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Thoughts on Events the Week of May 15

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on May 23, 2017

Impeachment: Whoa! The media, which had been doing much, much better recently, is running off the rails again with all its speculation about impeachment. This is not only premature, but irresponsible, as impeachment implies guilt of a “high crime or misdemeanor,” which is not only unproven, but cuts against our principle of presumed innocence.

We now have a credible entity empowered to investigate the matter. Impeachment is a political, not a legal procedure, but, in the name of justice and democracy, let’s let the investigation play out before rushing to judgement.

(As a practical matter, even if Ponzi were to go, I don’t see how things would improve much. Those next in line of succession are just as bad or worse.)

Sudden Thought: If it were to be determined that Ponzi Don was cahooting with the Russians before the election, could we get a “do-over?” I’m just askin’.

Trump Voter Disconnect: Two thoughts have been nagging this week. The first is why Trump voters seem to be so sanguine about President Trump’s obvious coddling of Russia? One would think that most of Ponzi Don’s voters would be viscerally anti-Russia, and upset about Ponzi’s handling of them.

Ponzi has said he has no investments in Russia whatsoever, and this may be true. But Russia very likely has investments in Ponzi, and/or some of his properties, which is a bigger worry.

Future Conflicts of Interest: This leads to the second nagging thought. Like it or not, the world is going global. It is likely then that we will experience other presidential candidates with some or even many foreign entanglements. This is not necessarily a bad thing (except how Ponzi Don practices it), but we are going to have to rethink how we address these potential conflicts of interest in the future. Our current approach seems inadequate in the circumstances. Making the publishing of tax returns (including the facts about all hidden corporations) should be mandatory, at the very least. I think Ponzi’s are going to be very illuminating when they are ultimately disclosed.

Ponzi on the road: Two presidents went on Ponzi’s initial foreign trip: the scripted one and the real one. While on script, Ponzi did pretty well (he must have new speech writers). When being himself, Ponzi was, well, himself, wandering into the “Land (mines?) of the Uninformed, the Uncurious and Malapropisms.”

Ponzi must have loved his reception in Saudi Arabia. He was surrounded by tyrants, who treated him like one of their own, which is how he thinks he should be treated at home.

Ponzi handled his written speech pretty well. But the overall impression he gave seemed to side with the Sunnis in the Sunni-Shia religious war, in particular by how he spoke of Iran. Ponzi really needs to learn more (or anything) about Iran. It is much more important to us than the Saudis in the long run.

Obit: Roger Ailes, fantastically successful creator of Fox News Network, died, though not soon enough. Isaac Chotiner of Slate put it best: “Ailes ….made our country nastier, stupider, cruder, and more bigoted.”

Diary Entry: Very close friends from Oklahoma came to visit us, and we showed them some of the Grand Canyon State. Our friends have been around the world, but had never seen the Grand Canyon, so we took them to see it. The Grand Canyon never disappoints, and it didn’t this time either. They enjoyed it as much as we enjoyed being with them for several days.

Status of the States: I’ll eschew pointing out the worst state during Ponzi’s initial trip abroad, as president.

Thoughts on Events the Week of May 8

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on May 15, 2017

Sally Yates: Hurled some testimonial truth at the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, which scorched Michal Flynn and threw shade on just about everyone in the Trump administration. There was no contradicting her either; she has the tapes, and they know it. Instead, some Republican members tried to imply she is partisan and possibly a leaker. She shut that down emphatically.

Have you ever noticed how pasty white guy senators behave around competent, confident women? They’re terrified of them.

President Trump Fired James Comey: For what reason is still a question blowing in the wind, but gone he is. Comey deserved to be fired. He sabotaged a U.S. presidential election. Had he been fired on the spot when he should have been last July, we wouldn’t have to be going through all this.

It is academic why Ponzi Don fired Comey now; he has the authority; Comey deserved it. It’s odd, however, that Ponzi (first) cited reasons for firing Comey for which he had praised him in the past. Perhaps it dawned on Ponzi that if Comey could do that to Clinton, he could do it to him. I have my theory; everyone seems to have one. But, as I say, it doesn’t matter.

What does matter is that with Comey’s firing, all three of the investigations into the possible connection between Ponzi’s campaign and Russia are now compromised in some way. Even if one, or even all of the investigations were able to right themselves and investigate responsibility, there might never be the public acceptance necessary to bring the issue to closure.

We need an independent investigation with lots of resources, subpoena power, and a leader with a serious hard on for the truth. So, who’s going to step up? If no one else will, it will be up to the media, which has been working hard to redeem itself from its utter failure during the campaign. Given the Comey firing – he was popular with the FBI – and Ponzi’s lying early and often to everyone, including his own staff, I suspect the media will get a lot of help from leakers. As with Mother Nature, it’s not smart to screw with the FBI.

Sudden thought: Archibald Cox

Military Distractions: Leaders of many countries often try to distract attention from their ineptitude by doing something militarily, which appeals to public patriotism. Ponzi Don, who is always under fire, announced that he may send some 3,600 more troops to Afghanistan. Afghanistan is a useless pile of rocks, if that’s not being redundant. This is an insane idea on a scale with, well, Ponzi’s other ideas.

On the other hand, Ponzi also said he is planning to give the Kurds military equipment so they can participate in the battle to retake Raqqa, the self-proclaimed capital of ISIL in Syria, which will piss off Turkey royally. This is actually the first thing that Ponzi’s administration has done that diverges from Obama administration policies, which makes some logical sense.

The Kurds are the only people in the region who are our friends, and they have been loyal to the U.S., even after their betrayal by George H.W. Bush. They are good fighters, and they are one of the parties who will ultimately end up with chunks of Syria and Iraq, and probably some of Turkey, to form their own country. Even more important, this requires no more of our troops.

South Korea: As expected, elected Moon Jae-in President. I think we should pay close attention to this. Moon is a reformer and serious social activist, a comparative liberal in a conservative country. He has been unimpressed with American policy since George W. Bush shut down diplomacy with North Korea. He favors improving relations with North Korea and creating some space between South Korea and America. Having watched Ponzi Don, who can blame him?

China is doubtless happy with the outcome of this election. While Ponzi is playing footsie with second rate Russia, and threatening our own allies, including South Korea, China is taking over the center stage Ponzi so much covets. Moon seems unlikely to be intimidated by Ponzi. It will be interesting to see how this works out.

Status of the States: I was going to let all the states off the hook again this week, but Texas forced my hand. The two Texas U.S. Senators – Cornyn and Cruz, tried to discredit Sally Yates as a partisan hack and possible leaker, for which their state earned the cup. It was delicious, I must say, to watch how Yates slapped them around and sent them both home crying for their mamas. Speaking  of whom, Happy Mother’s Day.

Thoughts on Events the Week of May 1

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on May 10, 2017

Overthinking Russia: .Russia is our enemy. President Trump, you really need to understand this. Their government, not their people, hate us with a hardness that can only be forged in the fires of fear and envy.

However, Russia is not a serious threat to us. It is, in fact, a second rate power, trending downward. They have nukes, which they will never use in a first strike, oil, and that’s it. Today, they are capable only of mischief, at which they are, admittedly, skilled. To call them the most dangerous threat in the world is overwrought.

Vladimir Putin – Yesterday’s Man – has taken Russia back to the cold war era. It’s all he knows. He had the opportunity to take a more peaceful tack, but not the vision or mentality. He blew it, just as we blew it in 1989, for the same reason.

Putin grew up in a USSR that was large and dangerous, having cobbled together an empire of satellite states through force and military dominance. Every one of those states hated the USSR then, and they hate the USSR still. Some of those states are willing to accept Russia, which they differentiate from the USSR, while most just want to get as far away from that time in history as they possibly can.

As for Russia’s hacking, our intelligence community tells us Russia has been doing this for as long as they have had the capability, which is decades. We have been doing the very same thing to them, I would like to think as well and probably better. We do the same to other countries as well, and vice versa. It’s just kind of background noise now.

If we want to eliminate, or at least moderate Russia’s behavior, we have to squeeze Yesterday’s Man like a zit, with serious sanctions. We can do much more of this than we have done so far – it’s more complicated than it sounds, and will require, you know, diplomacy with Europe – and it is the only thing Putin understands.

But, to think that Russian hacking had much, if anything to do with Hillary Clinton’s loss in the presidential election is misguided. It was just garden variety mischief.

Now, if the Trump campaign had been collaborating with Russia, that’s something entirely different. That’s a serious crime. So, let’s stop overreacting to Russia’s mischief and find out who, if anyone other than Michael Flynn, who’s already toast, in the Trump campaign was collaborating, or making side deals with Vladimir. I think that ball of twine will begin go unravel a little faster when Sally Yates testifies on Monday.

Lordy, Lordy: James Comey testified before Senate and House committees, and a bigger crock of shit I never heard. Comey told the Senate panel that he feels “mildly nauseous” to think his actions may have influenced the election. Well, Comey’s actions make me sick at my stomach. Make no mistake. Comey, not the Russians, stole the election from Clinton, and I believe he did it deliberately. This guy makes J. Edgar Hoover look like a saint.

Repeal and Replace: House Republican passed an R&R bill which is, almost inconceivably, worse than the previous drafts, which were so odious they didn’t even make it to a vote.

Republicans must have calculated that since they had told their base that Obamacare is so bad for so long, and promised they would repeal and replace it that they had to pass something. It could have been a bill with just the title “Repeal and Replace Obamacare Act” on it and no actual text below it, for all it mattered to House Republicans. Oh, wait! That’s exactly what House members actually voted on. They had no text, no costs, no scoring, and only Ryan’s word this had to be done.

If Republicans had thought just a little longer, they may have considered that repealing a now popular healthcare law and replacing it with something that began with only 17% approval and which will be even lower when this bill is scored, may not have been their best option. They could have instead worked with Democrats to improve existing law.

Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, my own personal senator: stick your finger in this bill, pull your finger out and smell it, then tell me you are going to vote for this bill, or anything like it. I dare you.

And Ponzi, yes, you who has promised us healthcare that is better, cheaper and ubiquitous, this bill is about as far from that as you can get. You also promised us jobs, yet you are attacking the fastest growing segment of our economy with a bill that will put a whole lot of people out of work as it is simultaneously denying healthcare to millions of healthcare “customers.”  You should be the guy pushing Medicare and Medicaid for everyone! Talk about a job stimulator! Jesus, what a smarmy scum of mean-spirited morons. How far will you go to dig up billions for tax breaks to yourselves?

Jobs report: The economy added just north of 220,000 jobs in April, which brought the unemployment rate down to 4.4%, the lowest since George W. Bush flushed it down the toilet. As one who believes a job is man’s noblest possession after love, this is extremely good news.

As economic laws did in, we should finally – it takes a long time to dig out from as big a hole as Dubbya put us in – begin to see some rise in wages, as jobs begin chasing fewer available workers.

The French Election: In a reversal of the American election, the French ignored the distractions of Russian mischief and elected a pro-EU, pro-immigration centrist and rejected the Trumpish, xenophobic, Europhobic Marine LePen. (Fortunately for France, they didn’t have a Comey to deal with.) The French saw Ponzi Don and Brexit, remembered their own far-right history and sobered up quickly.

Still, it’s ironic, and shameful, that France, a country that is not particularly immigrant welcoming, is in fact Franco-arrogant, and where immigrants are not assimilated very efficiently, would reject Trumpism, while America, perhaps the most immigrant welcoming country on earth, elected Ponzi Don. This doesn’t speak well for us.

Tax reform: With a nod to Sir Elton John, I think it’s going to be a long, long time till touchdown brings us round again to find: Tax Reform. Republicans are going to be stuck in the healthcare tar baby for quite a while longer, and they can’t really proceed with tax “reform” until they have screwed people out of enough money from healthcare funds to give more tax breaks to billionaires and millionaires through tax reform.

But, I will make one comment about the fibs Republicans are already spreading on this subject. Let’s begin with the keystone lie that the U.S. has the highest corporate tax rate of any major country. This is pure rubbish.

We have the highest rate on our tax law books – the statutory rate – but we have written so many loop holes and tax breaks into our tax code, that corporations pay an actual – or effective rate – about the same as most other countries. Our corporations, and their paid legislators just want us to think they pay a higher rate, because it is the basis of other lies.

The Tax Reform talking points sheet says Republicans will lower the statutory rate from 35% down to 15%. They will also lower some rates for middle class and lower earners, but they will also remove many deductions used by those earners. You will notice that although the corporate statutory tax rate will be reduced by more than 50%, there is absolutely no mention of eliminating any of those loopholes or tax breaks for corporations.

Comic relief: A woman was arrested and convicted for laughing reflexively at something Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions (that title is funny right there) said. I do not fear this happening to me. I find nothing funny about Jeff Sessions. He is a smarmy homophobic, xenophobic racist in a position to impose his prejudices on our justice system. I see nothing funny about that. On the other hand, as Mel Brooks said, some things are so awful, there’s nothing you can but laugh at them. (I expect this case will go away quietly.)

Status of the States: With the exception of a few misdemeanors, there is nothing going on at the worst states that begins to approach the mendacity at the national level. Rest for a while, worst states, until or if the federal government passes some laws you can use to screw up with.

Thoughts on Events the Week of April 24

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on May 3, 2017

Our economy grew: at .7% for the first quarter of 2017. This is nowhere near the emerging market-like growth rate President Trump has promised us, of course, but it is nothing to lose sleep over either. First quarter growth is typically low compared to the overall result for a given full year, which grownups predict will be just a tad north of two percent.

To be fair, Ponzi Don had nothing to do with these results. It is much too soon for his policies, to the extent he has any, to have affected this quarter. (Come to think of it, presidents generally have little control or influence over short-term GDP numbers unless they hit a real homerun or screw up royally. Which do you think is more likely from Ponzi Don?)

What these numbers suggest is what I have been predicting: we have been experiencing slow but steady growth for a historic number of months, and this will continue. There is little Ponzi can do to outperform that trend, however much he promises to. Our economy is already too great (already great, get it?) to move radically on a percentage basis one way or another, quickly.

“South Korea – friend or foe?”: Ponzi Don rattled his saber at our enemy North Korea, and threatened that if China wouldn’t deal with Kim Jung Un and his nukes, Ponzi would deal with them himself.

In a stunning display of diplomatic incompetence (as if the above weren’t enough), Ponzi then went on to criticize our ally  South Korea’s trade agreement with the U.S., and threatened to tear it up. Trump also said that he would make South Korea pay $1 Billion for the THAAD anti-missile defense system we are installing there (echoes of the Mexican wall fiasco), which South Korea doesn’t want anyway. This whole mess must have scared hell out of South Korea and pissed them off royally.

So, Ponzi, do we have a friend and a foe on the Korean Peninsula, or two foes?

One possible outcome from Ponzi’s insane remarks is that South Korea might conclude a relationship with Ponzi Don’s America is more risky and less reliable than one with China, and switch its allegiance. The leading candidate in South Korea’s upcoming presidential election – Moon Jae-in – having seen Trump in action, seems to be leaning that way, and who can blame him?

For that deal, China might take North Korea’s nukes away, do away with the entire Un regime and turn the country over to South Korea, who would in a short time turn the entire Peninsula into a thriving single country, trading with China instead of us. Now, that might affect our GDP.

Obamacare Repeal Failure Redux: The House tried again and failed again to repeal Obamacare. This pattern resembles the pattern of the Obama era, when House Republicans voted incessantly to repeal Obamacare, but which votes went nowhere, because the bill couldn’t get out of the Senate, and would been vetoed by President Obama immediately if it had.

The only difference today is that the repeal legislation cannot even get out of the House! It was fun and games for the Republican-controlled House to vote to repeal Obamacare over and over again when they knew the vote was meaningless. But now the vote could count and House members would have to explain it to their constituencies; many Republicans don’t want that.

The sweet irony is that House members have told their voters that Obamacare is a bad thing for so long that many voters believe it. Those moron voters may hold it against their Congresspersons for not doing away with it. Sweet.

Tax reform and budget: I won’t even comment on Ponzi Don’s budget proposal, because it is so far from reality that his one page recap is the last we will ever see of it. Congress approved a “stop-gap” budget to take us to the end of the fiscal year (September 30) that, with the exception of pissing more money away on our military, I can live with until then, because it puts Ponzi’s priorities – including the border wall with Mexico – in a drawer somewhere behind the socks.

Football: The NFL Draft is the last truly important event for my favorite spectator sport until the new season begins this fall. (My spring and summer of discontent commences.)

This draft was an odd one in the first round, I thought. My take is that the draft was heavy with defensive talent, much lighter on offense, and lacking a can’t-miss quarterback.

What we got was: first, a whole lot of trading; and a lot of excellent defensive players taken in the first round, including the #1 pick. But there were more offensive players taken in the top 10 than defensive ones, and a quarterback taken at #2, who I think was a really risky reach.

The draft stayed true to form for exactly one pick. Cleveland took DE Miles Garrett, pretty much everyone’s #1. At #2, Chicago paid a ton to move up one spot to take QB Mitchell Trubisky, in my view the third or fourth best QB in the draft (after Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes II), and nowhere near a #2 pick.

I presume Chicago thought San Francisco would take Trubisky with their #2 pick themselves, and didn’t want to chance it. With their now #3 pick, the 49ers took DE Solomon Thomas, a solid player with good odds of being a stud in the league. Chicago’s pick disrupted a whole lot of draft boards.

Thereafter, the Top 10 included three wide receivers, two running backs, one strong safety and one more QB – Mahones at #10 (Watson went #12). The game has evolved to be so pass-oriented that wide receivers are now being taken in the top 10. This used never to happen.

The Dallas Cowboys had an excellent draft; many others are saying this besides just Jerry Jones. Dallas had two major needs – pass rusher and defensive backfield – and they focused on them like a laser.

For their first three picks, the Cowboys took a pass rusher (Taco Charlton) and two cornerbacks (Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdon Lewis), the best available at the time (although I think Dallas really wanted Takkarist McKinley instead of Charlton, but he went two picks before Dallas’).

They took a break at #4 to pick Ryan Switzer, a Cole Beasley mini-me who can return punts, then two more defensive backs and a defensive tackle, plus a wide receiver from Ohio State – Joey Ivie – who gave OU fits in their game last season. Two defensive linemen topped off the draft in Round 7.

Speaking of the Sooners, they sent four excellent players to the NFL this year, plus four more signed to undrafted free agent contracts. The four signees are Joe Mixon (RB), Dede Westbrook (WR), Samaje Perine (RB) and Jourdan Evans (LB). I think all four will stick, and more than one will be considered absolute steals in the future.

OU’s most unfortunate draft eligible player is defensive tackle Charles Walker. A year ago, he might have been a first round pick, but Walker stayed at OU for his senior year, which was a disaster. He suffered a severe concussion and symptoms of depression. He left the team, which really hurt OU’s defensive line, and Bob Stoops called him out for it. He did not get drafted, but signed an undrafted free agent contract, a huge fall from grace and a first round selection. I hope he will be OK.

Status of the States: I was having too much fun to worry about the sorry state of these sorry states, so I have no candidates this week.

Coming Attractions: My thoughts on the Obama presidency, and thoughts on our divided nation (next week).

Thoughts on Events the Week of April 17

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on April 27, 2017

Trump’s Taxes: To think President Trump can be shamed into releasing his tax returns is a pipe dream.  Ponzi Don will never disclose his taxes willingly, because he knows if he does so, he will suffer humiliation, impeachment and possibly incarceration. He is a smarmy guy who does smarmy stuff.

It is also unlikely that they will be leaked, because, other than by Melania, it would be illegal as hell, and despite what Republicans say about the IRS, they wouldn’t do such a thing.

That said, I believe the taxes will come to light at some time, probably in a lawsuit, though it may have to wait until the Democrats take control of at least one house of Congress so a committee may compel it, which is unlikely to happen with a Republican-controlled Congress.

“Strategic Patience”: is out of fashion with Trump administration. It’s probably just was well. You can’t execute a strategy requiring patience if you don’t have any, though it is an effective strategy for those who do, such as grown-ups. It’s worth remembering that it took strategic patience to negotiate Iran into giving up its nuclear program.  The Obama administration, which Ponzi Don derides constantly, had strategic patience.

For all the whooping and shouting and threatening, there is still enough time to negotiate with North Korea before it will be able to be anything but a tiny dog that barks because it is afraid since everything around it is so much bigger.

Count me as one who believe that China is the key to North Korea, and that it will intervene ultimately. It’s said that China doesn’t have that much influence over North Korea, but that is nonsense. China is worried about the fallout if North Korea collapses, which is quite understandable. We need to indemnify China as to those possibilities with the right mix of goodies, money and assurances.

I like negotiating with China; they’re grown-ups. And I like that they are successful economically. The more they are, the more they have to lose. I only wish we had smarter people negotiating with them.

Speaking of Iran and Strategic Patience: When Secretary of State Tillerson, after certifying that Iran is adhering to its nuclear treaty with the U.S. and five other major countries, went on to say that Ponzi Don is still not happy with Iran for other reasons, and is thinking of breaking the nuclear treaty unilaterally, I was reminded of a joke my father told me many years ago. I won’t bore you with the entire set-up of the joke, but the punch line is, “I have but one question: are you out of your fucking mind?”

Obama’s plan of diplomacy and sanctions that persuaded Iran to give up its nuclear weapons programs, is his second greatest success story, and a blessing to the entire planet.

Ponzi Don is upset with Iran for supporting its allies in the Syrian War, just as we are supporting our allies. You see the difference, don’t you?

From the beginning, Iran, the U.S. and our negotiating partners, agreed to set all other issues aside and focus on the nuclear weapons issue, as we felt it to be the most important. With that one dealt with, and trust established, other issues could be addressed later.

Well, the nuclear issue has been dealt with by the previous administration, so it is now up to Ponzi Don to address other issues if he wishes. But, if Ponzi Don screws up the deal that keeps Iran from having a nuclear weapon for years, if ever, it will prove to be his worst mistake in office, and that will really be saying something.

Sudden thought: Can you imagine the nuclear deal with Iran negotiated by Obama’s Energy Secretary, Earnest  Moniz , an actual nuclear physicist and chaired professor at MIT, being negotiated by Trump Energy Secretary Rick Perry, an actual Aggie?)

Diary Entry: I returned to the University of Oklahoma for a track and field meet, during which former track and field athletes from the 1961-63 era, of which I’m one, were recognized. We were treated very hospitably, and it was nice to see some old teammates, though I wish there could have been more.

I then spent two days fishing on Lake Tenkiller in eastern Oklahoma. The weather was not our friend. I only caught one fish, but it was a legitimate five pound Largemouth Bass. And, I walked up within fewer than three feet from a beaver.

Status of the States: I was having too much fun to worry about the sorry state of these sorry states, so I have no candidates this week.

Coming Attractions: My thoughts on the Obama presidency, and thoughts on our divided nation.

Thoughts on Events the Week of April 10

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on April 17, 2017

Bombs Away: President Trump got so excited firing missiles at Syria that he wanted to do it again. You can almost hear the conversation in the Situation Room.

Trump: Damn that was fun, dropping bombs on those guys.

General: Those were missiles, Mr. President.

Trump: And my approval rating went up.

General: This is America, Mr.  President.

Trump: Can I bomb somebody else?

General: Er, yes, Sir.

Trump: Can it be with real bombs this time?

General: Yes, Sir.

Trump: Can it be with a real big one? I want a real big one.

General: Yes, Mr. President.

Trump: I’ll leave the details to you.

General: Thank you, Mr. President.

“Gypsies, tramps and thieves:” The Trump family are as a band of Gypsies who have, trusting no one but their own family, swooped into town to steal everything they can get their hands on, and then move on.

One thing is certain, as one after another Trump joins the administration, any claim that Ponzi Don has separated his governmental responsibilities and his family business interests is nonsense. This is probably what will trip him up, ultimately.

Ryancare: A recent poll indicates that Ponzi Don’s base blames Speaker of the House Paul Ryan for the Repeal and Replace Obamacare disaster, and not the president. This is as it should be. Ryan crafted the dog’s dinner of a bill that everyone but him found disgusting. Ponzi never really bought into it, as that would take time and thought.

What Ponzi Don did do is promise his voters healthcare that would be cheaper, better and cover everybody (Ryan never promised that). So, we’re still waiting for Ponzi Don’s bill.

It would be delicious irony if Ponzi were to work with Democrats and reform Obamacare to evolve into Medicare or Medicaid for everyone (at least his base and he wouldn’t have to hear it called Obamacare anymore), or at least include a public option.

Trump’s Policies, Strategies, Priorities. You’ve got to be kidding: Everyone is trying to discern Ponzi Don’s thinking. There is none. A recent example of how little thought goes into Ponzi Don’s agenda, and how bereft it is actual thought: Ponzi created a commission (a Washington political euphemism meaning to push it to the back burner and hope everyone forgets about it) to study how to combat the opioid addiction epidemic. He even appointed a chairman – Chris Christie. All well and good, I suppose; I don’t know much about this issue.

However, the House healthcare bill, had it passed, would have gutted all the resources with which to deal with the epidemic. His budget proposal would do the same.  Ponzi is incapable of intellectual consistency, which requires a willingness and ability to juxtapose ideas. You can’t hope to juxtapose ideas if you have only impulses.

Pence: There is one very important lie floating around that I want to be sure doesn’t get lost in the myriad of distractions being thrown up about the Trump campaign’s connections to Russia. If Trump should fall over this, the next in line is Vice President Mike Pence, but he is into the Russian connection scandal up to his neck and lying through his teeth about it.

Ponzi gave the lame excuse for firing Michael Flynn that he misled Pence about having connections to foreign governments Russia and Turkey. This is a canard. Pence already knew about Flynn. He probably knew before anyone in the administration.

Pence was head of the transition committee when the intelligence community informed it about Flynn. The letter would have gone directly to Pence, or he sure as hell would have known about it. Yet he took no action about Flynn, just like Ponzi punted or stalled. But Pence knew, so he can’t claim to be surprised or disappointed by Flynn’s for lying to him.

Diary Entry: Rita Rudner performed here Saturday night, and she put on a delightful stand-up comedy act. We’ve seen her before, and she is always funny. She is especially good with running gags, which pop up throughout her performance.

Status of the States: I suspected last week that Alabama would win the cup this week, and I was right. It was an easy guess. Alabama’s Governor Bentley, already in deep, deep political and legal doo doo, pleaded guilty to using public resources to pursue an affair with a former aide then resigned to avoid being impeached. Have you seen this guy? Who would have sex with him if money weren’t involve?

 Coming Attractions: My thoughts on the Obama presidency, and thoughts on our divided nation.

Thoughts on Events the Week of April 3

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on April 13, 2017

The Filibuster and the Supremes: I’m ambivalent about filibusters. They seem counterintuitive to our concept of majority rule democracy. But the rule was adopted in both chambers of Congress very early on – 1806 – presumably as a way to recognize the rights of the minority.

The House abandoned the rule (it can’t get a supermajority to agree on the time of day), but the Senate retained it, consistent with its self-image of being the more deliberative legislative body.

The filibuster was first used in 1841. Since then, it has at times served its purpose of avoiding rash decisions, and at times been used for great mischief. It has become accepted, however, that it is appropriate for some really important decisions, which deserve more acceptance than just a simple majority. I agree with this, in theory, but it isn’t working well in practice these days.

Rarely used through most of history (the Senate has many other arcane rules to help it avoid voting on anything unless absolutely unavoidable), filibusters have been invoked more and more recently, and then almost constantly when President Obama came to live in the White House, searing the eyeballs of many who couldn’t accept this black/white contrast. The filibuster reflected and exposed this deep racial prejudice, as well as the danger of the Filibuster if it is used excessively and abusively.

Frustrated by Republicans’ absolute obstructionism of the Obama Administration, which was hampering the judicial branch by holding up any appointments to court benches, then Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid changed Senate rules so that only a simple majority vote is needed to approve judicial appointments, with the exception of Supreme Court nominees. The too frequent application of the filibuster, and the subsequent rule change has tarnished the reputation of the Senate badly.

But then, something even more damaging occurred in the Senate. When Justice Antonin Scalia died unexpectedly on February 16, 2016, then Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared that the Senate would not even consider any nominee of President Obama to fill the vacant seat, even though there was almost a year left in Obama’s term. The seat has been empty until now.  This was the most outrageous abuse of legislative duty and responsibility in my memory.

With the White House and the Senate now in Republican control, President Trump has nominated Neil Gorsuch to replace Scalia. Democratic Senators are so angry with Republicans over McConnell’s denying this appointment to Obama that they filibustered Trump’s nominee. McConnell then changed the rules to allow a simple majority to consent to a Supreme Court nominee.

Once called the “World’s greatest deliberative body,” it is more accurate today to call it the partisan legislative body headed at present by a smarmy, amoral, bigoted, bespectacled industrial grade asshole.

The Senate has sullied it reputation beyond repair, and taken the reputation of the Supreme Court with it. The Supreme Court will become, and will be looked at, as just another politically partisan prize, with diminished public respect for its decisions.

So, we seem to be heading back to a simple majority vote for everything, which is how the Founders wrote it into the Constitution. (The Constitution isn’t perfect; one flaw is that the Founders assumed that everyone would do his or her duty, as written. They were so young.)

The irony here is that if I were in the Senate, I would have voted to approve Ponzi Don’s nominee. I think Gorsuch is on the right wing fringe, a religious wacko and a man with mind warping, tragic parental experiences, but sufficiently qualified by education and experience to sit on the Court. I expect him to vote to repeal Rowe v. Wade at the first opportunity, perhaps on a sewage contract dispute case.

So, this is how it will be. Duke it out and let laws and regulations swing from pole to pole depending which party is in power, until perhaps one day we come to our senses and negotiate on bills that both parties can agree to, but I think the odds are stacked against it for a long while.

Syria: President Obama’s handling of Syria was the third worst mistake of his presidency. I don’t mean backing away from the “red line” Obama drew if Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons. The mistake was drawing the red line in the first place.

I think Obama meant it when he drew that line, but thereafter, he got resistance from Congress when he asked for approval to act, and from American public opinion, including Donald Trump, who advised against intervening in Syria at the time. Obama backed away, which was the right thing to do, anyway.

The dust up did deter Assad from using chemical weapons of mass destruction for a time, though. Obama met with Putin to discuss a solution, and Putin volunteered to persuade Assad to give up the chemical weapons, and take responsibility to monitor the removal of them from Syria. Putin even took a victory lap for doing that, which, it turns out, he never did. Putin and Assad. What a pair.

Assad is back to gassing his own innocent subjects, with the knowledge and consent of Putin (Assad wouldn’t pluck lint from his blazer without Putin’s OK), and Russian troops were at the scene when the chemical weapons were loaded onto Syria’s planes. President Trump is blaming Obama’s weakness as the reason for Assad’s attack, of course.

It is much more likely, however, that Assad and Putin listened to Ponzi’s and his nominal Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s feckless comments about Syria and decided it was OK to resume gassing. Besides, Putin knows that Ponzi Don has a soft spot for tyrants. With a nod to Edward Arlington Robinson, Ponzi is the “Miniver Cheevy” of American presidents. He wishes he could be a tyrant too.

Typical of Ponzi (this guy’s brain is a Whack-a-Mole), he dropped his America First doctrine like a bad habit, shot 59 missiles at some harmless targets, and hopes this will be the end of it. (I remember when Clinton did something similar in the mid-90s, dropping some bombs on a pharmacy in Afghanistan or Sudan, and calling it a victory of terrorism.)

The cynic in me wonders if Putin ordered this chemical weapon attack to take some heat off Ponzi and his too intimate associations with Russia, and make it appear he and Ponzi are not really on the same page.

But the question is: what will Ponzi do about Syria now that he is in charge? (Obama is out of office. How long can this blaming his predecessor for everything go on?) I don’t think Ponzi’s Electoral College score is going to be particularly useful in addressing Syria.

My hope and expectation is that he won’t do anything much different than Obama did if he can help it, since Obama took the best of a number of distasteful options.

Many Americans (not just Senators McCain and his mini-me Lindsay Graham, who never saw a country they don’t want to bomb) are happy with Ponzi’s adventure. Nothing gets approval among the American public like dropping bombs on somebody, never mind who it is, or how stupid. It just feels good to our gun culture country.

Assad is a monster, an even bigger monster than we ever expected him to be, but he is not our monster. Remember, please: the conflict in Syria, as in all the other Middle East conflicts, are a religious civil war between Sunnis and Shi’ites. We can have no effect on a religious war, and we shouldn’t even try. ISIL is simply a sub-sect of Sunnis. So is Al-Qaeda. The Taliban is a sub-sect of one or the other of them. I can’t even remember which one any more. It doesn’t matter. They have to work it out themselves.

Susan Rice: Ponzi Don dragged Obama National Security Advisor into his sequential shiny object distraction scheme to avoid facing the music for his libel that he had been surveilled during the presidential campaign.

Ponzi Don is now suggesting Rice was the one surveilling his campaign for Obama, because while doing her duty, Rice learned the names of some Americans mentioned in intercepted communications from foreigners. This is part of the responsibility of the National Security Advisor, for Christ’s sake, although Ponzi might not understand that since his first NSA was Michael Flynn.

Rice is an easy, though completely innocent, target, because she happened to be the one sent on the Sunday news shows to read the intelligence community’s initial report on Benghazi, which proved to be premature and thus incorrect. The rabid right was all too happy to shoot the messenger, and used Rice as a punching bag throughout the discredited, interminable Benghazi investigations. The main reason she was the prime target, though, is because she is black and a woman, pure and simple.

Diary Entry: March did not go out like a lamb here. We had snow on March 31.

Status of the States: Kansas wins the cup running away this week, thanks to its odious Governor Sam “Mossback” Brownback. When the Obamacare repeal and replace legislation crashed and burned and it became apparent Obamacare wasn’t going anywhere, many red states that had previously eschewed Medicaid expansion started giving it another look. Kansas, of all places, decided to take the leap. Its legislature passed the bill to do so, but Mossback vetoed it, depriving his state’s poorest citizens of medical care.

Coming Attractions: My thoughts on the Obama presidency, and thoughts on our divided nation.

Thoughts on Events the Week of March 20

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on March 29, 2017

Healthcare: The fundamental problem with the Republicans’ attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare is that they offered up a truly terrible replacement bill, one grossly inferior to Obamacare; one that could not seriously be called a healthcare bill at all. This bill threatened to destroy something that people have come to consider useful in their lives.

Republicans ran against Obamacare for two full terms of Obama’s presidency without ever offering an alternative, or even a rationale for why Obamacare was bad. They just said it was, and many people believed it, because of racism, smears about Obama’s legitimacy and religion, and because Obama was proposing something new, which smelled vaguely of socialized medicine. But mostly, it was racism and smears.

Still, Republicans had eight years to think up their own plan, and now control Congress and the White House, and this is what they came up with. When the time came to show their hand, they had nothing; in fact, they had worse than nothing.

Make no mistake, however. This was the replacement that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan wanted. He leaped at the chance to introduce this bill, which he has been hawking for years. His plan would have lowered the budget by screwing the poor out of healthcare, then giving billions of dollars in tax breaks to the filthy rich. Ryan is what passes for a policy wonk in Republican circles, but he is simply a mean-spirited empty suit.

President Donald J. Trump, a racist, xenophobe, misogynist and birther himself, leapt on the Ryancare bandwagon, having given Ryan’s bill little if any thought, and he took bashing Obamacare one step further by promising Trumpcare would be cheaper, better and cover everybody, a mathematical impossibility, without a clue what such a plan would look like, but it sure as hell wouldn’t have looked like what Republican legislators were  planning.

Even before the healthcare bill began its fruitless journey to nowhere, Ponzi Don was demonstrating that his corporate mentality was not meshing at all well with democratic governance. He didn’t realize the essential truth of Washington:  Politicians fear nothing more than voters, certainly more than they fear Ponzi Don. With repeal and replace, Ponzi’s first major effort, pushing a bad bill, Ponzi demonstrated that in the political arena, he couldn’t sell pussy on a troop train.

Ponzi Don blamed Democrats for his failure, because not one of them voted for the bad bill. (Earth to Ponzi: no Republicans voted for Obamacare either, but Obama got it through.) Ponzi said Democrats are the losers because they now own Obamacare. Duh. Hey, Ponzi, of course Democrats own Obamacare. They enacted it after months of hard work, and it is helping people, which for social legislation is a good thing. They are proud to own Obamacare.

You, on the other hand, own Trumpcare – a total failure, and since you didn’t replace Obamacare, you own it now, too. It is on your watch now, and if you try to screw it up, which you have threatened to you,  you will be responsible for that failure too.

So, Ponzi’s political base, you were lied to by your leaders for years. You are stuck with Obamacare as it is for a while, and fortunate that you are. Ponzi would have thrown you out into the streets like a Dickensian orphan, without giving it a thought.

In a blog entitled Epiphany, I posited that Obama’s agenda would be enacted soon after his term ended. His black presence was its biggest impediment. I think I’m starting to look pretty prescient.

One final point: healthcare is not a right, as some Republicans point out correctly. But it is a benefit, which now in practice, voters think is a good thing to be spending our tax money on, maybe even better than military spending, which we waste in the hundreds of billions yearly without favorable result. Wake up, Republicans; your voters want this. Work with Democrats to make it better, not to kill it. There are models aplenty already worked out by other advanced countries.

Ponzi and the Russkies: Many agencies and Congress – some more seriously than others – are investigating possible links between Russia and members of the Trump administration. We know a few things they have found, but not much yet, and we should not leap to conclusions before we do. I am confident, however, that we will learn the whole story eventually. Ponzi has offended the intelligence community greatly. The FBI, CIA and NSA will pursue their investigations rigorously.

One thing we do know, is that Ponzi Don’s claim that Obama had surveilled him – a felony – was pulled straight out of his early morning ass.

My guess, and that’s all it is, is the Ponzi Don’s personal coziness with the Russians has to do with business, not intrigue. Business is all he thinks about. But I also suspect he knew what his political minions were doing with Russia, which was also transactional, but corrupt and possibly criminal. We’ll see.

The odd thing to me here is that Ponzi Don’s base loves him but hates the Russians, without seeming to mind the connections. The older Ponzi voters, of whom there are many, remember the cold war. They fear communism, which they equate with socialism (without knowing the difference). Yet, they let Ponzi Don’s administration get away with its antics without complaint. This puzzles me, and I wonder what their reaction will be when all the facts are known.

The Russians themselves:  Vladimir Putin – Yesterday’s Man – has successfully dragged Russia back to the days of the old-style Communist regimes: brutal, thuggish, corrupt, treacherous, and governed with authoritarian control. They arrest opposition, or shoot them in the streets. Russia is a sorry excuse for a civilized society, and a sad indictment on its people, who seem to prefer authoritarianism to other forms of governance.

Russia is, in fact, closer to a third world country than an advanced nation. Its influence resides in its weapons. Its economy is built on exporting oil and mischief. We give it far too much attention. It is a country that needs to be contained, but not feared, nor fought, nor coddled. Where is George F. Kennan when we need him?

Status of the States: No state can even sniff the pitiful behavior of Washington, D. C., Trump Tower or Mar – a – Lago.

 

Coming Attractions: My thoughts on the Obama presidency, and thoughts on our divided nation.

Thoughts on Events the Week of March 13

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on March 21, 2017

President Donald J. Trump committed so many cockups this week that if I tried to cover them all, I wouldn’t have enough space to do any of them justice. I will focus on two, to which I can give more thought.

Twofer: Ponzi Don managed to offend gravely two of our closest allies in one 24 hour period. His visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel was badly bungled. The entire time she was here, Merkel looked at Ponzi Don like she was sitting beside a drunken bum on the subway, worried that he was about to vomit on her shoes.

Just the day before, persisting with his lie about being surveilled by the Obama Administration during the presidential campaign, Ponzi Don dragged the British intelligence service into his smear, claiming that Obama had avoided detection by using them instead of his own agencies to spy on Ponzi. This statement was not well received by the British, who not only denied it firmly, but gave the distinct impression that Ponzi Don had peed on their diplomatic carpet.

Ponzi Don has got a tiger by the tail with his libel of Obama, and he can’t or won’t let go. He continues to maintain something that is obviously false. (A common characteristic among liars is their ability to continue lying no matter what the evidence. My guess is that Ponzi Don thinks he can duck and weave and obfuscate until the whole thing blows over. But Ponzi can’t duck his lies like he could as a candidate. He is the president now; his words have papal weight. Papal weight. Get it?

In supporting Ponzi’s lie, his official lie justifier, Sean Spicer, read a litany of quotes from various sources, including Fox and Breitbart, which, Spicer stated shamelessly, Ponzi Don had strung together to reach his conclusion. (For the record, Fox News immediately distanced itself unequivocally from the guest expert lawyer, and stated firmly that is not aware of any evidence whatsoever to support Ponzi Don’s smear. I suspect this statement was made at the direct order of the Murdock boys, who are trying to lift Fox News out of the sewer in which it has been swimming, and wanted nothing to do with Ponzi’s effluent.)

Ponzi tried a similar dodge when asked by a German journalist about his claim. Ponzi said he heard it on Fox News, and that instead of asking him, the journalist should ask Fox News.

As liars and excusers go, Spicer is worthless.  He looks like he’s going to lie as he walks into the briefing room, even before he opens his mouth, and it’s downhill from there. Ponzi has many better liars at his disposal, including Vice President Pence, who lied through his teeth when he said he had no idea Michael Flynn was connected with two foreign governments – Russia and Turkey – the latter as an agent, though he failed to registered as one. Pence probably knew this before anyone else.

Everyone from both parties who is cleared to know the facts (except FBI Director James Comey, who is due to speak Monday, and who’s going to trust him anyway, aster his Clinton episode? This is a man of situation integrity.) states unequivocally that there is no evidence to support Ponzi Don’s lie. So, Ponzi’s defense boils down to: are you going to believe me or your lying eyes?

Pundits worry that Ponzi Don’s lie is ruining his credibility and if a serious problem should arise, he won’t have the credibility he needs to deal with it, which misses the point entirely. First, this is a serious problem. The President of the United States has accused his predecessor of a felony, for which he has no evidence. If I were Barak Obama, I would sue Ponzi Don for libel. But Obama is a better man than I.

Second, Ponzi has already lost all credibility with anyone who counts. The real worry is that a man this flawed is going to screw everything up that comes along.

Trumpcare or Ryancare: Republicans have proven that if you repeat a lie often and consistently, people will come to believe it. This tactic has served them well on occasion, but it has a downside risk, as exemplified by their lies about Obamacare. Many now believe Obamacare has been a disaster and is failing. Republicans have pledged to repeal and replace it with something better for almost eight years, which is more than a lie; it’s utter bullshit.

I think it is logical to predict that Obamacare will not be repealed until it can be replaced, though House Republicans would like to, before anyone can realize how bad their plan. But, people won’t stand for Obamacare to be repealed without simultaneous replacement.

At present, there are two competing Republican plans to replace Obamacare after a fashion, though neither can be called a realistic plan in any sense of the term. One promises everything with no possible way to deliver. The other is simply a wealth transfer to the rich while screwing everybody else.

Trumpcare, according to Ponzi Don, will be better, cheaper and cover everybody. That’s it. That’s his plan. Not a single detail, just a campaign promise impossible to keep. However, Ponzi also says he is 100% behind the House’s plan, whatever that is, but which is an entirely different thing.

Ryancare, is the same smarmy money grab that Ryan has been hawking for almost a decade. House Republicans passed this plan in 2012, and Democrats hung it around Mitt Romney’s neck during the election, when Ryan was his vice presidential candidate, and it was lethal. Now he is hanging it around the neck of House Republicans again, thinking this is his one best chance to get away with it.  Fool them once?

Ryan just flat hates poor people, and his glee at the possibility of screwing them to help his rich friends get richer is palpable. So eager is he to screw them that he rushed repeal of Obamacare to the front of the legislative line, which, given healthcare’s importance, Obamacare’s popularity and legislature’s revulsion at Ryan’s bill, has jammed up the legislative calendar’s progress like four pounds of cheddar cheese.

Ryan feels superior to the poor. He thinks they should be punished for being poor or disabled, and their status as American citizens diminished. His plan would throw 14 million people off insurance roles on the spot, create a tax cut of hundreds of millions of dollars for the top 1%. It is going nowhere in the Senate, even if House Republicans are stupid enough to vote for it.

Sudden thought: wouldn’t it be delightful if, while trying to repeal Obamacare by fulfilling Ponzi Don’s campaign promise, Republican’s end up with Obamacare plus improvements, such as a public option, or putting everyone on Medicare? How delicious.

Other egregious Ponzi Don behavior: I’m not even going to comment on Ponzi’s budget or the Russians.  Both are too disgusting to include with the items above. It’s too much to stomach all at once. In any case, the Russian scandal, if there turns out to be one, will out in the future, and the budget, nor anything like it, is ever going to be taken seriously.

Sudden Thought: The term White Supremacist is an oxymoron. How can anyone be “supreme” if they look down on, denigrate and persecute other human beings? In fact, that kind of behavior is just the opposite of being decent, let alone supreme.

Status of the States: Hell with the states. None of even the worst of them has behaved as badly as Washington this week.

Though I would mention that Arizona, my own personal state, plea bargained persuaded more than 200 murder suspects to 25 to 35 years – depending on the circumstances of the crime – and then outlawed parole for felons convicted of murder. These prisoners may be screwed. We’ll know soon, because one such prisoner comes up for parole soon.

Coming Attractions: Still working on my thoughts on the Obama presidency, and thoughts on our divided nation.

Thoughts on Events the Week of March 6

Posted in Diary Entry, Politics and Justice, Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on March 13, 2017

In a recent conversation about blogging with an extremely competent English teacher, she observed that most personal blogs appear to be mere replacements for a diary. I try to focus on thoughts and responses, but I think she has a good point. Looking back, I see that I have insinuated some diary-like entries into my blogs. So, to distinguish these for my readers, and as a caution to myself not to overdo them, I will in the future try to identify these topics with the headline Diary Entry.

Jobs Report:  Since I consider a job man’s noblest possession after love, the jobs report was good news. Some 235,000 jobs were added to our economy; unemployment remained around 4.7% to 4.8%, even with more people coming back into the workforce. Average wages rose also.

Some are carping that President Donald J. Trump shouldn’t get credit for these results, because the positive report is due to Obama administration policies and performance. This is technically true, of course, but intellectually inconsistent. It doesn’t work that way. The February report is on Ponzi Don’s watch; he gets the credit.

So, Ponzi Don had a good February, 2017 jobs report. Not the greatest February report ever, as he might try to assert. Not even quite as good as Obama’s February reports from 2015 or 2016, but still a good report.

When Obama’s string of positive monthly job reports was piling up, Ponzi Don asserted that the statistics were bogus, that the numbers were inflated and that the unemployment rate was grossly understated. From his asshole, he drew an estimate that the true unemployment rate was 20%, 30%, maybe even 40%.

At the press briefing announcing the good jobs report, Sean Spicer was asked if the new administration now agrees that jobs reports are accurate. With a smug, smirking smile that only mean-spirited, right wing hypocrites can conjure up, Spicer said that past results were all wrong before but now these results are accurate. What a smarmy jerk.  Still, it was a good report and I’m glad.

Speaking of hypocrisy: A number of responsible Senators is waiting to see the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) scoring of the proposed Obamacare repeal and replace legislation, which is being steam rolled through the House without benefit of this important information.

The CBO is a non-partisan entity, created to provide expert estimates of the cost and effects of proposed legislation. Its reputation is solid, and its forecast of cost and effect of the Obamacare legislation, while off due to changes in the final bill, was closer than anyone else’s.

Fearing a very negative score on the House’s dog’s dinner of a bill, Republicans are not rethinking the bill, but trying to discredit the CBO in advance of its opinion, which is due out Monday.

This discrediting of institutions that the administration and its allies in Congress feel might inhibit reaching their goals is a bad and dangerous tactic. Institutions

reflect the thrust of history. They may be improved upon, but they should not be torn down willy-nilly. There is much value in them. (Think how much better Obamacare could be today if Republicans had worked together with Democrats to improve it over the last seven years, rather than squander those years with intransigent opposition without suggesting improvements.)

In this destructive discrediting practice, Ponzi Don’s administration is not unlike the Taliban and ISIL, which have been destroying all the historic artifacts of the territories they have taken, without regard to their historical significance or value. Ponzi Don and Taliban. It’s not only prescient, it rhymes.

Speaker of the House: I am sick to death of this Paul Ryan. He postures as a policy wonk, but he is no such thing. In fact, he is stupid, superficial and mean-spirited. He doesn’t even understand the basic concept of insurance, though he has strong opinions about it, which are punitive rather than helpful. It is a reflection on House Republicans that they suffer this fool.

Ryan thinks in terms of worthies and unworthies, rather than citizens. He’s like some character from a Dickens novel, and not one of the good guys either, but the greedy Scrooge types. He’s worse than the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus Republicans in the House. At least they are honest about their desire to shrink federal spending, however extreme. Ryan just wants to punish people for being poor.

Mother Russia: This whole business stinks on ice. There are so many villains in this piece, it’s like an Agatha Christie novel. And it is taking far too long for any of it, let alone all of it, to be sorted out. Ponzi Don’s lie about Obama is as obvious as sunshine. Vice President Michael Pence lied through his teeth when he said he didn’t know anything about Ryan’s contacts with Russia. What liars!

Trust is an issue here. Whom among this whole group is to be believed? Pence? Jefferson Beauregard Sessions? Michael Flynn? Paul Manafort? Roger Stone? Carter Page? Felix Sater? Every one of them (with the possible exception of Sater, who actually pled guilty to a crime) has lied like a rug. If Ponzi Don ever uttered a truth, his tongue would wither to dust and blow away.

One might have trusted the head of the FBI, but Comey’s reputation is destroyed by his own hand. He’s being coy and quiet now, but when it came to Hillary Clinton, he wouldn’t shut up. I, nor anyone else, will trust completely whatever he ultimately says now. I wouldn’t trust him with my burnt match sticks.

Diary Entry: Art Garfunkel came to town and put on a delightful performance. He interspersed classic Simon and Garfunkel songs with some of his own, readings of his own poetry (he borrowed a few phrases from Keats), and a couple of covers. He obviously enjoyed the evening and so did we.

His two accompanists – one on guitar and one on both a Kronos KORG and a standard piano – are fabulous musicians.

The only discordant note came not in a song, but when Garfunkel was introducing “Are you going to Scarborough Fair?” A tasteless woman in the audience called out, “It’s not your song.” Garfunkel’s reply was direct: “Yes, it is.”

Another diary entry:  I saw my first lizard of the season March 2, sunning on a rock. Today, I saw the first humans of the season, sunning themselves on their porches. I also heard doves, flickers and hawks calling for mates, and hummingbirds displaying for the same purpose.

Status of the States: Texas, as usual, is a strong candidate for the cup this week for many reasons. But the disgrace must go to Arizona, my own personal state, for this reason. Arizona has a law that forbids shooting a gun straight up in the air. Duh! But some state senators are working to lessen the penalties of this bill, so if some enthusiastic Arizonan shoots in the air and the bullet comes down and hurts someone, it would be no big deal. Apparently, Arizona feels there should be nothing you can’t do, nor anywhere you can’t go with a fire arm.

I’ve never seen a gun fired straight into the air. I’ve seen videos of this happening, but they have always been taken in places like the pile of rocks that is Afghanistan, or the ungoverned regions of Pakistan. Are we like Afghanistan? I think these state senators would feel at home in Afghanistan and I wish they would go there.

Coming Attractions: My thoughts on the Obama presidency, and thoughts on our divided nation.