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Thoughts on Events the Week of June 12

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on June 20, 2017

A deranged man: opened fire with a rifle on a group of House Republicans practicing for a baseball game, wounding four of them, including House Whip Steve Scalise (rhymes with sleaze), seriously.  Almost immediately, there were calls from legislators for increased security for themselves.

Frankly, this reaction just pisses me off. It is not just Congress that needs more security. We all need protection from wing nuts with guns, and Congress has failed miserably to do anything to protect us from them.

Twenty one little children were murdered in a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and it didn’t stir Congress to move an inch. Maybe this attack, closer to home, will elicit some action. (It didn’t when Representative Gabby Giffords was shot; though, of course, she was a Democrat.)

I’ll feel more sympathy for Congressional victims of gun violence when they start showing more sympathy for us and less for the NRA. At the very least, keep guns away from those who shouldn’t have one. My prediction: nothing will happen except perhaps more security at the Capitol.

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions: our Attorney General, and perhaps the least fit for his position in President Trump’s cabinet (which is really saying something), testified before the Senate intelligence committee. “Testified” is used charitably, because Sessions didn’t answer many questions, refusing to answer on nonexistent legal grounds.

But he answered enough – specifically those answers in direct contradiction to those of former FBI Director Comey – to have likely perjured himself. He will sing for Robert Mueller, and I suspect that will be it for Sessions. It couldn’t happen to a nicer racist and bigot.

The Nationally televised Ass Kissing Ceremony: The story is told that during the Kennedy Administration, someone who had met with both Kennedy and the Pope was asked to compare the two meetings. He said that with the Pope, at least he only had to kiss his ring.

That story came to mind when I watched the ring kissing ceremony at Ponzi Don’s cabinet meeting, when the secretaries went around the table gushing about him obsequiously. Only Secretary of Defense James Mattis sought to maintain his dignity.

What a dismal spectacle. It evoked sycophants of Kim Jung Un, and I was embarrassed for all of them. These are the kinds of people with whom Ponzi has surrounded himself. Do you see any of them speaking truth to power? Do you see power listening to any of them?

Premature Ejection: It was reported that Ponzi Don is now under investigation by the Special Counsel for obstructing justice, and the crowd went wild, by which I mean the media. Their rush to judgement is unseemly. An investigation does not mean guilt. Private citizens may speculate – I certainly do – but the media should be more circumspect than it has been.

That said, we owe the media our thanks for its reawakening. The competition between the New York Times and Washington Post in covering Trump’s presidency is inspiring. It may become a movie one day.

However, I don’t think Ponzi can be convicted of obstruction by the House. Impeachment is a political judgement call, and Republicans are still the judges. I’m much more interested in seeing how the Russian story plays out, and to see where the money trail leads.

The Russians are the only ones willing to lend Ponzi money anymore. My guess is they don’t really care if they get their money back; they are hoping for a big non-cash return on the investments.

Jared Kushner: is also under investigation for his business dealings, and I have less circumspection regarding him. He met with the president of a sanctioned Russian bank, and there is no innocent reason for that. He’s got some serious ‘splaining to do.

Cuba: It almost requires carbon dating to see how far backward Ponzi Don tried to take us on the issue of Cuba – 58 years, to 1959, when Fidel Castro took power.

Actually, Ponzi didn’t dismantle President Obama’s historic achievement completely, because the idea is too good. We’re seeing a lot of this from Ponzi lately.* He chops a limb or two off the trunk of Obama’s tall oaks and tells his base he has cut the whole thing down. They buy it.

Ironically, almost simultaneously with Ponzi’s announcement, Raul Castro announced that he will be stepping down in 2018. Someone not named Castro will take over. He will espouse the same policies, but history tells us that when the leader of a cult of personality passes from the scene, the successor will not be able to hold things together. But with his move, Ponzi has bought the Cuban government a little more time, because it can revert to blaming the USA for all its troubles, diverting blame from itself.

Fortunately, Obama has put the unraveling of Cuba’s oppressive regime in irreversible motion. Cuba will continue to reform with or without us, and as with so many things under Ponzi, we will be hidebound and left behind.

I had hoped that Obama had gotten us beyond having our Cuba – U.S. politics held hostage to a small bunch of grievance-crazed Cuban refugees, but apparently not quite yet. It’s unpolitic to say this, and I probably won’t live to see it anyway, but I will be glad when the anti-Castro Cuban American refugees have passed on.

* Ponzi tried this usually reliable gambit with DACA, though with less success. He announced he would let the “Dreamers” remain in the U.S. for now, but would deal with them in the future. This one backfired. His base booed. They want all illegals gone now. They want all illegals gone now, even if they are American citizens. All Hispanics are illegals as far as these people are concerned. Could Ponzi Don have underestimated how truly xenophobic his base is? I wouldn’t think so, because he helped make them that way. But maybe.

Sports – Correction: Recently, I wrote that the University of Oklahoma Sooners won National Championships in women’s softball, men’s golf and women’s gymnastics. I neglected to mention that OU won the men’s gymnastics national championship also. That’s four national championships in one spring season, people. Boomer Sooner!

Status of the States: The national news has been so mesmerizing again this week that I haven’t paid attention to state politics. I will point out, however, that a few years ago, Arizona, my own personal state, forwent a meteorologically defined start date of our monsoon season to an arbitrary one of June 15, which is banal. When we reach a dew point of 55 degrees three days in a row, rains caused by the change in wind direction (the literal meaning of monsoon) will begin, which is somewhere around July 6. It doesn’t deserve a worst state cup, but it was a dumb idea. (Note: the dew point was 41 degrees this morning.)

 

Thoughts on Events the Week of June 5

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on June 12, 2017

Infrastructure Week: You could just feel the excitement over President Trump’s infrastructure plan. It was all anyone could talk about. (Just kidding.)

Actually, Ponzi Don did float one infrastructure idea: to privatize the Air Traffic Control System. Say what? Just what I want: my safety at 35,000 feet in the hands of a private company that is cutting corners for profit. Ponzi says our air control equipment is out of date and there is much better technology available. Well, why isn’t the government buying it, Ponzi?

I have a lot of thoughts about infrastructure, but I’ll save then until/if we ever have an actual infrastructure week.

The Comey Hearing: This was riveting testimony about President Trump and about Russian interference in our presidential election.

Ponzi Don obstructed justice, plain and simple. You know it, I know it, everybody knows it. A president’s “hope” is a direct order. When the big boss “hopes” you will jump, he expects you to be in the air before asking how high.

In a court of law, any competent prosecutor would get a conviction, but it’s questionable that this charge will ever be brought against Ponzi Don, because the only court in which a president may be indicted is the House of Representatives, and House Republicans are not ready to try their own president. They still fear his base too much, as well they should.

All that said, it can’t be forgotten that Comey himself did more damage to our presidential election than the Russians ever could. He should have been fired on July 5th by President Obama, or at the latest by President Hillary Clinton on January 21. So Comey’s appearance, while illuminating and sincere, cannot be taken for perfect truth without some salt.

The Other Hearing: The day before the Comey testimony, the Senate Intelligence committee had their intelligence insulted by Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats and Director or National Security, Mike Rogers, who refused to answer questions about whether Ponzi Don had asked them to help disrupt or play down the  FBI’s investigation of Mike Flynn and connections to Russia. The Senate could hold them in Contempt of Congress, but they won’t do that. Senate Republicans fear Ponzi’s base also.

You can understand why Rogers and Coats would balk. They don’t want to be on the wrong side of Ponzi, but they aren’t going to perjure themselves for him either. Better to fade the heat.

The effect of this refusal to testify will only be to string out some time before we learn what happened. These birds will sing for Robert Mueller or land in jail.

Qatar: Apparently taking Ponzi’s support as a green light, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and other Sunni majority countries blockaded Qatar (also Sunni majority) for its support of terrorism. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! (Note: these countries have tried to isolate Qatar before and failed. Perhaps they figure they might be successful this time, with Ponzi’s blessing.)

Sure enough, Ponzi immediately sided with Saudi Arabia and condemned Qatar, presumably before anyone in his administration could tell him that Qatar is also an important American ally, that we have 11,000 U.S. troops stationed there, and that Qatar is home to our largest air base in the region.

Turkey, a strong ally of Qatar, has come to its aid militarily, and the whole region is in an uproar. Meanwhile, in a situation that cries out for strong diplomacy, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Ponzi keep contradicting one another in public.

When people worry that Ponzi might get us into a war with his antics, this is the kind of thing they have in mind.

Tehran: The capital of Iran, a Shia majority country, suffered two terrorist attacks by ISIS (Sunni nut jobs), the first ISIS attack on Iranian soil.

The Trump administration offered mild sympathy for those killed in the attacks, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to lecture Tehran about its own role in terrorism. Not the right moment, Ponzi.

I’m thinking this attack may prove to be a very big mistake on ISIS’s part. Iran is not going to take this lightly. There is going to be some serious Sunni suffering over this.

Miscellaneous: Ponzi Don talked about doing a lot of bad things this week, though none of them have yet gotten beyond the tweeting stage. We’ll think about them if they ever get off the ground, but never doubt that even in his bent, incompetent state he can do a lot of damage if he gets started. Remember Dubbya? Who would have thought a president could do so much damage with our system of checks and balances? And Ponzi is just getting started.

Women’s Softball Championship: My beloved University of Oklahoma Sooners won the National Championship, beating the University of Florida in two straight games, the first of which went an epic 17 innings.

These two teams are unquestionably the cream of the sport. In the last five years, OU has won three championships and Florida has won the other two. Boomer Sooner!

Note: OU also won national championships in women’s gymnastics and men’s golf. I’m just sayin’

Status of the States: The cup returns to The Lone Star State, thanks to Texas Senator John Cornyn, who, at the intelligence committee hearing, intending to obstruct the proceedings rather than further them, brought up the Hillary Clinton email episode, having nothing to do with the matter at hand. As my youngest daughter would say, “Oh, dad, that is so yesterday,” yesterday in this case being a year and an administration change ago.

Thoughts on Events the Week of May 29

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on June 7, 2017

America Last: President Trump’s backing out of the Paris climate accord, politics and prestige aside, will have little if any quantitative effect. The market has already taken control of the global warming issue, which counts more than political pronouncements. Renewable energy is a growth industry today and everyone with any sense is getting involved. This includes most of the U.S. business community, whatever Ponzi’s stance.

Nations committed to the accord, which now includes all but three, will maintain their course. The big guys – China, the EU and India –will shrug their shoulders and move on without us, shaking our dust from their sandals.

Politically, Ponzi Don’s base may be happy with his declaration of contempt for the globe; it was one of his campaign promises that resonated with them. But that is because (this has to be said) they are too stupid, or too angry and too gullible to understand the issue.

As for the rest of the planet, Ponzi’s decision merely reinforces what they are coming to understand about him. We are more and more seen as a country ignorant, superstitious (read science averse), hidebound and narrow in vision. That is certainly how I see us at present, and it’s painful to say.

When Ponzi said “America First,” he meant what he said. Not America to lead, but America to be selfish and greedy, and to look out for ourselves without a care about the rest of the planet. Ponzi Don is not making America great. He is making America small.

Jared Kushner: Ponzi Don’s son-in-law could lose his parking space at the White House for hobnobbing with the Russian Ambassador to the U.S. and the president of a sanctioned Russian bank, neither of which he made mention on his security clearance application.

If I were naïve or stupid or just wanting to believe it, I might take Kushner at his word that he was just engaged in diplomatic business with the Ambassador. But the bank president meeting is impossible to square. He (the bank president, not Kushner; well, maybe Kushner) is a Russian agent, bigger than Dallas, and he runs a sanctioned Russian bank, which by law, U.S. citizens and businesses are prohibited from doing business with. So, either Kushner was dealing politically with a suspicious Russian agent without reporting it, or trying to do business on behalf of himself or his boss, which is illegal as hell, and also not reported. I think Ponzi’s inner circle is going to have to take its belt in another notch soon. I can’t imagine this guy being around much longer.

Miscellaneous: Ponzi Don talked about doing a lot of bad things this week, though none of them have yet gotten beyond the tweeting stage. We’ll think about them if they ever get off the ground, but never doubt that even in his bent, incompetent state he can do a lot of damage if he gets started. Remember Dubbya? Who would have thought a president could do so much damage with our system of checks and balances? And Ponzi is just getting started.

Status of the States: Arizona, my own personal state, gets the worst state cup this week. New data are out, and Arizona leads the nation in reduction in per capita investment in student education between 2008 (the beginning of the Great Recession. Remember Dubbya?) and 2016. And Arizona’s investment in education was in the bottom three states to begin with. I sometimes wonder if Republicans want our education system diminished. How else could Ponzi Don have been elected?

Thoughts on Events the Week of May 22

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on May 29, 2017

Trump Abroad II: President Trump did fine in Israel so long as he stayed on script. His speech was well written, well given and well received, at least by Sunni dominated countries and those countries not named Iran. It was only when Ponzi Don went off script and spilled some more classified beans that things got awkward. And someone really should have told Ponzi that Israel is in the Middle East. It’s hard to achieve Middle East without understanding that.

Ponzi Don got through his visit to the Vatican reasonably well. He smiled for the photo op, though the Pope looked embarrassed to be seen with him.

It was when Ponzi began meeting with European democratically elected leaders – not really his cup of tea – that things went downhill. Even his scripted remarks were factually incorrect, off target and ill received. Then, there was “The Shove.”

The Shove: I have spent a lot of time in Europe, and I have seen my share of boorish American tourists. (Every country has them.) But I have never seen anything so rude and ugly as when Ponzi Don literally shoved the Prime Minister of Montenegro – Dusko Markovic – out of his way like a gluttonous pig pushing for the trough, not even acknowledging Markovic, and then strutted like a bully. I was embarrassed for all of us that he was representing our country thus.

When they make a movie about Ponzi’s term, it will be titled, “The (Ugly) American President.”

Meanwhile, back in the U.S.A.: More of the same. More communications with suspicious Russians with more Trump senior staffers, more actionable omissions on security clearance documents, more Trump family funny business exposed, more leaking, more lying. Same old same old, except with fewer Tweets, and a little air starting to seep out of Ponzi’s polling numbers.

The Budget: Doubtless timed deliberately to occur while Ponzi was abroad, his budget was released to Congress and the people. It was as mean-spirited and laughable as his repeal and replace healthcare plan, and received in the same way.

Now we have two documents relating to Ponzi’s agenda in Congress’ hands, but it’s hard to see either of these mutts hunting. The healthcare plan seems to be going backwards. In fact, I don’t see how any legislation is going to go anywhere until the Russia mystery is solved.

Opioid Addiction Epidemic: This subject is confounding, but two recent articles by German Lopez of Vox.com explain it pretty well. I recommend them.  http://newsletters.vox.com/t/d-l-kjhjdyk-ukaotjl-w/ and http://newsletters.vox.com/t/d-l-kjhjdyk-ukaotjl-g/.

Movie Review: Morning Glory, with a cast including Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton and Jeff Goldblum, and cameos by news celebrities such as Morley Safer and Chris Matthews, is a much better movie than the two stars cable reviewers give it. These reviewers don’t know what the hell they are talking about. Morning Glory is worth three stars at a minimum. Full Disclosure: I am a sucker for love stories and comedy. Good romantic comedies are my favorites, and this is one.

Sudden Thought: The Fidget Spinner is the dumbest pop cultural fad since the Pet Rock.

Status of the States: The Texas state legislative session ends Monday, and the house is deadlocked on a so called “bathroom bill.”  Apparently, even in really, really red state Texas, this issue is controversial.

Potty obsessed Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick says he will call for a special session if lawmakers don’t reach agreement. (Note: Patrick – whose office runs the senate in Texas – will have to call one anyway, because the febrile debate about which toilet seats should be up or down monopolized the legislative calendar to the point nothing got done regarding school finance and other actual issues.

The most farcical moment of the debate was during public statements when a former female, now a heavily bearded male minister, asked legislators if they, or anyone, seriously wanted him to use the ladies room.

Don’t be surprised if the legislature sneaks a bill through on Monday while everyone is waterskiing on Lake Texoma and gets the hell out of town with other work undone. We’ll see. Either way, Texas gets the cup this week.  It will be interesting to see if they get it again next week over the same issue.

Thoughts on Events the Week of May 15

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on May 23, 2017

Impeachment: Whoa! The media, which had been doing much, much better recently, is running off the rails again with all its speculation about impeachment. This is not only premature, but irresponsible, as impeachment implies guilt of a “high crime or misdemeanor,” which is not only unproven, but cuts against our principle of presumed innocence.

We now have a credible entity empowered to investigate the matter. Impeachment is a political, not a legal procedure, but, in the name of justice and democracy, let’s let the investigation play out before rushing to judgement (comedians excepted).

(As a practical matter, even if Ponzi were to go, I don’t see how things would improve much. Those next in line of succession are just as bad or worse.)

Sudden Thought: If it were to be determined that Ponzi Don was cahooting with the Russians before the election, could we get a “do-over?” I’m just askin’.

Trump Voter Disconnect: Two thoughts have been nagging this week. The first is why Trump voters seem to be so sanguine about President Trump’s obvious coddling of Russia? One would think that most of Ponzi Don’s voters would be viscerally anti-Russia, and upset about Ponzi’s handling of them.

Ponzi has said he has no investments in Russia whatsoever, and this may be true. But Russia very likely has investments in Ponzi, and/or some of his properties, which is a bigger worry.

Future Conflicts of Interest: This leads to the second nagging thought. Like it or not, the world is going global. It is likely then that we will experience other presidential candidates with some or even many foreign entanglements. This is not necessarily a bad thing (except how Ponzi Don practices it), but we are going to have to rethink how we address these potential conflicts of interest in the future. Our current approach seems inadequate in the circumstances. Making the publishing of tax returns (including the facts about all hidden corporations) should be mandatory, at the very least. I think Ponzi’s are going to be very illuminating when they are ultimately disclosed.

Trump Abroad: Two presidents went on Ponzi’s initial foreign trip: the scripted one and the real one. While on script, Ponzi did pretty well (he must have new speech writers). When being himself, Ponzi was, well, himself, wandering into the “Land (mines?) of the Uninformed, the Uncurious and Malapropisms.”

Ponzi must have loved his reception in Saudi Arabia. He was surrounded by tyrants, who treated him like one of their own, which is how he thinks he should be treated at home.

Ponzi handled his written speech pretty well. But the overall impression he gave seemed to side with the Sunnis in the Sunni-Shia religious war, in particular by how he spoke of Iran. Ponzi really needs to learn more (or anything) about Iran. It is much more important to us than the Saudis in the long run.

Obit: Roger Ailes, fantastically successful creator of Fox News Network, died, though not soon enough. Isaac Chotiner of Slate put it best: “Ailes ….made our country nastier, stupider, cruder, and more bigoted.”

Diary Entry: Very close friends from Oklahoma came to visit us, and we showed them some of the Grand Canyon State. Our friends have been around the world, but had never seen the Grand Canyon, so we took them to see it. The Grand Canyon never disappoints, and it didn’t this time either. They enjoyed it as much as we enjoyed being with them for several days.

Status of the States: I’ll eschew pointing out the worst state during Ponzi’s initial trip abroad, as president.

Thoughts on Events the Week of May 8

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on May 15, 2017

Sally Yates: Hurled some testimonial truth at the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, which scorched Michal Flynn and threw shade on just about everyone in the Trump administration. There was no contradicting her either; she has the tapes, and they know it. Instead, some Republican members tried to imply she is partisan and possibly a leaker. She shut that down emphatically.

Have you ever noticed how pasty white guy senators behave around competent, confident women? They’re terrified of them.

President Trump Fired James Comey: For what reason is still a question blowing in the wind, but gone he is. Comey deserved to be fired. He sabotaged a U.S. presidential election. Had he been fired on the spot when he should have been last July, we wouldn’t have to be going through all this.

It is academic why Ponzi Don fired Comey now; he has the authority; Comey deserved it. It’s odd, however, that Ponzi (first) cited reasons for firing Comey for which he had praised him in the past. Perhaps it dawned on Ponzi that if Comey could do that to Clinton, he could do it to him. I have my theory; everyone seems to have one. But, as I say, it doesn’t matter.

What does matter is that with Comey’s firing, all three of the investigations into the possible connection between Ponzi’s campaign and Russia are now compromised in some way. Even if one, or even all of the investigations were able to right themselves and investigate responsibility, there might never be the public acceptance necessary to bring the issue to closure.

We need an independent investigation with lots of resources, subpoena power, and a leader with a serious hard on for the truth. So, who’s going to step up? If no one else will, it will be up to the media, which has been working hard to redeem itself from its utter failure during the campaign. Given the Comey firing – he was popular with the FBI – and Ponzi’s lying early and often to everyone, including his own staff, I suspect the media will get a lot of help from leakers. As with Mother Nature, it’s not smart to screw with the FBI.

Sudden thought: Archibald Cox

Military Distractions: Leaders of many countries often try to distract attention from their ineptitude by doing something militarily, which appeals to public patriotism. Ponzi Don, who is always under fire, announced that he may send some 3,600 more troops to Afghanistan. Afghanistan is a useless pile of rocks, if that’s not being redundant. This is an insane idea on a scale with, well, Ponzi’s other ideas.

On the other hand, Ponzi also said he is planning to give the Kurds military equipment so they can participate in the battle to retake Raqqa, the self-proclaimed capital of ISIL in Syria, which will piss off Turkey royally. This is actually the first thing that Ponzi’s administration has done that diverges from Obama administration policies, which makes some logical sense.

The Kurds are the only people in the region who are our friends, and they have been loyal to the U.S., even after their betrayal by George H.W. Bush. They are good fighters, and they are one of the parties who will ultimately end up with chunks of Syria and Iraq, and probably some of Turkey, to form their own country. Even more important, this requires no more of our troops.

South Korea: As expected, elected Moon Jae-in President. I think we should pay close attention to this. Moon is a reformer and serious social activist, a comparative liberal in a conservative country. He has been unimpressed with American policy since George W. Bush shut down diplomacy with North Korea. He favors improving relations with North Korea and creating some space between South Korea and America. Having watched Ponzi Don, who can blame him?

China is doubtless happy with the outcome of this election. While Ponzi is playing footsie with second rate Russia, and threatening our own allies, including South Korea, China is taking over the center stage Ponzi so much covets. Moon seems unlikely to be intimidated by Ponzi. It will be interesting to see how this works out.

Status of the States: I was going to let all the states off the hook again this week, but Texas forced my hand. The two Texas U.S. Senators – Cornyn and Cruz, tried to discredit Sally Yates as a partisan hack and possible leaker, for which their state earned the cup. It was delicious, I must say, to watch how Yates slapped them around and sent them both home crying for their mamas. Speaking  of whom, Happy Mother’s Day.

Thoughts on Events the Week of May 1

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on May 10, 2017

Overthinking Russia: .Russia is our enemy. President Trump, you really need to understand this. Their government, not their people, hate us with a hardness that can only be forged in the fires of fear and envy.

However, Russia is not a serious threat to us. It is, in fact, a second rate power, trending downward. They have nukes, which they will never use in a first strike, oil, and that’s it. Today, they are capable only of mischief, at which they are, admittedly, skilled. To call them the most dangerous threat in the world is overwrought.

Vladimir Putin – Yesterday’s Man – has taken Russia back to the cold war era. It’s all he knows. He had the opportunity to take a more peaceful tack, but not the vision or mentality. He blew it, just as we blew it in 1989, for the same reason.

Putin grew up in a USSR that was large and dangerous, having cobbled together an empire of satellite states through force and military dominance. Every one of those states hated the USSR then, and they hate the USSR still. Some of those states are willing to accept Russia, which they differentiate from the USSR, while most just want to get as far away from that time in history as they possibly can.

As for Russia’s hacking, our intelligence community tells us Russia has been doing this for as long as they have had the capability, which is decades. We have been doing the very same thing to them, I would like to think as well and probably better. We do the same to other countries as well, and vice versa. It’s just kind of background noise now.

If we want to eliminate, or at least moderate Russia’s behavior, we have to squeeze Yesterday’s Man like a zit, with serious sanctions. We can do much more of this than we have done so far – it’s more complicated than it sounds, and will require, you know, diplomacy with Europe – and it is the only thing Putin understands.

But, to think that Russian hacking had much, if anything to do with Hillary Clinton’s loss in the presidential election is misguided. It was just garden variety mischief.

Now, if the Trump campaign had been collaborating with Russia, that’s something entirely different. That’s a serious crime. So, let’s stop overreacting to Russia’s mischief and find out who, if anyone other than Michael Flynn, who’s already toast, in the Trump campaign was collaborating, or making side deals with Vladimir. I think that ball of twine will begin go unravel a little faster when Sally Yates testifies on Monday.

Lordy, Lordy: James Comey testified before Senate and House committees, and a bigger crock of shit I never heard. Comey told the Senate panel that he feels “mildly nauseous” to think his actions may have influenced the election. Well, Comey’s actions make me sick at my stomach. Make no mistake. Comey, not the Russians, stole the election from Clinton, and I believe he did it deliberately. This guy makes J. Edgar Hoover look like a saint.

Repeal and Replace: House Republican passed an R&R bill which is, almost inconceivably, worse than the previous drafts, which were so odious they didn’t even make it to a vote.

Republicans must have calculated that since they had told their base that Obamacare is so bad for so long, and promised they would repeal and replace it that they had to pass something. It could have been a bill with just the title “Repeal and Replace Obamacare Act” on it and no actual text below it, for all it mattered to House Republicans. Oh, wait! That’s exactly what House members actually voted on. They had no text, no costs, no scoring, and only Ryan’s word this had to be done.

If Republicans had thought just a little longer, they may have considered that repealing a now popular healthcare law and replacing it with something that began with only 17% approval and which will be even lower when this bill is scored, may not have been their best option. They could have instead worked with Democrats to improve existing law.

Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, my own personal senator: stick your finger in this bill, pull your finger out and smell it, then tell me you are going to vote for this bill, or anything like it. I dare you.

And Ponzi, yes, you who has promised us healthcare that is better, cheaper and ubiquitous, this bill is about as far from that as you can get. You also promised us jobs, yet you are attacking the fastest growing segment of our economy with a bill that will put a whole lot of people out of work as it is simultaneously denying healthcare to millions of healthcare “customers.”  You should be the guy pushing Medicare and Medicaid for everyone! Talk about a job stimulator! Jesus, what a smarmy scum of mean-spirited morons. How far will you go to dig up billions for tax breaks to yourselves?

Jobs report: The economy added just north of 220,000 jobs in April, which brought the unemployment rate down to 4.4%, the lowest since George W. Bush flushed it down the toilet. As one who believes a job is man’s noblest possession after love, this is extremely good news.

As economic laws did in, we should finally – it takes a long time to dig out from as big a hole as Dubbya put us in – begin to see some rise in wages, as jobs begin chasing fewer available workers.

The French Election: In a reversal of the American election, the French ignored the distractions of Russian mischief and elected a pro-EU, pro-immigration centrist and rejected the Trumpish, xenophobic, Europhobic Marine LePen. (Fortunately for France, they didn’t have a Comey to deal with.) The French saw Ponzi Don and Brexit, remembered their own far-right history and sobered up quickly.

Still, it’s ironic, and shameful, that France, a country that is not particularly immigrant welcoming, is in fact Franco-arrogant, and where immigrants are not assimilated very efficiently, would reject Trumpism, while America, perhaps the most immigrant welcoming country on earth, elected Ponzi Don. This doesn’t speak well for us.

Tax reform: With a nod to Sir Elton John, I think it’s going to be a long, long time till touchdown brings us round again to find: Tax Reform. Republicans are going to be stuck in the healthcare tar baby for quite a while longer, and they can’t really proceed with tax “reform” until they have screwed people out of enough money from healthcare funds to give more tax breaks to billionaires and millionaires through tax reform.

But, I will make one comment about the fibs Republicans are already spreading on this subject. Let’s begin with the keystone lie that the U.S. has the highest corporate tax rate of any major country. This is pure rubbish.

We have the highest rate on our tax law books – the statutory rate – but we have written so many loop holes and tax breaks into our tax code, that corporations pay an actual – or effective rate – about the same as most other countries. Our corporations, and their paid legislators just want us to think they pay a higher rate, because it is the basis of other lies.

The Tax Reform talking points sheet says Republicans will lower the statutory rate from 35% down to 15%. They will also lower some rates for middle class and lower earners, but they will also remove many deductions used by those earners. You will notice that although the corporate statutory tax rate will be reduced by more than 50%, there is absolutely no mention of eliminating any of those loopholes or tax breaks for corporations.

Comic relief: A woman was arrested and convicted for laughing reflexively at something Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions (that title is funny right there) said. I do not fear this happening to me. I find nothing funny about Jeff Sessions. He is a smarmy homophobic, xenophobic racist in a position to impose his prejudices on our justice system. I see nothing funny about that. On the other hand, as Mel Brooks said, some things are so awful, there’s nothing you can but laugh at them. (I expect this case will go away quietly.)

Status of the States: With the exception of a few misdemeanors, there is nothing going on at the worst states that begins to approach the mendacity at the national level. Rest for a while, worst states, until or if the federal government passes some laws you can use to screw up with.

Thoughts on Events the Week of April 24

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on May 3, 2017

Our economy grew: at .7% for the first quarter of 2017. This is nowhere near the emerging market-like growth rate President Trump has promised us, of course, but it is nothing to lose sleep over either. First quarter growth is typically low compared to the overall result for a given full year, which grownups predict will be just a tad north of two percent.

To be fair, Ponzi Don had nothing to do with these results. It is much too soon for his policies, to the extent he has any, to have affected this quarter. (Come to think of it, presidents generally have little control or influence over short-term GDP numbers unless they hit a real homerun or screw up royally. Which do you think is more likely from Ponzi Don?)

What these numbers suggest is what I have been predicting: we have been experiencing slow but steady growth for a historic number of months, and this will continue. There is little Ponzi can do to outperform that trend, however much he promises to. Our economy is already too great (already great, get it?) to move radically on a percentage basis one way or another, quickly.

“South Korea – friend or foe?”: Ponzi Don rattled his saber at our enemy North Korea, and threatened that if China wouldn’t deal with Kim Jung Un and his nukes, Ponzi would deal with them himself.

In a stunning display of diplomatic incompetence (as if the above weren’t enough), Ponzi then went on to criticize our ally  South Korea’s trade agreement with the U.S., and threatened to tear it up. Trump also said that he would make South Korea pay $1 Billion for the THAAD anti-missile defense system we are installing there (echoes of the Mexican wall fiasco), which South Korea doesn’t want anyway. This whole mess must have scared hell out of South Korea and pissed them off royally.

So, Ponzi, do we have a friend and a foe on the Korean Peninsula, or two foes?

One possible outcome from Ponzi’s insane remarks is that South Korea might conclude a relationship with Ponzi Don’s America is more risky and less reliable than one with China, and switch its allegiance. The leading candidate in South Korea’s upcoming presidential election – Moon Jae-in – having seen Trump in action, seems to be leaning that way, and who can blame him?

For that deal, China might take North Korea’s nukes away, do away with the entire Un regime and turn the country over to South Korea, who would in a short time turn the entire Peninsula into a thriving single country, trading with China instead of us. Now, that might affect our GDP.

Obamacare Repeal Failure Redux: The House tried again and failed again to repeal Obamacare. This pattern resembles the pattern of the Obama era, when House Republicans voted incessantly to repeal Obamacare, but which votes went nowhere, because the bill couldn’t get out of the Senate, and would been vetoed by President Obama immediately if it had.

The only difference today is that the repeal legislation cannot even get out of the House! It was fun and games for the Republican-controlled House to vote to repeal Obamacare over and over again when they knew the vote was meaningless. But now the vote could count and House members would have to explain it to their constituencies; many Republicans don’t want that.

The sweet irony is that House members have told their voters that Obamacare is a bad thing for so long that many voters believe it. Those moron voters may hold it against their Congresspersons for not doing away with it. Sweet.

Tax reform and budget: I won’t even comment on Ponzi Don’s budget proposal, because it is so far from reality that his one page recap is the last we will ever see of it. Congress approved a “stop-gap” budget to take us to the end of the fiscal year (September 30) that, with the exception of pissing more money away on our military, I can live with until then, because it puts Ponzi’s priorities – including the border wall with Mexico – in a drawer somewhere behind the socks.

Football: The NFL Draft is the last truly important event for my favorite spectator sport until the new season begins this fall. (My spring and summer of discontent commences.)

This draft was an odd one in the first round, I thought. My take is that the draft was heavy with defensive talent, much lighter on offense, and lacking a can’t-miss quarterback.

What we got was: first, a whole lot of trading; and a lot of excellent defensive players taken in the first round, including the #1 pick. But there were more offensive players taken in the top 10 than defensive ones, and a quarterback taken at #2, who I think was a really risky reach.

The draft stayed true to form for exactly one pick. Cleveland took DE Miles Garrett, pretty much everyone’s #1. At #2, Chicago paid a ton to move up one spot to take QB Mitchell Trubisky, in my view the third or fourth best QB in the draft (after Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes II), and nowhere near a #2 pick.

I presume Chicago thought San Francisco would take Trubisky with their #2 pick themselves, and didn’t want to chance it. With their now #3 pick, the 49ers took DE Solomon Thomas, a solid player with good odds of being a stud in the league. Chicago’s pick disrupted a whole lot of draft boards.

Thereafter, the Top 10 included three wide receivers, two running backs, one strong safety and one more QB – Mahones at #10 (Watson went #12). The game has evolved to be so pass-oriented that wide receivers are now being taken in the top 10. This used never to happen.

The Dallas Cowboys had an excellent draft; many others are saying this besides just Jerry Jones. Dallas had two major needs – pass rusher and defensive backfield – and they focused on them like a laser.

For their first three picks, the Cowboys took a pass rusher (Taco Charlton) and two cornerbacks (Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdon Lewis), the best available at the time (although I think Dallas really wanted Takkarist McKinley instead of Charlton, but he went two picks before Dallas’).

They took a break at #4 to pick Ryan Switzer, a Cole Beasley mini-me who can return punts, then two more defensive backs and a defensive tackle, plus a wide receiver from Ohio State – Joey Ivie – who gave OU fits in their game last season. Two defensive linemen topped off the draft in Round 7.

Speaking of the Sooners, they sent four excellent players to the NFL this year, plus four more signed to undrafted free agent contracts. The four signees are Joe Mixon (RB), Dede Westbrook (WR), Samaje Perine (RB) and Jourdan Evans (LB). I think all four will stick, and more than one will be considered absolute steals in the future.

OU’s most unfortunate draft eligible player is defensive tackle Charles Walker. A year ago, he might have been a first round pick, but Walker stayed at OU for his senior year, which was a disaster. He suffered a severe concussion and symptoms of depression. He left the team, which really hurt OU’s defensive line, and Bob Stoops called him out for it. He did not get drafted, but signed an undrafted free agent contract, a huge fall from grace and a first round selection. I hope he will be OK.

Status of the States: I was having too much fun to worry about the sorry state of these sorry states, so I have no candidates this week.

Coming Attractions: My thoughts on the Obama presidency, and thoughts on our divided nation (next week).

Thoughts on Events the Week of April 17

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on April 27, 2017

Trump’s Taxes: To think President Trump can be shamed into releasing his tax returns is a pipe dream.  Ponzi Don will never disclose his taxes willingly, because he knows if he does so, he will suffer humiliation, impeachment and possibly incarceration. He is a smarmy guy who does smarmy stuff.

It is also unlikely that they will be leaked, because, other than by Melania, it would be illegal as hell, and despite what Republicans say about the IRS, they wouldn’t do such a thing.

That said, I believe the taxes will come to light at some time, probably in a lawsuit, though it may have to wait until the Democrats take control of at least one house of Congress so a committee may compel it, which is unlikely to happen with a Republican-controlled Congress.

“Strategic Patience”: is out of fashion with Trump administration. It’s probably just was well. You can’t execute a strategy requiring patience if you don’t have any, though it is an effective strategy for those who do, such as grown-ups. It’s worth remembering that it took strategic patience to negotiate Iran into giving up its nuclear program.  The Obama administration, which Ponzi Don derides constantly, had strategic patience.

For all the whooping and shouting and threatening, there is still enough time to negotiate with North Korea before it will be able to be anything but a tiny dog that barks because it is afraid since everything around it is so much bigger.

Count me as one who believe that China is the key to North Korea, and that it will intervene ultimately. It’s said that China doesn’t have that much influence over North Korea, but that is nonsense. China is worried about the fallout if North Korea collapses, which is quite understandable. We need to indemnify China as to those possibilities with the right mix of goodies, money and assurances.

I like negotiating with China; they’re grown-ups. And I like that they are successful economically. The more they are, the more they have to lose. I only wish we had smarter people negotiating with them.

Speaking of Iran and Strategic Patience: When Secretary of State Tillerson, after certifying that Iran is adhering to its nuclear treaty with the U.S. and five other major countries, went on to say that Ponzi Don is still not happy with Iran for other reasons, and is thinking of breaking the nuclear treaty unilaterally, I was reminded of a joke my father told me many years ago. I won’t bore you with the entire set-up of the joke, but the punch line is, “I have but one question: are you out of your fucking mind?”

Obama’s plan of diplomacy and sanctions that persuaded Iran to give up its nuclear weapons programs, is his second greatest success story, and a blessing to the entire planet.

Ponzi Don is upset with Iran for supporting its allies in the Syrian War, just as we are supporting our allies. You see the difference, don’t you?

From the beginning, Iran, the U.S. and our negotiating partners, agreed to set all other issues aside and focus on the nuclear weapons issue, as we felt it to be the most important. With that one dealt with, and trust established, other issues could be addressed later.

Well, the nuclear issue has been dealt with by the previous administration, so it is now up to Ponzi Don to address other issues if he wishes. But, if Ponzi Don screws up the deal that keeps Iran from having a nuclear weapon for years, if ever, it will prove to be his worst mistake in office, and that will really be saying something.

Sudden thought: Can you imagine the nuclear deal with Iran negotiated by Obama’s Energy Secretary, Earnest  Moniz , an actual nuclear physicist and chaired professor at MIT, being negotiated by Trump Energy Secretary Rick Perry, an actual Aggie?)

Diary Entry: I returned to the University of Oklahoma for a track and field meet, during which former track and field athletes from the 1961-63 era, of which I’m one, were recognized. We were treated very hospitably, and it was nice to see some old teammates, though I wish there could have been more.

I then spent two days fishing on Lake Tenkiller in eastern Oklahoma. The weather was not our friend. I only caught one fish, but it was a legitimate five pound Largemouth Bass. And, I walked up within fewer than three feet from a beaver.

Status of the States: I was having too much fun to worry about the sorry state of these sorry states, so I have no candidates this week.

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

Thoughts on Events the Week of April 10

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on April 17, 2017

Bombs Away: President Trump got so excited firing missiles at Syria that he wanted to do it again. You can almost hear the conversation in the Situation Room.

Trump: Damn that was fun, dropping bombs on those guys.

General: Those were missiles, Mr. President.

Trump: And my approval rating went up.

General: This is America, Mr.  President.

Trump: Can I bomb somebody else?

General: Er, yes, Sir.

Trump: Can it be with real bombs this time?

General: Yes, Sir.

Trump: Can it be with a real big one? I want a real big one.

General: Yes, Mr. President.

Trump: I’ll leave the details to you.

General: Thank you, Mr. President.

“Gypsies, tramps and thieves:” The Trump family are as a band of Gypsies who have, trusting no one but their own family, swooped into town to steal everything they can get their hands on, and then move on.

One thing is certain, as one after another Trump joins the administration, any claim that Ponzi Don has separated his governmental responsibilities and his family business interests is nonsense. This is probably what will trip him up, ultimately.

Ryancare: A recent poll indicates that Ponzi Don’s base blames Speaker of the House Paul Ryan for the Repeal and Replace Obamacare disaster, and not the president. This is as it should be. Ryan crafted the dog’s dinner of a bill that everyone but him found disgusting. Ponzi never really bought into it, as that would take time and thought.

What Ponzi Don did do is promise his voters healthcare that would be cheaper, better and cover everybody (Ryan never promised that). So, we’re still waiting for Ponzi Don’s bill.

It would be delicious irony if Ponzi were to work with Democrats and reform Obamacare to evolve into Medicare or Medicaid for everyone (at least his base and he wouldn’t have to hear it called Obamacare anymore), or at least include a public option.

Trump’s Policies, Strategies, Priorities. You’ve got to be kidding: Everyone is trying to discern Ponzi Don’s thinking. There is none. A recent example of how little thought goes into Ponzi Don’s agenda, and how bereft it is actual thought: Ponzi created a commission (a Washington political euphemism meaning to push it to the back burner and hope everyone forgets about it) to study how to combat the opioid addiction epidemic. He even appointed a chairman – Chris Christie. All well and good, I suppose; I don’t know much about this issue.

However, the House healthcare bill, had it passed, would have gutted all the resources with which to deal with the epidemic. His budget proposal would do the same.  Ponzi is incapable of intellectual consistency, which requires a willingness and ability to juxtapose ideas. You can’t hope to juxtapose ideas if you have only impulses.

Pence: There is one very important lie floating around that I want to be sure doesn’t get lost in the myriad of distractions being thrown up about the Trump campaign’s connections to Russia. If Trump should fall over this, the next in line is Vice President Mike Pence, but he is into the Russian connection scandal up to his neck and lying through his teeth about it.

Ponzi gave the lame excuse for firing Michael Flynn that he misled Pence about having connections to foreign governments Russia and Turkey. This is a canard. Pence already knew about Flynn. He probably knew before anyone in the administration.

Pence was head of the transition committee when the intelligence community informed it about Flynn. The letter would have gone directly to Pence, or he sure as hell would have known about it. Yet he took no action about Flynn, just like Ponzi punted or stalled. But Pence knew, so he can’t claim to be surprised or disappointed by Flynn’s for lying to him.

Diary Entry: Rita Rudner performed here Saturday night, and she put on a delightful stand-up comedy act. We’ve seen her before, and she is always funny. She is especially good with running gags, which pop up throughout her performance.

Status of the States: I suspected last week that Alabama would win the cup this week, and I was right. It was an easy guess. Alabama’s Governor Bentley, already in deep, deep political and legal doo doo, pleaded guilty to using public resources to pursue an affair with a former aide then resigned to avoid being impeached. Have you seen this guy? Who would have sex with him if money weren’t involve?

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