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Thoughts on events the week of August 12

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on August 22, 2019

I’m running about a week behind, because I was in hospital.

Israel: I was astonished when President Trump urged Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to deny entry to Israel to two United States Congresspersons – Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) – which Netanyahu did immediately, like the lap dog he is. I would never have conceived of such a thing happening, would you? It brings into sharp relief Trump’s prejudice toward Muslims and utter disregard for the United States House of Representatives.

To be clear, I can understand why Netanyahu might deny Tlaib and Omar entry into Israel on his own. The two Muslim women are sympathetic, as am I, to the plight of Muslims who are living under occupation in Israel. Still, that an American president would urge such a thing about American legislators to a foreign leader is incomprehensible.

I wouldn’t have done what Netanyahu did. It hasn’t gone down well with other U.S. Congresspersons, and Israel must deal with the U.S. House. It was a craven, stupid move. Can you imagine what Nancy Pelosi is going to say when Israel next comes looking for some help with something?

For the record, again, there was once no greater admirer of Israel than I, but those days are long gone. Israel is now high on the list of reprehensible governments in my view.

Trump’s re-election strategy: Pundits are saying Trump is basing his re-election strategy on a strong economy, and that is why he is worried. I doubt it. Trump’s re-election strategy is resentments, not the economy. He is playing to his base’s xenophobia, religious prejudice and bigotry. Economically, Trump’s base is already being screwed like a tied goat and they are still with him. Trump just wants to keep them juiced up about blacks, immigrants and Muslims.

Greenland: President Trump announces he is interested in “buying Greenland” from Denmark. A bemused Denmark says Greenland is not for sale. Trump pouts and cancels a state visit to Denmark in a fit of pique.

Can you even believe this is a news story? The world turns on international diplomacy. Our president plays Monopoly, though not very well. Trump is utterly unhinged or the biggest doofus on the planet, or both.

“A lot of people say:” Trump uses this juvenile rhetorical gambit to try to give credibility to something he says that has none. Whenever he says this, you know that what follows is probably completely made up. Since most of what Trump says is untrue or completely made up, he uses this gambit all the time.

What does “a lot of people say” mean, anyway? How many are “a lot?” Five? A dozen? A million? And, what people? Technical experts? Random civilians off the street? Partisan hacks? Sycophants? Imaginary? When you hear the words “a lot of people say,” you are about to be conned.

Football: Few organizations are as image conscience as the NFL, and in recent years, the league has been getting bad press over concussions to players. The NFL has taken steps to address the issue, including rule changes to eliminate dangerous hits and better helmets to cushion the blows. After research and testing, the league certified about a dozen advanced helmet designs as safe and requires all players to wear one of the approved models.

As of this writing, there are about 2,300 players on NFL rosters, and all but one player is conforming to this requirement. The holdout is Antonio Brown, diva receiver for the Oakland Raiders. (Why is it that all the divas in professional football are receivers? The Raiders got a talented, bad penny.)

Brown is a jackass. He got away with it when he was in Pittsburgh, but he won’t even have a chance to get away with it in Oakland, because the league won’t let him, even if the Raiders would. The league is not going to risk its reputation over this guy. It isn’t going to happen. Frankly, I don’t think the Raiders are going to put up with this from Brown much longer either.

Status of the States: No worst state cup this week. As is becoming more and more frequent, what is going on in Washington trumps anything some odious piss ant state can think up.

Thoughts on Events the Week of August 5

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on August 13, 2019

A Fool’s Errand: After horrific shootings in Dayton and El Paso within 13 hours of one another, at least one of which was committed by a white, xenophobic bigot, Democratic politicians are demanding that President Trump repudiate his own hate speech and accept some responsibility of the uptick in violence against immigrants and innocents, incited by his words.

What a waste of time and breath. Trump is never going to take responsibility for anything. It’s simply not within him. Moreover, he clearly believes the bigotry he spews, and that it plays well with the most bigoted voters among his base. It remains for us to continually remind ourselves and everyone else between now and the next election what a racist pig our president is, because he’s never going to admit it himself.

Trump in his own words: When President Trump is reading from a teleprompter, we learn what some members of his communications staff are thinking. When Trump tweets and speaks at rallies, we learn what he is thinking. The two are worlds apart. Trump doesn’t enjoy speaking from a teleprompter, but he doesn’t really mind it either, because he knows his base knows he doesn’t mean a word of it.

Jeffery Epstein: was found dead in his prison cell. Let the conspiracy theories and cover-ups and finger pointing begin.

NFL Pre-season Football: Early in the NFL the pre-season, we see more players unlikely to make a roster than starters. I watch only the first two series of the first two pre-season games, because that’s when whatever skill position starters are going to play, do. Here’s what I saw this weekend.

Kyler Murray, the first pick in the draft and now starting quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals, looked good. The Arizona Cardinals team looked terrible. It is a poorly managed franchise. Murray will win a few games for the Cardinals, if he can stay healthy. His offensive line couldn’t protect him from a defense of septuagenarians on crutches. Murray will be living out of the pocket, but that’s where he does some of his best work.

Daniel Jones, the rookie draft choice quarterback of the New York Giants from Duke looked good. He seemed like a reach where he was taken, but maybe not.

Baker Mayfield ignites his team. The Cleveland Browns opened with a no huddle, two-minute drill offense and ran through the Washington Redskins like a hot knife (for that is what Mayfield is) through butter.

Some were off put by this, because teams typically use basic offense and defense during the early pre-season games. But Cleveland’s coach announced to everyone, including the Redskins, that he was going to open that way, so they were forewarned. After the touchdown pass to end the series, Mayfield ran to the endzone to take an imaginary photo of his receiver, to let the receiver share in the applause, but it was Mayfield’s pass that made the play. This is how Mayfield motivates and elevates the play of his teammates. He is a natural leader.

The Dallas Cowboys treated their preseason game with San Francisco differently than most teams. Dallas kept many of its starters on the field for at least two series or more. Most other teams limited their starters to one series, and some teams didn’t use any starters at all.

The Cowboys starters looked pretty good, but the reserves not so much. The 49ers team was terrible, committing north of 15 penalties by the time I turned the game off, but the Cowboys looked even worse. I think San Francisco won the game, though I didn’t watch the whole thing.

I don’t have a problem with teams’ holding starters out of preseason games. The last thing an NFL team wants is to lose a starter to injury in a preseason game or in practice.

What I do have a problem with is teams’ charging regular season ticket prices for those games. Even worse, some teams, including the Cowboys, require regular season ticket holders to buy the preseason package or they can’t have the regular season tickets. Jerry Jones would call that “bidness;” I call it extortion.

Most teams used the games this weekend in the usual fashion (limited or no action for starters) with the usual, meaningless results. There were many, many penalties, including one on almost every kick-off returns. It seemed like there was an illegal block in the back on every kicking play.

If I were an NFL coach, I would direct my team never to run a kick-off return out of the end zone, and if the ball is kicked short, to the 10-yard line or shorter, to field it with a fair catch. What value is a kick-off return that usually results in a penalty of half the distance to the goal line?

Status of the States: The worst state cup goes to Texas this week, thanks to Senator John Cornyn, who stood by President Trump’s bigotry word for word. You could see by the look on Cornyn’s face that he was lying, knew he was lying and did it anyway, to appease Trump. Cornyn will face an opponent in the 2020 election. I guess he is trying to hold the Trump base with this kind of position. It may work in Texas one more election cycle, but maybe not, and certainly not thereafter.

Thoughts Events the Week of July 29

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on August 6, 2019

Dirty Dancing: There are two pieces of odious government business going on, in which both parties are complicit. The first, and the worst, of course, is gerrymandering. It is the worst because it deprives citizens of their right to vote, arguably the most sacred right in our governmental system. President Trump tells his base daily that it is OK to screw citizens out of their rights because they are not the right color.

The second malfeasance is budget setting, and what Congress is doing here is almost as bad. Congress voted and the president approved an obscene budget, if for no other reason than it spends a trillion dollars more than we will take in. Even worse, it pisses away more than $700 Billion in military spending, of which barely a fraction is needed, and which money is needed desperately elsewhere. So, the issue is not only how much we are spending, but also on what we spend it.

I’ve been accused of being the most liberal man in Arizona, and that may very well be true. I am proud of being a serious liberal, but I am not a “knee-jerk liberal,” by which I mean a liberal who has never taken an economics course. Neither party seems to care about deficits anymore, but this astronomical debt is a serious drag on our economy. We should be retiring some of that debt, not adding to it.

Americans have infinite wants from government; we just don’t want to pay for them. I can understand why workers whose wages have been stagnant for a couple of decades would not want to pay more taxes. The rich, on the other hand, have no excuse not to pay a hell of a lot more taxes, and should. Congress is protecting their wealth and shame on them all.

Howling at the Moon: Everyone seems all steamed up about going back to the Moon. Been there, done that, got the tee shirt. I can think of few more wasteful uses of taxpayer dollars at present, given our needs back here on Earth.

The only reason for going to the Moon, or perhaps another planet in our Solar System is to extract minerals. Mining companies want this, for obvious reasons. They just want us to pay for it. Maybe later, but not now, and certainly not for this current lot of polluting criminals.

We are never going to move beyond our solar system at the most optimistic, because we cannot travel faster than the speed of light. Solve that little impediment and we can talk. In the meantime (read forever), let’s focus on the preserving the planet we have.

Moscow Mitch: I love it. The Senate Majority Leader, Moscow Mitch McConnell, has been tagged with a clever, applicable and well-deserved nick name and he is unhappy about it. Tough noogies. Moscow Mitch is fine with the far less clever, gratuitous pejorative nick names President Trump uses to smear his adversaries, but when the shoe is on the other foot, Moscow Mitch squeaks. That’s what he gets for abetting Russia’s efforts to subvert our elections by holding up legislation to address this assault on us. Grin and bear it, Moscow Mitch, you thin skinned prick.

The Fed: Trump did some serious damage to another important institution this week. He seemed to have cajoled the Fed into lowering their prime interest rate a quarter of a percent. This was unnecessary and unwise. The Fed bowed to political pressure from Trump, and its reputation for independence and integrity will never be the same. Everything Trump touches is diminished. He is a withering blight.

The Democratic Debates: Pundits are using the clichéd “circular firing squad” complaint against Democrats for sniping at each other during the early debates. This is ridiculous. Now is just the right time for Democratic candidates to be sniping at one another, by which I mean early, before most people are paying even scant attention. Besides, it is necessary to define and winnow the field.

I’ll tell you what is really stupid, though, and I saw it happen during the latest debate: criticizing President Obama’s record. Obama was a good president. And he has now been out of office for several years. Trump is still calling Hillary names as if he is running against her, but Democrats are foolish to follow suit. Trump is the president, and he is the immediate problem here, not Obama. 

More important, Obama is enormously popular among black voters, of whom 95% voted Democratic in the last election. This is as solid support from a voting block as will ever be seen. Black voters are crucial to win the next presidential election, and they love Obama. How could anyone be stupid enough to risk alienating those voters?

Many black voters failed to turn out for Hillary in 2016. They came back in 2018 when they saw what Trump was doing to Obama’s legacy. Insult the only black American president and blacks may just sit out 2020, which would be disastrous.

Sudden Thought: Can we trade Islam some of our domestic terrorists for some of theirs? Theirs appear to be a lot less dangerous than our murderous racists.

Conservatism and age: Conventional wisdom has it that people become more conservative as they grow older. I’m pretty sure I have been the same liberal since I learned to think back in college.

Sad to say that Maureen Dowd, the New York Times columnist, may not have escaped this fate. Her two most recent Sunday columns have been wincingly reactionary. Her column about the Democratic debates I might have expected to read in the Wichita Eagle Beacon, not the Times.

Status of the States: South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham is the gift that keeps on giving the worst state cup to his own. Every word that comes out of his mouth these days is in full-throated endorsement of Trump’s bigoted, xenophobic and misogynistic rhetoric, no matter how extreme.

Thoughts on Events the Week of July 22

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on July 31, 2019

The Mueller Report: Robert Mueller met with a couple of Congressional committees to discuss the report he issued recently. You probably know about this. It was in all the papers. The aftermath was typical of what our politics have become: a salad shooter – spin, spin, spin.

There is little more to be said about the report. It is published and Mueller has commented and testified about it as much as he is going to. It is all there for everyone to see and read. Russia interfered with our election; the report cited many contacts between Russians and Trump people, but Mueller concluded that while unprecedented and smarmy, it was not deliberate collusion; and the report listed 10 instances of obstruction of justice.

In his testimony, Mueller answered the one question in which I was interested, in the affirmative. When asked if Trump would have been charged with obstruction of justice if he were not the sitting president, Mueller said yes, and indicated that when Trump is not in office, he could be indicted for obstruction.

(I’ll demur on the question why the DOJ says sitting presidents cannot be charged today when a lawsuit against President Clinton was allowed to go forward while he was in office, for which the Supreme Court is to blame. Perhaps the chaos caused by the Clinton experience is the reason people don’t want to go through that again.)

So, it’s all out there. The issue is no longer the report or Mueller’s testimony, but what we do with it. That is the test of the state of our democracy, and the indications are gloomy.

The best available remedy of our present situation is an election, and I still think that the drip, drip, drip of news of corruption, malfeasance and misfeasance by Trump will corrode Trump’s standing with enough of the American public that by the end of 2020, we will just want to see him gone.

We will have to see if Trump will be indicted after he leaves office. It’s clear the present DOJ will never do this, but a new administration might.

Kidnapped: An American, Francisco Erwin Galicia, was held in custody for 23 days by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, despite providing them his Texas drivers’ license, Social Security card and birth certificate. During his incarceration, he lost 26 pounds, more than a pound a day, and he wasn’t allowed to shower. Doesn’t sound like ideal, or even humane conditions to me.

This cannot be xenophobia, because Galicia is not a foreigner. He is an American citizen. This is a kidnapping, pure and simple, and apparently symptomatic of the lawlessness being perpetrated at our border, not by would be immigrants, but by our own authorities.

Status of the States: South Carolina gets the worst state cup again this week, and again thanks to its Senator Lindsay Graham, who gave full throated support to Trump’s lying reaction to the Mueller testimony. Graham is now officially the worst pig part in the Senate, other than the Majority leader, and that is really saying something in this Senate.

Thoughts on Events the Week of July 15

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on July 24, 2019

Racist in Chief: President Trump uttered the most disgraceful words I have ever heard come out of the mouth of a President of the United States, nor read about being said by any president since the Civil War.

“Go back to the country you came from” is the ultimate xenophobic, bigoted slur. It implies simultaneously that the person is “other,” not from this country, not a legitimate American, an enemy who wishes to harm us, and the wrong color to live here. It is a low as one can go, and it was spoken by the person occupying the highest office in the land. It is the widest possible gulf between Trump and his responsibilities.

Trump is a xenophobe, a bigot and a pig. He no longer bothers even to hide it. In fact, he is counting on it to win a second term, because he is right when he says that many people agree with him. If he prevails in 2020, we will be the “shithole country.”

Trump has the belief system, language and perceived grievances of Huck Finn’s Pap, but without Pap’s charm and grace. Southern writers Twain, and Faulkner after him, both understood that bigotry requires the fertilizer of victimhood to thrive. Such people must blame and put down minorities and immigrants, because their only asset is their whiteness, and they cling to that one advantage and feel it threatened by the success of the “others.”

It must gall and frighten them that four women of color have started from scratch in this country and have risen to the United States Congress. This brings into sharp relief the paucity of their status and lack of accomplishment, and so they curse those who are not white like them, which in my view only lays bare their inferiority and base nature.

Diary Entry: My youngest daughter and granddaughter came for a visit and it was delightful.

Diplomacy: I watched both Iran Foreign Minister Zarif and U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo on TV Sunday. One was calm, eloquent, rational and diplomatic, and the other was Mike Pompeo.

What must Europe and China and Russia be thinking about us? Trump screwed up royally by withdrawing from the Iran nuclear agreement and now is pressuring them to cooperate with his sanctions, when the Iranians are in the right. Who would ever have thought that Iran would have a more disciplined and principled administration than ours?

Football: My summer of discontent is almost over. Football season will begin soon. Preseason articles, tv shows and replays of some of last season’s games are beginning to appear. I’ve begun watching some of them, and it has been a painful reminder of just how utterly terrible Oklahoma’s defense was last year. It was embarrassing.

Status of the States: South Carolina walks away with the worst state cup this week because Senator Lindsay Graham supported Trump’s racist comments to the max. What a pig part.

Thoughts on Events the Week of July 8

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on July 15, 2019

Draining the swamp: President Trump ran on a campaign promise to “drain the swamp” in Washington D.C., and on one level he is succeeding. He has thrown many miscreants, incompetents and corrupt officials out of office.

However, these swap dwellers were all put into the swamp by Trump to begin with. I don’t think adding swamp creatures and then running them off when they were found to be what they are is what the voters had in mind.

Even worse, as swamp creatures are tossed, they are generally replaced by ones worse than their predecessors. It’s arguably going from bad to worse.

Trump’s administration is being criticized for poor vetting, but I don’t think that’s the problem. The problem is that Trump doesn’t know many people other than crooks, cronies, incompetents, clueless family members or despot dictators, so those are what he ends up with.

Alexander Acosta, case in point: The most recent Trump-imported swamp creature to be tossed out thereafter is his now former Secretary of Labor. You know the story. Acosta earned his swampy stench by giving an inexcusably lenient, and possibly illegal, plea deal to Jeffry Epstein, a former whoring buddy of Trump, who turns out to be a more odious pervert (allegedly) than previously understood, at least by me. Trump stood beside Acosta as the Secretary announced his “resignation” and praised him as he was throwing him under the bus. (I’ll leave it to you to decide who among the three in this triangle – Epstein, Acosta or Trump – is the most odious.)

Their capacity for excusing the Trump administration seems infinite, but I can’t help wondering exactly how evangelicals are going to whistle by this one.

ICE Raids: Trump announced in advance that ICE is going to conduct raids that began on Sunday in several major cities: Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and San Francisco. (Houston and New Orleans are excused since they are dealing with a hurricane.)

Trump made the advance announcement presumably to give the leisure industry an economic boost by sending a couple thousand people on a week-long vacation in the countryside. Just kidding. He did it to please his xenophobic base, though the actual event is unlikely to have much effect, other than the fearful threat to separate some parents from the lawfully present children. Trump’s base gets off on that.

This nonsense is symptomatic of the schizophrenia we suffer about immigration. Trump exploits undocumented workers for political expediency, but he doesn’t want to catch too many of these people because of the odious optics, and because even he knows we need the workers. So, Trump jacks off his base with these gambits, but with no real effort to address immigration thoughtfully.

The 2020 Census: In a stunning example of incompetence, even for him, Trump caused his DOJ minions piss off a federal judge seriously and embarrass Supreme Court Justice John Roberts. Most Justice Departments try to avoid either of those things.

Diary entries: We got our first monsoon season rain, almost a week after the average first arrival date of July 6. Writing this final draft on Monday, Cynthia died a year ago today.

Status of the States: No cup this week. No state has earned it. Nothing going on in the states at present can compare remotely to shenanigans going on in D.C.

Thoughts on Events the Week of July 1

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on July 11, 2019

Supremes: We saw an egregious example of full-blown judicial partisanship on display at the Supreme Court last week. Historically, individual states have attempted to deny equality to some of its citizens, generally those most likely to vote against the majority in power, and the Supremes have stepped in to safeguard those equalities to everyone, on a national basis, in line with the Constitution.

No more. In the North Carolina case involving partisan gerrymandering, the Supremes told the state that it is okay if it wants to suppress the votes of its citizens for partisan advantage… since they’re only doing it within state lines, I suppose.

It was a staggering ruling. The Supremes completely abdicated their oath of office to apply the law and interpret the Constitution equally to all citizens. Justice Elena Kegan’s eloquent dissent represents how the Supremes should think and act.

The cynic in me thinks that John Roberts throws a bone to the Constitution occasionally to avoid destroying Supreme Court altogether so he can get away with issuing the extremely undemocratic decisions he obviously favors, and that really damage our democracy, such as this one, and Citizens United.

North Korea: It has been obvious for years that we are going to end up living with a nuclear armed North Korea, just as we are living with a nuclear armed Pakistan (and Israel), and there is nothing Trump, whatever his rhetoric, can do about it, because the alternatives are untenable. North Korea will never give up its nukes. Nukes are the only pot North Korea has to pee in. If they gave them up, Kim would be killed and eaten, and he knows it.

Therefore, Trump’s historic photo op when he crossed the DMZ into North Korea changed nothing. I wouldn’t have done it, but Trump goes into the history books, which I am sure is a monumental boost to his ego. I can just see him jacking off in the West Wing over this. Goody for him, but I suspect he is going to be in the history books over a lot of these he has done, which I dearly hope will include being the first president to go to jail after his term, for acts both before and during his presidency.

July 4th Holiday Celebration: This is embarrassing. Our politics have become so polarized that we are quarreling over Independence Day.

Our porcine President and potentate wannabe insinuated himself into the national celebration in D.C. He wanted to show America’s “military might,” so the military sparsely planted (not paraded) some “brand new” Sherman tanks (last used in the Korean War) around the Capitol like so many red rose bushes to appease the Queen of Hearts. Trump also gave an hour-long speech.

Someone should tell this prick that, since we are the largest military in world history, and bigger (and more overpriced) than the next dozen or so militaries on the planet combined, we don’t need to display our military might. Everyone already knows about it. Military parades are for weaker nations and tinpot dictators.

If Trump wants to give a speech, let him. At least it shows he can read, sort of. He may want to watch out for anachronisms, though. Airports during the Revolutionary War? Really? What a “great brain” student of history.

Status of the States: No cup this week (except for the World Cup the U.S.A. women’s soccer team hoisted). It’s July 4th Week, and all states are united and equal this week.

Thoughts on Events the Week of June 23

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on June 30, 2019

Immigration: This should be a subject tailor made for Congress. It is complicated, complex and multi-faceted, with various stakeholders having different interests that need to be balanced out. This is what Congresses are for.

Likewise, this seems to be a subject ripe with opportunities for compromise to achieve a comprehensive solution. There is so much to work with. (See David Frum’s thoughtful piece in Atlantic Magazine.)  For instance, I am very pro-immigration, but I would trade our policy that anyone born on American soil is an American citizen in a heartbeat for something in return.

This issue has festered for decades in this country, known for its generally welcoming attitude toward immigration, for three reasons:

  1. Schizophrenia. Businesses such as agriculture and building trades want immigrants because they need the workers. Therefore, they wink at undocumented alien rules.

Some oppose immigration because they think immigrants are taking their jobs, which is not true (their bosses are eliminating them with technology), but immigrants are easy targets to blame for our own short comings. So, things have been left in limbo, which gives both sides something, but is terribly unfair to the immigrants themselves.

  • Our Congress, at present anyway, can’t hit the floor with its hat. It is paralyzed, impotent, cowardly and stupid. It doesn’t seem to understand, or it chooses to ignore, that we have always been the net beneficiary of in-migration.
  • Although immigration is a problem, it is not our biggest problem, and so we have let it slide.

That is until President Trump decided to exploit immigrants to jack off his xenophobic base, which has elevated the issue, but exacerbated the friction.

Every wave of immigrants – Irish, Italians, etc. – has been met with heavy resistance, even here. And every wave has fought and sacrificed to get a foothold so their children may experience the American dream. It works out great for us.

This wave of Hispanic immigrants is no different. As a percent of the population it is probably comparatively small. And like the other big waves, it was forced by intolerable conditions in the immigrants’ native countries. Think Irish potato famine.

This wave of immigrants has a different skin tone and heritage than that of most European immigrants, and this irrelevant fact seems to disturb people. Hispanic cultures are rich, and they have already contributed positively to our own. Let’s elect people who will fix this thing rather than exploit it.

First Democratic Debates: I didn’t watch them. It’s too early. Besides, I got the headlines from the news channels the next morning. Castro did well, as did Warren. De Blasio surprised, Governor Inslee, on my early long-shot short list, looked presidential and Kamala Harris, another of my favorites, broke out.

In my view, the tone of these debates should be comity, and for the most part it seemed to be. It won’t do this time for the candidates to be trashing one another, because it is very likely that both the presidential and vice-presidential nominees will come from this lot. Why damage them before they get started?

If I had been on the stage, in my opening statement, I would have said that “any of the people on this stage, including the moderators (and probably the camera persons), would make a better president than Donald Trump.” No one said it, but in the spin room after the debate, Elizabeth Warren used my line.

In the early 60s, New York Republican Governor Nelson Rockefeller, who was fluent in Spanish, did some radio commercials and made speeches in Spanish when he was running for President, which was unprecedented, I think. (Of course, the Rockefellers own South America, so that explains it.)

Since then, the occasional candidate has spoken some Spanish, but in the first debate, at least four candidates made remarks in Spanish. It’s a pretty good indicator, I think, of the importance our Hispanic voters are going to be in this next, and future, elections.

I hope some Republican politicians, after watching the debate, woke up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat thinking they had better reconsider their xenophobic rhetoric and positions.  Republicans can’t buy a black vote to save their lives, and at the rate they are going, it will soon be the same for Hispanic votes, which is an even bigger block of voters. In the meantime, pasty white guys are dying off.

Economics: Before leaving for the G20 Summit in Japan, President Trump said it is none of our business what he says to Russian president Putin while he is there. Someone should remind this prick who pays his salary and for his airplane and housing, et. al. Perhaps Robert Mueller will do it when he testifies before Congress next month.

The Supremes: voted this week to allow individual states to gerrymander voting districts, thus abusing one-man, one-vote democracy. This is such an egregious injustice, I will have to address it separately.

Status of the States: The cup goes to Arizona, my own personal state, because on this date in 2013, 19 Hot Shot firefighters died fighting a fire near Yarnell, a piss ant town whose 250 residents had already be evacuated to safety.

I remember this date vividly, because, as we were getting ready to drive to Williams, AZ to have lunch with my daughter who was driving through Arizona on her way back to Texas, the monsoon rains came early, ushered in by the most violent wind storm I have seen in Arizona. The winds whipped around from every direction.

When I heard the news about the Hot Shots, I was incredulous that anyone in authority would send firefighters into a situation with those strong, unpredictable winds to save an empty burg. We are still grieving over this.

Thoughts on Events the Week of June 15

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on June 25, 2019

Iran: Perhaps if we knew President Trump’s objective regarding Iran, we would better understand his behavior, but I doubt it. He says at times that he merely wants to deny Iran nuclear weapons, but if that is really what he wants, he would have left the Obama nuclear deal in place. No, that can’t be it.

(Set aside all his petty criminal activity, and Trump’s backing out of the Iran nuclear agreement will be judged by history to be his biggest mistake.)

Trump says he doesn’t want regime change, but he has surrounded himself with rabid hawks, some of them barking mad. Fuzzy thinking, Donald.

The fact is, our bigot-in-chief has no objective regarding Iran other than to erase every trace he can of President Obama’s accomplishments, regardless of their merits and  regardless of what damage it does to our national interests, in part because it jerks off his racist base, partly to exercise his own bigoted impulses, and partly because it must gall his ass that a brilliant black man was able to accomplish so much, against such vicious, relentless Republican opposition, and how Trump pales in comparison. I know it, you know it, everybody knows it, including Trump, which must really sting.

The best explanation I can think of is that it may have dawned on The Donald that he was about to start yet a third war in the Middle East, and even his pea brain could deduce that this was a bad idea that even his base would choke on, since he ran on a promise to get us out of there, not in deeper. So, he punted, and turned to his next bad idea – separating children and their parents at the border – about which more next week.

(Not so) Sudden thought: Does it worry anyone else that, surrounded by his Secretary of State, outgoing Acting Secretary of Defense, incoming Acting Secretary of Defense and National Security Advisor, gathered in a room discussing war with Iran, Trump was the least rabid?

And if you buy that nonsense that Trump pulled back because he learned at the last minute that there might be Iranian casualties from his approved attack, you are so young. Even if it is true, which it isn’t, why wouldn’t the question of possible casualties be addressed long before a decision to launch was made, and if not, why would his advisors not have raised it?

The Senate: Democratic leaders and voters are frustrated that so many well qualified potential candidates are opting not to run for the Senate. I’m disappointed too, but I can’t blame these people for choosing not to run. Who can blame them? Being a Senator is a colossal waste of time. What used to be an office of stature has become a vestigial appendage to our democratic system.

The Senate hasn’t functioned properly for about two decades, from its own mendacity and cowardice. The Senate is only fit for people like Mitch McConnell anymore, which is why so many Democratic Senators are running for president in hopes of getting out, and so few respectable Democrats want to get in.

Status of the States: South Carolina gets the cup this week, thanks again to Senator Lindsay Graham, who is a perfect fit for today’s Senate (see above), because he has spent the week cheering on the war crazies in Trump’s cabinet, and criticizing Trump for not wanting to start another war, against a strong adversary, in the Middle East. I genuinely despise these people who are so cavalier about sending our military off to fight and die in senseless, costly conflicts.

“Mortal Republic: How Rome Fell into Tyranny,” by Edward J. Watts

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on May 16, 2019

Everyone should read this book. It is a good recap of Roman history from BC 280 (the year of the Roman Republic’s battle with the Greek King Pyrrhus of Epirus), to the death of Roman Emperor Augustus Caesar in AD 14. It is also a vivid cautionary tale of how a republic like ours can fail.

Rome was a functioning republic until a series of events unfolded that set it on a different course. Although Ancient Rome was of a different age, readers will recognize similarities in our present day, and the primary drivers are identical: greed, and blind partisanship. These drivers induced political leaders and rivals to bend and abuse the laws and norms of the republic to their benefit, at the expense of the common good.

The rot began – and today’s readers will recognize this too – with dysfunction in the Senate. Senators began breaking the rules in their lust for power and riches. Senatorial partisan conflict progressed from insult, to threats of violence (Sulla brought an army into the city to intimidate other senators), to violence itself (Caesar was killed in the Senate chamber), to civil war.

Our legislative branch has not been functioning properly for at least two decades. The tipping point for us may have been the extreme malfeasance of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who obstructed the entire eight years of the Obama administration out of pure bigotry, culminating in his refusal to perform his duty to advise and consent on Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.

McConnell is a modern day hero among conservatives, but I believe history will treat him as the rapacious scumbag he truly is, and possibly the root of our own historic decline.

In Rome, the situation became so dangerous that citizens “traded the liberty of political autonomy for the security of autocracy.” Ironically, Caesar was a skilled politician and competent leader as dictator, and his ultimate successor Octavian (later Augustus) was not only competent, but long-lived, which solidified the imperial form of government.

But then came terrible emperors like Caligula and Nero. (Cynics may jump in here and claim we have jumped over the Caesars and gone straight to the Caligulas and Neros with Trump today.)

Watts points out the obvious: that the republic did not have to die. A republic has no expiration date. It lasts as long as people want it enough to protect it. But he warns, “When citizens take the health and durability of a republic for granted, that republic is at risk.”

Our Constitution rests on the assumptions that our public officials will do their jobs (McConnell deliberately failed to do that), and that we will select good people to officiate. Republics survive on the choices made by those in charge of its custody.

Rome’s custodians failed to protect the public good. Ours are failing now. In each case, the result has been dangerous inequality between citizens and their leaders, a leading indicator of revolution.

Watts concludes, and I agree, that “A republic is a thing to be cherished, protected and respected. If it fails, an uncertain, dangerous and destructive future lies on the other side.” But this requires competent people working for the common good. Perhaps it is inevitable that there will be incompetent, selfishly motivated people in government, but they must be avoided as much as possible. Currently, we are wallowing in a sea of them.