All posts by Marcy

About Marcy

Advocate of Constitutional guarantees to individual liberty.

Ad for Marshall's Cigarette

When Cigarettes Cured Asthma

The Stanford School of Medicine has an amazing collection of old cigarette ads. Up until the 1960s, tobacco companies were comfortable targeting children, young mothers, even those with respiratory complaints, since cigarettes carried a tradition of being medicinal.

Some early brands claimed to relieve the symptoms of catarrh, cold in the head, asthma, and hey fever. Starting around the 1930s, tobacco companies claimed doctors recommended their brand as the gentlest and the mildest.

That was the science of the day.

Unfortunately for the tobacco companies, science evolves as events are discovered, documented, and form the basis of new customs and policies. By the mid 1950s, tobacco companies had to confront the growing links between their products and cancer. Their ads then shifted to claims that studies on the dangers of tobacco were inconclusive.

In 1954, tobacco companies released “A Frank Statement to Cigarette Smokers” arguing that research showing a link between cancer and smoking was alarming but not conclusive.

Recent reports on experiments with mice have given wide publicity to the theory that cigarette smoking is in some way linked with lung cancer in human beings.

Although conducted by doctors of professional standing, these experiments are not regarded as conclusive in the filed of cancer research.

That science apparently made sense back then.

However, thankfully, not everyone was convinced. The U.S. Department of Justice listened to the emerging research on the dangers of tobacco. They sued tobacco companies on the ground that they had mislead the public and misrepresented the addictiveness of nicotine. On August 17, 2006 Judge Gladys Kessler of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia issued a 1,683 page opinion holding the tobacco companies liable for violating the RICO act by fraudulently covering up the health risks associated with smoking and for marketing their products to children.

At that point, forceful warnings, curtailment of advertising, and high taxation on tobacco products aimed at reducing consumption.

Tobacco companies tried their best to discredit information that went counter to their agenda. While they did, a lot of people kept on smoking and kept on contracting lung cancer.

Given today’s efforts to discourage divergent thoughts on the currently accepted science of hot topics like climate change and pandemics, we all might need a reminder that science evolves – it is supposed to evolve.

Cigarette ad
IBM PC 5150

Bill Gates, DOS and OS/2: A Windows Tale that Won’t Die

Bill Gates, co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is nowadays often in the news advocating for world health. But before Bill Gates the philanthropist, there was Bill Gates of DOS, OS/2, IBM, and Windows. For those not entirely familiar with the “old” Bill Gates, here is often-told, but forever fresh story.

First, how big is Windows?

Windows has been top dog in the operating system market since 1992. The tablet market is dominated by IOS and Android, but Windows has 80% of the U.S. desktop and laptop markets. Server versions of Windows run bank ATMs and other infrastructure.

How did Windows get so big?

The short answer is Windows enjoys a monopoly. A better insight lies in a story of Bill Gates and IBM that has as many versions as there are people who tell it. Here is one very compressed version of that story.

DOS and IBM’s PC 5150

Around the late 1970s, IBM, mainly a maker of mainframe computers, decided enter the emerging personal computer market where Apple, Atari, Commodore, and Tandy were already making strides. IBM had to develop a machine that could compete – compact and economical. And IBM had to move fast before any of the other companies dominated the market.

The vast mainframe-dominated bureaucracy of IBM needed to innovate. Instead of building all components of the personal computer in-house, IBM procured outside products. IBM aimed for an open architecture to enable manufacturers to supply peripherals. Instead of developing an in-house operating system, IBM partnered with Bill Gates’ Microsoft.

Microsoft outfitted IBM’s new machine with MS-DOS, a non-graphical command line operating system Microsoft purchased and patched up to make it compatible. The language was Microsoft BASIC, a Microsoft-developed dialect of the original BASIC.

The IBM 5150 was introduced August 1981, and was wildly successful. In 1983, instead of “Man of the Year,” Time Magazine featured the 5150 as “Machine of the Year.”

But there were a couple of problems: Cheaper clones soon surfaced, and Microsoft was more than happy to outfit them with MS-DOS. Remember, MS-DOS belonged to Gates, not to IBM.

OS/2 Is Born

So, IBM decided to develop a more sophisticated operating system that would avoid the problems encountered with DOS. Surprisingly, IBM again recruited Bill Gates to help.

The IBM/Gates alliance produced OS/2, introduced in 1987. It was a protected-mode operating system that allowed for virtual memory, extended memory, and multitasking. The original OS/2 was text mode, but OS/2 1.1 introduced graphics.

Unfortunately, OS/2 had its own problems. OS/2 looked too much like MS-DOS to the average user, did not have adequate user support from IBM, and did not find itself bundled in popular hardware of the day. Also OS/2 was big and clunky. We are talking about 20 – 25 3.5” installation disks depending on the version.

It did not help that Bill Gates introduced Windows 2, full of graphics and other bells and whistles, also in 1987 in direct competition with IBM. Again in 1992, when IBM unveiled OS/2 2.0, Microsoft introduced Windows 3.1. PC manufacturers were encouraged to bundle Windows and other Microsoft products in every PC they sold.

IBM did a lot better with the server versions of OS/2, which was considered a very stable operating system. For nearly 20 years, OS/2 ran bank ATMs and other infrastructure (famously, the New York City subway). IBM discontinued support of OS/2 in 2006, as Windows made inroads in the infrastructure market, partly by effective and aggressive marketing.

This is not to say OS/2 is dead. IBM licensed OS/2 to Serenity Systems as eComStation, and later to Arca Noae as ArcaOS in 2017. Arca Noae is still around upgrading and supporting OS/2.

In case you are wondering what the text-mode DOS looked like

Chances are, if you use a desktop or a laptop, you probably have Windows. You probably have a home screen full of colorful icons ready to instantly take you to the files you need.

DOS was not like that. If you are curious as to how deeply different this pre-Windows program was, you can get a general idea by clicking RUN or SEARCH and typing cmd. RUN will take you to system32/cmd.exe, and SEARCH to a Command Prompt screen where you can then click the cmd icon.

Some programs never die

Maybe “pre-Windows” is not entirely accurate, actually. When Bill Gates first designed Windows, DOS was the foundation. Windows ran on top of DOS until the 1993 introduction of Windows NT (originally standing for New Technology). Windows ME (Millennial Edition) was the last DOS-based system.

But DOS, as well as OS/2, will probably live forever in Geek Lore. Ask any computer enthusiast if he/she has or knows someone who has a full set of DOS and/or OS/2 disks, and the answer will probably be yes. Here is a picture of my OS/2 2.1.1 disks, along with installation instructions and product brochure.

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Article’s Featured Image: Ad for the IBM 5150 from The PC:  Personal Computing Comes of Age, a section of the IBM website.

April 1 cartoon

A Modest Proposal: Rename April 1 Useful Fools Day

Today is April 1, celebrated for centuries as April Fools Day. It’s a day to play pranks on the unsuspecting gullible. Given the current penchant for updating history and renaming symbols, the Just Vote No Blog proposes that April Fools Day be renamed Useful Fools Day. The new name would be more inclusive, and therefore more equitable.

Why the proposal?

Historians disagree on the origins of April Fools Day, but have some likely suggestions, all relating to events in the distant past: celebrations of the cult of Cybele, change from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, start of the Vernal Equinox – all old stuff. We need to add to the list a newer event that, as the ones before, produced sufficient confusion to create a large pool of unsuspecting gullible people. Also, we need to update the title of the celebration, since these days simple fools are not anywhere near as visible and important as useful fools.

Event of the 21st Century: Covid-19 Response

The Just Vote No Blog proposes that the outsized response to the Covid-19 pandemic be the 21st Century’s contribution to April 1, and that useful fools be celebrated on that day. The Blog further proposes that celebrations include not only ordinary individuals, but also a lot of Wall Street darlings, public servants, and respected professionals.

A comprehensive list of prominent useful fools would take up several volumes, so here is just a sample of possible candidates for inclusion in the updated April Useful Fools Day.

*Our fearful brethren that support a slash and burn approach to the pandemic in an effort to receive protection and safety. The establishment has been more than happy to grow by leaps and bounds by providing such protection and safety. Problem is, as is usually the case, there is a lot of collateral damage.

Discarded surgical masks strewn along the sidewalk aptly represent COVID-19’s lasting legacy. The federal medical bureaucracy’s response to the pandemic has resulted in a wasteland of lost economic and educational opportunities, psychologically damaged children, terminally lonely nursing home residents, and lives lost to suicide, illicit drug overdoses, and missed diagnoses…

Shameless non-clinician bureaucrats have stolen our lives, stolen the smiles from children’s faces, and bullied a segment of the population into paralyzing fear. Those hiding behind masks (including our precious children) no longer see people as people, but as 170-pound nests of germs and certain death.

Dr. Marilyn Singleton, MD, JD. The New Wasteland: COVID-19’s Shameful Legacy. March 31, 2021.

* Our crony capitalists in technology that turned collaborators in the war against Covid-19. Whether collaboration will protect them against anti-trust intervention and onerous regulation remains to be seen.

A decades-old law shields companies such as Facebook and Twitter from lawsuits over content their users post on their platforms. Now that legislation is under attack as lawmakers look to hold social media firms accountable.

Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill generally agree that changes need to be made to Section 230, a provision in the Communications Decency Act that gives legal protections to social media companies.

What’s Section 230? The Social Media Law in the Crosshairs of Congress. March 26, 2021.

The government has flailed in its response to the pandemic, and Big Tech has presented itself as a beneficent friend, willing to lend a competent hand. As Microsoft’s chief executive, Satya Nadella, wrote in April, “The challenges we face demand an unprecedented alliance between business and government.”

What Big Tech Wants Out of the Pandemic. The Atlantic. July-August 2020 issue.

*Our leaders in Washington forge on

Back in January 2021, President Joe Biden issued an Executive Order on domestic and international travel. A clause that stands out mandates that U.S. agencies study the feasibility of linking COVID-19 vaccination to International Certificates of Vaccination. On March 12, the White House issued a press briefing noting that the private sector and non-profits are taking care of these vaccine certificates with guidance from federal agencies.

We are to rejoice that at present government will not be keeping a central database on who has been vaccinated and who has not. We are also to rejoice Joe Biden is reviving our lives, our businesses and our economy.

Once again we seem to be blind to the collateral damage – the vaccine apps will be the equivalent of the ancient “Quo Vadis?” and the modern equivalent of “show me your papers.”

Old Saying: Nobody is useless; they can always serve as a horrible example

Useful fools are an extremely valuable commodity. They come in all forms – a concerned individual, a greedy corporation, a government on a tyranny dry run. Each hopes for protection, security or power that may or may not materialize. Each deserves a day of celebration dedicated to them.

Pictured Above

Interesting picture on Realm of History website’s article Ancient Romans and Medieval Church: The usual suspects in the origins of April Fools’ Day. From the article,

In any case, historically, April Fools’ Day possibly became a standardized affair by 18th century in Britain. The jests and pranks were especially popular in many parts of Scotland, with people actively participating in concocting fake errands and even inventing the ‘art’ of putting signs on the unsuspecting person’s back.

Parents of School Children are Fighting Back

The Just Vote No Blog recently discussed California’s BLM-inspired schools. Identity politics has permeated schools as it has other sectors of society. Some are fighting back. In San Francisco, a fuse that ignited a revolt was the Board of Education’s decision to change the merit-based admission policy of Lowell High School to a lottery-based system. This decision will bring Lowell down to the mediocre level of other San Francisco government/union-run schools.

One school official caught in the maelstrom is Alison Collins, Vice President of the San Francisco Board of Education. Her unfortunate Tweets insinuating that Asians behave like white supremacists to get ahead placed Ms. Collins in a difficult position. She offended both the race-focused progressives and the traditional-education-focused parents of Lowell High students. Mission Local in an article dated March 23, explains the situation well.

A petition calling for Ms. Collins ejection from the School Board has been posted on Change.org.

Perhaps petitions and other means of raising awareness need to be posted regarding the broader issue: school officials that descend into race peddling.

The BLM-Inspired Schools of California

On one of the windows of a public Marin County middle school there was recently not a display of children’s work or announcements of school events.  There was instead a poster issued by Black Lives Matter at School asking for a pledge of support for,

Restorative Justice. Transgender Affirming. Globalism. Collective Value. Queer Affirming. Unapologetically Black.  Loving Engagement.  Empathy. Intergenerational. Black Villages.  Black Women. Black Families. Diversity. 

One would have to wonder how a 12-year old might interpret this complex pledge.  Parents, as well as taxpayers, might want to ask themselves how time spent discussing such concepts affect time available to learn skills like reading and math. 

This Black Lives Matter at School poster falls comfortably under political propaganda.  The objective of all propaganda is to convert as many hearts and minds as possible.  Therefore, parents and taxpayers should know what they and their children are being recruited for. 

The BLM at School website from which the poster in question can be procured makes quite clear what the group wants their recruits to support.  As all attempts at winning hearts and minds, BLM at School principles contain both positive and dangerous objectives.  And, as is often the case, positive messages of love and understanding do not pass muster when the more aggressive messages are explored.  Here are samples from the BLM at School website.

It is our duty to fight for our freedom.  It is our duty to win.  We must love each other and support each other.  We have nothing to lose but our chains.   ~Assata Shakur

We are committed to collectively, lovingly, and courageously working vigorously for freedom and justice for Black people and, by extension, all people. As we forge our path, we intentionally build and nurture a beloved community that is bonded together through a beautiful struggle that is restorative, not depleting.

We are committed to fostering a queer‐affirming network. When we gather, we do so with the intention of freeing ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking or, rather, the belief that all in the world are heterosexual unless s/he or they disclose otherwise.

We are committed to disrupting the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, and especially “our” children to the degree that mothers, parents and children are comfortable.

The first objective quoted above might need clarification for those not familiar with Assata Shakur.  Ms. Shakur, a former member of the Black Liberation Army, is presently residing in Cuba, where she received asylum following her escape from prison in 1984. Her crime was murder of a state trooper during a 1973 shootout.  Her brother, Mutulu Shakur, also a member of the BLA is still incarcerated for his role in a 1981 Brinks armored truck robbery, in which two policemen (one, by the way, Black) and one Brinks guard were murdered.  In violent struggles for liberation people die, regardless of all professed love and justice.

Ms. Shakur is not the only radical honored in the BLM at School website.  Another name that should stand out, especially to residents of San Francisco, is BLM at School endorser Bill Ayers, a leader of the Weather Underground and foster parent of San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin.  However, his role in several bombings in protest of the Vietnam War during the late 1960s and 1970s is not what is significant here. 

Bill Ayers, along with other prominent radicals like Bernardine Dohrn (Weather Underground leader and retired Northwestern University law professor) and Kathy Boudin (Weather Underground leader and Columbia University co-founder of the Center for Justice), pivoted from violence to education (or indoctrination).  After his Weather Underground days, Ayers became known for his work in education theory, education reform, curriculum and instruction.

Things roll downhill, and the race/gender-focused socialism that radicals brought into universities is now sipping into primary schools.

The Marin County middle school poster could have been the idea of one teacher or one parent for all we know.  The concern here is not with that particular school, but with a wider trend of mainstreaming radicalism in children’s schools.  The California Department of Education website has a section describing California’s Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum and containing the following in the lesson plan.

… develop an understanding and analyze the effectiveness of #BlackLivesMatter and the broader Movement for Black Lives (M4BL), specifically delving into the movement’s structure, key organizations, and tactics/actions used to respond to incidents of police brutality…

The ultimate questions for parents and taxpayers need to be:  Is reform of schools, criminal justice, and some cultural conventions desirable at this time?  What is the track record of the race/gender-focused education that has gained ground during the past three decades?  Are parents and taxpayers these days willing to speak up if their answer to the first question is “Yes” and to the second question is “Lousy?”

This article was written for California Political News & Views, March 23, 2021

Recommended Article: Cancel Culture Threatening My World

Richard Eber likes to write when he has a free moment from working to make a living. His articles often appear in the Diablo Gazette and the California Political News & Views. His piece Cancel Culture Threatening My World needs to be shared. We have seen the movie before in real life – think Nazi Germany – and in countless works of fiction – think 1984 and Fahrenheit 451. Yet, the narrative continues with cancelling individuals and groups, erasing history, indoctrinating the populace, and disappearing books. Here is Richard Eber’s article as it appeared in the California Political News &Views.

Cancel Culture Threatening My World

Richard Eber, Exclusive to the California Political News and Views, 3/11/21

Being a conservative does not mean one is totally against progress. As Sonny Bono aptly put it in The Beat Goes On, “The Grocery Store’s the Super Market Now.” With that said the so called cancel culture of today has more than fulfilled the Star Trek tag line “to go where no man has gone before.”

Things have gotten so weird that living and breathing in many quarters (especially without a mask attached) is considered to be a hate crime. To adhere to PC-Woke norms in California, a proper family should likely:

Abandon their single family home in the suburbs and move into crime infested urbanized Stack and Pack housing in close proximity to government subsidized mass transit systems.

Dispose of their SUV’s in favor of utilizing bikes and buses for their primary source of getting around town. If an automobile is necessary, it should be of the electric variety.

Insist all members of the household are card carrying Democrats. If kids are exhibiting GOP like behavior such as being independent (non team players) and thrifty, it is best to seek therapy at an early age. This should be at the same time they determine their sexual identities.

Organized religion should be replaced in households with obedience to the Green New Deal. If Catholics still insist on going to confession, taking a ride in a gas powered vehicle must be worth several “Hail Mary’s”

It is recommended to enroll all family members in a Woke sensitivity course to avoid hurting the feelings of those whom they come in contact with. A new unabridged PC Dictionary must be strictly adhered to. Examples include The Homeless are Outside Urban Dwellers, Perverts are designated to be sexually dysfunctional and robbery is now part of wealth redistribution. Antifa is considered to be a middle of the road philanthropic political group similar to where the Red Cross was once stood.

Of course junkies are drug dependents and law enforcement officers are criminals wearing a badge.

Nothing is what it seems. Everything that I have grown up believing has been challenged and debunked by Cancel Culture norms.

Education and literature are at the top of the list. Banning Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn are old news. Now a good number of Dr. Seuss books are considered to be off limits because of alleged racial overtones. Historical novels such as William Styron’s The Confessions of Nat Turner, Pearl Buck’s Good Earth, Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with Wind, and anything authored by Ayn Rand are on the “no fly list.”

My greatest fear is that the works of William Shakespeare will soon no longer be considered to be relevant.

While growing up and later on, I enjoyed all of the literature listed above. At no time did I ever believe these classics belonged in the Dewey Decimal non-fiction section of the library.

Whether this proves me having good taste or gives credence to Woke sensors desire to crash and burn everything that offends them, is a matter of conjecture these days.

What worries me most about today’s so called ethnic cleansing of books are the similarities to what transpired in Nazis Germany in the 1930’s. I have to ask what is the difference between Hitler’s followers engaged in public book burning as compared to attacking poor old Dr. Seuss and the Muppets?

A match?

Separating fact from fiction seems to be chronic dilemma in the world of Woke Cancel-Culture we live in. Blocking historical events is a vehicle used to create a new social order based upon ideological purity. In doing so taking down statues of Southern Civil War heroes such as Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis have brought slightly less resistance than trying to trash Abraham Lincoln.

Nothing seems to be off limits from these history deniers.

Making Christopher Columbus a villain 630 years after he discovered American makes little more sense than depicting George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison as George Orwell’s “Unpersons” characters in his dystopian novel 1984.

The Fathers of our Country, who defeated the British in battle while writing the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution, have been placed on the scrap heap of history by the Cancel Culture. Having slaves in 17th Century Colonial times is too serious an offense for their sensitivities.

With Cancel Culture advocates, what occurred in the past is no longer relevant. All that matters is what those who interpret history today believe.

In such a totalitarian environment, our democracy has reached such a low point that in order to prosecute Donald Trump for alleged crimes committed as President; the Progressive Turnout Project PAC has organized a petition drive aimed at incoming Attorney General Merrick Garland. Based upon receiving over 100,000 signatures, he has been directed by The Court of Public Opinion to indict Trump for undefined offenses.

This is how our system of laws works today. Petitions and polls are supposed to determine how justice is dispensed.

It never occurred to these fruit cakes that if Garland was to do as they asked, he would be breaking his oath of office of administering impartial justice. Mob rule characteristic of totalitarian governments would be replacing the rule of law.

Before we get off our high horse it must be realized the Democratic PAC in gathering signatures to present the A.G. were performing this task as a fund raising ploy. It is doubtful their efforts will end up on anyone’s desk. The circular file is filled with similar schemes to raise money for Leftist causes.

Of paramount importance is that opponents of Cancel Culture be them Republican, Democrats, Independents, Green, or Libertarian, Black, Yellow, White, etc., stand up to preserve important American social values.

Somewhere along the line Joe Biden or whoever is running the asylum needs to muster up the courage to say “no” to unilaterally tearing down historical statues. Stop trying to sensor literature and tell people, (especially school children), what they should be thinking.

Is this too much to ask of the greatest democracy ever created? Do we need to dispose of Mr. Potato Head and Aesop’s Tables in the name of appeasing Woke sensitivities?

Nothing surprises me anymore. At this juncture I am afraid to answer these questions for fear that everything I know and love about my country are soon to be on the Cancel Culture chopping block.

Stop the world, I want to get off!

Freedom Trash Can to Mask Burning

Citizens of Idaho took a page from the 1960s. Back in the ‘60s the boiling cauldron of Vietnam-war protests, civil rights protests, and women’s liberation prompted action in town squares throughout America. Young men burned their draft cards, and young women tossed their bras into the Freedom Can.

On March 6, 2021, about 100 Idaho citizens gathered in front of Idaho’s state capitol to burn Covid face masks.

Darr Moon, an organizer of the mask-burning event, stated the reason for the protest.

I think people need to realize that we’re standing here today to rein back government, to reestablish our republican form of government, government that has balance between the branches. The Guardian, March 6, 2021

Today, Presidents, Governors, and Mayors play Kings and Queens by raining executive orders on the head of their constituents – stay indoors, wear masks, don’t visit Grandma, your children don’t need school. Faced with such scenarios, some folks obey but others push back.

Here are some pictures of what push-back looked like in the turbulent 60s. The women’s protest pictures are from the Smithsonian Magazine and the Vietnam War protest pictures from Les Anglonauts. Young men burned their draft cards in opposition to the Vietnam War. Women threw their bras and other symbolic items into a Freedom Trash Can to protest the “feminine oppression” that the Miss America Pageant represented. The 1960s are worth exploring, as a time when suddenly a lot of people said “NO” to the status quo.

Governor Newsom’s Recall Turns Real

What started as a Quixotic effort to remove California Governor Gavin Newsom from office, has now turned serious. The Recall Gavin Newsom campaign has gathered as of the beginning of March 2021, 1.9 million signatures. California requires 1.5 million signatures for the recall to appear on the ballot. Looks like there are almost 2 million folks that are past their tolerance point for Newsom.

What has this once popular California governor done to deserve such fate? Is he so much worse than other progressive governors? Probably not.

However, constituents have grown skeptical of Newsom’s incessant swagger about California being an economic powerhouse as homeless tents pop up everywhere, public pensions become unsustainable, and California’s middle class dwindles. Workers are tired of being thrown out of jobs, first by legislation that strangles small businesses, and presently by lockdowns. Parents of public school children are seeing their children fall behind in their education as Newsom’s children attend in-person instruction in private school.

Such disregard for the common people has marked Gavin Newsom as the quintessential establishment elite – someone who conceives a self-serving vision of what people need and proceeds to impose the vision on the populace regardless of realities. The Recall is a reaction to Newsom’s perceived elitism as much as it is an attempt to put an end to his misguided policies.

The Recall Gavin Newsom campaign claims 80,000 grassroots volunteers that can be relied upon to waive signs and collect recall signatures. Campaign organizers say they have raised almost $4 million, mostly from wealthy donors within California, but some also from Nevada ($29,250), Kansas ($26,000), Texas ($20,100), and Arizona ($6,525). Interestingly, San Francisco – solidly Democrat and committedly progressive – stands second after Irvine in Newsome Recall donations.

The litany of Newsom failures listed on the Recall document include the following:

  • Housing unaffordable to the middle class
  • Exploding homelessness
  • Rising crime
  • Failing public schools
  • Harassment of independent contractors
  • Unsustainable public pension debt
  • Infringement of 2nd Amendment rights
  • Sanctuary laws that fail to screen out criminals
  • High taxes
  • Poor water management
  • A dysfunctional Employment Development Departments
  • Extreme overreach in dealing with Covid-19
  • Public schools closed for nearly a year
  • Inability to control teachers union refusal to resume in-person teaching.
  • A last straw occurred when Newsom and his wife were caught dining with lobbyists at the posh French Laundry eatery after he recommended that his constituents dine alone on Thanksgiving.

The establishment elite – not to be confused with the merely rich — operate by rules that grow without regard to what the populace want or need. For example, the Recall document mentions Assembly Bill 5, which assumes everyone wants to be an employee rather than an independent contractor, thus ruining the livelihood of many happily self employed workers.

The establishment elite do not seem to notice that often there is a discrepancy between what they mandate and what they do, as exemplified by Newsom’s French Laundry incident.

Thus, Gavin Newsom’s image stands as dubious as his policies, and a recall election to give voters a chance to weigh in on how seriously they take this matter is warranted.

GameStop Saga Continues: Congressional Hearing on Feb 18

By January 2021 half a dozen or so short sellers had lost around $13 billion. Retail investors on Reddit’s WallStreetBets forum became catalysts in catapulting the stock price of GameStop from $13.66 on December 9 to $345.83 on January 27. The unfortunate short sellers were betting the stock price of ailing GameStop would fall.

Who knows why any of the retail investors chose to invest in GameStop. Money can be made by purchasing a low-priced stock, pushing the price up by incentivizing lots of other purchasers, and selling before the stock crashes. Also much satisfaction can come from watching short sellers and other dealers in market misery squirm.

Regardless of gain or loss, or impetus for the massive investment in an ailing company, the GameStop saga will most likely have lasting effects.

Congress Wants to “Do Something”

Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, announced a full Committee virtual hearing for February 18, at 12 PM ET. Subpoenas have gone to the CEOs of Reddit, Robbinhood Markets Inc. (on-line investing platform), Melvin Capital Management LP, Citadel LLC (capital management), and Keith Gill (retail investor).

Congresswoman Waters’ statement:

We must deal with the hedge funds whose unethical conduct directly led to the recent market volatility and we must examine the market in general and how it has been manipulated by hedge funds and their financial partners to benefit themselves while others pay the price.

Did either the short sellers or the retail investors involved in GameStop do anything illegal or even unethical? They appear to have done what law and practice has allowed since the financialization of the U.S. economy away from manufacturing, the proliferation of financial instruments that facilitate market manipulation, and the abundance of cheap money and debt.

The Misery Makers Might Get a Slap on Their Wrist

Hedge funds who use short selling as one of their many money-making activities and private equity firms who specialize in buying ailing companies are indeed the most visible dealers in market misery today. Private equity firms buy struggling companies with cheap borrowed money, and burden the companies with debt and a downsized workforce. As the companies struggle to pay interest on their debt, hedge funds borrow the companies’ stock from brokers, sell it, and then buy back the stocks at a lower price.

Poor management, inflexible strategies in changing times, and lately government responses to the Covid-19 pandemic contributed to the downfall of companies that were household names: Thomas Cook Travel, J. Crew, Neiman Marcus, Toys R Us. However, the role of the misery makers should not be overlooked.

But they also shared one increasingly common problem for retailers in dire straits: an enormous debt burden — roughly $1.7 billion for J. Crew and almost $5 billion for Neiman Marcus — from leveraged buyouts led by private equity firms. Like many other retailers, J. Crew and Neiman over the past decade paid hundreds of millions of dollars in interest and fees to their new owners, when they needed to spend money to adapt to a shifting retail environment. The Pandemic Helped Topple Two Retailers. So Did Private Equity, NY Times, June 18, 2020

Unsustainable debt is a good indicator of a company in decline that can enrich short sellers. GameStop’s debt was almost 6 times its equity at July 31, 2020.

At February 12, 2021, GameStop’s price was $52.40. Depending on when investors bought GameStop stock, and when they sold it, if they sold it, they either made money or they lost money. That’s how markets work.

Let’s see what Maxine Waters contributes to this saga.

Immigrants Still Build Empires

Random thought: Is the Woke crowd underestimating the intelligence of immigrants unwittingly or purposefully to fulfill some agenda?

Actions that should bring this question to mind are not new. All children up to their late teen years have quick little brains that learn languages adequately when plunged into a new language environment, yet “bilingual education” treats them like slow learners sometimes for years. Politicians and the media lump immigrants into the category of “people of color,” and relegate that group to the helpless people pile. Progressives express astonishment when naturalized Latino citizens vote for non-progressive candidates (as so many voted for Donald Trump) thereby ignoring the progressive mandate.

Immigrants have gone from being viewed as the builders of America, the captains of industry and culture to being the victims of “white supremacy.” Are our children learning about Andrew Carnegie and Isabel Allende? How about Sandra Cisneros and her classic The House on Mango Street?

One of the most important themes of The House on Mango Street is the power of words. Esperanza first learns that the lack of language (especially English) means powerlessness, as with Mamacita, who is trapped in her apartment by her ignorance and fear of English. This leads to Esperanza understanding the power of controlling language, which first comes through the idea of names. Litcharts – The House on Mango Street

Words and language are immensely powerful tools. Control language, control our personal destiny. Control language, control the populace. Repeat enough times words like “white supremacy,” and even putdowns sound like fighting words for equity and justice:

We are prioritizing antiracist arts instruction in our work,” department director Sam Bass told ABC7. “The use of so many acronyms within the educational field often tends to alienate those who may not speak English to understand the acronym. Newsweek, 02/02/21

And not capable to inquire, find out, get acquainted with an acronym?

In Rules for Radicals, Saul Alinsky’s manual for radical change, he says,

The general idea here is that purity about tactics is a luxury that only the already powerful can afford; that doesn’t mean anything goes, but it does mean that the undesirability of a particular means has to be weighed against the gravity of the injustice being fought.

The organizers first job is to create the issues or problems, and organizations must be based on many issues. The organizer must first rub raw the resentments of the people of the community; fan the latent hostilities of many of the people to the point of overt expression. He must search out controversy and issues, rather than avoid them, for unless there is controversy people are not concerned enough to act. . . . An organizer must stir up dissatisfaction and discontent.

If erasing the past, creating issues, and cornering as many groups as possible into a corner of helplessness furthers a cause, so be it.

Pictured: Beto Perez (standing), immigrant from Colombia and founder of the enormously successful Zumba aerobics routines.