peripateticblogger.com

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.

Thoughts on Events the Week of Febrary 26

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on March 7, 2017

It was all Trump all week. Ponzi Don doesn’t just take up all the air. He is the air. Only, it’s like the air in Beijing: toxic, eye watering and impossible to avoid.

President Donald J. Trump’s Report Card:  Ponzi Don read a written speech to a joint session of Congress. In a self-assessment of his performance to date, he gave himself an A for Achievement and a C for Messaging. I give him an A for Messaging, an A for Consistency – his latest speech included the same disgusting themes as all his previous ones – and for Achievement, an Incomplete.

Among Ponzi’s achievements, the only two that stand out are approving two pipelines, one of which the Obama administration had also approved, and rounding up illegal immigrants with criminal records, something the Obama administration was doing so aggressively that they were criticized for it.

The change to Ponzi’s immigration order, and it is a vile one, is that he expanded the net, with the result many long time, hard-working, tax paying de facto residents (at least some of whom are parents of American citizens and Dreamers, are being deported and torn from their families. Heartless.

Ponzi’s other “achievements” have been embarrassments (political appointment firings, refusals and withdrawals), stayed (Muslim ban), aspirational only (tweets and letters of intent to do something in the future), and misdeeds (everything having to do with Russia and just about everything else).

So far, Ponzi has achieved very little, other than to learn that he shares power with the Judicial Branch. Someday, perhaps, he will learn about sharing power with the Legislative Branch, which is where actual governing occurs, and which he will find to be much more challenging. I will be interested to see how Ponzi grades himself, and how the voters grade him after he begins the actual work of governing.

Speaking of Failures: The Yemen misadventure certainly qualifies. No objective of importance was accomplished, an American soldier and a number of civilians were killed and a $75 million dollar plane was lost, i.e. a complete mission failure, for which Ponzi Don blames Obama and the “military.”

Sorry, Ponzi, it doesn’t work that way for you anymore, as I warned you in a recent blog. The mission occurred on your watch. You gave the Go order. This was your call, your responsibility and your failure. How does it feel to have the blood of an American soldier on your hands, you sociopath?

And I don’t think the “military” is going to appreciate your blaming them for a failed mission you OK’d over dinner without benefit of sufficient input.

And don’t think you can duck responsibility by passing future mission responsibility to the military without your Go order. In fact, I hope, and rather expect, that after the Yemen fiasco, they will refuse to undertake any mission without your express, written orders. Orders are sort of like the contracts and leases you sign and break, only non-negotiable.

Wake up and smell the responsibility, you narcissist.

Healthcare is hard. Who knew?: Ponzi Don said, in public, on tape, when discussing the “repeal and replacement” of Obamacare, that “Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.” As Stephen Colbert understated with a wry smile, “Some people knew.” In fact, everybody knew except, apparently, Ponzi.

And for my next acting out: Ponzi Don ended the week, perhaps thinking he is still campaigning and can say anything with impunity, claimed that President Barak Obama had wiretapped his phone in Trump Tower during the campaign. If this is untrue, which it is, Trump has libeled the former president. The statement is untrue. Trump knows it to be untrue, or made no reasonable effort to confirm it (falling back on a story n Breitbart news doesn’t count), plus Obama is no longer a public figure in the legal sense.

It’s doubtful that Obama, an actual serious grown up, will sue Ponzi for libel, even though many before him have done so successfully….Except that, if he should win, Obama might be able to  force Ponzi’s tax records into the public with which to establish damages. I’m sure sayin’.

Sudden Thought: I heard a medical professional characterize Ponzi Don as a “paranoid, sociopathic narcissist,” and it sounded about right.

The Oscars: Apparently, the Trump presidency’s incompetence has infected PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

February: We ran flat out of this month. It was in relatively short supply anyway, so we had to move on to March. It has been a wet, cold winter here in the high desert. We should have a very lush spring.

Status of the States: The worst state cup cannot be retired by winning it three weeks in a row, which is fortunate, because the antics of Alabama’s favorite son, Jefferson Beauregard “Segregationist” Sessions III have won Alabama the trophy yet again.

Sessions lied to a Senate committee about connections with Russians (are you starting to see a trend here?), and may have perjured himself in the process. Since he may become a target of an investigation about Russian connections, even he agrees he must recuse himself from the investigation. Good thinking, Beauregard.

As I understand it, after people testify before a Senate committee, they are given a written transcript of their testimony and an opportunity to correct or re-consider answers. Beauregard had the chance to undo his lies and didn’t.

Question: What is the difference between Benghazi and Russia?

Answer: Evidence.

That Ponzi! You’ve got to love this about the guy: he surrounds himself with such smarmy miscreants, whose misdeeds, and just disgusting behavior, tie up the news to the point Ponzi can’t get anything done. Since everything Ponzi Don wants to do I oppose, except for the fact we have so many unfit people at the top of our government, I find this both fortunate, even delicious.

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

Thoughts on Events the Week of February 20

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on February 27, 2017

National Security: President Donald J. Trump rails constantly about the great dangers threatening us and assures us that he is the only one who can keep us safe. This is a canard. First, he grossly overstates the level of our security risk, which is, objectively, quite small. Second, he deliberately misidentifies who our true security threats are, to stir up fear, apprehension and xenophobia.

Enemy of the People: I am not a fan of the American press these days, but it turns out that Ponzi Don’s calling the press the “enemy of the American people” may be Ponzi’s biggest and worst lie. His accusations of “fake news,” which are lies and he knows it, are unhelpful to our democracy.  This so called enemy of the American people is the best friend the American people have these days.

For the record, I know of only two reporters, at least in this country, ever exposed for creating genuinely fake news in a credible, mainstream news organization – Stephen Glass for The New Republic and Jason Blair for The New York Times.

Both reporters were fired on the spot when they were discovered, both events were considered serious scandals, and both publications suffered shame, embarrassment and personnel upheaval for letting it happen.

The scandal so impacted the discredited reporters’ lives that Glass, having gone to law school after he was fired from TNR, withdrew his application to the New York Bar because he knew he would not be accepted based on his journalistic malfeasance. He is now a paralegal. Blair is a personal life coach, whatever the hell that is.

Both of these odious transgressions occurred in the early 2000s, evidence that reputable reporters faking the news are about as rare as voter frauds. If reporters are faking news today, there would be a much larger squawk about it, and more people would be screaming about it than just Ponzi Don.

Apocalypse: The president’s senior strategist – Steve Bannon – is said to have an apocalyptic worldview. I know two things about apocalypse: those who predict it always try to make it a self-fulfilling prophecy, as Bannon is clearly doing with his advice to Ponzi Don, and yet the apocalypse never happens.

Nature may visit an apocalypse on humans one day, but humans are too puny to completely obliterate ourselves. Nature has already and often done more damage to Earth than what we might be capable of. But, remember this about Nature. Short of a cosmic demise, Nature is determined that life survive on Earth, but indifferent as to what species.

Human Resources: Pundits fret about the personnel shortage in the Executive Branch. In broad numbers, there are more than 500 senior positions that require Senate confirmation, and so far, only a few more than a dozen have been confirmed. Ponzi Don isn’t concerned about this, I believe, because he doesn’t intend to listen to any of them anyway. Remember his smart brain?

Darrell Issa: The Republican U.S. Representative from the 49th District of California stunned me when he called for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from investigating the possible connections between Russia and the Trump administration, and to appoint a special prosecutor.

Issa is a very conservative representative from a very conservative district. Until now, he has never done a single thing with which I agree, and many things I abhor. I won’t second guess his motives, which probably have something to do with his constituents being no fans of Russia. I’ll just say Bravo, Representative Issa.

Sudden Thoughts: “Clothes” is the only plural noun I can think of right off hand that doesn’t have a singular. Cloth is not clothing, clothe is a verb. Clothing is also plural, unless you say “piece of clothing, in which case you are not using the word clothes. Can you think of another?

Also, “Negative Impact” is a double negative if you use the word “impact” correctly.

Status of the States: Alabama gets the cup for the second week in a row, because its smarmy erstwhile Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions refused to recuse himself from investigating possible contacts between Russia and the Trump campaign, even though he was a member of the campaign team at the time (see Darrell Issa, above). What a slime ball!

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

Thoughts on Events the Week of Fabruary 13

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on February 19, 2017

National Security – Mike Flynn’s short and ignominious NSA career ended after just 24 days, when it came out that he cahooted with Russia. Today, President Donald J. Trump praised Flynn and said his demise (Flynn’s, not his own) was due to the dishonest media. (Does this mean that if Flynn had lasted a month, Ponzi Don would have given him a gold watch?)

The burning question in Washington now is the infamous, “What did the president know, and when did he know it?” I don’t believe for a minute that Vice President Pence didn’t know about this, I don’t believe Flynn did it without Ponzi’s knowing it, and if Pence didn’t know, it was because Ponzi didn’t tell him.

Meanwhile, Ponzi Don, self-proclaimed sole protector of our national security, while dining at his resort in Florida, received a document informing him that North Korea had launched a mid-range ballistic missile. Coincidentally, but fortunately, Ponzi Don was dining with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe at the time, who has responsibility for national security in his own country, so they were able to discuss the North Korean provocation on the spot.

There were a number of other diners in the room who were also interested in the document, though not responsible for national security, nor with the security clearance to view the document, for that matter. But, they did view it. They read it over Ponzi’s shoulder, used their smart phones’ flashlight function to get a better view, possibly took a picture of it, and listened to Abe and Ponzi discuss what to do about it. Bottom line, Ponzi basically shared the news with his customers and staff. (Does anyone doubt that some employee or employees at Mar-A-Lago are not on the payroll of some unfriendly government by now?)

These events beg a question, which has in my view a curious answer: Who was the greatest risk to our national security this week:

  1. Our erstwhile National Security Advisor
  2. The President of the United States
  3. Or, that “official” national security risk, Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos the 36 year old mother of two who has lived and worked in the U.S. for 22 years since being brought here at age 14, and was deported to Mexico from Arizona?

Meanwhile, Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who was forced to call for an investigation of Ponzi’s advisor Kellyanne Conway, since she violated ethics laws publicly on cable network TV, returned to his day job of covering up for Ponzi by insisting that no further investigation of Flynn is necessary, and refusing to begin one. How many committees investigated Hillary Clinton regarding Benghazi and her emails?

Drip, drip, drip: Ponzi Don is furious about leaks coming from almost everywhere in his administration, and has set some clueless boob to find out who is leaking. Ponzi, there’s an easy way to stop leaks: stop doing bad shit.

Oy vey! The most remarkable thing that happened last week is that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came to visit the White House, and because of all the news about chaos and scandals, hardly anyone noticed.

This was particularly odd, because in an off the shoulder remark at a joint appearance before the press with Netanyahu, Ponzi Don endorsed a one state solution to the Palestinian problem, overturning decades of American and U.N. policy, and causing Bibi to ejaculate spontaneously on stage.

What have you done for us lately?: Ponzi, I watched highlights of your 77 minute press conference. You need to know this good news: you won the election, you were inaugurated, so you are the President. I’m surprised you didn’t know that. It was in all the papers. You can stop campaigning now. You can stop smearing your opponent. You have no opponent. You won! One small piece of advice, though: people will tire soon of hearing that you won, particularly from you. Everyone already knows that.

The popular vote, the margin of victory in the Electoral College, what mean things you said about the press and about your opponents, and mean things they said about you, are no longer relevant. The only thing relevant now is what you do going forward.  You need to start getting something done. If you do, perhaps the press will say something nice about you, courts will stop blocking you, and people will stop protesting, depending, of course, on what you do. Going forward, everything is your responsibility, good or bad. You can’t keep blaming somebody else. You are where the buck stops.

Groundhog’s Day?: After an interminable, vulgar election, I turn on the  television and see Ponzi Don campaigning again, and lots of political advertising. People favoring or opposed to this or that legislation; people for or against nominees for Supreme Court Justice or other official requiring senate approval. Didn’t we just wake up from this nightmare? Are we going to have to go through it all again? Spare me.

Status of the States: The inner sexist in me has observed women in tight driving situations, look straight ahead and leave it to the other driver to deal with the problem. This may cause an accident, but if they are not involved, they just drive on and don’t think about it. (Many accidents occur when two of these ladies meet at an intersection.)

My baby sister lives in Kansas, where, she says, all of her girlfriends voted for Ponzi Don. When she asks them why, they say they just don’t think about politics much.

Kansas gets the cup this week, based on its voters’ look-straight-ahead-and-don’t-think-about-it brand of citizenship.

I can’t wait until the end of the first quarter of 2017 to make this change. After watching the smarmy and corrupt way in which Alabama replaced its smarmy Senator Sessions, I am kicking Mississippi off the worst state list and putting Alabama on in its place. They’ve earned it.

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

Thoughts on Events the Week of February 6

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on February 12, 2017

The United States Senate: disgraced itself – which has become de rigueur these days – when it censured and silenced Senator Elizabeth Warren for reading a 1986 letter from Coretta Scott King about then U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, a nominee for a federal judgeship. King’s letter was in opposition to Sessions’ appointment, which was, in fact, rejected by the Senate on the grounds that he had used his authority to abuse the rights of black voters. He was a bigot. (I doubt that in 1986, one could become a U.S. Attorney for any district of Alabama without being a bigot.)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell invoked Senate rule XIX, which forbids Senators to say nasty things about another Senator, because it might hurt their feelings. Warren responded that it was terrible that she couldn’t read a letter from such an icon as Mrs. King. Both of these positions miss the point.

When Senator Warren spoke in objection to Sessions’ appointment, she was not talking about a Senator. She was talking about a nominee to become Attorney General, a completely different thing. Sessions was, in fact, a Senator, loathsome as he was at it, but he should have been exposed to the same “advice and consent” process as any other nominee. Sessions is unqualified to be Attorney General, but he was confirmed.

Again, ladies, I hold you responsible for where we are today. As Warren was treated, the entire Republican Party leadership, legislators, and particularly President Donald J. Trump treat you all the time. They demean, disparage, dismiss and at times abuse you, and yet you still vote for them. What the hell is wrong with you?

Speaking of the Ladies: Kellyanne Conway got busted for shilling Ivanka Trump’s apparel line on network TV. Her doing so is a patent violation of the ethical rules.

Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, must be choking on his own liver this week. Anticipating a Clinton victory, Chaffetz had planned a series of investigations to disrupt her presidency. Suddenly, his job turned 180 degrees from one of attacking Clinton to covering up for President Donald J. Trump and his administration.

He had to begin with Conway’s violation, so egregious and so public that it couldn’t be ignored. He and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), ranking member of the Committee, wrote a joint letter to Office of Government Ethics Director Walter Shaub that said Conway’s comments “raised extremely serious concerns.” This must have been galling to Chaffetz.

It’s OK to harangue Ponzi Don’s miscreant minions about ethics violations. It’s fun and richly deserved. Ponzi Don’s administration violates ethics rules every day. But don’t lose focus on the criminal acts, which are happening almost as frequently. These have the potential for more serious disruption and punishment.

Speaking of Criminal Acts: Newly appointed National Security Adviser Michael Flynn conducted official business with Russia as a private citizen, and some pretty nefarious business at that. This means, without putting too fine a point on it, he broke the law! So, channeling The Blues Brothers, he is both kinds of bad: ethical and criminal.

Besides being a lawbreaker, disqualifying on its face, do we really want a National Security Advisor stupid enough to think that his conversations with a Russian ambassador wouldn’t be monitored? Is he really that stupid? How stupid does he think we are? And, if you think that others in Ponzi Don’s administration didn’t know what Flynn was doing, you are that stupid.

Ponzi Don’s own priorities in week three: The president spent most of the week saying his daughter is a sweetheart, the judiciary is corrupt, that he knew nothing about any of the other shit, and he went to Florida to hold hands with Japan…for 19 seconds.

Status of the States: After a long drought, Arizona, my own personal state, gets the cup this week. In a brave act to keep America safe, our Phoenix office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested and deported to Mexico, one Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, 36, who came to our country at the age of 14, married here, has a husband and two children who are American citizens, and has been working and paying taxes here for 22 years. What a security risk!

Rayos was convicted of making up a false social security number so she could work here, a very common practice. For this, she was required to report to ICE, which, criminal threat that she is, she did regularly. This time, however, she was arrested and deported.

Please explain to me, and to other rational human beings, how deporting such a person furthers our national security. Note: ICE says Ponzi Don had nothing to do with this decision. Sorry, Ponzi, but what happens on your watch is your fault. That said, shame on us all.

Coming Attractions: My thoughts on the Obama presidency, and thoughts on our divided nation. Spoiler alert: we’re not.

Thoughts on Events the Week of January 30

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on February 8, 2017

We may be screwed: Someone should inform the White House that there are three co-equal branches of government, not just one. I’m sure President Donald J. Trump would resent being referred to as that “so called” president. If this Muslim ban gets through our judicial system unscathed, our system of checks and balances will be in deep authoritarian doo doo.

Call it a draw: Historically, presidents get to take credit for everything that happens on their watch, and the blame for everything that goes wrong, in both cases whether they may deserve it or not. In Ponzi Don’s second week in office, we had a disastrous military misadventure in Yemen, and a good jobs and unemployment report. Some 227,000 new jobs were created, and the unemployment rate was an excellent 4.8%. This is one tenth higher than the previous month, but only because more people are returning to the workforce, which is a good thing.

Ponzi Don tried to take credit for the good jobs report, even though the sampling was taken before he was sworn in. Likewise, he tried to blame the Obama administration for the military snafu, which the Obama administration was considering, but ultimately did not execute. Sorry, Ponzi, but you can’t have it both ways. I call it a push, at best. Let’s start keeping serious score as of February 1.

My prognosis is that the economy will likely stay on its current path of slow but steady growth, and that unemployment will remain about where it is. It’s very hard to get below 5% unemployment, certainly not without stimulating inflation. And, since our economy is so large, growth as a percentage will be lower than smaller economies, by mathematical law. Ponzi will be hard pressed to improve it, especially in a slow growth global economy. Ponzi has been left with an economy so improved during Obama’s administration that Ponzi has much less upside potential than downside risk.

To be fair, Ponzi has advocated for a large economic stimulus package of infrastructure investment and maintenance. This idea has some merit, but much less today than it did when Obama was begging for it during his first term, when it could have been more helpful at lower cost.

Ponzi Don’s own priorities in week two: Ponzi Don wrote an executive order repealing the conflict of interest rule that requires financial planners to put the interest of their clients first. Why this rule had to be enacted in the first place is telling. You would think that looking out for the clients’ financial interests would be the whole point of having a financial planner. But this has not always been the case, apparently, costing clients who are trying to save for retirement billions of dollars in undisclosed fees, etc. With Ponzi Don’s revocation of this rule, financial planners are able to return steering clients to investments most favorable to themselves and not the client’s. Not exactly a populist move.

After attacking big banks viciously during his campaign and raging how they were screwing their customers and that he was going to put a stop to it by bringing back Glass-Steagal, the erstwhile legislation that required banks to separate their banking services and investment services, so banks  couldn’t speculate using customers’ money, Ponzi is doing just the opposite. He issued executive orders that undermine the Dodd-Frank bill, which was enacted after the financial crash in 2008 to rein in banks. To quote Ponzi Don today, “Dodd-Frank is a disaster. We’re going to be doing a big number on Dodd-Frank.” So, now that he is in office, Ponzi Don is turning on his own base in favor of large banks, his rich friends and himself.

The only surprising thing about this is that his base was gullible enough to believe his lies. Ponzi looks our only for number one. Sorry, base, but after Ponzi Don was elected and began appointing big bankers from Goldman-Sachs to multiple cabinet posts, including Secretary of the Treasury, it was too late to do anything about it. Hillary Clinton tried to tell you. Now, bend over and kiss your vote and your money goodbye.

The Supremes: After the Senate flouted its Constitutional responsibility to advise and consent on Barak Obama’s Supreme Court nominee – the most odious disrespect to the Constitution since Watergate, and arguably worse, since it involved an entire branch of government and not a few rotten apples – Ponzi Don has named his own Supreme Court nominee, albeit in a botched and crass announcement: Neil Gorsuch, a justice currently sitting on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Gorsuch’s judicial philosophy is said to be similar to that of the late Antonin Scalia, who Gorsuch, if confirmed, will be replacing, not what voters were expecting when they elected Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton.

The Supreme Court is supposed to be impartial in its interpretation of the Constitution and above politics. Though never completely the case, impartiality went out the window after the 2000 election when it intervened in the election of George W. Bush (and we all know how that worked out). Today, the Supreme Court has been reduced to just another playing field for partisan politics, and it remains to be seen if it will ever quite recover its trust and prestige.

Nevertheless, my attitude about Supreme Court Justices is about the same as with other presidential appointments, which is that a President should get the people he wants, within reason. Gorsuch is clearly qualified, so, other than despising how he got to be nominated, and that he seems light years to the right of me, I can’t oppose him, and I don’t think Democratic Senators should either.

(I do oppose two sitting Justices on grounds of incompetence and unfitness – Clarence Thomas, who shouldn’t be near any court bench, and Samuel Alito, who simply isn’t up to the standard of the rest of the Justices.)

With the appointment of Gorsuch, the Court will be about what it was when Scalia was alive, which is not a stellar status quo ante. However, if one of the more liberal Justices vacates and Ponzi tries to replace him with a Gorsuch, I would raise holy hell. Things are too far out of joint already. If Democrats accept Gorsuch, it will be much more difficult to use the “nuclear option” to support another nominee. That said, blatant disregard for rules and fairness are Mitch McConnell’s defining characteristics.

Media: Apparently ashamed of their utter lack of professionalism throughout the election, some reporters are taking a more aggressive approach to calling out the blatant lies of administration personnel, and calling them out on the spot as the lies are being told. I am glad to see this rushing to close the barn door they left open so irresponsibly, but the horse’s ass is already out of the barn, Media, and shitting on the White House lawn, metaphorically speaking.

Football: Except for Super Bowl games involving the Dallas Cowboys, this was the most enjoyable one I have ever watched. It was a great game, the commercials were good overall, and I even enjoyed the halftime show.

My beloved Oklahoma Sooners signed an excellent recruiting class. Experts rate it eighth best in the country. In my experience, however, how your class is ranked is a lot less important than how it is coached and developed. We’ll see.

Status of the States: I’m suspending judgement for a while about which state is the best or the worst until we see a little more from Ponzi Don and observe the reaction to it. Note: even at the Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport, there was huge protest demonstration and welcome to incoming refugees.

Coming Attractions: My thoughts on the Obama presidency, and thoughts on our divided nation. Spoiler alert: we’re not.

Thouoghts on Events the week of January 23

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on January 30, 2017

Kick-off: Odd and interesting was the first week of the Donald J. Trump presidency. Ponzi Don’s minions did many things I expected, and many things happened that I did not expect. Overall, the unexpected things were more interesting and reassuring.

As promised, the administration issued a plethora of executive orders on day one rescinding as many of the executive orders of President Obama. True to his campaign promises, orders were issued attacking Obamacare, Mexico, immigrants, regulations, dissemination of public information, Muslims and, somewhat surprisingly, jobs, as he put a hiring freeze on federal departments. So swift was the pushback on this last one, in particular by veterans dependent on the VA for healthcare, that it was essentially withdrawn in 24 hours.

Reading the orders, however, I get the impression most of these executive orders are more aspirational than directive. They seem like letters of intent more than orders. They seem to read something more like this, paraphrasing: “I intend to build a wall across the U.S. Mexican border and for Mexico to pay for it.” As we say in Texas, this is a long way from a deal.

This one had some immediate consequences also. Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto, who was scheduled to meet Ponzi Don in Washington this week, reiterated that Mexico has no intention of paying for a wall, and if that is what Ponzi Don wants to talk about, there is nothing to discuss. He canceled his trip, making Ponzi Don look not quite like the deal maker he claims to be.

There was a lot of immediate pushback at home too, including from states bordering Mexico. It’s difficult to imagine Congress coughing up $15 to $18 billion for this project, especially since any fool can see it will cost a lot more than that to build a 1,200 mile wall. Just ask China.

On the last day of its first week, the administration issued a broad travel ban on Muslims (but not Christians) coming to America from Middle Eastern and African countries.  This one was put on hold by a federal judge literally before overnight.

My thoughts on the travel ban are not those of a lawyer, but this order seems to be not only stupid, counterproductive and un-American in spirit and policy, but also in violation of at least two and possibly three clauses of our Constitution, including the Emoluments clause, which I expect Ponzi Don will violate every day of his presidency.

Reaction was swift and emotional to this ban, beyond just in the courts. Huge crowds gathered at international airport terminals to welcome arrivals in an attempt to show incoming refugees that they are indeed welcome, no matter how big a putz the president is.

Maybe, just maybe, more Americans are beginning to realize how authoritarian and contrary to American traditions and values this administration plans to be.

Ponzi Don’s own priorities during week one: While his administration was running amok with short term executive orders and fending off protests and lawsuits, Ponzi Don was looking at the big picture, namely the size of his inauguration audience and his winning the popular vote. I didn’t hear him speak about much of anything else, including during his insensitive kiss and make up speech to the intelligence community.

To most of us, these are settled matters. Ponzi Don was elected president, he was inaugurated, let’s move on. But to Ponzi Don, an egomaniacal narcissist and a pathological liar, it was of paramount importance to claim that he had a bigger crowd at his inauguration than President Obama, and that he would have won the popular vote, if it hadn’t been for those three to five million people who voted illegally. He persisted with these assertions despite the visible falsehood of the first and the mathematical impossibility of the second. He obsessed on these issues, despite the fact that they have no effect on anything whatsoever, except on his warped personality.

Coming to his support on the crowd issue, top advisor to Ponzi Don, Kellyanne Conway, explained that Ponzi Don was merely introducing “alternative facts.” I’m sorry, Kellyanne, but there is no such thing as alternative facts. There can be alternative opinions, but not alternative facts. That phrase is a tool of authoritarian governments, and it’s just a big lie.

Perhaps the key advisor to Ponzi Don, Steve Bannon, came to his boss’ defense by telling the New York Times, and through it, the entire fourth estate that it is the opposition party, and to “sit down and shut up.” This was an utterly scandalous threat to the media by Bannon, who is ignorant of the First Amendment, or indifferent to it, which is even worse.

Bottom line: even if Ponzi Don’s administration is intent on pulling down pillars of our democracy around our heads like Samson, you’d think they would at least learn something about our government, and how it functions. I’m thinking Ponzi Don is in for a long series of rude shocks as he learns about the difference between being president and being a corporate CEO. Also, I think he is going to find that he only thinks he has a lot of experience with lawsuits; he’s going to be getting at least one or more daily throughout his presidency.

Sudden Thought: Specific policies aside, we must be the most risk averse, safety obsessed country on the map. By this I mean, of course, sissies, Chicken Littles and scaredy cats. Unless we feel 100% safe, an impossible expectation, we stampede like cattle in a thunderstorm. The fears that demagogues who shall remain nameless have exploited recently are as irrational as fears of witches in Salem, and equally valid. The sleep of reason brings forth monsters, and we’ve got one on our hands.

Status of the States: I’m suspending judgement for a while about which state is the best or the worst until we see a little more from Ponzi Don and observe the reaction to it. Note: even at the Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport, there was huge protest demonstration and welcome to incoming refugees.

Coming Attractions: My thoughts on the Obama presidency.

Thoughts on Events the Week of January 16, 2017

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on January 23, 2017

A Peaceful Transition of Power: On the 20th, Donald J. trump became the 45th president of the United States, in a ceremony in front of the Capitol Building. Excepting only a few protestors – understandable during the inauguration of our least popular president, I suppose – it was a peaceful transfer of the presidency, with four former presidents in attendance.

This kind of exchange is not unique globally, but not common either. Relatively few countries change their governments this peacefully or democratically. I hope we always appreciate how fortunate we are in this regard. The fact that we even guarantee speech to protesters is rare and special.

Many forms of government – monarchies, dictatorships, military coups, authoritarian regimes, Ayatollahs, etc.  – don’t work this way at all. Even some so called democratic states are no such thing. An “election” doesn’t necessarily equate to a democracy.

Words and Deeds:  Now that Ponzi Don has been sworn in, his words and deeds have weight and authority. We can judge him by them, and hold him accountable for them.

I didn’t watch his inauguration, but I have read highlights of the speech. It seemed much like his campaign speeches, a departure from traditional themes.

If I interpreted his thrust correctly, he played straight and true only to his populist base. He promised to throw out entrenched Washington elites and return government to the people, during which remarks he all but called the three former presidents on the stage with him “losers.” Not exactly a call for unity, but hey, consistent with his previous positions.

Ponzi Don promised to restore jobs lost to shuttered factories. This promise lends itself to quantifiable measurement, so we will be able to compare his words to results. I suspect, barring an enormous economic stimulation, that job growth is going to about it was during the second Obama term.

Ponzi Don promised such jobs program, and perhaps we’ll have one, but there are limits to what it can accomplish with unemployment at 4.7%. Those unemployed remaining, and those who may have dropped out of the labor force, most of whom have done so due to their age, are unlikely candidates for skilled construction work.

He also promised to stop “American carnage” in our cities. This one is more ambiguous. Did he mean he will get rid of the blacks or get rid of the guns? We’ll have to wait and see.

Finally, he stated two simple principles for his administration in four words: Buy American. Hire American. The relationship between these words and deed is also measurable, but it’s complicated. It’s also indicative of a very isolationist attitude, and represents goals that will be easier said than met, and perhaps contrary to our national interests.  I certainly think so. On the other hand, it is the same in-your-face foreign relations language he has been using before today. Again, that’s consistency.

The Cabinet: Ponzi Don’s nominations have all been made, and it figures that most if not all of them will be confirmed. I think retired General James “Mad Dog” Mattis, Ponzi Don’s Secretary of Defense choice, already has been confirmed. Mattis is a qualified individual, though ineligible by law, his being too soon retired from the military. A “waiver” was necessary to confirm Mattis, which was passed last week by the Senate (Sudden thought: If a law can be waived for a specific individual, is it really a law? Is a law made regarding a single individual even constitutional?)

The selection of this set of cabinet members poses two conundrums:

If Ponzi Don is intent on “draining the swamp” of establishment types and “elites,” and returning government to the people, how does his goal square with his nomination of nothing but Washington establishment types and elites? Nothing but Goldman Sachs alumni, billionaires, military generals and U.S. Congressional members. How much more establishment can you get?

I have an opinion about this one. I don’t think Ponzi Don has, or ever had, any intention of draining the swamp. He lives in the swamp! He is a poster boy for the swamp! The swamp has made him rich, and appears headed to make him richer on our backs. He is not about to change things in Washington that will impact his business, personal or tax advantages.  The remarkable thing is that so many voters were stupid enough not to see this on its face.

The second conundrum has to do with how Ponzi Don will work with his cabinet. I see two possibilities:

First, he will let his secretaries have free rein, and spend his time looking at the big picture (read traveling around, seeking adoration, telling us how great things are going to be and insulting people).

Second, we might see that he nominated these people without much thought because he doesn’t intend to listen to any of them anyway. He is going to run his own show, more or less alone, with occasional input from family members, equally insolated as himself.

The first of these possibilities, of course, has the disadvantage that most of his cabinet members are hostile to their departments and have no patience for, or understanding of, the thrust of history their departments represent. Some are simply unfit for their jobs. Let’s face it, former Texas Governor Rick Perry is embarrassingly unfit. You know it, I know it, everybody knows it. I submit also that most cabinet members are unlikely to do anything to help the working man, whose wealth they have been stealing since about 1980.

The problem with the second possibility is that Ponzi Don comes to the job singularly uninformed, and his decisions will be made absent much forethought. He knows what his base wants, and he is going to give it to them, thought they too are uninformed and misguided.

People have complained that there are no Latinos in the cabinet, but that misses the point. Look on the bright side: there are no Russian hookers in it either.

Pussy Power: The day after the inauguration, a large number of women participated in a “Women’s March on Washington” to protest the presidency of Donald J. Trump. Well, that’s sweet and all, ladies, but you’re a little late. The election is over. Women lost big time, which begs the questions: why didn’t more of you vote, and why did 53% of white women vote for Ponzi Don?

Sudden thought: From reading Ponzi Don’s remarks over the weekend, which were directed solely to his base, and the reaction of his base to them, it seems we are experiencing a unique confluence. Never has the been such a pathological liar as Ponzi Don and so many people eager to accept those lies at the same time and place.

Football:  The Super Bowl field is set. New England and Atlanta will face off, having dispatched their conference rivals pretty handily. The Super Bowl could be a good game this year.

These conference championship games evoke only one comment. In the first quarter of the Falcons – Packers game, Green Bays’ near perfect place kicker Crosby missed a 41 yard field goal wide right. This is the guy who made a 56 yarder and a 51 yarder to beat the Cowboys last week. I could hear Skip Bayless screaming from here.

So, my winter, spring and summer of discontent will now begin. There will be a few glorious summer football days until next season, such as the NCAA signing day for new college recruits and NFL draft, to name a few. As for the Super Bowl, if I don’t have a dog in the hunt, which has not been the case in a long time, I watch it for the commercials, and sometimes for the half time performance. Seeing Janet Jackson’s tit was just a brief, unexpected bonus.

Water: We are experiencing some heavy precipitation in the west, ameliorating the drought in several areas this winter. The ski basin near Flagstaff is up to its ass in snow. The Bradshaw Mountains are snow covered from one end of the range to the other. They are a beautiful sight.

Status of the States: Every worst state went for Ponzi Don during the election, so they all contributed equally to his victory. Paraphrasing Mercutio: a plague on all your states.

Coming Attractions: My thoughts on the Obama presidency.

Musings on 2016 – at least it is over

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on January 19, 2017

2016 was above all a pathetic, partisan political year. We were inundated with political news, opinion, and just plain junk. You couldn’t avoid it. It overwhelmed everything else of importance. The presidential campaign was low brow, crass, vulgar, specious and untruthful.

Below are musings, not a book review, but I begin with a nod to “The Populist Explosion: How the Great Recession Transformed Politics in America and Europe,” by John B. Judis. It is a primer on Populism and its history. Truly, 2016 was a year of Populist political ascendance. Beginning with Brexit – the decision by UK voters to leave the European Union – populist voters had a huge effect on governance last year, not least in the election of Donald J. Trump to be our President.

There is no single definition of Populism. There are different strains, some from the left (Sanders), some from the right (Trump). However, they have two common characteristics: 1) the common man against the elites, and 2) the desire to work within the governmental system, not destroy it (though I wonder about Ponzi Don’s advisor Steve Bannon.)

Right wing Populism has a third common aspect: it always includes “the other,” – Islam, immigrants, elites, minorities, the media, i.e. someone to blame for the alienation, frustrations and anxieties felt by populist voters.

In Europe in 2016, “the other” was immigrants from Eastern Europe via the EU covenant, and refugees pouring in from the chaotic Muslim Middle East and Africa. This is garden variety xenophobia.

I would not have expected this kind of Populism to have become so pervasive in America, since our culture is built on immigrants, but it has. Ponzi Don got his support by conjuring up fear of immigrants and/or Muslims. A lot of Americans were desperately in need of someone to blame, apparently. In their fear and anger, they completely ignored our culture of inclusiveness and our Constitutional guarantees.

Another “other,” it turned out, is women. Misogyny runs deeper and broader even than racism. I did not understand this until 2016.

Our democracy, estimable, though not perfect, and certainly perishable, came under suspicion, if not outright attack. Law and precedent became expendable in a year of hyper-partisanship. Facts were irrelevant. Lies, distortions, insults and slanders didn’t seem untoward.

By the end of the year, our institutions seemed all to be discredited, which is an opportunity for authoritarian challenges to democracy. To be sure, many of our institutions have been discrediting themselves. Our court system has become a political prize, our police are exposed by smart phones to include some prejudiced, violent officers, our intelligence services are corrupted, our media less than worthless, and our system of checks and balances is in tatters. The Supreme Court is hamstrung by the Legislative Branch, which has given up all pretense of meeting its Constitutional responsibilities. The Executive Branch is filling the vacuum as best it can, and at times exploiting it.

One discredited institution, due to its obstruction of the public will, is the Electoral College, an anti-democratic, dysfunctional glitch in our Constitution, designed in good faith to be a final check on popular mistakes, but which twice in the first 17 years of the 21st Century has given us two presidents who lost the popular vote, and both terrible mistakes from which it did not save us. The president is the one truly national elective office. It should be decided on the national majority vote.

Which brings me to a final institution that became discredited in 2016: the American voters, a large minority of whom failed to understand their own self-interest, or to consider the interests of the country, again.

Jefferson said that to be sustaining, a democracy require an educated electorate, and ours is failing. State governments subvert education by starving school budgets. State legislatures pressure school boards to create curriculum and purchase text books that bend history for political convenience.

Media compete for ratings, rather than news and information. They chase frivolous distractions, like kittens chase a flashlight beam on the floor. Everything is a “crisis,” so nothing is important.

Much “news” in 2016 was completely fabricated rather than reported. And voters were too stupid or too lazy, or too uninterested in citizenship to sort it out. In the most important and disturbing Election Day in my memory, more than half the voters slept in.

The most egregious failure of government was the refusal of the Senate to advise and consent on a Supreme court Justice to replace Antonin Scalia for eleven months, an absolute and deliberate abdication of its responsibility. I am not certain the Court, or the Senate will ever regain their reputations after this affront to our Constitution. It made me sick to see this happen.

Another institutional failure of our system was the FBI Director’s interference in the presidential campaign, which was worse than the damage done by the cyber-attack on our election by Russia. We don’t like Russia, so their antics didn’t affect people very much, I think, but we trust our FBI. (I mean generally; this does not include me: Google J. Edgar Hoover.)

We obsessed on Russia, which is now a lightweight country, and ignored or insulted China, which is infinitely more important to our future. To be fair, we’ve seen this before. Clinton bashed China until he entered the White House and learned better. Let’s hope Ponzi Don does the same, but it will require his learning something about China.

Meanwhile, Muslim countries on the Middle East and Northern Africa are a dog’s dinner and getting worse. As Steven Pinker observed, Islam is sitting out the global trend away from violence. Religious war rages there, a war that can only be settled by those directly involved. As with two mad dogs fighting, if you try to break them up, you will only get bitten. That is what we are doing and why Islamic terrorism occasionally erupts in the West. If we weren’t stepping in between the rival sects, they would concentrate on fighting each other and ignore us.

So, we end 2016 in pretty bad shape, and things don’t look promising in the near future. However, the United States as experienced the sleep of reason at other times – internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Committee come immediately to mind – and managed to get through them; we probably will get through this one too. Perhaps this period will go down in history as one ugly, but ultimately harmless mistake. But it is not a “slam dunk.”

I would be more sanguine about our near term prospects, however, if we hadn’t seen so recently how bad George W. Bush was able to screw things up in just a term or two, and he had some semblance of checks and balances. In our current cycle of hyper-partisanship, gridlock, obstructionism and spreading inequality, Asia is overtaking us. Fortunately, at present the competition is economic and technological, and that’s the good news.