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Thoughts on Events the Week of June 4

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on June 11, 2018

North Korea: As so often occurs with politicians and media, the news and the hype are two entirely different subjects. The news this week was how astoundingly President Trump insulted and turned his back on not only our dearest allies, but also our cultural roots. Where does Trump think his base’s sense of white supremacy comes from anyway?

The hype was all about the upcoming meeting with North Korea in Singapore next week, assuming the North Korean delegation can find enough change between their sofa cushions to afford a hotel room.

This meeting is historic, because it is a first, and it represents a meeting between the U.S. and an adversary that goes back (1953) even longer than that with Iran (1979), and almost as long as with Cuba (1948). Oh wait, those relations, re-opened by President Obama, are back to adversarial status again, thanks to President Trump. Can we hold a grudge, or what?

Trump loves firsts, but apparently only his own, because he slammed the door the openings to Iran and Cuba out of spite with Obama.

Count me among the most dubious about anything meaningful coming out of this meeting, and those that will likely succeed it, despite however Trump may try to frame it. True progress will have to come another day, far away. Here’s why.

I define meaningful only as anything that meets or exceeds the dashed Iran nuclear deal. By inference, Trump has promised to make a better one with North Korea. I will judge him by that standard (maybe a higher one; NK already has nukes), and there is not a shred of hope that he can meet it. North Korea is not going to give up its nukes any time soon, and certainly not to a buffoon like Trump’s term in office.

I would mind Trump that it was sanctions, led by President Obama’s vigorous diplomatic efforts that brought Iran to the negotiating table. And Obama didn’t loosen those sanctions until he had the deal he wanted, including strong verification clauses.

If Trump starts giving away candy before he has a deal that meets his goal of total, verifiable denuclearization, that he will have failed spectacularly comparted to Obama’s Iran deal. North Korea has already cheated two American presidents this way. If Trump makes the same mistake, he won’t even be able to claim a first, or that he did something no other president could do.

Among the not particularly meaningful results would be converting the armistice between North Korea and us into a peace treaty. It would be symbolic, but change nothing, other than give North and South Korea more space to work on their own domestic relationships.

The G7 Economic Summit: Back to Trump’s treatment of actual allies. Trump offended them all before he came to the meeting, blew his nose on the drapes, diplomatically speaking, while he was there, left early and then reneged on his communiqué agreement after he was safely out of town.

It was a spectacular display of rudeness and stupidity. In other words, typical Trump. In the end, Trump left a very bad taste in the Europe’s mouth as he headed for Singapore to make history and a fool of himself at the hands of the North Koreans and to the delight of China and Russia.

Trump got one thing right. Our Long-term economic future is in Asia, and we should be shifting emphasis there. But that doesn’t mean insulting out large, existing economic trading partners and allies.

Meanwhile, back in Asia, China is pulling Trump’s pants down, North Korea is about to play him for a fool. Allies Japan and South Korea are losing confidence in Trump and considering other options, and I get the sense that Australia has already written off the U.S. and is pivoting completely to China.

Person of Interest:  Larry Kudlow. Used to be an economist, now he just plays one on TV. A life-long advocate of free trade, Kudlow, Trump’s new National Economic Adviser is now defending Trump’s ludicrous tariffs, and even supporting Trump’s insulting of Canada Prime Minister’s Trudeau, calling Trudeau’s remarks a betrayal for speaking truth to power, and saying Trudeau stabbed Trump in the back, somewhat overheated diplomatic language.

But I guess language gets pretty heated when one is concerned about national security,  which is the reason Trump gave for slapping tariffs on Canada, because we are, you know, in imminent danger of an attack or even invasion from our northern neighbor. Please.

Status of the States: Oklahoma keeps the worst state cup until EPA Director Scott Pruitt is gone.

 

Thoughts on Events the Week of May 28

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on June 8, 2018

The Majesty Letter: President Trump’s lawyers, we learned this week, sent a secret letter to Special Counsel Robert Mueller making some pretty extreme claims of executive authority.

Briefly, the letter claims Trump can fire anyone he wants in the Executive Branch, including anyone in the Justice Department (probably true), including the Special Counsel (possibly true, but unproven); that he can pardon anyone (true), including himself (doubtful, but untested); and that he can shut off any investigation he wants, including of himself (highly unlikely, but again, untested).

In short, the letter asserts that Trump is above the law, which would make him tantamount to a monarch. I am not a Constitutional scholar, but I have read the document and something about the history of how it was created, and I’m pretty sure that one thing the founding fathers did not want was a monarch. In fact, it was the last thing they wanted, and took pains to prevent via the Constitution.

Trump’s lawyers at the time this letter was written were John Dowd, who subsequently quit in disgust, and Jay Sekulow, a man over his head, who was caught in a lie publicly when he said on TV that Donald Trump, Jr. wrote the infamous letter about the Trump Tower meeting, which the White House later admitted Trump himself had dictated. Real heavy weights.

Giuliani, one of Trump’s current lawyers, has the audacity to support the contentions in this letter. Of course, Giuliani is not really practicing as a lawyer at present, he’s only playing one on TV.  He’s really just a shill for Trump, akin to Strother Martin’s character in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, a shameless sycophant of the villain.

Nothing yet from Emmett Flood, Trump’s new, actual lawyer, who hasn’t uttered a peep since he came aboard. I can’t help wondering what he must be thinking. I sometimes visualize him hiding in a dark closet, sucking his thumb, holding his baby blanket and wondering how the hell he got into this. I cannot see him defending the claims in this letter.

The publication of this letter seems to have opened the first tiny, thin fissures in the Republican legislator’s stone wall.

Pardons: Trump is said to be obsessed with pardons these days, and it is easy to see why. With pardons, Trump gets to play monarch. It is his one authority under the Constitution unencumbered by checks and balances. He can pardon anyone he wants, however undeserving (such as, say, former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio), and nobody can do a damn thing about it.

Except pardon himself, of course. He can’t pardon himself. It’s said that this hasn’t been tested in the courts, but it was tested as a practical matter during the Nixon saga. No court will ever allow it to happen.

So, Trump can exercise his almost universal pardon powers within the Constitution, but not with complete impunity. There are possible political consequences if this power is determined to have been abused.

It’s said that Trump is waving his pardon power around so publicly as a signal to those involved in the Special Counsel investigation, a kind of threat/extortion/promise.

As I understand it, and I’m willing to be corrected, once someone is pardoned and cannot be tried for a crime, then they also cannot plead the 5th, and can be brought before a grand jury and be compelled to testify. So, perhaps it is not the protection for himself Trump thinks it may be.

Sudden Thought: Wouldn’t it be ironic if Trump pardoned all of his friends and got them off, and then found himself in legal doo doo?

Women’s Softball: The attempt for a three-peat national collegiate women’s softball championship by my beloved Oklahoma Sooners’ team ended not with a bang, nor a whimper, but with a total collapse. They were shut out twice by the University of Washington and went home.

There are basically three seasons in softball (sorry OU coach Patty Gasso, three, not four as in football quarters): the regular season, including conference games, the playoffs where the finalists are decided for the Women’s Softball World Series 16 team round robin, and the WCWS itself.

Oklahoma breezed through the regular season, and was undefeated in the Big 12 Conference. OU obliterated three playoff opponents by a combined score of 29-2, and then lost two games to Washington without scoring a single run. (Washington lost the finals to Florida State). This was an astounding performancee for the best run scoring team in women’s softball.

This defeat, on one level, demonstrates how difficult it is in any sport to three-peat. It almost never happens. This time, however, the lady Sooners just really stunk up the place. Next year, girls.

Person of Interest:  MiniBooNE’s researchers. They may have found a fourth – “sterile” neutrino, when it is thought there are only three, which would upset the Standard Model applecart big time.

Status of the States: Oklahoma keeps the worst state cup until EPA Director Scott Pruitt is gone.

 

What then to do with Rosanne Barr?

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on May 31, 2018

You’ve all seen, heard or read that Rosanne Barr posted a gratuitously racist, Islamophobic tweet about Valerie Jarrett, a former Special Advisor to President Barak Obama. Shortly thereafter, ABC issued its own statement critical of, and distancing itself from, Barr’s. Less than an hour later, ABC cancelled her popular TV show.

The cynic in me doubts that ABC made this decision alone; the show was a money maker. I’m sure they hoped their statement would suffice and things would settle down. I’m thinking Disney, ABC’s parent, made the call, and quickly. Good for them.

I’m pretty much an absolutist about free speech, and I am of the opinion that we are often way too politically correct, but I’m glad this happened. This shit has to stop.

Barr exercised her freedom of speech rightly, and so did Disney. Barr’s speech reflected on ABC, and by extension Disney, and they didn’t want to be associated with it. Barr’s speech was free, but irresponsible. Barr can still speak. Maybe some other media outlet will pick up the show. Otherwise, with her rant, Barr put a whole lot of people – the entire cast and crew of her show – out of work.

Racism is a roach under our refrigerator. It’s always there, sadly, but usually stays in the dark, self-aware of its repugnancy. In the current environment, racists have been emboldened to come out into the light.

To be clear, this new era of blatant racism was not caused by President Trump. He has just exploited it, though he obviously is one himself. The flame was ignited when President Barak Obama was elected.

Seeing a black man in the White House sparked a backlash among this kind, and, to my utter disgust, within the Republican Congress. It led to the most disgraceful eight years of legislative malfeasance in my lifetime, including complete opposition and obstruction of any Obama initiatives, including ones the Republicans had championed until Obama agreed with them, in which case the Republicans opposed them.

The most egregious, odious obstruction was the refusal of Republican Senators Charles Grassley and Mitch McConnell to give Obama’s nomination to the Supreme Court – Merrick Garland – an excellently qualified choice – a hearing, allowing the court to limp along rather than do their duty, as they ran out the clock on Obama’s term. These guys’ action was as blatantly racist as that of any white supremacist scum in the land.

I want to see racism wither completely, but at present I’d just settle for seeing it out of our government, to start. It is going to take people like ABC and/or Disney calling it out until, if we cannot entirely erase it, we can get it back under the refrigerator.

Thoughts on Events the Week of May 21

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on May 28, 2018

The Art of the (No) Deal: President Trump’s book is inaccurately titled. He seems to know how to back out of deals, not how to make them.

For those keeping score, Trump has pulled America out of the Paris Climate Accord and the Trans Pacific Partnership, two important international agreements. His biggest boner, probably the worst decision he will ever make as president, however long he serves, was pulling out of the Iranian Nuclear Agreement, the most important international agreement of the 21st Century. What a no deal guy.

Note: all of these deals have two things in common. They are all good, important deals, and they were all negotiated by Barak Obama, a serious and successful dealmaker, of whom Trump must be green with envy and consumed with spite.

By dismissing the Iran deal, Trump has unintentionally signaled that his North Korean deal will be better than the Iranian deal he walked away from, and that just flat out isn’t going to happen. In fact, very little is going to happen.

Trump assured us he would glide into a deal to de-nuclearize North Korea over a saké in Singapore (if North Korea’s plan can fly that far, and if Chairman (It’s chairman now, not Supreme Leader) Kim Jong-Un is still in power when he lands), easy peasy, on June 12. When he discovered, like other presidents, that this is easier said than done, he pulled out of this one, too. But it’s just as well. This negotiation wasn’t going to go as Trump expected anyway.

I’m sure Trump and Kim will get together for a photo-op sometime, somewhere and call it progress, but that’s nonsense.

America and North Korea will have a deal when America and China agree what it will be and when it will happen, which isn’t going to be any time soon, and isn’t going to be what Trump imagines.

That said, Kim and South Korean leader Moon Jae-in still have an opportunity to improve relations between their respective countries, and I hope they continue to do so, if only to show our dumb-ass president how it can be done.

The Justice Department Epic Failure: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein screwed up big time when he obeyed President Trump’s order to let Republican lawmakers (read Trump’s partisan hatchet men) see classified material from a DOJ investigation.

People are debating whether Rosenstein was being craven to save his job, or crafty to save the Special Counsel investigation. Rosenstein’s motives are meaningless. He can’t protect the investigation or himself by eroding the Department of Justice this way. He should never have permitted such a breach of legal practice.

Once Rosenstein caved, Trump pressed again, inviting only Republicans to see the material, no Democrats. This was corrected, but the very act was proof of Trump’s intent, and the complicity of Republican lawmakers. Rosenstein should have called a halt then and there.

Finally, when the meeting, which never should have happened, began, Trumps Chief of Staff John Kelly and his personal lawyer Emmett Flood, sneaked into the room. Third strike. Ballgame (should have been) over.

But it wasn’t. Now Trump’s other lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, wants to do the same thing over again for himself, for the admitted purpose of destroying the investigation. The inevitable slippery slope that occurs when working with slippery slime.

What could Rosenstein think he was protecting? Make no mistake. Trump doesn’t give a rodent’s rectum about our justice system. He will tear the whole thing down in a heartbeat to save himself from this investigation (which is only necessary if he is guilty of something), and the hell with his oath of office, the Department of Justice or the whole damn country.

I don’t know how this is going to end, but I know what is going to happen. If the noose tightens around Trump, he will fire Rosenstein, Mueller, Sessions and anyone else who gets in his way, and take his chances.

At that point, we will see if, as Trump says, he can shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and get away with it. But who he will be shooting is Blind Justice, and make no mistake, she is mortal.

The Trump Taint: There is one constant to the erratic and inconsistent Trump administration. Everyone who comes into contact with Trump is diminished by their exposure to him. They will be humiliated, insulted, embarrassed, fired or pressured out. They will find their reputations damaged and possibly even land in prison. No matter how high the office they are given in the administration, no one escapes with their stature as high as it was when they entered.

The most immediate case in point is Emmett Flood, Trump’s new Special Counsel to the President. Trump finally recruited a well-educated lawyer with excellent credentials and a prominent, bipartisan reputation. Hardly had Flood gotten in the door than he was seen sneaking into the two classified briefings at which the justice Department shamefully briefed lawmakers on classified information related to the Russian investigation (see above).

Flood knew better than to do this.  He knew it was inappropriate, even unprecedented. He knew it was wrong. And yet there he was, putting his reputation at risk for his smarmy client. He will have to explain himself to his partners, his colleagues, himself and a judge or two, to his shame.

Women’s Softball: There is almost nothing in sports that interests me between football seasons any more. But one exception is women’s softball, in large measure due to the remarkable success of my beloved Oklahoma Sooners’ team. Having won the previous two NCAA championships, and seeded #4 this year (an injustice), they blew through the regional and super regional to advance to the Championship Series in Oklahoma City.

In the first round, OU knocked out three opponents, scoring 24 runs and not giving up a single one. In their super regional, they dispatched Arkansas with two straight wins by a combined score of 16-2. These gals are a joy to watch.

The NBA: I did something I never do, this weekend – watched snatches of the last two games of the Cleveland v. Celtics Eastern Finals, and watched LeBron James carry his team by the scruff of their necks to the NBA Championship. What a performance!

Forget the debate who is the best ever. It’s futile. Just accept that there is a plane above all the rest, and that James and Michael Jordan, Koby Bryant and a couple of others are on it. But make no mistake, James is on it.

Person of Interest:  General John F. Kelly, retired United States Marine Corps general and White House Chief of staff. A deeply, deeply disappointing figure, and model example of one diminished by his exposure to President Trump.

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_F._Kelly)

Status of the States: Oklahoma keeps the worst state cup until EPA Director Scott Pruitt is gone.

However, I would be remiss if I did not mention Texas’ Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who, after the mass murder in the high School in Santa Fe, TX during which 10 people were killed, opined that the problem causing mass shootings has nothing to do with guns, but is due to abortions and violent video games. Even by Texas standards, Patrick is an exceptional bozo, and if Scott Pruitt were not in the Trump administration would earn Texas the worst state cup this week.

Hey, Danny Boy, abortions have nothing to do with this subject. You are a tool for trying to wedge it in. It insults the intelligence of those who voted for you, and that’s really saying something.

Regarding video games, the country most addicted to them is Japan, and they have perhaps the least gun violence of any country in the world. Know why? Because they have almost no guns. What a Gohmert!

 

Thoughts on Events the Week of May 14

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on May 23, 2018

O, Jerusalem: President Trump moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and bragged that he has done what no other president  has had the guts, or been able to do. This is nonsense. Any president could have done it. None did because we were trying to maintain some balance in our relationships between Israel and the Palestinians, in order to have credibility when negotiating a peace between the two sides.

In moving the embassy, Trump has signaled to the world that, his pronouncements notwithstanding, he has no interest in an Israel-Palestinian peace. He has cast his lot completely on the side of Israel and President Netanyahu, his political soulmate in commitment to their respective religiously conservative bases. This is nothing but a blatant affront to Muslims, as obvious to everyone as Trump’s Muslim travel ban.

Assuredly, this move plays directly to, and very well with Trump’s Evangelical base, which has some bizarre eschatological superstitions about Israel. With American Jews, not so much.

American Jews, who tend to be Democratic, are increasingly off put by Israel, which they see as no longer a liberal democratic society, but a repressive, occupying government, shifting more and more to the religious right (what they call ultra-orthodox). And they are right.

So, this embassy move not only drives a wider gap between Jews and Muslims in the Middle East, but widens the gap between Evangelical conservatives and liberal Jews in America, perhaps as Trump wants.

I’m thinking Israel is feeling very proud at present, but they can’t be feeling very easy. Despite its dominant position in the Middle East, except for Trump, Israel doesn’t have many friends, and Trump doesn’t either. When Trump is gone, whenever or however that happens, things could change significantly.

Yet, this all may work out for Netanyahu. Everyone seems to have shifted their attention to problems of their own, so Israel’s shift to a non-democratic, illiberal occupying nation may go unaddressed. (It doesn’t help the Palestinians that their leadership engages in pointless, fruitless behaviors.) Nevertheless, to me it seems that the stronger it grows on the path it has chosen, the more Israel’s future darkens. We’ll see.

The Senate Disgustingly Approves Gina Haspel to be Director of the CIA: Well, they did it. The Senate agreed with President Trump to put someone who tortured people at a black site during the Iraq War and then destroyed evidence of it, to be the face of the CIA, as if its reputation isn’t bad enough already.

Six Democrats voted with all but two Republicans to confirm Haspel. For the record, they are: Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Mark Warner (D-VA). I want to remember these Democrat pig parts.

Four of these senators are from conservative states, which means they traded their integrity for political expediency. The votes of Warner and Shaheen are particularly odious, since their states went for Hillary Clinton in 2016, meaning their votes weren’t necessary even to appease a conservative electorate. They just did it.

Note: a few Democratic senators from deep red states – Alabama Sen. Doug Jones, Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, and Montana Sen. Jon Tester – to their credit, voted against Haspel.

I’m ashamed of the Democratic senators who voted to confirm a torturer. I’m ashamed of the whole damn Senate, and I’m ashamed of myself for having to vote Democratic given the present choices.

Person of Interest:  Curtis James (https://faculty.erau.edu/Curtis.James). James told me we have completed a 30 year drought cycle here, and will be seeing more precipitation; not necessarily more snow, due to global warming, just more total precipitation. I hope he is right. The first year thereafter, he was spot on, but since then, we have been bone dry.

Status of the States: Oklahoma keeps the worst state cup until EPA Director Scott Pruitt is gone.

 

Thouoghts on Events the Week of April 30

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on May 9, 2018

Rudy makes Fox News News: On Fox News Wednesday evening, Rudy Giuliani admitted that President Trump’s attorney-fixer, Michael Cohen, paid Stormy Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet about a roll in the hay she had with Trump, and that Trump reimbursed Cohen on the installment plan, though Trump still says his one night stand with Daniels never happened. Giuliani went on to say that the whole thing is “irrelevant.” And you know what? He’s probably right, up to a point.

I don’t care who Trump has sex with, or how much he pays or overpays for it, however foolish, and it’s obvious his base doesn’t care either. They already know Trump had sex with Daniels. You know it. I know it. Everybody does. It’s patently obvious that Daniels is telling the truth and Trump is lying.

So, assuming the money was stuffed properly into Stormy’s G-string, and not through some illegal financial scheme, as some suspect, no harm, no foul.

And even if there were financial shenanigans, it’s unlikely ever to amount to much. The Federal Election Committee is an impotent, toothless, politically paralyzed entity, even by Washington standards, and, again, his base won’t care about this either. They’ve already overlooked so many more serious crimes, one more won’t matter. And if Trump’s base doesn’t care, you won’t hear so much of a whimper from our Republican-controlled Congress.

Frankly, I think Giuliani actually has a political strategy going, posing as a legal one. Get everything out all at once.  Make it sound stinking bad and get it all behind Trump. Then, using Trump’s default tactic, throw out so many lies and contradictory statements that people can’t keep up. Well, no one but Mueller.

Now, beyond the point mentioned above: 1) Trump will have some more explaining to do to Melania. 2) It strengthens Stormy’s defamation case against Trump. (It just doesn’t sound credible that Trump would say she’s lying about the hump, and then pay her $130,000 to forget about something he says never happened). 3) Likewise, it strengthens the cases of other women Trump has called liars who are suing, or will sue, him, now that Giuliani has let the pussy out of the bag, so to speak. 4) Evangelicals will suffer another episode of heartburn over their hypocrisy, but they’ll get over it. They always have.

As one enters, yet another leaves: Ty Cobb, another of President Trump’s lawyers, left the White House staff, his strategy having failed. Cobb advised Trump to cooperate with the special counsel and get everything over quickly.

The reason this strategy failed is easily inferred. Trump told Cobb he is innocent. Cobb was foolish enough to believe him, so cooperating was the logical course. But cooperation was always out of the question for Trump, or Mueller, for that matter. Mueller has evidence and Trump knows what he has done.

Not so sudden thought: President Trump’s hands don’t seem to me to be so extremely small. Below average, to be sure; I doubt he can palm a basketball. But nothing to warrant such mocking.

His little round mouth, on the other hand, is quite odd. When I watch him speak, I see a hole end of a roll of toilet paper talking to me.

Trump’s terrible job running his Justice Department: For months, Trump has insulted, smeared, slandered and libeled the Justice Department, the FBI and certain members of each by name. He has called many top level executives crooked, corrupt and worse. He has called James Comey an untruthful slime ball and worse. He smears his own Attorney General and Assistant Attorney General incessantly.

Recently, he hurled the ultimate condemnation – the most damning accusation he could make in the eyes of his base. He called them “angry Democrats,” despite the fact that those he calls out most viciously are Republicans, and appointed by his own administration!

Trump does this for his own self-preservation, not caring that damaging the reputation of his Justice Department in the eyes of the public diminishes our entire system of justice for all. Trump doesn’t care anything about that, only his own hide.

While doing this, Trump hopes we overlook the fact (his base doesn’t know or care) that the Department of Justice is part of the Executive Branch – his branch. When he condemns the DOJ’s performance, he is criticizing his own.

Trump is responsible for their DOJ. He can fire the people he condemns any time and put new executives in their place who are more to his liking. If they are so bad, why doesn’t he do that? I’ll tell you why.

Trump doesn’t fire them because doesn’t really care what kind of job they are doing. He just doesn’t want them to do it to him. He knows they are doing their job correctly, and if he fires them, it will stink on ice. (Just like everyone knows Trump screwed Stormy Daniels and paid for her silence, everyone knows Trump has done a lot of other bad things that he is trying to hide from the law.)

Trump’s hope is to lower public opinion of the DOJ to the point his base will accept it if Trump fires them, or have an excuse to forgive Trump if his misdeeds come to light.

But make no mistake. Trump will fire everyone he needs to in a heartbeat if he feels mortally threatened by his own Justice Department, to save his own skin. He will take his chances, and if he gets away with it, our system of justice, and our democracy, are pretty much over. We’ll see.

Person of Interest: Carlton Pearson (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlton_Pearson)

Status of the States:  Oklahoma keeps the worst state cup until Scott Pruitt is gone. He does something worst cup worthy ever week.

 

 

 

 

Thoughts on Events the Week of April 23

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on May 2, 2018

The Koreas Talk: North Korea’s Supreme Leader (Please) Kim Jong-un and South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in joined in an historic meeting – the first between leaders of the two countries, still technically at war, in 65 years. Kim took the first step, literally, by crossing the border – and the DMZ – to meet with Moon in the South. The photo of their handshake was poignant.

I am glad to see the two leaders taking matters into their own hands to improve their countries’ relationship. All politics is local, Tip O’Neill said, and Kim and Moon seem to have decided to set aside China and the U.S. for the time being and see what they can work out locally while the big boys play their global game.

From this beginning, it may be possible to achieve positive, stabilizing steps. In fact, they’ve already begun. South Korea has turned off its loud speaker system that broadcasted propaganda across the border, and North Korea has adjusted its time zone to reality. They’ve agreed to get together again to talk about more serious stuff.

Don’t laugh. From tiny acorns, etc. Other, bolder steps could ensue, such as family reunions, cross border commerce and cultural exchange. Connections like these, over time, have a way of damping down animosity to the point military conflict becomes unlikely, then almost impossible. It makes no sense to be shooting at your customers.

To be sure, such efforts toward peace and harmony between the two Koreas have flowed and ebbed often before, only to shatter. This could be just another short-lived interlude. But both countries are in a better position to connect amicably than they have been in a long time. Kim has his nuclear arsenal, for all practical purposes, and Moon has a brain and an open mind.

It’s hard to imagine how, alone, Kim and Moon can reunify their countries, officially. Among the awkward impediments, they are still at war, and the Armistice that ended all hostilities was signed by the UN (read U.S.), North Korean Army (read Kim) and China (read China). They would have to agree to change the Armistice to a peace agreement, which they may or may not want to do, as they are dicking around with their own agendas and nukes and stuff.

On the other hand, it is possible, though improbable, that North and South Korea could reconcile and reunite in practical terms to the point of rendering the Armistice obstacle obsolete. Wouldn’t that be nice?

On a separate track, President Trump and Kim are talking about talking about meeting to talk about Kim’s denuclearizing. I don’t see much positive happening on this track. Kim is not going to give up his nuclear weapons unless and until China decides to make him. That deal will have to be worked out between China and the U.S., and I just don’t see it happening yet, though perhaps someday.

That said, if Trump, with help from China, which even he sees as essential, gets North Korea to give up its nukes, truly, then Trump deserves a piece of the Nobel Peace Prize, even if it has to be delivered to him in prison.

Bottom line: nukes aside, the Korean conflict, like the Cuban conflict, has been going on needlessly for far too long.

Iran, North Korea and the greater nuclear fool: Let’s cut to the chase. The Iran agreement, which Trump calls the worst deal in history, is in fact the best diplomatic deal of the 21st Century.

We have a deal with Iran and several key U.N. members under which Iran has agreed to stop developing nuclear weapons for at least 15 years, while we work out other, non-nuclear related issues with them. Iran has adhered to this deal, certainly on the nuclear weapons part, no matter how much President Trump, and President Netanyahu of Israel, for that matter, lie about it.

Trump wants to tear up this agreement unilaterally, which will free Iran to restart its nuclear program and piss off all the others who agreed to the deal, including China and Russia. It’s inconceivable even Trump could be that stupid, but he is threatening to this.

On the other hand, Trump is eager to talk to North Korea, which already has nuclear weapons, and missile capability, and less than no incentive to give them up, and has said consistently that it will never give them up, one of its few honest, consistent statements. North Korea is not going to leave the cover of its nuclear arsenal unless and until China flushes it.

I don’t particularly care if Trump meets with North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-un out of sequence with normal diplomatic protocol, if he wishes. It’s stupid, but it’s his call, and it could make our allies in the area breathe easier, though I question that will be the result. But I do care if Trump screws up the Iran deal. If so, he is not only the greater fool; he is the greatest fool.

The Trump – Mueller Interview: It amuse me to hear the conversation regarding whether President Trump should or should not talk to Robert Mueller. Trump is going to talk to Mueller, one way or another. It will be in Trump’s office – I assume Mueller will come to him – or in front of a Grand Jury, in which case, Trump will come to it.

William Kristol says it will never happen. He says Mueller won’t get even one bite at the Trump apple, because Trump will fire Mueller and anyone else in a heartbeat before he’ll testify under oath in this investigation, no matter what anyone advises.

Kristol may be right about this. Frankly, I think he is, regarding Mueller, specifically. But when I say Mueller, I am using his name as a synecdoche, meaning the entire investigatory and prosecutorial system. Trump is going to talk to Mueller as president, or resign and take his chances.

Ryan fires the House Chaplin after firing himself: What a bunch of petty bullshit. Can you even believe such a ridiculous story, let alone that it ever got out into the public? House members are quarreling over their Goddamn chaplain. Apparently, some House members don’t feel their spiritual needs are being met by a Catholic Priest, so Ryan, a spineless Catholic, no less, fired him.

Hey, House members, if your spiritual needs are not being met in the House, go to your house of worship and get them met there. The House, the nation’s House, wasn’t created for that purpose.

For the record, I am vehemently opposed to there being any chaplain for the House. It is an affront to the separation of church and state, and one has no place in government buildings. Hell, even Roy Moore learned that.

Person of Interest (New Segment): Tammie Jo Shults. Look her up. She’s remarkable.

Status of the States: Oklahoma keeps the worst state cup until Scott Pruitt is gone. He does something worst cup worthy ever week.

Thoughts on Events the Week of April 16

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on April 24, 2018

Russian Sanctions: Contrary to the announcement over the weekend by U. S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley that more, and more significant, sanctions against Russia would be announced on Monday by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, instead came the news that President Trump had killed the sanctions. The news shocked Trump’s aides, but not anyone paying attention to Trump’s relationship with Russia.

This change of mind, if there ever really was one on the part of Trump, left Haley’s cheese in the wind at the U.N. Larry Kudlow, the latest of Trump’s appointments whose primary qualification is having been on TV at Fox News, suggested Haley’s having “gotten ahead of the curve” with her announcement. Haley immediately slapped Kudlow around in public like an ugly stepchild. Kudlow, being a Fox News alum, where mistreatment of women is part of its misogynistic culture, reflexively took the Fox female putdown approach with a serious, grown up woman who wasn’t going to put up with that crap for a minute. Big mistake, Larry. It was delicious.

Don’t interpret my delight at Kudlow’s well-deserved putdown by Haley as an endorsement of her broader record. She is doing a credible job as U.N. Ambassador, which makes her stand out in the Trump administration, but overall, she is a hidebound, mean-spirited far right wingnut. As legislator and then governor of South Carolina, she contributed heavily to making it onto the Worst State list.

But the bottom line result of this fiasco is that many are still wondering why in the hell Trump treats Russian President with such deference. Pundits are reluctant to speculate too directly, but this week, I will post the explanations.  Spoiler Alert: Putin has Trump by the financial and criminal short and curlies.

James Comey’s Book: Comey’s kick and tell book came out Tuesday, but it was a partisan political football long before the official publication date, based on advance copies and Comey’s promotion tour.

I don’t read this books of  this genre – quick buck, tell all exploitation of current political events. I know exactly what they are going to say by who wrote it, and if there is anything new in one of them, it will be all over the news anyway. (I did start to read Al Franken’s memoir, AL FRANKEN: GIANT of the SENATE, because I knew it would be funny, which it is, but when he was sunk early by the sea change of the #MeToo Movement, I put it down, because what’s the point?

Comey’s book, and Comey himself, are being praised by many Democrats. Republicans, however, are universally smearing him to discredit Comey’s accounts of his conversations with Trump.

Much, but certainly not all, of what is in Comey’s  book holds together well, corresponding tightly and consistently with the contemporaneous notes he took about his meetings with Trump (which are now also released by the DOJ and leaked at the speed of light, as the FBI predicted would happen;  they were being given to politicians after all). I think Comey was being honest and accurate about Trump, and that most people sense it, which is why Republicans are trying to smear his reputation, since they can’t refute the compelling evidence.

But Comey destroyed his credibility with me long before Trump has tried by his handling of Hillary Clinton’s email “investigation.” Comey broke FBI and DOJ rules, protocols and guidelines, and I believe he did it deliberately, by his own choice, and/or under pressure from the FBI culture that surrounded him.

It was Comey, not the Russians, who cost Clinton the election. Americans don’t care a fig what Russia thinks or wants when we are voting. But we have (or had) a high regard for the word of the FBI, and Comey’s denouncements of Hillary, even as he was ostensibly absolving her, and releasing of a damning, and forged, it turned out, letter damaging to Clinton just before the election doomed her. Loretta Lynch should have fired Comey on the spot.

Some will say Lynch’s firing Comey would have made things worse. That Trump would have appointed someone worse than Comey and been able to do even more damage than he has done. I think not. If Comey had been fired and the reasons explained publicly, Clinton would have won the election, and we would have been spared all of this chaos. And even if Trump still had won, at least the DOJ would have done the right and honorable thing by maintaining its standards, protocols and integrity. As it is, we lost both ways.

Sean Hannity: What can I say? The man is a smarmy, lying, ultra-partisan pig part, whose journalism evokes Soviet era propaganda, and whose  behavior personifies conflict of interest. But let’s not dwell on his good qualities too much.

Hannity has defended Trump’s fixer-lawyer Michael Cohen viciously and incessantly on his TV show, about his (Cohen’s, not Hannity’s) arranging hush money payoffs to two women about sexual fun and games they had with Trump.

Cohen’s client list is very small – only three clients over the last year – and his practice seems to be very specialized, i.e., negotiating payoffs to clients’ sexual partners for their silence. To date, Cohen is known to have arranged such payoffs to strange for two of his three clients – Trump and Republican National Committee fundraiser Elliott Broidy. Here’s the good part.  Hannity, during all his public rants and smears and defense of Trump and Cohen, neglected to mention that he is Cohen’s third client!

I had hoped, in vain as it turns out, that when Rupert Murdock’s sons began taking over more of their dad’s business responsibilities, they would move Fox toward more traditional journalistic standards, or at least exhibit some shame. But not so far, and they are standing strong by Hannity.

It will be interesting to see how Fox will respond when we learn what Hannity’s business with Cohen was, and it will be learned. The current newspaper war will insure we find out. Journalists are on the trail as not seen since Nixon. Look at all the Pulitzers just handed out for their superb coverage of this bizarre administration. Bravo to the Fourth Estate.

Revisiting MLK’s 100th Anniversary: When Martin Luther King was murdered on April 4, 1968, I was 26 at the time, and it was the last straw for me, or so I thought. John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. The obscene Vietnam War was raging, and the one person I thought would end it was killed, squelching that dream. Then King was killed, bringing the depth of the country’s racial bigotry into unmistakably sharp relief.

It couldn’t get any worse, I thought, but within just a few months, Robert Kennedy was assassinated, which lead to the anti-war riots at the 1968 at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago (viciously, quasi-militarily suppressed by Chicago Mayor Richard Daily, as if we were living in East Berlin, not a major American Midwestern city).

The public thuggery at the convention, the growing revulsion at the war and the refusal of Hubert Humphrey to denounce it – which everyone knew he opposed – out of loyalty to Johnson, doomed his candidacy.

This gave us more years of war under Nixon, though he ran on a platform of ending the war (more than 58,000 American dead all told). These deaths don’t include the four unarmed students killed in the Kent State Massacre in May, 1970 by the Ohio National Guard for protesting Nixon’s widening the Vietnam War by bombing Cambodia.

Finally, Nixon’s treasonous violation of his sworn Constitutional oath, his resignation in August, 1974 and his, to me, unconscionable pardon by his successor Gerald Ford immediately, in September, capped of an era of true American carnage.

So, all this began with JFK’s assassination (well, our Vietnam War experience began earlier, under President Eisenhower in the 50s, but that’s another story of leadership malfeasance), two months after my 21st birthday and ended on the month of my 30th with Ford’s pardon of Nixon. Pretty formative years for me.

This period explains, I think, why I hate war, despise bigotry, distrust government, am revolted by corruption, try to respect Nature and don’t believe in good as ludicrously conceived and hypocritically worshiped by man.

Status of the States: It’s like NCAA Basketball tournament around here. States are vying desperately for the worst state cup, as if it’s a win or go home event. Don’t worry this week’s losers. You’ll have another shot weekly.

Scott Pruitt keeps Oklahoma in the competition weekly with his smarmy ways. Note: The New York Times published a lengthy piece on Pruitt’s shenanigans in Oklahoma before he came to Washington and after he got there, which exposes Pruitt’s corruption there on a scale worthy of earning him a berth on the Trump ship of fools. I don’t see how Pruitt can last much longer, but hey, I’ve been wrong before.

Texas finally popped the zit that is former U.S. House Representative Blake Farenthold, who resigned effective immediately just before release of a report by the House Ethics Committee that would accuse him of committing acts of sexual harassment and more with his office staff, and then settled with an  accuser with public (read our tax money) funds.

Oklahoma scored another goal in its battle for worst state when another inconceivably unqualified U.S. House Representative Jim Bridenstein (R-OK) was confirmed on a 50-49 party line vote to be administrator of the National Aviation and Space Administration (NASA). Bridenstein is the first elected official to run NASA. Usually NASA is run by a, you know, scientist. Bridenstein is about as far away from science as you can get. He is a climate change denier with absolutely no scientific credentials. Oh, and he hates gays.

One Democratic Senator opposed Bridenstein’s nomination because he said NASA could not be successful working with Congress with a partisan politician at its head, and Bridenstein is about as partisan as you can get. Reading between the lines, I think the Senator thinks the new NASA administrator is a flaming asshole, but I’m speculating, based only on his wingnut record in the House.

To be fair, this appointment reflects worse on the Senate than the candidate. How in the living Hell could it consent to such a patently unqualified candidate? Talk about abrogation of responsibility.

Which brings Arizona’s champion into the competition – the aptly named Senator Flake. Jeff Flake denounced Trump and his administration so vociferously that he alienated Trump’s base to the point Flake would have lost his primary and decided not to run again. That freed him up to speak his mind even more forcefully. I had high hopes for his last political acts. Instead, Flake has caved on vote after vote after vote to advance the Trump agenda, including his vote to approve Bridenstein. I just don’t get it, but it is disgusting and disappointing from a man who spoke so tough and caved so fast.

Kris Kobach, former Kansas Secretary of State, debunked voter fraud activist and head of Trump’s disgraced and dismantled voter fraud investigation task force, was held in Contempt of Court for failing to obey a judicial order on a voter registration case in Kansas. What a sweet guy.

Alabama’s Beauregard Jefferson Sessions is still Attorney General, which is credential enough for his state’s qualification to his week’s competition.

South Carolina’s claim on the cup is due to the prison riot at the Lee Correctional Facility, in which seven inmates were killed in what was apparently a turf war. Lee is a maximum-security facility, and all those there are bad guys, including, apparently, the guards. This facility, like all such in South Carolina, is understaffed, underfunded, and unprofessionally managed.

It’s tempting to give all the worst states the cup in a tie, but I can’t do that with South Carolina, because Nikki Haley did her job correctly at the U.N., and it was fun to watch her spin Larry Kudlow around like a cat on a string (boy, that simile dates me).

 

 

Thoughts on Events the Week of April 9

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on April 19, 2018

Speaker of the House is leaving the building: Paul Ryan, leader of the Republican-controlled U. S. House of Representatives, announced that he will not seek re-election in the 2018 mid-terms, guaranteeing that there will be a new Speaker next year, whichever party controls the House.

It is unusual for someone to give up that much power and authority without a fight. I suspect Ryan became sick of fighting with his own tempestuous caucus, and I think he calculates that Democrats might very well win back the House in the next election and he wouldn’t have any power or authority anyway. He may also calculate that he would lose his own House seat against Democratic challenger Randy Bryce.

Ryan, 48, has been a rising superstar in Republican politics. He is what passes in Republican circles for a “policy wonk,” because he can put a patina of rationale over the most mean-spirited, preposterous or patently obvious rip-offs of the poor and elderly, with a straight face.

Ryan can take credit for guiding the obscene $1.5 Trillion tax cut for the already too richest of our fellow countrymen through the House. But, when people begin to experience the consequences of that tax cut, he may not be able to show his face in public again… perhaps another reason he decided not to run.

Taxes are the primary source of revenue by our government is funded. Taxes are also essential in implementing and influencing public policy. But they also reflect where our hearts, our morals and our values lie.

Justice, individual rights and compassion are human concepts. They don’t exist in Nature. They don’t exist in Paul Ryan either. He is the author and champion of vicious attacks on the poor, elderly and minorities among us.

It’s said that Ryan didn’t want the job of Speaker of the House, and had to be coaxed into taking it. This could be true. Ryan was instrumental in driving his predecessor – John Boehner – to resign in frustration and disgust at his own party. Ryan knew what a miserable, difficult, unrewarding job it could be to lead the deeply fractured Republican House caucus.

Ryan only agreed to take the job when both Republican factions – the right and the wing nut right – promised to stop fighting and follow his lead. Here’s the delicious part: the Republican’s brilliant policy wonk is so stupid he actually believed them. The warring factions were at each other’s throats again, and Ryan’s, before he could swing his new gavel.

Somewhere in Ohio, Boehner is smoking a cigarette, sipping bourbon and chuckling. Except for the cigarette and Ohio parts, so am I. Ryan is a truly bad guy, and I am glad to see his career come to such an ignominious end.

Syria: President Assad gassed his own people, again, and President Trump fired a bunch of missiles into Syria, again. The whole episode was a Kabuki dance, except, of course, for those Syrian citizens killed by their own president in the gas attacks. Trump’s missiles accomplished nothing.

Our “position” regarding Syria remains the same as it has for years. We don’t know what is going on there. We don’t know what we are doing there. We don’t know what we want to accomplish there. We don’t know our friends from our enemies there. We don’t have a clue, and yet we dance on.

Revisiting Good Friday: We celebrated this “holiday” last week, and our schools, public buildings and many businesses were closed, at least in Arizona. I am adamantly opposed to a public celebration on this holiday, in the interest of separating church and state.

I don’t mind celebrating Easter (well, not me personally, but Christians), because it always falls on Sunday and doesn’t cause any harm then anyway. For others, it’s just another Sunday.

And, I don’t mind celebrating Christmas, because it, and all the other holidays celebrated around that time, are all descendants of the Winter Solstice, something genuinely worth celebrating. No harm, no foul.

But Good Friday is an expressly Christian event, with a little Judaism thrown in, I suppose, forced into our holiday calendar exclusively for Christians, and that is not as the Constitution intends. So, take your palm fronds and your Hosannas and celebrate with them at home, with my blessing. But leave the schools open. Closing the schools on Good Friday is a poor way to teach students the Constitution.

Status of the States: Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, is a stench that keeps on stinking. Among his most egregious abuses of the public financial trust is having installed a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility – called a SCIF for short in governmental jargon, and a Cone of Silence in episodes of the sitcom “Get Smart,” which anticipated this clown – in his own office, at a cost of around $43,000 of your and my money.

In practice, SCIFs are used by our military, national security and intelligence personnel to communicate sensitive, confidential or secret information securely. Although I can’t imagine why it would be needed, there is already a SCIF in the EPA building at Pruitt’s disposal, but he just had to have his own.

To add insult to injury with this abuse of the public trust, it turns out that Pruitt’s SCIF doesn’t even meet the SCIF standards, just like in “Get Smart,” so the $43,000 was a complete waste of our money.

To be fair to Pruitt, if I were constantly colluding with big business to roll back regulations that protect our environment but which business finds inconvenient, I probably wouldn’t want anyone to hear my conversations either. What a worst state cup-winning putz! He’s all yours, Oklahoma.

 

 

Thoughts on Events the Weeks of March 26 and April 2

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on April 14, 2018

I was so busy last week that I didn’t have time to produce thoughts on weekly events timely. But the topics this week are the same as last week (and so on and so on), with some new dollops of craziness poured on top. All of Trump’s weeks boil down to Russia, tariffs, immigration, corruption and scandal. So, this weekly blog is an aggregation of my thoughts on the basis of topic, not chronology.

Russia: President Trump called Russian President Putin to congratulate him on rigging his election, then asked Putin to come to his house for a play date, and maybe have a sleepover. Trump’s aides were stunned.

How must it feel to be an advisor to a fool who not only doesn’t listen to your advice, but tends to react to it in the opposite direction, and that this – being ignored or outright rejected – is the best you can expect from your employer? More typical is insult and termination. Also possible: subpoenas and prison.

Subsequently, after much refusal and stalling, and with tremendous pressure from the EU, Trump took his lips off Putin’s butt long enough to put some sanctions on Russia, though he told his aides not to make a federal case out of it (read don’t talk about it). Russia reciprocated.

Trump followed with personal sanctions on some of Putin’s cronies, a more meaningful sanction, atypical from him, which may or may not reflect the influence of a new hire. Trump’s default impulses toward Russia are fear and deference, but he has a new National Security Adviser-designate – John Bolton – who is barking mad, but who hates Russia. Awkward.

Tariffs: Lacking the most basic knowledge of international trade economics or policy, and misunderstanding the concept of trade deficits, Trump announced tariffs on more goods from China.

You’ll remember that Trump’s first announced tariff was on steel and aluminum, worldwide. Trump’s expressed target was China, but the tariffs were insignificant to China, from which we only import about 4% of our steel. The tariffs are very significant to Canada and Mexico, however, from where we get most of our steel imports. So, Trump exempted Canada and Mexico from the tariff, along with a lot of allies, with the result Trump’s tough tariff amounts to no tariff at all.

But this new one with China is serious, and it has been immediately reciprocated by China with tariffs on comparable amounts of our exports to China. A ratcheting up of tariffs has begun, which could lead to serious  economic trouble, but probably won’t, because Trump is bluffing, or so ill informed that when someone pours enough buckets of cold educational water on him, he will back down. What a putz!

Unlike Trump, China has targeted its tariff threats brilliantly, beginning with some targeted with surgical precision on the home states of Republican Congressional leaders McConnell and Ryan. In their subsequent escalation, China has threatened tariffs on many agricultural products – pork, soy beans, and the like – the very ones produced in Midwestern red states, by redneck Trump-voting farmers. Awkward.

While Trump was announcing tariffs, his Treasury Secretary was downplaying the possibility, and his shiny new TV-minted Director of the National Economic Council, Larry Kudlow, was saying they won’t happen. Each time Trump or Kudlow speak in opposite directions on the subject, the stock market gets whiplash.

Immigration: Trump went particularly dark and mean on immigrants, reacting, apparently, to the agitation expressed by his base and Fox News because the wall isn’t in the annual budget.

Trump declared an end to any hope for DACA Dreamers. He halted the DACA program himself about a year ago, gave the Congress six months to address it, and said if they didn’t, he would. Well, he has addressed it alright, with a complete betrayal.

The Dreamers are the clearly innocent bystanders in the immigration debate, and a large majority of voters want a solution found for them. Unfortunately, this majority doesn’t include any of Trump’s rabidly xenophobic base or Fox News.

A group of Central American refugees from violence in their own countries have apparently banded together on the road for mutual protection, to march to Mexico and seek asylum there or the U.S.

Hysterically xenophobic Fox News has inflated the group into a national security threat, saying this “caravan” is planning to march to the Mexico-U.S. border wall and do something terrible there, though it is hard to imagine what that might be. It would be hard for a “caravan” to sneak across the border. Someone would surely notice.

Trump, watching this truly manufactured story on Fox, and seeing how his ignorant base has been stirred up by it, jumped in on the threat mongering and is sending national guard troops to the border.

You rarely see such ludicrous, irrational demagogic overreaction in such vivid relief. The Terri Schiavo case comes to mind, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terri_Schiavo_case).

Among other irrational ironies involved, Trump sought and got $80 billion more dollars in the last budget to build up the military, and ever since has been frivolously pissing it away, ordering a preposterous parade and sending troops to stand on the border across from poor Central American refugees on the other side and do what, exactly? What a putz!

Corruption: On occasion, we find one weak willed or greedy individual committing corrupt acts. But in organizations, the tone and example is set not by the outlying behavior of an individual, but at the top, which determines the behavior of the deputies below.

This informs why so many of Trump’s deputies are being caught with their hands in the corruption cookie jar. They see their boss scooping up graft and emoluments, so they think it’s OK for them to do so too. This also informs why the Obama administration was so corruption free.

Trump is a total outlier on the corruption spectrum, but corruption in the U.S., and our attitudes toward it, have changed over time. In the 50s, President Eisenhower’s Chief of Staff Sherman Adams accepted a Vicuña coat from someone interested in doing business with the government and the government came to a standstill. Adams, a heretofore reputable public figure, was forced to resign immediately. (In his memoir, Nixon said he was the one who had to fire Adams, but that’s not true; it was Meade Alcorn, National Republican Chairman who fired Adams.)

Scandal: I don’t really consider it a scandal that President Trump had a roll in the hay with a porn star. But one could argue that it is a scandal that Stormy Daniels’ attorney is smarter than Trump’s entire legal team and is running rings around them.

In the meantime, Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, who paid Daniels $130,000 for no particular reason, with funds from no particular source, promises to keep this tryst on the front burner right up to the election, or Melania’s divorce filing, whichever comes first.

When this is over, Trump is going to wish he had just masturbated instead. As Woody Allen said, at least you’re having sex with someone you love.

Status of the States: Since I’m covering two weeks of cumulative thoughts, I will award two cups one to Arizona and one to Oklahoma – though unlike last week, both states deserve indictment.

Arizona, my own personal state at present, embarrassed itself when Joe Arpaio, convicted miscreant pardoned by Trump, who is running for U.S. Senate in the Republican primaries, told a conservative group that the reason he wants to get to the Senate is so he can prove that President Obama’s birth certificate is a fake and have him arrested.

Oklahoma’s shame, of course, is Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, who is doing his best to despoil the environment while leading the Trump cabinet is corruption accusations, which is really saying something.