Monday, July 30, 2018


The Judge forced Trump to solve a problem Trump created, and Trump wants to take a victory lap and take a baseless swipe at Obama as well?

And as for that praise:

"The government is at fault for losing several hundred parents in the process and that's where we go next," the judge said.

Sabraw ordered the government and the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents the parents, to submit written updates every Thursday on still-separated families.

Sabraw said the "problem" could not be repeated, describing how Homeland Security, Health and Human Services and Justice departments didn't have a system to keep track of the families that were separated when the administration introduced a "zero tolerance" policy toward illegal entry.
"Each (department) was like its own stovepipe, each had its own boss, and they did not communicate," he said. "What was lost in the process was the family."

More than 1,800 children 5 and older had been reunited with parents or sponsors as of Thursday. That included 1,442 children who were returned to parents who were in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody, and another 378 who were released under a variety of other circumstances.

On Thursday, the government said 711 children remained in custody because their parents or relatives are ineligible for reunification. More than 400 of the 711 still in custody have parents who may have already been deported. 

Meanwhile, down in Texas....

On a parallel legal front, a federal judge in Los Angeles said Friday that she will appoint an independent monitor to evaluate conditions for immigrant children in U.S. border facilities in Texas following a spate of reports of spoiled food, insufficient water and frigid conditions faced by the youngsters and their parents.

Judge Dolly M. Gee said she reached her decision after seeing a "disconnect" between U.S. government monitors' assessment of conditions in facilities in Texas' Rio Grande Valley and the accounts of more than 200 immigrant children and their parents detailing numerous problems.

"It seems like there continue to be persistent problems," she said during a hearing on a longstanding settlement in a case focusing on the care of children in government custody. "I need to appoint an independent monitor to give me an objective viewpoint about what is going on at the facilities."

Peter Schey, an attorney who represents immigrant children detained by the U.S government, said problems have worsened with children now spending three to six days in U.S. Customs and Border Protection facilities, where they were previously held one to three days.

"We've seen an intensification with all the chaos the administration has caused," said Schey, who has long requested an independent monitor.

I think the previous administration's record looks pretty good next to this picture of chaos and incompetence.


There are 17 fires burning in California.  There are 3 burning in Colorado, including the third-largest in the state's history.  There are more than 90 wildfires at the moment, burning from Texas to California.

Trump has made no mention of them. He has ranted on Twitter about the Mueller investigation, praised his poll numbers, campaigned for GOP Congressional candidates, argued about immigration; but nothing about states on fire, lives lost, homes and even towns destroyed. Maybe he's waiting for another chance to throw paper towels.....

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Where is the art? Where is the deal?

The Devil is in the Details

Imagine you are the CEO of a publishing house, and through your actions you've burned your bridges with Barnes & Noble and independent book sellers, and so you want to negotiate a deal with Amazon to save your ass.  You're really pushing your e-book library, but your books are not formatted for Kindle (just go with it, computer nerds) and Amazon therefore is only interested in a few of your paper books.  A few, not many.  After talking to Jeff Bezos (again, go with it) on the phone, you announce to the shareholders that you've struck a great deal and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.

That's what Donald Trump just did with the European Union:

“We’re opening things up,” Trump said in Dubuque (video above). “But the biggest one of all happened yesterday ... the EU .... We just opened up Europe for you farmers. You’re not going to be too angry with Trump, I can tell you. You were essentially restricted. You had barriers that really made it impossible for farm products to go in ... you have just gotten yourself one big market that really essentially never existed.”

The European Union’s take was very different.

“On agriculture, I think we’ve been very clear on that — that agriculture is out of the scope of these discussions,” European Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva told reporters in Brussels on Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported. Other than what is “explicitly mentioned” in the agreement, “we are not negotiating about agricultural products,” she said.

“When you read the joint statement ... you will see no mention of agriculture as such; you will see a mention of farmers and a mention of soybeans, which are part of the discussions, and we will follow up [on] that,” Andreeva added.

Andreeva is Amazon, here, Trump is the clueless CEO (how did he ever get to be in charge?).  Worse, you tell the shareholders (on Twitter!) that everything is on the table, because you are "negotiating about books, period."  Er, um....

The U.S. “heavily insisted to insert the whole field of agricultural products” in the negotiations, Juncker later told reporters, according to the Journal. “We refused that because I don’t have a mandate and that’s a very sensitive issue in Europe.”

 But U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told a Senate committee Thursday that “we are negotiating about agriculture, period."

Amazon doesn't want your e-books, but that's what you really need to sell.  Where do you think this ends?  How much smoke can you blow up the shareholder's collective asses before they realize it's just smoke?

Worse, imagine you've lost the trust of the bookstores in America, and B&N, and you need new outlets for your wares.  This isn't Amazon's website, you don't just scroll the list of merchants looking for someone else to buy from (or sell to, in this case).  You need contracts, agreements, points of contact, negotiations.  These things take time, but you need cash flow.  Publishing is not a business of deep pockets where you can go for years without selling anything.  Books published now are remaindered in months if they aren't on the bestseller lists, and they can't get there if they aren't being sold.  To whom do you sell, and how long does it take to make those arrangements and ship the product, and is it any good by then?

It's gonna look like this:

Mexico, the top importer of U.S. wheat, is increasingly turning to cheaper supplies from Russia, which surpassed the United States as the top global wheat supplier in 2016.

Now the U.S. market share decline is accelerating as Mexico casts about for more alternative suppliers in Latin America and elsewhere to hedge against the risk that U.S. grains will get more expensive if the Mexican government imposes tariffs, according to interviews with three large Mexican millers, international grains traders, the top Mexican government agricultural trade official and government and industry data analyzed by Reuters,

“It’s important to send signals to Mr. Trump,” said Jose Luis Fuente, head of Canimolt, a Mexican trade group which represents 80 percent of Mexican millers. Mexico will keep buying American wheat because of its proximity, he said, but “we can’t continue to have this absolute dependence.”

The shifting supply deals are alarming for the U.S. industry, which has supplied the vast majority of Mexico’s wheat since the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) took effect.

U.S. wheat exports to Mexico dropped 38 percent in value, to $285 million, in the first five months of 2018. U.S. wheat exports to all countries, valued at $2.2 billion, dropped 21 percent.

“The Mexico market ought to be just an extension of our domestic market,” said Justin Gilpin, CEO of the Wheat Commission in Kansas, the nation’s biggest wheat-producing state.

Instead, Mexican buyers plan to import as much as 100,000 tonnes from Argentina – worth about $20 million based on current prices – when it harvests wheat later this year, Fuente told Reuters. Mexico imported a test cargo of 33,000 tonnes in late 2017 after the its government financed a trade mission of grain buyers to find alternatives to U.S. wheat in Latin America.

If Mexico starts importing from Argentina (which may help Argentina, actually), when and why do they shift back to us?  Because we're cheaper?  Yeah, that's gonna help American agriculture.  Eventually they might, but "eventually" don't feed the bulldog today.  This is the  kind of "deal" Donald Trump has struck by erecting trade barriers and imposing tariffs.  Farmers are feeling it first, but they understand the business of agricultural sales.  Trump doesn't.  Trump, it seems, doesn't understand anything.  He's not just a bull in a china shop, he's a stupid bull in a china shop who thinks he's doing a good thing.

This will not end well.  In the meantime, can we get the media to start understanding (as NPR finally did, today, on a report I was just listening to) that if Trump says he has a "deal," he has bupkis?  After Singapore and Helsinki and now the meeting with Andreeva (and the announcement made about it), isn't it time to be severely skeptical of what the President says?  I mean, the number of lies he makes in a day are already to stuff of legend; shouldn't that tell us something?

He is a profoundly ignorant man.  This is not a good thing.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Sure, we need the gun to smoke first

Juries are allowed to infer quite a bit from the evidence presented to them. The prosecutor doesn't need iron clad evidence, or even a smoking gun, to secure a criminal conviction.

Given that Trump lies as casually and frequently as most people draw breath, why should anyone believe everyone at the top of his campaign but him knew in advance about the meeting to get "dirt" on Hillary Clinton?  I mean, the very idea that the obsequious Don, Jr. didn't tell Daddy this was happening is laughable on its face.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

What fools these mortals be....

Ye gods and little fishes, but economists can be twats:

In an opinion column published on Forbes on Saturday, a professor of economics argued that local public libraries should be replaced by Amazon. The essay, which sparked so much controversy that Forbes removed it from its website on Monday, argued, “At the core, Amazon has provided something better than a local library without the tax fees. The move would save taxpayers money and enhance the stockholder value of Amazon all in one fell swoop.”

I have to go with this librarian's take on what the professor of economics said, since the essay he wrote is gone.  Her argument about what libraries do, both in the abstract and the concrete, is worth reading.  Just to give you an example:

Just this week, a woman stopped by our desk because she needed to be taught how to open a new tab in an internet browser. She returned a few minutes later and said, “Please write ‘stomach ache’ on this piece of paper for me. I don’t know to spell it.” The man waiting behind her had no idea how to open an internet browser to begin his first job search in years. I walked him through the process and helped him get to a job site. This was a few minutes of a 40-hour workweek.

I can’t imagine where this woman and this man would go without the library. Would Amazon really be willing to help them with all of their needs free of charge?
Well, would they?

I practically grew up in the Carnegie Library in my hometown (one reason I have warm feelings for the old robber baron).  I read most of the books on the upper floor, the children's section, then discovered the "adult" (no, not that kind) science fiction in the sections below the stairs, almost a hidden room.  I browsed all of that, too.  When I went to college, the first thing I did was find a place in the library to study (it was usually TOO quiet; I found I needed noise to think.  Decades later, in seminary, I went to an Einstein's Bagel because it was in walking distance of the school, and wrote sermons for the church I pastored amid the hubbub of the breakfast rush.).  At UT, I disappeared for hours at a time into the huge undergraduate library, usually to kill time rather than sit in an apartment all afternoon, later to do research for my master's thesis.  Later I spent time in the Humanities Research Center holdings.  Last night I saw a film on PBS about Auden's "Musee Des Beaux Arts," and they showed a manuscript copy of the poem.  I'm pretty sure it was from the holdings of the HRC in Austin.  Well, academic libraries are different, aren't they?

While I bought every book by Ray Bradbury I came across in my feckless youth (and still have them, tattered paperbacks that they are), I read a great deal more in the public library (and the school libraries) than I ever could have purchased.  Half the books I found downstairs and so enjoyed would be hard to find in Powell's on-line catalogue if out of print volumes, even if it was around 50 years ago when I was frequently under those stairs.  When I lived in Austin I checked out records of music from France and Germany in the public library.;  Christmas music traditional to those cultures I otherwise never would have heard, and a world of music I couldn't find in record stores (remember those?) and couldn't have paid for if I had found it.

Libraries have changed dramatically since I was a child.  They are no longer sanctums of silence where children are hushed and books alone are available.  They are the cultural centers of communities, as the Carnegie Library (that was the name, and I'll always think of it that way) was for me.  My best memory is of working on a research paper in high school with two of my best friends (one of whom I'm still in touch with).  We'd spend the day browsing and researching and taking notes, breaking only for lunch at a Kresge's nearby (another lost idyll).  Once we started giggling and whispering and even laughing so hard we nearly got thrown out, something that wouldn't happen today.

But none of that would happen on Amazon.

Economists can be such wankers.  Some of them seem to understand the cost of everything, but the value of nothing.  Maybe even the editors of Forbes figured that out.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Is This Part Of What We Shouldn't Believe?

Besides, government sux:
I'm sure it's just another distraction.

"A Man Hears What He Wants To Hear...."

"...and disregards the rest."--Paul Simon, "The Boxer

“Don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news,” [President Trump] said, a command that was reportedly met with boos and hisses from the crowd. “I mean, I saw a piece on NBC today– NBC, not just CNN. CNN’s the worst. But I saw a piece on NBC. It was heart throbbing. They were interviewing people. They probably go through 20 and then pick the one that sounds like the worst. But they went through a group of people. In fact, I wanted to say, ‘I got to do something about this Trump.’”


To which he added:  who you gonna believe, me, or your lyin' eyes?

“Just remember, what you are seeing and what you are reading is not what’s happening,” he said.

Yeah, I know, this sounds like Russian conspiracy-theories-as-misdirection; but I don't think Trump's being clever.  I think he really believes what he says is true, whenever he says it.  Like this, for example:

The piggy bank being robbed now is the American taxpayer, because Trump wants to spend $12 billion to bail out farmers hurt by his tariffs (temporarily, i.e., just until November).  Not that that will put Mid-Continental Nail back in business:

Or help out anyone effected by steel and aluminum tariffs,  or other tariffs that hit car manufacturers (most cars made in America are made with parts from other countries).   Yeah, don't believe what you read OR what you see!  Especially if Trump writes it or says it.

Are We Having Fun Yet?

So I started this post at midnight or so, shortly after this tweet went up.  I even had excerpts from Rouhani's speech, and a note that the speech preceded the tweet by 21 hours earlier (which means the POTUS learned about this on cable.  Or he kept is rage in check until it was more politically convenient.  Yeah, that's how he works, right?).  And then I went to bed.

The next morning, no one was taking this tweet seriously, especially the Iranians.

And it's all because:  well, why?  You get as many reasons as there are pundits (same as it ever was).  The most interesting part, though, is that Trump won't do anything about it.

We all know Trump is all bluster and no bite.  And by "we all know" I mean tout le monde.  Even Iran mocked him:  "BE CAUTIOUS!"  He's a joke.  He's not going to send bombers or nuclear-tipped cruise missiles flying toward Iran.  Ever.  And troops are not going to start massing on Iran's borders  Where, indeed, would they gather:  Iraq?  Afghanistan?  Syria?  Turkmenistan?  Azerbaijan?  Turkey?

Anybody remember how long it took Poppy to get troops ready to roll into Kuwait?  Does Trump imagine war with Iran can begin with a tweet, and within minutes thousands of troops, equipped and supported, can roll into Tehran?  Does anyone imagine even Trump would turn the U.S. into a pariah nation by being the only country to use nukes twice, and this time to defend our slighted (in his imagination) honor?

The problem is not that Trump is dangerous, the problem is that Trump is foolish.  And he makes the U.S. foolish for being the one who represents all of us.  Besides, we have this:

And this:

And what you don't see in that clip is what else Sessions said:

“Rather than molding a generation of mature and well-informed adults, some schools are doing everything they can to create a generation of sanctimonious, sensitive, supercilious snowflakes. We’re not gonna have it,” he said, continuing on with his speech.
And there's just the problem of keeping up with daily events:

Whoo, boy.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

It Just Gets Better and Better

Andrei Kozyrev, Minister of Foreign Affairs under Boris Yeltsin:

"What is really dangerous to my mind, fundamentally,” he explained in a heavy accent, “is that it is the first time ever an American President offered to a Russian counterpart in his tweet, in Trump’s tweet, the new basis for relationship — the new basis for discussions. The basis is that America is to be blamed for its stupidity. That America is to be blamed for troubles in it’s relationships.”

“Putin cannot but rejoice in that. That is why my former deputy, Sergey Lavrov said it is much better than ‘super,'” he quipped. “That is the wrong foundation and I can’t believe it happens, that it is America to blame. Putin is saying for the kids that it is America that has to change its behavior all over the agenda.”

“The problem is not having normal or benign relations,” he advised. “But having relations based on the fact that it is all America’s fault, stupidity or whatever, and America has to correct it’s behavior. That really makes this an emergency situation to my mind. It is an emergency situation.”

Trump is so smart he knows everybody else is stupid, including U.S. Presidents going back to Washington.  His followers know they are smarter than everybody else to, which is why the "elites" are so stupid they don't realize how stupid they are.  America is to be blamed for its stupidity and troubles in its relationships because America has been run by elites who are stupid!

My only comfort is that Republicans now represent only about 30% of the electorate nationwide.

On the other hand, maybe America is to blame for some of its stupidity:
(If you think about that too long: that it was a hoax and Obama knew it but didn't investigate because he thought Hillary was going to win, you may find yourself answering questions like "How long is a piece of string?")

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Reality as an Argument

Our story starts there, the latest iteration of POTUS calling the press (guaranteed freedom of expression in the First Amendment) the "enemy of the people."  That didn't sit well even with a FoxNews reporter:

Which didn't sit well with some FoxNews viewers; at least some who use Twitter:
 Interesting in itself only mildly, I realized this is the same stone-wall reasoning you run into when people demand "proof" of the "existence" of God.  "Proof" in that demand means something you can't show, because your "proof" is "fake!"  Go ahead, convince any of those people that "fake news" is a fake term.  Or a Russian term, for that matter.  Terry Gross interviewed British journalist Carole Caldwell this morning, and Caldwell pointed out how many times that term has been used by the Russian government in social media and Twitter postings.  But go ahead, convince those people that you have "proof" their news is "fake news," and your news is real.

I'll wait over here.

Kierkegaard pointed out you can't convince someone of something they already assume can't be proven.*  Some things just aren't worth arguing about, and assuming everyone will "see reason" and agree with you will lead you to despair and probably disillusion; but that can be a pathway to wisdom.

*But what is this unknown against which the understanding in its paradoxical passion collides and which even disturbs man [sic] and his self-knowledge? It is the unknown. But it is not a human being, insofar as he knows man, or anything else that he knows. Therefore, let us call this unknown the god. It is only a name we give to it. It hardly occurs to the understanding to want to demonstrate that this unknown (the god) exists. If, namely the god does not exist, then of course it is impossible to demonstrate it. But if he does exist, then of course it is foolishness to want to demonstrate it, since I, in the very moment the demonstration commences, would presuppose it not as doubtful--which a presupposition cannot be, inasmuch as it is a presupposition--but as decided, because otherwise I would not begin, easily perceiving that the whole thing would be impossible if he did not exist. If, however, I interpret the expression "to demonstrate the existence of the god" to mean that I want to demonstrate that the unknown, which exists, is the god, than I do not express myself very felicitously, for then I demonstrate nothing, least of all an existence, but I develop the definiteness of a concept.
Adding:  and the truth is, such people have always been with us.  So long as they were politically (or culturally, either one) marginalized, nobody cared.  Now that they have an avatar in the White House, suddenly everybody is afraid for the future.  Which is still just a matter of whose ox is being gored; return to that SNL sketch after Trump won the election:  the white people were portrayed as shocked by the results; Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle, standing in for African-Americans en masse, were more sanguine.  Now, are they really in charge?  Well, until November, anyway.  Beyond that?  I really doubt it.

But they've always been there; and they always will be.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Running as fast as you can to stay in one place

William Saletan has fun imagining Trump playing out the "joke" of his denial of what he said in Helsinki through the end of the week.  Truth, in its attempt to prove itself far stranger than fiction, told Mr. Saletan he should have simply waited 24 hours before attempting satire.

“Is Russia still targeting the United States?” a reporter asked Trump.

“No,” Trump replied, taking the side of the Kremlin over the conclusions of the intelligence community that Russia is currently meddling in the 2018 midterm elections.

“I would expect that there are going to be meetings about how they will clarify those comments again,” White House correspondent Kristen Welker predicted.

Sure enough:

“ I had a chance to speak with the President after his comments and the president was — said thank you very much and was saying no to answering questions,” she told reporters Wednesday. “The President and his administration are working very hard to make sure that Russia is unable to meddle in our elections as they have done in the past and as we have stated.”

(Is there any serious question of what Trump was saying?  No.  He included this as part of his one word answer:

“We are doing very well, probably as well as anyone has ever done, with Russia. There’s been no president, ever, as tough as I am on Russia. All you have to do is look at the numbers, look at what we’ve done, look at sanctions, look at ambassadors not there, look unfortunately at what happened in Syria recently, and I think President Putin knows that better than anybody, certainly a lot better than the media.”

Which hardly sounds like he was refusing to take the question.)

(Adding:  George Will a few days ago noted about Trump's use of the language:  “Precision is not part of Trump’s repertoire: He speaks English as though it is a second language that he learned from someone who learned English last week."  Apparently Sarah Huckabee agrees, as she now claims to be his interpreter, as she explained her explanation of what Trump said today:  “Actually, I’m interpreting what the president was saying. I’m not reversing it."

Run faster.  We're falling behind.)

Haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate hate

Well, Russia certainly thinks so:

"The West's attempts to isolate Russia failed," read the state-run newspaper Rossiisskaya Gazeta, according to a translation by Reuters.

In Moscow, there was a recognition that the summit did not produce any breakthroughs on issues such as Syria, Ukraine or arms control. Instead, the focus was on the symbolism of the leader of the world's remaining superpower sitting one-on-one with Putin after years of international isolation.

"The attention of the whole world is focused today on Helsinki and it's crystal clear to everyone: The fate of the world is being decided between Russia and the United States, the leaders of the two major powers of our planet are meeting," Alexey Pushkov, a member of the upper house of the Russian parliament, tweeted Monday.

Putin faces little genuine political opposition and controls much of the press in his country.

Pretty much the same "good things" that came out of meeting with Kim Jong Un.  Still, haters gonna hate:

Is it too early to label this the "Taylor Swift" presidency?   And "so many people"?  Name two, who aren't Russian.  Dan Coats will not be one of them:

Nor will John Brennan:
Who you got?

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Darkness Visible

Carl Bernstein:
“So, we are in an extraordinary moment in which we will see how the wounds in the past couple of days that Trump has inflicted on himself, whether they may be somewhat mortal, be hard to imagine given what he’s survived and thrived on so far, but he is bleeding badly in front of all of us,” Bernstein said. “And we are watching a horrible spectacle play out in which we don’t know exactly whether we can trust the loyalty of the president of the United States whether through incompetence, whether through incoherence or whether through nefarious relationships. We just don’t know the answer.”

He noted that it’s impossible to know what occured in the body language and the winks between the two men.

“Can you imagine that here we are talking about whether or not the president of the United States can be trusted with a despot, a tyrannical murder rogue thug and the president of the United States we’re unsure of perhaps whose side he’s on or whether he’s ambiguous whose side he’s on,” he closed.

The interesting point is:  we have Putin's version of what they talked about privately.  Trump hasn't said a word about it.  Given the debacle of the press conference, how much worse was the private meeting?  If we're unsure whose side Trump is on, shouldn't we be inquiring into what we don't know and what he hasn't told us?  Or hasn't told his security advisors, for that matter?

“Katy, you asked if [Trump] had consumed the media coverage,” NBC News Pentagon correspondent Hans Nichols said. “He did not make his way to the West Wing until well after noon today, that gave him plenty of time to digest the media and perhaps watch a little cable TV.”

“And what’s interesting is that he had an intelligence briefing on his schedule yesterday, this morning, the intelligence briefing was no longer there and no reason given for why that changed,” Tur noted.

“Just scrubbed from his schedule,” Nichols noted. “Officially, that was on the schedule, and then it wasn’t — and that is where we stand the now as the president is going to about to try to talk to the press the American people about just what his intentions were with Vladimir Putin.”

In addition to canceling his Presidential Daily Briefing, the commander-in-chief also blew off a planned lunch with Vice President Mike Pence.

Be The World You Want To Live In

No, seriously:

Oh, really, a tweet's just not good enough for this.  Here's Trump's complete statement on the matter:

I thought that I made myself very clear by having just reviewed the transcripts—I have to say, I came back and I said, “what is going on, what is the big deal?” So I got a transcript, I reviewed it, I actually went out and reviewed a clip of an answer that I gave, and I realized there is a need for some clarification. It should have been obvious, I thought it would be obvious, but I would like to clarify just in case it wasn’t. In a key sentence in my remarks I said the word would instead of wouldn’t. The sentence should have been, “I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t,” or “why it wouldn’t be Russia.”* So just to repeat it, I said the word would instead of wouldn’t. And the sentence should have been, and I thought I would be maybe a little bit unclear on the transcript or unclear on the actual video [ed.: ?], the sentence should have been, “I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia.” So sort of a double negative. So you can put that in, and I think that probably clarifies things pretty good by itself.
*Whatever the sentence was.  Does somebody have a transcript?

And then the original quote, in context:

So let me just say we have two thoughts. We have groups that are wondering why the FBI never took the server. Why haven’t they taken the server? Why was the FBI told to leave the office of the Democratic National Committee? I’ve been wondering that. I’ve been asking that for months and months and tweeting it out and calling it out on social media. Where is the server? I want to know, where is the server, and what is the server saying? With that being said, all I can do is ask the question, my people came to me, [director of national intelligence] Dan Coats came to me, and some others, they said, they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin. He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this. I don’t see any reason why it would be, but I really do want to see the server, but I have—I have confidence in both parties. I really believe that this will probably go on for a while, but I don’t think it can go on without finding out what happened to the server. What happened to the servers of the Pakistani gentleman that worked on the DNC. Where are those servers? They’re missing. Where are they? What happened to Hillary Clinton’s e-mails? 33,000 e-mails gone, just gone. I think in Russia they wouldn’t be gone so easily. I think it’s a disgrace we can’t get Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 e-mails. So I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today. And what he did, is an incredible offer. He offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators, with respect to the 12 people. I think that’s an incredible offer. 

Yeah, just change that word, "clarifies things pretty good by itself."  On his planet, anyway.

Oh, and his prepared remarks said he accepted the conclusions of his intelligence services.  He added it could be other people, too; not just Russians.  "Plenty of people out there."  And he added again, that there was no collusion.

He really has no clue when to stop.  Then again:  his planet, his rules.

Monday, July 16, 2018

"The last will be first and the first last."--Matthew 20:16

The man being interviewed in the radio story said he was the pastor of Primera Iglesia Bautista in Galax, Virginia.  He said he was against "illegal" immigrants because he and the people he knew had worked hard to get to America, and it wasn't right to let other people enjoy more easily the privileges he had earned.

He also said he was torn, because some people he knew, people he called "family" in the largest sense of the word, were not strictly legal in their presence in this country.  Nonetheless, he made me think of this parable:

For heaven's imperial rule is like a proprietor who went out the first thing in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard.  After agreeing with the workers for a silver coin a day he sent them into the vineyard.

And coming out around 9 a.m. he saw others loitering in the marketplace, and he said to them 'You go into the vineyard too, and I'll pay you whatever is fair.'  So they went.

Around noon he went out again, and at 3 p.m., and repeated the process.  About 5 p.m. he went out and found others loitering about and says to them, 'Why did you stand here idle the whole day?'

They reply, 'Because no one hired us.'

He tells them, 'You go into the vineyard as well.'

When evening came the owner of the vineyard tells his foreman:  'Call the workers and pay them their wages starting with those hired last and ending with those hired first.'

Those hired at 5 p.m. came up and received a silver coin each.  Those hired first approached thinking they would receive more.  But they also got a silver coin apiece.  They took it and began to grumble against the proprietor.  'These guys hired last worked only an hour but you have made them equal to us who did most of the work during the heat of the day.'

In response he said to one of them, 'Look, pal, did I wrong you?  You did agree with me for a silver coin, didn't you?  Take your wage and get out!  I intend to treat the one hired last the same way I treat you.  Is there some law forbidding me to do with my money as I please?  Or is your eye filled with envy because I am generous?'  (Matthew 20:1-15, SV)

It's the last line that's the lesson; well, part of the lesson.  I love the parables.  They don't comfort us.  They challenge us.  We are too prone to be comfortable; we are better off challenged.

Donald J. Trump is a very stable genius

The President of the United States:

“I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today,” President  Trump said.

Well, who are you gonna believe?  17 U.S. intelligence agencies and the indictment of 25 Russians by the U.S. Justice Department?  Or a former KGB agent who has a lot to gain by denying that the government he heads did anything nefarious to interfere with U.S. elections?

I wonder if he looked into Putin's soul while they were alone.

“We can no longer completely rely on the White House,” Heiko Maas told the Funke newspaper group. “To maintain our partnership with the USA we must readjust it. The first clear consequence can only be that we need to align ourselves even more closely in Europe.”

He added: “Europe must not let itself be divided however sharp the verbal attacks and absurd the tweets may be.”

“Can I just disagree slightly?” began Wallace. “I think the bar was even lower than what you describe. All he had to do was not put on jammies and crawl under the covers with Vladimir Putin and he couldn’t do that. He didn’t have to push back at all for his supporters and all the Republicans we put up before to simply give him a pass. He didn’t even meet his own low bar for not screwing this up.”
And it all comes down to Trump's fragile ego:

“Russia is not our friend. Russia attempted to undermine the fundamentals of our democracy, impugn the reliability of the 2016 election, and sow the seeds of discord among Americans. Our intelligence community, including the current one, concluded this, as did the Majority House Intelligence Committee report, as did our fellow Americans who served on grand juries which returned true bills on two separate occasions. I am confident former CIA Director and current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, DNI Dan Coats, Ambassador Nikki Haley, FBI Director Chris Wray, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and others will be able to communicate to the President it is possible to conclude Russia interfered with our election in 2016 without delegitimizing his electoral success.” 
Yeah, if we can just pry those steel balls out of his hands and replace the strawberry ice cream, Captain Queeg will be alright, I tell ya!
So mote it be.

Darkness at Noon

Ezra Klein has an interesting analysis of Trump and Russian collusion which conclusively proves one thing:  Ezra Klein is way too young to remember Watergate.

Donald Segretti.  Charles Coulson.  H.R. Haldeman.  G. Gordon Liddy.  Jeb Stuart Magruder.  John Ehrlichmann.  Those were some of the players in that scandal, people largely forgotten now.  Today you hear John Dean's name, and Nixon's, of course.  But the scandal started with indictments of underlings, people who committed crimes that didn't connect them to the White House, though they should have been connected because they were.  Nixon maintained plausible deniability even as Haldeman, Ehrlichmann, John Mitchell (Nixon's AG), Colson, Gordon Strachan, Robert Mardian, and Kenneth Parkinson were indicted for obstructing the Watergate investigation (sound vaguely familiar, that?).  Two things finally proved too much for Nixon's defense that he was surrounded by crooks but clean himself:  the Saturday Night Massacre, and the White House Tapes.

I remember the former as the dividing point between friends who said now Nixon looked guilty, and friends who said it proved nothing (and, strictly speaking, it didn't.  VERY strictly speaking, but still....).  I had a copy of the transcripts of the tapes.  The bigger shock was that they existed.  The lesser shock was how the President cursed like a sailor on shore leave in the Oval Office.  And what the tapes proved? can read about it now on Wikipedia and any number of websites that bring the story together.  I had to watch "All the President's Men" to get a sense of what really had happened.  It was all too complicated and too full of names of people no one had ever heard of doing jobs no one really understood (some for the White House, some for CREEP (Committee to Re-Elect the President; you can't make this stuff up).).  So, as Ezra argues, we had the information, and no, there never was a fact point or a story which crystallized the entire debacle and turned on a system of legal justice which led to....well, Ford's pardon.  In the long run, Ford (who was a feckless POTUS) led to Carter, who led directly to Reagan, and the line to Trump is a clear one.

So there you are.  Justice is not the straightforward process you might wish it to be, even when it's straightforward enough to get rid of a President.  Would a trial of Nixon have been any better?  Yeah, probably not.

Klein's argument is:  "The big issue, at this point, isn’t what we don’t know; it’s that we have no idea what to do with what we do know."  He's not wrong.  We didn't know what to do with Nixon, either.  In a sense, we still don't.  But Klein goes on to argue the same result will result because the political system doesn't desire justice, just power:

Congressional Republicans know their future is tied to Trump’s survival. Anything that weakens his administration weakens their 2018 reelection prospects, their ability to fill judgeships, their ability to pass tax cuts. Their political lives depend on Trump’s political strength.

While it’s an interesting counterfactual to imagine the way the GOP would be reacting if all of these revelations were attached to President Bernie Sanders’s 2016 campaign, it is fantasy to imagine they will do anything save protect Trump to the best of their ability.

Congressional Democrats don’t have the power to do anything right now, and as such are focused on taking back Congress in 2018. But even if they win the election, their priority will turn to retaking the presidency in 2020, and that’s going to mean focusing on health care and Social Security, not Russia and the 2016 campaign.

For that precise reason, the 2018 and 2020 elections cannot and will not act as a clear vehicle for accountability on Trump and Russia. From Supreme Court justices to tax policy to Obamacare’s future to environmental regulations, there is too much at stake in any given election, and there are too few choices available to voters, for them to answer a problem as complex and unusual as this one.

As for the rest of the legal system, keep in mind: There’s nothing necessarily illegal about Donald Trump publicly asking Russia to hack the Clinton campaign’s emails, just as there’s nothing illegal about him pursuing a stunningly pro-Putin foreign policy in the aftermath of receiving Russia’s aid. The actual hacking of the emails was illegal, but who’s going to hold Russia accountable for it? The Trump administration that asked for, and benefited from, their help?

The ridiculousness of both the question and the answer makes the point. Mueller’s indictments were announced just before Trump and Putin’s summit, and it first led to talk of whether Trump might cancel the meeting (of course he didn’t), and then speculation over whether and how he might confront Putin over Russia’s actions.

But everyone knows that Trump’s actual response to Russia’s intervention on his behalf has been gratitude and solicitousness — what other response is there to a world power doing exactly what you asked of them in a time of political need?

Now, part of that conclusion rests on the assumption we know all there is to know about Trump's actions, and that they don't amount to any violation of Federal criminal law.  Klein is not a lawyer, and I am, but even I would not presume to understand Federal criminal law enough to positively assert that conclusion.  So that's one problem; the other problem is a bit larger, and it's being undermined even now by the reaction to Trump's press conference with Putin today.

1 is still only 1, and nothing will happen to Trump before November; but still, this press conference seems to be a catalyst for something:
That would make an interesting study.  Maybe Rick Wilson could conduct it:
And David Axelrod is almost moved to be uncivil:
Even Neal Cavuto doesn't seem to know what to do with it:

“This had gotta be the most incredible thing I ever witnessed,” the host said during a Fox Business interview following the summit. He compared Putin’s proposed quid pro quo — an “exchange [of] information from each side’s accused hackers” — to a perpetrator helping firefighters investigate an arson.

“I don’t know,” Cavuto continued. “I’ll give the benefit of the doubt to maybe jet lag and time differences.”

“But holy moly,” he added.
Joe Walsh knows what to do:

As soon as the press conference was over, Anderson Cooper told his audience:
“You’ve been watching perhaps the most disgraceful performances by an American president in front of a Russian leader that I’ve ever seen,” the host said.
If the Democrats do win the Congress and are only concerned with getting a Democrat into the White House in 2020, they will simply set us up for the next Ronald Reagan in 2024.  History doesn't repeat itself, they say, but it does rhyme.  Rhyme, however, is a form of repetition.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Almost cut his hair, too

An enduring example of immigrants 
ruining European culture

So Trump crossed the Pond and let his racist freak flag fly:

But in a controversial outburst, he added: “I think what has happened to Europe is a shame.

“Allowing the immigration to take place in Europe is a shame.

“I think it changed the fabric of Europe and, unless you act very quickly, it’s never going to be what it was and I don’t mean that in a positive way.

“So I think allowing millions and millions of people to come into Europe is very, very sad.

“I think you are losing your culture. Look around. You go through certain areas that didn’t exist ten or 15 years ago.”
He might as well attack the Jews as well as the Muslims (who ruled what is now Spain for centuries) while he's at it.  Just go whole hog, ya know.

Is there any question left about his immigration policies in this country?  Although I will note that  CNN, and Slate all focused on his comments about Brexit and May, while Huffington Post went with the racism.   Well, the Grey Lady and WaPo both headlined the personal story, too ("What Donald Said About Teresa!"); Trump's racism is not really worth commenting on anymore, I guess.

That or it's the new love that dare not speak its name.  You decide.   NPR decided to mention it, but only after a longer discussion of Trump's slight to Teresa May (the headline on the article would lead you to believe otherwise, oddly):

HORSLEY: This is exactly the reason that the president is being met with, you know, protest balloons in the city of London. But he then broadened this out to sort of a nativist attack on immigration and the effect it's having throughout Europe.


TRUMP: I think what's happened to Europe is a shame. I think the immigration - allowing the immigration to take place in Europe is a shame. I think it changed the fabric of Europe. And unless you act very quickly, it's never going to be what it was. And I don't mean that in a positive way.

HORSLEY: Now, this of course is not terribly different than the argument that the president makes about illegal immigration in this country.

CHANG: Do we know anything about how this interview came to be? Was it a long time in planning? Do we have any information about it?

HORSLEY: Well, it doesn't appear to have been an ambush interview. It seems to be, you know, something where the president sat down and spoke at some length with the interviewer from The Sun. It's not unusual when a president is visiting another country to do an interview to sort of lay the groundwork for the diplomatic talks that are going to go on.

CHANG: Sure.

HORSLEY: It is unusual, though, to have that interview sort of laced with hand grenades that are sure to create some awkward scenes tomorrow.

CHANG: That's NPR's Scott Horsley. Thank you very much, Scott.

The highlighted portion is worth noting, but Chang's response is to ask why this interview saw the light of day, not why Trump is so nakedly racist when he's overseas.  As for lacing it with hand grenades, NPR is too gentlemanly to mention who did that.  "Nativist" is a polite touch, too.

Same as it ever was, I guess.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Been there, done that

Remember that summit?  Yeah, none of that happened:

As U.S. intelligence agencies reported that North Korea showed no signs of giving up its nuclear program and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo found a barren reception in Pyongyang, President Donald Trump indulged in his favorite source of comfort — Twitter. “I have confidence that Kim Jong Un will honor the contract we signed &, even more importantly, our handshake,” Trump declared, trying to prop up the narrative of success he has sold ever since his historic summit in Singapore with the North Korean leader on June 12. “We agreed to the denuclearization of North Korea. China, on the other hand, may be exerting negative pressure on a deal because of our posture on Chinese Trade-Hope Not!”

But there is no legally binding contract and no agreement. There is only a handshake and a vague 400-word summit statement that papers over huge disagreements about the meaning of denuclearization and what sequence of steps is required to defuse U.S.-North Korea tensions. And while Beijing is being unhelpful, not least because of Trump’s rash trade war with China, in the end Trump has nobody to blame for the dead end but himself.
Trump spent two days in Singapore (one day so bored he wanted to do the meeting that day, and get it over with), declared victory, and went home to his charred steaks and Big Macs.  Even Secretary of State Pompeo says nothing is happening with North Korea that wasn't happening before that summit. And one day ago Trump was saying about NATO:

Well, today he declares that NATO has bent to his will and he leaves for England trailing clouds of glory.  Except President Macron, playing the role of Justin Trudeau this time, says that never happened:

Is Trump going to contradict Macron?  No, because then Trump would have his bluff called.  He would have to put up or shut up.  And Donald Trump never shuts up; nor does he ever put up.  He declares victory and runs from the disaster he has caused, before he can be responsible for the catastrophe his mouth worked so hard to create.  Having pissed all over NATO, he now wants to revel in the pomp and circumstance it provided him:

Trump doesn't want to destroy anything; he just wants to be sure all the attention is on him.  So he goes to Brussels, spits in the eye of Germany over breakfast, tweets during meetings (or his staff did for him) about how NATO sux and the U.S. was stupid before he, the Truly Stupid Man, got here, and then when it's time to fish or cut bait, he leaves.  He doesn't even care what chaos he causes, he just cares that he can claim to have fixed the chaos he caused.  He did it in North Korea (why is Kim no longer "Little Rocket Man"?), now he's done it in Brussels.  He's not arguing with Macron the way he did with Trudeau because NATO is a bit more serious a player than the G7 is, and Trump knows the difference.  Ultimately he won't fuck with NATO; but he will declare himself NATO's savior, despite the fact he's the one who put NATO at risk in the first place.

He'll always walk up the edge of the cliff.  He will never go over it, because that would be a danger to him.  He will always walk back, and declare victory over the cliff.  It's his psychodrama; he just drags the rest of the world into it.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

He Goes Off His Meds When He's Out of Town

Preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution and the laws of the United States?  That promise ring a bell?  And they're the ones "using children"?  Yeah, that deflects.
What does Russian gas have to do with Germany's support of NATO?  And the U.S. is paying for Europe's protection?  Most of those military bases support U.S. actions in the Middle East and Africa.  As Commander in Chief you've been briefed on that, right?  Besides, no country in NATO is going to pay 2% of it's GDP to the U.S.  You understand that, too, right?
(Yeah, he originally wrote "LAYER".  Unless it's his staff again, trying to write stupid to make ir more, you know, authentic.  It'll probably be corrected soon, unless that staff thing is right.)  Again, it's that legal system you don't seem to understand.  Nunes could enforce the subpoena, but so far he hasn't.  There are actually rules about how all this is done.  Reality is not a TV show, ya know.

Or do you?

"History is Bunk!"

I have this to say about this Pew Poll: a) it skews young; b) it skews conservative; c) it skews toward hype.  Young because Obama wins it walking away.  Hype (and conservative) because JFK, who basically avoided nuclear war in the Cuban Missile Crisis and then died and left a beautiful widow, comes out much better than LBJ, who passed:  the Civil Rights Act; the Voting Rights Act; Medicare.  Those three alone put him in the ranks of FDR as one of our most transformative and important legislation Presidents.  He appointed Thurgood Marshall to the Supreme Court, the first African-American to sit on that bench (Clarence Thomas is only the second.  So much winning!).  Let me just continue this by quoting from a speech by Joseph Califano:

Today, as we celebrate LBJ’s 100th anniversary some forty years after he left office, eleven of the twelve programs that OEO launched are alive and well--and funded at an annual rate exceeding eleven billion dollars. Head Start, Job Corps, Community Health Centers, Foster Grandparents, Upward Bound (now part of the Trio Program in the Department of Education), Green Thumb (now Senior Community Service Employment), Indian Opportunities (now in the Labor Department), and Migrant Opportunities (now Seasonal Worker Training and Migrant Education) are all helping people stand on their own two feet.

Community Action (now the Community Service Block Grant program), VISTA Volunteers and Legal Services are putting power in the hands of individuals—down at the grassroots. The grassroots that these programs fertilize just don’t produce the manicured laws that conservatives prefer. Of all the Great Society programs started in the Office of Economic Opportunity, only the Neighborhood Youth Corps has been abandoned—in 1974, after enrolling more than 5 million individuals.

Ronald Reagan quipped that Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty and poverty won. He was wrong. When LBJ took office, 22.2 percent of Americans were living in poverty. When he left five years later, only 13 percent were living below the poverty line—the greatest one-time reduction in poverty in our nation’s history.

I suspect most people who think LBJ wasn't so great also think Reagan was the greatest President of their lifetime.  Hype, as I said, covers so many sins.  Speaking of Reagan, he of the "trees cause pollution" nonsense, what about the environment and national parks under Johnson?

Theodore Roosevelt launched the modern environmental movement by setting aside public lands and national parks and giving voice to conservation leaders like Gifford Pinchot. If Teddy Roosevelt launched the movement, Lyndon Johnson drove it forward more than any later president—and in the process, in 1965, he introduced an entirely new concept of conservation: “We must not only protect the countryside and save it from destruction,” he said, “we must restore what has been destroyed and salvage the beauty and charm of our cities. Our conservation must be not just the classic conservation of protection and development, but a creative conservation of restoration and innovation.”

That new environmental commandment spelled out the first inconvenient truth: that those who reap the rewards of modern technology must also pay the price of their industrial pollution. It inspired a legion of Great Society laws: the Clean Air, Water Quality and Clean Water Restoration Acts and Amendments, the 1965 Solid Waste Disposal Act, the 1965 Motor Vehicle Air Pollution Control Act, and the 1968 Aircraft Noise Abatement Act. It also provided the rationale for later laws creating the Environmental Protection Agency and the Superfund.

Johnson created 35 national parks, 32 within easy driving distance of large cities. The 1968 Wild and Scenic Rivers Act today protects 165 river segments in 38 states and Puerto Rico. The 1968 National Trail System Act has established more than 1,000 recreation, scenic and historic trails covering close to 55,000 miles. No wonder National Geographic calls Lyndon Johnson “our greatest conservation president.”
This is going to get exhausting, but let's go on to the arts:

What would cultural life in America be like without the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, where each year two million visitors view performances that millions more watch on television, or without the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden that attracts 750,000 visitors annually? Both are Great Society initiatives.

The National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities are fulfilling a dream Johnson expressed when he asked Congress to establish them and for the first time, to provide federal financial support for the arts to increase “the access of our people to the works of our artists, and [to recognize] the arts as part of the pursuit of American greatness.”

LBJ used to say that he wanted fine theater and music available throughout the nation, and not just on Broadway and at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. In awarding more than 130,000 grants totaling more than four billion dollars since 1965, the Endowment for the Arts has spawned art councils in all 50 states and more than 1,400 professional theater companies, 120 opera companies, 600 dance companies and 1,800 professional orchestras. Since 1965, the Endowment for the Humanities has awarded 65,000 fellowships and grants totaling more than four billion dollars.

Johnson established the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to create public television and public radio which have given the nation countless hours of fine arts, superb in-depth news coverage, and programs like “Sesame Street” and “Masterpiece Theater.” Now some say there is no need for public radio and television, with so many cable channels and radio stations. But as often as you surf with your TV remote or twist your radio dial, you are not likely to find the kind of quality broadcasting that marks the more than 350 public television and nearly 700 public radio stations that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting supports today. They, as well as the rest of the media, have been helped by the Freedom of Information Act, the Great Society’s contribution to greater transparency in government.

No, really, you're going to wish I'd stopped:

For urban America, LBJ drove through Congress the Urban Mass Transit Act, which gave San Franciscans BART, Washingtonians Metro, Atlantans MARTA, and cities across America thousands of buses and modernized transit systems. His 1968 Housing Act, the creation of Ginnie Mae, the privatization of Fannie Mae and the establishment of the Department of Housing and Urban Development have helped some 75 million families gain access to affordable housing.

In the progressive tradition in which Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt confronted huge financial and corporate enterprises, Johnson faced a nationalization of commercial power that had the potential to disadvantage the individual American consumer. Super-corporations were shoving aside the corner grocer, local banker, independent drug store and family farmer. Automobiles were complex and dangerous, manufactured by giant corporations with deep pockets to protect themselves. Banks had the most sophisticated accountants and lawyers to draft their loan agreements. Sellers of everyday products—soaps, produce, meats, appliances, clothing, cereal and canned and frozen foods—packaged their products with the help of the shrewdest marketers and designers. The individual was outflanked at every position.

Seeing that mismatch, Johnson pushed through Congress a bevy of laws to level the playing field for consumers: auto and highway safety for the motorist; a Department of Transportation and National Transportation Safety Board; truth in packaging for the housewife; truth in lending for the homebuyer, small businessman and individual borrower; wholesome meat and wholesome poultry laws to enhance food safety; the Flammable Fabrics Act to reduce the incendiary characteristics of clothing and blankets.

He created the Product Safety Commission to assure that toys and other products would be safe for users.

When he got over his annoyance that it took him five minutes to find me in the emergency room of George Washington University Hospital, with my three-year-old son Joe who had swallowed a bottle of aspirin, he proposed the Child Safety Act—which is why today we all have such difficulty opening up medicine bottles.

And I should include this, seeing as our President now is a xenophobic racist:

For almost half a century, the nation’s immigration laws established restrictive and discriminatory quotas that favored blond and blue-eyed Western Europeans. With the Immigration Reform Act of 1965, LBJ scrapped that quota system and put substance behind the Statue of Liberty’s welcoming words, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” This Great Society legislation refreshed our nation with the revitalizing energies of immigrants from south of our border, from southern and eastern Europe, from Asia and Africa, converting America into the most multi-cultural nation in the history of the world and uniquely positioning our population for the twenty-first century world of new economic powers. In the year before Immigration Reform was passed, only 2,600 immigrants were admitted from Africa, less than 25,000 from Asia and 105,000 from Central and South America. With the lifting of the quotas, in 2006, 110,000 immigrants were admitted from Africa, more than 400,000 from Asia and 525,000 from Central and South America. I can’t see LBJ eating at an Ethiopian or sushi restaurant, but I can see him tapping into the intellectual acumen, diversity and energy of this new wave of immigrants.
And this, since we think children should do janitorial work to earn their school taxes, and Medicaid recipients should pay back what we give them:

Closely related to LBJ’s Great Society health programs were his initiatives to reduce malnutrition and hunger. Today, the Food Stamp program helps feed some 27 million men, women and children in 12 million households. The School Breakfast program has served more than 30 billion breakfasts to needy children.

Oh, and it wasn't just Medicare he established:

The Heart, Cancer and Stroke legislation has provided funds to create centers of medical excellence in just about every major city—from Seattle to Houston, Miami to Cleveland, Atlanta to Minneapolis. To staff these centers, the Health Professions Educational Assistance Act provided resources to double the number of doctors graduating from medical schools and increase the pool of specialists, researchers, nurses and paramedics.

Without these programs and Great Society investments in the National Institutes of Health, would our nation be the world’s leader in medical research? In pharmaceutical invention? In creation of surgical procedures and medical machinery to diagnose our diseases, breathe for us, clean our blood, transplant our organs, scan our brains? In the discovery of ingenious prosthetic devices that enable so many of our severely wounded soldiers to function independently?

Tired yet?  And I left out what he did for education.  Remember, that was all in 5 years.  Imagine if Vietnam hadn't been his Waterloo, and he'd won another four years.

Let me ask you:  The President who did the best job in our lifetimes is Obama?  Well, I guess so; but if you're that young, get offa mah lawn, ya punks!  And if you're as old as me and still think Reagan and JFK rank higher, I have nothing more to say to you.

Goddam punk kids don't know nuthin'!