14 August 2017

Update no.815

Update from the Heartland
7.8.17 – 13.8.17

            To all,
            The follow-up news items:
-- According to the Wall Street Journal, Special Counsel Robert Mueller sought and gained judicial approval for a no-knock warrant on the Alexandria, Virginia, home of Paul John Manafort, Jr. [761, 766], President Trump's former campaign chairman (three months), to obtain documents and other material.  In the early morning hours of July 26th, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents executed the search warrant – a day after Manafort met with the staff of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

            Oh heck, let’s throw out all our traditions.  After all, they are simple relics of the past – no meaning, no value.
“Kill the Filibuster Before It’s Too Late – Bills pass the House, only to die of neglect in the Senate.”
by Andy Biggs
Wall Street Journal
Published: Aug. 6, 2017; 4:41 p.m. ET
His opening two sentences were:
The greatest obstacle blocking Republicans from fulfilling our agenda is not manufactured outrage about Russians. It’s the Senate filibuster, the 60-vote threshold to suspend debate that prevents most bills from making it to the floor.
I know more than a few subscribers to this humble forum have long advocated for this exact action and for predominately the same reason.  I continue to respectfully disagree.  Biggs’ statement and opinion ignores the history and reality of the Founders/Framers intention in creating our form of government and even the two-chamber legislature.  They knew the best approach to lessen the likelihood of the oppression of the majority or even the potential for the oppression by a willful minority was through compromise – inducing negotiation between conflicting factions.  It is not a perfect system and it has failed, e.g., 1860; however, it is the best system to induce compromise.  In essence, Biggs is saying, screw compromise, we must dictate to the majority.  I must ask, are we witnessing the dissolution of this Grand Republic?  I say Biggs is wrong.  I also say, hopefully, we will eventually have enough of this intransigence and rejection of the magnificence of this Grand Republic, and grow up to realize the vision of the Founders.

            On Tuesday, President Trump issued the following public statement from Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, on his “working” vacation:
North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States.  They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.   He has been very threatening, beyond a normal state, and as I said they will be met with the fire and fury and, frankly, power, the likes of which this world has never seen before.”
Senator John McCain of Arizona responded to Trump’s “fire and fury” statement with his own public statement:
I take exception to the President's comments because you've got to be sure that you can do what you say you're going to do.  The great leaders I've seen don't threaten unless they're ready to act and I'm not sure President Trump is ready to act.
I join McCain in his exception to Trump’s statement.
            Trump really should have studied history just a little more, or paid attention in school a smidge longer.  The President’s statement was quite reminiscent of another public presidential statement 72 years ago.
Let there be no mistake, we shall completely destroy Japan’s power to make war.  It was to spare the Japanese people from utter destruction that the ultimatum of July the 26th was issued at Potsdam.  Their leaders promptly rejected that ultimatum.  If they do not now accept our terms, they may expect a rain of ruin from the air the likes of which the world has never seen on this earth.  Behind this air attack will follow sea and land forces in such numbers and power as they have not yet seen, and with the fighting skills of which they are already well aware. We have spent two billion dollars on the greatest scientific gamble in history—and we have won.
OK.  The world witnessed the destruction wrought by two, 20KT nuclear weapons, each one on a populated city.  So, President Trump is now suggesting he will resort to something more than those events to achieve his “world had never seen” boast.  What is more “fire and fury” than a 20 kiloton nuclear device?  Is he really suggesting he is going to resort to thermonuclear weapons to deal with a two-bit, tin pot dictator?
            Teddy Roosevelt pronounced, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”  Trump apparently dyslexically missed the “softly” qualifier and must have thought he saw the opposite adverb, i.e., loudly.
            I do share Trump’s criticism of “strategic patience” with respect to the DPRK, but more bluster and bravado are not the path forward.   What Trump has done is give Kim exactly what he seeks – attention and threat.  If he wanted to send Kim a message, President Trump would be better served convincing Congress to begin general mobilization – a vital and necessary action that Bush-43 failed to accomplish with disastrous results we are still living with today.

            Here is another one . . . I agree with President Trump – “Venezuela is a mess.”  The South American State has been a mess since the ascendency of Hugo Ch├ívez (1999).  How can a country with so much wealth become that screwed up?  One word – autocracy, or I could say perhaps communism or maybe socialism.  Trump is also correct that the military option exists and should exist in every situation, especially when diplomacy fails and the threat exceeds a tolerable threshold.  Where I depart from the President’s position is his failure to learn Teddy Roosevelt’s dictum (see above).  Sometimes, the best course is to leave the obvious un-said.  He volunteered without a reporter’s question or prompting that he is not taking a military option off the table.  He really did not need to state the obvious.  A military option should never be off the table, but his statement raises so many other questions.  He could have and should have addressed so many other aspects of the tragic Venezuelan situation without suggesting we might take military action in the South American country.  Really?  Why can’t he just read a little history – just a little?

            Neo-Nazis and white supremacists gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia, and held a torchlight rally, shouting “white lives matter.”  The symbolism of that contemporary event is not lost (30.1.1933).  The event started as a protest of the University of Virginia’s intention to remove a statute of General Robert E. Lee.  Oddly, I find myself somewhat in agreement with the protesters.  The general is not a symbol of an era of oppression as the flag of the Confederate States of America was 150 years ago.  I would strongly advise citizens who are advocating for the removal of the statute to find a good history book or two and learn more about Lee and the personal struggle he had with the split as well as his part in the process.
            Then, the demonstration turned violent, and a self-proclaimed Trump supporter decided to ram his automobile into a group of counter-protesters, killing a woman and injuring 30 others.  According to the man’s mother, he drove to Charlottesville from Ohio to be a part of a Trump rally.  Then, Trump made a rather tepid condemnation of the violence “on many sides” without specifically naming what happened in Charlottesville.  He had and has no problem calling out “radical Islamic terrorism,” but he has consistent had considerable difficulty calling out “white supremacist terrorism.”  I really wonder why that is so?
            I really never thought I would say this, but I absolutely agree with Senator ‘Ted’ Cruz of Texas in criticizing President Trump’s halfhearted condemnation of what happened in Charlottesville this week.
The Nazis, the KKK, and white supremacists are repulsive and evil, and all of us have a moral obligation to speak out against the lies, bigotry, anti-Semitism, and hatred that they propagate.”
Spot on, ‘Ted.’

            Continuation from Update no.813:
“Watch this Rush segment re: Obama wanting the military to buy their own insurance.
 . . . this is actually round five from last week . . . my reply:
            I must confess I reached for the delete button when it was apparent that ‘Ralph’ was his source.  I went on to research the CNN article Rush cited and sure enough, he was correct.  That option was considered back in the early days of the Obama administration.  I found no evidence it reached Capital Hill and legislative language.  If it had, I would have been a vociferous opponent.  Such an action would be wrong in many ways.
            FDR seriously attempted to stack the Supreme Court with additional, more supportive justices in the mid-30’s.  That was a really bonehead thing to do.  Does that make FDR a bad president?
 . . . Round six:
“By the way the ACA does not serve the elite as you said in your email today ... it strictly serves the poor .. they get totally free healthcare while the upper, mid and lower middle class such as [my adult daughter], pay high premiums to cover the poor... the upper class elite do not use Obamacare.. they have their own private insurance .. they are not part of the ACA Obamacare base.  This is what Trump supporters from the beginning, have been clamoring about ... it's the MIDDLE class that is hurting!!!”
 . . . my reply to round six:
            I did not intend to imply that it did.  The PPACA has very little, if any, effect on the wealthy.  What I was trying to say is, without some sort of health insurance, only the monied elite could afford proper health care.  I know that is true several times over in our case.
            I do not dispute your assessment.  Yet, with health insurance, as with all insurance, a broad spectrum of participation is required to “spread the risk” and lower premiums.  Add in the uncertainty of government subsidies for the poor that Congress and the Trump administration have perpetuated and amplified, e.g., let PPACA “fail,” premiums must go up to cover the risks as they calculate their exposure.  Uncertainty NEVER improves the insurance market.  Yes, I agree, those who do not have access to broader health plans and must pay for their insurance themselves, the consequences of all this uncertainty must be very painful.
 . . . Round seven:
“One remark below ... pardon the bold print .. just wanted it to be more visible .. I'm not yelling!  :)
[As noted directly above: capitalization below was not for emphasis, rather it was only notation for illumination, and I confess to my laziness in not re-typing the contribution.]
 . . . my reply to round seven:
            If any president says such things in today’s society, I would disagree and object.
            This is typical misogynistic exaggeration quite like the whole North Carolina restroom issue or women in general in the military.  I do agree with you, medical sexual reassignment surgery is NOT part of military service and should not / must not ever be included in medical coverage for military personnel.  I have seen no evidence such expenditures are being carried out.  If they are, they must be stopped immediately as outside the scope of the service contract.
            What is missing from this whole kerfuffle, including your response, is Trump’s edict did not focus on the medical coverage issue; it banned ALL transgender citizens, including those who may have already had and paid for their gender reassignment surgery.
            The issue of military service must be based on performance to a reasonable set of standards necessary for any particular occupational specialty.  The qualifications for an infantryman are and should be different from an admin clerk.  What bits a citizen has between the legs has absolutely nothing to do with performance, i.e., genitalia are NOT part of the performance equation.  In fact, I contend none of the social factors should be considered in qualifications for military service.
            Trump’s ban was far too broad, unfocused and unqualified; thus, my objection.

            Comments and contributions from Update no.814:
Comment to the Blog:
“Robert Mueller’s use of the grand jury process will be interesting.  Mueller might be aiming at the phrase ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ that applies to impeachments, or he could have other ends in mind.
“I heartily agree that the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) should be investigated separately from Trump.  I gather it’s not being reported widely, but a lawsuit continues over the DNC’s machinations in the 2016 primaries.  The information about that comes directly from Clinton’s and other DNC servers.  As with Trump, an investigation of her funding sources has some possibility of revealing further wrongdoing.  As you point out, neither side’s misconduct excuses the other from scrutiny or consequences.
“Kansans surely will breathe a sigh of relief at Brownback’s departure, but putting him in a position involving religious freedom has upset non-Christians, as well it might.
“One of your other commenters refers to the ‘liberal extremist left’ and then lists Obama, Reid, Pelosi, Clinton and others as examples.  Those people are not even on the left, much less extremists.  They are examples of centrist, corporate Democrats.  Bernie Sanders, Nina Turner, and I are leftists.  I suspect your correspondent has very poor sources of information, perhaps deliberately.
“While I will not attempt to discuss everything others brought up, there is a curiosity here. The one who wrote that list brought up an issue the left discusses.  That is Debbie Wasserman Schultz (DWS), a former DNC chair who should be back in the news now. Among other things, DWS used an IT person, Imran Awan, who has been arrested as he attempted to flee the U.S.  It’s an interesting story:
My response to the Blog:
            Re: “Mueller’s use of the grand jury process.”  Indeed!  Although the no-knock search warrant executed on Manafort’s apartment late last month suggests Mueller’s first clear target may be unrelated (or related perhaps) financial crimes rather than Russian meddling in our election process.  Mueller is a smart, skilled prosecutor.  I suspect by now he has a fairly clear view of the culprits, their crimes and their accomplices.  I hope this investigation plays out to become a textbook model for future special prosecutor investigations, as opposed to the debacle that was the Starr investigation.
        I do not yet see any move to establish a special prosecutor for Hillary Clinton’s conduct, but I sure wish there were obvious signs.  I still believe the prima facie public facts and even her public statements offer strong (beyond a reasonable doubt) evidence that she violated the federal Presidential Recordings Preservation Act [PL 93-526; 88 Stat. 1695; 19.12.1974] at a minimum, and I strongly suspect there were also violations in the classified (not public) domain.  Once she decided to mix personal and official communications on her private server, she forfeited whatever rights she may have had to privacy and ALL of her communications became public property; there were no private communications by definition.  Then, making matters worse, she confessed to destroying cell phones and hard drives unilaterally without independent archival review.  I will also join you in suspicion that her campaign (and perhaps personal) financing irregularities may well have violated the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 [PL 107-155; 116 Stat. 81; 27.3.2002], even as emasculated by the SCOTUS dictum in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission [558 U.S. 310 (2010)] [424].  Yes, an independent special prosecutor is warranted and justified.
            Re: “Brownback’s departure.”  Oh my, you got that right in spades.  Putting him in any official position should make everyone upset.  I am just selfishly glad he will be out of Kansas.  Non-Christian people of any faith should see this appointment with considerable skepticism and wariness.
            Re: “liberal extremist left.”  ‘Nuf said!
            Re: “DWS.”  We shall see how that plays out.  There are many curious elements in that one.

            My very best wishes to all.  Take care of yourselves and each other.
Cap                        :-)