Category Archives: government

My Job Interview

I have not blogged in awhile because I have been preparing for my job interview. I am seeking a permanent position, with a guaranteed life long appointment. This job should come with good benefits and be completely independent of any other authority. I don’t do well with bosses.

As fate would have it, just such a plumb job came open this year. It has something to do with the government. It is an opening on something called a “SCOTUS”. A SCOTUS, as I best understand it, is a bunch of people who decide what rights you and I have. They have this job for life. Can’t be fired.

So, I said to myself, “Sounds good. Short hours. And I have opinions. So, what the hell”.

Well, the interview with some guy named Grassley went like this.

Grassley: So, Mr Urban, you want to be on the Supreme Court.

Me: The Supre…oh, wow…so that is what SCOTUS stands for. Who would have guessed. ..Oh, yessir, I do.

Grassley: And your qualifications are ?

Me: Well, I have opinions. Good opinions. Thoughtful opinions.

Grassley: Do you have a resume? Or any written materials?

Me: Oh, of course. I have an extensive resume. 10 pages long. And I have been authoring a blog for years. Many years. Hundreds of blog posts.

Grassley: OK. So, can you give me this information?

ME; Well, I can give you one page of my 10 page resume. The other 9 pages you don’t need to see. I will give you the one page that I think is best for you to consider. Forget the other 9. Not important. Only 1 is important. I keep the other 9 under the title of “confidential”.

Grassley: Oh. I see. Well. If you say they are confidential then who am I to pry. After all, this job only lasts a lifetime. And it only entails you making decisions that will affect the lives of millions of people for the next…oh…maybe 50 years or so. So, I guess 1 page out of your 10 page resume will be fine. Now, what else do you have?

Me: Well, I have a blog. I have been writing it since 2011 or 2012. So, I have a whole lot of ideas. My philosophy of government is pretty much laid out over the course of these years.

Grassley: Great. That will be helpful. So, can you provide me with this blog?

Me: Certainly. Although, to be fair, some of it is not so good. So, I have labeled some of it “Top Secret”. Not that I am hiding anything, just a matter of privacy. What I will do is hand pick 10% of my blog posts and send them to you. That should give you a pretty good idea of where I stand. You don’t need to read everything I write, it might distort.

Grassley: Well, what if I look at all of them and decide what is important and what is not? Would that be ok? I mean, we do need to know your entire thoughtful philosophy, not just part of it.

Me: Nope. That does not work for me. I’ll decide what to share with you and what not to share. Then you can make your decision on this lifetime appointment. After all, it’s my blog. You are lucky I am sharing anything with you.

Grassley: Is see, Mr  Urban. So, you refuse to hand over 90% of your resume. And you refuse to hand over 90% of the documents outlining and describing your political philosophy. And you want a lifetime appointment to the SCOTUS, on  which will decide the fate of millions of people. Is that right?

Me: You got it, dude.

Grassley: OK. Thanks for coming in. We’ll be in touch

Oddly, they never called me back. Kind of pisses me off because they gave the same deal I wanted to this guy Kavanaugh.

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Filed under Constitution, government, Politics, SCOTUS, Society, Supreme Court, Trump, United States

And Nobody Came

Back in the days of the Vietnam War there was a poster that was famous.

It read: What if they gave a war and nobody came.

Yesterday’s massive march for the right wing made me think of that poster.

You see, yesterday was the one year anniversary of the Charlottesville Nazi and KKK march. It was during that march that a young woman was murdered by a coward driving his car into her. It was that march that prompted Mr Trump to say that there were fine people on both sides. A whole lot of fine Nazis. And Klan members.

For the Trump-Nazi-KKK coalition this was just the first step. The new movement was taking hold. A new wave of ultra right wing White Power bigotry was going to sweep America.

So, a year later, we have the right wing setting out to demonstrate at out nation’s capital. To demonstrate the strength of the “movement”. We all braced for the thousands of racists and white “nationalists” intent on the show of power. Intent on making America White again . (Of course, anyone with a 4th grade education knows America was never “white” to begin with).

The great “Unite the Right” (or more aptly “Unite the White”) rally was held yesterday. And in a nation of 330,000,000 or so people the rally attracted thousands. Well, the thousands were actually protesting the rally.

The “Unite the White’ rally ended up with not even two dozen men and one woman. Fewer than 25 people marching for racism and White Power. There were 3 times as many journalists covering the non-event. So much for the “mass movement” of hate they hoped to engender. Americans are better than that.

So, what if they gave a White Power rally and nobody showed up…except the press and protesters against the rally? Must have some very sad racists hanging their heads today. The balloon of racism they hoped to share with other , decent Americans, was POPPED. Some very, very sad racists. And at least one lives in the White House.

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/08/unite-the-right-fizzles-amid-a-boisterous-counter-protes/567374/

 

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Filed under government, Politics, POTUS, Radicals, Society, swastika, Trump, violence

Understanding the Nazis

One of the great mysteries for normal people is how Nazism grew and eventually dominated Germany. 6,000,000 – 8,000,000 Jews, gays, intellectuals, journalists, gypsies, etc murdered. All due to one man, Adolph Hitler.

Yet, to the best of our knowledge, Hitler never murdered a Jew. Never sent a Jew to the gas chamber. Never extracted a tooth from a living Jew without anesthetics. Never separated children from their mothers and exterminated them.

All this was done by German citizens. Volunteers. You see, the Nazis did not force anyone to work at the camps. The death camps were staffed by volunteers. True believers.

Normal people wonder at this. Normal people cannot understand.

Yet, history is full of human behavior which is both cruel and vile. Savonarola and the bonfire of the vanities as he cleansed Florence of decadence. The Spanish Inquisition aimed initially at Muslims and Jews, then expanded to include all who may not be true believers. Pol Pot and his wholesale slaughter of millions of Cambodians. Wearing glasses was enough to get you executed. The Hutus murdering Tutsis and vice versa. The extermination of the Native Americans by the European invaders. The Bible tells us of the justified genocide by the Jews of the Canaanites. Not just victory, but complete extermination of a people. The Armenia massacres. Etc. etc.

Hitler was not alone. The history of the world is filled with stories of people executing each other based on ethnic origins. Or language. Or skin color. Or religion.

It seems as though this is a rather regular occurrence. It seems as though at least some people are easily influenced to murder, torture and degrade. It must be somewhere in the genes.

But what triggers it? In all cases it is the demagogue. The man or small group of men who lead others. They use fear of the “other”. The “other” is out to get you. The “other” is the fault of all of your problems. Fear is the strongest emotion.

And, if the “other” is a danger, what is the next step? Dehumanization. People don’t kill people except in self-defense. But the “other” is not a person. The other is less than a person. The other is sub-human. It (not he or she) can be dealt with. Confine the “other”. Deport the “other”. Exterminate the “other”. Spray the hornet’s nest. Set out the mouse traps. Shoot the varmints. The other is not worthy of life.

Understanding Hitler. Hitler understood the power of the “other”. The power of propaganda. The power of labeling. The power of prejudice. The power of hatred. He understood the very small step to dehumanization. He understood that people will do what is necessary if you can convince them to cross the line. The line of viewing other humans as less than human. As vermin.

So, watch the Trump rallies. Watch the snarls. Watch the hatred displayed toward the “liberals”. Listen to the “Lock Her Up” chants. Watch the leader foment hatred . Encourage hatred towards the other. And a candidate talks about roughing those who disagree with him.

And watch as “normal” people separate 3 year olds from their mothers . Watch as a judge passes judgment on  a 5 year old who doesn’t even speak English and sits alone in a courtroom. Watch as unarmed men are shot down in the street because their skin color tells you they are dangerous. Listen as the president’s spokesperson calls members of the FBI “crooked”. Wonder as the president of the United States call a free press the “Enemy of the People”.

Consider.

Are you really still confused about how the extermination of the Jews was carried out? Do you think that some of the citizens of the industrialized nation of Germany in the 1930s are somehow any different than some of the citizens of the United States today? Have people evolved to a higher plane in 70 years?

You want to understand the Nazis? Look around you.

 

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Filed under government, nazi, Politics, Religion, Society, swastika, tea party, Trump, United States

Tom Reed’s Double Speak

My Congressman, Tom Reed (NY-23) issued this statement on twitter:

“Russia is not our friend, and I have no doubt they have, and are trying to, meddle in our elections. However, there is no evidence of collusion with any American, and it is time for the Mueller probe to come to a close. By completing the investigation, we will restore our faith in our democratic electoral process.”

Since the statement seems contradictory to me , I called Tom’s Washington DC office (202-225-3161) and asked for clarification.  I talked to a very polite young man who really could not answer my questions, but tried. Usually referring me back to the statement.

First, I congratulated Reed for breaking with Mr. Trump and admitting that the Russians were involved in subverting our election. That, on the surface, is a big step. After all, Mr Trump still denies any Russian involvement. He said he takes Putin’s word for it.

Now, Since Reed was Mr Trump’s campaign manager in this part of NY I would not expect him to openly call Trump a liar. That would take courage. However, he does walk the fine line of stating the obvious. Russia interfered with our elections.

When I asked , point blank: Does Reed think Trump is wrong by calling this a witch hunt?, the response was that Reed stood by his statement. A statement that avoids mentioning Trump.

I pointed out that Reed wants to shut down the Mueller probe. But the young man insisted that Reed SUPPORTS the Mueller probe. I referred him to the statement and he did not see a contradiction in supporting the probe and shutting it down.

Following up, I thought the only logical reason for this would be that Reed KNOWS that Mueller will find no further evidence, hence there is no need to investigate. Reed must KNOW that no Americans were involved in any connections with Russians . He must be privy to the inside information only Mueller has! So, I asked if Reed had some special knowledge about the investigation and what Mueller knows. There was no answer to this query.

So, Tom Reed SUPPORTS the Mueller probe, but wants it ENDED immediately. He does not know what other evidence Mueller has but wants the investigation shut down. Tom wants to shut down an investigation into possible criminal activity before the investigators have collected or released all the facts and evidence.  How can you claim to support an investigation while calling for  it be stopped?

In my way of thinking, this is doublespeak.

Can’t have it both ways, Tom. Either you stand with law enforcement or you don’t. What ever happened to the party of “law and order” ?

 

 

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Filed under Elections, GOP, government, Politics, president, Republicans, Tom Reed, Trump, twitter, United States

Performance Review

Donald Trump is visiting Vladimir Putin this week. One on one. No one taking notes (except the KGB who will be recording every word). Some folks are critical of Trump for visiting one of the world’s worst dictators. A man who kills journalists and jails political opponents. Uses poisons to kill enemies. But, to be fair. It has been over a year now since Putin elected Trump. Time for a performance review.

I may be wrong, but I expect the interview will go something like this.

Putin: Welcome my brother. Have a seat.

Trump: Thank you, Mr Putin. So kind of you to see me in person.

Putin: Well.  Time for your performance review. Let me take out my KGB checklist.

Trump: KGB? What does that stand for? Is it like the GOP?

Putin. Yes. It is almost exactly like the GOP.  Except more honest. Now. item #1: Does the subject understand what his role is ? Answer: Yes. He is aware of who he works for.

Trump: Yes, sir. My role is president . I am the most powerful man on earth.I have many hotels and golf courses. I also have….

Putin (interrupting) Yes. Yes. Item #2: Has the subject sought to undermine western alliances? I would give you a big Y-E-S on that one, Donald. You have done a fine job of trying to destroy the European Union and NATO. Hate NATO. NATO has to go.

Trump: NATO has to go. NATO is bad. What is NATO? Is it a kind of soft drink, like Diet Cola? If it is Diet Cola then I say we keep it. If not, don’t keep it. That’s what people say. Also, did you know….

Putin (interrupting). Yes. Yes. Whatever. Onward to Item #3: Has the subject tried to destabilize international trade agreements? I give you an A- on that one. You have done a good job of destroying US exports by your trade war. Keep it up. Job well done.

Trump: Thank you, sir. I did my best. Did you like the way I claimed Canada had a trade surplus. WOW. That punk Trudeau did not know what to say. And how about those European tariffs. HA. Those smarty pants gay lovers really got burned . And another thing, I….

Putin (interrupting, and very testy). YES.. Yes already. (in Russian to his KGB comrades: Will this useful idiot ever shut up about himself?). One last item. #4: Has the subject perfected the BIG LIE technique?  I would give you an A plus plus for that one. I used to think Stalin was the master of the BIG LIE, but you, my little Donald, have outdone them all. So many to choose from. Each one bigger than the previous.

Trump: I do my best. I think I am the best with words, don’t you. I use those words you gave me. I use them over and over. Words like: “Lock Her Up” and “Muslim” and “M13” and “communist Democrats” and “Sleep easy, North Korea has no more nukes” and….

Putin: (interrupting again): Yes. Well, comrade. You have used all the words I gave you. You did a good job. Just keep repeating all those words. I have a new list for you for this year. Better words. Just keep tweeting the words I give you.

Trump: Can I use my own words, sometimes? Maybe just once or twice? I know the best words.

Putin: Well….no…not a good idea. Just stick to words we give you. They are working with your base. Simple words. Meaningless words. Easy to remember words. Our new words will be: Mueller is fired. Mueller is a crook. Repeat Donald.

Trump: Mueller is…uh….what was it again?

Putin: Mueller is fired. Mueller is a crook. Repeat.

Trump: Mueller is on fire. Mueller wrote a book. Repeat Donald.

Putin: Oh god. Here. It is on paper. Can you read? Oh. Sorry. I forgot. We will send you a recording. Try to memorize.

Trump: Thank you sir. Did I pass? Did I get a good grade? I got a real good grade at Trump University.

Putin: Yes, Donald. You passed this year’s review. You may go now. Please. JUST GO.

Donald waddles out of the room.

Trump turns to the KGB agents behind the two way mirror. “I told you we should have picked Sarah Palin. At least she can remember her lines.”

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Filed under Foreign policy, Free Trade, GOP, government, Politics, president, Republicans, Trump, Trump University, United States, US

Happy 4th of July, Comrades

The 4th of July.  The celebration of everything good that is America.

Freedom. Democracy (limited, but still trying). Bill of Rights. Fighting against fascism.

The holiday all Americans. Leftists. Rightists. Liberals. Conservatives. Christians. Muslims. Jews. Men. Women. Whites. Blacks. Hispanics. Straights. Gays. The holiday all Americans can celebrate.

Charge up the grill. Throw on some hot dogs. Have a beer.

The most SYMBOLIC holiday. The one holiday that says: We oppose dictators. We oppose fascism. We oppose tyrants. What the Revolutionary War was all about.

So, most US Congressmen are pressing the flesh. Getting photo ops with veterans or kids or old ladies. Listening to voters. Attending parades and picnics and fireworks. Celebrating.

But not all Congressmen (and Congresswomen).

Eight members of the highest lawmaking body in the land chose to skip this 4th of July. They ignored their own citizens and went on a junket. Left the country. Not to some Caribbean beach or exotic Pacific Island. Not to inspect the devastation in Puerto Rico or see for themselves the problems at the border. Not even to use the taxpayers dollars to slip away to Paris or Amsterdam or Rome for a “fact-finding” mission/ vacation.

These lawmakers left the land of the free and the home of the brave to rub shoulders with a dictator and his handpicked representatives. They celebrated freedom by engaging with the rulers of a land run by a dictator. A dictator who , according ot the CIA, FBI and the Senate Intelligence Committee, plotted ( and largely succeeded) to overthrow the US electoral system in 2016. And they are plotting to do the same in 2018, 2020, etc.

These lawmakers left the USA to do homage to Vladimir Putin. Your tax dollars at work.

“…Eight top lawmakers of the American political party now in sole control of Congress running off to Moscow to meet with Russian officials on Independence Day for no urgent reason other than to seek “a better relationship.” In essence, it’s a political gift to Russian President Vladimir Putin and a black eye for America delivered by Republican lawmakers (no Democrats were invited). Let’s remember these GOP names:

  • Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL)
  • Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA)
  • Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND)
  • Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS)
  • Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT)
  • Sen. John Thune (R-SD)
  • Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI)
  • Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX)…”

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/7/5/1778318/-What-does-Putin-have-on-eight-GOP-lawmakers-who-fled-America-for-Moscow-on-July-4

Happy 4th of July, Comrades.

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Filed under Congress, Conservatives, Constitution, Elections, flag, GOP, government, Neoconservative, neoconservatives, Politics, Republicans, tea party, United States, US

The Final Solution To Illegal Kids

 

I sent this email today to The Department of Homeland Security. It finally solves the problem of broken families seeking asylum! (Yes. I sent it)

To: Honorable Kirstjen Nielson

Re: Tracking of Lost children

FR: Joe Urban

Some liberals are complaining because the children of immigrants have been taken from their parents. One of the things they complain about is that once separated it may be difficult or impossible to reunite parents and children.

I have a practical, intelligent solution to this problem.

As the process works now: Once the child is taken from a parent the child is put in a tent city or housed in some other facility for children. The parent then has to prove he is a legitimate asylum seeker. This can take some time. In the long process the parent may be sent back to where they came from. But the child may be lost somewhere in the system.

As it should work: How do we unite the child with the parents? Easy.

Every time an immigrant and their kids come to the US seeking asylum we process them in this manner.

The parents and all the children are given identical identity numbers. These unique numbers will be based on where they come from.

For example, if they come from Honduras they would be given an ID number that begins with an H. From Guatemala give them one that begins with a G. Etc.

So: H3476YTT9X would be a family fleeing from Honduras. All members would have the same number.

But how could we be sure that someone might not lie about their number? Problem solved.

These numbers would be tattooed in some color ink that would show up good on brown skin. I suggest a tattoo on the arm or neck so it is easy to see. So, all members of a family, once they apply for asylum, would be given the same permanent  tattoo ID number.

Also, this would make it easy to figure out where the kids are from once you take them from their mothers. Especially the really little ones who might not know where they live. Now, you could put all the “G”s in one tent, the “H”s in another tent, etc. This would make them happy to be with their own kind.

Finally, once the parents are released. Sent back to where they came from or in some rare cases given asylum, it would be easy to find their kids. You could just have a website that had all the family ID numbers. When a parent is released or deported that number is listed for all to see.

These could be checked every day by the guys who are holding onto the kids. If a number matches. BINGO. Send the kid back to the parents.

This would also eliminate a lot of bureaucracy and unnecessary paperwork. You would not have to keep written files since the numbers are permanent. And if they tried to enter again illegally you can nail them at the border! Also, if the police inside the US suspect someone is an illegal they could take their number and check it with you !

I hope you will carefully consider this suggestion since it will make identifying these people much easier and take the guesswork out of sending kids back home to their parents.

 

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Filed under border control, government, immigrants, Immigration, Politics, POTUS, Society, Trump, United States, US

Trump-Kim Summit Success!

Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un will meet in two days for the big summit.  Usually we have to wait until after an event to get a reliable statement about what happened. However, in the days of “alternative facts” that is no longer necessary.

I will save you the agony of waiting to see how this meeting turned out. After all, what actually happens is secondary to what we are told happens. Knowing this saves a lot of time and anxiety. So here it is.

The official White House statement, followed by Mr Trump’s tweets.

From: The White House

Regarding: The Successful Summit with Kim Jong Un

The fantastic President Trump and the most honorable Kim Jong Un reached agreement on a number of issues. An historic agreement. An agreement for all time.

Kim has agreed to give up all his nuclear weapons. Every one. They will be destroyed. The international community will be provided with pictures of the destroyed weapons by the North Korean government as proof. Kim has also agreed to allow all political prisoners free, after a review by his court system. The North Korean government will provide an artist’s conception of an empty prison cell as proof. Kim also promised, on his brother’s grave, he will never try to invade South Korea.

President Trump gave up nothing. He looked Kim in the eye and the little guy folded. This is the greatest negotiation in the history of negotiations. Everyone agrees!

(End of statement)

Trump tweets on Air Force One coming home..

“Little Kim folded like an accordion. Gave up his nukes. Greatest negotiation in history.”

” Just took away all Kim’s nukes. Obama could not do it. BIG FAILURE. I did it. Forced Kim to give in. Greatest deal in history!  Many people say so. I don’t say it, but many people do!”

” Plan to build Trump Tower in Pongoyango, Korea’s capital. It will be fantastic. Biggest tower ever. Kim will finance it. Ivanka will run it. Beautiful girl. That’s what people say.”

“Little Kim is a liar . He PROMISED to give up his nukes. Now he says, maybe. Tower may be on hold. Beautiful tower planned. Now on hold. Kim doesn’t want to pay. Sad.”

“North Korea deal off the table. Obama’s fault. Obama should have bombed North Korea long ago. Soft on crime. Obama was very weak. Sad. Weak man. No deal with Kim. Except the tower. Still building Trump Tower Pongoyango. Mattress sale coming soon!”

 

 

 

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Filed under government, Politics, POTUS, Trump, United States, US

D-Day: No one Died For the Flag

Today is the 74th anniversary of the Normandy invasion.

On June 6, 1944 the Allied Forces landed on the beaches of Normandy.  Thousands died. None of them died for the flag. They died fighting totalitarianism. They died fighting Hitler. Eventually the Allied Forces overcame the Nazis and won the war.

My uncle died in that war. On his fourth mission bombing Germany. He was the only son of an immigrant. He was shot down on the way back to base after a bombing mission over Berlin. He died fighting against totalitarianism. He did not die for the flag.

Korea. Vietnam. Iraq. Afghanistan. Wars fought for various reasons. Some legitimate, some not. Thousands of Americans died. Some died because they believed were protecting America. Some died because they were drafted and had no choice.  Not a single one died for the flag.

When the Heel Spur Patriot tries to equate patriotism with the flag he is confusing symbols with reality.

Yes, the flag CAN represent the ideals of the USA. It CAN represent freedom, honor, fairness, justice and all those other positive values we try to aspire to.

It can also represent slavery, discrimination, lynching, voter suppression , police brutality and a number of other values we SHOULD reject.

It is in the eye of the beholder.

“Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel” wrote Samuel Johnson in 1775.

Today we have a scoundrel in the White House. A scoundrel who clothes himself in the flag of a country that he would never defend himself. A Heel Spur Patriot.

So, no matter how many times the Heel Spur Patriot tries to sing the National Anthem or God Bless America. No matter how often he respectfully places his hand over his heart and nods solemnly while the anthem plays.  No matter how he tries to equate REAL military service with jingoistic flag waving.

The fact remains. Many Americans have died in wars. Many died to fight totalitarianism. Many died to protect the right to protest. To exercise your First Amendment rights. To preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.

But no one ever died for the flag.

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Filed under Constitution, flag, government, nazi, Politics, POTUS, Trump, US

The Strange Case of Oleg Bullshitsikov

I was called last week by one of my Russian friends who lives in Siberia. His name is Oleg Bullshitsikov and he resides in the village of Nunsensitova located deep in the taiga.

For those of you who slept through your 9th grade Social Studies class the “taiga” is the vast forestland of eastern Russia. It stretches for 5,800 kilometers across Russia. It is the largest forest in the world, the single largest biome on the face of the Earth. It’s really, really big.

Now, I haven’t heard from Oleg since his failed attempt in 2013 to host the Russian version of Miss Wild Forest in Siberia. He was out bid by 13 rubles by Donald Trump who now holds the rights in Russia to Miss Taiga, Miss Tundra and Little Miss Putin beauty contests. But that is a different story.

Oleg was fuming. He was pissed off . He was as confused as a Trump supporter in a third grade science class. . He was insulted. I recorded his call to me. Here it is, word for word.

Me: Oleg, what the weather like , comrade?

Oleg:  Gloomy. Gloomy. Gloomy. This is Russia. Always gloomy. But especially gloomy for me.

Me: What is the problem, Oleg? Why so sad?

Oleg: Sad , yes. And mad, yes. Both sad and mad.

Me: So, talk to me , my friend. What is wrong?

Oleg: Let me give you some names. Then I will tell you. Here some some names. Sergey Kislyak. Russians “diplomat”. Big ties to Trump and the GOP. Gazprom. Energy company with ties to Tillerson. Igor Sechkin, president of Russian owned energy company, Rosneft. All have direct ties to Donald Trump. Direct ties. No middle man.

Me: So, what is the problem with that?

Oleg: Wait, I am not done. There is more. RIT, Russian propaganda station. GRU, Russian intelligence agency. Both connected to Mike Flynn. Also connected to Carter Page. Also connected to Julian Assange and Wikileaks. Leaked anti-Clinton emails.  Another connection to Trump.

Me: So, what is your point, Oleg?

Oleg: Wait. Wait. I am not done. Dmitry Firtash, Ukrainian oligarch. Victor Yanukovych, former Ukrainian president. Oleg Deripaska, Ukrainian oligarch. Konsatntin Kilimnik, Ukrainian associated with the Russian GRU. All connected to Manafort. Manafort was Trump’s campaign chairman. Another connection to Trump.

Me: Yes, well, seems to be a few connections with oligarchs and Russians and Trump. But, what is your point?

Oleg: Wait. Wait. I am not done. Consider this. Aras Agalarov, builds lots of building in Russia for Putin. Sergei Millian, head of Russian chamber of commerce. Alfa Bank, biggest private  bank in Russia. Fedor Emelianenko, a big star in Russia. All of these guys are friends of Putin and have done business with Trump. Lots of Russian connections to Trump for many years.

Me: OK, so, I still don’t see why you are so upset, Oleg. What is the problem?

Oleg: Wait. Wait, my friend. I am not done. Fabian Baussart and Randa Kassis, who wanted to give Putin the Nobel Peace Prize for his peaceful work in Syria. Roman and Dasha Abramovich, oligarchs and friends of Vladimir Putin. All have ties to Donald Trump Junior or Ivanka Trump. So many Russian connections to the Trump family businesses. So many.

Me: Still don’t see where you are going with this, Oleg.

Oleg: Wait. There is more. Yevgeniy Prigozhin, Mikhail Bystrov, Mikhail Burchik, Aleksandra, Kirylova, Anna Bogecheva, Sergey Polozov, Maria Bovda, Robert Bovda, Jay Aslanov, Vadim Podkopaev, Gleb Vasilchencko, Irina Kaverzina, Vladimir Venkov. All these Russians indicted by the US government. Why? For helping Donald Trump win the election.  You think they did this for free? For nothing. We are Russians. We do nothing for nothing.

Me: OK. So, Oleg, why so angry?

Oleg: Why so angry? Where is my cut? Why was I not allowed in on this scheme? What did I do to deserve this? Am I the only man in Russia who is not on the payroll of Trump? Outrageous. Despicable! Un-Russian. I am just a poor Russian who could use a few more rubles. Donald. Do you hear me? I have some tundra near the North Pole I can sell you you real cheap? Donald, help me. I am for sale!

Me: OK , Oleg. Sorry you are out of the Trump loop. Hang in there. 2020 is not that far away and I am sure there will be plenty of new opportunities coming your way.

Oleg: Farewell my friend. Gloomy. So gloomy. Always gloomy in Mother Russia. Next time you see Michael Cohen please mention my name. OK , comrade?

 

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/03/connections-trump-putin-russia-ties-chart-flynn-page-manafort-sessions-214868

 

https://www.scpr.org/news/2018/02/16/80839/13-russian-nationals-charged-in-mueller-investigat/

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Filed under Elections, Foreign policy, GOP, government, Politics, Trump, United States

A Gun Free Zone

The 2nd Amendment guarantees my right to carry a gun anywhere I want… according to the NRA.

The NRA is hosting Donald Trump today as a speaker. I am sure he will give a great speech. He will talk about those evil liberals, like Nancy Pelosi (Scary!!!) who want to take away your guns.

He will stand tall with real Americans who want guns everywhere.

They want guns in colleges. In universities. In high schools. In elementary schools. In hospitals. In stadiums. In churches. In synagogues. In  mosques..well, they don’t want mosques but if you have to have mosques let’s put guns in them.

Guns. Guns. Guns. Everywhere guns.

It’s the 2nd Amendment.

Except. When Mr Trump gives his speech later today there will be no guns allowed at the NRA convention. None.

A real slap in the face of the 2nd Amendment.

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Filed under Constitution, government, gun control, neoconservatives, Politics, Trump

The Rocket Man Versus The Dotard

Yesterday the South Koreans announced that the leaders of North Korea, Kim Jong-Un and the United States, Donald Trump, will meet sometime this Spring.

This is a truly amazing event in modern history. Two nations that have technically been at war for almost 70 years finally getting it together. A step in the right drection. Talking is always better than a nuclear holocaust. On most days.

Both Kim and Trump shoud be congratulated for agreeing to meet. Even though nothing substantive will probably emerge, the meeting itself is a giant step toward lowering tensions and should be welcomed by all.

In any meeting each side wants something and must give up something. What does Kim want? Well, for over 30 years the leaders of North Korea have tried to engage the US in one -on-one meetings of this sort. All previous presidents have declined. Kim gets to stand next to the most powerful man on Earth (other than Putin). He gets the prestige of dealing with the US as an equal.

From Kim’s point of view, his nuclear gambt has worked. By rapidly developing long range missiles tipped with nuclear warheads he has forced the US to recognize North Korea as a world power. It matters not that his missiles may not work. Or may not reach the US. Or that his warheads might be defective. The propaganda is all good.

This meeting helps Kim promote himself at home as the great leader who forced the US to the negotiating table. A big win.

What does Trump get? He stands alone as the only US president with the determination to meet North Korea in the name of ending tensions. He can claim that his get tough policy has frightened Kim into meeting. He made Kim cry “uncle” (If Kim has any uncles left he has not murdered). It matters not that Kim refuses to give up his military force. The propaganda is all good.

This meeting helps Trump promote himself as the great dealmaker even if no deal is made at the end of the day. A big win.

Of course, a lot could still happen to derail the meeting before it takes place. There are political forces in each country that do not want to see a cessation of hostilities. Preparation for war is still the biggest business on Earth. Money to be made.

If Trump and Kim control their inner child it is possible for some good to come of this. But, just for fun, let’s say they don’t control their impulses. The following dialogue (based on actual statements each has made or each government has made about the other) could go like this. (Italicized words are things they have actually said about each other).

Kim: Greetings, Dotard. How is your senility today?

Trump: Shove it, Rocket Man. I may be old but I have the biggest nuclear button.

Kim: Listen, you old lunatic, no one believes a word you say.

Trump: Once a madman, always a madman, hey Little Kim?

Kim: Why do you constantly spout rubbish instead of thinking about what you say?

Trump: Watch your mouth or you will suffer fire and fury like the world has never seen before.

Kim: You are bereft of reason and a destroyer of world peace.

Trump: I am tall but you are short and fat. Go on a diet, already.

So, maybe they will put aside their insults for a good photo op, maybe not. When the meeting (if it ever does take place) is done, here is what Sarah Huckabee Sanders will say:

“The president and the dictator had a very productive meeting in which they agreed to plan another meeting  in which they can meet for the purposes of a closer dialogue and mutual understanding concerning the preliminary junction of three cans of tomatoes and I cannot answer that so I refer you to any lawyesr you can find…….

And the next morning President Trump tweets: I kicked little Kim’s ass all over the place ! MAGA!

http://time.com/4953283/kim-jong-un-donald-trump-insults/

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Filed under Foreign policy, government, Politics, Trump, United States

2nd Amendment and Gun Control, Part 1

There is a very strange argument that is made by politicians, the NRA gun manufacturing lobby and some others concerning the 2nd Amendment and the rights entailed therein. The argument goes like this:

The Second Amendment guarantees any person’s right to own any kind of weapon.

They take the 2nd Amendment and parse it out, emphasizing some of the words and ignoring others. Kind of like when Betsy asks me to take out the garbage. Me? Take out? OK , Let’s order a pizza.

“Amendment II

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

They kind of skip the first 13 words and then start reading. Speed reading? Skimming for the general idea? Hmmmm.

The obvious intention of the founding fathers was that, in the 18th century, there would be times when the local government would need a call to arms. Maybe the injuns were coming or the Brits had decided to try to retake the village. Or perhaps the Canadians were on the march attempting to impose universal health care on our children and widows.

Hence the first 13 words. A well-regulated militia. Pretty clear. Well…regulated …militia.

Some folks, however, ignore those words. They don’t like them. The 13 words not only imply a strict government control over arms, they specify it. We may need a local militia, so you should keep a gun handy. That does not mean you can have a gun for any other reason.

Of course, if the founding fathers INTENDED that everyone should have access to a gun for any reason they had no need for those 13 words. They could have kept it much simpler, as in the 1st Amendment. Short and sweet.

So the first argument supporting the notion that anyone can have any kind of weapon for any purpose is easily shot down and understood by anyone with a modicum or more of cognitive ability.

Of course, because the Constitution is interpreted by the Supreme Court, it really does not matter what the founders were thinking. The Supreme Court decides what the words mean, not the founders.

And here we see an interesting phenomena. The conservative justices  who CLAIM to be “strict constructionists” have actually changed the meaning of the 2nd Amendment. Now, I don’t mind the Court trying to keep up with modern times. I think the Supreme Court should do so. But I do find the hypocrisy of the conservatives on the Court somewhat amusing.

These same justices who claim to interpret the Constituion based on the “original” document and words of the founders tend to let this one slip by. The “originalists” suddenly found, after more than 200 years , that the founders didn’t realy mean “militia” when they wrote “militia”. The majority opinion in the Heller decision goes through more contortions than a Chinese acrobat trying to justify that one. But, they had the votes. So be it.

The Heller decision, giving all of us the individual right to own a gun  states, in part:

“Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.”

So, the founders were simply wrong when they wrote “well-regulated militia“. So much for the “strict constructionist” viewpoint.

But that’s ok. Everyone now has an individual right to own a gun. We all agree because the Supreme Court says so.

Which brings us to a second argument made by the NRA gun manufactuting industry and their employees in Congress. It goes like this.

Since I have the right to a gun, that means I have the right to ANY gun. And that means I can carry any gun anywhere I want. Therefore, no state or national government can make any laws restricting my right to own my gun or where I can wander around with it. Any government that does that is trying to take away my gun.

The obvious fallacy of that position is clear. If you want to think about it. It would mean that the only unlimited right granted to citizens by the government is the right to have a gun. All other rights have associated responsibilities and limits, but not my right to a gun. It places the 2nd Amendment in a different category than every other right.

Of course, that argument is easily refuted. Just look at the 1st Amendment. We have the right to free speech. It’s right there, in black and white. But that right is not unlimited. We have libel laws which restrain speech. We have regulations as to what words can be used on non-cable tv stations. We have slander laws. We have laws against threatening to kill others, especially political leaders. Try telling a joke about having a bomb in your backpack when you are boarding a plane and you will see how quickly your “free speech” is dealt with.

The same is true of freedom of  religion. You have the freedom to worship in the church or mosque or synagogue or basement of your choice. You can pray to anything you want to pray to. Some Native American churches are even allowed to void anti-drug laws because they have a longstanding use of peyote in their rituals. But if you are an Aztec and believe in human sacrifice, that is a no-no. A fundamentalist Mormon may believe he can have numerous child wives (and some do) but that is illegal. You can believe it is your right and religious duty as the “father” of the house to beat your kids and wife. But that is not tolerated. Limitations.

So, every right has legitimate, common sense restrictions. Even in the Heller case, the most conservative of the justices, Justice Scalia, pointed out that this right is not unlimited. Specifically stating, in his majority opinion, that schools and government buildings are places where restictions may be logically imposed. Also, certain categories of people, like felons, could be legally restriced from owning guns. Further, he stated that the government has the ability to restrict certain kinds of firearms, like military weapons, as well.

So, the idea that every person has an unlimited right to any type of gun he wants does not pass muster. Even the most conservative member of the Court, Justice Scalia,  recognized that, while you have an individual right to a weapon, that right is not without proper government restrictions.

In essence, the most radical arguments of the NRA gun manufacturing lobby and the extremists goes down the toilet.  The only question that remains is: What are reasonable restrictions?

2nd Amendment and Gun control, Part 2, next time.

https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/second_amendment

https://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/07-290.ZS.html

http://www.scotusblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/07-290.pdf

 

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Filed under Congress, Conservatives, Constitution, GOP, government, gun control, logic, Neoconservative, NRA, Politics, Supreme Court

USS Trumptanic

In April , 1912, an iceberg collided with the RMS Titanic . In a few hours the “unsinkable” gigantic ship sank. While most of the first class passengers managed to escape, most of the third class passengers perished. The captain went down with the ship.

Yesterday, Robert Mueller released the first indictment in a series. Thirteen Russians, working for Putin and his oligarchs, have been charged with helping destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. The evidence is clear. The grand jury indicted. It is no hoax.

The captain of the RMS Titanic was informed that an iceberg was sighted. He tried to steer the ship away. But the iceberg was moving too fast and ship could not be saved. So, about 2 and a half hours later, the Titanic sunk. Some of the wealthiest people in the world were on board. Most made it to safety, some perished. For the third class passengers…well, not so good.

The captain of USS Trumptanic has known about the iceberg for sometime. We now have early warning systems for icebergs. Now the iceberg has been sighted. And it’s name is Mueller.

The thing about icebergs. For some, over 90% of the ice is below the surface. When you spot the 50 foot high tower of ice in the distance, you can be fearful that there is a massive block of ice you can’t see. Moving toward you. Slowly. Inexorably. On the way to tearing your ship apart.

The captain of the USS Trumptanic has seen the tip of the iceberg. He has watched as more and more of his crew have already fled to the lifeboats. Flynn. Manafort. Gates. Bannon. Already thrown overboard.  He sees the small block of ice and is convinced that there is nothing under the water.

What has happened? First, Mueller indicts Flynn, Manafort, Gates, Papadapolous. The crew. Now, the tip of the iceberg is moving along the horizon. The 13 Russian agents who worked with some Americans to distrupt the 2016 election. To get their man elected.

What’s next? What is below the surface? It’s not difficult to figure out.

Drill into the iceberg core. What do you find? Money laundering. The Russian money laundering business which has used Trump properties for years to hide the money from their illegal activities. Trump properties are rented and bought by Russian oligarchs for well above real value. Classic moneylaundering.

Drill deeper. Coordination with Russian agents. Jared Kushner was in charge of the internet activities of the Trump campaign. Jared Kushner has a massive debt on 666 Fifth Avenue, which he cannot pay. Jared Kushner has tried time and again to get loans from Russian government bankers, because long ago US banks refused to deal with him or Trump. Indictments coming.

Drill deeper. Donnie Junior and his “adoption” meetings with Russian agents. At Trump Tower. A secret meeting, in Trump Tower,  that the captain claimed was all about adoptions. Later found not to be true. The captain himself had lied about the reasons for the meeting. Indictments coming.

Drill deeper. The Mueller Iceberg has indictments and evidence that we can only guess at. But be certain. The iceberg is slowly and methodically heading for the USS Trumptanic. Collision course.

Edward Smith, the captain of the Titanic, saw the iceberg. He knew it was going to hit. He knew he was responsible. He did not run for the lifeboats. He went down with the ship.

The captain of the Trumptanic is NOT the captain of the Titanic. The captain of the Trumptanic will not go down with his ship. He is standing on deck blaming his crew for the iceberg. He is blaming the ice for the iceberg.

The captain of the Trumptanic is not going to jump into one of the lifeboats. He is waiting patiently for Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan. They hold his fate in their hands. And they are on the way. Not with a lifeboat. Mitch and Paul are sailing to save the captain with a luxury yacht.

And together they will sail back home while the Trumptanic and the crew sink. The iceberg cometh.

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

https://www.npr.org/2018/02/17/586698361/the-russia-investigations-mueller-indicts-the-internet-research-agency

 

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The Party’s Over

“The party’s over
It’s time to call it a day
They’ve burst your pretty balloon
And taken the moon away

It’s time to wind up the masquerade
Just make your mind up
The piper must be paid…”

http://www.songlyrics.com/bobby-darin/the-party-s-over-lyrics/

The Congress just passed a massive budget, increasing the deficit by a trillion dollars. And, over time, increasing the debt (with interest payments) by much more. The military and domestic spending were both increased. Disaster relief for the hurricanes was finally passed. Mr Trump, thankfully relegated to  the sidelines during the process , signed the bill into law.

This was an example of compromise. The House of Representatives needed over 60 Democrats to work across the aisle and vote for this. Why? Because even though they “control” the House, the GOP does not control the “Tea Party”. And the Tea Party radicals insisted that this bill spent too much on citizens. They voted “No”.

My own representative, Tom Reed of NY 23, voted “No”. He claims to be a member of the “Problem Solvers” caucus. You know, the guys who reach across the aisle to compromise. But one thing Tom will not compromise on is spending money on “entitlements”. Spending money on citizens. Like the poor. Or elderly. According to Tom, this budget is bad because it raises the debt! It spends too much on people.

Keep in mind, this is the same Tom Reed who bragged about passing the massive tax cuts for corporations. That law drove up the debt AT LEAST $1.5 trillion over 10 years. No platitudes about fiscal responsibilty when to comes to tax breaks for the top 1 %. No crocodile tears about the future of our children. What, me worry?

This is the same Tom Reed who has bragged about the renewed funding for rural hospitals. Taking credit for bringing the pork into the district. The same Tom Reed who voted over and over and over and over to defund the ACA. A vote which, if passed,  would have destroyed so much of our rural medical infrastructure. The same clinics he brags about saving. The same guy. The guy who cares about women’s health care  so much he voted to end funding for Planned Parenthood. Thank god Tom was born with both sides of his mouth intact.

Which brings me to the party. The Tea Party. The young guns who won their places in the House and Senate based on fantasy economics, throwning in a dollop of homophobia, a dash of racism and sprinkling of xenophobia. With a cherry of misogyny on the top.

Tom is not a member of the Tea Party. Tom knows that in New York, even rural New York, being labeled as a Freedom Caucus or Tea Party member will not win him any votes. (The Tea Party has really morphed into the “Freedom Caucus”) So Tom is a member of the “Problem Solvers” caucus, except that he votes like a true believer of Tea Party ideals. He is just too clever to call himself that.

But this last budget deal shows that the Tea Party is over. Their radical ideas and non-solutions certainly live on in a minority of the GOP, like Mr Reed. But, for the most part, the party is over.

We can thank the Democrats for this budget deal. When Mr Obama was POTUS the GOP refused just about any compromise. Lead by McConnell. Supported by Reed. And the forces of the far right are still alive in Congress, make no mistake. Be clear, the Democrats COULD have stopped this budget from passing. They could have given Ryan no votes and the bill woudl be dead. The government shut down. But they didn’t. They decided to compromise.

A glimmer of good news for the country. But for the more radical fringe, not so much. The Tea Party is over.

“The party’s over
It’s all over, my friend
Now you must wake up
All dreams must end

Take off your makeup
The party’s over
It’s all over, my friend”

 

 

 

 

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Filed under ACA, Budget, Democrat, Economy, GOP, government, healthcare, neoconservatives, Politics, Republicans, Society, tea party, Trump, United States

Everyone Loves A Parade

Who doesn’t love a parade? High school bands marching. Clowns in clown cars honking. Local politicians riding in convertibles throwing candy to the crowd. Handmade floats for the local Cow Queen or the King of the Potato. Lots of fun. And harmeless.

I have never been to the Rose Parade but that is certainly an extravaganza of corporate organization. An amazing display of creativity and capitalism. Beautiful floats, colorful flowers , top flight marching bands. What’s not to like? (As long as you turn off the insipid commentary of the host and hostess).

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

On the local level I have often been able to witness the classic Sauerkraut Parade in Phelps, New York. Floats pulled by tractors. local politicians, marching bands. It has all the ingrediants of a somewhat hokey, but fun event. Followed by the annual sauerkraut eating contest, usually won by one of the many Middlebrook boys.

http://phelpsny.com/sauerkraut-weekend/parade/

And, for the real oldtimers was another kind of parade, the TV Hit Parade.The Emmy winning Hit Parade.  (Not much competition for Emmys in the 1950s) The top songs of the day sung by the greats of the day. Who could forget Snooky Lanson? Just about everyone, I guess. Not really a parade in the traditional sense, but still, a fun time.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042172/

Of course, there are more serious parades. Like the parades of dictators and autocrats. Parades not designed for fun. Not designed to uplift or amuse. Parades designed only to give glory to the “fearless leader”. The Nazi torchlight parades, honoring Hilter, are well known to all. Stalin, Mao, Mussolini…all the great dictators honored themselves, usually by showing off their military might.  They all had one thing in common. A military machine totally devoted to the leader. Totalitarian regimes love the military parades.

In modern times both Mr Putin and Kim Jung Un have continued the fine tradition of brutal dictators showing the world their military machinery. So it goes on….

http://www.businessinsider.com/putin-just-threw-the-biggest-military-parade-since-the-soviet-union-collapsed-2015-5

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4417914/Kim-Jong-North-Korea-special-forces-military-parade.html

Which brings us to the Trump Parade. Evidently Mr Trump has asked the Pentagon to organize a Putin-like military parade. He wants to have a show. A prop for his failing presidency.

https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/02/07/583903933/trump-reportedly-wants-pentagon-to-stage-military-parade-down-pennsylvania-ave

Imagine the visuals. Mr Trump, flanked by Mr Kelly and Mr Mattis. Ivanka and Jared. Steve Miller. Hope Hicks and Sarah Huckabee Sanders.  Maybe Melania would show up, maybe not. Standing on the raised dias as the troops march by. As the tanks roll by. As the missiles roll by. While Mr Trump stands firm jawed in his Mussolini impression, feigning toughness.

All these men and women of the military who actually DO risk their lives. Marching past the “Heel Spur Hero” who took 5 draft deferments. It would be an exercise in supreme military discipline to keep these men and women from vomiting in disgust. Imagine the scene. A miitary homage to the “Great Leader”. We have seen it in many other nations.

That is not to say we should not honor the military with parades. Or that other presidents have not had military components to their inaugural parades. Both Eisenhower and Kennedy , in their inaugual parades, had some military components.

Eisenhower, of course, was a general. A commander-in-chief of the European theatre in WW2 before he was commander-in-chief of the entire military. He was certainly deserving of his military accomplishments being recognized. Although 8 years later, in hi farewll address, he did warn of the military-industrial-political complex. (He took out the reference to Congressional collusion at the last minute so as not to offend too many politicians). So, he had a right.

John F Kennedy was also a war hero. On the ground in real combat. A PT boat captain. So, he also had a legitimate claim to some military reference to his very real military service. After all, he ignored his heel spurs and put his life on the line. As a member of the Kennedy clan he could have easily opted for non-combat duty in the safety of the USA. (See GW Bush for details). But he didn’t.

But neither JFK nor Ike nor US Grant nor Teddy Roosevelt have ever held military parades for the sake of personal glory. Or displaying hardware. All military parades of the past have honored the men and women who risked their lives, not the “Fearless Leader” who stayed home.

We already have parades. We have local parades for Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day. We honor the military. regualrly. But we have never produced massive displays of military hardware. During the depths of the Cold War when Stalin and Krushchev were boasting with parades of military might (or the cardboard fascimiles thereof) the US declined to respond in kind. We didn’t need to honor our fearless leaders with parades. We didn’t need to get involved in a “whose is bigger” contest, like some high school boys. We knew what we had. No need to boast.

Let us hope that the Pentagon is able to sidetrack our “Fearless Leader” and not get involved in the politics of the “Great One”. Mr Trump had nothing to do with the military, in any sense. He never served. He bragged about avoiding paying taxes to pay for our arsenal and to pay for our troops. He wants a made for TV special. An extravaganza with “big ” ratings. He needs to deflect from the Russia investigation.

The Apprentice president is drowning in corruption and needs a military parade to deflect. Let’s honor the military by keeping them out of it.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Memo That Changed the World

I was watching Hannity the other night talking about the Nunes Memo. It is the most SHOCKING memo in US history. It will turn this nation upside down. it exposes the biggest scandal ever. Bigger than Watergate! Bigger than Teapot Dome! (he didn’t say that one. I doubt he knows what Teapot Dome is). It will end the Mueller investigation.

Hannity: Mueller Probe Was Based on a House of Cards That’s Now Crashing Down

http://insider.foxnews.com/2018/02/02/sean-hannity-monologue-fisa-surveillance-memo-release-ending-mueller-russia-probe

WOW

So, I couldn’t wait to see this memo. As a liberal I was sure it would knock my sox off. I would have to turn in my Communist Party membership card and join the KKK. It would turn me into a Tea Party fanatic overnight. Mueller is heading straight for the slammer!

So, I read the memo. Here it is:

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/02/read-the-full-text-of-the-nunes-memo/552191/

What I learned….

First and most shocking. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, charged with investigating crimes and breaking up spy rings, was investigating a potential spy ring. OUTRAGEOUS. What is the Federal Bureau of Investigation doing “investigating” anything? Not only that, the FBI actually went ot the trouble of getting a LEGAL warrant, based on probable cause, at a FISA court, to do this investigating! That, my friends, is an outrage.

I also learned that  they were investigating Carter Page,  and had obtained LEGAL FISA warrants to do so! And, that in order to get a warrant at a FISA court they had to have evidence, which they evidently had, otherwise the FISA judge would not approve the warrant. They went back , as required by law, and obtained new warrants every 90 days! With new evidence . So the FBI followed the law to the letter. OUTRAGEOUS.

Now, you might ask, what does Carter Page have to do with the Mueller probe into Russian interference in our election and possible Trump campaign cooperation with the Russians? After all, Sean Hannity insists that the FBI’s investigation of Carter Page impacts on the Mueller investigation. But what does Page have to do with Trump?

According to the Trump campaign and Trump himself…NOTHING. Who is this guy, anyway? When asked about Page’s connection with the Trump campaign, their response was firm:

Mr. Page is not an advisor and has made no contribution to the campaign,” the campaign’s communications director Jason Miller said in an email to The Hill. “I’ve never spoken to him, and wouldn’t recognize him if he were sitting next to me.”

Presented with a statement from a campaign spokesperson in August that characterized Page as an “informal adviser” albeit one who “does not speak for Mr. Trump or the campaign,” Miller doubled down.

He’s never been a part of our campaign. Period,” he said.

Another spokesman, Steven Cheung, said Page “has no role” in the campaign.

“We are not aware of any of his activities, past or present,” Cheung added.”

http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/297599-trump-campaign-backs-away-from-adviser-suspected-of-ties-to-kremlin

Except , in March of 2016, during the campaign, Mr Trump did an interview with the Washington Post, which started as follows:

“FREDERICK RYAN JR., WASHINGTON POST PUBLISHER: Mr. Trump, welcome to the Washington Post. Thank you for making time to meet with our editorial board.

DONALD TRUMP: New building. Yes this is very nice. Good luck with it.

RYAN: Thank you… We’ve heard you’re going to be announcing your foreign policy team shortly… Any you can share with us?

TRUMP: Well, I hadn’t thought of doing it, but if you want I can give you some of the names… Walid Phares, who you probably know, PhD, adviser to the House of Representatives caucus, and counter-terrorism expert; Carter Page, PhD; George Papadopoulos, he’s an energy and oil consultant, excellent guy…”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2016/03/21/a-transcript-of-donald-trumps-meeting-with-the-washington-post-editorial-board/?utm_term=.1b8917464c4f

But, when it is discovered that Page’s Russia connections have been exposed, Mr Trump has another famous “lapse” of memory:

“In a news conference in February, Trump put distance between himself and Page.
I don’t think I’ve ever spoken to him,” Trump said at the time. “I don’t think I’ve ever met him. And he actually said he was a very low-level member of I think a committee for a short period of time. I don’t think I ever met him. Now, it’s possible that I walked into a room and he was sitting there, but I don’t think I ever met him.”

So, Carter Page was both a key advisor to Mr Trump on the campaign yet had nothing to do with the campaign. One of the top five foreign policy advisers to Trump, but Trump never met him! Was never part of the campaign. Makes sense. Perfectly clear. Do I need to repeat myself?

Then there is the Steele”dossier”, whose research was initially funded by the Republican  megadonor Paul Singer, who runs the ultra right wing Washington Free Beacon website. Later, this research was picked up and continued by the Clinton campaign. The Nunes memo claims that this dossier was the basis for the FISA warrant. But that is false. The Steele information, passed to the FBI, simply reinforced what the FBI already knew.

“In his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, released on Jan. 9 by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Simpson said Steele’s memo was received favorably by the FBI because it tracked with their own intelligence. “My understanding was that they believed Chris at this point — that they believed Chris might be credible because they had other intelligence that indicated the same thing and one of those pieces of intelligence was a human source from inside the Trump organization,” Simpson said, apparently also a reference to Papadopoulos.]”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2018/01/09/what-you-need-to-know-about-christopher-steele-the-fbi-and-the-dossier/?utm_term=.8f87d99b79a4

So…uh…what we have is a memo written by Nunes that affirms that Carter Page (who may or may not be a Trump campaign adviser) was being investigated by the FBI. True. The evidence to investigate him was there. And federal judges agreed on 4 separate hearings.

So, despite what Hannity has said, this memo not only PROVES that the Trump campaign was involved in contacts with Russians, but never even mentions Mueller.

So much for the memo that changed the world.

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Read the Memo

Lately there has been much ado about the Nunes “top secret” memo which proves that the FBI is corrupt. Some claim that Nunes, who worked on the Trump transition team, was selective in his use of evidence. Like he left stuff out and kind of only used a few facts. So, the Dems wanted to release their own memo. But Nunes, who runs the Intelligence Committee, said: NO WAY!!! Only MY memo counts. You lose!

In the spirit of transparency I am releasing my own memo which outlines the rights we have in the Bill of Rights. This is top secret, so please do not share this with the Democrats.

Please note, I am using ONLY THE ACTUAL words of the Bill of Rights. These words are not transposed or altered in any way. They are in the exact order in which they were written. The “founding fathers” wrote these words, so they are to blame. Their lack of patriotism shows through. So don’t blame me, I’m just the messenger.

Amendment 1: Congress shall make…law…abridging the freedom of speech…of the press…the right of people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government….

Amendment 2: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall…be infringed.

Amendment 3: …Soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner….

Amendment 4: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects…shall…be violated, and no Warrants shall issue….

Amendment 5: No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime…any person…shall be compelled …to be a witness against himself…private property taken…without just compensation.

Amendment 6: In all criminal prosecutions the accused shall enjoy … the crime….

Amendment 7: In suits at common law…no fact… shall be… examined in any Court of the United States….

Amendment 8: Excessive bail shall…be required…excessive fines imposed…cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment 9: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall …be construed to deny or disparage others….

Amendment 10: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution,… prohibited… to the States… to the people.

And, as a bonus,

Article 15: The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall… be denied or abridged … by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

 

It is pretty clear by my memo that the founding fathers HATED freedom and were intent on taking away our rights. After all, memos don’t lie!!!

 

http://constitutionus.com/

 

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My Secret Society

Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin has dropped a BOMBSHELL. He has evidence that the FBI is running a “secret society” to destroy Mr Turmp. He has an INFORMANT who has proof of that secret society. I know this because the Senator said so on TV:

“..Speaking to Fox News on Tuesday, Johnson suggested bias and potential corruption at the upper echelons of the agency.
“What this is all about is further evidence of corruption — more than bias — but corruption at the highest levels of the FBI,” Johnson said.
The Republican senator said at the time he obtained his information from an informant.
“And that secret society — we have an informant talking about a group that were holding secret meetings off-site. There’s so much smoke here, there’s so much suspicion,” Johnson said.
Johnson confirmed to CNN Wednesday he spoke to an informant who told him about the “off-site” meetings FBI managers were holding. But he acknowledged not knowing what the meetings were about, suggesting he wanted to dig into the matter…”
So there you have it. A US Senator accusing the highest levels of the FBI of actively engaging in  a criminal conspiracy. With meeting secretly in groups to undermine the administration. And he has the informant to prove it. Certainly a US Senator would not make such a charge lightly!
 So, another Senator, McCaskill of Missouri asked for the evidence. After all, this is a serious charge:
“You have now made serious and damaging allegations,” McCaskill wrote. “I would assume that you would never make those kinds of allegations without serious and substantial hard evidence. If the committee has any evidence that the FBI is, as you have stated, biased and corrupt at the highest levels, I assume that evidence is strong in both quality and quantity, and extends far beyond a casual mention in a text message between two agents who were involved in personal crosstalk. And as ranking member of this committee, I deserve access to this evidence.”
Well…er…uh…no hard evidence. Well, er…no evidence of any kind. 
So, 24 hours later Senator Johnson has backed down. He had no evidence. He had no informant. He just had Fox News  (which never asked him for hard evidence, either). So, another “scandal” about the FBI bites the dust.
But beware. There are secret societies out there . Plots and counterplots. With nefarious intentions. You just have to connect the dots. In fact, I have been able to unearth a secret society that held secret meetings going back to the 1970s!!! This group had a number of members, and was so secret that some members did not even know each other. And also so secret that the members never even met!!! I was in the group but it was so secret that even I did not know it.
I am changing the names to protect their identities, but the plot goes like this. A guy named Ray (not his real name) went to school at MSU (not a real school). He drove around in BIG PINK, a gas guzzling massive mobile. He got a degree in liberalism. Then he disappeared from the state for many years and finally was tracked down in Alabama. Now Alabama just elected a Democrat to the Senate. So, connect the dots. Ray…PINKO…Hides out…Democrat elected in Alabama, which just happens to be where he emerges.
Then there is Jack (not his real name) . Became a pyschologist (not a real job). Disappeared from Michigan for many years. Grew a beard as a disguise (didn’t work). Tracked down to Nevada. Nevada has Las Vegas. Lots of lights in Las Vegas. That means using electricity. The electric chair is used in some states for executions. So, connect the dots. Disappearance… disguise…death penalty…psychologist. Shorten psychologist and what do you get? PSYCHO!!!
Then there is Dan (not his real name). Went to war in Vietnam. Worked (if you call it that) for the US “Postal” Service  for many years. Or did he? Why did he go to Nam instead of having heel spurs? Figure it out. Writes songs. Sings songs (well, drones songs). Connect the dots. Vietnam, a COMMUNIST country. Why was he in a COMMUNIST country? Connect the dots. Communist…infiltrates the post office….what goes on in the post office? …letters…letters to the White House !!! Holy cow. A communist with access to top secret letters to the White House.
This secret society (Not Ray, Not Jack, Not Dan, Not Joe ) have never met as a group. Yet, you see the nefarious connections.  It is so OBVIOUS !
I am sending this to Senator Johnson of Wisconsin. I am sure he can connect the dots. Sorry “Not Ray”, “Not Jack” and “Not Dan”. You will be getting your subpoenas forthwith.  From the House on Unamerican Activities Committee. You recall? The same committee that was chaired by another distinguished senator from Wisconsin. Joe McCarthy.

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Words, Part 2

“There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.” George W Bush

“You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time. ” (attributed to A Lincoln)

You can fool some of the people all of the time. And you can get fooled again.

Words.

Small miscommunications or lies set the table for bigger ones. A small lie about the size of your inaugural crowd.  A strange lie. Photos and records of subway usage in Washington DC clearly demonstrate that the crowd at the Obama inauguration was much larger than the one at the Trump inauguration. So why lie? Why send out your press secretary on his first day and force him to lose all credibility immediately?

Miscommunication or lies. While campaigning for president, the public record now shows that Mr Trump was trying to sign a deal for a Trump Tower Moscow. A real estate deal that does not get done without the approval of Mr Putin. We know know that members of the Trump campaign met with a number of Russians (18 that we know of) during the campaign. And more meetings were held during the transition. Yet Mr Trump has and continues to maintain that there was no contact between any Russians and his campaign. Miscommunication or lie?

Miscommunication. President Obama warned Mr Trump not to hire Mike Flynn. Obama had fired Flynn. Flynn was known to be involved in some shady dealings with Russia and Turkey. Flynn’s lawyer told the Trump transition team that Flynn had worked for a foreign nation, Turkey. Flynn was hired by Trump as NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER and had access to every piece of secret information available. The acting attorney general, Sally Yates, warned the Trump administration that Flynn might be open to blackmail. So, Sally Yates was fired and Flynn was kept on. Until the Washigton Post ran a story about Flynn’s activities. Only then was Flynn let go. Supposedly because he “lied” to Mike Pence. But the adminstration knew of Flynn’s problems long before he was fired. Why lie? Miscommunication.

Congresswoman Frederica Wilson criticized the president. In response, John Kelly, Trump’s chief of staff, told the story of how the Congresswoman lied and took credit for a new FBI Building. How he was “shocked” that all she did was talk about herself and failed to honor the fallen agents for whom the building was named. He saw it with his own eyes. He was there. She was a liar. Except, nothing he said was true. And when a video of the event surfaced it proved he blatantly lied about this black Democratic member of Congress. What was the White House response?  To stand by his story even when the visual evidence clearly contradicted him. Showed him to be a liar. Miscommunication. Lies.

And the list goes on and on and on. In a meeting to discuss the compromise on the DACA problem and border security, a compromise that Mr Trump said he would sign, something else happened. It was reported that Mr Trump went off the rails and called some countries, inhabited by black folks, “shithole countries”. Senator Durbin , when asked , said it was so. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham concurred. But no one else at the meeting could remember. Republicans Tom Cotton and Perdue, both senators who were NOT part of the compromise, said they could not recall. Then, later, they did recall he said “shithouse”, not “shithole”. So, Durbin is a liar. He said “shithouse”, not “shithole” And the Secretary of Homeland Security could not recall either. But she did hear some “tough language”, whatever that means. She could not recall exact words. Of the president. She also was not aware that Norway is a country with a majority white population. The woman whose job is to keep us safe. Did not know that Norway was white. Really? Does anyone believe that? Miscommunication. Lies.

What is the overall effect of this daily and consistent miscommunication from the White House? Why lie about small matters? Why not say , “Yes. The president said that. He misspoke. He did not mean it”. Or. “We don’t care about crowd size, we just want to govern”. Why lie about small things?

What is the plan behind this barrage of lies we see every day? The effect is to destroy the very idea that evidence or facts have a place in politics. To make everything suspect. to make all words meaningless.

What if Mr Trump tells us that we need to go to war ? Who would believe him? Who would believe any statements or evidence? Who would believe anything the Secretary of Homeland Security says when she pretends not to know that Norway is full of white people? Who would believe Mr Kelly when he has lied so blatantly about a Congresswoman?

The abuse of words by this adminstration is beyond anyhting we have ever seen outside of the old Soviet Union or Hitler’s Germany. The Orwellian prediction is coming true before our eyes. The well planned constant, daily miscommuniction is taking its toll on the truth.

“But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”
― George Orwell1984

Or, as Abe Lincoln said: You can fool some of the people all of the time.

 

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/6436-there-s-an-old-saying-in-tennessee-i-know-it-s

http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/27074.html

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/22/trump-inauguration-crowd-sean-spicers-claims-versus-the-evidence

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trumps-business-sought-deal-on-a-trump-tower-in-moscow-while-he-ran-for-president/2017/08/27/d6e95114-8b65-11e7-91d5-ab4e4bb76a3a_story.html?utm_term=.c878d69b4afd

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/sally-yates-warning-set-flynn-resignation-motion-article-1.2971933

https://www.npr.org/2018/01/16/578415397/homeland-security-secretary-says-she-did-not-hear-trump-use-that-vulgar-word

 

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Words, Part 1

“In the beginning was the word…” so begins the Bible followed by both Christians and Jews.  In Hindu mythology, the word “Om or Aum” is the first sound of creation. The Qu’ran is thought to be the word of Allah by Muslims. Members of the Church of Later Day Saints believe that Joseph Smith of upstate New York was given the words of god on golden tablets.

Words are important. Of all the species still on Earth, it is homo sapiens alone that uses speech to communicate sophisticated ideas. Other animals use sounds to express fear and danger and affection and contentment. Chimps use signs and sounds. Bonobos have been taught to use symbolic language to express complete ideas. Some other primates even use sign language to communicate when hunting in groups. There is something in the DNA of primates that demands communication. We are all social animals.

Words are important.

Primates use body language and words to communicate. The key word is “communicate”. Communication does not necessarily mean that a human or other primate is interested in communicating the truth.

For example, we have evidence that when some Rhesus monkeys see food they call out to others and share it. Once in awhile, however, a monkey will keep quiet or even give a false predator warning cry to distract from the food source. They lie. They communicate something which is false. Then they sneak the food for themselves.

We depend on words. When someone lies to us it becomes very difficult to trust them again. When someone misuses words (that is lies) under oath, we consider them criminals. Even presidents. Bill Clinton was impeached by the Republican Congress for lying.

He was not impeached for having an affair. He was not impeached for any illegal financial dealings. The 4 year long investigation of Bill Clinton and his wife’s finances (Whitewater) found nothing illegal. The Starr investigation after spending mllions of dollars  found no criminal behavior based on the original mandate, which was to look at the Clinton land deals.

Both articles of impeachment against Clinton dealt not with any financial wrongdoing, but the fact that he lied about his sex life when under oath.  You may wonder why the Starr investigation was expanded into his sex life, but that is another matter. A corruption charge was never supported, but his lies about his sex life were considered important enough to expel him from the presidency. So, he was impeached for words he said.

Our current president has , according to the factchecker at the Washington Post, told over 2,000 lies and misstatements in less than his first year in office. Over 2,000 documented examples of intentional miscommunication. Since he is not under oath, none of those lies are actionable under the law. But that degree of miscommunication may be one reason why he has an approval rating below 40% in most polls.

When words are used for miscommunication then the very idea of language becomes damaged. Language is supposed to be a positive force through which we convey ideas and beliefs and emotions in an honest way. When language is exploited regularly to miscommunicate it leads to a general distrust of any communication. When words are used as weapons, rather than tools of honest communication, all language becomes suspect.

We see attacks on the press, attempting to delegitimize the one institution which is based on words. Honest words. ( I deal with this in another post a year ago: https://josephurban.wordpress.com/2017/01/30/lugenpresse-testing-the-waters/)

Politicians, of course, depend completely on words. When they lie by misstatements or omission to intentionally deceive people it is especially disturbing. We see them lie most often when the facts and evidence do not support their assertions. A good example is the reemergence of the supply side economics which failed miserably under Mr Bush. Tax breaks for the wealthy to boost jobs. It just does not happen, but that does not stop the lying.

My own Congressman, Tom Reed, NY 29 is especially adept at the half truth and miscommunication. He miscommunicated not only his own views (as seen by his actions) but impugns his political opponents by lying about their views as well. And he is very good at it. So he gets re-elected.

So, while “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is true on the playground, it is not true in politics. Words are the core of politics because they are used to convince others to act.

We currently live in an era where those with the most political power are determined to stay in power through miscommunication. Not by the power of their ideas.  Not by the benefits to the people derived by their actions. But by miscommunicating to such an extent that even 2,000 lies a year does not bother them.

Next time I will look at the variety and scope of the miscommunication, the misuse of words, by those currently in power.

 

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/06/090615-monkeys-lie-food.html

https://books.google.com/books?id=pEuVe5zT-4cC&pg=PA74&lpg=PA74&dq=rhesus+monkeys+food+lies&source=bl&ots=-A5bfEwk2c&sig=O1nv-XXYhQ78i5HQpx2hrNFXrzc&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwimo8G74tzYAhWDUd8KHYalBlgQ6AEIUDAL#v=onepage&q=rhesus%20monkeys%20food%20lies&f=false

https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/clinton/stories/articles122098.htm

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2018/01/10/president-trump-has-made-more-than-2000-false-or-misleading-claims-over-355-days/?utm_term=.dc90a42256a8

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Time to Do Nothing

In 1949 Mao Zedong and the communists took over China. They instituted communist policies . In response the US cut off all relations with the People’s Republic of China for many years. Mao was a dictator. Harsh. Ruthless. The US would have nothing to do with him. He was an enemy.

Then, in 1972 , Richard Nixon did what was necessary. Mao did what his subordinates did not want him to do. Nixon visited China, met with Mao and started the opening up of trade and cultural relationships. The rightwing in China and the US were outraged by this betrayal of ideals. They wanted conflict, not reproachment.

The world did not end. The US was not defeated. In fact, over time, China has become a major world player and dominant economic force. A major trading partner with the US.

In 1986 the Russian leader, Gorbachev, met with the US leader, Ronald Reagan. Gorbachev had opened up Russia and the Russian people to the possibilities of democracy. Perestroika and glasnost . Reagan, a fervent anti-communists, saw an opportunity to cooperate on arms control. Both men signed the arms reduction deal which helped defuse the 40 years of hostility and tension between the two superpowers. Both men were criticized as “weak” by hardliners at home.

While Russia has fallen back into a dictatorship, the arms deals have held. Billions that could have been wasted by both nations on military spending has been saved. Not to say that both countries still spend way too much on the military. More than either needs for its defense. It was a bold, unpopular move for Reagan and Gorbachev to make.

But Reagan took a step toward an enemy and helped change the world.

Vietnam was a communist nation. The US fought a long war before ultimately admitting defeat. The hatred of many toward the North Vietnamese (and to some extent the South Vietnamese) was overwhelming. They were ruthless. They were despicable. The hatred of Americans by the millions of Vietnamese who had family killed by the “invaders” was also overwhelming.

In 1994, almost 20 years after the US left Vietnam, Bill Clinton lifted the trade embargo. Once again US companies could do business in Vietnam. Vietnam could be brought fully into the world trading system. Trade between the two nations now has reached billions of dollars a year. Former enemies have become trading partners.

Which brings us to Kim Jung -Un. The dictator of North Korea. Yesterday Mr Kim called for talks with his neighbor, South Korea. And South Korea responded positively. Both sides see no reason for increased hostility and increased fear. The president of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, has asked the US to postpone joint military operations as a gesture of good will. He wants to open up talks with his enemy to the north.

Would it not be nice if North and South Korea opened up more and more trade relations? Would it not be nice if these two nations could tone down the rhetoric and begin more cultural and economic interactions? Hasn’t history taught us that even the most hated  enemies can, over time, become trading partners? And once nations forge strong trade partnerships they both have a stake in keeping the peace and developing economically.

Nixon taught us that. Reagan taught us that. Clinton taught us that. Have we learned?

Let us hope that the US encourages this new interaction between the 2 Koreas. Or at least does not do anything to undermine the possibility of peace. Then, 20 years from now the people of North and South Korea may be able to freely visit each other and take advantage of increased trade and wealth.

If the US just lets it happen. Sometmes just doing nothing is enough.

 

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New Year Predictions 2018

This is the time of year when we think about the new year and what it will bring.  My new year predictions for 2018. While a couple might be a little off, I remain confident that my overall predictions will hold true.

The Cleveland Browns football team will be allowed to leave the NFL and play against selected college teams. While they do not fair well against Southeastern Virginia Disability Institute and the Outer Waco Texas Girls Ballet School the season is not a total loss. They will end up with a 1-11 record, having eked out a 3-0 victory over the Northern Idaho School for the Blind.

Robert Mueller’s third cousin on his mother’s side, 12 year old Cynthia Woggles,  will be investigated by a Congressional Committee headed by Trent Gowdy. The investigation, which will cost $ 7,000,000 and the calling of 98 witnesses, all of whom are commentators on Fox and Friends, will discover that Woggles  voted for Hillary Clinton in her 6th grade mock election in 2016.  (Not to be confused with the national mock election held the same year) Mr Trump will use this evidence of bias to fire the Republican Mueller. In  his place Mr Trump will appoint Roy Moore to take over the investigation. Moore immediatley calls Woggles for a play date.

Major League baseball will announce that after a study of fan injuries at 6 ballparks they have discovers 14 fans who had died during the game. At first the cause of the deaths was a mystery, since none of these fans were hit by foul balls or bats. Medical examiners confirm that these deaths can be attributed to a cerebral shutdown of the inner brain, caused by intense boredom.

The US will recognize the following new capitals. Scotland. Former capital: Edinburgh. New capital: Trump International Golf Links.  China. Former capital: Beijing, Forbidden City. New capital: Shanghai, Ivanka Shoe Factory.  Iran. Former capital: Tehran. New capital: Jersusalem.  USA. Former capital: Washington, DC. New capital: Mar-A-Lago, Florida. Congress passes a law concuring.

FEMA will announce, sometime in June, that they have devised a plan to bring power back to Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico has not had full electric power resumed since Hurricane Maria in September, 2017. Despite the fact that the FEMA response was the “best response ever” to a catastrophe (a close second being the FEMA response to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans) . The new plan calls for running an extension cord from Merida, Mexico to the island to bring power back on line to the millions of foreigners living in Puerto Rico.  As long as Mexico agrees to pay for the cord.

The 1st Annual Scott Pruitt “Global Warming is a Hoax” seminar takes place in a yacht named “The Golden Dollar” off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina in July. Guest speakers include climate experts Sean Hannity, Clint Eastwood’s empty chair and the entire Duck Dynasty family. The conference is cut short when a family of polar bears swims past searching for ice.

In the Vatican, Pope Francis is caught on mike saying that he thinks “this god stuff is a bunch of BS”. Nevertheless,  he speaks out against war, violence, disease, global warming and hatred. He calls on all government leaders of the world to join in peace and harmony. No one calls back.When asked what common people should do to solve these problems he answers: “I tell you, I’m all outta ideas. Reality sucks so you might as well pray to a fantasy. Gets ME through the day.”

The New England Patriots win the Super Bowl, 17-14, on February 4 in a thriller over the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles have 7 TDs called back by the replay officials in NY, who are nowhere near the actual location of the game in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Days later it is discovered that the league officials in NY had mistakenly been watching the replays of the Bournemouth vs. Stoke City English Premier League soccer match of February 3, in which no one scored. As usual.

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announces the closing of all National Parks, except for Mount Rushmore. All parks will be sold to the Koch Brothers at a deep discount and the proceeds, which are tax deductible, will be spent renovating Mount Rushmore. The faces of Teddy Roosevelt, George Washington , Thomas Jefferson and Abe Lincoln will be sandblasted away to make room for giant head of Donald Trump, surrounded by his three wives. The monument will be renamed: Best Monument Ever. Congress concurs.

On a strict liberal vs. conservative vote the Supreme Court approves Executive Order 5,678 on the topic of voting rights. Since the court had previously ruled , under Citizens United, that money equals speech, they extend that ruling to include voting. Under the new ruling “money equals voting”, as well. Based on the principle of “one dollar equals one vote” the 2018 election will be determined by a new voting method. Every citizen must bring in their tax returns to show their gross income from wages and investments. Each dollar will count as one vote.

North Korean leader, professional golfer and all around bozo Kim Jung Un  announces a new building plan. He has signed an agreement with Trump University to open up a “Kim-Donald School For Learning Stuff” in Pyongyang. The school will focus on business related seminars including: How to Get Stuff  For Free; 12 Ways to Evict “Those People”; Tax Evasion 101: Avoiding Those Nasty Import Fees; and, Bankruptcy, The Real Estate Developers Best Friend. Eric Trump attends the ribbon cutting ceremony which is a disaster as none of the Korean made scissors are sharp enough to cut the paper ribbon. Eric calls the “Kim-Donald “school  the “best university ever” and announces at the same time that the US will begin selling nuclear technology to Kim as a gesture of good will.

Finally. Congress votes itself a 50% pay raise for a “job well done”. The legislative branch passed a total of three bills. They were: 1. “The Amazing Trump is the Best President Ever” bill awarding the Trump Medal of MAGA to the best person in America. This year’s recipient? Donald Trump. 2. “The FBI Traitor” law. Which labels all members of the FBI, former and current, official “enemies of the people” and subject to immediate permanent detention and prosecution for doing “bad stuff”. Mueller is the first to be perp walked. 3. “Congressional Vacation Act” which allows Congress to take a vacation for a period including January 2 through December 30, with pay and expenses for fact finding travel.  Mr Trump signed all three bills and praised Congress for their services… which will no longer be necessary.

 

 

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Mr Reed on the Backs of our Children

My Congressman is Tom Reed of NY-23. A staunch Trump supporter and one of the key members of the Ways and Means Committee responsible for the GOP tax bill. I called his office at 10:30 this morning and spoke with one of his staff members for 15 minutes. Here are the questions I asked and the answers I received.

Q. How many expert Congressional hearings has Mr Reed attended?

A. Don’t know exactly. There have been a few. Also he is on Ways and Means which had some hearings.

Q. Has Mr Reed read the entire bill, all 1000 pages ?

A. Yes. He has read the entire bill.

Q. Does Mr Reed gain financially from this bill, in the sense of the “Corker Kickback”? Any specific provisions which help him?

A. Do not know. Thinks not, however.

Q. According to some analyses, over the next 10 years 83% of the tax benefits go to the top 5% of people and corporations. Why does Mr Reed think the top earners need a break more than the bottom 95%?

A. Not familair with that analysis so can’t speak to it. The idea is to be pro-growth which will create jobs.

My follow up: Isn’t that what George Bush tried and it did not create jobs, called supply side?

A. Would not characterize it. Not familiar enough with the Bush plan to respond.

Q. The tax law keeps in place giving tax credits for taxes paid abroad. Doesn’t this discourage companies from creating jobs in the US if they can continue to take an overseas tax credit?

A. Is not familar with this provision. Can’t answer.

My follow up: If you want job creation at home wouldn’t it be better to tie any tax breaks to spending on jobs in the USA? Make job creation in the US a requirement for getting the tax break?

A. Will pass on my idea to the Congressman.

Q. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities calculated that 10,000,000 lower income  families would get an increase in the child tax care credit of $75 a year. That amounts to an increase of 50 cents a day. Is this a good increase for poor people raising children?

A. The child credit remains and has been increased so poor families get a $2,000 tax credit, which in an increase. And they can get $1,400 in taxes returned.  

Q. On April 15, 2011 when Mr Obama was president, Mr Reed released this statement: “We are borrowing $58,000 per second on the backs of our children and grandchildren… Reducing spending and getting the national debt under control in the single most important issue…. Trillions of private dollars sit on the sidelines waiting to see if we are serious about reducing the deficit and paying down our debt….” Has Mr Reed changed his mind abut the deficit?

A. We are concerned about the deficit and debt. We are pro-growth and Mr Reed is concerned about spending.

Follow up: What specific spending does he want to cut?

A. Can’t answer.

The staff member, who was very polite and patient with me said he would try to contact others who could answer my questions.

Mr Reed used to be concerned about expanding deficits. Evidently he has concluded that our children have strong backs. They are going to need them.

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I’m Rubber, You’re Glue

Many times when I was in 2nd grade there were often various verbal conflicts among the students. Some examples might be : You’re a big dummy. Another good one: You stink. And the classic: You’re ugly and stupid.

It may seem that these rhetorical barbs are impossible to contradict. How can one defend oneself against such succinct and astute accusations? How does one fend off these clever verbal retorts?

Well, other 2nd graders were up to the task. When confronted with verbal abuse (by other students; verbal abuse by Sister Clamidia dare not be challenged) we were armed with the nuclear weapon of rhetorical excellence: I’m rubber and you’re glue. Whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you. 

OUCH. The attacker slinks off defeated. There is no response to this statement. Anything the attacker says now just ends up applying to the aggressor. The nuclear option.

Which brings me to modern politics.   Politicians sometimes make a claim about an opponent. The opponent is a crook. A sexual abuser. A criminal. You know the drill. And sometimes politicians just make statements which attribute certain other behaviors to their political foes.

Sometimes these accusations and statements end up being true or partially true. Other times the accusations end up being the 2nd grade equivalent of  “I’m rubber and you’re glue…” 

Some examples: Michael Flynn leading the chant at the GOP national convention: Lock Her Up. Lock Her Up. All the while Flynn himself had been secretly breaking the law and taking money from the Turkish dictator, possibly money funneled to him and his son from Putin. Now, Flynn has pleaded guilty and his heading for “Lock Up”.

I’m Rubber, You’re Glue

Donald Trump:  “How low has President Obama gone to tap my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!” March 4, 2017. Now the Mueller investigation closes in, Watergate -style, on Mr Trump. More and more evidence of the conspiracy between at least 9 members of the Trump campaign and Putin’s Russians. The firing of Comey to try to cover up the crimes.  Sounds an awful lot like Nixon/Watergate.

I’m Rubber, You’re Glue

“Why isn’t the House Intelligence Committee looking into the Bill & Hillary deal that allowed big Uranium to go to Russia[?]” he ( Trump) asked in a message posted to Twitter. Well, the Congress and special prosecutor are looking into deals with Russia. Trump deals. Even though Trump has denied ANY deals with Russia.

I have no deals that could happen in Russia, because we’ve stayed away,” Trump said in early January 2017 as President-elect. “We could make deals in Russia very easily if we wanted to, I just don’t want to because I think that would be a conflict. I have no loans, no dealings, and no current pending deals.”  

Except:  “Around the time presidential candidate Donald Trump was touting his real estate dealings at a Republican primary debate, a proposal was in the works to build a Trump Tower in Russia that would have given his company a $4 million upfront fee, no upfront costs, a percentage of the sales, and control over marketing and design. And that’s not all: the deal included the opportunity to name the hotel spa after his daughter Ivanka….”

I’m Rubber, You’re Glue

There’s more. A Trump tweet about Al Franken: “The Al Frankenstien picture is really bad, speaks a thousand words. Where do his hands go in pictures 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 while she sleeps? …”

Of course, Trump himself has bragged about sexually assaulting women. And at least 13, (the number seems to keep growing) different women over the years have charged that Donald has assaulted them. As far back as 1980. And he seems to really like the Moore-age girls. ” Tasha Dixon, who competed as Miss USA Arizona—not in the teen competition—in 2001 said: “He just came strolling right in. There was no second to put a robe on or any sort of clothing or anything. Some girls were topless. Other girls were naked.” Some of the contestants in Miss Teen USA were as young as 15. “Don’t worry, ladies, I’ve seen it all before,” Trump allegedly said.”

I’m Rubber, You’re Glue

So , next time you hear a member of Congress say that Bob Mueller is a “crook” or we should “lock her up” or that “everybody does it”, remember the second graders at St. Mary School.

I’m rubber and you’re glue. Perhaps that should be engraved on the Capitol Building and White House.

http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/08/politics/document-trump-tower-moscow/index.html

https://www.aol.com/article/news/2017/03/27/trump-calls-for-investigation-into-hillary-clinton-russia-connection/22014433/

https://www.thedailybeast.com/all-of-donald-trumps-accusers-a-timeline-of-every-alleged-grope-and-assault

 

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