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Sunday, October 14, 2018

Morality As Sci Fi




The Needs of the Few Outweigh the Needs of the Many




Jared Kushner 'likely' paid little or no income taxes for years: NYTimes
David Shepardson
Reuters
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-kushner/jared-kushner-likely-paid-little-or-no-income-taxes-for-years-nytimes-idUSKCN1MN0TK



WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and a senior White House adviser, likely paid little or no federal income taxes between 2009 and 2016, the New York Times reported on Saturday, citing confidential financial documents...


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Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Three Shekels



Eric Trump said that Bob Woodward would amass 3 extra shekels from his book:
"Don’t you think people look through the fact, you can write some sensational, nonsense book, CNN will definitely have you on there because they love to trash the president," Trump said on Fox News, referring to "Fear," Woodward's book.

"It’ll mean you sell three extra books, you make three extra shekels, at the behest of the American people, at the behest of our country, that’s doing a phenomenal job by every quantifiable metric."
Haaretz
 https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/eric-trump-accused-of-anti-semitism-for-saying-bob-woodward-earned-three-extra-shekels-on-cnn-1.6468707


I do not know if this means Eric Trump is anti-Semitic. I think it does mean that he has interiorized a number of racial stereotypes during his life, and they are so much part of his psyche that they seem "commonsensical" or part of normal converse.

Why 3?
Why 3 shekels? I mean, Woodward would probably get three million dollars more in sales and unless the exchange rate is $1 million US to 1 Israeli shekel, there would be more than three. So why three?

Maybe Eric Trump meant half-shekels and had in mind
Why Three Half-Shekels?

The basic explanation for why it is customary to give three half-shekels is that the Torah portion that mandates the half-shekel contains the word terumah (“offering”) three times.8 Others explain that it corresponds to the three times it says the words machatzit hashekel (“half-shekel”).9
Three Fasts

The Lubavitcher Rebbe provides another connection. On fast days, the rabbis recommend that a person donate the amount of money he would have spent on his daily meal to charity. Thus, the fast day does not simply pad your bank account, but actually goes to help someone in need. In the Megillah, before Esther approached the king to invite him to her private party (which ultimately led to Haman’s downfall), she told Mordechai: “Go, assemble all the Jews who are present in Shushan and fast on my behalf, and neither eat nor drink for three days . . .”10 In memory of those three fasts, we give charity in threes.11
 Chabad.Org
 https://www.chabad.org/holidays/purim/article_cdo/aid/3942732/jewish/Why-Give-Half-Shekels-to-Charity-on-Taanit-Esther.htm

Or perhaps Eric studies ancient potteries and ostracon:
The Three shekel ostracon is a pottery fragment bearing a forged text supposedly dating from between the 7th and 9th century BCE.[1] It is 8.6 centimeters high and 10.9 centimeters wide and contains five lines of ancient Hebrew writing.[2] The inscription mentions a king named Ashyahu donating three shekels to the House of Yahweh. No king named Ashyahu is mentioned in the Bible, but some scholars believe it may refer to Jehoash, who ruled Judea 802–787 BCE.[3]

The ostracon was purchased by Shlomo Moussaieff from the Jerusalem antiquities dealer Oded Golan. Doubts about the authenticity of this and other artefacts sold by Golan began to be expressed in the late 1990s, and in 2003 Professor Christ Rollston, a leading authority on Northwest Semitic inscriptions, said he is "confident beyond a reasonable doubt" that the "three shekel ostracon" is a forgery.[4] The same negative conclusion was reached on the basis of scientific examination of the patina.[5]

Translation

According to your order,

Ashya- hu the king, to give by the hand of

[Z]ekaryahu silver of Tar- shish

for the house of Yahweh

3 shekels[6]
Wikipedia
Three Shekel Ostracon 



Three shekels must be some alt-right code:
12: A number often used as the numeric symbol for the Aryan Brotherhood, a white supremacist prison gang. The number one represents the first letter of the alphabet, "A", and the number two represents "B". 

and  1  +  2  = 3  !

And that is quite a feat by any unquantifiable metric.
--


Sunday, September 09, 2018

Follow The Funerals



When globe-trotting and zipping from country to country, one may tend to lose one's perspective and forget whether one is in a country that the SHOTUS  ( "S***-Head-of-the-United-States" ) favors or disfavors. I mean, were I to stumble into North Korea, say, would it be on a day that Kim Jong Un is considered "mad" or on a day Kim is considered "a genius"?
Hard to keep track.

Except in the Middle East.
The infallible proof for whether one is in a favored state or not is summed up in the pithy maxim "Follow the funerals", meaning the funerals for children, who have been starved by sanctions, succumbed to illnesses due to lack of medication or medical treatment, or - when all else fails - bombed into Paradise by the Saudis and their American supporters.
-
It makes me remember walking through Toronto's Hospital For Sick Children last year, an institution known locally as Sick Kids, as in (Hospital For) Sick Kids.
So I think there must be a Middle East Dead Kids institution somewhere; sort of a clearinghouse for the peripheral fatalities and the collateral damages of our diseased policies. I don't want to walk through it. The photos are enough.

Now the SHOTUS has decided to cut off  $25 million in medical aid to Palestine:




Washington's decision on Saturday to scrap its $25m financial assistance to a network of six hospitals in occupied East Jerusalem was sharply criticised by Palestinian leaders and health officials, who called it a "cruel" and "unjustified" act of "political blackmail".
 https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/09/cuts-25m-aid-jerusalem-hospitals-serving-palestinians-180908202336245.html


Maybe some of those Evangelical Christians who want Jerusalem in its entirety restored to Israel should go over and "faith heal" those Palestinian children. Maybe.

The good news is that the largest recipient of US foreign aid, to the tune of $6 billion plus, has its pipeline of support flowing unimpeded, thanks to SHOTUS and Kushner.

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Saturday, September 08, 2018

The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Show Runner



Kelly Macdonald and Irfan Khan; Puzzle


I am being ostracized by those with whom I go to films. It had been said that I hate films and there are no films that I like, which is a gross misrepresentation. However, there are a lot of bad films, and our little circle of "friends" often gets charmed into seeing a parcel of them based upon the positive reviews of on-line critics who seem to be easily impressed.

We saw Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansman and even though I may have felt great team spirit against the rampant racism of the present age, I found the movie pretty pedestrian and often boring.  I have not been totally on board for Spike Lee for quite a while. While I consider Do The Right Thing to be a masterpiece, I sort of fell off the Spike Lee Joint wagon at the time of Malcolm X, which I did not like, even though I liked Denzel Washington immensely.

We saw Puzzle which was quite nice. 
The male leads were David Denman - whom we remember as Roy from the TV series The Office - and Irfan Khan - whom I insist upon considering the new PM of Pakistan ( who is actually Imran Khan ) and who seems to have the country under control and uses his ample extra time for appearing in films.
I certainly wish that Benazir Bhutto had had this type of situation, God rest her soul.

We saw "The Wife" which was an abomination...
Glenn Close is in "The Wife" and I was trying to think of a film she has been in that I could compare this to, and discovered that there is no film I liked that scintillated due to the acting abilities of Glenn Close. Not a one. She has been in films I liked, but I think I have always found her uninteresting.
She-who-must-be-obeyed observed that she was distracted during close-up scenes during which Close's angular features were suddenly offset by the intrusion of her "hammy" hands! It's true. I could not say something like that without being stoned by the combined frowns of the villagers, but She can compare Glenn Close's extremities to a pair of large jambons and no one says boo about it!

Well, that is a director-problem or an editor-problem. I certainly cannot fault Ms. Close for having hands like those of Brendan Gleeson



 The only way out is to not say anything about the films. My friends, of course, see through this and immediately make the conclusion that I did not like the film and am being my usual negative self.
In my defense, I use the following scale to rate films:

Writing/Story makes up 60% of the rating, followed by Editing with 10%, Acting with 10%, Camera Work with 5%, Lighting with 5%, Foley with 2 1/2 %, Gaffer with 2 1/2%, Continuity Girl and Best Boy with 2 1/2% between them, and Directing with 2 1/2%.

(The story for The Wife was indescribably dopey. Look it up somewhere where they give a rip if you truly wish to find the story-line.)

I used to include Producers in the rating system, but ever since Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel had featured a bakery called Mendl's which had distinctive pink boxes and had had an ad campaign that had sent some of these Mendl's boxes to real-life bakeries around the country... 


... And I had seen one such advertising box in The Home Bakery in Rochester, Michigan... Which is where I buy my buttercream filled long john dougnuts once a month... And where I had declared that I was a friend of the producer of The Grand Budapest Hotel, the producer being none other than the great Harvey Weinstein  (it is not a lie if it is for doughnuts!)  and I must have one of those Mendl boxes for my long johns.

They were impressed even if they weren't quite sure who Harvey Weinstein was, but were very sorry they could not let he boxes go. Then with the endless passage of time, and Harvey Weinstein's creds having gone south, they began to give me funny looks when I came on my monthly jaunts. So I wear a disguise. And it sounds a lot like a Wes Anderson movie, and that makes it more than tolerable; it makes it great!

--

Friday, January 26, 2018

SHOTUS


שוטוס




The usual acronym for the US President is POTUS - President Of The United States.

Mr. Trump, however, has laid claim to a new acronym, which is SHOTUS, derived from his famous remarks about certain S***Hole countries. So SHOTUS it is. My friend, Parnesse, told me that it sounded almost Yiddish, so now it is

 שוטוס

which could be sort of hurriedly pronounced like "shodus", and takes its place next to schlemiel, schlimazel, schmuck, schmarta, schnorrer, etc.

--

ps
The above is my own Yiddish-Hebrew spelling, sort of a mosh-mish of the two. The "u" should be a short "u" but it is no gevaltige...
And I do not have the correct fonts, so I actually have to cut and paste thaings, and sometimes I just take what I can get. I think I would have spelled it differently, but no biggie.

Note the irony of SHOTUS "Draft Dodger" between two service people.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Apocalypto Again

Mel Gibson's Apocalypto


I wrote a number of posts on Apocalypto, but the most important is:
... I have come across some contrary opinions that are decidedly strange. In filmcritic.com we see by Sean O'Connell. http://www.filmcritic.com/misc/emporium.nsf/2a460f93626cd4678625624c007f2b46/2e132ed6c5ef09828825723c0075dd17?OpenDocument

The director precedes Apocalypto with a cryptic quote by philosopher Will Durant: "A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within." Since the quote has nothing, in context, to do with the film, I’ll assume it refers to Gibson himself.

The critic seems not to have the slightest sense that the film is a critique of violence.

... When he [Durant] says a civilization destroys itself from within, what does he mean? What are the details and specifics in this destruction?...

...Mr. Durant lived through World War I. I would guess his age to be around 28 to 35 at the outbreak of the war. World War I was total carnage. It profoundly shocked the generations alive at the time. We have become inured to carnage. We dismiss WWI because we believe our own time deserves the Palme d'Or for killing. The illustrious Arnold Toynbee made it very clear in his extensive historical work that one favorite method by which civilizations destroy themselves is violence. Constant wars which deplenish the commonweal; strife within the society between classes or groups therein; these are the true destroyers of civilization. Hence, the point of the quote is that civilizations will suicide from an overdose of violence.

Violence; whether it be wars or internal strife; riots or mass shootings.
Weapons and violence will be the death of us, so the film says.

--

Ricochet




In the previous post, I used the above photo I titled the Girl Gun Trio and had some of the lyrics of Ricochet. You may remember it from the I Love Lucy show where Marilyn and Rosalyn Borden - as Teensy and Weensy:



who sang Ricochet:

I knew the day I met you, you had a rovin' eye
I thought that I could hold you, what a fool I was to try
You promised you'd be faithful and you would never stray
Then like a rifle bullet, you began to ricochet

[CHORUS:]

And baby
I don't want a ricochet romance, I don't want a ricochet love
If you're careless with your kisses, find another turtle dove
I can't live on ricochet romance, no, no not me
If you're gonna ricochet, baby, I'm gonna set you free
 and the record had been released by Teresa Brewer:




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Sunday, November 19, 2017

USA: Definitely DSM



Shooting Scene at Sutherland Springs, Texas 


Is The USA approaching certifiable DSM? By which I mean do we need to read the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) to understand US society in many of its important manifestations?

I think so.











Consider the following:

NBC News  "Think"
Charles Clymer: I'm an Army veteran and gun owner. The 'good guy with a gun' theory is a myth.
I never see a "good guy with a gun:" I see a human more likely to exacerbate a tragedy than to stop it.
https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/i-m-army-veteran-gun-owner-good-guy-gun-theory-ncna821976
... The U.S. Army’s basic marksmanship training — just learning how to care for a rifle and shoot it — is three weeks long. That’s 18 full days (Sundays are usually semi-restful) spent getting comfortable with your rifle, learning how to dissemble and reassemble it, clean it, perform a functions check, correct malfunctions, load and unload it, conduct peer training with fellow privates, adjust its sights and, finally, how to actually aim and fire it.

During this period, your rifle goes everywhere you go. Because the Army does not trust new privates enough to sleep with their rifles, you are issued a replica for evenings — affectionately called a “rubber ducky.” And so long as it is in your possession, that replica must also go everywhere you go, even if it’s in the middle of the night to use the restroom. This builds respect for the devastation a soldier can inflict with their weapon. They learn to honor those skills.

The Army also does not trust recruits while at the firing range. Once shooting and instruction have concluded for the day, “brass and ammo” checks are conducted: Every soldier lines up, strips off all their extraneous gear, literally turns out their pockets so the lining is displayed, takes off their covers, and upon presented for an inspection, must announce: “No brass, no ammo, Drill Sergeant!” They are then thoroughly searched, and god help the private who has not accounted for a spare round or bit of brass somewhere on their person. This ritual continues throughout your military career, and it is required of everyone, no matter their rank...

... Yet, even in these controlled environments, with officers and sergeants who have ostensibly seen everything and typically exercise competent command of training operations, stupid mistakes still happen and people die. Even after all of this training, soldiers are still human beings who make mistakes.

When I see a young man openly carrying a firearm in public, whether to prove a political point or because he honestly believes at he could be called upon to stop an active shooter, I can only think of how much could go wrong. I do not see a “good guy with a gun”: I see a naive human who is more likely to exacerbate a tragedy than stop it. Is this person a civilian who has forgot to clear their weapon? Are they disciplined enough to avoid accidents? And if a mass shooting does occur, how do I know they will have the skills to take out the bad guy rather than, say, an innocent bystander?

Yet laws have been passed and will be passed at the local, State, and Federal level which are based more upon the myth of the "Good Guy with a Gun" than any reasonable analysis of the place of weapons in a society.

Did we really expect that the country could be flooded with weapons and there would be no mass shootings? Did we really expect that we could pass ambiguous laws about "standing your ground" and not have people shot and killed when there should have been strategic retreat?
Did we ever stop and calculate the number of acceptable deaths by accident?
Did we ever ask how many old men might shot their wives in church? Or how many two year olds would kill their mothers in Walmart?

No. We never did. We never did because we would have thought it crazy that an old geezer discussing guns in church would shoot his wife; we would have thought it ridiculous to imagine a two-year old shooting his mother in the store...

 The Girl Gun Trio, Eenie, Weenie, and Teenie
Remember:"I don't want no ricochet romance, I don't want no ricochet love..."

God punishes us with what we can't imagine......  (quote by Wireman, Duma Key)

Is this a rational way to act? In any sense of the term "rational" or "reasonable", does the way we act make any sense in a world of facts? Is it not more akin to dreams and nightmares?

Just stop and ask what happens when a society values myth and dream over hard facts. Ask what happens when facts are secondary to ideology. 

Definitely DSM

--

ps.

"Intellectualization" does not imply "reason" nor "rationality". Myths are intellectualizations and narratives. We may intellectualize something, but that does not imply we have rendered it "rational" by any means.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Gutenberg's Dilemma and Conservative Choice




I have been musing over what I call Gutenberg's Dilemma:  how changes in the medium of communication lead to conflict.
And I do mean "conflict". I almost wrote something a bit more innocuous, like "differences of opinion", but I do mean "conflict. People always have differences of opinion. What is most interesting is when these differences lead to conflict. The times when the differences of opinion are still simmering under the thin lamina of social tolerance with rare bubbles of ebullition coming to the surface are those halcyon times we think about the need for a "conversation" of topics relating to those "differences" of opinion.

But the times of conflict get us focused, although sometimes in a goofy way.
I have in mind Thomas Müntzer and the Peasant's War just a few years after Gutenberg, and Andrew Anglin, modern day publisher of The Stormer, which seeks to re-incarnate Julius Streicher's Der Stürmer.

I read two articles this morning:

The Atlantic

The Making of an American Nazi
How did Andrew Anglin go from being an antiracist vegan to the alt-right’s most vicious troll and propagandist—and how might he be stopped?
https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/12/the-making-of-an-american-nazi/544119/

and

The Forward
Raising Kids Orthodox And ‘Woke’ In Face Of Pressure To Back Trump
Blima Marcus   November 13, 2017
http://forward.com/life/faith/387540/raising-kids-orthodox-and-woke-in-face-of-pressure-to-back-trump/


A good deal of discussion about the New Nazism has to do with First Amendments issues. By making the "conversation" one about constitutional law, we render it (1) boring and tedious, and (2) fairly sure of being ineffective, or (3) being counter-productive; i.e., perhaps we issue a law forbidding "free speech" or some such other nonsense.
(We are quite capable of it. I think Florida's politicians are itching to do something like it!)

I deal with the human moral dimension as having two components, good and evil.

Since these duals form the moral dimension, it is not reasonable that we would expect "evil" to disappear or go away, sort of like on a Devil's Holiday.
As some very spiritual and brainy types have said, we shall always have evil with us.


Not for one moment do I believe Mr. Trump holds any of the racist and Nazi beliefs. However, there is no denying that the complex events leading up to and eventuating in his election allowed the New Nazis breathing space.
This freedom allowed them to jump from the TAZ of the Internet into everyday reality of Act and Fact.

It was Gutenberg's Dilemma of the communication ability of the Internet that gave the Nazis a place to grow and find each other in the dark. The Internet allowed the virus of hate to spread widely, much more so than TV, radio, or newspapers could have in the old days.

Then because of a seeming correlation between conservatives and right-wingers and extreme right-wingers - renamed "alt-right" (which I assume follows the usages of previous neologisms like "alt-net" -  the pot of Nazism boiled over, and what previously had been experienced as the "rare bubbles of ebullition" became Charlottesville.

At no time should this be allowed. The increase in communications' efficiency grew vast groups and the effect of this socialization of like-minded radicals led to the mutation from dwelling on Thought-Memes to engaging in Action.
(Perhaps there is a "critical mass" of group size at which things burst forth?)
In essence, the Nazis were freed from their blood-ivory tower.

Again, evil will not be expunged totally. But the Acts of evil can be held back by law and social order.
What we see now is small events that are dress rehearsals for new Kristallnächte.
Speech cannot be constrained, but actions must be.
The moral education of our society must not ignore nor deceive the needs of what is required for a good and moral life.

We "intellectualize" our fears away. We intellectualize evil and make it worthwhile or merely innocuous.
As a case in point, we turn the recrudescence of Nazism into a constitutional debate about First Amendment rights. That is fine, but the matter does not lay in the purview of the lawyers alone, for it is critical to us all.
Mr. Trump "intellectualized" Charlottesville, and that was a mistake. He used the tired old professory-type speech of "two sides to every issue" or the Arthur Murray approach that "it takes two to tango", but his error was being reasonable about the unreasonably evil.
But now we are all intellectualizing New Nazism, and wonder at a conversation between them and Antifa.

A great deal of pro-weapon legislation is not some sort of H. L. Mencken-described anti-intellectualism and boobism; it is an intellectualization of the place of violence in society. How else can you explain the nonsense that if everyone had a gun, we would be much safer?
That canard starved until fed by Las Vegas [sorry: Texas  , not Las Vegas, was where a bystander with gun shot the terrorist] when finally a by-stander did shot a shooter effectively.
It is an cloud-cuckoo-land type of nonsense argument that I do not agree with, but it is fiendishly intellectualized, and supported by reasonable men with logical arguments and even game theory descriptions on bumper stickers that gun ownership is a zero-sum game for outlaws !!!!
 
The most egregious example of Intellectualization As A Means To Dispel Fear And Evil in the recent times - certainly the Southern Baptist Church's "intellectualization" of the rights of slave owners was quite in-your-face in the 19th century - is the financial crisis of 2008.

Risk gives rise to fear, we all of us perceive to greater or lesser degree. The "intellectualization" and "mathematicization" of Risk and its enthronement in Economics at the time lead to an incredibly false sense of confidence that Risk (Fear) had been reasonably and logically contained within the structures and strictures of the Financial Community.

But then it fell apart. Believe me, there was a lot of Fear,wasn't there.

Evil does not go away. It may be hidden. Each and every one of us has the potential for evil. That is why good training and education is so important.
 
--
ps.
note on leading photo
It seems to have a different first name for Mr. Anglin.
But I was impressed by its ambiguity. I mean, when I first saw it, I thought the guy in black was soliciting contributions for Mr. Anglin; I thought he was alerting any passing Nazis that Mr. Anglin gladly would accept their hopefully-soon-to-be-tainted-money !

I guess it served a different function.


pps
Greg Anglin is Andrew's father. There some palaver in the story about it, but I'm tired of the whole thing.


Sunday, November 12, 2017

War And Rumors Of War




Ex-Prime Minister Hariri is still missing. No one in Washington seems to care.

The Spectator
Saudi Arabia has united with Israel against Iran – and a desert storm is brewing
Mass arrests are the Crown Prince’s opening salvo in a fight against corruption and an embrace of moderate Islam
John R. Bradley
https://www.spectator.co.uk/2017/11/saudi-arabia-has-united-with-israel-against-iran-and-a-desert-storm-is-brewing/
... So two months after his 32nd birthday, the Crown Prince has established himself as a despot, albeit one hailed by the West as an enlightened visionary. He has tightened a military alliance with Israel, all but declared war on Iran and prepared Lebanon as the first scene of this war — with Hezbollah as the first target.

It is very easy to fall off the wagon of moderation. The Crown Prince has temporarily embraced what the West wants. How serious is the Saudi Crown Prince ????

Well...... he let the women of the kingdom drive !!!!!!!!!

He's our kind of dude.



The Trump administration will destroy the agreement with Iran. War will be around the corner.

It does not always work out the way you want, particularly when you have idiots doing the planning with allies that play them for dupes.

--




Saturday, November 11, 2017

Test For The Tillerman


 Secretary of State Tillerson





According to Reuters 9 hours ago, Mr. Hariri, Prime Minister of Lebanon who resigned his position on TV in the Saudi capital of Riyadh has not surfaced.

Haven't heard a word from our government foreign policy types: Tillerson, Trump, etc.

Not even a Tweet praising the Saudis.

He has just... disappeared.

From the BBC:
Iran and its Lebanese ally, the militant Shia group Hezbollah, claim the Saudis detained Mr Hariri and forced his resignation.
Mr Tillerson said he had received assurances that Mr Hariri was free.
Mr Hariri resigned a week ago while in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.
"There is no legitimate place or role in Lebanon for any foreign forces, militias or armed elements other than the legitimate security forces of the Lebanese state," Mr Tillerson said in a statement.
"The United States strongly supports the sovereignty and independence of the Republic of Lebanon and of its political institutions," he added.
Sort of vague.

--

Life Imitates Art: Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin

At least it is beginning to imitate cartoon art:


Politico
Trump: ‘People will die’ as a result of focus on Russia allegations
'Every time he sees me he says, "I didn't do that," and I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it,' Trump says after meeting Putin at Vietnam summit.
By ANDREW RESTUCCIA 11/11/2017 08:07 AM EST
https://www.politico.com/story/2017/11/11/trump-russia-putin-people-will-die-244801?lo=ap_a1
DANANG, Vietnam — President Donald Trump on Saturday called into question the American intelligence community’s assessment that Russia sought to influence last year’s presidential election, while raising concerns that the intense focus on the issue could sour U.S. relations with Vladimir Putin.

Pressed by reporters, Trump didn't directly say whether he personally believed Putin was involved in the alleged election meddling. But he suggested he takes the Russian president at his word when he denies directing the influence campaign.

"Every time he sees me he says, 'I didn't do that,' and I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it,” Trump said, speaking. to reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Hanoi, Vietnam. ”But he says, 'I didn't do that.' I think he is very insulted by it, which is not a good thing for our country.” ...

This is a bit much. I mean, Putin is literally pulling gags and capers on the POTUS and he gets away with it! There may not have been Russian interference in the election, but it is obviously clear that Mr. Putin is making fun of Mr. Trump by apparently repeating, time after time, the famous phrase that made Bart Simpson a viral celebrity for one episode of The Simpsons.
("Bart Gets Famous" - twelfth episode of Season 5.)

I have it from a very good source that the translation is tweaked to render it "I didn't do that." instead of "I didn't do it." so most of us back here won't catch on while the rest of the Simpsons besotted world laughs at us.

Bart Simpson on the Late Night Circuit Discussing Mr. Trump's Asian Trip
--

Friday, November 10, 2017

Capitalism No Get Enemy

Area Boys


While watching Anthony Bourdain's show on Lagos, Nigeria, I noticed three interesting things:
(1) there is a great deal of commercial activity in Lagos,
(2) there are gangs called "Area Boys".
(3) there is a lot of good food,

The commercial activity, frenetic in that large city, was characterized as being some sort of primeval capitalism, free and unfettered by government and regulations.

Yet there was extensive poverty, even so.

Wikipedia describes Area Boys:
Area boys (also known as Agberos) are loosely organized gangs of street children and teenagers, composed mostly of males, who roam the streets of Lagos, Lagos State in Nigeria. They extort money from passers-by, sell illegal drugs, act as informal security guards, and perform other "odd jobs" in return for compensation.
 In Online Nigeria:
 http://nm.onlinenigeria.com/templates/?a=173&z=17
... a commercial bus driver otherwise known as Danfo, who gave his names as Abiodun Lekan, said that the regular practice is for the army officers on duty to order the bus to stop, while the Alaye, or Area Boy, collects the N20 token from the bus conductor.
"Oga, you must pay the levy, otherwise, you close work for the day, - they will say. If you are unlucky your side mirror may be impounded or your windscreen shattered for refusing to pay the said illegal N20 levy," he said.


I am not sure there was intent in the juxtaposition of anarchic capitalism and anarchic local para-governmental gangs which control certain sectors of public life.
However, it was obvious that a frenzy of freedom is sometimes indistinguishable from anarchy. And this wild capitalism does not seem to necessarily lead to the accumulation of social wealth, although it does for given individuals.

We have gotten in a slothful habit of capitalism=freedom, and freedom=good, therefore not-capitalism=not-freedom=not-good, which is a pretty much simplistic rendition of a complex conceptual schema which we have trivialized anyway.

And there was some focus of Fela Kuti, which was quite nice and did not seem to have any odd notions about freedom; it was just "freedom".



--

ps.
I would think that the control exerted by gangs is actually a type of government and not anarchy at all.
The lack of governmental control creates a void that gangs fill; a void of control, of regulation, if you will.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

The Lebanese Candidate

Hariri Suddenly Resigns On Saudi TV



Prime Minister Hariri has been been seen since he resigned his office in a televised speech while he was in Saudi Arabia!

Independent
Saad Hariri’s resignation as Prime Minister of Lebanon is not all it seems

He certainly did not anticipate what happened to him. Indeed, Hariri had scheduled meetings in Beirut on the following Monday – with the IMF, the World Bank and a series of discussions on water quality improvement; not exactly the action of a man who planned to resign his premiership



http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/lebanon-prime-minister-saad-hariri-resignation-not-all-seems-quits-resigns-surprise-saudi-arabia-a8045636.html

...But more extraordinary matters were to come. Out of th.e blue and to the total shock of Lebanese ministers, Hariri, reading from a written text, announced on Saturday on the Arabia television channel – readers can guess which Gulf kingdom owns it – that he was resigning as prime minister of Lebanon. There were threats against his life, he said – though this was news to the security services in Beirut – and Hezbollah should be disarmed and wherever Iran interfered in the Middle East, there was chaos.

Quite apart from the fact that Hezbollah cannot be disarmed without another civil war – is the Lebanese army supposed to attack them when Shia are the largest minority in the country (many of them in the army)? These were not words that Hariri had ever used before. They were not, in other words, written by him. As one who knows him well said this week, “this was not him speaking”. In other words, the Saudis had ordered the prime minister of Lebanon to resign and to read his own departure out loud from Riyadh.

Just like show trials in the 1930s in Russia and in Germany. Saudi Arabia just created 30 more judges to handle some sort of increase in trial activity.

Hariri's speech was a brain-washed display, just like we have seen in ISIS videos and other hostage videos and Moscow show trial films from the past. Remember The Manchurian Candidate? If and when Hariri returns, he will be a Saudi stooge ( maybe).



I feel comfort knowing Trump and Tillerson are right on this.
--

Another Lebanese Prime Minister Disappears

Hariri and Salman on November 6



Al Jazeera
Saudi, UAE, Kuwait urge citizens to leave Lebanon
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/11/saudi-arabia-issues-travel-alert-lebanon-171109143454070.html
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait have advised their citizens not to travel to Lebanon and urged those who are in the country to leave as soon as possible.

[...]

Lebanon has been on edge after the sudden resignation of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, who announced his departure while on a visit to Saudi Arabia on Saturday.

His whereabouts have since been unknown. However, officials told Al Jazeera on Thursday that Hariri may be under house arrest or temporarily detained in the Saudi capital of Riyadh.

Lebanon's Future Movement party, which is headed by Hariri, demanded on Thursday that the prime minister returns from the kingdom immediately in its sharpest statement yet over his leave of absence.

"The return of the Lebanese prime minister, the national leader, Saad al-Hariri, and the head of the Future Movement, is necessary to restore the dignity and respect to Lebanon at home and abroad," said a former prime minister, Fouad Siniora, in a statement read on

Al Jazeera's correspondent in Lebanon said that the country's President, Michel Aoun, would soon call for assistance from the international community, the Arab League, the United States, the United Kingdom, China and Russia - to help uncover the reason behind Hariri's unexpected resignation...

 I believe Mr. Trump has already told his Saudi lords that he would hurry up the first $100 billion of weapons. Maybe he should hurry up the rest; after all, there are some Yemeni children still alive.

Today it was reported that Saudi Arabia appointed 30 new judges.

Must be a whole bunch of show trials coming up.

Prince Ibn Fahd, the second Saudi prince reported killed, has been said to be alive and well according to Saudi officials. They could not get him to appear on camera, however.


--


Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Another Saudi Prince Is Killed


 Prince Muqrin, killed Monday in a Helicopter Crash Under Mysterious Circumstances



Referring to the post from the other day
http://fatherdaughtertalk.blogspot.com/2017/11/transformation-in-kingdom.html

we said that Prince Salman is probably a murderous rogue securing his hold upon the reins of power in Arabia.

Since the weekend, two princes of the royal family, one - Prince Muqrin - being the son of the previous crown prince who was pushed aside in 2015, have been killed under circumstances that have not been reported on nor detailed bu the authorities.
The other was said to have been under house arrest in the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton when he died.

Oh, and the official line is that this was a "campaign against corruption". Our President said lots and lots o' princes who had been arrested had been "milking" that country for years. So far, the presidential tweet has not sounded about whether those killed were milking kine or kin.

--

Huc Undique Gaza




Al Monitor

'Gaza Tourist' journeys through heritage and lives
Tamam Mohsen November 7, 2017 
https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/11/gazan-youth-highlights-heritage-on-verge-of-destruction.html
A backpack, camera, tent, bicycle and social media platforms are all the equipment Abd al-Rahim al-Zraiee needs to reveal hidden gems in Gaza that even local residents might not know. The young Palestinian is known on social media as the Gaza Tourist. Through his travels — which are posted to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter — Zraiee documents the territory’s history and seeks out its beauty.

Zraaie set out on his first tour about a year ago, exploring his own hometown, Deir al-Balah, a historical city in central Gaza. “What motivated me to start this initiative is my wanderlust and passion for discovering new places, meeting new people and understanding different cultures, traditions and rituals,” Zraaie told Al-Monitor. “I started traveling around Gaza and documenting my tours through photos and short comments. I focused on dusting off our archaeological sites and presenting Gaza’s beauty, which still remains despite the wars and crises it has experienced.”...


We have indeed forgotten the original meaning of "Gaza", haven't we?

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Kim Jong-un: Stockings Fouled, Ungartered, and Down-Gyvèd To His Ankle !!




I was talking to someone about  Tha Thrilla North-west of Manila the other day. That is the confrontation between Trump representing the USA in the red-white-and-blue trunks and Kim representing North Korea in the faded camo undershorts.

They said that we all know that Kim was a mad man.

I said that I did not know that. I mean, I used to, but not anymore. I said that the reason was that for my entire life, the government and the media have referred to the Kim family as mad men: Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il, and Kim Jung-un.
("They're mad, you know! Want to take over the world!" as if we were talking about a long-lived dynasty of Pinky and the Brains.)

I said that sometime around the winter of 2006 my faith in the schizophrenia in the blood of the Kims disappeared. I became a Kim-family-madmen-atheist. People looked at me funny.
I mean, when they would talk about Korea at the bar, getting together for the infrequent 30 minute North Korea Hate, they would shun me.

Ever since the end of World War II we have called the leaders of North Korea names, like crazy, nuts, mad man, boner head, etc. And they always were a little pudgy, they often wore glasses, and they dressed funny... hmmmm, I wonder....

I said that as readily as I usually accept everything the government tells me to believe, 70 years of crazy genes without any remediation, mutation, or amelioration was just too much, even for the dimmest bulb in the pack.
I mean, look at the history: oppressed by Japan since the 1920s, WW II and the rounding up of women by the Japanese Army to be prostitutes for the Japanese soldiers, the Korean War and bombing of the North as thoroughly as the bombings of Dresden or Tokyo...

Exactly which violent act drove the Kims into madness !!!!!!!!!!!!!


--

Transformation In The Kingdom




There was a Night of the Long Knives over the weekend in Saudi Arabia, and many people are being detained.

... Donald Trump has thrown his weight behind an anti-corruption crackdown in Saudi Arabia, claiming that its targets have been “milking” the kingdom for years.

Dozens of high profile princes, military leaders and ministers were arrested in the weekend purge soon after the creation of anti-graft commission headed by crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“I have great confidence in King Salman and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, they know exactly what they are doing,” the US president, who is travelling in Asia, posted on Twitter. “Some of those they are harshly treating have been ‘milking’ their country for years!”

The Guardian
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/nov/06/donald-trump-saudi-arabia-corruption-crackdown-tweet



Then in Slate:
...Through what prism should we be looking at the latest developments in Saudi Arabia?

David Ottaway: Well, it looks like [MBS] [Prince Salman] is consolidating his power and making sure that there will be no obstacles to him becoming king when his father either dies or abdicates. His father is King Salman, and he’s 81 years old and not in very good health. So I see it as, first, a consolidation of power, but also a trend towards a new style of governance in Saudi Arabia where power is going to be concentrated in one person, whereas previously power was shared among a number of senior princes.

Is there an ideological angle to that new style?

I don’t think so. I don’t see any ideology, nor do I think that this is basically an effort to combat corruption inside the Saudi government. It’s been done under the name of this new anti-corruption committee or counsel, but I don’t think that’s what they’re getting at here...

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/interrogation/2017/11/what_s_behind_the_weekend_crackdown_in_saudi_arabia.html

This sounds suspiciously like the usual pablum we here in the USA receive: corruption.... bad!  We USA-ites don't have corruption on any level, so we just can't stand for it. Illegally detaining members of the royal family and ruling elite? Good... since they must have been corrupt, else they would not have been detained... and so on.

However, yesterday we read:

Saudi Arabia threatens Iran after Yemen missile strike
November 6, 2017

Saudi Arabia has ramped up threats to Iran, saying there will be a response “in the appropriate time and manner,” following a missile strike from neighboring Yemen, which has been under a nonstop bombardment campaign by a Saudi-led coalition for over two and a half years.

The coalition, which includes a number of Saudi Arabia’s vassal states under its command, said in a statement on Sunday that Iran was to blame for a Yemeni missile strike on Riyadh earlier in the day, presstv.com reported.

That missile was fired by the Houthi Ansarullah movement, which together with allied Yemeni army factions and tribal fighters has been fighting off the Saudi-led coalition. Riyadh and its allies accuse the Houthis of receiving financial and arms support from Iran. The Islamic Republic rejects the accusations, but is supportive of the Yemeni defensive campaign against the Saudi invasion.

The Saudi-led coalition went further in its Sunday statement, claiming that the Houthis were under Iran’s ‘direct command.’

“Therefore, the coalition’s command considers this a blatant act of military aggression by the Iranian regime, and could rise to be considered as an act of war against the kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” it said, referring to the Yemeni missile strike. “The coalition command also affirms that the kingdom reserves its right to respond to Iran in the appropriate time and manner.”

Saudi Arabia has been pursuing an open warmongering policy toward Iran. Earlier this year, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman threatened to move the ‘battle’ to Iran.
[emphasis mine, for I want you to be aware of just what this guy Salman is; i.e., a thoroughly bad actor.]

Obviously, such bellicose rhetoric has not remained unanswered. Iranian authorities have all along made sure that Saudi royals realize that aggression of any magnitude will be reciprocated.

The Saudi-led coalition invaded Yemen in March 2015 to reinstall a former regime that had been friendly to Saudi Arabia. It also imposed a land, aerial, and naval blockade on the already-impoverished country...

... This is while the US, under Trump, has agreed to sell Saudi Arabia 350 billion dollars in arms over a period of 10 years. A 110-billion-dollar tranche was scheduled for quicker delivery.

Iranian officials are yet to comment on the latest Saudi threat.

Shafaqna
http://en.shafaqna.com/nahjolbalaghah-imam-ali-instructions-family-little-martyrdom/

That's one answer: billions for weapons, but not one cent for children afflicted with cholera.
Another answer is to blame Iran.

In reality, many members of the extended royal family of Saudi Arabia were no longer on board with the 2 1/2 year failed war against fellow Muslims, a war which is making the Saudi resemble ISIS...

Welcome to the dinner table of Constant Warfare,Prince Salman! You are learning to attack fellow Muslims and arrest those of your family who do not agree with you. And you are entering into the full global Weaponized Society. The Prince is learning compulsion and force and violence. He is learning to ignore the words of 'Ali:
Until yesterday I was your Amir, today I am only an object from whom you can take lesson and warnings, and tomorrow I shall part company with you. If I survive this fatal wound I shall be at liberty to decide how to treat the man who attempted to kill me. If I die then my worldly life comes to an end. If I forgive my assassin then it will be to gain the Blessings of Allah for forgiving a person who has harmed you, and it will be a good deed if you also forgive him.
From now on, under the new "Westernized Weapons" Prince, Saudi Arabia will be transformed.

--

ps.
I mean, really, the praise of Trump should be an immediate red flag that something stinks about this whole affair.

pps.
How do I know of the disaffection of members of the royal family? Puh-lease! Our government already knows and probably some of the media. However, it does not fit in with our Story line.

Monday, November 06, 2017

Absolutely Aztec !

Mictelantecuhtli, Aztec God of Death


First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, USA
Another good day for sacrifices, America. All told, 28 dead and counting. Lots of children, some babies, men, women; a good mix, a good medley of hearts of sacrifice.

The powers of the world and underworld appreciate your faith. Believe in death, as you always have.
Begin your fruitless and inane search for motives, for excuses, for explanations; begin your palaver about the overdue "conversation" about gun violence.



You never could control your violent impulses before. You won't now.
Hate and fear are windows of perception, sensory tools for seeing the evil in the world, just as charity and love are sensory tools for seeing the goodness in the world. But you have let them rule your lives. You have become obsessive compulsives. You cannot touch the world without rifle oil on your fingers!
You have let Fear and Hate become your gods... and having said that, it's totally OK by me.

--

God Punishes Us With What We Can't Imagine...

"It's alive! Alive!" Mary Shelley Dreams


Sometimes it takes a while for things to sink in. For example, during the Cold War Era there was a policy of MAD - Mutually Assured Destruction - that kept things in check. No one would start a war - no rational person, that is - if there was assurance that they themselves would be destroyed.

It was a rational approach.

In fact, it was an island of reason within the great blue sea of insanity.

Same thing with guns.

It used to said, and probably still is by the dim, that, "Guns don't kill people. People kill people."
And the dim bulb would say this and leave us all amazed at the irony of it all.

However, I hold that Guns actually do kill people.
During the past 20 years as gun ownership grew exponentially, I thought that such a vast "population" of weapons would lead to an age where the statistics of deadly shootings began to also exponentially increase.

Ecce arma!  Behold the weapons!

With nuclear weapons, there was an incredible amount of training that armies and navies had to go through to make things safe, to prevent accidents.
With guns? There is no incredible amount of training. There is barely any training. I mean, a couple of years ago a baby shot its mother dead in a Walmart, using a gun in the mother's purse.

Did this baby shoot? No, the gun did. The baby could not have the intention. The gun did.
Oh, it was an accident...... !!??
Really. An accident.
It was an accident that there was a fully loaded hand gun in a mother's purse, and that purse was lying on top of a Walmart shopping cart, and the baby grabbed it. An accident.
The gun did not have intention, but it was an integral part of an intentional landscape...

The gun was a necessary adjunct and part of the landscape. The gun was imbued with the faith of being-safe and being-secure. The gun, that was part of the promise to secure that young mother and to secure that young baby, turned on them in a tragic way.

That was the irony: the things of incredible violence into which we place our faith and our lives turn against us for no good reason that we can understand. We are left dumb and struck and we cannot explain the turn of events.

It reminds me of a fable. Perhaps "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" wherein a inanimate, unliving object is given life! The Frankenstein fable, is it not? "It's alive! Alive!" yelled Colin Clive as Victor Frankenstein yelled in James Whale's movie.


That which we considered dead is suddenly alive.
We are finding out that Guns are a Power in the World and at a high enough concentration, Guns - like the mythical Skynet of the film Terminator - begin to act as if they were already independent of mankind. At a critical concentration, independent and baneful artificial intelligence precipitates out of the idolatrous mix of dreams and fears of those who trust in violence.

Guns only need our fingers on the trigger. Everything else they can handle.

--

ps. The title is a quote from Stephen King's Duma Key.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Life As Larry David





Last night we had gone to see The Florida Project and went to a diner afterwards.
I thought it was to be an escape. I actually had seen a movie in which I liked Willem Dafoe, but the film's main child actor had sort of overwhelmed that good feeling and made me miserable with her astounding ability to enchant the director, editor, writer, producer.
I liked the film overall. Sean Baker was the director, editor, writer, producer, and I think he was also Best Boy... possibly the Second Gaffer. I think he should have had some other independent intelligent entity do the editing, because there was a bit too much, even at merely 1 hour, 51 minutes.

Lots of kid shots: running, jumping, spitting, starting fires in abandoned houses (!?). Their high jinks span the moral spectrum. That is what the movie is about, however; sort of Love In The Time Of Cholera... and the time of cholera is us, now.
I could not help thinking of To Kill A Mockingbird, another film centered around children's lives. Some things have changed for the better and some for the worse. 

(I recently read an article questioning why we still have children read Mockingbird in school. One point of discussion was that there were no strong black women in it. Calpurnia, Atticus Finch's housekeeper, was some glorified maid... and not so "glorified, come to think of it.
Clearly the author of that article does not remember the scene in which Walter Cunningham joins Jem and Scout for breakfast and then pours lots of syrup all over his food. When Scout starts to criticize this, Calpurnia quickly restores the moral order of hospitality. She maintains order all summer day long when school is out and the children feast in summer vacation's freedom and anarchy.
The gun of politically-correct correction should be aimed properly, lest one shot oneself in one's foot.)

We had gone to the movie with another couple. The guy bought a coffee before he went into the theater. Not popcorn; a coffee.
Then like 20 minutes into the movie, he had to go get another coffee.

Afterwards we went to a bistro that was packed for some reason on a Monday night. Lots of older people, too. We discovered it was Half-Price Burger Day. The burgers were of a quality that is mostly described as "half-price", and I had the worst martini I ever tasted.
Nobody wanted dessert or coffee when the remnants of that cuisine of the living dead was cleared from the table. Nobody except me, that is. I usually only eat one  large meal a day, so I am hungry at the dinner time and I can take the extra calories.
But nobody else wanted dessert and coffee.



So I decided to pull a Larry David, just as if I inhabited the fantasy Los Angeles of Curb Your Enthusiasm, and accused my friend of not wanting to spend time sitting there while I ate my customary dessert and had my usual coffee, and that is why he had bought that "Pre-Emptive Coffee" at the theater! He tried to forestall and negate my after-dinner coffee!

Talking about it later, he did not seem to share the fantasy and said that he had valid philanthropic reasons for no dessert, no coffee, all of which trumped my selfish needs. He added that coffee after 8:00 PM was problematic.

Again, what would Larry David do?
So I said, "What !? No coffee after 8:00 PM !? I didn't know there was a 'Coffee Cut-Off' ! "

--

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Gen. Kelly Misremembers

Gen. Kelly After Charlottesville


https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/trump-chief-staff-john-kelly-defends-confederate-monuments-n815886



White House Chief of Staff John Kelly waded into the long-simmering dispute over the removal of memorials to Confederate leaders saying in a televised interview on Monday night that "the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War."

In the interview on Fox News' "The Ingraham Angle," host Laura Ingraham asked Kelly about the decision by Christ Church, an Episcopal congregation in the Washington suburb of Alexandria, Virginia, to remove plaques honoring President George Washington and Robert E. Lee, the commander of Confederate forces during the Civil War...

[...]

The following is the full transcript of Kelly's remarks on the removal of Confederate statues:

Well, history's history. And there are certain things in history that were not so good and other things that were very, very good.

I think we make a mistake, though, and as a society, and certainly as individuals, when we take what is today accepted as right and wrong and go back 100, 200, 300 years or more and say, 'What Christopher Columbus did was wrong.'

You know, 500 years later, it's inconceivable to me that you would take what we think now and apply it back then. I think it's just very, very dangerous. I think it shows you just how much of a lack of appreciation of history and what history is.

I would tell you that Robert E. Lee was an honorable man. He was a man that gave up his country to fight for his state, which 150 years ago was more important than country. It was always loyalty to state first back in those days. Now it's different today. 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.

Perhaps it was the fact that Henry Clay, the Great Compromiser, was no longer alive that caused this situation.
However, there was a long history of conflict and compromise. Finally, large portions of both sides of the slavery question grew tired of compromise and decided to take a stand.

It was the inability of the long period of compromise to attain a long-term solution that led to the Civil War. I mean, wasn't Bleeding Kansas born from compromise? By then, compromise that worked in the time of Henry Clay was no longer working. Another answer had to be found, and given the heat of the passions, it was obvious which way the wind was blowing.

The Election of 1860 - which, by the way, has plenty of "False News" : alarming reports of slave rebellions instigated by Northern spies (untrue as it turned out) and the foulest motives ascribed to all the principal figures in the election - was the line in the sand. The South said if a "Black" Republican were elected, then they would consider secession or outright secede. Abraham Lincoln was elected and South Carolina seceded the next month.


Compromise is not a cure-all.
It is an intermediate step to a long-term solution. The Civil War was supposed to be that long-term solution, and it was, at least as regards the Union, for no State would presume to secede nowadays.


Robert E. Lee was in the U.S.Army at the time and when Virginia finally did secede, had to break his oath of allegiance, because he felt he must support his State. His situation was a perfect description of a coherence set of beliefs which contained a contradiction, and it was only when Union was opposed to State that the contradiction became deadly.

My brother and I grew up and shared a bedroom with 2 portraits:  U. S. Grant and Robert E. Lee.
I do not think I would remove either, even now.
It is complex.
It becomes more complex the more you immerse yourself into the history of the USA from the beginnings up to the Civil War.

--

ps.
create two lists:  trash / not to trash
and list the leaders you would put under each.

I know exactly where I would put Washington and Jefferson, and exactly where I would place Nathaniel Bedford Forrest and  Edmund Ruffin.



Monday, October 30, 2017

Tax Reform: The Deficit Dust Storm Cometh




I am intrigued that Republican politicians are so very gung-ho on tax cuts stimulating the economy. They have the laboratory of Kansas under Republican Governor Brownback to look at and see the disaster his tax cuts have created.
Still, even with experimental data.... ideology precedes verification.

Whether a belief is true or not is irrelevant to its acceptance by a group. What matters is whether the belief is adequately "coherent" with the other previous beliefs the group holds.
It does not matter whether the beliefs are consistent. It does not even matter if they are contradictory. The group merely has to be able to live with the beliefs; the group merely finds them coherent, even though a belief B may be believed true under one set of circumstance - say "in time of war" - and that same belief B may be believed to be false under other circumstances - say "in time of peace".

Republicans believe that tax cuts are the remedy, even if they impoverished Kansas.

One of the excuses Sam Brownback used to explain his colossal failure was that in the early years of his plan some economic bad news beyond Kansas caused problems for the economy of Kansas.

Let's think about that.

Bad luck can always happen. Any good program ought to make provision for the rainy day, regardless of the starry-eyed faith of the ideologues.

When the USA cuts taxes, if there is a recession of modest proportions, there may be a pile of hurt. While we hurt, the tax cutters will maintain faith for a year or more, praying for rain like a Dust Bowl farmer.
Maybe rain; maybe not.



ps.
And for repatriation of corporate profits:
Adam Looney of the Brookings Institution took up the subject Wednesday, arguing that the repatriation of profits won’t help the U.S. economy because the money has already come back: “Given how we talk about these earnings, you could be forgiven for thinking U.S. companies have stashed their cash inside a mattress in France. They haven’t. Most of it is already invested right here in the U.S.”
http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/2017/10/27/Who-Would-Benefit-Repatriating-3-Trillion-Foreign-Profits
--

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Memorial Day - Director's Cut




My best friend from college passed away on Memorial Day evening. I had been to Toronto the week before to visit him in Hospital. It rained most of the time. It was he who first introduced me to serious cinema.
It was not Memorial Day in Canada, but it was here and in southeastern Michigan it had rained. At approximately 7:15 pm there was not just a brilliant rainbow, but two clear, distinct, and brilliant rainbows in the dark quarter of the sky where the clouds were gathered.
I have seen two rainbows before, but never two full rainbows and never two sharp, clear arches stretching from horizon to horizon.

 (I guess the second bow was not as brilliant as the first!)

The trip to Toronto is 4 hours, but I went in the afternoon so it was 6 hours. The MacDonald-Cartier Highway, the 401, is a grumbling old moveable traffic jam from Kitchener to Toronto and I decided to get off and take Mt. Pleasant from Lawrence down to city center and my hotel. Every traffic light on Mt. Pleasant was not functioning and there were long lines of cars.
Finally I zipped over to Yonge St. and discovered that the hydro bill for the stop lights on Yonge had been paid, and schlepped my way down to Bond St.

My friend was in Toronto General on Elizabeth St just south east of Queen's Park. It is adjacent to The Hospital For Sick Children, a place where my niece had spent a good deal of time growing up: Sick Kids everyone calls it.
I do not think I had ever been inside it before. I certainly had never been in Toronto General, either. I had visited Baycrest Hospital on Bathurst, north of Lawrence Avenue, right across the street from Daiter's Deli and a bakery - whose name I forget - that had the most delectable challah bread I ever tasted.
A good way to remember hospitals might be the delis and bakeries nearby; forget the sad memories.
(Daiter's Deli is gone now. The bakery is an East Asian deli, and has no challah. I hope that it was something like its first week in business, because it had lots and lots of empty shelves, which is usually a red flag of sorts: either you are too late or something else is seriously amiss.)

The funeral was a bright sunny day and the sun baked us maliciously. My shoes hurt. I wore a white hat and did not really know anyone. It was a long trip to Toronto and would be a long trip back. Standing around the grave site, the family asked if anyone had some words to say. Two chums from DeLaSalle Prep had reminiscences, then I came up and sang "Gondola No Uta" in Japanese from the movie Ikiru.
My voice broke in exact mimicry of Mr. Watanabe's voice as he sang with tears running down his cheeks, in the snow, on the swing set in the new childrens' park... and I thought of life and Pachinko and bright lights, suddenly remembering the shots in the Pachinko arcade from the film.
I did a good job. My voice sounded pretty old, pretty sad, pretty Shimura Takashi singing about cancer and memory, there where Massey Creek flows to the Don.

--

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Trump Terror Tweets?

TTT?




Politico
Sanders, Feinstein call for delay in Iran sanctions vote after Tehran attack
By Diamond Naga Siu
06/07/2017 02:22 PM EDT
http://www.politico.com/story/2017/06/07/bernie-sanders-dianne-feinstein-iran-sanctions-delay-239249
A pair of lawmakers called for the Senate to delay voting on imposing sanctions on Iran Wednesday after the country was hit by a terrorist attack that killed 12 people and left more than 40 injured.

Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) issued statements saying now is the wrong time to vote on the sanctions, which are aimed at punishing Tehran for its human rights violations and its support of terrorist-designated groups...

And while the Idiot In Chief had time to bedevil the Mayor of London in the aftermath of a terrorist attack, he seems to have no time to make a comment on this....

at least, not until somebody tells him what to think about it.

--