June 09, 2021
Big Government Handouts

Recently, Elon Musk beat out Jeff Bezos for a 2.9 billion contract from NASA to fly one of his magnificent exploding rocket ships to the moon. In true American fashion, Bezos whined and cried that this wasn’t fair. So, now, his servants in the United States Senate are literally falling all over themselves to give Master Bezos 10 billion dollars for his vanity space project Blue Origin. That’s 12 billion dollars in taxpayer money being handed over to the two richest human beings on the planet so they can play Captain Kirk.

Meanwhile, all the geese on cable news are honking about how big fat government handouts in the form of unemployment insurance are keeping the peasants from returning to their crappy minimum wage restaurant jobs, and this is causing labor shortages and businesses to fold and, oh, doesn’t this just go to show that we need to get rid of those wicked big government handouts …


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September 05, 2020
Nothing New Under the Sun

From the New York Times of October 30, 2002:

Remember all that fuss a couple of years back over Florida’s Banana-republic voting procedures? And then the similar fuss but smaller fuss when it happened all over again in this year’s Florida primaries? And all that pious concern from the White House and the Hill about voting scandals in dozens of other jurisdictions across the country?

Well, it turns out that Brazil has already figured the whole thing out. Unburdened by Katherine Harris and the political leadership of the United States, Brazil just ran two huge elections (some 90 million votes in each) with hardly a hitch.

“The heart of the Brazilian system,” The Times writes, “is a plain $420 computer with a keyboard much like that of an automatic teller machine. Voters punch in the number of the candidate they want to vote for, wait for the candidate’s picture and name to appear on the screen, confirm their choice or correct any error by pressing another button, and then move on to the next office on the list.”


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Historical Perspectives
July 01, 2020
Cock Brought from a Distance

From Henry George’s Protection or Free Trade, published in 1940. Ten years earlier “President” Trump’s mother had immigrated from Scotland. His father was born in America to German immigrants.

It has long been known that to obtain the best crops the farmer should not seed with the seeds grown in his own fields, but with seed brought from afar. The strain of domestic animals seems always improved by imported stock, even poultry-breeders finding it best to sell the male birds they raise and supply their places with cocks brought from a distance. Whether or not the same law holds true with regard to the physical part of man, it is certain that the admixture of peoples produces stimulating mental effects. Prejudices are warn down, wits are sharpened, language enriched, habits and customs brought to the test of comparison and new ideas enkindled. The most progressive peoples, if not always of mixed blood, have always been the peoples who came most in contact with and learned most from others.

June 25, 2020

From CNBC:

“The president of the United States is not a civilian,” said a White House spokesman when asked about Trump’s compliance with the quarantine order given his travel Tuesday to Arizona, which has seen a rise in the rate of its Covid-19 cases.

He was when it counted. Just look at those bone spurs!


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American Heroes
June 11, 2020
Just a Regular Guy

From The New York Times:

One Defense Department official on Friday likened General Milley’s walk across the park to walking through hell wearing gasoline underwear.

Whatever the case, the video, broadcast repeatedly, shows Mr. Trump, flanked by General Milley in the combat fatigues he wears every day to work, and a group of mostly white men crossing a park that had just been cleared of people protesting the killing of a black man after a white police officer knelt on his neck for close to nine minutes.

You can take it from me (USArmy, Pfc, ret.), that if I had shown up for my duties as company clerk of Hq & Hq Co., 1st Radio Broadcasting & Leaflet Bn, Special Warfare Center, Ft. Bragg wearing fatigues the first sergeant would have told me to get my ass back to the barracks and change into regular uniform and who the hell did I think I was, Audie Murphy?

Thus I knew that General Milley was an asshole when I first saw that photo op with General Bone Spurs. Learning that he wears fatigues to the office to show that he’s just one of the boys only nails it down harder. He’s what? An asshole’s asshole?


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American Heroes
June 09, 2020
As Everybody Knows—

— Whenever you wish to assert something completely false, always preface it with the statement: ‘There can be no possible doubt’ or ‘It is universally admitted that.’

…from Baron Bulwer-Lytton’s essay, “Professor Tomlinson’s Advice to His Pupils.”


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June 05, 2020
A Glimmer of Hope?

This entry is from Robert Paul Woolf’s terrific blog, The Philosopher’s Stone. He is a little more optimistic than I am about the future of the greatest nation with which the Good Lord has seen fit to grace our unworthy planet. But only a little, mind you.

These are difficult times, dangerous times, times pregnant with possibility. They lay upon us many demands, one of which in particular causes me to toss and turn at night, to trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries, as the Bard says. It is my practice at such times to turn to the Good Book, and there to seek counsel. This familiar passage from the Gospels speaks to my distress:

“I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.” Luke 15:7

I refer, of course, to the necessity laid upon me by political exigency of welcoming to the fold the likes of George Will, Bill Kristol, Nicole Wallace, Joe Scarborough, Joe Biden, and even ‘Mad Dog’ Jim Mattis, who, after lives of spiritual profligacy have found their way back and now seek to join, nay to lead, the struggle against Donald Trump and his Republican enablers.

“Where were you” I want to cry out, “when Kennedy invaded Cuba, when the CIA overthrew Mossadegh, when LBJ invaded Viet Nam, when Bush invaded Iraq? Why did you cheer on Reagan as he attacked the unions? Why did you savage Anita Hill, help write and pass the 1994 Crime Bill whose bitter fruits now sour our stomachs?”

And then I return to the Good Book, where the father replies to the dutiful brother, “Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.”

I know this, and I accept it. But I will not lie. It is hard.


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Glimmers of Sanity | Hope for the Future
May 17, 2020
Today's Eruption…

…from the stable's genius:

Q: What about Obama’s comment? Obama’s comment at the graduation ceremony (inaudible).

THE PRESIDENT: I didn’t hear it.

Q: He (inaudible) twice at the leadership.

THE PRESIDENT: Look, he was an incompetent President. That’s all I can say. Grossly incompetent.

Thank you.


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Fat Rich Kid | Idiots | Rich White Trash
Simple Arithmetic

Henry George, Jr., In The Menace of Privilege (Grosset & Dunlap, 1905):

In the city of Cleveland, Ohio, not long since, a disreputable house was raided by the police. The inmates were arrested. Among them was a woman who, because she could not pay the fine imposed, was sent to the workhouse. When she had there worked out all but $26 of the fine, an offer was made by a woman acquaintance to lend her that sum and thus enable the prisoner to regain her liberty. The offer was refused.

This surprised the workhouse officials, who reported the case to the mayor of the city, Tom L. Johnson. He questioned the prisoner, asking why she did not take her liberty. “I want my liberty,” she replied; “ but if I borrow $26 to wipe out that amount of fine still against me, how shall I repay it? At present I have no other way of doing so than by going back to the old business. It would take fifty-two times at 5o cents a time to meet the debt. I prefer to stay and work off the $26 here in the workhouse! The mayor pardoned her.

April 19, 2020
A Little Nostalgia

Cleaning up my files, I came across this long piece the other day. It seems to date from shortly after the 1984 campaign, during which I wrote speeches for Mondale. There are certain similarities between the 80s and today, and so here are my thoughts of those days, for whatever relevance they may have to our present plight:
Now Ronald Reagan has beaten the Democrats twice — not because he was an elephant, but because he had done such a good job of looking like a donkey.

Most foreigners could no more tell a Democrat from a Republican than they could distinguish between the male and the female of the Galapagos tortoise. But just as the tortoises are able to sort themselves out, so can we Americans. In the narrow mainstream of our politics, ranging from kind-of-far right to pretty-far right, the Democrats are the liberals and the Republicans are the conservatives. Whatever those labels mean.

The standard way to tell a liberal from a conservative is that the liberal is an optimist, while the conservative is a pessimist. The liberal imagines that the world can be changed for the better. The conservative imagines that it can’t. He examines his own navel and, mistaking it for a universal one, concludes that very little can be expected of mankind …

Others must be as ready to attack him as he is to attack them, and so praise the Lord and pass the ammunition. Government is bound to be organized theft, so that the only remaining question for the intelligent man is who gets robbed. Liberated woman would prove to be no better than liberated man has been, and thus, in the interest of reducing the general level of mischief, she should be kept barefoot in the winter and pregnant in summer.
Only a sucker would believe that faith could move mountains, but greed will do the job just fine. Look at the beheaded mountains in the coal country of West Virginia. The mark of Cain is on all of us, and we are none of us any better than we should be. “In Adam’s fall,” as the New England Primer said, “we sinnèd all.

…Read on

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Political Commentary
April 15, 2020
Bone Spurs

All you need to know about Trump:

Just five months ago, Mr. Trump fired Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer for opposing the president’s intervention in support of a Navy SEAL accused of murdering a wounded captive with a hunting knife during a deployment to Iraq in 2017.

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Fat Rich Kid | Idiots | Rich White Trash
April 11, 2020
Sound Familiar?

From Wikipedia:

Following the resignation of CIA director George Tenet in 2004, Bush nominated Porter Goss to head the agency. The White House ordered Goss to purge agency officers who were disloyal to the administration.[88] After Goss' appointment, many of the CIA's senior agents were fired or quit. The CIA has been accused of deliberately leaking classified information to undermine the 2004 election.[89]

April 09, 2020
No snow? No shit.

Shortly after Mr. Johnson had taken over management of the Vietnam war from Mr. Kennedy, the new president decided that there was no further need to disrupt family life for an undeclared war. Consequently married men would no longer be drafted. My editor at The Washington Post assigned me to do a story on the rush to the altar which was sure to occur — but business at the marriage license bureau turned out to be bumping along at pretty much the usual rate. “That’s your story, then,” the editor said. “Give me ten inches.”

“A classic no-snow story,” an older reporter spelled out for me that evening after work. A no-snow story grew out of the world’s failure to live up to an editor’s expectations. Yesterday’s paper predicted snow, and yet there is no snow. Find out why.

Once the concept was explained to me I began to see no-snow stories everywhere, and still do. Saving Private Ryan’s failure to win the Academy Award for best picture gave rise to a regular blizzard of them. The “Natural Law of Unemployment’s” stubborn failure to exist has caused a decade of no-snow stories on the nation’s business pages. Where oh where can old Mr. Inflation be hiding?, the baffled editors cry. (The answer is the same one it has been since World War II: Mr. Inflation shows up whenever OPEC raises oil prices.)

Never has the real world so disappointed the American press as in the matter of Monica Lewinsky and President Clinton. The finest investigative journalists in all the land rooted and snorted about until they had raised what looked to them, blinded inside it, like the biggest shit storm ever to besmirch the Republic. And yet poll after poll showed that the rest of us saw only a light smudge of no particular consequence, barely above the horizon of our concerns. A persistent groupie finally scored. That’s what groupies do.

But the nation’s most learned and subtle public philosophers—men on the order of George Will, William Safire, William Bennett, William Kristol and the blessèd Father McLaughlin—immediately undertook our moral instruction. Loudly, unendingly, they explained us to us that this small sexual adventure between consenting adults was in fact a threat to the very foundations of the Republic.

To think otherwise would mark us as immoral, indecent, unethical, permissive and godless moral relativists who were in every respect disgraces to family and flag.

Worst of all we would be letting down, God help us, our editors.


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Media | Our Sordid Press Corps
April 06, 2020
Trump Must Be Somebody

From the Center for American Progress:

The tax code provides that Congress’ tax committees — including the House Committee on Ways and Means, the Senate Committee on Finance, and the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) — are entitled to obtain any tax returns from the IRS that they request. Section 6103(f)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) reads:

Upon written request from the chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives, the chairman of the Committee on Finance of the Senate, or the chairman of the Joint Committee on Taxation, the Secretary [of the Treasury] shall furnish such committee with any return or return information specified in such request…
As law scholar Harry Litman explains, the term “shall” means exactly what it says: “The language [‘shall’] is the well-established norm, across a range of legal settings, used to denote an absence of discretion on an official’s part. It leaves no room for quibbles.”

April 02, 2020
Trump’s Grandaddy

From Richard Hofstadter’s “The Paranoid Style in American Politics”, published in 1965:

Goldwater’s departure from the Republican pattern was compounded by his position on civil rights. One of the oldest, though hardly the most efficacious, of the traditions of many of the conservatives in the and North— and even to a degree in the South as well—has been a certain persistent sympathy with the Negro and a disposition to help him in moderate ways to relieve his distress. This tradition goes back to the Federalist party; it was continued by the Whig gentry; it infused the early Republican party. By adopting the “Southern Strategy,” the Goldwater men abandoned this inheritance. They committed themselves not merely to a drive for a core of Southern states in the electoral college but to a strategic counterpart in the North which required the search for racist votes. They thought they saw a good mass issue in the white backlash, which they could indirectly exploit by talking in the streets, crime, juvenile delinquency, and the dangers faced by our mothers and daughters.

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Historical Perspectives | Race | Republicans
April 01, 2020
What Did You Do in the Cold War, Daddy?

Shuffling through the rubble of my past the other day I came across a Cold War Recognition Certificate, awarded to me “in recognition of your service during the period of the Cold War (2 September 1945–26 December 1991) in promoting peace and stability for this Nation, for which the people of this Nation are forever grateful.”

My Cold War contributions began modestly in early 1956 with my appointment as a private to Headquarters & Headquarters Company, First Radio Broadcasting and Leaflet Battalion, PsyWar Center, Fort Bragg, N.C. My assignment was to rake up pine-cones outside the battalion’s S2 building while other draftees, inside it, prepared secret intelligence studies on two small Southeast Asian countries code-named soaL and manteiV. Really.

After several months of this preliminary training I was sent to .C.D, notgnihsaW, to edit The Fort McNair Passing Review. There my sense of duty, as I understood the concept anyway, compelled me to run a seemingly harmless reenlistment slogan in the paper.

The initial letters of the slogan’s first four words spelled out F-k, or Fuck, as it is now written. The remaining six were “the army.” When the secret inevitably leaked out I faced a court martial for sending obscene material through the mails, disaffection with the Army, conduct unbecoming a soldier, incitement to riot, and incitement to mutiny. These charges were dropped only after I had groveled sufficiently before two investigators from the Counterintelligence Corps. Instead I got two weeks of kitchen police, the initials of which spell out “K.P.”

A decade of private sector employment passed uneventfully before my Cold War service resumed. In one of those incredible coincidences that could only happen in real life, I had by then become the press attaché at our embassy in soaL. My chief duty was to tell reporters that the heaviest aerial bombardment in the history of warfare was the work of “unarmed reconnaissance flights accompanied by armed escorts who have the right to return fire if fired upon.” Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? But try to say it the way I had to, without puking.

…Read on

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American Heroes
March 28, 2020
Better Than Nothing…

A friend who is a doctor in a New York City hospital sends this:

Things here are changing daily. The number of virus patients has increased rapidly, tripling in a day. We have twice as many doctors and nurses infected as patients. This is because we are at the beginning, and doctors and nurses have more social contacts than our generally more isolated patients, and possibly because of reinfection, which is still controversial but seems more likely as a possibility now than it did last week. But also it is because we do not have enough masks and equipment.

The number of people who go into a room has been strictly limited but still people must go in. The hospital has now issued guidelines for reusing masks. This is more or less like being told that we should reuse needles, shocking for anyone trained in the modern era, contrary to the basic rules we are drilled on every year as part of the hospital licensing requirement. We think this is “better than nothing,” but we do not know. What we are doing now would never be the answer on any licensing examination. People are doing the best they can.

The pneumonia caused by this virus is especially severe. While even most cancer patients will survive, those who are severely ill have to be kept on a ventilator for a long period of time -- it seems to be about ten days usually -- before either improving or entering a brief final deterioration. They often must be kept in the prone position during this time, which is much more physiologically taxing and of course psychologically distressing.

The virus seems to be associated with a particularly severe form of agitated delirium, worse than what we might see occasionally with other pneumonias. Some of the most important treatments for agitated delirium have potentially dangerous interactions with medications for the virus, which makes management more challenging. Delirium is often but not always managed by psychiatric consultants so this may put a strain on our department though it has not yet. Across the street at New York Hospital the psychiatric residents have been redeployed to the ICU not as consultants but as regular ICU doctors because of the growing need and the number of doctors and nurses who are out owing to infection.

This type of redeployment is not as likely to happen in our hospital because we have been designated as the hospital to receive cancer patients who must be moved from other hospitals to make room for virus patients. We are likely to continue with a smaller overall percentage and number of virus patients. It is a hard thing though to be hospitalized with cancer and to be moved to an unfamiliar hospital away from your oncologist. It is especially tough because visitors are no longer allowed in the hospital with the exception of those visiting pediatric patients and patients actively dying. One virus patient committed suicide yesterday at another hospital, though I do not think this is public. We do not know the circumstances but certainly one way or another the prolonged isolation and limited staff contact are likely to have played a role.

Still, though, as I said to one of my Catholic patients, until we see four horsemen out the window, it is not Armageddon. Grocery stores and restaurants are delivering. The mail is getting through. Apart from some consolidation of nearby branches and reduction in some hours, pharmacies are open. The power and the Internet have been reliable. (If I had money to invest I would look into Zoom, which has proven much more stable than other teleconferencing apps.)

Theoretically you need an ID with a special sticker and a letter from your “essential” organization in order to walk on the street (yes, we actually have to carry papers!), but in fact there are people outside walking and clearly not just going from home to their critical work. I do not know how to feel about this: on the one hand it is a violation and possibly demonstrates some lack of awareness; on the other, it is easy to maintain more than six feet of distance outside, and except in crowds, which have now vanished from the city, transmission out of doors should be very unlikely. Certainly we have seen the physical and emotional dangers of isolation. So people are doing their best, and eventually we will come out on the other side.


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American Heroes | Health and Aging
March 09, 2020
One Thing About Trump…

…he’s not mean like that Warren bitch:

Q: Do you think sexism was a factor in Elizabeth Warren pulling out? And do you believe you will see a female President in your lifetime?

THE PRESIDENT: No, I think lack of talent was her problem. She had a tremendous lack of talent. She was a good debater. She destroyed Mike Bloomberg very quickly, like it was nothing. That was easy for her. But people don’t like her. She’s a very mean person, and people don’t like her. People don’t want that. They like a person like me, that’s not mean.


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Fat Rich Kid | Idiots
February 29, 2020
When Will They Ever Learn?

From the New York Times:

Three successive American presidents have promised victory in Afghanistan, even if they each defined it differently. Each experienced failures of political will, and on the battlefield…

The British retreated in 1842 after suffering 4,500 killed, amid massacres that preceded the invention of the roadside bomb. They gave up their sovereignty over the country in 1919, in another retreat that heralded the beginning of the unwinding of an empire.

The Soviet Union abandoned its decade-long effort to control the country in 1989, months before the fall of the Berlin Wall marked the collapse of the Communist superpower. That led to the chaos and power vacuums that Bin Laden exploited, and that the United States vowed it would never again allow to fester.

From The Encyclopedia Britannica:

These uprisings, along with internal fighting and coups within the government between the People’s and Banner factions, prompted the Soviets to invade the country on the night of December 24, 1979, sending in some 30,000 troops and toppling the short-lived presidency of People’s leader Hafizullah Amin…

The war in Afghanistan became a quagmire for what by the late 1980s was a disintegrating Soviet Union. (The Soviets suffered some 15,000 dead and many more injured.) Despite having failed to implement a sympathetic regime in Afghanistan, in 1988 the Soviet Union signed an accord with the United States, Pakistan, and Afghanistan and agreed to withdraw its troops. The Soviet withdrawal was completed on February 15, 1989, and Afghanistan returned to nonaligned status.

From Rudyard Kipling in 1892:

When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.


February 10, 2020
Lock Him Up!

…and here’s how, as urged by my neighbor Tony Piel, former director and general legal counsel of the World Health Organization:
We Democrats may have made a mistake in going for impeachment of Trump in the House of Congress focused on the single issue of violation of US Election Law (which turned into a debate, day after day, over “corruption,” Biden, Burisma and Hunter, which “Trumpists” could distract us with). It was a foregone conclusion, from day one, that Trump would be acquitted by the Republican majority in the Senate.

What we should have done, and could still do, is call for full hearings in the House and go for a motion to censure Trump for his explicit, incontrovertible violation of the U.S. Constitution and U.S. laws of consequence. (Note that House censure motions do not go to the Senate.) These violations include :

(1) Trump violated the constitutional ban on receiving emoluments (things of value ) from foreign governments, agencies, persons or enemies of the U.S. such as Putin’s Russia. (Motivation for taking the emoluments is irrelevant. Trump broke the law.)

(2) Trump violated the U.S .Impoundment Control Act which prohibits the diversion or withholding of funds specifically appropriated by Congress, without the consent of Congress. (Motivation for evading Congress is irrelevant. Trump broke the law.)

(3) Trump repeatedly violated the U.S. Constitutional provision outlawing treasonous conduct “giving aid and comfort to enemies of the U.S.” Note that Trump’s withholding of military assistance to Ukraine was effectively a way of giving military assistance to Putin’s Russia. (Motivation for treasonous behavior is irrelevant. Trump sided with our enemy, Putin’s Russia again and again. Trump broke the law.)

…Read on

February 08, 2020
Medicare’s Dirty Big Secret

This op-ed from The Hartford Courant is by Ted Doolittle, Healthcare Advocate for the State of Connecticut. He previously served as a senior Medicare official, and before that worked for a major health insurer. He’s my son, too.

The insurance companies have launched an all-out campaign against Medicare expansion, stoking fears that any such plan will take away health coverage from millions of us and destroy health insurance as we know it. The dirty secret the insurers don’t want us to know is that while keeping the gold-plated status quo in place is by far their first choice, the second-best thing that could ever happen to the industry is Medicare expansion.

The history is that major Medicare expansions result in big, stable, lasting growth for the health insurers. This happened when we added drug coverage in 2006, and when Medicare Advantage began in 1997, giving folks the option of getting their Medicare directly from carriers through HMO-like plans. There is no reason to suppose that an even larger future Medicare expansion won’t again produce a boost for insurance companies.

That’s because Medicare never was a classic New Deal-style program run by a large staff of federal employees in the vein of Social Security. Rather, Medicare from the start has been quietly the most successful public-private partnership in American history. The program ever since 1965 has been administered by a relatively tiny federal staff overseeing an army of thousands of for-profit companies, including all the major health insurance carriers.

That’s why, backstage and with makeup off, few savvy insurance executives would stand by the industry’s public position that Medicare expansion will destroy their companies. To the contrary, the best-informed industry leaders know perfectly well that any expansion would mean massive new business for them.

…Read on

February 01, 2020
U.S. Postal Service System, Inc.

From Anthony Piel:

The public US Postal Service System was established by the Continental Congress in 1775. This was pursuant to Article 1, Section 8, Clause 7 on the US Constitution which empowers Congress (not the President) “to establish Post Offices and Post Roads” across the nation.

Benjamin Franklin was appointed by Congress as the first Postmaster General of the United States. From day one, the Postal System was created as a public service intended eventually to serve all Americans equally in all states and territories of the United States. Postal rates are the same everywhere for everyone.

Now however, President Trump has announced proposals to “privatize” the US Postal Service, by selling off offices and services to the highest bidders, putting more and more of American assets concentrated in the hands of the few, namely profit-making corporations, so-called “investors,” American oligarchs, and multi-millionaires/billionaires like himself. How self-serving can you get ?

Trump “thinks” he has absolute power, immunity, and privilege to do “Whatever I want” (his words) by means of executive order and/or Presidential “tweet.” No, he cannot. Trump cannot bypass the US Congress (which has the sole power and authority to create, run, modify or abolish the public US Postal Service). In short, Trump lacks both the power and the competence to “privatize” the US Postal System.

Let’s make it clear : The US Mail is NOT for Sale.


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January 31, 2020
Very Small Lizard

From The Herp Digest:

An adorable photograph showing a bearded pygmy chameleon perching on a pencil at Chester Zoo, Cheshire, has emerged. The reptile finally emerged from their eggs following a 70 day incubation period. Found only in the coastal forests of Tanzania, the reptiles can change colour and produce a line down their body to perfectly blend in with leaves in their surroundings.



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Animal blogging
January 29, 2020
Wide Angle Photography

Here’s Vice President Pence, briefing the press in Rome:

Well, I’m not aware of what — what Mr. Parnas said about the Ukrainian ambassador. But I can tell you what — what he has said — what he had said about me has been completely false. I don’t recall ever having met Mr. Parnas, although I’ve seen a couple of photographs where, apparently, he was in my vicinity.



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IMPEACH | Idiots
January 28, 2020
Normally I'm Against the Death Penalty, But…

SORRENTO, Fla. (AP) — A Florida man who repeatedly harassed parents of shooting victims at Sandy Hook Elementary School has been arrested for possessing the identification of one of the parents, authorities said.

Wolfgang Halbig, 73, was arrested Monday on a charge that he was in unlawful possession of another person’s identification, according to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office…

The Orlando Sentinel reports that Halbig repeatedly emailed several people and law enforcement agencies the Social Security number, birth date and other information of Leonard Pozner, whose 6-year-old son, Noah, died at Sandy Hook.


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January 27, 2020
More News from the Swamp

From The Associated Press:

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lashed out in anger Saturday at an NPR reporter who accused him of shouting expletives at her after she asked him in an interview about Ukraine. In a direct and personal attack, America’s chief diplomat said the journalist had “lied” to him and he called her conduct “shameful.…”

After the NPR interview, Kelly said she was taken to Pompeo’s private living room, where he shouted at her “for about the same amount of time as the interview itself,” using the “F-word” repeatedly. She said he was not happy to have been questioned about Ukraine…

Kelly said Pompeo asked whether she thought Americans cared about Ukraine and if she could find the country on a map.

“I said yes, and he called out for aides to bring us a map of the world with no writing,” she said in discussing the encounter on “All Things Considered.” “I pointed to Ukraine. He put the map away. He said, ‘people will hear about this.’”

What I want to know is why the F-word does the Secretary of State keep a no-named world map around the office and why the F-word would such a thing even exist?


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American Heroes | Idiots
Good Thing Great-Grandpa…

…snuck under the wire:

From NBC News:

The government has long had authority to block immigrants who were likely to become public charges, but the term has never been formally defined. The DHS proposed to fill that void, adding noncash benefits and such factors as age, financial resources, employment history, education and health.

The acting deputy secretary of the DHS, Ken Cuccinelli, said the proposed rules would reinforce “the ideals of self-sufficiency and personal responsibility, ensuring that immigrants are able to support themselves and become successful here in America.”

Who knew Cuccinelli was an old Anglo-Saxon name?

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Legal Absurdities | Republicans
January 24, 2020
Stocking the Swamp

From Huffpost:

WASHINGTON ― Senate Republicans voted Wednesday to make Lawrence VanDyke a lifetime federal judge, despite the American Bar Association rating him “not qualified” because, according to his own colleagues, he is “arrogant, lazy, an ideologue, and lacking in knowledge of the day-to-day practice including procedural rules…”

But his most damning indictment came from the American Bar Association, which for years has evaluated the competency of each of a president’s judicial nominees. After interviews with dozens of his colleagues, including 43 lawyers and 16 judges, the national lawyers’ group gave VanDyke an embarrassing “not qualified” rating. The ABA said VanDyke’s colleagues described him as “arrogant, lazy” and “an ideologue,” and couldn’t say if he “would be fair to any litigant before him, notably members of the LGBTQ community.”

The ABA evaluation cited a theme among interviewees that VanDyke “has an ‘entitlement’ temperament, does not have an open mind, and does not always have a commitment to being candid and truthful.”


January 13, 2020
Trump’s Continued War on Human Rights

Anthony Piel writes:

While the American public continues to be distracted by the Trump administration’s assassination of an Iranian government official (itself a violation of international law), Trump continues his war on the very concepts of human rights and international law.

As Rafia Zakaria recently pointed out in “The Death of Human Rights,” Trump has continued to crumble the edifice of human rights that began with the 1948 ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. To do this, Trump has openly attacked the United Nations, NATO and the EU, as unnecessary international collaboration when a Trump/US unilateral diktat should suffice, with all other nations just falling in line.

Example: Recently, the UN Security Council watched, appalled, as the Trump delegation announced that the United States would no longer consider Israeli settlements in the West Bank a violation of international law. In 2019, Trump woke up one morning and announced that he had “decided to give the Golan Heights to Israel.” (Problem, it wasn’t his to give.)

Now, with most Americans thoroughly distracted, Trump is quietly preparing his proposed US National Budget for 2020. The Trump administration is seeking a reduction in regular funding for the UN by 25 %, and still more for Peacekeeping and Family Planning, and is trying to persuade USAID and WHO to spend less attention and money on control of international communicable diseases, such as Malaria and Ebola.

Domestically, Trump would “privatize” Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, if he could. He is further weakening regulation of land, water and air pollution, as well as protections for endangered species, human health, and survival of Planet Earth. Under Trump, even more federal and state funds will be diverted from public schools to private “religious” schools to promote their own religions (an unconstitutional purpose).

We all know, or should know, the obvious solution: Kick Trump and his political cronies and tax avoiding sycophants out of office, one way or the other. Trump is clearly “under equipped,” mentally and morally, for any job of responsibility in the US or anywhere else. Everything Trump has touched has turned into what Rachel Maddow and others have described as “cow puckey.”

If Trump is subsequently proven to have committed specific crimes, then investigate, prosecute, try, convict and sentence him, like every other citizen under the law. Finally, to paraphrase Trump himself, let us chant: “Lock HIM up !”


December 29, 2019
Twump’s Twicky Tweets…

…explained by Anthony Piel:

President Donald Trump spent yesterday at Mar-a-Lago tweeting and claiming credit for the Dow Jones reaching nearly 29,000, an all-time record. Trump has put out over 100 Tweets making this claim, and saying it will be the central issue in his campaign for re-election in 2020. Trump’s base is delirious !

The question is, do stock market price trends actually measure trends in the real economy, or something else ? The answer is, something else. So, what do the stock market prices actually reflect ? The answer : The continuing rise in stock markets results mainly from the continuing increase in disparity of wealth and income in the US. The typical already-wealthy few, who own and earn more that the bottom half of all Americans, have limited ways of investing their new wealth in economic development initiatives, so month after month and year after year, they routinely put part of their new-found (often untaxed) wealth in the stock and bond markets. It is this, and not economic growth, that accounts for the continuing rise in the markets.

…Read on