Archive for the ‘Critical Thinking’ Category.

General Kelly and Seeing the Real Problem

After the FF (Fat F*ck, aka President Trump) turned the killed servicemen into a political issue, and then totally botched  the call after the Press had asked if he had made any calls (where he lied about other presidents), Generally Kelly came out and made an impassioned plea to depoliticize the whole issue, explaining what happened.  Now this should have both been pointed at his boss and ended the issue, but then he turned around and made a partisan political attack on the Congresswoman in the car where call was made (at the request of the grieving parents).  Trump of course lied about all this instead of saying, I botched and I am truly sorry, to which Kelly did not deny the conversation, but attack the Congresswoman for making a “private” call public.

Well, bull shit.  First she was asked to be there and it was put on speakerphone.  Was the President alone when the call (No)?  Secondly he offended them with his lack of empathy, which is just another instance of why he should not be president.  But then Kelly made a partisan attack on the Congresswoman, racial in undertones, showing he is not the steady hand that some were hoping for.  Kelly even made references to “other” gold star families who have spoken out and he had no right to tell them they cannot use their First Amendment rights. Then there was what was sacred discussion that let you know this man is so far removed from reality that he too is dangerous. I think Lawrence O’Donnell took his attack apart better than anyone because he had the guts to.

I want you to note one other thing.  What General Kelly heard and told the FF to say is not the same thing he said.  It is a classic example of how little understand the FF has of the human condition.

Meanwhile the Republicans passed a budget bill on all Republican votes that most of them do not know what is in it.  It was to get a win.  So far the reasonable experts tell us a couple of things.  It busts the budget and like Kansas, may create a fiscal disaster. Tax cuts don’t necessarily equal growth.  Meanwhile Wall Street is doing great and the FF is taking credit when what is really driving the economy right now is low interest rates, set up in the Obama Administration.  If as most of us think, giant deficit spending that the budget bill and the follow on tax cut will create become a reality, the interest rate will go up, and kiss the economy goodbye.

The other part of this is that less than 52% of Americans own stocks, and the majority of the FF’s supporters do not.  How Wall Street does has little with working Americans, and let’s just review, Bank of America just downgraded Chipotle stocks because they think they pay their employees too much.  Bring back slavery!  That is the mentality we are dealing with.

Meanwhile, ex-Presidents Bush and Obam took on the FF finally.  Of course there is some real hypocrisy here, but at least major figures are starting to stand up.  I am off to Oakland for a Van Morrison concert and will try to ignore the madness that is our government these days.  Happy Friday.

Being An Atheist

Americans have a hard time with this concept.  If you announce you are one, kiss public life goodbye.  I mean what happens to you if you don’t end every speech with God Bless America*? People expect a religious basis for your fundamental principles and if you don’t have a religious one, my God, you are rudderless. “Cry havoc and release the dogs of war!”  Nothing could be further from the truth, but that is the conventional wisdom.  One might ask, what or who was Jesus, except for his philosophy for living our lives?  One might also ask, do you need a heaven or hell so you hold to those ideas when it gets hard?  History has shown us all kinds of beliefs very similar to Christian beliefs or basic philosophy (without the God figure) that came out of reason and thinking about the human condition.

I can be just as principled and founded as the most religious person, but my basic principles are not based on faith or dogma from a book, but observation of the world around us.  And my observation is that there is no God.  Better writers than I have documented the observable problems with religion (Dawkins, Harris). That doesn’t make it true and my beliefs are not like a faith-based belief, it can be changed by observation, data, and science.  However, my experience is that my observations and science reinforce  my view that most people’s beliefs in some all-powerful being involved in their lives is not supported by everything I see around us.

Now here is another thing most Americans can’t get:  I don’t need you to be an atheist.  I don’t care what you are or what you believe, especially if it works for you.  Atheism, at least for me, is not a religion, just an observation.  It is true that once in a while when someone says something religious and remarkably stupid, I do respond, like the hurricane survivor who thanks God for their survival, forgets about the first responders who deployed to pull them out of the flood, and do not hold that same God accountable for the destruction and death all around them.  Sometimes that kind of thinking when it leaks into political thinking gets dangerous to our democracy. See my last blog.  The Constitution was trying to make us free from religious persecution, not free religion to dominate our lives.

One other thing that most Americans do not get is the difference between spirituality and religious belief.  I think we are all connected, not by a supreme being, but by nature itself and the processes that created us.  In a way, one with the force.  Now other than the fact that the very important elements that make up our bodies were created in exploding stars, I have no proof for this, except maybe we all evolved from the same genetic material, which we also have proof for.  I feel a connection to the universe, the sun, the planet, and life on this planet (sadly that includes the FF).  That is my spirituality.  We are in this together and the human condition is universal. And I observe nothing that tells me otherwise.  On the other hand, I see no God anywhere unless you define God as nature itself which is quite different from a guy who wrote a book of rules, and is checking if you were naughty or nice.

Last, let me say that a philosophy about life and the human condition is so much more efficacious than a religion.  See the problem Evangelicals are having when they find a gay person a loved son or dauther.  Reality does not match their faith. Faith makes coming to grips with reality almost impossible.  Watch the Catholic Church try to modernize to reality today about women, love, marriage, and childbirth.  Philosophy, on the other hand, is based upon logic and can be adjusted when we find it no longer reflects reality as we now know it.  It makes our belief and ideas about right and wrong, morality, and justice based upon rational analysis not a book written before the birth of Christ, and rewritten (New Testament) to be more palatable to a changing world.

So there you have it.  Atheism, at least mine, is not a religion, it is just an observation, but one based on science and data.  Your belief is just as valid as mine in the sense that we own it and have a right to it.  The problem I have is when I recognize that right, and most religions do not.  And that is what the Founders were trying to prevent in our Constituion, our intolerance that makes debate and governing impossible.  And it would appear we are losing our grip on that.

*One might also wonder what happens to you if you don’t wear you flag pin everyday.  It would appear that the flag (and flag pin) have become a religious symbol that is required in public life.  Once again we have lost our way.  It is the principles embodied in the Constitution that we can debate that are what we owe our allegience to, not some symblol or flag that has no defined meaning other than a loyalty test to something.


While We Sleep


I was driving to my golf round yesterday (better titled, ball search round) and I caught some of the Sessions’ hearing before the Judiciary Committee yesterday. It is interesting that without asserting executive privilege (which only the President can do), the Republicans who control the committee allowed Little Jeffy (little in the brain, little in the heart) Sessions, the Attorney General (yeah that is how far we have fallen) to hide behind confidentiality with the President, which does not exist. That basically destroys the whole purpose of the Judiciary Committee which among other things is supposed to oversee the Justice Department. I wonder if this had been a Democrat claiming a non-existent asserted confidentiality, how that would have gone down? But I get distracted.

I think it was Orrin Hatch of Idaho pushing little Jeffy’s religious freedom memorandum which the Justice Department issued to the rest of the government about “respecting religious freedom”. I put that in quotes because what it really is, is a license to discriminate based upon religion:

In a memorandum titled “Federal Law Protections for Religious Liberty,” Sessions articulated 20 sweeping principles about religious freedom and what that means for the U.S. government — among them that freedom of religion extends to people and organizations; that religious employers are allowed to hire only those whose conduct is consistent with their beliefs; and that grants can’t require religious organizations to change their character.

Now in my little brain, I thought, “Hmm, did the Founders want us to have religious freedom or freedom from religion and its prejudices? I think mostly the latter having seen the religious wars that had roiled through Europe for hundreds of years*. And of course if you pay attention to history and the framing of the Constitution, because at that time there were state churches and smaller religious sects did not want to be bullied by the big guys, they wanted religion out of government. Note that in the Constitution itself, God is not mentioned, and religion is mentioned only twice, in the original Constitution in Article 6:

“No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States**, and later added as the First Amendment, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Now the intent here is clear and in fact made clear by James Madison in the debates establishing the Constitution when he said, “Religion itself may become a motive to persecution and oppression,” And that is precisely what Little Jeffy Sessions and his Justice Department are about, using religion as a basis to persecute and oppress. Does this say organizations can decide what healthcare you get (if you work for them) based upon their religious beliefs? Hobby Lobby gave us just that decision. Does that say someone can set up discriminatory hiring practices because of their religious beliefs? Can they refuse service because of those beliefs? Yes it does. If you are a religious institution and you discriminate based on that religion, can you still get federal funds? Yes you can.

So we are sliding backwards and forgetting the history of “religious freedom” or as I like to call it, freedom from religion. The Fat F*ck (FF) is into this big time as he made it easier for organizations to deny women access to birth control, but men can get Viagra. Really? Shouldn’t our medical decisions and health care plans be based on good medicine, not religious beliefs? Time for a single payer healthcare system so corporations don’t control our lives? Once you establish the right to discriminate based upon religion, does that not say that White Arians who believe black people are not God’s chosen have every right to discriminate? Where does it stop?

And that was the whole point of getting religion out of government, that you should have a right to believe what you want, but not use that belief to deny other’s their beliefs, and yet that is exactly what we are setting up. This is not a slippery slope, it is a greased cliff. So while you were sleeping, civilization took another step toward the abyss. Isn’t it time we take back our government and reestablish the principle of freedom from religion?

*They also wanted to remove religious absolutism from debate, and allow free and rational debate instead of religious dogma.

**This having been said, it should be noted that several state constitutions do have a religious test — specifically, they deny office to anyone unwilling to acknowledge God or a Supreme Being.)

The Fat F*ck Just Wears You Down

First, why Fat F*ck (FF) instead of Dotard in Charge (DIC). Well, DIC gives him too much credit for being senile instead of just being mean and ignorant. FF kind of captures that. Okay, I started writing this blog to try to put rational thought into the debate with the false notion that if people knew the facts, we might make the right choices. Little did I know that people don’t care about the facts, just snippets to believe what they already want to believe. It makes life so much easier (intellectually lazy) until the consequences of your ignorance comes crashing into to your made up reality. Enter the FF.

Now look, I will be the first to tell you that the Democratic Party lost its way, and may in fact still be wandering in the wilderness. They still seem to be in denial about their basic failure to stand for anything but against the FF. Until they understand that Progressivism is not extreme left, but the only way forward, they are going to be wandering aimlessly. People knew that under Democrats or Republicans, it was still going to be a 1% game. Everyone looks to the stock market for measures of success when for most of us, it does not flow down. Those offering real change got smacked down by the establishment, people did not show up at the polls, and we got the FF. Now you can make the argument, yeah, but Hillary won the popular vote. So what? We got the FF and a lot of people did not vote or voted for change. Boy are they getting their change.

So, here I am trying to explain how health insurance works (you only lower costs when everyone shares the burden), explaining why tax cuts won’t really stimulate todays economy, why walls are really really counterproductive, why striking down trade deals willy nilly is going to hurt us, and why our approach to foreign affairs will be self-defeating, and it is whack-a-mole time. I or others make a rational argument citing loads of facts and data, and the next day the FF is at it again with the same totally false narrative, and you think, do I have to go down this road again? Is it just blowing smoke? Sadly yes. Maybe the only satisfaction is when shit happens, I can tell you I told you so.

Pick up your daily paper, those few of us that do anymore, and there is a ton of data and analysis, no not from left leaning think tanks, but from reliable political scientists, that tell you the tax cut will cost us billions, not create jobs, and run up the deficit, or that the cuts to health care subsidies will hurt all of us and cost more than it saves, or read that our problem is the lack of a flow of immigrants, and all the things we need to know to make smart policy are out there. Then the FF makes up a bunch of lies and we have to go through the whole thing again and it still does not dent about 35% of the population. The FF is lying about the NFL take a knee, or John McCain, or some other personal snit, and then gets called out on the deaths of our servicemen in Niger and then makes up more lies.

Now this is truly disgusting and yet people still try to normalize him and discuss his lies as though somehow they are another reasonable policy position or just of difference of opinion, and once again I pull out my pen, as do most real journalists and try to set the record straight, but it never sticks. Tomorrow, after we have conclusively destroyed his lies, laid out the facts, it is like a new day and we have to do it all over again. There is no stable set of facts that we all operate from and no building blocks to the future. Just a new day with a new round of lies and yesterdays clearing the air made no dent in the chaos. At least that is the way it feels right now. I think I will go play golf.

The Fat F*ck

Sorry, but that is now how I see this despicable man we call the President. As the days go on, you start to wonder why the nation does not throw him out. He stands before us and tells one lie after another, and his behavior obscene, totally unbecoming a president of this country. I have to wonder how anyone at this point thinks he has either business acumen or is a crafty politician. He is a blathering lying fool. The latest was as he stood in the White House Garden pretending he and Mitch don’t despise one another and blatantly lied about President Obama and other presidents meeting with the parents of fallen service men. It was such a blatant and distasteful lie that went beyond the bounds of the new normal of his lying. There is such a sickness here that permeates everything he does. And what he does is out of meanness, spite, and ignorance.

Look at the lies he spouts about Obamacare. He is wrecking it with no thought to what comes next for the people who will suffer. He tells the whopper that most Republicans tell us that we will have more choice and our premiums will go down and he opens the door to junk plans and cuts subsidies to policies for the really poor. Oh and look at that group in the picture with him. Pander white f*cks who have got theirs. And any reasonable analysis tells us this is all a big lie. Sure you will be fine if you are healthy. But when shit happens, and it will, you are back to the pre-Obamacare days where the number one cause of bankruptcy was health issues and medical bills.

Then there is the nonsense he spouts on the Iran nuclear deal. And what he is doing here is mixing apples and oranges. Sure Iran does bad things, but the one they are not doing is building nukes. That is what the agreement was about. And no, there are no violations and it is working. So he just walks away or is going to “negotiate a better deal”? Um, what about the other countries that actually make this thing work? What we are seeing is that the trust of the United States to keep its word is non-existent. That ought to work out well with North Korea.

Here we have a man who is shocked, shocked, shocked at Harvey Weinstein and yet he admitted to sexually assaulting women, but that was just “locker room”. Here we have a man who flaunts using his position of power to enrich himself. Here is a man who stands before the nation and tells us lies about the electrical power plants in Puerto Rico, and threatens to abandon them, our fellow Americans. And here is a man who rates everything he does by the reviews he gets. He spends days on the NFL and says nothing until pressed about the servicemen killed in Africa.

I don’t know how much more evidence you need that he is not fit to be anywhere near the oval office. He is a smug, arrogant, buffoon in the best of lights, and a mean nasty little man who is working out his feelings of inadequacy on the nation by lashing out, destroying everything in his wake in the worst of lights. The really sad thing is that many of us and press lets him off as we get used to his lies. But I find him an embarrassment to the whole notion of what it is to be an American. So let me say this loud and clear, “THAT FAT FUCK IS NOT MY PRESIDENT. I think John McCain, knowing his days are numbered probably said it best when he took on the Trump/Bannon faction of his party when he got his Liberty Award yesterday, but his aim should have been wider at the lack of spine both he and his party have shown over the years to bring us to this abomination. Let’s not forget the ignorance of Sarah Palin. So I will leave you with this, and it is truly a sad thought. I have never been so ashamed and embarrassed to be an American. That is the times we are living in.

Level of Frustration and Other Topics

Today is one of those days I truly hate being old. I look at the devastation in Sonoma and Santa Rosa, and I want to get out there and help. I look at the devastation in Puerto Rico and I want to hop on an airplane and help them rebuild. And the truth is, I wouldn’t be much help. I would just get in the way. That wasn’t always the case, but I simply can’t do it anymore. It is this stark reality of my limitations. It is that reality that I am not what I used to be nor am I going to be again when I could take on almost anything.

I think what makes this doubly frustration is there is so much that could be done and we have a government led by a moron. His best attributes are his ability to tear things down, lie, pander with ignorance and racists, and connive. I know in California, we have good government and good people who will rise to the occasion. So does America, but under the leadership of Republicans and the village idiot, we see a wrecking ball, not leadership to build from the ashes. There is no vision there except some super capitalist utopian hell envisioned by Ayn Rand. I read this this morning about one Santa Rosa woman who lost her home and wanted to get in my car, but again, I would just get in the way:

She’s answering the logistical questions one-by-one: Where will they live? When will the children return to school? She has no answer for the most difficult questions about her upended life: Will things ever be the same?

“Our house had a certain smell to it,” she said. “It was our house. When you come home it has that smell. How can I replicate that smell for my kids, or is it gone forever?”

“This is ranking up there with when my brother died. It’s right up there — one of the worst things that’s ever happened in my life. But I’ve got to suck it up and power through — for my kids and for my husband and for myself. I can’t have a pity party, party of one. Because if I fall apart, we’re all going to fall apart.”

I like to think that we Americans are optimistic and enterprising, that we can fix these things. We are actually, and we can, except we now have a Republican led government that can do nothing, and wonders along with their leader, how they can blame the victims for this tragedy. Remember in Puerto Rico it was their fault because they were in debt (again aided and abetted by Washington and profit sucking financial institutions).

I guess my biggest frustration is there is so much that we could do. There is so much to fix and I want to leap out of my chair and get at it. But like our now Republican enfeebled country, my knees won’t allow any leaping, So I sit here and write. My time on this planet is now limited. But couldn’t we just start fixing a few things so when I do leave I know we are moving in the right direction? I have to figure out how to turn this ship around if only one mind at a time. Like the woman above, and I will rephrase: This is ranking up there with one of the worst times in my life. But I’ve got to suck it up and power through — for my kids and for my wife and for myself. I can’t have a pity party, party of one. Because if I fall apart, we’re all going to fall apart.  We so need a leader to lead us out of the wilderness we have gotten lost in.

Okay, perspective. I can only control what I can control and I am actually a very very lucky man even with the prostate cancer. The world (bubble) which I live in is very blessed. So let’s turn to baseball. Last night the LA Dodgers beat those uppity Cubs and there was a controversial call at home plate. Since some of the disastrous injuries in baseball occur with the catcher trying to block the plate with a runner trying to score (See Buster Posey), it was ruled that unless you have the ball, you cannot black the plate. In this game, as the catcher was catching the ball, he stuck his leg out behind him to block the plate (good way to get your leg broken) and tagged the runner out. On replay it was overturned ruling the catcher was blocking the plate before he had the ball. The old farts in baseball were all aghast. Stupid rule! That is the athleticism of the game! It was great play!

On the contrary, I think they made absolutely the right call. To do anything else would have once again announced open season on catchers trying to catch the ball or make a tag. It would have turned baseball into football at home plate. The thing I love about baseball is that it is driven competition without the violence and hate. This would change that. What I get from all this is how hard change is for people who are used to a certain way of doing things. And that is in a microcosm the problem this country faces as change is accelerating and the Republicans feed fear promising to drag us back to a time that never existed.

One last thought from Nicholas Kristof who took some criticism for his trip to North Korea, which I actually thought was quite informing and alarming as we move toward war and the DIC has no clue what game he is playing. Nicholas defended his actions with this and in this world where news is now a profit center so on-site reporting is at a minimum, we ought to think about:

Being on the ground in a country lets you see things and absorb their power: the speaker on the walls of homes to feed propaganda; the pins that every adult wears with portraits of members of the Kim family; the daily power outages, but also signs that the economy is growing despite international sanctions; the Confucian emphasis on dignity that makes officials particularly resent Trump’s personal attacks on Kim; the hardening of attitudes since my last visit, in 2005; and the bizarre confidence that North Korea can not only survive a nuclear war with the U.S. but also emerge as victor…

I left North Korea fearing that we are far too complacent about the risk of a cataclysmic war that could kill millions. And that’s why reporting from within North Korea is crucial: There simply is no substitute for being in a place. It’s a lesson we should have learned from the run-up to the Iraq war, when the reporting was too often from the Washington echo chamber rather than the field. When the stakes are millions of lives and official communications channels are nonexistent, then journalism can sometimes serve as a bridge — and as a warning.

And let’s never forget how they failed us with the DIC, right here in our own country. Not my President.

Harvey Weinstein, GMOs, Fire, and Living in Ignorance

ca. 2000 — Man Putting Fingers in Ears — Image by © Duncan Smith/Corbis

Are you sick to death of media coverage of Harvey Weinstein? The DIC (Dotard in Charge) has taken a sledge hammer to our democracy, and we get more coverage of Harvey and his perversions? The story here is not how Harvey raped (alleged) or exposed himself, but how his power and influence had others just turn away. See Donald Trump. NBC’s behavior about the story is despicable as they tried to kill it after pressure from Weinstein lawyers. Says something about news as entertainment and profit. People in Hollywood are just shocked and you know that they are shocked because now they can afford to be.

Hollywood is not the only place where who you know makes your career, it is just the most visible one, and with lots of beautiful women, there is going to be sexual abuse where someone in power abuses their power. Again see Donald Trump. The truly sad think is how many looked away because their career depended on it. There are lots of talented people, so who gets the shot, who gets the major role, who gets the promotion. We would like to pretend it is all on merit, but who you know is more important in many cases that your raw talent. So we are set up for abuse. Again see the DIC. Kiss his ass and you are his friend. It is the human condition and we just need to be braver at calling it out.

I have always thought the public outcry about GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) is a bunch of pseudo science. Let’s face it, plants and animals modify their genes in nature all the time. They are called mutations. But a scientist does it to make a plant more hearty or healthy and we have Frankenstein. So you see non-GMO on packages because like the people who think vaccinations cause autism, people have a false sense understanding of science and nature. Now sure, there can be problems, but here is a story of survival of my favorite fruit, the banana. It is being wiped out world-wide by a fungus so scientists are trying to produce a more fungus resistant strain. Come on people, like everything else, its gray. Of course humans don’t like gray, they like black and white for simple minded decision making. Once again see the DIC in action. But that is not how our universe works. I would bet those folks in wine country would like to see some more fire resistant trees developed.

The fire here in California is probably the way of our future. We are having another Red Flag* day today and I got the message, have a bag packed with your getaway stuff so you can be out of here in 1 minute or less. Think about the essentials, a couple changes of cloths, passports, medicine, shaving kit, spare glasses, and a checklist for other critical stuff if you have time. This story in the WaPo is just harrowing and you think this will not happen to you, but I live in the forest and if Santa Rosa can burn down, well just wow. But the one thing about local news (Sacramento) was that most stations were just terrible at covering it. But when they finally focused, it was only for the big shots of flames. Now that the fire is semi-under control, well, on to other things. But the real story is the aftermath and how we recover. The real learning is there. But there is a car chase on I-5 so our gaze deflects… Oh, and think about it, California is a rich state and the damage was extensive with over 2500 homes just gone, schools gone, businesses gone, and this is very minor compared to Puerto Rico.  This President makes me ill.

Finally, we come to the sledge hammer wielding of the DIC fulfilling his “campaign promises” to destroy America. I wrote about them yesterday. Primarily we are talking about his assault on Obamacare and Iran, and nukes in general. On that latter case, the NYT had an excellent piece fact checking what he told us about Iran and nukes and how badly flawed the narrative was (untrue). Here is the WaPo on his subsidies claim as bailouts (four Pinocchios). I have no doubt he believes this stuff, but it is all wrong. How can you have effective policy based upon false assumptions about cause of problems? Or if you want to stay awake at night, think about how you have the facts wrong about Iraq, and totally misunderstand North Korea and have an effective nuclear deterrent policy. The sad thing is most Republicans are in the same boat as the block research and data that might show them the light. We are being lead by Dumb (the Republican Party) and Dumber (the DIC). Sleep well tonight.

*Red Flag means temperatures are warm, humidity is very low, and winds are high making any fire that gets started basically uncontrollable.

More Sledge Hammer Stuff

That would basically be what the Republican Party is these days, the sledge hammer party. This morning I get up to the DIC (Dotard in Charge) slashing subsidies for Obamacare for those high risk patients whose costs raise the costs for all of us without them. Now tt will for sure raise everyone’s rates. Oh, and we are going back to more junk plans so we can pretend our costs are lower until we get sick. The NYT has a nice graphic about how the DIC Administration is destroying healthcare. But where are the fixes? Once again, and I apologize to my loyal readers if I am repeating myself, REPUBLICANS DON’T HAVE ANY FIXES! What fixes healthcare for all of us is not in their ideology.

It is also interesting to note that the DIC decried Obama’s use of executive orders to improve our lives, now the DIC is wielding the mighty pen hypocritically to ruin our lives, both under a Republican Congress. Does that even dawn on many voter’s brains that Republicans can not govern?

I have an anecdote here on people who hate Obamacare. I was out picking up wine from my many wine clubs and at one winery, the owner knew of my cancer and somehow the talk turned to Obamacare and how it had raise their premiums. You know, that evil Obamacare. I pointed out that without the yearly cap on out of pocket expenses that Obamacare brought to all plans, plus basic coverage of most conditions, I would have been priced out of my medicine. They had no answer for that. They have never really been sick to find out how bad the old system was. But it was cheaper.

Meanwhile in nuclear land, Trump “won’t certify the Iran deal, but won’t unravel it. Really? First of all has Iran violated the agreement? By all international partners the answer is no. There is other stuff they are doing that we do not like, like developing long distance missiles, but that was not part of the nuke deal, although the DIC can’t quite sort this out in his fuzzy brain. By all accounts the agreement is working and we are less at threat of nukes from Iran than ever before. So he wants to trash it like Obamacare, one plank at a time. Now LDs (Little Dotards – Trump supporters), if the man cannot be trusted to keep a bargain, how again is he going to be the great deal maker?

In Puerto Rico, as Paul Krugman points out this morning, “More than a third of the population has been without clean water for three weeks, and waterborne diseases appear to be spreading. Only a sixth of the population has electricity. The health care system is a shambles, and sheer hunger may be a problem in some remote areas.” Meanwhile the DIC, after both he and his pious little Vice Dotard in Chief. (Pence – VDIC) promised they would be with Puerto Ricans to solve this crisis, threatens the measly aid they are providing. It is, a moral failure of the United States, while the DIC and VDIC blame of the poor conditions there before and take no responsibility for helping out our fellows Americans. We should all be ashamed.. It is the United States of American you DICs!

To me as an engineer and as a progressive, I see the way forward. We reinvest in Puerto Rico. We forgive their debts, and we rebuild it to sustain the new normal caused by climate change. It could be the model for how to build with alternate energy and local sewage treatment, water treatment, and houses that can stand a hurricane onslaught. Most of this is not new technology. It would rejuvenate the Puerto Rican economy, and provide us with a model for how to proceed elsewhere. That is not going to happen with the sledge hammer administration. They don’t no how to build anything.

Meanwhile in California we are burning down our wine country. Is this a natural disaster or a man made one caused by maybe moving into areas we should should not, and of course climate change? I find that argument hard to follow (moving into rural areas) as Santa Rosa burned down. Of course, I do live in the midlle of the forest, so my opinion might be skewed here. What I can’t help thinking about is whether we can build more smartly with natural fire breaks, and materials that have very high resistance to combustion. Also we could probably manage our forests better in the future to prevent such wild outbreaks. Of course that would require government action, and according to Republicans, all government is bad so that is totally out of the question. Maybe this is a warning from God about wine swilling Californians? If so, screw God.

Yesterday, General Kelly, the DIC’s chief of staff, was put out in front of the press to calm fears of a disintegrating Presidency (See my blog from yesterday). What was interesting is that he denied nothing. He talked around the claims about the DIC’s unraveling and unstable behavior. On the surface it seem to put the question to rest, but if you really pay attention to words, it was just the opposite. Ali Velshi on MSNBC’s Last Word did a really amazing job of taking all this apart.

So if you have not got the gist of all this yet. The Republicans are going to take you back to the good old times when government did nothing and the market place was free to operate. And you will find out the world is not the simple place you thought as your situation further degrades. And I want you to keep one thing in mind, you can’t blame Democrats anymore. You threw them out. Maybe you will start to see the disaster that Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin has brought us with the vote of change. How’s that change working out for you? It won’t you little dotards and we will all be worse off, Then who are you going to blame?  Got a mirror?

If There Were a God, I Would Think He is Trying to Tell Us Something

Devastating hurricanes in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Houston, and now massively destructive fires in California.  So when’s the big quake? I don’t want to point this out, but the pain and suffering is spread around between both partisan sides of the political spectrum.  The only constant through all of this is the President of the United States, who a minority of the people elected and then shit happened.  Could this be a sign?

Of course all of this could look benign compared to what could happen if the Dotard In Charge (DIC) starts a war on the Korean Peninsula, withdraws from the Iran agreement, hastening their nuclear program, kills Obamacare so millions are once again left without healthcare (oh, they have access, they just can’t afford that access), while his EPA Chief allows the raping of the environment again, all, of course, in the name of reducing regulations and letting the market place work.  There is nature’s fury, and then there is man made damage caused by the DIC put in place by ignorant and ill informed voters, and enabled by power hungry Republicans. If I believed in God, maybe a sacrifice, say the DIC himself, would appease him.

Speaking of God, the other day I was sitting in my truck in the grocery store parking lot waiting for she who must not be mentioned here to get her coffee (we were on our way to the big city to get my Lupron shot for my prostate cancer, maybe another sign), when a nice young lady tapped on my window and asked my about my decal on my truck (a fish sign with legs and the words Darwin written across it).  She said in these troubled times (no shit) she was using her religion to try to comfort people.  She asked directly if I was an atheist, which I said yes, and she asked why.  You try to answer that in 10 words or less.  She asked if something had happened to me to reject God.  I thought about saying I think he has rejected us, but I did not.

I did try to explain to her that being an atheist does not mean, even in these times, that I do not have both spirituality and hope.  Isn’t life a gift enough without a fairy godfather?  But I also explained to her that I respected her faith and would never try to change that.  Atheism is not a religion, and I do not need converts, it is just my personal observation.  I know that faith and religion greatly helps some people and who the hell am I to try to take that away.  The nice thing about this encounter was that she was not trying to proselyze me, but to offer encouragement to someone who she thought may need it.  Her way was through her religious beliefs and some of the wisdoms she found in her Bible.

I bring all this up because when shit happens, people mostly seem to come together and try to help each other whether they are gay, transsexual, immigrant, conservative, liberal, black, white, atheist, Christian, Muslim, well, you get the gist.  God is not a player in that we want to help each other because it is innate in the human condition.  One person who was standing in the dust and ash of what was left of everything they owned, said, you can either stand here and grieve or help others.  What we should learn from these disasters is that either God doesn’t exist, or he doesn’t give a shit.  Either way we are left to our own devices and what I have seen is that those devices in most people are something to be proud of.

In this world we live in, a lot of us define ourselves by our possessions so when we have a devastating loss, well, we are devastated.  And then we seem to be able to rise above it.  And the lesson in a world created right now by the DIC and Republicans is, they have it wrong, we are all in this together and shit happens.  It has nothing to do with how hard we work, or what or who we believe in,  We live in a world where chaos is becoming more prevalent because of man’s selfish actions.  Time to maybe understand we really are our brother’s keeper.  And that my friends, from an atheist.

One other thing as I watch disaster, man-made in action.  A Republican was being interviewed by Andrea Mitchell about what is coming out about the DIC, the meeting where he wanted to know why we weren’t expanding our nuclear stockpile, the shock of those around him, the fucking moron comment by Rex Tillerson, and the tweet storm.  This guy tried to normalize it as well this happens in all administrations and needs to be kept behind closed doors.  No it doesn’t you Little Dotard (LD).  This is not normal.

In the same vein, on CNN they were discussing NBC’s reporting of the above and the DICs tweet this morning:

Some pundit when asked about the DIC’s threat to revoke the license on NBC because he does not like the story, said he was probably joking, to which the host, who had a clue, said president don’t joke about attacking the fundamental value to our democracy of the free press, and the pundit replied, well this is the new normal.  NO IT IS NOT YOU MORON! This is absolutely abnormal and it is how we lose democracy if you start defining it as normal.  We have to understand that our democracy is under attack from the Oval Office and we had better start coming together to fight it because the Republicans are normalizing it.

Dismantling America One Order at a Time

Destruction in the Vineyards to the West, which is kind of appropriate to what the Republicans are doing to the country

The Dotard in Charge (DIC) decided to allow the religious discrimination of corporations and businesses to override the individual right to have access to birth control and personal choice. All those white women who voted for Trump might want to wake up. Why do men get access to Viagra and penis pumps and women can’t have birth control? Can you say second class citizen? Welcome to the Republican Party women. Meanwhile in Scott Pruitt land (EPA) they have decided to rescind  the limits on coal plants emissions. While all this is going on, basically taking the country back to the Dark Ages, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are screaming for help. The help they need is for us to go in and rebuild the island. What a boon to the economy. Nope, we won’t do that.

In Puerto Rico, what’s the lesson?  Well climate change is bringing more and fierce storms.  You can’t just restore what you had, because it is going to blow down again.  For power, they need a decentralized system and underground distribution lines.  Decentralized would be alternate energy like solar or wind, and good storage.  But we are trying to save a coal industry that does more to cause global warming than any other commodity, not to mention the environmental damage to the ecosystem of blowing off mountain tops.  WTF!  Oh, and save jobs?  Arby’s employs more people than coal.

How can we be so stupid?  How can people be so ignorant they are still complaining about Obamacare?  Anybody really think the Republicans can replace it or fix it?  How can we screw Dreamers who will help, not hurt, our economy for more draconian immigration measures that will stifle our growth?  Bob Corker, Republican from Tennessee, finally tells the truth about the DIC and all the rest are cowering in the corner, terrified of a primary challenge.  This is the greatest nation on earth?  Oh how the Republicans have destroyed us. And make no mistake, this is all Republicans.

Then there is the long awaited tax “reform” which is a giant lie and ticking time bomb.  Only the truly ignorant think this is a good idea (or ideology blinded).  Here is from my favorite thinker from the Baseline Scenario, James Kwak:

My friend and co-founder Marcus Ryu wrote an op-ed in the Times today. Here’s how it begins:

The tax cut framework recently put forward by President Trump relies on a central claim: that reducing taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals will open the wellsprings of entrepreneurship and investment, turbocharging job growth and the American economy. Were this premise true, reasonable people might countenance giving a vast majority of benefits to the very rich, as Mr. Trump’s plan does, in exchange for greater prosperity for all. But it’s not.

Read Ryu’s op-ed.  These are guys who made millions as entrepreneurs, but they can think.  They also explain why lower taxes will not create jobs, nor incur investment because easy credit is already everywhere.  So why do we fall for this nonsense?  Well because few read this blog, think things through, read the links.  Intellectually lazy is the new exceptionalism of America.  We are exceptionally intellectually lazy. I know what I know and I don’t need no stink’in facts is our new creed.  Prime example, the DIC.

Then there was the VP (DIC Jr.) at the Ravens game who walked out when the 49ers took a knee during the national anthem claiming they are disrespecting our fighting men and women and our flag.  ARE WE THAT STUPID!  No they are not.  In fact they are showing great respect for America and its basic values by dissent, reminding us that our country is still flawed and we need to wake up.  They are the patriots, and DIC Jr. is the one disrespecting America, along with the DIC himself and the Republican Party.  Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys (America’s Team?) told his players anyone who knees will be benched.  I hope they all kneel.  I am not sure we have that kind courage anymore.  Maybe they could just all turn their backs.  He didn’t say they couldn’t do that did he?

I am not sure why I write this anymore.  As James Kwak wrote in his own blog, “I haven’t been writing about the Trump tax cut because (a) a bunch of personal reasons, (b) intellectually speaking, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel, and (c) lots of other people with much bigger audiences are doing it anyway. So please read what Marcus has to say.”  I feel the same on almost most topics today.  The press has finally caught on and there are plenty of stories and op-eds about the danger we face, and yet the DIC is allowed to perform his reality TV show every day, and he is everywhere.  Let’s just hope we don’t get used to this.  It is not normal.