What I’m Seeing in the Personal Economy

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on July 31, 2018

I wrote recently about the two economies: the macro economy, of interest only to students of economics, policy makers and fat cats; and the personal economy, of interest to people with daily lives. Several months ago, I began seeing something in town that I hadn’t seen in quite a while: Help Wanted signs in store windows. This was the first tangible evidence that the recovery from the Great Recession President Bush inflicted on us was finally being felt in the personal economy and not just the macro one.

Three byproducts associated with this increase in labor demand also became apparent.

First, sensing, I think, that the average consumer would see a little visible lift in his or her paycheck at the beginning of the year due to Trump’s tax cuts, many businesses took the opportunity to raise prices effective then. This happened with every one of my utility bills, for instance.

Second, wages began to rise, just perceptibly, not anything like what economists would predict at our current level of employment and this deep into a recovery.

This increase is due in part to some local and state government-mandated minimum wage increases. These increases to minimum wages are not very large, certainly not large enough to make a truly significant difference in people’s lives, but they were real and visible.

It’s understandable why wages haven’t risen as much as might be expected after this recovery. Most of the new jobs are low skilled ones, going to less educated workers. You can understand why employers would not want to pay such workers a lot for doing simple jobs.

This problem will remain intractable until we have more education and training of low skilled labor, and truly significant increases in minimum wages. Not the piss ant ones we have now, but something a person could actually live on.

I would like to see a graduated minimum wage, topping out to a family of four. Single people get one wage, married couples get more, a family with one child gets more still, and then minimum wage maxes out at two children. We don’t want to encourage too large families. (Maybe this will put pressure on the abortion debate.)

Third, the Fed, one of whose roles is to worry about inflation, has started raising interest rates. Trump doesn’t like this, and said so publicly, something a president  should never do, but he is wrong, if that’s not being redundant. (Trump speaks; he is wrong or he is lying.  Ergo, redundant.) Inflation steals buying power from paychecks. It should be controlled.

Another proven theft of buying power is tariffs. They are a tax on income in the form of higher prices, which hit hardest on the working classes. Trump is tossing tariffs around like Skittles at Angela Merkel.

It is just beginning to dawn on Midwestern farmers – particularly soybean growers and pork producers, but ultimately all of us – that Trump’s tariffs are threatening their livelihoods. And the idea of handing out (pitifully inadequate) welfare checks to compensate farmers for big losses they wouldn’t be experiencing if the tariffs hadn’t been imposed in the first place, is not only stupid, but can’t sit well with legislators who have to explain the logic of it to their constituents.

On the Macro Economy side, unemployment is low and GDP is growing. These are good things, but the distribution of benefits of them are inequitable, as Trump knew they would be. Despite his campaign promises, he deliberately gave all the money to his rich friends, who have tossed a little down to workers, as John D. Rockefeller tossed dimes to children in Detroit. A lot of people are looking at these numbers and thinking why are they not feeling any of this.

(One worrisome detail in the macro economy is that the vast majority of growth in stock market value is coming from fewer than 10 stocks, one of which – Facebook – is in investor doo doo. It’s a lot of eggs in very few baskets.)

The economy has been temporarily hyper-stimulated by Trump’s tax cuts, but even after benefits to the personal economy have run through the system, which economists say will occur sometime in late 2019, the overall economy should still be OK. However, Trump’s policies can undermine it some, and they sure as hell aren’t doing anything for the people he promised to help and who were dumb enough to believe him.

Thoughts on Events the Week of July 23

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on July 29, 2018

The Russians: Some Republicans think it might not look so good for their president to be kissing Putin’s ring in the U.S. Capitol so close to the mid-term elections. Duh. So, their leaders – McConnell (Senate) and Ryan (House) – persuaded Trump to postpone his invitation to Putin to visit until after the New Year (read elections). The argument McConnell may have used was, “Are you out of your goddamn mind!?” An obviously wise decision, but rare for Republicans to cross their godhead like that.

Meanwhile, the meeting between Russians and Trump campaign people, including Trump relatives, persists in the news, because it smells so much like, you know, collusion. Liberals are throwing around words such as criminal and impeachment, which is nonsense. Until Robert Mueller speaks, and depending on what he finds, this is irresponsible.

That said, it did feel like the flame under the pot of water in which the frog who is our president stews, got turned up just a bit this week.

The FBI arrested Maria Butina, a Russian agent and National Rifle Association groupie for being what she is. (Those Ruskies. They really knew where to look to find people dumb enough to buy into Trump.)

The Russians want Butina back, but not the NRA. They know big trouble when they see it, and they have been hiding silently under the refrigerator since she was tagged.

If Butina brings down the NRA, and it results in much better gun laws and many fewer guns, it all may have been worth it, by which I mean the Russian meddling. Nothing is worth having Trump as president. I don’t think the Russians won the election for Trump; Comey did. But the Russians can’t be allowed to do that anymore.

Tariffs: The inevitable pain induced by trade wars is starting to become apparent to Midwestern Trump voters, especially those who grow soybeans and raise pigs. Feeling the heat, the frog is promising a $12 Billion bailout to help alleviate the pain the farmers are experiencing, which pain Trump created in the first place. Not only is the bailout woefully inadequate, it wouldn’t have been necessary if Trump hadn’t started the tariff tit for tat, but welfare is, or was, anathema to the Republican Party. Are any Republicans starting to see the dawning light? Too soon?

In the realm of sane world trade, the EU and Japan moved on from Trump and made a pact between them, eliminating $1.2 Billion in tariffs on automobiles going either way, and leaving American auto workers to re-think their Trump votes.

Finally, Trump announced a deal with the EU to halt the tariff tiff between them at the status quo, and work to lower trade barriers even further, which will require longer term thinking, not Trump’s strong suit.

The irony in this Trump reversal is that this deal is precisely what President Obama was working on (pre Trump’s tariffs) with the EU, and until now Trump has rejected everything Obama ever did or said. Remember when Trump said trade wars are easy and he would win them all? No light yet?

Meanwhile, Trump still has the Chinese tariff tiger by the tail, and China isn’t purring. That tariff problem will hurt America a lot more than any of the other Trump tariff screw ups. It will hurt China, too, probably even more than us, but then China doesn’t have to hold elections.

Ineligible monsters: Experiencing a backlash even this administration could recognize as big trouble over its policy of separating children and parents crossing the border to seek asylum, the Trump administration seems to have worked hard to try to reunite the families before the court ordered deadline last Thursday. Some 1,440 children have been reunited with their parents, or about 56% of the acknowledged 2,500 separated. Good effort, but no cigar. That leaves about 1,100 children in the wind.

The government says 463 of the remaining children can’t be reunited because their parents were deported without them! Another 711, the government – using obviously scrambled numbers – says are “ineligible to be returned.” What the hell does that even mean? Just what is an ineligible child?

So, what should happen next? I have some thoughts:

First, the judge should tell Attorney General Sessions to get his bigoted butt down to Mexico, find those parents and bring them back to the U.S. to re-unite them with their children and re-adjudication of their cases, and stay there until his department finds them all.

Second, explain who, and exactly why each of the 711remaining children are “ineligible to be returned,” and the explanations better be damn good ones.

Third, put on hold all such deportations until further notice, hire a lot more judges to adjudicate refugee status claims timely instead of pissing away a bunch of money on temporary prisons, and give each refugee claimant adequate access to an ACLU or other attorney for counsel.

Finally, redefine “ineligible” to comprise the inconceivably barbaric, unfeeling, incompetent people responsible for this cock-up in the first place, to be “ineligible for public service.”

Football: I have long maintained that Jerry Jones is the best owner in the NFL, but this week, he did something incredibly stupid. He said any Cowboy who takes a knee during the national anthem will be cut. We know this is credibly stupid for two reasons. First, Trump praised Jones for it, and second, because Jones won’t do it. Sure, if some player far down the roster were to kneel, he might get cut, but if Ezekiel Elliot of Dak Prescott, for instance, did, they wouldn’t be, and then Jones would be in a pickle.

I actually sympathize with the owners just a little bit over this issue, because the players represent the team and the league on the field. You can understand why they would want to protect that investment, but they are going about it all wrong. NFL guys, do like colleges do: play the national anthem before the teams come onto the field.

Then, work with the players union to create and sponsor the NFL “Fund for Social Justice” to help poor minorities with discrimination legal cases. Problem solved. Jesus.

Hotel Trump: News that a federal judge is letting the emoluments suit against at least the Trump Hotel in D.C. go forward brought to mind that James Carville and I have the same prediction how Trump will most likely leave office: He’ll just quit.

Person of Interest: I’m going back to John Bolton, who broke the land speed record for doing a back flip through his own asshole, turning himself inside out on his position on Russia since joining the Trump administration. The life-long Russia hawk now says the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, which we, and he, know is a proven thing, is a “witch hunt.” What a suck up.

Status of the States: Alabama gets the cup this week, and maybe for a while until the immigration family debacle is resolved, because Sessions is from there.

Those were the Weeks that Were

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on July 26, 2018

It has been a genuinely awful couple of weeks for America, and still no inkling that any of Trump’s base is budging (though some may be slinking away silently, which doesn’t mean they won’t slip back and vote when the election comes).

This still confounds me. I had thought the base would hate Communism (read Russia) almost as much as they hate abortion, at least some of them. But it doesn’t seem to bother them that Trump is plainly in bed with Russia, which is our enemy, though it would not be a very significant one – more of an annoyance, really – except that Putin is pulling our president’s pants down in public, and Trump is letting him. Lett’s recap the last couple of weeks:

One the first Monday (poignantly coincidental in this instance) Trump announced his nominee to replace Kennedy on the Supreme Court – Brett Kavanaugh – about whom I have little to say except that he worked with Ken Starr, which is automatically disqualifying.

The most intriguing thing about this nomination is that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell fairly screamed to Trump that two of his four final candidates – Kavanaugh and the crazy church lady – would be more difficult to get confirmed than the other two.  So, of course Trump picked Kavanaugh.

Then Trump went to Brussels and smeared our NATO allies there. First, he slammed them for not meeting the defense spending goals in time, which they already agreed to try to do on a deadline that hasn’t even arrived yet, and then snarled that their target should be double what was agreed to. He was being a real dick.

But this quarrel misses the point completely. We, especially America, is already spending obscenely too much on defense. We should be cutting our defense spending and putting the money into much more positive pursuits.

(Suggestion for reducing expenses of the Veterans Administration: quit getting us into pointless, stupid, expensive wars. Fewer wars, fewer casualties.)

Then Trump went to Britain and pulled the rug from under Prime Minister May, who has her hands full dealing with her equivalent of the Trump base, who, in their ignorance, are screwing their country with their own xenophobia. He was an ugly American houseguest.

Trump opined he is very popular in Britain, though polls shows he has an 11% approval rating there. He is so unpopular, it was deemed unsafe to let him go into London. It wouldn’t have killed him, but his ego would have been mortally wounded to see the Baby Trump balloon and hear the boos. If you can’t stand the heat, you’re Trump.

Trump kept the Queen waiting and then walked in front of her, both of which are faux pas.  I don’t care about the monarchy, but I do care about sending a boor to do a president’s job.

Next to Russia, where we were treated to the breathtaking spectacle of seeing a United States president cowering before and mewing over Putin, taking the word of that lying president over the entire U.S. intelligence community.

The press asked Trump in advance of the trip if he would Putin about Russia’s interference in our 2016 election, and Trump said he would. Bullshit! Bullshit to the press for even asking such a lame question of Trump, and bullshit to Trump for saying he would ask. We don’t need to ask. We know. To ask is ludicrous. Putin clearly has Trump by the scrotum.

Everyone is ringing their hands over what Putin and Trump talked about for two hours alone, and worrying that we will never know, because Trump isn’t saying. But, we’ll know. We’ll know when we see what Trump actually does now, and/or when Putin tells us.

While all this was going on, a joint committee of the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees did a good impression of both a McCarthy hearing and a Dean Martin roast, of Peter Strzok, the FBI agent who foolishly emailed his distain of Donald Trump on a company email server.

There were no highlights to this hearing, only lowlights. The House Republican Mendacity triplets – Jim Johnson, Trey Gowdy and the idiot son Louis Gohmert, achieved personal records in hypocrisy, venom and abuse of authority.

Gowdy, for instance, insisted that the Special Prosecutor should hurry up and bring his investigation to a close. This from the man who strung seven investigations of Hillary Clinton and the Benghazi attacks together without learning a single new thing from one to the next.  Johnson took time away from his own scandal at Ohio State, from which I don’t expect him to recover – Hail, Columbus – to spew non-factual smears.

To my delight, and somewhat to my surprise, Strzok took no crap from these guys, and exposed them for what they were – McCarty wannabes, only with less charm.

The following Monday, Trump, reading from a prepared script (you always know Trump doesn’t mean what he says when he reads a script, because he didn’t write it), walked back his Putin pandering with a ludicrous explanation of a misspoken contraction, then, as predicted, walked back his walk back.

Meanwhile, on a serious side of the world, the EU and Japan, moving on from Trump and the U.S., announced a trade deal regarding automobiles, which means Trump has screwed both American automakers and American workers who build foreign automobile brands in the U.S.

Meanwhile, American soy bean and pork producing farmers woke up to the fact that Trump’s tariffs are screwing them like tied goats. Stay tuned to the reaction to that one.

The curtain of charity on this time period come down as Trump indicates he wants to invite Putin to yet another summit in Washington, and Republican lawmakers up for election this fall lost their lunch. Don’t worry. Putin won’t come. He already has everything he needs from Trump for now, and he doesn’t want to be in Washington when stuff starts hitting the fan.

To quote Cynthia, “I need a news fast.”

Thoughts on Events the Week of July 9

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on July 18, 2018

This has been the worst week in Trump’s presidency for America and for me, though for me, the worst has nothing to do with Trump. Cynthia died peacefully in her sleep Sunday night, and all else seems totally unimportant to me right now.

Some thoughts will form, eventually, about other events this week (actually two weeks), but for now, I’m just not ready, able or interested.

Baseball: is a very small ingredient in the thin sports gruel that sustains me between football seasons. I used to watch an occasional game involving the Texas Rangers, but they are apparently so bad this year that they don’t even rate television time this year.

The best thing I can say about baseball is that you can sit in a pleasant environment – green grass – with friends and a beer – and be confident that nothing is likely to happen on the field to interrupt your conversation.

To illustrate how out of touch I am with this sport, in the run-up to the All-Star game, the Sunday New York Times listed the 64 players – 32 for each league – elected or selected to the rosters this year and I had only even of three of them. Note: one of those three is a catcher named Molina, and I’m not even sure he is the same Molina I used to know who catches (caught?) for the Cardinals a while ago.

I probably won’t watch the All-Star game. I haven’t watched the last three, nor any game of the last two World Series, that I can remember. I always think I will, but then I don’t.

Person of Interest: Miles Mikolas, the most interesting side story of the All-Star game. The NYT points out that the 29 year old pitcher is aptly named, because he has traveled many miles in his baseball career, from team to team, from majors to minors, from country to country.

The St. Louis Cardinals saw something, brought him back from Japan and hit the jackpot. Miklos is having an All-star season with the Cardinals this year and is on the National League roster for All-Star game.

Nice story. I’m happy for Miles, but I still doubt I’ll watch the game.

Update: I just read that Mikolas missed the game because he went home to be with his wife as she gave birth to twins. That’s still a happy ending, right?

Status of the States: I’m just not interested in what’s going on in any of them.

Thoughts on Events the Week of July 2

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on July 8, 2018

Melting ICE: The idea of abolishing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency currently proposed by many knee jerk liberals is a poor idea and a shiny bobble exactly like the ones President Trump likes to throw out to distract voters from the truth, only this one is self-inflicted by Democrats themselves.

Abolishing ICE to improve immigration management is like firing the hangman to stop capital punishment. Let’s just say, to be polite to knee jerk liberals, it’s not a complete solution.

ICE is just a small part of the brain freeze of the Bush Administration, which scrambled and compressed and expanded and created new departments while running around in circles trying to act like it was doing something about terrorism in response to 9/11, while it was primarily just wetting itself. ICE does need reform, but so does the entire bloated Homeland Security debacle.

True, ICE does some things it has no business doing – separating immigrant parents and their children at the border, and menacing established, hard-working, peaceable illegal immigrants. But ICE also does some things that need to be done, like catch and deport illegals who are truly criminal.

ICE needs to be better directed to be sure, and made to stop in its tracks from hassling immigrant families, which many of its force seem to be doing too happily. This should be done sooner than immediately. But abolishment, if needed ultimately, can await the reform of the whole money pit that is Homeland Security.

July 4th: If I remember my history book correctly, we celebrate this day as the anniversary of when George Washington chopped down a cherry tree and threw it into the Potomac. It’s hard to keep historical and civics facts straight, because what’s written in the texts bears so little resemblance to what is happening in Washington today.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a woman whose salary we pay to lie to us for a living, and which she does so willingly, said that I need to decide if I love my country more than I hate this President. I’m thinking. I’m thinking.

If she is talking about Trump’s version of America, I hate that America more than I hate Trump, which is really saying something. If she if referring to the traditional version of America, I love it more than I hate Trump.

Ass Kissing Exercises: Though Trump suspended joint military exercises with South Korea, he sent a delegation of Republican Senators to Moscow on a practice ass kissing exercise with Yesterday’s Man, Vladimir Putin, prior to meeting him later this month.

Presumably, the Senators will provide intelligence to Trump, such as which of Putin’s cheeks is smoother, and  which knee, or both, Putin would like Trump to be kneeling upon when he kisses Putin’s ass, and whether or not Putin wants Trump’s hands on his hips or behind Trump’s back while doing his kissing.

The intelligence gained will be second hand, however, because the Senators, having traveled all the way to Moscow for the meeting, were told Putin was too busy to see them. How embarrassing was that?

I find this whole thing so odd. Republicans used to be seriously skeptical of Russia, but now they are puckering up like Trump, who Putin clearly has by the short and curlies, without a whimper. Seeing Republican Senator Richard Shelby there in Moscow, so obsequious with his comments, was just wrong on so many levels.

The NFL also gets on its knee for Trump: Speaking of being on your knees, NFL owners went down on their knees in front of Trump over the player protest issue, and now they have a real mess on their hands.

I sympathize, mildly, with owners for trying to protect their product and their investment, and for having to suffer Trump’s using them to stir his base, but there are ways out of their predicament better than what they are planning, which is only asking for more trouble and greater player, and some fan, resentment.

I was reminded – this is not my original thought – that at college football games, teams come onto the field AFTER the national anthem is played. Sounds like an easy fix for the NFL to adopt.

Another option would be to do away with the pre-game National Anthem altogether – it’s an unnecessary exercise in faux patriotism – but that would probably play into Trump’s hands, so that idea will have to wait for another, more enlightened time.

Justice, law of the jungle variety: Some rhino poachers were eaten by lions on a South African game reserve, and it couldn’t have happened to a nicer bunch of two or probably three guys. Their remains were discovered near the pride. When the suspects were questioned, the lions said, “Burp,” and lawyered up.

Person of Interest: John Bolton, Trump’s National Security Advisor, and a man who is truly barking mad. Bolton’s default position is regime change. He wants to nuke everybody. We haven’t had anyone this bellicose in a position of authority since Curtis Lemay (Google him). Bolton makes John McCain look like a pacifist.

Bolton must be conflicted right now. He was ecstatic when Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal with Iran. Bolton wanted to nuke Iran, but he had to settle with what he got.

However, Bolton also wants to nuke North Korea and Russia, and here he is, like everyone else who loses his soul working for Trump, smiling and supporting Trump’s giveaways and genuflections to Bolton’s other two primary nemeses. Plus, Bolton wants regime change in Syria, and Trump is making noises like he going to hand Syria to Russia. Choke on it, Bolton.

Note: as this went to press, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo limped back from North Korea trying lamely to perfume Trump’s pig of a deal with North Korea after it was exposed for what we all knew it was. Bolton must be chewing on his own liver. I’ll write this up on next Sunday’s blog.

Status of the States: EPA Director Scott Pruitt resigned this week, demonstrating that, contrary to all previous evidence, there is a level of corruption up with which the administration will not put…excluding by Trump himself, of course. Pruitt’s resignation lets Oklahoma off the hook as worst state.

The cup, therefore, goes to Alabama, based on Senator Shelby’s humiliating performance in Moscow. Can Alabamans really be as fond of Russia as their Senator?

Question: If you promise to drain a swamp, and then you actually add a whole lot of alligators to it, and then remove one really ugly, smarmy gator, can you claim credibly that you are draining the swamp?

Diary Entry: The average date of the first rainfall to occur in the Monsoon season in this region of Arizona is July 6. Sure enough, on Friday, our first shower came, right on schedule. It was a light one, but it was enough to give hope and relief to the flora and fauna that have been waiting through a particularly dry winter, spring and early summer.

Thoughts on Events the Week of June 25

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on July 1, 2018

Due Process: President Trump suggested we should deny due process to those wanting to cross our border from the South. This one really pisses me off.

I like my right to due process. Due process is among the most important pillars of our Constitution.  It’s so important, it is expressed in not one but two of our Amendments – the fifth and 14th. Remember this about due process: if it can be denied to one, it can be denied to anyone.

I think it was Thomas Moore who said something to the effect that if you brush aside all the laws to get at the devil and then the devil turns on you, behind what will you hide? The short answer is due process.

Our prick of a president will be glad to have due process one day soon, I suspect, and he, in my view among the most undeserving, must have it, because if he can’t have it then none of us can.

Justice Kennedy resigned from the Court: I’ve never thought much of Kennedy on the bench. He had no grounded legal philosophy. He was a gadfly.

As the proverbial “swing vote,” which he enjoyed too much, he paled ghostly in comparison to his predecessor in that role – Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

In retrospect, one of the mistakes our Founding Fathers made in writing the Constitution was to appoint Supreme Court Justices for life. It was done to protect them from political pressure, which is a good idea, but “for life” is too imprecise a term. In 1789, life expectancy was a mere 36 years! The FFs couldn’t foresee a Court filled septuagenarians, octogenarians and even – like the Notorious RBG – a nonagenarian.

A Supreme Court term should be set for a finite period of time, say 10 years, the length of two presidential terms, plus two, which assures some overlap.

Keep in mind that the Supremes are somewhat isolated from the general public, and we generally become more conservative as we age (though I haven’t). Kennedy was an extremely hidebound man in his last year or two on the Court. He voted with the conservative majority in every 5-4 decision in the Court’s last term, which ended Friday. He is clearly out of touch with the times, with the notable exception, it must be admitted to individual rights.  In most other regards, he lagged a century, even two, behind.

I, like everyone else paying attention, have some thoughts on the political as well as judicial implications of Kennedy’s retiring. I’ll write them down in the next week or two.

Harley Davidson moves on: The iconic motor cycle company is moving some of its operations out of the U.S. to avoid the retaliatory tariffs the EU has placed on it in response to Trump’s impulsive, ill-advised tariff initiation. It is really pissing Trump off, which is fun, but the only good thing about it. It is, in fact, a cautionary event, and perhaps a harbinger of the kind of thing that can happen when trade wars erupt, which easily get out of hand.

I doubt this move was made solely for the reason Harley stated. The U. S. is a mature market for Harley. Every redneck has one. Its growth potential is abroad, and it has competitors. It made a practical business decision that may well have occurred with or without the tariffs. Harley certainly wasn’t going to let Trump screw things up for it by adding a couple thousand dollars to the price of a Harley in foreign markets, Trump and his base be damned.

Person of Interest: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who ousted Democratic incumbent Congressman Joe Crowley in New York’s 14th District in the state’s recent primary elections. Crowley is an out of date fossil, but still it took a perfect storm of circumstances for Ocasio-Cortez to win. She is a relative unknown, and making her first bid for elective office. This was an improbable upset.

But, I have listened to her speak several times, and she is obviously extremely intelligent, eloquent and a very mature thinker for a 28 year old. She is a social democrat, a political philosophy close to my own. I hope the best for her.

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

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.

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. (

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.