Voices from Russia

Sunday, 20 January 2019

20 January 2019. Back After Three Months of Hell…

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It’s been three months since my last post in October. Nicky’s health continued to deteriorate and I was getting about two to four hours of sleep a night, combined with six-day work-weeks. Finally, in November, he had to go to hospital. He’s now in rehab. This has given me the chance to recover from that period of too much work and not enough rest. I’m still working hellish hours, as that’s the only way that I can earn enough to pay the bills. I’m also going to be 65 and I’m unable to retire because of Republican cuts to Social Security (the new age of full retirement benefits is now 70, thanks to Republican greedsters allied with Establishment Dem Corporate Ass-kissers).

The system of oppression put in place by Reagan and refined by Clinton, Bush II, and Obama put most working people under the boot of worthless sorts such as hedge-fund managers, subcontractors, real-estate developers, and stock-market drones. The “conservatives” and “liberals” are the same… it’s like the last scene of Orwell’s Animal Farm… there’s no difference between Establishment Republicans and Democrats… both favour the fatcats over the common man. The worst came this January… I got a raise… from 11.00/hour to 11.10/hour, that is, I now get 4.00 USD more a week. That’s because the minimum wage in New York State went up to 11.10/hour. In effect, my employer said to me by doing that:

If we could pay you less, we would, but the law won’t let us. Now, take this extra dime and be grateful for it. We won’t give you any more. We deserve it far more than you do.

This is common throughout the USA. For the first time in its history, the USA is full of quietly desperate people. You see, since the Affluent Effluent are doing well, that’s the only thing that matters. It doesn’t matter that hedge-fund shysters ruined Sears and Toys r’ Us deliberately to earn short-term profits… the affluent managers got off relatively scot-free. The workers got fucked with no vaseline? That’s just the “invisible hand of the market”… the management class says:

We’re not to blame. We didn’t make the system. This is the world is, the way it’s always been, and the way it’s always going to be!

That’s not so. Bernie scares the shit out of them. The new class of US Representatives includes people who truly rile he Corporate Class. Trump and Clinton were of the same social background… they were “strivers”, people who wanted to be in the upper reaches, but who were kept out by the Rockefellers, Whitneys, Mellons, Scaifes, and Gardners. Obama, as a Harvard-educated corporate lawyer, was actually of higher social standing than those two are. These two are the poisoned fruit of the noxious era brought forth by Reagan, refined by the Clintons, continued by Bush II, and brought to its logical culmination by Obama. Remember, in 2008 Obama had plenty of aid for fatcats impacted by the Great Recession, but next to nil for ordinary folks. 

However, do note that the NYT, WaPo, and CNN all ignore the Yellow Vests in Europe… the media is trying to bury it. Yet, reality has a way of asserting itself. The most popular Dem candidate for 2020 is Bernie… not Warren… not Biden… not Gabbard… but will the DNC pull its head out of its ass and go back to FDR? Remember, the first president to attack the New Deal was Harry Truman… not a Republican. He was a corrupt Pendergast Machine pol who made deals with Republicans… he allowed Taft-Hartley and he instigated the Cold War. McCarthy ran rampant because Truman let him (Ike stopped McCarthy… never forget that). However, the existence of the USSR meant that the American Corporate class didn’t want to let the working people get influenced by socialism. They used two things… one, they allowed the workers to have relative prosperity, and two, they used relentless propaganda to demonise socialism. When the USSR fell and the USA congratulated itself on winning the Cold War (wrongly, but that’s what happened), the Managerial Class felt that they could do as they pleased. The Clintons did more to harm working people than Reagan ever did. 

Yet, we’re at the end of an era, not the beginning of one. Trump is a result, not a cause. Hillary Clinton is a result, not a cause. Remove both, and the infection is still there. However, we can bring back the New Deal, and take it further. Socialism is the most-favoured political stance of the young… it’s simple… the greed of the Corporate moloch has ground them down with massive student debts. Shall we see a change? Yes… the only question is how violent the transition will be. I hope that it would avoid that. God willing, I’d hope that would be so.

Well, I’m back. Maybe, not every day, but I’m feeling well enough to take my place on the firing line. Keep it focused and keep it prudent. You win nothing by pointless bravado or pseudo-intellectual vapouring. Take my hand… the way won’t be easy, but we can make it if we stand united…

BMD

Saturday, 12 August 2017

12 August 2017. “Russian Hacking” Didn’t Defeat the Clintons… Their Shitty Greedster Record Did Them In, With No Help from Outsiders

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NAFTA… “Welfare Reform”… the destabilisation of Federal Yugoslavia… the dismantling of reasonable New Deal restrictions on Wall Street profiteers… the aggression against Serbia in 1999… the deliberate bungling of healthcare reform… the sponsorship of the Kosovo gangster state… need I go on? The Clintons were feral “conservative” Repugs in everything but the name… ordinary people do have memories and did act on them. They knew that Trump was a buffoonish knave, but they also knew that the Clintons had proven themselves unscrupulous thieves and unrepentant muggers of ordinary folk. They voted AGAINST… they didn’t need “foreign meddling” to come to that conclusion. There IS a country that routinely meddles in the internal affairs of others… it ISN’T Russia…

BMD

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Barack Obama is Using His Presidency to Cash In, But Harry Truman and Jimmy Carter Refused to Do So

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Defenders of Barack Obama’s decision to do things like accept a 400,000 USD (22.8 million Roubles. 2.76 million Renminbi. 25.68 million INR. 548,000 CAD. 532,000 AUD. 368,000 Euros. 312,000 UK Pounds) check for a speech to a Wall Street brokerage house argue that the former president might as well cash in… everyone else does. That was Daily Show host Trevor Noah’s defence of Obama:

People are like, “Why doesn’t he not accept the money?” No, fuck that. So the first black president must also be the first one to not take money afterwards? No, no, no, my friend. He can’t be the first of everything! Fuck that, and fuck you. Make that money, Obama!

This argument, while common, comes from historical ignorance. It assumes that presidents have always found a way to leverage their political connections post-presidency to make money from interest groups and wealthy political actors. However, that isn’t the case. It used to be the norm for presidents to retire to ordinary life after their stint in the White House… just ask Harry Truman. When the Democratic president was getting ready to leave the White House in 1953, many employers approached him. The Los Angeles Times noted:

If he’s unemployed after he leaves the White House it won’t be for lack of job offers … but [he’s] accepted none of them.

One of those job offers was from a Florida real estate developer, asking him to become a “chairman, officer, or stockholder, at a figure of not less than 100,000 USD”… the sort of position that’s commonplace today for ex-politicians. Presumably, had Truman taken the position, it would’ve been a good deal for both parties… the president’s prestige and connections would also enrich the company. Truman declined. He wrote of his refusal to influence-peddle:

I could never lend myself to any transaction, however respectable, that would commercialise on the prestige and dignity of the office of the presidency.

Although he had a small pension from his military service, Truman had little financial support after leaving office. He moved back into his family home in Independence MO. He insisted on being treated like anyone else. He’d tell people not to call him, “Mr President”, and settled into an ordinary routine once he was back in Independence. He’d take a morning walk through the town square. He kept an office nearby where he would answer mail from Americans. He chose to engage with just about anyone who walked into his office… not only people who wrote him big checks or invited him onto their private yachts and private islands. He once said:

Many people feel that a president or an ex-president is partly theirs… they’re right to some extent… and that they have a right to call upon him.

Indeed, his office number was in a nearby telephone directory. He eventually agreed to write a memoir for Life magazine, but it was a lengthy project, which paid a far-from-luxurious stipend. Truman’s modest life post-presidency moved Congress in 1958 to establish a pension that provides an annual cash payout as well as expenses for an office and staff.

Nevertheless, Gerald Ford shattered precedent when he joined the boards of corporations such as 20th Century Fox, hit the paid speech circuit, and became an honorary director of Citigroup. However, his successor, Jimmy Carter, who grew up in a modest home in Plains GA, didn’t follow Ford’s example. He refused to become a professional paid speaker or join corporate boards. He moved back to Plains and a crowd of neighbours and supporters welcomed him home. He quickly made himself busy as a nonprofit founder and a volunteer diplomat. He did make money post-presidency…but by serving ordinary people, not the élite. He wrote dozens of best-selling books bought by millions of people across the world… the post-presidency equivalent of small donors. Carter explained his thinking to the Guardian in 2011, telling them:

My favourite president and the one I admired most was Harry Truman. When Truman left office, he took the same position. He didn’t serve on corporate boards. He didn’t make speeches around the world for a lot of money.

The presidents who came after did not choose the same path. At a time when Japan was a major trade rival with the United States, Ronald Reagan flew to Japan for a series of paid speeches after he left office. He accepted 2 million USD (114 million Roubles. 13.8 million Renminbi. 128.4 million INR. 2.74 million CAD. 2.66 million AUD. 1.84 million Euros. 1.56 million UK Pounds) for a pair of 20-minute speeches to the Fujisankei Communications Group. An additional 5 million USD (285 million Roubles. 34.5 million Renminbi. 321 million INR. 6.85 million CAD. 6.65 million AUD. 4.6 million Euros. 3.9 million UK Pounds) went for expenses related to the visit. Both Bushes also joined the paid speech circuit, and the Clintons made over 100 million USD (5.7 billion Roubles. 690 million Renminbi. 6.42 billion INR. 137 million CAD. 133 million AUD. 92 million Euros. 78 million UK Pounds) from banks and other corporations, shortly after the Clinton presidency deregulated Wall Street. Bill Clinton lamented to a student group in 2009:

I never made any money until I left the White House. I had the lowest net worth, adjusted for inflation, of any president elected in the last 100 years, including President Obama. I was one poor rascal when I took office; but after I got out, I made a lot of money.

Obama was hardly facing poverty. He already has a 65 million USD book deal (3.705 billion Roubles. 448.5 million Renminbi. 4.173 billion INR. 89.05 million CAD. 86.45 million AUD. 59.8 million Euros. 50.7 million UK Pounds) and that 200,000 USD annual pension (11.4 million Roubles. 1.38 million Renminbi. 12.84 million INR. 274,000 CAD. 266,000 AUD. 184,000 Euros. 156,000 UK Pounds). By joining the paid speech circuit… his spokesman Eric Schultz told the press that paid speechmaking will be a fixture for the former president… Obama was making a conscious choice. Obama could have been like Truman or Carter, but instead chose to be like Bush and Clinton.

1 May 2017

Zaid Jilani

The Intercept

https://theintercept.com/2017/05/01/barack-obama-is-using-his-presidency-to-cash-in-but-harry-truman-and-jimmy-carter-refused/

Thursday, 16 June 2016

16 June 2016. Friends Don’t Let Friends Vote for Neoliberals… Both “Conservative” and “Liberal”

00 I did not cause the national debt. 160616

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Don’t vote for Trump the Chump or Chilly Hilly… both are neoliberal pro-Corporatist scummers. If he runs, vote for Bernie… if not, vote for Jill Stein. Don’t vote for either side of the duopoly. BOTH ARE EQUALLY EVIL. The presidencies of George W Bush and Bill Clinton proved that. There wasn’t a tuppence worth of difference between Bush and Clinton. Do reflect on this… Chilly Hilly is Bill’s wife… Bill is using her to subvert the Constitution. Do ponder that…

BMD

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