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Thoughts on Events the Week of April

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on April 19, 2018

Speaker of the House is leaving the building: Paul Ryan, leader of the Republican-controlled U. S. House of Representatives, announced that he will not seek re-election in the 2018 mid-terms, guaranteeing that there will be a new Speaker next year, whichever party controls the House.

It is unusual for someone to give up that much power and authority without a fight. I suspect Ryan became sick of fighting with his own tempestuous caucus, and I think he calculates that Democrats might very well win back the House in the next election and he wouldn’t have any power or authority anyway. He may also calculate that he would lose his own House seat against Democratic challenger Randy Bryce.

Ryan, 48, has been a rising superstar in Republican politics. He is what passes in Republican circles for a “policy wonk,” because he can put a patina of rationale over the most mean-spirited, preposterous or patently obvious rip-offs of the poor and elderly, with a straight face.

Ryan can take credit for guiding the obscene $1.5 Trillion tax cut for the already too richest of our fellow countrymen through the House. But, when people begin to experience the consequences of that tax cut, he may not be able to show his face in public again… perhaps another reason he decided not to run.

Taxes are the primary source of revenue by our government is funded. Taxes are also essential in implementing and influencing public policy. But they also reflect where our hearts, our morals and our values lie.

Justice, individual rights and compassion are human concepts. They don’t exist in Nature. They don’t exist in Paul Ryan either. He is the author and champion of vicious attacks on the poor, elderly and minorities among us.

It’s said that Ryan didn’t want the job of Speaker of the House, and had to be coaxed into taking it. This could be true. Ryan was instrumental in driving his predecessor – John Boehner – to resign in frustration and disgust at his own party. Ryan knew what a miserable, difficult, unrewarding job it could be to lead the deeply fractured Republican House caucus.

Ryan only agreed to take the job when both Republican factions – the right and the wing nut right – promised to stop fighting and follow his lead. Here’s the delicious part: the Republican’s brilliant policy wonk is so stupid he actually believed them. The warring factions were at each other’s throats again, and Ryan’s, before he could swing his new gavel.

Somewhere in Ohio, Boehner is smoking a cigarette, sipping bourbon and chuckling. Except for the cigarette and Ohio parts, so am I. Ryan is a truly bad guy, and I am glad to see his career come to such an ignominious end.

Syria: President Assad gassed his own people, again, and President Trump fired a bunch of missiles into Syria, again. The whole episode was a Kabuki dance, except, of course, for those Syrian citizens killed by their own president in the gas attacks. Trump’s missiles accomplished nothing.

Our “position” regarding Syria remains the same as it has for years. We don’t know what is going on there. We don’t know what we are doing there. We don’t know what we want to accomplish there. We don’t know our friends from our enemies there. We don’t have a clue, and yet we dance on.

Revisiting Good Friday: We celebrated this “holiday” last week, and our schools, public buildings and many businesses were closed, at least in Arizona. I am adamantly opposed to a public celebration on this holiday, in the interest of separating church and state.

I don’t mind celebrating Easter (well, not me personally, but Christians), because it always falls on Sunday and doesn’t cause any harm then anyway. For others, it’s just another Sunday.

And, I don’t mind celebrating Christmas, because it, and all the other holidays celebrated around that time, are all descendants of the Winter Solstice, something genuinely worth celebrating. No harm, no foul.

But Good Friday is an expressly Christian event, with a little Judaism thrown in, I suppose, forced into our holiday calendar exclusively for Christians, and that is not as the Constitution intends. So, take your palm fronds and your Hosannas and celebrate with them at home, with my blessing. But leave the schools open. Closing the schools on Good Friday is a poor way to teach students the Constitution.

Status of the States: Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, is a stench that keeps on stinking. Among his most egregious abuses of the public financial trust is having installed a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility – called a SCIF for short in governmental jargon, and a Cone of Silence in episodes of the sitcom “Get Smart,” which anticipated this clown – in his own office, at a cost of around $43,000 of your and my money.

In practice, SCIFs are used by our military, national security and intelligence personnel. Although I can’t imagine why it would be needed, there is a SCIF in the EPA building at Pruitt’s disposal, but he just had to have his own.

To add insult to injury with this abuse of the public trust, it turns out that Pruitt’s SCIF doesn’t even meet the SCIF standards, just like in “Get Smart,” so the $43,000 was a complete waste of our money.

To be fair to Pruitt, if I were constantly colluding with big business to roll back regulations that protect our environment but which business finds inconvenient, I probably wouldn’t want anyone to hear my conversations either. What a worst state cup-winning putz! He’s all yours, Oklahoma.

 

 

Thoughts on Events the Weeks of March 26 and April 2

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on April 14, 2018

I was so busy last week that I didn’t have time to produce thoughts on weekly events timely. But the topics this week are the same as last week (and so on and so on), with some new dollops of craziness poured on top. All of Trump’s weeks boil down to Russia, tariffs, immigration, corruption and scandal. So, this weekly blog is an aggregation of my thoughts on the basis of topic, not chronology.

Russia: President Trump called Russian President Putin to congratulate him on rigging his election, then asked Putin to come to his house for a play date, and maybe have a sleepover. Trump’s aides were stunned.

How must it feel to be an advisor to a fool who not only doesn’t listen to your advice, but tends to react to it in the opposite direction, and that this – being ignored or outright rejected – is the best you can expect from your employer? More typical is insult and termination. Also possible: subpoenas and prison.

Subsequently, after much refusal and stalling, and with tremendous pressure from the EU, Trump took his lips off Putin’s butt long enough to put some sanctions on Russia, though he told his aides not to make a federal case out of it (read don’t talk about it). Russia reciprocated.

Trump followed with personal sanctions on some of Putin’s cronies, a more meaningful sanction, atypical from him, which may or may not reflect the influence of a new hire. Trump’s default impulses toward Russia are fear and deference, but he has a new National Security Adviser-designate – John Bolton – who is barking mad, but who hates Russia. Awkward.

Tariffs: Lacking the most basic knowledge of international trade economics or policy, and misunderstanding the concept of trade deficits, Trump announced tariffs on more goods from China.

You’ll remember that Trump’s first announced tariff was on steel and aluminum, worldwide. Trump’s expressed target was China, but the tariffs were insignificant to China, from which we only import about 4% of our steel. The tariffs are very significant to Canada and Mexico, however, from where we get most of our steel imports. So, Trump exempted Canada and Mexico from the tariff, along with a lot of allies, with the result Trump’s tough tariff amounts to no tariff at all.

But this new one with China is serious, and it has been immediately reciprocated by China with tariffs on comparable amounts of our exports to China. A ratcheting up of tariffs has begun, which could lead to serious  economic trouble, but probably won’t, because Trump is bluffing, or so ill informed that when someone pours enough buckets of cold educational water on him, he will back down. What a putz!

Unlike Trump, China has targeted its tariff threats brilliantly, beginning with some targeted with surgical precision on the home states of Republican Congressional leaders McConnell and Ryan. In their subsequent escalation, China has threatened tariffs on many agricultural products – pork, soy beans, and the like – the very ones produced in Midwestern red states, by redneck Trump-voting farmers. Awkward.

While Trump was announcing tariffs, his Treasury Secretary was downplaying the possibility, and his shiny new TV-minted Director of the National Economic Council, Larry Kudlow, was saying they won’t happen. Each time Trump or Kudlow speak in opposite directions on the subject, the stock market gets whiplash.

Immigration: Trump went particularly dark and mean on immigrants, reacting, apparently, to the agitation expressed by his base and Fox News because the wall isn’t in the annual budget.

Trump declared an end to any hope for DACA Dreamers. He halted the DACA program himself about a year ago, gave the Congress six months to address it, and said if they didn’t, he would. Well, he has addressed it alright, with a complete betrayal.

The Dreamers are the clearly innocent bystanders in the immigration debate, and a large majority of voters want a solution found for them. Unfortunately, this majority doesn’t include any of Trump’s rabidly xenophobic base or Fox News.

A group of Central American refugees from violence in their own countries have apparently banded together on the road for mutual protection, to march to Mexico and seek asylum there or the U.S.

Hysterically xenophobic Fox News has inflated the group into a national security threat, saying this “caravan” is planning to march to the Mexico-U.S. border wall and do something terrible there, though it is hard to imagine what that might be. It would be hard for a “caravan” to sneak across the border. Someone would surely notice.

Trump, watching this truly manufactured story on Fox, and seeing how his ignorant base has been stirred up by it, jumped in on the threat mongering and is sending national guard troops to the border.

You rarely see such ludicrous, irrational demagogic overreaction in such vivid relief. The Terri Schiavo case comes to mind, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terri_Schiavo_case).

Among other irrational ironies involved, Trump sought and got $80 billion more dollars in the last budget to build up the military, and ever since has been frivolously pissing it away, ordering a preposterous parade and sending troops to stand on the border across from poor Central American refugees on the other side and do what, exactly? What a putz!

Corruption: On occasion, we find one weak willed or greedy individual committing corrupt acts. But in organizations, the tone and example is set not by the outlying behavior of an individual, but at the top, which determines the behavior of the deputies below.

This informs why so many of Trump’s deputies are being caught with their hands in the corruption cookie jar. They see their boss scooping up graft and emoluments, so they think it’s OK for them to do so too. This also informs why the Obama administration was so corruption free.

Trump is a total outlier on the corruption spectrum, but corruption in the U.S., and our attitudes toward it, have changed over time. In the 50s, President Eisenhower’s Chief of Staff Sherman Adams accepted a Vicuña coat from someone interested in doing business with the government and the government came to a standstill. Adams, a heretofore reputable public figure, was forced to resign immediately. (In his memoir, Nixon said he was the one who had to fire Adams, but that’s not true; it was Meade Alcorn, National Republican Chairman who fired Adams.)

Scandal: I don’t really consider it a scandal that President Trump had a roll in the hay with a porn star. But one could argue that it is a scandal that Stormy Daniels’ attorney is smarter than Trump’s entire legal team and is running rings around them.

In the meantime, Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, who paid Daniels $130,000 for no particular reason, with funds from no particular source, promises to keep this tryst on the front burner right up to the election, or Melania’s divorce filing, whichever comes first.

When this is over, Trump is going to wish he had just masturbated instead. As Woody Allen said, at least you’re having sex with someone you love.

Status of the States: Since I’m covering two weeks of cumulative thoughts, I will award two cups one to Arizona and one to Oklahoma – though unlike last week, both states deserve indictment.

Arizona, my own personal state at present, embarrassed itself when Joe Arpaio, convicted miscreant pardoned by Trump, who is running for U.S. Senate in the Republican primaries, told a conservative group that the reason he wants to get to the Senate is so he can prove that President Obama’s birth certificate is a fake and have him arrested.

Oklahoma’s shame, of course, is Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, who is doing his best to despoil the environment while leading the Trump cabinet is corruption accusations, which is really saying something.

 

 

 

Thoughts on Events the Week of March 19

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on March 30, 2018

John Bolton, Truly Nuts: On one level, it’s kind of funny, really. When President Trump named his first Cabinet, many, including me, were concerned about having so many retired generals (Flynn, Kelly and Mattis, to start) in the pack.  Others were more optimistic, thinking flag officers might be able to bring understanding of the horrors of war to a president so removed from reality.

So far, it hasn’t worked out very well either way. Flynn didn’t last a month, so we’ll leave him to the tender mercies of John Mueller. He was replaced by another general, genuine war hero and soldier/scholar H. R. McMaster. Far too intelligent and mature for the Trump Administration, McMaster is out, leaving only Kelly and Mattis, and Kelly is hanging by a thread, which either Trump or he may cut any day now.

Ordinarily, I might feel sanguine about such developments, but Trump has replaced McMaster with John Bolton, who is barking mad. Bolton is a war monger. He advocates a preemptive strike on North Korea, which would in the first hour cause 100,000 deaths, about a quarter of them American troops stationed in South Korea. This doesn’t seem to bother Bolton.

Bolton also advocates breaking the nuclear agreement with Iran, which is working, and then bombing Iran. He was an aggressive promoter of the Iraq War to President Bush, the worst foreign policy catastrophe in our history.

This is the last man in the world who should be allowed in the White House. He might convince Trump that a nuclear exchange is winnable. We haven’t heard that kind of crazy talk since Air Force General Curtis Le May was George Wallace’s running mate in the 60s. (Even the Wallace campaign concluded Le May was a liability (read crazy.))

Privacy: I’m feeling pretty smug right now. I predicted this would happen. My strongly held opinions about privacy have been out of fashion for a while – I maintain that privacy should be cherished, and everyone, including celebrities and politicians, should have at least some measure of it – but younger generations have been OK with giving their privacy away.

I also maintain that so much information previously considered private is already out there, so that horse is out of the barn. We can no longer keep our information private, so we must control how it is used. The Facebook – Cambridge Analytica crime, for that’s what it is, or ought to be, proves my point.

It horrifies and mortifies me to think that information about me may have helped President Trump get elected in any way. I’ve canceled my Facebook page.

Stormy Daniels Speaks: OK, I admit it. I watched the interview of Stormy Daniels on “60 Minutes.” The term “affair,” seems somewhat exaggerated. The way Daniels described it seems more like dinner and a one night stand, with a little non-contact connection, petering out, so to speak, thereafter. Common as dirt. Hell, I’ve had lots of them.

I disagree with the pundits and lawyers who say the public has a right to know about all this. It’s consensual sex, and rather dated sex at that. None of our business.

Now, the payoff money is a whole other story. That turns a roll in the hay into a complicated, suspicious business transaction. We should know more about that.

A Bipartisan excuse for a Spending Bill: Congress passed and Trump signed a $1.3 Trillion omnibus spending bill to scrape by on until the end of the fiscal year. It is an obscenely odious bill in every way; too much money spent on too many of the wrong things. Couple this with the $1.5 Trillion tax cut and we’ve blown the deficit up like a hot air balloon. (We used to joke that a million here, a million there can add up to some money. Now, we’re joking that way about trillions.)

Mel Brooks famously said that some things are so awful the only thing you can do is laugh at them. I can’t laugh at the disgraceful way we are pissing away our own and our children’s future. I hope that when our teenagers have thrown out all the NRA-sponsored rascals, they will replace them with more fiscally responsible grownups.

Speaking of those Teenagers: whatever our personal opinion of the Second Amendment, and our expectations or cynicism of what comes next, you have to be impressed with those kids who organized, lead and performed so maturely and eloquently during the “March for our Lives” protest. It brought tears to my eyes to see their enthusiasm, their idealism, their determination…and their numbers!

Could it be that the end of the NRA’s reign of gun violence will be at the hands of high school students who are young enough to be traumatized by the mass murder of their friends and classmates; old enough to understand the trend in school student shooting; smart enough to see more such carnage in their future; mad enough to take action and able to speak up for themselves? Oh, and old enough to vote in 2018 and/or 2012.

Status of the States: Two of our worst states – Kansas and Arizona – beg mentioning this week, but not indictment. One mention evokes the past; the other the future.

Linda Brown, the symbol of “Brown v. Board of Education, Topeka, Kansas,” the landmark Supreme Court decision of 1954 that outlawed segregated public schools, died this week. She was 75. So, the symbol is gone, but segregation still lives on in some spaces.

Arizona made the news because one of Uber’s self-driven test automobiles struck and killed a pedestrian near Tucson. The finding seems to be that the woman stepped into traffic quickly, at night and not in a crossing zone. Likely she would have been struck even if there had been a driver at the wheel, in those circumstances.

On average, 16 pedestrians are killed by cars each day in the U.S. Pedestrian deaths account for 15% of total motor vehicle related deaths. Self-driven automobiles are expected to improve automobile safety and reduce casualties and deaths. But oddly, pedestrian fatalities are increasing – up 11% last year – in the short term. Texting, by drivers and walkers, seems to be the culprit.

The evolving technology is clearly the future, and it will have very positive effects on our safety, the economy and the environment. But it will never be perfect, and it is useless to expect it to be. With human beings involved (such as morons who walk out into dark streets at night without a signal light or other crossing protection) guarantees that.

There will be more, though fewer, deaths and injuries, ultimately. I’m sorry Uber didn’t keep on truckin’, but they’ll resume soon. Technology will go where it can go.

 

 

Gina Haspel – Torturer

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

Former President George W. Bush is quoted as saying recently, regarding something President Donald Trump did, “Sorta makes me look pretty good, doesn’t it?” The answer to his rhetorical question is No. George W. Bush was a worse president even than Donald Trump, and the worst in our history, in my view.

Among the several reasons Bush was worse than Trump is that his administration ordered the torture of prisoners by the CIA during the Iraq War and thereafter, contrary to our Constitution, our laws and international law.

We will be hearing about torture and that dark period in our history over the next few weeks, because President Trump (this is one of the reasons he is the next worst president) has nominated Gina Haspel to be the next Director of the CIA.

Haspel had a large role in the program of torturing those prisoners. She was comparable to a German prisoner of war camp commandant in World War II…if you add the torture, and that role will come up in her confirmation hearings.

The CIA will never be confused with the Boy Scouts, or even our military. We ask them to do our dirty work, including some that does not comport with our national standards, and sometimes not even our laws…007 stuff, only for real.

But the period of torture was beyond the pale, and should never have been allowed to happen. Yet, somebody did it. Somebody thought it was their duty to do it, that it was the right thing to do. That somebody should not be the face of the CIA.

Thoughts on Events the Week of March 12

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on March 21, 2018

Trump Tweets Tillerson: I have this comedic vision Rex Tillerson going home every night and beating his wife for talking him into taking the job of Secretary of State under President Donald Trump. Last night, I hope he went home and gave her a big hug, now that it’s over.

His wife was right, of course. When a president asks you to serve at the highest level, it is almost a patriotic duty to do so, even if you already hold an extremely important, and lucrative, position. That’s what qualifies you as Cabinet level talent. But Tillerson knew about Trump. We all did. Tillerson should have known better than to get within a mile of this president. Was he fooled by living in the far right wing echo chamber that is Texas?

The mystery is less why Tillerson joined than why he stayed so long. He had been the CEO of one of the largest companies in the world. He had more influence on national and international affairs as CEO of Exxon Mobile than at Trump’s State Department. Let’s face it, Tillerson was unsuited for this job, but a man of his stature I would expect not put up with Trump for one minute.

It’s ironic that Trump, who hosted a “reality” TV show in which he bluntly told underlings, “You’re fired,” doesn’t in real life have the cajones to dismiss people to their face, if at all.

Tillerson learned about his firing third person, from a Trump tweet to his base. James Comey learned about his on TV. Trump does his firing indirectly, preferably with his target out of town; ideally out of the country. This is who Trump truly is – a bully on TV, but in fact a cringing coward.

House Intelligence Committee Fin: This committee ended its investigation into whether Russia interfered in our national election just like it began: as farce. It is just as well. Nobody believed anything serious or credible would come out of this committee anyway. The news was taken with a yawn.

Stephen Hawking: Passed away.  He lived a remarkable life, both physically and mentally. At the age of 76, close to normal life expectancy, but diagnosed with ALS at 21, he lived 52 years longer than predicted by his doctors. It is a gift to us all that he lived long enough to give us his brilliant thinking, and his inspiration.

Mentally, he was a mega-thinker, about black holes, the beginning of the universe, and the “theory of everything.” He was also a brilliant writer, though with great physical difficulty. A Brief History of Time is among my favorite books.

Conor Lamb: (D-PA) won the special election for Pennsylvania’s 18th House of Representatives District. This is remarkable, because the 18th is a blood red Republican district, gerrymandered to make it impossible (until now) for a Republican to lose it. President Trump won this district by 20 points in 2016.

The analyzing and spinning has been intense as to why this happened and if it is significant harbinger of future success or an unimportant one off; whether Lamb was a Trump-like candidate at the right place at the right time, or whether his opponent was an incompetent boob who ran a disastrous campaign.

Given the result and the place, the unmistakable fact is that a Democrat won an election that no Democrat was ever supposed to win, in Trump-owned territory. Republicans are in serious mid-term electoral doo doo.

BTW, regarding Lamb in the 18th, look quickly or you’ll miss it. The 18th is so gerrymandered that it will be demolished before the next election,  and Lamb will have to run again in November, though in a more honest, and therefore probably more favorable, new district.

Russian Sanctions: President Trump finally, under serious political pressure, slapped some sanctions on Russia. These were sissy sanctions, symbolic, but not genuinely punitive. Trump isn’t going to punish Putin. One might wonder why he even bothered. I suspect it had to do with pressure from McConnell and Ryan after the Pennsylvania 18th election results.

Status of the States: Kansas gets the cup this week, because Mike Pompeo, a product of Kansas, will likely become Secretary of State. Pompeo is an enigma. He is a very intelligent, well-educated man, yet he espouses primitive, atavistic views. In this regard, he is like Kansas Governor Sam Brownback. Perhaps they both figured out that if you are willing to say really far right wingnut things in public, you can get elected in Kansas.

 

 

Andrew McCabe

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on March 18, 2018

Assuming, as I do, that the majority (but not all) of President Trump’s criminal activity occurred before he became president, what he did Friday night was the lowest, slimiest thing that his administration has done to date, and that is really saying something.  

At 10 pm, Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions fired former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe two days before his declared retirement date, and his birthday, damaging his reputation and denying him his pension.

The firing was a late night, under the cover of darkness injustice, but it had been plotted for weeks for maximum intimidation of the FBI and our justice system, maximum humiliation of McCabe personally and maximum smearing of his reputation as a witness in possible criminal or political proceedings against Trump himself.

Disgusted as I am by this event, it has not lowered my opinion of Attorney General Sessions. This is because my opinion of Sessions can’t get any lower. He is an ignorant, homophobic, xenophobic, misogynistic bigot, and the least qualified member of President Trump’s administration, which is remarkable since Trump’s cabinet includes Ben Carson, Rick Perry and Betsy De Voss. Besides, Sessions was just doing the bidding of President Trump. Sessions is a serf.

Trump has been maligning, slandering, libeling, insulting and trying to intimidate McCabe for months. This is Trump’s style. He sits in the highest office and rains personal insult down publicly on people below him who cannot defend them themselves, which exposes Trump for what he is, and disgraces the office he holds.

Trump despises our system of justice and is doing his best to destroy it. Trump longs to be an authoritarian leader like Putin of Russia, Erdogan of Turkey and Duterte of the Philippines, and the Justice Department is the main obstacle that stands in his way. It’s certainly not the Republican legislature.

Trump also knows that one day he will have to stand before Justice, and he wants to damage it as much as he can before that happens, no matter that he threatens justice for all of us in the process.

Trump cannot be allowed to get away with this. It must be made clear that this event was nothing but a plotted political character assassination.

I don’t need to know what McCabe is accused of doing to know that it was incidental to firing, nothing but vengeful and mendacious, and certainly not sufficient to justify his treatment, let alone the loss of his pension. If the Legislature has a pinch of honor or a single vertebrae of spine, they will see that McCabe gets his pension, if not justice.

I despise the Trump Administration, individually and severally.

 

 

 

Staffing

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on March 14, 2018

Perhaps the most important decisions a CEO makes involve hiring personnel. Staffing decisions should never be rushed and always carefully considered. A leader, however competent, it still just one person. But if he (or she) selects competent deputies and support, his effectiveness is expanded exponentially. On the other hand, a poor decision can be destructive, set things back, and take a lot of lost time to correct.

I’ve known creative directors – men of prodigious creative talent – the product of whose creative group was outmatched by directors with less talent personally, but who surrounded themselves with and developed a team whose total output far surpassed that of the brilliant individual’s.

It is provable based on turnover statistics alone that President Trump is a disastrously poor personnel decision maker. His decisions are impulsive, rushed and almost universally regrettable. His White House is constantly being set back by bad personnel decisions, firings and start overs.

Even when Trump finds some good people, as the blind hog occasionally finds an acorn, he doesn’t develop them. In fact, they are diminished by their association with him. Think Rex Tillerson. But that’s another, though related flaw.

Trump is so bad at personnel decisions that an astounding number of his choices are outright criminals, or in serious legal jeopardy. Recently, one was escorted out of the White House by the Secret Service without his suit jacket.

There is a clear lesson and cautionary tale for CEOs and Personnel Departments.

Thoughts on Events the Week of March 5

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on March 13, 2018

Talks with North Korea: South Korea is trying to arrange a playdate between President Trump and North Korea leader Kim. Generally, I’m with Stephen Hopkins on this, who said, “Nothing is so scary it can’t be talked about.” But this is really serious stuff, and people smarter and with a lot more experience in these matters than I, say this is not the way to go about it.

Besides, with deference to Mr. Hopkins, it’s not just what is being talked about, but also who is doing the talking. Trump is the last person I would send on such a mission. Dennis Rodman is too tough an act for Trump to follow. I can see Trump preparing for this meeting:

Trump: “Where is North Korea, again?”

Aid: “It’s the northern of the two countries on the Korean Peninsula, Mr. President.”

Trump: “What’s a peninsula?”

Aid: “It’s not important, Mr. President. We’ll be meeting at a neutral site, anyway.”

Trump: “Do they have geisha girls there?”

Aid: “No, Mr. President. That’s Japan.”

Trump: “Can we meet in Japan?”

Apparently, the way these things go is, deputies and experts meet first, and if things progress, it works up ultimately to a meeting between the top dogs. No negotiations with North Korea have ever gotten that far, because the way things go with them is, they make promises, get promises in exchange, then renege.

Leading off with a meeting with Trump is far too great a prize to give away to Kim on a first date (though the idea evokes pleasant memories of a first date I had once who asked, “Would you like desert before dinner?” But I digress.)

No, Trump’s meeting with Kim as a first step would be as stupid as, say, moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem with nothing in return from Israel. Oh, wait. Trump has done exactly that.

We can’t let Trump near North Korea! He’s dumb enough to believe that he can talk North Korea into giving up its nuclear arsenal. Please, don’t tell him where the Korean Peninsula is.

Seriously, this meeting is South Korean President Moon’s wish as much as it is Kim’s. Let South Korea do the spade work, say a mountain or two of it, and then get back to us with something more substantive than that Kim said the word “denuclearization.” That’s middle school gossip, not negotiation.

Trump’s Stormy Forecast: I think we may be underestimating this Stormy Daniels. She seems to have a good head on her shoulders for business (in addition to other impressive body parts), which informs her outing the Donald.

Stormy has Trump in a compromising position, so to speak, that Vladimir Putin must envy. She is, to quote a close friend about Melanie Griffith’s character in Something Wild, “Every man’s dream; every man’s nightmare.”

I hope to watch one of her movies. In fact, I already have. You may have, too. She appeared in “Knocked Up,” a stoner movie with Seth Rogan, which I  loved, and, according to the website “Ranker,” whatever that is, she appeared in “The 40 year old Virgin,” the only Steve Carrel movie I did not (though I did not see her name(s) in the credits).

Of course, Stormy’s forté is Porn, and she is a genuine pornographic super star. She has won every award and recognition possible in that industry. She acts and directs.

Stormy stands to make a whole lot of money off the Trump zipper saga. You can be damn sure her movie rentals and sales are skyrocketing. (I wonder how many evangelicals are watching them.) I expect she has an offer of much, much more than $130,000 for her story. What would some people pay for a photo of Trump’s fat, naked butt humping a porn queen?

I hope the dozen or more women who claimed to have experienced not consensual sex, but sexual abuse or assault, by Trump, without result, are enjoying this. Payback is a bitch, Donald.

Basketball: College basketball holds no interest for me, and less so the NBA. Oddly, however, I consider the NCAA Tournament the best event in sports, and I watch as many games as I can.

I’d like to be able to say I’m interested in how Oklahoma’s basketball team fares, but I’m not. Football is my drug of choice. (I do enjoy watching OU’s women’s softball team, though.)

I do know one thing about OU this year. It’s been in all the papers. After getting off to a good start – they were 14-2 and ranked #4 – they collapsed. OU ended the season 18-13, 8-10 in conference play. They were 1-11 for February!

I was, therefore, stunned to see them seeded #10 in the Midwest Region. OU has a good coach. I don’t know what happened this year, but apparently it wasn’t pretty. I don’t expect to see them in the tournament for more than one game.

Status of the States: A very good friend thinks I should have given the cup to Arizona last week. Actually, I did, but he says it should have been for a different reason, and he has a point.

So, I’ll give it to Arizona again this week for his reason, which is: The Republican controlled legislature is trying to screw with our bi-partisan, independent legislative districting commission.

Our anti-gerrymandering law was enacted in 2000 by popular vote. It established a commission comprising two Democrats, two Republicans and an Independent as chairman to draw the district boundaries, using professional help.

As soon as the work of the commission was announced, Republican Governor Jan Brewer saw that it was fair, and so she immediately tried to sabotage it. The commission has been a target of Republicans ever since.

Gerrymandering is corrosive to democracy, and its siren call is irresistible to politicians of every stripe. It is a chronic worst state condition.

This cancer will never be cured until there is an independent governmental agency of demographic and geographic experts charged with establish boundaries for every state.

The President and the Porn Star Get it On

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on March 10, 2018

An intellectual and ethical dilemma confronts me. I take the position that consensual sex by a politician is his or her affair and none of my business, unless it interferes with his or her job. Intellectual honesty and consistency require me to include President Trump, which I have and do.

Nevertheless, I would enjoy nothing more than to see Trump’s affair with Stormy Daniels bring him to ruin. I have tried to think of a way to carve out an exception in my position for Trump, but I cannot think of one. Consensual sex is consensual sex, and there’s no getting around it. Now, if Trump is caught breaking the law by paying her off with campaign funds or something like that, I am all in for it.

That said, I can only hope that Trump gets his comeuppance from one of the 17 women who have reported being sexually assaulted by him, or another, fresher one. But even that may not do it. Apparently, Trump’s uneducated, male, white base doesn’t see a difference between consensual sex and sexual assault. Judging from the 2016 election results, neither do 53% of white women.  I lay this all on the ladies. They had their chance to elect a qualified woman and blew it.

 

A Moment of Sympathy for the Trump Children

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

The Trump children have endured unwelcome scrutiny since their old man became president. Cockroaches live in the dark beneath the refrigerator to avoid being seen for the vermin they are. In a reverse manner, these children soar above us in opulent, pampered privacy to avoid being seen for the gypsies, tramps and thieves they are.

Dad has made this difficult if not impossible. We know who they are now, even if they didn’t want us to, because it comes at a high price for them. So with this, I extend sympathy to each.

Donald, Jr. In chronological order, we begin with Junior. He seeks approval from a father whose own father, Fred, never paid any attention to him until Trump’s older brother died, after which Donald was nothing but a comparative disappointment.

Junior learned about business and ethics at his father’s knee. Unfortunately, his father is a poor business man and corrupt. You have to have some sympathy for a young man who grows up in those circumstances.

Finally, Junior exercises his Second Amendment rights by shooting large animals. This is OK with his father’s base, but the rest of us hate him for it.

Ivanka: Clearly her dad’s favorite and the apple of his eye. They seem to have a close relationship, although Ivanka can never be sure if daddy is going to hug her or grab her by the pussy. Trump has said publicly that if Ivanka weren’t his daughter, he would date her. He surely meant this as a compliment, but it comes across as perverse and potentially incestuous.

Ivanka married a man not unlike her father, which many women are said to do. Her husband is rich, but dangerously deep in debt, and he may go to jail (as I said, not unlike her father). Conjugal visits won’t suit Ivanka’s pristine lifestyle.

Eric: deserves the most sympathy. Eric doesn’t seem to have much juice in the family business and is given no meaningful responsibilities. He’s like Fredo in the Godfather.

Also, he is not as handsome as his two older siblings, and people make fun of him about this. Seth Meyers is particularly harsh with such jokes about Eric. I am not fond of ad hominems. They criticize personal things, such as Eric’s appearance rather than his positions…if he has any, which he can’t do anything about. This is unkind and unfair.

Tiffany: For whom, I think, not as much sympathy is warranted. Tiffany seems to have figured how to succeed in the Trump world, namely, keep away from them. She’s like Princess Anne in the British Royal family, though she has had a couple of Hollywood-style public run-ins.

Tiffany has a brain, beauty, a degree from the University of Pennsylvania and is studying law at George Washington University, all of which gives her a better chance than the others to avoid jail. Still, she’s stuck with being a Trump.

Barron: Trump’s only child by his third wife, Melania. Barron is too young to appreciate everything that is going on around him at this historic time for his family, and he seems slightly confused about it all. Perhaps he is on the very mild end of the autism spectrum, or just very shy. Anyone anywhere on the autism spectrum deserves some sympathy. But Barron has a protective mother to look after him, who has sharp, well-manicured claws and fierce, though beautiful, eyes. Barron is safe with her.