March 31, 2018

The Irony Board:What Month Is This, Again?

president Donald J. Trump Proclaims April 2018 as National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month

During National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, we remain steadfast in our efforts to stop crimes of sexual violence, provide care for victims, enforce the law, prosecute offenders, and raise awareness about the many forms of sexual assault. We must continue our work to eliminate sexual assault from our society and promote safe relationships, homes and communities.
I moved on her, and I failed. I admit it...  I did try and f--- her. She was married. And I moved on her very heavily. In fact, I took her out furniture shopping. She wanted to get some furniture. I said, "I'll show you where they have some nice furniture. I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn't get there. And she was married. Then all of a sudden I see her, she's not go the big phony tits and everything. She's totally changed her look.
Sexual assault crimes remain tragically common in our society, and offenders too often evade accountability. These heinous crimes are committed indiscriminately; in intimate relationships, in public spaces, and in the workplace.
I've got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her. You know I'm automatically attracted to beautiful -- I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab the by the p----. You can do anything.
We must respond to sexual assault by identifying and holding perpetrators accountable. Too often, however, the victims of assault remain silent. They may fear retribution from their offender, lack faith in the justice system, or have difficulty confronting the pain associated with the traumatic experience.  My administration is committed to raising awareness about sexual assault and to empowering victims to identify perpetrators so that they can be held accountable. We must make it as easy as possible for those who have suffered from sexual assault to alert the authorities and to speak about the experience with their family and friends.

Stormy Daniels

When victims seek help, responses must be carefully tailored to the context in which the sexual assault occurred and the unique needs of each victim. To better assist victims, the Department of Justice's Office on Violence Against Women has developed the Sexual Assault Victim Intervention Services Technical Assistance Center (SAVIS TAC). This new resource will help community officials and organizations appropriately respond to sexual assault by expanding the understanding of the type of support likely to be effective in each unique circumstance. Participants in the SAVIS TAC initiative will use available funds to provide intensive training and resources to service providers.  With these resources, service providers, including rape crisis centers and other sexual assault and domestic violence organizations can build organizational and staff capacity for providing comprehensive sexual assault victim intervention services.

Together, during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we recommit ourselves to doing our part to help stop sexual violence. We must not be afraid to talk about sexual assault and sexual assault prevention with our loved ones, in our communities, and with those who have experienced these tragedies. We must encourage victims to report sexual assault and law enforcement to hold offenders accountable, and we must support victims and survivors unremittingly. Through a concerted effort to better educate ourselves, empower victims, and punish criminals, our Nation will move closer to ending the grief, fear, and suffering caused by sexual assault. The prevention of sexual violence is everyone’s concern.
The people of this country, in a decisive election, supported president Trump, and we feel like these allegations have been answered through that process.  The American people knew this and voted for the president, and we feel like we're ready to move forward in that process.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, president of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 2018 as National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. I urge all Americans, families, law enforcement, healthcare providers, community and faith-based organizations, and private organizations to support survivors of sexual assault and work together to prevent these crimes in their communities.
Well, the funniest is that before a show, I'll go backstage and everyone's getting dressed, and everything else, and you know, no men are anywhere, and I'm allowed to go in because I'm the owner of the pageant and therefore I'm inspecting it. You know, I'm inspecting because I want to make sure everything is good. You know, the dresses. 'Is everyone OK?' You know, they're standing there with no clothes. 'Is everyone OK?' And you see these incredible looking women, and so, I sort of get away with things like that.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand eighteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-second.

March 28, 2018

Wondering on Wednesday (v127)

So, what are we wondering about tonight?

Well, let's see.  How about the president's reading comprehension skills? Seems the president thinks that former Vice President Joe Biden is threatening him. Take a look:

So, you wondering what's going on here? Well, back during the campaign Grandpa Joe took exception to Trump's Access Hollywood comments, and said basically if they were back in high school and Trump had said something like that in front of Biden's sister, Joe would have taken him out behind the gym. If they were in high school. Which would have been what, 55 or 60 some odd years ago?  

I know you must be wondering about this - 37% of people responding to a Public Policy Polling survey think Grandpa Joe would win this fight; 32% think the current resident of the White House would win, and 30% don't have an opinion on this one. 

Moving on to other important subjects, Walmart will cleanse the checkout aisles of their 5,000+ stores and move copies of Cosmo to the magazine aisle, which it sounds like could be anywhere in their stores.

Why the move, I wonder?
Walmart, in s statement, acknowledged that "the concerns raised were heard" but said that its decision stemmed from business reasons.
"As with all products in our store, we continue to evaluate our assortment and make changes," the statement said. When asked for further comment, Walmart indicated that there are a number of factors it evaluates when making in-store placement decisions, including customer feedback and sales data.  
Nevertheless, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, an advocacy group that has campaigned against what it calls Cosmopolitan's "hyper-sexualized and sexually objectifying" content, took some credit for the move on Tuesday, citing its "collaborative dialogue" with Walmart.
"This is what real change looks like in our #MeToo culture," said Dawn Hawkins, the group's executive director, in a statement. 
Now, there any number of legitimate reasons why a store might not want Cosmo in the checkout line, but I'm not sure the #MeToo movement is one of them. In the context of "no woman deserves to be sexually harassed, abused or victimized" I wonder if moving a magazine that focuses on empowering women to own their sexuality the way they want to, dress the way they want to, and so on, doesn't have a feel of victim-blaming? It might not have been intended that way, but still...

Staying with Walmart for just a second longer, I missed this story when it broke in January and only recently came across it, reading that a customer is suing the retail giant for racial bias.  Essie Grundy was shopping for a comb, only to find it locked in a cabinet - along with all of the other hair care products used by African American men and women.
We're sensitive to this situation and also understand, like other retailers, that some products such as electronics, automotive, cosmetics and other personal care products are subject to additional security. Those determinations are made on a store-by-store basis using data supporting the need for heightened measures.
I wonder whether this will have an impact on their bottom line, and if yes, in which direction?

Moving on, Remington, a gun company founded in New York over 200 years ago, has filed for bankruptcy and has secured loans that will help it continue manufacturing while they try and get their house in order.

If you're wondering whether fears of gun control changes have anything to do with the decision, the answer is no: it's actually the opposite.
Gun companies experienced record sales during the Obama administration, driven by fears among gun consumers of more restrictive gun control. But these fears largely faded, along with sales and profits, since the 2016 election of Trump, a Republican endorsed by the National Rifle Association.
So, let's review: the pro-job, pro-2nd Amendment president is the reason a 200+ year old American company is sort of on life support?  Interesting -- very interesting.

And finally, this Wednesday, in case you're wondering, Jared Kushner still has a job. And he may or may have been or is being investigated, but it doesn't matter because it's all good.

March 27, 2018

The Update Desk: Casino Bailouts?

This is one of those rare posts that truly writes itself; I just has to pull the excerpts.

November 11, 2013:
Last Tuesday, New Yorkers overwhelmingly approved perhaps the most ridiculously worded, most biased proposal ever to appear on our ballot:
The proposed amendment to section 9 of article 1 of the Constitution would allow the Legislature to authorize up to seven casinos in New York State for the legislated purposes of promoting job growth, increasing aid to schools, and permitting local governments to lower property taxes through revenues generated.
A breakdown of the vote, as illustrated in this article by Michelle Breidenbach in the Post Standard, shows where the opposition to the measure came from: 
  • Ten counties in Western New York - Seneca gambling territory - voted no by between 50 -59%. Niagara and Monroe county results were 'undetermined' at the time the article was published; however according to the unofficial results, both are leaning no but by very small margins - less than 500 votes in Monroe, and only 250 votes in Niagara. 
  • Here in Central New York, four counties - Madison, Onondaga, Otsego and Tompkins - voted the proposal down; Oneida county was still up in the air but is leaning towards approval, albeit by only 401 votes. 
  • In the capital area, Albany, Schenectady, Saratoga and Warren counties all said no. Rensselear was leaning yes, by just over 700 votes, while Washington was saying no, by only 65 votes.
  • Further north, Hamilton county (118 votes) and Lewis county (369) were also leaning no.

And from June 22, 2014:
Enter Wilmorite, the Rochester developer who has long been engaged in Onondaga County as well: 
  • Think ShoppingTown Mall and Great Northern Mall, once glistening, booming retail establishments.
  • And think the proposed OnCenter Hotel, to be built downtown using the proceeds from a racino that Wilmorite wanted to build in Cicero.  
  • And think, more recently, of the defaulted mortgage on the old Sibley's building, which a local developer wants to get working on, and hopefully won't be delayed by Wilmorite's default. 
Onondaga County is already using casino gambling as an economic development tool. For example, some of the money the county is putting towards the seasonal concert amphitheater on the west shore of Onondaga Lake -- a crap shoot worthy of any Las Vegas high roller --  is an advance on our projected share of the money from Oneida Nation/Turning Stone agreement, so from that perspective I guess it makes sense that we'd at least think about gambling again with Wilmorite...

...Alas, as with most gambles, timing is everything. And so is picking the right horse. The fact that McMahon couldn't rally his troops and bring the vote to the floor means we missed the opportunity to support the deal, and it will hold (or fold) without us. That may be to our benefit, as it wouldn't look good on our resume if we backed the Wilmorite horse again - and lost, again.

And this, from July 2, 2014:
Finally, and this is sort of a non-Wilmorite wild card:  in its infinite wisdom, the New York Legislature passed a bill authorizing gambling at racinos until 6AM. Racinos are horse tracks that also have limited gambling, mostly video terminals.  Revenues are down at some of these places, and so our elected representatives decided that they can stay open another couple hours to try and get a few more bucks out of the folks who can't think of anything better to do in the wee small hours of the morning.

Hmm. Revenues are down at existing gaming facilities, at a time when we're proposing a major expansion of gambling?  How ironic...  

It'll be interesting to see how our new regional casinos will fare against this backdrop, and if the promise of last fall's constitutional amendment -- "promoting job growth, increasing aid to schools, and permitting local governments to lower property taxes through revenues produced" -- will come to fruition.

And, from November 24, 2017:
Fun times, right? Hopes were high back in those days. Not so much now, though. According to an article from earlier this month,  all three of the first licensees are underperforming. 
  • del Lago Resort and Casino, down the Thruway a bit from Syracuse, opened earlier this year with projected gaming revenue of $263M for its first year. As it stands, they'll probably fall about $100M short.
  • Rivers Resort and Casino also opened earlier this year in Schenectady, and is expected to fall about $80M short of its $222M projection.
  • Tioga Downs, which upgraded from a racino to a casino that opened in December 2016, had lower projections - $103M - and is also expected to fall short, by around $30M.
Tioga Downs owner Jeff Gural, who also owns the Vernon Downs Racino, has a different take on things, and focuses on the economic benefits of the casinos instead of on the less-than-projected revenues.
It's been a huge success. Whatever has been promised from an economic development standpoint has been delivered by the casinos. The real losers, frankly, are the owners of the three casinos. 
I would be remiss if I failed to mention that Gural asked for and received a bailout from the state to keep Vernon Downs open; it gets to keep more of the money that would have gone to the state, and they get to use capital improvement funds for operating expenses. The racino was losing about $5K a day, state officials were told; competition was one of the main drivers of the losses, Gural noted.

And from January 14, 2018:
NY legislators and Governor Cuomo don't seem to be too worried. For example, here's a fabulously irresponsible comment from Senator John Bonacic, the Mount Hope Republican who happens to be chair of the Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee in the state senate, who noted in effect that developers always lie to get approval for their projects.
It was a very competitive process for four casino licenses, and of course their consultants were going to put rosy projections in order to get the Gaming Commission to hopefully give them a license. 
Gee, thanks for the oversight, Senator -- you do know that means oversee, not overlook, right?

For his part, our ever optimistic Sonofa Gov noted about the new casinos

They've all been wildly successful in creating jobs and building beautiful complexes.
Which, as we know, counts for everything with him. The state is littered with beautiful buildings created as part of these economic development, money-for-schools or tax revenue generators (but that's a whole nother post.)

And finally, today's update, from the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle:
The del Lago casino in the Finger Lakes is seeking a better tax deal from the state to address its struggling revenue - slightly over a year since it opened. 
Tom Wilmot, the principal owner of the casino, told USA TODAY Network's Albany Bureau on Tuesday outside the Capitol that he hoped state leaders would assist the casino. 
He didn't say specifically what the request was, but it appears the casino is seeking a lower tax rate paid to the state.
"I think we need some help at this point, and what the future holds, time will tell," Wilmot said. 
Whether the state Legislature and (our Sonofa) Gov. Andrew Cuomo will come to the casino's aid is uncertain. 
And (del Lago isn't) the only one: Rivers Casino in Schenectady is seeking a better tax package from the state, according to Assemblyman Phil Speck, whose district includes that facility. 
Time will tell, indeed. Time will tell.

March 25, 2018

OrangeVerse XXXII: H.R. 1625

No time for Sunday School today -- I was busy reading poetry and stuff.

As you know the president signed H.R. 1625 on Friday.  H.R. is the $1.3 trillion spending bill, as you know, and you also likely know that the president threatened to veto this HR, just as he vetoed his National Security Advisor, HR McMaster, the day before

Anyway, in addition to have a couple of his cabinet folks drop a few words in the 22 minutes or so of  remarks, it was all Trump, in all his I-wish-I-had-a-uniform glory.  Let's take a look at how he views his spending plan.

Wanna Trade?
Thank you very much, everybody.
We have a lot of good news
 to report. Some 
tremendous trade deals
are being made
with various countries. 
We're negotiating
very long, very hard, but
very quickly.
And the deal with South Korea
according to Secretary Ross and
Bob Lighthizer, is very close
to being finished.
And we're going to have
a wonderful deal with a
wonderful ally.

Um, I Think We've Moved On.
The last time we negotiated
something like this -
and as you know it's
always been a problem for our country.
They get together and
they crate a series of
documents that nobody has
been able to read
because it was just done.
Now you tell me who can read
that quickly. It takes a 
long time to read it.

Hallowed be Thy Readiness
For the last eight years
deep defense cuts have
undermined our national security, 
hallowed our - and they just  -
if you look at what's taken out,
they've hallowed our 
as a military unit
And put America at
really grave
My highest duty is
to keep America safe.
Nothing more important.
The omnibus bill
reverses this dangerous defense.
As crazy as it's been
As difficult as it's been
As much opposition
to the military as we've had
from the Democrats
and it has been tremendous.

Listen... Listen
I try to explain to them,
you know the military
is for Republicans
and Democrats
and everybody else.
It's for everybody.
But w have tremendous
opposition to creating, 
really what will be 
by far - by far
 the strongest 
military that we've 
ever had.
We've had that
from the Democrats.
So if we take something
for the military, 
they want something for
in many cases
things that are really
a wasted sum
of money and it's not right
and it's very bad for our country.

This Land is Our Land
We're looking to do funding
for our final fight
in certain areas
As you know
we've gotten just about
a hundred percent or
our land
back from ISIS.
We have troop increases
necessary to accomplish what
we have to do and we have
very importantly a pay increase
for our troops. And this will
be actually the largest pay increase 
for our incredible people
in over a decade.

We're All Building The Navy Submarines, the Navy Submarines...
It increases total defense spending 
by more than $60B from last year 
and funds the addition of critically
needed ships planes helicopters tanks 
and submarines.
We have submarines being built
the lines of which there's
nothing anywhere in the world like
the submarines we build...

First and Last Times
But I say to Congress: I will
never sign another bill
like this again.
I'm not
going to do it again.
Nobody read it
It's only 
hours old...but 
in this case, it
became so big because 
we need to take care of 
our military and because
the Democrats
who don't believe in that
added things that
they wanted in there 
in order to get votes.

We have to get rid of
the filibuster rule.
We have to get rid of
the filibuster rule
and go to 51 votes
 in the Senate
if we're going to have
really sustained
continued success.
To prevent the omnibus situation
from every happening again
I'm calling on Congress
to give me a line-item veto
for all government spending
bills and the Senate must end.

They must end
the filibuster rule
and get down to work.
We have to get a lot of
great legislation approved
and without the
filibuster rule
it will happen just like magic.

I'm going to end it there, even though there was more after that, including the president itemizing our military spending - this many dollars for this type of equipment, and this many dollars for some other equipment, and nuclear subs, and on and on.  And of course, the border wall. And the military being the strongest it's ever been, the most well funded it's ever been, and oh yeah, we have a great country.

The only thing missing? #MAGA. 

March 23, 2018

TGIF 3/23/18

Around these parts, we're especially glad it's Friday, as our hometown cardiac kids, the Syracuse University Orange, are playing tonight in the NCAA's Sweet Sixteen!

Last team to get into the tournament, three upsets in a row, close games against high-scoring teams which all either had really, really bad nights or had a really, really hard time with our deadly Boeheim zone defense, which is, according to fans and experts alike, nothing at all like a standard 2-3 zone.

But that's just the first reason we're in TGIF mode.

I was laughing today, trying to follow the president's tweets about how happy he was with the spending bill, that he'd sign it, that he was unhappy and wouldn't sign it, and how happy he was to have a signing ceremony, and in the end, how he signed it anyway. Not that there was ever a chance that he'd really veto the measure -- that would not make for a happy Friday, would it? I mean, Trump taking credit for shutting down the government? Not on your life!

I'll have an OrangeVerse post for you with his full remarks tomorrow, but here's just one piece of it.
But I say to Congress: I will never sign another bill like this again. I'm not going to do it again. Nobody read it. It's only hours old. Some people don't even know what's in it - $1.3 trillion - it's the second largest ever. President Obama signed one that was actually larger, which I'm sure he wasn't too happy with either. 
Probably made President Obama's day with that comment, don't you think? And Nancy Pelosi's day, too? Talk about TGIF!

Tomorrow's #MarchforOurLives is another reason to be in a TGIF mood. I know, I know -- they're too young, they don't know what they're talking about, they don't have any experience, and my favorite, they should be nice to people instead of marching and protesting and all that. But the truth is, in order: they're not, they do, they have the worst possible kind, and they are. Lots of people disagree with their message, but their participation, and their effort and their working to make a difference should be recognized and celebrated.

Finally, tonight, I'll close with this delightful comment from Dr. Ben Carson, the fish-out-of-water HUD Secretary who has been all over the map on the $31,000 dining set that was ordered by "career staffers in charge of the building" - except that it wasn't. Seems Mrs. Dr. Carson was very much involved, and Mrs. Dr. Carlson was very much thrown under the bus by her husband. In testimony before a Congressional committee investigating the debacle, which came to light when a complaint was filed by a staffer unhappy about the way-over-the-limit spending.
I left it with my wife. The next thing that I, quite frankly, heard about it was that this $31,000 table had been bought.
The Secretary cancelled the order after it was brought to his attention (by the media, not by anyone at HUD) and presumably is now trying to make amends with his wife. You can watch his statement here.

TGIF, everyone and Let's Go, Orange!

March 21, 2018

Wondering on Wednesday (v126)

OK, wonder-lusters, let's get to it.

If you're a Facebook user, do you know you can manage your privacy settings?

When Facebook sends you those little messages reminding you to check your privacy settings often, and how to do that, I wonder if you've ever looked to see what's what?

And if you're a Facebook user who has never, ever, ever paid attention to privacy, is there a reason why you haven't?

Do you use apps on Facebook? What about those ubiquitous quizzes? Have you ever looked at the screen right after you click on "Continue with Facebook" where it allows you to check the app's Privacy Policy and to review what you're about to share? Below is an example of the screen you might be just clicking right through.

"What's your St. Patrick's Day Nickname?" is one that was making the rounds last week. Several of my friends and acquaintances on Facebook did that one, and I wonder if any of them took steps to protect their privacy?

If you're wondering the point here, it's all this stuff about Facebook not protecting our personal data, which of course has been all over the news - including the recent stretch when the company suffered a reported $50B loss in market value.

Now, I get that we want 'them' - Mark Zuckerberg and his coders and techies and security people and his advertising contract writers and lawyers and all -  to do something to protect us, and I agree they have some responsibility here - there's no doubt about that. I wish, for example, that everything on Facebook was an 'opt in to share' default rather than an 'opt out to not share' - if that were the case, the social media giant would be protecting us even if we're not interested enough, or savvy enough, or mindful enough to protect ourselves.

But I can't  help wondering why we are so quick to ignore the phone if we don't recognize the number, but we fall so willingly into divulging our pet's names, or the name of our childhood best friend or our first car, or our high school mascot and on and on and on, especially when we should know that many of those same bits of information are used on our favorite websites to protect us? You know, those security questions?  Um hmm.

And, to be honest, I also can't help wondering what's going to happen as the two (so far) class action suits - one on behalf of investors, one on behalf of users - start winding their way through the process.  Facebook as we know it might end up looking very different.

And if it does, you can be sure there will still be ways for users to protect their privacy, and millions of users who don't.

As we learn more about Cambridge Analytica, the data-mining firm that bragged about helping get Donald Trump elected, and that stole (used?) the personal information of 50 million Facebook users, I have one more question:  I wonder who you think we should really worry about more?
  • data-miners who pick and choose who to try and influence on social media, and then target ads and fake stories made to look real to their chosen users, or
  • the lying liar in the White House, his ethically-challenged, security-challenged, less-than-forthcoming staff, and everyone else who is associated with him, including those Republicans who have thrown their ethics, self-respect, and even their long-standing policy positions out the window in order to stay in his good favor?

March 20, 2018

OrangeVerse XXXI: Equipment and Other Things

The president had a couple of opportunities (before a bilateral meeting, and before a presumably bilateral luncheon) to talk about wealth-sharing with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.  The Crown Prince is here to celebrate big arms deals and stuff like that.  And, of course, for the poetry slam.

 It's a 
honor to 
have the 
Crown Prince 
with us. Saudi 
Arabia has been a very 
great friend and a big 
purchaser of equipment
and lots of other things. 
And one of the biggest
investments in the United 
States is their - I guess it's
your big investment - is 
buying stock in companies 
and various other things
in the United States and creating 
jobs.We've become very good friends 
over a fairly short period of time. I was 
in Saudi Arabia in May. And we are bring-
ing back hundreds of billions of dollars
into the United States. And we understand
that, and they understand that. Some of the
things that - have been approved and are cu-
rently under construction and will be deliver
-ed to Saudi Arabia very soon, and that's for 
their protection. But if you look in terms of
dollars, $3 billion, $533 million, $525 million -
that's peanuts for you. You should have increased
it $880 million, $645 million, $6 billion - that's
for frigates; $889 million, $63 million - and that's 
for various artillery. Some of the things that we're
now working on and that have been ordered and
will shortly be started in construction and delivered:
the THAAD system - $13 billion; the C-130 airplanes
the Hercules, great plan - $3.8 billion; the Bradley
vehicles - that's the tanks - $1.2 billion; and the P-8
Poseidons - $1.4 billion and what it does is it really
means many, many jobs. We're talking about over
40,000 jobs in the United States. So we make the
best equipment in the world. There's nobody even
close and Saudi Arabia is buying a lot of this equip-
ment and a lot of people are at work making the e-
quipment, no only for us - because we are, as you
know, we're getting a $700 billion military propo-
sal. And that's even a lot for you guys. But we're
getting a $700 billion military plan this year and
716 will be next year - $716 billion. So we really
have a great friendship, a great relationship. I
would really have to say the relationship was
to put it mildly, very, very strained during the
Obama administration. And the relationship now
is probably as good as it's really ever been and I
think will probably only get better. Tremendous
investments made in our country. And that means
jobs for our workers, jobs for our people. Also 
defense. We're talking about defense and we're 
working very hard with Saudi Arabia. And they
're also footing a big part of the bill for defense
- the whole Middle East. And we know what's
happened in the Middle East. And it has not 
been a pretty picture for the United States or
for anybody. And a lot of things are changing,
and they're changing very rapidly. As you know
ISIS is now - we've recaptured almost 100 percent
of the territory, as you probably have heard before
anybody. But we've captured close to 100 percent
of the territory held by ISIS. We've moved very
rapidly, very quickly. And that's really coming
to an end in that part of the world - it's coming
to an end. And we'll be able to get out of certain
areas that we've wanted to get out of for a long
period of time. And other countries can handle it.
At this point, they'll be able to handle it.
So it's a great honor to have your and
your representatives here Crown Prince -
thank you very much. Thank you for
being here. Thank you, Mr. President.
Actually the relations between Saudi
Arabia and the United States of America,
it's old relation. We are the oldest ally for
the United States of America in the Middle East.
More than 80 years of alliance and big interest - 
politically, economically, and security, in dif-
fierent area - a lot of area. And the foundation
for relation, it's really huge and really deepIt's an
honor to have the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia with us
and his representatives, many of whom I know and I met 
in May when we were over there, where a promise of $400 
billion was made by Saudi Arabia for the purchase of our eq
uipment and other things.And the relationship is probably the 
strongest it's ever been. We understand each other Saudi Arabia 
is a very wealthy nation and they are going to give the United States 
some of that wealth, hopefully in the form of jobs, in the form of the 
purchase of the finest military equipment anywhere in the world. 
There's nobody even close.

March 18, 2018

Sunday School 3/18/18

Busy busy busy day today - lots of Republicans were making the rounds this morning, and I tried to keep track of them as best as I could.

Let's start with Fox News Sunday, where Chris Wallace talked with Trey Gowdy, the lame duck South Carolina congressman. He and Wallace talked about one of Trump's lawyers calling for Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein to shut down the Mueller investigation. Gowdy is not a fan.
I don't (support that) and I think the president's attorney frankly does him a disservice when he says that and when he frames the investigation that way. Chris, if you look at the jurisdiction for Robert Mueller, first and foremost, what did Russia do to this country in 2016? That is supremely important, and has nothing to do with collusion So, to suggest that (Rosenstein) should shut down and all that is he is looking at is collusion, if you have an innocent client, Mr. Dowd, act like it.
Russia attacked our country. Let special counsel Mueller figure that out. And if you believe as we have found, there's no evidence of collusion, you should want special counsel Mueller to take all the time, and have all the independence he needs to do his job. 
Wallace noted that John Dowd, the lawyer they're talking about, doesn't appear to be "freelancing... going off by himself here" (in contrast to, say, Michael Cohen, the Trump attorney who 'freelanced' to the tune of $130K in the Stormy Daniels deal), mentioning Trump's embarrassing tweet storm. Gowdy repeated his comment about acting like an innocent man, if in fact you are one.

On CBS's Face the Nation, Margaret Brennan talked with Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who has already announced he won't vote for Mike Pompeo, Trump's choice to replace Rex Tillerson as Sec State, or for Gina Haspel, his pick to replace Pompeo as CIA director. The senator also visited at least one other classroom himself this morning.  Brennan asked him about his position on Pompeo and Haspel.
I have been very supportive of the president on taxes, regulation, the judiciary. But when it comes to foreign policy, the thing I liked about president Trump was his opposition to the Iraq War. I guess what I'm perplexed by is that he keeps nominating people around him on foreign policy who actually thought the Iraq War was so good that they want to have an Iran War now. And so I think the lesson of the Iraq war was that there are unintended consequences from regime change and so I don't think somebody being the head of - being Secretary of State who wants regime change in Iran is a good thing, or who wants regime change in North Korea.
 On Haspel, my main concern about her is that she oversaw an illegal black ops operation in Thailand that included torture and I don't think torture is what America is about...
In fact, her colleagues have said that she was an enthusiastic supporter of this enhanced interrogation, or water boarding, or torture, as most of have come to believe it. There is also evidence that she signed a cable to destroy the evidence. There were videotapes, which I'm sure were ghastly, of the simulated drowning. And these were destroyed with her support and advocacy when the returned home to Washington. So, I think there's got to be plenty of good people at the CIA who weren't involved with torture. And, really, we're supposed to e the symbol of hope for the world. And people who want freedom from totalitarianism, they want freedom from torture. They don't want freedom to torture. And so I think this sets a terrible - this sets a terrible example for the world. 
I don't always agree with Senator Paul, but in this case, I do.

Who else was making the rounds today?

Weekly favorite Republican senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina (I ignored him today) and Jeff  Flake, the lame duck from Arizona, were both on CNN's State of the Union, where Jake Tapper opened with "the state of our union is waiting to see who might be fired next." Tapper's questions were similar to what was being asked on the other shows, except for when he asked Flake if he had any idea when he'd make his decision whether to run against Trump in 2020.
Well, all I can say is, I hope that somebody does challenge the president.
I think that -- and what I have seen out there, what I experienced on Friday in New Hampshire and what I'm seeing is that there is a crying need out there for some Republicans to stand up and say, this is not normal, this is not right. 
We want Republicans who will take higher ground, and to see what's going on right now in terms of the chaos and these actions that clearly are not conservative on tariffs and whatnot. So it's not just the policies, but the behavior as well. 
People want to remember the Republican Party as the decent party. And it is not right now. And so what I'm seeing is, there's a crying need for that. I don't know who will step up in the end. I hope somebody does. I'm not ruling it out, but certainly I am - I think the odds are long that I would do it.
Last, and least, Texas Congressman Mike Conaway who led the Intelligence Committee's Russia investigation, made his first appearance, and perhaps simultaneously his last, on the Sunday shows, visiting with Chuck Todd on NBC's Meet the Press.

See you around campus.

March 16, 2018

TGIF 3/16/18

It's Friday! March Madness! St. Patrick's Day Eve!

What more could one ask for?  Well, let's see - not being these folks?

Donald Trump Jr.'s wife filed for divorce this week, which I'm sure was not a surprise to him, the way it came out so cleanly and without a whole lot of fanfare or acrimony.

Although, according to reports Mrs. Trump has retained a criminal attorney to handle her case. Divorce is rarely pleasant for anyone involved, especially kids (the Trump Jr.'s have five), and it would be worse if there were bad acts outside the ones that usually lead to the dissolution of a marriage.  If she truly needs a criminal attorney, versus your typical garden-variety high-powered divorce attorney, I hope she and the kids are OK.

Rex Tillerson is out as Sec State; a long running battle orchestrated by the president will soon be over; and  Tillerson, the man who allegedly called the president a bleeping moron can go off into the sunset with his ExxonMobil millions, and a healthy break on capital gains taxes, with the Christmas present we got from the Republican tax cut. There's still some confusion as to whether Trump's General John Kelly let Tillerson know he should resign before he got fired on Twitter, or whether he was just told to watch for a tweet that was related to him. Either way, I'm happy he's out and can go do something else, if he wants, or nothing if he'd rather.

Moving on to others in the Trump circle of influence, I learned this week (others who pay more attention were probably aware sooner) that Judge Roy Moore is broke.  Moore, an alleged sexual predator, was endorsed by the president, an proud sexual predator, but ended up losing his Alabama Senate race to Doug Jones.

In a social media post in which he spoke of  "the liberal media, in association with some who want to destroy our Country..." which apparently include "Gays, lesbians and transgenders" who "have joined forces with those who believe in abortion, sodomy and destruction of all that we hold dear", he asked for money for his legal defense from the women who allege Moore abused them.

Oh - there's this, too, in that plea for money..
PS. The political Left is filled with men and women whose sole aim in life is to overthrow our God-ordained rights which are guaranteed in the US Constitution. It is your responsibility and mine to stand up to this vile encroachment on our rights,and defend that for which the Founding Fathers sacrificed so greatly. Please send a generous gift today to the Roy Moore Legal Defence Fund to help me defeat, once and for all, those who would destroy America in order to usher in their anti-Christian "kingdom." May the lord richly bless you as you stand with me in this critical fight.
And, of course, just the other day another Trump endorsee (with no known sexual abuse allegations against him, as far as I know) lost another special election in a reliably red district.


March 14, 2018

Wondering on Wednesday (v125)

What are we wondering about today? I'm not wondering about the 17-minute walkouts - I support the students, and the adults who supported them, whether they walked with hundreds, or with a dozens, and even the ones who walked alone. Good for them!

Instead, let's wonder about the #PA18 special election.  For example, I wonder if someone took the president's phone away from him? He's been conspicuously quiet on the Twitter about the outcome. Which is weird, since he was so focused on mentioning the Republican candidate's name twice, I think, in the hour he was in the neighborhood to "endorse" Rick Saccone late last week. Maybe Trump was more interested in tooting his own horn than he was in tooting someone else's? 

I heard a Republican strategist say that if Conor Lamb hadn't run as a Republican, he would have lost for sure.  What the strategist meant, he told us, was that Lamb does not like Nancy Pelosi, he said he was going to represent the people, not the leadership; he's pro-tariff (given his district, I'm not surprised, really) and that he believes in the 2nd amendment - voila, a Republican in a blue suit, or something. I wonder if that's how the Rs will explain what we see in this picture from the NY Times coverage of the race?

All those little blue arrows represent the shift in votes to the Dem side. And, in case you're wondering, I haven't been able to find a little red arrow anywhere. If you find one, please let me know!

Many people have been wondering whether there will be recount - it's what we would expect in a race this close, but it's unlikely to happen. Under Pennsylvania rules, three voters in each precinct would need to file a timely request for a recount. Furthermore, this whole race was about a district that will likely not exist come November. meaning we could be going through this whole thing again in a few months.  Why? The PA district map was thrown out by the courts and, because the legislature couldn't come up with a better version, an independent consultant made a new one. 

I'm also wondering if other Dems who are running in traditionally red districts will have the courage to represent their district and be unafraid of  the Power of Pelosi. I've long not been a fan - no secret in these pages - and I think one of the things we desperately need is new leadership and a fresh approach in the House. That starts, I think, with not electing Pelosi speaker should the Dems actually flip the 24 seats needed - 23 now, with Lamb's victory - to flip the House. 

And finally, I wonder if Dems are going to learn anything from this one. You know - how to get in the race, when to stay out, and stuff like that. Outside money - another one of my pet peeves - was north of $13 million, and 80% of that was spent by red side - and they apparently lost. 

There's a lesson in all of this, I'm sure. 

March 13, 2018

OrangeVerse XXX: El Muro

The president visited the sanctuary state of California today, to look at mockups for his big, beautiful, pretty on the US side, ugly on the Mexican side wall. There were prototypes for him to stand in front of, and ogle, and point to, and stuff.

And it was close to where bad guys are, so that was a bonus in the manly man stuff - no generals required. It was almost poetic.OK, fine, it was poetic.

(It helps to keep in mind that  it was only a short time ago, back in February, that Trump and Enrique Pena Nieto had another testy phone call, and a planned trip by the Mexican president to the US was scrapped. And, of course, Jared went to Mexico to try and smooth things over.)

Criminals and Tariffs
Every day criminals
and tariffs try to
infiltrate our country.
You got a good
 glimpse of it before. 
We did it together, 
with the media
I didn't know we
were going to be doing
that but you got, really
maybe a far better glimpse
than you're going to
get right now.

Billions and Billions
But the border wall
is truly our first line
of defense, and it's probably
if you think about it,
our first and last, other than
the great ICE agents and other people - 
moving people out.
It will save
thousands and thousands
of lives, save taxpayers
hundreds of billions of dollars
by reducing crime flow,
drug flow, welfare fraud,
and burdens on schools
and hospitals. The wall
will save hundreds of
billions  of dollars - 
many, many times
what it's going to cost.

California sanctuary policies
put the entire nation
at risk. 
They're the best friend
of the criminal.
That's what exactly is happening. 
The criminals take refuge in 
these sanctuary cities
and it's very dangerous for our
police and enforcement folks.
The smugglers
the traffickers
the gang members
they're all taking
refuge and I
think a lot of people
in California understand that,
a lot of people from
other places understand it...

I have a great
relationship with the
president of Mexico, a 
wonderful guy - Enrique.
Terrific guy. We're working - 
we're trying to work things out.
We'll see whether or not
it happens.
I don't know that 
it's going to happen.
He's a very
good negotiator.
He loves the
people of Mexico,
and he's working very hard.
We'll see what happens.

But we have to, 
obviously, have a 
couple of disagreements
before we get there.
You'll see over 
the next month
whether or not it
takes place 
in this administration,
meaning his administration.
They have an election 
coming up. 
I hear they have
some very good 
people running
and they have
some that maybe
aren't so good.
In any event
we'll handle it.

I Babbel
So I want to 
thank everybody for
being here. I want to thank
frankly, the media
for being here.
And we'll let the people
of our country know
that we need safety
we need security 
at the border, 
and we're getting it
like we've never 
had it before
but I want to
 make it