Category Archives: Society

2nd Amendment and Guntrol, Part 2

The DC v Heller decision of 2008 established 3 things, according to the majority opinion written by Justice Scalia. (See https://josephurban.wordpress.com/2018/02/22/2nd-amendment-and-gun-control-part-1/ for details.)

First, individual citizens, not part of a militia, have the right to own weapons.

Second, the government has the right to regulate who can have weapons.

Third, the government has the right to determine the legality of specific weapons. 

So, any attempt by any member of Congress to suggest that any gun control violates the 2nd Amendment should be referrred to the Scalia opinion. Gun control is constitutional.

So, what kind of gun control , which does minimal damage to the desire (not right) of gun owners to certain weapons, are possible?  Here are some possible gun control measures which Congress could take.

  1. A mandatory background check for any gun purchaser. Using a nationwide data base that identifies felons out on parole, individuals convicted of spousal abuse, individuals convicted of any violent crime, individuals currently charged with a violent offense pending trial.
  2. A ban on the ownership and sale of military-style assault weapons and any devices that can be used to enhance the firing capacity of weapons, including bumpstocks. (Except in licensed shooting ranges).
  3. A ban on the sale and/or transportation of weapons across state lines.
  4. Mandatory written and field and safety tests for anyone purchasing a weapon, including a screening for emotional and mental stability.
  5. A ban on any sale of guns other than that of a registered gun seller. This includes the ban on trading, swap meets or other gun sales not taking place in an established,  permanent location.
  6. The registration of all weapons with the local authorities. Including the free transfer of weapons to immediate famiy members, which would be legal.
  7. Establishment of shooting ranges for those who wish to fire military style weapons. These establishments would be able to legally rent military style weapons to shooters to be used only at the shooting ranges.
  8. The ban on any bullet or projectile designed to explode on entering the body or designed to pierce armor.
  9. The licensing of any gun owner, renewable every five years, to determine that the person keeps up with the skill, visual acuity, mental capacity to handle a weapon safely  and understands the law relating to weapons.
  10. Establishment of free clinics and classes to teach and train gun owners as to the proper and safe use of firearms.
  11. A Right To Know Law which gives parents the right to know which households have guns in them. A parent could then decide for themselves if they want to expose their child to a household which has a weapon. (Many children die playing with guns each year).
  12. A yearly weapons licensing tax to help defray the costs of gun safety programs.
  13. A health care premium Gun Violence Tax for gun owners. This would help defray the massive costs to hospitals,police, courts, jails and the insurance industry for costs related to the care of victims and perpetrators of gun violence nationwide. Hang on to your six-shooter. The annual estimated cost of gun violence in the USA is $8,600,000,000 (billion) in direct medical care. And the overall cost of gun violence to the economy is $229,000,000,000. See references at the end of this blog for details.

I am confident that many or all of these solutions, taken as a whole, would significantly reduce both intentional and accidental gun mortality.  All of these ideas are constitutional and easily implemented. I am also sure that people more astute and informed than I have even more and better solutions.

We license people to drive cars. We renew auto license plates every year or two. We tax vehicles and gas  used in those vehicles. We let people know if there is a sex offender living in the neighborhood so parents can protect their children. We heavily tax tobacco to reduce usage and pay for the costs of medical care caused by tobacco. So, none of the ideas above, if applied to weapons , is radical or unusual.

Would these solutions stop ALL gun violence? Of course not. Even places with strict gun control laws have some gun violence. But the likelyhood of desth by gun in these nations is minimal compared to the USA.

In Austria you are as likely to drown in a swimming pool as be killed by a gun.  In New Zealand, your chances of death by gun are the same as falling from a ladder. In Poland, the chance is the same as being killed on your bicycle. And in Japan you are just as likely to be hit by lightening as killed by a gun.

Think about that last statistic the next time you watch a thunderstorm brewing.

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/get-there/wp/2018/02/22/the-enormous-economic-cost-of-gun-violence/?utm_term=.e68d8c3d5463

http://www.businessinsider.com/gun-violence-costs-america-more-than-229-billion-every-year-2015-4

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Filed under Congress, gun control, healthcare, logic, NRA, police, Politics, Society, Taxes, United States, US, violence

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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Filed under Foreign policy, government, nazi, Politics, POTUS, Society, Trump

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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Filed under Constitution, Democrat, government, Politics, Republicans, Society, Supreme Court

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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Filed under Congress, GOP, government, Politics, Psychology, socialism, Society, United States

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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Filed under economics, government, Politics, Society, Trump, United States

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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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-29. 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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Turkey Tax Theory

For over 30 years I have insisted on cooking the Thanksgiving turkey. I say “insisted”. It is my right as the head of the family. As a man. I decide these things. I know better than anyone else how to cook a turkey, so I take control. End of discussion. (Right, dear?)

I have a very sound theory of turkey cooking. First, you buy a turkey.  Then you cook it. Simple. Common sense.

Of course some folks might look to socalled “experts” when it comes to cooking turkey, but not me. They look in cook books and on line videos and some even ask grandma. But not me. I have a theory and I am sticking to it.

Now, the cookbook “experts” will tell you to cook a turkey at 325 degrees for a certain length of time, depending on the size of the bird. So much for experts. I have been using my own theory for 30 years. Ignoring the experts.

Here’s my theory.  I get a 15 pound turkey. Now, the “experts” say that you should cook a 15 pound turkey at 325 degrees for 3-3 1/2 hours. Balderdash. My common sense theory says  this is a waste of time. I don’t want to wait 3 1/2 hours for a turkey.  So, using common sense and math (Well, a calculator) my theory says this.

Cooking a turkey at 650 degrees will shorten the cooking time by exactly one-half. So, my turkey will be ready at 1 1/2 hours or so. No reason to wait for 3 hours. Simple. To the point. Common sense. A theory any idiot can understand.

I have been cooking Thanksgiving birds like this for 30 years and EVERY year, I mean EVERY year, the turkey ends up charred on the outside, partially cooked on the inside and a smoking mess. There is always a problem with the smoke filling the kitchen and the smoke alarm going off. I solve that easily by opening windows and disabling the smoke alarm ahead of time. Clever. The volunteer fire department is on retainer.

Why does the turkey always burn? For the first 20 years I figured it was a bad batch of turkeys. Not my fault. So I tried every turkey under the sun. I cooked each of the following , in order:

Honeysuckle, Butterball, Jennie-O, Norbest, Shay Brook, Riverside, Foster Farms, Boar’s Head, Plainville Farms, Trader Joe’s , Nature’s Promise, Perdue, Smithfield, Organic Prairie, Carolina, Pilgrim’s Pride, Applegate, Private Selection, O Organics, Cooper Farms.

As fate would have it, every one of these turkeys ended up being defective. They all burned.  They all filled my kitchen with smoke. Sad. Very sad. I thought maybe you just can’t get a decent turkey nowadays.

But then I thought. Wait. Maybe it’s the oven. So, I bought a new oven. Nope. Same problem. No matter what turkey I tried or oven I tried the end product was the same. I know that if only I had the right turkey and right oven my theory would be proven. It is just a matter of time. No amount of evidence can dissuade me from my theory.

Which brings us to the latest Tax Plan.

In 1980 Ronald Reagan had a great theory. A SPLENDID theory. Increase spending on the military. Give money to the rich by lowering taxes and they will create jobs. The economy will BOOM and unemployment will disapper. So, he put the theory into practice.  George H W Bush called it “voodoo economics” and said it would not work. By 1982 the US economy had experienced a recession and unemployment had RISEN to 10.8%. The GDP declined 2.7%. Opposite of the growth expected. Still, despite the evidence, it was a good theory.

In 1990 there was another smaller recession. This time George HW Bush was president. He had run on the slogan of “No New Taxes”. A great theory. Unfortunately circumstances beyond his control led him to abandon that theory and call for “revenue increases” to stabilize spending.  But he still had a good theory.

In 2001 George Bush had a theory. If we cut taxes on the wealthy they will invest in US jobs. GREAT! Wonderful theory. So, Congress cut corporate and individual taxes to stimulate the economy.  And he theorized that we needed to de-regulate big business. Too many restrictions were just strangling these major corporate and financial institutions. So, de-regulate we did. Excellent theory. Of course, it would take a few years for the effects to be felt. But the theory was sound.

And the effects were the biggest recession since 1945. Growth tanked to a negative 5.1%. Unemployment rose to 10%. Big money investors with all that extra capital did not create jobs in the US. Deregulated financial institutions simply made bad loans with investors money and went bust. (Well, they didn’t go bust, they got bailed out. Another theory. Too big to fail… even when they do).

When President  Obama left office unemployment was about 4%. A relatively stable rate. And there were no Obama-era recessions.So, the economy is back on track and continues to chug along. No reason to tamper with it.

BUT, we need to follow theories, not evidence. So, Congress is proposing the biggest tax breaks ever while proposing a massive increase in military spending . In 2015 the USA spent more on the military ($ 597,000,000,000 that’s billion) than the next 10 nations combined. The US spent more than the total spent by China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, UK, India, France, Germany, Japan, S Korea and Brazil…COMBINED). This is not to suggest the US does not need a strong military, but this seems a bit excessive. Spend more, take in less. Voodoo economics, anyone?

So, once again we are following a theory that has been shown to have no evidence supporting it, IF the goal is a stable , fair economic system. But the theory sounds pretty good.

For my part, I continued to use my theory to cook my Thanksgiving turkey. Despite the naysayers. OK, so it got burned again this year. No turkey for Thanksgiving. On the positive side, my wife has made a standing reservation for Thanksgiving at Hop Sing’s Chinese Restaurant.  She is  no theoretician. And I am developing a taste for Mu Shu Pork.

http://www.butterball.com/how-tos/roast-a-turkey

https://www.ranker.com/list/best-turkey-brands/ranker-shopping

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Read_my_lips:_no_new_taxes

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

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Incidents of Travel Abroad

Now that we have returned from our 3 weeks in Andalusia (Spain) and a couple days in Dublin (Ireland) I can reflect on some of the experinces and lessons learned.

  1. Andalusia is everything I thought it would be and more. This area of Europe was controlled by Muslims until 1492. For hundreds of years , under Muslim control, memebers of all three religions (Islam, Judaism and Christianity) lived in relative harmony. Non-Muslims had to pay a special tax, but that was it. They could worship how they wanted. Then, some fundamentalist Muslim leaders started persecuting the Jews and Christians and things went downhill. Eventually the Christians (Ferdinand and Isabella) took over and things went off a cliff. The Spanish Inquisition was instituted and Jews and Muslims were tortured and murdered. End of Al-Andalus.                           https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Andalus

2. The customs official in Dublin. Friendly. Wished us a happy holiday. The customs official in Malaga, Spain. Friendly. When he saw that I had been born in Chicago and my wife in Detroit he decided to have a chat. He had been to the US and we talked about our travels and his travels in his broken English and our broken Spanish. We chatted for about 5 minutes before he stamped our passports and welcomed us to Spain. The customs official in the USA. Unfriendly. Unsmiling.

3. Pants. I bought 2 pair of travel pants which made travel so much easier. Three pockets within the pockets that zipped close. Wallet in front right. Passport in left front. All zippered in. Another zippered pocket in the back and another small pocket for a flip phone. No worries about getting anything lifted . ( I had my passport and money lifted by a very proficient lady on the Rome subway a few years ago).  These pants took the worry out of walking around. Nothing hanging around my neck.

https://shop.bluffworks.com/pages/travel-pants

4. Transportation in Spain. Reliable, clean convenient train service between cities. Fast. Reserved seats. Trains on time. Same with the buses. Clean, comfy.  At least the long distance ones that we took. When I think of train and bus stations in the US I think of the “other side of the tracks”. In Spain they are central and packed with people. The bigger ones have restaurants. It is possible to have decent public transport. Spain proves that.

http://www.renfe.com/EN/viajeros/index.html

5. Taxis. Dublin, Cordoba, Malaga and Grenada were fine. But in Seville the taxi drivers, noticing that we were tourists, always managed to fine the “scenic route” to our destination. Padding 1 or 2 euros to the bill. The fastest distance between 2 points is the one that gave the taxi driver a little more loot!

6. Food. Eat the local food. Ham is big in Andalusia. And “tapas”, those small servings of bread and ham or sausage or cheese that come with your beer. My favorite: Bull’s tail stew. Unlike Mexico, where I get sick for a day or 2 whenever I try to eat, in Andalusia neither of us had any problems. Food was great and fairly priced.

http://awanderingcasiedilla.com/2017/02/03/awc-guide-best-tapas-granada/

7. The reason I went to Andalusia. The Alhambra  in Grenada. The Mezquita in Cordoba. The Alcazar in Seville.  (google them) The ocean in Cadiz. The architecture from the Islamic period was not only monumental, but was decorated without using any human figures. So, intricate geometric patterns  were carved into walls, celings, doorways and tiles. The skill of the craftsmen is awesome.

https://www.alhambradegranada.org/en/info/nasridpalaces/alhambranasridpalaces.asp

https://mezquita-catedraldecordoba.es/en/

http://www.alcazarsevilla.org/english-version/

8.  Final note. Leaving Dublin heading for the USA. Unbeknownst to us, all travelers to the USA have to go through a double security system. First, the Irish system which is very thorough and relatively pleasant. Empty your pockets, walk through the body scanner, pick up your stuff. OK. But then, there is another sign with a big USA flag on it.

So, walk downstairs and go through a special US security system. Which is the same as the Irish system. Except for one difference. They don’t do a body scan. Now, understand this. We had to go through the Irish system to get into the departure section, then we had to go through a second system just for the USA.  After going through the US system we then got in line to go to the computer terminals. At these terminals you put in your passport. Then you either get on your tiptoes (if you are short) or crouch down (if you are tall) and have your picture taken. This picture then comes out of the machine on a long strip of paper. It gets better.

You now take this picture that you just took and walk 30 feet to the waiting US security station. Remember, you just walked 30 feet to this new station with the picture you just took. The security person looks at the picture  and looks at you. Remember you just took this picture in full view of the security personnel just 30 feet away. He then verifies that the picture you just took of yourself is actually you. To my undying relief the picture I just took of myself WAS, in fact, me! So, I was allowed to continue.

I am not sure what the purpose is of putting people going to the US through this senseless process. You have already been checked by airport security. You passport has been checked. And the silliest part, showing security the picture you just took of yourself. I am guessing in most cases the photo you just took  is usually going to be you. Unless you metamorphasize in the 30 feet between stations. If a would-be terrorist takes a picture of himself will he no longer resemble that photo 10 seconds later? (By the way, you still have to through US security when you land in the US) .

My conclusion: Theater. Adding some processes to play to a fantasy  that this somehow makes travel to the US safer, when in fact it just makes it annoying. Or perhaps the manufacturer of the computer/photo systems made sizable campaign contributions ?

Travel is great fun. Except for the airlines. And security. Can’t wait until they perfect the transporter beams. Beam me to Spain, Scotty!

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Sex Harrassment Training

“The Senate unanimously approved legislation late Thursday that institutes mandatory sexual harassment training for senators and aides — a potentially meaningful shift amid calls for overhauling Capitol Hill’s system for handling harassment complaints.”

https://www.politico.com/story/2017/11/09/congress-sexual-harassment-training-senators-aides-244762

I was able to acquire an actual audiotape of the first meeting of the sexual harrassment training for Congress. I have changed the names to protect my congressman.

From the audiotape:

Anonymous Congressman: Hey, babe, is this the place for the sex training?

9 year old girl: Hi Mister, yes, this is the place for your training.

AC: So, who is running this show?

9YO: I am . I was asked by my mommy to talk to you all today.

AC: Aren’t you a little young to teach us how to harrass women?

9YO: No, Mister. I am here to help you learn how to be good.

AC: Oh, oops. I misunderstood. The email  said “sexual harrassment training”. I thought someone would teach me how to  harrass my female  employees and not get caught.

9YO: No, Mister. I am supposed to help you understand that sex stuff is wrong.

AC: Ouch. Boy am I embarrassed. So, what do I need to know?

9YO: Well, you should be nice to people.

AC: But what if I really want to touch a woman. You know, I really want to. I can hardly control myself. And I am the boss.

9YO: You should not touch anyone who doesn’t want to be touched. It’s not nice.

AC: OK. I never knew that ! Wow! So, if I am the boss I should not just like kiss her or grab her by her..uh.. private parts. You know, like President Trump.

9YO: No, that is wrong. That is being a bad man. You should never touch anyone who does not want to be touched.

AC: So, it would be wrong to just grab a woman? Really? I never knew that. What if I say sexy stuff to her? Like Clarence Thomas.

9YO: No. That is bad. You should not say sexy words to someone  in the workplace. You should never say things to make them afraid or sad. That is bad.

AC: Wow. I never knew that. So I should not make commensts to women about having sex with me or force a women to have sex on my desk. Like Matt Lauer.

9YO: NO! That is called rape. That is a bad thing. Do not do that. That is very naughty. Don’t you understand?

AC: What if I “accidently” grab a female on her butt? I mean, what if it is an accident? Like Al Franken?

9YO: NO! You are making me mad ! No. No. No. That is wrong. Don’t touch.

AC: Well, I am trying. But I never knew that was wrong. I am learning so much today that I never knew! Let me see if I understand. I should not touch women or girls  if they don’t want to be touched. I should not say sexy things to women in the workplace. I should not rape women, even if they are working for me?

9YO: Yes. Now you understand. That is called sex harrassment. That is wrong. I learned in Kindergarten that you should not touch others. Didn’t you ever go to Kindergarten? My teacher said to never touch others who do not want to be touched.

AC: OK. I get it. Thank you for this training. I never knew that it was wrong to touch or kiss or rape a woman. This training has really opened my mind.

(The 9 year old leaves the room but the tape is still running.)

AC: (talking to an aide). That girl was really HOT, wasn’t she? I was going to invite her to have dinner with me tonight at Hooters. Think that would be wrong?

End of tape.

Personal aside: The people who we elect to make our laws need to be TRAINED not to sexually harrass other human beings. Please read the previous sentence again. Then try not to cry.

 

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Filed under Congress, Conservatives, crime, GOP, government, logic, Neoconservative, Politics, POTUS, Senate, Society, Trump, United States, violence, workers

The Strange Case of Baby M

I met Baby M a couple weeks ago. She was approximately 2 and a half months old, but she was actually born 6 weeks prematurely.  So, she was still pretty tiny and just starting to grasp with her little fingers.

Baby M was born to two immigrant parents. Legal immigrants. One is working full time.

In the United States approximately 10% of newborns are born  prematurely. The costs associated with a preemie are pretty high. On average about $ 49,000 – $65,000, sometimes much higher depending on the services needed.

https://www.romper.com/p/heres-how-the-new-trumpcare-would-affect-premature-babies-kids-with-pre-existing-conditions-2414543

Under the ACA (Obamacare) insurers are required to cover births and babies. They cannot disregard “pre-existing conditions”. Before the ACA a pregnancy could be considered a pre-existing condition. For example, if a man changed jobs while his wife was pregnant and had to buy a new health insurance policy, his wife’s pregnancy could be considered a “pre-existing” condition. The insurer could legally avoid paying for the pregancy and birth.

In the United States, before Obamacare, it was even possible  for folks with good insurance to be stuck with big hospital bills. For example, in some hospitals the care for preemies is handled by a contracting service, not the hospital itself. So, while the health insurance company may cover the birth, it would not cover the special services needed by preemies. In some cases parents were on the hook for hundreds of thouslands of dollars. That was before the ACA.

The GP wants to repeal the ACA. Mr Trump wants to repeal Obamacare. If we repeal Obamacare we will repeal all the benefits.

The Cost of Premature Birth: For One Family, More than $2 Million

Back to Baby M. Baby M was not born in the United States. She was born in Ireland. To two immigrant parents.

All of the expenses associated with Baby M’s birth and the special care in the hospital under the care of professionals were paid for by the Irish health care system. All of them. (Remember that $49,000- $65,000 estimate).

Baby M needed a medical professional to come to her home once a week for a few weeks.  Typical for preeemies. All expenses were paid for by the Irish health care system.

Baby M will have all of her  health care expenses paid for, by the Irish health care system, up to the age of 6, except for dental. (Did I mention that neither of Baby M’s parents, nor Baby M herself, is an Irish citizen?).

Until she is 18, Baby M’s parents will receive a monthly stipend from the Irish government to help pay expenses for this new human being. This will amount to about 120 euros each month ($142.00 US). I am not sure if everyone qualifies for this or it applies only to couples where one person stays home to raise the child.

Of course, this must be paid for. The Irish do pay high taxes, by US standards. Workers who are married pay 20% of the first 42,000 euros ($ 50,000) and higher income workers pay 40% of whatever they earn above that amount.

http://irishlinks.co.uk/income-tax-ireland.htm

But, there is no income tax filing. The government just takes it all out of your pay each pay period. And there is no health insurance sign up for . No need to wade through dozens of different “plans” to try to figure out what you need.  Or go online to find a deal. When you change jobs your insurance is not impacted. So, no paperwork or research.

The case of Baby M is strange in the US. The automatic benefits she receives would be strange in the US. The idea that she gets free health care without filling out insurance forms is strange. The fact that Baby M will get a stipend to help her parents care for her is strange.

The good news for Baby M? She was born in Ireland where they seem to put their money where their mouth is. Where they put into practice a thing called “family values”. You know, that thing the GOP is always referring to. While they vote to end the ACA.

 

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Fitness for High Office

One of the most laughable statements  by politicians in modern times was made by Mitch McConnell recently. He was talking about Roy Moore, the GOP candidate for the Senate.

“He’s obviously not fit to be in the United States Senate,” Mr. McConnell told reporters on Tuesday.        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/14/us/politics/sex-scandals-mitch-mcconnell.html?src=twr&_r=0

Let me say this about Roy Moore. He is, in my opinion, a pedophile. He is a slug. He sees himself as an Old Testament patriarch whose gender and age allows him to do anything he wants to anyone he wants. At the same time, the people of Alabama have the right to send to the Senate anyone they want.

If the people of Alabama want an accused pedophile and a moron to represent them, so be it.  If he committed a crime in Alabama that is for Alabama to determine. Look at the man who he is trying to replace. Jeff Sessions. A man who actively prosecuted black citizens for registering other black citizens to vote. The “high standards” of the Senate dd not see a problem with that. The Senateand House have been seating bigots and racists for over a century and it seems not to violate any ethical standards.

How many of these giants of the Senate have voted over and over to take away heath care for the working poor? How many times have they voted to end the ACA? How many times have these morally superior men noto voted t raise the minimum wage for those “working Americans” they love to talk about. How many of these fine gentlemen have voted to give massive breaks to the wealthy and screw the poor? How many of these fine representatives have supported voter suppression laws?

I would suggest that there is NO ONE who is morally repugnant enough to be excluded from the Senate or the House . And the record supports me.

I could care less if a senator wants to bang a dog. In some states that may be a requirement. Who knows?

That said, let’s look at a number of these sexual accusations and how they played out over the years.

Dwight Eisenhower and John F Kennedy both had affairs . The press never reported them although they were gossiped about  and well-known. But affairs are consensual sexual relations. Which are in a different category than sex crimes. (Although when JFK and Ike were alive adultery was a crime in most states, and is still a crime in 21 states. Should they have been impeached?)  http://www.freep.com/story/life/family/2014/04/17/in-which-states-is-cheating-on-your-spouse-illegal/28936155/

Did Moore commit sex crimes? Seems so. He was in his thirties and went after very young girls. Pedophilia?  His supporters seem to use the Bible as some justification for his proclivities. I think the guy is just sick and needs treatment. He seems to have  along history of this kind of behavior.

Al Franken has just been “outed” as an abuser as well. He forced himself on a woman and kissed her against her will. He took a fraternity-style photo of himself pretending to grope her while she slept. Is this sexual assault? Was this a one time thing ? A jackass trying to be funny? Franken apologized and said he was ashamed. Will other women come forward? If the people of Minnesota want a former comedian who has apologized for his actions to represent them, so be it.

Bill Clinton had consensual sex with Monica Lewinsky in the White House. She was 22 years old. Is a 22-year-old woman an adult who can make those decisions about who to have sex with or not? Is it crass and icky for an old man to use his position of power and have sex with someone who technically works for him (although in a non paid position). Is it illegal or just smelly? Does it make him unworthy to hold the office of president?

Then we come to the Abuser-in-Chief himself. A man who has bragged repeatedly about sexually abusing women. He has said he forced himself on women. Kissed them when he wanted. Grabbed them by the pussy. He has been found guilty of discrimination in housing  against black renters. He has been found guilty of ripping off young people at his phony Trump University and forced to pay $ 25,000,000 in damages. And he has been accused by multiple women and girls of sexual misconduct, including forcible kissing and groping.

How can Mitch McConnell or anyone member of the government DARE claim that Judge Moore or Al Franken or Bojo the One-Eyed Pedophile is not fit for government “service”.The American people have spoken. Well, at least 60,000,000 have spoken.

They spoke in November of 2016 and said unequivocally that ANY PERSON, no matter how low their moral compass is suited to participate at the highest levels of government. No matter what kind of sluggish behavior a human being can engage in, it was evidently not sluggish enough to prevent 60,000,000 from voting for him.

The Congress is not the synod of bishops or the college of cardinals of the Catholic Church. It is not a moral or religious organization. It is a bunch of men and some women who want to tell the rest of us what to do. They want to make laws. They are fallible human beings who should not be held to any standard other than how they vote on issues.

I do not support sex abuse in any form, but let’s be real. The  “standards” of government behavior hardly eleimnate anyone from serving in Congress.

(Please excuse editing errors. For some reason I cannot control my editor today!)

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Can Donnie Come Out and Play?

When I was a boy many, many years ago…How long ago, you ask? Before Twitter. Before Facebook. Before the internet. Before Blu Ray. Before DVDs. Before CDs. Before VHS. Before cable TV. Before Fox . Before video games. Before…well…just about everything.

We had a black and white TV and 3 channels. And if you missed the big game or your show, well, you missed it.  If you were lucky you could wait for the re-runs in 6 months.

Where was I? Oh, yes. When I was a boy many, many years ago we did active things for fun. Every weekend and summer we would play softball or touch football. For hours on end. After taking care of a few chores the rest of the day was unsupervised fun.

I learned many lessons from those days. At the time I did not know it. I thought we were just playing ball. But in retrospect the unsupervised hours and days with my friends were filled with life lessons that , unknown to me, stuck. I wonder if Donald ever learned those lessons? I think not.

There was Jack and the Sullivan boys and Joe and an assortment of others. Sometimes Erich. Sometimes Pawlawski. And a few others.

In the summer we would spend all day playing softball at the church parking lot. We knew it was time to go home when the bells rang, I think it was 5 o’clock. Usually 8 of us, sometimes only 6. With that small number of players we devised rules for a pretty decent softball game.

Playing with 3 on a team meant you had a slow pitch pitcher, a shortstop and a left fielder. With only 3 batters you always had to have someone score to take the next slot at the plate. Pitcher’s hands are out. Any ball hit to the right side of 2nd base was an automatic out. No ghost runners. The bases were sometimes pieces of wood, sometimes shirts, sometimes big stones. Never those canvas things used by real teams.

Playing touch football was the same. No first downs. Four downs to score a touchdown. One center, one end and one quarterback. One touch and you are down. No tackling.

No adults to be seen. We played by the rules and had fun. Was Dan safe at the plate or not? Well, Dan knows. If he says he was safe, he was safe. Did the ball get to the pitcher before Joe reached first? Some said yes, some said no. OK. Well, I guess he was out. No arguing. No fights. No instant replays. Someone would just say, OK, I guess you are right.

Did Jack cross the goal line or was he touched at the “one”? Jack said he scored. OK. He must have  scored.  He’s not a cheater. When Doug was touched he  always stuck the ball 6 inches ahead, just like the pro running backs on TV. I always waited until he turned around and pushed the ball 12 inches back.  It worked for both of us.

I can’t recall any serious arguments and certainly no fights. we just figured it all out.

So, what lessons was I learning that I never knew I learned by this unsupervised play?

Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Doesn’t really matter because we are playing again tomorrow.

If you don’t own a ball, someone else will. If you don’t own a bat, someone else will. That’s why we let everybody play.

If you have a fielder’s glove, toss it to your opponent as he goes to left field. He doesn’t own one and your not using yours when you are batting.

The guys on the other team today will be on my team tomorrow. It is all fluid. 

Uniforms are not needed. You are still a team even if you aren’t dressed alike.

Some people are better than others. Some are better at some things than I am. I am better at some things than they are. That’s the way it is.

Don’t complain about wrong calls. You know if you were safe or out. That’s enough.

Win “fair and square” or lose. Don’t cheat your friends. There is no future in it.

We need all the players we can get. Everyone is important.

It  doesn’t matter what you look like as long as you can catch the ball.

Donald is only 4 years older than me. I don’t know if he was allowed to play unsupervised with other kids. . To figure out how to negotiate human relationships. To learn to respect others and their abilities. To share his baseball glove. It does not appear to be the case.

It’s too late now, but I wonder if he would have been different had he lived on the East Side with the working class mopes like us. I wonder what would have happened had we been able to ride our bikes to his house, knock on the door and ask:

“Can Donnie come out and play?”

 

 

 

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Filed under Education, entertainment, Politics, POTUS, Psychology, Society, Sports, Trump, twitter, US

Witness Tampering

I don’t follow Hollywood so I really have never heard of this Weinstein character. I wouldn’t recognize him. I wouldn’t want to. Evidently he spent years harassing, attacking, abusing, maybe raping women who were his subordinates. Evidently a lot of people knew about it and colluded in covering up what he was doing. Payoffs were made. Hush money to victims.

We saw the same thing with Bill O’Reilly and Fox News. Over $13,000,000 paid in hush money. Same with Roger Ailes, also at Fox. Donald Trump even bragged about assaulting women. Who knows how much hush money he has paid over the years. Then there is Cosby. And Bill Clinton.

Who knows how many other men in positions of power have abused women and work for companies that paid hush money. These victims sign “confidentiality agreements”, get paid a lot of money (by the stockholders of these companies) and then are required to keep silent about the abuse. All legal. For some reason.

Which confuses me. Didn’t these men commit crimes? Is it legal for wealthy individuals to exempt themselves from criminal prosecution by paying off witnesses? That seems to be the case.

Imagine this.

A man robs a bank and walks off with $1 million. It turns out that someone in the bank recognized him. So, the bank robber goes to guy who recognized him and says: Here is  $100,000. Sign this “confidentiality agreement” that says you will not turn me in. And if you do turn me in my gang and I will make your life miserable.”

Would that be legal?

Can you make a legal agreement NOT to report a crime in exchange for cash? Especially when not reporting a crime may mean even more people will be victimized and paid off in the future?

I don’t know the law, but it seems to me no different than witness tampering. A criminal paying a witness to keep quiet. The guy with the thicker bankroll walks away. To commit more crimes. And make more payoffs.

Maybe there ought to be a law against all “confidentiality agreements” which involve any illegal activity. Don’t you think?

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Trump is NOT a Moron

It was recently reported that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has privately referred to Mr Trump as a “moron”. I OBJECT! It will not stand.

The term “moron” comes from the Greek moros meaning dull. According to the old Binet scale of intelligence a moron has the mental age of an 8-12 year old. Using the more modern terminology a moron would have an IQ of between 51-70. What we used to call mentally retarded and now refer to as mentally challenged or disabled.

Below a moron is an imbecile. Now, an imbecile is someone with an IQ of 26-50. Not very sharp. An imbecile is a term no longer used in the psychiatric profession. So, it would be difficult to scientifically determine whether or not Mr Trump is an imbecile. I am willing to give him the benefit if the doubt and say: NO, Trump is not an imbecile.

Many people refer to Trump as an “idiot”. An idiot traditionally is described as someone with an IQ of between 0-25. The lowest intellect possible. So an idiot would be really low intellectually. A really dull person. Unable to do anything at all. But , let’s look at the word origin.

An idiot comes from the Greek idiotes which means “private citizen” , “individual” or “person without professional skill”. And in Latin idiota means an “uneducated or ignorant person.”

From Wikipedia:

“…An idiot in Athenian democracy was someone who was characterized by self-centeredness and concerned almost exclusively with private—as opposed to public—affairs.[7] Idiocy was the natural state of ignorance into which all persons were born and its opposite, citizenship, was effected through formalized education.[7] In Athenian democracy, idiots were born and citizens were made through education (although citizenship was also largely hereditary)….”

So, an idiot is someone who is completely self-centered. Concerned exclusively with himself. Someone who has no public concerns. The perfect narcissist. An idiot cares only about himself. Period.

So, Mr Tillerson, you are wrong. I will not accept your analysis. Mr Trump is NOT a moron. What is he? You figure it out.

 

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moron_(psychology)

http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2010/03/the-words-moron-imbecile-and-idiot-mean-different-things/

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

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A Moment of Silence…Then Re-Load

Another American Tragedy has occurred. Every day 100 Americans die due to guns. About half are suicides and accidents. The other half are murders. Every day. A daily American tragedy.

But some days are more tragic than others. Mass shootings. Mass killings. Or a Congressman or Congresswoman shot. Every day it’s somebody’s baby, somebody’s husband, somebody’s daddy, somebody’s mommy. Every day.

But when the mass killings occur the entire nation stops. Stops for a moment of silence. The president sends his condolences. It is part of the job description. The anti-gun lobby energizes and says: This has got to stop. The gun lobby energizes and says: No, it doesn’t.

In this century.

Red Lake Massacre. Minnesota 10 dead, 5 wounded. Moment of silence.

Virginia Tech Massacre. Virginia. 23 dead, 32 wounded. Moment of Silence.

Binghamton shootings. New York. 14 dead, 4 wounded. Moment of Silence.

Fort Hood Massacre. Texas. 13 dead, 30 wounded. Moment of Silence.

Aurora Theater shooting. Colorado. 12 dead, 70 wounded. Moment of Silence.

Newtown School shooting (Sandy Hook) Massachusetts. 28 dead, 2 wounded. Moment of Silence.

Washington Navy Yard shooting. DC. 12 dead, 8 wounded. Moment of Silence.

San Bernadino shooting. California. 14 dead, 21 wounded. Moment of Silence.

Orlando Nightclub Massacre. Florida. 49 dead, 53 wounded. Moment of Silence.

Las Vegas Strip massacre. Nevada. 50+ dead, 500+ wounded. Moment of Silence.

So much silence. So much silence in the face of regular murders. The moment of silence is no longer special. No longer has any meaning.

So, why have a “Moment of Silence” after these disturbing mass killings of Americans by other Americans?

Perhaps it is to give the NRA the time to re-load.

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/12/mass-shootings-mother-jones-full-data/

 

 

 

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Who Was That Old Lady, Anyway?

When I was little we had an old lady living with us. We called her “Busia” (boo-shah). She had been born in Poland and came to the USA in 1913 by boat, two small kids in tow. In steerage. She was meeting her husband, who was already in the USA working in the mines.

When I knew her she was already pretty old. She didn’t speak English because she had had a stroke. It also left her right arm partially paralyzed so the time I accidentally slammed the car door on her she didn’t feel a thing. Small favors.

Her husband, who I never met, was long dead. Her only son went to war against the Nazis. He was shot down and killed over Germany. She had a flag. The US government had sent her a flag.

She cheated at cards. And when you tried to call her on it she could not (or pretended she could not) understand what you were saying. Hopeless. But she made the best potato pancakes I ever have had. Been trying to duplicate them for 50 years. Haven’t succeeded.

Who was this old lady? For a long time I thought she was a close family member with a “bone fide” relationship. For a long time I treated as though she was a member of the family.

The other day I found out I was wrong. The USA’s new, improved “travel ban ” from a number of countries has gone into effect. No longer can anyone emigrate to the USA. The only exceptions are people from these countries who are close family members. Who have a “bona fide” relationship to a citizen or legal immigrant. I think that is not such a bad idea.

So, who is included as a “close family member”? Parents, spouses, siblings, fiances and children.

And who is specifically EXCLUDED from the category of “close family member”? Who cannot claim a close family relationship. Who is, for purposes of sponsoring immigration, a “stranger”.

This may surprise some of you whose children have had children. Among those not in the category of “close family member” are  “grandparents”. Grandma and grandpa are not “close family members” Fiances are. But not Gramps.

Which brings me back to Busia. Busia was my mother’s mother. Who lived with us off and on for many years. She was my grandmother. Who , at the time, I THOUGHT was a fairly close relative of mine. Not so. My mother’s mother was something else. What was she?

Who was that old lady, anyway?

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-immigration-ruling-idUSKBN19S08N

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372,000 Heroes and Silence

Congressman Scalise was shot by a nutcase with a gun. The usual nutcase, a white male. He was targeted for his political beliefs by a disgruntled , out of work male and shot. Not killed, but almost.

The same thing happened to Congresswoman Giffords a few years ago. On the other side of the political spectrum. Shot by a disgruntled white male. A nutcase. Like Scalise, she survived.

In both cases Congress rose as one to condemn the senseless violence. In both cases Congress was appalled by the mindless, fanatic attack on one of their own. The Congress pulled together behind Giffords and Scalise. They condemned the violence. They praised the courage of their colleagues in the face of near-death.

Scalise and Giffords are heroes. They survived. They live . Congress is outraged. Congress is sickened. And Congress will do nothing about it. You can take that to the bank.

Since the terror attack on 9/11 over 372,000 Americans have been heroes. You don’t know their names. 372,000 Americans have been injured by guns. Intentionally. 372,000 heroes who have been cocooned in silence as far as Congress is concerned. Not a peep from the outraged. Not a condemnation from the Capitol dome. Nothing.

In addition. Approximately 186,000 Americans have been killed, intentionally, by guns. 186,000 heroes. Silent heroes. Unnamed heroes. They were not important. They were not in Congress.

There have been 62 tragedies of 9/11 proportions since 9/11. Americans terrorizing other Americans with guns. Americans murdering other Americans. Sixty-two 9/11s. From Congress? Silence.

Every day in America, on average, 7 children and teens are killed by guns. Every day. This week there will be 50 Gabby Giffords who do not survive. All of them under the age of 20. Over 5000 children hospitalized each year with gun-related injuries. And Congress is silent.

Every day 93 Americans are killed by guns. Homicide. Accident. Suicide. They are all dead. This year 34,000 Americans will die because someone had a gun. And didn’t keep it safe. Or used it aggressively in during a moment of anger. Or in a temporary fit of depression just took their own life. It is almost equivalent of one 9/11 each month. And Congress is silent.

So, it may seem cold. But I do not get outraged by the shooting of Giffords or Scalise. I don’t applaud the violence. But it leaves me a bit cold.

After all, there were over 66 Steve Scalises  shot today and sent to the hospital. They survived as 66 unnamed heroes. No Congressmen shed tears or made speeches condemning their assailants.  And the 230 Gabby Giffords who were shot this week did NOT survive. 230 dead unnamed heroes. Not a peep from Congress. Not a word. Silence.

When compared to other industrialized nations the US has a homicide rate which is, on average, 25 times higher. The US homicide rate by guns is 18 times greater than France. The gun homicide rate is 60 times higher than Germany. And the US murder rate with guns is a whopping 90 times that of the UK. (Note: These numbers are out of date, but not that far off).

To be fair, Latin American nations like Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala, Belize, etc. have significantly higher murder rates that the US. So, I guess that is some consolation. We are better than Honduras. Hurray!

Nothing will change. Scalise will be lionized and applauded for surviving. He lives. But the applause will end. Our representatives  will cry their collective crocodile tears. Then Congress will get back to regular order, which includes taking massive donations from the NRA and the gun industry.  In the last election cycle the NRA and gun industry spent $ 52,000,000 opposing candidates who support gun control.

So the killings will continue. And so will the silence.

https://everytownresearch.org/gun-violence-by-the-numbers/

http://www.snopes.com/gun-murders-per-100000-residents/

https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2012/jul/22/gun-homicides-ownership-world-list

https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?id=d000000082

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No Surprises Here

Over the last month I have watched various talking heads discuss the travesty that is the Trump presidency. They feign shock and horror at his false tweets. They are shocked by his lack of respect for the separation of powers. They are amazed that the GOP sits by while he fires a man investigating him and admits to obstruction of justice on a TV interview.

Hello.

What did you expect? What is new?

President Obama  said: “I have to tell you, this office, it’s about who you are and what you are and it doesn’t change after you occupy the office – it just magnifies it.”

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/2104523/barack-obama-says-donald-trump-is-not-fit-to-become-the-next-us-president/

We all knew who and what Donald Trump is before he was elected. Did anyone expect that a 70 year old man, who has spent his entire life surrounded by sycophants, was going to become “presidential”? Really?

This is a man who has the following history:

Refuses to rent to black folks and is sued for discrimination (and loses) by the federal government. Had to pay a multi-million dollar settlement.

Inherited a multi-million dollar real estate empire and inside political connections with mob bosses in NYC, without lifting a finger.

Somehow managed to mismanage a casino and actually go bankrupt.

Multiple times failed to pay contractors for work done, driving some of them to the brink of bankruptcy.

Bragged about sexually abusing women.

Forced to pay over $20,000,000 damages to students he fleeced at “Trump University”.

Refused to divulge any Russia dealings in his tax returns.

Had a number of campaign advisers with strong ties to Putin. Flynn, Tillerson, Manafort, Stone, Page, Sessions, etc.

Then, of course, there are his multiple, regular false statements. A serial liar:

Obama was born in Kenya.

Clinton broke the law.

Insisted that Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the JFK assassination.

He knew Putin. Then he did not know Putin. Then he met Putin. Then he did not meet Putin.

Obama illegally wiretapped his phones.

Supported a health bill that did the opposite of what he promised in the campaign.

Fired Comey because Comey was mean to Clinton. Because he was asked to do so by the assistant to Sessions. Because he was tired of the “fake” Russia investigation. Take your pick.

So, what’s the big deal. The talking heads KNEW this. Why are they surprised? The GOP rank and file KNEW this when they went into those voting booths and voted for this person. He did not get 60,000,000 votes without overwhelming support from the GOP. We all knew what he was and is. The GOP voters did not care.

And , as President Obama opined in North Carolina as the election was drawing to a close:

“This guy is temperamentally unfair to be commander in chief, and he is not equipped to be president.”

“It’s strange how over time what is crazy gets normalised, and we just kinda assume, ‘Well, he’s said a hundred crazy things, so the hundred-and-first thing we don’t even notice.”

So, let’s stop pretending that this is somehow a surprise. The question is: What does the GOP do about it? You brought us to this point. Surprise us.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Great Health Insurance Lie

The ongoing debate about about health care continues. Is the ACA better than Trumpcare? Is Trumpcare better because it includes more free market choices? Is Obamacare better because it covers 24,000,000 more people? What about the deficit.

And so forth.

But there is one fact, one truth, one absolute “know” that all sides of the debate seem to accept at face value. If you can disabuse yourself of this “truth” the health care issue can be solved.  There is one “given” that no one  from Sanders to Clinton to Trump to Cruz or any of their associates seems to challenge. That given is the following fallacy

Companies provide health insurance to employees. The government supplies health insurance to employees. Health insurance costs “job creators” billions of dollars a year.

False. Absolutely false.

There is not now, never has been and never will be any company or school district or government that provides health insurance to the employee.  Every employee from the highest to the lowest paid. In every industry. In every business. In every time period. Every employee has always paid and will always pay their own health insurance costs. Period.

Health insurance costs are not taken out of profits. They are not taken out of investors’ dividends. They are taken out of the employee’s salary. Every time.

Anyone who has ever been involved in negotiating contracts should understand this. As should anyone who has an understanding of basic economic theory. Every employer , whether public or private, has  an amount  of money that it sets aside for the “cost of labor”. Part of that “cost of labor” is benefits. One of those costly benefits is health insurance.

Does anyone think, really, that health insurance is some “gift” from an employer? Really? Never. The cost of health insurance is simply deducted from the employee’s salary as part of the “cost of labor”. The employee takes a lower salary and pays for his own insurance.

Does anyone really think that a business negotiates  a contract and then, out of the goodness of its heart, just adds on health insurance? Really?

Once you understand that you, as an employee pay for your own insurance you realize how vile the CEOs of companies like Hobby Lobby truly are. Hobby Lobby employees pay for their own insurance, yet the Supreme Court has decreed that the CEO of Hobby Lobby can dictate the kind of coverage the employee has paid for. Ludicrous.

So, next time someone tells you that their employer is “providing health insurance” and so the employer should be able to dictate what coverage they can have. Set them straight. Tell them they pay for their own insurance. And will continue to do so. Even though their boss may dictate what kind of coverage they get.

Your employer “gives” you health insurance. The big fat heath insurance lie. And another reason why we should have a single payer option. After all, the workers are paying for health insurance, shouldn’t they decide what option they want?

 

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Filed under ACA, Congress, Cruz, economics, Economy, government, healthcare, Hobby Lobby, logic, Obamacare, Politics, Society, unions, United States, workers

Trump’s Moonies

When  I was in college from 1968-72 there was a guy I knew who was incredibly smart. Probably the most intelligent person I ever met, aside, of course, from yours truly. I forgot his name so let’s call  him Rex.

Rex had a scientific, analytical mind. A good sense of humor. An all around swell fellow.  He liked to talk and debate and discuss. Issues. Not the latest American idol.  (Thank god we had no  American idols back then). No,  he liked to discuss politics and history and philosophy.And he was always open to see things in a new way. If you could show him some evidence.

Then, something changed. One day he showed up with his head shaven.  And in robes. He has joined the Unification Church of Sun Myung Moon. He was a “Moonie”. He walked around and collected money from people. Like most churches. And like most churches,  the bulk of the money collected found a route to the top. No trickle down economics in this group.

But Rex was no longer Rex. He could not articulate any views other than the approved teachings of the Great Reverend, the second coming of Christ.He could spout the exact dogmas and doctrines of his church, but could not defend any of them using logic or evidence.  He never even tried. It was not necessary. He had found a coherent system of beliefs and no external evidence that challenged that system was going to be heard. He never argued.  He never explained. He simply told us the truth. And asked for money.

Which brings me to Trump’s Moonies.

They have a leader who can do no wrong. Even though factchecks show him to be wrong 65% of the time, it matters not.  The Trump Moonies have closed ears and closed minds. If he says there was a terror attack in Sweden, it must be true. If he says  his inauguration attendance was the greatest ever, any photographic evidence to the contrary is ignored. If he says that thousands of Muslims in New Jersey were cheering the downfall of the WTC on 9/11. Then it happened.   If he says the borders are porous, even though under President Obama the USA deported more people than ever before, then the borders are porous. The facts are not important. He is correct. That is all a Moonie needs to know.

The Trump Moonies are blind to any evidence or facts that contradict their leader. They do not argue. They do not demonstrate with evidence. They select a false reality. They create an alternate set of “facts”. They are beyond evidence. Facts are a fungible commodity. Facts do not exist as a thing apart. Facts, in fact, do not exist at all. All news is “fake news”.  Any story that does not fit the religion is a lie. Period. The earth IS flat.

That is why it is a fool’s errand to wait for Trump’s Moonies to “come around”. It is inconceivable that they will abandon their religious dogma in the face of facts or evidence. No matter how badly Trump performs or how he lies or makes a mess of the nation, the Moonies will be blind.

Like my friend Rex they simply will not look. They choose willful ignorance and blind obedience. They have a religion which provides for them a clear vision of the world. Blacks are thugs. Immigrants are rapists. Refugees are terrorists. Welfare is wrong. Abortion is murder. Liberals are evil. Taxes are bad. Climate change is an Al Gore plot. The list goes on. It cannot be debated. It cannot even be considered. There is only one true religion, and they have found it in Trumpism. There is only one savior.

So, don’t expect any changes or compromises. Don’t expect anything other than what you have seen. The magnificent delusion of Trumpism. Now, all join hands and repeat after me, five times a day, on your knees facing Trump Towers: There is no  god but Trump, and Bannon is the messenger of Trump.

 

(I have argued in the past that the Tea Party Republicans are not a political entity, but are in fact a fundamentalist religion. A post from 3 years ago: The Most Holy Church of the Republican Party  ).

 

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The Leopard’s Spots

“Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?…”  Jeremiah 13:23

Donald Trump received the votes of 46% of the American people.

Despite his crudeness, vulgarity, arrogance, xenophobic comments and outright lying. So, Donald Trump was approved by millions and millions of mainstream Republicans. The voter that does the lockstep, into the voter booth, pull the lever Republican. There are, undoubtedly, equal numbers of Democratic voters who do the same for any Democratic candidate.

But I have to  think that not all Trump voters are racists and haters . (Even though my essay of November 11 says otherwise.    https://josephurban.wordpress.com/2016/11/11/to-trump-voters/)

I have to think that many Republicans thought that the Donald Trump Show was just a show. A way to attract attention and get votes. A way to win using any tactic available. Like winning a real estate deal. Or cleverly avoiding paying taxes. Or deflating footballs.

And perhaps these folks thought that once Trump was sworn in as POTUS he would take on a different demeanor. He would naturally come to understand the importance of being president. Of acting presidential. Of bringing people together.

He would ignore the petty insults. Stop tweeting his every thought. Ask professionals to assist in the decision making. In short, once he was elected he would become an adult. Not go off the deep end. Not see every word of opposition as an attack to be repelled and all opponents to be smashed.

In short, perhaps they thought the office would impact the man.

But the leopard, we have seen over the first 3 weeks, does not change his spots. Trump is who he always has been and will continue to be. Abrasive. Ignorant. Crude. Combatative. Thin-skinned. A child.

An adolescent mind in a septuagenarian body. A CEO who is used to everyone kowtowing and telling him how wonderful he is. And if no one else does, Mr Trump will tell you himself. He is every bit as incompetent as we thought.

He writes executive orders without going through the process of determining their legality. He gives no thought to the ramifications of his actions.

If a judge disagrees with him he attacks the judge. Just as he attacked an American judge of Hispanic descent as a “Mexican” because he did not rule in Donald’s  favor. Another court says that, perhaps, the Immigration EO is not Constitutional.  He attacks a judge as a “so-called judge”, impugning the judiciary. Attacking the third, equal branch of the government.

He calls a US senator a liar for quoting  Judge Gorsuch and his concerns about Trump’s attacks on the judicial branch.  Despite the fact that the spokesman for Judge  Gorsuch verified  that the senator was correct. And another GOP senator, Sasser, reiterated the Judge’s concerns, further undermining the veracity of Trump.

Trump demeans the military service of Blumenthal and , just yesterday, of John McCain. Again. Mocking them out, one for serving in the military and not going to Vietnam, the other for being a pilot in a war that the US lost. Losers both. Of course, Trump himself COULD have gone to Vietnam but was given 5 deferments.

Trump makes a public statement that crime is at a 47 year high. Not even close. Does not matter. He simply repeats lies because he wants to. The data (from the FBI) shows that the violent crime rate since the time of Reagan has dropped 40% . To paraphrase Donald, that is a “very big deal, big number, lots of numbers”. Does not matter, Mr Trump says crime is at a 47 year high.

Trump makes a speech about the vilest incarceration and extermination of human beings in the 20th century. The Holocaust. He mentions gays and Gypsies and other who were caught up in the “Make Germany Great Again” hysteria of the Third Reich. But he fails to mention Jews. Is he a Holocaust “denier”, anti-Semitic or just stupid?

Of course, at this point, we have become immune. The man lies so regularly and so pointlessly that we can just assume that 1/3 of what he says is false. I expect that Mr Trump thinks that 65% of the time telling the truth is considered a  passing grade.

He uses the powers of the presidency to help his kids and wife hawk their clothes and jewelry. Openly threatening any company or group that “insults” his flock. He is right at home in this role. Huckster,  Bully. Conman.

What is fast becoming clear is what those of us in the majority have been saying all along. The man is unqualified to be president. He is not INTERESTED in doing the hard work of the presidency.

A president must have a grasp on reality. He must be a quick study or at least attempt to study. He must have more than a National Enquirer  (a rag that Trump has quoted as a source ) understanding of the world. He must be open to new ideas and open to science. It is HARD WORK. That is why presidents go grey.

Trump is not going to change. He wanted to WIN an election. He never has shown any inclination to serve the people. Never any curiosity, however minuscule, about the real world. He is a conman who is not going to change now. He doesn’t want to put in the effort. He shies away from anything close to hard work or intellectual activity.

Perhaps that is why Steve Bannon seems to be the one really in charge.

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Trump’s Inaugural Address

Trump’s inaugural address was interesting. While some people believe that it lost something in the translation from the Cyrillic, I can’t say. Like most Americans, my foreign language abilities are pitiful.  Why should I learn a bunch of foreign languages when it is much easier for the other 6 billion folks on Earth to just learn English? But I digress.

While some found Trump’s speech to be hostile I am willing to approach it as Fox Entertainment, er, News would. I say ignore most of it and focus on what you agree with. Or better yet, twist it to express what you want it to express.

For example. From Trump’s speech:

“…At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction, that a nation exists to serve its citizens. Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families, and good jobs for themselves. These are just and reasonable demands of righteous people and a righteous public…”

Trump is taking the liberal position that it is the proper role of the government to serve the citizens! YES. A proper function of government. Serve the people. Chairman Mao could not have said it better.

The government must provide good schools for ALL. No. Not good. GREAT schools. Which means more funding for public schools to help make them great. Innovation.Higher wages to attract the BEST people to the profession. Donald knows that to get the BEST people you need to pay them well. Donald, I agree.

Safe neighborhoods. AMEN. Let’s increase police protection, especially in poor urban areas. Hire more cops. Hire more minority cops who can relate better to our highly segregated cities. Maybe return to police on the beat. Demand that police PROTECT people and not arrest them without  cause. And protect little boys who play with toy guns by not shooting them on sight. (As Trump also stated: This carnage stops right here and right now) Donald, I am with you!

The government must supply good jobs. YES. We have so much that needs to be done. An FDR style public works program is what we need. Build up the economy. Put people to work. Not next year. Not in five years.  But immediately with a massive public works program. I am  with you, Donald! Now, can you get the Congress to go along?

So far, Donald and I see eye to eye on these liberal solutions to the problems caused by 30 years of conservative Congress rule. AMEN.

More from Donald:

“….Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs….”

Finally. A POTUS who understands that low, non-union wages have driven down the middle class and created a class of working poor. He understands that a tax system that gives breaks to millionaires (some haven’t paid taxes in 20 years!)while adding to the tax burden of the working poor is wrong. He will  roll back the Reagan and Bush tax cuts for millionaires and multinational corporations that have robbed America of so much revenue. And transferred the tax burden to the working poor. He will go back to the days when unions were strong and working families could enjoy the good life. He will immediately implement a living wage ! Go, Donald, go! Support the workers! Workers of the World , Unite !

And he will punish companies that buy cheap Chinese steel that undercuts American made steel. Companies like Trump International  Hotel  in Las Vegas. A company that rejected steel from Ohio, Michigan,  Pennsylvania and Wisconsin mills in favor of cheaper Chinese steel. He will  punish the Trump Signature Clothing Collection.  Even though companies like Brooks Brothers use 85% American made clothing, the Trump Collection uses only Chinese fabric. Finally, we have a POTUS who will  stand up for the American worker and buy American made products.  (Sorry,  Walmart…you have to go…)!

One more section of the speech:

“…For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry; subsidized the armies of other countries, while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military. We’ve defended other nations’ borders while refusing to defend our own.

And spent trillions and trillions of dollars overseas while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay. We’ve made other countries rich, while the wealth, strength and confidence of our country has dissipated over the horizon….”

Go, Donald , go!  The US spends trillions and trillions of dollars overseas and almost NOTHING at home. Our military has been starved of resources. Time to turn it around.

For example, in the last year for which data is available the US spent 50 trillion dollars on foreign aid. No. Wait. That is 50 BILLION dollars on foreign aid. OK. So maybe we don’t spend trillions and trillions. Most of it goes to either humanitarian or economic aid.

According to a poll done by the Kaiser Family Foundation, Americans think that foreign aid consumes about 26% of the US budget. Amen. That is what Americans THINK. Except …well…the fact is that foreign aid consumes about 1 % of the total budget. ONE per cent.

So. Maybe foreign aid isn’t really draining the US economy after all. Maybe one percent is not a big drain.  But, Donald is right that we are starving our military. In 2015 military spending in the US was ONLY $600,000,000,000 (That’s $600 billion). That was about 54% of all discretionary spending. (Spending on education was about one-tenth of that.)

MASS STARVATION in the ranks! How can the US stay safe when the rest of the world is outspending us?  Oops. Well. Er. The total US spending on the military equaled the spending of the next 7 highest spending nations…combined….China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, United Kingdom, India, France and Japan. How do we expect our military to survive when we only outspend the next highest spender, China, by a ratio of almost 3:1?

OK. So maybe Donald fibbed a little on the last point. But you can’t expect him to fact check ever inaugural address!

So. Take heart. Donald is going to spend trillions on infrastructure. Return us to union wages. Make safe streets for black people. And he will send all those little black boys and girls   (without toy guns) to the best schools ever.

It’s all there. Just read between the lines.

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