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Thoughts on Events the Week of July 10

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on July 21, 2017

Obamacare: I intend to call Obamacare by its informal name unless and until it is repealed, even though I know it pisses off many of its critics just because it is named after a black man.

On the surface, this issue seemed static this week. No votes were taken, nothing seemed to move much. Beneath the surface, however, were two strong, conflicting undercurrents. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was trying feverishly to garner votes for the senate version*, while actual senators were getting an earful of criticism of it from actual voters.

It was President Lincoln who said, “Man clings to nothing so tightly as a bad deal.” It amazes me how so many Republicans cling to this plan to repeal and replace Obamacare with such a terrible, horrible, no good very bad bill, which is so stunningly unpopular.

Think of the iconic image of the snake bending itself into a circle and eating its own tail. The Republican base only hates Obamacare because its leaders told them Obamacare is a disaster (with a healthy dollop of racism thrown in), and that their leaders would replace it with something better. Now many of the base, leaders fear, will be angry with them for not repealing and replacing Obamacare since they – the leaders – promised to, and because they – the base – believe Obamacare is so bad because their leaders told them it is so bad for so long.

Republican leaders are in a pickle, and it couldn’t happen to nicer guys. They can’t deliver what they promised, and in the meantime, Obamacare has become more popular, and the idea of repealing it in the ways Republican leaders have proposed is almost universally unpopular. I haven’t seen even a smidgen of support for the Republican bill, even from Republican leaders. They are laying lower than Brer Fox, and wishing the whole thing would just go away somehow.

There is a way out for Republicans. Just admit that Obamacare, while imperfect, is now working reasonably well after eight years of experience and refinement, and it is now worth keeping, and then work with Democrats on improving it. This was, after all, originally a Republican idea, introduced by Republican Governor Romney in Massachusetts.

I’m waiting for some more Republican senators to break ranks. It hasn’t happened yet, but it seems inevitable. We’ll see.

*Can this really be true? Can McConnell, whose home state, Kentucky, may be benefitting more than any other from Obamacare, really want it overturned, or is he just posturing? If he is sincere, it is a monumental betrayal of his constituents.

Sudden Thought: Pundits, lawyers and crisis management counselors who are admonishing President Trump to “get everything out on the table” must assume he is innocent. How sweet.

Diary Entry: Cynthia and I spent the week in the Sierra Mountains near and inside Yosemite National Park. The primary reason for the trip was to attend a wedding reception for one of our darling daughters and her groom. (Actually, the groom has been around for so many years we already considered him our son-in-law, and the wedding occurred months ago at the courthouse, with few witnesses. Hence the need for a robust celebration with family and friends.)

The reception was everything we hoped and thought it would be. It was billed as le Gran Amore Soiree, and it was. Best of all, we got to see many family members and friends, some of whom we hadn’t seen in years, and among some of the younger ones, not since they were young children or babies.

On the side, we had a nice dinner with the groom’s delightful parents, an informal cocktail party with many of the happy couple’s closest friends, a day in Yosemite, and a day fishing. I scored a threesome – all three native trout species in the immediate region (brown, brook and rainbow), plus a rare hatchery rainbow.

Meanwhile, back home, the monsoon rains were frequent, and our garden is exploding.

Status of the States: Texas gets the worst state cup this week, due to the spectacularly exposed stupidity of its former governor, now Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry.

Perry condescendingly offered a reporter an “economics lesson” on the theory of supply and demand, and got it completely, 180 degrees backwards! Perry said, on camera, that supply creates demand. There hasn’t been anything so wrong since farmers in the dust bowl were assured that “rain follows the plow.”

Mind you, Perry was the most popular – based on years served – of any governor in Texas history. It speaks volumes about Texas that it elected this moron repeatedly.

Are we a Nation Divided and Polarized?

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on July 5, 2017

Are we a Nation Divided and Polarized?

(Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

The notion that we are divided is misunderstood. Like Siamese twins, we are bound together. We move forward or backward, happy or unhappy together.

We may be divided, in the sense that great numbers of us have very different opinions on many important issues. We may think the people holding differing opinions from us are misguided or even barking mad, but there is nothing in the Constitution that says how our opinions must be distributed.

I will tell you what we are, though. We are extremely unequal, and both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution have a great deal to say about that.

There is great inequality in our wealth and income, and it has been getting much worse since about 1980. When eight people in American possess as much wealth as the bottom 50% of our entire population, it takes no brilliant economist or social scientist to see that something is seriously, seriously wrong. We are very near the point when history suggests countries are likely to experience revolution or collapse.

According to Thomas Piketty, the world’s foremost authority on wealth and income, the best long-term solution to income inequality is “diffusion of knowledge,” by which he means education.

But our education is itself extremely unequal. Wealthy students frequently end up in good private schools, but most of us go to public schools, which can vary in quality greatly, frequently along already existing income and racial lines, which is self-perpetuating.

What’s most disappointing regarding education is that many states have been starving education budgets for years. It’s almost as if some state leaders want to hold people in their unequal place by denying “diffusion of knowledge” to them. We elect these leaders. We can elect others with more positive priorities regarding education.

We’re all familiar with the inequality in our justice and penal systems. Minorities are disproportionately imprisoned. The problems are partly due to the education deficit, but also to unequal administration of justice. Again, this inequity is correctable.

Voting is unequal. Our “one person one vote” Constitutional guarantee is ignored and abused constantly, which is utterly inconsistent with our democracy. Some politicians scheme to deny the vote to those who might vote differently than they (the politicians, not the voters) desire.

A poster child of voting inequality is the Electoral College, a result of our Founding Fathers’ hedging their bet on the common man. After all, their new government was an experiment as yet untried.

The results, however, have been extremely mixed in the 21st Century. So far, it has given us our first black president by popular vote, and two presidents – one a disaster and the other trending that way – who lost the popular vote, but won in the Electoral College.

President is the only truly national office. It is the only office that can, and should be determined by a total national vote, with no intersession.

The election of U.S. Senators, though reformed over time, is grossly unequal today. Every state gets two of them, regardless of size. Our four largest states – California, New York, Florida and Texas – comprise a third of our population. Our four smallest states contain less than one percent. But each group has eight senators. This distribution of senators may have made some sense when the Constitution was written, when our population was 95% rural agrarian, but it is inexcusably unequal today.

Montana and Wyoming, for extreme examples, don’t have enough population to justify a single Representative. Each has one only because at least one is mandatory. Yet each has two Senators. As there are many more states with small to middling populations relative to small ones, rural populations are remarkably over-represented.

This was a compromise made at the creation, and I suspect it would be very hard to change any time soon, for the very reason it is a problem. It favors a lot of small population states, but impedes the will of the majority of the population. That’s not what representative democracy is supposed to do.

The U.S. House of Representative is more, well, representative, but it is susceptible to a particularly odious form of inequality – gerrymandering. This ploy warps voter representation willfully and radically. Both major parties are complicit in it, and the job should be taken from their hands.

Job opportunities are certainly unequal. Though the official unemployment number is low at present, many people, particularly those with less education, are disproportionately unemployed, and many people with or without some education are underemployed. Everyone’s wages have been stagnant for years. This is the crux of the sleep of reason that brought forth the monster that is Donald Trump (my opinion).

Now, here are a couple of very inconvenient truths that must be looked at head on if we are to correct inequality in the broader sense:

Globalization is a thing, and it will not change. So called sovereign state boundaries cannot prohibit it, and its overall thrust is too good for us to want it to stop, even if that were possible. The opposite of globalization is tribalism, a retrenchment into smaller, insular enclaves, which only breed greater fear and suspicion of “the other.” Tribalism is a hidebound, narrow minded way to live. Look at Afghanistan, Pakistan and place like that. No wonder people want to come here from such places.

Technology will go where it can go. As technology improves, it will be applied. This includes in the workplace, which means it will compete for more and more jobs successfully, reducing the demand for human workers to do them. Technology has replaced many, many more jobs than globalization.

Other jobs will be created, good ones, but not in the same numbers, and requiring more skills and training. If it were easy, anybody could do it, which means the easy jobs will go to the person willing to do it the cheapest…until he or she is replaced by a machine.

Access to higher paying jobs is not available to everyone equally, due to, let’s face it, intelligence, aptitude, training and prejudice. Many decent paying jobs required less education in the past, so more people were able to get a good job without as much of it. But those times have changed.

I can empathize with those who find themselves out of a job because the jobs left them, and we must do more to try to help them. People today need more education and/or training – technical education of some sort and support until they are able to up their game.

Others are simply not capable of competing at the current level of job complexity and competition. As Ron White said, “You can’t fix stupid.”

This period of a more competitive labor market and stagnant wages begs for more progressive thinking to deal with than we have been giving it thus far. It’s time to think about how to equalize income to at least an acceptable standard of living. There is no excuse for the income disparity we have today, and it is inexcusable to have Americans below the poverty line with so much wealth available.

How do we afford this, you ask? I’ll tell you how:

  1. By thinking about wealth and income more generously and compassionately and equally, not greedily. Our tax system should look almost the exact opposite of what it is today, with high taxes on the rich, a tax on wealth and extremely high inheritance taxes.
  2. By inverting our investment priorities toward education and away from a grossly too expensive military.
  3. By reforming our justice system so that the penalty for the same crimes are not only equal, but do not doom convicts to a life sentence-stifled opportunities and prospects denied.

Lest you think this rational addressing of inequality will be easy, consider where we are today – how greedy we have become, how punitive and how much we have downgraded and degraded education.

And lest you think that should such reforms be enacted all our problems would be solved, consider the new ones that these reforms would evoke, regarding population control, immigration policy, assisted suicide, and yes, death panels. (Spoiler alert: these things will happen anyway.)

Not everything is ever going to be exactly equal, nor should we want them to be. Mountains v. oceans, deserts v. tropics, cities v. towns. These and every other aspect of culture result in diversity that enriches us.  But the inequalities in education, income and justice are pernicious, and ludicrously beneath the richest, strongest and among the bests nations on earth.

 

 

Thoughts one Events the Week of June 26

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on July 4, 2017

Senate’s vote on their healthcare bill: Didn’t happen. Turns out you can’t perfume a pig. Enough senators objected to Mitch McConnell’s secret bill that the Majority Leader couldn’t bring it up for a vote, and kicked the pig down the calendar until after the July 4th Holiday.

I don’t expect its prospects to improve over the holiday, which is why McConnell wanted to have the vote beforehand. Senators are going to get an earful back home. I certainly intend to contact my own personal senator, the aptly named Senator Flake. (John McCain, the senior senile senator from Arizona is a lost cause.)

It is hard to imagine that McConnell really wants to pass this odious, unpopular bill now, especially since President Trump threw him under the bus over it this week.

What does “If we don’t get it….that will be OK, too” mean?: It means that Ponzi Don pulled the rug out from under McConnell’s efforts to pass his healthcare bill by signaling that he is distancing himself from senatorial failure, and is ready to move on to something else.

All the senators who have hawked “repeal and replace” care about it in one way or another, though, and I’m sure they were not happy as pigs in slop to hear Ponzi say that. To put it politely, I think Ponzi may have weakened the allegiance that Republican senators feel toward him. It’s every Republican for him or herself now. It will be interesting to see what comes next.

Modern Day Presidential: Is how Ponzi characterized his use of tweets to reach the people directly. I don’t think so. The Twitter technology is modern enough, but the statements are often not presidential at all, modern or otherwise.

But, okay, if this is Ponzi being “modern day presidential,” then all his tweets are public statements from the highest office of the land, and by which he will be judged. Today, his base seems to enjoy them, but I doubt they will wear well.

Consider the tweet swipes that Ponzi took at the media this week. They were petulant punching down with gratuitous insults, innuendos of violence and blatant misogyny.

Consider how the modern day presidential pronouncement below will appear in history books in juxtaposition with the words of Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and Barak Obama. Sad

“I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don’t watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!” – President Donald J. Trump

Sudden Thought: Speaking of history books, Michael Flynn my go down as the next Benedict Arnold.

Separation of Church and State: The Supremes, in a 7-2 decision (religious wingnut Neil Justice Gorsuch dissented. He wants to turn the entire government over to the church) is permitting public funds to be used for a parochial school.

A shocking majority of the present Supreme Court doesn’t have the vision, or the grasp of history, that our founding fathers (mostly religious men) had about the importance of separating church and state. Europe separated the two centuries ago when it became clear that the war between the two was threatening to destroy western civilization, something Islam is trying to deal with today. This opinion puts us back to the Middle Ages, and to a degree contemporary Islam.

Diary Entry: The Goodwin wildfire is close, but no cigar. Though it is very nearby, we are no longer in danger of it. Also, the dew point reached 46 degrees. Again, close but no cigar. We need 55 degrees for the monsoon rains to begin.

Football: With a nod to The Wizard, one of my few actual readers, I report that the University of Alabama – Birmingham has reinstated its football program, which it dropped, briefly, as it turns out, after the 2014-2015 season, and has announced its schedule for this fall. Go Blazers! (Mine is from Brooks Brothers.)

Status of the States: Kansas gets the cup this week. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach heads Ponzi Don’s commission to find non-existent voter fraud. It is not Kansas’ fault that Ponzi appointed him, but it is Kansas’ fault that it elected Kobach Secretary of State, which gave him authority for voter suppression.

Kobach, in his role as head of the voter fraud commission, has asked all states to provide confidential voter information, but then, as its Secretary of State, has informed his commission that Kansas won’t comply with his own request. Such rich hypocrisy deserves recognition.

Coming Attractions: Wednesday, an essay on the question: Are we divided and polarized?

Thoughts on Events the Week of June 19

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on June 28, 2017

Repeal and Replace in the Senate: The Senate published its alternative to the House repeal and replace bill. Both having been created by Republican controlled bodies without benefit of input from Democrats or even experts, the bills are almost identical and about equally loathsome to liberals.

Some knee jerk liberals claimed that healthcare is a right, not an option. This, of course, is nonsense.  Healthcare is merely a choice among many for how to invest the nation’s wealth. It is a reflection of who we as a nation view our priorities.

I respect, though do not agree with, those conservatives who just don’t want to spend the money on anything. At least they are being somewhat honest, and somewhat prudent. There is certainly an argument to be made for reducing the deficit in seasons of growth. Though if conservatives really want to reduce the deficit, they should be arguing to increase taxes for that purpose, which they are not.

Those conservatives who prefer to spend the money on military and the rich, I do not agree with or respect in the least. That is not how I view our priorities. I think most people would agree with this rather mild thrust of liberalism.

Republican politicians lied about and smeared Obamacare mercilessly for six years. They told their base that it is a disaster and must be repealed and replaced so persistently that the base came to believe it. The lies and smears are becoming exposed, and Obamacare is now popular. Yet the base still believes the lies and smears.

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.” It will be interesting to see what happens next week, when the bill comes up to the Senate floor.

What does “Elite(s)” mean?: The dictionary defines elites (they’re usually expressed in the plural) as:

A select part of a group that is superior to the rest in terms of ability or qualities. “elite colleges and universities” · “an elite athlete”

A group or class of people seen as having the greatest power and influence within a society, especially because of their wealth or privilege:

I’m down with the first definition. I want the smartest and most able of us to be heavily involved when making important or technical decisions.

The second definition simply means Plutocrats: people who are often able to get their way simply because they’re rich. These elites have no special place in a truly democratic society. Besides, I’ve seen enough of wealth to know that you don’t have to be brilliant to make a lot of money. It’s possible also by means of greed, inheritance and having a knack. Like the views of celebrities, they carry no particular weight.

What does “mean” mean?: Webster’s defines “mean,” among other meanings, as:

  1. unwilling to give or share things, especially money; not generous
  2. unkind, spiteful, or unfair.

But “mean” the way Ponzi Don used it this week meant throwing Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (who really is mean) and all the Republican members stupid enough to be led by him, under the bus. After urging House Republicans to pass a repeal and replace Obamacare bill and praising the bill when the House did, Ponzi later declared it to be “mean,” trying to distance himself from it and leaving his Republican House members looking foolish and, well, mean.

The Summer Solstice: occurred this week. It is one of my favorite days, being the longest day of the year, signifying the official beginning of summer and bringing into sharp relief the revolution of our planet around the sun. However, the official start of summer came much too late this year. It has been wicked hot for weeks, with no rain, of course, drying the forest to kindling for wildfires.

Status of the States: The national news has been so mesmerizing again this week that I haven’t paid attention to state politics. I will point out, however, that Arizona, my own personal state, leads the nation in active forest fires this week, with 30, 90% of which were man made, not from arson, but stupidity. (We have a whole lot of stupid in Arizona.)

One of the biggest of these wildfires is very near our home, only five percent contained as of today, and spreading rapidly. Water carrying planes and helicopters are flying over our heads continuously during the daylight hours. Fortunately, the monsoon winds are beginning to shift, blowing the fire generally away from us, and the dew point reached 42 degrees. When it hits 55 degrees, on or about July 6, the rains will begin and help with the fires.

Coming Attractions: Next Wednesday, an essay on the question: Are we really a nation divided and polarized?

Thoughts on Events the Week of June 12

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on June 20, 2017

A deranged man: opened fire with a rifle on a group of House Republicans practicing for a baseball game, wounding four of them, including House Whip Steve Scalise (rhymes with sleaze), seriously.  Almost immediately, there were calls from legislators for increased security for themselves.

Frankly, this reaction just pisses me off. It is not just Congress that needs more security. We all need protection from wing nuts with guns, and Congress has failed miserably to do anything to protect us from them.

Twenty one little children were murdered in a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and it didn’t stir Congress to move an inch. Maybe this attack, closer to home, will elicit some action. (It didn’t when Representative Gabby Giffords was shot; though, of course, she was a Democrat.)

I’ll feel more sympathy for Congressional victims of gun violence when they start showing more sympathy for us and less for the NRA. At the very least, keep guns away from those who shouldn’t have one. My prediction: nothing will happen except perhaps more security at the Capitol.

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions: our Attorney General, and perhaps the least fit for his position in President Trump’s cabinet (which is really saying something), testified before the Senate intelligence committee. “Testified” is used charitably, because Sessions didn’t answer many questions, refusing to answer on nonexistent legal grounds.

But he answered enough – specifically those answers in direct contradiction to those of former FBI Director Comey – to have likely perjured himself. He will sing for Robert Mueller, and I suspect that will be it for Sessions. It couldn’t happen to a nicer racist and bigot.

The Nationally televised Ass Kissing Ceremony: The story is told that during the Kennedy Administration, someone who had met with both Kennedy and the Pope was asked to compare the two meetings. He said that with the Pope, at least he only had to kiss his ring.

That story came to mind when I watched the ring kissing ceremony at Ponzi Don’s cabinet meeting, when the secretaries went around the table gushing about him obsequiously. Only Secretary of Defense James Mattis sought to maintain his dignity.

What a dismal spectacle. It evoked sycophants of Kim Jung Un, and I was embarrassed for all of them. These are the kinds of people with whom Ponzi has surrounded himself. Do you see any of them speaking truth to power? Do you see power listening to any of them?

Premature Ejection: It was reported that Ponzi Don is now under investigation by the Special Counsel for obstructing justice, and the crowd went wild, by which I mean the media. Their rush to judgement is unseemly. An investigation does not mean guilt. Private citizens may speculate – I certainly do – but the media should be more circumspect than it has been.

That said, we owe the media our thanks for its reawakening. The competition between the New York Times and Washington Post in covering Trump’s presidency is inspiring. It may become a movie one day.

However, I don’t think Ponzi can be convicted of obstruction by the House. Impeachment is a political judgement call, and Republicans are still the judges. I’m much more interested in seeing how the Russian story plays out, and to see where the money trail leads.

The Russians are the only ones willing to lend Ponzi money anymore. My guess is they don’t really care if they get their money back; they are hoping for a big non-cash return on the investments.

Jared Kushner: is also under investigation for his business dealings, and I have less circumspection regarding him. He met with the president of a sanctioned Russian bank, and there is no innocent reason for that. He’s got some serious ‘splaining to do.

Cuba: It almost requires carbon dating to see how far backward Ponzi Don tried to take us on the issue of Cuba – 58 years, to 1959, when Fidel Castro took power.

Actually, Ponzi didn’t dismantle President Obama’s historic achievement completely, because the idea is too good. We’re seeing a lot of this from Ponzi lately.* He chops a limb or two off the trunk of Obama’s tall oaks and tells his base he has cut the whole thing down. They buy it.

Ironically, almost simultaneously with Ponzi’s announcement, Raul Castro announced that he will be stepping down in 2018. Someone not named Castro will take over. He will espouse the same policies, but history tells us that when the leader of a cult of personality passes from the scene, the successor will not be able to hold things together. But with his move, Ponzi has bought the Cuban government a little more time, because it can revert to blaming the USA for all its troubles, diverting blame from itself.

Fortunately, Obama has put the unraveling of Cuba’s oppressive regime in irreversible motion. Cuba will continue to reform with or without us, and as with so many things under Ponzi, we will be hidebound and left behind.

I had hoped that Obama had gotten us beyond having our Cuba – U.S. politics held hostage to a small bunch of grievance-crazed Cuban refugees, but apparently not quite yet. It’s unpolitic to say this, and I probably won’t live to see it anyway, but I will be glad when the anti-Castro Cuban American refugees have passed on.

* Ponzi tried this usually reliable gambit with DACA, though with less success. He announced he would let the “Dreamers” remain in the U.S. for now, but would deal with them in the future. This one backfired. His base booed. They want all illegals gone now. They want all illegals gone now, even if they are American citizens. All Hispanics are illegals as far as these people are concerned. Could Ponzi Don have underestimated how truly xenophobic his base is? I wouldn’t think so, because he helped make them that way. But maybe.

Sports – Correction: Recently, I wrote that the University of Oklahoma Sooners won National Championships in women’s softball, men’s golf and women’s gymnastics. I neglected to mention that OU won the men’s gymnastics national championship also. That’s four national championships in one spring season, people. Boomer Sooner!

Status of the States: The national news has been so mesmerizing again this week that I haven’t paid attention to state politics. I will point out, however, that a few years ago, Arizona, my own personal state, forwent a meteorologically defined start date of our monsoon season to an arbitrary one of June 15, which is banal. When we reach a dew point of 55 degrees three days in a row, rains caused by the change in wind direction (the literal meaning of monsoon) will begin, which is somewhere around July 6. It doesn’t deserve a worst state cup, but it was a dumb idea. (Note: the dew point was 41 degrees this morning.)

 

Thoughts on Events the Week of June 5

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on June 12, 2017

Infrastructure Week: You could just feel the excitement over President Trump’s infrastructure plan. It was all anyone could talk about. (Just kidding.)

Actually, Ponzi Don did float one infrastructure idea: to privatize the Air Traffic Control System. Say what? Just what I want: my safety at 35,000 feet in the hands of a private company that is cutting corners for profit. Ponzi says our air control equipment is out of date and there is much better technology available. Well, why isn’t the government buying it, Ponzi?

I have a lot of thoughts about infrastructure, but I’ll save then until/if we ever have an actual infrastructure week.

The Comey Hearing: This was riveting testimony about President Trump and about Russian interference in our presidential election.

Ponzi Don obstructed justice, plain and simple. You know it, I know it, everybody knows it. A president’s “hope” is a direct order. When the big boss “hopes” you will jump, he expects you to be in the air before asking how high.

In a court of law, any competent prosecutor would get a conviction, but it’s questionable that this charge will ever be brought against Ponzi Don, because the only court in which a president may be indicted is the House of Representatives, and House Republicans are not ready to try their own president. They still fear his base too much, as well they should.

All that said, it can’t be forgotten that Comey himself did more damage to our presidential election than the Russians ever could. He should have been fired on July 5th by President Obama, or at the latest by President Hillary Clinton on January 21. So Comey’s appearance, while illuminating and sincere, cannot be taken for perfect truth without some salt.

The Other Hearing: The day before the Comey testimony, the Senate Intelligence committee had their intelligence insulted by Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats and Director or National Security, Mike Rogers, who refused to answer questions about whether Ponzi Don had asked them to help disrupt or play down the  FBI’s investigation of Mike Flynn and connections to Russia. The Senate could hold them in Contempt of Congress, but they won’t do that. Senate Republicans fear Ponzi’s base also.

You can understand why Rogers and Coats would balk. They don’t want to be on the wrong side of Ponzi, but they aren’t going to perjure themselves for him either. Better to fade the heat.

The effect of this refusal to testify will only be to string out some time before we learn what happened. These birds will sing for Robert Mueller or land in jail.

Qatar: Apparently taking Ponzi’s support as a green light, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and other Sunni majority countries blockaded Qatar (also Sunni majority) for its support of terrorism. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! (Note: these countries have tried to isolate Qatar before and failed. Perhaps they figure they might be successful this time, with Ponzi’s blessing.)

Sure enough, Ponzi immediately sided with Saudi Arabia and condemned Qatar, presumably before anyone in his administration could tell him that Qatar is also an important American ally, that we have 11,000 U.S. troops stationed there, and that Qatar is home to our largest air base in the region.

Turkey, a strong ally of Qatar, has come to its aid militarily, and the whole region is in an uproar. Meanwhile, in a situation that cries out for strong diplomacy, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Ponzi keep contradicting one another in public.

When people worry that Ponzi might get us into a war with his antics, this is the kind of thing they have in mind.

Tehran: The capital of Iran, a Shia majority country, suffered two terrorist attacks by ISIS (Sunni nut jobs), the first ISIS attack on Iranian soil.

The Trump administration offered mild sympathy for those killed in the attacks, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to lecture Tehran about its own role in terrorism. Not the right moment, Ponzi.

I’m thinking this attack may prove to be a very big mistake on ISIS’s part. Iran is not going to take this lightly. There is going to be some serious Sunni suffering over this.

Miscellaneous: Ponzi Don talked about doing a lot of bad things this week, though none of them have yet gotten beyond the tweeting stage. We’ll think about them if they ever get off the ground, but never doubt that even in his bent, incompetent state he can do a lot of damage if he gets started. Remember Dubbya? Who would have thought a president could do so much damage with our system of checks and balances? And Ponzi is just getting started.

Women’s Softball Championship: My beloved University of Oklahoma Sooners won the National Championship, beating the University of Florida in two straight games, the first of which went an epic 17 innings.

These two teams are unquestionably the cream of the sport. In the last five years, OU has won three championships and Florida has won the other two. Boomer Sooner!

Note: OU also won national championships in women’s gymnastics and men’s golf. I’m just sayin’

Status of the States: The cup returns to The Lone Star State, thanks to Texas Senator John Cornyn, who, at the intelligence committee hearing, intending to obstruct the proceedings rather than further them, brought up the Hillary Clinton email episode, having nothing to do with the matter at hand. As my youngest daughter would say, “Oh, dad, that is so yesterday,” yesterday in this case being a year and an administration change ago.

Thoughts on Events the Week of May 29

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on June 7, 2017

America Last: President Trump’s backing out of the Paris climate accord, politics and prestige aside, will have little if any quantitative effect. The market has already taken control of the global warming issue, which counts more than political pronouncements. Renewable energy is a growth industry today and everyone with any sense is getting involved. This includes most of the U.S. business community, whatever Ponzi’s stance.

Nations committed to the accord, which now includes all but three, will maintain their course. The big guys – China, the EU and India –will shrug their shoulders and move on without us, shaking our dust from their sandals.

Politically, Ponzi Don’s base may be happy with his declaration of contempt for the globe; it was one of his campaign promises that resonated with them. But that is because (this has to be said) they are too stupid, or too angry and too gullible to understand the issue.

As for the rest of the planet, Ponzi’s decision merely reinforces what they are coming to understand about him. We are more and more seen as a country ignorant, superstitious (read science averse), hidebound and narrow in vision. That is certainly how I see us at present, and it’s painful to say.

When Ponzi said “America First,” he meant what he said. Not America to lead, but America to be selfish and greedy, and to look out for ourselves without a care about the rest of the planet. Ponzi Don is not making America great. He is making America small.

Jared Kushner: Ponzi Don’s son-in-law could lose his parking space at the White House for hobnobbing with the Russian Ambassador to the U.S. and the president of a sanctioned Russian bank, neither of which he made mention on his security clearance application.

If I were naïve or stupid or just wanting to believe it, I might take Kushner at his word that he was just engaged in diplomatic business with the Ambassador. But the bank president meeting is impossible to square. He (the bank president, not Kushner; well, maybe Kushner) is a Russian agent, bigger than Dallas, and he runs a sanctioned Russian bank, which by law, U.S. citizens and businesses are prohibited from doing business with. So, either Kushner was dealing politically with a suspicious Russian agent without reporting it, or trying to do business on behalf of himself or his boss, which is illegal as hell, and also not reported. I think Ponzi’s inner circle is going to have to take its belt in another notch soon. I can’t imagine this guy being around much longer.

Miscellaneous: Ponzi Don talked about doing a lot of bad things this week, though none of them have yet gotten beyond the tweeting stage. We’ll think about them if they ever get off the ground, but never doubt that even in his bent, incompetent state he can do a lot of damage if he gets started. Remember Dubbya? Who would have thought a president could do so much damage with our system of checks and balances? And Ponzi is just getting started.

Status of the States: Arizona, my own personal state, gets the worst state cup this week. New data are out, and Arizona leads the nation in reduction in per capita investment in student education between 2008 (the beginning of the Great Recession. Remember Dubbya?) and 2016. And Arizona’s investment in education was in the bottom three states to begin with. I sometimes wonder if Republicans want our education system diminished. How else could Ponzi Don have been elected?

Thoughts on Events the Week of May 22

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on May 29, 2017

Trump Abroad II: President Trump did fine in Israel so long as he stayed on script. His speech was well written, well given and well received, at least by Sunni dominated countries and those countries not named Iran. It was only when Ponzi Don went off script and spilled some more classified beans that things got awkward. And someone really should have told Ponzi that Israel is in the Middle East. It’s hard to achieve Middle East without understanding that.

Ponzi Don got through his visit to the Vatican reasonably well. He smiled for the photo op, though the Pope looked embarrassed to be seen with him.

It was when Ponzi began meeting with European democratically elected leaders – not really his cup of tea – that things went downhill. Even his scripted remarks were factually incorrect, off target and ill received. Then, there was “The Shove.”

The Shove: I have spent a lot of time in Europe, and I have seen my share of boorish American tourists. (Every country has them.) But I have never seen anything so rude and ugly as when Ponzi Don literally shoved the Prime Minister of Montenegro – Dusko Markovic – out of his way like a gluttonous pig pushing for the trough, not even acknowledging Markovic, and then strutted like a bully. I was embarrassed for all of us that he was representing our country thus.

When they make a movie about Ponzi’s term, it will be titled, “The (Ugly) American President.”

Meanwhile, back in the U.S.A.: More of the same. More communications with suspicious Russians with more Trump senior staffers, more actionable omissions on security clearance documents, more Trump family funny business exposed, more leaking, more lying. Same old same old, except with fewer Tweets, and a little air starting to seep out of Ponzi’s polling numbers.

The Budget: Doubtless timed deliberately to occur while Ponzi was abroad, his budget was released to Congress and the people. It was as mean-spirited and laughable as his repeal and replace healthcare plan, and received in the same way.

Now we have two documents relating to Ponzi’s agenda in Congress’ hands, but it’s hard to see either of these mutts hunting. The healthcare plan seems to be going backwards. In fact, I don’t see how any legislation is going to go anywhere until the Russia mystery is solved.

Opioid Addiction Epidemic: This subject is confounding, but two recent articles by German Lopez of Vox.com explain it pretty well. I recommend them.  http://newsletters.vox.com/t/d-l-kjhjdyk-ukaotjl-w/ and http://newsletters.vox.com/t/d-l-kjhjdyk-ukaotjl-g/.

Movie Review: Morning Glory, with a cast including Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton and Jeff Goldblum, and cameos by news celebrities such as Morley Safer and Chris Matthews, is a much better movie than the two stars cable reviewers give it. These reviewers don’t know what the hell they are talking about. Morning Glory is worth three stars at a minimum. Full Disclosure: I am a sucker for love stories and comedy. Good romantic comedies are my favorites, and this is one.

Sudden Thought: The Fidget Spinner is the dumbest pop cultural fad since the Pet Rock.

Status of the States: The Texas state legislative session ends Monday, and the house is deadlocked on a so called “bathroom bill.”  Apparently, even in really, really red state Texas, this issue is controversial.

Potty obsessed Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick says he will call for a special session if lawmakers don’t reach agreement. (Note: Patrick – whose office runs the senate in Texas – will have to call one anyway, because the febrile debate about which toilet seats should be up or down monopolized the legislative calendar to the point nothing got done regarding school finance and other actual issues.

The most farcical moment of the debate was during public statements when a former female, now a heavily bearded male minister, asked legislators if they, or anyone, seriously wanted him to use the ladies room.

Don’t be surprised if the legislature sneaks a bill through on Monday while everyone is waterskiing on Lake Texoma and gets the hell out of town with other work undone. We’ll see. Either way, Texas gets the cup this week.  It will be interesting to see if they get it again next week over the same issue.

Thoughts on Events the Week of May 15

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on May 23, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thoughts on Events the Week of May 8

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on May 15, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sudden thought: Archibald Cox

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

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

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

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

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

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