Buyer’s Remorse

Number 14 in a series

At every opportunity I put up one of these to remind supporters of Donald Trump. To sink the shiv in a bit deeper. To smirk. To gloat. That was before. This is now. The game has run its course. I’m flagged out. My well has run dry. I have nothing left to contribute on the matter. Readers, take the rest of the year off.

Donald Trump has fired Anthony Scaramucci.

Don’t cry for me, Venezuela

Previously

 

This classic drama is drawing to its logical outcome:

Relying on a populist base for support, while continuing to ignore some basic economic and human rights principles, the Maduro government has rudely extended the fantasy world of the late Hugo Chávez. In close parallel to the Castro regime in Cuba, the ideologically-based rule in Venezuela has sent the country’s economy into a downward spiral. Only Chávez, and now Maduro, haven’t had somebody like the former Soviet Union to prop them up. As with the failing Cuba, the staggering Venezuela has cast about for somebody to blame. A villain is needed. For such as Mr. Maduro there is always one close at hand.

Taking over from the deceased Hugo Chávez over four years ago, designated survivor Nicolás Maduro has extended the Chávez legacy, one might say with a vengeance. The election held on Sunday had the clear intent of settling power solidly in Maduro’s grasp. Prior to the vote Mr. Maduro’s opponents controlled the national assembly, and he is seeking to reverse that. But the outcome may not be to his liking. The New York Times reports:

But the powers of the new assembly members will be so vast that they could possibly remove Mr. Maduro from office, some analysts noted, ending a presidency that has been deeply unpopular, even among many leftists.

Chávez, rode a populist movement to power, opposing the oligarchical political structure then in place, an echo of Venezuela’s, and much of Latin America’s, colonial history. He embraced socialistic reforms, generally wrong-headed, which produced an inexorable inward folding of the country’s economy. As Maduro continued these policies the situation in the country reached unbearable, with necessities disappearing from store shelves and people digging into trash heaps for something to eat. A response has been street protests and many killed:

Headlines about ongoing violence in Venezuela are practically inescapable, with at least 123 people dead since opposition-led protests aimed at toppling the government began in early April.

In addition to those killed, hundreds have been injured in the protests.

Other regional governments are becoming increasingly concerned. Chávezista sentiment is  prevalent among many:

Bolivian President Evo Morales on Thursday slammed ongoing right-wing opposition protests in Venezuela, claiming they serve the interests of multinational elites looking to privatize the country’s oil resources.

Morales also said foreign and domestic attacks against President Nicolas Maduro and the Bolivarian Revolution are intended to send a threatening message to anti-imperialist governments around the world.

“The plan of the empire is to overthrow the constitutional president elected by Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, as a warning to anti-imperialist governments,” Morales said.

“Any internal conspiracy or external intervention is intended to steal Venezuelan oil.”

Checking to see if there is any validity to the Evo conspiracy theory, I find this:

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence called Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez Friday “to address the dire situation in Venezuela,” as concern over U.S. interference in Venezuela’s internal affairs continues to grow.

In his phone conversation with Lopez, Pence praised “Mr. Lopez for his courage and outspoken defense of Venezuelan democracy,” according to the White House press statement.

A repressive government roiling an oil-rich country? The United States becomes suddenly aware? People at the top of our government weighing in and taking sides? Sanctions and what else under consideration? Where have we heard this before?

Disregarding Bolivia’s President Evo, there is a load of nonsupport for Maduro among countries south of the Rio Grande:

Eight Latin American nations, including Mexico, Argentina and Brazil, have collectively denounced Venezuela’s “excessive use of force” against civilian protesters after the death toll from anti-government unrest in the country rose to 36.

The group of nations, also including Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and Paraguay, condemned the increase in violence in the oil-producing country and urged its government to respect the human rights of its citizens.

Can we pull back a moment and see if other countries in the region will step up and work to quell this local brush fire? The drama will continue to play out, and there will be more. Keep reading.

Quiz Question

One of a continuing series

This week’s Quiz Question is a mixture of nostalgia, history, and language. Answer as many as you can. Post your answers in the comments section below.

  1. SNAFU is an acronym. What does it stand for?
  2. FUBAR is an acronym. What does it stand for?
  3. Where was Killroy?

Update and answers

These date back to the Second World War.

SNAFU (in dinner table language) stands for Situation Normal, All Fowled Up.

FUBAR stands for Fowled Up Beyond All Reason.

Killroy was always “here.” The simple drawing with the slogan, “Killroy was here,” adorned many a fighting vehicle and bunker of American forces.

Bad Movie of the Week

One of a series

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Amazon Prime Video. When desperate for a really bad movie to review, I can always count on Amazon to come through. Sometime in recent months a person at Amazon must have approached the keeper of the Motion Picture Historical Society (assuming there is such a society) celluloid vaults and said, “How would you like to unload a few tons of ancient stock?” Due to that, if you want it, Amazon’s got it. This one was originally incubated by E.I. Chadwick Productions, and the Amazon stream has an extra few seconds up front of the titles tipping to Weiss Global Enterprises as the distributor.

It’s Wayne Murder Case, without use of the definite article. Interestingly, Wikipedia, where I’m getting details, lists it as A Strange Adventure, with the alternative title The Wayne Murder Case, with the definite article. I’m going with what shows up when you play the movie, which you can for free on YouTube. This came out in 1932, about five years after they first added sound to movies.

And it shows. It shows an industry trying to find its footing and still trying to figure out how actors should speak their parts. Apparently sound pictures required more dialog than was fed to silent viewers, and industry writers were not up to the task of making the characters emote using their voices. The film comes off as a pantomime with words dubbed in.

Here’s a rundown of the plot.

The opening scene shows blatantly dishonest private secretary Claude Wayne (Eddie Phillips) opening a safe in somebody’s private study. He removes a copy of the owner’s will, peruses it in dismay, then places it back into the safe. Before closing the safe he substitutes a fake diamond for the very large real one that was there. Then his boss (and uncle), Silas Wayne (William V. Mong) comes in.

All right, this gets tricky. After Claude leaves Silas opens the safe and at one point notices a dried flower that had fallen from within the folds of the will onto the floor. Suspicious, Silas examines the diamond and figures it is fake. He summons Claude and accuses him of treachery. But Claude puts the real diamond back, and on a second examination Silas figures he was mistaken about his initial assessment. Then Claude makes the switch again and departs.

Silas, who is roundly disliked, has no children, but does have numerous heirs. All have been waiting in the large house to be summoned for the signing of the will. Silas, who “owns half the town,” summons two police to come to his house to witness what may be a crime (?). Here we see Harry Meyers as Officer Ryan and Eddie Chandler as Officer Kelly (I can’t tell which is which) getting out of their police car in front of the Wayne mansion. Watching this for the first time I wondered at the ability of the studio to incorporate this vintage piece of road iron. But then I realized this was likely a vehicle borrowed off the dealer’s lot back in 1932.

Anyhow, everybody, including the two police officers, attends the reading and signing of the will. They also witness Silas Wayne getting murdered right in front of their eyes, and nobody can figure out who did it.

First come’s police Detective-Sergeant Mitchell (Regis Toomey). Then arrives a gaggle of reporters, among which is one named “Nosey” Toodles (June Clyde). She sneaks into the house to scoop the other reporters, and Mitchell cannot find it in himself to get rid of her.

Amazingly, a credited actor is Snowflake playing the part of Jeff, the butler. Don’t you just love those movies from 80 years ago when a bowing and scraping subservient character needed to be played by a black man who comes off as illiterate, stupid, and superstitious?  I’m impressed he received credit right up front in the titles sequence. His real name was Fred Toones.

Because of the sheer number of movies in which he appeared, Toones is one of the most prolific character faces in B-Westerns and cliffhangers. He appeared in over 200 films between 1928 and 1951; and between 1936 and 1947, Toones worked under contract for Republic Pictures, appearing in about 40 of its films.

He died in 1962. I hope he enjoyed the money in the meantime.

To heighten suspense, it is found necessary to  introduce a nefarious character who lurks about the house terrorizing people.

Anyhow, Detective-Sergeant Mitchell solves the case, but not before one additional person is murdered. Watch it on YouTube or Amazon if you want to find out who done it.

Bad Joke of the Week

One of a continuing series

Two women took a night off from their husbands and went clubbing. After a night of swigging at the bar, they realized neither was in any shape to drive, so they hoofed it home. Passing a grave yard they both realized they needed to pee really bad. The grave yard was an obvious choice.

They went there separate ways among the monuments and the first one used her panties to wipe, then threw them away. The second realized she was wearing her $100 set from Victoria’s Secret, so she fished around behind her for something else. Her hand found a scrap of paper, and she used that.

They both made it home all right, and both slept in, while their husbands got together for some golf.

“Did Martha make it back all right last night?” one asked.

“Fine, as far as I can tell,” replied the other, “but I’m thinking I’m going to have to rein in these ladies nights out.”

“Oh, yeah?” His friend asked. “What happened?”

“Nothing I can pin down,” said the other, “but stuck to her butt was a note that said, ‘We will never forget you,’ and it was signed by ‘The Men of Firehouse 29.'”

Friday Funny

Number 69 of a series

So what’s funny this Friday? You would be amazed. Then, maybe not. This one comes from the world of national politics:

Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.), the lawmaker appointed to fill the seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, recently said that President Trump’s victory is “a biblical miracle.”

Lest you laugh, dear readers, there may be something to this. I was on-board last 8th of November, and there definitely was a parting of the waters, so to speak. There were those who said to themselves, “I think I’ll sign up for four years of boring to tears Hillary,” and there were those who said, “Hey, let’s roll the dice. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have a schlemiel for President.”

And it gets funnier by the day.

Buyer’s Remorse

Number 13 in a series

It’s six months in now, and some people have got to be feeling a little bit burned. After gallantly waving the flag of inclusiveness on the campaign trail—and supposedly garnering a half basket full of adherents—President Donald Trump has now dropped the other shoe:

After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow……

….Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming…..

….victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you

Yes, thank you, too, Mr. Trump. And watch that door on your way out.

This latest also gives us deeper insight into how the country’s leadership does business—very straight forward and to the point. No mincing words, no dancing around the issue. Just consult with generals and some experts, work through the details, and execute the plan.

All except the part about consulting with generals and experts, apparently:

Pentagon caught flat-footed on Trump’s transsexual ban

 July 27 at 7:33 AM

Trump wrote that he had consulted with “my generals and military experts,” but he did not mention Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, the retired Marine general who less than one month ago told the military service chiefs to spend another six months weighing the costs and benefits of allowing transgender individuals to enlist. At the time, Mattis said this “does not presuppose the outcome of the review,” but Trump’s tweets appeared to have done just that.

I am not personally acquainted with any transsexuals, but at least one homosexual acquaintance has consistently come across as a strident Trump enthusiast—despising anything with a whiff of liberalism. A check this morning of David’s Facebook time line reveals he has yet to make a response regarding this latest. Of course, “transsexual” does not equal “homosexual,” but the two share a common movement. Note the ‘LGBT” on the flag our leader was holding at the Republican Party convention last year.

One high-profile transsexual is Olympic star Caitlyn Jenner, who famously endorsed Trump:

President Donald Trump struggled to court the vote in Hollywood mostly because entertainers and celebrities were turned off by his politics and his crusade against political correctness. But one megastar did offer a vote of confidence, and it came from an unlikely person. Caitlyn Jenner, the former Olympic star and, perhaps, the most globally recognized transgender woman, was candid in her show of support in the run up to the election.

On Tuesday, Jenner was a guest on NBC’s “Late Night with Seth Meyers” and she revealed that she has no regrets with her vote.

“I know. I am not stupid,” Jenner said after Seth Meyers brought up the fact that she had voted for Trump in the election. “The Republican Party does not do a good job when it comes to equality and the entire LGBTQ community. The Democrats are better there. But, for me, I have been around a long time. I am probably more conservative.”

I am guessing that anything resembling buyer’s remorse in this case has been smothered by Donald Trump’s famous wit and charm. I’m being sarcastic here.

My news feeds this morning are alive with the story, including the conservative push behind the ban. Is it possible the President misread the signal on this play?

(CNN) — Republicans on Capitol Hill are scrambling to respond to President Donald Trump’s announcement Wednesday to reinstitute a ban on transgender people serving in the military after conservatives who lobbied the White House say they were pushing only to prevent the Pentagon from paying for medical costs associated with gender confirmation — not an outright ban.

Trump’s decision, announced Wednesday on Twitter and sparking bipartisan outrage on Capitol Hill, comes after the White House was lobbied by conservatives on the issue, including Rep. Vicky Hartzler, who proposed an amendment on the defense authorization bill to ban the Pentagon from paying what Hartzler called “transition surgeries,” as well as hormone therapy. The Missouri Republican lobbied the White House in recent weeks to do something on the issue, a GOP congressional aide familiar with the situation told CNN.

Additionally, some who are serving or who previously served have come out vocally. From Air Force Times:

After President Trump’s surprise announcement Wednesday barring transgender people from serving “in any capacity“ in the military, one prominent transgender airman said he’s more determined than ever to continue serving in the Air Force.

“I would like to see them try to kick me out of my military,” Staff Sgt. Logan Ireland said in an interview with Air Force Times. “You are not going to deny me my right to serve my country when I am fully qualified and able and willing to give my life.”

Other transgender service members expressed the same determination to stay in uniform in interviews with Military Times.

These individuals did not mention whether they voted for Donald Trump, but I’m guessing there are many who did. Buyer’s remorse is going to be on the table for months to come.

Your Friend The Handgun

Nothing new here, folks.

The Second Amendment guarantees American citizens the right to defend themselves with firearms. We should all be safer, unless we piss somebody off:

Feuding NJ Neighbors Die in Murder-Suicide: Prosecutor

Two men who lived in the same apartment building and had a long-standing feud died Sunday morning in a murder-suicide, officials said.

One of the men, who was 66-years-old, was found dead of multiple gunshot wounds in the lobby of their building on Linden Street in Hackensack, said Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir S. Grewal.

Police officers found the shooter, a 63-year-old man, dead of a gunshot wound to the head behind the building, Grewal said.

Somebody getting under your skin? Well, you will know what to do when the time comes.

Schlemiel-in-Chief

Number 25 in a series

It may appear that I’m just playing catch up. Until yesterday I hadn’t posted one of these since June, and now here’s another one. But that’s not it. It’s just that the Trump is coming at me fast and heavy this week, and I can’t afford to get behind the curve. So here’s what happened.

On Monday President Trump spoke before the Boy Scout Jamboree in Glen Jean, West Virginia. Full disclosure: I was a Boy Scout some 60 years ago, but I never attended the Jamboree, an every four years event. Anyhow, the President of the United States set the standard for contemporary public discourse and told the Scouts like it is. I don’t know whether this event was open to the public, but several sources reported on the President’s presentation, one of them being Margaret Hartmann for New York Magazine. In an item appearing in the magazine yesterday, Hartmann summed up some of  the President’s comments, a few of which I will share here. Let’s start with his opening:

Who the hell wants to speak about politics when I’m in front of the Boy Scouts?

All right! That takes me back to my boyhood days. Actually, it takes me back to my days as a recruit in Navy Reserve boot camp training. Drill instructors gave it to us loud and raw. Not as though our tender ears had never heard such talk before—like, out behind the gym during recess.

The President was just getting warmed up. It is admirable that he decided not to speak about politics.

And you know we have a tremendous disadvantage in the Electoral College — popular vote is much easier. Because New York, California, Illinois — you have to practically run the East Coast. And we did. We won Florida. We won South Carolina. We won North Carolina. We won Pennsylvania. [Applause.] We won and won. So when they said there is no way to victory, there is no way to 270, I went to Maine four times because it’s one vote, and we won. But we won — one vote. I went there because I kept hearing we’re at 269. But then Wisconsin came in. Many, many years — Michigan came in. And we worked hard there. My opponent didn’t work hard there because she was told —

Hartmann notes that at this point there were boos from the audience. These kids were 18 maximum and are primed to vote in the next election. A politician needs to get them early. There were additional non-political remarks:

[Clinton] was told she was going to win Michigan, and I said, well, wait a minute, the car industry is moving to Mexico. Why is she going to move — she’s there. Why are they allowing it to move? And by the way, do you see those car industry — do you see what’s happening, how they’re coming back to Michigan? They’re coming back to Ohio. They’re starting to peel back in.

Hartmann notes applause from the audience. Trump continues:

“And we go to Wisconsin — now, Wisconsin hadn’t been won in many, many years by a Republican. But we go to Wisconsin, and we had tremendous crowds. And I’d leave these massive crowds. I’d say, why are we going to lose this state? The polls — that’s also fake news. They’re fake polls. But the polls are saying — but we won Wisconsin. [Applause.]

“So I have to tell you what we did, in all fairness, this is an unbelievable tribute to you and all of the other millions and millions of people that came out and voted for Make America Great Again.”

At this point the kids shout a Trump campaign slogan, “USA! USA! USA!” Hartmann also notes that Donald Trump is thanking them for helping his victory, overlooking that none of them were voting age last November.

Secretary Tom Price is also here. Today Dr. Price still lives the Scout Oath, helping to keep millions of Americans strong and healthy as our Secretary of Health and Human Services. And he’s doing a great job. And hopefully, he’s going to get the votes tomorrow to start our path toward killing this horrible thing known as Obamacare that’s really hurting us, folks.

[Applause. Crowd chants “USA! USA! USA!”]

He better get them. He better get them. Oh, he better — otherwise, I’ll say ‘Tom, you’re fired!’ I’ll get somebody. [Applause.] He better get Senator Capito to vote for it. You got to get the other senators to vote for it. It’s time. After seven years of saying repeal and replace Obamacare, we have a chance to now do it. They better do it. Hopefully they’ll do it.

By now these Scouts are firm in the knowledge that the Affordable Care Act is a horrible piece of legislation and needs to be repealed. We begin to wonder what the President would have said at this point if he had decided to not avoid politics. The President also gives the Scouts a lesson in real leadership by reminding them he will fire Secretary Tom Price if he can’t corral the votes to repeal the ACA.

Other of the President’s remarks veered into strange waters:

In the Scout Oath, you pledge on your honor to do your best and to do your duty to God and your country. [Applause.] And by the way, under the Trump administration, you’ll be saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again when you go shopping. Believe me. Merry Christmas. [Applause.] They’ve been downplaying that little, beautiful phrase. You’re going to be saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again, folks.” [Applause.]

All right, again! That went over well with the Jews and the Muslims in the crowd, on two levels. First the President of the United States gives the false impression it was ever inappropriate to say “Merry Christmas” (I do it every season), and he additionally reminds the Scouts that this country has one favored religion, and that religion is Christianity. The Jewish and Muslim (Hindu and other) Scouts will be sure to take that home to their parents.

If I wanted to summarize the President’s presentation to the Jamboree I would say it was about the most brilliant piece of propagandizing I have come across since I studied the life and career of Nazi Minister for Propaganda and Public Enlightenment, Dr. Joseph Goebbels. Others commenting on the President’s talk report a flashback to the Hitlerjugend of 80 years ago. I admit to having the same experience.

As expected, calmer heads moved to distance the BSA from Donald Trump’s propagandizing. From The New York Times:

The Scouts, plainly sensing a new threat that supporters feared could undermine a movement whose membership is already sagging, said in a statement that the group was “wholly nonpartisan and does not promote any one political position, candidate or philosophy.” The group added that its traditional speaking invitation to the president was “in no way an endorsement of any person, party or policies.”

The Greater New York Councils of the Boy Scouts was somewhat blunter, saying Scouting is an apolitical organization, and “it is inappropriate for any president to use the Jamboree as a backdrop for political statements.”

The BSA in recent years past went through a period during which they had to reconfigure themselves as an exemplar of inclusiveness, lest the organization become like the National Rifle Association, little more than an advocate for narrow political and sectarian ideals. Believably, others have applauded the propagandizing of the Jamboree. Again, from the Times article:

Although Scouting offices and social media accounts were besieged with messages condemning the president’s appearance, others celebrated Mr. Trump’s speech in West Virginia. “Trump gave a great speech to the Boy Scouts and they chanted back, “We love Trump!,” read a Twitter post in the name of Shaun Hough (“Philosopher, conservative, libertarian”). “I love it!!”

Comments posted by readers show variation. Examples:

Trump gave a great speech to the Boy Scouts and they chanted back “We love Trump!” – I love it!!

To be fair, parents are tweeting that there was some blowback by the scouts who were appalled. Scout leaders should speak up or be ashamed.

Others who reacted include former White House photographer Pete Souza:

The photo, which was posted to Souza’s Instragram account, is a picture of President Barack Obama shaking hands with a Cub Scout, with the caption: “I can assure you, POTUS was not telling this Cub Scout and the Boy Scouts who followed about his electoral college victory.”

I could wrap this up by reminding readers that we are experiencing a low point in leadership at our highest office. But I don’t need to.

Bad Movie Wednesday

One of a continuing series

I’m not going to spend a lot of effort diagnosing this movie, because there is not much to diagnose. It’s an almost plot-free production, the main effort apparently being to impress viewers with the skill and determination of the stunt and special effects people at Jerry Bruckheimer Films. This came out 20 years ago (1997) and stars Nicolas Cage, whose presence generally signals something quirky. It’s Con Air, concerning escapades related to an attempted prisoner escape. The title derives from the nickname of the American government’s prisoner air transport system. This played on Hulu last month, and I’m getting details from Wikipedia. I will keep it simple.

Cage is ex Army Ranger Sergeant Cameron Poe, fresh off active duty and back home to make snuggle bunnies with his cute wife Tricia (Monica Potter). Trouble begins with the homecoming kiss in a Mobile, Alabama, bar, as a drunken jerk horns in, insulting sweet Tricia and challenging Sergeant Poe. The jerk continues his assault outside in the rain and ends up Hemingway-esque, dead, in the rain. Poe goes to the slam for ten years.

Paroled after eight, Poe is aboard a Con Air flight home to Alabama, along with some of the meanest creeps ever to draw time.

Of course, there is a plot to high-jack the flight, and some of the hardest of hard timers take over, killing some guards and diverting the flight to an airplane junk yard out in the desert (looks like Nevada or Arizona). A crash landing and an absconding getaway plane create some additional interest.

When the cops and the feds arrive there is a humongous battle with automatic weapons and explosive gas cannisters.

Unnecessary levity abounds when a new sports car, belonging to one of the feds, gets chained to the Con Air plane (appears to be a C-130). The plane takes off, towing the pricey set of wheels behind. We get to see the Corvette breaking free and falling  to earth after clipping the control tower.

The cons run out of options and are forced to land. Apparently the only available space left in the state of Nevada is the Las Vegas Strip. By now it’s dark, and the C-130 finally extinguishes itself plowing through cars and casinos.

And that’s the end. No, it is not. Surviving cons are still free, and they high-jack a fire truck, racing to escape through the crowded Strip. Poe and a fed give chase. Here Poe clings to the extended ladder of of the hard charging firetruck.

Of course, all the crooks are killed or captured, and Poe gets hugs and kisses from Tricia and his darling daughter. And that’s the movie.

As mentioned, this is about stunts and special effects, and they are amazing, while nothing in the plot is believable. Hey! This is Hollywood. I was impressed that with all this stuff going on the production budget was only $75 million. Box office was $224 million, and that  was before it got piped to Hulu, where I am paying dollars a month to  watch stuff commercial-free.

I never saw Leaving Las Vegas, and my favorite Nicolas Cage film is Next, which I have yet to review. His darkest work has to be 8mm, with a plot centering on the supposed snuff film industry. I previously reviewed Gone in 60 Seconds, another thrill shot. Rumors of Cage’s religious quirkiness are fueled by his appearance in a reboot of the Left Behind series. For somebody whose countenance gives definition to the term hangdog, Cage seems to get all the major babes in the movies. Makes them worth watching.

Poe is from Alabama. He’s going back to Alabama. And Lynyrd Skynyrd is performing Sweet Home Alabama. Makes the movie.

Schlemiel-in-Chief

Number 24 in a series

What is really amazing is that I am only up to number 24. Obviously I’ve been suffering from Trump fatigue. Stuff is happening faster than I can keep up with it. First watch the video above. Click on the link. Here is some text from The New York Times interview:

TRUMP: But what it does, Maggie, it means it gets tougher and tougher. As they get something, it gets tougher. Because politically, you can’t give it away. So pre-existing conditions are a tough deal. Because you are basically saying from the moment the insurance, you’re 21 years old, you start working and you’re paying $12 a year for insurance, and by the time you’re 70, you get a nice plan. Here’s something where you walk up and say, “I want my insurance.” It’s a very tough deal, but it is something that we’re doing a good job of.

Yeah, that’s the President of the United States. How many different ways are there to know we have elected a grand schlemiel to lead our country. Take a closer look at the package. Examine what the President said. The topic is presumably health insurance. You’re 21 years old, and you can get a policy for $12 a year? Please elaborate, Mr. President. Sprinkle some facts about to keep us focused.

We might be able to maintain focus if the President would do likewise. The Times interview showcases Donald Trump’s inability to stay the course. Again:

TRUMP: Same thing happened to Hitler. Not for that reason, though. Hitler wanted to consolidate. He was all set to walk in. But he wanted to consolidate, and it went and dropped to 35 degrees below zero, and that was the end of that army.

[crosstalk]

But the Russians have great fighters in the cold. They use the cold to their advantage. I mean, they’ve won five wars where the armies that went against them froze to death. [crosstalk] It’s pretty amazing.

So, we’re having a good time. The economy is doing great.

Yes, the cold Russian winters helped defeat the German invasion in World War Two, and the economy is doing great. But he forgot to mention the Chicago Cubs won the World Series last year. He must be getting old. If the Times interview accomplished one thing, it put a spotlight on Donald Trumps ability to manage the narrative. Another excerpt:

TRUMP: Yeah. It’s been a tough process for him. This health care is a tough deal. I said it from the beginning. No. 1, you know, a lot of the papers were saying — actually, these guys couldn’t believe it, how much I know about it. I know a lot about health care. [garbled] This is a very tough time for him, in a sense, because of the importance. And I believe we get there.

This is a very tough time for them, in a sense, because of the importance. And I believe that it’s [garbled], that makes it a lot easier. It’s a mess. One of the things you get out of this, you get major tax cuts, and reform. And if you add what the people are going to save in the middle income brackets, if you add that to what they’re saving with health care, this is like a windfall for the country, for the people. So, I don’t know, I thought it was a great meeting. I bet the number’s — I bet the real number’s four. But let’s say six or eight. And everyone’s [garbled], so statistically, that’s a little dangerous, right?

I will get this worked out and get back with you later today. Actually, I won’t, because the Russians and the cold, and the hummingbirds are very active this summer, besides differential equations are really hard stuff, and I didn’t like my English literature instructor.

As we all know, President Trump went to Europe recently, actually twice, and I would have loved to go along, because so much of great importance went on, and it would have been informative if I could have just hung around and listened in, but I’m going to let the President tell about it in his own words:

And then, went to France the following week, because it was the 100th year. [inaudible] The Paris Accord — I wasn’t going to get along with France for a little while, because people forget, because it is a very unfair agreement to us. China doesn’t get [garbled] until 2030. Russia goes back to 1994 as a standard — a much, much lower standard. India has things that are [garbled]. I want to do the same thing as everyone else. We can’t do that? We can’t do that? That’s O.K. Let me get out. Frankly, the people that like me, love that I got out.

Jesus, I wish I could have been there. I wanted to ask some questions, like, “Mr. President, if you had been in charge back in 1934 when Russia invaded Berlin, and had Stonewall Jackson not been killed in the charge up San Juan Hill, would  you have used clean nukes and saved all the Jews?” Missed opportunities are my life-long scourge.

But we know one thing from the Times interview. United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions may be on the way out. Here’s what the President had to say in his New York Times interview:

TRUMP: Well, Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job, and I would have picked somebody else.

[New York Times reporter Maggie Lindsy] HABERMAN: He gave you no heads up at all, in any sense?

TRUMP: Zero. So Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself. I then have — which, frankly, I think is very unfair to the president. How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, “Thanks, Jeff, but I can’t, you know, I’m not going to take you.” It’s extremely unfair, and that’s a mild word, to the president. So he recuses himself. I then end up with a second man, who’s a deputy.

Lest you missed the President’s message, he has since made it more clear:

A new INTELLIGENCE LEAK from the Amazon Washington Post,this time against A.G. Jeff Sessions.These illegal leaks, like Comey’s, must stop!

Then more recently:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are E-mails & DNC server) & Intel leakers!

From Fox News this morning:

The top White House spokesperson warned Tuesday that President Trump’s frustration with Jeff Sessions is not going away, moments after the president tore into his attorney general on Twitter as “VERY weak” on Hillary Clinton’s supposed “crimes.”

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, speaking with “Fox & Friends,” also neither confirmed nor denied reports that Trump has discussed the possibility of firing Sessions and did not rule it out. She said she hasn’t been part “of any conversations discussing any potential replacements,” but made clear that Trump is “frustrated and disappointed” in the attorney general for recusing himself from the Russia meddling probe.

“That frustration certainly hasn’t gone away, and I don’t think it will,” Sanders said.

As for whether Trump wants Sessions out, she said, “That’s a decision that if the president wants to make, he certainly will.”

Of course, the Democrats, who initially opposed the confirmation of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, now want him to stay on, I think. Liberals opposed Sessions up front due to his dismal record on civil rights. Now he’s the darling of the anti-Trump league (I being one of them) as he continues to stand behind his Justice Department staff investigating the Trump-Russia connection.

In the meantime, somebody who has gone away is White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. Spicer, the darling of Trump bashers since inauguration day, quit abruptly when President Trump appointed Anthony Scaramucci as head of White House communications. He will be sorely missed:

This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period — both in person and around the globe. Even the New York Times printed a photograph showing a misrepresentation of the crowd in the original Tweet in their paper, which showed the full extent of the support, depth in crowd, and intensity that existed.

We have had interesting presidents in times (centuries) past, but this is clearly the first time we have had our very on Schlemiel-in-Chief. And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same

Not much belief is worth dying for. Often there is foolishness that challenges the gag reflex:

Family of Jehovah’s Witness who died after refusing blood transfusion can’t keep suing doctors

The family of a Jehovah’s Witness who died after repeatedly refusing blood transfusions can’t sue the hospital where doctors begged for a chance to save her life, a state appeals court ruled.

The case, outlined in an opinion by Superior Court Judge Jacqueline O. Shogan, involves a convergence of religion, medicine and the law.

Its focus is on what happened before Terri Seels-Davila, a Jehovah’s Witness missionary, died after giving birth at Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia in November 2010.

Seels-Davila, who had been serving on mission with her husband in Nicaragua, chose Hahnemann because of its “bloodless medicine” program for patients who won’t agree to having blood transfusions, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, Shogan noted. The treatment plan for Seels-Davila called for recycling her own blood back into her system.

About time I am left completely speechless. And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.

The Comfort Delusion

Creationist Ray Comfort, part 3

This is a continuing discussion of Ray Comfort’s book You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can’t Make Him Think: Answers to Questions from Angry Skeptics. What it seems to be about is the author’s argument for the existence of the God of Abraham and the divinity of Jesus plus what goes along with that. His argument I will summarize with an excerpt from the book’s introduction:

To be an atheist is to play Russian roulette with all barrels loaded. An atheist can’t win. Of course, he feels and acts like a big player, until the trigger is pulled.

The issue isn’t the existence of God. If the atheist is wrong and there is a Creator, then he was wrong. He gambled and he lost. No big deal. The real gamble is that there’s no hell. That’s what makes the player sweat just a little. “What if?” is the deep and nagging doubt. He believes it’s worth the excitement of the game. Yet atheism isn’t a mind game; it is intellectual suicide.

Comfort, Ray. You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can’t Make Him Think: Answers to Questions from Angry Skeptics (Kindle Locations 87-91). WND Books. Kindle Edition.

I found it difficult to digest Comfort’s entire presentation at once, so I’m breaking out topics to discuss. This discussion is going to be about illicit sex.

By now everybody knows about sex. There are close to 7.5 billion people on this planet, and all but a very few got here by means of sexual copulation between males and females. Obviously this is going to be a topic of interest to all but a few.

As an outsider looking in, what I find most interesting is Ray Comfort’s fascination with sex and his ideas about illicit versus perfectly all right sex. Despite the title of the book (leading atheists to water and so forth) he spends a lot of the book’s available space dwelling on the difference between two brands of sex. For example:

But the justice of Almighty God is so thorough He will see to it that thieves, liars, fornicators, blasphemers, adulterers, and all who have transgressed the moral Law (the Ten Commandments) will get equity—that which is due to them.

Comfort, Ray. You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can’t Make Him Think: Answers to Questions from Angry Skeptics (Kindle Locations 116-118). WND Books. Kindle Edition.

Fornicators (read the book) are people who engage in sexual intercourse with people (even of the opposite sex) with whom they do not have a binding that has been sanctioned by a holy person or at least by a designated public official. People who do this are lumped together with thieves and liars. Notice Comfort also mentions blasphemers and adulterers. Adulterers are really fornicators, because there is no aforementioned binding covering their transgression. This so much interests Ray Comfort that he mentions fornication in one use of the word or another no fewer than 15 times.

And that’s about it. To hear Comfort tell it, sexual copulation is a human activity of such a special nature that it needs to be set aside from others and given a place of interest to an imaginary person conjured up by Bronze Age tribes people something like 3000 years ago. Some analysis is due.

What’s wrong with fornication? Let us concede that the process by which all of us came to be has consequences in modern society. Besides sexually-transmitted disease, there is the hazard of unintended procreation. Of course, these two are also possible consequences of sexual copulation within the scope of a recognized binding (marriage). Maybe what is needed is an injunction against social irresponsibility, and that would really cover nearly everything, including lying and stealing.

But what this is about is Comfort’s manifest fascination with sex, especially fornication. To be clear, here are the remaining references from the book:

That means he is free to embark on his sexual prowls, because it is nothing but a basic instinct to do so. It’s his procreative nature to fornicate, and therefore therefore not a sin. For the atheist, this is a hill to die on.

Comfort, Ray. You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can’t Make Him Think: Answers to Questions from Angry Skeptics (Kindle Locations 389-391). WND Books. Kindle Edition.

Another accusation often leveled at us is that the Seventh Commandment is about “adultery,” not fornication (sex before marriage). That’s not true.

Comfort, Ray. You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can’t Make Him Think: Answers to Questions from Angry Skeptics (Kindle Locations 840-841). WND Books. Kindle Edition.

true. 1 Timothy 1:8-10 makes clear that the Commandment not only includes fornicators, but it also includes homosexuals.

Comfort, Ray. You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can’t Make Him Think: Answers to Questions from Angry Skeptics (Kindle Locations 841-842). WND Books. Kindle Edition.

However, God is so good He will also punish thieves, liars, fornicators, adulterers, blasphemers, and everyone who has violated His perfect and holy Law.

Comfort, Ray. You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can’t Make Him Think: Answers to Questions from Angry Skeptics (Kindle Locations 1013-1014). WND Books. Kindle Edition.

Rapists, murderers, thieves, liars, blasphemers, adulterers, fornicators, etc., will get exactly what they deserve, and if I die in my sins, being Jewish will not save me from the justice of a holy God.

Comfort, Ray. You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can’t Make Him Think: Answers to Questions from Angry Skeptics (Kindle Locations 1047-1049). WND Books. Kindle Edition.

He has seen your lust (see Matthew 5:27-28), fornication, lies, anger, blasphemy, and rebellion.

Comfort, Ray. You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can’t Make Him Think: Answers to Questions from Angry Skeptics (Kindle Locations 1179-1180). WND Books. Kindle Edition.

It is His Law that you have violated with your lust, lying, stealing, hatred, fornication, and blasphemy, etc.

Comfort, Ray. You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can’t Make Him Think: Answers to Questions from Angry Skeptics (Kindle Location 1186). WND Books. Kindle Edition.

As each of us grows from childhood, we have the potential to be a fornicator, a liar, a thief, an adulterer, a pervert, a homosexual, a drunkard, a murderer, a rapist, or a pedophile.

Comfort, Ray. You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can’t Make Him Think: Answers to Questions from Angry Skeptics (Kindle Locations 1263-1264). WND Books. Kindle Edition.

Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor coveters, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortionists will inherit the kingdom of God.

Comfort, Ray. You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can’t Make Him Think: Answers to Questions from Angry Skeptics (Kindle Locations 1269-1270). WND Books. Kindle Edition.

[Quoted from 1 Corinthians 6:9-11]

Upon my repentance and faith in Jesus, my guilt will disappear. All of it. Not for lust only, but for all of my sins—for ingratitude, rebellion, greed, unbelief, lying, stealing, fornication, etc. All the guilt disappears upon repentance and faith in Jesus. Oprah can’t do that.

Comfort, Ray. You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can’t Make Him Think: Answers to Questions from Angry Skeptics (Kindle Locations 1543-1545). WND Books. Kindle Edition.

It’s also for those who are happily enjoying their fornication and pornography. It’s for both rich and poor, top rockers and rock bottomers, happy and sad—all of us need

Comfort, Ray. You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can’t Make Him Think: Answers to Questions from Angry Skeptics (Kindle Locations 1655-1656). WND Books. Kindle Edition.

He will not only punish adulterers and fornicators, but His just wrath will also fall on all those who have lusted after another person, lied, stolen, hated, blasphemed, etc.

Comfort, Ray. You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can’t Make Him Think: Answers to Questions from Angry Skeptics (Kindle Locations 1838-1839). WND Books. Kindle Edition.

Let’s look at your moral judgments for a moment. Do you think homosexuality is morally wrong? Of course you don’t (I’m guessing). How about fornication? Adultery? Murder? Rape? Lying and stealing?

Comfort, Ray. You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can’t Make Him Think: Answers to Questions from Angry Skeptics (Kindle Locations 1856-1857). WND Books. Kindle Edition.

If society says that fornication (sex outside of marriage) is okay, then you agree. Then if society says that it’s morally right to exterminate Jews, then you must say that it’s okay, because you have no moral absolutes. The thought of you ending up in

Comfort, Ray. You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can’t Make Him Think: Answers to Questions from Angry Skeptics (Kindle Locations 1859-1861). WND Books. Kindle Edition.

I think I picked up on all references. That last one is interesting. Ray Comfort, besides leveling fornication with genocide, wants to make the case against societal norms. Genocide would not be condoned under God’s law (except that it appears to be), so if morality is determined by society, then a society that condones fornication can also condone genocide. Except that God’s law, as interpreted by Ray Comfort, is really a codification of societal norms from those ancient times. Comfort can believe to his distress that his moral code has divine inspiration, but the hard fact is the Bible, the alleged source of his moral code, was written by people. It is straight out of the human brain.

Our Bronze Age ancestors had reasons for wanting to orchestrate standards for sexual conduct, among other forms of activity, and they invoked an imaginary person in order to give these standards additional authority, said additional authority being strictly manufactured. A well-ordered life remains an asset in modern society, but the solution is enlightened example and not reliance on unbalanced doctrinaires. Ray Comfort has enough demonstrated personal baggage to render him a questionable source of how to conduct our lives. It is doubtful he will ever come around to abandoning his slipshod thinking and gain credibility with a thinking society.

Quiz Question

One of a continuing series

This week it’s back to language and literature. Following is a list of words:

  • HOT
  • MOM
  • PAT
  • BOAT
  • COAT
  • TAKE
  • EAT
  • CHAP
  • TAPE
  • PACT
  • EXCEPT
  • EXACT

Besides being simple words and presented here in all caps, what do all these words have in common? Post your answer as a comment below.

Update and hint

Here’s a hint. I’m adding more words that fit the requirement. What is the least common thing all these words have in common?

  • HATCHET
  • MATCH
  • PATCH
  • CATCH
  • HAPPY
  • POTTY
  • MYTH

Update and answer

Nobody even made a stab at this one, but the answer is simple. All the words are spelled with letters that look like capital letters in the Russian alphabet. Keep in mind, they are not necessarily the same letters in both alphabets. A comparison:

  • A = A
  • E = E
  • K = K
  • M = M
  • O = O
  • T = T

None of the others correspond.

Bad Movie of the Week

One of a series

Good thing I missed this when it came out in  1937. It’s Headline Crasher, from Conn Pictures Corporation. This was during the period 1936 – 1939 when a handful of production companies came and went, turning out, in the course, some of the worst ever. Even Wikipedia doesn’t have an entry. I’m getting details from IMDb. This is brought to us through the largess of Amazon Prime Video, seemingly prepared to ensure we never forget our past transgressions, even after 80 years.

I’m not going to detail the plot. It’s inconsequential. I will just give a sketch and show some screen shots. It goes like this.

An attractive young piece named Helen (Eleanor Stewart) has suitcase in  hand and is attempting to  hitch a ride. Nobody stops until along comes a speedy sports car, driven by Jimmy Tallant (Frankie Darro) the son of Senator James Tallant (Richard Tucker), who is running for re-election. Helen tells Jimmy she needs to get to the airport in 20 minutes. It’s a matter of life and death. Since the airport is 26 miles away (do the math) that means some laws are going to be broken, and there is going to be trouble.

There is. Climbing aboard what appears to be an American Airline flight, the gracious Helen thanks Jimmy for being such a sucker. Then the plane takes off as the police arrive in pursuit.

Booked at the police station, Jimmy learns he’s going for forfeit his driver’s license. He’s also going to get some unwanted publicity. Standing by is ace reporter Larry Deering (Kane Richmond). His paper gleefully reports the Senator’s son is a criminal. Larry’s employer is working 24/7 to see the senator is not re-elected.

Larry stages further incidents, for instance having it appear Jimmy is driving without a license. As scandal piles on top of engineered scandal, Jimmy takes a powder and hitches a ride to the family vacation home by the lake. Larry drops by the senator’s office to get a line on Jimmy’s whereabouts, meeting the delightful Edith Arlen (Muriel Evans). She lets slip where Jimmy went, and Larry heads that way to look for more dirt.

Edith and the senator figure out what Larry is up to, and Edith takes it on herself to go to the resort and work the situation. In the meantime there is a bank robber on the loose, and Jimmy is accused of helping Helen, who is working with the gang.

Larry arrives at the resort. The caretaker, Martin (Ray Martin) tells Larry the place is closed for the fall (also winter and spring). Martin is typical of Hollywood’s portrayals of black people in those days. He speaks like an illiterate, and is completely subservient, saying “sho ‘nuf ” and “yassuh” sufficiently often to cement his position in society. Ray Martin played the part uncredited, as was often the case.

Surprise, surprise! The bank robbers’ hideout is walking distance from the senator’s resort home. One of the wounded robbers is driving there and encounters Jimmy on the road. Jimmy, ever the fall guy, gives him a lift to the hideout and gets taken hostage.

The robbers raid the resort home and take everybody prisoner. The sheriff arrives. The sheriff departs. The senator arrives. There are multiple turnings over of power as first one faction has the guns, then the other faction has the guns. Finally, thanks to Jimmy and Larry, the bank robbers are defeated, and Larry and Edith make wedding plans.

The cops arrive to put the arm on Jimmy.

Jimmy gets booked as Larry looks on.

A series of embarrassing headlines

Larry makes time with Edith.

Ray Martin welcomes Larry to the resort house, acting  the required part.

Larry has the gun. But not for long.

Now the crooks have the guns, and the senator.

First thing you’re going to notice watching this right after reading this review is the drawn out police chase early on. Jimmy is driving Helen to the airport, doubling the speed limit, laughing at stop signs. First one, then two, then three motorcycle cops fall in behind. And on and on. Yes, we know the cops are trying to catch the elusive Jimmy, but does it take two minutes worth of celluloid to get the notion across?

The gang leader is Tony Scarlotti (John Merton). Yes, he’s Italian because… because, you know, gangsters are Italian. His gang robs a bank. The senator has previously prosecuted bad-as-bad Tony, and Tony has vowed vengeance. And his hideout is just blocks away from the senator’s summer resort. How much coincidence can a plot hold still for?

When evil Helen gets stranded heading for the airport with the stolen bonds in her suitcase, who gives her a ride but the senator’s son?

Yes, it’s a nice story, but the plot is overly contrived, if that’s not being redundant.

Bad Joke of the Week

One of a continuing series

A young Catholic woman went to confession for the first time in over a year. She could not wait to unload on her sinful ways.

“Father, I am not married, and last night my boyfriend and I made mad, passionate love.”

“Jesus will forgive,” the priest assured her.

“And, father,” she went on, “we continued on through the night. We committed fornication six or seven times last night.”

“Jesus will forgive,” the priest reassured her.

“What should I do?” the woman pleaded.

The priest advised her, “Cut a lemon in half and suck on the fruit for 30 minutes.”

“Will that atone for my sins?” the woman asked.

“No,” the priest assured her. “But it will remove that silly grin from your face.”

Friday Funny

Number 68 of a series

When politics and religion mix we get a double dose of funny. Fortunately it’s Friday again:

It’s not the first time Graham expressed his belief God had played a role in the results of the November election. He had tweeted earlier this month suggesting it was God, not Russia, that had interfered with the outcome.

In an interview Thursday, he said he doesn’t know if Russia hacked the election, and he doesn’t presume to know how God works. But he knows God answers prayer.

And, Graham said, “All I know is Donald Trump was supposed to lose the election,” according to projections of the results.

“For these states to go the way they did, in my opinion, I think it was the hand of God,” he said. “It wasn’t hacking. It wasn’t Wiki-leaky or whatever. It was God, in my opinion, and I believe his hand was at work, and I think he’s given Christians an opportunity.”

Yes, God certainly does work in mysterious ways. Maybe not as mysterious as the mind of Franklin Graham. And that is funny. So funny, is it, that I am still laughing.

Buyer’s Remorse

Number 12 in a series

You know what I dislike? I’ll tell you what I dislike. I dislike it when I turn out to be so right that I get a cramp. Fortunately that’s not too often. But here is an instance that caused me considerable distress:

Expect President Trump to keep the Affordable Care Act until or unless a comparable replacement can be found. Raucous detractors of Obamacare will now face a unified Republican Party that will find affordable health care to be not so bad, now that they will be able to take credit for it.

Yes, that shoe has finally dropped:

‘Let Obamacare Fail,’ Trump Says as G.O.P. Health Bill Collapses

WASHINGTON — The seven-year Republican quest to undo the Affordable Care Act appeared to reach a dead end on Tuesday in the Senate, leaving President Trump vowing to let President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement collapse.

Mr. Trump declared that his plan was now to “let Obamacare fail,” and suggested that Democrats would then seek out Republicans to work together on a bill to bury the Affordable Care Act. If he is determined to make good on that pledge, he has plenty of levers to pull, from declining to reimburse insurance companies for reducing low-income customers’ out-of-pocket costs to failing to enforce the mandate that most Americans have health coverage.

What is happening is what was foreseen months ago, even as candidate Trump thumped his repeal and replace message to voters. Appeal for the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is rooted in a considerable segment of voters for whom the main street path to health care is not working. Where these people were last November we may never know, but we know where they are today:

‘Don’t repeal Obamacare — improve it’: Republicans face wrath at town-hall events

After burning up seven years of congressional action and pushing forward 60 pieces of legislation to repeal the ACA, members of congress are coming to realize something. The primary job of an elected official is not to enact legislation, it’s to get re-elected. It’s been observed for 70 years in my memory that politicians acknowledge there is no point in having ideals if you are not in office to put them into action. Republicans in Congress are facing the reality they they can become ex politicians if they do not harken to the will of their constituents.

Currently the focus is on the Senate, this after the Republican-dominated House of Representatives voted in their own proposal last spring—a proposal which proved to be about as popular as the measles, for which there is also a cure. The Republican majority in the Senate is threadbare, and notable defections have defeated all attempts to pass repeal and replace legislation. As noted, there are not even enough votes to repeal the ACA, leading the President to his current stance—do nothing. We’ve seen a lot of that this year:

Counting the number of laws he’s signed, President Donald Trump has been more productive in his first 100 days than any president since Harry Truman, according to press secretary Sean Spicer.

“Despite the historic obstruction by Senate Democrats, he’s worked with Congress to pass more legislation in his first 100 days than any president since Truman, and these bills deliver on some of his most significant promises to the American people,” Spicer said at the White House daily press briefing April 25.

President Trump achieved this impressive record by shouldering the heavy load of his office and demonstrating impressive leadership. I’m joking, of course.

Winding down, I need to make yet another prediction. My prediction is that Republican lawmakers, who dominate both houses of Congress, will get an earful from the voters, and will get to work fixing well-known deficiencies in the Affordable Care Act—but not until next year. Check back with me later and see if I missed the mark, again.

Your Friend The Handgun

Nothing new here, folks.

I keep reminding people they need to arm themselves for such eventualities. Nothing says “safety” like a gun on every hip. Let’s see how that’s working out:

Orlando Shooting: 5 Killed at RV Business by Angry Ex-Employee

A disgruntled former employee at an Orlando, Florida RV accessory business fatally shot five workers Monday morning before turning the gun on himself, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

The shooting was first reported around 8 a.m. at the headquarters for Fiamma, Inc. Once deputies arrived on scene, they found three men and one woman already dead, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said during a press conference.

A fifth man was transported to a nearby hospital where he died, according to Demings.

Authorities believe suspect John Robert Neumann Jr., 45, who was fired in April, shot himself just before deputies entered the scene two minutes after they were first called, Demings said at a later press conference.

By my calculation about five additional handguns at the scene would have been just about right.

Whole Cloth

I was looking for a title—something to call this. Help was on the way:

For example, a cotton shirt cannot be made until the cotton has been sown as seeds, then grown, harvested and woven, and from this fabric many types of garments can be made. Our baseline is like the cloth, a weave that runs through all.

Jasmuheen. PRANIC NOURISHMENT – Nutrition for the New Millennium (Living on Light) (Divine Nutrition Series Book 1) (Kindle Locations 4248-4250). Self Empowerment Academy Pty Ltd. Kindle Edition.

And that’s about the substance of this book. It has all the appearance of being cut from whole cloth—meaning it’s made up.

What got me onto this was something we covered 15 years ago for The North Texas Skeptics:

Before we get on to Wiley Brooks we need to talk about Ellen Greve. Greve is a former Australian business woman who now calls herself Jasmuheen. She is a New Age guru promoting avoidance of food. Her cult is said to have a following of 5000 world wide. At least one wiseacre has conjectured these may not be the same followers from one year to the next. Her followers tend to be claimants of the famous Darwin Awards.

Australian follower Verity Linn succumbed while attempting to follow Jasmuheen’s guidelines near Cam Loch in Scotland in September 1999. Prior to that in the summer of 1998 Lani Morris of Melbourne breathed herself to death, and Timo Degen, a German kindergarten teacher, did the same in 1997.

Yeah, people were dying under the false belief that, properly conditioned, a person can live without food. Interest in the subject picked up recently, and Greve updated her book. The previous title was Living on Light. You can still get a copy from Amazon from $1044 (paperback). The new edition is Pranic Nourishment, and I have the Kindle edition ($7.77). The much revised edition acknowledges the danger of actually practicing what Greve preaches.

March 2006 with Jasmuheen:

I feel guided to add additional points regarding caregivers …

At the end of the nineties an Australian women, Lani Morris, died in Brisbane Australia. Her caregiver said that she was experiencing many difficulties but refused to stop and that on day 7 she drank 1.5 litres of pure orange juice, consequently she collapsed into a coma and was later taken off life support. Her caregiver Jim Pesnak and his wife – a couple who were in their 70’s who I had never met – were arrested and charged with manslaughter and jailed. The court said that it was their duty to stop this woman from proceeding as soon as they noticed she had difficulty. At the time they felt that as a responsible adult it was her choice whether to go on or stop.

Personally I feel that the only caregiver we need is the Divine One Within and as I keep stressing, if its guidance and voice is not 100% clear and trusted by you then the 21-day process is not for you.

Jasmuheen. PRANIC NOURISHMENT – Nutrition for the New Millennium (Living on Light) (Divine Nutrition Series Book 1) (Kindle Locations 2389-2397). Self Empowerment Academy Pty Ltd. Kindle Edition.

Obviously Greve does not completely shoulder responsibility for the multiple deaths of people attempting to follow her advice. We are  left to believe fault lies with the caregivers.

Make no mistake. The principles of chemistry and physics still hold. Greve’s wacko ideas have no basis in fact and seem to have been  pulled straight out of a fevered brain or drawn from half-baked New Ageisms. Without digging into the book’s narrative, I  will just illustrate with some excerpts. Start here, first paragraph:

I have come to understand that the process that I – and many others – have undergone to allow the body to be sustained by light; is about utilising photon energy to sustain us via a process like photosynthesis. Rather than take the energy from the sun as plants do we have developed the ability to tap into and absorb the Universal Life force or ‘chi’ energy directly into our cells. This occurs via mind mastery where command and expectation utilizes the Universal Law of Resonance where like attracts like. Because I expect the pranic forces to nourish and sustain me having undergone the 21-day process as outlined in the latter chapters, it does.

Jasmuheen. PRANIC NOURISHMENT – Nutrition for the New Millennium (Living on Light) (Divine Nutrition Series Book 1) (Kindle Locations 206-211). Self Empowerment Academy Pty Ltd. Kindle Edition.

Greve means that literally, “allow the body to be sustained by light; is about utilising photon energy to sustain us via a process like photosynthesis.” No. There is no evidence anything like that has ever happened or can happen. The hard, cold fact is that Greve is a fraud. The signature attempt by her to demonstrate her philosophy ended catastrophically:

In 1998, she appeared in her first film, a six-part direct to video documentary called The Legend of Atlantis: Return of the Lightmasters. The Australian television programme 60 Minutes challenged Jasmuheen to demonstrate how she could live without food and water. The supervising medical professional Dr Beres Wenck found that, after 48 hours, Jasmuheen displayed symptoms of acute dehydration, stress, and high blood pressure. Jasmuheen claimed that this was a result of “polluted air”. On the third day, she was moved to a mountainside retreat about 15 miles from the city, where she was filmed enjoying the fresh air, claiming she could now successfully practice Inedia. But as filming progressed, Jasmuheen’s speech slowed, her pupils dilated, and she lost over a stone (6 kg or 14 lb) in weight. After four days, she acknowledged that she had lost weight, but stated that she felt fine. Dr. Wenck stated: “You are now quite dehydrated, probably over 10%, getting up to 11%.” The doctor continued: “Her pulse is about double what it was when she started. The risk if she goes any further is kidney failure.” Jasmuheen’s condition continued to deteriorate rapidly due to acute dehydration, despite her contrary insistence. Dr Wenck concluded that continuing the experiment would ultimately prove fatal. The film crew agreed with this assessment and stopped filming.

That was nearly 20 years ago. Greve continues with the nonsense to this day, as evidenced by the book. Fact is, a hot book (I purchased a copy) is strong motivation.

It’s also a hilarious display of the codswallop devoured by a sizable chunk of 21st century society. Examples abound:

According to Dr. Deepak Chopra in his book Ageless Body, Timeless Mind, every atom is more than 99.9% empty space and the subatomic particles moving at great speed through this space are bundles of vibrating energy which carry information and unique codings. He calls this “thinking non-stuff” as it cannot be seen by physical eyes.

Jasmuheen. PRANIC NOURISHMENT – Nutrition for the New Millennium (Living on Light) (Divine Nutrition Series Book 1) (Kindle Locations 222-225). Self Empowerment Academy Pty Ltd. Kindle Edition.

First of all note the reference to the equally delusional Deepak Chopra. If we accuse Greve of making all this stuff up, she can fall back on pointing out she is merely quoting another authority, disregarding that the other authority is just as whacked out as she is. More:

When a Being is vibrating at a lower frequency, it permits many other forms of energies to mix and mingle with its pool of energy and its cycles. When this happens, the thoughts have a tendency to get confused which causes a being to experience frustration.

Jasmuheen. PRANIC NOURISHMENT – Nutrition for the New Millennium (Living on Light) (Divine Nutrition Series Book 1) (Kindle Locations 315-317). Self Empowerment Academy Pty Ltd. Kindle Edition.

This is excerpted from a more expansive paragraph, yet it is significant. “Lower frequency?” Where does she get this stuff? Assume it’s not Deepak Chopra. There are no facts relating to “beings” (people?), vibrational frequencies, “energy cycles” that back this up. She’s pulling stuff out of the air. It’s the very definition of “whole cloth.”

There are said to be seven cosmic planes – physical, astral, mental, Buddhic, atmic, monadic and Logoic.

Jasmuheen. PRANIC NOURISHMENT – Nutrition for the New Millennium (Living on Light) (Divine Nutrition Series Book 1) (Kindle Locations 339-340). Self Empowerment Academy Pty Ltd. Kindle Edition.

Don’t you just love it when a writer puts down, “there is said to be…?” Gives you a lot of confidence in what you’re reading. No, it doesn’t. It gives you confidence that stuff is being pulled out of the air.

This is an interesting concept and one well explored by the Theosophists among others. The exact midpoint between the in and out breath is said to be in the year 2012, this date is the last date of the Mayan calendar and is foretold by the Hopi Indians and many other civilisations. This year marks a time of wondrous change with multitudes awakening to their true divinity.

Jasmuheen. PRANIC NOURISHMENT – Nutrition for the New Millennium (Living on Light) (Divine Nutrition Series Book 1) (Kindle Locations 344-346). Self Empowerment Academy Pty Ltd. Kindle Edition.

Hopefully it won’t be necessary for me to post any more clips from the book. Evidence is that Greve is making stuff up.

I can’t leave off this topic without opening a look into a remarkable bit of self-delusion—something revealing. Items of this sort are dropped, almost randomly, through the book.

So since June 1993, I have existed on tea and water, then for pleasure tasted ‘white’ food (a potato phase due to boredom and lack of mind mastery) or the odd mouthful of chocolate and regardless of these indulgences I know that the only thing that nourishes and sustains me is Light.

Jasmuheen. PRANIC NOURISHMENT – Nutrition for the New Millennium (Living on Light) (Divine Nutrition Series Book 1) (Kindle Locations 1453-1455). Self Empowerment Academy Pty Ltd. Kindle Edition.

[Emphasis added]

I began to exchange my pure fruit juice preference for the odd cappuccino or the odd mouthful of chocolate just because I felt like the flavour of something sweet but I also learnt to transmute these things.

Jasmuheen. PRANIC NOURISHMENT – Nutrition for the New Millennium (Living on Light) (Divine Nutrition Series Book 1) (Kindle Locations 2657-2659). Self Empowerment Academy Pty Ltd. Kindle Edition.

[Emphasis added]

For me, as an absolute food purist for some 20 years, the process was extremely liberating! To be nourished from pranic energy and then be free to have a stage of tasting chocolate, or to have a potato scallop now and then through winter just for fun was fun!

Jasmuheen. PRANIC NOURISHMENT – Nutrition for the New Millennium (Living on Light) (Divine Nutrition Series Book 1) (Kindle Locations 2659-2661). Self Empowerment Academy Pty Ltd. Kindle Edition.

[Emphasis added]

And more. The woman is eating. Is there another way to spell fraud? Let’s go further. Her claims about food intake are demonstrably false.

Since June 1993 I have existed on an average of 300 calories per day which covers the calorie content of sugar and milk in my tea.

Jasmuheen. PRANIC NOURISHMENT – Nutrition for the New Millennium (Living on Light) (Divine Nutrition Series Book 1) (Kindle Location 1473). Self Empowerment Academy Pty Ltd. Kindle Edition.

Hard information has it that an adult human cannot subsist on that daily energy intake:

“The basal metabolic rate of a human is about 1,300-1,500 kcal/day for an adult female and 1,600-1,800 kcal/day for an adult male.”

Now it’s time for me to pull stuff out of the air and make statements without citing any references. The above figures are likely for an active person. Walking, talking, grocery shopping. If you slow down, do nothing, lie on your back, look at the ceiling, you can survive on maybe 900 calories per day. The history of war prisoners held by the Japanese in World War Two bears out that an active person cannot survive on 900 calories per day.

Greve can claim to tone her metabolism to 100% efficiency, but there are some physical facts that cannot be ignored. A grown person, merely living, dissipates energy at 100 watts. That’s 8,640,000 joules per day. At 4184 joules per Calorie, that’s 2965 Calories per day, in conflict with the numbers referenced above. That means my estimate of 100 Watts is too high, but not by that much. In order for Greve to turn down her thermostat and only put out 300 Calories of heat per day, she’s going to have to be stone cold. She is definitely at odds with some basic physics in her wild-ass claims.

Bottom line, whack job of a book, a few people dead, money in Greve’s pocket, 21st century public not much better off than their ancestors from 1000 years back. That’s progress.