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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

Thoughts on Events the Week of March 25, or thereabouts.

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on April 3, 2019

Mueller Speaks: The Special Counsel’s report is out, more or less. We’ll learn more about it over time, but based on what I’ve heard so far, I for one am ready to set aside the issue of whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. Mueller says there is insufficient evidence to prove this, apparently, and if he says so, I’m ready to accept his conclusion and move on.

The issue of obstruction of justice is murkier. Apparently, Mueller reached no definitive conclusion about it and is leaving this hot potato to the politicians. He is probably right to do this. It is obvious to any but the willfully partisan that Trump obstructed justice blatantly, but since impeachment, the only remedy available at present in Mueller’s view, is a political and not a legal process, and since a large chuck of the population – Trump’s base, mostly – doesn’t seem to care that he did, this one will have to be settled by means non-judicial.

This report, however, begs two unasked, or at least unanswered, questions related to Russia: What can we do to prevent Russia’s meddling in our elections, with or without collusion, in the future? And, if Trump wasn’t colluding with the Russians, why has he been so deferential to Putin?

These questions are interrelated. If we are going to change Russia’s behavior, we are going to have to get a lot tougher on Putin than we have been, and Trump doesn’t seem able or willing to do that. Putin is a tin-pot dictator of a second rate country rapidly trending toward becoming a third world one, and he is no friend to us. He needs to be dealt with accordingly.

The demographic divide: I read an article recently whose thesis is that the polarization in our politics is not on an axis of urban/rural or left/right, but generational, i.e. older/younger. If this is the case, the author opines, then “older” is going to dominate politics for a while because: older people vote more and, thanks to Baby Boomers, the older demographic is larger and growing faster.

I hope this is true on one level, because, as a senior I can attest that Social Security and healthcare are high on my list of priorities, and these are the programs that Republicans are waging all-out war on in an effort to pay for their tax cut for the very rich. This would seem, then, like a disastrous strategy for Republicans to pursue, and it couldn’t happen to a nice bunch of guys.

Status of the States: South Carolina gets the worst state cup this week. As long as there is a worst state competition, South Carolina will always be in the hunt because one of its senators is Lindsey Graham, extreme war hawk and winner of the Donald Trump ass-kissing contest.

But South Carolina wins this week thanks to another South Carolina deplorable – Mick Mulvaney – who talked our incurious president into joining a suit to repeal Obamacare entirely. This mean-spirited horse part makes Paul Ryan seem almost compassionate and smart, which are two important things Ryan is not. This is going to bite Mulvaney and vulnerable Republican legislators in the ass (see item above), and it couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of guys.

Thoughts on Events the Week of March 11

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on March 18, 2019

The college entrance scandal that broke this week is symptomatic of everything that is wrong in America today: greed. (Well, plus racism, xenophobia, religious intolerance, guns and ignorance.)

The golden rule in America, corrupted since President Reagan told us greed is good, circa 1980, is, “He who has the gold makes the rules,” and over time, those with the gold have used it to purchase a Congress that creates laws that give them more and more of it at the expense of everyone else. The result is that inequality has reached the point that we are now in another Gilded Age.

And yet, though the ultra-rich have written a blank check for themselves, they still want to steal from us. (Think Dick Cheney and Halliburton during the Iraq War.) And though those caught up in the college entrance scandal have myriad legal ways to help their children get into a good school, they still broke the law to get even more advantage.

Perhaps we should have a smidgen of sympathy for one of Lori Loughlin’s daughters who is caught up in this scandal. Based on a social media posting by her, she is a vacuous, incurious, spoiled airhead who would have trouble getting into any school without spectacular help. And do you think for a moment that George W. Bush or Donald Trump would have gotten into their prestigious schools without help (read daddy’s money)?

Another example of the corrosive influence of money in our system is the light sentence Paul Manafort received in his first criminal trial from a judge obviously conditioned to genuflect to wealth and influence.

So, it turns out that our best and brightest are merely our most corrupt and venal. But deep down, we already knew that. It’s been apparent for a while. fffffffffff

To Impeach or not to Impeach?

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on March 14, 2019

That is the question Democrats are debating presently. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is correct: impeachment is, at the least, premature.

That being the case, I was stunned when The Atlantic, a generally sober magazine and one of my favorites, published a major article by Yoni Appelbaum in its March issue advocating impeachment now, which was as flawed with specious arguments and as misguided as anything I have ever read in the magazine. Very disappointing.

Basically, Appelbaum’s argument is that we should begin the impeachment process now because Trump is already impeachable based on what we already know, and that even if it is not successful, it will gum up the political works, and impede Trump’s political agenda.

First, impeachment is far too serious an issue to play fast and loose with. That is simply irresponsible governance. And, our legislature is already dysfunctional enough. We need to get serious about restoring it, not making it worse.

Second, it is obvious that Trump’s base, and therefore Republican legislators, don’t care what Trump has done so far. They have sold their souls to him, so impeachment on the basis of what we know now is bound to fail, waste everyone’s time, and diminish the gravity of the process.

Impeachment, if it ever occurs, will have to await the findings of Robert Mueller’s investigation, which may or may not produce evidence sufficient to warrant it, or the product of investigations now beginning in the House. My own expectation is that Trump will survive the Mueller investigation, unless it produces some really egregious crime, and maybe even then.

I expect, however, that the investigations by House committees will be so aggressive that they will drive Trump from office ultimately. They, and the weight of the Mueller investigation, will cause Trump to quit, or lose re-election.

So, I don’t expect Trump to be impeached. I expect he will likely go to jail after he leaves office, based on his various financial crimes, rather than anything political. Trump brought this on himself by shining bright light on his personal life by running for president. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. r

Thoughts on Recent Weekly Events

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on March 13, 2019

There has been a lot of important news recently, including just this last week – too much to cover in one post, so I will address various items individually in subsequent ones.

But the most important recent news, in my view, occurred in mid-February, when a Delta Airlines flight from Orange County airport in Southern California to Seattle experienced severe turbulence so violent that it forced an emergency landing in Reno, NV, and sent three passengers to the hospital.

I say again that we will start paying attention to climate change when it becomes too dangerous to fly, which may be sooner than we think. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of these incidents in the spring, a traditionally turbulent weather period.

Coincidentally, the latest Democrat to announce he is running for president is Washington State governor Jay Inslee, whose campaign focus will be exclusively on fighting climate change. He is well spoken and may prove to be a compelling candidate.

Sudden Thought: The fastest and easiest way to get Jared Kushner’s top secret security clearance revoked, which he should never have gotten in the first place, and wouldn’t have were he not Trump’s son-in-law, is to indict him for and convict him of a crime. He is surely guilty of some. Should be easy peasy.

Status of the States: The worst state cup goes to Arizona, my own personal state, courtesy of Congressperson Paul Gosar, my own personal Congressperson, for his antics during the Michael Cohen hearing. He embarrassed himself, but also the state. Gosar should learn first to pronounce words correctly, and then not to use them.

To Blog or Not to Blog

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on February 25, 2019

A decision point is at hand: to blog or not to blog. The annual fee to retain my domain is coming due or I will lose it. Frankly, I’m ambivalent. I haven’t been blogging much since Cynthia died, and blogging, nor much of anything else, hasn’t seemed as important to me since she passed away. On the other hand, there’s a lot of disgusting stuff going on about which to bitch and moan.

I’ve decided to continue the blog until the next presidential election in 2020, and retire the domain thereafter, whatever the election’s result. During this time, I intend to write about threatened rights, such as freedom of speech and privacy, beginning below.

My position as an absolutist regarding freedom of speech is being challenged currently. There’s some particularly disgusting speech being thrown around today. Hate speech, politically motivated lies to frighten or motivate voters generated by bots, out and out lies about just about everything  from President Trump and resurrected, unfortunate comments about race and gender by public figures made years ago, to name just a few.

Which brings me to Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, who posted a picture of himself in blackface on his medical school yearbook page. Many have called for him to resign over it. I support Governor Northam’s refusal to do so for three reasons relating largely to freedom of speech issues.

First, there is nothing illegal about wearing blackface. It’s offensive, it’s stupid and it’s antiquated, but it does not rise to a high crime, nor even a misdemeanor. For that matter, it’s not a crime to be a bigot, even if Northam were one, which I doubt, because…

Two, in public office, Northam’s actual deeds have been liberal and in my view enlightened on social issues. He has evinced little if any bigotry or xenophobia. In fact, just the opposite. He has, for example, supported moving Confederate statues and monuments from the public square to a museum, which is where they belong.

Finally, popular opinion has changed dramatically, and for the better, since Northam was in medical school. In this new environment, the 80s seem a long time ago, in absolute years (30), and certainly in the light years speed of social change. I’m not comfortable judging peoples’ past remarks and behavior by present standards, particularly when current behavior is so much more enlightened. We grow.

Accusations regarding Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax are a different story. He’s accused of sexual assault, an actual crime. I’m still uncomfortable about judging people’s past deeds in a period when attitudes are changing rapidly, but a crime is a crime, and just because it may have been ignored or tolerated in the past doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be enforced now. If charges against Fairfax are proven, I think he should go.

I don’t know enough about Virginia’s Attorney General, who is also being looked at askance due to earlier behavior, to comment on his situation, but it sniffs of overwrought political correctness from this distance.

Football Thoughts – The Playoffs

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on February 2, 2019

The Dallas Cowboys lost their playoff game to the Los Angeles Rams ignominiously. They were beaten badly by a better team, and certainly by a much better coach. The Rams covered the spread by only one point, but anyone who saw this game knows that the Cowboys were never going to win it, which was apparent from the first snap.

The Cowboys were a fraud all season. Jerry Jones stood pat in the off-season, and when the same old team took the field, their record for the first half of the season was a dismal 3-5. Their vaunted offensive line suffered serious injury and illness damage, which didn’t help.

Then, the Cowboys fell into two pieces of good luck, which obscured their true level of capability. First, Jones, after having done nothing to improve the team in the offseason, was shamed into trading for receiver Amari Cooper. There was some risk in this trade, but the Cowboys hit a jackpot with Cooper; he turned out to be well worth the trade.

Next, the Cowboys played a string of teams who were having a very down year, and/or were devastated by injuries, which goosed their record. (The win over the Seahawks in the first playoff game, like the inexplicable win over New Orleans in the regular season, remain outlier mysteries.) So, the Cowboy’s season is over in its typical failing fashion.

Of course, my season ended in disappointment when the Cowboys won its two games previous to being stomped by the Rams, because it meant that Jerry Jones would not have to fire his mediocre coaching staff. So, he kept the head coach, fired one guy and elevated a current staff member to offensive coordinator, perpetuating mediocrity via incest.

The Cowboys have no hope of rising above mediocrity until they get a new head coach, if they can find one willing to work for Jerry. Jones seems content with all this, so everybody wins, except the fans.

The Kansas City Chiefs wiped up the floor with the Indianapolis Colts, and looked good on both sides of the ball doing it. The game was a rout. I have rarely seen a team as unprepared for a playoff game as were the Colts for theirs.

New England can be beaten and will be beaten someday. But until that happens, I will always favor them in any game. The Patriots dispatched the San Diego Chargers with ease. There is something about the Chargers that is just off somehow. They have good players and show flashes, but just don’t seem to be able to win when it counts.

The most competitive playoff game, between Philadelphia and New Orleans, saw the Saints rise to the occasion and justify their first seed status after a couple of lackluster games late in the season.

Early in the season, I picked the Rams and Chiefs to meet in the Super Bowl. (Making a pick before the season even starts is fruitless. You have to see the teams play a game or two before you can get a sense of their potential.) So, by the division championship games, both my picks were still in the hunt.

Given the match-ups, I had picked the Chiefs, but I expected the Patriots to win, and they did. Likewise, I had picked the Rams, but I expected New Orleans to win, and they would have if not for the most egregious screw-up in NFL playoff history. It seems the NFL couldn’t imagine such an egregious screw-up, so they had made no provision for it. The result of the theft of the game from New Orleans tainted the championships and therefore the Super Bowl.  I’ll be watching the commercials, but the game has no legitimacy to me.

I agree with Commissioner Goodell that he can’t stop the presses now and schedule a make-up game. But what he should have done, and could have done, is get on the phone, stopped the game immediately after the screw-up and overturn the terrible, game changing, true winner ruining non-call.

So, I like New England. fff

Football Thoughts – Bowl Season and Playoffs

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on January 3, 2019

I’ve watched a lot of football recently, but I was most interested in the two semi-final games of the BCS Championship, of course. Both went about as Vegas predicted. Clemson wiped up the floor with Notre Dame and Alabama beat Oklahoma, though the Tide couldn’t cover the spread against OU.

It was only a matter of time, having the worst defense in football, that it would cost us a game. Until Alabama, we had been able to outscore other teams however many points they managed to run up on our wretched defense. OU had scored 28 or more points in every game this season, and they scored 34 against Alabama, but that wasn’t enough to beat the Tide. They were too good.

In my view, OU squandered two likely national championships, given its amazing offenses, due to its inconceivably bad defenses.  My fear now is that bad defenses will plague us for a while longer, even when we get a new, better defensive coordinator, because it takes years to overcome a reputation for terrible defense like we’ve created, for what good defensive player recruit will want to come to a school where they may worry they won’t be developed? A pox on OU for not firing Mike Stoops three years ago. I know why we didn’t, but still.

The Cowboys won a meaningless game against the woeful New York Giants with a last minute, improbable touchdown. Dallas sat Zeke Elliott and rested two banged up starting linemen. (Dak Prescott played the entire game, however, as did Eli Manning for the Giants.) So, on the surface it was a credible win for the Cowboys in those circumstances…except that: 1) the Giants are a terrible team this year, and 2) also sitting out for New York was Odell Beckham. If he had played, the Giants likely would have won the game.

That’s the thing with Dallas. The NFC East is way down this year, so Dallas won a lot of games against woeful teams, and/or teams that suffered season devastating injuries (the Washington Redskins lost their starting quarterback, perhaps forever, with a badly broken leg), and just barely managed to win them. (The one notable, and to me still inexplicable, exception is Dallas’ win over the New Orleans Saints and Drew Brees. Can’t deny that one.)

The Cowboys next game will be against a better team – the Seattle Seahawks (Seattle beat the Chiefs, for crying out loud, and already beat the Cowboys in the regular season). Dallas has enough good players now, especially if their banged up offensive linemen are healthier from rest, to compete with Seattle, but I have no confidence they have the coaching staff to do it.

I expect Dallas to have another one and done playoffs, and I hope I’m right, because if I am wrong, Jerry Jones might keep Jason Garrett as head coach. But if Jerry keeps interfering with his coaches, even changing coaches won’t help, because, like President Trump, Jones will have difficulty finding a good coach willing to work for him.

I thought the best bowl game was between Washington State and Iowa State, a Big XII team, which Wazzu won 28-26. The Cyclones gave a good accounting of themselves, and I expect them to continue improving.

I was glad to see Texas beat Georgia. Texas played well, though it was obvious that Georgia, expecting to be in the playoffs, didn’t really want to be there and were lackluster. The game reminded me of the one OU won against Alabama, when Alabama, for the same reason, clearly didn’t have its head in the game. But a win is a win, and Texas is coming back.

Florida pounded Michigan in the Rose Bowl, showing how weak is the Big Ten these days, and how overrated the Wolverines turned out to be.

Oklahoma State beat Missouri, and a good Kentucky team, coached by Mark Stoops, the youngest of the Stoops brothers, I think, beat Penn State, a chronically overrated Big Ten school.

LSU beat UCF in a pretty good game 40-32. I was cheering for UCF, coached by former OU quarterback Josh Heupel, who won our last National Championship in 2000. Like his mentor Mike Leach, now head coach at Washington State, for Heupel, it’s all about offense. They, like Oklahoma, both need to find a better defensive coach somewhere. (Note: Heupel’s predecessor, Scott Frost, left UCF to be head coach at his alma mater, Nebraska. He must be an idiot.

In the Redbox (sounds like a venereal disease doesn’t it?) Bowl, Oregon beat Michigan State (another Big Ten loser) 7-6, the lowest bowl game score since near the beginning of the last century. They should call it the Impotence Bowl instead and be done with it.

So far, there are already eight coaching vacancies in the NFL (a euphemism for firings), not counting Jason Garrett, for whom I have high hopes of being fired. The toughest of these vacancies to fill, and the worst team to inherit, is the Arizona Cardinals. Not only do they have a chronically incompetent organization, but said organization fired a competent coach after one year without giving him a chance. Who would want to coach there?

The most desirable vacancy is the Cleveland Browns. They have an improving organization, an improving team and good young quarterback in Baker Mayfield. How much is Cleveland going to be willing to offer Lincoln Riley? It may turn out to be an offer Riley can’t refuse, but he would be crazy to take it.

Football Thoughts – weekend of 12-1-18

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on December 2, 2018

Let’s start with the pro games for a change, since Dallas played Thursday night. I was as wrong as can be about the Dallas v. New Orleans game. I never dreamed the Cowboys would beat the Saints.  

Dallas’ defense played really well. The offense played really ordinary. The Saints played really awful. But, hey, the Cowboys won. Does this mean they will be 9-7…or better? We’ll see.

But I was right about my beloved Sooners. They beat Texas in the Big XII Championship game, as I expected. The defense played a little better than previously, with an interception and a safety. I particularly enjoyed the safety. But OU was always going to score if and when they needed to. Texas can enjoy the Sugar Bowl or someplace, and I hope they win.

I was also right that if OU won and the other favorites did also, that OU would make the playoffs. I heard a bunch of silly talk last night after all the games were completed about Georgia or Ohio State getting in instead of OU, but I knew that was nonsense. There was no way OSU was going to leap over OU, and the Georgia scenario was ludicrous on its face. I’ll tell you why.

Georgia played probably the best they have played all year against Alabama, and scored 28 points to Alabama’s 35. If those two teams were to play again, do you think Georgia would score more than 28 points? No way in hell. But do you think OU could score more than 35 points against Alabama? Possibly. I think the committee wanted to see if OU could succeed where others have not. We shall see.