Cowboys Season Kick-off

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on September 11, 2018

I went to my favorite sports bar to watch the Cowboys play the Carolina Panthers, because game was blacked out in the Phoenix market for the Cardinals game, which aired at the same time. I felt pretty football wise after watching what of the Dallas Cowboys game I could stomach. It confirmed my predictions, expectations and worst case fears.

First of all, I never expected the Cowboys to beat the Panthers. The Panthers are simply a better team. I’m sorry, wishful Cowboy fans, but the Panther’s quarterback-running back tandem of Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey is better than the Cowboy tandem of Prescott and Elliott, in part because they had actually played in the preseason.

The Cowboys played almost exactly as I expected. The defense was markedly improved. Dallas held the Panthers to 16 points. Tom Landry used to tell his defenses that if they held the opponent to 17 points or under, his offense would win the game. He was always right. 

That said, like the team overall, the defense was undisciplined; jumping off side, crashing the quarterback when they should have been holding the edge, etc.) Lack of discipline is strictly a coaching issue. Good coaches don’t stand for it.

The offense was, how shall I say this charitably? Rusty. Uncharitably, they stank on ice (even my spell checker doesn’t know how to conjugate the verb “to stink” properly).

This is what you get when a team’s key players hadn’t played enough in preseason, or at all.  Penalties galore, a signature feature of an undisciplined Jason Garrett coached team.

I watched through three beers and the third quarter, until I just couldn’t watch any more, and came home. In the fourth quarter, after three scoreless ones, the Cowboys produced an 8 point whimper.   

And, it might have helped a little if the Cowboys hadn’t cut their great field goal kicker Dan Bailey, in favor of a misfiring rookie. 

I watched some of the Cleveland Browns game with interest. They were spirited, but hapless. They tied, 21-21. Ben Roethlisberger gave up three interceptions and a lost fumble, and all the Browns could do was tie. They had a chance to win with a makeable last second field goal, but botched it. I see Baker Mayfield, or a riot, in the Browns’ near future. Mayfield would have won this game for Cleveland. 

My beloved Sooners, on the other hand, are playing super. They just need to avoid too many injuries and the unexpected upset (remember the inexplicable Iowa State debacle) to have an excellent season.



NFL Kick-off 2018

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on September 7, 2018

The NFL kicked off its season officially with a Thursday night game between the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles and the Atlanta Falcons, a team the Eagles defeated to get into the Super Bowl.

I respect both of these teams, and I expected a good game. It was exciting, but the game stank on ice. It was one of the worst exciting NFL games I ever watched.

The game was exciting only due to the teams’ mutual ineptitude. I stopped counting in exasperation, but the stats said the number of accepted penalties in the game was 26.

With one very notable exception – Julio Jones (10 catches for 169 yards) – everything about this night stank. The game stank, the players stank, the officiating stank, the replay officiating stank, the rules stank, even the weather stank.

To be fair to the officials and the replay people, the Rules Committee seems to be making the game almost impossible to officiate. Many of the new rules and clarifications of existing ones invite confusion. Julio Jones had an 11th spectacular, obvious catch under the new, nuanced but not improved, rules, which everyone, including the announcers and their rules expert in the booth said it clearly was, and the officials and replay officials debated at length before deciding it wasn’t.

Between the stops for penalties, challenges and official replays, not to mention the 45 minute rain delay, the game seemed to go on for the length of a Bible.

I think another factor contributing to this sloppy game is a change in philosophy among teams about use of players during preseason. Teams used to be cautious about risking injury to their key players by limiting their exposure, but all players got enough snaps to be ready for the season opener.

Today, many teams hold their key players out for most or even all preseason snaps. It’s not completely crazy. These guys are so costly, that you can understand why owners might not want to risk an injury to them. But, it will result in the kind of rusty play I saw last night, not to mention rendering preseason games, and their ticket prices, a sham and a scandal, respectively.

If I’m right about this, and, well, I am, we will see many more sloppy first games this coming weekend.


Oh, the Eagles won 18-12. zzzzzzzzzzz



Preseason NFL Football

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on August 29, 2018

I watched some NFL football this preseason, as usual, but also as usual, only in small amounts and not with a lot of enthusiasm. I only watch the first quarter of preseason games at most, because that’s about the only time the starters play. That said, I’m always grateful to see football start up again.

For the same reason that starters only play a quarter or less in most preseason games, NFL preseason tickets should cost at most no more than one fourth of a regular season ticket, but that’s a Carol for another Christmas.

Oddly, the last game of most teams’ preseason can be worth watching, because teams generally hold their starters out and use the game for a last long look at the players fighting for the last few open roster spots, and give those players one last chance to make an impression. You generally see a lot of hustle, and occasionally see a player break through. Good stuff.

Some – most, actually – of these players still won’t make the roster, but they could end up on someone’s taxi squad, or even picked up by another team based on their play in that final game. Teams will all have footage of their play to review if need be.

Several teams impressed. Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers looked crisp. I like their running back – Christian McCaffrey. Tom Brady and the New England Patriots looked like, well, how the New England Patriots always look. Oakland impressed me. The Chargers looked good, though they always do, early. Minnesota can play. Philadelphia will be competitive again if they can get a quarterback on the field.

Of interest to me is the Cleveland Browns, who didn’t win a single game last year, but who got Baker Mayfield with their No. 1 pick in the draft as their booby prize.

Mayfield is not the starter. The Browns traded for a decent starter, Tyrod Taylor, who they got from the Bills this year. But Mayfield has a spark very few players have, and a competitive spirt that Cleveland needs desperately. There’s never been a team dumb enough or otherwise able to keep Mayfield off the field. (“Field” is part of his name.) It will be interesting to see what Cleveland does with Mayfield, but they need to do something.

That said, the rest of the team is still terrible. They will win a few games this year, but they need a lot more pieces, and I’m not sure the present management can find them with a flashlight and a bow fiddle. But Mayfield will make them better.

Sadly, little impressed me about my Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys’ defense has clearly improved, and it has the potential to become even better. Their excellent offensive line is banged up and/or ill. The rest is the same old, same old. Same owner. Same coach, which in the case of the Cowboys are one in the same. (The coach – Jason Garrett – wanted to play the starting quarterback and running back for at least a half to prepare them for the season, and the owner – Jerry Jones – did not. The players did not play. Who’s the coach?)

That’s a big part of the problem. The team has little or no respect for the coach, because the players know he’s just a marionette whose strings are pulled by Jerry Jones. (I don’t respect Garrett either, but that’s because I just don’t think he is a good coach.) There’s no reason to take Garrett seriously.

Among the unfortunate results of this woeful dynamic is that there is no discipline, no focus. Dallas’ first two punt receptions were both fumbled and both lost, one for touchdown. It was painful to watch, and I turned it off. I read the next morning that the Cowboys lost eight turnovers! Does that sound like a team ready to compete?  Sounds more like last year’s Cleveland Browns to me.

I’ll repeat my years old mantra: Jerry Jones is the best owner in the NFL, but he is a menace when he thinks he knows something about football, which he does frequently enough to damage them. The Cowboys will not succeed again until there is a new coach and Jones lets him actually coach. Jones has succeeded this way before but cannot see it. He ran off two Super Bowl winning coaches (technically three), who simply wouldn’t put up with his interference.

(BTW, the Arizona Cardinals, a team I watch, living in Arizona, also seems in trouble. They got Sam Bradford, another former OU player and among the most accurate passers I have ever seen, but, other than Larry Fitzpatrick, no one on the team can catch a pass. Bradford threw several passes into the hands of receivers who promptly dropped them. Bradford left the game after just a couple of series, rolling his eyes.)


John McCain

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

John McCain, one of my own personal senators, passed away last weekend, so I feel I should write something about him. In these circumstances, the Shakespearian “Mark Anthony” rule typically applies, but I have written about McCain before, so in the interest of intellectual consistency, these remarks cannot be all praise. I refer to him as the senior senile senator from Arizona, for crying out loud. But let’s begin with the praise.

McCain behaved as a true patriot and statesman regarding the Vietnam War, which gave him some significant moral suasion with me:

When he was offered release from a Vietnamese prisoner of war camp, where he was being tortured regularly, he refused to leave until his men were released also, so there he remained there until the end of the war. That is pure courage and heroism.

Thereafter, he opposed President George W. Bush regarding our own torture of prisoners of war, and bless him for that.

Likewise, he was among the first public figures to argue for reconciliation and return to normal relations with Vietnam after the war. A lesser man would have remained angry and vengeful, but McCain was able to look forward.

Later, at a campaign event against Barak Obama in the 2008 election, he politely corrected an ignorant, wretched woman, a religiously intolerant xenophobe, who called Obama an Arab, but she meant Muslim and nigger, and said Obama was a decent man, when it was clear the Republican base didn’t feel that way at all. That took political courage and decency.

Finally, among his very last votes in the Senate, he put an end to Republicans’ attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Now to the unpraiseworthy stuff. McCain was not a Maverick, but a garden variety right wing conservative until circa 2000. But after he was smeared viciously by President Bush in the South Carolina primary, he sensed where the wind was blowing in the Republican Party and shifted to the rabid right, remaining there, with the ACA vote exception, for the rest of his life.

McCain never saw a war he didn’t approve of, or want to join or to start. He stood shoulder to shoulder with John Bolton in this regard (Senator Lindsay Graham sat at McCain’s feet). As head of the Senate Armed Services Committee, he saw the answer to every problem as a war.

Campaigning for the presidency against Barak Obama, he selected for his Vice Presidential running mate Sarah Palin, a women as unfit for the office of president, should it have come to that, as its current occupant. It was an unconscionable decision.

And on his very last important vote in the Senate, McCain supported the odious tax cuts that enriched himself and a very small number of other extremely rich people at the expense of the general American population. Hardly a principled vote.

That is both sides of my view of Senator McCain.




John Wayne Movies

Posted in Reviews - of books, mostly by EloiSVM42 on August 26, 2018

I’ve been thinking about John Wayne movies. Well, actually I’ve been thinking about Cynthia, which led to thinking about John Wayne Movies. Cynthia didn’t care for them. She thought he wasn’t a particularly good actor and that his movies were dated and politically incorrect. And, she was no big fan of westerns. She was right about all this, of course, up to a point.

Probably alone among John Wayne fans, my favorite of his movies is Donovan’s Reef. I love that movie. But talk about dated and politically incorrect. It is so much so that in the ending scene, Wayne puts his love interest over his knee and spanks her. And, of course, there is the obligatory, improbable, barroom brawl scene.

On the other hand, the movie makes a subtle but clear anti-racism statement, and takes a hard poke at Puritanism.

Plus, it has some interesting supporting cast members, including Lee Marvin, Dorothy Lamour, Cesar Romero, Jack Warden, Edgar Buchanan, some, but not all, playing against type. Patrick Wayne has a small, uncredited role as an Australian naval officer, butchering an Aussie accent.

Finally, the movie was shot in Kauai, Hawai’i, so the scenery is beautiful.  What’s not to like about that?

Another of my favorite Wayne movies is McClintock, an admittedly pedestrian western with a truly over-the-top brawl in a mud hole. Cynthia hated this movie and couldn’t understand why I liked it. Well, for one thing, Maureen O’Hara was in it, and Chill Wills. Plus, the movie takes a hard view of the mistreatment of American Indians, particularly on the part of government officials who were supposed to look after them. In those days, Indian Affairs officials were a loathsome, incompetent and corrupt lot.

The Quite Man is, without question, a truly, flat out great movie (also with Maureen O’Hara). And I liked Rooster Cogburn (but, boy, Glenn Campbell was a terrible actor). The rest of the John Wayne movies, including the acclaimed The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, are to me take ‘em or leave ‘em, and I wouldn’t argue with Cynthia about them.

Why I Blog

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on August 25, 2018

I began a blog after I retired. This is my 500th blog post. I began blogging for two reasons. First, putting my thoughts down on paper aids my thinking. Actually, it’s the second step – editing – that most helps. Once my thought is written down, I can subject it to more precise scrutiny. Do I mean precisely what I wrote? Is it factually correct? Do the adjectives and adverbs modify my noun or verb as I mean them to? In other words, am I writing what I mean say, and does what I wrote reflect what I am really thinking?

The second reason I started blogging is that I want my children to know where and for what I stand, as they make their own decisions in life. Like most parents, I suspect, as my children were leaving the nest, I thought of so many things I wanted them to know before they fledged but hadn’t yet told them, so the blog is my way of chasing after them as they fly off, with last minute cautions, counsel, encouragement, advice and tears.

I thought about writing down all my beliefs and philosophy in a book for my children, but it would have been a short book. I don’t have many absolute beliefs, and my children know those already. So, I stumbled on the idea of making commentary on the important events of each week, as I rated them, anyway, as a kind of ongoing, real time position statement.

However, like so many, my writing and thinking has been high-jacked by President Trump, whose behavior is as mesmerizing as it is odious. I have been writing about him constantly, which has become a not only infuriating but depressing task. Journalists have to do it, but at least they are being paid. I suspect, however, that many of them find the job distasteful and enervating.  

But I don’t have to do it, not least because other, professional writers are doing it better, and so I’m not going to for a while.

Truth to tell, since Cynthia died recently, none of this seems nearly as important to me anymore. My life is sad enough these days without thinking about Trump, so I’m going to try not to. I’m going to take a two month sabbatical from Trump news, and if I enjoy it as much as I think I may, maybe longer.

I’ll continue to write the occasional blog, on no particular timetable and about anything that I find interesting, positive and having nothing to do with Trump or his administration. But until at least mid-October, I’m not going to let him add to the sadness of my days any more.

One final, parting shot. Trump is a pig of a human being. He’s less than a pig. He’s a pig part. And the worst thing about him, the most depressing thing, is that we elected him. I am choking on what that signifies about us as a nation, and I just don’t want to think about it anymore.


What will it take to break the fever?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What I’m Seeing in the Personal Economy

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on July 31, 2018

I wrote recently about the two economies: the macro economy, of interest only to students of economics, policy makers and fat cats; and the personal economy, of interest to people with daily lives. Several months ago, I began seeing something in town that I hadn’t seen in quite a while: Help Wanted signs in store windows. This was the first tangible evidence that the recovery from the Great Recession President Bush inflicted on us was finally being felt in the personal economy and not just the macro one.

Three byproducts associated with this increase in labor demand also became apparent.

First, sensing, I think, that the average consumer would see a little visible lift in his or her paycheck at the beginning of the year due to Trump’s tax cuts, many businesses took the opportunity to raise prices effective then. This happened with every one of my utility bills, for instance.

Second, wages began to rise, just perceptibly, not anything like what economists would predict at our current level of employment and this deep into a recovery.

This increase is due in part to some local and state government-mandated minimum wage increases. These increases to minimum wages are not very large, certainly not large enough to make a truly significant difference in people’s lives, but they were real and visible.

It’s understandable why wages haven’t risen as much as might be expected after this recovery. Most of the new jobs are low skilled ones, going to less educated workers. You can understand why employers would not want to pay such workers a lot for doing simple jobs.

This problem will remain intractable until we have more education and training of low skilled labor, and truly significant increases in minimum wages. Not the piss ant ones we have now, but something a person could actually live on.

I would like to see a graduated minimum wage, topping out to a family of four. Single people get one wage, married couples get more, a family with one child gets more still, and then minimum wage maxes out at two children. We don’t want to encourage too large families. (Maybe this will put pressure on the abortion debate.)

Third, the Fed, one of whose roles is to worry about inflation, has started raising interest rates. Trump doesn’t like this, and said so publicly, something a president  should never do, but he is wrong, if that’s not being redundant. (Trump speaks; he is wrong or he is lying.  Ergo, redundant.) Inflation steals buying power from paychecks. It should be controlled.

Another proven theft of buying power is tariffs. They are a tax on income in the form of higher prices, which hit hardest on the working classes. Trump is tossing tariffs around like Skittles at Angela Merkel.

It is just beginning to dawn on Midwestern farmers – particularly soybean growers and pork producers, but ultimately all of us – that Trump’s tariffs are threatening their livelihoods. And the idea of handing out (pitifully inadequate) welfare checks to compensate farmers for big losses they wouldn’t be experiencing if the tariffs hadn’t been imposed in the first place, is not only stupid, but can’t sit well with legislators who have to explain the logic of it to their constituents.

On the Macro Economy side, unemployment is low and GDP is growing. These are good things, but the distribution of benefits of them are inequitable, as Trump knew they would be. Despite his campaign promises, he deliberately gave all the money to his rich friends, who have tossed a little down to workers, as John D. Rockefeller tossed dimes to children in Detroit. A lot of people are looking at these numbers and thinking why are they not feeling any of this.

(One worrisome detail in the macro economy is that the vast majority of growth in stock market value is coming from fewer than 10 stocks, one of which – Facebook – is in investor doo doo. It’s a lot of eggs in very few baskets.)

The economy has been temporarily hyper-stimulated by Trump’s tax cuts, but even after benefits to the personal economy have run through the system, which economists say will occur sometime in late 2019, the overall economy should still be OK. However, Trump’s policies can undermine it some, and they sure as hell aren’t doing anything for the people he promised to help and who were dumb enough to believe him.

Thoughts on Events the Week of July 23

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on July 29, 2018

The Russians: Some Republicans think it might not look so good for their president to be kissing Putin’s ring in the U.S. Capitol so close to the mid-term elections. Duh. So, their leaders – McConnell (Senate) and Ryan (House) – persuaded Trump to postpone his invitation to Putin to visit until after the New Year (read elections). The argument McConnell may have used was, “Are you out of your goddamn mind!?” An obviously wise decision, but rare for Republicans to cross their godhead like that.

Meanwhile, the meeting between Russians and Trump campaign people, including Trump relatives, persists in the news, because it smells so much like, you know, collusion. Liberals are throwing around words such as criminal and impeachment, which is nonsense. Until Robert Mueller speaks, and depending on what he finds, this is irresponsible.

That said, it did feel like the flame under the pot of water in which the frog who is our president stews, got turned up just a bit this week.

The FBI arrested Maria Butina, a Russian agent and National Rifle Association groupie for being what she is. (Those Ruskies. They really knew where to look to find people dumb enough to buy into Trump.)

The Russians want Butina back, but not the NRA. They know big trouble when they see it, and they have been hiding silently under the refrigerator since she was tagged.

If Butina brings down the NRA, and it results in much better gun laws and many fewer guns, it all may have been worth it, by which I mean the Russian meddling. Nothing is worth having Trump as president. I don’t think the Russians won the election for Trump; Comey did. But the Russians can’t be allowed to do that anymore.

Tariffs: The inevitable pain induced by trade wars is starting to become apparent to Midwestern Trump voters, especially those who grow soybeans and raise pigs. Feeling the heat, the frog is promising a $12 Billion bailout to help alleviate the pain the farmers are experiencing, which pain Trump created in the first place. Not only is the bailout woefully inadequate, it wouldn’t have been necessary if Trump hadn’t started the tariff tit for tat, but welfare is, or was, anathema to the Republican Party. Are any Republicans starting to see the dawning light? Too soon?

In the realm of sane world trade, the EU and Japan moved on from Trump and made a pact between them, eliminating $1.2 Billion in tariffs on automobiles going either way, and leaving American auto workers to re-think their Trump votes.

Finally, Trump announced a deal with the EU to halt the tariff tiff between them at the status quo, and work to lower trade barriers even further, which will require longer term thinking, not Trump’s strong suit.

The irony in this Trump reversal is that this deal is precisely what President Obama was working on (pre Trump’s tariffs) with the EU, and until now Trump has rejected everything Obama ever did or said. Remember when Trump said trade wars are easy and he would win them all? No light yet?

Meanwhile, Trump still has the Chinese tariff tiger by the tail, and China isn’t purring. That tariff problem will hurt America a lot more than any of the other Trump tariff screw ups. It will hurt China, too, probably even more than us, but then China doesn’t have to hold elections.

Ineligible monsters: Experiencing a backlash even this administration could recognize as big trouble over its policy of separating children and parents crossing the border to seek asylum, the Trump administration seems to have worked hard to try to reunite the families before the court ordered deadline last Thursday. Some 1,440 children have been reunited with their parents, or about 56% of the acknowledged 2,500 separated. Good effort, but no cigar. That leaves about 1,100 children in the wind.

The government says 463 of the remaining children can’t be reunited because their parents were deported without them! Another 711, the government – using obviously scrambled numbers – says are “ineligible to be returned.” What the hell does that even mean? Just what is an ineligible child?

So, what should happen next? I have some thoughts:

First, the judge should tell Attorney General Sessions to get his bigoted butt down to Mexico, find those parents and bring them back to the U.S. to re-unite them with their children and re-adjudication of their cases, and stay there until his department finds them all.

Second, explain who, and exactly why each of the 711remaining children are “ineligible to be returned,” and the explanations better be damn good ones.

Third, put on hold all such deportations until further notice, hire a lot more judges to adjudicate refugee status claims timely instead of pissing away a bunch of money on temporary prisons, and give each refugee claimant adequate access to an ACLU or other attorney for counsel.

Finally, redefine “ineligible” to comprise the inconceivably barbaric, unfeeling, incompetent people responsible for this cock-up in the first place, to be “ineligible for public service.”

Football: I have long maintained that Jerry Jones is the best owner in the NFL, but this week, he did something incredibly stupid. He said any Cowboy who takes a knee during the national anthem will be cut. We know this is credibly stupid for two reasons. First, Trump praised Jones for it, and second, because Jones won’t do it. Sure, if some player far down the roster were to kneel, he might get cut, but if Ezekiel Elliot of Dak Prescott, for instance, did, they wouldn’t be, and then Jones would be in a pickle.

I actually sympathize with the owners just a little bit over this issue, because the players represent the team and the league on the field. You can understand why they would want to protect that investment, but they are going about it all wrong. NFL guys, do like colleges do: play the national anthem before the teams come onto the field.

Then, work with the players union to create and sponsor the NFL “Fund for Social Justice” to help poor minorities with discrimination legal cases. Problem solved. Jesus.

Hotel Trump: News that a federal judge is letting the emoluments suit against at least the Trump Hotel in D.C. go forward brought to mind that James Carville and I have the same prediction how Trump will most likely leave office: He’ll just quit.

Person of Interest: I’m going back to John Bolton, who broke the land speed record for doing a back flip through his own asshole, turning himself inside out on his position on Russia since joining the Trump administration. The life-long Russia hawk now says the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, which we, and he, know is a proven thing, is a “witch hunt.” What a suck up.

Status of the States: Alabama gets the cup this week, and maybe for a while until the immigration family debacle is resolved, because Sessions is from there.

Our Democracy under stress

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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