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Thoughts on Events the Week of May 25

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on June 2, 2020

Freedom of Speech: I’m pretty much an absolutist when it comes to all the First Amendment rights. But as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, the right of free speech is not absolute. One of the limits, in my view, should have to do with facts, not opinions. Daniel Patrick Moynihan observed wisely that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts.

It was a colossal blunder for Congress to exempt social media from responsibility or liability for what they allow to be posted on their websites. It allows people (and bots) to post lies willy nilly all over the place with no accountability for their dissemination. That’s not right on its face.

Twitter made some limp wristed attempts to address this issue this week, by adding oblique disclaiming comments on a couple of President Trump’s tweets, but the refutations were week and open to misinterpretation. They should be stronger and clearer and relentless.

For example, when Trump posts a flat out lie, Twitter’s comment should be “This tweet is factually incorrect.” If after this comment, Trump continues to post the same statement, then the next comment should be, “Since the writer keeps posting a statement that has been debunked, we assume he knows it is factually incorrect, but is posting it anyway, so you should infer that he knows he is lying now, and not just mistaken.”

Social media will resist this much policing for a number of reasons, one of which is that once they have posted that second comment, it begs the question why they are letting a flat out lie remain on their site anymore at all. They would have to remove it. This is Okay with me. Trump says enough stupid stuff as opinions to scuttle him anyway.

Oh, and another thing. Nothing should be permitted to be posted by a bot. Bots are not humans. Surely, we have the technology to block them.

Morning Joe: As an prime example of how bad things have gotten on social media, President Trump via tweet accused Joe Scarborough, a talk show host on MSNBC,  of killing one of his interns many years ago when Scarborough was a Congressperson, though the coroner ruled the intern’s death an accident and Scarborough wasn’t even in the same state when she died.

These tweets not only should not have been allowed on social media sites for a New York minute, they should be actionable.

Worst state: Try as I might to achieve diversity, it is difficult to give the cup to any state but Kansas these days. On the plus side for the Sunflower State, Mike Pompeo will not be running for Senate this term; he let the deadline to file pass. Presumably, Pompeo prefers being Secretary of State, and may have his eyes on the big prize down the road. He is a nakedly ambitious man. However, I am pretty certain Pompeo’s political career will end the day Trump leaves office, if not before.

On the minus side, Pompeo’s passing on the Senate race opens the door for Kris Kobach, a Kansan who is a Pompeo wannabe only without the brains. Kobach hates immigrants, Muslims, blacks. He hates everybody but pasty old white guys, and just the fact that he is on the primary ballot wins Kansas the cup again this week.

Thoughts on Events the Week of May 18

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on May 28, 2020

The Numbing Sameness of the News: At a time when we are desperate for diversions in this period of self-isolation, the news offers no stimulation.

The news cycle is on a continuous loop: the death toll from Covid-19 keeps rising (I’ll win my bet on deaths being over 100,000 – just like science forecasted – before the end of May); the Trump administration tries to cloud the issue; Trump himself denies any responsibility for anything, insulting people gratuitously and looking for any scapegoat for his failures. Then, the same thing the next news day, with perhaps a new shiny object.

The scapegoat de jure is China, whose initial response to Covid-19 was little better than ours, though they got their act together sooner. Previous scapegoats have run the gamut from the current, such as his own medical experts, Democrats, uppity females, and that old standby, the media, especially uppity female media, all the way back to Obama and institutions established over the last 70 years. To go back any further to find a scapegoat, Trump will need a time machine.

But it doesn’t really matter, and Trump doesn’t really care. He just needs to blame somebody, anybody. I hope everyone else will be as sick of the pattern as I am come November when it is time to vote. (Actually, I will already have voted…by mail.)

The nature of natural disasters: To be sure, and fair, and intellectually consistent, any natural disaster is going to be bad, and we can’t rationally pin them on the president. No president caused Hurricane Katrina, or Hurricane Sandy or Covid-19.

The Covid-19 virus may be the worst kind of natural disaster. It’s new to our species, so we don’t know anything about it, let alone have any immunity to it. We are starting from scratch and learning as we go. Mistakes and missteps were inevitable.

But what we can judge a president on is how he or she responds to the disaster, and in the case of Katrina and Covid-19, presidents failed miserably in each. This should not be surprising since the two presidents in question are the two worst presidents since the Civil War.

Worst State: Speaking of worsts, as long as Mike Pompeo is on the national scene, Kansas will always be in the running for the cup, and Pompeo certainly made a strong case for himself again this week. But picking Kansas every week because of him is becoming monotonous, and in any case, I think we need to reset the bar for Kansas until Pompeo is gone.

So, let’s give the cup to Texas this week, because it has more uninsured residents than any other state by a margin, and it seems to want it that way.  With all the job layoffs from Covid-19, it’s estimated that Texas will add 1.4 million people to its roll of uninsured citizens. Something like this is happening in many states. It is one of the myriad problems with our employer-based healthcare system.

But in Texas, the situation is more egregious, because Texas already had more uninsured citizens than any other state. Texas is one of those irresponsible states that did not expand Medicaid as is available through Obamacare, showing naked disregard for its poorer citizens. Texas deserves the cup this week.

Thoughts on Events the Week of May 11

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on May 21, 2020

I’m running late this week. Sorry.

Obamagate: President Trump says former President Obama has committed “the biggest political crime in American history, by far!” He says we all know what it is, though we don’t, nor does he, because it doesn’t exist.

But I’m sure that in Trump’s twisted mind, Obama has committed many crimes, for example being more intelligent, better educated, more competent, more accomplished, more eloquent, more popular and having had a larger crowd for his inauguration.

But there is one crime that Obama is guilty of in Trump’s mind that is worse than all the rest, a crime for which there is no appeal and no reprieve: he’s black. Trump is a flat-out racist bigot and the President’s obvious superiority over him must gall Trump no end.

The Covid-19 Spectrum: An objective look at a map of the U.S. showing virus cases by state – some with cases increasing, some with cases steady and some with cases declining – makes it clear there is no one size fits all solution.

The point is that it’s not black or white, red or blue, open or shut. We need to stop thinking like that and work out an actual plan that addresses the different situations and needs. If only we had a government capable of such a thing. That not being the case, I’m staying hunkered down for a while longer. In fact, I may be the last one to peek out of the air raid shelter.

Worst State: It’s no secret I’ve been thinking of reviewing the six worst states, possibly removing one from the list and inserting another in its place.

One of the reasons I have not done this yet is that at this moment, the state that I would remove from the list is Arizona, my own personal state at present, and though I think it is doing a better than the other worst states, I’m not sure I am being completely objective about this.

If I were to replace one worst state with another, I could do a lot worse than selecting Wisconsin, a state that has run off the rails. I don’t know what happened. Wisconsin used to be an enlightened state with a good educational system and strong sense of environmental responsibility. Today, the government is dominated by radical right-wing extremists, utterly uninterested in representative government, only political power.

Worse, even the court system has jumped into the political fray. The state supreme court has given up any pretense of judicial independence. It is the first state of which I am aware where the court has become an aggressively partisan political player.

Kentucky would be another good candidate. It’s southern, like the other worst states (Oklahoma is actually midwestern, but it thinks it is southwestern), with all that implies, and Moscow Mitch McConnell has pretty much screwed it up for a generation or two.

If I made the call today, it would be Arizona out, Wisconsin in. But I don’t have to make the call today and I won’t. I’ve decided to wait until after the November election to see where the chips fall. The elections could change a lot. On the other hand, if Trump wins, I will quit blogging all together, so there won’t be any more “worst states.”

I wanted to give the worst states – Alabama, Arizona, Kansas, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas – the week off so I may think about this some more, but I can’t because Mike Pompeo. He’s been such an obsequious sycophant this week that Kansas gets the cup.

Thoughts on Events the Week of May 3

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on May 11, 2020

The mendacity and stupidity of the Donald:  Okay, let me see if I have got this straight. More than anything else, Trump wants to open up the country because the pinched economy is hurting his reelection chances. Yet he has refused to mobilize the nation’s resources to produce, distribute and utilize testing materials, the best currently available way to impede the virus. Now, he is urging everyone to run out and gather together for germ exchange fests.

The Trump’s administration set some guidelines for states to meet before opening up. Has a single damn state met the guidelines? No, yet Trump is letting them all skate. In fact, he is encouraging the ignoring of his own standards. (Did I just use the words standards and Trump in the same sentence?)

The CDC stepped in with guidance for states to follow when opening up. States, at least Republican states, are not following them, so what does Trump do? He withdraws the guidelines. No guidelines, no violations. It’s as simple as that.

I’m taking the over on American deaths reaching north of 100,000 by Memorial Day. But I’m taking the under on how many states will retreat from opening up too quickly, because….

Making Angels in America: The evidence is clear that Trump doesn’t give a rodent’s rectum if minorities, the elderly, meatpackers or prisoners live or die. In fact, it’s apparent that Trump doesn’t care who lives or dies except himself, and possibly Ivanka, and many Republican governors, at least, seem to be fine with this. I understand about Trump. He is the most narcissistic sociopath I have ever seen or heard of. But the Republican governors?

Justice in America:  The Department of Justice has gone completely to hell in a handbasket. DOJ attorneys are now defending the criminals, even self-confessed ones, instead of prosecuting them.

Attorney General William Barr is such a Trump sycophant that he has become complicit in Trump’s crimes, lies, obstructions and disinformation to an extent that would make Nixon’s AG John Mitchell and Dubbya’s AG Alberto Gonzales blanch. (The former went to jail and the latter had to resign for his mendacity.)

Meanwhile, police, particularly in the South, continue to take target practice on blacks. A couple of knuckle dragging, mouth breathing Georgia crackers with associations with law enforcement, shot and killed a black man who was jogging, because, you know, since he was jogging, he must have been running from a capital crime.

The local sheriff and district attorney couldn’t find any malfeasance in these circumstances. It took an actual honest officer of the court to step in. What a goddamn mess. I am sick to death of this racist shit.

There is an odious, racist joke in Texas, based on actual events. The body of a black man wrapped in chains is dragged out of a lake. The sheriff says is that just like a nigger to steal more chain than he can swim away with. This actually happened. The sheriff could find no evidence of a crime. The Feds had to step in. I’m not sure the Feds would step in today.

Relief: Still no relief check for me. I’m beginning to wonder if it’s due to incompetence, a constant with the Trump administration, or because I call him what he is. I owe money for 2019 taxes, which I haven’t filed yet, so if/when I get the money, I will just turn around and send it back to the government.

Worst State:  It was hard to pick a winner this week. All the worst states were opening up too aggressively, even the two I mentioned that seemed to be doing a little better last week. (Arizona let our pig part president into the state and let him get away without wearing a mask…at a mask making factory.)

But the cup goes to Oklahoma, where, by my count of news stories, redneck Okie citizens have been the most abusive of employees of businesses who have asked properly for customers to obey rules for mask wearing and social distancing. And by abuse, I mean physical assault.

Thoughts on Events the Week of April 27

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on May 5, 2020

Trump thinks donors are his friends and his voters are pigs: I picked up on this one almost as fast as the Clorox cocktail cure for Covid-19 Trump was touting. Apparently, many others have too.

Trump waved the Defense Production Act around like a dog with a chew toy, but he did not use it to mandate production of testing equipment (the priority need for understanding and therefore controlling the virus), PPE equipment or ventilators.

But when the major meat packers wanted to re-open their lethal plants, not only did he use the Act to permit this, but he promised to indemnify the producers for all the people they killed in the process. I’m not even sure this last part is legal, but it probably is. Hell, gun manufacturers are indemnified from suits for the deaths they cause.

It amazes me that Trump voters think he has their interests at heart when all the evidence points in the opposite direction.

A modest suggestion: There is something obscene about people going hungry and agriculture destroying food simultaneously. It haunts me to see long lines of cars waiting to get food, and then read about meat producers planning to put down animals because there is no way to process them. Since Trump is now mandating, how about mandating his meat processing magnets to process some for the people needing food right now? Here is my suggestion:

Have each major meat processor – pork, beef, poultry, eggs, allocate one plant to the purpose of serving food banks. Refit it to specifications established by the CDC to create maximum safety for workers.

Send to these plants the overstocked livestock that would otherwise be destroyed, process it at these plants and distribute it to food banks.

In a like manner, mandate farmers who are currently plowing under produce that cannot be harvested or sold, to stop that and send the excess to the Feds for distribution to food banks as well.

The federal government would pay the processors for this, of course. In fact, the Feds should oversee the entire process. Any competent government would be able to manage such a feat, though in our case, we may have to have the states do it, since our Federal government can’t hit the floor with its hat, and has no charity in its heart.

The end of April as we know it: Around mid-April, I opined that given the apparent death rate from Covid-19, it would be unlikely that we would reach the forecast of 60,000 deaths by the end of April, and considered this as evidence that the effects of the virus would extend beyond April, and so the crimping of the economy would also have to continue beyond as well.

I was wrong on both counts, apparently, certainly the death count. At the end of April, we had more than 62,000 deaths by official, and certainly understated, count. And, many states are spitting the bit and racing to open their isolation and social distancing protocols, regardless.

May Day: I saw my first Communist May Day Parade in Paris in the mid-70s. I wonder if many countries not Russia or China even have these anymore. No county seems to care very much about its workers these days.

The beginning of May is the time many states are busting out the gate to expose their workers to Covid-19. Good luck with that, and I am now taking the over on the initial 100,000 + death total.

The China did it with a lie on the internets: What possible practical purpose is there to blame China for a natural catastrophe other than to stoke the xenophobic fears of Trump’s ignorant base for political gain? It is odious and farcical, particularly considering that the Trump administration is engaged in false propaganda as China. The fire has already started. Let’s concentrate on putting it out now and talk about how it started afterward.

Fry’s Fail: The Kroger chain goes by the brand name Fry’s in my town. Like many Kroger stores, apparently, Fry’s opens these days at 6 am for seniors only before opening for the general public at 7 am, presumably to give seniors some extra measure of protection and sense of security.

I went to Fry’s just before 6 am recently to test this idea. There were several people already there, but they were politely lined up at least 6 feet apart, and all of them save one was wearing a mask. (I assumed Fry’s would stop him at the door, but they didn’t.)

When I got inside, I was startled to discover that almost none of the employees was wearing a mask. As I was checking out, I mentioned to one of the employees, also in the high-risk older demographic, how surprised I was to see so many employees without masks. She said, and I quote, “We have a choice.” I thought if I were the store manager, I’d give the employees a choice too: wear a mask or find another job.

One might think it irresponsible to invite at-risk seniors into a store with an implied promise of safety and then be reckless with their safety when they came. I know I think so.

I resolved not to return to this store until after the virus has passed or hell freezes over, whichever comes later, but I had an emergency need and returned one morning. This day, almost all the employees were wearing masks, but not the lady I spoke with before. I walked up to her and said, “I cannot believe you are so ignorant.” I know this sounds harsh and rude, but when I came back to check out, she was wearing a mask, so I have no regrets.

Worst state: Who to choose, who to choose? All the worst states have chosen to open up, as you would expect. Two of them – Kansas and Arizona – are doing it a little more responsibly. So, let’s let the other four worst states – Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama and South Carolina split the cup this week. And may their citizens not have to pay too heavy a price for their profligacy.

Thoughts on the 2020 NFL Draft

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on April 27, 2020

Three differences characterized this year’s NFL draft. First, of course, was the format. Instead of the Las Vegas extravaganza, the NFL followed the isolation and social distancing protocols required due to Covid-19, and everything was done virtually. Overall, I thought the NFL handled it well. In the later rounds, when the time between picks shortened, ABC, the network I watched, had trouble keeping up with the picks. They tried to cram in too much feature material at that pace.

Second, the talent this year is as deep as I can remember. There were at least 15 players who were legitimate top 10 ones, and the second round looked a lot like the first. There were several excellent quarterbacks, and the number of talented wide receivers was astounding, reflecting, I think, the evolving game at the college level. (Spoiler alert: OU got the best one.)

Finally, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell came off looking human and likeable. At times, he was very casual, almost slouchy. I think his stock went up with the public.

How ‘bout them Cowboys? It was a little embarrassing to see the owner and head coach of the Dallas Cowboys dancing on national television – neither was particularly good at it. But you cannot blame them, because University of Oklahoma wide receiver Cee Dee Lamb had just fallen into their lap at #17 in the draft. Since Lamb was rated the sixth best player in the entire draft by the Cowboys, you can understand why the ‘Boys were so excited. They never dreamed that Lamb would be there. They jumped on him like a duck on a June Bug.

This unexpected event upset the Cowboys’ initial plans. It was thought Dallas would take an edge rusher with their first pick and defensive backs thereafter, but after taking Lamb and dancing, they got back on schedule and took two very promising DBs with subsequent picks, and then began filling back up needs at edge and center with excellent picks, I think. Each player taken was ranked higher than when Dallas was able to take them.

I would have taken Lamb under any circumstances, but there is an underlying reason Dallas was safe taking the risk of changing their plan to take an edge rusher first, as I see it. Dallas has signed two suspended edge rushers – Randy Gregory and Alton Smith – who are hoping to be reinstated before next season, whenever that it. I think Gregory at least should win his case, because he was apparently suspended for using (a lot of) pot, and pot is not even a banned substance in the NFL player agreement anymore. I think Goodell will relent on Gregory. I do not know enough about Smith to comment.

Along the way, The Cowboys took DL Neville Gallimore, also from Oklahoma, who could end up being a real steal. Gallimore’s sophomore and junior seasons were nothing to write home about, but that was when OU had a terrible defensive coaching staff that produced one of the worst defensive teams in OU and NCAA history. After a new defensive coaching staff was brought in, Gallimore’s play skyrocketed his senior year. I think he could really blossom under professional coaching.

None of the other NFC East teams had distinguished drafts and Philadelphia’s was poor. Washington got a great player in Chase Young, but they lost one when they were forced to trade Lane Johnson, another OU product and perennial All-Pro player to San Francisco, because Lane flat out refused to play another down for the Redskins.

Bottom line: The Cowboys nailed this draft, and I think they should be a lock on the NFC East this season, assuming there is one.

The most intriguing pick in the draft also involved a Sooner – quarterback Jalen Hurts to the Philadelphia Eagles – who only three years ago selected Carson Wentz and paid him a ton of money to go out on the field and get injured frequently.

The most charitable way to look at this pick is that Philadelphia wanted a hedge against their huge investment in Wentz, given his history of injuries. My take is that it goes deeper than that. I think the Eagles are, deep down, no longer completely sold on Wentz.

The worst draft was that of the Green Bay Packers. They not only did not help themselves much, but in the process seriously disappointed their certain Hall of Fame bound franchise quarterback – Aaron Rodgers.

Last year, the Packers seemed to be one piece away from getting to the championship game. Instead of getting that piece in the first round, they drafted Rodgers’ future replacement instead. Rodgers wants to win now. He cannot have been pleased.

I thought the Baltimore Ravens had a very good draft as well.

It seemed that every eligible player on the four playoff teams was drafted high. It made me wonder why, with so much talent taken in the draft, why Ohio State hasn’t done better in the college championship hunt than they have the last few years.

Lots of good players in the draft. I hope they get to play this fall, for their sake and mine.

Thoughts on Events the Week of April 20

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on April 26, 2020

Small Business Loans Program: The mishandling, corruption and fraud in administrating this program is emblematic of everything that is wrong with American politics today.

With this program, as with all such federal distribution programs, however they are set up in theory, when the lobbyists, fat cat donors, corporate executives, bankers, hedge fund managers, and their enablers in the legislature are finished, the bulk of the money is always raked off by them before their intended beneficiaries ever see a nickel of it, and what they do see is the hind tit of the total. And there is nobody to stop it the way our system works today. The wrong people are going to jail.

The bodies politic: Over the last couple of days, I have been trying to calculate the effect of Covid-19 on the voting public. I don’t mean the political calculation. We all know what that is. Trump’s base is not moving at all. It is like a diamond, rock solid. But like a diamond, it cannot grow. In fact, the only influence on a diamond is compression. On the other hand, every time Trump opens his mouth, I see independent voters, mostly women, revulsed by Trump and moving away from him as if he had put his hand on their knee.

No, I’m thinking of the demographic calculation. Note: this is a rather cold- blooded calculation, so please forgive me.

On the one hand, the virus is killing “people of color” (can’t we find a better term?) disproportionately, and most of them, blacks in particular, vote Democratic, so this favors Republicans. On the other hand, this virus, like most others, kills older people disproportionately, who tend to be more conservative, hence Republican, which favors Democrats.

Switching to whites, the virus seems to prefer males (probably because we are more careless and age faster), and many white males, particularly uneducated ones, tend to be not only Republican, but Trumpsters. Every time an uneducated white male goes down, you can scratch a Trump voter off the list. And there are many more whites than people of color, so I think this favors Democrats.

States with large, urban populations, which tend to be blue, are being hardest hit, which favors Republicans in theory, but these states (except Texas, Louisiana and Georgia) tend to be so Democratic that it’s hard to imagine enough of their citizens dying off to change the color of the state.

Whereas small, rural states are so red, it is hard to imagine enough change from the lethality of the virus to have much effect on them either. Fortunately, from the Democratic viewpoint, these tend to be states with small populations and hence few electoral college votes. For my money, you can have them all, except those where the fishing is good.

However, if there is going to be any shift among red or blues states, I think it might be red ones, Nebraska, for instance, whose residences see many of their friends and neighbors being wiped out by ignorance and inaction of their leaders, and may begin to wonder what the hell is happening here?

Bottom line, I think when the first wave of the virus has passed through before the election, there will be more “absent” Republican voters than Democratic ones. But I’m really counting on independent female suburban voters to put an end to Trump. The virus will be a contributing factor, to be sure, but only an indirect one.

Ban All Immigrants: Trump announced a total, temporary ban on immigration to protect against the virus and save American jobs (what jobs?).

Trump made this announcement to everyone simultaneously, including his own immigration officials, which caught them completely by surprise and unprepared. Fortunately, the ban bans practically nobody, so little if anything will change, except Trump gave his ignorant, xenophobic base a good jack off. (Sudden thought: if Trump jacks off his base, is that masterbase-ion?)

There is specious plausibility to this idea, but Trump got it ass backwards. We are the ones with all the virus cases. Other countries should be banning us from coming there, which for the most part, they are.

Animal Farm: The Department of Health and Human Services raised a lot of eyebrows when it put Brian Harrison, chief of staff at HHS in a responsible position dealing with Covid-19. Harrison has minimal experience with infectious diseases, but he owned a dog breeding business for six years, so there you are. I’m sure he’ll do a hell of a job.

Which is just what President George W. Bush said about Michael D. Brown, head of FEMA when Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana. Brown’s qualification for FEMA was that he was Judges and Stewards Commissioner for the International Arabian Horse Association.

Horses and dogs, Incompetent Republican administrations. Is there a pattern developing here?

Worst State: Early on, I decided that Texas would get the worst state cup this week because of Representative Louis Gohmert, easily the stupidest person in the U.S. House, which is really saying something. (When I want to call someone stupid, I call them a Gohmert.)

Gohmert announced that there is a miracle cure for Covid-19, a magic sprinkle powder that Germany developed and is using with great success, though no such powder exists, and Germany has never heard of it.

Then lo and behold, Gohmert is trumped by Trump, who suggests the best cure may be to ingest Lysol or Clorox or some such disinfectant, and infuse UV light into ones’ body, though he was vague about how this might happen.

So, we must infer from this that Trump is not only as stupid as Gohmert, but rabbit ass crazy, as well. Nevertheless, this is a weekly state competition, so Texas still gets the cup.

Thoughts on Events the Week of April 13

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on April 20, 2020

“When somebody’s the president of the United States, the authority is total.” Kind of reminds you of Nixon and the good old days of criminality and corruption in the White House, doesn’t it?

Trump made this assertion and then backed off quickly, something he never does, but in this case with good reasons, not least of which is that he sounded like Nixon.

Next, it’s not true. The Constitution (10th Amendment) gives the states authority in areas not specifically given the federal government, and local policing authority is one of them.

More significant politically, Republicans have always been the party of states’ rights and Trump’s assertion upset a lot of Republican politicians. Clinging to their states’ rights mantra is how Republicans get away with disgusting things in some states, which they cannot get away with federally. Republicans want to hold onto that.

More worrisome to Trump, it must have dawned on him that if he has total authority, he has total responsibility, something he wants no part of. If he spreads the authority among the states, he can hope to dodge any blame.

That being said, make no mistake that, though the Federal Government doesn’t have the authority to boss states around on local matters, it has many ways to make a state’s life miserable if it doesn’t cooperate.

Trump’s check is in the mail: It would be laughable were it not so pathetic that Trump insisted his name be on the relief checks and then said he didn’t know how it happened. This poor, needy man.

Having Trump’s name on a check, even if it is just a blob and not the official signature (He’s not authorized to sign checks on the Treasury, thank goodness. He’s stealing enough from us already.), is not something that raises confidence. I can think of any number of things that Trump has insisted on putting his name on that have gone bankrupt, sideways or been criminally prosecuted.

As an aside, I have submitted a tax return and I receive Social Security, but I have not received a relief check with his name on it or otherwise. Not even a direct deposit. I’m just sayin’.

Shutting Down the Congress: Trump has threatened to do this if Congress doesn’t come back into session and approve his nominations. Setting aside that Republicans (I’m looking at you, Moscow Mitch) started the odious practice of keeping Congress open this way and did it routinely to President Obama to frustrate his appointments, Trump can’t shut down Congress except in extreme, specific circumstances that don’t apply here, and somehow I don’t see Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi embracing the idea.

Then there is the insult to the Constitution that Trump wants to make recess appointments to posts he hasn’t even submitted a permanent nominee for yet, because he knows the Senate couldn’t stomach many of them. Recess appointments were not intended to evade Congressional oversight. Not even Moscow Mitch will put up with this nonsense.

Close the Post Office: Though the Constitution requires a post office, Republicans have been trying to kill it for years, or at least privatize it so they can turn it over to their rich friends.

But now Trump has another incentive to kill the post office. It would put an end to those pesky mail in ballot arguments before the upcoming election.

One World Together at Home: I watched this special (at home) Saturday night. I did not intend to, but someone with influence on me suggested I do so I did, and I’m glad I did. It was overall a terrific, moving effort that had to overcome many technical obstacles due to the virus it was condemning.

One thing I enjoyed about it particularly was that it was basically an homage to the World Health Organization (WHO) and other do gooders, which Trump is trying to blame for his own failures. Practically every celebrity or expert thanked and/or praised the WHO. The show was basically saying “World to Trump: kiss our rosy red rectum.”  I could imagine Trump stewing in his orange juice upon hearing it. I expect a tweet storm soon.

Prediction: When the virus is finally under control, many new homes will be built with showers in the garage.

Worst state: All the worst states, save one, are resisting the social distancing and shelter at home guidance for containing Covid-19. What else would you expect from these sorry states?

That one state, surprisingly, is Arizona, who is doing a better job than the others. To be sure, it is not perfect. Remember last week when I said our useless Governor Doug Ducey had included some unworthy businesses on the essential list, such as hair parlors and nail salons? However, compared to the other worst states, we’re taking it pretty seriously. So, all the worst states except Arizona get a share of the cup this week.

“Big Wonderful Thing: A History of Texas,” By Stephen Harrington

Posted in Reviews - of books, mostly by EloiSVM42 on April 16, 2020

Having not lived in Texas for almost 20 years now (Has it really been that long?), though I still make frequent visits, I have been going through a period of nostalgia for my adopted state, with the result I have read three books about Texas in rather rapid succession: God Save Texas, by Lawrence Wright, Goodbye to a River, by John Graves and Big Wonderful Thing, by Stephen Harrigan. All three are excellent reads, but Harrigan’s book is a tour de force.

Harrigan acknowledges that when he was approached to write this book by the University of Texas Press, he was not at all sure he was the right man for the job, not being a professional historian.

It turns out that Harrigan is perfect1y suited to the job. He is an excellent historian, as is vividly obvious from the book. Also, he has a great deal of personal knowledge about Texas, having been writing magazine articles about it for Texas Monthly and other publications for years. He has interviewed many of the characters covered in the modern-day era of the book. Most important, Harrigan is native born and a Texan through and through, with a deep understanding of the culture.

(Is there such a thing as a professional historian? I know there is such a thing as a professor of history, but is history itself a profession? Napoleon called it “a lie agreed to.”

I wasn’t sure at first whether I wanted to read this book or not, but I was hooked in the opening chapter, about Big Tex, the gigantic automated cowboy greeter at the annual Texas State Fair in Dallas – by far the largest state fair in the country. I couldn’t put it down. (At 830 pages, it wasn’t easy to pick up either, but Harrigan’s writing style helps it along smoothly and enjoyably.)

Big Wonderful Thing is a very credible history of the state, spiked and spiced with an anthology of events, celebrities, villains, clowns, cultural icons and absurdities. (I’ll let you decide where George W. Bush belongs.) Its title is part of a quote from Georgia O’Keeffe’s description of Texas when she first moved to Canyon, Texas to teach art in 1916.

Though it is obvious the author is deeply and abidingly in love with Texas, he doesn’t shy away from its flaws. He addresses them straight on, including Texas’ greatest ones: rampant racism and extreme xenophobia. He evokes Faulkner, who loved and despised the South simultaneously. I’m like these guys, only without any of the writing talent. I love Texas, but I despise its racism, xenophobia and blood culture.

Harrington also has thoughts about the contradiction of two disparate Texas characteristics: valor and arrogance, though he acknowledges the obvious that valor is in decline and arrogance is ascendant.

The blood culture is understandable, though inexcusable. Texas has experienced turmoil, conflict, war and revolution throughout its history, between and among Spain, Mexico, American immigrants, America and Native American Indians, particularly the Comanches, up to and beyond the Civil War. (Texas fought on the side of the Confederacy enthusiastically and was enthusiastically punished for it after the war.)

One of the minor themes I enjoyed reading about was the shift in political dominance in Texas from Democrat to Republican. I saw the exact same thing happen in Oklahoma when I was attending the University of Oklahoma. (Every Oklahoman secretly wants to be a Texan and thinks he or she basically is, except for the second Saturday in October when Oklahoma plays Texas in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.)

The funny thing about this change of party is that there wasn’t really any change at all. Both states are pathologically conservative, so, when Democrats became Republicans, their politics remained the same.

(This conservatism may be changing in Texas. Some think the state is turning purple, trending to blue. You can’t have three major cities without absorbing some cosmopolitanism. A major influx of Hispanics has had an influence also, which state politicians seem to be resisting like at the Alamo.)

Like the rest of America, Texas is a land of immigrants. It has been fought over by continuous streams of immigrants of various sorts, nationalities and motivations, fighting to hold and to live on it. (Think Six Flags Over Texas.) But, regarding immigration, Molly Ivins’ observation applies presciently that “Texas is just like the rest of the country, only more so.”

Harrigan sums it up thusly: “People viewing Texas from the outside have always recognized that there is something different about it, not just in its expanse but in its attitude, also, in its annoying, ineradicable mythic presumption. But it’s hard to live here and not feel a little of that presumption stirring inside you…there is … a hard-earned conviction that the word “Texan” belongs to you as righteously as it does to anyone else.” I certainly feel that way.

A colleague of mine used to tell this joke about himself. He was recruited to our advertising agency in Dallas from one in Chicago. For the first six months he lived in Texas, he looked down on it. Within 12 months, he had bought a pick-up truck, and within 18 months, he had a shotgun hanging on a rack in the back seat of the pick-up. That’s what Texas does to you.

Thoughts on Events the Week of April 6

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on April 12, 2020

Wisconsin: ignoring its own stay-at-home order, the Cheese Head State held its primary Tuesday, the only state with a primary scheduled in April not to postpone it, also refusing to adopt a mail-in only format, or even extending its mail-in deadline in response to the disruption of Covid-19, thus disenfranchising countless voters, even including those who requested mail-in ballot but had not yet received them.

This event brings into sharp relief the partisan divide between common sense on the one hand and determined ignorant spite on the other, not to mention a viciously partisan state supreme court, which has abandoned all pretense of judicial temperament.

The Republican Party has stopped trying to win votes and is now only trying to suppress them, because that’s what you do if voters don’t like your policies and you have no principles.

(An aside: the grandson of a friend and neighbor, a fine student who is already working at the Salk Institute, had narrowed his choice at which University to get his PhD to between the University of Chicago or the University of Wisconsin. On Tuesday, he chose Chicago over Wisconsin. I wonder why?)

Trump’s campaign rallies: I don’t watch Trump’s daily briefings on Covid-19 because they are not briefings at all, but surrogate political rallies, full of disinformation, happy talk, insults, media slamming and other lies. In other words, Trump’s typical disgusting farce.

However, I watched a few minutes of one recently, and I think the media is abetting Trump. They insist on asking questions about things Trump has said that are obviously lies, trying, I assume, to get him to tell the truth. This is futile. Trump is never going to tell the truth. The media are just giving him a chance to tell his lie again, helping him reinforce it.

I am now in the camp that the rallies shouldn’t be televised, only interviews with experts. Or in the alternative, charge trump’s campaign huge amounts to cover them and tag them as paid advertisements. They are, after all, nothing but campaign rallies.

Various and Sundry Inspectors General: Trump is firing them willy nilly, plus anyone whose functions resemble theirs, or anyone with any integrity, for that matter, because they insist on doing the right, responsible and/or legal thing, which shins a flashlight under the refrigerator where Trump and the other cockroaches abide.

Inspectors General, at least, are supposed to be independent, but so long as the executive branch can fire them at will, this is not possible. The only reason things have worked well so far is that there has never been a president corrupt enough to be truly afraid of them, only potentially embarrassed. There should be a limit to a president’s authority over IGs. Specifically, they should only be removeable for cause in the legal definition. Change the law.

Testing: I watch a lot of news about the virus because it is important, but there are two aspects of the information I am getting that frustrate me. First, I don’t think we know anything until there is much, much more testing. What we have done so far is an inconclusive smidgen.

Second, the numbers all seem to be expressed in absolutes. I would like to see them all reduced to per capita. For instance, ranking our number of cases and deaths to those in Spain or Italy or Sweden are meaningless to me unless they are reduced to account for the relative populations of the countries. Ditto for tests. Trump is bragging about their having been two million tests here, but two percent is a tiny fraction of our population. Other countries may be testing much higher percentages of their citizens (I’m certain most of them are), but the per capita calculation is not applied.

Re-Opening the economy: There is a silly debate as to when the economy should open back up and who will decide when that will be. Some say Trump and some say the virus. I say the economy will open up when people feel it’s safe enough to go back to work, and not before.

Linda Tripp died: I don’t say things like this very often. In fact, I try not to say or think them at all. But I am glad this miserable excuse for a human being is dead, and I’m happy that she is. Her betrayal of her “friend” Monica Lewinski exposed the worst kind of character. Iago was nicer to Othello.

As Lewinski herself said after Tripp sold her out, “I hate Linda Tripp.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Tomato/tomato: I say Trump’s base is determinedly ignorant. Jon Mecham thinks it is “willfully stupid.” You can decide.

Sudden Thought: How about firing everyone in the Trump administration remotely involved in the Navy chain of command and putting former Aircraft Carrier Teddy Roosevelt Captain Brett Crozier in charge? He seems to be the only one with the qualities required for leadership, and compassion for the personnel he commands.

Super Moon: One of these occurred this week. They occur when the moon is full and at a time when the moon is closer to Earth, which increases the impression. In fact, this moon occurred when it is closer to us than any other time this calendar year. I haven’t done the math (I’m not sure I could), but the moon was 14% closer to Earth than average, but the brightness appeared 30% greater. Interesting.

Worst State: Kansas is on a roll and gets the cup again this week because its Republican dominated legislature has overturned the Governor’s order prohibiting large gatherings, including religious services, so Kansans can all go to church on Easter and infect one another and those with whom they come in contact thereafter. You all deserve everything that happens to you.

As I publish, the Kansas State Supreme Court has sided with Democratic Governor Kelly and against the Republican legislative wackos, so religious crazies won’t be able to kill each other off after all, though I suspect some will still try.

(As an aside, the three hot spots in Kansas for Covid-19 all emanated from church gatherings. I’m just saying.)