Call Me Cynical, But…

…I am rather suspicious of Hairball Trump’s newly-found concern about Syria. Until a few days ago he showed not the slightest interest in the suffering of the Syrian people. Worse yet, their refugees are among the ones that he wants to keep out of the country with his bogus “national security” scare.

So, let my imagination run wild a bit. At the outset, I have to say that I am not a conspiracy theorist at heart, but I can piece together some reported information, along with a good deal of conjecture. Let’s start with Russia.

From the outset the Trump administration has been dogged by reports that the Russians played a role in the presidential election to favor Trump. Trump, in turn, has been  speaking admiringly/adoringly of the dictator Putyin, even to the point that many Republicans are now reported to look to Russia as a model country to emulate (now, how the hell did THAT happen?). Anyway, this cozy relationship and favoritism have been investigated by U.S. security agencies and congressional panels.  There have been many voices calling for an independent investigator, much like the Watergate investigation of Richard Nixon in the 1970s.

Then comes the chemical attack.

So, Hairball all of a sudden gets conscience (?) and bombs the Syrian airbase. But wait – first we notify the Russians that we are going to do this. The Russians, who favor the dictator Assad, have time to inform him that an attack is imminent.  The Syrians get all their important assets out of there in a hurry, so that our missiles take out a “few MIG airplanes that are waiting to be serviced” and a few other token odds-and-ends.

But now, Hairball Trump looks “presidential” and shows us that he is no bitch of Putyin and the Russians. The Russians get angry (wink-wink) and there is an immediate cooling of the desire to investigate “Russia-gate.”

I know it’s conjecture. But what a smooth move this would have (could have) been for Hairball.

Only…

…the Syrian people continue to be massacred.

 

The Supreme(ly strange) Court

I am not familiar with the legal system of other countries, but the U.S. system of jurisprudence is often touted as a model for others. I’m not so sure that it is such a good model.

Many of our courts’ decisions are based on the Constitution and its various amendments. But those were written decades or centuries ago and many of the issues that come before the courts today were not and could not have been anticipated that long ago. Did the forefathers mean “that a well armed militia” should have weapons for which “the right to bear arms” was written, or does that clause mean that everybody can own firearms, even ones whose sole purpose is to kill as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time? I am not arguing for or against the Second Amendment to the Constitution. I am simply saying that different judges are going to interpret the text based not on the law, but based on their own ideology.

Or take the interpretation of “separate but equal” treatment for Blacks, based I believe on the interpretation by a 19th century Supreme Court of  the 4th and 14th Amendments. For many decades, that ruling held sway, until the 1954 reversal by the Brown v. Board of Education decision. Why? Different era, different court, different ideology, different interpretation?

Could our forefathers have considered the “freedom of choice,” or  frozen embryos, or many of the other modern issues that they could not even dream of in the 18th and 19th centuries when they penned the Constitution? How can we apply 200 years-old thought to 21st century problems?

The most recent fiasco with Merrick Garland (Obama’s pick for the Supreme Court who did not even get his name placed forth by a Republican-controlled Senate) and then Judge Gorsuch’s nomination and subsequent acceptance after the “Nuclear Option” was exercised by the U.S. Senate, illustrate the strangeness of how judges are picked and confirmed (or not confirmed). Again, I’m not saying anything for or against Judge Gorsuch in this blog. That is not my purpose of this essay. The point is that individual judges can have such widely differing personal views, which then they apply to the interpretation of ancient documents and antiquated laws. This approach then creates the kind of battles that are fought between “conservatives” and “liberals.” But does that really have anything to do with the law? I don’t think so, especially when the person bringing his or her “baggage” of views is going to make life-or-death decisions, or affect the daily lives of millions of people.

There ought to be a better system. One in which politics does not play THE major deciding role in choosing judges. One in which judges would leave their own personal biases (to the extent possible) out of the decision-making process and politicians would get the hell out of the way of trying to influence the judiciary. A system that salutes the Constitution but understands that 21st century issues need 21st century solutions.

 

The “Right to Life” Lie

Of all the lies disseminated by conservatives, few are bigger than the so-called “Right to Life” movement. I have no doubt that there are many sincere people who, for philosophical and ethical reasons,  think that abortion is wrong. But the politicians and conservative religious organizations who constantly harp on this issue are two-faced liars. Here is why:

The religious and conservative Republican right wing have tried for decades to overturn the Supreme Court decision making abortion available for women in the U.S. Yet, these are the same folks who, while so “concerned” about human life, do everything in their power to make make peoples’ lives, once born,  be miserable. Actually, they try to do this already before a pregnancy comes to term. Take, for example, the recent attempt by Congress to do away with the Affordable Care Act. This would have thrown tens of millions of people off the health care availability list, including pregnancy, neonatal, and well-child medical care. Even worse, one of the Congressmen questioned why prenatal care should be covered at all, and “why should men pay for such services.” Well, where the hell did you come from Congressman, if not from your mother’s pregnancy?

One of the favorite targets of the religious right and conservatives is planned Parenthood. Yet, this organization hasn’t received federal funds for abortion for a long time, and most of their work is in the area of women’s health, not in abortion services. One of the services provided by this and other organizations is counseling and education about avoiding pregnancy through safe sexual practices. This would make sense and also obviate the need for abortion. But, oh, no, we can’t have that either or, alternatively, avoiding pregnancy by providing means of birth control.

Humans are sexual beings. Sex is as natural as eating or sleeping or any other function. Isn’t it always the old men and women (politicians or clergy) that are telling the young that sex is “wrong,” except for procreating purposes?

Ok, then, we have procreation, but not the follow-up care of children.  Republican state legislatures and the U.S. Congress cut programs like foster-care, WIC support, Medicaid, school funds, etc., to “save money,” while spending money on stupid shit, like building a wall along the Mexican border.

As far as I can see,  for churches and politicians, the steady drum-beat on harping on the “sanctity of human life” is nothing more than a way of raising money, acquiring and maintaining power,  and whipping up their base to get elected.

Lots happening in the last two weeks

It’s been a few weeks since I penned a column, and lots of things happened since then. Here are some of the items I have been thinking about:

-Democrats and Affordable Care Act (ACA=Obamacare) proponents have been congratulating themselves for the failure of the U.S. House of Representatives to gut the program. Not so fast;  the reason that the recall didn’t pass is that those miserable curmudgeons, known as the “Freedom Caucus” didn’t think that throwing 20 million people off health care went far enough.  Hairball says he will be back on this issue, and I believe him. Do not count him out. Every time it looks like he is imploding, he manages to come right back. So, Beware!

-Some months ago I wrote a column asking Scotland not to leave the United Kingdom. That was before “Brexit'” or the vote by the U.K. to leave the European Union. Apparently, the British are no smarter than we are here in the USA. It is a stupid move to leave the EU. And now, I am suggesting to Scotland that they revisit that referendum and this time vote to break from the U.K.

-It is uncanny how a few selfish bastards, like Scott Pruitt, Hairball, and their cronies can just simply go and disregard the evidence of global climate change that thousands of scientists and their data have shown to be happening. Going back to coal and other fossil fuels is a big mistake. I can’t actually believe that I’m saying this, but I congratulate the Chinese for having the vision to go ahead with renewable energy to replace coal, gas, and oil.

-Every time Hairball goes to his Florida golf club, we pay millions in costs. Yet, this administration is going to do away with “Meals-on-Wheels” as a cost-saving measure. Why are we allowing this to happen?

-The latest Gallup poll puts Hairball’s popularity at 36 %. I am wondering what the hell that 36 % is thinking. Do they have their head up their… I mean do they have their head in the sand?

-That “Russia thing” is not going to go away. They were a key reason that Hairball won and the truth will come out eventually.

350

It is tempting to call Hairball Trump’s henchman at the Environmental Protection Agency an idiot and a moron. Yet, Scott Pruitt is neither. Rather, he is the kind of demagogue that is more difficult to deal with than a simpleton would be.

Never mind that the vast majority of scientists agree that global warming is human-induced. Scott Pruitt, the man, does not believe it. Why? Because he is ideologically against anything that anybody would TELL him. In this he is like most of his buddies in the fossil fuel industry. These guys KNOW that they are dealing with a kind of industry that is on the way out. Not because there is no more oil, coal or gas, but because the world is ready to move on to cleaner and cheaper forms of energy.

The fossil fuel industry claims that there will be a tremendous loss of jobs if their commodities are controlled or done away with. Yes, there will be the loss of drilling and mining jobs, but the green fuels industry would more than make up for those lost jobs. And the industrialists know this but, by God, no one is going to TELL them what to do.

So, it’s not really about the loss of jobs. After all, many occupations and their livelihood are a thing of a past. How many farriers do you know? Or wagon wheel makers? And how many people today say that “my grandpappy was a cooper, my father was a cooper, I am a cooper and a cooper I shall stay.” Yet, that’s exactly what many coal miners are saying today.

Scott Pruitt may be a climate change denier. He was specifically chosen by the Bannon-Trump team because of this. But there is no denying that global carbon dioxide levels met or exceeded 400 parts per million (ppm) last years. The vast majority of scientists consider 350 ppm to be the “tipping point” in accelerated global warming.

I often talk with my students about this issue. And what I ask them is this: If there were a landmine the size of one square foot buried in an acre of land (43,560 square feet), you would have 1 in over 43,500 chances of being blown up. Wouldn’t you still be cautious about where you stepped? Wouldn’t you use some method, like a metal detector, explosive sniffing dog, etc., to ensure your safety, despite the small odds of being killed?

The point of the above questions is this: if there is only a 50 percent chance that humans cause the current global warming crisis, wouldn’t we still want to take steps to curtail our emissions? You can deny global warming all you want, for short-term profit or simply out of stubbornness. But what legacy are we going to live for our grandchildren? Are we going to live that land mine in that acre of ground?

Words DO Matter!

 

All we have is language and the ability to perhaps communicate  better than other animals. After all, cheetahs can run at 40 mph for short distances, an ant can lift 100 times its own weight, bats have Doppler sonar for navigation, and a rooster can copulate dozens of times a day.

Since we can think and communicate, the words we use do matter a great deal. For Ben Carson to refer to chattels slaves brought in shackles in the bowels of ships under inhumane conditions from Africa  as “immigrants,” is yet another example of “alternative facts.”

The current crop of idiots in Washington can not understand what it takes to be a decent human being.

Then, again, when they get their information and talking points from the Alt-right Neo-Nazi Breitbart rabble, what else can we expect?

I guess, the next thing we will hear is that in Stalin’s Soviet Union the people who were sent to die in the Gulag were actually “guest workers” who went to seek employment in Siberia.

Shame on you, Dr. Carson!

Two (Maybe Three) Possibilities

Every day brings something new and totally bizarre from the White House or, more specifically, from Hairball’s Twitter account. As far as I can tell, there are two possible explanations – or a hybrid of the two – for this.

One possibility is that Hairball is totally off his rocker. Now, he claims that somehow President Obama tapped his phone lines to spy on him. Trump is so far up his own ass that he has no idea what he is doing or saying.

The other possibility is much more sinister, though no less scary. I can envision Stephen Bannon and Hairball sitting there in the Oval Office while the Breitbart guy whispers poisonous ideas into Hairball’s ears. Bannon knows exactly what he is doing, which is to blow smoke and otherwise obfuscate the Russia issue. He figures that if the press is busy contemplating these idiotic stories about Mr. Obama, then they don’t have the time or inclination to go after the truth.

The third permutation is that both of the previous possibilities can be combined into one. You have a totally delusional and morbidly narcissistic Trump, who is then manipulated by Bannon’s wild stories.  In essence, Bannon is Trump’s Iago.

I am certain that Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are scared as hell and loathe both Bannon and Hairball. Unfortunately, the Congressional leaders have use for Trump right now, so they are keeping their mouths shut. In my neck of the woods, we have a couple of rabid Congressmen whom I know: Chris Collins and Tom Reed. Both are avid Hairball supporters. I can only hope that the truth shall prevail and one day this rabble is swept out with the trash.