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Thoughts on Events the Week of June 29

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on July 6, 2020

Russia is not our friend any more than North Korea is: The New York Times says Russia offered the Taliban bounties for killing American soldiers and President Trump was briefed about it. Trump says he knew nothing about it, and if you believe that, you are gullible enough to have voted for him.

It’s inconceivable that a properly functioning intelligence community wouldn’t have told Trump about something like this, though it’s possible, I suppose, that Trump’s sycophants might hesitate, fearing his irrational wrath. Trump is like Eveline in The Wiz when she sings, “Don’t bring me no bad news.”

What is quite conceivable, however, is that Trump would lie about being briefed. Trump avoids responsibility like it’s Covid-19. Oh wait. He doesn’t try to avoid that.

Putin is our enemy, as everyone but Trump acknowledges. It’s unsurprising that he would want to kill us though it’s surprising that Trump doesn’t want to do anything about it. At the least, we should be slapping Putin around a bit. (One day, we will learn why Trump kowtows to Putin. It has to be more than his attraction to dictators.)

So, my question isn’t “What did the president know and when did he know it”? as Howard Baker asked about Nixon. I know the answer to that. My question is: will this revelation scare some Republicans sufficiently to break meaningfully from Trump, trying to save their own butts (it is too late either way)? Think Eurymachus in The Odyssey.

Could it be that James Carville and I might be right that Trump will quit before the election to avoid the humiliation of a landslide repudiation loss and try to salvage a pardon for himself, as Gerald Ford was stupid enough to give Nixon?

Washington D.C. wants to be a state, and it should be: Some 705,749 Americans live there at last count, but because of its geographical anomaly, they may vote for president and vice president (only since 1964) but have no voting representation in Congress.

More D.C. citizens are disenfranchised than the entire population of Vermont (647,575) and Wyoming (577,737). Yet these two sparsely populated states each have two senators and a representative, while D.C. has none!

The average population of a congressional district is 711,000, which means D.C fits right in there, population wise. (There should be three times as many congresspersons as there are, representing about 237,000 citizens each, but that’s a subject for another blog.)

Instead, D.C. voters are held hostage by a bunch of southern bigot congresspersons (I’m looking at you, Arkansas Senator Cotton, you smarmy pig part)  who don’t want them to vote because many of them are black and so may vote for Democrats. Can’t have that.

There may have been some logic in creating a geographic exception for the Capitol in the past, but whatever it is or was seems unfair and out of date now. This is a classic case of voter suppression. Let those people vote!

Mount Rushmore: I’ve never been there, and I doubt I’ll ever go. The monument has always seemed to me rather, well, cheesy, a mere step above the Indian curios shops along the highway in Arizona and New Mexico, among other states.

But Mount Rushmore appeals to our boorish president, so he invited 7,600 of his followers to gather closely together and infect one another. (Perhaps Trump chose Mount. Rushmore because it is in a state whose governor is stupid enough to have let it happen on her watch.)

Washington Redskins: The Redskins organization is getting pressure to change its name, along with the Atlanta Braves and the Cleveland Indians. This is where I leave the politically correct party. These are innocuous, well-intended names for sports organizations, and intent informs my thinking.

No sports organization wants to pick a name that fans won’t enjoy and appreciate. They pick names that have meaning to the community, and/or suggest strength and fierceness that the team will emulate. They are a compliment, not a smear. They are, in fact, all but an homage to the namesake.

So, if these teams decide to resist the rising tide of political correctness and keep their names, I stand with them. This has got to stop somewhere, and I suggest we try to stop it this side of common sense.

Masks: Speaking of common sense, wearing a mask makes common sense in this particular moment. How it became a political issue passes understanding. And I don’t understand why Trump resists. If I had Trump’s face, particularly his odd little round mouth, I’d wear a mask all the time.

Christopher Columbus statue torn down in Baltimore: I wouldn’t have done it. Columbus was an intrepid sailor though a terrible administrator, a tyrant, really, but he did sail bravely to the new world when the prevailing opinion was that it was flat, before anyone else had the courage to try it, except…

The Vikings. Knowing now that the Vikings were here long before Columbus, does he really deserve a statue for coming in second? But if we are going to tear Columbus’ statues down, then shouldn’t we replace at least some of them with those of Vikings? And does this mean we have to change the name of that college town in Ohio, or the circle in Manhattan? Common sense, people.

Live with it: We’re reading that this will be Trump’s new position on Covid-19. Based on the reopening stampedes we are seeing to bars, beaches and parties throughout the land, it appears that many people have already decided to do just that. But what about those who don’t live with it and die from it? They’re adding up and getting harder and harder to wish away.

Worst state: All of the worst states deserve the cup this week because all of them are experiencing severe spikes in their Covid-19 cases, due to their recalcitrant ways. Some states – Texas and Arizona and Oklahoma – are in particularly bad shape, while the rest are also in deep virus doo doo. I’m splitting the cup between Texas and Arizona and giving Oklahoma a pass, because the voters there approved expanding Medicaid.

Thoughts on Events the Week of June 22

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on June 29, 2020

Statues and flags and Names, oh my: We are being reminded in this awaking about black inequality in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, that whites with the best of intentions may be subconsciously racist, or at least racially insensitive, in some ways without even knowing it. 

I’ve always considered myself a very liberal and tolerant person, with no racist prejudice whatsoever. But no person enjoying the privilege of being white in America can fully appreciate the indignities that blacks in America experience daily, right up to and including getting shot by police.

This has come home to me vividly as I follow the protests and demonstrations regarding statues of Civil War leaders in the South; Confederate flags all over, including prominently at NASCAR events and even on the flag of Mississippi; and military forts named after Confederate generals. I confess, I’ve never given any of these much thought, or considered how hurtful they may be to our black citizens.

But I’m thinking about them now, and the subject seems more nuanced that it may seem at first. With any movement there is always pushback and overreach. Where do we draw the line? To me, the line is a matrix between history and intent, with an axis between public and private space. Here are some specific thoughts.

I have no sympathy whatsoever for the statues erected to Confederate generals and leaders in the South now that I’ve learned they were erected long after the Civil War and were put up to intimidate blacks as part of Jim Crow tactics. Leave them to history books and tear the statues down.

(As I write this, I remember how upset and angry I was in 1999 when the Taliban tore down statues and destroyed ancient artifacts in Afghanistan. Am I being intellectually inconsistent to see a distinction here? I don’t think so. The Taliban was displaying religious intolerance because the statues and artifacts were “un-Islamic.” What rubbish!

When governments do not separate church and state, you end up with movements like the Taliban and ISIS, and countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia. Islam hasn’t learned this lesson yet.)

I draw the line at tearing down Andrew Jackson, Woodrow Wilson, and any other presidents, as some advocate today. They were presidents, and therefore important historical figures, though both held views grossly out of fashion today. Nevertheless, you don’t tear down statues of American presidents.

Jackson was hard on Native Americans, but so was everybody at the time. Manifest Destiny was the overwhelming sentiment of their day. Wilson was an extreme racist even for his time, but he was a president. We should look clear-eyed at their flaws but recognize and respect their place in our history. I’m surprised Princeton is taking his name off of its school of public policy.

An exception might be the statue of President Teddy Roosevelt on horseback with a black man and an Indian on foot beside him, which stands at the entrance of the American Museum of National History in New York, giving off a stench of white supremacy. The museum is a public space, and this particular statue is unseemly there now.

Besides, there is plenty of recognition of Roosevelt at the museum other than the statue (the museum was founded by among others his father, and sits in Roosevelt Park, for crying out loud). I haven’t been to the ANHM in years and I don’t even remember the statue, but I’ve seen images of it recently, and it is clearly out of step with the times.

The legacy of John C. Calhoun, currently under attack, is a closer call. He was a slave owner, and a strong advocate for slavery as a “positive good.” He influenced that kind of thinking in the South. But he had a very distinguished political career, and he died in 1850, before secession and the Civil War.  He is an important historical figure. I have no use for his views, so, with a bit of anguish, I would let his reputation stand as history records it, and I think Yale erred in changing the name of Calhoun College. But Yale, like Princeton, is a private university and so gets to make its call.

I am ambivalent about the current pressure on Confederate flags.  It belongs to our history and so there is a necessary place for it in history books, but not on the state flag of Mississippi, for instance, which is certainly public by any standard.

Like those statues of Confederate Generals, Confederate flags are a slap in the face to every black American, and I have no use for them, or the knuckle dragging rednecks who display them. But their use by private citizens is protected by the Constitution as an expression of free speech. Private citizens and private spaces are free to make their own decisions as to its presentation.

Speaking of which, I applaud NASCAR for banning it at their events. Stock car racing is extremely popular in the south, and it took some strength of character to make this decision.

On the bright side, public attitudes about the flag are changing so dramatically that I think soon it will be as odious a symbol of racism as a Ku Klux Klan robe. Racist bigots self-identify by waving one around.

I had given no thought to the names of military bases because I never dreamed that any of them would be named after Confederate generals. It’s disgusting. Change all of those names.

Bottom line: After our founding, the Civil War and abolition of slavery is the most seminal even in our history. History must be preserved, even if it is inconvenient at any particular moment, so we can learn from it. It is who we were, if not necessarily who we are today. But to revel in odious aspects of it is unseemly and an insult to many fellow Americans.

Worst States: Since Oklahoma won the cup last week due to President Trump’s reckless trip to Tulsa, of course Arizona gets it this week since we let him come to Yuma for a ludicrous photo-op with his wall toy, and then visit a mega-church in Phoenix where 3,000 young evangelical whackos crowded together, sans masks, at a youth rally.

The church crowed that it had installed a ventilation system (invented by a parishioner) that would eliminate 99.9% of Covid-19 germs in 10 minutes, evoking Las Vegas casinos hawking their systems that filter cigarette smoke. How crassly commercial, and what nonsense.

Coming attractions:  Troubling news just broke about Russia and Putin too late to include here. Next week.

Thoughts on Events the Week of June 15th

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on June 22, 2020

Bolton’s Book: I don’t read any political tell all books by authors of either party for a number of reasons. The first reason is that any important information contained in one is going to be all over the news, so I don’t have to read the book. Second, the rest of the book is bound to be boring, or I would hear about it on the news. Finally, I don’t like any of these gossips to make money off of me.

In this case, there is another reason. Bolton is an industrial strength sick jerk, so this book is one sick jerk ratting out another sick jerk; it is beneath me.

That said, I enjoyed seeing Trump turning purple with rage under his orange coating and suing to suppress its publication. (The suit was rejected by a federal judge.)

Trump sues everybody. This suit is laughable since the book has already cleared NSA vetting (I read that it had been, but the judge said not. I’m confused.), and the courts have already ruled against prior restraint. Plus, many copies are already distributed, so that ship has sailed.

Though the contents are embargoed until Tuesday, the text has leaked like a sieve. It used to be that embargoes were sacrosanct, but that hasn’t been the case for years. Everyone’s a tattletale these days.

DACA Delayed: Compounding Trump’s apoplexy, the Supremes aren’t letting him deport the Dreamers. Someone get the poor man some Pepto Bismol.

There is great public sympathy for these innocents and there should be. They were brought here by their parents with no say in the matter and, as required by the DACA rules, have lived here peacefully and productively ever since. This is their country and to deport them would defy justice and common sense. Trump is just exploiting these innocents to play to his xenophobic base.

The Supreme Court’s integrity is teetering on the edge of ruin and disgrace. Chief Justice Roberts seems to understand this, and so, as with his majority vote to save Obamacare, he concocted a convoluted, narrow legal rationale to save the Dreamers, at least temporarily.

Roberts is right that the Dreamers, and immigration broadly, should be handled by Congress, but also as with Obamacare, Congress has failed to meet this responsibility for as long as I can remember. But you don’t hear me saying Defund Congress. You hear me saying get off your ass and do your job.

Juneteenth: I have never heard this word spoken anywhere other than Texas, where I lived half of my life, but it has been on everyone’s lips the last week or so. Maybe we have reached a real awareness tipping point.

Trump in Tulsa: By all accounts, except those of Trump’s minions, the rally was a bust. The 19,000-seat stadium, which Trump predicted would be overflowing, was less than half full, according to the fire marshal. This has got to be mortifying to Trump and terrifying to his campaign staff. It couldn’t happen to nicer guys.

Looking for a scapegoat, Trump is blaming the media, among others. If the media had a hand in this, and I think they did, I say “Way to go, guys. You did the public a service by publishing information and letting people decide, which caused the vast majority of the Trump supporters in Tulsa to stay safe at home.”

Trump’s followers may not be as stupid as they act sometimes. They may vote for him, but they aren’t all ready to risk dying for him. (Note: those 6,200 hundred who did show up, most without masks, are as stupid as they acted.)

I’m thinking the steam may have gone out of the rally game. I’m taking the under on how many of these will occur for a while. (They may be stuck with the one scheduled in Yuma this week.)

The oddest comment Trump made at the rally, which is really saying something, was his admission that he directed his sycophants to “slow testing down” because more testing increases the number of positive cases. No, it doesn’t. Whether people are tested or not, the number of cases is still the same.

But wouldn’t we want to know what we are dealing with so we can address it intelligently? Don’t answer that; it’s a rhetorical question. This is determined, willful ignorance of the worst kind for the worst reason, which we can always expect from Trump.

Trump Fires Berman. No, he didn’t. Yes, he did: Trump fired U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey German for investigating his buddies. Let’s be clear: the president has the authority to fire Berman, though he seemed to try to hang the bushwhacking on AG Barr (Barr is finding out what being loyal to Trump gets you).

But the takeaway from this is not that Trump is corrupt. We already know that. The lesson to be learned is that we should avoid electing a pig part to the presidency.

Worst state: Oklahoma wins by a landslide this week for reasons too obvious to go into again. One minor but delicious reason Oklahoma is so deserving bears mention. Oklahoma State University head football coach Mike Gundy has been caught in, let’s just say, a racially insensitive situation.

This being Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State University, Gundy will probably survive this racist gaff, but I expect his recruiting is going to take a hit. Can you imagine a lot of mothers of talented black football playing sons urging them to go to OSU any time soon? This will be good for my beloved University of Oklahoma Sooners’ recruiting, I think.

Arizona, my own personal state of residence, however, did come in a respectable second for worst state, because Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb tested positive for Covid-19 ahead of a planned meeting with President Trump in D.C. (You will be shocked, shocked, to learn that he wasn’t allowed to attend the meeting.)

Lamb said he likely contracted the virus at a rally for his own campaign. How perfect.

Lamb said in May that he wouldn’t enforce the state’s mask requirement, and even after returning from D.C. and being contagious, says he doesn’t plan to wear a mask. Even perfecter. What a moron.

Thoughts on Events the Week of June 8

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on June 17, 2020

Defund the Police: What utter nonsense. Civilized society requires police. That said, I am old enough to remember when we used to refer to the police as peace officers, whose job it was to “keep the peace,” not to assault peaceful American citizens and shoot minority ones. No, we shouldn’t defund police, but retrain and restrain them to do the job they are meant to do.

Knee jerk liberals (liberals who have never taken an economics course) have a gift for making stupid statements like this, which leave them open to ridicule for lacking common sense. Who can respect people whose thinking is that fuzzy?

Ever since “Defund the police” was spoken, liberals have been writing long pieces – none of which fit on a bumper sticker – attempting to explain what the phrase really means. Meanwhile, Republicans have a simple, three-word phrase, clear as a button hook in the well water, to hang around Democrats’ necks in political commercials.

There are countless ways policing should be reformed, but abolishing the police is not one of them. The first step, in my view, is to differentiate in training, rules of engagement and the law, to differentiate between serious crimes and mundane ones. Potentially lethal physical force should never be used in addressing minor offenses under any circumstances.

The idea of shooting and possibly killing a suspect who is running away from a petty crime is obscene on its face. It turns a minor crime into a capital one and the police vicious vigilantes. Using a firearm in such circumstances should be flat out against the law. If you can’t catch them without shooting them, let them go. Why would traffic cops be carrying weapons anyway?  (If fewer cops carried weapons, perhaps we could begin rethinking why citizens are allowed to carry them around.)

And why are police swaggering around in military gear and riding in military assault vehicles? It distorts their understanding of their mission. Turn that stuff back to the Army. I’d would like to see local SWAT teams eliminated, and a few groups of specially trained officers deployed to hot spots as necessary (like forest fire fighters), rather than having every swinging dick of a police force armed to the teeth. By definition, the quality of these local SWAT teams must be uneven.

Shuffling off in Buffalo: After two officers of the city’s Emergency Response team were suspended for shoving an unarmed, 75 year old protester to the ground and injuring him severely, all 57 of the remaining officers on the team resigned in support of the two miscreant officers.

I’m perfectly OK with these resignations. These people don’t belong on a police force. (And why the hell does Buffalo need such a paramilitary force anyway?) Sadly, these 57 officers resigned from the team but not the police force. They are still around when they should be shown the door. They are emblematic of the problem with current policing.

And these 57 officers are not alone. Officers all over the country are protesting for not being allowed to shoot unarmed minority members whenever they feel like it. Get rid of them all, hire some new ones and train them differently.

Jobs Report: Let me get this straight. Since Covid-19 struck the U.S., 42 million Americans have lost their jobs and filed for unemployment. But the unexpected addition of 2.5 million jobs in May, lowering the unemployment rate from 14.7% down to 13.3% (a suspect number), is being hailed by the Trump administration as great news. According to my math, 42 million less 2.5 million means 39.5 million workers are still out of work. I don’t think I would be bragging about that, though perhaps the Fed should be bragging about what it has done for the stock market. Ordinary citizens, not as much.

The stock market is giddy about this. It is roaring back up in a fit of optimism one writer for Business Insider characterized as “a perfect storm of stupid.”

Worst state: I don’t know. The worst states were all acting pretty stupidly last week, turning everyone loose to infect one another. I can’t decide which is worse, but I’m fairly sure which state is going to win this week. Hint: Tulsa.

Thoughts on Events the Week of June 1

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on June 8, 2020

Is George Floyd’s Death Different? My totally wired daughter is a visual learner. (She hated to read until she picked up her first play.) She says, “If there isn’t a picture, it didn’t happen.” She has a point. The pictures of Floyd’s murder show unequivocally that something shocking and terrible happened.

But there have been pictures of other murders of black men, and women, and girls, and boys (the killing of nine year old Timor Rice looked to me as nothing but a drive by shooting by police) equally vivid and equally shocking that have not evoked the response as has Floyd’s murder.

I think it is not the images of this particular murder, egregious as it was, that has triggered this exceptional outrage. Rather, I think it is the cumulative effect of image after image of such killings, and the cumulative effect of President Trump’s constant stream of support for, and outright advocacy of, white supremacists, that finally caused millions of people (Republican politicians excepted) to say “Enough.” The picture is clear and irrefutable.   

But as impressive and poignant as the demonstrations about Floyd are, let’s not delude ourselves that the response will be enough to eliminate racism. The only solution for that is education, and we are extremely slow learners on this subject. 

We cannot end racism in a day, or apparently in a century or more. Trump, a despicable racist in his own right, has exposed how deeply it is ingrained in our culture (I was so naïve about this). He has embraced racism in broad daylight. Perhaps Floyd’s sacrifice can result at least in sweeping it back under the refrigerator with the other cock roaches, where it belongs.

It’s official. Trump is the worst president since the Civil War: I’ve never been afraid of the Trump presidency, only disgusted, offended and depressed by it, until now. But he has begun playing fast and loose with the military’s role in our society and that is truly dangerous.

Trump fantasizes that he was elected military dictator rather than president, and the other night his administration acted out this fantasy by ordering police to attack peaceful protestors. Attorney General Barr, who enables Trump’s in his unconstitutional fantasies, is reported to have given the order to disperse the protestors. Spoiler Alert: When police appear without insignia or name tags, they are preparing to commit a crime, and they know it. This is exactly the force Barr employed.

The members of the Trump administration, including Trump himself, and Barr, are now pointing fingers at one another, trying to distance themselves from the unconstitutional act and looking for someone else to blame, because even they realize how bad it looks. They all deny giving the order to attack. No one was driving; they were all in the back seat singing. At this writing, they are blaming the Park Service, because Lafayette Park is a, you know, park. Quite a stretch. Next it may be the Sanitation Department or Dr. Fauci.

You see the difference, don’t you? It is important to differentiate between the protesters and the looters. Likewise, it is important to differentiate between the good cops and the rotten apples. And it is especially important to remember that in each of these cases, the formers far outnumber the latters.

That said, police need a different kind of training than they are getting today. And they need to send back to the Pentagon the military hardware they are being given in a mistaken belief they are needed to police American citizens. I’ll have more on this soon.

Hong Kong: China is using this time and situation to take over Hong Kong. When Britain surrendered Hong Kong to China via treaty in 1997, no rational mind doubted that, regardless of the language in the treaty, China would eventually subsume Hong Kong. The idea of one country, two systems was untenable. The only question was when this would happen.

Well, the answer is now for two reasons. First, Covid-19 provides a distraction. The second reason is to give Trump a thumb in the eye. The hypocrisy of Trump’s lambasting China for strong arming Hong Kong while sending in troops against his own citizens is a gift to China.

When China, Russia and Iran are all gloating over the pickle we are in, it’s a pretty good indication our leadership has screwed up royally, which it has.

Worst state:  I am pleased to award the cup this week to Arizona, my own personal state of residence, because our governor Ducey (rhymes with goosey) has ordered a state-wide curfew. There was some vandalism in Phoenix that needed to be brought under control, but there are numerous small cities, towns and villages in Arizona, not to mention individual hogans and teepees, where there have been few protests, no violence, and where people go to bed before 8 pm anyway. What a putz is our governor.

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.