Friday, November 29, 2013


Johann Wagener 11-29-13

That question might be left to the historians to answer.

What is certain is that Francis is not intimidated by the Ayn Rand fans, nor is he gullible or naive enought to buy into the Reaganomics "trickle down con."

This Pope is "in your face" and calling out the 1% on the hypocrisy and greed they are contaminated with.

His recent comments on capitalism suggest that he is a man who understands something about economics — specifically the link between unbridled capitalism and inequality. In an 84-page document released Tuesday, Pope Francis launched a tirade against a brutally unjust economic system — a tirade that Marx himself would have cheered:

“Just as the commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say 'thou shalt not' to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills….As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world's problems or, for that matter, to any problems.”

Is the Pope Getting the Catholics Ready for an Economic Revolution? (Maybe He Read Marx)


Johann Wagener 11-29-13

We should have seen this coming years ago. "Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade?"

Retailers have successfully transformed Thanksgiving into "Grey Thursday" followed by "Black Friday."

The 24/7 media has fallen into line and devote almost every hour reporting on "sales" and more "sales" and the millions of shoppers spending millions of dollars, none of which is even remotely related to the holiday we used to celebrate.

“This year, no turkey, no dinner,” one shopper said.

“I’m working on Black Friday so I decided to come early and get the shopping over and done with,” said shopper Michelle Sylvester.


Johann Wagener 11-29-13

Spending your holidays being mauled in malls is not what the retailers want anyone to see.

The ads and marketing omit disclaimers warning shoppers "you may be in danger when shopping during grey and black Thur-Fri. For your own protection we recommend Kevlar vests and tasers."

The shopping frenzy surrounding Black Friday has already led to a number of violent incidents across the country.

Starting as early as Thursday night, shootings and stabbings have been reported at retailers in several states. Among the most violent episodes happened yesterday at a Kohl's in Romeovile, Ill., when an alleged shoplifter dragged a police officer from his car before being shot in the arm by other law enforcement officers present at the scene, The Chicago Tribune reports.

A shooting was also reported Thursday night in Las Vegas. Two assailants reportedly attempted to steal a TV from a man who had recently purchased it. After arguing, theman was shot in the leg before the attacker sped off in his car, leaving the TV behind, CBS News 8 reports. In an email sent to The Huffington Post, Kohl's said it was "cooperating with the authorities leading the investigation" into the incident.

A police officer in Rialto, Calif., was also injured Thursday night when a fight broke out at a local Walmart.

In Virginia, a man was allegedly slashed with a knife during an altercation with another shopper over a parking space at a Walmart.

A stabbing was reported early Friday morning in Carlsbad, Calif. The victim in that case was stabbed in the stomach at the entrance of a mall, according to NBC San Diego.

Multiple instances of milder forms of violence, such as pushing and shoving over merchandise, have also been reported. Videos showing the frenzy over the deals have been shared on social media and various websites:


Johann Wagener 11-29-13

Did you know that one in five of the nation’s children is living below the poverty line? One in 45 is homeless. 

What are their lives really like? Our 2012 film Poor Kids gave some of these children a voice and a chance to speak for themselves.

If I understood you correctly when you said "I am doing God's work" Still 'God's work'? Blankfein defends Goldman when making comments like this:

Blankfein defended the payment of bonuses to employees at Goldman Sachs by arguing that it was necessary to "keep the firm together."

(Read more: Goldman CEO on risk: Worst 'absolutely will happen'

"If we hadn't paid our people we wouldn't have had a stable population at the firm," he said. "I work at the company. I don't own it. I'm not entitled to blow it up" by not paying bonuses.

"I would say to Occupy Wall Street, that business has helped lift more people out of poverty than philanthropy," Blankfein said in a Wednesday afternoon panel at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting.

Philanthropy can "fill the gaps" where profit motives don't suffice to improve the lives of the poor. But it's role is "supplementary." The "bulk of it"—raising people out of poverty—is done by business, he said.

"We should educate the public more about how business and its core activities have lifted people out of poverty," Blankfein said.

In another remark likely to generate controversy, Blankfein praised the U.S. for having "accepted a higher unemployment rate" over the past few years, even as it bailed out the banks. Labor market flexibility—reflected in the ability of U.S. companies to fire workers—is one of the reasons the U.S. is doing so well despite many headwinds in the economy, he said.

"The United States is in a position where the banks are recapitalized and companies are more efficient, not because they kept people on but because they let them go. It was a social decision we made," Blankfein said.

Blankfein said that although his focus is on Republicans "right now," some blame must be placed on the Obama administration for its early behavior.

He argued that the Obama administration acted as if it were in a parliamentary system early in its first term, when it controlled both the House and Senate. It didn't reach out to Republicans enough when passing health care reform, he argued. That set the tone for the GOP's defiant stance..

If the health care reform known as Obamacare had been passed with "more Republican support and concessions to earn it," the tone in Washington would be different now, he said.

Since you are the "poster child for the 1%" I can understand why you take the position you do on social issues and follow the Romney lead in discounting 47% or more of the population but, the following comments were particularly disturbing to me; because of the hypocrisy and arrogance they infer.

"I would say to Occupy Wall Street, that business has helped lift more people out of poverty than philanthropy," Blankfein said in a Wednesday afternoon panel at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting.

Philanthropy can "fill the gaps" where profit motives don't suffice to improve the lives of the poor. But it's role is "supplementary." The "bulk of it"—raising people out of poverty—is done by business, he said.

"We should educate the public more about how business and its core activities have lifted people out of poverty," Blankfein said.

So Lloyd, here's a great opportunity for you to "educate the public." Why not take a day off, jump into your limo and take a drive around "hometown" America and see how much work you are missing out on.

Frontline has even provided you with a map just in case you get lost in Greenwich or the Hamptons

In all, 41 states saw a rise in homelessness among school-aged children last year. Fifteen states reported a gain of at least 10 percent while another 10 states reported spikes of 20 percent or more. The map below breaks down the changes:

I believe that you and I would agree that this indeed would be doing "God's work, or are you referring to a different god that I am?

Thursday, November 28, 2013


Johann Wagener 11-28-13

I was not going to post today. It's a "holiday" and I wanted to take the day off.

That is, until I scrolled on what I call a "David and Goliath" story about a young man who singly took on a giant and lost, and then won, and then?

I don't like comparing this hero to "Joe the Plumber" but the media attention he's getting is similar. That's were similarity ends for me.

What impressed me about this person is that he is willing to "walk the talk" act on his convictions and morals, even if it means losing his job.  Firing someone for refusing to open a business on Thanksgiving is a crime against humanity even if there are no laws on the books in this morally decaying nation.

I am hoping that many more Tony Rohr's will take his lead and take a stand against those who would exploit and oppress people who hold themselves to a higher standard than just making a profit.

Maybe the time has come for American's (excluding the 1%) rethink their priorities when it comes to values, family, tradition rather than just blindly follow those who have little to no interest in America and whose priorities are nothing more than a bottom line.

A Pizza Hut manager has been fired after refusing to open the restaurant on Thanksgiving Day. According toWSTB, Tony Rohr worked at the pizza chain for 10 years -- starting out as a cook before working his way up to being the manager of the Elkhart, Ind., location -- before being fired.

As WSTB reports, Rohr says he was told at a meeting with his bosses that opening on Thanksgiving was mandatory this year. "I said, 'Why can't we be the company that stands up and says we care about our employees, and they can have the day off?'" Rohr told WSTB. "Thanksgiving and Christmas are the only two days that they're closed in the whole year, and they're the only two days that those people are guaranteed to have off and spend it with their families."

According to WSTB, Rohr’s bosses at Pizza Hut said he could sign a letter of resignation for his refusal to open the restaurant on Thanksgiving.

“I do not resign,” Rohr wrote in a letter to his boss. “However, I accept that the refusal to comply with this greedy, immoral request means the end of my tenure with this company." He added, "I hope you realize that it is the people at the bottom of the totem pole that make your life possible."

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Johann Wagener 11-27-13

In a civil society, at least in my town, trash collectors are given  the day off on Thanksgiving and most of other nationally recognized holidays. For most of America's workforce receiving a paid holiday off, has become a thing of the past; something their parents and grandparents talk about.

I know I'll be getting flak from the "politically correct" crowd, for referring to "sanitation technicians" as trash collectors. But, let's be real here. I think the people that do the job and those they serve all know that what they do is pick up American's trash. Just as the "N" word doesn't excuse racism, neither does "sanitation" sanitize collecting trash.

In my opinion they are "first responders" though I've never heard anyone refer to them as such.  These people are out in our streets every day hauling away disease ridden, toxic, and dangerous waste; putting themselves at risk, to keep America clean. How does that compare with firefighters, policeman, and others in the ranks of first responders?

Yet the only recognition they get might be a Christmas card from some conscientious person in a neighborhood they clean up. Their employers express their appreciation by giving them holidays, like Thanksgiving off. The only impact that has on me or my neighbors is that we will put out the trash on Friday.

America’s largest city generates garbage in torrents—11,000 tons from households each day on average. But New Yorkers don’t give it much attention. They leave their trash on the curb or drop it in a litter basket, and promptly forget about it. And why not? On a schedule so regular you could almost set your watch by it, someone always comes to take it away.

But who, exactly, is that someone? And why is he—or she—so unknown?


Johann Wagener 11-25-13

Kids, just crossing into adulthood and already completely indoctrinated and desensitized with violence; being born and grwoing up in a culture that glorifies violence.

* grand theft auto;  School warns parents of 'unsuitable' video game Grand Theft Auto

Rockstar Games’ “Grand Theft Auto V” was the top selling videogame for the second month in a row in October, according to NPD Group, selling nearly 1.1 million units.

The game, which raked in more than $800 million on its first day of release and crossed the $1 billion mark in just three days, represented 15% of revenue generated by all games sold last month.

* guns for kids; Here's How the Rifle That Just Killed a 2-Year-Old Girl Is Marketed for Kids

The company is equipped with modern, state of the art equipment, and a capability to increase production to meet the growing demand for firearms. KSA continues to grow, producing 60,000 Crickett and Chipmunk rifles in 2008. Currently KSA employs 70 people, and in Sept 2009 completed a 45,000 square foot addition to accommodate existing production and new projects.

At the present time, KSA produces the
Crickett & Chipmunk single shot .22LR/.22MAG caliber rifles,
Crickett and Chipmunk single shot .22LR/.22MAG pistols, as well as
Revolution after-market stocks and after- market 10/22 barrels.

Here's what our customers have to say about our products:

"I recently purchased one of your Davey Crickett rifles (My First Rifle) from my 7 yr. old daughter and I would like to say that i have nothing but positive things to say about it. To put it simply, she loves it and looks forward to going shooting with me at every opportunity. It is obvious that a good deal of time was spent in the development of this product as it is perfectly designed for kids in regards to length and weight. My daughter is rapidly improving her marksmandship and takes the responsibility of a firearm very seriously. She is also looking forward to going squirrel hunting with me this upcoming season. In closing, I will recommend your product to everyone that might be interested in it. This pink polymer stock was an excellent tought, I might add. P.S. I am going to take the liberty of sending a note to Field & Stream magazine recommending your product, as wel

* blood sports (football games) In Bullying Case, Questions on N.F.L. Culture

Role Models: Coaches, parents and older athletes are common role models for children. The examples set by these role models mold children's ideas about what constitutes acceptable behavior in society. When they witness their heroes engaging in violence in a sports setting, children learn that this is not only acceptable, but also applauded in some cases.

* More guns than the US population: More Guns in U.S. Homes, More Kids Getting Shot

The number of children wounded or killed by gunshots has been climbing in recent years and states with high gun-ownership rates also tend to have lots of childhood firearm injuries, a new study shows.

"Some recalled that the shooter had been bullied; but others - including many teachers - saw nothing of the sort."

"Yes, we have read the report, no, we cannot make sense of why it happened. We don't know if anyone ever will," Soto wrote. "We don't know if we will ever be whole again, we don't know if we will go a day without pain, we don't know if anything will ever make sense again."

What makes no sense to me is that we persist in looking at these massacres as isolated events rather than connecting the dots. 

Why a society, supposedly as advanced as our, insist on denying reality and continue to sacrifice our children in the name of "freedom" is not only tragic, but just plain BSC!


Johann Wagener 11-17-13

The Pentagon is showered with Billions of Taxpayer dollars; usually by Republicans who pander them, to protect and defend America. Republicans also work very hard to exempt them from any cuts claiming that every penny spent on defense is worth every penny.

The rhetoric is usually laced with "one-liners" that feeds public paranoia (much like the NRA) that someone is "out there somewhere" who is going to attack us. After years of this blubber, nothing has come to fruition other than a bunch of rag-tag Saudi Arabians using our own airlines and box cutters to inflict the largest attack on US soil since Pearl Harbor.

Yet the Navy was able to convince Americans that we needed a $2.1 billion dollar aircraft carrier to our standing fleet of 10 which is equivalent to all the carriers in the world including the "red menace" (China)
who just launched their one and only recently which is not even armed.

Now we are discovering that our "paranoia" which is fed to us by the "Military Industrial Complex" is serving a much more cynical enemy that China.

I just can't wait to see where this goes and how FOX & Republicans will spin it, hoping as usual that Americans are dumb enough to buy it.  

Two U.S. admirals — including the director of naval intelligence — are under investigation as part of a major bribery scandal involving a foreign defense contractor, Navy officials announced Friday night.

Vice Adm. Ted “Twig” Branch, the service’s top intelligence officer, and Rear Adm. Bruce F. Loveless, the Navy’s director of intelligence operations, were placed on leave Friday, and their access to classified material was suspended, the Navy said in a statement.


Johann Wagener 11-27-13

Looks like it's going to take an "act of God" for Americans to get the message that Holidays are;

1.a day of festivity or recreation when no work is done.
"December 25 and November 28th are official public holidays"

The massive Winter Storm Boreas, blamed for at least 14 deaths in the Plains and West, is parked over the East Coast and South Wednesday, halting Thanksgiving traffic with snow, ice, heavy rains, and even a tornado. In general its wreaking havoc on travel plans in the air and on the roads on the busiest travel day of the year.

"The timing of the storm couldn't be worse," said Chris Vaccaro, spokesman for the National Weather Service headquarters in Silver Spring, Md. "We are seeing numerous threats as the storm is beginning to develop and intensify."
The definition of a "holiday" could not be any simpler, so why is it so difficult for retailers and shoppers to understand?

My guess is that American shoppers have once again been duped by the major retailers who "promise" great bargains that turn out to be a hook to lure them in; knowing that they won't go home empty handed; bargain or no bargain.

Big sale. Thirty percent off. Half price. Are they real holiday bargains, or retail trickery?

Many deeply discounted items advertised for Black Friday and throughout the holiday shopping season are merely illusions. The Wall Street Journal reportsthat retailers often purchase items with the intent of offering big discounts from what they say is the regular retail price.

Even on sale, those items yield the profit that had targeted. Basically, the discount has been built in. One survey found that profit margins during the holidays are virtually the same as they are the rest of the year, despite the big bargains being advertised.

So, to all you shoppers out there, Mother Nature is saying; "Go ahead, make my day" 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


HERESY!  (adherence to a religious opinion contrary to church dogma; denial of a revealed truth by a baptized member of the Roman Catholic Church)
Johann Wagener 11-26-13

Imagine that? The leader of billions of followers of Jesus Christ is confronting greed and money worship; much like Moses and Jesus did before him.

This might shake up a couple Thanksgiving dinners. Pope Francis has released his first apostolic exhortation, and in it he goes after “a new tyranny” of markets and “idolatry of money.” "How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?" he asks.  


Seems that the flock has again strayed preferring the edited version of the Bible; the "prosperity gospel"
bellowed by Rolex wearing preachers at "mega-churches" littering the American landscape

The "prosperity gospel," an insipid heresy whose popularity among American Christians has boomed in recent years, teaches that God blesses those God favors most with material wealth.
Or falling into lock step formation behind greed preaching moguls who claim to be doing "God's work."

Blankfein was widely criticized for an off-hand, half-joking remark he made years ago describing the role of an investment bank as doing "God's work."

In 2010, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil fraud suit arguing that the bank built the financial equivalent of a time bomb that was set up to fail and sold it to unwitting investors, referring to the sale of a structured product, known as a collateralized debt obligation (CDO), blamed for contributing to the bursting of U.S. real estate bubble in 2008.

God's work you say?

"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."


Johann Wagener 11-26-13

I walked out of a doctor's office today after deciding to cancel my appointment for fear of what I might have said to him; better I come home at put the fingers to keyboard.

As I was driving home I thought about how to address this situation. It seemed to all boil down to "protocol vs ethics.

Here is how I got here.

I belong to what I consider a top notch HMO that actually put patient care before profits.

So, when I was referred to an orthopedic clinic for an evaluation by an orthopedic surgeon I assumed, as I always had previously, that I was being put in good hands.

I arrived early as requested, filled out a lengthy questionnaire, including several documents regarding "financial" responsibilities and a long list of questions regarding the family tree which I could not correlate with the injury I had sustained.

I also came armed with 2 MRI studies, along with written reports from the physician who interpreted the data and and cited his diagnosis. I made an assumption that these would be reviewed, either during, or before my visit with the orthopedic surgeon. I again assumed, from previous experience with other physicians, that this data would come in handy in treatment planning. Both assumptions seemed reasonable and logical to me.

As it turned out, I was grossly mistaken.

Besides completing the intake form I was asked to submit to 2 X-rays prior to consulting with the surgeon. It seemed a bit curious to me because screening tests are usually run past the HMO who then determine whether or not to proceed and, if approved, are always referred to "off-site" diagnostic clinics and labs.

I then made another assumption, and again found myself with egg on my face. I mistakenly assumed that the orthopedic surgeon might have accessed these reports online (which many do), already reviewed the MRI's and read the reports, but did not think they were conclusive.

So, I asked the staff person, "why the x-rays?" To which she simply answered, "It's protocol".

That set me back in the chair a little, so I asked her to elaborate a little. She then proceeded to tell me that this orthopedic surgeon insisted on 2 X-rays from patients "prior" to consulting with them and added, "just in case surgery is indicated."

I now sank into the chair, wondering how the leap from a 1st visit consultation without reviewing even my intake sheet, let alone the MRI's, this surgeon was already considering surgery??????

I made one last effort to make sense of what I was being told and asked; "would it not be better to review the MRI's and the diagnostic report before ordering more tests or procedures?"  And, how, pray tell, would an X-ray show more than an MRI?

The response I received was jaw dropping. "Sorry, but this doctor's protocol (that word again) requires that I have 2 X-rays prior to him consulting with me; no exceptions, sorry.

Now I know the "freedom hounds" will respond to the dilemma I'm experiencing with a lot of constitutional references like "You're free to see any doctor you want (as long as you don't support Obamacare) and the Doctor is free to accept or reject any patient he chooses to (unless Obamacare is implemented). I'll also be advised to not make a big deal out of it; just move harm, no fowl. Really?

So I made my choice; I cancelled the appointment.

Doctors Cost Medicare $100 Million By ‘Self-Referring’ Their Patients For Profits

Monday, November 25, 2013


Johann Wagener 11-25-13

To hear Republicans tell it, this is the profile someone in their ranks posted in one of the more prestigious blogs I go to.

Skills required to do 95% of the jobs in a fast food restaurant -

Show up on time
Leave on time
Don't steal
Be friendly
Be polite
Do what you are told
Make change

Unfortunately for the country, there is a large segment of American's who live in what Bill Maher refers to as "the bubble" and who actually believe that this BSC-BS is true.

So, for those who are willing to take a peek at reality it might serve our country better if they do a little fact checking;

Myth 2: Retail workers are unskilled 
Reality: 28% of retail workers (pdf) have completed some college, and 15% have a bachelor's degree or higher. Employers have deskilled a lot of the work, but  still report in surveys that they want employees with both soft and hard skills, including product knowledge, ability to relate to customers, and increasingly, familiarity with technology for assisting with online sales.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


Johann Wagener 11-21-13

Quiz: What percentage of Americans own stock?

Well at least the wealthy 10%  who own 81% of the stocks leaving 19% for another 37% of the population. As for the other 53% of Americans? As usual they are being asked to be patient and wait for the "trickle" that they are promised will be coming soon.

This "wait and it will come" con has worked for almost 3 decades ever since one of the most admired  Republican Presidents in history coined the term, "trickle down economy" to which all other Republicans quickly fell in line to support and still do despite that all the evidence shows that it does not work. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.  

An economic policy that only benefits 10% of Americans, is a flawed policy and doomed to continue to fail as it has so many times in the past.

Why so many Americans fail to acknowledge this remains a mystery to most of the world, and me.

But then, I'm an idiot.


Johann Wagener 11-21-13

I'm certain that Republicans will demand congressional hearings and a DOJ investigation to uncover  just how, why, and when, President Obama and his socialist cadre of advisers caused a delay in shipping the "Apple iPad mini 2 LTE"

I'm also certain I'll be seeing Boehner and McConnell on all the weekend talk shows railing about how President Obama is incompetent, unable to lead, misguided, and Oh! as a Muslim born in Kenya, completely out of touch with the American people.

If I missed anything I'm sure if you turn on FOX you'll be able to get filled in on all the details; ad nauseum by one of their "expert" Consultants.

Being the idiot that I am, I want to ask

First, is there any connection between President Obama and private business when it comes to their operating policies?

And, if the answer happens to be "no" then I would like to know how President Obama is being held responsible for a "private sector" software companies shortcomings, or for "private sector" Insurance Companies policies on cancelling and raising insurance premiums.

I'm almost certain as to how the Republicans will respond to that.

Apple had problems launching the iPad mini 2, but after the tablet went on sale on November 12 you might have thought that the problems have been resolved. Maybe they haven't, at least not fully.

The Cellular version of the Apple iPad mini 2 is on back-order on all the major US carriers. Verizon's shipping date slipped from November 25 to December 2, Sprint is saying the tablet will ship in up to 2 weeks, AT&T will take 3-4 weeks to ship, while T-Mobile might not manage before Christmas with 6-8 week shipping delay.

Surprisingly, Apple's web site still lists the original 5-10 business days for shipping it did when the iPad mini 2 launched. Availability for store pickup is very limited at the moment.


Johann Wagener 11-22-13

This is not about color, gender, or religious beliefs. It crosses over  these lines and specifically targets an "economic class" commonly referred to as the "unskilled."

When I posted this question on one of my favorite blogs "what is the job description of an unskilled worker?" this is one of the responses  I received that I thought expressed the views of many of the "free market enthusiasts"

Yes, there are unskilled workers. Or more appropriately, workers who have jobs that require no real skills.

Skills required to do 95% of the jobs in a fast food restaurant -

Show up on time
Leave on time
Don't steal
Be friendly
Be polite
Do what you are told
Make change

McDonald's creates profits by buying a case of hamburgers for $20, a case of buns for $5, and turning it into $200 worth of sandwiches. Turning $150 worth of syrup and $2 worth of water into $3,000 worth of soda.

Should McDonald's share more of their profits with their workers? Absolutely. Regardless of other factors, they do have employees and they should try to help those employees have decent lives. But from a pure business perspective, the value added to McDonald's business by labor is probably worth just about $8 an hour.

This also appears to be what many of the large retail outlets use as a job description for their employees in light of the way they are treated;

For example when it comes to holidays which are defined as; hol·i·day ˈhäliˌdā/ noun1.a day of festivity or recreation when no work is done"Thanksgiving Day is a federal holiday"

President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving Day a national holiday in 1863.
Thanksgiving was originally celebrated on the final Thursday in November, but President Franklin D. Roosevelt changed it to fourth Thursday in November to ensure it wouldn't fall too close to Christmas.
I posted this question on my favorite blog;

Is employers mandating that their employees work on national holidays a form of oppression?

and this is one of the responses;

You have the right not to be employed. Any retailer, restaurant, hotel, hospital, police force, has the right to operate any hours they choose and they can, and do, mandate their employees work whatever days they see fit. It should not be surprising to any adult that has shopped on a holiday that many retailers are open every day of the year. In case you should go brain dead when accepting a job with such a company, you can bet that you will be told in your interview that your failure to accept work on an assigned holiday will be treated as a resignation.

Walmart is again at the forefront of these innovations on how to celebrate holidays in America. One Walmart executive went so far as to say; (boy! he's really got a set of big one's)

"Wal-Mart associates are really excited to work that day, it's a pretty high energy day for associates as well." Walmart executive says employees are excited to work on Thanksgiving [Published Daily Kos - Nov 14 2013

I wonder if the families and friends of these gifted, talented, well paid, stalwarts of the corporate world were to announce that they would not be able to join them on Thanksgiving because they were so "excited" about going to work that day. I would like to be a door mouse so I could be there to hear their responses.

I'd be willing to bet my Thanksgiving turkey that this sentiment is being echoed behind closed boardroom doors all across America when the discussion turns to the 47%, but these folks are slick enough to not let anyone in on it; as one famous Republican did when he so eloquently said;

“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what … who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims. … These are people who pay no income tax. … and so my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
— Mitt Romney, remarks at private fundraiser, Boca Raton, Florida, May 17

Read more: Romney comment about 'dependent' 47 percent not his first misfire in Palm Beach County

That got a standing ovation from an audience that I'm guessing was made up of these corporate giants. Who else would be rich and dumb enough to fork up $50,000.00 for a meal just to listen to a very foolish politician to embarrass them and himself thanks to one of those "unskilled" workers who gave Americans a glimpse of what goes on behind those closed doors. I'm also guessing that the staff attending future events like this will be frisked and required to surrender their cell phones; though this might also be a violation of their rights. Still, no one seems to care much as long as it stays on the 47% side of the tracks.

In case you haven't been able to understand what I'm saying and are thinking that I must be one of those BSC socialists-communists pigs I am including a short list of the Big Retailers who are "requiring" that workers spend  the better part of Thanksgiving and the day after with them rather than their families which I'm certain they are not at all excited about.

In fact one of the Big 8; Kmart's plan to be open for 41 straight hours beginning at 6 a.m. Thanksgiving morning is drawing criticism. At this Kmart store in Connecticut, shoppers wait in line to take advantage of sales on Thanksgiving Day

I can't fault those standing in line which I know represent the Romney 47% because I, along with other American of good conscience, realize that these people are not excited about stand in line (some even camping out) but desperate to find a way to afford providing for themselves and their families. 

A noble and admirable act on their part given that these retailers will only drop their grossly inflated profit driven prices on Holidays which they know targets the low income and impoverished.  

I am left to wonder why the people in these lines haven't thought on just staying home for; let's say a week and not buy anything at one of these Big 8 retailers and see what happens then. 

I'm certain there will be a lot of wailing from mostly free-market Republicans that will say this is going to kill jobs, and blah, blah, blah.

What they are not saying is that these jobs are keeping their employees below the poverty line which not only oppresses them and their families, but require American taxpayers to subsidize them while at the same time chains like Walmart are piling up the profits;

Wal-Mart employs more people than any other company in the United States outside of the Federal government, yet the majority of its employees with children live below the poverty line. "Buy American" banners are prominently placed throughout its stores; however, the majority of its goods are made outside the U.S. and often in sweatshops. Critics believe that Wal-Mart opens stores to saturate the marketplace and clear out the competition, then closes the stores and leaves them sitting empty. Freedom of speech issues also come into play. Musicians are at the mercy of Wal-Mart's stringent content rules, forcing many to create "sanitized" versions of their albums specifically for the discount chain. The sentiment behind Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton's promise of a "better life for all" belies questionable business practices - many that have been challenged by employees, unions, environmentalists, recording artists and human rights organizations. Wal-Mart employs more people than any other company in the United States outside of the Federal government, yet the majority of its employees with children live below the poverty line. "Buy American" banners are prominently placed throughout its stores; however, the majority of its goods are made outside the U.S. and often in sweatshops. Critics believe that Wal-Mart opens stores to saturate the marketplace and clear out the competition, then closes the stores and leaves them sitting empty. Freedom of speech issues also come into play. Musicians are at the mercy of Wal-Mart's stringent content rules, forcing many to create "sanitized" versions of their albums specifically for the discount chain. The sentiment behind Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton's promise of a "better life for all" belies questionable business practices - many that have been challenged by employees, unions, environmentalists, recording artists and human rights organizations.

What boggles my mind is that Americans are the first to condemn countries like China for their slave-like business practices: which by the way has no effect on our doing business with them) but barely make a whimper about what is gong on inside our own borders. 

Take Walmart, for example one of the giants in the retail industry as these stats reveal;

Forbes magazine, polling business executives (not employees) has ranked Wal-Mart among the best 100 corporations to work for. Yet the employees on average take home pay of under $250 a week. The salary for full-time employees (called "associates") is $6 to $7.50 an hour for 28-40 hours a week, which is typical in the discount retail industry. This pay scale places employees with families below the poverty line, with the majority of employees' children qualifying for free lunch at school. When closely examined, this amounts to a form of corporate welfare, as the taxpayer subsidizes the low salaries. One-third are part-time employees - limited to less than 28 hours of work per week - and are not eligible for benefits.

General merchandise retailer Walmart is the world's largest private employer, with about 2.2 million Walmart workers as of 2013. This is roughly equivalent to the combined populations of the world’s 50 smallest countries. Walmart employs about 1.3 million workers in the US and 96,800 people in China. Worldwide, there are more than 9,000 Walmart stores, and they serve about 200 million customers every week. It is estimated that every second, 330 people are purchasing items from the company, with yearly spending averages of $4,000 US Dollars (USD) for a family of four.

More about Walmart:

An estimated 70% of all goods sold at Walmart stores are produced in China.

Walmart had more than $444 billion USD worth of sales in Fiscal Year 2012, which would make the company the 26th-largest economy in the world if it were a country. Its 2012 earnings were $2 billion USD more than Austria’s gross domestic product (GDP).

In the US, $1 USD out of every $4 USD spent on groceries is estimated to be spent at Walmart.
Walmart has come up with a brilliant strategy to avoid repercussions from Americans who begin to question these slave-labor business practices; and I must admit this is indeed brilliant. Give that CEO another $ million
in bonuses if he's able to successfully pull this off;

I've been left with one conclusion to reconcile as to why this kind of corporate violation of human rights can go on right under our noses. It's that many Americans are in a state of "denial" which is usually the prime reaction to trauma that is too  much for an average person to endure. It is usually driven by "fear" which Republicans are very good at instilling with buzz words and talking points about "losing jobs" or destroying, the economy, being invaded by migrants who pick our fruits and vegetables, or bringing down America. All very effective distractions designed to keep many American in a state of paranoia and paralysis that they are unable to see what is actually going on behind the scenes.

If one were to look this is what they would find; Top 10 World’s Biggest Retail Giants 2013
is the undisputed retail leader in North America and tops the global list of retailers, but the company’s international operations in 15 countries outside the United States generate just under 25 percent of annual sales. Their Slogan “Save Money, Live Better” is very customer friendly. The company is the world’s third largest public corporation, according to the Fortune Global 500 list. The company employs nearly 2 million people and is the biggest private employer worldwide. Wal-Mart has 8,900 stores spanning 15 countries under 55 different names. In India, it operates under the name “Best-Price”.

As Wal-mart grew rapidly into the world’s largest corporation, people started criticizing its impact on local stores, particularly small towns with “mom and pop” type stores. Even studies suggested that such an expansion would lead to shutting down of small town shops and local businesses. This was also one of the primary reasons several economies were initially hesitant in allowing them to open up their stores in their country.

The primary reason why Wal-mart is famous is because of the considerably low prices offered and that is the reason for its huge base of loyal customers. This truly reflects the “Low prices, always” advertising slogan that Wal-Mart started with. An interesting fact is that a survey suggested that the average income of a customer who shops at Wal-mart is much below the calculated national average. And if that’s surprising then the next fact is a shocker, about one-fifth of them lack a bank account.

Interesting Fact - A poll was conducted after the 2004 US Presidential Elections, which revealed that 76% of voters who shopped at Wal-mart atleast once a week had voted for George.W.Bush, while the rest 23% supported John Kerry. This revealed that in comparison to other voters, Wal-mart shoppers were most politically conservative.

My concern for future generations is that the ranks of Walmart shoppers will continue to grow even larger.

Share of self-described middle-class adults who say it’s more difficult now than a decade ago for middle-class people to maintain their standard of living: 85

Percentage of Americans that consider themselves to be “lower class” (the highest percentage ever):8.4

Percentage increase in salary growth for the median worker from 1979 to 2012: 5

Percentage drop in average real income per family since 2007: 8.3

The median net worth of a family in 2010: $77,300
and in 2007: $126,400

Percentage of Americans that are unemployed/underemployed rate: 14

Number of states in which poverty rates rose between 2007 and 2010: 46

Approximate poverty rate from 2009 to 2012: 15

The last time it remained at or above 15 percent for three years running: 1965

To me that has a lot to do in answering why Americans would prefer to stand in lines; reminiscent of soup lines in the Great Depression years,  Depression-era Soup Kitchens

As for those Americans who might still be able freely choose how they want to spend Thanksgiving I'd ask;

What would be more enjoyable for you and family? Jumping in you crossover and hurrying down to your nearest Walmart or Mega-Mall to spend Thanksgiving pushing your way through crowds of people?

You might also want to remember the army of "unskilled" workers tending to your needs are not there because they are excited, but rather because they are afraid of losing the only thing that probably stands between them and the streets. A below poverty level job provided them by one of the 21st Century slave masters who would rather oppress them than to send them home with a turkey to share with their families on Thanksgiving.

Retailers open this Thanksgiving 

Aurora Farms Premium Outlets: Opening at 8 p.m.
Best Buy: 6 p.m.
Big Lots: 7 a.m.
Dollar General: 7 a.m.
Gander Mountain: 8 a.m.
Kmart: 6 a.m.
Kohl's: 8 p.m.
JCPenney: 8 p.m.
Lodi Station Outlets: 10 p.m.
Macy's: 8 p.m.
Office Depot: 8 p.m.
OfficeMax: 8 p.m.
Sears: 8 p.m.
Staples: 8 p.m.
Target: 8 p.m.
Toys "R" Us: 5 p.m.
Walmart: 6 p.m.

I'll leave the rest up to decide what to do on Thanksgiving. I know what I'll be doing after looking up the word "holiday" in the dictionary.

hol·i·day ˈhäliˌdā/ noun a day of festivity or recreation when no work is done.

I'll just save my shopping for next week and visit one of the retailers that were respectful of the American people and our holidays to place those values before profits;

My hope is that there are enough Americans out there that want to share their holidays with families and friends, that will be willing to send a message by just staying home on Thanksgiving and demand better pay for worker and lower prices from the Walton family and friends on the days that follow.

 AAFES Exchange
Ace Hardware
Bass Pro Shops
Bed, Bath, & Beyond
BJ's Wholesale Club
Half Price Books
Harbor Freight Tools
Home Depot
JoAnn Fabrics
Radio Shack
Rite Aid
Sam's Club
Sportsmans Warehouse
Stein Mart
Tommy Hilfiger


Johann Wagener 11-10-13

Thanks to Quora and those who have dared  to exchange ideas with others I have found a place that I can actually do some "fact" checking without fear of being barraged with a bucket load of epithets  and threats to my well-being.

That's refreshing considering the sludge I waded through on the blogasphere to get here.

Imagine how surprised I was to actually engage in a coherent discussion about issues that were related to the well-being of both country and citizens alike.

I was pleased to discover that I walked away from these discussions better informed than when I started.  A rare event indeed in the land of FOX, MSNBC, and CNN that ironically label themselves as "shows' rather than "news"organizations. Appropriately so.

Every so often I'm confronted by someone responding to a question I posted by throwing a bucket load of talking points they picked on FOX or some other show and make a hearty effort to discredit or disgrace me.

As an example: I posed a question regarding employers forcing employees to work on holidays;

National Holidays and Common Celebrations: "Is employers mandating that their employees work on national holidays a form of oppression?"

and received a response from one Quoraite that went like this;

(redacted) 's answer to:

You have the right not to be employed. Any retailer, restaurant, hotel, hospital, police force, has the right to operate any hours they choose and they can, and do, mandate their employees work whatever days they see fit. It should not be surprising to any adult that has shopped on a holiday that many retailers are open every day of the year. In case you should go brain dead when accepting a job with such a company, you can bet that you will be told in your interview that your failure to accept work on an assigned holiday will be treated as a resignation.

I replied with:

It sounds like you have no idea of what "holiday" means, so let me help you;

1hol·i·day noun \ˈhä-lə-ˌdā, British usually ˈhä-lə-dē\
: a special day of celebration : a day when most people do not have to work
Full Definition of HOLIDAY
:  holy day
:  a day on which one is exempt from work; specifically :  a day marked by a general suspension of work in commemoration of an event
Examples of HOLIDAY
July 4 is a national holiday in the U.S.
The stock market is closed tomorrow because it's a holiday

Please explain how this translates into a "fire able" offense.

Receiving a response that makes no sense to me at all tends to confirm my suspicion that there are many Americans who just prefer to throw Ayn Rand doctrine around and are not aware that they are being played by whatever forces (usually Republicans and Big Business) feed them on FOX news or the Rush Limbaugh show.

What I suggest to them is, that before responding to a perfectly reasonable and coherent question, that they at the least crack open a dictionary.

I'm still waiting for a response.

More disturbing to me was a response I received from some Quoraites to my question; " Is vitriolic speech against the President of the United States protected by the 1st Amendment?

A form of speech that did not exist when the Founding Fathers penned the Constitution

I posted an example of the kind of speech I was referencing by Googling "Obama and racism"

Obama owes George W. Bush a session of oral sex due the fact that if people learned how congress worked, and stopped blaming Bush for everything, the country would never have elected an unknown Indonesian-Muslim nigger whose greatest contributions was picking cotton and secretly keeping his gay sex "on the down low"

This was just one of thousands more like it ; some so disturbing I could not in good conscience give it any air time. I badly wanted to pretend this kind of speech does not exist. Much like many Americans do.

I understand why most of the responses I received were benign with a tinge of indifference or simply brushed off as just harmless "criticism."

I tried another approach by asking; "if you were in the President's shoes would you see it the same way if  this form of speech was directed at you or your family?"

I'm still waiting for a response.

I find it disturbing that Americans; especially those that come to sites like Quora, and profess to be patriotic with a love for their country and it's institutions (which includes the Office of the President and the person sitting in the Oval Office) be so indifferent when reacting to quotes like those I posted. What I consider to be Vitriol that common sense would dictate is a form of racist hate speech, and much worse than yelling "fire" in a theater. Yet this is viewed as simply a politically correct criticism of an elected official and should be vigorously protected under the cloak of the 1st Amendment.

I'm almost certain that"Quoraites" who I believe are intelligent and responsible Americans that would  sacrifice their lives to protect values meaningful to them personally, are completely tone deaf when it comes to doing the same for their country.

None the less, unless I get thrown off the site for who knows what, I intend to keep coming back and engaging my fellow Quoraites in some healthy dialogue addressing issues of our times, and I remain hopeful that I will find what I looking for.

Can't wait to see where it goes from here.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Johann Wagener 11-19-13

The demand for pundits by cable news "shows" has skyrocketed in the last 5 years.

MSNBC, CNBC, FOX NEWS, CNN have recruited an army of retired generals, politicians, lawyers, judges, doctors, psychiatrists and a slew of other self-proclaimed experts with an excellent command on issues such as, detecting wmd's, predicting terrorist attacks, or profiling serial killers and rampaging lone gunman, just to name a few.  Though I'm not sure they have been very good at predicting these events.

Connecting these "experts' with the giants of media news, like Chris Matthews, Lawrence O'Donnel, Wolf Spitzer, Hannity, O'Rielly, Beck, and not to forget Anderson Cooper, to name a few of the best known with the largest fan base, and you have what amounts to ???????????????????????

In-depth analysis of current or past events?

A well-rounded fair and unbiased report on issues of the day?

Just plain unbiased, un-redacted or revised  news?

Trying to answer these questions has always in a  glazed look and a full blown migraine.

I was surprised it took me so long to come up with an answer until I recently began to search for news on channels like PBS, or BBC America, or recently Al jazeera America which I am certain will get a flock of hate mail for putting those two words together in on sentence.

When I clicked on to "The News Hour with Jim Leher" what I first noticed was that it was not introduced as a "show" but rather an hour of "news" and that gave me some insight as to why I kept getting these terrible headaches looking for news on places like the "Chris Matthews Show" or "The Hannity Show"

Even though there were no disclaimers to read, it became clear to me that these were just "shows" funded and paid for by advertisers that wanted to "entertain" rather than "inform" Americans while still referring to it as news much like Colbert and Stewart.  Though I believe they disclose that's it's just "faux" news, not the real thing.

Now, I know there are many Americans that prefer being entertained rather than upset about what's going on around them. I can't say I blame them given that the planet is in "meltdown", more and more people are shooting at each other, and neo-cons are warning us that a nuclear holocaust is inevitable if Iran acquires as much as 1 nuclear device, annihilating Israel.

That scenario continues to bring on a headache because I haven't been able to figure out how Iran can drop a nuclear bomb on Israel and not have a nuclear cloud blow over them and all of their neighbors in the region. Did I miss something in physics class?

Is there a pundit out there that can explain it to me?

What I have been able to glean from my insights that all I need to do is add MSNBC,CNN, FOX and a few others of these shows to my faux news list. Problem solved.

If I'm looking to be entertained I can click on FOX  news and watch;

A medical doctor give his "expert opinion" on the Affordable Health Care Law by responding  with;

"Obamacare is really, I think, the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery. And it is -- in a way, it is slavery, in a way," he said. "Because it is making all of us subservient to the government."

Or flipping on the Chris Matthews show to see if I can find out more about how Catholicism has affected his life or get another pitch on one of his latest books; much like O'Rielly. Or I can take in one of the visiting pundits that parrot back a revised version of the question asked.

I'm not picking on Chris by the way. I happen to be a Catholic and share many of the same opinions he has. I also like his laugh. MSNBC also is the place I can got to on weekends to watch a marathon of "behind the bars" episodes depicting life inside prison walls. Great entertainment.

I need to give some credit to CNN in their efforts to report the news even though most of the reporting is on helicopters, squad cars, or ambulances their news vans are chasing and reporting on what they "guess" is going on. I am especially impressed with the gadgets in their Command News Center.

I would also add that I have tried the "Evening News With Whoever"  on CBS,NBC, and ABC and  found what I thought was a half-hour infomercial for Cialis until the anchor reappeared to give  a "human interest" story about helping someone save a $100 on their utility bill, or to interview one of their own dressed in a parka and standing in 3 feet of water, hanging on for their dear life to a light pole while bravely giving an in-depth accounting of experiencing a Hurricane first hand while all I'm paying attention to is  how long they will be able to hang on.

I must admit they are creative in sandwiching a little news into an infomercial.

Now that I've cleared a little path here I would like to invite others to visit PBS News Hour at least once so they get a better idea of the differences between being entertained and informed and not having to fetter out the news from a pile of commercials.

Here's a sampling of what I found on the PBS News Hour.

The stage is decorated and furnished with an oval desk and a few comfortable chairs (nothing comparable to the CNN Command Center) where host(s) and guest(s) alike are seated and have a "conversation" about current news of the day.

The guests are selected from both sides of an issue and are usually well informed about both sides of the argument which allows them to have a rational debate and present their views in a coherent manner.

The host(s) who are not beholding to any advertisers, set the tone by asking a question and allowing both sides to opine for a few minutes.  If they begin to stray the host interjects something into the conversation to bring them back to the topic.

The host(s) does not interrupt by injecting their opinions stick to their roles. Even though the guest represent opposing sides there is little interruption or vitriol from either side.

When I step away from this hour of news I always find that I have picked up bits of information that are helpful in making decisions that impact my life like who I vote for, or what issue I support.

On the other hand, like many Americans I like to be entertained so now and then I'll flip on one of those news "shows" and get a few laughs and take a brief break from reality.

Being the idiot that I am I need to ask:

Do you want to be informed or just entertained when it comes to issues that impact you and your families lives?