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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.

Thoughts on Events the Week of February 26

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on March 5, 2018

The Trans Pacific Partnership: Significantly underreported, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (dumb bastard doesn’t even know how to spell Stephen correctly) indicated that the United States might be interested in joining the TTP after all, if we can get a better deal.

The Japanese gave a very polite response to this news, which translates in Japanese diplomacy roughly to “Go fuck yourself.” With the U.S. sitting outside, the TPP partners have already reached agreement. It is a fait accompli.

It will be interesting to see if they will even let us in (I’m guessing yes), and if they will make some insignificant change that will allow Trump to claim that better deal (I’m guessing no).

It will be interesting also to see how Trump will explain this to his base, especially if the TPP won’t change any elements of the deal and Trump and Mnuchin have to shuffle into the TTP hats in hand and eyes cast down. Trump’s pulling out of this deal was almost as stupid as Hillary’s turning against it during the campaign. Don’t any of these politicians have a shred of principle?

Trump Trade Trouble: Immediately after scaring Republicans by seeming to side with Democrats over sensible gun control measures and then doing a back flip through his asshole to backtrack after hearing from the NRA, President Trump announced a 25% tariff on imported steel and a 10% one on imported aluminum.

This announcement startled almost everyone in both parties. A few knee jerk liberal Democratic legislators from upper Midwestern steel producing states think this is a good idea, or at least one many voters think it is. They’re wrong. (Remember, a knee jerk liberal is a liberal who never read an economics text.)

Trump says he will execute this order next week (giving him time to recover from his last backflip and limber up for his next one, I suppose). The order will be based on an old law from the 60s, last used by President Ronald Reagan in 1981, which permits tariffs to protect national security. Trump’s impulse won’t help national security; it will make it worse.

The reason this law isn’t used any more is that these tariffs have been proven not to work, and are self-defeating. They endanger more jobs than they protect domestically, and they invite retaliation that increase our consumer prices, can escalate to trade wars and cause serious economic instabilities. In addition, tariffs aren’t used because, despite what Trump says and his voters think, global trade is a good thing, and no sane person wants to mess with it.

Like other low skilled jobs, those in our steel industry aren’t coming back. They are lost to technology, not overseas competitors, like China, who has been smart about building its steel capacity.

Trump says his tariffs are aimed at China, but it’s going to hurt everybody else more (he’s like the Dick Cheney of trade, shooting his friends), including our allies, and our own consumers and our businesses who use steel and that other stuff, which is so difficult to spell and pronounce that American English and British English differ on it. (As George Bernard Shaw said, “America and England are separated by a common language.”)

My guess is that Trump will walk back this announcement, but he will put a small tariff on escargot imports from China so he can declare promise kept to his base.

Trump v. Sessions: Trump said Sessions was “disgraceful” for doing his job correctly by handing an internal investigation over to the Justice Department’s Inspector General, as he should have. Sessions pushed back this time. But the irony is that Sessions is disgraceful. He’s a bigot, a xenophobe, a homophobe, and stupid. He’s only done two things right in his entire career, and doing the right thing pisses Trump off no end, even if it’s only occasionally.

Sudden Thought: The reputation of everyone who joins the Trump administration is sullied. When you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas, as the saying goes. But in Trump’s administration, many already had fleas when they got there.

Football: Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett criticized his quarterback’s play extremely harshly, in public. Jason Garrett said everything about Dak Prescott’s game is all wrong.

Criticizing one’s quarterback in public is something a good coach never would do, proving again, as if more proof were needed, that Garrett is not a good coach. The Cowboys will never win it all until Garrett is gone.

Status of the States: Arizona, my own personal state, gets the cup this week, because the state legislature is taking some of the meager resources given to Arizona State University and creating schools within schools to teach revisionary classes, such as Aristotle from a “market based” perspective.

This is happening because the legislature feels that ASU, and higher education generally, is too liberal, and not good for society. To be fair, most Republicans in Arizona think so too. Arizona’s legislature is as fond of education as Huck Finn’s Pap.

 

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.

 

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.

Thoughts on Events the Week of February 19

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on February 27, 2018

Guns in Schools: I vowed not to discuss the gun control issue until something positive happens, but I can’t let this one pass. Besides, something positive may be happening. True, there has been not a centimeter of meaningful legislative movement, but a whole lot of articulate young people, at or nearing voting age, are seriously pissed about being shot at, and are challenging politicians and the NRA. This is a new and interesting development.

President Trump has glommed onto an NRA endorsed solution – arming teachers to shoot bad guys. Of course the NRA likes this idea. It means more gun sales, the only goal of the NRA, which is owned by the gun manufacturers. It is, however, an atrociously bad idea. Here’s a mathematical formula to explain why:

Guns in schools = gun shootings in schools

Every weekday, about 51 million school children K thru 12, go to 13,600 schools. If nobody brings a gun, there are no gun shots, let alone deaths. If somebody brings a gun, people get shot. No guns, no gun shots. Guns, gun shots. It’s that simple.

It is inevitable that if teachers have guns, students will find them eventually, and sooner than you think. Potential shooters won’t even have to sneak them into school. The guns are already there waiting for them.

If a shooter gets a gun into a school, or acquires one from a teacher’s desk drawer, there will be gun fire. If there are multiple armed teachers, there will also be crossfire, which is likely only to make matters worse. One can envision a teacher crouched behind the bodies of dead students shooting across a classroom at who knows who?

Especially in large schools, having a trained policeman on duty is not an abhorrent idea (though we saw how that worked out during the Florida high school killing spree). But patrolmen cost money, and I would hate to see it come out of the education budget. Here in Arizona, legislators are so parsimonious with education funding that we already 48th lowest of the 50 states in spending per student.

No, more guns is not the answer; fewer guns is the answer, starting with all assault rifles and military grade weapons of any kind. The assault weapons ban (AWB) enacted in 1994, with a number of loopholes, did not produce a statistically significant reduction in mass murders, it’s true. But data has shown large increases in the rate of mass shootings that began when the ban was lifted in 2004, thank you very much for not renewing it, President Bush. They have to go.

My lowest acceptable gun control measure would be a truly robust, universal background check system, which would prohibit unworthy people from being able to purchase any kind of gun legally, and prosecute anyone who sells them one, or gives them one knowing their status.

Those unworthy would include, but not be limited to: every convicted felon; anyone who has been institutionalized for issues of mental health; anyone found guilty of abuse; anyone brandishing a firearm in a public space; anyone making threats of physical violence on social media; anyone with a restraining order against them; every foreign visitor or non-citizen. By the time we get guns away from people who shouldn’t own them, there will be a lot fewer shootings.

CPAC: The annual convention of the truly crazies (no garden variety conservatives are allowed entry any more) was held this week. I only watch a little of it each year to get a reality check and a good laugh.

At least two high level representatives of the NRA were there the first day, ostensibly to give red meat speeches to the rabidly salivating attendees about the Second Amendment, but really to remind politicians who owns their base.

Oh, and Trump gave a speech there also. He began reading lines written by someone else, but spit the bit and began his typical rant. He shouted “Crooked Hillary,” and the audience shouted “Lock her up.” This is a year and a quarter after the election. I told you they are crazy.

Trump can only see backward; he can’t look forward. Like actual conservatives, he is afraid of the future. He has reason to be: Robert Mueller.

Sudden Thought: The Trump Administration wants to dismantle our institutions. I want them back. Does that make me a backward-longing conservative now?

Status of the States: Texas gets the cup this week, based on the stated positions on gun control of its two U.S. Senators, since the Parkland, FL high school shooting. Ted Cruz continues to stand firm against any measures. John Cornyn, Senate Majority Whip, has started saying we need to act, but his record thwarting gun control legislation of any kind, even as he talks the talk now, is unparalleled.

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.)

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts on Events the Week of February 12

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on February 19, 2018

The Magic Number is 48: That’s how many people went to jail for the Watergate related crimes against our democracy. It remains to be seen if the Russian crimes will exceed that number of crooks, but the count seems certain to increase significantly from the two who have already confessed.

It seems unlikely, though not impossible, that the 13 Russian citizens indicted by the Special Counsel’s grand jury this week will ever be tried. I don’t see them visiting America any time soon. I don’t think that American guy in California we indicted is going to avoid prosecution, though.

I’m not sure what messages the DOJ was sending with the Russian indictments, or to whom, but I think one result will be to loose the dogs in various agencies to defend the security of our upcoming elections aggressively, no matter what Trump wants.

Or maybe the Magic Number is Two: That’s the number of women (so far) who have claimed, persuasively, to have had affairs with Trump, in each of these cases, fairly early in Trump’s marriage, and shortly after Mrs. Trump gave birth to her son. I’m curious just how many of these public humiliations Mrs. Trump is willing to put up with. Standing by your man is one thing, but, Damn!

Disclaimer repeat: I don’t really care who Trump screws or pees on or vice versa or whatever he enjoys, as long as it doesn’t interfere with his job.  It’s his business and none of my own. Women he assaults, however, is another matter entirely.

Status of the States: Oklahoma gets the worst state cup this week, because of favorite son Scott Pruitt, former Oklahoma Attorney General and current head of the Environmental Protection Agency, and sworn enemy of the environment. (Pruitt was actually born in Kentucky, which explains a lot, but Oklahoma nurtured him into what he has become, which is not much.)

The reason we recognize Pruitt today is that has canceled a “business trip” to Israel because he can’t fly there first class. This begs the question how important could this trip really have been? And if it was important, why didn’t he suck it up and go?

Pruitt has caused a stink by flying first class everywhere and running up $90,000* in travel expenses in a short time. Pruitt’s excuse for flying first is tone deaf and lame, also. He says when he flies coach with ordinary citizens, he hears complaints about his policies from some of them, which he finds “unpleasant.”

So, the EPA Administrator addresses complaints about his policies by flying first class to escape criticism. It hasn’t even occurred to him, apparently, that perhaps he should rethink some of his policies. What a putz! Pruitt fits comfortably into the Trump Administration in every corrupt and incompetent way.

*To be fair to Pruitt, Trump probably spends that much or more every night he spends away from the White House at a Trump property.

Thoughts on Events the Week of February 5

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on February 16, 2018

The Democratic Memo: The Democrats on the completely compromised House Intelligence Committee chaired by the completely discredited Devin Nunes (R-CA, and pig in shit’s clothing), wrote their own memo to refute Nunes’ earlier, already completely discredited memo. President Trump refused to permit the release of the Democrats’ clarifying memo almost as fast as the allowed the Nunes memo to be released, which is even before he saw it.

The Democrats are now trying to get their memo released. This is a serious tactical mistake, not unlike many tactical mistakes they have made recently. With a nod to Paul McCartney, they should let it be:

1. The Nunes memo is already discredited. They don’t need to do any more to discredit it.
2. Nothing in the Democrat’s memo, no matter how factual or accurate, could dissuade Trump voters.
3. As it stands, all but Trump voters think the Nunes memo is political horseshit, and that Trump is deliberately suppressing the Democrat’s memo for fear and partisan political spite. Ken Roman said “when it goes without saying, go without saying it.” Let Republicans stew in it without comment.

The Tesla Rocket: Elon Musk shot a rocket into space via his company SpaceX. It was the first successful, really big rocket launch by a private company.

The most amazing thing about this launch is that the rocket booster rockets returned to earth and landed softly and vertically onto targeted pads. I haven’t seen anything remotely like that except in improbable science fiction movies. It was jaw dropping.

I still don’t see a successful business model in what Musk is doing with his rocket, unlike his cars, other than to launch really rich people into space for a very hefty price. (I hope he succeeds, because space travel is still risky business, and eventually a rocket will fail and take out a lot of spoiled, unworthy people.) I suppose his vision involves long range plans to extract and return minerals from extraterrestrial sources for hefty government payments.

Or, it could be just for intellectual curiosity and excitement. This guy thinks far and deep. Bravo, Mr. Lusk.

Olympic Calamity: Did you see Vice President Pence at the Olympics, staring straight ahead, stone faced and uncomfortable, with Kim Yo Jong, North Korea’s representative to the Olympics (the exact title as Pence for the U.S.) sitting right behind him. Pence made Richard Nixon look positively laid back in his own skin. What a putz.

Pence didn’t even acknowledge Kim, let alone introduce himself and shake her hand. Diplomacy Trump Administration style. South Korean President Moon Jae-In sure shook hands with Kim, another indication that the world is moving on without us.

Status of the States: Watching snatches of the Winter Olympics, I was reminded that all of the worst states stink on ice, so they may all share the cup this week.

“Shithole”

Posted in Reviews - of books, mostly by EloiSVM42 on February 10, 2018

I’m pretty proud of the Fourth Estate these days. The media is taking its responsibility seriously. The newspaper war between the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times for scoops about the Trump administration is absolutely thrilling. It’s amazing how many reporters each paper has put on the beat, and it is paying off with great stories and increased circulation, which translates directly to advertising revenues.

That said, the media’s treatment of one story went off the rails in a way that, except for being serious, was rather funny. When President Trump displayed his racism and xenophobia by referring to Haiti, and African countries broadly as “shithole countries,” the media stumbled all over itself about how to handle Trump’s comment. Shit is one of the seven words you are not supposed to say on television.

Some wrote “S***hole” or said “S-hole.” Others just wrote or said it was a “vulgar term,” or “something that can’t be said on the air.” One news network said “Shithole” but then backtracked to “S-hole.”

Chaos doubled when one of Trump’s defenders said Trump didn’t say the word at all (he did), and redoubled when some moron defender said he said “Shithouse” instead, giving us the dictionary example of a distinction without a difference. (Samantha Bee, of course, said Shithole right off the bat, which for her is mild anyway.) Eventually, most media outlets worked up the courage to quote what Trump said directly.

With a nod to Bill Maher, New Rule: when a word is used in a quote, use the quote. Don’t try to soften it. That’s not only too politically correct, but it distorts the intended emphasis and sounds silly. This is especially true for the President, whose words, for better or worse, speak officially for the government.

For example, the word “nigger” is one I would never use…unless I was doing a public reading of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. In that context, it is a quote. It is his word; Twain chose it deliberately, in this case to strengthen his pointed opposition to slavery. (“The difference between a word and just the right word, is the difference between “lightning” and “lightning bug”.” – Mark Twain) I cringe or scoff every time I hear or read “the ‘N’ word.” It’s so, so precious and pusillanimous.