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Thoughts on Events the Week of August 3

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on August 11, 2020

TikTok: I don’t know much about this social media website, other than that it is wildly popular among young teenagers. On it, they post and share amateur videos. This fact renders Trump’s stated reason for threatening to ban it particularly stupid, and almost certainly disingenuous. One of these days, the Republican Party is going to need voters who are not pasty old white guys. Banning TikTok risks alienating younger voters before they are even eligible to vote.

Trump says he’s worried that China will be able to hack these teenagers’ private information. What Trump doesn’t understand is that China already has this information, because teenagers give their private information away indiscriminately already. You don’t have to hack to get it. The difficulty is getting teens to shut up about it. Like it or not, and I don’t, this younger generation has a vastly different take on privacy than previous ones.

No, I suspect Trump is upset because a Chinese company developed it, thus demonstrating that they know what they are doing. The poor man has TikTok envy, perhaps the only adult in the world who does, with the exception of Mark Zuckerberg, who now is facing some stiff potential competition.

Trump now is threatening to ban all Chinese companies from selling communications technology in America. The Chinese claim, rightly, that this is mere garden variety protectionism. Trump is trying to set up his own Smoot-Hawley Act specifically against China. We know how well Smoot-Hawley worked during the Great Depression; It exacerbated it

Novel Coronavirus: I’ve heard this term used as a name for Covid-19. It has too many syllables to become popular, but I like it as a description because it informs why there is so much confusion about it.

Covid-19 arrived brand new. We didn’t know anything about it. It was inevitable that starting from scratch with our knowledge of Covid-19, mistakes would be made about, which would be corrected as we gathered more data. We learn as we go. Well, everyone but Trump, who has sung the happy tune regardless of what the experts are able to learn. Trump is impervious to facts.

Stock market: There is a simile about addicts that they are like a person with two broken legs. You can lift them up, but when you let go, they fall down again. The only remedy is to let the legs heal so the addict can walk on his or her own again.

This analogy could also be applied to the stock market. The reasons the stock market is standing up while the rest of the economy is falling down, hard, is that Congress and the Fed are holding it up. This can’t go on forever, and eventually, and sooner rather than later, I think, the stock market is going to fall down.

Disclaimer: I have never understood the stock market, even when I was more heavily engaged in it, so my thoughts could be all wet. It is said that stock buyers buy on promise and sell on data. I don’t understand why, looking at the facts in front of us now, anybody is still buying on promise.

My biggest take away from the stock market’s performance – that it is going up while the rest of the economy is going to hell – is that the stimulus efforts are helping the wrong people, those who need it the least, and not the people who need it. In my view, the Fed tries to help the banks and Congress tries to help its wealthy donors, which is why there are always loopholes in legislation that allow the rich to get the biggest bite of everything.

(Am I a populist? Yes, and many other things.)

USPS: Broadly speaking, I am more sanguine about the upcoming election than many others, for a number of reasons including that Trump has been a disaster of a president, and a large majority of the voting population knows it. (Spoiler alert: I was certain Clinton would win in 2016.)

And I don’t worry about the Post Office doing its job very much. Post Office employees despise Trump, and if the mail is slowed down, I’ll bet a paycheck the postal carriers will see that mail-in ballots will be delivered timely – going and coming – even if they have to kick everything else to the curb for a while. The mail is already backed up anyway.

Covid 19: It doesn’t take a medical expert or a statistician to see that the U.S. has the worst record against this virus among advanced countries (Apparently, we’re not as advanced as we think we are). Trump carries on about absolute numbers, which he clearly doesn’t understand, and uses them to lie about how we are doing. But the numbers are only meaningful if they are calibrated on a per capita basis.

For instance, the states with the largest number of cases are California, New York, Texas and Florida. Well, duh. These are states with the largest populations. But on a per capita basis, things look different.

For instance, Arizona, my personal state, with a sparse population, ranks 22 in most Covid-19 cases, in the middle of the pack. But on a per capita basis, Arizona ranks 3rd! (Arizona’s governor wants kids back in school despite this deplorable ranking.)

President Trump has returned to giving daily briefings, ostensibly on the status of the virus. But in reality, he uses them as campaign rallies to smear opponents, his own experts, the press, and to air his countless grievances. If I were in charge, for every one of these briefings Trump segues into these tangents, I would send his campaign a bill for the event, rather than asking me to pay for it with my taxes.

Worst state: Trump’s attacks on our election system distracted me from reading about state malfeasance, so I don’t have enough data to pick a winner this week. See? Data.

Thoughts on Events the Week of July 27

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on August 2, 2020

The election: Trump floated the idea of postponing the election, which went over like a fart in a diving bell. (My spell checker doesn’t recognize that word.) It’s not going to happen, though not for want of Trump’s trying. Congress sets the date for elections, and Nancy Pelosi, nor even Moscow Mitch McConnell, is going to change it. The election is perhaps the only way we are going to get rid of Trump, though I’m still holding out hope he will quit before he does much more damage.

Don’t expect Trump to stop trying to thwart the election. It suits his purposes. He’s getting ready to be beaten to a bloody pulp and this gives him an excuse to blame it on someone or something other than himself. In the meantime, it has created some distraction – not enough, but some – from the disastrous economic news resulting from his mismanagement of Covid-19, and the whole country broadly.

Sudden thought: have we come to the point – politically and demographically – where the Republican Party, or whatever it has become, simply cannot win an election based on its ideas, which is a shame; Republicans used to have some good ideas? Its only options are to suppress voter turnout, which is obscenely contrary to democracy, or in Trump’s case, try to avoid the election entirely.

“It’s China’s Fault”: Trump is trying to blame China for Covid-19. Well, it may have originated in China, and they didn’t handle it very responsibly at first, but it’s not China’s fault any more than it is Africa’s fault that some monkey came out of the jungle and gave us Ebola.

Frankly, I don’t care where Covid-19 came from. It’s here now and I’m more interested in what we are doing about it, which is precious little, and what we are doing isn’t working. In fact, Trump’s utter incompetence is making matters worse.

Consider that Trump is still hyping some drug I can’t spell, which has been proven not to be effective, relying on the “expertise” of Stella Immanuel, a doctor so far from science that she says some diseases come from patients having sex with demons in their sleep, for instance

And while we’re on the subject, I’m sick and tired of blaming China for everything. It’s nothing but garden variety xenophobia. Yes, China does some things I don’t like, particularly the theft of our intellectual property, but we should be addressing China like global grownups, not petulant school yard bullies.

And while we are at it, Russia has been stealing our technology for a lot longer. Remember how they got the atom bomb? Why isn’t Trump berating Russia? Don’t answer that; it’s obvious.

Sudden thought: Maybe Thomas Malthus was right. Maybe Covid-19 is nature’s way of telling us there are too many of us and we are living packed too tightly together. Could Covid-19 be a mini “Malthusian catastrophe?” It’s certainly a “natural check” on population. On second thought, the catastrophe is Trump.

 Liar-in-chief: In his almost four years in office, President Trump has told literally thousands of lies. And those are just his public pronouncements and tweets. Who knows how many lies he tells in private?

But his saddest, most pathetic lie yet occurred this week when he said he had been asked by the New York Yankees to throw out the first pitch at their opening day baseball game. The Yankees immediately said they had issued no such invitation, which makes sense because Trump is despised in New York (he is booed roundly if he even shows up at a Yankees game), and why would the Yankees lie about a thing like that? They’re not Trump.

How flawed and broken must a person be to tell such an easily disproven lie in public over such a trivial matter? The man simply cannot tell the truth. If it weren’t for all his other odious flaws, I could almost feel sorry for him over this one. 

It’s been opined that Trump blurted out this lie over envy of Anthony Fauci, who was invited to throw out the first pitch for the Washington Nationals opening day game July 23. Trump just had to try to one up Fauci, even if it meant telling a foolish lie. If that is the reason, and it is plausible, then the whole episode is even more pathetic. How shallow and needy must our president be to behave like that? Don’t answer; it’s a rhetorical question.

John Lewis: Former President Obama gave the eulogy at the funeral of the great advocate for civil rights. It was so refreshing to see and hear an eloquent, reasoned president speak to all of us again, it almost brought tears to my eyes.

Worst state: Texas runs away with the cup this week because U.S. Representative Louis Gohmert (R-Texas), who refuses to wear a face mask even in the well of the House among his colleagues, and even opines that masks may cause the virus, has tested positive for Covid-19. Who says there’s no justice in the world?

I don’t want Gohmert to die of Covid-19. I enjoy making fun of him too much, and I would have to stop calling stupid people Gohmerts. I don’t want anyone to die from the virus. But I wouldn’t mind if it made Gohmert sick enough to think a little deeper on the subject of masks, if he is capable of it. Gohmert is about as stupid as a man can be. Spoiler alert: Texas elects him routinely.

Thoughts on Events the Week of July 20

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on July 27, 2020

Portland: While President Sick Twist was subverting our Constitution with his police state tactics in Portland, some moms there reminded us what patriotism really looks like by forming a line between peaceful protestors and Trump’s goon squad. The goons tear gassed the moms. Portland’s mayor came to show his solidarity with the moms; they tear gassed him too. I have never been so disgusted with nor so worried about my country.

I am not defending people who destroy federal property. Let the goons surround the building and arrest those who try to damage it. Just don’t go into the city streets and assault peaceful protesters. And while you are at it, get a new wardrobe, one with insignia and your name on it.

You would think there is more we could do to deal with an authoritarian wannabe president, but absent some restraint (read courage and cajones) from his own party’s leaders, apparently there is very little, in practice. The only sure remedy is the election in November, which seems a depressingly long way away. If the election doesn’t rid us of this sick twist, I’m done.

Arizona’s primary election is August 4th. I have already mailed in my ballot, as I have done with every election of every kind for more than a decade, without incident. But I already know who the two candidates for president are. Can’t I have a presidential ballot right now? And BTW, if we want to know who won on election night, let states start counting mail in ballots before election day and have the numbers ready.

Sudden thought: I don’t think many statues of Trump will be erected any time soon, even in red states, at least until it is determined whether he will go to prison, and none for Attorney General Bill Barr.

Department of Homeland Tyranny: I was opposed to the Department of Homeland Security (NHS) from its beginning and blogged against it. It was/is a ludicrous idea. President Bush formed the department after 9/11, ostensibly to better coordinate the efforts to fight terrorism, but really to make it look like he was doing something, when in fact he had no idea what to do.

In effect, Bush placed another layer of bureaucratic sediment over the existing ones and made things less efficient, not more, when all he should have done is tell the disparate departments to do their job and put people in charge who could.

In the hands of Trump and Attorney General Barr, the DHS has morphed into an authoritarian regime’s goon squad. Let’s dismantle it back to its separate parts, revisit their charters and put insignias and name tags on them.

Covid-19: President Trump reinstituted daily briefings on the pandemic, sans any actual pandemic experts, apparently forgetting how badly these went for him before. On the first briefing, he read a prepared script in a monotone voice, both sure signs that he didn’t believe a word he spoke. This explains why the speech was more realistic. It was written by his staff, full of empathetic points none of which Trump really believes.

American Carnage: Was Trump being prescient when he spoke those words? If so, what was he describing: Covid-19 and his utter failure to cope with it; or the quasi-military assault on protesters in Portland? Trump says that if Biden is elected, the streets will be unsafe. Hell, they’re unsafe from his goon squads now.

Ghislaine Maxwell: This woman is allegedly the late Jeffrey Epstein’s ex-girlfriend, pimp, and Judas goat. She’s in jail without parole pending her trial as his accomplice in sex trafficking of minors, among others.

Maxwell’s name came up in the Covid-19 briefing, though I can’t imagine why. Sick Twist wished her well, which is his code for, “Don’t rat on me and I will pardon you.”

If Trump does pardon Maxwell, it will be interesting to see how much, if any of his base and Republican legislators might peel off. Nothing has dislodged their lips from Trump’s ass so far, but this may be the tipping point. Maxwell is accused of truly disgusting crimes.

In the meantime, that sound you hear is the patter of suburban white women’s feet scurrying away from Trump. Perhaps they don’t like the thought of having their daughters sold into sex slavery. Who knew?

Worst state: It is becoming monotonous selecting Texas and Arizona so frequently. And while Texas still richly deserves it, Arizona has actually backtracked and is beginning to see a slow decline in Covid-19 cases and deaths.

But a dark knight has come to the rescue of Texas in the form of the Senior Senator from Oklahoma, one James Inhofe. Inhofe is the dumbest sombitch in this Senate and that is not just my opinion; it’s the consensus, even among Senators.

Inhofe stated on the Senate floor that he will hold up the National Defense Authorization Act until the clause requiring the military to rename bases currently named after traitorous Confederate Generals is removed. (Did you have any idea these bases were so named? I didn’t; I was asleep at the wheel.)

Since almost the same clause is in both the House and Senate bills, which passed with veto proof majorities, experts say it won’t be possible for Inhofe to succeed, but just the fact that this Gohmert threatened to do it is enough to earn Oklahoma the worst state cup this week.

Thoughts on Events the Week of July 13

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on July 22, 2020

I haven’t paid much attention to the weekly news because I selfishly had another surgery on my broken jaw instead. So, I’m going to make a few observations of a less timely nature. (I did hear about John Lewis, and Portland, about which I’ll have some thoughts next week.)

Woulda, coulda, shoulda: If we had done what we should have done at the beginning – invoke the War Production Act and mobilized production of the medical materials we were going to need and distributed them nationally; shut down the economy and mandate that it not be opened until all the states had met the CDC’s start-up requirements; and mandate the use of masks, we would be over the worse of the virus by now, not the biggest failure among developed countries.

Not having done so, it’s apparent we are going to have to start all over again, six months out, and I think it is going to get ugly.

Let’s take a year off: Many students take a year between their high school graduation and college to bum around Europe. Mormons take two years off to go on a Mission to witness. None seems to have been ruined by the hiatus. Quite the opposite, I expect.

So why not have our students take a year off to help deter the virus? So they graduate a year later. Isn’t that better than not graduating at all? Or worse, not having their parents or grandparents or teachers around to see them graduate?

School systems can create lists of readings and other things students could be doing during the year, not to be graded but to improve their minds and give them a running start when they return to class.

Yes, it will be a pain in the ass and a disruption for others, but we can handle it.

Education System: Apropos of the above, we have prima facie evidence that our education system isn’t all that great anyway. This is apparent because we have so many people too manifestly ignorant to understand how important it is/was for them to be following the science and the guidelines. Of course, many of them are not ignorant, but just plain stupid.

Worst state: It would be easy, too easy, to give the cup to Texas and Arizona again. Both states are in deep virus doo doo, due to incompetent or politically bankrupt governance. But I’m giving the cup to South Carolina because Lindsay Graham. Here is a United States Senator who sold out every one of his principles, to the extent he had any, so he could play golf with the president.

Thoughts on Events the Week of July 6

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on July 14, 2020

Covid-19: That Covid-19 became such a political football is extremely unfortunate. This virus is a stone killer. It is far too serious for that. This partisan folly says more about us than the virus. No other country has handled it more incompetently.  

But there is one meager silver lining to this pandemic. At least it will snuff out the political careers of the governors of Texas (Abbott), Arizona (Ducey) and Florida (DeSantis). Each has followed the bidding of our witchdoctor-in-chief slavishly, to the detriment of his citizens, and each will pay the price.

Speaking of political football, the bulwark of Trump’s base is uneducated white males. If the NFL season is canceled due to the administration’s mishandling of the pandemic, which I’m worried it will be, I will take the under on the time it takes that lot to turn on him, finally. Politics is one thing, but football is sacred to these bozos (and me).

Putin: Russia amended its constitution, if that’s what you call it, to effectively extend Putin’s term to 2036. It seems like Russians are never comfortable unless they have an authoritarian tyrant’s foot on their necks. But maybe they were just rewarding Putin for having Trump’s testicles in such a tight grip, though that’s no big trick. Any authoritarian leader can do it.

Roger Stone: Trump commuted Stone’s sentence, as everyone expected he would. Trump has a history of buying off his friends and criminals (that’s redundant; all of Trump’s friends are criminals) with pardons and payoffs. Trump kept Stone out of jail to keep him from ratting him out.

It is within Trump’s authority to commute Stone’s sentence, though it shouldn’t be in such circumstances. Our Constitution is looking less and less prescient during the Trump administration.

There’s potential irony here. Trump demands loyalty but is loyal to no one but himself. It would be rich if being “loyal” to Stone was the last straw for enough voters to kick him to the curb.

Trump’s taxes: The Supremes ruled in two separate cases signaling that Trump will eventually have to turn over his tax returns to investigating authorities in Congress and New York State, respectively.

Trump will probably be able to run out the clock on complying with the Court until after the election, but I will take the under on when the tax returns come to light. So many people despise Trump that things get leaked during his administration.  

What comes next, we will have to wait and see, but here is my take: Trump has made a formidable enemy who will have its revenge on him when he leaves office. That enemy is the U. S. Attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York (SDNY), which Trump has much offended, to mimic Hamlet’s mother.

I think the SDNY will hunt Trump down like a rabid dog over every single evasion and fraud in those returns, of which I expect there are many since Trump wants so badly to conceal them. (He should have thought of that before he ran for president.)

If it can get the returns soon enough, the SDNY may be waiting for Trump on the tarmac when he arrives at the airport in New York or Florida after leaving Washington. But they will get him, no matter how long it takes.

Worst state: Texas and Arizona share the worst state cup again this week for obvious reasons.

Thoughts on Events the Week of June 29

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on July 6, 2020

Russia is not our friend any more than North Korea is: The New York Times says Russia offered the Taliban bounties for killing American soldiers and President Trump was briefed about it. Trump says he knew nothing about it, and if you believe that, you are gullible enough to have voted for him.

It’s inconceivable that a properly functioning intelligence community wouldn’t have told Trump about something like this, though it’s possible, I suppose, that Trump’s sycophants might hesitate, fearing his irrational wrath. Trump is like Eveline in The Wiz when she sings, “Don’t bring me no bad news.”

What is quite conceivable, however, is that Trump would lie about being briefed. Trump avoids responsibility like it’s Covid-19. Oh wait. He doesn’t try to avoid that.

Putin is our enemy, as everyone but Trump acknowledges. It’s unsurprising that he would want to kill us though it’s surprising that Trump doesn’t want to do anything about it. At the least, we should be slapping Putin around a bit. (One day, we will learn why Trump kowtows to Putin. It has to be more than his attraction to dictators.)

So, my question isn’t “What did the president know and when did he know it”? as Howard Baker asked about Nixon. I know the answer to that. My question is: will this revelation scare some Republicans sufficiently to break meaningfully from Trump, trying to save their own butts (it is too late either way)? Think Eurymachus in The Odyssey.

Could it be that James Carville and I might be right that Trump will quit before the election to avoid the humiliation of a landslide repudiation loss and try to salvage a pardon for himself, as Gerald Ford was stupid enough to give Nixon?

Washington D.C. wants to be a state, and it should be: Some 705,749 Americans live there at last count, but because of its geographical anomaly, they may vote for president and vice president (only since 1964) but have no voting representation in Congress.

More D.C. citizens are disenfranchised than the entire population of Vermont (647,575) and Wyoming (577,737). Yet these two sparsely populated states each have two senators and a representative, while D.C. has none!

The average population of a congressional district is 711,000, which means D.C fits right in there, population wise. (There should be three times as many congresspersons as there are, representing about 237,000 citizens each, but that’s a subject for another blog.)

Instead, D.C. voters are held hostage by a bunch of southern bigot congresspersons (I’m looking at you, Arkansas Senator Cotton, you smarmy pig part)  who don’t want them to vote because many of them are black and so may vote for Democrats. Can’t have that.

There may have been some logic in creating a geographic exception for the Capitol in the past, but whatever it is or was seems unfair and out of date now. This is a classic case of voter suppression. Let those people vote!

Mount Rushmore: I’ve never been there, and I doubt I’ll ever go. The monument has always seemed to me rather, well, cheesy, a mere step above the Indian curios shops along the highway in Arizona and New Mexico, among other states.

But Mount Rushmore appeals to our boorish president, so he invited 7,600 of his followers to gather closely together and infect one another. (Perhaps Trump chose Mount. Rushmore because it is in a state whose governor is stupid enough to have let it happen on her watch.)

Washington Redskins: The Redskins organization is getting pressure to change its name, along with the Atlanta Braves and the Cleveland Indians. This is where I leave the politically correct party. These are innocuous, well-intended names for sports organizations, and intent informs my thinking.

No sports organization wants to pick a name that fans won’t enjoy and appreciate. They pick names that have meaning to the community, and/or suggest strength and fierceness that the team will emulate. They are a compliment, not a smear. They are, in fact, all but an homage to the namesake.

So, if these teams decide to resist the rising tide of political correctness and keep their names, I stand with them. This has got to stop somewhere, and I suggest we try to stop it this side of common sense.

Masks: Speaking of common sense, wearing a mask makes common sense in this particular moment. How it became a political issue passes understanding. And I don’t understand why Trump resists. If I had Trump’s face, particularly his odd little round mouth, I’d wear a mask all the time.

Christopher Columbus statue torn down in Baltimore: I wouldn’t have done it. Columbus was an intrepid sailor though a terrible administrator, a tyrant, really, but he did sail bravely to the new world when the prevailing opinion was that it was flat, before anyone else had the courage to try it, except…

The Vikings. Knowing now that the Vikings were here long before Columbus, does he really deserve a statue for coming in second? But if we are going to tear Columbus’ statues down, then shouldn’t we replace at least some of them with those of Vikings? And does this mean we have to change the name of that college town in Ohio, or the circle in Manhattan? Common sense, people.

Live with it: We’re reading that this will be Trump’s new position on Covid-19. Based on the reopening stampedes we are seeing to bars, beaches and parties throughout the land, it appears that many people have already decided to do just that. But what about those who don’t live with it and die from it? They’re adding up and getting harder and harder to wish away.

Worst state: All of the worst states deserve the cup this week because all of them are experiencing severe spikes in their Covid-19 cases, due to their recalcitrant ways. Some states – Texas and Arizona and Oklahoma – are in particularly bad shape, while the rest are also in deep virus doo doo. I’m splitting the cup between Texas and Arizona and giving Oklahoma a pass, because the voters there approved expanding Medicaid.

Thoughts on Events the Week of June 22

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on June 29, 2020

Statues and flags and Names, oh my: We are being reminded in this awaking about black inequality in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, that whites with the best of intentions may be subconsciously racist, or at least racially insensitive, in some ways without even knowing it. 

I’ve always considered myself a very liberal and tolerant person, with no racist prejudice whatsoever. But no person enjoying the privilege of being white in America can fully appreciate the indignities that blacks in America experience daily, right up to and including getting shot by police.

This has come home to me vividly as I follow the protests and demonstrations regarding statues of Civil War leaders in the South; Confederate flags all over, including prominently at NASCAR events and even on the flag of Mississippi; and military forts named after Confederate generals. I confess, I’ve never given any of these much thought, or considered how hurtful they may be to our black citizens.

But I’m thinking about them now, and the subject seems more nuanced that it may seem at first. With any movement there is always pushback and overreach. Where do we draw the line? To me, the line is a matrix between history and intent, with an axis between public and private space. Here are some specific thoughts.

I have no sympathy whatsoever for the statues erected to Confederate generals and leaders in the South now that I’ve learned they were erected long after the Civil War and were put up to intimidate blacks as part of Jim Crow tactics. Leave them to history books and tear the statues down.

(As I write this, I remember how upset and angry I was in 1999 when the Taliban tore down statues and destroyed ancient artifacts in Afghanistan. Am I being intellectually inconsistent to see a distinction here? I don’t think so. The Taliban was displaying religious intolerance because the statues and artifacts were “un-Islamic.” What rubbish!

When governments do not separate church and state, you end up with movements like the Taliban and ISIS, and countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia. Islam hasn’t learned this lesson yet.)

I draw the line at tearing down Andrew Jackson, Woodrow Wilson, and any other presidents, as some advocate today. They were presidents, and therefore important historical figures, though both held views grossly out of fashion today. Nevertheless, you don’t tear down statues of American presidents.

Jackson was hard on Native Americans, but so was everybody at the time. Manifest Destiny was the overwhelming sentiment of their day. Wilson was an extreme racist even for his time, but he was a president. We should look clear-eyed at their flaws but recognize and respect their place in our history. I’m surprised Princeton is taking his name off of its school of public policy.

An exception might be the statue of President Teddy Roosevelt on horseback with a black man and an Indian on foot beside him, which stands at the entrance of the American Museum of National History in New York, giving off a stench of white supremacy. The museum is a public space, and this particular statue is unseemly there now.

Besides, there is plenty of recognition of Roosevelt at the museum other than the statue (the museum was founded by among others his father, and sits in Roosevelt Park, for crying out loud). I haven’t been to the ANHM in years and I don’t even remember the statue, but I’ve seen images of it recently, and it is clearly out of step with the times.

The legacy of John C. Calhoun, currently under attack, is a closer call. He was a slave owner, and a strong advocate for slavery as a “positive good.” He influenced that kind of thinking in the South. But he had a very distinguished political career, and he died in 1850, before secession and the Civil War.  He is an important historical figure. I have no use for his views, so, with a bit of anguish, I would let his reputation stand as history records it, and I think Yale erred in changing the name of Calhoun College. But Yale, like Princeton, is a private university and so gets to make its call.

I am ambivalent about the current pressure on Confederate flags.  It belongs to our history and so there is a necessary place for it in history books, but not on the state flag of Mississippi, for instance, which is certainly public by any standard.

Like those statues of Confederate Generals, Confederate flags are a slap in the face to every black American, and I have no use for them, or the knuckle dragging rednecks who display them. But their use by private citizens is protected by the Constitution as an expression of free speech. Private citizens and private spaces are free to make their own decisions as to its presentation.

Speaking of which, I applaud NASCAR for banning it at their events. Stock car racing is extremely popular in the south, and it took some strength of character to make this decision.

On the bright side, public attitudes about the flag are changing so dramatically that I think soon it will be as odious a symbol of racism as a Ku Klux Klan robe. Racist bigots self-identify by waving one around.

I had given no thought to the names of military bases because I never dreamed that any of them would be named after Confederate generals. It’s disgusting. Change all of those names.

Bottom line: After our founding, the Civil War and abolition of slavery is the most seminal even in our history. History must be preserved, even if it is inconvenient at any particular moment, so we can learn from it. It is who we were, if not necessarily who we are today. But to revel in odious aspects of it is unseemly and an insult to many fellow Americans.

Worst States: Since Oklahoma won the cup last week due to President Trump’s reckless trip to Tulsa, of course Arizona gets it this week since we let him come to Yuma for a ludicrous photo-op with his wall toy, and then visit a mega-church in Phoenix where 3,000 young evangelical whackos crowded together, sans masks, at a youth rally.

The church crowed that it had installed a ventilation system (invented by a parishioner) that would eliminate 99.9% of Covid-19 germs in 10 minutes, evoking Las Vegas casinos hawking their systems that filter cigarette smoke. How crassly commercial, and what nonsense.

Coming attractions:  Troubling news just broke about Russia and Putin too late to include here. Next week.

Thoughts on Events the Week of June 15th

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on June 22, 2020

Bolton’s Book: I don’t read any political tell all books by authors of either party for a number of reasons. The first reason is that any important information contained in one is going to be all over the news, so I don’t have to read the book. Second, the rest of the book is bound to be boring, or I would hear about it on the news. Finally, I don’t like any of these gossips to make money off of me.

In this case, there is another reason. Bolton is an industrial strength sick jerk, so this book is one sick jerk ratting out another sick jerk; it is beneath me.

That said, I enjoyed seeing Trump turning purple with rage under his orange coating and suing to suppress its publication. (The suit was rejected by a federal judge.)

Trump sues everybody. This suit is laughable since the book has already cleared NSA vetting (I read that it had been, but the judge said not. I’m confused.), and the courts have already ruled against prior restraint. Plus, many copies are already distributed, so that ship has sailed.

Though the contents are embargoed until Tuesday, the text has leaked like a sieve. It used to be that embargoes were sacrosanct, but that hasn’t been the case for years. Everyone’s a tattletale these days.

DACA Delayed: Compounding Trump’s apoplexy, the Supremes aren’t letting him deport the Dreamers. Someone get the poor man some Pepto Bismol.

There is great public sympathy for these innocents and there should be. They were brought here by their parents with no say in the matter and, as required by the DACA rules, have lived here peacefully and productively ever since. This is their country and to deport them would defy justice and common sense. Trump is just exploiting these innocents to play to his xenophobic base.

The Supreme Court’s integrity is teetering on the edge of ruin and disgrace. Chief Justice Roberts seems to understand this, and so, as with his majority vote to save Obamacare, he concocted a convoluted, narrow legal rationale to save the Dreamers, at least temporarily.

Roberts is right that the Dreamers, and immigration broadly, should be handled by Congress, but also as with Obamacare, Congress has failed to meet this responsibility for as long as I can remember. But you don’t hear me saying Defund Congress. You hear me saying get off your ass and do your job.

Juneteenth: I have never heard this word spoken anywhere other than Texas, where I lived half of my life, but it has been on everyone’s lips the last week or so. Maybe we have reached a real awareness tipping point.

Trump in Tulsa: By all accounts, except those of Trump’s minions, the rally was a bust. The 19,000-seat stadium, which Trump predicted would be overflowing, was less than half full, according to the fire marshal. This has got to be mortifying to Trump and terrifying to his campaign staff. It couldn’t happen to nicer guys.

Looking for a scapegoat, Trump is blaming the media, among others. If the media had a hand in this, and I think they did, I say “Way to go, guys. You did the public a service by publishing information and letting people decide, which caused the vast majority of the Trump supporters in Tulsa to stay safe at home.”

Trump’s followers may not be as stupid as they act sometimes. They may vote for him, but they aren’t all ready to risk dying for him. (Note: those 6,200 hundred who did show up, most without masks, are as stupid as they acted.)

I’m thinking the steam may have gone out of the rally game. I’m taking the under on how many of these will occur for a while. (They may be stuck with the one scheduled in Yuma this week.)

The oddest comment Trump made at the rally, which is really saying something, was his admission that he directed his sycophants to “slow testing down” because more testing increases the number of positive cases. No, it doesn’t. Whether people are tested or not, the number of cases is still the same.

But wouldn’t we want to know what we are dealing with so we can address it intelligently? Don’t answer that; it’s a rhetorical question. This is determined, willful ignorance of the worst kind for the worst reason, which we can always expect from Trump.

Trump Fires Berman. No, he didn’t. Yes, he did: Trump fired U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey German for investigating his buddies. Let’s be clear: the president has the authority to fire Berman, though he seemed to try to hang the bushwhacking on AG Barr (Barr is finding out what being loyal to Trump gets you).

But the takeaway from this is not that Trump is corrupt. We already know that. The lesson to be learned is that we should avoid electing a pig part to the presidency.

Worst state: Oklahoma wins by a landslide this week for reasons too obvious to go into again. One minor but delicious reason Oklahoma is so deserving bears mention. Oklahoma State University head football coach Mike Gundy has been caught in, let’s just say, a racially insensitive situation.

This being Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State University, Gundy will probably survive this racist gaff, but I expect his recruiting is going to take a hit. Can you imagine a lot of mothers of talented black football playing sons urging them to go to OSU any time soon? This will be good for my beloved University of Oklahoma Sooners’ recruiting, I think.

Arizona, my own personal state of residence, however, did come in a respectable second for worst state, because Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb tested positive for Covid-19 ahead of a planned meeting with President Trump in D.C. (You will be shocked, shocked, to learn that he wasn’t allowed to attend the meeting.)

Lamb said he likely contracted the virus at a rally for his own campaign. How perfect.

Lamb said in May that he wouldn’t enforce the state’s mask requirement, and even after returning from D.C. and being contagious, says he doesn’t plan to wear a mask. Even perfecter. What a moron.

Thoughts on Events the Week of June 8

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on June 17, 2020

Defund the Police: What utter nonsense. Civilized society requires police. That said, I am old enough to remember when we used to refer to the police as peace officers, whose job it was to “keep the peace,” not to assault peaceful American citizens and shoot minority ones. No, we shouldn’t defund police, but retrain and restrain them to do the job they are meant to do.

Knee jerk liberals (liberals who have never taken an economics course) have a gift for making stupid statements like this, which leave them open to ridicule for lacking common sense. Who can respect people whose thinking is that fuzzy?

Ever since “Defund the police” was spoken, liberals have been writing long pieces – none of which fit on a bumper sticker – attempting to explain what the phrase really means. Meanwhile, Republicans have a simple, three-word phrase, clear as a button hook in the well water, to hang around Democrats’ necks in political commercials.

There are countless ways policing should be reformed, but abolishing the police is not one of them. The first step, in my view, is to differentiate in training, rules of engagement and the law, to differentiate between serious crimes and mundane ones. Potentially lethal physical force should never be used in addressing minor offenses under any circumstances.

The idea of shooting and possibly killing a suspect who is running away from a petty crime is obscene on its face. It turns a minor crime into a capital one and the police vicious vigilantes. Using a firearm in such circumstances should be flat out against the law. If you can’t catch them without shooting them, let them go. Why would traffic cops be carrying weapons anyway?  (If fewer cops carried weapons, perhaps we could begin rethinking why citizens are allowed to carry them around.)

And why are police swaggering around in military gear and riding in military assault vehicles? It distorts their understanding of their mission. Turn that stuff back to the Army. I’d would like to see local SWAT teams eliminated, and a few groups of specially trained officers deployed to hot spots as necessary (like forest fire fighters), rather than having every swinging dick of a police force armed to the teeth. By definition, the quality of these local SWAT teams must be uneven.

Shuffling off in Buffalo: After two officers of the city’s Emergency Response team were suspended for shoving an unarmed, 75 year old protester to the ground and injuring him severely, all 57 of the remaining officers on the team resigned in support of the two miscreant officers.

I’m perfectly OK with these resignations. These people don’t belong on a police force. (And why the hell does Buffalo need such a paramilitary force anyway?) Sadly, these 57 officers resigned from the team but not the police force. They are still around when they should be shown the door. They are emblematic of the problem with current policing.

And these 57 officers are not alone. Officers all over the country are protesting for not being allowed to shoot unarmed minority members whenever they feel like it. Get rid of them all, hire some new ones and train them differently.

Jobs Report: Let me get this straight. Since Covid-19 struck the U.S., 42 million Americans have lost their jobs and filed for unemployment. But the unexpected addition of 2.5 million jobs in May, lowering the unemployment rate from 14.7% down to 13.3% (a suspect number), is being hailed by the Trump administration as great news. According to my math, 42 million less 2.5 million means 39.5 million workers are still out of work. I don’t think I would be bragging about that, though perhaps the Fed should be bragging about what it has done for the stock market. Ordinary citizens, not as much.

The stock market is giddy about this. It is roaring back up in a fit of optimism one writer for Business Insider characterized as “a perfect storm of stupid.”

Worst state: I don’t know. The worst states were all acting pretty stupidly last week, turning everyone loose to infect one another. I can’t decide which is worse, but I’m fairly sure which state is going to win this week. Hint: Tulsa.

Thoughts on Events the Week of June 1

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on June 8, 2020

Is George Floyd’s Death Different? My totally wired daughter is a visual learner. (She hated to read until she picked up her first play.) She says, “If there isn’t a picture, it didn’t happen.” She has a point. The pictures of Floyd’s murder show unequivocally that something shocking and terrible happened.

But there have been pictures of other murders of black men, and women, and girls, and boys (the killing of nine year old Timor Rice looked to me as nothing but a drive by shooting by police) equally vivid and equally shocking that have not evoked the response as has Floyd’s murder.

I think it is not the images of this particular murder, egregious as it was, that has triggered this exceptional outrage. Rather, I think it is the cumulative effect of image after image of such killings, and the cumulative effect of President Trump’s constant stream of support for, and outright advocacy of, white supremacists, that finally caused millions of people (Republican politicians excepted) to say “Enough.” The picture is clear and irrefutable.   

But as impressive and poignant as the demonstrations about Floyd are, let’s not delude ourselves that the response will be enough to eliminate racism. The only solution for that is education, and we are extremely slow learners on this subject. 

We cannot end racism in a day, or apparently in a century or more. Trump, a despicable racist in his own right, has exposed how deeply it is ingrained in our culture (I was so naïve about this). He has embraced racism in broad daylight. Perhaps Floyd’s sacrifice can result at least in sweeping it back under the refrigerator with the other cock roaches, where it belongs.

It’s official. Trump is the worst president since the Civil War: I’ve never been afraid of the Trump presidency, only disgusted, offended and depressed by it, until now. But he has begun playing fast and loose with the military’s role in our society and that is truly dangerous.

Trump fantasizes that he was elected military dictator rather than president, and the other night his administration acted out this fantasy by ordering police to attack peaceful protestors. Attorney General Barr, who enables Trump’s in his unconstitutional fantasies, is reported to have given the order to disperse the protestors. Spoiler Alert: When police appear without insignia or name tags, they are preparing to commit a crime, and they know it. This is exactly the force Barr employed.

The members of the Trump administration, including Trump himself, and Barr, are now pointing fingers at one another, trying to distance themselves from the unconstitutional act and looking for someone else to blame, because even they realize how bad it looks. They all deny giving the order to attack. No one was driving; they were all in the back seat singing. At this writing, they are blaming the Park Service, because Lafayette Park is a, you know, park. Quite a stretch. Next it may be the Sanitation Department or Dr. Fauci.

You see the difference, don’t you? It is important to differentiate between the protesters and the looters. Likewise, it is important to differentiate between the good cops and the rotten apples. And it is especially important to remember that in each of these cases, the formers far outnumber the latters.

That said, police need a different kind of training than they are getting today. And they need to send back to the Pentagon the military hardware they are being given in a mistaken belief they are needed to police American citizens. I’ll have more on this soon.

Hong Kong: China is using this time and situation to take over Hong Kong. When Britain surrendered Hong Kong to China via treaty in 1997, no rational mind doubted that, regardless of the language in the treaty, China would eventually subsume Hong Kong. The idea of one country, two systems was untenable. The only question was when this would happen.

Well, the answer is now for two reasons. First, Covid-19 provides a distraction. The second reason is to give Trump a thumb in the eye. The hypocrisy of Trump’s lambasting China for strong arming Hong Kong while sending in troops against his own citizens is a gift to China.

When China, Russia and Iran are all gloating over the pickle we are in, it’s a pretty good indication our leadership has screwed up royally, which it has.

Worst state:  I am pleased to award the cup this week to Arizona, my own personal state of residence, because our governor Ducey (rhymes with goosey) has ordered a state-wide curfew. There was some vandalism in Phoenix that needed to be brought under control, but there are numerous small cities, towns and villages in Arizona, not to mention individual hogans and teepees, where there have been few protests, no violence, and where people go to bed before 8 pm anyway. What a putz is our governor.