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Thoughts on Events the Week of February 12

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on February 19, 2018

The Magic Number is 48: That’s how many people went to jail for the Watergate related crimes against our democracy. It remains to be seen if the Russian crimes will exceed that number of crooks, but the count seems certain to increase significantly from the two who have already confessed.

It seems unlikely, though not impossible, that the 13 Russian citizens indicted by the Special Counsel’s grand jury this week will ever be tried. I don’t see them visiting America any time soon. I don’t think that American guy in California we indicted is going to avoid prosecution, though.

I’m not sure what messages the DOJ was sending with the Russian indictments, or to whom, but I think one result will be to loose the dogs in various agencies to defend the security of our upcoming elections aggressively, no matter what Trump wants.

Or maybe the Magic Number is Two: That’s the number of women (so far) who have claimed, persuasively, to have had affairs with Trump, in each of these cases, fairly early in Trump’s marriage, and shortly after Mrs. Trump gave birth to her son. I’m curious just how many of these public humiliations Mrs. Trump is willing to put up with. Standing by your man is one thing, but, Damn!

Disclaimer repeat: I don’t really care who Trump screws or pees on or vice versa or whatever he enjoys, as long as it doesn’t interfere with his job.  It’s his business and none of my own. Women he assaults, however, is another matter entirely.

Status of the States: Oklahoma gets the worst state cup this week, because of favorite son Scott Pruitt, former Oklahoma Attorney General and current head of the Environmental Protection Agency, and sworn enemy of the environment. (Pruitt was actually born in Kentucky, which explains a lot, but Oklahoma nurtured him into what he has become, which is not much.)

The reason we recognize Pruitt today is that has canceled a “business trip” to Israel because he can’t fly there first class. This begs the question how important could this trip really have been? And if it was important, why didn’t he suck it up and go?

Pruitt has caused a stink by flying first class everywhere and running up $90,000* in travel expenses in a short time. Pruitt’s excuse for flying first is tone deaf and lame, also. He says when he flies coach with ordinary citizens, he hears complaints about his policies from some of them, which he finds “unpleasant.”

So, the EPA Administrator addresses complaints about his policies by flying first class to escape criticism. It hasn’t even occurred to him, apparently, that perhaps he should rethink some of his policies. What a putz! Pruitt fits comfortably into the Trump Administration in every corrupt and incompetent way.

*To be fair to Pruitt, Trump probably spends that much or more every night he spends away from the White House at a Trump property.

Thoughts on Events the Week of February 5

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on February 16, 2018

The Democratic Memo: The Democrats on the completely compromised House Intelligence Committee chaired by the completely discredited Devin Nunes (R-CA, and pig in shit’s clothing), wrote their own memo to refute Nunes’ earlier, already completely discredited memo. President Trump refused to permit the release of the Democrats’ clarifying memo almost as fast as the allowed the Nunes memo to be released, which is even before he saw it.

The Democrats are now trying to get their memo released. This is a serious tactical mistake, not unlike many tactical mistakes they have made recently. With a nod to Paul McCartney, they should let it be:

1. The Nunes memo is already discredited. They don’t need to do any more to discredit it.
2. Nothing in the Democrat’s memo, no matter how factual or accurate, could dissuade Trump voters.
3. As it stands, all but Trump voters think the Nunes memo is political horseshit, and that Trump is deliberately suppressing the Democrat’s memo for fear and partisan political spite. Ken Roman said “when it goes without saying, go without saying it.” Let Republicans stew in it without comment.

The Tesla Rocket: Elon Musk shot a rocket into space via his company SpaceX. It was the first successful, really big rocket launch by a private company.

The most amazing thing about this launch is that the rocket booster rockets returned to earth and landed softly and vertically onto targeted pads. I haven’t seen anything remotely like that except in improbable science fiction movies. It was jaw dropping.

I still don’t see a successful business model in what Musk is doing with his rocket, unlike his cars, other than to launch really rich people into space for a very hefty price. (I hope he succeeds, because space travel is still risky business, and eventually a rocket will fail and take out a lot of spoiled, unworthy people.) I suppose his vision involves long range plans to extract and return minerals from extraterrestrial sources for hefty government payments.

Or, it could be just for intellectual curiosity and excitement. This guy thinks far and deep. Bravo, Mr. Lusk.

Olympic Calamity: Did you see Vice President Pence at the Olympics, staring straight ahead, stone faced and uncomfortable, with Kim Yo Jong, North Korea’s representative to the Olympics (the exact title as Pence for the U.S.) sitting right behind him. Pence made Richard Nixon look positively laid back in his own skin. What a putz.

Pence didn’t even acknowledge Kim, let alone introduce himself and shake her hand. Diplomacy Trump Administration style. South Korean President Moon Jae-In sure shook hands with Kim, another indication that the world is moving on without us.

Status of the States: Watching snatches of the Winter Olympics, I was reminded that all of the worst states stink on ice, so they may all share the cup this week.

Thoughts on Events the Week of January 29

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on February 6, 2018

A Reading by the President: I did not watch the State of the Union address. Like any other scripted speech that Trump reads from a teleprompter, he didn’t mean a word of it, so what’s the point?

And no matter what Trump said about programs, there will be no other spending programs. Why? Because there is no money left for any other programs. Republicans gave it all away already to their very rich donors and large corporations.

Trump talks about spending 1.5 trillion dollars on infrastructure, but if he were serious, he wouldn’t have cut taxes by $1.5 trillion first. It makes no sense, unless you understand that Trump’s only “program” is to enrich himself.

My boycott of the speech may have caused me to miss something special, though. I heard a snippet or two of Joe Kennedy’s response, and it was moving. Also, the red hair notwithstanding, when I looked at him, I saw Bobby, bigger than Dallas. To people my age, that is magical, the possible realization of a dream that was taken from us.

The Bump: Presidents typically experience at least a short-term bump immediately after a State of the Union Speech. Same with Trump; his approval rating increased to 40.2%.

The Memo: I don’t care a fig about this memo. It’s a load of crap, written by a discredited slime ball. What I do care about is this: the memo contained classified information given to the House Intelligence Committee, with the expectation, as with all such information, that it will be held in confidence by the Committee.

Chairman Devin Nunes’ (R-CA) exposing that information betrays and destroys the trust between the intelligence community and Nunes’ Committee, which is charged with having oversight responsibility for it. How can intelligence services – ours, or other countries’ – risk handing classified information over to his committee now?

What happens when Nunes asks for something from the FBI and they say “No?” How can oversight possibly work in this environment? How can that trust be restored. For starters, Nunes should leave the Committee, and the House, altogether. He is beneath contempt.

Super Bowl: I enjoyed this Super Bowl more than any in recent memory. Good game, some excellent performances, good broadcast coverage, and the underdog won despite a great performance by Tom Brady, about whom more below.

Part of the Eagles’ success was doubtless due to the daring of the coach, Doug Pederson. He is more of a risk taker than many others in the NFL. He called one surprising play with fourth and goal at the two rather than take the field goal, which resulted in a touchdown.

The announcers called it astounding, because conventional wisdom is to take the three points, and most coaches would do that, particularly in a high profile game. But if he had taken the field goal and made it, Philly would have been up by six points. A Patriot touchdown would have given them the lead. This way, Philly had a two score lead of 22-12 at the half. Besides, Peterson had a well thought out, unusual but relatively safe play ready for this situation.

Many statisticians have demonstrated that pro coaches tend to play more conservatively than the probabilities suggest they should. One reason could be that NFL teams are so scrutinized by the press that if a coach takes a risk and it goes wrong, he will be second guessed by the press – in this case the Philly press – and his fans – in this case the Philly fans, the ones who booed Santa Claus – mercilessly. It’s safer to do the expected, but not necessarily smarter.

The game provided evidence supporting my position that instant replay doesn’t improve the game but only disrupts the rhythm of it. The review staff had two close sideline boundary calls on touchdown plays. They got one right and blew the other one completely, to the point Chris Collingsworth said about the call and the rule, “I give up!”

If the review booth can’t do better than 50/50 (basically the same as a coin flip), what’s the point? Leave the calls in the hands of the officials. They’re average will be better than that. (BTW, the bad call could have affected the outcome of the game. It gave the Eagles a touchdown they didn’t earn.)

Back to Brady: I read the morning of the game an article with the headline, “Why does everybody hate Tom Brady?” I don’t hate Brady. I admire and respect him. He’s arguably the best quarterback who ever played the game. I don’t think others hate him either. They may think they do, but what they really are feeling is envy and frustration because he wins so much. He keeps other teams out of the Super Bowl, no matter how hard they try, and there is something about us that cheers the underdog, the more so when the favorite has been the favorite for a long time. In my opinion, a true champion is one who wins consistently over time, not a one time winner.

Besides, too many fans base an unhealthy amount of their perceived self-worth on their city’s team. (That’s why, believe it or not, domestic abuse 911 calls spike in a city when its team loses.) I’ll bet any of the “haters,” given the opportunity, would welcome Brady to their team in a heartbeat.

The commercials were better, overall, than in recent memory, too, though there were a couple of real clunkers. Tide spent a ton of money, but used it creatively. The Australia Tourist Bureau commercial was terrific. The NFL made a terrific one for itself, using Ely Manning and Odell Beckham, Jr. in a “Dirty Dancing” spoof post-touchdown celebration dance routine. Every football fan would have found it hilarious.

The Sprint commercial, with AI robots mocking their creator for still using Verizon was excellent, with a good payoff at the end. I’m sure Millennials loved that one.

It was notable that a lot of the commercials were based on themes of inclusiveness, tolerance and respect for one another. Perhaps advertisers sense that consumers feel unsettled by the messages of the Trump administration and will respond positively to some counterpoint.

I didn’t watch the halftime show after learning that Janet Jackson wouldn’t be appearing with him this time. Without Jackson’s bare boobs, Timberlake isn’t that big a draw for me. I’m sure the show was entertaining, but I read there were some sound mix issues.

Status of the States: I’m as happy as a Munchkin relieved of a wicked witch. I give all the worst states a pass this week.

 

First Lady Melania Trump

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on February 3, 2018

There was a piece in last Sunday’s New York Times about Mrs. Melania Trump, praising her quiet radicalism. It was written by a woman who has studied First Ladies and knows a lot about them. I think this particular piece, however is off the mark. Here’s my take:

Mrs. Trump loathes and despises her husband even more than I do, because I don’t have to sleep with him. She married him for money, escape or both, and now she is waiting, more or less impatiently, for him to die. Since his candidacy and presidency have driven them both into the public eye, where Trump’s flaws are humiliatingly visible for everyone to see, and she must obscure her dislike for him publicly as best she can, I suspect her impatience is growing. (Have another cheeseburger and more fries, Donald.)

I infer that their prenuptial agreement excuses infidelities – at least his – or she would have been out of there long ago, and certainly immediately after Trump’s affair with porn star Stormy Daniels hit the tabloids, this story being the first of which I am aware that mentions their then infant son Barron. Mrs. Trump is very protective of him. She can’t have liked that at all.

Barring that “prenup,” she would otherwise be in the Trump Tower apartment changing the locks and the nameplate on the door, and our president would be in the White House, where he should be, or at one of his golf clubs, running up our travel expense account.

Thoughts on Events the Week of January 22

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on January 30, 2018

Davos: It has been reported that President Trump attended World Economic Forum. This is an exaggeration. He was there, but as a surrogate, reading a speech written by someone else, and of which he didn’t believe a word. He knew his base wouldn’t be paying attention, or for that matter couldn’t find Davos on a map.

Other weekly news: There has been a depressing, demoralizing sameness to the news for quite a while now. Malfeasance, misfeasance, corruption and mendacity on display every day. Any one of my Sunday blogs could be copied, pasted and reprinted without my thinking, or your reading, anything really new from me.

Our participation in world events has been fitful when it hasn’t been downright counterproductive. The world has cast its eyes down in disappointment and embarrassment for us, and is moving on. Its judgment in our judgement has been lost after watching us elect President Bush and Trump and seeing how we opposed and obstructed President Obama.

Domestically, our own institutions are under stress. The Executive Branch has shed world worthy professional talent like dandruff and filled cabinet positions with high functioning morons unqualified and/or downright hostile to the functioning of their own departments. Rick Perry. Really? Beverly De Voss. Really? Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions? You have got to be kidding!

The Executive staff is comprised of as many military generals as a third world junta. Our president is clearly a self-aggrandizing wannabe authoritarian dictator.

Our Legislative Branch ceased functioning in 2003, if not before, and there are fewer backbones in both chambers combined than in a water droplet of amoebae. Rather than perform its functions, it hesitates, stalls, avoids and even abets the overreaching, nefarious and even criminal actions of the Executive.

Legislators are so venal and so addicted to mana from rich plutocrats and large corporations that they bend to their greedy whims until our laws are tilted to funnel all the money to the donors, in hopes the donors will return enough shekels to the addicts to get re-elected. As if the very rich aren’t very rich enough, the legislators and Trump just gave another $1.4 Trillion dollars to them, which we and future citizens will have to pay for. No wonder the stock market is soaring, while economic growth and wages are still on the steady upward slope Obama worked for eight years to create.

The House is run by a malevolent numbskull who despises the people he represents and wants only to punish rather than serve them. The Senate is run by a faux institutionalist who has as much respect for the rules of his chamber as the president does for the Executive.

The Judicial Branch is being repurposed to consider the issues of the 19th Century.

Religious leaders have shed every fiber of principles for which they are supposed to stand. They have renounced moral leadership for I don’t know what, and may the Devil turn on them.

The Fourth Estate, awaking from a slumber of fecklessness, is trying to do its job well for a change, but it is struggling against constant attack on its very charter.

Now for the good news…wait, there isn’t any, with the possible exception of Meghan Markle.

Status of the States: Kansas gets the cup this week, with an assist from the Trump Administration. You remember Kansas Governor Sam Brownback? The worst and least popular governor in the union, and evangelical religious wingnut.

Brownback sold gullible, irrationally conservative Kansans the Kool-Aid that lowering taxes drastically would stimulate amazing economic growth, and promised to make Kansas the “Red State Model” for this theory of voodoo economics.

He slashed taxes to the bone, with the predictable result that the state’s revenues plummeted, deficits soared and the state was in the economic toilet. Kansans, naturally, elected him to a second term.

Finally, things got so bad that even Kansans had enough. The legislator restored the taxes, Brownback vetoed the bill, and the legislator overrode his veto. The ignominious end to the red state model’s utter failure.

Brownback will resign before the end of his term, on January 31, because he was named Ambassador-at-Large for the Office of International Religious Freedom by the Trump Administration, effective January 24. It was a close call. The Senate vote was 49-49, with Vice President Mike Pence, an equally wacko religious wingnut, casting the tying vote. A real vote of confidence for Brownback.

You are doubtless wondering, “What does the Office of International Religious Freedom do?” “Is this even a thing?” It was created by another religious wing nut, President George W. Bush in 1995. It’s part of the State Department. So, while we have many vacant ambassadorships to major foreign countries, we do have Ambassador-at-Large Brownback. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson must be so proud.

The ORIF webpage says its mission is “promoting religious freedom as a core objective of U.S. foreign policy.” Is that really a core objective of our foreign policy? Is this office even Constitutional? It seems like a conservative attempt to nudge church and state together, which the Constitution forbids.

But, if we are going to have such an office, Brownback is the guy to run it. He is a religious extremist, and he is very likely to run it into the ground.

 

 

Thoughts on Events the Week of January 15

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on January 22, 2018

Have we hit bottom yet?: Last week will surely go down as one of our low points in governance.

The Budget AND Immigration?: Our  Republican-controlled  (keep that in mind) Congress, which has been dysfunctional, incompetent, impotent and cowardly for a decade or more, decided to take on two major issues at once and very quickly. (Apparently they are becoming like Trump, to whom everything is easy, if you don’t waste time giving it any thought.) It was bound to end badly, and it did…with a government shutdown.

Immediately, and I mean within minutes after the failed vote, both parties began blaming the other and calling each other names, not perhaps the best way to improve comity for a restart.

Democrats and Republicans, even in this febrile, partisan pressure cooker, tried more or less in good faith to negotiate an agreement. After all, President Trump said bring him an agreement and he’d sign it, whatever it is. But when Republican and Democratic Senators did so last Tuesday, he rejected it, throwing things into chaos, hardening already bitter feelings, and destroying all trust.

There are presently three “parties” in America: Republicans, Democrats and Trump’s base, basically rabid right flank Republicans. Trump will always align with this base (keep that in mind). They were largely responsible for getting him elected, and he loves their adoration – which means our government is run by a minority of far right reactionaries who are more angry and irrational than educated or informed.

It is reported that Trump rejected the negotiated agreement over the DACA clause because his base hates immigrants of any color except perhaps white.

I may be the greater fool here, but I am not so sure that, as is claimed, politicians have no incentive to compromise with their opposite party. True, the parties are dug in, but by now, voters of both have got to be sick and tired of the gridlock. If politicians would move on ideas that are very popular with voters of both parties, such as DACA and Chip, instead of holding them hostage to ideas that are anathema to the other side, I think voters would think better of them.

I am truly offended when I hear the so called Dreamers smeared as illegal immigrants by Republican leaders. They are no such thing. They are undocumented, but they are not illegal.

Dreamers did not sneak into the country. They came as young, innocent children, holding the hand of their parents or relatives when they crossed the border, just as they would if they were being helped crossing a street, trusting and obeying their adults.

The Dreamers have now lived here for years and have grown up to be productive, tax paying citizens. What more do they have to do to be recognized and accepted by Trump’s hyper-xenophobic base?

Parting Partisan Shot: unless and until they get DACA and Chip agreements, the Democrats would be out of their minds to agree to a continuing resolution lasting beyond the State of the Union Address. Let the shutdown hang around the neck of the President when he gives his speech.

The President and the Stripper: It’s not exactly Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe in The Prince and the Showgirl, but apparently Trump hooked up with a woman who strips by the name of Stormy Daniels, and paid her $130,000 just before his election to reverse roles and keep her mouth shut.

To be clear, I don’t care who Trump is fooling around with. It’s his business and none of my own…unless it affects his job performance. (I will forever retain the image of President Clinton getting a blow job from Miss Lewinski while working the phones with Congresspersons. That’s compartmentalization!)

Now, if Miss Daniels were a Russian operative and Trump’s dalliance with her was being used to influence his behavior on the job (read blackmail him), that would be another thing entirely.

Football: The Patriots v Jaguars game was well worth watching. New England gave another spectacular come from behind performance to win it in the last quarter. I define true champions as those who win over time, not just now and then, or just once. New England is the Archetype of this, as Dallas used to be. My hat is off to them.

The Eagles v Vikings game went about as I expected, though oddly far differently than the odds makers expected when they made Philadelphia a 2 ½ point dog, AT HOME. What were they thinking? It was only by one highly improbable, miracle play that the Vikings were there at all. The Eagles were the better team. What’s more, both teams were playing with their backup quarterback, and Philadelphia’s is much better than Minnesota’s.

More important, my beloved Oklahoma Sooners signed TWO Five Star football recruits for next season, one a defensive end – existential in a passing conference -, and the other an offensive lineman big enough to play two positions at once.

Status of the States: I’ve been too sick with a bad cold this week to follow state level shenanigans. No winner declared.

Thoughts on Events the Week of January 8

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on January 19, 2018

The President of the United States: is a racist bigot. You know it. I know it. Everybody knows it. The “Shithole countries” slur is only further evidence, as if any were needed.

Many, perhaps most, of Trump’s base thinks like Trump does. We may infer this, because Republican lawmakers are silent as the grave about Trump’s racist, xenophobic outburst. Not one has called him out. Two Republican Senators in the room at the time deny it was ever said, which requires lying through their teeth. Republican politicians know Trump’s voters, and they are terrified of standing up to Trump for fear of offending Trump’s base.

(Note: a very good friend and fellow blogger, The Wizard, writes that racism had little to do with motivating Trump’s base, but the evidence is piling up against this position.)

Trump got one thing right, at least partially. Some of the countries to which he alluded are unfortunate states, indeed. Some we might call “failed states.” They are ravaged by drought, storms, corruption and other misfortunes and failures. Presumably, that’s the reason people want to leave them.

But Trump wasn’t talking about the countries, was he? No, he was talking about the human beings who live in them and want to leave them for a chance at a better life.

Perhaps I am the greater fool here. I have read the documents, both official and spiritual, which are the cornerstones of our country’s laws. They espouse freedom and liberty and equality, and condemn discrimination, and I have believed in them. I have studied the history and economics of immigration and concluded to my own satisfaction that our country is a net beneficiary of in-migration to a very great degree. Immigration is, in large measure, what makes us great.

I am ashamed that our president speaks for our country. I am embarrassed that he speaks to and for so many of us. But he does not speak for me.

North and South Korea: While Trump was insulting one and criticizing the other, the two Koreas got together to discuss the upcoming Winter Olympics. North Korea committed to attending the games, and the two countries will march in together during the opening ceremony. I predict they will get a loud, welcoming reception.

More important, the Koreas agreed that after the Olympics they might get together to discuss more parochial political issues. Update: North Korea announced that it will send a “performance group” to the games, presumably to sing and/or dance during the festivities.

I wish each Korea’s team good luck. I dislike seeing the Olympics used as a political tool. It is counterproductive and unfair to the athletes. Ask Jimmy Carter. The Olympics is an opportunity to rise above politics and express our global good will and citizenship.

This is another example, a significant one, of the consequences of Trump’s America First policy. The world seems to have decided that during Trump’s presidency, America is as useless as tits a boar hog and are moving on without us, more in sadness and disappointment than anger, but with animus toward our president.

In this specific instance, the two countries moving on together without us are one of our greatest adversaries and one of our closest allies. This should give thinking people pause. We may discover one day that humanity’s parade has passed us and we are standing on the curb alone, waving a tattered and forgotten flag.

Humans in Hawai’i: In a related story, residents and tourists in the Aloha State got a warning that a nuclear missile had been launched at them from North Korea. Turned out to be a false alarm, but not before causing a considerable amount of angst, not to mentions pants peeing. It was human error.

As long as human beings are involved, there will be human error at some point. It’s impractical to remove all the humans humanely, which is another excellent reason to remove the missiles.

The President and the Hooker: I’m skeptical about the story that Trump paid a woman $130,000 to keep her quiet about their tryst. I’m not skeptical about the hooker, just the money. Trump is famous for skipping out on his debts. (I wonder what Melania thinks about all this. BTW, my spell checker still doesn’t recognize “Melania” as a word. What’s up with that?)

Football: Though my Dallas Cowboys are no longer in the hunt (participation is reserved for the better teams), the NFL playoffs are well worth watching. The format narrows the field progressively to the best teams, and unlike the regular season, each game is always “win or go home.” The teams all play with serious purpose, and it produces some excellent games, not to mention some really good commercials and perhaps a (brief but unmistakable) look at Janet Jackson’s bare tit at the end.

(Did I just use the word “tit” twice in the same blog?)

Status of the States: Another friend writes that Iowa should be added to the worst states, because Iowa’s Republican Senator Chuck Grassley teamed with Lindsay Graham to ask the DOJ to investigate the author of the infamous “dossier,” which won SC the cup last week. Below is my response to why this can’t be:

“I didn’t include Senator Grassley – who, I agree with you is a sorry excuse for a politician – he was on the judiciary committee that smeared Anita Hill for Clarence Thomas, after all – because Iowa doesn’t qualify as a “Worst State.” Iowa is far from a good state, but it does take its responsibility in presidential primary elections seriously, even though it is not demographically qualified.

The worst states are limited to the bottom 10% (ish): Alabama, Arizona, Kansas, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas. On rare occasions, one worst state is replaced by a newly worse one. Mississippi was eliminated and replaced by Alabama. I ponder on occasion replacing South Carolina with its northern namesake.”

 

Thoughts on Events the Week of January 1, 2018

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on January 7, 2018

Auld Lang Syne: We must infer that President Trump made no New Year’s resolutions, because, with one change worth mentioning, he began the New Year just like he ended the previous one. In fact, it seemed more like Ground Hog’s Day than New Year’s Day.

Day one began with vulgar tweets, gratuitous insults, obvious lies, foreign policy malfeasance, shiny object distractions about Hillary Clinton and, of course, another childish dick measuring contest with North Korea.

Meanwhile, South Korea called North Korea and said let’s talk. Trump bragged that his tough talk is what provoked this call (note: from our ally to our adversary and not the other way around), and in a way this is true. Both sides have now concluded that Trump is worthless, if not dangerous, and have decided to move on without us. The results could end up being an unpleasant surprise.

The new wrinkle regards Pakistan, and to my utter amazement, I agree with Trump’s cutting off aid to Pakistan, because they are double dealing with us over Afghanistan.

To remind everyone: we don’t give foreign aid to countries in the Middle East. We make foreign purchases. We pay them for things:  fly-over access, land for bases, etc. But we do not get our money’s worth in Pakistan and never have. We should cut them off.

Basically, Pakistan is just another pile of rocks beside the pile of rocks that is Afghanistan, only with nukes. You can’t really tell where one ends and the other begins. In this, Pakistan is like North Korea; a nuclear-armed wasteland, otherwise unworthy of attention. We have lived with Pakistan for a long time. We will do the same with North Korea…unless it unites with South Korea and allies with China.

Perhaps one day, Trump will realize that the waste of money on Pakistan is true for the entire region, and the less we are involved, financially and militarily, the better.

The foreign policy malfeasance occurred when Trump piled on Iran’s government, siding with the protesters there. If ever there was a time to lie low, say nothing and let the situation play out, this was it. Trump’s interference only gives the mullahs the excuse to blame “outside influences,” for the protests and crack down on them. In fact, Trump’s involvement gives the mullahs more than an excuse of outside influences. It gives them the fact of it. What a fool our president be.

Football: My New Year’s Day was a dud, because my beloved Oklahoma Sooners lost its Championship Playoff game against Georgia 54 to 48.

Oklahoma dominated the first half. The Bulldogs made adjustments at half time, in tactics or spirit or both, and took over the game. They dominated Oklahoma in the third quarter, tied it in the fourth and beat us in two overtimes.

It was a painful loss, but an exciting game. I am absolutely confident that the four best teams made it to the Playoffs this year. The country thinks so too. There was almost no bitching about the choices. More indicative: TV ratings were up 26% over last year for the two playoff games.

My final take: When a team scores 48 points against a running team, it should win the goddamn football game. OU led the game in every offensive category. But the defense gave up touchdowns on runs of 75, 50, 38 and 27 yards, among others. This is unacceptable defense. It has been unacceptable all year, and it cost us in the end. Changes must be made.

The NFL’s regular season ended this week. As usual, a number of coaches were fired and are available, almost all of whom are better than the current Cowboy’s coach. I’m just sayin’. If Bill Belichick walks away from the Patriots, he will be able to write his own ticket anywhere, but he is way too smart ever to agree to work for Jerry Jones.

Status of the States: South Carolina wins the cup this week, due, as it often is, to the antics of their erratic but always hawkish Senator Lindsay Graham (R). He, along with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), a downright sleazy one, collaborated on a smarmy scheme to create a distraction for Trump, by asking the DOJ to investigate the British former spy who prepared the dossier involved in the Trump-Russia collusion investigation; a classic case of smearing the messenger to divert attention from the message.

Thoughts on Events the Week of December 18

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on December 30, 2017

Tax Overhaul Bill Becomes Law: The Republican-controlled Congress and White House passed their tax overhaul bill, and deemed it the biggest “win” since, well, ever, according to the president. Republican Congresspersons then rushed to kiss the president’s ass and gushed to tell him that he is the greatest leader since Alexander the Great, only greater.

Republicans, reporters and pundits have used the word “win” incessantly in the run up to the passing of this bill. It seems a word out of joint with the circumstances. It implies that governance is a zero sum game. Governance isn’t a game at all, and if there is a prize, it is not to notch a win, but to do something to help citizens. I prefer a word such as achievement.

And, the bill begs the question is it really a win even as Republicans define one? The bill is significantly upside down in popularity. Almost 85% of the tax break benefits go to large corporations and those already way too rich. The bill also damages Obamacare, the repeal of which the public viciously rejected earlier this year. People are going to figure this out.

In my view, this worst thing about this bill I have not heard discussed. It involves the Republican lie that American corporations are the highest taxed in the world, which is utter nonsense. There are so many loopholes written into our tax laws for special interest groups that not even a corporation run by a moron would pay the posted tax rate of 35%. In practice, our rates are competitive.

Well, now our posted rate has been lowered to 21%, an extremely hefty tax savings. But, there is nothing in the legislation I can find that eliminates any of those loopholes that rendered the 35% rate a joke, only more depreciation benefits. With the rate lowered and the loopholes remaining, again, not even a corporation run by a moron will pay the 21%.

Until almost the last minute, I was confident this bill would not pass, first because it is so bad, and second because six Republican Senators said they were opposed to it. Every one of them caved and voted Yes. Let’s consider a few of them.

We’ll begin with Bob Corker (R-TN) who opposes Trump and Trumpism. Trump’s base turned on him so strongly that Corker announced that he would not seek another term. He also said that he would vote No on any tax overhaul bill that added a single dollar to the deficit. (Trump’s will add at least $1.4 billion of them.)

But Republicans added a bribe clause that gives Corker a big tax break on his real estate investments (it helps Trump in the same way), and Corker voted Yes on the bill. So much for fiscal conservative principles.

Then there is the aptly named Jeff Flake (R-AZ). Very similar story for Flake: opposed Trump, attacked by the base, will not run again. He owes Trump less than nothing. Called the tax overhaul bill all kinds of names and then voted Yes on it.

The other Arizona Senator, the senile senior one – John McCain – voted No on the repeal vote, but said he would vote Yes on the tax bill, even though it damages Obamacare. In the event, he missed the vote, because he was home being treated for his brain cancer and/or to die.

Marco Rubio (R-FL) blustered he wouldn’t vote for this bill, then used a couple of meaningless amendments as an excuse to vote Yes. He’s still not ready for his big boy pants.

Finally, let’s not forget Susan Collins (R-ME), who voted No on repeal and vowed to vote No on the tax bill. In the end, she voted Yes, because, she said, she was given assurances some healthcare improvements would be added. When they weren’t added, she still voted Yes, but claimed she was betrayed. Sorry, Susan, but it’s too late to be courageous or principled now.

All of these Senators were for sale, and at a discount, on a tax bill that rewards the already rich, damages healthcare, runs up the deficit and generally screws everybody else. Shame on all of them.

Football: I did not watch the Cowboys’ loss to the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, but it must have been a dismal showing. The Cowboys lost 12 to 21, and have missed the playoffs, again. Teams that score only 12 points or fewer lose a depressingly high percentage of such games. Tom Landry told his defenses that if they held the opponent to 17 points, they would win the game, and he was right.

The Cowboys have gone as far as they can go with this coaching staff. They will go no farther until they change it.

Status of the States: Arizona gets the cup this week, because uniquely among red states, both senators said they would vote No on the tax bill and then caved.

 

Thoughts on Events the Week of December 4

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on December 14, 2017

Inappropriate Sexual Behavior: In perhaps record time, Congress has shifted from the sublime to the ridiculous, from abhorring the possible election of a sexual pervert, to rejecting anyone who has so much as kissed a girl, but Republicans still supporting the pervert. What hypocrisy.

In my view, Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), a usually sober and industrious Senator, made a fool of herself when she said we must draw a line, and any behavior on the other side of it must be treated equally. I’m sorry, Senator Gillibrand, but that’s a long way from justice. Just for starters, putting moves on a grown woman and putting moves on a 14 year old girl are not the same thing.

Things are in a confusing state of flux on this issue, obviously, but we already know that Congress is utterly incapable of judging its own members. It’s all political calculations with them. Perhaps we should just leave justice to the voters of individual states (state’s rights advocates should love this), and the law.

So, if Alabama votes Roy Moore into the Senate, they get the senator they want, and therefore deserve. Likewise, if the voters of the good state of Minnesota think Senator Franken has crossed a line rendering him unworthy of being their senator, they can recall him or vote him out at the next regular election, and not let his fate be decided by New York Senator Gillibrand.

Sudden thought: Perhaps overwrought sexual frenzy is moving us closer to a Parliamentary form of government without our noticing (Britain loves a good political sex scandal as much as we do). I suspect President Trump would be thrown out of office in a heartbeat today if it were possible.

Jobs and Tax Overhaul: The government reported that 228,000 jobs were created in November, more than economists expected. The unemployment rate remains at 4.1%, meaning that people are returning to the workforce and finding jobs. Wages increased 2.8% over the last year, which is not great yet, but it is not stagnant either. It is enough that the Federal Reserve is signaling that it plans to raise interest rates over at least the next two meetings.

So, why? Why do we need, or why would we even want, a tax cut now? How many jobs could it possibly create? What could it stimulate except inflation? What’s the point of risking higher inflation when the Fed has already signaled it will take action to force it down? The tax cut and the Fed will be working at cross purposes.

The answer to these questions, of course, it that the bill being debated in Congress at present isn’t a tax cut bill at all. It is a scam to pay off rich donors, or bribe to recruit more, regardless of what damage it does to our economy and our citizens. This bill should be dropped like a hot potato right now.

Football: Technically, this happened the last day of the week before, but the four college football teams were selected and my beloved Oklahoma Sooners were one of them. In fact, OU rose to #2 in the national rankings. The final four are: Clemson, Oklahoma, Georgia and Alabama, in that order.

Based on the final week of play (Army-Navy doesn’t really count), I expected Ohio State to be the fourth team in, given that they beat an undefeated Wisconsin team and thereby won the Big Ten Championship. They the committee felt that Alabama, despite not even making the SEC Championship game, was judgmentally the better team.

There will always be some level of disagreement with the final four playoff list. If we have four teams, the fifth will be disappointed. If we had eight teams, it will be the ninth, and so on and so on.

That’s one nice thing, among many, about the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Lots of teams get to play for it, and no one can complain about the winner being the champion. As a practical matter, I’m confident that after the football playoffs end, no one will complain that the winner is the national champion either. And, it could be Oklahoma. Boomer Sooner!

Baker Mayfield: The OU quarterback has earned his own bold type heading, having won the Player of the Year Award, The Maxwell Award, the Davey O’Brien Award, the Walter Camp Award and the Heisman Trophy. I’m beginning to think there may be a conspiracy to load Baker down with so much hardware that he gets a hernia and has to miss the game. But he can handle it.

Since there was only one game of importance to me this weekend – The Dallas Cowboys beat the New York Giants 30-10 – I had more time to think about it. Here are my takeaways:

Skip Bayless is absolutely right that Sean Lee is the heart and the glue of the Dallas Defense. He was back after missing four games with an injury, and you never saw someone so happy to be back on the field or a defense to have him back. He was on the Giants like a duck on a June bug. He made tackles, broke up passes and had an interception.

Dallas’ next game is against Oakland Sunday night, which will also be the last game of Zeke Elliot’s suspension. The Cowboys should have an appreciation ceremony at midfield for Alfred Morris for filling in admirably in Elliot’s absence. Morris, certainly no slouch of a running back himself, held the position together. Without him, things could have been a lot uglier.

Dak Prescott threw for 332 yards and three touchdowns, which shows you can still perform (and learn) during a sophomore slump. In fact, I submit that quarterbacks learn a lot their second year. They have a year of experience, so they see things from a more informed perspective. They learn more from their mistakes because they are in a position to analyze them more intelligently. I predict Dak, who already does so much so well, will have an extraordinary year three.

One thing Dak seemed to figure out in the fourth quarter against New York is, when the game is on the line, put the ball in the hands of your play makers. Dak got game winning, back breaking plays from Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley and Jason Witten. They were all heavily defended all game, but Dak kept giving them throws and each player eventually paid off for him, as such players do.

Finally, it must be credited to the coaching staff that their radical, risky decision turn over the entire defensive backfield is beginning to pay off handsomely. These new kids on the back are talented, aggressive and learning fast. We should accept that we may see a sophomore slump from some of them next year, but before too long, they are going to be as formidable as our offensive line, and as our defensive line is beginning to be. How ‘bout them Cowboys?!

Status of the States: Alabama, because, well, if you don’t know, I won’t be able to explain it to you.