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Thoughts on Events the Week of June 18

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on June 26, 2018

Baby shit hits the fan:  and it is splattering all over the Trump administration, which couldn’t happen to a more deserving group of people.

There is no need to reprise the disgraceful, unconscionable abuses of immigrants and their children that have been going on at our Southern border. It’s been in all the papers. Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy, and Attorney Jeff Sessions’ application of it, have monopolized the news and shifted public opinion throughout the country as nothing has since Trump was elected and installed his incompetent, xenophobic, bigoted, money grubbing cabinet.

The only silver linings in these despicable events are that: they seem to be shrinking Trump’s base, and, sadly, that they apparently are going to take quite a while to redress, so focus will be kept on them well toward the fall elections.

Those leaving the ship include suburban mothers and decent human beings. Still hanging tough with Trump so far are:

  1. White Supremacists. Motto: Make American white again. Well, it doesn’t have to be America any longer, just so long as it’s white.

To this group I would say, Sorry, but that ship has sailed.

  1. Evangelicals: Motto: We must save these babies from abortion so they can be snatched from their mothers’ arms.

To this group I say: You are the sorriest Christians on the planet.

About these minors taken from their parents and removed across state lines, might some federal law or laws have been broken, like, say, child abduction, child abuse or kidnapping?

And if these children cannot be found and returned to their parents – and there are bound to be at least some such cases – wouldn’t these parents have grounds to sue the federal government for something serious, like, say, child abduction and perhaps black site detention?

I assume that when the Trump administration rescinded the family separation policy, with the gun of public outrage at its head, it did so in hopes this whole thing would then settle down and go away, but I don’t think that’s going to happen soon. There are just too many unsettled issues.

And what is all this costing us, anyway? Not just the obvious costs to our standing in the world and our moral fiber, but actual dollars. I’ll bet it’s a ton.

It was said by some reporters interviewed on MSNBC that Jeff Sessions and Stephen Miller had been planning this kind of deterrent strategy for years, long before Trump has been in office, which has been almost a year and a half. If that is the case, the chaos we are seeing now suggests either utter incompetence, or people driven by such xenophobic impulse to have driven forward without thought or care. It’s probably a mixture of both, but either answer alone is distressing.

Update: On Friday, it was learned that the toddler in the now iconic image that triggered such outrage about children being separated from their parents was not actually one of those separated, and Republicans tried to have a field day about this “fake news,” which is ludicrous, but I don’t think anybody is buying it. The toddler, if not a true case, is symbolic of the scandal. I don’t hear any Republicans denying that at least 2,300 children have been separated, which is the salient point.

Remembering Kate Slade: I don’t remember Slade. In fact, I never heard of her until she hanged herself, which was a reminder how out of touch I am with current popular culture. (This is why I never score 100% on the New York Times’ weekend news quiz. It always has a question or two about this kind of stuff.)  I try to keep up, but the pop culture stuff, which is inevitably short lived and ephemeral, just doesn’t seem to register with me anymore. But it is definitely a blind spot in my overall perspective.

North Korea: Speaking of remembering, has anyone heard a word about nuclear negotiations recently? Last time we tuned in, Trump had given up military exercises with South Korea unilaterally to please North Korea, getting nothing return, and we haven’t heard a peep since. Photo op’s over. Time to move on.

Person of Interest:  Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary of Homeland Security. Nielsen is the ideal Secretary for the Trump cabinet. She lies like Trump, she is as mean spirited as Attorney General Sessions, she is as stupid as Education Secretary DeVos and Education Secretary Rick Perry, and she is as clueless about her department as HUD Secretary Ben Carson.

Like so many Trump loyalists, Nielsen spoke for Trump and then was left twisting in the wind by him.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Secretary_of_Homeland_Security

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

Thoughts on Events the Week of June 11

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on June 18, 2018

Singapore Summit: President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met here to discuss denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, whatever that means to them, respectively. The spoken and written words at this point mean nothing. Trump’s statement after the brief meeting that the nuclear problem with North Korea was “largely solved,” illustrates just how ludicrously meaningless those words were.

Trump promised us “complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization.” Kim promised the same thing, as he has a dozen times previously, and reneged every time. He also promised not to steal the towels from the Singapore hotel when he left.

The only way to judge the value of this meeting, and any that may follow, is the actual results, and, from my view, how they compare to the Iran nuclear deal Trump discarded.

Trump announced immediately after the meeting that he was suspending joint military exercises with South Korea – he called them war games and provocative, parroting North Korea’s characterizations. He also stated that he would like to pull down U.S. troops in South Korea, because the cost a lot of money. (I wonder how State and Defense Secretaries Pompeo and Mattis, and National Security Advisor Bolton, feel about this.)

It is patently premature to part with the military exercises, and it would be  pure folly to pull down the troops, much as I too would like to see it eventually, unless and until something really meaningful comes out of the negotiations, and frankly, I don’t think anything sufficiently meaningful will. North Korea is never going to give up its nukes, and we need to understand that and manage the situation accordingly, as we do with Pakistan, another sorry state with nukes.

To make those reductions otherwise would hand South Korea, a functioning, flourishing democracy over to North Korea. At this point, Trump seems prepared to trade two successful, functioning democratic allies – South Korea and Japan – for one totalitarian state. What a deal maker!

If I were Japan, I would quickly acquire nuclear weapons, with the ironic result that there would be nuclear proliferation rather than reduction from Trump’s brilliant negotiating. (Also, Japan might point some of the nukes at us for hanging them out to dry, and I wouldn’t blame them. Just kidding.)

I would also remind South Korean President Moon that he wanted this. I wonder what Moon is thinking about it now that Trump is already giving away the candy…Moon’s candy.

One thought about the summit. There may have been no technical experts or seasoned diplomats at the meeting, but there were clearly experts in stagecraft, which is most important to Trump, and, I suspect, to Kim also. The Trump-Kim Barnum and Bailey Circus, which is all it is right now, was a colorful show.

Correction, or more accurately a comeuppance: I was premature, or more accurately downright uninformed and naïve to think converting the armistice to a peace treaty would be insignificant, as I did last week. Apparently, for diplomatic purposes, it is a real big deal.

Sudden Thought: If not in and around South Korea, perhaps we should be conducting military preparation exercises in Alaska, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Washington, the 13 states that border Canada, to prepare for an attack or invasion, since president says Canada is a national security risk? Let’s face it, our president is a liar and a fool.

Inspector General’s report: In a nutshell, the I.G. report stated the obvious. The Justice Department behaved properly and reached the correct conclusion that Hillary Clinton committed no prosecutable crime, but that James Comey made terribly bad judgements handling the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails, and was insubordinate in discussing them in public.

(FBI agents Peter Strzok and his squeeze Lisa Page also used incredibly bad judgment exercising their First Amendment rights by criticizing, on the company’s email server, a person whose activities they were investigating, although they did nothing improper in the actual investigation. In my view, they should be fired for plain stupidity.)

Comey should also have been fired, but not by Trump. Trump’s firing of Comey was obstruction of Justice, by his own admission. Comey should have been fired by then Attorney General Loretta Lynch the moment he spoke publicly about the investigation in the way he did.

It is my firm belief that Comey, not the Russians, stole the election from Clinton, although the Russians were clearly trying.

There is supreme irony here. If Lynch had fired Comey, Comey wouldn’t have been around for Trump to fire, and the whole Russian special counsel investigation might never have begun.

For the record, despite what Trump has said about this report letting him off the hook regarding Russia, this report had absolutely nothing to do with the Russian investigation and said nothing about it one way or the other. The report was strictly about Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Person of Interest:  Paul Manafort. The erstwhile manager of Trump’s presidential campaign is in jail, and it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. Already indicated on several criminal charges and awaiting trial, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson found probable cause Manafort had engaged in witness tampering while out on bail and she revoked it. Manafort can appeal, but I don’t think much of his odds. Good for her, good for us, good for justice. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Manafort)

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

I’ll just note in passing that Texas is the epicenter of the administration’s program of separating children from their parents at the border. And does former Alabama Senator and now Attorney General Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions really have that many friends in the Senate anymore?

 

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).