Friday, May 31, 2019

Freedom Gas and Molecules of Freedom

Rebranded and it feels so good... Rebranded so it's not misunderstood...

It's not Natural Gas anymore bitches, it's Freedom Gas and Molecules of Freedom!  From the folks that brought you Freedom Fries during the First Gulf War. (Actual US Press Release where this bullshit was used!)


The Sheep of the Faroes Islands

There are a lot of sheep in the Faroes. Pretty much at the exclusion of everything else. No cattle, I saw no pigs (but I assume there are some). I saw several dogs, most were (wait for it) sheep dogs.

Here are some Faroes Sheep....





Aunt Nancy

Well, this has been a million years. My cousin Deborah and her mother Nancy came to visit the other day. As you can see, we are all old now. I mean the last time I remembering seeing Nancy was before my parents divorced, so at least 53 years ago.

But she came in and I remembered her voice immediately.  Crazy!

The Problem with Tariffs as a Weapon

For those of you that missed the news, President Trump announced (via tweet - which his handlers quickly converted to a real document) that he was going to introduce tariffs on June 10th (1 week from Monday) against all Mexican imports until they *STOP* all immigrants coming into the USA.

Tariffs as Weapons - Bad (image from Getty)

Now the "official" release changed *STOP* to "alleviate"* which gives a bit of wiggle room, but the general tone is still there.

What could be wrong with that? Well, I'll tell you.

  1. It is against US Laws. The United States allows for tariffs to be raised by the President only for  a: National Emergencies when protecting US key industries. That is how the President put tariffs on steel and aluminum. Or b: in retaliation. He put them on China for unfair trade practices. Not because he is having a hissy fit.
  2. It is contrary to the International Agreements we wrote and signed. It is against NAFTA (still in place), it is contrary to USMCA (which is proposed), it is against the World Trade rules (which we wrote and signed.
  3. Lifting of these requires Mexico to aid and abet us in breaking International Laws regarding people fleeing violence and asylum laws.
As I said when he screwed the pooch with the Iranians and broke the Iran Treaty. The United States has great clout and power because we choose not to exercise it. This has kept us as the world's currency broker and allowed us to run deficits so easily.

BUT, if you keep screwing others over, you lose not only the reputation, but the consequential perks that go along with being an honest broker.

* Full line in statement: If the illegal migration crisis is alleviated through effective actions taken by Mexico, to be determined in our sole discretion and judgment, the Tariffs will be removed.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Looney Tunes at the New York Philharmonic

Eddie and I went to the New York Philharmonic last wee and saw Bugs Bunny and the Symphony.  It was great fun.

 

Turns out that lots of the music, even on general cartoons, was classic. Probably because the writers liked it and probably because it was cheap. But for whatever reason, this was a great show. And we laughed a lot.


He Sees This As Positive

Our President, on a State Visit out of the country laughed off short range rocket launches, directed at his hosts (Japan), which our State Department said broke UN sanctions. And he agreed with a dictator that the ex-Vice President of the United States deserved ridicule.

And this, a day later, is his justification ...

Trip to Reeves - Reed Arboretum

Eddie and I took a very cool trip out to Reeves-Reed Arboretum about 10 days ago. It is a little house with a huge yard, turned into an arboretum. I took some pictures.



There was nothing drop dead fabulous about it, but it was a great bumble, little walk and we ate at a cute downtown in Jersey.
I love these. I don't usually see them out here (back east).


Azaleas were in bloom and the trees are blooming in this picture.





Monday, May 27, 2019

The New Gilded Age vs. The Gilded Age (NOT THE SAME)

Sometimes, one wonders why the people don't rise up against the status quo now - because it seems to many of us (including me) that we are in a New Gilded Age.

But, objectively, we are not. The Government and Capitalism itself have built in a mediating system - primarily by spreading wealth much further than before. The percentages don't tell the entire story. Let me quote from a PBS special on the Gilded Age versus ours (link).

One statistic cited by the Gilded Age documentary is that, by the time of that 1897 ball, the richest 4,000 families in the U.S. (representing less than 1% of the population) had about as much wealth as other 11.6 million families all together. By comparison, as of November 2017, the three richest individuals in the U.S. had as much wealth as the bottom half of the population. According a recent CNN analysis of Federal Reserve data, as of the end of 2017, the top 1% of Americans held 38.6% of the nation’s wealth.

 But what that statistic doesn't disclose is the absolute poverty of the non-rich in the Gilded age, versus the relative wealth of today. The images of working poor are frightening and normal for the time.




But today's economic climate has changed  in such a way that we are loath to attack it.

1. Absolute poverty and death have been drastically reduced in the United States. We can argue over the how good or crappy our safety net, but the truth is there is a safety net now. People, old or young, don't starve in the streets anymore. (note: I understand homelessness and the peril that it brings, but it is nothing like it was in the Gilded Age when it was normal and accepted).

2. There are laws which have limited the ability for employers from their worst business practices. Laws since the first Gilded Age include child labor laws, minimum wage laws OSHA safety laws, union safety laws, 40 hour work weeks, clean water and air acts. True, there has been some backsliding, particularly around Trump's Administration and environmental rules, but generally the government has improved working AND living conditions. I would say almost all Americans have access to clean water, reasonably clean air and indoor plumbing - luxuries in the Gilded Age.

3. The massive growth of a middle class. The Gilded Age was very much divided between have and have-nots. And the have-nots were very much poorer.  We now have a fairly massive middle class that enjoys relatively excellent access to necessities at least some luxuries (television, desert and free time). Most of us can afford a place to live, to go to the movies, to eat well and eat out every now and then and to provide for our families. We are safe at home, traveling, sleeping and our families are safe. That was not true int he Gilded Age. In fact, one of the few things that scares our middle class is the fear of falling out of it with one bad illness.

4. There are a lot more rich people. Relative wealth might not be much different from the Gilded Age, that is the richest of the rich own in percentage terms tons more than the rest of us, but there are a lot of people that are, or feel, rich. Many of us can afford things like vacations, private schools (or live where there are good public schools) a new car every now and then and our own home.

5. The worst of capitalism's excess occur outside of our country. Capitalism still exploits workers, employs children, pollutes land and air and has unsafe working conditions. But this happens outside the United States (and the developed / OCED countries). The worst of this happens outside our view.

There would be rioting on the streets if the non-rich still lived as they did in the original Gilded Age. But we don't. While we should not be content, we should not ignore the positive changes that have occurred. And remember, these changes would not have occurred if people hadn't protested, marched and voted.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

A Matter of Perspective

Jon Voight called President Trump the greatest President since Lincoln.

Now from MY perspective, that statement is objectively nincompoopery. But I value truth, upholding American ideals and rule of the law in a President.

If we assume Jon Voight isn't just trolling us, Mr. Voight conceivably be said to be correct based on HIS perspective. Jon Voight values his money (which Trump passed a tax-cut for the rich to support), hate liberals that make fun of him (whom Trump pisses off) and hates a woman's right to choose control over her own body (and there - Trump has appointed hundred of judges that agree with Voight and the President).

So it is a matter of perspective. If you are a rich old white guy who thinks women should be barefoot and pregnant -Trump is a great President. If you happen to be a rich old white man who controls a company that is a major polluter, you problem think Trump is better than Lincoln.

Perspective.



Saturday, May 25, 2019

Nincompoopery Irony

Kentucky has an Ark Encounter.  It is a full size replica of Noah's Ark. Really.

Additionally there is a creation museum where you can see early man and dinosaurs together, understand how the world is only 6,000 years old and have the lies of carbon dating and fossils explained.  I'll give the link in case you don't believe me.

Although based on God's directions to Noah, the builders in Kentucky apparently didn't follow them to the letter because recent floods have, wait for, created flood damage. They are suing their insurance provider for not covering floods.
Noah's Ark. Files suit over flood damage.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Great Job Ed!

At the Sports Broadcasters Awards, the US Open won for best event of the year!  My honey (pictured below) did well!!!

Mind Blowing "Dear Abby"ish

I read slate a lot, and they had two write in questions that blew my mind.  Read these and try to keep your head intact....

1. My significant other died six months ago from a long-term illness. In our 25 years together, we had a 25-year-old daughter and a 21-year-old son. During that time, he had an illegitimate son who is also 21 years old, just a few months older than our son. I didn’t even meet this son until he was 15. After my significant other’s death, he began living with me and my son. About a month ago, I developed a sexual relationship with my significant other’s son. My children have now disowned me, calling the relationship disgusting, a poor decision, and inappropriate. The way I see it, other than the age gap of 25 years, we are both single, both adults, we are not related, I didn’t raise him, I didn’t even meet him until he was 15 years old, and I was never actually married to his dad, therefore I was never his actual stepmom. Do you think my children are correct in their perception of this relationship, and if so, for what reasons?



2. For the past two years my husband Harry and I have struggled with infertility. As a teen I dealt with an STD that could have affected my ability to have children. For that reason, and because Harry said his sperm count was fine, I have always blamed myself for our inability to conceive. We’ve kept our struggle with infertility very quiet. Thankfully, our families have never pressed us about when we’re going to have kids. Last week I broke down to my wonderful mother-in-law about how difficult this experience has been. She frowned at me then said, “Harry reversed his vasectomy, then?” I was shocked, because Harry never mentioned having a vasectomy to me, but apparently he had one as a young man. When I spoke to Harry he admitted that he hasn’t reversed the vasectomy and that he wasn’t sure he wanted kids. He thought if we tried for long enough and never conceived I’d eventually give up trying. He’s apologetic, because he never realized how much I blamed myself for our infertility. He has offered to have his vasectomy reversed or to adopt a child to make his lie up to me. My best friend thinks Harry’s a sociopath, though, and that I should divorce him for being incredibly cruel. I’m in shock, devastated, have no idea what to do.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

And we roll towards tin-foil hat time.....

CNN captures it.....

I hadn't realized they have drafted a brand new memo that exlcudes whomever the President doesn't want to testify. I quote;

The White House previously invoked executive privilege in an effort to prevent McGahn from producing documents to Congress. Now the White House -- perhaps recognizing that its executive privilege invocation would likely fail on the legal merits -- has changed tack and instead made an even broader claim that Congress cannot ever compel testimony from a senior adviser to the President. 
This is nuts. The White House is relying on a brand new memo from the Office of Legal Counsel claiming that, as an absolute matter of separation of powers and executive branch autonomy, Congress cannot force the President's senior advisers to testify.  
Notably, the memo cites not a single court decision to support this novel proposition. The memo does begrudgingly note in passing that the only court opinion on the matter, a 2008 decision relating to testimony from former White House Counsel Harriet Miers, actually reaches the opposite conclusion: Senior advisers to the President are not immune from compelled congressional testimony. 


Guess where this is, Guess!

Go. on...

I"ll wait.

.
.
.
.
.
..

Wrong.

It's Hauawei's Rand D campus in Dongguan China. Which sounds suspiciously like "Daw-gone" which means they stole the name.

I'm PROUD of How Unqualified I am

In impossible to believe nincompoopery, Ben Carson, the Cabinet Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) was questioned on Capital Hill about his job. The woman questioning him is a new Representative, who previously worked with the federal HUD team in California.

In trying to talk to Ben Carson, he confused a common term in housing for cookies. It was embarassing.

But instead of being embarrassed, he actually held up a box of cookies to make fun of the Representative? Oy.

He thinks this is funny!

Baby Ducks!!!

I have a soft spot for ducks. I had a duck once, Clyde the duck. Long story.

Anyway.. this story made me smile today, at a Rochester NY hospital they have some interior patio/garden spaces. And, apparently, there is a duck that has found this a safe space to lay eggs and raise chicks.

Then, every year, mam duck taps on the glass doors one day and walks the ducklings out, ready to face the world. It is soo damn cute.




Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Authorization of Froce and Iran

The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and chief security advisor, John Bolton, claimed this week that the current authorization for military force includes the authorization for war against Iran, should they want to go to war (link).

US Navy Destroyer attack group on it's way to Iran through the Suez Canal... Fun Ensues
Let me lay down my marker that I think war with Iran is asinine, a giant mistake and totally "not our fight". If Israel and Saudi Arabia (odd bed-fellows here) want to go to war with Iran, fine. But we don't have a dog in that hunt.

Having said that, now let's look at the legal basis the administration is dressing up like a cheap prostitute and sticking under the streetlight glare. The 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) was specifically called out for Al-Queda and their terrorist supporters. To quote:

That law gave the president the power to use force against "nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons."

Now Iran, who supports anti-US and anti-Israel groups does NOT fall under this authorization. In fact, Iran supported the US in Afghanistan. They hated the Taliban and Al-Queda. They did not harbor the terrorists. I am not saying they are honest regional players. Like the US and Saudi Arabia, Iran has a number of proxy groups in the region working to destabilize regimes. But that doesn't mean they fall under the 2001 AUMF.

Remember when the Republicans declined to authorize force in Libya. And when President Obama went to Congress for authorization for Syria and was denied? The Constitution gives Congress the ability to declare war. The President can wage war for up to 60 days without authorization - but this administration is claim current AUMF is valid for any Iranian conflict.

It's not.

Final: A Cute Bruin

Okay, if we can't be good, and we can't be the "gutty little Bruins", at least we can have some hot players. Josh Harris (a JC transfer from El Cajon) is at least cute as a bug!


Things You Didn't Know You Missed: The Stacks

The stacks. It's something most youth don't even know.  The "stacks" where unknown to me until I went to USC. Those stacks are long gone now. As are the stacks at the NYC Library (although the  main stacks in NYC were never open to the public).


So, what are "the stacks"?  The stacks are the shelves of library books, laid out for your discovery and perusal. To me, the stacks are a unique type of shelving. Where the roofs are low and the books are dense (at USC they were 7 ft tall - almost 2 stack levels to a physical "floor" of a building).

A user would look up in an index where a book was shelved using the Dewey decimal system (link), which was a relative system, that is books were grouped together by topic. So you could enter to find a history of California, and around you were histories of other states and the occasional deep dive into a city.

You could get lost in the stacks, let your brain wander from topic to topic. And, since the stacks are like Vegas, with no outside light or clocks, you easily lost track of time. I remember more than once stepping out of the stacks after midnight (when I was in college, the USC stacks didn't really close until super late / early).

In the age of Google and Wikipedia, libraries are out of fashion. They have been redone as "spaces" mainly to use computers. I get it, progress is great. But the magic of the stacks, stumbling on hidden gems, books forgotten and discovered, the smell and quiet, these will be lost to new generations.



Too bad. It was very very cool.

Friday, May 17, 2019

My Head is going To F*cking Explode

HOW CAN PEOPLE STILL TAKE HIM SERIOUSLY!!!!!

Two tweets today (I mean more than 2, but 2 I will talk about). Now remember, according to the President, his Press Secretary and the courts these are official fucking US communications.

First: anyone who investigated me is a literal TRAITOR to the US. FYI - they aren't Treason is defined in the Constitution.



Then: why didn't someone tell me Flynn was being investigated so I could OBSTRUCT FUCKING JUSTICE!!!



There is no hope.

Gosh Scott: How Can You Say Christians Promote White Nationalism?

Like this (link)
FYI - Lest you think this is an (extreme) crack-pot, he has been on Jim Baker's show repeatedly and has his own show.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Republics Benefitted from Russia Hacking, so They Won’t Fund Efforts Against It

What the hell? President Trump’s own administration asked for more funds to prevent electoral interference, and the Senate will not allow a vote on it. It is the definition of UN-
American.

Fuck heads. (LINK)


These Days Are Always Odd

Today seems like high alert day on the subways in New York.  They never publicize any threats, but suddenly you see lots of police in the Subway. And then, for VERY high threats, the National Guard is out.

Today, the police and National Guard are out in force.

Ut oh......

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Nothing says no worries like, GET OUT NOW

Sue, the mid-east is safe. We’re not going to attacking anyone (cough.. Iran... cough)

!!!!!
Get out now, safe yourself...


Thin House!

I pass this house all the time, it’s on 58th (very near Columbus Circle) and I never noticed it until today as the light was perfect to see it. It is crazy, cute and impractical on many levels.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

See! We’re Heading Our Ass to War

1st - Update on Saudi Arabian Oil Tanker sabotage... none visible (link)...

2nd - Readying for War is getting into place...

Monday, May 13, 2019

Two Stepping to War

If Saudi Arabia, UAE and Israel (along with John Bolton) have their way we going to war with Iran. I think the theory is, bomb them before they get a nuc. Now, why keeping Iran from getting a nuc, while allowing North Korea to keep their’s make sense is beyond me.

Of course, North Korea, and our President’s big wet kiss to them, will propel Iran into developing weapons. The examples point out that nuclear development is the only sane path.

Libya dropped their nuclear development process and was over-thrown. Iraq suspending their nuclear development process - and was attacked and overthrown. North Korea (and India and Pakistan) finished developing the bombs and are accepted into the “community of nations”.

The “attacked” ships reported by Saudi Arabia and UAE are being attributed to Iran (despite an explosion at a UAE facility a few days ago - and a denial of the explosion). And we seem to follow the leads from these countries more than our traditional allies - who are still trying to make the Iranian deal work.

We have a security advisor (John Bolton) who has advocated for war with Iran for decades (at least). We have a Secretary of State (Mike Pompeo) that is actively anti-Iran. Our President wants to undo anything Obama did (the Iran Deal) and do anything Israel wants us to do - and Bibi hates the Iran deal.

War with Iran should be a decision actively made, not a reflexive response to a ginned up provocation.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Just a bit of Constitutional Crisis

I am not amazed that we have descended into a Constitutional Crisis. I am surprised that it has come to this, but not amazed.

For those of you unaware of what is happening and how unprecedented it is, let me explain. The US Constitution (for my British friends a “Constitution” is a legal document that defines how a government legally has to function:” I would normally (and snarkily) suggest you get one, but I am in no position to throw stones at this point) our Constitution defines 3 branches of government, Legislative, Judiciary and Executive. Each of these has a “check and balance” on the other.

The check that the Constitution requires of Congress over the executive is oversight. That is, the House and Senate are expected to check that the Executive (the Presidency) doesn’t overstep it’s power, doesn’t rule by fiat and doesn’t break the law.

Now, Congress has requested documents and testimony from the Executive Branch - but the President has issued a blanket rule to disallow any cooperation including responding to requests or subpoenas from the House of Representatives. This has never happened in our history!

Congress has very few options:
1. They can give up and not fulfill their Constitutional duty to oversee the Executive (this is what happened under the Republicans with Trump from 2016 - 2018).
2. They can ask the Department of Justice to prosecute those that ignore the subpoenas - but the Executive Branch who controls the Department of Justice has told Congress to fuck off.
3. They can peruse this via the courts, but it is a long drawn out process that will not produce results until well after our next election. Donald Trump, both before and after his election, is known to use the drawn out process to stall.
4. They can super-charge the subpoenas by Going into Impeachment Investigations - but that looks horrible politically.

Speaking of fucked up precedents, this administration has just determined that the entire Muller Report is NOW under executive privilege. That is, no one can see it because it contains personal information that the President wants to keep secret. This is fucked up for 3 reasons.

First, the report was requested as an investigation of the President and his election team, well before he was president. And it is a valid investigation. If Clinton did this on the Ken Star report imagine the  outrage.

Second, we know it is illegal. President already tried this with Watergate. It is illegal.

Third, the Muller Report was released! You can buy it in a book-store. The President cooperated with the investigation - but didn’t like the outcome. To retroactively call it protected under Executive Privilege is asinine and makes everyone who bought the book a US Felon.

Trump has fucking broke our government and the asshole Republicans have let him.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

What is Cinco de Mayo - and Why Is It a Big Deal?

If you try to find out why Cinco de Mayo is a big deal, you will read a bunch of bullshit on the net. Seriously. I will tell you the truth.


Wikipedia is close - but no cigar...


Cinco de Mayo (pronounced [ˈsiŋko ðe ˈmaʝo] in Latin America, Spanish for "Fifth of May") is an annual celebration held on May 5. The date is observed to commemorate the Mexican Army's victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza.[1][2] The victory of the smaller Mexican force against a larger French force was a boost to morale for the Mexicans. A year after the battle, a larger French force defeated Zaragoza at the Second Battle of Puebla, and Mexico City soon fell to the invaders.
In the United States, Cinco de Mayo has taken on a significance beyond that in Mexico.[3][4][5][6] More popularly celebrated in the United States than Mexico,[7] the date has become associated with the celebration of Mexican-American culture. These celebrations began in California, where they have been observed annually since 1863. The day gained nationwide popularity in the 1980s thanks especially to advertising campaigns by beer and wine companies. Today, Cinco de Mayo generates beer sales on par with the Super Bowl.
In Mexico, the commemoration of the battle continues to be mostly ceremonial, such as through military parades or battle reenactments. The city of Puebla marks the event with an arts festival, a festival of local cuisine, and re-enactments of the battle.

No! Cinco de Mayo is a whoops - that went viral before the term. You are taught your state history in 4th grade. In California, the history books spoke of Mexico's first victory over Maximilian (Napoleon's cousin) which happened on Cinco de Mayo. It isn't their Independence Day, but it was a big deal (according to the book). It then became, for Mexican / American kids in California, it was a day to celebrate their heritage. Which quickly turned into Margaritas and Happy Hour.

But it all started because of a school history book glitch.

About sums it up