So, $600,000,000,000 (that’s $600 billion) has gone missing. Well, not really missing. Somebody has it. That’s the money that was earmarked for small businesses to help them get through the covid-19 pandemic.
The money Congress appropriated. Legal. Now, in order to get some of this money a business had to fill out an application. An application which made it clear that this money was not given in secret. No right to privacy. After all, its the taxpayers money you are getting.
Then something strange happened. My good friend, Stephen Mnuchin , Secretary of the Treasury, has decided the American people do not have the right to know what happened to those $600,000,000,000. (That’s billion).It’s secret. Hush. Hush money?
So, I called Steve and asked him about it.
Me: Hello Steve, how’s the trophy wife?
Steve: HA HA , you wish. She’s fine.
Me: What about this $600 billion dollars you gave away. Where did it go?
Steve: None of your business. Top secret. Private. No one needs to know. Trust me. It has all gone to a good cause.. or two.
Me: But shouldn’t the taxpayers know how their money is being spent? You know, oversight? Transparency?
Steve: Joe, Joe, Joe. You crack me up. I am the Secretary of the Treasury. It’s MY money, you silly guy…. (end of conversation)..
So, I say to myself, you know. Steve has the right idea. I think (and this is where I always get into trouble) I might try this in my own house. Not being as frugal as my better half, I have absolutely no savings. But, lucky spouse that I am, Betsy has a few bucks tucked away.
Being a rather charming and eloquent guy, I convinced Betsy to “loan” me $3,000 from her savings. She, of course, wanted to know why I needed the cash. I assured her that there are MANY things that need to be done around the house. And I was planning on putting the money to good use. It is probable that visions of painting rooms, fixing gutters and rewiring the basement flittered through her imagination. Who was I to dismiss such fantasies?
Anyhow. A week later.
Betsy: So, what have you bought with the money I gave you?
Me: Essentials. Things we needed. And I provided. I’m a provider.
Betsy: What, specifically.
Me: All kinds of good things. Things to make our household great again. Things you would approve of. Wonderful things.
Betsy: Look, Buster. I want specifics. What did you spend my 3,000 bucks on? And it better be good.
Me: Well, as my good friend Stephen Mnuchin says, you really don’t need to know. I consider it private . Let’s call it proprietary information. Need to know basis. None of your business, my dear. You are out of the loop, darling…… (end of conversation)…
An hour later, after I had time to staunch the bleeding in my nose and the ice pack on my left eye had melted, I hobbled out to the car. With tears in my eyes I drove back to Golfer’s World and reluctantly returned the $3,000 set of golf clubs and accoutrements.
As I was leaving the store I saw Steve and his wife exiting Alfredo’s Luxury Furs. Now, to be precise it was not his first wife, Kathyrn. Or his second wife, Heather. No. It was his third wife, Louise. And she was sporting a very fine Ocelot skin jacket. They made a very attractive couple.
Me: Hey, Steve, I was just wondering where…. (he interrupted, raising his hand)…
I live in the country in western New York about 5 miles from a small town. There has been some controversy over the Facebook pages for this town. It got so bad that the mayor and others set up a new Facebook page.
What seems to happen on Facebook is that people get progressively ruder and ruder. Folks who would give you the shirt off their backs turn into folks who would shoot you in the back. People who would gladly buy you a drink turn into folks who would poison your coffee. Now why is that?
As in all things, I have my theories. Not original by any means.
One idea is the fact that Facebook is largely anonymous. But that’s not really the case here. Most folks use their real names (I think). I use mine. So, anonymity cannot be the reason.
Another idea is that communication is much more than words. But Facebook, except for the lame emojis, is all words. Words. And not spoken words, but written words. Now, psychologists will tell us that 70-93% of all communication is “non-verbal”. That is, body language. Voice inflection. What a person looks like. Tone of voice. Etc. (Although that number has been challenged as too high by some researchers).
So, if that is true it would mean that the written word is only 30% of what is being communicated. The rest you have to figure out. This may be where the problem rests.
My friends know that I tend to be sarcastic (Tend?) So, when I SPEAK my tone will tell them that. Even when I write my blog or posts people who know me know that I may be ironic or intentionally dramatic. Hyperbolic. Not totally serious. But, someone who only reads the words I write may come away with an entirely different perception. They don’t get the humor. No subtlety.
I mean, just today someone responded to one of my rather feeble attempts at sarcastic humor by calling me (or I should say, “writing to me”) a “fu…ing idiot.”
To be clear. I am not now, nor ever have, claimed I am NOT a “fu…ing idiot.” I could very well be a “fu…ing idiot.” God knows, if you took a poll of the people who know me best, the results may be conclusive in a way that I would not prefer. But whether I am or am not a “fu….ing idiot” is not the point.
The point is that IN PERSON I doubt that anyone would call me a “fu…ing idiot” right to my face. At least not until they got to know me. On Facebook and other discussion sites people often make assumptions beyond the words. And base their responses on preconceived notions, based on , well, “baseless” assumptions.
I will be the first to admit that I am not immune. As a liberal who believes in the necessity of social programs I have a particular point of view. I start from a place based on my own life experiences and analysis of the systems within which we live. I try to use research and information from good sources.
For example, when I worked as a poll watcher I worked with Republicans. We have very different ideas about government, society and the role of government in that society. Yet, we were able to be pleasant, even joking, with each other for a day at the polls. As human beings, face to face, we did not devolve into name-calling “fu…ing idiots”.
Yet, when I get on some of these posts I morph . Dr Jeckel and Mr Hyde. Or is it Heckel and Jeckel? I confuse the two. Reading someone else’s post can immediately put me into antagonistic mode. Arguments ensue. When that happens I notice that each side tries to cherry-pick a point or two that they see as the weakness in the other’s position. A little information is a dangerous thing. Taking a word or brief quote or statistic out of context can be a sword, but not a very useful one. Unless the only goal is to stab.
And that sometimes devolves into insults, open or veiled. Now, I don’t mind if someone IMPLIES that I am stupid. Or uninformed. As long as they can demonstrate they have evidence from a legitimate source to educate me. And as long as they are open to my evidence to the contrary.
This is where a breakdown occurs. A matter of sources. When people are getting their “information” from biased or questionable sources it means communication of other viewpoints becomes near impossible. I admit my main sources of information are the old stand bys. The New York Times. The Washington Post. The New Yorker. The Atlantic. Why these? Because all these sources have strong reputations for properly vetting information before they print it. That doesn’t mean they don’t make mistakes. But it means that as sources go you can be assured that there was no rush to print. And you can assume multiple sources for stories.
I had an online argument with a lady who simply said that she would not read the New York Times since they were not trustworthy. OK. Then we really can’t talk, because there is no common ground of evidence to discuss. (I want to make a distinction between the NY Times news and the NY Times EDITORIAL board. The editorial board tends to be liberal, no doubt. But the editorial board has no influence on the news sections).
So, can we discuss important issues on Facebook in a civil manner? I don’t know. But I do know that Facebook has a handy feature called “blocking”. I have blocked a couple people recently. Not because I disagree with them. Not because I don’t like their ideas. Not because they are always wrong and I am always right. I blocked them because they personally attacked me and one called me a “fu…ing idiot”.
And calling me a “fu…ing idiot” is reserved for family and friends.
I admit I did not know that the US had at least 10 military bases dedicated to traitors. 10 bases paid for by taxpayers of the USA dedicated to men who fought to destroy the USA. Learn something new every day.
Part 1. The list of LOSERS:
Beauregard … he was a Confederate leader who, after the war called for equal rights for blacks. That made him unique among the former Confederates honored by forts.
Benning… he wrote a speech explaining that the reason for the secession was to preserve slavery.
Bragg… known as the worst commander on either side of the war.
Gordon… known as one of the probable founders of the KKK in Georgia.
AP Hill… suffered from VD. Demanded to be buried standing up.
Hood… spoke about the “invincibility ” of the Confederate military.
Lee… opposed giving blacks the vote after the war.
Pickett.. his charge into union lines goes down as one of the stupidest military maneuvers in US history. A charge he watched from the safety of the rear.
Polk… an ordained bishop. Injured when the massive cannon named after his wife “Lady Polk” exploded when tested.
Rucker… only major commander who managed to get captured by the enemy.
Part 2. Mr Trump objects to renaming these forts after loyal American generals and soldiers. Men and women who fought in WW2, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Plenty of American soldiers who covered themselves with honor fighting for the USA, not against it.
Since Mr Trump seems enamored of America’s enemies who we have defeated over the years, I suggest we rename some of the other forts to honor those who fought against the ideas of freedom for all.
Rename West Point (NY) to Fort Benedict Arnold.
Rename Fort Grant (AZ) to Fort Adolph Hitler.
Rename Fort Nathan Hale (CT) to Fort Himmler.
Rename Fort Sherman (ID) to Fort Ho Chi Minh.
Rename Fort Sheridan (IL) to Fort Putin.
Rename Fort Defiance (KS) to Fort Saddam Hussein.
Rename Fort Sullivan (ME) to Fort bin Laden.
Rename Fort McHenry (MD) to Fort Goebbels.
Rename Fort Revere (MA) to Fort Kim Jung Un
And, of course, Rename Fort Washington (NH) to Fort Donald J Trump
Do you have what the white nationalists call Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS)? The ever present depression caused by having the mentally ill guy in the White House? Do you suffer daily anxiety wondering if your fellow citizens are really stupid or racist enough to vote the conman back into office?
I feel your pain. But we all need a break. My solution?
A national movement to make Tuesdays free of anything Trump.
Trump Free Tuesdays.
While Fox news drones a constant approval of the idiot other networks, like CNN and MSNBC beat a drum of disapproval. Either way Trump wins. It’s Trump. Trump. Trump. 24/7.
No matter if you think he is god’s own gift to America or a two bit conman drowning in self-pity. Matters not. He makes for “good press”. So, he wins. The old marketer’s saying: There is no such thing as bad publicity.
This constant barrage of tweets, photo ops, tough guy talk and all around bullshit will have an effect on your psyche. Time to take break.
God created the heaven, Earth, day and night, all the animals and the entire universe in 6 days. On the 7th day she realized she had unintentionally created Donald Trump. (Something to do with a slip up when creating a snake and a slug) So, even god took a break. She rested. She cried. Then rested.
So, let’s turn off Donald Trump on Tuesdays. If the news comes on and mentions his name. Mute it. Or don’t turn on the news at all. If you are on twitter, don’t tweet. If your friends post an article about him on Fakebook. Ignore it. If you see a “Trump 2020” flag flying your area (Yep, I see them) keep your eyes on the road.
Give yourself and your psyche a break. Take Tuesday off. And remember, Trump is one of god’s creations. Forgive her. We all make mistakes. When you are god you make whoppers!
Of course, nothing hurts the mentally ill guy more than being ignored. He demands to be noticed. He wants to be in your head. So, let’s take back Tuesdays and make that day Trump free. A day we can enjoy. A day to imagine what it was like BC (before conman). A day to see only the brighter side of life.
Ok. It’s time for the south to finally admit the war is over.
For years the defenders of the old confederacy have clung to the notion that the war is raging on. The heroes of the old confederacy are still memorialized by statues and revisionist history. Some still fly the flag of the losers.
Even here in the north I see a few folks proudly fly the flag of racism. The stars and bars. A symbol of racism. They fly it proudly.
But yesterday Irene Triplett finally passed away. She died in her nursing home in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. Irene Triplett was the last American getting a pension from the Civil War. Yes, the Civil War.
HUH? A pension from the Civil War. Yes. The US hands out well over $40,000,000,000 (billion) dollars each year in pensions to the survivors, widows and children of war veterans. Veterans of the Vietnam War, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Korea, WW2 and even the Spanish-American war.
Until this month the US taxpayers were sending Irene Triplett the sum of $73.13 every month. To honor the service of her father in the Civil War. Yepper, it is an odd set of circumstances. She is the daughter sired by him to his second wife. He was 84 years old. What a man!! And because of her disabilities she qualified, even as an adult, for a lifetime of support from the feds.
Her father was a southern soldier boy who saw the light and defected to the Union. He did so a few days before Gettysburg. Good timing. Later he joined the Union company of “Kirk’s Raiders” and fought for the winning side. Hence the pension.
So let Irene Triplett rest in peace. She is the last direct link to the war to save the Union. The last link to the defeat of the stars and bars and the end of slavery.
And across the south the monuments to the traitors , like Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson and others , have been dismantled. Torn down. Placed in storage. Confined to the dustbin of history, like the slave owners who wanted to destroy the Union.
Of course racism lingers on. It is a long battle. One I won’t see the end of. But the tide of history seems to be drowning the racist, the flag wavers of the old south and the modern day alt-righters.
Irene Triplett can rest in peace. The war is over. Some folks just have not figured it out.
Once again we see the shock and horror that a black man has been murdered in broad daylight by someone legally hired and empowered by the state. YAWN.
Once again we hear the calls for peace and tranquility. Calls for “law and order”. Calls for patience . The questioning of “How did we come to this?” YAWN
The US did not “come to this”. This is who we are. As a nation. Our holy and worshiped founding fathers made it clear in the Constitution. Black men and women are 3/5th of a person. It was true then, it is true now.
Article 1, section 2 … Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.
Of course “all other persons” were the slaves. So the southern states could claim the black men, women and children were property. And then claim that those very same men , women and children must be counted as 3/5 of a person for purposes of representation in the House of Representatives.
So, at the outset of the Civil War almost 4,000,000 slaves added 2,400,000 “persons” to the total population of the slave states. Giving the slave states representation in Congress far beyond the actual number of “citizens”.
From day one black people in the United States have been considered less than “full” people. And that is the bare truth of the foundations of this nation. Like it or not.
So, when the KKK brutalized black Americans after the racists lost the Civil War, it should come as no surprise. And when Jim Crow kept blacks from getting uppity in the south, that should come as no surprise. And when black soldiers returning from WW2 were refused service at restaurants and denied the right to vote, that should come as no surprise.
What should be surprising is the strength of the myth. The myth that the US was founded on principles of freedom, democracy, blah,blah,blah. That has never been and never was the reality. It was and is “fake news”.
Now, you may say, but what about the Voting Rights Act and other Civil Rights acts? Don’t they show progress? To that I respond thusly.
If the US was founded and grew on principles of equality, why was there a need for a Voting Rights Act? Or special Civil Rights acts? Why did we need special laws for black men and women just to try to give them the same rights the rest of society enjoys? In the “land of the free” why was it necessary to write special laws giving “freedom” to citizens who should have already had it?
And, as we have seen, the Supreme Court has overturned even those laws. Since the Voting Rights Act was rescinded how many states immediately took steps to suppress and deny votes to black citizens? How many blacks were purged illegally from the voting rolls in Florida in 2000, giving the election to GW Bush? How many were purged in North Carolina and Georgia in 2016?
But the myth lives on. It is a nice myth. A comfortable myth. A myth that tries to place the suppression and murder of black Americans in a certain context. That context is this: The murder and suppression of blacks in the US is an aberration. A blip on the screen of democracy. A pimple on the otherwise perfect face of equality.
I disagree. Racism has been at the core of the American experience. The very core of the legal system. It is as old as the US Constitution and may never be erased. Racism is as American as violence. Both go hand in hand.
It is not just the south. In the north as well racism is a core value. Highways were built around cities effectively cutting off black neighborhoods from white ones. The attempt at segregation was halted by the practices of the banking industry. Schools in NY, for example, are among the most highly segregated in the nation.
So, let’s stop pretending. The 3/5 solution is still with us. Black men and women are not valued unless they can sing or bounce a basketball. Racism is not a southern phenomenon or an aberration. It is what America was founded on.
Is there a “solution”? There can be no solution when those in power do not see a problem. Or identify the problem as a “black” problem. Just another example of “uppity” Negroes not knowing their place. It has always been thus in America and I suspect may always be so.
I know if I were a black person in America I would go nowhere without being armed. I would suspect every police officer of being a potential killer. I would shoot first and ask questions later. I would know, not just claim, that my life is in danger every day. In fact, I remain amazed at the patience and willingness of most black Americans to work “within the system” when the system is so obviously corrupt. I would not have that patience.
Is there a “solution’? Not until we confront and destroy the myth. The myth of the “founding fathers” and the myth of “democracy” and the myth of “equal justice under the law”.
People die easy. A bullet . A knee to the neck. A chokehold. Myths are not so easy to kill. The 3/5 solution is on display every day.
A black guy in Minnesota is suspected of passing a counterfeit $20 bill. Did he do it? Who knows? Did he KNOWINGLY pass a bad bill? Who knows?At any rate he was tracked down and arrested. Handcuffed. Unarmed. Did not resist arrest. Walked off quietly with cops to their patrol car. Was placed on the ground, handcuffed and helpless and murdered. A man put his knee with full body weight on his neck as he plead for his life. Four cops watch him die. Business as usual.
A black kid is walking home in his own neighborhood in Florida. Eating his Skittles. Unarmed. Minding his own business. A guy follows him. A guy stalks him. The guy who is following him feels his life is in danger . So he continues to follow him. They clash. The unarmed black kid is shot to death. The jury acquits. Business as usual.
A black man on the East coast is selling cigarettes. Illegal. You can’t sell cigarettes on the street. The police come to get him. Drag him to the ground. Choke him. He pleads for his life. They kill him. They watch him die. Business as usual.
A little black boy in Cleveland is playing in the park outside his home. He is playing cops and robbers. He has a toy gun. The police pull up in a car. Start shooting. Kill him. His sister tries to get to him to comfort him. The police keep her away. They stand around and watch him bleed to death. Business as usual.
A black man is jogging on a public street in Georgia. He is hunted down by 3 white men and shot to death. The local police and district attorney find no reason to charge these men with a crime. He might have been a criminal. Maybe. Business as usual.
The murder of black citizens is not surprising. It is business as usual.
Business as usual, part 2. Imagine this. I bet you can’t.
A white woman is suspected of passing a bad $20 bill. The police arrest her and kneel on her neck. Killing her.
A white kid is walking in his own neighborhood. A black man feels threatened so he kills him. The black man is acquitted by the jury.
A white man is selling cigarettes illegally. Four black policemen drag him to the ground and choke him to death.
A little white boy is playing cops and robbers in the park near his home. A police car with a black cop pulls up and shoots the boy, killing him.
A white woman is jogging down the street. Three black men think she is a possible burglar. They kill her.
Can you imagine? The death penalty.
Passing a $20 bill. Walking in your own neighborhood. Selling cigarettes. Playing in your park. Jogging.
If you are black, those activities will get you the death penalty. Business as usual.
When I taught high school, like almost all high school teachers, I needed to supplement my income. Like many teachers I volunteered to coach a variety of sports. I say “volunteered” because often the hourly wage was pretty minimal. But, still, it helped pay the bills.
One of the key ideas I tried to impart to the kids was that we all make mistakes. You will hit the rim and miss the shot. You will take a third strike instead of swinging the bat. You will commit a foul in the penalty area. You will simply do the wrong thing. Sometimes physically. Sometimes mentally.
Micheal Jordan, perhaps the best basketball player ever to walk onto a court, missed about 50% of his shots. He seemed to make the shot at the crucial time, but he missed plenty as well. He failed half the time.
I saw the major icon of soccer, the great Pele, in person in Rochester, New York in the 1970s. He was playing for the New York Cosmos. Pele had his shot stopped by the Rochester Lancers keeper on the modified penalty kick. He walked up to the keeper and shook his hand.
Bottom line. Everyone fails sometimes. The point is not the failure, but what happens next.
I tried to impress on my teams that they needed to forget, immediately forget, any mistake they had made. Forget about it. Then go on and do what you are supposed to do. Get back on track. We can analyze later. In the middle of the game is no time to feel bad or become dislodged from the task at hand.
Maria Jones (not her real name) was my best goal scorer. On Tuesday she missed a penalty kick that would have tied the match. We lost. As fate would have it, on Friday, the next match, we were again awarded a penalty kick. The team looked over to the bench. Who should take the kick? I yelled out that Maria should. She put it in the back of the net and we won the game (I think we won 2 that year). I knew her mental state. I knew that she was able to forget about it and get the job done.
Which brings us to May 25, month number 5 of the Covid-19 pandemic. A lot of people have screwed up. Made mistakes. Done the wrong thing. Governor Cuomo waited too long to institute stay at home orders. Lives were lost. Mayor DeBlasio of New York city was even slower to respond. The Trump administration was unprepared and waited way too long to close borders. And coordinate a national response.
We could go on and on and second guess what SHOULD have happened. A recent study shows that over 30,000 lives could have been saved if the USA had just acted one week earlier to shut down non-essential services. Mistakes were made. Mistakes are always made.
As Judge Judy says: Coulda, shoulda, woulda.
It matters not. What does matter is the now. What are we doing now? It’s never too late to act. The game is hardly over.
We need a national response. We need states to coordinate. We have Texas and Florida and Georgia and California all going their own way. The team, which should be working together, is breaking apart. Where is the coach?We need national, enforceable guidelines for essential and non-essential services. We need help for the 40,000,000 plus unemployed. We need testing. The lack of focus is causing us to make the same mistakes again. And again.
We need to move on. Ignore what happened in January of March or early May. Where are we now? Where do we need to go. What comes next? What’s the plan?
Mr. Trump, you missed the penalty kick. But the game is not over. Place the ball carefully on the penalty spot. Take a deep breath. You missed it last time. Forget about it. Step up and blast it into the back of the net.
I was watching an interview with Joe Biden on MSNBC last night. Also, on the show was the Georgian Democrat, Stacy Abrams. There seems to be a push by some on the left to make her Biden’s vice presidential candidate. That, in my opinion, would be a massive mistake. She is a nice enough lady but lacks the experience and recognition that Biden needs in a running mate.
So, I got to thinking. Always a unique and dangerous activity.
Want to watch Rush Limbaugh’s massive cranium blown apart like a giant pumpkin after a meeting with a shotgun blast?
How would you like to see Sean Hannity whining and crying (well, that’s nothing new) like a 3 year old as his noggin develops nodules and the bile spills out?
How about seeing the three Fox and Friends taking turns running in circles and jumping up and down like Mexican jumping beans (ILLEGAL Mexican jumping beans) while their noodles wilt like ice cubes in the sun.
Picture Lindsey Graham pouting, shouting, pounding, sounding, kazooming and glooming while his cranium is crushed like an anvil dropping on Wiley Coyote . Like that picture?
How about sitting back in your easy chair watching the Tweeter-in-Chief’s “biggest brain in the world” implode, explode, overload and miggletoad like a rotting tomato in the claws and jaws of a hungry squirrel ? Totally obliterated. OUCH.
Want to see that? Want to see unbridled panic? Want to see a political party and news network brought to it’s knees slobbering and babbling about a series of non sequitor non sequitors?
Easy. Joe Biden should select Michelle Obama as his running mate.
In a poll in 2018, Michelle Obama placed second among voters as the person they would want to see as the Democratic nominee. Only Joe Biden did better. Yes, even though she was not running and had no intention of running she placed better than Sanders, Harris, Warren, Booker…you name them.
In poll after poll, national and international, Michelle Obama is rated as either near the top or the most popular woman. Most respected. Classiest.
Imagine a campaign in which Joe Biden, Michelle Obama and Barack Obama are all in the Democratic limelight. Imagine the right wing misery to see one of the most popular former presidents and one of the most popular females in the US joining forces with Biden to win the election. Imagine how much excitement would be generated by this combination.
Imagine Michelle Obama, an advocate of decency and women’s rights, going up against Pence, Trump’s wooden soldier. Discussing voting rights, women’s rights, health care and general competency. She would have him for lunch. As a salad. Easy on the French dressing.
Obama -Biden won in 2012 and 2016. Biden-Obama can win, and I think win easily, in 2020. The Trump team knows it. There is no one they fear more than the Obamas, Barack and Michelle. The models for what a president and first family SHOULD be. (The reason for the Obamagate fantasy is precisely because they fear Barack and Michelle so much)
What a contrast that would be. Biden-Obama vs. Trump-Pence. What a contrast in the area of decency. Competency. Empathy. Experience. But best of all….
Just imagine the fun of watching the exploding heads on the right wing. KABOOM!
“A new report claims President Trump and members of his coronavirus task force are pushing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to modify its coronavirus death-toll methodology in a way that could lead to fewer deaths being counted.
The report from The Daily Beast Wednesday cited five anonymous administration officials working on the federal government’s response to the pandemic. The outlet reports Trump has privately questioned the number of COVID-19 deaths in the United States, which topped 80,000 this week, and suggested they may be incorrect or inflated by the current methodology. ”
Over the past weeks we see members of the “real news” (right wing ) questioning the reporting of Covid-19 deaths. On one hand, most experts are convinced that the numbers, as reported are low. Probably a lot more than the 85,000 reported deaths. People have died at home or people died before the the virus deaths were being counted. Nebraska has solved this problem by refusing to release the actual numbers of deaths. A truly Trumpian solution.
But the Trump position is that the numbers of deaths have been inflated. Trump’s political opponents have been using the death numbers to make him look bad. Many of these people who are reported as victims of Covid-19 are actually victims of other illnesses. It’s all a plot !
Based on this new interpretation of data it is time to look at other statistics and see if they have also been misinterpreted by the so-called experts. To investigate this I called my good friend Barney Flopbottom. Barney is a self-educated statistician who has never been tainted by a college education. He does have a degree in Statistical Science from Trump University. It cost him $25,000. But Barney says it was money well spent. Where else can you get a degree without attending a class?
So, I called Barney to discuss the nature of statistical data.
Me: Hi ,Barney, how you doing?
Barney: Well, I have a temperature of 105 and have been coughing up blood for 3 days. But those are just numbers. I’m ok.
Me: So, Barney, you have said in the past that gun death statistics, put out by the federal government, are wrong. Can you explain?
Barney: Well, not only are they wrong, they do not exist. We have no gun deaths in the US.Never did, never will. Same is true of the coronavirus. No one has died form the virus. Zero.
Me: Well, what about the murders of little children at Sandy Hook, or the shootings at Columbine or the Las Vegas shootings?
Barney: What about them? None of these were caused by guns. It is a hoax. A Democratic hoax. A libtard hoax.
Me: Well, we saw pictures of the deaths. We saw the children being murdered. In fact about 30,000-35,000 Americans die each years from gun violence. That means since the terror attacks on 9/11, over 600,000 American men, women and children are now dead because they have been shot with a gun.
Barney: HA! What a bunch of nonsense. Just like the fake numbers of Covid-19 deaths. The fact is , not a single man, woman or child has been killed by a gun or by the virus. It’s all fake news. Put out by people who hate Trump.
Me: Are you saying that 600,000 Americans were not killed by guns? Or 85,000 Americans have not been killed by the virus?
Barney: Exactly. Let me explain. Let’s say you were a 7 year old at Sandy Hook. going to school. Happy to be with your friends and teachers. A sweet little 7 year old. Now, some guy comes in with an AR-15 and shoots a bunch of kids and one or maybe 17 of the bullets hits you. Did the gun kill you? NO Did the bullet kill you? NO. What happens is this. The bullet enters, let’s say, your little beating heart. Now, the heart stops pumping blood so you die. It was the HEART that killed you, not the bullet. Or if the bullet hits your brain it is the brain damage that kills you, not the bullet!
Same with the coronavirus. The virus does not kill anyone. Use grandma as an example. Let’s say the virus enters grandma’s lungs and she stops breathing. It is the ABSENCE of air in the lungs that kills grandma. So, stop blaming guns and the virus. Stop blaming Trump.
Me: So all the data on coronavirus deaths is wrong?
Barney: Amen. We need to redo all the statistics. Not a single death of the 85,000 has been caused by the virus. The cause of death should be: “Lung disease” or “heart failure” or “unknown” or “act of God”. It’s all a plot to make Trump look bad. Time for the CDC to put out new, accurate numbers. ZERO.
Me: Well, Barney, I have to admit. It is hard to argue with that type of logic. I guess the numbers are all wrong. So, does this mean, what I think it means? We need to go back and change some of our historical misconceptions? For example, does this mean that the Holocaust deniers are all correct? That the Nazis did not kill 6,000,000 people?
Barney: Yep. Exactly. We need to rewrite the history books. The Nazis did not kill millions of Jews. That is just another example of fake news. It was a lack of food that killed some of them. Starvation. For others it was because they were breathing Zyklon B gas. Lung failure. Others died from exposure to the cold. Hypothermia. Isn’t it time we stopped trying to make Hitler look bad?
We hear from the right wing media and our mentally ill president that the country must “reopen”. The shutdown of the states must end. Based on that we see hair-brained gun toting “patriots” take to the Michigan capital because their “freedoms” have been taken away. We see protests in other states because people are asked to wear masks or do social distancing. Open up America !!
On my planet, called Earth, there has never been a “shutdown”of America. There has been a “Stay at Home Please” order by New York and other states. Stay at home except for essential travel. But not a complete shutdown. Not even close.
You want to see a “shutdown’? I refer you to the Warsaw Ghetto. Or the London blitz. Or the concentration camps of Pol Pot. Those were shutdowns.
Since early March life has changed drastically. But we have never been deprived of essential services. Only the extras. we have never been completely “shutdown” as some might suggest.
We go to Aldis once every couple weeks and stock up on groceries. We wear our masks and Aldis practices social distancing in their store. We buy 2 weeks worth of food and go on our merry way. No shutdown.
This week I had to have my snow tires taken off and summer tires put on my car, along with an oil change. Made an appointment. Wore my mask, as did MOST, but not all of the dealership personnel. No shutdown.
Next week I am taking another car in for the annual state mandated inspection. No shutdown.
The local grocer is open. As is the liquor store. Garbage pick up continues. No shutdown.
When we are too lazy to cook Luigis pizza and the Main Moon restaurants are open for take outs. No shutdown.
Need a prescription filled or some Pepcid AC? The Naples pharmacy is open. No shutdown.
If the weather ever warms up I can golf. As long as I maintain social distancing. When I golf alone I notice my scores improve. No one to correct memory . No shutdown.
Next month my annual urology appointment with Dr. Joseph is going to be by phone. OK, I admit having a large finger stuck up my ass may be the highlight of my year, but I can do that myself at home. So, nothing missed there. No shutdown.
And even many non-essentials are readily available, delivered efficiently by our Postal Service, which for some reason, the GOP is trying to destroy. No shutdown.
So, what IS shutdown? Nail salons. Tattoo parlors. Seating in restaurants. Bars. Gun shops. Beaches. And parades. No Memorial Day parades. And sporting events. And visiting relatives in nursing homes.
All essential and many non-essential services are and always have been available.
So, why the whining? Because I am supposed to wear a mask to help prevent the spread of Covid-19? Because my “freedom” to sit at the end of the bar and drunkenly philosophize about the liberals trying to take away my freedom has been curtailed? Because I can’t add another AR-15 to my collection of manly toys? Because I need a new “Live Free or Die” tattoo?
Much of our economy, it seems, is based on non-essentials. On extras. Toys.
Feed a three year old and she is happy. Wash her. Take care of her and she will be healthy. But take away her favorite toy and she will whine and cry and blubber.
Welcome to the “shutdown” in America. A few children can’t have their toys. WAAAAHHHH.
When most of a population is immune to an infectious disease, this provides indirect protection—or herd immunity (also called herd protection)—to those who are not immune to the disease.
For example, if 80% of a population is immune to a virus, four out of every five people who encounter someone with the disease won’t get sick (and won’t spread the disease any further). In this way, the spread of infectious diseases is kept under control. Depending how contagious an infection is, usually 70% to 90% of a population needs immunity to achieve herd immunity.” (from the John Hopkins School of Public Health website).
So, being exposed to a virus and surviving tends to give a person immunity from further problems caused by that same virus. And when enough people are immune, they stay immune. The population is no longer affected by the disease. That is the key point. They can be exposed over and over and the disease will have no effect on them.
Now, let’s take that principle and apply it to evidence and facts.
I was struck by the few hundred Michiganders who intimidated the Michigan legislature this week. They were carrying guns and screaming. Some had masks. Most did not. They were mad because the Michigan governor told them to engage in reasonable behavior in the midst of a pandemic.
It was a herd. A herd of ignorance. A herd threatening violence. A herd immune from reason.
We have seen over the past 20 years or so a development of herd immunity in the area of facts and evidence. Fox news and right wing websites, along with help from Russian agents, have spread the idea that evidence and facts are not evidence and facts. Real evidence is “fake news”.
I have relatives who have inoculated themselves from facts and evidence. They watch a steady stream of Fox news, filled with distortion and misinformation. Over time, this steady stream of distortion has made them immune from contracting the “virus” of evidence and facts. It has made them immune from reality.
Like immunity from smallpox or the flu, Fox news has prevented real facts or evidence from taking hold in their bodies. If some real news does seep through it is quickly attacked by anti-bodies. So, we can quantify the evidence that the US government has failed miserably to deal with the Covid-19 crisis, but that evidence is quickly dispelled. Since the facts cannot be refuted, the information is attacked as fake and sent out of the body. The anti-bodies do their job. They destroy reality.
So, according to Fox news, the crisis is the fault of the Democrats, the press, the Chinese, the liberals. And when that does not work, the claim is made that it’s not so bad, etc. While over 1,000,000 Americans are infected with the virus, that fact is attacked and minimized. So what? What is a 1,000,000 compared to the need to keep our economy going. We have 325,000,0000 people, we can afford to lose a few million. Etc.
Looking at the few hundred gun toting imbeciles attacking the Michigan governor, it is clear that they are immune from reality. Herd immunity. In their herd facts and evidence are attacked and destroyed. The inoculation of Fox news and other right wing media has destroyed the capacity of evidence and facts to enter their worldview.
Which is why no amount of facts, evidence or common sense will ever get through to these folks. They are beyond facing reality. They have constructed a safe place in which to live. In their minds. Try as much as you want to use reason or facts. It will do you no good. These people are beyond hope. They will continue to reject evidence and facts from their bodies. They are immune. They have joined the Fox herd and from that herd there is no return.
In January, 2018 Mr Trump complained about the “sh*thole countries” of Africa and the Caribbean. He didn’t like people coming from those countries. And he did not like the way those countries were being run. Furthermore, there was no way Mr Trump was going to help these countries. They are on their own.
Now, no one really identified the characteristics of a sh*thole country. Of course they are all black, but the administration would deny that. Nothing to do with skin color, everything to do with how a country is governed.
So, in that sense what Mr Trump was really talking about was sh*thole governments.
I did some research and discovered some universally agreed on characteristics of a sh*thole country.
First, a sh*thole country has a government not elected by the people. The leaders come to power with support of a minority, usually a violent minority. And once in power they use that power to expand their power. They pack the courts so any actions they take will have a veneer of “legality”. They harass or jail or murder their political enemies. They manipulate the process so it seems democratic but actually seeks to minimize the voices of people.
Second, in a sh*thole country the leadership tends to be family-based. In other words, family members and close personal friends of the leader are placed in power. As a result, the economic interests of a small group of people become the main focus of the national government. Any person of integrity is weeded out and a chorus of sycophants sings in the choir.
Third, in a sh*thole country any crisis or potential crisis is politicized. Any crisis is the fault of the enemy. The enemy could be any opposing political groups. Different ethnic groups. Outside groups. No crisis is ever the responsibility of the ruling family. The ruling family always is able to identify the “other” and then take actions accordingly. Never at fault. And to criticize the ruling family is considered anti-patriotic.
Fourth, in a sh*thole country there are systemic failures in a number of areas. Since the wealth of the nation is controlled for the benefit of the few, it is inevitable that there will be shortages in key areas. For example, many people rely on private charity for food. Many people do not have access to quality health care or insurance. Unions are crushed or criminalized so workers cannot get good wages or benefits. In a sh*thole country working people live hand to mouth, if at all.
Fifth, in a sh*thole country there comes a time when it is laid bare. A real crisis hits. Something the government cannot control by propaganda. Something outside the ruling family’s ability to control. An invasion. A terror attack. A pandemic.
When that happens the people of the sh*thole country are left to their own devices. There is no planning or attempts to help them. The ruling family and friends blame the people themselves. In a sh*thole country the government takes no responsibility for the welfare of the people. Because the ruling family is there only to raid the treasury, not govern for the common good.
So, when Mr Trump says he will not help any sh*thole country he is telling the truth. For once. If you live in a sh*thole country you are on your own. Get used to it.
Evolution of viruses and the susceptibility of the human body to the same has given us lemons. Kind of sour. But, that’s what we are stuck with. So, here are some ideas on how to make lemonade. Things you never had “time” for. Before the virus slowed us all down.
1.Plant a victory garden. If you have the room, plant your vegetables. If you never planted vegetables it is not hard to do. You can find all kinds of information about soil and weather and pests and watering and all that stuff on line. Or. You can throw some seeds in some halfway decent soil and get pretty much the same results. Plants are tough. Notice how those cracks in your sidewalk get quickly filled with green growing things?
If you are lucky enough to have land, dig it up. All you need is a couple inches of topsoil. Potatoes will grown anywhere. I have grown them in straw. Radishes are easy and fast. Nothing like a fresh radish plopped into your salad. Lettuce. Pole beans (got a fence?). Peas. Carrots (need good loamy soil for those) . All easily grown from seed . And seeds last for years, no matter what the packing date says on the package.
If you don’t have a lot of land, hell, dig up some lawn. A nice little victory garden will keep you busy a few hours a week and reap some tasty rewards.
2. Bills. Bills. Bills. How many years have you been promising yourself to organize those bills. Find the folders of old papers and revenue sheets. Pile em on the kitchen table . And sort. Now, what do you really need? Time to throw out the receipt from the microwave you bought in 2009. How many old automobile insurance proofs do you need? Those 1999 bank statements are useless, everything is on line now. Tax returns? Do you really think the IRS is going to audit you for the $33.46 you claimed for your mother-in-law’s soft toilet seat ? What about the IRA and pension statements. A waste of space. Now is the time to sweep out the paperwork. Join the e-age.
3. OK, set aside two days and let’s look into your closet. Begin with the two hole on the underwear rule. Any underwear with more than two holes ( I am not talking about your waist and legs) goes into the bin. Are you somehow emotionally attached to those thread bare heels in half of your socks? Dump ’em. And really, how many sweatshirts can you wear at once? Two is plenty. Now, about those shirts. The flowery ones. It’s not 1973 any longer. And the turtle necks? Send them Moscow Mitch. Well, if you really want to feel bad, try on ALL those pants you’ve been saving. Notice how 90% of them have shrunk in the waist over the past 8 years. I guess they don’t make em like they used to! Oh, you are waiting until you diet kicks in and you can wear them again? Note to self: Buy the Brooklyn Bridge.
4. Collections. Somewhere in the attic or garage or at the bottom of a closet is one of your prized collections. Dust it off. Peruse it. Enjoy it. I have an old coin collection I started in 1959. With one folder for pennies. Over the years I have added nickels, dimes and quarters. Time to catch up with all those years of blank holes to be filled. Maybe you have stamps. Old newspaper clippings. Photographs. Toys. National Geographics. Snails. Stones. Whatever. Time to sit down, handle the merchandise and enjoy it. Who knows, you might be re-inspired to take up the hobby again.
5. Reading. All those unread books on the shelf. Or the half read ones. The classics that you always wanted to read. Ulysses (I got through 20 pages and was so confused I gave up). How about a really great translation of the Iliad or Odyssey (I recommend Fagles, it’s pure poetry). The Federalist Papers. Or maybe some light science fiction. Any MAD magazines collecting dust? Escape fiction. Serious non-fiction. You have been saying you haven’t the time. Well, now’s your chance.
6. Baking. Cooking. All of a sudden I smell fresh bread in the house. And chocolate chip cookies. And new recipes. Spicy Indian food. Chinese stir frys in the wok. Homemade pizza. Rediscover what it was like before you got addicted to convenience foods. Stews. Stroganoffs. Potato pancakes. Never had time before. Now, no rush.
6. Quiet. Just quiet. Meditation if you want to call it that. A little yoga. Make up your own moves. A little chanting. OOOOOMMMMMM…OOOOOMMMMMM. Try not to rile up the dogs. Or the spouse. Just 10 minutes of quiet time. Every day. Just for you. You’ve got the time.
The virus has given us lemons. Make lemonade. Add sugar. Sweeten to taste.
When Bill Clinton was running for president against George Bush 1 the economy was not in great shape. Now Clinton and Bush had divergent ideas about the role of government, voting rights, social issues, etc. But Clinton’s key adviser told him to minimize those issues.
He had one phrase that he reminded Clinton of every day.
“It’s the Economy, Stupid”.
Talk about the economy. The failure of the Reagan-Bush supply side economics. Emphasize the economy. The economy. The economy.
It was good advice. Clinton won and by the end of his second term the US was actually paying DOWN the national debt. That ended, of course, when the Supreme Court told Florida to stop counting votes and installed Bush 2 as POTUS. He went right back to supply side and, well, you know the rest.
Now, we are engaged in a real crisis, not just an economic downturn. In fact, The MIPOTUS (Mentally Ill President of the United States) inherited the best economy since the end of World War 2. The crisis we face is a pandemic, not an economic crash.
Our current person in charge (I cannot force myself to call him a “leader”) has spent the last 3 months concerned about one thing and one thing only. The economy. No, I take that back. He has been concerned with the Stock Market. Period. Which is part of the economy, but hardly the entire economy. He has identified himself as the man behind the Obama boom he inherited. As the man who created a great economy from nothing. A legend in his own mind.
To such an extent that he and his sycophants have all but ignored the pandemic. We can easily go back to his various statements about how it was a hoax or a plot or was being overblown by the “fake news”. As long as the stock market looked good, he was unconcerned.
February . We have it under control. It will disappear. It will be like a miracle.
Now, due to the inaction and hubris of those in charge, we see the economy on the verge of a major shutdown. It is temporary, of course, because it is caused by a medical emergency, not an economic one.
But still, every chance he gets, the man in the bubble talks about how we had the greatest economy on Earth, until this pandemic hit. There will be plenty of time to dissect all the incompetency and corruption that has led us to this point. And there is plenty.
But what needs to be done now (actually 2 months ago) is an honest, open explanation of what the government is actually doing to help the states and cities fight this war. Instead of vague comments about how he is doing a great job, perhaps listing specific, reliable actions he is taking at the national level would help ease some of the fear. Of course, the problem is that the federal government is doing very little. The anti-big government mentality still holds sway. Let the states worry about it, not our problem.
To Mr. Trump and his cadre of ass kissers: It’s not the economy, stupid.
It’s a pandemic. It’s a national emergency. If you cannot handle it perhaps now is the time to announce you will not seek re-election. Then, perhaps, you can sit quietly in Mar-a-Lago and let the experts take over. The “best of your ability” is not good enough. It’s killing people.
In my over 30 years of teaching I worked under a number of superintendents. Some were hands on, others were aloof and undemanding. Some were pretty smart. Some were not so bright. All were political animals.
The superintendents remained superintendents by pleasing the school board. The school board, unfortunately, was elected from the community. Which means many of them had one issue. The plumbing contractor who wanted to keep and expand sports programs. The parent who had her kid in Special Education was determined to see that those programs were expanded. The used car salesman who thought teachers’ salaries were way too high. The nurse who was determined to see better health education in the schools. The stay at home mom who bemoaned the fact that organized prayer had been banished by the courts. And once in awhile an educator someone manged his or her way onto the board.
This conglomeration of non-professionals made it fairly easy for a conman to make his way into a position of power. When an opening occurred he would swoop down with his overblown resume and slick his way into a job. School boards are pretty easy to con.
I am thinking of a conman superintendent I worked under who I shall call Georgy. Georgy had the gift of gab. A master of the bull. An artist with an ability to speak for half an hour and say nothing. He had slimed his way into the job and proceeded to remake the school district into his personal monarchy.
He started by convincing the school board to build him a brand new headquarters overlooking the nearby lake, away from all the school buildings. At great expense. Keep in mind that this school district would fight tooth and nail every year to keep salaries down and cut corners. With about a 30% of students on free or reduced lunch programs. Not exactly a suburban school awash with funds. But you get the picture. Like I said, school boards often are not made up of the brightest bulbs in the pack. They are elected.
At any rate, what Georgy wanted (or needed to justify his existence on the Earth) were low failure rates. No child should fail. No student should fail If a student failed, that meant the teacher had failed. Sounded good to the school board.
So, how do we get students to do better Not to fail?
Lower class sizes so there will be more personal attention? More staff? More support staff? After school remediation programs? Outreach to homes with at risk students? More stringent policies for extracurricular participation? Innovative programs to meet the needs of a diverse population?
Well, those sound good, but they have one problem. They all cost money. And a school district strapped for funds, which just built an administrative castle on the lake, is not one flush with excessive dollars to spend on…well…kids..
So, Georgy’s solution was simple. Q. How do we keep kids from failing? A. Don’t give them failing grades. What could be simpler.
Georgy wanted to put into place a grading system that would not allow a teacher to give a high school student (we aren’t talking about the grade school, tykes here) no report card grade lower than a 60. No matter what the student did, or did not do.
Georgy’s philosophy was that no student should ever be in a position at the end of the school year where their grades were so bad that they could not pass. How does this work? Well, if Johnny did most of his work, tried hard and wasn’t too bright and managed a 65, he could pass. If Billy did half his work, failed most of his tests and missed one day a week he might earn a grade of say, 40. Automatically that grade should be raised to a 60 on the report card. If Maryanne skipped half the days, handed in no work and failed every test she should be awarded a 60 for those 9 weeks of work.
So, in the end, the final evaluation did not look that bad. Any student could “succeed”. On the report card.
Of course, the problem with this, to those trying to teach kids, was apparent. Foremost, without being fairly evaluated, a whole lot of kids would do nothing. And pretty soon they would catch on that doing nothing was really not so bad when it came to evaluations. Of course, the teachers’ prime goals are to help kids actually learn things. Valuable things. To do homework so they can be helped to do better. To have an accurate evaluation so we can help them truly succeed. So, this system reinforced the opposite.
Then, when the report card went home the parent might be confused. It seems like my Maryanne is doing not too bad. I mean, for someone who skips half of her classes. Who never seems to do homework. Who never studies. I have been warning her she will do poorly. Evidently, as a parent I was wrong. She isn’t passing, but she is pretty close. A report card is assumed by the parents to accurately reflect a student’s achievement. So the parents know how their child is doing. With this policy, parents do not really know how their youngster is performing.
As an aside let me talk about Ron Page. Ron Page was the Secretary of Education from 2001-2005 under George W Bush. He got that job mainly based on his success in the Houston school district. When Page took over as superintendent of schools the Houston district was in disarray. Test scores were well below average. Even for Texas. So, just imagine. He privatized some schools, brought in charter schools, instituted a “contract” system modeled on business, gave bonuses to teachers for good test scores. The result was staggering.
The “Houston Miracle ” ensued. Test scores soared. Everyone was happy. The “No Child Left Behind” theories of the Bush administration were based on Page’s success. Everyone was happy. Almost.
There was on assistant principal in one of the Houston schools that could not figure out what was going on. Why were test scores suddenly high? The schools were not doing anything different. The student body had not changed. Attendance rates had not changed. Why the sudden magnificent test scores?
A little investigation resulted in the answer. Under the “leadership” of Superintendent Page vast numbers of students were simply prohibited from taking the tests. Teachers identified those who had little or no chance of doing well and they were opted out of testing. The students who would be failing were simply not counted. The superintendent was happy. The school board was happy. Many teachers were happy (they got bonuses based on test scores). The kids were happy. The only loser in the system was honesty. And in the long run the kids who were being deprived of an education.
Back to my Georgy. Georgy was the master at managing the educational crisis. Not the REAL crisis, but the public relation crisis. Not what was actually happening, but rather how to “message” what was happening. Managing the mess
Of course, under Georgy student achievement did not improve. Under Mr Page in Houston student achievement did not improve. They did not identify the problem as one of education, but one of messaging. The message improved.
Georgy would fit well in today’s White House. We have a real crisis. A health care crisis. It needs to be managed . It is not being managed. The current “leadership” is attempting to manage the message, not the crisis. Manage the talk, don’t walk the walk. No bad news. I am doing a great job. It’s all there in the message. But a virus, like a good education, does not respond to a message. It responds to action.
To manage a crisis you have to recognize the crisis. To the current superintendent of the United States the crisis is not how to manage the virus. The crisis is how to manage the message. I say, just give it a 60.
I remember when we did not have primary elections. At least not very many of them. In the “old days” it was the party leaders who made decisions. They got together in those smoke-filled rooms and selected the candidates.
Of course not all the leaders agreed. There were conflicts and favors asked for and given. There was back-stabbing and lies . The old men of the political parties fought it out behind closed doors, for the most part, and ended up manipulating the political conventions to nominate a ticket. Sometimes there were “floor fights” on the convention floor.
But all the participants were loyal members of the party. And all wanted to win the presidency.
Now, of course, we have multiple primaries. On the surface it sounds more “democratic”. Let the people vote, Let the people decide. Now we see some problems with that system.
Some states, for example, have “open ” primaries. So anyone can vote for either party. This has the effect of allowing Dems to disrupt GOP primaries and vice versa.
Some states allow anyone to change parties at the polling site. Again, that can mess up a primary as folks who are not devoted to a party can have the same voice as the guy who has worked for the party for 30 years. Being a member of the party means less and less.
But the worse part about the primary system is what we saw happening in the GOP in 2016. And in the Democratic primaries this year. While well-meaning, the primary process encourages more radical elements of the party to have a greater say in choosing a candidate. Get people hyped up, give them some nice phrases, appeal to easy solutions to tough problems and the idiots will vote for you. (Yes, most people are idiots).
I prefer the “good old days”. The time when the party leaders, responding to pressure within the party and to common sense, decided who the nominee would be. So, let’s look at some of the candidates who might never have won a primary contest but did get the nomination of the party.
In 1860 the Republican convention was held in Chicago, Illinois. A small group of party leaders, mainly from Illinois, were able to manipulate the convention and push a young , funny looking lawyer to the forefront. They stole the nomination for “Honest” Abe Lincoln. He turned out to be a pretty good president.
Other men who were selected by the party leaders in deals made in “smoke-filled rooms”?
Try these on for size. US Grant. Teddy Roosevelt. FDR. Harry S Truman. IKE. JFK.
Whether liberal or conservative, these guys ended up being pretty good presidents. Without going through a primary election vetting process. Most were selected by the party leaders in each state. As candidates that were real leaders and had a lot of common sense.
Which brings me to Andrew Cuomo.
I have watched Cuomo for many years. He has been vilified by the NRA and pro gun groups. And by conservatives in NY in general. For much of his term he has had to deal with a split legislature. He worked with both sides. He made decisions about educational testing, then when the data showed it was not working, he changed his mind. He has always been a liberal who has been able to get things done. Effective.
This makes we wish for the good old days. Days when the political conventions were not signed, sealed and delivered by primary voters. When the party leaders at the biggest smoke-filled room, the national convention, could choose the candidate they felt was best.
Does anyone doubt that if we did not have a primary system who the Democrat nominee would be? And who the next president would be? Maybe the DNC should throw open the convention and let the delegates for for whomever they want.
The next president of the United States, without a doubt, would be Andrew Cuomo.
I don’t know why I watch. But I do. It is the same reason, I suppose, folks gawk at accidents. A bit morbid. Curiosity. How bad is it?
I am referring to the “news” conferences of Mr Trump regarding the coronavirus. You know, the big Democratic hoax! My wife won’t watch him any longer but I find him fascinating.
We must face the fact that the GOP has given us the first mentally ill president. A total narcissist. The man with the biggest brain.
Well, yesterday he talked about the “immediate” cures that are available. Specifically about a drug used to control malaria. A drug used to control malaria. Malaria.
OK. Well, malaria is not caused by a virus. Or a bacteria. It is a parasite. It is a parasite that a person may get if they are bitten by a mosquito carrying the parasite. It is not transmitted by sneezing or coughing or screwing. So, it has no relationship in any way to a virus. Especially an unknown virus.
But the good news about the anti-malarial drugs is that they are safe. If you have malaria they will fight the parasite and not kill you. A plus. So, Mr Trump considers malarial drugs a good fit to fight SARS-like virus. Hey, it could work! You never know? What have you got to lose.
As usual, the man with the biggest brain is thinking “outside” the box. In the “box” is science, technology, common sense, data, intelligent thought and “book learning”. The man outside the box rejects all that. So, I thought I would join our commander-in-chief in this time of crisis and also think outside the box. After all, you never know. So,here goes some possible coronavirus cures. Hey. You never know.
Tom’s of Maine Toothpaste Cure. Take some toothpaste (Tom’s of Maine has been found by the FDA to be safe) and stick it on the end of a pencil. Shove it up your nose until blood oozes out of a nostril. Repeat on other nostril. It’s possible that this may force the virus out of your body. Hey, you never know.
Norland Potato Cure. Buy some Norland potatoes. They are the red ones. Russets will NOT WORK for this cure. Cook 7 potatoes with 4 quarts of olive oil and dishwater. Rinse and drain. Mash the potatoes with chopstick. DO NOT USE A FORK. That is very important. Smear the potatoes between your toes and under your armpits. Let sit for 3 hours. This cure may kill any coronavirus through osmosis. You MAY be cured. Hey, you never know.
The Singing Cure. Find a copy of the words to “Jeepers, Creepers”. Standing on one foot and holding a banana in your left hand, sing the words backwards through three verses. Immediately afterwards peel the banana, eat the peel and place the fruit of the banana in a cup of boiling Ooolog Tea. That should destroy the virus. Hey, you never know.
The Smashing Cure. Put on the tightest running shorts you can find. Also, the heaviest snowboots you have in your closet . (If you have no snowboots you can substitute high heel shoes). Put 3 ice cubes in your mouth. Run as fast as you can into the nearest tree. Walk backwards 30 feet. Run as fast as you can into the same tree. Walk backwards 30 feet. Repeat until..A. the ice cubes in your mouth have melted….B. Your teeth have fallen out ..or C. You go unconscious. This cure should dislodge and expel any coronavirus in your body. Hey, you never know.
I could go on, but I won’t. The point is, cures for the coronavirus are ALL AROUND US. Just think outside the box. Use your biggest brain. Be a real leader.
Captain Don was steadfast and strong. He was the man in charge. He was the man in control. He was given control of the Titanic and he was doing it his way. The best way.
He inherited a crew of tried and true sailors. He fired them. Then he hired the best crew and the best mates. Well. A whole bunch of them left so he hired some more. They left. So he hired more of the best men.
And off he sailed.
One day his first mate came to him and said. “Captain, my, captain, the best captain in the world. One of our crew has spotted an iceberg. On a collision course with the Titanic”
Captain Don replied. “Fake news. A hoax. There is no iceberg. Stay the course.”
A few hours later, the same mate came to Captain Don. ” Captain, my captain. The captain with the biggest brain in the world. The iceberg is closer now and we still have time to steer the ship to a different course. See, look to the north, you can see it in the distance.”
Captain Don peers to the north. His gaze is steady. His jaw juts out in defiance.
Captain Don speaks. ” That is no iceberg. It is an ice cube. See how tiny it is? How foolish you are. A hoax. Fake news. Such a tiny ice cube can do us no harm. Stay the course.”
A few hours later, the iceberg looms closer and closer.
The first mate. “Captain, my captain. The smartest, bravest captain with the biggest brain. And best brain. The iceberg is going to hit us. We can not get out of the way. What should we do?”
Captain Don. ” Well, why didn’t we see the iceberg sooner? Where was the man in the crow’s nest. He must have been one of Barry’s men. A member of the Deep state. Out to get me.”
First mate. ” Oh captain, my captain. The sexiest, smartest most brilliant captain in the world. Actually it was your budget cuts that eliminated the man in the crow’s nest. The early warning system we used to have. What should we do?”
Captain Don. ” Put everyone in lifeboats. Time to evacuate.”
First mate. “We only have 20 lifeboats for 20,000 people. What shall we do?”
Captain Don. “What? Why so few boats. The former captain Barry refused to buy more boats? It is Barry’s fault. Damn him. Well, put me in a boat and find my friends. Get them in boats.”
First mate. “Captain my captain. The truth is that Captain Barry left you with plenty of boats. Actually it was you who sold the lifeboats, cheap, to your friends in the boating industry. We had enough lifeboats. No longer.”
Captain Don. ” Lies. All lies. Fake news. Fake iceberg. I take no responsibility. Not my fault. Not my fault. Where is my lifeboat? I’m out of here. You’re in charge”
It looks like the next election will be a choice among 3 old white guys. But 3 old white guys with significantly different views of the role of government in our lives. WHAT? You mean all old white guys are not the same? Who knew.
This race got me thinking. Always a problem. Thinking about roller coasters.
Roller coasters have always made me sick. Literally. I haven’t been riding on one in probably 30 years. They make me nauseous. Some people like them. Thrilling. Up and down. And up. And down. And up. Not for me. Give me Mr Toad’s wild ride in the teacup.
We have been on a roller coaster for 4 years. Many people wanted the roller coaster. They wanted to shake us up. Make some of us sick. Excite us. So we have seen what 4 years of riding a roller coaster brings.
Now, some folks still like the roller coaster. Four years are not enough. They want four more years of the up and down. They want to ride it forever. The swirls and twirls and thrills as the scenery screams by. And the folks on the roller coaster are also screaming. Some with joy. Others in horror.It’s a blast!
Why did I get on this thing? What was I thinking? Let me off!
So, now we have three choices.
We can stay on the roller coaster for 4 more years. Up and down. Vomiting. Thrilled to death. Wheeeee!
There are some folks want to get off one ride and jump right on another one. We can get off the roller coaster and look around. Hey , look at that. It’s a Tilt-a-Whirl. Not as bad as the roller coaster. Tilting up and down and round and round. Tilting. Looks like fun. OK, maybe it’s still a bit unsettling, but at least it’s not the roller coaster. I will probably be okay.
Then there are folks like me. Still staggering from the roller coaster. Waiting for my stomach to settle down. Looking for a bench. A nice bench by the pond. Stop and sit. Have a hamburger. Sip a Coca-Cola. Relax.
We have a choice. Ride the roller coaster for 4 more years? Try out the Tilt-a-Whirl for 4 years and see how that settles the stomach? Or take a long rest? Take a break. Take a breath.
As for me, I don’t need any more amusement park rides. I am not amused.
No, not the whistle blower who saw the illegal actions of Trump and reported them to the proper authorities. Not yet, anyway. This whistle blower was Chinese doctor from Wuhan province. He is dead from the highly contagious deadly virus we call coronavirus.
Dr. Li Wenliang was only 34 years old. When he discovered the fact that his patient had an unknown virus and was spreading it, he took action. He thought it might be SARS. It was too late for him, since he had no way of knowing how virulent the virus was before he treated his patients.
As soon as he understood the possible repercussions of the virus he immediately informed his colleagues on a web site. On December 31 he put out the warning. This was bad. This was transmitted human to human. This was highly contagious and deadly. Take precautions . Get on top of this. He blew the whistle on the virus.
The Chinese government did not like it. Bad PR. Might lead to panic. So, Dr . Li Wenlaing was arrested. YES. Arrested for blowing the whistle. Then he was silenced.
Then he was forced to plead guilty. To spreading rumors. From an interview he did a few days before his death.
How did you feel when the police accused you of spreading rumors?
The police believed this virus was not confirmed to be SARS. They believed I was spreading rumors. They asked me to acknowledge that I was at fault.
I felt I was being wronged, but I had to accept it. Obviously I had been acting out of good will. I felt very sad seeing so many people losing their loved ones.
How long will it take you to recover? What do you plan to do afterward?
I started coughing on Jan. 10. It will take me another 15 days or so to recover. I will join medical workers in fighting the epidemic. That’s where my responsibilities lie.
But the good doctor did not survive. At 34, he is dead, leaving behind a wife, a 4 year old and an unborn child. According to Dr Li Wenliang if the government had disclosed the possible problems with the virus earlier, it may have limited the spread.
So, the whistle blower is dead. He was guilty, under Chinese law, of spreading rumors. He was silenced.
We don’t silence whistle blowers in the US. They are protected. We want them to come forth with information the public needs. Or information about government wrongdoing.
Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has a different idea, however. He follows the Chinese model. He plans to call the whistle blower and make him pay for blowing the whistle on Trump’s illegal activities.
“During an interview with Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo over the weekend, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham vowed to compel testimony from the whistleblower in order to get to the bottom of what led to impeachment against President Trump. He also reiterated his plans to investigate the Bidens for their involvement with Burisma, the most corrupt company in Ukraine. ….
“”The day of reckoning is coming for congressional and Senate oversight of Joe Biden and the FISA warrant process,” Graham said.
A day of reckoning. For all whistle blowers. President Trump agrees. And president Xi of China concurs.
As the three people who read my blog know, I am pretty good at predicting things. I predicted that Jeb Bush would win the presidency in 2016, that Medicare for all would be enacted and that all Republican gun owners would turn in their weapons as a show of support for children murdered every day in America. OK, so maybe no so good. HOWEVER, here is part of my end of the year prediction from December , 2017, when the GOP controlled both houses…
“Finally. Congress votes itself a 50% pay raise for a “job well done”. The legislative branch passed a total of three bills. They were: 1. “The Amazing Trump is the Best President Ever” bill awarding the Trump Medal of MAGA to the best person in America. This year’s recipient? Donald Trump. 2. “The FBI Traitor” law. Which labels all members of the FBI, former and current, official “enemies of the people” and subject to immediate permanent detention and prosecution for doing “bad stuff”. Mueller is the first to be perp walked. 3. “Congressional Vacation Act” which allows Congress to take a vacation for a period including January 2 through December 30, with pay and expenses for fact finding travel. Mr Trump signed all three bills and praised Congress for their services… which will no longer be necessary.”
I was watching the pundits on Morning Joe this morning talking about the demise of the Democratic Party because of the APP problems in counting the Iowa Democratic caucus votes. Their main theme was the incompetency of the Democratic Party. And by extension any Democratic administration. Okey Dokey.
This was similar to another Democratic government run debacle with the roll out of the Affordable Care Act. We all remember how Obama and the Dems screwed that up. Big government at its worse. Except.
Except both the ACA roll out and the Iowa caucus problems were not caused by “big government” at all. Both were major technical problems made by private contractors, not the government. In a nation where the prevailing narrative remains that business is more efficient than government, we see the opposite. It is the private contractors that screw things up. Regularly.
Now, let’s look at really BIG government, the Social Security administration and Veterans administration. These are the government folks who send out your Social Security and Veterans benefit checks. And have been doing so for decades. Ever miss a payment? Ever have a check bounce. Ever have a failure to deliver? I rest my case.
But, back to the pundits who are already predicting the end of the Democratic Party. It is February 4, 2020. Between now and Election day there will be at least 10 new things that will once again give the pundits something new to predict. And they will be just as certain of themselves and just as wrong as they always are. As a self-made pundit, here are my 10 new things.
1. One of the Democratic candidates will be physically assaulted, by weapon or by fist. And she will punch back.
2. A major US corporation will file for bankruptcy. And be given tax dollars as compensation.
3. Kim Jung Un will announce that he has a nuclear weapon and the ability to reach the US with it. Also announces a contract for new Trump Tower in Pyongyang.
4. Donald Trump, Jr will announce the best trade deal ever with China, and the details will be forthcoming. The details never come forth.
5. A number of global warming catastrophes around the globe will prompt the UN to hold a global warming summit, which the US will refuse to support.
6. The GNP will continue to hover around 2.3% but no one knows what that means. Although 76% of the population is certain it has something to do with the Super Bowl.
7. Photos will emerge of Mike Pence leaving a room with a woman. She looks scared. So does he.
8. Israel will announce that they accept the Kushner peace plan which allows Palestinians to look at their former homes on the West Bank during Ramadan. For 2 minutes.
9. Mike Bloomberg will buy North Dakota, Mississippi and Arkansas, giving him enough votes to win the election. He complains that he has used up all his pocket change for the week.
10. Vlad Putin will make a surprise appearance at the Republican convention and will graciously accept the nomination for president by acclimation of the party. Why not eliminate the middle man? Vlad will then appoint Ivanka Trump as his running mate.
So, those are my predictions. And after each event the pundits will all-knowingly tell us what it means. Again.
I know what you are thinking. Most of these are WAY OUT THERE and probably not going to happen. But number 10 is just obvious.
In 2017 he was accused, and later convicted, of shoplifting. The prosecution claims he had hidden some dog toys … yes, DOG TOYS … in his girlfriend’s purse. Then they left the store without paying.
Well, they did have SOME evidence against him, to be sure. They never actually found the toys in his girlfriend’s purse. BUT. They had a video of him going to the car and bringing his girlfriend’s purse into the store. They had some empty dog toy shelves. Stuff like that.
To be clear, they didn’t catch him in the act. It was only a day later when some store employers noticed some empty packaging in the dog toy department that they investigated. Sure enough, the Sherlock-type sleuths discovered that his girlfriend had absconded with $ 186 worth of dog toys!
Some of you who do not own pets may wonder how anyone could stuff $186 worth of dog toys into a purse unnoticed. I mean, that sounds like a lot of Fido fun. Loads of doggy diversions. Now, those of you WITH pets might have a different view. I mean, where can you get a purse load of dog toys for ONLY $186? Must have been in the discount bin. Give me the address of that store. But I digress.
So, despite his pleas of innocence (his girlfriend took complete responsibility, the sweet thing) he was convicted and sentenced. To 2 to 23 months in jail. For pilfering dog toys. Well, I said he was convicted of shoplifting, but not exactly. Since he, himself, never stole any dog toys he was actually convicted of “conspiracy to commit retail theft”. YIKES. That’s sounds a lot worse than shoplifting. A conspiracy.
So poor Benjamin was convicted. But that was then. This is now.
After watching hours and hours of the impeachment trial of Donald Trump from his prison cell, Benjamin had second thoughts. The first thought was this. Being forced to watch hours and hours of the impeachment trial may be grounds for release on a “cruel and unusual punishment” claim.
Second, he wanted a new trial with Lamar Alexander as foreman of the jury.
You see, Lamar Alexander has stated, in writing, publicly that “yes”, the House managers did present a convincing case. In fact, according to Lamar, he is convinced that president Trump DID solicit (extort) the Ukrainian government to try to force them to present an announcement of an investigation into the Bidens. He had seen enough, but it was not enough to convict.
So Senator Alexander does not need any more proof. Trump is a criminal. The facts are clear. Undisputed. But, since Trump is a criminal Lamar has decided NOT to vote to remove him from office. Or to seek any more evidence which might even further prove the case already proven by the House managers. Because, after all, if we convicted criminals what would be next? Slippery slope.
Lamar’s statement: “…There is no need for more evidence to prove that the president asked Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter; he said this on television on October 3, 2019, and during his July 25, 2019, telephone call with the president of Ukraine. There is no need for more evidence to conclude that the president withheld United States aid, at least in part, to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens; the House managers have proved this with what they call a ‘mountain of overwhelming evidence.’ There is no need to consider further the frivolous second article of impeachment that would remove the president for asserting his constitutional prerogative to protect confidential conversations with his close advisers.
“It was inappropriate for the president to ask a foreign leader to investigate his political opponent and to withhold United States aid to encourage that investigation. When elected officials inappropriately interfere with such investigations, it undermines the principle of equal justice under the law. But the Constitution does not give the Senate the power to remove the president from office and ban him from this year’s ballot simply for actions that are inappropriate….”
When Benjamin saw this he leaped for joy. That is exactly the point he was trying to make. Just because he was found to have committed a crime does not mean he should be found GUILTY of committing a crime. Just because he was involved in a conspiracy, and that was proven by the prosecution, does not justify a GUILTY verdict. It was not really a crime, it was just “inappropriate” for him to conspire to shoplift. And, if we are to uphold what Senator Alexander calls “the principle of equal justice under the law” shouldn’t Benjamin go free?
Benjamin wants Senator Alexander on his jury. And Dershowitz as his lawyer. Mr Forsythe is hoping to call Donald Trump, Jr as his character witness. If he can afford the fee.
There is a new sheriff in town. His name is Lamar. His concept of the law: Some crimes are just not punishable. It all depends on who commits them.
Watching Alan Dershowitz make his arguments for presidential power was certainly mind numbing. Now, I can understand why Trump would have Dershowitz on his team. He has a long history of effectively defending people who might have otherwise been convicted based solely on evidence. OJ Simpson, Jeffrey Epstein, Claus von Bulow and others. Also, his connections with Fox “news” and his connections with the same sex ring that Trump and Clinton seemed to be part of what made him a good choice.
Nevertheless, despite his person flaws and general lack of integrity aside, let’s look at his arguments. Remember, no other Constitutional scholar was willing to sit on the president’s team. Not even Jonathon Turley who the Republicans brought in to testify to the House inquiry. So, Alan stands alone as the expert on the Constitution for Trump.
His basic argument has been this.
If the president did something illegal, but he did it for good reasons, then that is not impeachable.
Furthermore, if the president THINKS that his own re-election is in the public interest, anything he does to secure his own re-election is not impeachable. As long as the president believes his re-election is what is best for the country he may take any actions to assure that re-election and , according to Dershowitz, that would not be an abuse of power.
Here are his own words: “Every public official that I know believes that his election is in the public interest and, mostly, you’re right — your election is in the public interest,” Dershowitz said. “If a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.“
I taught European history for many years when it was part of the old New York State curriculum. Since then European history has been subsumed into a more comprehensive Global Studies curriculum.
Back in the day we spent a bit of time on the French Revolution and the historical basis for that event. The long term developments leading to the Revolution are rooted in the old monarchical system. In the 17th century there was a power struggle in France.
On one hand we had the monarch and on the other the nobles. The majority (98%) of the people could just pound sand. They really did not count.
In order to centralize his power Louis XIV decided that he needed to move against the nobles . Now, the power of the nobles was in the great city of Paris (Washington, DC). To eliminate that power center Louis decided to build a new power center, near the small village outside of Paris. A day’s ride from Paris. So he built Versailles (Mar -a – Lago). There he could control the nobles.
I have been to Versailles. It is mind boggling in both size and luxury. Especially when you consider it was built in the 17th century. A short train ride from Paris today, but in Louis’s time it was isolated from Paris. If a noble wanted to be part of the power structure he had to travel to Versailles. He had to genuflect to Louis. And so Louis was able to slowly bring the nobles under his control.
Most famously a quote attributed to Louis (whether he said it or not, he certainly acted as though he did) was : L’etat C’est Moi. I am the state.
What does that mean? There is no distinction between the interests of the state and the interest of the king. There is no division between what is good for the king and what is good for the state. I am the state. What is good for Mr Trump is, by definition good for the United States.
Now, if we accept this argument, then the following logically follows.
In November of 2020 Mr Trump believes that the election of his opponent is not in the best interests of the nation. However, he honestly believes that his own election is in the best interests of the nation. That being the case, on election night, the results are in.
Mr Trump’s opponent has won. But wait. The election of his opponent is not in the best interests of the nation. So, Mr Trump simply invalidates the election.
He asks Attorney General Barr offer his legal opinion and Mr Barr concurs. It is within the power of the president to annul the election because there is nothing in the Constitution that specifically states a president CANNOT nullify an election.
But wait, Congress can step and overturn the decision. No. According to the legal opinion of the Justice Department the president has unlimited power, as long as he is acting in what he (and he alone) considers is best for the country. The Congress cannot review any decision made by the president. He is above the law. The imperial presidency.
The impeachment trial of Donald Trump started last week. The House managers presented a very thorough case. Now it is the time for the defenders of the president to speak. Fair enough.
So, what should they say? Well, let’s look at what the House has presented and see how they can respond.
The House case focuses first on the withholding of aid to Ukraine and the withholding of a meeting in the Oval Office with the president of the Ukraine. Both are important to the Ukraine for what should be obvious reasons. Ukraine is partially occupied and is at war with Putin’s Russia. Not to belabor the point but again. Ukraine is partially occupied and at war with Putin’s Russia.
So, the Ukraine desperately needs military help. Which the Congress and the president have given them.They also just as desperately need Putin to understand that the US stands with Ukraine against his illegal occupation and aggression. So, both the military and political aid are essential.
It is a fact that the Department of Defense was ready to start to distribute the military aid to Ukraine on June 18, 2019. From the DOD website:
The DOD does not release any military aid unless a thorough review has been done to make sure the country is meeting the requirements for fighting corruption, insuring human rights, etc.
So, for the president’s Defense Team. The first point they need to address is why the military aid was withheld. What information came to light between June 18 and the hold on the aid? There may be legitimate reasons for withholding aid, if so, what were they? And why was the very process for withholding aid taken out of the usual channels and handed over to a political appointee, rather than a career official?
Along the same lines, the defense may argue that the president can unilaterally withhold aid for any reason. In fact, the aid was held up 9 different times, with no explanation. However, the Government Accounting Office relayed a decision that what Trump did was break the law. A law that requires him to notify Congress with reasons for any hold up in aid:
“In the summer of 2019, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) withheld from obligation funds appropriated to the Department of Defense (DOD) for security assistance to Ukraine. In order to withhold the funds, OMB issued a series of nine apportionment schedules with footnotes that made all unobligated balances unavailable for obligation. Faithful execution of the law does not permit the President to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law. OMB withheld funds for a policy reason, which is not permitted under the Impoundment Control Act (ICA). The withholding was not a programmatic delay. Therefore, we conclude that OMB violated the ICA….”
So, the president or his staff broke the law. Period. His defense team needs to explain that and justify the hold on military aid. Why did the president think it was essential to break the law? Perhaps he had good reason.Legal reasons. What were they? And why was Congress never notified?
Furthermore, since aid was eventually released they need to answer another question. What happened to make the president change his mind and lift the hold? What new evidence emerged? Did he discover it was illegal or was there a change in Ukraine? What specific reason was there for all of a sudden releasing most of the aid?
The second charge on impeachment brought by the House managers was the obstruction of Congress. Now, it is pretty obvious that Congress was obstructed since the president refused to provide and documents or witnesses to help in the investigation. The question is, was that obstruction legal?
On Saturday the president’s team argued that the entire impeachment proceeding was illegal. So, since the proceeding was illegal they had no requirement to cooperate. Of course, this argument does have a major hole.
The position presupposes that the executive branch alone can decide for the House of Representatives what it can and cannot investigate. In other words, although the Constitution gives the sole power of impeachment to the House, the executive branch can overrule that power. The position falls flat on two levels. First, it disregards the specific language of the Constitution.
Article 1, Section 2: The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.
Of course it makes no sense legally or logically for the object of an impeachment or investigation to have the power to end an impeachment or investigation.
Along the same lines the president’s defense claimed that the House violated their own rules, so therefore the very impeachment itself is illegal. Yet, here we are. The Senate, controlled by Mitch McConnell, recognized the legality of impeachment. The Supreme Court, along with Chief Justice Roberts, recognizes the legality of the impeachment. We are having a trial precisely because the House acted legally. So, once again we have the president, alone, making claims that no other branch of government agrees with.
Now, it is legal for the president to, in certain circumstances, invoke “executive privilege”. However, invoking that privilege means the president has to make a case, before a court, that the documents or testimony being withheld is being done for legitimate national security concerns. So far, Mr Trump has made no such claim.
His lawyers, however, have taken the position that he can claim executive privilege without making a formal claim of executive privilege. In their words, he can hide anything he wants for any reason he wants. In other words, the chief executive is supreme and cannot be investigated or impeached. Trump has taken this position publicly:
“…Trump was giving a speech at a Turning Point USA conference, where he predictably veered off into a tirade about special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and how, as president, Trump could’ve stopped it.
“I have an Article 2 where I have the right to do whatever I want as president,” Trump said. “But I don’t even talk about that because they did a report and there was no obstruction.”…”
“…During a pre-taped one-on-one interview with ABC News reporter George Stephanopoulos, Trump argued that “a lot of great lawyers” agree that Article 2 of the Constitution means that the President can’t obstruct justice.
“So a president can’t obstruct justice?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“A president can run the country,” Trump responded. “And that’s what happened, George. I run the country and I run it well.”
“When the President does it, it’s not illegal?” Stephanopoulos asked….”
“I’m just saying a president under Article 2–it’s very strong, read it,” Trump said. “Do you have Article 2? Read it.”
(To be clear, executive privilege is not mentioned in the Constitution)
So, the president’s defense team will have to find a justification that he has refused to cooperate with Congress. While they may rightly point to very specific instances where other president’s have attempted (successfully or unsuccessfully) to invoke “executive privilege”, they will have to justify an unbridled power of the president to hide all his actions and documents.
Now, will the defense team address these issues raised by the House managers? Will they respond to the facts and evidence in the charges? Will they talk about how the Democrats have hated Trump from day one? Will they talk about Adam Schiff? Will they talk about the Mueller Report being a hoax? Will they claim the entire procedure is a “witch hunt”? Or will they talk about how corrupt the Biden’s are? Benghazi Redux?
In other words, will they address the points the Hose manager have made, or will they deflect ? Isn’t the answer obvious?