A Rabbit and A Cautionary Tale


by Roxanne Tellier

Before we start pondering this wild new terrain they’re calling 2020, I need to know …

Why is Carnival Cruises using Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit as their new theme song? Is “Feed Your Head” a wink and a nod to the endless buffets? Or have they gone full hedonist and now include hallucinogens and your drugs of choice in the all inclusive, nonstop, eat til you burst smorgasbord? And that bartender mixing a cocktail – is he slipping something interesting into the pineapple and cherry garnished goodness of that woman’s rum punch? I don’t know if the song is meant to encourage a druggy intemperance, or if it’s meant to trigger the old hippie who, upon hearing the song, says to the spouse, ‘damn, the last time we dropped acid, this song was hot. How’s about we find us some electric Kool-Aid and blow the kids’ inheritance on crack and a Carnival Cruise?!”

Inquiring minds want to know.

Why is it that, no matter how many times Susan Collins pretends she’s thinking of going against the GOP to actually be bipartisan, we all believe that this time… THIS TIME … she’ll actually come through? 

Inquiring minds want to know.

And why is it that the right to free speech ends when you yell ‘Fire!’ in a public place, potentially harming other citizens, but your right to ‘bear arms’ doesn’t end when you use those arms against other citizens?

Inquiring minds want to know.

This year has really started off with a lot of bang bang. You have to wonder about scale, about where you go from here, when, just three days into the new year, you’ve already assassinated the second most powerful person in Iran, apparently on a whim, on a wish to distract trump’s reality show viewers from the machinations of the Impeachment trial, and on the whispered prayers of some of your party’s most fanatically religious hawks

If you’re a reader of apocalypta, a student of history, and a political junkie, it’s not all that hard to see that the speed bumps visible on the road ahead are landmines, and that it’s time to watch where you’re placing your feet and your future.

Certainly, 40% of currently serving Republicans would agree; they’ve opted to retire from politics, rather than to stand up to the Mean Boy who wants to rule the world.

Trump’s cruelty is sadistic, the viciousness of a twelve-year-old boy torturing creatures smaller than himself, just because he can. He started his ‘reign of terror’ just one week after his inauguration by implementing a cruel Muslim Ban that affected tens of thousands of travelers.

Executive Order 13769, titled Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States, politically labeled as a Muslim ban by detractors or a travel ban by supporters, was an executive order by United States president Donald Trump. Except for the extent to which it was blocked by various courts, it was in effect from January 27, 2017, until March 16, 2017, when it was superseded by Executive Order 13780. Executive Order 13769 lowered the number of refugees to be admitted into the United States in 2017 to 50,000, suspended the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days, suspended the entry of Syrian refugees indefinitely, directed some cabinet secretaries to suspend entry of those whose countries do not meet adjudication standards under U.S. immigration law for 90 days, and included exceptions on a case-by-case basis. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) lists these countries as Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. More than 700 travelers were detained, and up to 60,000 visas were “provisionally revoked”.”

Remember that? And how scary it was, and how pretty much everyone thought that this was way worse than what most people had envisioned, even under a maniac like Trump?  Feels normal, almost business like usual now, doesn’t it? 

achtung, baby ….

After all, the outrageous acts that followed, mainly scripted by Trump’s trained Nazi, Stephen Miller, just kept getting more sadistic and insane as the years passed, didn’t they? Once you’ve started rounding up immigrants and refugees, and children are dying in freezing camps under unsanitary conditions, while your air and water are daily treated as commodities to be sold but not enjoyed by the nation, it’s a little hard to believe that the GOP once tried to start a Civil War because the last president wore a tan suit and didn’t put down his coffee cup to salute a soldier.

More than three years into this abomination immigrants, minorities, the DACA kids, journalists, and anyone who has dared to speak up against Trump have learned the hard way that he is utterly merciless, and terrifyingly vengeful.

“When it first came out it was viewed as being far-fetched. However, when I wrote it I was making sure I wasn’t putting anything into it that humans had not already done somewhere at some time.”

When Kathy Griffin took the publicity photos that wound up derailing her life, upending her career, and costing her hundreds of thousands of dollars, she only meant to comment on Trump’s own nastiness in painting prominent women as ‘bleeding from their eyes, their whatever.”  Little did she know she was about to become the test case for how Trump could effectively and efficiently decimate his enemies.

This is what America has become: a place where in the wake of a single misstep, a single misspoken word, a career can be canceled. It’s now a place where the president of the United States can happily use the full power of his office to destroy an American citizen. Griffin’s booked gigs were all summarily cancelled, she was put on the no-fly list for two months, and remains on the Interpol border check list. Her lawyers confirmed that she was investigated by the Secret Service and the Justice Department. They considered charging her with conspiracy to assassinate the president of the United States, the sentence for which is life in prison.

Exhibit A: Halloween Mask and Ketchup

All for the crime of taking a photograph of herself with a mask drenched in ketchup. Which, I may add, she was assured over and over was a perfectly legal act.

Do yourself a favour – take the phrase, “only those that have something to hide, hide something” out of your lexicon. It can and WILL be used against you.

In a recent column, musicologist Bob Lefsetz noted,

“As a Jew you grow up learning about the Holocaust, and you wonder, would you leave? Looks all rosy from the other side, especially if you know history, but are you willing to give up everything, your house, your friends, your money, in order to try and preserve your life? And the emphasis here is on “try.” It’s like a human version of “Let’s Make A Deal.” And I’m asking you, do you feel lucky? I don’t.

Kind of how I used to talk to Republicans. I always tried to see their side, keep it calm, but the funny thing is they never tried to see my side. Oh, they thought they knew it and it was incorrect, so they had no time for it. But in the age of Trump, I don’t suffer them anymore.”

Consider what Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch has gone through in the last year, both in the Ukraine, where she was serving, and in the last few months since she testified at the impeachment enquiries. The tales that she told of feeling ‘unsafe’ and of being whisked away in the middle of the night after her manager heard of threats against her seemed unreal, and possibly exaggerated. Since the inquiry, she’s received death threats for telling her truth. 

Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch

And yet, recent information proves that she was very much in harm’s way, and completely unprotected – indeed, instead, targeted – by emissaries from her own country.

“All the president had to do was say he didn’t want me in the job, and I would have been gone.”

So why was Yovanovitch tormented, and threatened rather than just fired? And why did she ‘have to be’ removed? Sheer sadistic cruelty.

Trump told his Ukrainian counterpart in July 2019 that she was “going to go through some things,” according to a rough White House transcript of the presidents’ conversation — a message Yovanovitch said she found threatening.”

https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/16/politics/ukraine-investigation-marie-yovanovitch-surveillance/index.html

One of the little bits of news that flashed by last year without really being noticed was something so petty, and yet so vile, that it was hard to believe it could possibly be true. And yet, there it was.

“Trump’s administration and the Social Security Administration have been working closely together to cut down on the number of false disability insurance claims they believe are being filed. And the Trump administration’s newly proposed plan apparently involves studying the social media accounts of disabled people to make sure they don’t look active.  

Disabilities don’t all manifest the same way and definitely can’t be judged based on pictures posted to social media, a space where people tend to post images reflecting an idealized version of themselves and their lives. It’s cruel–not to mention inevitably ineffective–to essentially tell them they’re being watched to make sure they don’t appear too active, or possibly even too happy.”  (New York Times, April 2019)

Forget about checks and balances – the mad king is hellbent on destroying every last bit of happiness, health, and positivity in America. Just because he can. And keep in mind, we never know who’ll be next to be punished by this monster who demands total respect and loyalty from others, while he is incapable of returning the favour.

I wish I could be more positive about this coming year; I truly do. But I can’t, because history, and a strong sense of self-preservation, tell me that it’s not just Americans that will need to stay on their toes to survive until November 2020, and the election that may or may not succeed in removing this gross abuser of massive power.

Iran could tell you – it is the world that must be on alert.

…………………………………………………………………..

I don’t know Larry Cruse, but this post was brought to my attention a day or two ago, and needs to be read, far and wide.


“When Donald Trump says that he does not know Lev Parnas, I absolutely believe him. You can show me video after video, picture after picture, of the two of them together. You can show me articles like this, showing that Trump sent envoys to ask Parnas for his help. You could show me witness after witness who swears that the two of them were friends. It would not matter. 

When Donald Trump says that he does not know Lev Parnas, I believe absolutely that he does not know him.

Donald Trump is a narcissistic sociopath. His entire circle of friends and confidants consists of exactly one person, himself. He has no affection, no loyalty, no sense of obligation, no sense of friendship, no empathy, no respect, no admiration, no deference, no consideration, for anyone but himself.

Have you not been listening to anything he has ever said!?!?

This is a man who turns in seconds on people who have stood loyally by his side for decades. A man who changes wives like most people change Kleenex. A man who is so distant from his children that he cannot tell the difference between a daughter and a lover, because, frankly, neither a daughter nor a lover would mean anything to him. A man who has never in his life had any interaction with anyone that he did not regard as transactional, and limited to exactly the duration of the transaction. The idea that he would “know” any of the people with whom he has had such relationships is at best absurdly naive

The fact that he does not know Lev Parnas is obvious.

We joke that Trump is all about Trump. We joke at his class-clownish desire to be the center of attention in all things. But, in expecting him to own up to “knowing” Lev Parnas, we demonstrate our own horrifying inability to understand what that means.

Because a man who cannot feel loyalty to a spouse or a child most certainly cannot feel loyalty to a country. A man who has no friends cannot understand the basis for alliance between countries. A man who has no empathy cannot take care of the needs of our citizens. A man who measures every fact in terms of what is in it for himself at that specific moment, cannot serve the needs of anyone else.

A man who very clearly does not know the man who he tasked with destroying other lives lacks any of the emotional makeup that would normally be required of a president. He is, as his critics have said all along, “temperamentally unfit to be president.”

The reign of Donald Trump is not the term of a president. It is a deal, in which he gets to put taxpayer money into his pocket and his base gets a ruler with the power to put immigrants, people of color, and women, back into the subordinate role ordained for them by the Republican god. 

Donald Trump will take everything he can from the deal, and when it is over, or when he gets a better deal, the man who does not know his own children, the man who does not know Michael Cohen, the man who does not know Michael Flynn, the man who does not know Lev Parnas, will not know America either. He will not know his base. He will not know the people who elected him.

The transaction will be over. And the man who does not know, anyone, will have moved on.”

When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” ~Maya Angelou

Has Democracy Become A Luxury?


With the onset of computers and advanced technology, the lines separating the haves and the have-nots have grown so far apart that 1% One Percentof the wealthy elite essentially controls the fate of 99% of the rest of the planet. The development of robotic manufacturing techniques has reduced the number of people necessary to run factories and plants. Access to cheaper labour in third world countries increases a corporation’s bottom line, at the expense of jobs in the corporations location. The rich get richer. But at the expense of the middle and lower classes.

Capitalism is a funny thing; at its best, capitalism should promote economic growth, as measured by a standard of living enjoyed across the whole of its extended reach. Proponents would argue that this give and take would bring about a better availability of food, housing, clothing, and health care, better education for children, and the ability to provide for the elderly and less fortunate. Capitalism assumes a level playing field, where more opportunities exist for individuals to create their own businesses or new professions.

99 percentBut in practice, “capitalist economies prioritize profits and capital accumulation over the social needs of communities, and capitalist enterprises rarely include the workers in the basic decisions of the enterprise.” (Tom Brass, author and academic, University of Cambridge.)

Modern day capitalism has its origins in slavery and indentured servants; “when historians talk about the Atlantic market revolution, they are talking about capitalism. And when they are talking about capitalism, they are talking about slavery.” (Greg Grandin, Historian.)

Politicians have pandered to the wealthy for decades. “Reaganomics,” or “the trickle-down theory,” posited that “tax breaks or other economic benefits for businesses and upper income levels will benefit poorer members of society by improving the economy as a whole. “ (Wikipedia)Trickle Down

It’s a lovely thought, but just a theory, I’m afraid. Corporate and personal greed eclipsed the high-minded ideals, and by 2008, after the spectacular 2007 global collapse of the banking system, economist Alan Greenspan admitted to the United States Congress that, “The whole intellectual edifice collapsed. I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders. … I was shocked.”

In 2013, Pope Francis issued an 84-page paper describing unfettered capitalism as “a new tyranny” and calling upon world leaders to fight rising poverty and inequality: “Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.” (Wikipedia)

crashSo, on the one hand, capitalism has the potential to benefit both the job creators and the workers, while raising the overall standard of living for society. On the other hand, capitalism can create economic and social instability, fiscal inequality, endanger or destroy the natural resources of its own or other countries, and has only to hold its own self accountable for how profits are distributed throughout that society, whether through payrolls, donations, or taxation.

Ah, what to do, what to do? In 2010, in the United States, politicians decided that giving even more power to corporations would benefit their parties.

“Still, for decades, candidate elections remained free of direct corporate influence under federal law. Only money from individuals and groups of individuals — political action committees — were permitted in federal elections.

citizensunitedThen came Citizens United, the Supreme Court’s 5-4 First Amendment decision in 2010 that extended to corporations for the first time full rights to spend money as they wish in candidate elections — federal, state and local. The decision reversed a century of legal understanding, unleashed a flood of campaign cash and created a crescendo of controversy that continues to build today.

It matters not, the court said just this year, that some speakers (corporations), because of the money they spend on elections, may have undue influence on public policy; what is important is that the First Amendment protects both speech and speaker, and the ideas that flow from each.” (http://www.npr.org/2014/07/28/335288388/when-did-companies-become-people-excavating-the-legal-evolution)

CRONYISMIn exchange for receiving personhood, corporations sponsor politicians. And the politicians slash tax rates and offer tax credits and benefits in response. It’s a perpetual motion machinery that keeps power and money in the hands of those already in politics or corporate businesses, and gives an unfair monetary advantage to the wishes of the wealthy, while muffling the voices of socially conscious citizens who believe in a democratic government.

In Canada, under the law, a corporation has the same rights and obligations as a natural person. It can acquire assets, go into debt, enter into contracts, sue or be sued, and even be found guilty of committing a crime. A corporation’s money and other assets belong to the corporation and not to its shareholders.

Our politicians, well aware that corporations have money to burn, have adopted similar tax cuts and incentives. Corporations are taxed at 38% of taxable income, which drops to 28% after federal tax abatement, and then drops again after general tax reductions. The net tax rate for corporations keeps falling, from 18% (2010,) to 16.5% (2011,) to 15% ( 2012,) For Canadian-controlled private corporations claiming the small business deduction, the net tax rate is 11%.

taxesContrast that with your personal tax rate for this year, which is 15% on the first $44,701 of taxable income, 22% on the next $44,700, 26% up to $138,586, and 29% of taxable income over $138,586.

Most Canadians believe that those with higher incomes ought to share a bit more of the tax burden than those with low incomes, especially businesses and corporations which rely on public infrastructure to do business. Taxation lawyers argue, however, that wealthy corporations taxed more than poorer ones will simply split themselves into smaller entities to avoid the higher taxation. And a smart high-income person with good lawyers and accountants will form small corporations to shelter their income.

The harsh reality is that Harper’s government has given businesses an extra $50 billion in tax cuts and credits in the last few years. And due to cuts to the GST, personal and corporate taxes, Ottawa now collects about $45 billion less revenue per year. Meanwhile, plans are in place to cut public health funding by $36 billion over the next 10 years. Retirement age will be raised to the age of 67. Education and child care are low priorities, and our veterans are disrespected by the very people they protected during foreign wars.

InfrastructureThe rate of economic growth, government revenues and employment could be raised by investing in infrastructure like mass transit, but where can you find the funds to do so when you’ve already spent the taxpayer’s funds on corporate incentives, security, policing, corrections, spy agencies and multimillion-dollar taxpayer-funded ad campaigns designed to get Canadians to vote Conservative in the next federal.election?

Capitalism appears to be trumping the objectives of democracy; the voices of the people are unheard, while money and power remain in the hands of the rich and the powerful.

It would seem that true democracy cannot co-exist with unrestrained Capitalism.

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