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Thoughts on Events the Week of February 5

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on February 16, 2018

The Democratic Memo: The Democrats on the completely compromised House Intelligence Committee chaired by the completely discredited Devin Nunes (R-CA, and pig in shit’s clothing), wrote their own memo to refute Nunes’ earlier, already completely discredited memo. President Trump refused to permit the release of the Democrats’ clarifying memo almost as fast as the allowed the Nunes memo to be released, which is even before he saw it.

The Democrats are now trying to get their memo released. This is a serious tactical mistake, not unlike many tactical mistakes they have made recently. With a nod to Paul McCartney, they should let it be:

1. The Nunes memo is already discredited. They don’t need to do any more to discredit it.
2. Nothing in the Democrat’s memo, no matter how factual or accurate, could dissuade Trump voters.
3. As it stands, all but Trump voters think the Nunes memo is political horseshit, and that Trump is deliberately suppressing the Democrat’s memo for fear and partisan political spite. Ken Roman said “when it goes without saying, go without saying it.” Let Republicans stew in it without comment.

The Tesla Rocket: Elon Musk shot a rocket into space via his company SpaceX. It was the first successful, really big rocket launch by a private company.

The most amazing thing about this launch is that the rocket booster rockets returned to earth and landed softly and vertically onto targeted pads. I haven’t seen anything remotely like that except in improbable science fiction movies. It was jaw dropping.

I still don’t see a successful business model in what Musk is doing with his rocket, unlike his cars, other than to launch really rich people into space for a very hefty price. (I hope he succeeds, because space travel is still risky business, and eventually a rocket will fail and take out a lot of spoiled, unworthy people.) I suppose his vision involves long range plans to extract and return minerals from extraterrestrial sources for hefty government payments.

Or, it could be just for intellectual curiosity and excitement. This guy thinks far and deep. Bravo, Mr. Lusk.

Olympic Calamity: Did you see Vice President Pence at the Olympics, staring straight ahead, stone faced and uncomfortable, with Kim Yo Jong, North Korea’s representative to the Olympics (the exact title as Pence for the U.S.) sitting right behind him. Pence made Richard Nixon look positively laid back in his own skin. What a putz.

Pence didn’t even acknowledge Kim, let alone introduce himself and shake her hand. Diplomacy Trump Administration style. South Korean President Moon Jae-In sure shook hands with Kim, another indication that the world is moving on without us.

Status of the States: Watching snatches of the Winter Olympics, I was reminded that all of the worst states stink on ice, so they may all share the cup this week.

“Shithole”

Posted in Reviews - of books, mostly by EloiSVM42 on February 10, 2018

I’m pretty proud of the Fourth Estate these days. The media is taking its responsibility seriously. The newspaper war between the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times for scoops about the Trump administration is absolutely thrilling. It’s amazing how many reporters each paper has put on the beat, and it is paying off with great stories and increased circulation, which translates directly to advertising revenues.

That said, the media’s treatment of one story went off the rails in a way that, except for being serious, was rather funny. When President Trump displayed his racism and xenophobia by referring to Haiti, and African countries broadly as “shithole countries,” the media stumbled all over itself about how to handle Trump’s comment. Shit is one of the seven words you are not supposed to say on television.

Some wrote “S***hole” or said “S-hole.” Others just wrote or said it was a “vulgar term,” or “something that can’t be said on the air.” One news network said “Shithole” but then backtracked to “S-hole.”

Chaos doubled when one of Trump’s defenders said Trump didn’t say the word at all (he did), and redoubled when some moron defender said he said “Shithouse” instead, giving us the dictionary example of a distinction without a difference. (Samantha Bee, of course, said Shithole right off the bat, which for her is mild anyway.) Eventually, most media outlets worked up the courage to quote what Trump said directly.

With a nod to Bill Maher, New Rule: when a word is used in a quote, use the quote. Don’t try to soften it. That’s not only too politically correct, but it distorts the intended emphasis and sounds silly. This is especially true for the President, whose words, for better or worse, speak officially for the government.

For example, the word “nigger” is one I would never use…unless I was doing a public reading of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. In that context, it is a quote. It is his word; Twain chose it deliberately, in this case to strengthen his pointed opposition to slavery. (“The difference between a word and just the right word, is the difference between “lightning” and “lightning bug”.” – Mark Twain) I cringe or scoff every time I hear or read “the ‘N’ word.” It’s so, so precious and pusillanimous.

I Love a Parade, just not this one

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on February 8, 2018

I don’t want to write about President Donald J. Trump’s order for a military parade; it’s just too, well, silly. But, the intellectual inconsistency between Trump’s complaints that the military is too underfunded to perform its missions, and demanding a military parade that will cost lots of money and siphon military men and machinery away from those very missions, cannot go unobserved.

This kind of parade is just not our thing, Donald. We prefer parades with happy themes and colorful decorations, not parades of impressive but somber military machines and drab camouflage garb. That’s for North Korea. Think Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (giant balloons); Mardi Gras parades (gold, green and purple costumes, beads, bare boobs); The Rose Bowl Parade (flower covered floats); even Easter Parades (soft, furry bunnies).

 Besides, there’s something just not right about tanks rumbling down Pennsylvania Avenue. That’s the stuff of apocalyptic movies, not our nation’s capital. Can’t you sense that?

 True, we sometimes have big military parades, but those generally occur after a war is over and we have won, so we haven’t really had an occasion for one in quite a while, unless you count President Reagan’s glorious victory over Granada, but that didn’t really merit a parade, did it? It was over in about a day and a half. I don’t remember that we actually had a parade over that one.

We lost the Viet Nam War. We’ve been fighting in Afghanistan now through three presidential administrations without a result, or any hope of a favorable one. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney might argue that we won the Iraq War, but we didn’t really, and in any case, it turned out to be a spectacularly bad idea. Pull us out of the Middle East and maybe we can talk about it.

There remains the issue of your motivation for this parade. I’m guessing megalomania – your delusions of grandeur. Look, if you really want to get off over a parade, and save a lot of money, go to an Army training base and have the recruits march around in front you to your heart’s content.  

But remember what Medal Honor winner Colonel John Jacobs said about marching, as compared to other aspects of military training: “When you are finished marching, all you have learned to do is march.”

But, if you are hell bent on having this parade (I’m thinking someone will talk or shame you out of it), I suggest you have it on May Day – May 1. Isn’t that the day that Russia and other tin pot dictators and third world despots trot out their military prowess and march it around?

 

Thoughts on Events the Week of January 29

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on February 6, 2018

A Reading by the President: I did not watch the State of the Union address. Like any other scripted speech that Trump reads from a teleprompter, he didn’t mean a word of it, so what’s the point?

And no matter what Trump said about programs, there will be no other spending programs. Why? Because there is no money left for any other programs. Republicans gave it all away already to their very rich donors and large corporations.

Trump talks about spending 1.5 trillion dollars on infrastructure, but if he were serious, he wouldn’t have cut taxes by $1.5 trillion first. It makes no sense, unless you understand that Trump’s only “program” is to enrich himself.

My boycott of the speech may have caused me to miss something special, though. I heard a snippet or two of Joe Kennedy’s response, and it was moving. Also, the red hair notwithstanding, when I looked at him, I saw Bobby, bigger than Dallas. To people my age, that is magical, the possible realization of a dream that was taken from us.

The Bump: Presidents typically experience at least a short-term bump immediately after a State of the Union Speech. Same with Trump; his approval rating increased to 40.2%.

The Memo: I don’t care a fig about this memo. It’s a load of crap, written by a discredited slime ball. What I do care about is this: the memo contained classified information given to the House Intelligence Committee, with the expectation, as with all such information, that it will be held in confidence by the Committee.

Chairman Devin Nunes’ (R-CA) exposing that information betrays and destroys the trust between the intelligence community and Nunes’ Committee, which is charged with having oversight responsibility for it. How can intelligence services – ours, or other countries’ – risk handing classified information over to his committee now?

What happens when Nunes asks for something from the FBI and they say “No?” How can oversight possibly work in this environment? How can that trust be restored. For starters, Nunes should leave the Committee, and the House, altogether. He is beneath contempt.

Super Bowl: I enjoyed this Super Bowl more than any in recent memory. Good game, some excellent performances, good broadcast coverage, and the underdog won despite a great performance by Tom Brady, about whom more below.

Part of the Eagles’ success was doubtless due to the daring of the coach, Doug Pederson. He is more of a risk taker than many others in the NFL. He called one surprising play with fourth and goal at the two rather than take the field goal, which resulted in a touchdown.

The announcers called it astounding, because conventional wisdom is to take the three points, and most coaches would do that, particularly in a high profile game. But if he had taken the field goal and made it, Philly would have been up by six points. A Patriot touchdown would have given them the lead. This way, Philly had a two score lead of 22-12 at the half. Besides, Peterson had a well thought out, unusual but relatively safe play ready for this situation.

Many statisticians have demonstrated that pro coaches tend to play more conservatively than the probabilities suggest they should. One reason could be that NFL teams are so scrutinized by the press that if a coach takes a risk and it goes wrong, he will be second guessed by the press – in this case the Philly press – and his fans – in this case the Philly fans, the ones who booed Santa Claus – mercilessly. It’s safer to do the expected, but not necessarily smarter.

The game provided evidence supporting my position that instant replay doesn’t improve the game but only disrupts the rhythm of it. The review staff had two close sideline boundary calls on touchdown plays. They got one right and blew the other one completely, to the point Chris Collingsworth said about the call and the rule, “I give up!”

If the review booth can’t do better than 50/50 (basically the same as a coin flip), what’s the point? Leave the calls in the hands of the officials. They’re average will be better than that. (BTW, the bad call could have affected the outcome of the game. It gave the Eagles a touchdown they didn’t earn.)

Back to Brady: I read the morning of the game an article with the headline, “Why does everybody hate Tom Brady?” I don’t hate Brady. I admire and respect him. He’s arguably the best quarterback who ever played the game. I don’t think others hate him either. They may think they do, but what they really are feeling is envy and frustration because he wins so much. He keeps other teams out of the Super Bowl, no matter how hard they try, and there is something about us that cheers the underdog, the more so when the favorite has been the favorite for a long time. In my opinion, a true champion is one who wins consistently over time, not a one time winner.

Besides, too many fans base an unhealthy amount of their perceived self-worth on their city’s team. (That’s why, believe it or not, domestic abuse 911 calls spike in a city when its team loses.) I’ll bet any of the “haters,” given the opportunity, would welcome Brady to their team in a heartbeat.

The commercials were better, overall, than in recent memory, too, though there were a couple of real clunkers. Tide spent a ton of money, but used it creatively. The Australia Tourist Bureau commercial was terrific. The NFL made a terrific one for itself, using Ely Manning and Odell Beckham, Jr. in a “Dirty Dancing” spoof post-touchdown celebration dance routine. Every football fan would have found it hilarious.

The Sprint commercial, with AI robots mocking their creator for still using Verizon was excellent, with a good payoff at the end. I’m sure Millennials loved that one.

It was notable that a lot of the commercials were based on themes of inclusiveness, tolerance and respect for one another. Perhaps advertisers sense that consumers feel unsettled by the messages of the Trump administration and will respond positively to some counterpoint.

I didn’t watch the halftime show after learning that Janet Jackson wouldn’t be appearing with him this time. Without Jackson’s bare boobs, Timberlake isn’t that big a draw for me. I’m sure the show was entertaining, but I read there were some sound mix issues.

Status of the States: I’m as happy as a Munchkin relieved of a wicked witch. I give all the worst states a pass this week.

 

First Lady Melania Trump

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on February 3, 2018

There was a piece in last Sunday’s New York Times about Mrs. Melania Trump, praising her quiet radicalism. It was written by a woman who has studied First Ladies and knows a lot about them. I think this particular piece, however is off the mark. Here’s my take:

Mrs. Trump loathes and despises her husband even more than I do, because I don’t have to sleep with him. She married him for money, escape or both, and now she is waiting, more or less impatiently, for him to die. Since his candidacy and presidency have driven them both into the public eye, where Trump’s flaws are humiliatingly visible for everyone to see, and she must obscure her dislike for him publicly as best she can, I suspect her impatience is growing. (Have another cheeseburger and more fries, Donald.)

I infer that their prenuptial agreement excuses infidelities – at least his – or she would have been out of there long ago, and certainly immediately after Trump’s affair with porn star Stormy Daniels hit the tabloids, this story being the first of which I am aware that mentions their then infant son Barron. Mrs. Trump is very protective of him. She can’t have liked that at all.

Barring that “prenup,” she would otherwise be in the Trump Tower apartment changing the locks and the nameplate on the door, and our president would be in the White House, where he should be, or at one of his golf clubs, running up our travel expense account.

Thoughts on Events the Week of January 22

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on January 30, 2018

Davos: It has been reported that President Trump attended World Economic Forum. This is an exaggeration. He was there, but as a surrogate, reading a speech written by someone else, and of which he didn’t believe a word. He knew his base wouldn’t be paying attention, or for that matter couldn’t find Davos on a map.

Other weekly news: There has been a depressing, demoralizing sameness to the news for quite a while now. Malfeasance, misfeasance, corruption and mendacity on display every day. Any one of my Sunday blogs could be copied, pasted and reprinted without my thinking, or your reading, anything really new from me.

Our participation in world events has been fitful when it hasn’t been downright counterproductive. The world has cast its eyes down in disappointment and embarrassment for us, and is moving on. Its judgment in our judgement has been lost after watching us elect President Bush and Trump and seeing how we opposed and obstructed President Obama.

Domestically, our own institutions are under stress. The Executive Branch has shed world worthy professional talent like dandruff and filled cabinet positions with high functioning morons unqualified and/or downright hostile to the functioning of their own departments. Rick Perry. Really? Beverly De Voss. Really? Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions? You have got to be kidding!

The Executive staff is comprised of as many military generals as a third world junta. Our president is clearly a self-aggrandizing wannabe authoritarian dictator.

Our Legislative Branch ceased functioning in 2003, if not before, and there are fewer backbones in both chambers combined than in a water droplet of amoebae. Rather than perform its functions, it hesitates, stalls, avoids and even abets the overreaching, nefarious and even criminal actions of the Executive.

Legislators are so venal and so addicted to mana from rich plutocrats and large corporations that they bend to their greedy whims until our laws are tilted to funnel all the money to the donors, in hopes the donors will return enough shekels to the addicts to get re-elected. As if the very rich aren’t very rich enough, the legislators and Trump just gave another $1.4 Trillion dollars to them, which we and future citizens will have to pay for. No wonder the stock market is soaring, while economic growth and wages are still on the steady upward slope Obama worked for eight years to create.

The House is run by a malevolent numbskull who despises the people he represents and wants only to punish rather than serve them. The Senate is run by a faux institutionalist who has as much respect for the rules of his chamber as the president does for the Executive.

The Judicial Branch is being repurposed to consider the issues of the 19th Century.

Religious leaders have shed every fiber of principles for which they are supposed to stand. They have renounced moral leadership for I don’t know what, and may the Devil turn on them.

The Fourth Estate, awaking from a slumber of fecklessness, is trying to do its job well for a change, but it is struggling against constant attack on its very charter.

Now for the good news…wait, there isn’t any, with the possible exception of Meghan Markle.

Status of the States: Kansas gets the cup this week, with an assist from the Trump Administration. You remember Kansas Governor Sam Brownback? The worst and least popular governor in the union, and evangelical religious wingnut.

Brownback sold gullible, irrationally conservative Kansans the Kool-Aid that lowering taxes drastically would stimulate amazing economic growth, and promised to make Kansas the “Red State Model” for this theory of voodoo economics.

He slashed taxes to the bone, with the predictable result that the state’s revenues plummeted, deficits soared and the state was in the economic toilet. Kansans, naturally, elected him to a second term.

Finally, things got so bad that even Kansans had enough. The legislator restored the taxes, Brownback vetoed the bill, and the legislator overrode his veto. The ignominious end to the red state model’s utter failure.

Brownback will resign before the end of his term, on January 31, because he was named Ambassador-at-Large for the Office of International Religious Freedom by the Trump Administration, effective January 24. It was a close call. The Senate vote was 49-49, with Vice President Mike Pence, an equally wacko religious wingnut, casting the tying vote. A real vote of confidence for Brownback.

You are doubtless wondering, “What does the Office of International Religious Freedom do?” “Is this even a thing?” It was created by another religious wing nut, President George W. Bush in 1995. It’s part of the State Department. So, while we have many vacant ambassadorships to major foreign countries, we do have Ambassador-at-Large Brownback. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson must be so proud.

The ORIF webpage says its mission is “promoting religious freedom as a core objective of U.S. foreign policy.” Is that really a core objective of our foreign policy? Is this office even Constitutional? It seems like a conservative attempt to nudge church and state together, which the Constitution forbids.

But, if we are going to have such an office, Brownback is the guy to run it. He is a religious extremist, and he is very likely to run it into the ground.

 

 

Women on the March

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on January 24, 2018

From the very first day after Trump’s inauguration, to the anniversary of his first year in office, women marched in astronomical numbers to protest Trump’s election and his policies. You may know about this. It’s been in all the papers.

This activism begs the question where were women on Election Day? Well, maybe not these marching women specifically, but women in general. I’ll tell you where: Too many of them were at home. Others were at their voting places, and 53% of the white ones were voting for Donald J. Trump. I hold white women, who knew what a pussy grabbing misogynist they were voting for, responsible for electing Trump.

This marching is all well and good, but I’m waiting to see what women will do at the next actual election, when it really counts. Until then, this is all on you, ladies.

 

CORRECTION: In my latest Sunday Blog, I mischaracterized Stormy Daniels, the women with whom our President had an affair and then paid $130,000 in hush money to cover it up, as a “stripper.” This is incorrect. She is a “porn star.” Miss Daniels does not strip on stage; she fucks on film. I regret the error. Note: what Miss Daniels and President Trump do together remains a matter of indifference to me.

 

Much Ado About Not Much

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on January 23, 2018

Senate Democrats caved on its plan to shut down the government in order to get a clean DACA vote.  You know it. I know it. Everybody knows it. To say I am unimpressed, understates my mood.

The good news is this illustrates that Democrats really are less mean-spirited and hardhearted than Republicans. The bad news is that they couldn’t hold firm to help innocent Dreamers. If they can’t do that, it begs the question what will they stand firm for?

Schumer “extracted” a “promise,” or at least an “intention” from Majority Leader McConnell to take up a Dreamer bill before the next shut down deadline of February 8. That and a dollar will get you a small cup of coffee at McDonald’s. McConnell’s promises are worthless as tits on a boar hog. His intentions toward Democrats are worse than that and never good. I wouldn’t trust him with my burnt matchsticks.

Actually, there is true good news in this. The continuing resolution legislation extends the CHIP program for six years. I didn’t understand that at first, and this is a really good thing. I thought it was one of two things Democrats were striking for. I can accept a little better now why it was hard to keep Dems together. They had gotten half of what I thought they wanted. The Dreamers bill will succeed eventually. It is the right thing to do. If it doesn’t, there will be that many more Republican seats lost in 2018 and it can be done in the next Congress.

The final loose end to ponder is this: if the CHIP extension was part of the continuing resolution, why did Democrats shut down the government in the first place? It seems like a big, risky gamble for a comparatively small prize, which is likely to be won soon anyway.

Bottom line, though: Democrats looked like Republicans say they are; weak and not able to play hard ball.

Thoughts on Events the Week of January 15

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on January 22, 2018

Have we hit bottom yet?: Last week will surely go down as one of our low points in governance.

The Budget AND Immigration?: Our  Republican-controlled  (keep that in mind) Congress, which has been dysfunctional, incompetent, impotent and cowardly for a decade or more, decided to take on two major issues at once and very quickly. (Apparently they are becoming like Trump, to whom everything is easy, if you don’t waste time giving it any thought.) It was bound to end badly, and it did…with a government shutdown.

Immediately, and I mean within minutes after the failed vote, both parties began blaming the other and calling each other names, not perhaps the best way to improve comity for a restart.

Democrats and Republicans, even in this febrile, partisan pressure cooker, tried more or less in good faith to negotiate an agreement. After all, President Trump said bring him an agreement and he’d sign it, whatever it is. But when Republican and Democratic Senators did so last Tuesday, he rejected it, throwing things into chaos, hardening already bitter feelings, and destroying all trust.

There are presently three “parties” in America: Republicans, Democrats and Trump’s base, basically rabid right flank Republicans. Trump will always align with this base (keep that in mind). They were largely responsible for getting him elected, and he loves their adoration – which means our government is run by a minority of far right reactionaries who are more angry and irrational than educated or informed.

It is reported that Trump rejected the negotiated agreement over the DACA clause because his base hates immigrants of any color except perhaps white.

I may be the greater fool here, but I am not so sure that, as is claimed, politicians have no incentive to compromise with their opposite party. True, the parties are dug in, but by now, voters of both have got to be sick and tired of the gridlock. If politicians would move on ideas that are very popular with voters of both parties, such as DACA and Chip, instead of holding them hostage to ideas that are anathema to the other side, I think voters would think better of them.

I am truly offended when I hear the so called Dreamers smeared as illegal immigrants by Republican leaders. They are no such thing. They are undocumented, but they are not illegal.

Dreamers did not sneak into the country. They came as young, innocent children, holding the hand of their parents or relatives when they crossed the border, just as they would if they were being helped crossing a street, trusting and obeying their adults.

The Dreamers have now lived here for years and have grown up to be productive, tax paying citizens. What more do they have to do to be recognized and accepted by Trump’s hyper-xenophobic base?

Parting Partisan Shot: unless and until they get DACA and Chip agreements, the Democrats would be out of their minds to agree to a continuing resolution lasting beyond the State of the Union Address. Let the shutdown hang around the neck of the President when he gives his speech.

The President and the Stripper: It’s not exactly Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe in The Prince and the Showgirl, but apparently Trump hooked up with a woman who strips by the name of Stormy Daniels, and paid her $130,000 just before his election to reverse roles and keep her mouth shut.

To be clear, I don’t care who Trump is fooling around with. It’s his business and none of my own…unless it affects his job performance. (I will forever retain the image of President Clinton getting a blow job from Miss Lewinski while working the phones with Congresspersons. That’s compartmentalization!)

Now, if Miss Daniels were a Russian operative and Trump’s dalliance with her was being used to influence his behavior on the job (read blackmail him), that would be another thing entirely.

Football: The Patriots v Jaguars game was well worth watching. New England gave another spectacular come from behind performance to win it in the last quarter. I define true champions as those who win over time, not just now and then, or just once. New England is the Archetype of this, as Dallas used to be. My hat is off to them.

The Eagles v Vikings game went about as I expected, though oddly far differently than the odds makers expected when they made Philadelphia a 2 ½ point dog, AT HOME. What were they thinking? It was only by one highly improbable, miracle play that the Vikings were there at all. The Eagles were the better team. What’s more, both teams were playing with their backup quarterback, and Philadelphia’s is much better than Minnesota’s.

More important, my beloved Oklahoma Sooners signed TWO Five Star football recruits for next season, one a defensive end – existential in a passing conference -, and the other an offensive lineman big enough to play two positions at once.

Status of the States: I’ve been too sick with a bad cold this week to follow state level shenanigans. No winner declared.

Thoughts on Events the Week of January 8

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on January 19, 2018

The President of the United States: is a racist bigot. You know it. I know it. Everybody knows it. The “Shithole countries” slur is only further evidence, as if any were needed.

Many, perhaps most, of Trump’s base thinks like Trump does. We may infer this, because Republican lawmakers are silent as the grave about Trump’s racist, xenophobic outburst. Not one has called him out. Two Republican Senators in the room at the time deny it was ever said, which requires lying through their teeth. Republican politicians know Trump’s voters, and they are terrified of standing up to Trump for fear of offending Trump’s base.

(Note: a very good friend and fellow blogger, The Wizard, writes that racism had little to do with motivating Trump’s base, but the evidence is piling up against this position.)

Trump got one thing right, at least partially. Some of the countries to which he alluded are unfortunate states, indeed. Some we might call “failed states.” They are ravaged by drought, storms, corruption and other misfortunes and failures. Presumably, that’s the reason people want to leave them.

But Trump wasn’t talking about the countries, was he? No, he was talking about the human beings who live in them and want to leave them for a chance at a better life.

Perhaps I am the greater fool here. I have read the documents, both official and spiritual, which are the cornerstones of our country’s laws. They espouse freedom and liberty and equality, and condemn discrimination, and I have believed in them. I have studied the history and economics of immigration and concluded to my own satisfaction that our country is a net beneficiary of in-migration to a very great degree. Immigration is, in large measure, what makes us great.

I am ashamed that our president speaks for our country. I am embarrassed that he speaks to and for so many of us. But he does not speak for me.

North and South Korea: While Trump was insulting one and criticizing the other, the two Koreas got together to discuss the upcoming Winter Olympics. North Korea committed to attending the games, and the two countries will march in together during the opening ceremony. I predict they will get a loud, welcoming reception.

More important, the Koreas agreed that after the Olympics they might get together to discuss more parochial political issues. Update: North Korea announced that it will send a “performance group” to the games, presumably to sing and/or dance during the festivities.

I wish each Korea’s team good luck. I dislike seeing the Olympics used as a political tool. It is counterproductive and unfair to the athletes. Ask Jimmy Carter. The Olympics is an opportunity to rise above politics and express our global good will and citizenship.

This is another example, a significant one, of the consequences of Trump’s America First policy. The world seems to have decided that during Trump’s presidency, America is as useless as tits a boar hog and are moving on without us, more in sadness and disappointment than anger, but with animus toward our president.

In this specific instance, the two countries moving on together without us are one of our greatest adversaries and one of our closest allies. This should give thinking people pause. We may discover one day that humanity’s parade has passed us and we are standing on the curb alone, waving a tattered and forgotten flag.

Humans in Hawai’i: In a related story, residents and tourists in the Aloha State got a warning that a nuclear missile had been launched at them from North Korea. Turned out to be a false alarm, but not before causing a considerable amount of angst, not to mentions pants peeing. It was human error.

As long as human beings are involved, there will be human error at some point. It’s impractical to remove all the humans humanely, which is another excellent reason to remove the missiles.

The President and the Hooker: I’m skeptical about the story that Trump paid a woman $130,000 to keep her quiet about their tryst. I’m not skeptical about the hooker, just the money. Trump is famous for skipping out on his debts. (I wonder what Melania thinks about all this. BTW, my spell checker still doesn’t recognize “Melania” as a word. What’s up with that?)

Football: Though my Dallas Cowboys are no longer in the hunt (participation is reserved for the better teams), the NFL playoffs are well worth watching. The format narrows the field progressively to the best teams, and unlike the regular season, each game is always “win or go home.” The teams all play with serious purpose, and it produces some excellent games, not to mention some really good commercials and perhaps a (brief but unmistakable) look at Janet Jackson’s bare tit at the end.

(Did I just use the word “tit” twice in the same blog?)

Status of the States: Another friend writes that Iowa should be added to the worst states, because Iowa’s Republican Senator Chuck Grassley teamed with Lindsay Graham to ask the DOJ to investigate the author of the infamous “dossier,” which won SC the cup last week. Below is my response to why this can’t be:

“I didn’t include Senator Grassley – who, I agree with you is a sorry excuse for a politician – he was on the judiciary committee that smeared Anita Hill for Clarence Thomas, after all – because Iowa doesn’t qualify as a “Worst State.” Iowa is far from a good state, but it does take its responsibility in presidential primary elections seriously, even though it is not demographically qualified.

The worst states are limited to the bottom 10% (ish): Alabama, Arizona, Kansas, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas. On rare occasions, one worst state is replaced by a newly worse one. Mississippi was eliminated and replaced by Alabama. I ponder on occasion replacing South Carolina with its northern namesake.”