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What will it take to break the fever?

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on August 16, 2018

Forget about achieving bipartisanship. What will it take to end the febrile animosity between the parties enough to get something, anything, constructive, logical, and reasonably farsighted done?

I’m not even sure where all this began, but I have a theory. Some say it began with the Vietnam War; some say the murders of the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King, Jr.; and some point to Nixon and the Watergate scandal, all of which damaged our trust in our institutions, and they should have.

The Roe v Wade decision in 1973 certainly animated religious conservatives.

“Women’s lib” unsettled a lot of misogynistic, self-satisfied males. Then there’s income inequality, which began up-ticking circa 1980, when President Reagan told us greed is good, and many were stupid enough to believe him.

Some think it’s the dawning on us of the realities of (inevitable) globalization. President Clinton’s alpha male indiscretions off put many, even though he was a popular, successful president, and somehow this offense was transferred over to his wife, who has suffered for it.

And, of course, the flashpoint today is fear of the increase of Hispanics in the country and their influence on our culture.

But we’ve had all of these issues before – turmoil over wars, poor presidents, economic disruption and scandal (remember the Gilded Age?) and immigration fears – without such fever for so long.

The answer seems to me that these events were as kindling piled one piece on another over time, which were ignited by the election of Barak Obama. A black man in the white house was the last straw for some people.

The resulting revulsion put an egregiously unqualified man in the white house instead, one deplored by the majority but adored by a base of very angry people. A big chuck of this base, demographically, are white, uneducated males and their mates and, to put mildly and politely, religious conservatives (read wingnuts). In other words, the base got one of its own, or at least someone who talked and acted like one.

It is clear to me that I am a part of the problem. I do not respect these people. I don’t like ignorance, particularly determined ignorance; or bigotry, or misogyny, or xenophobia. I just don’t like people who think like that – in fact, I loathe and despise them – and I look down on them, which they obviously sense and resent from people like me.

That said, there is no doubt that both major political parties have failed these fellow citizens. But they have also failed themselves, particularly in regard to education.

Most civil wars – for that is what this vicious polarization has become – end from exhaustion. Both sides just wear themselves out fighting to the death over every little issue, however trivial, until things just melt down. (Frankly, I’m pretty sure that most people don’t really want this nonsense to continue any longer, already.)

Maybe that will happen here, but I’m skeptical it will happen soon. I anticipate a reaction to the antics of the current administration in November, but if that occurs, it won’t make Trump’s base any less angry. Channeling Punxsutawney Phil, it will just forecast six more years of contention.

But by then, I think something else will occur to alter our distasteful stalemate: the demographic shift that is already well underway, inexorable, and irreversible, will begin to swamp the current reactionary thrust. Politicians will recognize it and react to it or perish, just as they did when blacks became a dominant voting population in the south.

The Trump administration and its minions, especially Fox News, conflate immigration and “illegal” immigration to stoke xenophobic impulses. So called “illegal” immigrants can’t vote. They are no threat to politicians, only a convenient target. Immigrant citizens, on the other hand, are a growing, necessary fact, and I do not think they – legal, voting immigrants – will forget how they are being characterized by Republicans today, for a long time. (Likewise, I think Republican black voters will be counted on the fingers of one hand forever after Trump. Ditto, Asians.)

We need immigrants. We need skilled immigrants and unskilled one, and we sure as hell aren’t going to attract them from Norway. First, there aren’t enough Norwegian immigrants to meet our demand (though there were many in the 1800s). And second, who in his right mind would migrate here from Norway in this political environment? On the other hand, I would move there in a heartbeat myself if it weren’t so damn cold.

When we were in college together, a dear friend opined that he would be glad when we are all the same shade of brown. He has forgotten that observation, but I remember it vividly, and I understand and agree with his sentiment, which was to see an end to racial turmoil.  But I don’t want us all to be the same shade. It’s too monotonous, not to mention monotone. I welcome the diversity, now more than ever, and I think that, in the long term, it will ultimately break the fever.

Our Democracy under stress

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on July 27, 2018

Many historians, politicians and pundits are saying that, on the whole, our institutions and our democracy are holding up against the onslaught of the Trump administration. Presidential historian Jon Meacham’s new book, and Meacham himself in interviews, says we have had better times than this certainly, but we have also had worse times than this and gotten through them.

I am skeptical of this opinion on both sides of it. I can’t think of a worse time, and I’m not confident we are going to get through this one undamaged.

Our system of government is structured with three branches designed to create checks and balances on each other, but it just isn’t happening, is it?

Our Legislative Branch hasn’t functioned credibly for about two decades. It is paralyzed by cowardice and partisanship. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, it panicked and cowered and let President Bush lead us into a disastrous war and ruin the global economy without so much as a whimper of dissent or a modicum of rational discussion, let alone action.

When President Obama was elected and succeeded in enacting Obamacare, Republicans gained control of Congress and spent six years in complete opposition and obstruction to anything Obama proposed thereafter, regardless of merit, with the result that little got done, and what did get done was done by executive action, which filled the vacuum somewhat, but was not what the Constitution intended.

The low point of Legislative Branch malfeasance occurred when Senate Leader Mitch McConnell denied Obama the right to perform his duty to fill a Supreme Court vacancy, which not only abused the Constitution at the expense of the Senate’s integrity, but damaged the credibility of the Supreme Court as well.

This was a truly dastardly deed, and while popular with conservatives today, will be looked on historically as a monumental disgrace. I think McConnell will ultimately be placed in the sedimentary layer of Senatorial history along with Calhoun, Helms, Eastman and Thurmond, that level of ignoble quality.

Today’s Republican controlled legislature has done exactly four things since President Trump was elected: kiss Trump’s ring after each assault he has made on our institutions, fill the Supreme Court vacancy McConnell stole, name some post offices and pass a tax cut that gave all our money to the very richest of us, will send the national debt through the ceiling and our economy into a ditch deeper than even George Bush could manage, and leave us no money with to do anything else, however important.

The Judicial Branch no longer functions as a judiciary at all. Judges are appointed on the basis of political ideology rather than merit, like the patronage system of the 18th and early 19th centuries, and the Supreme Court since Antonin Scalia, is as completely committed to partisan politics as the Legislative Branch.

For their part, the Senate now tends to vote on nominees along party lines.

Dahlia Lithwick, who writes about the Court and whose work I enjoy reading on Slate.com, opines that Chief Justice John Roberts avoids though cases and prefers very narrow rulings to avoid the partisan heat of the times, but that in so doing is leaking the Court’s credibility with his caution. In my view, this is true, but it is also apparent that when it does rule on major issues, it rules radically and unfeelingly to the right at the expense of the will of the majority of average citizens and the Constitution.

Years ago, it occurred to me we shouldn’t depend on the courts so much, and focus on the legislative branch. Going to the Court was like going to mama to tattle. Things work out best when Congress, not the courts, make the call. When everyone feels they – at least through their representative – had a vote, decisions are more agreeably accepted.

I still believe that, but, sadly, about the time I reached this conclusion, Congress went into its current state of cowardly paralysis, too fearful take a vote on anything. The House, which has the sole authority to declare war, has  yet to vote on a war resolution  regarding Afghanistan, though President Bush began the war unilaterally 17 years ago in October, 2001, and President Obama specifically asked for that authority without response.

But, I still can’t see going back to this Court. I don’t trust it to do anything but swing more and more wildly to the right and decades farther back into the past.

Then, we come to the Executive Branch, which statistically is now the worst branch of them all. In the 21st Century, just 18 years in, we have elected, without a majority of the popular vote but via the Electoral College, perhaps the two worst presidents in our history. Bush is solidly the worst, but Trump may overtake him before he is finished.

To sum up, our government is failing Democracy 101, (despite heroic efforts by our Fourth Estate), and there are just two tests left for it to improve to a passing grade.

The first is the Mueller investigation – what, if anything, it finds, and how we as a country react to the findings. The second is the November mid-term elections. If ever a course correction were needed, this is the time. If none occurs, it is a short steep slope to the end.

I suppose some other event could blossom from a pop quiz into a full blown test, such as a Republican or two saying “Enough,” but I don’t expect it.

My  best hope, and frankly my expectation (keep in mind  that I expected Clinton to win the presidential election) is that the Democrats will win the House, subpoena Trump’s tax returns, which will show that not only has Trump been engaging in tax fraud for years, but has been laundering money for Russia. It’s the only way to explain Trumps’ behavior toward Russia. Putin has him by the legal scrotum.

 

Re-thinking Roe v Wade

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on July 11, 2018

Frankly, I’m sick to death of hearing about Roe v Wade. (Of course, I am only a man, and I don’t have a vagina at risk.) Abortion is the craziest, bloodiest most irrational battle in the culture wars, and has been raging ever more viciously since the Supreme Court handed down the decision in 1973. Skirmishes are unceasing, and every one incites more outrage on both sides.

For the record, I am a firm believer in abortions being available to those who choose to have them. More precisely, I believe people should have peace and privacy when making such a difficult decision.  Since Row was decided on privacy grounds, I think it was rightly decided, but the situation is complicated.

To me, this is a no brainer. I’m old enough to have seen what it was like before abortions became legally available nationally, and some of the results were tragic: unwanted children; forced marriages (which have doubtless contributed to a higher divorce rate); unaffordable children, which can throw people into poverty and bind them there; deformed and mentally deficient children, which are in the best of circumstances an enormous drain on social resources and capable of overwhelming families; and risky, dangerous, sometimes fatal illegal abortions in unsafe circumstances.

The counter arguments are based, in my view, on absolutist interpretations of an antiquated text, and a mean-spirited desire to punish those who commit the unpardonable sins of being pregnant, poor and colored. I would say to those holding such opinions, if you don’t want an abortion, don’t have one. Just don’t deny them to those who do.

Full disclosure: I’ve been the sperm contributor in a few abortions myself, though none of them illegal. Also, having lived in the 60s and early 70s in Oklahoma and Indiana – two determinedly hidebound states – while in college, and then living in New York, NY where abortions were legal before 1973, I hosted friends at my place during their trips there to have an abortion in a safe hospital.

The Supreme Court is, despite the myth, at heart political. To remain relevant, it must move with the times to accommodate changes in the public will, and deal with issues unimagined by the Constitution’s authors. Generally, though not always, the Court moves as there is enough public sentiment regarding its decisions to approve, or at least accept, with perhaps some grumbling, but no rebellion.

However, Roe seems to have been decided when public sentiment was still extremely split, and much of the country simply wasn’t willing to live with the Supremes’ decision. Maybe, just maybe, the issue should have been left to percolate a little longer, though to be fair to the Supremes, at the time, majority opinion already favored abortion being available.

So, what might happen if Roe were overturned? I assume the Supremes would return the abortion question to the individual states, and not outlaw them entirely. The reaction to a national ban would be untenable.

With abortion left to the states to deal with, at first at least, almost half – 22 of them – will outlaw abortions entirely, or put so many restraints on them to render them unobtainable. So, the number of states on either side of the issue will be split, but not popular opinion. A significant majority of voters will still prefer abortion to be legal, and I would expect this majority to increase in the face of this new reality.

In states where abortions are prohibited, the demand for abortions will not cease. There will be anguish and scrambling around to find alternative places or methods to have them. There will be illegal abortions and there will be predictably tragic events.

There will also be greatly increased voter activation and resentment within both sets of states. It’s been a long time since Rowe v Wade became law. Perhaps many women have become complacent about abortions being nationally available, despite the obvious chipping away at them from the right. This might galvanize more women them into more aggressive action against anti-abortion legislators.

Many politicians have been skating on abortion, saying they oppose them to appease their conservative voters, but knowing that they are safe behind the Court’s decision not to have to vote on the issue. Once the decision is overturned, they may find themselves facing serious new opposition.  

Medical technology has advanced since 1973. There is better contraception and abortion pills. Like everything else, so called day after pills could be available through Amazon, which offers free delivery within two days with a Prime membership. Then, there’s always Canada’s pharmaceutical houses. They’re cheaper anyway. In any case, I see the market, and the black market, for these products skyrocketing.

Outlawing abortions will take some pressure off of organizations like Planned Parenthood. Now they will be able to provide other medical services to women without being hounded by crazies.

I see abortion clinics being set up in states where they are allowed right on the borders with states where they are not, making it easier in many cases for people in non-abortion states to get them relatively conveniently. (Of course, this won’t work with non-abortion states all of whose borders abut other non-abortion states.)

I can also see crowd sourcing sites – something else new since 1973 – gathering funds to help women in non-abortion states with the expenses required to travel to pro-abortion states to have one.

But mostly, I can see a lot of highly pissed off and motivated women making a lot of legislators’ lives a misery until the issue is addressed through meaningful legislative action at the national level, overriding the Court, instead of the other way around.

One final comment re: Roe v. Wade. The Wade in this case was a truly despicable piece of filth named Henry Wade, who was at the time a District Attorney of Dallas County, TX.  Wade, a vile racist, which is redundant as I think about it, dragged innocent blacks off the streets, seemingly at random, and tried them before often equally racist juries, or at least juries indifferent to justice in the case of blacks, and get them convicted of crimes they didn’t commit,

At least 15 such Wade’s convictions have been overturned with the advent of DNA evidence, and it is certain that other innocents suffered their entire sentences in prison. Some who were innocent of their crime likely were executed. I’m not a fan of anything vaguely related to Henry Wade.

 

Trump’s Second Supreme Court Nominee

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on July 7, 2018

President Trump has said he will announce his candidate to fill the Kennedy vacancy on the Supreme Court on Monday night, during a prime time TV spectacular. Given Trump’s shameless promotion proclivities and Miss America association, one might wonder if we’ll see a swimsuit competition among the candidates.

This blog is to put down thoughts about the process before the candidate is announced. These thoughts are informed by:

1.     My understanding of, and respect for the Constitution

2.     My recent realization that the Founding Fathers framed the Constitution assuming everyone would do his or her job, about which they are being proven wrong in the present day.

3.     History and experience.

I’m old enough to remember when Supreme Court Justices were selected based on particularly outstanding merit rather than ideology. Typically, the quality and character of the nominees was so great and so apparent, that the candidates were generally consented to by high percentages of the advising Senators, often unanimously.

Today, ideology, partisanship and “litmus tests” are the primary criteria for a nomination, and even qualified candidates, and the occasional one clearly not, get on the Court by small majority votes. Clarence Thomas is a smear on the history and standards of the Court. Samuel Alito. Are you kidding me?

There are differing opinions on where this shift began. Many presidents have nominated a clunker or two: Johnson (Abe Fortas); Nixon (Haynsworth and Carswell); Reagan (Bork and Ginsburg).

Presidents George H.W. Bush (Souter and Thomas), Clinton (Ginsburg and Breyer) and Barak Obama (Sotomayor and Kagan) had no Supreme Court nominee rejections, though Bush should never has nominated the truly mediocre Thomas in the first place.

The process descended into farce when George W. Bush nominated Harriet Meyers. But this downward spiral hit a nadir when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused even to hold hearings on President Obama’s third Supreme Court nominee – Merrick Garland – thus stealing an appointment from Obama and severely damaging the integrity of both the Senate and the Court in the process. I will never feel the same about either again. McConnell’s act was a doubly dastardly dirty deal, and that’s how history will record it.

Trump is certain to select a conservative nominee, one expected to be favorable to his initiatives, including even overturning Roe v Wade, which decision the Court handed down in 1973, and about which I will write more next week.

My only comment on Trump’s announced contestants on his game show, is that there is a dull, ordinary sameness to them, cookie cutter credentials, and no exceptionalism.

This nomination is happening while Democrats are still seething over the McConnell betrayal, and many Democrats want to do a tit for tat if they can, which is doubtful anyway. But this is the classic example of two wrongs only making a greater wrong, which is no way to treat the Constitution, just because some particularly smarmy pig part did.

Democrats must be better than that. Place the nominee or nominees, depending on how the process goes, under serious scrutiny. Some may crack. Some may surprise pleasantly. If they don’t display exceptionalism, vote against them. If they do, vote for them. Don’t vote either way for political convenience.

Live with the final decision – under the Constitution it is Trump’s to make – and take what comfort we can in these truths: 1) Trump, and his party, will be held to political account for his decision, which is likely to tickle his base but disturb and activate the majority of Americans, and 2) Ultimately, the Court does not decide. The people decide. Unpopular decisions change the Court, through popular consensus and political change. In the meantime, the Constitution is faithfully served by at least one political party.

Revisiting John McCain at Home

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on June 30, 2018

When Kelly Sadler, a minor minion in a disgraced White House communications department– said, “It doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway,” reaction was immediate and furious. While Sadler’s comment was tasteless, insensitive and disrespectful, reaction to her comment was overblown.

For one thing, she is partially right. If McCain is too ill to return to Washington to cast a No vote, his opposition holds no physical weight, only a moral one. It would serve the White House right if Sadler’s remark inspired McCain to come to D.C. for a vote, but I think that is unlikely. No, John McCain is back home with us in Arizona, and likely to remain here. I expect we will be writing reflections about him soon.

What does matter about Sadler’s comment is this: First, it reflects the standards, practices and principles at the top of the organization – President Trump – which are low and meager, indeed. Sadler would not have made such a statement in a principled administration, and if she had, she would have been gone, or at least publically reprimanded.

(As it is, Sadler is going to carry this albatross around for the rest of her career, and perhaps even her obituary, though not at this White House. That may be enough punishment for her in the long run.)

Second, and even worse, precious few Senate Republicans, where and with whom John McCain has served long and honorably, if not always wisely in my view, have spoken publicly in support of their fellow senator and elder statesman, though it’s reported many are furious. They have left John McCain to fight his last battle alone, such is their cowardice and their disgrace.

As a practical political matter, Arizona is bereft of representation in the Senate. McCain is too ill to be there, and the aptly named Senator Flake is a lame duck. Flake has talked a good game since announcing his intention not to seek re-election, but in practice, he’s useless as teats on a boar hog. (The use of animal metaphor and simile is deliberate and apt.)

More thoughts on Immigration

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on June 20, 2018

Ross Douthat, the New York Times’ token conservative columnist, wrote some in the NYT Sunday edition something with which I agree, up to a point, and which, like me, he has been advocating for a long time.

(I respect Douthat, even though I seldom agree with his positions. He has a cogent, intellectually consistent personal philosophy and can articulate it clearly. Also, Douthat is capable of creative thinking, which is not to be found among typically ideological conservatives.)

Specifically, Douthat argues to strengthen the E-Verify system and mandate its use for every hiring. He opines this is less cruel than Trump’s current deterrence policy of separating children from their parents. Duh!

Immigration is like the drug trade, or any other classic supply and demand market. There is demand for drugs in the U.S., so people smuggle them in to meet it, at great risk. Likewise, there is a demand for labor (read job opportunities for immigrants) in the U.S., so people smuggle themselves in to meet it, at great risk. Cut off the demand – the jobs – and the supply – the immigrants – declines.

When I wrote above that I agree with Douthat up to a point, I did not mean that he has gone too far. Rather, I mean that he has not gone far enough. It is insufficient to leave it there.

First, there have to be real teeth in the E-Verify mandate. Employers who violate it must pay a heavy price, by which I mean jail, not fines.

Cutting off the supply of job opportunities is easy with a robust E-Verify law (though I would prefer a more robust, technologically advanced national identity card). The reason we don’t have one now is because many employers want the labor and the penalties for violation lie more heavily on the immigrants than the violating employers. Send a few business owners to jail, including some big agribusiness owners, and it will reduce employment opportunities for illegal immigrants to near zero rapidly.

Note: with this done, we won’t need is an expensive border wall. Control of the labor supply will render it superfluous. We can invest the money in national identity card technology.

So, now comes the tough part. We must still come to grips with how much immigration we want, and what kind, decisions that have bedeviled us for years. And, we must come to grips with the workers and their families who are already here, as well as the Dreamers, and children who are piling up at the border as I write. If something isn’t done about the child abuse we are inflicting on those children, President Trump’s prediction will come true. We will end up with a bunch of immigrants who may be socially unfit for our society when he is done with them.

(I had drafted something here about Trump’s intransigence, but it is out of date as of today. He has been, as always, playing to his base, which is among other things, virulently xenophobic. But that base is shrinking, at least at the margins (read suburbs and among mothers), and if Trump couldn’t see it, others in his party could, and took action. (I suspect what we were hearing from Republican Congresspersons in public is far different from what Trump was hearing in private.)

Perhaps this is the time to relate a personal experience. During an extremely acrimonious divorce, two of my children were withheld from me for a brief time – three weeks, maybe four or five; it seemed longer. Fortunately for me, justice prevailed quickly, but the experience was one of the two most painful and agonizing of my life. I can appreciate vividly how those parents whose children were taken from them feel.

Now we’re hearing that some of the parents and their children may never be able to be reunited, almost predictable given the incompetence of the Trump administration. If this is the case, some high ranking members in the administration need to go to jail, maybe for as long as those parents and children are suffering, which would be a long time indeed.

Immigration law is the job of our legislature, which, unfortunately, hasn’t been functioning for almost two decades for any purpose much beyond naming post offices. We must elect people willing and able to resolve this. (Perhaps the one and only bright spot in the Trump presidency is that it may shift the composition of the Legislative branch to the point it will fulfill its function again, but it is still a long shot.)

The solutions to our immigration policy are as obvious to me as I assume the solutions of the xenophobic Trump base are to them, and we are poles apart. But we must thrash this out. If it were easy, anybody could do it. Well, it’s not easy, so it will take capable people, of whom we have too few in Congress today. There are some out there. Let’s sift through the résumés carefully and hire better ones this November. Sadly, solutions may have to wait until then, maybe longer.

 

Immigration obscenity

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on June 16, 2018

I am confounded at present with one singular question regarding immigration: In what barbaric country, under what family values-avowing administration, led by what sick and twisted xenophobes, would young children be separated from their mothers and fathers upon entering the country? Oh, wait. That’s us. That’s Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions.

Sessions says his – not the Democrats – policy is for the purpose of deterrence, and rationalizes this policy with a Bible passage – Romans 13. This passage is, in fact, a ludicrous affirmation of the “divine right of kings.” I thought we had gotten beyond that kind of thinking many centuries ago.

(Just as an aside: during World War II, when we interned Japanese American citizens in prison camps, one of the most shameful and regrettable events in our history, the Japanese American prisoner families were allowed to stay together, at least.)

This policy is obscene. The entire immigration system is obscene. Jeff Sessions is obscene. He is a pig in shit’s clothing. Those people, Sessions included, who are separating children from their parents at the border are committing child abuse. They are the ones who should be separated from their own families and put in one of our detention facilities; I recommend federal prison.

Somewhere in Arizona, I would like to think some redneck, Pro Trump voter woman and mother is saying to her husband, “I don’t care what you say, Bubba, this is just wrong and I’m not voting for this SOB again.”

To the broader point, immigration is an important, complicated and emotional issue for every country. Who gets to come into a country, and why? Who has to stay out? How much immigration should be accepted in total? Every country approaches it differently.

We need immigration for a number of reasons, and our immigration policies are comparatively open. We need unskilled workers to fill jobs our workers don’t want. We need skilled workers for jobs for which we don’t have enough qualified applicants (which is a severe indictment of our education system). Declining birth rate. Humanitarian responsibilities.

We have a long history of ambivalence regarding unskilled workers particularly, and a poor record of dealing with them. Some people want them in to fill needs and keep labor costs down. Some don’t want them in to keep labor costs up, and due to garden variety xenophobia. Because of this dichotomy, our solutions have been schizophrenic. We let immigrants sneak in, but don’t recognize them, and often exploit them.

Things changed after 9/11. We became fearful of terrorist infiltration by immigration, and generally more suspicious of foreigners. Our laws were tightened, and border security increased. This was welcome news to the already xenophobic and nativists among us, but also distressing to those who look on immigration as a good thing for our economy, culture and country. 

I can somewhat understand xenophobic impulses, though not agree with them. I believe that our economic and cultural histories demonstrate that the U.S. has always been the net beneficiary of immigration. And to all you anti-Hispanics out there, I’m sorry, but I love Mexican food.

 

Witch Hunt

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on May 15, 2018

A recent survey indicates that 90% of Republicans believe that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is a “Witch Hunt.” It is remarkable evidence of the apparent phenomenon that if you say something often enough, people will begin to believe it, no matter the contrary prima facie evidence, or lack thereof.

The characterization of witch hunt is clearly inaccurate, as it’s used metaphorically to describe the Salem Watch Trials, which were prosecuted on the basis of worthless evidence, hearsay, religious superstition and hysteria, for two reasons:

First, the investigation has already identified people who have actually been indicted, and some already confessed, to crimes related to the investigation into Russian meddling with our election. The fact that the Russians were meddling with our election has already been proven.  So, the Mueller investigation can in no way be said to be baseless.

Second, and this is particularly important regarding President Trump, who is leading the “Witch Hunt” chorus: absolutely no one officially involved in the investigation has accused Trump of anything. Trump is un-accused, and therefore must be presumed innocent.

Media pundits and politicians are screaming about the investigation – its motives, results and consequences prematurely; speculating, gossiping, guessing, but their motives are completely divorced from, and irrelevant to, the investigation. Politicians are stirring up their bases. Media are fighting for viewership or readership.

(This doesn’t mean the media – particularly print media – are not turning up some actual facts.  There is a lot of leaking from people involved. But even these leaks and reports, true or inaccurate, are not the same as actual evidence presented by the investigators, from whom we have heard nothing, except indictments or announcements of confessions.)

So, the investigation cannot be called a witch hunt in the metaphorical sense, because it has already caught some actual “witches.” And it cannot be said to be attacking the president because absolutely no charges, not even a suggestion of them, has come from the investigators.

When the investigation is complete, and the evidence presented, we will all learn whether there are any more witches. In the meantime, those calling the investigation a witch hunt are patently pre-mature, and, it must be said, begging the question why they are making such a fuss before actual evidence is presented.

 

 

Thoughts on Events the Week of May 7

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on May 14, 2018

Trump Screws up, again, this time royally: I listened to President Trump speak about his decision to pull us out of the Iranian nuclear deal, and not a single truthful word came out of his little round asshole of a mouth.

This is the worst international fiasco the United States has initiated since President George W. Bush took us to war with Iraq, and just like that debacle, this one is preceded by a pack of lies.

Trump’s opinion that the Iranian nuclear deal – officially, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – is the worst in history notwithstanding, the JCPOA is the best international agreement of the 21st Century, and we, no other country, are now in willful violation of it.

The Obama Administration, along with our allies, and even adversaries China and Russia, worked long and hard to negotiate JCPOA, in the interest of reducing nuclear weapons…and it was working! Now our government has cavalierly, and without thought of the consequences, backed out on its word.

Iran is now free, if it chooses, to re-engage its nuclear a weapons program, and we have no one to blame but ourselves, and no way to stop it, short of war. Thanks to Trump, we now have two potential North Koreas again, not just one. (What’s that old saying? If you have a bird in hand and one in the bush, let the one in your hand go and chase after the other one?”)

There is no way in which Trump’s decision serves our national interest. Make no mistake, the only reason Trump pulled this spiteful stunt is because President Obama negotiated it. You’ve heard of Bush’s “faith-based initiatives?” This is a Trump “racist-based initiative.”

Just as it was hard to know how the universe would shake out immediately after the Big Bang, it’s hard to see this soon after the chaos caused by Trump’s announcement how things will turn out with the JCPOA. But I don’t think things will go as the Trump Administration thinks they will, if they have really thought about that at all.

Could it be that Trump wants to start a war with Iran so that he can become a “war president?” Is that why he brought Mike Pompeo and John Bolton on board, the only two people I know of crazy enough to state publicly they want military conflict with Iran?

Do the American people want us in another war in the Middle East? I don’t think so. I know I don’t. We’re already pissing away our treasure there, with the exception of that which we give to our richest 1%, with little or nothing to show for it except chaos in the region, delight among our adversaries and dismay and disgust from our allies.

With this irresponsible act, Trump has pulled himself close to a tie with George W. Bush as our worst president. If this decision results in a military conflict with Iran, Trump may surpass Bush. I truly despise this loathsome, pumpkin pigmented pig part.

The Iran Nuclear Agreement debacle is by far the most important event of the week, so important that I’m not including any other items on this blog. I’ll visit others during the coming week.

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

 

 

 

Why Trump lets Putin Slide

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on May 10, 2018

Hey, remember Russia? President Trump sure hopes you don’t. That’s one of the reasons he throws up so much flak, such as porn stars, slandering his own Department of Justice, creating havoc with Dreamers and other aspects of our immigration policy, letting Scott Pruitt hang on as a delicious target and stuff like that. He would love for us to forget that he acts so deferentially to Russian president Putin. And many are distracted from this topic. Fortunately for us, Robert Mueller is not one of them.

So, why does President Trump let Vladimir Putin skate so easily? In fact, it is obvious why Trump is Putin’s bitch. You know why. I know why. Everybody does. But, just for the mental exercise, let’s review a range of possible motives as objectively as we can, in descending order of probability:

Trump may truly believe that the best way to work with Russia is to lay compliments on Putin (Trump sure loves to receive them) rather than sanctions. But this doesn’t fly, because he applies sanctions on other countries easily, and insults our other adversaries and allies alike.

Maybe Trump just prefers dictators over other types of leaders. It’s clear he wants to be one himself, as Miniver Cheevey longed to be a Medici. Perhaps Trump thinks if he hangs around them enough, dictatorship will rub off on him. But this doesn’t really wash, because even he knows enough about government to know our system isn’t made for authoritarians, though he hasn’t given up trying.

Maybe Trump is nice to Putin because his credit is so bad everywhere else that Russia is the only country with banks (all government controlled) who will loan money to him, even indirectly through Russian owned or controlled banks in other countries, such as Deutsche Bank. But Trump seems to have found another despotic country willing to give him loans in exchange for favors now that he’s president – Saudi Arabia. Maybe this will embolden Trump to be a little harder on Russia.

Maybe Russia has been laundering money through investments in Trump real estate for years which has made Trump lots of money, and he wants to keep his good customer happy.

Maybe Trump has been doing crooked deals with Russian oligarchs for years, which if they ever came to light would land him in prison.

Maybe Putin has been behind many of Trump’s deals, and has the goods on him, which he could turn over to the FBI any time, but is choosing to blackmail him with at present, to squeeze favors from his mark.

Maybe Putin has art on some of Trump’s sexual escapades in Russia that would make even evangelicals blush, and Trump knows Putin could get them published in newspapers and magazines all over the world over night.

Maybe it’s all of the above.