Notes from Wolf County — Christmas, Supply Side Vampires, and the Queens’ Caligula has a Cow


It’s harder  to write for Veterans New Report or Vets in general during the Trump Administration than you might think. It’s just such a target rich environment. If you watched the Trump version of Bob and Carroll, Ted and Alice the other day when the fool decided to demand that the Dems cough up votes he can’t get from his lackeys to pass some abominations — the wall we don’t need, maybe more more tax cuts for the rich, amnesty for all crimes ever committed or ever to be committed for people named Donald Trump, Donald Trump Junior, Eric Trump or Ivanka Trump — he managed to make an absolute ass of himself.

MAGA Planning Committee  West Texas 2016

That one was amazing. He could have had a earwig in get data from Stephen Miller to prove his points but he decided to wing nut himself. Mike Pence did a credible imitation of an animatronic Vice President, occasionally moving his head but saying nothing and doing nothing. Nancy Pelosi took him to school on facts; and while he was trying to mansplain the last election to Pelosi, Chuck Schumer got the knife into the small of his back, and gave a twist. Picking up two votes in the Senate would have been a great accomplishment if the states hadn’t gone by 30 points or so to him in the last election. His designated Wingnut in Arizona — who makes a lot more sense than she did in this campaign — lost John McCain’s seat. Meanwhile, he picked up seats — or the Senators picked up the seats, in Indiana, North Dakota and Missouri. Schumer pointed out that when the President brags about winning North Dakota and Indiana, he’s kind of underlying that he lost the flipping election.

Oh well, if Miller had been whispering talking points into his ear, they’d have probably been from Der Sturmer in the original German. At least, Hitler wrote Mein Kampf himself, unlike The Art of the Deal or Trump’s other literary classics. Would have been more revealing, since I suspect the Queen’s Caligula is as illiterate in the language of his forebears as he is in the language of this country…

Since I originally wrote this, the President has had a great time, and has now has had his second public resignation from principle, that of Secretary of Defense James Mattis. The first was the ambassador to Panama, a career diplomat who couldn’t handle the nonsense anymore. Mattis was and is a career patriot-Marine-Defense Intellectual. He’s one of many officers and senior NCOs who carry a copy of Aurelius’ Meditations. I think he reached the point with Trump after the Syria withdrawal decision without consultation with DOD, State, CIA or our allies that he realized that there was nothing he could do to gain control over some element of his career and his life but to leave. There will be a line of universities, think tanks, and defense contractors lining up to hire him; this may have been one of the more heroic actions in a career filled with them. Of course, when you’ve been shot at, Donald Trump is nowhere near as scary. 

Kid you’re gonna be a star. Let me give you some advice, ok? Talk low, talk slow and don’t say very much. — John Wayne to Michael Caine, Hollywood Hotel, 1968

If you’ve never quit a job working for crazy people or have had a crazy boss fire you, you have no idea how wonderful you feel as you walk away. It’s like dropping the weight of 100 rucksack on the toe of the person who’s been making your life miserable. Happened to me once and I couldn’t control myself. I just got this huge, shit-eaten grin and kept it through the rest of my “termination” hearing, resulting in a lot more money in severance and guaranteed references. Mattis doesn’t need any of that. I’m sure he’ll struggle with the decision because that’s what you do when you’re a Marine or Soldier — you worry about whom you’ll leave behind. If you trained them right, they’ll do fine. 

So, when there’s a strong element of satire in your writing, as there is in mine, it’s difficult. Also, when you are practicing Stoicism as a substitute for religious faith and as a working philosophy, things that leave you speechless with rage are best avoided. However, some things just make it clearer and clearer that we are a lost nation, stumbling toward some new realities that might amaze us. 

For example, as we get close to tax time, we discover that the working poor are as likely as the rich to be audited. And, for them the fact of the audit really hurts. Pro Publica has a marvelous and horrible piece about how by starving the IRS of money to hire, train and employ people to perform audits, the IRS is reduced to robbing paperboys while ignoring actual bank robbers. In fairness, the gutting of the IRS has been a Republican project for a number of years. It’s easier to 1000 people claiming the Earned Income Credit than one rich guy with a tax lawyer. 

Since we judge efficiency by volume rather than quality in this society, guess what? The IRS can only succeed by auditing a lot of people, and claiming the EIC seems to be a red flag to attract auditors. If you’re making $20K a year and claiming the EIC,  you’re far more likely to be audited than someone making $400K. Ain’t it funny, as Willie put it, how shit slips away. 

So gutting the IRS not only puts a lot of highly trained people on the street or keeps them there by never hiring them, but also works a bonus for rich people at the expense of the working poor. Fully funding the federal government means more people to do the things the government does and do it better and in a more timely manner.

Let me suggest that a family of four as in the cover story living of LA on $33000 a year and claiming a lousy $2000 tax audit might not deserve to be audited and have their fully legal return held for over a year because the IRS is so understaffed while people who routinely have a lot of cash income that they don’t report (studies indicate on average, these folks pay about 37 per cent of the money they owe Uncle Sam, based on those audits that do get performed) is a criminal taking violation of the Bill of Rights and any common sense type of justice.

Starving the IRS of money to hire, train and employ people to perform audits, the IRS is reduced to robbing paperboys while ignoring actual bank robbers. In fairness, the gutting of the IRS has been a Republican project for a number of years. It’s easier to 1000 people claiming the Earned Income Credit than one rich guy with a tax lawyer. 

How about having people with gross incomes of $50K or less have no taxes due to the federal government? Come on Congress, this is an actual abomination in the same class as electing a Russian useful idiot to the presidency. In fact, there are a lot of stuff happening that violate even the latest silliness of a tax code that should be audited. Much of which would actually increase revenue. Go for it. 

Now, of course, the President has vetoed the first attempt at a continuing resolution to fund the government. He threatened to do so, and the few honest brokers in the Republican party and his government convinced him briefly that this was a terrible idea. Close down seven agencies including Homeland Security the Friday before Christmas? You have to ask, is the man taking something besides diet Coke and Chicken to help him sleep because he’s hallucinating badly.

Since we expect the Polar Vortex to start spreading tidings of great joy and hypothermia starting about December 25, is screwing up FEMA, Customs, Coast Guard and all the rest really a great idea right now in the best interests of the people of the United States? Nah, but with no wall funding, Rush Limbaugh, Anne Coulter and some of the other right wing trolls and trollettes were horrified. Coulter tweeted that we have a  gutless president cowering without a wall. So it’s better to have a gutless president cowering behind a wall? And from whom does he cower? Anne Coulter? Someone dust off the 25th Amendment, because we clearly see a President who is unable to perform his constitutional duties. Like a balancing seal who loses his sense of balance, flat on his face while the ball formerly on his nose rolls off to the side of the ring. Trump has taken his learnings on government and leadership from Yul Brynner in The 10 Commandments, and remember how well that worked for Ramses…



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Michael is a Retired Army First Sergeant, retired Corporate HR Executive, Occasional Adjunct Professor of Management, Organizational Effectiveness Free Range Consultant, Stoic Philosopher of sorts, Proud Heritage Irish Catholic Apostate... He went from turning down fellowships to Graduate School after Holy Cross to Fort Jackson and a guy with few teeth from Georgia screaming at me to move his ass! And he enlisted after the draft ended. Twenty-three years active duty from 1974 to 1997 flipping between duty as REMF-Unit designated Grunt to Grunt Unit designated Smart Guy. Last ten years either an Operations Sergeant Major (4 years) or First Sergeant (6 years). Made the CSM list a week after retirement papers went in. He went into Human Resources because people said it was like being a First Sergeant. Michael is retired these days, with time to think, write and occasionally enjoy life a bit. He reads five papers every day, lots of books on what interests me and pays attention. He has basic Socialist leanings. He is also a musician - fifty years plus with a guitar. Ex-marathon runner now lifting weights and grunting a lot to stay sort of in shape. Michael is deadly serious about the issues but he likes to present with a lot of dry humor and satire. He discomforts the rich, offends the powerful and laughs at the pompous. So, stay awake and pay attention, or you'll miss the jokes. He refers to himself as a Progressive with an anarchist tendency. Think Bobby Kennedy Democrat at home with Sinn Fein; either a saintly advocate of sweet reason and justice or an arrogant self-righteous SOB with a traditional First Sergeant's vulgar mouth and dislike of anyone's rules but his own. That's Michael Farrell