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Tharp case still makes me cry

I initially blogged about this case as it unfolded, then re-titled the blog and condensed my comments. As far as I know, nothing has ever ...

Saturday, May 19, 2018

BEWARE of Firestone Complete Auto Care

December of last year, I purchased two new tires and a battery at Firestone. I also applied for one of their credit cards in order to get a discount. The bill came to $488.94.

I got a bill in the mail, was unable to access my account, and paid it through Bill Pay at my credit union. Apparently, the bill was automatically deducted when I applied for Firestone's credit card, which meant I paid twice.

I started getting statements reflecting a credit, with the following message;

"Your statement shows a credit balance of $488.94. We will send you a refund check if you have not used it toward a purchase within 60 from the date it first appeared on your statement."

Finally, on 4/13, I contacted Firestone via their website, asking for my refund check. The jerks assigned me a claim number, and then clammed up again. Then I received yet another statement with the same message about a refund check.

I do NOT intend to let these jerks hold my money until I make another purchase at Firestone, and future purchases are looking more improbable by the day. I'll file suite in small claims court if I have to.

AVOID FIRESTONE LIKE THE PLAGUE unless you don't mind lending them your money for free.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

BEWARE of Consumers Union's campaign to end robocalls

"You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time." - anonymous

I got a bad first impression of the Consumers Union gang when I asked them to investigate engine failures in MR2 Spyders. They expressed an interest, then clammed up, never advising consumers of the risk involved in purchasing one. That was long ago.

So it was with cautious optimism that I got involved with their so-called Campaign to End Robocalls. Started promoting their campaign on my blog posts as I wrote about my decision to not have a landline or cell phone as an alternative to paying to be harassed by robocallers. I didn't see what participating in their campaign could hurt, and hoped to learn more about Consumers Union along the way.

I learned a great deal about 'em.

Ending robocalls is no problem - it'll soon be three years since I cancelled my "service" (including home Internet) with goon thug AT&T. I wish I had taken such action earlier. The peace n quiet that comes with an assurance that my phone ain't gonna ring remains absolutely glorious, and my bank account continues to grow. Factor in the immense satisfaction of not enriching the coffers of an out-of-control telephone industry, and it's wunna the best deals ya could ask for.

Along the way, I became acutely aware of the crooked telephone industry's campaign to eliminate coin-operated pay phones, and posted about it more than once on Consumers Union's Facebook page. Those comments were ignored, whereas my comments promoting CU's "Campaign to End Robocalls" were met with enthusiastic responses from CU, even to the point of hosting live links to my blog posts about not having a landline, cell phone, or home Internet. .

Then I began to notice businesses insisting that consumers use a phone to purchase products and services, which prompted several blog posts, all linked to in my post,"Is Mountain America Federal Credit Union in cahoots with the telephone industry?" After publishing that post, the question quickly became "Is CONSUMERS UNION in cahoots with the telephone industry?"

In the process of publishing tweets with a link to my post about Mountain America, I replied to one of Consumers Union's tweets, and my reply was apparently removed. So I fired off a tweet to CU asking if they were trying to keep things quiet about businesses helping phone companies force consumers to use phones. CU absurdly denied that my reply to their tweet had been removed, stating that it had been sent off for investigation and they would be in touch.

Just for grins n chuckles, I then posted a link to my post about Mountain America on CU's Facebook page. And the strangest thing happened. My post wouldn't appear as the most recent, which would have given it exposure - at least for a while - on the front of CU's Facebook page. Instead, the post was buried, appearing out-of-sequence, and prompted no response from CU, even after I explained what had happened in a reply to the post.

I just love it when organizations act dumb. If CU was really interested in helping consumers, they would object not only to businesses requiring folks to use phones to obtain products and services, CU would have been objecting to the elimination of pay phones from the get-go. With me, it's a matter of choice not to have landline or cell. Many folks are not so fortunate, which demonstrates how greedy the telephone industry is, and how uncaring for consumers CU is. That CU touts itself as some sort of union for consumers is a joke.

CU finally "got in touch" with me via a message on Twitter, suggesting - of all things - that I contact them by phone. Of course, I insisted on e-mail, and finally got an e-mail asking what I thought about robocalls.

The gist of my response was to emphasize - as though CU is unaware - that e-mail and pay phones empower consumers with an inexpensive option to handing over big bucks each month to communicate, not to mention paying to put up with robocalls or paying extra to cut down on the harassment. Businesses helping phone companies by requiring consumers to use phones demonstrates that if ya give greedy goons like AT&T an inch by allowin' 'em to eliminate coin-operated pay phones, they'll take a mile. And CU couldn't care less. Let's just say that things are often not what they appear to be, especially in a society that worships deceit. At least I wuz never suckered into donating money to CU.

I've come to be uncomfortable with any person or group that encourages any kind of "campaign" directed at getting elected officials to reign in crooked corporations. Amerika is a cesspool of corruption aimed at enriching crooked, greedy goons like AT&T, Toyota, State Farm, and Toro, just to name a few. There's also a nationwide probate racket that's been going on for decades. American government is at all levels run by crooked corporate interests, making fools of a cowardly, brainwashed public "programmed" to think they can vote their way out of the malaise. I quit wasting my time at the polls long ago. Make no mistake: Robocalls are BIG BUSINESS, and if ol' Uncle Sammy wanted to end robocalls, the unconscionable jerk would have done so long ago. So-called regulatory agencies such as NHTSA (No Help To Solve Anything) are the biggest jokes of all, acting as agents for the crooked industries they claim to regulate.


I'm literally getting paid to avoid robocalls. As brainwashed Americans wander around in a patriotic stupor, blabbering on cell phones and shelling out big bucks each month to do so, I've verified that I rarely need to use a phone. I've quit promoting CU and their laughable efforts to appeal to corporate-controlled stooges to reign in the crooked corporate interests that fund their election campaigns.

Amerika's effort to attain self-governance has been nothing more than a spectacular failure. Recent polls indicate that Americans are beginning to realize that their government is a dictatorship.

Update 4/4/2018 - Such a pleasure to tweet CU a link to this post.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Nuclear power scandal: High time South Carolinians march on the State House

"Bankruptcy isn't out of the question, (analysts) say, but it may not be the inevitable outcome (SCANA) has suggested." - article, The Post and Courier

South Carolinians are being set up for another shellacking by SCANA and its bought and paid for stooges in the legislature. The gall of a gang of paid-off jerks - charged with representing the public interest - to quietly arrange for customers to underwrite the financial risk of a private corporation. To pay in advance for an unnecessary project and to keep paying even if the project fails.

Those in power couldn't care less what people want, or what's in the people's interest. The behavior of Senate Minority Leader Nikki Setzler epitomizes the shameful state of affairs. Setzler co-sponsored the bill that got us into this mess, supports a deal with Dominion Energy that would leave ratepayers ripped off, and has a profound conflict of interest via his probate-dealing law firm when it comes to South Carolina's probate racket. He's a sadistic, high-handed little jerk who refuses to acknowledge the latest e-mail I sent him (via SC Legislature Online) way back on 12/5/2017 asking what he plans to do this legislative session to eliminate time limits on wills and simplify the probate process.

It all points to one thing: America is a dictatorship.

The few timid expressions of public displeasure with the nuclear fiasco have nonetheless been enough to throw South Carolina's corrupt power structure into a panic, prompting outcries of concern for SCANA, a crooked, 9 billion dollar holding company that now claims - is anyone surprised? - that if it's forced to give back all the money stolen from utility customers, it will go bankrupt, prompting unbearable agony for utility customers. To hear the state's power brokers and their mainstream media stooges tell it, the only "reasonable" thing to do is for utility customers to settle for way less than they're entitled to, way less than they lost, and continue to pay for a boondoggle that will never produce any energy.

The SCANA and legislative gang's Johnny-come-lately concern for utility customers is aptly summed up by the proposed sale of SCE&G to Virginia-based Dominion Energy: "Just offer the suckers a few up-front dollars along with a nominal decrease in rates, and they're sure to bite."  

Here's the kinda propaganda we're being bombarded with:

"Hey, we could get ripped off even worse, and something is better than nothing" blabbers Keven Cohen, chief honcho of Columbia's Miss the Point radio. I recently blogged about the antics of Cohen and his friend Ashley Landess, president of the South Carolina Policy Council. Cohen has since been running Dominion Energy ads, spotlighting Dominion big shots as guests, and airing the opinion of Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey, who "ever so sadly" intoned that "there just isn't any way" that ratepayers can be made whole.

Then there's the State newspaper's Cindi Ross Scoppi - another would-be investigative reporter who balks at exposing South Carolina's probate racket. Scoppe downplays anything short of ratepayers being taken to the cleaners in the current ripoff proposed by Dominion. I quit subscribing to the State's biased rag years ago, haven't bought one since, and noticed Scoppe's blabber via the Internet.

It's not that the paid-off creeps that got us into this mess deserve to be voted out of office. It's that they deserve to be tarred, feathered and ridden out of town on a rail. Nor do I buy the claim that there are "some good legislators." I'll make exceptions if someone can gimme the names of anyone who warned the public about what was going on when the oh-so-cleverly-named "Base Load Review Act" was originally proposed.

Point is, if South Carolinians are dumb enough to settle for anything less than a full refund from SCANA, they richly deserve the fleecing it looks like they're gonna get.

1/26/2018 updates 
>  Protested SC's probate racket for a little over 2.5 hours yesterday in front of Williams, Stitely, and Brink law firm across from the probate court in Lexington.
>  Sent a link to this post to all SC legislators and Ethics and Judiciary committees and e-mailed a link to Nikki Setzler's sidekick, Alisa Painter.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Is Mountain America Federal Credit Union in cahoots with the telephone industry?

4/5/2018 update: For the latest, see 4/3/18 post, "BEWARE of Consumers Union's campaign to end robocalls"

3/8/2018 update: Re 2/8 update, a minor health issue delayed things, but more info is planned re Consumers Union. 

2/8/2018 update: Consumers Union has been in touch. Earlier today, I replied to an e-mail from one of their employees who works on robocall issues. Stay tuned. 

2/5/2018 update: Still no word from Consumers Union (see 1/10 and 1/13 updates), even though I've asked. Here's a copy of the tweet they sent me, and it still looks to me like my reply was removed:

Hi Parris, your reply wasn't removed. We've shared it with the appropriate staff person to investigate. We'll be in touch!
1/30/2018 update: Here's a copy of the message I received from Mountain America Federal Credit Union:

1/10/2018 update: Recent efforts to tweet a link to this post resulted in a blocked link. My apologies for that. Apparently, the only link that currently works on Twitter and Facebook is a general link to this blog. Thanks for your interest. As of 1/31/18, specific link is once again blocked.

Regarding phone companies trying to force people to have home phones or cell phones, I decided to expose an unpleasant experience I had last year with Mountain America Federal Credit Union in West Jordan, Utah.

Tried to open a CD, and they express-mailed me some forms to be notarized. I complied and express-mailed the forms back in the envelope they included.

Then they e-mailed me that I would have to call them for "phone verification." Never mind that I'm in South Carolina and it was not an 800 number. (see 1/30 update, top of post, for an exact copy of the message)

So I never opened the account, and got a higher interest rate elsewhere. Sometimes it pays to look around. Searching reviews, I found one that claimed Mountain America required wire transfers if you opened an account from out of state. Fortunately, I never got that far with 'em.

I strongly recommend avoiding Mountain America.

I'm sick and tired of businesses helping telephone companies try ti force consumers to use phones, fax machines, wire services - anything but e-mail.  I posted a complaint about another financial institution last year. Adding insult to injury is the telephone industry orchestrating the disappearance of pay phones. 

The phone company "connection" to financial institutions reared its head long ago when I opened a reward checking account with Bank First in Macon, Mississippi, the deal being that in order to get higher interest on your account, you had to have home phone and Internet. I blogged about the stunt they pulled (third paragraph) when I cancelled my home phone and Internet.

Time for politicians who sell out to telephone industry lobbyists to clean up their act.

1/5/2018 update: SUCH A PLEASURE to expose all of these jerks on Blogger, Facebook, and Twitter. If Americans are DUMB enough to tolerate efforts to force 'em to pay big bucks to communicate, so be it. I'm not about to.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Ashley Landess paid over $100,000 a year just to say SC's legislature is corrupt? SHAME on the SC Policy Council.

According to the South Carolina Secretary of State, make that a whoppin' $104,681 for 2016. Perhaps President Landess got a raise for 2017. I e-mailed a request to the Secretary of State after I couldn't find Landess' salary on the Council's website.

Landess is a regular commentator on Columbia's Make the Point radio station. She's a longtime friend of station founder Keven Cohen, who started his operation several years ago after being fired from his longtime job at WVOC, supposedly because WVOC wanted to go in a "different direction."

Talk about a cozy relationship.

Cohen is quick to encourage listeners to donate to the SC Policy Council, though I've never heard him mention his friend's six-figure salary. From what I've heard, a better name for Cohen's radio station would be "Miss the Point."

The trick seems to be to conjure up as many ways as possible to break the earth-shattering news to South Carolinians that their state legislature (gasp) is corrupt. Nonetheless, Cohen and Landess have yet to breathe a word about South Carolina's probate racket. That glaring omission by both of these self-proclaimed government watchdogs - I've tweeted blog links to both businesses - gets stranger by the day.

Searching the Council's website, I noticed that the Council was founded in 1986, the same year attorneys in the legislature turned probate into a money-makin' racket designed to pad their own greedy pockets. Is the public expected to believe that a bonafide government watchdog organization, present from the get-go, has never seen fit to publicize what was going on?

Kinda makes ya wonder what guidelines Landess and Cohen follow when deciding where they want to focus the public's attention. Or, more to the point, what they want to focus the public's attention away from. Lately, the nuclear power scandal has taken front and center in their blabberings.

Landess' commentary last week was downright alarming.

She cooed ever so sweetly into Cohen's microphone that based on the Council's recent "research," legislators may now have no alternative but to allow power companies to continue charging customers for the boondoggle. In other words, the gang who got us into this mess may not now be able to get us out, an opinion at odds with late-breaking news regarding the proposed sale of South Carolina Electric and Gas.

Cohen's behavior has also been enough to raise eyebrows. For example, instead of interviewing a culprit like Nikki Setzler, who co-sponsored the bill that got the mess started, Cohen "grilled" a relatively unknown House member who wasn't even around when the nuclear power scandal quietly got underway. Notice in the news article linked to above that Nikki Setzler has nothing but praise for the proposed sale of SCE&G, which would leave rate-payers badly ripped off.

At this point, nobody can be blamed for wondering exactly who bankrolls the South Carolina Policy Council, or, to make the point even clearer, who's interests Cohen and Landess are looking out for. But alas. In that regard, the Council's professed dedication to "transparency" has again faltered.

I BELIEVE Landess when she declares that keeping the South Carolina Policy Council's donors anonymous is designed to protect them from reprisal.

Now that I'm more familiar with how the Council operates, I better understand why, when I first e-mailed the Council (in February of 2016) about South Carolina's probate racket, their response was "Unfortunately, we don't have the resources to pursue a topic like that." Right. When "resources" are spent on six-figure salaries, ya gotta cut somewhere.

Methinks Cohen and Landess protesteth too much. Actions speak louder than words.

Update 1/18/2018 - Cohen is now running Dominion Energy ads (for which he's paid) and featuring fast talking Dominion big shots as guests. How long are South Carolinians gonna put up with being ripped off by self-serving jerks in the legislature?

Update 1/5/18 - Truly a pleasure to send a link to this post to all SC legislators and the Senate and House Judiciary Committees. 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

HEY, SCE&G: Everyone doesn't have a phone

I've been trying for about a month to get South Carolina Electric and Gas out to check for underground lines before I dig.

I don't have a phone, landline or cell, 'cause I got tired of robocalls and refused to pay to be harassed. SCE&G gimme a link to an online form, which I filled out, but got no response.


1/5/2018 update: SCE&G REFUSES TO INSPECT FOR UNDERGROUND LINES UNLESS I TELEPHONE THEM. I have explained over and over that I don't have a phone, and why, and I've provided more than enough information on their online form for them to confirm a time to visit my property. Here's another post re businesses helping phone companies try to force people to pay big bucks to communicate.

12/28/2017 update: My pleasure to send SCE&G a link to this post on their online form about calling before you dig. Also sent 'em a link in a tweet.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Siddiqui scandal: Amerika's military is a national disgrace

"Siddiqui's father is an auto-parts worker who was returning from his night shift when he first heard the news that his son was dead. He recalls seeing an ambulance parked in front of his home. Inside, first responders were attending to Siddiqui's mother, who had just received the news." - Eric London, in his excellent article, "20-year-old Muslim recruit killed by officers at Marine boot camp."

I just love it when Americans are confronted with uncomfortable truths about their inane love affair with the military. The usual response is a nervous chuckle as they put a dumb look on their faces, zip their lips, and tuck their cowardly tails. Big Brother has brainwashed his subjects well: musn't criticize Amerika's goon thug military, no matter how heinous the conduct. I blogged about the deafening public silence when the investigative report was released regarding the Marines drowning Jason Tharp, and the appalling lack of adequate public outrage has once again emerged, though not quite as deafening, regarding the alleged suicide of Muslim recruit Raheel Saddiqui, whose Arabic surname, ironically enough, means "The Truthful." One Muslim recruit was forced into an industrial clothes drier, got severely burned, and broke into tears. Saddiqui wound up dead. Jacob Weaver, a former Marine who was in Siddiqui's unit, decided to expose the horrors of boot camp "training," thereby prompting the current investigation.

It must have been a real shocker to the thugs who run Parris Island that someone dared to speak out so publicly about Marine Corps "training." The courageous Jacob Weaver is due a BIG round of applause. Fact is, the Marine Corps has an appalling history of scandals dating back at least to the 1950's.  .

Conspicuously missing from all the mainstream media accounts of Marine Corps brutality inflicted on recruits is any mention of the drowning of Marine recruit Jason Tharp.

Had it not been for the decades-long, cowardly public silence in response to previous instances of criminal military conduct, the racially-charged atmosphere of Marine Corps boot camp and the abuse of Muslim recruits would not have happened. The public has given America's military the go-ahead for any kind of barbarism imaginable, even when it's directed at hapless young recruits.

The death of Raheel Saddiqui features headline-grabbing visits by two politicians to Parris Island, both of whom are willing to accept the Marine Corps' word for it that Saddiqui - who had no history of mental problems until he entered the Marine Corp - committed suicide. Never mind that the Marine Corp was caught lying about the circumstances of Jason Tharp's drowning (initially claiming he entered the water voluntarily), and never mind that boot camp bigotry was exposed in 2006 (!) by no less of a veteran than a retired Marine sergeant who wrote an article aptly titled "Learning to be a Killer." Note that 2006 is the same year the Army got exposed for its pornographic torture of Muslims at Abu Ghraib. Based on my own experience, I wrote about how the Army indoctrinates recruits with sexual filth.

Siddiqui's family vehemently disagrees with the allegation of suicide, maintaining that there's insufficient evidence to warrant such a conclusion, and they have now filed a 100 million dollar lawsuit against the Marines. Their efforts are supported by Rep. Debbie Dingell, (D) Michigan.

Raheel Siddiqui was a personable young man, much like the accounts given of Jason Tharp, and Siddiqui's family is to be commended for challenging the allegation of suicide. The racially-charged circumstances of Siddiqui's death cry out for long overdue national honesty regarding Marine Corps. misconduct. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) apparently has a problem when it comes to drawing logical conclusions based on findings of fact. By what standard of Orwellian mumbo jumbo did the drowning of Jason Tharp amount to anything other than cold-blooded, first degree murder? It would have made just as much sense had the NCIS concluded that Jason too somehow committed suicide.

A country with a scintilla of fundamental decency would have protested in massive numbers at the gates of Parris Island when Jason Tharp's investigative report was released.

In addition to making racist thugs out of "the troops," when the US military burns Korans, tortures Muslim prisoners, and singles out Muslim recruits for racially-charged harassment, it fans the flames of America's illegal wars and helps keep profits flowing to the security-industrial complex. What better way to stoke up Amerika's war machine than verbal and physical assaults directed at Muslim recruits, not to mention the worldwide publicity that would surely result if one of those recruits wound up dead? Marine General Smedley Butler got it right, way back in the 1930's, in the title to his book, "War is a Racket." At the time of his death, General Butler was the most highly decorated combat Marine in US history.

How did Americans come to be so cowardly, so brainwashed, so spiritually dead that they tolerate anything a tyrannical government and its goon thug military dishes out? Dr. Paul Craig Roberts tells it like it is in his article, "Americans are a conquered people." They "live in a propaganda-fabricated world in which a brutal police state is cloaked in nice words like 'freedom and democracy.".

Update 3/13/2018 - Marine officer pleads guilty to charges associated with Siddiqui's death.

Update 11/11/2017 -It was announced yesterday that a drill instructor has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for abusing Muslim recruits, one of whom was Raheel Siddiqui. Here's a link to another article.