Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Thank you, Mr. President!

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

Thanks to Donald Trump, AKA Narcissus le Grand AKA Il Duce, the clown currently residing (sometimes) in the White House, we have a plethora of scandals. In this era where SNL has become the Nuedexta for all sane observers of national politics, there’s such a wealth of scandals that I don’t know what to write about. Firing the one person investigating him and his cronies for collusion with Russia to affect the U.S. elections sounds an awful like Nixon v. Cox—another Watergate could be coming. What’s he covering up? Was the FBI getting too close? Maybe ex-FBI Director Mueller, as special counsel, will bring the perp to justice. Will his son-in-law Kushner be named FBI director? He’s in charge of everything else, and puts business over country every day. A recent case in point: trying to get tax breaks for some property in Jersey City.

But I’ll take us back to another scandal playing out: healthcare. Trump’s collusion with Ryan (and presumably McConnell in the future) is real, and they’re bent on killing Americans. Some people who were covered by the ACA will simply die.  That first A in ACA is for “affordable,” not “accessible”—I have access to buying a yacht, but I could never afford one. People with pre-existing conditions will have access to healthcare—but they won’t be able to afford it because the U.S. House’s bill allows them to be placed in special pools of high-risk patients. And the conspiracy against ACA continues—the GOP, especially those old men in the Senate, is using the distraction of the Comey firing and Mueller appointment to work behind the scenes for the complete destruction of ACA.

This leads me to recall Il Duce’s comments about Australia’s healthcare system. They can be interpreted in three ways: (1) he’s such an ignoramus that he doesn’t understand the Australian system is single-payer like most systems in the civilized world; (2) he wanted to insult Australia’s system by comparing it to the travesty just passed by the U.S. House and now being considered by the U.S. Senate; or (3) he doesn’t understand what the provisions of that travesty really are because, like many GOP representatives, he never bothered to read it.

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Free speech…

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

…doesn’t mean that Ann Coulter or anyone else has a right to speak at UC Berkeley. For the conservative commentator and writer, she’s had ample opportunity to spew her venom publicly around the country. Those who support her (or the Berkeley group who invited her to speak) don’t understand what “free speech” means, constitutionally or in practice.

Free speech always has to be measured against the safety of the general public. Sure, that’s a balancing act, but you can’t yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater when there is none, creating panic. Similarly, Ann Coulter cannot be allowed to endanger innocents in Berkeley. The group backing her, and her followers nationwide, are wrong in making this a free speech issue. As alt-right supporters, they have the right to think and even to say what they believe—I support that, and it’s why the Bill of Rights protect Bill O’Reilly’s rants as much as those of Rachel Maddow. (O’Reilly’s fall from grace was caused by his alleged abusive treatment of women, an entirely different issue.)

This isn’t about political correctness either. Both the extreme left and the extreme right get their hackles up about some of the things their opponents say. Hell, if we enforced PC, our president would be impeached by now and maybe in jail! People say (or tweet) outlandish things all the time. If it doesn’t go beyond that—yelling “Fire!” in a theater, for example—an educated and reasonable person shrugs it off and simply considers the speaker a crazy idiot.

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Can you afford Trump’s tax reform?

Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

Like many rich people, our president doesn’t mind spending money as long as it isn’t his. In the case of his proposed tax reform, he’s willing to steal from the middle class in a nefarious campaign to enrich his friends and destroy your future. Moreover, he’s also happy to waste money as long as you foot the bill.

Let’s start with the security for Trump Tower in NYC where the wife hangs out with the kid while he goes prancing around the country to faux campaign stops designed to bolster his already infinite ego. That security costs millions, and most of the bill due NYPD hasn’t been paid. The family will soon join Il Duce in either the White House or Mar-a-Lago. I guess we’ll have to call Trump a snow-vulture as opposed to snowbird as he flits back and forth between his properties. He even thinks the people’s house, the White House, is his own special property as he redecorates in a style reminiscent of a mafia mansion. Counting travel costs between NYC, DC, and Florida, and more security at Mar-a-Lago and other Trump properties, your money might as well be flushed down one of the golden toilets at his estates. In addition, he makes money off you too, because the State Department’s website advertises for free the sumptuousness of Mar-a-Lago and he has doubled the membership fee as a result.

Now let’s turn to those Executive Orders. The first, an anti-Muslim edict that couldn’t pass constitutional muster, was replaced by Version 2.0, which was also declared to be unconstitutional. Narcissus le Grand vows to fight that all the way to SCOTUS, with you paying all the legal bills, of course, because the case is a squabble between the Supreme Court and a lower court, i.e. all government.

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One hundred days…

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

OK, Trump has had his chance at the honeymoon waltz after winning an election. He can’t dance. He’s all but admitted he’s not up to the job. He’s created a lot of noise—sound and fury signifying nothing. He has failed and will continue to fail. He can’t bring the country together and has no desire to do so. In fact, he has polarized it even more. His cultish base still thinks he walks on water, but he has the lowest approval rating overall than any president since approval-rating polls started, even Gerald Ford after Watergate.

Enough about Trump. I wrote him off as a narcissistic, two-bit, wannabe Putinesque tyrant long ago, a man long on braggadocio and short on brains. What’s more worrisome to me is that the country has no faith in the people running government now—the two-party system is definitely in trouble because Dems think the Dem leaders aren’t leading the country and the GOP voters think the GOP leaders aren’t either. No surprise there, because they aren’t. Congress is still a joke—mostly a bunch of failed lawyers who are incapable of accomplishing anything.

People look at the goings-on in DC and scream, “SOS!”—but that means a lot more than “Save Our Ship!” A scurrilous class of politicos still caters to lobbyists and special interests, Wall Street and Corporate America are still doing what the hell they want, and discourse at all levels has turned into red-faced screaming matches. America and the rest of the world is coming apart at the seams, descending into chaos at precisely the time when we need to all come together to solve very important problems, from exterminating the ISIS infestation (Trump isn’t the Orkin man by any means) to coming to grips with a changing climate and why it’s changing (Trump believes it’s all a hoax).

I’m disappointed in Dems. They pretend to be liberal and progressive, but they’re neither, especially the latter. Most are still wringing their hands and trying to blame anyone they can for the election loss, from Sanders to Comey (the expose in the NY Times was the sleaziest example of reporting I’ve seen in years). If they want to know who is to blame, they need to stand in front of a mirror and point their index finger. A recent book, Shattered, points out the chaos in the Clinton campaign, but she was a flawed candidate to begin with, with more baggage than a European snow-princess on a holiday to Mediterranean climes. She was the Edsel of the Dems presented as a Porsche. Biden or Sanders could have done better against Trump, and the book shows Clinton’s campaign staff was inept as hell. She failed by believing them.

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Federalism v. states’ rights…

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

Over two hundred years ago, the country was in a crisis. States, mostly the old British colonies, had too much power under the old Articles of Confederation. A new Constitution was written that weakened states’ rights, establishing that in most cases that federal laws and regulations must be obeyed by the states. There have been pitched battles about states’ rights ever since, most notably during the Civil War. That racism and bigotry still exists in spite of the that war and the federal Civil Rights Act a century later, as well as the dilution of other rights, shows that the federal government still has a hard time enforcing a moral high ground…if that’s what it wants to do.

The Trump administration is trying to stand states’ rights on its head, pushing many federally mandated policy decisions back to the states as a way of washing their hands of the problem. From allowing insurance companies to charge more for elders and pre-existing conditions in the healthcare debate (Trump made a campaign promise not to do the latter) to pushing gun-carrying reciprocity (a person carrying a concealed weapon in a southern state will be able to do so in New York and California and other states with more reasonable and tougher gun laws), states’ rights have become a matter of convenience for Trump and his minions to carry out their fascist agendas.

These battles will probably be carried out in the courts where the Trump administration is trying to put extreme right-wing judges on the bench to eliminate one of the last dams protecting the citizenry against his fascist flood. I can just see California and other states with strong laws to protect the environment having to fight the U.S. Justice Department as it defends Trump’s program to eliminate environmental regulations and controls. The dizzying attacks on moral legal traditions use both states’ rights and federal oversight as a double-edged sword to chop down the progressive majority in this country and its insistence for a morally responsible government. Federally funded abortions were outlawed some years ago, but that didn’t stop Trump et al from defunding Planned Parenthood, for example, for the simple reason that they still perform abortions. At best Trump and his minions are motivated by vying for unfettered capitalism; at worst these are nefarious fascist plots to assume autocratic power in a nation that, as tarnished as it’s become, has stood for moral correctness in an often morally incorrect world.

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Preemptive strike against North Korea?

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

The nuclear ogre has been sleeping in his cave since Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That’s a long time, so it’s no surprise that small minds like Trump have forgotten or purposely ignored how terribly destructive that nuclear ogre was. Of course, awakening the ogre is the kind of blustery threat Narcissus le Grand likes to make. This pathetic man believes that like-minded tyrants will bow down before him because he controls the mighty nuclear arsenal of the U.S. His restrained use of Tomahawks against Assad in retaliation for the Syrian despot’s use of sarin gas shows he’s not reluctant to end his isolationist policies and shoot off missiles. How far will he go?

My first criticism: U.S. leaders have NO business talking about preemptive strikes. Their cause must be geared to sanity in this insane nuclear world, setting an example for the rest of the nations and their leaders. Emboldened by Trump’s rhetoric perhaps, India is talking about preemptive strikes. Against Pakistan? Against other non-Hindu ethnic groups? Will Israel unleash the nuclear ogre on Iran—or vice versa? North Korea against South Korea? Right now North Korean missiles can’t reach the U.S. mainland, but that can change. They can easily reach Japan and South Korea, though. That ogre owes no allegiance to any nation and is indifferent about which one he gnaws on. His only goal when awake is to fill his maws with human beings.

I’m in agreement with Il Duce’s limited response toward Syria’s Assad with respect to the sarin gas attack. It followed seven years of frustrating attempts at a diplomatic solution complicated by Russia’s entry into the foray into the skirmish on the side of the Syrian despot. In 2013, we thought Assad got rid of his chemical weapons—obviously he didn’t. The attack on that little Syrian town was obviously his tactic for determining how far he could go, so the measured response was correct. Whether this will keep him from using such weapons again—I would have liked to see all his airfields destroyed for that reason—and it might drive the particulars back to the diplomatic table, no one can predict what Trump will do in the future. Will he shake his nuclear stick at Assad now? What will Russia, Iran, and the various terrorist groups do in response?

Tyrants like Trump aren’t known for their diplomacy. In Trump’s case, that’s ironic because he and his minions are often touting his skills using that infamous “Art of the Deal.” So far in his administration, he has only governed like a tyrant with his executive orders, the one move against Assad being a notable exception. Even the latter bypassed Congress, and those executive orders tend to get bogged down in the court system. There is no deal making whatsoever (so far his healthcare wheeling and dealing has flopped because he can’t get the factions in his own party together). You have to wonder if his definition of “deal” is as twisted as those “alternative facts” used in his tweets, in other words. There is no diplomacy in his deal making, only bluster and strong-arming, “talents” he developed in his very restricted and surreal business world that has little or no relevancy in international politics, or even politics in general.

Hence my second criticism: Trump (or any other president, for that matter) should be forced to appeal to diplomacy before going to war, especially nuclear war. The less likely diplomacy is used, the closer that Doomsday Clock approaches midnight. The Cuban Missile Crisis brought us to the brink of nuclear war; diplomacy brought us back. There was no pre-emptive strike against the Cuban missile installations. Instead, Kennedy waited for the Soviet Union to blink. The threat of retaliation and assured destruction, not a pre-emptive strike, solved that crisis, and that threat was iterated to Kruschev in no uncertain terms, an example of strong diplomacy, to be sure, but still diplomacy.

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Free and responsible journalism…

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

I’ve always admired journalists. The good ones far outnumber those paparazzi and in-your-face reporters. They are maligned and persecuted even in democracies, and we all know what can befall them in regions of the world where despots and fanatics know the power of a free press and try to stop it at all costs. Many journalists, real or fiction, were childhood heroes of mine, and in my books the reader will find journalists of all kinds as principal characters (in my first book, Full Medical, ezine reporter Jay Sandoval helps bring down a government conspiracy; in the “Detectives Chen and Castilblanco Series,” Pam Stuart, Castilblanco’s wife, is a TV reporter often involved in her husband’s adventures; and in The Golden Years of Virginia Morgan, an investigative reporter plays a major role in toppling another conspiracy).

A free press is absolutely essential if a country wants to call itself democratic. “Free” means independent of government control. The concept is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. Along with the independent executive, legislative, and judicial sections of government (with X systems, some of the first two overlap), one has four strong legs that lift up and provide a solid foundation. The first signs of a democracy coming apart, no matter how the despots spin it, can be found when any of these legs begin to crack. For example, Venezuela no longer has an independent press, legislature, or judiciary—the “president” is becoming yet another South American strong man. We have watched the process in Russia progressively worsen as the despot Putin consolidated his power. Many of Putin’s victims are, in fact, journalists.

It’s therefore no surprise that a despotic-minded Trump is attacking the press. As in 1930’s Germany, Bannon, Conway, Miller, and Spicer help engineer this attack—a formidable and evil quartet. Because a free press is involved with the control and flow of information in order to maintain an informed citizenry, also essential for a democracy, distortion of information and attacks on the free press are par for the course. Narcissus le Grand and his minions spend lots of time battling the press, spinning and manipulating information, and creating false information. As Goebbels well knew, and Putin and other modern despots know, tyrants can often win their despotic battles against the citizenry without guns or violence. A psychological coup d’etat can be just as effective if the citizenry accepts the version of news propagated by the government. This was a major theme in Orwell’s 1984, but that book was fiction—Putin and Trump are real despots, not fictional ones, and their techniques have been considerably by the march of technology, which despots can use as well as anyone else, if not more so.

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Three or more ways to stymie Trump…

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

Resisting Mr. Trump and his policies on a case by case basis—proving the connection with Russia, fighting the immigration executive order (the new one now), defeating the SCOTUS nominee, preventing the end of ACA, and so forth— makes Trump happy. Why? Because he’s spreading the progressive opposition so thin that we can’t really get organized. Along the way, he’s pandering to all the bigots, haters, and one-percenters in the country, a large crowd of anti-progressive people who return the favors shown by encouraging him—a run-away positive-feedback mechanism that is likely to destroy American democracy. He and his cronies work hard on their agendas as a result; they’ve become obsessed with sticking it to the American public. They will succeed if some strong and organized counterattack isn’t carefully planned and implemented.

Because the Dems are in disarray—too many faux-liberals are still pointing fingers at everyone except themselves with respect to the 2016 electoral loss—they can’t mount a good counterattack in the present circumstances. And it’s not just here but also abroad. Right-wing “populist movements,” like the one led by Le Pen in France, or BREXIT, have plagued Europe for some time—populist only in the sense that fascist-thinking leaders can bamboozle an ignorant public into thinking that demagoguery and isolationism will make the world better for them. That’s what happened in Germany, Italy, and Spain in the 1930’s. Maybe it’s just a cycle we have to go through. If so, that cycle becomes more dangerous each time it happens. Now human lemmings can jump over the atomic cliff to their death—remember they didn’t have the A-bomb until the end of World War Two. Even starving North Korea has about ten nukes or more by now, Pakistan and India have them, and, although they deny it, so does Israel, and Iran is on its way there, especially with Mr. Trump in office.

The least extreme measure we can take to stymie the Donald is to ensure that he has Congress against him after the 2018 congressional elections, if that’s not too late (remember he has those missile launch codes with him at all times); clear majorities in the House and Senate are needed not only to stymie future onslaughts by the GOP and the Trump administration, but to roll back everything he and McConnell and Ryan will do to con the American public in his first two years. Even if Trump’s successful with Gorsuch, the courts might continue to stymie him, but true progressives (and not faux-liberals!) need to take back the House and Senate so that nothing more can get passed that doesn’t serve the needs of the country and its citizens. That’s going to be difficult, especially in the House where districts have been gerrymandered by both the Dems (many faux-liberals contributing to that) and the GOP (many extreme right-wingers making their anti-democratic deals there) to guarantee perpetual re-electability.

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Waging war against Gaia…

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

I’m expecting a bloodbath in the EPA, NASA, NOAA and possibly other agencies as Mr. Trump wages war on the environment. Many employees there are civil service, but that might not stop Il Duce AKA Narcissus le Grand—he’ll just close down the agencies if he wants to get rid of them. The EPA, NASA, and NOAA are where many of those “bad scientists” can be found who disagree with the GOP claim that climate control and taking care of the environment have low priority. Narcissus le Grand even believes global warming is a hoax.

What’s driving all this is Trump’s desire to end all environmental regulations so that companies, his included, can pollute and destroy the environment as much as they want, a particularly virulent and dangerous example of capitalism without controls. Even now, they ship high-tech toxic waste and other crap to places like Bangladesh. Il Duce and his minions probably think it would be cheaper just to dump it somewhere in the U.S. How ‘bout not doing it at all?!

Disasters like that BP oil well in the Gulf, destruction of the Great Barrier Reef, poisoning wells and water supplies—those kinds of things are just part of doing business, according to Trump and his cronies. He names Pruitt to head the EPA and one of the gnome’s first public acts is to deny the role of CO2 in global warming. C’mon!

Many scientists are worried. A week before Il Duce’s inauguration, more than 250 volunteers met at UPenn for a two-day binge of downloading climate data and storing it on independent servers. “If you don’t want to do anything about climate change,” said Texas A&M atmospheric scientist Andrew Dessler, “you are in a stronger position if you get rid of the data.” Gretchen Goldman, research director for the Center of Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists said, “With a president who doesn’t respect scientific information, one abuse could be data mysteriously disappearing from websites, or government scientific websites may suddenly have misinformation.” Most of the data that was saved was from NOAA, EPA, DoE, and NASA.

One of those infamous executive orders from Narcissus le Grand could restrict data access from outside the U.S. Trump’s evil minions are already talking about clamping down on the internet and allowing service providers to have multi-tier systems—that’s been on the GOP hit list for some time. And shortly after the inauguration, Trump ordered the EPA to delete climate change pages from the EPA’s website, but he then backtracked on that order when the roars of protest became deafening. The order for EPA scientists and other agencies’ scientists not to post on social media or communicate with reporters still stands, though. Inside the agencies that do climate-related research, Goldman says “morale is low. People are scared.” Scared for their jobs, because Il Duce likes to fire people who disagree with him!

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Post-mortem of a speech to Congress…

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

In some dilating time machine or Mr. Trump’s parallel universe, ages have passed since he gave that speech to Congress. In real life, it was only a week ago—can you believe it? Everything he said is meaningless now, so dissecting that rambling rhetoric of a delusional man is anti-climactic. But let’s do it anyway because the president left the Twitter-sphere long enough to sound presidential and hide his narcissistic psychosis.

It’s curious that the media, after the president declared them to be the “enemy of the American people,” fell all over themselves to state that his “state of the union” (read: state of Trump’s parellel universe, that one that circulates among the dark energy and matter of his mind) set a new tone. Il Duce was even called presidential because he sounded presidential. But not for me—he’s not my president! He never will be my president, and isn’t the president of a majority of the American people.

What I heard was empty rhetoric reminiscent of Goebbels’s 1930’s propaganda in Germany—in other words, fascistic spin and appeal to populism playing on the fears of good Americans. His handlers, Bannon, Conway, and Miller, who take turns at the puppet strings—yes, he’s a marionette, even stringing himself along—carefully planned this atrocious display. If it was some crazy attempt to reach across the aisle, Dems won’t buy the snake oil from this charlatan, and didn’t—the thumbs-down from the Dem women in white were refreshing and evidence for their general mood—Trump the misogynist is women’s rights worst enemy. Narcissus the Wonderful shows no concern about women’s issues—we know he sees them only as objects—and on abortion, he’s as much a right-wing bigot as they come.

Let’s consider a few points. On trade, Trump might have sounded a wee bit like Sanders. There’s a huuuuge difference, though. Both men were born in Brooklyn, but the two are light years apart—Trump might actually live in one of those other multiverses where his marionette strings are tangled with those of general string theory. In particular, where Bernie was an earnest and honest champion for the working class, Il Duce doesn’t really give a rat’s ass about their plight—it’s all just show. He follows the time-tested fascist strategy of pretending to do so, of course—that’s how Franco, Hitler, and Mussolini came to power in the 1930s! U.S. workers should be wary about buying anything from this snake-oil salesman. Pay attention to his false promises at your own risk!

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