Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Pelosi and Schumer: Cringeworthy

Chuck Schumer scored a perfect 1600 on his college board SAT exam. This is surprising because among the Democratic Senators your see on TV he shows every evidence of being a truly inarticulate, clueless, tone deaf mediocrity. He spoke yesterday at the National Press Club in Washington and stumbled through the speech he tried to read. It was full of clich├ęs, uninspiring metaphors which sounded as if he had pulled them out of the recycle bin after the Democratic National Convention.

Nancy Pelosi, now 76 and looking every bit of it, was almost as bad, losing her place on the page of the remarks she read.

Both were better during the question and answer sessions, revealing their intimate knowledge of the history of various pieces of legislation.

At one point Schumer answered a question by saying, "It is a well known fact Israel has nuclear weapons, although exactly how many or what kind they've not said."

The fact is, it may be a widely held assumption, or suspicion, or it may be a secret in name only, but we have acted and planned  in the American government as if this is received truth, and all the countries in the region have too.  But a fact it is not.

This may seem like a small point, but it is just one easy example of how sloppy Schumer is in speech, how inelegant and how uninspiring. He could have done so much more with that issue.
"Israel has never acknowledged that nuclear weapons are part of its arsenal, but I have it on good authority that Iran, Syria and all its neighbors assume Israel does have such weapons and that is good enough for me. The fear of nuclear weapons, as we all know, is probably as important of the actual possession."

Or all that like.

The fact is the Donald has an unerring instinct for the jugular. He described Marco Rubio as small and Jeb Bush has low energy and now Schumer as a light weight. Coming from a guy who has no street cred for brains, describing a guy who went to Harvard, this may seem odd, but that's what Schumer looks like on TV, a lightweight.

Nancy Pelosi is 76 and Schumer is not a young 66. They are both too feeble to oppose Trump, who, if he is nothing else, has the frenzy of a balloon propelled by escaping air.  He has the energy of a Berlusconi or a Mussolini and the brains to match.

Schumer got all weepy over the thought of immigrant families being torn asunder. He should not have got weepy, he should have got angry.

"Mr. Trump makes war on the helpless and the harmless while he allows the predatory billionaires of Wall Street to escape taxation, just as he himself has. Is this what you wanted in the small towns of Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio? Well, if so, you've got it now. Congratulations. You've beaten up on the little people and you've had President Heel Spur do it for you."

And all like that.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Immigrants: Puppies vs Skunks

President Trump wants to build a wall to keep all those Hispanic immigrants from flooding across the border.  He talks about that illegal Mexican immigrant who raped a white woman in San Francisco, his version of President Reagan's Welfare Queen, who drove a Cadillac to pick up her welfare checks.

In Germany, Denmark, France and England there have been two specific sorts of  problems with Muslim immigrants.
1. Some young men, visually identifiable as Middle Eastern,  groped blonde German women in public squares and elsewhere, during Christmas festivities. These were more or less isolated instances. But to say they were isolated instances does not mean they were not an expression of Islamic culture. Anyone who has been posted to Saudi Arabia knows unaccompanied women are often groped at the markets there. Western European women were raped in Tahrir Square during the Egyptian demonstrations.  It is a culture norm among some Muslim subcultures that unaccompanied women are sluts and deserve anything they get. This is a problem, but a remediable problem.

 2. Some Muslim immigrants, particularly in France, have arrived from former French colonies and festered in suburban housing projects, and have refused to assimilate. Imans in London and in Paris and other Northern European cities have enunciated the belief that their religion is the only true religion and everyone else is an infidel. The value democratic institutions in Europe and America place on tolerance is simply not endorsed by some Muslims and in some Islamic centers.  So you have this curious graft vs host reaction of new immigrants arriving, building a mosque and then railing against the country which has received them. It's not exactly analogous to the man who buys a house near an airport and then complains about the noisy airplanes, but it's something like that.

Of course, some of the complaints against Muslims are pretty beyond comprehension: Muslim women  offended French sensibilitiesby refusing to strip down to bikinis on French beaches. Muslim women and girls who want to wear a head scarf to school or to work have been told no--if you want to be French, then act French.  Are Christians in France told not to wear crosses on necklaces and are Jews told not to wear yarmulkes?

President Trump has conflated the problems Europe has had with the flood of a million Muslim immigrants with the problem non problem of Spanish speaking immigrants in the United States. If you don't control your borders, you get chaos and rape and pillage he says. Muslims, Hispanics, all the same thing.

For the most part, they may be illegal, but the Spanish speaking immigrants I know are hard working, family oriented and the last people I would think would ever engage in a terrorist attack.

The Muslims streaming out of the Middle East and North Africa are more like a herd of buffalo, trampling a wide swath, causing problems by their numbers and physical needs, but not predators.

The Hispanic immigrant who I heard interviewed on NPR yesterday, was brought by her parents to America when she was two, gave birth to a daughter in Los Angeles, went to work every day, until she was stopped for rolling through a stop sign and then deported to Mexico, a foreign country to her, the country of her birth. She spoke little Spanish and would have wound up a street person, but for the intervention of distant Mexican relatives. 
Most illegal Hispanics seem more like the chocolate lab puppy who wanders into your garage.

Living among us are the occasional Muslims who are the skunk under the porch, like the Tsarnaev brothers, who did the Boston bombing.  But they have proven to be the rare exceptions, and they would not have been impeded by President Trump's executive order.

 Of course, for the most part Muslims here, unlike in Europe,  assimilate in all the important ways, and they are more like the seals who wash up on Hampton beach or the otters in the salt marshes--they are part of the great variety of fauna which enriches us all.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Emperor of Empty Spaces

We had a taxicab driver in New York this weekend who is one of those people you just want to adopt and bring home. Or maybe, you want to introduce him to your dog, because you know they would love each other. He is the sort of person who apologizes when he interrupts you, "But you see, I must know if you want to be on the east or the west side of the street."

Rich People to the Top. Poor People at the bottom. 

He is from Pakistan, but he now lives in Queens.  I wanted to ask him how competition from Uber has affected his livelihood, but never got to that because something else was far more of a problem for him now. 
Now he gets stopped and interrogated by ICE agents because they know a lot of taxicab drivers are immigrants. They have made his life miserable, and he is, he was quick to point out, a citizen. 

And I thought, how would any of us be made any safer by throwing this guy out of the country?

The next day, I was doing my usual Manhattan wandering, walking north from my hotel and allowing the traffic signals to pick my streets for me, never stopping and waiting for a light, just turning down a street I had not investigated because the light at the corner was red and I found myself on the east side of 5th Avenue between 56th and 57th, and noticed a lot of police, and police with M-16's and helmets, and I looked in the building and realized it was the entrance to the Trump Tower, all black stone with gold trim.

And I thought: Here is this billionaire who lives in a penthouse suite trying to round up and throw out of the country guys like my taxicab driver. 
They are both from Queens, but from different strata.

Back in my hotel room, on the 64th floor,  I could see the Hudson River and the GW bridge, Central Park and to the east, the East River. And I looked at all the tall buildings between my hotel, 5 blocks north of the park and the new ones going up which will cast a shadow on the park. Their shadows will block out the sun for plants in the park, darken walkways and bicycle paths, not quite to the ice rink, for which Donald Trump once famously took over construction because the city had become bogged down by regulations and union work rules.  Once the big shot built an ice rink for the people, now the big shots were building buildings for themselves which would cast a shadow over the people's park. 

The Failing New York Times ran an article about Steve Bannon today. He is the brains behind the bluster in the White House now and his big concept is that the United States is a nation with an economy, not just an economy among nations. Catchy phrasing, don't you think?

Mr. Bannon once planned to write a 26 part TV series on America and its people and its history. The Bannon version of the world as it was, or how it should have been; his very own creation myth. The world according to Mr. Bannon. Now he is in the White House faced with reality, and he's writing executive orders to ban Muslims from entering the country, as if he actually could prevent bad hombres intent on murder and mayhem from entering the country with an executive order.

But, really, what is a nation?  Is it lines on a map? Is it fruity plains and purple mountains' majesty? Is it the coastal towns of Maine, the glacial lakes of New Hampshire, the peaks of the Rockies, the windswept plains of Kansas, the desert of Arizona, the sunny shores of California?  Is it the cows in the fields of of Vermont, the pigs penned into feeding lots in Iowa? Is it cornfields? 

I would submit a nation can occupy all of the above, but a nation is no more a collection of things (land, borders, possessions)  than a man is his possessions, his house, his car, his wardrobe. Without his worldly tangible things, the man is still who he is. You can lash him to the mast and send him out to sea and when he washes up, naked on the beach, he is still the man he is. 

And so it is with a nation like the United States. Yes, the nation claims land, geography, products, missile silos, but, at core, it is the people. 

The cornfields of Kansas did not elect, nor should elect the President of the United States. People should do that. 
We gave this pig a vote

When Jefferson and Madison and the delegates from Georgia and South Carolina went about constructing their new nation, they were terrified the rules would be written by the masses in the big cities of the North. So, they allocated representatives to Congress by state, incorporating into political power, the notion of land. Just as a plantation owner got his own power from the size of his estate, and the property he owned, (which included 2/3 of all their slaves to count for allocation of representation) each state would get power from the land and property  it claimed.  States with smaller populations liked this idea, and they were mollified by the arrangement of each state getting an equal number of Senators even if the smaller states had few people.  
The last time these guys get to be this high

Today, Montana, Idaho, the Dakotas have fewer people living in each than live in any one of the biggest cities of Pennsylvania, but each of those states has two Senators, where Pennsylvania has only two.

When President Trump won the last election, he won on the back of this anachronism as embodied in the electoral college. The people did not elect Trump, the states did. More accurately, the peculiar distribution of the disaffected in key states elected him.

Some have spoken about the great state of suburbia, because the people living in Shaker Heights, Ohio and Grosse Point, Michigan have more in common with people in Scarsdale, New York and Chevy Chase, Maryland than they do with people living in Lima,  Ohio. 
The nation by geography

What we have now is a divide not among big states/little states but affluent areas vs economically depressed areas. If you are living in Wisconsin and your factory closed, you are in the same sinking boat as the guy in Ohio, Pennsylvania or Michigan. 
So the people who live in all those places which are largely empty of people, empty spaces which include the heads of some of the electorate, have elected the billionaire to save them. 
The vote by population

It doesn't matter to you that Mr. Trump proposes solutions to problems which do not exist, solutions which have no viable chance of solving those irrelevant problems. It doesn't matter to you that Mexicans and other Hispanics fleeing their failed states are coming across the border into the United States are not actually harming you.  It doesn't matter to you that the Pakistani taxicab driver in New York City is harmless and in fact, is raising his kids to have a burning desire to do well in this country and it doesn't matter to you that when the big shot wants to drive him away, it won't help you one whit. It doesn't matter to you that turning back Muslims at JFK and Logan and Dulles airports will not prevent the next (and would not have prevented the last) 9/11 terrorist attack.

All that matters to you is you have an outsized power to disrupt the ways things are now.  It's the only bullet you have in your gun's chamber. So you are going to pull that trigger, even if you wind up shooting yourself in the foot. 

Feel better now?

Thursday, February 23, 2017

You Can't Make this Stuff Up

Every April, as income tax season arrived, Johnny Carson used to do a very funny bit on his show: He would simply read the income tax directions on his show, slowly, with increasing frustration and confusion. "Subtract line 45A from line 30 B."  It was a hoot. You could hear the audience roaring in the background.

Now we have the same opportunity afforded by our 45th President. 

Here he is explaining why his order to ban Muslims from entering the country is actually quite legal:

"They didn't write the statute they were making the decision about because every word of the statute is a total kill for the other side. So I though I would read it. And here's what it says. This is what it says: 'Whenever the President finds that the entryh of any aliens or any class of aliens into the United States--okay. So essentially, whenever somebody comes into the United States. Right? 'If it would be detrimental to the interest of the United States'--okay. Now you know the countries we're talking about and these were countries picked by Obama. They weren't even picked. They were picked by Obama."

So he gets a little lost here. He does not actually identify the statue he's talking about, but most people think it's the Immigration Act of 1952, passed during the McCarthy Red Scare era. 
And then he gets distracted by the countries.  I think he means the 7 countries in his own executive order, but then he gets off onto who actually put together this list, which he claims wasn't even him. It was Obama who was at fault, really. Mr. Trump just found these countries on a paper some woman in the parking lot gave him.

"'He may,' so the President may,'by proclamation and for such period as he shall deem necessary'...

And here he gets really distracted about whether the law talks about a male or a female president and he goes off on a long digression about how well he did with women voters and how women love him, which he knows because Melania--that's his wife--told him.

"So and it goes,'for such as he shall deem necessary to suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants or impose on aliens any restriction he may deem to be appropriate.' So basically it says the President has the right to keep people out if he feels it's not in the best interest of our country. Right? Unbelievable. Unbelievable. And I listened to these judges talk and talk and talk. So unfair."

Someone in the White House really ought to take the President aside and explain about laws and the Supreme Court and how when you argue a case before the Court, everyone can find some law which seems to support his side, but then the other side finds other law, which says something entirely different and the Court, the judges, then talk and talk and talk about which side has the best argument.

Then they usually say stuff like, "The one law you cited was a really bad law and violates this or that part of the constitution, so we are not going to listen much to that law, because we like another law better, which we think reflects the principles we like to find in the Constitution." 

This is what's called "Constitutional Law." 

Which is why you want to appoint this reincarnation of Roger Taney to be the next Supreme Court justice--a guy like Neil Gorsuch-- because he will always like the laws you like and vote the way you would vote.
(Roger Taney was the judge who ruled on the Dred Scott case, where a slave, Dred Scott sued for his freedom but the judge said he couldn't sue, he didn't have "standing" to sue because as a slave he was not a human being and only human beings can sue in the Supreme Court.)

Actually, Taney had a point, because in the Constitution mentions slaves right in Section 2 of article One, as "2/3 of all other persons."  So, if you are an "other person" you are not actually a human being person,  maybe at most 2/3 of a person, or that's the way Justice Taney saw it. You know Justice Scalia would have agreed with Justice Taney, because Justice Scalia was an "originalist" and there's nothing more original than 2/3 of a person, and Neil Gorsuch, President Trump's nominee says he's just like Justice Scalia--an originalist.

2/3 of a person, Dred Scott

Recently, there's been a case about whether a dog could have standing in the Supreme Court, but now I'm getting distracted, like Donald.

Any way, someone ought to explain to the President about laws and how judges get to rule on whether what you do as President is legal. It's not like you are king. Or even it's not like you are a CEO. 

The President says these judges of the Ninth Circuit are not as smart as even bad high school students. 

That's kind of refreshing, don't you think? 
And why do they have to wear those robes? If they were so smart and if what they really cared about was the correctness of their arguments they wouldn't have to put on airs and robes. They could just wear T shirts and blue jeans like regular people and maybe a baseball cap that says "Make America Great Again."

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Donald, in HIs Own Words

Here's your daily inspirational message from President Donald Trump.

I also want to speak to you without the filter of the fake news. The dishonest-media which has published one false story after another with no sources, even though they pretend they have them, they make them up in many cases, they just don't want to report the truth and they've been calling us wrong now for two years. they don't get it. But they're starting to get it. I can tell you that. They've become a big part of the problem. They are part of the corrupt system...when the media lies to people, I will never, ever let them get away with it. I will do whatever I can that they don't get away with it. They have their own agenda and their agenda is not your agenda. Thomas Jefferson said, "nothing can be believed which is seen in a newspaper." "Truth itself," he said, "becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle." That was June 14, my birthday, 1807. But despite all the misrepresentations, and false stories, they could not defeat us..and we will continue to expose them for what they are, and most importantly, we will continue to win, win, win.
--President Donald John Trump

Now, that's what I call "authentic." All the best words, really, just incredible. So fantastic.
I particularly appreciate his invoking Jefferson, who once said, "If it were left to me to decide if we should have government without newspapers or newspapers without government, I should not hesitate to prefer the latter. "  He also said the nation needed a little revolution now and then, and of course, that's what Donald Trump has given us.  Jefferson was no friend of organized religion, and he practiced a rather liberated sexual life, given the times, inter racial sex, children out of wedlock, so he was a man relevant to the 21st century, even though he was a product of the 18th century enlightenment.  So, it's good to see Donald is looking to Jefferson.

So President Trump does not like "the media."  Actually, it is apparent he does not like the media he cannot control. He likes Fox, but he hates CNN. He loves Twitter, which is, after all, media. I don't know how he feels about Facebook.
Trump's spiritual parents

But what he really hates is the idea of the media. He cites no specific stories he thinks are lies, are malicious; he simply says, "don't believe a word they say." If it's critical of me, don't believe it. Believe Fox. Fox loves me.

What the Donald is really reminding us is that he is not the first President to have a contentious relationship with the press. John Adams signed the Sedition act and he used it to throw newspaper editors in jail. Now that is what I call a contentious relationship. Very unfriendly. You hear people saying Trump intends to become a dictator and they cite his attacks on the media and his attacks on judges as the first sign of a man bent on dictatorship. This is what gives liberals a bad name, such calumny. Trump does not want to be a dictator. He wants his job back on the Celebrity Apprentice.  He is not really enjoying being President yet.  He cannot simply issue orders as he can with Trump enterprises.

I am most of all astonished to learn President Trump was born June 14, 1807, which makes him, by my shabby arithmetic, 210 years old, which may explain his trouble remembering specifics. He knows the media prints nothing but lies, but he cannot recall exactly what lies he's referring to. He cannot remember what he had for breakfast this morning, or whether he actually ate breakfast.

And another thing about Jefferson, he would not like the Lord's Prayer read before a governmental or political meeting. He was very disturbed by the influence of organized religion over government. But that's just Jefferson.
Did you know President Clinton was actually named, William Jefferson Clinton? Probably explains why he was such a failure as a President. Spent his whole Presidency chasing skirts. That's the thing about those 18th century founding fathers--they took that title seriously, spreading their seed around like dogs in heat.  They had sex on the brain. Got in the way of their business deals. You can't make a deal if you are running away from sex scandals all the time. You got to be careful with women, if you are in the public eye.

Monday, February 20, 2017

In His Own Words: The Trump Daily Reader

President Trump's words are inimitable, really. Really they are. Such great words.
Mad Dog has decided to devote at least one post a day to his words, because, well, they are so revealing. 
So here a few from the Melbourne, Florida speech.

The White House is running so smoothly. So smoothly. And believe me, I and we inherited one big mess. That I can tell you, but I know that you want safe neighborhoods where the streets belong to families and communities, not gang members and drug dealers who are right now as I speak being thrown out of the country and they will not be let back in.

This is, of course, very good news. 
I presume he is talking about inner city Detroit here, although it could be, I suppose downtown Hampton.  At any rate, it's like a new Holocaust in the inner cities, where people are dying violently every day in great big numbers, so big, you wouldn't believe. And the dishonest media, so dishonest, keep telling us crime rates are down. Well, tell that to the mother who's kids get shot. Every day. Just such a disaster.  But we're sending the gang members back to wherever they came from, which is probably Mexico, because, you know, that country is sending us all their rapists.

That's what happens: you rape somebody in Mexico, or you say you want to rape somebody and the Mexicans tell you to just go north and rape some American women, who are white. Just so incredible. But we are catching them and sending them back and, of course, they will never think to try to come back here again, because we know their names. 

We inherited such a mess from Obama. Just look at the stock market. And look at the unemployment rate. And look at all the people without health care insurance.  And look at what's going on in Sweden. Just look. And Bowling Green, that massacre.  

And you know there is some terrorist somewhere in the world, right now, trying, planning to get on a plane to come to blow up a bomb in Times Square or downtown Detroit, or Hampton,  but we are going to stop him, because we know just where he's coming from. He's going to get on a plane in Somolia or Iran or Syria or someplace mostly Muslim and he is bad. But we are set up to stop him, if the stupid courts don't stop us from stopping him, but then that's on the courts, not me. Really, bad high school students could know better than those judges of the Ninth Circuit, which have been reversed, like 80% of the time, or something like that. You wouldn't believe how often they've been reversed, got it wrong, just so incredible.

Anyway, that's my best interpretation of what the President is saying. 
He speaks in parables, sort of, you you kind of have to read into it. 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

President Trump's Excursion Into Substance

There is no way to beat President Trump on Style. Look at those two Neanderthals standing behind him, visible over his left shoulder,  during his speech at Melbourne, Florida yesterday, and you will know exactly what kind of person Mr. Trump is appealing to and how impossible it will ever be to appeal to those simpletons with a message of substance, unless you capable of equal style, unless you are willing to become a Trump, or maybe an angry Bernie Sanders type.

You've got to be carefully taught

But, every once in a while Mr. Trump actually tries to dally in substance, as he did yesterday, when he read from the Immigration Act of 1952, which he claimed any bad high school student could see gave him the power to exclude Muslims from the United States if he wants to. Any group "detrimental to the United States," in the opinion of the President, can be excluded. This is not a part of the Constitution,  but a law passed at the height of the Red Scare and the McCarthy era, which Harry Truman vetoed as unconstitutional and undemocratic and anti immigrant, but which the Republican Congress passed over his veto. It was a time of dread, paranoia and phobia.

Reading that law now as if it trumps all consideration of the Constitution, Mr. Trump threw it over his shoulder, as if to say, "Open and shut case;" any bad high school student can see, no contest, and yet the "judges just talk and talk," those liberal obstructionists who do not have the best interests of the country at heart.

So, the substance of the argument is this is just a law, like any other, which can be judged against the requirements of the Constitution and it can be found unconstitutional.

If you read about the law, you can see immediately its connection to the Alien Act passed under John Adams, which allowed Adams similar discretion to exclude people, individuals, he decided were a risk to the country. Along with the Alien Act Congress passed the Sedition Act which gave  President Adams the right to jail people who publicly disagreed with him. Adams jailed editors  for publishing "malicious" stories about him. Another Sedition Act was passed by Congress in 1917, which outlawed protest and opposition to America's entry and involvement in World War I.

The smeller's the fella
The 1782 law was passed by a Congress fearful of the French and eager to consolidate power in the federal government. The 1917 law was passed by a Congress fearful of descent when Congress wanted war. 

The 1952 act was passed during the Red Scare when Roy Cohn, Senator Joseph McCarthy's lawyer and counsel, claimed the United States was in imminent peril from Russian Communists intent on destroying the United States, and Cohn prosecuted the Rosenbergs who stole the secrets of the atomic bomb for Russia. Oh, what a scary time it was: These traitors had put the entire country in the cross hairs of Russian nuclear annihilation, or so Cohn claimed.  

Mr. Cohn knew how to light the fire of fear and how to use that fear, how to make himself important using that fear.

When Mr. Trump holds up that paper, he is really reading from the script provided by Mr. Cohn.

If you want to get really titillated, there is much more to the Roy Cohn/Donald Trump story, and it's a corker. 
Roy Cohn was something of a mentor to Donald Trump. Roy Cohn made his career stoking fear and he obviously taught his young Trump acolyte how to play with this sort of fire.
Cohn was more than a mentor; he was Trump's lawyer and he defended Trump against Federal charges that Trump violated the Fair Housing Act, refusing to rent to Negroes. 
Cohn himself, was a piquant blend of sleaze,opportunism, hypocrisy and nastiness, and Donald revered him.  Cohn made headlines with the following story:  Homosexuals, closeted homosexuals in the US government, were giving away vital national secrets to the Russians, who threatened to expose their homosexuality, the vilest of dark secrets in the 1950's.

Of course, J. Edgar Hoover was also hot on the trail of homosexuals in hiding who were stabbing their country in the back. (You remember J. Edgar and you know about his own sexual preferences.)

 Being homosexual in 1952 was just about the worst thing you could be, next to being a Commie. 

The most astonishing part of the story is that Roy Cohn tried to prevent the Army from drafting his own homosexual lover, David Shine, and once in the Army, Cohn tried to pull strings to give Shine extended leave, so Cohn could have his lover.
Cohn ultimately died of AIDS, insisting to his dying day he was dying of liver cancer.

So, the substance of the case about the President's power to exclude immigrants is this 1952 law, which may be clear in its intent to exclude classes of people, but which is clearly unconstitutional, violating due process  among other rights, and which sprung from the fertile soil of a witch hunting lawyer who used the threat of exposing homosexuality in others, while he secretly kept a homosexual lover.

The style, or emotional background connected to the paper President Trump held up, read from and then tossed to the crowd is worthy of an Indiana Jones movie--its provenance drawing the President back to a world of intrigue, treachery and manipulation of public opinion.

And there is the history lesson:  There have been times in American history where fear of the "foreign" has justified all sorts of malevolent acts by our government--the arrest of editors for criticizing the President, the punishment of free speech by opponents of a war, the herding up of Japanese Americans and imprisoning them in concentration camps, the establishment of off shore prisons and torture chambers by the United States government and now, the exclusion of Muslims for being from "terrorist" and "dangerous" countries, guilt by association, fellow travelers, assassins in a Trojan horse, suspicious for looking like those we fear, while assuring Americans that Christians from those countries will be offered refuge from the storm.
It's not a Muslim ban, simply a ban on some Muslims (but not Christians) from countries we fear. It's like we say no Blacks from Detroit, Chicago or Baltimore can travel anywhere in our country. Other Blacks are free to travel, just not suspicious Blacks who are suspicious because they are starting from those particular cities. 
Make sense now?

Friday, February 17, 2017

Mr. Trump Triumphs Over the Press Conference

As our case is new so we must think anew and act anew.
                 --Abraham Lincoln

An hour spent on the treadmill this morning watching the Trump press conference. It struck me there are two sides: Mr. Trump, who's objective is to convince those who voted for him they were correct, and did not make a mistake, and on the other side  press, most of whom intend to prove the opposite.

Mr. Trump won this round.

The questions began with a straightforward question from Mara Liasson, who asked, "Did you fire Michael Flynn?"  Trump answered that this whole thing with his national  security advisor is fake news.
And he was, basically, in his own terms, correct. He did not define the term "fake news" but in context what he meant in this instance is that there really is no story here. Nobody except the press and the chattering class has any real interest who Mr. Trump's national security advisor is, or whether he was fired, or why or who replaces him.

Ms. Liasson had a kernel of an idea: I will ask him a yes or no type question and try to get a single straight answer out of him. But, of course, he's too smart for that.  He said, basically, the whole issue is ridiculous, so he makes a soap opera out of it, how the press done him (Trump and Flynn) wrong.  The problem is, she chose a "story" which nobody beyond the Beltway cares about. And virtually every question--save the question from Lisa Dejardins of the News Hour about what he intends to do about resurrecting his Muslim ban--was a question about something not germane.

What we want to know about is jobs and will there be another terrorist attack and by whom and when and where? And what is the new Trumpcare going to be?  And what is the Republican Congress going to do to Medicare and Social Security? 

He'll say, "Oh, you'll love it." And then you can say: Specifically, what are we going to like?  You are a deal maker. Do we not get to see the details of the deal?

The press corps asked questions about whether the Trump campaign was in cahoots with the Russians during his campaign.  Must have been half a dozen reporters asking the same question about that. Truth is, this is all fake news. Fake news in the sense it's trivial news, of no real concern to me or any of the coal miners who voted for Trump. It's fake in the sense that it is presented as news when nobody cares about the story, so it is, by definition, dog bites man. No story. The Russians did not vote in our elections. If they wanted Trump to win, that's their business.  But they had no power to launch any disinformation which might have affected the outcome, certainly not compared with the disinformation launched by James Comey of the FBI.

I don't care, no steel worker or assembly line worker at Carrier cares about the firing of Mr. Flynn or  whether Mr. Trump talked to Mr. Putin daily during the campaign, or whether he coordinated activities with Mr. Putin. The press is trying to delegitimize Mr. Trump's election by somehow implying if it weren't for some nefarious Russian connection, Trump would not have won.
Get over it, press.

Of course, Mr. Trump would love to revisit the election, his most fun time ever. He still wants to go on campaign stops speaking to adoring crowds. And he still wants to show how he overcame adversity and unfair play by talking about how Ms. Clinton got the questions before the debates. 
That is his own "fake news."
Nobody cares about the debates. Ms. Clinton demolished Mr. Trump in the debates but the voters who mattered had already made up their minds. Besides, she beat him on substance and on details--he won the emotional side. She says she was fighting for racial equality and equal pay when he was making deals on his daddy's dime and he responds she has been "nasty" to him, and she is not nice and she is unfair to demolish him so completely.
Ever notice how often he reacts with "that is so unfair?" Or "You are not nice. You are dishonest. Or you are a loser."

Mr. Trump says he does not want to go back to the bad old days when we were alienated from the Russians. He'd rather negotiate deals with the Russians. What deals he has in mind is not clear. Giving Russia Ukraine, the Baltic nations and Syria?

Mr. Trump responded to most questions as he always has, and in the past 18 months, the press continues to get pummeled by him. He begins by commenting on his emotional reaction to the reporter and  to the question. Is the reporter someone he likes? Is the question a nice question or an insult? Does the reporter work for the Failing New York Times or the Dishonest CNN? Has the reporter hurt him or treated him badly?  Is the person he is being asked about a nice person, a good man, a fantastic woman, a good person?  And, what was the question? Lost in all that.

A reporter wearing a yarmulke and a beard and a white shirt and black pants promised to ask a nice and simple question and then embarked on a long winded statement about a rise in anti-Semitic incidents since Mr. Trump's election, which connects to the argument that by embracing anti Muslim rhetoric, Mr. Trump gave license to all the hate groups across the country, to white supremacists and nativists.

 Trumps  opponents have tried to say that whenever someone scrawls a Swastika across a synagogue or a "Nigger" across a black Church, that's Mr. Trump's fault. He responded, quite reasonably, that this country has had hate and division long before he became President and if people act badly that's not his fault. 

You can argue about the President's role of "enabling" such sentiment, but that's a losing battle. He will argue he's a nice guy and loves everyone and Blacks and Hispanics and women all voted for him in numbers which gave lie to the argument that they see him as a hater or a threat.

So, members of the press, don't go there. You've lost that argument. Ask him about specifically what law he will sign about the replacement for Obamacare and whether he endorses Couponcare for Medicare and Social Security.

When a patient slides deeply enough into dementia, he typically retains all the standard phrases, empty of content. What did you have for breakfast this morning? Oh, it was a lovely morning. One of those days you're glad to be alive. It was swell.
But did he actually eat breakfast, and if so was it eggs, bacon or cereal? No clue. Because he does not really remember, he confabulates. He gives an answer which indicates his emotional state, but he cannot answer the substance: Eggs? Bacon? Orange juice?

The press, every last one of them, has failed to figure this out about Mr. Trump.
Try asking him specifics:  You said on January 13th you would sign a law repealing Obamacare on January 20th and the law to replace would be signed the same day.  What date do you say today will you sign into law the replacement for Obamacare?

Then, when he shrugs off, well that's up to the light weights--he called Schumer a lightweight and nobody even noticed--among the Democrats allow me to get a bill on my desk, I'll sign it.

So follow up with: Will you sign a law which allows states which want to keep Obamacare to keep it?

Get into substance and detail as much as you can,  because he cannot handle detail and cannot keep it in mind.

Give up on the following stories:  1. Anything about his personnel choices.  2. Anything about the Russians 3. Anything about whether he is anti-Semitic or endorses anti Semitism. 4. Anything which has an emotional content.  
Ask him about those jobs he says GM, Ford and Walmart have said they will provide American workers since he became President.  Present him with the data:  Walmart actually had planned those jobs before he was elected and announced that on September 23, 2016. GM had planned that new plant and released the announcement August 15, 2016. And so on. You don't have to tell the American public he can't take credit for jobs already in the pipeline.

The Muslim travel ban was rolled out just fine--it was the so-called judge who screwed it up.  That's not a winner.
Saying his administration is in "chaos" is a loser. One man's chaos is another man's disruption and chaos was what those voters in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania wanted.

The reporters for CNN, MSNBC, the News Hour, the Washington Post and the Failing New York Times may or may not be bright people, but they are focusing on words which are non specific, like chaos, fear, nervous, rather than the things Mr. Trump cannot play with--specific dates, laws, rules.

P.S.  Chuck Schumer is a light weight. Trump does have one uncanny ability--the ability to look at someone and see his or her most debilitating vulnerability.  Jeb Bush was low energy; Marco Rubio was too small; Elizabeth Warren is Pocahontas, and Hillary, of course was "crooked."  Whether or not it is true, it is the most damaging dig. In Schumer's case, it is true. He is a light weight. And, typical of the Democrats, they have chosen a light weigh to lead them. First Harry Reid, now Schumer. The Democrats eat their young and hoist up their weaklings to rule.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Representative Jim Jordan: Tough Guy from Lima

Saw Jim Jordan of Ohio's 4th Congressional district interviewed by Chris Cuomo this morning as I was running on my treadmill.

Jimmy was a great high school and college wrestler and he wants you to remember that so he only rarely wears a jacket and tie, just the shirtsleeves. Not only does he look more like a jock, but  he can look like the friend of the working man. His many fans are waiting for the moment when he'll stride onto the House floor in his wrestling singlet.

I remembered him from his questioning of Hillary Clinton during the Benghazi hearings, which he considers one of the high points of his Congressional career because he thought he had scored a huge take down of the Secretary, and had her on her back the entire match; at least that's the way Congressman Jordan remembers it.

As I remembered it, Ms. Clinton scored escape after escape, and she reversed him every time she wanted to. The only person she made look sillier was that bimbo Congresswoman from Alabama who asked her if she had spent the night alone after she left the State Department that fateful night and when Secretary Clinton said she had, the Congresswoman inveighed, in her best Perry Mason tone, "You were alone? The whole night?" At which point Ms. Clinton broke into a grin, and without having to say a word, her face conveyed the statement, "Yes, you silly twit. I was alone. Did you think I went home to celebrate the death of four American foreign service officers by hopping into bed with General Petraeus? And if I had, do you think I'd tell you about it?"

Other than that moment, the best moments were her dismantling of Jimmy boy Jordan, who  got more and more befuddled as he stumbled his way through his questions, in his shirt, looking like he really wanted to be in his wrestling singlet from when he won the NCAA title, but the singlet  would have looked a little odd with the tie.

Reading about Jim, it turns out he has sponsored only one bill in his 10 years in Congress--a sweet little thing to make it easier for the citizens and drug lords of Washington, D.C. to buy and carry and use guns in the city.  I imagine all the hoppers and touts in the drug trade on the corners saying, "Now, that guy is a friend of the working man! I got my gun, no hassle at all!"

Congressman Jordan's district has a factory which makes Abrams tanks, which the Army did not want made but he pushed it through to keep his constituents at their jobs making even more money with less pulmonary injury than those coal miners in Senator McConnell's state. Lima, Ohio, have no fear. Your gravy train runs.
You might not want 'em, but we make tanks here in Ohio!

Mr. Jordan hates planned parenthood, loves guns, hates abortions and he's the head of the "Freedom Caucus." Don't you just love Republican naming prowess? I mean, who wouldn't be proud to be a member of the "Freedom Caucus."

Talking about repealing Obamacare, he said the marketplace would take care of health insurance, just the way it had before Obamacare. Oh, yes, I remember that marketplace in New Hampshire where there was only one insurance company in the entire state offering health insurance, but now with Obamacare there are five.  
Talk about a marketplace.  
And Mr. Jordan noted that premiums went up with Obamacare and insurance companies dropped out of the market but he would guarantee in the replacement nobody would be denied for pre-existing conditions, unless they never had bought health insurance, which is only fair. And, oh yes, we'd have health insurance bank accounts for a rainy day, so when you went into the hospital for your $500,000 heart surgery you can drain that account--which might have, say a tenth of that--but it would cover the bill for the housekeeping services during your stay. Or your family could use it to cover your funeral.

The thing about Mr. Jordan which is so depressing is simply how stupid the guy is. Ever notice how enervating it is to be around really stupid people? Especially people who think they are not really stupid, just under appreciated?

That's the trouble with democracy: You can go to Congress and there you have to spend your day with people like Jeff Sessions, Mitch McConnell, Louie Gomhert, Trey Gowdy, Mark Sanford, Lindsey Graham and Jim Jordan. All the Gerrymander progeny. I can only imagine.
I'd rather spend the day in a day care center for delinquent three year olds. At least the kids tend to be cute, and there is some hope for them, that they might actually get smarter and more interesting as they mature. But not so much with these knucklehead Jim Jordan types.

Was a time when you could got to Congress and lock horns with men like John Randolph of Virginia, who might observe that your argument shines and stinks like a rotten mackerel by moonlight, or he observes a state can no more  give up part of its sovereignty than a woman can give up part of her virtue. 
 Now there's a man who you can be pleased to be insulted by.