We hear from the right wing media and our mentally ill president that the country must “reopen”. The shutdown of the states must end. Based on that we see hair-brained gun toting “patriots” take to the Michigan capital because their “freedoms” have been taken away. We see protests in other states because people are asked to wear masks or do social distancing. Open up America !!
On my planet, called Earth, there has never been a “shutdown”of America. There has been a “Stay at Home Please” order by New York and other states. Stay at home except for essential travel. But not a complete shutdown. Not even close.
You want to see a “shutdown’? I refer you to the Warsaw Ghetto. Or the London blitz. Or the concentration camps of Pol Pot. Those were shutdowns.
Since early March life has changed drastically. But we have never been deprived of essential services. Only the extras. we have never been completely “shutdown” as some might suggest.
We go to Aldis once every couple weeks and stock up on groceries. We wear our masks and Aldis practices social distancing in their store. We buy 2 weeks worth of food and go on our merry way. No shutdown.
This week I had to have my snow tires taken off and summer tires put on my car, along with an oil change. Made an appointment. Wore my mask, as did MOST, but not all of the dealership personnel. No shutdown.
Next week I am taking another car in for the annual state mandated inspection. No shutdown.
The local grocer is open. As is the liquor store. Garbage pick up continues. No shutdown.
When we are too lazy to cook Luigis pizza and the Main Moon restaurants are open for take outs. No shutdown.
Need a prescription filled or some Pepcid AC? The Naples pharmacy is open. No shutdown.
If the weather ever warms up I can golf. As long as I maintain social distancing. When I golf alone I notice my scores improve. No one to correct memory . No shutdown.
Next month my annual urology appointment with Dr. Joseph is going to be by phone. OK, I admit having a large finger stuck up my ass may be the highlight of my year, but I can do that myself at home. So, nothing missed there. No shutdown.
And even many non-essentials are readily available, delivered efficiently by our Postal Service, which for some reason, the GOP is trying to destroy. No shutdown.
So, what IS shutdown? Nail salons. Tattoo parlors. Seating in restaurants. Bars. Gun shops. Beaches. And parades. No Memorial Day parades. And sporting events. And visiting relatives in nursing homes.
All essential and many non-essential services are and always have been available.
So, why the whining? Because I am supposed to wear a mask to help prevent the spread of Covid-19? Because my “freedom” to sit at the end of the bar and drunkenly philosophize about the liberals trying to take away my freedom has been curtailed? Because I can’t add another AR-15 to my collection of manly toys? Because I need a new “Live Free or Die” tattoo?
Much of our economy, it seems, is based on non-essentials. On extras. Toys.
Feed a three year old and she is happy. Wash her. Take care of her and she will be healthy. But take away her favorite toy and she will whine and cry and blubber.
Welcome to the “shutdown” in America. A few children can’t have their toys. WAAAAHHHH.
It was February. A 25 year old man named Ahmaud Arbery was jogging down the street in Brunswick, Georgia, USA.
He wasn’t bothering anyone. He jogged regularly. Trying to stay in shape. Minding his own business.
The McMichael boys thought he looked suspicious. Gregory McMichael thought the man looked like a burglar. There had been burglaries in the area and this guy might be the guy who was doing it. That is why he was jogging in broad daylight . Where anyone could easily identify him.
Gregory is 64. His son, Travis, is 34. They didn’t call the police. They decided that with their shotgun and hand gun they could solve the problem themselves.
So, they go in their truck and tracked down the suspicious jogger. The truck that displayed the famous “Don’t Tread On Me” flag. True patriots. The jogger who was running on a public street. In the middle of the day. The jogger who just might be a burglar. Might be. You never know.
So the McMichael’s (and maybe an unidentified 3rd person) got in their pickup. And chased down the jogger. They stopped their truck in the middle of the street and waited for him. They confronted him. They pointed a shotgun at him.
He tried to take the shotgun away. Something happened. He was shot. Twice. He died.
Gregory McMichael told the police what happened. The jogger was suspicious. Maybe he was a burglar. We told him to stop and he wouldn’t stop.
Gregory McMichael is a retired police officer. His son, Travis , had a 9 mm pistol stolen on January 1. The gun was left sitting in his truck . He parked it on the street and forgot to lock it. Someone took it. No one knew who. That was the only burglary reported in the area in January or February.
The jogger, a 25 year old former high school football player, was seen jogging. In the middle of the day. On a public street. The McMichael’s decided he may have been the burglar. They decided it was their right to pull weapons on him and stop him. A citizen’s arrest.
No charges were filed against the former police officer or his son. No charges. They had acted reasonably. They had the right to pull weapons on a citizen jogging down the street. The killing of Ahmaud Arbery was justified.
The prosecutor in the case, a family friend who recused himself wrote that the murder was justified. George Barnhill, was ok with the killing. ……“It appears their intent was to stop and hold this criminal suspect until law enforcement arrived. Under Georgia Law, this is perfectly legal,” Barnhill wrote of the McMichaels.
The unarmed jogger who was murdered, it might be noted, was black. And he had been arrested once, as a 19 year old, for possession of a weapon. But the McMichael’s would not have known that. End of story. JWB. Jogging While Black. Add that to DWB (Driving While Black), BMWB (Being Male While Black) and EWB (Existing While Black). All crimes which justify civilian executions.
Not the end of the story. Months after the cold blooded murder of a black man by the son of a white police officer a video surfaced. Three months after the murder. A video even Georgia justice could not ignore.
So, now people in Georgia are demanding justice. A grand jury is finally being impaneled. A new prosecutor has the case. But only after three months. And after the tape of the murder somehow emerged. We shall see. Don’t get your hopes up. Remember Trayvon, the boy who was murdered in Florida? If you are a betting man, don’t bet on justice.
If you are a black man, don’t bet your life. Not in the south. Not if you are black. Stay home. Your life is in danger. Not because of the corona virus, but just because you are black.
When most of a population is immune to an infectious disease, this provides indirect protection—or herd immunity (also called herd protection)—to those who are not immune to the disease.
For example, if 80% of a population is immune to a virus, four out of every five people who encounter someone with the disease won’t get sick (and won’t spread the disease any further). In this way, the spread of infectious diseases is kept under control. Depending how contagious an infection is, usually 70% to 90% of a population needs immunity to achieve herd immunity.” (from the John Hopkins School of Public Health website).
So, being exposed to a virus and surviving tends to give a person immunity from further problems caused by that same virus. And when enough people are immune, they stay immune. The population is no longer affected by the disease. That is the key point. They can be exposed over and over and the disease will have no effect on them.
Now, let’s take that principle and apply it to evidence and facts.
I was struck by the few hundred Michiganders who intimidated the Michigan legislature this week. They were carrying guns and screaming. Some had masks. Most did not. They were mad because the Michigan governor told them to engage in reasonable behavior in the midst of a pandemic.
It was a herd. A herd of ignorance. A herd threatening violence. A herd immune from reason.
We have seen over the past 20 years or so a development of herd immunity in the area of facts and evidence. Fox news and right wing websites, along with help from Russian agents, have spread the idea that evidence and facts are not evidence and facts. Real evidence is “fake news”.
I have relatives who have inoculated themselves from facts and evidence. They watch a steady stream of Fox news, filled with distortion and misinformation. Over time, this steady stream of distortion has made them immune from contracting the “virus” of evidence and facts. It has made them immune from reality.
Like immunity from smallpox or the flu, Fox news has prevented real facts or evidence from taking hold in their bodies. If some real news does seep through it is quickly attacked by anti-bodies. So, we can quantify the evidence that the US government has failed miserably to deal with the Covid-19 crisis, but that evidence is quickly dispelled. Since the facts cannot be refuted, the information is attacked as fake and sent out of the body. The anti-bodies do their job. They destroy reality.
So, according to Fox news, the crisis is the fault of the Democrats, the press, the Chinese, the liberals. And when that does not work, the claim is made that it’s not so bad, etc. While over 1,000,000 Americans are infected with the virus, that fact is attacked and minimized. So what? What is a 1,000,000 compared to the need to keep our economy going. We have 325,000,0000 people, we can afford to lose a few million. Etc.
Looking at the few hundred gun toting imbeciles attacking the Michigan governor, it is clear that they are immune from reality. Herd immunity. In their herd facts and evidence are attacked and destroyed. The inoculation of Fox news and other right wing media has destroyed the capacity of evidence and facts to enter their worldview.
Which is why no amount of facts, evidence or common sense will ever get through to these folks. They are beyond facing reality. They have constructed a safe place in which to live. In their minds. Try as much as you want to use reason or facts. It will do you no good. These people are beyond hope. They will continue to reject evidence and facts from their bodies. They are immune. They have joined the Fox herd and from that herd there is no return.
In January, 2018 Mr Trump complained about the “sh*thole countries” of Africa and the Caribbean. He didn’t like people coming from those countries. And he did not like the way those countries were being run. Furthermore, there was no way Mr Trump was going to help these countries. They are on their own.
Now, no one really identified the characteristics of a sh*thole country. Of course they are all black, but the administration would deny that. Nothing to do with skin color, everything to do with how a country is governed.
So, in that sense what Mr Trump was really talking about was sh*thole governments.
I did some research and discovered some universally agreed on characteristics of a sh*thole country.
First, a sh*thole country has a government not elected by the people. The leaders come to power with support of a minority, usually a violent minority. And once in power they use that power to expand their power. They pack the courts so any actions they take will have a veneer of “legality”. They harass or jail or murder their political enemies. They manipulate the process so it seems democratic but actually seeks to minimize the voices of people.
Second, in a sh*thole country the leadership tends to be family-based. In other words, family members and close personal friends of the leader are placed in power. As a result, the economic interests of a small group of people become the main focus of the national government. Any person of integrity is weeded out and a chorus of sycophants sings in the choir.
Third, in a sh*thole country any crisis or potential crisis is politicized. Any crisis is the fault of the enemy. The enemy could be any opposing political groups. Different ethnic groups. Outside groups. No crisis is ever the responsibility of the ruling family. The ruling family always is able to identify the “other” and then take actions accordingly. Never at fault. And to criticize the ruling family is considered anti-patriotic.
Fourth, in a sh*thole country there are systemic failures in a number of areas. Since the wealth of the nation is controlled for the benefit of the few, it is inevitable that there will be shortages in key areas. For example, many people rely on private charity for food. Many people do not have access to quality health care or insurance. Unions are crushed or criminalized so workers cannot get good wages or benefits. In a sh*thole country working people live hand to mouth, if at all.
Fifth, in a sh*thole country there comes a time when it is laid bare. A real crisis hits. Something the government cannot control by propaganda. Something outside the ruling family’s ability to control. An invasion. A terror attack. A pandemic.
When that happens the people of the sh*thole country are left to their own devices. There is no planning or attempts to help them. The ruling family and friends blame the people themselves. In a sh*thole country the government takes no responsibility for the welfare of the people. Because the ruling family is there only to raid the treasury, not govern for the common good.
So, when Mr Trump says he will not help any sh*thole country he is telling the truth. For once. If you live in a sh*thole country you are on your own. Get used to it.
Evolution of viruses and the susceptibility of the human body to the same has given us lemons. Kind of sour. But, that’s what we are stuck with. So, here are some ideas on how to make lemonade. Things you never had “time” for. Before the virus slowed us all down.
1.Plant a victory garden. If you have the room, plant your vegetables. If you never planted vegetables it is not hard to do. You can find all kinds of information about soil and weather and pests and watering and all that stuff on line. Or. You can throw some seeds in some halfway decent soil and get pretty much the same results. Plants are tough. Notice how those cracks in your sidewalk get quickly filled with green growing things?
If you are lucky enough to have land, dig it up. All you need is a couple inches of topsoil. Potatoes will grown anywhere. I have grown them in straw. Radishes are easy and fast. Nothing like a fresh radish plopped into your salad. Lettuce. Pole beans (got a fence?). Peas. Carrots (need good loamy soil for those) . All easily grown from seed . And seeds last for years, no matter what the packing date says on the package.
If you don’t have a lot of land, hell, dig up some lawn. A nice little victory garden will keep you busy a few hours a week and reap some tasty rewards.
2. Bills. Bills. Bills. How many years have you been promising yourself to organize those bills. Find the folders of old papers and revenue sheets. Pile em on the kitchen table . And sort. Now, what do you really need? Time to throw out the receipt from the microwave you bought in 2009. How many old automobile insurance proofs do you need? Those 1999 bank statements are useless, everything is on line now. Tax returns? Do you really think the IRS is going to audit you for the $33.46 you claimed for your mother-in-law’s soft toilet seat ? What about the IRA and pension statements. A waste of space. Now is the time to sweep out the paperwork. Join the e-age.
3. OK, set aside two days and let’s look into your closet. Begin with the two hole on the underwear rule. Any underwear with more than two holes ( I am not talking about your waist and legs) goes into the bin. Are you somehow emotionally attached to those thread bare heels in half of your socks? Dump ’em. And really, how many sweatshirts can you wear at once? Two is plenty. Now, about those shirts. The flowery ones. It’s not 1973 any longer. And the turtle necks? Send them Moscow Mitch. Well, if you really want to feel bad, try on ALL those pants you’ve been saving. Notice how 90% of them have shrunk in the waist over the past 8 years. I guess they don’t make em like they used to! Oh, you are waiting until you diet kicks in and you can wear them again? Note to self: Buy the Brooklyn Bridge.
4. Collections. Somewhere in the attic or garage or at the bottom of a closet is one of your prized collections. Dust it off. Peruse it. Enjoy it. I have an old coin collection I started in 1959. With one folder for pennies. Over the years I have added nickels, dimes and quarters. Time to catch up with all those years of blank holes to be filled. Maybe you have stamps. Old newspaper clippings. Photographs. Toys. National Geographics. Snails. Stones. Whatever. Time to sit down, handle the merchandise and enjoy it. Who knows, you might be re-inspired to take up the hobby again.
5. Reading. All those unread books on the shelf. Or the half read ones. The classics that you always wanted to read. Ulysses (I got through 20 pages and was so confused I gave up). How about a really great translation of the Iliad or Odyssey (I recommend Fagles, it’s pure poetry). The Federalist Papers. Or maybe some light science fiction. Any MAD magazines collecting dust? Escape fiction. Serious non-fiction. You have been saying you haven’t the time. Well, now’s your chance.
6. Baking. Cooking. All of a sudden I smell fresh bread in the house. And chocolate chip cookies. And new recipes. Spicy Indian food. Chinese stir frys in the wok. Homemade pizza. Rediscover what it was like before you got addicted to convenience foods. Stews. Stroganoffs. Potato pancakes. Never had time before. Now, no rush.
6. Quiet. Just quiet. Meditation if you want to call it that. A little yoga. Make up your own moves. A little chanting. OOOOOMMMMMM…OOOOOMMMMMM. Try not to rile up the dogs. Or the spouse. Just 10 minutes of quiet time. Every day. Just for you. You’ve got the time.
The virus has given us lemons. Make lemonade. Add sugar. Sweeten to taste.
When Bill Clinton was running for president against George Bush 1 the economy was not in great shape. Now Clinton and Bush had divergent ideas about the role of government, voting rights, social issues, etc. But Clinton’s key adviser told him to minimize those issues.
He had one phrase that he reminded Clinton of every day.
“It’s the Economy, Stupid”.
Talk about the economy. The failure of the Reagan-Bush supply side economics. Emphasize the economy. The economy. The economy.
It was good advice. Clinton won and by the end of his second term the US was actually paying DOWN the national debt. That ended, of course, when the Supreme Court told Florida to stop counting votes and installed Bush 2 as POTUS. He went right back to supply side and, well, you know the rest.
Now, we are engaged in a real crisis, not just an economic downturn. In fact, The MIPOTUS (Mentally Ill President of the United States) inherited the best economy since the end of World War 2. The crisis we face is a pandemic, not an economic crash.
Our current person in charge (I cannot force myself to call him a “leader”) has spent the last 3 months concerned about one thing and one thing only. The economy. No, I take that back. He has been concerned with the Stock Market. Period. Which is part of the economy, but hardly the entire economy. He has identified himself as the man behind the Obama boom he inherited. As the man who created a great economy from nothing. A legend in his own mind.
To such an extent that he and his sycophants have all but ignored the pandemic. We can easily go back to his various statements about how it was a hoax or a plot or was being overblown by the “fake news”. As long as the stock market looked good, he was unconcerned.
February . We have it under control. It will disappear. It will be like a miracle.
Now, due to the inaction and hubris of those in charge, we see the economy on the verge of a major shutdown. It is temporary, of course, because it is caused by a medical emergency, not an economic one.
But still, every chance he gets, the man in the bubble talks about how we had the greatest economy on Earth, until this pandemic hit. There will be plenty of time to dissect all the incompetency and corruption that has led us to this point. And there is plenty.
But what needs to be done now (actually 2 months ago) is an honest, open explanation of what the government is actually doing to help the states and cities fight this war. Instead of vague comments about how he is doing a great job, perhaps listing specific, reliable actions he is taking at the national level would help ease some of the fear. Of course, the problem is that the federal government is doing very little. The anti-big government mentality still holds sway. Let the states worry about it, not our problem.
To Mr. Trump and his cadre of ass kissers: It’s not the economy, stupid.
It’s a pandemic. It’s a national emergency. If you cannot handle it perhaps now is the time to announce you will not seek re-election. Then, perhaps, you can sit quietly in Mar-a-Lago and let the experts take over. The “best of your ability” is not good enough. It’s killing people.
In my over 30 years of teaching I worked under a number of superintendents. Some were hands on, others were aloof and undemanding. Some were pretty smart. Some were not so bright. All were political animals.
The superintendents remained superintendents by pleasing the school board. The school board, unfortunately, was elected from the community. Which means many of them had one issue. The plumbing contractor who wanted to keep and expand sports programs. The parent who had her kid in Special Education was determined to see that those programs were expanded. The used car salesman who thought teachers’ salaries were way too high. The nurse who was determined to see better health education in the schools. The stay at home mom who bemoaned the fact that organized prayer had been banished by the courts. And once in awhile an educator someone manged his or her way onto the board.
This conglomeration of non-professionals made it fairly easy for a conman to make his way into a position of power. When an opening occurred he would swoop down with his overblown resume and slick his way into a job. School boards are pretty easy to con.
I am thinking of a conman superintendent I worked under who I shall call Georgy. Georgy had the gift of gab. A master of the bull. An artist with an ability to speak for half an hour and say nothing. He had slimed his way into the job and proceeded to remake the school district into his personal monarchy.
He started by convincing the school board to build him a brand new headquarters overlooking the nearby lake, away from all the school buildings. At great expense. Keep in mind that this school district would fight tooth and nail every year to keep salaries down and cut corners. With about a 30% of students on free or reduced lunch programs. Not exactly a suburban school awash with funds. But you get the picture. Like I said, school boards often are not made up of the brightest bulbs in the pack. They are elected.
At any rate, what Georgy wanted (or needed to justify his existence on the Earth) were low failure rates. No child should fail. No student should fail If a student failed, that meant the teacher had failed. Sounded good to the school board.
So, how do we get students to do better Not to fail?
Lower class sizes so there will be more personal attention? More staff? More support staff? After school remediation programs? Outreach to homes with at risk students? More stringent policies for extracurricular participation? Innovative programs to meet the needs of a diverse population?
Well, those sound good, but they have one problem. They all cost money. And a school district strapped for funds, which just built an administrative castle on the lake, is not one flush with excessive dollars to spend on…well…kids..
So, Georgy’s solution was simple. Q. How do we keep kids from failing? A. Don’t give them failing grades. What could be simpler.
Georgy wanted to put into place a grading system that would not allow a teacher to give a high school student (we aren’t talking about the grade school, tykes here) no report card grade lower than a 60. No matter what the student did, or did not do.
Georgy’s philosophy was that no student should ever be in a position at the end of the school year where their grades were so bad that they could not pass. How does this work? Well, if Johnny did most of his work, tried hard and wasn’t too bright and managed a 65, he could pass. If Billy did half his work, failed most of his tests and missed one day a week he might earn a grade of say, 40. Automatically that grade should be raised to a 60 on the report card. If Maryanne skipped half the days, handed in no work and failed every test she should be awarded a 60 for those 9 weeks of work.
So, in the end, the final evaluation did not look that bad. Any student could “succeed”. On the report card.
Of course, the problem with this, to those trying to teach kids, was apparent. Foremost, without being fairly evaluated, a whole lot of kids would do nothing. And pretty soon they would catch on that doing nothing was really not so bad when it came to evaluations. Of course, the teachers’ prime goals are to help kids actually learn things. Valuable things. To do homework so they can be helped to do better. To have an accurate evaluation so we can help them truly succeed. So, this system reinforced the opposite.
Then, when the report card went home the parent might be confused. It seems like my Maryanne is doing not too bad. I mean, for someone who skips half of her classes. Who never seems to do homework. Who never studies. I have been warning her she will do poorly. Evidently, as a parent I was wrong. She isn’t passing, but she is pretty close. A report card is assumed by the parents to accurately reflect a student’s achievement. So the parents know how their child is doing. With this policy, parents do not really know how their youngster is performing.
As an aside let me talk about Ron Page. Ron Page was the Secretary of Education from 2001-2005 under George W Bush. He got that job mainly based on his success in the Houston school district. When Page took over as superintendent of schools the Houston district was in disarray. Test scores were well below average. Even for Texas. So, just imagine. He privatized some schools, brought in charter schools, instituted a “contract” system modeled on business, gave bonuses to teachers for good test scores. The result was staggering.
The “Houston Miracle ” ensued. Test scores soared. Everyone was happy. The “No Child Left Behind” theories of the Bush administration were based on Page’s success. Everyone was happy. Almost.
There was on assistant principal in one of the Houston schools that could not figure out what was going on. Why were test scores suddenly high? The schools were not doing anything different. The student body had not changed. Attendance rates had not changed. Why the sudden magnificent test scores?
A little investigation resulted in the answer. Under the “leadership” of Superintendent Page vast numbers of students were simply prohibited from taking the tests. Teachers identified those who had little or no chance of doing well and they were opted out of testing. The students who would be failing were simply not counted. The superintendent was happy. The school board was happy. Many teachers were happy (they got bonuses based on test scores). The kids were happy. The only loser in the system was honesty. And in the long run the kids who were being deprived of an education.
Back to my Georgy. Georgy was the master at managing the educational crisis. Not the REAL crisis, but the public relation crisis. Not what was actually happening, but rather how to “message” what was happening. Managing the mess
Of course, under Georgy student achievement did not improve. Under Mr Page in Houston student achievement did not improve. They did not identify the problem as one of education, but one of messaging. The message improved.
Georgy would fit well in today’s White House. We have a real crisis. A health care crisis. It needs to be managed . It is not being managed. The current “leadership” is attempting to manage the message, not the crisis. Manage the talk, don’t walk the walk. No bad news. I am doing a great job. It’s all there in the message. But a virus, like a good education, does not respond to a message. It responds to action.
To manage a crisis you have to recognize the crisis. To the current superintendent of the United States the crisis is not how to manage the virus. The crisis is how to manage the message. I say, just give it a 60.
I remember when we did not have primary elections. At least not very many of them. In the “old days” it was the party leaders who made decisions. They got together in those smoke-filled rooms and selected the candidates.
Of course not all the leaders agreed. There were conflicts and favors asked for and given. There was back-stabbing and lies . The old men of the political parties fought it out behind closed doors, for the most part, and ended up manipulating the political conventions to nominate a ticket. Sometimes there were “floor fights” on the convention floor.
But all the participants were loyal members of the party. And all wanted to win the presidency.
Now, of course, we have multiple primaries. On the surface it sounds more “democratic”. Let the people vote, Let the people decide. Now we see some problems with that system.
Some states, for example, have “open ” primaries. So anyone can vote for either party. This has the effect of allowing Dems to disrupt GOP primaries and vice versa.
Some states allow anyone to change parties at the polling site. Again, that can mess up a primary as folks who are not devoted to a party can have the same voice as the guy who has worked for the party for 30 years. Being a member of the party means less and less.
But the worse part about the primary system is what we saw happening in the GOP in 2016. And in the Democratic primaries this year. While well-meaning, the primary process encourages more radical elements of the party to have a greater say in choosing a candidate. Get people hyped up, give them some nice phrases, appeal to easy solutions to tough problems and the idiots will vote for you. (Yes, most people are idiots).
I prefer the “good old days”. The time when the party leaders, responding to pressure within the party and to common sense, decided who the nominee would be. So, let’s look at some of the candidates who might never have won a primary contest but did get the nomination of the party.
In 1860 the Republican convention was held in Chicago, Illinois. A small group of party leaders, mainly from Illinois, were able to manipulate the convention and push a young , funny looking lawyer to the forefront. They stole the nomination for “Honest” Abe Lincoln. He turned out to be a pretty good president.
Other men who were selected by the party leaders in deals made in “smoke-filled rooms”?
Try these on for size. US Grant. Teddy Roosevelt. FDR. Harry S Truman. IKE. JFK.
Whether liberal or conservative, these guys ended up being pretty good presidents. Without going through a primary election vetting process. Most were selected by the party leaders in each state. As candidates that were real leaders and had a lot of common sense.
Which brings me to Andrew Cuomo.
I have watched Cuomo for many years. He has been vilified by the NRA and pro gun groups. And by conservatives in NY in general. For much of his term he has had to deal with a split legislature. He worked with both sides. He made decisions about educational testing, then when the data showed it was not working, he changed his mind. He has always been a liberal who has been able to get things done. Effective.
This makes we wish for the good old days. Days when the political conventions were not signed, sealed and delivered by primary voters. When the party leaders at the biggest smoke-filled room, the national convention, could choose the candidate they felt was best.
Does anyone doubt that if we did not have a primary system who the Democrat nominee would be? And who the next president would be? Maybe the DNC should throw open the convention and let the delegates for for whomever they want.
The next president of the United States, without a doubt, would be Andrew Cuomo.
Captain Don was steadfast and strong. He was the man in charge. He was the man in control. He was given control of the Titanic and he was doing it his way. The best way.
He inherited a crew of tried and true sailors. He fired them. Then he hired the best crew and the best mates. Well. A whole bunch of them left so he hired some more. They left. So he hired more of the best men.
And off he sailed.
One day his first mate came to him and said. “Captain, my, captain, the best captain in the world. One of our crew has spotted an iceberg. On a collision course with the Titanic”
Captain Don replied. “Fake news. A hoax. There is no iceberg. Stay the course.”
A few hours later, the same mate came to Captain Don. ” Captain, my captain. The captain with the biggest brain in the world. The iceberg is closer now and we still have time to steer the ship to a different course. See, look to the north, you can see it in the distance.”
Captain Don peers to the north. His gaze is steady. His jaw juts out in defiance.
Captain Don speaks. ” That is no iceberg. It is an ice cube. See how tiny it is? How foolish you are. A hoax. Fake news. Such a tiny ice cube can do us no harm. Stay the course.”
A few hours later, the iceberg looms closer and closer.
The first mate. “Captain, my captain. The smartest, bravest captain with the biggest brain. And best brain. The iceberg is going to hit us. We can not get out of the way. What should we do?”
Captain Don. ” Well, why didn’t we see the iceberg sooner? Where was the man in the crow’s nest. He must have been one of Barry’s men. A member of the Deep state. Out to get me.”
First mate. ” Oh captain, my captain. The sexiest, smartest most brilliant captain in the world. Actually it was your budget cuts that eliminated the man in the crow’s nest. The early warning system we used to have. What should we do?”
Captain Don. ” Put everyone in lifeboats. Time to evacuate.”
First mate. “We only have 20 lifeboats for 20,000 people. What shall we do?”
Captain Don. “What? Why so few boats. The former captain Barry refused to buy more boats? It is Barry’s fault. Damn him. Well, put me in a boat and find my friends. Get them in boats.”
First mate. “Captain my captain. The truth is that Captain Barry left you with plenty of boats. Actually it was you who sold the lifeboats, cheap, to your friends in the boating industry. We had enough lifeboats. No longer.”
Captain Don. ” Lies. All lies. Fake news. Fake iceberg. I take no responsibility. Not my fault. Not my fault. Where is my lifeboat? I’m out of here. You’re in charge”
It looks like the next election will be a choice among 3 old white guys. But 3 old white guys with significantly different views of the role of government in our lives. WHAT? You mean all old white guys are not the same? Who knew.
This race got me thinking. Always a problem. Thinking about roller coasters.
Roller coasters have always made me sick. Literally. I haven’t been riding on one in probably 30 years. They make me nauseous. Some people like them. Thrilling. Up and down. And up. And down. And up. Not for me. Give me Mr Toad’s wild ride in the teacup.
We have been on a roller coaster for 4 years. Many people wanted the roller coaster. They wanted to shake us up. Make some of us sick. Excite us. So we have seen what 4 years of riding a roller coaster brings.
Now, some folks still like the roller coaster. Four years are not enough. They want four more years of the up and down. They want to ride it forever. The swirls and twirls and thrills as the scenery screams by. And the folks on the roller coaster are also screaming. Some with joy. Others in horror.It’s a blast!
Why did I get on this thing? What was I thinking? Let me off!
So, now we have three choices.
We can stay on the roller coaster for 4 more years. Up and down. Vomiting. Thrilled to death. Wheeeee!
There are some folks want to get off one ride and jump right on another one. We can get off the roller coaster and look around. Hey , look at that. It’s a Tilt-a-Whirl. Not as bad as the roller coaster. Tilting up and down and round and round. Tilting. Looks like fun. OK, maybe it’s still a bit unsettling, but at least it’s not the roller coaster. I will probably be okay.
Then there are folks like me. Still staggering from the roller coaster. Waiting for my stomach to settle down. Looking for a bench. A nice bench by the pond. Stop and sit. Have a hamburger. Sip a Coca-Cola. Relax.
We have a choice. Ride the roller coaster for 4 more years? Try out the Tilt-a-Whirl for 4 years and see how that settles the stomach? Or take a long rest? Take a break. Take a breath.
As for me, I don’t need any more amusement park rides. I am not amused.
Again I watched and listened to the Democratic debate. Well, hardly a debate. A few years ago I read the transcripts of the Lincoln-Douglass debates. The format was this.
Lincoln spoke for an hour. Douglass spoke for an hour and a half. Lincoln spoke for half an hour. Each side was given 90 minutes to talk. Explain. Extrapolate.
No moderators. That was a debate.
Last night I watched something that was called a debate, but was actually one of a series of made for TV soundbite shows. OK. OK. With 6 candidates you can’t have a real debate, but that does not necessitate the ridiculous system now controlled by networks and moderators.
The discussion , which should elicit in depth, comprehensive explanations of views and policies, instead only encouraged “gotcha ” questions and hostile statements. I ask: What did anyone LEARN about the positions of the candidates? Not much, if anything.
Before I honor you with my solutions, let us re-enact the discussion.
Start Moderator # 1 (because, to be honest, the discussion is more about the “cleverness” of the moderators than the substance of the candidates): Mayor Bloomberg. You run a 60 billion dollar empire and have been around since Jesus walked the Earth. We now have 3 anonymous women who say you told a dirty joke in 1986. Since we now know you are a misogynistic, racist pig who rapes little girls, why are you even on the stage, and not in prison? You have 75 seconds to respond.
Star Moderator # 2: Senator Sanders. You are a communist through and through. You want to give everyone a communist health care plan that will destroy the very fabric of American society. You also had at least one heart attack. So, do you really think America is ready to elect a sickly, disgusting Mao-loving communist who will take away all their rights? You have 75 seconds to discuss all your plans and explain why you love Stalin.
Star Moderator # 3: Vice President Biden. You suck. We all know you are too old and you suck. And what about your son? You are trying to ride Obama’s coattails. Because you are old, a crook and suck, why should people vote for you? Hell, why am I even talking to you, you loser. You have 75 seconds to explain all of your work as vice president.
Star Moderator # 4: Senator Klobuchar. When you were a prosecutor in Minnesota you put black people in prison for crimes. Also, you cannot name the youngest daughter of the Vice President of Guatemala. In view of this history of racism and anti-Latino sentiment, please answer the following. Why are you a racist and why do you hate Latinos and why should any person of color even consider voting for such an obvious hater? Please limit your response to 75 seconds, you racist bitch.
Star Moderator # 5: Senator Warren. You are behind in the polls. You want to do better. You have these very hard to understand plans that no one cares about because they aren’t going to happen. You have been very unladylike today . Do you think being a strident , screeching female who thinks she is so smart will make men turn off to your campaign. I mean, what man wants to hear you talk like you know more than they do? Have you always turned off men or is this a new phenomenon? You have only 60 seconds because you talk too much.
Star Moderator # 6: Mayor Pete. You little cutie pie. Are you insane? You are gay. You are young. You are a smarty pants. You were in the military but no one cares about that. What the hell makes you think you have any right to run for president? I don’t care what your views are. Bottom line. Other than your “husband” and others in “that community” do you really think anyone else is ever going to vote for you? Please answer in 75 seconds and don’t play the lame “military” and “gay” cards.
As the discussion comes to a close the 6 moderators all congratulate each other on their insightful questioning.
Questions not asked by the insightful moderators. Questions which might have elicited intelligent , thoughtful responses.
Explain your health care plan, what it would cost and how you would pay for it.
Mr Trump has turned the Constitution upside down. Explain two ways you would bring us back to be a nation with respect for the law.
Immigration reform has been talked about for years. What is your plan for protecting the border, dealing with the Dreamers and developing a comprehensive plan for legal immigration?
To what extent should we be involved, with troops on the ground, in the Middle East? Explain.
Of course, questions like this cannot be answered in 75 seconds.
So, my suggestions.
1.Give each candidate 4-5 minutes to answer any question, uninterrupted.
2.Ask the exact same question to every candidate.
3. Do not allow candidates to ask each other questions except in the context of their own allotted time.
4. Make sure each candidate gets the same amount of time as the others.
Now these rules would mean that the moderators would no longer be the stars of the show. They would have to bury their egos. Actually, you would need only one moderator who could just ask the questions and keep time.
This would change the entire feel of the discussion. It would have depth. It would be BORING. Nothing but facts, ideas, plans and explanations. So people who wanted more information about these candidates could get that information.
I coached baseball, basketball , softball and soccer for many years. Mostly at the high school level. Every sport has a rule book. Very precise rules. Except soccer, which has more flexible “laws”. At any rate, the rules are written and you play by the rules.
That is what I tried to impress on my players. Know the rules. Play by the rules. If you break the rules, take the penalty. That is just sports.
But I also emphasized to them that there are actually two sets of rules. There are the rule book rules and then there are the actual rules. The second set of rules is more important. That set of rules changes for every contest. That second set of rules depends on the umpire or referee. The men and women who are interpreting the rules. Making decisions. Making the calls.
A good player will try to figure out how the ref is calling the game. If the umpire is calling low pitches “strikes” and high pitches “balls”, then your pitcher should keep it low. If the soccer ref is allowing a few elbows to fly now and then and some pushing, well, loosen up those elbows. If the basketball ref is calling every ticky-tack foul, stop ticky-tacking. In other words, play the rules, but also play the ref.
I recall umpiring a middle school baseball game between two competing schools. Now, middle school pitchers can often not be too accurate. And middle school age coaches want their players to hit the ball and play the game, not sit around and wait for walks. So, before the game I told both coaches that today was going to be a big strike zone. If the ball was near the plate its going to be a strike. Better be swinging the bat. They both concurred. Both were happy. As long as the rules were evenly enforced.
Which brings me to Mike Bloomberg.
Many Democrats are angry and frustrated that this billionaire has been spending like a drunken sailor on leave . (No offense, Dan). He is a real self-made billionaire (unlike the IMPOTUS) and has plenty to spend. Some say he is worth $60 billion. The 14th richest man in the world.
Some candidates are suggesting he is trying to buy the Democratic nomination . (DUH). They say he has an unfair advantage (DUH. DUH). They say they don’t want a billionaire stealing the nomination. Can’t say that I blame them. After all, they have been working for years to get this job and he just plunks down a pile of cash and he is in the race.
Well, we will know more about Bloomberg once he gets on stage and has to answer some questions. Another rich guy, Tom Steyer, got on the stage and, in my opinion, stunk it up. He showed that having money does not translate into being astute or knowledgeable. We will see how Bloomberg does.
But no matter how he does, the Dems had better understand the rules of the game. Not as they WANT the rules to be, but what the real rules are. And in the US elections money talks. And big money talks big. Money is part of the rules.
No matter what “laws” exist concerning campaign funding, the bottom line is that the Federal Election commission has virtually no enforcement ability. Imagine a football ref who could call a foul but could not enforce a penalty. That is the system under which we live.
Also, Citizens United has made the case that money equals speech. Logically, the more money you have, the more speech you have. So Bloomberg has the biggest mouth in America. Trump is the biggest gasbag, for sure. But Trump’s “wealth” is dwarfed by Mike’s. Minor league.
Back to the rules. The GOP has made it clear that they want no rules. Russian interference? No problem. Ukraine extortion? OK with them. Unregulated cash from (fill in the blanks) is okey-dokey. Those are the REAL rules.
The Trump campaign will flood the TV and internet and Facebook and Twitter with misinformation. Lies. Vulgarity. Coded messages (or not coded) supporting racism, misogyny and xenophobia. The Trump hate machine will be in full force. The gloves are off.
So, the Dems better bring some brass knuckles to the fight. Bloomberg can flood the media, as he has been doing. He has the money and personality to play by the real rules. Nothing to be scared of. He’s a wealthy billionaire plutocrat, but he’s OUR plutocrat. Embrace him. Welcome him. We need him.
We may not like these rules. We may not want these rules. But we better play by these rules. The real rules. Otherwise it will be four or MORE years of attacks on the separation of powers. If we don’t win this election it may very well be the LAST election. If that’s the case we may see the end of democracy. No matter what the written rules say.
So, don’t be afraid of Bloomberg. For too long the Dems have been playing it by the book. Time to throw the book out the window and play to win. Play by the rules.
No, not the whistle blower who saw the illegal actions of Trump and reported them to the proper authorities. Not yet, anyway. This whistle blower was Chinese doctor from Wuhan province. He is dead from the highly contagious deadly virus we call coronavirus.
Dr. Li Wenliang was only 34 years old. When he discovered the fact that his patient had an unknown virus and was spreading it, he took action. He thought it might be SARS. It was too late for him, since he had no way of knowing how virulent the virus was before he treated his patients.
As soon as he understood the possible repercussions of the virus he immediately informed his colleagues on a web site. On December 31 he put out the warning. This was bad. This was transmitted human to human. This was highly contagious and deadly. Take precautions . Get on top of this. He blew the whistle on the virus.
The Chinese government did not like it. Bad PR. Might lead to panic. So, Dr . Li Wenlaing was arrested. YES. Arrested for blowing the whistle. Then he was silenced.
Then he was forced to plead guilty. To spreading rumors. From an interview he did a few days before his death.
How did you feel when the police accused you of spreading rumors?
The police believed this virus was not confirmed to be SARS. They believed I was spreading rumors. They asked me to acknowledge that I was at fault.
I felt I was being wronged, but I had to accept it. Obviously I had been acting out of good will. I felt very sad seeing so many people losing their loved ones.
How long will it take you to recover? What do you plan to do afterward?
I started coughing on Jan. 10. It will take me another 15 days or so to recover. I will join medical workers in fighting the epidemic. That’s where my responsibilities lie.
But the good doctor did not survive. At 34, he is dead, leaving behind a wife, a 4 year old and an unborn child. According to Dr Li Wenliang if the government had disclosed the possible problems with the virus earlier, it may have limited the spread.
So, the whistle blower is dead. He was guilty, under Chinese law, of spreading rumors. He was silenced.
We don’t silence whistle blowers in the US. They are protected. We want them to come forth with information the public needs. Or information about government wrongdoing.
Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has a different idea, however. He follows the Chinese model. He plans to call the whistle blower and make him pay for blowing the whistle on Trump’s illegal activities.
“During an interview with Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo over the weekend, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham vowed to compel testimony from the whistleblower in order to get to the bottom of what led to impeachment against President Trump. He also reiterated his plans to investigate the Bidens for their involvement with Burisma, the most corrupt company in Ukraine. ….
“”The day of reckoning is coming for congressional and Senate oversight of Joe Biden and the FISA warrant process,” Graham said.
A day of reckoning. For all whistle blowers. President Trump agrees. And president Xi of China concurs.
As the three people who read my blog know, I am pretty good at predicting things. I predicted that Jeb Bush would win the presidency in 2016, that Medicare for all would be enacted and that all Republican gun owners would turn in their weapons as a show of support for children murdered every day in America. OK, so maybe no so good. HOWEVER, here is part of my end of the year prediction from December , 2017, when the GOP controlled both houses…
“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.”
I was watching the pundits on Morning Joe this morning talking about the demise of the Democratic Party because of the APP problems in counting the Iowa Democratic caucus votes. Their main theme was the incompetency of the Democratic Party. And by extension any Democratic administration. Okey Dokey.
This was similar to another Democratic government run debacle with the roll out of the Affordable Care Act. We all remember how Obama and the Dems screwed that up. Big government at its worse. Except.
Except both the ACA roll out and the Iowa caucus problems were not caused by “big government” at all. Both were major technical problems made by private contractors, not the government. In a nation where the prevailing narrative remains that business is more efficient than government, we see the opposite. It is the private contractors that screw things up. Regularly.
Now, let’s look at really BIG government, the Social Security administration and Veterans administration. These are the government folks who send out your Social Security and Veterans benefit checks. And have been doing so for decades. Ever miss a payment? Ever have a check bounce. Ever have a failure to deliver? I rest my case.
But, back to the pundits who are already predicting the end of the Democratic Party. It is February 4, 2020. Between now and Election day there will be at least 10 new things that will once again give the pundits something new to predict. And they will be just as certain of themselves and just as wrong as they always are. As a self-made pundit, here are my 10 new things.
1. One of the Democratic candidates will be physically assaulted, by weapon or by fist. And she will punch back.
2. A major US corporation will file for bankruptcy. And be given tax dollars as compensation.
3. Kim Jung Un will announce that he has a nuclear weapon and the ability to reach the US with it. Also announces a contract for new Trump Tower in Pyongyang.
4. Donald Trump, Jr will announce the best trade deal ever with China, and the details will be forthcoming. The details never come forth.
5. A number of global warming catastrophes around the globe will prompt the UN to hold a global warming summit, which the US will refuse to support.
6. The GNP will continue to hover around 2.3% but no one knows what that means. Although 76% of the population is certain it has something to do with the Super Bowl.
7. Photos will emerge of Mike Pence leaving a room with a woman. She looks scared. So does he.
8. Israel will announce that they accept the Kushner peace plan which allows Palestinians to look at their former homes on the West Bank during Ramadan. For 2 minutes.
9. Mike Bloomberg will buy North Dakota, Mississippi and Arkansas, giving him enough votes to win the election. He complains that he has used up all his pocket change for the week.
10. Vlad Putin will make a surprise appearance at the Republican convention and will graciously accept the nomination for president by acclimation of the party. Why not eliminate the middle man? Vlad will then appoint Ivanka Trump as his running mate.
So, those are my predictions. And after each event the pundits will all-knowingly tell us what it means. Again.
I know what you are thinking. Most of these are WAY OUT THERE and probably not going to happen. But number 10 is just obvious.
In 2017 he was accused, and later convicted, of shoplifting. The prosecution claims he had hidden some dog toys … yes, DOG TOYS … in his girlfriend’s purse. Then they left the store without paying.
Well, they did have SOME evidence against him, to be sure. They never actually found the toys in his girlfriend’s purse. BUT. They had a video of him going to the car and bringing his girlfriend’s purse into the store. They had some empty dog toy shelves. Stuff like that.
To be clear, they didn’t catch him in the act. It was only a day later when some store employers noticed some empty packaging in the dog toy department that they investigated. Sure enough, the Sherlock-type sleuths discovered that his girlfriend had absconded with $ 186 worth of dog toys!
Some of you who do not own pets may wonder how anyone could stuff $186 worth of dog toys into a purse unnoticed. I mean, that sounds like a lot of Fido fun. Loads of doggy diversions. Now, those of you WITH pets might have a different view. I mean, where can you get a purse load of dog toys for ONLY $186? Must have been in the discount bin. Give me the address of that store. But I digress.
So, despite his pleas of innocence (his girlfriend took complete responsibility, the sweet thing) he was convicted and sentenced. To 2 to 23 months in jail. For pilfering dog toys. Well, I said he was convicted of shoplifting, but not exactly. Since he, himself, never stole any dog toys he was actually convicted of “conspiracy to commit retail theft”. YIKES. That’s sounds a lot worse than shoplifting. A conspiracy.
So poor Benjamin was convicted. But that was then. This is now.
After watching hours and hours of the impeachment trial of Donald Trump from his prison cell, Benjamin had second thoughts. The first thought was this. Being forced to watch hours and hours of the impeachment trial may be grounds for release on a “cruel and unusual punishment” claim.
Second, he wanted a new trial with Lamar Alexander as foreman of the jury.
You see, Lamar Alexander has stated, in writing, publicly that “yes”, the House managers did present a convincing case. In fact, according to Lamar, he is convinced that president Trump DID solicit (extort) the Ukrainian government to try to force them to present an announcement of an investigation into the Bidens. He had seen enough, but it was not enough to convict.
So Senator Alexander does not need any more proof. Trump is a criminal. The facts are clear. Undisputed. But, since Trump is a criminal Lamar has decided NOT to vote to remove him from office. Or to seek any more evidence which might even further prove the case already proven by the House managers. Because, after all, if we convicted criminals what would be next? Slippery slope.
Lamar’s statement: “…There is no need for more evidence to prove that the president asked Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter; he said this on television on October 3, 2019, and during his July 25, 2019, telephone call with the president of Ukraine. There is no need for more evidence to conclude that the president withheld United States aid, at least in part, to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens; the House managers have proved this with what they call a ‘mountain of overwhelming evidence.’ There is no need to consider further the frivolous second article of impeachment that would remove the president for asserting his constitutional prerogative to protect confidential conversations with his close advisers.
“It was inappropriate for the president to ask a foreign leader to investigate his political opponent and to withhold United States aid to encourage that investigation. When elected officials inappropriately interfere with such investigations, it undermines the principle of equal justice under the law. But the Constitution does not give the Senate the power to remove the president from office and ban him from this year’s ballot simply for actions that are inappropriate….”
When Benjamin saw this he leaped for joy. That is exactly the point he was trying to make. Just because he was found to have committed a crime does not mean he should be found GUILTY of committing a crime. Just because he was involved in a conspiracy, and that was proven by the prosecution, does not justify a GUILTY verdict. It was not really a crime, it was just “inappropriate” for him to conspire to shoplift. And, if we are to uphold what Senator Alexander calls “the principle of equal justice under the law” shouldn’t Benjamin go free?
Benjamin wants Senator Alexander on his jury. And Dershowitz as his lawyer. Mr Forsythe is hoping to call Donald Trump, Jr as his character witness. If he can afford the fee.
There is a new sheriff in town. His name is Lamar. His concept of the law: Some crimes are just not punishable. It all depends on who commits them.
The impeachment trial of Donald Trump started last week. The House managers presented a very thorough case. Now it is the time for the defenders of the president to speak. Fair enough.
So, what should they say? Well, let’s look at what the House has presented and see how they can respond.
The House case focuses first on the withholding of aid to Ukraine and the withholding of a meeting in the Oval Office with the president of the Ukraine. Both are important to the Ukraine for what should be obvious reasons. Ukraine is partially occupied and is at war with Putin’s Russia. Not to belabor the point but again. Ukraine is partially occupied and at war with Putin’s Russia.
So, the Ukraine desperately needs military help. Which the Congress and the president have given them.They also just as desperately need Putin to understand that the US stands with Ukraine against his illegal occupation and aggression. So, both the military and political aid are essential.
It is a fact that the Department of Defense was ready to start to distribute the military aid to Ukraine on June 18, 2019. From the DOD website:
The DOD does not release any military aid unless a thorough review has been done to make sure the country is meeting the requirements for fighting corruption, insuring human rights, etc.
So, for the president’s Defense Team. The first point they need to address is why the military aid was withheld. What information came to light between June 18 and the hold on the aid? There may be legitimate reasons for withholding aid, if so, what were they? And why was the very process for withholding aid taken out of the usual channels and handed over to a political appointee, rather than a career official?
Along the same lines, the defense may argue that the president can unilaterally withhold aid for any reason. In fact, the aid was held up 9 different times, with no explanation. However, the Government Accounting Office relayed a decision that what Trump did was break the law. A law that requires him to notify Congress with reasons for any hold up in aid:
“In the summer of 2019, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) withheld from obligation funds appropriated to the Department of Defense (DOD) for security assistance to Ukraine. In order to withhold the funds, OMB issued a series of nine apportionment schedules with footnotes that made all unobligated balances unavailable for obligation. Faithful execution of the law does not permit the President to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law. OMB withheld funds for a policy reason, which is not permitted under the Impoundment Control Act (ICA). The withholding was not a programmatic delay. Therefore, we conclude that OMB violated the ICA….”
So, the president or his staff broke the law. Period. His defense team needs to explain that and justify the hold on military aid. Why did the president think it was essential to break the law? Perhaps he had good reason.Legal reasons. What were they? And why was Congress never notified?
Furthermore, since aid was eventually released they need to answer another question. What happened to make the president change his mind and lift the hold? What new evidence emerged? Did he discover it was illegal or was there a change in Ukraine? What specific reason was there for all of a sudden releasing most of the aid?
The second charge on impeachment brought by the House managers was the obstruction of Congress. Now, it is pretty obvious that Congress was obstructed since the president refused to provide and documents or witnesses to help in the investigation. The question is, was that obstruction legal?
On Saturday the president’s team argued that the entire impeachment proceeding was illegal. So, since the proceeding was illegal they had no requirement to cooperate. Of course, this argument does have a major hole.
The position presupposes that the executive branch alone can decide for the House of Representatives what it can and cannot investigate. In other words, although the Constitution gives the sole power of impeachment to the House, the executive branch can overrule that power. The position falls flat on two levels. First, it disregards the specific language of the Constitution.
Article 1, Section 2: The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.
Of course it makes no sense legally or logically for the object of an impeachment or investigation to have the power to end an impeachment or investigation.
Along the same lines the president’s defense claimed that the House violated their own rules, so therefore the very impeachment itself is illegal. Yet, here we are. The Senate, controlled by Mitch McConnell, recognized the legality of impeachment. The Supreme Court, along with Chief Justice Roberts, recognizes the legality of the impeachment. We are having a trial precisely because the House acted legally. So, once again we have the president, alone, making claims that no other branch of government agrees with.
Now, it is legal for the president to, in certain circumstances, invoke “executive privilege”. However, invoking that privilege means the president has to make a case, before a court, that the documents or testimony being withheld is being done for legitimate national security concerns. So far, Mr Trump has made no such claim.
His lawyers, however, have taken the position that he can claim executive privilege without making a formal claim of executive privilege. In their words, he can hide anything he wants for any reason he wants. In other words, the chief executive is supreme and cannot be investigated or impeached. Trump has taken this position publicly:
“…Trump was giving a speech at a Turning Point USA conference, where he predictably veered off into a tirade about special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and how, as president, Trump could’ve stopped it.
“I have an Article 2 where I have the right to do whatever I want as president,” Trump said. “But I don’t even talk about that because they did a report and there was no obstruction.”…”
“…During a pre-taped one-on-one interview with ABC News reporter George Stephanopoulos, Trump argued that “a lot of great lawyers” agree that Article 2 of the Constitution means that the President can’t obstruct justice.
“So a president can’t obstruct justice?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“A president can run the country,” Trump responded. “And that’s what happened, George. I run the country and I run it well.”
“When the President does it, it’s not illegal?” Stephanopoulos asked….”
“I’m just saying a president under Article 2–it’s very strong, read it,” Trump said. “Do you have Article 2? Read it.”
(To be clear, executive privilege is not mentioned in the Constitution)
So, the president’s defense team will have to find a justification that he has refused to cooperate with Congress. While they may rightly point to very specific instances where other president’s have attempted (successfully or unsuccessfully) to invoke “executive privilege”, they will have to justify an unbridled power of the president to hide all his actions and documents.
Now, will the defense team address these issues raised by the House managers? Will they respond to the facts and evidence in the charges? Will they talk about how the Democrats have hated Trump from day one? Will they talk about Adam Schiff? Will they talk about the Mueller Report being a hoax? Will they claim the entire procedure is a “witch hunt”? Or will they talk about how corrupt the Biden’s are? Benghazi Redux?
In other words, will they address the points the Hose manager have made, or will they deflect ? Isn’t the answer obvious?
Today I will watch 2 NFL championship games. I don’t care who wins. The Bears are long gone. And the team I love to hate, New England, is also long gone. (Hurray) So, I will watch just to be entertained. As it should be. Football is, after all, just entertainment. Right?
I can’t predict the winners of the contests but I can predict one thing. In each game, one of the teams will get screwed. There will be a play, maybe two, in which a ref’s decision will be overturned by video review. Video review. I hate it. Nothing has done more to take the entertainment out of sports than video review.
Let me explain. In theory (THEORY) video review is supposed to right egregious wrongs. To take the missed calls by the officials out of the mixture. To make sure that the game is fair to all. That is the theory. And sometimes it does just that. But just as often it is simply a waste of time. Well, maybe it does allow more time for commercial breaks, so there is that.
I am not against a fair game. Nor am I against overturning an obviously awful call. But therein lies the rub. Initially, in football, video review was intended to overturn calls when there was a “clear and obvious error”. Clear and obvious.
Now to me clear and obvious means, well, clear and obvious. But the video technology has gotten out of hand. Frame by frame replays. Can you see a blade of grass under the ball? Was he bobbling the ball after his butt hit the turf? Did his elbow hit the ground a millisecond before the ball broke the plane of the goal line? Where do we place the ball ? (I especially like this one, after a bunch of refs throw the ball around and one of them sets it on the turf roughly where he thinks it ought to go. Then they bring out the chains. Oops. Missed a first down by half a link!)
Anyone who watches football knows that IF they wanted to the refs could call holding on every single play. Not to mention unnecessary roughness! But if a possible penalty is questionable or does not influence the play they let it go. Common sense. And they will make mistakes. That is part of the game. So, back to video review.
My rule change. Video review should only be used on placement of the ball. Did he step out of bounds? OK. Did the ball break the plane of the goal line? OK. Otherwise, dump it. It slows down the game. Often it interferes with the flow of the game. One team has momentum, then, we have a 5 minute break while some guy in a studio decides if a bobble is a bobble or a fumble is a fumble. We used to call those “tough breaks” and they usually evened out .
OK, if you MUST have your FAKE precision of video review in football, do it this way. If a call is made on the field that has been challenged, here is the process. The ref goes into his little booth and has 30 seconds to review the play. Within 30 seconds ANYONE should be able to tell if a “clear and obvious” error was made. If it is not OBVIOUS….duh…it should stand.
OK. Now that I have solved football, lets look at my favorite sport, soccer. A few years ago soccer implemented goal line technology. The idea was simple. Because the ref and linesman are not is a position to clearly see if a ball has crossed the plane of a goal line, let the technology decide. So, we have VAR (Video Assisted Referee). That technology is very good and the implementation makes sense.
So, of course, the technophiles had to go further (or did they go farther? anyway, they went too far). So now the technology is used to overturn any CLEAR and OBVIOUS errors on offsides calls. And possible handballs. And other stuff. So, the offsides rule. For anyone who is ignorant of the rules of soccer (in other words, an American) let me explain. If a player is RECEIVING a pass from another player on his team, there must be at least TWO opponents between him and the goal WHEN the pass is made. Not when he receives the pass, but when it is first kicked to him. Since the goal keeper is almost always between every player and the goal, that really means there must be ONE field player between him and the goal. Clear enough? I thought so.
Now, this is difficult for a linesman to call because he or she must keep one eye on the last defender and one eye on when the pass is made. So mistakes are sometimes made. PART OF THE GAME. Now, however, we have VAR.
So, if there is any question about an offsides call we stop the game. The VAR official (not on the field) will use precise stop action video. Now, was the player level, which is OK, or was he behind the last defender. But “behind” can mean he has part of his head just a teeny bit behind. Or he had a knee extended an inch behind. So, we stop the game and spend a few minutes checking. Lines are drawn on the screen. AHA!. His left elbow WAS just a teeny bit behind the last defender when the ball was played. But when was the ball “played” really? When it leaves the foot? When it starts the motion of the pass connected to the foot? Who knows.
My solution. If there is any doubt about a goal or an offside (forget about handball, don’t even include it) the VAR official has 30 seconds to make a decision No decision means the call stands. Clear and obvious.
Ok. Basketball. Pro basketball. I have to say I stopped watching pro basketball years ago. See one game, you’ve seen them all. We have teams of men whose body size and type are well out of the range of anything approximating “normal” for a human being. And two things happen. Someone who can jump 23 feet in the air dunks a ball and then acts like he cured cancer. Or a small guy (only 6’7″) shoots a three pointer because he can’t possibly get closer to the basket without being mauled. But I digress.
I have tried officiating basketball. It has to be the hardest sport to officiate, especially at the pro level. So I empathize. What really grinds my turtles is the clock watching. A typical game is about 2 hours long for the first 46 minutes, then another half of an hour for the last 2 minutes. Time out. Stop the clock. Check the clock. Is there .5 seconds left on the clock? Or .2 seconds? False precision.
It takes a human being an average of .25 seconds to respond to visual stimuli. So, if I am timing the game and I see the inbounds pass tipped, by the time I start the clock .25 seconds has already gone by. FALSE PRECISION. Oh, but wait, you say. NBA has precision timing whereby the ref can use his whistle to start the clock. Of course, the problem is the same. The ref still will have a lag of .25 seconds before he blows his whistle. False precision.
Which brings me to baseball, professional level. There is no sport that could be hurt less than baseball when it comes to slowing the game down. What’s a couple more hours at the ball park. Unlike football or basketball which demand some attention, or soccer which demands complete attention (hey, I just figured out why soccer is so unpopular in the USA), baseball demands non-attention. Talk with your friends. Grab a hot dog. Relax. Don’t worry. Be happy. A nice way to spend an afternoon.
But now the insidious replay has invaded baseball as well. So be it. Let em replay, just pass the mustard.
However, there is one thing I fear for baseball. The strike zone. On TV we see the strike zone, as decided by whomever decides these things on TV. A little box going roughly from a players armpits to his knees. Or thereabouts. So we can see every bad call made by an umpire. And there are plenty. It’s called “tough break”. But in reality each umpire has his own strike zone. Some give low strikes, some high strikes, some inside, some outside. Which is fine. The players all know how the ump calls strikes and balls and they adjust accordingly. Which is how it should be. But someday……
In all sports. The false precision of technology is taking a lot of the “entertainment” out of “entertainment”. As I used to tell the kids I coached in soccer, baseball, basketball and softball. “Don’t let me hear you criticize an official. They will make mistakes. Its part of the game. When you play a perfect game then you can criticize”.
I know. I know. Once you introduce technology into any arena it does not go away. And for some reason people pay homage to technology over human decision making (forgetting that technology is created by human decision making). So, I have no illusions that video review and VAR and Strike Zone Purity (it’s coming) will only get more and more intrusive in the future.
Back in the 1990s we thought we had the Clintons. The most crookedest people ever. The Whitewater scandal. So we hired Ken Starr, gave him unlimited funds and subpoena power and set him loose.
We knew the Clintons were dirty and crooked. That Whitewater project was obviously going to bring them down. But even Starr , after spending over $40,000,000 could not find any financial crimes he could pin on the Clintons. Darned Clintons.
But the good news was he was able to get Bill to lie about a blow job. GOTCHA!!! OK. So, who wouldn’t lie about a sexual affair? Well, the Republican Speaker-designate of the House of Representatives, Bob Livingston, decided to resign. You see, he was having an affair himself. Oops.
But that old Bill Clinton refused to resign, so he was impeached. And acquitted. Oh , well. Still $40,000,000 well spent. After all, it tarnished the Clintons.
Then we found out that Hillary Clinton murdered Vince Foster. Couldn’t prove it. But we know she did it. How else can you explain that someone she knew has died? But the darned government refused to prosecute her. She got away with it. This was before the Whitewater whitewash.
Another special prosecutor was empowered. He would get to the bottom of Hillary’s murder of Foster. But, once again, it was not to be. After using 5 doctors, a number of FBI agents and 125 witnesses the special prosecutor concluded that Foster committed suicide. Damned Hillary escaped again.
But we weren’t done . We could still get her. There was child sex ring she was running about of the DC pizza joint. Somehow she cleverly covered her tracks on that one and we could never find the kids. Even after one of our guys shot up the place. Never found the sex ring. Which is just proof of how clever she is.
Then there was Benghazi. How did she allow terrorists in a hostile nation in which we had no military presence to kill Americans? How did she not stop terrorist from attacking Americans overseas. Now we had her. But that darn slippery Clinton.
After 9 separate investigations , including her own testimony, we still could not get her. She covered her tracks so well that she was able to kill Americans overseas and get away with it. Benghazi! Still. just saying “Benghazi!” was pretty useful. Made her look like she was hiding something. OK. So the Republicans could find no wrong, but still….
And what about the Uranium deal. Clinton sold her uranium to the Russians! Sold all the uranium in the US to the Russians. We finally got her on that one. How dare she? Well, we could never prove she actually sold anything to the Russians. Or that she was anything other than one of a dozen people in on any decision. But, still…
So, we chanted “Lock Her Up, Lock Her Up”. Once our guy gets into the White House we can finally put her away for good. And our guy (with a little help from his comrades, er, friends) did get into the White House. And he demanded that Attorney General Jeff Sessions lead new investigations into “Crooked Hillary”. Which he did.
I couldn’t wait. The day was soon arriving. After 2 years of taxpayer funded (again) investigations we would finally nail the witch. We would have the goods. We could lock her up. And just to be on the safe side we used Republican prosecutors to investigate. Now we had her. Finally, our guys were investigating and prosecuting. She would not evade the net.
So, imagine my sadness this morning when I read the news. Nothing. Not the Uranium deal. Not the Clinton Foundation. Not nothing. She has covered her tracks so well that even after 20 years of constant investigations we could not get her. Even the Trump supporters couldn’t get her. Just shows how devious she really is.
But don’t worry. We are not done. Just 2 days ago an Ukrainian plane was shot down over Tehran. Killed over 150 people. And Hillary was nowhere to be seen. Suspicious? Why has she not denied she masterminded the rocket attack?
A Republican congressman made this statement during the debate on the impeachment of Donald Trump.
“Before you take this historic vote today, one week before Christmas, keep this in mind,” Loudermilk exclaimed. “When Jesus was falsely accused of treason, Pontius Pilate gave Jesus the opportunity to face his accusers.”
“During that sham trial, Pontius Pilate afforded more rights to Jesus than Democrats afforded this president in this process,” he concluded…..
And so it goes. The finest man ever to don the robes of the presidency of the US has been impeached. Unfairly. Crucified. Beaten. Handed a crown of thorns. Just like Jesus.
Some may claim that the comparisons between Jesus and Trump are unfair. After all, the Christ guy never won the popular vote in an election. Other than that, the parallels in the lives of these two men…er, gods…is pretty telling.
Until recently we knew little about Jesus outside of the gospels, but a recent discovery of scrolls in a cave in Israel has shed more light on the life of the Chosen One. (I mean Jesus). The actual trial transcript of the trial of Jesus has now emerged.
The title of the document: The Roman Empire versus Jesu bin Joseph, AD 31. It is a blockbuster.
The transcript outlines how Jesus sent his lawyer, Matthew the younger, to Sumeria to dig up dirt on John the Baptist. In return, Jesus implied he would send some magic loaves and fishes to help the King of Sumeria deal with the famine. He was explicit, however, that there was no “quid pro quo”. (Since people back then spoke Latin they actually knew what what meant.)
Lawyer Matthew also paid off Mary Magdelane to keep her mouth shut about her “contacts” with the Chosen One. Twenty five silver coins and a jar of holy water, turned into a mild chablis. That did the trick.
At the trial Jesus refused to let any of his disciples testify. He invoked the highest executive privilege. He claimed that God the Father himself refused to allow any testimony. In fact, he claimed that God the Father Himself wrote a legal opinion that Jesus could not be indicted. Even if he used his slingshot and killed a Samaritan on the road to Jerusalem. Above the law.
Now, the prosecutors claimed that Jesus had defiled the temple by throwing out the money changers, a clear case of assault and battery. And obvious socialism. He worked on the Sabbath, which was against union rules. He turned water into wine and served it to minors. He even gave end of life care to Lazarus, and never left an invoice.
Worst of all, he gave out free food and free health care to the poor. And some of the poor were illegal immigrants from Egypt. Not even Roman citizens. Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Jerusalem was not happy. They were losing plenty of denarii on their prescription rider charges.
Since the transcript is incomplete we will never know how the trial turned out. But, I suspect with a jury foreman like Mitch McConnell it was an easy acquittal.
Like Jesus before him, let us hope that Mr Trump, the new son of the GOP gods, has the same fate as the first Jesus. If so, it would be a miracle.
If only Jeffrey Dahmer were still alive. His unjust conviction and sentencing would certainly be overturned. All he needed was a defense team led by Jim Jordan, Congressman from Ohio and Devin Nunes from California.
For those who may not know, Mr Dahmer was convicted of a number of crimes. Murder. Sexual assault. Rape. Necrophilia. But if he had the Republican defense team, and more importantly a Republican jury, he would be a free man today.
The arguments for his conviction would have been something like this. Evidence of his murder of Steven Hicks consisted of dental evidence, buried in Dahmer’s yard. Evidence of his attempted murder of Tracy Edward’s by his own testimony (the only victim able to escape). The 57 gallon drum of chemicals in his bed room. And, to quote Wikipedia……
“A more detailed search of the apartment, conducted by the Criminal Investigation Bureau, revealed a total of four severed heads in Dahmer’s kitchen. A total of seven skulls—some painted, some bleached—were found in Dahmer’s bedroom and inside a closet. In addition, investigators discovered collected blood drippings upon a tray at the bottom of Dahmer’s refrigerator, plus two human hearts and a portion of arm muscle, each wrapped inside plastic bags upon the shelves. In Dahmer’s freezer, investigators discovered an entire torso, plus a bag of human organs and flesh stuck to the ice at the bottom.
Elsewhere in Apartment 213, investigators discovered two entire skeletons, a pair of severed hands, two severed and preserved penises, a mummified scalp and, in the 57-gallon drum, three further dismembered torsos dissolving in the acid solution. A total of 74 Polaroid pictures detailing the dismemberment of Dahmer’s victims were found. In reference to the recovery of body parts and artifacts at 924 North 25th Street, the chief medical examiner later stated: “It was more like dismantling someone’s museum than an actual crime scene.”
In addition, Dahmer confessed to numerous other murders and crimes, as well.
If this seems like an open and shut case I am afraid you have not seen the Republican defense team at work. So, let’s see what happens when Dahmer calls Jim Jordan to the rescue!!
Mr Jordan: This case is all about hate. Hatred for Jeffrey Dahmer. As soon as the police identified him as a potential murderer they have gone out of their way to convict him. Outrageous! A massive hoax with no fact. All hearsay. The facts twisted to fit their hatred of Dahmer and his kind.
Jordan continues: Let us see what the police actually have presented. All they have presented are numerous skulls and body parts. Were those body parts and skulls found in Dahmer’s apartment? Yes. So what? Does that prove anything? The only answer is : NO! Is it possible that someone else sneaked into Dahmer’s apartment and planted that evidence? Just like the OJ frame up? Furthermore, did the police have a search warrant to search for 7 skulls ? NO. they did not. So that evidence should be thrown out of court.
Jordan continues: Now, the prosecution will claim that Dahmer confessed to these crimes when he was caught. But those are only his WORDS. Are we going to convict a man based on his OWN WORDS? My god, what a railroad job. Just because he was able to identify the skulls and tell the police what happened, does that make him guilty? No. Never.
Jordan: Now regarding the so-called “evidence” of the polaroid photos of dismembered bodies. Yes, these were found in Dahmer’s desk. But should they be used as evidence of a crime? Definitely not. These were his PERSONAL photos taken for his own enjoyment. They fall under executive privilege. He classified them as top secret. So no one has the right to look at them. Period. This privilege is perfect. No one except Dahmer and his lawyers are allowed to see them. Hoax. Hoax. Illegal!!
Jordan: Now, I ask the jury to use their common sense. If Dahmer had killed all these people and used acid to remove the skin from their skulls would he have kept that acid in a 57 gallon tank in his bedroom? If he had buried the bodies would it not be because he wanted to give these strangers a Christian burial? If he did take photos of mutilated corpses are they not his private property and no one else’s business.
Jordan: This entire case is based on just two pillars. Circumstantial evidence and Dahmer’s own words. No one, absolutely no one, says they witnessed Dahmer kill, mutilate or rape anyone. The prosecution has not been able to produce a single witness to the actual crime. There is no DIRECT testimony. NO DIRECT evidence, only his admission and the skulls. And the 57 gallon tank. And the body parts in the frig. And the blood. No DIRECT evidence. For that reason, you must acquit.
The Republican jury deliberates for 15 minutes and the returns smiling with a verdict.
Judge: Will the clerk read the verdict?
Clerk: We, the Republican jury find Mr Dahmer NOT GUILTY on all counts…… PS. We also think you should “Lock Her Up”.
At the defense table, high fives all around. Dahmer, in his excitement , invites Jim Jordan to join him for “dinner”. Jordan scampers way quickly and yells back: “Not a chance”.
Watching the first Judiciary Committee hearing concerning the impeachment of Donald Trump was a somewhat educational event. Now, as someone who taught government for over 20 years I really did not learn much that I didn’t already know (he humbly admitted). The facts and law are pretty clear.
At the start of the hearings the Republican, as expected, tried to slow down the process and gum up the works. All legal. They used parliamentary tactics to attempt to disrupt. One thing they did was demand a roll call vote on issues usually passed by a voice vote.
The legal parliamentary move was striking to me. I watched the roll call vote and it was instructive. Each congressman or woman had to be called by name and have their vote counted. As they voted the camera focused on each one. It was telling.
Taking a count, it looked like this. 24 Democrats voting yes and 17 Republicans voting no. One by one they voted. The visual was stunning.
On the Democrat side the members were a real cross section of America. There were 13 men and 11 women. There were 13 white faces. 7 African -American faces. Four faces of other ethnic groups. A real reflection of America.
On the Republican side the contrast was sharp. 15 white men. 2 white women. Not a single African-American. Not a single person of any non-white ethic group.
Nothing demonstrates the differences between the Republicans and Democrats more than how each party attracts and supports their “constituencies”. The contrast is astounding.
Conan is a hero. No, not Conan the Barbarian, the former governor of California. I am talking about a real life hero, not a pretend tough guy movie creation. Conan the dog. The dog that was injured in the attack on al-Baghdadi. Evidently Conan has participated more than 50 missions. A real workhorse… er.. work dog.
Like many veterans who risk their lives to protect the USA and the president, Conan is an immigrant. Or at least comes from an immigrant heritage. He is , by ethnic group, Belgian. He comes from a lineage called “Belgian Malinois”. Looks like a German shepherd to me, but then a lot of these immigrants look alike. Especially the canine ones.
Things were going pretty good for old Conan before Trump opened his mouth. At the press gaggle Trump referred to Conan as “he”. A male dog. So, a reporter asked if he was a “good boy”. I guess any dog that would go into an ISIS enclave and sniff out terrorists would be considered a pretty good boy. So, that was that. Good boy. Good Conan.
But then, for some reason, not sure why, the White House released a statement to reporters that Conan, was, in fact a “girl”. I think they meant that Conan was a female dog. OK. No big deal.Who cares? Really. When I see a dog and ask the owner if I can pet it I usually refer to it as a “good boy” Sometimes the owner corrects me. OK.
Yesterday, taking our dogs, Teddy and Auggy, for their annual shots I overheard a conversation between a couple of dog owners. This lady had a very small dog (I thought it was a rat) . Another woman in the vets office asked the gender of the pooch. It was a male. Too bad, the questioner said. She had some leftover clothes from her own small female dog, but they were pink. So, of course, this male dog would not be interested. Really. I heard this conversation. Honest. What male dog would wear pink? (We all know “What kind”, don’t we?)
Back to Conan. The White House issued a statement saying Conan was a girl. But this contradicted Mr Trump’s earlier assertions that Conan was a male dog. Oops. So, the White House issued another statement saying Conan, was, indeed a MALE. A real MAN. Or man-dog. Just like Trump said.
Then the Department of Defense got into the act. Taking time out from the usual boring stuff like wars, they issued a statement that Conan was a “female”. I mean, Conan is their dog, so they should know. But that statement contradicted what Mr Trump had said.
So, using the most sophisticated technology available, the Department of Defense “triple checked”. Again, setting aside lesser issues like terror attacks, espionage, war crimes, military buildups, etc., the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) issued a definitive statement. Not about a terror attack or military operation. About something much more important. They said: Conan is a male dog. End of story.
Or is it?
My secret sources tell me something different. Evidently Conan has been canned. Fired. Eliminated. Given his walking papers. His dog tags have been taken away. Why? Because Conan’s sexuality has been discovered. Conan has been outed. Which gives one paws… er… pause.
Conan, you see, is actually a transgender canine. Hence the confusion. On his initial application for service he described himself as a male. And provided the appropriate birth certificate from Belgian (Or was it the Belgian Congo??). As Conan matured he (and his trainers) realized that Conan was actually a female dog trapped in a male’s body. A doggette. So, a friendly vet hired by the vets… that would be a veterinarian hired by veterans… performed the needed operation. Conan is now happily female. A transcanine.
Hence the confusion. Boy or girl? Male or female? Dog or cat? Man or mouse?
Bottom line. Conan, the foreigner who happens to be transgender got the job done. He, (or she or it) did his (or her or its) duty as a loyal American. To serve and protect. To get the bad guys. Which is true of a lot of members of the US military. Transgender or not. They get the job done.
Chris Wallace, of Fox News, interviewed Senator Kennedy of Louisiana during his Sunday morning talk show. Wallace was very specific. He pointed out that the entire Intelligence apparatus of the US government concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. And Ukraine did not.
He pointed out that any Ukrainian interference claims had been debunked. He was clear.
Kennedy responded that he did not know. He said it COULD have been Ukrainians, but no one knows. Could have been.
When Wallace pointed out that there was NO EVIDENCE to support that claim, Kennedy responded (trying to be clever, I think), the the “absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence”. Just because there is no evidence a crime has been committed does not mean a crime has NOT been committed. Just because there is no evidence that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election does not mean Ukraine did NOT interfere in the 2016 election.
Now, it is hard. No, It take that back. It is IMPOSSIBLE to argue with that line of reasoning. What isn’t there isn’t there but that doesn’t mean it might not be there.
Senator Kennedy got me thinking. Always a dangerous situation. So, let’s take a look back at other moments in history and revisit them.
The Holocaust. No one, well, there are a few, claims the Holocaust did not occur. But did it? Some people say it didn’t. And even if it did occur, who was behind it? There is evidence that the Nazis and other Germans were responsible. But could it have been someone else?
In the 1930s there was a tribe in Kenya called the “Kikuyu”. Never did the Kikuyu issue a statement of support for Jews. NEVER. We know that in later years the Kikuyu rose up and fought the British who had colonized Kenya. It was called the “Mau Mau” uprising. Is it possible that the Kikuyu were anti-Semitic? There is no evidence contradicting that idea. So, it is POSSIBLE that the Kikuyu, not the Nazis, were actually responsible for the death camps. They hated whites. Jews are white. The Kikuyu were violent. The camps were violent. The “absence of evidence ” should not stop us from pointing out the obvious: The Kikuyu COULD have run the death camps.
The US Civil War. From 1861-1865 the US was engaged in a great civil war. No one denies that fact. But who was really responsible and why was it fought? There are a few ideas and some that have supporting evidence. Was it to protect the institution of slavery? Evidence for that. Was it to break up the union? Evidence of that. Was it to maintain states rights? Evidence of that.
However, is there something else at play? Perhaps. Keep in mind, I have NO EVIDENCE that the following happened. Nevertheless. Follow me.
Baseball was just becoming popular in the 1860s. A few teams were starting up, playing teams from other towns. But how could baseball grow into a national past time? The baseball team owners needed a war. This would divide the nation and make people more loyal to their own towns, hence their own teams. (Even today, some misguided fools support the Detroit Tigers!)
So, the team owners got together and hired some southerners to attack Fort Sumter. They hired Jeff Davis, Robert E Lee, Jeb Stuart and others to go to war with the north. It is POSSIBLE that even A. Lincoln was in on the plot. I have NO EVIDENCE but it is said by some that he owned the rights to the Chicago White Sox. WHITE !!! Racism!!!
So, was Abe Lincoln the person who started the Civil War for his own personal profit? I have NO EVIDENCE of this. But Like Senator Kennedy said: Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
The DNC Ukraine Connection in 2016. Now we get to the juicy one. What was the connection between the Ukrainian government and the DNC server hack. The US intelligence services have investigated and found NO EVIDENCE. So what?
According to GOP sources, here is what happened. The DNC paid Cloudstrike to hack the DNC computers. So , they paid to have themselves hacked. Now , a reasonable person may ask why they would do that? Easy.
The DNC had their own computers hacked and damaging emails released by Wikileaks because they wanted to undermine the Trump campaign. The DNC wanted Trump to be elected so they could then IMPEACH him ! A clever ploy.
To hide their plot the DNC shipped their server to the Ukraine. And kept it hidden. You may ask why they just didn’t dump it into the Atlantic Ocean. Silly people. If they dumped it there would be NO EVIDENCE that they hacked themselves. By hacking themselves and blaming it on Putin they could then undermine the Trump administration. Simple. Of course, there is no evidence of this, but recall.
The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence. Which leads me to my final example. Or fact. Or whatever.
Is Senator Kennedy a child molester? I want to be very clear about this. I am not accusing Senator Kennedy of being a child molester. There is NO EVIDENCE that he is a child molester. No one, to my knowledge has ever accused him of being a child molester.
Kennedy is a male. An old white male. We know that some old white males are child molesters. That is indisputable. Also, Kennedy would undoubtedly DENY he is a child molester. But isn’t that EXACTLY what a child molester would do? Do I have EVIDENCE? No, but then has the FBI ever investigated him for child molestation? I don’t know. Perhaps the entire Fox interview given by Kennedy was designed to throw the FBI off the trail. To hide his crimes. Who knows? Could be.
Remember that Kennedy himself has said: “Absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence“. Right?
An old saying, a picture is worth a thousand words. And so it goes. We FINALLY get down to the truth about why Mr Trump called back his ambassador to the Ukraine.
If you recall, Ambassador Yovanovitch was a long time diplomat. She had been appointed by GW Bush to various posts, some rather dangerous. She had been appointed by Obama to the Ukraine post, an area of her singular expertise. She was appointed by Trump and scheduled to remain until the middle of 2020 at the request of Secretary of State Pompeo.
Then, abruptly, she was called home by Trump. No reason. No explanation. No admonishment for misbehavior. Just called home. The one person in the Ukraine who knew more about the corrupt players and how to help the new president deal with them. Called home.
The reason for her recall has been a well guarded secret. What did the president know about her? What devious behavior had she been involved in? How was she undermining US anti-corruption efforts? Always a gentleman, Mr Trump refuse to tell us what she had done wrong.
In an interview on Fox and Friends, Mr trump finally explained why he fired her and brought her back to Washington. He had heard that Ambassador Yovanovitch had REFUSED to put up a portrait of Mr Trump in the Ukraine Embassy!!! According to Mr Trump she refused to put his photo on her wall!! Next to her Hulk Hogan poster.
Now, the fact is that the Ukraine Embassy DID put up Mr Trump’s official portrait as soon as they received it. Problem was that the White House, not one for details, neglected to have an official portrait taken and sent out until almost a full year after his election. Details.
Now to some it may seem like a far fetched reason to fire an ambassador. Kind of petty? Firing an ambassador to a major ally because of a rumor about a photo? Well, Rudy said that Lev told him that Igor heard from Vlad that Marie never even put your picture on the wall!! And she never lit a candle in front of it! That’s what people say. What people say. What people say.
Was that the REAL reason for a massive change in leadership in a country being invaded by Putin? An ally we need badly? A place where US presence and stability is essential?
I say: Yes. If nothing else, Mr Trump has shown the ability to redefine pettiness and childishness to a new level. And just the rumor of anyone not kowtowing to his fantasies and ego would certainly be enough cause for firing.
The impeachment is coming. The Democrats are going to call a number of witnesses who claim that Mr Trump, Giuliani and others were involved in the extortion attempt of Ukraine.
According to the rules of the hearings the Republicans will be able to call their own witnesses. Witnesses for the defense. Witnesses who can describe, under oath, how Mr Trump and Giuliani dd nothing wrong.
So, let’s see who the Republicans call to defend Trump.
My suggestions are pretty straightforward. Let those who are accused defend themselves. Let the witnesses for the defense testify under oath.
Rudy Giuliani. He can testify that he never attempted to influence Ukrainian policy at the behest of Donald Trump.
Mick Mulvaney. He can testify that he never put a hold on military aid. He can also explain his statement to the press that the administration does “quid pro quo” regularly. And we should “get over it”.
Lev Parnas. He claims to be working on Trump’s legal team. He can explain how his company, with no income, was able to pay Rudy Giuliani, his boss, about $500,000. His ability to make money appear from nowhere might be valuable in our attempts to balance the budget.
Mike Pompeo. He can testify as to what was on the phone call. He can also testify that he has the right to tell his employees to defy Congressional subpoenas. He can explain how he has the right to defy the law.
And finally…We would all like to hear from…..
Donald Trump. this poor man has been vilified by the Lugenpresse. He has been castigated by the Deep State. All those terrible accusations and he has no way to defend himself. Until now.
Under oath. In public testimony. Mr Trump DESERVES his day in court. Doesn’t he deserve the chance to set the record straight? To explain that he did nothing wrong? To show America that he is being persecuted and prosecuted?
So, Republicans. This is your chance to get at the truth. Call your witnesses.