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The great Republican exodus of 2018 is taking shape

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on March 1, 2018

 I borrowed this headline from Vox.Com, with thanks, from its report that 21 Republican Congressmen have already announced that they will not run again in 2018 (FiveThirtyEight says 24 have already announced). This is the most Congressional retirements in a decade. More retirees (read quitters) have announced since the Vox.com article was posted. 

Many of those calling it a day are committee chairmen, which is also very unusual. These guys hold onto their perks with a vice grip. Some are leaving due to committee chairmanship term limits, which will end their authority. Some think they, and perhaps the whole Party, may get its ass kicked this fall. Some are just sick of it.

Among the most notable quitters is Trey Gowdy (R-SC), who I will miss least of all. Gowdy says he is leaving because of “the increasingly toxic nature of politics,” which is rich, because he is among the most rabidly vicious and underhanded partisan members of the House.

Gowdy led the scandalously partisan and interminable Benghazi hearings, which wasted millions of dollars and a tremendous amount of time. The only result of Gowdy’s incessant hearings was to ruin the credibility of his committee, there having been a half dozen investigations on the same subject previously, none of which found anything wrong. Gowdy’s goal was solely to smear Hillary Clinton.

There is another possible explanation why Gowdy is leaving. He was among the very first to see the top secret underlying support for the FISA warrant controversy currently in the news (and Devin Nunes’ memo), and he knows what’s about to hit the fan.

Gowdy said whatever talents he has would be better used in a courtroom than in Congress. I think he may be right. He seems to know what he is doing as a lawyer, though I would prefer to see him as a defendant.

That said, the Exodus from Congress is nothing like that going on at the White House. It’s like the place was on fire and people are jumping out of the windows.  

 

Trump’s Tax Cut is a Disaster, and It Will Get Worse

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on February 28, 2018

Okay, I assume you have read my blog – “Econ 1” – or Samuelson’s introductory economics text used at Harvard, so here’s my follow-up on why the Republican tax cut bill is the worst thing that Trump – and Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell – could possibly do to us during Trump’s administration, however long it lasts, which is really saying something.

Let’s begin by reviewing three data points:

1)    When President Obama took office from President George W. Bush (still the worst president in our history, in my view) in 2008;

2)    When President Trump took office in 2017; and

3)    The end of Trump’s first full year in office, and roughly where the tax cuts began to kick in.

Jan. ‘08      Dec. ‘16     Dec. ‘17

Unemployment Rate                                              11.1%          4.7%          4.1%

GDP Growth                                                            -0.3%          1.5%          2.3%

Personal Income Growth (Dec.)                            0.4%          0.3%          0.4%

Dow Jones Industrial Average                            12,800      19,964       25,075

Source: U.S. Chamber of Commerce

These data support the narrative agreed to by most economists and historians over the last decade. President Bush left us in extreme economic doo doo at the end of his term, and still spiraling downward when Obama took office.

Against total obstruction by Mitch McConnell, the most unprincipled person to run the U.S. Senate since the Civil War, Obama pulled us out of what became the “Great Recession,” our worse economic catastrophe since the Great Depression, and got the economy growing again. He reduced unemployment by more than half; turned GDP from contraction to positive growth, and the stock market began to rebound.

To accomplish this, Obama bailed out the banks, which he had to do or there would have been a complete economic collapse globally, though in my view he executed it poorly. I blame Bush’s Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson and Obama’s Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner for that; both Wall Street insiders themselves – Paulson was CEO of Goldman Sachs; Geithner heads a private equity firm – were way too easy on the banks.

Among his other recovery efforts, Obama proposed an infrastructure plan to stimulate the economy and put people back to work, but the Republican-controlled Congress rejected him.

So, in circumstances exactly the opposite of Bush to Obama, Obama turned over to President Trump a healthy and growing economy.

Trump’s crowning achievement in his first year in office was a $1.5 Trillion dollar tax cut. This was a monumental heist of the Treasury for the rich, and the ultimate example of opening the barn door after the horse had already bolted into economically greener pastures. But it is even worse than that, and it is going to get worse still. Here’s why:

This tax cut not only added a $1.5 Trillion to our debt, an outrageously irresponsible thing to do, but it emptied the Treasury, as well. There’s no money left. Anything else Trump  wants to  do, such as for an infrastructure plan, we will have to borrow for, and it will just add more to the debt. In other words, Trump gave all our money to his rich friends, and now he wants to borrow more, which debt you and I can pay for.

To be sure, the tax cut has stimulated the stock market, at least for now. Big corporations have more money, much if not most of which is going to buying back stock. It helps stockholders, but does little for the economy. (Remember, there’s a big difference between the economy and the stock market, especially in the short-term.)

Trump says the tax cut will stimulate the economy, but the economy was already growing, and there are limits to how much faster our economy can or should grow at this point. We are already at full employment, and we are beginning to see personal income (read wages) increasing, finally.

Wage increases are a good thing, and long, long overdue. (Economists still don’t understand why it didn’t begin sooner. I told you it is a dismal science.) So Trump’s tax cut could blow an already warm economic engine. The Fed is now sufficiently concerned about overheating and inflation that it has signaled three more interest rate hikes in 2018.

All or most of us are seeing a little more in our pay envelope, but the vast majority of the cut went to the very, very richest. Warren Buffet announced last week that he gained $29 Billion (with a “B”) from the tax cut. How much did you get?

Trump’s infrastructure proposal would have been a good thing in 2009, when so many people were out of work. It could have helped a lot of people. But today, at full employment, the economic impact won’t be as helpful. It would be nice; we need to rebuild and maintain, but at this point, we don’t have the money to do it. It will only increase the debt, thanks to the tax cut.

Keynes said to deficit spend in hard times to stimulate the economy, but he also said to return the budget to balance during good times. We should have raised taxes on the rich, not lowered them. President Clinton did just that.  He raised taxes, mostly on high income earners, and the economy improved. He spent the so called “war dividend,” on debt reduction, and the economy improved even more.

Turns out too much debt is a drag on the economy. Who knew? Certainly not Republicans. Clinton, with some luck and savvy, left office with a budget surplus, our first since 1969 (under another Democratic president), which George W. Bush maintained…for exactly one year then started the Great Recession.

This tax cut is a disaster. We needed that money badly. With a nod to Jesus Christ Superstar, “Think of the things you can do with that money.”  Trump gave it away to the very rich. And don’t even get me started on the additional billions we are pissing away on our bloated military. That’s a carol for another Christmas. I hate this, and you all should, too.

Econ 1

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on February 23, 2018

There are two ways to view our economy: with a macro-view, the aggregation of all economic activity from every source; and a micro-view, the economic activity that affects one person or family directly. The macro-economy is of interest to very rich people, large corporations and academics. The personal economy is of interest to actual people.

The macro-view is more complicated, with the result there are many differing opinions about it from equally qualified academics. George Bernard Shaw said famously that, “If all the economists in the world were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion.” That’s why Economics is called The Dismal Science.

The personal view is more basic. It concerns whether a family has enough money to pay its bills this month, and the factors affecting its being able to do so the next.

Rule One of economics for the micro-view is a political one. The president gets the credit, or the blame, for whatever happens during his term in office, whether he had anything to do with what happens or not. It’s too simplistic, but it is the only way we can keep count. (I told you it is a dismal science.)

This rule is why President Trump is taking credit for the relatively good economic performance now, which is in fact running at about the same rate than when President Obama’s term ended and Trump’s began. Obama, not Trump, got this economy rolling again, but Trump gets to take the bows today.

(President Trump tried to take credit for their having been no commercial aircraft fatalities over the last year. This is not quite the same thing, Donald. Your influence was meaningless. No cigar; in fact, you looked kind of silly.)

President Trump is also taking credit, more deservedly, for the dramatic rise in the stock market last year. True, the stock market was rising before Trump was inaugurated, but he has added an accelerant.

This leads us to another rule of Economics. The economy and the stock market are not the same thing, and the latter is a poor indicator of the former. About 80% of stock is owned by 10% of the population, so the stock market affects roughly only one in 10 people taking the personal view of the economy.

What’s more, the economy and the stock market react to some stimuli very differently. An egregious example of this is when companies shed workers to cut costs and their bottom lines improve. This causes stock prices to rise, even without any sales growth, and the CEO gets a bonus, while the personal economies of workers are devastated.

Donald Trump has helped the stock market rise dramatically by giving large corporations and very rich individuals (who buy stocks) $1.5 Trillion dollars of tax reductions. Just gave it away. This has made them all richer, and their stock prices higher immediately, though with no great effect on the macro-economy, and even less on individual economies.

Trump’s tax reductions will send a small amount of money (that’s why they call it “trickle” down) to most, but not all middle and lower class earners, and this may have some modest positive effect on personal economies, but nothing compared to what’s going on with the stock market, which means for those already rich.

Our economy was already starting to do pretty well when the Obama Administration ended. It is hard to achieve a significant percentage increase on such an already large base over any long length of time. Likewise, unemployment is already at almost full employment levels. It will be hard to get it much lower.

I expect the economy to perform much as it has been doing, but not significantly better, because, despite what politicians say, it can’t really do that much better today.

That said, another economic law states that when labor becomes scarce enough, wages will rise, which is long, long overdue in our current recovery. This will cause interest rates to rise. This affect profits, which reduces stock prices.

Well, this is beginning to happen now, and the stock market is becoming erratic. This circles us around to the first rule we discussed: the President gets the credit, or the blame, for what happens with either/or the stock market and the economy.

One final rule. This was included in John Maynard Keynes’ economic theories about deficit spending, but nobody seems to remember this part: deficit spending and tax cuts are indicated to stimulate the economic activity during hard times, BUT, during good times, the budget should be brought back into balance with tax increases and debt reduction.

Please think about this economics lesson, because it will help you understand the blog I will post early next week, which explains why President Trump’s tax cuts were absolutely the worst thing he could have done. (You may have figured it out already.)

 

 

 

 

 

I Love a Parade, just not this one

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

I don’t want to write about President Donald J. Trump’s order for a military parade; it’s just too, well, silly. But, the intellectual inconsistency between Trump’s complaints that the military is too underfunded to perform its missions, and demanding a military parade that will cost lots of money and siphon military men and machinery away from those very missions, cannot go unobserved.

This kind of parade is just not our thing, Donald. We prefer parades with happy themes and colorful decorations, not parades of impressive but somber military machines and drab camouflage garb. That’s for North Korea. Think Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (giant balloons); Mardi Gras parades (gold, green and purple costumes, beads, bare boobs); The Rose Bowl Parade (flower covered floats); even Easter Parades (soft, furry bunnies).

 Besides, there’s something just not right about tanks rumbling down Pennsylvania Avenue. That’s the stuff of apocalyptic movies, not our nation’s capital. Can’t you sense that?

 True, we sometimes have big military parades, but those generally occur after a war is over and we have won, so we haven’t really had an occasion for one in quite a while, unless you count President Reagan’s glorious victory over Granada, but that didn’t really merit a parade, did it? It was over in about a day and a half. I don’t remember that we actually had a parade over that one.

We lost the Viet Nam War. We’ve been fighting in Afghanistan now through three presidential administrations without a result, or any hope of a favorable one. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney might argue that we won the Iraq War, but we didn’t really, and in any case, it turned out to be a spectacularly bad idea. Pull us out of the Middle East and maybe we can talk about it.

There remains the issue of your motivation for this parade. I’m guessing megalomania – your delusions of grandeur. Look, if you really want to get off over a parade, and save a lot of money, go to an Army training base and have the recruits march around in front you to your heart’s content.  

But remember what Medal Honor winner Colonel John Jacobs said about marching, as compared to other aspects of military training: “When you are finished marching, all you have learned to do is march.”

But, if you are hell bent on having this parade (I’m thinking someone will talk or shame you out of it), I suggest you have it on May Day – May 1. Isn’t that the day that Russia and other tin pot dictators and third world despots trot out their military prowess and march it around?

 

Women on the March

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

From the very first day after Trump’s inauguration, to the anniversary of his first year in office, women marched in astronomical numbers to protest Trump’s election and his policies. You may know about this. It’s been in all the papers.

This activism begs the question where were women on Election Day? Well, maybe not these marching women specifically, but women in general. I’ll tell you where: Too many of them were at home. Others were at their voting places, and 53% of the white ones were voting for Donald J. Trump. I hold white women, who knew what a pussy grabbing misogynist they were voting for, responsible for electing Trump.

This marching is all well and good, but I’m waiting to see what women will do at the next actual election, when it really counts. Until then, this is all on you, ladies.

 

CORRECTION: In my latest Sunday Blog, I mischaracterized Stormy Daniels, the women with whom our President had an affair and then paid $130,000 in hush money to cover it up, as a “stripper.” This is incorrect. She is a “porn star.” Miss Daniels does not strip on stage; she fucks on film. I regret the error. Note: what Miss Daniels and President Trump do together remains a matter of indifference to me.

 

Much Ado About Not Much

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on January 23, 2018

Senate Democrats caved on its plan to shut down the government in order to get a clean DACA vote.  You know it. I know it. Everybody knows it. To say I am unimpressed, understates my mood.

The good news is this illustrates that Democrats really are less mean-spirited and hardhearted than Republicans. The bad news is that they couldn’t hold firm to help innocent Dreamers. If they can’t do that, it begs the question what will they stand firm for?

Schumer “extracted” a “promise,” or at least an “intention” from Majority Leader McConnell to take up a Dreamer bill before the next shut down deadline of February 8. That and a dollar will get you a small cup of coffee at McDonald’s. McConnell’s promises are worthless as tits on a boar hog. His intentions toward Democrats are worse than that and never good. I wouldn’t trust him with my burnt matchsticks.

Actually, there is true good news in this. The continuing resolution legislation extends the CHIP program for six years. I didn’t understand that at first, and this is a really good thing. I thought it was one of two things Democrats were striking for. I can accept a little better now why it was hard to keep Dems together. They had gotten half of what I thought they wanted. The Dreamers bill will succeed eventually. It is the right thing to do. If it doesn’t, there will be that many more Republican seats lost in 2018 and it can be done in the next Congress.

The final loose end to ponder is this: if the CHIP extension was part of the continuing resolution, why did Democrats shut down the government in the first place? It seems like a big, risky gamble for a comparatively small prize, which is likely to be won soon anyway.

Bottom line, though: Democrats looked like Republicans say they are; weak and not able to play hard ball.

Are we a Nation Divided and Polarized?

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on July 5, 2017

Are we a Nation Divided and Polarized?

(Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

The notion that we are divided is misunderstood. Like Siamese twins, we are bound together. We move forward or backward, happy or unhappy together.

We may be divided, in the sense that great numbers of us have very different opinions on many important issues. We may think the people holding differing opinions from us are misguided or even barking mad, but there is nothing in the Constitution that says how our opinions must be distributed.

I will tell you what we are, though. We are extremely unequal, and both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution have a great deal to say about that.

There is great inequality in our wealth and income, and it has been getting much worse since about 1980. When eight people in American possess as much wealth as the bottom 50% of our entire population, it takes no brilliant economist or social scientist to see that something is seriously, seriously wrong. We are very near the point when history suggests countries are likely to experience revolution or collapse.

According to Thomas Piketty, the world’s foremost authority on wealth and income, the best long-term solution to income inequality is “diffusion of knowledge,” by which he means education.

But our education is itself extremely unequal. Wealthy students frequently end up in good private schools, but most of us go to public schools, which can vary in quality greatly, frequently along already existing income and racial lines, which is self-perpetuating.

What’s most disappointing regarding education is that many states have been starving education budgets for years. It’s almost as if some state leaders want to hold people in their unequal place by denying “diffusion of knowledge” to them. We elect these leaders. We can elect others with more positive priorities regarding education.

We’re all familiar with the inequality in our justice and penal systems. Minorities are disproportionately imprisoned. The problems are partly due to the education deficit, but also to unequal administration of justice. Again, this inequity is correctable.

Voting is unequal. Our “one person one vote” Constitutional guarantee is ignored and abused constantly, which is utterly inconsistent with our democracy. Some politicians scheme to deny the vote to those who might vote differently than they (the politicians, not the voters) desire.

A poster child of voting inequality is the Electoral College, a result of our Founding Fathers’ hedging their bet on the common man. After all, their new government was an experiment as yet untried.

The results, however, have been extremely mixed in the 21st Century. So far, it has given us our first black president by popular vote, and two presidents – one a disaster and the other trending that way – who lost the popular vote, but won in the Electoral College.

President is the only truly national office. It is the only office that can, and should be determined by a total national vote, with no intersession.

The election of U.S. Senators, though reformed over time, is grossly unequal today. Every state gets two of them, regardless of size. Our four largest states – California, New York, Florida and Texas – comprise a third of our population. Our four smallest states contain less than one percent. But each group has eight senators. This distribution of senators may have made some sense when the Constitution was written, when our population was 95% rural agrarian, but it is inexcusably unequal today.

Montana and Wyoming, for extreme examples, don’t have enough population to justify a single Representative. Each has one only because at least one is mandatory. Yet each has two Senators. As there are many more states with small to middling populations relative to small ones, rural populations are remarkably over-represented.

This was a compromise made at the creation, and I suspect it would be very hard to change any time soon, for the very reason it is a problem. It favors a lot of small population states, but impedes the will of the majority of the population. That’s not what representative democracy is supposed to do.

The U.S. House of Representative is more, well, representative, but it is susceptible to a particularly odious form of inequality – gerrymandering. This ploy warps voter representation willfully and radically. Both major parties are complicit in it, and the job should be taken from their hands.

Job opportunities are certainly unequal. Though the official unemployment number is low at present, many people, particularly those with less education, are disproportionately unemployed, and many people with or without some education are underemployed. Everyone’s wages have been stagnant for years. This is the crux of the sleep of reason that brought forth the monster that is Donald Trump (my opinion).

Now, here are a couple of very inconvenient truths that must be looked at head on if we are to correct inequality in the broader sense:

Globalization is a thing, and it will not change. So called sovereign state boundaries cannot prohibit it, and its overall thrust is too good for us to want it to stop, even if that were possible. The opposite of globalization is tribalism, a retrenchment into smaller, insular enclaves, which only breed greater fear and suspicion of “the other.” Tribalism is a hidebound, narrow minded way to live. Look at Afghanistan, Pakistan and place like that. No wonder people want to come here from such places.

Technology will go where it can go. As technology improves, it will be applied. This includes in the workplace, which means it will compete for more and more jobs successfully, reducing the demand for human workers to do them. Technology has replaced many, many more jobs than globalization.

Other jobs will be created, good ones, but not in the same numbers, and requiring more skills and training. If it were easy, anybody could do it, which means the easy jobs will go to the person willing to do it the cheapest…until he or she is replaced by a machine.

Access to higher paying jobs is not available to everyone equally, due to, let’s face it, intelligence, aptitude, training and prejudice. Many decent paying jobs required less education in the past, so more people were able to get a good job without as much of it. But those times have changed.

I can empathize with those who find themselves out of a job because the jobs left them, and we must do more to try to help them. People today need more education and/or training – technical education of some sort and support until they are able to up their game.

Others are simply not capable of competing at the current level of job complexity and competition. As Ron White said, “You can’t fix stupid.”

This period of a more competitive labor market and stagnant wages begs for more progressive thinking to deal with than we have been giving it thus far. It’s time to think about how to equalize income to at least an acceptable standard of living. There is no excuse for the income disparity we have today, and it is inexcusable to have Americans below the poverty line with so much wealth available.

How do we afford this, you ask? I’ll tell you how:

  1. By thinking about wealth and income more generously and compassionately and equally, not greedily. Our tax system should look almost the exact opposite of what it is today, with high taxes on the rich, a tax on wealth and extremely high inheritance taxes.
  2. By inverting our investment priorities toward education and away from a grossly too expensive military.
  3. By reforming our justice system so that the penalty for the same crimes are not only equal, but do not doom convicts to a life sentence-stifled opportunities and prospects denied.

Lest you think this rational addressing of inequality will be easy, consider where we are today – how greedy we have become, how punitive and how much we have downgraded and degraded education.

And lest you think that should such reforms be enacted all our problems would be solved, consider the new ones that these reforms would evoke, regarding population control, immigration policy, assisted suicide, and yes, death panels. (Spoiler alert: these things will happen anyway.)

Not everything is ever going to be exactly equal, nor should we want them to be. Mountains v. oceans, deserts v. tropics, cities v. towns. These and every other aspect of culture result in diversity that enriches us.  But the inequalities in education, income and justice are pernicious, and ludicrously beneath the richest, strongest and among the bests nations on earth.

 

 

Thoughts on Events the Week of March 6

Posted in Diary Entry, Politics and Justice, Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on March 13, 2017

In a recent conversation about blogging with an extremely competent English teacher, she observed that most personal blogs appear to be mere replacements for a diary. I try to focus on thoughts and responses, but I think she has a good point. Looking back, I see that I have insinuated some diary-like entries into my blogs. So, to distinguish these for my readers, and as a caution to myself not to overdo them, I will in the future try to identify these topics with the headline Diary Entry.

Jobs Report:  Since I consider a job man’s noblest possession after love, the jobs report was good news. Some 235,000 jobs were added to our economy; unemployment remained around 4.7% to 4.8%, even with more people coming back into the workforce. Average wages rose also.

Some are carping that President Donald J. Trump shouldn’t get credit for these results, because the positive report is due to Obama administration policies and performance. This is technically true, of course, but intellectually inconsistent. It doesn’t work that way. The February report is on Ponzi Don’s watch; he gets the credit.

So, Ponzi Don had a good February, 2017 jobs report. Not the greatest February report ever, as he might try to assert. Not even quite as good as Obama’s February reports from 2015 or 2016, but still a good report.

When Obama’s string of positive monthly job reports was piling up, Ponzi Don asserted that the statistics were bogus, that the numbers were inflated and that the unemployment rate was grossly understated. From his asshole, he drew an estimate that the true unemployment rate was 20%, 30%, maybe even 40%.

At the press briefing announcing the good jobs report, Sean Spicer was asked if the new administration now agrees that jobs reports are accurate. With a smug, smirking smile that only mean-spirited, right wing hypocrites can conjure up, Spicer said that past results were all wrong before but now these results are accurate. What a smarmy jerk.  Still, it was a good report and I’m glad.

Speaking of hypocrisy: A number of responsible Senators is waiting to see the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) scoring of the proposed Obamacare repeal and replace legislation, which is being steam rolled through the House without benefit of this important information.

The CBO is a non-partisan entity, created to provide expert estimates of the cost and effects of proposed legislation. Its reputation is solid, and its forecast of cost and effect of the Obamacare legislation, while off due to changes in the final bill, was closer than anyone else’s.

Fearing a very negative score on the House’s dog’s dinner of a bill, Republicans are not rethinking the bill, but trying to discredit the CBO in advance of its opinion, which is due out Monday.

This discrediting of institutions that the administration and its allies in Congress feel might inhibit reaching their goals is a bad and dangerous tactic. Institutions

reflect the thrust of history. They may be improved upon, but they should not be torn down willy-nilly. There is much value in them. (Think how much better Obamacare could be today if Republicans had worked together with Democrats to improve it over the last seven years, rather than squander those years with intransigent opposition without suggesting improvements.)

In this destructive discrediting practice, Ponzi Don’s administration is not unlike the Taliban and ISIL, which have been destroying all the historic artifacts of the territories they have taken, without regard to their historical significance or value. Ponzi Don and Taliban. It’s not only prescient, it rhymes.

Speaker of the House: I am sick to death of this Paul Ryan. He postures as a policy wonk, but he is no such thing. In fact, he is stupid, superficial and mean-spirited. He doesn’t even understand the basic concept of insurance, though he has strong opinions about it, which are punitive rather than helpful. It is a reflection on House Republicans that they suffer this fool.

Ryan thinks in terms of worthies and unworthies, rather than citizens. He’s like some character from a Dickens novel, and not one of the good guys either, but the greedy Scrooge types. He’s worse than the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus Republicans in the House. At least they are honest about their desire to shrink federal spending, however extreme. Ryan just wants to punish people for being poor.

Mother Russia: This whole business stinks on ice. There are so many villains in this piece, it’s like an Agatha Christie novel. And it is taking far too long for any of it, let alone all of it, to be sorted out. Ponzi Don’s lie about Obama is as obvious as sunshine. Vice President Michael Pence lied through his teeth when he said he didn’t know anything about Ryan’s contacts with Russia. What liars!

Trust is an issue here. Whom among this whole group is to be believed? Pence? Jefferson Beauregard Sessions? Michael Flynn? Paul Manafort? Roger Stone? Carter Page? Felix Sater? Every one of them (with the possible exception of Sater, who actually pled guilty to a crime) has lied like a rug. If Ponzi Don ever uttered a truth, his tongue would wither to dust and blow away.

One might have trusted the head of the FBI, but Comey’s reputation is destroyed by his own hand. He’s being coy and quiet now, but when it came to Hillary Clinton, he wouldn’t shut up. I, nor anyone else, will trust completely whatever he ultimately says now. I wouldn’t trust him with my burnt match sticks.

Diary Entry: Art Garfunkel came to town and put on a delightful performance. He interspersed classic Simon and Garfunkel songs with some of his own, readings of his own poetry (he borrowed a few phrases from Keats), and a couple of covers. He obviously enjoyed the evening and so did we.

His two accompanists – one on guitar and one on both a Kronos KORG and a standard piano – are fabulous musicians.

The only discordant note came not in a song, but when Garfunkel was introducing “Are you going to Scarborough Fair?” A tasteless woman in the audience called out, “It’s not your song.” Garfunkel’s reply was direct: “Yes, it is.”

Another diary entry:  I saw my first lizard of the season March 2, sunning on a rock. Today, I saw the first humans of the season, sunning themselves on their porches. I also heard doves, flickers and hawks calling for mates, and hummingbirds displaying for the same purpose.

Status of the States: Texas, as usual, is a strong candidate for the cup this week for many reasons. But the disgrace must go to Arizona, my own personal state, for this reason. Arizona has a law that forbids shooting a gun straight up in the air. Duh! But some state senators are working to lessen the penalties of this bill, so if some enthusiastic Arizonan shoots in the air and the bullet comes down and hurts someone, it would be no big deal. Apparently, Arizona feels there should be nothing you can’t do, nor anywhere you can’t go with a fire arm.

I’ve never seen a gun fired straight into the air. I’ve seen videos of this happening, but they have always been taken in places like the pile of rocks that is Afghanistan, or the ungoverned regions of Pakistan. Are we like Afghanistan? I think these state senators would feel at home in Afghanistan and I wish they would go there.

Coming Attractions: My thoughts on the Obama presidency, and thoughts on our divided nation.

Thoughts on Events the Week of November 7

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on November 15, 2016

This is not a bad dream:  Since the presidential election, I have been sleeping like a baby; I wake up every two hours, crying. But the undeniable fact is that Donald Trump is President-elect of the United States of America. He will be our leader for at least four years. Protests are understandable, but fruitless. This election will not be undone or go away.

I am in shock and disbelief. It never once entered my mind that we would eschew a well-educated, experienced woman over Ponzi Don. In addition to all his obvious faults, one thing especially worries me about him, and that’s George W Bush. I never dreamed Bush would be able to screw up the country so much in just eight years. I thought there would be some checks and balances. Ponzi Don could do as much damage to our country or worse in just four. He has control of the Senate and House, as well as the presidency.

In my “last” blog, I wrote it was my “last” blog, but I can’t do it. I can’t stop thinking about this election and what might be following. I just can’t forget about it, stop worrying about it, and to hell with citizenship. What I can and must do is keep venting. Below are some of my vents:

The Electoral College: Twice already in the 21st Century – a mere 16 years – two presidential elections 40% of the total – have been won by people who lost the popular vote, but won in the Electoral College. Since the office of president is the one and only truly nation-wide office, it should be decided by the entire popular vote, not some vestigial appendage.

The Electoral College should be abandoned. It is antiquated, and like so many other items in the Constitution, not as democratic seen today as it was when the document was written. But, I’m not sure what it will take to make this change, since the College favors small states, who tend to be conservative, and who have benefitted well by it. Politicians don’t have that kind of principle.

Polls: I always assumed that there were a lot of secret Trump voters; people who planned to vote for Trump but wouldn’t admit it to a pollster, because they knew how vile their impulse would seem. I don’t blame them; their rationales were vile. I just didn’t know that racism and xenophobia ran so broadly and deeply through so much of our country.

Another reason these polls were ludicrously wrong (you may skip this concept, you uneducated  Trump voters) is Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, which holds that the more you look at something, the less you can be sure where it might be. The very act of observing changes things, and this election was over-observed, to say the least. It seems that for the last six months there have been several polls every day. The results from that much observing, had to be impossible to find.

Deniers: Some are saying that Ponzi Don is not really planning to govern on the platform he espoused during his campaign. Nonsense. First, you play like you practice. Second, Ponzi Don relished the adulation of his followers. It was an ego orgy to him. He is not going to give that up by disappointing those followers now. In any case, I doubt Ponzi Don is going to do much governing at all. It’s too much work. I think he will leave that to his surrogates, all of whom are reactionary conservatives, if not downright anarchists. He will let them do as they wish and bring bills for him to sign at Trump Tower, where he will be doing business as usual.

Minorities: Voting among blacks was down this election, and their votes, while overwhelmingly for Clinton, were not as many, nor as high a percentage as for Obama. I understand that Obama was special for black voters, but that fewer would come out to vote against an avowed racist stuns me.

Hispanic voter registration increased, but turn out not so much more. Since Trump vowed to throw millions of Hispanics out of country, destroying families in the process, and tormenting those remaining, well, I would have expected more of a Hispanic turnout.

The ladies, bless them: The Republican Party has been abusing women’s rights to appease its base for years before Ponzi Don, a bragging assaulter of women, came on the public scene. Frankly, it has amazed me that any woman would ever vote Republican. But for Ponzi Don to win any segment of female voters, let alone young, educated ones, is absolutely astounding.

I’ve heard it opined that young female voters, having benefited from the work and sacrifice of their mothers and grandmothers, now take their rights for granted and do not see the potential threat to them that Trump’s victory poses.

Ladies, I hold you responsible for this dog’s dinner of an election most of all. And don’t give me any more of your shit about revulsion against misogyny. I don’t want to hear it from you. You just voted for the ultimate misogynist. May he grab you by the pussy and see how you like it. You’ll get no sympathy from me any longer.

The Trump Voter: Many of Trump’s voters are the usual suspects: older white guys without much education. People who feel the world they knew and felt comfortable with has changed too rapidly and frighteningly for them. And they are right about this. Change, always moving, has quickened, and much of it is due to forces over which they have little control in a global world. Their votes, in my view, were a primal scream.

It’s not that America isn’t great. We are. Since the end of World War II, we’ve had the top of the heap to ourselves. We’re still on top, but others, some devastated by that war, others pre-emergent at the time or since, are catching up. In a sane world, we would be happy about this, if for no other reason that it reduces wars, because it makes no sense to shoot one’s customers. We should want all the world’s people to be better off, not just ourselves.

I emphasize with these voters for feeling abandoned. I even sympathize with them. They have been screwed like a tethered goat by both parties for years, and they need more help. I’m only sorry that they are so god damned stupid that they think Trump is going to help them.

If you think this greedy, egomaniacal, narcissistic, xenophobic, bigoted billionaire, who has grown rich by exploiting our plutocrat-favoring tax code to enrich himself and avoid paying any taxes for decades is going to change the tax code in your favor and contrary to his own, how stupid can you be? His tax plan includes eliminating the estate tax entirely, which will only benefit the top one percent of the very rich. Does this sound like he is looking out for you?

If you think this masher is going to stop the Republicans from exploiting women, you must favor exploiting them, or enjoy being an exploited woman yourself.

If you see Trump signing bills favoring any other class at the expense of his rich friends and himself, what can you be thinking?

If you think this guy isn’t impulsive enough to get us into ruinous military adventures over a snub, real or imagined, faster even than George W. Bush, who actually lied to you to create a war, get a clue.

If you see this guy taking the presidency seriously in any way except to serve his ego and aggrandize himself, you probably think that having his kids run his businesses isn’t a reprehensible conflict of interest, and that he will never speak about his business with them for the next four years.

Remember this truth about democracy: the people get to decide, so we always get the government we deserve, and vice versa.

Status of the States: I’m sick to death of every one of them.

Coming Events: Thoughts on post-election possibilities; thoughts on feeding the earth – an essay on population, inspired by China’s change in population policy; another book review and one on a movie; thoughts on curiosity and entrepreneurship; the three most mistaken judgements of the Supremes since 2008.

NATO

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on August 5, 2016

It’s awkward to write this, but I think Ponzi Don may have a valid point about NATO.

When the Berlin fell in 1989, and the USSR came tumbling after, NATO itself began asking what its role should be going forward. In my view, they botched it, about which more below.

Thinking about it today, it is clear NATO, and our role in it, needs some re-thinking. For instance, our commitment to Western Europe is total. I see no reason to have a huge military presence there to prove it. We could reduce our military footprint there dramatically, and enjoy a nice reduction in our military budget. There is no chance for a surprise attach from Russia. First, they wouldn’t dare, and second, if they planned one we would know about it in time to respond timely, given intelligence technology today.

Another issue concerns the Baltic States of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. I have visited them all. Each of these is a beautiful little gem of a country.  They are all overjoyed at being out from under the heel of the USSR, and ecstatic for the protection of being in NATO. (Note: these countries really hated the USSR, but they don’t all feel as much animosity toward the new Russia, which they differentiate from the former, at least as long as Russia behaves.) However, I’m not sure they should have been let into NATO, because I’m not sure we would, or should, actually go to war over any of them, wonderful as they are.

And, what about Europe’s response when Russia invaded Ukraine? Ukraine is not a member of NATO, but it was moving that way after overthrowing its Russian puppet president, and it sure as hell wished it already was when Russia invaded the Crimea and parts of eastern Ukraine. NATO member or not, Ukraine is a free country on the eastern edge of Europe, and the Crimea was given to Ukraine by the USSR in the 50s by Khrushchev. Its invasion by Russia was a clear provocation by Vladimir Putin and a test of the NATO alliance’s resolve.

I would not have gone to war over Ukraine either, but the option existed to apply sanctions on Russia strong enough to force Putin to release his grip. It turns out, though, that Europe has no appetite for this, since many European countries have economic ties to Russia that they don’t want to risk by imposing truly meaningful sanctions. President Barak Obama had to move heaven and earth diplomatically to get the sanctions that  were imposed, which have been painful to Russia, but insufficient to influence Putin, who knows reticence when he see it.

When all this occurred, I thought, well, if Europe is prepared to live with Russia’s aggression toward Europe in the name of economic interests, why should we care? Which beg the question, therefore, is our role in NATO now what it should be? Perhaps it is better to let Europe make its decisions on its own and live with the consequences.

The Brexit vote indicated to me that Europe is regressing to its status quo ante of independence, suspicion, mistrust and incompetence, and do we really need to be so involved with that when our future lies in the east?

This brings me back to NATO in 1989. It was, I admit, a time requiring careful thinking, but NATO nations, including the US, stuck in the role of defensive posture against the USSR, were too rigid to adapt boldly to the new reality, and opportunity, of a new Russia. We still treated Russia as an enemy, when we should have asked Russia to JOIN NATO not cause it to fear NATO. It was, in my view, an unfortunate missed opportunity, which opened the gates to another Russian strong man, which, I also admit, seems to be Russia’s default political position. We’ll never know now if this would have worked, but diplomacy trumps weapons every time, in my experience.

Perhaps these were the thoughts going through Ponzi Don’s mind when he spoke about NATO, but I doubt it.