be re-elected.

Donald Trump’s ultimate “strategy” on COVID-19: “Pretend it’s over and re-elect me. Then drop dead for all I care.”

“TWITTER RULES” MEAN NOTHING TO TRUMP–OR TWITTER: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Politics, Social commentary on May 28, 2020 at 12:05 am

On December 12, 2017, President Donald Trump used Twitter to attack New York United States Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

Gillibrand was among six Democratic Senators who called for Trump’s resignation after sexual harassment allegations forced three Republican and Democratic members of Congress to resign.

Trump tweeted: “Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office ‘begging’ for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump. Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked-USED!”

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Kirsten Gillibrand

“I see it as a sexist smear. I mean that’s what it is,” Gillibrand replied in a press conference. “It’s part of the President’s efforts of name calling and it’s not going to silence me, it’s not going to silence me. It’s intended to silence me.”

So how does this behavior apply to “The Twitter Rules”? 

Abuse/harassment: You may not engage in the targeted harassment of someone, or incite other people to do so. This includes wishing or hoping that someone experiences physical harm.

On February 17, 2017, Trump tweeted: “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!”

On July 2, 2017, Trump tweeted a video showing him punching a man with the CNN logo superimposed on his head during a WWE wrestling match.

And on August 15, 2017, the President retweeted a cartoon photo of a “Trump Train” running over a CNN reporter.

President retweeted image of Trump train running over CNN reporter ...

Yet Twitter’s Terms of Service state: 

Violence: You may not threaten violence against an individual or a group of people. We also prohibit the glorification of violence. 

In May, 2020, Trump tweeted six times about a decades-old conspiracy theory about MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough. Scarborough has been highly critical of Trump’s actions as President—such as his pushing “scam solutions” to Coronavirus instead of relying on scientific experts.

Trump’s smears about Scarborough center on the 2001 death of Lori Klausutis, who worked in his Florida office when he served in Congress. Scarborough’s opponents and a bevy of internet trolls have tried to blame him for her death, even though he was in Washington at the time.  

Trump tweeted that Comcast—which owns MSNBC—“should open up a long overdue Florida Cold Case against Psycho Joe Scarborough.” Since then, he has essentially accused Scarborough of murder. 

On May 21, Timothy Klausutis, Lori’s widowed husband, wrote Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO, asking him to delete Trump’s tweets, 

Image result for Images of Jack Dorsey

Jack Dorsey

“Nearly 19 years ago, my wife, who had an undiagnosed heart condition, fell and hit her head on her desk at work. She was found dead the next morning,” wrote Klausutis. “Her passing is the single most painful thing that I have ever had to deal with in my 52 years and continues to haunt her parents and sister. 

“The President’s tweet that suggests that Lori was murdered—without evidence (and contrary to the official autopsy)—is a violation of Twitter’s community rules and terms of service.”

Twitter has refused to delete the tweets.

CNN Business asked Twitter if Trump’s “cold case” tweets violated its rules and if any action would be taken. Twitter refused to comment.

So how do Twitter’s top executives justify allowing these repeated violations of “Twitter Rules”?

On September 25, 2018, the company tweeted:

“We hold all accounts to the same Rules, and consider a number of factors when assessing whether Tweets violate our Rules.

“Among the considerations is ‘newsworthiness’ and whether a Tweet is of public interest. This has long been internal policy and we’ll soon update our public-facing rules to reflect it. We need to do better on this, and will.”

Twitter has never acknowledged publicly that Trump has violated any of its guidelines. It rarely even acknowledges Trump’s tweets. 

So what gives? 

Money. 

Trump’s apologists have fiercely defended his tweetstorms, claiming they allow him to bypass the media and “communicate directly with the American people.” 

One of those apologists is Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who said: “I believe it’s really important to have these conversations out in the open, rather than have them behind closed doors.”

In April, 2017, Twitter announced that it had added 9,000,000 new users, its largest quarterly jump in two years. 

“We believe Twitter is the best at showing you what’s happening in the world and what’s being talked about,” said Anthony Noto, Twitter’s chief financial officer. 

“Having political leaders of the world as well as news agencies participating and driving that is an important element to reinforcing what we’re the best at.”

In short: Trump is good at attracting more Twitter users. and if the company needs to overlook his blatant and repeated violations of its “Twitter Rules,” so be it.  

Twitter has been so plagued by trolling that potential investors like the Walt Disney Company refused to taint their own reputations by partnering with it. 

But high-ranking Twitter executives refuse to end their Faustian pact with the biggest Twitter troll of all. 

And, as all devotees of the Faust legend know, there comes a time when the Devil wins the bargain.  

“TWITTER RULES” MEAN NOTHING TO TRUMP–OR TWITTER: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Politics, Social commentary on May 27, 2020 at 12:30 am

According to “The Twitter Rules,” posted on the Twitter website:

“Twitter’s purpose is to serve the public conversation. Violence, harassment and other similar types of behavior discourage people from expressing themselves, and ultimately diminish the value of global public conversation. Our rules are to ensure all people can participate in the public conversation freely and safely.”

Among these:

  • Violence: You may not threaten violence against an individual or a group of people. We also prohibit the glorification of violence. 
  • Terrorism/violent extremism: You may not threaten or promote terrorism or violent extremism. 
  • Abuse/harassment: You may not engage in the targeted harassment of someone, or incite other people to do so. This includes wishing or hoping that someone experiences physical harm. 
  • Hateful conduct: You may not promote violence against, threaten, or harass other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, caste, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease. 

That’s the official version of what Twitter users can expect from those charged with policing Twitter.

So why hasn’t Twitter policed—and purged—the single greatest abuser of its “Twitter Rules”: Donald Trump?

Consider:

Donald Trump’s tweet-first-and-never-mind-the-consequences approach to life has been thoroughly documented.

From June 15, 2015, when he launched his Presidential campaign, until October 24, 2016, he fired nearly 4,000 angry, insulting tweets at 281 people and institutions. The New York Times needed two full pages of its print edition to showcase them.

Donald Trump

Among these targets were:

  • His Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton
  • His fellow Republican Presidential candidates
  • Actress Meryl Streep
  • News organizations
  • President Barack Obama
  • Comedian John Oliver
  • Obamacare
  • Singer Neil Young
  • The state of New Jersey
  • Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

His Twitter assaults have often dominated entire news cycles for days on end.

As President-elect, he continued these assaults—such as the one on November 18, 2016.

On that evening, Vice President-elect Mike Pence attended a Broadway performance of the hit musical “Hamilton.”

After the curtain call, the actor Brandon Victor Dixon—who played Aaron Burr—respectfully addressed Pence:

“We are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our friends, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights. But we truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.”

Dixon—who is black—was rightly alarmed.

Trump had received the open and enthusiastic support of the Ku Klux Klan, American Nazi Party and other white supremacist groups. Since his election, white thugs had assaulted blacks and other non-whites across the country.

Trump’s reaction to Dixon’s plea came in two Twitter rants:

“Our wonderful future V.P. Mike Pence was harassed last night at the theater by the cast of Hamilton, cameras blazing. This should not happen!”

And: “The Theater must always be a safe and special place. The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize!”

And during his first two weeks as President, Trump attacked 22 people, places and things on his @realDonaldTrump account.

Then, on March 4, 2017, in a series of unhinged tweets, Trump accused former President Barack Obama of tapping his Trump Tower phones prior to the election.

President Barack Obama

“Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”

“Is it legal for a sitting President to be ‘wire tapping’ a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!”

“I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!”

“How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”

Thus, without offering a shred of evidence to back it up, Trump accused his predecessor—on Twitter—of committing an impeachable offense.

On May 9, 2017, Trump abruptly fired FBI Director James Comey.

Reports soon surfaced that his reason for doing so was that Comey had refused to pledge his personal loyalty to Trump.    James Comey official portrait.jpg

James B. Comey

Just 72 hours after firing Comey, Trump issued a threat to him via Twitter: “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”

And Twitter’s reaction to such a blatant threat?  Silence.

From the start of his Presidency, Trump has put his ambitions, excuses and rants on social media. And this has unnerved foreign leaders as well as Trump’s fellow Americans.As CNN Political Analyst Julian Zelizer outlined in a July 3, 2018 article: 

“…The President’s ongoing Twitter storms make all leaders uneasy. The heads of government in most nations prefer a certain amount of predictability and decorum from other heads of state.

“To have one of the most powerful people in the room being someone who is willing to send out explosive and controversial statements through social media, including nasty personal attacks or an edited video of him physically assaulting the media, does not make others….feel very confident about how he will handle deliberations with them.”

“SAY TRUMP IS BLAMELESS. SAY THERE ARE NO DEAD.”

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on April 14, 2020 at 12:30 am

President Donald Trump frittered away two vital months—January and February—by refusing to take Coronavirus seriously. Even worse, he repeatedly downplayed the virus in a series of public appearances.

Consider:

  • January 22: “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China.”
  • February 24: “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA.”
  • February 26: “The 15 cases within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero.” 
  • February 27: “One day it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”
  • February 28: “Now the Democrats are politicizing the Coronavirus….We did one of the great jobs….One of my people came up to me and said, ‘Mr. President, they tried to beat you on Russia, Russia, Russia’….They couldn’t do it. They tried the impeachment hoax….It’s all turning, they lost….And this is their new hoax.”
  • March 6: “I think we’re doing a really good job in this country of keeping it down. A tremendous job of keeping it down.” 

Image result for Trump Corona Timeline

Now, with more than 23,000 Americans dead—10,000 of them alone in New York—Trump’s fanatical defenders are desperate to rewrite history.

The outbreak of Coronavirus, first detected in Wuhan, China, in late December, 2019, has taken more American lives in the 21st century than any other disaster—natural or man-made.

Consider: 

  • 9/11:  2,977 deaths
  • Hurricane Katrina: 1,836 deaths 
  • Benghazi Embassy attack:  4
  • Ebola:
  • Hurricane Maria:  2,982,
  • Coronavirus:  23,604 (by April 14, 2020)

One of these defenders is Republican South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham. 

On April 9, appearing on the Fox News network’s “Sean Hannity” show, Graham said: “The first thing I want to do is get the United States Senate on the record where we don’t blame Trump. We blame China.

“The Chinese government is responsible for 16,000 American deaths and 17 million Americans being unemployed. It’s the Chinese government and the way they behave that led to this pandemic. This is the third one to come out of China.

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Lindsey Graham

“I want to make our response to this so overwhelming that China will change its behavior. I want to get the medical supply chain back into the United States, and I want to stop cancelling some debt that we owe to China because they should be paying us, not us paying China.”

Graham said that the “wet markets” in China should be shut down, because they have been the source of three pandemics that originated in China.  

“So, I think you’re going to see a bipartisan push back against China to punish them so severely to deter them in the future.”   

[As for “getting the medical supply chain back into the United States”: In 2018, China accounted for 95% of American imports of ibuprofen, 91% off hydrocortisone, 70% of acetaminophen, 40% to 45% of penicillin and 40% of heparin, according to Commerce Department data. Eighty percent of the American supply of antibiotics are made in China.]

Seventy-three years earlier, Chief United States Counsel Robert H. Jackson had been assigned to prosecute the major Nazi defendants for war crimes at Nuremberg. 

On July 26, 1946, Jackson delivered his closing remarks to the court. He might as well have been speaking about Donald Trump and his cheerleading—and misleading—chorus on Coronavirus:

“Lying has always been a highly approved Nazi technique. [Adolf] Hitler, in Mein Kampf, advocated mendacity as a policy. {Foreign Minister Joachim] Von Ribbentrop admits the use of the ‘diplomatic lie.’

“….Nor is the lie direct the only means of falsehood. They all speak with a Nazi double talk with which to deceive the unwary….’Final solution’ of the Jewish problem was a phrase which meant extermination. ‘Special treatment’ of prisoners of war meant killing. ‘Protective custody’ meant concentration camp.

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Robert H. Jackson

“Besides outright false statements and double talk, there are also other circumventions of truth in the nature of fantastic explanations and absurd professions.

“[Rabid anti-Semite Julius] Streicher has solemnly maintained that…his reason for destroying synagogues…was only because they were architecturally offensive….

“This was the philosophy of the National Socialists. When for years they have deceived the world, and masked falsehood with plausibilities, can anyone be surprised that they continue their habits of a lifetime in this dock? 

“It is against such a background that these defendants now ask this Tribunal to say that they are not guilty of planning, executing, or conspiring to commit this long list of crimes and wrongs.”

Citing William Shakespeare’s play about the murderous Richard III, Jackson concluded:

“They stand before the record of this trial as bloodstained Gloucester stood by the body of his slain king. He begged of the widow, as they beg of you: ‘Say I slew them not.’ And the Queen replied, ‘Then say they were not slain. But dead they are…’

“If you were to say of these men that they are not guilty, it would be as true to say that there has been no war, there are no slain, there has been no crime.” 

If Americans find Donald Trump blameless for refusing to take decisive action against the Coronavirus threat, it will be as true to say there has been no plague, there are no thousands of dead Americans, there has been no dereliction of Presidential responsibility. 

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