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Thoughts on Events the Week of July 8

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on July 15, 2019

Draining the swamp: President Trump ran on a campaign promise to “drain the swamp” in Washington D.C., and on one level he is succeeding. He has thrown many miscreants, incompetents and corrupt officials out of office.

However, these swap dwellers were all put into the swamp by Trump to begin with. I don’t think adding swamp creatures and then running them off when they were found to be what they are is what the voters had in mind.

Even worse, as swamp creatures are tossed, they are generally replaced by ones worse than their predecessors. It’s arguably going from bad to worse.

Trump’s administration is being criticized for poor vetting, but I don’t think that’s the problem. The problem is that Trump doesn’t know many people other than crooks, cronies, incompetents, clueless family members or despot dictators, so those are what he ends up with.

Alexander Acosta, case in point: The most recent Trump-imported swamp creature to be tossed out thereafter is his now former Secretary of Labor. You know the story. Acosta earned his swampy stench by giving an inexcusably lenient, and possibly illegal, plea deal to Jeffry Epstein, a former whoring buddy of Trump, who turns out to be a more odious pervert (allegedly) than previously understood, at least by me. Trump stood beside Acosta as the Secretary announced his “resignation” and praised him as he was throwing him under the bus. (I’ll leave it to you to decide who among the three in this triangle – Epstein, Acosta or Trump – is the most odious.)

Their capacity for excusing the Trump administration seems infinite, but I can’t help wondering exactly how evangelicals are going to whistle by this one.

ICE Raids: Trump announced in advance that ICE is going to conduct raids that began on Sunday in several major cities: Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and San Francisco. (Houston and New Orleans are excused since they are dealing with a hurricane.)

Trump made the advance announcement presumably to give the leisure industry an economic boost by sending a couple thousand people on a week-long vacation in the countryside. Just kidding. He did it to please his xenophobic base, though the actual event is unlikely to have much effect, other than the fearful threat to separate some parents from the lawfully present children. Trump’s base gets off on that.

This nonsense is symptomatic of the schizophrenia we suffer about immigration. Trump exploits undocumented workers for political expediency, but he doesn’t want to catch too many of these people because of the odious optics, and because even he knows we need the workers. So, Trump jacks off his base with these gambits, but with no real effort to address immigration thoughtfully.

The 2020 Census: In a stunning example of incompetence, even for him, Trump caused his DOJ minions piss off a federal judge seriously and embarrass Supreme Court Justice John Roberts. Most Justice Departments try to avoid either of those things.

Diary entries: We got our first monsoon season rain, almost a week after the average first arrival date of July 6. Writing this final draft on Monday, Cynthia died a year ago today.

Status of the States: No cup this week. No state has earned it. Nothing going on in the states at present can compare remotely to shenanigans going on in D.C.

Thoughts on Events the Week of July 1

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on July 11, 2019

Supremes: We saw an egregious example of full-blown judicial partisanship on display at the Supreme Court last week. Historically, individual states have attempted to deny equality to some of its citizens, generally those most likely to vote against the majority in power, and the Supremes have stepped in to safeguard those equalities to everyone, on a national basis, in line with the Constitution.

No more. In the North Carolina case involving partisan gerrymandering, the Supremes told the state that it is okay if it wants to suppress the votes of its citizens for partisan advantage… since they’re only doing it within state lines, I suppose.

It was a staggering ruling. The Supremes completely abdicated their oath of office to apply the law and interpret the Constitution equally to all citizens. Justice Elena Kegan’s eloquent dissent represents how the Supremes should think and act.

The cynic in me thinks that John Roberts throws a bone to the Constitution occasionally to avoid destroying Supreme Court altogether so he can get away with issuing the extremely undemocratic decisions he obviously favors, and that really damage our democracy, such as this one, and Citizens United.

North Korea: It has been obvious for years that we are going to end up living with a nuclear armed North Korea, just as we are living with a nuclear armed Pakistan (and Israel), and there is nothing Trump, whatever his rhetoric, can do about it, because the alternatives are untenable. North Korea will never give up its nukes. Nukes are the only pot North Korea has to pee in. If they gave them up, Kim would be killed and eaten, and he knows it.

Therefore, Trump’s historic photo op when he crossed the DMZ into North Korea changed nothing. I wouldn’t have done it, but Trump goes into the history books, which I am sure is a monumental boost to his ego. I can just see him jacking off in the West Wing over this. Goody for him, but I suspect he is going to be in the history books over a lot of these he has done, which I dearly hope will include being the first president to go to jail after his term, for acts both before and during his presidency.

July 4th Holiday Celebration: This is embarrassing. Our politics have become so polarized that we are quarreling over Independence Day.

Our porcine President and potentate wannabe insinuated himself into the national celebration in D.C. He wanted to show America’s “military might,” so the military sparsely planted (not paraded) some “brand new” Sherman tanks (last used in the Korean War) around the Capitol like so many red rose bushes to appease the Queen of Hearts. Trump also gave an hour-long speech.

Someone should tell this prick that, since we are the largest military in world history, and bigger (and more overpriced) than the next dozen or so militaries on the planet combined, we don’t need to display our military might. Everyone already knows about it. Military parades are for weaker nations and tinpot dictators.

If Trump wants to give a speech, let him. At least it shows he can read, sort of. He may want to watch out for anachronisms, though. Airports during the Revolutionary War? Really? What a “great brain” student of history.

Status of the States: No cup this week (except for the World Cup the U.S.A. women’s soccer team hoisted). It’s July 4th Week, and all states are united and equal this week.

Thoughts on Events the Week of June 23

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on June 30, 2019

Immigration: This should be a subject tailor made for Congress. It is complicated, complex and multi-faceted, with various stakeholders having different interests that need to be balanced out. This is what Congresses are for.

Likewise, this seems to be a subject ripe with opportunities for compromise to achieve a comprehensive solution. There is so much to work with. (See David Frum’s thoughtful piece in Atlantic Magazine.)  For instance, I am very pro-immigration, but I would trade our policy that anyone born on American soil is an American citizen in a heartbeat for something in return.

This issue has festered for decades in this country, known for its generally welcoming attitude toward immigration, for three reasons:

  1. Schizophrenia. Businesses such as agriculture and building trades want immigrants because they need the workers. Therefore, they wink at undocumented alien rules.

Some oppose immigration because they think immigrants are taking their jobs, which is not true (their bosses are eliminating them with technology), but immigrants are easy targets to blame for our own short comings. So, things have been left in limbo, which gives both sides something, but is terribly unfair to the immigrants themselves.

  • Our Congress, at present anyway, can’t hit the floor with its hat. It is paralyzed, impotent, cowardly and stupid. It doesn’t seem to understand, or it chooses to ignore, that we have always been the net beneficiary of in-migration.
  • Although immigration is a problem, it is not our biggest problem, and so we have let it slide.

That is until President Trump decided to exploit immigrants to jack off his xenophobic base, which has elevated the issue, but exacerbated the friction.

Every wave of immigrants – Irish, Italians, etc. – has been met with heavy resistance, even here. And every wave has fought and sacrificed to get a foothold so their children may experience the American dream. It works out great for us.

This wave of Hispanic immigrants is no different. As a percent of the population it is probably comparatively small. And like the other big waves, it was forced by intolerable conditions in the immigrants’ native countries. Think Irish potato famine.

This wave of immigrants has a different skin tone and heritage than that of most European immigrants, and this irrelevant fact seems to disturb people. Hispanic cultures are rich, and they have already contributed positively to our own. Let’s elect people who will fix this thing rather than exploit it.

First Democratic Debates: I didn’t watch them. It’s too early. Besides, I got the headlines from the news channels the next morning. Castro did well, as did Warren. De Blasio surprised, Governor Inslee, on my early long-shot short list, looked presidential and Kamala Harris, another of my favorites, broke out.

In my view, the tone of these debates should be comity, and for the most part it seemed to be. It won’t do this time for the candidates to be trashing one another, because it is very likely that both the presidential and vice-presidential nominees will come from this lot. Why damage them before they get started?

If I had been on the stage, in my opening statement, I would have said that “any of the people on this stage, including the moderators (and probably the camera persons), would make a better president than Donald Trump.” No one said it, but in the spin room after the debate, Elizabeth Warren used my line.

In the early 60s, New York Republican Governor Nelson Rockefeller, who was fluent in Spanish, did some radio commercials and made speeches in Spanish when he was running for President, which was unprecedented, I think. (Of course, the Rockefellers own South America, so that explains it.)

Since then, the occasional candidate has spoken some Spanish, but in the first debate, at least four candidates made remarks in Spanish. It’s a pretty good indicator, I think, of the importance our Hispanic voters are going to be in this next, and future, elections.

I hope some Republican politicians, after watching the debate, woke up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat thinking they had better reconsider their xenophobic rhetoric and positions.  Republicans can’t buy a black vote to save their lives, and at the rate they are going, it will soon be the same for Hispanic votes, which is an even bigger block of voters. In the meantime, pasty white guys are dying off.

Economics: Before leaving for the G20 Summit in Japan, President Trump said it is none of our business what he says to Russian president Putin while he is there. Someone should remind this prick who pays his salary and for his airplane and housing, et. al. Perhaps Robert Mueller will do it when he testifies before Congress next month.

The Supremes: voted this week to allow individual states to gerrymander voting districts, thus abusing one-man, one-vote democracy. This is such an egregious injustice, I will have to address it separately.

Status of the States: The cup goes to Arizona, my own personal state, because on this date in 2013, 19 Hot Shot firefighters died fighting a fire near Yarnell, a piss ant town whose 250 residents had already be evacuated to safety.

I remember this date vividly, because, as we were getting ready to drive to Williams, AZ to have lunch with my daughter who was driving through Arizona on her way back to Texas, the monsoon rains came early, ushered in by the most violent wind storm I have seen in Arizona. The winds whipped around from every direction.

When I heard the news about the Hot Shots, I was incredulous that anyone in authority would send firefighters into a situation with those strong, unpredictable winds to save an empty burg. We are still grieving over this.

Thoughts on Events the Week of June 15

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on June 25, 2019

Iran: Perhaps if we knew President Trump’s objective regarding Iran, we would better understand his behavior, but I doubt it. He says at times that he merely wants to deny Iran nuclear weapons, but if that is really what he wants, he would have left the Obama nuclear deal in place. No, that can’t be it.

(Set aside all his petty criminal activity, and Trump’s backing out of the Iran nuclear agreement will be judged by history to be his biggest mistake.)

Trump says he doesn’t want regime change, but he has surrounded himself with rabid hawks, some of them barking mad. Fuzzy thinking, Donald.

The fact is, our bigot-in-chief has no objective regarding Iran other than to erase every trace he can of President Obama’s accomplishments, regardless of their merits and  regardless of what damage it does to our national interests, in part because it jerks off his racist base, partly to exercise his own bigoted impulses, and partly because it must gall his ass that a brilliant black man was able to accomplish so much, against such vicious, relentless Republican opposition, and how Trump pales in comparison. I know it, you know it, everybody knows it, including Trump, which must really sting.

The best explanation I can think of is that it may have dawned on The Donald that he was about to start yet a third war in the Middle East, and even his pea brain could deduce that this was a bad idea that even his base would choke on, since he ran on a promise to get us out of there, not in deeper. So, he punted, and turned to his next bad idea – separating children and their parents at the border – about which more next week.

(Not so) Sudden thought: Does it worry anyone else that, surrounded by his Secretary of State, outgoing Acting Secretary of Defense, incoming Acting Secretary of Defense and National Security Advisor, gathered in a room discussing war with Iran, Trump was the least rabid?

And if you buy that nonsense that Trump pulled back because he learned at the last minute that there might be Iranian casualties from his approved attack, you are so young. Even if it is true, which it isn’t, why wouldn’t the question of possible casualties be addressed long before a decision to launch was made, and if not, why would his advisors not have raised it?

The Senate: Democratic leaders and voters are frustrated that so many well qualified potential candidates are opting not to run for the Senate. I’m disappointed too, but I can’t blame these people for choosing not to run. Who can blame them? Being a Senator is a colossal waste of time. What used to be an office of stature has become a vestigial appendage to our democratic system.

The Senate hasn’t functioned properly for about two decades, from its own mendacity and cowardice. The Senate is only fit for people like Mitch McConnell anymore, which is why so many Democratic Senators are running for president in hopes of getting out, and so few respectable Democrats want to get in.

Status of the States: South Carolina gets the cup this week, thanks again to Senator Lindsay Graham, who is a perfect fit for today’s Senate (see above), because he has spent the week cheering on the war crazies in Trump’s cabinet, and criticizing Trump for not wanting to start another war, against a strong adversary, in the Middle East. I genuinely despise these people who are so cavalier about sending our military off to fight and die in senseless, costly conflicts.

“Mortal Republic: How Rome Fell into Tyranny,” by Edward J. Watts

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on May 16, 2019

Everyone should read this book. It is a good recap of Roman history from BC 280 (the year of the Roman Republic’s battle with the Greek King Pyrrhus of Epirus), to the death of Roman Emperor Augustus Caesar in AD 14. It is also a vivid cautionary tale of how a republic like ours can fail.

Rome was a functioning republic until a series of events unfolded that set it on a different course. Although Ancient Rome was of a different age, readers will recognize similarities in our present day, and the primary drivers are identical: greed, and blind partisanship. These drivers induced political leaders and rivals to bend and abuse the laws and norms of the republic to their benefit, at the expense of the common good.

The rot began – and today’s readers will recognize this too – with dysfunction in the Senate. Senators began breaking the rules in their lust for power and riches. Senatorial partisan conflict progressed from insult, to threats of violence (Sulla brought an army into the city to intimidate other senators), to violence itself (Caesar was killed in the Senate chamber), to civil war.

Our legislative branch has not been functioning properly for at least two decades. The tipping point for us may have been the extreme malfeasance of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who obstructed the entire eight years of the Obama administration out of pure bigotry, culminating in his refusal to perform his duty to advise and consent on Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.

McConnell is a modern day hero among conservatives, but I believe history will treat him as the rapacious scumbag he truly is, and possibly the root of our own historic decline.

In Rome, the situation became so dangerous that citizens “traded the liberty of political autonomy for the security of autocracy.” Ironically, Caesar was a skilled politician and competent leader as dictator, and his ultimate successor Octavian (later Augustus) was not only competent, but long-lived, which solidified the imperial form of government.

But then came terrible emperors like Caligula and Nero. (Cynics may jump in here and claim we have jumped over the Caesars and gone straight to the Caligulas and Neros with Trump today.)

Watts points out the obvious: that the republic did not have to die. A republic has no expiration date. It lasts as long as people want it enough to protect it. But he warns, “When citizens take the health and durability of a republic for granted, that republic is at risk.”

Our Constitution rests on the assumptions that our public officials will do their jobs (McConnell deliberately failed to do that), and that we will select good people to officiate. Republics survive on the choices made by those in charge of its custody.

Rome’s custodians failed to protect the public good. Ours are failing now. In each case, the result has been dangerous inequality between citizens and their leaders, a leading indicator of revolution.

Watts concludes, and I agree, that “A republic is a thing to be cherished, protected and respected. If it fails, an uncertain, dangerous and destructive future lies on the other side.” But this requires competent people working for the common good. Perhaps it is inevitable that there will be incompetent, selfishly motivated people in government, but they must be avoided as much as possible. Currently, we are wallowing in a sea of them.

Thoughts on Events the Week of May 6

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on May 15, 2019

Trade and Tariffs: I have opined previously that I looked forward to the time we would be competing economically with China, rather than militarily, and how unfortunate it is that now we have gotten there, our economic brain trust is a pack of atavistic hacks ill equipped to compete with China in checkers, let alone in global economics.

Our president is a fan of tariffs, which are about the most discredited tool in the economic competition tool box, incredibly stupid and counterproductive, so of course Trump is all for them.

Barry Goldwater was a pioneer in the Republican efforts to drag the U.S. back to the 50s. Trump wants to drag us back to 1930, when the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act was enacted, with devastating consequences, and, in the opinion of most economists, exacerbated the Great Depression. Just the Donald’s kind of idea.

Injustice: Count me among those Americans who have read (almost) all of the Mueller Report so far available to the public, which clearly doesn’t say what Attorney General William Barr says it does (read he’s lying through his teeth). I have also read a piece in The New Yorker magazine on Michael Cohen, properly titled “Fall Guy,” and the two documents taken together raise questions of fairness and justice.

Cohen is a weak-jawed scum bag and a crook. He deserves to be in jail for the crimes he committed on his own, and others at the direction of Trump. And Cohen is in jail now, where he should be. But you cannot read the two documents without wondering why Trump isn’t in jail too. Cohen is guilty, but Trump is equally so regarding those crimes they did together. It is clearly justice unjustly applied.

Enemies Foreign and Imaginary: New Yorker Magazine also had a lengthy article about John Bolton recently. Bolton is genuinely nuts. He advocates preemptive nuclear strikes against our enemies, which include just about everybody, but including certainly, North Korea, Iran and Russia.  

We haven’t had anybody this nuts in a position of responsibility since Air Force General, and vice presidential running mate of George Wallace, American Independent Party candidate in 1968, Curtis Le May. Le May advocated for a nuclear war against Russia, and said a nuclear exchange with the USSR would be “winnable.” Since then, everybody except Bolton has come to realize that a nuclear war is not winnable by anyone on any level.

Bolton should not be in the White House, and should be kept as far away from the nuclear launch codes as possible, perhaps, say, on the Moon. Instead, he is at the ear of the most impulsive, malleable president in history, who listens to this guy. Keep this in mind when you hear the Administration talk about Iran.

The Moon: Speaking about the Moon, scientists are all jacked up to go back there. Everybody’s, doing it. The early Moon explorations were primarily to further science (and missile technology), but these new ones are precursors to mineral extraction, and to create a station from which to hop scotch across the solar system for extractions from other planets.

Some scientists promoting these ideas refer to the Moon as “the eighth continent,” a specious characterization, which implies the Moon is within easier reach than it actually is and will be easier, and by implication cheaper, than it will be.  

I detest this kind of thinking. I have no objection to extracting minerals from other planets or moons generally, but the way it is sold, gives us excuses to continue to squander and abuse our resources on earth, in much the same way that religion’s preaching about life everlasting lets people off the hook for taking care of where we are, and are always going to be.

As for the hop scotching, that’s an even stupider idea. I’m sorry, we may be able to hop scotch to planets, moons and even meteors and asteroids nearby, but we are never going beyond, because we cannot travel faster than the speed of light, and the next “hop” beyond our solar system is at a distance of light years. Get real, people. Spend the money on making Earth better instead.

The only good news in all this is that companies are taking on some of the expense instead of tax payers. The bad news is that corporations are generally easier to hack for technology secrets than government technology.

Status of the States: South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham brings home the cup for a second week in a row, for saying in public that Donald J. Trump, Jr. should ignore the subpoena issued to him by the Senate Intelligence Committee. Graham is on the Senate Intelligence Committee! This is an egregious abdication of his oath of office in the Senate, in order to kiss the ass of President Trump. Graham has his lips so firmly attached to Trump’s ass he cannot even see the Senate. Maybe he will succeed in becoming the worst pig part there.

Thoughts on Events the Week of April 15

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on April 27, 2019

Barr’s Single-Double: In one duplicitous effort – releasing a redacted Mueller Report and lying about its thrust before the release – Attorney General Barr created more distrust about the administration’s behavior and motives, further damaged the president’s reputation (if that is possible, which I think it is), and shredded his own.

Despite all this, little has changed. But not nothing has changed. Trump’s poll numbers have dropped a bit, and I suspect that the corrosive effect of the evidence that has been un-redacted so far will erode them further over time. At this rate, Trump’s standing is likely to be more run down than uplifted by the next election.

Mnuchin takes his turn in the barrel: Now the game is moving to a second theater of operations: the president’s tax returns. The Secretary of the Treasury is sullying his reputation over this one, by ignoring the law for his law-averse boss. I like this field of play better, because: the law is clearer here; this is where the criminal bodies are most likely buried; and because Mnuchin is an even less likable character than Barr, and I like seeing him destroy himself. He’s a pig part.

Cuba’s “death ray” debunked: Experts have concluded, where common sense should have sufficed, that Cuba was not pelting the U.S. Embassy with sickness inducing rays of some kind. (How does nonsense like this get started?)

In a remarkable display of intellectual back flipping, President Trump is again ignoring the opinion of his experts, with a twist. In the past, our experts have said that some authoritarian leader has does something reprehensible, the dictator says he hasn’t and Trump says he believes the dictator. Think North Korea, Saudi Arabia and the Philippines.

In this case, our experts say Cuba didn’t engage in sickening our embassy personnel in Havana with sound waves, as was erroneously claimed, but President Trump says he believes it happened.  Trump is particular about which dictators he chooses to believe, apparently, but he clearly believes none of his experts.

Lorena Bobbitt, remember her?: Attempts are currently underway to rehabilitate the reputation of the woman who cut off her husband’s penis and threw it out her car window onto the side of the highway. She recently got a favorable write up by Amy Chozick in the Sunday New York Times, and Joshua Rofé has done a sympathetic documentary about her that has run somewhere recently.

The rehabilitation attempt won’t wash with me. This woman did something despicable, and in my view, she should have done some hard time for it, so to speak. (She was found innocent by reason of temporary insanity. What a crock!)

I’ll stipulate that Bobbitt’s former husband is a pig. His abusive behavior is indisputable. But Bobbitt had any number of other remedies. What she did was horrific, an assault on a man’s, well, manhood. It’s analogous to throwing acid in a woman’s face.

Diary Entry: Cynthia’s birthday was April 16. She would have been 68.

The Weather Channel is in my doghouse. They’ve stopped giving their “Local on the 8’s” local weather forecasts between five and six am, at the time I want to see it. I’m up and out of the house before they tell me what the day’s weather will be. Not helpful.

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on April 23, 2019

Benjamin Netanyahu: won re-election as Prime Minister of Israel, closing officially, I expect, the chapter of Israel’s history as a liberal democracy and confirming it as an oppressive, theocratic, authoritarian state. Israel has traded liberal democracy for (a false sense of) security. May it get what it deserves for making this dreadful bargain.

There once was no bigger supporter of Israel’s liberal democracy than I, in the days of David Ben Gurion and Abba Eban. But the legacy of those men has been swept aside in favor of religious extremism, intolerance and oppression, which I find odious. Israel is now no better than Egypt, Turkey or the Philippines. I am sad for the Israel that once was, but I have no sympathy for the new one.

Bottom line: Omar is correct in her criticism of Israel.

Tiger on the prowl: Tiger Woods won the Masters, an extraordinary feat at age 43. The physical and emotion hurdles he had to overcome during his lengthy stay in purgatory make it all the more remarkable. It is arguably the greatest comeback in the history of sports writ large.

I don’t watch golf, but I watch Tiger. I don’t really believe in sin, though, oddly, I do believe in redemption, and in my view, Tiger has achieved his. I’m happy for him, and to be able to watch him again.

Richard Neal and Trump’s tax returns: The Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee has stopped pussyfooting and subpoenaed Trump’s tax returns. This pleases me no end. Trump’s returns, and the underlying records reveal where the bodies of buried, which is why Trump has refused to release them. This will cause a big fight, but the law is on Neal’s side, clearly.

Status of the States: I read a poll showing Roy Moore with an early lead in Alabama’s next senatorial election, so Alabama gets the cup this week. It’s amazing that Moore is sufficiently without shame to show his face in public, let alone that this bigot represents the Republican Party in Alabama.

Thoughts on Events the Week of April 1

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on April 17, 2019

Homeland Insecurity: Kirstjen Nielsen was fired (let’s call it what it was) from her post as Secretary of Homeland Security by President Trump because he wants even bigger assholes running his anti-immigration operation. Apparently, she resisted some of Trump’s more odious directions. This may be true, but she implemented enough odious programs, most notably family separation, that she will not be missed.

Everyone, and I mean everyone, who comes into contact with Trump is diminished by the experience, but many of them were lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon rut to begin with.

Bob Barr Bends: Another Trump associate to experience the reputation- destroying effect of that association recently is Attorney General Bob Barr. Apparently, Barr entered the Trump administration with a pretty good reputation in D.C., though his pandering audition article raised eyebrows. Now, within a few short weeks, Barr’s actions – well intended or inexcusably partisan – have tarnished him irreparably. His biography is going on the shelf with Ken Starr’s.

Black Hole: We saw the first photograph of a black hole, something predicted by Einstein, and generally accepted, but not yet actually seen. This thing is huge! It’s 6.5 billion times the mass of the Sun. I don’t think the human mind can truly grasp the immensity of the universe.

When I first heard about black holes and how their density draws in so much matter, I was nervous. It seemed to me that the gravitational pull of something that dense would eventually swallow us all up. But it turns out that there are physical laws that prevent it from happening, which is a good thing. As Garrison Keillor said, “Obey the laws of nature; they were put here for our safety.”

“Meanwhile:” It’s said that writers are inspired by great writers. Great writers steal from them. I thought of this aphorism while watching Stephen Colbert introduce a new segment on his late night show called “Meanwhile,” which he clearly copied from Seth Meyers’ late, late night show. “Meanwhile,” is basically a segment playing off quirky news items, which Meyers has been doing for years. It’s part of his franchise. Colbert must have seen it is funny and effective and now he’s doing it. (Sudden thought: maybe I’m doing the same thing.)

Status of the States: I don’t care what these sorry states were doing this week. Who cares about the state fleas when the national dog of politics is peeing on the carpet? I do, actually, but not this week.

Catching up on Events the Week of March 25

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on April 14, 2019

Trump and taxes: The House Oversight committee requested President Trump’s tax returns, to which it is entitled by law. (Just ask the Republican House members who requested tax returns of Obama administration employees regularly.) I’m all for this request. I have thought all along that Trump’s “high crimes and misdemeanors” will be more easily determined and understood than his politically deflected ones.

It’s hard to imagine, when you think about it, that Russia may have decided long ago to help Trump get elected president. That thinking probably formed coincidentally with their decision to meddle in our elections generally. It is, however, very easy to see Russia deciding that a sleazy and rather stupid real estate shyster would be easy to use in money laundering schemes, whether wittingly or unknowingly.

Immigrant abuse: ICE raided CVE Technology in Allen. TX, a suburb of Dallas, and walked away with 280 workers on immigration violation charges. This was the largest such workplace operation in more than a decade, and must have pleased the Trump administration no end. Most of the workers were women. The administration is being coy about whether any of those arrested were actual members of CVE’s management, which explains the schizophrenic core of our immigration problem.

On the one hand are anti-immigrant, bigoted, ignorant xenophobes who hate immigrants, and on the other, businesses that want and need to employ immigrants.

If we really want to stop “illegal immigration,” which I do not, nor do I think most people think is a true problem, we only need to put more business owners who employ undocumented immigrants in prison, not the undocumented immigrants themselves. The prospect of real jail time would be an effective deterrent to these owners.

But we can’t manage to do this, because, well, we all know we really need these workers. The result of this conflict is that we do nothing meaningful either way, but keep these people in limbo, exploit them, and use them as political pawns.

Pig on parade: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell used the “nuclear option” to make it easier to get Trump’s judicial nominees confirmed, which has caused many to opine that all filibuster rules will be gone soon. McConnell, a genuine pig part, about whom I will have more to write soon, is a greater affront to our democracy than President Trump can ever dream of being.

I’m ambivalent about the potential loss of the filibuster. On the one hand, it has been a useful tactic to slow things down in the Senate, which helps Senators avoid rushing into hastily ill thought out legislation. On the other hand, there is no denying that the whole process, which is found nowhere in the Constitution, is contrary to democratic theory.

In practice, the filibuster has been so badly abused by the Senate for the last several years that I think we are probably better off doing away with it entirely. Then, when Democrats take over the Senate, they can beat McConnell around the head and shoulders with it.

Status of the States: None of our worst states distinguished itself from the others in terms of egregious behavior this week, so we’ll not give out a cup. We certainly can’t give it to Texas, whose central casting Senator John Cornyn is showing faint signs waking up to smell the coffee, or more likely, smelling his own blood in the election waters. fff