Modern Life

My trusty xootr parked so I could take a picture of the Ferry Building. Yes it is a new one, the latest Xootr MG

The weekend in the city (San Francisco) is always a pleasure and another chance for life to slap you in the face.  That is a good thing by the way.  My daughter was flying in from London via LA for dinner on Saturday, and she who must not be mentioned her and I have our 37th anniversary next week so it seemed a perfect time to spend a few days in the city.  So with the dog at doggy daycare, and the cat wherever the hell she wants to be (plenty of food and water, plus she can slip into the garage through her “cat door”), we were off Friday morning.

Driving to the city the weekend before Labor

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Lovely Serena at Coqueta

Day is a smart because there is not any traffic to speak of as I guess everyone is saving up for the next weekend, either come into the city or leaving it.  I would prefer to take the train and just forget about driver strain, but having the car in the city is a useful to store stuff.  We usually just park the car in the Embarcadero Center and then anything we buy we can drop off until we leave.  Besides, as evidenced by my Xootr above, I do have to bring my toys.  The one thing about the drive that does always amaze me is that people just hate it if you leave a reasonable following distance between you and the car in front of you.  So eventually they pass you on the right and then they are the guy/gal you are trying to leave a reasonable following distance behind, and they don’t deserve it.

Okay, into the city and we usually eat lunch at either the Slanted Door or Hog Island in the Ferry Building.  It is like coming home.  We wanted light so we went to the Slanted Door for their Crispy Rolls and white wine.  Then we checked into our hotel and went our different ways, one shopping and one Xootr, you can guess who did which.  Now here is where it gets interesting.  First, as you can see, my Xootr is a scooter for adults.

Crispy Rolls at Slanted Door

Crispy Rolls at Slanted Door

I have really bad knees and this thing can get you around the city in amazing good time.  The other thing was a lot more people are catching on because I saw a lot of people on scooters, some motorized (wimps).

So I went down along the Embarcadero dodging people, which I am getting really good at.  It is amazing how many people walk with their head stuck in their phones.  I think it is part of the great plan to weed out people who do not watch where they are going.  I mean really.  You pass some young couple and they are both totally focused on their phones and this beautiful city just passes them by.  I did see one lady walk into a parking meter.  Anyway, the great unknown path is along the Embarcadero going toward Fisherman’s Wharf.  It goes around a bunch of the piers and has few people so it is clear sailing.  So after I had turned around and come back to the Ferry Building, I decided to stop and get some cash from a Bank of America ATM in the Ferry Building.  It ATE MY CARD!

So I called the number on the machine and they said, “Oh we are so sorry, the machine will shred it, not to worry, have a good day, oh and call your bank (Credit Union in this case).  So I called them to report the card missing and they asked me for my verbal key phase.  Huh?  I am Steve Lightner, ask me anything but I don’t know anything about a “key phrase”.  Oh I would have had to set that up in one of their branches in person, but I haven’t been in a branch in 15 years.  No, really.  Sorry, we can’t help you.  Well, does the key phrase have a hint?  Nope, no hint.  So what do I do for cash?  Well, there is a Credit Union up on Market, past the Civic Center (thanks Google) where if I show them my ID, I can get up to $500.  Oh, and to get a new card I either have to come in, or write a letter.  They will verify my signature.  Holly Shit.  Have gone that batshit crazy?  Answer Yes.

So I BARTed up to the Civic Center, Xootred to the Credit Union (not mine of course, and the nice folks helped me out.  All this at a dead run (well what a guy with very bad knees would call a run) to beat 5 pm when they closed.  It was invigorating and I did get lots of exercise.  I just wonder what kind of a world we are building.

Fried Oysters at Ferry Plaza Seafood

Fried Oysters at Ferry Plaza Seafood

Okay, nice fish dinner at Ferry Plaza Seafood that used to be at the Ferry Plaza, but when Hog Island expanded, moved up to Washington Square.  It was really a nice clean open space, service was excellent, and the fish (I hate to admit it but I had fried oysters and Crab Louie) was superb.  But there weren’t many people in there.  I guess in North Beach they are looking for Italian.

Saturday, of course was a trip down to the Ferry Building for breakfast and the market.  I don’t care what anybody says, the market on Saturday at the Ferry Building is probably one of the best in the country with fresh produce from all over the state, cheeses, meats, oysters and fish, fresh rotisserie foods, you name it.  Oh and every kind of bread and pastry you can name.  Plenty of places just set up to cook you an amazing breakfast, always with a Blue Bottle Coffee to really wake you up.  Then it was on to my niece’s son’s birthday in a playground near Washington Square.

Visit by Darth Vader

Visit by Darth Vader

It was nice because the whole family was there, and the theme was Starwars since Charlie is a big fan.  And sure enough Darth Vader showed up to thrill the kids.  So I am watching all this and the next character enters the park wearing his hair in a bun, short Ninja pants, all in black, and I figured a character from one of the movies I haven’t seen.  Nope, just local color.  If you ever think people might think you are a nut job as an old guy riding a Xootr around the city with a helmet, trust me, you don’t even scratch the surface of different in this city.  Kind of nice in a way.

So we stayed away from the ice cream cake and pizza and snuck away after awhile and headed for The Wayfare Tavern down on Sacramento Street.  We were going to have a very light lunch of their famous deviled eggs and wine.  But The Wayfare Tavern is also famous for their fried chicken so what the heck.  It was wonderful.  Just a great way to spend lunch with my most favorite person in the world.

Okay, I went for another Xootr ride to work off lunch.  I wanted to go down to a little park next to Embarcadero Center Four where there is a whole colony of parrots.  Yes I said parrots.  They were either escapes or released birds and it turns

Fried Chicken, deviled eggs, and mushrooms, an Abarino at Wayfare Tavern

Fried Chicken, deviled eggs, and mushrooms, an Abarino at Wayfare Tavern

out they can survive in certain areas in San Francisco.  They are noisy little critters, but very beautiful and not something you would expect to see in San Francisco.

Now comes the whole reason for the trip, to meet my daughter for dinner at Coqueta.  This is a new hot spanish place that specializes in small plates and I knew Serena would love it.  We met her at La Mar for drinks and then to Coqueta for dinner.  I won’t bore you with all the plates we ordered but it was very, very good.  But the best part of the night, besides being with she who must not be mentioned here and my daughter who I am so very proud of, was people watching in Coqueta.  As I said it is the new hot place so all the “right” people are going to be coming in for dinner.  Let me just say we had a range of obnoxious self-important, to hot babe with her sugar daddy.  It was just a great night.

So another trip to SF and a visit with my favorite daughter and it is already over.  Well we are trying to plan something in San Diego for Thanksgiving.  Have Xootr will travel.

Octapus small plate at Coqueta

Octapus small plate at Coqueta

Oh, and for old guys with bad knees, a Xootr or some other inferior scooter adds years to your walking/skate boarding/scooting years.  Remember that song by Roger Miller, You Can’t Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd, well you can Xootr because buffalo have nothing on the crowds along the Embarcadero.

Timothy Egan Said it Best

And I am just going to give you the link and some choice tidbits.  I will preface this by saying any one watching the current election, the rallies, the reporting of it can only say we truly have become a cartoon nation as I wrote last.  Here are some of my favorites:

But surely now, when election news saturation is thicker than the humidity around Lady Liberty’s lip, we’ve become a bit more clue-full. I give you Texas. A recent survey of Donald Trump supporters there found that 40 percent of them believe that Acorn will steal the upcoming election.

Acorn? News flash: That community-organizing group has been out existence for six years. Acorn is gone, disbanded, dead. It can no more steal an election than Donald Trump can pole vault over his Mexican wall.

Yeah right media, these are really angry people who are suffering in this economy.  Just replace angry with ignorant and you would be closer to the truth.

We know that at least 30 million American adults cannot read. But the current presidential election may yet prove that an even bigger part of the citizenry is politically illiterate — and functional. Which is to say, they will vote despite being unable to accept basic facts needed to process this American life.

“There’s got to be a reckoning on all this,” said Charlie Sykes, the influential conservative radio host, in a soul-searching interview with Business Insider. “We’ve created this monster.”

Trump, who says he doesn’t read much at all, is both a product of the epidemic of ignorance and a main producer of it. He can litter the campaign trail with hundreds of easily debunked falsehoods because conservative media has spent more than two decades tearing down the idea of objective fact.

If Trump supporters knew that illegal immigration peaked in 2007, or that violent crime has been on a steady downward spiral nationwide for more than 20 years, they would scoff when Trump says Mexican rapists are surging across the border and crime is out of control.

If more than 16 percent of Americans could locate Ukraine on a map, it would have been a Really Big Deal when Trump said that Russia was not going to invade it — two years after they had, in fact, invaded it.

If basic civics was still taught, and required, for high school graduation, Trump could not claim that judges “sign bills.”

Two things here, the Republicans to hang on to their power and failed ideology created ignorance where facts are just opinions, and Trump is the natural result.  All you good neighbors and friends, you know, good people who vote Republican enabled the dismantling of our country.

But what you don’t know really can hurt you. Last year was the hottest on record. And the July just passed was earth’s warmest month in the modern era. Still, Gallup found that 45 percent of Republicans don’t believe the temperature. We’re not talking about doubt over whether the latest spike was human-caused — they don’t accept the numbers, from all those lying meteorologists.

Of late, almost half of Floridians have done something to protect themselves from the Zika virus, heeding government warnings. But the other half cannot wish it away, as the anti-vaccine crowd on the far left does for serious and preventable illnesses.

I’m sorry that my once-surging Seattle Mariners dropped two out of three games to the Yankees this week. I just prefer not to believe it. And look — now my guys are in first place, no matter what the skewed “standings” show. In my own universe, surrounded by junk fact and junk conclusions, I feel better already.

Timothy got to the heart of the problem.  It should be the lead in the news:  Amazing stupid people believe the following!  But instead we get “differing opinions”.  Ridicule is our only hope.

Caricatures

I would comment on what is happening in the world this morning, but I feel like we are living in a cartoon world where the characters are all caricatures of real people.  Donald Trump can’t be real and the only place he could have come from is a cartoon.  He is yuge.  The stuff he says isn’t real, and certainly could only be believed by other cartoon characters. That gets me to his supporters.  While the press (I will get to them in a minute) want us to believe these are angry  people with real concerns, all I see are cartoon caricatures of angry people with real concerns.  There is no there, there.  They are so mindless and ignorant of facts, they could only exist in a cartoon world.

So how did we get here?  Enter our cartoon news media.  Now not all media has become cartoonish, but almost all television news has.  There was a time when they reported the news and informed.  Now their goal is entertainment, enter the cartoon characters looking for conflict, real or imagined anywhere.  Take the “ransoming” of hostages out of Iran.  It has been totally debunked, it was money owed and the payment was simply timed to ensure timely action by the Iranians.  But the press senses conflict and differing opinions where facts are irrelevant to the story, so we get this cartoon approach to news.  It entertains and the fact that it is more like a cartoon of people fighting than real people armed with real facts debating is the problem.

The President visited Louisiana yesterday and on MSNBC the lead was, “The President visits Louisiana amid criticism that he should have ended his vacation and gone down there earlier.”  That was the story.  Now the fact that it was cartoon characters from the Republican Party who were criticizing him, after the Governor had asked him not to come down and the support provide by the feds was really helping (making the cartoon characters from the Republican party look like, well, cartoon characters of politicians), never made it to the story.  Real people can’t be this brain dead, only cartoon caricatures of them, right?

Here is another example on the local news, promoing the upcoming segment: “Hillary Clinton now says Colin Powell advised her to use a private server.”  Hillary did not just now say it, the FBI released her testimony way back when and that is what she told them.  That’s a big difference.  Oh, and the press, like a dog with a bone, sensing more conflict went to Colin Powell who doesn’t remember and as the press characterized it, is pushing back.  This is the man of integrity that told a totally false story to the world, and then when he discovered he had been used, did not resign?  It is a cartoon world.

One last example.  Do you remember the character played by Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mocking Bird, Atticus Finch?  He was slow talking and deliberate.  He considered things carefully and was kind.  That is a real person.  That is how we should all be.  Can you imagine how our cartoon news media would deal with him?  Think they would allow him to finish a sentence or listen carefully to him?  Yosemite Sam is running for president, Senator Foghorn Leghorn is running politics, and Tom and Jerry are doing the news.

Hard Decisions

Zika is coming! Zika is coming!  Yeah, it probably is.  I think it was estimated the other day that half of the residents of Puerto Rico will be infected.  How many children will be disabled?  Yet Congress, led by the Republicans, doesn’t want to fund what the CDC told them they will need.  So we don’t care about Puerto Ricans, but as it migrates up the Florida coast we might think twice.  After all if it’s us, not them, then it gets important.  But in looking at this in another light, it is in fact the death panels, this time headed by penny pinching Republicans, that Sarah Palin warned of.  And let’s be honest, when you ration health care you are in fact deciding maybe who lives and who dies, who gets a disabling disease, who lives a very short life.  Death panels indeed.

And the truth is that day is probably coming (and in some ways as in the above already here).  Who gets saved and who dies when a pandemic hits and health care has to be rationed.  Again, we have been doing this for years by denying universal health care so that the poor are the losers. We (Republicans) don’t admit we are doing it, just being frugal, but we are in fact deciding who lives and who dies depending on your financial status.  So don’t get queazy on me here.  We have been at this for a long long time.

This subject was discussed at length this morning in an article in the NYT where Maryland doctors are trying to come up with a protocal during a pandemic when choices have to be made.  They are trying to involve the public and you have the range from a pure lottery system, to children first.  My contribution to this discussion is first we have to have this discussion and we need a protocal.  We have in fact left this decision to doctors and that is totally unfair, and maybe in the end debilitating.  Second, it is going to happen and we had better be ready for it.  Our new global society will spread a new bug in record time and hospitals will be inundated.  So let’s decide now what the pecking order is.

I don’t think I will weigh in and tell you my opinion, but for sure people like me with cancer and a ticking time bomb in their body should come last.  Age should also play an important role.  Life is a precious gift and we should not sacrifice the young for the old.  Selfishness is a sin after all. Then it gets more complicated.  I know my state (California) already has a protocal, but I don’t know what it is.  

I once watched a movie a long time ago about Japanese honor.  To scratch the surface, saying your sorry does not clear the harm you did.  But one of the things that made me really think about the meaning of life was that for them life itself was not precious, only a life lived honorably.  Define honorably how you may.  But you get the complications here.  Whose life is more important than someone elses.  Yet these decision are being made and may have to be made quite openingly if we have a health crisis.

You can be sure once this gets out there will be large outcries of “death panels”.  I would prefer to call them life panels.  It is dealing with reality and in Maryland’s case, what they are trying to do is noble and necessary.  But like all hard decisions, our conservative friends would rather avoid it until they are standing in a line at the hospital and wonder why they don’t come first.  Some things never change.

Flooding in Louisiana

We got a problem Huston and it is called ignoring reality.  Or maybe I should say there are two realities.  The first is La La Land where this is not part and parcel of global warming and is going to happen more and more frequently.  Oh, and in Donald Trump land he is down there to show his concern and show that the President is ignoring the issue, like that does nothing but detract from the rescue effort.  Of course that is patently false and the head of FEMA is on the ground and the state itself had said please wait for a visit because it does redirect resources needed for rescue and recovery. Oh, and who does not want to fund Flood Insurance?  That would be Republicans.

Now let’s enter reality land instead of partisan twist the facts and never face reality land.  Flood insurance is a federal program because “the market place” could not bear the risk.  And it can’t afford anymore floods, but there will be more.  Here is where politics failed us when reason said we have to quit subsidizing building where it is going to flood.  People would be unhappy and vote for the guy who will bail them out, but how many times do we have to bail them out?  Given the changes in weather patterns brought on by global warming, the program is no longer viable. From the above referenced article:

The White House issued a disaster declaration for 20 parishes in Louisiana following flooding that killed 13 people and damaged an estimated 40,000 homes. Almost half of the people in Louisiana’s high risk flood zones have insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program, and more than 85,000 people have registered for federal disaster aid with FEMA. The problem is, the flood insurance program is billions in debt.

…When Congress passed the program, they passed extensive subsidies and the intent was that those subsidies would last for about 20 years, and they haven’t,” she said. “They’ve lasted for more than 50 years.”

Moore said federal policy should stop encouraging and paying for people to rebuild their homes in flood zones. And lawmakers should make information about flood damage and flood risk readily available to home buyers.

Well, so far we have seen political cowardice (authorize a program and not fund it) and we have neither recognized the true flooding threat due to global warming or had the nerve to say we can’t subsidize your risk building in flood prone areas anymore.  Even before global warming was widely known, I worked in the New Orleans District Corps of Engineers, basically designing flood walls along the Mississippi*.  Even then it was well known that the real solution was to not rebuild or build flood walls along the river, but to get people to move back from the river (not rebuild) so the rivers had places to spread out in high flows.  It would be less costly and more healthy for the environment.  But politics being what it is, short term keep them happy is what drives the train. So we built levees and flood walls along the river and created a multitude of other environmental problems.

Now we simply can’t afford it.  It’s a free country and you can build where you want, but you are on your own.  Harsh?  Isn’t that the market place at work?  And in this case true reality?  So what to do about the current crisis in Louisiana?  These are our fellow Americans.

First some snark.  Isn’t Louisiana redder than red in Congress?  Aren’t they the ones who hold back funds on say Zika research and prevention, funding anything to fix the Flint Michigan lead contamination, or deny global warming.  Who wouldn’t fund Sandy relief? Who was in charge during Katrina when FEMA was a hopeless mess? But when they are up to their asses in alligators they cry wolf?  We are a village?  You hypocritical asses. Your problems are everyone’s problem, but their problems are, well, their problem.  Welcome to the world of conservatives and the Republican Party.    Okay, back to being a nice rational person.

Yes, we have to help them.  But we have to do it in a responsible way.  Only about 45% actually have federally funded flood insurance.  So let’s start with them.  Be clear the fund is broke and their representatives probably won’t fund it in the future or even fund it now.  So if they get their money and can rebuild there has to be a disclosure.  This is going to happen again unless we fund and build infrastructure to prevent it, and next time you are on your own.  Global Warming exists and these storms are just the beginning.  You voting Republican is a great part of this problem.

Second, what about all those that lost everything with no insurance?  Well they are not going to like this.  FEMA and the Red Cross will work for temporary relief and housing, and offer them low insterest loans to build again, but it is a loan, another debt.  We will get you through this tough time, but then you have to accept the responsiblity for your choices.  And if you rebuild in the same place, you will not get flood insurance anymore and next time you are on your own.  We can’t keep doing this over and over again.

Tough love.  Not really.  We need to help those who have been hit by a disaster, but the disaster was predictable if you did not ignore science and data.  Politicians and especially Republicans have facilitated this kind of denial, but not funded the results of that denial.  And unless we change our ways, get in touch with science and data, and do planning for our future with that reality in mind, this is just a reoccurring nightmare.  In other words the future is not a Republican one, but one based soundly on science, data, and a balance sheet that says we can’t afford to continue to do stupid things.  It is called being progressive.  Who knew Progressives were more fiscally responsible than Republicans?  Anyone who has been paying attention since the disaster of the Reagan years.  Look at the data.  Oh wait! I forgot!  They have their own data and facts.

*No, during Katrina none of mine failed, but neither did any other flood walls fail.  What failed was the assumptions about the soils beneath the flood walls that allowed them to be pushed over.  Sadly as a structural engineer you rely on the subsurface data given you and apparently a lot of it was simply bad.

The State of Affairs

You wish they’d listen to reason, scientific facts, the truth, but if they’re corrupt, the only weapon you’ve got is ridicule.”
This is a quote from an article  about Virginia Tech professor of civil and environmental engineering, Marc Edwards.  He was the scientist/engineer that helped expose and then fight with Flint Michigan Water officials to expose the lead in their waters.  It is where we are at when “reason, scientific facts, the truth” don’t hold sway anymore.  Donald Trump and his followers spew misinformation, lies, or just rumors and no one seems to have the courage to out shout them and do what Virginia Tech professor Marc Edwards did, start ridiculing them.

Yesterday on The Rachel Maddow Show, she had a young man and his father on her show yesterday (Jake Anantha and his father, Ramesh Anantha), to describe Jake being removed from a Donald Trump rally by security and accused of being a protester, even though he was an actual Trump supporter. Jake and his father are brown skinned and Jake looks to be a first generation immigrant.  Jake went to the rally because he thought Donald Trump represented everyone.  Now he gets it.

Jake, like many Americans believe what they want to until they are runover by the truck of reality.  They have to be slammed in the face before they get it. The question you have to ask is why you did not get this before?  We are swirling in information about Trump, his lies, his racism, his thuggishness, and you think he is for everyone?  What kind of selective listening can screen out this obvious reality.  For that matter what kind of selective listening can think there is a future in coal or any other carbon based fuel?  Louisiana is up to its ass in water in a thousand year storm that are now happening more and more frequently and what kind of selective listening can ignore global warming.  The Republican kind.

When the Donald went Breitbart, and fired his campaign manager trying to pull him back to semi-normal, we got racism, misinformation, twisting of facts, and shouting.  It will be 100% Benghazi, emails, and any other mud they can pull up while ignoring real issues and refusing to answer questions.  We have already seen that this week as instead of addressing a question like why is you candidate continuing to fall in the polls, they shout back America doesn’t care about that, what about the emails?  Whenever you are put on the defensive, go on the offensive.

Why does it work?  Well one reason is that our talking heads don’t know how to deal with it.  In their world it is okay to ask penetrating questions, but be fair and polite.  The other side does not abide by those rules.  They are neither fair or polite and they hurl back half truths or outright distorations and ask why aren’t the media reporting on that.  If you could have a rational discussion with them they would be destroyed so they are never going there.  So what should the media do?  

Time for some self-defense classes before the next interview.  Here are the basics. First, never ask a question you do not know the answer to.  In other words you have to be well ground in the facts or you are going to be taken on a fantasy trip.  Second, make them answer the question and challenge their facts.  This is where it gets difficult because they won’t and they will interrupt and shout over you.  

They want to make you the evil press that is suppressing reality when it is actually them.  So interrupt and don’t play their game.  If they won’t answer the question don’t move on, challenge them.  In the immortal words of Marc Edwards, use ridicule.  Are you afraid to answer the question?  In one exchange, a Trump campaign spokesperson was asked about the disruption in their campaign organization.  Response, “The American people don’t want to hear about that, they want to know why Hillary never talks to the press.  What does she really stand for?”  The campaign spokesperson is counting  on no one actually reading all her carefully laid out proposals and in that she is right (they are almost always she these days because it looks bad to argue with a she.  It is bullying).

I know that ridicule goes against everything that good journalism used to be about.  But you are not dealing with rational people anymore.  Fox News has used it for years, ridiculing the truth while surrounded by their fellow La La Land travelors to create an echo chamber of false truth.  But as real journalists, not propaganda misters, you do have facts, science, and data on your side, and that is what you should be fighting for, not differing opinions.  It is your job to fight back.  Otherwise the world is full of Jakes. 

So get the role playing sessions going because the world has changed and so has journalism.  It does not have to be partisan, which is how it will be described.  The problem is that on party, the Republicans left rational thought, data, and science a long time ago, so when you use it, you will appear partisan.  Well you damn well be partisan if that means fighting for truth and honest reporting.  Get ready, because this is going to be ugly.

Friday Morning

Winning is everything, just ask Donald Trump.  Losers are chumps.  And sadly our media has gone down that road too.  But who is the loser when our gold medal swimmers turn into a bunch of frat boys and tarnish everything American?  Their gold medal is no longer an item, just their abysmal behavior at the Olympics.  Kind of the Donald Trump wing of the Olympians. But there have been bright spots where young and older Olympians set the record straight.

I remember the high schoold runner (girl) who made the Olympics team, but did not make the finals.  How disappointing said the press.  She corrected them and said this was an amazing experience running with some of the best women in the world, and she would be back.  This was not a loss, but a journey, an an amazing accomplishment for such a young woman.

Then there was the women’s beach volleyball team who were really fun to watch play and enjoy the game.  Yes the Brazilians beat them and they ended up with the bronze.  But I loved their correction to the interviewer, we didn’t lose the gold, we won the bronze, and they were proud of it.  Somehow in the whirl of globalization we forget that there are great atheletes everywhere and just getting to the olympics is an amazing accomplishment.  Getting a medal is beyond amazing. And celebrating excellence where ever it is found instead of whining about second or third place got lost in media mania. 

And one last thought here.  Sometimes the guy/gal who comes in last is the real story.  Yeah the gold medal winner is the champ, but maybe by natural gifts (and of course hard work), but in the end, it was not that hard for them.  But what of the person who suffered an injury or was just suffering in general and finished anyway, coming in very last when nobody else cared?  Who was more noble here?

And that brings me to the Donald who gave us a non-apology for the gullible that think he has changed his stripes: 

“Sometimes, in the heat of debate and speaking on a multitude of issues, you don’t choose the right words or you say the wrong thing,” Trump said. “I have done that. And believe it or not, I regret it. And I do regret it, particularly where it may have caused personal pain. Too much is at stake for us to be consumed with these issues.

…In this journey, I will never lie to you,” he said. “I will never tell you something I do not believe myself. I will never put anyone’s interests ahead of yours.”

First, let’s just set the record straight, he lies about 91% of the time.  Okay if you don’t like lie, get’s it wrong.  Rachel Maddow had an interesting theory.  She tracked some of Trump’s more outlandish statements and found that when he had made them, these themes were playing out in Brietbart.  So he gets his facts from a basically white supremacist and fact challenged news source.  So his statement, “…I do not believe myself,” is true to the extent he believes a ton of nonsense going back to his birther days.

But the part I like most in this statement is, “Too much is at stake for us to be consumed with these issues.”  No, actually Donald these issues are the very heart and soul of what we should be consumed with, your character.  So while the press loves the narrative that he never tells us what he regrets, the critical line here is that these issues don’t warrant our concern when they tell us everything we need to know about the candidate.  

Oh, and last, on the $400m “ransom” paid, get your fucking facts straight.  It’s a lie and here Vox debunks it.  They just delayed payment that would have had to make anyway and had announced paying earlier, to ensure Iran released the hostages.  This is not ransom, but good negotiating.  You would think Donald supporters might actually like that kind of toughness. 

The Trump Shakeup and What Hillary Should Glean

As widely reported this morning, Trump downgraded his campaign manager chairman Paul Manafort and brought on Breitbart News executive Stephen Bannon.  As reported by the Washington Post, “the decision is intended to curtail Manafort’s efforts to temper Trump’s campaign style. Trump had reportedly begun to feel ‘boxed in’ and ‘controlled.’”  The Breitbart guy has been reported to want to shun the GOP establishment.  So the first thing to understand is that Trump is moving further to the Trump.

Now for all the fools in the Republican Party who have been waiting for the Donald to mellow out and become more presidential (they also live in La La land about global warming, flow down, health care, you name it), this is the sign that the Donald is not going there.  He is going out being the Donald, a narcissistic, ignorant, racist, pathological liar that the White Mob loves.  He will lose big time assuming Hillary doesn’t stumble badly.

But what that means for Republicans is that they will need to move their money and support away from the lost presidential bid, and focus on the down-ballot races trying to save the Senate and House.  If they are successful at that, we are in for four more years of gridlock and nothing gets done.  So what does that mean for Hillary?

Well as I opined the other day, she has to stay focused on how Republican policies have hurt this country.  If she focus too much on the Donald as incompetent and unfit, what does that say about down-ballot races that are distancing themselves from the Donald?  That is where the stewardship of the country, and a successful presidency lie, so while it is important to point he is a buffoon, don’t let the rest off the hot seat.  If you are going to get anything done in the next four years, they have to go. The only way to do that is to show the bankruptcy of their ideas.  Of course Hillary did not ask me, but just the same…

Oh and one more thing. I have seen these people in action. It is attack, attack, attack.  Ask a question and they will not respond but say some thing like, ” The really important question is why Hillary got those people killed in Benghazi.”  Their motiff will be to never be on the defensive and turn the tables, out shout everyone else.  So we will find out if the Press has learned anything and acts as a gate keeper, and the Hillary people better be ready.

Why the Frustration with Government

Drip, drip, drip.  The Donald is said to be a manifestation of the frustration people feel with a government that doesn’t work for them, probably mostly driven by the economic insecurity most middle class Americans feel.  While that is arguable, it is mostly right although tossing out your brain to vote for a racist, misogynistic, pathological liar is a whole other question.  But this morning I was reminded why people are so frustrated and that is because we can’t even do the simple stuff that should not be partisan.  I will give my list:

  • The Feds (DEA) could not wake up to the fact the marijuana is legalized in many states and left it a Schedule 1 drug which total joke, even though they finally allowed some research to prove how stupid they are.  Meanwhile the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals told the Feds that if they could not show that the 10 cases in Washington and California violated any state laws, to quit prosecuting them.
  • Cuba, Cuba, Cuba.  Could we not finally quit posturing and allow open trade?  This is a no brainer, has been for about 40 years, and yet we are led around by our noses by dogmatic morons.  Can’t reward oppressive governments, right.  What about Saudi Arabia or China?  Seems we think open markets there opens their societies, but we can’t quite make the leap to Cuba?
  • It’s getting hotter.  Louisiana just had a 1000 year storm, oh, and a bunch of 500 year storms in the region, but hey, there is no climate change.  Just east of Los Angeles, the place is burning down.  And of course we have a string of hot years, each one hotter than the other, but global warming is a hoax.  On that alone we ought to ask the Republicans if they would like to immigrate to Syria.
  • Guns, guns, guns.  The one common denominator in almost all acts of extreme violence is assault style weapons.  Even the police are getting out gunned and yet, we can do nothing about it?
  • Here is the one I love, Etna just pull out of most Obamacare markets.  They find them to volatile to figure out how to charge to make a profit.  Think about that, making money on your suffering.  Republicans say, “See.  We need to get rid of Obamacare.”  Okay, and replace it with what, the for-profit model that doesn’t work in health care insurance (words are important, I did not say doesn’t work in providing health care, but in health care insurance).  Then there is all the noise about providing birth control. Why not just end it like the rest of the world with single payer?
  • Immigration is not going to go away, but that is the Republican approach which of course not only hurts our economy, but robs our tax base.  Why is reform so hard.  Oh, I forgot.  Like marijuana and Cuba, dogma is so much better than reality.  Rule breakers have to be punished.  If South Africa had not seen the folly in that we would see on ongoing race war there even today.

Well you get the drift.  I could add selling weapons to places like Saudi Arabia so they can bomb Yemen and have the Yemenis blame us for their war crimes, or not standing up to Russia in Syria, or …  Well on and on.  It is drip, drip, drip.  Now granted the last two are ripe with possible blow back, but the rest are no-brainers and we do nothing.  I wonder whose fault that is?

Destroying ISIS According to Donald Trump

“We should only admit to this country those who share our values and respect our people.  The time is overdue to developing a new screening test for the threats we face today.  I call it extreme vetting. In addition to screening out all members or sympathizers of terrorist groups, we must also screen out any hostile attidudes to our country or its principles or who believe that Sharia law should surplant American law. Those who do not believe in our Constitution or who support biggotry or hatred will not be admitted for immigration into our country.  To put these new procedures in place we will have to temporarily suspend immigration from some of the most dangerous and volatile regions of the world that have a history of exporting terrorism…The support networks for radical Islam in this country will be stripped out and removed one by one viciously if necessary…Those who are guests in our country preaching hate will be asked to return home immediately and if they don’t do it we will return them home.”

Is anybody dying laughing but me?  This is policy?  Oh, where to begin?  First off is the implicit assumption that the bad people are flowing into the country.  Name them.  We have had a drop in the bucket in Syrian immigrants and they have caused no problems. After 9/11 we have mostly been attacked by Americans.  Yes one was a wife, but are we going to start restricting who Americans can marry?  Okay let’s start off with “extreme vetting. What the hell is that?  Do we water board them?  And what prevents them from telling us anything they want?  Oh, and we do vet them.  The whole thing is meaningless.

“In addition to screening out all members or sympathizers of terrorist groups, we must also screen out any hostile attidudes to our country or its principles or who believe that Sharia law should surplant American law.”  Really?  What’s next, socialist leanings?  I thought we lived in a country where you have the freedom to believe what you want.  On, and isn’t some of his most fervent  supporters telling us this is a Christian nation?  What’s the difference other than selecting the religious laws you want to see passed?  And neither one is consistent with the Constitution that says there will be no religious test for office or that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.

Next up is “Those who do not believe in our Constitution or who support biggotry or hatred will not be admitted for immigration into our country.”  Hmm.  If hatred or biggotry are not American values, we would have to deport the entire White Mob, not to mention the Donald himself.  Oh and don’t forget those who want to deny gays their American rights under the guise of religious freedom.  And Donald, do you have a clue or know anything about the process for citizenship?  Just what is it again they swear allegiance to?  They actually know more about what the Constitution actually says than the Donald (See the Khans) and have to pass a test on it. I love to give the Donald that test.

“To put these new procedures in place we will have to temporarily suspend immigration from some of the most dangerous and volatile regions of the world that have a history of exporting terrorism.”  So those fleeing violence and terrorism are up shit creek?  If things were not in an uphevel, they would want to stay at home.  And who is the biggest supporter of exporting terrorism?  Our good friends the Saudis.  How many Saudis are immigrating to the U.S.?

The support networks for radical Islam in this country will be stripped out and removed one by one viciously if necessary.”  Um, again we we find we do.  It is a serious offense to support radical terrorism.  So what does he mean?  All mosques?  Does he mean we will harass religious groups with no proof of any involvement? Think about the word viciously.  Where in the Constitution does it say we will be vicisous?  That would be the way we might describe the Stasi of East Berlin or the SS of Hitler.  Is that who we are?

Those who are guests in our country preaching hate will be asked to return home immediately and if they don’t do it we will return them home.”  Well first define preaching hate.  Would that be saying gays are lessor human beings?  Would that be labeling all Muslims as the problem?  Would that be saying President Obama is the founder of ISIS?  Would that be telling your followers you would like to “smack” protestors?  We have a real free speech issue here.  If in fact hate speech incites violence (cry fire in a theater), you are committing a crime and can deported.  So one has no idea what Trump is talking about here.  Oh, and show me where the problem is?  Some religions preach hate all the time.

Sadly I did not hear the news media delve into this, only talk about how it might help refocus his campaign, and how it would  play in Peroria.  So I did it myself.  But here is one last thought for the amount of bull shit that man is slinging:  He does not want to nation build anymore and wants America first and then called the President the founder of ISIS for withdrawing from Iraq.  So which is it Donald?