Category Archives: United States

2nd Amendment and Guntrol, Part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Crocodile Tears…YAWN

 

Another school shooting today in Florida. YAWN. 17 people, mostly kids,  dead; a bunch more injured. YAWN. The shooter was known to be a problem. YAWN. The shooter used an AR-15 assault weapon. YAWN.

We now have about 1 school shooting every 2 or 3 days.

So, join me and Governor Scott of Florida. And Senator Rubio of Florida.And President Trump. And the rest of Congress.

Join me as we call for prayers. Our thoughts and condolences are with these children. And their families. Our deepest sympathy for the mothers who bore these childeren and will never see them graduate from high school. The fathers who changed their diapers and rolled around the living room floor with them. The brothers and sisters who fought with them, loved them, hated them and hugged them. Join me in prayers.

Congress and the president and all the decent people in America must join together in a moment of silence. We feel their pain. It is awful. We must all cry together.

We must all cry the crocodile tears. Doesn’t matter if it is Florida crocodiles or Connecticut crocodiles or Nevada crocodiles or South Carolina crocodiles. We all need to shed those tears.

But don’t shed too many. Save some. Because next month you will need to shed them again. Don’t cry yourself dry. You may run out of tears, but you can always pray.

The choice is clear. We can support the gun sellers, supported by the NRA. Or, we can keep our children safe with sane gun laws.

The solution is clear. We must share the pain. We must stand with the victims. We must pray.

And stand with Governor Scott who made this statement.

After the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub that left 49 people dead and dozens injured, Scott responded to questions about gun control in Florida.

“I’m not going to call a special session. The Second Amendment didn’t kill anybody,” Scott said.

Stand with Marco Rubio who just yesterday pointed out what needs to be done:

Fox News’ Pete Doocy asked Rubio if he thought it was appropriate to be discussing gun control after the events.

“It’s not, only because people don’t know how this happened,” Rubio said. “[We don’t know] who this person is, what motivated them, how did they get a hold of the weapon that they used for this attack.”

To quote Rubio again: “How did they get a hold of a weapon ???” I mean, who knows how? It’s a mystery!

So. Let us cry those crocodile tears. And let us pray. Like the governor of Florida and Congress and the president, please feel the pain. Because it makes us sad.

But oppose background checks. Oppose any ban on assault weapons. Oppose any national solution to a national issue. Stand with the NRA gun sellers. And shed those crocodile tears.

Please print and save this blog. Tape it to your refrigerator. You can read it again next month when the next school mass shooting takes place.

 

 

 

 

http://www.wesh.com/article/gov-scott-responds-to-questions-on-gun-control/4450513

https://www.mediaite.com/tv/marco-rubio-now-not-the-time-to-talk-gun-control-because-people-dont-know-how-this-happened/

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Filed under Congress, GOP, gun control, Politics, United States

The Party’s Over

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

The Memo That Changed the World

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

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

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

WOW

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

So, I read the memo. Here it is:

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

What I learned….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So much for the memo that changed the world.

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Filed under Clinton, Conservatives, GOP, government, neoconservatives, Politics, Republicans, tea party, Trump, United States

My Secret Society

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

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

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

Words, Part 2

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

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

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

Words.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

My Shithole Surgeon

President Trump recently was reported as having referred to people who have immigrated from Haiti and African nations as “having aids” and being from a “shithole ” countries.  They are not welcome here. There were at least 2 independent sources for the statement.

Trump is quoted as saying: Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out.

Reached for comment about the article, White House spokesperson Raj Shah did not deny the “shithole” remark, but instead said in a statement that Trump “is fighting for permanent solutions that make our country stronger by welcoming those who can contribute to our society, grow our economy and assimilate into our great nation.”

http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/11/politics/immigrants-shithole-countries-trump/index.html

Then, this morning, Trump denied he said he used those words.

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump on Friday denied describing certain nations as “shithole countries” during a meeting in which he rejected a bipartisan deal on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

So, take your pick.

Which brings me to my cancer surgery. A few years ago I had an unusally high score on my PSA test (A test for prostate cancer). So, I had a biopsy. A biopsy which found that I did have cancer and it was near one of the walls of my prostate gland.

After careful consideration I decided to have a radical prostatectomy. It would be done with the robotic da Vinci method. The surgeon makes to small incisions and using the robotics is able to perform very delicate surgery. With minimal post operative issues.

Because of where I live, I was able to have a surgeon who is recognized as an expert in this field. He went to Boston University and the University of Rochester School of Medicine. He studied laproscopic surgery at the University College in London (England) and Paris (France). He also holds an MBA.

He is well known as an expert in his field. In 2010, he was one of the only 2 surgeons selected to perform a live demonstration as a teaching video. He has published articles in professional journals and books on the technique and outcomes. He has done thousands of surgeries.

Physically he is imposing. He is tall and has huge hands. (Which becomes apparent when he gives the digital exam we all love) When he shakes hands you can feel the gentleness you would expect of a surgeon. Yet, he is so soft spoken that sometimes you need him to repeat himself. And he has a subtle sense of humor.

So, I am happy with my surgery and my surgeon.

Which leads me back to Mr Trump and his remarks: Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out.

My surgeon, you see, is an immigrant. He is one of those immigrants who has come to the USA for a better life for himself and his family. At the same time making life better for other Americans, like me. He is black.  He speaks not only English but also French and probably some Creole.

Too bad Mr Trump has never met my surgeon. My doctor is a “Shithole Surgeon”  from the “Shithole” nation of Haiti. Why do we need more Haitians? To save American lives.

 

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Filed under healthcare, immigrants, Politics, POTUS, Trump, United States, US

Ask the Homecoming Queen

The US is currently involved in deciding to what extent Putin interfered with the last US election. And how to protect the integrity of the voting procedures in the next election.

Background. After the farcical 2000 election there was a flurry of activity to make voting systems easier to use and tabulate. A number of electronic and computer companies lobbied congress and the individual states to sell their “tamper proof” voting systems. I mean, what could go wrong with a computer? Or what could go wrong with an optical scanner?

For example, in Cayuhoga County, with a population of 1.2 million including the heavily Democratic city of Cleveland a problem was reported in 2010. The Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper reported that 10 % of the voting machines had FAILED pre-election tests. Upon retesting the machines that had passed originally, even more failed on a second test. These failures included not counting votes and the machines simply freezing. Despite these problems, the state of Ohio recertified this system for use in 2013. (Clinton got 66% of those who had their votes counted).

Here are a few nuggets from the 2016 election. More problems in cities.

“City Clerk Janice Winfrey says some voting machines in Detroit stopped working Tuesday morning and had to be replaced.The delay caused long lines and waits of an hour or more to vote.”

Also in Detroit, a heavily Democratic city:

“The project also reported the only voting machine in Precinct 16 is repeatedly breaking, and that some voters have been waiting outside in the rain before getting into the building, where they are facing a 45-minute wait.

The Detroit Free Press reported that nearly two hours after the polls opened, no one at the Marcus Garvey Academy Precinct 134 in Detroit’s West Village had been able to cast a ballot due to a problem with voting machines. A technician was on the way, the Free Press said, but some voters had to get to work and put their ballots in a box.

Across the city, a voting machine malfunctioned at Detroit’s Precinct 32, located at East English Village Prep. Some voters who registered on the last day it was allowed didn’t show up on voting lists.”

Note: Of the votes that counted in Detroit, Clinton got 95%, Trump 3%. Trump won Michigan by only 11,000 votes. A few more votes from Detroit and Clinton wins the state.

In a heavily Democratic area of Virginia:

“Cortes says several precincts in northern Virginia’s Fairfax County didn’t properly load their electronic poll book data, so some people who likely were registered weren’t showing up. He says those people were given provisional ballots and the elections office will work quickly to process them.” (63% voted for Clinton)

In North Carolina, in heavily Democratic Durham, more voting problems.

“Meanwhile, the Durham County Board of Elections has asked state board to extend voting hours at one precinct, the Bethesda Ruritan Club. It also is gathering information for the state board about whether hours at other locations should be extended. The county board will then determine whether to request extended hours at any other polling location.

The computer problem resulted in at least one precinct running out of authorization-to-vote forms for about 90 minutes. ” 

Note: Clinton won 79% of the vote in Durham, of those that were able to vote.

In Texas, again in the cities.

“Anthony Gutierrez, executive director of the Texas chapter of Common Cause, says some people had to go to three different locations before they could vote.

Other complaints among about 1,400 calls received from Texas on an Election Day hotline set up by nonprofits included scattered reports of voting technology malfunctions and lines longer than an hour in parts of Houston and Dallas.

Gutierrez says many people complained of poll workers being misinformed about changes the state made after a federal court ruled Texas’ voter ID law unconstitutional.”

And on..and on… and on….

  • In Maricopa County, Ariz., Democratic officials asked a judge to keep polls open for two more hours following problems with voting machines and provisional ballots that caused long lines. The request, like that in Colorado, was denied.
  • In Philadelphia, would-be voter Chris Calvert tweeted that both voting machines were broken at his polling place. “No one can vote in our district today. Hundreds of angry voters,” he wrote. Federal law requires election officials to give voters provisional paper ballots in such cases. (Trump won Pennsylvania by 44,000 votes; Philadelphia went 85% for Clinton…of those who could vote)
  • Broken ballot-scanning machines and other problems slowed voting at some polling places amid heavy turnout in New York City. Only one of two scanners was functioning at a polling place in Manhattan’s Gramercy Park neighborhood Tuesday morning, leading to a line of hundreds of people by 8:30 a.m. The same thing happened at Public School 154 in Manhattan’s Harlem neighborhood, where Megan Arend tweeted the situation was causing “complete chaos and discouraging voters.”

Of course, you can’t do much about voter suppression and changing polling places at the last minute. Those are typical tactics for which there may be no remdy. But you can solve the problem of voting machine errors, voting machine malfunctions, etc.

I am not suggesting any plan to deprive Democrats of voting. However, since urban areas are highly Democratic, when voting machines or long lines prevent or discourage voting, the impact is felt much more acutely in areas of high population density. Democratic strongholds. How do we take back a fair and honest voting system?

STOP using voting machines. Period. Just use paper ballots for national elections. It was good enough for the founding fathers. And for high school kids. Every year high schools across the country use paper ballots for their elections. Homecoming queen. Class president. Just make an X next to the name of the candidate. No computers. No ability of Russian hackers or anyone to manipulate the results. No machine malfunctions. Just honest elections.

Then, at the end of the day, you sit down with the poll workers and representatives of all the political parties and count the ballots. Easy. Why don’t we do that?  It would be accurate and fair. Totally transparent. Why don’t we do that? It would be accurate and fair. Totally transparent. I think I just answered my own question, didn’t I?

It works. It is honest. It is easy. Want to have fair elections?

Ask any homecoming queen.

 

http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2010/04/some_cuyahoga_countys_voting_m.html

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/live-updates-voting-issues-reported-at-polling-places-on-election-day/

https://patch.com/michigan/detroit/live-2016-election-results-trump-clinton-swing-state-michigan

https://www.politico.com/2016-election/results/map/president/north-carolina/

http://edition.cnn.com/election/results/states/pennsylvania

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New Year Predictions 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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Mr Reed on the Backs of our Children

My Congressman is Tom Reed of NY-29. A staunch Trump supporter and one of the key members of the Ways and Means Committee responsible for the GOP tax bill. I called his office at 10:30 this morning and spoke with one of his staff members for 15 minutes. Here are the questions I asked and the answers I received.

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

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

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

A. Yes. He has read the entire bill.

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

A. Do not know. Thinks not, however.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A. Will pass on my idea to the Congressman.

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

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

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

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

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

A. Can’t answer.

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

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

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Turkey Tax Theory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which brings us to the latest Tax Plan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Senator Gillibrand and The Death of Due Process

Roy Moore may or may not be elected to the US Senate tomorrow. He has been accused by multiple women of icky behavior. Of cruising malls looking for girls. Of dating teens. Whether or not this enough reason for the good people of Alabama  to reject him remains to be seen.

Moore’s defenders have, rightly, pointed out that he has never been convicted of violating any woman or girl. I saw an interview (which I personally found disturbing) of Moore supporters in Alabama. A number of them saw nothing wrong with him trying to date a 14 year old girl. One guy pointed out that his grandmother was 13 when she got married and had 2 kids by the time she was 15. Others pointed out that things were different in the past  (they were, but this is the present) and many Alabama moms would have been happy to have their 14 or 16 year old daughter dating an assistant DA. Others were certain that the accusers had been paid by George Soros.  Moore denies all claims and says they are all liars. So be it.

Al Franken posed for a prank picture of him groping a sleeping Leeann Tweeden. When on a USO tour with this sports commentator and former top Hooters girl. The fact that she was a playboy model does not diminish any sexual assault, nor does the fact that she works for FOX. Just sayin’ . Other women have also come out and claimed that Franken touched them inappropriately. His supporters point out that he has not been charged with anything and while he denies many of the complaints he has apologized for others. He has asked for an Ethics Committee hearing. But that was not enough, so Franken, under pressure from Democratic congresswomen  and congressmen, has resigned.

A Republican from Arizona wanted to pay millions to one of his female staff members to be a “surrogate” mother since he and his wife cannot have kids. Doesn’t sound so bad until you learn that his “religion” forbids artificial insemination.  Had to do it the regular way. I see. He resigns.

Old John Conyers, Democrat of Michigan, accused by staffers of inappropriate touching, resigns. Like it matters. The guy was old, even for Congress. If he did touch someone he couldn’t remember five minutes later. But that is another topic. He’s gone.

https://josephurban.wordpress.com/2015/01/07/80-is-the-new-36/

Another Congressman owes me $84,000 as far as I am concerned. Farenthold  (Texas Republican) had the Congressional Sex Slush Fund pay $ 84,000 in hush money to a woman he assaulted. I want my money back. Oh, wait, he promises to pay it back. We shall see.  My question: Why is there a Congressional Sex Slush Fund to begin with?

http://time.com/5048265/blake-farenthold-sexual-harassment-settlement/

Which brings me around to one of my New York senators, Gillibrand . Kirsten Gillibrand was appointed to the Senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton by then-Governor Patterson, who had  admitted to numerous extramarital affairs. This did not bother Kirsten at the time. Nor did the money and support funneled to her by the Clintons bother her. Nor does it bother me. She won an election on her own, well, maybe with a little Clinton help. Gillibrand started out as a “Blue Dog” Democrat (conservative) but has “evolved” over the years to become a leading liberal in the Senate. Evolution is a wonderful thing. I confess I voted for her in the last election.

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

Recently Senator Gillibrand was at the forefront of the movement by Democratic congresswomen to oust Al Franken. She called for his resignation and got it. She has also condemned former president Clinton for his dalliances and said he should have resigned from office. For having an affair. (Did I mention she took money and support from the Clintons to help her get elected?)

Now, since Gillibrand is my senator I was concerned with her motives. So, I just called her  Washington DC office and asked a couple questions.

First, I asked why she has not called for President Trump to resign. After all, compared to the allegations against Mr Trump , Al Franken is an altar boy. If Franken’s unproven behavior merited a resignation, why not Trump’s much worse unproven behavior?

The response from her representative  was that Gillibrand has spoken out about Mr Trump. No reason given as to why she has not called for his resignation.

My second question was based on the 2014 claims by Gillibrand that she was sexually harrassed while in the Congress by other Congressmen. She talks about 3 or 4 specific cases, yet refuses to name her harrassers. The answer given to me was that Gillibrand HAS named her harrassers but I can find no evidence of that on any website.  At the time Gillibrand was challenged to name her harrassers but she refused, using this logic:

“So why didn’t she call out the men who wronged her by name? “Because then our conversation would be about the idiocy of any one individual male,” Gillibrand said. “And I don’t want to talk about that. I want to talk about the broader problems that are far more relevant.” For a woman who’s trying to carve out her position as a leader for women, it’s not a bad conversation to own.”

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/09/kirsten-gillibrand-explains-why-she-didnt-name-her-harassers/439767/

So, now Kristen has decided that the “idiocy of any one individual male”, namely Al Franken, is good enough for her. So, the “broader problem” is more important than “due process”? The end justifies the means? We keep silent about sex harrassers for the greater good?

Gillibrand is a lawyer by trade. She is a very smart person. She understands the Constitution. She understands “due process” and what that should mean. She has been in the forefront to deny that “due process” to one man, Al Franken, while protecting the identity of other sexual harrassers. Even though she claims personal knowledge of sexual harrassment in Congress by other Congressmen she refuses to “name names”, thereby aiding and abetting those who would prey on women not as psychologically strong or powerful as she. Silence is what sexual predators thrive on. And Gillibrand has been silent allowing predators to go unpunished.

Why has she been silent about some and why so aggressive at this time towards Franken? My only conclusion is that Gillibrand has seen a bandwagon and has decided to jump onto the driver’s seat. The bandwagon is a dangerous one. It says anyone accused is guilty. Case closed. No hearings. No trial. It also says that we must always believe any woman who makes a claim. Sorry, I just will not accept that.

Kirsten is not done. She wants to climb higher. She has her eyes on the Democratic nomination for president and is using the current scandals, quite selectively I might add, to propel herself into the national spotlight. How is she any different than any Fox-sponsored politician who tries to use selective evidence for political advantage? To throw red meat to a specific audience? She has shown herself to be a typical member of the elite ruling class…. say anything for political gain. I think there is a term for that: opportunistic.

To think I helped put her in office. Sad. Very sad.

https://www.playboy.com/leeann-tweeden

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/does-gillibrand-have-a-responsibility-to-name-her-harassers

https://www.politico.com/story/2017/11/16/full-text-al-franken-apologizes-for-allegedly-groping-woman-244978

 

 

 

 

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Booze and Women

Regarding the new GOP tax plan which shuffles billions of dollars from working Americans to the top one-half of one per cent.

“I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing,” Grassley told the Register. “As opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.”

I am not sure if this is true so I interviewed 2 people. One is a billionaire heiress to a real estate fortune who shall remain anonymous. I shall call her Ivania. The other is a shmuck who worked in factories, sweat shops and as a teacher for over 30 years. I will call him Joe the Shmuck.

Me: Hello, Ivania. Congratulations on receiving a massive inheritance allowance and other tax breaks in the new tax bill.

Ivania: Thank you. No one deserves it more than me.

Me: So, how many jobs do you intend to create with this new found wealth ? Do you feel that you that have earned this windfall?

Ivania: Oh, yes. I have had to work very hard being born into just the right family. It is not easy being wealthy. For example, do we cater in Lobster Newberg or Filet Mignon tonight? Do we open the bottle of “Moet and Chandon Dom Perignon” or the “Boerl and Kroff Brut Rose” ? Would you have any idea which to serve? Commoners just don’t understand the intense pressure I am under.

Me: I see. Back to my question. What do you intend to do with this multi-million dollar windfall? Will you invest it in new jobs in America?

Ivania: Of course. My investment advisor has already begun adding to my investments. I have created thousands of jobs already in my tote bag and high heel shoe factories.

Me: But aren’t those factories in China? And Vietnam?

Ivania: Well, yes. But there is a trickle down effect. Eventually, as we create jobs in China and depress wages in the US, we will be able to bring back jobs to this nation I love so dearly. American commoners must be able to compete with the wages we pay in China. We hope to someday get those wages on par with each other. Right now it is those unions that prevent us from creating more good jobs in the nation I love.

Me: OK. So, you won’t be investing in the USA, is that the bottom line.

Ivania: (chuckling)  I got mine. That is the bottom line. Did I mention how much I love America?

So, after this rather unsatisfying interview I found Joe the Shmuck, retired factory worker and teacher.

Me: Hello, Joe the Shmuck. Can I call you Joe?

Joe the Shmuck: I have spent my entire adult life working for a living and paying my taxes. You can call me Shmuck.

Me: OK, Shmuck. Senator Grassley has made the comment that people like you will just take any tax break and spend it on women and booze. What is your response?

Shmuck: DUH. Of course we will. He is correct.

Me: WOW! So you admit that you will spend any tax breaks on women and booze? Really?

Shmuck: I have in the past, why change now? What choice do I have?

Me: Explain to me then why you should get a tax break if you will just spend it on women and booze?

Shmuck: Look, I worked two jobs most of my life. At least 8 hours a day. Some days 12 hours or more. I have worked in factories, day labor, teaching and coaching and advising students. All for pretty meager wages. So, what do you think? I am not going to come home and have a beer? Of course I spend my money on booze. Wouldn’t you?

Me: Well, ok. but what about spending all your money on women?

Shmuck: I have a wonderful wife and a wonderful daughter. Unfortunately they are money pits. I mean, who needs more than 2 pair of underwear? Women, that’s who. Who needs to get their hair done? Women, that’s who. Not to mention quality food, clothes and  thousands of other items the uses of which completely escape me.

Let’s talk about dental bills and braces, shall we? And schools class trips? And second cars? And dogs and all those expenses? And Xmas gifts? And tuition and fees?

Me: I am not sure that was what Grassley was referring to…

Shmuck: Well, anyone who has a wife and daughter (or husband and son for that mattter) knows what I am talking about. So Grassley is right. All I will do with any tax break is invest in goods and services right here in the US…wait…does that make me an investor?

Me: Sorry. Investors only invest in China. You worked . You supported your family. You drink beer. You are what we call…uh… shmuck.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/12/04/grassley-explains-why-people-dont-invest-booze-or-women-or-

https://financesonline.com/top-10-most-expensive-champagne-bottles-in-the-world/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/stuartanderson/2015/08/17/trump-the-hypocrite-investing-overseas-fine-for-him/#4d5a62aa1dc8

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Filed under Congress, Debt, economics, Economy, GOP, government, liberals, minimum wage, pensions, Politics, Republicans, Taxes, United States

Incidents of Travel Abroad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Filed under border control, Christianity, government, Immigration, Islam, Judaism, Society, United States

Sex Harrassment Training

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

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

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

From the audiotape:

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

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

AC: So, who is running this show?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

End of tape.

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

 

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

The Strange Case of Baby M

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Bone Spurs Explained

Anyone who has ever read any of my posts knows by now that I usually don’t know what I am talking about. That is why I LOVE the interweb! Any idiot can post anything.

That said. One thing I do know about is bone spurs.  Just yesterday Senator John McCain made a veiled insult to Mr Trump about his avoidance of military service in Vietnam. He implied that folks with “bone spurs” were using that malady to avoid duty.

I confess that I refused to join the military during the Vietnam War. I opposed that particular war for moral reasons and attempted, unsuccessfully, to obtain a conscientious objector status.  I actively opposed that war and also the 2nd Iraq War. I stand by that opposition. I don’t think we should put our military at risk without a thorough assessment and public debate.

In my opinion there are some military actions that are/were necessary. North Korea cannot be allowed to expand it’s influence and South Korea and Japan must be protected. The support for Granada was necessary during the Reagan years. The US was right to form a coalition to eject Saddam Hussein from Kuwait  . The coalition to attempt to destroy the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan was a proper response to 9/11. The entire world joined us in that effort. The US support for NATO has limited the influence of Russia in Europe, which is a good thing.

But, back to “bone spurs”. As it so happens I have bone spurs. On both heels . They hurt. They can be very, very painful. Some athletes get them. And women who wear high heels. I developed them later in life. They can be caused by age or overuse of your feet.  After all, I have been walking on these feet for over 60 years. They are bound to take offense eventually. So I can empathize with the president and the millions of other Americans who suffer from this malady. But bone spurs are treatable with a wide range of techniques.

However, bone spurs are not cancer . (Which I have also survived) .They are not terribly debilitating when given a little treatment. In my case, my podiatrist took a cast of my feet and made orthotics. These inserts simply create a small “donut hole” around the heel so the bone spur does not rest on anything but cushion. No pain.

When I golf I walk between 6 and 7 miles a day. Often in the woods. No pain.When I walk the three mile loop in my rural neighborhood it is on paved roads. No pain. When I chop wood or saunter behind the snowthrower in the  the driveway or mow the lawn I walk a lot. No pain. I went to work for over 30 years and never missed a day because of “bone spurs”.  ( I did miss a lot of work, but that is another story). There is no job you cannot do with a “bone spur” in you heel, except, perhaps Heel Dancing. (Yes, there is such a thing). A simple orthotic takes care of it.

Unless the US Army incorporates heel dancing as part of basic training there is nothing that prevents someone with heel spurs from serving except for one exception. You would be disqualified from joining the elite  “Dancing 54th”. Their motto :  Stompus Enemus Ouchus. (We Stomp on the Enemy. OUCH).

So, I cannot criticize Mr. Trump for avoiding the Vietnam War, but he and his doctor should have come up with a better excuse. Looking at the current “disqualifying ” factors for joining the US Army I notice that “bone spurs” is not mentioned. However, there is a section that Mr Trump could have used.

Under Personality, Conduct and Behavior Disorders

“b. Personality, conduct, or behavior disorders where it is evident by history, interview, or psychological testing that the degree of immaturity, instability, personality inadequacy, impulsiveness, or dependency will seriously interfere with adjustment in the Army as demonstrated by repeated inability to maintain reasonable adjustment in school, with employers and fellow workers, and with other social groups

Mr. Trump, you just earned your 1-Y. I would like to see Senator McCain try to challenge that one.

 

https://www.salon.com/2017/10/23/john-mccain-calls-out-trumps-bone-spurs-excuse-to-avoid-draft/

https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/tc/bone-spur-topic-overview#2

http://www.military.com/join-armed-forces/disqualifiers-medical-conditions.html

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Trump is NOT a Moron

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

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

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

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

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

From Wikipedia:

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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Condolences to Ray and Elfreda

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ray and Elfreda, I feel your pain.

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

 

http://www.lutherstrange.com/on_the_issues

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

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

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

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

The Rocket Man versus The Dotard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John F Kennedy

 

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

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

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

Trump: Oh yeah, “Rocket Man”

Kim: You are obviously “mentally deranged.”

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

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

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

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

Trump: “Maniac”

Kim: “Dotard”

Trump: Your mother wears combat boots!

Kim: So’s your old man.

Trump: Gonna make me?

Kim: You stink!

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

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

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

Re-Fighting the Vietnam War

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Those Phone Calls…Very Presidential

Mr Trump has (once again) claimed that something has happened which did not happen.  Despite what he has said,  he did not receive congratulatory phone calls from the president of Mexico. Nor from the Boy Scouts. In fact, the Boy Scouts apologized for his remarks.

While some might suggest that the erroneous statements made by Trump are untrue, that is hardly the case.   As his current spokesperson. Ms Huckabee Sanders , has stated about these falsehoods: “I wouldn’t say it was a lie — that’s a pretty bold accusation.”

But, in the world of Trump, up is down, right is left, truth is lies and real news is fake. This incident did remind me of some phone calls I have received over the years from parents, public figures and various members of the animal kingdom. I shall share. While these might not be completely “true”, none of them are “lies”. According to Ms Huckabee Sanders.

The Pope called to beg me to return to the one, true apostolic church. Since I had left the church attendance at all Roman Catholic masses had declined. A lot. The Pope told me that I was the best Catholic ever, except for my sins. He said I was an amazing apostate. And he wants me back. Honest. He said that.

Tiger Woods called to congratulate me on my latest golf score, a scorching 89 (from the women’s tees). He told me I had the most amazing hook he had ever seen.  He wished he could play as well as I do. And my 3 putting was fantastic. Really. He did. He said that.

A former principal I worked for called and left a message. He told me I was the best employee that he had ever supervised. And he loved the many suggestions I made to him as to where to place his various suggestions for improvement. He said my creative responses were the best he had ever seen. Although he was finding it difficult to actually insert my suggestions into the appropriate orifice. But, according to him, I was the best! Amazing. Really. He said that.

Then there was the parent whose kid failed my class. As a result he was not admitted to Trump University’s School of Relativity and Prevarication. Even though I ruined the kid’s life , the mother insisted that I was the best teacher ever. She praised my firm stand on the issue of doing at least some homework once in awhile. She placed the complete blame on the situation on her son. I was blameless. I was fantastic. I was amazing. Honest. She said that.

The Donald himself called me just last week. He insisted that I was a political genius. He stated that he had never read any comments as clever or “on the spot” as mine. He talked about how he welcomed criticism as a way to improve his performance in the difficult task of president. He told me to keep up the great work. I was doing a fantastic job! Amazing! Really. He said that.

And the list goes on. But I am too modest to continue.

If you don’t believe me, please contact Ms. Huckabee Sanders. She can explain that it is not a lie to tell a story that isn’t true. It is presidential.

 

 

 

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полезные дураки, (polezniye duraki)

The meeting between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump was a private affair. No cameras. No notes. Two different accounts about what actually happened.

However, while the meeting was in progress, Mr. Trump inadvertently sat on his phone and called my number. So, I was able to record part of the exchange. This is an honest, factual account. Believe me.

Donald: Welcome Mr Putin. It is an honor. A great honor. A fantastic honor for me to meet you. Amazing honor.

Vlad: Stand up. Stand up, please. No need to kneel. It is also a very interesting thing for me to meet you, as well.

Donald: First off, let’s get this election stuff out of the way. You know my fake press is making up stories about you. Awful. Terrible stories. You would never tamper with an election, would you Mr. Putin.

Vlad: Oh, please my good friend. Call me Vlad. Of course not. I never tamper. Never. Fake news, as you say in your very smart twitter writings. Fake news.

Donald: I knew it. I mean you helped me put on a fantastic Miss Universe Pageant. Remember . Best pageant ever. Great looking girls. Young ones. Fantastic ratings. And no one talks about it. CNN , they never mention it. Why are they ignoring it? Fantastic pageant. Amazing.

Vlad: I know. I know. I have the tapes still in the Kremlin. We look every day . We watch you help the girls undress backstage. We have the tapes. Also, of the hotel we have the tapes. Understand?

Donald: This fake news about the election is all Comey’s fault. Nutcase. Fired him. Now I have that other nutcase Mueller to deal with. The elections are a big problem. Do you have that problem with the fake news and elections, Vlad?

Vlad: No , Donnie. We have no problem with elections. It is easy. You just let the people vote . Vote for whoever . Just vote. They vote in Moscow. They vote in Siberia. They vote in Crimea. You know we own Crimea now. Then they send all the ballots to the Kremlin. No problem. We count all the ballots in the Kremlin. Every one. Then there is no mistake to be made. All the ballots are good. A good result. I won again.

Donald: It’s all about security. Good security. Best security. We need a plan for having the best security ever. Best in history. I wanted all the voter’s info in my office. In the White House. All the names. All the Social Security numbers. What party they support. Centralize it. In the White House. Make it easier next time to find those illegal voters. Millions of them.

Vlad: Now , Donnie, let me give you an idea. Maybe you like it, maybe not. Did I tell you we have the tapes of the hotel during the Miss Universe pageant? Oh, good. Now, my idea. We cooperate. We share our voter technology. We do this to prevent any hanky panky in next election, no? Me, personally, I know nothing about computers. I turn on. It works. I surf the net.  We , in Russia , know nothing of what you call it… uh..hacking.

Donald: Me , neither, Vlad. I watch the TV . Great shows. Ever see The Apprentice? Used to be great, now, not so much. Best show ever. I just watch reruns. Got a Tivo? They ruined it. Ruined it. Sad. Very sad.

Vlad: Donnie, focus. focus. We work together, Russians and Americanskys, eh. You give us your classified voter programs, we give you ours. Together we keep them safe. We figure them out together. No more hacking. No more fake news, eh?

Donald: Sounds fantastic ,Vlad. Best system . Cooperation. We need more cooperation with the Russians. I am the president, you know. I can send you any classified information you need. It’s legal. I can do it. Don’t need Congress. Let’s do it.

Vlad: OK. That is good thing we agree on. So, I must go now and talk to spies…er..ambassadors and tell them good news. I give you highest honor of Russian state. The best name ever. I give you name that all Russian people understand , OK.

Donald: Very good meeting Vlad. I accept the honor. Great honor. Best honor ever. Good bye my friend.

Vlad: And good bye to you. I pronounce you the best honor in Russia. I name you the  greatest friend of Russia. You are the biggest полезные дураки, ( polezniye duraki) I have ever known.

End of tape…..

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

 

 

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Who Was That Old Lady, Anyway?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who was that old lady, anyway?

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

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No Surprises Here

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

Hello.

What did you expect? What is new?

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

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

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

This is a man who has the following history:

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

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

Somehow managed to mismanage a casino and actually go bankrupt.

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

Bragged about sexually abusing women.

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

Refused to divulge any Russia dealings in his tax returns.

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

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

Obama was born in Kenya.

Clinton broke the law.

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

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

Obama illegally wiretapped his phones.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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