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Thoughts on Events the Week of March 19

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on March 30, 2018

John Bolton, Truly Nuts: On one level, it’s kind of funny, really. When President Trump named his first Cabinet, many, including me, were concerned about having so many retired generals (Flynn, Kelly and Mattis, to start) in the pack.  Others were more optimistic, thinking flag officers might be able to bring understanding of the horrors of war to a president so removed from reality.

So far, it hasn’t worked out very well either way. Flynn didn’t last a month, so we’ll leave him to the tender mercies of John Mueller. He was replaced by another general, genuine war hero and soldier/scholar H. R. McMaster. Far too intelligent and mature for the Trump Administration, McMaster is out, leaving only Kelly and Mattis, and Kelly is hanging by a thread, which either Trump or he may cut any day now.

Ordinarily, I might feel sanguine about such developments, but Trump has replaced McMaster with John Bolton, who is barking mad. Bolton is a war monger. He advocates a preemptive strike on North Korea, which would in the first hour cause 100,000 deaths, about a quarter of them American troops stationed in South Korea. This doesn’t seem to bother Bolton.

Bolton also advocates breaking the nuclear agreement with Iran, which is working, and then bombing Iran. He was an aggressive promoter of the Iraq War to President Bush, the worst foreign policy catastrophe in our history.

This is the last man in the world who should be allowed in the White House. He might convince Trump that a nuclear exchange is winnable. We haven’t heard that kind of crazy talk since Air Force General Curtis Le May was George Wallace’s running mate in the 60s. (Even the Wallace campaign concluded Le May was a liability (read crazy.))

Privacy: I’m feeling pretty smug right now. I predicted this would happen. My strongly held opinions about privacy have been out of fashion for a while – I maintain that privacy should be cherished, and everyone, including celebrities and politicians, should have at least some measure of it – but younger generations have been OK with giving their privacy away.

I also maintain that so much information previously considered private is already out there, so that horse is out of the barn. We can no longer keep our information private, so we must control how it is used. The Facebook – Cambridge Analytica crime, for that’s what it is, or ought to be, proves my point.

It horrifies and mortifies me to think that information about me may have helped President Trump get elected in any way. I’ve canceled my Facebook page.

Stormy Daniels Speaks: OK, I admit it. I watched the interview of Stormy Daniels on “60 Minutes.” The term “affair,” seems somewhat exaggerated. The way Daniels described it seems more like dinner and a one night stand, with a little non-contact connection, petering out, so to speak, thereafter. Common as dirt. Hell, I’ve had lots of them.

I disagree with the pundits and lawyers who say the public has a right to know about all this. It’s consensual sex, and rather dated sex at that. None of our business.

Now, the payoff money is a whole other story. That turns a roll in the hay into a complicated, suspicious business transaction. We should know more about that.

A Bipartisan excuse for a Spending Bill: Congress passed and Trump signed a $1.3 Trillion omnibus spending bill to scrape by on until the end of the fiscal year. It is an obscenely odious bill in every way; too much money spent on too many of the wrong things. Couple this with the $1.5 Trillion tax cut and we’ve blown the deficit up like a hot air balloon. (We used to joke that a million here, a million there can add up to some money. Now, we’re joking that way about trillions.)

Mel Brooks famously said that some things are so awful the only thing you can do is laugh at them. I can’t laugh at the disgraceful way we are pissing away our own and our children’s future. I hope that when our teenagers have thrown out all the NRA-sponsored rascals, they will replace them with more fiscally responsible grownups.

Speaking of those Teenagers: whatever our personal opinion of the Second Amendment, and our expectations or cynicism of what comes next, you have to be impressed with those kids who organized, lead and performed so maturely and eloquently during the “March for our Lives” protest. It brought tears to my eyes to see their enthusiasm, their idealism, their determination…and their numbers!

Could it be that the end of the NRA’s reign of gun violence will be at the hands of high school students who are young enough to be traumatized by the mass murder of their friends and classmates; old enough to understand the trend in school student shooting; smart enough to see more such carnage in their future; mad enough to take action and able to speak up for themselves? Oh, and old enough to vote in 2018 and/or 2012.

Status of the States: Two of our worst states – Kansas and Arizona – beg mentioning this week, but not indictment. One mention evokes the past; the other the future.

Linda Brown, the symbol of “Brown v. Board of Education, Topeka, Kansas,” the landmark Supreme Court decision of 1954 that outlawed segregated public schools, died this week. She was 75. So, the symbol is gone, but segregation still lives on in some spaces.

Arizona made the news because one of Uber’s self-driven test automobiles struck and killed a pedestrian near Tucson. The finding seems to be that the woman stepped into traffic quickly, at night and not in a crossing zone. Likely she would have been struck even if there had been a driver at the wheel, in those circumstances.

On average, 16 pedestrians are killed by cars each day in the U.S. Pedestrian deaths account for 15% of total motor vehicle related deaths. Self-driven automobiles are expected to improve automobile safety and reduce casualties and deaths. But oddly, pedestrian fatalities are increasing – up 11% last year – in the short term. Texting, by drivers and walkers, seems to be the culprit.

The evolving technology is clearly the future, and it will have very positive effects on our safety, the economy and the environment. But it will never be perfect, and it is useless to expect it to be. With human beings involved (such as morons who walk out into dark streets at night without a signal light or other crossing protection) guarantees that.

There will be more, though fewer, deaths and injuries, ultimately. I’m sorry Uber didn’t keep on truckin’, but they’ll resume soon. Technology will go where it can go.

 

 

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