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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.

 

Gina Haspel – Torturer

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on March 24, 2018

Former President George W. Bush is quoted as saying recently, regarding something President Donald Trump did, “Sorta makes me look pretty good, doesn’t it?” The answer to his rhetorical question is No. George W. Bush was a worse president even than Donald Trump, and the worst in our history, in my view.

Among the several reasons Bush was worse than Trump is that his administration ordered the torture of prisoners by the CIA during the Iraq War and thereafter, contrary to our Constitution, our laws and international law.

We will be hearing about torture and that dark period in our history over the next few weeks, because President Trump (this is one of the reasons he is the next worst president) has nominated Gina Haspel to be the next Director of the CIA.

Haspel had a large role in the program of torturing those prisoners. She was comparable to a German prisoner of war camp commandant in World War II…if you add the torture, and that role will come up in her confirmation hearings.

The CIA will never be confused with the Boy Scouts, or even our military. We ask them to do our dirty work, including some that does not comport with our national standards, and sometimes not even our laws…007 stuff, only for real.

But the period of torture was beyond the pale, and should never have been allowed to happen. Yet, somebody did it. Somebody thought it was their duty to do it, that it was the right thing to do. That somebody should not be the face of the CIA.

The President and the Porn Star Get it On

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

An intellectual and ethical dilemma confronts me. I take the position that consensual sex by a politician is his or her affair and none of my business, unless it interferes with his or her job. Intellectual honesty and consistency require me to include President Trump, which I have and do.

Nevertheless, I would enjoy nothing more than to see Trump’s affair with Stormy Daniels bring him to ruin. I have tried to think of a way to carve out an exception in my position for Trump, but I cannot think of one. Consensual sex is consensual sex, and there’s no getting around it. Now, if Trump is caught breaking the law by paying her off with campaign funds or something like that, I am all in for it.

That said, I can only hope that Trump gets his comeuppance from one of the 17 women who have reported being sexually assaulted by him, or another, fresher one. But even that may not do it. Apparently, Trump’s uneducated, male, white base doesn’t see a difference between consensual sex and sexual assault. Judging from the 2016 election results, neither do 53% of white women.  I lay this all on the ladies. They had their chance to elect a qualified woman and blew it.

 

A Moment of Sympathy for the Trump Children

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on March 8, 2018

The Trump children have endured unwelcome scrutiny since their old man became president. Cockroaches live in the dark beneath the refrigerator to avoid being seen for the vermin they are. In a reverse manner, these children soar above us in opulent, pampered privacy to avoid being seen for the gypsies, tramps and thieves they are.

Dad has made this difficult if not impossible. We know who they are now, even if they didn’t want us to, because it comes at a high price for them. So with this, I extend sympathy to each.

Donald, Jr. In chronological order, we begin with Junior. He seeks approval from a father whose own father, Fred, never paid any attention to him until Trump’s older brother died, after which Donald was nothing but a comparative disappointment.

Junior learned about business and ethics at his father’s knee. Unfortunately, his father is a poor business man and corrupt. You have to have some sympathy for a young man who grows up in those circumstances.

Finally, Junior exercises his Second Amendment rights by shooting large animals. This is OK with his father’s base, but the rest of us hate him for it.

Ivanka: Clearly her dad’s favorite and the apple of his eye. They seem to have a close relationship, although Ivanka can never be sure if daddy is going to hug her or grab her by the pussy. Trump has said publicly that if Ivanka weren’t his daughter, he would date her. He surely meant this as a compliment, but it comes across as perverse and potentially incestuous.

Ivanka married a man not unlike her father, which many women are said to do. Her husband is rich, but dangerously deep in debt, and he may go to jail (as I said, not unlike her father). Conjugal visits won’t suit Ivanka’s pristine lifestyle.

Eric: deserves the most sympathy. Eric doesn’t seem to have much juice in the family business and is given no meaningful responsibilities. He’s like Fredo in the Godfather.

Also, he is not as handsome as his two older siblings, and people make fun of him about this. Seth Meyers is particularly harsh with such jokes about Eric. I am not fond of ad hominems. They criticize personal things, such as Eric’s appearance rather than his positions…if he has any, which he can’t do anything about. This is unkind and unfair.

Tiffany: For whom, I think, not as much sympathy is warranted. Tiffany seems to have figured how to succeed in the Trump world, namely, keep away from them. She’s like Princess Anne in the British Royal family, though she has had a couple of Hollywood-style public run-ins.

Tiffany has a brain, beauty, a degree from the University of Pennsylvania and is studying law at George Washington University, all of which gives her a better chance than the others to avoid jail. Still, she’s stuck with being a Trump.

Barron: Trump’s only child by his third wife, Melania. Barron is too young to appreciate everything that is going on around him at this historic time for his family, and he seems slightly confused about it all. Perhaps he is on the very mild end of the autism spectrum, or just very shy. Anyone anywhere on the autism spectrum deserves some sympathy. But Barron has a protective mother to look after him, who has sharp, well-manicured claws and fierce, though beautiful, eyes. Barron is safe with her.

More About Guns

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on March 2, 2018

I got started on guns after swearing not to, and now  I just can’t stop myself. It’s just too funny.

Arming School Teachers: As if on cue, immediately after President Trump recommended arming  school teachers to protect students from armed intruders, a school teacher in George barricaded himself in a classroom and cranked off a round or two in no particular direction. It was delicious refutation of Trump’s ridiculous idea.

Speaking of Gun Control: Trump held another televised bi-partisan meeting with legislators, this time on gun control, and seemed to agree with just about everything Democrats were proposing as meaningful gun control legislation, in particular vastly expanded background checks. Senator Feinstein (D-CA) was smiling ear to ear, but you could almost see pee puddles forming beneath the chairs of the Republican Senators present. Senator Cornyn (R-TX), who was sitting next to the president and so in almost every TV shot, was literally squirming in his seat. He couldn’t even look up for fear the shock on his face would be seen.

I’ll kiss your ass in Macy’s window and give you an hour to draw a crowd if Trump doesn’t reverse himself after he hears from the NRA, Republican lawmakers and his base.