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Thoughts on Events the Week of Fabruary 13

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on February 19, 2017

National Security – Mike Flynn’s short and ignominious NSA career ended after just 24 days, when it came out that he cahooted with Russia. Today, President Donald J. Trump praised Flynn and said his demise (Flynn’s, not his own) was due to the dishonest media. (Does this mean that if Flynn had lasted a month, Ponzi Don would have given him a gold watch?)

The burning question in Washington now is the infamous, “What did the president know, and when did he know it?” I don’t believe for a minute that Vice President Pence didn’t know about this, I don’t believe Flynn did it without Ponzi’s knowing it, and if Pence didn’t know, it was because Ponzi didn’t tell him.

Meanwhile, Ponzi Don, self-proclaimed sole protector of our national security, while dining at his resort in Florida, received a document informing him that North Korea had launched a mid-range ballistic missile. Coincidentally, but fortunately, Ponzi Don was dining with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe at the time, who has responsibility for national security in his own country, so they were able to discuss the North Korean provocation on the spot.

There were a number of other diners in the room who were also interested in the document, though not responsible for national security, nor with the security clearance to view the document, for that matter. But, they did view it. They read it over Ponzi’s shoulder, used their smart phones’ flashlight function to get a better view, possibly took a picture of it, and listened to Abe and Ponzi discuss what to do about it. Bottom line, Ponzi basically shared the news with his customers and staff. (Does anyone doubt that some employee or employees at Mar-A-Lago are not on the payroll of some unfriendly government by now?)

These events beg a question, which has in my view a curious answer: Who was the greatest risk to our national security this week:

  1. Our erstwhile National Security Advisor
  2. The President of the United States
  3. Or, that “official” national security risk, Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos the 36 year old mother of two who has lived and worked in the U.S. for 22 years since being brought here at age 14, and was deported to Mexico from Arizona?

Meanwhile, Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who was forced to call for an investigation of Ponzi’s advisor Kellyanne Conway, since she violated ethics laws publicly on cable network TV, returned to his day job of covering up for Ponzi by insisting that no further investigation of Flynn is necessary, and refusing to begin one. How many committees investigated Hillary Clinton regarding Benghazi and her emails?

Drip, drip, drip: Ponzi Don is furious about leaks coming from almost everywhere in his administration, and has set some clueless boob to find out who is leaking. Ponzi, there’s an easy way to stop leaks: stop doing bad shit.

Oy vey! The most remarkable thing that happened last week is that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came to visit the White House, and because of all the news about chaos and scandals, hardly anyone noticed.

This was particularly odd, because in an off the shoulder remark at a joint appearance before the press with Netanyahu, Ponzi Don endorsed a one state solution to the Palestinian problem, overturning decades of American and U.N. policy, and causing Bibi to ejaculate spontaneously on stage.

What have you done for us lately?: Ponzi, I watched highlights of your 77 minute press conference. You need to know this good news: you won the election, you were inaugurated, so you are the President. I’m surprised you didn’t know that. It was in all the papers. You can stop campaigning now. You can stop smearing your opponent. You have no opponent. You won! One small piece of advice, though: people will tire soon of hearing that you won, particularly from you. Everyone already knows that.

The popular vote, the margin of victory in the Electoral College, what mean things you said about the press and about your opponents, and mean things they said about you, are no longer relevant. The only thing relevant now is what you do going forward.  You need to start getting something done. If you do, perhaps the press will say something nice about you, courts will stop blocking you, and people will stop protesting, depending, of course, on what you do. Going forward, everything is your responsibility, good or bad. You can’t keep blaming somebody else. You are where the buck stops.

Groundhog’s Day?: After an interminable, vulgar election, I turn on the  television and see Ponzi Don campaigning again, and lots of political advertising. People favoring or opposed to this or that legislation; people for or against nominees for Supreme Court Justice or other official requiring senate approval. Didn’t we just wake up from this nightmare? Are we going to have to go through it all again? Spare me.

Status of the States: The inner sexist in me has observed women in tight driving situations, look straight ahead and leave it to the other driver to deal with the problem. This may cause an accident, but if they are not involved, they just drive on and don’t think about it. (Many accidents occur when two of these ladies meet at an intersection.)

My baby sister lives in Kansas, where, she says, all of her girlfriends voted for Ponzi Don. When she asks them why, they say they just don’t think about politics much.

Kansas gets the cup this week, based on its voters’ look-straight-ahead-and-don’t-think-about-it brand of citizenship.

I can’t wait until the end of the first quarter of 2017 to make this change. After watching the smarmy and corrupt way in which Alabama replaced its smarmy Senator Sessions, I am kicking Mississippi off the worst state list and putting Alabama on in its place. They’ve earned it.

Coming Attractions: My thoughts on the Obama presidency, and thoughts on our divided nation.

Thoughts on Events the Week of February 6

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on February 12, 2017

The United States Senate: disgraced itself – which has become de rigueur these days – when it censured and silenced Senator Elizabeth Warren for reading a 1986 letter from Coretta Scott King about then U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, a nominee for a federal judgeship. King’s letter was in opposition to Sessions’ appointment, which was, in fact, rejected by the Senate on the grounds that he had used his authority to abuse the rights of black voters. He was a bigot. (I doubt that in 1986, one could become a U.S. Attorney for any district of Alabama without being a bigot.)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell invoked Senate rule XIX, which forbids Senators to say nasty things about another Senator, because it might hurt their feelings. Warren responded that it was terrible that she couldn’t read a letter from such an icon as Mrs. King. Both of these positions miss the point.

When Senator Warren spoke in objection to Sessions’ appointment, she was not talking about a Senator. She was talking about a nominee to become Attorney General, a completely different thing. Sessions was, in fact, a Senator, loathsome as he was at it, but he should have been exposed to the same “advice and consent” process as any other nominee. Sessions is unqualified to be Attorney General, but he was confirmed.

Again, ladies, I hold you responsible for where we are today. As Warren was treated, the entire Republican Party leadership, legislators, and particularly President Donald J. Trump treat you all the time. They demean, disparage, dismiss and at times abuse you, and yet you still vote for them. What the hell is wrong with you?

Speaking of the Ladies: Kellyanne Conway got busted for shilling Ivanka Trump’s apparel line on network TV. Her doing so is a patent violation of the ethical rules.

Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, must be choking on his own liver this week. Anticipating a Clinton victory, Chaffetz had planned a series of investigations to disrupt her presidency. Suddenly, his job turned 180 degrees from one of attacking Clinton to covering up for President Donald J. Trump and his administration.

He had to begin with Conway’s violation, so egregious and so public that it couldn’t be ignored. He and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), ranking member of the Committee, wrote a joint letter to Office of Government Ethics Director Walter Shaub that said Conway’s comments “raised extremely serious concerns.” This must have been galling to Chaffetz.

It’s OK to harangue Ponzi Don’s miscreant minions about ethics violations. It’s fun and richly deserved. Ponzi Don’s administration violates ethics rules every day. But don’t lose focus on the criminal acts, which are happening almost as frequently. These have the potential for more serious disruption and punishment.

Speaking of Criminal Acts: Newly appointed National Security Adviser Michael Flynn conducted official business with Russia as a private citizen, and some pretty nefarious business at that. This means, without putting too fine a point on it, he broke the law! So, channeling The Blues Brothers, he is both kinds of bad: ethical and criminal.

Besides being a lawbreaker, disqualifying on its face, do we really want a National Security Advisor stupid enough to think that his conversations with a Russian ambassador wouldn’t be monitored? Is he really that stupid? How stupid does he think we are? And, if you think that others in Ponzi Don’s administration didn’t know what Flynn was doing, you are that stupid.

Ponzi Don’s own priorities in week three: The president spent most of the week saying his daughter is a sweetheart, the judiciary is corrupt, that he knew nothing about any of the other shit, and he went to Florida to hold hands with Japan…for 19 seconds.

Status of the States: After a long drought, Arizona, my own personal state, gets the cup this week. In a brave act to keep America safe, our Phoenix office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested and deported to Mexico, one Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, 36, who came to our country at the age of 14, married here, has a husband and two children who are American citizens, and has been working and paying taxes here for 22 years. What a security risk!

Rayos was convicted of making up a false social security number so she could work here, a very common practice. For this, she was required to report to ICE, which, criminal threat that she is, she did regularly. This time, however, she was arrested and deported.

Please explain to me, and to other rational human beings, how deporting such a person furthers our national security. Note: ICE says Ponzi Don had nothing to do with this decision. Sorry, Ponzi, but what happens on your watch is your fault. That said, shame on us all.

Coming Attractions: My thoughts on the Obama presidency, and thoughts on our divided nation. Spoiler alert: we’re not.

Thoughts on Events the Week of January 30

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on February 8, 2017

We may be screwed: Someone should inform the White House that there are three co-equal branches of government, not just one. I’m sure President Donald J. Trump would resent being referred to as that “so called” president. If this Muslim ban gets through our judicial system unscathed, our system of checks and balances will be in deep authoritarian doo doo.

Call it a draw: Historically, presidents get to take credit for everything that happens on their watch, and the blame for everything that goes wrong, in both cases whether they may deserve it or not. In Ponzi Don’s second week in office, we had a disastrous military misadventure in Yemen, and a good jobs and unemployment report. Some 227,000 new jobs were created, and the unemployment rate was an excellent 4.8%. This is one tenth higher than the previous month, but only because more people are returning to the workforce, which is a good thing.

Ponzi Don tried to take credit for the good jobs report, even though the sampling was taken before he was sworn in. Likewise, he tried to blame the Obama administration for the military snafu, which the Obama administration was considering, but ultimately did not execute. Sorry, Ponzi, but you can’t have it both ways. I call it a push, at best. Let’s start keeping serious score as of February 1.

My prognosis is that the economy will likely stay on its current path of slow but steady growth, and that unemployment will remain about where it is. It’s very hard to get below 5% unemployment, certainly not without stimulating inflation. And, since our economy is so large, growth as a percentage will be lower than smaller economies, by mathematical law. Ponzi will be hard pressed to improve it, especially in a slow growth global economy. Ponzi has been left with an economy so improved during Obama’s administration that Ponzi has much less upside potential than downside risk.

To be fair, Ponzi has advocated for a large economic stimulus package of infrastructure investment and maintenance. This idea has some merit, but much less today than it did when Obama was begging for it during his first term, when it could have been more helpful at lower cost.

Ponzi Don’s own priorities in week two: Ponzi Don wrote an executive order repealing the conflict of interest rule that requires financial planners to put the interest of their clients first. Why this rule had to be enacted in the first place is telling. You would think that looking out for the clients’ financial interests would be the whole point of having a financial planner. But this has not always been the case, apparently, costing clients who are trying to save for retirement billions of dollars in undisclosed fees, etc. With Ponzi Don’s revocation of this rule, financial planners are able to return steering clients to investments most favorable to themselves and not the client’s. Not exactly a populist move.

After attacking big banks viciously during his campaign and raging how they were screwing their customers and that he was going to put a stop to it by bringing back Glass-Steagal, the erstwhile legislation that required banks to separate their banking services and investment services, so banks  couldn’t speculate using customers’ money, Ponzi is doing just the opposite. He issued executive orders that undermine the Dodd-Frank bill, which was enacted after the financial crash in 2008 to rein in banks. To quote Ponzi Don today, “Dodd-Frank is a disaster. We’re going to be doing a big number on Dodd-Frank.” So, now that he is in office, Ponzi Don is turning on his own base in favor of large banks, his rich friends and himself.

The only surprising thing about this is that his base was gullible enough to believe his lies. Ponzi looks our only for number one. Sorry, base, but after Ponzi Don was elected and began appointing big bankers from Goldman-Sachs to multiple cabinet posts, including Secretary of the Treasury, it was too late to do anything about it. Hillary Clinton tried to tell you. Now, bend over and kiss your vote and your money goodbye.

The Supremes: After the Senate flouted its Constitutional responsibility to advise and consent on Barak Obama’s Supreme Court nominee – the most odious disrespect to the Constitution since Watergate, and arguably worse, since it involved an entire branch of government and not a few rotten apples – Ponzi Don has named his own Supreme Court nominee, albeit in a botched and crass announcement: Neil Gorsuch, a justice currently sitting on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Gorsuch’s judicial philosophy is said to be similar to that of the late Antonin Scalia, who Gorsuch, if confirmed, will be replacing, not what voters were expecting when they elected Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton.

The Supreme Court is supposed to be impartial in its interpretation of the Constitution and above politics. Though never completely the case, impartiality went out the window after the 2000 election when it intervened in the election of George W. Bush (and we all know how that worked out). Today, the Supreme Court has been reduced to just another playing field for partisan politics, and it remains to be seen if it will ever quite recover its trust and prestige.

Nevertheless, my attitude about Supreme Court Justices is about the same as with other presidential appointments, which is that a President should get the people he wants, within reason. Gorsuch is clearly qualified, so, other than despising how he got to be nominated, and that he seems light years to the right of me, I can’t oppose him, and I don’t think Democratic Senators should either.

(I do oppose two sitting Justices on grounds of incompetence and unfitness – Clarence Thomas, who shouldn’t be near any court bench, and Samuel Alito, who simply isn’t up to the standard of the rest of the Justices.)

With the appointment of Gorsuch, the Court will be about what it was when Scalia was alive, which is not a stellar status quo ante. However, if one of the more liberal Justices vacates and Ponzi tries to replace him with a Gorsuch, I would raise holy hell. Things are too far out of joint already. If Democrats accept Gorsuch, it will be much more difficult to use the “nuclear option” to support another nominee. That said, blatant disregard for rules and fairness are Mitch McConnell’s defining characteristics.

Media: Apparently ashamed of their utter lack of professionalism throughout the election, some reporters are taking a more aggressive approach to calling out the blatant lies of administration personnel, and calling them out on the spot as the lies are being told. I am glad to see this rushing to close the barn door they left open so irresponsibly, but the horse’s ass is already out of the barn, Media, and shitting on the White House lawn, metaphorically speaking.

Football: Except for Super Bowl games involving the Dallas Cowboys, this was the most enjoyable one I have ever watched. It was a great game, the commercials were good overall, and I even enjoyed the halftime show.

My beloved Oklahoma Sooners signed an excellent recruiting class. Experts rate it eighth best in the country. In my experience, however, how your class is ranked is a lot less important than how it is coached and developed. We’ll see.

Status of the States: I’m suspending judgement for a while about which state is the best or the worst until we see a little more from Ponzi Don and observe the reaction to it. Note: even at the Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport, there was huge protest demonstration and welcome to incoming refugees.

Coming Attractions: My thoughts on the Obama presidency, and thoughts on our divided nation. Spoiler alert: we’re not.

Thouoghts on Events the week of January 23

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on January 30, 2017

Kick-off: Odd and interesting was the first week of the Donald J. Trump presidency. Ponzi Don’s minions did many things I expected, and many things happened that I did not expect. Overall, the unexpected things were more interesting and reassuring.

As promised, the administration issued a plethora of executive orders on day one rescinding as many of the executive orders of President Obama. True to his campaign promises, orders were issued attacking Obamacare, Mexico, immigrants, regulations, dissemination of public information, Muslims and, somewhat surprisingly, jobs, as he put a hiring freeze on federal departments. So swift was the pushback on this last one, in particular by veterans dependent on the VA for healthcare, that it was essentially withdrawn in 24 hours.

Reading the orders, however, I get the impression most of these executive orders are more aspirational than directive. They seem like letters of intent more than orders. They seem to read something more like this, paraphrasing: “I intend to build a wall across the U.S. Mexican border and for Mexico to pay for it.” As we say in Texas, this is a long way from a deal.

This one had some immediate consequences also. Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto, who was scheduled to meet Ponzi Don in Washington this week, reiterated that Mexico has no intention of paying for a wall, and if that is what Ponzi Don wants to talk about, there is nothing to discuss. He canceled his trip, making Ponzi Don look not quite like the deal maker he claims to be.

There was a lot of immediate pushback at home too, including from states bordering Mexico. It’s difficult to imagine Congress coughing up $15 to $18 billion for this project, especially since any fool can see it will cost a lot more than that to build a 1,200 mile wall. Just ask China.

On the last day of its first week, the administration issued a broad travel ban on Muslims (but not Christians) coming to America from Middle Eastern and African countries.  This one was put on hold by a federal judge literally before overnight.

My thoughts on the travel ban are not those of a lawyer, but this order seems to be not only stupid, counterproductive and un-American in spirit and policy, but also in violation of at least two and possibly three clauses of our Constitution, including the Emoluments clause, which I expect Ponzi Don will violate every day of his presidency.

Reaction was swift and emotional to this ban, beyond just in the courts. Huge crowds gathered at international airport terminals to welcome arrivals in an attempt to show incoming refugees that they are indeed welcome, no matter how big a putz the president is.

Maybe, just maybe, more Americans are beginning to realize how authoritarian and contrary to American traditions and values this administration plans to be.

Ponzi Don’s own priorities during week one: While his administration was running amok with short term executive orders and fending off protests and lawsuits, Ponzi Don was looking at the big picture, namely the size of his inauguration audience and his winning the popular vote. I didn’t hear him speak about much of anything else, including during his insensitive kiss and make up speech to the intelligence community.

To most of us, these are settled matters. Ponzi Don was elected president, he was inaugurated, let’s move on. But to Ponzi Don, an egomaniacal narcissist and a pathological liar, it was of paramount importance to claim that he had a bigger crowd at his inauguration than President Obama, and that he would have won the popular vote, if it hadn’t been for those three to five million people who voted illegally. He persisted with these assertions despite the visible falsehood of the first and the mathematical impossibility of the second. He obsessed on these issues, despite the fact that they have no effect on anything whatsoever, except on his warped personality.

Coming to his support on the crowd issue, top advisor to Ponzi Don, Kellyanne Conway, explained that Ponzi Don was merely introducing “alternative facts.” I’m sorry, Kellyanne, but there is no such thing as alternative facts. There can be alternative opinions, but not alternative facts. That phrase is a tool of authoritarian governments, and it’s just a big lie.

Perhaps the key advisor to Ponzi Don, Steve Bannon, came to his boss’ defense by telling the New York Times, and through it, the entire fourth estate that it is the opposition party, and to “sit down and shut up.” This was an utterly scandalous threat to the media by Bannon, who is ignorant of the First Amendment, or indifferent to it, which is even worse.

Bottom line: even if Ponzi Don’s administration is intent on pulling down pillars of our democracy around our heads like Samson, you’d think they would at least learn something about our government, and how it functions. I’m thinking Ponzi Don is in for a long series of rude shocks as he learns about the difference between being president and being a corporate CEO. Also, I think he is going to find that he only thinks he has a lot of experience with lawsuits; he’s going to be getting at least one or more daily throughout his presidency.

Sudden Thought: Specific policies aside, we must be the most risk averse, safety obsessed country on the map. By this I mean, of course, sissies, Chicken Littles and scaredy cats. Unless we feel 100% safe, an impossible expectation, we stampede like cattle in a thunderstorm. The fears that demagogues who shall remain nameless have exploited recently are as irrational as fears of witches in Salem, and equally valid. The sleep of reason brings forth monsters, and we’ve got one on our hands.

Status of the States: I’m suspending judgement for a while about which state is the best or the worst until we see a little more from Ponzi Don and observe the reaction to it. Note: even at the Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport, there was huge protest demonstration and welcome to incoming refugees.

Coming Attractions: My thoughts on the Obama presidency.

Thoughts on Events the Week of January 16, 2017

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on January 23, 2017

A Peaceful Transition of Power: On the 20th, Donald J. trump became the 45th president of the United States, in a ceremony in front of the Capitol Building. Excepting only a few protestors – understandable during the inauguration of our least popular president, I suppose – it was a peaceful transfer of the presidency, with four former presidents in attendance.

This kind of exchange is not unique globally, but not common either. Relatively few countries change their governments this peacefully or democratically. I hope we always appreciate how fortunate we are in this regard. The fact that we even guarantee speech to protesters is rare and special.

Many forms of government – monarchies, dictatorships, military coups, authoritarian regimes, Ayatollahs, etc.  – don’t work this way at all. Even some so called democratic states are no such thing. An “election” doesn’t necessarily equate to a democracy.

Words and Deeds:  Now that Ponzi Don has been sworn in, his words and deeds have weight and authority. We can judge him by them, and hold him accountable for them.

I didn’t watch his inauguration, but I have read highlights of the speech. It seemed much like his campaign speeches, a departure from traditional themes.

If I interpreted his thrust correctly, he played straight and true only to his populist base. He promised to throw out entrenched Washington elites and return government to the people, during which remarks he all but called the three former presidents on the stage with him “losers.” Not exactly a call for unity, but hey, consistent with his previous positions.

Ponzi Don promised to restore jobs lost to shuttered factories. This promise lends itself to quantifiable measurement, so we will be able to compare his words to results. I suspect, barring an enormous economic stimulation, that job growth is going to about it was during the second Obama term.

Ponzi Don promised such jobs program, and perhaps we’ll have one, but there are limits to what it can accomplish with unemployment at 4.7%. Those unemployed remaining, and those who may have dropped out of the labor force, most of whom have done so due to their age, are unlikely candidates for skilled construction work.

He also promised to stop “American carnage” in our cities. This one is more ambiguous. Did he mean he will get rid of the blacks or get rid of the guns? We’ll have to wait and see.

Finally, he stated two simple principles for his administration in four words: Buy American. Hire American. The relationship between these words and deed is also measurable, but it’s complicated. It’s also indicative of a very isolationist attitude, and represents goals that will be easier said than met, and perhaps contrary to our national interests.  I certainly think so. On the other hand, it is the same in-your-face foreign relations language he has been using before today. Again, that’s consistency.

The Cabinet: Ponzi Don’s nominations have all been made, and it figures that most if not all of them will be confirmed. I think retired General James “Mad Dog” Mattis, Ponzi Don’s Secretary of Defense choice, already has been confirmed. Mattis is a qualified individual, though ineligible by law, his being too soon retired from the military. A “waiver” was necessary to confirm Mattis, which was passed last week by the Senate (Sudden thought: If a law can be waived for a specific individual, is it really a law? Is a law made regarding a single individual even constitutional?)

The selection of this set of cabinet members poses two conundrums:

If Ponzi Don is intent on “draining the swamp” of establishment types and “elites,” and returning government to the people, how does his goal square with his nomination of nothing but Washington establishment types and elites? Nothing but Goldman Sachs alumni, billionaires, military generals and U.S. Congressional members. How much more establishment can you get?

I have an opinion about this one. I don’t think Ponzi Don has, or ever had, any intention of draining the swamp. He lives in the swamp! He is a poster boy for the swamp! The swamp has made him rich, and appears headed to make him richer on our backs. He is not about to change things in Washington that will impact his business, personal or tax advantages.  The remarkable thing is that so many voters were stupid enough not to see this on its face.

The second conundrum has to do with how Ponzi Don will work with his cabinet. I see two possibilities:

First, he will let his secretaries have free rein, and spend his time looking at the big picture (read traveling around, seeking adoration, telling us how great things are going to be and insulting people).

Second, we might see that he nominated these people without much thought because he doesn’t intend to listen to any of them anyway. He is going to run his own show, more or less alone, with occasional input from family members, equally insolated as himself.

The first of these possibilities, of course, has the disadvantage that most of his cabinet members are hostile to their departments and have no patience for, or understanding of, the thrust of history their departments represent. Some are simply unfit for their jobs. Let’s face it, former Texas Governor Rick Perry is embarrassingly unfit. You know it, I know it, everybody knows it. I submit also that most cabinet members are unlikely to do anything to help the working man, whose wealth they have been stealing since about 1980.

The problem with the second possibility is that Ponzi Don comes to the job singularly uninformed, and his decisions will be made absent much forethought. He knows what his base wants, and he is going to give it to them, thought they too are uninformed and misguided.

People have complained that there are no Latinos in the cabinet, but that misses the point. Look on the bright side: there are no Russian hookers in it either.

Pussy Power: The day after the inauguration, a large number of women participated in a “Women’s March on Washington” to protest the presidency of Donald J. Trump. Well, that’s sweet and all, ladies, but you’re a little late. The election is over. Women lost big time, which begs the questions: why didn’t more of you vote, and why did 53% of white women vote for Ponzi Don?

Sudden thought: From reading Ponzi Don’s remarks over the weekend, which were directed solely to his base, and the reaction of his base to them, it seems we are experiencing a unique confluence. Never has the been such a pathological liar as Ponzi Don and so many people eager to accept those lies at the same time and place.

Football:  The Super Bowl field is set. New England and Atlanta will face off, having dispatched their conference rivals pretty handily. The Super Bowl could be a good game this year.

These conference championship games evoke only one comment. In the first quarter of the Falcons – Packers game, Green Bays’ near perfect place kicker Crosby missed a 41 yard field goal wide right. This is the guy who made a 56 yarder and a 51 yarder to beat the Cowboys last week. I could hear Skip Bayless screaming from here.

So, my winter, spring and summer of discontent will now begin. There will be a few glorious summer football days until next season, such as the NCAA signing day for new college recruits and NFL draft, to name a few. As for the Super Bowl, if I don’t have a dog in the hunt, which has not been the case in a long time, I watch it for the commercials, and sometimes for the half time performance. Seeing Janet Jackson’s tit was just a brief, unexpected bonus.

Water: We are experiencing some heavy precipitation in the west, ameliorating the drought in several areas this winter. The ski basin near Flagstaff is up to its ass in snow. The Bradshaw Mountains are snow covered from one end of the range to the other. They are a beautiful sight.

Status of the States: Every worst state went for Ponzi Don during the election, so they all contributed equally to his victory. Paraphrasing Mercutio: a plague on all your states.

Coming Attractions: My thoughts on the Obama presidency.

Musings on 2016 – at least it is over

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on January 19, 2017

2016 was above all a pathetic, partisan political year. We were inundated with political news, opinion, and just plain junk. You couldn’t avoid it. It overwhelmed everything else of importance. The presidential campaign was low brow, crass, vulgar, specious and untruthful.

Below are musings, not a book review, but I begin with a nod to “The Populist Explosion: How the Great Recession Transformed Politics in America and Europe,” by John B. Judis. It is a primer on Populism and its history. Truly, 2016 was a year of Populist political ascendance. Beginning with Brexit – the decision by UK voters to leave the European Union – populist voters had a huge effect on governance last year, not least in the election of Donald J. Trump to be our President.

There is no single definition of Populism. There are different strains, some from the left (Sanders), some from the right (Trump). However, they have two common characteristics: 1) the common man against the elites, and 2) the desire to work within the governmental system, not destroy it (though I wonder about Ponzi Don’s advisor Steve Bannon.)

Right wing Populism has a third common aspect: it always includes “the other,” – Islam, immigrants, elites, minorities, the media, i.e. someone to blame for the alienation, frustrations and anxieties felt by populist voters.

In Europe in 2016, “the other” was immigrants from Eastern Europe via the EU covenant, and refugees pouring in from the chaotic Muslim Middle East and Africa. This is garden variety xenophobia.

I would not have expected this kind of Populism to have become so pervasive in America, since our culture is built on immigrants, but it has. Ponzi Don got his support by conjuring up fear of immigrants and/or Muslims. A lot of Americans were desperately in need of someone to blame, apparently. In their fear and anger, they completely ignored our culture of inclusiveness and our Constitutional guarantees.

Another “other,” it turned out, is women. Misogyny runs deeper and broader even than racism. I did not understand this until 2016.

Our democracy, estimable, though not perfect, and certainly perishable, came under suspicion, if not outright attack. Law and precedent became expendable in a year of hyper-partisanship. Facts were irrelevant. Lies, distortions, insults and slanders didn’t seem untoward.

By the end of the year, our institutions seemed all to be discredited, which is an opportunity for authoritarian challenges to democracy. To be sure, many of our institutions have been discrediting themselves. Our court system has become a political prize, our police are exposed by smart phones to include some prejudiced, violent officers, our intelligence services are corrupted, our media less than worthless, and our system of checks and balances is in tatters. The Supreme Court is hamstrung by the Legislative Branch, which has given up all pretense of meeting its Constitutional responsibilities. The Executive Branch is filling the vacuum as best it can, and at times exploiting it.

One discredited institution, due to its obstruction of the public will, is the Electoral College, an anti-democratic, dysfunctional glitch in our Constitution, designed in good faith to be a final check on popular mistakes, but which twice in the first 17 years of the 21st Century has given us two presidents who lost the popular vote, and both terrible mistakes from which it did not save us. The president is the one truly national elective office. It should be decided on the national majority vote.

Which brings me to a final institution that became discredited in 2016: the American voters, a large minority of whom failed to understand their own self-interest, or to consider the interests of the country, again.

Jefferson said that to be sustaining, a democracy require an educated electorate, and ours is failing. State governments subvert education by starving school budgets. State legislatures pressure school boards to create curriculum and purchase text books that bend history for political convenience.

Media compete for ratings, rather than news and information. They chase frivolous distractions, like kittens chase a flashlight beam on the floor. Everything is a “crisis,” so nothing is important.

Much “news” in 2016 was completely fabricated rather than reported. And voters were too stupid or too lazy, or too uninterested in citizenship to sort it out. In the most important and disturbing Election Day in my memory, more than half the voters slept in.

The most egregious failure of government was the refusal of the Senate to advise and consent on a Supreme court Justice to replace Antonin Scalia for eleven months, an absolute and deliberate abdication of its responsibility. I am not certain the Court, or the Senate will ever regain their reputations after this affront to our Constitution. It made me sick to see this happen.

Another institutional failure of our system was the FBI Director’s interference in the presidential campaign, which was worse than the damage done by the cyber-attack on our election by Russia. We don’t like Russia, so their antics didn’t affect people very much, I think, but we trust our FBI. (I mean generally; this does not include me: Google J. Edgar Hoover.)

We obsessed on Russia, which is now a lightweight country, and ignored or insulted China, which is infinitely more important to our future. To be fair, we’ve seen this before. Clinton bashed China until he entered the White House and learned better. Let’s hope Ponzi Don does the same, but it will require his learning something about China.

Meanwhile, Muslim countries on the Middle East and Northern Africa are a dog’s dinner and getting worse. As Steven Pinker observed, Islam is sitting out the global trend away from violence. Religious war rages there, a war that can only be settled by those directly involved. As with two mad dogs fighting, if you try to break them up, you will only get bitten. That is what we are doing and why Islamic terrorism occasionally erupts in the West. If we weren’t stepping in between the rival sects, they would concentrate on fighting each other and ignore us.

So, we end 2016 in pretty bad shape, and things don’t look promising in the near future. However, the United States as experienced the sleep of reason at other times – internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Committee come immediately to mind – and managed to get through them; we probably will get through this one too. Perhaps this period will go down in history as one ugly, but ultimately harmless mistake. But it is not a “slam dunk.”

I would be more sanguine about our near term prospects, however, if we hadn’t seen so recently how bad George W. Bush was able to screw things up in just a term or two, and he had some semblance of checks and balances. In our current cycle of hyper-partisanship, gridlock, obstructionism and spreading inequality, Asia is overtaking us. Fortunately, at present the competition is economic and technological, and that’s the good news.

Thoughts on Events the Week of January 9

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on January 17, 2017

Words, like elections, have consequences: President-elect Donald J. trump is nearing the time when his words will have weight and authority. I am eager for that time. I want him to speak, or tweet, officially so we will know what he really means, or may learn that he can’t say things he doesn’t mean, or speak off the top of his head, without consequences. He will be judged by his words and actions come January 20.

Meanwhile, his cabinet nominations are being rushed through the “advice and consent” process in the Senate at an unseemly pace. As I have written previously, I think a president, absent obvious disqualifications, should get to have the lieutenants he or she wants. For the Senate to do its duty, however, requires more effort than is being given to this responsibility. This is bad, but if conflicts, scandals or incompetence come out about Ponzi Don’s choices after a rush to confirm, he, and the Senate will share the shame, and deservedly so.

All that said, I’m pretty sure that, based on his campaign, his tweeting and his unofficial comments, our adversaries and allies already have a pretty clear, though unofficial idea of what they will be dealing with: egomaniac, misogynist, extremely thin skinned, pathologically venal, cannot resist taking the bait about anything, and capable of crude and vicious treatment of anyone or any criticism, however innocuous.

Comey:  Testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee, FBI Director James Comey was asked by Senator Angus King (I-ME) whether the FBI is investing possible connections between the Trump campaign and Russia. In his fumbling response, Comey said of the FBI, “We never confirm or deny a pending investigation.”

As soon as the words came out of his mouth, you could see on his face that Comey realized what he had said, how it was going to sound and what was going to happen next. Sure enough, King observed politely that is was ironic that Comey was saying that now, since he had commented publicly, and on three separate occasions, at least once with condemnation absent facts, on Hillary Clinton’s investigation, which, I believe, is what cost her the election. It shouldn’t have; she was absolved. But the media had so over-hyped the importance of Clinton’s innocuous emails, that rumor and speculation from the FBI was fatal.

Comey allies continue to say that Comey wasn’t trying to destroy Clinton, but only trying to protect his reputation. Well, that ship has sailed. Comey will go down with J. Edgar Hoover as smarmy FBI scum, deliberate destroyer of careers and lives. I doubt anyone much cared, though they should, what Russia is doing, but the FBI? That’s a whole different story. Comey screwed us all.

Ponzi Don wet his bed (or vice versa) Well, he wasn’t in bed with an 11 year boy and a goat, as I forecast, but I may have been close. Apparently, Ponzi Don has a bladder control problem in the presence of hookers, or the other way around, which may have been caught on tape by the Russians. If so, Putin will be able to swing Ponzi Don around by his short and curlies.

Football: For the last decade, it has been painful to be a Dallas Cowboy fan. When they were bad, they were horrid. When they were good, the best they could manage was one and done heartbreak. The biggest problem all along has been coaching. It happened again Sunday night. In what may have been the best game this NFL season, the one and done Cowboys, number one seed in the NFC and favored by five points, lost a thriller to Green Bay thanks to poor Cowboy’s coaching and some last second heroics by Packer’s quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

It was a terrific game. The Cowboys players came to play; sadly, the coaching staff did too, and managed to lose the game in the first quarter with three disastrous coaching decisions that cost Dallas points and assisted Green Bay to some.

Admittedly, one of those three errors was a judgement call, but one that shouldn’t have been made in the circumstances. The Cowboys said their game plan was to run the ball to keep Rodgers off the field and wear down the Packers’ defensive line. However, with third and two at the Green Bay 30ish, having had success running the ball with Zeke Elliott, and opening up the defense for short passes, the Cowboys threw a long pass into the end zone that didn’t connect. Dallas should have run the ball for the first down, or at least thrown a short pass to keep the drive going. But with that long shot, the Cowboys had to settle for a field goal.

The other two errors are not debatable; they should never have happened. Rodgers caught Dallas with 12 men on the field during a substitution, which kept a Packers drive alive. Rodgers is famous for this. I know it, you know it. Dallas knows it. They talked about having changed their substitution strategy to avoid it. But they still let it happen. (I hate this coaching staff.)

Worse, after a 22 yard first down pass, Dallas was called for un-sportsman-like conduct when the coaches sent a player into the huddle and then called him back without his participating in a play. It was a 15 yard penalty, a total loss of 37 yards, and the end of a drive. I didn’t even know there was such an infraction, only a five yard illegal substitution rule, but the Cowboys coaching staff should have known. Jesus!

By early in the second quarter, the Cowboys were deep in a 21-3 hole, but managed to claw back to a 28-28 tie.

To be clear, after that first quarter, the Packers, thanks to Rodgers, won the game fair and square. Rodgers is the best quarterback in the league, better even than Tom Brady. Brady is great too, but the difference is that Brady has a great coach and a great organization behind him. Rodgers carries his whole team, coaching staff and organization on his shoulders. In fact, when things are falling apart, he is at his heartbreaking best.

So, congratulations to the Packers, and I say again, until the Cowboys fire Jason Garrett and get a better coach, they are going to be one and done.

Water: We have had rain and/or snow at least once a week all winter. Amazing and unprecedented.

Status of the States: I’m giving the cup to Kansas this week, because my baby sister lives there, and she calls me to rail about Kansas’, or the nation’s miserable governments. She called this week so upset about the president-elect that I found myself assuring her that things wouldn’t be as bad as she fears, something I don’t believe for an instant.

Coming Attractions: This Week – Year-end musings.

Thoughts on Events the Week of January 2, 1917

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on January 11, 2017

Trump v. Intelligence: President-elect Donald J. trump tweeted that he doubts that Russia was hacking the DNC to try to influence the election. There are two obvious reasons for this:

Ponzi Don, in his egomania and thin skin, fears the intelligence communities’ assessment might give opponents a tool with which to challenge the legitimacy of his presidency. It’s understandable why he would fear this. He was able to damage the legitimacy of Barak Obama’ presidency for a time with preposterous, utterly fabricated birther nonsense, so he knows from experience it could happen to him. So, he is trying to discredit intelligence professionals, who have actual evidence of the hacking on his behalf by his “bromate,” Vladimir Putin.

Also, he is right not to trust the intelligence community. I don’t trust it either, because, among other reasons, former CIA Director George Tenet privately lent his personal authority to the intelligence reports about weapons of mass destruction being in Iraq. Tenet assured Bush that evidence that Iraq had WMDs amounted to a “slam dunk.”* Thus, Tenet helped fabricate support for the weapons of mass destruction canard, which Bush and Cheney used to invade Iraq. (Following the invasion, US, British and international forces found no significant WMDs.)

*Source: Plan of Attack, by Bob Woodward

Update: Ponzi Don got a briefing from the intelligence community on the Russian hacking and can no longer deny it happened, but he maintains it had not influence on the election. We will never know, but his position begs a question. Did Ponzi Don not request, publically, that Russia hack Clinton’s emails? The answer to that one is yes, which begs a follow up question. Is it not logical then that he expected to benefit from that hacking in his election campaign?

Finally, Ponzi Don knows that the intelligence community can’t be trusted, because, though he knows that Russia’s criminal hacking may have helped him win the election, he knows damn well that FBI Director James Comey’s sabotage did. You can’t trust people like that.

Trump v. Intelligence II: Ponzi Don tweeted that he is considering restructure of the intelligence community, and everybody went nuts. In fact, such a restructuring is long, long overdue. Who in the hell needs 17 intelligence services anyway?

The current structure is a product of the post 9/11 panic, which has done nothing but add cost, bureaucracy and unnecessary complications (ask me about my most recent contact with the TSA at Houston Hobby Airport) in an effort by Bush and Cheney to make us think they were doing something.

That said, I think the intelligence community has made us more secure since 9/11, though it has little or nothing to do with structure. 9/11 embarrassed the intelligence community greatly, and got its attention about security threats. It was their Pearl Harbor. They’ve been working harder ever since.

Sudden thought: Ponzi Don should take more care what he says about the intelligence community, or a photograph may turn up showing him in bed with an 11 year old boy and a sheep.

Words v. Actions: It’s a waste of time to listen to the weightless rants of the president-elect until January 20, when he actually has some authority. Not so with the legislative branch; they have already begun their lame duck session, and we should pay attention to what they are doing.

First crack out of the box, Republicans proposed House rules to dismantle the independent ethics commission, signaling to us that they plan to do a lot of unethical, if not illegal stuff. Thanks for the heads up, you guys.

The bi-partisan outrage was so great that the House reversed itself within 24 hours. Now they can get on with the more important business of repealing Obamacare and ramming through appointments without vetting. Good luck with that. Can anyone spell “buyers’ remorse?”

Football: My beloved Oklahoma Sooners beat Auburn in the Sugar Bowl rather handily, with many terrific performances on both sides of the ball. For instance, Samaje Perine broke Billy Sims’ career rushing record, and Joe Mixon rushed for more than 180 yards.

Immediately after the game, both runners declared for the NFL draft. Perine’s decision makes sense; he has nothing left to prove at the college level. About Mixon, I’m not so sure. He might benefit from more time and distance from NFL inquisitors. Because of his assault experience, some NFL insiders say no team will take him, which is absurd. What is this, junior high school or a competitive business? Mixon has a first round grade, and teams are going to fight over a running back who averages more than six yards per carry. Best wishes, and good luck, guys.

But the result of these two declarations is this: plus the graduation of wide receiver Dede Westbrook, Oklahoma will lose three important offensive weapons.

Considering OU’s horrendous one and two start to this season, winning the Big XII Championship and the Sugar Bowl is a remarkable achievement. I’m proud of them, and I expect OU will field a good team next year, even with the loss of those players noted above.

The wild card round of the NFL playoffs is finished, and although the Dallas Cowboys are the top seed and should play the lowest ranked team, they may be playing the next best team – the Green Bay Packers. To win in the playoffs, you must be good, but also hot, and Green Bay’s quarterback Aaron Rodgers is definitely hot. It should be a good game next Sunday.

Frankly, I expected Dallas to be playing the New York Giants again, and the Giants dominated Green Bay until 2:20 until the half and then fell apart.

A couple of years ago, the Cowboys took a chance on a few talented but troubled players, all available at bargain prices, due to their reputations. I applauded these choices as acceptable risks, and on the whole they have worked out pretty well. But one, pass rusher Randy Gregory from the University of Nebraska, is not panning out well. He can’t seem to keep away from drugs. He was back in the line-up for two games after two suspensions, and he’s just gotten his third, which will last through the playoffs this year, and at least through the entire 2018 season. Sad.

Water: Our Southeast is getting good amounts of snow and ice and is freezing its ass off, while our west coast is getting a whole lot of rain, a whole lot. A state-size chunk of glacier is about to calve off of the Arctic ice cap. But there’s no climate change or anything. (We’ll pay attention to climate change when the weather becomes too dangerous for air travel.)

Status of the States: I’m still in too good a mood to think the sorry states. But, I have been thinking about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and find him to be the most odious, hypocritical Senator since Jesse Helms (R-NC), the stridently conservative politician, who opposed civil rights, which he considered “state affairs” (read black suppression). He opposed integration, including the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. He was the archetypal Southern racist bigot.

Coming Attractions: This Friday – Year-end musings.

Two Good Books on Death and Dying

Posted in Reviews - of books, mostly by EloiSVM42 on January 5, 2017

When Breath Becomes Air

By Paul Kalanithi (mostly)

It was first said (circa 1665-68) by Francois de la Rochefoucauld that “Neither the sun nor death can be looked at directly.” Well, two fine writers have taken a crack at it recently, from very different viewpoints, and with very different styles, but each with credible results.

Consider the credentials of this 36-year-old writer: BA and MA in English Literature from Stanford; M-Phil (Master of Philosophy) in History of Science and Medicine, from Cambridge; Graduate, cum laude, from Yale Medical School; Senior Resident at Stanford Medical School. Would you consider this man capable of writing a meaningful book about clinical death? I certainly would.

Oh, and he has one more qualification: 14 days before becoming a Professor of Neuroscience at Stanford, he was observing a scan of a patient with Stage-4 lung cancer (read terminal). About which he writes, “This scan was different; it was my own.”

Such was the fate of Paul Kalanithi, a man of extraordinary intelligence with a sky’s- the-limit career before him, whose life hanged in an instant and whose death was foretold and near. His life – its length, scope and purpose had to be re-considered.

Paul planned to write a book, someday, after a distinguished career in medicine. Now the 30 or more years between his imminent graduation and far-in-the future plans are gone. He skips far ahead to book writing, but first he has cancer to deal with as best as is possible. (Note: I use Paul’s first name in this review because with all he revealed about himself to me in this book, it feels only right.)

Paul takes us through the details of his consultations, tests, treatments and results. Others have done similar recording and reporting before, though few have such professional insight or writing skills. And he adds something more. Common or rare among surgeons, I don’t know, but Paul gave a lot of thought to what it means and takes to lead a meaningful life. Ultimately, Paul came to a rather common conclusion – friends and family – which he calls, being a scientist/philosopher, “relationality.” But his thinking processes, intertwined with the events of his medical adventure, make meaningful reading.

Among the first decisions: his wife Lucy and he decided to have a baby, via in vitro fertilization, which is by now, we must infer, was all he was up to, to create a for comfort for Lucy when he is gone, and for himself if he lives long enough.

Thereafter, Paul’s life is simply a matter of living it out and recording it for us. When treatments permit, he works as long as he can as a surgeon – and then spends his remaining time with his wife, and, yes, with his new baby daughter, Elizabeth Acadia (Cady). Paul died with eight-month old Cady in his arms.
Paul did not live quite long enough to complete this book. Lucy added the finishing touches. We do not know how much of the book is truly his. Lucy wrote the Epilogue for sure, and her style seems a lot like Paul’s, which obscures the issue a bit. However, the vast bulk of the work is clearly Paul’s. The literary references and allusions are those of a Master of English Literature.

Caelica 83: You that seek what life is in death
By Baron Brooke Fulke Grenville

You that seek what life is in death,
Now find it air that once was breath.
New names unknown, old names gone:
Till time end bodies, but souls none.
Reader! then make time, while you be,
But steps to your eternity.

You should read this book, but there is a caveat. The New York Times reviewer wrote that “Finishing this book and then forgetting about it is simply not an option,” and I think he’s right.

Old Age: A Beginners Guide

By Michael Kinsley

Having heaped all that praise on When Breath Becomes Air, you may be surprised to read that I saved my favorite of the two books for last. Michael Kinsley is one of my very favorite writers, almost an idol to me, actually. His thinking is insightful, even on subjects you might think have been completely well worn. What’s more, his work, regardless of topic, is humorous.

Kinsley’s short book is as poignant as Paul’s; more insightful about death in some ways; definitely more practical about the meaningful life and how to live it; plus it is wicked funny, in both meanings of the term, which makes death a little easier to look at directly, but leaves no doubt about its ultimate result.

Kinsley approaches his subject from the point of view of the Baby Boomer generation (those born between 1946 and 1964), to which he belongs, and which is rounding the turn and beginning the home stretch to the finish. He assures his contemporaries that, “the best medical research indicates that eventually you’re going to be dead.”

Boomers are characterized by being especially ambitious and competitive, but while Kinsley thinks Boomers get a bad rap, he also acknowledges that there is some truth to this, particularly when compared to the sacrifices made by the previous, “Greatest Generation,” which won World War II and saved the world.

Kinsley admits being a classic Boomer, but with one rare difference: he contracted Parkinson’s disease at 43. This is much, much earlier than the disease generally presents. He has been fortunate in that his symptoms have been mild for much of this time, and even today are not as typically inhibiting. As he observes about Parkinson’s, “like its victims, it tends to move slowly.” Fortunate as Kinsley has been in this regard, still he has been dealing with this reminder of his mortality directly for around 25 years.

It turns out that Parkinson’s doesn’t kill that many people, though it did kill my father. Most people who get it do so later in life and usually die of something else before Parkinson’s gets them. But the diagnosis, Kinsley writes, “…is a pretty valuable warning shot from the Grim Reaper.”

This is not the case, Kinsley reminds his fellow Boomers, for old age. As for that, “We don’t need any tests. We can give you that diagnosis right now. You’ve got it, it’s progressive and (unlike Parkinson’s) it’s invariably fatal.”

Kinsley discusses the pros and cons of a number of ways to measure the value of lives in the competitive spirit of Boomers: material success (The one who dies with the most toys wins); longevity; cognition; finally settling on reputation, though only of a certain kind. (He has some fascinating ideas about reputation versus fame and celebrity.)

Fortunately, Kinsley tells us how to do this. If you want a good reputation, he says, “be good. And you better get started now, because after your dead, it’s too late.”

Kinsley even has an idea that would let the entire Baby Boom generation pass on with a good reputation, almost as good as that of the “Greatest Generation.” His proposal: pay off the national debt…about $17 trillion dollars. This will take a big sacrifice – not as big as getting shot and killed in your youth – but still huge. It will require a lot of contribution from every Boomer. It will require soaking the one percent pretty good. It will require (all but) eliminating the inheritance tax, something I’ve always advocated.

But, hey, paying off the debt would lift an enormous drag on our economy, and on the prospects of all those yet to come, and who by definition had nothing to do with creating it. Though I’m not technically a Baby Boomer – I was born a few years too early – I’m willing to chip in. How about you, young-uns?

Thoughts on Events the Week of December 26

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on January 2, 2017

Trump and Putin get a room: Presumably so they could work on President-elect Donald J. Trump’s Inauguration speech. They may not surface together again until January 20.

I remain perplexed by this “bromance.” I simply don’t see what Ponzi Don has to gain by it, except perhaps for his personal financial interests, certainly not the interests of the country.

In principle, I agree with Ponzi Don’s stated desire to improve our relationship with Russia. Our policies in 1989, when the U.S.S.R. was crumbling, were a lost opportunity to embrace and defuse Russia. This was the time for a true re-set.

But the Russia of today is not the same as in 1989 at all.  Under Vladimir Putin – Yesterday’s Man – Russia has reverted to a cold war land grabber.  Putin bluffs himself up with mischief to appear more important and more dangerous than he is. Russia is too insignificant today to warrant much attention. China, on the other hand, is an entirely different matter. I assume Ponzi Don will become aware of this, one way or another, post January 20. We’ll see.

Football: After clinching the NFC East Championship on the previous Sunday without even playing, The Dallas Cowboys beat the Detroit Lions by three touchdowns on Monday night – 42-21. (Yes, it was the Lions the Cowboys beat; I checked.) Dallas is expected to rest some starters for its last regular season game in Philadelphia on Sunday, as the game’s outcome is meaningless to the Cowboy’s playoff seeding. (Yes, the game is against the Eagles, in Philly; I checked.)

Update: As expected, the Cowboys did rest (read protect from injury) many of its starters for much or all of the game.  And, as predicted by Vegas in those circumstances, the Eagles won the game against Dallas’ back-up players, 27-13.

Zeke Elliott didn’t play at all, which was wise. Dallas has a trio of credible running back-ups for Elliott, so why chance injury to Elliott? Dak Prescott played for about a quarter and a half, to stay sharp. Tony Romo came in for one series and looked like he hasn’t missed a snap. He threw a beautiful touchdown pass. Thereafter, Romo was removed to preserve his trade value.

Thereafter, quarterback duties were turned over to Mark Sanchez. Sanchez was picked up during the Cowboy management panic after Romo went down. This decision, it turned out, was not only unnecessary, but unwise. Sanchez threw two interceptions on his first two series, but let’s not dwell on his good plays too much.

It will be interesting to see how the Cowboy’s quarterback roster shakes out next year. Dak will start, but who will be the back-ups? Though ideal, it is unlikely Tony Romo will remain with the Cowboys as a back-up, barring some very creative compensation manipulation. So, Romo will in all probability leave for a team where he can start. After seeing him play today, a number of teams will want him.

One possibility is Kellen Moore, Romo’s projected back-up before he (Moore, not Romo) broke his leg before the season. Moore is a free agent after this season, but I think he would want to stay with the Cowboys. Whoever the back-up is, it will not, or at least should not be Sanchez. He is an interception, sack and/or fumble looking for a place to happen.

It would be unfair to end the regular season comment about the improvement of the Cowboys’ pass rush, which was non-existent last season. Dallas got two players back from suspension – Demarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory – who have contributed nicely since their return. (Keep your noses clean, guys). In addition, two other defensive players, particularly David Irving, but also, Benson Mayowa, have blossomed this season to become menacing pass rushers. Well done, Cowboys.

 

The college championship semis were played Saturday, and it will be Alabama and Clemson in the National Championship game. Alabama is a solid favorite according to Vegas, but from what I saw, I like Clemson’s chances. We’ll see.

My beloved Oklahoma Sooners will play Auburn in the Sugar Bowl on Monday evening (Yes, I checked.) I probably won’t be able to see much, if any of the game, because Cynthia and I will be flying back home to Arizona from Katy, TX, where we have been visiting our granddaughter, oh, and her parents, of course, and I forgot to record the game. Friends with grandchildren tell me they (grandchildren, not necessarily the friends) change your life and your priorities. This unusual behavior seems to support that assertion.

Sudden Thought: Am I the only one who thinks that advertising on the internet is becoming as overloaded, interruptive and irritating as on TV? When I worked in advertising, I thought of little but the advertising on TV, with less interest in the programing, except news, sports and movies. Now that I’m a retired viewer, I find it (advertising, not retirement) inconvenient. I’ve taken to recording programming with technology available today, though not when I was in the business, thankfully, so I can race through the commercials.

I suspect I’m not alone, so I think the value per dollar spent on TV advertising is significantly overstated today. Perhaps the same will be said for on-line advertising soon. Surely, someone will invent a way to wipe away online ads too.

Status of the States: Tis the season to be jolly, so I’m not clouding my mood thinking about the sorry state of these sorry states. Happy New Year!

Coming Attractions: Book review and year end musings.