Category: Politics

On Compromise And The Civil War

Claimeth John Kelly: “But the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War, and men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had them make their stand”.

Yes, John Kelly, rich white dudes refusing to compromise their profits for human decency totally caused the civil war. Now let’s address all the things rich white dudes refuse to compromise their profits for today … sustainable production, livable environment, human decency, REALITY.

News Dump

Almost a year ago, everyone knew some primary challenger funded opposition research, terminated the contract when Trump secured the nomination, and then someone on the Democratic side picked up the tab to continue research. We got names to go with it last week, and somehow that was meant to indicate Clinton colluded with Russia. Or something. Alternative logic using alternative facts really isn’t my thing.

And then we were treated to the criminal collusion of … half a dozen disparate government agencies approving the sale of domestic uranium resources (with a stipulation against export, although if a gun law wouldn’t stop a mass shooting … I guess export restrictions wouldn’t stop a nuc either).

And for a short time this morning, I thought they were a distraction from Manafort’s indictment. But it didn’t make sense – for one, the due was warned some time ago. I guess he expected a three day countdown warning or something, but it wasn’t a secret that something was coming against him.

Then the Justice Department slipped a plea agreement into their filing database. A plea agreement with a Trump campaign official who lied to the FBI about attempting to collude with the Russian government to support Trump’s campaign. Shortly before Jr & co met with the ‘totally not Kremlin connected Russian lawyer’ about ‘adoptions that totally had nothing to do with American policy related to Russia’.

Reading through the plea agreement (https://www.justice.gov/file/1007341/download) … the offense level is 4, which (baring the chap having a prodigious criminal history) is a 0-6 month sentence with the possibility of fines up to 10k. Not a bad deal for a crime that yield up to five years imprisonment *and* 250k in fines. Total speculation on my part, but I think he’s agreed to testify against someone notable.

The Red Herring

This entire story arc is is sad, but the two ostensible protagonists come off terribly – Kelly more-so than his boss, but that might be intentional. Trump is asked why the administration hasn’t spoken about military personnel KIA – a question which I interpret to mean why has the WH not addressed the situation that led to their deaths. But the malignant narcissist in chief makes the whole operation about how awesome he is (or is not) at consoling grieving military families. Red herring. But for some reason everyone grabs a pole and goes fishing. Investigations into the operation are below-the-fold side-bars, and at least two media outlets took to ringing gold star families to determine what percentage Trump has actually called. Now we’ve got a whole school of red herrings swimming around: 25k checks in the mail, people who *were* comforted by Trump’s call, percentages who have never heard from the dude.

Then Kelly – instead of saying yeah, he advised Trump to tell the family that this is what the kid wanted to be doing, explained how this knowledge was a great comfort to *him* when his son died, but conceded may have been offensive to someone else (or that the message got lost when translated to Trump word-salad) or that there is literally nothing you could say to a family driving to pick up the casket of their dead son/husband that would help. Continuing that he’s crushed to think he may have had a part in increasing the family’s pain and hopes we can all focus on helping grieving families (here are some volunteer ideas) and returning military personnel (more volunteer ideas). Oh no, Kelly has to attack a Congresswoman for hearing a phone call whilst in the car with a constituent’s family?? And for a speech she may or may not have made in 2015. Even if she was completely full of herself and usurped a building’s dedication for self-aggrandizement (a move more typical of Kelly’s boss than, ya know, halfway sentient human beings) … so what.

The worst part is that Kelly’s explanation of what he counseled Trump to say and why … for me, the whole story made sense at that point and I’d forgotten that it was a red herring that got resolved. I could totally see how a military person might find comfort in knowing how much his son *wanted* to be there and died doing exactly what he wanted to do surrounded by the closest friends you could imagine. And I could also see where someone else might hear “he got what he asked for”. Wouldn’t have thought farther on it, had Kelly stopped there. But as he kept going on about the Congresswoman, I started to think about how little effort must have gone into preparing the message for the family. Did anyone from the WH side knew the kid or his family well? Or contact his superior officer to find out anything about the kid other than the fact he is dead? Did his parents hate that he enlisted and worry about him constantly or were they thrilled that their son was defending freedom across the globe? Did he enlist out of a sense of duty or a sense that the military provided a paycheque and future he couldn’t find elsewhere?

And why wouldn’t these kind of calls be scheduled? ‘Meeting the casket’ sounds like the flight arriving from Dover, which I would expect to be a military transport. Even if it isn’t a military transport, someone in the military should have known the departing flight number and had a halfway decent guess what the bereaved family would be doing that day.

And then I remember the whole thing is a logical fallacy and wonder what the fuck happened in Niger? What was so bad that sending the nation down a week-long narrative about what does or does not console grieving families, lies about what some obscure member of Congress said in a speech a few years back, who should or should not be present when a family decides to put Trump on speakerphone, and how many gold star families Trump has actually called is the *better* play.

Finally, a REAL FACT!!

Speaking about his failure to address the death of American soldiers in Niger, Trump said he’s mailed / is mailing / will mail tomorrow (yeah) letters. And defended this method of communication saying “Other presidents did not call, they would write letters, and some presidents didn’t do anything”. Most certainly, he is correct that some presidents did not call the family of deceased service members. The first telephone was installed in the White House in 1877 – and even then, I don’t know that phone service throughout the country was advanced enough to warrant phone calls from the chief executive.

Statistically, I am certain some presidents did do nothing too. Over half a million Union soldiers died in the Civil War — penning an individual letter to each family (even if you could combine a couple of siblings into one letter) would have been unrealistically time consuming.

We’re ten months into the administration, and I think we’ve finally gotten a fact fact!

A Welfare Queen Among Nations

Trump is (what’s the 140-character limit version of bloviating??) about not funding rebuilding efforts in Puerto Rico. No idea if the same goes for Texas or Florida, but either way. The thing of it is, someone will fund the rebuilding. Oxfam is already going in to help. Yeah, the same Oxfam that goes into third world countries following disasters. I guess we could save money by letting some NGO mange the rebuilding efforts.

But isn’t that the nation-state version of Reagan’s welfare queen? Someone who has is capable of self-sufficiency but instead goes the easier/cheaper route of letting “us” pay for their lifestyle?

I’m not claiming astonishment Trump would suggest this – his companies, after all, went the same route. Why undertake painful cutbacks or difficult work when you can just stick investors with the debt and stiff contractors? What does bother me, though, is that no one draws the parallel.

 

Trump & The NFL

An interesting observation:

The section in question is U.S. Code, Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 11, Section 227. If any player is damaged (in the legal sense — loses money because they are benched or terminated for protesting), they should have standing for a complaint. It’s not civil, so the president is not sheltered whilst in office.

Trump is a covered person. (b)(3) specifically lists the president. So there’s no quibbling on this count.

(a)(2) is a point where linguistics can be argued. “influences, or offers or threatens to influence, the official act of another,” — he has threatened to eliminate tax exemptions which is threatening to influence the official act of another to eliminate {not withhold, the term used in (a)(1)}

And the big argument – (a) “with the intent to influence, solely on the basis of partisan political affiliation, an employment decision or employment practice of any private entity” (emphasis is mine). Is his threat solely on the basis of political affiliation?

News organisations targeted by Trump may have a case under the same law. It’s a reach, but they may have a better case for Trump’s threats to be based “solely” on political affiliation (although Trump isn’t doing anything from political affiliation. He’s doing it from Trump affiliation). I don’t think any network has been sufficiently harmed (yet) so as to show damages, so that argument is moot. He pulls a Nixon and starts challenging licenses, though … there’s precedent that legal fees and such don’t constitute damages. Loss of advertising revenue?

 

The Nuclear Arsenal

Just round numbers here – in 2009 there were like 6,400 megatons yield in the world-wide nuclear arsenal. Keep in mind this doesn’t include conventional bombs/missiles/rockets, which are also quite adept at wide-spread death and destruction. Or bullets, for that matter.

Quick math: 6,400 megatons * 1000000 to get us into tons and then * 2000 because I assume they don’t mean metric tons gives us the equivalent yield of 1,280,000,000,000 pounds of TNT. World population in 2009 was, what, 7 billion? That’s around 180 pounds of TNT per person *JUST* in nuclear weaponry. More people today, and a lower total yield. Doubt 2017’s yield is half 2009’s though. And at half (3,200 megatons), we would still have 84 tons TNT equivalent for each of the 7.5 billion people on the planet. How will 300 or 400 pounds per person make our country stronger?

I saw a chart in the early 80’s that represented the world nuclear firepower (18,000 megatons) in terms of WWII (estimated at 3 megatons). The dots were overlaid with a grid – 11 x 11. 120 squares full of little dots (one square in the center was *just* a single dot representing WW2). Two squares on the grid was sufficient to destroy all of the large and medium size cities in the entire world. We had 118 more squares. Each representing another 150 megatons of firepower. And I doubt that was 10x what we have today (sorry, not *nearly* 10x what we have today).

Now I’ll grant you all seven point five billion people won’t just clump themselves into nicely bomb-able circles (why the nuclear arsenal is measured in warheads, making a pounds-TNT-equiv / person calculation for 2017 rather difficult). But ‘fucking moron’ is an understatement for someone demanding any sort of increase in the nuclear arsenal!

If we “need” more warheads, and I don’t think we do … but let’s pretend there’s a point to all this senseless murder, the problem isn’t a lack of nuclear firepower. It is that highly concentrated firepower is terribly inefficient. Estimate the number of people we plan to off in the next world-annihilating war (round numbers, let’s say all of em). Scale up by 20% or so, then make conventional micro-bomb drones with, say, the equiv of 2.5 pounds of TNT each. That’s not even 2% of the 2009 nuclear arsenal’s firepower. And you could literally eliminate every person on the planet. With a 20% margin of error (more people,drones that fail, whatever).

Licenses

How long before someone manages to explain the FCC to Trump? Because NBC? Not actually licensed – if you don’t believe my knowledge of communication regulation, check out the FCC’s own web page! The station that is using a specific frequency to magic NBC’s content through the air and into my home, now THEY are licensed. Tenga (here in Cleveland) could have their license yanked. Court would stay the order about eight seconds later, and I doubt even having Gorsuch puts the SC in a position to uphold a license revocation over a free speech issue. But they *have* a license to revoke.

And? If you are going to attack someone for reporting on your vastly lacking knowledge about laws and such, maybe do a little research to make sure your threat itself doesn’t demonstrate said vast lack of knowledge.

To Mike Ditka

There may not have been oppression, of which you were made aware, in the past hundred years. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened. I haven’t been pulled over for driving while black either. My melanin-challenged heritage probably has a lot to do with that fact, not the absence of racially motivated traffic stops in the twenty plus years since I started driving. So maybe do some research of your own, talk to some people, before fobbing off the experience of a rich old white dude as typical for all races, classes, and genders in America.

I’ve also had a police officer come up to me whilst I was breaking into a car in the middle of a car park and ask if he could help (yeah, it was my car but he didn’t know that and I had no way of proving it until the car was unlocked). This was before cell phones had widespread distribution, and he offered to have someone ring a locksmith to open my car for me. Didn’t have the money, I replied honestly, and continued to force the frame-less glass window down until I could reach through and unlock the door. Now some of that is demeanor. It was my car and I wasn’t freaked out because a cop rolled up behind me. I was also familiar enough with the car’s window mechanism to know a good bit of force would lower the window. The cop didn’t even ask to see some ID and the registration paperwork once I got the door opened. I have darker complected friends who have been stopped while driving a car with keys in it and accused of stealing the thing. Followed by a demand for ID and vehicle registration to prove the vehicle wasn’t stolen.

The added irony is that Ditka was discussing protests within the NFL – protests that are designed to bring attention to racial injustices around the country. He exemplifies the need for these protests.

 

Actual quotes: “There has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of.”

“Now maybe I’m not watching it as carefully as other people. I think the opportunity is there for everybody. Race, religion, creed, color, nationality — if you want to work, if you want to try, if you want to put effort into yourself, I think you can accomplish anything.”

For those keeping score at home …

For those keeping score at home, taking a knee (or linking arms) in protest during the national anthem should lead to immediate employee termination because the flag has been so disrespected. Walking out in protest during the national anthem? Absolutely the right thing to do.

The most ironic aspect of Pence’s worst-fake-spontaneity-in-memory protest is that it essentially proves the point Kaepernick was making. Racial inequality is a thing, and not a trivial little thing that inconveniences a few people a year. It’s a big thing that causes hundreds if not thousands of people to DIE, maybe hundreds of thousands more to be incarcerated, and who knows how many embarrassed and inconvenienced each year. If you’re an old white dude, you can walk out on the anthem. If you aren’t … you’re fired!