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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.”

 

Thoughts on Events the Week of January 1, 2018

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on January 7, 2018

Auld Lang Syne: We must infer that President Trump made no New Year’s resolutions, because, with one change worth mentioning, he began the New Year just like he ended the previous one. In fact, it seemed more like Ground Hog’s Day than New Year’s Day.

Day one began with vulgar tweets, gratuitous insults, obvious lies, foreign policy malfeasance, shiny object distractions about Hillary Clinton and, of course, another childish dick measuring contest with North Korea.

Meanwhile, South Korea called North Korea and said let’s talk. Trump bragged that his tough talk is what provoked this call (note: from our ally to our adversary and not the other way around), and in a way this is true. Both sides have now concluded that Trump is worthless, if not dangerous, and have decided to move on without us. The results could end up being an unpleasant surprise.

The new wrinkle regards Pakistan, and to my utter amazement, I agree with Trump’s cutting off aid to Pakistan, because they are double dealing with us over Afghanistan.

To remind everyone: we don’t give foreign aid to countries in the Middle East. We make foreign purchases. We pay them for things:  fly-over access, land for bases, etc. But we do not get our money’s worth in Pakistan and never have. We should cut them off.

Basically, Pakistan is just another pile of rocks beside the pile of rocks that is Afghanistan, only with nukes. You can’t really tell where one ends and the other begins. In this, Pakistan is like North Korea; a nuclear-armed wasteland, otherwise unworthy of attention. We have lived with Pakistan for a long time. We will do the same with North Korea…unless it unites with South Korea and allies with China.

Perhaps one day, Trump will realize that the waste of money on Pakistan is true for the entire region, and the less we are involved, financially and militarily, the better.

The foreign policy malfeasance occurred when Trump piled on Iran’s government, siding with the protesters there. If ever there was a time to lie low, say nothing and let the situation play out, this was it. Trump’s interference only gives the mullahs the excuse to blame “outside influences,” for the protests and crack down on them. In fact, Trump’s involvement gives the mullahs more than an excuse of outside influences. It gives them the fact of it. What a fool our president be.

Football: My New Year’s Day was a dud, because my beloved Oklahoma Sooners lost its Championship Playoff game against Georgia 54 to 48.

Oklahoma dominated the first half. The Bulldogs made adjustments at half time, in tactics or spirit or both, and took over the game. They dominated Oklahoma in the third quarter, tied it in the fourth and beat us in two overtimes.

It was a painful loss, but an exciting game. I am absolutely confident that the four best teams made it to the Playoffs this year. The country thinks so too. There was almost no bitching about the choices. More indicative: TV ratings were up 26% over last year for the two playoff games.

My final take: When a team scores 48 points against a running team, it should win the goddamn football game. OU led the game in every offensive category. But the defense gave up touchdowns on runs of 75, 50, 38 and 27 yards, among others. This is unacceptable defense. It has been unacceptable all year, and it cost us in the end. Changes must be made.

The NFL’s regular season ended this week. As usual, a number of coaches were fired and are available, almost all of whom are better than the current Cowboy’s coach. I’m just sayin’. If Bill Belichick walks away from the Patriots, he will be able to write his own ticket anywhere, but he is way too smart ever to agree to work for Jerry Jones.

Status of the States: South Carolina wins the cup this week, due, as it often is, to the antics of their erratic but always hawkish Senator Lindsay Graham (R). He, along with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), a downright sleazy one, collaborated on a smarmy scheme to create a distraction for Trump, by asking the DOJ to investigate the British former spy who prepared the dossier involved in the Trump-Russia collusion investigation; a classic case of smearing the messenger to divert attention from the message.

Thoughts on Events the Week of December 18

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on December 30, 2017

Tax Overhaul Bill Becomes Law: The Republican-controlled Congress and White House passed their tax overhaul bill, and deemed it the biggest “win” since, well, ever, according to the president. Republican Congresspersons then rushed to kiss the president’s ass and gushed to tell him that he is the greatest leader since Alexander the Great, only greater.

Republicans, reporters and pundits have used the word “win” incessantly in the run up to the passing of this bill. It seems a word out of joint with the circumstances. It implies that governance is a zero sum game. Governance isn’t a game at all, and if there is a prize, it is not to notch a win, but to do something to help citizens. I prefer a word such as achievement.

And, the bill begs the question is it really a win even as Republicans define one? The bill is significantly upside down in popularity. Almost 85% of the tax break benefits go to large corporations and those already way too rich. The bill also damages Obamacare, the repeal of which the public viciously rejected earlier this year. People are going to figure this out.

In my view, this worst thing about this bill I have not heard discussed. It involves the Republican lie that American corporations are the highest taxed in the world, which is utter nonsense. There are so many loopholes written into our tax laws for special interest groups that not even a corporation run by a moron would pay the posted tax rate of 35%. In practice, our rates are competitive.

Well, now our posted rate has been lowered to 21%, an extremely hefty tax savings. But, there is nothing in the legislation I can find that eliminates any of those loopholes that rendered the 35% rate a joke, only more depreciation benefits. With the rate lowered and the loopholes remaining, again, not even a corporation run by a moron will pay the 21%.

Until almost the last minute, I was confident this bill would not pass, first because it is so bad, and second because six Republican Senators said they were opposed to it. Every one of them caved and voted Yes. Let’s consider a few of them.

We’ll begin with Bob Corker (R-TN) who opposes Trump and Trumpism. Trump’s base turned on him so strongly that Corker announced that he would not seek another term. He also said that he would vote No on any tax overhaul bill that added a single dollar to the deficit. (Trump’s will add at least $1.4 billion of them.)

But Republicans added a bribe clause that gives Corker a big tax break on his real estate investments (it helps Trump in the same way), and Corker voted Yes on the bill. So much for fiscal conservative principles.

Then there is the aptly named Jeff Flake (R-AZ). Very similar story for Flake: opposed Trump, attacked by the base, will not run again. He owes Trump less than nothing. Called the tax overhaul bill all kinds of names and then voted Yes on it.

The other Arizona Senator, the senile senior one – John McCain – voted No on the repeal vote, but said he would vote Yes on the tax bill, even though it damages Obamacare. In the event, he missed the vote, because he was home being treated for his brain cancer and/or to die.

Marco Rubio (R-FL) blustered he wouldn’t vote for this bill, then used a couple of meaningless amendments as an excuse to vote Yes. He’s still not ready for his big boy pants.

Finally, let’s not forget Susan Collins (R-ME), who voted No on repeal and vowed to vote No on the tax bill. In the end, she voted Yes, because, she said, she was given assurances some healthcare improvements would be added. When they weren’t added, she still voted Yes, but claimed she was betrayed. Sorry, Susan, but it’s too late to be courageous or principled now.

All of these Senators were for sale, and at a discount, on a tax bill that rewards the already rich, damages healthcare, runs up the deficit and generally screws everybody else. Shame on all of them.

Football: I did not watch the Cowboys’ loss to the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, but it must have been a dismal showing. The Cowboys lost 12 to 21, and have missed the playoffs, again. Teams that score only 12 points or fewer lose a depressingly high percentage of such games. Tom Landry told his defenses that if they held the opponent to 17 points, they would win the game, and he was right.

The Cowboys have gone as far as they can go with this coaching staff. They will go no farther until they change it.

Status of the States: Arizona gets the cup this week, because uniquely among red states, both senators said they would vote No on the tax bill and then caved.

 

Thoughts on Events the Week of December 4

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on December 14, 2017

Inappropriate Sexual Behavior: In perhaps record time, Congress has shifted from the sublime to the ridiculous, from abhorring the possible election of a sexual pervert, to rejecting anyone who has so much as kissed a girl, but Republicans still supporting the pervert. What hypocrisy.

In my view, Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), a usually sober and industrious Senator, made a fool of herself when she said we must draw a line, and any behavior on the other side of it must be treated equally. I’m sorry, Senator Gillibrand, but that’s a long way from justice. Just for starters, putting moves on a grown woman and putting moves on a 14 year old girl are not the same thing.

Things are in a confusing state of flux on this issue, obviously, but we already know that Congress is utterly incapable of judging its own members. It’s all political calculations with them. Perhaps we should just leave justice to the voters of individual states (state’s rights advocates should love this), and the law.

So, if Alabama votes Roy Moore into the Senate, they get the senator they want, and therefore deserve. Likewise, if the voters of the good state of Minnesota think Senator Franken has crossed a line rendering him unworthy of being their senator, they can recall him or vote him out at the next regular election, and not let his fate be decided by New York Senator Gillibrand.

Sudden thought: Perhaps overwrought sexual frenzy is moving us closer to a Parliamentary form of government without our noticing (Britain loves a good political sex scandal as much as we do). I suspect President Trump would be thrown out of office in a heartbeat today if it were possible.

Jobs and Tax Overhaul: The government reported that 228,000 jobs were created in November, more than economists expected. The unemployment rate remains at 4.1%, meaning that people are returning to the workforce and finding jobs. Wages increased 2.8% over the last year, which is not great yet, but it is not stagnant either. It is enough that the Federal Reserve is signaling that it plans to raise interest rates over at least the next two meetings.

So, why? Why do we need, or why would we even want, a tax cut now? How many jobs could it possibly create? What could it stimulate except inflation? What’s the point of risking higher inflation when the Fed has already signaled it will take action to force it down? The tax cut and the Fed will be working at cross purposes.

The answer to these questions, of course, it that the bill being debated in Congress at present isn’t a tax cut bill at all. It is a scam to pay off rich donors, or bribe to recruit more, regardless of what damage it does to our economy and our citizens. This bill should be dropped like a hot potato right now.

Football: Technically, this happened the last day of the week before, but the four college football teams were selected and my beloved Oklahoma Sooners were one of them. In fact, OU rose to #2 in the national rankings. The final four are: Clemson, Oklahoma, Georgia and Alabama, in that order.

Based on the final week of play (Army-Navy doesn’t really count), I expected Ohio State to be the fourth team in, given that they beat an undefeated Wisconsin team and thereby won the Big Ten Championship. They the committee felt that Alabama, despite not even making the SEC Championship game, was judgmentally the better team.

There will always be some level of disagreement with the final four playoff list. If we have four teams, the fifth will be disappointed. If we had eight teams, it will be the ninth, and so on and so on.

That’s one nice thing, among many, about the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Lots of teams get to play for it, and no one can complain about the winner being the champion. As a practical matter, I’m confident that after the football playoffs end, no one will complain that the winner is the national champion either. And, it could be Oklahoma. Boomer Sooner!

Baker Mayfield: The OU quarterback has earned his own bold type heading, having won the Player of the Year Award, The Maxwell Award, the Davey O’Brien Award, the Walter Camp Award and the Heisman Trophy. I’m beginning to think there may be a conspiracy to load Baker down with so much hardware that he gets a hernia and has to miss the game. But he can handle it.

Since there was only one game of importance to me this weekend – The Dallas Cowboys beat the New York Giants 30-10 – I had more time to think about it. Here are my takeaways:

Skip Bayless is absolutely right that Sean Lee is the heart and the glue of the Dallas Defense. He was back after missing four games with an injury, and you never saw someone so happy to be back on the field or a defense to have him back. He was on the Giants like a duck on a June bug. He made tackles, broke up passes and had an interception.

Dallas’ next game is against Oakland Sunday night, which will also be the last game of Zeke Elliot’s suspension. The Cowboys should have an appreciation ceremony at midfield for Alfred Morris for filling in admirably in Elliot’s absence. Morris, certainly no slouch of a running back himself, held the position together. Without him, things could have been a lot uglier.

Dak Prescott threw for 332 yards and three touchdowns, which shows you can still perform (and learn) during a sophomore slump. In fact, I submit that quarterbacks learn a lot their second year. They have a year of experience, so they see things from a more informed perspective. They learn more from their mistakes because they are in a position to analyze them more intelligently. I predict Dak, who already does so much so well, will have an extraordinary year three.

One thing Dak seemed to figure out in the fourth quarter against New York is, when the game is on the line, put the ball in the hands of your play makers. Dak got game winning, back breaking plays from Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley and Jason Witten. They were all heavily defended all game, but Dak kept giving them throws and each player eventually paid off for him, as such players do.

Finally, it must be credited to the coaching staff that their radical, risky decision turn over the entire defensive backfield is beginning to pay off handsomely. These new kids on the back are talented, aggressive and learning fast. We should accept that we may see a sophomore slump from some of them next year, but before too long, they are going to be as formidable as our offensive line, and as our defensive line is beginning to be. How ‘bout them Cowboys?!

Status of the States: Alabama, because, well, if you don’t know, I won’t be able to explain it to you.

Thoughts on Events the Week of November 27

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on December 6, 2017

Only two events happened last week that were important to me: the tax overhaul vote and the NCAA Football playoff finalists. Each was sufficiently important that I gave each a separate blog, beginning with:

Tax Overhaul: The United States Senate, under the leadership of the immoral Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, passed its version of the tax overhaul bill 51 to 49. This version will be resolved with the House version, which resolution will constitute the most putrid pile of pig parts in tax legislation history.

I wasn’t born yesterday; far from it. I have seen smarmy tax legislation before, designed to favor a specific industry, business or even individual. But this bill isn’t a tax bill at all. It is a deliberate plan to take an inconceivably large amount of money from average Americans and give it to the very top one percent of wealthy Americans and to large corporations. To do this, it will borrow an enormous amount of money that will run up our national debt, and screw absolutely everybody else. This takes the cake.

Here are just a few of the odious elements and results of this legislation:

Promoted by Republicans as a middle class tax cut, it is no such thing. Eighty percent (80%) of the tax savings will go to the wealthiest individuals and large corporations, which savings will be permanent! Meanwhile, it will give piddling amounts of tax savings to middle class earners, but only temporarily; by 2025, taxes on them will begin to rise.

Republicans have trotted out that old chestnut of Trickle Down economics, promising that Corporations will create growth that will “trickle down” to workers; this is a debunked canard. It won’t happen. If we want middle classes to have a tax cut, give the cut to them directly. It’s much more efficient, and they will spend it. There’s no guarantee corporations will spend their tax savings at all, except on bonuses and dividends. But that is just the point of this bill.

It is estimated conservatively that this bill will add one trillion dollars to our national debt over 10 years. In effect, we will be borrowing an obscene amount of money to be paid by future tax payers to give to our very wealthiest, who already have more money than they can spend.

Conservatives are right about one thing. Our debt level is already too high at present. But they are abandoning their principles entirely to kiss the asses of their rich donors at the expense of their constituents.

In theory, we should deficit spend during economic downturns to stimulate the economy, then repay in times of economic growth. Deficit spending made sense in 2009, after the Bush Administration ran the economy into the Great Recession ditch, but the economy is growing now, and we are almost at full employment (admittedly, wages are stagnant, but that will improve). We should be raising taxes now, especially on the wealthiest, not cutting them.

Republicans say we have the highest corporate tax rate in the world. This is a cruel canard. There are so many loopholes written into our Byzantine tax laws that nobody pays the 35% “official” tax rate. Our actual rates are competitive.

This bill as currently written taxes education by making graduate student stipends taxable, which is crazy. Education is the best way to prepare people to earn more and grow the economy. This bill stunts it.

This bill damages Obamacare by eliminating the coverage mandate, the very foundation of the concept of insurance.

And on and on. This legislation is the most bald-faced theft of our money and our future since the Gilded Age. It is amazing it has gotten this far.

Status of the States: Arizona, my own personal state, gets the worst state cup this week, due to the inexcusable and inexplicable behavior of our two U.S. Senators, who voted for the tax overhaul bill.

The aptly named Senator Flake is a self-proclaimed deficit hawk, yet he flaked out and voted for a bill that adds a trillion dollars to the deficit. Flake is not running again. He has no constraints and no incentive to support a party and a president who have not supported him. He has opposed Trump repeatedly, yet his last important act will be to support this theft.

John McCain, the senile senior senator from Arizona voted bravely and nobly against the Republican’s repeal and replace healthcare legislation. One of his biggest complaints about the bill was the lack of “proper order” in its development. Yet he voted for this bill whose process is as far away from proper senatorial order as one can possibly imagine. This is probably his last important senatorial act also. What a disappointment.

Thoughts on Events the week of November 20

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on November 30, 2017

Roy Moore and the religious right: Evangelicals in Alabama have rallied around Roy Moore in response to accusations of sexual assault of a minor and other age-inappropriate young women by the Republican senatorial candidate, in ways that brought shame to themselves, exposed the hypocrisy of their extreme religion(s) and embarrassment to their hidebound state.

What warped and twisted morality! Is it Christian to say you prefer a pedophile to a Democrat for Senator? Is it even sane to compare Moore’s behavior to that of Mary and Joseph?

Perhaps the political power and influence the religious right has gained is a test by God to see if they are truly believers, which the religious right is failing egregiously. Just kidding. I don’t believe in any of that stuff. But I do believe these people have slipped their ethical moorings completely, if indeed they even had any.

Frankly, this is pretty much what I have come to expect from the religious right for some time, at least back to Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and that loopy lot.

Sudden Thought: What in the hell was Argentina doing with a submarine anyway?

Football: On Thanksgiving Day, my Dallas Cowboys were the turkeys, losing ugly to the Los Angeles Chargers, 28 to six. This time, Dallas didn’t play hard or well even in the first half. They just quit. I doubt they’ll win another game. When will the Jones boys admit that their head coach is never going to win them anything and move on?

Oklahoma Sooners’ head coach Lincoln Riley double punished quarterback Baker Mayfield for his antics the previous week against Kansas. He took away Mayfield’s captaincy for his final home game at Norman and didn’t let him start the first offensive series. This punishment was overwrought in my view.

First, it put the entire spotlight on Mayfield, and left the Jayhawk’s behavior completely off the hook. Note: the four Kansas Captains who would not shake hands with Mayfield at the coin toss lost their captaincies for their last home game also (though they received no on- field punishment) and you don’t hear a thing about them. For the record, these bad sports are: Dorance Armstrong, Daniel Wise, Joe Dineen and Jeremiah Booker. Hasan Defense, the defensive back who gave Mayfield the cheap shot did not lose any playing time.

The University of Kansas athletic department, to its credit, apologized to Oklahoma, but you didn’t hear anything about that either.

Second, I do not believe in punishing the whole team and potentially risking its opportunities, for the misbehavior of one player, which Riley did by keeping the starting quarterback out of the game for a series. Losing the captaincy affected Mayfield alone and was punishment enough.

In the event, it didn’t matter. Tyler Murray was in for Mayfield for the first series, and led OU to a touchdown in two plays. (Murray will most likely succeed Mayfield as the starting quarterback next season.)

The punishment did seem to motivate Mayfield and the rest of the team. They pounded West Virginia into the dirt, 59-31, but the beat down was much worse than the score. OU left the Mountaineers for dead in the first half, 45-10 and rested their starters for most of the second half. Riley even had the team take a knee at the opponents’ three yard line for the last minute and a quarter of the game, when they might have scored again.

Oklahoma will now play TCU, again, for the Big XII Championship. If we win, the Sooners will undoubtedly be in the four team playoff for the National Championship.

But it is difficult to beat a team twice in one season, harder to get up for an opponent the second time when you have already beaten them before.  You can see that in the Las Vegas odds. OU beat TCU by 18 points in the first game and they are only favored by seven for the upcoming one. This awkward Big XII playoff game is more evidence the League has no long-term future, and it will be unfortunate if OU misses the playoffs because of it.

Status of the States: Alabama gets the cup, because: Roy Moore, and his fundamentalist followers.

 

Thoughts on Events the Week of November 6

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on November 19, 2017

Elections: The Sleeping Beauties and the dumb blondes finally awoke and turned out for an election, and it bespoke good news for Democrats. In 2016, 53% of white women voted for Donald Trump. In this election, women began asking themselves what were they thinking?

This was particularly evident in Virginia, where Democrats won all the way down the ticket, in large measure due to turnout of suburban women. Candidates, a majority of them women, ousted pasty white guys from the legislature who had demeaned them during the last election cycle. What a difference a year makes.

The most important, practical implications of Tuesday’s elections are these: Trump’s base of old, uneducated, rural pasty white guys still holds, but they are alone in their loyalty. The election of Trump and the actions of the Republican-controlled legislature has really pissed women off to the point of action. It’s long, long overdue.

Finally, I expect Republican “tax reform” is dead. I doubt a bill will even get to the floor of either chamber. First, it is a screwing and voters won’t stand for it. Second, every Republican legislator in any even remotely competitive state or district, will be loath to continue to vote the way he has been up to now, seeing where it got his Republican colleagues Tuesday.

Guns: I know, I know, I swore not to write again about gun murder until I had something positive upon which to comment, but this loathsome asshole in Texas who murdered 26 innocent church goers with an assault weapon demands comment and condemnation.

How did this sick twist ever get his hands on a pop gun, let alone an AR-47? No rational human being not in the business of selling guns should want to see this happen.

Unlike other gun control advocates who say they don’t want to interfere with your Second Amendment rights, I say fuck your Second Amendment rights, as you interpret them. I want to see the number of guns in America reduced by 95% at a minimum. We have five percent of the world’s population and almost 50% of the worlds privately owned guns. Do the math.

Gun advocates say the answer to our gun violence is more guns with which to protect ourselves, which is insane. Every gun we add increases the probability of gun violence, not reduce it. This is obvious on its face. We have all the guns and we have all the gun violence.

Gun advocates say if we take away their guns only criminals will have guns, but that’s not true. If we take away privately owned guns, some hardened criminals will have guns, but so will the police.

However, as a compromise, I would be willing to live with just taking away assault weapons and instituting background checks, but both must be robust. Background checks must include gun shows and private gun sales. It must be properly managed, not the leaky sieve that let the Texas monster get his hands on one because the Army discharged him for bad conduct and forgot to tell anyone else he was crazy and dangerous, not to mention a violent felon. Jesus!

Football: While other top 10 teams were being upset (including the chronically overrated Notre Dame, who if it never wins another game will be too soon for me, and Georgia, who I thought the committee raised to the #1 spot a little prematurely), the Oklahoma Sooners left TCU for dead in the first half – 38-14 – and spent the second half practicing their running game and giving backups some practice.

I wasn’t completely sanguine with this second half decision. Teams need to learn first that when a team is down is the time to step on their neck. To do otherwise can throw you off rhythm and give the other team hope simultaneously.

But, hey, they proved to everyone, most especially the committee, that they can score at will on anybody, and to the Heisman committee who should get the trophy.

Status of the States: Alabama gets the cup, because: Roy Moore. Need I say more?

 

Thoughts on Events the Week of October 30

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on November 19, 2017

“Tax Reform”: Contrary to the claims of a graduated system, the tax code has become more and more favorable to the already rich over time. The reason our tax laws favor the wealthy, and why they are almost impossible to reform, is that politicians want them to be.

We use taxes to raise the money to run our government. We also use taxes to influence public policy, such as tax breaks for companies to convert to clean energy. Politicians, on the other hand, use taxes as the quid pro quo for the money donors invest in their election campaigns. If the tax code was simple and straight, politicians couldn’t indulge in such shenanigans.

In addition to growing inequality, another effect of tax law degradation, has been less and less revenue raised compared to our actual expenditures. In 2016, our revenues covered only 85% of our spending and we borrowed the other 15%. Try spending 15% more each year than you earn and see how fast you get into significant financial doo doo.

It wasn’t always this bad. Except in extraordinary circumstances, such as the Great Depression and World War II, for instance, we used to try much harder to keep revenues and expenditures in balance, and we used to pay more in taxes than we do now to do so.

Most people were comfortable with paying more taxes because the system seemed fair and most people’s incomes were rising, so though they were paying more taxes, they still had more money.

Then, in 1980, President Ronald Reagan told us that greed is good, and since then, high earners and corporations have been grabbing all the money they can, and scheming to pay less and less in taxes, at the expense of salaried employees and lower income workers.

The results of this trend are easy to see. Incomes are obscenely unequal, and politicians have no incentive to correct them; on the contrary. Wages have stagnated and workers are losing buying power, so they don’t want to raise taxes and are resentful for having to pay what they do.

Given this history, it is ludicrous to think that meaningful tax reform will come out of this Congress. It is equally ludicrous to think that if a tax bill is passed, it will be any fairer than today’s code. Most ludicrous of all is to think that this president, the ultimate grabber in every meaning of the term, is going to do anything but lower his own taxes and nothing that would increase them.

The new tax code draft is already less popular than Congress’ Repeal and Replace bill, and apparently the scoring predicts that there will be a tax increase for about a third of Americans, all middle and lower class workers, of course. The rich will make out like bandits, which, come to think of it, they are.

It will be interesting to see what happens with the tax bill. My guess is that the Republican controlled Congress will pass some kind of tax cut bill, regardless of logic, because many Republican donors have threatened not to donate any more unless they do. (For all I know, Democratic donors may have done the same. Both parties suckle on fat cats’ teats.)

But I also think that the bill could be a tipping point for populist allegiances. You would that that eventually, people are going to figure out that they are being screwed like a tied goat (though it hasn’t happened to Kansans yet).

Football: The Oklahoma Sooners beat Texas Tech 49 to 27, covering the spread of 20 ½ points, but it didn’t feel like that kind of an easy win. Early on, it felt more like a competitive tennis match, with each side holding serve. Tech scored first, then OU, then Tech, then OU and so on. The first six possessions resulted in six straight back and forth touchdowns, painful, frustrating evidence of OU’s defensive deficiencies. At the end of the first quarter, Tech was up 20-14. (Tech missed its first PAT and went chasing that point all night.)

OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops’ initial plan was to rush only three down linemen, but it wasn’t working, so he switched back to mainly a four down lineman set. Gravity returned and OU outscored the Red Raiders 35-7 over the second and third quarters. OU could have scored another touchdown in the scoreless fourth quarter, but Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley was raised right, and he had the team take a knee instead.

Running back Abdul Adams was back on the field after missing three games to injury. He looks to be the best of a good stable to me, but Rodney Anderson was the featured back against Tech and he performed very well.

I’m very disappointed how our defense is playing, and I dread the thought of shootouts with Big XII opponents such as TCU and the Oklahoma Aggies, both of whom have more powerful passing offenses than Tech. Fortunately, we have a better one, and a ground game to go with it. But such games are always risky.

The Dallas Cowboys also won this weekend, beating the Redskins (don’t change your name, Washington) by two touchdowns in a miserable, heavy rain, 33 to 19. Two takeaways from this game are worth a comment.

First, Dallas showed a pass rush, which has been sorely lacking for years. If it continues, it will help the suspect defensive backfield a lot.

Second, when you are playing in miserable conditions, it is an advantage to have a reliable back you can feed the ball and get first downs without turnovers. The Cowboys have such a back and they used him correctly Sunday. Zeke Elliot carried the ball 33 times and 150 yards, which is a 4.5 yard average for those not doing the math. You can eat up a lot of clock picking up 4.5 yards per down.

Dallas Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman was calling the game and said Elliot’s work reminded him of Emmitt Smith’s in such games. I was thinking exactly the same thing, remembering Aikman feeding Smith the ball and occasionally throwing a lethal pass when the defense cheated up to try to stop Smith. Those were the days.

Status of the States: Alabama gets the cup this week, partly on spec. I’ve given Alabama the cup previously just because it gave us Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, perhaps the least fit of Ponzi Don’s cabinet appointments, which is really saying something. It wouldn’t be fair to give it to Alabama for the same reason again. However, I’m giving it to Alabama this time because Sessions was caught up in some lies about his contacts with Russia (which had been obvious to anyone paying attention, but are now corroborated by sworn testimony). My guess is Session’s behavior will make Alabama even more deserving of the cup again soon.

Sudden thought: I’ve been to Russia. Does that qualify me to be in Trump’s cabinet?

Thoughts on Events the Week of October 23

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on November 4, 2017

Indictment: Sir Winston Churchill, writing about his experiences as a young British military officer, said that “Nothing focuses the mind like being shot at without result.”

John Corn of Mother Jones Magazine riffed on that theme, saying “Nothing cuts through distractions like an indictment.” Indictments are real, official and serious as a heart attack.

It was announced at the end of the week that sealed indictments have been filed in court and should be opened and served next week. I welcome this. It will be interesting to see who gets Mueller’s first indictment, and the repercussions.

A budget outline: Sloshing on through the molasses of President Trump’s legal issues and distractions, the Republicans presented a budget outline. A budget is necessary in order to push through “tax reform” with 51 Republicans votes via reconciliation, which is the only prayer in Hell they have to do it.

To say that Republicans are eager to pass a “tax reform” bill is a gross understatement. They say they must pass “tax reform,” because they promised their voters they would. In this, “tax reform” resembles Repeal and Replace Obamacare. That is, Republicans promised they would do it, but it is such a bad idea that they are meeting heavy resistance to getting it done.

The budget outline would decrease total spending by around $1.4 trillion dollars, and it will increase the national debt by at least that much and probably many times more.  For a Party that promises to be fiscally conservative, this prospect doesn’t sit well with many Republican legislators.

This budget includes deep, deep cuts in Medicare and Medicaid, programs extremely popular with, well, just about everyone. In addition, it eliminates very popular middle class tax breaks as well.

Let’s stop here for a moment and recognize that the Republican’s “tax reform” bill isn’t reform at all. It isn’t even a tax bill. It is a tax cut bill. Its sole purpose is to give very rich people a whole lot of money.

Why, you might ask, would Republicans accept a truly cruel and irresponsible budget for the purpose of getting through a fraudulent and irresponsible tax cut? Spoiler alert: It has absolutely nothing to do with their promising one to their base. They are flat out lying about that. Nor do Republican legislators believe that giving rich people more money will drive economic expansion. That’s a debunked canard.

The reason Republicans want this huge giveaway to the rich is because rich people are the donors from whom they get the money to get re-elected. These donors have invested a ton of money on these Republicans and they want a good return on their investment. This is how Republicans pay them back with our money. I will have more thoughts on taxes after we see an actual bill.

Football: The Oklahoma Sooners beat Texas Tech 49 to 27, covering the spread of 20 ½ points, but it didn’t feel like that kind of an easy win. Early on, it felt more like a competitive tennis match, with each side holding serve. Tech scored first, then OU, then Tech, then OU and so on. The first six possessions resulted in six straight back and forth touchdowns, painful, frustrating evidence of OU’s defensive deficiencies. At the end of the first quarter, Tech was up 20-14. (Tech missed its first PAT and went chasing that point all night.)

OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops’ initial plan was to rush only three down linemen, but it wasn’t working, so he switched back to mainly a four down lineman set. Gravity returned and OU outscored the Red Raiders 35-7 over the second and third quarters. OU could have scored another touchdown in the scoreless fourth quarter, but Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley was raised right, and he had the team take a knee instead.

Running back Abdul Adams was back on the field after missing three games to injury. He looks to be the best of a good stable to me, but Rodney Anderson was the featured back against Tech and he performed very well.

I’m very disappointed how our defense is playing, and I dread the thought of shootouts with Big XII opponents such as TCU and the Oklahoma Aggies, both of whom have more powerful passing offenses than Tech. Fortunately, we have a better one, and a ground game to go with it. But such games are always risky.

The Dallas Cowboys also won this weekend, beating the Redskins (don’t change your name, Washington) by two touchdowns in a miserable, heavy rain, 33 to 19. Two takeaways from this game are worth a comment.

First, Dallas showed a pass rush, which has been sorely lacking for years. If it continues, it will help the suspect defensive backfield a lot.

Second, when you are playing in miserable conditions, it is an advantage to have a reliable back you can feed the ball and get first downs without turnovers. The Cowboys have such a back and they used him correctly Sunday. Zeke Elliot carried the ball 33 times and 150 yards, which is a 4.5 yard average for those not doing the math. You can eat up a lot of clock picking up 4.5 yards per down.

Dallas Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman was calling the game and said Elliot’s work reminded him of Emmitt Smith’s in such games. I was thinking exactly the same thing, remembering Aikman feeding Smith the ball and occasionally throwing a lethal pass when the defense cheated up to try to stop Smith. Those were the days.

Status of the States: Alabama gets the cup this week, partly on spec. I’ve given Alabama the cup previously just because it gave us Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, perhaps the least fit of Ponzi Don’s cabinet appointments, which is really saying something. It wouldn’t be fair to give it to Alabama for the same reason again. However, I’m giving it to Alabama this time because Sessions was caught up in some lies about his contacts with Russia (which had been obvious to anyone paying attention, but are now corroborated by sworn testimony). My guess is Session’s behavior will make Alabama even more deserving of the cup again soon.

Sudden thought: I’ve been to Russia. Does that qualify me to be in Trump’s cabinet?

Thoughts on Events the Week of October 16

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on October 29, 2017

Who’s deadest?: This week, after four American soldiers were shot and killed in an ambush in Niger, the government and the media debated what is the best way to console the families of those who have been killed in our perpetual wars.  President Trump said he sends the best sympathy letters and makes the best and most phone calls to gold star families of any president ever. Others disagree.

If we really want to honor the lives of our soldiers, my recommendation is that we don’t send them into our unnecessary battles in the first place. To me, the president who sends the fewest letters and makes the fewest phone calls – ideally none – wins.

And what in the hell were these soldiers doing in Niger in the first place?  Did you know they were there? I didn’t.  Yet we learned this week that we have troops there and all over the place without anyone’s having mentioned it to the American people, let alone its having been authorized by Congress, unless you count some panicked, overreaction legislation enacted immediately 9/11, so long ago that children born then now have driver’s licenses, or even stationed in Afghanistan.

The truth is that we don’t know what is going on with our military, and yet we are now spending more than $700 billion on it every year and giving war surplus materiel to municipal police departments. We don’t know who our friends are, or our enemies. We don’t know what the hell we are doing or where we are going. It’s long past time to stop and think, or vice versa.

Harvey Weinstein: Actually, I don’t give a damn about Weinstein’s personal life, though apparently the legal system should. But the recent news about Bill O’Reilly and him has me wondering how Clarence Thomas got to be on the Supreme Court, not to mention President Trump, after doing the same sort of things Thomas  did to Anita Hill.

Thomas’ nomination was sent by the Senate Judiciary Committee to the full Senate on a tie vote (7-7), without a recommendation, and he was approved by a vote of 52-48, not a ringing endorsement. It is a steep drop off from Thurgood Marshall to Clarence Thomas, unquestionably the least qualified Supreme since Reconstruction.

I wonder what the Senate thinks about its consent of Thomas today. A couple of the Senators on the Republican controlled Judiciary Committee at the time – Chuck Grassley and Orrin Hatch – are still around. Let’s ask them.

Sudden Thought: It seems an interesting coincidence, or maybe not, that just as our younger generations seem less interested in privacy, our security systems are being compromised all over the place. I regret the more cavalier attitude toward privacy; I still value mine. But I don’t mind the breakdown in security so much. The government keeps too many secrets anyway.

Football: It is never fun when my beloved Oklahoma Sooners play Kansas State in football. They always give us a tough, nail-biting time. I cannot remember a game, even when we win, that has been easy and fun, and I cannot forget a couple of times when we lost to them that were particularly miserable. Bill Snyder, KSU’s excellent coach always seems to get his team especially fired up for Oklahoma.

We beat KSU on the road in Manhattan, KS this week: 42 to 35. KSU played well and led most of the game, but we pulled it out in the last seven seconds. Actually, we were in position to win it with a field goal, but ended up getting a touchdown instead. And, it wouldn’t have been so squeaky if it hadn’t been for an unusual turnover – a long snap way over the punter’s head that gave KSU an easy score.

Our defense played miserably again. Things will have to change there. Oddly, even with the defense stinking up the place, I never thought we would lose the game, our offense was playing that well. I was confident Baker Mayfield just wouldn’t let it happen, and he didn’t, scoring four touchdowns – two by air and two by land.

The Dallas Cowboy win over the San Francisco 49ers was anything but a nail-biter. Dallas won 40 to 3, or something like that; I didn’t even bother to go back and check. Ezekiel Elliot ran for 219 yards, and when you can run the ball like that, you are going to win the game. The 49ers didn’t have enough time with the ball to score 40 points, even if they could.

Status of the States: I have no specific beef with any worst state this week, but, have you noticed how the worst states are so heavily over-represented in the Trump administration? A coincidence? I think not. It’s like Trump knew exactly where to go to find the worst, least qualified people to fill his posts.

Attorney General Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions is from Alabama, and the least qualified member of the cabinet. He is a truly odious bigot, xenophobe and homophobe…just the man you want to run a Justice Department.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry is from Texas. His appointment was a cruel joke at this expense, and he’s too stupid to get it. During his short-lived campaign, he promised to eliminate the Energy Department.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is from Oklahoma. He is a sworn enemy of the EPA, and sued it more than a dozen times to dilute its efforts to protect the environment, as Attorney General of that state.

Director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo, was a congressperson from Kansas. Even a Republican – Rand Paul – voted against his nomination (Pompeo’s actually said to be pretty smart.)

From South Carolina, come both Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget – who wants to cut every welfare program and give the money to rich people; and Nikki Haley, who is U.S.  Ambassador to the United Nations. (Actually, Haley seems, at least, to be trying to do a good job.

Compared to this lot, Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake from Arizona, my own personal state, look not so bad.