The Government You Paid For

Number 9

I caught this on MSNBC this morning. On The Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough with Mika Brzezinski discussed President Donald Trump’s plummeting poll numbers.

A room of Americans who supported Trump, Hillary Clinton, and a third-party candidate in the election tore into the president’s performance during his over eight months in office. They did not hold their criticisms to just the president though, as they also hit Vice President Mike Pence, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

In a segment aired on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, many of these Trump supporters did not voice a die-hard support for the president himself, even when describing the reasons they cast their vote. “It was more of an anti-Hillary vote,” said one; “I didn’t want more of what we already had,” said another.

Apparently there is a crowd of people out there who now have the government they paid for, and they are not liking it. The speaker pictured below is heard saying his was more an anti-Hillary vote.

This man is saying, “I liked his platform, Make America Great Again.”

“My vote was more — I didn’t want more of what we already had.”

A few besides these three spoke out, but they are representative. The first didn’t want Hillary, and the third didn’t want more of the same. Number two fell for the Trump line in true rube fashion. Regarding numbers one and two, you have to wonder how Donald Trump gained the nomination.

Debate after debate aired, and one by one the other candidates were whittled away. Then came the primaries, and Republican loyalists chose Trump again and again. Possibly the most miserable showing was turned in by the candidate with the most promise. Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida, had experience and maturity. He consistently polled at the bottom before finally cashing in his chips and pulling out. There was not much of worth in between.

Ben Carson, successful as a neurosurgeon but with no comprehension of how the world works, often polled near the top:

Pressing the search for the fountainhead of all this prevarication, sign posts are manifest:

On Wednesday, a 17-year-old video surfaced of Ben Carson claiming that the Old Testament figure Joseph built the Egyptian pyramids to store food.

“My own personal theory is that Joseph built the pyramids to store grain,” Carson said in a 1998 commencement speech at Andrews University, unearthed by BuzzFeed. “Now all the archaeologists think that they were made for the pharaohs’ graves. But, you know, it would have to be something awfully big — when you stop and think about it, and I don’t think it’d just disappear over the course of time — to store that much grain.”

For a while Republicans seemed to like former H-P CEO Carly Fiorina, who managed to do a believable impersonation of a complete idiot:

Apparently we have not heard the last of presidential candidate Carly Fiorina. It definitely is not the first. Ms. Fiorina has visited my shore only recently:

“I do think it’s worth saying,” Fiorina declared, “that people of faith make better leaders because faith gives us humility, faith teaches us that no one of us is greater than any other one of us, that each of us are gifted by God. Faith gives us empathy; we know that all of us can fall and every one of us can be redeemed. And faith gives us optimism, it gives us the belief that there is something better, that there is someone bigger than all of us. And so I think it’s important that we elect a leader of faith and that we elect a leader, as well, who knows that more prayer, not less, is necessary in public life and in all our lives.”

Bobby Jindal, former governor of Louisiana, had no need to pretend:

This was during an interview on ABC with Martha Raddatz. I’m impressed that the Louisiana governor keeps plugging along, despite a vacuum of support, not to mention a vacuum of knowledge about how the world works. The governor’s previous intonations bespeak of this void:

At a breakfast organized by The Christian Monitor, Jindal was introduced as a biology major, Rhodes Scholar, and former President of the University of Louisiana System. Naturally, at one point HuffPost’s Howard Fineman said, “I want to ask a couple of science questions.”

Jindal cluelessly fails to see what’s coming and excitedly interjects “I’m a biology major.” Fineman is happy to repeat that point and, of course, then asks him a bunch of obvious science questions, including whether he accepts evolution.

So Jindal now feels compelled to explain, “I was not an evolutionary biologist.” Yeah, Jindal apparently got one of those Biology degrees from Brown University (with honors at the age of 20!) that doesn’t require learning about evolution — the central organizing principle of modern biology.

Did I leave out former Texas Governor Rick Perry? No, I didn’t:

It is possible that our own governor, for whom I have previously expressed such admiration, may be about to step into Governor Palin’s mighty shoes and save us all from ourselves again. Here’s how it’s unfolding:

[21 August 2014] PORTSMOUTH, N.H. –On Thursday, Gov. Rick Perry issued a pretty alarming warning. Terrorists from the Islamic State — one of the nastiest, most brutal terror groups ever — could be sneaking into Texas across the Southwest border at any time, thanks to the Obama administration’s failures in Iraq and in securing the border.

On the upside of the ticket there were were candidates displaying some savvy while also carrying the GOP torch high. That would include Texas’ own Ted Cruz, former Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Governor John Kasich of Ohio. Not that I would have voted for any of those, but Republicans would have, had they not been blinded by the light.

Republicans nominated Donald Trump, leaving them none remaining to vote for but Donald Trump. They now have Donald Trump, and they now have the government they paid for. Here’s what some of the Pittsburgh voters had to say in Tuesday’s focus group, expressing some remorse. Keep in mind, voters in Pittsburgh went for Hillary Clinton by 75%.

“I look at a president to be presidential, someone who is calm, focused… In some aspects, [Trump is] almost turning into a politician in a different way, saying things he thinks his base wants to hear. He’s let me down,” said one Trump voter during the focus group, per Politico.

“I traditionally am in the ‘give the guy a chance’…. His learning curve has been a little disappointing, meaning he hasn’t caught on like everyone has said here, ‘If he did this, he’d be OK,’” voiced another Pittsburgh resident who supporter the president during the election.

Follow the link to the Politico article to get a better appreciation of the conversation. I am not going to take on faith that all these respondents voted for Trump in the primaries, but enough of their kind did, and I have to wonder. At what point did the light begin to shine through?

Was it the never-ending stream of lies emanating from this candidate?

Was it the endless parade of scandal?

Was it Donald Trump’s massive preoccupation with trivia?



Possibly some supporters have been turned off by Donald Trump’s glaring self-absorption.


It cannot be that supporters were unaware of his callous disregard for others.

We may never know what the breaking point was for many Trump supporters, possibly because they will never succumb to the truth, and possibly, as some supporters have told me, they do not care. And these people are getting the government they paid for.


Your Friend The Handgun

Nothing new here, folks.

The ACLU is not going to protect you when your manhood is threatened. In times like this you can rely on the National Rifle Association and its support for the Second Amendment to ensure you can protect your honor:

FORT WAYNE, Ind. — An ex-convict who shot two women at a Fort Wayne beauty college before turning the gun on himself was upset that one of the women would not date him, police said Tuesday.

Davion D. Brown, 24, entered Ravenscroft Beauty College on Monday evening carrying a backpack and found the woman who would not date him, Patricia Ann Hahn, 29, of Fort Wayne, in a break room and began shooting with a .22 caliber semi-automatic handgun, police spokesman Michael Joyner told a news conference.

All these bleeding heart liberals think about is taking your guns away. They never show any consideration for you when women reject you. Thank God for the National Rifle Association.

The Government You Paid For

Number 8

From WND

Wait for it. It’s coming. It’s coming. Wait! It’s here!

Washington (CNN) — President Donald Trump pardoned Joe Arpaio on Friday, sparing the controversial former Arizona sheriff a jail sentence after he was convicted of criminal contempt related to his hard-line tactics going after undocumented immigrants.

There. It’s done. Did you ever doubt it was going to happen? To find anything more predictable I had to go all the way back to… To last week, when an eclipse of the sun raced across this country from the west coast to the east. That was more predictable. But it was close.

So, what does it take to draw a get-out-of-jail-free card from President Trump? You might not be surprised:

Arpaio has been accused of various types of police misconduct, including abuse of power; misuse of funds; failure to investigate sex crimes; improper clearance of cases; unlawful enforcement of immigration laws; and election law violations. A Federal court monitor was appointed to oversee his office’s operations because of complaints of racial profiling. The U.S. Department of Justice concluded that Arpaio oversaw the worst pattern of racial profiling in U.S. history, and subsequently filed suit against him for unlawful discriminatory police conduct. Arpaio’s office paid more than $146 million in fees, settlements, and court awards.

Over the course of his career Arpaio was the subject of several federal civil rights lawsuits. In one case he was a defendant in a decade-long suit in which a federal court issued an injunction barring him from conducting further “immigration round-ups”. A federal court subsequently found that after the order was issued, Arpaio’s office continued to detain “persons for further investigation without reasonable suspicion that a crime has been or is being committed.” In July 2017, he was convicted of criminal contempt of court, a crime for which he was pardoned by President Donald Trump on August 25, 2017. In a separate racial-profiling case which concluded in 2013, Arpaio and his subordinates were found to have unfairly targeted Hispanics in conducting traffic stops.

Yes! Those are exactly the qualities that are going to earn you a nod from Donald Trump. Did we ever not see this coming?

We complained, and we complained, but now we need to quit complaining. At last we have the government we paid for.

Bad Movie Wednesday

One of a continuing series

I put off watching this on Hulu a few weeks back when I took a peek and figured it was a spoof or somewhat. Of course, there was Tina Fey in the lead role, being more famous for her spoofs of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Then there was the title, which I will get into once I figure out WTF it stands for. But, the pressure of time—I’m taking a few days off—and the better production quality, drew me in, and I watched it through. By the time I was finished watching it was hard to get another movie, Up Close And Personal, out of my mind. This is Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, out of Paramount Pictures last  year. Here’s a walk through:

Tina Fey is real-life Kim Baker, a TV journalist based in New York, but the opening scene shows her and a gang of journalist in Kabul covering the ongoing story in Afghanistan. It’s 2006, and all the westerners are holed up in the Kabul bubble, enjoying a rave party. Than there is a terrific rumble, and everybody understands that a massive bomb has gone off in the street close by. They are all out immediately to cover the aftermath.

Roll back the clock three years, and it’s 2003. Kim is in her New York offices, where she is producer of News Division 1. The organization needs volunteers to cover Afghanistan, since all the first stringers have been shifted to the new story in Iraq. Kim goes, and in doing so meets her boyfriend passing through the airport in the opposite direction.

In Kabul it’s a different life. She teams with Fahim Ahmadzai (Christopher Abbott), driver, translator, protector.

Inside the bubble, she meets the other journalists and is informed that here is a place where anything goes, and everything does. She becomes friends with Tanya Vanderpoel (Margot Robbie), who discusses with Kim her plan to divvy up the available men between them. There are many.

Kim soon gets her legs and embeds with some Marines. When the patrol comes under attack from some Taliban in a technical, Kim hauls out of her ride, camera in hand, and charges to the forward line of defense, catching the scene as a Javelin missile destroys the truck.

This is an amusing episode. The Marine general (Billy Bob Thornton) in charge chews out the Marine for wasting an $80,000 Javelin on a 1989 pickup.

Kim’s romance back home gets strained by the separation and finally broken when a Skype video call reveals another woman in the background. She hooks up with photojournalist Iain MacKelpie (Martin Freeman), who saves her groceries when she gets stranded alone on the streets of Kabul at night, not a healthy place for a European woman, or any woman, alone.

Years go by, and Tanya undertakes a meeting with a Taliban group, which goes horribly wrong. At the same time the American military is tracking the Taliban vehicle and launches a Hellfire missile on it. Nothing was going to turn out well, anyhow. Just before the missile strikes, the Taliban fighters open up with their weapons on the journalists. People are killed. Tanya is hospitalized.

Called back to New York, Kim learns that Tanya has been groomed to take over her job there. Iain is taken by the Taliban and sold to others, who hold him for ransom. Kim returns to Afghanistan and blackmails the Attorney General of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan into revealing the whereabouts of Ian. Kim convinces Marine General Hollanek  it would be worthwhile for his men to stage a rescue mission, covered by Kim’s cameraman. She comes back with the story, and the movie ends with the possibility of Kim and Iain meeting in New York.

There is intrigue and battle action in  this movie, but it draws out as a single-threaded narrative. It’s one episode after another, and then it ends. The movie didn’t make back its $35 million budget.

Wikipedia points out some items I noticed. The character of Marine General Hollanek seems out of place (he starts out as a colonel). What’s an officer of flag rank doing observing combat with the enemy at pistol range?

Hollanek  mentions the cost of a Javelin. I found that curious. This weapon was developed by Texas Instruments Defense Systems and Electronics Group in Lewisville and Denton, Texas in the late 1980s and early 1990s. I worked the program off and on and remember the target cost was pegged a lot lower. Surprise! The Wikipedia entry lists a unit cost of $246,000. Inflation?

Another surprise is seeing a Javelin fired at such close range. It was designed to engage tanks at long distance, using two-stage launch and leave. A booster kicks it out of the launch tube, and the main motor fires when the missile is well clear, to avoid roasting the gunner. One requirement is to be able to fire out the window of a small room. So watching the movie I was surprised to see the Javelin fired in this mode, and then I recalled one feature is the direct-fire mode. You just point and shoot.

The movie is based on Kim Baker’s memoir, The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It might be worth reading. A Kindle edition is available for about $6. There could be a review in the future. It’s always interesting to see how Hollywood renders an author’s original work.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same

Following up from last week, I’m posting more on death by alternative medicine (alt-med). Some time ago I picked Tuesdays to carry the sad news about people dying from false belief. Homeopathy is a wrong-headed notion put forward by Samuel Hahnemann in 1796. It continues to kill 221 years later. Here is the case of young Cameron Ayres:

A six-month-old baby has died after his parents, who were firm believers in homeopathy, refused to take him to a GP. Dr Ann Robinson on the dangers of trusting too much

With a few harrowing exceptions, most parents want the best for their child, but parenting isn’t an exact science. We may seek advice from professionals, consult published information, listen to friends and even take heed of what our own parents have to say, but ultimately, whether it’s deciding whether to give the MMR jab, choosing a school, or signing our consent for the child to have her tonsils removed, we are forced to trust our instincts and hope for the best.

Now a tragic case in South London highlights how potentially dangerous following your instincts can be. An inquest heard how a six month old baby, Cameron Ayrs, died from a rare but potentially treatable metabolic disorder after his parents refused to take him to a doctor.

The baby’s parents, Jeremy, a homeopathic doctor, and his French wife Sylvie, a sales manager, had decided to protect their child from “suppressive” conventional medicine because of their deep faith in homeopathy and naturopathy. The coroner was told that they did not immunise him against a number of common childhood diseases and that he was never taken to see a GP.

As noted previously, I take satisfaction in blaming Jesus on death by belief. Sometimes he is superfluous. People have the capacity to kill themselves independent of religion.

The Government You Paid For

Number 7

Screen shoot from CNN on YouTube

August is drawing down, and I’m doing some cleanup. Here’s an item I ignored a few weeks ago, and it’s worth a look before it slips into the shadows of history. The screen shot is from a video streaming on YouTube, and it may or may not relate to the rally in question.

On 3 August President Trump held a rally of his fans in Huntington, West Virginia. The occasion also celebrated the conversion of Democratic Governor Jim Justice to the Republican Party. It turned out to be an epic event. As The New York Times reports:

With Gov. Jim Justice by his side, Mr. Trump hailed stock market records and the growth of coal income in West Virginia. And he delivered a lengthy critique of the federal investigations of his campaign’s ties to Russia, calling the matter “a fake story that is demeaning to all of us.” His comments came just hours after reports that a grand jury had been impaneled in the Russia investigation and that subpoenas had been issued.

The President was dead on regarding the blazing hot stock market. The Dow-Jones Industrial Average, which bumped around 18,000 the day before the November elections, is now crowding 22,000, an 18.2% gain over the past 12 months. Unfortunately, the remainder of the President’s bravado was so much of that. It’s worth looking at some of that:

The reason why Democrats only talk about the totally made-up Russia story is because they have no message, no agenda, and no vision. They don’t talk about the … manufacturing jobs we’re bringing back to America by the hundreds of thousands.

First of all, there’s the business of the “made-up Russia story.” To distinguish:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

That’s a made up story. On the other hand:

That’s not made up. The first image shows citizen Donald Trump’s associate Rob Goldstone in an email to Donald Trump Jr., son of the current President. He’s telling Trump Jr. the Russian Government wants to help. The second shows Trump Jr. forwarding a follow-up email from Goldstone to his brother-in-law Jared Kushner and also to Paul Manafort, at the time Donald Trump’s campaign manager. There is no doubt the meeting is about Russia. The subject line reads, “FW: Russia – Clinton- private and confidential.” The fact that they all have Hillary Clinton in mind is obvious. Made up stories need to be made of sterner stuff.

President Trump goaded his loyal supporters with more. Continuing from the New York Times story:

“Most people know there were no Russians in our campaign; there never were,” Mr. Trump told the crowd in a midsize rural town that drew thousands of supporters from across Appalachia, a region that gave Mr. Trump some of the largest margins of his election. “We didn’t win because of Russia; we won because of you,” he said. “Are there any Russians here tonight? Any Russians?”

“[N]o Russians in our campaign?” Nobody ever said there were. “We didn’t win because of Russia.” He did not. And that is not the charge. The charge is Donald Trump was collaborating, or at least attempting to collaborate, with the Russian government, within the American political process. For any purpose.

“Are there any Russians here tonight? Any Russians?” We will never know, because nobody took a census of those attending the rally. And  it does not matter. Regarding whether the Trump campaign sought assistance of any kind last year from the Russian government has nothing to do with having Russians present at the rally in West Virginia. For President Trump’s fans the lack of connection is neither clear nor of any great interest. They are receiving the government they paid for.

Additionally from there is this summary:

First, the Russia story, of course, is not totally made-up. The U.S. intelligence community has determined that Russian President Vladimir Putin “ordered an influence campaign in 2016,” including cyberattacks on the Democratic National Committee, to help Trump win the election. The Department of Justice and Republican-controlled congressional committees are investigating whether there was any coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign. (See “Timeline of Russia Investigation” for more information.)

FactCheck goes on to address President Trump’s jobs talking points:

And what about those manufacturing jobs? Trump is wrong. The U.S. has not added “hundreds of thousands” of manufacturing jobs since Trump became president. The actual figure is 70,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The U.S. had 12,355,000 manufacturing jobs in January, when Trump took office, and 12,425,000 as of July.

There is also reference to another Trump claim regarding jobs. Continuing:

Trump also said, “Since our election — not mine — since our election, we’ve added more than one million new jobs.” This has been a talking point for Trump, but it lacks context.

First, Trump has been taking credit for jobs that were added to the economy while Barack Obama was president, as he did at a rally last month in Ohio. We measure jobs growth under Trump from the time he took office in January. By that measure, the economy has added nearly 1.1 million jobs from January through July, according to the BLS.

But let’s put that 1.1 million figure into context. During that same period a year ago, the U.S. economy added more than 1.2 million jobs — so the nation continues to add jobs under Trump, although at a tad slower pace.

As we’ve written, the U.S. economy has been adding jobs every month since October 2010 — a record-setting 82 straight months, as of July.

And finally. West Virginia is a coal mining state, and Hillary Clinton booted the electorate there by promising to eliminate coal jobs. President Trump did not hesitate to laud himself as the champion of the coal industry:

Mr. Trump repeatedly reminded the crowd of his 42-point margin of victory over Mrs. Clinton in the state. “I love your grit, your spirit,” he said. “And I love our coal miners, and they are coming back strong. The change you voted for is happening every single day.”

The governor, standing on the platform with Mr. Trump is a “billionaire coal and real estate magnate,” and there is no doubt that President Trump has given a shot in the arm to the industry by bucking government regulations. From The New York Times:

WASHINGTON — The Interior Department has ordered a halt to a scientific study begun under President Obama of the public health risks of mountaintop-removal coal mining.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, which was conducting the study, said in a statement Monday that they were ordered to stop work because the Interior Department is conducting an agencywide budgetary review.

The contested mining practice is linked to serious health concerns, as reported by the Times:

Mountaintop removal, which has occurred on at least 500 Appalachian mountains, has clogged streams and waterways with heavy metals such as selenium and manganese, which can be toxic in high concentrations. The dust kicked up by these explosions is also considered a hazard.

One 2010 review published in Science found elevated mortality rates, as well as increased incidence of lung cancer and kidney disease, in counties near mountaintop mining. A 2011 study of central Appalachia found a higher rate of birth defects in the area.

Shortly after taking office, President Trump rescinded a directive issued by the Obama administration that curtailed the dumping practice:

President Trump on Thursday signed legislation ending a key Obama administration coal mining rule.

The bill quashes the Office of Surface Mining’s Stream Protection Rule, a regulation to protect waterways from coal mining waste that officials finalized in December.

From the reported audience response, I am guessing these fine people of West Virginia are getting the government they paid for.

Bad Movie of the Week

One of a series

I will have to admit I couldn’t figure this one out with a single viewing. Some explanation was needed. It’s Devil Girl from 2007, and it features Jessica Graham as Fay a young woman taking a road trip from Hell. There is a lot of symbolism here, which I don’t get, but an upfront note in the title sequence provides a definition:

ar·che·type n. In Jungian psychology, an inherited pattern of thought or symbolic image that is derived from the past collective experience of humanity and is present in the unconcious [sic] of the individual.
Also called Imago.

It’s currently available on Amazon Prime Video, where I obtained these screen shots. Details are from Wikipedia.

Highway signs provide additional symbolism.

Fay is a free spirit, and she takes off in her Chevrolet muscle car. I haven’t figured out why. She picks up spare cash hustling in pool rooms and challenging for speed on the open road.

As the song goes, “There’s a killer on the road.”

We see Joe Wanjai Ross as The Clown, who ditches a stolen motorcycle and looks around for another vehicle to high jack.

We see The Clown take a pickup truck at gun point and then take over a lonely service station using a menacing pistol. Fay runs low on gas and stops, unaware.

Yeah, this is dumb. She leaves her wallet in the car while she goes inside,  and The Clown slips out the back, steals the wallet, and skedaddles.

So Fay is stuck in this dusty burg along Route 66, out of gas, a broken fuel pump, and no wallet. She picks up extra cash showing her wares at a local trucker’s joint.

The town comes equipped with wall-to-wall TV evangelists and a whacked out in-the-flesh holy roller (C.J. Bake)

Then, there is the Devil Girl (Vanessa Kay), who menaces the highway by night and vanquishes the preacher man.

In the end it all appears to  be one of The Clown’s hallucination, and Fay is a nurse. But the Devil Girl is real.

This is a collage of episodes, flashbacks, vignettes, and some scenes shot straight. It includes some very artful cinematic symbology. Also good views and flashes of naked breasts. No dead bodies, as Joe Bob Briggs used to say. If you don’t count the preacher.

The Government You Paid For

Number 6

A few days back I sent a note to Texas Senator John Cornyn. I sent another one weeks before that. See the back link above.

Anyhow, here is the text of my most recent to Senator Cornyn:

First, thank you for responding to my previous note.
The situation is obvious and has been driven home by events  of the past week. The Republican Party needs to distance itself from President Donald Trump, and more so, you and all of Congress need to  repudiate him and his policies and his actions. If you believe continued loyalty to the President is beneficial to you as a candidate or to your Party as a representative of the American people, then you are ignoring a terrible reality. You and the Republican Party can only stand to lose if you do not distance yourselves from this liability.
Congress, and you as a powerful member, have the ability to take necessary action to ensure the well-being of your constituents. Teaming with members of the Democrats in Congress, Republicans can set policy and enact legislation to prevent further damage. A strong rebuke from Congress can force President Trump to pull back from his school yard face off with the North Korean dictator. You can force the Executive Branch to resume its role as a responsible leader in world affairs. And more, all of which is obvious to you.
All that said, as a liberal and a person who tends to vote for Democratic candidates, I view the election of Donald Trump to  be a gift from Heaven, so to  speak. Nothing in recent decades has done more to expose the true nature of right wing politics as has the promotion of a man like Donald Trump to a position of the highest power. If your goal is to promote sincerely held conservative values, then your best play for these times is to show to all voters that Donald Trump does not represent the Republican Party and that the Party still has the ability and the willingness to look out for the American people first.
Background: I am retired, living in San Antonio. I am originally from Hood County, descended from Texans. My great grandmother was born in Texas about the time it was fighting to gain its independence from Mexico.

Much as people might not want to believe, your representatives in Washington will respond to all reasonable mail, in this case a message posted on the Senator’s Web site. As my note indicates, Senator Cornyn’s office responded to my first message. Here’s the response I received related to the above:

Dear John:

Thank you for your recent letter regarding the Trump Administration. I appreciate having the benefit of your comments as our nation transitions to a new administration.

As you may know, President Donald J. Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States on January 20, 2017. President Trump has the authority vested in Article II of the U.S. Constitution as the Commander-in-Chief and President of the United States.

To alleviate the dangers inherent in centralized power, the U.S. Constitution establishes three separate, but equal, branches of government: the legislative, the executive, and the judiciary. Our Founding Fathers developed a system of checks and balances to prevent the accumulation of excessive power in any single branch. Within this system, Congress has the duty to provide critical oversight of the executive branch and determine how taxpayer dollars are spent.

I take this responsibility seriously and am committed to working with the Trump Administration to ensure the will of the American people is heard and the interests of all Texans are represented. I believe open government is an essential requirement of democracy. Transparency allows citizens to view how government operates, permits an honest exchange of information that ensures government accountability, and upholds the American ideal that government never rules without the consent of the governed.

During the 115th Congress, I look forward to addressing the critical issues facing Texans and will continue my efforts to restore America’s fiscal health, help Texas businesses innovate and create jobs, strengthen our national security, support our veterans and military personnel, protect U.S. sovereignty, and tackle our health care challenges.

I appreciate having the opportunity to represent you in the United States Senate. Thank you for taking the time to contact me.


United States Senator
517 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Tel: (202) 224-2934
Fax: (202) 228-2856

You will notice in my message to the Senator, I urged him to work with his Senate counterparts in opposing President Donald Trump. I hinted doing so would be beneficial not only to the Republican Party but also to the nation at large. An implication was that continuing to move lock step with Donald Trump could bring dire consequences. You will also notice the crux of Senator Cornyn’s response:

I take this responsibility seriously and am committed to working with the Trump Administration to ensure the will of the American people is heard and the interests of all Texans are represented.

If I understand that correctly, Senator Cornyn still considers himself to be in President Trump’s camp. He’s following the leader.

As I write, additional Senators are putting distance between themselves and Donald Trump. One such is the junior senator from Arizona, Jeff Flake. The consequences are manifest:

Phoenix crowd last night was amazing – a packed house. I love the Great State of Arizona. Not a fan of Jeff Flake, weak on crime & border!

Yes, there is a price to pay for bucking the Tweeter-in-Chief, and one of two is true:
  • Senator John Cornyn is of like kind with Donald Trump.
  • Senator Cornyn lacks the self assurance to step away.
John Cornyn is up for re-election in 2020, so he is safe from voter retribution for three more years. Senator Ted Cruz is up for re-election next year, and his fate may be a signal to Cornyn. The hope of many Texans, Democrats and Republicans alike, is to see Ted Cruz gone two years from now. If he is replaced by a Democrat, then the signal to John Cornyn may become clear. Whether he will heed my advice will not become known for several more months.
There’s more to come. Keep reading.

Bad Joke of the Week

One of a continuing series

A blonde was suffering severe pain, and she went to see her doctor.

“Doctor,” she told him. “It hurts everywhere.”

The Doctor asked her to show him where it hurt. “Touch the place where it hurts.”

She touched her elbow. “Ouch! That hurts.”

She touched her thigh. “Ouch! That hurts.”

She touched her nose. “Ouch! That hurts.”

“Stop,” Said the doctor. “I see what the problem is. Your index finger is broken.”


New game in town—number 32 of a series

I will reproduce for your reading pleasure a few items:

Nick Adams, “Retaking America” “Best things of this presidency aren’t reported about. Convinced this will be perhaps best presidency ever.”

Few, if any, Administrations have done more in just 7 months than the Trump A. Bills passed, regulations killed, border, military, ISIS, SC!

Few, if any, Administrations have done more in just 7 months than the Trump A. Bills passed, regulations killed, border, military, ISIS, SC!

General John Kelly is doing a fantastic job as Chief of Staff. There is tremendous spirit and talent in the W.H. Don’t believe the Fake News

The Fake News is now complaining about my different types of back to back speeches. Well, there was Afghanistan (somber), the big Rally…..

..(enthusiastic, dynamic and fun) and the American Legion – V.A. (respectful and strong). Too bad the Dems have no one who can change tones!

Phoenix crowd last night was amazing – a packed house. I love the Great State of Arizona. Not a fan of Jeff Flake, weak on crime & border!

For sure President Trump has from time to time spoken in more measured terms, but what are we to  make of these? Keep in mind, they are official communications of the United States Government.

Friday Funny

Number 73 of a series

It’s Friday again, and something is always funny. Sometimes “funny” translates to “can you believe he really said that?” Here is Christian evangelist and convicted felon Jim Bakker laying out the truth for today:

“I believe a rainbow speaks of God’s covenant and over the White House, I think God is telling America He is in covenant with us,” Biltz said. “He is in covenant with us, that’s why it’s over the White House … It represents the nation and God is saying He’s in covenant with us and that why it’s so important for us, then, to heed the warning and to repent. That’s why we also have the solar eclipse coming across, because God wants [us to repent.]”

Of course, God started this message on its way millions of years ago, because that’s how far in the future astronomers can predict solar eclipses with any accuracy. What this fountain of wisdom is telling us is that God also arranged for Barack Obama to be President for eight years, else why would God have previously arranged for this week’s eclipse?

This is humorous almost without parallel.

The Age Of Embarrassment

Number 14 in a series

First of all, take note of the meme posted above. I used that in the previous edition of this series, The Age Of Embarrassment. I didn’t create it. I stole it from my Facebook feed, where some “friend” posted it. Or somewhere else. Rapidly becoming moot.

The post in question apparently caught the attention of a few. Somebody read it. Erik read it. Go back to the previous post and read the comments section:

A million dollars for a two-year health study is peanuts, in terms of government spending, and I imagine the aforementioned Committee costs even less. I wonder if this is mostly penny-pinching based on the principle of “small government” or simply an attempt to silence inconvenient voices. Personally I think it’s the latter in disguise of the former.

Thank you, Mr. Blanton, for this write-up on the Trump administration’s latest ventures. It’s much appreciated.

All right. That made my day. As much as I enjoy receiving your scathing comments:

This author is your typical Deceitful and Dishonest DemonRat. Regardless of labels changing, it makes no difference on his word play on Liberals and Conservatives, the simple Truth is you can’t change the simple FACT DemonKKKrats have always been the Party of Racists with their KKK Wing, Jim Crow Laws, Segregation, and today with their Black Racial Arsonists and Poverty Pimps. Yes, the lone good Democrat in history in JFK called himself a Liberal, bit today he’s be a Far Right Wing NeoCon Teabagger by today’s Leftist DemonRats. It doesn’t change the FACT he was an aberration within the Dems Criminal Organization. JFK of course was murdered by sociopath LBJ, or at least those of US educated on the subject. But like this misleading opionion piece article, he tries whitewashing the Democrats shameful history of RACISM and Corruption that is the Dems past and present history….

[Pardon me for a moment while I recall with fondness that loving embrace from the far right.]

As much as I appreciate responses like this, I do feel a twinge of the heart when somebody says thanks.

So much for that, because it’s not what this post is all about. Here’s what it’s about.

Take another look at the meme. I did, after I posted it and after I basked in the glory. The meme is most totally fabricated. How did I figure that out? I figured it out the same way readers should have figured it out. I checked the facts. I cheated. I used Google. I Goggled “Will McAvoy.” There is no Will McAvoy. He’s a fictional character in a fictional TV series that ran on HBO starting in 2012 and titled The Newsroom. It was created and (so far) mostly written by Aaron Sorkin, the same person who wrote the script for A Few Good Men , previously reviewed, from 1992. Sorkin, an apparent liberal who has contributed consistently to Democratic candidates, also created and contributed much writing for The West Wing, a TV series that ran on  NBC for seven  seasons from 1999. The West Wing was a follow-on of The American President, a 1995 movie scripted by Sorkin and that glorifies a Democratic President.

So, you can see where Sorkin is coming from, and you have to wonder why he cast Jeff Daniels in the starring role as cable news anchor McAvoy, a registered Republican. In The Newsroom McAvoy is Republican, but he disavows the right wing nuts who seem to be tearing his beloved party to shreds, the above meme representing one such revelation.

But there is more that’s wrong with the meme in question. Look at what McAvoy says about hurricanes and gay marriage. People, hurricanes are created by low barometric pressure, not high barometric pressure. And certainly not by gay marriage. And by the way, here is the scene containing the famous quote. The screen shot is from Amazon Prime Video, where the TV series is currently streaming.

That’s Jeff Daniels as McAvoy saying the famous words:

First of all I’m a registered Republican. I only seem liberal because I believe hurricanes are caused by high barometric pressure and not gay marriage.

(To the left side of the screen that’s Sam Waterston as McAvoy’s boss Charlie Skinner, president of Atlantis Cable News (ACN).)

And nobody called me on it. I’m ending this for now, and I am going to some secluded corner for a quiet cry. May Jesus have mercy on your soul.

Your Friend The Handgun

Nothing new here, folks.

Because the Second Amendment allows American citizens to own and carry guns, America is the safest nation in the world. With minor exceptions:

PORT ARTHUR – A boy was accidentally shot by another boy Tuesday afternoon at a home in Port Arthur according to a police spokesperson.

From the Port Arthur Police Department…

Port Arthur Police Officers were dispatched to 3200 42nd Street, a private residence, earlier this afternoon.

Obviously, this is a case of the exception proving the rule. Keep ’em loaded, cowpoke.

Bad Movie Wednesday

One of a continuing series

This one has been hanging out on Amazon Prime Video for a while, and this week (July) I decided to give it a look. Interesting thing is I didn’t watch it on the big TV, just brought it up on my computer and sat through the showing at my desk. It’s π, as spelled in the title or rather Π if you want to capitalize it. As you can guess, there’s going to be some math involved. It came out nearly 20 years ago (1998). Details are from Wikipedia.

It’s a hodge-podge of images and scenes, and it’s in monochrome. Think Last Year At Marienbad brought forward 37 (now 56) years, and substitute technology and math for sex and social conflict, and you get the idea. Only Pi doesn’t have all that endless repetition. I will show some screen shots and skim the plot.

Max Cohen (Sean Gullette) lives alone, and he’s a mental aberration. Due to an early medical convulsion his brain is an organic computer, and he performs amazing feats of mental calculation and sees (or at least looks for) patterns everywhere, including within the decimal representation of pi. In fact, that’s how the movie starts out:


And some more. You get the idea.

Max lives alone, and he’s built this rude computer that does amazing things, although I was never able to figure out by watching the movie what made the computer so special. There is talk about finding patterns everywhere, including in π.

Hold it right there. Full disclosure: I have a college degree in mathematics, and my information is there is good logic to conclude π and other irrational numbers do not contain any patterns. Irrational numbers are numbers that are not the quotient of two integers, and this includes numbers like √2, √3, √5, √10, cube root of 15, and so on. Irrational numbers also include the transcendental numbers, such as π, the natural logarithm of 6, the sine of a 61° angle, and also the ever popular e. There are no patterns. But that’s what this movie is all about.

Max spends his days getting  the computer to spit out a special number, which significance I was never able to determine during one watch-through. He sits at a lunch counter and scribbles numbers on stock market listings. He has the idea the fluctuations of the market have a deeply-embedded pattern he will be able to deduce, once he has solved his riddle.

He is constantly beleaguered by migraine headaches and convulsions, requiring periodic dosing and injections.

At the lunch counter Max is besieged by Lenny Meyer (Ben Shenkman) a Jew (Max is a non-religious Jew), who pries into what Max is doing.

He plays go with his friend and mentor Sol Robeson (Mark Margolis). Sol urges Max to quit the hopeless quest. There is no pattern. Max’s work borders on numerology.

Max interacts with neighbors in his apartment building, one being Devi (Samia Shoaib) the woman who lives next door and who flirts with him. He pays her no mind.

A big concern is to predict the stock market, a goal of many and a factor that brings intrigue and danger into Max’s life.

A persistent woman, Marcy Dawson (Pamela Hart), keeps trying to get face time with Max to a point he can no longer put her off. Things begin to take on a sinister tone.

Marcy’s friends offer Max the use of a special computer chip, and he uses it to recompute a 216-digit number he previously produced and then threw away. This number is the secret to predicting the stock market. Max is unable to print the number, but he has memorized it. Marcy and her friends want the number, and they put the squeeze on Max.

Lenny’s Jewish friends rescue Max and attempt to force him to reveal the number. It will unlock the secrets of the Torah and restore the Ark of the Covenant. Max refuses to cooperate.

He despairs of the whole business and uses an electric drill to perform a trepanning on his head, since shaved.

At the end, in the park, when the young girl living in his building asks him for various mathematical computations, he is unable to do them, while she performs the operation using her hand calculator.

There are parts I left out, mostly stuff I didn’t understand, such as the squishy thing Max finds on the steps in the subway, said squishy thing that responds amazingly when Max prods it.

This is all about number theory. There no sets, no cosets, no differential equations, and no topological congruencies. There’s lots about Fibonacci series and spirals and golden ratios. Probably a semester’s worth of pure math is lost somewhere in here.

The Age Of Embarrassment

Number 13 in a series

There was in the 18th century a period now called the Age of Enlightenment. It was marked by intellectual and philosophical advance, noted predominantly in Europe, but not denied to others. There was born the notion that authority and legitimacy should be founded on reason rather than on social standing and political power. I state this because this series is my argument that we may have entered in this country into the Age of Embarrassment. People at the highest levels are acting contrary to reason, and we are beginning to embarrass ourselves. There is evidence:

(CNN) — The Trump administration has fired another shot at the scientific community, this time dismantling a federal advisory committee on climate change.

Members on the 15-person committee tell CNN they learned the news by email Friday. CNN has obtained a copy of the email sent from acting National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration head Benjamin Friedman.

As the meme posted above would indicate, the Republican Party seems to have passed through the Age of Enlightenment without catching on. We now have a President of the United States who previously declared:

The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.

Considering whether Donald Trump ever backed down from that claim, the core concept has never left him:

They changed the name from “global warming” to “climate change” after the term global warming just wasn’t working (it was too cold)!

Another freezing day in the Spring – what is going on with “global warming”? Good move changing the name to “climate change” – sad!

It’s 46º (really cold) and snowing in New York on Memorial Day – tell the so-called “scientists” that we want global warming right now!

Ice storm rolls from Texas to Tennessee – I’m in Los Angeles and it’s freezing. Global warming is a total, and very expensive, hoax!

We should be focusing on beautiful, clean air & not on wasteful & very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit! China & others are hurting our air

I’m running out of room here. I will just skip over some of these and print one more:

Any and all weather events are used by the GLOBAL WARMING HOAXSTERS to justify higher taxes to save our planet! They don’t believe it $$$$!

So we elected Donald Trump President, and we got what we asked for:

WASHINGTON — President Trump announced on Thursday that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate accord, weakening efforts to combat global warming and embracing isolationist voices in his White House who argued that the agreement was a pernicious threat to the economy and American sovereignty.

In a speech from the Rose Garden, Mr. Trump said the landmark 2015 pact imposed wildly unfair environmental standards on American businesses and workers. He vowed to stand with the people of the United States against what he called a “draconian” international deal.

“I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” the president said, drawing support from members of his Republican Party but widespread condemnation from political leaders, business executives and environmentalists around the globe.

You will note that in his speech President Trump is no longer denying anthropogenic global warming (AGW). He’s just saying it’s bad for business. Except…

Except, the city he named, Pittsburgh (not Paris), does not considered itself to be represented by Donald Trump. The voters of Pittsburgh went overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton in the November election, and the city of Pittsburgh is all in for combating AGW. Again we are reminded we are no longer in the Age of Enlightenment.

So, has President Trump, rather the Department of Commerce under the command of Donald Trump, decided he can go it alone without the benefit of reason, previously provided by those scientists, now dismissed. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is part of the Department of Commerce, and the following is now posted on the NOAA site:

Per §102-3.55 of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, the Federal Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment (Committee) charter expired on August 20, 2017. The Department of Commerce and NOAA appreciate the efforts of the Committee and offer sincere thanks to each of the Committee members for their service.

Please note this action does not impact the completion of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, which remains a key priority for the Department and NOAA. 

Under the Global Change Research Act of 1990, the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) is responsible for climate assessment activities and the quadrennial National Climate Assessment (NCA) report. The NCA integrates and evaluates the findings of the USGCRP in the context of current and projected global climate change trends, both human-induced and natural, and analyzes the effects of current and projected climate change on: ecosystems and biological diversity, agriculture, energy production and use, land and water resources, transportation, human health and welfare, and social systems. USGCRP is implementing a sustained National Climate Assessment process that will ultimately facilitate continuous and transparent participation of scientists and stakeholders across regions and sectors, enabling new information and insights to be synthesized as they emerge.

In 2015, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) established the Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment under the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). The Advisory Committee consists of 15 experts that advise on the engagement of stakeholders and on sustained assessment activities and the quadrennial NCA report.

The diverse membership of the Advisory Committee assures expertise that reflects the breadth of the NCA activities, including: communications, engagement, and education; risk management and risk assessment; economics and social sciences; technology, tools, and data systems; and other disciplines relevant to the sustained NCA process. These non-federal eminent experts also reflect the NCA regional and sectoral interests, as well as the ethnic and gender diversity of the United States. Members are appointed by the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA administrator, in consultation with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director.

For a concise overview of the Advisory Committee, please view our fact sheet.

ANNOUNCEMENT: The Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment is seeking public input on a draft outline of Near-term Recommendations on Sustained Assessment. Comments can be sent to Comments received by August 14, 2017 will be incorporated into the initial draft recommendations.

For further information contact:
Dr. Cynthia Decker, Designated Federal Officer
Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment
1315 East-West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Phone: (301) 734-1156
FAX: (301) 713-1459

Lest you imagine fifteen highly invested scientists and other professionals are being dumped on the street, take note: this is not a paid position:

Members will be selected for appointment on a clear and standardized basis in accordance with Department of Commerce guidance. Each member shall be appointed for a term of one, two, or three years and shall serve at the discretion of the Under Secretary. Thereafter, members may be reappointed for successive terms of two years. To the extent possible, not more than one-third of the total membership shall change in any one year. Members will be appointed as special government employees (SGEs) and will be subject to the ethical standards applicable to SGEs. Members are reimbursed for actual and reasonable travel and per diem expenses incurred in performing such duties, but will not be reimbursed for their time. As a Federal Advisory Committee, the Committee’s membership is required to be balanced in terms of viewpoints represented and the functions to be performed as well as the interests of geographic regions of the country and the diverse sectors of U.S. society.

[Emphasis added]

The CNN item above additionally noted:

The Trump administration’s dismissal of the advisory committee on climate change, first reported by The Washington Post, will not affect the completion of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, according to NOAA, which says the report remains a key priority.

Scientists who discussed this with CNN expressed concern the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), due for release next year, will be suppressed:

A not-yet-released federal report on climate change finds that humans are already witnessing the effects of a warming globe — and the report’s authors are fearing that the White House will intervene before it’s published. CNN’s Rene Marsh reports.

This concern has motivated the unauthorized release of an early draft of NCA4:

A final draft of a key federal report on the science behind climate change has been leaked to the New York Times and made public. The “Climate Science Special Report” (CSSR), produced by the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), is a cornerstone of the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), a periodic study of climate change impacts across US regions. Many wonder how the Trump-Pence White House will deal with this first major US government report on climate change to come across its desk; a report warning that Americans are feeling the harmful impacts of climate change in real time, and therefore “directly contradicts claims by President Trump and members of his cabinet” as noted by the Times. Initially released for public review and comment during the last days of the Obama Administration, the final draft was submitted to the White House for final approval on June 28.

The New York Times has made a copy available online:

A final draft report by scientists from 13 federal agencies concludes that Americans are feeling the effects of climate change right now. The report was completed this year and is part of the National Climate Assessment, which is congressionally mandated every four years. AUG. 7, 2017

A related Times article elaborates:

A final draft of a key federal report on the science behind climate change has been leaked to the New York Times and made public. The “Climate Science Special Report” (CSSR), produced by the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), is a cornerstone of the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), a periodic study of climate change impacts across US regions. Many wonder how the Trump-Pence White House will deal with this first major US government report on climate change to come across its desk; a report warning that Americans are feeling the harmful impacts of climate change in real time, and therefore “directly contradicts claims by President Trump and members of his cabinet” as noted by the Times. Initially released for public review and comment during the last days of the Obama Administration, the final draft was submitted to the White House for final approval on June 28.

In other news, the Trump administration has decided to hold off pursuing the study of the health effects of surface coal mining:

(CNN) — The Trump administration has halted a study of the health effects of a common mining technique in Appalachia, which is believed to deposit waste containing toxic minerals in ground waters.

letter from the Interior Department directed the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine to “cease all work” on a study of the potential health risks of mountaintop removal mining for people living near surface coal mine sites in central Appalachia. The Interior Department acknowledged in a statement that it had “put on hold” $1 million in funding for the two-year project as part of a review of its grants, which is focused on “responsibly using taxpayer dollars.”

I’m guessing, bad for business. Are you embarrassed yet?


Dying to Believe

Some more of the same

This series of posts, appearing one each Tuesday, deals with unnecessary death due to false belief. Some time ago I realized I had been focusing too much on religious belief—faith healing and such. It’s time to  pour some attention onto death caused by alternative medicine (alt-med). Here’s the case of Lorie Atikian:

The quackery-related death of a 17-month-old girl has sent shock waves across Canada. No one aspect of the story is unusual. The scenario is a classic combination of cultural vulnerability, modern urban mythology and quackery.

The Victim

Dead from malnutrition and pneumonia is Lorie Atikian. Eight months before her death on September 25, 1987, Lorie was a perfectly healthy baby. When she died she was nearly bald, covered with deep red rashes, and so emaciated that the paramedics thought they were being tricked by being given a doll to treat.

The Parents

Lorie’s parents Sonia, 38, and Khochadour, 54, are emigres from Lebanon and Syria. In addition to Lorie, the couple has two teenaged children. Like many people these days the Atikian’s were concerned about modern food additives, pesticide residues, and drugs. Their cultural background may have made them a bit more vulnerable, but like most people they held positive attitudes toward “natural” food and medicine. Sonia became enamored with Gerhard Hanswille, an “herbologist.”

The “Herbologist”

Gerhard Hanswille, 55, says that he learned herbology in Germany through self-study and books (Germany has a tradition of folk medicine that includes a great deal of Medieval herbalism). In 1972, Hanswille obtained a mail order doctoral degree in naturopathy from “Bernadean University” (BU) located at that time in Las Vegas, Nevada. BU, which was never approved or accredited to offer any courses, was closed down by the Nevada Commission on Postsecondary Education in 1976. It then moved to California where it operated for several years before eventually becoming “authorized” under the State’s liberal rules (Aronson, 1983). California has tried to close BU but has been blocked by its claim to being a religious school of the Church of Universology (Emshwiller, 1987).

Hanswille owns two “House of Herbs” stores, writes and gives seminars at which he expounds his theories, which include making wax and clay effigies sealed with drops of blood and sperm (notions founded in Monism and Vitalism which are the basis of most primitive folk medicine). Hanswille’s book describes how to heal diabetes, epilepsy, TB, tumors and paralysis by “touchless massage.” Hanswille likens the technique to dowsing for water, something that “not everyone can do.” Sonia paid $450 to take Hanswille’s course.

Much as I take satisfaction laying the deaths of innocents at the feet of Jesus, this time he was apparently taking a few days off.



Quiz Question

One of a continuing series

There’s a lot of stuff out there. Some more than others. On this planet, which is more?

  1. Uranium or lead
  2. Gold or platinum
  3. Sulfur or calcium
  4. Hydrogen or potassium
  5. Sodium or potassium
  6. Copper or zinc
  7. Nickel or aluminum
  8. Silver or nickel
  9. Iodine or fluorine
  10. Oxygen or iron

These are hard. You can use Google. Post your answers on Facebook. It’s interesting which things are more than you expected.

Years of Living Dangerously

Continuing review of Berlin Diary

William Shirer published Berlin Diary in 1941, the year following his departure as a correspondent from Berlin. While the book derives largely from contemporaneous notes, it is not the transcript of a daily ledger. There was difficulty getting his notes out of Germany, considerable danger being attached should they be discovered at the border. At the least, such inflammatory material would have been confiscated. A consequence is that Shirer composed the bulk of the book once safely outside Nazi Germany. This is one of a series reviewing the book.

This installment covers the period 10 May to 20 August 1937, 80 years ago. There are few entries, but some are telling. In May Shirer completed the first draft of what he called “the Indian novel.” A short search does not turn up any such published work. In subsequent weeks German involvement in the Spanish Civil War escalated, and his journal entries dwelt on significant events:

BERLIN, May 30

I have rarely seen such indignation in the Wilhelmstrasse as today. Every official I saw was fuming. The Spanish republicans yesterday bombed the pocket-battleship Deutschland at Ibitza with good result, killing, according to the Germans, some twenty officers and men and wounding eighty. One informant tells me Hitler has been screaming with rage all day and wants to declare war on Spain. The army and navy are trying to restrain him.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (Kindle Locations 950-954). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

BERLIN, May 31

I feel like screaming with rage myself. The Germans this day have done a typical thing. They have bombarded the Spanish town of Almería with their warships as reprisal for the bombing of the Deutschland. Thus Hitler has his cheap revenge and a few more Spanish women and children are dead. The Wilhelmstrasse also announced Germany’s (and Italy’s) withdrawal from the Spanish naval patrol and from the non-intervention talks. Dr. Aschmann called us to the Foreign Office about ten a.m. to give us the news. He was very pious about it all. I was too outraged to ask questions, but Enderis and Lochner asked a few. Perhaps today’s action will end the farce of “non-intervention,” a trick by which Britain and France, for some strange reason, are allowing Hitler and Mussolini to triumph in Spain.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (Kindle Locations 954-961). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

The following month brought home the grim realities of Nazi rule, a portent of much to come:

BERLIN, June 4

Helmut Hirsch, a Jewish youth of twenty who was technically an American citizen though he had never been to America, was axed at dawn this morning. Ambassador Dodd fought for a month to save his life, but to no avail. It was a sad case, a typical tragedy of these days. He was convicted by the dreaded People’s Court, a court of inquisition set up by the Nazis a couple of years ago, of planning to murder Julius Streicher, the Nuremberger Jew-baiter. What kind of trial it was— no American or outside representatives were present— can only be imagined. I’ve seen a few trials before this court, though most of them are in camera, and a man scarcely has a chance, four of the five judges being Nazi party boys (the fifth is a regular judge) who do what they’re expected to do.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (Kindle Locations 961-967). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

Shirer’s surmise was that Hirsch was entrapped, provided with bomb materials and guns, then arrested when he crossed the border into Germany. Neat people, those Nazis.

There was church opposition to Hitler and the Nazis, and there were notorious repercussions:

BERLIN, June 15

Five more Protestant pastors arrested yesterday, including Jacobi from the big Gedächtniskirche. Hardly keep up with the church war any more since they arrested my informant, a young pastor; have no wish to endanger the life of another one.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (Kindle Locations 983-985). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

In July Shirer began to entertain prospects of new job opportunities. Jay Allen with the Chicago Tribune (“Chicago Daily News”) gave him Edward R. Murrow‘s card. Murrow was director of European operations for CBS. On 14 August Shirer’s position became tenuous:

BERLIN, August 14

Universal Service has folded after all. Hearst is cutting his losses. I am to remain here with INS, but as second man, which I do not like.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (Kindle Locations 1002-1003). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

Difficulties reporting from Nazi Germany escalated as the Nazi’s played power games with foreign correspondents:

BERLIN, August 16

Norman Ebbutt of the London Times, by far the best correspondent here, left this evening. He was expelled, following British action in kicking out two or three Nazi correspondents in London, the Nazis seizing the opportunity to get rid of a man they’ve hated and feared for years because of his exhaustive knowledge of this country and of what was going on behind the scenes. The Times, which has played along with the pro-Nazi Cliveden set, never gave him much support and published only half of what he wrote, and indeed is leaving Ebbutt’s assistant, Jimmy Holburn, to continue with the office here.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (Kindle Locations 1004-1008). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

Shortly thereafter Shirer lost his job due to cutbacks in the International News Service European staff. He then began his career with CBS, on the path that would shortly take him to international notoriety.

BERLIN, August 20

I have a job. I am to go to work for the Columbia Broadcasting System. That is, if…. And what an if it is! It is this way: It is crazy. I have the job if my voice is all right. That’s the catch. Who ever heard of an adult with no pretentions to being a singer or any other kind of artist being dependent for a good, interesting job on his voice? And mine is terrible. I’m positive of it. But that’s my situation tonight.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (Kindle Locations 1027-1031). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

Future posts will chronicle Shirer’s radio news postings with CBS in collaboration with Ed Morrow. The world was about to view the onset of another world war in nearly real time. It was a first for this planet.

Bad Movie of the Week

One of a series

Yes, for old and bad movies Amazon Prime Video is the go-to place. I’m trying to get ahead of the game so I can take a few days off, so I’m doing a burst of bad movies this week. And this one is bad. It’s Unashamed: A Romance, from 1938. There’s no Wikipedia entry, so I’m getting details from IMDb.

Sorry, it’s not a really great print. That’s about what’s available from that era. The opening shows a nice looking woman in her underwear, preparing for a day at work and contemplating her love life. She is Rae Lane (Rae Kidd). We are going to be seeing a lot more of her.

Rae has the hots for Robert Lawton (Robert Stanley), her hunk of a boss. Except that her boss doesn’t find her all that appealing. Besides, he’s a hypochondriac, always wasting doctors’ time and taking bottles of pills. Rae convinces the doctor, Dr. Malvin (Joseph W. Girard), to recommend that Robert take some time of and relax. The doctor recommends a nudist camp. This is going to get interesting.

Robert arrives, sees all the naked people, and gets ready to strut his stuff.

Without an explanation why, Rae is there. Now Robert finds her interesting.

A romance develops, hence the title. But along comes Barbara Pound (Lucille Shearer), a pharmaceutical heiress, on the run from unwanted publicity. She and her sidekick, another charming lass, stumble onto the nudist camp while eluding search parties. Not realizing they are on the camp property, they make themselves at home.

Besides checking out each other’s wares, the nudists are entertained by a ventriloquist and his dummy.

For a movie showing all this flesh, it is terribly dull. There is next to zero drama, and we spend most of the 64 minutes worth of celluloid watching naked people play volley ball, splashing in the pool, and (here) doing a sing-along.

Robert takes an immediate shine to Barbara. Rae is suddenly abandoned.

Her loss sinks in and Rae climes to the tip of the stony peak and surveys the surroundings and the remains of her love life. It’s not made explicit whether she jumps.

And that’s the end of the movie.

Yeah, given a gaggle of good-looking, naked women (and men), I could have come up with an interesting plot, and maybe even some intelligent dialog. Watching through it on my big screen I got the idea that somebody had a few thousand dollars and wandered through a studio lot and asked, “Who wants to be in a nude flick?”

The title sequence does not reveal the production company, and neither does IMDb. Amazon on-screen notes relate this film was banned in Boston (surprise, surprise). A theater showing was scheduled without first clearing it with City Censor John J. Casey. The police showed up, and everybody had to leave the theater. Those were the days.

No mention of Academy Awards nominations.