August 13, 2019
Private Sector vs. Medicare?

It's basically the same thing, as my son Ted explains in this article from The Hill

Here’s a yes or no question that most Americans, including those running for president get wrong: Is Medicare run by the government? Before I started working at Medicare after a decade in health care, I would have said so. But after several years at the agency, I came to realize that the better one-word answer is actually no — Medicare in truth is run by private industry.

Sure, the relatively tiny number of employees at the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) play a key oversight role, but they don’t in any real sense deliver Medicare to the American people. The principal job of CMS’s 6,200 employees is to manage contracts with hundreds of private companies, both small and large, that together provide Medicare to us all.

I am not only talking about the relatively well-known Medicare Advantage plans, whereby about one-third of Medicare recipients choose to get their benefit directly from a health insurance company like Cigna or Aetna.

Medicare Advantage just happens to be one area of CMS’s operation where the agency allows the companies that are delivering Medicare to use their own names, logos and limited provider networks.

…Read on

Stacking the Deck

Interesting speculation by Bob Cesca in Salon. Can he be right? Can Fat Donny’s uniformly disastrous economic policies be nothing more than market-rigging for his own profit? The ultimate insider, trading? Why not? It makes sense when no other explanation does, not even stupidity. A total moron would stumble now and then into sound economic policy.

…Worst of all, Trump has clumsily staggered beyond the ludicrous economic policies of the Bush years to further destabilize financial markets, including your 401k accounts and the future security of your employment. Specifically, the president’s trade war of choice against China has turned a steadily rising Dow Jones average, through 2017, into an unstable sawtooth pattern with massive single-day declines that are now tempting a full-on 2008-style collapse.

If you don’t believe me, check out the markets from January to March of 2018, during the months immediately following Trump’s tax cut. Normally, a tax cut would drive the financial markets upward. But in March of 2018, just a few months after the bill was signed, Trump stupidly launched his trade war by announcing 25 percent tariffs on steel and 10 percent tariffs on aluminum, applied to all of our trading partners. From those months onward — including today, as I write this article — the Dow, S&P and Nasdaq have been unstable messes.

At risk of burying the lede, I have a theory that Trump and his cronies may be manipulating and shorting the markets, reaping vast profits off the declines. Every time Trump tweets or blurts new tariff threats or economic bellicosity aimed at China, the market takes a dump. As we all know, Trump hasn’t divested from his business interests. We also know that Trump has manipulated the markets before, based on a massive investigation in the New York Times indicating that Trump engaged in a scheme with his dad, Fred Trump, known as “greenmailing…”

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August 08, 2019
Mudsharks

Do you know what a mudshark is, or a midshark? Me neither. We must have been hanging around with the wrong groid. So educate yourself with this exchange, from a site called Stormfront.

GenXwarrior writes:

It has been my rule since i was a teenager to never date a woman who has ever been with men who were not white. They are forever tainted. The mere thought of it disgusts me.
Guitarist replies:
Sucks for the younger generations though. White women who’ve never slept outside their race is getting to be slim pickings. Add to the fact that you don’t 100% know everybody’s sexual history anyway. Many are going to have to take one for the team and get with a mudshark. Many are with midsharks and don’t even know it. There’s not enough classy white women to go around. It sucks, but we can’t let a white women’s past keep us from having a future.
GenXwarrior demurs:
You have your standards, I have mine. The knowledge that some groid had once been grunting and pumping away on the woman i am with is too much to endure. We had an unwritten rule among my peers in high school; once you go black, you can’t come back. I have lived by that rule ever since.
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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 3:21 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (0)
Animal blogging | Philosophy
Drawing a Blank

These poems come from a site called Stormfront. Prose selections will follow.

From NastyOlWhiteG:


WHITE
the color of my skin
WHITE
the only shape I'm in
WHITE
with me through thick and thin
WHITE
not any other color than that
WHITE
with me through times lean and fat
WHITE
it fits me like a hat
WHITE

From SouthHip:


White is Light,
It gives us Sight
To see the past and the future,
To know that Nature
(or God, if I might)
Its creatures transformed
(fundamentally, if I might)
To secure those features
that made beasts into humans.


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August 02, 2019
A Tale of Two Khashoggis

It is becoming increasingly evident from recent investigations by the likes of “Bellingcat” and from leaked witness statements by U.S. corporate executives, that a network of interlocking billionaire-owned “shell companies” has been taking a cut of at least five percent every year on most US military technology and equipment export sales to Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East. The take could be on the order of $4 billion, a loss to buyers, sellers and US taxpayers. These anonymous “shell” companies do not report to anyone or government their ownership, investors, partners, sources of funds, taxable income, or where the money goes. One thing is sure: A Saudi named Adnan Khashoggi was among the network founders. There is also (as yet unproven) evidence that the Trump and Kushner enterprises may be among the anonymous “investors.” ( Frankly, I have long suspected this, as reflected in my 2018 article below.) — Tony Piel

…Read on

Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 5:07 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (1)
Weakening America | World Affairs
July 28, 2019
Shame!

Tweet of the day: “Dems always play the race card when they are unable to win with facts. Shame!”

Don’t you just hate it when somebody does that?

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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 5:06 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (0)
Idiots | Race | Republicans | Rich White Trash
July 24, 2019
Belling the Cat…

…or Russian cyber warfare against the West, by Tony Piel, a former Director and General Legal Counsel of the World Health Organization:

You may or may not know about “Bellingcat.” An independent investigative association based in Leister, England, Bellingcat (name derived from the fabled question: “But who will bell the cat?”) has been for several years pursuing and reporting on clandestine Russian operations to undermine Western democracy, by carrying out weaponized cyber-hacking, spying, assassinations and other criminal acts around the world.

Most recently, for example, Bellingcat has unveiled the true identity of the world traveling Russian “Sergey Fedotov” as really senior GRU officer, Major-General Vyacheslavovich Sergeev. By tracing Fedotov/Sergeev’s mobile phone, it is revealed that “globe-trotter” and supervisor Sergeev has shown up again and again at the time and place of assassinations (such as the Novichok nerve agent poisonings of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury, England on March 4, 2018) and cyber-hacking of major institutions (such as the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in Lausanne, Switzerland, as revealed in 2016, showing that Russia seeks to use performance-enhancing drugs to undermine the integrity of the International Olympics.)

Thanks to Bellingcat and other reliable sources, there is now overwhelming evidence that Putin’s Russia is developing and testing the technological means of using cyber-weaponry to invade election systems and to plant disinformation in Western countries, and even to shut down nuclear facilities and the electrical power grid in these countries, including the USA.

So, what is the current US administration and its supporters, inside Congress and out, doing about this existential threat ? Essentially nothing. How shall we call it ? Call it as it is: Call it Treason.


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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 5:05 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (4)
Weakening America
July 23, 2019
Everybody Loves Trump

The Trump circus marches on, dauntless and unbloodied. It ’s going to keep doing so right to reelection, when the Democrats discover, too late as always, that while the Biden/Harris ticket made the Beltway thrill, it left the rest of the country totally cold. Empty rhetoric about making America moral again and calling Trump a racist meanie might make you feel virtuous, but it doesn’t put any meat on the table. Once again, the Democrats will have fallen for the siren song of centrism, assured by all The Right People that it was a sure winner, and once again, all The Right People will have been proven wrong. They’ll blame Bernie Sanders, Jill Stein and Vladimir Putin, and resume collecting six figures and opining on MSNBC, no skin off their backs.

There is a very simple point about Trump that needs to be acknowledged: People like his racism. They like it when he smears brown people. Every American Legion Hall in the country erupts with joy when he tells brown-skinned female Representatives “go back to their own country.” Every ape in MAGA land chortles with glee when he calls Mexicans rapists and serial killers. Trump pisses off all the people they hate and they love him for it. This is why no evidence of criminality will ever bring him down. If Trump was videotaped having sex with a box turtle in the White House basement over a dead body and a pile of cocaine, they’d still stick with him. He’s their boy and they’ll never quite him, and as long as that’s the case, the entire Republican party will fall in line and support him.

…Read on

Posted by OHollern at 6:01 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (2)
Guess Who Wrote This

At the bottom of their hearts the great masses of the people are more likely to be poisoned than to be consciously and deliberately bad. In the primitive simplicity of their minds they are more easily victimized by a large than by a small lie, since they sometimes tell petty lies themselves but would be ashamed to tell big ones.
Wrong. It was Adolf Hitler, in Mein Kampf.
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July 20, 2019
More Relevance from 1916…

…when Madison Grant published his runaway bestseller, The Passing of the Great Race:

As in all wars since Roman times, from a breeding point of view, the little dark man is the final winner. No one who saw one of our regiments march on its way to the Spanish War could fail to be impressed with the size and blondness of the men in the ranks as contrasted with the complacent citizen, who from his safe stand on the gutter curb gave his applause to the fighting man, and then stayed home to perpetuate his own brunet type.

This same Nordic element, everywhere the type of the sailor, the soldier, the adventurer, and the pioneer, was ever the type to migrate to new countries, until the ease of transportation and the desire to escape military service in the last 40 years reversed the immigrant tide. In consequence of this change our immigrants now largely represent lowly refugees from quote “persecution” and other social discards.

In most cases the blood of pioneers has been lost to the race. They did not take their women with them. They either died childless or left half breeds behind them. The virile blood of the Spanish conquistadores, who are now little more than a memory in Central and South America, died out from these causes. This was also true in the early days of our western frontiersmen, who individually were far finer type than the settlers who follow them.

(Ed. note: To Silicon Valley, a lot of them. Look at Jeff Bezos for instance. His adopted father was Cuban.)

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July 19, 2019
Slow Learners

In the American Labor Legislation Review, the Yale economist Irving Fisher wrote, “At present the United States has the unenviable distinction of being the only great industrial nation without compulsory health insurance.”

Professor Fisher’s “present” has dragged on for quite a while now. His study came out in 1916.


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July 15, 2019
When We Really Needed A Wall

Blame it on the Democrats. Roosevelt let her in:

Born as the 10th child of the MacLeod family on the Outer Hebridean Isle of Lewis in 1912, Mary Trump was raised in a strict Presbyterian, Gaelic speaking household. She emigrated to New York in 1930 and found work as a domestic servant before later marrying businessman Fred Trump and having five children.

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July 14, 2019
The Real Issues

As usual it’s hard to argue with Noam Chomsky on this. I would only add that in our outrage over Russia’s interference with our election we seem to forget that interference with foreign elections is what our own CIA does for a living.

And, I should say, the Democrats are helping Trump. They are. Take the focus on Russiagate. What’s that all about? I mean, it was pretty obvious at the beginning that you’re not going to find anything very serious about Russian interference in elections. I mean, for one thing, it’s undetectable. I mean, in the 2016 election, the Senate and the House went the same way as the executive, but nobody claims there was Russian interference there.

In fact, you know, Russian interference in the election, if it existed, was very slight, much less, say, than interference by, say, Israel. Israel, the prime minister, Netanyahu, goes to Congress and talks to a joint session of Congress, without even informing the White House, to attack Obama’s policies. I mean, that’s dramatic interference with elections. Whatever the Russians tried, it’s not going to be anything like that.

And, in fact, there’s no interference in elections that begins to compare with campaign funding. Remember that campaign funding alone gives you a very high prediction of electoral outcome. It’s, again, Tom Ferguson’s major work which has shown this very persuasively. That’s massive interference in elections. Anything the Russians might have done is going to be, you know, peanuts in comparison. As far as Trump collusion with the Russians, that was never going to amount to anything more than minor corruption, maybe building a Trump hotel in Red Square or something like that, but nothing of any significance.

The Democrats invested everything in this issue. Well, turned out there was nothing much there. They gave Trump a huge gift. In fact, they may have handed him the next election. That’s just a—that’s a matter of being so unwilling to deal with fundamental issues, that they’re looking for something on the side that will somehow give political success.

The real issues are different things. They’re things like climate change, like global warming, like the Nuclear Posture Review, deregulation. These are real issues. But the Democrats aren’t going after those. They’re looking for something else, the Democratic establishment. I’m not talking about the young cohort that’s coming in, which is quite different. Just all of that has to be shifted significantly, if there’s going to be a legitimate political opposition to the right-wing drift that’s taking place. And it can happen, can definitely happen, but it’s going to take work.

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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 8:02 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (0)
Elections | What Actually Matters
July 10, 2019
Party Labels

From the New York Times:

In 90 minutes of oral arguments on whether a federal district judge in Texas was correct in striking down the Affordable Care Act in December, two appellate judges appointed by Republican presidents peppered lawyers with blunt questions while the third judge, appointed by President Jimmy Carter, remained silent.

The two Republican appointees, Jennifer Walker Elrod, appointed by President George W. Bush in 2007, and Kurt Engelhardt, appointed by President Trump in 2018, seemed particularly skeptical of the Democratic defendants’ argument that Congress had fully intended to keep the rest of the law when it eliminated the penalty for going without insurance as part of its 2017 tax overhaul.

Identifying judges by party is a welcome change for the Times, as it would be for just about the entire American media. But even the Times couldn’t stay out of step for long. Here’s the next paragraph:

If the mandate is indeed unconstitutional, the next question is whether the rest of the Affordable Care Act can function without it. In December, Judge Reed O’Connor of the Federal District Court in Fort Worth said it could not and declared that the entire law must fall.

O’Connor is a Republican, that goes without saying. But it shouldn’t, given the political innocence of many, perhaps most, Americans. They might even believe Chief Justice John Roberts when he says “We don’t work as Democrats or Republicans,” and “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,” and “We do not serve one party or one interest. We serve one nation.” Roberts may even believe that stuff himself, although I hope not. I’d rather have a partisan on the Court than a moron.

Every judge, every time, right down to traffic court, should be identified by his party of origin by every broadcaster and publication in America. Meanwhile, though, you’ll have to count on me. Just go to the right hand column and click on “Who Put That Asshole on the Court?”

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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 7:18 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (0)
Media | US Supreme Court
July 03, 2019
Trump Would Lead the Parade Himself…

… if it weren’t for those darned old bone spurs. This from Tony Piel, formerly with the U.S. Second and Fourth Armored (Tank) Divisions:
Like other Dictators, US President Donald Trump has announced that he has decided to hold a military extravaganza parade in Washington D.C. on the Fourth of July 2019 to show off U.S. military power (and thus to celebrate himself as “Dear Leader” of our country). It will include a fly-over by military aircraft (including his own “Air Force One)” as well the use of U.S' Army tanks, missiles and other weaponry.

You will be pleased to hear that Trump’s proposal includes showing off the latest shiny, “brand new Sherman tanks” (his words, not mine) as evidence of the latest in US military technology and proof of US military supremacy under his (Trump’s) leadership.

There's a hitch: We haven’t made Sherman tanks since World War II in the 1940s. Trump can perhaps be forgiven for this gaffe. For two reasons:

(1) Trump performed notoriously poorly in history courses in primary and secondary schools (a White House secret). Now, is ignorance of history a valid excuse ? (It did not deter acceptance for higher education, but that was thanks to endowment contributions from Daddy Fred Trump.)

(2) Trump was a draft dodger who paid for a fake medical deferment during the Vietnam War. (Well, “Who wants to die in a swamp ? “ Anyway, it didn’t deter him from playing golf.) So, how can President Trump be blamed for ignorance of such archaic military details ?

The cost of Trump’s extravaganza (to honor himself and frighten other nations) is estimated to cost some $100 million over and above the usual cost of conventional Fourth of July celebrations in Washington D.C. (This is somewhat higher than the cost of children’s soap, toothpaste, blankets and soccer balls. Presumably, Trump takes showers, eats well, and sleeps in a well-feathered bed, but he never played soccer. So, how would he know — or care ?). But wait ’til you see those “new” Shermans. (Realizing his gaffe, Trump is probably looking for some antiques right now.)

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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 1:31 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (2)
American Heroes | Idiots | Rich White Trash
June 30, 2019
The First National Sperm Bank

I was on Trump’s case way back in 1992, when my Tom Bethany mystery, Strangle Hold, was published. You’ll notice that in the excerpt below I felt no need to explain who he was. Even then any reader who wasn’t one himself knew Fat Donny was a ridiculous asshole.

Ned got back out on stage, then, and talked about the troupe, and about the nature of improvisational comedy. And then he introduced our own special little number. “Okay,” Ned said, “what we’re going to stage here is a holdup. And what you folks are going to do is tell us what to hold up. What about it? Who’s been stuck up?”

“A pizza parlor.”
“A topless bar...”
“A laundromat...”
“A sperm bank,” someone shouted. Three or four other suggestions came from the audience, and then the players huddled off to one side as if they were discussing which one to build on. Then a frizzy-haired blonde left the huddle with a chair in hand, and sat down facing us. She made as if she were working at an imaginary desk, while an actor named Harvey came through an imaginary door and stood in front of her. It was all going according to the script:

…Read on

Below Zero

I just got back from Barrow, Alaska, where I’ve been holed up for the last ten months. I randomly applied for a teaching job up there last July and, to my horrified surprise, the principal called me the very next morning. Two weeks later all of my worldly belongings were packed in a storage shed and I was on a plane.

(“All of my worldly belongings” are: a bed, a desk, about fifteen boxes of books, a dresser, and a 1999 Honda CRV with two hundred thousand miles on it; I also had a TV but I threw it away. I live like fuckin’ Ghandi, partly by choice but partly from financial want).

Fun facts about Barrow: It’s real name is Utqiagvik, which means “the place where we gather roots” or “the place where we hunt snowy owls,” depending on who you ask, but it doesn’t matter because nobody can pronounce the word anyway, so everyone still just says Barrow. It’s about three hundred and thirty miles north of the Arctic Circle — the northernmost town in the United States — and there are no roads in or out. From November to January the sun doesn’t come up; from May to July it doesn’t go down. It’s always cold. The temperature got as low as negative 36 with negative 60 wind chill. The hottest it will get in the summer is between 47-50 degrees.

The highest structure in town used to be the Presbyterian church, now it’s the Wells Fargo building. Out with the old God, in with the new …

There is nothing, absolutely nothing, around for hundreds of miles but bleak and forbidding tundra. To the north, just a few blocks from my front door, is the Arctic Ocean, which looked like this one afternoon last August:


…Read on

Posted by OHollern at 3:24 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (1)
June 28, 2019
Them That Needs It

If free education for all is too expensive for the Republicans, Edward Bellamy has a perfectly logical suggestion in Looking Backward:

“If, indeed, we could not afford to educate everybody, we should choose the coarsest and dullest by nature, rather than the brightest, to receive what education we could give. The naturally refined and intellectual can better dispense with aids to culture than those less fortunate in natural endowments.”
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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 5:40 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (3)
Class Warriors | Education
June 21, 2019
What Is It About Iran?

…my neighbor Alan Tucker wonders. Here’s his answer, long but worth it:

What is it about Iran with us? A national schizophrenia? A disinterest in looking farther back into our national past than Mork and Mindy? What? For example, an article titled “Ayatollah Calls Trump ‘True Face’ of the U.S.” ran in the Feb. 8 New York Times. Thomas Erdbrink, reporting from Tehran on what the Ayatollah actually said, did what a journalist for the indispensable Times is supposed to do — and on site! So far, so good.

But then (read carefully now) Erdbrink segued into some context, beginning with “The history of animosity between both countries is long and deep,” followed by what we think of Iran — four words: sponsor of terrorist organizations.

“Iran has also been held responsible by the United States for several terror attacks, most decades ago. One of them, of course, was the seizure of 54 members of the American Embassy staff in Tehran for 444 days during the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Iran has also been accused of involvement in a 1983 bomb attack at a Marine barracks in Lebanon, where 241 service personnel died…. Iran denies the accusations.

“Iran has pressed several claims against the United States. Iran holds the United States responsible for having supported Saddam Hussein with intelligence, funds and weapons after he attacked Iran [Note: Iraq attacked Iran.] in 1980, dragging both countries into a [sic] eight-year war where thousands of Iranians and Iraqis died. [Deaths as would be typical in eight-year wars.]

“In 1988, an American naval vessel, the Vincennes, shot down an Iran Air commercial plane, flying over the Persian Gulf [yes, Persian Gulf] to Dubai, in the united Arab Emirates. All 290 people aboard died. Iran called the attack deliberate and the United States called it a mistake. Under a settlement … the United States offered no apologies and was order to pay around $60 million in damages to families of the victims.”

Really, that’s it? No mention of the genesis of the history of animosity? Such as that in the mid-1950s the US and the UK colluded to overthrow a democratically elected government in Iran. What a nice thing it would have been if we had nurtured that nascent Middle Eastern as a product of the shining example of America’s vaunted exceptional mission in the world. Instead, it was let’s take the oil from the wogs. And they’re barely civilized, not like us. (Oh, did they have a glorious civilization while the Europeans were living in huts? Who knew? Who cares?)

…Read on

June 13, 2019
Don't Worry…

…be happy. Huffpost sends this from The Real America:

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) arrived early at the “America First Dinner with President Donald J. Trump” on Tuesday … Only five months ago, King condoned white supremacy in an interview with The New York Times. “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” he said. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”

Bobby Penning, a 70-year-old corn farmer, said he wasn’t really aware of King’s past controversies — like when the congressman endorsed a white supremacist for mayor of Toronto, the three times he’s promoted neo-Nazis and white supremacists on Twitter, the time he said that you “can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies,” the time King warned of Mexican immigrants with “calves the size of cantaloupes” smuggling drugs across the border, and the time King talked to a Hungarian alt-right publication about the superiority of European culture.

“I’m from rural Iowa,” Penning said. “We don’t worry about those things.”

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June 11, 2019
Child Abuser

Tony Piel writes:

On June 5, 2019, the Trump administration announced that it would restrict or cancel education, legal aid and playground recreation (such as the playing of soccer) for children held in “shelter” camps on our southern border.

President Donald Trump claims both the power and the necessity to do so based on: (1) his imagined “unlimited executive privilege” (which does not exist in fact or law); (2) his declared “national emergency” on our southern border (which is denied by the US Congress); and (3) the fact that our federal government already “pays too much for these children” (at the expense of tax breaks for the very wealthy). Most soccer balls, by the way, are donated by private persons.

If Trump persists in punishing children in order to dissuade their parents and others from seeking asylum, the US will be, and Trump himself will be, in violation of binding international treaties and agreements including: (a) the 1924 Declaration of the Rights of the Child, (b) the UN Charter and 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights; (c) the 1989 Treaty Convention on the Rights of the Child (which the Trump administration still refuses to ratify); and more recently (d) the 1985 - 1997 “Flores Settlement” on the detention, fair treatment and rapid release of immigrant children.

Under international law, States are bound by signed treaty obligations, and are required to prosecute any and all offenders including a head of state. This is also true under US national law. How so ? Article VI of the US Constitution states that “All Treaties made under the Authority of the United States shall be the Supreme Law of the Land.” That seems clear enough.

The choice for President Trump becomes patently clear: Removal of the announced violations of the Rights of the Child, or removal from office — one way or another. Which shall it be ?

(Anthony Piel is a former director and general legal counsel of the World Health Organization.)
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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 5:42 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (0)
Idiots | Legal Absurdities | Rich White Trash
June 04, 2019
Ukraine Leads the Way

Probably you already saw this, but then again…

KIEV, Ukraine — A young television comic and novice candidate trounced Ukraine’s political elite in the first round of the presidential election, official results showed Monday — a stinging rebuke by an electorate tired of the lack of change in a country dominated by rich businessmen.

Results released by the Central Electoral Committee showed that Volodymyr Zelensky, 41, who is famous for playing a schoolteacher accidentally vaulted into the presidency, leading the field with more than 30 percent. He received 5.2 million votes, almost double the number of his nearest competitor, President Petro O. Poroshenko, who had just under 16 percent.

That the Times gave even these few inches to Ukraine’s new president means that it found the whole thing weird, even humorous. Those Ukrainers, what’ll they be up to next, huh?

I found it brilliant, and wish we were smart enough to do likewise. Not only should we elect a comic as president, we ought to make it compulsory. Comedians see the world much more clearly and accurately than politicians do. Spotting bullshit, their own and others', is their profession. They are not stupid. Nobody stupid can be funny, unless by accident. Take Trump. Please.

I’ll take Jerry Seinfeld, Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, Amy Schumer, Larry David, Ellen DeGeneres, Louis C.K., Richard Pryor, Whoopi Goldberg, David Letterman, any one of them for president over most of the candidates milling around for 2020.

The best of the lot, now unfortunately dead, was the greatest philosopher of our times, George Carlin.


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How About French Kisses?

This from the Times:

Should Americans, as part of their school curriculum, learn Arabic numerals?

CivicScience, a Pittsburgh-based research firm, put that question to some 3,200 Americans recently in a poll seemingly about mathematics, but the outcome was a measure of students’ attitudes toward the Arab world. Some 56 percent of the respondents said, “No.” Fifteen percent had no opinion.

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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 1:42 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (2)
Education
May 28, 2019
Stable Genius?

Depends on the stable. There’s some pretty smart studs out there.


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May 14, 2019
Trump Cleared by Noted Scholar!

Tony Piel reports:

The Mueller Report is now available at your favorite bookstore as published by Skyhorse Publishing (2019). Liz and I purchased it at Barnes and Noble for $12, for the sole purpose of having access to the exact words and findings of the Mueller Report.

The only hesitancy I had about buying this particular book version of the Mueller Report was the fact that it is "introduced" by Alan Dershowitz, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law Emeritus of the Harvard Law School. After the "Introduction," you have to go to page 38 to start the actual (if still "redacted") Mueller Report.

Why is this important ? Because the "average" reader will probably be snowed under by the legalistic language, detracting and misleading statements up front by Professor Dershowitz and by Trump's appointee Attorney General William Barr. How so ? The Dershowitz "Introduction" concludes quite simply:

"The report is a complete exoneration" of Donald Trump, and therefore "We should put the allegation to rest both as a legal and factual matter."

We all know, or should know by now, that this statement of "complete exoneration" by the Mueller Report is utterly false. If the casual reader swallows the Dershowitz "Introduction," then why bother to read the actual report, which begins on page 38 ? If Trump is completely exonerated, why read further?

Oddly, there is no mention of who put the book together. Who decided to give first place to Dershowitz, followed by Barr, before getting to what the Mueller team actually wrote ? Did some partisan group want to get the report out first, precisely to undercut it ? Does Dershowitz not read or speak plain English ? Too many lunches at Mar-a-Lago ? Would you want to send your child or grandchild to Harvard at the risk of being taught, judged and graded by the likes of Dershowitz? I don't think so.

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May 10, 2019
Trump Done Good

See, what did I tell you?

Up to 200,000 uninsured people may soon have access to a medication that prevents the transmission of HIV.

The Trump administration announced on Twitter that health officials have worked with the biotechnology company Gilead, which developed the drug Truvada or PrEP (pre-exposure prophalaxis), to secure a donation of the medication, CNN reports.

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May 09, 2019
War or Peace?

Tony Piel reminisces:

Anyone interested in understanding where our nation is headed internationally under the leadership of President Donald Trump, with the influence and incitement of his National Security Adviser, John Bolton, will do well to read Dexter Filkin's "On the Warpath" in the May 6, 2019 issue of The New Yorker.

I had the occasion to meet with John Bolton when he visited the World Health Organization back in the 1990s, intending to straighten us out for promoting international cooperation to control malaria and other communicable diseases. Bolton's view was that international collaboration and agencies like the UN, UNICEF and WHO were unneeded and wasteful. All that was needed, said Bolton, was for "the US to take the leadership, and have all the other countries just to fall in line."

In the first thirty seconds, I could see we were talking with an arrogant, born "Neo-Dictator," defined as an unalterable opponent of social democracy, one who seeks to employ a violent ideology to promote disunity and create a "Me First" political state, to rule America, and indeed the rest of the world. As National Security Adviser he had no respect for diplomacy, and faced with enemies abroad, Bolton would bomb first. (No matter that, like Cheney and Trump, Bolton dodged the Vietnam war draft. He didn't want to "die in a swamp." That's for other people.)

"On the Warpath" confirms our initial impression of Bolton, and probably yours too. To pick a single example: Bolton once made an impromptu entry to the office of Jose Bustani, then heading the US involvement in the International Convention to Ban Chemical Weapons, and demanded that Bustani resign. Why ? Because, said Bolton, the job was NOT to ban chemical weapons, but to ban the ban! Sure enough, the White House cut short Bustani's term. Result? Last year Bustani was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. (Trump wasn't.)

Trump's extreme unpredictability combined with Bolton's extreme predictability makes for a highly combustible mixture, with serious future risk of chemical and nuclear disaster for our country and the entire world. The choice is between War and Peace. It couldn't be clearer.


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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 6:28 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (0)
Idiots | Warmongers
May 05, 2019
Preposterous Times

From the last interview given by novelist Philip Roth, who died last year:

No one I know of has foreseen an America like the one we live in today. No one (except perhaps the acidic H.L. Mencken, who famously described American democracy as “the worship of jackals by jackasses”) could have imagined that the 21st-century catastrophe to befall the USA, the most debasing of disasters, would appear not, say, in the terrifying guise of an Orwellian Big Brother but in the ominously ridiculous commedia dell’arte figure of the boastful buffoon. How naïve I was in 1960 to think that I was an American living in preposterous times! How quaint! But then what could I know in 1960 of 1963 or 1968 or 1974 or 2001 or 2016?

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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 3:12 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (0)
Idiots | Rich White Trash
May 04, 2019
He Ought to Know

From Fat Donny’s fake autobiography, The Art of the Deal, available at all fine bookstores:

Instead, Conrad Hilton used his will to disenfranchise his children and grandchildren. At the time of his death, Conrad’s stock in Hilton was worth perhaps $500 million. But Conrad believed very strongly that inherited wealth destroys moral character and motivation. I happen to believe that it often does.
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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 6:34 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (2)
Idiots | Rich White Trash
May 01, 2019
Trump Sues Deutsche Bank : Why ?

Anthony Piel writes:

President Donald J. Trump filed a lawsuit in Federal Court in Manhattan this week, aimed at blocking Deutsche Bank from turning over Trump's personal and corporate business and tax records in response to a "friendly subpoena" by the US Congress. Here's the How, What, and Why.

Over two decades Trump has borrowed billions of dollars from. Deutsche Bank (DB) because he could no longer get it from American banks. How did DB get this kind of money ? When the Soviet Union collapsed back in 1991, a clique of "oligarchs," led by former KGB agent Vladimir Putin, took over all formerly State-owned assets (mineral reserves, manufacturing facilities) and sold them back and forth among themselves at ridiculous prices.

But then, to conceal all this from the "ordinary" Russian people, the "oligarchs" had to transfer billions abroad via secretive tax havens, disguised "investments," and, oh yes, DB. However, DB couldn't cook up enough legitimate business lending to match the excessive "oligarch's" deposits.

And then along came the Trump and Kushner families and organizations with the opposite problem: not enough cash to cover mounting debts and mortgage payments for their various towers, hotels, skyscrapers, failed casinos, failed university and other fiascos. A perfect match made in heaven (or hell).

For years the Trumps and Kushners engaged in (and are still doing it) a wide range of business fraud and tax evasion. For example: They dipped into a federal EB-5 program for rural development and stole millions of dollars for personal use and to defer mortgage payments in their urban developments — exactly what the law was NOT intended to do. For background on the hundreds of criminal scams, fraudulent tax-evasion schemes committed by the Kushners and Trumps, see Vicky Ward's "Kushner, Inc. — Greed, Ambition, Corruption," (St. Martin's Press, 2019).

Little wonder. Trump is absolutely, insanely opposed to disclosure of the truth.

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