Monthly Archives: September 2017

Condolences to Ray and Elfreda

The election for GOP candidate for the next senator representing the good people of Alabama is this Tuesday. Mr Trump was in Bama campaigning, kind of, for Luther Strange. His opponent is Judge Roy Moore. Whomever wins this primary election is pretty much assured of beating anyone the Dems put up in the special election to fill Jess Sessions seat. I mean the last time Alabama elected a Democrat as senator (Richard Shelby) he immediately switched parties and became a Republican.

So this election is, in effect, the election for the Senate seat.

A little research shows us that Luther Strange is, well, strange. He supports Donald Trump all the way.  He wants to kill trade deals, cut off funding for family planning at Planned Parenthood and of course, “Drain the Swamp” (but that is a different essay).

Luther, as Alabama attorney general, fought to allow Hobby Lobby to keep women from accessing basic medical care, like family planning services. He also supported Exxon’s refusal to reveal the climate change research it had done. As the replacement Senator for Jeff Sessions he has voted to take away health care for 40,000,000 Americans and to gut Medicaid  (which is the primary health insurance for over 1,000,000 Alabamians, mostly children). And Luther is the SANE candidate!

Judge Roy Moore, former Australian cowboy and kickboxing champion, has his own set of abominations. He was the judge who insisted, contrary to the US Constitution, that the 10 Commandments be placed outside his courtroom. (On a side note, the good judge has a personal set of 10 Commandments he carved himself… maybe he thinks he carved the originals as well). When he lost the court case and was told to remove the 2 ton granite boulders , he refused. He put himself above the law and was removed from the bench. Then Alabamians immediately elected him to the state Supreme Court.

He wants to give public money to Christian schools. ( I guess the Alabama public school systems are glutted with cash). He has condemned homosexuals from the bench. He condemns the idea of universal health care. He condemns trade. He condemns immigration, especially from our “northern border”.  (We don’t need no Canucks!) He condemns…well… just fill in the blank with any concept designed to give folks equal rights or make their lives better. You get the picture.

So, what does this have to do with Ray and Elfreda? I went to college with Ray and Elfreda (not their real names) back in the early 1970s.  (OK, Ray and Elfreda ARE their real names. I mean, who could make up a name like Elfreda?). They both live in Alabama.

Now, you could take any rusted pickup truck with a tail light out, stars and bars decals and gun rack (in other words, ANY vehicle in Alabama) and run over 2,000,000 Alabamians. And you would not hit anyone nicer than Ray or Elfreda. I mean, these folks left the relative sanity of the north and gave their professional lives to educating the kids of the Yellowhammer State. They migrated south of the Mason-Dixon Line to help kids in a state whose leaders couldn’t choose between 2 official fish,  so named them both: the tarpon and large mouth bass.

So I send Ray and Elfreda my condolences. Luther Strange or Judge Roy Moore is going to be “representing ” them for the next 6 years. A choice between an idiot and a bigger idiot. Heads I lose, tails I lose.  Perhaps there will be a tie and BOTH candidates can go to Washington.

“Introducing the distinguished senators fro the great state of Alabama: Moore Strange.”

Ray and Elfreda, I feel your pain.

(Actually I DO feel your pain. My “representative in Congress is an avid Trump supporter and all around con artist named Tom Reed, NY -29.)

 

http://www.lutherstrange.com/on_the_issues

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luther_Strange

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Moore

https://www.roymoore.org/Positions/

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Filed under ACA, candidate, Congress, Constitution, gay rights, GOP, Hobby Lobby, Obamacare, Politics, Religion, Senate, Trump, United States

The Rocket Man versus The Dotard

For starters. here is a partial exchange of messages sent between John F Kennedy and Nikita Krushchev during the height of the Cold War. When people of each nations saw the other as the most terrible enemy and the world seemed always on the verge of nuclear war.

“…In your speech of inauguration to the office of President, and likewise in the message to Congress of January 30 you, Mr. President, said that you would like for the Soviet Union and the United States of America to unite their efforts in such areas as the struggle against disease, mastering the cosmos, development of culture and trade. Such an approach to these problems impresses us and we welcome these utterances of yours.

We consider that favorable conditions for the most speedy solution of these noble tasks facing humanity would be created through the settlement of the problem of disarmament. And we would like every country to make every effort for the solution of this problem with the establishment of such a strict international control under which no one could arm secretly and commit aggression.

All agree to the fact that the solution of the problem of disarmament depends to a great extent on agreement between the Soviet Union and the United States of America. If we reached such an agreement, it would be a great joy for all people on Earth and a great blessing for all mankind.

N. Khrushchev”
and Kennedy’s reply a week later….

“…I think we should recognize, in honesty to each other, that there are problems on which we may not be able to agree. However, I believe that while recognizing that we do not and, in all probability will not, share a common view on all of these problems, I do believe that the manner in which we approach them and, in particular, the manner in which our disagreements are handled, can be of great importance.

In addition, I believe we should make more use of diplomatic channels for quite informal discussion of these questions, not in the sense of negotiations (since I am sure that we both recognize the interests of other countries are deeply involved in these issues), but rather as a mechanism of communication which should, insofar as is possible, help to eliminate misunderstanding and unnecessary divergencies, however great the basic differences may be….”

John F Kennedy

 

Fast forward to 2017. Here is are the words used in the exchanges between Kim Jung-un and Donald Trump.

Trump: If you don’t do what I tell you I am going to “totally destroy” your country. Totally!

Kim: Ha . “A frightened dog barks the loudest”. I am not worried.

Trump: Oh yeah, “Rocket Man”

Kim: You are obviously “mentally deranged.”

Trump: Well, you are a “total nutjob”.

Kim: Well, I have the “biggest ever hydrogen bomb”. Biggest! Best !

Trump: You are “obviously a madman” I will destroy you.

Kim: I hear a “dog barking” just a “dog barking”.

Trump: “Maniac”

Kim: “Dotard”

Trump: Your mother wears combat boots!

Kim: So’s your old man.

Trump: Gonna make me?

Kim: You stink!

John F Kennedy and Nikita Krushchev must be swirling like tops in their graves.

(Words in quotes were actually used by Trump and Kim or Kim’s representatives.)

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Filed under government, nuclear weapons, Politics, POTUS, Trump, United States

A Deal at Any Price

Tom Price, the Health and Human Services Secretary, has been criticized for flying on charter jets. He spent about $ 60,000 of HHS money on 5 flights in just one weekend.  The one that has gotten the most publicity was his round trip flight from DC to Philly and back. For $25,000. That is about 150 miles each way or 3 hours by car.

Now, this is the same Tom Price who had the best luck in the world when he was on the Senate committee responsible for Health issues. Just by chance, his broker bought him a ton of stocks in a company called Zimmer Biomet. This happened just two weeks after Tom introduced a bill called the HIP act.

Now for those of you with all your appendages intact that may not mean much. But the HIP Act (which should have been called the SLIP Act) deregulated the the hip and knee joint replacement industry. I mean, really, should an artificial limb replacement need regulations? I guess they are warranted for the life (good luck) of the owner!

Well, it so happens that Zimmer Biomet  is a supplier of….(drum roll)… hip and knee joint replacements. Like I said, when it comes to investments Tom is one lucky guy.

(To be fair, the HIP Act was so bad that even the GOP Congress has not yet taken it up).

But, back to charter flights. This must be a different Tom Price than the Georgia Senator who castigated the Democrats for proposing buying 8 passenger planes. Wasteful. That Tom Price said the US government should not buy any. Zero. Government employees should be flying on commercial flights. Tighten those belts you spendthrifts.

Senator Tom Price meet HHS Secretary Tom Price.

So, some perspective. Perhaps it is worth it to keep Tom flying hither and yon. Keep him out of DC where he can only do more damage. Perhaps his broker has recently bought some stock in the charter plane industry. Gee. I wonder if he wants to deregulate safety inspections on charter planes. It would streamline the industry.

A final note: Tom landed and spent the day in Pennsylvania. Minimum wage in Pennsylvania is $ 7.25 per hour. A full time worker in PA who decided to treat Tom to this round trip airfare would have to work 86 weeks to earn that much. Before taxes.

If he or she started working now and took no vacations they could pay off Tom’s airfare bill by the end of May, 2019. Unless he or she got sick. Because Tom doesn’t believe in the working poor getting coverage under Obamacare. Too costly!

 

 

 

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/20/hhs-sec-tom-price-once-slammed-congress-private-jets.html

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/01/tom-price-healthcare-stock-conflicts-233823

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Filed under ACA, Budget, Congress, Economy, GOP, government, healthcare, minimum wage, Obamacare, Politics, workers

Re-Fighting the Vietnam War

The US lost the war in Vietnam. The USA bombed and napalmed and bombed  some more. And lost. In the end, the US forces left and the North Vietnamese united the country.

Ever since the US lost the Vietnam War many American politicians and military men of my generation have been trying to win it. In other parts of the world. In Grenada. In Lebanon. In Libya. In Panama. In Haiti. In Bosnia.  In Kuwait. In Iraq. In Afghanistan.

The idea that a superpower like the USA could be defeated by a small Asian country like Vietnam has stuck in the craw of some in my generation for many years. They simply could not understand it. Or accept it. Many still can’t.

And they have been fighting it over and over again in other parts of the world ever since. The military solution is, in their minds, the only solution.

So now we are on the brink of a war with North Korea. Make no mistake, this is a war of choice. Like Vietnam. Like Iraq. It is a war we are being pulled toward simply because those in power want it. They want to be “tough”. And they want simple solutions. Nothing is more simple than war.

Demonizing leaders of nations before attacking them has become par for the course. Ho Chi Minh, an ally in WW2, was suddenly a devil. Noriega, our man in Panama, became evil overnight. Saddam Hussein, who the US supplied with chemical and other weapons in his war with Iran,  was discovered to be a bad guy! And so it goes.

Which brings us to North Korea. Kim Jung -un is the new Ho. The reincarnation of Saddam. In preparation for war.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think Kim is a great guy. He has his political enemies jailed or executed. He has poured vast resources into the military at the expense of other forms of development. By most accounts the North Korean people have an extremely low standard of living compared to their southern neighbors.

Kim is a big mouth, a braggart, a complete narcissist and shows signs of instability. No president of the USA could ever be accused of that! He likes to rattle the sabers.  He is certainly no one I would want to invite to dinner.

And, like Saddam and Ho and Noriega he has never attacked the USA. The only reason to attack Kim, like the attack on Iraq, is some theory of a “pre-emptive” strike. Of course, you cannot have a “pre-emptive” strike without a propaganda campaign to convince folks that war is inevitable.  Major powers using “pre-emptive” strikes are not new. Hitler attack the Poles in 1939 before the Polish cavalry could sweep through Germany. And Tojo attacked Pearl Harbor before Americans could attack Tokyo. Bush attacked Iraq before Saddam could unleash all those WMDs, which were never discovered.

The Trump administration seems intent on going to war. The American media is right there with him. Wars sell air time. Sell newspapers. Sell books. Make careers, in both the military and in journalism. So we see various editorials and proclamations about the “inevitable” conflict.

Of course war is with North Korea is not inevitable. The only outcome would be the deaths of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of North and South Koreans, Japanese and Americans.

The only other “solution” to the North Korea-USA conflict, according to “conventional wisdom”, is to close off North Korea and further isolate Kim. That has not worked and will not work . Especially since China and Russia are not about to stop supporting his regime. Has isolating Cuba led to the downfall of the Castro regime?

Only by opening up trade and cultural exchanges, bringing North Korea into the web of international affairs, will catastrophe be avoided. We have done so with characters less savory even than Kim. Stalin and Mao Zedong come to mind. Vietnam is now a trading partner. The world needs to make sure Kim has “skin in the game”, not further isolate him.

It is sad. Very sad. That a man like Dennis Rodman has shown more diplomatic skill than our current president. Rodman has gone to North Korea and tried to open up the doors of understanding. Instead of anticipating (hoping for?) war, he has tried to bring people together.

From a Newsweek article published today, Rodman, just back from North Korea  says the following:

“I’m not defending him, I’m not defending the fact that what he does as far as his country and his leadership. I think he has been passed a throne from his grandfather and his father. A lot of people say that the grandfather was worse than the father and the father is worse than the marshal today. I’ve got to hope,” he said, adding “I don’t love him. I just want to try to straighten things out for everyone to get along together, that’s it.”

“Things can happen if Donald Trump, if they sit down, have some type of mutual conversation, they don’t have to be like a friendship conversation, just a mutual conversation, saying: ‘Hi, I would love to engage in some words and politics and over the history of your country and my country and just try to start some dialogue,” Rodman said, “I think that’ll open up maybe the door just a little bit.”

What a state of affairs when Dennis Rodman seems to be the sane one in the room! When a tatooed body pierced former athlete makes more substantial diplomatic efforts that the US State Department.

But then again, Dennis was not around when the USA lost the Vietnam War. He sees no need to fight it all over again.

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Filed under Foreign policy, government, Politics, POTUS, president, Trump, United Nations, United States, US